Provocative thoughts about Iraq


Now that the Surge has been indisputably successful, and the debate is mostly about what one does with that success going forward, it’s possible to have more intelligent and dispassionate discussions of what has happened, is happening and should happen in Iraq.

Here are two examples that were side-by-side on the WSJ‘s opinion pages this morning:

  • Francis Fukuyama’s "Iraq May Be Stable, But the War Was a Mistake," in which he tells of a $100 bet he lost. He had predicted in 2003 that at the end of five years, Iraq would be a mess of the sort that "you’ll know it when you see it." Of course he lost, and paid up. But he is not giving ground on whether we should have gone into Iraq to start with. He still says that much-larger-than-$100 gamble wasn’t worth it.
  • Jonathan Kay, in a book review of The Strongest Tribe by Bing West, describes how local U.S. commanders in Iraq understood from the start what it would take to succeed as we now have. But they were hampered by a SecDef who ironically had a little too much in common with the antiwar folks:

    Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary until November 2006, was focused from the get-go on bringing the troops home and insisted that "the U.S. military doesn’t do nation- building."

    It was only after Bush got rid of Rumsfeld and then decided to do what the likes of Petraeus and McCain advised did our success begin.

    Probably the most compelling part of the review is at the beginning, where a passage describing what it was like to be a gyrene in Fallujah in 2004 was quoted at length:

    "Imagine the scene. You are tired, sweaty, filthy. You’ve been at it day after day, with four hours’ sleep, running down hallways, kicking in doors, rushing in, sweeping the beam of the flashlight on your rifle into the far corners. . . . there’s a flash and the firing hammers your ears. You can’t hear a thing and it’s way too late to think. The jihadist rounds go high — the death blossom — and your M4 is suddenly steady. It has been bucking slightly as you jerked and squeezed through your 30 rounds, not even knowing you were shooting. Trained instinct. . . . ‘Out! Out!’ Your fire team leader is screaming in your face. . . . [He] already has a grenade in his hand, shaking it violently to get your attention. . . . He pulls the pin, plucks off the safety cap, and chucks it underhand into the smoky room."

15 thoughts on “Provocative thoughts about Iraq

  1. bud

    Indisputably successful? There are still plenty of suicide bombings. The Sunni goverenment is apparently trying to disrupt voter registration. Water and power supplies are still far below pre-occupation levels. And what’s more we still have more than 100,000 troops in Iraq. When they come home I’ll say the surge was successful. Otherwise it’s just right-wing spin.

  2. bud

    One days worth of “success” stories in Iraq:
    08/14/08 BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb killed one person and wounded seven in Karrada district, central Baghdad, police said.
    08/14/08 BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb killed one person in western Baghdad’s district of Mansour on Wednesday, police said.
    08/14/08 BAGHDAD – Two bodies were found with gunshot wounds in Baghdad on Wednesday, police said
    08/14/08 BUHRIZ – A roadside bomb killed two policemen and wounded six others when it struck their patrol in the town of Buhriz, 60 km (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad on Wednesday, police said.
    08/14/08 Iskandariya – A female suicide bomber killed 19 people, mostly women, and wounded 75 on Thursday when she detonated an explosive vest in a crowd of pilgrims being escorted by police to a shrine south of Baghdad, police said.
    08/14/08 KIRKUK – The body of a murdered policeman was found in southern Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
    08/14/08 MOSUL – Gunmen killed a father and wounded his son when they stormed their house in eastern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, on Wednesday, police said.
    08/14/08 SALMAN PAK – A roadside bomb killed one policeman and wounded five people, including two policemen, in Salman Pak, 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said.

  3. Lee Muller

    There are more people murdered at the Mexican border in the last 3 years than all the allied soldiers killed in Iraq in the last 3 years.
    On average, our losses in this war on Islamic Terror are fewer than the deaths in military training exercises.

  4. Lee Muller

    SALMAN PAK is the location of Saddam Hussein’s highjacker and bomber training camp, where Al Qaeda and Hamas were trained to wreck planes, busses and trains.

  5. bud

    What’s indisputable is the cost of this attempt at colonization: 1 million Iraqis dead. 4,200 American soldiers dead. 30,000 American soldiers wounded. $3 trillion dollars of treasure wasted. Respect and credibility from the world community lost. A precident has been set and the Russians are more than happy to indulge in their own little bit of nation building.
    There really should be no debate about what to do now. The Iraqis have already said they want us out in 16 months or so. That’s pretty much what Obama says he will do. So let’s elect Obama and get on with what has to be done. Any additional attempt at a military occupation beyond the Iraqi timeline can no longer be taken seriously as a tenable course of action.

  6. Lee Muller

    1,000,000 Iraqis were starved to death by Saddam under the corrupt Oil-for-Food plan, while Clinton and the UN were complicit.
    This war has saved another 1,000,000 innocent Iraqis from extermination, while killing tens of thousands of bad guys. Sure the terrorists have killed many innocent people – that’s their method. But dead terrorist kill no more.

  7. Doug Ross

    The “surge” was just a finger in the hole in the dam.
    Remove the finger, pretty soon we’ll be back waist deep in the big muddy.
    Our superior firepower and troops on the ground have suppressed the sectarian violence. That’s all.
    I don’t know what your definition of success is but mine doesn’t include killing thousands of people (including many innocent men, women, and children who apparently are just the costs of doing war). My definition of success does not include paying for today’s “war” with money we don’t have.

  8. Lee Muller

    Why is it that “liberals” don’t care how may innocent people are killed intentionally by Saddamists, Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, only those killed accidentally by US forces?

  9. Doug Ross

    You know I’m not a liberal. But I am anti-war.
    We didn’t need to fight a ground war to fight terrorism.
    If Dan Rather could get within ten feet of Saddam Hussein just before the war, why couldn’t one of our Special Forces do the same? I believe we should resolve these issues from the top down versus the slash and burn mentality that feeds the war machine. One bullet from a sniper rifle would have done as much good as five years of troops on the ground.
    Same goes for Al Queda. When we decide to go after Bin Laden for real, let me know.

  10. zzazzeefrazzee

    “SALMAN PAK is the location of Saddam Hussein’s highjacker and bomber training camp, where Al Qaeda and Hamas were trained to wreck planes, busses and trains.”‘
    Herr Müller,
    Your assertion that Salman Pak was the location for training al-Qa’ida terrorists is beyond flimsy; it’s downright ludicrous fiction. See pg. 83 of the 2006 Senate Report on Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq. The Defense Intel Agency clearly stated that such allegations were not credible, just like the “evidence” that linked al-Qa’ida with Saddam’s regime.
    “Why is it that “liberals” don’t care how may innocent people are killed intentionally by Saddamists, Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, only those killed accidentally by US forces?”
    Are you saying that US forces themselves aren’t concerned about those accidentally killed?
    I was concerned about those killed by Saddam going back to the 80’s. At that time, we hated Iran so much we didn’t bat an eyelash for a minute when it came to supporting Saddam. That remained true even when Halabja and Suleymaniye were gassed and reduced to rubble.
    The problem is that whacko conspiracy theory-inclined frauds like yourself keep asserting that Saddam had something to do with Osama and al-Qa’ida, when that was clearly never the case. Just because Saddam was one hell of a bad apple in no way justifies the entire shifting rationale for invading Iraq in 2003.
    My grandmother always said “clean up your first mess before your make a new one”. That bit of sound reasoning was utterly lost on this administration- and an angry American public- when the case for invading was made. We are now paying the price on that original front called AFGHANISTAN.
    Since Iraq was never treated by the administration as a scenario that was separate or distinct from Afghanistan, why should we do so today? Our initial efforts to pursue al-Qa’ida were clearly compromised when the decision was made to invade Iraq. That is still very much the case as we discuss this issue today.

  11. p.m.

    ‘Twas amazing last night how the “debate” at the California church made Obama look so ponderous, posturing and indecisive after McCain’s appearance showed us how forthright, decisive and committed looks.
    McCain scored several touchdowns. Obama, who avoided mentioning Iraq as if he were dodging tacklers, just ran around in the backfield. The contrast between the two was stark.
    Obama believes in government. McCain believes in leadership.

  12. Lee Muller

    The US Army captured the Salman Pak Terrorist Training Camp, intact, just as described by pre-war intelligence, complete with an airline, busses and train cars for practice.
    They also captured video tape of Saddam Hussein telling the terrorists to, “Kill the Jews, but attack America first!” Records and videos identified quite a few known hijackers and bombers.
    The full 9/11 Commission Report contains all the evidence. Read it, not the street version put out by Democrats to spin away blame from Clinton.

  13. zzazzeefrazzee

    Herr Müller,
    You reply fails in every way to convincingly prove your contention that Salmak Pak had anything even remotely to do with Al-Qa’ida. Neither the capture of any equipment, Saddam’s rhetoric, nor the 9-11 commission report that you mentioned support your premise in the slightest. The 2006 report that I previously mentioned containing clear, unambiguous, statements from the DIA that flatly contradicts all of your claims.
    Rather it is you should be the one to pay close attention to the latter report in particular, instead of the conspiracy theory-laden drivel that you are fond of parroting.

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