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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq

Turns Out We’re Not Leaving Iraq After All

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gates, are you trying to tell us something?

gates, are you trying to tell us something?

It was a reminder of the bad old days.  But it was today in Baghdad. Big suicide bomb, coordinated attacks on rescuers, dozens dead and wounded, and the customary “bears all the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda operation designed to ferment sectarian strife”.  It’s doubtful whether it had any effect on the tone of Robert Gates‘ interview on NPR this evening, but I’m sure the bombing was on the Secretary’s mind.

We’re not sure whether his boss is on board with this, although it seems likely, but Gates might have given us a little glimpse of reality during the interview. In response to a question about differences between him and the President on a final departure date for our troops from Iraq, Gates was less than convincing about the finality of that. From the NPR report. (My italics)

With regard to Iraq, Gates noted that under the Status of Forces agreement, all U.S. troops will be out by the end of 2011. Gates says he’s on the same page as Obama with the withdrawal and, barring a new agreement with the Iraqis, there will be zero troops in Iraq by that time. But he also speculates that the Iraqis could ask for logistical and intelligence support.

“The president’s statement is absolutely clear and it conforms to our current commitments, that is, according to the agreements we have signed, we will have everyone out of Iraq by the end of 2011,” Gates said. “And unless something changes, that is exactly what will happen. …[A change] would have to be at the Iraqis’ initiative. And the president will have to determine whether or not he wants to do that.”

“Logistical and Intelligence” support might well be a good cover-phrase for something a little more, shall we say, effective. In other words a new agreement ‘at the Iraqis initiative’ to guarantee some “we need your firepower because we’re getting our asses kicked” type support. Obama suspects that Al Qaeda is just waiting for us to shut the door after us before going all out again, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the President could make a judgment that keeping a few brigades on base for selective “logistical and intelligence support” might just be the insurance policy we need.

There’s been an awful lot of talk about the President’s philosophy. Nobody seems to know what it is. The reason is simple. His philosophy is the absence of a philosophy. Pragmatism.

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Written by coolrebel

March 10, 2009 at 9:53 pm

12k US Troops Leaving Iraq. 28 killed in Baghdad Bomb.

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Two headlines side by side on the same day. Sometime in the next two years, we’ll stop seeing versions of the first headline. Will the second headline be gone too? I doubt it.  Because it’s highly likely that not long after the troops are gone, we’ll be reporting on the new and endless rash of daily carnage.

And then what will we do? Send the boys back to Iraq?

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Written by coolrebel

March 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Leaving Iraq. More Powerful Arguments Against.

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there are some gambles that you just don't take. nation-building in iraq is definitely one of them

there are some gambles that you just don't take. nation-building in iraq is definitely one of them

Tom Ricks’ new book “The Gamble” is going to make some waves, and the author’s interview on NPR this morning is just the latest. This blog is an advocate of Obama leaving US troops in Iraq for the long term. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place in his Iraq policy. If he leaves he runs the risk of renewed violence after we’re gone. If he stays, he’ll be charged with breaking his promise to withdraw.

But facing the political heat at home in the short term would be far wiser than risking a bloodbath in Iraq after we close the door behind our last guys out, which will be bad news for US foreign policy and would cause an about turn from a fickle US public who’d suddenly tell him he should have stuck it out. Ricks makes the point in his NPR interview that he has ‘sympathy’ for Obama. Clearly, Bush left him with an intolerable mess and it will take superior leadership from our new Commander-in-chief to escape the jam with minimum damage. But in order to do so, hard choices have to be made. Obama has yet to prove he’s a tough choice kind of guy, despite his rhetoric to the contrary. Iraq is an arena that he has to get right.

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Written by coolrebel

March 4, 2009 at 10:49 am

Can you Spell Power Vacuum? The US Can’t leave Iraq.

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iraq. should we stay or should we go?

iraq. should we stay or should we go?

Obama’s speech at Camp LeJeune today made official what we’ve known for a while, that the combat mission in Iraq is over. Perhaps that explains why the response to what should have been a historical announcement seemed strangely muted. There are many other possible explanations too, ranging from the little matter of a massive economic crisis, to the existing de facto end of hostilities in Iraq, to the fact that just maybe, there’s a sense out there that it’s a mistake to go.

Obama’s decision to bring our major combat brigades home by the end of August 2010, and the remainder of the training and counter-insurgency force by 2011 is not a cause for celebration, even among those vehement in their opposition to the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The reason is simple. If, as the President has pledged, all US forces are withdrawn from Iraq in 2011 we’ll be leaving an unpredictable power vacuum that we will have no ability to deal with – if as is possible, a new sectarian crisis breaks out. I’m certain that Obama’s National Security Team did their due diligence and got as much intelligence to support the case for continued stability in Iraq as possible, but forecasts are just another word for hopes. And in the Middle East, banking on hope is a very bad idea. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

February 27, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Nobody Fights in Afghanistan and Wins.

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do we look like we're joking?

do we look like we're joking?

From a superficial perspective, the idea of diverting US forces to Afghanistan as we draw down troops in Iraq seems like a good idea. But Afghanistan is a deeply inhospitable, corrupt, backward, and highly unstable failed state with an almost feudal social structure. It’s been resisting modernity and foreign control for millenia.

Before we do anything we need to make a strategic decision about our goals. It’s clear that the Taliban must go, but forget democracy, stability is just fine. It’s equally clear that increasing US ground forces by a few combat brigades will not do the job. The war would slog on for many years at great cost in lives and treasure. The Kush would be a graveyard for our grunts. There has to be another way. And there is.

There are two connected ways to beat the Taliban. We need both to win. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

January 27, 2009 at 2:14 pm

If the Shoe Fits – Throw It at the Occupier

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george missed the point, as usual

george missed the point, as usual

In 2003 the press made a big hoo hah about the fact that it was a deep insult in Iraq to toss ones shoes at the object of derision. It was around the time the mission was “accomplished” and a toppled statue of Saddam was being dragged around being pelted with shoes by the incensed (and relieved) citizenry. Five and a half years later, at the other end of that war, and flying shoes have once again hit the headlines in Iraq. With Saddam long gone, the proud recipient of the double shoe-toss was the man responsible for ousting aforesaid dictator. President Bush.

Shouted the size-ten shoe-tosser in Arabic, identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, “This is a farewell kiss, you dog!”

That’s gratitude for ya. Read the rest of this entry »

Pearl Harbor Day. A Nation At War Then and Now.

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791px-1944_normandylst

US Forces Landing On Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6 1944.

Today is the 67th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which triggered America’s entrance into the Second World War. Less than four years later, America had been instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany and had almost singlehandedly defeated Imperial Japan.

US heavy industry was turned almost overnight into a highly coordinated Arms manufacturer, supplying the Allies with everything they needed to fight. At home, women went to work in factories, offices, and all over the home front, there was rationing of everything from tires to typewriters, from bicycles to beef, from fuel oil to coffee. There were blackouts all over America. And most importantly, there was the draft. Young men and women from all over America were drafted to fight and die on foreign shores. Over 400,000 lost their lives.

That is the definition of “A Nation at War”

The term is still used a great deal today to describe the two wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 and 2001 respectively. We’re frequently told we are a ‘nation at war’.

This nation’s armed forces are indeed involved in two serious conflicts, but the nation as a whole is not, and hasn’t been since Iraq and Afghanistan began. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

December 7, 2008 at 8:41 pm