Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 11, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

LEAVING IRAQ....I've gotten a few emails and blog responses to my Sunday post about Chaos Hawks that make me think I should have written a little more clearly. So let me do that today.

Basically, I'm getting smacked around on two counts. First, that I'm denying anything bad will happen if we leave Iraq. Second, that I'm a monster who obviously doesn't care if lots of Iraqis die because we leave.

So here's what I think, as plainly as I can put it. First: I agree that if we leave Iraq the result will be an intensified civil war. Second: I agree that the bloodshed will be horrific.

But here's what else I think: If we don't leave Iraq, the result will simply be a longer, slower civil war. I won't rehash all the ongoing arguments over the surge in this post, but I don't think it's working and I don't think it will work. The result of staying, in other words, will be the same horrific bloodshed spread over a longer period; a more protracted stretch of regional destabilization; a greater probability of violence spreading to other countries (any casus belli will do); more American deaths; and ever greater strain on the military. This is a deeply unsettling view to most American policymakers, who hate the idea that U.S. intervention is, in some cases, either impotent or actively harmful, but unsettling or not, the bulk of the evidence suggests that that's the case in Iraq.

But there's more. The Chaos Hawks don't merely argue that Iraq's civil war will continue if we leave. Instead, since they can't point to much affirmative evidence that our presence is actually improving the political situation inside Iraq, they're forced to take the far more extreme position (see Crocker, Ryan, congressional testimony of) that if we leave Iraq the entire Middle East will go up in flames. But despite the fact that the scenario they lay out is almost cartoonishly harrowing, they barely even bother making a case for it. They just treat it as some kind of holy writ. To my ears, though, this sounds not like a sober and even-handed professional assessment, but more like a furious last ditch effort to frighten the public into opposing withdrawal — one that an awful lot of people seem to have accepted pretty uncritically. At the very minimum, though, can we at least have a serious conversation about this instead of simply accepting the maximally hawkish view at face value yet again? In a dramatic era it may be undramatic to say so, but the evidence that an Iraqi civil war will inevitably broaden into a massive regional conflagration simply isn't very convincing.

Look: If I thought the surge could work, I'd support it no matter how much I hate the idea. It would be good for Iraq, good for the region, and good for America. And if only a cynical argument will persuade you, it would also be good for an incoming Democratic president, who wouldn't come to office with a hideous quagmire as his or her top foreign policy priority.

But I don't believe that. I think the surge is just desperation talking, and I sometimes wonder if even its supporters believe it's going to work. A better idea is a prudent withdrawal of the U.S. presence — for the sake of argument, let's say a 24-month phased drawdown of some kind, with troops left in Kurdistan and airpower available in nearby bases — that gives the Maliki government a fighting chance to establish itself in a reasonable timeframe and the U.S. military a chance to plan its pullout in the most effective possible way. At this point, we're inciting as much violence as we're stopping, and we're having virtually no effect at all on the ongoing sectarian cleansing and mounting refugee crisis. It's time to leave.

Kevin Drum 1:36 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (70)

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Comments

Don't back away, Kevin. You were right. If anything, you're understating your own case.

Who says that the civil war in Iraq will get worse after we leave? A lot of big actors, including both the Sadrites and the non-AQI insurgency that Marc Lynch pays such careful attention to, are explicitly tying their violent action to our presence. I think it's quite possible that violence will decline after we leave. Not a guarantee, but quite possible.

And I study these issues quite "seriously".

Posted by: glasnost on September 11, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, for what it's worth, the most recent poll in Iraq shows that most Iraqis think our continued presence is causing more violence than not.

Posted by: wrldtree on September 11, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Amb. Crocker's testimony on the consequences of an American withdrawal sounded like the statement of a lawyer required to make an argument his client will accept.

Crocker knows better than most people that neighboring governments -- with the admitted exception of some parts of Iran's government -- would do almost anything to avoid getting entangled in an Iraqi civil war. This doesn't mean it couldn't happen; it just means that it isn't inevitable if the American army were to leave. But in the absence of some promise of success, President Bush needs the prospect of disaster to justify maintaining the commitment in Iraq.

This doesn't speak to the likelihood of a period of greatly increased sectarian bloodshed in Iraq following an American withdrawal. We shouldn't kid ourselves about that. It isn't a good enough reason to maintain the commitment in Iraq indefinitely as the administration intends to do.

Posted by: Zathras on September 11, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

"First: I agree that if we leave Iraq the result will be an intensified civil war. Second: I agree that the bloodshed will be horrific."

Neither of these is a given. Or presence in Iraq is the number one destabilizing factor as just by being there we deligitimize any Iraqi government.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on September 11, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you are right that leaving Iraq would not lead to a regional conflagration. With the U.S. out the Shiite militias would be free to slaughter the Sunnis. The various Sunni nations such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia would be utterly outraged, but they would not send any troups in because they would know it would likely lead to a battle with Iran, something they want to avoid at all costs.

Posted by: bobo the chimp on September 11, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

The difference between drawn-out bloodshed with Americans in the middle and quicker bloodshed after Americans have left is, hey, at least Americans will pay some penance for creating this mess. Not the exact Americans who deserve the penance, but Americans nonetheless.

Posted by: Grumpy on September 11, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Jose Padilla: "Neither of these is a given. Or presence in Iraq is the number one destabilizing factor as just by being there we deligitimize any Iraqi government."

So you are saying that if the U.S. left, the Sunni's would gladly accept the rule of the present Shiite Islamist dominated government?

Posted by: bobo the chimp on September 11, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

God, I simply cannot believe it.

It's the fucking DOMINO theory all over again

UNFUCKINGBELIEVEABLE

In Vietnam, we couldn't leave because the whole Southeast Asia would go commie. Well, that didn't happen.

Now, we can't leave Iraq because the whole area will go up in flames. That's just as big a crock-o-shit as the Domino Theory. In fact, it IS the Domino Theory, all over again.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 11, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's the same old Domino Theory crap from the Cold War. Our Chaos hawks are making the same mistake, assuming that the Middle East and its regimes is so shaky that it will collapse into chaos if we leave and the Iraqis bloody each other. It didn't happen in Southeast Asia then and it ain't gonna happen now. Knowing no history except what their American egocentric vision tells them, they can't see that we're simply a pain in the ass to everybody concerned and it would be better for all if we left.

Posted by: buddy66 on September 11, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I appreciate your post. I hope the surge works, but you may be right that it's just desperation talking.

My view is that the "good guys" should be able to succeed, one way or another. The elected government has far more arms, money, materiel, organization and soldiers, as well as the support of a large majority of the Iraqi populace and the entire world community.

The enemy has little going for them, except for their willingness to brutally kill large numbers of innocent people. In the long run, I believe their strategy of killing innocent people will alienate the populace. Based on the record in other countries, I think the insurgency will fail, although it may take ten years or more for this to happen.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 11, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Look: If I thought the surge could work, I'd support it no matter how much I hate the idea. But I don't believe that ... I think the surge is just desperation talking .. . A better idea is a prudent withdrawal of the U.S. presence — for the sake of argument, let's say a 24-month phased drawdown of some kind ... that gives the Maliki government a fighting chance to establish itself ...

—Kevin Drum

But, don't you get it? That's what the purpose of the surge was to begin with: to get you and the American people to believe what you're now saying!

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 11, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bush says we have to stay.

Dems have no spine or principles.

Killing and maiming and billions of dollars a day continues.

Easy.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 11, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, buddy666,

You wouldn't happen to be between 53-57 would you? I ask because as a survivor of all that crap during the Vietnam Debacle, that's how old I am.

Great minds think alike, as do minds of about the same age.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 11, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I sometimes wonder if even its supporters believe it's going to work.

As you yourself pointed out, Kevin, the purpose of the so-called "surge" is to buy time to punt this mess into the lap of the next President.

For that purpose, and that alone, some Republicans are banking on it working.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Zathras wrote: But in the absence of some promise of success, President Bush needs the prospect of disaster to justify maintaining the commitment in Iraq

Are you kidding? The prospect of disaster has followed Bush all his life.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

The enemy has little going for them, except for their willingness to brutally kill large numbers of innocent people. In the long run, I believe their strategy of killing innocent people will alienate the populace.

Air strikes, dumbass. The population hardens to pretty much everyone who blows the piss out of their neighborhoods. You think it matters to an Iraqi parent whether the bomb that killed their child was detonated with a garage door opener or dropped from a USAF jet?

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on September 11, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: The elected government has far more arms, money, materiel, organization and soldiers, as well as the support of a large majority of the Iraqi populace and the entire world community.

Great! Then they don't need us to waste American lives and treasure there.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

#1 how do we know bloodshed will happen.They where wrong about everything else on Iraq.

#2 What freedoms is it that the Turrists hate about us.

#3 Why is everthing a win for Bush or the Republican and everything is a loss for the Dems.

#4 We get slammed for not funding the troops and then get slammed for funding them.Don't let the Turdwell's confuse you they lie.

#5 I would like to build Bush's Library in Iraq it would be the best fit.There is going to be nothing but wasted space inside the building anyway.

Posted by: john john on September 11, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

You think it matters to an Iraqi parent whether the bomb that killed their child was detonated with a garage door opener or dropped from a USAF jet?

"ex-liberal" doesn't "think," Lucy, and probably doesn't even post whatever he imagines he thinks. He only posts here in bad faith to insult his betters.

Why Kevin's moderator(s) tolerate his pissing on the floor in here is a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

If we had real leadrship they would unite the Iraqi's behind Iraq.But that ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: john john on September 11, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

As you yourself pointed out, Kevin, the purpose of the so-called "surge" is to buy time to punt this mess into the lap of the next President.

Posted by: Gregory

No, no, no. The purpose of the surge WAS -- repeat WAS -- to buy time. But, the purpose going forward is TO WIN.

Petraeus is in this to win. So is Bush. They are NOT looking to run the clock out. This is a fundamentally incorrect interpretation of dem wishful thinkers.

If Petraeus can make Americans think they are winning, that's what the repugs need to take the White House in 2008.

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 11, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really see how our presence in the Green Zone is doing much to stop the ethnic cleansing all over Iraq anyway. It didn't stop Baghdad from going from 65% Sunni to 75% Shiite.

In fact, I don't even grasp the concept. What? Somehow our soldiers are there on every street corner interposing themselves between Shiite and Sunni when one decides to kill the other? Maybe, they slow it down a bit, but how much of an effect can they really have?

Posted by: Junius Brutus on September 11, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Just to add to my previous post:

If our leaving motivated the Sunnis to embark upon Srebrenica II, then this would obviously be bad and attributable to our leaving. But we could always attack with air power and land a rescue mission with the permission of our governmental allies.

Posted by: Junius Brutus on September 11, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is deliberately overlooking the inconvenient fact that every day we stay [for the intermediate term] is another day the good guys get to knit together an army and civil service that will stand up to the caliphate. Even on the political front, there can be no reshuffling of the tribes, cliques, parties and other actors until the kaleidoscope turns, and that can't happen without some breathing space in Baghdad. It's not just me ranting in my basement, it's people like John Burns or General Zinni that say this. If I'd drunk the Kool-Aid and thought America was the cause of all evil in the world I'd be a pessimist too. But that's not reality based.

Posted by: minion on September 11, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see:

The effect of the escalation ("surge") was supposed hurt the insurgents enough let us draw down US troops below, repeat BELOW, 130,000. Now there is only talk about dropping troops back down to 130,000 next July after the surge. Obviously it is already a failure from the standpoint of reducing troop numbers under 130,000. We will be back where we were before, except we will have damn few reserves.

The second thing the escalation was supposed to gain is time for the political process to work. Failure there, too.

Heckuva job, Bushie!!

Posted by: Neal on September 11, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum wrote:

"A better idea is a prudent withdrawal of the U.S. presence for the sake of argument, let's say a 24-month phased drawdown of some kind, with troops left in Kurdistan and airpower available in nearby bases that gives the Maliki government a fighting chance to establish itself in a reasonable timeframe and the U.S. military a chance to plan its pullout in the most effective possible way."
______________________

Just a few comments about the above idea. 24 months is more than enough to withdraw, of course. However, this idea about leaving forces in Kurdistan is curious. Assuming we could sustain troops in Kurdistan (possibly over the objections of Turkey), what is so exceptional about the Kurds that they earn special treatment? Further, why would the Iraqi government agree to the stationing of foreign troops in Kurdistan only, when they desperately need assistance almost everywhere in the country, but Kurdistan? Is it the relative safety of Kurdistan that gains it special treatment? If so, is it to be understood that we'll assist people only when we deem it safe to do so?

Then too, what good does airpower stationed in a neighboring country do? Will we keep combat air patrols over Iraqi territory? If needed, who will provide the targeting for these aircraft? Right now, bombs are used only in cases where either intelligence and/or actual US forces in contact can direct their use. Again, this seems to say it's okay to assist the Maliki government militarily, but only if there is little or no threat to Americans. Airpower isn't going to be of much use without continued strong ties to the Iraqi military or US forces on the ground.

Posted by: trashhauler on September 11, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

If Petraeus can make Americans think they are winning, that's what the repugs need to take the White House in 2008.

So you admit -- and in the same post, yet! -- that it isn't so much about winning (and how, one wonders, are we spposed to do that when we have to draw down troops and none of you chickenhawk warfloggers are willing to j'ine up), but about "mak[ing] Americans think they are winning."

That's some good stuff, there.

minion, meanwhile, overlooks the inconvenient fact that the Iraqi government has done precious little with the time bought with American lives as it is. But then, like the dishonest neocon toad he is, minion yammers about the "caliphate," so we know not to take him seriously anyway.

For the record, I don't think America is the source of all evil in the world. But guys like minion and "ex-liberal" are a good chunk of the source of the evil in America.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I completely support the United States to get out of Iraq… it’s not justified to stay anymore than it was to go in the first place.

Posted by: Shaun Connell on September 11, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

My thoughts exactly, Kevin.

Posted by: David in NY on September 11, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I have been thinking about how everyone mocked the Iraqi Public Affairs officer who insisted that Iraqi troops were defending Bagdad and would defeat out trooops. Daft, we said he must be. However, its just the natural response of those with the short end of the sick. Play the game out they say. They were not dying. As the Iraqi officer said then, so said Petreaus and Crocker yesterday. Daft we say.

Posted by: steve on September 11, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-lib: "Based on the record in other countries, I think the insurgency will fail..."

Yeah, give us an example in which a prolonged "insurgency" has failed to rid the country of brutal occupiers. Ask yourself this basic question: if the US was invaded, would you consider yourself an insurgent?

Posted by: Kenji on September 11, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The American presence is an obsticle to a political settlement in Iraq.
That's it. That's all.

Leaving is winning. Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: Northern Observer on September 11, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Best wipe the purple stains from the corners of your mouth, KoolAid boy.

Your imaginary "good guys"--Iraq's professional and middle classes--are now its refugee guys and not waiting in some sort of magical queue, waiting to take the reins.

It's done. It's over. Time to go home and begin the decade-long task of rebuilding our spent military.

Deal.

Kevin is deliberately overlooking the inconvenient fact that every day we stay [for the intermediate term] is another day the good guys get to knit together an army and civil service that will stand up to the caliphate. Even on the political front, there can be no reshuffling of the tribes, cliques, parties and other actors until the kaleidoscope turns, and that can't happen without some breathing space in Baghdad. It's not just me ranting in my basement, it's people like John Burns or General Zinni that say this. If I'd drunk the Kool-Aid and thought America was the cause of all evil in the world I'd be a pessimist too. But that's not reality based.

Posted by: Trollhattan on September 11, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Let's start with a few basic fundamentals. You shouldn't have to justify yourself to these sociopaths.

First, they are liars. The War Hawks and Bush administration have absolutely zero credibility. They have been wrong about everything, from the myriad reasons they used to justify the the war to their reasons for staying in Iraq.

There is absolutely, positively zero reason to listen to anything they have to say ever again. The response to anything they say should be blunt and direct: shut up, stop talking, you are liars who don't know what you're talking about. End of story. Period.

Second, they have proven themselves to be absolutely and completely incompetent. They cannot be trusted to implement even a sound strategy. They have had four and half years to get it right and they have failed every step of the way.

They disbanded the army, they initiated the sectarian violence by purging far too deeply into the Baath party, they replaced competent administrators who had decades of experience with college grads with zero job experience to run things like the Iraqi stock market and traffic simply because they had the right political credentials. They let ideologues from the Heritage Foundation experiment with flat taxes in Iraq. They failed to send in more troops early when it might have helped. They have never given Iraq the sober attention that it required but instead treated it as some kind of political Neverland where they could use it as a test bed for their fanciful political ideologies, private subcontractors, mercenary armies, and unchecked cronyism and corruption (but could never really be bothered to get the troops the armored vehicles they needed).

When these people say they have a new plan, it should be treated as a punchline to a joke.

Third, it is an insult to basic human decency to listen to Republicans shed crocodile tears of concern for the lives of Iraqis if we leave. They don't seem to care about the lives of Iraqis they have been responsible for taking thus far and presently, today, minimize, trivialize, and deny the deaths of Iraqis that are taking place because of their policies and failures.

It is manifestly clear to anything with a brain and a spine that the current troop surge has nothing to do with changing the reality or inevitable outcome in Iraq. It is exclusively about passing the buck to the next administration. Bush and the GOP do not want the failure of the Iraq war to be realized on their watch.

Another thing you can be absolutely certain of: if the troops come home when a Democrat is in the White House, the GOP will blame the Democrats for the loss of the war and any subsequent bloodshed in Iraq.

These people are sociopaths. They don't care how many Iraqis die. They don't care how many soldiers die, not really. They only care about themselves. And they are willing to sacrifice any number of Iraqi civilians or American soldiers to protect their own political reputations.

Posted by: Augustus on September 11, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Like almost every other talking point made by the bipartisan pro-military, pro-war political faction in the US, the theme that the civil war will become more horrific if we leave than the last four years have been is a lie. A lie used to prolong the occupation. I think war proponents like VP Cheney still believe military force can be used to provide stability to pump oil for Exxon. The Iraqis must continue the insurgency against America to prevent that, prolonging the sectarian conflicts in its wake.

Continuing the occupation continues the civil war. The occupation is what started the civl war. The occupation is what prolongs the civl war. The occupation informs the warring Iraqi sectarians that violent conflict is an acceptable means to seizing political power.

Amy Sullivan used to be persuaded by her religious friends that Democrats should loosen their platform and allow for some restrictions on a woman's reproductive rights. Ms. Sullivan's social network informed her to compromise on others' rights for short term political gain. Mr. Drum, like most Americans, has similar peer pressures. He has associates who believe the use of American power to enforce its will is the most important part of America's politics and freedom. These associates, like Ms. Sullivans', pull at Mr. Drum's post WW II patriotism to see American power as a force of good in the world. I am happy to read, after four plus years of death and destruction, that he at least finally understands there is no American power that can make Iraq bend to Cheney's or his will.

Posted by: Brojo on September 11, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

if the US was invaded, would you consider yourself an insurgent?

I would make it my goal every single day to be the top story on the teevee news in the living rooms of the invaders, every single day I continued to breathe and invaders stood anywhere on American soil. I would not consider myself a worthy heir to the founders if such a thing came to pass and I did not have a price on my head.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 11, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

The really tragic thing about this colossal f**k-up is that it doesn't really matter whether we stay for 10 years or withdraw in one year or two. I think there is no doubt that Iran is the big winner of Bush's war. This is true whether we stay or go, and since we have done nothing to achieve energy independence over the last six years, a stronger Iran will be a strategic problem for us.

The Kurds may be the biggest losers when we withdraw.

The principle outcome of Bush's invasion of Iraq is that he has strengthened our enemies and weakened our friends.

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 11, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Kenji: Ask yourself this basic question: if the US was invaded, would you consider yourself an insurgent?

It depends. If I were a black person living in the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, I would consider the "foreign" invaders from the United States of America to be my allies. I'd hardly commit insurgent acts against them.

If I were a German Jew or Gypsy in 1944, I would consider the foreign invaders to be my saviors. I would not choose to fight against them.

Finally, if I were an Iraqi whose people had been tortured, murdered and enslaved by Saddam Hussein, I would consider the American troops to be my allies -- particularly since the American troops are allied with a democratic Iraqi government that I helped to elect.

The enrollment statistics for the Iraqi army and police support my point. Despite the enormous danger and high mortality rates, these two forces have waiting lists to join them.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 11, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

What a circus. They are building the biggest embassy in the world and PERMANENT bases. The Israelis invade Syrian air space dropping live munition and US carriers are present in the gulf at the doorstep to Iran. Bush said he wants to make sure the next president will have to pursue his policy.

Are the Israelis setting up the next war in the ME? Why was there no protest from the US to Israel for invading Syrian air space? Sorry, I can't get upset when Iran meddles in Iraq. At least they are neighbors while we invaded a country thousands of miles away.

Finally, we can't believe a word this administration says. They lie the moment they open their mouth. That includes Bush's general. He did get his 4th star, didn't he?

Posted by: renate on September 11, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with war-hawk's little fantasy above (if I were...), is that not a single one of his groups are analogous to the Iraqis. The Iraqi people were not being placed in concentration camps, they were not slaves. That's not to say they weren't oppressed, but the oppression of the dictatorship was less than the oppression of the current occupation. Under a dictator they had laws, trials, and order. Under George W. Bush's boot-heel they have nothing but chaos. Death lies around every corner and the quality of life is severely diminished.

Oh, and when there are so few jobs to be found every possible job will have waiting lists. Your point proves nothing, you dishonest toad.

The reason I hate morons like war-hawk is that they have taken a bad, but relatively stable, and even peaceful, and turned it into a monstrous hell-hole. Whenever one of the war mongers talks about the humanitarian reasons to be in Iraq the only correct response is full fledged derision.

Posted by: heavy on September 11, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib: elected government has far more arms, money, materiel, organization and soldiers, as well as the support of a large majority of the Iraqi populace

nice empty assertion....

now...let's go to some facts...

the following are the results of a poll by ABC News/BBC/NHK in Iraq during Sept-2007

6 in 10...Iraqi's say security in the country overall has worsened since the surge began, while just one in 10 sees improvement.

57% of Iraqi's call violence against U.S. forces acceptable, up 6-points.

92% of Sunni's call violence against U.S. forces acceptable

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's approval rating: 33%

More than 8 in 10 Shiites and nearly all Sunni Arabs oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq....7 in 10 Kurds, by contrast, still support the presence of these forces.

33% of Iraqis support the Maliki government. 2% of Sunnis support the Maliki government. 98% oppose it.

boy...that's gotta hurt...

Posted by: mr. irony on September 11, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

i thought this was interesting....

Bush's approval rating remains at his all-time low: 33% - Wash. Post/ABC poll 9/8/07


"Do you think Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?"

Yes: 33% - CBS poll 9/7/07

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's approval rating: 33% - - ABC News/BBC/NHK poll - Iraq Sept-2007

Posted by: mr. irony on September 11, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

You know we're really just a country of masterbaters. If we really wanted to win we'd reinstate the draft and send a 400,000 troop surge to Iraq. We could pacify the country pretty quick with those kind of numbers like we should have done in the first place. Oh and in the long run it would be cheaper with a lot less loss of life. But you know americans can't be torn away from the malls and the big screen tvs.

Posted by: Gandalf on September 11, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK


gandalf...true....but the bush admin. had their chance...

"Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" could be necessary. - Gen. Eric Shinseki - Sen. Armed Services Committee testimony 2/25/03

"Way off the mark." - Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - Wash. Post 3/1/03


"We never had enough troops on the ground." - Paul Bremer - Wash. Post 10/5/04


bush's thinks the best way to win in a battle of civilizations is to leave it to volunteers...

if asked...i bet bin laden would agree..

Posted by: mr. irony on September 11, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a question: If things are so great in Iraq these days, why do our politicians keep making 'surprise' visits?
Seems like an awful lot of sneakin' around for people on the 'winning' side.
Just something to ponder.

oh, P.S.

Jesus was Black, Ronald Regan was the devil, and the government is still lying to you about 9/11.

Posted by: Cognitive Dissident on September 11, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

It's good that we've "mastered" something!

Posted by: Kenji on September 11, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Let's assume that the presence of US troops reduces the number of dead bodies found each month. Let's also assume that the number of deaths will increase significantly once our troops leave.
We are told that 50,000-60,000 Iraqis are fleeing each month, either to safer havens within Iraq or to a bordering country. Although I firmly oppose our continued war in Iraq, it would seem that the longer our troops stay there the more Iraqis will be safe from sectarian violence once we leave.

Posted by: harvey schindler on September 11, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin...keep on keeping on.
There is no, none ninguna possible logical scenario by which Iraq will not be ruled by one or more violent factions tomorrow and anon whether we stay or leave.
Ergo you're right!

Posted by: cognitorex on September 11, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Juan Cole thinks a withdrawl will precipitate a bloodbath, but what does he know?

His parallel is very interesting, tho, the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975. Who's going to get hung with that? The ways things are going, it'll be a Dem.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on September 11, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

"I would make it my goal every single day to be the top story on the teevee news in the living rooms of the invaders, every single day..."

I think you ought to explain that a little better BG -- it sounds like a pretty thinly veiled endorsement of blowing people up. If the BDS rot has spread from Glasnost and Hostile up the sanity chain to people like you I think this country is in big trouble.

Posted by: minion on September 11, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think you ought to explain that a little better BG -- it sounds like a pretty thinly veiled endorsement of blowing people up.

Are you just giving with the usual dishonesty, minion? Or don't you agree that the duty of loyal Americans would be to resist invaders, even violently?

Oh, my bad, I forgot -- you're a neocon; you have no idea what it means to be a loyal American.

Tool.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Let me add something to the BlueGirl note -- I know how much you hate Bush, but I don't think you realize how badly you're mixing apples and hand grenades here. If some crazy neocon warmongers invaded the US it would be alot different than someone taking Saddam/Uday/Qusay out of the picture. I don't think many people here would be chanting democracy, whiskey, sexy.

Posted by: minion on September 11, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think a loyal American would do ANYTHING to get on the news... I think loyal Americans realize the ends don't always justify the means -- I used to think that's what libs were complaining about when we tapped cell phones in Waziristan, or committed any similar "atrocity" in the recent past.

Posted by: minion on September 11, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Are you saying that if this country was invaded, you would just stand there? You wouldn't fight back? With whatever you could get your hands on?

I sure as hell would. Lets say Russia invaded. I would want to be on Russian TV every night. I would want them to think of me as a terrorist. I would want them to fear me, and I would want my name to fall from the lips of my enemy as an epithet.

Who wouldn't?

Fuck yes. Whatever it would take to drive the invaders from our shores, I would do. And I would not stop so long as there was a single one of them here, or they killed me.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 11, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

minion would be an informant for whomever invaded any country s/he lived in. minion would always choose the side with the most power. In Iraq before the invasion, minion would have been a Baathist. After the invason, minion would be an informer and translator. In an occupied America minion would inform on patriots like Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) and petition to be present at their executions.

Posted by: Brojo (aka Hostile) on September 11, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think . . . Posted by: minion

Let's just leave it at this and move on. Okay?

Posted by: JeffII on September 11, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

I think you're ignoring my question BG - your statement was a pretty edgy statement that could be interpreted as justifying suicide bombers. I think you know my position in defending this country, so don't go on a detour --what exactly did you mean by getting on TV by any means necessary.

Posted by: minion on September 11, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

First tell us what the Iraqi unemployment rate is then repeat your assertion, this time with vigor!

Straws, grasping at.

Ex tapped:

The enrollment statistics for the Iraqi army and police support my point. Despite the enormous danger and high mortality rates, these two forces have waiting lists to join them.

Posted by: Trollhattan on September 11, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

I start repeating myself when I get frustrated - sorry for the garbled syntax. Do you think the "insurgents" in Iraq deserve the same respect as a Paul Revere? Do you think they lose a little of that respect when they target little girls to get on TV? I really think you should rephrase your comment.

Posted by: minion on September 11, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

I would only blow up little girls if they were in the troop carriers I was targeting. I think I made that clear. Silly me, I didn't think about clarifying that, since invading armies usually don't bring the fam along.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 11, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

your statement was a pretty edgy statement that could be interpreted as justifying suicide bombers.

Oh, perhaps, if you were an intellectually dishonest neocon -- but I repeat myself -- you might deliberately and mendaciously misinterpret it that way...oh, hi, minion!

I think you know my position in defending this country

Yeah -- you carry water for the Republican Party in the face of the harm they've done to this country. Some position.

And your mendacious "interpretation" of BGRS's obvious statement pretty much excuses you from consideration as some sort of half-assed Minuteman -- not to mention an honest commentator, but we knew that.

It is amusing to see your flop sweat in knowing that your boy Bush has ruined the GOP's decades-long branding effort on defense. All that effort, wasted! Too bad the lives he's pissed away don't matter so much to you, but sacrificing is for other people.

Tool.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Warner asked General Petraeus whether we were safer as a result of our efforts in Iraq. Petraeus said that he did not know. he was focused on doing his job in Iraq. This is hubris. We are acting without thought. There is no discussion of our goals in Iraq, the region and the world. Deamonizing Iran is not a policy. How do we make it make the world safer. This should be the debate. It should include our relations with Israel.

Posted by: steve on September 11, 2007 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kev:

Your original post was fine and perfectly clear. Don't listen to the people who wrote you, as they were probably a bunch of trolls who meant to discourage you from saying just what people need to hear. I thought it was really one of the best Political Animal posts.

Posted by: Swan on September 11, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

I know I'm not the only one who would have seen your statement as applying to more than troop carriers -- our enemies in Iraq are not getting on TV by blowing up troop carriers - they get on TV by blowing up schools and mosques and markets without any outrage for these tactics. I'm glad you clarified what you meant to say - I don't think you would have wanted the wrong implication hanging out there.

Posted by: minion on September 11, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Heyzeus, you sound just like Charlie, minion, down to the attempt at a vaguely threatening tone. Alert the Feds. Democrats prepared to defend U.S. from invading army. Definitely subversive.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

minion would be an informant for whomever invaded any country s/he lived in. minion would always choose the side with the most power. In Iraq before the invasion, minion would have been a Baathist. After the invason, minion would be an informer and translator.

I suspect you're right. He/she/it has yet to demonstrate any consistent principle other than subservience and kowtowing to the perceived rulers.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

I think you know my position in defending this country...

Well, I can't say I know but I'll guess: Crouched in the cellar with your ass in the air and your hands covering your ears.

At least that's what sings out with your every comment.

Posted by: floppin' pauper on September 11, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Revere?

minion asks an interesting question. How is Paul Revere considered in Great Britain? Or George Washington or the Minutemen? I do not know, but would guess they are not considered extraordinarily heroic, with the exception of an acknowledgment of Washington's statecraft. We know Benedict Arnold's reputation did not turn out too well, even in England I am told. One reason I do not like the idea of letting our Iraqi collaborators immigrate to the US is because I think they are traitors. Patriotic behavior is informed from a nationalist point of view.

Americans have killed a lot of children in Iraq. They always say it was unintentional, unlike the car bombs sectarian fighters set off. Tell it to the Fallujans, or today's newest victims. With daily air sorties, the US is killing a lot of children. A lot.

The Iraqis who fight Americans will no doubt be remembered as heroes by Iraqis, if at least in their own sectarian communities. Legends are being created again Mesopotamia, and we are the bad guys. Some Americans deal with that idea by resorting to more force, as if the disease will also be the cure. We can never win unless we leave and befriend only from our own borders.


Posted by: Weeper (aka Brojo) on September 11, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Mr. Drum, for your sound analysis of the doomsdayers in the White House and Pentagon. The escalation in early 2007 was classic Cheney/Rove. Not only did they repudiate the November 2006 election results by escalating rather than tempering the Iraq conflict, but they also created a scenario by which it became almost certain that, whatever the Democrats did with their new mandate, at least one hundred thousand America troops would remain in Iraq when Bush & Company returned to Crawford in January 2009. As Senator Joe Biden said on the Lehrer News Hour last night, they realized that there was no way to unravel the horror they had created in Iraq, so their exit strategy became and exit strategy for them and them only. Is this crass and cynical? By that I mean is developing such a self-serving plan with American troops in peril crass and cynical. Of course it is. But remember that two of the primary reasons for rushing to war (and we all do remember the lack of deliberation during the Winter of 2002 and Spring of 2003, don't we?) was 1) to initiate a war timetable consistent with the 2004 Presidential election 2) to change the discussion from the 9/11 Commission investigation of failures on the part of the Bush Administration to prevent the horrific attacks in New York and Washington D.C. By the way, mission accomplished. So I do not see any inconsistency in Bush/Rove/Cheney hightailing it out of town in January 2009 leaving the Iraq quagmire for some Democrat to fix. No, I don?t.

Posted by: Bob Malone on September 12, 2007 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Nice post, but I think there is an important corollary to your thesis: "success" in Iraq would not have "spread" in any sort of "regional" way either.

The domino theory has been espoused from the very begginning by the vacuous chuckleheads running the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Nathan on September 12, 2007 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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