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April 15, 2004

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This is the second time I've quoted the Plaid Adder today, but her analysis of why the "flypaper strategy" doesn't work is masterly. I recommend it.

feeling vague ... something about intentions and a road and the paving thereof ...

I urge everyone to read Noah Millman's excellent essay here.

Noah Millman:

Sadr [is] generally unsupported by his fellow Shiites. Yeah, Fallujah has been simmering for a while, and now that it's boiled over we're actually offing the guys who've needed killing for some time.

But that's not the important fact. If anyone thought the Iraqis could wage brilliant guerilla warfare, they were giving credit where it was emphatically not due...

This I believe is just propaganda.

On Sadr, go read Juan Cole.

"Insurgents fighting the U.S.-led occupation force have sharply increased the sophistication, coordination and aggressiveness of their tactics over the past week, Army officers and soldiers involved in combat here said."

Obviously, Bush thinks the terrorist are lacking motivation or sufficient numbers to be worthy of our flypaper. So how can we increase the number of flies and their desire for U.S. flypaper?

"Furious Palestinians tried to rally the world Thursday against President Bush decision to break with longtime U.S. and international policy to say Israel could keep parts of the West Bank captured in war."(Reuters)

Brillant plan, Mr. President. The experts seem to think that this will achieve both your goals of increasing terrorist and making them even more motivated to attack US interests at home and abroad.

"With Arabs and Muslims already so suspicious of the US and with the situation in Iraq reaching a critical point, this change could not have come at a worse time," says Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. "This is a flat rejection of the standpoints of moderate Arabs and as such plays into the hands of the radicals and extremists."(www.csmonitor.com)


Read Millman. Struggling, genuinely struggling to come up with a plan for Iraq. Not my job, but somehow my responsibility, since blaming anyone else will be no comfort to me. There appears to be some reasonable intelligent political games being played (as in allowing the clerics to handle Sadr).

Basically, this should have been a MacArthur/Japan style occupation, or as in Germany. See Mark Kleiman for differences in occupations, and resources required.

We did not have the resources for this occupation, and were unwilling to request them from the American people. We are going to need to be very smart. There is a time for the stick, and a time for carrots. The Bush administration are good with sticks, but appear to be incompetent with carrots. Democrats are traditionally better at such things, and one failed Kerry term, following the failed Bush term, to be followed by Repubs again may be useful.

In invading Iraq, the U.S. government had initiative. They forced the jihadis to respond on American terms by defining the time, place, and manner of conflict.

Naturally, the jihadis wanted to define the time and place of conflict to suit their goals and capabilities. And, they most especially wanted to define the manner of conflict to be stealthy strikes on civilians, for they knew that American military might is unparalleled. Even with the messy situation in Fallujah, we are seeing the heavily lopsided casualty ratios that one expects when seeing America fight in the present day.

To say that this was identified as some sort of formal strategy is rather silly. This is fitting, considering that Andrew Sullivan can be a silly man. It is merely the normal strategy of holding and maintaining initiative.

As to its effectiveness, well, like anything it must be used in concert with other actions. It is mostly fruitless to drain the jihadis (al Qaeda, or whomever) of resources and men if one is not also preventing them from replenishing their resources and men. I think that these actions have gone fairly well, particularly regarding restricting access to money.

Finally, I must say that this is why using a solely law enforcement approach to terrorism is doomed to failure. For the most part, it surrenders initiative to the enemy.

Even with the messy situation in Fallujah, we are seeing the heavily lopsided casualty ratios that one expects when seeing America fight in the present day.

That's an... interesting way of putting it. Yes, when an army using high-tech weaponry attacks a city, the casualty ratios tend to be "heavily lopsided": "Wounded children lie in a makeshift hospital in Falluja, bandaged and bloodied from fighting between U.S. forces and Sunni guerrillas that has raged through the town's alleyways for days." cite

Of course, if you look beyond the very immediate short-term, the fact that the US army has been able to kill nearly 900 Iraqis and wound many more, shooting at ambulances and bombing mosques, will do nothing whatsoever for what were supposed to be the long-term goals in Iraq: peace, freedom, and friendship towards the US.

"But this I saw for myself. An ambulance with two neat, precise bullet-holes in the windshield on the driver's side, pointing down at an angle that indicated they would have hit the driver's chest (the snipers were on rooftops, and are trained to aim for the chest). Another ambulance again with a single, neat bullet-hole in the windshield. There's no way this was due to panicked spraying of fire. These were deliberate shots designed to kill the drivers. The ambulances go around with red, blue, or green lights flashing and sirens blaring; in the pitch-dark of blacked-out city streets there is no way they can be missed or mistaken for something else" (cite)

The attack on Falluja was supposed to get the citizens of Falluja to hand over the people responsible for killing and then mutilating four dead Americans. The price has been over 200 dead Iraqis for each of those four casualties. These past days have proved to anyone with common sense why the law enforcement approach is the only sane one and why the "War on Terrorism" is best kept as a metaphor rather than reality.

I think that these actions have gone fairly well, particularly regarding restricting access to money.

LOL!

Bush's decision to let Afghanistan fall back into the hands of the warlords has permitted al-Qaeda to get free access to a multi-million income from selling opium and derivatives. Indeed, Bush & Co's decision to divert resources from nationbuilding and fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to invading Iraq is going to prove the worst single mistake of the Bush administration. It's not that they didn't know this could happen: it was public information in 2001 that al-Qaeda were financing themselves with the poppy trade.

See, all Bush has to do to destroy al-Qaeda's funding is legalize heroin.

Doh. . conservative . . cognitive. . dissonance. . brain. . melting. .

Jesurgislac,

Apparently, from your viewpoint, it is all about shooting ambulances and bombing mosques. What fatuous nonsense. It is sad indeed that you both enjoy the security provided by your military and deride them at every turn. Your apparent distaste for many of your countrymen blinds you.

It annoys me greatly when people with negligible understanding of military affairs cant about massive civilian casualties. You neither understand or appreciate the great strides that American forces take in weapons development and tactics to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible.

You also choose to ignore that the enemy regularly uses ambulances to smuggle weapons and explosives, knowing that Westerners have a sense of basic human decency.

The attack on Fallujah was undertaken to kill enemies, not arrest perpetrators. This is war.

By the way, I was referring to the freezing of accounts and other financial measures being used to starve the jihadis of money.

By the way, I was referring to the freezing of accounts and other financial measures being used to starve the jihadis of money.

Well, yes, I guessed that. It wouldn't do for you to pay any attention to the massive funds al-Qaida can get from Afghanistan since Bush & Co diverted resources from nationbuilding there to invading Iraq.

It annoys me greatly when people with negligible understanding of military affairs cant about massive civilian casualties.

Fair enough: it annoys me greatly when people with negligible understanding of military affairs work so hard to ignore the people who are dead and maimed because the US attacked the city they were living in. Shooting at ambulances is a crime under the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field: to claim that snipers are entitled to shoot at ambulance drivers because the ambulances might contain weapons and explosives is simply not true.

My main point was, in any case, that your satisfaction that so few Americans have been killed contrasted with so many hundreds of Iraqis was extraordinarily short-sighted. The US military is likely to be in Iraq for some time - years, most likely. Their actions in Falluja have stirred up bad feeling against the US occupation that will cause far more casualties in the long run than a softly-softly approach would have over the past two weeks.

If you care about the welfare of US troops, don't just think about their short term welfare: think about the long term. I am thinking about the long term, and I don't like what I see. Not, as you claim, because I feel distaste for them - but because I want as many as possible of them to come home safely. Their actions in Falluja did not help towards this goal.

I would most certainly disagree that military action in Fallujah does not help in securing American or Iraqi safety. A soft approach would both embolden Coalition opponents and give perceptions of weakness to other Iraqis. Strength more than moderation is respected in that part of the world, and in most other places.

Satisfaction at lopsided casualty ratios is only shortsighted if one assumes that military action, in this case, leads to more danger. I see no evidence of that.

I would most certainly disagree that military action in Fallujah does not help in securing American or Iraqi safety.

Well, patently it doesn't help securing Iraqi safety: as you pointed out with satisfaction, the Iraqis are the ones being killed. When you argue that it helps secure American safety, you're ignoring the evidence of the other occupation in that part of the world. The Israelis have been experimenting with the strong approach on Palestinians for decades: demonstrably, it has not secured Israeli safety.

Satisfaction at lopsided casualty ratios is only shortsighted if one assumes that military action, in this case, leads to more danger. I see no evidence of that.

I would recommend next time you're in Washington D.C. you go look at the Wall, then. That would be "evidence"...

I took satisfaction in the fact that certain Iraqis (and foreign fighters) were being killed. You seem perilously close to saying that killing any Iraqi is the same as killing certain Iraqis.

I think that comparisons to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not very useful.

I assume you are referring to the Vietnam War memorial. Why, I do not know.

I took satisfaction in the fact that certain Iraqis (and foreign fighters) were being killed.

Actually, you weren't. You were taking satisfaction in "the heavily lopsided casualty ratios" - which included, on the Iraqi side, children and other civilians, including men who were at prayer in a mosque when the US bombed it. You defended the attempted killing of ambulance drivers. You, not I, are coming perilously close to saying that it doesn't matter which Iraqis the US forces attacking Falluja kill (to find the suspects who murdered four Americans, remember?) - so long the casualty ratios are sufficiently "lopsided".

I think that comparisons to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not very useful.

Why?

I assume you are referring to the Vietnam War memorial. Why, I do not know.

You're claiming that there's no evidence that when the US army is carrying out an unwelcome military occupation, and is guilty of killing civilians, that there will be all that many casualties. That's why I advised you to go look at the Wall.

I am afraid that your mind-reading abilities are not as successful as you may think. It is either disingenuous or moronic on your part to imply that I take satisfaction in the killing of civilians. If you were not so ignorant about casualty ratios, you would know that they only include people killed that were fighting, not bystanders. Hence, civilians killed as human shields or by stray explosives and gunfire are not included. Again, either moronic or disingenuous.

Comparisons to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are of very limited use, as in "not very useful". First of all, Americans (for the most part) are not Jews. If you think that that is immaterial, then you are not paying attention. Secondly, Americans do not want to live in Iraq, as Israelis want to do in the disputed areas. Thirdly, there is a plan in place, with set dates, for transfer of sovereignty that will be followed. This serves to mollify mostly moderate people who are somewhat appreciative of the American defeat of Saddam, but do not want the Yanks staying around forever. No such thing exists in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Finally, the support for anti-American violence in Iraq is much less widespread than the support for anti-Israeli violence among Palestinians.

I would like you to show where I claimed that the U.S. is not killing any civilians.

Finally, I assume that the Wall contains the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Vietnam. I know for certain that there will not be a repeat in Iraq of the 58,000 (I think) American deaths in the Vietnam War. I think that the contrary viewpoint is much less supportable.

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