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March 07, 2007


Gotta run, but I think you've got some runaway bolding in the middle there...

Charles: Nice roundup. I especially enjoy Yon’s reporting and wasn’t aware he had new stuff up so thanks.

Thanks Anarch. For some reason, I can't toggle between the "compose" and "edit HTML" modes and it's futzing up my editing.

Charles, good post. Actually your third in a row.

No doubt there are some signs of progress, but they all come with big ifs. If the Iraqi Army can do its job, IF the iraqi police can do their jobs, etc.

BTW, it has been known for a long time that many of the Sunni tribes in Anbar have a strong dislike for al Qaeda. Unfortunately, up until fairly recently, the US has not worked with them all that much.

This is why I believe if we left Iraq, al Qaeda would have a hard time surviving there.

So, once again, the situation in Iraq is turning the corner.

How many times is this now? Aren't we at least one and a half times round the block?

Michael Yon is a good egg. Always brings a valuable perspective.

I'm not sure who this Bing West guy thinks he is though, disagreeing with the Vice-President about the state of affairs in the south.

I haven't commented on The Surge yet, but I guess this is as good a time as any. It seems to me that these stories are passing over two critical points.

The first point is that, although US troops can achieve a measure of security (especially with smart counter-insurgency tactics) wherever they are present, there are still not enough troops to secure all the critical areas of Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle.

The second is that all the brilliant counter-insurgency in the world cannot achieve peace in Iraq. A political solution that is acceptable to Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds is still necessary. Right now, that doesn't seem to be in the cards. It feels like Bosnia circa 1992, where the factions would rather fight than talk.

It's good that the Sunnis are turning against al Qaeda. But if they start using their new militias for retaliatory strikes against Shiites, what's the difference?

I don't have a solution to offer. I still believe that the day US troops leave Iraq will be the day massive, open civil war begins, with ethnic cleansing and a lot of new mass graves. But with the current sectarian climate and our low troop levels, I don't see how we can make things permanently better by staying. And the American people's patience is running out fast.

Geraldo Rivera was there. He’s got a cool mustache.

Uh, yeah. Really edifying. Buhbye now.

Not sure what to make of this , but I'd like to know more. How common are these women's experiences?

Any chance you could cross-post this at Redstate?

Very interesting stuff. It shows that there's potential for making something not-completely-disastrous out of the situation, if we pursued sensible policies.

Unfortunately, we're picking a fight with Iran and pouring more American troops into Baghdad when the problem has nothing to do with lack of American manpower and everything to do with lack of Iraqi manpower and training.

And then, of course, there's the still-extant religious conflict between the Shiite government and the Sunni population. That the Sunnis in Anbar are turning on Al-Qaeda is good news, but is there any indication that they intend to work with Maliki? Or that Maliki intends to do anything but stab the Sunnis in the back as soon as we're not looking, for that matter?

So it's encouraging that there are small glimmers of good news here and there, but it's still a fucking mess in general

One small data point about counterinsurgency: I just spoke with a friend whose son is a Marine lieutenant in Iraq. Part of his job, which includes patrolling an area, is to become acquainted with the locals - actually to talk to them, etc.

He seems to have received no training in Arabic - not even some basic phrases. He did try to learn some on his own from a CD-based course he bought, and this has apparently proven helpful. Wouldn't a couple of weeks spent on this help the troops with this sort of assignment enormously?

Odierno is also a bit of a thug; see Ricks's Fiasco.

Thanks for a solid post Charles.

Any chance you could cross-post this at Redstate?

I did, at the same time as this post, julian. I put it in the blog section and it was ignored.

Wouldn't a couple of weeks spent on this help the troops with this sort of assignment enormously?

Most definitely, Bernard, and we're not just talking about the Army or Marines. The SWJ blog has another entry on the problems at DIA, and the shortage of Arabic speakers is an issue.

"It feels like Bosnia circa 1992, where the factions would rather fight than talk."

No doubt they'll keep fighting, as they try to push the other guys out of various areas and enlarge their areas of control.

At some point, they may feel content with their holdings, or they may reach a stalemate from which they cannot move the lines anymore.

In the meantime, I'm sure each side will try to use us as leverage to help them move the lines a bit. ie, if the Shiite militias are hiding from the US, then they won't be around to defend a neighborhood from the Sunnis. And vice-versa.

Charles writes: " The SWJ blog has another entry on the problems at DIA, and the shortage of Arabic speakers is an issue."

Which gets back to the gay Arab linguists cast into outer darkness.

You know, it just occurred to me. Gay Arabs might well be our *best* potential military recruits.

They'd have language and cultural skills, they'd probably be Christian, secular, or moderate Muslim, they'd have a big incentive to foster moderate, non-theocratic governments in the region, and if the recruiting of gay Arabs were done openly, Islamists would probably not want to join up in order to infiltrate and undermine the effort. Or if they did join up, they might not be able to keep their shit together, thus blowing their cover early on.


Um, just to be clear, when I say "Gay Arabs might well be our *best* potential military recruits." I mean in terms of Arabs, especially natives, not "the best potential recruits among all humans living".


Because gays aren't allowed in the US military: and probably also because the deputy undersecretary of defense, and who knows how many of his underlings, believes that Muslims are idol-worshippers and Satanists, as we know because he said so openly without apology.

As you knew. But it's still a good question. Why is someone allowed to be deputy undersecretary of defense at a time like this when he thinks Muslims are idol-worshippers and Satanists and says so? Why does the US military keep kicking out good soldiers because they're lesbian, gay, or bisexual?

Jes: because the US military believes that there are more important things than winning wars.

It looks like Bush and the Republican Party will be holding the troops hostage until the next election.

I'd be interested to know more about the Brit's failure in the South. Is it now accepted that the Brits failed to deliver?

you mean "stanch" not "staunch" methinks.

"because the US military believes that there are more important things than winning wars."

Such as making sure that the regulation US-34198-P423 Penis, Human is used only with the regulation US-987223-V77 Vagina, Human.

Rumor has it the US-987223-V77 spec. replaced the V76: Vagina, Human, Virginal, when it was found to be an untenable regulation.

A constant righty talking point is the "contrary to what we hear, moral is high." Yet I can't recall any claim to the contrary. My hunch is that this is an invented claim so that some kind of counter-MSM point can be won.

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