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July 01, 2009

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"the case for withdrawal remains unchanged"

A sentence you just don't hear often enough.

Probably the most important point in all this, as the new administration tries to change perceptions of the US, particularly in the ME, is that we are (at least in this respect) keeping a promise.

Forget all of Marty's words about weakness on the other thread. Far more important is being honorable and that means keeping our word.

And that is why Obama's reaction to what has been happening in Iran is so important. He was able to show support for the people without giving them the impression we were going to provide any material support.

That is also why moving ahead on the closing of Gitmo is also important.

Obama is walking a razor's edge in the ME. One failure to follow through on anything he has said and he may well lose all the gains, and they have been considerable, he has made.

Oh, and the Iraqi people want us out sooner regardless, which is kind of important (even if there is eventually some accommodation for military support via a much smaller residual force down the road).

It's also kind of important that a residual force would mean that the goal of the invasion will have been achieved: a permanent military presence of US troops in Iraq.

Well said, logical, factual and hopefully inevitable.

It's also kind of important that a residual force would mean that the goal of the invasion will have been achieved: a permanent military presence of US troops in Iraq.

Yes and no.

Yes = military presence in the middle of oil country for a long time.

No = specific terms of the SOFA forbid us from projecting force outward from Iraq. So we're there, but for those that hoped we could use Iraq as a launching pad for Syria and/or Iraq - no luck.

You might want to look at this, friend: http://trueslant.com/allisonkilkenny/2009/06/30/the-medias-premature-celebration-of-us-withdrawal-from-iraq/

"You might want to look at this, friend"

Is there anyone with the faintest clue about Iraq who is not familiar with this information?

I was just saying we shouldn't get our hopes up.

No = specific terms of the SOFA forbid us from projecting force outward from Iraq.

Sure, but the US will project power just by being there.

Is there anyone with the faintest clue about Iraq who is not familiar with this information?

Yes, your average consumer of news, as opposed to blog junkie, will read this as:
"the US is withdrawing from Iraq", which is untrue, at least without a whole lot of qualifiers.

Jenny,

I totally agree with you. If you notice, even the optimistic take in this post is that there will likely be a residual force for some time.

Sure, but the US will project power just by being there.

Sure, project power. Not project force, however.

Well, I agree that the case for withdrawal remains strong ( and the case for not invading in the first place just as strong). But that could change. believe it or not, we really do have vital interests at stake in the area ( I say that only because anti-war folks tend to unbderstate the importance of the interests in the area). I can see the case for withdrwal collapsing if the unrest in Iraq spirals into a civil war between Sunni and Shia and the unrest spreads to eastern Saudi Arabia- a largely Shiite area where the big oilfields are. That's an extreme scenario-but its not impossible. Something like that happens, and you could well see Obama ordering the troops back in.
I must stress that it would take only something like that- or maybe an Iranian nuclear weapons test- before I woould countenance the cancellation of the withdrwal plans. I just want to say that that while the case for withdrawal is still strong right now, it is subject to a change in circumstances-and circumstances can change fast in the Middle East.

Of course we have interests in the area. Every nation on the planet has interests in the area. The question has always been, how best to we pursue those interests, while recognizing the interests of other nations (including those whose sovereignty we have violated, massively).

And of course, events could change that would mandate our remaining in Iraq in large numbers. Though I would add that we were right there in Iraq during the last spiral of Shiite-Sunni civil war, and we couldn't do much to stop it.

And of course, events could change that would mandate our remaining in Iraq in large numbers.

Sorry, but I have to insist here: how is this different from the "dependent on conditions on the ground" shtick of the Bush administration? What are "large numbers" - 10.000, 25.000, 40.000? Do we count contractors and "advisors"?

how is this different from the "dependent on conditions on the ground" shtick of the Bush administration?

You see no difference in saying that if a war erupted that spread into Saudi Arabia and other neighboring states, then we might have to stick around vs. what the Bush administration was saying?

The Bush team was using "conditions on the ground" as a means to justify an open-ended commitment. If violence spiked, we had to stay - conditions mandated. If violence subsided, we had to stay to ensure the peace - conditions mandated.

I'm not saying either of those things. I'm conceding that if the catastrophic turn of events outlined by ST came to be, then yes, we would probably want to try to sort it out.

What are "large numbers" - 10.000, 25.000, 40.000? Do we count contractors and "advisors"?

Depends. If Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Iraq were engulfed in war, large numbers would be over 100K I imagine.

"The Bush team was using "conditions on the ground" as a means to justify an open-ended commitment. If violence spiked, we had to stay - conditions mandated. If violence subsided, we had to stay to ensure the peace - conditions mandated"

This is really a stretch. The Bush administration, the Obama administration, they are executing the same plan under the same agreement with the same amount of troops remaining. If violence erupts that Iraqi security forces can't handle they will be ebgaged.

The agreement was negotiated and signed under Bush, a reality is that Obama realized after he took office it was a fine plan. Thats why no one talks about it, and he sends Biden to get the publicity.

"Probably the most important point in all this, as the new administration tries to change perceptions of the US, particularly in the ME, is that we are (at least in this respect) keeping a promise".

No, the most important thing in all this was Bush kept his promise to the Iraqi people not to abandon them to decades of violence. Every step of progress we make in the Middle East going forward will be built on the success of one of the least popular policy decisions in the history of our country.

"The Bush administration, the Obama administration, they are executing the same plan under the same agreement with the same amount of troops remaining."

The Bush administration had many different plans at different times, and certainly never desired the SOFA as it wound up. By subsuming the multitudes of Bush plans under "the same plan" you're conflating dozens of different plans and sets of intentions.

This isn't helpful.

"The agreement was negotiated and signed under Bush, a reality is that Obama realized after he took office it was a fine plan."

Do you have a cite to the inside of Obama's head, or at least a statement, to support this assertion? You actually know Obama realized -- after taking office -- do you also happen to know which day this happened on? -- that it (the SOFA, I assume) was a "fine" plan, versus perhaps a "good" plan, or an "acceptable" plan, or "a plan he had to accept no matter what," or a plan with various pros and cons, or...?

Cite, please?

"Thats why no one talks about it"

Cite, please? If no one talks about it, how, exactly, do you know why these unstated people do or don't talk about it?

Lots of questions Gary but no real substance. You can have fine, good or I can live with it, but Bidens over there taking bows for its implementation. He could have changed it easily to accelerate withdrawal, and change withdrawal to zero, from a US perspective. Maybe not from an Iraqi perspective, don't know. But you know, the actions have suggested he was ok with the plan as is.

As for the multitude of Bush plans, well, thats the way war is, you adapt and replan as "conditions on the ground " warrant. You know, they actually teach that in the military. The plan I was referring to is of course the last step Bush took in that adaptation, SOFA.

"No, the most important thing in all this was Bush kept his promise to the Iraqi people not to abandon them to decades of violence."

What's your metric for judging what's "the most important thing in all this," the second most important, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth, exactly?

"What's your metric for judging what's "the most important thing in all this," the second most important, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth, exactly?"

Without that step none of the others could be done. Seems it makes it number one.

"You can have fine, good or I can live with it, but Bidens over there taking bows for its implementation."

I'm sorry, but could you try that again in English, please?

"He could have changed it easily to accelerate withdrawal, and change withdrawal to zero, from a US perspective."

Could we also try this in English, please? I can't tell what the heck you're trying to say.

"But you know, the actions have suggested he was ok with the plan as is."

In other words, you have absolutely no support whatever for your assertions. Good to know.

If English is your second language, by the way, my sincere apologies.

Gary, You undertand perfectly, do you have a point?

"Without that step none of the others could be done."

What other steps couldn't be done?

"Gary, You undertand perfectly,"

No, you understand what you mean perfectly. I'm not inside your head, so I can only vaguely guess what an "accelerate withdrawal" is, and what a "change withdrawal" is, and what it that you're suggesting is or isn't from an American perspective, or what "the actions have suggested" refers to, and so on.

Could you try sentences with both objects and subjects, please? Could you please use antecedents that are clear in the actual sentences, rather than left in your head?

However, I see, looking at your blog, that you habitually lack a grasp of punctuation or sentence structure, and thus are frequently difficult to understand, so consider this all just dropped.

(I'd suggest trying to diagram your sentences, otherwise, to point out the problems, but we'd probably just get into one of those "you're just picking on me, and being a snob, and clarity isn't actually important" dialogues that go nowhere with people who don't notice that their grasp of punctuation and grammar tends to be on the incoherent side. I don't expect that you're being intentionally so consistently unclear in your writing.)

"I'd suggest trying to diagram your sentences, otherwise, to point out the problems, but we'd probably just get into one of those "you're just picking on me, and being a snob, and clarity isn't actually important"

No, we won't have a circular argument. I type slow and have limited time to participate, so I settle for good enough. I will avoid interacting with you as much as possible. I certainly could edit all of these for grammar, but I won't.

"I certainly could edit all of these for grammar, but I won't."

The purpose of grammar is not to have arbitrary silly rules to test you on, but to be able to clearly communicate one's meaning. Trying to communicate in writing without bothering to try to write in a way that is commonly understandable doesn't work very well.

As I figured, you're going for the "clarity isn't actually important" argument.

For instance, you write "I certainly could edit all of these for grammar, but I won't," but don't bother to state what "these" refers to. The reader is left trying to guess what it is you might have in mind: Sentences? Blog comments? Words? Thoughts that come out of your head? There are any number of possibilities, and doubtless you know what you have in mind, but you haven't bothered to put it into words.

People don't know what you're thinking; they can only know what you write.

No, I actually went for the "you are a snob being intentionally dense" argument. I just thought I would be nice, so I was intentionally unclear. Clarity is important. You are focused on form over clarity. Are you tired of this line of discussion yet?

""Probably the most important point in all this, as the new administration tries to change perceptions of the US, particularly in the ME, is that we are (at least in this respect) keeping a promise".

No, the most important thing in all this was Bush kept his promise to the Iraqi people not to abandon them to decades of violence. Every step of progress we make in the Middle East going forward will be built on the success of one of the least popular policy decisions in the history of our country."

Interesting that this comment created a two day string of grammar corrections, and only one response.

"What's your metric for judging what's "the most important thing in all this," the second most important, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth, exactly?"

It is interesting that no one asked that question after John's original post. I assume (dangerously) that Gary didn't want to discuss the very clear truth of the point in my comment.

Marty, none of what you've written is very clear. I still can't figure out what half of your sentences mean, and that fact dissuades me from discussing the rest. Gary is not being particularly picky: I think that he, like I, really has no idea of what you're trying to say.

I have reread my comments and I understand the point. I agree that some of them weren't clear. I even explained why that happens. I believe that the point of most of my comments is apparent enough.

I believe my last comment was very clear and to the point.

"An uptick in violence is, sadly, almost certainly inevitable" we saw an "uptick in violence" in the past month, if by uptick you mean the slaughter of hundreds more to add to the 2+ million dead in the 18 year long US genocide against Iraq.

"I have reread my comments and I understand the point."

What point? Again, you know what you're referring to by "the point," but you don't actually have an antecedent to "the point," so the rest of us can only guess which of any number of possible points made in this thread you're referring to.

"I believe my last comment was very clear and to the point."

And here you don't explain which of your sentences you are referring to as "my last comment": again, there are many possibilities.

We're not mind-readers, Marty. If you want people to understand you when you write, you've got to write in coherent English. Do try understanding how this works, please.

(Completely unclear antecedents are hardly the only writing problem you have -- your writing is full of run-on sentences, sentence fragments, completely idiosyncratic use of commas, no grasp whatever of what ellipses are, and so on -- but it's probably the best place to start working on trying to be more understandable.)

It isn't possible to discuss substance of what someone's saying when one repeatedly can't make out what that substance is. In writing, substance can't be communicated without form.

"I assume (dangerously) that Gary didn't want to discuss the very clear truth of the point in my comment."

Back in reality, you made a subjective declaration of your opinion, which isn't falsifiable, and thus isn't subject to debate.

You wrote: "the most important thing in all this was Bush kept his promise to the Iraqi people not to abandon them to decades of violence."

You're entitled to your opinion; since this isn't an assertion that addresses any facts, there's nothing further to usefully address. The fact that you like to make subjective declarations of your opinions doesn't, however, make your opinions somehow magically objectively correct.

If I say "onions are the best vegetable!," there's not going to be a productive discussion following if anyone says "no, they're not!" or "you're so right!"

Assertions that aren't falsifiable aren't interesting: why should anyone care about them, absent earned respect for the author?

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