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G M
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« Reply #300 on: August 27, 2007, 09:01:20 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.

****Does this mean that we fought in Afghanistan for oil?****

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..

****The average U.S. serviceman/woman is better educated than the average U.S. citizen. The "poor waifs" arguement doesn't hold water. The US military today is better trained, better educated and better equipped than any military in human history.****

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've spent most all of my adult life in law enforcement. I'm quite aware of the issues with gangs, crime and social decay. That's irrelevant to the global war for survival we find ourselves in. Some sort of neo-isolationism isn't the answer to domestic issues.****

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..

****Are you suggesting some sort of martial law as a remedy for the 60's urban unrest?****

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...

****My dad served in 'Nam from '65 to '68, became a teacher afterwards. Despite the media hype, most veterans of all wars return to citizen life without becoming violent drunks.****

We are worried about Aids in Africa..What about Aids here..

****As HIV is usually spread by consensual sex or infected needles in the US, what policy do you suggest that hasn't already been implimented?****

We are worried about Starving ppl in god knows where, where we have straving ppl here..

****When was the last time an American starved to death? Outside of an abused child or neglected elder, i'm not aware of it happening in my lifetime. In fact the poorest Americans are far more likely to suffer health problems related to obesity rather than anything akin to starvation. Again, short of creating a national "diet police" i'm not sure what you'd suggest we do.****

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..

****Funny enough, Wal-Mart and other scary corporations the left loves to demonize did a better job responding to Katrina than did the democrat mayor and the democrat governor, who have yet to take any responsibility for their inept and corrupt municipal and state governments.****

.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....

****Please cite the source of you statistics for "Millions of homeless, orphan American kids".****

I belive some where in your post GM you talk about being Native American( I could be Wrong).

****I'm an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe.****


.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?

****I grew up right next to one, got my healthcare growing up at an Indian Health Service clinic. My first fulltime job in law enforcement was as a Tribal Police Officer.****

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.

****Uncle Sam has dumped billions, if not trillions into tribal entities in recent times. Much like the "war on poverty" gov't aid did more harm than help. Again, the solution isn't more gov't aid to address the social problems on the various reservations.****

I think I went over board and ranted..Sorry..Something heat me up..

****You have the right to rant, just as I have the right to reply.****
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #301 on: August 27, 2007, 09:51:45 PM »

If Iraq Falls
By JOSEF JOFFE
August 27, 2007; Page A11

In contrast to President Bush's dark comparison between Iraq and the bloody aftermath of the Vietnam War last week, there is another, comforting version of the Vietnam analogy that's gained currency among policy makers and pundits. It goes something like this:

After that last helicopter took off from the U.S. embassy in Saigon 32 years ago, the nasty strategic consequences then predicted did not in fact materialize. The "dominoes" did not fall, the Russians and Chinese did not take over, and America remained No. 1 in Southeast Asia and in the world.

 
But alas, cut-and-run from Iraq will not have the same serendipitous aftermath, because Iraq is not at all like Vietnam.

Unlike Iraq, Vietnam was a peripheral arena of the Cold War. Strategic resources like oil were not at stake, and neither were bases (OK, Moscow obtained access to Da Nang and Cam Ranh Bay for a while). In the global hierarchy of power, Vietnam was a pawn, not a pillar, and the decisive battle lines at the time were drawn in Europe, not in Southeast Asia.

The Middle East, by contrast, was always the "elephant path of history," as Israel's fabled defense minister, Moshe Dayan, put it. Legions of conquerors have marched up and down the Levant, and from Alexander's Macedonia all the way to India. Other prominent visitors were Julius Caesar, Napoleon and the German Wehrmacht.

This is not just ancient history. Today, the Greater Middle East is a cauldron even Macbeth's witches would be terrified to touch. The world's worst political and religious pathologies combine with oil and gas, terrorism and nuclear ambitions.

In short, unlike yesterday's Vietnam, the Greater Middle East (including Turkey) is the central strategic arena of the 21st century, as Europe was in the 20th. This is where three continents -- Europe, Asia, and Africa -- are joined. So let's take a moment to think about what would happen once that last Blackhawk took off from Baghdad International.

Here is a short list. Iran advances to No. 1, completing its nuclear-arms program undeterred and unhindered. America's cowed Sunni allies -- Saudi-Arabia, Jordan, the oil-rich "Gulfies" -- are drawn into the Khomeinist orbit.

You might ask: Wouldn't they converge in a mighty anti-Tehran alliance instead? Think again. The local players have never managed to establish a regional balance of power; it was always outsiders -- first Britain, then the U.S. -- who chastened the malfeasants and blocked anti-Western intruders like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

With the U.S. gone from Iraq, emboldened jihadi forces shift to Afghanistan and turn it again into a bastion of Terror International. Syria reclaims Lebanon, which it has always labeled as a part of "Great Syria." Hezbollah and Hamas, both funded and equipped by Tehran, resume their war against Israel. Russia, extruded from the Middle East by adroit Kissingerian diplomacy in the 1970s, rebuilds its anti-Western alliances. In Iraq, the war escalates, unleashing even more torrents of refugees and provoking outside intervention, if not partition.

Now, let's look beyond the region. The Europeans will be the first to revise their romantic notions of multipolarity, or world governance by committee. For worse than an overbearing, in-your-face America is a weakened and demoralized one. Shall Vladimir Putin's Russia acquire a controlling stake? This ruthlessly revisionist power wants revenge for its post-Gorbachev humiliation, not responsibility.

China with its fabulous riches? The Middle Kingdom is still happily counting its currency surpluses as it pretties up its act for the 2008 Olympics, but watch its next play if the U.S. quits the highest stakes game in Iraq. The message from Beijing might well read: "Move over America, the Western Pacific, as you call it, is our lake."

Europe? It is wealthy, populous and well-ordered. But strategic players those 27 member-states of the E.U. are not. They cannot pacify the Middle East, stop the Iranian bomb or keep Mr. Putin from wielding gas pipelines as tools of "persuasion." When the Europeans did wade into the fray, as in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, they let the U.S. Air Force go first.

Now to the upside. The U.S. may have spent piles of chips foolishly, but it is still the richest player at the global gaming table. In the Bush years, the U.S. may have squandered tons of political capital, but then the rest of the world is not exactly making up for the shortfall.

Nor has the U.S. become a "dispensable nation." That is the most remarkable truth in these trying times. Its enemies from al Qaeda to Iran -- and its rivals from Russia to China -- can disrupt and defy, but they cannot build and lead.

For all the damage to Washington's reputation, nothing of great import can be achieved without, let alone against, the U.S. Can Moscow and Beijing bring peace to Palestine? Or mend a global financial system battered by the subprime crisis? Where are the central banks of Russia and China?

The Bush presidency will soon be on the way out, but America is not. This truth has recently begun to sink in among the major Democratic contenders. Listen to Hillary Clinton, who would leave "residual forces" to fight terrorism. Or to Barack Obama, who would stay in Iraq with an as-yet-unspecified force. Even the most leftish of them all, John Edwards, would keep troops around to stop genocide in Iraq or to prevent violence from spilling over into the neighborhood. And no wonder, for it might be one of them who will have to deal with the bitter aftermath if the U.S. slinks out of Iraq.

These realists have it right. Withdrawal cannot serve America's interests on the day after tomorrow. Friends and foes will ask: If this superpower doesn't care about the world's central and most dangerous stage -- what will it care about?

America's allies will look for insurance elsewhere. And the others will muse: If the police won't stay in this most critical of neighborhoods, why not break a few windows, or just take over? The U.S. as "Gulliver Unbound" may have stumbled during its "unipolar" moment. But as giant with feet of clay, it will do worse: and so will the rest of the world.

Mr. Joffe is publisher-editor of Die Zeit, the German weekly and will be teaching foreign policy at Stanford University this fall. His latest book is "Überpower: The Imperial Temptation of America." (Norton, 2006).
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G M
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« Reply #302 on: August 28, 2007, 12:45:24 AM »

http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/print.php?url=http://www.nypost.com/seven/08272007/news/columnists/how_marines_pulled_fallujah_ou.htm

HOW MARINES PULLED FALLUJAH OUT OF HELL
By RALPH PETERS


August 27, 2007 -- FALLUJAH, Iraq - Fallujah and the Marines have some history. In 2004, one savage battle ended when the Marines were pulled out for political reasons. Later that year, they had to finish the job.
And they did. They took down the terrorists' stronghold in a week of fury.

With a fundamentalist tradition, Fallujah seemed to fit al Qaeda perfectly. Robbed of their Saddam-era privileges and out for revenge, even secular locals had aligned with the terrorists. Despite the Marine victory, violence simmered on.

The extremists and insurgents believed they could wear America down. But between 2004 and 2007, two things happened: We wore them down - and al Qaeda wore them out.

With foreign fanatics butchering the innocent and enforcing prison-yard "Islamic laws" that far exceeded the Koran's demands, it belatedly dawned on the insurgents that, while we intended to leave eventually - on our own terms - al Qaeda meant to stay.

A wave of suicide bombings earlier this year, culminating in a massive attack on a funeral procession, made the population snap. The people of Fallujah may never love us, but they hate al Qaeda with the rage of a betrayed lover.

Since May, the change has been stunning. When the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines were last in Fallujah, in 2006, they took casualties from snipers and roadside bombs. The city was violent, bankrupt and partly in ruins.

Now the battalion's back. And welcome. Marines banter with the locals where, six months ago, it was risky to ride in an armored vehicle.

Paradoxically, the violence of the past set the only possible conditions for the sudden reconciliation. The Iraqis had to grasp that we meant business. Now the 1st Platoon of the battalion's Fox Company lives and works in the Hadari Precinct with the Iraqi police.

The new police are recruited from vetted locals, and the policy has paid huge dividends. The locals know who doesn't fit, and they've got an immediate interest in their neighborhood's safety. Most encouragingly, the reformed police are popular.

Fallujah still isn't a place to buy retirement property, but it was encouraging to sit down with 1st Platoon's commander, 2nd Lt. Nick DeLonga, and his Iraqi counterpart, 1st Lt. Mohammed.

DeLonga joined the Marines immediately after 9/11, because "I didn't want to just sit and vote while others were dying." Now he's the sheriff of a sprawling neighborhood in a war-torn city.

FIRST Lt. Mohammed's fa ther is a sheik, giving him a brand of authority - and insight - an outsider could never attain. DeLonga has the firepower (if ever needed) and the resources, while Mohammed has the pull. It works.

We went for a stroll in the streets. The Marines still wear full combat gear: Despite security measures, a sniper might still sneak into the city. But there was no threat from the locals in the market. The worst mood the Marines encountered was aloofness. More often, they were welcomed with a polite greeting.

People are relieved that their streets are safe again. And the kids are out in regiments, surrounding the Marines in hope of candy or just a bit of attention.

For the Iraqi police lieutenant, our patrol was a triumphal procession. DeLonga let Mohammed have center stage as citizens came out to complain about lagging utilities or, in one striking case, to protest that, as former residents of Baghdad, they had come to Fallujah to be safe, but were being charged exorbitant rents. A ward pol as well as a cop, Mohammed told his aides to write it all down.

Mohammed is effective, but he might jar anyone with unrealistic expectations. In our one-on-one meeting, he quoted Saddam: "You must be sharp as a sword with civilians - and as soft as perfume." But he's no hard-core Ba'athist: You have to remember that Saddam shaped every Iraqi's life for more than three decades.

Anyway, men such as Lt. Mohammed have figured out that nostalgia solves nothing. And thanks to al Qaeda's blood orgy, the old Middle Eastern dictum applies: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In a sense, al Qaeda set us up for success.

BUT there's more to it. Much more. The Marines and the Iraqi police find they get along surprisingly well. The Americans realize that the Iraqis know the buttons to press to get things done, while the Iraqis learn from the Marines' professionalism.

I laughed to see Iraqi cops marveling at a Marine's, uh, interesting tattoos, while the Marines are still surprised that the environment has gone "nonkinetic" so fast.

And we're truly winning over some Iraqis. "Crash," is a Basra-born interpreter (a "terp") who, more than anything else in the world, wants to become a U.S. Marine. He lives and works with the Marines, studies their rituals, works out with them - and carries himself like a Marine. Crash also carries a weapon for self-defense - a right he earned after pulling wounded Marines to safety in combat.

"His" Marines are doing all they can to help him enlist.

Fallujah? Some districts have ugly stretches of ruins, while others are largely intact. The population has returned. And there's a construction boom. Meanwhile, the Marines have repaired generators, turned trash lots into parks and created hundreds of jobs. Suddenly, the city's movers and shakers want to work with the Marines.

Oh, and the mullah of the city's strictest mosque just sat down for the first time with Lt. DeLonga. They got along fine.

Had I been asked three years ago if we'd ever be welcome in Fallujah, I would've called it wrong. Not that the Iraqis want us to stay forever, but they'd rather cooperate than fight at this point. Given Fallujah's past, that's no small thing.

And the locals are out in front of us in the fight against al Qaeda. Which is a big thing.

I was in the city during one of the last phases of Operation Alljah, which has been bringing the rule of law back to the city's precincts, one by one. In the hours of darkness, Marine engineers swept in and blocked the roads in and out of one of the last un-purged districts with Jersey barriers. The police moved in to bust suspected terrorists and kick out hoodlums who don't have local roots.

In a "swarm," identification cards are provided to all, beginning with the local movers and shakers. Volunteers are vetted to join the police or armed neighborhood-watch groups. And revitalization programs go into gear.

Capt. Mason Harlow, the Fox Company commander, was wounded by shrapnel two years ago. In Fallujah. Now he's back, overseeing the Hadari District and two others. His Marines haven't been attacked for months. And his former enemies are doing his work for him.

Capt. Harlow didn't think he'd live to see the day.

Ralph Peters is reporting from Iraq. His new book is "Wars of Blood and Faith."



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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #303 on: August 28, 2007, 07:48:38 AM »

I don't like this piece, but it comes from Stratfor and I search for Truth:
-------------------

Endgame: American Options in Iraq
The latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) summarizing the U.S. intelligence community's view of Iraq contains two critical findings: First, the Iraqi government is not jelling into an effective entity. Iraq's leaders, according to the NIE, neither can nor want to create an effective coalition government. Second, U.S. military operations under the surge have improved security in some areas, but on the whole have failed to change the underlying strategic situation. Both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias remain armed, motivated and operational.

Since the Iraq insurgency began in 2003, the United States has had a clear strategic goal: to create a pro-American coalition government in Baghdad. The means for achieving this was the creation of a degree of security through the use of U.S. troops. In this more secure environment, then, a government would form, create its own security and military forces, with the aid of the United States, and prosecute the war with diminishing American support. This government would complete the defeat of the insurgents and would then govern Iraq democratically.

What the NIE is saying is that, more than four years after the war began, the strategic goal has not been achieved -- and there is little evidence that it will be achieved. Security has not increased significantly in Iraq, despite some localized improvement. In other words, the NIE is saying that the United States has failed and there is no strong evidence that it will succeed in the future.

We must be careful with pronouncements from the U.S. intelligence community, but in this case it appears to be stating the obvious. Moreover, given past accusations of skewed intelligence to suit the administration, it is hard to imagine many in the intelligence community risking their reputations and careers to distort findings in favor of an administration with 18 months to go. We think the NIE is reasonable. Therefore, the question is: What is to be done?

For a long time, we have seen U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Iraq as a viable and even likely endgame. We no longer believe that to be the case. For these negotiations to have been successful, each side needed to fear a certain outcome. The Americans had to fear that an ongoing war would drain U.S. resources indefinitely. The Iranians had to fear that the United States would be able to create a viable coalition government in Baghdad or impose a U.S.-backed regime dominated by their historical Sunni rivals.

Following the Republican defeat in Congress in November, U.S. President George W. Bush surprised Iran by increasing U.S. forces in Iraq rather than beginning withdrawals. This created a window of a few months during which Tehran, weighing the risks and rewards, was sufficiently uncertain that it might have opted for an agreement thrusting the Shiites behind a coalition government. That moment has passed. As the NIE points out, the probability of forming any viable government in Baghdad is extremely low. Iran no longer is facing its worst-case scenario. It has no motivation to bail the United States out.

What, then, is the United States to do? In general, three options are available. The first is to maintain the current strategy. This is the administration's point of view. The second is to start a phased withdrawal, beginning sometime in the next few months and concluding when circumstances allow. This is the consensus among most centrist Democrats and a growing number of Republicans. The third is a rapid withdrawal of forces, a position held by a fairly small group mostly but not exclusively on the left. All three conventional options, however, suffer from fatal defects.

Bush's plan to stay the course would appear to make relatively little sense. Having pursued a strategic goal with relatively fixed means for more than four years, it is unclear what would be achieved in years five or six. As the old saw goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting a different outcome. Unless Bush seriously disagrees with the NIE, it is difficult to make a case for continuing the current course.

Looking at it differently, however, there are these arguments to be made for maintaining the current strategy: Whatever mistakes might have been made in the past, the current reality is that any withdrawal from Iraq would create a vacuum, which would rapidly be filled by Iran. Alternatively, Iraq could become a jihadist haven, focusing attention not only on Iraq but also on targets outside Iraq. After all, a jihadist safe-haven with abundant resources in the heart of the Arab world outweighs the strategic locale of Afghanistan. Therefore, continuing the U.S. presence in Iraq, at the cost of 1,000-2,000 American lives a year, prevents both outcomes, even if Washington no longer has any hope of achieving the original goal.

In other words, the argument is that the operation should continue indefinitely in order to prevent a more dangerous outcome. The problem with this reasoning, as we have said, is that it consumes available ground forces, leaving the United States at risk in other parts of the world. The cost of this decision would be a massive increase of the U.S. Army and Marines, by several divisions at least. This would take several years to achieve and might not be attainable without a draft. In addition, it assumes the insurgents and militias will not themselves grow in size and sophistication, imposing greater and greater casualties on the Americans. The weakness of this argument is that it assumes the United States already is facing the worst its enemies can dish out. The cost could rapidly grow to more than a couple of thousand dead a year.

The second strategy is a phased withdrawal. That appears to be one of the most reasonable, moderate proposals. But consider this: If the mission remains the same -- fight the jihadists and militias in order to increase security -- then a phased withdrawal puts U.S. forces in the position of carrying out the same mission with fewer troops. If the withdrawal is phased over a year or more, as most proposals suggest, it creates a situation in which U.S. forces are fighting an undiminished enemy with a diminished force, without any hope of achieving the strategic goal.

The staged withdrawal would appear to be the worst of all worlds. It continues the war while reducing the already slim chance of success and subjects U.S. forces to increasingly unfavorable correlations of forces. Phased withdrawal would make sense in the context of increasingly effective Iraqi forces under a functional Iraqi government, but that assumes either of these things exists. It assumes the NIE is wrong.

The only context in which phased withdrawal makes sense is with a redefined strategic goal. If the United States begins withdrawing forces, it must accept that the goal of a pro-American government is not going to be reached. Therefore, the troops must have a mission. And the weakness of the phased withdrawal proposals is that they each extend the period of time of the withdrawal without clearly defining the mission of the remaining forces. Without a redefinition, troop levels are reduced over time, but the fighters who remain still are targets -- and still take casualties. The moderate case, then, is the least defensible.

The third option is an immediate withdrawal. Immediate withdrawal is a relative concept, of course, since it is impossible to withdraw 150,000 troops at once. Still, what this would consist of is an immediate cessation of offensive operations and the rapid withdrawal of personnel and equipment. Theoretically, it would be possible to pull out the troops but leave the equipment behind. In practical terms, the process would take about three to six months from the date the order was given.

If withdrawal is the plan, this scenario is more attractive than the phased process. It might increase the level of chaos in Iraq, but that is not certain, nor is it clear whether that is any longer an issue involving the U.S. national interest. Its virtue is that it leads to the same end as phased withdrawal without the continued loss of American lives.

The weakness of this strategy is that it opens the door for Iran to dominate Iraq. Unless the Turks wanted to fight the Iranians, there is no regional force that could stop Iran from moving in, whether covertly, through the infiltration of forces, or overtly. Remember that Iran and Iraq fought a long, vicious war -- in which Iran suffered about a million casualties. This, then, simply would be the culmination of that war in some ways. Certainly the Iranians would face bitter resistance from the Sunnis and Kurds, and even from some Shia. But the Iranians have much higher stakes in this game than the Americans, and they are far less casualty-averse, as the Iran-Iraq war demonstrated. Their pain threshold is set much higher than the Americans' and their willingness to brutally suppress their enemies also is greater.

The fate of Iraq would not be the most important issue. Rather, it would be the future of the Arabian Peninsula. If Iran were to dominate Iraq, its forces could deploy along the Saudi border. With the United States withdrawn from the region -- and only a residual U.S. force remaining in Kuwait -- the United States would have few ways to protect the Saudis, and a limited appetite for more war. Also, the Saudis themselves would not want to come under U.S. protection. Most important, all of the forces in the Arabian Peninsula could not match the Iranian force.

The Iranians would be facing an extraordinary opportunity. At the very least, they could dominate their historical enemy, Iraq. At the next level, they could force the Saudis into a political relationship in which the Saudis had to follow the Iranian lead -- in a way, become a junior partner to Iran. At the next level, the Iranians could seize the Saudi oil fields. And at the most extreme level, the Iranians could conquer Mecca and Medina for the Shia. If the United States has simply withdrawn from the region, these are not farfetched ideas. Who is to stop the Iranians if not the United States? Certainly no native power could do so. And if the United States were to intervene in Saudi Arabia, then what was the point of withdrawal in the first place?

All three conventional options, therefore, contain serious flaws. Continuing the current strategy pursues an unattainable goal. Staged withdrawal exposes fewer U.S. troops to more aggressive enemy action. Rapid withdrawal quickly opens the door for possible Iranian hegemony -- and lays a large part of the world's oil reserves at Iran's feet.

The solution is to be found in redefining the mission, the strategic goal. If the goal of creating a stable, pro-American Iraq no longer is possible, then what is the U.S. national interest? That national interest is to limit the expansion of Iranian power, particularly the Iranian threat to the Arabian Peninsula. This war was not about oil, as some have claimed, although a war in Saudi Arabia certainly would be about oil. At the extreme, the conquest of the Arabian Peninsula by Iran would give Iran control of a huge portion of global energy reserves. That would be a much more potent threat than Iranian nuclear weapons ever could be.

The new U.S. mission, therefore, must be to block Iran in the aftermath of the Iraq war. The United States cannot impose a government on Iraq; the fate of Iraq's heavily populated regions cannot be controlled by the United States. But the United States remains an outstanding military force, particularly against conventional forces. It is not very good at counterinsurgency and never has been. The threat to the Arabian Peninsula from Iran would be primarily a conventional threat -- supplemented possibly by instability among Shia on the peninsula.

The mission would be to position forces in such a way that Iran could not think of moving south into Saudi Arabia. There are a number of ways to achieve this. The United States could base a major force in Kuwait, threatening the flanks of any Iranian force moving south. Alternatively, it could create a series of bases in Iraq, in the largely uninhabited regions south and west of the Euphrates. With air power and cruise missiles, coupled with a force about the size of the U.S. force in South Korea, the United States could pose a devastating threat to any Iranian adventure to the south. Iran would be the dominant power in Baghdad, but the Arabian Peninsula would be protected.

This goal could be achieved through a phased withdrawal from Iraq, along with a rapid withdrawal from the populated areas and an immediate cessation of aggressive operations against jihadists and militia. It would concede what the NIE says is unattainable without conceding to Iran the role of regional hegemon. It would reduce forces in Iraq rapidly, while giving the remaining forces a mission they were designed to fight -- conventional war. And it would rapidly reduce the number of casualties. Most important, it would allow the United States to rebuild its reserves of strategic forces in the event of threats elsewhere in the world.

This is not meant as a policy prescription. Rather, we see it as the likely evolution of U.S. strategic thinking on Iraq. Since negotiation is unlikely, and the three conventional options are each defective in their own way, we see this redeployment as a reasonable alternative that meets the basic requirements. It ends the war in Iraq in terms of casualties, it reduces the force, it contains Iran and it frees most of the force for other missions. Whether Bush or his successor is the decision-maker, we think this is where it must wind up.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #304 on: August 28, 2007, 08:14:36 AM »

OTOH perhaps the NIE assessment which affects Stratfor's thinking so much is wide of the mark-- it certainly wouldn't be for the first time our intel has been slow to realize changes on the ground:

This Isn't Civil War
By CARTER ANDRESS
August 28, 2007; Page A13

Baghdad

We are winning this war. I write those words from my desk in the Red Zone in downtown Baghdad as hundreds of Iraqis working with my company -- Shia and Sunni, Arab and Kurd -- execute security, construction and logistics missions throughout the capital and Sunni Triangle. We have been here now over three years.

American-Iraqi Solutions Group, which I helped co-found in March 2004, has been intimately involved with creating the new Iraqi security services. Our principal business as a U.S. Department of Defense contractor is to build bases for the Iraqi army and police and then supply them with water, food, fuel and maintenance services. We are on the cutting edge of the exit strategy for the U.S. military: Stand up an effective Iraqi security structure and then we can bring our troops home.

We are not out of the Iraqi desert yet. But the primary problems we now face on the ground are controllable, given a strong American military presence through 2008. These problems include the involvement of Iran in fueling Shia militancy, the British failure to uphold their security obligations in the south and the tumultuous nature of a new democracy.

Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker recently said the one word he would choose to describe the feelings of the Iraqi people was "fear." A bad choice, from my observation.

That's not the prevailing state of mind, except maybe for those sheltered souls in the Green Zone who are getting hit on a regular basis for the first time in more than a year by primarily Iranian-supplied rockets and mortars. What I see on the faces of the thousands of Iraqis working with us, including our subcontractors and suppliers as well as on the faces of the Iraqi army and police, patrolling and manning the checkpoints and assisting U.S. soldiers in searching for the insurgents is grim determination to get the job done.

I also see exhaustion -- exhaustion with the insurgency, whether it be al Qaeda, neo-Saddamist, or Jaish al Mahdi (JAM), or the Shia militia of Moqtada al-Sadr. The exhaustion is real, and the evidence of the falling support among the Iraqi people for the insurgency in its various guises is inescapable -- unless you are deliberately looking the other way.

A large proportion of our thousand-man work force -- of which 90% are Iraqi citizens -- comes from Sadr City, the Shia slum in east Baghdad. Many carry weapons. These Shia warriors have emphasized in the past several months that they and their neighbors are tired of conflict and only want to feed their families.

You only have to note the lack of U.S. casualties in the ongoing surge to clear JAM out of the highly dangerous urban terrain of Sadr City to realize that the people there do not want to fight us. They are sick of fighting.

As for Sunni resistance, I recently visited the boot camp we operate for the Iraqi army at Habbaniyah in Al Anbar, former heartland of the insurgency. For the first time we are seeing entire Sunni Arab recruiting cohorts at the camp, where before we only saw Shia from outside the province.

The Sunnis of Al Anbar -- finally tired of al Qaeda assassinating their sheikhs when they disagreed with the terrorists -- have committed their children to the security services of a government dominated by the majority Shias, and paid for and run by the Americans. With such a development, you have real progress in integrating the diverse elements in Iraq.

Slowly but surely, Iraqi security services are building up. You only have to travel outside the Green Zone to see them undertaking heroic risks as they work to control the streets in growing numbers and with growing professionalism. In the past couple of months, the Ministry of the Interior established an operations center for all of Baghdad that effectively coordinates nonmilitary logistics movements throughout the capital -- a function previously only undertaken by a coalition contractor. From chaos has come order and in turn, step by step, the Iraqi military is becoming a truly national, not sectarian, force.

I see no civil war between the Shias and Sunnis as I travel practically every day on the roads of Iraq with my Arab and Kurdish security team. The potential for renewed internecine warfare faded earlier this year, when al Qaeda failed to reignite the waning sectarian struggle the second time around with another attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra.

The perfect storm at the beginning of 2007 created the necessity of reconciliation. The Sunni Arabs who had used al Qaeda as leverage in the political struggle to re-establish their minority rule faced genocide in Baghdad from the Shia death squads. With pressure from the new Democratic majority in Congress, the Shia government of Nouri al-Maliki realized that time was running out for a dominant American presence in Iraq and finally allowed the U.S. military to clean up Sadr City, thus alleviating the death-squad activities.

Both the Sunni and Shia Arab sides of the Iraqi political equation (the Kurds have sided with us from the beginning) now see that there is no alternative to American protection. As a result, Sadr's people and the Sunnis have both returned to parliament. As always, democracy is messy, but it is working. We have to be patient, particularly because this nascent reconciliation has left al Qaeda as the odd man out.

Just as the rockets landing in the Green Zone are from a foreign source -- Iran -- the jihadis who destroy themselves in explosions aimed primarily at mass killings of Shia civilians are almost all foreigners. This is al Qaeda, not Iraq.

Even more to the point: The Iraqis basically ignore the al Qaeda car bombs, mourn the dead and then go to work, to school, join and continue to serve in the military and police -- and life goes on. There is no terror if no one is terrorized.

Let us, the American people, not be terrorized into retreating before our enemy -- al Qaeda -- just when they have begun to stand alone, stripped of allies, in a country beginning to enjoy the fruits of a democracy we have sacrificed much blood to help create.

Mr. Andress, CEO and principal owner of American-Iraqi Solutions Group, is author of "Contractor Combatants: Tales of an Imbedded Capitalist" (Thomas Nelson, 2007).
===============
Stratfor.com
IRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country is ready to fill the power vacuum in Iraq. Addressing a press conference in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said the United States' power there is collapsing and that Iran will fill the resulting vacuum "with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation."
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 12:07:30 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
SB_Mig
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« Reply #305 on: August 28, 2007, 12:07:13 PM »

Which Iraq War Do You Want To End?
We're fighting at least three of them.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, at 4:56 PM ET

When people say that they want to end the war in Iraq, I always want to ask them which war they mean. There are currently at least three wars, along with several subconflicts, being fought on Iraqi soil. The first, tragically, is the battle for mastery between Sunni and Shiite. The second is the campaign to isolate and defeat al-Qaida in Mesopotamia. The third is the struggle of Iraq's Kurdish minority to defend and consolidate its regional government in the north.

Taking these in reverse order, we can point to Kurdistan as the most outstanding success of the past four years, with its economically flourishing provinces run along broadly secular lines, and with the old Kurd-on-Kurd civil war now in real abeyance for almost a decade (which shows that people can and do come to their senses). The Kurds are also active in the center of the country; their ministers of foreign affairs and water are universally regarded as the most capable and intelligent, and they have also been secure enough to lend units of their own peshmerga forces to the coalition's efforts in Baghdad, Fallujah, and elsewhere. The forces of AQM do not care to tackle this real people's army, preferring to concentrate their attacks on the defenseless, and although there have been truck-bomb attacks in the Kurdish capital of Erbil and in the still-disputed city of Kirkuk, these are so far pinprick events. (Appalling to record, though, a recent and much-disputed incident near Erbil airport has led to a temporary suspension of some international flights to Kurdistan.)

On the second front, everything I hear by e-mail from soldiers in Anbar province and some well-attested other reports suggest (see my Slate column of Aug. 13) that the venomous rabble of foreign murderers and local psychopaths that goes to make up AQM has insanely overplayed its hand, lost all hope of local support, and is becoming even more vicious as its cadres are defeated. This means that there is also political separation and polarization within the Sunni Arab community. A recent wire-service report even suggested that the underground remnant of the Baath Party has broken off relations with AQM. It must say something when even Saddam's old goons find themselves repelled by anybody's tactics. One must not declare victory too soon, but if the United States has in fact succeeded in not only smashing but discrediting al-Qaida in a major Arab and Muslim country, that must count as a historic achievement.

The third area of combat is the most depressing. The Maliki government, in my opinion, showed its irredeemably sectarian character a long time ago by the dirty manner in which it carried out the execution of Saddam Hussein. Maliki himself has recently attacked the coalition forces for carrying out raids in Shiite districts of Baghdad. Perhaps he ought to be told that he is not being lent our armed forces for the purpose of installing Shiite power. The secular parties have walked out of his shaky Cabinet, and it is on these forces that our moral support should be concentrated. Let's put it like this: An American family that lost a son or a daughter in the defense of free Kurdistan or in the struggle against AQM could console itself that the death was in a worthwhile cause. The same could not be said for a soldier who fell in some murky street engagement, shot in the back by a uniformed policeman who was doing double duty as a member of a theocratic Shiite militia.

In Basra and elsewhere, these Shiite militias replicate the division among the Sunnis by fighting among themselves and by the degree to which they do or do not reflect the interference of Iran in Iraqi affairs. This subconflict—or these subconflicts—makes it hard to accept the proposal made by some U.S. politicians and pundits to the effect that the country should be partitioned along ethnic and religious lines. In that event, we would quite probably not end up with three neatly demarcated mini-states, one each in a three-way split among Sunni Arab, Shiite, and Kurd. Instead, there could be partitions within the partition, with Iran and Saudi Arabia becoming patrons of their favorite proxies and, in the meantime, a huge impetus given to the "cleansing" of hitherto-mixed cities and provinces. (This, by the way, as I never tire of saying, is what would have happened to Iraq when Saddam's regime collapsed and the country became prey to neighboring states and to the consequences of 30 years of "divide and rule" politics.)

The ability to distinguish among these different definitions of the "war" is what ought to define the difference between a serious politician and a political opportunist, both in Iraq and in America. The obliteration of political life and civil society by Saddam Hussein's fascism has meant that most of the successor political figures are paltry (and the Kurdish exception to this exactly proves the point: Kurdistan escaped from Baathist control a full decade before the rest of Iraq did). It will take a good while before any plausible nonsectarian figures can emerge from the wasteland and also brave the climate of murder and intimidation that the forces of the last dictatorship, and the would-be enforcers of an even worse future one, have created. Meanwhile, it is all very well for Sens. Clinton and Levin to denounce the Maliki government and to say that he and his Dawa Party colleagues are not worth fighting for. But what do they say about the other two wars? Sen. Clinton in particular has said several times in the past that we cannot, for example, abandon the Kurds as we once did before. Should she not be asked if this is still her view? And did I miss what Sen. Levin had to say about the battle against AQM? The next election is rightly going to be fought, to a considerable extent, over the question of Iraq. Answers to these questions about that question are a test of seriousness that all voters should be keeping in mind.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #306 on: August 28, 2007, 07:45:24 PM »

Iraq: Iran Versus Saudi Arabia, Minus the United States?
Summary

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Aug. 28 warned that a power vacuum is imminent in Iraq and said Iran is ready to help fill the gap. This statement represents the shift Stratfor was expecting in Iranian behavior toward Iraq, wherein Tehran is no longer interested in negotiating with the United States because it expects Washington to withdraw from the country. This does not mean the road to Baghdad is clear for the Iranians, which explains why they have said they would work with regional Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Analysis

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Aug. 28 that his country is ready to fill the power vacuum in Iraq. Addressing a press conference in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said, "The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly. Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation."

The Iranians are reacting to the emerging situation in Washington, which is leading the United States to effect a military drawdown of sorts in Iraq. As we have said, this leaves the Iranians with no incentive to negotiate with Washington over the future of Iraq. Instead, Iran is moving to take advantage of the expected security vacuum in Iraq and consolidate itself as the major power broker there.

But the Iranians are well aware that such a move will not be easy to pull off and will require Saudi cooperation. The Iranians intend to secure the Arab states' acknowledgement of Tehran's dominant role in Iraq -- a goal that will not come easily, to say the very least. Moreover, the United States is not about to allow Iran the space it needs to secure its interests in Iraq, as evidenced in the Bush administration's evolving Iraq policy, which we see shifting to a military strategy that will leave a residual force focused primarily on countering Iranian expansion in Iraq. Ahmadinejad's message to the Saudis is essentially stating that the inevitable U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will leave the Iranians in a prime position to dominate the country, and that their historical Arab/Sunni rivals in Riyadh will have no choice but to sue for peace -- on Tehran's terms.

Essentially, we are looking at the beginning of a full-scale and direct geopolitical struggle between Tehran and Riyadh over Baghdad as the United States redefines its mission in Iraq.
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G M
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« Reply #307 on: August 28, 2007, 08:32:30 PM »

IMHO, the Saudis have been running a covert nuclear aquisition program, which is now probably in overdrive due to Iran's pending rise.
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G M
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« Reply #308 on: August 28, 2007, 08:40:04 PM »

From 4/9/2006

Saudi Arabia may join nuclear club

DOHA, Qatar, April 9 (UPI) -- Kuwaiti researcher Abdullah al-Nufaisi told a seminar in Doha, Qatar, that Saudi Arabia is preparing a nuclear program, the Middle East Newsline reported.

He said Saudi scientists were urging the government to launch a nuclear project, but had not yet received approval from the ruling family.

Riyadh denies any intention to establish a nuclear energy program, but Gulf sources told the Middle East Newsline Saudi officials have been discussing a nuclear research and development program -- and that the program would be aided by Pakistan and other Riyadh allies.

"Saudi Arabia will not watch as its neighbors develop nuclear weapons," a Gulf source said. "It's a matter of time until a Saudi nuclear program begins."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #309 on: August 29, 2007, 08:01:54 AM »

Wonder what is behind this?

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

Sadr set to 'rebuild' Mehdi Army 
 
The Mehdi Army is believed to have some 60,000 fighters
The radical Iraqi Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr, has announced the "rebuilding" of his Mehdi Army militia over a maximum period of six months.
He called on all its offices to co-operate with the security forces and exercise "self-control", in a statement issued by his office in Najaf.

The order was read out at a conference in Karbala, where fierce fighting on Tuesday killed more than 50 people.

Police blamed the Mehdi Army for the violence, but it denied involvement.

The militia is strongly opposed to the US presence in Iraq and took part in two uprisings against US-led forces in 2004.

It has also been linked to many sectarian attacks on Iraq's Sunni Arabs and on UK forces in the south of the country.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/h...st/6968720.stm


 
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buzwardo
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« Reply #310 on: August 29, 2007, 08:51:16 AM »

August 29, 2007
The Left Loses the Vietnam War

By Robert Tracinski
In political battles--and all too frequently in war itself--victories are rarely complete, defeats are rarely final, and the real significance of a battle is often not evident for years, even decades afterward.

America's defeat in Vietnam, for example, was seemingly a triumph for the anti-war left, which had long proclaimed the war to be unwinnable quagmire. Yet the years following that defeat--the era of American retreat and "national malaise"--proved so traumatic that the American people have never wanted to repeat them. Thus, what the anti-war radicals regarded as a vindication ended up discrediting the left on foreign policy for a generation. You could say that they won the political battle over the war--but they lost the peace.

Today, we may be seeing the final chapter of that process. The left is losing the Vietnam War itself--losing Vietnam, that is, as a rhetorical high ground from which to pillory any advocate of vigorous American military action overseas.

In a speech last week, President Bush surprised everyone by citing Vietnam as an analogy to Iraq. Just as we paid a "price in American credibility" for our abandonment of Vietnam, he argued, so we will suffer an even worse blow to the credibility of American threats and American friendship if we retreat from Iraq.

The New York Times, borrowing "military parlance," described this as Bush's attempt at "preparing the battlefield--in this case for the series of reports and hearings scheduled on Capitol Hill next month." The military terminology is appropriate, since this war will not be won or lost only on the battlefield in Iraq; it will be won or lost in the political battles that will be fought in Washington, DC. And Bush's invocation of Vietnam may turn out to be a brilliant rhetorical flanking maneuver. In one stroke, he has unexpectedly turned the political battle over withdrawal from Iraq into the last battle of the Vietnam War. The effect on the right has been electrifying. One conservative newspaper, the New York Sun, has even taken the step--inconceivable a year ago--of dedicating a page of its website to parallels between Iraq and Vietnam.

This certainly has caught the left by surprise, since the history of the Vietnam War is territory they thought they owned and controlled, which is why they have attempted to fit every conflict since 1975 into the Vietnam template. An editorial cartoon published early during the invasion of Iraq aptly depicted the Washington press corps as unruly children in the backseat of the family car, pestering the driver with the question, "Is it Vietnam yet? Is it Vietnam yet?" They assumed that if Iraq was Vietnam--if it fit into their Vietnam story line about dishonest leaders starting a war of imperialist aggression that was doomed by incompetent leadership and tainted by American "war crimes"--then it was guaranteed to be a humiliating defeat for their political adversaries.

Yet while the left complacently trotted out its same old Vietnam story line, a few historians have been busy revising and correcting the conventional history of the war. The leading work of this school is Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, by Mark Moyar. What makes Moyar's argument interesting is that he had access to facts that the conventional history of Vietnam, written in the 1970s and 1980s, could not have taken into account: the archives in Hanoi and Moscow, which reveal what our enemies regarded as our victories, our weaknesses, and our worst mistakes. Here is how Thomas MacKubin Owens describes Moyar's findings in his review of the book:

Moyar's thesis is that the American defeat was not inevitable: The United States had ample opportunities to ensure the survival of South Vietnam, but it failed to develop the proper strategy to do so. And by far our greatest mistake was to acquiesce in the November 1963 coup that deposed and killed [South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh] Diem, a decision that "forfeited the tremendous gains of the preceding nine years and plunged the country into an extended period of instability and weakness."

Not surprisingly, Vietnamese Communists exploited that post-Diem instability and adopted a more aggressive and ambitious stance. Moyar argues that President Lyndon Johnson rejected several aggressive strategic options available to him, options that would have permitted South Vietnam to continue the war, either without the employment of US ground forces or by a limited deployment of US forces in strategically advantageous positions in the southern part of North Vietnam or in Laos. The rejection of these options meant that Johnson was left with the choice of abandoning South Vietnam, a step fraught with grave international consequences, or fighting a defensive war within South Vietnam at a serious strategic disadvantage.


As for the eventual fall of South Vietnam--to be covered by Moyar in a planned second volume of his history--according to the New York Sun, "Mr. Moyar said the North Vietnamese only attempted their 1975 attack when convinced that America would not counter this violation of the Paris Agreement." And what gave the North this confidence? The Sun recounts the history: "Between 1972 and 1975, America's Congress passed a series of pieces of legislation that strangled the Republic of South Vietnam of resources and blocked any hope of an American air campaign.... These included the Second Supplemental Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1973, which blocked funding to 'support directly or indirectly combat activities in or over Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam or South Vietnam'; the Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1974, and the Foreign Assistance Act of 1973, which went so far as to prevent third-party countries from assisting the South Vietnamese so long as they received American aid."

This new view of how the Vietnam War ended is summed up by Max Boot:

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 US 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.... 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.

This thesis is still somewhat new and controversial--but there is enough truth to it that it is beginning to stick. Whatever the failures of American strategy in Vietnam, there is no doubt that the anti-war left pushed for American failure and accomplished it by persistent and vigorous legislation. And that is the crucial issue. If the architects of the Vietnam War in the Johnson administration can be criticized (as Moyar does) for not doing enough to win the war, the later anti-war left actively pursued American defeat and humiliation as their goal. They didn't merely want us to withdraw; they wanted us to lose, and they did whatever was necessary to make sure that happened.

So instead of being a story of the failure of imperialist, war-mongering Republicans, the Vietnam War was the story of two separate failures by Democrats. The Democrats who started the war held back from using the force necessary to win it--and the Democrats who ended the war deliberately knocked all of the remaining props out from under the South Vietnamese government to ensure the defeat of an American ally.

This is the wider Vietnam story that the left has never understood. They have always regarded Vietnam and Watergate as the glory days they long to relive. It was a time in which their political faction was temporarily triumphant, hounding two hated presidents out of office in disgrace.

But for everyone else, those events and their aftermath--the whole "national malaise" of the 1970s--was a painful period of national humiliation, for which we are still paying the price. The collapse of American power and credibility, combined with the "Vietnam Syndrome" that enshrined timidity as the cornerstone of American foreign policy, emboldened the Soviet Union and encouraged its invasion of Afghanistan--which gave birth to the "mujahadeen," the movement that gave Osama bin Laden his start and established his reputation. It also led to President Carter's withdrawal of support for the shah of Iran, which assured the success of the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution.

So the twin pillars of the contemporary Islamist threat--al-Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran--owe their origins to the collapse of American power in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. What new disasters wait to be spawned in the aftermath of a self-imposed defeat in Iraq?

Samuel Johnson is supposed to have said that nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of a hanging. What will the American people do when they are required to meditate seriously, for the first time, on the full, concrete ramifications of a defeat in Iraq? What will they think when they hear Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasting of Iran's eagerness to fill the "power vacuum" that will open up in Iraq after the "collapse" of "the political power of the occupiers"?

Will the American people--offered even the glimmer of a possible victory by the success of the "surge"--decline to repeat the painful history of Vietnam?

If they do, then the left will finally have lost the Vietnam War.

Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily.com.
Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/08/the_left_loses_the_vietnam_war.html at August 29, 2007 - 08:43:02 AM CDT
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #311 on: August 29, 2007, 08:58:30 AM »

A slightly different version of Crafty's previous post........This one openly talks about Sadrs Milita attacking U.S. troops ect.
I view Sadr as being a huge part of the Problem andhes done this before onely to come back and cause more carnage.....I just can't understand why we allow him to continue......He's a huge reason why I have a probelm with how we are fighting a "war" in Iraq.
What ever happend to Sistani(sp) I thought he was Sadr's superior? undecided
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 Al-Sadr suspends militia activity in Iraq By DAVID RISING, Associated Press Writer
21 minutes ago
 
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070829/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

BAGHDAD - Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganize the force, and it will no longer attack U.S. and coalition troops, aides said Wednesday.

ADVERTISEMENT
 
The aide, Sheik Hazim al-Araji, said on Iraqi state television that the goal was to "rehabilitate" the organization, which has reportedly broken into factions, some of which the U.S. maintains are trained and supplied by Iran.

"We declare the freezing of the Mahdi Army without exception in order to rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image within a maximum period of six months starting from the day this statement is issued," al-Araji said, reading from a statement by al-Sadr.

In Najaf, al-Sadr's spokesman said the order also means the Mahdi Army will no longer launch attacks against U.S. and other coalition forces.

"It also includes suspending the taking up of arms against occupiers as well as others," Ahmed al-Shaibani told reporters.

Asked if Mahdi militiamen would defend themselves against provocations, he replied: "We will deal with it when it happens."

T
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Howling Dog
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #312 on: August 29, 2007, 10:26:33 AM »

I have imprecise memory of the early days of the war when we chickened out of arresting him on some murder warrants.

Anyway, today's report is most interesting-- could this indicate some shift in the correlation of forces? huh
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DougMacG
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« Reply #313 on: August 29, 2007, 11:03:25 AM »

This story from Sunday came and went by quietly as I hear both sides of the American aisle say that no political progress is being made in Iraq. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070826/wl_nm/iraq_dc

Iraq's leaders agree on key benchmarks

By Waleed Ibrahim and Wisam Mohammed Sun Aug 26, 6:27 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.

The agreement by the five leaders was one of the most significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.

But skeptics will be watching for action amid growing frustration in Washington over the political paralysis that has gripped the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore congratulated Iraq's leaders on the accord, hailing it in a statement as "an important symbol of their commitment to work together for the benefit of all Iraqis."

The apparent breakthrough comes two weeks before U.S. President George W. Bush's top officials in Iraq present a report that could have a major influence on future American policy in Iraq.

"I hope that this agreement will help Iraq move beyond the political impasse," Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told Reuters. "The five leaders representing Iraq's major political communities .... affirmed the principle of collective leadership to help deal with the many challenges faced by Iraq."

Maliki's appearance on Iraqi television with the four other leaders at a brief news conference was a rare show of public unity.

The other officials present were President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd; Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi; Shi'ite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Masoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Iraqi officials said the five leaders had agreed on draft legislation that would ease curbs on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party joining the civil service and military.

Consensus was also reached on a law governing provincial powers as well as setting up a mechanism to release some detainees held without charge, a key demand of Sunni Arabs since the majority being held are Sunnis.

The laws need to be passed by Iraq's fractious parliament, which has yet to receive any of the drafts.

OIL LAW

Yasin Majid, a media adviser to Maliki, told Reuters the leaders also endorsed a draft oil law, which has already been agreed by the cabinet but has not yet gone to parliament.

But a statement from Talabani's office said more discussions were needed on the draft oil law and constitutional reforms. Committees had also been formed to try to ensure a "balance" of Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds in government.

The oil law is seen as the most important in a package of measures stalled by political infighting in Maliki's government.

The lack of action has frustrated Washington, which has been urging more political progress before the pivotal report on Iraq is presented to the U.S. Congress around September 11.

The report by the U.S. military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and ambassador Ryan Crocker, is seen as a watershed moment in the unpopular four-year-old war, with Democrats likely to use the negligible political progress to press their case for troops to begin pulling out soon.

Bush is pleading for patience, pointing to the military's apparent success in reducing levels of violence between majority Shi'ite Muslims and minority Sunni Arabs.

The White House's Lawrimore said in her statement that the United States would "continue to support these brave leaders and all the Iraqi people in their efforts to overcome the forces of terror who seek to overwhelm Iraq's democracy.

"The President also welcomes the desire of the Iraqi leadership to develop a strategic partnership with the United States based on common interests."

But Democrats are not convinced, and presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton and fellow Senator Carl Levin have called for Maliki to be replaced.

Maliki hit back on Sunday, saying: "There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin."

"This is severe interference in our domestic affairs. Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton are from the Democratic Party and they must demonstrate democracy," he said. "I ask them to come to their senses and to talk in a respectful way about Iraq."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #314 on: August 30, 2007, 07:09:18 AM »

Sadr's surprising move of yesterday is explained in this NY Times piece:
==============


BAGHDAD, Aug. 29 — The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said Wednesday that he was suspending for six months his Mahdi Army militia’s operations, including attacks on American troops, only hours after his fighters waged running street battles with Iraqi government forces for control of Karbala, one of Iraq’s holiest cities.

The surprise declaration was widely taken as a tacit acknowledgment of the damage done to his movement’s reputation by two days of Shiite-on-Shiite in-fighting, which killed 52 people, wounded 279 and forced thousands of pilgrims to flee birthday celebrations for the Mahdi, one of Shiite Islam’s most revered medieval saints.

Mr. Sadr’s aides declared an unequivocal end to all militia operations. Ahmed al-Shaibani, the chief of Mr. Sadr’s media office in Najaf, confirmed that this “includes suspending the taking up of arms against occupiers,” a reference to American-led coalition troops.

But Mr. Shaibani, who was one of the major commanders in the Mahdi Army’s August 2004 battle with American troops in Najaf, another Shiite holy city, left open the possibility that militiamen would react if provoked, saying only, “We will deal with it when it happens.”

It is also unclear whether the widely feared group will continue to exert its powerful hold over the black market distribution of everyday necessities in Iraq, including gas, diesel, cooking fuel and other utilities.

Mr. Sadr’s officials claimed that the freeze was intended to isolate and eliminate “rogue” elements of the Mahdi Army that no longer responded to Mr. Sadr’s orders.

American and British commanders have frequently made accusations in recent months that some Mahdi Army fighters have slipped out of Mr. Sadr’s control, operating as criminal gangs or receiving financing and training from Iran to carry out attacks on American and Iraqi security forces. One possible impact of the freeze would be to enlist the help of American forces to weed out rogue elements for Mr. Sadr’s group. In effect, Mr. Sadr was saying, anyone who attacks Americans is by definition violating the freeze and laying himself open to retaliatory attacks.

A statement signed by Mr. Sadr said the six-month suspension of the militia’s activities was intended to “rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image.”

“This decision will have great advantage,” Mr. Shaibani said. “It will distinguish and isolate those who claim to be working for JAM and who are actually not part of it.” He was using the acronym for the Mahdi Army’s Arabic name, Jaish al-Mahdi.

“JAM is a huge and active body in Iraq, but there are some intruders who want to create rifts. We don’t have masked men working with us.”

Many Iraqis said the announcement had more to do with the national backlash created by the television images of thousands of pilgrims who were celebrating the birth of the Mahdi, a revered ninth-century imam, on Tuesday being forced to flee machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenade exchanges between Mahdi Army fighters and the security forces of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government.

The government forces are dominated by the Sadrists’ main political rivals, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and its armed Badr movement. Many fear the Karbala clashes were simply the most public sign of Shiite rivalries between the powerful Sadr and Badr movements, who are vying for power in Shiite southern Iraq.

Iraq’s national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said he welcomed the suspension order but, like many, said it remained to be seen if it would be carried out on the ground. “If it happens it will reduce the violence in the country by a great deal,” he told CNN.

Politicians and analysts said that Mr. Sadr’s action on Wednesday showed that he realized he had overplayed his hand by taking on the security forces and exposing internal Shiite rivalries and that he was now reining in the more extreme elements in his movement.

“This announcement has been triggered by what happened in Karbala,” said Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish lawmaker. “Everybody is blaming JAM. Karbala was the signal that enough is enough and that they have to purge the people who are not really true JAM.”

But while he said that the discomfiture of Mr. Sadr, one of Mr. Maliki’s harshest critics, could strengthen the prime minister, there was little sign that Mr. Sadr was making overtures to rejoin the government. Sadrist ministers resigned from the cabinet earlier this year because Mr. Maliki refused to set a deadline for the withdrawal of American troops.

“We have to wait and see how they proceed and what they actually do,” Mr. Othman cautioned.

Mariam Reyes, an adviser to Mr. Maliki, said it was a “step in the right direction” and would stabilize the security situation. “It will unveil the components that have penetrated JAM and carry out military activities against the police and army,” she said. Visiting Karbala on Wednesday, Mr. Maliki contended that a curfew had restored order to the streets and blamed “outlawed armed criminal gangs from the remnants of the buried Saddam regime” for the violence of the previous two days. He also removed from command the army general in charge of the Karbala command center.

Mr. Shaibani accused the security forces of causing the trouble by opening fire on pilgrims and Sadrists.

But many in Karbala blame the Mahdi Army for the street battles. Abu Ahmad, a 58-year-old Karbala businessman, said: “We have a proverb which says, if there are a lot of captains on board a ship, it will sink. This is what happened in Iraq. The illegal possession of weapons by the Mahdi Army and Badr, in addition to ignorance, led to the destruction of the city.

“The Mahdi’s birthday is a cheerful event, but it turned into a tragedy,” he continued. He said that Sadr supporters on the City Council had encouraged the conflict and that a weak provincial governor had been unable to deal with the problem.

One Iraqi Army captain in the town, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said: “The crisis started with a fight between Mahdi people carrying weapons and the guards of the shrine. All of a sudden we saw JAM snipers on rooftops of the nearby hotels, and weapons in the hands of pilgrims. It seemed as if they deliberately started the fight to attack the security forces.”

Ali Adeeb contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Karbala, Najaf and Hilla.
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« Reply #315 on: September 04, 2007, 09:18:37 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Bush's Trip to Iraq

U.S. President George W. Bush stopped in Iraq on Monday on his way to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Australia. Bush has traveled to Iraq on several occasions, each time arriving without warning, for obvious reasons. In that sense, there was nothing particularly important about his trip. But there were some potentially significant parts to it.

First, the location; he went to Anbar province, not Baghdad. Anbar province had been one of the most restive regions of Iraq, with Sunni guerrillas continually operating against Americans and others. One of the successes of the surge has been the reduction of insurgent activity in Anbar. The president's trip there, then, there was designed to underline one of the successes of the surge strategy.

Part of the success has to do with military operations. But guerrillas, by their nature, go to ground when major enemy units start to operate in their area. When they leave to pacify another area, the guerrillas resume operations. Therefore, the presence of some Sunni tribal leaders was significant. That is a tremendous evolution over the past year. Sunnis willing to be seen with the president are Sunnis who have confidence that they won't be killed. And that means these are both powerful Sunnis and Sunni leaders who have made political deals with the United States.

Bush was flaunting his political rapprochement with the Sunnis. Its broadness is unclear, but he clearly was pushing Iran's buttons. Tehran's fear is the restoration of the Sunni regime in Baghdad, backed by the U.S. Army. That is easier said than done, but Bush wanted to signal the Iranians that the United States is developing political options among Iran's enemies in Iraq. Under any circumstance it is interesting because jihadists operate in the region as well. The Sunnis are either remarkably brave or feel that the jihadists are under control.

While the Iranians were one audience for the trip, another audience is Washington. Gen. David Petraeus is issuing his report in less than two weeks. From interviews he's given, it appears that it will state that violence has been reduced. That is far from the only benchmark he must discuss and in some ways it is not the most important. Violence might decline during the surge, but what happens when troops are withdrawn? Nevertheless, Bush wanted to demonstrate one success in Anbar. Then when the inevitable fighting breaks out in Washington over what Petraeus has really said, the image of Bush in Anbar with Sunnis will frame the debate. Or so the president hopes.

Bush also threw out another option, new for him. He said that it might now be possible to start reducing troops in Iraq. This is critical for him, because more than any other benchmark, the ability to reduce troops in Iraq is going to be the test of the president's progress. Bush needed to say that and he did. What it means is far from clear, of course, and possibly Bush himself doesn't yet know what is possible. But he has thrown in with those Republicans, such as Sen. John Warner, who have come out in favor of a drawdown.

Our own view of a drawdown is that it is the worst of all worlds -- an unchanged mission with fewer troops. But regardless of our views, the fact is that Bush is being flexible in anticipation of the Petraeus report. He is preparing the way for some serious battling, with both Congress and Iran. Right now it would appear that Bush is playing to Congress and goading the Iranians.

stratfor.com
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WSJ
The Tide Is Turning in Iraq
By KIMBERLY KAGAN
September 4, 2007; Page A17

The initial concept of the "surge" strategy in Iraq was to secure Baghdad and its immediate environs, which is why its proper name was the "Baghdad Security Plan." But as President Bush pointed out during his surprise trip to Iraq, operations and events on the ground are already showing successes well beyond Baghdad in Anbar, Diyala and Salahaddin provinces -- formerly al Qaeda strongholds and hotbeds of the Sunni insurgency.

 
Considering the speed with which these successes have developed, and the rapidly growing grass-roots movement among Iraqis to support the effort, there is every reason to be optimistic about the prospects for establishing security in Iraq, and every reason to continue supporting the current strategy.

The first major combat operation of the surge, Operation Phantom Thunder, began on June 15 and accomplished its primary objectives. American troops and Iraqi Security Forces eliminated all of al Qaeda's sanctuaries in the Baghdad belts, including its urban stronghold in Baqubah. U.S. forces cleared Dora, al Qaeda's stronghold in western Baghdad. They established an extensive net of outposts in former enemy safe havens, degraded the capabilities of Shiite militias, and dramatically reduced sectarian violence and spectacular attacks in and around the capital.

Phantom Thunder was the first coherent campaign aimed at all of the major al Qaeda strongholds at once. As a result, terrorists could not move from one safe haven to another. Iraqi and Coalition forces killed, wounded and captured thousands of them.

Six months ago, insurgents operated freely around Baghdad's belts. Now U.S. and Iraqi forces limit them to discrete areas, more distant from urban centers, where they cannot easily defend themselves, or support one another or their vehicle-bomb network.

Smaller groups who escaped from their safe havens during combat operations generally fled along the Tigris and Diyala River valleys. The remnants of al Qaeda in western Baghdad can no longer quickly reinforce their positions from outside or within the city.

Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno followed up Phantom Thunder with Phantom Strike. The new campaign, launched on Aug. 13, aims to prevent terrorists and militias from reconstituting their forces in Baghdad, its belts or elsewhere. U.S. and Iraqi forces are moving along the river valleys to destroy the remnants of enemy groups and eliminate any new safe havens they try to establish. Their operations are also preventing Shiite militias from taking over territory al Qaeda once controlled.

Phantom Strike involves Coalition and Iraqi forces throughout central Iraq. U.S. forces are clearing a wedge of terrain between the Tigris and Diyala Rivers north of Baghdad and holding those river lines. Operation Lightning Hammer, part of Phantom Strike, cleared 50 villages in the palm groves of the Diyala River valley, permitting U.S. and Iraqi forces to establish a combat outpost 15 miles northeast of Baqubah to secure the area. U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured Iranian-supported extremist leaders on the Tigris River's east bank, and they are striking al Qaeda in Balad, Samarra and Tikrit.

Meanwhile, Phantom Strike has dismantled a vehicle-bomb network in central Baghdad. And to the south of the city U.S. forces are destroying remnants of al Qaeda in Arab Jabour and Salman Pak -- both al Qaeda safe havens just months ago.

Skillful combat -- and skillful negotiation -- have transformed the area formerly known as "the triangle of death" into a region of dawning, if precarious, stability. As Coalition forces consolidate their gains in these areas, they are also striking Shiite militia sanctuaries east of Baghdad and further south and east along the Tigris River valley. Gen. Odierno and his division commanders cleared territory gradually throughout Phantom Thunder and Phantom Strike, so that they could hold it after clearing operations.

The tribal movement begun in Anbar has spread throughout central Iraq, as thousands of Sunnis have either volunteered to join the Iraqi Security Forces or formed local defense groups under Iraqi government and Coalition auspices. These "concerned citizens" groups springing up throughout central Iraq have not been previously observed on this scale in the country. They permit U.S. and Iraqi forces to hold territory they have cleared more effectively. The volunteers who make up these groups, recruited and deployed in their own neighborhoods, have incentives to protect their families and communities. They are not independent militias, however. They are partnered with Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces.

The Baqubah Guardians, one such group, recently helped the Iraqi police in that city fight off al Qaeda insurgents until Coalition helicopters arrived. The Taji Neighborhood Watch association searched hundreds of homes for weapons caches. Iraq has hitherto lacked a local policing initiative, relying instead on national and regional models. The concerned-citizen groups are filling this gap while the U.S. and the Iraqi governments work to expand and improve the Iraqi Security Forces that many of these volunteers hope to join.

There is every prospect of extending this movement further. Residents of freshly cleared Arab Jabour have volunteered to join the Iraqi Security Forces, indicating that the population there feels increasingly secure from terrorists. Tribal leaders in the Diyala River valley, many of whom have fought with one another since 2006, met immediately after Operation Lightning Hammer ended and swore to fight terrorism and work together as a single tribe.

Tribal leaders encourage local citizens to join the Iraqi Security Forces, working as volunteers before they are accepted into the police or army to identify weapons caches and terrorists to Iraqi or Coalition forces. U.S. commanders hold tribal leaders accountable when they fail to secure their area properly. U.S. forces take fingerprints and retina scans and record the serial numbers of the weapons of citizen-group members. This helps them vet the groups for dangerous insurgents and hold accountable anyone who turns against the Coalition.

The Iraqi government determines whether or not the volunteers are accepted into the security forces. In mid-August, the government enrolled 1,700 new Iraqi policemen from the mostly Sunni former insurgent enclave of Abu Ghraib.

The destruction of al Qaeda sanctuaries has permitted Coalition forces to focus more on the violent Shiite militia groups funded by Iran. These groups are responsible for kidnapping numerous Iraqi government officials, running sectarian death squads and conducting mortar and rocket attacks against the Green Zone.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force and Hezbollah have organized, trained and funded this network of Iraqi special groups, which could not sustain themselves without foreign support. Offensive operations targeting these groups have intensified, a development also made possible by the increasing cooperation of the Maliki government. Coalition and Iraqi forces have been redeployed to disrupt the groups' communication and supply routes east and south of Baghdad. A multi-phase campaign to capture or kill secret cell leaders is also underway across central and southern Iraq and in Baghdad.

In short, American forces are in the midst of a large, complex campaign to defeat al Qaeda, dismantle Iranian-backed Shiite criminal militias, support a growing grass-roots movement in the Sunni population, and create space for political progress at the national level. Al Qaeda is not defunct by any means. It continues to fight and is trying to re-establish itself. It will certainly try to conduct a large-scale terror campaign to coincide with Gen. Petraeus's report to Americans later this month on the progress of the surge.

The Shiite militias seem more daunted. Moqtada al Sadr has ordered his Mahdi Army fighters to cease operations against U.S. and Iraqi forces -- from his refuge in Iran.

Significant challenges remain in establishing security, building up Iraqi forces capable of maintaining it and helping the Iraqi government achieve reconciliation and unity. But few expected the progress made so far. The tide in Iraq is clearly turning, as the Iraqi people are voting with their lives to fight with us against terrorists and militias. Now is not the time to give up the fight.

Ms. Kagan is an affiliate of Harvard's John M. Olin Institute of Strategic Studies and the president of the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.
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« Reply #316 on: September 04, 2007, 09:37:35 AM »

Second post of the AM:

MISSION AMENDED
U.S. Shifts Iraq Focus
As Local Tactics Gain
Central Government
Loses Clout to Regions;
Bush Skips Baghdad
By YOCHI J. DREAZEN and PHILIP SHISHKIN in Iraq, and GREG JAFFE in Washington
September 4, 2007; Page A1

The Bush administration is quietly moving toward a major shift in Iraq policy, driven by successes in formerly intractable insurgent strongholds combined with dispiriting failures at fostering national reconciliation.

After almost four years of trying to build Iraq's central government in Baghdad, the U.S. has found that what appears to work best in the divided country is just the opposite. So senior military officials are increasingly working to strengthen local players who are bringing some measure of stability to their communities. The new approach bears some striking similarities to the "soft partition" strategy pushed by senior Democrats, and suggests that despite the often bitter debate in Washington on Iraq policy, a broad consensus on how to move ahead in the war-torn country may be forming.

 
President Bush yesterday made a surprise trip to Iraq in advance of an upcoming congressional debate on the war. In a symbolic nod to the emerging administration strategy, it was his first trip to the country that didn't involve a stop in the capital of Baghdad. Instead he visited the former Sunni-insurgent stronghold of Anbar province, where he met with local sheiks who have received tens of millions of dollars in cash as well as training to help fight al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq.

The sheiks "told me that the kind of bottom-up progress that your efforts are bringing to Anbar is vital to the success and stability of a free Iraq," Mr. Bush told a crowd of about 750 soldiers and Marines. Mr. Bush yesterday suggested that if the local gains the U.S. is making continue to hold it could begin to reduce U.S. troop levels by the end of the year.

Senior Bush administration officials, including the president, still talk about the importance of national reconciliation between the three main sectarian and ethnic groups often at war with each other: the minority Sunnis who ruled under Saddam Hussein, the long-oppressed Shiite majority, and northern Iraq's Kurds. Indeed most of the 18 benchmarks drawn up by Congress earlier this year focus on key national reconciliation goals, such as a compact to share oil revenues and loosening draconian laws that had been aimed at purging from power any Sunnis with even a distant affiliation with Mr. Hussein's Baath Party. According to several high-level U.S. reports, the Iraqi government in Baghdad is failing in almost all of those endeavors.

When Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker deliver their much-anticipated report to Congress next week they are likely to acknowledge little progress toward achieving these goals which had been central to President Bush's Iraq strategy. But they are also certain to point to big gains at the local level, in places like Anbar province, where violence has plummeted. At Gen. Petraeus's urging, Mr. Bush is also expected to announce a new infusion of aid to the Sunni Arab regions. The aid, which comes on top of $125 million pumped into the province so far this year, would be given directly to local leaders, instead of passing through the central government in Baghdad.

 FIGHT FOR IRAQ

 
 
See continuing coverage of developments in Iraq, including an interactive map of day-to-day events in Iraq and a tally of military deaths.
• Washington Wire: Bush trips up press corps againGen. Petraeus also is expected to assert next week that sectarian killings have fallen by more than half in Baghdad due to the increased presence of troops on the street.

Increasingly commanders in Iraq say that their pessimism and frustration with the current Iraqi government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, have led them to focus more intensely on efforts to build up local security forces and funnel reconstruction projects through local sheiks. "The problems in Iraq are going to be stopped from the ground up, not from the top down," says Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who commands U.S. forces in the mixed Sunni-Shiite area south of Baghdad. "At the national level you still get sectarian decisions being made, so you work on building capacity from the ground up."

The new approach was born last winter in Sunni-dominated Anbar province, where senior Marine officials courted local sheiks with millions of dollars in cash for reconstruction projects and help training their men to fight radical Sunni terrorists. Since then it has spread through large swaths of Iraq as commanders elsewhere have followed the Marines' lead.

In Baghdad, the U.S. military is training and paying Sunni "neighborhood watch" groups to guard their homes.

In the latest move in the strategy, American commanders are trying to export recent success co-opting Sunni sheiks to the much more strategically important Shiite tribes. American commanders for the first time are pushing these leaders to turn against extremists from their own sect, much like U.S. officers have convinced Sunni chiefs to turn against Sunni extremists in places like Anbar. Among the Shiite tribes south of Baghdad, the Americans' weapon of choice has become the "concerned citizens" agreement. A typical deal involves the U.S. forking over a monthly payment of $350 per tribal guard willing to fight. The money is channeled through local sheiks who in return promise to keep their areas safe from attacks against Americans.

Conversely, senior military officials are worrying less about the dysfunctional central government that has been the focus of so much effort in the U.S. military and political strategy over the last three years. The change is the simple outgrowth of what the summer surge of more than 30,000 troops into Iraq has wrought. The U.S. has been most successful in areas where it has taken an intensely local approach, working with local leaders who share U.S. goals.

The logical result of the new policy is a profound shift away from the Bush administration's original goal of building a multisectarian democracy in the heart of the Middle East. Instead, the new strategy seems likely to lead to an Iraq with a very weak central government and largely self-governing and homogenous regions. Over the long term the goal is to connect these local leaders to the central government by making them dependent on Baghdad for funds. To qualify for U.S. assistance, local groups must pledge loyalty to the central government, though many Sunni leaders who are working with the U.S. complain the Shiite dominated government is illegitimate.

Some military officials say the local focus seems to be leading to an outcome that looks similar to the "soft partition" or federalism approach advocated by a growing number of Democrats, including Joseph Biden of Delaware, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a longshot candidate for president. Senior Bush administration officials, of course, have never used the phrase "soft partition." Instead President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates often refer to the new approach as "bottom-up reconciliation." Yesterday the president expressed hope that the military successes would "pave the way for political reconciliation."

Gen. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, often refers to the need for "accommodation." He argues it is unrealistic to think Iraqis will reconcile any time soon. But maybe they can "accommodate" each other. Whether it's called "accommodation," "bottom-up reconciliation" or "soft partition," U.S. officials quietly acknowledge that they are basically talking about a strategy focused on strengthening local leaders to make them more self-sufficient and less reliant on the central government. "If the central government doesn't want to take control, maybe the locals will," said one senior U.S. commander who has played a key role in crafting the new approach. "It is too early to tell. We are riding a tiger. It may take us where we want to go."

To be sure, this approach has problems of its own. In some cases, Mr. Maliki's weak government has fought the U.S. efforts to build local Sunni-dominated security forces. The government in Baghdad, which is dominated by Shiites, worries that these troops could some day turn on it. In other cases, the government in Baghdad seems to fear a loss of power and resources. "If the government of Iraq does not buy into these local accommodations and deals, the progress will be transitory," said one senior Army officer who advises Gen. Petraeus.

Mr. Maliki has repeatedly denied that either he or his weak ruling coalition has a sectarian agenda. He also recently voiced support for a draft of a new law that would ease the ban on former members of Mr. Hussein's Baathist party, who were largely Sunni. That law must still be approved by parliament.

The potential -- and the limits -- of the current U.S. approach are evident in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which was once one of Iraq's most violent cities.

 
Today, Mosul is in the midst of a remarkable turnaround. There hasn't been a car bomb or large-scale attack there since early May, and U.S. commanders say the number of attacks in Mosul has dropped by half. No Americans have been killed there this year. U.S. commanders give most of the credit to local Iraqi security commanders like Col. Qader Saleem Qader, an intelligence officer who tracked and killed two key insurgent leaders in recent weeks, and to his boss, Gen. Jassim Habib Moutaa.

Mr. Maliki's government hasn't rewarded Gen. Moutaa and Col. Qader for their successes, however. Instead, U.S. officers say the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad has refused to promote either of the men, pay their salaries on time, or give the division its proper allotment of uniforms, weapons and other equipment.

"My Iraqi counterparts used to tell me that the entire government in Baghdad was controlled by Iran, and I didn't believe them," said Col. Christopher Mitchell, who commands a U.S. military advisory team that works with the division. "Now I'm not so sure," he added, referring to widespread suspicions that the Shiite government in Tehran is undermining any signs of success by the rival Sunnis or Kurds. The Iraqi government vehemently denies its policies are being influenced by Iran.

Another barrier could be the Iraqis themselves. Shiite leaders, who represent the majority of Iraqis, aren't eager to cede power to Sunnis. It isn't clear either that Sunnis will be willing to settle for a vast swath of land with few oil resources leaving them dependent on the Shiites for future revenue. "I don't think any of Iraq's communities would be happy with a soft partition type of solution," said one adviser to Gen. Petraeus.

The new approach also has shown uneven results in Shiite areas and may even be fueling some Shiite-on-Shiite violence in the south as various tribal and militia groups try to consolidate political and economic control over provinces and towns. Shiite Arabs make up some 60% of Iraq's population. U.S. officials say extremist Shiite militias constitute one of the biggest challenges to stability across the country.

"Any kind of Shia effort to come back to the center would be decisive," says U.S. Army Maj. Craig Whiteside, stationed south of Baghdad in Iskandariyah.

For now, getting Shiite tribal elders to resist extreme militias is proving more difficult in many cases than winning over Sunni sheiks, who saw many of the extremist Sunni elements as outsiders to their tribal ways. The Shiite militias, by contrast, are often viewed by the locals as a necessary, if violent, defense against Sunni extremists.

 
For example, in a cluster of Shiite villages called Jiff Jaffa, an American effort to co-opt local villagers away from Shiite militias, shows how difficult it can be to break the hold of Shiite militias. A year ago, the Americans helped the villagers set up an agricultural union, donating fertilizer and several tractors. Then, about a month ago, the Americans decided to broaden their alliance with Jiff Jaffa and offered the villagers a "concerned citizens' deal." Several U.S. soldiers had been killed on roads skirting the area by "explosively formed penetrators," a particularly deadly type of a roadside bomb favored by extreme Shiite militias. The U.S. troops wanted those routes secured. The Jiff Jaffa leaders embraced the idea and promised to come up with a list of 150 tribal guards.

The list took a long time to draft. The Americans assumed Jiff Jaffa's elders simply couldn't agree which tribesmen should get the job, a typical holdup. But a more disturbing picture soon emerged. Village elders had arranged a meeting with Shiite militants in a local mosque and asked for permission to cooperate with the Americans.

"We negotiated with [Shiite militants] for 10 days," recalls a local farmer who would only introduce himself as Abu Ahmed out of fear of retribution. "They said you are not allowed to work for the coalition forces."

Like many moderate Shiites, the farmer is chafing under the militants' intimidation and attempts to impose strict Islamism on the villagers. He complained about militant bans on alcohol and told stories of a relative smuggling booze in the tires of his car. "In three months, I'm going to Syria to drink some beers and relax," he said.

Shiite militants took root in Jiff Jaffa in part because Sunni extremists in a neighboring area waged war on the Shiite tribes. Over time, the Shiite militias' defensive moves against the Sunni incursions have helped entrench them in many Shiite communities. "Sunnis have a problem with al Qaeda, but Shiites don't have the same problem with their militias, at least not yet," says Sabah al-Khafaji, a local sheik of a large Shiite tribe.

Despite these reservations, village elders finally signed the deal with the Americans over the weekend. It's too early to tell how effective the deal will be.

It's also too early to tell how the mosaic of local deals will play out at the national level. Mr. Bush was met in Anbar province, the former heartland of the Sunni insurgency, by Mr. Maliki, the Shiite prime minister who rarely visits the province. In recent weeks Bush administration officials along with Democratic lawmakers have criticized Mr. Maliki for moving too slowly to reconcile with Sunnis.

Mr. Maliki's presence was clearly intended to show that national reconciliation is still a long-term goal. But some U.S. officials worry that the local deals may actually be impeding the Bush administration's policy aims. The deals are made with groups that are almost entirely Sunni or Shiite. "This works against national level accommodation because it politicizes sectarian identity," said one military strategist in the region.
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« Reply #317 on: September 05, 2007, 08:31:32 PM »

IRAQ: "Foreign factions" have infiltrated the leadership of radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army in an attempt to expand their control in Iraq, Al-Hayat reported, citing unnamed sources within the movement. The factions reportedly provide monetary support, moral support, weapons and training. The infiltrated elements no longer obeyed al-Sadr's commands and instead targeted Shia and Sunnis without coordination with the al-Sadr movement.

IRAQ: Sheikh Abu Zeinab, spokesman for Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, threatened political and military reprisals if the Iraqi government does not release arrested Mehdi Army members, Al-Hayat reported. Five-hundred movement members and 12 leaders of the Mehdi Army were arrested recently. Al-Sadr's movement also called for the dismantling of the holy site protection force in Karbala, claiming the protection group instigated recent violence there.

IRAQ: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to discuss the ongoing crisis in which Iraq's Cabinet has quit. Al-Maliki told reporters after the meeting that he came to hear al-Sistani's advice on filling Cabinet vacancies or forming an entirely new government. Neither al-Maliki's nor al-Sistani's office reported on how the meeting went.

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« Reply #318 on: September 07, 2007, 08:40:54 AM »

stratfor.com
IRAQ, U.S.: U.S. and Iraqi troops have intensified military operations against al Qaeda in northern Iraq with the late Sept. 5 launch of a new operation, a statement from the multinational forces said. Approximately 12,000 U.S. troops and 14,000 Iraqi troops participated in the operation, which is considered the largest to be carried out in Diyala province.

IRAQ: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged during a meeting with top Shiite cleric in Iraq Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to purge shrines in An Najaf and Karbala of radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's armed supporters, Azzaman reported, citing unnamed sources in al-Maliki's Hizb al-Dawah party. The sources added that al-Maliki is considering a plan to "uproot" al-Sadr supporters in a fashion similar to de-Baathification, which barred supporters of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime from holding government positions.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2007, 10:56:11 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #319 on: September 07, 2007, 06:02:38 PM »

IRAQ: Former Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in an interview aired on Al Arabiya that he arranged meetings between representatives of the banned Baath Party and senior U.S. officials. The meetings reportedly took place at the request of the United States and included representatives of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. The meetings were aimed at relaxing the ban on former senior- and middle-ranking Baathists from taking government jobs. Al Arabiya said it will broadcast the full interview with Allawi later in the day.
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« Reply #320 on: September 10, 2007, 07:37:49 AM »

1133 GMT -- UNITED STATES, IRAQ -- The Pentagon is planning to establish the first military base and multiple fortified checkpoints near the Iraq-Iran border in an effort to thwart the flow of Iranian weapons into Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 10, citing Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division. The United States recently accused Iran of supporting Iraq's Shiite militias with weapons, though Tehran denies the claim.

1127 GMT-- IRAQ -- Civil war has been prevented in Iraq and violence has dropped 75 percent in Baghdad and Anbar provinces since the latest surge in the number of U.S. troops, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the Iraqi parliament Sept. 10. Al-Maliki's comments came just hours before top U.S. military chief in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus is due to deliver his Iraq assessment to the U.S. Congress. Al-Maliki defended his performance as prime minister in the wake of calls in the United States for his replacement.
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Concerning the first of these:  It has been a mystery to me why we have not controlled border movements with Iran, SA, Syria et al for a long time now , , ,  angry
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G M
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« Reply #321 on: September 10, 2007, 12:41:16 PM »

I don't know what the reason in Iraq would be, but this administration seems to have a problem with controlling any borders.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #322 on: September 10, 2007, 12:52:43 PM »

The truth of that is both funny and tragic.
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« Reply #323 on: September 11, 2007, 06:25:14 PM »

I know.  Build a fence and dig a ditch!  That'll work.
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« Reply #324 on: September 11, 2007, 10:37:59 PM »

Good razor wire fences, mine fields, Predator drones and Marine fire teams make for good neighbors.
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« Reply #325 on: September 11, 2007, 11:56:37 PM »

WE're drifting a bit far afield here.  If you want to address these matters, the Mexico-US thread or the Immigration thread are the places for it.
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« Reply #326 on: September 12, 2007, 02:01:37 PM »

By Bush's Own Standard, Surge Has Failed
By George Will

Before Gen. David Petraeus' report, and to give it a context of optimism, the president visited Iraq's Anbar province to underscore the success of the surge in making some hitherto anarchic areas less so. More significant, however, was the fact that the president did not visit Baghdad. This underscored the fact that the surge has failed, as measured by the president's and Petraeus' standards of success.

Those who today stridently insist that the surge has succeeded also say they are especially supportive of the president, Petraeus and the military generally. But at the beginning of the surge, both Petraeus and the president defined success in a way that took the achievement of success out of America's hands.

The purpose of the surge, they said, is to buy time -- "breathing space," the president says -- for Iraqi political reconciliation. Because progress toward that has been negligible, there is no satisfactory answer to this question: What is the U.S. military mission in Iraq?

Many of those who insist that the surge is a harbinger of U.S. victory in Iraq are making the same mistake they made in 1991 when they urged an advance on Baghdad, and in 2003 when they underestimated the challenge of building democracy there. The mistake is exaggerating the relevance of U.S. military power to achieve political progress in a society riven by ethnic and sectarian hatreds. America's military leaders, who are professional realists, do not make this mistake.

The progress that Petraeus reports in improving security in portions of Iraq is real. It might, however, have two sinister aspects.

First, measuring sectarian violence is problematic: The Washington Post reports that a body with a bullet hole in the front of the skull is considered a victim of criminality; a hole in the back of the skull is evidence of sectarian violence. But even if violence is declining, that might be partly because violent sectarian cleansing has separated Sunni and Shiite communities. This homogenization of hostile factions -- trained and armed by U.S. forces -- may bear poisonous fruit in a full-blown civil war.

Second, brutalities by al-Qaeda in Iraq have indeed provoked some Sunni leaders to collaborate with U.S. forces. But these alliances of convenience might be inconvenient when Shiites again become the Sunnis' principal enemy.

Congressional Democrats should accept Petraeus' report as a reason to declare a victory, one that might make this fact somewhat palatable: Substantial numbers of U.S. forces will be in Iraq when the next president is inaugurated. The Democrats' "victory" -- a chimera but a useful one -- is that Petraeus indicates there soon can be a small reduction of U.S. forces.

To declare this a substantial victory won by them requires Democrats to do two things. They must make a mountain out of a molehill (Petraeus suggests withdrawal of only a few thousand troops). And they must spuriously claim credit for the mountain. Actually, senior military officers have been saying that a large drawdown is inevitable, given the toll taken on the forces by the tempo of operations for more than four years.

But Democrats cannot advertise a small withdrawal as a victory without further infuriating their party's base, the source of energy and money. The base is incandescent because there are more troops in Iraq today than there were on Election Day 2006, when Democratic activists and donors thought, not without reason, that congressional Democrats acquired the power to end U.S. involvement in Iraq.

A democracy, wrote the diplomat and scholar George Kennan, "fights for the very reason that it was forced to go to war. It fights to punish the power that was rash enough and hostile enough to provoke it -- to teach that power a lesson it will not forget, to prevent the thing from happening again. Such a war must be carried to the bitter end." Which is why "unconditional surrender" was a natural U.S. goal in World War II, and why Americans were so uncomfortable with three "wars of choice" since then -- in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.

What "forced" America to go to war in 2003 -- the "gathering danger" of weapons of mass destruction -- was fictitious. That is one reason why this war will not be fought, at least not by Americans, to the bitter end. The end of the war will, however, be bitter for Americans, partly because the president's decision to visit Iraq without visiting its capital confirmed the flimsiness of the fallback rationale for the war -- the creation of a unified, pluralist Iraq.

After more than four years of war, two questions persist: Is there an Iraq? Are there Iraqis?
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« Reply #327 on: September 12, 2007, 04:14:44 PM »

George Will is not a stupid man, nor a mindlessly negative one.  That said, this piece for me misses quite a bit of the forest.  First and foremost, it does not address Iraq in the larger context of the world wide war with Islamic Fascism (both Sunni and Shiite).  It does not address the issue of Iran and its ambitions, both nuclear and regional.  I do not follow his point when he writes "But these alliances of convenience might be inconvenient when Shiites again become the Sunnis' principal enemy."  He does not address the implications of Mooky Sadr pulling his forces from the field of battle in Baghdad.  And a bright guy like GW surely knows the WMD was only one of the reasons for the war-- and the one chosen to justify it to the UN.  Go back to President Bush's speeches before we went to the UN and you will find much more than that.

The Sunnis are now with us due to a) they had their fill of AQ b) they are worried about the Shia and Iran. 

It is quite an accomplishment for our policy, no less real for the failure of GW and the rest of the chattering class to notice it, that the Arab/Muslim world sees the Iraqi Sunnis turn on AQ.  With that step accomplished and with Mooky Sadr, at least momentarily on the sidelines, can we accomplish something similar with the Shia?  What of the implications of our recent moves with the British to interdict Iran's supplies to its agents in the south?  Can we begin to strangle the nuts/agents of Iran amongst the Iraqi Shia in the south?

I DON'T KNOW-- but I think that in this piece at this moment GW is simply another member of the chattering class of Washington who thinks himself profound because he cleverly filters the intellectual detrius of vapors of our nation's capital.

I close with this from Michael Yon in Iraq.  I have the highest respect for MY and support his presence their financially:

Greetings:

Successes are occurring, and accruing, in Iraq. Al Qaeda is still a powerful enemy, but they cannot be happy with their Iraqi franchise this summer.

Readers of my dispatches have gotten first hand reports of the kinds of positive indicators that General David Petraeus described in his progress report.

The atmosphere is changing in Iraq and I've been posting dispatches and videos that illustrate just how profound this change is in some cases.

I was the first to say Iraq was in civil war, and many readers were angry to hear me say it. Well, I'll be the first to say that I predict some sort of milestone for the war in Iraq will occur early in the next year. It's dangerous to predict like this, but something fundamental has changed in Iraq.

There is one important qualifier: this will only happen if General David Petraeus is supported by our elected officials to implement his proposed plan, without meddling from those same elected officials. Oversight and accountability are not the same thing as backseat driving after siphoning out half of the gas tank.

Please read: Hunting Al Qaeda http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/hunting-al-qaeda-part-i-of-iii.htm

v/r
Michael
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« Reply #328 on: September 12, 2007, 05:56:21 PM »

Following up on my previous post, the WSJ says it better than I do:

-----------

Petraeus Takes the Beltway
Political progress--in Iraq and the U.S--follows military success.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

So the two men best qualified to give an honest and comprehensive account of events in Iraq have marched through Congress to say--and show--that the surge is working and America's goals are still within reach. Yet it's a sign of the U.S. political debate that their evidence of progress seemed to make the headlines in none of our leading news sources yesterday.

Instead, the "news" seems to be that General David Petraeus has recommended that some 5,000 U.S. troops can rotate out of Iraq by the end of this year, and that U.S. forces might be able to return to pre-surge levels by next July if progress continues. That's no small matter, but it obscures the larger message of the testimony by the General and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. To wit: The U.S. is gaining ground in Iraq--often in the least expected of ways.


 

Consider some excerpts from Mr. Crocker's testimony. The Iraqi government puts its cell phone spectrum up for auction: It nets a better-than-expected sum of nearly $4 billion. At a recent conference in Dubai, "hundreds of Iraqi businessmen met an equal number of foreign investors newly interested in acquiring shares of business in Iraq." Iraqi oil is now flowing out of the country via Turkish pipelines, and the International Monetary Fund predicts economic growth for Iraq of 6% this year.
In the vicinity of Abu Ghraib, 1,700 men--many of them former Sunni insurgents--have joined the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Security Forces. The Iraqi government is quietly offering jobs or retirement packages to thousands of former soldiers, many of them one-time members of the Baath Party. Significantly, it is doing so without taking the politically sensitive steps of declaring a general amnesty or enacting legislation on de-Baathification.

As Mr. Crocker notes, these developments "are neither measured in benchmarks nor visible to those far from Baghdad." It's a point that seems to have been missed by Democrats on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, as well as by such Republicans as John Warner and Dick Lugar. Their collective view seems to be that Iraq is a lost cause because the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to achieve "national reconciliation," on the grounds that a series of legislative benchmarks have still not been met.

We don't know anyone who opposes "national reconciliation," though perhaps only on Capitol Hill would it be measured by the quantity of legislation passed rather than the quality of life for ordinary Iraqis. (In the U.S., these measures tend to be inversely correlated.) Yet "reconciliation" isn't something that precedes basic security. It follows from it.

In his testimony, General Petraeus noted that violent civilian deaths have declined by 45% in Iraq and 70% in Baghdad. Car and suicide bombings are down by nearly 50% since March, another astonishing turnabout. Here, too, the good news comes from the least expected of places: Anbar province, where Sunni tribal leaders and many former insurgents have realized their best interests lie with the U.S. and a democratic Iraqi government in which they have a say, and not with al Qaeda. Critics claim this realization has nothing to do with the surge, but surely the tribal sheikhs would not risk fighting al Qaeda unless they believed the U.S. and Iraqi government had shown the will to stay and prevail.

Progress in Anbar would also have been harder had Mr. Maliki not agreed to allow the arming of Sunni tribal leaders, despite the danger that could pose to Shiite power. Mr. Maliki has also shown political courage by allowing the U.S. to go after the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr, who only last year helped the prime minister get his job. Mr. Sadr recently agreed to a unilateral ceasefire after some of his men attacked Shiite worshippers in Karbala. Like al Qaeda in Iraq, he too may have overplayed his hand, and one reason for the surge to continue is to give General Petraeus time to further degrade Mahdi elements. This will leave the Iraqi Security Force in a stronger position to keep order after the surge.

One element that's still missing is the non-interference of Iraq's neighbors in its affairs. With Democratic Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich paying court this week in Damascus, it was especially useful to hear General Petraeus describe Syria's role in Iraq as "malign" and provide specific details of Iran's killing of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi government leaders. Our own sources say Iranian-backed forces are now responsible for 70% of U.S. casualties. The problem of Iran in Iraq is worth another editorial, but as the surge continues President Bush is going to have to get far more serious about proving to Tehran that there really are "consequences" for killing Americans. So far Mr. Bush has shown the opposite.


 

As for U.S. politics, the lesson of the last few months is that the way to gain ground on Capitol Hill is not with the promise of troop withdrawals. As our experience in Vietnam showed, such withdrawals quickly become a Congressional addiction. All Americans want fewer troops in Iraq; most Americans also want that drawdown to be honorable and victorious. The way to stop, or slow, the calls for too-rapid withdrawal is to succeed in making further military and political progress in Iraq.
The success of the surge so far has bought Mr. Bush more time and support to press the initiative in Baghdad and the larger Middle East. He owes it to General Petraeus and U.S. troops to exploit this opening on every front--including Syria and Iran.
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #329 on: September 12, 2007, 11:02:56 PM »

Crafty,

I find that so much of what is written today is, for lack of a better word, "fractured". Bits and pieces of ideas, without any concrete backing or a broad view of the problems that we face. If only we could put together some of these bits and pieces and come up with a cohesive plan/foreign policy that could be digested by the public.

You mention two items which I find of interest:

Quote
It does not address Iraq in the larger context of the world wide war with Islamic Fascism (both Sunni and Shiite).


Quote
It does not address the issue of Iran and its ambitions, both nuclear and regional.

I have been doing a lot of thinking recently as to why we as a country have been so unable to wrap our heads around the "larger context". Unfortunately, I have not had the time or energy to formulate a good rant as the school year is fast approaching and the slumbering beast known as "the faculty" is starting to crawl out of its cave and sniff around campus.

However, IMHO the main failure of this administration at this point in time, is its inability to stress the importance of the danger that we as a society face from Islamic Fascism. We were able to do it with the Nazis. We were able to do it with Communism. Why are we so incapable in the face of this new threat? I think much of it has to do with "fractured" thought. We see Iraq only in the context of Iraq. We see Iran only as it relates to the US and not the other countries in the region.

What do we need to do in order to broaden the scope of our vision? How do we impress upon our population the importance of our fight, not against "terrorists" (which I find to be such a blanket term nowadays that it seems to have lost its punch), but against a culture and way of thought that is fundamentally bent on our destruction? And at what point did we allow ourselves to become blind to the danger with which we are faced?

Anyway, I hope to get back to this topic in the near future, when I have some more time to flesh it out. Until then, I hope that someone out there can throw back some responses.

Miguel
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #330 on: September 14, 2007, 09:07:08 AM »

Although this piece is from today's NY Slimes, the thoughts of men such as Gen Abizaid are worth knowing.

A thought:  I find it hard to think that I am the only person to think of this, but in that much of the Shiite-Sunni problem has its roots in the acts of Sunnis when they supported AQ and the acts of AQ against Shiites, doesn't it make sense to say that the Sunnis turning on AQ, (besides being a powerful message throughout the Arab and Muslim world- which seems to me super important) is a pre-requisite for and lays the foundation for Sunnis and Shiia being able to work things out?
================

Why Officers Differ on Troop Reduction
By DAVID S. CLOUD
Published: September 14, 2007
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 — The view of the way forward in Iraq that President Bush articulated on Thursday night was the same one that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, has outlined in Washington all week.

The Reach of War

 » It holds that the military effort there is showing signs of success, that too fast a withdrawal would be foolhardy, and that while the future will be difficult and full of setbacks, it is possible to envision that the American strategy will pay off in the future.

But that vision, which defers a firm decision on steeper reductions in the force, remains deeply unpopular to some current and retired officers, who say the White House and its battlefield commander are continuing to strain the troops, with little prospect of long-term success.

It is the second time in 10 months that Mr. Bush has opted for higher troop levels in Iraq than are favored by some of his senior military advisers. Among those who supported a smaller troop increase than the one Mr. Bush ordered last January were members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Now, some of his advisers would prefer setting a faster timetable for drawing the force back down.

Some even suggest that Mr. Bush’s portrayal of the strategy as relying heavily on recommendations from General Petraeus has been more than a little disingenuous, given that it was unlikely that a battlefield commander would repudiate his own plans.

“This approach can work for brief periods in many places, but it’s not a good long-term solution,” said Douglas A. Macgregor, a retired Army colonel and a critic of the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq. He called General Petraeus’s testimony “another deceitful attempt on the part of the generals and their political masters to extend our stay in the country long enough until Bush leaves office.”

General Petraeus told lawmakers during two days of Congressional testimony this week that his plan for reducing the American presence in Iraq by five combat brigades through mid-July was “fully supported” by Adm. William J. Fallon, the chief of Central Command and the senior American commander in the Middle East, as well as by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The general said, “There has been no recommendation I am aware of that would have laid out by any of those individuals a more rapid withdrawal.”

He acknowledged though that he and other top-ranking officers had begun “discussions about the pace of the mission transition,” a debate that remains unresolved and is likely to flare up again early next year, during a promised further review of additional troop cuts.

Among active-duty officers, the voices of skepticism about Mr. Bush’s approach have been more muted, but they have been significant. The officers who have pushed for deeper cuts have questioned whether his timetable — a drawdown to 15 combat brigades next July, from 20 now — would allow the Army to meet its minimum goal of giving soldiers at least a year at home for every year they are deployed.

Even before General Petraeus appeared before Congress this week, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, last week questioned the significance of what his colleague had achieved.

General Casey, who was General Petraeus’s predecessor as the top commander in Iraq, said that while the decision to send additional forces had produced a “tactical effect” and brought “a temporary and local impact on the security situation,” the “$64,000 question” was “whether the opportunities created by the military could be taken advantage of by the Iraqi political leadership.”

“I think a smaller force will cause Iraqis to do more faster,” General Casey added, speaking at a breakfast sponsored by Government Executive magazine.

Advisers close to General Petraeus say General Casey’s comments were hardly those of a disinterested observer, given that he was effectively dismissed from his post in Iraq as conditions worsened during his tenure.

But his critique goes beyond deeper. He and others on the Joint Chiefs of Staff contend that the current force levels in Iraq cannot be sustained, given the current size of the Army.

Among Mr. Bush’s other senior military advisers, differences about how deep the cuts should go appeared to have been set aside with the decision to postpone further decisions until next spring.

Admiral Fallon was said by some officers to believe that only by giving the Iraqi government a clearer sense that the American troop commitment was limited would the Iraqis take steps aimed at achieving reconciliation.

He also worries about having enough forces in reserve to handle contingencies outside Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the current chief of naval operations, who takes over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs next month, has also raised concerns about force levels, though he also cautions against a withdrawal before the current strategy is allowed to work.

The deeper doubts voiced by General Casey about the prospects for Iraqi reconciliation are shared by the retired general John P. Abizaid, who led the Central Command until January.

“It was clear that putting additional troops in would gain temporary security,” General Abizaid said in a rare interview on Tuesday with The Associated Press.

“What was not clear to me was what we were going to do diplomatically, economically, politically and informationally to make sure that we moved forward in a way that wasn’t just temporary.”
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« Reply #331 on: September 17, 2007, 11:28:07 AM »

U.S./IRAQ: The Iraqi government said it is canceling U.S. security firm Blackwater's license to operate in the country. The decision came after security contractors believed to be working for the company allegedly opened fire on civilians during an attack against a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad on Sept. 16. The Iraqi Interior Ministry, noting that eight civilians were killed and 13 wounded in the exchange, said it would prosecute any foreign contractors that were deemed to have used excessive force in the shooting.

IRAQ: The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Shiite bloc that leads the Iraqi government, called for Muqtada al-Sadr's political movement to change its decision to pull out of the alliance, saying the withdrawal jeopardizes national unity. The pullout leaves the UIA with 32 fewer seats in parliament, giving Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government only 136 of 275 seats it can count on, including 53 seats from two Kurdish groups.

stratfor.com
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G M
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« Reply #332 on: September 17, 2007, 12:11:21 PM »

It would be nice to see the Sunnis and Shias find some ability to co-exist in Iraq, but that would mean being able to move past a lot of ugly history.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #333 on: September 17, 2007, 01:05:36 PM »

Well, now that the Sunnis are opposing AQ instead of in bed with it, IMHO one cornerstone of a foundation for some sort of working relationship has been laid.  Of course by itself, this may not suffice.

Anyway, the Adventure continues.  Here's this from Stratfor on the expulsion of Blackwater:
=======

Iraq: The Possible Repercussions of the Blackwater Suspension
The Iraqi Interior Ministry suspended the operating license of private U.S. security contractor Blackwater on Sept. 17, citing a shootout between a Blackwater security team and insurgents a day earlier that resulted in the death of a least eight Iraqi civilians. The ministry also threatened to prosecute anyone deemed to have used excessive force in the shooting.

Removing Blackwater from Iraq's security equation opens the door to other contractors -- though filling the void left by Blackwater could come at a much higher price. The suspension also could result in more attacks against security contractors by insurgents aiming to increase tensions, further destabilize the security environment in Baghdad and complicate the political process.

The insurgent attack began about midday Sept. 16 as a six-vehicle U.S. State Department convoy returned to the fortified Green Zone through central Baghdad's predominantly Sunni Mansour district. According to reports, an improvised explosive device detonated as the convoy passed through Nisoor Square. The insurgents then attacked the convoy with small arms, sparking a 20-minute firefight with the convoy's Blackwater escorts. Helicopters owned by Blackwater fired into the street in an attempt to provide cover to the security team on the ground, though at least one vehicle in the convoy was disabled during the attack.





The estimated 30,000 security contractors in Iraq -- from the United States and many other countries -- are an integral part of Iraq's security environment. Blackwater, with approximately 1,500 employees in the country, specializes in guarding high-value targets (HVTs) and is contracted to the U.S. State Department to protect convoys transporting diplomats and other personnel. A convoy escorted by Blackwater, with its distinctive vehicles and helicopter support, is easily recognizable -- and likely to contain HVTs.

When a convoy is attacked, the contractor's first priority is to get its charges out of the area as quickly as possible. The long duration of the firefight suggests that the attackers were able to block the escape route or keep the convoy pinned down with heavy direct fire. This suggests the ambush was complex, well planned and well executed. When the shooting was over, at least eight civilians lay dead.

Convoys are vulnerable, especially in Iraq's urban battlefields. Although the State Department sets the training requirements for security contractors it employs, private contractors have been known to respond to an attack with overwhelming force -- mainly because they lack the large support structure that military units can count on when they get into a tight spot. In this case, the Iraqi government indeed claimed that the Blackwater specialists used excessive force in responding to the attack. However, a 20-minute firefight involving automatic weapons can expend a great deal of ammunition and cause a tremendous amount of damage. A shootout that results in only eight noncombatant fatalities suggests the Blackwater security specialists employed a fair degree of control and discipline.

The U.S. government is investigating the incident, and the State Department could convene an accountability review board to determine whether the Blackwater team acted appropriately. In order to maintain the Iraqi government's appearance of sovereignty, the State Department could cancel its Iraq contract with Blackwater. Should it do so, there are two competing private security contractors -- DynCorp and Triple Canopy -- that are eligible fill the void. Neither of these contractors, however, has as many properly vetted U.S. security specialists in Iraq as Blackwater -- and the State Department will want properly vetted U.S. citizens on its HVT protection details. In order to make up the shortfall, the other companies might have to offer large bonuses to prospective replacements, increasing the cost of the original contract dramatically. Many of these replacements could come straight from Blackwater.

This incident and the strong Iraqi and U.S. reaction could cause an escalation in attacks against contractor-escorted convoys and contractor-guarded facilities by groups looking to increase tensions. Should this occur, it could further destabilize the security environment in Baghdad, and complicate the political process. In addition, security contractors are foundational to security in the country and the Green Zone. They protect many VIPs, HVTs, and logistics convoys. If a precedent is set here, attacking contractors and getting them kicked out of the country will prove an effective way to attack the U.S. foundational security and logistics base.
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« Reply #334 on: September 17, 2007, 01:12:38 PM »

That's not a good development. undecided
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« Reply #335 on: September 17, 2007, 03:06:48 PM »

Pardon the late followup to this "blast from the past". Smiley

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.

****Does this mean that we fought in Afghanistan for oil?****

Are you saying that oil is not a serious consideration for us in both Iraq and Afghanistan?

Quote
****The average U.S. serviceman/woman is better educated than the average U.S. citizen. The "poor waifs" arguement doesn't hold water. The US military today is better trained, better educated and better equipped than any military in human history.****

Maybe so, but what we're seeing today is that some problems can't be solved with military force.

Rog
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G M
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« Reply #336 on: September 17, 2007, 03:39:40 PM »

In the larger global strategic sense, protecting Saudia Arabia and the straits of Hormuz are about oil. A stable Iraq producing oil is in our best interest, but we aren't getting any revenue from Iraq today. If Iraq was just about access to Iraq's oil, we could have cut a backroom deal with Saddam in exchange for our dropping sanctions without a shot being fired.

Afghanistan has 1 location producing oil today, if I recall correctly. I don't see Afghanistan attracting many investors, even if some Saudi sized oil field were discovered.
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« Reply #337 on: September 17, 2007, 06:32:54 PM »

Woof, It was reported on the 6 oclock news that Condi Rice, apologised for Blackwaters actions in an effort to smooth things over. undecided
Even though the convoy was attacked? Am I the onley one who finds this odd?
I think this incident will be telling, of how good our relationship with the Iraqi government is.
Apparently by Condi kissing some Butt, its not REALLY that good.
I wonder how well our diplomats and higher powers will get around without the Blackwater escourts........I think this story will be very intresting to watch.
                                                               TG
Will our Gov. sell out Blackwater?
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« Reply #338 on: September 17, 2007, 07:00:53 PM »

Woof GM,

In the larger global strategic sense, protecting Saudia Arabia and the straits of Hormuz are about oil. A stable Iraq producing oil is in our best interest, but we aren't getting any revenue from Iraq today.

Above you list three major oil-producing countries.  One is the country of origin of 14-15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.  One we're at war with now.  One we're threatening to go to war with.  In all seriousness (not in a "no blood for oil!" sloganeering sense) would you agree that oil is the main reason why we even care about what happens in the Middle East?

Quote
If Iraq was just about access to Iraq's oil, we could have cut a backroom deal with Saddam in exchange for our dropping sanctions without a shot being fired.

Agreed.  At the same time I would argue that if it were just about terrorism, we'd be doing a whole bunch of other things differently.

Quote
Afghanistan has 1 location producing oil today, if I recall correctly. I don't see Afghanistan attracting many investors, even if some Saudi sized oil field were discovered.

Again, agreed.

I seem to remember a lot of discussion during the 1990s about readying the US military to fight wars on multiple fronts simultaneously.  You might know more details about this than me.  In any case, it seems like they've gotten the chance to try it out and are no doubt very concerned about the results.
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« Reply #339 on: September 17, 2007, 08:47:58 PM »

Tom:

This may answer some of your questions.

Marc
==================================

Iraq: Coming Down on the Contractors
September 17, 2007 17 36  GMT



Summary

The Iraqi Interior Ministry said it suspended Blackwater USA's license to operate in the country Sept. 17 following an incident in Baghdad that left at least eight civilians dead. Whatever Blackwater's fate, security contractors will remain essential to the U.S. effort in Iraq. But the move bodes ill for the security contractors, both in Baghdad and Washington.

Analysis

Security contractor Blackwater USA reportedly had its license to operate in Iraq suspended after an incident involving the deaths of at least eight civilians in the Mansour district of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Sept. 17. The U.S. contractor recently has been involved in a standoff with Iraqi troops.

Incidents of security contractors using excessive force are nothing new in Iraq. But this latest incident could represent a turning point for the issue -- both in Baghdad and Washington.

Some 30,000 security contractors in Iraq provide everything from mundane perimeter security at key infrastructure sites to personal security details for high-value targets like Gen. David Petraeus, who normally would be protected by U.S. military personnel. (In peacetime, Delta soldiers would be covering Petraeus). With the U.S. military stretched as thin as it is, security contractors of all types help keep U.S. troops free for frontline military operations.

Blackwater has profited greatly from this situation. Its business model has allowed it to offer volume pricing to the CIA and the State Department because of its ability to recruit and train large numbers of employees to fill demand for security contractor services.

Despite increased attention from the Iraqi government, a complete withdrawal of security contractors from Iraq is simply not in the cards, especially given U.S. moves to begin drawing down troops levels later in 2007. Though the fortunes of specific companies in Iraq could rise and fall, security contractors will continue to be needed in Iraq as long as U.S. troops remain in the country.

But the contractors' working environment could soon become much less comfortable. The timing of this most recent incident comes at a crucial juncture for the Bush administration. The turning of the tide -- both in Iraq and the United States -- might now provide an impetus for enforcing standards of conduct on the contractors. This has previously been legislated and mandated, but never enforced. Who will do the monitoring and enforcing remains an open question, however. Given how thin U.S. agencies are stretched, no one in Iraq really has the bandwidth to monitor -- much less enforce -- any kind of standards of conduct on security contractors.

And in addition to laying another mission at the feet of the U.S. military or another agency with its hands already too full in Iraq, any attempt to move toward monitoring and enforcement inevitably will churn up past incidents -- and there are plenty to look back on. In two days in late May, for instance, Blackwater contractors killed a civilian driver (the contractors might have used appropriate escalation of force) in a contentious incident and also saw the contractors wind up in a standoff with Iraqi security forces. A U.S. military convoy had to intervene to settle the incident. This dredging process will become ugly.

Iraqi civilians universally revile the force and aggression these firms often use, since they most often bear the brunt of it. Regardless of whether the latest grievance is legitimate, the history of animosity is there. Though hardly all security contractors have used excessive force, this largely is beside the point. The abuses of some security contractors mean no Iraqi politician or government agency is going to stand up for them. They are a particularly unpopular element of an already painfully unpopular war.

For Iraq's political leadership -- whether Sunni or Shiite -- going after the contactors represents a means of publicly challenging the occupation and appearing to address an issue that transcends sectarian divisions without touching on the issue of foreign military forces.

On the other side of the world, security contractors will not be easy to defend politically. Indeed, as the White House attempts to distance itself from Blackwater due to investigations into financial misconduct, security contractors could find themselves without a political ally -- making them easy prey for a Democratic Party trying to walk a fine line between opposing the war in Iraq while supporting U.S. troops and appearing tough on defense.

But even if the party as a whole does not aggressively pursue the issue, the issue offers individual senators and representatives -- Democratic and Republican alike -- in trouble with their constituencies to come down hard on the war. The Democrats, already on thin ice with the party's large anti-war constituency, in particular will not rein in these individual members of Congress. For security contractors, the streets of Washington could soon become as unfriendly as the streets of Baghdad.
stratfor.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #340 on: September 17, 2007, 09:06:38 PM »

Sorry to dump so much reading on everyone so fast, but sometimes life is like that:

Geopolitical Diary: A Shift in Iran's Calculus?
September 18, 2007 02 00  GMT



Paris added some oomph into a U.S. campaign against Iran on Monday when French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the world must prepare for war over Iran's nuclear policies. Kouchner's remarks triggered a fiery statement from Tehran, which brandished the new French presidency as a U.S. copycat bent on impressing the White House. As the Iranians rather cheekily put it, "the French people will never forget the era when a non-European moved into the Elysee."

In the last few days a number of European states have taken a far firmer position against things Iranian -- in particular Iran's nuclear program -- than ever before. Under pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy, France -- once the bastion of pro-Iranian sentiment in Europe under Jacques Chirac -- has openly warned of war as the logical consequence of the Iranian program should circumstances not change. On Monday the Netherlands threw its support behind a growing movement in the European Union for sanctions, specifically noting that should the United Nations prove unable to enact them, the European Union is morally obligated to.

The only notable European state that so far has held back from threatening war against the Iranians is Germany, which holds the lion's share of European investment into and trade with Iran. But even there the situation is starkly different from two years ago, when Gerhard Schroeder ruled. Not only is Angela Merkel's Germany far more willing to consider Washington's point of view, European sanctions against Iran would censure Iran's primary nuclear supplier -- Russia -- in a way that would likely avoid a major dust up. As Germany (gently) reasserts its supremacy in Europe, such fights without pain are an excellent means of garnering credibility and momentum.

With all this war and sanctions talk circulating on the European continent, Iran is longing for the early days of the Iraq war, when it could adroitly manipulate the divide between the United States and Europe. Back then, when the Iran-EU-3 talks were still in play, Iran used the nuclear negotiations a way to buy time to further its nuclear program and bargain with the United States over political concessions it was seeking in Iraq.

But with Europe shifting its mood and the United States using every opportunity to remind Tehran that a military option is still on the table, the Iranians are now looking at a very uncertain future. At this time, it would be useful to re-examine Iran's Iraq policy moving forward.

Before the delivery of Gen. David Petraeus' Iraq report, the expectation was that U.S. President George W. Bush had lost his fighting power against Congress, and that a withdrawal was all but imminent. The celebrations in Tehran could be heard across the Atlantic as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced to the world that Iran was preparing to fill the vacuum in Iraq.

And then came the buzz kill.

Despite repeated declarations that Iraq had barely reached one out of 18 political and security benchmarks, Bush responded to Petraeus' surprisingly optimistic report by declaring that the United States would remain committed to Iraq (Iraq's Sunni community in particular.) Troop levels would gradually decrease, but Iran would be staring at U.S. forces across the border for a long, long time. In short, Bush was setting an Iraq agenda for a long-term, robust troop presence that would extend well beyond his own presidency.

Iran now has loads to reconsider. A long-term troop presence in Iraq and continued U.S. support for Iraq's Sunni community not only complicates Iran's plans to consolidate its gains in Iraq, but also puts Iran in a very uncomfortable situation in which it faces a constant security threat from the United States across its border. Moreover, the nuclear dossier can be seized by Washington (as well as the Europeans) at any time to make a case for military action against Iran. Tehran might be feeling confident that the United States lacks the bandwidth to carry out an attack against Iran now, but give it two, three years, and Tehran's clerical regime will be living in a cloud of uncertainty while being boxed in by the United States on both its western and eastern borders in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.

Now Tehran must decide whether it is still worth its while to negotiate an Iraq settlement with the United States, bet that it will not underestimate the U.S. a third time, and wager that enough pain can be inflicted on U.S. troops and enough chaos can perpetuate in Baghdad to force the United States into leaving the region. The Iranians still have a number of options at hand moving forward, but the decision-making process just got a lot trickier.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #341 on: September 17, 2007, 10:00:09 PM »

Woof, Everyone here knows who make up Blackwater(Ex military elite), and evidently our top brass,military, diplomats and all others, feel that these are the guys to escourt and guard them.
Yet, when attacked....It appears the time has come to stab a brother in the back.......I understand that civilians were killed and the firfight was sustained....for me a 20 minute firefight does seem lengthy........Yet, the scenario I've heard described seems (at least to me) that Blackwater was within their rights in defending the convoy of diplomats.
If this does pan out to be an abandonment of our Gov. of these guys.....I think it quite wrong and am not sure I would want to put my trust in them covering my back(our Gov.)....when I was covering theirs with my life.
Hope this makes sense......Bottom line.......I'am refering to what sounds like a huge back stabbing in the making. plain and simple......
                                                                     TG
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« Reply #342 on: September 17, 2007, 11:18:37 PM »

Woof GM,

In the larger global strategic sense, protecting Saudia Arabia and the straits of Hormuz are about oil. A stable Iraq producing oil is in our best interest, but we aren't getting any revenue from Iraq today.

Above you list three major oil-producing countries.  One is the country of origin of 14-15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.  One we're at war with now.  One we're threatening to go to war with.  In all seriousness (not in a "no blood for oil!" sloganeering sense) would you agree that oil is the main reason why we even care about what happens in the Middle East?

***It's why everyone on the planet, unless you are a hunter-gatherer has to be concerned about the middle east. Better believe China, India and many other countries have military contingency plans to secure access to oil. Saudi Arabia is the evil jihadist twin stuck to our abdomen. Read up on their history and you'll see how they made themselves invaluable to us while at the same time funding the global jihad. In my opinion, Saudi Arabia is the center of gravity for the sunni side of the global jihad. I dream of the day when another source of energy can make oil obsolete and the Saudis can go back to gathering dates on camelback.***

Quote
If Iraq was just about access to Iraq's oil, we could have cut a backroom deal with Saddam in exchange for our dropping sanctions without a shot being fired.

Agreed.  At the same time I would argue that if it were just about terrorism, we'd be doing a whole bunch of other things differently.

***What things?***

Quote
Afghanistan has 1 location producing oil today, if I recall correctly. I don't see Afghanistan attracting many investors, even if some Saudi sized oil field were discovered.

Again, agreed.

I seem to remember a lot of discussion during the 1990s about readying the US military to fight wars on multiple fronts simultaneously.  You might know more details about this than me.  In any case, it seems like they've gotten the chance to try it out and are no doubt very concerned about the results.


***Yeah, historically under the Reagan administration up to Clinton, the US military was structured to be able to fight two major fronts and a regional conflict all that the same time (In WWII, most resources went to the war in europe, the war against Japan was deemed secondary in importance). Under Clinton, we enjoyed the "Peace dividend". The US military was downsized dramatically. It's a good excuse for the current administration if we were in 2003. Here we are in 2007 and we haven't built back up to pre-Clinton levels. A serious mistake in my book. The rebuilding should have started 9/12/2001.***
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #343 on: September 18, 2007, 08:22:57 AM »

I share this criticism of President Bush.  His failure (via Rumbo) to listen to his generals who told him they would need more boots on the ground was foolish.  His failure to respond to the facts on the ground as they developed was either arrogant-- or fear of the political consequences.  Even Sen. Kerry was calling for an increase of 40,000 for the Army during the 2004 elections, but Bush kept saying everything was hunky dory.  A HUGE ERROR, the consequences of which are documented daily on this forum.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #344 on: September 18, 2007, 07:42:20 PM »

C'mon guys...."We seek truth" and I had to go back 3 pages of posts to find anything on Iraq and my Yahoo home page has this story on its front page undecided

Am I the onley one who thinks tis a big deal?
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070918/ap_on_re_us/us_iraq_embassy

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WASHINGTON - The United States on Tuesday suspended all land travel by U.S. diplomats and other civilian officials throughout Iraq, except in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. The move follows a weekend incident involving private security guards protecting a diplomatic convoy in which a number of Iraqi civilians were killed.

In a notice sent to Americans in Iraq, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said it had taken the step to review the security of its personnel and possible increased threats to those leaving the Green Zone while accompanied by such security details.

"In light of a serious security incident involving a U.S. embassy protective detail in the Mansour District of Baghdad, the embassy has suspended official U.S. government civilian ground movements outside the International Zone (IZ) and throughout Iraq," the notice said.

"This suspension is in effect in order to assess mission security and procedures, as well as a possible increased threat to personnel traveling with security details outside the International Zone," said the notice, a copy of which was provided to The Associated Press by the State Department in Washington.

The notice did not say when the suspension would expire.

The move came amid uncertainty over the status of the security contractor, Blackwater USA, which was involved in Sunday's incident in which at least 11 people died and provides the bulk of security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

Iraqi officials have said they revoked the operating license of the firm but both the company and the State Department say they have received no formal notice of such a step.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday that officials from the agency's Bureau of Diplomatic Security are cooperating with Iraqi authorities in investigating the incident, which has fueled popular Iraqi anger at the private security firms often perceived as operating outside the law.

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Howling Dog
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« Reply #345 on: September 18, 2007, 08:05:33 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2007/09/18/video-christians-pray-for-and-with-burned-iraqi-boy-in-california/

CNN worth watching.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #346 on: September 18, 2007, 08:21:26 PM »

Woof GM, huh I don't get it. What are you getting at on your Yousef/CNN post?
                                                           TG
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #347 on: September 18, 2007, 08:33:57 PM »

Tom,

I has posted on this story earlier. As far as the Blackwater story goes, it's a non-story in the big picture.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #348 on: September 18, 2007, 08:58:10 PM »

GM, Blackwater a non story in the big picture?
Please expound on your statement...... Non stroy/big picture leaves much to the immagination.
I wouldn't want to interpret it wrongly.
                                                              TG
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #349 on: September 18, 2007, 09:16:47 PM »

Contractors probably won't be going anywhere and much of the story is media hype.
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