Friday, October 22, 2004

 

Iraq: Seeking Solutions



Seeking Solutions (1)
Overview


In a series of posts I intend to discuss possible solutions to the mess we (Iraqis and Americans) are in at the moment. Here is an overview:

Premises

My starting position in the coming discussions will be based on a set of premises. I feel that I have to state my basic assumptions clearly and explicitly (Regular readers must have become familiar with them by now. I hope they will forgive the repetition).

1. Iraqis have lost all faith in America (Yes, America. Most people do not distinguish between the country and its government). I can't blame them, and (if you have been reading my posts for the past five months without too much blind hatred)… neither should you! I have alluded to some of the reasons for this in previous posts. There are many more that I did not mention. To be practical, we have to accept this as a starting point.

2. Any more declarations of good intent or promises of democracy or justifications in terms of the fight against world terrorism… will not work.

3. The US army is seen by the overwhelming majority (more than 82% last May, now more) of Iraqis as an occupying army. Most nations resist occupying armies. It will therefore be increasingly resisted.

4. The majority of ordinary Americans do not wish, in principle, to do the Iraqi people any harm or to do any unnecessary damage to Iraq.

5. Democracy as a system of government has a long list of defects and weaknesses, but it is still the best available system by far.

6. The majority of people in Iraq, as elsewhere, are decent, peace-loving and moderate. They just have a different (but not an evil) value structure.


Plan for coming posts - Overview

I will be attempting to address a number of nagging questions:

How did we get here?
Many posts in this blog and my other blog US Mistakes in Iraq tell some of the story! I will not discuss these further.

Where are we?
I will recount a summary of the major losses incurred by both Iraq and America so far.


Where do we want to go?
I will then try and define our objective for Iraq. With Saddam gone and the threat of WMD non-existent, the remaining declared intention is leading Iraq to stability and democracy. But what is democracy? Are we sure that we all mean the same thing when we talk about democracy? I will not discuss "other" objectives such as world domination, oil, religious crusades and other "undeclared objectives"… not that they don't exist, but I hope I'm talking to people and not governments!

How do we get there?
In this part I will try and discuss the options available. Those that I can think of at the moment are:

1. Maintaining the present course.

2. "Bombing the living daylights out of them".

3. Withdrawing immediately.

4. Building Rapid Democracy in Iraq.

5. Finding a solution through international cooperation.

***


I would be grateful for any suggestions regarding this plan. I will try hard to keep my posts short, but frankly I am not sure (in fact I doubt) that I will be successful in that! I can only do my best.

I would like to ask readers to comment on the specific issues discussed in each post so that we may have a "focused" debate.I know that it is not easy, but please try to stick to the issue being discussed.

I have had to learn some rudimentary HTML to be able to signal the number of comments for each post under the "Recent Items" in the side bar on the left. Regular readers can then monitor any new comments to the post of interest.





Comments:

From Circular

Well since you ask for suggestions ...
It seems to me that you’re setting yourself a hell of a big agenda, and the way things have been going your intentions are likely to be overtaken by events. I would suggest that you skip "How did we get here," which will just produce endless recriminations and name-calling, and start right in on "Where are we."
Even then you’re probably in for an uphill struggle. You saw how your "gestimates" of the size of the resistance sobered even the rabid Barry for a moment, but your prefatory premises are just asking for trouble. People do not like to be told that they are hated! It takes hours of blogging to extract a grudging admission from an American that they might have slightly mishandled their occupation of your country, and getting them to admit that this is just cause for hatred, forget it.
Maybe just go straight to "Where do we want to go?" That seems an interesting question - its a fairly unique situation, a totally traumatised and dysfunctional country occupied by brutal conquerors who don’t really want to be brutal, they just don’t know any better, and who by now don’t even really want to be there, they just don’t know how to get out.
Frankly I wonder whether you shouldn’t just wait for the U.S. election. Every day brings fresh revelations of the insane ineptitude of the current administration - now we’re told that there was simply no planning at all for the aftermath of the invasion - and the world’s hope for "anybody but Bush" may still be realised. Planning Iraq’s future in the context of a rational U.S. government would be a much simpler proposition.
 
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Rabid Barry??? And his "revelations" on the number of "insurgents" has nothing to do with my "sobering".

"It takes hours of blogging to extract a grudging admission from an American that they might have slightly mishandled their occupation of your country, and getting them to admit that this is just cause for hatred, forget it."

WRONG. Anyone will admit that mistakes were made. Except for maybe Bush and to be fair, the minute he admits any mistakes he will be pounced on.

Also, even if that scumbag traitor Kerry is elected it won't change the situation on the ground anytime soon.

Why is this only looked at from the "what can the US do" to fix the situation? Why not: "How can Iraqis and the US work together to stop the unnecessary violence on both sides long enough to hold fair elections so the US can get out?"
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
Great idea! We do want to stay ahead of the situation, not just comment of the past mistakes.
I wonder if Iraqis are also debating these issues openly. My hope is that the voices of reconciliation and peace will be heard.
 
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I think something overlooked is "What can the Iraqi populace do for itself to govern itself?" Everything seems to rely on America and a coalition, but I haven't heard ideas coming from Iraqis themselves. Yet while everyone is depending upon us and a coalition to put a country together, it seems the majority are content to sit and criticize us.

Part of democracy is exploring individual ideas to see if they work. I'm interested in hearing constructive ideas to solve the problems at hand, from Iraqis. I think your blog is a start.

Madame Butterfly
 
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"Circular" - Another the grass is greener even though it is seeded with lies type. You and your type are very dangerous my friend.

I have been reading this blog for quite a while now and this is my first post. I think what inspired me is that I finally saw a glimmer of hope in this man's post. For the first time I see questions not blame. I also see contradictions of slamming democracy then asking how do you make it work. Only you can determine that. We are trying to help. It cannot be accomplished without hope and faith in Allah or God or whomever you refer to as your savior. What it cannot be is hatred and mistrust. America only wants peace. This is true no matter what party or religion. We are all brothers and sisters in humanity. God forgive the mistakes and open the hearts of all to love and forgiveness.
 
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Abu, as you say, "Democracy as a system of government has a long list of defects and weaknesses, but it still the best available system by far"; it is also not a well-defined term. Perhaps in the "Where do you want to go" section, you could look at both where you want to go as well as what's practical in the short term, and somewhere in that space discuss what sort of democracy has a chance of working in Iraq anytime soon.

I'm thinking of how the Russians (and most of the rest of us) were so excited about that country becoming a democracy, and I think have been terribly disappointed at finding themselves living with a very twisted version of democratic government with a significant portion of the economy controlled by organized crime.
 
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I'm not sure how valuable a discussion this can be when one has to accept without question from the start such unverifiable and nebulous conjectures as "Iraqis have lost all faith in America."
 
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I don't believe that all Iraqi's have lost faith in America.
 
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From Circular to Andy

"Perhaps in the "Where do you want to go" section, you could look at both where you want to go as well as what's practical in the short term, and somewhere in that space discuss what sort of democracy has a chance of working in Iraq anytime soon."

Andy that's very well put and more-or-less what I was trying to say. I think what is needed now is practical short-term solutions rather than idealistic long term plans. And I still think that depends largely on the character of the U.S. administration.

I mean, it's very easy to talk with the benefit of hindsight, but clearly Iraq would be very different now if the conquerors had put a really immediate and massive effort into such things as rebuilding and re-stocking hospitals, and restoring infrastructure like power, water and sewerage. The extreme insurgency that has developed might have been thwarted before it really got going.
The tragedy is that I fear that boat has now been missed - I mean even in the unlikely event that a large U.N. force could be put in, they probably wouldn't be welcome now. The Iraqis are just too pissed off.
I'll be very interested in what Abu thinks is possible in the short term.
 
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from Circular

In the absence of anyone else commenting, perhaps I could pick up on Andy’s statement that democracy is not a well-defined term - this may have some relevance to Iraq, or be of interest to Abu.
I don’t really know because I don’t fully understand what’s meant to come out of the January elections, if they happen, and I’m doubtless full of misinformation, but as I understand it there are two principal versions of democracy now available.
One is what you might call the "Presidential" model, where an elected individual is granted executive power for a given period, whatever the actual preferences of the electorate might be. I gather that the U.S.A. is like this: I understand that they can have a Democratic President but a Republican Congress, or a President elected on Electoral College votes but with a minority of popular votes.
The other is the Westminister model, where the party in power must maintain an actual majority in Parliament in order to govern. Presidents or Monarchs are basically symbolic.
The N.Z. experience may be of interest to Abu. We had the pure Westminister system, which produced two main parties that sort of took it in turns to be in power. In each Electorate or district representatives were elected on a "first past the post basis" - a racing reference. But we ended up with a situation where a third party was getting 20% of the national vote, but no power in Parliament, because it couldn’t win electorates under FPP.
So we recently changed to an MMP (multi-member proportionate) system whereby the Electorate seats were maintained, but party seats were added to reflect nationwide party preferences. You have two votes - local representative and national party. (I believe most European systems are more like this.)
So far it’s sort of worked - neither of the two main parties has been able to obtain a majority in Parliament, they’ve had to govern with the co-operation of minor coalition parties which keep them honest. For example, our present Labour party might like to open up to G.E. modification in agriculture, but they need the Green party to stay in power, and the Greens can therefore place curbs on this.
In U.S.A. terms I guess it would mean something like voting Republican for your local Congressman, out of party loyalty, but Democrat for President. Reminds me of my sainted father, who was frustrated because he could never vote Labour even though he agreed with all their actual policies.
I suspect (from vague memories of a previous post) that Abu has ideas about growing democracy from the grassroots up. This however could take a while. Can I ask, given the pluralistic nature of Iraqi society, with religious, tribal and regional differences, is some sort of MMP perhaps a way of avoiding what we fear most - i.e. the emergence of another Saddam as soon as the occupiers leave. If they do. If the Allawi party could only govern with the consent of the Kurds, would that keep him honest? Should you have three votes - district, political and religious? So that people to whom religion is important can feel that they have had their say nationally, even if their preferred Mullah isn’t elected in their district? Is it possible that multiple voting choices might calm some of the intransigent extremism which may derail any attempt at democracy anyway?
I don’t know if I’m helping. And first you’ve got to somehow achieve some sort of stability - is it too late for that now?
 
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"1. Iraqis have lost all faith in America (Yes, America. Most people do not distinguish between the country and its government)."

Everyone should realize that the American government is elected by its people. The policies of the US government cannot ever stray far from the opinions of the people for very long. We have regular elections to correct our leaders.

"2. Any more declarations of good intent or promises of democracy or justifications in terms of the fight against world terrorism… will not work."

Fine. Believe whatever stupid thing you want--hey, its your country. You can choose to ruin it if you want. A great many Iraqis are selecting a foolish path right now--one that is getting them killed and killing their family members and fellow citizens too.

Please tell me this: If the IEDs stopped and attacks on US forces stopped, wouldn't there be immediate peace in Iraq? Seems to me it would look a lot like Afghanistan, where violence is nearly zilch.

For intent, look what has happened in Afghanistan. We announced we'd bring down the Taliban and replace it with a democratic government. Well, the votes are still being counted, but I'd call that done. And, historically, you can look at Germany, Japan, and South Korea for previous efforts.

Yes, I suppose you could believe that Iraq is the sole and singular exception and that the USA has evil intent toward Iraq. But you'd have to be an idiot to think so. Then again, we can see every day that there are plaenty of idiots in Iraq.

"3. The US army is seen by the overwhelming majority (more than 82% last May, now more) of Iraqis as an occupying army. Most nations resist occupying armies. It will therefore be increasingly resisted."

This can only mean that the majority of Iraqis are ignorant fools. The problem is the Iraqi people--not the American soldiers. If the mere presence of US soldiers was "an occupation" then we would see car bombs and IEDs all over Germany, Japan, and South Korea. Nope, this disease is unique to Iraq, and it is because a lot of Iraqis are just stupid and hold foolish beliefs.

"4. The majority of ordinary Americans do not wish, in principle, to do the Iraqi people any harm or to do any unnecessary damage to Iraq."

This, of course, is true.
 
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Couple comments...

In the US, the president is separately elected, but the powers of the executive are limited constitutionally. The president cannot initiate legislation. He appoints justices, but they must be approved by the Senate (which frequently doesn't). Although lately congress has enhanced the powers of the executive branch by giving the president power to appoint the heads of many agencies, when it comes to domestic policy, the president usually has his hands tied. Almost everything in the budget is determined by congressional politics. Even if the president's party sets out to cut certain things or spend more on others, congressmen will form alliances across party lines to put benefits to their state back in. In the end, the budget rarely resembles whatever the president set out to get.

That's one reason why American presidents tend to focus on foreign policy a lot. They are a lot more free to act and effect change outside of the US than inside it. In addition, in recent years Congress has established a precedent of allowing the president to use the military by executive order without obtaining approval from congress first. That wasn't the case with Iraq, but was in most of the smaller actions like Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Somalia, etc.


About Afghanistan, although I agree that the elections there are evidence of America's good intent, that country still has a ways to go before full democracy. For instance, it was only a presidential election. Elections to a national assembly have yet to occur. (If I remember correctly they are scheduled for the spring.) However, given the peaceful way this election occured, I feel fairly confident that they will be able to hold sucessful assembly elections without too much trouble.

Iraq is, in a way, direct evidence of the difficulty that America has always had trying to promote democracy abroad. Japan and Germany are sucess stories, but there is a long line of failed attempts and various degrees of dictatorship that America has been behind.

Which is precisely the point. Even though the US has always tried to promote freedom and democracy, it is, obviously, not a simple thing to do. We're supporting the unelected interim government right now, why? Not because we are against democracy, but because someone has to run the country while we prepare for elections, and it's more effective if it is an Iraqi government. Allawi is not a saint either, but we are supporting him why? Because he was the consensus choice of existing Iraqi political groups and the UN. We are cautiously supporting Sistani, even though he's an Islamist cleric, why? Because he has genuine political power, and is a counter balance to Moqtada Sadr.

You see there is never one "perfect" group or person to support, and we have to work with the material we are given on the ground. That's been the case across the board for virtually all of America's interventions abroad. Events are mostly not under America's control, there are other forces and other powers working against us all the time, and Iraq is a case in point. Even if you have the best of intentions, the ill will of your enemies can ensure that things will not go smoothly.
 
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The mentions above of Germany and Japan are interesting, because they were so different from the situation in Iraq.
In Germany, by the end of the war, the place had been bombed flat, millions of their men were in prison camps, and initially there were really huge occupation armies. Even if there had been Germans wanting to resist, they wouldn't have stood a chance.
In Japan, because of their belief in Imperial divinity, basically when Hirohito said "give in and submit" they did exactly that.
There is of course no Iraqi equivalent of the Emperor - nor as I understand it any single spiritual equivalent who could command both Sunni and Shiite.
And as Abu suggested with his estimates of the size of the insurgency, you might now need a really huge occupation army to bring the various factions under control. By the sound of it, from reports from Iraqi bloggers, just dealing with the criminal element that's emerged could be beyond the Iraqi police for a long time yet.
How do you install democracy in the middle of a war?
I don't want to sound gloomy and doomy but I can't see any answer.
 
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Anonymous# a lot like Afghanistan, where violence is nearly zilch.
Anynomous# ignorant fool

Oui, vous etes!

Anonymous# there are plaenty of idiots

Bien sure!
 
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How do you feel about an immediate and complete American withdrawal? I advocate this position completely. However, even so-called liberals here in America believe that the chaos and civil war that would ensue would be far more harmful to the Iraqi people than establishing a government there.

What do you think>
 
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To Joe from Circular

"How do you feel about an immediate and complete American withdrawal?"

Good question. Who are you asking, Abu or the rest of us?
One's immediate reaction is "Hell, no! There would be chaos," just like you say. And then you start to think:
1) It looks like The U.S. Army is being stretched to breaking point. If they don't introduce a draft, it seems unlikely that the present force can fight effectively for very much longer - combatting a guerilla uprising must be one of the most stressful assignments a soldier can face, especially when there is no end in sight. There are indications that the National Guard and the Reserve force are beginning to rebel against the way they are being used.
2) There seem to be two wars going on - an imaginary one in Washington and a real one on the ground. Take the obsession with capturing Al Zarqwhi and subduing Fallujah - he is just an animal who likes beheading people, he's not leading the Iraqis, and some hard-core insurgents may stay and die in Fallujah, but most of them have probably already left and are ready to fight elsewhere. The real war seems to be against the truck convoys and the patrols, and is being fought by part-time insurgents who can't be separated from the general population. And Abu suggests that there are many, many more of them than Washington will ever admit. And the cunning tactic of constantly attacking the "puppet" army at its recruiting points suggests that there are some pretty smart and ruthless cookies dug in deep.
3)Could it be that continuing the Occupation might actually be the worst option, i.e. that an occupation force too small and exhausted to exercise effective control might actually produce more chaos, if this goes on indefinitely, than an admission of failure and a quick "bug out?" Why must we automatically assume that the Iraqis would be incapable of sorting something out for themselves without Big Daddy's guiding hand? The majority of them seem to be quite convinced that they don't want to hold that hand.
"Can't stay, can't leave ... " its so depressing to think that the guy who started all this, if he is not re-elected, will just go back to playing golf, as though nothing happened on his watch.
 
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There is no need for a draft. The size of the military is determined by an act of congress which sets how many divisions, soldiers, etc shall be employed at any one time. Recruiting efforts are not suffering, but the number of soldiers the US is allowed to keep is limited by this.

So, all they have to do is increase the defense budget, and re-create some of the divisions that were disbanded at the end of the Cold War.

The draft fear mongering is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how the US military works.
 
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Circular,

I was posing my question to the Blog author but your response was interesting and appreciated. Conservatives tend to underestimate the strain on our armed forces and their disinformation messaging has been very effective. Kerry and others have set the record straight that a large percentage of our military are either returning from, headed to, stationed in, or preparing for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Your greatest point is that it is arrogance for us to believe that Iraq would descend in recklessness and unabated chaos should we withdraw. Perhaps that's what the British believed before disallowing our own independence.

I see many commonalities between the pacification/genocidal policies against native americans and our policies in the Middle East. We have contempt, might, trade interests, infringement on their sovereignty, interest in their resources and encroachment on their culture. Just how far will we push this? Will we enact Ann Coulter's dream and "put [all Muslims] to the sword"? Will we create what amounts to reservations for them? Will we enact genocidal policies as we did with the Native Americans?

The conservative message to soccer moms is that we're going to turn Iraq into the next Germany or Japan. Why is this not possible?
 
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Er, no, the disinformation is coming from the people who keep scare-mongering about a draft.

Look it up. The size of the military is determined by congressional budget allocations. This is a fact. Not to mention that every single administration official has publicly stated that they don't need one, no serious person thinks there is any need for a draft. Anyone who knows what they are talking about knows that they can increase the size of the military just by allocating more money in the defense budget to maintain a larger army.

As for Iraq... get serious. There is absolutely no way the Islamic fundamentalists would cease fighting if the US left. Nor would the Arab nationalists. Neither of these groups is going to put down their weapons and happily submit to a majority Shiite Muslim government in a free election in Iraq. To entertain this notion is wishful thinking at best. Certainly not the kind of tenuous conjecture that one should base the future of the planet for the next several generations on.

Think about it. Zaraqwai is a Sunni Wahabbi. His rhetoric *explicitly* condemns Shiites as infidels. It's in the name of his group, for crying out loud!
The Sunni Baathists, on the other hand, are secular Arab nationalists. They would despise a government made up of Shiite Muslims with heavy religious influence, as seems likely, given Sistani's influence. They are mortal enemies as well. Now, I happen to think that most Sunnis would be willing to accept a Shiite government in a free election, but the guys with the guns are the ones who wouldn't. They aren't going to just put them down sing songs and hold hands.

At some point, of course, we have to assume that the Iraqi government will be strong enough to hold these forces off, but I sure as heck wouldn't bet on it before the election and the signing of a permanent constitution.

Besides, it's not even that far off. Why is everyone getting their panties in a knot three months before the election?
 
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From Circular
To Anonymous above

I think you miss my point. Congress can create as many paper divisions as it likes, the question is can they be staffed without a draft? I wouldn’t know. Is there a backlog of applicants waiting for places in the volunteer regular army, or is there a shortage of recruits? The fact that they are having to use "stop loss" policies with reservists seems to suggest the latter, but there may be some aspect of this that I don’t understand.
 
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To Beer (presumably former Joe) from Circular


Thank you, but I’d tone down the "wicked American imperialist" rhetoric if I were you, it only gets people riled up.
I doubt there’s any real analogy between Iraq and the American Indians, but you do raise one interesting issue. There used to be a debate among British historians over whether history was about maps, or about chaps: i.e. whether history was just about economic and population pressures, or whether the character and actions of individuals (Hitler, Napoleon) made a big difference. Iraq seems to score a point for the "chaps" school: Bush seems to have been, to paraphrase Kerry, "Wrong guy, in the wrong job, at the wrong time." Which suggests an answer to your question:
"The conservative message to soccer moms is that we're going to turn Iraq into the next Germany or Japan. Why is this not possible?"
My answer would be because the "wrong guy" and his advisors just didn’t give any thought at all to the differences between Germany, Japan and Iraq. G and J were highly ordered, cohesive societies in which civil obedience came naturally to the populace. Iraq was an artificially constructed mixture of people whose experience of order and cohesion had mainly come at the point of a dictators gun - hence the immediate lawlessness when the gun was removed?
(How do the Kurds see themselves now? Kurdish Iraqis? Iraqi Kurds? Just Kurds? I dunno.)
Like I’ve said in several previous posts, if you really must conquer and make over another country, you have a responsibility to do it right, and doing it right in Iraq needed a whole LOT of occupation troops, and a quiet approach, not just a few troops and a LOT of firepower.
So same question as posted above, same question Abu has to address, how do you install democracy in the middle of a war? Because it sure seems to be getting worse not better there - its no longer an occupation, its a war? Gulf III?
 
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Circular,

Well the question still remains. How would we have done it "right"? More troops means more targets. Yes it may have helped the security situation and the initial looting but do you honestly believe that it would have reduced the "insurgency"??

Paul,

I would love to see us aid in the revolt in Iran but do you think it would be wise to use troops? That one seems more sticky to me than Iraq.
 
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Hold on, brave Iraqis!

It is now clear that John F. Kerry will be elected President of the United States and the Crusader Bush and his lackys driven from power.

Even before he assumes office, John Kerry will appologize to the United Nations for America's agressive and illegal war against Iraq. He will convene a peace conference that includes the Muslim states and representatives of the Iraqi Resistance. As soon as he is inaugurated (20 January), he will stop all attacks by the American forces and prepare for their quick withdrawal.

Rest assured as well that President Kerry will ensure that the American military forces will no longer have the ability to interfere in the affairs of independent countries.

John Kerry means PEACE ON EARTH!
Bush Lied

 
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Re: The draft ... on recruitment the answer is yes. US Military recruiters have been meeting their targets. The stop-loss policies apply to specific fields where there is a general shortage of workers in the overall economy and a high wage disparity between the military and the private sector - computer technicians and engineers.
 
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Paul,

Well if nothing else you have brass ones man! :-)
 
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Circular to Barry

Uh oh, you’re back.

" ... do you honestly believe that it would have reduced the "insurgency"??" (i.e. putting a lot more troops in at the beginning)
I think the answer is, Yes, more than likely, particularly if they’d done it smart like the Brits. That’s the message coming from people like Abu - see his Mistakes in Iraq blog. See General McPeak’s comparison with NATO troop levels in Bosnia. Possibly one reason why the French and Germans didn’t want to get involved - the French in particular, they knew all about colonial wars (Vietnam and Algeria) and trying to subdue an Arab revolt (Algeria.)

Who else do we know who since 1945 has tried to invade and conquer another country, and bend it to their will?
Mao Tse Tung, in Tibet? And boy was he ruthless there.
Kim Il Sung in Korea? Underestimated U.S. and U.N. resolve.
Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam? He won, but at a hell of a cost.
(India in East Pakistan - but they just kicked out the West Pakistani army and went back home, left the Bangladeshis to it)
(Vietnam in Cambodia - went in, got rid of the murderous Khymer Rouge, went back home)
Galtieri in the Falklands? Don’t mess with the Brits. Cost him his job.
Oh, and a guy called Saddam - tried to push Iran around and got his fingers burned, tried in Kuwait and got beat up by the rest of the world.

Your boy George is in some strange company, isn’t he? And he’s the only one who decided to do it from half a world away - the rest had the sense to just cross a border.

Makes no difference to you, I understand. You’ll vote for him whatever mistakes he’s made.
The buck doesn’t stop here anymore.
 
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Circular Addendum

Oh yeah, and I forgot:

The Soviets in Afghanistan? Helped end their Empire.

Give George his due, he did do it right in Afghanistan, with a lot of willing allies and by using mainly Special Forces in a surgical role. Not by invading.
 
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This is Anonymous from above (and before):
(I'll just call myself Anonymous neo-con imperialistic warmonger, okay?)

1. Talk of invading Iran is foolish and uninformed. Not only would it be politically idiotic, but the US isn't prepared for such an invasion anyway. We need a larger army, and while a draft is totally unnecessary, it does take a few years to train new soldiers. Besides, most of the focus is on training more special forces to do counter-insurgency and surgical interventions, and that takes even longer. Outside of the fantasies of a few uninformed nobodies, nobody is seriously considering invading Iran.

2. I agree that more forces were needed in the initial invasion, if for no other reason than to stop looting, the damage from which has never been fully recognized.
Either Kerry or Bush is likely to propose a significant increase in the defense budget to maintain a larger army. Though that is too late for Iraq. The current policy of expediting the training of Iraqi forces while pushing through the elections is the only reasonable option.

3. I seriously doubt that the "British" approach is qualitatively superior to the Americans'. The British have had the benefit of operating in a relatively peaceful area where the population was more inclined to support the invasion, as well not having the disadvantage of operating under heavy incitement against them from the Arab media. Opponents of the war have made a game of contrasting the US and British approaches more as a self-serving political ploy (and and anti-American reflex) of than an informed assessment of the differences. Very few of them have actually been to Iraq and analyzed the context and conditions. While tehre probably are differences, the different tactics the US uses may be largely reflective of the different conditions they have to operate from them. The British aren't on the recieving end of a worldwide storm of incitement, so naturally they aren't going to behave as defensively.
 
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I think we're definitely in the "talk is cheap" phase of this evolution, as you say when you point out that Iraqis have lost faith in America. So this discussion should focus on what actions to take from here on out, referring to the past only to inform the present.

I really believe that the ball is in the Iraqi's court at this point. We're (MNF) like a heart-lung machine right now, keeping the patient alive until the new innards can start functioning. Even worse...the patient is conscious during the procedure. Highly unpleasant.

But it us going to have to be Iraqis that hunt down the insurgents, that report them in their neighborhoods, that turn them in. We can't ID them, we don't have the moral authority any more to hunt them. It's up to you guys. I wish it wasn't. We can back you, but you have to do the heavy lifting. And in reading about the constant attacks on your ING and IP, you are paying the price.

Personally, I think all energy should focus on January elections. Get them done. For the first time in...how long?...elections held in an Arab state. Then see where the chips fall. Maybe it was not meant to be, Arab countries are incompatible with democracy. We shall see.

As for our military, we are currently downsizing the Navy and Air Force. Yes...downsizing. Gosh, that doesn't get reported in all the hub-bub over the draft. They are offering transitions to people being forced out to go into the Army. Do we need a draft? No. We just need to size the services correctly.

Navy guy
 
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Circular,

"Uh oh, you’re back."

Did I ever leave?


"I think the answer is, Yes, more than likely, particularly if they’d done it smart like the Brits."

I'm still not convinced of this. Is it not possible that the US was in more volatile areas?


"That’s the message coming from people like Abu - see his Mistakes in Iraq blog. See General McPeak’s comparison with NATO troop levels in Bosnia. Possibly one reason why the French and Germans didn’t want to get involved - the French in particular, they knew all about colonial wars (Vietnam and Algeria) and trying to subdue an Arab revolt (Algeria.)"

Well I have read other blogs that disagree with Abu on several counts so what is your point? (Not saying that Abu is wrong, just that there are differences of opinion). And I repeat, F**k the French! The UN is a corrupt worthless organization. We would have loved to have NATO troops on the ground with us.


"Who else do we know who since 1945 has tried to invade and conquer another country, and bend it to their will?
Mao Tse Tung, in Tibet? And boy was he ruthless there.
Kim Il Sung in Korea? Underestimated U.S. and U.N. resolve.
Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam? He won, but at a hell of a cost.
(India in East Pakistan - but they just kicked out the West Pakistani army and went back home, left the Bangladeshis to it)
(Vietnam in Cambodia - went in, got rid of the murderous Khymer Rouge, went back home)
Galtieri in the Falklands? Don’t mess with the Brits. Cost him his job.
Oh, and a guy called Saddam - tried to push Iran around and got his fingers burned, tried in Kuwait and got beat up by the rest of the world."

Because we want to see a free Iraq we are "imposing our will" on them? Bush has already stated that if they elect someone like Al Sadr, so be it.


"Your boy George is in some strange company, isn’t he? And he’s the only one who decided to do it from half a world away - the rest had the sense to just cross a border."

It is a broader issue than just Iraq. And stop calling him "my boy". Yes I will vote for him but he is not my "ideal candidate".


"Makes no difference to you, I understand. You’ll vote for him whatever mistakes he’s made.
The buck doesn’t stop here anymore."

WTF are you talking about? Of course it makes a difference to me. However, I absolutely do not trust Kerry and the current round of Democrats so I am voting for the "lesser of two evils". Not to mention my Zionist/CIA masters are telling me that I must vote for Bush... *sarcasm*.. :-)
 
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Although this here anonymous neo-con imperialist cannot actually vote in the US elections (not actually being a citizen of the US, you see), I would rather counter-intuitively vote for Kerry.

Here's my array of reasons...
#1. The political climate is so poisoned that I believe that Bush would not survive a second term even if reelected. The powers that be would orchestrate whatever they have to do force his resignation or impeachment. If the Republicans could do it to Clinton, in a far less polarized atmosphere, then the Democrats can DEFINITELY do it to Bush, especially with the media on their side. I'd rather not see that happen.

#2. Kerry as a liberal Democrat and former anti-war activist is far more suceptible to charges of military weakness than Bush. It's that same counter-intuitive result in politics in which the Democrats can get away with more in the way of favoritism to business than Republicans because they have the unions in their pockets. Likewise, weakness on Iraq would be political suicide for Kerry because it would confirm everything about him that his enemies would like to paint him as. You'll note that in this election, the idea of a US withdrawl is being used AGAINST Kerry, not for him. He has to fight off that charge, and would still have to fight it as president.

#3. By tag-teaming it the Democracts and Republicans can share the hard hits (and hard choices) they will take in the longer-term conflict with radical Islam. The political costs of showing weakness on this front will keep the Democrats from kowtowing to the Left. In the next several years, they'll be forced to do some of the dirty work that the Republicans otherwise would have had to, and they'll make it smell nice too.
 
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From Circular to Various

Blog is moving on to a new chapter, so some parting messages on this one.

1)Anonymous neo-con imperialist warmonger. What are you doing here, I thought you guys were meant to stay in the background, plotting and planning and going "hee, hee, hee?"
Seriously though: ignore Paul Edwards - he’s a troll and his posts usually get removed by the Blog administrator.

2) "The current policy of expediting the training of Iraqi forces while pushing through the elections is the only reasonable option." This is the guts of the problem, everybody seems to be hanging their hopes on this but how realistic is this expectation when the insurrection seems to be growing bigger every day?

3) In this you are in agreement with Navy guy below you ("Personally, I think all energy should focus on the January elections.") But I note that he adds a qualification - "I really believe that the ball is in the Iraqi's court at this point ... We can back you, but you have to do the heavy lifting."

I find this a bit unfair, given the state they’re in, but I’ve noted a similar message growing in other blogs - over in RoseInBaghdad for example. Sort of "we came to save you, but you don’t want to be saved, so stuff you."

Which prompted me to think (I know, what with?) and I’d like to make a guess on where Bush and his mates are at - the "exit strategy."

1) Remember Debate 1, he kept saying how hard it is to be President. And Iraq is really hard. And he has already said that the U.S. will leave if the Iraqis ask nicely.
2) So, to hell with the oil and the enduring bases. Plenty of oil in Nigeria anyway.
3) Big, big attack on the problem areas for Christmas, stun the insurgents and
4) Hold an election, any election, even if every voter has to be personally guarded by an M1A2, never mind its only for a Constitutional Assembly, not a Government, just get it held and THEN
5) That’s it. "We done brung y’all freedom an’ democracy, jus’ like I said. We’re outa’ here now. Bye bye. Mission Re-accomplished."
6) May not get him a ticker tape parade, I know, but it won’t be so hard any more.

Problem is, if Kerry gets in he’ll probably be too ethical to do that.
 
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Circular,

Kerry, ethical?? What a frickin' joke.

Check out: http://www.stolenhonor.com
 
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We need to fight fire with fire! You have to deal with the fact that people in these regions have had too deal with this for the last hundreds of years... How do they deal with it to control ( FEAR ) That is how they control... Its time that they know that the IRAQ'S can show them FEAR... in the way that they are use too... Bring there leaders in front of a large audiance and let them see them suffer! This is the only way that they can show all others that they are in control.... (Then you can go to beyond)
 
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