Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 23, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BARRICADES....I remember years ago writing that I hoped Iraq didn't become the "West Bank writ large," but this isn't quite what I had in mind:

The U.S. military is walling off at least 10 of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods and using biometric technology to track some of their residents, creating what officers call "gated communities" in an attempt to carve out oases of safety in this war-ravaged city....The tactic is part of the two-month-old U.S. and Iraqi counterinsurgency plan to calm sectarian strife and is loosely modeled after efforts in cities such as Tall Afar and Fallujah, where the military says it has curbed violence by strictly controlling access.

....Wartime Baghdad has become a tableau of barricades as violence has swelled. Enterprising residents put them to use as free advertising space, blank canvases for graffiti and sunny spots for drying carpets.

But the blockading of Baghdad has reached full throttle under this year's security crackdown, with dozens of new neighborhood military outposts needing protection — and fast. The push has triggered a run on concrete barriers, which sometimes are not fully dry when military engineering units pick them up, said Capt. David Hudson, 30, who leads a company charged with building many of the city's blast walls. The unit now goes through as many as 2,000 barriers a week.

If Karin Brulliard's reporting is accurate, feelings are mixed about the barricades among Iraqis themselves. But apparently not so mixed that Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki hasn't decided to give in to complaints and demand a halt to at least one of the walls under construction.

Unfortunately, this is probably the key to the whole thing. Physical security is one thing, and obviously Maliki knew about and approved the barricade plan when it was first proposed. Politically, though, he can't stand up to pressure from the various factions in his government, so now he's changing his tune. It's a microcosm of the entire problem with Iraq. This is a political war more than a physical one, and that's the war we're losing. Eventually Republicans will figure that out.

Kevin Drum 12:34 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (118)

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Eventually Republicans will figure that out.

What makes you think so?

Posted by: craigie on April 23, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I am curious as to why the people who are protected by the barricades aren't for them. Case in point: the Sunnis who live surrounded by Shia. They have a long history ofcreating their own barricades with cars blocking streets, etc.

The barricades seem a no-brainer to me.

Posted by: Bob the Builder on April 23, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Eventually Republicans will figure that out."

It will happen in six months. They will turn the corner. Ignorance is in its last throes. The truth will be greeted as a liberator.

Posted by: reino on April 23, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

While the US Government is in the process of implementing apartheid in Baghdad and Mogadishu civilians are being murdered by the thousands, Americans sit in front of their televisions wondering if Sanjaya could make it all the way to a phony media-hyped career of no real substance or artistic success.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on April 23, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't a lack of understanding that keeps the Republicans supporting the war.

It's because it suits their political and economic agenda.

And since that isn't going to change anytime in the near future, their support isn't going to wane either.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 23, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

This is a political war more than a physical one, and that's the war we're losing.

Kevin, with all due respect, that is absurd. Were liberals complaining about how WWII was more of a political war when fighting the Nazis? Were liberals complaining about how WWII was more of a political war when fighting the Japanese? Of course not. In WWII, after America liberated Germany and Japan, we won the physical war, and then afterwards we won the political war by creating free and democratics states in Germany and Japan. Bush is doing the same thing in Iraq. I don't know why it's so hard to understand.

Posted by: Al on April 23, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Walls make good neighbors.

Besides, we can markup the cost per brick by at least 800%.

Posted by: CEO @ Halliburton on April 23, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's because it suits their political and economic agenda.

Bingo. The original purpose of the war was to give the GOP some kind of permanent advantage, on the grounds that this would allow them to label Dems traitors on every issue from spending to abortion. Yet - whoopsie! - they forgot the part about actually doing the war, and so now they find themselves about to become extinct themselves.

Competence - it's a bitch.

Posted by: craigie on April 23, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Eventually Republicans will figure that out.

I'd bet they've already figured it out. But they'll never admit it.

Posted by: bleh on April 23, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK
Physical security is one thing, and obviously Maliki knew about and approved the barricade plan when it was first proposed.

"Obviously", how?

Politically, though, he can't stand up to pressure from the various factions in his government, so now he's changing his tune.

Or, assuming he approved the details in the first place, maybe he's realized that his own political interests are in being seen to be opposed to the things the US is doing, so he's intentionally letting things get approved so he can target them later.

Or, maybe, the US just isn't informing him of the details, in the first place, thinking its better to ask forgiveness than permission.

It's a microcosm of the entire problem with Iraq. This is a political war more than a physical one, and that's the war we're losing.

All wars are, above all else, political.

Eventually Republicans will figure that out.

Most Republicans, in government, already have. Many of them publicly act otherwise because they are concerned with the effects on a different set of political struggles.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 23, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I am curious as to why the people who are protected by the barricades aren't for them. Case in point

Would you want to be walled in when the death squads came a callin'?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's a political war because it's not winnable in conventional military terms. Either there are fronts all over the place, or there are no fronts at all, depending on how you look at it, the enemy is vast, and they are inextricably interspered or even interchangeable with the people we are trying to help in Iraq.

That's what it means when someone says it's a political victory that has to be won, not a military one- the only hope of practical success comes through convincing people to put down their weapons by getting them to see fighting as not in their interest, regardless of intimidation.

Posted by: Swan on April 23, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Also, once you start building walls around ethnic minorities' enclaves, even well-intentioned walls like this one appears to be, bad things often start to happen behind them.

No good will come of this.

Posted by: anonymous on April 23, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Baby, Freedom is on the freakin' March!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on April 23, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Would you want to be walled in when the death squads came a callin'?

I hear you, but death squads sneak up on you anyway. As the article states, what was a regular flow of dead bodies is now "onesy-twosy". Lot harder to drive in or out bomb cars. Harder for next door's death squad to come visiting. They have to jump wall carrying less stuff or breing car and get caught coming out.

The biggest grief aired in the article was the fact that it would take travelers two hours to get to Baghdad because they would have to circle the compound. I guess they hate those long commutes in Baghdad too.

Posted by: Bob the Builder on April 23, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think the real story here is that either no one in the US Command remembered the history of the Warsaw Ghetto, or no one thought the Sunni knew that history, or that they did remember / did know that the Sunni knew the history but didn't think that the Sunni would see the applicability to being walled in. Any one of these three choices reflects badly on the US commanders.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on April 23, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Read today's news, Kev, not yesterday's. The wall ain't gonna happen. Maliki sez so.

Posted by: greggy on April 23, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

As an Iraq vet, I find this "strategy" to be reprehensible. "Gated communities" must take the cake for Euphemism of the Year. Whatever else one might think of gated communities, people choose to live in them in the US because of the perception of security or exclusivity or whatever. Iraqis are being walled in -- the Warsaw Ghetto comparison by Cranky Observer is far more apt here.

To me, the wall may well become THE symbol of American defeat. Unable to undermine the insurgency politically, unable to win Iraqi hearts and minds, unable to provide security, unable to protect even our own troops, all that is left is to create mini-garrisons throughout the city, control movement in and out, and call that "success."

Nauseating.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on April 23, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

disregard my comment. sorry.

Posted by: greggy on April 23, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Warsaw ghetto

That needs to be balanced with their knowledge of Somalia (poster child for failed states) and Beirut (poster child for city sectarianism).

Posted by: Bob the Builder on April 23, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. military is walling off at least 10 of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods and using biometric technology to track some of their residents, creating what officers call "gated communities"

"Gated communities"? Try ghettos.

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I remember writing a few years ago that the US implied strategy was to do to the Iraqis what the Israelis have done to the Palestinians: divide, impoverish, and prevent them from creating a civil society that can oppose the hegemony of the power imposed upon them.

Posted by: Brojo on April 23, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Gated communities"? Try ghettos.

Green zone is a ghetto?

Posted by: Bob the Builder on April 23, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK
I hear you, but death squads sneak up on you anyway.

Hence, why they throw up their own barricades, that they man. However, barricades manned by a force that is perceived as, at best, indifferent and at worst actively hostile are, unsurprisingly, less welcome.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 23, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

using biometric technology to track some of their residents

That wouldn't be yellow stars sewn onto their clothing by any chance, would it?

Posted by: Disputo on April 23, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: But apparently not so mixed that Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki hasn't decided to give in to complaints and demand a halt to at least one of the walls under construction.

So sayeth Maliki:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered the US military in Baghdad to stop construction of a controversial wall being built around the Sunni area of Adhamiya.

“I oppose the building of the wall and its construction will stop,” Mr al-Maliki told reporters in Cairo on Sunday during a joint news conference with the secretary-general of the Arab League. “There are other methods to protect neighborhoods, but I should point out that the goal was not to separate, but to protect.”

I thought I read some place that Iraq was a sovereign nation. Guess not. May as well get working on that flag for "The Christian Republican Commonwealth of New Mesopotamia."

Posted by: trex on April 23, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody is making a fortune supplying concrete. I wonder if it's Halliburton.

Posted by: c4logic on April 23, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

That wouldn't be yellow stars sewn onto their clothing by any chance, would it?

Don't be ridiculous. They're going to wear yellow crescents.

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

...the only hope of practical success comes through convincing people to put down their weapons by getting them to see fighting as not in their interest

Americans have difficulty seeing fighting is not in their best interest, and continue to send well armed soldiers to Iraq.

Posted by: Brojo on April 23, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Green zone is a ghetto?

See cmdicely's answer at 1:40 PM.

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

That wouldn't be yellow stars sewn onto their clothing by any chance, would it?

Fingerprints.

“I oppose the building of the wall and its construction will stop,” Mr al-Maliki told reporters in Cairo on Sunday during a joint news conference with the secretary-general of the Arab League.

Talk about sucking up to the audience, the Arab League of Sunnis. Oh...that wall? Just KIDDING...heh...besides...good intentions...want some tea?

Posted by: Bob the Builder on April 23, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell: I know that conservatives are congenitally unable to deal with cognitive dissonance, but riddle me this -- is it not within the realm of possibility that Reid is correct? I know you still wank to the vision of a ticker-tape parade down Sadoun Street with W triumphantly riding through the gates of Baghdad on a white charger, but the bottom line is that your boy blew it. But this is what you get when you elect a party that doesn't believe in governing to govern. Now go away and let the grownups talk.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on April 23, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Who is actually building these walls? Some 'contractor'?

Posted by: cld on April 23, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell at 1:33, that's great, but what's going to happen when the troops are out of there? Liberals are saying that there is so much opposition and it is so determined that when we leave Iraq, it's going to get bad no matter how long it is from now that we leave, and that the improvements that groups of soldiers and Marines win are temporary.

What about all the people (the U.S. military / security people, and the private contractors) who say the surge is not working? Your Drudge has one report from one guy who has one heartwarming story about one thing he did. His finding that one big target doesn't prove that Iraq is winnable.

Posted by: Swan on April 23, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

This is a political war more than a physical one, and that's the war we're losing. Eventually Republicans will figure that out.

That's exactly the problem. This whole 'War on Terror' is a political war. It always has been, and it will be for as long as it takes Repubs to realize this. Unfortunately, at this rate, it's difficult to say when, or even IF they'll ever figure this out.

Posted by: Kryptik on April 23, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I am curious as to why the people who are protected by the barricades aren't for them. Case in point: the Sunnis who live surrounded by Shia. They have a long history ofcreating their own barricades with cars blocking streets, etc.

The barricades seem a no-brainer to me.

On one hand yes, as long as they are accompanied by a disinterested protective force that is capable of responding to serious pressure. But if not, then you can end up in a situation where the residents are trapped--people have already mentioned the Warsaw Ghetto. I would also mention Sabra, Shatila, and Srebernica. Whether it is a "ghetto," a "camp," or a "safe area," these kind of things can be deadly traps, guaranteeing that when they come, there will be no escaping.

Posted by: RWB on April 23, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush will be remembered for his geostrategic genius and this wall is the perfect example. Also the wall sealing off Palestine is another perfect example. And the wall sealing off Mexico from the USA is another perfect example. George W. Bush is a genius at building walls to seal off backwards people from the rest of us so we can watch Fox News on giant plasma TVs in peace and quiet. Bush is the Ronald Reagan of our time in his unparalleled genius. Unlike Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and those stupid Europeans with their Kyoto. This is what all conservatives think and it doesn't matter what anyone else in the world thinks, especially Europeans and Democrats. The only thing that matters is what the great Rush Limbaugh thinks, and the rest of us conservatives think the same thing, whatever it is.

Posted by: Ardie Dubya on April 23, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Bantustan in Iraq!

And even rational moderates like Kevin still think that we have a war to be won, never mind what kind.

When the history of this fiasco is written, the moderates should be held more responsible for this misadventure and the consequent loss of lives of thousands. For it's the nature of the conservatives to want to go and kill the brownies. Unfortunately, the moderates agreed with the warmongers in this instance, and gave their blessing for the conduct of this war, silently and otherwise.

Posted by: gregor on April 23, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

hemlock for gadflies:

thank you.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 23, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

orwell,

if things are going so swimmingly in iraq, why are we having this conversation four years after "mission accomplished"?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 23, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

For it's the nature of the conservatives to want to go and kill the brownies.

Actually it's been the nature of conservatives to sit back and let the brownies kill each other while buying oil from the least crummy of the two (see Buchanan, P.) Neoconservatives hijacked the conservative movement...bet that wont happen again for a while.

Posted by: Bob the Builder on April 23, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Two words: Strategic Hamlets

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell on April 23, 2007 at 1:33 PM:

How about a posting from someone who is actually there...

You sure about that, Orwell?

Oh, that's right, Drudge never gets anything right does he?

Not in this case; I tried to access the site Drudge referenced (patdollard.com) and got a 'Page Unavailable' message. Then I tried teh Google, and got a link to a veteransforamerica.org site, which for some reason has www.patdollard.com on one of its title pages. I then Googled "Corporal Tyler Rock", and got a listing for the patdollard.com site, and another 'Page Unavailable" message.

Too much traffic crashing the server or complete bullshit?

He is just posting a lie to help the administration.

Probably. Dollard's a head case:

..Somehow he (Dollard) got embedded with a group of Marines, who gave him an affectionate nickname, unprintable here. One day while the Marines were on patrol in a town called Musayyib, Dollard encountered an Iraqi selling whiskey. He bought three bottles, got crazy drunk and ripped a sign off a mosque, which angered the locals and sparked a gunfight. On another occasion, according to Dollard and several Marines, he walked into a pharmacy, showed the owner his gun and stole a cache of drugs, including liquid Valium, which he shared with some of the Marines.
In March 2005, Dollard returned to Los Angeles and began editing his 243 hours of videotape into a movie called "Young Americans." He also announced that he was starting his own anti-jihadi movement.
"I'm a warrior, dude," he told Wright. "My role is to fight the battle against Islamic fundamentalist Fascism."
Alas, his progress as both warrior and filmmaker stalled when he went on another epic booze-and-dope binge. When he got out of rehab, he hired an ex-con to keep him sober but the two of them ended up smoking meth and making a porn movie starring Dollard and the ex-con's girlfriend.

You should be able to see why I'm a bit skeptical about the letter you referenced, Orwell. Then again, you probably won't.

Posted by: grape_grush on April 23, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin says that not building tse barricades is bad news. OTOH if Maliki had allowed the barracades to be built, no doubt Kevin would have also found that to be bad news. Several comments here show how that could be done: comparisons to Nazis, etc.

Conclusions: all Iraq news is bad. Anything that happens is evidence confirming the hopelessness of our goals.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 23, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Maliki knew about and approved the barricade plan when it was first proposed. Politically, though, he can't stand up to pressure from the various factions in his government, so now he's changing his tune. It's a microcosm of the entire problem with Iraq.

Now you are objecting that the elected prime minister is listening to the elected representatives of his constituents? That isn't the microcosm of the entire problem. The entire problem is mostly the al Qaeda and secondarily (now) the mistrustful militias. Once the government demonstrates that it responds to publicly voiced complaints and recommendations, it will have more credibility.

Posted by: spider on April 23, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

They will turn the corner.

There are many corners up a long, steep and winding road. That's pretty much a path that democracies have to follow. Straight paths downhill mostly go to hell.

Posted by: spider on April 23, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Gated communities? This reminds me of some of the stories from "Emerald City". We still think the Iraqis at heart are just Americans who really think like upper middle-class Republicans. So we solve their crime "problem" with gated communities.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 23, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK
...Conclusions: all Iraq news is bad. Anything that happens is evidence confirming the hopelessness of our goals. ex-lax at 2:24 PM
That is pretty much the case. Start a war based on lies, fight it based on ignorance, and maintain it based on self-deception and you have Bush's Iraq war fiasco. Posted by: Mike on April 23, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

orwell: A bomb went off! Harry Ried tells us the war is lost! Run for the hills! They wouldn't dare follow us to our own country! Please protect us Cheryl Crow, cover us with your 1 square of toilet paper!


hows that working for ya?

Among all Americans, 33% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 62% disapprove according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. - 4/23/07

oh right...

Posted by: mr. irony on April 23, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin says that not building tse barricades is bad news. OTOH if Maliki had allowed the barracades to be built, no doubt Kevin would have also found that to be bad news.

That is the logic my three year old granddaughter uses.

Opposing the barricades is common sense. It is a strategy with a track-record of failure. As repeating an action and expecting different results is a hallmark of insanity. So I have to ask...are you insane?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: Conclusions: all Iraq news is bad. Anything that happens is evidence confirming the hopelessness of our goals.

That just shows how much of a fucked-up situation your boy Bush and you neocon fools got us into, "ex-liberal."

Oh, and by the way, you dishonest twit, if the US military had never proposed building the wall in the first place, there would have been no bad news -- at least in this case. But you're quite right -- once publicly airing such a bad idea was done, neither building it nor not building it could be construed as good news. The damage was done.

But you know that, and post in bad faith anyway. One wonders what motivates you to do so.

Posted by: Gregory on April 23, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Opposing the barricades is common sense. It is a strategy with a track-record of failure.

Not true. As Mr. Dicely said, it depends on how they are manned. They work in the Green Zone, obviously. How about the neighborhoods? As acknowledged, the neighborhoods do their own barricading already, so barricades as a general idea cant be dismissed. In the article they've been successful in reducing deaths in town, and as the article notes, "Tips from residents have skyrocketed, leading the troops to weapons caches and wanted men."

[This handle is a sock-puppet for Red State Mike]

Posted by: Bob the Builder on April 23, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

We are perfecting Big Brother "over there" so we can apply it later "over here".

Posted by: notthere on April 23, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, they're blast barricades, which means that they can help save lives (by catching debris, bombs, bullets). It may balkanize the neighborhoods...

...But right now maybe that's what they need. Safe places to go. Our troops won't be there next year and we need to leave all the tools we can - be it buildings, walls, etc - so they can survive those who wish for the fighting to continue.

Anything that makes the agitators' (Sunni, Shia, Kurd, Turk, and of course Insurgent...) work more difficult is probably a good thing.

Posted by: Crissa on April 23, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Just a reminder.

You can't be "at war" with the population of a country that you are occupying power of.

Period.

Posted by: notthere on April 23, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.): Would you want to be walled in when the death squads came a callin'?

As I understand it, the walls are surrounding Sunnis mostly to keep them from taking bombs to the Shia areas, so it's more to keep one group in than to keep the other group out, and it's mostly the ones with the bombs who are objecting. Maliki didn't object until yesterday.

Bob the Builder: Green zone is a ghetto?

No, because a ghetto is a place to keep people in, not to keep people out. The Sunni neighborhoods we are walling in are ghettos.

Posted by: anandine on April 23, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

There are many more neighborhoods being walled off. We are hearing about one of them.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Actually the US Army is not referring to them as blast barricades.

But then again, they gave as a reason for buidling a 12 foot wall that it was to protect the neigborhood from retaliatory Shia mortar attacks.

Now there's an army spokesman who knows his weaponry. Or presumes that anybody outside the army doesn't.

So, when you give false reasons you have to wonder what the real ones are.

Sort of like the US Attorneys' firings. Or Cheney, or Bush whenever they open their mouths.

Posted by: notthere on April 23, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

At least they are not calling the wall a "security fence"....

Posted by: Disputo on April 23, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo:

"We will continue to construct the security barriers in the Azamiyah neighborhood. This is a technical issue," Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said. "Setting up barriers is one thing and building barriers is another. These are moveable barriers that can be removed."

My italics. From my link above, 3:19 pm.

Posted by: notthere on April 23, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

At least they are not calling the wall a "fence"...?

Posted by: Disputo on April 23, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK
[This handle is a sock-puppet for Red State Mike]

Dear moderator,

Its fairly easy to have comment registration and thus accountable handles. If you want accountable handles, please implement them.

Selectively editing posts to suggest who might be a sockpuppet without providing the basis of that suggestion is worse than useless.


Posted by: cmdicely on April 23, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky Observer: I think the real story here is that either no one in the US Command remembered the history of the Warsaw Ghetto,

I believe you mean the Warsaw Gated Community.

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

You can't be "at war" with the population of a country that you are occupying power of.

Why not? The Russians, for example, were occupying Afghanistan in the 1980s and yet were certainly at war with the Afghan people.

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

But then again, they gave as a reason for buidling a 12 foot wall that it was to protect the neigborhood from retaliatory Shia mortar attacks.

Now THAT'S funny.

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

"These are moveable barriers that can be removed."

Maybe they got the same Army Corps group that built the security barriers in NO's 9th ward on the job here.

Posted by: Disputo on April 23, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Eventually Republicans will figure that out."

Don't they (read: the American Empire) create their own reality?

Posted by: k on April 23, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Marler: "The entire problem is mostly the al Qaeda...."

Please provide your basis for making this broad, unsupported assertion so that it can refuted with actual facts and figures in a definitive way that you will understand.

Posted by: trex on April 23, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Because, Stefan, there are very explicit levels of law and responsibility that apply to you as the occupying power. The first of these is to supply a level of security and legal process to the people.

Something the US clearly decided it was not their obligation to provide. And that was back in April 2003.

Hence the mess ever since, and the application of false assumptions, the primary one being that we are "at war" and it can be won. It's the politics that have to be sorted. But that is way too complicated and messy for the intellectuals we have in the White House.

Oh, and Afghanistan worked out swimmingly for the Russians, didn't it.

Posted by: notthere on April 23, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Because, Stefan, there are very explicit levels of law and responsibility that apply to you as the occupying power. The first of these is to supply a level of security and legal process to the people.

Well, yes, de jure we have these responsibilties.

De facto, however, we are certainly at war in Iraq. Not with Iraq or the Iraqi people as a whole, but with very large segments of the Iraqi population who are doing their best to push us out of their country.

Remember, when the Bush regime says that we're "at war" they're not claiming that we're at war with Iraq -- quite the opposite, they always go out of the way to claim that Iraq is an ally. They claim, instead, that we're "at war" with...well, they're never quite clear about this, but it's generally a vague shadowy collection of evil-doers.

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, it may seem like I'm being overly semantic, but because you use the army and deadly force does not remove it from actually being a policing operation, and I rather feel its characterization as "war" beggars all the wrong assumptions and behaviors. People are looking to win or lose this "war" when the solution is not military.

What level of civil violence defines a win?

I can certainly agree with you as to what the delusional Bush administration thinks it sees as the cataclysmic struggle of their "good" over the others' "evil", who ever and where ever they might be.

Posted by: notthere on April 23, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

I have often told my non-American Indian friends that Iraq and specifically the green zone reminded me of the days this land was invaded. The White Man built forts to avoid contact with the native peoples. Today they have to build their forts with concrete because the enemy is using something a bit more deadly than bows and arrows. Give the land back to the people and let them deal with their own problems. They might surprise you and work out the problems better than Americans (especially these incompetent conservatives) could do.

Posted by: Mazurka on April 23, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, it may seem like I'm being overly semantic, but because you use the army and deadly force does not remove it from actually being a policing operation,

Actually, it kind of does, at least at the levels of violence we're encountering in Iraq. We're seeing large-unit multi-day pitched battles involving hundreds of combatants. That's war no matter how you slice it.

and I rather feel its characterization as "war" beggars all the wrong assumptions and behaviors. People are looking to win or lose this "war" when the solution is not military.

Again, the fact that the solution is not purely military doesn't mean it's not a war. The ultimate end goal of all wars is political, after all -- in Clausewitz's famous formulation war is merely the continuation of politics by other means. The Vietnam War, for example, was ended for the US through political and not military means -- does that mean it wasn't actually a war? These terms are not mutually contradictory -- it can be a war and yet at the same time be incapable of being won militarily.

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.): Opposing the barricades is common sense. It is a strategy with a track-record of failure. As repeating an action and expecting different results is a hallmark of insanity. So I have to ask...are you insane?

Blue Girl, I think your post substantially agrees with mine. My point was not in favor of or against the barriers. It was to complain that anything that happens is being regarded here as bad news.

You say opposing the barriers is common sense. It follows that deciding not to build them should good news. Based on your post, this item is good news being portrayed as bad news.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 23, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK
It was to complain that anything that happens is being regarded here as bad news.

Have you considered that that is because everything that happens is, genuinely, bad news?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 23, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

[This handle is a sock-puppet for Red State Mike]

What happened to Ali Blahblah?

Oh, yeah, he hilariously and inadvertently outed himself by responding to a post addressed to Ali B. under his RSM handle....

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

"...The ultimate end goal of all wars is political...."

Agreed. But the aim of this campaign is to bring sufficient peace and security to a limited area, Bagdad and environs to allow progress on the political front. i.e. to reestablish civil order.

Sure sounds more like policing to me. And if violence dropped right off to a hundredth of what it has been, say 30 killed a month, would that be a war won?

I don't believe the British ever called their operations against the IRA "war". And rightly so. And they made the decision to constrain their troops in ways more appllicable to a civil situation than anything close to war.

The same applies to the US Army and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan with rules of engagement and escalation. Not much like a war.

To call this being at war in Iraq mischaracterizes what is going on.

Posted by: notthere on April 23, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Mike - one thread up, you get your very own post and thread! Sockpuppets unite!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Build a 20-foot high wall, and some Iraqi (Mexican /Palestinian/ Canadian/ Fill-in-the-blankistanian) entrepreneur is going to get rich selling 21-foot high ladders.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on April 23, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK


Marler: "The entire problem is mostly the al Qaeda...."


"The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists. The rejectionists are by far the largest group." - President Bush 11/30/05

Posted by: mr. irony on April 23, 2007 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Mike - one thread up, you get your very own post and thread! Sockpuppets unite!

If I was a sockpuppet, I'd be touting the virtues of RSM (of which there are very, very many, I am compelled to point out). Instead, I'm just a bored worker who wants to "sport argue" while his code compiles and doesn't feel like lugging around the baggage of any other previous handle.

Posted by: Bob the Red Builder on April 23, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Curse you al Maliki, for not giving the plan a chance:
"The effect of these sequential steps to pacification was to make it very difficult to make intermediate assessments of progress. One could not really be sure how one was doing until one was done. Physical security by itself (the so-called "clear and hold") was a necessary condition for pacification, not a sufficient one."
and,
"This inherent difficulty in assessing progress did not simply mean that it was difficult to identify problems and to make improvements as one went along--which it was. It also meant that it was quite possible to conclude that the program as a whole was progressing well (or badly) according to evidence relating only to a single phase or a part of a phase."
and,
"The early demise of the program does not permit a conclusive evaluation."
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pentagon2/pent4.htm

Posted by: TJM on April 23, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

RSM: So you want to have the advantage of knowing your opponents arguments and concealing your own "baggage" that would level the playing field.

Nice, that.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal,

Well, it is possible for two different outcomes to be bad for two different reasons. In this case, we have a bad idea that the US military tried to implement. They weren't able to implement it, which is sort of good news, except for the fact that the reason they weren't able to implement it was basically their (and the Iraqi government's) own powerlessness and lack of even basic control of the situation.

So I guess you could say at best that it's a good news, bad news kind of thing.

"The good news is that you didn't walk into a manhole just then....the bad news is that you couldn't walk to the manhole to begin with...."

Posted by: kokblok on April 23, 2007 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just a bored worker who wants to "sport argue"

Excellent! I myself am just a bored emperor who likes to "sport fiddle!" Sometimes it's hard to concentrate for all the screams of the dying but a disciplined mind is able to tune it out.

I suppose the same is probably true of sport arguing.

I say, why bother taking all of this dreadful business to heart anyway?

Posted by: Nero on April 23, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bob the Builder--

The wall is an incredibly stupid idea, mostly because it would have territorialized ethnic identity in Baghdad for years and years into the future, ensuring that only Sunnis live in Sunni areas and only Shia live in Shia areas.

In the short term, this would have made it much easier for sectarian militias to target their enemies. Just look for anyone coming out of the gates of such a gated city and bomb by the gate [which would be the site of long traffic jams], or better yet, just hurl in mortars indiscriminately. It is incredibly, incredibly stupid even from a purely tactical standpoint.

More chillingly, in the long term, the creation of such "ghettos" (for this is essentially what they are) would make it nice and quick were a Shi'ite majority ever to consider a more serious form of sectarian cleansing.....

Posted by: kokblok on April 23, 2007 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kokblok: Something like this?

(An aside to Brojo - I know from ethnic guilt.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

RSM: So you want to have the advantage of knowing your opponents arguments and concealing your own "baggage" that would level the playing field.

What playing field? What competition? What "baggage"? Can't the ideas stand on their own?

I like chewing on ideas, arguing both sides. I enjoy jousting with many of the people here, and agree a lot more than I let on (agreeing is boring) but the whole "You're RSM, therefore you automatically believe the following 25 things" gets tiresome and it's stupid.

Try it some time. Use a different name. State your exact same ideas. See how you're treated differently. You'll understand then the biases pro and con that are automatically applied to you when you post as the well-known BGRS. It's illuminating.

Posted by: Red Building Bob on April 23, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

You brought up baggage, I did not.

And it's a chickenshit maneuver. That is my opinion. But then, I'm still acknowledging my previous handle in my *new* one.

You know, having nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by, I just don't feel the need to hide behind yet another pseudonym. (Well there was the time I suggested parting egbert out like a dead Chevy...)

I make my arguments, have a clue what I'm talking about, and pretty much stick to the rules of civil debate, occasionally dropping that and pummeling the piss out of someone who desperately needs it, but pretty much making arguments that stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I spotted you as Nappy Heddy, and as Ali B, and I'm the one who emailed MsN that I suspected you were the Czarina. I can spot a phony, and other people can too.

Just sayin.



Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

I have to go read term paper rough drafts. Carry on, whoever you are.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Try it some time. Use a different name. State your exact same ideas. See how you're treated differently. You'll understand then the biases pro and con that are automatically applied to you when you post as the well-known BGRS. It's illuminating.

Mark of a coward, sir. Mark of a coward.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 23, 2007 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

History is replete with examples of walls being no barrier to either invasion or keeping out people you don't want around. Google "Maginot Line" for a meaningful example.

Penning people up like cattle solves nothing and only breeds hatred. We should be building bridges not walls.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 23, 2007 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ali Blahblah!!!

I like that.

Can I use it?

[Why not? You've used everything else. ; ) ]

Posted by: anon on April 23, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

We should be building bridges not walls.

There are a couple I can think of that are in need of rebuilding, as a matter of fact.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

I make my arguments, have a clue what I'm talking about, and pretty much stick to the rules of civil debate...

Yes you do. You also post at sites where you can be surrounded by like-thinking people, where you're always on the home team. Not so much challenge in that.

I see now that this site is the toy of the moderator, and anyone who disagrees with central party line gets their posts modified or written over. You dissent at their pleasure and to their limits. Impressive.

Posted by: Red Building Bob on April 24, 2007 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

Agreed. But the aim of this campaign is to bring sufficient peace and security to a limited area, Bagdad and environs to allow progress on the political front. i.e. to reestablish civil order. Sure sounds more like policing to me.

No, that sounds more like war. Policing isn't generally done with artillery barrages and helicopter gunship attacks and tanks.

I don't believe the British ever called their operations against the IRA "war".

That was because that occurred within the borders of the United Kingdom, within their own country. It's not at all like the situation we have in Iraq, where we've invaded a sovereign nation. Moreover, the level of combat they had wasn't nearly at the level that we see in Iraq. The IRA didn't conduct massed-troop formation combat against the British Army.

And rightly so. And they made the decision to constrain their troops in ways more appllicable to a civil situation than anything close to war.

Again, that was because they were operating inside the United Kingdom, in a domestic context, and the people they were acting against were still British crown subjects. It was a civil situation in a way that our presence in Iraq is not.

The same applies to the US Army and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan with rules of engagement and escalation. Not much like a war.

It's very much like a war. Just look at the pictures on the television.

To call this being at war in Iraq mischaracterizes what is going on.

No, it's a completely accurate statement. We are at war in -- though not with --- Iraq.


Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

But the aim of this campaign is to bring sufficient peace and security to a limited area, Bagdad and environs to allow progress on the political front. i.e. to reestablish civil order.

Actually, I thought the aim of this campaign was to buy more time so that Bush can run out the clock on the Iraq War and hand the mess over to his successor, thereby (in his mind) allowing him not to have to admit defeat.

Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: What playing field? What competition? What "baggage"? Can't the ideas stand on their own?

Well, there's the "baggage" that you called Arabs "ragheads." A bit hard to let the ideas stand on their own when you've exposed yourself as a bigot.

Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

I also post on my own sites and allow comments. i have been mauled by munchkins and set upon by both sides on the gun control issue. To say I stay in a comfort zone is patently dishonest and you know it.

I made one comment at LGF, it was deleted and I was banned, so don't spout that bullshit about taking my arguments elsewhere. If you were intellectually honest - hell, if you were just honest - you wouldn't make bullshit assertions like that.

You shit in your own mess-kit and now you want another bite at the apple. You can piss and moan all you want, but it will garner you no sympathy.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 24, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

"We're seeing large-unit multi-day pitched battles involving hundreds of combatants. That's war no matter how you slice it."
_______________________

Stefan's throwing the bullshit, now.

Posted by: trashhauler on April 24, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan's throwing the bullshit, now.

Perhaps you've forgotten the second battle of Fallujah, which the US Army itself called "the heaviest urban combat since the battle of Hue City in Vietnam," to offer only one example? A November 18, 2004 Department of Defense report claimed that as many as 1,200 insurgents were killed and about 1,000 were captured during the month-long battle, which certainly seems like a large-unit multi-day pitched battle to me.

Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

"History is replete with examples of walls being no barrier to either invasion or keeping out people you don't want around. Google "Maginot Line" for a meaningful example."
_________________

Yes, history shows that the Germans had to go around the Maginot Line. And, when Patton's Third Army attacked the retreating Germans in the Metz fortifications, it took weeks to break through, even though the defenses weren't built to defend against an attack from the west.

The French mistake was not continuing the line all the way to the Channel. Doubtless, well meaning politicians didn't want to give the Dutch and Belgians the idea they were on their own.

Posted by: trashhauler on April 24, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps you've forgotten the second battle of Fallujah

And let's not forget the more recent battle near Najaf against an alleged "cult," which now turns out was likely to have been a very carefully orchestrated massacre in which U.S. forces were duped into wiping out a rival Shi'ite group:

BAGHDAD, Jan. 29 — The gunmen who battled Iraqi and American forces near Najaf on Sunday were members of a Shiite cult that planned to storm the city during a religious festival and kill the nation’s top Shiite clerics, Iraqi officials said today.

American and Iraqi forces battled militants for 15 hours near Najaf.
About 200 members of the group, which called itself “Soldiers From Heaven,” died in the fighting, which lasted until about 4 a.m. today. Iraqi officials said that 60 others were wounded and as many as 120 were captured.

Posted by: trex on April 24, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, perhaps it was the "we are seeing" beginning of your sentence that was the bullshit part. One might as well include the battles of Marathon and Stalingrad, as much as a battle two years ago illustrates the current nature of the war.

While we almost certainly will see some additional battles involving units of greater than company strength, they are far more likely to be between various militia and the Iraqi Army, a la Najaf, involving US forces only in a supportive role.

One might only wish for more such battles as Fallujah, of course, since they are great opportunities to kill the enemy in job lots. Alas, the enemy is rather resigned to the fact that they cannot push us out through coup de main. Hence, their overwhelming reliance on IEDs, snipers, and suicide bombers against civilians. Now admittedly, those are not exactly the weapons of any group that is winning, but what the hell, claiming they are winning fits the "all is lost" narrative better, doesn't it?

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 24, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Now admittedly, those are not exactly the weapons of any group that is winning, but what the hell, claiming they are winning fits the "all is lost" narrative better, doesn't it?

Increasing the number and severity of attacks and casualties by orders of magnitude over a four year period while preventing reconstruction and fomenting sectarian violence is the definition of winning.

Posted by: trex on April 24, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, there is no one "enemy," there are only various groups whose aims are not aligned with those of the Bush administration.

These include Sunni, Shia, various government factions, and members of the Iraqi security forces.

If your analysis does not recognize that then you are ultimately leading more troops to slaughter for nothing more than political pique.

Posted by: trex on April 24, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Increasing the number and severity of attacks and casualties by orders of magnitude over a four year period while preventing reconstruction and fomenting sectarian violence is the definition of winning."
_____________________

Only if it eventually attains their political objective, trex. To say that increasing the violence is equal to winning is to equate effort with results, a fault common enough to both sides in any war.

In this case, it can be argued that the opposition cannot "win," since, even if we withdraw our combat troops, the next Administration can no more afford to let Iraq become a haven for Al Qaeda than the current one can. Nor can the Sunnis regain control of the country any longer, though they can make their opposition amply noticed. The next Administration will almost certainly support the current Iraqi government as much as the Bush Administration has. Perhaps the group in greatest danger in the event of our withdrawal will be the Sunnis, particularly in Bagdad.

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 24, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

One might as well include the battles of Marathon and Stalingrad, as much as a battle two years ago illustrates the current nature of the war.

What? A battle 2,300 years ago is as relevant as a battle 2 years ago in the same war? This is so silly it hardly deserves refutation.

One might only wish for more such battles as Fallujah, of course, since they are great opportunities to kill the enemy in job lots.

Also a good opportunity to destroy an entire city, the city we were supposedly trying to save from that enemy, and thereby turn an entire civilian population against us.

Alas, the enemy is rather resigned to the fact that they cannot push us out through coup de main.

No one ever expected they could. But whack that strawman! Whack him good!

Hence, their overwhelming reliance on IEDs, snipers, and suicide bombers against civilians.

Uh, yes. Perhaps you're familiar with a concept called guerilla warfare? That's generally how an outgunned rebellion resists an foreign occupier. See, e.g., the Italian, Polish, Soviet and Yugoslav partisans in WWII, the Dutch, French and Norwegian Resistance, the Viet Cong, the Algerian FLM, the Chechens, etc.

Now admittedly, those are not exactly the weapons of any group that is winning, but what the hell, claiming they are winning fits the "all is lost" narrative better, doesn't it?

Um, sure they are. Suicide bombers aside, those were the exactly the weapons the mujahedeen used to win against the Soviets.

Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

In this case, it can be argued that the opposition cannot "win," since, even if we withdraw our combat troops, the next Administration can no more afford to let Iraq become a haven for Al Qaeda than the current one can.

Nor can the next Administration afford to let Iraq become a haven for the diabolical Mole People. That's equally as likely as al Qaeda taking over.

Nor can the Sunnis regain control of the country any longer, though they can make their opposition amply noticed.

I love how he contradicts himself from one sentence to the next. If the Sunnis can't regain control of the country any longer, then how likely is it that al Qaeda (which is Sunni) can make Iraq a haven? If the Shiites win, then they're going to stamp out al Qaeda themselves, since they're mortal enemies.

Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, there's the "baggage" that you called Arabs "ragheads."

Liar.

Posted by: Red Building Bob on April 24, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Perhaps you're familiar with a concept called guerilla warfare? That's generally how an outgunned rebellion resists an foreign occupier. See, e.g., the Italian, Polish, Soviet and Yugoslav partisans in WWII, the Dutch, French and Norwegian Resistance, the Viet Cong, the Algerian FLM, the Chechens, etc."
____________________

Passingly familiar with the concept. Enough to know that, with the possible exception of the Algerians, none of these groups succeeded in freeing themselves from the occupier without outside force being applied.

You know, Stefan, your rantings might make more sense if you had bothered to acquire any military experience or education whatsoever. As it is, apparently your sole "expertise" is deconstruction of sentences you barely comprehend.

Well, you want to own defeat. Go ahead and cradle it to your bosom like a favorite puppy, if it makes you feel important. Other folks will be doing their jobs, while your sole contribution will be here, trying to convince people you know more than the experts.

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 24, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

"I love how he contradicts himself from one sentence to the next. If the Sunnis can't regain control of the country any longer, then how likely is it that al Qaeda (which is Sunni) can make Iraq a haven? If the Shiites win, then they're going to stamp out al Qaeda themselves, since they're mortal enemies."
___________________

They aren't contradictory at all, Stefan. Preventing one helps to prevent the other. Should we be withdrawn too soon, the job will continue somehow under the next Administration. The sole remaining question is will it be more bloody by following the current path or by reducing our presence and influence on future events.

In either case, the war can hardly be called "lost," now can it? It can still turn out badly, perhaps even be counted as lost sometime in the future. But it most certainly is not close to being lost now, unless we will it so.

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 24, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

trash: Well, you want to own defeat.


"The US invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism......

..."the overall terrorist threat has grown since 9-11."

- National Intelligence Estimate 9/22/06

meanwhile,

“Osama bin laden is in Pakistan actively re-establishing al Qaeda training camps.” - Mike McConnell, the new director of national intelligence 2/27/07

heck of a job...

Posted by: mr. irony on April 24, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

In this case, it can be argued that the opposition cannot "win," since, even if we withdraw our combat troops, the next Administration can no more afford to let Iraq become a haven for Al Qaeda than the current one can.

See, here's one of the pieces you're missing. "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is not the same as "Al Qaeda, International Terrorist Group" or even "Al Qaeda, the Organization Behind the 9/11 Attack."

No relation at all, actually.

Al Qaeda in Iraq are almost all native Iraqis, for one. Secondly, Al Qaeda in Iraq has no cross-border aspirations -- so we can quite afford to leave them there, and there is no onus on a future administration to deal with them. They are the smallest of the warring factions, made up mostly of disaffected Sunnis who don't belong to the "insurgency" proper. There are actually a number of small "Al Qaeda" groups with varying ideological underpinnings, but they've got nothing to do with the real Al Qaeda and nothing to do with the U.S.

They simply co-opted the name because they thought it would make them sound more menacing, and because they have vague goals of governmental disruption in common with the other Al Qaedas.

The number of foreign fighters is only 1% of those in custody and estimated by the military to be about 1% or less of insurgents at large.

So there goes one entire leg of your argument on why we need to stay. Add to that the fact that there is no "enemy," that Sunni and Shia hate us alike and that coalition forces have come under attack by the Badr Corps, the Mahdi army, and other Shi'ite militias and clans, and now you don't even have a liberatee to point to and say, "well, we're staying for the sake of them."

Except for the Kurds and they're doing just fine, thank you very much.

Posted by: trex on April 24, 2007 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

In either case, the war can hardly be called "lost," now can it? It can still turn out badly, perhaps even be counted as lost sometime in the future. But it most certainly is not close to being lost now,

Sure it is. Here, for example, is what retired four-star Gen. Tony McPeak, who served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, said back in March: "Even if we had a million men to go in, it's too late now. Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again." McPeak also added that "It's not a question of whether we're going to leave Iraq -- it's a question of when."

unless we will it so.

Ah, the old familiar wingnut fixation on the triumph of the will....

Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Red Building Bob aka Red State Mike aka who knows anymore: Liar

Well, here's what RSM wrote back in the summer of 2006:

Either Hezbollah is a state actor, in which case I guess if Lebanon was at war with Israel and Hezbollah was an arm of the Lebanese military you could call it capture, in which case Israel can take the war to all of Lebanon. Or Hezbollah is just a bunch of raghead terrorists who want Israel destroyed and act in manner to bring it about, in which case it is "kidnap" and I hope the perps all die a painful death.

Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Passingly familiar with the concept. Enough to know that, with the possible exception of the Algerians, none of these groups succeeded in freeing themselves from the occupier without outside force being applied.

I know -- and yet the Iraqis are managing to do it all by themselves. Makes it even more embarrasing for us, doesn't it?

Posted by: Stefan on April 24, 2007 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting discussion/debate about importance of military history. I've been interested in "historicism" for quite a while: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicism
Marxists have been notoriously fascinated with theories of history (that past events can predict future ones, etc). One of the biggest critics of this is Karl Popper: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Open_Society_and_Its_Enemies

A contemporary critic is Errol Morris:
http://www.errolmorris.com/content/interview/believer0406.html
Here's a snip of this interview:
Take historical analogies. I believe that historical analogies are always wrong. This a long discussion, but, to me, the most dangerous thing about Chamberlain’s capitulation to Hitler at Munich is not the fact that Munich happened and it led to further Nazi aggression and so on and so forth, but that the example of Munich has been used to support thousands upon thousands of bad policies and inappropriate decisions. LeMay called JFK’s recommendation for a “quarantine” (that is, a blockade) in the Cuban Missile Crisis “worse than Munich”. Would nuclear war have been a better alternative? But nuclear war was averted by Kennedy’s policies. And thirty years later the Soviet Union collapsed without the need for nuclear war. Was LeMay right? I don’t think so. But again, the example of Munich was invoked to justify the invasion of Iraq. Appeasing Saddam, appeasing Hitler. The use of the Munich analogy does not clarify, it obscures. History is like the weather. Themes do repeat themselves, but never in the same way. And analogies became rhetorical flourishes and sad ex post facto justifications rather than explanations. In the end, they explain nothing.

I tend to agree that *themes* repeat, but you can't entirely trust perfect analogies from the past.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 25, 2007 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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