Monday, March 31, 2008

Run Away! Run Away!

Typical "sky is falling" chickenlittling hysteria from miserable lefties everytime another "setback", challenge, or incident occurs. Basrah will be just another comma in the history books.

According to Bill Roggio:

Sadr’s call for an end to fighting by his followers comes as his Mahdi Army has taken high casualties over the past six days. Since the fighting began on Tuesday, 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basrah.

From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. The US and Iraqi military never came close to inflicting casualties at such a high rate during the height of major combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2007.

US and Iraqi forces are maintaining the high pace of operations against the Mahdi Army and the Special Groups. While the daily reporting from Iraq is far from over, initial reports indicate at least 18 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed and another 30 captured.

US soldiers killed 14 Mahdi fighters in Baghdad during a series of separate engagements. Iraqi security forces killed four Mahdi Army fighters and captured another 30 in Babil province, where a major offensive led by the police has been underway.

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13 Comments:

Blogger Gayle said...

The name of the post you linked to at Flopping Aces is "Will They Admit Progress?" The comment section certainly answers that question, doesn't it? What a bunch of brain-dead nitwits who will only say there is progress if we come running home with our tail between our legs. How convaluted their thinking is. Is that what happens when people think with their... nevermind. I almost forgot I'm a lady! GRRRR!

Monday, March 31, 2008 5:49:00 PM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

It's great to see good news on the Mahdi Army front. They're one of the main sources of (Iran-sponsored) trouble in Iraq. With AQI on the run after having shot themselves in the foot with their brutality, it's Sadr's turn.

Keep the good news coming!

Monday, March 31, 2008 7:58:00 PM  
Blogger rockybutte said...

Gayle:

With all due respect, there is a legitimate basis for differing with your view of the Iraqi invasion and occupation. People who disagree with you are not brain-dead. They merely have a different opinion.

Collectively, our goal should be to arrive at a point where everyone's opinion is respected. There are many complexities to be considered and evaluated. Let's try to listen to each other and understand our differences.

Monday, March 31, 2008 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger rockybutte said...

Word:

Check this out:

"President Bush's Cabinet agreed in April 2001 that 'Iraq remains a destabilising influence to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East' and because this is an unacceptable risk to the US 'military intervention is necessary"
Sunday Herald newspaper (UK), "Official: US oil at heart of Iraq crisis", 6 October 2002

The primary reason for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is OIL.

Monday, March 31, 2008 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

The primary reason for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is OIL.


rockybutte,

There's nothing revelatory here. The importance of Iraqi oil was always a part of the decision on "why Iraq next".

The war was about oil though, only insofar as it was and is important to safeguard Iraqi oil from being used by a regime that was steeped in supporting, training, financing, and giving safe-haven to terrorists.

Your own citation reveals nothing shocking:

Iraq remains a destabilising influence to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East'

Saddam was a danger to the world's stability, as he proved with his obsession with wmds, his willingness to use them; and his past history of invading a country (Kuwaiti oil).

Did we steal Kuwaiti oil?

Have we stolen Iraqi oil?

In 91? In the present?

Control of the oil fields were handed over to the Iraqi government in...what? 2005? 2006? The Iraqis are freely negotiating oil contracts with Royal Dutch Shell, Total SA, and BP which are all foreign owned oil companies.

How are we, the American people or George Bush for that matter, getting rich because of Iraqi oil? I know you didn't state anything of the sort, but that is the sort of thinking of the simpleminded BDS sufferers out there.

And if we look to the countries who opposed us from going to war with Saddam....hmmm...you don't suppose do you, that it was because of.....oil? Because they had oil contracts with Saddam? Not because they had some ethical high road toward peace?

I believe that oil was weighed into the equation, to keep it free and safe (not to steal! It would have been far cheaper to do business with Saddam); but the primary reason is terrorism. And turning into a visionary who thinks big, President Bush and his secret "cabal of neocons" decided to make an example out of Iraq- a country already primed due to 12 years of violation of the original cease-fire agreement as well as 16 un-enforced UN Resolutions. As bad as our intell was, it wasn't as far off the mark as we had thought, regarding the dangers that Saddam posed and his willingness to work with Islamic terrorists. The desire to transform Iraq, realistic or not, into a budding democracy, was a visionary plan for long term success goals. President Bush truly believes in the freedom agenda: that living in freedom is a "God-given" right of every human being. If you could successfully plant democracy in a key region of the Middle East, would there be a sort of domino effect? It might seem unrealistic and idealistic, but I believe the hope was to tackle one of the underlying "root causes", for long-term geo-political success.

As far as gayle's comments go, she is specifically referring to the commenters at Flopping Aces in the post I linked (they are filtering in from Salon, which linked to the post). And I totally agree with Gayle, if you read many of their comments.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 7:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I was indeed referring to some of the comments at Flopping Aces, Wordsmith. Thank you. I stand by my analysis! :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 7:19:00 AM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

I watched Brit Hume on FNC last night, and they discussed this situation. But their discussion didn't include the casualty count. They declared Sadr to have mostly won and Maliki to have mostly lost, because Maliki went to Iran to talk to Sadr, who is still hiding out there.

It was interesting to hear the opposite take on the question than you provided. Who will prove more grounded in reality in the long run?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger rockybutte said...

WORD:

My occasional, brief comments are not intended to "win" arguments. I hope that someone will read them and follow the thread.

The issues included in your response to my last posting would not be found in the mainstream media, who were permitted to blather on about WMDs and the implied conflation of Saddam and Osama/9/11 prior to the invasion of Iraq. PNAC members clearly wished for a president to overthrow Saddam and in W they had their boy, even though he did not run his campaign on regime change, and, in fact, emphasized that he was opposed to "nation-building". 9/11 opened up his Pandora's box of aggression.

Writing a newspaper story about the invasion and occupation of Iraq without mentioning oil is akin to thieves breaking into a gold mine for the stated purpose of freeing the mine of rats.

Looking ahead, who are the tyrants we're supporting today (as we supported Saddam for almost a decade) that we will turn on in the future to "democratize" a region.

How about Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, tribal leaders in the north of Afghanistan, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nigeria? China? Wouldn't that be interesting?

Check out the roll of honor of the School of the Americas to see which sociopaths we supported in the past only to take them down after they outlived their usefulness.

Name one country with no history of democracy that became democratic following an invasion and occupation by a foreign power. I don't know how much Al-Sadr knows about history, but he knows why the Americans are in Iraq (oil). That's why he opposed the invasion from the start even with the prospect of Saddam being removed from power. Al-Sadr could care less about democracy, but he wants Iraq to be controlled by Iraqis, not Americans or the British or Iranians.

Just a few rambling points you're under no obligation to respond to, although I know you will.

Keep up the dialogue.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

My occasional, brief comments are not intended to "win" arguments. I hope that someone will read them and follow the thread.

I understand.



The issues included in your response to my last posting would not be found in the mainstream media, who were permitted to blather on about WMDs and the implied conflation of Saddam and Osama/9/11 prior to the invasion of Iraq.


One of the most frustrating things about being a Bush supporter is the incompetence in the PR dept- in selling and defending the justifications for going to war.

PNAC members clearly wished for a president to overthrow Saddam and in W they had their boy, even though he did not run his campaign on regime change, and, in fact, emphasized that he was opposed to "nation-building". 9/11 opened up his Pandora's box of aggression.

Yes, 9/11 shifted focus and changed a lot of things.

There were around 8 or 9 justifications put forth, for going to war (really, a continuation and conclusion to the first Gulf War; Saddam believe he was at war with us, this whole time).

I found this from the New Yorker quite good, posted in February of 2003:

AFTER IRAQ
by NICHOLAS LEMANN
The plan to remake the Middle East.
Issue of 2003-02-17 and 24
Posted 2003-02-10

Has a war ever been as elaborately justified in advance as the coming war with Iraq? Because this war is not being undertaken in direct response to a single shattering event (it's been nearly a year and a half since the September 11th attacks), and because the possibility of military action against Saddam Hussein has been Washington's main preoccupation for the better part of a year, the case for war has grown so large and variegated that its very multiplicity has become a part of the case against it. In his State of the Union address, President Bush offered at least four justifications, none of them overlapping: the cruelty of Saddam against his own people; his flouting of treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions; the military threat that he poses to his neighbors; and his ties to terrorists in general and to Al Qaeda in particular. In addition, Bush hinted at the possibility that Saddam might attack the United States or enable someone else to do so. There are so many reasons for going to war floating around—at least some of which, taken alone, either are nothing new or do not seem to point to Iraq specifically as the obvious place to wage it—that those inclined to suspect the motives of the Administration have plenty of material with which to argue that it is being disingenuous. So, along with all the stated reasons, there is a brisk secondary traffic in "real" reasons, which are similarly numerous and do not overlap: the country is going to war because of a desire to control Iraqi oil, or to help Israel, or to avenge Saddam's 1993 assassination attempt on President George H. W. Bush.
Yet another argument for war, which has emerged during the last few months, is that removing Saddam could help bring about a wholesale change for the better in the political, cultural, and economic climate of the Arab Middle East. To give one of many possible examples, Fouad Ajami, an expert on the Arab world who is highly respected inside the Bush Administration, proposes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that the United States might lead "a reformist project that seeks to modernize and transform the Arab landscape. Iraq would be the starting point, and beyond Iraq lies an Arab political and economic tradition and a culture whose agonies have been on cruel display." The Administration's main public proponent of this view is Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who often speaks about the possibility that war in Iraq could help bring democracy to the Arab Middle East. President Bush appeared to be making the same point in the State of the Union address when he remarked that "all people have a right to choose their own government, and determine their own destiny—and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom."
Even those suffering from justification fatigue ought to pay special attention to this one, because it goes beyond the category of reasons offered in support of a course of action that has already been decided upon and set in motion. Unlike the other justifications, it is both a reason for war and a plan for the future. It also cries out for elaboration. Democracy is a wonderful idea, but none of the countries in the Middle East, except Israel and Turkey, resemble anything that would look like a democracy to Americans. Some Middle Eastern countries are now and have always been ruled by monarchs. Some are under the control of an ethnic or religious group that represents a minority of the population. Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are the world's only major nations named after a single family, and in Saudi Arabia the royal family functions as, in effect, the country's owner. Most Middle Eastern countries don't even make the pretense of having freely elected parliaments; in Iran, for example, candidates have to be approved by the mullahs. And the very problem that democracy in the Middle East is meant to solve—rising Islamic radicalism, encouraged or tolerated by governments that see it as a way to propitiate their increasingly poorer and younger populations—makes the prospect of elections dangerous, because anti-American Islamists might win.
People in the Administration are quick to explain that, where the Middle East is concerned, they don't mean immediate, American-style electoral democracy but, rather, a deliberate building of "civil society" or "democratic institutions," like a free press, political parties, open markets, and a system of written laws and courts that administer them, with national parliamentary elections as the final, and somewhat distant, step. That seems a worthwhile project, but if it takes place in the aftermath of a war it should be understood as involving the making of choices and the use of power by the United States, rather than merely polite encouragement. In search of a plausible scenario for the postwar future of the Middle East, I recently spoke with two Pentagon officials who have a reputation as leading hawks in the Administration: Douglas Feith, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, which is the job that Wolfowitz held in the first Bush Administration; and Stephen Cambone, who entered this Administration as Feith's deputy, and is now in charge of evaluating weapons systems and other Pentagon programs.

Stephen Cambone, who has an E Ring office that is somewhat smaller than Feith's, is big and athletic-looking, and he speaks more guardedly than Feith does—almost in code, rather than in Feith's full, elegant sentences. When I asked him how an American victory in Iraq might affect other Middle Eastern countries, he said, "The leadership in the countries in that region is changing. You've seen changes in Syria, you've seen them in Jordan; there will, over some period of time, be changes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and other places. The Palestinians. The way in which Iraq affects the calculations of those governments and their populations." How does Iraq affect their calculations? He mentioned the "transshipment of oil, and illicit flows, and trade coming in that you try to avoid sanctions against," which produce an "undercutting, or undermining, of what would otherwise be the standard and ordinary relationships among states which would otherwise have their relationship based on mutual interest." He added, "Because Iraq is not a normal state, it is dysfunctional with respect to the politics of the region, and that, in turn, has profound effects on the internal politics of the individual states." Cambone seemed to be referring specifically to the relationship between Syria and Iraq: the Iraqis provide oil to the Syrians, supposedly well in excess of the quantities permitted under United Nations sanctions, and get Syrian money and support in return. Jordan is also dependent on Iraqi oil, which means that its government has to tolerate Saddam's political wooing of the country's Palestinian majority. If Iraqi oil came with different ideological strings attached, these governments might feel freer to resist Islamic radicalism openly.
Will there be further regime changes in the Middle East? "Things won't be the same after as they were before," Cambone said. "Just by virtue of the event occurring, people making commitments. So should a conflict, and I underline should, if, maybe— There is a prospect that things, yeah, I think things could change in many of those places. Now, things could also go badly. One should not discount, for all that one can imagine good things happening, the prospect that things that would not be helpful or positive could occur, too"—especially, he added, if the United States and its allies do not manage the postwar period adeptly. Is the hope of effecting secondary changes part of the motivation for war? Cambone thought for a long moment. "Hmm. I don't know how to answer that." He stopped again, and finally, deliberately, said, "There is no lack of reflection on what the consequences either of the regime persisting or of its being gone might be. That is all part and parcel of how one thinks through the problem."

A few things should be said about this vision of the near-term future in the Middle East. It is breathtakingly ambitious and optimistic. It might plausibly be described as a spreading of democracy but, perhaps more important, it would also involve, as the "Clean Break" paper said, forcefully altering the regional balance of power. And it differs greatly from the vision of the future of the Middle East that will prevail among liberals, both here and abroad, after the war in Iraq. It treats Pan-Arab nationalism as illegitimate. It does not accept the widespread assumption that no regional good can follow the fall of Saddam unless peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority begin immediately. And it sees the fall of Saddam Hussein less as the end of a great diplomatic and military effort than as a step in an ongoing process.
The chances that President Bush has read David Wurmser's book must be pretty close to zero. But in the State of the Union address Bush rhetorically made some room for the United States to pursue an aggressive post-Iraq-war agenda in the Middle East. Washington was, understandably, so focussed on how Bush would "make the case" for war with Iraq that the State of the Union's foreign-policy doctrinal material, which preceded Bush's discussion of Saddam Hussein, got almost no attention. The news about that section of the speech is that Bush defined the United States' mission more broadly than he ever has before. This mission, he said, is not just protecting the country from terrorist attacks, and not just ridding the world of "every terrorist group of global reach" (the previous formulation, which he unveiled in his speech on September 20, 2001), but "confronting and defeating the man-made evil of international terrorism." By dropping the qualifying clause "of global reach," he gave the United States enough doctrinal space to declare war, if it wishes, on purely regional overseas terrorist organizations, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs. Bush made it clear that he considers killing terrorists to be well within the United States' charter, and that the support of allies is not a necessary precondition of American military action overseas. States "that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons"—a category that clearly includes Iran and (if you take out nuclear weapons) Syria—have sacrificed their right to sovereignty. It is the United States' duty and its responsibility not just to protect itself but also to spread liberty, which is "God's gift to humanity," to every nation, to bring about "the end of terrible threats to the civilized world," and to be the guarantor of "the hopes of all mankind."
What these phrases will mean for the Middle East, precisely, is hard to say, because war leads to so many unpredictable consequences. But what they will mean in Washington couldn't be clearer. After the war in Iraq has ended, the war between the hawks and the doves will continue.




Looking ahead, who are the tyrants we're supporting today (as we supported Saddam for almost a decade) that we will turn on in the future to "democratize" a region.

How about Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, tribal leaders in the north of Afghanistan, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nigeria? China? Wouldn't that be interesting?



Why did we "support" Saddam (who supplied most of his weapons? It wasn't us)? Look at who backed Iran. Look at who was now running Iran.

Why did we align ourselves with Stalin against the Nazis?

Were we not once friends with Japan before we were enemies, then friends again?

Britain?

Alliances come and go; no alliances are permanent; you know that from personal relationships in your own life.

"Perfect" democracies are a process. Certainly a lot of "democracies" are still experiencing "growing pains".

If you read Robert Kaplan, I do believe he is right in arguing that contrary to popular opinion, we are not propping up dictatorships with our "military interventionism"; and although we do have problems with "entangling" ourselves with unsavory governments, it's a matter of dealing with "the imperfect". Carter could not wrap his brain around this. So, because the Shah of Iran was not perfect in human rights and lived up to Carter's "holier than thou" sanctimony and morality, he stood aside and allowed- even enabled- the Shah to fall, heralding in an exchange of a brutal dictator for an even more ruthless regime to take root. This gives us one half of the current Islamic militancy we now face in the world today.

Check out the roll of honor of the School of the Americas to see which sociopaths we supported in the past only to take them down after they outlived their usefulness.

I must warn you, I've a little Machiavellian streak in my current outlook on life.

During the Clinton years, we hamstrung our CIA by not allowing the recruitment of spies of an unsavory character. Is the greater good served by "sticking to principle" and not aligning with those of questionable repute and morality? Or is the greater good harmed when we do not compromise values and work with "evil" to accomplish the greater outcome for good? Do ends justify the means, and/or do means justify end results?

I should do a morality paradox puzzle for a post. I think you and dan trabue would greatly enjoy it.

Al-Sadr could care less about democracy, but he wants Iraq to be controlled by Iraqis, not Americans or the British or Iranians.

And I believe he would get what he wished for, if he worked to help stabilize Iraq.

Continuing the violence and fomenting discord only ensured that more Americans would return to Iraq (the surge) to fight harder and be there longer.

The only reason we are still there is because of violence levels and sabotage of reconstruction efforts.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger rockybutte said...

Word:

Thanks for being a gracious Machiavellian, and thanks for the Lemann piece.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 4:44:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

rockybutte,

You are welcomed to comment anytime; you keep me on my toes, keep me honest, and make me rethink about things, sometimes. Just to be clear, I hope it doesn't appear like I think I know everything. Sometimes I'm silent because I don't have a clear, concise answer; other times it's lack of time to be as thorough as I would like. Other times, I should just come out and say "I don't know the answer to that, I need to read up on it."

There are some interesting comments going on in the FA thread. Includes some comments about Iraqi oil. Starting about comment #79.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 8:10:00 PM  
Blogger Indigo Red said...

"...our goal should be to arrive at a point where everyone's opinion is respected."

I don't think I could ever respect a person's opinion that my head should be lopped off. But maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 9:28:00 PM  
Blogger rockybutte said...

Indigo:

Who suggested your head should be lopped off?

Sancho?

Just asking.

Thursday, April 03, 2008 7:34:00 PM  

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