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April 12, 2010

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I can't believe we have had troops in Iraq for more than seven years, and eight and a half in Afghanistan. You know, if it ain't done fixed by now it ain't gonna be fixed ever.

Time to go.

I think many Iraqi's believe far worse things about US forces, and believe other things that give nearly magical powers to US soldiers. The video was rather mundane compared to the rumor mill.

On the otherhand, they also seemed to trust US forces more than Iraqi forces, presumably because at least with Americans there was a chance at fair dealing.

I think many Iraqi's believe far worse things about US forces, and believe other things that give nearly magical powers to US soldiers. The video was rather mundane compared to the rumor mill.

True. But then, also mundane compared to the past 7 years.

On the otherhand, they also seemed to trust US forces more than Iraqi forces, presumably because at least with Americans there was a chance at fair dealing.

Depends on which Iraqi forces, and which group is doing the trusting. But yeah. There is a lot of suspicion about partisanship in the Iraqi security forces - suspicion that is well-grounded in many instances, though it is getting better slowly.

Do we actually know what the Bush/Cheney exit plan was for Iraq? I know they didn't plan for a long-term (or short-term) occupation, but...what was the plan? They had to have some sort of plan, didn't they?

Was it really (1) invade; (2) install Chalabi; (3) get out?

For some reason I get the sinking feeling it was the Middle East Gnomes Plan:

Phase 1: Invade Iraq
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Peance and freeance in the Middle East + Oil! (not necessarily in that order)

But in all seriousness, what was the plan?

Ugh, you forgot about being greeted as liberators. That's really the key to the whole thing. Even now, the Surge was supposed to make us 'liberators' from sectarian strife.

That "we" can't "win" has been clear for years -- we're hardly even an interested party: no outcome is actually victory, defined in any way other than "not defeat." We can, however, "lose" by which I mean be seen to have lost, or been forced out.

Some people say the Surge wasn't successful. Sure it was: the object was to stave off the unavoidable perception of defeat. Mission accomplished. What we need, though, is a parade at which no bombs go off.

Ugh,

In the immediate term, there was supposed to be a US viceroyship that would last at least 5 years, though plenty of caveats for extension (seriously, the plan called for a "Viceroy" - I mean, that's not even trying to hide the imperialism).

Thereafter, there would be some form of democratic process, though one that was clipped and guided by the US so as to be phased in slowly and, ultimatel, yield the desired result. (The viceroy/slowalk of democracy plans were scuttled when Sistani said hell no and demanded full, free elections pronto. At that point it was suddenly becoming clear to the Bush geniuses that the most revered Shiite Grand Ayatollah in the world carried more clout with Iraq's Shiite population than did Chalabi - a man who left Iraq the same year that the Dodgers left Brooklyn. Who could have known such things?)

Long term military presence was in the cards, though not as an occupier as much as an occupant of several big bases. I think this is the part that they want to hold on to as much as possible - a goal that Obama hasn't exactly jettisoned.

Basically, the Bush League planned for no insurgency and a willing and thankful populace that would embrace a period of direct American rule followed by a series of pliant Iraqi puppets chosen under a nominally democratic process.

Heckuva Job.

Peance and freeance...

Somehow this is the first I've seen this and had to Google it. Wow. Just, wow.

Eric - thanks. So it was a "plan for the best possible outcome from the standpoint of U.S. neoconservatives" plan. I think I prefer the Gnomes.

At that point it was suddenly becoming clear to the Bush geniuses that the most revered Shiite Grand Ayatollah in the world carried more clout with Iraq's Shiite population than did Chalabi - a man who left Iraq the same year that the Dodgers left Brooklyn.

My favorite Chalabi story is he was having dinner with a high-ranking CIA official in what was an attempt to win the CIA over (IIRC they didn't much like him) and when Chalabi went to pay for dinner his credit was rejected. Clown shoes.

But in all seriousness, what was the plan?

Presidential election in '04. Bonus midterms in '06.
Mission Accomplished.

Ugh: But in all seriousness, what was the plan?

Make threateny noises at Syria and Iran, sometimes even before the invasion of Iraq was complete.

Naturally once the middle east saw how awesome things were in Iraq, they'd be eager to create similar paradises for themselves. Presumably the U.S. military could assist any nation that disinclined to "suck on this".

the plan:

1. Shock And Awe would shock and awe the Iraqis into immediate, total submission

2. as our troops piled-in, they would be greeted as liberators with whiskey chocolate and sexy

3. tribal and sectarian conflicts would be forgotten, on sight of the shiny new future

4. we'd hold back the adoring crowds as our puppet government got to governing, and we painted some schools

5. everyone would love the results of step 4 and would eagerly vote in an even better set of politicians

6. we'd leave, laden with love and adoration

7. the citizens of all the other countries in the region would gaze jealously upon the glorious miracle of democracy in Iraq and would force their own governments into open western-style democracies

8. these democracies would be tripping over themselves to help the US with its terrorism problem - or at least they'd be too afraid of us to not help

that not a single one of these things happened is not Bush's or Cheney's fault, for they are honorable men.

when Chalabi went to pay for dinner his credit was rejected.

Not anymore, I'll wager.

Clown shoes.

We're wearing'em.

Another knockback to the Plan that hasn't yet been mentioned: funding the reconstruction of Iraq without cost to the US (indeed, at enormous profit to certain high-donor corporations) was intended to be done by:

1. Selling off all Iraqi industries, excluding oil, to the highest bidder;
2. Developing the oil fields, under the control of the US government, to produce oil at pre-Gulf War levels

This was reckoned to produce a shedload of money (add to the millions that were banked outside Iraq that legally belonged to the government of Iraq) and this would be more than enough to pay for all the fat contracts that could be awarded, without any formality of bidding for them, to several very loyal US corporations.

This idea fell over from the start for two reasons:

One, it was assumed (as others have already noted) that the Iraqi people would accept being liberated, occupied, and their industries sold off, with peaceable equanimity, trusting in the government of the United States to do only good towards them.

Two, it was assumed that if they didn't, Chalabi would know how to handle any trivial protest they might make.

Three, it was assumed that there would be no shortage of international buyers who wanted in on the sale.

The third step was where the US government fell over a matter of international law that, just for once, they were unable to kick aside and declare unimportant:

The sales the US government planned to carry out would have been unlawful. Only a democratically-elected government of Iraq could sell off Iraqi national assets, and the potential buyers - even the loyal Republican donors - did not wish to pay up, sink money into development, and be told flatly a few years on that as they'd bought what the US government had no right to sell, the sales were null and void and the assets were returned to the ownership of the Iraqi people.

I rememeber this particularly because Moe Lane, the founder of this feast, claimed the reason he could never ever support Kerry was because Kerry had, once, made a speech in support of this Bush administration notion of selling off Iraqi assets to fund the "reconstruction" - and Moe refused to believe any and all evidence cited that the idea originated with the Bush administration, which he wished to continue supporting.

I've never been very surprised that he left Obsidian Wings for Redstate.

We're wearing'em.

It would be impolite to reject a gift from Iran.

The plan was: demonstrate to all other countries around the world that the US has the capacity and the will to invade any given small country, overthrow the government (and probably kill most of them), set up a puppet regime, and occupy the country for the duration.

So, don't mess with us or we might have to do that to your little country.

(I disown the "us" and "we" in that sentence, needless to say.)

People rarely said as much, but that's what it was all about. And I'd say mission accomplished, in the sense that Saddam Hussein is dead and Mullah Omar is living in a cave. The message was sent. All this occupation crap and corrupt elections and civilian casualties, that's all beside the point.

These are the tactics of the mafia, not of a liberal democracy, of course. (We're watching Deadwood again; Al Swearengen would recognize this technique.)

Everyone already knew, after the Gulf War, that no non-nuclear state could resist the US military in a conventional conflict. What was not known was that the US was willing to enter into such a conflict on the flimsiest of pretexts, if you even looked at it funny. Well, we fixed that!

On my good days I think that that might have been the last gasp of warmongering for the US for quite a while. Kids these days are really anti-war, we're kinda broke, and military officers are tired of being shipped off to Bumfuckistan for years on end. On bad days (most of them) I think that we've got a couple more like that just itching to be let out.

I'm not much of a believer in the inevitability of comeuppances so I think it's likely that this period will eventually pass without resulting in any sort of systemic collapse or grand disaster, even if we did something as stupid as Iraq a couple more times. But I expect to have to answer a lot of questions a few decades from now along the lines of, "What the hell were you people thinking?"

People rarely said as much, but that's what it was all about.

It was different things to different people. Keep in mind, the invasion of Iraq was on the neocon wishlist (see, ie, PNAC) for at least a decade prior to the invasion itself, and the neocons had/have more in mind than a demonstration of power for its own sake.

People rarely said as much, but that's what it was all about.

I heard this argument made just last weekend on some NPR public affairs radio show.

We had to go into Vietnam, not because we thought we'd win, not because our allies in South Vietnam were right, but to show that we were willing to fight.

We had to go into Iraq, not because Hussein posed a threat, not because we had a clear understanding of what we were trying to achieve, but to show that we were willing to fight.

That was the argument, and it was an argument presented as a reasonable justification for both wars.

We did a very good job of kicking the living shite out of a very poor third world country that had just emerged from a generation of warfare with its colonial master, and was embarking on a civil war.

And we did an equally good job of kicking the living shite out of a not quite so poor but kind of run-down not-quite-third-world country that we had held under tight military control for a dozen years.

Lather rinse and repeat I suppose for Panama, Grenada, the Balkans, whoever.

"What's the military for, if you're not going to use it?"

We have consistently been willing to fight crappy little countries on a regular basis for the last 60 years.

So, mission accomplished. We have demonstrated our willingness to kick third world ass at least once per presidential term in office.

If you put the bar low enough, you can always find a way to declare victory.

Eric: It was different things to different people.

Sure, in some cases. Not sure about the neocons - they said they wanted to export democracy but I think were motivated at least as much by the desire to, what was that memorable phrase, "pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business." All that stuff about democracy was just an attempt to find a palatable flavoring for the policy of brute force. (I believe that phrase was a paraphrasing by Jonah Goldberg of something Michael Ledeen had been saying regularly, so it's not like the sentiment wasn't prevalent among neocons.)

russell, the difference I see with Iraq is that there wasn't a war going on there in the first place. It was pure aggressive war, which the US hadn't done recently.

An air war against Iraq was underway long before the invasion, no?

It was different things to different people.

like a poem, or an abstract painting made of blood and cinders!

military officers are tired of being shipped off to Bumfuckistan for years on end.

There are, alas, plenty of freshly minted junior officers (prior service ones not withstanding) champing at the bit to do just that. Sure, the shiny may wear off after they spend a rotation or three downrange, but that's then, and more junior officers will be coming up to replace them.

Just sayin'.

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