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Progress Being Made in Iraq (NY Times)

college2332college2332 1173 replies41 threads Senior Member
edited September 2007 in Parent Cafe
July 30, 2007
A War We Just Might Win

By MICHAEL E. O’HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK

Washington

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with . . .


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/30/opinion/30pollack.html?ei=5070&em=&en=a6ab36b8cf12b97d&ex=1185940800&pagewanted=print
edited September 2007
395 replies
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Replies to: Progress Being Made in Iraq (NY Times)

  • conyatconyat 2477 replies42 threads- Senior Member
    Those two are billing themselves as critics of the war, but actually they've been strong supporters. They're only critics in the "the administration ruined our brilliant Iraq invading plan" sense of the word.

    And Pollack is misrepresenting his own research he did for the Brookings Institute on the # of Iraqi deaths.
    As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began

    This one utterly untrue claim calls the credibility of the whole rest of the story (which you'll notice is all anecdotal or opinion) into question. Especially in the context of the misrepresentation of the journalists' prior positions.
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  • interesteddadinteresteddad 23879 replies298 threads Senior Member
    It's just more repositioning of the goalposts. If you recall, the escalation in Iraq was sold as a means to buy time for poltical progress, that there was no military solution, that without political progress, Iraq would be a lost cause.

    Since there has been no political progress, we are now seeing an effort to redefine "success" in Iraq as purely military again, i.e. how succussful the increased number of troops are at playing whack-a-mole. This redefinition will be used to kick the can down the road for another Friedman Unit (6 months), then they'll flip back and sell the need for a second Friedman Unit to give time for progress on the political front. By then, we'll have been kicking the can down the road, one Friedman Unit at a time, for 5 years and 4000 US deaths. By every metric (political stability, hours of electricty, oil exports, etc.) Iraq will be worse off than it was three years ago as the situation continues to disintegrate everywhere outside of the immediate area of whack-a-mole operations.

    The important questions to ask are not whether we have been successful in arming tribal sheiks in Anbar province. The real questions are:

    a) Is there any hope of a stable political situation

    b) How long would that take

    c) What is the cost in terms of US casualties, cost, and destruction of our military.

    d) Is that cost worth it?

    In other words, there is no validity to measuring "progress" in Iraq in a vacuum that doesn't include the US cost side of the equation. Sure, if the Iraq occupation were without cost, you could continue it for an indefinite number of Friedman Units. But, there is a cost -- a high cost -- attached.
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  • TheDadTheDad 9905 replies323 threads! Senior Member
    We're arming the Sunnis in Iraq to get rid of AQ just like we armed the Taliban to get rid of the Soviets in Afghanistan...*that* sure worked out well, just like we planned.
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  • parent2nolesparent2noles 7154 replies808 threads Senior Member
    I think our army should take a month off from any war fighting in Iraq - like the Iraqi government. They deserve a little R + R, too. ;)
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  • minimini 26172 replies259 threads Senior Member
    The purpose of the surge, started 7 months ago, was, according to our fearless leader, to allow Iraq to get its political act together - no less, and no more. Is there ANYONE out there who thinks the political situation in Iraq today is better than it was 7 months ago, or better than when Murtha called for a pull-out in October 2005?

    Even on Bush's own terms, the surge is an abject failure, and is, regardless of what the hostile, aggressive occupiers are up to.
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  • fundingfatherfundingfather 3985 replies41 threads Junior Member
    The response from the left here to good news is, unfortunately, exactly as I expected. Just like
    that of House Majority Whip James Clyburn :
    Many Democrats have anticipated that, at best, Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would present a mixed analysis of the success of the current troop surge strategy, given continued violence in Baghdad. But of late there have been signs that the commander of U.S. forces might be preparing something more generally positive. Clyburn said that would be "a real big problem for us."
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/30/AR2007073001380_pf.html


    The war is just another political opportunity. If things start to become good, the left feels the need to talk it down. (In between fake sorrow for the innocent Iraqis - never mind that the innocent Iraqis will be the hardest hit by our withdrawal, with John Burns from the NYT saying that it is conceivable that 1 million people could be killed in the resulting chaos.)
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  • minimini 26172 replies259 threads Senior Member
    That's a separate point, not necessarily a bad one; just a separate one. If the U.S. wanted to protect the innocents, it wouldn't be playing this charade with the Maliki government. The U.S. would go in and set up a protectorate for a generation. If that's what you support, say so.

    But I don't believe either the Dems or Reps give a rats-pattooey about the Iraqi people (I'll give you the benefit of doubt, suspend belief, and assume that you do.) The Dems under Bill wouldn't have killed a million Iraqis, half of them children, out of great concern for them. The Reps don't seem much interested in helping the two million refugees they've already created by letting a few of them into the U.S. who fear being killed if they stay where they are.
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  • conyatconyat 2477 replies42 threads- Senior Member
    The response from the left here to good news is, unfortunately, exactly as I expected.

    Anyone trying to sell a surge in American casualties and a decline in Iraqi readiness as good news would try to sell you anything.
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  • conyatconyat 2477 replies42 threads- Senior Member
    never mind that the innocent Iraqis will be the hardest hit by our withdrawal, with John Burns from the NYT saying that it is conceivable that 1 million people could be killed in the resulting chaos

    Anyone who really believes that by bungling or design, this administration had created such a perilous situation for the Iraqi people should be in favor of more competent people running things.

    Who ever heard of such a thing? Well, the AEI has put a million lives at risk, but let's keep them in power because they make us feel good about ourselves when we read their op-eds?
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  • interesteddadinteresteddad 23879 replies298 threads Senior Member
    John Burns has been saying that there may be unimaginable sectarian violence following a US pullout from Iraq for a very long time now. It's no secret, just as it's no secret that there has been massive sectarian violence for the last several years.

    John Burns also says (as recently as yesterday) that Iraq is further away from political progress today than at any time since the invasion and that the calculation may well be that we are simply delaying the inevitable unimaginable sectarian violence at a cost of US lives and treasure.

    Here's the crux of the problem. It is not in the interest of any Iraqi "faction" to reach a political settlement. Every political faction in Iraq believes they have more to gain from a winner take all end-game than settling for a piece of the current pie. Whatever legitimate leadership may have existed in the early stages of the occupation (Sistani, for example) have been marginalized by the rise of sectarian militias, both within and without the government.
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  • higherleadhigherlead 1056 replies12 threads- Member
    conyat, interesteddad - I thought it was W's great sin that he didn't listen to the experts. You all aren't going to fall into the same tar pit are you? Of course the NY Times is pretty rightwing by say Code Pink standards and Brookings has always been a hotbed of neo-cons so I guess it is OK to dismiss anything that comes from that direction.
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  • interesteddadinteresteddad 23879 replies298 threads Senior Member
    I have no doubt that the world's best military with 30,000 more of our fine men and women in Iraq is whacking many more moles than they whacked before the escalation in year five of the Iraq occupation. I never had any doubts that a larger whack-a-mole force would whack more moles.

    The issue is much more fundamental. What is "victory"? Are we any closer to "victory"? And, how long will it take to achieve "victory" and at what cost. Or, in short, what are we doing in Iraq now that a WMD-free Iraq has beeen confirmed, Sadam has been overthrown, a Constitution has been adopted, and a freely elected democratic sovereign government has been established?

    Those were the goals enumerated in 2002. There was never any goal of perpetual whack-a-mole. The superb US miitary has achieved every objective established pre invasion. They've performed astonishly well; we owe every brave soldier a debt of gratitude.

    Time to bring 'em home and give 'em a hero's welcome. Mission Accompished.
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  • -Allmusic--Allmusic- 6246 replies104 threads Senior Member
    I read yesterday that "only" 72 troops died in July, the "lowest number" in five months.

    We are supposed to herald that number as progress, while 72 families welcomed home their loved ones in body bags?
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  • fundingfatherfundingfather 3985 replies41 threads Junior Member
    Or, in short, what are we doing in Iraq now that a WMD-free Iraq has beeen confirmed, Sadam has been overthrown, a Constitution has been adopted, and a freely elected democratic sovereign government has been established?

    Well as long as we are using John Burns (who has been there long enough and who has shown that he can be objective), here are some of the reasons that he has cited:

    - Potential escalation into a regional conflict, thus erupting the entire Gulf region into war with the resulting world-wide recession/depression due to disruption of energy sources.

    - Cede a portion of Iraq to al Qaeda:
    John Burns:
    Well, I think it’s self-evident. Whatever we may make of the original intent of coming here, if the United States did not have a problem with Islamic extremism in Iraq before 2003, it certainly does now. You only have to look at the pronouncements of Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahiri, his deputy, to see that they regard Iraq now as being, if you will, the front line of the Islamic militant battle against the West. And so if American troops were withdrawn, I think that there would be a very serious risk that large parts of this country will fall under the sway of al Qaeda linked groups.

    - A more lethal al Qaeda:
    John Burns:
    I would say it would probably be greater, and for these reasons. Let’s remember that the Afghanistan, that was a sanctuary for al Qaeda and bin Laden, is a very, very underdeveloped, I dare say primitive country. Iraq is not. Iraq is a country that had and potentially still has a major industrial base, it has among Middle Eastern countries one of the most highly educated corps of scientists and engineers, people who were on their way, certainly in the early 1990’s, to developing nuclear weapons, even if that program, as we now know, fell by the wayside after the first Gulf War. Many of these people have left, but would some of them come back? You would then have to add to that the fact that this is an oil country, which even in the situation of a civil war, is exporting billions of dollars of oil to the world, and could potentially export much more. So I would say add to that the question of geography. We’re a thousand miles closer here in Baghdad to Western Europe and the United States than Mr. bin Laden and his followers were when they were in Afghanistan. So I think yes, it could be a serious problem.

    - Mass killing of civilians
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  • minimini 26172 replies259 threads Senior Member
    The so-called Al-Qaeda in Iraq is made up simply of old Baathists. According to the U.S. military (granted, a very poor source for reliable information), fewer than 5% come from abroad, and as there was NO Al-Qaeda in Iran before Bush started promoting and recruiting for them, you have to ask who in fact they are.

    Today, the U.S. military announced that we've armed them further with $90 million in military equipment.

    AS for mass killing of civilians, MECA reports that the Sunni tribesmen being armed by the U.S. are holding up and confiscating medical equipment and medicines being shipped from Amman to Baghdad through Al-Anbar. Thousands of civilians are now dying every month as a result, a specific result of U.S. military "strategy".

    Again, we could stop the Maliki charade and set up a long-term protectorate, if we really cared about the civilians. Or support the two million refugees for a generation. Or allow half a million at least into the U.S. next year. It's crocodile tears, and virtually every major Democrat and Republican has them.
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  • fundingfatherfundingfather 3985 replies41 threads Junior Member
    The so-called Al-Qaeda in Iraq is made up simply of old Baathists.
    nope, not true.
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  • minimini 26172 replies259 threads Senior Member
    I think probably not true too, but that's what the U.S. military says. So what else is new? Wouldn't be the first time they're wrong. You have a better source?

    Anyway, John Burns is missing the U.S. caused "bloodbath" going on right under his nose. All he has to do is visit a hospital in Baghdad and see the thousands of deaths occurring as a result of the U.S. arming the Sunni tribals. Same thing happened when Clinton murdered the million people, half of them children, although in his case, it seems to have been intentional.

    Not that it matters. It is a rare politician who sheds a real tear for the poor Iraqis. $44 billion in reconstructing aid squandered. $90 million in arms "disappeared" today (likely U.S. aid to Al-Qaeda). We keep sending our "Dick Morris suicide death squads" ("so they won't shoot at us here.)
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  • -Allmusic--Allmusic- 6246 replies104 threads Senior Member
    Analysis says war could cost $1 trillion
    Budget office sees effect on taxpayers for decade
    By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | August 1, 2007

    WASHINGTON -- The war in Iraq could ultimately cost well over a trillion dollars -- at least double what has already been spent -- including the long-term costs of replacing damaged equipment, caring for wounded troops, and aiding the Iraqi government, according to a new government analysis.

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/08/01/analysis_says_war_could_cost_1_trillion/
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  • fundingfatherfundingfather 3985 replies41 threads Junior Member
    "You have a better source?"

    Actually, I have never heard the military claim that al Qaeda in Iraq is made up of Baathists (quite the opposite, actually), but check out the reporting of Micheal Yon who is an independent journalist and has been embedded with the troops. He interviews the leader of the 1920s Revolution Brigade of former insurgents who have now joined forces with the US to fight against al Qaeda.

    http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/al-qaeda-on-the-run-feasting-on-the-moveable-beast.htm
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  • TheDadTheDad 9905 replies323 threads! Senior Member
    AQ and the ex-Baathists are two separate factions in Iraq. Both engage in violence against the US forces and both engage in anti-government and anti-Shiite violence as well.

    But to label either as "the insurgency" is a cartoon-level simplification. The numbers of AQ are very small and without the Americans as a target, their support evaporates. Attacking Americans is one thing that a majority of all non-Kurdish Iraqis agree is valid, with something like 90 percent of Sunnis agreeing with the proposition but more than 50 percent of Shiites as well.

    Gen. Petraeus was dead on in his paper presented at the Army War College some 2-3 years back, wherein he discusses that there's a short half-life as armies of liberation become armies of occupation...and we've passed that half-life several times over now.

    For a realistic view of Iraq in microcosm:
    Interior Ministry mirrors chaos of a fractured Iraq
    The nerve center of the nation's police is not so much a government agency as an 11-story powder keg of factions.
    By Ned Parker, Times Staff Writer
    July 30, 2007

    BAGHDAD — The colonel pulls his Mercedes into the parking lot of the drab, 11-story concrete building, scanning the scene for suspicious cars.

    Before reaching for the door handle, he studies the people loitering nearby in hopes he will be able to recognize anyone still there later in the day. He grips his pistol, the trigger cocked, wary of an ambush.

    He has arrived at his office.

    This is Iraq's Ministry of Interior — the balkanized command center for the nation's police and mirror of the deadly factions that have caused the government here to grind nearly to a halt.

    The very language that Americans use to describe government — ministries, departments, agencies — belies the reality here of militias that kill under cover of police uniform and remain above the law. Until recently, one or two Interior Ministry police officers were assassinated each week while arriving or leaving the building, probably by fellow officers, senior police officials say.

    Goes on at great length. The reality of Iraq, not the cheerleading puff pieces in support of the administration. Click the following for the full story:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-interior30jul30,0,7190898.story?coll=la-home-center
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