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To hell with nation building, lets see some nation wrecking!

The fact that the leaders of the Sunni minority oppose a federal structure for Iraq, and have the ability to torpedo the new constitution, does not change the reality on the ground that Iraq is already in effect three nations.

The Kurds in particular have both an effective local administration and by far the best militias to call on if needed. The Kurdish situation is also helped by the fact that it was really the Peshmerga who moved into the vacuum and liberated the Kurdish region whilst US and British forces smashed Saddam’s armies in the south.

Eventually if the Kurds do not get the autonomy they desire, it is just a matter of time before they simply secede and I rather doubt the US had either the stomach or the inclination to use force to prevent what is a purely internal matter for the Iraqis and Kurds. Any in any case, so what if Iraq breaks up? The obsession with ‘stability’ and countering Iran is what lead the West to unwisely back Saddam Hussain for so many years and look where that got everyone in the end.

An independent Kurdish Northern Iraq may give the Turks cause to fret (unfortunate but them’s the breaks) and give Iran acute dyspepsia (which has to be a good thing) because Kurdish success in Iraq will no doubt give the Kurdish minorities elsewhere ideas above their station. However I fail to see how thwarting long standing Kurdish aspirations is in the interests of the US and UK, particularly as the Kurds have been quite amenable to US interests as of late and have shown themselves to be the sharpest operators.

Of course the prospect of a Shi’ite Islamic Republic of Southern Iraq is not very agreeable but it at least has the virtue of allowing more tailored pressures to be put on the three constituent parts of ‘Iraq’ rather than a probably futile one-size-fits-all constitution which in any case may fall apart as soon as western forces pull out.

An Iraq of highly autonomous cantons is probably the best that Iraq’s Sunni politicos have any right to expect because the alternative is never going to be a return to the ‘good old days’ of Sunni dominance and centralised rule from Baghdad, it is going to be splitting the county in three independent parts. And there is something to be said for that anyway. To hell with ‘nation building’… sometimes the cause of liberty (and probably long term stability too) may be served by a bit of ‘nation wrecking’.

53 comments to To hell with nation building, lets see some nation wrecking!

  • Paul Rattner

    A split up would be a mixed bag. Part of the thing to remember is that we’re basically at war with the crazier versions of Islam. Keeping Iraq as one country may help keep a lid on the worst Islamic excesses through the mechanism of a nominally secular government.

    The long suffering Kurds have been excellent allies, run themselves admirably, and seem to subscribe to a non-toxic version of Islam. Turkey didn’t lift a finger in the war, so to Hell with their concerns about a Kurdistan on their border, or their worries about secessionist Kurds living in Turkey. The Kurds deserve a state.

    The Shiites are another story. If they form a state, it will tend to be very friendly with Iran. From the looks of it, I don’t think we will much like the sort of Islam that is being practised in the South, and it may turn into a pure Islamic state. I see very shaky relations in the future with this break-away state. Many of the worst lunatics in the Iraqi asylum are Shiites, like Muqtada al Sadr. Man, I wish he’d been hit with a stray bullet last year.

    The Sunnis would be the most bitter. If there was a split-up, they not only lose their top dog minority status, but they lose access to the oil in the North and the South. That means they stay poor and powerless. Expect many explosions.

    I think it goes further. Once the countries split, the Sunni insurgency can’t very well keep targeting itself. No one would care! So they will have to export their bombs to the Shiites and the Kurds. This could lead to a full scale sectarian war. Not a desireable outcome.

  • sark

    This could lead to a full scale sectarian war

    There is already a sectarian war, so seems to me that I agree with the article. Seperate political entities may have the cohesiveness that a united Iraq lacks and may be better able to fight an insurgency.

    As for Sadr, just kill him as he has already taken shots at our guys in the past so he is not just another political figure who needs to be treated by normal political rules.

  • Robert Alderson

    Seperate political entities in the north and south for Kurds and Shiites would probably work. The problem would be in the centre. Would Baghdad be treated as part of the Sunni region despite the large Shiite population of sectors like Sadr City?

  • Giles

    I cant see the objction to a split even with the oil problem

    The one country in the middle east that went for federalism was the UAE – and it’s been the most prosperous Middle Eastern country to date. Even more pertinetly the province without much oil – Dubai – has turned out to be the most prosperous. Might the same happen in to an oil deprived sunni centre.

    Secondly I think a shite south would in fact be stabalising. It’s stop Iran feeling so isolated as the sole shite country in the area and so might make it feel less insecure and aggressive. Perhaps this is just wishful thinking…. but perhaps not?

  • J

    If you partitioned, you’d have to expect the same problems that India and Pakistan had. Iran might not be able to resist funding and arming the Shia division to attack the others. And if it did, Arab nations might not be able to resist funding and arming the Sunnis. Kurdistan is a good idea, and I agree that we shouldn’t care too much about what Turkey think. The worst case would be that it would give rise to a fundamentalist anti-Kurd / Turkish nationalist element in Turkey, which could badly de-stabilise the country, and we don’t really want an unstable, muslim nation right next to us.

    I tend to think Iran comes out of all this the best. Their much hated neighbour Iraq will be significantly weakened whatever the outcome is, and the Iran-friendly Shia factions in Iraq will be much more powerful in the future.

  • One big sticking point: who gets Baghdad?

  • James

    Ah, but if a ‘weakened’ Iraq would lead to agression from Iran, would that not provide the perfect excuse to initiate regime change in Iran?

    Or, if we managed to drag the UN along, would the same mistake be made to leave the Mullahs intact like we did with Saddam in ’91?

  • It is pure lunacy that Sadr is still breathing seeing as his militia was actually firing on allied troops a while back. He made himself a legitimate target for a 5.56mm hole in the head and it is a great pity that window of opportunity was missed.

  • Who gets Baghdad? Who says it has to remain whole? If one part of Baghdad wants to be part of Shiastan and the other Sunnistan why shouldn’t it be partioned on that basis?

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Patrick:

    Remember the green line in Beirut?

  • htjyang

    Perry,

    The US won’t stop the Kurds from declaring independence. The US will simply stand aside and watch the Turks slaughter the Kurds.

    Kurdish independence is suicidal.

    A “Shi’ite Islamic Republic of Southern Iraq” may join with Iran, thus increasing that country’s control of Middle East oil and pose greater threat to Saudi Arabia.

  • Kurdish independence is suicidal.

    I think you greatly over-estimate the power of the Turks and under-estimate the political savvy of the KDP and PUK. Also importantly the Peshmerga of post-Saddam Iraq are vastly better organised and armed than the sundry alphabet soup of half-arsed Kurdish insurgents within Turkey.

    I very much doubt the Turks are going to ‘slaughter’ the Kurds and I also think you under-estimate extent to which the Kurds (or at least the PUK and KDP) and Turks are willing to make accomodations with each other as both are nothing if not pragmatic. It is the Iranians (and Syrians to some extent) who really are likely to be the biggest losers of a Kurdish state in what is now Northern Iraq.

  • Even more pertinetly the province without much oil – Dubai – has turned out to be the most prosperous.

    This is a common myth – Dubai is not the most prosperous, despite the fancy buildings they keep slinging up. Abu Dhabi is far far richer.

  • ET

    Dubai is an interesting example because its economic growth/health depends on the lack of freedom in Iran. After all, my friends in Dubai tell me, who would really want to live there if they could live in a free Iran? Iran has better water and a better climate. But… well it does not have the things that make economic growth possible.

    So applied to Iraq, one could presume that the most free place can be economically viable and prosperous even without oil.

  • Julian Taylor

    Possibly we’re omitting the Saudi factor in this discussion. I very much doubt that the seat of all Wahabism would look forward to the notion of bordering onto a Shia-dominated state, especially given the lack of love that the marsh Arabs (the Southern Iraqi Shias) have for both Kuwait and for the Saudis. Coupled with the possibility that they might seek to ally with Iran, that could well be the tinderbox to ignite further bloodshed and strife in the region – something that the Saudis must look forward to since it serves to focus attention away from themselves. Having said that it would appear that the new terror threat in Iraq is Iranian and not so much Al Queda, orchestrated by yet another unsavoury character by the name of Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani

    Regarding the Kurdish situation perhaps we should pay more attention to the Iranian Kurdish region than the Turkish one. In fighting just a few weeks ago Pezhak killed 4 Iranian policemen and, according to various reports, there was another running battle on or around the 19th August with an unknown number on both sides killed or wounded.

  • Original Constructor

    Conclusion: It’s a mess, and western meddling has made it a worse mess.

    Some situations don’t have tidy solutions. Folks in this part of the world enjoy feuding. They’ve been at it for centuries. Leave ‘em to it; whoever comes out on top will be skint and desperate to sell us oil, and you know damn well at heart that this is the only reason why the US went charging into the hornet’s nest in the first place.

    Come home, America.

  • I often have similar thoughts about Africa. Part of me believes that what Africa needs is a bloody great continental war to reset national boundaries to a more natural state. If this prospect wasn’t so monumentally bloody, I would take it more seriously.

  • Morken

    A split-up would certainly be an advantage for everybody in the long run. Smaller political entities compete more among themselves which usually leads to more civil and economical freedoms. Secession? Sure!

  • Regarding the Kurdish situation perhaps we should pay more attention to the Iranian Kurdish region than the Turkish one.

    Quite so. Anything which destabalises Iran sounds just peachy to me.

  • Julian Taylor

    blockquote>It’s a mess, and western meddling has made it a worse mess.

    If George W had been like his father or John Major and left Saddam well alone, how long do you feel it would have been before Iran orchestrated an assassination of Hussein and then effectively walked into Iraq? The other option is how many bases inside Iraq would Al Queda now possess, all the while enjoying watching a neutered West bleating on about how bad the Middle East situation is?

    It might be bloody but I think what we see at the moment is infinitely preferable to the alternative of pulling out of the region or allowing this or that terror faction to gain control there.

  • Could we extend this idea of nation-splitting to the United States and Canada?

  • Jacob

    “To hell with nation building, lets see some nation wrecking!”

    Nation wrecking is akin to nation building – both being exercises in social engineering. Social engineering isn’t possible and should not be attempted.

    Let the Iraqis split if they wish, but without the US pushing one way or the other.

  • Miso Hungry

    because Kurdish success in Iraq

    According to the Washington Post, we’ve simply created multiple Saddams:


    Shiite and Kurdish Groups Seizing Control, Instilling Fear in North and South

    BASRA, Iraq — Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country’s divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.

    While Iraqi representatives wrangle over the drafting of a constitution in Baghdad, the militias, and the Shiite and Kurdish parties that control them, are creating their own institutions of authority, unaccountable to elected governments, the activists and officials said. In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents have said they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein….

    …Since the formation of a government this spring, Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, which claimed members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot. The province’s governor said in an interview that Shiite militias have penetrated the police force; an Iraqi official estimated that as many as 90 percent of officers were loyal to religious parties.

    Across northern Iraq, Kurdish parties have employed a previously undisclosed network of at least five detention facilities to incarcerate hundreds of Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and other minorities abducted and secretly transferred from Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, and from territories stretching to the Iranian border, according to political leaders and detainees’ families. Nominally under the authority of the U.S.-backed Iraqi army, the militias have beaten up and threatened government officials and political leaders deemed to be working against Kurdish interests; one bloodied official was paraded through a town in a pickup truck, witnesses said.

    “I don’t see any difference between Saddam and the way the Kurds are running things here,” said Nahrain Toma, who heads a human rights organization, Bethnahrain, which has offices in northern Iraq and has faced several death threats….

  • Julian Taylor

    Do you really believe for one second that the USA has actually created ‘multiple Saddams’? Since March 2003 I don’t think I’ve heard of any USA, British, Australian, Iraqi or even Kurdish troops doing the things described here [LINK], simply because they said something nasty about George W or Our Little Tone.

  • Miso Hungry

    I don’t think I’ve heard of any USA,

    Hold that thought until the next round of Abu Ghraib pictures comes out.

    simply because they said something nasty about George W or Our Little Tone.

    The reason for being assassinated (being in the Kurdish militia’s way instead of being in Saddam’s) is beside the point. We’re evidently replacing one thugocracy with three, and risking a civil war among them in the bargain.

    This:

    Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot

    is not what we were promised when we invaded.

  • MT Wilkins

    Deleted. Relevent remark but previously banned for posting under multiple names

  • Miso Hungry

    Thanks to Bush and his neocon friends it will now be legal to stone women to death for adultery,

    Women and non-Muslim men worse off (that being over half the Iraqi population right there), Muslim men ‘free’, despite the belief of the supporters of the war that it’s Muslim men who are behind all the ‘Islamofacism’.

    Anything we do wrong in Iraq is a propoganda coup for Al Queda, and we’ve provided a wonderful training ground for the terrorists we’re supposedly fighting against – created from a country that wasn’t ‘Islamofacist’ before. So we’re giving AQ recruits and training.

    WMD? Need we go there?

    So far, every prediction by supporters of this war has been the exact opposite of the actual result.

  • So far, every prediction by supporters of this war has been the exact opposite of the actual result.

    Not at all. Contrary to your claims and implication that things were not as bad under Saddam because he was a secular mass murdering tyrant, things are indeed improved. Obviously the situation is far from ideal but then as you are talking about predictions, I never expected the aftermath to be anything less than messy.

    I fully expect Iraq or whatever comes after Iraq, to be just common or garden variety Middle Eastern dumps (rather more democratic dumps, but still dumps) rather than havens of liberty… but that will still be an improvement over Ba’athism.

  • Anon

    “Relevent remark but previously banned for posting under multiple names”

    Perry, I can see freedom of speech isn’t very high on your priority list of civil liberties.

    No wonder you support Dick Cheney and “Grand” Ayatollah Sistani…

  • Miso Hungry

    Obviously the situation is far from ideal

    Will you go to Iraq and blog, live, on the road from the city to the airport?

    I never expected the aftermath to be anything less than messy

    A mess other people live through (or not live through) while you stay safe at home, of course. Social engineers of all political persuasions think of other people as mere raw material for their big dreams.

    but that will still be an improvement over Ba’athism.

    Why does that label, “Ba’athism”, make everything you want OK when it wasn’t Ba’athists who attacked us on 9/11? Ba’athism is just warmed over socialism like every thug uses to run a country into the ground – nothing new or uniquely evil about it. You may as well brag about ultimately replacing thugs w/ facial hair w/ clean shaven thugs, or taller thugs w/ shorter ones.

  • Perry, I can see freedom of speech isn’t very high on your priority list of civil liberties.

    Not a very intelligent remark. There is no civil right to ‘freedom of speech’ on my private property. If a person is invited to a party at someone’s house and then decides to express themselves by abusing others, un-inviting them and throwing them out is the right of the owner of the property. Likewise, if a poster (i.e. you) makes multiple posts agreeing with each other using different names but all from the same IP address, that is the sort of thing that gets you banned. Don’t like it? Tough.

    It is a ‘private property’ issue, not a ‘freedom of speech’ issue.

  • Miso Hungry, one canard after another. I have been to wars before (Croatia and Bosnia, 1991-1996) and probably have a better first hand idea what the cost is to people on the ground when a tyranny is overthrown and also how what comes next is rarely paradise, though it is (usually) an improvement.

    The fact I do not live in Iraq does not preclude me from having a view. Let us turn that around: you are living nice and safe in the west, well away from Saddam’s henchmen.. or did you used to live in Halabja and just happened to be off on holiday when Saddam gassed everyone (you know, Saddam, that not-so-uniquely evil guy you mentioned). What makes you so qualified to opine that life and death under Ba’athism was preferable to what is going on now?

  • Miso Hungry

    you know, Saddam, that not-so-uniquely evil guy you mentioned

    Killing civilians, alas, does not make him uniquely evil. If only it did.

    or did you perhaps you used to live in Halabja

    According to Wikipedia:

    The massacre at Halabja did not raise protests by the international community in March 1988. At the time, it was admitted that the civilians had been killed “collaterally” due to an error in handling the combat gas. Two years later, when the Iran-Iraq War was finished and the Western powers stopped supporting Saddam Hussein, the massacre of Halabja was attributed to the Iraqis.

    Some debate continues, however, over the question of whether Iraq was really the responsible party, perhaps stemming from well supported claims that the United States supplied chemical weapons to Iraq. The matter is further complicated by the fact that the U.S. State Department, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame. According to an article published in the International Herald Tribune by human rights researcher Joost Hiltermann the US intentionally tried to shift the blame for the gassing of Halabja off of Saddam, and declassified State Department document demonstrate that US diplomats received instructions to press this line with United States allies.

    While the United States never supplied full-fledged chemical weapons to Iraq, it did provide chemical and biological agents such as anthrax and sarin gas, as well as satelite photographs and battlefield intelligence to Iraq which it knew was to be used in “calibrating” Iraqi chemical weapons attacks against Iran (Bob Woodward, “CIA Aiding Iraq in Gulf War; Target Data From U.S. Satellites Supplied for Nearly 2 Years” Washington Post December 15 1986.) Furthermore, the US provided “civilian” helicopters, ostensibly for crop spraying, which intelligence sources believe were used to deploy the chemical weapons in Halabja (Henry Weinstein and William C. Rempel, “Big Help from U.S.; Technology was Sold with Approval and Encouragement from the Commerce Department but Often over Defense Officials’ Objections,” The Los Angeles Times, 13 February 1991.)

    What makes you so qualified to opine that life and death under Ba’athism was preferable to what is going on now?

    Could it be the fact that Iraqis are fighting harder against us than they were against Saddam before we invaded? They’ve shown they clearly have the means to oppose a government, unless you intend to take that drive to the Baghdad airport.

  • Miso Hungry

    What makes you so qualified to opine that life and death under Ba’athism was preferable to what is going on now?

    As someone backing a government attempt to change the status quo, wouldn’t the burden of proof be on you and not on those who oppose government action?

  • Dr Victorino de la Vega

    Deleted by editor: Which bit of ‘banned’ did you not understand?

  • Snide

    Some debate continues, however, over the question of whether Iraq was really the responsible party [for gassing Halabja]

    Riiiight, not credulous at all, nope. I am sure it was those damned Estonians who done it!

  • Miso Hungry

    I am sure it was those damned Estonians who done it!

    Or those damned Iranians – they were there and you hate them, too, don’t you?

    What makes you so qualified to opine that life and death under Ba’athism was preferable to what is going on now?

    You can make a damned good case that life for Iraqis is worse now than it was under Saddam at the time of the invasion. Yea, he acted worse in the 80s when he knew we’d support him no matter what against Iran, but Iraqis were safer before we arrived. If everyone advocating this war had said they expected what we had now, the war would never have happened.

  • Snide

    The Iranians were in Halabja? When? And they used poison gas when?

  • Miso Hungry

    The Iranians were in Halabja?

    From the Wikipedia article above:

    The Halabja poison gas attack was an incident on 15 March-19 March 1988 during a major battle in the Iran-Iraq war when chemical weapons were used, allegedly by Iraqi government forces, to kill a number of people in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja (population 80,000). Estimates of casualties range from several hundred to 5,000 people. Halabja is located about 150 miles northeast of Baghdad and 8-10 miles from the Iranian border.

    Most current accounts of the incident regard Iraq as the party responsible for the gas attack, which occurred during the Iran-Iraq War. The war between Iran and Iraq was in its eighth year when, on March 16 and 17, 1988, Iraq dropped poison gas on the Kurdish city of Halabja, then held by Iranian troops and Iraqi Kurdish guerrillas allied with Tehran; throughout the war, Iran had supplied the Iraqi Kurdish rebels with safe haven and other military support.

    Again, …the matter is further complicated by the fact that the U.S. State Department, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame.

    More on the ‘freedom’, Christian Coalition style, we gave Iraq:

    It’s strange that an enormous, almost ridiculously micromanaging document like the Iraqi draft constitution ought to come down to its use of a single word….

    …Article 17, Part 1 reads: “Each person has the right to personal privacy as long as it does not violate the rights of others or general morality.” Article 36 says that freedoms of “expressing opinion by all means,” “of press, publishing, media, and distribution,” and “assembly and peaceful protest” are guaranteed “as long as it does not violate public order and morality.” And in that one word, “morality,” the hopes of a free and open and democratic Iraq are as dead as the soldiers falling there as this is written.

    Let’s re-state this: If you engage in personal, private activity that violates “general morality,” you do not have the right to engage in it….

  • asus phreak

    Dude, quoting Wikipedia is a hoot, even for a Saddam booster like you. And did the Persian ever use gas on anyone? Nope. Fact is the even the article you’re waving agrees it was nice Ol’ Saddam who gassed everyone, so what the hell has the State Dept got to do with deciding if Saddam was just normal evil (which I guess you like) or special evil (like someone who gasses whole towns)? I didn’t read anyone boosting for the State Dept.

    Facts man. Sucks, don’t it?

  • Miso Hungry

    Facts man. Sucks, don’t it?

    My point was that this happened during the Iran-Iraq war (and was explained as “collateral damage”), when we were supporting Saddam despite this, and our government tried to blame (partially, at least) Iran because that suited their purposes at the time.

    That wasn’t happening at the time we invaded – there was no immediate crisis that required an invasion right then and there, and we’ve made Iraqis less safe now than they were when we invaded. One more case of people pushing this war being dead wrong, but not giving a shit about it.

  • So are you claiming I (and presumably other writers here) was in favour of UK/Soviet (& Russian)/French policy of supporting Saddam before 1991 and only changed my mind after then?

    If so, on what basis? If not, then how are your remarks about the pro-Ba’athist policies of the US before 1991 relevent to the support for overthrowing Ba’athism found on these pages?

  • Miso Hungry

    If not, then how are your remarks about the pro-Ba’athist policies of the US before 1991 relevent to the support for overthrowing Ba’athism found on these pages?

    Because it points out that what you claim required invasion in 2003 happened well before then, during a fight to the death between Iraq and Iran (wars cause civilian casualites, which is why most sane people don’t cheerlead for them). It may have justified intervention at the time, but can’t be banked to justify any war you want later. There was no immediate crisis that required invasion; Iraqis were for the most part safer immediately before we invaded than they are now.

    Also because most government power grabs (and war results in more power given to the government – read the PATRIOT Act sometime) are justified by the need to ‘solve’ problems created by previous government activity. Pre-1991 support for Saddam creating ‘Saddam’ requiring invasion is yet one more example. Don’t reward the State with more power to fix things it’s responsible for in the first place. You’ll have more long term support trying to stop them from supporting future tyrants (and avoiding the divisive wartime “NO DISSENT ALLOWED!!!!” your conservative friends just love) in the first place, if it’s The End of Tyranny you want.

    The result of the current WOT is fewer civil liberties at home, thanks to your Republican friends; their agreement with you on the war isn’t a coincidence, restricting civil liberties at home and invading Iraq are sold as part of the same war for the same reason (“Danger!! Danger!!”). You are just their fellow traveller. You’ve struck no big blows for Iraqi civil rights if it turns into a theocracy (and fewer rights for the female half of the population in practice). Trading freedom for security? You’ve yet to give Iraq either with no real hope of success in the future.

    Fewer rights at home, not many rights in theocratic Iraq, and less physical security in Iraq after invasion than immediately before. Good job.

    Sooner or later, you’ll switch your argument from “Me and Bush was right” to “I was right but Bush screwed it up – look here where I specifically said I wasn’t Republican”. Nothing that happens in Iraq will ever prove you wrong. If it succeeds, you were right. If it fails, Bush the idiot screwed it up.

    Mr. de Havilland is always right.

  • Miso Hungry

    Fewer rights at home, not many rights in theocratic Iraq, and less physical security in Iraq after invasion than immediately before.

    I left off less security at home, as the army is tied up in Iraq and not ready for anything else significant anytime soon. We can’t threaten anyone else since we don’t have troops available to mount another Iraq invasion/occupation (and can’t afford two of these at once as far as the budget goes; Iraq is already hitting WWI level expenses).

  • Nate

    Miso,

    “Could it be the fact that Iraqis are fighting harder against us than they were against Saddam before we invaded? ”

    All Iraqis? How many? Better question, what fraction of a population would you need to create the level of chaos currently going on in Iraq. 20%? 10%? 1%? If the resistance were truly large and coordinated, why are they using the intimidation tactics? Why are they killing more Iraqi civilians than Coalition troops? My guess is it’s closer to 1% than 50%. …and if 1% of YOUR country was allowed to bully the remaining 99% that wouldn’t be terribly democratic, now, would it?
    So I offer an alternative hypothesis: MOST Iraqis are at least somewhat content with the prospects of the new government and a VERY small fraction of them are not and are using asymmetrical weapons and tactics to intimidate the remainder. Think about it. No…I mean *THINK* about it, really, really hard.

    While I haven’t been there myself, (the Army passed up their opportunity with me quite some time ago) my cousin just got back from a year in Baghdad and has been very informative. For a more publicly accessible view from the ground in Mosul, try http://michaelyon.blogspot.com (not that I expect you to care, actually)

    Look, if you have an ideological bone to pick “war is not the answer” or whatever, fine. Can’t argue an axiom. We’ll have to agree to disagree…but cherrypicking news and trying to infer a larger pattern isn’t very honest to yourself or whoever you’re trying to convince.

  • Antonius

    Iraqis were for the most part safer immediately before we invaded than they are now.

    Yeah, and Jews were safer in Germany in 1939 than they were in 1943. Idiot.

  • Mike

    I left off less security at home, as the army is tied up in Iraq and not ready for anything else significant anytime soon.

    Sure, ya never know when we’re gonna to need a couple divisions of troops to enforce, er, sumthin’ back here in the USA. Jeez, what planet are you from?

  • Sooner or later, you’ll switch your argument from “Me and Bush was right…

    Please link to where I ever took that position as opposed to “I suspect Bush’s motives but overthowing Ba’athism is the right thing to do even if the rest makes little sense”. That has always been my position so no switch is required but hey, I write a lot of things and sometimes I forget stuff, so please go find that link or two…

  • Miso Hungry

    If not, then how are your remarks about the pro-Ba’athist policies of the US before 1991 relevent to the support for overthrowing Ba’athism found on these pages?

    Also, because supporting invasion requires you to trust the government that supported Saddam earlier when it suited its purposes to do right by Iraqis today, and that’s unlikely.

    MOST Iraqis are at least somewhat content with the prospects of the new government and a VERY small fraction of them are not

    One hundred thousand Shi’ites protest Iraq charter

    and are using asymmetrical weapons and tactics to intimidate the remainder. Think about it. No…I mean *THINK* about it, really, really hard.

    No, you need a larger than 1% chunk of the population giving info to the insurgents and denying it to the occupiers for this to work, and you cannot just assume it’s all due to intimidation simply because that helps you. If intimidation is working, it’s because of our failure to provide security, which is another thing screwed up about this ‘successful’ war.

    Yeah, and Jews were safer in Germany in 1939 than they were in 1943. Idiot.

    You never would have sold an invasion in 1939 based on predictions of future bad behavior. Besides, while evil, Saddam wasn’t Hitler.

    Sure, ya never know when we’re gonna to need a couple divisions of troops to enforce, er, sumthin’ back here in the USA.

    Invasion was sold in part by promises that other tyrants would be intimidated into good behavior seeing Saddam overthrown in a week. That ain’t gonna happen as they know we don’t have the resources to overthrow or occupy anyone else.

  • because supporting invasion requires you to trust the government that supported Saddam earlier when it suited its purposes to do right by Iraqis today, and that’s unlikely

    It requires nothing of the sort. In fact I trust the US government to make a hash of thing in Iraq the way it and every other government does everywhere. The big change is that Saddam and his Ba’athists are gone, which contrary to your apologias (“he was not as bad as Hitler”) is indeed an improvement, and now at least there is the distinct possibility that the previous state of tyranny can be replaced by something significantly less dreadful.

    That ain’t gonna happen as they know we don’t have the resources to overthrow or occupy anyone else.

    And so by that logic, if you cannot do everything, you should not do anything. A rather weak proposition.

  • Nate

    100,000? Ok…so let’s say that every protester represents say…20 others? So that would be 2M people…out of a nation of 27M? That would barely suffice for a fringe party let alone a mainstream consensus.

    Today an insurgency MIGHT need more than 1% of the population…but I doubt it would NEED that. Obviously participation is at multiple levels from the “shooters” to those who simply keep quiet when asked questions. All of which would be voluntary participation as opposed to being intimated into being quiet, etc. I don’t see this, in abstract, as being much different from the hey day of organized crime in the US. In some parts of the country, the criminals had the tacit support of the population and law enforcement was stymied for quite some time (perhaps a decade or more) before containing it. The significant difference is the scale of weaponry used. (Ahhhh….there’s that asymmetric warfare stuff again.)

    “Asymmetric warfare” is the term of the new millenium, Miso…and its upon this that I think more people need to meditate. Long gone are the days when you needed a division of rifleman and artillery, or a wing of bombers to destroy a city. The primary question here (meaning for perhaps the next generation or so) is how do you DEFEND against such threats? If a few pissed off people…let’s say 1M of them…one out of every 6,000 people get pissed off enough to start using the very nasty weapons that are becoming cheap and accessible….how do we stop it? It’s an open question that to which I have no answers. Do you?

    The current administration and some think tanks, etc…think the best defense is a good offense. They may be wrong. But then, we know that our current defenses weren’t working — that was aptly demonstrated, already.

    Iraq is a rough place and will be for some time. Gen. Franks himself thought we would be there for at least 5 years and he knows a lot more about the situation there than I do. Given how the events are unfolding…he’s probably right. But this should not detract from the good things that have been going on there and will continue to do so.

  • Miso Hungry

    In fact I trust the US government to make a hash of thing in Iraq the way it and every other government does everywhere.

    Including the ‘hash’ of leaving things as bad as or worse than they found them at the time of the invasion (if not as bad as during the height of the Iraq/Iran war, which had ended some time ago). Stripping the “Ba’athist” tag off the tyrant(a) du jour don’t mean squat.

    And so by that logic, if you cannot do everything, you should not do anything. A rather weak proposition.

    It highlights a neocon prediction that turned out to be utter bullshit (remember the cries of “on to Damascus!!”?). It also highlights our finite resources, and given that they are finite, maybe we should keep our powder dry for tyrants who actually threaten us instead of spending it on ones that don’t.

    If Bush had predicted the current state of affairs in Iraq, he wouldn’t have gotten his war.

    100,000? Ok…so let’s say that every protester represents say…20 others? So that would be 2M people…out of a nation of 27M? That would barely suffice for a fringe party let alone a mainstream consensus.

    Given the continum of opinion from shooting back at our troops to throwing flowers at them (instead of a fake either/or proposition where anyone not shooting at us loves us), these numbers shooting and protesting show we ain’t popular.

  • Miso Hungry

    if not as bad as during the height of the Iraq/Iran war

    Meaning I’m not expecting Iraq/Iran war bad, but pre-invasion bad as how badly our government can easily screw Iraq up.