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7/20/2007
THE IRAQ CONUNDRUM

Amid talk of end games, withdrawals, and timetables for the American military leaving Iraq, precious little is being said of the consequences if we stay, albeit with a much reduced force.

Yes more Americans will die. And more Iraqis. Perhaps many more Iraqis if some of the more extremist Shia elements get their way. But frankly, I’m puzzled by those who wish to see the US military policing Baghdad for the next ten years as well as those who think withdrawing every American soldier from Iraq is the best outcome available.

This piece by Timothy Garton Ash appearing in the Los Angeles Times actually makes the case - unintentionally - that we should not only stay in Iraq but institute a draft and take the country to a full war footing:

In an article for the Web magazine Open Democracy, Middle East specialist Fred Halliday spells out some regional consequences. Besides the effective destruction of the Iraqi state, these include the revitalizing of militant Islamism and enhancement of the international appeal of the Al Qaeda brand; the eruption, for the first time in modern history, of internecine war between Sunni and Shiite, “a trend that reverberates in other states of mixed confessional composition”; the alienation of most sectors of Turkish politics from the West and the stimulation of authoritarian nationalism there; the strengthening of a nuclear-hungry Iran; and a new regional rivalry pitting the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies, including Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, against Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

For the United States, the world is now, as a result of the Iraq war, a more dangerous place. At the end of 2002, what is sometimes tagged “Al Qaeda Central” in Afghanistan had been virtually destroyed, and there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq. In 2007, there is an Al Qaeda in Iraq, parts of the old Al Qaeda are creeping back into Afghanistan and there are Al Qaeda emulators spawning elsewhere, notably in Europe.

Osama bin Laden’s plan was to get the U.S. to overreact and overreach itself. With the invasion of Iraq, Bush fell slap-bang into that trap. The U.S. government’s own latest National Intelligence Estimate, released this week, suggests that Al Qaeda in Iraq is now among the most significant threats to the security of the American homeland.

Would someone please tell me why, after listing the most dire consequences that will flow from our withdrawal that anyone in their right mind would even contemplate such a move?

Why give up and leave when the world will fall upon our head? Why remove all of our troops if our strategic position in the Middle East will suffer such a grievous blow? Why skedaddle and give Osama Bin Laden his victory?

The de facto argument of people like Ash and those on the left is that there is nothing that can be done to prevent this catastrophe so we might as well get out of the way and allow it to happen. Obama said as much yesterday with regard to Sunni genocide:

Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

It is bothersome that liberals like Obama can’t differentiate between a humanitarian mission where American interests (oil, economic, strategic) are not in play and a place like Iraq where we are not only responsible for breaking the china but have spent the last 4 years stumbling around like a blindfolded bull in a curio shop. Iraq is, if nothing else, of extraordinary importance to our national security and our interest in seeing that the free flow of cheap oil continues from the Middle East.

But this is much to selfish for the average lefty. When they look in the mirror, they want to see self-sacrifice as the price of going to war. It feeds their heroic self-image to believe that we are sacrificing American lives (not theirs, of course) for no discernible American advantage. Grubby questions about whether military action would benefit the United States in any way simply never enters into the equation. And if they do, the questions are dismissed or disparaged as “war mongering.”

We saw the exact same crap in Kosovo and Bosnia. Liberals are not in favor of military action unless it can be seen as an act of self-abnegation. This explains a lot about why they wish to see such a precipitate and total withdrawal from Iraq. They want to punish the United States for acting in its own interest.

But is it true that all is lost in Iraq? Can any of the consequences listed by Ash above be mitigated or stopped?

Of course they can. We can’t create a civil society in Iraq with our military. That much is certainly true. But preventing a regional Shia-Sunni war? I daresay with 130,000 troops (even fewer if you believe people like Senators Lugar and Domenici) we can keep the two sides outside of Iraq from going at each other’s throats. Preventing the “destruction of the Iraqi state?” With enough troops, this too is possible. It won’t be a healthy state. It won’t be a democracy (if we can get Bush to drop his unquestioned support for the sectarian killers who are currently running Iraq). But with enough troops we can continue to battle al-Qaeda while our very presence may deter the worst of the sectarian massacres.

Turkey’s internal political struggles will continue whether we are in or out of Iraq. But it would help Prime Minister Erdogan in maintaining a secular state if we could reinforce the 3,000 troops we already have at the border and work with our NATO ally to prevent the Kurdish terrorists from striking inside Turkey.

Also with enough American troops in Iraq, Iran would feel constrained from being too aggressive. Yes, they’d meddle in Iraqi affairs and keep up the pressure elsewhere using their proxies to stir up trouble. But Iran has their own internal problems and it’s an open question just how the future will play out. And, of course, Iraq could be the launching pad for any kind of strike at Iran if it ever became necessary - something that would certainly play on the minds of the Iranian leadership if we stay in sufficient numbers.

The point is anything is better than the catastrophe outlined above and echoed by many experts who see our withdrawal in such stark, unforgiving terms. Are all of these people so anxious to see their prophecies fulfilled that they can’t wait for American troops to leave so that the show can begin? To not even try to head off this monumental blow to our security is just plain daffy.

And to my righty friends who insist on believing that victory on the battlefield will translate into an Iraq with a functioning government that represents all the people while creating some kind of viable, multi-sectarian state I would point out that the military doesn’t do faith. Nor do they do trust. Nor do they do hope. And without those three attributes, Iraqi society will remain what it is today - a broken mess teeming with hate and vengeance.

If we are going to salvage something from this military adventure while heading off the worst of the fallout from our invasion and occupation, we are going to have to get used to the idea that while the security situation may become tolerable, Iraq will not improve dramatically for many years. In the interregnum, the death squads will be ever present while the elements pushing for a “cleansing” of Sunnis from the country will continue to agitate for genocide. It will not be pretty nor will it be democratic. But if we can maintain a large enough force there, it may prevent the kind of catastrophe that so many experts are predicting but failing to offer any rationale why this is acceptable.

And Bush? If Iraq is as important as he says it is. If the stakes are so high. If it is a matter of the highest national security interest of the United States that we stay in Iraq and continue to involve ourselves directly in this civil war, then why only 160,000 men? Why not strip foreign postings of troops and send them to Iraq? Why not call up the rest of the reserves, initiate a draft, put a gun in the hand of any soldier that can walk and send them to points north, south, east, and west in that bloody country to truly get a handle on all aspects of the security situation; the insurgency, al-Qaeda, the militias, the foreign jihadists - anyone who opposes the government or us?

If Iraq was that important, shouldn’t we be doing at least some of these things? Bush will have a lot to answer for from history but his monumental failure in articulating what is at stake in Iraq while failing to make his actions match his rhetoric will be perhaps his greatest blunder. No wonder the American people want out. When their president has failed so miserably in giving them logical, coherent reasons to support the mission, why not just give up and go home?

We can still prevent the kind of catastrophe mentioned by Halliday and predicted by many others. Unfortunately, it would take leadership to do so. A leader in the White House that would do everything in his power to prevent the unthinkable. But Bush seems oblivious to differentiating between his vision for Iraq and what is actually required to avoid a serious blow to American interests. And that kind of stubbornness will truly lead to a disaster of epic proportions in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

By: Rick Moran at 7:20 am
30 Responses to “THE IRAQ CONUNDRUM”
  1. 1
    gregdn Said:
    8:14 am 

    Why is it our job to keep Sunni & Shia from killing each other? They’ve been at it for a thousand years, and anyone who thinks American troops can mend that relationship needs their head examined.
    When our troops are busy walling off compounds in Baghdad to prevent sectarian killing it’s clearly past time to leave.

  2. 2
    Rick Moran Said:
    8:53 am 

    That’s pretty shallow. I would hope someone would answer the question. Is it better to have the bloodbath or not? Or make the argument that we can’t prevent it - and show me why not.

  3. 3
    Fight4TheRight Said:
    8:56 am 

    gregdn,

    So, if we continue with your logic here…why should we have forces and a presence in the DMZ in Korea? If the Communists in the North and the democratic South want to just bomb each other to hell, let em?

    And how about Israel? Since the Arab World and the Persians are intent on destroying Israel and Israel is unwilling to negotiate with them, why should we even be involved? Let’s just let the chips fall and stay out of it, right?

    And how about Iran? So they want to build nuclear weapons. And they have threatened to wipe Israel off the globe. We should just back off, retreat within our borders and say, well…it ain’t our fight.

    I’m not sure if you are an isolationist or you only want us to stick our nose into “easy” conflicts.

    And Rick, as for Iraq. I’ll just say this. Doesn’t it make sense for the U.S. to do it’s very best to create an atmosphere of security in Iraq so it’s politicians and people can move to the next steps? I mean, we have heard it over and over again that the Iraqi government is handcuffed by the ongoing violence. How can we expect a Sunni politician to invest himself personally in a relationship with a Shia politician when, if what you and the Dems are calling for, could very possibly leave that Sunni politician at the mercy of a National Militia controlled by Shia. The Shias of Iraq have a very clear memory what happened to them when the U.S. bailed after the first Gulf War. And the Sunnis certainly have seen what Sadr would do to them if things are left in a vacuum.

    Finally, the Left has moved so far into Socialism that their aspect of the Iraq War is clearly predictable. Their view is simply that the U.S. no longer sit in a role of World Superpower. They see our righful place as another France, Germany, Japan. They wish all conflicts to be settled in the U.N. They will prescribe that we disseminate all of our wealth and position to the rest of the world. We are the Evil Big Brother. They want us all to be equals across this planet.

    After all, if it “takes a village” to raise a child, it certainly takes a world of people in complete harmony to solve these issues. Right?

  4. 4
    jay k. Said:
    8:59 am 

    i’m all for kicking out the jams and decimating whatever and whoever we have to…but first the civilian leadership must be changed. they have bungled this from the start, including not finishing the job in afghanistan, and there is absolutely no reason to think they won’t continue to do so. i don’t know the mechanism for this, but i know it needs to be done.

  5. 5
    PunditGuy Said:
    9:05 am 

    This lefty has been all for a full-scale invasion to stabalize Iraq. (BTW, my little brother has been called up and will be headed for the desert next month — so I’ve got some legitimate concern about what’s going on.) You don’t get to call Iraq the “central front in the war on terror” and then spend four long years half-assing the job.

    And that’s the crux of the problem. The same brain trust that got us in this mess, who have insisted incessantly that we’re making progress, who have at every turn ignored everything the Left had to say about the war (some of which ended up being oh-so-true), are still in charge. I don’t care if you’ve always supported the idea of this war, never supported the idea of this war or fall somewhere in between. We should all be able to agree on the utter incompetence that has been masquerading as strategy.

    The fact of the matter is, either going in whole hog or withdrawing completely are both preferable to continuing the same, idiotic policies that have brought us to where we are. I put zero stock in the dire predictions made by people who have had 0% success in guessing where we’d end up.

    The straw that should have broke the camel’s back is that latest NIE. For goodness’ sake, five years and more than half a trillion dollars after 9/11, the folks who did that to us are as strong or stronger than before we did anything? That was not supposed to happen.

  6. 6
    cbmc Said:
    9:34 am 

    you kind of answered your own question, and you’d be doing yourself a favor if you chewed that question a little harder: might the reason we don’t do a mega-deploy be because Bush knows it’s not actually as important, nor are the stakes as high, as he says?

  7. 7
    Rick Moran Said:
    9:37 am 

    That certainly is a possibility. I actually think it’s more due to his inarticultaeness and incompetence.

  8. 8
    Sauropod Said:
    9:43 am 

    Maybe Bush isn’t instituting a draft for the simple reason that the country would never accept a draft for such an unpopular war, especially this late in the game. It’s just not going to happen.

  9. 9
    gregdn Said:
    9:59 am 

    There’s nothing shallow about asking why it’s our job to babysit these people, but from a purely practical standpoint it’s obvious that we don’t have enough troops for the job.

  10. 10
    jay k. Said:
    10:06 am 

    sauropod is correct, but if we had approached this thing correctly we would have instituted a draft by lunchtime on 9/11 and hit afghanistan so f’ing hard that iran wouldn’t think of f’ing with us. if you think support for the so-called war in iraq is soft today, try instituting a draft. there would be rioting in the streets. and of course today iran knows we can’t really do a thing to them ’cause we are so bogged down in iraq. if i managed projects like this project has been managed i would be out of work.

  11. 11
    psmarc93 Said:
    11:41 am 

    The administration is incapable of salvaging this incursion into Iraq. Every initial plan, every subsequent decision, has proven to be utterly, murderously stupid — ill-considered, arrogantly misinformed, and impervious to self-analysis. It’s only strategy now is to keep throwing our soldiers into a meatgrinder until they can leave office in Jan. 2009 and blame failure on the next administration. Perhaps a full-incursion would work, perhaps a redeployment would work, but –as with nearly 3/4’s of the country — I believe this administration is too stupid to accomplish anything. Therefore, in the interests of simply saving more American lives, until we have a responsible, competant leadership, I support the idea of getting as many American soldiers out of their hands as possible. If impeachment of both Bush and Cheney can not be achieved with only 49 Dems voting in the Senate, then the best course of action may be to simply remove their control as much as possible.

  12. 12
    Pajamas Media Trackbacked With:
    11:50 am 

    The Lonely Trail…

    California Republican Duncan Hunter is leading a cash and organization-starved campaign that’s looking for a lucky break in New Hampshire. But any candidate that hasn’t captured the all-important media spotlight is going to have a difficult time brea…

  13. 13
    mannning Said:
    1:38 pm 

    Yes, Rick, we should be dong all of those things you laid out, and more!

    Have we learned yet that while war can be done on the cheap the way we fight, the occupation, security, and seeing to a stable government aftermath is darned expensive and totally absorbing of multiple talents quite beyond military competence?

    Have we learned yet that to conquer a nation is to essentially own it until stability is assured?

    Have we learned yet that we should control the key resources we paid in lives and money to conquer, until a proper settlement can be reached?

    Have we learned yet that tribal-based nations are the classic “loose federation of warring tribes”?

    Have we learned yet that Islam foments war with infidels, especially when they are flooding an Islamic country, or are stirred up by rhetoric from the likes of OBL?

    We have the resources to win if we decide to use them. Let us decide!

  14. 14
    Former Republican Said:
    1:40 pm 

    Withdrawal may well result in catastrophe. But staying the course may also result in catastrophe. I don’t understand why any American can have any confidence in predictions about what will happen in Iraq. The American track record for such predictions is miserable. The fact is, we don’t know what will happen if we withdraw, and we don’t know what will happen if we stay. Either way we face the prospect of geopolitical and humanitarian catastrophe, with no way that I know of judging which course of action will minimize it. Furthermore, I agree that a draft is simply not going to happen, so it’s useless to talk about putting in lots more troops. The real choice is to withdraw or to stay with a modest number of troops. Both look like bad choices and I can’t say which is worse. So I look to what’s good for America. For me the key is to keep this war from poisoning American politics for a generation. I see only one way to do that: a bipartisan action by Congress before 2009, with enough votes to override a veto. That means at least 18 Republican votes in the Senate. That puts the country in a position where the Republicans can’t blame the Democrats for defeat in Iraq. Everyone can put the blame where it belongs, on George W. Bush, and move on.

  15. 15
    Postagoras Said:
    2:03 pm 

    “Liberals are not in favor of military action unless it can be seen as an act of self-abnegation.” This is painting with an awfully broad brush- and, with regard to Afghanistan, is a lie.

    As stated by others, the real problem is not a liberal or conservative problem- it’s the problem of entrusting the over all strategy of Iraq to the Bush Administration.

  16. 16
    gil Said:
    2:08 pm 

    Fight4theright

    Maibe you need to try to understand what this blog is explaining to the likes of you. You guys continue to ignore reason and is becoming freaky.

    You continue like every one in the Right to repeat the same things over and over again like if you were brain washed.

    READ MY LIPS FRIEND. Your ideas are based on faith, hope, and down right delusion. Your side has 4+ years saying the same thing and they very well can say the same thing for the next 10 years. The echoes and re-echoes of “we are making progress” , ” we are turning the corner” , “it’s haaaard”, ” We need to help Democracy” , “We have to stay till victory”

    At some point in time words need to be backed with deeds, and we are way past that time.

    For people like you to again come out with the same tired stuff is frankly sad.

    I don’t know in how many ways can people tell you that the Shiite and the Sunni do not want to live together, you’ll still ignore it, and make pretend that they can. It flyes against all logic, and sane thinking.

    Or do you suppose that if a Lefty would go, and kill your family you’ll try to make amends by becoming his neighbor?

    I agree with this blog that we need to stay in Iraq. But if Bush and people like you don’t want to put more troops, more money, a draft, etc. to give the several decades (if ever) that your Iraqi Government will need to make some concessions, then I suggest that you stop acting like you can with 150,000 troops.

    Or to put it in other words…. The rethoric does not match the mission.

  17. 17
    grognard Said:
    2:21 pm 

    OK, I’ll play devils advocate, why would it be a “catastrophe”?. Osama’s dream is for a Sunni Caliphate that takes up a third the world with the capital of Baghdad. If we leave and the slaughter begins the Sunnis will be on the run, from Baghdad and the rest of Iraq. Saudi Arabia has nowhere near the combined Shiite population of Iraq and Iran, so if the war spreads the very holy lands of Mecca and Medina might be threatened with a Shiia takeover. Osama’s dream becomes a nightmare of “heretical“ Shiites controlling all of the Islamic holy sites. For the sake of Sunni Islam AQ must drop the attacks on the West and focus all of it’s efforts against the Shiia in a regional Holy War. The end result is that radical Islam is consumed in the flames, yes millions die but the radicalism that brought on the destruction is forever discredited. By the time it all ends the “transgressions” by Israel or the US will pale to insignificance when compared to the depredations of the Islamic Radicals.

  18. 18
    SlimGuy Said:
    2:59 pm 

    Rick

    At lot of the times I can read you for a different context but on this one I have to call BS.

    We have total evidence Iran is providing EFP IED’s and that has no doubt.

    We also have a lot of data showing Iran was behind the shoulder fired missiles that took down a lot of our choppers a few months ago and now we have new data that they have provided new weapons to take down at least two of our jets taking off from bases in Iraq.

    The surge is kicking butt on the bad guys and Iran is stepping up to the plate putting weapons in play to counter that.

    Those weapons systems don’t grow by themselves in the desert like opium in Afghanistan.

    Reason will prevail if you let it.

  19. 19
    ec1009 Said:
    3:44 pm 

    Will those who supported the Iraq war now admit that that they were not just wrong but catastrophically wrong and war opponents were right all along. We should have listened to the French as we should have when they warned us about Vietnam.

    The neocon war proponents have the blood of hundreds of thousands on their hands. They have been wrong about everything with respect to Iraq and the war on terror. They should be ashamed to voice an opinion about the war and certainly should not be listened to when they do.

    Iraq is a mess and will only get worse no matter what we do. There are no good options. If we go there will be trouble and if we stay it will be double. (maybe the other way around nobody knows for sure)

    The only thing one can be certain of is that the opinions of those who have been wrong every step of the way count for nothing.

  20. 20
    gregdn Said:
    3:46 pm 

    Grognard: Excellent post! These guys fighting each other has no downside for us.

  21. 21
    ec1009 Said:
    3:50 pm 

    Question for grognard,

    If the Bin Laden Sunni’s lose, do the Iranian Shia win?

  22. 22
    Tom Said:
    4:40 pm 

    Reason will prevail if you let it.

    Reason will prevail if the last of the 26%er’s finally wake up and smell the stench coming from YOUR white house. Reason is on the way - it started to happen after the last elections, but we need to finish the job. Losers like you are not patriots - you’re traitors to the Constitution. If you really want a king, go with W when he leaves office and move to Paraguay (where he recently bought a ranch). BTW, the US does not have an extradition treaty with Paraguay - hmmm, maybe that’s why all hat and no cattle bush is going there. kinda makes you proud, huh?

  23. 23
    SlimGuy Said:
    5:33 pm 

    Rick said

    And to my righty friends who insist on believing that victory on the battlefield will translate into an Iraq with a functioning government that represents all the people while creating some kind of viable, multi-sectarian state I would point out that the military doesn’t do faith. Nor do they do trust. Nor do they do hope. And without those three attributes, Iraqi society will remain what it is today – a broken mess teeming with hate and vengeance.

    Agreed you can’t do democracy at the point of a gun, but this is a subject that for over 30 years they haven’t even had a chance at.

    When they had a chance they overwhelmingly voted for it.

    But then they have others trying to cancel out that vote for their own reasons.

    Do I think it is going to occur by September.

    Yes I do, the only question is which year it will be down the road that September appears in.

    This is not a McDonalds drive in quick solution, some need to grasp that and adjust their timeframes.

  24. 24
    gil Said:
    5:54 pm 

    stimguy

    So Iran is having a field day making our troop’s life miserable in Iraq. And guess what? As long as we stay in the Middle East our Army will suffer proxy attacks by Syria, Iran, and just about every country that wants to hit us with impunity, not to mention the thousands of “Jihadist” that will love nothing more than to teach the “Great Satan” a lesson. But according to the Right “We loose if we live” …. Yeah and if we stay you guarantee IED attacks on our troops till the cows come home …. Just great guys!!!! Congratulations your strategy is showing incredible results!!!

    You have our soldiers running around Iraq getting killed and maimed while “policing” a bunch of tugs, terrorists, militias, insurgents, al-Quaida Jihadist, desperados, sadist, rapist and every low life one can think off because “we can’t loose” and “we need to give the Iraqi Government time ” ….. The Iraqi Government delusional people is Al Sadr, is Al Sistani, is Iran proxy politicians….. And the rest are as corrupt as a Mexican Bandido.

    I have news for you people. You have our Army in their fifth year of a Nation building enterprise they were never designed as a force to do.

    If you want to continue with this noncense stop using the 101 Airborne, 82 Airborne brcause we don’t have enough combat troops to patrol streets !!!! This is Idiotic. What’s next Navy Seals, and Delta forces guarding road blocks?

    Is part of the “we most stay to win” Bull that does not make sense. Satay and be targets? Is that what we stay for?

    Or do you actually suggest that your pals on the Right will some day grow the courage they need to call for a draft, and send the amount of troops and resources that is needed to match their rethoric?

    You guys live in Lala land. You just love to bull shit.

    Say the “surge” is working…. Problem is that the Government is at the beach on vacation for August. We bought them time indeed…… Yeah, time for a vacation.

    The good news is that the “surge” is working in some areas.
    The bad news is that is not working in others, and even if would, we will still be unable to get out because the solution is not Military, but political. The Right’s bleeding harth never ending commitment only makes the Iraqi Government like a poor guy on welfare why work if money is in the mail?

    So thank’s for nothing pal.

  25. 25
    gil Said:
    6:52 pm 

    slimguy.

    When the Iraqi people voted they voted for their Sects. That is to say Shiite voted for Shhite, Sunni for Sunni and Kurds for Kurds.

    Look at the record, and don’t get confused.

    You don’t build a Democracy like that.

    The Iraqi Government is composed of a buch of Pro-Iranian Representatives, Insurgent, and Militia Leaders and good old crooks. If you call that a “Democracy” I have a bridge I want to sale you.

    You guys need to please stop and THINK about what you are asking our Military, and the Iraqi people to do. You want our Military to some how continue fighting until some day down the road HOPEFULLY the Iraqi people, in a miracle get an epiphany and start to love each other, after having killed themselves for a thousand years.

    And why do we want that? “Because if we live they win” that’s why!!!!!!

    People you do need to grow up. They don’t call Right Wingers delusional for nothing.

  26. 26
    leo Said:
    7:19 pm 

    “Is it better to have the bloodbath or not?” Rick Moran asks.

    There is a bloodbath already going on, and for some time now, and it is spiralling worse by the year. Maybe a million have already died due to the direct and indirect effects of the war:
    occupation
    resistance
    sectarian civil war
    crime caused by chaos
    general decline of health.

    Will the bloodbath become bloodier after a US withdrawal? - We don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.

    A good withdrawal plan might provide some measures to limit the continuing bloodbath.

    THE BETTER REASON why the USA has to stay in Iraq is correctly put by Rick Moran this way:

    “It is bothersome that liberals like Obama can’t differentiate between a humanitarian mission where American interests (oil, economic, strategic) are not in play and a place like Iraq …

    Bush will have a lot to answer for from history but his monumental failure in articulating what is at stake in Iraq while failing to make his actions match his rhetoric will be perhaps his greatest blunder. No wonder the American people want out. When their president has failed so miserably in giving them logical, coherent reasons to support the mission, why not just give up and go home?”

    Well said, Rick Moran!

    The USA do have strategic interests in the MidEast, and these strategic interests - OIL, mainly - will continue to demand powerful and efficient US presence in the area.

    Sober liberals know this. And accept it. Hillary Clinton does. That is why they opt for the Baker-Hamilton strategy. It would be quite flexible concerning troop numbers and intervention policy in Iraq, to influence the power struggle there, but limit the carnage in terms of blood and money a little.

    I would not expect it to work sufficiently, but it seems to be the best option now. (The Baker-Hamilton plan is of course an admission of defeat, too, and that is Bush’s and Cheney’s reason not to adopt it.)

    As for the critique Rick Moran hurls against GWBush:

    The Bushies could not start the war in outing their true motive(s). Americans want to FEEL GOOD when they go to war: “good” motives, certain victory, splendid display of their army (a good show).

    “Well, people, we want to take over Iraq because of the oil there and to control the oil region … because of strategic interests that have to do with our nation’s demand of cheap oil in the next 20 years at least …”
    - no, giving such a cold reason he would NOT have gotten a majority for going to Iraq.

    But now, of course, the USA need a sufficient reason to stay, and that can only be the true strategic one - but now it is late, maybe too late to confess to the people the UGLY TRUTH:

    that there was not only the WMD deception in the run up to the war,
    but also THE OIL DECEPTION -
    “we have hidden from our national debate the real reason of this war … we have lied all these years about our true motive to wage this war of aggression and occupation and oilgrab. We did it to secure your cheap gas for the future! We lied, but our intentions were GOOD!”

  27. 27
    leo Said:
    7:28 pm 

    “So I was watching the morning news in a state of pre-coffee muziness, and the utter absurdity of our position in Iraq suddenly struck me.

    We are supporting Sunni insurgents
    who oppose the Iraqi government
    which we support,
    which is in turn supported by militias backed by Iran,
    who we oppose.

    The administration is calling this the path to victory.

    Screw the coffee, where did I hide the whiskey?”

    = a wonderful reader’s post on the comment of Washington Post’s Krauthammer, who suggested now to empower the Sunni 20% against AlQaida and, if necessary, also against the Shiite 65% majority …

  28. 28
    gil Said:
    7:48 pm 

    Leo.

    I agree with your views.

    The only difference of opinion is that I believe that the war was not for lower gas prices, but for bigger gas revenues for this Administration’s masters. The oil Conglomerates.

    Poor oil man, they waited all their lives for their golden opportunity to take over the second largest reserves of oil on hearth, they put in their best man Cheney as VP, they lobbied and gave hundreds of millions of Dollars to turn politicians into putty, and soften rough spots. They were one short step away from having it all……. And then they get the “Decider” deciding, and it all goes to hell.

    Iraq’s oil is at the very center of the impasse in the Iraqi Government. The Kurds are the main road block. Why? Because it is in Northern Iraq that exist the largest proven reserves of oil in the country. And Kurdistan also happens to be the friendliest political force to America….. And American oil Companies.

    If Iraq goes Shiite, America will get but a small portion of oil contracts. If on the other hand Iraq can’t get an agreement and the Kurds go their way, America will get the lion’s share of Iraq’s oil.

    America can’t afford the Shiite controling such a big portion of the world’s oil reserves (Irak and Iran). For it is the Shiite and not the Sunni that are our natural enemies in the Middle East. Therefore, one more time I have to wander at Bush the oil man and his sanity.

    Like I said everithing was going fine for the oil man, until Bush came along.

  29. 29
    JML Said:
    11:30 pm 

    Rick asked, “If Iraq was that important, shouldn’t we be doing at least some of these (strategic no-brainers) things?”

    Sometimes I have to wonder if Iraq isn’t turning out exactly as planned. When in doubt, follow the money.

    The Republicans have been telling us for years that we need to privatize virtually every last facet of government because private industry can accomplish things faster and cheaper and that would be a plus for the taxpayer. Be that as it may, it also shifts the focus of the now-privatized services from providing a public service to making a profit. In some instances, profit motive and public service can be polar opposites. If airport security is provided by a private firm, then profits come first. This means that labor costs need to be kept at a minimum. This is done by paying security personnel as little as possible, with the byproduct of ensuring that talented candidates accept jobs elsewhere. Costs are also kept down by providing an absolute minimum of training and providing the cheapest equipment. Security personnel must also take care not to be excessively disruptive of airport operations because passenger inconvenience is bad for business. (If we had real airport security on 9/11, perhaps we would be talking about a crazy plot that was foiled back in 2001 versus the bitter memories that we have today, but I suppose that could be a whole separate discussion…)

    Now, Rick, to answer your question, we might apply the same principles to the Iraq war. Contractors are involved in such tasks as operating mess halls, laundry facilities, security, and logistics. These are things that used to be handled by military personnel. Supposedly, contractors are more efficient and less costly. However, it is in the contractors’ best interests that the war not end because that would be the end of their gravy trains. Remember, their primary purpose, as with any private industry, is to make money. When I consider the cozy ties between Bush and Cheney and contractors like Halliburton, I have to ask whether they indeed did plan for an insurgency; if the idea all along was to maintain a sort of low boil going in Iraq while literally banking on Americans’ patriotic sentiments. The money would flow virtually non-stop from taxpayers into contractors’ coffers.

    I have recently read the suggestion that, at this point, the military is really acting as a sort of cheap security force for the contractors (who are, ostensibly, supporting the military).

    I hate to say it, but at least this scenario makes sense in a very cynical, twisted way. The point is money. Halliburton’s profits are up something like 800% since 2001. This war has been very kind to a select few. Also, bear in mind that Bush has said repeatedly that Iraq will be up to the next (poor bastard) president to resolve.

    Any other scenario can only lead me to believe that this administration is unquestionably and criminally incompetent and stupid.

    (Any ideas as to what Cheney’s Energy Task Force was talking about behind closed doors in the days before 9/11?)

  30. 30
    leo Said:
    7:07 am 

    So we could dub the Iraq III war the “Halliburton War” to differ it from Iraq War I (Iraq vs Iran) and Iraq War II (Kuweit) …

    Excellent post about the money interests involved in Iraq War III, JML!

    I wonder why our Corporate MainstreamMedia never discuss to such obvious things.

    Could it be that they are eager to hide Corporate interests?

    Could it be that US militarism - the idea that international conflicts of interest have to be solved mainly by use of violence or threat of violence - have its main supporter here, among the Corporations?

    And gil,

    you are of course right when you “correct” my “quote” in post 26:
    ” … We did it to secure your cheap gas for the future! We lied, but our intentions were GOOD!”

    Even when these guys are willing to come NEAR the truth they still have to lie.
    Western people in general do not like it to be seen as EGOISTS.
    Weird. Because on the other hand we all openly advocate egoism, when it comes to economy.
    But when we wage war, we of course only do it benevolently, to support the interests of the others, and for ideal (and not material) ends.
    Fascinating hypocrisy in so many of us!

    Rick Moran is a comparatively honest guy, in this respect.

    Let me address MY own egoism with this statement:
    Yes, people, I AM an egoist - but in my own, very personal interest I do what I can to interpret my personal interest in terms of a collective interest. My personal wellbeing requires mankind’s wellbeing. And that does NOT mean that my own wellbeing of means automatically the wellbeing of mankind. It’s more the other way round! (Such reflection requires quite a complex evaluation of interests, and a threefold logics; binary logics fails to meet the complexity here.)

    So, for example, being a liberal I know quite well that for my success as a liberal I NEED the conservatives and their strength, too. Because my personal sanity and soberness comes from balance, and a liberal can only balance himself insofar he is challenged by (real!) conservatives.

    That is a lesson Rick Moran does not want to adopt. Although, in some of his reflections, there is a good trait of it. That is why it makes sense for reasonable liberals and reasonable conservatives to read his blog.

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