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April 04, 2007


Even if the "breathing-space" hasn't yet led to political progress, the combination of reduced militia activity and greater security might be a good in itself. It might give Baghdad residents the sense that they don't need to have their own private armies patrolling the streets in order for them to have increased security. In this respect, I think that it doesn't really matter if the militias are just "lying low" for now. Their appeal is reduced every day that they don't run checkpoints and no bombs (or fewer bombs) explode.

I think that the Iraqis have concluded that the best solution is genocide.

There is no need to wait to see if the surge will succeed, as its failure is a certainty. Think strategy, not tactics. For Iraq to become a stable democracy, two strategic-level problems must be overcome:

1. The divisions between Kurd, Sunni, and Shiite must be healed.

2. Iraqis must develop confidence in each other's respect for the rule of law.

Without a solution to these problems, Iraq can never develop a stable democracy. The surge addresses neither problem; therefore it is a waste of effort. In effect, the surge is a finger on a hole in an aorta. It keeps the patient alive but solves nothing. We fired the shot that made the hole in the aorta; at this point, the best thing we can do is remove our finger, let the patient that was Iraq die, and permit something new to arise from the firestorm that will follow. You can be certain that whatever does arise will be a bad thing.

I'm a big fan of the idea that letting them know we're fixing to pull out, even though the date isn't written in stone yet, sends the right message in terms of pushing them to pursue a reconciliation while time still permits.

Conversely, I think Bush's plan to stay as long as we need to sends exactly the wrong message.

I visited the market in my sleepy suburban
hamlet yesterday for my weekly grocery shopping.

An advance team preceded me and secured the area. The adjoining stores were searched and the owners interrogated. The parking lot was cleared of shoppers' cars and swept for mines. Dozens of snipers positioned themselves along the rooftops. The sky was black with helicopter gunships.

I arrived at high-speed in an armored humvee, screeching to a halt directly adjacent to the front door. My personal guards hustled me (helmeted, kevlared from neck to foot, gasmasked, grenaded, communications headset in place in case I had to communicate with home regarding the desirability of skim versus 2% milk, eyes sheilded by cool reflective sunglasses with night-vision capabilities) through the door and we proceeded to the dairy case, each aisle of the store secured as we went by Blackwater Special Forces personnel.

I secured the gallon of milk (skim), placed it in my armored grocery cart and we hustled to checkout, radios crackling and armed escorts exchanging hand signals.

We paid quickly and then the young girl (she must have been 17 and had braces) broke the tense silence with a question: "Paper or plastic?" Our hearts stopped and time seemed suspended. What could this mean?

Then, instantly, from everywhere and nowhere at once, hundreds of U.S. soldiers appeared and fell into place as one, some belaying from the ceiling, others coming up through the floor, all camoflaged, and trained their automatic weapons, grenade launchers, anti-personnel devices, on the girl.

Not a breath was breathed for an eternity.
The girl innocently held her ground, blinking back tears, her orthodonture gleaming. Finally, I croaked out "Paper" and one soldier, gingerly took the bag from the girl and another placed the milk inside and we evacuated the area and sped away as we had come, engines roaring, tank gunbarrels swivelling, to return home and watch American Idol.

We forgot the beer and cheetos.

John McCain and Mike Pence and the entire phalanx of happy talkers are correct in their assessment. Baghdad is just as safe, peaceful and sedate as my hometown.

I agree with both Julian and Steve.

For all the complaints about the MSM not covering the good things that are happening, ABC had a segment last night on how many areas of Baghdad are settling down, due to the presence of increased troops. They interviewed many Iraqis who appera to be more relaxed and doing everyday things, including on Haifa Street which has been notorious for violence in the past.

How mush this uncertain peace will melt support from the militias awaits to be seen. Ancd how much it tends to gain support for the government also awaits to be seen. My personal opinion is that this period of peacefulness will last as long as the American presence is high, and disappear as soon as it isn't. However, just perhaps there is that chance for it to work.

BTW, I am tired of hearing about about counter insurgency tactics, primarily because I don't see the biggest issue being an insurgency, but rather a civil war with neither side being governmental.

In regards to what Steve said, I have stated for a long time now that Iraq only tends to progress when pushed by timetables. As my brother once so eloquently said, placing a withdrawal date on the table tells them it is "Time to S**t or get off the pot."

I agree with John Thullen. I always do.

I'd suggest he run for President, but I think National Treasure would probably be more appropriate.

via John Cole:

    A newborn baby was one of at least 14 children and adults killed when a suicide bomber detonated a lorry laden with explosives close to a primary school in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk yesterday.

    The latest massacre of Iraqi children came as 21 Shia market workers were ambushed, bound and shot dead north of the capital. The victims came from the Baghdad market visited the previous day by John McCain, the US presidential candidate, who said that an American security plan in the capital was starting to show signs of progress.

heckofajob, Johnny: your little stunt painted a big bullseye on that market.

"heckofajob, Johnny: your little stunt painted a big bullseye on that market."

Sadly, this is probably exactly why it was hit.

But expect it to be spun very soon as an argument that everything is actually improving (e.g. that this was just a publicity stunt of the Last Throes kind).

Off Topic: Had to flag this one, Moe Lane answers the question of whether it really and truly is Bizzaro World.

I agree with John Thullen. I always do.

So do I, when I can understand him (:

Re: the Iraq war in general

(also see this post)

Ever since the months prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there have been a few reports in the newspapers that the Central Intelligence Agency was casting aspersions on the intelligence the White House was relying on to justify the war. The CIA has never given a position on whether the war is needed or justified or said that Bush is wrong to go to war. But doesn't it seem much more likely that the CIA is an extremely right wing organization than a left wing one? After all, even if the people working for them and at least a lot of the leadership really wanted a war for their own reasons, there are a lot of reasons for them to not want to tie their credibility to what they know is faulty information. They and their personnel, present and former, could use other means of promoting the Iraq war, and still be motivated to make the statements in the media. If the CIA got behind faulty information, they would have to make a choice between whether they would be involved in scamming the American people and the world once the military had invaded Iraq and no weapons were found- so: 1) Imagine the incredible difficulties involved in pulling off a hoax that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Imagine all the people you would have to be able to show the weapons to- the inspectors from the UN / the international community, the American press, statesmen, etc. Then imagine the difficulties of substantiating that story to people who would examine it- the lack of witnesses to a production plant that made the weapons or to transportation operations or storage of the weapons during Hussein's regime of them. 2) If the story fell apart upon inspection or the CIA tried not to hoax it at all, imagine the loss of credibility they would suffer. The CIA, it is safe to bet, does not want to be known to the American people as a group that lies to them to send them to war. Even within the CIA there could be disagreement among people about how involved they should be in promoting the war or the neo-con agenda more broadly, so the CIA would have to worry about lying to and managing its own people after trying so hard to get them to trust their superiors in the agency, and perhaps there simply might be too many people in the agency who knew enough about what was going on in Iraq to know if someone was deceiving people to promote this war.

So there is a lot of reason to be cautious against being seen as endorsing what they knew was false intelligence even if they were very strong supporters of going to war.

So there is a lot of reason to be cautious against being seen as endorsing what they knew was false intelligence even if they were very strong supporters of going to war.

Beside the fact that this is their job and some of them may want to take pride in providing GOOD intelligence, hm?

I was actually surprised that no WMDs were found in Iraq. There should have been more than enough time to plant them. Yes, I am so cynical to believe the current US administration would do such things (though I do not believe that 9/11 was an "inside job")

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