39 Months In Iraq - What Now?  

TTigerAtty 63M
3769 posts
6/1/2006 2:56 pm

Last Read:
6/12/2006 9:27 am

39 Months In Iraq - What Now?

I found an article reprinted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this past Wednesday, 5/31/2006. The staff writer is Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe.

This article, along with watching the National Memorial Service in Washington, D.C., has caused me to stop dead in my tracks and really consider my own personal views regarding the war in Iraq. This article has had a big impact upon me and has caused me to do some soul searching as to what America should be doing in Iraq as we go forward.

I have posted some political topics recently that have gotten very heated. This topic could become very, very emotional because it talks about the high number of insurgent attacks in Iraq and the number of military casualties since the war began.

I will simply ask that we try to have a thoughtful, reasoned discussion about the current situation in Iraq and where each of you believe we need to be going from this point forward. I cannot control the stream of commentary that will ensue, and so this could turn into a stream of comments that blame and defend. Let us, instead, understand that we are where we are and let us talk about what we should be doing henceforth.

All viewpoints are welcome. Please be judicious in your use of language.

Here is the article:

Washington - The Pentagon reported Tuesday that the frequency of insurgent attacks against soldiers and civilians in Iraq is at its highest level since commanders began tracking such figures two years ago.

The numbers are an ominous sign that despite three years of combat, the U.S.-led coalition has failed to cripple the Iraqi insurgency.

In its quarterly update to Congress, the Pentagon report that throughout Iraq from February 11 to May 12, insurgents staged an average of more than 600 attacks a week.

From August, 2005 to early February when Iraqis elected a Parliament, insurgent attacks averaged about 550 a week. Before the United States handed over sovereignty in the spring of 2004, the attacks averaged about 400 per week.

The vast majority were targeted at U.S.-led coalition military forces. But most of those killed have been civilians, who are more vulnerable.

As if to underscore the grim report, a spate of violence swept Iraq on Tuesday.

Bombs and other attacks killed 54 people, including an American soldier.

The deadliest bombing was in a popular market in a town about 20 miles north of Baghdad. That attack killed at least 25 people and wounded 65.

On Monday, attacks killed 40 other people, including two CBS journalists.

The Pentagon report contained some positive news, including an opinion poll indicating that most Iraqis oppose the insurgent's use of violence as a political tool.

In addition, according to the report:

A growing number of Iraqi security forces can operate without U.S. military support.

More ethnic groups are represented in the security forces.

Oil production has remained steady.

More than 10,000 new business registrations have been issued.

But the overall picture is grim, dominated by the seemingly ceaseless violence.

Despite military crackdowns on insurgents and installation of the new Iraq government, the Pentagon was less than optimistic about quelling the violence in the near future.

Officials who briefed reporters on the assessment cautioned that violence against soldiers and Iraqi civilians probably will persist until at least next year - and will ebb after that only if the unity government exerts more of its own authroity and, according to the report, "addresses key sectarian and political concerns" that fuel the bloodshed.

The 65-page report identifies a distrubing trend: new signs that former members of Saddam Hussein's regime who are fighting the American-led coalition and other Iraqis who dislike the new government are collaborating with al-Qaida operatives and other foreign terrorists.

The report also blames militias loyal to Iraq's various ethnic groups for a steady number of ethnic reprisals touched off by the bombing on February 22nd of a revered Shiite Muslim shrine.

The militiamen apparently have also infiltrated the Iraqi security forces.

On the positive side, Pentagon officials say that newly trained Iraqi security forces have become more capable, with a growing number of units leading anti-insurgent missions or playing key roles.

The report also outlines growth trends in the Iraqi economy and steady political progress, culminating with the establishment of a unity government in Baghdad earlier this month.

As of Tuesday, 5/31/2006, 2,458 U.S. military personnel had been killed in the ongoing mission in Iraq. In addition to U.S. troops, 220 soldiers from Britain and other countries have died since the conflict began. The total number of coalition forces killed through 5/31/2006 is 2,677. The lowest number of U.S. forces killed in one month was 16 in February, 2004. The highest number of U.S. forces killed in one month was 137 back in November, 2004.

During the past three months the number of U.S. military deaths has been as follows:

03/2006 - 31
04/2006 - 76
05/2006 - 60

We have been in Iraq 39 months. The U.S. military has lost an average of 63 troops per month.


Disclaimer: This particular article did not break down the number of non-U.S. military casualties, and it did not offer any statistics regarding the estimated number of total Iraqis (Iraqi security forces, Iraqi insurgents and Iraqi innocent civilians) killed thus far. If I can find those numbers I will report them to you in a separate post or in my comments to this post. Suffice it to say for right now that Iraqi losses have been significantly higher than coalition military losses. I also do not have the number of injured and wounded, but I did hear on PBS during the National Memorial Service that we have injured and wounded a total of 18,000 U.S. troups in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. I do not have a number for the wounded and injured from our coalition partners. So, the numbers of killed, wounded and injured are becoming quite high!

The flag in the pic that is associated with this post is the new Iraqi flag.

The design is intended to represent Islam, peace and Iraqi Kurds.

Iraq's Governing Council (IGC) adopted a new national flag to replace the one flown by Saddam Hussein, with emblems to represent peace, Islam and Iraq's Kurdish population. This flag was unfurled in late April.

The new flag consists of a pale blue crescent on a white background and has a yellow strip between two lines of blue at the bottom. It was be raised over government buildings beginning in May.

"The white stands for peace and a new start for Iraq, whilst the crescent represents Islam," al-Kafaai said, adding the blue strips represented Iraq's main rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, and the yellow represented its Kurdish population.

The old flag - red, white and black with three green stars, representing pan-Arab nationalism - had flown for more than 40 years, preceding Saddam, who was ousted by US-led occupation forces just over a year ago.

In January 1991 Saddam Hussein added the Arabic words "God is great" to the flag.

Dissent

But not everyone is happy with the decision, with one council member saying that Iraq's leaders should wait for an elected government before changing the flag, the BBC reports.

"In my opinion, it should not be passed until we have a parliament," Mahmud Uthman is quoted as saying.

"I think there are issues more important to concentrate on now than the changing of the flag."

Iraq's al-Sabah newspaper, which published the design in its print edition, said that the designer's name was Rifat al-Jadirji and that his design had been chosen out of more than 30 proposals.

Copyright © June, 2006 by TTigerAtty


TTigerAtty
TIGERS, LLC
non illigitimae carborundum
~^~^~
~0_0~
>""""<
`^^^^`


TTigerAtty 63M

6/1/2006 3:18 pm

I am deferring my own comments regarding future U.S. actions and involvement in Iraq until I have received your comments. My learning from previous emotional and highly volatile postings is that the comments I receive tend to revolved around my own opinions when I offer them upfront and less around the real issues that we face. I would rather get some good objective, diverse discussion going about all the options that people might consider appropriate before we get into a debate over those viewpoints. I don't know whether this will work any better, but let's give it a shot and see!

Again, all viewpoints are welcome! We face a tough situation in Iraq. It has not been as easy as some have thought it would be.

Do we continue going forward in support of the Iraqis? For how long? At what troop strength? (~150,000 coalition troops in support of the Iraqi Security Forces now.)

Do we solicit help from other nations of the world to help support the new Iraq unity government?

Do we, as some have proposed, begin to pull out?

What are your thoughts? Other options?


rm_phoenix_law 62M

6/1/2006 8:20 pm

The war in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan, is a war that we cannot win. Although U.S. leaders try to convince the world of their success in fighting al Queda, the reality is that the United States is, in fact, losing the war on terror. Until our leaders recognize the errant path they have chosen, our enemies will continue to grow stronger.

The greatest danger for Americans confronting the radical Islamist threat is to believe, at the urging of U.S. leaders, that Muslims attack us for what we are and what we think, rather than for what we do. Rhetorical political blustering "informs" the public that Islamists are offended by the Western world's democratic freedoms, civil liberties, intermingling of genders, and separation of church and state. However, although aspects of the modern world may offend conservative Muslims, no Islamist leader has preached jihad to destroy democracy or its trappings.

Instead, a growing segment of the Islamic world strenuously disapproves of specific U.S. policies and their attendant military, political, and economic implications. Capitalizing on growing anti-U.S. animosity, Osama bin Laden calls not simply for jihad, bit articulates a consistent and convincing case that Islam is under attack by America and its allies. Al Queda's public statements condemn America's protection of corrupt Muslim regimes, our unqualified support for Israel, the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and many other real-world grievances. Bin Laden's supporters believe, at his urging, that the solution to these problems lies in war, and they will go to any length to deter what they view as specific attacks on their lands and their religion. Unless U.S. leaders recognize this fact and adjust their policies accordingly, even moderate Muslims will be pressured into supporting bin Laden's anti-Western offensive.

U.S. leaders refuse to accept the obvious: we are fighting a world-wide Islamic insurgency - not terrorism - and our policy and procedures have failed to make more than a modest dent, if any, in enemy forces.

The military is now America's only tool and will remain so while current policies are in place. No public diplomacy, presidential praise for Islam, or politically correct debate masking the reality that many of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims hate us for actions, not values, will get America out of this war. Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedoms, liberty, and democracy, but have everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim world. The war bin Laden is waging has everything to do with the tenets of the Islamic religion. He could not have his current and increasing level of success if Muslims did not believe their faith, brethren, resources, and lands to be under attack by the United States and the West. Our policies and actions are bin Laden's best allies.

Persian Gulf oil and the lack of serious U.S. alternative-energy development are at the core of the bin Laden issue. For cheap, easily accessible oil, the U.S. and the West have supported the tyrannies bin Laden seeks to destroy. There can be no other reason for supporting Saudi Arabia.

This war has the potential to last beyond our children's lifetimes, and to be fought mostly on U.S. soil. We must ask ourselves some tough questions.

This war shows the direct tie between the West's dependence on Persian Gulf oil and the loss of U.S. lives: the more dependence, the more lives. In a region where we have no national interest save oil, the question is: How many lives are we willing to pay per thousand barrels of oil? Does U.S. security require, and have we the moral right, to aggressively try to install secular, democratic systems in countries that give no indication of wanting them? Is our nation more likely to perish if the rest of the world is not just like us, or if our democracy-making crusade destabilizes much of the world?


TTigerAtty 63M

6/2/2006 6:54 am

phoenix_law - A very well-reasoned argument about where we have been and why we are in Iraq now. I would have expected nothing less from you, learned counselor I will wait until I read other comments to formulate my own comment on this subject. I'll tell you one thing though right now. I thought that, after 39 months, we would have made more progress than it seems we have made. The big question and dilemna now is: Since we are in Iraq and have "broken the country" as Colin Powell put it, what do we do from this point forth? Thanks for taking your time to add a very good comment! Hope your cases are going well for you!


TTigerAtty 63M

6/2/2006 8:10 am

DanielGR - Thanks for your comment and thanks for the book recommendation! I will get myself a copy. But, Dan'l, still the practical question for right now is what do we do and where do we go now that we have gotten through elections and have a government forming in Iraq? The terrorists and insurgents who resist a secular democratic form of government are not going away. What should the U.S. do? What should the U.N. do? What should other countries of the world do?


jakblack36 49M

6/2/2006 3:00 pm

Phoenix_law is absolutely dead on. To answer the question if we should withdraw of stay at this time is ridiculous. This is statement only underscores the fact that you do not have a clear understanding of where we are at, with regards to Iraq. Only failed leaders bring their countries in to preemptive wars. John Kerry said basically, "how do you ask a person to die for a mistake". This war had nothing to do with 9/11. We are LESS secure today because as Phoenix_law stated, 1.3 billion Muslims hate us for actions, not values, will get America out of this war. Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us.TTigerAtty, this is the number one reason I hate George W. and his administration.

Iraq was a beautiful nation. It was run by one of the most brutal dictators of our time. I can only ask " Is Iraq better off now?" I will tell you, although I have not been over there, I know others who have and can only say they would answer emphatically, no it is not.

The mission was to over throw Saddam. We did that. Mission accomplished. Iraq, needs to stand on it's own. What we should be doing is rebuilding what we destroyed. However, unlike Germany and Japan, we can't. The 1.3 billion Muslims don't want us there.Period. It's the reason we were attacked. Nobody on either side of the ailse wants to leave this country such a mess. There is no military answer to Iraq. So why stay? We must broker a political solution. However, that will not happen because of the current lack of leadership in our own country. Thousands have already given thier lives for this mistake.


TTigerAtty 63M

6/2/2006 3:58 pm

jakblack36 - I will withhold my thoughts and commentary until more have offered their thoughts and recommendations. Thanks for participating! I keep asking: What do we do now? Do you want to take a crack at that? The Bush-bashing isn't getting us anywhere in this discussion. (By the way, try not to HATE so much. It's not healthy. It will eat you up.) Tell me specifically, how you would propose extricating ourselves. Broker a political solutions with whom? The insurgents and terrorists? Who should lead? The U.S., the U.N. or the new Iraqi unity government? When do we leave? Under what conditions? I don't think it is right to cut and run, do you? Let's get specific if we can.


jakblack36 49M

6/2/2006 7:52 pm

What do we do now? We leave. How do we leave? My understanding is that as they stand up, we will stand down. So let's roll with it. We need to broker solutions with the entire region. This tough talk by the current administration has killed our integrity. We must take the lead as far as making ourselves available to talks. But there must be a mediator. My personal take on the U.N is they are not real big fans of this administration, and why should they be? It's not right to cut and run.

Here is the big mistake. Both of us feel that a democratic form of government is the best from of government. But let's not be so quick to say that it is the right form of government in that part of the world. Look at what has happened with Palestine. Why should we be the world police? I agree having Saddam gone is a good thing, but do you think history will show it was the right thing to do? We will have to wait and see on that one, and honestly I may go to my grave not knowing the answer.

Hate can eat people up. But apathy is truly a killer. I would rather hate than be apathetic.


TTigerAtty 63M

6/3/2006 6:39 am

    Quoting jakblack36:
    What do we do now? We leave. How do we leave? My understanding is that as they stand up, we will stand down. So let's roll with it. We need to broker solutions with the entire region. This tough talk by the current administration has killed our integrity. We must take the lead as far as making ourselves available to talks. But there must be a mediator. My personal take on the U.N is they are not real big fans of this administration, and why should they be? It's not right to cut and run.

    Here is the big mistake. Both of us feel that a democratic form of government is the best from of government. But let's not be so quick to say that it is the right form of government in that part of the world. Look at what has happened with Palestine. Why should we be the world police? I agree having Saddam gone is a good thing, but do you think history will show it was the right thing to do? We will have to wait and see on that one, and honestly I may go to my grave not knowing the answer.

    Hate can eat people up. But apathy is truly a killer. I would rather hate than be apathetic.
Thanks for coming back! Now we are talking instead of shouting at one another.

You make some good points. I have bought the fundamental idea that a freely-elected democratic form of government would serve the people of Iraq better than a dictatorship. Iragis have to really want it for themselves, however. In the cloud of media reports, I have trouble discerning whether they do or not. Some question whether they do and others confirm that they do. You and I agree on one thing ... We may never know if this finally works out for the long-term good of the Iraqi people and whether they can make their unity parliamentary form of government work for them. I hope and pray that it will succeed, but I am like you in that I just don't know.

I trust that Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush along with their aides discussed the disengagement strategy when Mr. Blair was in Washington, D.C. a couple weeks ago. As they both stated in their joint news conference, the insurgents and terrorists are determined to keep this new unity government from succeeding. On the otherhand, recall that 12 million Iraqis came out to vote in December, and I presume these people want it to succeed.

Hate will eat a person up and make him less effective. I agree with you that apathy will kill an individual slowly and also an entire society. Take another route, my friend, love your fellow man (even political leaders with whom you diagree) and actively, proactively and constructively work for change through education, persuasion, and direct involvement. Be passionate, and I know you are. More people will follow if we love than if we hate.

Thanks for coming back to address the question "What now?"


rm_Twister2bed 48M
617 posts
6/4/2006 1:33 am

First the UN is worthless and broken and has been for years.
I wouldn't count on ANY solutions coming out of the UN.
I am not going to get into that but the UN serves its own interests by that I mean each country has its own agenda and power plays that suit them best they care nothing for furthering world peace if it conflicts with each country's own economic and political goals.
How do we get out of the mess we are in with Iraq? I think we are on the only path to getting out right now. We can't leave before the Iraqis are able to stand on their own. If we leave now and abandon Iraq the insurgents win and I hate to think what that would mean for our own security. I wish we could count on the UN and our allies to help stabilize Iraq but sadly that isn't the case and won't be.
The only answer is to continue to Build Iraq's military up and draw down our own troop levels..


TTigerAtty 63M

6/4/2006 2:44 pm

    Quoting rm_Twister2bed:
    First the UN is worthless and broken and has been for years.
    I wouldn't count on ANY solutions coming out of the UN.
    I am not going to get into that but the UN serves its own interests by that I mean each country has its own agenda and power plays that suit them best they care nothing for furthering world peace if it conflicts with each country's own economic and political goals.
    How do we get out of the mess we are in with Iraq? I think we are on the only path to getting out right now. We can't leave before the Iraqis are able to stand on their own. If we leave now and abandon Iraq the insurgents win and I hate to think what that would mean for our own security. I wish we could count on the UN and our allies to help stabilize Iraq but sadly that isn't the case and won't be.
    The only answer is to continue to Build Iraq's military up and draw down our own troop levels..
Thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts! I wring my hands now that we have been there 39 months. Frankly, I misunderstood the region and the resolve of people to keep a democracy and a unity form of government from getting a foothold. Apparently, people from the vaious sects and factions do not trust each other enough to give this a chance. At least, the insurgents don't want it to work. I cannot imagine what will happen in this world if America now turns its back on Iraq. I don't want to be a part of that kind of America. So, I don't believe we can do that. On the other hand, we need help and support from more countries in this world ... financial, military, political, etc. Politically, other countries could now say they are helping the new unity government and people of Iraq, but still, they sit on their hands. Fear, indecision, political pressures, petty jealosy over who gets the credit if we make this work, all these things keep good people from doing the right thing and the instant in time that it is needed.

What can we do to broker talks between these insurgents and the unity government so that they can see that their interests will best be achieve by participating in building their own country vs. destroying it? Are they so resistant to on-going relationships with western countries, that they would rather die and destroy?


sfvppl818 51M/51F

6/8/2006 9:12 pm

While I agree having a Saddam-less Iraq and a seemingly growing democracy in the middle east is a good thing on the surface, I find myself pulling back to the decision why we made the invasion in the first part. We didn't go there to inject democracy. We didn't go there to free Iraqis from themselves.

We didn't go there for Bin Laden.

As Colin Powell once said, "You break it, you own it," I still hang on to the suspicion that our military has been incorrectly used in the first place. And when we leave the region, whenever that happens, I get the sense that we are looking at another Yugoslavia - which required a hardliner like Saddam or Marshall Tito to control.

The other sick feeling I get is this: what does Iran do once we set this democracy on its tracks from afar? I think I already know.


TTigerAtty 63M

6/9/2006 9:44 am

    Quoting sfvppl818:
    While I agree having a Saddam-less Iraq and a seemingly growing democracy in the middle east is a good thing on the surface, I find myself pulling back to the decision why we made the invasion in the first part. We didn't go there to inject democracy. We didn't go there to free Iraqis from themselves.

    We didn't go there for Bin Laden.

    As Colin Powell once said, "You break it, you own it," I still hang on to the suspicion that our military has been incorrectly used in the first place. And when we leave the region, whenever that happens, I get the sense that we are looking at another Yugoslavia - which required a hardliner like Saddam or Marshall Tito to control.

    The other sick feeling I get is this: what does Iran do once we set this democracy on its tracks from afar? I think I already know.
Doing nothing in this troubled region is not an option either. We have to be involved and get other countries involved to help bring peace and stability to the region for IF we don't, we would be fighting there later anyway. Oil flow is so important to the entire world. Obviously, we need to ween ourselves from petroleum oil. Renewable sources of energy like ethanol produced from corn is something I am very familiar with as a mid-westerner. But that alone will not be enough. Much work lies ahead, but I am optimistic that we will find technical solutions. "The sky is NOT falling!" New auto technologies will be deployed and accepted by consumers. I do feel we need to utilize nuclear energy to a greater extent as well, although people still worry about its safety. Your point about helping Iraq stabilize around a freely elected government of Shiites, Sunni and Kurds is key. Either they figure out their own form of parliamentarian, democratic government or we will be back to another long-term problem propping up a dictator instead of a unity government. Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware) is promoting a plan to section the country off along sectarian lines, at least short-term, and then leave. His plan is attractive to some. I'd need to hear a lot more, but I can imagine that that would just push the problem down the road a few years, and then we would still get involved with the sectarian violence that would develop. I don't know, but that would have to be discussed.

I think the right solution for Iraq will take a long time, but wouldn't it be better to help them do the right long-term thing then to put a band-aid on the problem and then leave?

Thanks for dropping by! I always appreciate your very well-informed views!


walkinatmidnight 57M

6/9/2006 9:06 pm

Thanks for creating this forum. I won't look back (unless in support of points being discussed) but address this issue from the point we're at now. No matter what we try to do now, no matter how noble our intentions or how well conceived the plan, it will fail because of the hostility and bitterness our policies have engendered; in other words, if it is an American initiative, it will be met with intense resistance. We can't abandon Iraq to let the void that we've created be filled by thugs and warlords. So what now?

What I think needs to happen next and what I believe is probably the only realistic solution would be for the US to build a REAL coalition of nations to help broker the peace, rebuild infrastructure and generally stabilize things. In other words, we must get other relatively neutral nations involved and support their efforts with money and personnel. In this way we distance ourselves in order to reduce hostilities while supporting the efforts of nations whose presence in Iraq would be more acceptable. As I write this I realize all the obstacles to this happening. This administration lacks the ability to recognize or admit error. It also lacks the vision and flexibility to change course.

It's time to get back to multi-lateralism. The UN is an imperfect organization but remember that the Bush administration went to great lengths to undermine the UN's credibility in order to clear the path to war. It may be a bumbling and contentious rabble, but that is the face of the International community and we need them now.

If we haven't burned all the bridges to the rest of the International community, it's time to reach out. It can't happen overnight and we can't pull out en masse; but simply signaling our intentions to pursue a more creative, thoughtful, constructive path would go a long way to easing tensions. That would be a start in the right direction, in my opinion.


TTigerAtty 63M

6/11/2006 1:25 pm

    Quoting walkinatmidnight:
    Thanks for creating this forum. I won't look back (unless in support of points being discussed) but address this issue from the point we're at now. No matter what we try to do now, no matter how noble our intentions or how well conceived the plan, it will fail because of the hostility and bitterness our policies have engendered; in other words, if it is an American initiative, it will be met with intense resistance. We can't abandon Iraq to let the void that we've created be filled by thugs and warlords. So what now?

    What I think needs to happen next and what I believe is probably the only realistic solution would be for the US to build a REAL coalition of nations to help broker the peace, rebuild infrastructure and generally stabilize things. In other words, we must get other relatively neutral nations involved and support their efforts with money and personnel. In this way we distance ourselves in order to reduce hostilities while supporting the efforts of nations whose presence in Iraq would be more acceptable. As I write this I realize all the obstacles to this happening. This administration lacks the ability to recognize or admit error. It also lacks the vision and flexibility to change course.

    It's time to get back to multi-lateralism. The UN is an imperfect organization but remember that the Bush administration went to great lengths to undermine the UN's credibility in order to clear the path to war. It may be a bumbling and contentious rabble, but that is the face of the International community and we need them now.

    If we haven't burned all the bridges to the rest of the International community, it's time to reach out. It can't happen overnight and we can't pull out en masse; but simply signaling our intentions to pursue a more creative, thoughtful, constructive path would go a long way to easing tensions. That would be a start in the right direction, in my opinion.
Thanks for dropping by to express your thoughts! My impression has been that Colin Powell, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice have reached out to the international community through the UN and directly with the leaders of various nations. Only a few countries have been willing to sign on for the tough task. Could they or should they have tried harder before going forward? That will be debated from now to eternity. We won't know how all this works out for many, many years. Should we have waited and continued to talk? And what would have happened while we talked? More unanswerable questions. Our leaders acted and I for one will continue to support our leaders until we elect new ones. We've been in Iraq for 39 months. Mistakes have been made as in all endeavors of this type. Some progress has been made, albeit very slowly.

I would welcome involvement by other countries. Where are they? They stand around and criticize, but that's not very helpful.

My recollection was that George Bush and Colin Powell pointed out many UN resolutions against Saddam Hussein's Iraq that were not being enforced. Is that the fault of Bush and Powell or is that the fault of an organization that is ineffective? People will disagree on the answer, but I know what I saw Bush and Powell do in speeches before the UN prior to us taking action. The UN preferred to do nothing and let the USA do it so that we would be the bad guys.


walkinatmidnight 57M

6/11/2006 7:59 pm

The reasons so few countries were found to sign on for the "tough task" were:

1.) Arms inspectors led by Hans Blix insisted that no imminent threat regarding weapons of mass destruction had yet been found and were pleading for more time to finalize their growing suspicion that such weapons did not exist (and we now know that Blix was correct).

2.) The majority of nations were not willing to back a pre-emptive war based on the available intelligence. The sentiment among our traditional allies was that the US had already decided to invade Iraq for it's own reasons and were conducting a campaign to stampede the international community with fright tactics about a nuclear threat (using 'intelligence' that had already been dismissed by the CIA as incorrect by the time Colin Powell used the information in his address to the UN).

3.) There was concern that the US had not developed a long range plan for securing the peace. This WAS a topic of discussion at the UN which was dismissed as "hand-wringing" by Richard Perelman when he also dismissed the UN as "the chatterbox on the East River"...and this very thing has been the part that has dogged us the most, the lack of vision and planning by people who had a predetermination to go to war. And we were warned, and they were right and we were wrong.

It's really hard to simply talk about this, beginning from now and moving forward, because it denies so much context. In 1998 the Project for the New American Century, a conservative think tank, produced a position paper outlining the overthrow of Saddam and the implementation of a democratic government in Iraq. The undersigned: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perelman and a host of other people who eventually would populate the Pentagon, Defense and White House staff. The paper was basically an outline of what would become Bush's policy toward Iraq, but was pitched first to the Clinton administration who passed on it. This is a matter of public record and this is what I mean about context--the Bush administration's position on Iraq was pre-ordained, (residing principally in the mind of Donald Rumsfeld, who would eventually successfully pitch it to his boss); it just needed the impetus of 9/11 to create the atmosphere of tension and fear in the American public to sell the idea. It was never about terrorism, it was about hegemony. On the face of it, it was not that sinister an idea--create a democratic nation and stabilize the middle east. But they knew the American public wouldn't be comfortable with a pre-emptive war for that agenda, so they needed to create a larger threat and on the heels of 9/11 it was much easier to do.

Getting rid of Saddam and trying to promote democracy were not bad ideas. But lying to the American public and predicating war on false pretenses were.

We followed a decidedly un-democratic road to establishing democracy in Iraq. These guys knew they wouldn't gain the consensus of American or world opinion so they short-circuited the process through lies to acheive their goals. Iraqis who were secular and progressive have rallied to the religious right and the very fanaticism we'd hoped to eradicate we have only strengthened.

The last thing I'd like to say is this: I respect you for loving your country and supporting your president. But there is more than one way to be patriotic. I love my country too and consider it good citizenship to speak out when I see our leaders following ill-conceived, destructive policies. Thanks again for posing the question and providing a forum. You seem like a nice, reasonable guy.

Peace.


TTigerAtty 63M

6/12/2006 9:27 am

Thanks for dropping by to comment again! My thoughts regarding your three enumerated points:

(1) "(and we now know that Blix was correct)". - Do we really? Is it not conceivable to you and other Bush-bashers that these weapons could have been moved out of the country just as we were invading in order to preserve them and/or to bolster Hussein's side of the propaganda battle? I am open to these possibilities, and I am also open to the possibility that if they have been moved and if we do know or suspicion where they have been moved, our intelligence organizations and national security team, either in collaboration with coalition partners or acting unilaterally, may not want to let the world know every little detail of intelligence that we may have gathered. I recognize I am speculating, but my mind is open to that possibility. Is your mind open to that possibility? Then again, it is possible that our intelligence was wrong. If it was wrong, remember that we did not rely solely on U.S. gathered intelligence. We also heard assessments from our coalition partners. In addition to the WMD reason, there were likely other reasons. I wish they had been talked about more loudly at the outset, but perhaps there were intelligence reasons not to announce all of them to the enemy. Perhaps, we knew early on about the tie between Abu Musab al-Zaqwari and al-Qaeda. That is pure speculation on my part. But I am open-minded that our intelligence organizations may have known far more than they announced during the invasion of Iraq. I may be totally wrong. I don't know. And I doubt you know for sure either.

(2) I am sure that countries who chose not to participate in the coalition to remove Saddam Hussein had their own reasons. I also believe they had and have reasons that were not completely announced to the world nor to the U.S. Each country is sovereign and must make their own decisions. I have no quarrel with their right and duty to their own people to make decisions that are in their best interests. U.S. leaders have the right and duty to likewise make decisions that are in the best interest of our country. I trust that they did their level best. Other Americans question the motives and decisions of our leadership. Remember again that our U.S. Congress was involved in the debate over this issue and did give our Executive Branch authorization prior to the invasion of Iraq. John Kerry "actually voted for the war before he voted against it." That is the nature of politicians. When they thought they need to vote for authorization for political reasons, they did. Now that the struggle has proven to be very tough (39 months and so many killed and wounded), many want to run away from their votes and their positions leading up to the invasion. The President and his National Security Team don't have that luxury, so they remain resolute about completing the mission .

(3) With the benefit of perfect hindsight, I agree that our plan to secure the peace has not produced quick results that some in our administration evidently envisioned. I admit to being very frustrated. Our National Security Team is meeting at Camp David on Monday and Tuesday of this week. I understand they are linking our military commanders into these meetings via video-conferencing. I hope that everyone in the meeting speaks their minds openly and that they are able to agree upon the most effective path forward. To me, success would mean: (a) Iraqi security forces (police and military) trained and able to preserve, protect and defend the unity government now established, (b) political solution to the issues between the three sectarian groups in Iraq found, (c) international financing plan for rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq damaged during the war and (d) draw down of coalition troops as Iraqis become more self-sufficient. Re. (d), I worry that their may continue to be a need for a smaller group of coalition forces in Iraq for years to come. I don't know how the decision will be made to completely remove all coalition troops.

I appreciate learning about the The Project for a New American Century and the thinking of certain individuals back in 1998. I agree that all rationales for our action should have been laid out to the American people and that too much emphasis was given to WMD and the oppression of Iraqis by Hussein. I accept and imagine that there were many other good reasons like stabilization of the region for political, economic, etc. reasons by creating a new democracy somewhere in a troubled region. Whatever these reasons were and are today need to be explained to Americans.

Again, thanks for your insight and comments! I hope we can move forward, make progress and eventually leave Iraq with the gift of freedom and democracy! In giving them the "gift", I hope, as you have correctly pointed out, that we can be more open with America and enhance our own democracy!


Become a member to create a blog