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August 19, 2005


From the bits and pieces I have read about this, the most plausible hypothesis is that Bush & Co would like permanent bases, but they don't yet know whether the Iraqis can be persuaded to accept them; I will be very surprised if they can. It seems pretty silly, really, given that Iran can probably be contained just as well without bases.

Establishing permanent bases in Iraq seems to me like a great way to offer would-be insurgents a permanent training ground against which to test their latest and greatest tactics.

And, as an added bonus, encourage them to come out in the country and play with soldiers instead of killing children.

Not that I think any of this is real, but as long as we're supposing, we might as well just swing out.

"Not that I think any of this is real"

Be true, Unbeliever...

And, as an added bonus, encourage them to come out in the country and play with soldiers instead of killing children.

Which, to be sure, is an improvement in that regard over the current situation. Just not the improvement we want. I don't know about you, but I'm not particularly okay with indefinitely offering up American soldiers--in a place easy to get to and difficult to defend--for target practice.

"And, as an added bonus, encourage them to come out in the country and play with soldiers instead of killing children."

If they're killing children because the children endorse the wrong relative of Mohammed as the successor of Caliphate, or are in front of those who do, then putting the American troops in bases in the desert will only make it easier for them.

If they're killing children because the children are participating in the new government, or are in front of those who do, then putting the American troops in bases in the desert will only make it easier for them.

If they're killing children because they're standing in front of American troops, then putting them in bases will be an improvement, but taking them out of the country completely would offer the same improvement with other benefits.

I can't think of any circumstance that would argue for taking American troops out of the cities without taking them out of the country completely.

I think permanent (or at least very long-term) bases in Iraq are inevitable and have been part of the BushCo plan all along. Without them, the Republicans would have nothing concrete - in terms of ROI - to show for their hundreds of billions. I see the absence of such bases as a tremendous political liabiity for the red team.

I tend to think the Bush Administration wants permanent bases in Iraq. My guess is that the main idea is to have an alternative to Saudi Arabia in the region.

I just thought you should know the RSS feed for ObWi is messed up. It is spewing raw html where it should not be. The last working post was the kitten one last Sunday.

Sorry to report the bug here, now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Well for Christ sake call an RSS feed repair guy! We can't have raw html spewing all over the place! Before you know it, the EPA will be involved!


(WTF is an RSS feed?)

Works okay for me.

Are you using http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/atom.xml

RSS reader: I've just verified that the RSS 2.0, atom 0.3 and rss 1.0 feed are working for me under Firefox/Sage and livefeed. RSS 1.0 has been working all week.

If Iraq is to be able to defend itself against its regional competitors before we leave, then we can't leave until they have a combined-arms military, with armor, artillery, and air components. None of those components are even on the drawing board so far as I know.

However, once there is an actual democracy in place in Iraq, should such a thing ever occur, I feel fairly confident that we will be shown the door in relatively short order. So, unless we're just playing foolies about the democracy thing, I think the whole discussion is fairly academic. We'll leave and Iraq will likely become a satellite of Iran, at least the Shi'ite parts. What happens to the rest of the country is anybody's guess.

Jay S: Thanks. Send the bill to Charles.

xanax: Re WTF is RSS. That's probably the wrong question. The answer is that it stands for Really Simple Syndication (or possibly other flavors as I recall) and that it is an alternate way to query web pages. What you want to ask is why should I care or why should I use it? RSS from a practical perspective allows you to look at a large number of sources to determine if there is new content. Many web news sources and blogs implement RSS or Atom feeds that can be checked by software and "aggregated" together to see what is new out of a number of sources. If you only go one place on the web, it isn't much use, but if you have several places you visit and they provide feeds, it can help you see what's new without visiting each place separately. If you have Firefox you can use the built in livefeed (not very useful in my opinion) or get the Sage plugin (the one I use) to access RSS. If you have Thunderbird for email you can add RSS feeds similar to news readers for news groups (I don't care for that interface myself). Other options are available with stand alone programs, web based aggregators and plugins for other browsers.

Thanks, JayS: after I asked the question, I googled RSS and found most of the info you just provided. The one piece missing is/was whether or not the RSS software is Mac compatible. Do you know if it can function absent some Windows application? I'm kind of a techno-retard (most normally-computer-literate people could figure this out on their own I suppose) so I appreciate any further input you'd care to provide... tho this may not be the most appropriate thread for it.

So, what do you think about permanent bases in Iraq?

xanax: If you're running 10.4, it's built into Safari. If not, try here (scroll down the page for the free version.)

Disclaimer: I have heard that this is good, but have not actually used it.

xanax: See Mozilla.org for Mac OS X versions of firefox and thunderbird. You can find the sage plug in for firefox there from the search bar. I believe the plug ins work with any supported version of firefox. You can try the concept via a number of web based implementations but I have found them painfully slow or limited implementations.

As to permanent bases, what I think would take a while to explain. I believe that some individuals within the DOD have them on their agenda, hence the rumors that have circulated for the last few years. It appears that we are building bases with a useful life that exceeds the public projections of our presence. Whether that is a reflection of current white house policy, an anticipation of the possibility of policy changes, or something else is hard to tell.

Thanks hilzoy & Jay S. I'll have a go at your suggestions when I get back to my office. Also, is it just my computers (home & office), or did the "time of day" display element of follow-on posts suddenly mysteriously disappear across the board?

It vanished on mine too, but only on some pages. Sigh.

hilzoy: "It vanished on mine too, but only on some pages. Sigh."

Probably my fault. Never ceases to amaze me the scope and extent of things I can screw up. I'll log off for a while. Maybe it'll come back???

I can't think of any circumstance that would argue for taking American troops out of the cities without taking them out of the country completely.

Border control.

If we're going to keep having our military in Iraq, and it seems clear enough that we are, I'd like think about whether our focus can shift as much as possible to fighting foreigners and jihadis, while letting Iraqis fight Baathists and whatever other native Sunni elements there are. I suppose there is plenty of overlap, but with hard work surely we can do something along these lines.

To the extent that what is going on is a civil war -- and there is an extent to which it is -- I don't want us to have a dog in the fight.

If I had my way, the US would have bases in Kurdistan only.

I think it's the best choice between a number of very bad options.

No US troops in Iraq means a very high propability of escalation of the civil war and intervention of the neighbours, setting the middle east ablaze.

More troops does nothing: it's not more troops that are needed, it's better counter-insurgency tactics. The French army had more and better tanks than the Germans in 1940, but they hadn't adopted Blitzkrieg manoeuvres; that's what lost them the war.

Conscription would be disaster. Currently, the US are doing OK in fighting at small unit level because of the professionalism of its soldiers; with conscripts, that advantage disappears.

It is by no means impossible to military defeat the insurgents. What's extremely improbable is the US military making the fundamental doctrinal pardigm shift needed to adopt the alternative doctrines.

US presence in Kurdisan neutralizes it's call for independence; it deters the neighbours from intervening; it provides the "lily-pad" to lauch operations against the different fractions in the civil war, minizing their capcity for mayhem and the death toll, to hinder this or that side from achieving victory, until an "acceptable" party emerges, in a secure area where logistics and support are not threatened.

US absence from 'Mesopotamia' (Iraq minus Kurdistan) removes the common enemy of the insurgents and leads intercine fighting, and reduces the population's support for them.

This is called "Lebanization" of Iraq, as in "Power taking over a country through a bloody civil war by having proxies fighting for it". The US gets to play Syria.

I'm at a loss to find words to describe my sentiments that it has come to pass that the best realistic scenario for Iraq beeing lebanization.

I have often said that Iraq would the given "fifth folly" of Barbara W. Tuchmann: The March of Folly - from Troy to Vietnam.

But now I think they pale in comparaison, seeming like minor snafus.

Hopefully we won't put one at Habbaniya.

Oh yeh, for those you that might think the partition might be the solution: that would "Yugoslavification".

There are two varaints of Yugoslavification: If the US leaves it becomes, it becomes like the post-cold war Balkan war, with Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece as added belligerents.

If they leave, then it's WWII Yugoslavification, the kurds beeing the ustachas loyal to the foreign occupiers , the sunnis the serbs left over with are a rump bantustan, and the Shias and sunnis the playing the role of the neighbours annexing the rest.

Victor, why do you think the Kurds aren't going to object to US military bases? Right now there's basically no US troops there and they are supporters, but you start moving troops in there and you'll see nationalist resentment growing. Sure, they have to appreciate the protection, but on the balance - who knows. I suspect that it only takes just a few incidents - a couple of girls raped here and there, a couple of bystanders shot - and it might turn into open hatred.

Protection racket is a tricky business.


Protection racket is a tricky business.

Posted by: abb1 | August 20, 2005


CNN reports the army is planning for another 4 years in Iraq at 100,000 troop level strength. Can any get the word to them what FUBAR means???

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