Bait and switch

Lawrence Kaplan (with Irving William Kristol) selling The War over Iraq

The United States may need to occupy Iraq for some time. Though the UN, European and Arab forces will, as in Afghanistan, contribute troops, the principal responsibility will doubtless fall to the country that liberates Baghdad. According to one estimate, initially as many as 75,000 US troops may be required to police the war’s aftermath, at a cost of $16 billion a year. As other countries’ forces arrive, and as Iraq rebuilds its economy and political system, that force could probably be drawn to several thousand soldiers after a year or two. After Saddam Hussein has been defeated and Iraq occupied installing a decent democratic government in Baghdad should be a manageable task for the United States. quoted here (pp19-20)

Lawrence Kaplan presenting “The Case for Staying in Iraq” in TNR

The administration intends to draw down troop levels to 100,000 by the end of the year, with the pullback already well underway as U.S. forces surrender large swaths of the countryside and hunker down in their bases. The plan infuriates many officers, who can only say privately what noncommissioned officers say openly. “In order to fix the situation here,” Sabre Squadron’s Sergeant José Chavez says, “we need at least 180,000 troops.” Iraq, however, will soon have about half that. An effective counterinsurgency strategy may require time and patience. But the war’s architects have run out of both.

Maybe if Kaplan, Kristol and others had told us this in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a war.

Kaplan makes a pretty good argument that a pullout now would lead to disaster, and the latest horrific events strengthen his case. On the other hand, whereas Kaplan uses an admittedly isolated (and partial) success story to claim that the US is seen by Iraqis as an “honest broker, more peacekeeper than belligerent”, this is hard to square with a lot of evidence that suggests the opposite. As Kaplan himself says, the focus on massive military sweeps means that the “hearts and minds” strategy he favours would be starting from scratch, three years into the occupation. And the massive civilian casualties produced by military sweeps and a single-minded focus on “force protection” means that US forces have made many deadly enemies, going far beyond Baathists and jihadists.

Unfortunately, at this point, there are no good outcomes on offer. The US doesn’t have the 180 000 troops (“at least”) needed for Kaplan’s proposal, and no one else is going to supply them. If the troops were available, there’s no reason to suppose that they would be any more successful than they have been so far.

If there is a better option than setting an immediate timetable for withdrawal, ending some time next year, it isn’t on the table.

85 thoughts on “Bait and switch

  1. “Kaplan makes a pretty good argument that a pullout now would lead to disaster, and the latest horrific events strengthen his case.”

    If it’s a choice between disaster in Iraq or disaster for the Bush Clique, let it be the latter.

    The Bush Clique created the disaster in Iraq. Yet while Iraq burns US soldiers are cowering in their barracks. What is an Iraqi to conclude about the steadfastness of the United States in the interests of Iraq when the first whiff of Shiite civil strife sends drives them under their bunk beds?

    But it isn’t a choice. Iraq is already destroyed and the United States has nothing to offer. US soldiers and their friends and families now have to decide whether their enemies are the Iraqi masses or their warlords in Washington DC.

  2. No they did not create the situation. But the problem is they tried to take out the hydra by only cutting off one of the heads. They tried to liberate Nazi controlled Europe by only fighting in Holland. This is impossible.

    They ought to have taken down all the regimes simultaneously with air and proxy warfare. And you guys ought to stop gloating about them. Its not as if you people are unhappy with the situation.

    “Iraq is already destroyed and the United States has nothing to offer.”

    What on earth are you talking about? Iraq is booming. Its true they have not nor can they ever really beat the insurgency by only fighting WITHIN Iraq.

    But other then that Iraq is booming. And its ridiculous to say that the Americans have destroyed her.

    They destroyed the child-torturing socialist regime is what they did. And this may be the reason you guys were so angry about it.

  3. What refreshing honesty, Graeme Bird.

    Do you mean we ought to have taken down the Iranian and Syrian regimes at the same time we took out Iraq’s?

  4. Not if we’d taken out the Iranian regime as Graeme was suggesting. 🙂

    He may have a point that removing the regimes in surrounding countries might have prevented terrorists from entering Iraq to destabilize the Iraqi government. Certainly removing any regime that refused to prevent such entry into Iraq might have been helpful.

  5. “They ought to have taken down all the regimes simultaneously with air and proxy warfare.”

    But they didn’t. Why? Because for all their tough talk they were wimps led by retards.

    If I’d wanted to see the Bush Clique embarrassed and destroyed I would have added my small voice to the chorus of chicken-hawks who used to preen on blogs like this. Now the more intelligent of them realise that they’re plucked.

    “The Iraqi economy is booming…”


    Wait, I haven’t finished …

    Bwahahahahaha Bwahahahahaha

    Yep, that’s what billiions of pilfered US tax dollars will achieve. Just like in Vietnam. You could buy anything on the street in Saigon. US soldiers have been ordered not to try even walking on the street in Baghdad.


    Please send your great ideas to the White House. Here’s the address:

    Now that the Warlaords are riding for a disaster, they may as well follow your advice and make it a complete disaster.

  6. John, If Kaplan’s observations are correct – that a US withdrawal from Iraq will produce a horror show – then I think your conclusions do not make sense. You admit yourself a disaster will occur with pullout but still want it to happen. I think you misread Kaplan. He is saying a withdrawal is now occurring and that field commanders in Iraq (and even previously anti-US Sunnis) oppose it.

    How on earth will preannouncing and formalising an intention to withdraw help resolve sectarian violence in Iraq? I don’t see it.

    And Katz will you really feel so happy if Bush is punished and destroyed if the same happens to Iraq? Read the Kaplan article and see what will happen in Iraq if the US continue to withdraw.

    Forget about past rights and wrongs. What is best now? In my view stay the distance, establish non-religiously-based civil administration, police and military forces.

  7. Given that whacking Iraq stretched the US army, where would the divisions for a wider assault have come from? The idea of attacking Iran, as mooted by some of the more optimistic of the Bush fedayeen, is pretty clearly impossible.

  8. I believe Graeme’s idea was for “air and proxy warfare” against other regimes. Certainly that would have been doable, although it probably wouldn’t have felt right to many Americans even under the circumstances of wanting to keep other regimes from sending jihadists into Iraq.

  9. But the problem is they tried to take out the hydra by only cutting off one of the heads.
    The problem is they tried to take out the hydra by wandering off to the Augean stables to demonstrate headstands for us.

  10. Harry, my view now is that the invasion has been a disaster and will continue to be so, whatever is done. Withdrawal with a timetable is just the least bad option.

  11. I was hoping for one of those non-disaster invasions. You know, like…..uh……well……

    Seriously, can an invasion BE non-disastrous?

  12. I was hoping for one of those non-disaster invasions. You know, like…..uh……well……

    Seriously, can an invasion BE non-disastrous?

    You should be White House Press Secretary, Avaroo.

  13. I don’t think any WH could make an invasion non-disastrous. It’s the nature of invasions to be disastrous.

  14. the invasion has been a disaster and will continue to be so, whatever is done. Withdrawal with a timetable is just the least bad option.

    Right. FWIW, this has been my view for 2 + years after I foolishly got suckered into supporting the war by the likes of Kaplan et al.

    The US invaded Iraq because it looked like a low military cost, high political benefit proposition – “a short victorious war” in the words of a famous statesman [sic].

    Things had recently been running the US military’s way. The earlier Gulf War had been cheap and easy. Afghanistan went much better than expected. Hussein’s army was debilitated and the Baathist party was weak.

    Iraq looked ripe for conversion to a US client state along the lines of Saudi Arabia. Huge military, political and economic benefits would flow from this in the form of ditching the Saudis/hitching the Iraqis as military clients, promoting pro-Western democracy in the ME and breaking the back of OPEC.

    On the military cost side: most of the war-supporters believed the neo-con’s “cakewalk” tale that the US could walk in and knock over the Iraqi army in quick time. There wold have a brief, deliriously happy occupation and a reconstruction that would be mostly self-funded. More fool us.

    On the political benefit side: CENTCOM’s would destroy Baathists and Wahhabists and establish the US military’s hegemony over the ME, the US security apparatus would humiliate the French and entrench its control over the UNSC and the GOP would make the DEMs look like wimps and become “the Daddy party” in the US.

    Unfortunately this beautiful sounding dream reckoned without the peculiarites of the administering subject (Bush government) and ministered object (Iraqi state).

    The Bushies are all liars and fools, sadly including Powell. They could not run a school tuck shop let along a sub-continent.

    There are no good political movements or parties in Iraq, only more or less bad ones. The Iraqis are poor material for political civilization being mostly consanguinous tribalists with deeply entrenched ethnic differences. Iraq cannot be nation built as it is not a nation, merely a state presiding over an uneasy truce in a civil war. Islamic Arabs do not seem much interested in liberal democracy in the sense of minority rights/majority rules. In any case their foreign policy dispositions are hesperophobic and anti-semitic.

    Staying longer only prolongs the agony. The US Army probably does more harm than good due to its high-powered weaponry and zero-tolerance of threats.

    So the least worst option is to quit the place ASAP, seal the borders and let the Iraqis sort out their problems in the time-honoured way.

  15. You guys are talking around history not the present situation. Being obsessed with the guilt of your past misjudgements can lead you astray Jack. Nor does it matter if Bush was a liar etc etc etc. All irrelevant.

    If you read Kaplan you will see an argument presented that Iraq will be very much worse-off without enough US support.

    To pursue the positions you are pursuing you need to demonstrate why this is wrong (recall Iraqis are now fighting Iraqis) and why making a preannouned total mwithdrawal from Iraq will improve the current situation there. I can’t see it.

  16. I agree. We’ve removed Saddam, there’s a functioning Iraqi government, time for all coalition troops to begin to go home.

  17. It will take months to withdraw completely. While there’s no need for any announcements, as there was also never any chance that coalition troops were going to stay either forever or in huge numbers for many years, it is time for Iraqis to take more and more responsibility for themselves. We don’t want to become a crutch for them. It isn’t necessarily to improve the situation that coalition troops should gradually withdraw as much as it is to put management of the situation where it belongs. Improving it is up to the Iraqis and I think they’ll do it.

  18. Forget it, there will be no withdrawal due to ‘insurgent’ activities.

    When it comes to doing the hard yards, where the bloody hell are you?’

  19. Two possible scenarios come to mind:

    1) US pulls out. Iraq descends into civil war, and without a backer like US, stretches over 15 years, with casualties running into 15,000 per year.

    2) US doesn’t pull out. Irag descends into civil war. Backed by the US, the war runs over 15 years, with casualties running into 20,000 per year (since more arms are involved).

    However, if US pulls out, then the UN could act as a peace broker. There is a possibility of Iraq fragmenting into three countries.. which would be bad news for Turkey and Iran.

    No good choices, really.

  20. Since I don’t often agree with avaroo, let me highlight this comment “It’s the nature of invasions to be disastrous.”

    Exactly right, and why war should always be a last resort.

  21. The risk of civil war is the most cited reason for arguing against immediate withdrawal. Besdies the obvious point that the COW presence doesn’t appear to be having any significant calming effect, maye a civil war is necessary/unavoidable as part of the process of producing a stable state in the long run. An unpleasant thought, but maybe a little more realistic than the ‘Leninist’ view of the radical neo-liberals who appeared to believe that chaos+bombs=democracy.

  22. The only sensible course three years ago was to oppose the war, it remains the only sensible course. The vast majority of Iraqis want “us” to leave so now is the time to start withdrawal.

    And don’t let these nuts talk you into another one, okay?

  23. The problem with sticking around in Iraq to try to provide some sense of security is that the occupying or peacekeeping forces are inevitably drawn into defending one set of people from another. This was true in Vietnam, this was true in Lebanon, this is true in Kosovo, and it will be true in Iraq. I have absolutely no confidence that the US Administration has any idea which horse to back in Iraq, as if there were a good way of making that determination. I have little doubt, for example, that if the US were providing peacekeepers in Palestine, they would have thrown their support behind Fatah and would now be faced with the problem of having backed a minority.

    The additional problem is that any faction backed by the US may be treated by an increasingly large portion of the populace as collaborators. The proper thing to do now is to get out.

  24. “Exactly right, and why war should always be a last resort. ”


    I’m not sure that terrorism inside Iraq amounts to “civil war”.

  25. John Hardy, I’m not sure that even if it were true that the vast majority of Iraqis want coalition troops to leave, that that would be the best determinant to make the decision to begin troop drawdowns. Surely the vast majority of Japanese and Germans wanted the allies to leave Japan and Germany yet I don’t recall reading anywhere that that was a factor in the decision to leave either.

    To me, it makes sense to draw down troops as Iraqi troops become trained and ready to handle their own security. Becoming a crutch for them is not a good idea.

  26. Having gone to war I think we have some moral obligation to ensure security and stability in Iraq. Ugly though that process may be.

  27. The best bet is partition (Shia/Sunni/Kurd) and then US withdrawal with regional powers installing strong mediating forces (“peace keeping” if you will, though I suspect the term will soon be captured by the neocons to mean something quite different). Partition will require wholesale ethnic swapping (eg, Greece-Turkey in the 1920s), which the US will hate being involved in, but the alternative is full scale civil strife and ethnic/religious/tribal war, and, here’s the kicker for the US, it will draw in Iran and, in particular, Saudi Arabia.

    That’s the doomsday scenario for the US (and the west in general). A Shia uprising in northern Saudi Arabia, supported by Shia in Iraq and Iran, would be utterly devastating to the oil bidness ($300 a barrel, anyone). Iran could easily seal of the Gulf, and the US can do zip about it with the Iranians armed to the teeth with anti-ship weapons the US cannot defend against. The scope for a wider and far deadlier war than merely a civil war in Iraq is real and the latter is a only a distraction. When you hear the phrase “Iraqi civil war”, understand that it’ll stay an Iraqi civil war for about 5 minutes, before it becomes something far worse, quite probably leading to a nuclear intervention by US forces against Iran.

  28. The miserable state of affairs in Iraq reminds me of the last few years of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Aside from the cultural dissonance between the occupiers and the occupied, the sheer despair over where to go from here is reminisicent of the Soviet Union’s agonies in the mid-80s. The American deployment in Iraq is the same as the Soviet deployment in Afghanistan: a monumental f*ck up.

    I don’t know much about Kaplan, Kristol et al., but their feeble, inconsistent attempts to justify the American decision to deploy in Iraq – again, so reminiscent of the feeble, inconsistent attempts of Soviet propagandists to justify the Soviet decision to deploy in Afghanistan – lead one to believe that ALL of us, especially erstwhile foreign policy boffins like Jack Strocchi, should have seen through their bullshit from the very start. That some fairly basic requirements of military intervention, like a raft of exit strategies, were thought to be unnecessary was also a very clear indication that those pushing for intervention were living in a fantasy land.

    I also think looking at the Soviet experience in Afghanistan can be instructive in terms of how the American presence in Iraq is going to be resolved. The Americans can stay and watch as opposition to their presence becomes more and more entrenched and powerful. Even without a comparitive Cold War enemy to finance the jihadists, there’s enough guns, bullets and pissed-off folk in Iraq to carry on an armed resistance for a long time.

    Or the Americans can get the hell out, like the Soviets eventually did, and watch a Taliban-style fundamentalist mob step in and relieve the grateful population from an exhausting and chaotic series of local wars. Then we can watch Iraq become a bastion of anti-Westernism which gives shelter to bin Laden-style terrorists, just like Afghanistan. Then we can do this all again, until the American people, like the Soviet people, decide their government can no longer find the mustard, let alone cut it, and heave them out. Presumably the new US government will moderate its ambition, seeking to boost its domestic self-image through another military intervention, albeit against smaller fry – the US version of Chechnya.

    Cuba looks like a good option. Lot of patriotic capital to be made there.

    OR: perhaps the world will do in Iraq what it didn’t do in Afghanistan, and actually maintain an interest in preventing both local wars AND the rise of militant fundamentalism. Let’s send the yanks home, bung a UN force in there, and do a damn good job of convincing Iraqis that the UN force is there to provide security while they get on with the job of rebuilding, by doing a damn good job of providing security while they get on with the job of rebuilding. It can be done, we did it in East Timor and, with less comprehensive success, the Balkans. It’s time the UN became extremely competent at this kind of task, as it seems the only current alternative to the gung-ho interventions favoured by the US.

    Let’s also not forget to remind Kaplan, his ilk, and his supporters, when they eventually lay their sights on Cuba, that those Chechens gave the Russians a good lesson in how to fight.

  29. The basis for this discussion – Kaplan’s article re withdrawal – is a red herring. Like the stinking fish distracting the fox hounds, such writings divert attention from what US strategic interests are actually being articulated through the invasion and occupation. It assumes that the welfare of the Iraqi people was (or now is) in some way a factor in the calculus determining the US presence in Iraq. This is demonstrably a fanciful notion, and it is a remarkable achievement by war proponents that after serving up such a string of lies year after year that anything they say now continues to inspire intelligent debate.

    The kind of sentiments expressed by Graeme Bird earlier in this thread deserve some closer analysis because they are much closer to the thinking of the US warmonger class than the wishy-washy Kaplan pap. Essentially what is being said is that for the US might makes right. The US can invade and bomb with impunity, so it should do so. The rights of foreigners to live in peace is as nothing compared to the rights of the US to compel them militarily to submit to whatever the current fashion in Washington dictates. The attempt to impose some sort of utilitarian assessment on US military action bears no relationship to what analyses actually impel US military action.

    It’s always wise to have a look at what is actually happening rather than listen to the words of Bush and the punditocracy. While the talk is of ‘drawdown’, on the ground Halliburton and Bechtel are creating the largest and best fortified permanent military bases the US military has anywhere in the world (see Can You Say “Permanent Bases”? The American Press Can’t” at These are not the actions of a military that has any intention of leaving, precisely because the whole strategic purpose of the invasion in the first place was to assert miltary control over the flow of oil from the region. Permanently.

    They have no interest whatever, other than as part of what passes for political debate in the US media, in the welfare or governance of Iraq. The upscaling of ethno-religious conflict in occupied Iraq may well suit the purposes of the Pentagon’s strategists. But it won’t be a consequence of withdrawal, because that just is not going to happen any time soon.

    It seems to me that the interesting and unforeseen development in the Iraq invasion/occupation/permanent bases oil control strategy is that the assertion of control has turned out not to be a guarantee of security of supply. The Iraqi insurgency has been highly effective at disrupting exports. The Iranians can be taken at their word when they threaten cessation of exports in retaliation for imposition of sanctions. The recent activity in the Saudi kingdom suggest AQ has switched from massacring civilians to disrupting oil exports. It may well be that the US will find that while military might is excellent at destruction and terror, it’s not much good at production and security of supply.

  30. “And Katz will you really feel so happy if Bush is punished and destroyed if the same happens to Iraq? Read the Kaplan article and see what will happen in Iraq if the US continue to withdraw.”

    So what? Many nations have suffered Civil War.

    Americans killed each other with enthusiasm during their civil war. How happy would the Federals have been if the British had intervened to impose a settlement that entailed some form of political autonomy for the Confederacy?

    It’s up to the people with a permanent stake in the future of their nation to decide whether civil war is preferable to uncivil peace. Outsiders will be welcomed as providers of personnel, arms and funding so long as the political fallout is not overwhelmingly negative.

    In this context, the US still has a role to play in Iraq. But for reasons too numerous to list the US has destroyed its credibility in Iraq. Whichever side the US chooses will be the losing side.

    Therefore America, choose carefully.

    Iraqis don’t need Harry Clarke’s hand-wringing and Iraqis don’t need the United States stealing their sovereignty and self-determination in the name of a phoney and sanctimonious “crusade” for “humanitarianism”.

    If Americans want to agonise about the terrible moral burdens that their superpower status has imposed upon them, they should feel free.

    But Americans should acknowledge that the Iraqi people are too busy dodging bullets to listen and the rest of the world is too bored to care.

  31. Jack, you do yourself proud with your forthright mea culpa – would that some of your erstwhile keyboard compadres, Kristol and Kaplan chief among them, could see their way clear to doing the same, but as Hal9000’s perspicacious comment makes clear, those guys are just front of house for the invaders, showily fretting about Iraqis as cover for the ancient imperatives of power, wealth and control. Not to forget Israel, never far from the calculus of your Kaplans and Kristols.

  32. Terje: “Having gone to war I think we have some moral obligation to ensure security and stability in Iraq. Ugly though that process may be.”

    This is exactly why I have consistently argued against the invasion and against premature withdrawal of western forces.

    The counterargument – that continued western military occupation is counterproductive – is beginning ot look much mroe credible after recent events.

    Congressman john Murtha has argued that the US could withdraw most of its ground forces and continue to use air power to prevent the insurgents gaining power and to prevent either side in any civil conflict deploying large conventional forces.

    It may be time to reconsider that option.

  33. Katz, Your literary response, with its well-designed abuse answers zero. Like John Q (on this occasion) you circumvent the main issue of explaining why a preannounced withdrawal of American forces will help maintain civil order in Iraq. I might be wrong in claiming it won’t but I get nothing from your response that suggests it will.

    John’s claim is that it is a ‘least bad’ option. What about trying to set up a non-sectarian public sector, getting roads and electricity working and getting able-bodied young men jobs. Is this ‘hand-wringing?’. And is it impractical given Stiglitz et al’s estimate of the cost of the war at up to $2 trillion. Why not spend a few hundred billion repairing the damage?

    Or is it Katz that you are really gloating that Iraq is being lost to a bunch of terrorist nazis, being paid by Iran, and that the left has been proven right in opposing intervention to get rid of heroic Saddam? This attitude makes my haemorrhoids ache.

  34. What about trying to set up a non-sectarian public sector, getting roads and electricity working and getting able-bodied young men jobs.

    You forgot to wish for the pony:

    [W]ishes are totally free.

    It’s like when you can’t decide whether to daydream about being a famous Hollywood star or having amazing magical powers. Why not — be a famous Hollywood star with amazing magical powers! Along these lines, John has developed an infallible way to improve any public policy wishes. You just wish for the thing, plus, wish that everyone would have their own pony! So… not only wish that Bush would say a lot of good things about democracy-building and fighting terrorism in a speech written for him by a smart person… also wish that Bush should actually mean the things he says and enact policies which reflect this, and he should wish that everyone gets a pony. See?

  35. 1. “is it Katz that you are really gloating that Iraq is being lost to a bunch of terrorist nazis, being paid by Iran”

    If by this you are implying that Al Qaeda in Iraq is in any way driven by adherence to the broad objectives of the Iranian government, then your ignorance of the alignment of forces in Iraq is breathtaking. If you are referring to the Shiite militias, then your definition of “terrorist” is so broad that it is empty of content.

    But let us proceed to the material point of answering your direct question:

    2. “Like John Q (on this occasion) you circumvent the main issue of explaining why a preannounced withdrawal of American forces will help maintain civil order in Iraq.”

    OK, let’s be plain.

    A US withdrawal, whether pre-announced or Gallipoli-like (Australians know what I mean), will mean violence and bloodshed. Part of that bloodshed will be perpetrated by AQ and its foreign terrorists. They will be fighting the Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

    Without the presence of the US I predict that AQ in Iraq will soon cease to be the tail that wags the Sunni dog. They will have to fall in with Sunni aims and methods or become political liabilities, like the International Brigades in Civil War Spain became for the Republicans.

    While the US remains in Iraq, Iraqi nationalism and AQ will not be seen to be inimical to each other. Remove the US and the contradiction between AQ and Iraqi nationalism may well still emerge. Then the Sunni themselves will be forced to discipline their AQ confederates.

    However, the longer the US tarries in Iraq, the more likely it will become that the fast-approaching Iraq Civil War will become a supra-national, Middle-East-wide struggle between Shia and Sunni Islam, with apocalyptic consequences for the entire region.

  36. SJ, Its clever crap. I don’t like ponies but the horse shit I can use on my tomato plants. Is that clever too? The rest, empty void-like utterances that I admiit would amuse a 5 year old but which say zero.

    Katz, the Iranians are funding the Shia thugs in Iraq and trying to turn the place into a Shia-alligned Islamic state. AQ are a tiny minority of desparate mad Islamic twits. They are not driving things in Iraq at all.

    The last bit on how a pre-announced American withdrawal will benefit Iraq is fantasy. It is anything but ‘plain’. You are guessing, ignoring evidence & trying to justify your earlier assertions with glibness without addressing the concerns raised by Kaplan.

  37. Glib???

    In eschatological terms, I’ve given Iraq the choice of Hell (Kaplans’ prescription) or an extended stay in Purgatory (Katz’s prescription).

    Kaplan reverses the torments, that’s all. Kaplan’s presumption that the US will prove to be sufficiently steadfast to ice the situation in Iraq (a huge commitment of troops and assets for an unforeseeable span of time) is the very essence of glibness. Kaplan is glibly ahistorical and glibly optimistic about the capacity and will of the people of the United States to take up the difficult challenge of the historical role that Kaplan is willing to should on their behalf.

    There IS no pain-free solution for Iraq. At least in Purgatory there’s an end to it.

    Are the Badr and Sadr Brigades terrorists? Explain with evidence.

  38. SJ,

    Its clever crap. I don’t like ponies but the horse shit I can use on my tomato plants. Is that clever too? The rest, empty void-like utterances that I admiit would amuse a 5 year old but which say zero.

    Are you for real, Harry? Brad DeLong’s point about wishful thinking sailed straight over the top of your head?

    Fair enough. Maybe you’ve been living under a rock.

    There is no reconstruction budget.

    Bush budget leaves Iraq only half-fixed

    President Bush’s $2.77 trillion budget seems to make it official: The United States has no additional plans to fund reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

    The White House requested and Congress allocated $18.4 billion for reconstruction in 2003. Those funds are expected to run out this year.

    Mission accomplished? Hardly.

    With American assistance, an impressive list of infrastructure projects has been completed thus far. Some 3,600 projects — including schools, hospitals and highways — are expected to be completed before the funds run dry.

    Yet despite these accomplishments, there is still much to be done. In terms of electricity, sanitation, water, oil production and education, Iraq is nowhere near recovering from the damage caused by the ongoing conflict. A recent ABC poll in Iraq found 52 percent of respondents saying reconstruction efforts have been ineffective or have not occurred at all.

    Understand? This is a given. It’s not something that happens or not depending upon a withdrawal. The decision to abandon rebuilding has already been made. And not by John Q or Katz, either, just in case you’re still a bit slow in catching up.

  39. “The last bit on how a pre-announced American withdrawal will benefit Iraq is fantasy. It is anything but ‘plain’”

    Hang about Harry. I’m getting the picture now.

    You ARE angling for a “Gallipoli solution”. One morning the Iraqis will wake up and find nothing but empty Budweiser cans where the Americans used to be.

  40. Some people seem to confuse what the US will do with what it would if the fate of the Iaqis were its main concern. US actions will based now, as before, on what is best for the US.

    I still haven’t heard anything convincing to suggest COW forces staying put is the best course of action.

  41. “Having gone to war I think we have some moral obligation to ensure security and stability in Iraq. Ugly though that process may be.”

    I agree. But the question is, for how long? If we’re waiting for the time when all terror attacks within Iraq cease, well that may be never. Terror attacks can occur anywhere at any time, including in the US and Australia.

    The US must help Iraqis ensure their own stability and security THROUGH the training and support of Iraqi troops. It cannot stay forever to guarantee Iraqi security. We’ve already made that mistake in Europe.

  42. I want to emphasize that the coalition MUST do everything it can to help Iraqi troops become able to deal with whatever security issues Iraq has. Now and in the future. It isn’t about leaving before the troops have at least some chance of managing on their own. But when that line is crossed, it is time to begin draw down. Any one particular terror attack is not enough to stop the draw down and if the Iraqi troops are trained and ready, it won’t be.

  43. Avaroo makes the most common logical leap that supporters of the invasion – that it was one of moral calculations and that now it conitnues to be a moral imperative that US-British forces must ‘stay the course’.

    Taking this to the next level of inanity, avaroo warns that the US “cannot stay forever to guarantee Iraqi security”. Now it seems it is the US we should be sorry for, as it manfully shoulders the enormous repsonsibilities that it is unwillingly burdened with.

    Give us a break!

  44. I think you misunderstood. I said nothing about staying the course. And nothing about feeling sorry for anyone. Please read more carefully.

  45. I also said nothing about the invasion being one of moral calculations. And I don’t believe that’s true.

  46. In the early days of Bush’s Iraq Fiasco, when it seemed it would be “Mission Accomplished”, Deputy Secretary of the US Defense Department Paul Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects the Iraq misadventure, thought that telling the truth about the “moral calculations” for going to war wouldn’t hurt anyone important.

    ‘The decision to highlight weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for going to war in Iraq was taken for “bureaucratic reasons”‘

    In other words, Wolfowitz thought it was safe to throw off the burqa of sanctimony to reveal the true face of a giant of geopolitical grand strategy: the American Colossus masterful bestride the world.

    Trouble is Young Colossus soon discovered his nuts were caught in a vice.

    All this is old history, except that Avaroo has resurrected Wolfowitz’s frankness, not in the flush of illusory victory but in the twilight of bitter humiliation.

    Wolfowitz said: “When it can’t hurt you, tell the truth.”

    Avaroo says: “When all else fails, tell the truth.”

  47. Avaroo in response to,
    “Having gone to war I think we have some moral obligation to ensure security and stability in Iraq.â€?, you stated that “I agree”.

    The “moral” dimension has been advanced by many who support the ‘US must stay’ option.

    Your initial implication seemed to be that the US is going to be somehow caught-out (eg. like the “mistake in Europe”) in Iraq, as if the US is some bumbling innocent. As a basic concept, it’s pure fantasy.

    The real question is what needs to be done to produce the best result for Iraqis. That may or may not include US-British forces remaining in Iraq. Fundamental to that is how do you create a stable polity from chaos. This will primarily be a process conducted by and between Iraqis. External actors can be helpful, but when they are motivated by self-interest, they are more likely to hinder than to help. And that is my reason for supported a ‘COW out now’ policy – US actions are primarily (and obviously) ones of self-interest.

  48. As Clash were wont to sing:
    “Should I stay or should I go now?
    Should I stay or should I go now?
    If I go there will be trouble
    An’ if I stay it will be double
    So come on and let me know”

    I must say that for the first time ever, I agree with one of Katz’s analysis, i.e. that the Allies should stand back, and let them at it, if that’s what the Iraqis want.
    But only up to a point. katz’s analysis is still permeated by the bored nihilistic cosmopolitanism that she usually projects, and I feel that that is as far as her analysis goes.
    The question has to asked “why did we go into Iraq?
    Everyone knew that Saddam was not an immediate threat even if everyone thought that he had some WMD. No! the reason was to destabilise the dysfunctional regimes in the Middle East.
    Iraq was the easiest of the “toxic swamp” to invade, and it turned out to be so.
    Another major reason was expressed by Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis. He said we went into Iraq “quite simply, to frighten any state that might in the future be harboring terrorists. It’s like the parking signs that Mayor Koch used to put up around New York. Remember those? ‘Don’t even think of parking here.’ Don’t even think of harboring terrorists.�

    The Allies, however, stuffed up by not having a sufficient plan for post-Saddam Iraq.
    Anytime a smaller country is invaded by a more powerful country, it will always move towards guerrilla warfare. It can hide it’s soldiers amongst the population but the invading country can’t. I’ve read somewhere that a guerrilla movement that is not defeated within the first six months, can never be defeated by conventional means.
    As Kissinger said during the Vietnam War, “The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.�
    The war in Iraq is, as all the events of the last few weeks prove, a war between factions, Al Qaeda, their allies the Sunnis, Shiites and to a lesser extent, the Kurds. So let them sort it out themselves.
    The Allies should withdraw as soon as is decent to Kuwait and the smaller Gulf states, where they could be on 24 hour call if the new Iraqi government desperately need them.
    The clue to an effective Iraq will be the development of an efficient Army and police force. It will take time and lots of blood will be spilt.

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