The New Iraq, Five Years and Counting: Current Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Mr44, Jan 1, 2007.

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  1. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    But that's not completely accurate either. There are numerous positive aspects that can be looked at as well.

    How about the UAE? While the Emirates isn't a democracy, it's a federation, and the governmental system is still quite effective at representing the will of the people.

    Qatar is an emirate/monarchy that also has a Prime Minister and council that are elected by popular vote.

    Kuwait is similar to Qatar, but with an elected council that is divided into national governor-districts.

    Even Egypt, after flirting with various political systems in the 50's/60's/70's has settled on more of a democratic system. Egypt's first national Presidential election took place in 2005, which was 2 years after the US invaded Iraq. Lebanon has steadily moved in the same direction... Yemen had its popular election for President 2 years ago.

    There is a larger picture that emerges. There are plenty of examples of democratically based systems in the Middle East that one could look at. Even after the situation in Iraq, the trend in the Middle East is to move toward democracy, not away from it.

  2. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The seeds of democracy are far less interesting at this point than any potential seeds of a positive working relationshp with the U.S.

    The larger point is that the Bush administration seems to have more or less given up on the national Iraqi government, even if they will not admit this as a policy direction. Bush I believe has looked Miliki in the eye and found him, finally, irrelevant. The recent U.S. strategy seems built much more around bottom up local arrangements that ratify whatever the actual situation is on the ground in whatever region. Given a large enough presence, the U.S. military is perfectly capable of working with local Iraqi fiefdoms to the mutual benefit of everyone, and this is why the surge has had some modest success. Contrast that to Miliki's ill-advised action in Basra in which a thousand Iraqi soldiers/police abandoned their posts.
  3. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Sure.

    But I think the point is, even taking that at face value, Iraq, has overall, probably retarded the pace of democratization, relative to what otherwise could've been achieved. Certainly, I think you'll agree it's seen more as a cautionary tale than a success story at the moment.
  4. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Do you mean Iraq in relation to Iraq? There was no democratic movement (at least beyond the conceptual stage) in the country at all prior to 2003. Sure, Iraq is a cautionary tale. Any war, conflict, peacekeeping operation should be looked at as a cautionary tale, and Iraq isn't unique in this regard.

    I'd say that those in the West also tend to artificially inflate what Iraq represents as well. Most of the democratic movements in the Middle East have accelerated after Iraq, so there certainly isn't a retarding of forward motion in the region overall. This is not to say that such movements have done so because of Iraq. Correlation does not equal causation.

  5. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    I know, right? After 13 years and 17 resolutions we decide to roll the tanks just as democracy was budding. :confused:

    On another note, while this is from a right-wing blog, the numbers are interersting. Here

    If the numbers are accurate, Bush's military has had less casualties than any in the last 25 years.

    EDIT: I miss you guys! Stupid work! [face_frustrated]
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Iraq, has overall, probably retarded the pace of democratization, relative to what otherwise could've been achieved. Certainly, I think you'll agree it's seen more as a cautionary tale than a success story at the moment.

    I don't think anything could have been achieved vis a vis democratization. But yes, it's a cautionary tale. I don't know any more what it's a cautionary tale of. These days I tend to think that the proximate cause of the Iraq invasion was not so much George Bush but rather the catastrophe and failure of the sanction regime.
  7. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    J-Rod, I suggest you look at this.

  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Re that report, the ratio of dead to wounded in operation Iraqi freedom relative to other American conflicts is simply astounding. If anything, one of the great successes of this war has been the amazing advances in battlefield medicine, if that's the right term, and in particular the logistics of battlefield medicine, if that's the right term.
  9. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, those're the right terms I *think*..have to ask my platoon medic.

    This war has done alot for limb replacement; they ran a piece in our unit newspaper the other day about growing new body parts from your stem cells. Trials start in 2 years, they say.
  10. Ben_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2001
    star 5
    growing body parts? I guess it's not that surprising given that we'll be able to cure blindness in 10-15 years.

    Darthboba, are you in active army or reserves/ng?
  11. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Since Mubarak isn't making a lot of meaningful movement towards democracy, we have to say that the biggest impetus for democratic change in the region is actually Lebanon. While arguably encouraged by the initial US move in Iraq, the driving force behind this movement was Syria's heavy-handed assassination of Hariri. There were plenty of Arab states that weren't happy about that arrangement for a long time anyway, so it really could've happened somewhat independently of Iraq. Whereas, by contrast, the situation in Iraq is often cited now by regional autocratic rulers as evidence that attempts to embrace democracy can lead to chaos, sectarian civil war, and general instability. If we're trying to make the sell "This is how much your country will improve after moving towards democracy" then we're doing a pretty terrible job of it, all things considered.

    Secondly, I agree with the earlier comments that what your seeing in those statistics is primarily a function of advances in medicine. A lot of injuries that would've been fatal in, say, Vietnam, are now very much survivable. Also, we can expand to a more general point and say that in terms of battlefield tactics and performance, our troops do quite well in engagements.

    But to talk about that really misses the point of the debate that is going on over Iraq. The question is not whether our soldiers are competent in battlefield encounters, but whether our continued presence is increasing the chances of long-term stability in the country. I would tend to agree with a recent article in Foreign Affairs that we are not. The shift to embracing things like the Awakening groups represents a sort of bottom-up to reconciliation and functional government in Iraq. However, among other reasons, I think that approach is doomed to failure because it encourages tribalism, and disincentivizes reconciliation. For instance, the sheikh's that control individual groups of the Sons of Iraq get, on average, 20% of the payment the US sets aside for those Sunni groups. They wouldn't get this if these informal units were fully integrated into the Iraqi security forces. So, since the annual budget is $150 million, that means not only are these people being recognized as power-holders and important movers and shakers, they're also receiving annual payments of some $30 million dollars from the US. Given, this is collective, but even if you can manage to get a hundred or so men beneath you, that's a very healthy salary of thousands of dollars. Why would anyone give this up? Empowering local tribal leaders this way makes them a competing authority with the central government.

    I could go on, but I'll just say briefly that these are the kinds of questions and challenges that make most people question the wisdom of staying in Iraq long-term. It's not at all the case that we're somehow convinced that a group of largely unemployed fighters with inferior training, equipment, and support services would pose a serious threat to the US military in a conventional confrontation.
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I agree with much of that. My question is does it matter to U.S. interests whether Iraq is tribally fractured, with no hope in the medium term for a stable national government? It's pretty clear from all that's happened that U.S. interest IS the occupation. Bottom up arrangements with local overlords and regional militias suits that interest, if not as optimally as a stable national government might.

    What are the things that are important to the U.S.?

    1. Military hegemony over the world's biggest oil producing region.

    Having big bases in Iraq suits the purpose of reminding everyone that the global petroeconomy is anchored by the U.S.

    2. Containment of Iran's regional ambitions, whatever they are.

    Iran can influence what happens in Iraq, but cannot dominate the outcome as long as U.S. troops are there.

    3. Provide enough stability in Kurdish Iraq for oil infrastructure investment. Provide enough regional stability in the southern oil fields to allow for oil infrastructure investment. Provide enough regional stability to allow for infrastructure investment and protection of oil export terminals.

    This has not been a complete failure. Kurdish Iraq is chomping at the bit to rebuild its oil industry. Oil is flowing out of Iraq, even if a lot of it is being diverted to fund the efforts of just about anyone with access to pipelines and distribution points.
  13. LordVader66 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 30, 2005
    star 4
    Iran is the key to Iraq (and Afghanistan). If we cut a deal with the Iranians, by lifting the embargo and sanctions, and in turn they cut ties to terrorism, and cease in their destabilizing policies of Iraq and Afghanistan, then I believe the situation in Iraq will greatly improve. Five years ago, after the fall of Baghdad, Iran offered that and more to the US:
    cut all ties to terrorism
    turn Hezbollah into a political party only
    help stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan
    allow complete transparency for their use of nuclear technology
    create diplomatic ties with Israel
    support a two state solution

    the US had to do the following:
    lift the embargo and sanctions
    restore official diplomatic ties
    cease interfering in Iranian internal affairs

    Mr. Bush, at the time, had a plan to overthrow 7 governments in 5 years (including Iran's), said something to the jist of go to hell. Is this offer still workable? Hard to say. But Iran is a natural ally of the US, because it's one of the most modern Islamic nations in the world. I mean they allow stem cell reseach and the US doesn't because of a religious stance! How much easier would the job had been if we had a cut a deal? A whole lot. Now, because Ahmadinejad is so hated, it's probably politically unworkable to work a grand bargain with the Iranians. Mr. Bush, since he has wrapped himself in the spread of freedom and liberty, as an excuse for his extreme policies of regional transformation, also would now seem politically unworkable from that end, too.

    My hope is that Mr. Obama will cut a deal with the Iranians. He has the most pragmatic foreign policy of any of the candidates and he stands the best chance of salvaging any hope of success in the Middle East for the US.
  14. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9

    active army; 2-22nd INF regiment, 10th Mountain Division. This is my 3rd deployment.
  15. Ben_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2001
    star 5
    damn.. that sucks man. Well at least one positive thing is that you're not stuck at Fort Drum anymore. How long have you been in the Army? I'll be at Camp Stanley, Korea this November with the 2nd Combat Aviation brigade, 2ID. I'd like to transfer to the 101st after the year tour but we'll see.
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    dude, skip the 1-0-worst and just come to drum. Horrible post, but it's the best damn unit in the entire regular army.

    I'm in my 5th year now :p
  17. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Is it really possible to work with Iran? It seems that the reformists lose ground with each election while the hard-liners gain more and more power. Not only that, they banned how many candidates from even running for office? A lot of Iranians didn't even bother to go out and vote because of this, if anything the country sounds like it's backsliding on democracy.

    Iran may be one of the most modern countries in the Middle East, but so was Nazi Germany. The German scientific community had to have been brilliant to come out with the world's first jet aircraft and guided missile, but look at what cause their creations went on to serve?

    It's a tough call....having another president like Bush is unacceptable. But if this is the same Iran that's issued genocidal threats to Israel, that's added fuel to the fire in Iraq, whose Revolutionary Guard insists on escalating conflict in international waters, and who defies the spirit of nuclear non-proliferation, then I have to wonder what their idea of peace really is.
  18. Blackfryar Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2007
    star 1
    a journalist, independent from US propaganda, has reported that what happen today in Iraq is beyond belief. she's living in this country, which give her a edge over the thousands of US reporters that are nothing but notetakers for US army propaganda. she said that violence have reached a peak recently, and things are much worse than 1 year ago, the country is really in complete chaos, the iraqi army is non-existant or corrupted, and US troopers do not control half of the country, in fact she clearly stated that they control nothing but Bagdaad airport. soldiers are desperate to go back home, and the life in the city is literraly "frozen" because people are afraid of even leaving their house. there is nothing like an economic life in the capital city, and the processus of democratization is stopped.

    and now some stupids are talking about bombing Iran, hoping to turn the tides and magically change the country into an western democracy like they wanted to do with Iraq. Ahmadinejad has won easily the legislative elections, which mean his party is stronger than ever, and there is nothing like a "magical" pro-american oppposition that would rise and take the power in this country if the "brilliant" Bush decided to start a new war. the only result would be a $200 light sweet crude, and things would only turn for the worst for the economies who only rely on oil.
  19. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    lol, ready to win the stupid post of the day award?

    I'm stationed in Iraq. I've been here eight months, and this is my 2nd deployment here.

    I can tell you from personal experience that the situation has gotten incredibly better, and that whatever reporter you're talking about (if he/she even exists; how about you post some links) is full of crap.

  20. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    If I remember, Fryar lives in Amsterdam, but I'd like to say he moved there from Russia. Some ideas of his get lost in the translation and come off stronger than they should, and others come from a more contradictory perspective.

    Best just to look at them as a window into a more anti-US perspective, and not as a basis for a factual debate.
  21. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
  22. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Well see that's the thing....the Bush Administration feeds these perceptions with their arrogant remarks. With the way they talk, how the hell are we supposed to believe they have unbiased and objective views of the situation? Until politicians purge themselves of delusional rhetoric they'll never establish any sort of credibility with people, Americans or otherwise. Loss of credibility is what lost us Vietnam, and what may lose us the War on Terror as well.
  23. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Has anyone heard about this story yet?

    It reminds me somewhat of the Blackwater incident at Nissor Square. Apparently, a US helicopter launched an assault on a car full of shepherds, killing two children and a total of eight civilians. Locals are outraged, and the US is again reporting "suspicious activity" and failure to stop. However, I haven't seen any response from higher ups in the Iraqi government yet, so perhaps this is more legitimate. We'll see what unfolds.
  24. Leto II Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2000
    star 6
    Surprised no one's discussing McClellan. The CNN.com headline for this story cracks me up. "White House 'puzzled' by ex-spokesman's book bashing Bush." What isn't this White House puzzled by?

    (Small, shiny objects. Bells. Tiny, brightly-colored plastic balls. Their own reflections. They're kind of like pet parakeets. Except that parakeets are actually quite smart.)

    He was never a very good liar, and it was clear that, unlike the psychotic ex-FOX anchor, and the robotic Dana Perino, McClellan never seemed comfortable repeating Rove's talking points. Ari Fleischer was on various CNN shows yesterday, and he was saying that some of the comments in the book don't sound like Scott. He then went on to add that he spoke to Scott yesterday, and was told that Scott's book editor added things, as well.

    That is exactly how this is all going to be spun by the Bushies, because there is already talk of making Scott appear before the House Judiciary Committee. All he has to do is say his editor added things, or emphasized points that he did not mean.

    If he had a conscience, he would've piped up sooner. You know, before more servicemen and women were killed.
  25. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Convoy attacks in Iraq have plummeted. And remember, Tom Ricks is the guy who wrote Fiasco.

    Meanwhile, Basra is finally under government control. Sadr City is undergoing reconstruction as well. Both have been strongholds of Shiite extremists for years. Al Qaeda in Iraq is basically ruined. And, US forces have had another record-breaking month in terms of casualties. 21 KIA is the lowest since February 2004.

    So all in all, I'm quite optimistic about our chances of success.
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