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Tilting at Windmills

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December 29, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

THE END OF IRAQ?....Well, this is bad news:

Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.

....The Kurds have readied their troops not only because they've long yearned to establish an independent state but also because their leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate, senior leaders in the Peshmerga literally, "those who face death" told Knight Ridder. The Kurds are mostly secular Sunni Muslims, and are ethnically distinct from Arabs.

Their strategy mirrors that of Shiite Muslim parties in southern Iraq, which have stocked Iraqi army and police units with members of their own militias and have maintained a separate militia presence throughout Iraq's central and southern provinces. The militias now are illegal under Iraqi law but operate openly in many areas. Peshmerga leaders said in interviews that they expected the Shiites to create a semi-autonomous and then independent state in the south as they would do in the north.

This is from Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder, who's been reporting on ethnic fragmentation in the Iraqi military for quite a while. It's worth noting that Lasseter's reporting has been pretty pessimistic on this score for some time, which could be because he's better informed on these issues than most others, or just because he's more pessimistic. Who knows? But he's a good reporter, and his pieces from Iraq are data points that are worth taking seriously.

Juan Cole has more.

Kevin Drum 11:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (195)

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Comments

let's hope it won't happen...

but lets prepare for when it does...

Posted by: Ernst on December 29, 2005 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK


so...does this mean the kurds hate america or not?

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on December 29, 2005 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Before the invasion of Iraq, Tom Lasseter was a young reporter at the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, my local paper. He went to Iraq on assignment and was then hired by the parent Knight Ridder. His early reporting from Iraq was not at all pessimistic, indeed he reported many stories that were highly favorable to the US military and to the invasion.

As the war continued and Lasseter kept going back, his reporting became increasingly somber and doubtful. I only know this from following his reporting since before the war, having no personal knowledge.

It appears that Lasseter has undergone a true transformation. He has been a remarkably brave reporter, like several of his K-R colleagues.

Posted by: Tom Kimmerer on December 29, 2005 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Cue tbrosz kvetching about how we aren't citing all the wonderful reports on the milblogs and how we're all rooting for the US' defeat in Iraq.

One thing's for sure -- if the events predicted in this story come to pass (and I hope, though not with confidence, that they won't), the blame will be squarely on the incomeptence of the Bush Administration, and hopefully will prevent the GOP from being taken seriously on national defense for a generation.

Posted by: Gregory on December 29, 2005 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

This must be some big misunderstanding. All the Iraqi ethnic groups were just waiting to get rid of the iron-fisted Saddam so that they could get on with living in peace and harmony, as a devoted U.S. client state. Everything will be just fine.

Posted by: dj moonbat on December 29, 2005 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

I hope people realize that, until the US actually withdraws from Iraq, we really have about zero idea what direction an independent Iraq will take. The presence of our military is clearly the obstacle to correct measurement of the forces at play in Iraq.

What's interesting is how the various sides will alter their own behavior until we do leave. The insurgents want just enough damage inflicted on our military and in Iraq that we want to get out, but not so much that we feel we can't turn it over to the Iraqis. This is obviously going to be a carefully calibrated and targeted measure of violence.

When we are finally out of the picture pretty much altogether and forever, THEN we can expect the different groups to seek their natural levels -- levels mostly impossible to predict with certainty beforehand.

My own view is that the Sunni Arabs, who have in the past exhibited a very real talent for dominance far beyond their numbers, will make a major play to do so again, and have a pretty good chance at success.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 29, 2005 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Many, many experts as well as everyday observers pointed out the extreme difficulty facing the USA after it became obvious that WMD's did not exist in Iraq and bush hoped (saying this administration planned anything would be an insult to the word planned) to install democracy. The obvious intent has always been to occupy Iraq so control of oil fields would be certain, but asking Americans to die for oil was unacceptable so it was better to assert that the real reason was to spread democracy. This lie ignores the numerous political and religious realities of a region that have existed for centuries. While purple fingers are nice, the historic realities will prevail and failure of the bush "democracy" plan is viturally guaranteed.

Posted by: AZBob on December 29, 2005 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Gosh and golly, what an amazing development!!! Gosh, who could possibly have predicted that Iraq would become anything like the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Germany after WWI, Cambodia or anyone of the hundreds of thousands of other examples of the fate of countries after the removal of a dictator? Who could have predicted that Iraq would be the same? Gosh, who?

Anyone but this bunch of fucking clueless morons in the Republican Party, that's who. I have never seen more stupid people in high office in the history of the US

Posted by: POed Liberal on December 29, 2005 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

If Iraq does split, can we afford to occupy 3 countries?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on December 29, 2005 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Every single Repuke "expert" in foreign policy is an idiot. Robert Kaplan, Kristol, Rice, every single one of these idiots have been wrong every single time.

Posted by: POed Liberal on December 29, 2005 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about any "blame" being "squarely" anywhere. The administration is already slipping away from notions of "finishing the mission" and establishing "democracy" (whatever exactly that means in a 5,000-year-old culture that has never operated under that sort of system). They're getting ready to cut and run (except, of course, for the remote permanent bases necessary to keep a boot on the oil jugular), and to leave the vast majority of Iraqis to civil war or whatever other fate awaits them.

And the American public will buy it. They/we want "out," full stop. Whatever happens in Iraq wil be "their fault." We will have held out the shimmering orb of Democracy, and they in their benighted ignorance will have failed to grasp the golden opportunity. We will have done them a favor, and we will be hurt and bitter at how our generosity is repaid.

I'd like to think the chickens will come home to roost. But I'm not betting the farm on it...

Posted by: bleh on December 29, 2005 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Quagmire accomplished!

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on December 29, 2005 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Soon enough the Sunnis will have to ride the back of the bus and drink from separate drinking fountains. Don't even ask what happens if they whistle at a Kurdish or Shiite girl.

Posted by: steve duncan on December 29, 2005 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

If Iraq does split, can we afford to occupy 3 countries?

Heck, three for one? We can't afford not to!

Posted by: dj moonbat on December 29, 2005 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's time to name the conflict. Fortunately, we have a historical precedent.

We can call it "King George's War"

Posted by: POed Liberal on December 29, 2005 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Roles reversed, I certainly would be fighting to reclaim my national heritage and identity as per the Kurds. They want to reverse the arbitrary history foisted on them by Churchill. The fact that there are really three Iraqs now (Sunnistan, Kurdistan and Shiastan) should give us some clue about adjusting priorities over there now. But I can't help but be sympathetic to a Kurdistan--wish Turkey would be so pliant.

I was at least hoping that the U.S. could make a tri-polar republic with three semi-autonomous states a vested part of the new constitution--somewhat like our early United States. I do think we have muddled that outcome up. We'll have civil war there now and like it--much like the limp vegetables a screaming child denounces to his parents at dinner.

Posted by: Sparko on December 29, 2005 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

It will be interesting to see how the spin machine that is the Republican party deals with a disastrous aftermath in Iraq after our troops leave. It seems obvious that we're going to draw down significantly before the 2006 election, and I'm sure the President will be on TV with the "Iraqis are standing up so we are standing down" talking point. If Iraq implodes, what do they then say?

Posted by: Ugh on December 29, 2005 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

is it bad news? will kurdistan vs. sunnistan vs. shiastan be worse than an iraqi civil war? if they were so inclined, the sauds could pay off/sit on the iraqi suunis? of course, why would they help the competition like that?

Posted by: benjoya on December 29, 2005 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq was doomed to suffer civil war when Saddam either died or fell from power. It is not surprising to learn the two major oppressed groups, the Shiites and Kurds, have been preparing to prevent a return of Sunni tyranny and to consolidate their sovereignty. What is surprising is our government's refusal to understand the ethnic and sectarian divisions that make up the ersatz nation of Iraq and its Pollyannaish desire to make a consociational democracy from it.

I think the reasons the US invaded and occupied Iraq were for selfish corporate reasons based upon oil and a desired militant hegemony in the area. Although I would like to think America's imperialist militancy has backfired and harmed the capitalist establishment, as the response to Viet Nam would indicate, the American wars of the Eighties and Nineties, Granada, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, and the Gulf War, demonstrate American militarism is still an extremely powerful political force. There is no counter culture of youth or art to save us from our failed imperialism in Iraq, which, I think, indicates the decline of American culture.

Posted by: Powerpuff on December 29, 2005 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Every death in the civil war, if it comes, rests on the head of Bush. He destabilized the region. He may have, very predictably, made a bad situation worse. Unless the US wants to increase troop levels significantly, keep them there for decades, and kill many more people, lots of them civilians, the death toll of the civil war will surpass that of the Saddam regime by at least an order of magnitude. Assuming he does step down in 2008, he should be made to live in the hell he created.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on December 29, 2005 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Here is a question that could address the last part of the post. What is Mr Lasseter's track record for getting it right in Iraq? How about the Bush administration's track record?

Actually, cancel the second part. Bush has never gotten anything right, so this reporter could have a bad track record and still be infinitely more accurate than Bush.

Still, the question remains, has his pessimism been justified (and don't spout bullshit about elections).

Posted by: Ba'al on December 29, 2005 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Oh! C'mon! Don't worry! It will all be okay! Really! Stop being so negative all the time!

Look! A freshly painted school! Now why don't you see that in the news? That's at LEAST as newsworthy as 10,000 peshmerga inserted into the New Iraqi Army (TM) for the planned seizure of Kirkuk!

Posted by: chuck on December 29, 2005 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Is it not interesting that the fundie supporters of Twigless have not raised a peep about the loss of religious freedom and any voice in the goverment by the Iraqi christians. Juan Cole had an interesting discussion of this last week.
The Christians in Iraq had more freedom under Saddam than they will have in the theocracy of the new constitution.
Watch what will happen if they attempt to convert a Muslim.
No, not a peep from Dobson, Jerry and Pat.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 29, 2005 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

"What's interesting is how the various sides will alter their own behavior until we do leave"
"It will be interesting to see how the spin machine that is the Republican party deals with a disastrous aftermath in Iraq after our troops leave."
"When we are finally out of the picture pretty much altogether and forever, THEN we can expect the different groups to seek their natural levels -- levels mostly impossible to predict with certainty beforehand."

You all understand that the US military presence in Iraq will continue to be there for many, many years to come, right? I call to your attention our military presence in Eurpoe, especially Germany. We still have troops there and WWII has been over for over 50 years. What makes you think that Iraq will somehow be any different, that we'll take all the troops out there, but not in other countries?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

...the blame will be squarely on the incomeptence of the Bush Administration...

Cue Patton, Al, Tbrosz, Alice, Charlie, RDW, GOPGregory, Red State Mike, etc. "No, the blame will be on the liberal democrats who won't let Bush do whatever he wants even though his party contols all three areas of the federal government" in 3, 2, 1...

Posted by: Edo on December 29, 2005 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Is Juan Cole's blog down?

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Ernst: let's hope it won't happen...but lets prepare for when it does...

Planning? That would imply the existence of a Plan B, and, as we all know, the Bush regime doesn't do Plan B. Their plan has always been to shut their eyes, cross their fingers and hope for a pony.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see that it is self-evidently "bad news" that Iraq might split up into three separate states. For all anyone in the USA knows, that might be the best possible outcome in terms of the well-being of the people who live in what is now Iraq, and it should be up to those people to determine that for themselves.

It might be "bad news" for the US oil companies, who would prefer to have an authoritarian, central government that would have the power to hand over permanent control of Iraq's oil reserves to them.

But since, as all the Bush bootlickers will tell us, the invasion and occupation of Iraq is all about fighting terrorism and spreading democracy and has nothing to do with oil (only moonbat conspiracy nuts think that it's about the oil!), then what's "bad news" for the oil companies doesn't matter, right?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 29, 2005 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK
You all understand that the US military presence in Iraq will continue to be there for many, many years to come, right? I call to your attention our military presence in Eurpoe, especially Germany. We still have troops there and WWII has been over for over 50 years. What makes you think that Iraq will somehow be any different, that we'll take all the troops out there, but not in other countries?

I dunno. Why'd we take our troops out of Vietnam, but not other countries?

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Indolene wrote: "You all understand that the US military presence in Iraq will continue to be there for many, many years to come, right?"

As an active military presence in anything like their current strength? Unlikely.

"What makes you think that Iraq will somehow be any different, that we'll take all the troops out there, but not in other countries?"

The universal unpopularity of the troops being there.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Because we lost that one. Have we lost in Iraq?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Now here's another way of looking at it... Perhaps the destruction of Iraq as a single state will be a good thing... I, for one thought that it was the inevitable consequence of the invasion. Three very different ethnic groups all vying for power in the region. When the whole charade of Iraqis taking over their government started, wasn't that one of their plans that they set down on the table and then the Bush Admin. said, "No, you're not going to do that, you're going to do this."? Didn't scholars suggest this years ago?

Its nothing new... The only "bad" part of Iraq being split into 3 new nations is that 1.) It will throw the region into turmoil as parties vie to expand their fiefdoms and 2.) It'll be a bit more difficult for the CIA, Carlyle Group, Halliburton and the rest of the PNAC crew to pay off and manage 3 corrupt governments instead of just 1 corrupt government... And 1.) is/has going to happen/happened anyhow...

If that is what the Kurds want to do, isn't that the whole idea of "why we're there"? Democracy on the march, and all...

Posted by: MadHatR137 on December 29, 2005 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB,

Unpopulatiry and necessity are two different things.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with SA. Why not at least have an independent Kurdistan? If we really want freedom and democracy and the Kurds want their own country, I'd think the Bushites would be boasting about it. But how would Turkey respond to an independent Kurdistan?

Posted by: WhoSays on December 29, 2005 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK
Because we lost that one.

I would say because we realized that we could not achieve the goals that defined victory, at least at any cost we were willing to pay, but essentially, yes.

Have we lost in Iraq?

I dunno. What are the goals that define victory? What reasonable basis is there to that the presence of American troops and the costs associated with that presence increease the prospects for those goals being met enough to justify the continuation of the policy?

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: "Unpopulatiry and necessity are two different things."

A truism that really has little to do with the current situation. The American public will not support what's going on in Iraq today indefinitely. Hell, they barely support it now. The Iraqis want us gone, as well. There simply is no way that the current state of affairs will be allowed to continue "for many, many years to come."

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK
Unpopulatiry and necessity are two different things.

What is the necessity?

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I don't know those answers either, but I'd like to.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Lasseter is,to my knowledge, one of the few reporters to be embedded with an Iraqi army unit (without Pentagon approval) and his stories about the week he spent there seemed accurate. There is no good way to completely ascertain the "truth" of his reporting but yhr scene he laid out can be confirmed in later reports.
He claimed that the brigade was mostly Shia, fully intending to take reveenge on the Sunni,the bulk of the unit was guarding a mosque and the picture on the wall at headquarters was of the imam whose mosque they guarded. All of this conforms with the stories of the MoI infiltration be Shia militias etc.
Lasseter also pointed out that the Iraqi army units in Al Anbar earlier this year (Tal Afar) were peshmerga who had no problems rousting out Turkomen Sunnis.
I think Lasseter is a good reporter with good sources and connections and I try to read his stories as often as they're posted.

Posted by: TJM on December 29, 2005 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's also worth noting that the current state of affairs cannot continue "for many, many years to come," because the U.S. military, reserves and National Guard simply cannot sustain this level of commitment.

Now if you mean that we will have some limited military presence in Iraq for years to come (e.g., one or more bases with some minimum level of troop support, not actively engaged in policing or securing the country), you may very well be right. That certainly seems to be what the Bush administration is planning.

But if you mean that we will be actively engaged in Iraqi security for years to come, with a high level of military commitment, tens of thousands of troops, and so on, I would say that the evidence is pretty clearly against you.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Cmdicely,

I think the necessity is that an American military presence in Iraq not only helps stabilize that country, but leaves the US with an option of having that presence serve as a staging point if we get into a battle in the middle east. Not the least important part of having a presence in Iraq will be the deterrence it will serve to the countries around it, like Iran, who has pledged to destroy America, and most recently whose president said that the holocaust never happend.

PaulB,

I just don't see things in Iraq 10 years from now to be that much the same as things in Iraq are right now. I guess the best way to put it into perspective would be to read up on what things were like in Japan, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, and any other place where a war and reconstruction tool place. See what things were like in those places, and reasonably estimate that's how things will go in Iraq. Of course you have to take into consideration uniqueness of each situation, but I think that the similarities of each are stronger than the differences...

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB,

I mean that we will have some military presence, of course not like what we've got there now.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

It will be interesting to see how the spin machine that is the Republican party deals with a disastrous aftermath in Iraq after our troops leave. It seems obvious that we're going to draw down significantly before the 2006 election, and I'm sure the President will be on TV with the "Iraqis are standing up so we are standing down" talking point. If Iraq implodes, what do they then say?

They'll say it was because liberals didn't clap hard enough. Nothing to do with their lies, incompetent planning or disastrous execution; no, it will be the fault of all those who didn't believe in their heart of hearts and because they didn't believe (the mechanics of this are never quite clear) Iraq failed. It's the old Dolchstosslegende.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Have "WE" lost in Iraq? I don't know, ask these guys and girls:

Military Fatalities: By Time Period News

Period US UK Other* Total Avg Days
4 738 13 18 769 2.31 333
3 579 25 27 631 2.92 216
2 718 27 58 803 1.89 424
1 140 33 0 173 4.02 43
Total 2175 98 103 2376 2.34 1016

Wounded In Action According to The DoD
Period Wounded
Dec-2005 32
Nov-2005 398
Oct-2005 603
Sep-2005 546
Aug-2005 541
Jul-2005 476
Jun-2005 511
May-2005 572
Apr-2005 595
Mar-2005 371
Feb-2005 414
Jan-2005 498
Dec-2004 544
Nov-2004 1424
Oct-2004 648
Sep-2004 706
Aug-2004 895
Jul-2004 552
Jun-2004 589
May-2004 757
Apr-2004 1212
Mar-2004 323
Feb-2004 150
Jan-2004 189
Dec-2003 261
Nov-2003 337
Oct-2003 413
Sep-2003 247
Aug-2003 181
Jul-2003 226
Jun-2003 147
May-2003 55
Apr-2003 340
Mar-2003 202
Total 15955

Now, how about dispensing with the fucking "WE" when this subject is discussed, unless of course you're one of the sorry souls minus life or limb, minus friend or family, in Dubya's Grand Criminal Adventure. Otherwise "WE" doesn't apply to you.

Posted by: steve duncan on December 29, 2005 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

To be slightly more accurate it should be: Kurdistan, Sunnistan and Iranistan, because they will be the Syria to Iranistan's Lebanon. Up north, in Kurdistan, the Turks will certainly not sit idly by. The Sunni's will sit in the middle with no oil ergo no money, sqeezed by Kurdistan and Iranistan. Plenty of ingredients for ongoing conflict. The neocons were effing stupid not to factor this in. What a bunch of maroons.

Posted by: ExBrit on December 29, 2005 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

But how would Turkey respond to an independent Kurdistan?

In general terms, not well. In specific terms, I'd prefer to hear what Praedor Atredes has to say on the subject.

Praedor, you around?

Posted by: Edo on December 29, 2005 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK
I think the necessity is that an American military presence in Iraq not only helps stabilize that country [...]

That's an interesting belief. Why should anyone else believe it?

[...] but leaves the US with an option of having that presence serve as a staging point if we get into a battle in the middle east.

Our presence in Iraq severely curtails our ability to operate anywhere else, including elsewhere in the Middle East, because it ties up most of the combat power of the US military.

And if, as you suggest above, our forces are needed to maintain stability in Iraq, drawing them down to use elsewhere staged from Iraq isn't a viable option, because you then create instability in the area from which your new deployment is supported, which is a good recipe for catastrophic failure.

Not the least important part of having a presence in Iraq will be the deterrence it will serve to the countries around it, like Iran, who has pledged to destroy America, and most recently whose president said that the holocaust never happend.

Iranian rhetoric is hardly a substantive threat to America, and the American invasion of Iraq and continued presence there manifestly contributes to anti-American radicalization in the region, including in Iran. The US has the power to do any level of harm necessary to Iran, from afar, regardless of any deployment in Iraq; the presence of US troops in places where it is easier for Iran or pro-Iranian terrorists to strike back at them mitigates the deterrent effect of the US strategic power by increasing the ability of Iran to harm the US, and thereby providing a counterdeterrent.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

You all understand that the US military presence in Iraq will continue to be there for many, many years to come, right? I call to your attention our military presence in Eurpoe, especially Germany. We still have troops there and WWII has been over for over 50 years. What makes you think that Iraq will somehow be any different, that we'll take all the troops out there, but not in other countries?

No, we won't be there in a few years. The difference between Iraq and, say, Germany is that in Germany the US had a successful occupation of a foe it defeated and which accepted its defeat. It was easy and convenient to keep troops in Germany because (1) the Germans wanted the Americans there as a bulwark against the Soviets and (2) American troops weren't dying and there and was no resistance against them.

Neither is the case in Iraq. A US Administration cannot afford to keep an occupation going when it is losing 1,000 troops a year and billions of dollars a month for no appreciable gain. The public won't stand for it. I call to your attention Vietnam, where we have no troops because we were chased out.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Not the least important part of having a presence in Iraq will be the deterrence it will serve to the countries around it, like Iran, who has pledged to destroy America, and most recently whose president said that the holocaust never happend.

What does the last part have to do with deterrence? What does deterrence have to do with anything? Deterrence from what? He made assinine statements and we're already there! Right next door! They're also developing nukes, and care not a whit about our military there because our idiot president has already stretched our boys too thin.

Who the hell thinks that our army, as dedicated as they are, could invade another country while barely holding on to two others? Not to mention that this country is much larger and more populated than the other two combined and probably has the WMD capabilities we whiffed on in Iraq.

My God, is there any end to it?

Posted by: n.o.l.t.f on December 29, 2005 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Well I for one believe it's time for the Sunnis to reap the wind.

Posted by: tommy friedman on December 29, 2005 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK
I guess the best way to put it into perspective would be to read up on what things were like in Japan, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, and any other place where a war and reconstruction tool place.

In places like that, people weren't blowing up US soldiers in organized, active armed resistance after the end of the war with the enemy state. So its pretty clear that those are unlike Iraq.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I disagree that being in Iraq curtails our ability to operate anywhere else. By that logic, being in Europe and Asia has curtailed our ability to operate in Iraq. (Personally, I think that we could take the tens of thousands of troops who are sitting in Europe, and use them if we needed to. Of course, then Europe would have to pay for an army to defend itself for a change, instead of relying on American military to protect them.)

The other thing is that drawing down troops won't happen independently of the stability in Iraq. I think you incorrectly assume that we'll leave Iraq when it's unstable so we can go somewhere else to fight if necessary. Democrats and Republicans agree that that is not a wise course of action, and frankly I wouldn't even put it on a list of theoretical "what if's".

"That's an interesting belief. Why should anyone else believe it?" -because that's what is happening in Iraq right now. There would be no stability in the post-invasion phase if it weren't for the military presence.

To Steve Duncan: Are you an American citizen? If so, than you are definitely part of "we" whether you supported the war or not (I'm guessing not). For you see, you are still as much an American citizen as I or any other. If you don't see yourself as part of the American "we", please tell me what your affiliations are, and I'll respect them. I'll also caveat every future use of the American "we" to be "we minus steve duncan"

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

indolene: here's a piece of advice for you. if you haven't read up on post-world war ii conditions, read up on it. don't assume that the rest of us haven't.

Posted by: howard on December 29, 2005 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Iranian rhetoric is hardly a substantive threat to America"
Neither was Osama Bin Laden's rhetoric before 9/11. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that various groups were going to salt the security forces with their own "ringers" was obvious way back when the news of the Sadr group doing this same thing made the papers. I wrote about it as long ago as early 2004, although I was more worried about Baathists, other insurgents, and Sadr's goons than I was about Kurds.

This would have been a problem in any case in a nation with tribal loyalties that tend to be stronger than national ones. There were probably similar issues in America with the first Continental Army.

If the Iraqi central government manages to emerge as something everyone can live with, the divided loyalties of soldiers like the Kurds will hopefully eventually fade, as they have with other new nations. Of course, that still leaves the insurgent, or even al Qaeda ringers.

The army under Saddam was stacked with Saddam loyalists, yet somehow I still hear people claiming we should have left that army intact. What's the difference?

Posted by: tbrosz on December 29, 2005 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

The question of a continued military presence in Iraq is an interesting exercise from a US viewpoint,but what response is likely from the administration if the newly seated Parliament selects a PM on the basis of a resolution requiring the US military to leave posthaste? Would the President seek to defy such a request even if it came from a Shiite majority with open Iranian backing? Would the US accede to the request (demand) and leave within the six month window as Murtha suggested? Or does the administration try to argue that a withdrawal wouldn't be prudent? I think it's the worst of both worlds. Stay and get caught in the middle or leave and watch the carnage draw in other parties.
The Turks are going to oppose an independent Kurdistan,Syria will find it difficult to stand by and let their Sunni (and Baathist) brethren be decimated by a Shia majority and Iran is unlikely to passively back a Shia move to carve out as southern state.

Posted by: TJM on December 29, 2005 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

indolene, you wrote up your 1:56 while i was writing up my 1:57, and your 1:56 takes a sad descent.

it's at least arguable that there will be some form of US military presence in some form of iraq in the years to come.

it is not arguable that we are weakened elsewhere by the number of troops we have tied down in iraq - that's a fact. sure, you can point out that the troops sitting in europe right now aren't doing much of anything, and could be redeployed, but until that decision of state is taken, they are occupied. it's the kind of thing the bush administration should have thought about before this war, but that's when they were thinking that we would be down to 30K troops in september, '03, a piece of ideologically blinkered fantasy that seems almost unbelievable to reflect back on today.

it is not arguable that there is "stability" in iraq right now with the US troops there - that's a falsehood. the Dear Leader's definition of victory isn't stability any more, indolene: it's the ability of the iraqis to defend themselves, which is, by definition, unknowable until we leave. so we're going to leave without knowing if the country is stable, either because we need the troops elsewhere or because public disgust at the cost in blood and treasure for so insignificant a change in us national security overwhelms even the propaganda robots.

Posted by: howard on December 29, 2005 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think the necessity is that an American military presence in Iraq not only helps stabilize that country, but leaves the US with an option of having that presence serve as a staging point if we get into a battle in the middle east.

We have several other staging areas, in countries such as Kuwait and Qatar, where they are not getting shot at daily and where their presence is not creating a terrorist playground. Iraq was stable before we invaded, so it seems somewhat bizarre to say that our presence, which is the very source of the terrrorims and civil war now plaguing that country, is a stabilizing influence.

Not the least important part of having a presence in Iraq will be the deterrence it will serve to the countries around it, like Iran, who has pledged to destroy America, and most recently whose president said that the holocaust never happend.

First, our presence is not a deterrent because it's revealed how weak our military really is, that the bulk of US fighting forces can be tied down by a few thousand lightly armed guerillas. Second, the president of Iran pledged to destroy Israel, not America -- it's not the same thing.

I just don't see things in Iraq 10 years from now to be that much the same as things in Iraq are right now.

No, they'll probably be worse for us.

I guess the best way to put it into perspective would be to read up on what things were like in Japan, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, and any other place where a war and reconstruction tool place. See what things were like in those places, and reasonably estimate that's how things will go in Iraq. Of course you have to take into consideration uniqueness of each situation, but I think that the similarities of each are stronger than the differences...

Proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Once again, the difference between Iraq and your examples is that (a) we won those wars while we're losing in Iraq and (b) the native populations in those countries wanted us there to defend them, while in Iraq they want us gone.

Look, you're dealing with historical experts here, people whose knowledge of politics and history is deep and wide. Don't think you can come in here and fool us with some half--understood historical analogies.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

TJM,

Good point. I think that in Iraq, te US military would have to do what the Iraqi government told it... I mean, that's what Bush has said.

That's a "wait and see" thing, for sure.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, the argument against disbanding the army is that the disbanded, having nothing better to do, joined up with the insurgents (not all of them, obviously, but certainly thousands of them).

the further difference is that, for better or worse, saddam was committed to a unified iraq, and having an army full of people who would do whatever he ordered meant that the army was committed to a unified iraq.

it is not the case that the kurds and the shiites are committed, per se, to a unified iraq. this may, indeed, as someone else has already noted, the "best" outcome: i can't say, other than noting that the "iraqi" people are residents of a state created to served the interests of british imperialism, not residents of a state that organically arose from a tribal past.

regardless, when you've already got a low-grade civil war going on, the gap between "here" (the army containing many people whose primary allegiance is to their ethnic tribe, not to the nation at large) and "there" (some utopian future in iraq when ethnicity has faded as an issue and everyone now loves their neighbors as themselves) is rather large and dangerous, especially to the occupying army (that would be, uh, us)....

Posted by: howard on December 29, 2005 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree that being in Iraq curtails our ability to operate anywhere else. By that logic, being in Europe and Asia has curtailed our ability to operate in Iraq.

There's a difference between keeping troops in occupation duty where they are not being shot at and keeping them in combat theatres where they are undergoing daily attacks with all the attendant stress on their morale, fighting capacity and equipment. A child should recognize this.

(Personally, I think that we could take the tens of thousands of troops who are sitting in Europe, and use them if we needed to. Of course, then Europe would have to pay for an army to defend itself for a change, instead of relying on American military to protect them.)

Protect them from what, you loon? The Red Army? European nations already have armies of their own and are perfectly capable. The primary purpose of our keeping troops in Europe was not for their benefit, to protect them, but for ours, so we can project force around the world and maintain our empire.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,
I'm not trying to fool anyone. I'm trying to talk about things, and when you teach me something I don't know or tell me something I got wrong, I would appreciate that you (and all of you) not condescend toward me. Thanks.

Also, you say "Once again, the difference between Iraq and your examples is that (a) we won those wars while we're losing in Iraq and (b) the native populations in those countries wanted us there to defend them, while in Iraq they want us gone."
Two things: 1)how do you know we are losing in Iraq? 2)are you sure that Germans, Italians, and Japanese really wanted us to go in to their country and defend them? Judging by the actions their countries took against the world, I'd have guessed "no".

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Iranian rhetoric is hardly a substantive threat to America"
Neither was Osama Bin Laden's rhetoric before 9/11. I'm just sayin'.

Al Qaeda was engaged in an ongoing terrorism campaign against American interests before 9/11, such as the embassy and Cole attacks. Iran, on the other hand, hasn't engaged in any anti-US terrorism since the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK
I disagree that being in Iraq curtails our ability to operate anywhere else. By that logic, being in Europe and Asia has curtailed our ability to operate in Iraq.

Well, certainly our combat operations in Central Asia, if they had not been reduced to divert resources to the invasion of Iraq, would have done so; our noncombat deployments in Europe and Asia were drawn down considerably for Iraq, and continue to be drawn down to support that operation.

Nowhere in the world is so much of our combat power devoted to combat operations as it is in Iraq.

(Personally, I think that we could take the tens of thousands of troops who are sitting in Europe, and use them if we needed to. Of course, then Europe would have to pay for an army to defend itself for a change, instead of relying on American military to protect them.)

Um, where do you think lots of the troops for Iraq came from, Mars?

The other thing is that drawing down troops won't happen independently of the stability in Iraq. I think you incorrectly assume that we'll leave Iraq when it's unstable so we can go somewhere else to fight if necessary.

No, what I'm saying is that devoting most of our combat power to stabilizing Iraq (whether or not it works) does not make Iraq available, as you have claimed, as a staging area for combat operations elsewhere.


There would be no stability in the post-invasion phase if it weren't for the military presence.

How do you know that? There is certainly a considerable degree of instability directly resulting from widespread opposition to the presence of US forces, evidenced by polls showing widespread support for attacks on US and other foreign forces, far exceeding opposition to the present government.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

So becuse they're on hiatus means that they won't try again?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK
European nations already have armies of their own and are perfectly capable.

Well, except, among our NATO allies, Iceland, as I recall.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

If Washington Post says something it must be true. We must be losing the Iraq war then, our President's and Rumsfeld's reasoned and fact- based assessments notwithstanding.

Posted by: tbrosz on December 29, 2005 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK
Neither was Osama Bin Laden's rhetoric before 9/11.

Only if, like Bush before 9/11 but unlike his predecessor, you ignore the fact that bin Laden, in addition to rhetoric, had been conducting and continued to conduct and attempt to conduct actual terrorist operations directed at the United States for quite some time before 9/11.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Edo on December 29, 2005 at 1:45 PM:

But how would Turkey respond to an independent Kurdistan?

I know I'm not Praedor, but if you don't mind me putting in my 2 cents, I'd have to say in general terms, not well.

Here's some snapshot background information about the Kurdish population through 1999.

In more recent news:

Turkish television stations will be allowed to broadcast Kurdish programs and other languages spoken by minority groups next month.

The move is seen as a step towards expanding the cultural rights of the country's long-repressed Kurdish minority in line with Turkey's efforts to gain full membership of the European Union.

Some stations complained that the broadcasts would be limited to 45 minutes a day and that none would be broadcast live because of regulations requiring Turkish subtitles.

"Even so, who could have imagined that we could have TV programs in a language we were not allowed to even speak?" said Hasim Hasimi, an independent Kurdish politician.

Like many, he attributed the move to Turkey's drive to join the EU.

The 25-nation bloc, which opened membership negotiations with Turkey in October, has been pressing Turkey to end discrimination against its Kurdish population.

Estimated at about 14 million, the Kurds are Turkey's largest ethnic minority, yet until 1991 their language, which is distinct from Turkish, was banned as part of a state campaign to assimilate their culture and stifle nationalist passions.

The bans were eased in 2002 when, succumbing to EU pressure, the parliament also granted limited rights for Kurdish to be taught as a "foreign" language in private schools.

So my gut feeling on the issue goes like this: Turkey doesn't want an independent Kurdistan for fear that it will encourage more heated calls for recognition of equal civil rights for Turkish Kurds. How far the Turkish government is willing to push that view in light of its desire to join the EU remains to be seen.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not trying to fool anyone. I'm trying to talk about things, and when you teach me something I don't know or tell me something I got wrong, I would appreciate that you (and all of you) not condescend toward me. Thanks.

OK, fair point. I apologize for the name calling.

Also, you say "Once again, the difference between Iraq and your examples is that (a) we won those wars while we're losing in Iraq and (b) the native populations in those countries wanted us there to defend them, while in Iraq they want us gone."

Two things: 1)how do you know we are losing in Iraq?

I read the news. For a less flip answer, I know because the long-term trends (the growth of the Shiite religious parties, our mounting casualties, the cost to us, the increased strength of the insurgency, the strain on our armed forces, rising ethnic tensions, etc.) are all against us

2)are you sure that Germans, Italians, and Japanese really wanted us to go in to their country and defend them? Judging by the actions their countries took against the world, I'd have guessed "no".

No, you're getting this wrong. They didn't want us to go in and defend them before WWII. But once WWII was over and we'd won, Germany, Italy and Japan accepted US forces because the alternative -- occupation by Stalin's Red Army -- was much worse. They also soon realized that we were rather benevolent occupiers and would spend a lot of money to rebuild them, so saw cooperating with us to be in their long term interest.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK
Turkey doesn't want an independent Kurdistan for fear that it will encourage more heated calls for recognition of equal civil rights for Turkish Kurds.

No, Turkey doesn't want an independent Kurdistan for fears that the already existing Kurdish freedom fighter/separatist/terrorist/whatever-you-feel-like-calling them groups operating in Turkey, who often already have bases in Iraqi Kurdistan, will have safe haven and support and encouragement from an independent "Kurdistan" and seek to join the parts of Turkey that they consider part of Kurdistan to that new nation.

(Syria and Iran would likely have similar concerns, and in fact Turkey, Syria, and Iran have been reported to have had joint discussions concerning possible coordinated responses should Iraqi Kurdistan break away as an independent state.)

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

There are so many points to try to speak to, forgive me if I don't address them all.

cmdicely,
Please tell me, in your opinion, how one twisted view of Islam (Al Quaeda) and another twisted view of Islam (the Iranian mullocracy (sp?)) are so different. I guess a big one off the top of my head: one has a nation and the other doesn't. That's where the threat from Iran comes. IMO, the Iranian leadership is using religion as a cause to incite the death of, including Americans, anyone who isn't part of their religion. Am I wrong?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

So becuse they're on hiatus means that they won't try again?

Iran has no immediate tactical or long-term strategic goals in conducting operations against the US. We're far more of a threat to them than they are to us, and it's because they view us as a threat, partly, that they've been building up their nuclear capacity.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,
"No, you're getting this wrong. They didn't want us to go in and defend them before WWII. But once WWII was over and we'd won, Germany, Italy and Japan accepted US forces because the alternative -- occupation by Stalin's Red Army -- was much worse. They also soon realized that we were rather benevolent occupiers and would spend a lot of money to rebuild them, so saw cooperating with us to be in their long term interest."

Good point, but I counter with: do you not agree that there are some Iraqis who do want us there? I think that there are, and the number who want us there is greater than the number who don't. Also, we (sorry, we minus steve duncan) are no more evil or no less benevolent as an occupier in 1945 as compared to 2005. Plus I'd argue that we spend more : )

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Please tell me, in your opinion, how one twisted view of Islam (Al Quaeda) and another twisted view of Islam (the Iranian mullocracy (sp?)) are so different.

They're tremendously different, and have quite different philosphies and world views. Don't assume that just because they're both Muslim that they're the same -- this would be assuming that Catholics are the same as Baptists because they're both "Christian." Without getting too far into the specifics, Al Qadea members are Sunni and generally follow a variation of Salafi/Wahabbit Islam, while Iranians are Shiites.

Also, the fact that you don't understand another religion is no excuse to call it "twisted."

I guess a big one off the top of my head: one has a nation and the other doesn't. That's where the threat from Iran comes.

Actually, the fact that Iran is a nation while Al Qaeda isn't makes Al Qaeda, not Iran, the bigger threat. Iran's interests are localized to the region, while Al Qaeda is a worldwide movement that can strike anywhere and has adherents all over the globe.

IMO, the Iranian leadership is using religion as a cause to incite the death of, including Americans, anyone who isn't part of their religion. Am I wrong?

Yes. Iran is not inciting the deaths of Americans. While the mullahs are of course religious leaders, you discount their interest in increasing their economic/political/military rather than their religious power.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK
Please tell me, in your opinion, how one twisted view of Islam (Al Quaeda) and another twisted view of Islam (the Iranian mullocracy (sp?)) are so different.

Well, other than the rather considerable theological difference, one has status quo power over a reasonably (technologically) modern state on which the ruling class relies and which is therefore eminently subject to strategic targetting by the US of things like industrial, economic, military, security, and government apparatus, while the other has no particular vested interested in any existing state but instead seeks to rally anger against the West to sell a vision of a global struggle against Islam by the West in order to support the idea that it ought to be recognized as the vanguard of the fight on the Islamic side, and therefore, unlike the other, has a positive, rather than negative, interest in US attacks on economic, cultural, etc., sites associated with Islamic populations and is largely immune to strategic deterrence.

There are considerable other differences, too, but those are the most relevant to the present discussion.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,
I didn't sauy that Islam is twisted, I said that the mullahs and Al Quaeda are twisting Islam.

I do recall Iran making at least a few "death to America" calls every now and then... I also understand that any body in power wants to remain in power.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK
Good point, but I counter with: do you not agree that there are some Iraqis who do want us there?

There are probably some, although the majority that feel that attacks on US forces are justified stand against them. (Actually, I suppose al-Qaeda sympathizers probably both want the US there and think attacks on the US are justified.)

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Good point, but I counter with: do you not agree that there are some Iraqis who do want us there? I think that there are, and the number who want us there is greater than the number who don't.

No, you're wrong about that. Most Iraqis want us out, and quick. The major polls, while unrelaible, all support that. Even if they all wanted us to stay, why should we do so if it was against our interests? What are we getting that'd worth the death of our soldiers?

Also, we (sorry, we minus steve duncan) are no more evil or no less benevolent as an occupier in 1945 as compared to 2005. Plus I'd argue that we spend more : )

Please stop these facile and ignorant comparisons to 1945. In WWII we occupied Japan and Germany because we had been attacked and declared war on by them; in Iraq, on the other hand, we were the aggressor who invaded a sovereign nation without cause. There's simply no comparison. And believe me, I know, because my German family lived under American occupation.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

The Kurds intend/plan for an independent state? Good. Hell, I was behind them from the beginning of this entire illegal war in Iraq. They were clearly the only group with a functional head on their shoulders (strengthened by years as a de facto independent state under the protection of the No Fly Zone backed by US - and allied - air power). They've already shown that they are capable of running a decent secular state. They deserve it and they are welcome to it.

The shit is there for the Shiites and the Sunnis. The Shiites are incapable of doing anything without a mullah telling them where to shit and how to breath. The Sunnis are a mishmash of secular and religious nuts. The Shiites and the Sunnis are looking at ugly days ahead. The Kurds, barring an unjustifiable Turkish assault, are set to have a pretty decent little country.

Anyone with a marble in their head (this leaves out the entirety of the Bush Admin) could see that partition and civil war was the only outcome possible in this debacle. The Kurds have it the easiest while the bulk of the shit is there for the Shiites and Sunnis to eat.

What a bunch of genius' makes up the Bush Admin.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on December 29, 2005 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't sauy that Islam is twisted, I said that the mullahs and Al Quaeda are twisting Islam.

But why do you say that? If you're not very familiar with Islamic theology or practice how can you say that their version is any less correct or any more "twisted" than any other branch of Islam?

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

indolene on December 29, 2005 at 1:56 PM:

Of course, then Europe would have to pay for an army to defend itself for a change, instead of relying on American military to protect them.

Not to be antagonistic, but this kinda stuck out for two reasons: 1) EU countries still have armies, right? and 2) What exactly is the American military protecting them from?

Oh, checked on some of the responses...I guess that I'm not the only one who noticed that...

indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:04 PM:

I think that in Iraq, te US military would have to do what the Iraqi government told it... I mean, that's what Bush has said.

From the Associated Press, November 22, 2005:

CAIRO (AP) Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.

The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.

The participants in Cairo agreed on "calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation" and end terror attacks.

The conference was attended by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers, as well as leading Sunni politicians.

Curiously, the same article posted on the CNN website is no longer available...

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I do recall Iran making at least a few "death to America" calls every now and then...

Sure, they've been doing that since 1979. And people in the US have been plotting the overthrow for the mullahs for just as long. It's all words and empty rhetoric.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

After reading some of these comments:
The US disarmed Japan and Germany, NATO forces in Europe were very much protecting Germany,they had no army,neither did Japan outside of a small self-defence force.
Most of Europe today has very limited forces outside of their contribution to NATO, one reason France for example didn't send troops to Iraq (assuming they wanted to) was they didn't have any.
The Turks are not going to support a Kurdistan that has an army,better trained and more experienced than their own. Which is why the Iraqi army is being equipped with Eastern Bloc hand-me-downs. For example, the Iraqi armored division being formed has T-72 tanks donated by Hungary (State Dept. Weekly Staus Reports),trucks are old Soviet models (Naz and Gaz whatever they are),Russian AK-47s,and machine guns. No Abrams for these boys,no F-18 and certainly not the next generation.
The polls in Iraq indicate more than just a majority want the US out. They do think things will be better in the future, but without the US.

Posted by: TJM on December 29, 2005 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

"while the other has no particular vested interested in any existing state but instead seeks to rally anger against the West to sell a vision of a global struggle against Islam by the West in order to support the idea that it ought to be recognized as the vanguard of the fight on the Islamic side, and therefore, unlike the other, has a positive, rather than negative, interest in US attacks on economic, cultural, etc., sites associated with Islamic populations and is largely immune to strategic deterrence."
I see what you mean, but I read into that: AQ has nothing material to lose, while Iran does. I see your point, but all I can say is that there were other countries in the history of the human race that had heated rhetoric and something to lose as well.. a lot of them ended up fighting and losing.

What do you think about Bin Laden's call for the return of a caliphate (I googled 'bin laden caliphate' and got many results)? You're right, AQ doesn't have a state, but they want one...a worldwide one, at that.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

grape_crush,

I know I'm not Praedor, but if you don't mind me putting in my 2 cents, I'd have to say in general terms, not well.

I don't mind at all, and apparently we agree on the broader aspect of it. What I was hoping for from Praedor was a more nuanced view of the strategic and tactical military and political situation.

If the Kurds seceed and form a "Kurdistan" state, would Turkey, Iran and/or Syria attack them? If so, how would that impact Turkey's EU desires and membership in NATO (assuming there would be an impact)? etc.

If you have any perspective on that, I'd love to hear it.

Posted by: Edo on December 29, 2005 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

What do you think about Bin Laden's call for the return of a caliphate (I googled 'bin laden caliphate' and got many results)? You're right, AQ doesn't have a state, but they want one...a worldwide one, at that.

And I want a billion dollars. Neither one is likely to happen.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"obvious that we're going to draw down significantly before the 2006 election, and I'm sure the President will be on TV with the "Iraqis are standing up so we are standing down" talking point. If Iraq implodes, what do they then say?"

It's Clinton's Fault.

Posted by: Mysticdog on December 29, 2005 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:20 PM:

Turkey, Syria, and Iran have been reported to have had joint discussions concerning possible coordinated responses should Iraqi Kurdistan break away as an independent state.

Oh yeah, that too. Would help if I remembered the article I just read.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

"But why do you say that? If you're not very familiar with Islamic theology or practice how can you say that their version is any less correct or any more "twisted" than any other branch of Islam?"
So what is the correct statement then? Are these groups twisting Islam, or is that what Islam is all about?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Praedor,

The Kurds, barring an unjustifiable Turkish assault, are set to have a pretty decent little country.

Think Turkey (or Syria or Iran for that matter) would attack or would they let it go? If the latter, how long do you think the new Kurd state would allow the Kurds in Turkey to continue to be oppresed?

Posted by: Edo on December 29, 2005 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK
I see what you mean, but I read into that: AQ has nothing material to lose, while Iran does.

That's imprecise. al-Qaeda has plenty of things to lose, of course, but they aren't the things that the distant striking power of the United States is very good at hitting, so they aren't particularly amenable to strategic deterrence the way Iran is.

I see your point, but all I can say is that there were other countries in the history of the human race that had heated rhetoric and something to lose as well.. a lot of them ended up fighting and losing.

Mostly, the ended up fighting and losing when what they had to lose from not-fighting was more than they had to lose by fighting, though of course false perception and irrationality come into play here to a certain extent. The point is, there is no substantial additional deterrent effect on Iran posed by US forces engaged in a drawn-out conflict next door, and considerable mitigation of the credibility of the American strategic threat undermining strategic deterrence since the presence of US forces in Iraq increases the likely cost of any use of the strategic capacity against Iran.

What do you think about Bin Laden's call for the return of a caliphate (I googled 'bin laden caliphate' and got many results)?

I think that it is a key point in understanding his motivations; particularly, in understanding why he wants the US to wage war against regimes governing Islamic populations, and why he has no vested interest in the survival of existing regimes, particularly regimes governing Islamic populations.


Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, I think that there are valid comparisons that can be made from the two wars. I say this because regardless of who started each war, America ended up being an occupier, and that is the same in each instance. I think that you could even learn something from an instance where any country occupied another... I think you can still glean valuable insight from history in that regard.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK
The Kurds, barring an unjustifiable Turkish assault, are set to have a pretty decent little country.

The first time Kurdish "terrorists" strike Turkey from bases in "Kurdistan" -- or even appear to be preparing to -- a Turkish assault becomes a lot less "unjustifiable". Certainly less "unjustifiable" than the US invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

" our President's and Rumsfeld's reasoned and fact- based assessments notwithstanding "

tea-out-the-nose funny.

Posted by: Cal Gal on December 29, 2005 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK
Stefan, I think that there are valid comparisons that can be made from the two wars. I say this because regardless of who started each war, America ended up being an occupier, and that is the same in each instance.

Sure, the mere fact of US occupation is the same; but the conditions in which that occupation came about are relevant to how the occupation progressed, and in fact both the pre-occupation conditions and the post-occupation progress are sharply different between the US post-WWII occupations of Germany and Japan (or US peackeeping in Bosnia) and the US occupation of Iraq.

It therefore seems foolishly, given the sharp dissimilarities both in the background from occupation and the past and current progress of occupation to look to those past occupations as models for the likely future progress of the US presence in Iraq.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Look, you're dealing with historical experts here, people whose knowledge of politics and history is deep and wide. Don't think you can come in here and fool us with some half--understood historical analogies.

indolene:

I'm not trying to fool anyone. I'm trying to talk about things, and when you teach me something I don't know or tell me something I got wrong, I would appreciate that you (and all of you) not condescend toward me. Thanks.

Indolene, a nearly-cosmic level of intellectual arrogance is one of the things you deal with coming to a board like this. Get used to it.

Posted by: tbrosz on December 29, 2005 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK
Praedor, The Kurds, barring an unjustifiable Turkish assault, are set to have a pretty decent little country. Think Turkey (or Syria or Iran for that matter) would attack or would they let it go? If the latter, how long do you think the new Kurd state would allow the Kurds in Turkey to continue to be oppresed?

The Kurds of Iraq would be in no position to do anything against Turkey for any reason. The Kurds in Turkey would best serve their nationalistic interests by moving to N. Iraq to join their Kurdish brothers and sisters in what will, one way or another, be a Kurdish state. Turkey's sole fear is that the Kurds of N. Iraq obtaining an independent Kurdistan (they will one way or another regardless) will give their own Kurds "ideas". Ridiculous. Ridiculous for the Kurds in Turkey to seek this when there's a ready-made Kurd state right across the border and ridiculous that the Kurds of Iraq will change much by way of the Kurds in Turkey's desires one way or another. Ridiculous too to is the idea that Turkey can do much to change reality. Norther Iraq IS and WILL BE, one way or another, an independent Kurdish state even if by some miracle Iraq doesn't fall apart in civil war.

The Iraqi Kurds are THE most together group in Iraq. The Shiites are mostly together but for ill religious reasons. Ugly ugly ugly. The Sunnis are just screwed. As hard as it is for them (and the Kurds) the best thing the Sunnis could do is make secular peace with, and join, the Kurds. The country would be a secular north dominated by the good Kurds with a large Sunni minority and the south would be (WILL be) a Shiite religious hellhole (particularly if you are a woman or nonmuslim). That is just reality.

I am not up on Syria, though they don't have much room to do SQUAT with Bush just ITCHING for a reason to expand the illegal war in Iraq into Syria and do a little regime change there (Iran isn't the only idiotic target of BushCo). Syria is a nonthreat. Really. As for Iran, I rather doubt they will do much of anything. They HAVE southern Iraq, to a great extent, just by religious "brotherhood" but even this hold is not total. The Iraqi Shiites, by and large, are keen on being independent and are NOT into having Iran call the shots. Iran is not a threat.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on December 29, 2005 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Gotcha. I disagree with you in that I think having our military right next to Iran does prove a deterrent, but I don't think we'll ever agree on that, so I'm ok leaving that topic alone if you are.

Also, what's similar to me about the WWII and OIF occupations is that in each, you have huge populations of people who lived under a certain way of life, only to see that way of life destroyed by an outside force, and the outside force comes in and tries to acclimate the population to a new way of life. Yeah it's a very simplistic redux, but I think has value... maybe we should leave that topic alone too? : )

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: ... leaves the US with an option of having that presence serve as a staging point if we get into a battle in the middle east.

And why in the world would we "get into a battle in the middle east"? I can't imagine what's in the Middle East that would be worth battling over.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 29, 2005 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK
Turkey's sole fear is that the Kurds of N. Iraq obtaining an independent Kurdistan (they will one way or another regardless) will give their own Kurds "ideas".

Er, no. The Kurds of Turkey have the "ideas" -- and the armed separatist/terrorist movements to attempt to implement those ideas -- already. The Turkish concern is that an independent (formerly Iraqi) Kurdistan will provide a base of support, both material and ideological, for its own active Kurdish rebellion as, in fact, the semi-independent Iraqi Kurdistan has more than once during the time it was protectected by US-imposed no-fly zones.

Ridiculous. Ridiculous for the Kurds in Turkey to seek this when there's a ready-made Kurd state right across the border and ridiculous that the Kurds of Iraq will change much by way of the Kurds in Turkey's desires one way or another.

The Kurds of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria have, for quite some time, had an idea of a united independent Kurdistan composed of portions of all four of those countries. Your idea that achieving part of that goal will get the Kurds to abandon the rest of it is, in your word, "ridiculous".

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, I think that there are valid comparisons that can be made from the two wars. I say this because regardless of who started each war, America ended up being an occupier, and that is the same in each instance. I think that you could even learn something from an instance where any country occupied another... I think you can still glean valuable insight from history in that regard.

But that's merely the starting point of any analysis, the mere fact that the US has acted an occupier at many points in its history. After that you have to examine both the similarities and the differences, you have to go deeper and delve into what happened.

America was an occupier -- that's the same. But why they did, how they did it, the circumstances that led up to it, the political/strategic/military situation, the pressures back home, the native population, the level of resistnace, etc. -- that's all different.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Indolene, a nearly-cosmic level of intellectual arrogance is one of the things you deal with coming to a board like this. Get used to it.

I say we keep tbrosz here for providing us with such moments of unintended comic relief.

Posted by: lib on December 29, 2005 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

And why in the world would we "get into a battle in the middle east"? I can't imagine what's in the Middle East that would be worth battling over.

Oil. But if it comes to that we already have staging areas in or around the Middle East, in the form of Kuwait, Qatar, the U.A.E, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, etc. Why on Earth people think we need to put troops in Iraq, where they're getting shot at every day, is beyond me...

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Well, they were getting shot at every day before we went in, too...enforcing those no-fly zones.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Indolene, a nearly-cosmic level of intellectual arrogance is one of the things you deal with coming to a board like this. Get used to it.

tbrosz is not usually that confessional.

Notice how he can't assail the story which undercuts so much of what he's written here, so he attacks the demeanor of those discussing it in an attempt discredit the debate. Ever the master of distraction.

Arrogance about one's demonstrable abilities is much preferred over dishonest, womanish, whining toadiness.

Posted by: trex on December 29, 2005 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

trex: I am sure they don't need me to defend them, but why insult the women here?

Posted by: lib on December 29, 2005 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Gotcha. I disagree with you in that I think having our military right next to Iran does prove a deterrent, but I don't think we'll ever agree on that, so I'm ok leaving that topic alone if you are.

Not to stir the pot, but since Iran is busily developing its nuclear capacity while we have troops on three sides of them what, exactly, are we deterring? They know we don't have the strength to invade them, so any of our threats are seen as so much saber-rattling.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

and to insult toads?

Posted by: lib on December 29, 2005 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Well, I don't know tha answer to that. North Korea is doing the same thing (albeit without being surrounded). Why are Iran and NK pursuing nukes in the first place? Iran doesn't need nukes, they've got plenty of oil to get energy from, NK, well, I just feel sorry for all the people who have to live there...

I guess the better question to all this comes from Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well, they were getting shot at every day before we went in, too...enforcing those no-fly zones.

Which resulted in zero casualties to us over a dozen years. But since we've invaded we've had over fifteen thousand casualties in two and a half years.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz wrote: Indolene, a nearly-cosmic level of intellectual arrogance is one of the things you deal with coming to a board like this. Get used to it.

You are the single most arrogant commenter that posts on this board.

Well, the second most arrogant after Don P.

You are not much of an "intellectual" though, as far as I can tell -- your "intellect" seems comprised predominantly of one-dimensional, cartoon comic book stereotypes out of "McCarthyism for Dummies".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 29, 2005 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I don't know tha answer to that. North Korea is doing the same thing (albeit without being surrounded). Why are Iran and NK pursuing nukes in the first place? Iran doesn't need nukes, they've got plenty of oil to get energy from, NK, well, I just feel sorry for all the people who have to live there...

Why? Power, pride and self-defense. Look at it this way: if you were Iran or North Korea, and you saw that Bush had invaded Iraq, wouldn't you want nukes to protect yourself against the threat of a US attack? It's in their own rational self-interest to acquire nuclear weapons. Let's also not forget that Iran is in a neighborhood with nuclear armed Israel, Pakistan, India, China, Russia and America, so it has more than enough reason to want those same weapons for itself.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well if Juan Cole, he of the distinguished track record on predictions/musings, says it I'm sure it must be, well, almost completely wrong.

Thanks for linking to the good professor so I know the appropriate discount rate for this story!

Posted by: Birkel on December 29, 2005 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

And why insult the dishonest and whining, now that we're at it?

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

"Which resulted in zero casualties to us over a dozen years. But since we've invaded we've had over fifteen thousand casualties in two and a half years."

I can see this argument going in this direction, but here I go anyway: 2000+ US troops and 30,000+ Iraqi military and civilians is an incredibly low number considering our nation's and the world's past battle history. You could also argue that while no US soldiers died enforcing the no-fly zones, Saddam continued to put lots of bodies in the ground. Whose lives are more valuable?

Sorry, I had to say it. I don't really want to argue it though...I can bet you and I have had this argument many times before with other people.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Edo on December 29, 2005 at 2:45 PM:

If you have any perspective on that, I'd love to hear it.

See cmdicely's point, which I left out in a boneheaded posting move.

If the Kurds seceed and form a "Kurdistan" state, would Turkey, Iran and/or Syria attack them?

I'm thinking that in one scenario, if there is an independent Kurdish state that does not choose to expand its boundaries into Iranian or Turkish territory AND does not harbor or support Kurdish nationalist efforts (military or otherwise) in either of those countries, then no. Then the Kurds will only have to contend with disputes over the oil fields in northern Iraq.

But in a different scenario, Turkey and Iran will engage with Kurdistan in an escalating series of border/ethnic disputes which will invite further international involvement in the region. Turkey will back down, and the US will bombard Iran military and industrial targets, reducing Iran's military capability to what Hussein had after Gulf War I. Then, in about 20 years, we have Gulf War III: The Iranian Adventure.

Also, the Kurds will have to contend with disputes over the oil fields in northern Iraq.

As for Syria, they'll continue to fly below the radar, possibly expelling its own Kurdish population to live in our hypothetical Kurdistan...Unless Syria takes an interest in the oil fields in northern Iraq and throws in with the Sunnis.

Then our hypothetical Kurdistan is basically surrounded by three hostile countries (four if you count a hypothetical Sunnistan), each with an interest in the non-existance of an independent Kurdish state. One of which claims to be working toward nuclear capability.

Again, just my thoughts. I really don't like that second scenario, but it feels more reality-based than the first.

If so, how would that impact Turkey's EU desires and membership in NATO (assuming there would be an impact)? etc.

Depends. Does Turkey enter the EU and/or NATO before or after they attack our hypothetical Kurdistan? I'd venture that if it's before, Turkey's case for membership would be severely crippled. If it is after, then...I guess it would have to depend on how well our hypothetical Kurdistan is backed by the US and the EU.

It'll be neat to hear some feedback, even if it's cmdicely correcting me yet again... ;)

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Why? Power, pride and self-defense. Look at it this way: if you were Iran or North Korea, and you saw that Bush had invaded Iraq, wouldn't you want nukes to protect yourself against the threat of a US attack? It's in their own rational self-interest to acquire nuclear weapons. Let's also not forget that Iran is in a neighborhood with nuclear armed Israel, Pakistan, India, China, Russia and America, so it has more than enough reason to want those same weapons for itself."

But the key thing is that the US wasn't the agressor in all this (or at the very least, in Iraq, we didn't want to be). The US has never had ambitions to attack any country, and with the post-9/11 policy, will attack only if it feels it needs to defend itself (like Iraq, on which you and I disagree). Isreal has nukes to protect it from every single country around it which wants to see it wiped off the map. Iran is one of those countries, so Iran with nukes is much worse, IMO. If I were Iran, I'd lay off the "Great Satan" stuff. If I were NK, I'd stop the silly control of information and freedoms of the people.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

"a nearly-cosmic level of intellectual arrogance is one of the things you deal with coming to a board like this". Tbrosz

boy oh boy do you ever fit in the above category Tbrosz. I'm willing to bet anything that no matter how Iraq turns out a year from now, you will be telling us how you knew it (good or bad) would happen and had extensively posted on it before.

Posted by: WhoSays on December 29, 2005 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

While we're anxious to stand down as the Iraqis stand up, according to the State Dept.quarterly report from 1/05 through 9/05 ISF casualties average 62/day. That's 2 1/2 battalions/mo. With 215,000 ISF as of the 12/21 report that's a 10% casualty rate per year. Hope they keep enough people standing so we can leave...but I think we need to hurry up a bit.

Posted by: TJM on December 29, 2005 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

To be slightly more accurate it should be: Kurdistan, Sunnistan and Iranistan, because they will be the Syria to Iranistan's Lebanon. Up north, in Kurdistan, the Turks will certainly not sit idly by. The Sunni's will sit in the middle with no oil ergo no money, sqeezed by Kurdistan and Iranistan. Plenty of ingredients for ongoing conflict. The neocons were effing stupid not to factor this in. What a bunch of maroons.

Posted by: ExBrit on December 29, 2005 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Iranistan" I don't think so. It has become mental shorthand for lots of people to believe that the Shia in Iraq will do whatever the Shia in Iran tell them to do. Their religion is similar but they come from different cultures and speak different languages (Arabic and Farsi). All the holy places of Shia are in Iraq. The Iraqi Shia see themselves as regaining their rightfull place at the head of Shiism and aren't much in the mood to be taking orders from Iran. The LA Times had an interesting piece on this about 3 weeks ago. With their own oil money they can call their own shots.

Posted by: Campesino on December 29, 2005 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

The US has never had ambitions to attack any country, and with the post-9/11 policy, will attack only if it feels it needs to defend itself

Except in the past when we attacked Canada, Mexico, Spain, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, etc. etc. etc.

The simple fact is that the US, throughout its history, has been an aggressive nation that has frequently invaded and/or interfered with (in the form of coups or assassinations, for example) many other countries.

And the caveat "except for the need to defend itself" is useless because the Bush regime will simply portray anything it does as justified by self-defense, no matter how tenuous the claim.

Here's an instructive bit from Tom Holland's excellent "Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic": "It was an article of faith to the Romans that they were the most morally upright people in the world. How else was the size of their empire to be explained. Yet they also knew that the Republic's greatness carried its own risks...Hence the Romans' concern to refute all charges of bullying, and to insist that they had won their empire purely in self-defense. To people flattend by the legions, this argument may have believed laughable, but the Romans believed it all the same, and often with a deadly seriousness."

Sound familiar?

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Isreal has nukes to protect it from every single country around it which wants to see it wiped off the map. Iran is one of those countries, so Iran with nukes is much worse, IMO

In Israel's opinion. Not in Iran's. Iran's two main enemies, Israel and the United States, have nuclear weapons, so it makes perfect sense for them to want some to. This may not be in our interest, but they see it as being in theirs.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Turks are going to oppose an independent Kurdistan,Syria will find it difficult to stand by and let their Sunni (and Baathist) brethren be decimated by a Shia majority and Iran is unlikely to passively back a Shia move to carve out as southern state.


Posted by: TJM on December 29, 2005 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Agree that Turkey would have issues with an independent Kurdish Iraq - but it is interesting that there has been a defacto Kurdish polity there protected by the No-Fly zone for 14 years and the Turks have pretty much put up with it.

You have Syria just backwards. It is the inverse of Iraq - a Sunni majority governed by a Shia (Alawite) minority. The Syrian Alawites could care about the Iraqi Sunni.

I would think Iran would probably like a down-sized tri-partite Iraq. Three smaller less-powerful neighbors would be easier to dominate and play off against each other than one big one.

Posted by: Campesino on December 29, 2005 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

There are similarities, but they are nothing like the differences. The US is giving Iraq back to the Iraqis. The Romans were conquerors, and kept their conquered lands for themselves. There is a great difference between the two.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

But the key thing is that the US wasn't the agressor in all this (or at the very least, in Iraq, we didn't want to be).

What do you mean we didn't want to be? We invaded another sovereign country, which had never threatened us, of our own free will. No one held a gun to our heads. Of course we're the aggressor.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

"In Israel's opinion. Not in Iran's. Iran's two main enemies, Israel and the United States, have nuclear weapons, so it makes perfect sense for them to want some to. This may not be in our interest, but they see it as being in theirs."

So Iran's opinion is supposed to trump the fact that Isreal needs to legitimately defend itself?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't say we weren't the agressor, what I said is America isn't all about just invading countries. That should be an obvious fact. Plus, saying that "We invaded another sovereign country, which had never threatened us" completely ignores that Iraq fired on US planes daily... how is that not agression? When Iraq invaded Kuwait (which brought about the no-fly-zone situation), and a large coalition, which included the US, came in to Kuwait's defence, is that not agression?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

There are similarities, but they are nothing like the differences. The US is giving Iraq back to the Iraqis. The Romans were conquerors, and kept their conquered lands for themselves. There is a great difference between the two.

No, the Romans didn't just occupy but also maintained various client states and subservient allies, just as we do now.

And we're conquerors as well. If you don't believe so ask yourself how we got most of America -- we conquered it from the Indians and the Mexicans and the Hawaiians and the Spanish. Don't forget that California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and parts of Wyoming used to be Mexico until we invaded and took it from them by force.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Touche, but we stopped taking land and growing the physical borders of our country a long time ago. How does any country come about? Land has to be somewhere, and you can be guaranteed that people will already be on that land. Should America not exist then? Should any country exist then?

Also, the Romans got taxes and just took resources from their occupied countries. There is no such actions by the US. We're paying for everything we get from Iraq (it's oil), and we're not imposing taxes on the Iraqis to be paid to our coffers. I just don't see that we're acting like Romans on this...

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Plus, saying that "We invaded another sovereign country, which had never threatened us" completely ignores that Iraq fired on US planes daily... how is that not agression?

What country were those US planes flying over? Iraq. We were intruding on their airspace (for legitimate reasons, but it was an intrusion nonetheless). It's an odd definition of aggression to say that Iraqi forces firing at US jets flying over their own country is aggression against America. If we fired at Iraqi fighter jets flying over the Midwest would that be an act of aggression against Iraq?

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

"What country were those US planes flying over? Iraq. We were intruding on their airspace (for legitimate reasons, but it was an intrusion nonetheless). It's an odd definition of aggression to say that Iraqi forces firing at US jets flying over their own country is aggression against America. If we fired at Iraqi fighter jets flying over the Midwest would that be an act of aggression against Iraq?"

Then be angry at the UN, which bought off on the armistice, which included the the no-fly zones, not the US, which enforced those zones.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Touche, but we stopped taking land and growing the physical borders of our country a long time ago.

Yes, once we'd gotten what we wanted from stealing we stopped stealing. Hurrah for us!

Should America not exist then?

It should, but it should stop pretending it's as pure as the driven snow. That's really annoying.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Then be angry at the UN, which bought off on the armistice, which included the the no-fly zones, not the US, which enforced those zones.

No, that's mistaken. The no-fly zones were maintained by the US (and Britain), not the UN. We were enforcing them for our own interest, not the United Nations. Look it up.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Also, the Romans got taxes and just took resources from their occupied countries. There is no such actions by the US. We're paying for everything we get from Iraq (it's oil), and we're not imposing taxes on the Iraqis to be paid to our coffers. I just don't see that we're acting like Romans on this...

Our goal in Iraq was to open that country to our oil companies. We certainly had the goal of long-term financial gain, and had intended to get de facto (if not de jure) control of Iraq's oil industry. The fact that the plan hasn't worked doesn't mean it wasn't the plan all along. And in fact it was the original plan, as voiced by Wolfowitz, to make Iraq pay for its "reconstruction") (read: our occupation) out of its oil revenues. We just didn't count on the fact that Iraq's oil industry infrastructure was so badly degraded.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

So Iran's opinion is supposed to trump the fact that Isreal needs to legitimately defend itself?

No, it means that Israel, and not the US, is ultimately responsible for Israel's defense.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

"It should, but it should stop pretending it's as pure as the driven snow. That's really annoying."
What's equally annoying (and I'm not saying that you do this Stefan) is when people think that Iran, Iraq, and Al Quaeda are also as pure as the driven snow. I admit that the US has done bad things to people in the past. I don't know anyone who has denied that. However, that doesn't make the US wrong for what it's doing now. The US has also done more good things for people across the world than any other country in history... keep that in mind too. That's all I'm saying.

I don't know too much about the details of the '91 gulf war ending. Thanks for correcting me on it. But again, Iraq wasn't pure driven snow. The US and UK obviously had good reason to fly those planes over those zones...

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK
Does Turkey enter the EU and/or NATO before or after they attack our hypothetical Kurdistan?

Turkey joined NATO in 1952.

I'd venture that if it's before, Turkey's case for membership would be severely crippled. If it is after, then...I guess it would have to depend on how well our hypothetical Kurdistan is backed by the US and the EU.

May also depend on the circumstances; if Turkey takes action in response to a terrorist attack originating within Kurdistan, the US and other NATO members may have some credibility problems objecting in principle to a major military response (and, indeed, in not backing it wholeheartedly), given the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty and invocation of Article 5 in response to the 9/11 attacks. Heck, given the US's post-9/11 rhetoric, it will be hard for the US to have any credibility if Turkey claims on any but the most obviously contrived evidence that there is a credible threat of terrorist groups operating from or with the support of Kurdistan.

Further, I'm not sure that if the Kurds are the apparent leading element in pulling the US fantasy of a united, democratic, and friendly Iraq apart, the US -- particularly as long as teh present administration or its ideological heirs are in power -- would be inclined to support Kurdistan.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:16 PM:

Also, the Romans got taxes and just took resources from their occupied countries.

And the US is getting access to the world's 2nd-largest oil reserves, and those same reserves have been renominated in US dollars from the Euro. The US is supporting the value of its currency with Iraqi oil. So while the US is not treating Iraq as a colony or conquered territory in the classic sense, the US is using the resources of another country in support of its own economy.

I just don't see that we're acting like Romans on this...

It's not a direct analogy, but it still holds up.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Our goal in Iraq was to open that country to our oil companies."

I must have missed that one in this document: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021002-2.html
And other countries use oil too, to an increasing degree and percentage, I might add.

And I know that oil revenues were supposed to partly pay for reconstruction. Honestly, it makes sense. Iraq will have to pay for itself eventually, and while the US destroyed a lot of buildings, it hardly took out huge amounts of infrastructure (roads, power, sewers, etc.). There's a lot to pay for, but it's no bombed-out shell of a country like much of Europe in the 40's. Shoot, you saw the footage, those buildings blew up and the power stayed on in the neighborhood.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK
But the key thing is that the US wasn't the agressor in all this (or at the very least, in Iraq, we didn't want to be).

Oh, yeah, the "I didn't mean to" defense for aggression. It at least has the virtue, in my knowledge, of novelty, but that may be because no one has been dumb enough to try to offer it before.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Grape Crush,

But the US uses many resources from many countries to bolster its economy, and vice versa. It's called trade. We're buying what we get from Iraq, not taking it without paying for it.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Also, the Romans got taxes and just took resources from their occupied countries

All right, but apart from sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on December 29, 2005 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK
Then be angry at the UN, which bought off on the armistice, which included the the no-fly zones, not the US, which enforced those zones.

The binding UN cease-fire resolution did not impose "no fly zones", and indeed obligates the US and other states to respect the soveriengty and territorial integrity of Iraq, which was clearly violated by the illegal imposition of the zones by the US, UK, and France.

The US, UK, and France imposed the NFZ's, supposedly, because they thought it would be helpful to getting Iraq to abide by other terms of the resolution but they had no privilege in international law, themselves, to violate the binding resolution in order to encourage another party to abide by its terms.

France later abandoned participation in the NFZs.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK
Touche, but we stopped taking land and growing the physical borders of our country a long time ago.

Define "a long time".

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

It's not "I didn't mean to" it's "I didn't want to". I'm a conservative/republican/whatever, and I am not for war. I suspect many more people than you think on the right side of the aisle are not in favor of war.

The stickiest point about Iraq is that some elements of why the US went in are holdovers from pre-9/11 circumstances and other elements are post-9/11. It's dangerous for both sides of the aisle to blur those lines (and I hope that I'm not doing that. If so, call me on it because I don't mean or want to, and I think I have spoken my mind plainly here).

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from my NATO gaffe (remind me to never play Trivial Pursuit against you), you came to the same end point that I did: What happens if a US-backed Kurdistan is attacked by a US-allied Turkey? Or vice versa?

And the only answer to that I can come up with is, 'Who has more oil?' if "teh present administration or its ideological heirs are in power" as you mentioned.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

"...ethnic fragmentation in the Iraqi military"

The military is only a year old, and it has barely cohesed, so fragmentation is not reallly necessary.

The constitution allows the Kurds and Shiites to have regional militias. I see nothing unconstitutional here. Let us use the Iraq military to train the militias, that is one of its federal purposes.

Posted by: Matt on December 29, 2005 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Define "a long time".

We stopped taking over land before we stopped buying land (like Alaska), but I want to say we lost our "let's get bigger" mentality before WWI. Am I wrong?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Me: Our goal in Iraq was to open that country to our oil companies.

indolene: I must have missed that one in this document:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021002-2.html

Well, if the Bush regime didn't say so publicly in a news release then I guess so. I'll certainly take their word for it...

Just because we didn't announce it doesn't mean it wasn't our goal to do it.

Posted by: Stefan on December 29, 2005 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

grape_crush,

now that's what I'm looking for.

Depends. Does Turkey enter the EU and/or NATO before or after they attack our hypothetical Kurdistan?

As cmdicely apparently hasn't gotten around to correcting the above... Turkey is currently a member of NATO.

I'd venture that if it's before, Turkey's case for membership would be severely crippled. If it is after, then...I guess it would have to depend on how well our hypothetical Kurdistan is backed by the US and the EU.

The EU is where it gets interesting. Anyone else care to chime in? Does the EU react negatively if Turkey acts aggressively to an Iraqi Kurdistan? (assuming of course one comes to pass, and assuming that the Iraqi Kurds continue in their material and logistical support of Turkish Kurds) If so, how? to what extent?

AND does not harbor or support Kurdish nationalist efforts (military or otherwise) in either of those countries, then no.

This seems highly unlikely. I believe most interested parties would posit that the Iraqi Kurds will harbor and support Kurdish nationalist efforts.

Posted by: Edo on December 29, 2005 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

indolene, does it really matter if it's "we didn't mean to" or "we didn't want to?" We are the aggressor in Iraq. They did not attack first, nor did we have sufficient reason to engage in a preemptive attack. Any parallels between, say, Germany or Japan of the late 1940s and Iraq of today are virtually non-existent, in terms of the countries themselves, the conditions in those countries, the people of those countries, the resistance to the occupation, and so on.

Thus far, you simply keep making assertions without stopping to think them through or back them up. If you insist that an occupied Germany of nearly 60 years ago is equivalent to an occupied Iraq of today, then tell us why you think this. And please come up with something more coherent than just that the U.S. was an occupying force in both cases. That is insufficient reason to engage in any predictions for the future of Iraq.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

D'oh. Apologies to all for the delayed post.

Posted by: Edo on December 29, 2005 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Matt wrote: "The constitution allows the Kurds and Shiites to have regional militias. I see nothing unconstitutional here."

The last time I checked, nobody was making the argument that this is unconstitutional. We are arguing that this is not good news for the long-term future of Iraq and we've stated why. If you disagree with that argument, then by all means let's hear the counter-argument.

"Let us use the Iraq military to train the militias, that is one of its federal purposes."

The problem, of course, is where the loyalties of the members of those militias lies. As the article notes, they are not loyal to an Iraqi central government, but are instead loyal to tribal, ethnic, and even religious leaders. What you are likely to end up with in that case is a set of fiefdoms and warlords, not the unified democracy that the Bush administration has insisted that it wants and that it insists will spread democracy throughout the Middle East.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: "What's equally annoying (and I'm not saying that you do this Stefan) is when people think that Iran, Iraq, and Al Quaeda are also as pure as the driven snow."

I don't know anyone who has claimed this. Do you? Or are you just making shit up?

"I admit that the US has done bad things to people in the past. I don't know anyone who has denied that. However, that doesn't make the US wrong for what it's doing now."

Another argument that nobody has made or is making.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB,
"...nor did we have sufficient reason to engage in a preemptive attack."

That's false. That's your opinion, not the facts. Again, read the link I posted above. Those were our reasons for going there, and our country used it's due process to come to that decision. I am sorry you disagree and that things didn' turn out like you wanted, but don't say we didn't have reason. Again, the US may not be pure as snow, but it's not pure evil either.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK
It's not "I didn't mean to" it's "I didn't want to". I'm a conservative/republican/whatever, and I am not for war. I suspect many more people than you think on the right side of the aisle are not in favor of war.

I suspect you have no idea how many people on the "right side of the aisle" I think "are not in favor of war".

But, perhaps, you and plenty of other grassroots conservative/republican/whatevers didn't want to be an aggressor. The people giving the orders to go to war did not accidentally engage in aggression (its arguable, perhaps, that many of the people authorizing them to give that order were merely negligently or recklessly, rather than intentionally, greenlighting aggression, but that's somewhat tangential, until they get around to holding accountable the intentional aggressors.)

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Touche, but we stopped taking land and growing the physical borders of our country a long time ago.
Define "a long time".

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Since 1898. That's the year Hawaii petitioned to join the US. That's when we took Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and other Pacific islands (Guam, etc)from Spain.

We let the Philippines go, Puerto Rico could go if it wanted to, they have a pretty sweet deal as a commonwealth and plebicites keep losing. I suspect the Pacific territories feel much the same.

Of course, I'm not including the Panama Canal Zone here which slightly post-dates this, but it's kind of neither fish nor fowl. We gave that back too.

Posted by: Campesino on December 29, 2005 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

""I admit that the US has done bad things to people in the past. I don't know anyone who has denied that. However, that doesn't make the US wrong for what it's doing now."

Another argument that nobody has made or is making."

Paul, you make the argument yourself when you say things like we didn't have reason to attack. If we didn't have reason to go in, but we did anyway, what does that make the US? It makes the US wrong for going in.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

We disagree on going into Iraq. I can argue with you about it if you'd like, but I think it's been done by you and I many times before (with other people), and we're not going to come to any conclusion other than that we disagree.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

The argument that no one was making is that the US is wrong for going in because it has done bad things in the past.

The argument that is being made is that the US was wrong for invading Iraq, because in doing so its leaders committed a crime against peace -- initiating a war of aggression, responding neither to an actual attack or imminent threat -- and a violation of the UN Charter, a stroke against the rule of law, and against fundamental morality. Past wrongs have nothing to do with that, except as illustration that its hardly the first evil that the US government has perpetrated.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

indolene on December 29, 2005 at 4:40 PM:

But the US uses many resources from many countries to bolster its economy, and vice versa. It's called trade.

You kinda missed my point. There's a difference between trade and using force to gain access to resources.

Try to imagine how much access to Iraqi oil the US would have with Hussein still in power...Then imagine what would happen to the value of the US dollar without Iraqi oil to back it up...THEN imagine how many more of those devalued dollars would be required to buy oil from OPEC as a primary supplier of oil.

We are not paying for everything we are getting...If oil companies actually are paying for the oil getting pumped (I've seen no information that confirms or denies this), then good. But while the US is involvement in Iraq doesn't fit the classical definition of colonialism, perhaps it is a form of economic colonialism. I feel that Stefan's earlier analogy still stands.

Regardless of whether or not we agree, it's nice that you're not antagonistic. Thanks for presenting another view, even if I think that it's flawed... :)

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: "Also, the Romans got taxes and just took resources from their occupied countries. There is no such actions by the US."

It's not that simple. Having the oil under the control of a US-sponsored and US-friendly government is definitely not the same thing as having it under the control of a US-hating dictator, so there very definitely was a substantial gain for the US in this respect. Moreover, the US unilaterally acted to remove all Iraqi trade and tariff restrictions, to allow 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi industries, to allow foreign investors to take 100% of the profits they made in Iraq out of the country without being taxed and without requiring that any of it be reinvested, to cut corporate taxes from 40% to 15%, to allow 40-year ownership licenses signed by U.S. companies while Iraq was under U.S. control, and so on. And that's just a selection of some really repugnant regulations that the U.S. governing authority inflicted on Iraq. And the U.S. made sure that as many of these reforms as possible would continue to stick by stacking every ministry with its own appointees and guaranteeing them five-year terms.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

"The argument that is being made is that the US was wrong for invading Iraq, because in doing so its leaders committed a crime against peace -- initiating a war of aggression, responding neither to an actual attack or imminent threat -- and a violation of the UN Charter, a stroke against the rule of law, and against fundamental morality. Past wrongs have nothing to do with that, except as illustration that its hardly the first evil that the US government has perpetrated."

A few things:
1)the US came about in oh, 1776-ish, the UN in oh, 1945-ish (the League of Nations). The UN authorizing a war or not doesn't make as much difference as you want it to. Remember the countries who said no to authorizing the UN to go to war were countries which are allied with Iraq and also ones that had a pretty sweet financial deal coming out of Oil-for-food. The US can act on its own regardless if the rest of the world agrees or not.
2)A crime against peace is rather dubious language because by the same token, can't gassing your own people and putting folks in woodchippers also be a crime against peace? Then wouldn't the US be good for stopping it? Which is worse?
3)There are plenty of people (and I suspect plenty on this thread) who think the US was wrong to go to Iraq.
4) I agree that "The argument that no one was making is that the US is wrong for going in because it has done bad things in the past." I'm saying that the argument is that the US is wrong for going in, period. Am I incorrect?

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Not that it matters that much, but the US has taken land and expanded its sovereign territory more recently than 1898, including during WWII.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: "Paul, you make the argument yourself when you say things like we didn't have reason to attack."

No, actually, I don't. The reason I say that we did not have reason to attack is that we did not have reason to attack, not because of any past actions of the U.S. You specifically claimed "[that the US has done bad things in the past] doesn't make the US wrong for what it's doing now." Nobody has made that argument, least of all me.

"If we didn't have reason to go in, but we did anyway, what does that make the US? It makes the US wrong for going in."

But not for anything that the US has done in the past, which is what you claimed is the argument that others are making.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Regardless of whether or not we agree, it's nice that you're not antagonistic. Thanks for presenting another view, even if I think that it's flawed... :)"

Grape,
No worries, I am trying to figure out your view, too : )

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Indolene,as a fellow and life-long Republican,I will say two things: invading Iraq was stupid,stupid,stupid.Rationalizing it doesn't mean it wasn't stupid then and it hasn't gotten any better. It's not a question of whether we were right or wrong, but Saddam was a toothless tiger internationally. Was it a surprise the US was able to defeat the army so easily? The stupidity was compounded by the complete lack of planning.
If you think we didn't do a loot of damage to the infrastruture than you need to read:
1)State Department weekly reports and quarterly reports to Congress
2)DoD monthly reports (re: ISF numbers,insurgents killed and captured, weapons caches etc.
3)USAID re: projects,completed underconstruction,etc.
4)Special Inspector General in Iraq (sigir.mil) quarterly reports to Congress re electricity,oil production,schools,water projects etc.
5)GAO reports (see 06-170-T,05-737 and 06-141)
Then you'll have some idea of where the infrastructure really is and why Baghdad after 33 months avrages only 5-7 hours of electricity a day and why oil production is still less than pre-war levels and why the ISF is averaging (in 05) 62 casualties a day. (a brigade a month or 10% of active duty personnel per year).

Posted by: TJM on December 29, 2005 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: "That's false."

No, actually, it's not. We did not have reason to attack. We know that now and the Bush administration knew that at the time.

"Again, read the link I posted above."

Citing a Bush administration propaganda document is not exactly evidence of, well, anything, really, particularly since most of the claims in that document are, frankly, bullshit. Did you have anything else to offer?

"don't say we didn't have reason."

Why shouldn't I state the truth? Saddam wasn't a threat and we had no reason to engage in a preemptive attack. We are definitely the aggressor in Iraq. Deal with it.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: "Again, the US may not be pure as snow, but it's not pure evil either.

And again, you are citing an argument that nobody is making. Nobody here, or anywhere else, has claimed that the U.S. is "pure evil." You'll do much better here when you actually engage what we do say rather than what we don't.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

But Paul,

You said yourself (and tried to reconcile it later) that all this happenes "while Iraq was under U.S. control". The US is giving the country back to Iraq. If it doesn't, I'll join you in being pissed off about it.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Edo on December 29, 2005 at 4:53 PM:

This seems highly unlikely. I believe most interested parties would posit that the Iraqi Kurds will harbor and support Kurdish nationalist efforts.

Agreed. I just didn't want to be all gloom and doom. If our hypothetical Kurdistan is to travel a less rocky road to Statehood, the Kurdish community across the Middle East is really gonna have to put a lid on nationalist activities outside our hypothetical Kurdistan...

...which strikes me as a bit unfair considering what the Kurd ethnic community has endured over the past century...they're kind of like the Native Americans of the Middle East...

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: "I'm saying that the argument is that the US is wrong for going in, period."

Unfortunately, that is not what you originally wrote. You need to keep your arguments straight. Yes, quite a few people, including the majority of people in the US, believe that we were wrong in invading Iraq. The cost is incalculable and the benefits are, at best, dubious, and the risk from Iraq was non-existent.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

indolene wrote: "You said yourself (and tried to reconcile it later) that all this happenes 'while Iraq was under U.S. control'. The US is giving the country back to Iraq."

Sigh... Look again at what I wrote, indolene. Theoretically, the U.S. has already given control back to Iraq, remember? It happened more than a year ago. But the U.S. set in place mechanisms that guaranteed that its "reforms" would remain in place well after Iraq had regained "control" of its own sovereignty.

"If it doesn't, I'll join you in being pissed off about it."

Start getting pissed because that is precisely what happened. The damage has been done, the U.S. has already taken what it wants, and your pretense that we didn't actually take anything from Iraq is simply false.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan wrote: Our goal in Iraq was to open that country to our oil companies [...] to get de facto (if not de jure) control of Iraq's oil industry. The fact that the plan hasn't worked doesn't mean it wasn't the plan all along.

While the plan to seize control of Iraq's oil has undoubtedly not gone as smoothly as the Cheney administration planned, it is not yet clear that "the plan hasn't worked":

Mission Accomplished: Big Oil's Occupation of Iraq
by Heather Wokusch
CommonDreams.org
December 3, 2005

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 29, 2005 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Paul, I am amazed that you call a senate resolution "US propaganda". By that token, democratic senators were in on it, too...

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK
the US came about in oh, 1776-ish, the UN in oh, 1945-ish (the League of Nations). The UN authorizing a war or not doesn't make as much difference as you want it to.

The League of Nations was foundedin 1919; the UN was formed in 1945. The UN Security Council authorizing the use of force does, in fact, make quite a bit of difference, since the UN Charter is a ratified treaty of the United States and obligates members to refrain from resort to war except in self-defence against an actual attack or when force is authorized by the UN Security Council to deal with a threat to international peace and security identified by that body. Further, it obligates members -- including the US -- to abide by binding resolutions by the Security Council, including that (for instance) violated by the US/UK/France-imposed no fly zones in Iraq.

Remember the countries who said no to authorizing the UN to go to war were countries which are allied with Iraq and also ones that had a pretty sweet financial deal coming out of Oil-for-food.

False, the countries who said no were an absolute majority of the Security Council, including many who had no such connections at all. Mexico, for instance -- a leading member of a faction opposed to the US-proposed resolution that negotiated an alternative with majority backing that the US refused to allow a vote on which would have provided for beefed up inspections and an ultimatum with a firm deadline with an associated authorization for force -- was neither an Iraqi ally, nor did it have any sweet oil-for-food deals.

The US can act on its own regardless if the rest of the world agrees or not.

The US can as it has the capacity; if it does so, without just cause and in contravention of its sworn agreements, it can hardly claim that it is right to do so.

A crime against peace is rather dubious language

I refer you to the Nuremberg Principles.

because by the same token, can't gassing your own people and putting folks in woodchippers also be a crime against peace?

No, though it might be, e.g., a part of genocide, or other crimes against humanity or war crimes, depending on the context.

Then wouldn't the US be good for stopping it?

If I had good reason to believe a serial rapist lived in a particular apartment building, reported it to the police, didn't like their plan for dealing with it and instead ran into the apartment building tossing hand grenades and shooting innocent residents both before and after killing the rapist, would I be good for stopping it?

Which is worse?

The question irrelevant. The US action is wrong notwithstanding the wrong Saddam did (which was done, after all, with the full support of the US for much of the time he was in power and, indeed, similar crimes committed by him when he was part of an earlier Iraqi regime were at the direct behest of the US government as they were directed at suspected Communists in Iraq; one reason that the Iraqi Communist Party was one of the strongest opponents of Saddam's regime.)

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB on December 29, 2005 at 5:13 PM:

Moreover, the US unilaterally acted...(eye opening stuff)...them five-year terms.

I had no idea. And thanks for the assist.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 29, 2005 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Paul I did read what you wrote and I still feel the same way, but please give me links to all the economic stipulations you wrote about because I need to read more before I can comment about this further.

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Just a small correction on the reference to the history of Hawai'i upthread:

"Hawai'i" did not petition to join the U.S. -- it was the cabal of wealthy sugar barons who had illegally overthrown the Hawaiian kingdom who petitioned for entry. Here's a tiny bit of history:

In the 19th century, Hawaii's importance was twofold the warm humid climate allowed vast sugar plantations to corner the market, and its location in the Pacific allowed friendly nations to maintain a naval advantage in the region. However, as Hawaii was a recognized sovereign nation under its own right (a sentiment echoed by the United States in 1826), American businessmen found themselves paying to import their goods to North America. A shadow organization called the Hawaiian League was set up by lawyer Lorrin Thurston with the goal of eliminating the tariffs which meant controlling the tiny kingdom.

Hawaiian king Kalakaua an elected monarch, not a hereditary ruler - was forced by this minority into signing what is known as the Bayonet Constitution (literally signed at gunpoint), which installed the League members to the Cabinet, affording them with all the power and forcing the king into a figurehead position. This group of 400 men then restricted the ability to vote to all but the wealthiest people on the islands, a limitation that coincidentally robbed practically all natives of the right of self-government.

Corporation owners decided that natives had no right to their own land and so they "hired" a warship and troops to overthrow the Hawaiians. They justified this as a "reform" of the monarchy and a way of "freeing" the natives -- who ended up living in abject poverty with their former lives and land and dignity stripped from them.

There are a number of parallels between the invasions of Iraq and Hawaiian: talk of "threats," illegal invasions, puppet provisional governments, and geostrategic importance. Not the least of these was just as the invasion of Iraq was dreamed up by oilmen and supported by men with military ambitions, the invasion of Hawai'i was dreamed up by sugar men (the oilmen of the time) and supported by men with military ambitions.

Posted by: Windhorse on December 29, 2005 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Not that it matters that much, but the US has taken land and expanded its sovereign territory more recently than 1898, including during WWII.


Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yes some but net reduction and increasing US territory hasn't been a big aim of any administration since then

Posted by: Campesino on December 29, 2005 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Alright, I need to get out and go eat dinner.

Cmdicely, I am going to have to gain a better knowlegde of international law before I talk with you again, but for now, we disagree : )

Paul, email me those links when you find them, because I want to learn more about Iraq's reconstruction.

Grape, peace out : )

Have a happy new year everyone

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK
There are a number of parallels between the invasions of Iraq and Hawaiian: talk of "threats," illegal invasions, puppet provisional governments, and geostrategic importance. Not the least of these was just as the invasion of Iraq was dreamed up by oilmen and supported by men with military ambitions, the invasion of Hawai'i was dreamed up by sugar men (the oilmen of the time) and supported by men with military ambitions.

Yeah, but see, we were so much nicer to the Iraqis because we didn't actually annex them.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 29, 2005 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB wrote:

"...nor did we have sufficient reason to engage in a preemptive attack" on Iraq.

indolene replied:

"That's false. That's your opinion, not the facts. Again, read the link I posted above. Those were our reasons for going there, and our country used it's due process to come to that decision."

You are wrong on both counts. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, no programs to develop weapons of mass destruction, no capacity to deliver such weapons against the USA even if they had existed, no operational links with terrorist groups that could have attacked the USA with Iraqi's nonexistent WMD even if they had existed, and no intent to attack the USA. There was no threat or danger whatsoever to the USA from Iraq, and absolutely no "self defense" basis for the USA to attack Iraq.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was and is an illegal war of unprovoked aggression for corrupt purposes of private financial gain for members of the Bush administration and their cronies and financial backers in the military-industrial-petroleum complex. It was and is a criminal enterprise through and through.

As to "due process", any "due process" that might have taken place in the lead up to the war was corrupted, undermined and thwarted by the Bush administration's deliberate, repeated, elaborate and sickening lies about what they knew at the time to be a nonexistent threat of "mushroom clouds" over American cities from nonexistent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The war in Iraq is a crime. It is wrong. And before you start getting on your patriotically pious high horse and all worked up that I'm saying that "America did wrong", I am not saying that. I am saying that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush are liars, thieves, and career criminal war profiteers who have betrayed America with their lies into a war that America should never have entered and never would have entered, except for the blatant and evil lies of the evil and un-American Bush administration.

Don't be a brainwashed idiot and identify the Bush administration with "America" and react to any criticism of Bush or Cheney as an attack on "America". They are a criminal gang that has taken over the Republican Party, used that platform to take over the Federal government, and is using the power of the government and the military to enrich themselves and their cronies. They have nothing whatever to do with anything that is good or admirable about America. They are the apotheosis of everything that is anti-American. They don't even have anything to do with anything that has traditionally been admirable, or at least respectable, about the Republican Party (e.g. a commitment to financial prudence and limited government).

Cheney and Bush are lying to you. They are stealing from you. Every time you defend them, they sneer at you as a gullible dumbass sucker.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 29, 2005 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, I came back for one last look. Do you all agree with Secular Animist?

I do not have a strong enough tinfoil hat to believe what you're saying Secular Animist. At this point in the national debate, we're at "traitor vs. nazi*", and I refuse to believe either of those.

*(or in Secular Animist's version, substitute 'super-criminal cabal' for 'nazi')

Posted by: indolene on December 29, 2005 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Galbraith (and others) may ultimately turn out to be correct about the dissolution of Iraq into multiple nation-states, whether that prospect comes about in the near term (which looks increasingly possible) or a generation from now (when the oil begins to run dry; the only good reason Iraq has to exist is the division of oil revenues).
The trouble of course with a near-term breakup of the country (and the best reason to oppose the war in the first place) was that it might become Iraqoslavia before breaking apart. The process of national consolidation was never complete in either country, and there are far more mixed, pluralistic enclaves (where the worst bloodletting took place in Yugoslavia) in Iraq.

Tito, who was half-Croat, half-Slovenian ruled a Yugoslavia where Serbians were the largest ethnic group. Saddam Hussein - a Sunni - ruled an Iraq where Shiites were/are the largest religious group. As Yugoslavia began to unravel the Serbs - who Tito considered "the cancer in the hills" (Tito had murdered more than 200,000 people [most of them Serbs] during the second world war, not to mention inviting into Kosovo [a traditionally Serbian territory] more than a million ethnic Albanians to displace the Serbian majority, and repeatedly lying to the Serbs) - were in many ways guilty of the worst ethnic cleansing and retribution, and it sure looks as though some Shiites (who were similiarly mistreated under Hussein) want to follow in their path.

It is not so difficult to imagine a scenario where Shiite on Sunni violence outpaces indiscriminate and targeted killings of Shiites by Sunni insurgents. Liberal hawk Thomas Friedman suggested in an op-ed not so long ago that if the Sunnis do not accept "democracy" (my quotes) in Iraq we should arm the Shiites and leave the country. Well, as a matter of fact we are arming the Shiites. They are the Iraqi army today. They have the keys to Saddam's helicopters and heavy munitions depots, as well as millions in new light arms provided by America. He with the bigger guns, and the bigger numbers, and the bigger grudges, can do considerable damage, especially with the backing of the world's last remaining superpower.

The biggest difference perhaps between Iraq and Yugoslavia (apart of course from culture, history, and everything else) is that it was the Serbian plurality who wanted to see the survival of the country (or at least a Serbian nation-state that included all the areas of the former Yugoslavia with Serbian populations), and the ethnic and religious minorities who wanted to see a loose confederation of republics. In Iraq, it is the Sunni minority who wants to preserve a strong central government, while the Shiite plurality appears to prefer a loose federation and the Kurds want to secede altogether. But these differences may not be enough to ensure that widespread ethnic cleansing doesn't take place, and that Iraq can even survive as a loose federation.

On the bright side, the dissolution of the country could - under the right leadership - actually be the biggest boon to the Sunnis. They would lose their oil wealth (the bulk of which is in the north and south), but oil and mineral wealth has tended to be more of a curse than a blessing in many places. Oil-rich countries have tended to be less free, less developed, and more corrupt than their resource-poor counterparts. In this outcome, if they managed to put aside their sense of grievance, and avoid becoming a theocracy or some other kind of authoritarian republic, the lack of resources could compel them to get their act together, tapping reserves of their own ingenuity (as successful resource-poor states have done), and cleaning up their government and economy to reach out for foreign aid and investment.

If Iraq does dissolve in the near term, it will speak not only to the folly of the neoconservatives (who understand little about the post-cold war world) but to the dated mindset of the Washington elite more generally. Since the end of the cold war, we have entered an age of weakening central governments, and eroding national borders, where the sub-national forces of fragmentation, and the trans-national forces of globalization will play an increasing role. Maps, like the nationalist politicians, will lie, and geographers, more than international relationists, will be better able to interpret and manage the new world disorder. Washington will need to clean house, and replace a good part of its state-centric fleet of analyists with nimble-minded postmodernists. We failed to understand Yugoslavia. We may fail to understand Iraq. We can't fail a third time.

Posted by: Blue Nomad on December 29, 2005 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me the Sunni question is wrapped up in the fact that while a minority in Iraq, the Sunni are the majority religious group in Islam. It seems to me that is why the interviews with Iraqi Sunis reflect dissatisfaction with the election results. How can the majority religious view be a minority in the government?
So far, the US has been targeted only by a small fraction of the populace and in only 4 of the 18 provinces. There is violence everywhere but the Iraqis vacation in Kurdish controlled territory. The US has to walk a very fine line in not alienating the majority of the country.
It's what Casey Stengel said about managing a baseball team: the trick is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who haven't made up their mind.

Posted by: TJM on December 29, 2005 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

indolene: I do not have a strong enough tinfoil hat to believe what you're saying Secular Animist.

It takes a super-strong tinfoil hat to ignore the Bush administration's blatant corruption and criminality. You really pretty much have to have your entire head covered in lead to ignore it.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 29, 2005 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

"If you disagree with that argument [militias are not in the long term interest of Iraq], then by all means let's hear the counter-argument."

I argue that in Lebanon, WWI and its aftermath, and in the history of the Middle East, militias are the natural outgrowth of clan, tribe and sectarian identities. It is a peculiar point of governance, and it will evolve on its own, it needs free some play.

My argument goes back to the break up of the Ottoman empire which created fake boundaries that have no relation to tribal identities. The dictatorships created are the result of trying to force a European nation model on the fairly adaptable Ottommon system. You need dictators when the boundaries do not correspond to national identity.

"It seems to me the Sunni question is wrapped up in the fact that while a minority in Iraq, the Sunni are the majority religious group in Islam."

Thanks TJM; and let me add that Jordan, Syria and Iraq are more influenced by cross border Sunni identity than fake national boundaries.

"Mr. Galbraith (and others) may ultimately turn out to be correct about the dissolution of Iraq into multiple nation-states"

See, the point is, there is only so much you can do from an artificial national boundary. The next step is a regional parliament of some kind, perhaps a permanent version of the Arab League reconciliation conference, a meeting place that transcends these national boundaries, a way for tribal leaders to step outside their national boundaries.

This reconcilation conference includes transnational groups and is continuing. The American foreign policy should now focus on this process (which it is, thanks to Rice), push the conference idea for more inclusiveness and representation. Make it permanent.

The Syrian border is a case in point. The problem is not that tribal militias cross this border, they should have some Arab right to do so, the problem is that most of them are pissed off at the Yanks. Enforcing this border just pisses them off more.

Separate the Yanks out of the equation, then use the reconciliation conference to establish some common sense rules to protect tribes who have to cross borders. You need less enforcement of national sovereignty, not more.


Posted by: Matt on December 29, 2005 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Nomad wrote: If Iraq does dissolve in the near term, it will speak not only to the folly of the neoconservatives ... but to the dated mindset of the Washington elite more generally ... Washington will need to clean house, and replace a good part of its state-centric fleet of analyists with nimble-minded postmodernists.We failed to understand Yugoslavia. We may fail to understand Iraq. We can't fail a third time.

Perhaps the fundamental failure is the idea that "Washington elites", whether they are neoconservatives with a "dated mindset" or "nimble-minded postmodernists", should be running the world to begin with.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 29, 2005 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

You need dictators when the boundaries do not correspond to national identity.

Posted by: Matt on December 29, 2005 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Really? Tell that to India. Or to French America when it merged in to the rest.

But at least you admit the core Democrat position is that the old dictatorship is preferable to democracy.

Posted by: McAristotle on December 29, 2005 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

By the way its not uncommon for new countries to make adjustments to who's in and who's out. It doesn't necessarily work badly, although short term violence is hard to avoid.

- Note Singapore's exit from Malaysia
- Note Pakistan's dplit from India

Posted by: McAristotle on December 29, 2005 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

McAristotle,
A couple problems with your examples. First, especially the India-Pakistan example, is that it emerged directly from British Colonial rule. This wasn't a "nation" held together by an internal strongman for decades like Iraq. It was an externally imposed colony that pulled together disparate ethnic and religious groups. It was sloppily split in 1947 along religious lines...though not too cleanly lest one side get the better of the other. More importantly, Pakistan and India fought a devastating war in 1971, and continue to fight over Kashmir. They nearly fought a nuclear war in 2002. I wouldn't cite the Pakistan-India split as not bad.

Posted by: Elrod on December 29, 2005 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

"See, the point is, there is only so much you can do from an artificial national boundary. The next step is a regional parliament of some kind, perhaps a permanent version of the Arab League reconciliation conference, a meeting place that transcends these national boundaries, a way for tribal leaders to step outside their national boundaries."

I think that's absolutely right for two reasons.

1) As I said, the process of national consolidation in Iraq and perhaps elsewhere in the Arab world was never complete, and the more "natural" state of the region at this moment is probably something like what existed during the Ottoman Empire, with weak central governance, open borders, and stronger local governance (not to mention economic localization serving as the primary buffer against the excesses of globalization, and the possibility of periodic regional and global systems disruption or collapse).

2) Relatedly, democratization in this historical context could in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world mean the dissolution of nation-states, and it may not be a pleasant process as ethnic, religious, and tribal forces jockey for power and resources. The worst-case scenario is perhaps a region-wide "civil" war lasting a generation, a kind of Lebanon or Yugoslavia writ large.

Posted by: Blue Nomad on December 30, 2005 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

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