I'm not a neo con. If you read my posts here you would know that. Please read more of my posts before making such assumptions. You say that goals 1, 2, and 3 have nothing to do with one another. To an extent, you are correct. It is possible to achieve a situation where we have an Iraq that is allied with the US in the GWOT and is a stable country without achieving an Iraq that is a representative democracy, however, a representative democracy would be optimal.
The US did not "give" democarcy to Iraq. Ultimately whether Iraqis can achieve a representative democracy will be up to them. This was always going to be the case. I was very skeptical, from the beginning, that the Iraqis would be capable of forming a representative democracy. Frankly, I never believed they could pull it off.
What the US did do was eliminate a murderous dictator who was an active sponsor of Islamic terrorism. We would never be able to give the Iraqis democracy. This was always going to be up to them, however, we could have provided enough troops to have given a democratic process the chance to work. When we failed to provide enough troops to provide security, the Iraqis turned to their tribal militias. Had we provided the appropiate force structure to establish security, even if Iraqi democracy failed it would have been far easier to achieve a situation where Iraq is stable and allied with the US in the GWOT.
Two key mistakes were made when attempting to transition Iraq from a dictatorship to a democracy. Islamic parties were allowed into the Democratic process. These groups have no place in a democratic process. We failed to provide enough troops to provide security. For democracy to work, it will need a secure environment.
We never had enough forces to provide security and we are not going to get them. It is best to focus on what we can do. As such, any chance of helping Iraqis achieve a representative democracy is over, however, an Iraq that is allied with the US in the GWOT and is stable can be achieved.
I think the primary reason we never had enough troops for Iraq is because the US government and the governments of our allies were never quite sure what we wanted to accomplish. I think the military wanted to remove the Baathist regime and withdraw quickly. Other people wanted to bring "democracy." As a result of not being sure what we wanted to accomplish, the "democracy" project never had the resources allocated to it to give a reasonable chance of working.
I hope and pray that the Iraqis can forge a representative democarcy, however, as it stands now, they will have to do it wihtout the assistance of the US.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 8.12.2006 @ 02:39
Congress is not going to let President Bush "stay the course." Even if the Republicans had won the Congressional elections they would not have let Bush "stay the course." I don't even think America's allies are going to let Bush "stay the course," furthermore, neither the altenative media nor the msm will allow Bush to "stay the course." They will be relentless, as they should be. If Bush thinks he can pass the blame on to the next President, he thinks incorrectly. Nobody will buy that. I can only hope and pray that when the course is changed that those directing the change are commited victory. Achieving a situation where Iraq is allied with US in the GWOT and is stable is still very achievable. Achieving these goals are mission critical to America's global position and probably to the survival of the country itself. The stakes could not be higher. I wish I could have confidence in the ability of George W. Bush to lead the country during this crucial time. In any event, he will not be around much longer, as President.
Here is a prediction for you. George Walker Bush will not finish his term. He will be impeached, as he should be. I don't think his "stay the course" is cowardice. I think it is just plain stupidity. If he were simply a coward, he would withdraw all American troops now. Of course this would mean the end of America's position in the world but it might save him from impeachment and it would be good for his "legacy." It would put him in a better position to blame someone else for his failures.
As it stands now, no one will back him when impeachment hearings start. Had he simply worked to placate the "base" they probably would have backed him, however, when he stabbed them in the back with his failure to secure the borders and to control government spending he sealed his fate. Dick Cheney may be impeached also. Speaker Pelosi may well become President Pelosi. We could be looking at our first female president.
If this prediction or my prediction made in other posts that US troops will be out of Shia and Sunni areas of Iraq by July 31, 2007 turn out to be wrong, I will come here and admit it. I want it to be abundantly clear that I do not like this President one iota. I think this is the worst president in the history of the Republic.
With regards to more troops in Iraq we can do it, if we had the national will to do so. In any event, the primary goals should be to contain and roll back the influence of Iran and Al Qaeda within Iraq and elsewhere in the world. I'm not sure more troops for Iraq will help us achieve either of those goals. In any event, since the government won't make the effort to commit more troops, it is best to focus on potential solutions we can implement that have a chance of working.
One such possiblity would be to pull all troops out of Shia and Sunni areas of Iraq and only intervene in the Iraqi Civil War to prevent the formation of terrorist bases and to prevent the expansion of Iranian influence. We would support militias and other groups within Iraq who are most compatible with our national interests. I think we can probably find plenty of Iraqis who don't think much of Iran or Al Qaeda. In other words, we would align with these groups and use each other as proxies to serve very specific interests.
We should be under no delusions here. This alternative is not very palatable but it is something we can do, if implemented properly.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 7.12.2006 @ 17:26
The risks you point are very real. As always, thank you for your input. I think there is no question the US military can eliminate Al Sadr and his militia. In my mind, the question is does the US leadership have the back bone to do it? Also, does the Iraqi government have the will to do this? In any event, I don't think goals 1 or 2, as outlined above can be achieved, as long as Al Sadr and his militia are running around.
I agree with you that going neighborhood by neighborhood would be helpful for ending the insurgency. This is going to require more troops to be commited by someone, either the US, the Iraqi government, the British, or another member of the Coalition. After we secure an area, we are often having to go back in. I have read in some cases we are having to go back in four and five times. This is unacceptable.
We have never had enough troops to secure the country. Back in March of 2003, when I learned we were only going to send about 150,000 troops I was horrified. I felt we needed at least 500,000 and possibly more. I simply dismissed my concerns at the time. I thought the military men knew better. Pehaps they did. For all I know, we would be worse off had we commited more troops. I am not a general, however, it does appear the current strategies are not working. the ISG has concluded as much. We probably don't have the troops we need to go neighborhood by neighborhood and even if we did the US government is unwilling to commit them and I don't see any of our allies stepping up to do this. The Iraqis will have to do it. We may be able to provide air support or logistical support for them but the heavy lifting will need to be done by the Iraqis.
Going neighborhood by neighborhood would be most helpful if we still want to achieve a representative democracy. I have largely abandoned that goal, not because I think it can't be done but because we have never been willing to commit the resources to it to give it a reasonable chance to succeed.
Also, going neighborhood by neighborhood would be helpful, if it would eliminate the influence of Iran and Al Qaeda. Hopefully the Iraqis will be up to the task. With regards to Iraq I think the top priority now needs to be to contain and roll back the influence of Iran and Al Qaeda.
In my opinion, there have been three basic problems with the Iraq mission. American and allied leaders have never been quite sure what we wanted to accomplish, we have stubbornly insisted on seeking political solutions where there are only military solutions, and we have stubbornly insisted on being unserious, in the face of very serious issues.
Finally, goals 1 and 2, as I mention above MUST be achieved. It would be helpful to achieve goal number 3 but it is not mission critical. Failure to achieve goals 1 and 2 will mean the end of America as a major world power and it would place the very survival of the country in a very precarious position.
If the Iraqi government will not help us with goals 1 and 2, it will need to be removed. As stated previously our primary goals in Iraq should be containing and rolling back the influence of Iran and Al Qaeda in the country. The question that needs to be asked is does commiting more forces to Iraq help us or hurt us in these areas. If fewer troops in Iraq will better facilitate the containment of Iran and Al Qaeda in Iraq then we shold draw down our troops.
In the final analysis, whether or not Iraq can achieve a representative democracy is up to the Iraqis. It was always going to be up to them. Our job, in this area, should have been to commit enough forces to secure the country and give this process a reasonable chance of succeeding. We never did this. I don't think it would have worked but I sure wish we had commited enough troops to give representative democracy a reasonable chance of working. Had we been able to establish a representative democracy in Iraq it would have helpful to our national security Alas, it did not happen and it is not going to happen, unless the Iraqis do it themselves.
We need to get back to basics and focus on American national security first and foremost. Military actions should only be undertaken, as they benefit American national security. If we are to ever engage in a "nation building" project again, we should do it the way our forefathers who fought WWII did it. Actually defeat the enemy first.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 7.12.2006 @ 16:48
At least one thing we will need to do is to eliminate Al Sadr and his militia. If the Iraqi government is unwilling or unable to do this, the US military will have to do it.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 7.12.2006 @ 14:26
The goals for our intervention in Iraq should be: 1.)an Iraq that is allied with the US in the broader GWOT, 2.) an Iraq that is stable and able to defend itself, and 3.) an Iraq that is a functioning representative democracy. The last goal of having Iraq as a representative democracy is probably not achieveable at this point. It likely never was but we will never know, as we never had the troop commitments necessary to give it a reasonable chance of being achieved.
Goals 1 and 2 can clearly be achieved. If we can achieve goals 1 and 2, Iran and Al Qaeda will be checked. I would consider this a success. By any objective measure I think it would be a success, as Iran and Al Qaeda would be limited in their ability to harm America and the West. Iran and Al Qaeda are not objective. Their propaganda machines will claim victory no matter what.
If we can achieve goals 1 and 2 America may well be able to continue as the world's dominant power. Faliure to achieve those goals will mean the end of America's position as one of the world's dominant powers and may very well place the survival of the US itself in grave danger.
As for suggestions on how to achieve those goals, a temporary increase in troops may be helpful. Also, we may need to focus less on patroling the entire country. We clearly don't have enough man power to do that. We should focus more on Al Qaeda and less effort on the Iraqi Civel War.
Beyond this I'm not really sure, as the optimal solution of vastly increasing the size and strength of the US military contingent in Iraq is unavailable. We must pick among potential solutions things we can implement that have a chance of working. With that said I do know what is definitely not the way forward. If American leaders think they can sacrifice the security of Israel to achieve peace, they are sorely mistaken. Israel is a key buffer between the West and Islamic terrorists. To weaken this buffer only places the security of the US and the Western world in more danger.
The bottom line is the US did not properly execute its Iraq strategy. Israel had nothing to do with the decision to invade Iraq or with the planning and the execution of the Iraq invasion or its aftermath, furthermore, Israel was not even a part of the "coalition of the willing" either. It would be unethical for Americans or their leaders to punish Israel for a mistake that was clearly made by the Americans and their coalition allies.
Finally, the advice to not give up is very sound advice. Humans have faced greater challenges than America and its allies face in Iraq and have emerged victorious. God willing we will do the same.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 7.12.2006 @ 14:10
As always great post. You have nailed it again. The Maliki government has been an abject failure. In the final analysis, whether or not representative democracy was ever going to work in Iraq was going to be up to the Iraqis themselves. We could only do so much. That said, I don't think we ever commited enough troops to give it a reasonable chance. On the other hand, the efforts of the Iraqi government have been wanting as well.
The promotion of representative democracy in Iraq was a noble endeavor, however, it was based on the assumption that the Iraqi people are generally good and decent people who simply want to live their lives in a free and unified Iraq. So far, this does not seem to be the case.
I wish I could be more optimistic but the only way the democracy project in Iraq can be salvaged at this point would be to massively increase the number of American troops in Iraq. Since this is not going to happen, it seems the best course of action will be to redeploy to Kurdish areas and decide which militias best represent American interests and support them. The other major powers in the region and the world will support whatever groups represent their interests.
In any event, it seems that our top priorities, at this time, should be containing Iran and al qaeda while keeping a close eye on Russia and China. Russia is by far and away the greatest threat to American national security. All of the focus on Islamic terrorists may have caused us to lose sight of that. This needs to change.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 29.11.2006 @ 10:02
Excellent post as always. I find myself in agreement with everything you have written in this post. I'm with you on comment # 7, however, I figured out long ago that the current group of politicians we have in Government are not going to do everything it takes to turn the situation around.
The bottom line is America got itself into trouble when its rhetoric ddid not match what it was willing to commit. It would be unethical of American leaders to ask Israel or Lebanon's March 14th forces to pay the price because America miscalculated.
Having a representative democracy in Iraq probably would have had a huge benefit to us. We will never know, if it could have worked. It never got the resources it would have needed to give it a reasonable chance to work and the commitemnt does not appear to be forth coming.
The top priorities at this point need to be containing Iran and Al Qaeda, while keeping a close eye on Russia and China. If we are going to negotiate, we can negotiate with Russia and China to get them to withdraw support from Iran. If we can do that, Iran becomes much easier to contain. After our withdrawl from Shia and Sunni areas of Iraq we will need a strong Israel to help act as a buffer between us and the terrorists. Also, an allied Lebanon could be helpful here too. Attempting to appease Iran and Syria will likely end about as well as appeasing Hitler did prior to WWII ended.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 28.11.2006 @ 11:01
I must agree with Mark that your thoughts are well expressed. We just have strong disagreeements but you seem to be a thoughtful person. It is a pleasure discussing world events with you.
At the risk of veering off topic, in an earlier post (#13) you say that President Bush panders to the religous right. I would consider myself a member of the "religous right" or at least syympathetic to them. Btw, I agree with your earlier sentiment that labels are odious. From my perspective, he does not pander to this group at all. He may throw them a bone now and then and he may say some things that tickle their ears but these people have gotten nothing of substance from him. I would suggest reading some of the articles at www.worldnetdaily.com for more detailed analysis of how the Bush administration routinely sticks it to this group. It seems to me that they have played both ends against the middle and have made very few people happy.
You suggest the president panders to wealthy white men. I find no evidence in the President's actions of this. During the 2004 Presidential campaign the President posed with a Mexican flag and he blasted the Minutemen as "vigilantes." For the record, I think this president should be impeached. His unwillingness to do anything about border security is treasonous.
As a tax accountant, I can say definitively that the tax cuts that were enacted by the President have been a huge boon to the middle class. The middle class has benefited as much, if not more than the rich have. The President's actions have not pandered to rich white men or even to the rich.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 29.11.2006 @ 23:01
If you must laugh, it must be becuase you have not seen or heard the rhetoric that comes from our enemies. Its understandable, as the msm does not cover it very much. The Communist enemy was and is very real. Marxists and Islamic Extremists have joined forces to maek an even more formidable enemy.
For the US to connect a struggle with its dominance in the world, would require it to dominate the world. After WWII, the US did dominate the world, however, now it does not. While it is very influential, arguabley the most influential nation state on earth now, it does not dominate the world. The US, Russia, and China are the big three right now. These three are roughly equal in world influence. They each have different strengths and weaknesses but over all they are about equal.
"In the long run monopolies never succeed because they sow the seeds of their own destruction within them." I agree. This is why ultimately organizations like OPEC and the UN will be obliterated. They are unjust entities who attempt to lord it over everyone else. I wish the US would withraw its support from the corrupt UN but it is comforting to know that the UN and its fat cats will be brought to justice some day. Also, the leftist main stream media is still the dominant source for news, however, they have lost ground in recent years. Their monoply of slanted reporting will not be able to contiune for ever. At this time, the US really has no monoply on anything to bring to an end.
"The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I like this statement from Martin Luther King, as well. I think he nailed it. This is why ultimately Islamic extremism and Communism will be crushed. Perhaps not by the US because the post Christian US and the post Christian western world have, to a large degree, lost the abiltiy to distinguish good from evil. In the end, a Judeo-Chrisian world view will prevail. Ultimaelty freedom, capitalism, and the free enterprise system will win out.
Martin Luther King was a staunch supporter of Israel. He would be appalled at the way Israel has been treated within the UN and elsewhere. I suspect he would be the first to condemn Arab naked aggression against the state of Israel. I also think that he would be horrified at America's wholesale departing from a Christian world view.
Ultimately for justice to prevail Islamic extremism and Communism will be defeated. Hopefully the US will be the one to rid the world of these evil scourges. If the US does not do it, womeone will. If it comes to it, God will personally intervene in the affairs of mankind to put an end to the evils of Communism and Islamic extremism. I look forward to the day that the world is rid of those ideologies of hate.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 29.11.2006 @ 21:53
Before the US can accomplish anything in Iraq the US government will need to decide just what it is that it wants to accomplish and just what constitutes "victory," Just today, George W. Bush talks about democracy and implies that the troops will not be withdrawn until a stable democracy is achieved. While the Iraq Study Group has not issued their report yet, they do not seem to share the same goal. The US will need to decide on a plan that all of the various policy makers can agree on.
Also, the US will want to work to somehow strengthen the hand of moderates within the Iranian government, if there are any. The current regime is as oppressive as any in the world. With this regime it seems unlikely that we could establish a frame work to address the real and imagined grievances that both parties have. For real negotiations to work, both parties must want it. There are many powerful people in the US and the West who are ready and willing to make major concessions. No major policy makers in Iran seem willing. Bush for all of his flaws, seems to recognize that the Iranians are, at this time, uninterested in peaceful relations, however, he may be forced by the political situation into negotiations with them. The approach of many in the US and the West is to assume that there is nothing worse than war and everyone feels the same way. With this mentality in place the Americans and the West would get taken to the cleaners in any negotiations. The long range survival of the US and Western civilization would be extremely precarious.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 29.11.2006 @ 00:50