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From the Gonzo

. . . somewhere near the event horizon.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The grand Iraq failure

It has been awhile since I have written about the disasterous war in Iraq. (Rest assured, it is a disaster).

Since I looked at the Strategy for Victory in Iraq the situation on the ground has continued to evolve. A wave of sectarian violence is sweeping the country (see news story about one of many events) following the destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.

Many in the media and in the military openly speculated about the possibility of a civil war erupting. A danger that has lurked in the shadows since day one of the conflict anyway. The upsurge in violence has many, including me, wondering what this is all going to accomplish.

Thus far I can see one major success in a downward spiral of failures. The capture and deposing of Saddam Hussein's government.

Meanwhile, a conflict that was supposed to cost the American taxpayers only $1.7 billion has surged in cost to nearly $250 billion. American casaulties continue to mount (over 18,000 so far), slowly but surely. The government we have managed to install is predominantly pro-Iranian Shite Muslim. Somehow we invaded Iraq and managed to turn one of the most strategic regions in the Middle East into a hot bed of anti-American insugency, which shows no signs of abating despite consistent insistances from Administraion officials that it could not possibly pesist for long.

No WMD, the whole justification for invasion in the first place, have been found, another colossal failure. American military might is stretched thin, the Guard and Reserves have assumed a large responsiblity, so large that the part-time force is near the breaking point.

For all the operational success commanders acheived in battles in Fallujah and other towns, the insurgents have simply moved elsewhere. Often into small towns, where they are able to control the population much easier than in a major urban area with millions of people.

This means that troops on the ground are dealing with a constant threat and some commanders have even openly talked about a major insurgent move into Baghdad itself.

Read this excellent story from Feb. 26 Washington Post, it really puts a perspective on what is happening at the loneliest fronts in the Iraq War.

Now, our troops are stuck in Iraq for an indefinite period of time. No one really knows what this war will cost, be it financially, politically, or in human lives.

It took nearly three years for the Bush camp to acknowledge that the Iraq war was not going in the direction they intended, which was around the time they released their strategy for victory. A strategy they claimed has been implemented all along.

I don't know about you but I won't be fooled again (video clip).

4 Comments:

Blogger Truth About Iraqis said...

It was refreshing to read your take on events in Iraq.

It is a catastrophe beyond compare.

3/04/2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger Glock21 said...

Oh pessimism.

It's a disaster beyond compare... it's another vietnam... blah blah blah.

At least this time we actually attempted and succeeded at defeating the regular military there. The insurgent and terrorist jack-monkeys will continue to get slaughtered any time they pop their heads out of their holes. The anti-war folks will continue to repeat the enemy propaganda and the soldiers on the ground will continue to take out the garbage.

Every time some terrorist nails a big enough target the naysayers scream about the inevitable civil war... and every time it doesn't actually happen.

It's always WHAH WHAH WHAH Bush Bush Bush... but the situation in Iraq pre-dates him by many years. It should have been taken care of in 1991... and since it wasn't it should have been taken care of in 1998... and since it still wasn't we finally decided to take care of it in 2003 when the populous at large was in hawk-mode. WMDs was the media hype and it worked. Should have been taken care of a long time ago.

Enforcing the UN brokered ceasefire agreement? 1991.

Regime change? 1998.

These official US policies passed by congress and supported by the President at the time pre-date Bush.

Bush is the one that actually got to work on it in a realistic fashion.

Could it have been done in a better way? You bet your ass.

Doesn't mean it shouldn't have been done.

The insurgency and terrorist attacks in Iraq are betting on Americans to give up hope and pull out. Trying to convince the populous that it just isn't worth it, that it will only get uglier and uglier with no hope in sight. The mightiest army in the world is supposedly not enough to face a bunch of hapless fucks trying to instigate civil war and rebellion. And we're supposed to believe that we are powerless against them because we CHOOSE not to carpet bomb the areas they reside in. We're fighting this war PC style not because we have to but because we CHOOSE to. We are sacrificing lives so that innocent lives can be spared but we are supposed to believe that we have hit a level of desperation not seen since WWII? I'm sorry but I have to call 'bullshit'.

The only thing that will make us lose this war is lack of support. People whining about the loss of life being too great to justify the goals only help those that would make the new Iraq a pawn of anti-US ideologies as opposed to being a nation that adheres to the will of its people.

Yes the loss of life is tragic... on both sides. But the benefits of the goal outweigh the loss of life, even if we fail at the goal. Personally I don't think we will fail at that goal unless the naysayers get enough support that they undermine the mission. If you don't support the mission for the reasons Bush laid out, if you don't support the mission for the reasons Clinton laid out, and if you don't support the mission because you have some grand conspiracy figured out over US domination of world affairs, then at least support the mission so that our troops can finish the job and give at least some hope to that region and allow the Iraqis the chance to govern their own country for the first time, without totalitarian rule, in centuries. The iraqis deserve it and so do our troops.

Don't turn this into another Vietnam. It isn't yet and it won't be if people don't try to force a political end to a mission that is absolutely winnable. Every tragedy isn't the prelude to imminent defeat. Every point the enemy scores is not more important than the dozen we scored before it. Politicizing the conflict will only end in defeat but may help the opposition party gain some seats. In my honest opinion, that is worse than Bush's propaganda to get the public behind the war. There are valid complaints out there about how the war is being handled and has been handled. Run on that and get the war handled more effectively. But don't undermine the war when it is absolutely winnable. To do so only helps the enemy. Regime change in Iraq, maintaining security while a new government, representative of the Iraqi people, establishes itself, and putting to end the brutal rule of dictators and foreign governments in that region are worth fighting for... and these goals pre-dated Bush by years and years.

I didn't like Bush's rationale for most of this, I preferred Clinton's... but Bush is the one that was able to sell it to the populous. You, like me, may disagree on the way it was sold to the public mob who are unlikely to be able to find Iraq on a map, but I still consider it the right thing to do. The public, so easily convinced to begin a conflict, are easily swayed against a conflict once they see the carnage that results. Their opinion has zero relevance on right or wrong since their opinion is based on ignorance and propaganda... their only relevance is at the polls and who can push them one way or the other via campaign propaganda.

Regime change in Iraq and allowing the Iraqi people to establish and maintain their own government are worth the cost in treasure and lives, regardless of the opinion polls. It has been worth it, and necessary, long before Bush was anything other than Governor of Texas. The only thing that changed was that the public was hawkish enough to support it. A support that has waned, as it always does, when the bodies start mounting.

When people cry out that the situation is hopeless after a terrorist attack designed to cause that reaction, who are they helping?

The answer should be obvious.

When people cry out that the horror is too much to bear and that the greatest military on earth is powerless against desperate thugs and assassins, who are they helping?

Once again, the answer is obvious.

Iraq is no more on the verge of civil war than the US is on the verge of replacing the Constitution with Stalinism. Both scenarios are completely realistic in the minds of some people... but at least one scenario is recognized as a pathetic conspiracy theory of disgruntled radicals. Maybe one day the other will too.

3/06/2006 4:15 AM  
Blogger A Mc said...

"It's a disaster beyond compare... it's another vietnam"

I said nothing about Vietnam.

"At least this time we actually attempted and succeeded at defeating the regular military there. The insurgent and terrorist jack-monkeys will continue to get slaughtered any time they pop their heads out of their holes."

Wow, some skill eradicating an undersupplied, undertrained, undernourished army. The point is they keep popping out of holes, no matter how many keep dying.

"Should have been taken care of a long time ago."

Not our job. If Iraqis wanted to be free perhaps they could have done that some time in 30 years of Baathist rule.

"These official US policies passed by congress and supported by the President at the time pre-date Bush.

Bush is the one that actually got to work on it in a realistic fashion"

Still don't support it, that rational only works on partisan hacks.

"The insurgency and terrorist attacks in Iraq are betting on Americans to give up hope and pull out."

Yeah, the U.S. has never given up hope, why would they think that.

"We are sacrificing lives so that innocent lives can be spared but we are supposed to believe that we have hit a level of desperation not seen since WWII? I'm sorry but I have to call 'bullshit'."

As would I, but modern warfare doesn't make room for wars of attrition anymore, not from us civilized folk anyway.

"The only thing that will make us lose this war is lack of support. People whining about the loss of life being too great to justify the goals only help those that would make the new Iraq a pawn of anti-US ideologies as opposed to being a nation that adheres to the will of its people."

Come on now, that's not the only thing, an overtaxed, over worked military can happen without an erosion of public support. Regardless, public support has eroded and in my opinion that is a direct result of a badly mismanaged occupation and nothing else.

"But the benefits of the goal outweigh the loss of life, even if we fail at the goal."

That is patently absurd.




"Doesn't mean it shouldn't have been done."

Actually, yes it does.

"then at least support the mission so that our troops can finish the job and give at least some hope to that region and allow the Iraqis the chance to govern their own country for the first time, without totalitarian rule, in centuries. The iraqis deserve it and so do our troops."

No thanks. Again, they should have freed themselves. I don't care. As for the troops they can have the support from those who support their mission. The only thing I feel for them is sympathy for being sucked into a war which may last more than ten years by the Pentagon's own estimations.

"Don't turn this into another Vietnam. It isn't yet and it won't be if people don't try to force a political end to a mission that is absolutely winnable."

I ain't turning it into shit. This war is a POLITICAL ONE, face that reality man. It sure as shit isn't about freedom or WMDs, don't even try to feed me that happy dappy America flag waving bullshit.

Your questioning the obvious at the end sounds eeriely like a "you dont agree, you evil america hater" statement to me.

Civil war always has been and always will be possible in Iraq. These factional differences are not some made up radical conspiracy like you assert. They are real and they exist. Just ask the soldiers on the front lines.

3/06/2006 4:32 AM  
Blogger Glock21 said...

"The point is they keep popping out of holes, no matter how many keep dying."

Soon to be the problem of the Iraqi Security Forces. Just because a problem is perpetual doesn't mean it shouldn't be addressed.


"Not our job. If Iraqis wanted to be free perhaps they could have done that some time in 30 years of Baathist rule."

They tried and failed and were typically slaughtered, including in 1991 when they had false promises of US assistance that only came partially in 1998.

If powerful nations always took the "not our job" approach we'd be reading about that failed colonial rebellion as opposed to reaping the benefits of our successful Revolution.


"Still don't support it, that rational only works on partisan hacks."

Maybe I misunderstood your direct and indirect references to the Bush Administration in this article to sound as if it was practically Bush alone who felt the Iraq problem needed to be dealt with. I'm merely pointing out that the major goals today remain the same as before he was even in office. It is not a justification for the war, just a clarification on when certain justifications were introduced.


"Yeah, the U.S. has never given up hope, why would they think that."

Wouldn't an additional failure only cause further harm to our ability to project our military might when diplomatic means alone appear to be failing? Failure in Iraq will only make this image of the US more acute and embolden our enemies today and in the future.

You seem to recognize this problem but do not seem too concerned about it getting worse.


"Come on now, that's not the only thing, an overtaxed, over worked military can happen without an erosion of public support. Regardless, public support has eroded and in my opinion that is a direct result of a badly mismanaged occupation and nothing else."

The collective efforts of anti-war organizations and figureheads across the planet constantly working to erode public support has nothing to do with it, I'm sure. The opposition party undermining the war effort to score political points has been fairly irresponsible at times also. Such things fall under free speech protection, just as all sorts of irresponsible and damaging speech is. I'm all for complaints on the management of the war in attempts to get a better manager in charge, but not for attempts to undermine support for the war in general. It is necessarily legal for such speech to be protected, but in this case I feel they are making the situation worse. And for the opposition party that once supported almost every goal we have in Iraq to attempt to go beyond fixing the management blunders and into the realm of undermining the war effort, risking not only lives but also damaging the image of US military power in future conflicts, is extremely irresponsible. This damage could lead to even more military conflicts in the future that could potentially be deterred through threat of force alone.

If anything, the pro-war propaganda has been far too weak to counter the massive and unrelenting anti-war propaganda. Popular support is far more the result of better leadership in molding the views of the populous than any collective intelligence of that populous. Bush's management of the war, though flawed at times, is stellar compared to his management of the needed propaganda to maintain support for a bloody conflict in the information age.


"That is patently absurd." on the benefits outweighing the losses even in failure.

Maybe I'm just too much of an idealist here. While I'd agree that doing the right thing and succeeding is obviously the preferred course, attempting to do the right thing and failing doesn't change the reasons why it was the right thing to do. The benefits do not change, even if you fail to obtain them. It was still the right thing to do, and sometimes you have to risk failure to do the right thing. Personally I'd rather see us succeed and reap the benefits than look back years from now at the losses with nothing gained.

Perhaps my wording there was just a bit too sloppy.


"Actually, yes it does." on failure not changing the fact that it was the right thing to do.

If it is the right thing to do, then nothing about success or failure really changes that. It is of course preferrable that we succeed. The likeliness of success may influence whether or not we will act, but has little relevance on the goals being right or wrong. Likeliness of success is far more relevant in how those goals are to be attained or if they are even attainable. In the case of Iraq I believe the goals are the right thing to do and that likeliness of success is relatively high.


"No thanks. Again, they should have freed themselves. I don't care."

It's not as if they hadn't tried.


"As for the troops they can have the support from those who support their mission. The only thing I feel for them is sympathy for being sucked into a war which may last more than ten years by the Pentagon's own estimations."

Fair enough. Obviously not everyone will agree on the war issue. If one doesn't agree with the goals it is an impossible task to convince them that any cost is worth it.


"I ain't turning it into shit. This war is a POLITICAL ONE, face that reality man. It sure as shit isn't about freedom or WMDs, don't even try to feed me that happy dappy America flag waving bullshit."

Almost all wars are political at their core, and happy dappy flag waving bullshit is often effective in getting the populous behind certain actions, regardless of whether those actions are right or wrong. On the flip side others can burn the flag to signal the need for extreme dissent regardless of whether it is appropriate or not.


"Your questioning the obvious at the end sounds eeriely like a "you dont agree, you evil america hater" statement to me."

Far from it. People will regularly disagree about what is in the best interests of the nation. Believing that a course of action will harm the nation doesn't necessarily mean that those who support that course of action are "america haters." Such logic is often employed for propaganda purposes due to the emotive effect, but outside of the few exceptions of actual "america haters" out there, it is typically just an unfair and unsubstantiated attack. Some will argue that our policy on Iraq is falling right into the hands of an elaborate al Qaeda plot to fight a war of attrition against the US. If this was true would that make war supporters "america haters" just because they are supposedly aiding the enemy in their goals? Of course not. It just means their actions are damaging, even if done with good intentions.

When Iraq war opponents aid the effort of those that want to damage US support for the war, it doesn't make them "america haters" or traitors or anything else of the sort. Such labels try to imply malicious intentions or some sort of collusion with the enemy. Pointing out that their actions are damaging to the war effort or are likely to lead to one of the enemy's objectives does not in itself speak to their intentions or imply ill will. It can be, and often is, used as a flawed rationale to make such unsubstantiated claims, but that was not the case here.


"Civil war always has been and always will be possible in Iraq. These factional differences are not some made up radical conspiracy like you assert. They are real and they exist. Just ask the soldiers on the front lines."

I'm not saying civil war is impossible... just very improbable under the current circumstances. I won't argue that the circumstances can't or won't change, but I'm also not going to join the collective of raving pessimists who cry out that civil war is going to break out any second now after any and every little terror attack. The more they do so and it doesn't happen the more they discredit themselves.

I wouldn't dare assert that the factional differences in that region are some made up radical conspiracy. Those differences are well documented and have persisted to be a deep rooted problem in the region even since the Ottoman Empire. That final comment was intended to convey my belief that the civil war issue risk was being inflated, not that there aren't any factional issues in Iraq which I didn't address.


Wrapping Up

We seem to be talking more about perspectives of pro vs anti Iraq war stances than anything having to do with the goals of it being right or wrong. Some people will think it was the right thing to do, others won't. And depending on which side of that they fall on they will probably believe the other side is causing the most harm, even in spite of good intentions.

It can be a pretty sensitive subject since the outcomes of one side prevailing over can be very dramatic. I'm sure it such conversations have been the spark in many a fist-fight across the nation. But unlike the meat heads out there I think we can both recognize that a disagreement on what is good or bad for the nation does not imply that either side is some sort of evil agent with malicious intentions, even if the propaganda aims at the meat heads to believe it.

If tree hugging hippies like you and evil imperialist fascists like me can get along... there might be hope for the world yet!

:D

3/06/2006 12:54 PM  

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