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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #700 on: December 18, 2011, 06:49:53 PM »

Christopher Hitchens writing in The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2004:


A few more years of Saddam Hussein, or perhaps the succession of his charming sons Uday and Qusay, and whole swathes of Iraq would have looked like Fallujah. The Baathists, by playing off tribe against tribe, Arab against Kurd and Sunni against Shiite, were preparing the conditions for a Hobbesian state of affairs. Their looting and beggaring of the state and the society—something about which we now possess even more painfully exact information—was having the same effect. A broken and maimed and traumatized Iraq was in our future no matter what.

Obviously, this prospect could never have been faced with equanimity. Iraq is a regional keystone state with vast resources and many common borders. Its implosion would have created a black hole, sucking in rival and neighboring powers, tempting them with opportunist interventions and encouraging them to find ethnic and confessional proxies. And who knows what the death-throes of the regime would have been like? We are entitled, on past experience, to guess. There could have been deliberate conflagrations started in the oilfields. There might have been suicidal lunges into adjacent countries. The place would certainly have become a playground for every kind of nihilist and fundamentalist. The intellectual and professional classes, already gravely attenuated, would have been liquidated entirely.

All of this was, only just, averted. And it would be a Pangloss who said that the dangers have receded even now. But at least the international intervention came before the whole evil script of Saddam's crime family had been allowed to play out. A subsequent international intervention would have been too little and too late, and we would now be holding an inquest into who let this happen—who in other words permitted in Iraq what Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and Kofi Annan permitted in Rwanda, encouraged by the Elysee. . . .

I hope I do not misrepresent my opponents, but their general view seems to be that Iraq was an elective target; a country that would not otherwise have been troubling our sleep. This ahistorical opinion makes it appear that Saddam Hussein was a new enemy, somehow chosen by shady elements within the Bush administration, instead of one of the longest-standing foes with which the United States, and indeed the international community, was faced.

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prentice crawford
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« Reply #701 on: December 18, 2011, 07:14:23 PM »


NYTimes.com
 In Iraq, Abandoning Our Friends By KIRK W. JOHNSON
Published: December 15, 2011 
  U.S. Marks End to 9-Year War, Leaving an Uncertain Iraq (December 16, 2011)
Op-Ed Contributor: An Unstable, Divided Land (December 16, 2011)
Editorial: A Formal End (December 16, 2011)
 
  ON the morning of May 6, 1783, Guy Carleton, the British commander charged with winding down the occupation of America, boarded the Perseverance and sailed up the Hudson River to meet George Washington and discuss the British withdrawal. Washington was furious to learn that Carleton had sent ships to Canada filled with Americans, including freed slaves, who had sided with Britain during the revolution.

Britain knew these loyalists were seen as traitors and had no future in America. A Patriot using the pen name “Brutus” had warned in local papers: “Flee then while it is in your power” or face “the just vengeance of the collected citizens.” And so Britain honored its moral obligation to rescue them by sending hundreds of ships to the harbors of New York, Charleston and Savannah. As the historian Maya Jasanoff has recounted, approximately 30,000 were evacuated from New York to Canada within months.

Two hundred and twenty-eight years later, President Obama is wrapping up our own long and messy war, but we have no Guy Carleton in Iraq. Despite yesterday’s announcement that America’s military mission in Iraq is over, no one is acting to ensure that we protect and resettle those who stood with us.

Earlier this week, Mr. Obama spoke to troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., of the “extraordinary milestone of bringing the war in Iraq to an end.” Forgotten are his words from the campaign trail in 2007, that “interpreters, embassy workers and subcontractors are being targeted for assassination.” He added, “And yet our doors are shut. That is not how we treat our friends.”

Four years later, the Obama administration has admitted only a tiny fraction of our own loyalists, despite having eye scans, fingerprints, polygraphs and letters from soldiers and diplomats vouching for them. Instead we force them to navigate a byzantine process that now takes a year and a half or longer.

The chances for speedy resettlement of our Iraqi allies grew even worse in May after two Iraqi men were arrested in Kentucky and charged with conspiring to send weapons to jihadist groups in Iraq. These men had never worked for Americans, and they managed to enter the United States as a result of poor background checks. Nevertheless, their arrests removed any sense of urgency in the government agencies responsible for protecting our Iraqi allies.

The sorry truth is that we don’t need them anymore now that we’re leaving, and resettling refugees is not a winning campaign issue. For over a year, I have been calling on members of the Obama administration to make sure the final act of this war is not marred by betrayal. They have not listened, instead adopting a policy of wishful thinking, hoping that everything turns out for the best.

Meanwhile, the Iraqis who loyally served us are under threat. The extremist Shiite leader Moktada al-Sadr has declared the Iraqis who helped America “outcasts.” When Britain pulled out of Iraq a few years ago, there was a public execution of 17 such outcasts — their bodies dumped in the streets of Basra as a warning. Just a few weeks ago, an Iraqi interpreter for the United States Army got a knock on his door; an Iraqi policeman told him threateningly that he would soon be beheaded. Another employee, at the American base in Ramadi, is in hiding after receiving a death threat from Mr. Sadr’s militia.

It’s not the first time we’ve abandoned our allies. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford and Henry A. Kissinger ignored the many Vietnamese who aided American troops until the final few weeks of the Vietnam War. By then, it was too late.

Although Mr. Kissinger had once claimed there was an “irreducible list” of 174,000 imperiled Vietnamese allies, the policy in the war’s frantic closing weeks was icily Darwinian: if you were strong enough to clear our embassy walls or squeeze through the gates and force your way onto a Huey, you could come along. The rest were left behind to face assassination or internment camps. The same sorry story occurred in Laos, where America abandoned tens of thousands of Hmong people who had aided them.

It wasn’t until months after the fall of Saigon, and much bloodshed, that America conducted a huge relief effort, airlifting more than 100,000 refugees to safety. Tens of thousands were processed at a military base on Guam, far away from the American mainland. President Bill Clinton used the same base to save the lives of nearly 7,000 Iraqi Kurds in 1996. But if you mention the Guam Option to anyone in Washington today, you either get a blank stare of historical amnesia or hear that “9/11 changed everything.”

And so our policy in the final weeks of this war is as simple as it is shameful: submit your paperwork and wait. If you can survive the next 18 months, maybe we’ll let you in. For the first time in five years, I’m telling Iraqis who write to me for help that they shouldn’t count on America anymore.

Moral timidity and a hapless bureaucracy have wedged our doors tightly shut and the Iraqis who remained loyal to us are weeks away from learning how little America’s word means.

Kirk W. Johnson, a former reconstruction coordinator in Iraq, founded the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on December 16, 2011, on page A43 of the New York edition with the headline: The Iraq We're Leaving Behind: Abandoning Our Friends.
                                                   
                                          P.C.
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JDN
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« Reply #702 on: December 18, 2011, 10:24:53 PM »

"The Iraq war killed almost 4,500 Americans, wounded another 32,000 and cost the country somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 trillion, and counting. No one knows how many Iraqis died in the war — 100,000 is considered a starting estimate."

For what; as someone said here, "to kill Hussein and his sons"? 

Interesting, in the immediate prior post, our revered first President George Washington "was furious to learn that Carleton had sent ships to Canada filled with Americans, including freed slaves, who had sided with Britain during the revolution."  George Washington did not think it was appropriate nor was he concerned.  It was war.  Maybe as the article suggests, we don't have a Guy Carleton, but I trust George Washington's judgment.

As for "trust" and "honor" something pointed out elsewhere on this forum, please remember we invaded Iraq.  They were not out "allies" nor did we have a treaty with them.  Instead, we attacked, invaded, and stayed for over eight years.  We are now so unwelcome that the Iraqi government wouldn't give immunity to our soldiers if we stayed any longer.  It's clear, the people in Iraq want us out.  There is no "trust" issue.  The analogy is inappropriate.

PC has argued that we should use force if necessary, and totally disregard the will of the Iraqi government.  We should increase and "build bases" ignoring the will of the Iraqi's.  That's IMPERIALISM at it's worst.  Or is COLONIALISM worse as PC has suggested here; suggesting that after we have now invade them, that we now demand that they reimburse us the $1 trillion dollars we spent to conquer them.  Wow...
Think about that...   shocked

As side note, but perhaps more important, in addition to Iraq wanting us out, the AMERICAN people want us out.

Isn't that enough?  It's not Obama; it's the majority of the AMERICAN people that are tired of this war.

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prentice crawford
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« Reply #703 on: December 19, 2011, 04:15:57 AM »

  BAGHDAD — Even as Iraqis celebrated the departure of the last American troops Sunday, the dangers left behind after nearly nine years of war were on full display. Politicians feuded along the country's potentially explosive sectarian lines and the drumbeat of deadly violence went on.
The last U.S. convoy rumbled out of Iraq across the border into Kuwait around sunrise under a shroud of secrecy to prevent attacks on the departing troops. When news reached a waking Iraqi public, there was joy at the end of a presence that many Iraqis resented as a foreign occupation.
In the northern city of Mosul, pastry shop owner Muhannad Adnan said he had a swell of orders for cakes — up to 110 from the usual 70 or so a day — as families threw parties at home. Some asked him to ice the cakes with inscriptions of "congratulations for the end of occupation," he said.

But the happiness was shot through with worries over the future.
"Nobody here wants occupation. This withdrawal marks a new stage in Iraq's history," said Karim al-Rubaie, a Shiite shopowner in the southern city of Basra. But, he said, "the politicians who are running this country are just a group of thieves."
"These politicians will lead the country into sedition and civil war. Iraq now is like a weak prey among neighboring beasts."
In the morning, a bomb hidden under a pile of trash exploded on a street of spare car parts stores in a mainly Shiite district of eastern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four others. It was the latest in the near daily shootings and bombings — low-level but still deadly — that continue to bleed the country and that many fear will increase with the Americans gone.

 Violence is far lower than it was at the worst of the Iraq War, in 2006 and 2007, when Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias preyed on Iraqis around the country in a vicious sectarian conflict that nearly turned into complete civil war. But those armed groups still remain, and there are deep concerns whether Iraqi security forces are capable of keeping them in check without the help of U.S. troops.
Iraq's military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Babaker Zebari said Sunday that his troops were up to the task of uprooting militant groups.
"There are only scattered terrorists hiding here and there and we are seeking intelligence information to eliminate them," Zebari said. "We are confident that there will be no danger."
Equally worrying, the resentments and bitterness between the Shiite majority and Sunni minority in this country of 31 million remain unhealed. The fear is that without the hand of American forces, the fragile attempts to get the two sides to work together could collapse and even turn to greater violence.
In an escalation of the rivalry, the main Sunni-backed political bloc on Sunday announced it was boycotting parliament to protest what they called Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's attempts to monopolize government positions — particularly those overseeing the powerful security forces. The bloc has complained of security forces' recent arrests of Sunnis that it says are "unjustified."
The Iraqiya bloc warned that it could take the further step of pulling its seven ministers out of al-Maliki's coalition government.
Story: 'Iraq War Ledger': The conflict by the numbers
"We are against the concentration of security powers in the hands of one person, that is the prime minister," said Sunni lawmaker Hamid al-Mutlaq, a member of the bloc.
Sunnis have long feared domination by the country's Shiites, who vaulted to power after the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein at the hands of the Americans. The rivalry was exacerbated by the years of sectarian killing.
The Iraqiya bloc narrowly won the most seats in last year's parliamentary election. But its leader Ayad Allawi was unable to become prime minister, outmaneuvered by al-Maliki, who kept the premier's post after cobbling together key support from Shiite parties.
That has left al-Maliki beholden to Shiite factions, including those led by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militiamen were blamed for sectarian killings during the worst of Iraq's violence. Since forming his new government, al-Maliki has effectively controlled the Interior and Defense Ministries, which oversee the police and military, while conflicts between Sunni and Shiite politicians have delayed the appointment of permanent ministers.
Many on both sides of the sectarian divide also worry that neighboring Shiite-led powerhouse Iran will now increase its influence in their country. Al-Maliki's party and other Shiite blocs have close ties to Tehran. But even some in the Shiite public resent the idea of Iranian domination.
"I am afraid that this occupation will be replaced by indirect occupation by some neighboring countries," said Ali Rahim, a 40-year-old Shiite who works for the Electricity Ministry.

  Omar Waadalla Younis, a senior at Mosul University, said at first he was happy to hear the last Americans were gone and thought the city government should hold celebrations in the streets. Then he thought of the possible threat from Iran.
"Now that the Americans have left, Iraq is more vulnerable than before."
___
AP correspondent Bushra Juhi in Baghdad contributed to this report.


                                       P.C.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 09:22:06 AM by prentice crawford » Logged

prentice crawford
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« Reply #704 on: December 19, 2011, 05:04:35 AM »

Woof,
 I want to make sure all of what I actually said, stays with JDN's continued chirping, color commentary, and hysterics in his last five post's. He's become obsessed I'm afraid and continues to repeat himself over and over, even after I already answered him, and now that I no longer address him directly, he answers other people's post's and uses that as a way to ascribe things to me that I never said or thought. For some reason he thinks because I'm still posting on this thread, even without mentioning his name in those post's or directing a post to him, that I'm still engaging him personally. I'm not, but I'm also not going to let him distort what I said. So here is what I said and my answer to his original comment. Anything else are his words and thoughts, completely made up in his head, not mine.

Woof,
 
 I said way back when, that we would give them a chance at a free society and in the end we would just walk away from it and leave them to their own designs. I also said that they didn't have a chance in hell of keeping it free after we left. I'm glad Saddam is gone, I'm glad we killed a lot of terrorist fighters there. I feel sorry for the Iraqi people that do want freedom. We should have done it like we did Japan, but there were too many people invested in it's failure back here at home to have had that kind of success. It takes commitment to do things right, unfortunately our News Media and Press are committed to an ideology that breeds failures like this then they will turn their back on the massacre to come and have no shame in saying they are not to blame, much like the million or so slaughtered after we pulled out of Vietnam. It won't come as immediate as Vietnam but in time it will.

 The President was correct in not celebrating this as victory in Iraq, because it is not a victory, it's a retreat from the frontlines of the war on Western civilization by the Islamic Fascist's. We should be building more bases in Iraq, right in Iran's backyard, not shutting them down. Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too. History has shown us that you must win a peace and that you cannot retreat your way to it. Retreats, most often end in massacre's. For you Liberal, so called, peace activist's out there that have facilitated this result, and are celebrating this as being the end of the Iraq war; the war there is just starting, thanks to you.
                                             P.C.


Quote
Woof JDN,
 I don't deny that, and I know those labels, just like being called Hitler or racist can be applied broadly enough to discredit any solution to any problem. Nothing happens in war without some pain but that doesn't mean the pain lasts forever. The reality is, one: Iraq should pay for it's own reconstruction because they can afford it, and it is they that benefit from it not us. I didn't say load up the ships then set fire to what's left or let's make a profit off the deal, but quite frankly we couldn't afford to do this on our own, and two: our enemies are going to grab the oil for themselves after we leave and they are going to set fire to the place. So short term name calling or long term failure. The President has picked failure.
                                                     P.C.
 
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 09:11:15 AM by prentice crawford » Logged

prentice crawford
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« Reply #705 on: December 19, 2011, 08:48:45 AM »

Woof,
 Latest poll taken of what Iraqi citizens think.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/73-iraqis-iran-likely-act-aggressively-when-us-troops-leave
                                          P,C,
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 09:11:46 AM by prentice crawford » Logged

prentice crawford
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« Reply #706 on: December 19, 2011, 09:06:14 AM »

Woof,
 Let the slaughter begin.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/316340

                                     P.C.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 09:13:35 AM by prentice crawford » Logged

JDN
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« Reply #707 on: December 19, 2011, 09:54:43 AM »

Actually, I understand your position, my commentary has been quite accurate.  You haven't answered me, other than to change your position and post that you will not be engaging me, yet you continue to post on the same subject.   huh

Iraq, in essence has kicked us out (we can't nor should we stay unless our soldiers are given immunity).  They don't want us.  If we stayed against their will, we would need to use force if necessary.  Almost everyone in America, even Romney thinks we need to get out, although he suggests leaving a few thousand troops.  But if we stay against their will, that's imperialism.  That's wrong.

Further, NO ONE has suggested, other than you, that Iraqi reimburse us for "every cent we have spent there".  That is colonialism at it's worst.  That's really wrong.

In your original quote, you did not say "Iraq should pay for it's own reconstruction because they can afford it, and it is they that benefit from it not us."  With our dollars, we helped and paid to rebuild Japan and Germany after the war; we sure as heck didn't send them a bill for every cent we spent on our effort to attack and destroy them.

Rather, to quote you, notice you used past tense, you want them to reimburse (spoils of war) us the one trillion dollars we have already spent.  Your words were, "Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too."

Quite clear...    shocked

That said, perhaps should we stay with some troops a little longer.  But then we should do it because the Iraqi people and government invite us to stay - want us to stay.  Why don't they ask us to stay, and if we agree, why don't they say thank you to us for our effort.  Europe was grateful for our help.  I'm tired of losing thousands of American lives, spending billions/trillions of dollars to help and they still hate us.

Let's spend the money and lives fighting for where it is appreciated.  And where it will help America.

As for the slaughter, IF it begins, as GM has pointed out, it has been going on in this region before any of us were born, and will continue after our death.  Sectarian violence is happening throughout the middle east and there is no end in sight.  Slaughter is tragic, but in the last 20 years I bet I can point to over 20 examples of slaughter around the world where over 100,000 people died and we didn't intercede.  Nor should we always intercede.  Let's worry about America first.

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prentice crawford
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« Reply #708 on: December 19, 2011, 10:02:41 AM »

Woof,
 No where to go.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/12/20111215164220357796.html

                               P.C.
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JDN
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« Reply #709 on: December 19, 2011, 10:10:30 AM »

"Bloomberg poll (PDF) asked Americans if they would support pulling all troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The poll found an overwhelming 66 percent would favor this action, while only 30 percent oppose it."

Or is it 75%?

Americans widely support President Obama's recent decision to withdraw nearly all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, with 75% approving.
http://warnewsupdates.blogspot.com/2011/11/mass-majority-of-americans-favor-us.html

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JDN
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« Reply #710 on: December 19, 2011, 10:14:59 AM »

Woof,
 No where to go.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/12/20111215164220357796.html

                               P.C.

"tens of thousands have since applied for immigration visas in the United States."

I can't wait for their arrival.    sad   I'm sure everyone is happy they are coming.   shocked
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DougMacG
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« Reply #711 on: December 19, 2011, 10:27:23 AM »

Sorry PC, but that is what he does:  answer through distortion and ask what has been answered many times previously in the thread.  

""The Iraq war killed almost 4,500 Americans, wounded another 32,000 and cost the country somewhere in the neighborhood of... For what; as someone said here, "to kill Hussein and his sons"? "

There were 24 reasons cited in the bipartisan authorization to use force in Iraq, (none of which said kill Saddam Hussein and his sons). I wonder if that is posted anywhere in this thread.  FYI, Saddam was deposed in 2003 and given a fair trial by the Iraqis after being found, not killed, by the Americans.  Uday And Qusay were both dead in 2003.  Those wouldn't count as triple digit reasons we stayed in 2009, 2010 and 11 1/2 months of 2011.

Negotiating the right to keep a base or two after winning their country back for them - that would require leadership, not having advisers follow the polls while playing hacker level golf back home and telling America at taxpayer expense that Republicans just want dirtier water and dirtier air.

If the mission was truth over trolling, one might ask:

Why did the most anti-war of all 2008 candidates stay 3 more years under his watch - 8 years past the deposing of the aforementioned oppressors?  Perhaps there was some other concern or objective.

The most anti of the anti-war in the land saw a national security interest value in what we were doing - and stayed up until the kickoff of his reelection.  Our own naysayer pretends there was none.  Not very helpful or convincing.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #712 on: December 19, 2011, 10:31:12 AM »

I would add some frustration on my part that JDN has yet to address my repeated point about WHY the Iraqis did not come to terms with the US.

As for the rightness of standing by those who stood with us regardless of popularity of the issue, well, either one gets it or one does not.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #713 on: December 19, 2011, 10:41:06 AM »

Woof,

 URGENT: Southern Iraq’s Basra Province’s petrodollar revenues exceed one trillion and 131 billion Iraqi dinars

BASRA / IraqiNews.com: The Petrodollar revenues of southern Iraq ’s Basra Province for the year 2011 has reached one trillion (t) and 131 billion (b) Iraqi dinars (US$1.009 billions (b) approx.), according to a Basra Province Council’s source on Thursday.

                                            P.C.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #714 on: December 19, 2011, 10:46:19 AM »

ABOUT IRAQI NEWS
WRITE FOR IRAQI NEWS
CONTACT US
ADVERTISE
Demo in north Iraq’s Tal-Afar city demanding resignation of commanders

NINEWA / IraqiNews.com: Hundreds of citizen took to the streets of Tal-Afar city of northern Iraq’s Ninewa Province on Sunday, demanding the resignation of the Commanders of Army and Police in the city, due to the deterioration of the security conditions in their city, a Ninewa security source reported. “Hundreds of citizens have launched a demonstration on Sunday morning close to the Mayoralty building of Tal-Afar city, 60 km to the west of Mosul, chanting slogans demanding the resignation of the Commander of the Iraqi Army’s 10th Brigade and the Director of Tal-Afar Police, due to the deterioration of the security situation in the city,” the Security source told IraqiNews.com news agency. Tal-Afar city had witnessed last week 2 booby-trapped car explosions in al-Kifah district in the city, killing 3 persons and wounding 32 others, all civilians, whilst the city had witnessed another incident of killing 2 Iraqi soldiers by armed men on a checkpoint in al-Bawary district of the city. Mosul, the center of Ninewa Province, is 405 km to the north of Baghdad.

                                                          P.C.
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JDN
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« Reply #715 on: December 19, 2011, 10:56:09 AM »

I would add some frustration on my part that JDN has yet to address my repeated point about WHY the Iraqis did not come to terms with the US.


I don't know why the Iraqis did not come to terms with the US.  They didn't or wouldn't.

But my point is that it would seem to be in Iraq's favor to have us stay.  Frankly, why do we have to negotiate and plead and "come to terms" when they are the one's mostly benefiting?  We've lost
thousands of lives and spent probably a trillion dollars...

In exchange, if Iraq offered a little accommodation, showed a little gratefulness, it would go a long way.  Instead, many Iraqis hate us.  Americans have figured out we are not wanted in the middle east so we are getting out.  It's that simple.




Woof,

 URGENT: Southern Iraq’s Basra Province’s petrodollar revenues exceed one trillion and 131 billion Iraqi dinars

                                            P.C.

So?  Are we suppose to bill Iraq for "every cent" we have spent?  Take it out of their oil revenue?

By the way, you do know that one million dinars is worth less than $860.00 American don't you?   shocked shocked shocked

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #716 on: December 19, 2011, 11:15:07 AM »

"I don't know why the Iraqis did not come to terms with the US.  They didn't or wouldn't."

Please feel free to read what I posted twice and respond.
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JDN
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« Reply #717 on: December 19, 2011, 11:44:11 AM »

I reread the last few months; it's always good to review; that's one of the advantages of the board.

"I don't know why the Iraqis did not come to terms with the US.  They didn't or wouldn't."

Please feel free to read what I posted twice and respond.


I went back to an 8/2 post of yours where Adm. Mullin emphasized the importance of immunity.

I assume you are referencing Obama's "intent to leave".  Well, after 8 years and an overwhelming American desire for us to leave, that's not all bad in my opinion or most Americans.

Or, your comment,

"The government of Iraq has no one in stupid enough to speak up for wanting America to stay when it is clear we have a President who was against the War, against the Surge, could not admit that the Surge worked, and who generally has made it clear that the US is leaving."

I understand your point, but I go back to mine and one CCP has made indirectly in the past.  On multiple levels, the Iraqis are the one's who benefit the most by us staying.  The people of America are against the war, and yes, so is our President.  Therefore, to persuade us to stay, given that the Iraqis benefit more than us, shouldn't the Iraqis be the ones who beg/plead at least ask politely for us to stay versus throwing rocks at us and refusing to give us immunity?  I'm not asking to be reimbursed like some are, but we shouldn't have to ask or even negotiate the issue of immunity and other small issues; Iraq should offer just about anything reasonable to get us to stay.  But they don't.  They want us gone.  I get the message and so do most Americans.

Time to move on. 
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DougMacG
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« Reply #718 on: December 19, 2011, 11:49:24 AM »

One poster quotes another regarding a likely bloodbath, but there is a difference.  One has expressed concern and opposition to that while another demeans all people associated with this board by making statements alleging that Americans don't care about bloodbaths in other countries.

Polls of Iraqis run by majority Shia rule perhaps should be separated into opinions from the minority groups about a complete American exit.  What do the Kurds think?  (I wonder what the Copts in Egypt think about rule by poll taking.)  When convenient, all of the sudden we hear the Iraqis speak with one voice.  Two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch passes for consent of the governed in an election year.

Polls of Americans about Iraq and Afghanistan are lumped together along with the question of all troops leaving versus most troops leaving posted, but these are crucial difference when talking about the possibility of maintaining bases for future security threats.  Meanwhile the < 0.1% of Americans polled at random have no idea what our commanders on the ground are saying.

Poll questions have a large effect on results.  Poll this: 'Given the estimates that as many as a million innocent people were slaughtered in the immediate aftermath of the US pullout in Vietnam and that a similar scenario is possible in Iraq, do you favor or oppose all US leaving now with no regard to the consequences, versus the other proposals such as negotiating the right to maintain a smaller presence (base) over the horizon to prevent the genocide of Iraqis and to deal with future security threats that are certain to develop?'

Did the President discuss his final decision more with Axelrod or Petraeus?  I will bet he relied on the same focus group advisers he called when he sat 16 hours on his difficult bin Laden question.

"Time to move on. "

We will miss you.
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JDN
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« Reply #719 on: December 19, 2011, 12:03:22 PM »

I'm against all bloodbaths; but we as a country simply can't nor do we intercede in all blood baths.  But you seem supportive of the Iraqis so
for those "tens of thousands have since applied for immigration visas in the United States." let's send them to MN.  I doubt if GM wants them in
his back yard. And CA already has enough problems.

Interesting, Vietnam is now peaceful; it's a reasonably close ally of ours.  I wonder if Iraq will ever truly be peaceful or our ally. 

As for "Time to move on"...
Yep, it's time for America to move on and get out of Iraq.   smiley
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #720 on: December 19, 2011, 12:33:35 PM »

MARC: "The government of Iraq has no one in stupid enough to speak up for wanting America to stay when it is clear we have a President who was against the War, against the Surge, could not admit that the Surge worked, and who generally has made it clear that the US is leaving."

JDN: I understand your point, but I go back to mine and one CCP has made indirectly in the past.  On multiple levels, the Iraqis are the one's who benefit the most by us staying.  The people of America are against the war, and yes, so is our President.  Therefore, to persuade us to stay, given that the Iraqis benefit more than us, shouldn't the Iraqis be the ones who beg/plead at least ask politely for us to stay versus throwing rocks at us and refusing to give us immunity?

I'm sorry, but I just don't feel this really addresses my point.   Would you want to bet your life and the life of your family on being able to persuade Baraq to stay?   Really?  Agree or disagree, I think this analysi worthy of acknowledgement in what you post and that I should not have to be so persistent to have it addressed.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #721 on: December 19, 2011, 12:52:51 PM »

"you seem supportive of..."  "I doubt if GM..."  "let's send them to MN."

Let's split up the work here.  I'll post my view.  You post yours.

St. Paul is the number one destination for Hmongs.  Minneapolis is number one for Somalis.  The Twin Cities has the lowest unemployment of any metro over a million in the country. I wasn't aware this thread was for immigration policy.  Just digressions.  No comment on points of substance and no adherence to the agreement to move on.

Interestingly, this would have been a VERY short war if not for the moderate insistence that if we break what was already broken, then we have to fix it even if they keep blowing us up while we attempt to do that.  How about if we had taken down the regime and left them with some suggestions for protecting individual liberties and peaceful nation building.  Then came back and toppled them again (and again) when any one of the 24 points of American security interests in the Iraq War declaration became true again.
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G M
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« Reply #722 on: December 19, 2011, 12:54:54 PM »

I doubt if GM wants them in his back yard.

The Iraqis that honorably served along side our troops, put their lives and the lives of their families on the line. It would be wrong to leave them to the fate the dems left our Vietnamese allies to suffer.
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JDN
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« Reply #723 on: December 19, 2011, 12:57:12 PM »


I'm sorry, but I just don't feel this really addresses my point.   Would you want to bet your life and the life of your family on being able to persuade Baraq to stay?   Really?  Agree or disagree, I think this analysi worthy of acknowledgement in what you post and that I should not have to be so persistent to have it addressed.

I'm trying to address your point.  No, I wouldn't bet my life that I could persuade Obama OR the overwhelming majority of the American public who want us to leave.

However, if I was an Iraqi, and if my life and my family's life depended upon it as your question stated, I sure as heck would try, beg, plead, do/offer almost anything to persuade America to stay. 
Instead, many Iraqis openly hate us, they act arrogant, they throw rocks at us, they refuse to give immunity to our soldiers, they are still demanding lots more money from us, etc.

Something is very wrong with this scenario. 

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JDN
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« Reply #724 on: December 19, 2011, 01:09:17 PM »

Doug, PC in his post brought up the immigration issue.

I'm not denigrating MN, but I think CA has done it's share.

"Minnesota is home to an estimated 60,000-70,000 Hmong, making it the 2nd state with the largest Hmong population, closely behind only California at about 80,000 – 90,000."

Also, much more dramatic, nearly a half million Vietnamese live in CA!!!

And while I don't doubt that GM would accept those Iraqi's that honorably served our cause, I still think he might be a bit reluctant to accept "10's of thousands" Iraqi Muslims in his back yard;
leaving it up to our government to choose who is worthy and who is not.
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G M
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« Reply #725 on: December 19, 2011, 01:15:35 PM »

The key thing with legal immigrants is to scatter them across the country to rapidly intigrate them into the culture and language, with the clear understanding that to come to America means becoming an American.
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JDN
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« Reply #726 on: December 19, 2011, 01:18:52 PM »

I agree.  It just doesn't seem to work that way.
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G M
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« Reply #727 on: December 19, 2011, 01:24:34 PM »

I agree.  It just doesn't seem to work that way.

Because of mealy-mouth "multiculturalism" garbage. I'm reminded of a friend of mine who's ancestors were Italian immigrants. They changed their name from Casio to Cash, refused to teach their kids Italian and explained to them "We came to America to be Americans".
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JDN
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« Reply #728 on: December 19, 2011, 01:35:16 PM »

My grandfather is from Norway.  My father doesn't speak a word of Norwegian.  I asked him why, and he said that my Grandfather said, "We're American's now, the boy should speak English!".

I don't completely agree, there is nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage or learning the language, but it definitely should take 2nd to being proud to be American and learning English. 
That's got to be first, or just go home.
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JDN
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« Reply #729 on: December 19, 2011, 03:19:11 PM »

This pretty much sums it all up.
___________

Why after all these years can't our government bring itself to tell us the truth about Iraq?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

I don't know about you, but I'm a little tired of being treated like a mushroom by my government. You know... kept in the dark and fed fertilizer.

President Obama is hailing the end of the Iraq war as though the enemy had signed the terms of surrender on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri. What hogwash.

This is the same war Obama referred to as dumb nine years ago, but now it's "Hail to the Chief," marching bands and rah-rah-rah. Look what we did.

What we did was invade a country that had done nothing to us, killed hundreds of thousands of their people as well as thousands of our own, bankrupted the Treasury in the process - all in the search for weapons of mass destruction that a cynic might suggest we knew didn't exist in the first place.

The Iraqi government told us a few months ago to get the hell out of their country. That's why we're leaving. We're being kicked out. Nothing noble about that.

Before we were told to take a hike though, we built the largest embassy in the world along with more than 500 military bases at the height of the war. All at taxpayers' expense.

We had every intention of occupying. We had no intention of going anywhere. See there's all that oil over there.

As it is, we will leave behind some 17,000 people at that embassy compound. Yes, some will be members of the diplomatic corps, but there will also be contractors and intel folks who can keep an eye on things. Just in case those weapons of mass destruction turn up. Or Iran tries to fill the power vacuum, which it will.

What garbage. And the government has the gall to paint this as some sort of military triumph.
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G M
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« Reply #730 on: December 19, 2011, 03:32:29 PM »

Jack Cafferty is to intelligent geopolitical analysis what Jack Cafferty is to safe and sober driving.
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G M
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« Reply #731 on: December 19, 2011, 03:35:09 PM »

http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2011/12/casing-colors.html

Casing the Colors

For the U.S. military, the war in Iraq formally ended today, with a ceremony in Baghdad. From The Wall Street Journal:


After nearly nine years of war, tens of thousands of casualties--including 4,500 Americans dead--and more than $800 billion spent, the U.S. military on Thursday formally ended its mission in Iraq and prepared to leave the country.
.
For years, U.S. commanders in Iraq have handed off to their successors the top call sign, Lion 6, along with the American battle flag adorned with a Mesopotamian sphinx. But on Thursday, in a tradition-drenched ceremony with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta looking on, the current Lion 6—Army Gen. Lloyd Austin—pulled down the colors and cased them for a return to the U.S.


"No words, no ceremony, can provide full tribute to the sacrifices that brought this day to pass," Mr. Panetta said.


In the coming days, the last of the 4,000 U.S. military personnel still in Iraq will follow the flag and head home—leaving fewer than 200 to serve as part of the diplomatic mission.


There was, of course, a certain irony in today's events. As with most modern wars, there was no surrender ceremony, and there won't be any ticker-tape parades through New York City for our returning heroes. And no one used the word "victory" to describe the outcome of our nine-year stay in Iraq.


Sadly, that is also a reflection of our times. After almost a decade (and thousands of war dead), no one appears willing to call Iraq a victory, given that country's uncertain future. Iran is already moving to fill the power vacuum created by the departure of our troops, and it's easy to envision an Iraq that (at some point) will be closely aligned with Tehran.


And, perhaps future historians will note that we had the opportunity to extend our stay in Iraq, providing more training for the domestic forces now charged with keeping the peace. But we took a pass on that option, in the name of election-year politics. As a politician who long opposed the war in Iraq, President Obama will be happy to run for re-election as the man "who brought the troops home."


But before the colors fade, and Iraq becomes a chapter in our history books (or a sound bite for a campaign commercial), it is well worth remembering the sacrifice, heroism and valor of the men and women who served there. All were volunteers, and many pulled multiple tours in Iraq, enduring months and years of separation from family, friends and loved ones.


They deserve credit for not only performing their duty, but transforming Iraq in the process. After the toppling of Saddam's government, Iraq began a slide into chaos, as old sectarian divides resurfaced, with scores to be settled. Al Qaida joined the fray as well, pouring thousands of jihadis into the battle, hoping to inflict massive casualties on the U.S. and drive us from Iraq.


But those efforts failed. A U.S. military designed for large-scale maneuver warfare shifted its focus to small-unit, counter-insurgency operations. aimed at eliminating terrorist networks and protecting the Iraqi people. And, at a critical juncture in the battle, President Bush went against the counsel of so-called "wise men" (and women) in Washington, adopting a surge strategy that sent even more troops to Iraq. Our new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, put more ground forces out in the field, based among the Iraqi citizens they were charged with defending.


There were months of bitter fighting in 2007 and American casualties actually rose, and the pace of our operations increased. But the surge worked, breaking the back of enemy resistance. Iraq became a much more peaceful place as thousands of terrorists met their end, eventually prompting Al Qaida to look at more promising operational theaters--namely Afghanistan.


The efforts of U.S. and Iraqi troops, along with the coalition partners also allowed Iraq to form a fledgling democracy. Iraqis defied terrorist threats and violence to go the polls for free and fair elections, dipping their fingers in purple ink wells that signified they had voted. It was a powerful rebuke to the terrorists and one of the earliest indicators that Iraqis were willing to do their part--if the U.S. stayed the course.


While some Iraqis are cheering the departure of our last troops, others are worried about what comes next. The U.S. spent billions of dollars training and equipping Iraq's security forces, and many of them are extremely competent. But they will face a real test in the months and years ahead, as Iran tries to exert its influence, and sectarian groups push their own agendas.


In the end, it might be written, the U.S. gave Iraq a fighting chance for a democratic future. It is now up to the sons and daughters of that country to preserve what was established in blood and treasure. In today's world, it may be the best outcome we could hope for. But on the other hand, we should also hope that historians and war college students in 2020 aren't debating about "who lost Iraq," due to a hasty pull-out.
*****
ADDENDUM: If you know someone who served in Iraq, thank them for their service. They helped introduce a genuine "Arab Spring," creating security conditions that helped foster the most democratic regime in that part of the world (with the exception of Israel). Compare that to the more recent Arab uprisings that are ushering in new authoritarian regimes. The contrast between Iraq and what is happening in Egypt could not be more clear. We can only hope that Iraq's democracy survives the tough road ahead, so the sacrifice of thousands of young Americans will not have been in vain.
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JDN
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« Reply #732 on: December 19, 2011, 03:47:39 PM »

Jack Cafferty is to intelligent geopolitical analysis what Jack Cafferty is to safe and sober driving.

I don't care about Jack Cafferty one way or another, but while you may not want to hear them, he made some good points.  But, your article also made some good points.
I'm just glad we're done. Now I, and also I believe most Americans, look forward to getting out of Afghanistan.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #733 on: December 19, 2011, 08:09:25 PM »

Woof,
 This just now coming across the wires: Iraq News: A Video of Saddam Hussein has been found showing the former dictator personally spaying Kurd's with WMD. In a related story the Left would rather he still be in control in Iraq.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=KkOtGP1qWgE

                                         P.C.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #734 on: December 19, 2011, 08:17:31 PM »

Woof,
 On a more serious note.

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's Human Rights Ministry has decided to create a center tasked with identifying the thousands of unidentified bodies found in Saddam Hussein-era mass graves in Iraq, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Human Rights Ministry spokesman Kamil Amin told RFI on September 20 that the unresolved situation has pushed the ministry to establish the special center, which will work with other ministries and health institutions to identify the remains from mass graves.

"This is a huge and very ambitious project that will need governmental and political support," Amin said. "We also asked many other countries with similar experiences for help, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina," he added.

The Hussein regime used to arbitrarily arrest, torture, and often kill and bury anyone suspected of being an opponent of the government.

Eyewitnesses in recent years have said that some people were even buried alive, especially during the 1991 revolt that took place after the Iraqi army was forced out of Kuwait.

More Than 100,000 Bodies

Some estimates put the number of bodies found in mass graves since the fall of Hussein's regime in 2003 at more than 100,000. A number of experts think there are many more thousands still to be uncovered.

Salah Muhammad, 25, is married and has three children. He told RFI that he has wondered where his father is since 1991, when he was taken away from his family.

Muhammad said he has been told by Iraqi officials that his father was executed and buried in one of the Hussein-era mass graves that are systematically uncovered several times a year.

Muhammad said he remembers the day when security agents entered their house by force and took away his father, who was a teacher, accusing him of being a member of the banned Al-Dawah party.

"I was still a child at that time," he told RFI, "but to this day, I am unable to forget this scene of those men dragging my father away, forcing him into a car. This was the last time I saw him," he said with tears in his eyes.

Muhammad said he searches everywhere for his father, including in every new mass grave that is discovered. But he said this is a very difficult and frustrating task.

"All the remains and bodies are lacking any ID proving who they are," he said. "How can they expect anyone to identify the missing loved ones [we are] looking for?"

Muhammad's story is one of many thousands of similar stories of Iraqis still seeking the bodies of missing relatives.

                                                                    P.C.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #735 on: December 19, 2011, 08:34:56 PM »

Woof,
The Iraqi holocaust very well documented.



http://iraqshoahfiles.blogspot.com
                 
                                     P.C.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #736 on: December 20, 2011, 04:01:24 AM »

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Stay Connected
Iraqi News IRAQINEWS.COM

Iran is a friendly country, we need it, Barzani

ARBIL / IraqiNews.com: Kurdish region President Masoud Barzani described Iran as “a friendly country”, stressing the need for it, according Iranian Mehr Newe Agency. The agency added that leader of the Iranian revolution Ali Khamanei received today President Barzani. Barzani stated that “we will not forget the assistance of the Iranian people and government during the hard times passed by Iraq”. “To preserve our victory, we need Iranian assistance and guidance in this sphere”, Barzani added. Khamanei declared that “Iran will support a unified Iraq with full stability”, stressing “Iraq should be rebuilt in order to have its rightful status”. He described the peaceful coexistence among ethnic groups is “a precious opportunity” describing the present situation in Iraq “relieves Iranian republic”. He added that all Iraqi ethnic groups are ” close brothers to Iran with deep rooted relations with the Iranian people”, stressing that “bilateral relations are good and should be developed day by day”. RM 71

         Baghdad wants unilateral control of power, Masoud Barzani

ARBIL / IraqiNews.com:  Kurdish President Masoud Barzani stated today that the behavior of the Iraqi government is to have “unilateral” control, pointing out that the Regional Government aims at solving all problems withBAGHDAD .   In a conference for Kurdistan representatives abroad, held in Arbil, he declared that a delegation, headed by Premier Barham Saleh, will be sent toBAGHDAD  to discuss matters pending betweenBAGHDAD  and Arbil.   “The attitude inBAGHDAD  is to have unilateral control of power”, he added.   Barzani referred to anti-Iran PJAK and anti-Turkey PKK parties as “not taking into consideration the interests of  Kurdistan “, calling both parties “to discharge ideas gaining their rights by military means”.   “We are planning to end this war, if we succeeded then we rendered a great service to the people of Kurdistan, Iran and Turkey, otherwise, we will not be part of it”, he confirmed.   The Iranian bombardment continued for the last two months, while the Turkish shelling prevailed for its third week which led to civilian killings and material damages in homes and lands.   Local Kurdish sources said that the Turkish jet fighters are continuing bombing Iraqi villages along the borders in Qandeel mountains in Kurdistan  region.   Areas in Arbil and Duhuk are having massive Turkish aerial bombardments against possible PKK sites inside  Kurdistan , where reports said that 30 Turkish soldiers were killed.   The Turkish government announced that it will continue its attack till terminating PKK members and stop their attacks inside  Turkey . 665


                      Malikis’ government is a dictatorship – MP

BAGHDAD / IraqiNews.com: An al-Iraqiya MP described the present Iraqi government as being similar to a dictatorship, warning against the wrath of the Iraqi public for unilateral governmental decisions.   MP Khalid Abdullah al-Alwani told IraqiNews.com that “the present government , headed by Premier Nouri al-Maliki, is similar to a dictatorship, with one ruler and one party, without real partnership, just in name”.   “There are no consultations in government affairs and non-implementation of Arbil agreement”, he added.   Alwani warned against public wrath for unilateral control of government decisions.   Kurdistan president Masoud Barzani criticized Tuesday the work of the Iraqi government as “unilateral” and pointed out that the Regional Government aims at solving all problems with Baghdad. RM (TS)/SR 375


          Thoughts to withdraw from government to weaken Maliki – MP

BAGHDAD / IraqiNews.com: Al-Iraqiya bloc MP called today to think of political alternatives to amend the situation in the country which is moving to unilateral rule and party, pointing one of these alternatives is to withdraw from the government to weaken the status of Premier Nouri al-Maliki, according to a statement of his office. In a statement, as received by IraqiNews.com, MP Ahmed al-Alwani warned against the rule of one person and one party, which facilitates the return of the dictatorship, “which matter we cannot accept,” as he said. He criticized the State of Law bloc for not abiding with the agreements reached to. Alwani said that he demanded the withdrawal from the present government “in order no to be partners in future destruction of the country”. Al-Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Alawi announced last Thursday his rejection to preside of the Higher Strategic Policies Council due to “the absence of national partnership and unilateral rule.” Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani made an initiative in September 2011 to solve the current government crisis after a delay lasted for nine months, which led to the formation of a partnership government. RM (TI)/SR Number of Reads:351

                                                   P.C.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #737 on: December 20, 2011, 07:22:56 AM »

The Iraq War: Recollections
December 20, 2011

 

By George Friedman
The war in Iraq is officially over. Whether it is actually over remains to be seen. All that we know is that U.S. forces have been withdrawn. There is much to be said about the future of Iraq, but it is hard to think of anything that has been left unsaid about the past years of war in Iraq, and true perspective requires the passage of time. It seemed appropriate, therefore, to hear from those at STRATFOR who fought in the war and survived. STRATFOR is graced with seven veterans of the war and one Iraqi who lived through it. It is interesting to me that all of our Iraq veterans were enlisted personnel. I don’t know what that means, but it pleases me for some reason. Their short recollections are what STRATFOR has to contribute to the end of the war. It is, I think, far more valuable than anything I could possibly say.
Staff Sgt. Kendra Vessels, U.S. Air Force
Iraq 2003, 2005
STRATFOR Vice President of International Projects
Six words capture my experience during the invasion of Iraq: Russian linguist turned security forces “augmentee.” I initially volunteered for a 45-day tour of the theater — one of those unique opportunities for those in the intelligence field who don’t see much beyond their building with no windows. My field trip of the “operational Air Force” turned into a seven-month stint far beyond my original job description. But in the end I wouldn’t trade anything for that experience.
I will always remember March 19, 2003 — not only because it was my 22nd birthday but also because it was the day that brought an end to the hurry-up-and-wait that I had experienced for the four months since I’d arrived in Kuwait. During that time it was a slow transition from the world I knew so well, which was confined to a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) and computer screens to practically living in mission oriented protective posture (MOPP) 4 gear, working with a joint-service security team and carrying a weapon. The day I was pulled from my normal duties to take a two-hour refresher on how to use an M-16 was a wake-up call. I had shot an M-16 once before, in basic training. Carrying a weapon every day from then on was new to me. While my Army and Marine counterparts knew their weapons intimately, I was still at that awkward first-date stage.
This anecdote represented a broader issue. As much as we might have known ahead of time that we would eventually invade Iraq, I don’t think we ever could have really been prepared. There were definitely creative solutions, like issuing an Air Force intelligence Barbie an assault rifle.
The invasion of Iraq that I describe is narrowly focused, but that’s what I knew at the time. As far as seeing a bigger picture, I was subject to the opinions on CNN and Fox just as everyone was back home. The only morsel that stands out is a “need to know” briefing we had on weapons of mass destruction a month before things kicked off. Slide after slide of imagery “proved” we needed to go into Iraq. Those giving the presentation seemed unconvinced, but at our level, we didn’t question those presentations. We always assumed someone much higher up knew much more than we would ever have access to. So we drove on, kept our mouths shut and did our jobs as we were told.
As an airman, the most memorable part of the experience for me was the shock and awe of the initial bombing attack. All the days before and after are blurred in my memory — either because they all seemed the same or because I’ve buried them somewhere. There were so many mixed emotions — pride in the U.S. Air Force as we watched the initial attack live on the news, fear of what would follow and sadness in saying goodbye to my friends who would leave to cross into Iraq in the following days. Among those friends were our British counterparts who did not feel they had a stake in the fight but were there because they took pride in their jobs and wanted to do well.
Indeed, I always took notice of the many nationalities that were there to fight beside us. They were less than enthusiastic about being in Iraq and, of course, blamed the Americans for causing them to be there. This is when I first began to feel the “uncoolness” of being American overseas because of the war. I did not foresee how bad it would get and would eventually experience outright hostility in Asia, Europe and other countries in the Middle East.
Two years later, I was “deployed in-garrison.” This concept captures not only what I love about the Air Force but also why my friends in every other service always had ample material for teasing me. If we can’t take all the luxuries of home to the war (and believe me, we tried: surf and turf and endless ice cream in the chow halls, televisions in every living space and air-conditioning or heating as needed), we will bring the war to us. It seemed like a great idea at the time. I spent a year driving less than 10 miles from my duty station in the United States to carry out a mission in Iraq through radio, chat and live feed on television screens. We experienced the same crew day, tempo and real-world mission requirements but worked in over-air-conditioned vans parked inside giant hangars.
Anyone who has ever done this can relate to how bizarre it is to work inside one of these vans in full winter gear during the peak of summer. But in comparison to my first experience on the ground in Iraq, I felt I contributed far more the second time around. Our unit was able to see results daily and know that we were directly contributing to units in contact with the enemy. I could finally begin to see the forest for the trees, but by that time, I could also see that the situation on the ground was far worse than before.
My take-away from the latter experience was the perception that the rest of the United States was detached from what was happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would spend 12 hours engaged with the reality on the ground, full of adrenaline and exhausted by the end of the day, only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. But between the missions at work I would interact with those not directly involved, and it was endlessly frustrating. My civilian friends were more concerned about what happened on “Lost” the night before or where they were planning to vacation during the upcoming holiday. This sentiment continues even today, as those of us who were directly impacted by the war reflect on how it changed our lives while others hardly notice that the war is coming to an end. I gently remind them that this is, in many ways, a victory for us all.
Basima
Iraq 2003
STRATFOR Middle East and Arabic Monitor
In 2003, when the news in Iraq began to report that U.S. President George W. Bush would invade Iraq, Iraqis began to wonder if this would really happen — and if it would be the solution to and the end of the tyrant era in Iraq. I was sitting with my father, an old man addicted to listening to the radio instead of watching the two boring Iraqi television channels that mostly broadcast Saddam’s interviews, speeches and songs about him. I asked my father, “Dad, do you think the Americans will really come to save us and our country from this tyrant?” He said, “Yes they will, and there will be no other way to get rid of this tyrant but by a strong power like America.” As all other Iraqis, I kept watching television and listening to the radio to follow the news.
My husband, my kids and I were all staying at my parents’ house, along with my other two sisters and their families. We bought much food and stored water in a big container. We contacted our relatives and they contacted us, everyone wanting to make sure that the others were ready for the war and for the moment of salvation. If you draw an image of the Iraqi streets at that time, you will see very close and trusted friends secretly sharing their happiness about the idea that the Americans will come and topple the brutal regime. No one was afraid of the war because we are a people used to being in a war, and we were suffering enough from the blockade.
When the war began, I would say most Iraqis, if I cannot say all, were happy to see the end of the madman Saddam. When the statue of Saddam was pulled down in Firdos Square, my family and I were so happy our eyes were full of tears. They were not tears of sadness but of happiness. It was unbelievable. It was the moment of freedom.
After that, when the people began to get out of their houses, they could see all the military trucks and soldiers. And the people waved their hands and nodded or made signs with their hands to show the Americans that they were happy and thankful. For the first time in their lives, Iraqis practiced the freedom to speak in the streets freely and loudly without being afraid of Saddam’s loyalists.
Sgt. “Primo,” U.S. Marine Corps Task Force Tarawa
Iraq 2003
STRATFOR Tactical Analyst
As the C-130 ramp dropped at Kuwait International Airport in March 2003, I was hit in the face with a wave of heat and sand. I remember thinking to myself that this was going to suck, a lot. But at the same time there was a sense of relief at the finality and completion of mobilization orders and deployment, and despite the disruption of our civilian lives we knew that this was it, and it was all we had to concentrate on.
An infantry unit in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, we were a motley mix of professions and lifestyles — mechanics, school teachers, policemen, college students (roughly half of us), boilermakers, bankers, bartenders, small-business owners and kids straight out of high school. And we respected our leaders. Our commanding officer was a successful corporate executive, our company first sergeant and company gunnery sergeant had living-legend status in their respective law enforcement agencies, and all of our staff non-commissioned officers — most of whom were veterans of the first Gulf War and/or employed in law enforcement in their civilian lives — had served active-duty tours in their younger days, as did the NCOs that just got out of the Fleet and volunteered to deploy with us.
My squad (in which I had been unceremoniously promoted, as a lance corporal, to fire team leader) was pulling security for the command tent in the staging area in northern Kuwait when all members of the company staff gathered for a meeting with the battalion staff. The purpose of the meeting was for the battalion gunny to list all the ammunition that we would be allotted, and it did not include 5.56mm link or 7.62mm link and only a shockingly small amount of non-linked 5.56mm. We knew we were leaving soon, and we exchanged bug-eyed glances when we overheard the gunny listing the allotment. Fire suppression capability had been a central tenet of our training, and it would not be possible with the ammo we were getting. And there was only about one grenade per squad. If we hit action, our survival could depend on the pitiful first-aid kits we had been issued. Then “Doc” Chris showed up with a ton of “acquired” gauze, medical tape, iodine and morphine from battalion headquarters, which earned him a godlike status despite his many personal shortcomings.
When we received the warning order in our platoon hooch later in the evening we were told we were going to Nasiriya, where a battle was still raging. In the morning, we threw on our over-loaded packs and said our goodbyes. With the sound of helicopters in the air, the company gunny rolled up in a Humvee overflowing with 5.56mm link, 7.62mm link, more grenades and much-needed bandoleers. Every rifleman had the equivalent of about 12 magazines and the squad automatic weapon (SAW) gunners had about four or five 5.56mm link boxes.
Fortunately, the landing zone (LZ) we were flown into in Nasriya was not hot. We spent two days in Camp White Horse and then moved on into the city and took up positions, which we fortified when we were not patrolling or running raids. After a week, we were moved to the Saddam Canal, the site of a fierce battle just days earlier, where we set up checkpoints to control anyone going to or from the city over our bridge. After about a month of bridge security, patrols and raids in the nearby neighborhood, we were moved to Qulat Sikkar, south of Al Kut.
While the Shiite Muslims in our area of operation may not have wanted us there, the United States took out Saddam and we were there to help them, so there was a tentative peace. While the locals outnumbered us, they did not want to rock the boat, nor did we. For all intents and purposes, we served as the local government, court and police of Qulat Sikkar. For the first few weeks, we raided residences of suspected Baath Party members, Fedayeen and criminals. You never knew what was behind the door, which was quite stressful, but you got used it. However, it didn’t take too long to realize that despite the weapons caches we would occasionally find, a good portion of the information we were receiving to conduct these raids may have had more to do with personal revenge than actual threats.
What we were trying to do was maximize our strength at the street level by interacting with the locals as much as possible during foot and mounted patrols, which we ran 24 hours a day. We wanted the locals to know that we were ready for anything while our medical corpsmen were helping injured civilians and kids who were brought to our position for care. Locals would come to us to report criminals and other threats, which we would respond to. The professional policemen in our reserve unit trained local police. Because of this, and the fact that the local Shia were happy to see Saddam ousted and were not politically organized, we experienced no serious attacks, nothing more than the occasional spray-and-pray or potshot. The people, all of whom were destitute, just tried to keep on living and begin building an uncertain future as we continued our patrols, dreaming of home in our spare time.
The uncertain future became most evident when local Iraq army veterans began asking for their pay or pensions and we told them to go away. And while the Bush administration’s decision to remove all Baath Party members rather than just the unsavory elements from official life was not such a factor for us in the Shiite south, the move was something that we debated endlessly. The majority of the Marines in my platoon — college students and working men alike — saw it as a very bad idea and something that would almost guarantee a resistance movement.
We stayed just under six months and did a lot of good for people who have not faced much good in their history. The reality of war is that sometimes you are lucky and sometimes you are unlucky. During that deployment, we were very lucky. No Marines in our unit were killed in action, and no Marines were seriously wounded. The Italians who replaced us were not so lucky. A few months after our departure and after becoming fully immersed in civilian life again (except for drill weekends), I turned on the television to see that Nasiriya had been hit by a major suicide bombing and that 19 Italian soldiers — some of whom we had undoubtedly dined with at Camp White Horse just weeks earlier — were killed along with 11 civilians. I remember thinking that this was just the beginning of a different type of war that would last a long time.
Cpl. Nathan Hughes, U.S. Marine Corps Regimental Combat Team 1
Iraq 2003
STRATFOR Deputy Director, Tactical Intelligence
Looking back, the paradigm that pulls it all together for me is one of a military that has spent too many years in garrison going off to war. By March 2003, 9/11 had dominated everyone’s thinking for a year and a half, but only a tiny fraction of the military had actually been to Afghanistan. And there had been no time for operational lessons that might have been learned to percolate through the system.
None of that was apparent then. When we first came ashore in February, the negligent discharge of a SAW at the port in Kuwait and seeing servicemen from other units carrying their rifles slung muzzle down stuck out to us after six months with a Marine Expeditionary Unit (pretty much the height of readiness and cohesion for a Marine infantry battalion at that point). The truth was that even six months at sea in 2002, aside from the loss of Marines in a shooting in Kuwait, did little to prepare us for the post-9/11 realities that would become so apparent in subsequent years.
After weeks of waiting in Kuwait (to the point where unfounded rumors of the death of Jennifer Lopez were beginning to get too much traction) and after we had resigned ourselves to never leaving that miserable place, we suddenly received orders to immediately mount up. We were a U.S. Marine regiment on amphibious tractors, unarmored Humvees and seven-ton trucks. I remember feeling bad for anyone who got in our way, and how that illusion crumbled over and over again in the subsequent weeks.
I remember exactly how shallow the first fighting positions we dug had been at our staging area south of the Iraqi border. The ground had been ridiculously tough, and we knew we were moving in as little as a few hours. That expediency was fine until the first “Lightning, lightning, lightning” came across the net, signaling that an Iraqi “Scud” missile had been fired. We were already in our MOPP 1 attire, which we would wear during most of the invasion, but despite endless drills (and laps around the flight deck on the way over in MOPP 4), it had taken us distressingly long to suit up. And lying in a far-too-shallow fighting position recalling how useless I had been — how useless we all had been — learning how to fire a rifle while wearing a gas mask in 1998, I mulled over everything I knew about fighting in a chemical or biological environment. The only thing I knew for sure was that doing so was a terrible, terrible idea.
On the outskirts of Nasiriya, we saw the first burned-out hulks of American vehicles and the first section of our platoon was moved, briefly, from our unarmored Humvees to the “protection” of the welded-aluminum hulls of amphibious tractors. Before someone somewhere cancelled the whole maneuver, we were on the verge of following an artillery barrage through a city where the entire urban expanse had been declared hostile. One surreal experience flowed into the next.
Between spending a night where no one slept because we had erected our 81mm mortar gun line in an exposed position in the middle of an Iraqi village and reconnoitering for positions in a pair of Humvees with our heaviest weapon, a SAW, it became clear how desperately thin we were spread. The civilian looting of Baghdad was comprehensive and immediate. As we moved to our initial objective, there were already stolen construction vehicles with air-conditioning units chained to the shovels moving down the shoulders of the city’s roads. The magnitude of pacifying an urban population — and our complete inability to do so — was blatantly apparent.
By the time we fell back to Kuwait that summer (even the senior-most Marine commanders were assuring us in good faith that the objective was kicking in the door and seizing Baghdad and that the Army would take it from there), it was already a different world. Children that had once been restrained by their parents or their own uncertainty would now stand inches from moving tracked vehicles and demand candy. What we had achieved, in other words, was done in the space created by “shock and awe.” But the shock and awe had already worn off and the Iraqis were adapting and settling into the new reality with a frightening speed.
Staff Sgt. Paul Floyd, U.S. Army Special Operations Command
Iraq 2005-2008
STRATFOR Tactical Intern
My unit worked under Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and our primary role was high-value target (HVT) kill or capture missions. These missions were meant to apply pressure to or destroy enemy networks, not to win over popular support. I served eight tours overseas, half in Iraq. Our deployments lasted anywhere from 90 to 140 days. During these deployments, my platoon conducted hundreds of missions and killed or captured many HVTs. Most missions were successful in the sense that we got who we were after. Some missions were not successful. The following are the missions that stick out.
My first deployment was in 2005 to Baghdad. I was scared and didn’t know a damn thing about where I was going, and my team leaders and squad leaders were not about to enlighten me. After a short layover in Germany, we flew directly into Baghdad instead of Kuwait, where most units staged. The lights in the cargo bay went red, the crew donned body armor and they dropped the plane onto the runway like it was crashing to avoid being shot down. We had arrived in the middle of the night and were still recovering from the sleeping pills they had provided for the flight. We had to unpack all of our mission-essential gear from our cargo pallets and prep our gear for a helicopter flight into our operating base. Our leaders still didn’t divulge many details about where we were going even as we loaded magazines and donned body armor.
We loaded a CH-47 with half of our platoon and our personal bags and lifted off to what I had been told was the most dangerous city in the world at that time. When we landed, I was a little beside myself as we rushed off the helicopter to establish security, sweeping our sectors of fire and waiting for our first firefight while others frantically threw bags off the bird. It took a few minutes, but the helicopter finally took off to pick up the rest of our platoon and then we were able to hear the laughter. “Hey dumbasses, we are in the Green Zone and you are pointing your weapons at the guys who guard our compound,” our team leaders said between guffaws. “Welcome home.”
This was not what I was expecting. My first mission was the next night. I was a top gunner on an up-armored Humvee manning a medium machine gun. We worked at night, and all I knew was that we were going to get some guy in some place in Baghdad. In other words, I could barely understand what I was seeing, didn’t know where I was and had no idea who we were after. The last thing my team leader had told me before we rolled out was to shoot back if we were shot at and if the vehicle rolled, try and get clear because the night before a Humvee had been hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and rolled and everyone inside had burned alive. He might have been lying, but it stuck. We rolled through Baghdad for about 15 minutes and finally stopped 200 meters past an intersection. To help with radio communication, we turned off our jammers, per standard operating procedure, and an IED detonated at the intersection we had just passed. We went on two more missions that night and, over the course of 90 days, conducted around 120 missions.
My second deployment was to Ramadi in summer 2006. At that time, Ramadi was falling apart. The entire city was hostile, every single place we went. One mission during this deployment sticks our more than any other. We received intelligence on the whereabouts of a target high enough on the food chain that the strike force commander launched us during the day. The coordinates we had been given led us to what was essentially a strip mall on the side of the road. Since it was daytime, we found it to be more successful to move hard and fast, so we “landed on the X.” As we were leaping out of our vehicles, we realized there were more than 100 people running in all directions. We detained every single military-aged male. It took hours and we had to call in the regular army to help us move them all, but we got the al Qaeda cell leader we were after and his lieutenants. We didn’t make any friends that day, but we accomplished the mission and then some.
On a similar mission, we found ourselves being launched during the middle of the day to capture a man who we thought was a major piece of the Ramadi insurgency. This time we drove to a house, contained it, blew down the door and seized it. All we found inside was a woman and 13 teenage girls. We started to search the house, and I was tasked with searching the room where the girls were being kept while a younger guy watched them. Searching a room in the desert while wearing body armor is miserable work. About halfway through I heard some light giggling and looked up to find that two of the girls had taken a fancy to their overseer and were trying to flirt. There he was smiling from ear to ear while they both were moving their veils and hijab’s just enough to show a little hair and some of their faces. I started to laugh when the radio explodes with chatter about a car returning to the house. We quickly rearranged ourselves and detained the men as they pulled into the driveway. It was their uncle who had to pick up an associate and who also happened to be our target. We detained him and left.
My third deployment in Iraq was back to Ramadi in 2007. This was after the local tribal leaders had banded together and begun working with the United States to push al Qaeda out of the city. This meant that the enemy had moved to the countryside, and we were going to air assault instead of drive. Every night, we flew to the countryside and walked to our targets. This deployment was different. I experienced more firefights in those first seven missions than I ever had before.
On my eighth mission, the intelligence that drove us to a target was literally “there is a suspicious blue truck there.” We ridiculed that assessment as we boarded the helicopters. I was point man for my platoon and led it up to the house. As I cleared the initial courtyard I saw a man open a door, stick his head out and, clearly frightened, duck back inside, leaving the door partially open. Following my training and not wanting him to have any more time to prepare for a fight I followed him through the door with my fire team. I kicked the door fully open and two men armed with what I later learned was an AK-47 and an M-16 fired on us as we came through the door. I cleared my corner and returned fire while my teammates did the same. Suddenly my firing hand was thrown off of my weapon. I placed it back but found that I could not pull the trigger. It seemed like time just stopped. I looked down to find that my finger was flapping wildly against my weapon and realized that I could not shoot. I took a knee and yelled “down” to let my team know I was out of the fight and they adjusted their sectors of fire. There was a brief pause before another armed man opened fire from behind the door. I thought I was dead. The fire team behind us entered the room immediately and eliminated the threat.
I had been shot in the hand while one of my team members had been shot through the arm and the other had had a bullet graze the side of his head. We all walked out of that room in time to see the rest of the house erupt with gunfire. My platoon moved us back under fire and returned fire. A man then ran out of the house and our rounds detonated his suicide vest. His head and leg landed in the road in front of us. The fight ended with two 500-pound bombs and a medevac helicopter to Balad. I went home early that deployment.
My last deployment to Iraq was in 2008, back in Baghdad. One again we were driving, part of a task force assigned to counter Iranian influence. The new threat was the explosively formed projectiles being imported by the Iranians. These next-generation IEDs could punch through any standard armor we had. U.S. troops adapted with solid metal plates bolted to the sides of vehicles with an 18-inch standoff. The enemy adapted by aiming the IEDs slightly higher so the force of the blast would miss the metal plates and take heads off in the passenger compartments.
This react and counteract game never stopped. We were there during the winter, which meant it actually rained a fair amount for a brief period. I was a convoy commander on this deployment. On one particular mission, we had stopped to let the assault force off more than a kilometer away so as not to spook the target at night with our engine noise. After they assaulted the house, they called to us to pull the vehicles forward. During the height of the sectarian violence of 2007, Baghdad neighborhoods had trenches and earthworks to protect them. On this wet winter night, we were forced to drive through one of these trenches to get to our platoon, and it took about three seconds to get my vehicle stuck.
Since we were running skeleton crews at this point and it was my fault, I decided to jump out by myself to perform the vehicle recovery. This is a pretty simple process of just having the nearest vehicle pull up, attaching a tow cable between the two and pulling the stuck vehicle out. As we started the pulling part, I stepped back to make room only to plunge into a hole filled with water well over my head. I was submerged, wearing about 60 pounds of armor and equipment and barely hanging onto a ledge. I thought about the irony of dying in Iraq not because of enemy fire or an IED but by drowning. I managed to extract myself, and since no one could hear or see me, I calmly walked back to my extracted vehicle. If my gunner wondered why I was soaking wet and freezing, he didn’t ask.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sledge, U.S. Army Special Operations Command
Iraq 2006-2007
STRATFOR Senior Graphic Designer
I had done a lot in eleven years in the military: Afghanistan, language training, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and Iraq. But Iraq would be the nail in the coffin of my military career.
In Iraq I kicked in doors, took shotgun pellets to the face (courtesy of a trigger happy Marine), watched IEDs explode in front of my vehicle, watched people shoot at my vehicle, made friends with the locals, rebuilt infrastructure, had the locals tell me they loved me and had the locals shoot at me. I also watched people shoot my friends, attended memorial services, cried, laughed, got depressed, ranted, fought, got dirty, got dirtier, cried some more and then went home.
The twin bloody battles of Fallujah in 2004 would move the insurgents to a city 20 miles west named Ramadi, which we would lovingly nickname the “Meat Grinder.” The rules of engagement were so lenient that if someone popped their head around the corner twice you could shoot a warning shot. The third peek was considered hostile and you could engage the person with lethal force. Every morning the roads were declared clear for about 30 minutes after an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team had spent the night clearing them. Thirty minutes later, every road had multiple IEDs on them. By noon, you were guaranteed to get shot at.
The turning point in my deployment came when a former Special Forces captain named Travis Patriquin came up with a simple — and hilarious — PowerPoint slide mocking how complex the American war machine had made the war in Iraq. My team began to work with him and other teams trying to win over the tribal sheiks and empower the people in the area. In accordance with a plan devised by Col. Sean McFarland, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division, U.S. troops also began to occupy all points of Ramadi in small combat outposts. In time, the tide began to shift and we began to see a significant, perceptible change. For once, my spirits were lifted and I thought we would achieve some success in the war. Capt. Patriquin would not live to see it. He was killed by an IED, leaving behind his wife and three small children.
When the war shifted in Ramadi, my team began to work hard rebuilding infrastructure instead of slinging lead, but complications soon arose. After the fighting died down, staff officers found new ways to look like rock stars in order to advance their careers. This was when my faith in the U.S. military began to crumble. Instead of working on the power grid or sewage system — basic life necessities that the people desperately needed — I was ordered to win hearts and minds by building soccer fields and other “Iraqi entertainment” venues. (Aid money was poured into a multimillion-dollar soccer stadium that only collected trash.)
After asking instead to work on the power grid, I was threatened with administrative punishment by a colonel in the 3rd Infantry Division. I acquiesced, then filed a report about waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. More threats, more soccer fields demanded, but my unit never backed down. We eventually got electricity running in the city 18 hours a day. This was a big deal, though the cost was high: Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars with valor and marital problems. (A third of our 30-man team left Iraq divorced, including me.) Coming home should have been a joyous occasion, but after 15 months, we were all very different and the world was not the same.
Though the Iraq war is ending, it will never be over for those who went. Anytime someone finds out you’re a veteran and a little about what you did, the question comes up: “Did you kill anyone?” And with that inevitable question comes an inevitable floodgate of memories, good and bad.
Anonymous, U.S. Army Human Intelligence Collector
Iraq 2007-2008
STRATFOR Tactical Intern
I remember following the U.S. invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq from the comfort of my living room with no idea what a war zone was really like. Little did I know that one day I would have my own experiences in the Iraqi and Afghan cities I was watching on television.
A couple years after the fall of Saddam Hussein I was running human intelligence (HUMINT) operations in Baghdad, having one-on-one conversations with U.S. adversaries. I was elated by the opportunity to hear the perspective of the enemy. In the interrogations, our conversations varied. We would discuss anything from a planned attack on a convoy to the art of raising homing pigeons. While the typical image in Iraq was one of U.S. soldiers in fierce battles with insurgents, I would find myself smoking from a hookah with someone who had killed dozens. The polite nature of Iraqis carried over to the individuals with whom I would have conversations. A man who had just detonated an IED against an American convoy would offer me his prison-issued jacket if the weather was cold. I was shocked to see how cordial a detained insurgent could be, even if uncooperative.
There was a steep cultural learning curve for me, beginning with my mission in Iraq. Having never left the Western Hemisphere and having focused on Latin America with my previous unit, I was amazed to see what a different world the Middle East was. Language barriers were surprisingly easy to work around with interpreters, although my ability to gather intelligence depended on my cultural understanding. Picking and choosing which interpreter to use in communicating with a source was the first step. (An outspoken Lebanese Christian would not be very effective with a Sunni extremist.) It was also important to consider the gender, age and Islamic sect of interpreter and source. Putting aside intelligence gathering and turning instead to light-hearted conversations revolving around the source’s life not only improved my cultural understanding but also helped elicit critical information and actionable intelligence.
My time in Iraq was quite different from that of a soldier patrolling the streets of Baghdad. While I left my friends and family behind and worked long hours, sometimes exceeding 48-hour shifts, I still enjoyed most of the comforts of home that many soldiers in Iraq could not enjoy. The dangers were minimal compared to those faced by soldiers who kicked open doors and endured regular ambushes and IEDs. I often felt that I was not really doing my part compared to others who were risking their life in combat. However, I cherish the knowledge I gained from the Iraqi people and hope my contribution in Iraq was to save both U.S. and Iraqi lives.
Sgt. Frank B., U.S. Marine Corps
Iraq 2008
STRATFOR Junior Tactical Analyst
During our operations in northern Anbar province, I was continuously struck by the unintended consequences of our actions. As a platoon size, eight-vehicle element, we conducted patrols around the region checking in on disparate parts of the population. However, due to a lack of good road maps we relied on aviation charts that made it hard to identify good or established ground routes.
In our effort to survey our area of operations for security threats (in addition to other taskings), we found that our two mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) trucks, weighing more than 10 tons apiece, would easily crush the simple, mud-packed irrigation networks in the area. This would result in the limited water supply being quickly absorbed by the vast expanse of baked earth. And our communication and electronic countermeasures antennae, some 15 feet tall, would routinely pull down or short out the low-hanging, rudimentary power lines that tenuously fed electricity over long distances to isolated populations.
All of this was impossible to avoid while executing our tasking orders and providing mandated levels of protection to our unit, yet it hampered our ability to build any kind of rapport with people in areas that had had limited contact with the ousted Baathist regime in the first place. I remember realizing at the time that many of our interests and actions negated one another, and I often wondered how much more of that was happening with the many different units across the country.
I would later realize this example would prove to be one of many examples where our best operational intentions were obfuscated by the complexity of procedures, precautions and logistics necessary for our activity within the country. I’ll never forget walking away from my time in Iraq realizing the one-step-forward-two-step-backward reality of my unit’s time in Iraq, and how it forever changed how I understand the net costs of military and foreign interventions everywhere.
Conclusion
I know each of the authors well enough to have been startled by their recollections of the war. The humor, dedication and bitterness expressed in these pieces show me dimensions of each of them that I had not known were there. War reshapes the soul and makes people we think we know into mysteries. Life goes on, but not as it once was. No geopolitical meaning can be extracted from these memories, but human meanings can be. Suffice it to say that I am proud to be associated with these men and women.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #738 on: December 22, 2011, 02:19:27 AM »

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2011     STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives

Iraqi Divisions Come to the Fore
The colors of the now-disestablished U.S. Forces-Iraq arrived back in the United States on Tuesday, where they were received by U.S. President Barack Obama. Between the day those colors were cased in Baghdad (last Thursday) and the day the last contingent of U.S. troops crossed into Kuwait (Sunday), Iraq’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, fled to the Kurdish Regional Government in the north in order to evade a warrant issued for his arrest on charges of terrorism.
The comparative quietude of recent years in Iraq has existed within the framework of the U.S. military presence in Iraq, but not because the remaining — and dwindling — U.S. forces in Iraq have maintained any sort of lockdown on security. Rather, various factions were held in check by outside forces or by their own interests — many of which centered on not giving the Americans, and the factions within Iraq that benefited from their presence, any additional reason to leave U.S. troops in the country. With the final crossing of a large convoy into Kuwait on Sunday, that broad alignment of interests in Iraq has ended, and the artificiality of the quietude that framework has facilitated over the last few years has immediately come to the fore.
“Iraq’s senior leadership is filling the power vacuum left in Iraq by the withdrawal of U.S. forces and thus the removal of the framework that has defined Iraq for the better part of a decade.”
Washington and Baghdad have established a considerable relationship over the last eight years, during which the United States has played a central role in crafting the very structure of the Iraqi government. The United States now leaves behind a 16,000-strong diplomatic presence (including more than 5,000 diplomatic security personnel and their contractors). The two governments maintain robust if more informal technocratic contacts, and the contacts between their military and intelligence communities also remain strong. Washington maintains leverage through existing and forthcoming American military hardware sales and the contractor support those sales entail. But Iraq has now definitively entered the post-American occupation phase for which it has been preparing since at least 2008.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been using his increasingly strong hold over the Iraqi security forces and intelligence services for political and ethno-sectarian purposes for years, further consolidating his power. But whatever personal gain is at stake or not for al-Maliki in the al-Hashimi case, the latter must be understood as part of a natural geopolitical process: Iraq’s senior leadership is filling the power vacuum left in Iraq by the withdrawal of U.S. forces and thus the removal of the framework that has defined Iraq for the better part of a decade.
Seeing this as political maneuvering, however, also runs the risk of missing the point. Iraq is an artificial entity itself, built around borders defined by the United Kingdom and the League of Nations in 1920. Those borders encompass three distinct ethno-sectarian groups: Arab Shia, Sunni and Kurds. Since Iraq’s establishment, the country within these borders has, by and large, only been managed successfully with a strong hand where inherent ethno-sectarian strife has been suppressed.
So the issuing of an arrest warrant by the regime of al-Maliki for a Sunni (who may well have been involved in militant activity targeting Shiite leaders after Saddam’s fall) is neither simply a continuation of the trend of using military, law enforcement and intelligence powers for political and ethno-sectarian gain, nor an instance of political maneuvering within the existing political framework. It may well prove to be the opening gambit in a state-run coup d’état. The parliamentary system may or may not survive such a move if it is indeed taking place, but the point would be its subversion and subordination to Shiite domination and, at least at the moment, the increasingly robust military, law enforcement and intelligence powers at al-Maliki’s disposal.
It is uncertain how far al-Maliki will push this. But the whole point of a coup d’état is to create the perception of an overwhelming preponderance of powers before those powers are fully solidified (and there is little doubt that al-Maliki’s control over the instruments of hard power in Iraq is significant). Iraq’s political situation and its power dynamics were unsettled when the United States finalized its withdrawal, and they must find a new equilibrium. That new equilibrium is overwhelmingly turning in favor of the Shia, and the regional player that has the most to gain from this new geopolitical reality is none other than Iran.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #739 on: December 22, 2011, 02:39:19 AM »

BBC
 
 A wave of apparently co-ordinated bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, have killed at least 57 people and injured more than 170, say officials.

The interior ministry said 13 locations had been attacked, including al-Amil in the south of the city and Halawi and Karrada closer to the centre.

The bombings are the worst in months - and follow the withdrawal of US troops.

They come amid fears of rising sectarian tensions as the unity government faces internal divisions.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks.

However, analysts say the level of co-ordination suggests a planning capability only available to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Bombings remain common in Iraq despite an overall fall in violence.

In al-Amil there were two blasts, the second of which appeared to target rescuers who had come to the scene of the first explosion.

Raghad Khalid, a teacher at a kindergarten in Karrada, said all their windows had been blown out.

"The children were scared and crying. Some parts of the car bomb are inside our building."


Another woman said her baby had been covered in glass.

"She is now scared in the next room. All countries are stable. Why don't we have security and stability?" said Um Hanin.

Political turmoil
Iraq's year-old power-sharing government is in turmoil after an arrest warrant was issued for Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terror charges.

The entire al-Iraqiyya group, the main Sunni bloc in parliament, is boycotting the assembly in protest. It accuses Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, of monopolising power.

Mr Hashemi denies the charges. He is currently in Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government, but Mr Maliki has demanded that they give him up.

The last American troops departed from Iraq on Sunday, nearly nine years after the war that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

President Barack Obama acknowledged that the situation was not perfect, but said the US forces were leaving behind "a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government elected by its people"

                                                                               P.C.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #740 on: December 22, 2011, 03:01:55 AM »

Woof,
 I wonder... in a month or two from now, would a poll show that the Iraqi people are still happy we are gone? Of course a month or two from now there won't be as many Iraqis left to poll and it's doubtful if it would be a fair poll. I also wonder in in a year or two, how many Americans are going to be happy we pulled out.  It's true that most Americans are happy about it now but our enemies are even happier. I wonder why that is? tongue
                                                                                             P.C.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2011, 08:03:40 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged

Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #741 on: December 22, 2011, 08:15:34 AM »

Also worth noting is that polling results are likely to vary considerably between the Kurd region, the Sunni region, and the Shia region.

Also worth noting is the relative silence here at home of most Republicans and many on the right on this-- I suspect in great part because lots of Americans have a sense that we have been badly led in this war and blame Bush and the Republicans.

My views about the destructiveness and the serious consequences thereof, sometimes to the point of being disloyal to America, of those who opposed the war I have already expressed-- but in fairness it needs to be noted that Rumsfield overruled the generals who clearly warned that more boots would be needed on the ground to establish a new order, that Bush, because he wished to avoid the political consequences of it being used against him, failed to expand the size of our presence for YEARS (even though candidate Kerry was calling for an increase of some 50,000 in the US military) thus badly thrashing our troops by sending them into the fray again and again at a very high tempo.  The Surge should have been done MUCH sooner.  Rumsfield was arrogant in his failure to see that his original perception of the what was happening on the ground (Saddamite deadenders) was wrong.  The disbanding of the army, a huge decision made almost as a whim by Bremer, was a profound mistake.

I would add that the incoherence of our strategy in Afpakia has similarly sapped the support of the people for the effort there.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #742 on: December 22, 2011, 04:19:14 PM »

Woof,
 Not to worry, OB is in direct talks with the Taliban to strike a deal so we can withdraw there too.
                                               P.C.
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JDN
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« Reply #743 on: December 22, 2011, 04:33:11 PM »

Well let's hope Obama's "direct talks with the Taliban" are successful since nearly two thirds of all Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan.  And the percentage is rising....

Like Iraq, it's time to get out of Afghanistan as well.....
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G M
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« Reply #744 on: December 22, 2011, 04:37:46 PM »

Well let's hope Obama's "direct talks with the Taliban" are successful since nearly two thirds of all Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan.  And the percentage is rising....

Like Iraq, it's time to get out of Afghanistan as well.....

Of course. It's not like there were any negative results the last time we walked away from A-stan. Right?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #745 on: December 22, 2011, 04:40:22 PM »

Nor is there, apart perhaps from our YA and my echoes of him, is there a coherent strategy being offered for staying.
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JDN
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« Reply #746 on: December 22, 2011, 04:46:06 PM »

Nor is there, apart perhaps from our YA and my echoes of him, is there a coherent strategy being offered for staying.

Maybe that's part of or IS the problem...

Sometimes war is necessary.  But the American public is entitled to know why we entered into the war, why we stay,
what specifically we hope to accomplish, and when we plan on getting out.

Frankly, I, and I bet most Americans, can't figure out the answer to any of these questions in regards to Afghanistan.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #747 on: December 22, 2011, 04:50:16 PM »

GM:

You're a very bright and very thoughtful man.

a) Do you think there is a "Jew in Waziristan's chance" of YA-like policies being taken up?  I don't.

b) Of the politically plausible strategies available, which do you favor?  For which would you want a son of yours to fight?

c) Or?
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G M
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« Reply #748 on: December 22, 2011, 04:51:57 PM »

1. It will be trumpeted globally that the muj again defeated a kafir superpower, demonstrating the jihad in the name of allah wins.

2. Back to being a base for launching mass casualty attacks on the infidels in their homelands.

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G M
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« Reply #749 on: December 22, 2011, 04:56:55 PM »

GM:

You're a very bright and very thoughtful man.

a) Do you think there is a "Jew in Waziristan's chance" of YA-like policies being taken up?  I don't.

**I don't either.

b) Of the politically plausible strategies available, which do you favor?  For which would you want a son of yours to fight?

**As much eye rolling it might engender, there is a truth to "fighting them over there so we don't over here". We have seriously degraded their command and control. Hard for them to plot the next 9/11 while hiding from drones and snatch and grab raids.

c) Or?

**Refuse to learn from history and let the lesson be retaught to us. Perhaps with something that rattled loose from P-stan's arsenal.I note that every retired DoD expert on loose nukes lives far away from America's major cities. Just saying....
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