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October 27, 2005

Comments

Still the old "We voted against the constitution and now we're signed on anyway?" problem.

Bush's increasing weakness is also a factor to consider here. He can't get his own right hand on the court, how's he going to get Chalabi in charge of Iraq?

Still the old "We voted against the constitution and now we're signed on anyway?" problem.

Bush's increasing weakness is also a factor to consider here. He can't get his own right hand on the court, how's he going to get Chalabi in charge of Iraq?

Von: But don't close your eyes to the fact that -- slowly, painfully -- we are winning in Iraq. The Iraqis are winning.

Which did you mean to say? That the Iraqis are winning, or that the US is winning? If the US wins - gets permanent military bases in Iraq, retains the right to imprison and torture Iraqis without recourse from the Iraqi justice system, enforces a religious government with lessened civil rights for women - the Iraqis lose.

At the moment, it still looks like the Iraqis are losing.

"Politics for us is like filthy, dead meat," he said, referring to pork, which is eschewed by observant Muslims. "We are not allowed to eat it, but if you are crossing through a desert and your life depends on it, God says it's okay." Even if politics gets him a result he likes, he said, he will continue to wage war against the Americans, because he views them as occupiers.

This is winning?

But don't close your eyes to the fact that -- slowly, painfully -- we are winning in Iraq. The Iraqis are winning.

We are the Iraqis?

Who's losing?

I wish someone would define 'winning' for me. Does that mean Iraq is a democracy? Does that mean Iraq is secure from insurgent violence? Does that mean Iraq has a fully trained and functional army and police force? Does that mean all of the above? Other?

It is very easy to say we are winning when you don't describe what victory looks like. I don't mean to single you out. Dubya and his merry band of neocon's don't seem to want to tell us what Iraq will look like the day before American troops leave. A very fuzzy timeline might also be helpful. Will troops still be in Iraq when Bush leaves office? A no BS assessment of how long will it take to train the Iraqi Army would also be welcome.

An unstable Iraq is the worst case scenario and we need to do all we can to avoid that. I used to think that meant leaving troops in Iraq, but I am starting to rethink that position. If Bush and Co. would give me a realistic idea about how this all plays out I might be more comfortable with the price (in lives & money) of this war.

But don't close your eyes to the fact that -- slowly, painfully -- we are winning in Iraq. The Iraqis are winning.

We are the Iraqis?

Who's losing? Satan?

Which did you mean to say? That the Iraqis are winning, or that the US is winning? If the US wins - gets permanent military bases in Iraq, retains the right to imprison and torture Iraqis without recourse from the Iraqi justice system, enforces a religious government with lessened civil rights for women - the Iraqis lose.

Jes, I understand that you're in the UK. What I hadn't understood is that, when you say the "UK" you mean Umbitck Kordan, which is the seventh planet in a solar system located near the Pleides. Indeed, your comment couldn't possibly be from someone who lives, say, here on Earth.

For those unclear on the concept of a mutually beneficial result, both we and the Iraqis are winning in Iraq.

Or, to be blunter: "We" includes the Iraqis (along with the US and its coalition partners).

I wish someone would define 'winning' for me. Does that mean Iraq is a democracy? Does that mean Iraq is secure from insurgent violence? Does that mean Iraq has a fully trained and functional army and police force? Does that mean all of the above? Other?

Iraq is a secure democracy that (1) does not cooperate with terrorists and (2) respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors and, accordingly, does not commit aggressive war against the same.

For those unclear on the concept of a mutually beneficial result, both we and the Iraqis are winning in Iraq.

Ah. Now we're moving on to: what do you mean by "winning"?

I am not in the least clear that Bush's idea of a beneficial result to the war in Iraq (which is, my guess: he wins in 2004; Republicans are still in control of both houses in 2006; his successor wins in 2008 with Republican control of both houses - so he's a third of the way there) is the same as any Iraqi's idea of a beneficial result to the war in Iraq.

Von: Iraq is a secure democracy

...with full civil rights and freedom for all, or only for men? Because Iraq appears to be heading in the opposite direction of civil rights/freedom for all, and with the full support of the US.

that (1) does not cooperate with terrorists

Which terrorists? The US cooperates with (and has been known to fund) terrorists and terrorism. Is it okay for Iraq to cooperate with US-funded/supported terrorists? Is this victory?

and (2) respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors and, accordingly, does not commit aggressive war against the same.

Unlike the US, which only commits aggressive war against countries that can't threaten it - such as Iraq?

Just checking.

Indeed, your comment couldn't possibly be from someone who lives, say, here on Earth.

Cite?

"I made sure some wrongdoers are protecting the school," he said, jokingly referring to al Qaeda loyalists.

Is this a transliterated reference to Bush's "evil-doers"? If so, that's a degree of postmodern irony I had not expected to see from committed Iraq insurgents.

And Von, it's going to continue to be difficult and dangerous for a long time. And if any good comes out of it, it will have to be because Iraqis choose it and worked for it. I'd be more than willing to cede victory to them.

OMG! Hahhaahahaaaa.

Best. Satire. Ever.

Man, it did read like an Onion piece. I especially like the part where their participation in the political process immediately becomes fixing an election.

That the 'winners' would be Iraqis has always been apparent, and never in doubt. (Unless you're willing to also call Iran a winner -- and I think you have to, on any reasonable comparison between the situation before and the situation now). It's just been a matter of which Iraqis, and how big a stake we have at the end of the day.

Will Iraqis 2006 be no more cooperative with AQ than it was in 2001 or 2002? As for the regime, it can't be less than zero, and as for the populace, I think you really have to say it was so trivial as to be unimportant. Will Iraqis in 2007 be less cooperative with AQ than in 2004-2005? As for the regime, same answer. As for the populace, I think it's a fair guess that the answer might be yes. If by "winning" you mean "no making things even worse than the were in late 2003," I think you can say that victory is possible.

The 'at peace with its neighbors' part was accomplished in 1991, although I think the hostility across the Iran-Iraq border was a good thing.

"Secure" is a long way off, and may prove, in this context, inconsistent with the "democracy" part.

An unstable Iraq is the worst case scenario and we need to do all we can to avoid that.

I think someone upthread meant to use the past tense here. As in, "... and we needed to have done all we could to have avoided that."

But of course we didn't, did we. The civil war has already started. That elections of a sort are being held in the middle of it is immaterial.

Von, seriously, is this a joke?

Shiites and Kurds have been running their cities with thugs and death squads. Everyone expects the new constitution to ensure a theocratic state in which the tenets of Islamic law are unquestionable. A new Iran-Iraq alliance is all but a given at this point, and the Sunni insurgency shows no sign of stopping.

If this is winning, then you've defined it down so far that losing is impossible.

Hmmm.... I read this post, and have an imagine of parched Von wandering in the desert, finding a cup of water, and thinks it's an ocean.

The long term trend, I would posit, is sectarian and political violence under a veneer of democracy. Kind of like the Weimar Republic.

Winning could mean "less than N dead", where the number dead so far is less than N.

I won't go so far as to say we're "winning," by von's definition of victory. I don't necessarily think we're losing, either. I do believe that it's mostly out of our (America's) hands, now. We had our chance to shape Iraq's future in 2003-4, and we frittered it away. If Iraq does transition to a stable, non-threatening, non-Islamist country, then it will be the result of the efforts of the Iraqi people themselves. And they might just do it. It's still too early to call this one way or the other, IMO.

Hmmm.... I read this post, and have an imagine of parched Von wandering in the desert, finding a cup of water, and thinks it's an ocean.

A better analogy would be me wandering in the desert and finding a small spring and stream -- which I hope eventually leads to the ocean, as many streams do.

i don't remember the speech where W asstered that we need to sacrifice the lives of thousands of US soldiers to ensure that Iraq becomes an Islamic theocracy.

i don't remember the speech where W asserted that we need to sacrifice the lives of thousands of US soldires to ensure that Iraq becomes an Islamic theocracy.

crap crap crap. i checked no less than 5 times to make sure that the first one didn't post. and then i made typos in both.

Actually, Von, most streams don't reach the ocean. In any event, I do hope your fantasy really is true, but having heard the exact same prediction from you about - oh - 10 times in the past, I think I'm not holding my breath waiting for the ocean to appear.

Here's hoping there's not all out civil war.

...most streams don't reach the ocean.

No, they just reach creeks, that sometimes run through sewers, or pool in stagnant marshes, I guess. But nevertheless then become tributaries, then progress to rivers, and then they get to the ocean. Or the occasional great lake or landlocked sea.

I'd settle for great lake at this point. Not even a Superior... maybe a Huron.

hmm. In many cities, or for that matter anywhere where the angles of your corners sum to 360, if you keep turning enough corners you get right back where you started.

it appears that Von seeks the Sea of Tranquility. It's found on the Moon. (which makes a great deal of sense since our iraq policy is lunatic.) And it's bone dry. (more dry than that; let's say dry as dust.)

there are elections coming then the new govt has to try to form a governing coalition. Let's give the new govt a year to try to figure out how to give the three major factions what they want before claiming victory.

Thirdgorchbro may have it right.

I don't think this represents any real embrace of democracy so much as it shows that the Sunnis understand game theory. Rather than risking an all or nothing proposition betting either on the constitution or the insurgency they have opted to mitigate their losses and try a both/and approach. They will use connstitutional leverage to mitigate their own marginalization as much as possible while using 4GW tactics to gain as much as they can with violence.

On the bright side, this seems to indicate that they have embraced violence in part for political reasons, rather than purely ideological or religious reasons. Not that i think our side will recognize that and step away from all-out-crusade mode.

Hmmm.... I read this post, and have an imagine of parched Von wandering in the desert, finding a cup of water, and thinks it's an ocean.
Really? Because I got the impression he's starting to convince himself that what he's really thirsty for is sand.

I wonder what will be the next "turning point" after this one. Isn't this the sixth time we've turned the corner? You'd think, after awhile, von would start to detect a pattern.

Von you are my favorite writer here at Obwi, but this just reads like a bad satire. One data point does not a trend make.

There is some true irony in you asking Jes if he lives on another planet, considering that the picture he portrays seems much more grounded in reality than the one you are painting. The snark doesn't really suit you, it just diminishes you.

Or, to be blunter: "We" includes the Iraqis (along with the US and its coalition partners).

There's a significant disconnect in this line of reasoning for me. Recent polls suggest the Iraqis don't see the US as their allies. Forget the Sunnis, large numbers of Kurds and Shiites reportedly are strongly anti-American (most telling in the data is that except for the Kurds, the Iraqis overwhemlingly see coaltion forces as "occupiers" not "liberators," 80% to 17% overall).

To suggest "we" are in this together, then, you have to assume either 1) they (the Iraqis) just don't know it yet because they're immature or whatever or 2) what the people feel is not represented by the folks running their government.

I think we'll see some commonality in hatred toward Saddam uniting both sides, but I still see the Iraqis and the Coalition as two sides, all contrary propaganda aside.

OK, so that poll is not as recent as the one I thought I was looking at, but I believe the results are similar.

To clarify my earlier comment, I do still believe that the US has a positive role to play in Iraq. On the military side of things, we are still needed to hold off the insurgents (and keep them from entrenching themselves in the power structure of any big cities). The major focus, however, should be on building up a genuine national Iraqi army. That may be an impossibility at this point, but if anyone can do it, our Special Forces soldiers can. It's the main thing they train for.

Politically, I think we are best served by playing honest broker between the various factions, and trying to keep them talking. I bitterly regret the predominance of Islamist factions among the Shiites, but there's nothing we can do about that any more. Hopefully, nationalism will trump any loyalty they might feel to Iran.

Despite the simmering violence, Iraq has not dissolved into civil war yet. It is still possible that the Iraqis will rise above sectarian resentments and construct something better than Iran-lite or Saddam-redux.

Despite the simmering violence, Iraq has not dissolved into civil war yet. It is still possible that the Iraqis will rise above sectarian resentments and construct something better than Iran-lite or Saddam-redux.

I'd feel better about this possibility if the current Administration was capable of acting in THIS country without incurring ideologic divisiveness.

No word about the vote problems? Or is this a Rumsfeldian 'freedom is messy' moment? Of course, following von's reasoning, vote fraud in the service of a peaceful Iraq is probably not a sin but an honorable act as is evidenced by the title of the post. If everyone thinks there is a turning point, well, maybe there is. I just hope that the Iraqis are as accepting of the myth as Virginia was.

The election was another successful milestone passed. Terrorist violence on October 15th was a fraction of what occurred on January 30th. One of the major Sunni parties chose not to oppose the constitution on the eve of the election, and now more Sunnis are jumping into the democratic process. The constitution is not perfect, and there are built-in tensions between women's rights and secularism vs. Islamic principles, but it gives Iraqis the chance to have the freest Islamic nation on the planet. The measure for victory is still a free and peaceful, non-theocratic represenative republic, not whether the U.S. gets permanent military bases. At this point, I'm not going to say that we're winning, because all it does is open up cans of subjective worms, but it certainly does look like we're making progress. The December election will be another major milestone.

I'm thinking best case in Iraq is a lot more like Pakistan than like Turkey, in fact probably less free than the former.

A better analogy...

Good riposte. But then your point is more about hope (where the stream might lead) than something tangible. That stream may lead to the Dead Sea or some other godforsaken sink.

I still think we are dealing with a country much more dominated by violent struggle than anything that looks like "winning", and the fact that elections are occurring does not change anything.

We have replaced one mess (Saddam) with another, and grievously hurt our own prestige and standing in the process. Hard to call this "winning."

At this point, I'm not going to say that we're winning, because all it does is open up cans of subjective worms, but it certainly does look like we're making progress. The December election will be another major milestone.

Elections are nice, but poor barometers of progress. Think Weimar Republic, which had plenty of free and fair elections and devolved in Nazi Germany.

The overall trends in Iraq remain very bad -- sectarian and political violence, rampant corruption, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. I don't see elections changing that.

Well, if you keep changing the value of "winning" enough, sure.

And if that tattered bit of fig leaf strikes you as a fair trade for the death, the destruction, the shattered families, shattered bodies, shattered minds, the loss of national honor and reputation, the weakening of our military and the sabotage of our political processes, the lies and corruption, the defamation and polarization, the increase in global terrorism and radicalization, and the money down the rabbit hole, then yippee.

Guess you'll be among those supporting Bush if he decides to go to war against Iran or Syria, then, right?


I think there is too much jumping on von here. The election was relatively successful in terms of violence, voter participation and overall outcome. It could clearly have been worse (more violence, no turnout, obvious fraud, etc.). To that degree, the election does represent progress (think: the violence could have been so bad that the elections couldn't have been held, or the Kurds could have held out for more Federalism and combined with the Sunnis to reject this constitution).

That being said, the elections were the last, best chance for the Sunnis to parlay their (limited) electoral votes into a constitution that gave them what they want. They failed (2 of 3 provinces voted against, and the third had a 55% rejection rate, not the 66% that was necessary to block the constitution, if I remember correctly). Now, the Sunnis have two stark choices: play politics in a system where they won't have the votes (in parliament or popular) to gain any of their policies, or turn further towards violence as a bargaining position (we'll stop fighting when the rest of the country moves in our direction).

That leads to a logical conclusion: the more the Shiites and Kurds (especially the Shiites) give the Sunnis what the Sunnis want in the constitutional/law-making process, the less the Sunnis will pick up guns and use them. They don't want to fight, but will if forced (by their logic) to. So, the Shiites and Kurds are in the drivers seats. The (just passed) constitution gives those two groups (again, especially the Shiites) the power to form and manage the new Iraqi state. The more the Shiites create a state antithetical to Sunni interests, the more violence we are likely to see. Certainly the US presence drives some part (perhaps even a large part) of the daily violence. But how many here honestly believe that, post-US withdrawal, there would cease to be violence? In large part, the US is out of the drivers seat at this point (though we still provide the security for the mostly-Iraqi political process). It's up to the Shiites (and Kurds, to a lesser degree) to create real democratic processes and outcomes that create a democratic Iraq and draw in the Sunnis. If the Shiites turn to a "majority rules" frame of mind, the Sunnis won't play the political game, and why should they?

The election did go better than it could have, and did create the possibilities of a real democratic Iraq (not the best possible outcome, however, as a Sunni-led rejection of the constitution would have given them more negotiating power, and an even greater incentive to stay in the political process, but that's water under the bridge). In the end, the US can only provide shelter for the Shiites and Kurds to create a new Iraq. They can choose to include the Sunnis (a greater chance of the outcome that von defined above, though not a sure thing) or they can choose to repay legitimate past wrongs and give into federalist impulses (generating greater Sunni violence and a lesser chance of achieveing von's defined successful outcome).

Anyway, that's my $0.02.

von sez: we are winning.

this statement has been bugging me since i read it and i've finally figured it out.

i have a response: what's this WE bit, kemosabe?

WE won a long time ago. Remember Mission Accomplished? Saddam is in custody.

The problem with our victory is that we crapped in the sheets so badly that not even the thugs running this country could leave behind that mess.

It's not about us, it's about them. you know -- the iraqis. Like some godforsaken godzilla, we came in and stamped all over them. Now, not for compassion's sake but for the sake of our own precious hides we're trying to fix this mess.

but, as Thomas Paine would point out if he were around today, the iraqis would like to find their own way in the world, thank you very much, without the occupation forces kicking in their doors on a regular basis. (2nd and 3rd amendments, anyone?)

which is why my skin crawls whenever i read CB's victory conditions. Those conditions may be necessary to justify the american invasion but they are utterly inconsistent with the idea of granting iraqis autonomy.

As the constitutional debate showed, the majority Shia appear to want a theocracy. they also may well decide to align strongly with iran. (quick, what country is the US's largest trading partner? Canada is correct! how 'bout that, we trade most with the country that has the lowest shipping costs to us.)

but apparently the idea that the iraqis would choose voluntarily to align against america gives CB brainlock.

this country fought a civil war the scars of which are still not healed. why, for example, is it socially acceptable to fly the confederate flag but not the nazi one?

perhaps this country and the world would be a better place if the South had taken Washington after the First Battle of Bull Run, sued for terms and successfully seceded. (of course, except for the slaves.) the capital cost of keeping slaves and the downward pressure on wages would have likely eventually driven the south into economic ruin. we'd then have an interesting possible alternate history of reunification.

the point being, of course, that it is the height of arrogance for the US to assert that unity in iraq is preferable to dissolution. The Kurds may want to take their chances with the Turks. After all, Turkey is a member of NATO so the US should be able to hold off its own ally from invading.

But if we do assert the right to make the decision that iraq must stay unified, that its government must be non-theocratic, and that it must be aligned with the West, then let's stop with this nonsense about self-determination. This is flat-out iron fist occupation, where the dissenters spend their last days screaming their guts out in Abu Ghraib.

We can certainly occupy iraq indefinitely; we have the military and economic might to do so. But remember that the British never did completely control Ireland, and that was just next door.

I'll agree with Von that progress is being made, what with elections and a constitutional referendum in the past 10 months.

And having Saddam in custody is a very good thing.

Baltar, that was worth more than two cents. Good summary.

You seem to write off a couple things I would not. Still, I agree that the Shia are in the driver's seat and that heavy handed majoritarian efforts will provoke more Sunnis to insurgent activities.

Charles, a quibble. Freedom House, which you've cited approvingly, notes that by far the most free Muslim nation is http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ml.html>Mali href>. I doubt Iraq would surpass http://www.glocaleye.org/bangladesh.htm>Bangladesh href> in this either, even if your hoped-for outcome occurs. You could try making the case for most free Arab majority state, or perhaps Muslim oil state.

DaveC: And having Saddam in custody is a very good thing.

In a vacuum, sure. Trouble is, politics and national security -- or really national securities -- aren't played in a vacuum.

Charles Bird: Terrorist violence on October 15th was a fraction of what occurred on January 30th.

I don't suppose you'd mind comparing violence on, say, more than a single day?

1. Enormous opportunity cost of the Iraq war vs. doing something worthwhile with the money and lives.
2. Voting apparently under the control of ballot-stuffing Al Qaeda members.
3. Iraqi population now largely anti-US.
4. Conditions for success -
a) build a functional Arab democracy (never before accomplished)
b) train an efficient Arab army (last managed by the Prophet Mohammed)
c) do this using the US Special Forces, the Forrest Gumps of the special ops community (last seen training the victorious Army of the Republic of Viet Nam).
5. Terrorists now firmly established in Iraq.
6. No WMD discovered, natch.
7. World trust in US ability to tell truth now rather low.

But - "we are winning in Iraq."
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Of course, following von's reasoning, vote fraud in the service of a peaceful Iraq is probably not a sin but an honorable act as is evidenced by the title of the post.

First off, I love our readership for criticisms like this. (I also love our readership for their more direct criticisms, even if I sometimes think that they are being issued from some secret location off-planet. I'm sure I come across the same way to y'all on occasion.) But I think LJ's criticism, here, misses the point. As the article that inspired the title suggested, I'm too suggesting that there is a larger truth here that's being missed. (That's not the same thing as Plato's noble lie, which is how I read LJ's criticism.)

I'm ducking further comments until the weekend, when I hope to pen a longer piece on Iraq. Don't be misled, though: I'm reading these comments and trying to take them in.

Of course, following von's reasoning, vote fraud in the service of a peaceful Iraq is probably not a sin but an honorable act as is evidenced by the title of the post.

First off, I love our readership for criticisms like this. (I also love our readership for their more direct criticisms, even if I sometimes think that they are being issued from some secret location off-planet. I'm sure I come across the same way to y'all on occasion.) But I think LJ's criticism, here, misses the point. As the article that inspired the title suggested, I'm too suggesting that there is a larger truth here that's being missed. (That's not the same thing as Plato's noble lie, which is how I read LJ's criticism.)

I'm ducking further comments until the weekend, when I hope to pen a longer piece on Iraq. Don't be misled, though: I'm reading these comments and trying to take them in.

even if I sometimes think that they are being issued from some secret location off-planet

Sh! It's a secret!

Since you're reading comments with a look toward a longer piece, I think one angle is that Kurds are better off in the country of Iraq, where they will be able to wield a great deal of power. I don't think that throwing their lot in with Turkey has any advantage. If I understand correctly, Turkey, Syria, and Iran are all very oppressive against Kurds. So the alternative to Kurds being a part of a federal Iraq is a shooting war pitting the Kurds against 4 countries in order to establish a separate Kurdistan country.

What if the US had left Saddan in power, and scantions had ended? Would that have meant the end of the no-fly zones? And if Iraq decided to wipe out Kurdish resistace, what would the US have done then? If I remember correctly, at the beginning of the war Turkey wanted to invade the Kurdish areas, which is one of the reasons US troops were not permitted to enter Iraq through Turkey. So I for one do not think that the US has caused a civil war. There would have been violence anyway, perhaps much more violence.

DaveC: I think one angle is that Kurds are better off in the country of Iraq, where they will be able to wield a great deal of power.

But the problem is that what the Kurds want - and they've been pretty clear about this - is either independence, or else such a loose federal structure that they will effectively have independence inside Iraq. You can tell people who want independence that they'll be better off without it, but long-term, that's a no-win strategy.

(That's not the same thing as Plato's noble lie, which is how I read LJ's criticism.)

Thanks, von, I was hoping that I wasn't twisting the knife too much. While I can now see your point about the 'yes, virginia' letter as being an indicator of larger truths, I would note that we've spent 3 years sending the equivalent of 'yes, virginia' letters, and at some point, it becomes hypocritical. In fact, I'm beginning to think that it's not the noble lie that is what we should be thinking about, it is the allegory of the cave. Unfortunately, the people who have returned to tell their fellow prisoners and have been attacked for trying to change minds have not been those claiming that things are going well in Iraq, but those who have been skeptical.

I've been trying to figure out what bugs me about the "we are winning" line. my problem with the statenment is that it's the kind of thing that will be broadcast out from the White House starting shortly after the elections, when the cut and run begins. Bush really doesn't have an alternative but to declare victory and leave. i know the official story is to stay the course, but what exactly is the course? And how can he stay without troops? How can he stay when the increasing unpopularity of the war is scaring Republican Congressmen? Bush needs a face-saving way out and the "we're winning" line is it. He'll use the Constitution, the elections, and the removal of Saddam as his proof of victory and the hell with reality.

von writes: "respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors and, accordingly, does not commit aggressive war against the same."

So I take it the Iraqis should deny the US the ability to strike Syria and/or Iran from Iraqi territory?

Since you're reading comments with a look toward a longer piece, I think one angle is that Kurds are better off in the country of Iraq, where they will be able to wield a great deal of power.

fwiw, I just want to say that if we had reached the status quo (of having invested $200B+ and 10,000 US dead and maimed) after Bush rallied the nation to remove Saddam and establish a New Iraq of whatever shape by presenting an honest casus belli, not the bullshit WMDs-are-coming snow job, there wouldn't be much of a policy debate now. 'course, it is more dubious that the US people would have agreed to this costly mission in the first place.

This is just another case where a wingnut knows he can say something wrong - and he'll never have to say opps when it's done. You go, tinfoil boy.

Don N.

ThirdGorchBro: "On the military side of things, we are still needed to hold off the insurgents (and keep them from entrenching themselves in the power structure of any big cities)."

I'd say that this is something that the US Army/Marines absolutely can *not* due. Tank forces have problems battling assassins, mafias, tribal and religious politics.

That's street-level guerrilla warfare, where we haven't been winning.

Charles Bird: Terrorist violence on October 15th was a fraction of what occurred on January 30th.

Anarch (i.e. me): I don't suppose you'd mind comparing violence on, say, more than a single day?

FWIW, as of today we've had more deaths in October 2005 than any month since January 2005. Casualties were, in fact, slightly lower this month than in January (US: 107 in January v. 93 in October) but -- especially given that the insurgents/resistance are now blowing up Bradleys -- I'd say your blithe dismissal is, to put it mildly, crap.

Did events happen in October and January besides casualties?

Did events happen in October and January besides casualties?

Of course, which was precisely the point.

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