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Monday, May 09, 2005


richard lo cicero


Professor Cole reports Sundat that the news tells us that it is obvious that the US
Army does not control Baghdad since the insurgents can strike at will. And he concludes that, as a result. Iraq us now a failed state. So, as Country Joe would puy it, Uncle Sam's in a hellova jam way down younder in - well you figure it out. Since we are well and truly stuck and the Army is being destroyed in Mess-O-Potamia the logic of withrawal will grow on policy wonks as time goes by. It will certainly be overwhelming ny 2008. By the way, what were you saying in 1969?

richard lo cicero

Sorry for the spelling. Shouldn't try this in the dark at 2AM. Darn that hunting and pecking!

Michael Turner

Juan Cole goes through mood swings on Iraq. It's hard to blame him. Maybe you'd have to be a lobotomized neo-con on Zoloft to NOT go through mood swings on Iraq.

When he wrote in January, the elections hadn't taken place yet. On Sunday, he was writing in the context of a pretty sad state of affairs: the nascent Iraqi government has blown a huge amount of political capital since the elections, mainly by taking so long to form such a decidely crummy government, and Baghdad is just as out of control as it was before the elections. Cole actually sounded a hopeful note or two in the interim.

What I hated about the war clouds before the invasion was precisely the prospect of America creating a situation where it couldn't, in good conscience, pick up and leave, because leaving would be a recipe for civil war, for the kind of internal bloodbath beside which the depredations of Saddam would pale. A situation in which, if American voters got too weary and pissed off, America might go ahead and leave Iraq anyway, bad conscience or no (except perhaps in leaving behind adequate support of a suitably oil-enriched definition of Kurdistan); leaving Iraq with convenient rationalizations in hand.

If Cold War ideology was profoundly informed by who to blame for "losing China", 21st century American foreign policy may end up colored for decades by who to blame for "losing Iraq." If the Out Now contingent were to get a major gust of wind in their sails, they'd be very convenient scapegoats.

The best situation I can imagine coming out of relatively sudden withdrawal is a Sunni Triangle that becomes a de facto annex of Syria, a Shi'ite south that becomes a de facto annex of Iran, and a de facto sovereign Kurdistan. Syria might be glad to take on the police job just for the oil access. Iran practically controls the Shi'ites at this point anyway (thanks in part to our old buddy, Ahmed Chalabi). The Kurds probably would have to be somehow bound to muting any agenda of Greater Kurdistan, and to cutting Turkey in on oil proceeds. But I think a back-channel deal could be struck, so long as the blame for any residual fallout could also be shifted to some convenient target. I think there are some in this administration who would love to be dragged kicking and screaming into just such a partition of Iraq, wailing about betrayal and loss of nerve the entire time. The whole scenario would be just plum for them if you could also find some way for them to plausibly frame the U.N. for the debacle. Surely, there must be a way.

jim hitchcock

Interesting, dark hypothesizing there, MT. But you just have to know that Bush and his gang aren't going to be put off their plans to domino theory democracy in the Mid East that easily. We're talking legacy here.

Tom Grey - Liberty Dad

The Leftist "Out now" worked so well in '74 Vietnam -- with hundreds of thousands murdered. Of course, the Leftist biased MSM lets them ignore their blood spattered hands. When one advocates a strategic policy (invade or leave), and that policy is followed, one is responsible for the consequences. Not too much on the 30 year anniversary of the Killing Fields start, is there? The biggest genocide since WWII 60 years ago, but almost nothing in the MSM.

Every implementation will have problems. It's silly to expect perfection; but Abu Ghraib as compared to Killing Fields in Cambodia makes me think "staying" has lot more morality.

Democracy is messy. That's always been the reason the US has supported "our bastards" instead. Like we supported Bastard Stalin against the bigger Bastard Hitler. And we supported Bastard Saddam against the bigger Bastard Iran, in the Iraq-Iran wars.

The Iraqis need to keep increasing their own security, and security forces. The Left should be calling for the US to stop controlling Iraqi prisons -- let the new Iraqi government take over and give the standard ME treatment to prisoners in Abu Ghraib. It seems likely to produce more actionable intelligence.

Where is the trial of Saddam? Let's see the tapes of his tortures, to remember what that death squad gov't was like (the one we supported in the 80s). The Shia are suffering from some assassinations, but as long as the Sunnis are killing a LOT more Sunnis, it seems unlikely that the Shia will be SOOO upset.

The US Army insures that no militia, not Sadr's Army or ex Saddamites or Iranian funded militias, can take over. Iraqi Freedom means they decide on their future, so we do NOT know what it is. Freedom, Democracy, Uncertainty. Get used to it.


Michael Turner's doom and gloom has set me to thinking about the war protestors, I'm too lazy to look up their predictions, but they were way off. No hundreds of thousands dead, etc. Then they went into "quagmire mode", then into "the elections are meaningless mode". They have always advocated the worst possible outcomes.

Bush has been more consistent than the war protestors.

My mind is muddled on where I'm going with this, and how important it is. But if the war protestors have been unable to stick to one problem, but rather bounce around, contradict themselves, engage in in-fighting with other war protestors, was there a truly valid reason for not going to war? And are the war protestors seriously interested in working toward the best outcome?

jim hitchcock

"The Leftist "Out now" worked so well in '74 Vietnam."

You know, I really have to disagree with your thesis here, Tom. Just happened to read a quote by David Hackworth last night, where he claimed that Wm. Calley, and the shame of My Lai, more than any major enemy victory, was what caused the American people to withdraw support for the war. You may feel good about being able to point fingers at `Leftist' war protesters, but I ascribe a lot more credibility to Hackworth's argument.

And Ron, consistent how? Like it or not, it is a quagmire. Shouldn't have to point out that Bush's reasons for invading Iraq
have been anything BUT consistent. And now were stuck with the mess he created. I do not agree with the people who say we should get out now, for the reasons Marc, Corn and Cole state.


Something else those opposed to withdrawal might take note of (and I believe you can find this on Cole's site as well) is that the majority of Iraqis seem to want the US out. The platform of the UIA (which won the majority of the vote) stated that they would demand withdrawal; the Iraqis who voted for the UIA believed that's what they were voting for. Various opinion polls show the same sentiment. Why not take their opinion into account?


One more thing: part of the reason for the "withdraw now" position is that Bush's position is to never withdraw. Bush consistently refuses to state when the US will withdraw; or he will offer vague statements, which, given his record, are hardly plausible.

Given the current state of affairs in Iraq and the fact that the US appears to be in a stalemate situation, (which, for the US, is a losing position) it seems that the conditions for withdrawal are unlikely to be met anytime soon. Furthermore, we can expect Bush (or his next fraudulently installed successor) to keep shifting the goalpost, so that the conditions for withdrawal are never met.


Jim Hitchcock asks "And Ron, consistent how?"

Bush overused WMDs as an excuse for war, I won't deny (because I'd get taken apart in that argument). But a primary driver was regime change. I see some lefties now arguing that Bush had already decided to knock off Saddam before the run-up to war started. That is pretty much a defense that regime change is what Bush wanted, and WMDs was the faulty main reason for regime change. (As an aside, regime change was given as a desirable goal by many Democrats during the Clinton Administration.)

But the consistency that Bush has shown is to knock off Saddam and then stay the course. The Administration has been slow to react at times, has relied on unreliable people, in short has made a lot of mistakes; but they have always kept working toward one goal: a Saddam-free Iraq.

Here's something to ponder about Bush's staying power; the low point for war support was just about at election time, and Bush never wavered.

I don't intend to enter a grand defense of Bush or of the Iraq War. I supported the war, but recognized there were many dicey aspects (and still are). But a fine end goal, in my mind, is an Iraq with a government responsive to the people. I believe that goal should be worked for.


It seems to me, having seen both this anti-war group and the Vietnam version, that the left zigs between two opposites: obfuscating 'nuance' and simplistic moral statements like 'out now' with nary a practical program for governance in between.

In '68 Americans did not feel threatened by Ho Chi Minh, so the left won; today most feel threated by Al Quaeda types so the left loses.


How long did we stay in Germany? I don't think complete withdrawal is a measure.

Mark A. York

Sure once a fool gets you sucked into a pit of misery like this you can't get out. That's exactly what many of us were saying beforehand. On the other hand we can't stay forever either. This place needs NATO playing a bigger role as John Kerry proposed in the campaign.



The Germans aren't asking us to leave. In fact, they got quite upset when Rummy recently suggested the US might draw down the forces there (due to the economic damage such a move would cause).

Mavis Beacon

I'm too young to viscerally feel all the parellels between Vietnam and Iraq. And while I'm sure there are some important similarities and we can always learn from history - to me, you guys sound like a lot of old fogies refighting old battles.

The "Out Now" position strikes me as at best naive. Flanders' piece lauds the (very suspect) political advantages of an Out Now position but makes little mention of the policy outcomes. Certainly I am suspicious that this administration still has plans to divy up Iraq's natural resources, auction off reconstruction work to the largest Washington-friendly conglomerate, and build unwelcome military bases in Iraq, and I hope the left will clearly denounce such behavior. But that doesn't justify abandoning all those working to establish a democratic, stable, and safe society.

Lemuel Lemsky

A poem by Marc Cooper:

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden--
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke (1) your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel, (2)
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!


Nice post, Marc....

BTW, in addition to reading Juan Cole's thoughts on what would happen if we pulled out of Iraq (and today's depressing story on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 8 American servicemen killed over the weekend, thereby bringing the worst possible mother's day to 8 American mothers), of particular interest from yesterday and today's posts at his site are:

***Cole's historian's take on Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven..." (in general, he liked it but had a list of notes on missed opportunities in character development)

***....and this little nugget on the newly-captured al-Libi:

"...Christina Lamb and Mohammad Shehzad in Islamabad suggest in the London Times that Abu al-Faraj al-Libi, arrested recently in Pakistan, is being confused with Anas al-Libi, a mastermind of the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa. Abu al-Faraj the Libyan, some observers suggest, is a third-tier al-Qaeda member largely known for involvement in recent plots to assassinate Pakistani Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Lamb and Shehzad go so far as to speculate that the US and the Pakistani governments are deliberately hyping the significance of the arrest to give the impression of great progress in the 'war on terror.'...."


Marc Cooper

Fascinating tidbit there, Rosedog.

As to Mr. Lemsky: what a striking demonstration of your moral bankruptcy. Iraqi civilians? Oh, fuck'em -- as George Bush might say.

Tom Grey - Liberty Dad

"that Wm. Calley, and the shame of My Lai, more than any major enemy victory, was what caused the American people to withdraw support for the war."

I agree -- like the LIES that Lt. Kerry told in his Winter Soldier testimony, er, he only repeated them in testimony, like the National Enquirer, including those told by non-Viet Vets who were impersonating real Vets.

In order to win a war, the winning fighters must
kill, including killing innocents. My Lai, like Abu Ghraib, was an abberration, but even the fine US soldiers are not perfect. Innocents die (no wonder the Pope is against war; the WW II Pope wasn't so keen on war, then, either -- and the Left claims he was Hitler's Pope.)

But the Left trumpets every human flaw of every US soldier as "proof" that the US is evil -- so Bush=Hitler, yada yada.

Vietnam included an immoral draft. A plan to keep fighting, but never to win (no mining of Haiphong, for instance; not to mention nuking Hanoi). A lying Dem president followed by an even bigger lying Rep president -- who can believe the gov't when they say "we're winning"? And while we're fighting, our soldiers are turning into monsters, look what we did in My Lai.

I know the arguments. They're true, good arguments, especially the stupid draft (no problem with recruitment -- just offer the same wage as a Congressman). But fighting evil commies was good. Not fighting them means leaving them to win means allowing genocide. The US responsibility for SE Asian action, and then inaction to allow the Killing Fields, is the greatest immorality of the US in my lifetime.

Kerry accepted thousands of murders as the price to pay to leave. How many have to die before it would be agreed that leaving was a mistake? This question is NEVER answered by Marc, or any other Leftist.

Luckily for Dems, no such problems were seen in Clinton's very successful, hands clean handling of Rwanda's 94 genocide. "No genocide" (just let them die-the usual Leftist solution). All who voted for Clinton in 96 voted to accept genocide.

Mark York "can't stay forever" in Iraq. Why not? We're still in Germany (which we should leave soon, maybe before leaving Iraq). As long as the elected Iraq gov't "wants" us, we should stay. Of course there will be Iraqis who want us gone, others who disagree. Democracy is messy. (Same in the US; some want to leave now -- and accept the bloodbath saying "nobody knew". Bull.)

When the Pres. of Georgia asks the Russians to leave, and they don't, that's bad. Whenever any elected Pres. asks the US to leave, the US should leave. I predict we'll be out before we see the third elected presidents of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

And we'll be a lot closer to a World Without Dictators, then.

Mark A. York

Because they don't want us there for starters, and I'm sick of this winter soldier crap. There is a myriad of documented accounts on the record that are not in question. One bogus claim doesn't cross out the rest which are the majority. What kind of fools do you take the American people for? The real lies are your side Grey.

Comparing Germany and a base is irrelevant, but then so was the comparison to Hitler made so often before the invasion. What an insult to the magnamity that was WWII by pretzel heads like you.


Bullshit. That's my comment. The "we can't pull out now" rhetoric is pure bullshit. Always it's the "Ba’athist fascists are killing Iraqi men, women and babies by the boatloads this week with car bombs" reason why we simply can't up and leave. Despite this belief, isn't it interesting that "Senior U.S. commanders say their view of the Iraqi insurgency has begun to shift, with higher priority being given to combating foreign fighters and Iraqi jihadists." (according to Wapo today "Previously, U.S. authorities have depicted the insurgency as being dominated largely by what the Pentagon has dubbed "former regime elements" -- a combination of onetime Baath Party loyalists and Iraqi military and security service officers intent on restoring Sunni rule. But since the Jan. 30 elections, this segment of the insurgency has appeared to pull back from the fight, at least for a while, reassessing strategies and exploring a possible political deal with the new government, senior U.S. officers here say.).

In time, all the egregious "reasons" for staying in Iraq will unravel, leaving the "supporters" with nothing to show except lots of dead bodies. That's my opinion, anyway.

Mark A. York

Sure. That's certainly valid. At some point you have to say Good luck and here's the ammo.

Marc Cooper

Carrie: It's not a question of finding reasons to support or continue the war. It's about what you do to make the best out of bloody mess made by your government. There's something unsettling to me about the Out Now formula... y'know, it's Bush's war, he made it, let him clean it up doesnt work very well for me.

To me, the big mistale the left made after Bush went ahead and invaded was to simply stick to the "war was wrong" line, period. Yeah, it was wrong. It did however oust a fascist dictatorship and give very tenuous birth to a very tenuoous, very partial, very limited political process. Within that process are lay, democratic, even socialist political forces that oppose US occupation but also support a broadening of the civilian political structures. We should be supporting those people and their efforts to build democracy. Their greatest enemy are not the US troops, but rather the fascist car bombers that have killed hundreds of Iraqis in just the last few days.


To me, the big mistale the left made after Bush went ahead and invaded was to simply stick to the "war was wrong" line, period.
That's fine and dandy, but that's not my line. I support the GET OUT NOW proposition.
Their greatest enemy are not the US troops, but rather the fascist car bombers that have killed hundreds of Iraqis in just the last few days.
I disagree again. However, only time, and history, will prove one of us right or wrong. In the meantime, thousand upon thousands of lives are lost as a result of THIS country's brazen actions. THAT, I personally cannot tolerate, as an American.


Marc: [The invasion and overthrow gave] very tenuous birth to a very tenuoous, very partial, very limited political process. Within that process are lay, democratic, even socialist political forces that oppose US occupation but also support a broadening of the civilian political structures. We should be supporting those people and their efforts to build democracy.


People, especially left and prewar antiwar people, are longing to be able to do something positive that could make a difference. What are some examples?

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