Iraq: Moving forward after the 'Three Week's War'.

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Red-Seven, Apr 24, 2003.

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  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    If that has been the strategy all along, then it is certainly one that the Iraqi people will support least of all, just above the U.S. nationalizing Iraqi oil fields on the list. The idea that American megabases on Iraqi soil will be "less visible" than the ones in Saudi Arabia is as ludicrous as the fanciful notion that the Iraqi people or the Arab world will tolerate presence of large bases in Iraq more than the previous bases in Saudi Arabia.

    More fundamentally flawed thinking from the administration.

    Moreover, it's not a peacekeeping mission if its overt goal is to maintain military hegemony over the region as a whole.
  2. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

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    Aug 25, 2005
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  3. Erk Force Ghost

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    Aug 12, 2001
    star 4
    "Not trying to be rude, or offensive, but do any conservatives, or liberals, here still support the Bush Administration's handling of the war? I know some to the far right, personally, who do, and it boggles my mind."

    Just interested how you think they should have handled the war. Is the war itself a mistake? I mean when this kind of decision is made you'll have to count on it turning out the way it has.
    It's unfortunate it has, but I don't see how they could have handled it otherwise. Except not invade at all, offcourse.
  4. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    t's unfortunate it has, but I don't see how they could have handled it otherwise.

    may i recommend reading the last several dozen pages? you'll see any number of ways it could and should have been handled differently.
  5. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    As KnightWriter said, there have been many corrections they could have made listed already here. One of the bigger corrections they should have made was actually admitting they were wrong, instead of remaining arrogant and ignorant of the fact that it wasn't going right. The simple fact they had to wait until things got this bad to say 'Well, we might look into altering our strategy' is just disgusting.

    As for the war itself, I'm not entirely sure. From the beginning, I always had a different perception of the war. I thought the war itself was somewhat needed, although it shouldn't have been rushed or been the top priority of the administration, like it was. If it was handled right, I wouldn't have a problem with. However, sadly, that isn't true. Just my perception of it.
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    The idea that American megabases on Iraqi soil will be "less visible" than the ones in Saudi Arabia is as ludicrous as the fanciful notion that the Iraqi people or the Arab world will tolerate presence of large bases in Iraq more than the previous bases in Saudi Arabia.

    No, you're just thinking from an outsider's perception, and you can't paint every country in the Middle East with the same brush.

    For example, the US has a military presense in the UAE. Why hasn't it been an issue? Because the UAE is one of the more secular Arab nations, and the military presense is more accepted by the average citizen there. As a country, the UAE shares a common border with Saudi Arabia. What does a mere couple of KM's matter? It matters a lot as it relates to regional perception.

    It's not an exact illustration, because we don't view the White House in the same way, but how do you think people would react if the UN headquarters moved from NY into the White House? It's more complicated than saying "oh well, the specific location doesn't matter because the UN HQ is located in the US anyway, so one location is as good as another."

    There were some deep social and philosophical issues tied to the perception of having foriegn troops occupying the birthplace of Islam. Such issues don't exist in every country in the arab world simply because they happen to be located in the Middle East.

  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Perhaps you're clinging a bit too desperately to the idea of abandoning KSA military bases as a justification for the invasion of Iraq. It seems to me that a horrific misunderstanding of the "deep social and philosophical issues tied to the perception of having foreign troops" in Iraq is exactly what has led to the wrongheaded notion that placing semipermanent American megabases there would be feasible from the point of view of regional perception.

    It's true now that Arab outrage at the idea is not going to be any different from Arab outrage at the idea of Saudi bases, and to many people it was obvious at the beginning of 2003. Certainly it was obvious to the Saudis, who urged the Americans not to invade Iraq. The Saudis were not among those Middle Eastern strategists who felt that American bases in Iraq were a viable alternative to U.S. bases on Saudi soil.
  8. Mr44 VIP

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    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I don't think I'm clinging to anything. It's just a single reason that defined the US's relationship in the region before the invasion.

    I will say that as a proponent of Clausewitz's friction theory as it relates to military action, I do see how it relates to a larger picture. There is a difference in scale for moral reasoning that causes someone to coordinate a massive operation in a foreign country, as opposed to merely responding to what is perceived as a local threat.

    In modern, 9/11 laden terms, it's the difference between hyper-terror and conventional terror, but both concepts still fall under Clausewitz's 1873 assumptions.
  9. Erk Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2001
    star 4
    KnightWriter - That be like reading a BOOK?!
    Shinjo_jedi - Thank you.

    Things can always be handled differently but invading a country will always be invading a country and the complications that followes this would be probable however you handle it.
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I will say that as a proponent of Clausewitz's friction theory as it relates to military action, I do see how it relates to a larger picture.

    I'd love to read your analysis of Clausewitzian friction as applied to the Iraq war. I've read "Vom Kriege" in the original German and of course the passages on the intersection of war and politics are classic as well as the famous concept, "daß der Krieg nur ein Teil des politischen Verkehrs sei, also durchaus nichts Selbständiges," "war is just a part of, and therefore not in any way independent from, politics."

    The extension of initial political mistakes into the military sphere is of course an area ripe for interpretation from the point of view of "friction."
  11. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    While I haven't read it in its original German, we again seem to be saying the same thing.

    That's truly why I like Senate discussions. Two people can start with the same foundation, but develop vastly different conclusions.
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Certainly the gap between political goals and ideological beliefs about what is achievable and a nation's capacity to achieve those goals through military means is a specialized kind of friction. This is more about the fog of war that happens before any shots are even fired (e.g. bad intelligence about wmd, about how a civilian population will react to occupation, about possible sources of resistance, about necessary troop levels, etc.). This would come under the rubric of "ignorance about the enemy" as well as, perhaps, ignorance about one's own military strengths and likely capabilities.

    Clausewitz said that Der Krieg hat freilich seine eigene Grammatik, aber nicht seine eigene Logik. "War has its own grammar, but not its own logic." In other words, any war that a government fights will be as smart or as dumb as the politics that back it up.
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    In early November, I suggested here that the first thing the newly humbled Bush administration should do is convene an international summit on Iraq. The Iraq Study Group apparently took my recommendation to heart, recommending that Bush begin his new Iraq strategy by:

    immediately launch[ing] a new diplomatic offensive to build an international consensus for stability in Iraq and the region. This diplomatic effort should include every country that has an interest in avoiding a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq's neighbors. Iraq's neighbors and key states in and outside the region should form a support group to reinforce security and national reconciliation within Iraq, neither of which Iraq can achieve on its own.

  14. Mr44 VIP

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    May 21, 2002
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    "War has its own grammar, but not its own logic." In other words, any war that a government fights will be as smart or as dumb as the politics that back it up.

    But I think this is an oversimplification. The main premise of Clausewitzian friction is that one either has to apply it to the largest possible scale, or to the smallest possible scale depending on what one wants to achieve. Poltical concerns sit on the broad end of the scale, while tactical concerns sit on the narrow end. Somewhere along the line, the catagories meet.

    With the above in mind, the most famous quote attributed to Clauswitz says "War is merely a continuation of politics." However, I don't think that's an accurate translation. Maybe you can help with the meaning, but he was describing the German concept of "Zweikampf," which doesn't actually mean war, but something more purposeful. More importantly, Clausewitz also used the concept of "politick," which also has a slightly different meaning.

    So, rather than the above quote, I think Clausewitz really said "conflict is the continuation of competing goals." This is an important distinction because it places the focus on the goal, not on the conflict.

    Ok, so I've rambled on enough, and I'm not even sure if I'm summing up what I want to say. But how does this relate to Iraq?

    Clausewitz would say that if the goal in Iraq was to enforce sanctions, ensure compliance, and force disclosure of weapons, etc.. then waiting on 12 years of the status quo was doing nothing to solve those goals. The ultimate goal, what is known as the result, isn't dependent on the action, it's the other way around.

  15. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    I think your mistake all along is looking at enforce sanctions, ensure compliance, and force disclosure of weapons, etc.. as ends in themselves rather than as means to the end of geopolitical stability in a vital oil producing region.

    The original German of that famous passage is: der Krieg ist nichts als eine Fortsetzung des politischen Verkehrs mit Einmischung anderer Mittel. I'm not sure I'll get it exactly right, but "War is nothing other than a continuation of diplomacy with the interference (inclusion) of additional means."

    In English it's usually rendered as "war is diplomacy through other means," which doesn't quite get the essence of what he's trying to say.

  16. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
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    I think your mistake all along is looking at enforce sanctions, ensure compliance, and force disclosure of weapons, etc.. as ends in themselves rather than as means to the end of geopolitical stability in a vital oil producing region.

    Hardly, and I'm actually surprised that you would attribute this to me, as I've always said the opposite. The sanctions, resolutions, etc.. (what I'll call the "laundry list") were only meant as temporary measures along the road to stability.

    In fact, this is what I've been saying all along. People would make the claim that "under the laundry list, Iraq was contained" as if that in itself represented some sort of final pre-invasion goal. However, what is clear is that Iraq would never reach stability under such an environment. I'd say that reliance on the sanctions had the exact opposite effect, which resulted in a mismatch of conflicting policies and attitudes. The sanctions became permament when they were never intended to be, and at the core became a 12 year detour away from stability.

    So, what does that mean? The laundry wasn't working, so what represented an alternative? We both agree that the end result was a geopolitically stable Iraq, but realistically, there are only a few ways to achieve this, and under multiple administrations, the "I" word was at the forefront.
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Absolutely, I have to say my impression was that you have been treating "compliance with UN resolutions" as a top level policy objective. I do apologize if that impression was mistaken.

    Prior to 9/11, the U.S.'s primary and overwhelming strategic interest in the region was the flow of oil and the stability of world oil markets. Saddam's invasion of Kuwait had the potential to upset the balance of power and influence among the region's major oil producers. The first Gulf War was intended to restore the OPEC status quo and eliminate Saddam Hussein as a threat to the stability of oil markets.

    The subsequent containment and sanction regime was partly successful and partly unsuccessful in this effort. It did not restore the status quo in that it undermined Saddam's ability to export oil, taking his oil exports partly offline through sanctions and indirectly by making it impossible for Saddam to invest in the upkeep of his oil infrastructure.

    Post 9/11, at least nominally a second American strategic interest emerged in the region and that was the prevention of export of anti-American Islamist extremism from the region and the constraint of its effects within the region. Saddam Hussein, it has to be said, was never the right target for that strategic interest. However, getting Saddam's oil production back online at full capacity was absolutely a vital strategic interest of the United States, as were the potential ancillary benefits of greater American corporate participation in the redevelopment of Saddam's oil infrastructure.

    In that sense, in a perfect storm of Clausewitzian friction, the United States failed utterly in both areas of vital strategic interest. Our occupation has further undermined the stability of oil markets and Iraq's ability to export oil and invest in its own oil infrastructure, and our military occupation has guaranteed that Iraq would become a hotbed of anti-American Islamist extremism.
  18. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    However, getting Saddam's oil production back online at full capacity was absolutely a vital strategic interest of the United States, as were the potential ancillary benefits of greater American corporate participation in the redevelopment of Saddam's oil infrastructure.

    Hm. Is that necessarily true, though? That getting Saddam's oil up and running again was that important? I mean, the price of oil in the US was acceptable prior to 2003, so sometimes I wonder about that part of it. It can be a little unclear, even in realpolitik terms.
  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    If you were looking at sources of spare global production capacity in 2002, 2003 and looking at projected oil demand through 2010 and beyond, one of the things you would conclude is that the world oil markets would need Iraq's spare capacity back online before the end of the decade.
  20. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Well, what a surprise:

    Saudis reportedly funding Iraqi Sunnis

    CAIRO, Egypt - Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.

    Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

    But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.




  21. Mr44 VIP

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    May 21, 2002
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    I'm not sure that it's a surprise. Private citizens have always been a source of funding, and how the Saudi government has reacted has always been dependent on what the focus is.

    Saudi Arabia on one end. Iran on the other. Both posturing for regional dominance.
  22. DarthArsenal6 Force Ghost

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    Oct 16, 2001
    star 5

    I know that the Saudi are willing to protect itself from Iranian dominance
    but Saudi being a dominance i'm not so sure.
  23. Mr44 VIP

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    May 21, 2002
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    Huh? Saudi Arabia is the practical and spiritual powerhouse of the Arab Middle Eastern region. Iran is Persian, but has long had the goal to replace itself in that role, but from a Shia perspective.
  24. DarthArsenal6 Force Ghost

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    Oct 16, 2001
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    Saudi Arabia is spiritual for all Muslims not for just for the Arabs, i'm not too sure of Saudi being a powerhouse, if they did they would have moved in for control long time ago.
    Iran is true.
  25. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
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    I'm not sure what you mean by moving in for control.

    By powerhouse, I'm not suggesting that Saudi Arabia is going to start invading countries. But the Saudi royal family uses its oil, closeness with the US, and technical superiority to get what it wants. Saudi policy is Middle East policy.
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