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July 25, 2008

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McCain today: "I said, I will repeat my statement again, that he would rather lose a war than lose a campaign. Because anyone who fails to acknowledge that the surge has worked, who has consistently opposed it, consistently never sat down and had a briefing with General Petraeus, our commander there, would rather lose a war than a political campaign." We will hear this from now until election day: think "Traitor." Obama never had a briefing with Petraeus? He flew around in a helicopter with Petraeus in Iraq. But who cares when you have adopted the Rovean campaign techniques? You play to the ignorance of the voter. I am the Surge. I Won the War. I am a War Hero...twice now...and the press will repeat it. You can count on that. Think: Bush 2000 & 2004. "And so it goes."

Eric Martin wrote:

"...we should be grappling with the problem of trying to repair Iraq's fraught political dynamic, and if and how we can help bring stability to a still chaotic situation."

No we shouldn't. We should be leaving Iraq. Whenever there is a situation where reparations and assistance can be given completely delinked from the presence of military bases and/or economic coercion, we are ethically bound to pursue it. That situation doesn't apply.

The accumulation of geopolitical power to the US government doesn't make the average US citizen healthier, wealthier, or wiser. Not in this case, at least.

Even a liberal who opposed the war initially has to agree that McCain is right about the situation in Iraq and it's importance.

I wish Obama and his rabble cult would deal more with reality and see that we cannot lose what we have won in Iraq. That would be worse than stupid.

I may have opposed it from the start but I am not so dumb as to just throw away the victory for the sake of justifying my distaste for all things Bush.

No we shouldn't. We should be leaving Iraq.

That's one of the ways we can help to achieve the objectives I mentioned, actually.

Also, we need to withdraw with care and deliberation. We need to engage Iraq's neighbors and regional powers, enlist the help of the international community and assist helpful NGOs.

Withdrawal is not a straight line, at least it shouldn't be. If we don't take care of the way we get out, we could cause even more unnecessary suffering.

That is the conversation we need to be having: how to best achieve this.

Ken: Can you define "victory"? The one we have achieved.

If you make the case, then I can better judge whether it would be throwing it away to leave.

ken: I may have opposed it from the start

You 'may', but I doubt you did. Any way to document it?

Eric Martin:

"Also, we need to withdraw with care and deliberation"

"We" don't exist. The US government does.

The US government needs to get out of Iraq. Care and deliberation not required.

Eric, no offence but you really cannot be that dense.

We have a budding democracy in Iraq. Is that not enough of a 'victory' to you?

Leave now and we risk losing what we have won.

The military that has won this victory for us is not Bush's Iraqi Provisional Authority which was riddled with right wing wackoes looking to turn Iraq into their vision of a free market nirvana.

The victory was won by a professional cadre of soldiers who proved they know what the hell they are doing.

On this McCain has proven to have had the better judgement. I didn't agree with him at first but I see now I was wrong. The Obama rabble needs to grow up and deal with reality and look beyond trying to justify their support of Obama by opposing everything he once opposed. Obama was wrong in opposing the surge, and is now wrong about wanting to walk away from Iraq in favor of Afghanistan.

We have a budding democracy in Iraq. Is that not enough of a 'victory' to you?

We do? Awesome! Where can I register to vote in it?

What's that?

You and I aren't Iraqis, therefore any reference to what "we" have in Iraq is at best nonsensical?

Noted!

Moving on then . . . hilzoy et al., that's two references here by ken to "the Obama rabble cult" and "the Obama rabble," and their "need to grow up,"which is, I believe, contrary to at least the spirit of the new posting rules if not the letter.

tomf:

Since "we" elected the Bush Administration twice, I believe we have some moral and financial responsibility for what they have done. If the US Government was a sparate entity from "us", I would agree with you.


We know the Bush Administration will stay in Iraq. A McCain administration will, also. Only with Obama is there a way out. We do need to get out, but since we own at least some of the problem, we need to get out in a way that causes the least disruption and harm, to Iraq as well as our own forces.

Do you not agree that we have some responsibility from here on out?

"We" don't exist.

Speak for yourself ;)

The US government needs to get out of Iraq. Care and deliberation not required.

I think that is an extremely reckless and callous attitude. If we do not coordinate our withdrawal with aid agencies, the international community, regional players and neighbors, we will cause even more suffering to the Iraqi people.

I think you should consider that. I know it's easy to say: just withdraw. But the result would be unnecessary cruelty.

We have a budding democracy in Iraq. Is that not enough of a 'victory' to you?

What do you mean "enough for me"? Enough for what?

IS the fact that there is a flawed and nascent democracy in Iraq enough to justify the war? No. Not even close.

Call the war a victory? No, not by a long shot.

Do I think this fact means that we should stay in Iraq indefinitely, losing soldiers every day, spending billions every day, killing Iraqis, causing us to neglect so many other vital issues? No.

I'll do you one better Ken: I'm not convinced that the democracy in Iraq will disappear if we withdraw over the course of the next 2-3 years. And if it does, then it was likely doomed anyway.

If Iraqis have differences so severe that they will fight a civil war if we leave in 3 years, are we to believe that they will broach those differences in 5? 10?

Since "we" elected the Bush Administration twice, I believe we have some moral and financial responsibility for what they have done.

There is a certin merit to this. Unfortunately, since we can't seem to do anything correctly in Iraq vis a vis the Iraqis, or really, much of anything in general there, taking responsibility it out of the question. That leaves only one option: penance. And as penance for the horrors we have inflicted on Iraq and the Iraqi people, I propose electing John Sidney McCain III as the forty-forth President of the United States of America.

A President McCain will keep us in Iraq for at least four more years, will continue the reckless fiscal policy of the Bush Administration, will formulate, if anything, an even more aggressively disastrous foreign policy, which in combination will result in the complete collapse of the United States economy and a destruction of the middle class. Not to mention several thousand more dead U.S. soldiers.

Then, and only then, will we have been suitably punished for the Iraq invasion, and we can slink home with our tail between our legs, and pray that the Iraqis don't follow us.

"Ken: Can you define 'victory'? The one we have achieved."

Just so you know not to waste your time, Eric, "Ken" is a McCainbot shill who variously pretends to be a Clinton supporter, and a liberal, who somehow supports everything McCain and the Republicans do, while claiming he's very sorry to do so because he's Really A Lifelong Liberal, and at some point -- when he wasn't posting online -- he Used To Think Differently. He's out to pick up McCain Points. He's a fake. You won't get any honest answers. See for yourself if you want to spend the time.

Cheers Gary.

Eric Martin:

"I think that is an extremely reckless and callous attitude. If we do not coordinate our withdrawal with aid agencies, the international community, regional players and neighbors, we will cause even more suffering to the Iraqi people.

"I think you should consider that. I know it's easy to say: just withdraw. But the result would be unnecessary cruelty."

To repeat: Whenever there is a situation where reparations and assistance can be given completely delinked from the presence of military bases and/or economic coercion, we are ethically bound to pursue it. That situation doesn't apply.

"Care and deliberation" is and will be a wedge for imperial leader-of-the-free-world's burden.

The US has invaded and destroyed a sovereign nation. The situation is analogous to the actions of a criminal. The criminal should not be involved in helping the victims recover, especially when a majority of the victims want the criminal gone.

The American people are responsible for seeing to it that the government is democratic and republican. They are responsible for upholding the constitution. Anything beyond this, at this particular time in history, is a wedge for the military-industrial-ideological complex to further dip its hands in other people's cookie jar.

On a pragmatic approach: care and deliberation are only effective to the degree that they are not necessary. There is no care and deliberation with various armed factions vying for their interests around a political center that can not hold. If such a stable security climate exists as can benefit from care and deliberation, to that degree care and deliberation are not required.

"We have a budding democracy in Iraq. Is that not enough of a 'victory' to you?

For me, and apparently for the Iraqis, yes it is enough. But that is an argument for a planned departure on a timeline, not an argument against.

"Leave now and we risk losing what we have won."

Ken, no one except Tom F, is talking about leaving right now.

The purpose of a timeline is TO LEAVE AT A LATER DATE. In an organized, planned way. Not by helecopter from a roof top.

God. Give. Me. Patience.

I can remember with the right wing took the Viet Nam war and dumbed it down to "Us-Strong Patriots-Winners! Dems Trators Losers!" Most rightwingers in theis country would have been happy to kill another million or so Vietnamese civilians in order to have the vanity of "victory". Here we go again. Let's stay in Iraq when we aren't wanted there by the Iraqis and keep killing until we have a Republican President who can declare victory and say we won.

In the real world to win means to achieve one's goals. It is hard to measure this in Iraq since Republican politicians including McCain have been consistantly dishonest and everchanging in their stated goals but here goes:
1. Get the WMD--lost there since there weren't any
2. Kill the evil dictator --Could be called a win since the evil dictator is dead though at a terrible price paid by the exiled Sunnis annd the murdered Christians and other. On the other hand this could also be seen as a loss since it was no more necessary to kill this particular evil dictator than any of a dozen others which means that every life taken has been wasted on an unnecessary war.
3. Creat a pro-American government that would be a model for the Middle East and in the long term promote our interests and Isreal's interests there.-lost. Iraq is now a pro-Iranian reliously conservative nation that is by no means pro-Isreal . AS for promoting our interests-Iraq isn't going to do that if we keep troops in their country longer than their government wants.
4. Make a democracy. Well maybe someday. Could happen. However if we consider their government democractic now, as you do, don't we have to respect their government's decisions? And the decision seems to be that we need to start planning our departure.
5. Fight terrorism-Loss. We should have satyed committed to Afganistan.


So the only since in which we could possible calim vicgtory i Iraq is if we call the government a democracy and abide by the government's decsions.

Which means set a timetable and get out.

The claim that we can only win by staying is just a partisan slogan.
That's all. Just more rightwing bullshit.

Please save the "We must win!" crap for the next time you favorte football team has an important game. Wars are too important to trivialize that way.

that final "since" should be "sense.
"

Um, last I heard, Iraq's 'budding democracy' elected a government whose leader specifically endorsed Obama's plan.

"Ken" is a McCainbot shill

"McCainbot" is kind of an awkward construction. Can anyone come up with a more euphonious alternative?

The best one I've come up with is "Johnboy".

Care and deliberation" is and will be a wedge for imperial leader-of-the-free-world's burden.

No, those real world concerns are part of the best, most conscientious withdrawal plans available. From Steve Simon's, to Juan Cole's, the CAP's, to Obama's, etc.

And no, they aren't dependent on a prolonged military presence. Quite the opposite in fact. They are designed to help upon the removal of said military.

Eric: Any thoughts on the latest round of "Sadr is finished!" reporting? Or rather, any thoughts different from your thoughts on the previous eleventy-seven rounds?

Hogan,

I was just discussing this with someone in another venue, and so have the luxury of cut and paste. I may just have to do a post about this, however:

1. First, the article discusses the extortion racket allegedly undertaken by JAM, and the relief felt on behalf of the locals that JAM's presence has been minimized (locals in Sadr City even!). But it is common knowledge that Sadr derives some of his support from the effective delivery of vital social services to Iraqis. Can these two realities really coincide? If Sadr's forces are really engaged in the widespread extortion of money/goods from Iraqis (even in Sadr City!), how is he also popular for delivering services to Iraqis? Seems the
former would kind of spoil the latter, no? Something doesn't add up.

I think it gets back to [redacted] point: the JAM (or elements thereof) are not always acting on Sadr's orders and the armed component has many permutations, offshots and imposters. It is not the same as the political wing/social network (the Office of the Martyr Sadr) - contrary to Joe Klein's contention, "that the Mahdi Army was as much a criminal enterprise as it was a political movement."

2. That being said, Sadr has definitely been weakened by the efforts of the US and the ISF. The amount of heat directed his way make that inevitable. Further, there have been some nasty criminal/sectarian
activities undertaken by some elements of JAM that Sadr is trying to correct/purge. Hence, he is in a reassess, realign, refurbish and refine mode with respect to JAM, as well as the political wing. Akin
to what the IRA did after it suffered big losses early on in the game (with some level of analogy for the engaging of criminal enterprise as well). As discussed here:

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/07/the-harder-you....

3. So, again, I wouldn't count him out. He's taken some hits, but it would be extremely foolish to assume he's powerless - a pernicious pattern amongst American pundits, military planners and the Bush
administration personnel. The Sadrist trend isn't going anywhere, and needs to be reckoned with in a realistic way.

Here's some history worth checking out for anyone that thinks the Sadrist trend is basically a criminal racket:

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/05/once-again-im-i.html


"Eric: Any thoughts on the latest round of
'Sadr is finished!' reporting?"

I'm not Eric, but I have two. One is that the story says the opposite:

[...] Despite the militia’s weakened state, none of the Iraqis interviewed agreed to have their full names published for fear of retribution.

[...]

The changes are not irreversible. The security gains are in the hands of unseasoned Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints spread throughout Baghdad’s neighborhoods. And local government officials have barely begun to take hold of service distribution networks, potentially leaving a window for the militia to reassert itself.

The militia’s roots are still in the ground, Abu Amjad said, and “given any chance, they will grow again.”

[...]

The Mahdi Army might be weak, but it is not gone.

Majid, a Sadr City resident who works in a government ministry, said several Iraqi Army officers in his area had to move their families to other neighborhoods after Mr. Maliki’s military operation because the militia threatened them. Bombs are still wounding and killing American soldiers in the district. And early this month, one Iraqi officer’s teenage son was kidnapped and killed, his body hung in a public place as a warning, said Majid, who gave only his first name because he feared reprisals.

“People are still afraid of the Mahdi Army,” he said. “You still get punished if you talk bad about them.”

While most of the Iraqi soldiers at the new checkpoints seem loyal to the government, others have sympathies closer to the militia. A friend of Majid’s was obliged to pay a steep tribal settlement, after telling an army patrol about his neighbor, a militia member. The patrol had been infiltrated and leaked the tip to the neighbor.

“They are still trying to influence things,” General Talley said, though his overall assessment was that their control was receding.

[...]

“To be honest with you, I find it very slow,” said Haidar al-Abadi, an adviser to Mr. Maliki who said that funds had been held back because militia-affiliated companies had gotten involved. “There’s a danger this slowness could backfire.”

The militia is painting its response on Sadr City walls: “We will be back, after this break.”

Two is this:
[...] The shift comes at a crucial moment: Iraqis will vote in provincial elections in December. The weakening of the Sadrists in national politics clears the stage for the group’s most bitter rival — a Shiite party led by another cleric, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. One of the party’s members, Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, a sheik and a member of Parliament, is arranging state aid for Sunni families willing to move back to Topchi.

The timing was not missed by the Sadr movement’s spokesman, who said the government had recently warned the group to vacate its office. He blames Mr. Hakim’s party for the attempts to marginalize his movement, whose members have also been targets of a political crackdown in southern Iraq.

“Some parties are occupying large buildings in Jadriya,” he said, referring indirectly to the headquarters of Mr. Hakim’s party. “That’s what makes us suspicious. Why only us?”

He added, “The main motive is to exclude the Sadr movement from politics.”

This is about the Iraqi elections, as much or more than anything else. Karl Rove wishes he could take action against Democrats like this.

For the record: I agree with what Gary said. As usual.

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