Comments Posted By TallDave
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And only when they are convinced that the Shias are not out to destroy them will the Sunni insurgents lay down their arms and join the government.

As an addendum, I should point out this is in fact happening.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 29.04.2007 @ 22:20

Ah, time.

I remember being told in 2004 Iraqis wouldn't vote or wanted a theocracy. In 2005 we were informed the effort to liberalize Iraq was doomed because they couldn't agree on a constitution, and in 2006 they couldn't form a government. This year, the Anbari tribes were never going to join the police.

There's always something for defeatists to point to. Just pick up your morning paper and the MSM will be trumpeting the insoluble problem du jour.

I agree Bush has not been a great communicator on the war, which is one reason why there is so much excitement about Giuliani despite his social liberalism. With the entire MSM arrayed against the effort, it takes a master orator to put things in their proper contect.

But in Iraq, if not in America, time is on our side not against us: every day the ISF get a little stronger, the insurgents get a little weaker. The tide has turned in Anbar. Petraeus is deFOBbing our troops into small, local garrisons that create security for Iraqis rather than security from Iraqis. Al-Sadr has fled the field and many Shia militias are apparently standing down.

If Rick really thinks the Kurds are just waiting for us to leave so they can declare their Kurdish state, with respect I think he doesn't understand the region's political situation very well. Everyone, especially the Kurds, knows that Turkey cannot tolerate a Kurdish state on their border. The Kurds want a federalist Iraq with a PERMANENT American presence, not our departure.

Here's a simple point that very few Americans understand: Aside from Sunni Arabs, most Iraqis don't think the current situation in Iraq is that bad right now. Polling shows this over and again, with a majority saying life is going fairly well. How is that possible, with the car bombs going off all over? Well, Iraq isn't the U.S. or Europe: if you're Kurdish or Shia, there's a good chance you're digging your relatives out of mass graves put there by the last regime, and you've certainly spent the last few decades without basic freedoms like assembly, speech, and press -- or being allowed to own things like satellite dishes, computers, and cell phones.

Liberalizing Iraq was never going to be easy. We should just be thankful the price isn't nearly as bloody as in South Korea, Japan, or Germany.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 29.04.2007 @ 22:07



Regarding your update:

Yes Dave, our policy will be a success when we are able to draw down the bulk of our troops and we are farther from that today than we were at the beginning of the year

Well, I've made the first point myself before. The second is simply not true, by the estimation of every military official, Iraqi or American, I've heard speak on the issue. Read the Iraq Index; we have vastly larger numbers of ISF trained, even leaving aside the fact we now have a constitution and a constitutionally elected government, neither of which existed a year ago. Much more reconstruction has been completed. The institutions of government are better-established. Yes, the sectarian violence is worse, but that has ebbed and flowed in Iraq for decades; we do not control it and to imagine we do is both hubristic and self-defeating.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 22.08.2006 @ 20:36

The serious plan for invasion and occuptation under General Zinni assumed enough troops to impose order, secure ammunition dumps and borders and all the rest

This assertion is among the more silly commonly made. Imposing order is not a question of numbers; the French put far higher relative numbers of troops into Algeria and not only failed to impose order but actually lost the war. Having a bigger footprint might have just created a lot more resentment, a lot more casualties, and resulted in us being much worse off. And there's no question we'd have had far more logistical problems and spent a lot more taxpayer money doing it that way, both of which make conflicts more difficult to sustain. The commanders on the ground decide troop levels.

Anyway, foreign troops make terrible policemen; they don't speak the language, don't know the locals' routines, and usually don't stick around in one place for more than a year or so. Imposition of order is a responsibility of local institutions, which is why we're training all these ISF. What Iraq needs is time to develop those institutions. As was mentioned in the military briefing today, troops can only carry out suppression of existential threats to those institutions, to provide space for them to develop.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 22.08.2006 @ 20:26

What we did in Iraq did not work.

People keep asserting this, so I guess it must be true. I mean it's not as though we successfully removed Saddam and put him on trial, held elections with huge turnout, seated a gov't with representation from all major factions, established a constitution by referendum, held another election with even bigger turnout, seated another government from those elected under the constitution, trained 275,000 troops, and face no strategic military threats to the current government. And it's not like Iraqis now enjoy more political freedom, according to the Index of Political Freedom, than any other countries in the region excepting Israel and Lebanon, and are more optimistic about their future than Americans, and have a Prime Minister with higher approval ratings than our President.

Because if we'd accomplished all that, surely it would be hailed a major success for freedom and democracy, regardless of sectarian violence.

So none of that must have happened, right?

Comment Posted By TallDave On 21.08.2006 @ 16:25

You are correct that the problems in Iraq are solvable. And forgive my generalizing but you seem to dismiss “civil disorder” as something trivial. If not trivial, perhaps something that looks worse than it is.

It's not trivial, it's just not a military problem, in scale or in quality: it's civil disorder, not civil war. Civil disorder generally cannot be solved by military means, because soldiers make lousy policemen, especially foreign soldiers. This is why we're training massive numbers of ISF instead of bringing in massive numbers of U.S. troops.

In many ways, it would be a hell of a lot easier if it WERE a military problem. When your problem is an army, you can just destroy it. Our military is superb at that sort of thing. Establishing a civil society is a lot trickier, espeically in a land that has been ruled by thugs for so long. It may take decades, and for the most part it won't be done by us, but by Iraqis.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 21.08.2006 @ 15:57

Until we can drastically reduce the flow of blood, the government will not have legitimacy in the eyes of the people

Again, polling seems to indicate that is not true: Maliki had a 55% approval rating in the last poll. That's a higher approval rating than Bush has seen in years.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 21.08.2006 @ 15:03

There is nothing stable about the Iraqi government – not when there are important elements who are exhibiting dual loyalties to both Iraq and Iran...There is nothing stable about a government where huge swaths of territory is not under its control

That's certainly a novel definition of stability. You do realize Saddam never controlled those areas either? You realize most countries in the area have "vast swaths" of their countries not under gov't control? Iraq's government is in no danger of falling, and ask any Arab how he feels about taking orders from Persians. And as for divided loyalties, look at Quebec, or Ireland. Iraq is being held to a standard few other countries meet.

I’m talking about an Interior Ministry rife with traitors who have created their own death squads

You call them death squads. Ask many Shia, and they'll them "justice squads" in retaliation for Sunni terrorism. Roughly the same thing happened in El Salvador in the 1980s when Communists were behaving the same way the Sunni Iraqis are now. It's bad and it should be stopped, but it's far from the end of the world, as the El Salvadoran example proves.

kill the hope of the Iraqi people for the future.

The last poll, taken in June, showed most Iraqis think their country is headed in the right direction. That means Iraqis have more confidence in Iraq's future than Americans have about America's future.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 21.08.2006 @ 15:01

Massive troop deployment and engagement will only refuel and intensify the insurgency at this point. It is too late, with too many blunders already committed, to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, so they may themselves extinguish the insurgency.

Sorry, but that's just silly. You talk about insurgency like it's a house on fire that everyone wants to put out, rather than self-interested parties acting in their perceived best interests. Sunni youth are fighting because it offers them a chance to seize power, achieve status, and earn money (either from ransom or from Saddamist/Al Qaedist paymasters). More U.S. troops, less U.S. troops, it wouldn't matter, because post-Fallujah this isn't a military problem, it's a civil disorder problem, and will be solved only with the imposition of Iraqi civil authority.

There are large numbers of people in Iraq who want, for various reasons, to commit murder. The major difference is that today those people are not running Iraq's government.

Iraq has had huge, bloody civil wars every decade for some time now, well before we ever showed up. The current violence is unfortunate, but everything that goes wrong in Iraq is not our fault, nor necessarily our problem to solve. The democratic gov't is in little danger of falling, Saddam is on trial, and Iraqis have a measure of freedom.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 21.08.2006 @ 13:53

But I realize many readers who have been following my evolving position on the War in Iraq know how pessimistic I have become over the last six months about the chances of that bloody land achieving anything like a stable, democratic government.

Huh? Iraq has a stable, democratic government NOW, blood notwithstanding, and 275,000 troops (they may not be model soldiers, but by all accounts the majority are superior to their enemies) to keep it that way. There's violence, but strategically there is no existential threat to the regime. The insurgency is local to Sunni areas, has no popular mandate at all, and really amounts to little more than a major criminal enterprise.

People are taking a not inconsiderable amount of civil disorder (which one might expect from the collapse of a brutal police state) and blowing it out of all proportion. Read Powerline's analysis of the Iraq violence and comparisons to actual civil wars; things could be a LOT worse.

As for Cobra II, I found it next to worthless as an analysis. It constantly makes cause and effect assumptions that have little or no basis in reality. It's basically a collection of DNC talking points.

There are a lot of problems in Iraq, but they do not come near to equalling the successes: we've crushed Saddam's regime, put the dictator on trial, and now Iraq is a democracy with one of the highest degrees of political freedom of any country in the region besides Israel.

Comment Posted By TallDave On 21.08.2006 @ 13:34


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