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March 04, 2008

Comments

The acquittals of these former Ministry of Health officials is definitely disturbing, no arguments there. But the Rolling Stone article was another piece of journalism designed to poke holes in the Surge strategy, thereby conveying criticism for the Bush Administration, although I did find the article interesting. The left-wing media outlets are a bit too late to levy this criticism, as other outlets and blogs have been talking about the Awakening movement and the improvements in security it has brought, which began in Anbar in 2006, for months now.

LT Nixon. "A piece of journalism" is not going to "poke holes in the Surge strategy" in any serious way. It's the Iraqi resistance that will do that.

Worrying about what Democrats are saying about "the Surge strategy" and how this makes the Bush administration look, is part and parcel of the problem. (Not you specifically, of course: I'm assuming for the sake of argument that you are not part of the Bush administration. ;-) Whatever Bush may think, the Iraq war is not primarily a political showcase for winning or losing elections: it's primarily a war in which over one million people have already been killed.

As this interview with "Dr Abdallah Suleiman Omary", one of the leaders of the 1920 Revolution Brigades (it was published in a "left-wing media outlet" on 3rd December last year) makes clear, "the Awakening" strategy is primarily a means of targeting resources in the Iraqi resistance.

Iraqis have access to the Internet and to international news. They know, as well as anyone else in the world, that the "surge" is temporary: that the US army is nearly breaking: that it is only a matter of time before the US occupation is forced to withdraw - either from Iraq altogether in an orderly retreat, or, if McCain continues the Bush strategy, into armed fortresses outside which the Iraqi civil war continues.

Iraq: A Hopeless Cause

It has been far to long and I am sick and tired of our country fighting a war we don't need. With all the problems in our country, why are we concerning ourselves more with others. It has been 4 1/2 years too long and we need to take action NOW!!!! The Bush Administration needs to take a closer look at their Bible, "remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5) While America has been paying attention to every other country, the U.S. has been experiencing economic problems, unemployment, a stalled housing market, and a growing deficit. Every day we fight this war all of those problems listed worsen, and as they worsen our country fails it's citizens more and more. If we don't end this war now it will never end. The world is moving to fast for us to waste time on meaningless conflicts.

Jesurgislac,

I agree that the Sons of Iraq are a temporary solution and that there is an ongoing power struggle here (hopefully it will be non-violent in the future). But the prospect of a full on war between Awakening members and Shia militias can be mitigated by political progress and job creation (which is high on the list of priorities right now). Sure, the Sahwa guys aren't saints, but to just go and criticize the movement that has been part of defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and clamping down on violence without any illustration of their importance is a bit short-sighted on the journalistic front. I'm just taking it with a grain of salt. BTW I'm no Bush fan, but the dude is ultimately my boss for another year.

Sure, the Sahwa guys aren't saints, but to just go and criticize the movement that has been part of defeating the Islamic State of Iraq

Um: "al-Sahwa" literally means "the Awakening". Given the recent political history of al-sahwa al-islamiyya in Saudi Arabia, which is, as I'm sure you know, primarily a Sunni Muslim country, it would be extremely unwise to assume that a movement of Sunni Muslims in Iraq who are calling themselves al-Sahwa are out to defeat an Islamic State of Iraq.

I think this article is final proof of the saying that an armed society is a polite society. I mean, who would have thought that after years and years of violence in Iraq all we had to do was load up the country with even more guns! But the proof is in the pudding, look at those kids, when the Americans are around (the guys with the biggest and baddest guns), they behave!

I can only hope we're rushing tanks, artillery, F16s and other assorted weapons to all factions. Pretty soon you won't be able to walk down the street without being invited in by the locals for some mint tea, lively conversation, and perhaps some target practice with the AAA in the backyard.

Does anybody remember, when the US tried to take all the nice assault rifles from Iraqis in order to decrease the violence (or at least the attacks on US troops)? Was it just the cartoonists that talked about 2nd amendment advocates protesting that infringement of Iraqi freedom or was it for real?

you've got to break a lot of freedom eggs to make a democracy omelette.

I like to think of democracy with giant eagles wings and singin’ lead vocals for lynyrd skynyrd with like an Angel Band, and I’m in the front row, and I’m hammered drunk.

LT Nixon,

Few thoughts: First, no one is doubting that the Sawha strategy will bring security to Anbar (though even then, intra-Sunni fights are breaking out). The bigger question is whether it will lead to long-term stability in Iraq.

Short term stability bought isn't worth much if civil wars re-erupt. Especially if in the interim, we have created space for consolidation, and aided in the arming of multiple factions.

There are better ways to spend 3 trillion dollars, and our men and women in uniform deserve a clearer mission.

What Eric said.

Everything seems to me to depend on the political side -- I never doubted that our troops would make things more secure; my reservations about the surge had a lot more to do with whether the Iraqis would take advantage of the drop in violence. If they did -- if they really used this window to put in place the structures needed for national reconciliation and for a government that could adjudicate conflicts between different groups, rather than being controlled by some and used against the others -- then, I thought, the surge would work. If not, then it's a way of postponing a civil war, and how we and the Iraqis proceed will affect how that civil war plays out. Political reconciliation has not happened, and our strategy has been to arm both sides. This does not make me very hopeful.

I'll add pessimism to that pessimism:

At this point, I believe that ideas and attitudes have hardened so much (and conditions been rendered so beyond repair - I'm thinking about the millions of refugees that will be confronted with someone from the opposing sect occupying their home, and the resentment/violence stoked thereby), that I don't even think that Green Zone-generated legislation will be able to quell the conflict.

The armed factions have grandiose, maximaalist designs - as well as legitimate grievances. The reconciliation benchmarks being discussed won't likely satisfy the combatants, not soon enough at least.

Even given the inadequacies of the proposed reconciliation legislation, the sacrifices entailed in order to craft such compromise measures are proving to be too onerous to the ruling bloc!

Can't see the deus exing from this machina.

OT (but related)- Surprise, surprise:

Petraeus, who is slated to testify before Congress on April 8-9, has said he favors a "period of assessment" after that so as not to lose the security gains made in recent months. Petraeus is expected to ask President Bush to wait until as late as September to decide whether to bring home more troops.

"The armed factions have grandiose, maximalist designs - as well as legitimate grievances. The reconciliation benchmarks being discussed won't likely satisfy the combatants, not soon enough at least."

So, basically, they will need (to avoid an even bloodier civil conflict) the presence of large numbers of American troop stationed in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

IOW, a feature, not a bug: the fulfillment of the fundamental Bush/Cheney/PNAC plan: a permanent US presence in the heart of Middle East oil country; ostensibly to shepherd the "birth of freedom and democracy" (and "friendly" regimes) in the region - but in reality a good old-fashioned excercise in power-projection.

A nice idea, especially since it's all for their own good: too bad about all those casualties, though...

Thing is Jay C, I'm not so sure each side is going to stay as friendly with us for long. We'll see.

Either way, I favor withdrawal over a period of about 18-24 months.

We have to ask ourselves why the differences between a Germany or Japan and an Iraq or Afghanistan:

Why the difference in dollar costs between the Marshall Plan and ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’?

Why are ordinary moms and dads targeting those Iraqis who share President Bush’s vision of a free Iraq?

Why the 1000-yr blood feud between Sunni and Shia?

Why are things moving backwards despite all of our high-minded sacrifices?

As certain powers in the world start flexing their financial muscle and threatening our way of life, these are the questions we need to ask ourselves. Because our current systems of government and education have a real hard time doing it for us.

When I think of the good people on every side who have died for this, and especially the brave Iraqis who have tried, at the risk of their lives, to build a civil society and to promote non-violence, and have now had to flee for their lives, it makes me very sad.

Bill, IWNFTT

But the prospect of a full on war between Awakening members and Shia militias can be mitigated by political progress and job creation (which is high on the list of priorities right now).

It was also high on the list of priorities when the surge started 12 - 18 months ago and this post is an example of the result. Moreover, have you noticed the reception the Iranian President has received? It seems that we've spent $3 trillion, sacrificed 4000 Americans and destablized Iraq to mend fences between Baghdad and Tehran. That's nice. Thankfully, though, we've also armed the Sunnis to the teeth. I'm sure that will pay off in the long run.

Sure, the Sahwa guys aren't saints, but to just go and criticize the movement that has been part of defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and clamping down on violence without any illustration of their importance is a bit short-sighted on the journalistic front.

What are you talking about? The "secular" Iraq died with de-Baathification. Everyone else is basically fighting for a their own brand of Islamic State.

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