A Problem Like Iraq

A week or so ago, I closed an interesting comment thread because the comments were getting too personal and heated, with a promise to open a new one where we could talk about future actions in Iraq and the Middle East in general.

It seems like a good time to reopen that discussion, as Congress struggles with the issue, and as the press – which I’ll claim had pushed hard against the war since the immediate post-invasion (i.e. as soon as it became real, rather than theoretical) – itself begins to realize that “just quit and come home” may not be an answer without its own set of problems.

So let’s discuss. I’ve argued that Iraq is a strategic failure, because it demonstrated to the nation-states who I hoped to shock into better behavior that we’re actually not all that serious. But it remains a focus for jihadi activity, and more than that, a real country, populated by real people who both suffer because of the war today and are – according to pretty much all authoritative sources – at great risk if we end the war by just coming home.

For myself, I’m in a holding pattern. Part of me thinks that the best course is just to sit and push and prevail – to do what we’re doing now – smarter, hopefully, but to keep paying the price we’re paying – and can arguably afford to pay in reality – in an effort to essentially break the other side. Part of me thinks that there are better strategies – there must be – but, to be honest, I haven’t seen one or cooked one up yet.

So here’s the chance to do it. I’m way overworked, and stressy and cranky in general, so my tolerance for snark and personal slagging is incredibly low at the moment. make arguments. Make passionate, heated ones. But show some respect for the other folks here, or you’ll be shown the door.

152 thoughts on “A Problem Like Iraq”

  1. Unless you espouse the strategy of allowing a civil war to foment and pull in regional actors, by withdrawing to large bases and redeploying back to the States, then we must fight a Counterinsurgency war in all of its aspects, military, political, social and religious. Those are the choices. Who better to do that than the man who wrote the manual, Gen. Petraeus. As this corps-level operation continues, we see that insurgent safe havens are disrupted and secured. This won’t be sufficient to stop the insurgents from attacking, but it will expose them to intelligence. It will allow for the securing of the population, which is the foundation of any government.

    Sit tight, these things take up to 10 years to resolve and we are just in year 3.

  2. I’ve argued that Iraq is a strategic failure, because it demonstrated to the nation-states who I hoped to shock into better behavior that we’re actually not all that serious.

    What do we have to do to prove we’re serious?

    You might have argued, in the early 1980s, that we weren’t all that serious about checking Soviet influence. The left was raging about Nuclear Winter, Nuclear Freeze, the neutron bomb, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Star Wars, and short-range missiles in Europe. The Europeans were being European. The media made a saint out of the treacherous Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan’s hard line policy, staunch as it was, had to wade through the most savage criticism.

    The pay-off for not pussying out of that fight was almost beyond belief.

    The Soviets were not as foolish as their foreign apologists were, and neither are the Islamists. The left can dismiss the rise of democracy in Iraq, and the swift demise of Saddam Hussein, but the enemy cannot afford to pretend that these things didn’t happen. They know this is serious.

    As for shocking nation-states into better behavior, I would have thought that was a remote hope to begin with. And yet, Libya has made an effort to stay out of the headlines, haven’t they?

    The news from Anbar province is good. The “spiraling out of control” phrase sounds less credible these days. The appeasement parties in Europe are losing more often than they win. The Democrats (and no small number of Republicans) have retreated into a “Civil War” meme, which side-steps the war against the non-Iraqi-led Al Qaeda in favor of the pretense that Iraqis are not worth the trouble because they can’t get along with each other. The left is making a spectacular effort to “lead us out of the war on false pretenses”:http://mediamythbusters.com/index.php?title=Main_Page and if this distracted globe is still worth the candle, they will fail.

    So we should turn our back on our friends, because self-interested people (Demcrats who are making political hay and feckless Republicans who are only worried about how much hay the Democrats make) push opinion polls in our faces? Get serious.

  3. Well, just as a thought experiment, let’s suppose we withdraw. Chaos and destruction follow, with Iran, Turkey, and Saudi each controlling a part of Iraq, we have no partners or allies at all left in the region, and AQ operates with impunity throughout Iraq.

    What then? What are the security interests of the United States?

    The Security Interests of the US are to deter any AQ mass casualty attack, and prevent any one nation from dominating the Gulf Oil states, to keep the oil flowing.

    Again, with no partners or allies left at all in the region (this would include Saudi and the Gulf states) what are our options for gaining these security interests?

    Only one: the US Navy. We’d have to increase the Navy five-fold, and essentially conduct various naval bombardment campaigns on regular basis, making “examples” of nations including mass destruction of infrastructure and military forces to enable a coup or regime change. The amount of death and destruction we’d have to rain down upon people would rise to WWII Germany/Japan levels. But it’s doable, particularly if we kill some media people in target countries (so others leave) and all that is left is foreign media which can be embargoed or what have you.

    I don’t think this strategy is desirable among many outcomes but it would at least gain our security … no more 9/11 style attacks (or help for same) and the oil keeps flowing. A whacking great Navy well, whacking nations/people in and around the Gulf. Certainly doable both economically/technically and perhaps also politically if the case is made [Dems if they were smart would propose this … but they aren’t.] It’s certainly DIFFERENT from what we are doing now and plays to traditional American strengths: lots of technology and resources.

    What is quite likely however is a withdrawal because “we want the problem to go away” … see 1938, Peace in Our Time, etc. Terrorism denied as “the cost of doing business in the global economy” and so on. Until the nuclear destruction of two-three of our cities and total war against the Muslim people generally.

    The current blindness of our political elite is their projection of their own station and situations to our distributed enemies. If we make an “agreement” with say, Iran that has no bearing on bin Laden’s group. Or any other jihadi. Or nation that finds it less risky to aid them than stop attacks on us. Nor do we have an enforcement mechanism if Iran fails to live up to any deal. What, the World Court? That’s a laugh. So too the UN.

    Another alternative would be to withdraw, and on the way out pre-emptively nuke Iran’s and Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, announce a double-tit-for-tat policy. We lose American cities, the following nations cease to exist: Saudi, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt. That our policy will be to kill all their people. And build up our arsenal. We establish: “yes the Americans are crazy, they nuked two nations, best not to provoke them” and the means (a build up of nuclear forces).

    There are probably other policies as well that can keep another 9/11 at bay and the oil flowing, but they must both show to potential enemies our willingness (beyond any question) and means to deliver unacceptable levels of pain. Down to the local officialdom level.

    I for one think the current posture, even at current casualty levels, is the most humane and less costly in lives (ours/theirs) policy we can come up with.

  4. In so far as it can be called a failure it is through the deliberate efforts or lack of same
    of its neigbors to stabilize the situation. S. Arabia provided the lions share of the shaheeds,
    from tribes like the Al Ghamdi (Mosul mess) Quahtani
    (Baghdad & Fallujah) Uteibi (the Gitmo detainee detained in Yemen) with Lebanon. Egypt and Algeria providing the rest. Jordan provided sanctuaries for Baathists as well as major players like Zarquawi and lesser figures like Raed el Banna (the suicide bomber in Hilla) Syria, the other Baathist state, has provided sanctuaries as well as safe transit through the Al Quiam crossing. Iran has provided most of the support for the militias; through their
    IRGC/Vevak Sepah contacts; as well as the first two
    generations of IEDs. W. Europe, has chipped in with
    a small slew of jihadists; as well as funds from left sources. And the establishemnt muslim associations in America (CAIR,MPAC, MSA et al; well they provide the infrastructure for propaganda here
    and there.

  5. I’ve expressed my lack of believe that Bush can succeed – short of waiting him out. There will never be a shortage of people willing to kill and maim our troops, or innocents. This will exist both for people who want to further their own goals, or tear down others’.

    We need metrics that reflect this – say, a month of 1 car bomb/5 kidnappings/10 murders per day. Add into that, a country able to defend it’s own borders (though we’ll probably have to be there 10 more years before that can happen). We do not have good ones now, across the board. The ones available on defenselink just don’t seem like enough.

    So
    1) Secure the border – we haven’t done that yet, have we?
    2) Secure supply lines – last I heard, a considerable amount of the troop activities involved ferrying private suppliers to and from places. Over and over again. Route Tampa is the road to Kuwait, right?
    3) Punish Saudia Arabia – we’ll threaten Iran all day long over real and perceived involvement by their professional and amatuers. Yet we do nothing to Saudi Arabia. And find a way to do so against the other nations, since right now we have empty threats of force.
    and
    4) Give Iraqi’s jobs. Those supply lines(and many other suppliers) still employ foreigners, when there are tens of thousands of Iraqi’s who make a living via chaos. Put the state factories back online. 60+% unemployment is going to cause problems, 10% will cause less. And why does the US report this at 30%?

    5) Tell the American people that we need another 5 years of this for success. No empty promises, no equating to 9/11, no predicting apocalyptic failure, no calling your political opponents names.

    Oh yeah – remove the 2005 “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” from the Whitehouse’s Iraq page. Has anyone ever read this and wondered why our National Stratey for Victory looks like a Powerpoint presentation created by worshipping interns?

  6. In some respects, this is a perennial problem for democracies: how to convincingly pre-commit to a strategy.

    AQI’s strategy: create an expensive, bloody, and demoralizing quagmire, to break our national will to continue. They know that we can sustain actual casualty rates and cost almost indefinitely. To win, they have to convince us of the narratives “it can’t be fixed,” “its a civil war,” etc.

    How can we demonstrate our determination to outlast AQI? Political leaders can publicly commit themselves, but everyone knows there’s an election coming. I would be amazed if AQI/Iran throw in the towel before November 2008 – they’ll do anything to keep their narratives going until the election. Perhaps electing a hawkish president is the signal of commitment that we we need.

  7. A House subcommittee recently held a hearing on Iraq alternatives, with testimony from Wes Clark, Dr. Muqtedar Khan, and Max Boot. The House link isn’t up yet, but Gen. Clark’s page has the mp3 of the hearing (which I haven’t listened to yet) and “the text of his prepared remarks.”:http://securingamerica.com/

    The most important quibble I have with Gen. Clark’s caution against “. . .such forceful advocacy of democratization”. I would first of all dispute that Bush’s Iraq policy had much to do with democratization, at least from December 2001-November 2004, when it most counted. Secondly, we can advocate democracy if we want, we just can’t be hypocrites about it, i.e. we can’t bring up democracy without noting the fact that none of our friends in the region are democratic. And we can’t bring up democracy in Iran without apologizing to the people of Iran for deposing their democratically elected leader and replacing him with a Shah. Some conservatives think that apologizing for your mistakes makes you look weak, I disagree.

    That quibble aside, I agree with most of Gen. Clark’s testimony, especially his framing of the problem at the beginning. I also liked some of Hank Johnson’s ideas, which Joe Katzman discussed a while back.

    My constructive suggestions, such as they are, are “{these.}”:http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/01/the_magic_20k.php#comment-124577
    The basic idea is to disengage from Iraq unless legitimate local Iraqi leaders specifically request our presence to protect their local communities. I think the national Iraqi politicians have lost credibility with the Iraqi people, because they are being paid and protected by foreign troops, unlike ordinary Iraqis.

    One other POV I would endorse is George Packer’s: that we have some friends in Iraq, and we have incurred a special responsibility to do what we can to protect their lives and legitimate interests, in Iraq if possible, in America or other friendly places, if necessary (and it will be necessary for quite a few Iraqis).

    [Tweaked at author request to put links in approved WoC format –NM]

  8. darn it.. I read the live url stuff *after* screwing up. Can you fix the link?

    [NM here. I’m trying, but something strange is going on. I’ll advise.]

    [Later: Links are as you posted them; I’m finding that the securingamerica website, contrary to the indications on the spash page, is not letting me proceed to the site without registering. Care to post the direct link? –NM]

  9. What will happen when we leave Iraq? Depends a lot on how we do it. If we leave in a pell-mell rush to the door after we kill hundreds of civilians in some atrocity that pushes everyone over the edge, or if we loose 100 troops in one incident, well, Iraq will be caught in a swirl and there will be bloody civil war. If we leave in an orderly way, there will be bloody civil war in a more planned manner, with larger actions. If we stay as we are, there will be bloody civil war in a slow strangle as it is now. Any way it happens, there’s trouble ahead. In the one thing I agree with bush on, I feel it is important to keep Iraq together. Israel has instructed our neo-cons to want it divided up. If it divides, either in fact or practice, Iran will aid the Shite east and south, becoming the premiere influence in the area and have control of over 200 B barrels of oil. Which they want to sell, by the way. Our old friends, Saudi Arabia will fund the Sunni west, and Al-Queda-Like (AQL) will continue on there as a terror institution. The northern Kurdish area will have trouble with both Turkey and Iran, who will become better friends and partners. Israel will set up secret organizations that operate out of Kurdistan. IF Iraq stays together, and a nationalistic oil program is run ( NOT the bush pushed oil law!), Iraq will be overrun with Iraqis! They will wipe out any disruptive terror groups, to the detriment of Al-Queda.

    I want us out of Iraq as a military force. If we believe in Iraq as a country, then we will have an embassy. There will be enough hard feelings, no matter which way things play out, that our embassy will have to be a fort. Since the “safe area” ( Green Zone?) will have to be big enough that mortars can’t engulf it, we might as well keep that area for all the embassies of the world. I assume the burden of keeping an area safe for national/int’l growth and diplomacy. We will also have to be able to drive out to the airport, so there’s another duty. I accept that we will have to keep 10K fighting troops, out of sight, passive until needed, – aside from known bad guy status protection. “

  10. #1 from RobW: “Unless you espouse the strategy of allowing a civil war to foment and pull in regional actors, by withdrawing to large bases and redeploying back to the States, then we must fight a Counterinsurgency war in all of its aspects, military, political, social and religious. Those are the choices.”

    I think so too. And I think option A is the wise choice.

    #2 from Glen Wishard: “What do we have to do to prove we’re serious?”

    I don’t think we can prove anything to our enemies now, and we shouldn’t try.

    Credibility is about negotiations. We were able to have meaningful negotiations with the Soviets, because they were Russian. We are not ably to have meaningful negotiations with Islam, because it is a “paper program,” because it creates forms of culture that are not even as reasonable as paranoid and jumpy Russian culture, because our demographics reveal our long term weakness, because there is nobody to negotiate with (nobody to make concessions, nobody who can rewrite Islam’s deadlier doctrines and make that stick), and because it’s too late. The Muslim world has gotten away with so much for so long that even a saner culture could not be persuaded at this point that we are not there for the taking.

    We are in the post-negotiation phase. Or rather we are in the same phase as Israel in relation to Hamas: negotiations may persist, but only as the payment of Danegeld to raiders that don’t even feel obliged to pause in their raiding. There is not even potentially any good in such negotiations.

    Our enemies aren’t fighting so that we will offer them something. They are fighting to end us.

    It’s like trying to negotiate with the three guys who show up late in the film McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971). They get paid for killing, nothing else, so unless you are ready to negotiate away your right to keep your head on your shoulders – which would be convenient for them, but they don’t feel an absolute need for such convenience – then compromise is at most a dream of what might have been had you and others taken a different fork in the road long ago; and your future, if you are to have one, is all about self-preservation and steady attrition.

    Our credibility no longer matters. What matters is to grind down the enemy, and find as much security as is possible in defense, separation, and steady, long term hostile resource reduction.

    I think the system of Islam, the doctrine of Islam, has no sense of fair play between itself and the house of war, that is the house of unbelief, meaning us. In an Islamic context, when we fight Islam, we are almost by definition in the wrong. Satan is evil, are we are part of or allied to the Great Satan.

    Also, I think Islam is sufficiently sensitive to opposition, including the provocation of persistent unbelief, that in the long run we will not be able to defend ourselves without doing enough to turn against us our real friends as well as neutrals who remain committed to the camp of Islam. All that will be lost, it is tragic but unavoidable.

    Our insecurity can be seen as enemy will times enemy capacity times our vulnerability. Short of rewriting the Koran to our advantage, which isn’t going to happen, I think we have to live with enemy will being what it is, this side of Islam being so ground down that it does back to the state of relative quiescence it was in during Europe’s recent heyday. We can reduce out vulnerability a little by means such as stopping Muslim immigration, and we should. But mainly, we need less Islam.

    In this context, the project of building up a strong, united Islamic state in Iraq makes no sense to me. That does nothing to diminish Islam, therefore it is useless at best.

    I doubt what we are doing wears down the enemy, because it seems Muslims are prejudiced enough that we cannot fight within the Muslim world without creating more enemies than we kill.

    I don’t much care who will say when we leave that we have betrayed them and they will be our enemies now. That only takes from us what we are bound to lose anyway. If we persist in fighting hard enough to survive, all significant forces that adhere to the camp of Islam will sooner or later say that now we have crossed their red lines.

    And I don’t care who thinks that by withdrawing from Iraq we will be less “credible”. I have no plans for the house of the Great Satan to negotiate anything with the house of Islam anyway.

  11. My previous post is based on a decent and honorable intention. I don’t credit bush with such motives. I believe the chaos is the only tool bush has left that retains his intentions : permanent power bases in Iraq. And control of their oil. I base my future projections on the hope and promise that the Republicans will be repudiated and a sane government can get to work fixing bush’s mess.

  12. “Last year Jens Orback, the Democracy Minister in the former Social Democratic government of Sweden, caused a stir by saying on a state radio program, “We must be open and tolerant towards Islam and the Muslims so that when we become the minority they will be the same towards us.” (Vi mÃ¥ste vara öppna och toleranta mot Islam och muslimerna för när vi blir i minoritet kommer de att vara det mot oss.)” (link)

    This trick won’t work. If you let a lion grow up in your house, letting it do what it wants on the theory that when you are as helpless as it once was as a cub, it will not bother you because you never impeded it – consequences will follow.

    In nurturing Islam, in Iraq and across the world, but especially in our own states, we are trying this experiment on a colossal scale.

    It would be better if we all just watched Grizzly Man (2005), or attended performances of the Oresteia (Aeschylus’ “Plays About Orestes” – just Agamemnon might do), and internalized the meaning of the word “tragedy”.

  13. #9 from Richard W. Crews: “I want us out of Iraq as a military force. If we believe in Iraq as a country, then we will have an embassy. There will be enough hard feelings, no matter which way things play out, that our embassy will have to be a fort. Since the “safe area” ( Green Zone?) will have to be big enough that mortars can’t engulf it, we might as well keep that area for all the embassies of the world. I assume the burden of keeping an area safe for national/int’l growth and diplomacy. We will also have to be able to drive out to the airport, so there’s another duty. I accept that we will have to keep 10K fighting troops, out of sight, passive until needed, – aside from known bad guy status protection.”

    Oh yeah, our embassies…

    My recommendation is not to bother. Abolish them.

  14. #6 from Timothy: “Perhaps electing a hawkish president is the signal of commitment that we we need.”

    Didn’t we do that last time? The United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia all returned the most resolute governments available.

    If Iraqis were waiting for a sign from us that we were serious, to then commit to the democratic cause, that should have done it.

    About four out of five Iraqis blame the Americans for the bad security situation in Iraq, saying the Americans make things better not worse, and upwards of six out of ten approve of attacks on Americans, which I’ll sum up simply as: they want us dead.

    I don’t think it matters what signals we send.

  15. Re: #5 from Dave…

    Thanks for the link, Dave.

    I stopped reading White House information some time back. I see I’ve been missing out on a comedy.

  16. We need to get real clear about our goals. When the goals are unclear we can spin back and forth about whether we’re winning or losing, and then after we lose we can spin back and forth about whether we won or lost.

    Our goal can’t be to have a friendly iraqi government in the short run. The only US-friendly iraqis are Allawi’s faction, and if there was an election today they couldn’t get more than 4%. If we can get stability for iraq there’s every reason to expect they’ll thank us kindly and tell us to go away. They don’t want to give us permanent bases. They don’t want to give us long-term oil contracts. And if they do, they’ll get a revolution and a new government that reneges on the agreements. Because they just don’t want to.

    We can likely get a friendly government in iraq in the long run almost no matter what we do. Look at vietnam. They aren’t holding a grudge, and neither will iraq. We stayed in korea, we left vietnam, relations with both countries are fine.

    So the only way we get to keep our army in iraq is if the violence continues, and we don’t *want* it to continue indefinitely. Control of the oil isn’t worth it when there’s enough violence to limit oil exports. So our goal will be to reduce the violence enough to get stability, and then we leave. Because staying isn’t in the cards.

    But we do want bases in the middle east. So we want to make sure that kuwait is still available to us. It would be real good to make friends with syria and get bases there, but we can’t do that until they have peace with israel, so that’s hard. Maybe negotiate with syria, get them their israeli peace, give them some money, and move in bases that get them more money. They have a democratic government set up — an empty shell “because of the current emergency”. Get peace with israel and peace with the USA and they might start feeling like the current emergency isn’t quite as emergent as it used to be. We maybe could do some good that way. And we’re using up our welcome with turkey. We could supply the kurds through syria if we can get it real clear with the kurds that they aren’t going to cause kurdish trouble in syria while we’re there.

    So, our goals in iraq would be to neutralise AQI, and to bring stability, and reconstruction, and let the democratic government flower, and as soon as they think they can handle it on their own they’ll throw us out. That isn’t a failure, that’s the reward for a job well done.

    Neutralise AQI. AQI has some salafist friends, maybe more friends than we have but still not a whole lot. And they had some people who tolerated them because they were fighting us. They’re already wearing out their welcome. Presumably they’ll rededicate themselves to fighting us and not random shias, and they’ll get more tolerance again. And at that point — after they’re gone we can leave, and after we’re gone they’ll have to leave. In salafi-only areas they might get tolerated for who they are, but everywhere else it’s only because the people who want to fight us need all the help they can get. Get the other guys peaceful and us gone, and nobody needs them. They’ll be gone too.

    Stability. What that desperately needs is a political deal. Sunnis need to feel like they have enough say in government that they do better to bargain than to fight. That means, first, let Ba’ath run as a party in the elections. Arrest people who did Ba’ath crimes under Saddam, and let the others run for office. We were wrong to prevent that in 2003, and we can let the iraqi government reverse that now, if they want to.

    If it’s true that sunnis are too outnumbered, then the government needs a way they can block things that oppose their interests. The way the USA did that was to have a senate where each state got the same number of senators. Small states had a veto. But slave states didn’t have a veto and we spent 70 years with them maneuvering to keep from becoming a minority in the senate until they gave up and fought. If there aren’t enough sunni provinces, maybe Anbar could get split up into smaller provinces that would each get senators? Maybe there’s some other way to manage, something that fits iraqi culture better. Point out the problem to the iraqi government and let them find a way to resolve it. Shias want to be in control, they don’t particularly want to allow a sunni veto. But sunnis need something that’s *close enough* to a veto or why should they play?

    If we’re serious about stability, we should spend money for it. The whole iraqi government budget is only what we spend on our military in iraq in 2 months. Put in some extra money and distribute it to local governments. “You won the city election, you’re the legal government, here’s money to keep the streets clean and rebuild your water works, and set up a city police force. Use it wisely or somebody else will win next year.” Local people who will do some graft but who need — and can get — some quick results. And the fewer hands the money goes through before it gets to them, the more of it gets to the cities.

    Every town and city wants to keep order. They each like the idea that the US military will stay out as long as they maintain order themselves and they don’t cause trouble elsewhere. Thirty billion dollars invested in local government could restore a lot more order and incidentally do a lot more reconstruction than 2 months of US patrolling.

    Democracy. The more local democracy we can support, the better. Local democracy feels realer. You get a better idea what happens. When it goes wrong it’s more obvious what went wrong. If democracy works in iraq it will be for the same reasons it worked in england and USA. You get about the same chance to win you’d get from a war, but it’s much much cheaper. English democracy started with nobles in an uneasy power balance against a king. Those were the ones who had the power, so those were the ones who got to vote. Over the years the vote extended to more people as their opinions mattered. Similarly, iraq needs a democracy where the votes in parliament roughly correspond with the size of the militias backing each party. Then the militias aren’t a threat to the government, they’re its strongest supporters. If you lose a vote and fight over it, you’re likely to lose the fight too. So easier to go along, unless you lose everything by not fighting. This is easiest to understand at the local level, and then the lessons extend to national politics. And most of the fighting is local. Get a local organisation that maintains order for itself and they’ll choose what to do when insurgents from elsewhere move in.

    I haven’t said anything about military strategy. That’s because military strategy isn’t very important. Our goal is to get the iraqis to stop fighting. Mostly what our military is good at is killing them when they fight us. There’s nothing wrong with that, but getting them to stop fighting by supporting one side until all the other sides feel like they’re defeated could easily take a large US military presence for 10 years or more. We aren’t good at fighting long bloody wars that look pointless, we never have been. We like a war with a clear moral, that we can make a big effort and win fairly quick. If this was WWII wouldn’t it be just about over by now? Get the iraqi government pretty sure the economic aid will continue for at least a year after the troops are gone, and I expect they’ll want us out as soon as we can leave in good order. See, they’re trying to figure out who’s important enough to cut deals with, and we’re killing voters.

    Here’s one military thing, though. We need to make a clear distinction between occupation troops and shock troops. Occupation troops stay in one area and get to know the people and help out. One of their jobs is to help persuade insurgents that there are better ways to get what they want (us gone, and also other goals) than fighting. Shock troops come into an area where an insurgency needs to be destroyed, and shoot at insurgents and suspected insurgents. They should try to avoid killing civilians but when it’s a choice between killing civilians and letting suspected insurgents go free, obviously it’s more important to kill. After they achieve their mission they should *leave* because a lot of the survivors will have hard feelings. They can go stomp some other insurgents somewhere else. Every time you use shock troops it’s a defeat, but sometimes you have to.

    “quote”:http://usmilitary.about.com/od/terrorism/a/iraqtraining.htm
    “Coming to this area, we knew there was a strong insurgency here,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Kimener, an intelligence officer assigned to MTT 3/5. “We were all hoping for some action — we didn’t know it would be everyday, but this is what we live for in the Marine Corps.”

    These are not guys you want to spread democracy and end the fighting. These are guys you put into the places where there’s no hope, where the best you can do is kill people until they give up.

  17. “Part of me thinks that there are better strategies – there must be – but, to be honest, I haven’t seen one or cooked one up yet.”

    The majority of the Iraqi people at least think it is acceptable to kill Americans. A sizeable chunk of the population actually wants Americans killed.

    The freely elected Iraqi president has asked us to leave Iraq (more than once). If we leave we are not showing weakness. We are obeying the request of a sovereign nation for us to stop an occupation.

    There can be little question that the civil war started a couple years ago and will continue idefinitely if we stay in Iraq.

    Fears (or at least slick sound bites) concerning Al Qaeda taking power in Iraq are overblown. The majority of the insurgents are Iraqis not-identifying as AQ. AQ is a minor presence and one that is becoming increasingly resented by the Iraqi people. There is much to suggest that AQ will exterminated by the Iraqis once they are no longer useful allies in the fight against American occupiers.

    Our continued presence in Iraq exaccerbates Islamic negative sentiment toward us – resulting in more terrorists/insurgents – rather than impressing Islamic people as to the US resolve, etc.

    The Iraq war is very expensive and I have not heard any war advocates propose as to how we can continue to pay for it for the next 10 – 20 years without damaging our economy, our military and our homeland security infrastructure.

    The Iraqi people are not children. They are perfectly capable of working their own societal structure and governance. Blood will be shed in the process whether we stay or go. Blood was also shed in the evolution of America. It is the height of arrogance and folly to suggest that we should or can alter this course in a foreign land.

    We must leave Iraq quickly and completely. That is the “better strategy”.

  18. #16 from J Thomas: “Our goal can’t be to have a friendly iraqi government in the short run. The only US-friendly iraqis are Allawi’s faction, and if there was an election today they couldn’t get more than 4%. If we can get stability for iraq there’s every reason to expect they’ll thank us kindly and tell us to go away. They don’t want to give us permanent bases. They don’t want to give us long-term oil contracts. And if they do, they’ll get a revolution and a new government that reneges on the agreements. Because they just don’t want to.”

    That seems to me to be the case. Thus far, we are on the same page.

    #16 from J Thomas: “We can likely get a friendly government in iraq in the long run almost no matter what we do.”

    I don’t think that’s so.

    But if it is true, we should leave immediately. We should not pay a bloody price for long term goodwill we’ll get for free anyway.

    #16 from J Thomas: “So the only way we get to keep our army in iraq is if the violence continues, and we don’t want it to continue indefinitely. Control of the oil isn’t worth it when there’s enough violence to limit oil exports.”

    And we won’t control the oil anyway. And it was never possible that we would. The most that was hoped was that the Iraqis, being incredibly oil rich, might use their oil money to do their own post-Saddam rebuilding instead of bleeding us – and that was an impossible hope too.

    #16 from J Thomas: “So our goal will be to reduce the violence enough to get stability, and then we leave. Because staying isn’t in the cards.”

    I do not understand this “so”.

    As noted earlier, Iraqis are not our friends. And this is war. That means, if they want something, at minimum let them pay for it. We should look out for ourselves.

    #16 from J Thomas: “But we do want bases in the middle east.”

    Should we though?

    If other countries want us to have bases there, for their own security, let them pay for them.

    #16 from J Thomas: “It would be real good to make friends with syria and get bases there, but we can’t do that until they have peace with israel, so that’s hard. Maybe negotiate with syria, get them their israeli peace, give them some money, and move in bases that get them more money.”

    I don’t think your objectives with regard to Syria correspond to the character of the regime.

    I think Syria’s preferred piece of Israel would be “all of it”.

    I think the idea of giving our enemies money in order to give them more money is thoroughly undesirable. We should not give our enemies money.

  19. _For myself, I’m in a holding pattern._

    Me too. I am waiting for General Petraeus to report back in September. Most of the rest of what’s going on doesn’t have a lot of relevance, particularly the Congressional slumber party.

    Still, I doubt the General will be in a position to report back much. Cordesman has said it has taken 6 months to a year to evaluate new tactics in Iraq. The results are likely to be mixed, the plea for more time ignored.

    What most of this discussion tends to lack is any larger strategic context. I am not sure Iraq is a problem to be solved in and of itself. What are the threats America faces? What are its interests in other parts of the world? Then tell me how Iraq fits into.

    The larger strategic issue that is sticking in my mind is reflected in this “review”:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/07/fighting-for-faith/ of Ralph Peters’ new book:

    bq. _To Peters, we have exited a brief aberration of conflict and reentered a much longer era of fundamental struggles over God and blood. Now that the brief age of ideology is over, he thinks we are returning to the recurring tides of human history existence in which wars were fought over blood and belief, not over political systems or resource distribution. This is a profound distinction, and one that many politicians, officers and civilian experts cannot seem to fathom. “No matter how vociferously we deny it,” Ralph notes, “our wars will be fought over religion and ethnic identity.” The author leaves the reader with little doubt that those wars will be brutally savage and protracted._

    The call for retreat from Iraq is in response to disgust over blood and belief. It is felt that we have no adequate military response to such weapons. If true, then we can predict such weapons to be deployed again and again. What then is our solution? Well one thing we could do is support and strengthen pluralistic states in which its citizens act as stakeholders in a civil society and not as sheep. That dream may be dying with current administration. I think Jim Rockford points out the more probable alternatives.

  20. I’ve had a tough time making up my mind on Iraq (well, I guess most people have). I didn’t want to go intially, because of the chance that things could go very, very wrong. In my opinion, that’s already happened, and this administration hid behind minor successes while the country collapsed around them.

    Now my question is… Can Iraq be saved? If we can, whatever we spend will be worth prevent the hell hole that would be forthcoming If Iraq cannot be saved, every dollar we spend is postponing the inevitable. I guess a third option is delaying until there is some basic stability in the Sunni/Shia/Kurd areas are seperately stable (the Kurds are already there). this third option also prevents the return of Jihadi warriors to their Soveirgn nations (which will continue to screw up the middle east). However, I have no delusions that staying in Iraq will neccessarily prevent homeland terrorist attacks.

    So the question becomes, which of these three options best describes Iraq? For a long time I argued that Iraq was not dead, but dying rapidly, and some basic problems had to be addressed (ASAP) to prevent a worst case scenario. In my opinion, the Iraqi goverment is now in its final gasps. They haven’t passed any legislation in months, it takes them several hours every day just to get enough senators(?) to make quorom (let alone to pass legislation). The Sunni/Shia parties appear to be just standing pat and stocking up for an end they feel is near.

    The Iraqi military has failed to materialize. It is believed that many of the trained troops/police take their training and report back to local militias. These militias undermine the american military in order to dominate regional control. I don’t see this trend reversing anytime in the near future.

    Finally, nothing is being done to repair the basic neccessities needed for daily life. The Iraqi goverment has the money, but not the resources to fix the country, and every day skilled workers are fleeing the country for their safety. Those left behind don’t trust the streets anymore. Many women don’t go out at all. It’s not just religious militias/terrorist groups, it’s also local mobs and gangs that are using the chaos to their advantage, looting and raqueteering the locals.

    Our military can probably secure part 3 (although, not with the current troop level), but if we don’t find a band-aid for parts 1+2, I don’t think our effort will make much difference. So, assuming I’m correct (which many people here do not), we are either wasting gas driving down a dead-end street, or running the car in neutral while waiting for a construction crew to finish their job.

  21. “Well one thing we could do is support and strengthen pluralistic states in which its citizens act as stakeholders in a civil society and not as sheep.”

    This is an interesting to toss out there. What makes anyone think that the Iraqis are acting as sheep; that sheep like behavior is what is causing the trouble in Iraq?

    I see nothing to support such a hypothesis other than that strange American belief that,given a chance, all people everywhere will behave like Americans and that the absence of American like behavior can only be caused by some form of oppression from above.

    Am I reading you correctly PD Shaw? If so, could you elaborate? This would seem to be a cornerstone of your (and many others) approach to the current situation and thus is an important point.

  22. In considering the rationale of the war, I think this piece from the Corner is critical:

    A Theology of Freedom [Rich Lowry]

    David Brooks in his column today quotes part of a passage from the Bush interview on Friday that hits on something that has long bothered me—Bush’s theology of freedom. Here are some passages were Bush talked about it on Friday:

    —There is such thing as the universality of freedom. I mean, I strongly believe that Muslims desire to be free just like Methodists desire to be free.

    —The other debate is whether or not it is a hopeless venture to encourage the spread of liberty. Most of you all around this table are much better historians than I am. And people have said, you know, this is Wilsonian, it’s hopelessly idealistic. One, it is idealistic, to this extent: It’s idealistic to believe people long to be free. And nothing will change my belief. I come at it many different ways. Really not primarily from a political science perspective, frankly; it’s more of a theological perspective. I do believe there is an Almighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom. And I will tell you that is a principle that no one can convince me that doesn’t exist.

    —[Picking up in a riff about the Far East…]…Now Japan is an ally in peace who actually committed troops into — defensive troops into Iraq. And it’s a remarkable development in a part of the world that was a very troubled and dangerous part of the world for U.S. interests. And I ascribe a lot of that to, one, U.S. presence, allowing for the inevitable to happen. And the inevitable is forms of government that are based upon liberty.

    Now, they don’t always look like the United States, nor do they advance at the pace that some of would want…

    …As I say, it’s an interesting analogy. And of course, this situation in the Middle East will look differently, it will evolve differently, but we’ve got all the same odds of achieving the same result. It may take longer, and it’s certainly very difficult. But America must never lose faith in the capacity of forms of government to transform regions.

    Perhaps Methodists and Muslims do equally desire freedom, but Methodism, as a movement that grew out of and thrived in 18th century Anglo-America, would seem to me to be more naturally compatible with an individualistic, liberal democratic order. Culture matters, and that’s something Bush is very reluctant to acknowledge. You can believe freedom is a gift from the Almighty and still recognize that some cultural soil is more or less compatible with supporting political systems that protect liberty. But Bush believes the spread of liberty is “inevitable.” If that is the case, why not spare ourselves all the effort and let the inevitable flowering of liberty take hold? Now, he does say that there will be different expressions of liberty and a different pace—”but we’ve all got the same odds of achieving the same result.” That strikes me as flat-out wrong, an otherwordly leveling of all the culture and history that separates various societies. In my view, people don’t desire freedom first and foremost, but order, and after that probably comes pride (liberty can be an important expression of pride—because people, as a matter of pride, want to govern themselves, and free systems are the most apt to produce the sort of outcomes in which people can take justifiable pride).

    07/17 01:19 PM (link)

    The American president frankly said that for him this is theology. He calls for faith. (America must never lose faith – in a certain religious/political doctrine.) He boldly says that his firm beliefs on this topic cannot be changed. (Evidently no amount of evidence and no reasoned argument will to the trick.) And in this doctrine, religion does not matter, culture does not matter.

    If you share the American President’s faith in the unimportance of religion, then this war may be well founded. I have no doubt the American President is acting in good faith.

    My religion, my faith, is not the American President’s. For me, this war is not well founded.

    I suggest people seriously consider the things the American President said. Do you believe that’s true? Or do you believe something else?

    Do you strongly believe that Muslims desire to be free just like Methodists desire to be free, and do you strongly believe that Muslims desire others to be free just like Methodists desire others to be free?

    Really?

  23. Certainly we have problems in Iraq:

    -The Iraqis can’t seem to stay on message about whether or not they want us to stay or go. This tells me that A) they really don’t like armed foreigners running around in their country and B) they are setting up for the post-American political showdon. No big surprise there, but if they were really scared about a U.S. departure, they don’t seem to be showing it. This gets me thinking that we ought to be considering pulling troops out or at least back.

    -If we do leave, we may have to send in more troops to make sure the disengagement process goes smoothly. Why? Because I think that a lot of our current friends and allies will step up attacks on American forces so that they can get “street cred” in being seen to have forced the evil occupiers out of the country. We are already seeing this in Basra, where the Shia militias are now going after the Brits on a really substantial scale now that the Brits are visibly pulling out.

    I don’t really think that we are going to see an Al Qaeda state in the aftermath of a U.S. pull out, but I am concerned about massive ethnic cleansing, Turkey moving in to punish the Kurds and a pro-Iranian militia gaining power in the South.

    So if we pull out I would move forces into the Kurdish area (Kurds will probably be happy to have us there to protect against the Kurds and maybe the Sunnis) and we are going to have to find some way to arm and train the less Iranian influenced Shia militias.

  24. Any leader from the past would laugh at us. We are simply not willing to pay the price to win. And we are fighting the way our enemy fights best. The best we can hope for is that after we lose a major city in the US, that the press and public will finally wake up to the fact that yes, Virgina , they really DO want to kill us.
    My Left buddy wants us out of Iraq- “no matter what happens”. Thinks US troops are slaughtering civilians right and left. Everything is Bush’s fault, and there is an underlying suspicion that he rigged the WTC attack as well. The level of hostility is so great i think he would rather live under Sharia than have Bush as Prez.
    Absolutely no concept of future possibility’s, good or bad. I am sure in 1938 he would have been standing on the tarmac cheering Chamberlin.
    With half the country thinking this, how can we win?

  25. J. Thomas, I agree with much of what you say (#16), so, of course, here are my disagreements:

    _Our goal can’t be to have a friendly iraqi government in the short run._

    I don’t like the word “friendly.” As a matter of personal relations it suggests someone who would go out of their way to do something for you. As a matter of international relations, I think few countries would probably qualify. I think the phrase the President tends to use is more useful: a country that will be a solid ally in the global war on terror. For Iraq I think this requires two things: (1) a country sufficiently stable and free from civil strife that it can prevent al-Qaeda and similar Sunni groups from setting up shop and (2) a country sufficiently independent of Iran that it does not become a haven for its revolutionary terrorists. Neither of these things depend a lot on the subjective demeanor of Iraq, but more on what I believe are the natural affinities of Iraq.

    _It would be real good to make friends with syria and get bases there._

    Don’t agree. Don’t see it happening.

    _I haven’t said anything about military strategy. That’s because military strategy isn’t very important._

    The al-Qaeda strategy is to provoke a civil war over God and blood. That’s their chief weapon against the goals you set forth. General Petreaus has a military strategy to de-escalate that brewing conflict and give the Iraqi politicians the needed time to make the compromises. These compromises are not easy and they are certainly made less so when constituents complain that they’re being killed by the the other side (whether true or not). I don’t see this as a ten year strategy, more like 10 months, but my sense is that Congress won’t give it that much time.

    _These are not guys you want to spread democracy and end the fighting._

    I don’t think that guy is representative of the discipline of our armed forces. Or stated another way, there’s always a guy like that.

  26. “And we can’t bring up democracy in Iran without apologizing to the people of Iran for deposing their democratically elected leader and replacing him with a Shah.”

    I was reading along with interest, roublen, until I stumbled over that. I found myself unable to gather up any more interest in your post given the blatant anti-historicality of that statement. You can make a nigh unshakable case for past American hypocracy when it comes to promoting democracy – that I don’t deny – but that little meme won’t be part of it. It suggests to me that you’ve not done as much primary reading on our history in the region as you should, but are instead relying on a common but highly misleading meme that you’ve heard but never verified.

    Fortunately, you don’t seem like the sort that is unable or unwilling to do the necessary research.

  27. #22: David, excellent post.

    And, just because I like to keep hammering this, it’s just another peice of evidence that the basic philosophy animating Bush is liberalism strongly informed by his own born again Christianity. Bush presents an argument that is optimistic, optimistic about human nature to the point of being humanism, progressive in its outlook, inherently statist in its conviction of the power of political systems to transform people, and makes the same assumptions about the role of culture and religion as multi-culturalism.

    Those beliefs can have powerful persuasive arguments behind them, even when presented in his ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident form’, but whether you believe in them or not one thing that they are not is conservative.

  28. “I’m finding that the securingamerica website, contrary to the indications on the spash page, is not letting me proceed to the site without registering. Care to post the direct link?”

    Here is the “direct link”:http://securingamerica.com/node/2552

    On the splash page there’s a link to “Click here to skip sign up and go to Securing America.com” It worked for me. Do you have cookies disabled? I linked there because the main page had links to other Iraq posts

  29. _What makes anyone think that the Iraqis are acting as sheep; that sheep like behavior is what is causing the trouble in Iraq?_

    My statement was not intended to be descriptive, it was intended to prescribe a problem to be avoided.

    Look, we’re talking about violence created by a relatively small segment of society. At some level, America cannot stop that violence, because we are not committed to staying forever, nor do we have the troop levels, nor do we have the intelligence. Ideally, we want Iraqis to have the ability and the investment to root out these people and take over that job.

    But if the government is too weak or corrupt or insecure, it will not be able to protect its citizens from reprisals for helping locate insurgents/terrorists/militias. If the Sunnis are not invested in Iraq, they won’t provide the government the intelligence either.

    Then you are sort of left with Jim Rockford’s scenario of the U.S. bombing *suspected* terrorist sanctuaries. The innocents who failed to risk their lives and those of their families are the sheep.

  30. In many ways, the Methodist Church was created by the American Revolutionary War. But I think the more important statement of belief is found in this revolutionary document:

    bq. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    This is the civil religion of America.

  31. From David Blue (#10)

    bq. #1 from RobW: “Unless you espouse the strategy of allowing a civil war to foment and pull in regional actors, by withdrawing to large bases and redeploying back to the States, then we must fight a Counterinsurgency war in all of its aspects, military, political, social and religious. Those are the choices.”

    bq. I think so too. And I think option A is the wise choice.

    Thank you for making it clear that you’ll be responsible for the consequences.

    I firmly believe that option B is achievable, while it sounds as if you don’t think so. We have the capacity to continue the fight in terms of casualty rates, financing, deployment levels (keep in mind that troops were in theater for the entirety of WWII) and strategy. Furthermore, we have evidence that Iraqis want to participate at all levels: local, provencial and national, and facets: security, political and economic.

    We have a responsibility to see this through.

  32. Well yes, it’s complicated. I don’t mean to imply that “Mohammed_Mossadegh”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Mossadegh
    was completely a victim, or completely in the right. But this, from the Wikipedia page, is what I was getting at:

    “To this day, Mossadegh is one of the most popular figures in Iranian history[citation needed], though he is generally ignored by the government of the Islamic Republic. Despite his stature as a nationalist he is shunned because of his secularism and western manners.[16]”

  33. There is no way we can push through and wear out the other side. We’re never going to care as much as they will – because its their country, not ours.

  34. Avedis — I think the evidence available says you are flat wrong about AQ-I not being the driving force of both the violence and the winner in Sunni-land if we leave. Hugh Hewitt and Belmont Club have excerpts from Petraues’s interview with HH on AQ in Iraq. Petraeus certainly thinks AQ-I are responsible for most of the horrific Sunni violence. Michael Yon who is actually there embedded with troops thinks so. And as a practical matter if we withdraw it becomes a fight for power in Iraq.

    You might subscribe to pan-Iraqi nationalist feelings but actual Iraqis killing each other across sectarian lines puts the lie to that belief. If/When we withdraw we will get nothing but naked power struggles along the lines of Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Sunnis will turn to AQ for leadership (Al-Baghdadi was of course a fictional character, made up by AQ to cover the total domination of foreigners). Perhaps with overt Saudi sponsorship. The Turks will intervene to punish the Kurds and protect the Turkomen. The Iranians will intervene to protect the Shia.

    Perhaps this is a desired outcome, certainly those three forces fighting each other over the corpse of Iraq will replicate to some degree the Iran-Iraq War. One will win though, very likely Iran who is our enemy.

    But Iraq is in many ways a sideshow. Just today Pakistani Jihadis in the SOUTH blew up Chinese dam workers and engineers. Yes, you heard that right.

    Pakistani Jihad is picking fights with CHINA.

    If Jihad will pick fights with CHINA, how do we deter Jihad from nuking us?

    I think David Blue is right, we are now post-deterrence and in a larger fight for our culture. It IS a war of civilizations. The only choice we have is to submit to Islam, or fight to remain free. If we are going to fight we will have to destroy the enemy (that’s the Muslim people) ability to fight and will to fight. That means infrastructure, means of travel to the West (as well as deporting Muslims and closing Mosques) as well as general destruction to demoralize their will to jihad.

  35. Strauss and Howe back in their 1997 book ‘Fourth Turning’ stated that “late in the Unraveling” period, set to end sometime after 2005 or so …

    “any wars will be fought with great moral fervor, but without consensus or necessary follow-through.”

    That about gets it, doesn’t it? Of course, what follows is the Crisis, arising directly from the political dithering so characteristic of the Unraveling.

    The Dems are playing their usual role with great aplomb. The Repubs continue to be appropriately dense … as we all slide towards the abyss.

    Once we get to the point at which Iraq is understood to have been a preliminary side-show, today’s politics will be seen as both amusing and infuriating.

  36. “Well yes, it’s complicated. I don’t mean to imply that Mohammed_Mossadegh was completely a victim, or completely in the right.”

    And what I’m getting at was the Shah was the lawful ruler of Iran by Iranian law regardless of the success or failure of American intervention. We didn’t put him in power, and we didn’t depose Mossadegh. The Shah was already in power, and it was the Shah that deposed Mossadegh. We just encouraged him, only he didn’t listen until it was almost too late. Indeed, the CIA after action report of the intervention in Mossadegh’s coup attempt records that the CIA efforts were basically a failure. Likewise, calling Mossadegh an elected leader is doubly deceptive It was not America that installed the Shah as the ruler of Iran; rather, it was the loyalty of the Iranian military to thier king. All our attempts at white and grey propaganda basically had little real impact on events in Iran. This is well documented. Pretending that America is the principle actor in the affair is an act of hubris, self-flaggelation, or both.

    The reason this is such a big deal to me is that its one of the two American interventions that the left is likely to get fired up about, but thier simplified version of events is entirely anti-historical and ignores all the complexity of the real event while at the same time pretending America’s small role in the actual event was the most critical and important. Basically, it annoys me doubly for treating the inhabitants of foreign nations as if they were simpletons, children, and guileless, while treating America as if was an all powerful force of unquestionable evil. Neither is an accurate characterization of America’s role in Iran or Chile.

  37. “Avedis — I think the evidence available says you are flat wrong about AQ-I not being the driving force of both the violence and the winner in Sunni-land if we leave. Hugh Hewitt and Belmont Club have excerpts from Petraues’s interview with HH on AQ in Iraq. Petraeus certainly thinks AQ-I are responsible for most of the horrific Sunni violence. Michael Yon who is actually there embedded with troops thinks so. And as a practical matter if we withdraw it becomes a fight for power in Iraq.”

    Jim, I don’t mean to be disrespectful in my dismissal of your point here, but your sources are about as biased as they come.

    Ned Parker of the LA Times reports that of 19,000 insurgents held by the US military in Iraq, only 135 are foreigners.

    That makes 0.7% potential AQ by my calculation. The rest are home grown Iraqi insurgents who do not claim – nor is it claimed – are AQ affiliates.

    Now maybe you are going to tell me that either 1. we are holding people are who are not guilty of insurgency or 2. that AQ insurgents are that much more crafty so as not to be caught?

    “If/When we withdraw we will get nothing but naked power struggles along the lines of Liberia and Sierra Leone.”

    It’s already happening, JIm. The only difference might be that the pace picks up and the whole thing comes to a conclusion sooner. But, like I said, it’s their country – not ours – anyway.

    “But Iraq is in many ways a sideshow. Just today Pakistani…..”

    I agree with you that Iraq is a side show and a meaningless one at that. AQ was never a problem there until we opened the door to them. Again, even with the open door they are a minor problem and the Iraqi people themselves will eliminate it. Do you suggest that Iraqis, given the chance at forming a government of their choosing would select AQ to govern? If so, the whole project is absolutely futile anyway you cut it. Or are you suggesting that AQ is so powerful that a handful of them could defeat millions of Iraqis? This sounds extremely improbable to me. Again, the Iraqi people are not helpless little children.

    But the problem is that the “sideshow” has sapped our resources so that we are unable to respond effectively to a coup in Pakistan. Such an event would, in my opinion, properly require an all out war effert on our part, but we are bogged down in Iraq and can’t do it.

    So I guess I don’t follow your logic even where I agree with your facts.

  38. Re: #27 from Celebrim: Thanks for the kind words.

    Celebrim: “And, just because I like to keep hammering this, it’s just another peice of evidence that the basic philosophy animating Bush is liberalism strongly informed by his own born again Christianity.”

    Yes, this is a piece of evidence that supports what you say.

    I also think it’s an answer to Peggy Noonan’s recent relatively poor-quality piece American Grit (link) in which she reproaches George W. Bush with looking too up-beat.

    Is it defiance? Denial? Is it that he’s right and you’re wrong, which is your problem? Is he faking a certain steely good cheer to show his foes from Washington to Baghdad that the American president is neither beaten nor bowed?

    I think it’s a combination of the third and fourth answers, mostly the third. George W. Bush believes his political creed. It is a very optimistic one. That is quite American.

    Since he sees things in optimistic terms, he manages to remain positive himself. And that’s fine by me. I don’t see how he could save any lives just by moping.

    #30 from PD Shaw:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    “This is the civil religion of America.”

    Just so. And on the whole that’s been a marvelous thing.

  39. Jim:

    You seem to be making the underlying assumption that enemy lives are, if not equivalent in value to civilised ones, at least somewhere close. I disagree, and I think that the reluctance to inflict casualties on the enemy (they said it and they started it) is the root cause of the current problems that the West is having with Iraq and the Middle East generally.

    Personally, I don’t give a flying copulation about enemy casualties, civilian or otherwise. I care deeply about ours, however. And wars are won by inflicting enough grief of whatever sort on the enemy that he gives up.

    Solution (in brief)? Pull out. Start being serious about our own security, in such ways as profiling security procedures intelligently (e.g. not strip-searching retired US generals with the CMH while letting raghead clerics through on the nod). Throw out everyone who doesn’t have an inalienable right to be in the US and comes from a country with Islam as a state religion. Let them kill each other. And take out all the Guantanamo residents, who are all enemy belligerents out of uniform, shoot them and throw the remains on any convenient garbage tip.

    And lastly, start getting serious about reducing Western dependence om oil.

  40. David: That’s one of the things that I just positively hate about Bush… he just seems so damn smug all the time.

    There was a great article in the atlantic (2 years ago) talking about Lincoln’s battle with depression. Apparently, by grappling with these demons early in life, Lincoln learned that there were serious reprocussions for mistakes. So, as he grew into politics, there are historical diaries describing Lincoln as sullen, distant tired, especially around big decisions. Really, he was so deeply focused internally, that his external persona suffered.

    To summarize :The writer noted that Lincoln’s depressions generated his decision-making strengths. However, the writer wondered if Lincoln could ever survive the current pollitical process, which demands a ‘likable’ candidate.

    Sorry, totally off topic, but something that’s always fascinated me.

  41. #32 from RobW:

    From David Blue (#10)

    #1 from RobW: “Unless you espouse the strategy of allowing a civil war to foment and pull in regional actors, by withdrawing to large bases and redeploying back to the States, then we must fight a Counterinsurgency war in all of its aspects, military, political, social and religious. Those are the choices.”

    I think so too. And I think option A is the wise choice.

    Thank you for making it clear that you’ll be responsible for the consequences.

    I hope you won’t mind if I make that a little more precise.

    If, after the surge has played out, we get out and the main consequence in Iraq is:
    1) Al Qaeda takes over, not being effectively opposed (as Hamas took over Gaza), and establishes a new Afghanistan like terror state subjugating the Shi’ites and spreading jihad terror globally, or if the Islamic Republic of Iran just takes over and establishes a Shi’ite hegemony that of course will also spread jihad terror globally, I won’t say “yes that is what I wanted and expected” but I will say “yes, in view of the situation, that is what I said we must be willing to risk.”
    2) Sunnis and Shi’ites regionally do not agree on who should dominate the land between the two rivers and who should suffer subjugation and humiliation, and we get something like the mother-beautiful Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, but on a regional scale and preferably for at least twice as long, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.”

    If, after the surge has played out, we get out and the main consequence in American foreign policy is:
    1) The Left wins, America loses faith in its ability to do anything and win under any circumstances, and in its right to fight and win, and America then makes a European style peace of the beaten with Islam, I won’t say “yes that is what I wanted and expected” but I will say “yes, in view of the situation, that is what I said we must be willing to risk.”
    2) If American attention shifts to Africa, with American sponsored Christian, Animist and just plain selfish warlords doing land office business and would-be Islamic imperialists getting mauled so badly that Africa does for Islam’s unconventional forces roughly what the New Guinea campaign did to Japanese Imperial soldiers, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.”

    Is that clear?

    #32 from RobW: “I firmly believe that option B is achievable, while it sounds as if you don’t think so.”

    That’s right. I think we’re hosed, and I’ve thought that since I realized how hostile to use Iraqis are.

    #32 from RobW: “We have the capacity to continue the fight in terms of casualty rates, financing, deployment levels (keep in mind that troops were in theater for the entirety of WWII) and strategy. Furthermore, we have evidence that Iraqis want to participate at all levels: local, provencial and national, and facets: security, political and economic.”

    I’m not seeing participation by hostiles as a guarantee of a successful outcome from our point of view.

    #32 from RobW: “We have a responsibility to see this through.”

    I don’t think so.

  42. Off-topic, but give us a break. :)

    Re: #43 from alchemist…

    Winston Churchill suffered from depression too, and I do mean suffered. He called it his “black dog”. His efforts to overcome it, his inner struggle to stay positive, may be part of what made him a great leader.

    But I wouldn’t wish the “black dog” on anyone but an outfight enemy like Osama Bin Laden.

    I like the current American President. (And the Vice-President too, four times as much after his debate with John Edwards, where it seemed to me Dick Cheney showed he is a father first and a politician second.) I like to imagine him enjoying a long, healthy and happy retirement, preferably starting tomorrow morning.

    #43 from alchemist: “David: That’s one of the things that I just positively hate about Bush… he just seems so damn smug all the time.”

    I don’t have that reaction myself, but I don’t get nearly as much of him as you may, if you are American. I think George W. Bush’s smugness is more endurable in small and infrequent doses.

    I don’t think a different and more charming politician would have a lot of success in selling the same foreign policy from 2009 on.

    I don’t think an American President who showed a more painful awareness of the cost of the war and the odds against its success and the dubiousness of the value of any success there would be in a better position to sell the project.

  43. Avedis —

    You discount Gen Petraeus who will be judged by history and his peers over Ned Parker of the LAT who is not even in Iraq, and relies on biased AQ stringers?

    You discount Michael Yon who showed up the AP and got this priceless interchange:

    “To see what the AP might have by way of reliable, mainstream, news resources, on the morning of 07 July, I asked Talal, an Associated Press stringer in Baqubah, if he had heard about the Al Hamari murders, and our conversation went something like this:

    “Yes,” answered Talal.
    “How many had been killed?” I asked.
    “35,” answered Talal. Not “about 35”, but precisely 35.
    “How do you know?” I asked.
    “A medic at the Baqubah hospital told me,” Talal said.
    “What was the medic’s name?” I asked.
    “I don’t know,” answered Talal.
    “You didn’t ask?”
    “No,” he said. Talal said a doctor told him the same thing, but that he did not know the doctor’s name. He had not asked. Besides which, Talal said, the doctor and the medic were afraid to give their names.
    “How were the people killed?” I asked.
    “They were shot,” answered Talal as he motioned shooting with a pistol.
    “Did you tell someone at AP headquarters in Baghdad?” I asked.
    “Yes,” answered Talal.
    “Who did you tell?” I asked.
    “I don’t know,” answered Talal.”

    But let’s assume that a reporter who works for a BDS-agenda driven organization and couldn’t be bothered to check out Yon’s reporting of a major AQ massacre, or use his photos/words/video for free, and is not in Iraq has superior info to those who are in Iraq and have to answer for being wrong (unlike Parker who would suffer for actually reporting AQ atrocities … a thoughtcrime in the hard-left LAT).

    Even so why wouldn’t everyone in Sunni Land flee to AQ who are the hardest of hard men for protection? We saw this happen in the Balkans and Africa? Why not in Iraq?

    Let’s also assume that Iraqi-AQ co-operation that prompted indictments by Clinton and missiles to the plant in Sudan never happened. That Saddam never posed for photos in his office with Zawahari, handing him over a $200K check months before the Cole and never helped the 9/11 plot. How does handing over a goodly portion of Iraq’s oil revenue to Iran and AQ respectively (particularly given their AQ-Iran cooperation) enhance our security? It’s more money for both to kill Americans which they’ve sworn to do.

    Iraqis being killed, and even some Saudis, Iranians, and Turks won’t IMHO balance out the tremendous resource gain that Iraq’s oil provides. If it’s “blood for oil” we can’t afford to let that oil fall into Iranian or AQ hands since they’ll use it to kill Americans.

    Moreover, allow us to be shoved out of Iraq at the cost of 3-4K dead means an encouragement of a coup in Pakistan. At a min we should not encourage the view that we are easily pushed out of anywhere and can’t be relied on. Not when Jihadis in Pakistan are picking fights with us, China, and India at the same time. A withdrawal from Iraq pretty much guarantees a coup in Pakistan (it signals a US rout and that we can’t and won’t inflict unacceptable amounts of pain on the coup particpants).

    I’ve seen the assertion that Iraq distracted us or prevented us from dealing with Pakistan. But I fail to see how short of taking out Pakistan’s nukes anything would have been different. Pakistan’s nukes are the only factor keeping us from dealing with AQ and the Taliban there. To deal with them we need either nuclear missiles or the untasked Air Force and Naval Air assets. What the Army and Marines are doing in Iraq is essentially irrelevant to solving the Pakistani nukes.

    Fletcher — I would prefer fewer deaths to head off a massive war of extermination. I would rather kill fewer human beings if possible. I will if pressed trade the Muslim world for our cities but would prefer not to get to that point. Your solutions are well taken but politically impractical. Dems just pulled the “John Doe” protection for those reporting terrorist activity. PC from the loony left rules us. We will apparently close Gitmo and put all of them into civilian courts or release them into the US (if AP is to be believed). Quite a number of terrorists will be set free no doubt.

  44. _”But the problem is that the “sideshow” has sapped our resources so that we are unable to respond effectively to a coup in Pakistan. Such an event would, in my opinion, properly require an all out war effert on our part, but we are bogged down in Iraq and can’t do it.”_

    Holy red herring batman! Exactly what kind of war are you envisioning against a nation of 156 million, twice the size of Iraq, made up of some of the most forbidding terrain on earth, and- oh yeah- they have nuclear weapons? Considering 3000 American casualties in Iraq over 4 years is apparently intolerable. How many US troops do you think it would take to hold Islamabad alone (population 1,000,000)?

  45. I do not expect to have time to write the comment this thread deserves until the weekend. But I just don’t want to let pass unchallenged the claim that Saddam paid for the bombing of the USS Cole and is implicated in 9/11. It isn’t an accident that even the Bush Administration no longer tries to substantiate these claims; they are based (like the WMD claims) on rumors and lies. Doug Feith’s job was to compile (or rather, to cherry-pick) all sorts of uncorroborated rubbish to justify the Iraq War. I think I already pointed out how one of Feith’s claims, about an Iraqi helping Al Qaeda in Malaysia, is based on confusing two similar Arabic names.

    So, would it be too much to ask for a link to the photograph showing Saddam paying Zawahiri for the USS Cole bombing? And would that be before or after Zawahiri’s amputated leg magically grew back?

  46. Let’s not forget the little detail that Iraq gives us air, logistics, naval, and medical bases in the heart of the Middle East.

    What good are having ‘free’ troops in Okinawa or Stateside? Needing to intervene in Pakistan or Iran is rather difficult if the only access is via amphibious assault (through the Persian Gulf no less) and the closest air base is what, the facility in Diego Garcia?

    Iraq gives us walking access to Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Short hop air/naval access to Pakistan.

    Until we invent teleportation, these things are kinda important…

    Kuwait supported us against Iraq for historical reasons, I doubt they’d accommodate us if our target was Iran or Saudi Arabia.

    As for military deaths, this is the most blood free war in American history. There was a previous article on this site about the military death counts. Trying to argue that we’re being bled dry is ridiculous.

    Saying we should pull out of Iraq because if we don’t we can’t do anything else ignores the fact that we still have enough assets to handle emergent situations anywhere in the world. You don’t drop a million troops anywhere in a week. Just doesn’t happen. You send 10,000 or 15,000 for starters and they have to build bases and ramp up. Takes time.

    We can certainly always pull troops out of Iraq later if the fecal matter impacts the rotary impeller elsewhere. We can redeploy troops from Iraq to South Korea as easily as from Georgia.

    And in raw military capability, the battle experience being generated in Iraq is a huge capability booster (not to mention the improvement in weapons/logistics/etc being generated thanks to actual experience).

    Really, when people say that we can’t sustain being in Iraq, they’re saying they don’t want to spend the money.

    I think the cash is worth it to avoid at best a genocide in Iraq and at worst a major regional war, potentially sucking in up to 3 nuclear players (Israel, Pakistan, possibly India depending on how Pakistan gets involved).

    And don’t try and tell me we can’t economically sustain it. I call BS. Our military spending is at what, 5% of GDP? When we hit half what we were spending in WW2 (40%) let me know…heck, when we hit the 10% of the 50’s and 60’s let me know…

    I mean, at least pouring cash down the Iraq drain has at least the POSSIBILITY of accomplishing something, however remote. Compare that to the usual government money dumps…

  47. Mark — the problem is the NUKES. It’s the nukes that must be destroyed.

    We could simply nuke them out of existence. Kill millions but problem solved. India would handle the rest, they’ve been at war with Pakistan for most of their mutual existence.

    We could also strike them with air assets. This would kill less civilians but we’d lose men, no question. Possibly even Naval vessels. But, we could do it. Pakistan’s Air Force would be wiped out quickly, and their Army while good doesn’t march on the Sea so well. And as noted they’d be busy with India.

    Remove the nukes and we can raid Pakistan with impunity to kill Osama/Zawahari and kill the Taliban in their safe haven. No need to occupy the place. And while their population is large they don’t have much military capacity to counter-attack. It’s the nuclear shield that is the problem.

    Andrew J Lazarus — you are correct that Ayman did not collect $200K right before the Cole. My bad, it was $300K and a few months before the African Embassy bombings in 1998.

    The cite is “here”:http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZjlhZjQ5NDc0MGQ1NjZmY2ZkMGY0NWM2YjdkNzI5NWE=

    By Andrew J. McCarthy, former Federal Prosecutor, at National Review Online.

    You are also right that GWB no longer even bothers to publicize:

    * Saddam’s Terror Training Camps & Long-Standing Relationship With Ayman al-Zawahiri.
    * A 1992 IIS Document lists Osama bin Laden as an “asset.”
    * A 1997 IIS document lists a number of meetings between Iraq, bin Laden and other al Qaeda associates.
    * A 1998 IIS document reveals that a representative of bin Laden visited Baghdad in March 1998 to meet with Saddam’s regime.
    * Numerous IIS documents demonstrate that Saddam had made plans for a terrorist-style insurgency and coordinated the influx of foreign terrorists into Iraq.

    As cited above in the April 14, 2007 article. Bush is lazy and just gave up.

    Thank you for the correction.

  48. #46 from Jim Rockford: “Even so why wouldn’t everyone in Sunni Land flee to AQ who are the hardest of hard men for protection? We saw this happen in the Balkans and Africa? Why not in Iraq?”

    They should. And the theory that Sunni willpower outmatches Shi’ite numbers should be put to the fullest attritional test. Preferably for decades.

    #46 from Jim Rockford: “How does handing over a goodly portion of Iraq’s oil revenue to Iran and AQ respectively (particularly given their AQ-Iran cooperation) enhance our security? It’s more money for both to kill Americans which they’ve sworn to do.”

    If they use it to kill each other it will be the best use of it, and it won’t be our oil anyway.

    When the enemy fights us on our dime, channeling aid money into terror, they prosper and we wither. Having the enemy fight each other at their expense, funding continuing war with their oil, is an ideal alternative.

    #46 from Jim Rockford: “Iraqis being killed, and even some Saudis, Iranians, and Turks won’t IMHO balance out the tremendous resource gain that Iraq’s oil provides. If it’s “blood for oil” we can’t afford to let that oil fall into Iranian or AQ hands since they’ll use it to kill Americans.”

    It’s not our oil to lose or give away, and it never could have been. It’s the enemy’s oil.

    #46 from Jim Rockford: “Moreover, allow us to be shoved out of Iraq at the cost of 3-4K dead means an encouragement of a coup in Pakistan.”

    Cartoons and a knighthood for Salman Rushdie are enough to add encouragement for an anti-West coup in Pakistan. Our persistence in unbelief means that we offend Muslims whether we want to or not.

    We should not care any more what signals we sent to the Muslim world. If there was a time to send the right signals to avert a fight, it’s over.

    #46 from Jim Rockford: “At a min we should not encourage the view that we are easily pushed out of anywhere and can’t be relied on.”

    But, I don’t want them relying on us. The Palestinians have relied on us, that is on Western aid, for an age, and what good does that do us?

    I want us to get out of that business, because I think it’s unprofitable and contrary to the way the war ought to be fought.

  49. Jim- mainly right, aside from the fact that we arent going to unprovokedly nuke Pakistan under any circumstance, which takes it off the board. My point was that anything we would _realistically_ have to do in Pakistan is utterly unrelated to the resources deployed in Iraq.

    Let me make a more general statement- the problem i have with the Democrats in congress, and many war opponents, is that they dont believe their own proposals. I can at least respect a guy like Kucinich who flat out says- get everybody out, end of story.

    VERY few people who want us out of Iraq actually want us to redeploy to Afghanistan- much less Pakistan! And any that do are particularly dangerous, because they dont understand warfare.

    To go a step further- Harry Reid and his ilk are proposing what I call the Worst of Both Worlds, which entails first telling all the Iraqis that we are about to betray and abandon them, then betraying and abandoning them, and then LEAVING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF US TROOPS HOLED UP IN BASES IN IRAQ. To ‘hunt’ al qaeda. Believe me, they wont have to hunt, they can just sit back and watch as their supply lines are EIDd to oblivion and bases mortared and suicide bombed inflicting just as many if not more casualties. All while Iraq tears itself apart and the world watches open mouthed as genocide takes place within sight of US army bases.

    To Reid and his gutless allies- have the honesty to call for pure withdrawal. What is being proposed is unrealistic and disasterous, but the funny thing about history is that you sometimes get what you ask for. As much as we cant afford a retreat and surrender in Iraq, this plan would be twice over that disaster, maybe more. We’re talking the potential for how the UN looked in Rwanda wrapped up with Mogadishu and possibly a Dien Bien Phu to round it up.

  50. #47: Yeah, that was pretty much exactly my reaction to that as well.

    The military logic of a US-Pakistani conflict is quite simple. If things go FUBAR in Pakistan, we nuke the whole country. Period.

    We simply will be unable to reduce the country or contain the threat fast enough by any other means we have available. If things go all FUBAR in Pakistan, you have the possibility of up to 80 nuclear truck or shipping container bombs in the hands of the suicide bombers in the Taliban within days. And since the Taliban has the assitance of considerable sympathizers within the Pakistani intelligence services, if Pakistan loses control of its nukes we cannot assume that who ever they lose control of them to is going to lack the capacity to arm and use them.

    No, its pretty darn simple and it is a decision any candidate who is preparing themselves for the office of POTUS must have prepared and steeled themselves for. It isn’t just a matter of being able to protect US interests. With a few score rogue nuclear weapons on the loose we could have hiroshima’s not only from New York to LA, but from Mumbai to Madrid, and Tel Aviv to Tampa.

    Once you go nuclear as a nation, you are amongst the big boys. There is no more playing around with limited warfare. The gloves come off, and if the POTUS can’t face that possibility, they shouldn’t be POTUS.

  51. #49 from Treefrog: “Let’s not forget the little detail that Iraq gives us air, logistics, naval, and medical bases in the heart of the Middle East.”

    Should we want those bases?

    #49 from Treefrog: “What good are having ‘free’ troops in Okinawa or Stateside?”

    What good is it for us to fight within the Muslim world, where there is no non-Muslim side to support?

    When we fight within the Muslim world, accepting that this must remain Muslim land:
    1. Though we kill some enemies, we also make new enemies.
    2. Whoever we put in charge is our enemy. In the long run, according to our political ideals, they will have to be in line with the wishes on the Muslim voters, who are averse to us.
    3. Institutions that we establish are popular or not. If they are popular, then being Islamic they are hostile. To build more states around constitutions recognizing Islam as a source of law is exactly what we should not do. But if the institutions we establish are unpopular, that incites the already unfriendly Muslim populations against us.
    4. The basic hostility of Muslim populations means the deck is stacked against us in irregular wars – and everybody know now that that is the kind of war to fight us with.
    5. Policemen recruited from hostile populations are not to be trusted.
    6. Soldiers recruited from hostile populations are not to be trusted.
    7. The doctrine that “we broke it, we own it” means that we are lumbered with unlimited obligations to our enemies.
    8. These obligations may lead us into further conflicts, that (etc.)

    Wouldn’t it make sense to fight where Muslims are fighting non-Muslims and trying to take their lands, and see that the opposite happens, or at least that the non-Muslims hold out? Hence: Africa.

    #49 from Treefrog: “Kuwait supported us against Iraq for historical reasons, I doubt they’d accommodate us if our target was Iran or Saudi Arabia.”

    Yup.

    And Turkish bases proved useless in invading Iraq.

    So if these bases are only useful when the local Muslims for their own reasons want them to be, maybe they should pay for them.

    #49 from Treefrog: “I think the cash is worth it to avoid at best a genocide in Iraq and at worst a major regional war, potentially sucking in up to 3 nuclear players (Israel, Pakistan, possibly India depending on how Pakistan gets involved).”

    I have another opinion on that.

  52. Jim, Andrew McCarthy on NRO, like all other “cites” about Saddam and the USS Cole, all trace back to Doug Feith’s compendium of (discredited) rumors and the Weekly Standard article by Stephen Hayes that was based upon it. As far as I can tell, out of the possibilities that (1) there is such evidence but for some unfathomable reason the Bush Administration does not present it, (2) there is such evidence but the unworthy, pussified American people refuse to believe it, and (3) the “evidence” will not stand up to scrutiny, the one you refuse to countenance is the last, which is by far the most plausible.

    As I said before, show me the photograph.

  53. #3 from Jim Rockford at 3:13 am on Jul 19, 2007

    Well, just as a thought experiment, let’s suppose we withdraw. Chaos and destruction follow, with Iran, Turkey, and Saudi each controlling a part of Iraq, we have no partners or allies at all left in the region, and AQ operates with impunity throughout Iraq.
    ******************************
    This is a thought experiment where you assume that all of the players control a part of Iraq and Al Queda operates with impunity. this presupposes that all of these players will not run into the same problems that we have. Not only does the premise appear contradictory on its face, but it seems to be contradictory, i.e. How will any of the players have control of any area, if Al Queda is acting with impunity. I also doubt that any of these players can hold territory in Iraq, although I do agree that there will be chaos.

    I will accept your premise though for the sake of the thought experiment.
    _____________________

    What then? What are the security interests of the United States?

    The Security Interests of the US are to deter any AQ mass casualty attack, and prevent any one nation from dominating the Gulf Oil states, to keep the oil flowing.
    ********************************
    Agreed
    _____________________

    Again, with no partners or allies left at all in the region (this would include Saudi and the Gulf states) what are our options for gaining these security interests?
    *********************************

    Israel and Turkey will be out partners in any scenario and they are not only the two most powerful military forces in the region, their interests are convergent with outs.. I also think that we will have more, not less support from the gulf States, but again, for the sake of the hypothetical situation, I will accept this premise
    ______________________

    Only one: the US Navy. We’d have to increase the Navy five-fold, and essentially conduct various naval bombardment campaigns on regular basis, making “examples” of nations including mass destruction of infrastructure and military forces to enable a coup or regime change. The amount of death and destruction we’d have to rain down upon people would rise to WWII Germany/Japan levels. But it’s doable, particularly if we kill some media people in target countries (so others leave) and all that is left is foreign media which can be embargoed or what have you.
    ************************************
    Well, it didn’t take us long to get to the doomsday scenario!
    ________________________
    I don’t think this strategy is desirable among many outcomes but it would at least gain our security … no more 9/11 style attacks (or help for same) and the oil keeps flowing. A whacking great Navy well, whacking nations/people in and around the Gulf. Certainly doable both economically/technically and perhaps also politically if the case is made [Dems if they were smart would propose this … but they aren’t.] It’s certainly DIFFERENT from what we are doing now and plays to traditional American strengths: lots of technology and resources.
    ***************************************
    I agree with you that this strategy isn’t desireable. I also don’t think that it in anyway is based on the situation in Iraq or any scenario that has a chance of becoming a reality. The Thought Experiment ceases to serve any purpose at this point.
    __________________________
    What is quite likely however is a withdrawal because “we want the problem to go away” … see 1938, Peace in Our Time, etc. Terrorism denied as “the cost of doing business in the global economy” and so on. Until the nuclear destruction of two-three of our cities and total war against the Muslim people generally.
    ****************************************
    This is no more likely than the thought experiment. Every time we have a problem it does not mean that the our choices in a situation is use Military force or be Neville Chamberlin. Nor does it mean we must stay in Iraq or lose 2 or 3 cities and be in a total war against the Muslims. Everything isn’t solved by a kill or be killed attitude. Not only that, this sort of thinking only heightens the problem and clouds our judgement. I can’t think of anything worse than basing one’s judgement on fear.
    ___________________________
    The current blindness of our political elite is their projection of their own station and situations to our distributed enemies. If we make an “agreement” with say, Iran that has no bearing on bin Laden’s group. Or any other jihadi. Or nation that finds it less risky to aid them than stop attacks on us. Nor do we have an enforcement mechanism if Iran fails to live up to any deal. What, the World Court? That’s a laugh. So too the UN.
    ****************************************
    If we make an agreement with Iran, we cannot make that agreement based upon the behavior of Al Queda? Why? Because we know from the get go that Iran does not control Al Queda. Why would you even bring that up? Part of any agreement would be enforcement measures written into the agreement as is the case with all agreements. you have already decided, with out even talking to the Iranians that whatever agreement we come up with it will be meaningless since they will not abide by it. OK. Does this mean our only alternative is to level Iran?
    ___________________________
    Another alternative would be to withdraw, and on the way out pre-emptively nuke Iran’s and Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, announce a double-tit-for-tat policy. We lose American cities, the following nations cease to exist: Saudi, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt. That our policy will be to kill all their people. And build up our arsenal. We establish: “yes the Americans are crazy, they nuked two nations, best not to provoke them” and the means (a build up of nuclear forces).
    ___________________________
    Why even bother ti make an announcement, or wait for an American city to be hit? If you are into pre-emptive nukles why not do the whole job at simultaneously and get it over with once and for all?
    ****************************************
    There are probably other policies as well that can keep another 9/11 at bay and the oil flowing, but they must both show to potential enemies our willingness (beyond any question) and means to deliver unacceptable levels of pain. Down to the local officialdom level.

    I for one think the current posture, even at current casualty levels, is the most humane and less costly in lives (ours/theirs) policy we can come up with.
    ___________________________
    Well, I must admit, everybody likes to see a show of humanity once in a while.

  54. Armed Liberal: “For myself, I’m in a holding pattern. Part of me thinks that the best course is just to sit and push and prevail – to do what we’re doing now – smarter, hopefully, but to keep paying the price we’re paying – and can arguably afford to pay in reality – in an effort to essentially break the other side.”

    Okey dokely: stay the course.

    I’m happy to wait for General David Petraeus’s report in mid-September.

    I don’t understand why anybody has felt the need to rush the withdrawal, to get it done as a political deal before General Petraeus reports.

    The surge is working. It is buying time during which Iraqi politicians could enact reforms if they were inclined to. They aren’t of course, but that is not the fault of the general or the soldiers.

    What will American and allied armed forces take from this war? Some lessons, perhaps, but mainly casualties, and pride in a job that was well done, whether it was useful or not. So we shouldn’t do anything to diminish that pride.

    We are going to need these armed forces more than ever after we quit Iraq. Preventing them from completing an operation, preventing a talented general in the field from showing what he can do, is not the way to go.

    We should hear the report respectfully, and say with sincerity and follow though: “Thank you. Thank you very much. Job well done.”

    It’s a shame that we’ve left it so late to give the soldiers great homecoming parades. But they should have them anyway, because they’ve earned them.

  55. Folks – thank you all. This kind of thread is why I blog here. Long comment to follow tomorrow (working on a silly post that popped into my head today).

    A.L.

  56. Hi, Armed Liberal (or any marshal): could you clean up post #56 from toc, which is screwing up the width of the page? Ta.

    One interesting thing in this thread is that as evidenced by post #42 from Fletcher Christian, Fletcher Christian and I seem to be broadly on the same page now. Not in details and matters of fact, because I would like a military tribunal to take a couple of weeks to confirm beyond doubt that all the Guantanamo residents are indeed enemy belligerents out of uniform, and I want to see strong technical proof that we can substantially reduce our dependency on oil, but broadly, yes. If we can reduce our oil dependency, we should. If they [i]are[/i] all enemy belligerents out of uniform, just shoot them. Get out of Iraq. Do nothing to hinder red on red attrition. Start being serious about security. Clean Islam out of our lands, our states, to the extent that we can: every year, there should be a little less Islam than the year before, however we bring that about (within means circumscribed by decency and law). And until or unless Islam radically rewritten, without jihad, sharia and the deadly example of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) for a start, those adhering to the system of Islam are not our global brothers in any sense that would make us our brother’s keepers. This jihad-driven conflict is war, or at best a matter of ice-cold prudence and self-preservation, it is not a suitable context for charity.

    I think that’s because this set of positions comes together with an inner logic innate to war.

    That means many people (though of course I’m not saying a majority) will eventually get around to it, whether they’re calm or afraid or angry, whether they don’t like Muslims or whether they quite liked the Muslims they’ve known, or whatever. The logic of the post-negotiation phase will eventually take you to the same or a similar place.

    I don’t think there’s any romanticism here to deflate or any bad philosophy to refute. Nothing here would have been confusing to prudent Romans, or to Herodotus or Thucydides, or to King Scorpion putting together Pharaoh’s Army version 1.0. The rules and recommendations are the sorts of things that military history has put to the test for literally thousands of years. [i]”Don’t pay any Danegeld!”[/i] This is really basic stuff.

    I think arguments directed at early, leftist anti-war advocates (highly ideological people like Noam Chomsky or in a different way Michael Moore), and arguments based on the presumed personal qualities of those who oppose the war effort will miss the mark with us.

    What we’re doing is describing a sort of technology, in the sense that rhetoric for example was an early technology. We say this thing, this “basic war-making” idea, this cart, or this spear, will work. And either it will or it won’t. The wheels will turn, the axle will turn, and goods will move more efficiently than by sled, or else it won’t work like that, regardless of whether Fletcher Christian or David Blue is a good guy or a bad guy for saying so.

  57. Just to head off any misunderstanding: I’m not saying that the correctness of what I’m advocating is as open and shut a deal as whether the wheel works. (There are plenty of highly supportable contrary views!) But I am saying it’s as impersonal as whether the wheel works. It’s not about rage or fear or racism or not liking Muslims or any of the things that are routinely alleged.

    It’s not even political, in the sense of winning elections or legitimacy for a preferred side. I haven’t even thought till now about whether the course I’m advocating would be a smart way to win elections, and now that I think of it, I don’t think it would be. I only hope it would be within the margin of unpopular positions that politician can get away with, like opposing the death penalty though most voters support it, because you think that that’s the right thing to do.

  58. My gut feeling is that whether we stay in Iraq or not doesn’t really matter; there is a wider war coming. A process has been set in motion and while this action or that initiative might slightly alter its course or speed, in the end, WW3 is on its way. What that will look like and how it will end, nobody knows.

  59. Another afterthought, off-topic but to forestall possible misunderstandings…

    #59 from David Blue: “Start being serious about security.” What would that mean? It would mean passing stuff like the “John Doe” passenger protection amendment. (link) It shouldn’t be possible to be re-elected after opposing or ducking out on something as easy and important as that.

    Those who think we should dump Iraq, as I do, have to accept that some jihadists may decide that after Baghdad comes Boston, or Sydney or Edinburgh. Therefore, even if we didn’t need to be more serious about security anyway, greater seriousness about security would be a corollary of that foreign policy decision.

    This goes double if you really mean “redeployment” and want to follow up a retreat from Iraq by fighting actively to push back Islam in other parts of the world.

  60. Andrew, Jim –

    I’d love to see a good dig into this (the charges that Saddam funded/rewarded the USS Cole bombers) – I’d even make it into a point/counterpoint post if you guys would do a little digging and present your best evidence…

    A.L.

  61. This is good–some very serious suggestions about what to do next. And the usual gaggle of unserious ones (nuking Pakistan–how cool is that?). But it’s great to see a lively discussion on this that hasn’t, within a matter of minutes, degenerated into namecalling. Here’s the problem I’m having–as well-informed as much of this discussion seems to be, this is a pretty ahistorical discussion. And here comes the heretical part, whch will undoubtedly appeal to few, but which has to be dealt with, like it or not: there’s virtually no reference to any of the decisions made prior to the invasion that led to it, aside from some discussion of Bush’s faith (which I would agree is relevant). And while much of this discussion is, or attempts to be, practical, we can’t go around suggesting this or that next step without acknowledging the significant mistakes made prior to the war. My own view is that this effort has been completely misguided from the beginning, just to be clear. I’m prepared to be in a distinct minority here, and we can debate that some other time, but since no minds are likely to be changed, there’s no point.

    But even if I agreed with the original premise of this war, and had now come to the place, say, Armed Liberal now finds himself, there are still some issues that are critical to any kind of near or long term resolution of this conflict in a manner acceptable to not just the American and Iraqi governments (the latter being a convenient fiction at the moment, but they could have one some day, I suppose–maybe when they come back from their summer holiday), but to their peoples. Just for starters:

    1. The Bush administration has absolutley no intention of changing its current strategy before it leaves. Well, there’s a small possibility of a token troop reduction, but an equal likelihood, apparently, of a troop increase. But Bush has made it clear that there will be no leaving Iraq so long as he is president has a say in the matter.

    2. Is this a problem or not? It certainly suggests that it will be 18 months before there’s likely to be any change in anything. So at a current run rate of about 100 casualties a month, that’s another 1800 dead soldiers or marines. How happy or unhappy will all those moms and dads and husbands and wives and children be with this, expecially those on their third or fourth tour of duty?

    3. Every metric relating to the condition of the US military, especially the army, shows an organization in an alarming decline.

    4. To date, Bush has indicated no interest in asking the American public in general to make any sort of sacrifice for this effort, in spite of his insistence that the fate of civilizations depends on it. There is no interest in the draft, for example, and the increasingly bloated (loaded word, I know) expense of this effort isn’t being paid for yet–it will be some day, but aside from the military and their families, the American public is not making any financial sacrifice. (This would be a good place for a snarky comment on Bush not supporting the proposed 3 1/2% pay raise for the military, but I’ll let it pass). This all may have been possible to pull off when the war started–it seem clear that trying to do any of this now would be doomed.

    5. The record for veracity (or truthiness, if one prefers) from this administration and, sadly, the Pentagon has been appalling. (Executive privelege over documents relating to Pat Tillman? Really?)

    6. There is no Plan B.

    7. The Democrats remain disorganized, but won’t stay that way forever. on the other hand, the Republicans are boxed in–consider the stunningly inept bunch of Republican presidential contenders, and try to remember if any one of them (other than McCain) has said anything memorable whatsoever about this war and how to resolve it. Lots of comments about Guantanamo, though. This is called “displacement behavior” by ethologists.

    8. In spite of whatever success the surge may be having (I’m dubious, but willing to be convinced), the Iraqis themselves are now living a pretty hellish existence. Those Iraqis who can are emigrating (although we’re not taking them, so they’re mostly in Syria and Jordan). Those who can’t emigrate live in increasingly dire circumstances. Not a lot of good will to be obtained there, frankly. Some folks here will be unconvinced by this point, but it’s probably a relevant one for the Iraqis. So with no change in US strategy, they can look forward to at least another 18 months of what they’ve been going through the past several years. Except worse.

    So even if one fervently believes that staying the course irrespective of current casualty levels is still the best strategy, as many here appear to do, there’s the following to be dealt with–the American people are now deeply doubtful about the case for this war, and may be considerably more so in 18 months. The Iraqi populace are becoming a natural breeding ground for either civil war fodder or insurgency fodder. The extent to which the American military can continue to take the strains it’s currently operating under is an experiment that might not be worth making. And nothing is likely to change materially before 2009, when conditions for attempting to change strategy may be considerably degraded from what they are today.

    Personally, I think the biggest thank-you that we could give to American troops is not inflicting the next 18 months on them. But that’s just me.

  62. David Blue

    The problem with the, let’s let our enemies fight it out amongst themselves is that it has a horrible historical track record. Playing Hitler against Stalin was the French pre-WW2 strategy. They were right that the two were natural enemies, but it didn’t exactly help them much, did it?

    Even more common in the play the enemies off against each other is the tendency for one side to pull off an unexpected overwhelming victory. War is whacky, some unknown military genius pops up out of left field, smashes the opposition and your suddenly facing a single opponent with the combined resources of all of your previous enemies.

    As far as I know, the only group to ever pull off the pit your enemies against each other feat regularly were the Romans, and they were always careful to make sure and destroy any group that seemed to be gaining any advantage. And it still blew up in their faces from time to time.

    And I have an even bigger issue with the Muslim/non-Muslim divide. Historically that simply hasn’t been true, the Muslim world has never been as monolithic as the hard line Islamists would like to portray. Medieval history is full of examples of Muslims allying with non-Muslims against rival Muslim factions. The concept of the ‘umma’ has always been a fantasy.

    I think the problem is the perception of the Islamists as implacable fanatics who will keep coming no matter what, and thus attempts to install democracy, moderate Islam, etc are doomed to failure. I see this a lot from both the left and the right. Probably about the only point they all agree on. The only way to stop them is to kill them all.

    Except that’s not the only way to stop them. It completely ignores how fanatics think.

    To a fanatic Islamist, they are going to conquer the world. Period. Allah told them so. They are supremacists, they are better than the non-believers. Victory is assured.

    So what happens when they are defeated, when they lose? How can they lose if Allah is on their side? There are only 3 logical choices.

    1 – Our beliefs are wrong, Allah is not on our side.
    2 – Our beliefs are correct, but Allah is not with us because we’re doing things wrong.
    3 – Our beliefs are correct, but the devil is with our opponents and evil intervention is why we lost.

    They have to pick one of the three options to explain defeats, nothing else works. Generally speaking they will pick either 2 or 3. They particularly like 3, wherein defeat is the result of Satan acting through various minions, especially Jews.

    The problem is that, in the long run, 3 and 1 are the same thing. Satan may be able to win the occasional victory over the faithful, but if Satan can win indefinitely, well, isn’t Satan stronger than Allah?

    So in the long run of defeat, their choices run down to 1 and 2. Either they are wrong, or they aren’t doing it right. We saw this starting in the 70s. After over a hundred years of the faithful getting their heads handed to them by the infidels, and finally the little nation of Israel running rings around them, they sat down for some serious soul searching.

    All of the sudden we see a string of Islamic scholarship searching for the answer to this riddle, #1 or #2. A few picked #1 and started more moderate versions of Islam. But many tried first #2, and the answer to #2 by a fanatic is that they aren’t being fanatic enough. So we see a sort of ‘return to the roots’ movement.

    This is why what happened in Iran was so important and why Carter screwed up so badly. The answer to the question of what happens if we become more fanatic, more repressive wasn’t another defeat, it was victory. From their point of view, Allah rewarded their new hyper repressive form of Islam with victory. Finally, they had a recipe for doing things right.

    So to summarize this long winded bit, handing victories to fanatics validates their fanaticism. Handing them defeats forces them to either question their beliefs, or ratchet their fanaticism up another notch.

    And each notch they ratchet it up, they shed supporters who can’t stand it anymore, and start seriously looking at their beliefs.

    So yes, I think we can defeat the ideology itself, their ideas can be destroyed on the field of battle explicitly because their ideas state they will triumph on the field of battle. People join supremacist ideologies for the promise of victory and power. The leave them when it becomes obvious it won’t be forthcoming.

    Pulling out of Iraq swells their influence, validates their ideology and gains them enormous power. Staying put and dealing them one small steady defeat after another shrinks them a bit at a time. God’s chosen? These guys are losers…

  63. Wufnik, you paint a bleak picture but it looks accurate. So I want to look for things you might have gotten wrong, in the hope that they might give us a better result.

    _The Bush administration has absolutley no intention of changing its current strategy before it leaves._

    That looks right. Bush has certainly said so plainly. However, he could be lying. So that’s a hope. Or it’s possible that the new strategies that have trickled up from the troops (Petraeus etc) will actually give us a win. Does that seem plausible? No, they’ll take 10 years or so to work if they do work, a quick win depends on the iraqis to settle down. OK, the iraqis might settle down and sing kumbayah together. Plausible?

    So if you’re right, we can’t reasonably discuss strategy etc because it can have no effect for 18 months minimum, and by that time the situation will probably have changed out of all recognition. Compare how things were 18 months ago versus now….

    So the only thing such discussion can accomplish is to influence our stands on impeachment. If the country gets together on that and Bush/Cheney get impeached, then we’ll have a caretaker government that might actually do something other than continue the same old strategy. Plausible? Bold innovative strategy from the unelected caretaker government?

    _Every metric relating to the condition of the US military, especially the army, shows an organization in an alarming decline._

    Is this true? I think some of the metrics are only declining slowly, not that alarming in themselves. Retention of officers looks bad. A few of the metrics look real bad, but the big thing isn’t how bad they look now, it’s that there’s no reason to expect any improvement or even stability. The longer it goes on like this the worse we can expect things to get for the army, and it’s predictable they’ll get worse faster. And the Reserves. Reservists are getting the sharp end of the stick, as usual, and they’ll probably have a hard time recruiting for years after this is over.

    So we’re risking a lot to go another 18 months with no change.

    _There is no Plan B._

    Yes. The obvious approach to spare the army is to do the job with fewer soldiers. But that invites catastrophe; unless they can get the same work done we can expect the insurgency to increase faster than it’s increasing already, and the remnant we leave behind in iraq could get overwhelmed. So that’s no good. We can’t stay at full strength and we can’t reduce the numbers. What’s left? “If I cannot defend I must attack. If I cannot advance an inch I must retreat a foot.” tao teh king, Ch 69

    But there’s no Plan B and there won’t be one for 18 months. We have to tough it out, whatever we want.

    Anything we do is wrong. If we talk about pulling out, that strengthens the insurgency by making people think we might pull out. But if we talk about not pulling out, that strengthens the insurgency by making them think we’re planning to stay.

    We can talk about it all we want but we can’t change anything. What we want is irrelevant. What we think would be a good idea is irrelevant. We’ll get some choices in about 15 months, if things go well. I’m going to vote against my republican candidates who don’t represent me. I’ll vote for democrats if I can stomach them. Otherwise it will be libertarians or greens, whichever individual candidates look least bad.

  64. _1. The Bush administration has absolutley no intention of changing its current strategy before it leaves._

    It would be nice to recognize that the Bush administration has changed its strategy. That leaves the question of how long the current strategy should be given. Cordesman, not a Bush apologist, has indicated that it has taken 6 months to a year to evaluate tactics employed in Iraq. I support giving that amount of time to evaluate the surge.

    _2. Is this a problem or not? It certainly suggests that it will be 18 months before there’s likely to be any change in anything._

    Its not clear to me that the leading Democratic candidates are likely to change the basic dynamics here. They talk about reducing troop numbers and responsibilities, but casualties largely arise from IEDs.

    _3. Every metric relating to the condition of the US military, especially the army, shows an organization in an alarming decline._

    I don’t necessarily agree with the characterization, but I think this is an important consideration.

    _4. To date, Bush has indicated no interest in asking the American public in general to make any sort of sacrifice for this effort . . ._

    Though this is a point on which a number of war supporters agree, it means nothing to me. My historical view is that governments take great effort to avoid disruption or inconvenience to the civilian sector. They do this to retain public support and a healthy economy to finance the war. I’ve seen no indication from the military that they want a draft.

    _5. The record for veracity (or truthiness, if one prefers) from this administration and, sadly, the Pentagon has been appalling. (Executive privelege over documents relating to Pat Tillman? Really?)_

    To me its always been about a lack of forthcomingness (is that a word?). Veracity comes into play when they only provide partial disclosures.

    _6. There is no Plan B._

    Yes there is. With the Pentagon, there is always a plan B, C, etc. The administration doesn’t want you to know it.

    _7. The Democrats remain disorganized, but won’t stay that way forever._

    If I were cynical I might think that Congress wants this issue for 2008. But to be fair, there is no concensus except the lowest common denominator of being against the surge.

    _8. In spite of whatever success the surge may be having (I’m dubious, but willing to be convinced), the Iraqis themselves are now living a pretty hellish existence._

    Agreed.

    How long would you remain open to being convinced?

  65. wufnik

    _And here comes the heretical part, whch will undoubtedly appeal to few, but which has to be dealt with, like it or not: there’s virtually no reference to any of the decisions made prior to the invasion that led to it, aside from some discussion of Bush’s faith_

    Because it’s irrelevant to the where we go from here discussion.

    As my niece’s piano teacher once put it…who cares how you got on stage, your there, play dammit…

    As per point 1 – He already HAS changed strategy. The surge isn’t simply more troops, it’s an entire change in operating philosophy based upon sophisticated counter insurgency theory. We’ll know more about it’s effectiveness come September. This point is simply not true.

    2 – I’ll worry about the death rates when the MILITARY worries about the death rates. Since the military is one of the strongest voices for staying the course I’ll leave this worry to them.

    3 – I’d like to see your sourcing here. Recruiting has been stable, some month to month ups and downs but mostly good. Some equipment is being aged more rapidly than expected due to increased ops tempo, but a lot of it was already on the old side. That’s just a question of money for replacements.

    4 – I don’t understand this argument. We get hit with the it’s too expensive, we can’t afford to stay in Iraq and then simultaneously with the Bush hasn’t asked for sacrifices. What precisely do you expect here? Conscription? Huge tax hikes? Mandatory hug the nearest soldier day?

    5 – By what metric? The military chose to due some recruiting PR with Tillman? If turning a questionable case into a hero is what passes for duplicity from the military these days I’ll take it. Better than the manufactured war crimes we’re seeing from the press. The genuine scandals of the war, Abu Ghraib in particular were brought to light BY THE MILITARY. The press didn’t pick up on it until the military announced the investigation in press releases. If the military had chosen to be duplicitous and covered it up, would we ever have heard of it?

    6 – We’re on Plan B now, do you mean there is no Plan C?

    7 – President Bush’s approval ratings are twice the Dems. I’m not sure what your standard for ‘memorable’ statements is that rates the candidates as worthless because they haven’t filled it… They all have positions clearly stated about Iraq.

    8 – In spite of the success of the surge it’ll be a failure?

    The military isn’t overly concerned with the current casualty count, we’re seeing a small increase in military casualties due to the new operating procedures and increased offensive tempo (and a huge drop in civilian casualties). If the surge works that should drop as areas are secured. We’ll know more in September.

    Properly funding the military is the job of Congress. Saying that Congress should pull us out of Iraq because the military is burning too many resources that Congress won’t allocate is a little…circular.

    And if we do pull out, what about the consequences? The “we’re bored so we’re going home now, sorry about the mess” line is a little shameful to me.

  66. Andrew J — Yes it’s Hayes and the Weekly Standard. Discredited? I hardly think so. GWB (as noted, lazy) just gave up. But Andrew McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor, a friend of among others Fitzgerald, and prosecuted a number of terror cases including IIRC some of the Blind Sheik people (follow on to the 1993 WTC bomber).

    But let’s assume that you are right and Saddam did NOT give $300K. That still leaves the Clinton indictments on AQ and Saddam cooperating to kill Americans. [Though I believe the balance of evidence and Andrew J. McCarthy’s support since he’d be in a position to know supports the assertion that Saddam did give signficant financial support to AQ.]

    The larger point is that Liberals say: withdraw and negotiate.

    With whom? The nature of our enemy (the Muslim people themselves) means we can’t negotiate. Muslim doctors in London, Islamic Rage Boy in Pakistan, Muslim clerics in Indonesia, they are all our enemies.

    And David Blue and others are correct, no matter what we do they will be angry with us and enraged and wish to attack us.

    The question therefore is, absent any way to come to any agreement, what can we do to secure ourselves from threats.

    1. We can kill most Muslims. We may come to that yet, but let’s try to avoid this, if for nothing else to save the human capital, the Ayaan Hirsi Alis who may contribute to our own culture. At any rate killing is revolting and should be avoided if it can.

    2. We can engage in some form of deterrence that won’t make Muslims love us but will make them fear us. Stay in Iraq, or do something frightful in leaving, those are the options for this choice.

    3. Something new: ally with China to invade Muslim oil-countries and pump them dry, we kick out all Muslims from the West (or don’t let Europeans in if they have Muslims) and merely kick them out of the US to the degree possible. China suffers from attacks on it’s people in Pakistan where Jihadis are intent on waging war on them as well as us. China is a nation where broad agreements can be made that will stick as long as they benefit the elite, at least. China needs the world economy going for the elite to keep power, which means cheap oil. China doesn’t care about human rights or such.

    A joint China-US project to invade Muslim oil countries, pump them dry, and then leave would prevent oil money from being used against us by Jihad (China’s force posture has so far prevented Shanghai skyscrapers from being hit by planes, but that as seen in Pakistan is eroding).

    Russia would object because it needs high oil prices, but against the US and China could not do much. The UN and the Euros would object but who cares, they are about as relevant as the Holy Roman Emperor. China could find wives for it’s men (Bare Branches) in Iran and Pakistan. The locals would lose but oh well.

    Systemically this solves the problem, after the oil is gone the ME can go back to where it was say, 1830.

  67. _We’re on Plan B now, do you mean there is no Plan C?_

    At the level of tactics and low-level strategy, we’ve had a new plan roughly every 6 months since 2003. Our OODA loop takes about 6 months, so every 6 months when we see that the current plan isn’t working we come up with something else. This time around Bush decided to publicise that plan as if it’s something basicly new, but it’s just the usual new strategy, not something that Bush would normally notice.

    When people talk about “no plan B” they’re usually talking about something like this:
    “no plan B”:http://rawstory.com/news/afp/No_Plan_B_planning_in_Iraq_US_ambas_07192007.html

    They asked ambassador Crocker if there was some plan B that would involve drawing down US troops in iraq, and Crocker said he hadn’t heard of any such plan whatsoever.

    _President Bush’s approval ratings are twice the Dems._
    “poll”:http://www.pollingreport.com/iraq.htm

    _In spite of the success of the surge it’ll be a failure?_

    Has there been a secret success? Petraeus said he’d know whether we were succeeding by September, maybe we’ll have successes by then. But in the short run we’re way behind schedule in occupying Baghdad, and the iraqi government is way behind schedule in its benchmarks. There isn’t a lot of good news except that unreliable civilian estimates of civilian deaths are down. But then, we announced reduced civilian deaths in Baghdad july last year and it turned out part of that was because of underreporting.
    “civilians”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_conflict_in_Iraq_since_2003#Systematic_underreporting_by_U.S.

  68. _How long would you remain open to being convinced?_

    September. Petraeus said he’d know by then.

    If it’s only a partial failure and promising enough to limp along further hoping it will improve, then I’ll consider that then.

    But let’s not pretend. If it isn’t clearly succeeding in September, let’s not pretend that it isn’t a failure. Let’s not say we knew all along that September was too soon to tell but Petraeus said he’d know by then because he thought lying about that would be a good thing. Let’s not say we didn’t really have a plan so the plan isn’t behind schedule when it turns out it’s behind schedule.

    If we extend the same plan for another six months it’s because we’re saying OK, it didn’t work as well as we expected but maybe if we do the same thing again we’ll get a different result. Or we can try some new plan after this one fails, like we’ve done every 6 months or so since the occupation started.

    Or who knows, maybe in September we’ll get good news. But it doesn’t look like it.

    “1report”:http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-talk/2007/06/june_17_petraeus_hints_iraq_su.html
    “2report”:http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N31220099.htm
    “3report”:http://thinkprogress.org/2007/06/05/petraeus-surge/
    “4report”:http://www.channel3000.com/news/13445342/detail.html

    But really, it isn’t my choice. It doesn’t matter what you think or I think, we’re just passengers on this bus.

  69. _How long would you remain open to being convinced?_

    _September. Petraeus said he’d know by then._

    I don’t see that he said that. He promised to provide an assessment in September.

    bq. _During Secretary Gates’ recent visit to Iraq, we agreed that in early September, Ambassador Ryan Crocker and I would provide an assessment of the situation in Iraq with respect to our mission and offer recommendations on the way ahead. We will be forthright in that assessment, as I believe I have been with you today._

    “transcript”:http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=3951

    Petraues says he won’t have anything “definitive”:http://www.iraqslogger.com/index.php/post/2820/Petraeus_No_Definitive_Guidance_by_September) in September. Assuming he is correct, then can I assume you are no longer open to being convinced?

  70. And despite what the ambassador says, there is a plan B. The pentagon might be calling it a concept or a working project. The Bush administration may not want to formally recognize it or answer questions about when it might be used. But it exists:

    bq. _President Bush and his top aides have signaled in recent days that they are beginning to look more closely at a “post-surge” strategy that would involve a smaller U.S. troop presence in Iraq and a mission focused on fighting al-Qaeda and training the Iraqi army._

    “WaPo in May”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/26/AR2007052601027.html

    bq. _The Bush administration is developing “concepts” for cutting U.S. combat forces in Iraq by up to half next year, The New York Times reported in Saturday editions. Citing senior administration officials involved in the internal debate over Iraq, the Times said the scenarios called for a reduction in troop levels to about 100,000 by the midst of next year’s presidential election campaign._

    “Reuters”:http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N25205878.htm

    I would have to look closer, but this looks like what Clinton proposed earlier this year.

  71. bq. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, has said that by then he will have a handle on whether the current troop increase is having any impact on political reconciliation between Iraq’s warring factions._
    “report”:http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/05/08/185005.aspx

    We’ve all known all along that September was the deadline for reporting progress. There’s nothing new here. Saying we can’t get a decent report in September means the plan is failing.

    _Assuming he is correct, then can I assume you are no longer open to being convinced?_

    No. Even after we agree that the plan is failing, I might still go along with it if we have no better alternative.

    At this point withdrawing from iraq over about 6 months looks to me like a far better plan, but maybe by September (or November, or whenever Petraeus thinks he has enough progress to report) I’ll see that pulling out is just as bad.

    And anyway, it doesn’t matter what I think. I get no say in this at all, except I get to talk about what I want with other people who get absolutely no say in it, like you.

    It doesn’t matter what you think. Your opinion makes absolutely completely no difference whatsoever until perheaps January 2009. And maybe not then. If you feel better from “supporting the war” then by all means put a “support the troops” sticker on your car. It’s cheap and you can feel better and people on the road who have absolutely no say in it, can look at your car and know that you support the war.

  72. “There is a growing sense that people voted for change in 2006 and they aren’t getting it,” Zogby said.

    14% approval. Who will they blame more, the guys who try to change things and can’t, or the guys who’re stopping them?

    _I suppose this means Bush has political capital to burn before he’s neck and neck with the Dems in the race for 0%._

    Probably public opinion about congress would perk up a whole lot if they’d just start impeachments.

  73. What’s a URL?

    When Alexander asked Euclid for any easier way to learn geometry, Euclid was disgusted. “Hodon basileion ouk estin.” Do you learn warfare without the hard and bitter experiences? Anything that is worthwhile, do you learn it without the hard and bitter experiences?

    As pure pragmatism, this war is prob the best thing that ever happened to the USA. It is unbelievable that we have had only 3600 fatalities in all this time. Of course most of the time there is very little fighting going on. The casualties for the most part are made by the jihadis who like their scenes painted red. That’s where the terror part of things comes in. And since we will be fighting this thing prob for a generation, the lessons in the fight are invaluable. It is just so much idiocy to hear how we are spawning this horrible Islamic uprising. Only by fighting it will it ever diminish. And we will need to learn all the lessons we can in fighting it. And what a learning experience it has been. We have prob in our history never had such a fantastic learning experience. (though the American public has been spared of it all by the media in absentia, it is all out there. Cf. Operation Ithaca, chasing down and taking down 53 jihadis falling back up the Diyala Valley without one scratched American after firefights galore, getting people back to their homes again, getting them food & clothing, getting their electicity, water, schools, markets running again, their civilian magistrates back in office again, all pledged never to seek vengence upon any one of a different sect or tribe.)

    This will prove incalculably valuable for rounds two, three, four and… If GWB holds on till the moment of the next president’s inauguration, perhaps this ugly business will be diminished to the point that a civilized society can exist and progress in Iraq. The jihadis (all but those from Iran) are largely exhausted and pulling back. The Shiite militias realize it’s time to just whistle a while.

    We can and must decry those who have fallen, but that they have led us on to the absolutely vital stuff we have had to learn – kind of kicking and screaming the while like the spoiled kids we are – this must redound to their everlasting glory. If we go back now to our corner and dont want to come out for the next round, they will most certainly come at us as we are still sitting down. What we must then relearn and relive, they have recorded in their blood and they will be unbelievably honored 15 years from now when the next generation understands what must be done and how to do it, and how feckless, sotten and mindless of them we, their parents, were.

  74. First let me correct a mis-statement–Point 3, which I meant to correct before I sent this out. I meant the Army. Sorry about that. For all I know, the Air Force is fine. It usually is. The Army, on the other and, is clearly not. When tours of duty are extended to 15 months, when home time is reduced, when recruiting standards keep getting weakened in order to even come close to meeting targets, there’s a problem.

    Now, two general points. One, I disagree with the idea that we can blithely ignore how we got to where we are now. This a what I was trying to say in the last paragraph–there’s a reason support for this adventure has dropped among Americans, why Iraqis don’t seem to want us there, and why no one is trying real hard to help out. Unless some acknowledgment is made that we lied and bullied our way into this war, none on that will change. And in order to develop a workable Plan B, which is going to require getting help from lots of people, they’re not going to bother unless we do that. Let’s say we want to put another 300,000 troops in (which is probably the order of magnitude required)–where are they going to come from? It will be a lot easier to get them with a bit of contrition. (Cue howls of outrage) I don’t expect that from the current crew, and even if prospects for that improved under a new administration, it’s not clear whether conditions will have improved over the next 18 months, or deteriorated significantly further.

    Second, Plan B. This is pretty important, since Plan A (keep doing what we’re doing until Bush can leave office, at which point it becomes someone else’s problem) doesn’t seem to command a lot of support at this point. It’s an all or nothing deal. Either we take our toys and go home, or we commit to a substantial increase in both military and non-military effort. If the former, we get three little mini-Iraqs, one of which will shortly be at war with Turkey, another of which will just be hopeless but very very bitter, and the third of which will become a client state of Iran–who gets their oil. Not a good outcome. Which means a Plan B that involves a large, multi-national force, with the involvement of a substantial number of European, Russian and Chinese troops, and the co-operation of Syria and Iran. (Cue more howls of outrage) Which means that we have agreed to share responsibility for the outcome in Iraq. Not something the current crew would consider, I suspect. But perhaps the only thing that will ensure a positive outcome for everyone–Americans, Iraqis, and the mideast. I don’t really see any alternatives. What Armed Liberal was hoping for, I bet, was some reason to think there was a realistic alternative other than these two. I think he’ll be disappointed–maybe I’ll be proved wrong. But I think that’s the way this is playing out. We’ve screwed the pooch badly here, and our options are considerably more limited than they were two or three years ago.

    Specific responses to points raised:

    1. There has been no change in _strategy_. There has been a change in _tactics_. The strategy remains what it has been for the past three years–try to avoid political embarrassment for the Bush administration by pretending that some sort of success is achievable with an insufficient number of troops. The fact that it continues to not work does not mean that anyone in the administration has the remotest interest in changing it.

    2. in response to the person who said that if this was a problem the military would say so–well, there have been a lot of people in the military who have a problem with this, and much else with this endeavor. They’ve been shown the door. Personally, I find in unconscionable to allow this state of affairs to continue, but there are clearly people who are fine with it. I generally find that we don’t have too much to say to each other.

    3. Addressed.

    4. to Treefrog–yes, I mean conscription. And higher taxes. That’s what should have been asked for in the first place for this to succeed. Too late now on the conscription part. Second one’s coming along at some point. Iraqi oil isn’t going to pay for this after all–who knew?

    5. I know this is hard to grasp, but many, if not most, Americans feel they were lied into this war. So one of the things that has to happen is for the people responsible for that to _stop lying_. Simple concept.

    6. There is no Plan B. But there does need to be one.

    7. Let me be more specific–have any of the Republican candidates, including McCain, said anything about Iraq _that made sense_?

    8. Well, let’s say I wait until September–that I’m for some reason still in a mood to give these people the benefit of the doubt. What metric would I be looking for? A substantial and sustained decline in Iraqi civilian casualties. There has been no evidence of that so far, but we’ve still got two months–you never know. Actually, I think we do know. But we’ll all wait politely anyway.

    Back to Plan B. I would really like to think that there might be one, but my confidence in the ability (not to say the interest) of the people running the show now is limited. Gates, has shown occasional signs of competence, but he’s up against Cheney and his crew. Petraeus may be a brilliant general. But he also had that nice op-ed in the WP (I think) right before the 2004 election about how well everything was going when he knew it wasn’t. And there has certainly been no interest among the current leadership in not just fixing the military part of the story, but in fixing the terribly botched reconstruction effort. Let’s take that out of the hands of the crooks. But that doesn’t mean that people of good will and common interests can’t come up with a good Plan B. I just don’t think that it’s likely with the current batch, and I’m not sure the American public, to say nothing of the Iraqis, are prepared to let the current state of affairs continue indefinitely.

    Enough. I live in London, and the bookstores all opened at midnight, and I just went and picked up the new Harry Potter. So who knows when the next post will be.

  75. Re: #65 from Treefrog. Hi. :)

    #65 from Treefrog:

    “The problem with the, let’s let our enemies fight it out amongst themselves is that it has a horrible historical track record. Playing Hitler against Stalin was the French pre-WW2 strategy. They were right that the two were natural enemies, but it didn’t exactly help them much, did it?”

    I’m tempted to say “that was the French,” and on reflection I will. To expand on that, the main reason “let’s you and him fight” as a strategy often eventually ends in defeat is that you are down to that option when you aren’t strong enough to beat your enemies. It’s a good idea, but it’s an idea of the desperate, and luck often runs out for the desperate.

    For example, the Byzantines got lots of value out of “let’s you and him fight,” but in the end their inferior demographics meant that against such an implacable force as Islam, they were doomed. They bought time, they bought more time, and then their time ran out.

    Judo is great: you turn the opponent’s strength against him, if things go right. But of course, if your opponent is the one with the strength, there’s your problem.

    To discuss remedying our bad demographics and other internal weaknesses so that we don’t need “judo” strategies to minimize the costs of weakness would fall outside the scope of this thread, and anyway, nobody needs to guess where I stand on the “culture of life” stuff, and I am trying to let such divisive topics rest.

    #65 from Treefrog:

    “Even more common in the play the enemies off against each other is the tendency for one side to pull off an unexpected overwhelming victory. War is whacky, some unknown military genius pops up out of left field, smashes the opposition and your suddenly facing a single opponent with the combined resources of all of your previous enemies.”

    That’s oh so true, and wise of you to call attention to it.

    Which is why I had to think hard about what I was prepared to risk as compared to what I hope for. And I listed the main risks, including the moral effect of defeat. And I think even with the risks, this is our best remaining option.

    #65 from Treefrog:

    “As far as I know, the only group to ever pull off the pit your enemies against each other feat regularly were the Romans, and they were always careful to make sure and destroy any group that seemed to be gaining any advantage. And it still blew up in their faces from time to time.”

    Lots of people have pulled this off some of the time, and there’s not a lot of military strategies of desperation that always work.

    #65 from Treefrog:

    “And I have an even bigger issue with the Muslim/non-Muslim divide. Historically that simply hasn’t been true, the Muslim world has never been as monolithic as the hard line Islamists would like to portray. Medieval history is full of examples of Muslims allying with non-Muslims against rival Muslim factions. The concept of the ‘umma’ has always been a fantasy.”

    It isn’t a fantasy now, it’s what we’re up against. Global communications and markets have increased the size of the collective Muslim force that can form a hostile will, till the whole Muslim world is not too big to be one foe.

    As for Muslim allies, historically, yes indeed, what would Dmitri Donskoi have done without them? Divide and conquer works.

    But, for example, the American – Turkish alliance proved worthless in the invasion of Iraq, because in an American-influenced world democracy thrives, and in a democracy 90% (approximately) hostility to kufrs fighting Muslims is going to have that effect.

    #65 from Treefrog:


    “I think the problem is the perception of the Islamists as implacable fanatics who will keep coming no matter what, and thus attempts to install democracy, moderate Islam, etc are doomed to failure. I see this a lot from both the left and the right. Probably about the only point they all agree on. The only way to stop them is to kill them all.”

    This is not my position.

    I think we are up against a paper program, like the chess programs that were written before people had computers to do the hack-work of going through the program. If a guy sits in a chair and plays the moves that come out of the program, Deep Blue or whatever it is is your opponent, not him. So it’s a system we’ve got to beat, not these or those guys who are or are not fanatical.

    Achmed next door may not be fanatical at all, but he’s still going to send his kids to be indoctrinated by Sheik Hilaly, and there’s our problem. Whereas Wacky Wanda may indeed be a fanatic on evil tea leaves, but she’s not part of a system that will continue forever or till it’s stopped, and that runs a program of violent holy law. So “fantaticism” is not the problem, and individual “fanatics” are not the problem.

    Consequently, my solution is not all about killing. That has a role, as in any war. But I’m advocating sensible war measures in the face of a threat, the same as we faced up to the threat of Communism. I want to fight for turf (to be lost for Islam and won by resolute unbelievers), and not only to inflict casualties that Muslim hyper-fertility will soon make good.

    I’m not seeing Islam as a mere excuse for desired anti-Arab genocides any more than I saw the system of Communism as a mere excuse for desired anti-Russian genocides. That was not and is not what this is about at all.

    If the whole sum of my thinking was “we should tell our soldiers to kill Muslims” I’d be for staying in Iraq.

    Instead, I want to take turf off Islam, and if that is not possible I don’t want us to take useless casualties. It’s not possible in Iraq. So let’s get out of Iraq.

    And since getting out of Iraq may allow large fratricidal fights that will kill off jihadists we would otherwise need to take casualties in order to kill off elsewhere, so as to take turf off the house of Islam and defeat the system of Islam: wonderful! We mustn’t let this chance slip!

  76. AL: as far as I know, the only source for the Saddam-USS Cole story is Douglas Feith’s report on alleged Osama/Saddam which his Office of Special Plans prepared outside the usual intelligence channels. Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard has written numerous articles and I believe a book that appear to be based on leaks (doubtless, approved) of Feith’s material. In all public discussion (that I know of) the original source is anonymous, and the many attestations of the connection on NRO, etc., are all derived from Feith and Hayes.

    So, basically, the evidence in favor is a report that was not approved by the usual channels in the Intelligence Community (whatever their worth might be) and was prepared by an ad hoc group whose reason for existence was finding evidence of the Osama/Saddam connection that had been overlooked (or, more accurately, assessed as uncorroborated or even false) by others.

    Frankly, I’m not aware of a specific disproof of this Feith-based story. But I am aware that many of his office’s other claims (including ones redistributed by Hayes) have been refuted conclusively, which leads me to suggest that nothing in the report should be taken at face value in the absence of other evidence.

    In particular, Feith’s report continued to champion the Atta in Prague story, which even VP Cheney finally gave up on. Another connection Feith hyped appears most probably based on the confusion of two similar names. We know that Feith’s sources included the trained seals sent by Ahmad Chalabi, and the “highly placed Iraqi officials” whom he quotes may include outright INC impostors.

    I predict that Jim will reiterate his belief in all of the “intelligence” gathered by Feith. The Internet has a lot of crackpot conspiracy theorists. Didn’t I just hear that Saddam sent his WMD to Syria over bad roads without being noticed by aerial surveillance? You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. The erosion of confidence in the Bush Administration has been caused by a migration from the former group to the latter.

  77. #65 from Treefrog:

    “To a fanatic Islamist, they are going to conquer the world. Period. Allah told them so. They are supremacists, they are better than the non-believers. Victory is assured.”

    Right.

    #65 from Treefrog:

    “So what happens when they are defeated, when they lose? How can they lose if Allah is on their side? There are only 3 logical choices.

    1 – Our beliefs are wrong, Allah is not on our side.
    2 – Our beliefs are correct, but Allah is not with us because we’re doing things wrong.
    3 – Our beliefs are correct, but the devil is with our opponents and evil intervention is why we lost.”

    4 – If Allah’s killers were not successful today, it is because they are destined to be successful tomorrow. (Historically, that’s been an acceptable answer. Just defer the day of victory. After all, millennial Christian fantasists endlessly defer the day of the fulfillment of prophesy and the LORD’s second coming.)

    5 – Time flies when you’re having fun. (The Janjaweed don’t have to care if the faithful elsewhere are not winning today if their rape and murder parties are fun. Anti-Soviet Afghan tribes were not dismayed when the Russians beat up another tribe. Each group takes joy in its victories and inspiration in other groups that are winning, while being discouraged only by its own defeats. And some other jihad group is always winning somewhere.)

    6 – A characteristic response of Muslims to disasters, including natural disasters, is to demand greater fanaticism, pretty much on the late Jerry Falwell’s theory that religious slackness and tolerance for unbelievers have forfeited Allah’s protection and incurred His wrath. There’s always someone who isn’t being as pure as the zealots want, and the plague / earthquake / defeat / whatever must be their fault! Todays fanatics too are not lacking in zeal to blame the slackers (and Jews etc.) for everything that goes wrong, and punish them.

    7 – If things go really badly for a long, long time, the Muslim world can go quiet, which explains the very atypical period of Muslim quiet that we just came out of. But this is like a thin layer of quiet grey ashes over a deep fire. Pour oil money and Muslim demographic superiority on the fire, let the Muslim hope of ages once again arise, the hope that fuels jihad, and – _whoops!_ – the fire was never out after all.

    We have a long, long hard task in front of us to push the Muslim world back into its quiet state once again.

    #65 from Treefrog:


    They have to pick one of the three options to explain defeats, nothing else works. Generally speaking they will pick either 2 or 3. They particularly like 3, wherein defeat is the result of Satan acting through various minions, especially Jews.

    Well, there are other options, but the Jews and the Evil One are favorites too.

  78. _Either we take our toys and go home, or we commit to a substantial increase in both military and non-military effort. If the former, we get three little mini-Iraqs, one of which will shortly be at war with Turkey, another of which will just be hopeless but very very bitter, and the third of which will become a client state of Iran–who gets their oil. Not a good outcome._

    That isn’t necessarily so. However, if we pull out then we can’t do much about it if it *is* so. So there’s a political risk to pulling out. Pull out and if things go wrong there’s nothing we can do about it except decide who to blame. But if we stay in there, whenever things go wrong we can come up with a new plan. Whoever’s in charge, when people start saying “This is all your fault” they can say “We have to win and this is not the time for political posturing. I have a new plan to win” and there’s a chance they’ll put aside the blame and fund the new plan. And you can do that over and over until it fails.

    I believe there’s a fairly good chance that iraq will settle down when we aren’t around to play soldiers-and-indians with them. But it’s risky, because if it goes bad we don’t have much of a Plan C at that point. So it won’t happen unless we have no adequate alternative, or unless we get a president who chooses to pull out due to his principles. And it’s hard for a politician with principles to get to be president.

    _Plan B … involves a large, multi-national force, with the involvement of a substantial number of European, Russian and Chinese troops, and the co-operation of Syria and Iran. (Cue more howls of outrage) Which means that we have agreed to share responsibility for the outcome in Iraq. Not something the current crew would consider, I suspect. But perhaps the only thing that will ensure a positive outcome for everyone–Americans, Iraqis, and the mideast. I don’t really see any alternatives._

    So, if the russian army and the chinese army are in iraq, who supplies them? Are we going to help them make supply lines through the various other countries to iraq? Or are we going to handle the supplies ourselves?

    This is just all kinds of bad. We’re going to teach them how we project force. We invite them to project force rather far from their borders. I just don’t like this at all. If we need a lot of troops, why not use egyptian troops? They owe us, they speak arabic, they aren’t in a good position to occupy iraq without our help, etc. Of course they’re sunnis, but the russian and chinese translators will tend to be sunnis too.

    Anyway, I don’t see how it helps to have more foreign troops. Foreign troops are good at shooting at people who shoot at them, if you don’t mind them also killing a lot of civilians. They aren’t real good at anything else in an occupation. More foreign troops won’t help much.

    It might be useful to have russian and american and chinese troops all cooperating to stomp the iraqis. Maybe working together at a common task we’d, ah, learn something useful. I dunno. What if we developed disagreements? I guess if we’ve got to fight the chinese iraq is a better place than taiwan, but….

    I agree with you that our original goals in iraq were kind of unclear and sortof kindof lies. What goals are we going to settle on that we’ll have in common with russia and china? (I’m tending to discount europe. Stalin asked, “How many battalions does the pope have?” So, how many battalions does europe have?) You’re talking about getting enough agreement to fight together. What exactly is it that we’re going to agree about with china, russia, iran, and syria? I just don’t see it.

    If we’re going to enforce our will on iraq, we need to do it ourselves. Get sufficient volunteers or persuade americans to accept a draft. It’s no use trying to get a lot of foreigners to help us enforce our will on iraq without a clear understanding about just what’s going to get enforced and what’s in it for them. And I don’t see that it’s in our interest to help china, russia, iran, and syria get the sort of goodies that would persuade them to help us occupy iraq.

    I think the choice is more between pulling out or trying to keep the status quo. We don’t have the will for a draft, and we don’t have the volunteers to get lots of troops without a draft. We lack altruistic allies who’ll give us lots of troops out of the goodness of their hearts. So a whole lot of reinforcements just isn’t in the cards.

  79. David Blue:

    “We have a long, long hard task in front of us to push the Muslim world back into its quiet state once again.”

    No, we don’t – unless we want it that way, or aren’t prepared to make it otherwise. The problem that the rest of the world has with Islam could be solved, permanently, in an afternoon.

    The REAL problem is that the West wouldn’t like itself afterwards – and Western ideals would not long survive.

    Smoking, glowing rubble is usually pretty quiet. So is glass.

  80. J Thomas–No Russian or Chinese troops? Fine with me–can’t really imagine why they would want to help, actually. Except they _do_ have lots of troops, as compared with, say, Egypt. And while we’re on the subject of owing us, how about the Saudis? Oh, wait.

    We can’t even get people who _like_ us to help out at this point. Gordon Brown, heeding the fully-justified concerns of the British command who are scared stiff that Afghanistan is going down the tubes, is desperate to pull troops from Iraq. And he will. Then what?

    But I suspect if this were no longer under American command, it would be much easier to at least broach the subject. It’s a mess, all right. All I was trying to do was suggest what would be required if we could reach some international consensus that a massive infusion of troops was appropriate. Still a long way from here to there.

  81. Re: #84 from Fletcher Christian:

    All I ask is that we act in reasonable, historically normal warlike ways to the real threat of an inimical system.

    Nuclear spasm war has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with my ideas.

    I don’t think we have the capacity to do that. And if we could do it it would be immoral, but the point is moot because we could not do it. We should direct our thoughts to more practical options.

    We’ve even worked out and implemented within living memory most of what we would need to do. Just substitute “Muuhammed (pbuh)” for “Karl Marx” and “Muslim” for “Marxist” and more than half the play-book is already written.

  82. #44 from David Blue

    bq. 2) Sunnis and Shi’ites regionally do not agree on who should dominate the land between the two rivers and who should suffer subjugation and humiliation, and we get something like the mother-beautiful Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, but on a regional scale and preferably for at least twice as long, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.”

    bq. Is that clear?

    That’s pretty clear. Not only do you accept responsibility for the consequences of option A, it is actually your desired outcome. That’s shocking. At one level, I don’t see how that furthers our National Interests, Idealistic or otherwise. Please explain.

    At another level, continuing with option B does not preclude us from following option A at a later date.

    What you haven’t addressed is the Ideological aspects of option B. We most definitely want to do whatever we can to promote the moderates within the Islamic world. It is the only chance to help them change within and avoid option A, especially in the broader regional sense, with the corresponding radicalism spreading unchecked. That’s going to require a lot of bullets and their may be shortages on the commodities market for the required metal. So, the reason Iraq was the ideal place to do this is not to exacerbate the Sunni-Shiite fault line and cause the mother of all wars, but to force them to moderate with each other in spite of that fault line. Ali Sistani is our best ally with his “Quietist” school of thought – separation of church and state.

    Again, this doesn’t preclude your solution if it comes to it but could provide a way out of it if we succeed.

  83. I do not know if this will be posted but for my 2¢ worth I believe that the second best thing about the War on Terror is that the American Military Is being forced kicking and screaming into not only rebuilding our military but into learning how to fight in all kinds of weather and how to train to fight in all kinds of weather. Also they are being forced to fight in cities and to train to fight in cities. And I hear that they are going to have to start training the new generals how to train as they fight just like the grunts. In 2001 Americas military was so hollow that we could do little but show up for a fight and that was with equipment that is 40 years old. My hope is that by the time this is over that the military will have learned to start replacing equipment on a constant basis rather than buy 500 and hold your breath for 20 years. Any way you look at it When the next war comes America will be fighting it with seasoned people with total training systems in place, with new equipment that has been built to SURVIVE rather than explode. We will not be another Israle that did not fight a battle in 30 years and then found out they forgot how to. Oh yea the best thing about this war is people helping people and I am proud of our kids out there making life worth living for someone other than themselves.
    WW

  84. #44 from David Blue

    2) Sunnis and Shi’ites regionally do not agree on who should dominate the land between the two rivers and who should suffer subjugation and humiliation, and we get something like the mother-beautiful Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, but on a regional scale and preferably for at least twice as long, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.”

    Is that clear?

    #87 from RobW:

    That’s pretty clear. Not only do you accept responsibility for the consequences of option A, it is actually your desired outcome. That’s shocking. At one level, I don’t see how that furthers our National Interests, Idealistic or otherwise. Please explain.

    It’s not shocking, it’s just sensible.

    Islam means “submission” and that’s what it is, and what it demands. It is a system, a play-book, that guides those who submit to create more of those who submit, by means including and not limited to force, and also aims to keep those who have submitted in a state of submission, permanently. (Apostates may be punished, even killed.)

    The system is relentless. It doesn’t return favors, or feel pity or anything like that. It’s much more like any chess program that may be on your computer: it it’s allowed to seize material, it does, and it’s not morally obligated to to you a favor in return. Islam inherently radical, not moderate. It’s aggressive, dogmatic, intolerant and violent, and it’s playing for unlimited stakes.

    Islam separates the world into Muslim and non-Muslim camps, with the non-Muslim bit defined as evil and the house of war. Islam must and will dominate evil. Islam must dominate everywhere, and Muslims must rule everywhere, to the end of time.

    Muslims must command what Allah commands, and forbid what Allah forbids. Command! Forbid! These are not intended as suggestions that can and will be rejected with impunity. This is a system of domination.

    If you understand Islam, you also understand that Islamic domination is a bad thing, especially for designated targets of the hatred of the umma, the Muslim world. For all time, that means polytheists, “idol-worshipers”, Jews, Christians and anyone or any state deemed an obstruction to the spread of Islam. In modern times, and with no end that we can point to, that means also the Great Satan (the United States of America), the Little Satan (Israel), and friends and allies of the Great Satan and the Lesser Satan, such as Australia.

    States committed to Islam as a source of law inherently have a bias that makes them dangerous to America, so it is wrong, contrary to our national interests, to build and build up such states.

    America is building up two such Islamic states, Iraq and Afghanistan, and providing funding for others, such as the quasi-state of Afghanistan. All this is contrary to the national interest, and it should stop.

    Since the camp of Islam is in a permanent underlying state of war with us (though war may temporarily and provisionally be suspended, at ruinous prices such as the payment if “jizya” or in effect Danegeld) it is in out interest for Islamic armed forces to degrade, to write each other down. Bluntly, they should busy themselves killing each other rather than us, wearing down their will to fight rather than wearing us down.

    Though the system of Islam is inherently relentless, all human beings are human beings first, and members of systems and communities second. Communist, Muslim or gung-ho American: we’re all human. And human beings can get tired and discouraged.

    That happens in protracted and unsuccessful war, where the casualties stay way higher than people can bear, and they cannot adjust them down. Then, major cultural changes can happen. For example, the First World War produced cultural changes in the West, and the Second World War produced further changes.

    A conflict that:
    1. Halts the creation of inherently hostile states, and
    2. Writes down (or prefrably off) lots of hostile warriors and war materials, and
    3. Might have an outside chance, if it went long enough and spread wide enough and imposed costs high enough, to produce major cultural changes, the way centuries of failed crusades or the vast toll of the trenches on the Western Front and the abortive effort of the Germans to re-adjudicate that conflict changed European culture …

    … is devoutly to be desired in every way. It’s in the vital national interest of the Great Satan and every country allied to it.

    And there is nothing immoral about hoping it happens., This is war, and self-preservation.

    As for trying to engineer it, no.

    I believe in simple plans in war. (I also believe our tools of intrigue, such as the CIA, are worthless, and nothing serious should be entrusted to them, so let’s skip anything that smacks of intrigue.)

    I believe we have very little ability to influence minds in the Muslim world. (This is even one reason why we need such blunt change agents.)

    So, Keep It Simple, Stupid. No tricks, we just leave.

    And if everybody in Iraq and parts nearby then realizes that under all that Muslim dogma, and under the poisonously aggressive cultures it produces, all men are brothers, and arms are for hugging – good for them! I wouldn’t lift a finger to spoil the love-fest.

    But if they are such bloody-minded fanatics that they have to kill infidels and lacking infidels to kill they are so blood-thirsty that they’ll kill each other instead, which is what I think may be the case, then good for us. Let them kill each other.

    Better them than us. That is what it comes down to.

  85. Oops! Among many typos:

    America is building up two such Islamic states, Iraq and Afghanistan, and providing funding for others, such as the quasi-state of “Palestine”. All this is contrary to the national interest, and it should stop.

    (Preview would be my friend…)

  86. #87 from RobW:

    At another level, continuing with option B does not preclude us from following option A at a later date.

    Which is why it’s OK by me to let the surge play itself out.

    Do you know the story about teaching a horse to sing?

    You can tell an optimistic story by never getting around to the end. But in reality, the end comes. Constantinople bought time. Then it bought more time. Then its time was up.

    In reality, horses don’t sing.

    #87 from RobW:

    What you haven’t addressed is the Ideological aspects of option B.

    Have too, have too. The ideological aspect is about systems, not individuals and whether you like them or not. I’ve been about systems all along.

    #87 from RobW:

    We most definitely want to do whatever we can to promote the moderates within the Islamic world.

    I’ve never agreed with that.

    Would you have been willing to accept unlimited commitments to support with funds and military force Trotsky against Stalin or vice versa, or Bukharin or Zinoviev against both or either? Assuming the answer is no, me either. It would have been crazy for us to fight for Marxism of any flavor. That system is not our friend.

    Equally, in the same way, I don’t think we should be pouring blood and money into building an Islamic state in order to support Sistani against Sadr.

    Especially since, when you support Sistani, he makes it a litmus test of your faithfulness to him that you not kill Sadr – which guarantees the rise of the latter.

    It’s an insane, self-defeating game. Because that’s how the Islamic game is meant to work – it’s supposed to make infidels losers. And it does work. As long as we play by Muslim rules, which they require us to do as negotiating partners, we wind up as losers.

    Which is one of many good reasons why we are in the post-negotiation phase.

    #87 from RobW:

    So, the reason Iraq was the ideal place to do this is not to exacerbate the Sunni-Shiite fault line and cause the mother of all wars, but to force them to moderate with each other in spite of that fault line.

    Exactly. And we shouldn’t do that.

    #87 from RobW:

    Ali Sistani is our best ally with his “Quietist” school of thought – separation of church and state.

    And hands off the Islamic head-cutters.

    Sistani is an example of why it’s useless at best for us to put our faith in Islamic moderates.

    #87 from RobW:

    Again, this doesn’t preclude your solution if it comes to it but could provide a way out of it if we succeed.

    We gave it the old college try, over a more than reasonable amount of time.

    George W. Bush will keep grinding away till he leaves office, following his faith that Muslims love freedom for themselves (and implicitly for others) the same way Methodists do, just the same. But it’s nonsense.

    The sooner we fight the way we should, the better for us, that is the better our chances will be. The more time we waste, the worse it is for us. But for the time being, we have to wait.

    (shrug) That’s the war.

  87. Re #86 from David Blue:

    It is my contention that the described solution would be historically normal and entirely appropriate.

    Sixty-two years ago, America (it was mostly America, in this case) was facing an ideology nothing like as evil or implacable as the one we all in the West now face.

    The response was total war; the destruction by firestorm of a dozen enemy cities (bear in mind that they didn’t have all that many more than that) and ultimately the first, and so far only, two nuclear weapons to be used in combat. At the end of World War II, millions of Japanese had died and huge swathes of their country were rubble.

    Perhaps I ought to remind you that the casualties at Pearl Harbor were actually less than those of 9/11. And those casualties ultimately led to apocalypse, at least for Japan.

    Japan also had _less_ capacity to cause damage and death in the continental US than does the current enemy.

    There is another point. Japan was ready to continue fighting, despite the destruction of many of its cities, until the fires of Hell were let loose on two cities; not even the largest ones left. The effect was partly psychological, in that they finally realised they couldn’t win.

    Short of genocide, there is one solution left. The current enemy has the complete conviction that God is on their side and will protect them and ensure their victory. I think that conviction would not long survive the destruction of their three most (un)holy places, demonstrating that God would not or could not protect them. And those places are not even particularly large cities.

    I refer of course to Mecca, Medina and Qom. The fourth holy city has a disadvantage from this point of view, and would therefore be spared. There could be no military or moral excuse for the erasure of Jerusalem from the map, at least by us.

    And if that doesn’t work? Well, at least we tried. And fire is the greatest cleanser.

  88. #88 from Wayne Warner:

    I do not know if this will be posted…

    It was. :)

    #88 from Wayne Warner:

    … but for my 2¢ worth I believe that the second best thing about the War on Terror is that the American Military Is being forced kicking and screaming into not only rebuilding our military but into learning how to fight in all kinds of weather and how to train to fight in all kinds of weather. Also they are being forced to fight in cities and to train to fight in cities. And I hear that they are going to have to start training the new generals how to train as they fight just like the grunts. In 2001 Americas military was so hollow that we could do little but show up for a fight and that was with equipment that is 40 years old.

    The East Timor crisis taught us that the so-expert Australian Armed forces were logistically inept to an alarming degree.

    We joined the American in the long war that from our point of view began on 11 September 2001 for the right reasons, as allies and friends, but I think it’s now clear that had we not done so, we would have gotten weaker and more out of it militarily, and eventually we would have paid for that.

    #88 from Wayne Warner:

    My hope is that by the time this is over that the military will have learned to start replacing equipment on a constant basis rather than buy 500 and hold your breath for 20 years.

    It’s also a good idea to buy equipment that we can use in combination with our real allies, which means the Americans. Abrams tanks are useful. We will need to fight in harmony with our real allies. Antique Leopards are not very useful, unless we are planning to go to war shoulder to shoulder with the Germans in heroic defense of the West. I’m glad we seem to have gotten that part figured out.

    #88 from Wayne Warner:

    Any way you look at it When the next war comes America will be fighting it with seasoned people with total training systems in place, with new equipment that has been built to SURVIVE rather than explode. We will not be another Israle that did not fight a battle in 30 years and then found out they forgot how to.

    Good thinking, Wayne Warner.

    #88 from Wayne Warner:

    Oh yea the best thing about this war is people helping people and I am proud of our kids out there making life worth living for someone other than themselves.
    WW

    Bless your idealistic heart. :)

  89. It sounds like we’re approaching a consensus on some things.

    First, our goal of getting a US-friendly government in iraq is not likely. We don’t have agreement about why that is, and it’s worth looking at that.

    Is iraq inherently hostile because they’re muslims? I doubt it, but apart from that let’s look at more immediate reasons. When we conquered iraq, iraqis thought we were going to take care of them while they got back on their feet. “Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!” We didn’t. We didn’t provide security or let them provide security for themselves. We didn’t do reconstruction or let them do reconstruction themselves. And under Bremer we didn’t let them start on democracy.

    And fundamentally our occupation got iraqis to distrust us. We treated every iraqi as a potential suicide bomber and every iraqi vehicle as a potential car bomb. It was natural of us — some of the were suicide bombers and we didn’t want to take the chance. But when we treated every iraqi as a likely enemy they got the idea we weren’t going to be nice to them. The way you run counterinsurgency in a friendly nation versus a hostile nation is just completely different.

    Say the government of brazil was running a program against a few terrorists who weren’t very popular. First and most important, they ask the public to watch out for terrorists and report things that look suspicious. And when people report something, the police investigate. They send a brave policeman to the door and knock on it, and they talk to the terrorists and look the situation over, and maybe they make an arrest or maybe they don’t. If the terrorists start shooting then the police take cover and then shoot carefully. Ideally they send in a SWAT team that settles it with a few careful shots. They do not shoot up the whole neighborhood, and they emphatically do not call in airstrikes. They want people to believe that when terrorists move in next door, calling in the police will get *protection*, not get them bombed.

    When the government gets definite information about terrorists they might seal off a city block before they catch them. It inconveniences citizens but a little inconvenience is necessary. “Oh, you don’t want to go in there, Ma’am. There’s *terrorists* in there.” They don’t do very much of that kind of thing, because they don’t want to disrupt traffic etc. But in a hostile occupation it’s fine to seal off areas on a permanent basis and require people to go through checkpoints every day. Not like they deserve to have an economy. If somebody spends 2 hours waiting at a chcckpoint to get to work, and 2 hours waiting to come home, that’s fine — they’re hostile. (And if they weren’t hostile before they’ll get that way.)

    Imagine the british looking for terrorists in london. They seal off a city block and carefully search every house. They confiscate any contraband they find — guns, drugs, vibrators, money. You come to your door and say “But I checked, there aren’t any terrorists in my house!” and they throw you to the foor and put a boot on your head and point guns at you. They shoot your dog. After they leave you might not have any sympathy for the terrorists they’re looking for, but how much are you going to support the government?

    If we used those methods in ohio it wouldn’t take long before ohio was ready to secede.

    Our counterinsurgency methods are fundamentally flawed, in terms of low-level tactics. The british did somewhat better in northern ireland — they didn’t protect themselves from the general public, and the general public didn’t turn violently against them, but they lost relatively a lot of people to the IRA. The IRA stayed small and dangerous instead of getting real big. The british put up with that for a lot of years. Not ideal. I don’t know how to do it right, but the way we do it is fundamentally wrong.

    Given our tactics, the iraqis would have turned against us by now even if they were buddhists instead of muslims. Whether muslims are inherently evil or not, we have to get better occupation techniques before we do a long-term occupation in a nonmuslim nation. No more occupations until we learn how.

    Consensus — Second, the surge probably isn’t working but we can wait until September, or November or February to decide. If it looks like it isn’t working in February or whenever then Bush will present a new plan — likely a bigger surge — and we can argue about that. But if it looks like it worked then we can let the surge wind back. From the beginning the plan was that the “surge” was temporary, we’d juggle schedules and get one last pulse from the army before we had to give them a chance to recover some.

    Success for the surge means that by Semptember (or February or whenever) we’ll have given the iraqi government enough of a breather that they did what it took to get the iraqi public on their side and they have a solid chance to end the violence and start reconstruction, and the extra troops go home. Anything else is failure.

    So, I see that much consensus. We’re probably not going to get a US-friendly iraqi government. The surge is probably not working and probably not going to work, but we’ll wait and see for lack of any alternative to wait-and-see. Have we agreed on anything more?

  90. About islamofascists —

    Start off by reading the whole Koran. Start at the end and work forward, chapter by chapter. That’s how it’s organised, the earlier stuff comes at the end. Lots and lots of scripture about peaceful coexistence and getting along with the heathen, from the days when muslims were minorities. The uncompromising stuff is at the beginning, from after they’d won.

    Muslims tend to make good citizens when they don’t have a large majority. Kind of like christians and latter-day saints.

    A few muslims like the idea of dying for the cause and going to paradise with virgins and all. A few christians like the idea of preaching to the cannibals and winding up in a cooking pot and going to heaven and all. We can expect not many to follow either path. It’s like an old used-up campaign promise, mostly useful for the enemy to quote.

    Apart from oil, the whole arab world doesn’t have much of an economy at all. They are not a threat unless they find some special way to spend their oil income. But they mostly need that oil income to feed their people, what makes saudi arabis special is they have such a small population and so much oil. They have spare money they can spend as they like. And they aren’t living hand-to-mouth so they don’t have to pump their oil as fast as they can to keep food on the table. But iran has oil and many people, and they’re poor. Iraq had oil and many people, and they were pretty poor. Syria is poor. Egypt is poor. Pakistan is poor. Etc. They aren’t much of a threat.

    We’re kind of vulnerable to terrorism. AQ made a truck-bomb attack on WTC that narrowly failed. American terrorists made a successful truck bomb attack in Oklahoma City. Then there was 9/11, an innovative attack that could be done only once (and should have failed that one time, except for an improbably set of coincidences). We don’t particularly have an arab terrorist problem, but we do have a truck bomb problem. This is something for us to handle, and islamic terrorists are only one little piece of it. Anybody could hit us this way, so we need to harden our noses more than we need to stop one particular set of terrorists. As long as this looks like a very-effective way to hit us, pretty much any dedicated enemy will hit us this way.

    We might be vulnerable to foreign governments that sneak nukes into the USA to blow them up anonymously. I don’t know how good our defenses are and neither do you. If you do know how good they are, you know better than to tell the rest of us. Governments are mostly never going to give nukes to terrorists — it’s just too stupid. But there could be an issue about anonymous nukes. At least with ICBMs you can tell where they’re coming from unless they come out of the ocean. Even then you can make a good guess based on how the ICBM behaves etc. I don’t know what to do about this but it mostly isn’t a muslim or arab problem.

    It mostly isn’t a problem about our enemies getting nukes. Look at our history — for a long time iran was our good ally, but the shah’s government fell apart. (Part of the reason was his secret police torturers who were supposed to catch dissidents and who caused more dissidents than they removed.) With iran gone, we made good friends with Saddam for awhile, but — partly because of iran/contra and maybe partly because he used poison gas on civilians — that didn’t work out. Egypt was a russian client until we gave them a better deal and now they’re a US client. Turkey was our good friend and NATO member but we started being too nice to kurds.

    We don’t have a lot of stable enemies and we don’t have many stable friends. By the time a third-world enemy gets nukes they’re likely to be temporarily friendly with us, and by the time one of our allies gets nukes they’re likely to be an enemy. We were better off when we were effective at keeping *practically everybody* from getting nukes, but those days are gone. So we have to be ready for anonymous nukes, and arabs are only one possible source.

    Arabs are just not that credible a threat. It wasn’t all that long ago that people were hyping the chinese threat. A billion maoists, taught to think of americans as the running dogs of capitalism, ready to take over the world. The rejoinder was “How will they get here? Swim?”. But then they got nukes. And somehow it all died down, and now their economy is growing 9% per year and they’re collecting our debt and we just aren’t very worried about them, we’re worried about muslims.

    When the USSR collapsed we didn’t know how to live without a deadly enemy and we floundered around looking for one, and islamofascists were the best substitute we could find. But they just aren’t very dangerous. Maybe someday they could turn into a big danger, if we nurse them along just so, for long enough. But they’re no substitute for international communism.

  91. #89 from David Blue

    bq. #87 from RobW:

    bq. That’s pretty clear. Not only do you accept responsibility for the consequences of option A, it is actually your desired outcome. That’s shocking. At one level, I don’t see how that furthers our National Interests, Idealistic or otherwise. Please explain.

    bq. _It’s not shocking, it’s just sensible._

    You didn’t explain how option A furthers our National Interests. Instead you put forth your interpretation of Islam and how it translates into their relations with non-muslim world.

    #89 from David Blue

    bq. _Islam inherently radical, not moderate. It’s aggressive, dogmatic, intolerant and violent, and it’s playing for unlimited stakes._

    Like Catholicism before it, a radical interpretation of the religion puts it into a state of constant war. In the case of Catholicism it took Protestantism to moderate the ideology and the result was democracy. In moderating Islam, the result may not be the Democracy we know and love, but it will of necesity be moderate and liberal. That is in direct conflict with the radical interpretation and that is the war we want to see internal to Islam.

    #91 from David Blue

    bq. #87 from RobW:

    bq. What you haven’t addressed is the Ideological aspects of option B.

    bq. _Have too, have too. The ideological aspect is about systems, not individuals and whether you like them or not. I’ve been about systems all along._

    Systems are not homogenous. They are made up of individuals with varying belief systems. There is most definitely moderate beliefs within Islam, but they are under assault, so they aren’t very vocal. There is increasing evidence that they are starting to find their voices and their courage (Iraq, Egypt, KSA, Lebanon) and there are many other places where they are still oppressed (Syria, Pakistan).

    #91 from David Blue

    bq. _The sooner we fight the way we should, the better for us, that is the better our chances will be. The more time we waste, the worse it is for us. But for the time being, we have to wait._

    How is option A better for us? We don’t have the bullets or the tools to fight radical Islam unchecked. We need to check it through promoting moderation.

    From news reports from Diyala, for instance, the Iraqis are quite happy that we have interceded and chased off the insurgents. That is prime property for promoting moderation, since they have experienced radicalism. By all accounts, they are very receptive.

    *This is the war*

  92. J. Thomas:

    When the USSR collapsed we didn’t know how to live without a deadly enemy and we floundered around looking for one, and islamofascists were the best substitute we could find.

    Yeah, heard that one before. But the use of the tired Marxist canard about how capitalism needs enemies shows that not all of us won the war against communism.

  93. _But the use of the tired Marxist canard about how capitalism needs enemies shows that not all of us won the war against communism._

    I certainly didn’t and wouldn’t say that capitalism needs enemies. I say that a fraction of the US public needs enemies.

    And a collection of US companies need us to have enemies, because the US government is practically their only market. I suppose you could call it capitalism when they sell only to the government, but I don’t, particularly.

  94. Re: #98 from wufnik: thanks for the link, and that’s one more excellent reason for us to be out of there.

  95. J. Thomas:

    I say that a fraction of the US public needs enemies.

    Well, in your comment you said “we didn’t know how to live without a deadly enemy,” so I took it that you are on intimate terms with this fraction.

    Islamofascism may be no threat to you, at least not yet, though it was plenty deadly enough to Theo Van Gogh, Daniel Pearl, and 3000 New Yorkers, among many others.

    But then the purges, famines, and gulags of communism are just something that happened to other people, too, right?

  96. Ah, Glen.

    The communists took over russia, a vast underdeveloped nation. They started training engineers and building stuff and getting powerful. They looked like a threat. Then they took over china, another vast underdeveloped nation. The chinese started training engineers and building stuff, but they did a lot of crazy stuff too, like the Great Leap Forward where they showed millions of peasants how to smelt iron and steel, apparently on the theory they didn’t want anybody to be able to bomb them back to the stone age.

    And after that, any time some government that was “anticommunist” had a serious revolt going, we assumed it was communists doing it. “They’re trying to overthrow Duvalier! It must be communists!” “They’re trying to overthrow Trujillo! They’re communists!” “They’re trying to overthrow Torrijos! Communists!” But then they did overthrow Batista, and faced with unremitting US hostility and soviet offers of assistance, they really did go communist.

    So, the communists at one point controlled 1/6 of the earth’s land surface. Two competing communist nations with nukes and ICBMs. An unknown number of dedicated agents around the world who looked just like the citizens of their own nations. The two largest armies in the world.

    And the islamofascists currently control none of the earth’s land surface. They currently have no nukes, and they have a small number of arab agents in other countries, some of whom can pass for citizens of india.

    You’re reaching, man.

  97. #94 from J Thomas:

    “It sounds like we’re approaching a consensus on some things.

    First, our goal of getting a US-friendly government in iraq is not likely.”

    Right.

    #94 from J Thomas:

    “Consensus — Second, the surge probably isn’t working but we can wait until September, or November or February to decide. If it looks like it isn’t working in February or whenever then Bush will present a new plan — likely a bigger surge — and we can argue about that.”

    No, I think the surge is working.

    It’s aim is to buy time for Iraqi politicians to make political reforms. Time has been bought – long enough for reforms, or for a horse to learn to sing, if horses were inclined to sing.

    In fact, Iraqi politicians have gone on holidays. But that is not the fault of General David Petraeus or American and allied armed forces.

    #94 from J Thomas:

    “Have we agreed on anything more?”

    Armed Liberal said this was a good thread, focused on the topic, not personal sniping and the usual red herrings. Nobody has disputed that.

    Otherwise, no.

  98. #95 from J Thomas:

    About islamofascists –

    Start off by reading the whole Koran. Start at the end and work forward, chapter by chapter.

    Thanks for the advice, but I have read the Koran backwards and forwards in different translations.

    My knowledge remains trivial compare to people like Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald at Jihad Watch (link) and Dhimmi Watch (link). They keep telling the truth. Robert Spencer’s books stand un-refuted. I believe them.

    On the other hand, the authors I grew up on, Runciman and (mainly) Glubb Pasha, have not stood the test of time. The conventional wisdom has failed. And the new apologists for Islam, such as Armstrong and Esposito, are worse.

    So I know the truth or where to look it up, which is what you really need to know on specialist topics, and I don’t feel any need for further diversions in this direction.

    On the other hand, I think you could benefit, if you were willing, from following Robert Spencer’s series Blogging the Koran, as Hot Air.

    Thus far:
    Introduction by Hot Air: (link)
    Introduction by Robert Spencer: (link)
    Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 1, “The Opening”: (link)
    Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 2, “The Cow,” verses 1-39: (link)
    Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 2, “The Cow,” verses 40-75: (link)
    Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 2, “The Cow,” verses 75-140: (link)
    Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 2, “The Cow,” verses 141-210: (link)
    Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 2, “The Cow,” verses 211-221: (link)

    The truth is out there.

  99. #96 from RobW: “You didn’t explain how option A furthers our National Interests. Instead you put forth your interpretation of Islam and how it translates into their relations with non-muslim world.”

    The non-Muslim world … specifically including “the Great Satan”, that is the United States of America, the nation whose interest it is to have less Islam. So I have addressed this.

  100. #96 from RobW:

    “We don’t have the bullets or the tools to fight radical Islam unchecked.”

    So we need to busy ourselves making both.

  101. Armed Liberal, I sympathize with your physical weariness. I, too am weary right now, and casting my thoughts upon the war is not a comforting notion. Yet I feel obliged to take you up and assess the situation before us.

    Victory in Iraq remains the best option, by far. Withdrawl from Iraq entails a host of very serious problems. Our withdrawl would create a power vacuum that invites violent chaos amongst Iraq’s various tribes, to horrible effect. Our withdrawl would also embolden the jihadists, who could then reasonably claim, “We defeated the Soviet superpower first, then the American one. God is Great, and He’s on our side!” Can you think of a better recruiting tool? Simultaneously, our own military would suffer a huge penalty in morale, recruitment, resolve, and a crisis of confidence. With considerable justification, our military would conclude that our political class had failed them in a time of war. The last time that happened, we saw, in quick succession, the Soviets invade Afghanistan and fund new aggression in Central America, we saw the killing fields spring up all across Southeast Asia, the rise of Robert Mugabe in Africa, and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. These developments were no simultaneous accident. Our enemies jump as if a flea circus is afoot when they catch us with a demoralized military and a defeatist political class. If you are our enemy, how encouraged can you be to find a chastened America in the mood to surrender and go home? Of course, you will act and act swiftly.

    Upon reading that you had foresworn any strategic outcome in Iraq, I was surprised. The word “strategic”, by definition, requires patience. The outcome of our involvement in Iraq remains strategic, to this very day. Yes, it is frustrating that we have faced difficulties and it has not proved to be a walk in the park. But the fact remains that the die was cast when we crossed the Tigris. Quite a lot hinges on our success or failure there. Lamenting the fact that we cast that die is moot, and fighting that battle either way right now is pointless. The only cogent question is where do we go from here?

    Is victory possible in Iraq? Yes it is. General Petraeus’ battle plan has exceeded expectations. The US Army is knee-deep in an effort right now to create the kind of security environment that is necessary for a democratic government to succeed. The Iraqi government could never succeed as long as it presided impotently over the fractious nation while we were holed up on our bases demanding that Iraqis somehow step up and take over. How could it? Democracies are contractual governments, of the Rousseauian stripe. We were asking the Iraqis to contract themselves with an unproven entity with little prospect for success at achieving the most basic levels of security. We asked them to take a step in the fog.

    Currently we are working at the field officer level at establishing the trust and the security environment that makes the governing contract possible between the Iraqis and their fledgling democracy. We are working with tribal leaders and sheiks, and building trust at the local levels. What the US Army is doing in Iraq right now is one of the most interesting things going in the world today. And, it’s one of the most exciting because the success they’ve had as of late has far surpassed expectations. Or, they have surpassed my expectations, at least.

    Lincoln fumbled around for years and nearly lost the war, at a horrific cost. The war seemed either unwinnable or destined to last forever. Finally he found Grant and Sherman, and they knocked the indominitable General Lee out in short order. That pattern is not a novel one, in the history of warfare. It’s typical. Given the accelerated pace of progress under Petraeus that I’m seeing today, I wonder if we might be at such a familiar historic moment once again.

    It’s worth a shot. Victory remains the best option.

  102. #95 (J Thomas)

    bq. Start off by reading the whole Koran. Start at the end and work forward, chapter by chapter. That’s how it’s organised, the earlier stuff comes at the end.

    That’s not quite my understanding. My understanding (at least of the versions I’ve encountered up close) is that the suras are arranged (roughly) by length, with, pretty much, the longest ones coming first. “The Cow” is Sura 2, 286 verses; the middle suras are under 100 verses long, then near the end they’re down to 10 verses or less. There might be some correlation with age, but I am far from sure that the suras’ posterity (in the technical sense of “coming after” and thus superseding) is strictly as you state.

    I expect that non-Islamic (“Orientalist”/”objective”/”historical”) research into the dating of the various suras would be made difficult by circumstance and sectarian pressure, and it would not surprise me if (beyond the doctrinally-agreed cases such as the famous “Satanic Verses”) there were dispute among Islamic-believer scholars about some of the suras’ posterity.

    So one is left, to some degree, with inspired guesswork based on topic, tone, vocabulary and contextual cues. Or so I gather. And of course, the Hadith. But that’s not the Word of Allah, is it?

  103. #108 from Nortius Maximus:

    “My understanding (at least of the versions I’ve encountered up close) is that the suras are arranged (roughly) by length, with, pretty much, the longest ones coming first.”

    Nortius Maximus, you win the gold star.

    (Frankly, I had been planning to let #95 from J Thomas stand.)

    Nortius Maximus, read this all the way to the end, it’s very funny: (link). And just to ram home the point, this: (link).

    Do you see why I trust Robert Spencer completely, and despise fakers like Dinesh D’Souza?

  104. Of course you’re right, and yet I believe I’m right enough too.

    “link”:http://www.trivia-library.com/b/history-and-story-behind-the-muslim-holy-book-the-koran-part-2.htm

    _The haphazard record keeping during Mohammed’s lifetime made an accurate chronological arrangement impossible, so the suras are arranged, with a few exceptions, in order of length, with the longest first and the shortest last. This means that the earliest suras appear toward the end and the later ones toward the beginning._

    The earlier suras tended to be shorter and so tend to be at the back. This fits the content also, doesn’t it? Material advocating tolerance and moderation toward the back, ready for potential moderates to use it.

  105. Talk about good timing–apropos of all this, and the little turkish problem I referenced No. 98 above, Peter Galbraith has “a good piece”:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20470/ in this week’s _New York Review of Books_ that reiterates (and extends) some of the above discussion. It seems to me to be a pretty reasonable assessment of what’s doable at this point. Here’s the meat:

    bq. The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning—a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes— but by the consequences of defeat. As President Bush put it, “The consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America.”

    bq. Tellingly, the Iraq war’s intellectual boosters, while insisting the surge is working, are moving to assign blame for defeat. And they have already picked their target: the American people. In The Weekly Standard, Tom Donnelly, a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote, “Those who believe the war is already lost—call it the Clinton-Lugar axis—are mounting a surge of their own. Ground won in Iraq becomes ground lost at home.” Lugar provoked Donnelly’s anger by noting that the American people had lost confidence in Bush’s Iraq strategy as demonstrated by the Democratic takeover of both houses of Congress. (This “blame the American people” approach has, through repetition, almost become the accepted explanation for the outcome in Vietnam, attributing defeat to a loss of public support and not to fifteen years of military failure.)….

    Gosh, that rings a bell, doesn’t it? And:

    bq. Iraq after an American defeat will look very much like Iraq today—a land divided along ethnic lines into Arab and Kurdish states with a civil war being fought within its Arab part. Defeat is defined by America’s failure to accomplish its objective of a self-sustaining, democratic, and unified Iraq. And that failure has already taken place, along with the increase of Iranian power in the region.

    bq. Iraq’s Kurdish leaders and Iraq’s dwindling band of secular Arab democrats fear that a complete US withdrawal will leave all of Iraq under Iranian influence. Senator Hillary Clinton, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden, and former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke are among the prominent Democrats who have called for the US to protect Kurdistan militarily should there be a withdrawal from Iraq. The argument for so doing is straightforward: it secures the one part of Iraq that has emerged as stable, democratic, and pro-Western; it discharges a moral debt to our Kurdish allies; it deters both Turkish intervention and a potentially destabilizing Turkish– Kurdish war; it provides US forces a secure base that can be used to strike at al-Qaeda in adjacent Sunni territories; and it limits Iran’s gains.

    And finally, just to reiterate:

    bq. Lugar’s focus on the achievable runs against main currents of opinion in a nation increasingly polarized between the growing number who want to withdraw from Iraq and the die-hard defenders of a failure. We need to recognize, as Lugar implicitly does, that Iraq no longer exists as a unified country. In the parts where we can accomplish nothing, we should withdraw. But there are still three missions that may be achievable—disrupting al-Qaeda, preserving Kurdistan’s democracy, and limiting Iran’s increasing domination. These can all be served by a modest US presence in Kurdistan. We need an Iraq policy with sufficient nuance to protect American interests.Unfortunately, we probably won’t get it.

    Well, I’d like to think that if enough people–ie, elected Republicans as well as Democrats–started agitating for this solution now, we still might. It’s not perfect, but at this point it’s probably the best we can hope for. Short of those additional 300,000 troops, that is.

  106. #110 (J Thomas):

    You use Wallachinsky and Wallace as your source?

    Right. Self-described “trivia book” writers. They wouldn’t, you know, maybe… oversimplify things or generalize?

    Not being an Islamic scholar, I’d think there might be some overall trend of the kind Wallachinsky and Wallace describe, but that doesn’t mean there is an absolute chronology. Sura 86 is not necessarily later than Sura 87, and so on. When I read what they wrote I get the impression they are speaking in broad, not scholarly, terms.

    Spencer among others (I can dig up a list if you make me) says that while most Islamic scholars agree on the Mecca-Medina division, there is disagreement at a finer grain with regard to dating the suras, and hence, abrogation of the earlier ones.

    He also says (with I don’t know how much justification) that there are Muslim scholars that deny that Sura 2 speaks of abrogation of parts of the Koran, but claim the abrogation meant is only of earlier scripture (“People of the Book” stuff: Old and New Testaments). For those folks, the importance of the date of each sura would seem more academic.

  107. I chose them because they were the first link I found that said it. I didn’t think this was controversial, and I think where I read it first was from Richard Burton but I don’t have that text handy now.

    Yes, I was speaking in broad terms, the later ones tend to be earlier and tend to be more conciliatory — probably because they hadn’t won so much yet. I didn’t mean to say that #84 necessarily comes before #83.

  108. OK. :) In broad terms, “from 30,000 feet”, maybe… For some support for your notion, see, for instance, this work by “Manfred Davidmann”:http://www.solbaram.org/articles/islam05.html , titled Uthman’s Rearrangement of the Chronological (as revealed) Koran’s Chapters.

    bq. What is clear, and beyond doubt, is that these important chapters were transferred from the middle and end part of the chronological (as revealed) sequence to near the beginning of the (Uthmanic) Koran.

    So he’s talking about some, not all.

    I don’t know Davidmann’s credentials, but it seems clear that there is dispute about exactly what wound up where.

    For those with the urge to delve deeper, including answers to questions llke “Who is this ‘Uthman’?”, “check this out.”:http://www.mb-soft.com/believe/txo/koran.htm .

    Quoting: It is generally believed that the standard text of the Koran, adopted during the reign (644-56) of the caliph Uthman, is based on the compilation of one of Muhammad’s secretaries, Zayd Ibn Thalbit.

  109. #87 from RobW:
    bq. _What you haven’t addressed is the Ideological aspects of option B._

    #91 from David Blue
    bq. Have too, have too. The ideological aspect is about systems, not individuals and whether you like them or not. I’ve been about systems all along.

    #96 from RobW
    bq. _Systems are not homogenous. They are made up of individuals with varying belief systems. There is most definitely moderate beliefs within Islam, but they are under assault, so they aren’t very vocal. There is increasing evidence that they are starting to find their voices and their courage (Iraq, Egypt, KSA, Lebanon) and there are many other places where they are still oppressed (Syria, Pakistan)._

    My point here challenges the foundation of your position, upon which all else rests. I find it interesting that you chose to capitulate through omission.

    The spread of moderates within the ME is a result of our having invaded Iraq and is what is at risk should we leave precipitiously. Al Qaeda’s goal is to overthrow the regional governments, not attack the US, and they would be increasingly empowered to do so should we leave precipitously. The resulting threat to stable oil supplies is the National Interest.

  110. #111 from wufnik (quoting Peter Galbraith):

    “The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning—a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes— but by the consequences of defeat.”

    I think it would be more accurate to say that the emotional force of the case for the war now derives from the odiousness and the consequences of defeat. The case for the benefits of success can still be made. It just isn’t as emotionally persuasive as it once was.

    “Burnout” – a natural reaction to a way of life or a course of action that consistently fails to deliver the expected or hoped-for reward.

    Because of “burnout”, talk about the expected benefits of the war in Iraq may be less effective, less heard and noticed even, even if I’m dead wrong and great success is just around the corner.

    #111 from wufnik (quoting Peter Galbraith):

    “”

    #111 from wufnik (quoting Peter Galbraith):

    “Tellingly, the Iraq war’s intellectual boosters, while insisting the surge is working, are moving to assign blame for defeat. And they have already picked their target: the American people.”

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that those who still boost the war identify the anti-war Republican defectors with “the American people”. Or that they have marked “the American people as their “target”.

    #111 from wufnik:

    “Iraq after an American defeat will look very much like Iraq today—a land divided along ethnic lines into Arab and Kurdish states with a civil war being fought within its Arab part.”

    This is bluff. Peter Galbraith no more knows what Iraq after an American retreat will look like than I do – but I say so and he doesn’t.

    My favorite saying is: Desire of appearing wise often prevents us form becoming so. I think one man like Armed Liberal, who doesn’t know and frankly says so and therefore tries to get to the truth with the help of others, is worth more than forty of Peter Galbraith.

    I have not much time for people who pretend to know what they don’t. So I’ll stop there.

  111. _But there are still three missions that may be achievable—disrupting al-Qaeda, preserving Kurdistan’s democracy, and limiting Iran’s increasing domination. These can all be served by a modest US presence in Kurdistan._

    I don’t see how a modest presence in kurdistan does anything at all to disrupt AQ. AQ doesn’t have much of a presence in kurdistan, and hasn’t since 2002 or so. A modest US presence in kurdistan isn’t going to have much effect on AQ elsewhere.

    And I don’t see how a modest US presence in kurdistan will have much effect on iran’s domination of the rest of the country.

    But we’ve betrayed the kurds before — several times depending on how you count — and it would be good if we could avoid that this time around. They’re surrounded by enemies and have been for a long time. Not really any friends but us. The israelis will use them against arabs, but….

    The trouble is, I just don’t see how to do it. Kurdistan is landlocked and we’d have to supply them (and our own forces) by air. That’s expensive and it puts a limit on how big a force we could support. And there are nearly 10 times as many kurds getting oppressed in turkey as there are in kurdistan. It’s completely understandable they don’t want to settle for iraqi kurdistan, they wnt to liberate southeastern turkey too. (And western iran) If we could get the turks to go along with that, it could work out fine. But our little force can’t afford to get into a kurd/turk war. If we can prevent the war, that’s fine but it doesn’t look like we can.

    I think the kurds would be better off if we airlift them lots of sophisticated small antitank and anti-air stuff than for us to keep an inadequate number of troops with them. Of course the turks would turn completely against us, but that’s probably a given while we support kurds. Or maybe we could send in special forces who’d come up with something innovative. A special strategy, and special tactics that let them win.

    But i mostly just don’t see any adequate solution for the kurds. What would it take for us to keep supply lines open from southern iraq? That’s a great big effort. Airlifts are expensive and a bit risky and the amounts are limited. I can imagine two approaches that don’t look particularly plausible.

    1. If we could get the turks to give up land next to kurdistan for turkish kirds to live in as part of kurdistan, we might stave off the war for a generation or more. I can’t imagine what we could offer turkey to get them to do it.

    2. If we could quick make friends with syria we could supply kurdistan that way.

    Otherwise kurdistan probably doesn’t last a real long time after we leave. And we have no choice but to mostly leave within the next couple of years. Oh, that’s a third way.

    3. If iraq gets friendly to us and friendly to kurdistan, we could get iraqi help to support the kurds.

  112. #115 from RobW:

    #87 from RobW:
    bq. What you haven’t addressed is the Ideological aspects of option B.

    #91 from David Blue
    bq. Have too, have too. The ideological aspect is about systems, not individuals and whether you like them or not. I’ve been about systems all along.

    #96 from RobW
    bq. Systems are not homogenous. They are made up of individuals with varying belief systems. There is most definitely moderate beliefs within Islam, but they are under assault, so they aren’t very vocal. There is increasing evidence that they are starting to find their voices and their courage (Iraq, Egypt, KSA, Lebanon) and there are many other places where they are still oppressed (Syria, Pakistan).

    “My point here challenges the foundation of your position, upon which all else rests. I find it interesting that you chose to capitulate through omission.”

    I’ve been slogging though one insubstantial objection after another in comment after comment in this thread. Any one of them – whichever didn’t get to the head of the queue – could equally well have been said to ‘challenge the foundation of my position, on which all else depends’. There’s nothing “interesting” about what I dealt with first and what I left aside. And…

    on the Internet, omission is not to be taken as capitulation.

    Because that rule would make us all prisoners of whoever wants to keep talking, and it would make it a certainty that an individual attacked by a vociferous multitude will be deemed to have conceded the majority of what they say. (I’ve seen what a mailing list looks like when the moderators do indeed assume that what is not refuted is conceded, and it was not pretty.)

    That said, the poor bloody infantry trudges back to the trenches…

    “Systems are not homogenous.”

    Well, they kind of are. They have a consistency to them, or they’re random collections of heterogenous parts, and not systems.

    But in this case one can talk about real diversity in the sense that Islam has different major schools of interpretation of Islamic law – about which I know very little. So in an open-ended discussion of diversity in Islam as a system, I’m rapidly going to have to head for my experts – Spencer, Fitzgerald and so on.

    “They are made up of individuals with varying belief systems.”

    Collections of individuals have varying belief systems, yes, but a system, like the system of Islam overall, or the system of American democracy, is not necessarily best seen as a collection of individuals. The individual opinions of every American who has lived and will lived are not a convenient sum to work with. If you want to talk about the American system versus, say, the British parliamentary system, then to have a useful discussion, you have to talk about the systems as being homogenous and not as being make up of uncountable millions of individuals each with their own individual belief system.

    “There is most definitely moderate beliefs within Islam, but they are under assault, so they aren’t very vocal.”

    There are indeed many individuals who are Muslim who have moderate beliefs, but that does not invalidate my points about the way the total system works, any more than the opinions of Illinois National Socialists would define how the American systems work. Personal opinions that can make those individuals targets of attack are not the American Constitution and its main historic expression, nor are they the Koran, authoritative collections of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), authoritative biographies of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), accepted and authoritative major schools of Islamic law, and their expression in the main lines of Islamic history.

  113. This would be fun if the stakes weren’t as high as they are. So:

    David Blue (No 116)–

    bq. I think it would be more accurate to say that the emotional force of the case for the war now derives from the odiousness and the consequences of defeat.

    there’s really no difference here. Unless one is referring to the emotional intensity of the supporters of the war, and the extent of their own devastation in the event of defeat. The _practical_ consequences of defeat–the devastation of Iraq’s infrastructure, the suffering of its people, the weakening of US ground forces as a functioning institution, the rapid rate of increase in anti-Americanism in the region, and the increase of Iran’s political influence in Iraq–are there to see already. We’ve already achieved them.

    bq. The case for the benefits of success can still be made. It just isn’t as emotionally persuasive as it once was.

    We disagree, here, obviously, but more importantly–even if the “benefits of success can still be made”, there’s the practical matter off how to achieve them–the 18 month problem I referred to in an earlier post, for example. Unless one is willing to tackle those issues as practical problems that need immediate consideration, then there’s no real point–we’re hand-waving, and people continue to die. What’s “success” at this point, by the way, and how does it differ from what “success” was three years ago? And why does this need to be “emotionally persuasive”? Much of the foundation for this endeavor rested on its emotional persuasiveness to large numbers of people who no longer find it so–and that was exactly the problem with it.

    bq. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that those who still boost the war identify the anti-war Republican defectors with “the American people”. Or that they have marked “the American people as their “target”.

    Sorry, but that seems to be exactly what many of them seem to be doing–every time Bill Kristol holds forth on how the American people just don’t understand bla bla bla, for example. Which is awfully frequently. (The American people might be offering more support for this war if it didn’t have to listen to blowhards like Kristol and those Kagan guys every week.)

    bq. I have not much time for people who pretend to know what they don’t. So I’ll stop there.

    Probably wise. I tend that way myself. My view of this, however, is that the track record of those who urged caution here, like Galbraith, who at least knew enough to have a good idea how this would turn out, is considerably better than the track record of those who thought this was a good idea–which is why I pay more attention to them these days. Nothing personal.

    J Thomas (No 117)

    Yes, I recognize the logistical issues here. But if a US presence in Kurdistan, or whatever they’re going to call it, calms Turkey down, then much of the logistical problem becomes manageable. This would need to be sorted out–but Turkey has some interest in seeing this happen, too. They’re furious at the Kurds, of course, with some justification–but they really do want to join the EU, and they don’t want to give people like Sarkozy a good reason to block it. And it really is in the US’s interest to have Turkey in the EU. So a good secretary of state, which we do not have at the moment but might get in 18 months, could probably sort much of this out. The Kurds have oil too, which is always a good incentive for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement, especially since it may turn into the only secure supply of oil from Iraq that the US can hope for. Might even be able to work in an apology for that Armenian thing too.

    Regarding (1) going after al Qaida, and (2) reducing the impact of Iran, neither of these will be straightforward, obviously. I’m in the camp that AQ tends to diminish if the US leaves anyway, but this is an empirical issue, obviously. But it is better to have some influence in the region than none, which is the direction we’re currently heading, and there’s no other place to try to exert any. Kuwait? Saudi Arabia? Please. Besides, the Kurds at least seem to want us to stick around. Bailing on them twice seems inconceivable to me.

  114. #118 from David Blue

    bq. _”I’ve been slogging though one insubstantial objection after another in comment after comment in this thread.”_

    My arguments may have been amateurish, like yours, but they were not insubstantial. Read a few books have you? Good for you. You have been quite prolific in this thread, but chose to not answer my argument against your foundation: That the Islamic world is one system.

    #118 from David Blue

    bq. _”But in this case one can talk about real diversity in the sense that Islam has different major schools of interpretation of Islamic law”_

    The point is not the different major schools of interpretation of islamic law demonstrating diversity. It is the different political systems in the Islamic world, all of which use the Koran to varying degrees. These political systems allow the expression of different degrees of individual political power, most of them quite limited. Turkey does better. Of course, individuals can form groups to express political power that is more influential to it’s system. These systems are composite.

    This goes to show that it is poor at best to paint the whole Islamic world with one brush. This is particularly disturbing when it is used to generalize the whole of the Islamic peoples, then followed closely by a call to commit genocide. It’s Racist, or Anti-Islamic, whatever the term is for discriminating against a religion. Your strategy against all of them is to hope for internal genocide and to sponsor external genocide. This is how you have represented yourself and I will not allow it to go unchallenged. Challenge it I have.

    This is all I have to say.

  115. #119 from wufnik:

    This would be fun if the stakes weren’t as high as they are. So:

    David Blue (No 116)–

    I think it would be more accurate to say that the emotional force of the case for the war now derives from the odiousness and the consequences of defeat.

    “there’s really no difference here. Unless one is referring to the emotional intensity of the supporters of the war, and the extent of their own devastation in the event of defeat.”

    That is what I was referring to.

    David Blue: I have not much time for people who pretend to know what they don’t. So I’ll stop there.

    #119 from wufnik:

    “Probably wise. I tend that way myself. My view of this, however, is that the track record of those who urged caution here, like Galbraith, who at least knew enough to have a good idea how this would turn out, is considerably better than the track record of those who thought this was a good idea–which is why I pay more attention to them these days. Nothing personal.”

    My view is that the track record of those who “urged caution” on the wrong basis, such is wrong ideas on the coming conventional war in the invasion of Iraq, remains in a bad state.

    Just like the track record of many supporters of the coming war, who presented as inside knowledge – implicitly what all true experts knew – mere speculations about the culture and prospects of Iraq which have proved wildly wrong. Iraq was supposed to be a zone of secularism where, unlike in Afghanistan, religion would not be a problem. Yeah, right. Iraq’s oil wealth was supposed to be sufficient to pay for its reconstruction. My, haven’t events vindicated that “fact”.

    The reason you don’t see me knocking the credibility of people like Paul Wolfowitz it that the topic doesn’t come up, because they have shut their mouths – and so they should.

    For myself, I thought that the invasion to remove Saddam Hussein was a good idea, because militarily doable, which it was; and I was praying for the guys to win and win and be home safely in six months or so, which should tell you how wrong my ideas were on the aims and policies behind the invasion as far as the American President was concerned (though I have read that I would have been on the same page with Donald Rumsfeld: do it fast and light and get out quick); I underestimated the Islamic prejudice and hostility of Iraqis; I thought “light footprint” was our best and only chance to avoid a fatal amount of Iraqi backlash against an infidel occupation (and again I was on the same page with Donald Rumsfeld there, but I now think that “light footprint will do it or it can’t be done” was exactly half right); and I thought George W. Bush’s reasoning in Iraq, correct or not, had a secular basis. The quotes I gave above shows little I knew the religious dreams of George W. Bush.

    I see no reason to take it personally if people evaluate my credibility based on that record. They should.

    I think I’ve done as well as the next armchair general on “if then” statements – if we do this then we will get that. But obviously you should get your White House tips elsewhere. David Frum’s The Right Man and Bob Woodward’s Bush At War and Plan Of Attack didn’t help me either. And I expect I’ll be even worse with the next American President and their (likely her) White House, because I’ll have less affinity for a Democrat President.

  116. RobW –

    Come again? Where, please, is the call for genocide?

    That’s a lot of emotion to squeeze out of your minor argument over political “diversity” in the Islamic world. You do not make any point about Islamic political diversity by bringing up Turkey, because
    Turkey is a secular republic whose reigning powers are militantly opposed to any Koranic political system, being prepared to meet same with force of arms if necessary.

    For diversity, then, you might compare Indonesia and Saudi Arabia – though Indonesia is not legally an Islamic state, either. But the Islamic nations of the Middle East and the Arab League share definite political characteristics, especially hostility to democracy and liberalism.

    This is the reality, and if you claim that pointing it out is tantamount to genocide, then you’re the one who needs to be challenged. Explain to me how I have misunderstood you.

  117. Wufnik, RobW:

    Blasting out a series of instaposts — links and “this is interesting” — is not what we seek to foster here at WoC. Please consider adding a bit more exegesis to your posts. Thanks.

  118. #122 from RobW:

    “My arguments may have been amateurish, like yours, but they were not insubstantial.”

    I plead guilty to complete amateurishness, and if I didn’t the mess of html mistakes and typos I’ve made in this thread would be enough to convict me anyway, before we even got to content.

    #122 from RobW:

    “Read a few books have you? Good for you. You have been quite prolific in this thread, but chose to not answer my argument against your foundation: That the Islamic world is one system.”

    Thanks. And I’m sure you’ve read books too.

    What I find insubstantial is the continued reassertion that I have conceded or not addressed an assertion or an argument that’s like a wisp of fog. Stuff like “Systems are not homogenous.” eludes the grasp, let alone refutation. (Even if I was trying to refute anybody else’s views, which I am not – I’ve just been presenting a line of thought that corresponds to what we see and that’s internally coherent, while conceding that there are supportable alternative perspectives.)

    Yes, Yusef the peasant may be a Muslim and hold opinions that are not normative Islam, just as Fred the leader of the Divine Mayan Sacrifice party may have ideas that don’t square with parliamentary democracy, but next year parliaments will still do what they do and Islam will still do what it does. There will be elections are debates in parliament, and there will be pressures to “revert” to Islam and acts of jihadist terror.

  119. Regarding the ordering of the Sura, “this You Tube video”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI86T-Bvghk has a nicely-presented numerological explanation, based on the number 19.

    I have no idea how seriously Islamic scholars take this, but it is consistent with the fundamentalist Islamic view that the Koran is “flawless” and exists exactly as it was transmitted to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel, including the ordering of the Sura. The difference between the numbering of the Sura and their “order of revelation” is believed to be a divine code or signature.

  120. #122 from RobW:

    “The point is not the different major schools of interpretation of islamic law demonstrating diversity. It is the different political systems in the Islamic world, all of which use the Koran to varying degrees.”

    I think that there is one thing that we can call the Koran that can be used politically, with effects that point in familiar directions, and that there are consistent schools of Islamic law that can also be plugged in to your judicial system makes my main point.

    Since the constitution of Afghanistan takes its lead from the Hanbali school of interpretation, the ruling was that Abdul Rahman should die for stubborn apostasy, whereas if the constitution of Afghanistan had specified any other major school of interpretation as guiding the law of the land, then the ruling would have been … the same. That makes my point again.

    Naturally the influence of the Islamic system is greater or less and it takes on different forms depending on where in the Islamic world it is applied, and what other influences also apply there. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a system.

  121. #122 from RobW:

    “This goes to show that it is poor at best to paint the whole Islamic world with one brush.”

    I haven’t painted the entire Islamic world with one brush. There are important distinctions of sect, status, race and gender: Sunni and Shi’ite, rich and poor (including Islamic slaves), Arab and non-Arab, male and female – these things can have a lot to do with how well or badly you live in the Islamic world, or in Dafur, for example, whether you get to live at all.

    Rather than painting the whole Islamic world with one brush, I say Islam is a system. This should be seem as a common-sense statement, not a shocking allegation.

    #122 from RobW:

    “This is particularly disturbing when it is used to generalize the whole of the Islamic peoples, then followed closely by a call to commit genocide. It’s Racist, or Anti-Islamic, whatever the term is for discriminating against a religion. Your strategy against all of them is to hope for internal genocide and to sponsor external genocide. This is how you have represented yourself and I will not allow it to go unchallenged. Challenge it I have.”

    You’re lying about me there, in a very nasty way.

    #122 from RobW:

    “This is all I have to say.”

    Good news, if true, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

  122. With accusations of support for genocide and Racism or Anti-Islamism or “whatever the term is for discriminating against a religion” we have descended to the depth of intentionally nasty stupidity.

    I’d happily see this thread closed too.

  123. Regarding closing the thread: At this point, it’s AL’s call, since it’s his entry. I do agree that the water’s gotten muddy, and I do agree that claiming that lack of unanimity means that a trend cannot be determined is thin argumentative gruel. The remainder of this post is split into my two personae here.

    Requests to RobW:

    As plain ol’ Nort:

    RobW, please respond to this question: can there be no such thing as a preponderance of Islamic thought or action?

    As Marshal Nortius “Big Tuna” Maximus:

    I don’t see any genocide advocation on this thread, though it has been mentioned obliquely as a possible outcome; and Mr Blue has taken issue with your characterization.

    So, formally, I’ll ask. Were you just bloviating and straw-man-ing there, or did you mean to specifically accuse some thread or blog participants of that?

    If the former, it’s weak sand-in-eyes argumentation, no matter how satisfying it might feel. If the latter, prove it.

    Glen (in #125) has already asked you for substantiation. Now I’m asking for it, or a retraction.

    Show us where someone in this thread

    bq. generalize[s] the whole of the Islamic peoples, then follow[s] closely [with] a call to commit genocide.

    Show us where someone in this thread “represents themselves” as

    bq. hop[ing] for internal genocide and… sponsor[ing] external genocide.

    I don’t see Mr Blue or anyone here doing those things. Illuminate matters for me. Show evidence. Or retract.

    Please.

  124. Nortus (#126)–Point taken. Thought relevance would be clear, but you’re right, I should have amplified some.

    Regading closing the thread, it seems to be the nature of this discussion–irrespective of the political orientation of the blog sponsors–that it eventually degrades. And while the level of discussion is generally higher on this blog than on many others, this one isn’t immune either, sadly. I’ve learned a lot about the Koran, though.

  125. #119: _Yes, I recognize the logistical issues here. But if a US presence in Kurdistan, or whatever they’re going to call it, calms Turkey down, then much of the logistical problem becomes manageable._

    So, are you suggesting a US presence to seal the border and kill kurdish terrorists who try to get into turkey, or who try to retreat to safety in kurdistan?

    If that’s the intention it might work better to put the troops on the turkey side instead. Less hard feelings.

    _And it really is in the US’s interest to have Turkey in the EU._

    Is that plausible? Won’t it get blocked no matter what?

    _So a good secretary of state, which we do not have at the moment but might get in 18 months, could probably sort much of this out._

    Supposing that nothing irrevocable happens in 18 months. Not a particularly good bet. We might as well put this discussion off for a year or so, and if it looks good then, we can suggest it to presidential candidates.

    _The Kurds have oil too, which is always a good incentive for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement, especially since it may turn into the only secure supply of oil from Iraq that the US can hope for._

    The oil is an incentive for *agreement*? The oil is also the major incentive for fighting, including invasions. Without the oil, from the beginning we’d have had no more interest in kurdistan than we do in paraguay.

    I think you started with the conclusion you wanted to reach, and you looked for arguments to support that conclusion. Those arguments turned out to be weak, but they were the best you could do.

    _Besides, the Kurds at least seem to want us to stick around. Bailing on them twice seems inconceivable to me._

    This is the only one you’ve presented that’s worth anything. It’s a strictly moral argument, and the logistics are against us. I’m afraid at this point kurdish survival depends mostly on great diplomacy by the kurds. Everybody who deals with them sells them out. Like, the shah armed iraqi kurds to hurt iraq, and the iraqis armed iranian kurds to hurt iran, and then they made an agreement they’d stop arming each other’s kurds and both sides slaughtered as many kurds as it took to restore order. That’s par for the course. We arm iraqi kurds or iranian kurds when we want to caus trouble for iraq or iran, and then we quit when we’ve made our point.

    So — fool me twice? If the kurds accept our aid again, whyever would they think we won’t betray them this time? We have every other time, and so has everybody else that’s helped them. I would have preferred it be different, that we not give them false hope until we really meant it, but I didn’t get to choose. I didn’t get a choice when Bush suckered them. I didn’t get a choice when Bush I suckered them. I didn’t get a choice when Kissinger suckered them. It would be really nice if we could deliver on Bush’s promises but we can’t.

  126. #135: Let’s just deal with this one, because all the others flow from this:

    bq. I think you started with the conclusion you wanted to reach, and you looked for arguments to support that conclusion. Those arguments turned out to be weak, but they were the best you could do.

    Well, maybe. Where I actually started from is the belief that our ability to influence events in Iraq is diminishing daily, and there actually few options for maintaining a long term presence there–and that the Kurds offer the best one. If I were a government, that would be a _policy decision_ I would be making. Part of my thinking would be to compare it to other policy options I was presented with–and the others all look considerably worse in terms of achievability and cost, if they’re doable at all. Having a long-term influence on the Shia political leadership, for example, looks considerably less likely than it might have been several years ago, for example. So what I’m looking for is the least worst policy option at this point. And, yes, I started with the conclusion I wanted to reach because all the other possible conclusions appear (a) less achievable or (b) hugely costly relative to the benefit we would derive. So I’m trying to think in a certain way here–trying to make the best of where we are now. A holdover from days when I was on the school board, undoubtedly, trying to come up with a budget.

    Now, it may be that the logistical and political issues here are sufficiently complex that they will eventually undermine this as a policy option. But I don’t know that, actually, and it does seem to be that the moral argument, as persuasive as it is, doesn’t in and of itself ensure its practicality as a policy option. These other considerations are highly relevant, in terms of the achievability of this policy option–getting both the Kurds and Turks on board, maintain support from the American public, trying to do this in the context of a certain policical environment in Europe, and so on. And the arguments I offered were probably the best that i could do in the context of a discussion like this one. What I do believe (since I can’t really know, obviously) is that pretty much all the other policy options available to me are worse in some respect. So I would at least want to think about what’s involved in being able to implement this option. And i don’t mean to trivialize the potential difficulty of dealing with those issues–especially the relationship between the Kurds and the Turks.

    But if I’m to take AL’s initial request seriously re the purpose of this discussion, what I want to end up with is something that offers some hope of “success”–being defined as what will allow us to remain in the Iraq region and have some degree of influence on events there. But, you’re right, I don’t want to fall into the trap of the people who initiated this endeavor in assuming it will work out simply because we will wish it to, that the details aren’t important. In fact, the details are vitally important. Which is why discussions like this are critical.

  127. _I do agree that claiming that lack of unanimity means that a trend cannot be determined is thin argumentative gruel._

    I didn’t mean to imply that our lack of unanimity means there’s no trend in the thread.

    _Show us where someone in this thread “represents themselves” as

    hop[ing] for internal genocide and… sponsor[ing] external genocide._

    #44: “we get something like the mother-beautiful Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, but on a regional scale and preferably for at least twice as long, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.””

    This is not necessarily internal genocide. It could come close or not, depending on where you draw the line about what’s genocide.

    _Show us where someone in this thread

    generalize[s] the whole of the Islamic peoples, then follow[s] closely [with] a call to commit genocide._

    #3 above recommends nuking cities in a couple of countries as a good alternative (it calls for nuking nuclear facilities, some of which it doesn’t mention happen to be located in cities), and conditionally recommends nuking multiple nations, but accepts the current occupation as more humane. Does it count as advocating genocide when it isn’t the first choice?

    Similarly, #50 advocates nuking pakistan.

    bq. We could simply nuke them out of existence. Kill millions but problem solved.

    But that isn’t generalised to all islam, and the millions of casualties are merely collateral damage.

    #53 also calls for conditional genocide.

    bq. The military logic of a US-Pakistani conflict is quite simple. If things go FUBAR in Pakistan, we nuke the whole country. Period.

    #56 calls for preventive nuclear strikes on pakistan and iran, and then conditional genocidal strikes on four nations (rather innovatively including egypt). Yes, that’s right. Anybody nukes us, we nuke egypt and 3 other muslim nations. No, wait. They’re responding to somebody else who said that. #56 calls for immediate preventive strikes with no warning of any sort. But the post may be sarcastic, there are subtle signs it might be.

    So all in all, I see some support for the things you ask for, but they aren’t stated full-out “All the muslims are alike and our best choice is to nuke all of them”. There are enough weasel-words here that any of the posters I noticed could deny they fit your categories and not be utterly implausible.

  128. #138 (J Thomas):

    bq. [ NM ] I do agree that claiming that lack of unanimity means that a trend cannot be determined is thin argumentative gruel.

    bq. [ JT ] I didn’t mean to imply that our lack of unanimity means there’s no trend in the thread.

    I didn’t mean to imply that you are RobW. Did I do that, and miss it somehow? :)

  129. Ah. Your first paragraph was connected to closing the thread, and then you replied to RobW. I took the first paragraph on its own when you intended that about RobW too. No harm done.

  130. JT, my jape, poor though it was, related to your carrying out the task I asked of RobW, in the part of your #138 that followed the part I quoted.

    I’m sorry for the confusion, and I meant only a gentle eyebrow-raise. Perhaps RobW will chime in, perhaps not.

  131. I would recommend that Westerners *not* read the Koran. Children of the Enlightenment, I say put down that sacred text.

    If only I had read “Daniel Pipes warning earlier.”:http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1461 There is no narrative structure, forwards or backwards. There is almost no context. The Prophet Mohammad is only mentioned four times. There are words with no apparent meaning. And Muslims don’t believe your English translations mean anything anyway.

    It might be useful to read a random excerpt. Pick one “here.”:http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/koran/browse.html Having done so, you might appreciate the role of external interpretive guidance such as the Hadith.

    Or if you want to be vindicated in the wisdom and beauty of the Islamic system, look at “Winds posts on Sufi Wisdom.”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/cat_features_sufi_wisdom.php Not the sum of all that is Islam, but not all is dark and medieval either.

    Or my strongest recommendation would be to read Michael Cook’s “Very Short Introduction to the Koran”:http://www.amazon.com/Koran-Very-Short-Introduction-Introductions/dp/0192853449/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b/104-5464806-6120757

  132. J Thomas et al…

    Thanks for an interesting, if inconclusive thread.

    JT – what you see when you critique those who propose genocide or unfettered nuclear war is what I see – and saw – when I first started blogging about the conflict. Here’s what I wrote in 2002:

    Let me start by explaining what IÂ’m afraid of. Because, in a sense, Mike Golby is rightÂ…one of the roots of my political stance is fear. HereÂ’s what IÂ’m afraid of – you all got these jokes in your email last year:

    The Saudi Ambassador to the U.N. has just finished giving a speech, and walks out into the lobby where he meets his American counterpart. They shake hands and as they walk the Saudi asks, “You know, I have just one question about what I have seen in America.”

    The American replies, “Well your Excellency, anything I can do to help you I will do.”

    The Saudi whispers, “My son watches this show ‘Star Trek’ and in it there are Russians and Blacks and Asians, but never any Arabs. He is very upset. He doesn’t understand why there are never any Arabs in Star Trek.”

    The American laughs, leans over and says, “That’s because it takes place in the future.”

    *******

    A father is walking with his son around the year 2032 in lower Manhattan. As they explore the area the father explains to his son about the grandeur of the buildings and take on the sites. Suddenly they come to a beautiful park and plaza.

    The son is so excited at the beautiful park and monuments and asks his Dad: “What are these monuments for?”

    The father replies: “This park is dedicated to honour the Twin Towers and the memory of the people of New York.”

    “What are the Twin Towers?” asks the son.

    Dad replies: “They were two very large 110 story buildings which stood here nearly 30 years until Arab Terrorists destroyed them.”

    The son look puzzled, and says: “Dad, what is an arab?”

    *******

    Admit it, you all got them, and most of you laughed.

    And hereÂ’s my fear. I donÂ’t want to be a part of a society that eradicated another culture; I don’Â’t want to commit genocide.

    I donÂ’t want to be put in a position where genocide is either a reasonable option, or where my fellow citizens are so enraged that they are willing to commit it, and my opposition will be washed away in a tide of rage.

    I really don’t.

    A.L.

  133. Armed Liberal:

    Is there a better answer, then? I think that there is. (Incidentally, it isn’t just Arabs – it isn’t Arabs that are beheading schoolgirls in the Philippines, for example – but it could be argued that Islam is the religious expression of Arab culture, and has been.)

    The trouble is, really, that Arabs matter in the world. Not because they are untrustworthy, vicious, violent and nasty – which they in general are; there are plenty of peoples just as violent, such as some of the tribes in New Guinea. It’s because they have under their control a resource that matters to the world. Arabs were just as untrustworthy, unforgiving, fanatical and violent in the 19th century as they are now – and nobody gave a damn, because they didn’t have any way of exporting their nasty habits anywhere else because they didn’t have anything that anyone else wanted.

    Of course, the resource in question is oil. Of course, they already have uncountable trillions of dollars they did nothing to earn – but, given the fact that they haven’t done anything positive with it, the reserves would run out pretty fast if the supply was cut off.

    So the solution, long term, is to make their only resource irrelevant, and there are plenty of ways of doing it. After that’s done, Arabs will not die out – but once again, as they were before, they will be a race of quaint Dark Ages barbarians that divide their time between killing each other and rubbing their faces in the sand five times per day while facing a rock in Saudi Arabia. And once again, the rest of the world won’t give a damn.

    And there won’t be any Arabs in space, because they won’t be able to afford it.

    Do we have the time, or the will, to make this happen before they force us to kill them all? I don’t know. And neither do you.

  134. #133 from Nortius Maximus:

    bq. _As plain ol’ Nort:_

    bq. _RobW, please respond to this question: can there be no such thing as a preponderance of Islamic thought or action?_

    I do think there is. Iran may pose as an example, Saudi Arabia, certainly, and Pakistan certianly seems to be trending that way. There must be other examples.

    The way I think of these various societies in the Islamic world is as phenotypes, governed by genotypes. The Koran is one such genotype, but so are tribal customs and traditions, and state documents, constitutions and laws. There are probably other genotype sources that dictate the phenotypes. These genotypes are not solely judicial, as Iran pointed out. They use the Koran as a foundation of executive power.

    The phenotypes are varied and complex. Each instance uses different genotypes in different combinations. If all states in the Islamic world were to give way to a Caliphate, then there would be less phenotypes, but there would still be internal differences, much like the Roman empire had. Much like the US has. Still, a Caliphate would be much closer to a common society governed by the Koranic genotype. This is not to say that it wouldn’t be liberal, although the current insurgents desire for a Caliphate doesn’t seem to include liberalism. They view liberalism as a direct threat, as well they should.

    It has been said that this is an Ideological war and I believe them.

  135. #133 from Nortius Maximus

    bq. _As Marshal Nortius “Big Tuna” Maximus:_

    bq. _I don’t see any genocide advocation on this thread, though it has been mentioned obliquely as a possible outcome; and Mr Blue has taken issue with your characterization._

    bq. _So, formally, I’ll ask. Were you just bloviating and straw-man-ing there, or did you mean to specifically accuse some thread or blog participants of that?_

    Sure, I’ll offer proof. I meant to specifically accuse David Blue of that and I did. However, the term genocide was one I used to describe his position and it was never explicitly stated previously. It is my opinion that we are talking about genocide.

    Let’s rewind to the first post…

    #1 from RobW
    bq. _Unless you espouse [A] the strategy of allowing a civil war to foment and pull in regional actors, by withdrawing to large bases and redeploying back to the States, then we must [B] fight a Counterinsurgency war in all of its aspects, military, political, social and religious. Those are the choices._

    I thought I had called out genocide as a consequence in Option A, but I had not. However, the civil war I referred to would be genocidal to both sides. These guys don’t observe the Geneva Conventions. They would act more like the American Indians did in the 18th century and kill whole villages. Except the Sunnis and the Shiites would do this on a much broader scale.

    David responded:
    #10 from David Blue
    bq. “I think so too. And I think option A is the wise choice.”

    I thought he was probably a Lefty that wanted us to leave no matter what and damn the consequences. When I pushed for clarification I got:

    #44 from David Blue
    bq. “I hope you won’t mind if I make that a little more precise.”

    bq. “If, after the surge has played out, we get out and the main consequence in Iraq is:”
    bq. “1) Al Qaeda takes over, not being effectively opposed (as Hamas took over Gaza), and establishes a new Afghanistan like terror state subjugating the Shi’ites and spreading jihad terror globally, or if the Islamic Republic of Iran just takes over and establishes a Shi’ite hegemony that of course will also spread jihad terror globally, I won’t say “yes that is what I wanted and expected” but I will say “yes, in view of the situation, that is what I said we must be willing to risk.””
    bq. “2) Sunnis and Shi’ites regionally do not agree on who should dominate the land between the two rivers and who should suffer subjugation and humiliation, and we get something like the mother-beautiful Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, but on a regional scale and preferably for at least twice as long, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.””

    Internal Genocide

    and
    bq. “If, after the surge has played out, we get out and the main consequence in American foreign policy is:”
    bq. “1) The Left wins, America loses faith in its ability to do anything and win under any circumstances, and in its right to fight and win, and America then makes a European style peace of the beaten with Islam, I won’t say “yes that is what I wanted and expected” but I will say “yes, in view of the situation, that is what I said we must be willing to risk.””
    bq. “2) If American attention shifts to Africa, with American sponsored Christian, Animist and just plain selfish warlords doing land office business and would-be Islamic imperialists getting mauled so badly that Africa does for Islam’s unconventional forces roughly what the New Guinea campaign did to Japanese Imperial soldiers, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.””

    External Genocide

    I proceeded to call him on this in #87 to which he responded in #89 and #90. This included several statements I pulled in #96, including:

    #89 from David Blue
    bq. “Islam inherently radical, not moderate. It’s aggressive, dogmatic, intolerant and violent, and it’s playing for unlimited stakes.”

    and

    #91 from David Blue
    bq. “The ideological aspect is about systems, not individuals and whether you like them or not. I’ve been about systems all along.”

    Where David is generalizing the Islamic people into one system.

    It proceeded from there.

  136. I have been at pains to make myself clear. I have been as explicit as possible while asking “is that clear?

    #44 from David Blue:

    If, after the surge has played out, we get out and the main consequence in Iraq is:
    1) Al Qaeda takes over, not being effectively opposed (as Hamas took over Gaza), and establishes a new Afghanistan like terror state subjugating the Shi’ites and spreading jihad terror globally, or if the Islamic Republic of Iran just takes over and establishes a Shi’ite hegemony that of course will also spread jihad terror globally, I won’t say “yes that is what I wanted and expected” but I will say “yes, in view of the situation, that is what I said we must be willing to risk.”
    2) Sunnis and Shi’ites regionally do not agree on who should dominate the land between the two rivers and who should suffer subjugation and humiliation, and we get something like the mother-beautiful Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, but on a regional scale and preferably for at least twice as long, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.”

    If, after the surge has played out, we get out and the main consequence in American foreign policy is:
    1) The Left wins, America loses faith in its ability to do anything and win under any circumstances, and in its right to fight and win, and America then makes a European style peace of the beaten with Islam, I won’t say “yes that is what I wanted and expected” but I will say “yes, in view of the situation, that is what I said we must be willing to risk.”
    2) If American attention shifts to Africa, with American sponsored Christian, Animist and just plain selfish warlords doing land office business and would-be Islamic imperialists getting mauled so badly that Africa does for Islam’s unconventional forces roughly what the New Guinea campaign did to Japanese Imperial soldiers, then I would say “yes, this is what I hoped for and I’m happy with it.”

    Is that clear?

    #54 from David Blue:

    “#49 from Treefrog: “What good are having ‘free’ troops in Okinawa or Stateside?””

    What good is it for us to fight within the Muslim world, where there is no non-Muslim side to support?

    #59 from David Blue: Clean Islam out of our lands, our states, to the extent that we can: every year, there should be a little less Islam than the year before, however we bring that about (within means circumscribed by decency and law).

    #80 from David Blue

    #65 from Treefrog:

    “I think the problem is the perception of the Islamists as implacable fanatics who will keep coming no matter what, and thus attempts to install democracy, moderate Islam, etc are doomed to failure. I see this a lot from both the left and the right. Probably about the only point they all agree on. The only way to stop them is to kill them all.”

    This is not my position.

    I think we are up against a paper program, like the chess programs that were written before people had computers to do the hack-work of going through the program. If a guy sits in a chair and plays the moves that come out of the program, Deep Blue or whatever it is is your opponent, not him. So it’s a system we’ve got to beat, not these or those guys who are or are not fanatical.

    Achmed next door may not be fanatical at all, but he’s still going to send his kids to be indoctrinated by Sheik Hilaly, and there’s our problem. Whereas Wacky Wanda may indeed be a fanatic on evil tea leaves, but she’s not part of a system that will continue forever or till it’s stopped, and that runs a program of violent holy law. So “fantaticism” is not the problem, and individual “fanatics” are not the problem.

    Consequently, my solution is not all about killing. That has a role, as in any war. But I’m advocating sensible war measures in the face of a threat, the same as we faced up to the threat of Communism. I want to fight for turf (to be lost for Islam and won by resolute unbelievers), and not only to inflict casualties that Muslim hyper-fertility will soon make good.

    I’m not seeing Islam as a mere excuse for desired anti-Arab genocides any more than I saw the system of Communism as a mere excuse for desired anti-Russian genocides. That was not and is not what this is about at all.

    If the whole sum of my thinking was “we should tell our soldiers to kill Muslims” I’d be for staying in Iraq.

    Instead, I want to take turf off Islam, and if that is not possible I don’t want us to take useless casualties. It’s not possible in Iraq. So let’s get out of Iraq.

    And since getting out of Iraq may allow large fratricidal fights that will kill off jihadists we would otherwise need to take casualties in order to kill off elsewhere, so as to take turf off the house of Islam and defeat the system of Islam: wonderful! We mustn’t let this chance slip!

    #82 from David Blue:

    7 – If things go really badly for a long, long time, the Muslim world can go quiet, which explains the very atypical period of Muslim quiet that we just came out of. But this is like a thin layer of quiet gray ashes over a deep fire. Pour oil money and Muslim demographic superiority on the fire, let the Muslim hope of ages once again arise, the hope that fuels jihad, and – whoops! – the fire was never out after all.

    We have a long, long hard task in front of us to push the Muslim world back into its quiet state once again.

  137. #86 from David Blue:

    Re: #84 from Fletcher Christian:

    All I ask is that we act in reasonable, historically normal warlike ways to the real threat of an inimical system.

    Nuclear spasm war has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with my ideas.

    I don’t think we have the capacity to do that. And if we could do it it would be immoral, but the point is moot because we could not do it. We should direct our thoughts to more practical options.

    We’ve even worked out and implemented within living memory most of what we would need to do. Just substitute “Muhammed (pbuh)” for “Karl Marx” and “Muslim” for “Marxist” and more than half the play-book is already written.

    #89 from David Blue:

    Since the camp of Islam is in a permanent underlying state of war with us (though war may temporarily and provisionally be suspended, at ruinous prices such as the payment of “jizya” or in effect Danegeld) it is in out interest for Islamic armed forces to degrade, to write each other down. Bluntly, they should busy themselves killing each other rather than us, wearing down their will to fight rather than wearing us down.

    Though the system of Islam is inherently relentless, all human beings are human beings first, and members of systems and communities second. Communist, Muslim or gung-ho American: we’re all human. And human beings can get tired and discouraged.

    That happens in protracted and unsuccessful war, where the casualties stay way higher than people can bear, and they cannot adjust them down. Then, major cultural changes can happen. For example, the First World War produced cultural changes in the West, and the Second World War produced further changes.

    A conflict that:
    1. Halts the creation of inherently hostile states, and
    2. Writes down (or prefrably off) lots of hostile warriors and war materials, and
    3. Might have an outside chance, if it went long enough and spread wide enough and imposed costs high enough, to produce major cultural changes, the way centuries of failed crusades or the vast toll of the trenches on the Western Front and the abortive effort of the Germans to re-adjudicate that conflict changed European culture …

    … is devoutly to be desired in every way. It’s in the vital national interest of the Great Satan and every country allied to it.

    And there is nothing immoral about hoping it happens., This is war, and self-preservation.

    As for trying to engineer it, no.

    I believe in simple plans in war. (I also believe our tools of intrigue, such as the CIA, are worthless, and nothing serious should be entrusted to them, so let’s skip anything that smacks of intrigue.)

    I believe we have very little ability to influence minds in the Muslim world. (This is even one reason why we need such blunt change agents.)

    So, Keep It Simple, Stupid. No tricks, we just leave.

    And if everybody in Iraq and parts nearby then realizes that under all that Muslim dogma, and under the poisonously aggressive cultures it produces, all men are brothers, and arms are for hugging – good for them! I wouldn’t lift a finger to spoil the love-fest.

    But if they are such bloody-minded fanatics that they have to kill infidels and lacking infidels to kill they are so blood-thirsty that they’ll kill each other instead, which is what I think may be the case, then good for us. Let them kill each other.

    Better them than us. That is what it comes down to.

    #129 from David Blue

    #122 from RobW:

    “This is particularly disturbing when it is used to generalize the whole of the Islamic peoples, then followed closely by a call to commit genocide. It’s Racist, or Anti-Islamic, whatever the term is for discriminating against a religion. Your strategy against all of them is to hope for internal genocide and to sponsor external genocide. This is how you have represented yourself and I will not allow it to go unchallenged. Challenge it I have.”

    You’re lying about me there, in a very nasty way.

    I was called out by name in the bolded passage.

    This, above, is what I’ve said. Nobody else’s words are relevant. I’ve repudiated the views of Fletcher Christian where they diverged from my own. Nor have I defended what anybody else said, and for simplicity I’m not doing so now.

    There is no room for reasonable doubt about what I mean, and that it is not genocide (or racism), because I’ve been painstakingly explicit and clear, and I have striven for internal consistency, with some success, as nobody has brought a remotely plausible charge that I have contradicted myself above.

    There’s one line that might be ambiguous if it lacked context, which it doesn’t, and here it is:

    #54 from David Blue:

    “#49 from Treefrog: “I think the cash is worth it to avoid at best a genocide in Iraq and at worst a major regional war, potentially sucking in up to 3 nuclear players (Israel, Pakistan, possibly India depending on how Pakistan gets involved).””

    I have another opinion on that.

    I did not say why. It might be that I don’t consider the alleged threat of genocide plausible, or that I don’t think avoiding the alleged threat is worth the money, or something else. In any case, this has nothing to do with hoping for or sponsoring genocide, rather, at harshest it would put me in agreement with Barak Obama, and/or partial agreement with the Ace of Spades: Preventing Genocide Not Enough To Justify US Presence In Iraq (link), which is something else entirely: a refusal to be deflected from a policy that does not aim at genocide by an alleged threat of it.

  138. #143 from Armed Liberal: “Admit it, you all got them, and most of you laughed.”

    I can’t admit that “most of” us “laughed”.

    I can only say I was able to figure out those jokes easily enough, but I didn’t find them funny, then or now.

    Rather, I thought, and think, there must be something wrong with the thinking of those telling those jokes and those finding then funny.

    Because in those jokes, it’s all about our, completely unreal, fantastical violence to them, a complete nothing that we could never do, whereas the horrible and not remotely funny truth, with the smell of asbestos and people still in the air, was (and is) that it’s all about their violence and their deadly aggression against us.

    And it’s about our need to come up with a real answer to that, something sober and genuine, which is what I have tried to do, and what I am still trying to do.

    Unlike these deranged and weak, unconnected jokes people were telling …

    … I don’t know, trying to make themselves feel in control by making jokes in which it’s all about our violence, which is not only in our control but so totally repressed we don’t have the option, instead of it being about their violence, which was out of our control?

    We know exactly what we are up against, if we let ourselves see and hear it. The enemy proclaimed the reasons for their actions. Allah hu akhbar!, they explained. That is why.

    I don’t like these “no Arabs” jokes at all.

    They have only gotten more unreal in the years since. Look out your window, Armed Liberal, where you took that photograph. Never mind the fantasy world with no Arabs – we haven’t even built the park, and it’s 2007!

    How weak is that?

    We should get real. We should address the threat, and diminish it, for real.

    By real means, not by impossible nuclear fantasies.

    No kidding.

  139. [ Gratuitous drive-by post. Deleted for lack of substance. Care to try again? –NM ]

  140. #146 from RobW:

    “Sure, I’ll offer proof. I meant to specifically accuse David Blue of that and I did.”

    You did make those accusations against me, RobW. But you gave no proof of the truth of your accusations.

    I’m willing to let anyone who reads this thread and has an ounce of sense judge you accordingly.

    By the way:

    #103 from David Blue: “Armed Liberal said this was a good thread, focused on the topic, not personal sniping and the usual red herrings. Nobody has disputed that.”

    As Ron Ziegler would have said, long ago, that is no longer the operative statement.

  141. #151 from David Blue
    bq. “You did make those accusations against me, RobW.”

    Let me be clear. It was not my intention to make a personal attack on you, but I did. I retract what I said.

    More accurately, I find your policy prescriptions to be anti-Islamic and genocidal. I do not think they are realistic. They are wrong for a variety of reasons.

    Please excuse me for the personal attack.

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