Friday, September 17, 2004
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Your weekend debate on Iraq
What do you do with a country like Iraq?
Over at the Council on Foreign Relations, Anthony Cordesmann has a frank conversation with Bernard Gwertzman that makes it clear he's none too thrilled with his choice of major party candidates when it comes to Iraq. Here's his response to the question: "Regarding the mistakes you describe in the post-war military planning, were they honest mistakes or should the United States have anticipated the insurgency's resiliency?":
And here's his response to the question, "The president is caught up in his own election campaign and he is under heavy attack from Senator Kerry for his handling of the war. What do you think of Kerry's comments?":
Finally, here's Cordesmann's estimate of the chances of putting down the insurgency and establishing a democratic government in Iraq:
For more useful CFR information on Iraq, check out Sharon Otterman's summary of the Sunni insurgency and U.S. plans to deal with it.
posted by Dan on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM
from Dan's post:
From the interview summary:
Um, isn't that saying that the president's got nothing?
How does this put Kerry at a disadvantage?
Kelli you said something about the President not cutting and running? Yet here's this policy guy in DC who supports the president and says:
He says President Bush could do a great service "if he were to clearly outline what it is the United States is trying to achieve, not the timing, but the conditions under which it would leave Iraq."
- emphasis mine.
So...the Bush Administration is cutting and running. They're just doing it poorly, without what Colin Powell called an "exit strategy". Anyone beg to differ?
Well, I think the problem with Senator Kerry is that virtually everyone can see that we have very serious problems with the major insurgency, that we do not yet have an Iraqi government that Iraqis see as legitimate, and that our aid program, if it hasn't exactly collapsed, is almost totally ineffective in meeting either its short-term or longer-term goals. These are very real problems. The difficulty is ...I have seen zero evidence that the key members of the Bush Administration, particularly Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush, can "see" that there are serious difficulties in Iraq. In fact, their stated line is just the opposite: "things are getting better" - and it seems tha they actually believe that!
Kerry may or may not have a plan, but at least he is acknoweledging the reality. Cheney in particular is showing his corporate executive background: bring me only good news, and fire anyone who isn't a "team player".
Crankyposted by: Cranky Observer on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Andrew Cordesman is not a commie-pinko (to use the words of some of the more distinguished posters on this site).
Anthony Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS. He is also a national security analyst for ABC News. His analysis has been featured prominently during the Gulf War, Desert Fox, the conflict in Kosovo, the fighting in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War. During his time at CSIS, he has been director of the Gulf Net Assessment Project, the Gulf in Transition Study, and principle investigator of the CSIS Homeland Defense Project. He has led studies on national missile defense, asymmetric warfare and weapons of mass destruction, and critical infrastructure protection. He directed the CSIS Middle East Net Assessment Project and acted as codirector of the CSIS Strategic Energy Initiative. He is the author of a wide range of studies on U.S. security policy, energy policy, and Middle East policy, which can be downloaded from the Strategic Energy Initiative, Homeland Defense, Military Balance, and Gulf in Transition sections of the CSIS Web site (www.csis.org).
Professor Cordesman has formerly served as national security assistant to Senator John McCain of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as director of intelligence assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as civilian assistant to the deputy secretary of defense. He directed the analysis of the lessons of the October War for the secretary of defense in 1974, coordinating U.S. military, intelligence, and civilian analysis of the conflict, and he has served in numerous other government positions, including in the State Department and on NATO International Staff. He also served as director of policy and planning for resource applications in the Department of Energy, and he has had numerous foreign assignments, including posts in Lebanon, Egypt, and Iran, and worked extensively in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Professor Cordesman is the author of more than 20 books, including a four-volume series on the lessons of modern war. His most recent books include: The Iraq War; Saudi Arabia Enters the 21st Century; The Lessons of Afghanistan; Terrorism, Asymmetric Warfare, and Weapons of Mass Destruction; Cyberthreats, Information Warfare, and Critical Infrastructure Protection; Strategic Threats and National Missile Defenses; and The Lessons and Non-Lessons of the Air and Missile Campaign in Kosovo. He has been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service medal, is a former adjunct professor of national security studies at Georgetown University, and has twice been a Wilson fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian.
He also strongly supported Bush's anti-terrorism efforts/homeland security edicts. So before anyone says that he's a Dem in disguise, I thought I'd make the record clear.
posted by: c. on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
The Bush Adminstration has failed politically and continues to fail politically in Iraq:
" think that first, one of the problems we have, and particularly the Iraqis have, is that we've never really announced specific goals. We have a background of neo-conservative-type discussions and hopes that call for Iraq somehow to be transformed rapidly into a democracy with a privatized economy that would be an example that would transform the Middle East.
It was clear by the middle of 2003 we weren't going to make any of those goals."*
"If you look at the military side, the massive miscalculation immediately after the war was that the United States would either not face a serious insurgency, or [the insurgency] would be one it could quickly defeat. All it had to do in terms of creating Iraqi security forces was to create a token military force to defend the borders, and the kind of police force that could provide security in terms of criminal activity, rather than counter-insurgency.
Those goals also failed."
"It was clear the administration recognized by April of this year that virtually all of its programs for training police and security forces were failures."
"We have on paper more than 100,000 active Iraqi troops, but only two or three battalions of Iraqis that we can trust to work with United States forces.
That's how many people?
It's somewhere between 1,200 and 2,500 people, depending on how many support people you count."
"People did not predict that when the United States went in, it wouldn't secure the country, would leave large areas of the country open, wouldn't secure the arms depots, would allow the government offices to be looted and the economy crippled during the early days after the liberation.
Nobody predicted that we would not attempt to use the better elements of the Iraqi armed forces and police force and essentially try to recreate everything from scratch. But they could predict that the economic aid would be so ideological and so tailored to restructuring the entire Iraqi economy that most of the money would not flow to the Iraqis, and the services they got would be considerably worse today than they were under Saddam Hussein. So, in a way, this has been an interactive process. We've failed at many levels."
What does Kerry plan to do? Well, he hasn't told us yet:
Andrew's got a really good point.
On the other hand...
" But I think we need to understand that the odds for success were 50-50 at best if we had adopted the right course of action after the fall of Saddam. Now the odds are probably one in four. We've wasted a year; we've wasted billions and billions of dollars. We've made serious military, political, and economic mistakes."
So...does it matter if Kerry has a clear plan right now? We've less than a 25% chance of making a succesful retreat from Iraq, much less a political success (i.e., peace, love, democracy, no terrorists, and cheap oil). Kerry doesn't have all that confidential data the president does. The question is - do we stay or do we go? Andrew, Bush support sez, go. The President has been saying "go" since April.
Funny, kerry supporters keep saying stay. Something about responsibility, america, promises...
This is a first. I'm being argued with before I even arrive at a new thread. Here's to you, energetic newcomer c!
I wonder if you've been out of the country for much of the past year, as Cordesman has been one of the administration's most vociferous critics on Iraq for at least that long. Hence, I believe, Dan's tone of disbelief as he notes that the guy tacitly is saying Bush's shaky leadership trumps Kerry's l'air chaud.posted by: Kelli on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
We know for sure that Bush went into Iraq recklessly, quite unprepared for what's happened.
Would somebody explain to me why supporting Kerry is supporting "cut and run"? That seems to be the consensus of the pro Bush crowd, but I just don't see it. I support Kerry and I think the worst thing we could do at this point is “cut and run”, with the possible exception of what we are doing right now, which is “duck and cover”. I think a large portion of Kerry supporters feel like I do.
If I were an Iraqi insurgent, I’d feel pretty darn confident that the US won’t do a darn thing until after the election. Heck, Bush thought the mission was accomplished back in May of last year! How can we trust him to have a plan when he doesn’t seem to know what victory even looks like?
Kerry seems to be taking flack for not articulating a "plan" – as if the right “plan” would magically make up for all the time and opportunities we have lost and give us a “replay”. I hate to break it to you, but it’s too late for a low cost low casualty “plan”. Its going to be ugly no matter who wins this election, and its going to be uglier than it has to be because we are allowing the bad guys at least three more months to get ready.
Kerry has said repeatedly that he would not “cut and run”. Any “plan” he articulates with the detail demanded by his critics would be picked apart and roasted within 24 hours and would probably be overtaken by events over the next 60 days – let alone by January. Any thing he says would be branded as "evidence" of a "flip flop" and would serve no useful purpose. Nixon’s plan to end the Vietnam War was as secret plan because it was an escalation – that was the secret! I suspect we will see history repeat itself.
Lets face it, Bush has painted us into a corner and its not going to be pretty getting out of it. There simply is no magic bullet! But at least Kerry would have a shot at some international help and cooperation. There is no chance of that happening with Bush in charge.
PS Kelli - Love and kisses (smile)
Two things -
1. If what the NIE, and the CSIS reports say are true, then there really are not a lot of good options - and to admit that, by either Bush or Kerry, is political suicide. So truth from politicians on this subject, with the election so close, won't happen.
Given that, back to Dan's question.
After November, what is the best thing to do, stay or go?
Let's assume that pulling out WON'T be an option, for either Kerry or Bush. Bush, because he is committed. Kerry, because he can't afford to look weak.
Yes, this means that, while getting out may save American lives, and we end up withdrawing in 1-2 years, with many more deaths, that are unnecessary, there WILL BE no quick get out. I fully sympathize with the "leave Iraq" crowd, but, it isn't going to happen, barring some disaster. Which this low level civil war is not.
So, we are staying, unless casualty rates start going over - oh, say 10 a day. Then leaving may become politically necessary. (Again I'm not talking about what is morally necessary, which can be debated both ways).
Back to the point. For the foreseeable future, the US stays, no matter who wins the election.
Assume that elections in January CANNOT be postponed.What is the best way to provide security for the elections?
Checkpoints around most of Sunni area roads, to start with. With security forces of Iraqis manning the checkpoints, so providing the "face", with US troops close by?
Kerry makes a case for more international intervention. Can the US offer to pay the way for arabic speakers, from Indonesia, India, Pakistan, etc? Some way, again, to increase participation, and make this a global effort? (So it isn't about the US?) Take some of the money away from Halliburton, and spread it around to countries that are willing to help, especially those countries with Arab speakers. Give theses forces as much say as US forces, in certain areas.
3. Old fashion money. I don't know if this would work, but, start working with tribal elders, and communities, and people, that goes down, as people from those communities participate in terrorism. Say you have 100 US dollars per person that gets distributed, and this amount goes down if 3 people from the village are found to be insurgents.
4. Direct money for participating in the election?
These are just ideas, but say there are 20 million people you could simply give money to - or even better, incentivise only for trouble areas - we could conceivably pay each Iraqi 100, doles out over months...that's 2 billion dollars. There's 13 billion earmarked for this, right?
These are most likely stupid ideas, or have already been incorporated. But the disbursement of money for "reconstruction", or to be more honest, "bribery for peace" (I'm willing!) has been only 1 Billion so far. Security alone has eaten up, what, over 50 billion?
posted by: JC on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Everything seems to hinge on whether we can either outright defeat or simply outlast the resistance. The odds of either happening seem far less likely than Cordesmann's 1 in 4.
I wish I could think of some realistic options which would acrue to the benefit of the U.S. - but, alas, I cannot. Many more troops will die before some future administration faces up to the profound failure of this Bush gambit and withdraws U.S. forces - in disgrace.posted by: comenius on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
The problem with the bribery strategy is that we are dealing with very sophisticated counterparts: if the resistance knows of this deal they might go for some of the dollars, then buy even better weapons to use against the infidel. These guys don't operate by the same economic calculus that the Washington crowd does - not even the warlords. Also, too many of their family members have already been torched by the U.S. This will be a fight to the death...which we are most certainly not up to.posted by: comenius on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
I still find it stunning how different the level of the bar is set for the two candidates.
GW's seems to be somewhere below the Marianis Trench, and even with that amazing advantage, everyone is stunned that he can't manage to clear it.
Kerry's is set somewhere around the orbital altitude of geosynchronous satellites and even when he comes incredibly close, all anyone can do is bemoan the fact that he failed to sail over the bar with ease.
Really, it's quite amazing.posted by: Hal on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
The "how will Kerry be better" is silly nonsense for anyone who has been paying remote attention to what's been going on in Iraq. We aren't talking about minor miscalculations by the Bush administration, we are talking about UNPARRALLELED INCOMPETENCE. Consider (1) freshly minted college republicans were running Iraq and its economy (one year to find out), (2) the CPA was 1/3 Bush-Cheney '04 campaign headquarters (months-to-a-year to find out), (3) that little reconstruction $$'s have been spent (one year), and (4) Bush micromanaged fallujah over advice on the groudn to hell (months) (5) Torture was an official condoned policy from the top (years). With all of this, who the hell knwos what they are doing now? And at best, it'll take months to find out that Bush did the exact oppositte of what any sane person would do. I think its clear from the aforementioned, that putting anyone who has half-a-brain in charge will leading to amazingly better results.
So, in summary, I think the argument that Bush is grossly-incompetent, and putting someone competent in charge will improve results, is a very, very strong argument.
If you are a wingnut (Kelli, Mark, etc.), before you open your mouths with content-less rheotrical floursishes you copied from Instashill, let me suggest you first define gross incompetence (google & and m-w can help with that). Then, you try and refute 1-4. When you are unable to refute 1-4, and you have your definition of gross incompetence sitting in front of you -- you will see, via modus ponens that 1-4 implies gross incompetence. I believe the last step to replace Bush is pretty trivial. This lesson in elementary logic is free, you can thank me later. I suggest, after deductively arriving at the conclusion Bush is incompetent, you drink twice as much kool-aid as you ususally do, so you can get back on the cognitive-disonance '04 bandwagon!posted by: Jor on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
We ARE there. So, while you may be right, you also may be wrong.
a) If Iraqi forces have a financial incentive to fight against their own,, wouldn't this help? Elections will also help in this regard.
The only POSSIBLE hope is a combination of judicious incentives, both internationally and locally, combined with increasing security, and empowering local leaders.posted by: JC on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Just to be clear, I think that Bush has absolutely, positively, has to go, given his incompetency, if nothing else.
But, "it's all f'd up", won't do it. Even if it's TRUE, it won't do it.
And what would happen in the country, if the US just "gets out while the gettings good?".
After killing 15 K Iraqis, shouldn't we attempt to do the right thing? Get Kerry in there, increase security, entice international support and local support by money, and giving up power where necessaryposted by: JC on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
On how to fix Iraq -- I don't think anyonen really knows. Security is paramount, everything else is secondary, and there is no doubt that it is a complete, gigantic mess. I don't know how you can fix it, when almost everyone says you need more troops than we currently have. Also, our past experience with Iraqi trained troops doesn't appear to be so good, since they usually have loyalties elsewhere.
Although I think its very unlikely to get muslim troops into Iraq, I wonder if there is evidence to suggest that muslim troops will provide a disproportional benefit compared to american troops. (i.e. 1 muslim troop would provide security of 3 american troops because people trust more, etc. etc.). I.e. will internationalizingn really help or not really help (it probably would have earlier, but at the momment, its hard to say).
Assumingn we change leadership, and 35-45% of the peopl ein this country already think the war was completely wrong -- I don't see why we can't say, "Ooops, we fucked up, because we had an idiot in charge" -- maybe in slightly more p.c. terms, and then try to recruit international and arab/muslim support, and get troop #s up to where they need to be. IT might work then, maybe? Maybe not? Just ideas, nothing im really solidly behind.posted by: Jor on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
I don't understand how anyone who recognizes and admits the monumental errors and ideological blindness of this Administration over the last 3.5 years can possibly be considering supporting them again. Look, I supported the war in Iraq. I still do, and I honestly retain some hope that we can and will salvage a win. But there's no way I'm going to trust the rest of the operation to the folks who screwed it up so badly in the first place.
Ok, if Kerry were really the whacked-out, far-Left idiot like Nader or Moore that the RNC wants us all to think he is, then maybe I'd stick with the Bush team, but that's just not the case. Kerry, whatever else he may be, is neither an idealogue nor an idiot. His foreign policy team will be bright, competent and experienced. They may also be wrong. I'm not exactly drinking the Democratic Kool-Aid here. But the point is that Kerry's approach to Iraq is not obviously and undeniably going to be wrong, whereas Bush's approach already is. There are alot of smart people who agree with Kerry's view of the situation, and we already have empirical evidence that Bush's view doesn't work. So let's try something new.posted by: David on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
The other point I forgot to make is that whether or not Kerry has any better ideas than Bush about how to clean up the mess from this point forward, it's pretty clear that Democratic-leaning foreign policy people predicted and warned about the mess before Bush made it. So, specifics or no specifics, I'm more inclined to trust clean-up duty to the people who saw the mess coming than to the people who didn't.posted by: Daved on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
I have to sympathize with the bafflement on the part of those who can't quite understand the different standards Bush and Kerry are being held to. As far as I can tell, Gwertzman's opinion of Kerry comes down to this: "The Bush administration has, through fantastic incompetence, gotten us into a terrific mess, and Kerry hasn't offered a foolproof plan for getting us out." This is supposed to imply there's no difference between the two?posted by: Sean on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Exactly, Sean. If someone supports Bush because they think things in Iraq really aren't that bad, that the problems that do exist weren't forseeable and that overall the Bush team has done pretty well, then ok, that's a logical position to hold. Completely belied by the facts on the ground, but at least logically defensible if you grant the initial premise.
What boggles my mind is when I hear people concede the initial premise is false, that things in Iraq really are seriously fubar and that the Bush team is largely to blame, and then still say they're supporting him again. The only way this makes sense is if you think a Kerry Administration would be catastrophically bad, and I'm talking 1938 Neville Chamberlain bad, but there's just no convincing reason to believe that.posted by: David on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
I'm curious what everybody's thoughts are on what should be the proper metric for determining when to pull out the troops.
I believed for awhile that the only acceptable time to pull out the troops would be when the state of Iraq had reached the point where such a withdrawal would not result in a catastrophe of conflict and chaos. However, it seems that Iraq is not making progress towards this point and is not about to anytime soon. So, I'm wondering if withdrawal should be considered on the grounds of cutting our losses. Why assume the costs in human lives and resources when all we are accomplishing is delaying a catastrophe?posted by: Eric Slusser on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
My assessment is bleak, no doubt. But I am with you, if there is any hope of eventually improving the situation in Iraq - and I would say, in the whole global effort to give Islam its deserved space - it lies with a new Kerry administration. Bush will NEVER regain even a modicum of respect from other relevant world leaders. As long as Bush and the whole cadre of tainted administration liars remain in charge, most of the world wants to see us FAIL in Iraq. Kofi Annan has a barely contained disdain for Bush. Chirac, Blair, Schroeder, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, even India, to name a few, will not budge to help Bush. Much of this hostility would fade if the world community saw the American people use REASON and throw Bush and his failed policies out. Between this sigh of relief, and an honest and wide-ranging diplomatic effort by a new Kerry administration, I believe the international community would come back on board. How? By offering financial assistance, by offering troops through the U.N., by enacting pro-Islamic initiatives through the U.N., by increasing the pressure on Israel to work toward a two-state solution with Palestine, etc.
This will not be enough. But it is a baseline for improving the situation. If Bush is re-elected, there will be no elections in January. This much is clear. Furthermore, if Bush orders a "final solution" for the entire population of Fallujah, then I would think that neighboring Islamic states - as well as many citizens in America and throughout the world - will do everything in their power to resist American success. No decent person in the whole world wants to see this administration empowered to undertake another "pre-emptive" action ever again: not against Iran, not anywhere. Bush has ZERO credibilty and will until the day he dies. He has been a truly disgraceful president - and is a disgraceful American, a disgraceful human being.posted by: comenius on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
damn, good thread, thanks folks.posted by: ChristianSoldier on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Just for historical context.
NGR: Do you think that the leaders of the next century are going to need any special characteristics that today’s leaders don’t have?
Bush: I think that in order for leaders to function in the military, the United States had better have a Commander in Chief that clearly defines the mission. And the mission is to fight and win wars. That is the primary mission. There is a little different mission for the Guard. It is to fight and win wars if called upon and to handle emergency situations if called upon. I am concerned about missions. The military is not a social organization. Therefore, to answer your question, if that is the mission then those who can lead will be those who can best fulfill the mission. Somehow we have a mixed message in today’s military. The key to a successful military is high morale, a sense of purpose, sense of mission, sense of accomplishment, and I suspect a sense of national pride. It is very difficult to have a sense of moral if there is a mixed message coming from the top.posted by: ChristianSoldier on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
- I'd like to know from Kerry specifics on what concessions he's prepared to make to other nations in order to get their assistance in Iraq. I'm not so naive as to think France/Germany/Russia are going to be so grateful GWB is outta there to suddenly change their minds on deploying large numbers of troops to Iraq to replace U.S. soldiers there. I assume we're talking for starters *major* contracts for reconstruction in Iraq being re-routed to companies in the countries being begged for help, paid for with U.S. tax dollars of course, plus putting back in place the lucrative oil contracts Hussein had with France and Russia. I also assume the U.N. will want a large cut of the pie, a la the oil-for-food deal, for giving their "blessing." Other possibilities: agreeing to withdraw all U.S. support for ex-USSR countries, allowing Russia to dominate those regions freely again, and adjusting tariffs to benefit the EU at the USA expense.
Its always good to know the price before paying the ferryman.
- I would also like to know where these foreign troops are going to come from, since chronic underfunding of defense by the EU means they have relatively few troops available for deployment outside Europe, and a lot of those are already being used in Afghanistan. And if it means large numbers of Russian troops coming to Iraq, I *really* want to know that beforehand, considering the penchant of Russian troops for being less than subtle in dealing with local populations.
- The reason for the different standards is that GWB is in the office already, and the challenger has to prove to the electorate that he's got more appealing ideas for leading the nation than the incumbent, who at least has a track record the voters are familiar with. If the polls are any indication, Kerry just hasn't been able to prove that to date.
- One thing I've learned is there there are definite ebbs and flows to the bad news-good news cycle of items coming out of Iraq; unfortunately, the "if it bleeds it leads" motto which dominates major media means the bad usually gets the attention. So, I'm not ready to join the panic parade quite yet, at least on the basis of the past week's events.posted by: tagryn on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Even if there were absolutely no sequence of programs that could salvage Iraq, it's imperative to vote out the bozos who got us into it. First, because that's what you do to incompetent governments in a democracy, and second, so they don't decide to play double-or-nothing in Iran.posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
I don't want to simplify this complex matter too much, but here a few thoughts:
1. Our options are probably limited. Thus, nobody is going to have a grand solution, simply because there isn't one.
2. Bush hasn't shown the proper foresight or leadership or whatever the hell you want to call it in regards to the invasion and occupation. What makes us think he's going to do any better in a second term? The same goes for the rest of his administration.
3. Along the lines of point two, he's had his chance. He has failed. It's time to move on.
4. Kerry isn't suggesting anything absurd or dangerous - the immediate withdrawal of troops, dropping nukes on Iraq, or killing a certain faction of society. Nor has he done anything like that in the past. So at the very least, he's not going to be incompotent.
5. Bush clearly isn't doing his job. Why else would people like Rand Beers quit and join Kerry's team?
6. He's also willing to tell us the truth of what is going on. That should count for something.
The point is, think of Kerry, even if you have to do it in a reserved way.posted by: Brian on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Elections will be conducted in January--Bush and Sistani need them to be.
I don't think people could predict firmly what level of insurgency was going to be created.
C'mon, this is a great big pile of steaming, smelly bullshit. Everyone who was against the war predicted with 100% accuracy that this is exactly what would happen in Iraq. We shouted it from the rooftops and the warfloggers ignored it. Now the warfloggers are trying to re-write history to say that nobody predicted this would happen. The warfloggers need to emerge from their little fantasy world and start listening to people who disagree with them. They'll find their opponents are right on a whole range of issues.
And this is the reason why Iraq is such a mess. Because the pro-war side ignores the other, no changes are ever made to the failed strategy until they themselves finally arrive at the same conclusions their opponents arrived at a long time ago.
Take the disbanding of the Iraqi army for example. The left said it was a bad idea when it was first done. But it wasn't until over a year later that it dawned on the right that it was a bad idea. This disconnect is the driving force behind the failure in Iraq and until this problem is addressed, Iraq will remain a failure.
If multiple viewpoints are not examined when determining a correct strategy or making changes to correct a strategy, you end up creating a course of action that is born from what amounts to someone using only half their brain.posted by: Robert McClelland on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
If you go in for surgery, and the surgeon screws up so bad that you have to go in for more surgery to fix it, do you:
1. Change surgeons (and sue the first one for malpractice)?
2. Go to the same surgeon, because the other guy has never operated on your before, and the first one has "learned his lesson"?posted by: CaseyL on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
I think the analogy is more accurate if the only alternative is going to a surgeon who doesn't believe you are sick in the first place, and so recommends a diet of wheatgrass juice and mangos instead...well, after first telling you that you *do* need surgery, then changing his mind.posted by: tagryn on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
People assume that can be fixed something that even wasnt fixed in Saddam time
Problem is perception. Dont let car bombs (a group of 100 guerrillas can put a country in fire, just remember what Red Brigades made in in Italy of 70's) deviate from the underlining reality which we dont know because our media dont do their jobs.
The only big mistake i point towards Bush is the soldier level and the zig-zag against Al-Sadr. I think an harsh US ruler could have helped. Thats one of the critics that comon Iraquis say "US is too soft".posted by: lucklucky on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Now problems with Mr Cordesman who is is a military expert.
"But they could predict that the economic aid would be so ideological and so tailored to restructuring the entire Iraqi economy that most of the money would not flow to the Iraqis, and the services they got would be considerably worse today than they were under Saddam Hussein."
1- -ideological economic aid-
2-services they got would be considerably worse today-
energy power output seems to be above pre-war. Prosperity seems to be rising. We dont see any protest for lack of money or for economic reasons. There is no shortage of food, gasoline for cars, markets are working, schools are working, etc etc . So what is the economic dip he's talking about "today"?posted by: lucklucky on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
OK, people are talking about what we can and can't or should and shouldn't do about iraq. I can't say what Kerry would do, but here's what I'd do if it was me running things in January, and we weren't defeated yet. For one early step I'd make a speech for the iraqi people, and I'd try to get really good translators. It would go something like this:
"I wish to speak to the iraqi people.
"You probably think of me as a government leader, and from your experience with Saddam and with other american leaders you would expect me to lie to you. I cannot expect you to trust me but I will tell the truth regardless. I will tell you what I intend to do, and what I intend not to do, and what I would like for you to do.
"First, I will not keep US troops in your country. I will call back our troops whenever your government asks me to, or maybe before.
"Second, I will not try to control iraqi natural resources. Iraq is welcome to sell as much or as little oil as you wish, for whatever price you are willing to sell.
"Third, I will spend american money to help put your country back together, even after the US army has left. I will spend as much as my Congress allows me, provided I think it is mostly used to rebuild iraq and not to make a few people rich. I am looking for patriotic iraqis who are worth a decent wage to improve your country, not thieves who take the money for themselves.
"Last, I want to recommend democracy to you. The USA has only once in over 200 years torn up half the nation because we fought among ourselves. That is not the only reason we became wealthy, but it is an important one. Instead we listen to each other and try to reach agreement. When necessary the majority rules; we put up with losing because next vote we might win and besides -- we still do better than we would with a bloody war. And the losers are always fewer than winners. They would likely lose the war too.
"It takes tolerance. Perhaps you will make a democracy that allows a lot of regional difference. Some regions might have Sharia law and others not. In the United States our state laws vary; we have one state whose laws came from Napoleon. Some problems work out by letting different neighborhoods do as they want, within reason. If you want people to change what they do, you do better to persuade them than to try to force them. And if they refuse to be persuaded, be cautious. People will not compromise away what they most care about. Free people will die in their tracks rather than knuckle under to oppression that goes too far. As my country's military has seen recently, under my predecessor's orders. So it is better to be tolerant of the important values of minorities.
"It is better to vote than to kill and die. Let everyone have their say. I would suggest that you let Ba'ath members and Sadr supporters and anyone else run for office. Whatever share of votes they get in a fair election, they deserve that share of the assembly.
"While I am giving advice -- which as a sovereign nation you may choose to ignore -- I suggest you have local and regional elections as soon as possible, wherever you have not already. Think about ways to make it clear that your elections are fair and honest. Let people talk about politics, even ridiculous stands, and if they convince enough other people they can get into the assembly. If they convince enough iraqis, they can get their laws passed. There is no point attacking people with guns when you do better to persuade them.
"I hope your local governments will set up militias to keep order. The central government's police and military will be stretched thin for a long time -- if you choose, forever. There is no good reason for anyone to attack you. But if someone does fight and you can't beat them, the US military may be sent into your town to shoot until the fighting stops, and they will stay until your elected officials are confident that the threat is over. Soon after your army has been trained well enough to do this job and its other duties, we will mostly leave unless your government wants us to leave sooner.
"Thank you for listening."
That doesn't cover everything but it hits the essentials. We will leave as soon as they tell us to. We don't have to agonise over whether they're ready -- once they tell us to leave we have no choice.
We will only intervene where the elected local government is under attack it can't handle itself. Any time we have the majority of the locals against the local government they elected, something is wrong. We'll never have to attack Fallujah and I doubt the Najaf town council would call us in. I don't care if the insurgents win -- if they win elections they deserve to win. That makes them the government and if somebody attacks them too hard we'll help defend them.
When I look at it that way the situation doesn't look hopeless at all. It's hopeless if we have to back losers to control everybody else. It's hopeless if we can't leave until our picked losers are firmly in control. We don't have to play that game.
We aren't strong enough to put a puppet government in control and keep permanent bases and run the oil industry. But none of those are what we say we're doing. Give them up and do what we've been pretending we're there for, and it might go just fine.
We dont see any protest for lack of money or for economic reasons.
You don't think that Moqtada al-Sadr's insurgency and his control of poor neighborhoods in Baghdad doesn't have a large economic component? Clue up.posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
The unrest is localised in a part of Iraq which isnt the most poor, i would say it ranks in second after Kurdish areas, so i dont think economic factor is a big reason for the unrest.
posted by: lucklucky on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Lucklucky, I'd guess it's easier to recruit an army from the formerly-employed in the Sunni areas than those who've always lived hand to mouth. Although they also hate us in the Sadr City slum of Baghdad… Our inability to bring living standards back to Saddam's (!) in much of the country certainly has much to do with the populace's lack of enthusiasm for our presence, if not outright aid for the anti-American forces.
Incidentally, there are also Mercedes, corruption, and villas in Haiti. It doesn't stop people from starving. In the case of Palestine, a great many people fell out of the middle class because of the boneheaded policy of Arafat. I imagine those who were already poor are now surviving only on such handout aid as the still receive. I suppose you could make a pretty persuasive case that they "deserve" it, but such a demonstration won't do much to make Israel or America safer (much less Palestine).posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
The folks who are touting Cordesman's bona fides have obviously never taken a foreign policy course in their lives. There are other dimensions of analysis beside the simplistic Republican/Democrat, you know.
If any of you knew anything, you would know that Cordesman is an uber-realist. Accordingly, we can expect his analysis to be diametrically opposed to the neo-conservatives who are running the war. He is the equivalent of Howard Dean - probably as philosophically opposed as you can get to the Bush Administration's policies.posted by: Al on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Everyone who was against the war predicted with 100% accuracy that this is exactly what would happen in Iraq.
Yeah. You told us that there would be 500,000 casualties. You said that there would be mass starvation and disease. You told us that Saddam would attack our troops with WMD and would launch his missile laden with WMD against Israel. You said that there would be lots of terrorist attacks in the United States. You said that all the oil well would be set on fire and would burn for years to come. You said that there would be untold ecological damage. You said that there would be millions of refugees streaming out of Iraq.
You were 100% accurate as to what would happen in Iraq.posted by: Al on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
AI, everyone in the world apparently is against the neo-cons fantasy interpretation of the war in Iraq, including apparently other prominent neo-con journalists. And I guess the CIA and the British Government. I would like to congragulate you for having earned yourself a spot in the wingnut-hall of infamy. Your prize is a gallon of kool-aid. Cognitive-Disonance '04!posted by: Jor on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Wow, Al, I insisted Saddam would attack us (and Israel) with WMD, and at the same time I said that UN Inspections were showing Saddam didn't have any WMD.
We supply links to your side's boneheaded "cakewalk" predictions, and you supply strawman fantasies.posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Andrew, Al does have a point.
When they started pushing the invasion with all those rosy predictions about how it wasn't going to be a long hard slog at all, the naysayers did come up with a whole lot of ways they could mess up.
As it happens things didn't go wrong in every single possible way. The iraqis didn't make a stand in Baghdad and we didn't have to level the city and kill hundreds of thousands or millions of civilians. The iraqis didn't try to escape out into the deserts and make a giant refugee problem. (Saddam did us a good turn with that. He kept telling them the war was going great and people weren't sure enough he was wrong to go out and be refugees. Then when they found out the barbarians were at the gates it was too late.) (The 'barbarians at the gates' thing is a literary reference, I don't think we're barbarians.)
There were lots of ways it could have gone wrong that got pointed out and then didn't happen. There were some things that could have gone wrong that didn't go wrong.
I have the idea it might have actually gone pretty well. We were in good shape right after the invasion, except for the armories getting looted and the government offices getting looted and the many violent criminals on the streets. We probably could have done very well from there, except that we messed up every single thing that got reported, namely:
US troops with translators used as police forces
I get the impression the army and marines have done very well with a few exceptions. Almost all the bad stuff is at the direct order of civilians, with the possible exception of the 2nd Namaf attack. Also they got urban warfare doctrines from the israelis, whose urban warfare doctrines are designed to lose hearts and minds.
"If any of you knew anything, you would know that Cordesman is an uber-realist. Accordingly, we can expect his analysis to be diametrically opposed to the neo-conservatives who are running the war. He is the equivalent of Howard Dean - probably as philosophically opposed as you can get to the Bush Administration's policies."
Interesting - I am a realist, read realist papers all the time, subscribe to the journals, and y'know, I've never heard of him before Dan posted. So I looked him up and a simple Google search only found his academic/governement work...and no theory or policy papers to review. So based on the interview and his Bio and a couple news articles I concluded that he has defacto supported the Bush Administration until lately.
But at least two people have suggested that he is a huge critic of the Bush administration. We disagree, so let the facts speak for themselves.
"Professor Cordesman has previously served as national security assistant to Senator John McCain..." http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Anthony_H._Cordesman
"Cordesman expresses some dissatisfaction with several of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations" http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2004/07/01db6e94-631c-4cf3-aa66-71a97b3fc02f.html
"Iraq and the risk posed by weapons of mass distruction" report to the Armed services committee 2/27/2002 - supporting an attack http://armed-services.senate.gov/statemnt/2002/Cordesman.pdf
more evidence he was in a "invade Iraq now!" fram of mind http://www.drumbeat.mlaterz.net/Op-Ed/Anthony%20Cordesman%20Pentagon's%20Scariest%20Thoughts%20032003a.htm
Consistently throughout the Bush Administration he has supported and abetted their policymaking. I find that he didn't start seriously criticizing the war or the administration until April 2004 in this article:
So if a person with strong FP credentials and ties to the Republican party starts seeing something horribly wrong with our policies in Iraq and the administration, this makes him a democract?
You've seen my evidence - now let's see yours.
Andrew the presence of America in Iraq brought lots of money from outside(islamic fascists, Iranian meddling) and also from inside( Saddam loyalists, and some more extremists religious figures)
About Palestinian first "starving" how it appeared? i dont see any proof of lack of food in palestinian areas, i have no news that refered that palestinian fruits and other products are not reaching Israel markets for exemple, recently in Palestinan news(a month or 2 ago) apeared that some palestinian firms highly connected gov. officials sold cement(subsided by egypt) to israeli firms that are building the wall...
posted by: lucklucky on 09.17.04 at 05:55 PM [permalink]
Lucklucky, here is a sample link.
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