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Author Topic: Don't you know there's a war on?  (Read 45041 times)

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Bongo Bill

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Don't you know there's a war on?
« on: May 19, 2008, 03:47:13 PM »

Well, we've still got our boys off in Iraq (among other, less controversial places). Things are still happening there, and before much longer it's going to be turning into an election-time issue. So I'm a bit curious what people have to say about it. Even if they've said it before.

So, um, tell me? I mean, I'd appreciate it if this didn't turn into a flame war, so that people feel comfortable speaking frankly about it. (I mean, I don't. I'd get yelled at.)
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SCD

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2008, 04:09:44 PM »

You have no idea how lucky you are to have a military commander as intelligent and proactive as the 4-star there right now. 

There are some interesting tales from the past that are emerging, and a lot of lessons learned, especially on the subject of why "prior planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance", but it would be a sin to leave Iraq off in the state that it is now, despite the fact that it was illegal to go in there in the first place.

Iraq is going to be an issue, almost as much with what you will see happen to the polar icecaps this summer. Things are already heating up and the Iraqi government is seeing both the cracks in the Sadrist militia, as well as why a Shia militia in a multi ethnic society is a very bad thing.

While the military in Iraq is an absolute clusterfuck, I am more than sure they are much more efficient by the soldier already than say, the islamic republics to the east or west.  They're going to suck hardcore for another two years, gradually getting better, an improvement from not doing anything at all last year, and they will gradually continue to improve so long as the weak links in the chain of command get rooted out after every offensive like we are seeing right now, and that the Iraqi Government holds stable. 

They are not too strong a government right now, but more and more are they willing to increase their sovereignty and the signs of normal life in places like Baghdad and Basra are slowly returning. 

Things are much better than the summer of 2006, and while they are not as optimistic as 2007 when small tribal militias rooted out Al Queda for dissatisfaction for not acting in the interests of Iraq, let alone acting the function of a proper municipality, That's because the focus is on the Iraqi government to be serious about exerting their own rule - By law.

I find it almost funny as I think about it more:  Staying in Iraq until it is stable enough to rule itself "is a punishment fitting of the crime of invading there" in the first place, and it fits considering that your nation is too frakking isolationist to own up to your own crimes in international law through mechanisms such as the ICJ.  I also believe in the "If you leave, the terrorists will follow you home" bit, as leaving an unstable and overrun Iraq will give violent NGOs a fabulous base to train in the exact same fashion that the Ruskies gave Al Queda an opportunity to nurture in Afghanistan by invading, then pulling out.  The best part is, unlike Russia, your country has proven itself well to be a "target-rich" environment.

Also, while your at it you might want to invest in several more logistics teams for the US military to a separate command in the spirit of the US corps of engineers.  This is most likely a purely awesome idea twofold:  1st, it gives organizations such as DHS and USAID new mechanisms for deploying aid and longterm sustainment in the event of local disasters, longterm deployments, or staging grounds for NGOs and PRTs in foreign nations.  Also, you've done well in proving that the private sector is indeed much more expensive than "socialized" operations abroad.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2008, 04:23:59 PM »

You have no idea how lucky you are to have a military commander as intelligent and proactive as the 4-star there right now.

Well, I have an idea, but.
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Thad

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2008, 04:37:27 PM »

I don't doubt Petraeus's skill or qualifications, but I don't trust a word Bush or McCain says because they lied through their teeth to get us there.  Iraq has proven a breeding ground for terrorists, and every day we stay there it serves as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda.  Muslims see the invasion as an assault on the Muslim world, and I'm not sure they're wrong.

That's why the "they'll follow us home" argument doesn't hold water.  We're in far more danger now than we were before we invaded, and the longer we stay the more enemies we'll have.  Even in the unlikely case that we managed to stamp out al Qaeda in Iraq (which, bear in mind, DID NOT EXIST until we went in), we'd still be facing a whole new generation of terrorists throughout the Middle East.

The Iraqi government needs to learn to take care of itself, and it's not going to do that as long as it has to rely on foreigners to hold its hand.  I find SCD's "having to stay until it's fixed is fair punishment" line patently offensive as the people being punished are the soldiers, not the neocons.

It's lose-lose at this point.  What's going to happen, best-case, is that Iraq becomes another Iran, a nation with a democratically-elected Shi'ite government that hates us.  And that's going to happen whether we keep our troops there to continue getting killed or not.

As for what this nation thinks?  Polls tend to show that it depends on how the question is asked.  Most Americans support timetables but oppose immediate pullout.  Most oppose leaving before the Iraqi government and military are capable of supporting themselves, but most also oppose staying any longer than the next two years.

How that affects the election is hard to say.  The war is incredibly unpopular, and McCain has tied himself to it inextricably.  I don't think he's going to be able to convince a plurality of swing voters that he's the better choice on those grounds, and I think if he wins it will be because the Democratic Party fucks up.  Again.

As for what THAT nation thinks?  Iraq wants us the fuck out.  The people want us out, and the Parliament wants us out.  The Executive Branch is flouting the will of the Legislative Branch, which should hardly come as a surprise from a puppet of Bush.  Our leadership is sending something of a mixed message in saying we need to give control over to the Iraqi government and then refusing to leave when it tells us to.

In summary, we need to get the hell out.  Obviously we can't pull out immediately.  But I want to see a timetable for withdrawal by this time next year.
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Guild

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2008, 05:02:00 PM »

Fine, fine. Bush lied and that's where we are now.

The problem with Iraq now is that, on an international level, we're obligated to restore Iraq to at minimum a more stable state than it was in under Saddam.

Many worldwide would agree that Iraq is not as stable now as it was under Saddam.
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Zaratustra

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2008, 05:19:06 PM »



You could send American companies to try to pump money into the economy, but that would feel like a cultural invasion.

Maybe invest in local Iraqi businesses?

Brentai

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2008, 06:16:46 PM »

In summary, we need to get the hell out.  Obviously we can't pull out immediately.  But I want to see a timetable for withdrawal by this time next year.

Ahh, so this is where we are five years later.  We're setting timetables on the setting of timetables.

The problem now, which was the problem in 2003, is that we don't have a clear definition of our goals yet (still).  When Bush descended from the Heavens on his splendid silver airship and declared our Mission to be Accomplished*, the unwashed masses gathered together and cried in unison, "What Mission did we Accomplish, o President?"  And then he sort of turned red in the face and climbed back into his plane, flying away hastily and flipping off the American people on the way past.

Now, usually, just to have an answer to this question, people will usually say that our goal is "a stable government in Iraq."  This sounds good but when you sit down to write a mission plan out of it you realize it still doesn't tell you a damn thing.  What constitutes a "stable government", and how the fornicate is America going to force one on the Sand People?  The only blueprint we can be expected to work off of is our own government, which isn't really all that stable; it manages not to collapse entirely by jading its people to the point to where we don't even react to scandal and corruption (Daily Show had a pretty neat segment once, depicting a foreign riot erupting over their PM lying about something, shown side-by-side with a typical American's reaction to the same sort of news, i.e. he casually eats some pizza and tries to change the channel).

If we were to honestly attempt the same in Iraq, then we need to first eradicate any sense of culture and pride from the natives, and then replace it with an atmosphere of moral apathy and crass capitalism.  In other words, the only way to rehabilitate Iraq is to force it to experience the 80s.

This sets our timetable for withdrawal at a disappointing whole decade, but on the bright side our soldiers will have access to all the women with big hair and headbands they could want.

* I will never forgive George Walker Bush for turning such a succint and useful victory statement into a common joke.  It's a minor irritation if you happen to like designing games in which there are missions to accomplish complete.
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BŁge

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2008, 06:44:38 PM »

You'd think the soldiers would take better care of their interpreters.


Many worldwide would agree that Iraq is not as stable now as it was under Saddam.

Many worldwide agree that the earth is flat. Cite some evidence here.
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Thad

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2008, 07:00:40 PM »

Many worldwide agree that the earth is flat. Cite some evidence here.

:wuv:
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Bongo Bill

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2008, 08:33:32 PM »

You'd think the soldiers would take better care of their interpreters.
Dated, I urge you to notice, March 2007.
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Cannon

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2008, 08:51:56 PM »

...This may be a silly question, but... What's your point?
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Bongo Bill

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2008, 08:56:23 PM »

Meaning, it was written before this whole "Surge" thing I hear so much about. It seemed like it'd be an important consideration, when asserting something is representative of the present that took place prior to a comprehensive change in policy.
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SCD

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2008, 09:11:10 PM »

It's a good article which did reflect the mood a year back.  The events of 2006 did make be believe that the US was completely frakked. 

Thad -- Good points on your end, although I disagree on two.  My statement on punishment, as unapologetic as I will be, should be downright offensive as opposed to "patiently".  I thank you for your respectful tone on the issue nonetheless.  I only hope that criminal charges get pressed against the original perpetrators, the policy makers as opposed to the executors, and the friends who profit extraordinarily from things such as school-building, catering and laundry services.  Those "mercenaries" must be brought to account. 

The second is your lose on both cases account.  While I know you understand and respect my reasons to the point where it bears no repeating, the way the political borders within Iraq are drawn up do not make it easy to see a shia absolute majority in the assembly.  At best, the Iraqi government will have to deal with coalition parties.  At worst..  Well my country seems to function with a minority parliament and we can't seem to do anything with competence  :facepalm:

Afghanistan on the other hand doesn't seem so well from my perspective, but then again my country has one of the highest death ratios in the operational theatre, excluding the natives.  Looking forward to the extra USMC reinforcements in Kandahar  :wuv:

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Mongrel

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2008, 10:01:26 PM »

but then again my country has one of the highest death ratios in the operational theatre, excluding the natives.

I think we can mostly attribute that to the fact that we've combined sticking ourselves in harms way with an appalling lack of equipment to back that up. On the bright side, I'd like to think we're doing more good than countries hiding out in the safer provinces with their fingers in their ears. 
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Thad

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2008, 10:29:01 PM »

Meaning, it was written before this whole "Surge" thing I hear so much about. It seemed like it'd be an important consideration, when asserting something is representative of the present that took place prior to a comprehensive change in policy.

The problem with the surge is that it's temporary.  We can't sustain current troop levels indefinitely.

It also bears noting that, in addition to the surge, much of the decrease in sectarian conflict can be chalked up to brutal militia rule and increased sectarian separation.

That's another, albeit less likely at this point, possible outcome of the war: Iraq being split into three nations by sect.

My statement on punishment, as unapologetic as I will be, should be downright offensive as opposed to "patiently".

"Patently", actually.  No "i".

I thank you for your respectful tone on the issue nonetheless.

Dissenting opinions are welcome here.  Thank you for sharing yours in a thoughtful manner.

I only hope that criminal charges get pressed against the original perpetrators, the policy makers as opposed to the executors,

If there were justice in this country, Bush and Cheney would already be impeached.  They'll never face justice for their crimes, and the harshest punishment Bush will ever receive is watching how history judges his actions.

As for "executors", of course it depends on executors of what.  Obviously the ones committing war crimes should be held accountable, but of course we're talking about the average soldier here.

and the friends who profit extraordinarily from things such as school-building, catering and laundry services.  Those "mercenaries" must be brought to account.

We're more likely to see them punished than the Bush Administration, at least.  The Iraqi government's response to Blackwater a few months back is probably the strongest example of them standing up to the US since taking power.

The second is your lose on both cases account.  While I know you understand and respect my reasons to the point where it bears no repeating, the way the political borders within Iraq are drawn up do not make it easy to see a shia absolute majority in the assembly.  At best, the Iraqi government will have to deal with coalition parties.

Well, a majority of the population is Shi'ite, and a massive plurality of the parliament is the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance.  On the whole, the population is a lot friendlier to Iran than to the US.

For all the Bush Administration loves to talk about spreading democracy, it's less than crazy about democratically-elected governments that don't agree with us.  Iran is honestly the most stable democracy in the region, and that's why I say that it's the best case that Iraq can aspire to.  (Tangentially, there's also the administration recently getting into a tizzy about Jimmy Carter speaking to Hamas, the democratically-elected ruling party in Palestine.)

At worst..  Well my country seems to function with a minority parliament and we can't seem to do anything with competence  :facepalm:

Oh, I think that's far from the worst-case.  :nyoro~n:  A two-party system isn't exactly ideal either; ours got us into this mess.

Afghanistan on the other hand doesn't seem so well from my perspective, but then again my country has one of the highest death ratios in the operational theatre, excluding the natives.  Looking forward to the extra USMC reinforcements in Kandahar  :wuv:

The Forgotten War is one more reason I think we need to start pulling the hell out of Iraq.  We abandoned the real fight, and the Afghans, the Iraqis, our troops, your troops, and our safety have all suffered for it.
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Guild

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2008, 11:39:25 PM »

At worst..  Well my country seems to function with a minority parliament and we can't seem to do anything with competence  :facepalm:

Oh, I think that's far from the worst-case.  :nyoro~n:  A two-party system isn't exactly ideal either; ours got us into this mess.

You misspelled "Bush and friends."
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Thad

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2008, 11:57:45 PM »

Bush and friends are in office because Al Gore ran a poor enough campaign in 2000 that Bush ran close enough to steal the election.  Al Gore ran a poor campaign because he spent it trying to make himself look like he was only slightly to the left of Bush, and he did that because that's what you DO in a two-party system.  If two people are playing a game of "pick a number", the first person picks 5 and the second picks 6.  (Tangentially, if the first person picks 10, the second picks 9, which gets into how the Republicans have managed to shift the "center" to the right.)

I don't know what would have happened in 2000 if, say, Nader, Buchanan, and Browne had all been viable candidates.  Maybe Bush STILL would have ended up in the White House.  But if we'd had a more diverse party system in Congress, we would have seen better opposition to the war.

And so, steering this post back on-topic, it bears repeating that the Democrats did not do enough to prevent this war from happening.  They didn't HAVE to -- the GOP is the party of war hawks; in a lesser-evil system the anti-war vote goes to the Democrats no matter WHAT a shitty record they have, because their record is better than the Republicans'.

I saw a Rolling Stone article some months back titled The Chicken Doves which posits that Reid and Pelosi never had any intention of ending the war and have been deliberately ineffective for the past two years just so they could spend this election season saying "See?  See?  Our hands are tied!  We need a supermajority!  Vote in more Democrats!"  Frankly that interpretation is too cynical even for me; I tend toward Hanlon's Razor in situations like this.  But I have to admit it would explain a hell of a lot.

Any way you slice it, "effective" is not a word anyone would use to describe our current two-party Congress.
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Brentai

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2008, 12:26:34 AM »

The Iraqi government's response to Blackwater a few months back is probably the strongest example of them standing up to the US since taking power.

I got this sudden surge of hope when you mentioned the Iraqi government growing a spine and talking back to us, and I think I see now what the endpoint of this war is going to be.  Our troops will leave Iraq when their people manage to organize themselves enough to force us out.  That is literally our goal.  It's a student-overtakes-master sort of thing.

This is obviously a silly idea for a lot of reasons, but I think it's the endpoint that some people are shooting for, and anything that ends the conflict is fine by me.  Write up a timetable for that.  I want our asses kicked by 2010.
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Arc

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2008, 07:12:57 AM »

Taking into account who is bankrolling this little Iraqi excursion, I'm inclined to pull the troops out today. As I was last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. Annnnnnd the year before that.


Any way you slice it, "effective" is not a word anyone would use to describe our current two-party Congress.

A big meme I heard during the 2006 elections was "Vote in Democrats, gridlock is good for the country."
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Thad

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Re: Don't you know there's a war on?
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2008, 01:49:18 PM »

...But we ALREADY had a do-nothing Congress.
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