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DougMacG
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« Reply #250 on: July 30, 2007, 09:38:56 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/30/opinion/30pollack.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin

A War We Just Might Win
By MICHAEL E. O’HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

In Ramadi, for example, we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit. He and his men had built an Arab-style living room, where he met with the local Sunni sheiks — all formerly allies of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups — who were now competing to secure his friendship.

In Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers. The Sunni residents were unhappy with the nearby police checkpoint, where Shiite officers reportedly abused them, but they seemed genuinely happy with the American soldiers and a mostly Kurdish Iraqi Army company patrolling the street. The local Sunni militia even had agreed to confine itself to its compound once the Americans and Iraqi units arrived.

We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside. A local mayor told us his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq. All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark.

But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

In addition, far more Iraqi units are well integrated in terms of ethnicity and religion. The Iraqi Army’s highly effective Third Infantry Division started out as overwhelmingly Kurdish in 2005. Today, it is 45 percent Shiite, 28 percent Kurdish, and 27 percent Sunni Arab.

In the past, few Iraqi units could do more than provide a few “jundis” (soldiers) to put a thin Iraqi face on largely American operations. Today, in only a few sectors did we find American commanders complaining that their Iraqi formations were useless — something that was the rule, not the exception, on a previous trip to Iraq in late 2005.

The additional American military formations brought in as part of the surge, General Petraeus’s determination to hold areas until they are truly secure before redeploying units, and the increasing competence of the Iraqis has had another critical effect: no more whack-a-mole, with insurgents popping back up after the Americans leave.

In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.

Another surprise was how well the coalition’s new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working. Wherever we found a fully staffed team, we also found local Iraqi leaders and businessmen cooperating with it to revive the local economy and build new political structures. Although much more needs to be done to create jobs, a new emphasis on microloans and small-scale projects was having some success where the previous aid programs often built white elephants.

In some places where we have failed to provide the civilian manpower to fill out the reconstruction teams, the surge has still allowed the military to fashion its own advisory groups from battalion, brigade and division staffs. We talked to dozens of military officers who before the war had known little about governance or business but were now ably immersing themselves in projects to provide the average Iraqi with a decent life.

Outside Baghdad, one of the biggest factors in the progress so far has been the efforts to decentralize power to the provinces and local governments. But more must be done. For example, the Iraqi National Police, which are controlled by the Interior Ministry, remain mostly a disaster. In response, many towns and neighborhoods are standing up local police forces, which generally prove more effective, less corrupt and less sectarian. The coalition has to force the warlords in Baghdad to allow the creation of neutral security forces beyond their control.

In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

Michael E. O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kenneth M. Pollack is the director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #251 on: July 31, 2007, 10:17:22 AM »

An interesting interview with the NY Times man in Iraq

http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/Transcript_Page.aspx?ContentGuid=5bdb3520-d829-4fdb-a2bc-6611d80faba4
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buzwardo
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« Reply #252 on: July 31, 2007, 11:30:07 AM »

Turning Point?
An op-ed and a war.

An NRO Symposium

The New York Times ran a piece Monday by two non-“neoconservatives” — Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack — arguing that the war in Iraq can be won. Is this indicative of some kind of mood change afoot? Could we really win this war? Could the rhetoric in Washington really change? National Review Online asked a group of experts.


Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
What are we to make of the fact that two of the Democratic party’s most knowledgeable critics of President Bush’s campaign to stabilize and democratize post-Saddam Iraq, Michael O’Hanlon and Robert Pollack, have publicly rejected the defeatists and called for a sustained U.S. effort there into 2008? The short answer is that they have the wit to recognize mistaken claims that all is lost in Iraq when they hear them — and the courage to say so.

This assessment is remarkable, of course, not only for the fact that its authors are breaking ranks with nearly all of the rest of the Democrats’ foreign-policy establishment. It is also noteworthy for being the latest and, arguably, most objective indicator that the situation on the ground in Iraq is, indeed, changing for the better.

As such, the O’Hanlon-Pollack report makes plain one other truth: Those who persist in denying that General David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy is having the desired, salutary effect and who insist that our defeat is inevitable are promoting a self-fulfilling prophesy. They are so determined to score domestic political points by unilaterally ending the conflict in Iraq that they are prepared to surrender the country to al Qaeda and various Shiite militias and their respective Saudi, Iranian and Syrian enablers.

Public-opinion polling and anecdotal evidence suggests that Americans are beginning to appreciate the true nature — and potentially enormous costs — of the surrender in Iraq being advocated by many Democrats and a few Republicans. The O’Hanlon-Pollack op-ed may reflect that reality as much as shape it. Either way, its authors deserve our thanks.

— Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy.


Victor Davis Hanson
What is interesting about the essay is that both scholars were early supporters of the war to remove Saddam Hussein, then constant critics of the acknowledged mistakes of the occupation, and now somewhat confident that Gen. Petraeus can still salvage a victory. In two regards, they reflect somewhat the vast majority of the American people who approved the war, slowly soured on the peace — but now have yet to be won over again by the surge to renew their erstwhile support.

We are witnessing two phenomena. First, after four years of misery the Iraqis themselves are tiring of war, have grasped what al Qaeda et al. do when in local control, realize the U.S. wants to leave only after establishing a constitutional state, not steal its oil, sense that the United States may well win — and are slowly making adjustments to hedge their bets.

In a wider sense, the war is as most wars: an evolution from blunders to wisdom, the side that makes the fewest and learns from them the most eventually winning. Al Qaeda and the insurgents in 2004-6 developed the means, both tactical and strategic, to thwart the reconstruction, but we, not they, have since learned the more and evolved.

As in the Civil War, WWI, and WWII, the present American military — which has committed far less mistakes than past American forces — has shifted tactics, redefined strategy, and found the right field commanders. We forget that the U.S. Army and Marines, far from being broken, now have the most experienced and wizened officers in the world. Like Summer 1864, Summer 1918, and in the Pacific 1944-5, the key is the support of a weary public for an ever improving military that must nevertheless endure a final storm before breaking the enemy.

The irony is that should President Bush endure the hysteria and furor and prove able to give the gifted Gen. Petraeus the necessary time — and I think he will — his presidency could still turn out to be Trumanesque, once we digest the changes in Europe, the progress on North Korea, the end of both the Taliban and Saddam, and the prevention of another 9/11 attack. How odd that all the insider advice to triangulate — big spending, new programs, uninspired appointments, liberal immigration reform — have nearly wrecked the administration, and what were once considered its liabilities — foreign policy, the war on terror and Iraq — may still save it.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.


Clifford D. May
Yes, Virginia, there are some rational, reasoning liberals. Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack have long been among them. They are serious students of national security. They are Democrats but not hyper-partisans. They are not so willfully self-deluded as to believe that America’s defeat in Iraq would be a problem only for President Bush and those pesky neocons. They understand that America’s defeat in Iraq — at the hands of al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias — would be hugely consequential for America.
What O’Hanlon and Pollack conclude — “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008” — is not exactly breaking news to those who read NRO, The Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages. It is not news to anyone who has been carefully following developments in Iraq since Gen. David Petraeus was confirmed as the American commander in that theater.

But most Americans have heard only the drumbeat of the antiwar Left. The Left has been banging out the message that the Petraeus mission has failed — since before the Petraeus mission was fully underway. And most of the mainstream media have been unwilling even to suggest an alternative narrative. (A notable exception is the Times’ own John Burns, a reporter who is apparently not read by Times editorial writers.)

So the O’Hanlon/Pollack op-ed is important. It forces the conversation to re-open. Even such media outlets as CNN now have to discuss the possibility that the war in Iraq might yet be won. That may at least give pause to rattled Republicans as well as to rational, reasoning Democrats.

Yes, Virginia, there are such Democrats.

— Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies , a policy institute focusing on terrorism.


Senator John McCain
Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack have uncovered a truth that seems to escape congressional Democrats: General Petraeus’s new strategy has shown remarkable progress. Earlier this month, on my sixth trip to Iraq, it was evident that our military is making dramatic achievements throughout the country.

Despite this progress, Democrats today advocate a precipitous withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. They are wrong, and their approach portends catastrophe for both Iraq and the United States. To fail in Iraq risks creating a sanctuary for al Qaeda, sparking a full scale civil war, genocide, and violence that could spread far beyond Iraq’s borders. To leave prematurely is to ensure just one thing: that we will be back, in more dangerous and difficult circumstances. We cannot and must not lose this war.

We must prevail. General Petraeus and his troops have asked Congress for just two things: the time and support they need to carry out their mission. They must have both, however much the congressional Democrats seek to withhold them. That is why I will keep fighting to ensure that our commanders have what they need to win this war.

I cannot guarantee success. But I do guarantee that, should Congress fail to sustain the effort, and should it pay no heed to the lessons drawn by Mr. Pollack and Mr. O’Hanlon, then America will face a historic and terrible defeat. Such a defeat, with its enormous human and strategic costs, will unfold unless we do all in our power to prevent it. I, for one, will continue to do just that.

— John McCain is senior United States senator from Arizona and a candidate for the Republican nomination for president.


Mackubin Thomas Owens
What is most interesting about this article is not what it says, but who is saying it. If a conservative were to write such an article, the skeptics most assuredly would immediately dismiss it as repeating White House talking points. But the fact that two severe critics of the Bush administration’s management of the war — from a think tank usually described as liberal to boot — have published such a piece in the New York Times of all places might, under normal circumstances, give opponents of the war pause.

The security situation in Iraq is clearly improving. The worn-out cliché that an insurgency cannot be defeated by military means alone is true as far as it goes, but security is sine qua non of stability in a counterinsurgency. The fact that the Sunni sheiks have been turning against al Qaeda and the other Salafi groups and the Shia have, to a lesser extent, rejected Sadr’s Mahdi army bodes well for security in the long run.

But does it matter at this point? Time is running out, not in Iraq but in Washington, D.C., where, as more than one commentator has pointed out, the Democratic majority in Congress and the party’s presidential candidates all seem to have opted for defeat and disgrace. Thanks to these geniuses and the Republicans who enable them, we may be on the verge of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

— Mackubin Thomas Owens is an associate dean of academics and a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He is writing a history of U.S. civil-military relations.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #253 on: July 31, 2007, 11:30:41 AM »

James S. Robbins
There is no question that on the ground the war is being won. Baghdad is becoming more secure. Iraqi tribal leaders and even some insurgent groups are turning against al Qaeda in Iraq and other outsiders who are pursuing their own violent agenda and who care nothing for the people of Iraq. The activities of Iran, Syria, and other counties supporting the insurgency are coming under increasing scrutiny and public censure. Iraqi military and police forces are fielding thousands of new, trained recruits every month. The government of Iraq may not be addressing all of the legislative initiatives we would like them to, such as the energy law and sorting out power sharing in their federal structure; but it took our country 75 years to come to grips with the contradictions inherent in our Constitution, and with a great deal more violence. We can give them time.

The weak link in the war effort is in the U.S. Congress. Politically driven assessments that downplay the progress of the war, pandering to antiwar groups, and a public that has tuned out, add up to grave difficulties in sustaining the war effort. Given more time, the progress in Iraq will become so clear as to be undeniable, and the troop drawdown could commence on more favorable terms. There is a significant difference between withdrawal in the face of adversity and redeployment after meeting our stated objectives. It is the difference between defeat and victory.

— James S. Robbins is the director of the Intelligence Center at Trinity Washington University and author of Last in Their Class: Custer, Picket and the Goats of West Point. Robbins is also an NRO contributor.


Peter W. Rodman
No one should underestimate the power of boredom as a determinant of journalistic opinion: When doomsaying becomes commonplace, the novelty factor works in favor of optimism. Objective reality is a necessary condition for today’s more hopeful assessments in Iraq, but it is never sufficient. It has been apparent for a while that the president’s “surge” is helping stabilize the military situation. That analysts like Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack are prepared to affirm it clearly after visiting Iraq is to their great credit. Journalists not driven by anti-Bush animus may now want to herd in the more positive direction.

The next question is how our domestic politics will absorb this new perception. On its face, it strengthens the President and complicates the Democrats’ internal divisions. Doomsayers will zero in on Iraqi failures in the political dimension; these failures, I hope, reflect only a time lag before improved security conditions boost the self-confidence and political strength of Iraqi moderates. Those in this country determined on abandoning Iraq will always find excuses. But, finally, the improved mood — and reality — should embolden Republicans to help the president hold the line through the (totally artificial) interim reckoning scheduled for September.

— Peter W. Rodman, a former NR senior editor, is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He served until recently as assistant secretary of Defense for international-security affairs.


Joseph Morrison Skelly
The answer to all three questions posed by this timely symposium is, I believe, a qualified “yes.” With regard to the first query — is there “some kind of mood change afoot?” — it is important to distinguish between the war’s harshest critics, its wavering skeptics, and its steadfast supporters. There has not been a mood change among the war’s vehement antagonists, but the essay by Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack is indicative of a begrudging acceptance of the tentative progress in Iraq by some of the war’s agnostics. While the war’s critics will, alas, never accept the new facts on the ground nor will their demeanor change under any circumstances, something akin to a mood swing among the war’s skeptics will follow continued improvement in Iraq. As this scenario unfolds it is likely that they will catch up with the war’s stalwart supporters, whose faith, long tested by the tough going and long derided by the war’s critics, is now being vindicated.

“Could we really can win this war?” Yes, with victory defined not as perfection, but as a stable Iraq at peace with itself, respectful of its neighbors, and an ally in the War against Islamic Terrorism. After several years of searching for a viable strategy, the United States military, its Coalition allies and its Iraqi counterparts are now waging a campaign based upon some of the tried and tested principles of counterinsurgency warfare that have been newly updated for the twenty-first century. The battle plan is encapsulated in the U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, which was drafted by a team led by General David Petraeus and is now being published by the University of Chicago Press. Kudos must also go to defense analysts who laid out the theoretical basis for the surge, including Fred Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a former professor of military history at West Point, and the author of an important new book on this subject, Finding the Target. Most of all, it is the soldiers on the ground who are turning the tide in Iraq. Michael Yon is detailing their success in Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Diyala in a series of compelling dispatches. Further west, the accomplishments of the Marines in Anbar province, with Army and Air Force support, has been remarkable; when the story of this war is written, their victory will loom large.

The momentum on the battlefield means that it is now likely that Operation Iraqi Freedom will be won or lost on the home front in America, thus lending immediacy to the question “Could the rhetoric in Washington really change?” The answer: perhaps. The critics of this war will never alter their tune, since they have so much invested in failure. But the rhetoric of the skeptics may change gradually. Like the national mood, it will be influenced by events on the ground. Should progress continue, people will wish to be associated with it. We will thus witness the truth inherent in the well known adage, “Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s foreign minister, first used this formula in 1942 as World War II inexorably shifted against the Fascists, and President John F. Kennedy paraphrased it in 1961 after the Bay of Pigs debacle, increasing the number of fathers to one thousand. During the trying times of the past several years, President Bush has often stood alone in Washington, the orphaned architect of what many critics assumed to be a certain defeat, but perhaps he will soon be joined by the city’s skeptics, whose rhetoric will improve as they align themselves with the vast majority of Americans who already believe we can win. Some may view their reaction as cynical, and to a certain extent this is true, but it is also natural, people wish to be linked with success. Welcome the skeptics aboard. What matters in the long run is that we win. When that happens, victory in Mesopotamia will have not one hundred or one thousand, but millions of fathers, American and Iraqi alike, all of whom can take pride in what they have achieved.

— Joseph Morrison Skelly is an academic fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.


Michael Yon
I am in broad agreement with most of the article by O’Hanlon and Pollack and, in fact, have been reporting in writing, on national radio, and most recently on Good Morning America that I have been seeing remarkable positive changes in Iraq.

I asked General Petraeus last night for his opinion of the current situation. General Petraeus responded with: “Our assessment at this point is that we have begun to achieve a degree of momentum on the ground in going after AQI sanctuaries and in disrupting the activities of some of the militia extremists; however, AQI continues to try to reignite ethno-sectarian violence and clearly still has the capability to carry out sensational attacks that cause substantial civilian loss of life. And the militia elements certainly continue to pursue sectarian displacement in certain fault-line areas and to cause trouble in some Shia provinces as well. So there’s clearly considerable work to be done by Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. Beyond that, the spread of Sunni Arab rejection of AQI is very important and is a development on which we are still trying to capitalize beyond Anbar Province, where the effects are already very clear.”

In fact, I have had the feeling for more than a month that top U.S. leadership in Iraq has been being cautious not to show too much optimism at this time. However, I have seen changes with my own eyes in Nineveh, Anbar, and Diyala that are more fundamental than just winning battles. In Nineveh, the enemies of a united Iraq are still strong and vibrant, but the Iraqi army and police in Nineveh clearly are improving faster than the enemy is improving. In other words, the Iraqi Security Forces are winning that particular race. Out in Anbar, the shift actually began to occur last year while Special Forces and other less-than-visible operators, along with conventional forces such as the Marines, began harnessing the mood-shift of the tribes. Whereas in Nineveh the fight has been more like a race and test of endurance, in Anbar the outcome was more like an avalanche. Parts of Diyala, such as Baqubah, witnessed avalanche-like positive changes beginning on June 19 with Operation Arrowhead Ripper. I witnessed the operation and was given full access. However, other areas in Diyala remain serious problems. I have seen firsthand many sectarian issues. There remains civil war in parts of Diyala (largely thanks to AQI). Down in Basra, a completely different problem-set faces the British who themselves are facing tough choices.

Skipping past the blow-by-blow and getting to the bottom line: I sense there has been a fundamental shift in Iraq. One officer called it a “change in the seas,” and I believe his words were accurate. Something has changed. The change is fundamental, and for once seems positive. And so, back to the O’Hanlon-Pollack story in the New York Times, “A War We Just Might Win,” I agree.

— Michael Yon is an independent writer, photographer, and former Green Beret who was embedded in Iraq for nine months in 2005. He has returned to Iraq for 2007 to continue reporting on the war. He is entirely reader supported and publishes his work at www.michaelyon-online.com.
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YWQ5NDkwMDNiMzZhODNlNjdhN2JiM2EyMjQ1N2ZmMWQ=
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #254 on: August 01, 2007, 12:52:18 PM »

Geopolitical Diary: Beyond Borders

Iraq really looks like a mess.

Factions within Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki's party are challenging his position, to the point that his Shiite allies are even reaching out to rival Sunni and Kurdish parties in an effort to depose him. Some Shia in the south -- in a move unrelated to al-Maliki's problems -- have formed a "semi-official" autonomous government that will "at the present time" continue to follow the Iraqi Constitution. Washington is leaking reports that a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq in order to root out Kurdish insurgents is nearly inevitable. And the chief of staff of Iraq's armed forces, Gen. Babaker Zibari, tendered his resignation on Tuesday in protest of what he called consistent political interference in his duties.

Normally, when a country faces a rebellion against its prime minister, the formation of a de facto separatist government, the threat of invasion and resignation of its military chief -- simultaneously, no less -- Stratfor considers it a failed state. But Iraq is a bit of a different animal (and has been a failed state for years) so our assessment is different.

Believe it or not, all of this is actually good news.

Iraq's future is not going to be settled by Iraq's various Sunni, Shiite or Kurdish factions unless outside actors choose to empower them (and even that would be no small task). The locals are all too weak, too fractured and too fratricidal to be able to establish internal control without a huge amount of outside help -- and this assessment extends to the "national" government of al-Maliki as well.

Which means that if Iraq is to have a future, it will be determined either by the independent or collaborative actions of the major outside powers -- the United States and Iran. For the past five years those two states have been at odds over Iraq, but over the past several months fleeting clandestine negotiations have turned public and become substantial. Task lists have been drawn up and implemented, with benchmarks established to demonstrate trust and progress.

Among those tasks and benchmarks is achieving the buy-in of the various Iraqi factions -- by force if necessary -- with the Iranians responsible for the Shia and the Americans responsible for the Sunnis and Kurds. But not everyone likes what Tehran and Washington are cooking up -- and this leads to various, shall we say, objections. Some powers object by challenging the prime minister, others by threatening secession, yet others by backing Kurdish militants or interfering with military operations. The jihadists object by blowing up cheering soccer fans.

Chaos in Iraq is to be expected -- not because it is a failed state (although it is) but because everything is up in the air and a new political and military reality is being imposed by outsiders. Rebellion, violence, institutional failure and confusion are all natural byproducts.

Which means that "progress" -- such as it is in Iraq -- is now not only largely out of the hands of the Iraqis, but also largely outside of Iraq itself. The country's future no longer can be ascertained by reading the local smoke signals, but only by looking at the wider region. It is not so important that some southern Iraq Shia are threatening to break away, but it is critical that the United States is dumping a few tens of billion of dollars in weapons on the region's Sunni states in order to ensure their agreement in Iraq. It is now a side note that the Kurds might shelter Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels from Turkey, and far more critical that Washington might give Ankara a green light to invade northern Iraq to root out the PKK in order to demonstrate to Iran that the United States still has some cards to play.

stratfor.com
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #255 on: August 03, 2007, 11:33:41 AM »

Woof, In the spirit of keeping it real..... Since we no longer have a military presence in Saudi Arabia(to my knowledge) Which by the way was the goal of Bin Laden.
Is it not our underlying goal.....that is not told to the American people.....That we want to establish a long term military strong hold in Iraq....so that by our presence in Iraq/the mideast....we can readily impose our will whenever necassary wink. OR PROTECT OIL......or whatever cheesy
Why do you suppose this is not also communicated to the American people? Just keepin it real grin
                                                                     TG
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #256 on: August 03, 2007, 11:50:43 AM »

Woof Guro Crafty, I just read your post on the members forum.....after making my previous post. undecided
Believe it or not........            TG
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #257 on: August 04, 2007, 10:44:12 AM »

Woof Tom:

All this is a tad confusing.  Are you referring to post #967, 971, 974 or 975 and now that you have read it/them, how does affect what you are saying?

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Howling Dog
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« Reply #258 on: August 04, 2007, 11:33:39 AM »

Woof Guro Crafty, Iam talking about post 975.
                                                   TG
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #259 on: August 04, 2007, 12:45:16 PM »

Concerning whether we are fighting AQ in Iraq, see the following piece from the Left Angeles Times today:

==============

Aided by U.S., militants widen reach
A Sunni group, partners in the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq, is becoming more ambitious. Some fear it can't be trusted.
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Times Staff Writer
August 4, 2007


 
‘Goldmine of Information'
 click to enlargeBAGHDAD — The leader of the Revolutionaries of Amiriya sits in his headquarters in an abandoned high school here, explaining the militant group's latest mission: policing and rebuilding Sunni Muslim neighborhoods.

"We need to return the services to the neighborhoods. Al Qaeda destroyed streets, schools, electricity, even mobile phone towers," said the man known as Abu Abed, or Saif. "They made the people here desperate."

Since partnering with U.S. forces in May to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq in the walled, middle-class west Baghdad neighborhood of Amiriya, the Sunni militant group has broadened its reach to overseeing city services. And it is pushing ambitious plans to police a few other Sunni neighborhoods, against the wishes of the Iraqi army and government, some Sunni leaders and U.S. soldiers, who say the militants can't be trusted.

U.S. military leaders, who have used the same tactic in Al Anbar province, say their goal is to turn the fighters into Iraqi police in areas where the Shiite-dominated security forces aren't trusted, or can't go.

Military commanders acknowledge that there's a risk that the Sunni fighters they're attempting to co-opt could betray them or fuel the country's civil war by turning their arms on Shiite militias such as Al Mahdi army and Badr Organization. But U.S. strategists are betting that giving the Sunni Arab groups a stake in a stable Iraq, and paying them a monthly salary, will quell violence and help U.S. forces repel Al Qaeda in Iraq, one of several high-profile Sunni Arab groups in the insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi forces.

"You make them dependent on you for a paycheck, you take their biometrics; you've got their names, you know where they go for work every day because they work for you," a U.S. diplomat said of the experiment.

"You have got commanders over them. This is a much safer place to be than having these guys out in the wilderness fighting you."

Analysts say the experiment is risky at best.

"They may be infiltrated by the unturned insurgents like Al Qaeda in Iraq and use knowledge gained about American forces and positions to abet attacks on our troops," said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "Most of all, their loyalty to the central government is questionable at best, so you are creating even more warlords and militias in an already confused and volatile situation."

Already, U.S. commanders have begun reining in their new allies.

"You can watch your own neighborhoods, but you can't watch somebody else's neighborhood," U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said he has told tribal leaders in the Taji area north of the capital, where Sunni militias have been enlisted in policing roles.

Saif, the Amiriya Revolutionaries commander, is becoming a power broker of sorts between U.S. forces and Sunni groups eager to assume the same roles in Khadra, Shurta overpass, Haifa Street and Bakriya, and in more mixed neighborhoods such as Adhamiya, Bab al Muadam and Fadil.

"All I need and ask of the U.S. is protection for me and my fighters," he said. "We still apply the law."



'Going undercover'

Last month, the militants, clad in T-shirts and tracksuits and openly toting AK-47 assault rifles, greeted U.S. soldiers visiting the group's headquarters in the former high school.

Saif, 35, looked more like a police detective than a militant, in pressed slacks and a button-down plaid shirt, a gold Iraq pin on his lapel and a black pistol strapped to his right thigh.

Capt. Dustin Mitchell, 30, who serves as a liaison with the group, said he was impressed by their ability to find weapons stockpiles, roadside bombs and Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders.

"It's like going undercover in the police, in civilian clothing. And that's kind of something we can't do as white boys in the U.S. Army," Mitchell said. "It's just a goldmine of information that you ain't going to find anywhere else."

Saif, a former member of Saddam Hussein's military, said many in his group had been members of the 1920 Revolution Brigade and Islamic Army, groups that have fought U.S. forces, Al Qaeda in Iraq and Shiite militias.

Asked whether his men had fought U.S. troops, Saif, with soldiers looking on, smiled.
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"If the door gets broken down and my family is inside, I'm going to defend myself, I'm going to defend my family," he said. "Then I discover he's my friend, that he came from a faraway country to give me freedom."

Saif claims to have killed 22 Al Qaeda in Iraq operatives during two months of working with U.S. forces.

"We are the sons of this neighborhood, of the streets," Saif said. Residents trust them "because they know what kind of morals we have."

Reviews are mixed from U.S. soldiers who have worked with the Revolutionaries of Amiriya.

Sgt. Joe Frye, 31, of Panama City, Panama, has watched them search homes, nimbly traversing streets laced with roadside bombs with a speed and stealth that can't be matched by armored U.S. convoys.

"We've accomplished more in the few weeks working with these guys than in the nine months we've been here," Frye said.

But Lt. Brendan Griswold, 24, says he's seen members of the group, who often patrol in black ski masks, confiscate cars with little cause, a common complaint among Amiriya residents. Other soldiers reported seeing the militants beat suspects with rifle butts during raids.

"I don't like going out with them. I don't trust them," Griswold said during a patrol in Amiriya. "They get a little bit out of control."

Plan is paying off

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dale Kuehl, a West Point graduate whose 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, has provided supplies, ammunition and other aid to the militants, said the partnership was paying off. U.S. and Iraqi casualties, explosions and shootings in Amiriya have dropped in the last three months, military records show, and U.S. and Iraqi troops have detained more suspects, defused more bombs and seized more weapons.

"Even with [the] surge, you can't put a soldier on every street corner," he said. "That's the value of what they do."

Kuehl is trying to persuade Iraqi army leaders to support the group, but those commanders remain critical of the fighters.

"We've been in government four years, and we're not giving weapons to anyone who comes," Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Askari said. "If we don't control those people, they will use their arms against us."

Kuehl acknowledges that as the Revolutionaries of Amiriya grows, the group may abandon plans to join the Iraqi police and become a Sunni counterpoint to the Shiite militias they have long fought.

"The challenge will be trying to keep it under control," Kuehl said of the group. "We do not want this to become another sectarian militia."

The U.S. military collects identifying information from the members, including fingerprints and retina scans, but the fighters are not screened or supervised.

"You don't know how far you can trust them a few months from now," said Sgt. David Alexander, 24, of Amarillo, Texas, stationed in a bombed-out bunker near the group's office. "They're with us now because we have a common goal. But what happens when we kill all the Al Qaeda guys? … If they want to go out and capture somebody for revenge, there's nobody to prevent them from doing that."

Saif seemed to confirm those fears, saying that even as his men become Iraqi police officers, they will continue to go after Shiite militias to avenge dead comrades, including his brothers.

"It is our nature as Iraqis," he said. "We have revenge issues."



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Howling Dog
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« Reply #260 on: August 04, 2007, 01:27:44 PM »

 For me there was never a question of fighting A'Q in Iraq.
My question was/is  at what percentage are we fighting A'Q and what percentage are we figinting Sunni's, Shites and whoever else wants to take a shot at the great Satan.
The subject of the article admitted to figthing American troops.....and even mentioned the fact of defending his home when some one kicks down his door......I'am sure we would all do the same.
Guro Crafty are you for using Milita's like this?
Seems as though there was more than a little concern, by the American counterparts.
Where you encouraged by this story?
                                                             TG
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« Reply #261 on: August 05, 2007, 01:58:58 PM »

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2007/08/05/2007-08-05_i_have_seen_the_horror-2.html?print=1

I have seen the horror

Al Qaeda is guilty of monstrosities in Iraq - no matter what anyone says

MICHAEL YON

Sunday, August 5th 2007, 4:00 AM

Amid all this talk of timetables for the War in Iraq, blurred as they are by a strange lemming-like compulsion to declare the "surge" strategy a failure almost before it actually began, one deadline looms larger with each passing day: It's time for a reckoning with the truth.

The problem is that almost none of those who have cast themselves as truth-tellers have the requisite credibility for the job. The one man who does was told he had only until September to evaluate progress.

I'm not suggesting that I make a worthy substitute for the commanding general, David Petraeus, on this or any subject, but since December of 2004, I have spent roughly a 1½ years on the battlefields of Iraq.

I've traveled alongside American Army and Marines and British forces, from Basra to Mosul and just about anywhere of note in between.

When it comes to Iraq, being there matters because of the massive disconnect between what most Americans think they know about Iraq, and what is actually going on there.

The current controversy about the extent to which Al Qaeda is a threat to peace in Iraq is a case in point. Questions about which group calling itself an offshoot of Al Qaeda is really an offshoot of Al Qaeda is a distraction masquerading as a debate.

Al Qaeda is in Iraq, intentionally inflaming sectarian hostilities, deliberately pushing for full scale civil war. They do this by launching attacks against Shia, Sunni, Kurds and coalition forces. To ensure the attacks provoke counterattacks, they make them particularly gruesome.

Five weeks ago, I came into a village near Baqubah with American and Iraqi soldiers. Al Qaeda had openly stated Baqubah was their worldwide headquarters — indeed, Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed just a short drive away.

Behind the village was a palm grove. I stood there, amid the crushing stench of death, and photographed the remains of decapitated children and murdered adults. I can still smell the rotting corpses of those children.

Clearly, not every terrorist in Iraq is Al Qaeda, but it is Al Qaeda that has been intentionally, openly, brazenly trying to stoke a civil war. As Al Qaeda is now being chased out of regions it once held without serious challenge, their tactics are tinged with desperation.

This may be the greatest miscalculation they've made in their otherwise sophisticated battle for the hearts and minds of locals, and it is one we must exploit.

In fact, some Sunni insurgents who formerly were allies of Al Qaeda have turned on them simply because Al Qaeda has proven it will murder anyone — and in the most horrible ways. One of these groups is called the 1920 Revolution Brigade, which turned on Al Qaeda and joined forces with the U.S.

On July 16, I was with American Army forces, Iraqi Army forces and 1920 fighters when together they went off to hunt Al Qaeda. The 1920s guys were in front of us. They got hit by a bomb that was almost certainly planted by terrorists. A major gunfight ensued.

Anyone who says Al Qaeda is not one of the primary problems in Iraq is simply ignorant of the facts.

I, like everyone else, will have to wait for September's report from Gen. Petraeus before making more definitive judgments. But I know for certain that three things are different in Iraq now from any other time I've seen it.

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.

2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than it was in 2005. It is not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.
3. Gen. Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

And yes, in case there is any room for question, Al Qaeda still is a serious problem in Iraq, one that can be defeated. Until we do, real and lasting security will elude both the Iraqis and us.

Yon is a former Special Forces soldier who later became a writer and a photographer. His work appears in the Weekly Standard, the National Review and on www.michaelyon-online.com  .
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #262 on: August 06, 2007, 07:22:52 PM »

Geopolitical Diary: A Well-Timed Announcement on Iraq

U.S. forces in Iraq said on Sunday they killed the planner of two attacks against the Shiite al-Asakariyah shrine complex during an air strike east of As Samarra on Aug. 2. A U.S. military spokesman identified the top jihadist operative as Haitham Sabah Shaker Mohammed al-Badri, al Qaeda in Iraq's leader in Salahuddin province. Al-Badri is believed to have masterminded the February 2006 attack against the shrine -- which triggered a massive Shiite backlash against Sunnis -- and another attack June 13 that destroyed the shrine's two minarets.

The timing of this announcement is quite telling. It came a day before the third round of direct public U.S.-Iranian talks are set to take place in Baghdad. This round is expected to focus on the composition and agenda of a tripartite security committee created during the second round of talks July 24. At the upcoming meeting, representatives will decide which security officials will represent Washington, Tehran and Baghdad on the committee and how it will accomplish its Herculean tasks. One of these will be to divvy out responsibility for working with those who oppose a U.S.-Iranian settlement. Each side will attempt to rein in the group with which it has the most influence: Iran will take the Shia and the Americans the Sunnis.

Though public distrust has marred past rounds of negotiations, this time might be different -- and not just in its atmospherics. The Americans now are figuratively dropping a head on the table as a token of sincerity. One of the few groups al Qaeda hates more than the Americans is the Shia, who they see as heretics; the Iranians are Shia, and al-Badri was one of the most active al Qaeda operatives working against the sect.

No matter what happens during the Aug. 6 meeting, the Iranians are very interested in ensuring that Sunni political power in Baghdad is limited; even more than they want to eliminate the jihadists, they do not want to see the return of a Saddam Hussein-like figure. That means the Iranians want to make sure the Iraqi military remains a nonoffensive force. This is why the Iranians likely are carefully studying remarks made Sunday by Iraqi air force commander Lt. Gen. Kamal al-Barzanji.

Speaking at a press briefing in Baghdad, al-Barzanji expressed hope that Iran will return some of the scores of Iraqi warplanes that flew to the country ahead of the 1991 Gulf War, meanwhile acknowledging that many of them are probably beyond repair. He added that the Iraqi air force, which has been built up from scratch since 2004, currently has only 45 aircraft -- for transport and reconnaissance -- and helicopters. Additionally, U.S. Brig. Gen. Bob Allardice, commander of the air force transition team, said a program to train new aviators has begun, and that the new air force currently has no offensive capability.

The two most critical issues concerning the Iranians in terms of the future of Iraq are the role of the Baathists and the nature of the Iraqi armed forces -- both of which relate to Iran's national security interests and Tehran's expectation of being able to use Iraq as a launch pad to project its power into the region and beyond in the future. Therefore, the statements from the Iraqi and U.S. air force commanders were hardly a coincidence. On the contrary, they were arranged to coincide with the upcoming talks -- reminding the Iranians that while Washington is willing to offer up mutual enemies as a gesture of trust, it is not without options in Iraq, and it is Tehran's turn to deliver.   stratfor.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #263 on: August 06, 2007, 08:02:47 PM »

Here's some more from Stat.  Worth reading both.

U.S.: The Delicate Diplomatic Dance with Iran
Summary

The United States and Iran held a third round of direct public-level talks Aug. 6 to discuss ways to reach their agreed-upon goals for stability in Iraq. Motivated by the threats to their national interests, both sides are moving forward in their negotiations, but Washington and Tehran must still overcome many hurdles before implementing their plans to establish security and stability in Iraq. Since the United States is representing the Sunnis in these talks, it will have to balance various Sunni factions' demands as it proceeds to deal with Iran.

Analysis

Iranian, Iraqi and U.S. security officials Aug. 6 held the first meeting of a tripartite security committee looking to ease the insurgency in Iraq. The U.S. delegation was led by Marcie Ries, minister-counselor for political and military affairs, and the Iranian delegation was headed by the Foreign Ministry point man on Iraq, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Officials from all three sides described the talks -- which were held in Baghdad and lasted about four hours -- as positive. The same day, Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi and his U.S. counterpart, Ryan Crocker, met in the presence of Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie in his office. Meanwhile, the secular noncommunal Iraqiya List parliamentary bloc, led by former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, temporarily suspended the participation of five of its ministers in the Cabinet. The bloc controls 40 parliamentary seats.

The United States and Iran are making significant progress in their strategic dialogue, as evidenced by the speed of their follow-up meetings since they first participated in the multilateral regional meeting on Iraq's future in Baghdad on March 10. The two sides participated in a second follow-up regional meeting May 4 in Egypt and two ambassadorial-level meetings in Baghdad on May 28 and July 24, and additional meetings are expected.

But when it comes to actually implementing their agreed-upon plans, Iran and the United States continue to face multiple obstacles. The five Iraqiya List ministers' temporary boycott of the Cabinet, which came a few days after six ministers from the main Sunni parliamentary bloc resigned from the Cabinet, symbolizes those obstacles. The Iranians face difficulties in getting the Iraqi Shia to agree to a deal with the United States, because the Iraqi Shia are the most divided communal group in the country.

But the United States, representing Sunni interests -- both those of the Iraqi Sunnis and of the Arab Sunni states in the region -- faces its own set of quandaries because its engagement with the minority community has led to the proliferation of actors in the Sunni political landscape.

That said, the challenges Washington faces from within the Sunni community are not so severe that the Bush administration is forced to pause in its dealings with Iran to address the Sunni concerns. This is because a sufficient number of Sunni players support the United States' efforts -- despite the politicians resigning from the al-Maliki administration. These actors include tribal leaders, Sunni nationalist insurgent elements and senior Sunnis within the security and intelligence apparatuses. In fact, for the purposes of the current stage of talks with Iran, this group of Sunnis is sufficient because the immediate task is to bring security to Iraq. Moreover, the Tawafoq Iraqi Front, the Sunni parliamentary bloc that quit the Cabinet, enjoys some influence among the Sunni insurgents.

Additionally, Iraqi Sunnis and their allies among the Sunni Arab states are not completely comfortable with the United States' taking the lead on dealing with Iran (and, by extension, the Iraqi Shia) on their behalf. Indeed, the Sunnis would like to play a greater role in the tripartite U.S.-Iranian-Iraqi security committee talks to ensure their interests are being addressed. This is why different Sunni actors are reacting differently to Washington and Tehran's progress. One example of this is the incident reported Aug. 6, in which Iraqi Shiite pilgrims with ties to senior officials in Baghdad were beaten by Saudi religious police in Mecca. The Saudis are trying to subvert the U.S.-Iranian talks by creating tensions between Iraq's Shia and Sunnis, but the Saudis do not have the leverage to damage the process extensively.

For now, the United States can afford to move ahead with the Iranians regarding the security talks. Soon, however, Washington will have to attend to the Sunni political principals' grievances. Iran and its Arab Shiite allies in Iraq will change the political situation in Iraq in a bid to limit the political concessions being given to the Sunnis, especially regarding the Sunni demand for a reversal of the de-Baathification policy.

Many Sunni insurgents will not want to silence their guns until they see some progress on the de-Baathification issue. This means Washington will have to get Tehran and its Iraqi Shiite allies to agree to concessions -- a move that is expected to slow the current pace of U.S.-Iranian talks. In the end, each side knows that if there is to be a deal, there will have to be a simultaneous give-and-take between the Shia and the Sunnis involving political and security guarantees.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #264 on: August 07, 2007, 11:56:18 PM »

The Major Diplomatic and Strategic Evolution in Iraq
By George Friedman

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker met Aug. 6 with Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi and Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie. Separately, a committee of Iranian, Iraqi and U.S. officials held its first meeting on Iraqi security, following up on an agreement reached at a July ambassadorial-level meeting.

The U.S. team was headed by Marcie Ries, counselor for political and military affairs at the embassy in Baghdad. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who handles Iraq for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, led the Iranian team. A U.S. Embassy spokesman described the talks as "frank and serious," saying they "focused, as agreed, on security problems in Iraq." Generally, "frank and serious" means nasty, though they probably did get down to the heart of the matter. The participants agreed to hold a second meeting, which means this one didn't blow up.

Longtime Stratfor readers will recall that we have been tracing these Iranian-American talks from the back-channel negotiations to the high-level publicly announced talks, and now to this working group on security. A multilateral regional meeting on Iraq's future was held March 10 in Baghdad, followed by a regional meeting May 4 in Egypt. Then there were ambassadorial-level meetings in Baghdad on May 28 and July 24. Now, not quite two weeks later, the three sides have met again.

That the discussions were frank and serious shouldn't surprise anyone. That they continue in spite of obvious deep tensions between the parties is, in our view, extremely significant. The prior ambassadorial talk lasted about seven hours. The Aug. 6 working group session lasted about four hours. These are not simply courtesy calls. The parties are spending a great deal of time talking about something.

This is not some sort of public relations stunt either. First, neither Washington nor Tehran would bother to help the other's public image. Second, neither side's public image is much helped by these talks anyway. This is the "Great Satan" talking to one-half of what is left of the "Axis of Evil." If ever there were two countries that have reason not to let the world know they are meeting, it is these two. Yet, they are meeting, and they have made the fact public.

The U.S. media have not ignored these meetings, but they have not treated them as what they actually are -- an extraordinary diplomatic and strategic evolution in Iraq. Part of the reason is that the media take their cues from the administration about diplomatic processes. If the administration makes a big deal out of the visit of the Icelandic fisheries minister to Washington, the media will treat it as such. If the administration treats multilevel meetings between Iran and the United States on the future of Iraq in a low-key way, then low-key it is. The same is true for the Iranians, whose media are more directly managed. Iran does not want to make a big deal out of these meetings, and therefore they are not portrayed as significant.

It is understandable that neither Washington nor Tehran would want to draw undue attention to the talks. The people of each country view the other with intense hostility. We are reminded of the political problems faced by Chinese Premier Chou En-lai and U.S. President Richard Nixon when their diplomatic opening became public. The announcement of Nixon's visit to China was psychologically stunning in the United States; it was less so in China only because the Chinese controlled the emphasis placed on the announcement. Both sides had to explain to their publics why they were talking to the mad dogs.

In the end, contrary to conventional wisdom, perception is not reality. The fact that the Americans and the Iranians are downplaying the talks, and that newspapers are not printing banner headlines about them, does not mean the meetings are not vitally important. It simply means that the conventional wisdom, guided by the lack of official exuberance, doesn't know what to make of these talks.

There are three major powers with intense interest in the future of Iraq: the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The United States, having toppled Saddam Hussein, has completely mismanaged the war. Nevertheless, a unilateral withdrawal would create an unacceptable situation in which Iran, possibly competing with Turkey in the North, would become the dominant military power in the region and would be in a position to impose itself at least on southern Iraq -- and potentially all of it. Certainly there would be resistance, but Iran has a large military (even if it is poorly equipped), giving it a decided advantage in controlling a country such as Iraq.

In addition, Iran is not nearly as casualty-averse as the United States. Iran fought a war with Iraq in the 1980s that cost it about a million casualties. The longtime Iranian fear has been that the United States will somehow create a pro-American regime in Baghdad, rearm the Iraqis and thus pose for Iran round two of what was its national nightmare. It is no accident that the day before these meetings, U.S. sources speculated about the possible return of the Iraqi air force to the Iraqis. Washington was playing on Tehran's worst nightmare.

Saudi Arabia's worst nightmare would be watching Iran become the dominant power in Iraq or southern Iraq. It cannot defend itself against Iran, nor does it want to be defended by U.S. troops on Saudi soil. The Saudis want Iraq as a buffer zone between Iran and their oil fields. They opposed the original invasion, fearing just this outcome, but now that the invasion has taken place, they don't want Iran as the ultimate victor. The Saudis, therefore, are playing a complex game, both supporting Sunni co-religionists and criticizing the American presence as an occupation -- yet urgently wanting U.S. troops to remain.

The United States wants to withdraw, though it doesn't see a way out because an outright unilateral withdrawal would set the stage for Iranian domination. At the same time, the United States must have an endgame -- something the next U.S. president will have to deal with.

The Iranians no longer believe the United States is capable of creating a stable, anti-Iranian, pro-American government in Baghdad. Instead, they are terrified the United States will spoil their plans to consolidate influence within Iraq. So, while they are doing everything they can to destabilize the regime, they are negotiating with Washington. The report that three-quarters of U.S. casualties in recent weeks were caused by "rogue" Shiite militia sounds plausible. The United States has reached a level of understanding with some nonjihadist Sunni insurgent groups, many of them Baathist. The Iranians do not want to see this spread -- at least not unless the United States first deals with Tehran. The jihadists, calling themselves al Qaeda in Iraq, do not want this either, and so they have carried out a wave of assassinations of those Sunnis who have aligned with the United States, and they have killed four key aides to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a key Shiite figure.

If this sounds complicated, it is. The United States is fighting Sunnis and Shia, making peace with some Sunnis and encouraging some Shia to split off -- all the time waging an offensive against most everyone. The Iranians support many, but not all, of the Shiite groups in Iraq. In fact, many of the Iraqi Shia have grown quite wary of the Iranians. And for their part, the Saudis are condemning the Americans while hoping they stay -- and supporting Sunnis who might or might not be fighting the Americans.

The situation not only is totally out of hand, but the chance that anyone will come out of it with what they really want is slim. The United States probably will not get a pro-American government and the Iranians probably will not get to impose their will on all or part of Iraq. The Saudis, meanwhile, are feeling themselves being sucked into the Sunni quagmire.

This situation is one of the factors driving the talks.

By no means out of any friendliness, a mutual need is emerging. No one is in control of the situation. No one is likely to get control of the situation in any long-term serious way. It is in the interests of the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia that the Iraq situation stabilize, simply because they cannot predict the outcome -- and the worst-case scenario for each is too frightening to contemplate.

None of the three powers can bring the situation under control. Even by working together, the three will be unable to completely stabilize Iraq and end the violence. But by working together they can increase security to the point that none of their nightmare scenarios comes true. In return, the United States will have to do without a pro-American government in Baghdad and the Iranians will have to forgo having an Iraqi satellite.

Hence, we see a four-hour meeting of Iranian and U.S. security experts on stabilizing the situation in Iraq. Given the little good will between the two countries, defining roles and missions in a stabilization program will require frank and serious talks indeed. Ultimately, however, there is sufficient convergence of interests that holding these talks makes sense.

The missions are clear. The Iranian task will be to suppress the Shiite militias that are unwilling to abide by an agreement -- or any that oppose Iranian domination. Their intelligence in this area is superb and their intelligence and special operations teams have little compunction as to how they act. The Saudi mission will be to underwrite the cost of Sunni acceptance of a political compromise, as well as a Sunni war against the jihadists. Saudi intelligence in this area is pretty good and, while the Saudis do have compunctions, they will gladly give the intelligence to the Americans to work out the problem. The U.S. role will be to impose a government in Baghdad that meets Iran's basic requirements, and to use its forces to grind down the major insurgent and militia groups. This will be a cooperative effort -- meaning whacking Saudi and Iranian friends will be off the table.

No one power can resolve the security crisis in Iraq -- as four years of U.S. efforts there clearly demonstrate. But if the United States and Iran, plus Saudi Arabia, work together -- with no one providing cover for or supplies to targeted groups -- the situation can be brought under what passes for reasonable control in Iraq. More important for the three powers, the United States could draw down its troops to minimal levels much more quickly than is currently being discussed, the Iranians would have a neutral, nonaggressive Iraq on their western border and the Saudis would have a buffer zone from the Iranians. The buffer zone is the key, because what happens in the buffer zone stays in the buffer zone.

The talks in Baghdad are about determining whether there is a way for the United States and Iran to achieve their new mutual goal. The question is whether their fear of the worst-case scenario outweighs their distrust of each other. Then there is the matter of agreeing on the details -- determining the nature of the government in Baghdad, which groups to protect and which to target, how to deal with intelligence sharing and so on.

These talks can fail in any number of ways. More and more, however, the United States and Iran are unable to tolerate their failure. The tremendous complexity of the situation has precluded either side from achieving a successful outcome. They now have to craft the minimal level of failure they can mutually accept.

These talks not only are enormously important but they also are, in some ways, more important than the daily reports on combat and terrorism. If this war ends, it will end because of negotiations like these.

stratfor.com

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DougMacG
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« Reply #265 on: August 09, 2007, 10:44:26 PM »

My comments on the latest Stratfor Iraq post regarding talks between the US, Iran and Saudi: First, I always find them well-informed and insightful. They are certainly correct in pointing out the complexities.

I know they are trying to take a different angle, but it hard to read an analysis in Aug 2007 that doesn't contain the word 'surge'. Also hard to understand how the Saudi Kingdom is a major player when Strat concedes they are no miliatary match for Iran.  Also they might have been the next annexed 'province' of Saddam in 1990-1991 if not for the military of the U.S. Remember "Desert Shield"?

Quoting the last sentence / conclusion of Stratfor: "These talks not only are enormously important but they also are, in some ways, more important than the daily reports on combat and terrorism. If this war ends, it will end because of negotiations like these."

IMO, yes and no.  The 'talks' will succeed only as Iran sees us 'winning' on the ground, not because of mutual interests.  Nothing (again IMO) favors Iran more than a widely publicized and humiliating  American defeat next door.  Specifically, the perception of American quagmire in Iraq is what gives Iran the freedom to speak of wiping Israel off the map and to pursue banned weapons programs without consequence.
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #266 on: August 14, 2007, 03:32:04 PM »

Fighting the "Real" Fight
Foolish myths about al-Qaida in Mesopotamia.
By Christopher Hitchens

Posted Monday, Aug. 13, 2007, at 12:02 PM ET

Over the past few months, I have been debating Roman Catholics who differ from their Eastern Orthodox brethren on the nature of the Trinity, Protestants who are willing to quarrel bitterly with one another about election and predestination, with Jews who cannot concur about a covenant with God, and with Muslims who harbor bitter disagreements over the discrepant interpretations of the Quran. Arcane as these disputes may seem, and much as I relish seeing the faithful fight among themselves, the believers are models of lucidity when compared to the hair-splitting secularists who cannot accept that al-Qaida in Mesopotamia is a branch of al-Qaida itself.

Objections to this self-evident fact take one of two forms. It is argued, first, that there was no such organization before the coalition intervention in Iraq. It is argued, second, that the character of the gang itself is somewhat autonomous from, and even independent of, the original group proclaimed by Osama Bin Laden. These objections sometimes, but not always, amount to the suggestion that the "real" fight against al-Qaida is, or should be, not in Iraq but in Afghanistan. (I say "not always," because many of those who argue the difference are openly hostile to the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as to the presence of coalition soldiers in Iraq.)

The facts as we have them are not at all friendly to this view of the situation, whether it be the "hard" view that al-Qaida terrorism is a "resistance" to Western imperialism or the "soft" view that we have only created the monster in Iraq by intervening there.

The founder of al-Qaida in Mesopotamia was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who we can now gratefully describe as "the late." The first thing to notice about him is that he was in Iraq before we were. The second thing to notice is that he fled to Iraq only because he, and many others like him, had been driven out of Afghanistan. Thus, by the logic of those who say that Afghanistan is the "real" war, he would have been better left as he was. Without the overthrow of the Taliban, he and his collaborators would not have moved to take advantage of the next failed/rogue state. I hope you can spot the simple error of reasoning that is involved in this belief. It also involves the defeatist suggestion—which was very salient in the opposition to the intervention in Afghanistan—that it's pointless to try to crush such people because "others will spring up in their place." Those who take this view should have the courage to stand by it and not invent a straw-man argument.

As it happens, we also know that Zarqawi—who probably considered himself a rival to Bin Laden as well as an ally—wrote from Iraq to Bin Laden and to his henchman Ayman al-Zawahiri and asked for the local "franchise" to call himself the leader of AQM. This dubious honor he was duly awarded. We further know that he authored a plan for the wrecking of the new Iraq: a simple strategy to incite civil murder between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The incredible evil of this proposal, which involved the blowing up of holy places and the assassination of pilgrims, was endorsed from whatever filthy cave these deliberations are conducted in. As a matter of fact, we even know that Zawahiri and his boss once or twice counseled Zarqawi to hold it down a bit, especially on the video-butchery and the excessive zeal in the murder of Shiites. Thus, if there is any distinction to be made between the apple and the tree, it would involve saying that AQM is, if anything, even more virulent and sadistic and nihilistic than its parent body.

And this very observation leads to a second one, which has been well-reported and observed by journalists who are highly skeptical about the invasion. In provinces like Anbar, and in areas of Baghdad, even Sunni militants have turned away in disgust and fear from the AQM forces. It's not difficult to imagine why this is: Try imagining life for a day under the village rule of such depraved and fanatical elements.

To say that the attempt to Talibanize Iraq would not be happening at all if coalition forces were not present is to make two unsafe assumptions and one possibly suicidal one. The first assumption is that the vultures would never have gathered to feast on the decaying cadaver of the Saddamist state, a state that was in a process of implosion well before 2003. All our experience of countries like Somalia and Sudan, and indeed of Afghanistan, argues that such an assumption is idiotic. It is in the absence of international attention that such nightmarish abnormalities flourish. The second assumption is that the harder we fight them, the more such cancers metastasize. This appears to be contradicted by all the experience of Iraq. Fallujah or Baqubah might already have become the centers of an ultra-Taliban ministate, as they at one time threatened to do, whereas now not only have thousands of AQM goons been killed but local opinion appears to have shifted decisively against them and their methods.

The third assumption, deriving from the first two, would be that if coalition forces withdrew, the AQM gangsters would lose their raison d'être and have nothing left to fight for. I think I shall just leave that assumption lying where it belongs: on the damp floor of whatever asylum it is where foolish and wishful opinions find their eventual home.

If I am right about this, an enormous prize is within our reach. We can not only deny the clones of Bin Ladenism a military victory in Iraq, we can also discredit them in the process and in the eyes (and with the help) of a Muslim people who have seen them up close. We can do this, moreover, in a keystone state of the Arab world that guards a chokepoint—the Gulf—in the global economy. As with the case of Afghanistan—where several provinces are currently on a knife-edge between an elected government that at least tries for schools and vaccinations, and the forces of uttermost darkness that seek to negate such things—the struggle will take all our nerve and all our intelligence. But who can argue that it is not the same battle in both cases, and who dares to say that it is not worth fighting?

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
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« Reply #267 on: August 15, 2007, 06:06:41 PM »

The Surge's Short Shelf Life By BOBBY GHOSH
Wed Aug 15, 1:45 PM ET
 
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20070815/wl_time/thesurgesshortshelflife

Hospital officials in northwestern Iraq have told TIME that the death toll from Tuesday's blasts in Qahataniya may exceed 300, making the multiple suicide bombings the deadliest terrorist operation in the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein. One hospital is saying that there are at least 500 bodies and that 375 people are injured. That report, however, cannot yet be verified. The only previous occasion when the toll from concerted attacks has exceeded 200 was last November, when six car-bombs in Baghdad's Sadr City killed 215 people. If the toll in the Qataniya incident grows, it could become the worst terrorist incident since al-Qaeda's September 11, 2001 attack on the U.S. (The Beslan massacre in Russia in September 2004 came to approximately 330, about half of the total children).

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Since then, the massive "surge" of U.S. and Iraqi troops in and around Baghdad has made the Iraqi capital safer than before from such bombings - but terrorist groups have stepped up attacks elsewhere. There have been a number of attacks in northern Iraq, which had enjoyed a long spell of peace before the start of the "surge."


Tuesday's bombings were also a reminder that even successful U.S. military operations can have a short shelf life - a sobering thought for Bush Administration officials and independent analysts who have recently been talking up the successes of the "surge." After all, the area around Qahataniya was the scene of a major anti-insurgent operation barely two years ago. In the fall of 2005, some 8,000 American and Iraqi troops flushed a terrorist group out of the nearby town of Tal Afar in an operation that was a precursor to the "clear, hold and build" strategy that underpins the current "surge." A few months later, President Bush cited Tal Afar as a success story for the U.S. enterprise in Iraq.


There have been several attacks in and around Tal Afar since then; last March, two truck bombs killed more than 100 people in a Shi'ite neighborhood in the town. The bombings in Qahataniya were a deadly reminder that the terrorists have not gone very far away.


The U.S. military said al-Qaeda was the prime suspect; some Iraqi government officials fingered Ansar al-Sunnah, which has links to al-Qaeda and has long been active in northern Iraq. Early reports suggest the majority of the victims were Yazidis, a pre-Islamic sect in Syria and northern Iraq.


Throughout history, Yazidis have faced persecution because an archangel they worship as a representative of God is often identified by Muslims (and some Christians) as Satan. Branded as devil worshipers, they are detested by extremists on both sides of Iraq's sectarian divide.


The Yazidis have their own extremists: earlier this year, members of the community stoned to death a young woman they accused of converting to Sunni Islam to marry her lover. A widely distributed video of the stoning inflamed Sunni sentiments; in retaliation, insurgents executed 23 Yazidi factory workers near Mosul. With reporting by Andrew Lee Butters


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« Reply #268 on: August 16, 2007, 06:30:39 PM »

Tom:

I think this exposition of the why of our strategy is sound.

==========

The World in a nutshell

This is a presentation by Herbert Meyer. He was the first senior U.S. Government official to forecast the Soviet Union's collapse. For this, he awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor that can be received from within intelligence community. This presentation was made to a symposium of Chief Executive Officers of several large international corporations, and as such, is directed at questions and answers for business. However, the points he makes are very much in tune with the points being made in many other discussions in the international political arena, and has some impact on the Shaping and IW issues. The business and demographic sections are pretty good.

U.S. Joint Forces Command, Joint Futures Lab

Subject: Four Major Transformations

"Currently, there are four major transformations that are shaping political, economic and world events. These transformations have profound implications for American business owners, our culture and our way of LIFE. "

1. The War in Iraq

There are three major monotheistic religions in the world: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In the 16th century, Judaism and Christianity reconciled with the modern world. The rabbis, priests and scholars found a way to settle up and pave the way forward. Religion remained at the center of life, church and state became separate. Rule of law, idea of economic liberty, individual rights, human rights all these are defining points of modern Western civilization. These concepts started with the Greeks but didn't take off until the 15th and 16th century when Judaism and Christianity found a way to reconcile with the modern world. When that happened, it unleashed the scientific revolution and the greatest outpouring of art, literature and music the world has ever known.

Islam, which developed in the 7th century, counts millions of Moslems around the world who are normal people. However, there is a radical streak within Islam. When the radicals are in charge, Islam attacks Western civilization. Islam first attacked Western civilization in the 7th century, and later in the 16th and 17th centuries.

By 1683, the Moslems (Turks from the Ottoman Empire) were literally at the gates of Vienna. It was in Vienna that the climatic battle between Islam and Western civilization took place. The West won and went forward. Islam lost and went backward. Interestingly, the date of that battle was September 11. Since them, Islam has not found a way to reconcile with the modern world.

Today, terrorism is the third attack on Western civilization by radical Islam. To deal with terrorism, the U.S. is doing two things. First, units of our armed forces are in 30 countries around the world hunting down terrorist groups and dealing with them. This gets very little publicity. Second we are taking military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are covered relentlessly by the media. People can argue about whether the war in Iraq country-region is right or wrong.

However, the underlying strategy behind the war is to use our military to remove the radicals from power and give the moderates a chance. Our hope is that, over time, the moderates will find a way to bring Islam forward into the 21st century. That's what our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan i all about.

The lesson of 9/11 is that we live in a world where a small number of people can kill a large number of people very quickly. They can use airplanes, bombs, anthrax, chemical weapons or dirty bombs. Even with a first-rate intelligence service (which the U.S. does not have), you can't stop every attack. That means our tolerance for political horseplay has dropped to zero. No longer will we play games with terrorists or weapons of mass destruction.

Most of the instability and horseplay is coming from the Middle East. That's why we have thought that if we could knock out the radicals and give the moderates a chance to hold power; they might find a way to reconcile Islam with the modern world. So when looking at Afghanistan or Iraq, it's important to look for any signs that they are modernizing. For example, women being brought into the workforce and colleges in Afghanistan is good. The Iraqis stumbling toward a constitution is good. People can argue about what the U.S. is doing and how we're doing it, but anything that suggests Islam is finding its way forward is good.
, , ,

Implications Of The Four Transformations:

1. The War in Iraq

In some ways, the war is going very well. Afghanistan and Iraq have the ' start' of a modern government, which is a huge step forward. The Saudis are starting to talk about some good things, while Egypt and Lebanon are beginning to move in a good direction.

A series of revolutions have taken place in countries like Ukraine and Georgia. There will be more of these revolutions for an interesting reason. In every revolution, there comes a point where the dictator turns to the general and says, "Fire into the crowd." If the general fires into the crowd, it stops the revolution. If the general says "No," the revolution is over. Increasingly, the generals are saying "No" because their kids are in the crowd.

Thanks to TV and the Internet, the average 18-year old outside the U.S. is very savvy about what is going on in the world, especially in terms of popular culture. There is a huge global consciousness, and young people around the world want to be a part of it. It is increasingly apparent to them that the miserable government where they live is the only thing standing in their way. More and more, it is the well-educated kids, the children of the generals and the elite, who are leading the revolutions.

At the same time, not all is well with the war. The level of violence in Iraq is much worse and doesn't appear to be improving. It's possible that we're asking too much of Islam all at one time. We're trying to jolt them from the 7th century to the 21st century all at once, which may be further than they can go. They might make it and they might not. Nobody knows for sure. The point is, we don't know how the war will turn out. Anyone who says they know is just guessing.

The real place to watch is Iran. If they actually obtain nuclear weapons it will be a terrible situation. There are two ways to deal with it. The first is a military strike, which will be very difficult. The Iranians have dispersed their nuclear development facilities and put them underground. The U.S. has nuclear weapons that can go under the earth and take out those facilities, but we don't want to do that.

The other way is to separate the radical mullahs from the government, which is the most likely course of action.

Seventy percent of the Iranian population is under 30. They are Moslem but not Arab. They are mostly pro-Western. Many experts think the U.S. should have dealt with Iran before going to war with Iraq. The problem isn't so much the weapons; it's the people who control them. If Iran has a moderate government, the weapons become less of a concern.

We don't know if we will win the war in Iraq. We could lose or win. What we are looking for is any indicator that Islam is moving into the 21st century and stabilizing.

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« Reply #269 on: August 16, 2007, 08:17:35 PM »

I have no problem corupting Islam. I do however feel that radical Islam is more main stream than most care to believe.
I also think we can corrupt a religon just as easy without killing people as we can by killing people(bring in western culture and apeal to the "flesh")
However I have no problem with killing bad guys or radical mullahs or whom ever.
Thats why I think selective targeting would be more effective than flattening countries, like were doing in Iraq.
Two main problems that I have with our "strategy" One is in Iraq......I have no clue what our strategy there is. Petraoues(sp) is already planning a troop drawdown for next year......yet the "surge has just begun huh......Mahliki is hanging out in Iran? I thought he was our guy?
My point is I have no idea what our strategy in Iraq is.

Second in our global war on terror.....we don't go after enough of the big fish hard enough, but we sure make a big deal about taking out low level A'Q.......The old saying cut off the head and the body dies....I think applies well here. 
Theres lots of bodys to fill in for the ones were killing now.......I think it better to get the boss/bosses
                                           TG
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« Reply #270 on: August 17, 2007, 09:34:12 AM »

Tom:

What is the basis for your claim that we are flattening Iraq?

As for what our strategy is, what did you think of the content of my previous post?
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« Reply #271 on: August 17, 2007, 04:55:26 PM »

Guro Crafty, Ok maybe flattening was a bad choice of words, I know we are not carpet bomboing the place,....but every tme we light off a tank or shoot a missle from a helo or any such thing, we are doing some damage to the country and its supporting buildings, homes ect..... let not be naive and say we have'nt left our share of rubble.
Not to mention all the bombs the bad guys are unleashing....like the massive ones that went off this week ....did you see the craters they left? We didn't do that I know......but that was not happening until we got there.
We made Iraq the war zone it is today.....I'am willing to admit that are you?

As for the article yes I think it has merit and good substance.
I'am skeptical about our resolve to see it through, esp in light of our ever changing government, I think Hilllary for exmaple would extend a hug......
I also think the corrupting of Islam if I may call it such, will take a long long time and there will always be the Bin Ladens.
I have said this before. I prefer a more secretive, covert, dirty war.....Its cheaper, quieter and much more out of the public eye.
Plus taking out high value targets I think would result in quicker more favorable results.
Then thats just my opinon....
                                                                             TG
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« Reply #272 on: August 17, 2007, 05:14:42 PM »

Tom , You explained it as well as I think was possible. I was going to answer Crafty that opponents count Al Qaida and insurgent bombings in the damage 'caused' by America.  I frankly don't think that's fair, and I don't believe that any Kurd gassed by Saddam or any Shite 'detainee' from al-Dujaile (http://iraqiholocaust.blogspot.com/2004/07/al-dujail.html), for examples, would agree with the premise that Iraq was a peaceful place before the 'liberators' arrived.
 One account of one massacre from the link (This was later proven in court and Saddam was hanged):
    -"Al-Dujaile is my home town, I always looked at it as god's heaven on earth, it's about 60 kilometers to the north of Baghdad, on the bank of al Ishaki river (a branch of Tigris), inhabited by few thousands, most of whom are farmers, our village is well known by its date palms and grapes, a fascinating nature that takes your breath away, its people are related by strong tribal relations that keep them as one large family.
    - Date: 7/8/1982, Saddam decides to visit the village, the Ba’ath party in the region prepared the people to make a big reception, they took us out of the schools(I was 7 years old). They made us line in a row on both sides of the road to wave for him and cheer his name. It never occurred to me that it would be my last day in the childhood world. I was forced to skip that period of my life with such cruelty that I can not explain.
    -17 of the finest young men in the village had decided to put an end to the tyrant's life at that day, they had the courage to face him, we didn't know about their intention.
    The brave men set an ambush among the palm trees, they couldn't tell which car was his, there were dozens of cars, all identical in model and color.
    -The attack starts, the brave young men open fire from their simple weapons, some of the body guards get killed, others wounded, the tyrant get panicked, imagine that (Saddam is afraid) the man who enjoyed terrorizing people lives a moment of fear with all its details, he was so close to death this time.
    8 of the attackers were killed, the rest fled out of the country.
    (Woe to the sinners) who dared to make him scared, you should fear his revenge, you should learn the lesson so that it won't happen again, you should bow more and more and fear more and more, you should be scared to death so that you don't dare even to think of harming him; the shadow of god on earth.
    -The answer was fast, one hour after the escape of the tyrant, we had to face his anger, I heard the sound of helicopters over our heads wreaking their vengeance upon our small village, backed later with shovels that leveled the trees with the ground, the order was clear(the terror should be great) so that the others would learn.
    I ran away to my home into my mothers' lap, my younger brother and sisters gathered around me, I realized something huge has happened and anticipated the eminent evil. it didn't take long for the security to get to our house, we were taken to the unknown, me, my mother(who was 4 months pregnant), my sisters Einas(5 years), Zeina(3 years)and my brother Mohammed(1 year).
    -The first station in our long journey was Al-Hakimiyah prison that belongs to the intelligence, I found hundreds of my village people, old, young, men, women and children, we were 480 there. Out of whom 80 were relatives of mine.
    It was enough to say the word Hakimiyah for any Iraqi to be completely paralyzed(the one who gets in is a missing-the one who gets out is reborn-this was what we used to say about this prison, the walls of which tell thousands of horror stories that you refuse to believe.
    I was too young to know why we were treated like that, but I sure knew the meaning of being scared to death. The sound of foot steps that stops by the door was enough for every one to freeze, as after that the door would be opened, a name of one of the men would be announced and he would be dragged to the interrogation room to return few hours later unconscious, covered by blood, wrapped in a blanket, and would be thrown on us.
    The women and children had their share, and this is what saw: extraction of nails and teeth, electric shocks, whipping with lashes, using razors to tear the skin into shreds, my aunt was left hanging from the roof after her clothes had been wrapped of her in front of her brothers to force them to talk. Do you know how much pain we suffered? Can you imagine? I doubt it.
    We stayed at Al-Hakimiyah for one month, the space was too small for all of us to sleep, some of us had to stay on their feet so that the others could sleep.
    -After that we were transferred to Abu-Ghraib prison, where we met the men for the last time, after that, the 143 men separated from us and then transferred to another place, as for the rest of us, we were kept in Abu-Ghraib prison for six months, during that time, the day for my mother to deliver her baby came, she had complications and they didn't take her to the hospital until it was too late, the baby died. my mother never if it was a boy or a girl.
    In the prison, 4 people died, my grandfather(Yousif Ya'koob), my uncles wife(Noofa Hasan), the old man(Abdul Wahab Ja'far) and his wife (Sabreya), after that we were transferred to a camp in the desert, near the Iraqi-Saudi borders, 400 kilometers south-west to Baghdad(Leeah camp).
    We spent four years there.
    Four years in hell, we were isolated from the world, all we could do is stay alive and pray for the men whom their destiny was unknown to us.
    We were released in 1986, only for another journey of pain and suffering. We had to start a new life as all our properties were confiscated and we still don’t know anything about the men.
    The other good people in our village helped us, offered us jobs in their lands and a place to stay in. I had to work -with my little brother and sisters- to earn our living and to continue with our study. Farming is too hard a job for children of our age, but we had already passed that stage.
    It’s hard to explain what life is when you're a suspect with the eyes of security agents following you, stifling your breath, making your life even harder and harder, we had to give them all the pennies we could save to get some information about the missing ones, and they always promised us good news, and that our beloved ones were alive and being treated well. we didn't believe that, but what is life without hope!?
    -Sixteen years later...October/2002. I finished medical school and started to practice my job as a doctor in Baghdad. The same year, Saddam suffers a hard time, the USA and the allies tighten the circle around him, he decides to set all prisoners free, including the political. That was what he said, the fact; he released only the murderers and the thieves.
    Our cries lost their way trying to find our relatives among the thousands of faces, each time they reassure us that there would be another group to be released the next day, but all our efforts were in vain, we had no one but god to pray to and seek his help to show us the way.
    Date: 4/9/2003, I can’t believe it, the tyrant falls, is it a dream?
    Does it mean no more fear, no more terror, and no more death? We jumped into the streets wreaking our vengeance on his pictures and statues that surrounded the village he raped in a dark night.
    The towns and villages expelled him and expelled his name……..WE WERE SAVED.
    I took a deep breath, the air had the scent of freedom, nothing can be more beautiful, it’s difficult to describe, but we were overwhelmed by happiness, with only one distress: where had our beloved ones gone?
    We started to search the security departments in Baghdad,- like thousands of Iraqis- looking for a trace, I didn’t take a long time, we found what we were looking for. The documents of the crime, I read with tears in my eyes; the presidency order dated: 7 /23 /1985, signed by the tyrant, ordering the execution of 143 men from Al-Dujaile, the youngest one (Najeeb Abd Kadim) 11 years old. Among these, 35 were relatives of mine.
    God bless your souls martyrs, may you have peace in heaven, if it wasn’t your courage and blood we wouldn’t be proud.
    This is the story behind these photos, my friend. It’s time they have a decent funeral. We haven’t found their remains yet, but they will always remain in our hearts”
    My friend surprised me saying” we don’t regret what happened, and yesterday, when the nine remaining heroes returned to Iraq, we met them with flowers, as the heroes of all the Iraqis, and we will never blame them, as they’re the ones who kept our chins up.”
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« Reply #273 on: August 17, 2007, 05:17:15 PM »

"We made Iraq the war zone it is today.....I'am willing to admit that are you?"

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  IMHO the thought process that comes up with that conclusion is quite unsound.
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« Reply #274 on: August 17, 2007, 05:30:54 PM »

C'mon guys, The Kurd massacares happend 20 years ago. THese things were not going on when we went into Iraq to "liberate" the people.
We brought the war to Iraq.
Lets try to keep it in context with a dash of reality ok.
Besides that Sadaams end of it is done and the death toll is -------- you fill in the blank I have no Idea.
However our death toll is still ongoing with no real end in sight.
I'am not sure Guro Crafty how you view my thought process as unsound.
I think its pretty simple.......Before we went into  Iraq no war there.....after we went in and ever since the country is a ongoing war zone.
Whats unsound about that?
                                                                 TG
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« Reply #275 on: August 17, 2007, 07:47:30 PM »

this seems to be a well written piece......Comments?

http://www.ocnus.net/artman2/publish/Analyses_12/America_s_Illusory_Strategy_in_Iraq.shtml

America's Illusory Strategy in Iraq
By David Gardner, Financial Times 9/8/07
Aug 13, 2007 - 8:49:51 AM

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They will savour the solipsism of a Paul Bremer, the US viceroy whose disbandment of the Iraqi army left 400,000 men destitute and bitter, but armed, trained and prey to the insurgency then taking shape - but whose memoir paints him as a MacArthur of Mesopotamia.
 

  They will be awed by the arrogance and fecklessness of a Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary and theorist of known unknowns, who summed up the descent into anarchy and looting in the hours after Baghdad fell (when, very possibly, Iraq was lost) - "Stuff happens".


But their research will be greatly assisted by the diligence of the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of the US Congress, which keeps on unearthing the bottomless depths of incompetence behind the Bush administration's misconceived adventure in Iraq.

  This week, the GAO reported that the Pentagon cannot account for 110,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 80,000 pistols supposedly supplied to Iraqi security forces - adding to well-founded suspicions that insurgents are using US-supplied arms to attack American and British troops.


This discovery might be considered the mother of all known unknowns, were it not that in March this year the GAO published a drily damning report on the coalition's failure to secure scores upon scores of arms dumps abandoned by the Iraqi army after the 2003 invasion - and that by October last year it had still failed to secure this giant toolbox that keeps the daily slaughter going in Iraq.

  That carnage continues, barely moderated by the "surge" of troops that this week raised US forces to their peak level in Iraq of 162,000 - a last heave that looks destined to be the prelude to withdrawal.

  As a policy it is hard to see how any surge can fix an Iraq so traumatised by tyranny and war and then broken by invasion and occupation. It takes place as an already indecipherable ethnic and sectarian patchwork is being pulled bloodily to pieces. Iraq has reached advanced societal breakdown. Ethnic cleansing proceeds regionally, through neighbourhoods, even street by street.

  There has been a mass exodus of teachers and doctors, civil servants and entrepreneurs, a haemorrhage of Iraq's future. Nearly 4m Iraqis have been uprooted by this cataclysm. Instead of bringing democracy to Iraq and the Arabs, the 2003 invasion has scattered Iraqis across the Middle East - as well as creating laboratory conditions for the urban warfare urged on jihadis by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's strategist. The time to have surged is long since past.

  Politically, there are no institutions, there is no national narrative. Ministries are sectarian booty and factional bastions. The interior ministry, headquarters for several death squads, is, according to the Los Angeles Times, partitioned into factional fiefs on each of its 11 floors - with the seventh floor split between the armed wings of two US-allied groups.


Two ostensibly benign by-products of the US invading Iraq were: the empowerment of the Shia majority there, giving the sect, a dispossessed minority within Islam, rights denied for centuries; and the welcome panic of an ossified Sunni Arab order based on a toxic mix of despotism and social inequity that incubated extremism. But Iraq's Shia politicians seem unwilling to put state above sect. Such is the Sunni, jihadi-abetted backlash, and the intra-Shia fight over the spoils, that the Shia have not so much come into their inheritance as entered a new circle of hell.


The Shia-led government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has ceased to pursue even a communalist agenda, preferring the narrower sectarian interest of his faction of the Da'wa party. With the withdrawal of 17 of 38 members of Mr Maliki's cabinet - including all the Sunnis and two big Shia factions - government has for most practical purposes ceased.


To believe any policy might work in these circumstances - let alone a slow-motion surge - requires heroic optimism. Some of that was placed in Gen David Petraeus, US commander in Iraq. At least until this week.


It turns out those Kalashnikovs went missing on his previous watch, as trainer-in-chief of the still barely existent Iraqi army. Gen Petraeus, a student of counterinsurgency with a PhD from Princeton and a gift for PR, had been lionised for his command of the 101st Airborne division in 2003-04, and especially his "hearts and minds" campaign in the north. After his withdrawal, however, two-thirds of Mosul's security forces defected to the insurgency and the rest went down like fairground ducks. His forces appear not to have noticed, moreover, that Saudi-inspired jihadis had established a bridgehead in Mosul before the war had even started.

  But US commanders seem to have no trouble detecting the hand of Tehran everywhere. This largely evidence-free blaming of serial setbacks on Iranian forces is a bad case of denial. First, the insurgency is overwhelmingly Iraqi and Sunni, built around a new generation of jihadis created by the US invasion. Second, to the extent foreign fighters are involved these have come mostly from US-allied and Sunni Saudi Arabia, not Shia Iran. Third, the lethal roadside bombs with shaped charges that US officials have coated with a spurious veneer of sophistication to prove Iranian provenance are mostly made by Iraqi army-trained engineers - from high explosive looted from those unsecured arms dumps.


Shia Iran has backed a lot of horses in Iraq. If it wished to bring what remains of the country down around US ears it could. It has not done so. The plain fact is that Tehran's main clients in Iraq are the same as Washington's: Mr Maliki's Da'wa and the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq led by Abdelaziz al-Hakim. Iran has bet less on the unpredictable Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army, which has, in any case, largely stood aside during the present troop surge.


So, in sum. Having upturned the Sunni order in Iraq and the Arab world, and hugely enlarged the Shia Islamist power emanating from Iran, the US finds itself dependent on Tehran-aligned forces in Baghdad, yet unable to dismantle the Sunni jihadistan it has created in central and western Iraq. Ignoring its Iraqi allies it is arming Sunni insurgents to fight al-Qaeda. And, by selling them arms rather than settling Palestine it is trying to put together an Arab Sunni alliance (Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) with Israel against Iran. All clear? How can anyone keep a straight face and call this a strategy?


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Howling Dog
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« Reply #276 on: August 18, 2007, 09:16:45 AM »

Tom:

My apologies for not having time at the moment to offer a full reply.  Perhaps tomorrow or Monday.

Marc
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buzwardo
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« Reply #277 on: August 18, 2007, 11:08:41 AM »

How Not to Get Out of Iraq
Max Boot
September 2007
         
       

The current build-up of American forces in Iraq—universally known as the “surge”—was unveiled by President Bush on January 10. The earliest units shipped out in the middle of February, and the full complement of roughly 160,000 troops arrived only in June. Yet, by then, a vociferous chorus of voices back home—consisting mainly of Democrats but also of a growing number of middle-of-the-road Republicans—was already pronouncing the entire operation a failure and demanding a “change of course,” a “new strategy,” a “Plan B.”

Such a new strategy would of course involve not more troops on the ground but fewer, in response to the overwhelming impetus of public opinion to start bringing soldiers home. Nevertheless, while increasingly eager for an end to American involvement in the Iraq war, most legislators have continued to endorse what Senator Richard Lugar, in a much-heralded June speech, declared to be “four primary objectives” in Iraq. These are: “preventing Iraq or any piece of its territory from being used as a safe haven or training ground for terrorists or as a repository or assembly point for weapons of mass destruction”; “preventing the disorder and sectarian violence in Iraq from upsetting wider regional stability”; “preventing Iranian domination of the region”; and “limiting the loss of U.S. credibility.”

That is a very tall order. And so, all summer long, and even as reports surfaced attesting to initial successes of the surge, the search has been on for a plan that could accomplish these goals with a smaller commitment of resources. Does such a plan exist? It is worth surveying the major proposals to see if any of them offers a credible way forward.

_____________


The most dramatic option is simply to leave Iraq—i.e., to bring all the troops home as soon as possible. This is the course advocated by, for example, the New York Times and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson. But even the Times admits that the consequences would likely be unpleasant:

Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the [American] invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.
In any case, there is no simple or safe way rapidly to remove 160,000 troops, 64,000 foreign contractors, 45,000 vehicles, and millions of tons of equipment from a war zone. Estimates from within the American military suggest that an orderly departure would take, at a minimum, 12 to 20 months to accomplish. (In Vietnam, our withdrawal was conducted over four years.) To leave faster than that would require a precipitous abandonment of allies and equipment. U.S. forces would have to fight their way out of the country along Route Tampa, the main supply line to the south, with insurgents determined at every inch of the way to inflict a final humiliation on the defeated superpower. The pell-mell scramble would likely produce traumatic images akin to those of the last helicopter lifting off from a Saigon rooftop in 1975.

In light of this grisly prospect, most advocates of withdrawal suggest a timeline that, they hope, would make our retreat somewhat more orderly. The leading legislation along these lines, co-sponsored by Carl Levin and Jack Reed in the Senate and Ike Skelton in the House, would begin troop withdrawals within 120 days of passage and complete the process by next April. This legislation passed the House in July but was blocked in the Senate by Republicans seeking to give the administration, and General David Petraeus, time to meet the September 15 deadline for an assessment of the surge’s progress.

Under the terms of the Levin-Reed bill, the President would still have the option, even after April 2008, to retain a “limited presence” of troops for various missions yet to be specified. In this, the legislation’s sponsors were following the work of the Iraq Study Group (ISG), whose December 2006 report has become a touchstone for many critics of the war. The ISG, too, called for a general pullout, to culminate if possible by next spring. But even after the withdrawal of “all combat brigades not necessary for force protection,” other U.S. forces, according to the ISG, could be deployed “in units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special-operations teams, and in training, equipping, advising, force protection, and search-and-rescue.”

The ISG made no attempt to estimate how many soldiers would be required to carry out all of the missions in this long wish-list. Neither have most of the politicians who have embraced the ISG’s recommendations. These include Senators Ken Salazar and Lamar Alexander, who have sponsored legislation to implement the findings of the ISG report; two leading Democratic presidential candidates, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; and numerous others, among them centrist Republicans like Senators Olympia Snowe, Pete Domenici, and George Voinovich. The Democrats, in particular, even while assuring their supporters that they will “end the war,” have left themselves wiggle room to keep some troops behind.

Some politicians and analysts have proposed another use for American forces beyond the advisory and commando functions envisioned by the ISG. This is to safeguard Iraq’s borders in the likely event that a civil war erupts following a U.S. withdrawal. As part of such a containment policy, Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution have suggested stationing 50,000 to 70,000 troops on Iraq’s borders. A version of their idea has been endorsed by retired generals Anthony Zinni of the Marine Corps and Charles Wald of the Air Force—and reportedly even by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a leaked memorandum that he wrote before leaving office.

_____________


Aside from leaving behind an unspecified number of troops, most advocates of a U.S. drawdown want to find some diplomatic or political means of lessening the shock of transition. Here again many follow the ISG, which urged the United States to undertake a “new diplomatic offensive” in partnership with a “support group” made up of other states and the United Nations. Senator Hagel, for one, would appoint a UN special envoy to mediate among contending Iraqi factions—advice that the administration is acting upon. Others place the emphasis on reaching an accommodation with neighboring states, especially Syria and Iran. Wesley Clark, the retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate, suggests this could be done by our renouncing the idea of “regime change” in the Middle East.

In the realm of political solutions, a commonly voiced opinion is that Iraq should no longer be conceived of as a single country but partitioned into three entities reflecting Iraqi ethnic divisions: a Kurdish north, a Shiite south, and a Sunni middle. A plan along these lines has been developed by Senator Joseph Biden and Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has been backed with various qualifications by Senators Sam Brownback, Barbara Boxer, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, as well as by commentators like Michael O’Hanlon, Peter Galbraith, and David Brooks.

Further political recommendations have issued from sources associated primarily but not exclusively with the “realist” school of foreign policy. The Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, Time columnist Joe Klein, former Israeli intelligence officer Yossi Alpher, and a few others have proposed ending our support for the current democratically elected government in Baghdad and backing a strongman or junta instead. The strategic analyst Edward Luttwak has suggested that, rather than continuing to police Iraq, we should stand back and allow it to have its civil war, as a necessary and unavoidable prelude to future peace. In order to exercise some influence on the outcome of that struggle, Nikolas Gvosdev, the editor of the National Interest, and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations have advocated that we side openly with the Shiites, “the party that is likely to win the civil war.”

_____________


For the most part, these “ways forward” are not mutually exclusive. All are predicated on a substantial reduction in American troop levels. In evaluating which, if any, is likely to work, we may begin in reverse order by looking at the proposed diplomatic solutions, since they are among the most popular.

It is easy to see why. Who could be against diplomacy and dialogue, as compared with roadside explosions and body bags? Unfortunately, however, even the world’s greatest negotiator would be hard-pressed to resolve the internal conflicts that beset Iraq today. Simply finding interlocutors who can reliably deliver on their promises has been, so far, beyond the capabilities of our most experienced diplomats.

Among Iraq’s major groups, only the Kurds are relatively united, with two major political parties that have been able to work closely together. The Shiites, by contrast, have three major parties that are often at odds (and each of which has its own mutually suspicious factions), while among the Sunnis’ three “moderate” parties and numerous radical groupings, none possesses true credibility as a communal representative. Moreover, even if some kind of deal to end the fighting could be reached with the various leaders in Baghdad, many armed groups operating around the country would almost certainly refuse to abide by its terms.

As if Iraq’s internal divisions were not bad enough, the country’s neighbors, in particular Iran and Syria, have contributed greatly to the current unrest. This is the challenge that the ISG’s “diplomatic offensive” proposes to meet. But how? Iran, according to the ISG report, “should stem the flow of arms and training to Iraq, respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and use its influence over Iraqi Shiite groups to encourage national reconciliation.” Syria, for its part, “should control its border with Iraq to stem the flow of funding, insurgents, and terrorists in and out of Iraq.”

Well, all that would surely be nice. But how exactly are we to convince Syria and Iran that they should do what the Iraq Study Group thinks they should do? The “United States,” says the ISG somewhat redundantly, “should engage directly with Iran and Syria.” There is, however, little reason to think that such talks would yield progress in the desired direction.

In the Iranian case, one indicator of interest—or, more accurately, lack of interest—in negotiations is that on May 28, even as talks were in fact being held in Baghdad between the American and Iranian ambassadors, the Tehran regime was detaining four Iranian-Americans on fabricated charges. Another is that the Iranians have been stepping up the flow of funds, munitions, and trainers to support terrorism in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Both Syria and Iran are also deeply complicit in backing Hamas, Hizballah, and other radical groups working to undermine two other democracies in the Middle East: namely, Israel and Lebanon.

The ISG report suggests that Syria and Iran have an interest in an “Iraq that does not disintegrate and destabilize its neighbors and the region.” That may be so—but not if it means that Iraq emerges as a democratic ally of the United States and an active partner in the war against terrorism. For a terrorism-sponsoring Iranian regime, that would be the worst outcome imaginable. Much better, from the strategic perspective of both Syria and Iran, to continue fomenting chaos in Iraq so as to prevent the emergence of a unified state capable of threatening them.

Syria and especially Iran have been waging a proxy war against the United States in Iraq that could well end with Iran as the dominant player in most of the country. By means of the Jaish al Mahdi and other front groups, Tehran is doing in Iraq what it has already done with Hizballah in Lebanon: expanding its sphere of influence. Why should Ayatollah Khameini and his inner circle voluntarily put a stop to a policy that appears to be achieving their objectives at relatively low cost?

Tehran might veer from its belligerent course if it feared serious military and economic retaliation, ranging from an embargo on refined-petroleum imports to air strikes against the ayatollahs’ nuclear installations. But with a few brave and prophetic exceptions like Senator Joseph Lieberman, who has continued to call attention to Iranian aggression, there is scant political support in the United States for such a tough policy, however justified it may be.

Nor, for that matter, is there significant support for the opposite policy—that is, in paying the substantial bribes that might induce Iran and Syria to change their behavior. That would probably involve, at a minimum, giving the Syrians a free hand to dominate Lebanon and the Iranians a free hand to develop nuclear weapons. The ISG report shied away from recommending such unpalatable concessions. Instead, it proposed a number of incentives that were either insufficient (increased trade and diplomatic relations with the U.S., which Tehran has shown no interest in pursuing) or unobtainable (the unilateral return of the Golan Heights to Syria, which the Israeli government has shown no interest in granting).

The kind of negotiated solution with Iraq’s neighbors envisioned by the ISG and by political figures like Senators Lugar and Clinton would depend on a combination of very enticing carrots and very big sticks. Neither is in the offing.

_____________
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buzwardo
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« Reply #278 on: August 18, 2007, 11:09:40 AM »

What about partitioning Iraq, either into three separate states or into some sort of confederation of regional authorities? Does that offer a better solution?

A degree of federalism in Iraq is obviously a good idea, and one that has been embraced by almost everyone involved in the debate over the war. But the status quo already gives virtually complete autonomy to the Kurdish region and a lesser but still significant amount of autonomy to other provinces. Going significantly beyond this would create major problems, some of which were aptly summarized by the ISG:

Because Iraq’s population is not neatly separated, regional boundaries cannot be easily drawn. All eighteen Iraqi provinces have mixed populations, as do Baghdad and most other major cities in Iraq. A rapid devolution could result in mass population movements, collapse of the Iraqi security forces, strengthening of militias, ethnic cleansing, destabilization of neighboring states, or attempts by neighboring states to dominate Iraqi regions.
To these well-founded warnings, two points should be added. First, most Iraqis do not support partition: in an April poll, only 36 percent said they believed the country would be better off if divided into three or more separate entities. Not unexpectedly, the strongest support for the idea comes from the Kurdish region, while among Iraq’s Arab population there is a countervailing desire to keep the country whole. Even proposals for greater regional autonomy meet a mixed response, with some Shiites in favor but many joining the Sunnis in opposition. It would be hard to impose on Iraqis a solution they do not themselves favor.

Furthermore, even if we could somehow partition Iraq—and no one has put forth a credible plan for splitting up multi-sectarian metropolises like Baghdad and Mosul—it is not at all clear that the resulting mini-states would be any more peaceful or stable than today’s (nominally) unitary polity. At present, there is considerable turmoil in southern and western Iraq even though the former region is almost exclusively Shiite and the latter almost exclusively Sunni. We could expect even tougher struggles for power within individually constituted “Iraqistans,” not to speak of war among the three mini-states themselves. To cite just one potential source of discord: absent some kind of ironclad outside guarantee, no Sunni state, lacking its own natural resources, could possibly trust a Shiite-dominated government to share its oil wealth equitably.

There is one set of conditions under which a partition might indeed make sense and even be stable: if it were to come about as a result of negotiations among the major participants, and if it were enforced by a sizable foreign-troop contingent. The model is Bosnia. But the Dayton Accords ending that conflict were struck only after years of terrible bloodletting that exhausted all of the parties, and even so the agreement depended on a NATO troop presence and a quasi-colonial structure of international governance that are still in place over a decade later.

We are nowhere near such a solution in Iraq, and even if it could be struck it would not accomplish what most advocates of partition want, which is a withdrawal of American troops. On the contrary, a serious partition plan of this kind would require an indefinite, long-term presence by our forces—at least 450,000 soldiers, if we are to have the same troop-to-civilian ratio as in Bosnia. Despite claims to the contrary by Henry Kissinger and others, it is hard to imagine that nations like India or Indonesia would volunteer sizable numbers of their own troops to lessen our burden. They certainly have not done so in the past, notwithstanding considerable American pleading and arm-twisting. Yet without such outside supervision, any de-facto partition would result not in less violence but in a great deal more, at least in the short run.

_____________


What about a new strongman in Baghdad? In the abstract, such a proposal—call it Saddam Lite—cannot be ruled out on moral grounds: a soft authoritarianism would be preferable to today’s violent chaos. But it hardly seems practicable. By definition, a dictator requires the support of a strong army and police force. The Iraqi Security Forces, however, are too weak and too divided to control the country even on behalf of a representative government. Would they be more effective fighting on behalf of a dictator drawn from a single one of Iraq’s sectarian communities? And how would such a strongman gain their allegiance?

The one candidate who has been mentioned for this position is Ayad Allawi, who in 2004-2005 served as Iraq’s (appointed) prime minister. But Allawi appears to enjoy greater support among neighboring Sunni states than in Iraq itself, and there are no grounds for supposing he would be able to win the loyalty of the Iraqi Security Forces, much less use them to impose his diktat on the rest of the country. However ineffectual the Maliki government may be, we would be foolish to repeat the mistake we made in South Vietnam, where the American-sanctioned overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963 resulted in a succession of rulers who proved even less satisfactory.

Then there is the more cold-blooded approach: accepting that nothing can prevent a civil war after most of our troops are gone and, instead of trying to limit the carnage, simply picking a side in the hope that it will prevail. This is indeed practicable, though many Americans might find the consequences hard to stomach. One need only recall the Sunni captives who in 2005 were allegedly tortured in the basement of Iraq’s interior ministry before being rescued by U.S. and Iraqi troops. In a real civil war, such stories would multiply a thousandfold, except that there would be no hope of rescue for those who fell into the hands of sectarian foes. If the U.S. were to back the more numerous Shiites—which in practice would mean backing not only the government but also militias like the Jaish al Mahdi and the Badr Brigade—we would assume a measure of moral complicity in whatever atrocities they might commit.

Moreover, even if the Shiites were to win decisively and rapidly, the outcome, at least in the short term, would likely empower the most radical elements among them, men of the gun like Moqtada al Sadr rather than men of peace like Ayatollah Ali Sistani. It would also signal a major increase in Iranian influence.

But in any case there can be no guarantee of a rapid and decisive victory. As I mentioned earlier, the Shiites, numerous though they are, are split among competing factions that may not cooperate effectively even against a common foe like the Sunnis. For their part, Iraq’s Sunnis possess great skill at unconventional warfare—as we have seen over the past four years—and would enjoy virtually unlimited access to arms and financing from neighboring Sunni states intent on blocking a Shiite takeover.

_____________


A cynical decision to throw in our lot with the Shiites might thus eventuate in a civil conflict that could drag on for years without resolution, and that would have dire consequences for the entire region. In their Brookings study, Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack surveyed three decades’ worth of recent civil wars from Congo to Lebanon. None, they found, was confined within the borders drawn neatly on maps. Such wars export refugees, terrorists, militant ideologies, and economic woes. This fallout destabilizes neighboring states, which in turn usually intervene to limit the damage or to expand their own spheres of influence. In the worst case, Byman and Pollack conclude, such spillover “can have truly catastrophic effects,” and in their opinion Iraq has “all the earmarks” of a worst case. That is easy enough to understand: with its vast oil wealth, there is far more to fight over in Iraq than in Congo or Chechnya.

Instead of backing one side in a civil war, Byman and Pollack therefore advocate a containment approach, to be effectuated by stationing forces along Iraq’s borders. This would presumably be a means of limiting American casualties while still averting the worst consequences of the carnage to come.

But this approach, too, has problems. Even if U.S. troops moved to the periphery, they would have to maintain logistical links to the outside world and undertake patrolling around their bases. Both activities would leave them vulnerable to insurgent attacks. And, as we have seen in the Green Zone in Baghdad, insurgents are becoming adept at “indirect fire”—mortars and rockets—that can surmount the highest walls. As long as U.S. troops remained in Iraq, they would continue to suffer casualties.

If the downside of the containment scenario is clear, its potential benefits are murky. Can we really expect sizable numbers of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq and do nothing while, a few miles away, ethnic cleansing and possibly even genocide are occurring? The “CNN effect”—the impact of lurid pictures of violence being broadcast continually around the world—could be devastating both for the morale of our armed forces and for Americans at home, to say nothing of what it would do to our international standing. In the Islamic world, it would only further reinforce the impression that we care nothing for Muslim lives and that we invaded Iraq only for its oil—the same myths that have fed terrorist recruiting.

A second problem concerns what exactly our troops would do to contain the civil war. Of course they could keep neighboring states from sending conventional troop formations into Iraq. But that is not very likely to happen in any case. Much harder to handle would be the kind of infiltration that already occurs, disguised as part of the normal commercial and tourist traffic in and out of Iraq. If we have not succeeded in stopping terrorists from entering the country today, or from leaving it to train in Iran and then return, smaller troop contingents would have a commensurately smaller chance of success.

And how would this rump U.S. force deal with massive refugee flows? Would it actively intervene to prevent Iraqi civilians from exiting to safety? If not, nearby states—including such American allies as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan—could be swamped with “displaced persons.” But if we stop Iraqis at the border, we would be assuming responsibility for their fate. If we intend to avoid a Srebrenica-style horror, we would have to set up, administer, and protect giant refugee camps—what Byman and Pollack call “catch basins.” Such camps tend to become breeding grounds of extremism and terror. How would our forces react to attempts to organize terrorist groups in them? Would we police the camps from within even while protecting them from without? In that case, we would be forced to undertake exactly the same kind of urban counterinsurgency in which our combat forces are engaged today, from Baquba to Baghdad.

_____________
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buzwardo
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« Reply #279 on: August 18, 2007, 11:10:26 AM »

Finally, there is the ISG’s plan, incorporated in the proposed legislation before the Senate, to use a scaled-down U.S. force for counterterrorist and training missions. As I noted at the outset, advocates of this approach rarely come up with a figure, and when they do it tends to be very small—5,000, 20,000, possibly as many as 40,000 troops. But if such a strategy is to amount to more than a tissue-thin rhetorical cover for a rush to the exits, implementing it would require a much more substantial commitment.

The Center for a New American Security, a centrist Democratic think tank, has released a “phased transition plan” by James Miller and Shawn Brimley that calls for 60,000 troops to remain in Iraq at the end of 2008 to carry out the tasks in question over the next three or four years. The figure would reflect a big decrease in combat strength and a big increase in adviser strength, with the latter climbing from today’s level of fewer than 5,000 embedded advisers to 20,000 or so.

Creating that many advisers would require breaking up at least eight Brigade Combat Teams (out of the Army’s total of 43) in order to make use of their officers and NCO’s—something that cannot be done while the surge is going on and every available brigade is needed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Those advisers, in turn, would need a substantial support structure to keep them fed and supplied; aircraft to provide firepower as well as a means of transportation, surveillance, and medical evacuation; doctors and nurses to tend to their injuries; and Quick Reaction Forces to bail them out of trouble. The figure of 60,000 personnel would thus appear to be a very bare-bones estimate indeed.

Bing West and Owen West, a father-son team of distinguished Marine veterans, have come out with their own, slightly more robust version of this plan. They write in Slate:

A full-fledged Plan B would leave about 80,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in 2009, about half as many as will be in-country at the height of the surge. The adviser corps would nearly quadruple, to 20,000 troops, with another 25,000 in four combat brigades and special-forces units, plus 30,000 logistics troops. Another 5,000 Americans will live on the grounds of the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad, where they will rarely venture out. A comparative handful of American diplomats, called Provincial Reconstruction Teams, currently live with U.S. brigades. Far more are needed. Another 15,000 American contractors would provide security and training functions, up from 10,000 today. In addition, the number of foreign contractors who provide food and logistics to the U.S. military would remain steady at 90,000, or drop.
The Wests propose to maintain this deployment for at least a decade.

The West plan assuredly provides a greater margin of safety than the proposal from the Center for a New American Security. But it also dramatically underlines the fact that a realistic Plan B focused on counter-terrorism and advising cannot at the same time achieve the departure of “all” or “almost all” or perhaps even “most” U.S. troops any time soon, as is demanded by a large section of the American public.

Even if implemented along the Wests’ tough lines, moreover, such a strategy would remain a very iffy proposition in Iraq’s current security environment. Rapidly downsizing from today’s 160,000 troops to 80,000 or fewer would risk a collapse of the Iraqi Security Forces and indeed of the country’s entire government. Over the past several years, in one form or another, we repeatedly tried to implement a strategy of “as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down,” and just as repeatedly we learned that the Iraqis on their own were incapable of standing up. Even with advisers to help them, they found themselves hopelessly outmatched by the world’s most deadly and depraved terrorists. That is why in 2006, before the surge, Iraq was on the brink of all-out civil war.

Adviser strategies work best in countries, like El Salvador in the 1980’s or the Philippines in the 1950’s, where longstanding and robust military services already exist. That has not been the case in Iraq ever since we demolished the Iraqi security infrastructure in 2003. In such a situation, leaving behind a small number of American advisers would place both them and the Iraqis in real jeopardy, no matter how many Quick Reaction Forces were standing by. Advisers, after all, would not be able to stay on giant bases. To do their job properly, they would have to operate alongside Iraqi troops in the field. Casualties would be inevitable, perhaps even as many as we are suffering today.

The use of Special Operations Forces (SOF) under these conditions—included in the ISG plan and vigorously advocated by Congressman Jack Murtha and others—would also run high risks, again with uncertain payoffs. Such forces have had little enough success against terrorists in unfriendly states like Iran and Syria, or even in politically ambivalent states like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In order to be effective, special operators must have access to good intelligence that can only be generated on the ground. They also need a permissive political climate, allowing them to swoop in without worrying about diplomatic ramifications, plus a relatively high degree of assurance that substantial rescue forces are available to bail them out of a jam.

All of those fortuitous conditions exist today in Iraq, allowing our SOF raiders to roll up more jihadist desperados there than anywhere else in the world. But even so there are heavy limitations on what the most skilled special operators can accomplish. The presence in Iraq of the Joint Special Operations Command—comprising Delta Force, SEAL’s, and other “Tier 1” operators—has not prevented terrorists at various times from turning cities like Falluja and Baquba into redoubts of horror.

A recent Los Angeles Times article summarizes what U.S. troops found in Baquba when our forces finally stormed the city:

For more than a year, hundreds of masked gunmen loyal to al Qaeda cruised this capital of their self-declared state, hauling Shiite Muslims from their homes and leaving bodies in the dusty, trash-strewn streets.

They set up a religious court and prisons, aid stations and food stores. And they imposed their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam on a population that was mostly too poor to flee and too terrified to resist.



If Special Operations Forces could not prevent the establishment under their noses of a Taliban-style “Islamic state” in Baquba during the past year, how much luck would they have operating from Kuwait or the Kurdish region, as suggested by proponents of this approach? It would be like trying to police Boston from Washington, D.C.

_____________


If none of these strategies holds out a serious hope of success, what, then, does? Time and again in Iraq, we have seen that substantial ground forces, if properly employed, can indeed rout terrorists. Consider the success of offensives since 2004 in Falluja, Najaf, Tal Afar, Qaim, Hit, Ramadi, and Baquba. In the past, the problem with many of these operations was that we lacked enough troops to sustain a long-term presence after taking the city. Now, as a combined result of the surge, greater cooperation from Iraqi tribes, and more effective Iraqi fighting forces, we may finally have gathered enough strength to execute, at least in some critical locales, all phases of the “clear, hold, and build” approach that is at the heart of successful counterinsurgency warfare.

It would be extremely short-sighted if, as a result of war-weariness, we were to abort this classic strategy before it has had a chance to be fully implemented. As I noted at the outset, early signs have been positive: U.S. and Iraqi troops have been reducing violence in Baghdad and surrounding areas. In late July, returning from an eight-day visit to the front lines, Kenneth Pollack and his Brookings colleague Michael O’Hanlon, both of whom have been harshly critical of the administration’s “miserable handling of Iraq,” reported in a widely cited New York Times op-ed that they were “surprised by the gains” being made. “We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms,” they wrote.

But counterinsurgency operations cannot be concluded as swiftly as an armored blitzkrieg. This is not a three-day or three-week or three-month offensive. It will take up to a year to see if current operations are bearing fruit.

The strain on U.S. forces, especially the army, is great. Nevertheless, the current force level can be maintained through at least the spring of next year. Thereafter, we could begin to draw down troops at the rate of one brigade a month until August, when we would be down to a pre-surge force of 15 Brigade Combat Teams or about 140,000 troops. This, assuming we stick with the current schedule of 15-month tours of duty, could then be maintained through 2009, with adjustments up or down at the recommendation of General Petraeus.

While soldiers in Iraq naturally yearn for home, morale remains high, reenlistment rates are at record levels, and troops in the field often express to visitors their desire to “finish the job.” Advocates of withdrawal who claim to speak for the men and women in camouflage are not listening to what most of them actually say. Nor do they consider the implications of pulling them out in defeat. Coming on the heels of so many years of hard work and sacrifice, a political decision to give up the fight would have a devastating impact on morale in the armed forces, no doubt leading, as it did after the Vietnam war, to an exodus of veteran NCO’s and junior officers. That could negate one of the supposed benefits of withdrawal—namely, an immediate improvement in our military readiness to deal with other crises around the world.

_____________


This is not an argument for staying in Iraq at current levels indefinitely. Sooner or later, we will have to draw down our forces. It therefore makes sense to undertake now the kind of detailed planning that will be needed to effect a transition to a smaller force, perhaps 80,000 to 100,000 strong. Assuming sufficient political support at home—and that is by no means inconceivable, if the situation on the ground continues to improve— such a force could remain in Iraq for many years, focusing, as the ISG proposed, on tasks like advising local security forces and hunting down terrorists. But while the ISG approach makes sense in the long term, moving to a smaller force right now, as so many critics of the administration urge, would constitute an unacceptable risk.

The more security that our “surge” forces create and consolidate today, the greater the probability that a transition will work tomorrow. If we start withdrawing troops regardless of the consequences, we will not only put our remaining soldiers at greater risk but, as things inevitably turn nastier, imperil public support for any level of commitment, whether at 160,000 or 60,000.

Notwithstanding some positive preliminary results, the surge might still fail in the long run if Iraqis prove incapable of reaching political compromises even in a more secure environment. But, for all its faults and weaknesses, the surge is the least bad option we have. Its opponents, by contrast, have been loudly trying to beat something with nothing. If they do not like President Bush’s chosen strategy, the onus is on them to propose a credible alternative that could avert what would in all probability be the most serious military defeat in our history. So far, they have come up empty.

—August 8, 2007

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/cm/main/viewArticle.html?id=10920&page=all
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DougMacG
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« Reply #280 on: August 18, 2007, 03:31:58 PM »

Replying to the David Gardner piece - since you asked for comments Smiley, I found it loaded with bias and sloppy with facts.  For example, quoting Gardner: "After his (Petraeus) withdrawal, however,two-thirds of Mosul's security forces defected to the insurgency and the rest went down like fairground ducks. His forces appear not to have noticed, moreover, that Saudi-inspired jihadis had established a bridgehead in Mosul before the war had even started."  Sounds a bit overstated and I thought there was no foreign fighter or jihad movement in Iraq before America broke the 'peace'.  The same people also criticize us when former insurgents join the security forces.  He rips Rumsfeld, Bremer, Maliki and Petraeus.  Really everyone it seems except terrorists and suicide bombers.

When I smell bias like that I look for other writings. What Israel built on Israeli land he called illegal settlements. He says Hizbollah was born to parents of Israel and US for our sponsorship of their aggression and that Arafat led a cause of terror because he "felt swindled" in Oslo: http://www.christusrex.org/www1/news/ft-8-6-06a.html
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #281 on: August 18, 2007, 04:16:32 PM »

Doug, Thanks for your response. I honsetly know nothing of this writer and happend upon this piece while searching for articles concerning our strategy in Iraq.
Bias I can deal with. You have to admit a lot of articles posted here are loaded with bias.
What you don't seem to do is argue that at least in some context this mans article is for the most part true....even if it is "overstated or sloppy with the facts"
I mean you didn't argue any part of this article to be a lie or do you?
See.....We accuse the liberal media of onley reporting on the negatives of the war......but yet their stories are also true, something we seem to have a hard time accepting.
How about those 110,000 ak47's and the 80,000 pistols that we lost....
There in lies my biggest gripe about the war in Iraq.....incompitance and a resolve to win.....
My idea of how we should have proceeded with this war is.......Since we opted to go in, in mass we should have put that country in lock down and slowley opened it up as peace was restored.....this we should have done from the start we never did and even with the TOO LATE surge were still not committed to a total war.
You can't fight a war onley going half way and expect to win.
I think we could have won....or could win....but we would have to get real mean and bloody....and we are not willing to do this.....so we will lose.
In closing let me ask you a question........after 4years or however long weve been in Iraq.....Are you satisfied with how things have gone and are going....and do you think its been worth the money, the lives of both American and Iraqi's and the cost thats yet to be paid....in additional lives and the rebuilding of Iraq aftter this is someday over?
Let me additionally ask you what is considered a victory in Iraq?                                                             TG
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« Reply #282 on: August 18, 2007, 07:12:07 PM »

Tom, Results out of Iraq are mixed and changing.  Yes, I meant bias in the context that we all have some. The difference in my mind is that most proponents don't intentionally tout successes or justifications without acknowledging the enormous costs, risks, sacrifices and setbacks. Admittedly, they sometimes go unspoken. I get the impression from writers like this that we are the purveyors of evil or just bumbling idiots.

Anyway, I would look to critics and opponents for details on alternative strategies; Buzz's post above is a great example.  Details on our actual, current strategies are harder to get accurately because they can't tell us everything without also telling everyone else.  Still I find recent posts with Petraeus in his own words helpful as well as accounts from certain reporters who are close to the commanders and the battles.

Do I agree "at least in some context this mans article is for the most part true"? -  No, I certainly don't think he made his case that Petraeus is either incompetent or lacks the will to win or that someone else could easily do better what Maliki is trying to do.  We were wrong to think this would be easier.

"you didn't argue any part of this article to be a lie or do you?  See...We accuse the liberal media of only reporting on the negatives of the war."  -  No, not lies, just not telling a big enough picture to give an accurate picture.  He seems unaware of recent progress or recent strategies though he is no doubt more informed than I am about mistakes made by Rumsfeld etc. in the past, in hindsight.  I resent the attack on Bremer.  I agree putting an American in charge was a mistake.  I agree Bremer made mistakes, in hindsight.  Those were tough decisions with compelling reasons on both sides.  Far as I know he was a brave, tough American who did his best and risked his life when asked to serve.

I really don't appreciate the slam on Petraeus while he commands troops in harm's way.  If this author is correct and Petraeus is later determined to be a bum, then I guess the author will have bragging rights.  In the meantime, who knows what harm that does.  My guess is that the negativity plays a role in the suicides and helps keep up the spirits of the surviving enemy who is also having a long, tough war.  If this mission were viewed as worthwhile and heroic these soldiers might be better able to live with the gruesome details they experience.

"How about those 110,000 ak47's and the 80,000 pistols that we lost...."  - The wording doesn't sound like it came from someone who knows exactly what happened.  Not long ago I twice drove over an 8-lane, 2000 ft. bridge within 3 hours of it tumbling into the Mississippi.  The next evening I walked into a dinner by chance with the  Republican leader of the statehouse who said off the record that the recently turned down state gas tax increase would now be a reality because of this (in addition to a likely Federal increase) even though no proposed repair or replacement was turned down for lack of funding and even though we don't even yet know the cause of the collapse.  Tom, I don't know what happened to the guns.  Unless it's an accounting error, it's a potentially negative development (understatement).  If your question is whether I think this negative development, if true, bolsters the case for the other, all-negative conclusions - I would have to say no.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #283 on: August 18, 2007, 10:30:21 PM »

Doug, One mans terrorist is another mans patriot. I'am sure there are many in Iraq who view Bush as a terrorist. Certainly many here in the U.S. view him as a bumbling idiot.
concerning your 2nd paragragh and strategy,also going along with the questions I asked you at the end of my last post.....how do you feel about our strategy over the last 4 years? Past history is ussally quite telling(generally speaking)

As far as Paterous and doing better....I have full confidence in his ability, although I also beleive his power is limited and just another Washington yes man......Mahliki is showing signs of being a back stabber....certainly hes proven to be impotent at the very least with stronger ties to tribe than country.....lets not forget hes got no Sunni's in his gov. at this time.

I'am not about slamming our military or its leaders certainly not the troops nor am I about undermining them in anyway.
They perform briliantly when allowed to perform.....

As for the 110,000 ak 47's and the 80,000 pistols....I think we both know that its not an accounting error, and we both know that weve failed to secure weapons dumps in the past......I'am not looking to bolster any negative conclusions.....just as to weather it happend or not and where the weapons went.
Evidently there must be some substance  to it.

I think neither you nor I know what the strategy in Iraq is.....you made  evident of it by stating that we are not told everything so that our enemy dosen't find it out also wink
I onley hope that somebody does know what it is. grin
You also did not answer my question as to what would be considered a"victory" in Iraq.
I guess we can say we got Saddam.....thats a good thing.....
I guess by some reports we did draw in lots of AQ into the country to kill.....though I'am not totally sure how we identify dead as AQ.....since we are the onley ones in uniform.......do they have AQ ID cards?
I still have to scratch my head in confusion since we wrong in our reasons for going into Iraq.....at least the ones stated to the American people.....no I'am not dragging up WMD again.....but that was the reason...and its pretty evident that a free and democratic society is pretty much out the window.......
We spoke about the Sadaam/Kurd thing yesterday as I stated that was at least twenty years past history.
I just sit here and try to think why we are really in Iraq....going back to prior to our invasion.......I don't think we can justify that Iraq was a state sponser of terror....cause we could do that with most of the mideast. Certainly thats not grounds for a all out invvasion of country and over thorw of its government
I guess I kinda got a problem with expending our military our money and resources and the damage weve done to Iraq and its people....just to take Saddaam from power........Oh yea and all the low level AQ weve killed as well as Sunni's and Shittes.....speaking of which do you think that some of those(Sunni's and Shittes) that we kill would be considered patriots by some of thier own people.....? How about Sadr.....terrorist or patriot?
Hopefully we can pull something good out of this Iraq thingy.....at this point I have to say it just has not been worth it.
Do you think its been worth it so far.....I think I asked you this also in my last post.
                                                                  TG
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #284 on: August 19, 2007, 11:51:36 AM »

I have been trying to stimulate some conversation from some of the "hawks" that fly this forum....so far not much has transpired....I do thank Doug for engaging me....with practical reasoning.
While I await his response from my previous post I did a little googling over this missing weapons supplied by us to the Iraqis.....
A little googling was all that was needed evidently this is more widley known than I thought.
Heres what I found.....missing 110,000 ak47's from a190,000 supplied by us to train Iraqi troops, also missing 80,000 pistols 80,000 pieces of body armor and 25,000 helmets.
Who got them? apparently troops we trained who defected to the other side.....there in lies the problem in Iraq. We are trying to help people who don't like us(understatement) or even want our help....
I think we have little to complain about when it comes to Iran supplying arms to Iraqi's when weve lost the numbers of military hardware thats been reported.....forget what we don't know to be missing. tongue
Heres another intresting piece of info I found out......GENERAL PATREOUS was leading the security training when these weapons came up missing.......good to know hes now leading the whole show. rolleyes
Will wonders never cease.
If your a military carreer guy I guess its a good for business to train those who want to kill you.....guess the deal would be don't teach them toooo much. shocked
 WHO ARE WE FIGHTING AGAIN? undecided                                                                      TG

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Howling Dog
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« Reply #285 on: August 23, 2007, 08:04:32 PM »

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/...146880,00.html

An Iraqi man saved the lives of four U.S. Soldiers and eight civilians when he intercepted a suicide bomber during a Concerned Citizens meeting in the town of al-Arafia Aug. 18.

The incident occurred while Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, were talking with members of the al-Arafia Concerned Citizens, a volunteer community group, at a member’s house.

"I was about 12 feet away when the bomber came around the corner," said Staff Sgt. Sean Kane, of Los Altos, Calif., acting platoon sergeant of Troop B, 3-1 Cav. "I was about to engage when he jumped in front of us and intercepted the bomber as he ran toward us. As he pushed him away, the bomb went off."

The citizen’s actions saved the lives of four U.S. Soldiers and eight civilians.

Kane felt the loss personally because he had met and interacted with his rescuer many times before the incident.

"He was high-spirited and really believed what the group (Concerned Citizens) was doing," Kane said. "I have no doubt the bomber was trying to kill American Soldiers. It was very calculated the way the bomber tried to do it. If he hadn’t intercepted him, there is no telling how bad it could have been."

Kane believes the citizen is a hero.

"He could have run behind us or away from us, but he made the decision to sacrifice himself to protect everyone. Having talked with his father, I was told that even if he would have known the outcome before hand, he wouldn’t have acted differently."

Capt. Brian Gilbert, of Boise, Idaho, the commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, currently attached to 3-1 Cavalry, echoed Kane’s sentiment.

"I spoke with the father," Gilbert said. "He said he has no remorse in his son’s death because he died saving American Soldiers."

Later that night, the Concerned Citizens group contacted the local National Police director, Lt. Col. Samir, with the location of the al-Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the attack. The National Police immediately conducted a raid that resulted in four arrests.

Despite the citizen’s death, Gilbert is encouraged by the cooperation between citizens and the Iraqi National Police.

"The effort of the Concerned Citizens group has made the area much safer," he said. "They are proud of who they are and their area, and want to get rid of the terrorists in their area."

Gilbert also praised the Iraqi National Police’s role in eliminating insurgents in the area.

"The cooperation between them and the Concerned Citizens has been key," Gilbert said. "The NP has done a great job of responding to the tips they have been given by the group."

Gilbert said he believes the area is improving because of the efforts of local citizens. The death, while unfortunate, demonstrated how close many in the area have become with the American Soldiers operating there.

"I consider many in the town friends, and I know they feel the same," Gilbert said. "This is a tough situation, but we’ll move on and try to prevent things like this from happening again. I’ve talked with his family and told them how brave their son was. This is a huge loss for everyone involved."
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #286 on: August 23, 2007, 08:58:50 PM »

Powerhouse GOP firm working to undermine Iraqi PM

By Ed Henry
CNN White House Correspondent

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- A powerhouse Republican lobbying firm with close ties to the White House has begun a public campaign to undermine the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, CNN has confirmed.

This comes as President Bush is publicly taking great pains to reiterate his support for the embattled Iraqi leader.

Al-Maliki's government has come under sharp criticism and scrutiny from Washington lawmakers and officials, as reflected in Thursday's National Intelligence Estimate.

A senior Bush administration official told CNN the White House is aware of the lobbying campaign by Barbour Griffith & Rogers because the firm is "blasting e-mails all over town" criticizing al-Maliki and promoting the firm's client, former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, as an alternative to al-Maliki.

But the senior administration official insisted that White House officials have "absolutely no involvement" in the campaign to remove al-Maliki, nor have they given it their blessing.

"There's just no connection whatsoever," the official said. "There's absolutely no involvement."

When asked whether the White House will ask the prominent Republican lobbying firm to stop lashing out at al-Maliki, the official said, "I don't rule it out."

Pressed on why allies of the White House would be contradicting the president publicly, the senior administration official said of the lobbyists, "They're making a lot of money."

And National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told CNN the Bush administration continues to support al-Maliki and the Iraqi Presidency Council, "and we'll continue to work with them on the best way forward in Iraq."

"I don't think they asked the White House before they signed their contract with Mr. Allawi," he said.

Asked earlier why Republican lobbyists would want to undercut the administration's public statements, Johndroe said, "Maybe it's a really good contract."

The lobbying firm boasts the services of two onetime foreign policy hands of President Bush: Ambassador Robert Blackwill, the former deputy national security adviser who was Bush's envoy to Iraq and helped form Allawi's interim government in 2004, and Philip Zelikow, former counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Ingrid Henick, a vice president for Barbour Griffith & Rogers, confirmed the firm has signed a contract to "provide strategic counsel for and on behalf of Dr. Allawi."

Henick refused to comment on why such a prominent Republican firm would work to hurt al-Maliki, whom President Bush has repeatedly backed as the best hope for forging political reconciliation in Iraq.

According to an e-mail obtained by CNN, Barbour Griffith & Rogers sent a mass message Tuesday to congressional staffers with the subject line, "A New Leader in Iraq," promoting Allawi as a potential successor to al-Maliki.

"Please see today's news items regarding the increased skepticism of the Maliki government in The New York Times (embedded), The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal (attached), along with a joint statement made by Sens. Carl Levin and John Warner," the e-mail said.

A second e-mail from the lobbying firm sent congressional staffers a copy of a recent Washington Post op-ed column by Allawi that said Iraq will fall apart unless al-Maliki is forced out of power.

The outlines of the lobbying campaign were first reported by the news blog Iraqslogger.com.

The lobbying e-mails were sent Tuesday, the day after Levin called for the ouster of al-Maliki upon returning from an official trip to Iraq with Warner. Also on Tuesday, Bush appeared to be softening his support for al-Maliki at a news conference by expressing frustration with the pace of progress by the Iraqi government.

But on Wednesday, upset by media reports asserting he was backing away from the Iraqi leader, Bush clarified in a speech, "Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job, and I support him."

The e-mails to congressional staffers came from the e-mail address DrAyadAllawi@Allawi-for-Iraq.com.

But the bottom of the e-mail added this note of disclosure to congressional aides: "Barbour Griffith & Rogers, LLC has filed registration statements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act with regard to its representation and dissemination of information on behalf of Dr. Ayad Allawi."

"Yes, in fact, we recently filed forms with FARA," Henick told CNN.

But she would not provide details of the filing, which will reveal how much money the firm is making on the account and other details, because the Justice Department has not yet made the documents public.

Henick added that beyond the e-mails, the firm will also be directly lobbying members of the "U.S. government, Congress, the media and opinion leaders" on behalf of Allawi.

One Republican congressional aide who received the e-mails this week expressed surprise that a lobbying firm with such close ties to the White House would attack al-Maliki at such a pivotal time on the debate over the war, just weeks before Bush provides a progress report to the nation.

The lobbying firm was founded by conservative stalwarts Haley Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chairman and current governor of Mississippi; Lanny Griffith, who worked for the administration of former President George H.W. Bush; and Ed Rogers, an aide to former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush.

The official from the current Bush administration dismissed the effort, saying that there's a "lot of lobbying" on various issues and that the campaign against al-Maliki is just a "bunch of noise in Washington, D.C."
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #287 on: August 23, 2007, 09:00:07 PM »

Sen. Warner: Iraq pullout should start in weeks

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The influential former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has called on President Bush to start the process of bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq in September.

Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican, said Thursday that a pullout was needed to spur Iraqi leaders to action.

He has recommended Bush announce the beginning of a U.S. withdrawal in mid-September, after a report is released from the top U.S. officials in Iraq, and that those troops should be back in the United States by Christmas.

"In my humble judgment, that would get everyone's attention -- the attention that is not being paid at this time," Warner said.

He added: "I really, firmly believe the Iraqi government, under the leadership of Prime Minister [Nuri] al-Maliki, let our troops down." VideoWatch Warner say he wants Bush to send a 'sharp' message »

In Texas, where Bush is on vacation, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the White House appreciated Warner's advice. But he said the president would wait for the recommendations of Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and the American ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, before making any decisions.

"That will be the time, in September, to hear these reports and then make decisions about the way ahead," Johndroe said.

But he added, "I don't think that the president feels any differently about setting a specific timetable for withdrawal."

Warner opposed Bush's January decision to send nearly 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq. But he has so far also opposed Democratic efforts to force Bush to start bringing U.S. troops home.

The "surge" campaign was aimed at buying time for Iraq's government to reach a political solution to the sectarian and insurgent warfare that has racked the country since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

The U.S. intelligence community's latest report on Iraq, released Thursday, found "measurable but uneven improvements" in security in recent months. However, it concluded that Iraq's political leaders "remain unable to govern effectively."

But Johndroe said the report also found that U.S. troops have "really helped to improve the security situation on the ground."

"If they were to leave anytime soon, those security gains could be lost," he said.

Democrats have tried to wind down the war since taking over Congress in January, but Senate Republicans have used filibuster tactics to stymie those efforts.

After Thursday's report, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called on Republican senators to join Democrats to force Bush to change course -- and a senior Democratic leadership aide urged Warner to add his vote to those efforts.

"Will he [Warner] vote with us on anything? That is still the open and most important question," the aide said. "A recommendation to the president is different than voting for binding legislative language compelling the president to act."

Warner is one of the most respected voices in the Senate on military and national security issues.

Besides being a former Armed Services chairman, he was a secretary of the Navy in the 1970s. Warner served in the Navy in World War II and in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He has been in the Senate for five consecutive terms.

He and the current Armed Services chairman, Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, recently returned from a visit to Baghdad with harsh words for the al-Maliki government.

Levin said Monday that Iraq's parliament should throw al-Maliki out of office and replace his government.

Warner said he would not join that call. "But in no way do I criticize it," he added.

Warner met at the White House earlier Thursday with Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House official responsible for coordinating Iraq issues.

Warner said the president and other leading Bush administration officials have repeatedly said the American commitment to Iraq was not open-ended.

"The time has come to put some meaningful teeth into those comments -- to back them up with some clear, decisive action," the senator said.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #288 on: August 23, 2007, 09:51:50 PM »

As far as I know, Warner is a relatively responsible and informed man, but unless this is some part of a polyrhythmic dance, the score of which we are unknowing, I have a visceral discomfort with the idea of the Commander in Chief being 535 Congressmen and Senators. 

Also, as superficially appealing as this "put pressure on Malicki" argument may seem to be:
1) It often seems to be put forth by people whose true intention is for us to declare defeat and leave
2) It does not take into account what I believe to be the true direction of causality:  Polticians do not lead, they follow.  The reality on the ground will determine their behavior, and the reality on the ground will be described to us by General Petraeus in September.  As best as I can tell, and this forum attests to my intense interest in all this I think, we can and are starting to make good things happen-- on the ground up, where our fellow Americans who have stepped forward, day by day show the Truth of what we are about and what we are up to.

In conclusion, my general attitude is that Congress, as it should have but has not done since it unanimously affirmed Petraeus, should STFU!!!
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G M
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« Reply #289 on: August 24, 2007, 12:59:29 AM »

Tom,

Coulda, woulda, shoulda..... How will giving Al Qaeda and Iran both a big win by cutting and running help secure our country in this global war?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #290 on: August 24, 2007, 08:23:57 AM »

As readers of this forum know, I have high regard for Stratfor and intellectual honesty requires that I post the following piece, with which I disagree in important part because I think continued improvement on the ground can create political changes-- see "2)" of my previous post-- this of course leaves out the military issue of strain on our forces, which is real and which has been created by President Bush's obtuse denials of what was going on in 2003, 2004, 2005, and through November of 2006 and concommitant denial of the need to expand the size of our military.  This is a point I have made several times around here-- Bush could have found it easy in political terms during the Presidential campaign to call for an increase because even Senator Kerry was calling for an increase of 40,000 or so, yet he did not.  In 2004 it would have been MUCH easier to recruit than now!-- yes the President did not do so until after Republican loss of the House in November 2006. 

Anyway, here is the Stratfor piece:
========================

Geopolitical Diary: Rethinking the Mission in Iraq

A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq was issued Thursday. It made grim reading. It asserted that "Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively," and said that this is unlikely to change in the future. It did say that there had been measurable improvements in security, but that these were uneven and that they had not curtailed the general ability of insurgents to carry out attacks.

The report traced the problem back to its obvious roots. The Shia want to retain political dominance, while the Sunnis are not prepared to take a secondary role. The report also said that while security initiatives among the Sunnis represent the best hope for improving security, "we judge these initiatives will only translate into widespread accommodation and enduring stability if the Iraqi government accepts and supports them."

The strategy of the United States has been to use its forces to create a security environment in which a stable, pro-American government could be created in Baghdad and assume the responsibility for internal security using Iraqi forces under its command. The NIE is essentially stating that that strategy has been a failure. The improvements in the security environment are insufficient to create a stable Iraqi government and there is no motivation among Sunnis and Shia to create one anyway. It is simply not apparent that there is a solution.

It is hard to imagine that the much-awaited report from Gen. David Petraeus, scheduled to be released Sept. 15, is going to read much different. If it does, it will create an interesting situation in which the military and the intelligence community are deeply split. If that happens, the situation will be even more troubling. Fighting a war with a split like that would boggle the mind. We suspect that Petraeus will emphasize the improving security situation, concede that there is much to be done, but stay away from questions like political progress in Baghdad. If he is more optimistic, which we doubt, the difference between his report and the NIE will be one of focus or degree.

And that will pose the fundamental question for the United States: What is to be done? Maintaining the current strategy will have been rejected. Maintaining the same strategy with fewer troops makes even less sense. A slow withdrawal -- seemingly a reasonable choice -- makes the least sense. A staged pullout with U.S. forces continuing the same mission of aggressive security patrolling would eliminate any chance of success while incurring increased risk for the diminished force remaining.

The other alternative is a rapid and complete withdrawal. You can argue that this would leave it to the Iraqis to solve the problem. But that also is illusory. The most likely outcome of a rapid withdrawal would be a massive increase in Iranian influence and presence in Iraq, including the substantial possibility of Iranian forces entering Iraq and moving toward the Saudi border. With U.S. forces withdrawn, and some remaining in Kuwait, it would raise the serious question of the future of the Arabian Peninsula. Withdrawal would accept the rise of an Iranian regional power that would threaten to redefine the shape of the region. It is hard to see how any American president, no matter how badly he or she wanted out of Iraq, could live with the geopolitical and political consequences of Iran in a dominant regional role.

All three choices -- staying the course, slow withdrawal, quick withdrawal -- seem either to be unworkable or to have unacceptable consequences. That leaves remaining in Iraq but redefining the mission. The mission to date has failed. A new mission could be protecting the Arabian Peninsula from Iranian domination. This would end U.S. attempts to secure inhabited areas, and focus instead on becoming a blocking force to prevent Iran moving toward the south. In other words, withdraw to the south and west of the Euphrates and let the rest of Iraq go as it will.

This is not a new proposal from us. However, the NIE report, which makes it clear that the current strategy has failed, obviously raises the question of what is to be done. The two withdrawal strategies are each deeply flawed. That leaves the fourth strategy, the only contender, unless the United States is prepared to maintain its current posture indefinitely. As that isn't an option politically, we suspect that the blocking force concept will begin to emerge as a viable alternative.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #291 on: August 24, 2007, 09:33:09 AM »

GM, If you read my posts concerning Iraq, you will see my gripe is on strategy/ doing what it takes to win the war and the will to stick to it or adapt.
Like Crafty said in his Stratfor post Bush has sat on strategy since 2003 not made neccassary changes,and worn the tolerance of the American people,the American people have
had enough andregardless of what transpires in the surge.....It may already be too late.....
That also will affect our global war on terror in the next presidential election....Becuase if the American people want us out of Iraq bad enough they will be sure to elect someone who will get it done.....of course that will probably also translate to someone who is soft on the war on terror.
Cut and Run.....nah I'am not for that......though I may also be willing to conceed this war is lost.....esp if we dont change our ways and get real serious about what were doing.(I don't see that happening)
My view on the surge is that its a dog and pony show...with no real sustained effort and already talk of discontinueing it.....not sure whats the point of a two week surge(sarcasm).
I just don't think  were willing to do what it takes to win in Iraq......and possibly the whole of the globe war on terror.
My opinon were fighting half assed.......
That I have some difficulty supporting.
                                                                   TG
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #292 on: August 24, 2007, 09:53:36 AM »

WSJ


Another Vietnam?
President Bush's analogy to Iraq is not inaccurate, just incomplete.

BY MAX BOOT
Friday, August 24, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Ever since the mid-1970s, critics of American military involvement have warned that any decision to deploy armed forces abroad--in Lebanon and El Salvador in the 1980s, in Kuwait, Somalia, and Kosovo in the 1990s, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan--would result in "another Vietnam." Conversely, supporters of those interventions have adamantly resisted any Vietnam comparisons.

President George W. Bush boldly abandoned that template with his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Wednesday. In a skillful bit of political jujitsu, he cited Vietnam not as evidence that the Iraq War is unwinnable, but to argue that the costs of giving up the fight would be catastrophic--just as they were in Southeast Asia.

This has met with predictable and angry denunciations from antiwar advocates who argue that the consequences of defeat in Vietnam weren't so grave. After all, isn't Vietnam today an emerging economic power that is cultivating friendly ties with the U.S.?

True, but that's 30 years after the fact. In the short-term, the costs of defeat were indeed heavy. More than a million people perished in the killing fields of Cambodia, while in Vietnam, those who worked with American forces were consigned, as Mr. Bush noted, to prison camps "where tens of thousands perished." Many more fled as "boat people," he continued, "many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea."

That assessment actually understates the terrible repercussions from the American defeat, whose ripples spread around the world. In the late 1970s, America's enemies seized power in countries from Mozambique to Iran to Nicaragua. American hostages were seized aboard the SS Mayaguez (off Cambodia) and in Tehran. The Red Army invaded Afghanistan. It is impossible to prove the connection with the Vietnam War, but there is little doubt that the enfeeblement of a superpower encouraged our enemies to undertake acts of aggression that they might otherwise have shied away from. Indeed, as Mr. Bush noted, jihadists still gain hope from what Ayman al Zawahiri accurately describes as "the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents."





The problem with Mr. Bush's Vietnam analogy is not that it is inaccurate, but that it is incomplete. As he noted, "The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech." If he chooses to return to the subject in future speeches, there are some other parallels he could invoke:
• The danger of prematurely dumping allied leaders. A chorus of voices in Washington, led by Sens. Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton, is calling on Iraqis to replace Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. Even Mr. Bush and his ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, have expressed disappointment with Mr. Maliki. They have been careful, however, to refrain from any calls for his ouster. That's wise, because we know from our experience in Vietnam the dangers of switching allied leaders in wartime.

In the early 1960s, American officials were frustrated with Ngo Dinh Diem, and in 1963 the Kennedy administration sanctioned a coup against him, in the hope of installing more effective leadership in Saigon. The result was the opposite: a succession of weak leaders who spent most of their time plotting to stay in power. In retrospect it's obvious that, for all his faults, we should have stuck with Diem.

Today we should stick with Mr. Maliki, imperfect as he is. He took office little more than a year ago after his predecessor, Ibraham al Jaffari, was forced out by American pressure for being ineffectual. The fact that we are bemoaning the same shortcomings in both Messrs. Jaffari and Maliki suggests that the problems are not merely personal but institutional. The Iraqi constitution, written at American instigation, gives little power to the prime minister. The understandable desire was to ward off another dictator, but we shouldn't now be complaining that the prime minister isn't able to exercise as much authority as we would like.

The only hope for long-term political progress is to limit the power of the militias--the real powers--which must start by curbing the violence which gives them much of their raison d'être. That is what the forces under Gen. David Petraeus's command are now doing. We'll need considerably more progress on the security front before we can expect any substantial political progress at the national level. In the meantime, we shouldn't hold Mr. Maliki to unrealistic expectations as we did with Diem.

• The danger of winning militarily and losing politically. In 1968, after Gen. Creighton Abrams took over as the senior U.S. military commander in South Vietnam, he began to change the emphasis from the kind of big-unit search-and-destroy tactics that Gen. William Westmoreland had favored, to the sort of population-protection strategy more appropriate for a counterinsurgency. Over the next four years, even as the total number of American combat troops declined, the communists lost ground.

By 1972 most of the south was judged secure and the South Vietnamese armed forces were able to throw back the Easter Offensive with help from lots of American aircraft but few American soldiers. If the U.S. had continued to support Saigon with a small troop presence and substantial supplies, there is every reason to believe that South Vietnam could have survived. It was no less viable than South Korea, another artificial state kept in existence by force of arms over many decades. But after the signing of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, we all but cut off South Vietnam, even while its enemies across the borders continued to be resupplied by their patrons in Moscow and Beijing.

Following in Abrams's footsteps, Gen. Petraeus is belatedly pursuing classic counterinsurgency strategies that are paying off. The danger is that American politicians will prematurely pull the plug in Iraq as they did in Vietnam. If they do so, the consequences will be even worse, since Iraq is much more important strategically than Vietnam ever was.

• The danger of allowing enemy sanctuaries across the border. This a parallel that Mr. Bush might not be so eager to cite, because in many ways he is repeating the mistakes of Lyndon Johnson, who allowed communist forces to use safe rear areas in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam to stage attacks into South Vietnam. No matter how much success American and South Vietnamese forces had, there were always fresh troops and supplies being smuggled over the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Something similar is happening today in Iraq. Dozens of Sunni jihadists are entering Iraq from Syria every month. While not huge in absolute numbers, they are estimated to account for 80% to 90% of suicide attacks. The National Intelligence Estimate released yesterday finds that "Damascus is providing support" to various groups in Iraq "in a bid to increase Syrian influence." Meanwhile, the NIE notes, Iran "has been intensifying" its support for Shiite extremists, leading to a dramatic rise in attacks using explosively formed penetrators that can punch through any armor in the American arsenal.

The Bush administration has cajoled and threatened these states to stop their interference in Iraqi affairs, but their pleas have largely fallen on deaf ears. For all of Mr. Bush's reputed bellicosity, he has backed away from taking the kind of actions that might cause Syria and Iran to mend their ways. He has not, for instance, authorized "hot pursuit" of terrorists by American forces over the Iraqi border. Until the U.S. does more to cut off support for extremists within Iraq, it will be very difficult to get a grip on the security situation.

• The danger of not making plans for refugees. One of the great stains on American honor in Indochina was the horrible fate suffered by so many Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians who put their trust in us. When the end came we left far too many of them in the lurch, consigning them to prison, death or desperate attempts to escape.

There are many Iraqis who would be left in equally dire straits should the U.S. pull all or even a substantial portion of its forces out of the country. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have worked closely with our forces, whether as translators, security guards, police officers, civil servants or cabinet ministers. Many have already been targeted for death, and need to flee for their lives. Yet so far we have been accepting only a trickle of Iraqi refugees to our shores--a mere 200 in the first six months of this year.





We should take steps now to assure all those Iraqis who cooperate with us that visas and means of evacuation will be available to them if necessary. The U.S. government has been reluctant to do this for fear of admitting the possibility of failure, and perhaps facilitating an even greater "brain drain" from Iraq. But it would actually be easier for many to stay and serve in Iraq if they know that they and their families have a personal "exit strategy."
This does not, of course, exhaust the possible analogies between Iraq and Vietnam. Nor is it meant to suggest the parallels are exact; there are in fact substantial differences. Any historical comparison has to be handled with care and not swallowed whole. But there are important lessons to be learned from our Vietnam experience, and as President Bush noted, they are not necessarily the ones drawn by the doves who have made Vietnam "their" war.

Mr. Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "War Made New: Weapons, Warriors and the Making of the Modern World" (Gotham Books), just out in paperback.
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Maxx
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« Reply #293 on: August 24, 2007, 10:09:28 AM »

Here is a Film looking into the bang up job that is being done in Iraq

http://noendinsightmovie.com/

If you ever needed a piece of media to explain to all the other morons out there how the U.S. funked up the whole occupation of Iraq, who was responsible, and all the mistakes, blunders, and broken promises, this is that movie.

The amount of utter ignorance, hubris, pride, and sheer gall on the behalf of some of the people in our government is appalling. And to think the country voted this guy back into office for another term.

Just so you know, this movie isn't some Michael Moore kind of movie, or a partisan film to discredit one side or the other. It's honest, on the level, and if you really want to know why things in Iraq are so fucked up today, this is what you need to see. It's actually kind of sad at some points, really, because when the movie is funny, it's usually about something that you have to laugh about because it's so absurd, sad, or just plain insane.

One interesting fact from the film: when the National Intelligence Council came out with their first National Intelligence Estimate (sometime after 2004, if I'm right), they created a summary and, to make sure that the president would read it, whittled it down to a special 1-page Executive Summary of their analysis.

Just one god damned page.

The president never read it.

Trust me, SEE THIS FILM. You owe it to yourself as an American.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2007, 10:12:33 AM by Maxx » Logged

SB_Mig
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« Reply #294 on: August 24, 2007, 01:01:40 PM »

Heard an NPR story on No End In Sight and it seems like an interesting watch. However, I have to admit that a truly objective film on the subject matter seems like an impossibility at this point in the game.
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G M
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« Reply #295 on: August 24, 2007, 01:14:53 PM »

If National People's Radio is covering it, then I know what the film's agenda is..... rolleyes
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Maxx
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« Reply #296 on: August 27, 2007, 12:42:28 AM »

 What ever the agenda is there is no hiding the fact that the Global war on Terror is not working and Iraq is now a death trap.

All those billions of dollars spent that Health care and Education will never see but thank god we are in a Country that hates us.
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G M
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« Reply #297 on: August 27, 2007, 12:57:35 AM »

It's not so simple, Maxx,

Cutting and running gives both al qaeda and Iran a huge win, it also dooms those brave Iraqis that stood along side us and their families to horrific deaths. What lesson do you want to teach the world? Put enough bloody images on CNN and the left will undercut the American will to win. Just like in Vietnam, we'll abandon our allies to the tender mercies of our enemies. Is this good foreign policy? Is this the right thing to do?

If we throw our allies into the bloody jaws of the global jihad, do you really think it'll curl up and go to sleep? Forget we exist?
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G M
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« Reply #298 on: August 27, 2007, 01:07:46 AM »

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/189136.php

Reality check on why we fight.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=2cd_1187778888
« Last Edit: August 27, 2007, 01:14:02 AM by G M » Logged
Maxx
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« Reply #299 on: August 27, 2007, 02:02:30 PM »

Who said anything about cutting and running?  I served with 10th mountain over seas in AssCrackistan after 9/11  and I saw the reason's on why we fight and what we are fighting about.

A couple of my good friends had to stand out in the open to guard Some Pipelines..We thought they were gas lines and then found out they were Oil..Hmm Go figure.

Simple..There is nothing simple about sending your troops into a warzone on bad preperation and bad intell...Making up reasons to invade a country are not the ways to go about things and then coming back with the "Oh man..Our bad but since we are there" is not a vaild excuse.

Offering 20k to new recruits is they leave in a month to their new home in Iraq is also not a good way to treat our desperate youth..

Why we fight?  A 5 year old boy was put on fire?  While that is tragic and painfull..I don't feel that it is worth the lives of Anymore Americans. We have those problems going on here on our soil...MS 13 gangs running riot and other countless Gangs running riot and killing Americans BUT we should fight over seas to help a 5 year old boy? No..I just don't see it that way..Now this is just a Random example of problems on American soil..

I never said cut and run but I think the way we handled things and still going about things is wrong and over...

Now to Vietnam...58,000 Americans Died there...I foget the wounded and The not counted number of VN vets who killed themselves though Drugs or Booze down the line..And for what , Another countries problem on how they were treating another countrymen and we still had Segregation, Whites Hated Black, Blacks Hated whites, Browns hated both...The cops were running riot and the KKK was still hanging people from trees..But yet 58,000 PLUS americans needed to give their life to another country when those lives could have been put to better use here..On our soil..

All those Lives Wiped out..Potential  doctors, Scientist, Teachers, Husbands, Kids...All these lives that could have been used to make our Country better and not the Countries of a other nation...

We are worried about Aids in Africa..What about Aids here..We are worried about Starving ppl in god knows where, where we have straving ppl here..We are worried about aid to Countries that are flooding when we couldnt even get water to our own ppl in New-O when it flooded...And we allow Movie Stars and Rich Americans to Adopt Chinese babies and other Types of Babies and Kids when we have millions of Homeless, Orphan American Kids that could use homes....

I belive some where in your post GM you talk about being Native American( I could be Wrong)..I happen to also be Part Native American...America is worried about how Africans live in Slums and our sick...Have your ever been to the some of the reservations? They look below 3rd world nations..Some look great and some look like crap. The Reservation by Ft. lewis is a GIANT ghetto...And one of  Reservations where my Grandmother took me in New Mexico is something out of Black Hawk down but it's important that we care about how other countries are run but getting aid and medical care to other peoples while Native Americans get cheap booze and smokes..Ya, I see the fair trade.

I think I went over board and ranted..Sorry..Something heat me up..
« Last Edit: August 27, 2007, 02:06:29 PM by Maxx » Logged

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