Thursday, February 08, 2007

Light at the End of the Tunnel

To Help Iraq, Let It Fend for Itself.

Get used to it: proposals for realistic solutions to Iraquagmire are going to start emerging faster than you imagine. They will not be painless for those bitter-enders who have been clinging on to George Bush's coat tails long after his trousers are shredded by the dogs of war - his useless and unnecessary invasion and occupation of Iraq. This pertains especially to the Republican members in Congress, desperate cling-ons who voted against their own anti-war resolutions.

Here's but today's example: Edward Luttwak, (whom I have posted before and will again), writes in the New York Times, To Help Iraq, Let It Fend for Itself. His is a specific proposal for immediate disengagement:
By this, I don’t mean a phased withdrawal, let alone the leap in the dark of total abandonment. Rather, it would start with a tactical change: American soldiers would no longer patrol towns and villages, conduct cordon-and-search operations, or man outposts and checkpoints. An end to these tasks would allow the greatest part of the troops in Iraq to head home, starting with overburdened reservists and National Guard units.

The remaining American forces, including ground units, would hole up within safe and mostly remote bases in Iraq — to support the elected government, deter foreign invasion, dissuade visible foreign intrusions, and strike at any large concentration of jihadis should it emerge. This would mean, contrary to most plans being considered now, that United States military personnel could not remain embedded in large numbers within the Iraqi Army and police forces. At most, the Americans would operate training programs within safe bases.
Luttwak says that human
intelligence is to counterinsurgency what firepower is to conventional warfare, and we just do not have it or the capacity to gather information on our own. Thus the sacrifices of our troops on the ground are mostly futile . . . .

The total number of American troops in Iraq — even including any surge — is so small, and their linguistic skills so limited, that they have little effect on day-to-day security. Nor have they really protected Iraqis from one another. At most, the presence of American soldiers in any one place merely diverts attacks elsewhere (unless they themselves are attacked, which is a sad way indeed of reducing Iraqi casualties).
Whenever we take offensive actions against one sectarian element or another, it is not understood by Iraqis as a peace-keeping measure; it is seen as taking sides. As I said before, there is no 'center' in Iraq to 'hold': Maliki is Bush's 'man in Baghdad', but he's not the man for Iraq. Luttwak says,
. . . . the prime minister would have to be a veritable Stalin or at least a Saddam Hussein, able to terrorize Iraqi soldiers and policemen into obedience. Mr. Maliki, of course, has no such authority over Iraqi soldiers or police officers; indeed he has little authority over his own 39-person cabinet, whose members mostly represent sectarian parties with militias of their own.
Iraq is fractured. Religious sects - Shi'ite and Sunni - are themselves fractured among different militias; the larger militias have their own schisms. With disengagement, Luttwak sees
. . . both Arab Sunnis and Shiites would have to take responsibility for their own security (as the Kurds have doing been all along). Where these three groups are not naturally separated by geography, they would be forced to find ways to stabilize relations with each other. That would most likely involve violence as well as talks, and some forcing of civilians from their homes. But all this is happening already, and there is no saying which ethno-religious group would be most favored by a reduction of the United States footprint.

One reason for optimism on that score is that the violence itself has been separating previously mixed populations, reducing motives and opportunities for further attacks. That is how civil wars can burn themselves out.

In any case, it is time for the Iraqis to make their own history.
I have to say at this point that there are only one or two obstacles blocking the light from end of this tunnel: Bush and his ringmaster, Cheney. Their shadow over our country is already receding, but their control over our ineffectual occupation of Iraq has to be actively repudiated, rescinded, revoked, repealed, removed.

27 Moderated Comments:

Blogger skip sievert said...

You still do not get it Vigilante.
The war has the approbation of Congress. It is an economic , not a social construct of rightness or wrongness.
Our system requires war to expand our economy.
Not only is this war not going to end, it is going to expand into bordering areas.
Huge , Gigantic fortunes have been made from all this , and the bounty of Americas resources have been destroyed for large piles of money.
It is our system that is destroying the U.S. -
Light at the end of the Tunnel.?
There is a brick wall at the end of this tunnel that we call the American Economy.
If it is not this war it will be another.
It is the tried and true method of saving a price system to grow further.
Chaos ensues.
Our present system fails.
It has lost its ability to be creative. It is controlled by the special interests of the ;
Military/Industrial/Congressional,
COMPLEX.~!~

2/08/2007 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

On a very real sense the 'surge and splurge' is understandable after Don 'Go-In-On-The-Cheap' Rumsfeld's dismissal. Bush and Cheney felt they had to pull out all the stops. The trouble is, there's not that many more troops to pull out of the bag. Besides, they've already pulled too much in general.

2/08/2007 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

Your right Messenger, we are tapped out as far as troops are concerned. Taking the worn-out equipment issue out of consideration, which I hear we now have closer to 80 billion worth sitting at repair depots not being replaced, the mental stress involved in combat makes guys less and less effective after each tour. Now throw in the added worries of how the family is doing back home and that reduces effectiveness even more. As in Vigil's excellent post we will see as time goes on the troops just sitting behind razor wire fences just marking time. A major chunk of troops will be out before the 2008 election. What Iraq looks like then is a whole other matter.

2/08/2007 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous pekka said...

If I have drawn the correct conclusions about the surege and the strategy there in, the aim is to plant the American presence into the cleared neighbourhoods in Baghdad. To this plan to succeed, however, necessitates the troop presence there to an unforseeable future with the corresponding increase in American causualties. Whom you think will be able to wait/fight longer, the hunkered down Americans or the more or less local insurgents?

2/08/2007 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

Ah, Pekka, I'll bet on the indigenous insurgents over the international surgers.

2/08/2007 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Of course pekka is right.... the so called insurgents and the numerically stronger Shi'ite forces win.

And Luttwik is also correct in predicting (actually demanding) that a new Saddam Hussein or even a Stalin emerge to rule Iraq with an iron fist and the business as usual genocide that accompanies such leaders. Perhaps a pol pot can gain control. The killing fields can reign supreme.

Of course al Qaeda might be able to import overwhelming forces and arms.

The good news is that no more "American Boys" will die.

Are you all happy with this outcome?

the Wizard.......

2/08/2007 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Are you all happy with this outcome?

No. I am not at all happy about it. I do however recognise the fact that it is highly unlikely we have any chance of averting it.

What is the alternative? Continue sending in thousands of US soldiers to be cannon fodder so we can pat ourselves on the back and say we didn't "cut and run" and end up with the exact same outcome?

The alternative would be to remove Bush and Cheney and get someone with an ounce of diplomatic savvy to at least begin trying to lay out a diplomatic course. Oh wait, we've had that option all along but we keep dragging our feet.

I guess Chruchill was right and we have to exhaust every other possibility first.

2/09/2007 01:14:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

We are fighting the 'war' for economic reasons. It has nothing to do with the logic presented here.
Organized Crime , as in our Political establishment controls this.
This is not a moral issue as people think here, but just desire to make more money on the part of the Establishment. The Corporatacracy runs the Establishment.
The war will expand soon , in order to make more money. People here are Dreamers and Utopians, Moralists , and Preachers, Name Callers , that believe in easy solutions to problems they don`t understand.
Its the System that needs changing.

2/09/2007 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Wizard, your sarcasm is a little hyperbolic.

No, I am not happy with this out come? No. Am I surprised about this outcome? No. Stuff happens when you lie in order to market an unprovoked invasion of another country. Bad stuff. Unintended stuff.

Had I have been alive at the time of our American Civil War, I don't think I would have been happy either. And I think I would have been unhappier had France or England or both had invaded at the same time.

2/09/2007 10:26:00 AM  
Anonymous pekka said...

Messenger, you have been posting brilliant comments lately! They sort of made me shut up for a while and just take a notice.

2/09/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

messenger - Were you aware that both France and England were heavily involved in the Civil War? Both supplied arms, food, supplies, naval support and troops!

France supplied the Confederacy and England the Union.

Factually, the South, heavily supplied by France was winning the war. The North was starving and running short of critical materials including cotton.

The course of the war turned with the blockade of Southern ports. The iron tight blockade stopped the unarmed French ships from resupplying the South. Meanwhile England, whose transports were heavily armed both aided the blockade of the South and supplied much needed food and material to the North.

As to my sarcasm, if we don't serious think about the consequences of our actions today we are no better than George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

the Wizard.....

2/09/2007 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

Wizard, could you give a old southern boy the run down on how England supplied troops to our late War of Northern Aggression? I can dig the arms and supplies and even the naval support because a lot of the Confederate navy was built in English shipyards but the troops thing is news to me.

2/09/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger M.D. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/09/2007 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger M.D. said...

At some point, a lot of Americans are going to die all at once and things will change. Until then, don't hold your breathe.

Unless the Green Zone comes under siege, we will be shipping bags of money over there until a Democrat gets into the White House.

You know they won't start caring until the casualty rate goes up. Things are good now. Money is being made, the right-wing slime machine is in full-court press, and the ideologues are happy to play little games with Iran for the foreseeable future.

2/09/2007 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

A good, spirited, creative discussion going on in this thread, which I don't wish to have it discontinued. I could not, not post today's Luttwak contribution. All three are related. Beach, Pekka and Messenger seem to be honing in on the points I would like to see illuminated. Wizard's courageous opposition proves that real meat is being tasted in here. NY Mama and M.D. are obviously waiting to ponce. I hate to leave, but I have the 2nd worse cold on the west coast and I'm going to make myself a pillow sandwich with my head as the filling. But Please, Please carry on!

2/09/2007 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Get well soon Vigilante.

Not sure I'm in "pouncing" mode. I'm beginning to suffer from semi-apathetic hopelessness regarding the course of this war and the country in general.

M.D.'s comment that it will be "business as usual" until there is an incident resulting in mass US casualties and/or the GZ comes under heavy attack is exactly what I believe.

I figure it's coming to that, I was only off in my time frame, I expected it in January. So I'm not psychic, just fairly good at seeing which way the wind is blowing.

2/10/2007 04:47:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

People could not care less how many people are dying. Money is being made. Fortunes are being won. Buddy`s of the Military and Congress are growing fat and happy. Corporations are making and selling vast quantity`s of goods.
People here are extremely naive in their interpretation of what is going on. Making it a contest of Political right and wrong. The system requires this blood letting to grow. Is that so hard to comprehend.?
The entire caste and crew is involved. Look at who and what is backing the Politicians on both sides. What 'Interest groups.'
This site seems almost like a hopeless case sometimes. There are a couple of people here that seem to get it though.
Vigilante certainly is not one of those. He is still doing his old fashioned preaching and moralizing about conduct , and personality`s being good or bad.
Its the SYSTEM. It rewards bad acting , and is set up against the American people , and for Globalism.
Snore...

2/10/2007 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Its the SYSTEM. It rewards bad acting

Who exactly is "the system"?

I've seen the enemy and he is us. Was never more true than now.

Hence my growing depression.

2/10/2007 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

NY Mama says, I've seen the enemy and he is us. Was never more true than now.

It is clear to everyone in the world who the enemy is. Even newly-autocratic Russia can lecture democratic U.S.A. about our unilateralism and win points. Get a little of Putin, this week:

One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is very dangerous. Nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can hide behind international law.

This is nourishing an arms race with the desire of countries to get nuclear weapons.


Mr Putin's spokesman Dimitry Peskov said the speech was

...not about confrontation, it's an invitation to think. . . Until we get rid of unilateralism in international affairs, until we exclude the possibility of imposing one country's views on others, we will not have stability. . .

The joke - and it's a bad one - is on us. Everyone 'gets it' but us.

2/11/2007 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Beach Bum - I've been doing a little research about the British, French (and, as it turns out Czarist Russia's) involvement in the American Civil War and I have learned (and re-learned) so much, we would need an entire blog to even begin to dicusss the issues. Fortunately there are already several excellent Civil War web sites.....

Here are three very interesting points to help answer your question.

1. England switch sides in the American Civil war about half way through the war. Initailly the British were allied with the South and this is when British ships and troops were dispatched to actually engage in the war and fight the North. The Union literally came within hours of fighting a war on two fronts, the second front comprised of British troops coming south from Canada.

This happened because the American's had fired upon a British ship near Cuba and boarded the ship and had taken as prisoners, Confederate Ambassadors to both England and France!

Britian demanded an apology and the immediate release of the prisoners. The Union rejected the demands.

Literally hours before the invasion fleet was to land, Lincoln backed down and the prisoners were released into British hands.

2. Engalnd changed sides only after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which happened two years into the war (Lincoln made the proclimation on September 22, 1862, with it taking effect on January 1, 1863).

After changing sides, England only then stopped the French armaments and French modified battle ships from reaching the Confederacy).

3. A POINT OF MAJOR INTEREST TO THE READERS HERE. The Emancipation Proclamation was made by Lincoln using an incredibly broad interpretation of the "War Powers Act." Any repeal of slavery would most certainly require an act of Congress (at the very least).

But Lincoln only freed the slaves in the Confederacy! Any slaves held in states which had not left the union and joined the Confederacy were still slaves!!!

From the American Heritage Encyclopedia: "Lincoln had issued it [The Emancipation Proclamation] as a war measure, basing it on his belief that the President's undefined "war powers" permitted him to do just about anything he chose to do in order to win the war"

"And in Europe the American Civil War had become something in which no western government dared to intervene. The government of Britain, France, or any other nation could play power politics as it chose, as long as the war meant nothing more than a government's attempt to put down a rebellion; but no government that had to pay the least attention to the sentiment of its own people could take sides against a government which was trying to destroy slavery."


Lincoln's bold move forced the Europeans to support the North. Although cynics on web sites will be quick to point out that they actually changed sides when the South actually began to lose.

As long as the South looked like a winner, only Czarist Russia supported the North.

the Wizard........

2/11/2007 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

I'm sorry but I can't resist adding a little more concerning the use of The War Powers Act..... This is good stuff.... my apologies to those who are here about Iraq.....

Perhaps President Bush believes he has such far reaching powers because of the amazing actions Lincoln took.

Lincoln "declared that on January 1, 1863, slaves in rebellious states or parts of states should be "then, thenceforward, and forever free"; and he added, perhaps indiscreetly, that "the executive government of the United States . . . will do no act . . . to repress such persons . . . in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom."

There were many reasons for the Emancipation Proclamation. One most certainly was to gain support from Europe. But another was to hopefully start some sort of Insurrection in the South.

And although Linclon personally opposed slavery, the extremely legalistic Proclamation "was not expressive of any general antislavery policy."

The following quotes are taken from a web site about The Emancipation Proclamation

So famous has this proclamation become, and so encrusted with tradition, that a correct historical conception of its actual effect is rarely found in the voluminous literature which the subject has evoked.

The stereotyped picture of the emancipator suddenly striking the shackles from millions of slaves by a stroke of the presidential pen is altogether inaccurate.

On this point one should carefully note the exceptions in the proclamation itself. The whole state of Tennessee was omitted; none of the Union slave states was included; and there were important exceptions as to portions of Virginia and Louisiana, those being the portions within Union military lines.

In fact freedom was decreed only in regions then under Confederate control.

"The President has purposely made the proclamation inoperative [declared the N. Y. World] in all places where we have gained a military footing which makes the slaves accessible.

He has proclaimed emancipation only where he has notoriously no power to execute it.

The exemption of the accessible parts of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia renders the proclamation not merely futile, but ridiculous."


However, Lincoln's efforts did start a process that ultimately did free all slaves, but only through a Constitutional Amendement.

I promise no futher historical interuptions.

the Wizard.......

2/11/2007 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Historical detours notwithstanding, Wizard, you are conspicuously non-responsive to Beach Bum's point. In so many word, he asked how many pairs of French, British, Russian (or whatever) landed on American soil and undertook an armed intervention in our Civil War?

2/11/2007 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

Wizard, yeah man. I've read about the Trent Affair, incident, or crisis several times, and had a history professor that kind of emphasized it in his class. My professor, a former navy man, hated Captain Wilkes who commanded the USS San Jacinto and started the whole incident by taking the Trent. Your previous comment implied active combat involvement of foreign troops in the civil war.
For some un-repentant 21st century Confederates its a major "what-if" scenario they like to fawn about that would have forced England and France to officially recognize the Confederacy forcing the Union to the negotiation table to end the fighting. A de facto Confederate victory forever splitting the country.

2/11/2007 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

Responding to Pekka (above):

The surge illustrates the Bush administration’s basic misunderstanding of the war in which we are engaged. Iraq is not the type of conflict where one can simply draw up a checklist and eliminate enemies one by one. All of the main groups are lined-up against the occupation; some are merely waiting for the US military to crush their traditional rivals before they act. Increasing the violence at this point only strengthens future adversaries and undermines the prospects for a political solution.

2/11/2007 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Does everyone have to be a Political gamer.?
Simply, the war has expanded our economy. That was its purpose.
It also supported our 'ally' in the area.
Those whose minds become fixed on complicated theories and admiration of their own ideas lose the ability to deal with reality.

2/12/2007 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger LTE said...

Vigilante, on Putin: Tragically, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin's criticism of U.S. foreign policy is valid. The Bush doctrine of preemptive invasion is not only morally wrong, it undermines U.S. security interests. The rush to war in Iraq, in defiance of U.N. resolutions and while weapons inspectors were still permitted access, signaled a disregard for international law. The fact that the rationales for war — weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda — were demonstrably untrue compounded the effect. The virtual adoption of analytical positivism by the Bush administration inevitably and rationally encourages all nations to seek nuclear parity or deterrence. To restore American honor and trust abroad, we must repudiate this provocative policy and punish those responsible by the only constitutional means available: impeachment.

2/13/2007 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

New Rep. Sestak (D-Pa) calls for Iraq withdrawal

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/nation/16741175.htm

Q: If U.S. forces left, would Iraq become embroiled in even worse violence? Would it spill over into a regional war?

A: "I don't think the violence is going to end immediately, but I don't believe it's going to spiral without control endlessly." Mostly Shiite Iran and mostly Sunni Syria don't want to fight one another in a proxy war, he said. Both countries, however, do want to see the United States take losses in Iraq. "Having more troops just makes us bleed more profusely. If we aren't there, their incentives change. They don't want instability in Iraq."

Q: Would a pullout give terrorists a new base?

A: "I don't agree with those who say this is the central front on terrorism." Most of the violence is by Iraqis, not foreign fighters, he said. Also, Shiites in both Iraq and Iran oppose Sunni extremists, including al Qaida. "They're after their own interests, but they happen to coincide with ours."

Q. What do you propose for Iraq?

A. First, set a date for withdrawal. "Those who are fighting understand that as we referee this civil war, there's a certain level of violence above which the U.S. military is able to control things. When that lid is taken off, this is the first time leaders of various sides have to accept the consequences. If they go too far, the retaliation against them may go too far.

"Second, we'll give you economic aid and we'll give you some military assistance from the air and special forces."

2/24/2007 09:29:00 AM  

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