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November 21, 2005

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I'm too lazy, can someone quickly dispel Charles's myth of the active "trained" Iraqi military? It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes.

A year? What a difference a weekend makes!

So, is Rep. Murtha still a loser-defeatist?

I'll guess "yes" because he wants to withdraw to a new strategy because the US is losing whereas you want to withdraw to a new strategy because the US is winning.

Either way, I don't care what color the fig leaf is, just that the secret it is covering is called "US forces withdraw."

As Justin pointed out, there is some disrepancy as to what "trained" means.

But let's be generous for a moment and assume that there is accuracy to the above report that the police of Fallujah are capable of keeping the peace in one city.

Does that mean much for the rest of the country? Based upon reports and comments from my son, probably not.

But it does give some sense of what you mean by victory, Charles. If a local police force can keep a city from being a hot-bed of insurgency, we have won and can leave.

My question is, if 2 or 3 or 4 months after we leave, violence erupts, do you think we should go back?

CB, have you read Fallows's (subscription-only) article?

BTW, Fallows was on Fresh Air last week talking about the same things he deals with in his article.

There's a RealAudio stream of the interview available at Fresh Air's website. No registration required.

Like others above, I still take assertions of preparedness of the Iraqi troops with a grain of salt--but it's irresponsible for skeptics to put fingers in their ears and refuse even to consider positive reports.

Would you, Charles, see this interview as a success in the "oil-spot" strategy? Fallujah seemed likely to be an outlier on any trend, positive or negative.

It would be interesting to know what specifically went well here. I suspect it's a combination of slow turn-over of US advisors, sustained scrutiny by outsiders, and the locals' having experienced rock bottom once already.

BTW, I'm glad you deleted the Murtha post.

BTW, I'm glad you deleted the Murtha post.

Huh? (scrolling down... yep, it's still there) -- I thought CB accidentally overwrote the Murtha post with this one, but then restored it when he put this one up. Isn't that what happened?

Christopher Allbritton (Back to Iraq) also has an article on Falluja one year later in Time.

Huh? (scrolling down... yep, it's still there)

Ok, scratch that. I got the order of posts mixed up, didn't see the Murtha post in the "recent posts" column where I thought it was going to be, etc. (*blushes*)

Charles is a loser-defeatist, and setting timetables is objectively pro-terrorist. I would never question Charles's patriotism, but he is knowingly and actively providing "aid and comfort" to Al Qaeda (and we all know where *that* phrase comes from, right?)

And how is it that trained Iraqi (ie Badr Corps) policemen are going to stop Iraq from becoming an Iranian client state? The security problem isn't the main problem, it's just a preliminary. If we've spent all this blood and money to produce an Iranian-style theocracy, you'd have to define 'victory' and 'mission accomplished' so far down you'd actually be *underground*.

What I'm not sure I understand is: has the definition of 'victory' now changed to 'having secured Fallujah'? Or is there some reason to think that when Fallujah is secure, the rest of the country will be too (as well as being a non-theocratic functioning democracy at peace with itself and its neighbors, and not a safe haven for terrorists)?

This is just surreal.

I have been of the opinion for awhile that Bush would declare victory and begin to withdraw while similutaneously pledging eternal commitment to victory and labeling all those who advocated some kind of withdrawal as bad Americans.

My only question was how his supporters, especially the well-informed ones, would respond.

So now I suppose that right wing will shout "We must stay the course by withdrawing, not like those awful defeatist Democrats!"

Surreal.

"The only problem that I can see is that this type of information is reported in a blog and not by the Bush administration and not by the mainstream media."

The only problem I can see is that, uniformly, guerilla wars produce these optimistic reports that things are going well, and will be much better in six months, and yet far better in a year, and pretty swell in two years or so.

On occasion they're correct. Mostly they're incorrect.

And there's not much way to tell the difference until the time has passed.

Meanwhile, those with seer-like powers far greater than mine, know which reports to cherry-pick to "prove" that things are going swell/to-hell. Woe that I am so inadequate seerness.

Another way to respond to this: "The only problem that I can see is that this type of information is reported in a blog and not by the Bush administration and not by the mainstream media."

Charles, a prediction isn't an accomplishment. It's terribly important to be able to tell the two apart.

It's also interesting what you choose to leave out from Kevin Sites' report:

"What's frustrating the Iraqis is the other part, which is the commercial part. If we don't address that, unemployment is going to remain high, and that bleeds over into security and a lot of other issues. And rightfully so. They're fighting hard to open up the piggybank in Baghdad to get compensation for commercial businesses."

SITES: "There's supposed to be, I think, $30 million in reconstruction funds from the Iraqi government. Has that been coming through?"

BERGER: "Not a dime."

SITES: "Why not?"

BERGER: "Good question. It's the same question city leaders asked the ambassador when he was down here a couple weeks ago, just after the referendum. They say they're happy with the way the compensation is going individually, but economically it's flat and they need the central government to free up the money. They don't know, and neither do I, why it hasn't started to flow. It's been promised, but it's not here. Without it, businesses can't get off the ground. There are a lot of unemployed people. They need money; they have families to support."

[...]

"This town was built on some big factories. The big factories haven't reopened, and it's been very frustrating. [Fallujah's residents] don't see any progress, they don't see any action. They hear a lot of words, a lot of promises, but not a lot of product."

Uh, Charles, we're years away from an Iraqi army that can hold down Al Anbar. Likewise, Baghdad, its exurbs, Balad and Baquba still have far, far too many car-bombings to be thought of as secure.

Yes, training can definitely vary. [Hopefully that's the link Justin was looking for.]

Charles- What does it feel like to be a loser-defeatist?

I advocate that people who want to hate on Charles Bird take it to Hating on Charles Bird.

The only problem that I can see is that this type of information is reported in a blog and not by the Bush administration and not by the mainstream media.

Well, there's also the problem that people who suggest similar ideas are called "losers" and "defeatists." The good news is that if they give it a few days, their ideas will imediately be adopted by the same people who vilified them.

I think I have read that Kofi Annan has given his blessings on the continuing occupation for more than 6 months, and that the major Iraqi politicians have not called for coalition forces to leave. (I'm not going tpo Google this, Gary). Now I am in no way an expert, but I think if even the UN and Iraq don't want the US out in 6 months, it doesn't make any sense to say we should be out in 6 months.

the major Iraqi politicians have not called for coalition forces to leave

I think this NYTimes article undercuts that assertion, DaveC

About 100 Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders, many of whom will run in the election in December, signed a closing memorandum on today that "demands a withdrawal of foreign troops on a specified timetable, together with an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces," the statement said. "The Iraqi people are looking forward to the day when foreign forces will leave Iraq, when its armed and security forces will be rebuilt and when they can enjoy peace and stability and an end to terrorism."

There's a very basic epistemological problem with this whole story.

Why on *earth* should we take the words of a Marine colonel-- i.e. a mouthpiece for the Administration and its policies-- at face value? Why on earth should we accept them as evidence for, or news of, anything, without independent corroboration?

It is a telling comment on the mindset of the war's defenders that they regard this sort of thing as obviously valid "information" rather than the uncorroborated hearsay it is.

Jackmormon- I took a look at hating on Charles Bird, but I don't think it makes sense for me to post there. For one thing you don't have his latest post up yet. For another, I see pointing out that Charles Bird is a loser-defeatist as 1. integral and essential to the debate 2. I don't feel that by so doing I am hating on Charles Bird.

In fact I am feeling great affection for Charles Bird right now, I think his current post is well above average for its own sake, and is very amusing as a follow up for his last post. I will admit that I would have thought more of him if he hat titled or subtitled this new post: Charles Bird is a loser-defeatist, but I'm finding myself quite happy that he is who he is right now.

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Wow Charles. Just wow.

...
We won't be completely out in 6 months regardless. The Iraqi army has no heavy weapons, tanks, airforce, etc. and thus no ability to credibly defend its borders. It won't have in 6 months either. We don't particularly want them to without a government we like; we don't have the trust in the Iraqi army to allow them tanks while we are unable to withdraw to a handful of bases; and we would like them to get the oil flowing so they could afford to buy these things from us (or maybe at worst from the Russians as a concession for a firm hand wrt Iran).

We'll have ~40k troops there by the end of next summer. We'll tout the paticipation in the Dec. 15th elections, praise the Iraqi forces' readiness, begin draw-downs and declare victory. Where that'll leave Iraq is a pretty open question, but that seems to be a secondary consideration.

So who are you (all) cheering for in the Dec. 15th elections? Suppose I'll root for SCIRI. Everyone loves a winner, right?

Frank--fair enough.

I hesitated on putting up a new post on HoCB since the status of Charles's "Six Months" seemed so uncertain earlier today. Since my recent internet blackout interrupted regular CB coverage, I wondered how useful an instant somewhere-else venting forum was, actually.

What I really want HoCB to be is a place where people can go to be venomous when they're not prepared to admit any charitable feelings, when immediate reaction seems more important than civilized discussion.

I want ObWi to be a place for reasoned debate (even if I don't participate as much as I read); the style of CB's posts has a tendency of creating more heat than light, and so I'm hoping to draw away some of the heat onto HoCB. If that's my goal, I really should provide a link to every CB post, and so I'll be more diligent.

And, Frank, if your attitude was really one of bemusement and affection, it wasn't exactly clear in your 8:10 comment.

Charles: do you honestly believe the things you write?

It's time for someone - I suppose it should be me - to remind people of the Aiken Solution to the Vietnam War. Sometime in the mid-1960s (I want to say 1966, but can't be bothered to look it up) Senator Aiken proposed that the US should just declare victory and come home. He said it in jest (I think), but I've always felt it should have been taken much more seriously than it was. Hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved.

FWIW, the Chinese employed this strategy when they invaded Vietnam in 1979. They drove in from the north, got their noses bloodied (as best we can tell), and after a couple of months pulled out, announcing that they had Taught The Vietnamese A Lesson and therefore had Fulfilled Their Mission. End of war; conveniently confined to the memory hole thereafter.

Count me among those who believes we should get the hell out of Iraq, as soon as practicable, no matter under what pretext, before we kill more. We can sort out the blame afterwards ... or not. I fully expect that 40 years from now we'll still be debating "Who Lost Iraq?", but at least we (well the younger among you) and many Iraqis will be alive to participate in the debate.

"The Iraqi army has no heavy weapons, tanks, airforce, etc. and thus no ability to credibly defend its borders. "

They are getting tanks; some T-72s from, I think, Hungary have already been delivered and were recently used in some sort of parade or review type event.

That said, I have to wonder if they were set up with remote-control explodo-packs that the US could use to disable any that get up to no good.

Right -- Mission Accomplished: Regarding the recent conference attended by current Iraqi leadership:

Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a ``legitimate right'' of resistance.

The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.

* * *

In Egypt, the final communique's attempt to define terrorism omitted any reference to attacks against U.S. or Iraqi forces. Delegates from across the political and religious spectrum said the omission was intentional. They spoke anonymously, saying they feared retribution.

``Though resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism does not represent resistance. Therefore, we condemn terrorism and acts of violence, killing and kidnapping targeting Iraqi citizens and humanitarian, civil, government institutions, national resources and houses of worships,'' the document said. (emphasis added)

And for this, American's are being asked to die. But since this is a "success," they can now go home.

I'm guessing it's about the only thing they do agree on. Bleah.

Well apparently the Bush administration has decided to declare victory and withdraw. The results of the Iraqi National Reconciliation Conference have been made public and they are calling for a timetable for American withdrawal, starting first with withdrawal from the cities, then from the nation itself within two years. The time periods were suggested to them by American officals. Juan Cole has details.

Heads: empire; tails: cut and run?

Slarti, If that is directed at me, I'm sorry, but I don't get it. I am very glad that the Iraqis are seeking a plan for our departure; it gives us an honorable way out. I don't mind if the departure is negotiated by Republicans for Bush. I don't even mind if they call it a sustained commitment or a victory. What I mind is that the administration was planning this departure at the same time that the Republican leadership was orchestrating attacks on any Democrat who suggested that we should be planning a departure. That's dishonest.

Charles might not have any idea what the US should do in Iraq, but I don't think anyone can question his Will to Win.

What I mind is that the administration was planning this departure at the same time that the Republican leadership was orchestrating attacks on any Democrat who suggested that we should be planning a departure.

I think there's a great deal of daylight between beginning the drawdown now and beginning the drawdown when the plan says to do so. "Declare victory and withdraw" is just one side of the heads-I-win-tails-you-lose coin. There are in fact other course of action, such as withdrawing as planned. Not saying we're on that path or anything, just that your wording implies things that you haven't evidenced.

And, to be honest, there's always the possibility of declaring defeat and withdrawing, but I doubt anyone's going to volunteer to step up to the mike for that one.

According to Christopher Allbritton whose story is now subscriber only while order is mantained, there is definitely a powerful movement which controls when the authorities are not there. The loudspeakers in the mosques are evidently used to report where patrols are.

This fairly typical of guerilla war and the danger arises when the pressure is off. Shiite and Kurdish forces are unpopular, it's unclear they have the discipline of the Sunni and we've not yet equipped them well.

Sunni forces are not yet trained and their reliability is questionable.

So I think the situation worrisome.

"I think there's a great deal of daylight between beginning the drawdown now and beginning the drawdown when the plan says to do so."

There's a plan? I mean, a plan that ordinary people can look at, that says things like when we ought to reduce troop levels, what victory is, etc.
'cos I really want to sneak a peek at it if there is. And, if there isn't, I really want to know why Mutha's drawdown isn't 'according to plan', but Charles's is (and, rumors fly about Bush planning a drawdown for '06, to which the same question would apply).

Wu

There's a plan?

That's another question altogether. Given that the military plans for practically every contingency, I'd say yes, there is a plan. Whether that plan is being followed in any important way, well, let me know if you find anything out.

Well, yes, I assume that the military has *operational* plans in place for drawing down troops slowly, or even quickly eg if some emergency should require their presence elsewhere.
But that isn't equivalent to the *political* plan- what force levels we will maintain in Iraq over the next few years based on what criteria (a political decision with military factors). Some among us would doubt that such a political plan even exists, except in the most rudimentary form.

At this point (contra von), I believe that the Administration and it's partisans cannot sweep aside charges of political opportunism. Therefore, they cannot merely ask us to trust their motives, or to believe that their actions are following some plan which has not been revealed.

Im not just saying I don't support that- Im saying that I think the nation doesn't support that anymore. Murtha cannot successfully be labeled a coward or a loser-defeatist for advocating a very similar plan to the adminstration's (or to Charles's) because he isn't adhering to the secret plan (ie he must declare an American victory masterminded by our wise, benevolent leader before cutting and running).

Wu

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