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February 23, 2006

Comments

Good post CB, until you had to make your little jab at loser-defeatists.

The Washington Post article you linked to is important. Too bad it took 3 years to start doing something that should have been done from the beginning and may have avoided a lot of this mess.

It is not confirmed, according to CNN that al Qaeda was behind the blast, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were. However, the marriage of convenience between the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda has been showing signs of disintegrating for a while.

What follows is purely opinion. My son did return New Year's Eve. My wife and I were there to greet him and his company, and it was a very stirring sight to see them march in in formation with him leading his troops.

I have not really sat down with him to discuss his time over there, mainly because I want him to have some distance form it as well as to assimilate back into his family.

However, I did ask one question, which was what he expected to ultimately end up happening over there. His answer was very simple, "Civil war." He went on to add that it won't matter how long we are there, be it 5 months, 5 years or 20 years. When we leave, civil war will break out.

This is just one soldier's opinion, based upon his experiences there. I don't expect it to be taken as gospel.

Another side point. At Fort Stewart, Georgia, they have a memprial park with trees planted for each 3ID or attaqched soldier killed in Iraq. Initially it was to be two rows, it is now four and they are working on two more.

My wife, daughter-in-law and myself walked through the area. It was an extremely emotional time as we read the names and saw various mementos left by each tree.

At the end of the walk, my daighter-in-law mentioned how a fellow captian who she and my son are close to thinks they all died in vain. She said my son disagreed, and that he feels they died to protect each other. What is important here is what was not said.

BTW, it is now reported that Sistani is alluding to his own militia getting into the act if the government doesn't do a better job of protecting the shrines and people. That is scarey.

"The Washington Post article you linked to is important."

Mumble, mumble, wrote about it a week ago, sassafrassafrass, no one reads anything I say, rumblemumblerassatass, pfui.

Wouldn't it be nice if Charles proved himself capable of writing an otherwise good post without the compulsive need to soil it with unnecessary, irrelevant Limbaugh-quality partisan shots? I mean, finding the cheap shot in a CB post is like playing Where's Waldo? on the toddler difficulty level. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

Exactly Catsy,

Is your goal to short-circuit reasonable discussion, or is that just a side benefit of dropping such bon mots as "loser defeatist"? A discussion of our impact on Iraq where the options are "we're doing super" and "good, not great" is interesting and all, but then story time is over and the grownups have to figure out what is actually happening and what to best do about it.

No matter how cutting and running is reframed, the policy still remains defeatist

so, what's the alternative? specifics, please - no hand-waving.

The alternative is the Pangloss-Fantasyland position in which failure is impossible, with a special option on the Vizzini gambit in which failure is rendered inconceivable.

Well, perhaps the discussion of rhetorical short-ciruits can go to the site set up for just that purpose?

And John, thanks for posting about your son. I'm glad he's home safe, and send my thanks for his service. As for this:

At the end of the walk, my daighter-in-law mentioned how a fellow captian who she and my son are close to thinks they all died in vain. She said my son disagreed, and that he feels they died to protect each other.

I know these two feelings seem to be in tension, but, though I can't precisely articulate why, I think they need not be.

"Well, perhaps the discussion of rhetorical short-ciruits can go to the site set up for just that purpose?"

Perhaps, although the powers that be at that site have not yet set up a thread as yet. If I may suggest a title: Charles' Posts Are like a Box of Pizza (mentally saying it in a Forrest Gump voice will make it funnier).

Well, that was what I was hinting at, along with the possibility that, in the process of noting that Charles' threads often get derailed by his rhetorical quirks, we not derail the thread.

Wouldn't it be nice if Charles proved himself capable of writing an otherwise good post without the compulsive need to soil it with unnecessary, irrelevant Limbaugh-quality partisan shots?

Saves me the trouble of typing it.

Actually, it would be an oxymoron to state that a post is otherwise good except for the "unnecessary, irrelevant Limbaugh-quality partisan shots." By definition, utilizing such rhetoric automatically makes the post sub-par. From long experience in reading these posts, the fact is that Charles must believe that it enhances his posts to utilize such rhetoric.

Other than rank speculation or wishful thinking, what is the basis for concluding that the mosque atrocity is Al Queda inspired? The attack is entirely consistent with the religious based-nature of the Sunni insuregency, rather than the tactics of an outside group trying to foment a religious conflict. The Sunni insurgency has a long history of religious based attacks, including mosque attacks.

In other words, write a post in which the key issue (the religious nature of the civil war and the mosque attack as a likely extension of it) is instead assumed to not be a fact, and then belittle opposing views with the Limbaughesque rhetoric. Wonderful.

The Sunnis have far more to lose by a sectarian war than the Shiites, and they know this.

Except the Sunnis apparently already believe that this loss is inevitable. They are not fearful of a sectarian conflict that might cause this result -- they already expect that result and are therefore engaging in armed resistance. Duh.

Note the reaction of the main-stream Sunni political parties to the mosque atrocity -- to withdraw from discussions with the Shiite about forming the government. Just the sort of reaction you would expect from a group fearful that outside influences might foment a sectarian civil war that is not yet underway, right?

For those who take the loser-defeatist position that U.S. troops have done all they can, well, they're dead wrong.

"For those who support the deluded Bush positions after three years of having it continually proven to be dead wrong, well, they are sycophant worshipers of the Bush personality cult."

Isn't such rhetoric enlightening. Why, it's just why I come here -- to trade such brickbats.

Spare us the histrionics.

The thing is, what is the purpose of a thread attached to a non-open-thread post? To discuss the content of the post, of course. The rhetorical flatulence with which Charles seems to stink up otherwise good posts are a part of the post, and to the extent that they bring up points of substance, are open to response.

Okay, okay!

--The Powers That Be, who were a bit busy this afternoon.

"From long experience in reading these posts, the fact is that Charles must believe that it enhances his posts to utilize such rhetoric."

I actually assume something different. I think that, since Charles frequently makes the same post at Redstate (I haven't checked to see if he has done that here), the red meat is viewed by Charles as a way of showing his bona fides, as if someone who does not include pointless bashes of liberals as feckless cowards would not be taken seriously there. The fact that the converse is true here seems not to have sunken in to Charles.

"The Sunnis have far more to lose by a sectarian war than the Shiites, and they know this.

Except the Sunnis apparently already believe that this loss is inevitable. They are not fearful of a sectarian conflict that might cause this result -- they already expect that result and are therefore engaging in armed resistance."

I suspect that the opposite of Charles's comment is true. The Sunnis know that they will definitely lose if they do not have a war, as the inevitable result will be an Iraq with 3 largely independent parts, a rich Kurdish area with much oil, a moderately well-off Shi'ite area with substantial oil and control of the Persian Gulf ports, and a Sunni dominated rump of Iraq, without any significant prospects.

On the other hand, given the percentage of Saddam-era military leadership among the Sunnis and the likelihood that most of the missing Iraqi arsenal is in their hands, they think they may be able to win a sectarian war. So a sectarian war may be viewed by them as winnable, and certainly giving them better chances for a negotiated resolution which includes a stronger central government and a share of oil wealth, than trusting democratic processes.

First, sorry for the typos. Hit post instead of preview and my typing was more atrocious than usual.

Gary, I actually do look at what you post every couple of days, but missed that one.

It is important to see that we are finally starting to do some things the right way. Whether or not it is enough, or if it is too late time will tell.

I'll make a comment at the other site, since the PTB got on it, but it is really too bad CB has to toss in those little insults. The main subject matter of the post is very important, and needs to be discussed. The future of Iraq may well depend on the next few days and weeks. And with that is the future of the Middle East.

I used to be a "we broke it, we have to fix it" type of person. Then I became a "we have to get out ASAP" type of person.

If all Hell breaks out in the next few weeks, then we should get out. If it stays at a simmer, maybe we should stay.

Maybe we can do some things better, as Charles alludes to, but can we do those things that are the most necessary, such as broker piece between three major and disparate groups? Can we rebuild the infrastructure?

Maybe we can, but I have grave doubts about being able to do it with those people who are currently running the show.

Gary:

"The Washington Post article you linked to is important."

Mumble, mumble, wrote about it a week ago, sassafrassafrass, no one reads anything I say, rumblemumblerassatass, pfui.

LOL -- sassafras -- such bitter tea. But it worked -- I clicked your link. The concluding paragraph of the article is interesting.

Nor is it clear that McMaster's example [American officer who implemented succesful counter-insurgency tactics in outlying area of Iraq] can be followed elsewhere by American commanders in the country. The biggest problem U.S. troops in Iraq face is Baghdad, a city about 30 times the size of Tall Afar. With the current number of American troops in Iraq, it would be impossible to copy the approach used here, with outposts every few blocks. (emphasis added)

Funny how Charles then concludes that this article shows how the U.S. military has been successfully adapting its operations in Iraq.

Charles -- the US has never had enough troops in Iraq to engage in this type of successful counter-insurgency. This has been a three year old criticism of the Bush war plan which you still ignore. US troops have been needlessly dying in a effort doomed to failure because the Bush administration has chosen political expediency over doing the job right. John Miller's comment above echoes this underlying tension -- reverence for the sacrafice of those who served coupled with the concern that those who committed them to the cause failed to assure that their sacrafice was not in vain. Its a major league scandal that you pretend does not exist.

For those who take the loser-defeatist position that U.S. troops have done all they can, well, they're dead wrong. No matter how cutting and running is reframed, the policy still remains defeatist.

Anyone, especially those in the military, who do not anticipate the possibility of failure and plan accordingly for the possibility are fools.

Those undertaking tasks that have a high possibility of failure and do not have solid measurable goals that provide feedback as to whether they are succeeding or failing are also fools.

Those who cheerlead the military from afar and denounce those that do either of the above are the greatest fools.

I do wonder about the fantasyland Charles lives in. In the real world, of course, it is neither the courage, nor the zeal, nor the professionalism, nor the moral fiber of our troops that is the problem.

It's the number. And unlike everything ELSE the number can't be argued. We have 135,000 troops in Iraq. Five times that many might be able to clamp down on things and make some progress.

As it is -- we're delaying the inevietable. Iraq was a chance for all the armchair Generals of Vietnam to fight the good fight and prove once and for all that it was the peaceniks and commies and liberals that lost it.

Thank God most of them are armchair generals. The real ones know that not all battles are winnable, no matter the rightness of your cause or the sheer numbers of pajama-clad warbloggers feverishly supporting you from their basements.

Here's a hint, Charles: We lost in Iraq the day we invaded. Whatever slim chance we might have had for pulling this off was lost in the flower-strewn fantasies of Rumsfeld and the other architects of this war. They didn't plan for the real world, and US soldiers have been dying for it since.

Your stubborn refusal to leave fantasyland and join the real war doesn't support the troops or justify their sacrifice -- it just ensures more will spend their lives to keep your comforting fantasy intact.

Civil war was always the most likely outcome. All it took to learn that was a brief glance at the region's ethnic makeup and troubled history.

dantheman makes a really good point. From what I recall reading about the new Constitution, its federalist provisions make the status quo a defeat for the Sunni old power-structure. They may indeed to hoping to be able to outgun the Shia--or maybe to pose significant enough a threat that Shia renegotiate some parts of the Constitutional structure.

John Miller, I'm glad to hear that your son is home safely.

Gromit- I want to take a stab at articulating something. Even though all of the soldiers who die in Iraq die in vain in a war that makes us less safe every day that it goes on and leads to more death and hatred in Iraq every day, each of the soldiers who die in Iraq dies defending comrades and upholding the finest traditions of this country.

That is individually their deaths have meaning even though colectively they do not.

Frank, I think that is an appropriate clarification, although obviously many would disagree.

I think my son's fellow Captain was looking at the plurality and my son was looking at the individuals.

BTW, that Captain is in the process of resigning her commission and leaving the Army.

Gary has posted at his place about the increase in commissioned officers leaving the military. I believe that it is the highest since after Vietnam, or close to it.

And the biggest problem is that those leaving are the Captains and Majors who would have formed the future command.

Morat20, the biggest mistake the administration made, which it has always tried to push off on the military leadership was twofold. One was not enough men in the beginning. The second was not even looking at plans that the experts in the State Department had created in how to deal with the aftremath.

It was never a question of us beating the Iraqi Army. That was a given. But this administration was told that without enopugh men to adequately police the entire country, and specially Baghdad and the other major cities, chaos and an insurgency would develop and chose to ignore the experts and instead believe their fantasies.

It's worth remembering that losers and defeatists are sometimes correct. Sometimes people who throw around epithets like "loser-defeatist" are deluded as to the facts, not uncommonly as a result of ideological distortion of their cognitive functioning.

Getting out is not "loser-defeatist" if the alternatives are worse. I personally believe that given the right leadership the US can make things considerably better in Iraq. Of course, given the right leadership things would never have gotten even close to where they are today, but that's another story. The reality of the situation is that it takes more than stubborn persistence to win in Iraq, it requires flexibility, adaptability, adequate resources and realistic goals. The common grunts are improvising as well as they can, and the officers are also adapting. They are limited by the incompetent leadership at home, however, and they are dying because of it. It is not defeatist to point out that if the leaders refuse to engage reality in a way which brings victory then it is better to leave sooner rather than later.

It is the "stay the course" cheering squad that is defeatist, though they'll never acknowledge it. Having failed repeatedly they insist that more of the same will bring success. There are many alternatives to staying the course, and leaving immediately is only one of them. It is popular in some quarters simply because it reduces the ability of the administration to kill troops through incompetence. It's the only strategy that reduces needless casualties without doing the things Bush will never do: fire Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest of the neocons, and hire advisors who know what they are doing. Actual military service would be a big plus, f'rex.

i don't see how anyone can help but be a defeatist, if nobody will provide a realistic definition of winning.

I think the whole "You're a loser-defeatist" thing is irrelevent. Bush will decide what to do. He will almost certainly decide to pull back to bases under the guise of redeployment. He will call it victory. The question is: what will happen to Iraq after Bush pulls back?
Another question: If the situation in Iraq gets worse, will Bush's supporters notice and blame him?

lily,

"Bush will decide what to do. He will almost certainly decide to pull back to bases under the guise of redeployment. He will call it victory."

While I hope you are right, I am not holding my breath. Bush has a knack of avoiding options which are prudent but lack an upside in favor of high-risk gambles. I can easily see him being persuaded that taking the fight to one side (likely the Sunnis) can end the incipient civil war quickly and at little cost, even if the contrary is, of course, probable.

"The question is: what will happen to Iraq after Bush pulls back?"

Likely civil war, until both sides are convinced of either the inevitability of one side winning or of a stalemate to go to the negotiating table on those terms.

"Another question: If the situation in Iraq gets worse, will Bush's supporters notice and blame him?"

Hollow laughter.

If the situation in Iraq gets worse, will Bush's supporters notice and blame him?

It's hard to imagine not hearing choruses of "how come we never hear the good things?" as a way of deflecting said blame.

Pooh,

True. After all, I imagine the schools within the bases we pull back to will receive many coats of paint.

Gromit re John Miller's son: "I'm glad he's home safe, and send my thanks for his service."

Seconded. And I mean both points.

"I know these two feelings seem to be in tension, but, though I can't precisely articulate why, I think they need not be."

Because the latter point is valid, and yet it doesn't necessarily contradict the first point, which is that someone can feel that there was no larger point served on top of the latter point. (And others can feel differently, of course; since each feeling is subjective, the feelings are inarguable; finding purpose in things, as well, tends to be a subjective, not an objective, thing.

"If I may suggest a title: Charles' Posts Are like a Box of Pizza (mentally saying it in a Forrest Gump voice will make it funnier)."

You can get a second one for just a little bit more?

Charles' posts: would you like a delicious beverage with one?

Charles' posts: ask for extra cheese!

Charles' posts: need no added red pepper.

Charles' posts: are they better Chicago style or New York style? Are they best in New Haven?

Charles' posts: still good when digested cold for breakfast?

Okay, I'll stop now, but only because of the threats my mind-reading is detecting.

"The fact that the converse is true here seems not to have sunken in to Charles."

Or it has, but he's showing his priorities; or maybe it's something else. I couldn't say. However, my first assumption would include the notion that Charles believes what he says and largely says what he believes.

JM: "If all Hell breaks out in the next few weeks, then we should get out. If it stays at a simmer, maybe we should stay."

I don't think it's a simple either/or option, and unlike some, I don't think it should be. I'm reluctant to get very much more specific, though, simply because I think I'd need a vastly great grasp of the specific current details to be able to be wise in making much more specific recommendations (and I say that with the suspicion that I'm perhaps apt to grasp the details available from open sources as to what the situation is in Iraq as well as anyone else here). Generally speaking, though, moving forward on drawing down, while utilizing counter-insurgency approaches such as that described, as we do so, is a generality that I can stand by. But I don't think it's all that useful to say something so very generalized, either, although it does establish some differences of approach from some.

But, then, I have no idea what specifics Charles has in mind, either, and I'm a tad suspicious that he might, possibly, not be the military/political expert to best look to for many wise specifics, in any case.

Morat20: "We have 135,000 troops in Iraq. Five times that many might be able to clamp down on things and make some progress."

That would have been a useful point in 2003. By 2004, not so much; by 2005, even less; by now, forget about it. It's the most banal cliche by now to say that it's going to have to be up to the Iraqis to solve it, but that's because it's ultimately true. All we can do, at best, is help and support any competent and non-overly-sectarian branches of Iraqi government that are available, but only insofar as they are given true power by the Iraqi government.

Given that Moktada al-Sadr controls his 32 votes of the Shiite coalition, and put Jaafari back in power, and given the current sectarian control of the Interior ministry, and the highway patrol, and Basra, and other forces, this is problematic.

"Here's a hint, Charles: We lost in Iraq the day we invaded."

I'm not clear, myself, that this is true. But whether it is or isn't, it's long been irrelevant to the contemporary military/political situation in Iraq, for any given point of "contemporary," regardless.

JackMormon: "From what I recall reading about the new Constitution, its federalist provisions make the status quo a defeat for the Sunni old power-structure."

I don't think that's at all inherently true, though it makes it a probability. But in my read it's clearly a matter of how the government and the major parties making up the government, choose to implement and interpret the Constitution, rather than that the Constitution absolutely mandates a bad outcome for the Sunnies. The final Constitution simply kicked a lot of vital points down the road. Again, that Sadr has wound up such a powerful fulcrum point doesn't seem, shall we say, entirely as helpful as it might be to the kind of outcome we'd prefer to see.

John Miller again: "Gary has posted at his place about the increase in commissioned officers leaving the military. I believe that it is the highest since after Vietnam, or close to it."

You refer to this.

But see also, just this past week, (less importantly, and faintly more amusingly, in a slightly bitter sort of way, but also not insignificantly, this.

cleek-by-another-name: "i don't see how anyone can help but be a defeatist, if nobody will provide a realistic definition of winning."

I can provide several possible definitions of "winning." How realistic they are is debatable, but I'd only offer those that seem at least faintly realistic -- meaning "possible," not necessarily meaning "likely."

I still, myself, don't regard myself as sufficiently competent enough seer to be remotely sure what Iraq will be like in three years or in five years (which is what I've said all along). I continue to be impressed with all those, of whatever ideology and predilection, who are so vastly smarter about this than I am.

Frank: each of the soldiers who die in Iraq dies defending comrades and upholding the finest traditions of this country.

Not all of them, I'm sorry to say. Too many civilians shot at checkpoints, too many Iraqis kicked around and humiliated in their homes during raids, too many abused in detention for all of the soldiers and Marines to be upholding the finest traditions of this country.

I'm done with painting them all with the 'hero' brush. The top-down abandonment of command responsibility, the hideous realities of counterinsurgency war, the increasing exodus of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, endless stop-loss and third (!) rotations into hell mean that unit discipline is more and more likely to break down.

Here's just one example.

Gary,

The "Like a Box of Pizza" comment was meant to set up a straight line, but no one bit. The punch line was that you always know what's inside (contrary to Forrest Gump's box of chocolates).

I can provide several possible definitions of "winning."

i think this thread would be a good place to list a few! (the realistic ones only, of course)

John Miller- Thanks I am glad you weren't offended.

Nell- Not that you are wrong exactly but I wouldn't tell anyone grieving over a lost loved one that they might have been one of the few bad eggs. (I say few because I think if they were a signifigant fraction we would be in even worse shape than we are now, with most of the bad guys at the top.)

Rusty Shackleford Says:

March, 2003

Liberal: “Don’t start a war in Iraq, it’s a bad idea and it will go horribly wrong.”

Conservative: “You’re a French-loving liberal defeatist! We’re going to be greeted as liberators with flowers and candy!”

Liberal: “Uh, no we’re not.”

Conservative: “Yes we are. My buddy Curveball says it will be a cakewalk and Chalabi has guaranteed me the oil revenues will pay for everything!”

Liberal: “Uh, no it won’t. But, if you insist on going, please take enough soldiers like Gen Shinseki suggested so we can provide some security after the invasion.”

Conservative: “Enough soldiers? Hell, we could pull off this job with the F-Troop. By the way, why do you hate America?”

Liberal: “I don’t hate America. While you were busy stovepiping intelligence I was reading Sun Tzu. His first rule of war is ‘know thine enemy.’”

Conservative: “As Cheney said to Leahy, “Go fvck yourself!”

Meanwhile, almost 3 years later…

HEADLINE: IRAQ ON THE BRINK OF CIVIL WAR AFTER SECTARIAN VIOLENCE

Conservative: “Who woulda thunk it?”

Liberal: “Well,...”

Conservative: “Shut up you Al Qaeda loving traitor – YOU WANTED THIS TO HAPPEN!”

Liberal: “I didn’t want this to happen. I didn’t know this would happen. But I had a pretty good idea of what might happen and tried to tell you so.”

Conservative: “Why do you hate the troops and America?”

February 23rd, 2006 at 8:53 am

"...mean that unit discipline is more and more likely to break down. Here's just one example."

That's not loss of unit discipline; that's bad doctrine, and a failure by the responsible officer, and by his superiors.

I'm not saying there aren't any failures of unit discipline; I'm just saying that's not an example of one. (I also read the article when it appeared more than a week ago, but I'm sure not everybody has.)

Gosh, let's see what the official GOP blog has to say today about the tumultuous events in Iraq.

More news today that Iraq is closer to recovery: The New York Times reports “mail carriers at 349 post offices across Iraq hand-deliver thousands of letters, to greetings so warm that they often include dances and high-pitched warbles of sheer joy… The mail also offers evidence of recovery. In 2001, before the American invasion, Iraqis sent 148 tons of mail…In 2003, the year of the invasion, the figure plummeted to 37 tons. But it has been rising ever since, with Iraqis sending 43 tons in 2004 and 54 tons last year, according to post office statistics.”

That's right, on a day when at least 100 Iraqis have died in sectarian violence, 7 U.S. soldiers are dead, and mosques are being attacked across the nation, the only thing the official blog of the GOP has to say is that the postal service has progressed to the point where it delivers a full 1/3 of the volume of letters it delivered before the invasion.

But remember, if you don't agree with the Republican party line on Iraq, you're a "loser-defeatist." A useful reminder of how things stand.

It takes either a certain perspective, or a certain lack of imagination, to describe 100+ civilians dragged out of mosques and buses and shot, bodies turning up in ditches with their hands tied behind their backs, as "restraint." I mean, it could have been worse--there could have been more killings. But, God.

Good news:

Ack!

Good news: http://healingiraq.blogspot.com>Zeyad's posting again. Bad news: it sounds pretty grim. Even more disturbing than the Samarra posts, in a way, is the one preceding them, entitled "Avoiding Iraqi Death Squads For Dummies."

I was just about to link to Zeyad. My prayers would go with him, but he has abandoned religion, and God has abandoned me.
Just kidding. I do worry about the int'l Iraqi bloggers attracting attention, but perhaps that only reflects my ignorance of the facts on the ground.

What can be said? I have seen little evidence that the Sunni/Shia relationship has done anything but get worse over the last year, and I see no reason to believe it will improve any time soon. An "insurgency" seems to be an inadequate analysis.

It was not good news that Sistani is threatening to activate his own militia, even if only to protect the shrines.
...
And please, it is impolite to point out Charles' nervous ticks. I thank him for a decent post, and for keeping the blog active during hilzoy's absence.

"Gosh, let's see what the official GOP blog has to say today about the tumultuous events in Iraq."

Okay, let's. Howzabout you link to it?

Katherine: "It takes either a certain perspective, or a certain lack of imagination, to describe 100+ civilians dragged out of mosques and buses and shot, bodies turning up in ditches with their hands tied behind their backs, as "restraint'."

This is a comment on?

Could people maybe quote what they're responding to? Maybe it's just me who has no idea what this comment is in response to. (Yes, I'm aware of the reports on the shootings in Iraq: but what comment here is this in response to? What comment about what "restraint"? Who said it? A find doesn't turn up anyone, and it obviously can't be Charles' post, since the news about the shootings didn't happen until about 6-7 hours after his post.)

Gary, I'm guessing that Steve genuinely meant to link to this post at gop.com and goofed. I'm pretty sure that Katherine was indeed responding directly to Charles' original post, specifically the statement that the predominant response has been anger and--for the most part--restraint.

John,
Glad your son's back safe and sound, and by all means, keep us updated.

so, what's the alternative? specifics, please - no hand-waving

The hands are down, cleek

1. Have the other American and coalition divisions adopt the techniques of the 3rd ID
2. Keep bringing more Iraqi troops up to Level 2 status or better, because that will be a guide for American troop levels
3. Help keep the fledgling Iraqi government together, with big doses of Khalilzad and Abizaid
4. More reconstruction (and construction)

To name four quick ones. The above means continued involvement, not withdrawal. I know this may too generalized for some.

A general comment. I was deliberately harsh about the idea of our pulling troops out unilaterally because I feel very strongly that such an act would be catastrophic for Iraq and would set us back years (perhaps dozens of years) in the War Against Militant Islamism. Opinions by others here may differ, and I accept that. I also accept that my undiluted opinions may not be taken well by left-of-center readers, so I ask you to indulge me a little from time to time. Anyone who has read me the past year or so may observe that I have taken more heat out of my posts since I've been here, but sometimes an issue does crank me up. Inserting "loser-defeatist" may look like a gratuitous shot to some. To me, it's not. I put it in there because the issue is too important to let pass, and I think it's a disservice to let some politicians try to repackage a terrible idea by calling it something else.

The attack is entirely consistent with the religious based-nature of the Sunni insuregency...

Why would it be in the non-Islamist Sunni interests to blow up Shiite mosques, dm? Sunni political groups were engaged in the process, now one has dropped off until they get an apology and other assurances. The Sunnis are a 20% minority. They will lose if they choose civil war, especially since most of the oil is in the Shia and Kurdish controlled regions. By staying, they at least have a say and a piece of the oil wealth. The practical ones have seen that.

Charles -- the US has never had enough troops in Iraq to engage in this type of successful counter-insurgency.

I agree, dm. That's why it's so important to get as many Iraqi troops as possible to Level 2 status or better.

Here's a hint, Charles: We lost in Iraq the day we invaded.

I respectfully disagree, Morat. The blundering planning and execution cost us, but it's far from over.

However, my first assumption would include the notion that Charles believes what he says and largely says what he believes.

Thank you, Gary, for making that assumption the first one.

Why would it be in the non-Islamist Sunni interests to blow up Shiite mosques, dm? Sunni political groups were engaged in the process, now one has dropped off until they get an apology and other assurances. The Sunnis are a 20% minority. They will lose if they choose civil war, especially since most of the oil is in the Shia and Kurdish controlled regions.

That is eminently logical, but I don't think that logic rules the day in Iraq. I've ragged on you quite a bit about glossing over Sunni/Shiite differences (as well as all the implications about who that means we ally with) so I won't go into detail, except to note it in passing.

I appreciate your defense of your rhetoric, though the point that posting the same thing in two (or three?) different places is something you should think about, rather than suggest that the audience here is a bit squeamish. Being harsh about the idea of withdrawing is not the same as labeling those who support such a strategy as 'loser-defeatists'. If you had basically taken the main point from the defense of your rhetoric and left out the l-d comment, the piece would have been much better. I seem to recall that you expressing great umbrage at being called a 'hack' over at Tacitus and the defense that it is a heartfelt comment would be equally applicable to those who did the labelling.

But again, thank you for the link filled post.

http://kurtnimmo.com/?p=243

IT WASN'T THE SUNNIS, it was a black op orchestrated by israel and the USA! See link above, also -
Pentagon-Controlled Iraqi National Guard Implicated in Samarra Mosque Bombing see

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/february2006/240206Samarra.htm

"BTW, it is now reported that Sistani is alluding to his own militia getting into the act if the government doesn't do a better job of protecting the shrines and people."

John, Sistanti doesn't have a militia. What you are vaguely alluding to is that his most recent statement said "the believers" will protect themselves if the government does not, which is taken as a hint that he might create a militia.

"IT WASN'T THE SUNNIS, it was a black op orchestrated by israel and the USA!"

I -- an agent of the Straussian neocon have to confess (it's our Straussian neocon way): I (a Straussian neocon) -- on orders of the Straussian neocon did my Straussian neocon best to Straussian neoconally do Straussian neoconian bombing. To Straussian neoconally benefit the Straussian neocons. But my Straussian neocon Mossad handler won't Straussian neoconally allow me to Straussian neoconally say any Straussian neoconistially more. Because of our Straussian neoconian orders. From Straussian neocons.

From Jews.

If Sistani doesn't have a militia, he has been exceptionally restrained. Both of those conditions are quite possible, but Sistani has been able to mobilize very large-scale protests before. Katherine linked to Zeyad's blog above; he posted a photo he claimed represented Sistani's followers in a "non-violent protest": they were carrying some interesting armaments. I wouldn't call John's description inexact, although if Sistani's followers (who might be rather diverse in their allegiance) were to become a militia in the negative sense of the term, it would really be a bad sign.

Why would it be in the non-Islamist Sunni interests to blow up Shiite mosques, dm? Sunni political groups were engaged in the process, now one has dropped off until they get an apology and other assurances. The Sunnis are a 20% minority. They will lose if they choose civil war, especially since most of the oil is in the Shia and Kurdish controlled regions. By staying, they at least have a say and a piece of the oil wealth.

Few of the Sunnis seem to think this way. Most of them support the insurgency, even if they are also participating in the political process. They have little expectation of participating in the oil wealth or of having much of a say. Also, the non-Islamic former-Saddam faction of Sunni would clearly attack Shia mosques in order to force a broader war. It is a basic tactic of guerilla warfare to force conflict by taking such extreme acts -- it prevents lukewarm Sunnis from sitting on the fence. It undermines the legitimacy of the fledging government. It provokes Shia atrocity which drives more Sunni into the insurgency. It seems patently obvious that Sunni insurgents would blow up Shia mosques.

Note that in response, many of the Shia are attacking Sunni mosques. Why do you find it so hard to believe that attacks on the other group's mosques is an aspect of the dispute? There is no particular reason to ascribe it to outsiders except a false hope that the conflict is not rooted in the Sunni/Shia conflict.

As for training Iraqis to fight the insurgency, there are already ample Iraqi forces to fight the iunsurgency -- they just happen to be Shia militia. They are already fighting it in the old-fashioned Iraqi way -- death squads, torture, and other atrocities. Any troops that we are training are going to be absorbed into the sectarian divide -- believing that a non-sectarian Iraqi army can be trained is not realistic. Who is controling the newly trained Iraqi units? The Shia who are in control, which just makes the new Iraqi forces another part of the sectarian war.

The point here is to be real about what is actually happening, instead of what we wish would happen. Our power to affect the conflict has essentially hit zero. The opportunity to engage in construction or reconstruction is gone -- there is too much insecurity to pursue that.

Particularly laughable is the recent Khalilzad appeal for the disbanding of sectarian militias. In 2003 we disbanded the secular army and allowed the religious militias to retain their arms -- they were in fact used to help maintain order due to the lack of US forces to do the job. They are now an integral part of the Iraqi power scheme -- we no longer have the power to disband them. Reap what you sow -- the situation now appears irreperable.

"John, Sistanti doesn't have a militia."

Sistani Threatens to Turn to Militia" Gotta have a link I guess, not just a quote. Sigh.

"Astonishingly, Sistani seems to be threatening to deploy his own militia, Ansar Sistani..." ...Juan Cole

I guess I need multiple sources before I understand "deploy" or recognize that Ansar Militia is attached to a mosque or something, and Cole got it wrong. Whatever.

Wait! Gary said "Sistanti". Who is he? "Sistanti doesn't have a militia".

Like "Indira Ghandi" over at Unfogged.

Unfortunately, it's probably worse than Sunni vs. Shia in Iraq. The racial divides between Kurd, Turkmen, Arab, and Persian probably also count for some divides. Neighborhood affiliation also counts for something, if Zeyad's linked posts predict any actual behavior.

I was a little curious myself. Couldn't find much.

"The vacuum has been filled by the Badr Brigades, controlled by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; and militia close to Iraq's establishment Shiite hierarchy who sometimes call themselves the Helpers

[Ansar, also translated as companions, I think]

of Sistani, after Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, a moderate and Iraq's most widely respected cleric." CSM, April 12,2004
,,,
"perhaps also some tribal levies called Ansar Sistani because of their loyalty to the Grand Ayatollah will be detailed to keep the peace there" ...Juan Cole, 8/10/2005
...
"Tribal levies?" I remember Sistani having a relationship to southern tribes, but little more.

We'll learn something, at least, during the Friday prayers. Either the whole thing will blow open then into Lebanon-style violence, or we'll hope that the former can still be forstalled.

Could people maybe quote what they're responding to? Maybe it's just me who has no idea what this comment is in response to. (Yes, I'm aware of the reports on the shootings in Iraq: but what comment here is this in response to? What comment about what "restraint"? Who said it? A find doesn't turn up anyone, and it obviously can't be Charles' post, since the news about the shootings didn't happen until about 6-7 hours after his post.)

From Charles' post: Bill Roggio is looking for signs of civil war, and notes that the next few days and weeks are critical moments. Since the likely culprit was al Qaeda, and since most Iraqis know that al Qaeda wants civil war, the predominant response has been anger and--for the most part--restraint. [Bolding mine.]

As batty as you tend to get over the habits, word usage, grammatical shortfalls, and, well, everything, of other people, you could afford to be marginally more careful before you go off on these tangential rants, Gary.

CB, it's not outlandish to say that the Japanese lost WWII when they attacked Pearl Harbor, although in, say 1944, it wasn't over by a long shot. But it was clearly not winnable.

I've no doubt that individual Japanese citizens who expressed this view in 1944 were widely considered loser defeatists, at the least. Probably also heretics (I'm not sure how sincerely felt the worship of the Emperor really was).

On the subject of the Iraqi national army, I will revert, in shorthand, to prior points made, the validity of which seems only countered by wishful thinking: (1) Robert E. Lee and (2) Saddam Hussein.


[For those of you not familiar with my arguments, point 1 refers to the human tendency to prefer the narrower definition of identity to the broader, and the likelihood that very significant numbers of the new Iraqi army will be more loyal to sect/ethnicity than to nation. I suppose there may be plenty of us who consider Gen. Lee to have been a traitor, and a loser defeatist to boot, but the fact is that he had a difficult choice to make, and made it in a way we can expect many thousands of Iraqi soldiers to make it as well, despite the best training and intentions of outsiders. Point 2 refers to the idea that the creation of a national army unmoored from Shiite control -- ie not infiltrated by the Badr Corps -- is likely the only path to Sunni power in Iraq. It won't be soon, but the new model army, if it gets over the Lee problem, will provide the strongman who can hold Iraq together. That is, Lee and Hussein and the only items, really, on the menu. There's no George Washington, and as much as CB or anyone else might wish there was one -- as much as he (or the people over there) might wish to be Lafayette or Rochambeau -- we can't make one.]

Gotta run, but can't help leaving you all with the thought that the Ben Franklin here is -- Grand Ayatollah Sistani.

Except he's not, you know, flirting his way through Paris.

Except he's not, you know, flirting his way through Paris.

Don't be so sure.

I actually assume something different. I think that, since Charles frequently makes the same post at Redstate

And in fact, he has posted this as a diary there. It's no surprise, he's a redstate diarist who accidentally seems to post stuff here sometimes.

It's just a shame the actual Obsidian Wings posters are busy.

"And in fact, he has posted this as a diary there. It's no surprise, he's a redstate diarist who accidentally seems to post stuff here sometimes."

If these posts are accidents, I'd hate to see what an intentional post of his looks like.

By the way, thank you, lj, for your comment time stamped 11:26 PM last night, which expressed similar responses to Charles's comments in far less inflammatory language than I would have, had I been awake and on line at that point.

Being harsh about the idea of withdrawing is not the same as labeling those who support such a strategy as 'loser-defeatists'.

LJ, note that I did not do such a thing here. I called the policy "loser-defeatist", not the people.

I seem to recall that you expressing great umbrage at being called a 'hack' over at Tacitus

I recall expressing umbrage on several matters, LJ, but "hack" was not one of them.

Regarding my use of the word "restraint", I have a new post.

I called the policy "loser-defeatist", not the people.

and you linked to the post about Murtha where that topic was discussed quite extensively. Not wanting to play the ghost of Christmas past, except to note that there was a lot of confusion in that thread and thoughtfulness would tend to dictate that you avoid raising it. As I noted, if you had simply taken your defense of your comments, excised the loser-defeatist label and put them there, the post would have been much better. That you don't do this is completely baffling to me. Civil conversation does not allow a pass because you feel strongly about something, and to claim that you are talking about a policy rather than the people who support such a policy is not a way that I would suggest standing up for one's views.

As for the question of hack, I may be wrong, but I remember there were several rather passionate debates over there concerning the word, so if you weren't involved in them, my apologies.

LJ, note that I did not do such a thing here. I called the policy "loser-defeatist", not the people.

Horseflop. I can play too: You're not a fascist you are just expressing fascist ideas.

(Yes, I know, rheotorical excess, 2 minutes in the sin bin. Sorry.)

And no, I'm not actually of the opinion that Charles is expressing 'fascist ideas'. But we can play the Silly Label Game all we want. I don't think we'll accomplish much beyond mudslinging, so how about we leave even the unleavened cheap shots alone?

Frank: I wouldn't tell anyone grieving over a lost loved one that they might have been one of the few bad eggs.

Nor would I. But we're in a blog discussion. And, for the sake of meaningful political discourse, it's past time to face facts: this war turns good eggs into bad, at an increasing rate.

I'm thankful and impressed at the willingness of John's son and so many others to serve. Sadly, though, the nature of this undertaking is such that very little good can come of it, inevitably outweighed by much bad. This was true even in 2003, when the balance was closer. Now the imbalance is vastly greater.

The harm is inflicted in both directions: on the people and country of Iraq, and on the people serving in the U.S. military.

"John, Sistanti doesn't have a militia."

Sistani Threatens to Turn to Militia" Gotta have a link I guess, not just a quote. Sigh.

"Astonishingly, Sistani seems to be threatening to deploy his own militia, Ansar Sistani..." ...Juan Cole

I guess I need multiple sources before I understand "deploy" or recognize that Ansar Militia is attached to a mosque or something, and Cole got it wrong. Whatever.

No, Bob, you got Cole wrong. Read the rest of what he wrote: "...and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani threatening to create a paramilitary to protect Shiites."

Like I said. There is no "Ansar Militia." It's a name Cole is making up that he's suggesting would be the name of the presently non-existent Sistani militia that Sistanti is hinting he would create.

Cole: "But all we need in Iraq is yet another powerful private sectarian militia!"

Hope this helps clarify things. Feel free to look into it further; I'm sure you wouldn't want to carry on with such an important misunderstanding.

Wait! Gary said "Sistanti". Who is he? "Sistanti doesn't have a militia".

Like "Indira Ghandi" over at Unfogged.

Thank you for catching my typo; I hate when I mis-type someone's name! "Ghandi" is generally not a typo, but is commonly believed by many to be the real name/spelling of the Mahatma, and of the Indira Gandhi dynasty; it's been an omnipresent misspelling for many decades. "Results 1 - 10 of about 2,490,000 English pages for ghandi." (Similarly to the omnipresent "Tolkein" or "Azimov" or "Leguin.")

"Sistanti," however, is a typo, and rare and uncommon: "Results 1 - 10 of about 318 English pages for sistanti"

But I do hate to render anyone's name wrong, so please do call any case of it to my attention should you seen one, and I will be most grateful! Thanks again.

"...Sistani militia that Sistanti is hinting he would create."

D'oh!

Jackmormon: "If Sistani doesn't have a militia, he has been exceptionally restrained."

As is common knowledge. It's what he's famous for, of course.

"Both of those conditions are quite possible, but Sistani has been able to mobilize very large-scale protests before."

Quite so. Peaceful protesters of his followers. This is one of the most basic facts of the Iraqi situation of the post-invasion situation.

"I wouldn't call John's description inexact, although if Sistani's followers (who might be rather diverse in their allegiance) were to become a militia in the negative sense of the term, it would really be a bad sign."

Precisely. That's why Juan Cole was correctly pointing with alarm at this overt hint from Sistani.

dmbeaster: "Few of the Sunnis seem to think this way. Most of them support the insurgency, even if they are also participating in the political process."

It's important to be fine-grained here. See the polling data from a couple of weeks ago. Fuller data here. Nitty-gritty here. 88% of Sunnis support attacks on U.S. forces (and 41% of Shia and 16% of Kurds), but overall 47% of Iraqis support attacks on U.S. forces, but only 7% support attacks on Iraqi-government 4% and only only 1% of Iraqis support attacks on Iraqi civilians.

Which is why the case for non-slow withdrawal of U.S. forces, at the very least from engaging in Iraqi populated areas, is so compelling.

"As batty as you tend to get over the habits, word usage, grammatical shortfalls, and, about saying that the Shiite response had been "restrained" on the grounds well, everything, of other people, you could afford to be marginally more careful before you go off on these tangential rants, Gary."

Phil, as I pointed out, Katherine couldn't legitimately have been yelling at Charles in her post at 8:30 p.m. on the 23rd as regards this: "It takes either a certain perspective, or a certain lack of imagination, to describe 100+ civilians dragged out of mosques and buses and shot, bodies turning up in ditches with their hands tied behind their backs, as 'restraint'" -- because those killings in Iraq only hit the U.S. newswires at somewhere between 5-7 p.m., whereas Charles posted his post (above) with the "restraint" remark at 12:27 PM.

Clearly, yelling at Charles for not having seen 5-7 hours into the future would not be reasonable. So I assumed Katherine was referring to some other comment. (More likely, it now would seem, is that she simply either didn't note the time of Charles's post, or was unaware that the news of that mass killing had only hit the U.S. news about an hour before she wrote, and was unaware she was criticizing Charles unfairly in this case.)

I, of course, explained this in shorter version in the comment you are replying to.

I wrote: "...What comment about what 'restraint'? Who said it? A find doesn't turn up anyone, and it obviously can't be Charles' post, since the news about the shootings didn't happen until about 6-7 hours after his post."

Phil: "...you could afford to be marginally more careful before you go off on these tangential rants, Gary."

Mm.

"Point 2 refers to the idea that the creation of a national army unmoored from Shiite control -- ie not infiltrated by the Badr Corps -- is likely the only path to Sunni power in Iraq."

Just to point out that the problem largely isn't so much Badr/Dawa/Sadr infiltration of the Army, but of the police, the Interior Ministry, and the Highway Patrol. The problem of Shiite militia in the Army is considerably and significantly less severe than it is in those other, equally important, organizations (as well as geographically in the South and the Basra region, in particular, and of course in Sadr City, and some other geographic locales).

Gary, either you have an unwarranted belief in the accuracy of everything I write, or you are being really freaking passive aggressive. I read the post a while after the news wire pieces, and I didn't think to check the time stamps. Charles, I apologize for the error.

"Gary, either you have an unwarranted belief in the accuracy of everything I write, or you are being really freaking passive aggressive. I read the post a while after the news wire pieces, and I didn't think to check the time stamps."

I wrote: "(More likely, it now would seem, is that she simply either didn't note the time of Charles's post, or was unaware that the news of that mass killing had only hit the U.S. news about an hour before she wrote, and was unaware she was criticizing Charles unfairly in this case.)"

Is there some contradiction here?

De nada, Katherine.

sorry, I somehow missed that.

In general, people make errors in casual conversation, and while corrections are fine and good, you have this tendency to talk to us as if you're their sixth grade teacher grading compositions instead of actually responding to what we say. People use pronouns, forget to check post time stamps, don't always quote the exact thing they're replying to, make typos--it happens. We should all do these things less, but...when you have conversations with your friends about politics, what % of the time do you spend correcting their grammar?

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