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Bloggingheads
04-05-2008, 07:11 PM

seyoyo
04-05-2008, 08:44 PM
The argument that the Basra Siege is proof of surge success is extremely circular. The siege couldn't have taken place if the surge had not led to violence reduction thus proving that the surge worked.

How stupid.

graz
04-05-2008, 10:02 PM
It seems that Conn was duly chastened after last weeks performance. He steered clear of talking points. He seemed pained but succeeded to keep his cool and offer his recap of the conservative blogosphere.
He only revealed his fangs when characterizing Obama as continuing to want to have his cake and eat it too, regarding affirmative action - which was out of left field - and permanent bases.
Bill remained evenhanded and pushed the obvious point that a clear distinction needs to be made between transitional and permanent. Conn also seemed to enjoy repeating, a bit too much, in my estimation, the Wright - "God Damn America, Chickens coming home to roost" splice that MyDD served up. I bet he is licking his chops in anticipation of the release of the 527 group hounds poised to sic Obama.

And if Conn seriously anticipates that Obama will have a hard time defending his mocking McCain's "hundred years in Iraq," I guess clutching at straws is in order after all.

Tim O
04-05-2008, 10:46 PM
It's very revealing when Conn says that Obama is giving away the store when he talks about pulling out all troops except for an Embassy Security contingent.

I disagree with Obama's stance on this issue, and agree with Bill that 100 years of presence in Iraq will equal 100 years of war.

But when Conn says "giving away the store", it shows that complete lack of regard for the Iraqi's in the same way the Administration disregards them.

WHOSE "STORE" IS IT?

Is it and oil market that we've claimed for our own? Why do we make all the decisions? Are we supplying the Iraqi's with weapons to defend themselves? Can we trust them with Tanks, Jet's and other heavy weaponry?

We talk about Iraq as if they are children who need not be consulted about their future. The Daddy party wants to adopt another child.

The key measure of success in Iraq would have to be will the Iraqi's hate us when we leave. Have we done right by them in getting rid of Saddam or have we saddled them a worse fate than they had before?

The utter incompetence of Petraeus, who can't even follow his own counter insurgency manual, has left us with no good options.

Bill misses a key point in defending Juan Cole. Professor Cole does not simply read Arabic newspapers; he is an expert in the history, the players and the factions that inhabit the Middle East. To compare Professor Cole with propogandists like Micheal Yon or Instaputz is a joke.

piscivorous
04-05-2008, 11:29 PM
...
Bill misses a key point in defending Juan Cole. Professor Cole does not simply read Arabic newspapers; he is an expert in the history, the players and the factions that inhabit the Middle East. To compare Professor Cole with propogandists like Micheal Yon or Instaputz is a joke.
Not everyone is as enamored of Professor Cole and on a few blogs run by Iraqis or exiled Iraqis he is not too well thought of. Goggle this " Professor cole site:iraqpundit.blogspot.com ". This Iraq exile has very distinct opinions of Professor Cole.

Bill Scher
04-05-2008, 11:46 PM
Thanks Tim O, I did botch the defense of Dr. Cole, so I appreciate you making the proper case. Sorry Juan!

piscivorous
04-05-2008, 11:49 PM
The argument that the Basra Siege is proof of surge success is extremely circular. The siege couldn't have taken place if the surge had not led to violence reduction thus proving that the surge worked.

How stupid.
Here is just another leaf to look at when trying see the forest Analysis: Iraqi PM Wins Rare Support (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/7440606). This article seems to say that the offensive, against the Shiite militias in the south, has had some practicable political effects. So if the results of lessoned inter sect violence so that al-Maliki can now feel comfortable in moving against the Shiite militias, it's stated purpose, perhaps the argument is not as circular as you pretend.

Bloggin' Noggin
04-05-2008, 11:58 PM
Maybe I haven't kept up with everything said by Obama about McCain's 100 years thing, but what I've heard doesn't sound like any giant distortion.
It's true enough that McCain was imagining that Iraq will be hunky dory in a few years and our troops won't be taking casualties for most of those hundred years.
But that supposition doesn't really face up to the question I think he was asked. In the context of a question about how open-ended and absolute our commitment is, I take his answer to mean that it is and should be nearly absolute -- we simply must "win" -- there never will be a point at which we decide that the investment required is too much or that our presence does too little good to justify the cost.
That view is popular with the Bush dead-enders, but not that popular in the country as a whole.
In context, McCain was pretty much saying what it sounds like he was saying, and that isn't popular. I don't see where McCain has been treated so unfairly. I guess I'll have to go look at factcheck.org. I wonder what they said about the snippets taken from the Jeremiah Wright speeches.
I usually like CJR, but Factcheck.org often doesn't seem all that evenhanded to me -- they bought into that whole 'social security crisis' bit and defended Bush's SS proposals back in 2005. They definitely seem to have their own biases.

I'm sorry to see Conn developing the giant chip on the shoulder that seems to be de rigeur among conservatives. At Blogometer he seemed happy if a bit cynical. These days he just seems constantly irritated. Maybe he's irritated with himself -- that he has to gin up all this outrage over Obama's "distortions," when his old Blogometer-self was perfectly aware that "politics ain't beanbag."

piscivorous
04-06-2008, 12:08 AM
here is the actual quote Questioner: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for fifty years…

McCain: Maybe a hundred. Make it one hundred. We’ve been in South Korea, we’ve been in Japan for sixty years. We’ve been in South Korea for fifty years or so. That’d be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. Then it’s fine with me. I would hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day. In that context it will be fine with many if not most Americans.

graz
04-06-2008, 01:28 AM
Pisc:

I realize that you qualified your contention by saying many if not most. But what you can not defend is the case that a permanent Middle Eastern- particularly Iraqi- occupation or residence by U.S. troops will be able to follow the rosy scenario that the Asian models seem to provide.
So having a president that won't presume that Iraqi occupation is the only answer for protecting U.S. citizens, is actually what most Americans have expressed a desire for.

Jyminee
04-06-2008, 01:32 AM
I agree that McCain's quote has been misused by the Dems. But even taking it as he means it--troops for 100 years would be fine if they were not being constantly attacked--it's still misguided and shows little evidence of learning from the events of the last 7 years. Simply put, Arabs do not like it when we station troops in their country. Perhaps this is because of the legacy of the Crusades. Bin Laden said that US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia during Gulf War I are what turned him against America (recall that he was our ally fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan).

As the illustrious Bob Wright has often said, there is a "growing lethality of hatred" in the world--smaller groups of people are able to have increasingly destructive capabilities. Leaving troops in Iraq may inspire the next generation's bin Laden, who could do a lot worse than 9/11.

Wonderment
04-06-2008, 02:44 AM
Thanks for quoting the entire passage, which is especially incoherent when taken in its entirety.

Wonderment
04-06-2008, 03:05 AM
But that supposition doesn't really face up to the question I think he was asked. In the context of a question about how open-ended and absolute our commitment is, I take his answer to mean that it is and should be nearly absolute -- we simply must "win" -- there never will be a point at which we decide that the investment required is too much or that our presence does too little good to justify the cost.

First and foremost, his answer struck me as an expression of unconditional solidarity with Bush's War. Bush said 50 years? Damn right! I'll double that!

Second, it seems to take for granted neo-con dogma regarding US military domination of the planet.

Third, the analogy between Baghdad and Tokyo is so far-fetched that you have to wonder if McCain really has the slightest clue about the Middle East.

Fourth, the statement extends Bushian paranoia and the politics of fear in general. Anytime you need to justify a dubious defense policy of pouring blood and treasure into Iraq, just play the Al Qaeda card.

bjkeefe
04-06-2008, 06:58 AM
pisc:

Do you know anything about this "Iraqpundit?" I see no biographical information on his (or her) blog. In and of itself, I don't know why anyone should assign credibility to an anonymous blogger carping against someone with real credentials.

bjkeefe
04-06-2008, 07:07 AM
graz:

I felt the same as you did about Conn: It was nice to hear him being a little more calm and conveying his old tone of just reporting on the blogosphere. I thought his summary of the rightosphere's attitude about the "biotour" compared to their reaction to the economic policy speech was particularly good. As you also pointed out, this part notably contrasted by his clumsy and repeated efforts to keep the Wright meme alive. I also thought his debating tactic, once he lost his cool, had something of a kitchen sink feel to it -- he seemed to sense he wasn't making much of a case against Obama on the Iraq issue, so he started throwing in all sorts of unrelated points.

Ah, well. I used to like him better, but he does continue to have one use: he's a reliable distillation of whatever is current among right-wing strategies for attacking Obama.

Too bad he's not reading the lefty blogs as much anymore. One of the more interesting topics in the leftosphere is the division between strongly pro-Obama and strongly pro-Clinton blogs, and I would have liked to hear more discussion of that.

piscivorous
04-06-2008, 08:46 AM
You don't like that Iraqis impression of the good Professor Cole they this Lebanese one Professor cole site:beirut2bayside.blogspot.com

piscivorous
04-06-2008, 08:57 AM
Do9 I know that Iraq will progress into a relatively benign place no I don't then again I don't know that it wont or cant. You argument is premised on the assumption the it wont or cant. Why do you believe this to be true rather than the opposite that it can and will.

Bloggin' Noggin
04-06-2008, 09:41 AM
In that context it will be fine with many if not most Americans.

I was going for a slightly broader context. Has McCain ever indicated under what conditions he would withdraw short of "victory"? If things go an as now for 50 years without a reduction in violence, would he still stay? So far the answer appears to be "yes". He is of course welcome to change that impression by being clearer about whether he thinks "winning" in Iraq is worth nearly ANY price.
Until then, his response is essentially an artful evasion which he should be goaded out of by precisely the kind of "distortion" we're talking about. In other words, it is NOT IN THE LEAST UNFAIR to ask the follow-up question, "But what if Iraq doesn't just magically settle down. Would he stay for 50 years or a hundred if it goes for 50 or a hundred years in the state it's in today? What's being called "Obama's distortion" is essentially a matter of calling McCain on his evasion.

bjkeefe
04-06-2008, 09:56 AM
You don't like that Iraqis impression of the good Professor Cole they this Lebanese one Professor cole site:beirut2bayside.blogspot.com

I'll give this guy (Tony Bey) a little more credibility than your last offering -- at least he's not anonymous and he does list his pertinent affiliation.

However, this affiliation is with an organization that several other organizations and media outlets (including some conservative ones) say (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_for_Defense_of_Democracies#Criticism) is just another neocon spin tank with a hawkish and decidedly pro-Israel point of view. That's not necessarily a deal-breaker -- it just says he has a different point of view.

On the other hand, the neocon worldview hasn't made much of a useful contribution, and being a "research fellow" at a "think tank" is not, in and of itself, much of a credential. I don't see anything published anywhere by Bey other than on his own blog.

To the extent that I've looked at his criticism (http://beirut2bayside.blogspot.com/search?q=juan+cole) of Cole, it seems to consist mostly of empty insults. Where he does engage Cole on the merits, it seems like nit-picking. His entire argument seems to boil down to "I don't agree with Juan Cole, therefore he's stupid."

I'm not trying to say Juan Cole is infallible. I don't always agree with his take on things, and I often find him obviously one-sided. But to try to undermine his credibility by pointing to a couple of carping bloggers seems pretty weak.

piscivorous
04-06-2008, 10:09 AM
I'll give this guy (Tony Bey) a little more credibility than your last offering -- at least he's not anonymous and he does list his pertinent affiliation.

However, this affiliation is with an organization that several other organizations and media outlets (including some conservative ones) say (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_for_Defense_of_Democracies#Criticism) is just another neocon spin tank with a hawkish and decidedly pro-Israel point of view. That's not necessarily a deal-breaker -- it just says he has a different point of view.

On the other hand, the neocon worldview hasn't made much of a useful contribution, and being a "research fellow" at a "think tank" is not, in and of itself, much of a credential. I don't see anything published anywhere by Bey other than on his own blog.

To the extent that I've looked at his criticism (http://beirut2bayside.blogspot.com/search?q=juan+cole) of Cole, it seems to consist mostly of empty insults. Where he does engage Cole on the merits, it seems like nit-picking. His entire argument seems to boil down to "I don't agree with Juan Cole, therefore he's stupid."

I'm not trying to say Juan Cole is infallible. I don't always agree with his take on things, and I often find him obviously one-sided. But to try to undermine his credibility by pointing to a couple of carping bloggers seems pretty weak.

Once again the strength of your arguments overwhelm me.

Bloggin' Noggin
04-06-2008, 10:10 AM
Do9 I know that Iraq will progress into a relatively benign place no I don't then again I don't know that it wont or cant. You argument is premised on the assumption the it wont or cant. Why do you believe this to be true rather than the opposite that it can and will.

I don't think this is true. The premise is only that things MAY NOT work out as McCain and you would like to imagine. McCain has given no indication that he would limit his commitment in any way if things don't work out as he expects (or fervently hopes). If he were to say, "give me two or three years, and if things are not hugely better in Iraq by the next election -- clearly on the path to a South Korea style deployment -- THEN I'll withdraw, then PERHAPS he could get the American people behind him. Perhaps, though, we've been through enough "Friedman Unit" extensions that not enough people would trust even this commitment. But as far as I'm aware, McCain hasn't given any indication of what kind of limitation he would put on his commitment to spend "blood and treasure" in Iraq. Without some clear limitation, it's reasonable to assume that he puts very few limits on it -- that he will stay for 100 years of peace or 100 years of violence. This is not a politically tenable position, and he shouldn't be allowed to get away without making the extent of his commitment clear BEFORE THE ELECTION.

piscivorous
04-06-2008, 10:23 AM
So we should tell everybody in the world what criteria of violence they need to maintain and for how long they need to maintain it for in order to get us too leave. While I might like to know the specifics of this myself; I don't think there is any way for Senator McCain to get this message to you or I without conveying it to our enemies as well. I think that you, I and the rest of the world will have to settle for generalities and from Senator McCain, and for that matter the eventual Democratic candidate given what their surrogates are letting slip below the folds.

bjkeefe
04-06-2008, 10:37 AM
Once again the strength of your arguments overwhelm me.

Evidently. Thank you for acknowledging that, though.

piscivorous
04-06-2008, 10:52 AM
Oh your quite welcome.

graz
04-06-2008, 11:50 AM
[QUOTE=Bloggin' Noggin; This is not a politically tenable position, and he shouldn't be allowed to get away without making the extent of his commitment clear BEFORE THE ELECTION.[/QUOTE]

What is amazing, given his appearances these last two weeks, his strategists have made it clear that resting on the laurels of his biography is enough. This is just another extension of the G.W. Bush approach of expecting us to simply accept our leaders to do what's best for us. The less you know the better-but do trust us. Because "Father knows best." In this case we have McCain as "Robert Young" and Cindy as "Jane Wyatt."

graz
04-06-2008, 12:12 PM
But of course the rebuttal to the demand for a concise answer about the depth and length of stay will be along the lines provided by pisc:

To offer that information will simply embolden the terrorists.

Followed by a volley of: As opposed to your cut and run, surrender monkey proposals.

Touche!

Say it ain't so?

lamoose
04-06-2008, 01:01 PM
Conn only briefly referred to this, but I think it's something that needs a real probing. In an offhand remark, he said that he saw Sadr as an "Iranian puppet". Later, he seemed to elaborate on this by pointing out that Sadr was in Qom, not Basra. This line of thinking--that Sadr is an Iranian agent--appears to be very popular in the world of conservative punditry. However, from what I understand, it's a deceptive argument, and one that is based on a surprisingly simplistic interpretation of the internal dynamics of Iraq.

Iran has long had strong ties with many groups that are now vying for power in Iraq; Sadr is not unique for his Iranian relationships. In fact, from what I understand, what makes Sadr unique is his Iraqi nationalism and relative disdain for foreign interference. For instance, his father earned great respect for not fleeing to Iran when so many other Iraqi Shi'ite leaders did. For that, he paid with his life, most likely (well, definitely) on the orders of Saddam.

However, it's simply more convenient to argue that Sadr=Iran=evil, and therefore it's easy to prove to glory and righteousness of Maliki's offensive in Basra. I suspect that in many cases (Conn's) it's more intellectual laziness, or partisan fervor, rather than a deliberate attempt to deceive. It's a satisfyingly simple way to sort out a complicated situation.

On the other hand, I don't see any evidence that it's true.

graz
04-06-2008, 01:16 PM
lamoose:

That's right, as in the right has an uncanny knack for distilling and simplifying for the benefit of votes or support. It really doesn't matter if the aim is disingenuous or lazy thinking- it's all about the message- make it simple keep it clear. You remember the refrains- He gassed his own people, WMD's etc...

Facts are messy and somehow besides the point. Ask Goldfarb, if you simply do not want to accept the reality, just stick to whatever suits your presumptive case best.

lamoose
04-06-2008, 01:28 PM
So we should tell everybody in the world what criteria of violence they need to maintain and for how long they need to maintain it for in order to get us too leave. While I might like to know the specifics of this myself; I don't think there is any way for Senator McCain to get this message to you or I without conveying it to our enemies as well.
I believe this line of thinking, in the context of the current struggle against Islamic extremism, is deeply flawed.

In a conflict such as World War II, of course it would have been a disaster if Eisenhower had told the New York Times that we were going to give Hitler hell for two years, and then we'll have to withdraw. However, that's not exactly the situation we're in today.

The terrorists/insurgents are not unified, they do not pose us an existential threat, they do not control significant territory, they do not have a military/industrial apparatus that can challenge our overwhelming conventional power... They are a bunch of criminals operating on a shoestring budget and posting on Jihad message boards. And they should be treated like it!

However, a lot of people these days seem to gravely warn against "emboldening" these misfits, about losing a propaganda battle. However, NEWS FLASH: WE'RE ALREADY LOSING THE PROPAGANDA BATTLE. I would argue that occupying an oil-rich Arab country is kind of a negative for us, at least as bad as admitting that the Iraq adventure was a mistake and isn't worth the boatloads of blood and treasure we're dumping into it.

The key, however, is not what it would say to the fools in the caves of Pakistan, but what it would say to the world's billion Muslims. I'd guess that most of them, um, disagree with our policy in Iraq, and I believe they would be heartened by a change in course.

I'm not sure a date-certain for withdrawal is necessary, but in my mind the announcement of a sustained and deliberate withdrawal would be a good step. Would things change? Would the tactics of insurgents/AQI/Iranian agents adjust? Of course they would, probably in unpredictable ways. However, I don't see how this is avoidable. And more importantly, I don't see how delaying the inevitable serves any strategic end for the United States of America.

AemJeff
04-06-2008, 02:08 PM
I believe this line of thinking, in the context of the current struggle against Islamic extremism, is deeply flawed.

It doesn't even qualify as an argument, at least not a serious one. It's really just a confused misinterpretation of the original argument - which refers to avoiding specific dates as benchmarks. That is, we probably shouldn't say we're going to leave in July, or whatever. Strategic benchmarks present a much more difficult problem to solve in terms of designing a response.

piscivorous
04-06-2008, 03:01 PM
I believe this line of thinking, in the context of the current struggle against Islamic extremism, is deeply flawed. I have no doubt that you find this reasoning “deeply flawed” just as I find the idea that it will benefit the U.S., the west or the Middle East if we withdraw before having established enough stability and balance of power, in the region “deeply flawed”. There is merit to a meaningful discussion as to what constitutes just such a state and what is a reasonable time frame for achieving this state, based on the realities of the ground and not on the desired wims and whishes of an essentially uninformed, undereducated and fickle public (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi3erdgVVTw). At this point in time, and for the immediate future, I believe that this is the more likely outcome if we withdrawal too soon or too quickly.

In a conflict such as World War II, of course it would have been a disaster if Eisenhower had told the New York Times that we were going to give Hitler hell for two years, and then we'll have to withdraw. However, that's not exactly the situation we're in today.

The terrorists/insurgents are not unified, they do not pose us an existential threat, they do not control significant territory, they do not have a military/industrial apparatus that can challenge our overwhelming conventional power... They are a bunch of criminals operating on a shoestring budget and posting on Jihad message boards. And they should be treated like it! I agree that the threat the world faces today is not the same threat that it faced in WWII. We are not faced with an enemy that can design and manufacture the weaponry that makes them an immediate existential threat; of course Germany was no immediate existential threat to the US in 1941 either. It was the Japanese that poised any immediate threat to the continental US and yet President Roosevelt chose to place the main emphasis of our fight in Europe against the Germans, instead of concentrating on the Country that had directly attacked us and provided the most likely threat to American soil. Even with their inability to design and manufacture the weaponry that would make them an immediate existential threat in today’s world that is not a limiting factor; it is only the possession of and the willingness to use such tools that matters, not so much the source of the origin of these tools.

However, a lot of people these days seem to gravely warn against "emboldening" these misfits, about losing a propaganda battle. However, NEWS FLASH: WE'RE ALREADY LOSING THE PROPAGANDA BATTLE. I would argue that occupying an oil-rich Arab country is kind of a negative for us, at least as bad as admitting that the Iraq adventure was a mistake and isn't worth the boatloads of blood and treasure we're dumping into it.

The key, however, is not what it would say to the fools in the caves of Pakistan, but what it would say to the world's billion Muslims. I'd guess that most of them, um, disagree with our policy in Iraq, and I believe they would be heartened by a change in course. It is not in doubt that on a day to day /week to week basis we are losing the propaganda war but I’m not so sure tat that is true for longer periods of time; as demonstrated by the facts now on the ground in Al-Anbar. It seems that the citizenry there has been able to see through the propaganda to the truth of the Islamist fanatics and have now definitively spoken.

I'm not sure a date-certain for withdrawal is necessary, but in my mind the announcement of a sustained and deliberate withdrawal would be a good step. Would things change? Would the tactics of insurgents/AQI/Iranian agents adjust? Of course they would, probably in unpredictable ways. However, I don't see how this is avoidable. And more importantly, I don't see how delaying the inevitable serves any strategic end for the United States of America.

look
04-06-2008, 05:55 PM
Conn only briefly referred to this, but I think it's something that needs a real probing. In an offhand remark, he said that he saw Sadr as an "Iranian puppet". Later, he seemed to elaborate on this by pointing out that Sadr was in Qom, not Basra. This line of thinking--that Sadr is an Iranian agent--appears to be very popular in the world of conservative punditry. However, from what I understand, it's a deceptive argument, and one that is based on a surprisingly simplistic interpretation of the internal dynamics of Iraq.

Iran has long had strong ties with many groups that are now vying for power in Iraq; Sadr is not unique for his Iranian relationships. In fact, from what I understand, what makes Sadr unique is his Iraqi nationalism and relative disdain for foreign interference. For instance, his father earned great respect for not fleeing to Iran when so many other Iraqi Shi'ite leaders did. For that, he paid with his life, most likely (well, definitely) on the orders of Saddam.

***

On the other hand, I don't see any evidence that it's true.

lamoose, here is an interesting article from the Jamestown Foundation:

Amidst the factional conflict, Iran’s strategy has remained clear—to remain out of the fighting so all Shiite factions can seek the support of Tehran for their particular political interests. By staying out of the conflict, Iran also plays the role of a big brother whose absence offers consent to the Maliki government to weed out the splinter groups of the Mahdi Army while keeping Moqtada and his militia close to Tehran as a potential ally in case of a U.S. attack on Iran. Tehran’s objective is to see the Sadrist movement weakened through military operations, but help keep it strong enough to potentially serve as an asset for Iranian interests in Iraq.

Secondly, the Basra fighting may in fact enhance the military prestige of the Mahdi Army among the urban poor and certain tribal regions. As a nationalist, Moqtada can strategically use the Basra affair to bolster his leadership credentials and emerge stronger than before as an anti-occupation leader whose appeal may transcend beyond the Shiite community. But the most problematic feature of this military operation is how the recent events have in fact reduced the opportunity for the Sadrists to become a fully legitimate political movement with non-violent operational activities. The most problematic aspect of the recent fighting is the possible reversal of the five-year process that saw the gradual incorporation of Moqtada and his followers into mainstream Iraqi politics.

The Maliki government may jeopardize its authority by comparing the Sadrists to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda as a justification for its military attacks (al-Hayat, March 28). Insurgent groups like al-Qaeda lack the grass-roots support and the political will to engage with the Iraqi government. The Sadrists, however, are a genuine political organization, though with a sizable militia force. It is through political negotiation that the movement’s military wing can be tamed and possibly eliminated in the due course of time. A military effort without a political purpose will only strengthen the movement as an anti-occupation and anti-establishment force. In fact, any attempt to marginalize the Sadrists will only lead to greater competition between the Shiite groups. As recent events demonstrate, the Basra fighting marks a political awakening that can only lead to increased factionalism and uncertainty for a state still in the making.

Jamestown Foundation (http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2374071)

I do think al-Sadr's presence in Iran is significant. His claim to fame is being anti-Iranian domination, pro-Iraqi nationalism, yet he retires to Iran, where, if he is a problem he could be easily assassinated. I just don't think things are that cut and dried with regard to al-Sadr's position, and he's the one that may be being played.

johnmarzan
04-07-2008, 04:30 AM
He's... talking about his family going all the way back to George Washington, you know, served on George Washington's staff.... He's got an airbase named after him. And he's establishing this, like, almost royal pedigree, and, you know, this is not a country built on royalty. We're a country about, you know, not caring what your parents did. We're a country about, you know, what do you, what did you do, you know, how have you built your story. And it just was very, you know, not very American to go out there and say I've got this long, royal lineage that you all should respect, you know, please vote for me, as opposed to Barack Obama's message of, you know, I created my own identity out of the American image and, you know, I am you, let's go forward. It's, it's grating on many conservative ears.

the McCains have a lifetime of service under their belts. from grampa admiral, to dad, to sen. mccain, to his sons. i don't think the mccains are royalty.

and while obama is not a rags-to-riches kind of guy, he did create his own identity that is very marketable.

Simply put, Arabs do not like it when we station troops in their country.

What about kuwait?

johnmarzan
04-07-2008, 04:39 AM
re the "100 year war" comment, it's clear if you watch the video of mccain, he was referring to situations similar to Germany, Japan, Korea, Kuwait.

Now you may agree or disagree with him on US bases in Iraq, but for barack to claim that Mccain said that we may have fight the war in iraq for a hundred years is a serious distortion of mccain's words.

lamoose
04-07-2008, 12:13 PM
I have no doubt that you find this reasoning “deeply flawed” just as I find the idea that it will benefit the U.S., the west or the Middle East if we withdraw before having established enough stability and balance of power, in the region “deeply flawed”. There is merit to a meaningful discussion as to what constitutes just such a state and what is a reasonable time frame for achieving this state, based on the realities of the ground and not on the desired wims and whishes of an essentially uninformed, undereducated and fickle public. At this point in time, and for the immediate future, I believe that this is the more likely outcome if we withdrawal too soon or too quickly.
We can have an argument about the greater question of withdrawal (we do disagree), but I was criticizing your specific line of argument. You were suggesting that informing our enemies of our intentions would be unwise. I think that, in a vacuum, or in the case of a war like WWII, this would make sense. However, our fight against Islamic extremism does not take place in a vacuum, and I believe other considerations outweigh the risk of telegraphing our intentions.

Perhaps I could move the discussion along by asking what you think the "enemy" would do if we announced a steady and irreversible withdrawal? I don't doubt that there will be horror, but I'm not sure
I agree that the threat the world faces today is not the same threat that it faced in WWII. We are not faced with an enemy that can design and manufacture the weaponry that makes them an immediate existential threat; of course Germany was no immediate existential threat to the US in 1941 either. It was the Japanese that poised any immediate threat to the continental US and yet President Roosevelt chose to place the main emphasis of our fight in Europe against the Germans, instead of concentrating on the Country that had directly attacked us and provided the most likely threat to American soil. Even with their inability to design and manufacture the weaponry that would make them an immediate existential threat in today’s world that is not a limiting factor; it is only the possession of and the willingness to use such tools that matters, not so much the source of the origin of these tools.
Are you saying that they're dangerous? Or that Islamic extremism does, in fact, pose an "immediate existential threat" ("immediate" was your insertion, btw...) on an order similar to that posed by the Axis powers?
It is not in doubt that on a day to day /week to week basis we are losing the propaganda war but I’m not so sure tat that is true for longer periods of time; as demonstrated by the facts now on the ground in Al-Anbar. It seems that the citizenry there has been able to see through the propaganda to the truth of the Islamist fanatics and have now definitively spoken.
I don't understand how you see the "awakening" in Al-Anbar as a propaganda victory. There was no AQI there before the Iraq War, and the reason is that those people were not and are not fanatics. When AQI moved in, they saw us as temporarily a lesser threat than AQI, and were happy to accept our money, guns and air power to defeat them. But it's not as if they're buying in to our long-term goals of a unified democratic Iraq. And many of them have said quite explicitly that as soon as they're done with AQI, they will turn their guns back on the "occupiers" (that's us) and the Persians (that's the Iraqi government).

If our counterterrorism strategy consisted of invading Arab lands and attracting foreign extremists to demonstrate to the local populace how unsavory these murderers are, thus inducing them to beg for our help, then Anbar was an excellent model.

lamoose
04-07-2008, 12:19 PM
I don't doubt that Sadr has Iranian ties. However, I think it's just wrong to singularly implicate him as an Iranian puppet in diametric opposition to Dawa, ISCI, etc. And of course, there's a reason to singularly implicate him, and that's what I was responding to.

Basically, I think we're going to have to live with an Iraq that is subject to extensive Iranian meddling one way or the other, and pretending that Maliki isn't close to Tehran is not helpful.

I thought that Jamestown piece was really good... Usually not a fan of their stuff.

piscivorous
04-07-2008, 02:12 PM
We can have an argument about the greater question of withdrawal (we do disagree), but I was criticizing your specific line of argument. You were suggesting that informing our enemies of our intentions would be unwise. I think that, in a vacuum, or in the case of a war like WWII, this would make sense. However, our fight against Islamic extremism does not take place in a vacuum, and I believe other considerations outweigh the risk of telegraphing our intentions. That is a judgment call, and to argue back and forth would be fruitless but no war, as of yet, has taken place in a vacuum. Roosevelt could have passed on Germany or cut a deal but he didn't. He saw them as a threat that needed to be dealt with and took the opportunity, presented to him, to do so. Perhaps I could move the discussion along by asking what you think the "enemy" would do if we announced a steady and irreversible withdrawal? I don't doubt that there will be horror, but I'm not sure

Are you saying that they're dangerous? Or that Islamic extremism does, in fact, pose an "immediate existential threat" ("immediate" was your insertion, btw...) on an order similar to that posed by the Axis powers?They have proved they are dangerous, I guess your real question is how dangerous do I believe them to be. I believe them to be as dangerous as the weapons system or device they can beg borrow or steal. Immediate was a deliberate addition to highlight the difference between Japan and Germany. One having attacked and destroyed a good deal of of military strength in the Pacific theater while the other had sink a few boats in the Gulf and Atlantic. Was Germany an "existential threat"? Yes sometime in the future but immediate not really.

I don't understand how you see the "awakening" in Al-Anbar as a propaganda victory. There was no AQI there before the Iraq War, and the reason is that those people were not and are not fanatics. When AQI moved in, they saw us as temporarily a lesser threat than AQI,and were happy to accept our money, guns and air power to defeat them. But it's not as if they're buying in to our long-term goals of a unified democratic Iraq. And many of them have said quite explicitly that as soon as they're done with AQI, they will turn their guns back on the "occupiers" (that's us) and the Persians (that's the Iraqi government).

If our counterterrorism strategy consisted of invading Arab lands and attracting foreign extremists to demonstrate to the local populace how unsavory these murderers are, thus inducing them to beg for our help, then Anbar was an excellent model.

I guess thats the PC euphemism for gee I would rather take some cash and be allowed to defend myself from the people that will cut my head off if I offend them." I don't think I really blame them. But it looks like the AQI method of insurgency has proved to be considerably less popular, with the local residents, than the methods of counter insurgency that we are currently employing. And thanks to our removing Saddam even the Iraqi now have cell phones to call their distant relatives and friends to inform tell them just how loving their AQI benefactors have been and how they should open up their own arms and let the nice AQI people in. But I can see that you might not be able to see the propaganda value of that, as it doesn't make for big splashy headlines like you know anther AQI propaganda victory like a truck bomb that kills another 20 or so innocent victims.

I glad you had the wherewithal to use the word many, where others on this BB would have used all, in this statement "And many of them have said quite explicitly that as soon as they're done with AQI, they will turn their guns back on the "occupiers" (that's us) and the Persians (that's the Iraqi government)" as it gives is some air of creditability. Many means more than three right? If you could be somewhat more specific, or better yet provide a source for your statement of fact, it would not only strengthen your argument it would provide me with a learning opportunity.

lamoose
04-08-2008, 08:40 AM
In response to your questions about where I get my crazy ideas, I recommend this piece (http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=sunni_world) from Professor Marc Lynch.

A few excerpts:
The Sunni turn against al-Qaeda had very little to do with American diplomacy or military efforts, and far more to do with local power struggles and preparations for the widely-expected coming war with the Shia. The origins of this shift in Sunni politics date back to last year's attempt by al-Qaeda in Iraq to impose its hegemony over the Sunni insurgency and to establish physical and political control in a variety of locales.

Al-Qaeda's attacks on Iraqi Shia had always been controversial among the insurgency's factions, many of which preferred to keep a tight focus on attacking American forces and Iraqi government personnel. Al-Qaeda made many enemies with its grandiose rhetoric, attacks on local political figures, attempts to enforce Islamic morality, and decisions to muscle in on tribal smuggling routes. When it declared the "Islamic State of Iraq" as an umbrella for the insurgent groups, the major "nationalist" factions which make up the overwhelming majority of the insurgency decided they had seen enough. The Islamic Army of Iraq released the first public denunciation, other factions followed suit, and nasty fighting (both verbal and military) ensued. The root of the conflict was a struggle for power within the Sunni community -- not attitudes towards the United States or even the central Iraqi government. The turn against al-Qaeda did not mean abandoning the insurgency, even if some of the groups are willing to use American support for their current tactical needs.

...

There is absolutely nothing in current Sunni discourse to suggest that any sort of "bottom up reconciliation" with the Shia is taking place or that the tactical cooperation with American forces against al-Qaeda is producing any kind of meaningful integration into the Iraqi state. Far more common is the need to prepare for future conflict with the Shia and, increasingly, the Kurds (see Kirkuk and Mosul). Resentment over the sectarian 'cleansing' of Baghdad runs exceptionally high, and few Sunnis seem prepared to accept any political settlement which does not include their return to Baghdad -- something that the Shia militias (which continue to dominate the Iraqi Police) seem rather unlikely to accept.

Finally, the alliance of convenience with American forces has not translated into support for the United States at the mass level. A public opinion survey conducted last month -- well into the surge -- found that only 1 percent of Sunnis say they have confidence in American forces and only 1 percent of Sunnis support the American presence in Iraq. Rather, 72 percent of Sunnis say that the US forces should leave immediately, 95 percent say that the presence of U.S. troops makes security worse, and 93 percent still see attacks on coalition forces as acceptable. Such results should make obvious the vacuity of claims that the turn against al-Qaeda was a victory for American diplomacy.

These Iraqi views throw into sharp relief the point I made in early August that the American strategy of empowering Sunnis at the local level actually worked against the goal of strengthening the national Iraqi state. This contradiction emerged as a key theme in this week's congressional hearings, and forced the president's team to concoct a gerry-rigged strategic argument linking the developments at the local and national levels. But these scenarios are almost impossibly utopian and astonishingly divorced from the messy realities of politics. The idea that the current strategy will produce bottom-up reconciliation, develop a political constituency for moderation, and push political development on the national level is deeply misleading. Does anybody really believe that handing these angry young Sunnis jobs in a police force dominated by the most sectarian Shia militias will give them a stake in the current political system?

Now, I'll admit that this is 6 months old, but I don't see any evidence that there has been significant movement on these issues.

piscivorous
04-09-2008, 01:52 AM
In response to your questions about where I get my crazy ideas, I recommend this piece (http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=sunni_world) from Professor Marc Lynch.

A few excerpts:


...



Now, I'll admit that this is 6 months old, but I don't see any evidence that there has been significant movement on these issues.While I don't believe that I have ever referred to your comments as crazy; I must admit that I find myself thoughts converging towards your self assessment if you are trying to present the self proclaimed http://www.prospect.org/cs/about_tap/our_mission... (http://www.prospect.org/cs/about_tap/our_mission) as anything like an impartial observer of the facts on the ground in Iraq. Nor do I expect anyone that spends too much time reading such a one sided publication ever to see any evidence which might be contradictory towards TAP's particular slant.

lamoose
04-09-2008, 08:45 AM
I must admit that I find myself thoughts converging towards your self assessment if you are trying to present the self proclaimed http://www.prospect.org/cs/about_tap/our_mission... as anything like an impartial observer of the facts on the ground in Iraq.

What a clumsy way to call me daft!

I know what TAP is and where it stands ideologically, but I also know the author of this piece. Marc Lynch is a professor of political science at George Washington University and an expert in Arab media and public opinion, Islamist movements, constructivism in international relations, and public diplomacy. He's not exactly Michael Moore.

Besides, I'm not sure where I'm going to find an "impartial observer of the facts on the ground in Iraq". Can you refer me to this source?

I read a variety of reporting on Iraq, and this article was just the most comprehensive one I found in a quick Google search. I apologize if it is not up to your standards.

Bloggin' Noggin
04-09-2008, 10:36 AM
Here (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2008/01/a-hundred-years.html) via TPM is Hendrik Hertzberg's description of the entire context of the McCain remark that we see in the Youtube clip.

And here is his conclusion:
You have to hand it to McCain. It's impossible to imagine any of the other Republicans engaging in this kind of extended conversation with a citizen. There was more real debate in this exchange than in any of the so-called real debates.

But what the context shows, I think, is that yanking that sound bite out of context isn’t really all that unfair. McCain's wants to stay in Iraq until no more Americans are getting killed, no matter how long it takes and how many Americans get killed achieving that goal—that is, the goal of not getting any more Americans killed. And once that goal is achieved, we'll stay.



For all their talk of the context of McCain's remarks, it seems that CJR and Factcheck.org didn't go beyond the context excerpted by the Youtube clip. I'm afraid I often feel that Factcheck.org makes this kind of mistake -- a far too narrow focus on a cubic millimeter of one tree completely obliterates the forest and this distorted perspective generates a wild accusation of distortion.

lamoose
04-10-2008, 11:48 AM
Just came across this piece (http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0410/p01s05-wome.html) from Sam Dagher in the CS Monitor today. Title is "In Iraq, Sunni Insurgents Still Aim To Oust U.S., Shiites".

piscivorous
04-10-2008, 12:28 PM
So an interview with the mouthpiece of the IAI which according to TIME magazine (http://regimeofterror.com/archives/domestic_terrorism/)TIME magazine interview with Abu Mohammed: Saddam loyalists "threw in their lot" with Zarqawi post-invasion

TIME magazine recently posted an interview with native Iraqi Abu Mohammed reflecting on a number of things related to Saddam Hussein's death including the effect that Hussein and his Baath regime had on the country of Iraq and Hussein's followers joining up with Abu Musab al Zarqawi after Hussein had been captured. (A confession also made in TIME magazine earlier this year by Hussein's former right-hand man Izzat al Douri.)

Even the remnants of his (Hussein's) old regime, which had morphed into the Sunni insurgency, seemed to lose their fervor for Saddam (after his capture). Some Ba'athist groups kept up the charade that they were fighting to restore the dictator to his palace, but others quickly stopped referring to him at all and instead recast themselves as "the nationalist resistance" or as "mujahedin," or holy warriors. Many threw in their lot with the new ogre on the scene, Al-Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The secular Baath party, long been said to be completely incompatible with extremist groups such as al Qaeda, has repeatedly been pinpointed as al Qaeda's main ally in post-invasion Iraq, even to the point of following al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi after Saddam Hussein had been captured.

It's worth asking when and how these networks and relationships began, though it's a question rarely asked in mainstream media circles.

Hamza went on to confirm his knowledge of the former Baathists extensive hand in the post-invasion violence and terror.

One afternoon last October, I watched the televised Saddam trial in the company of Abu Hamza, a field commander of Jaish al-Islami. Iraq's largest insurgent group, Jaish al-Islami is made up mainly of Ba'athists and soldiers from Saddam's army. Abu Hamza had been an officer in Saddam's elite Republican Guard; in previous meetings, he had spoken reverentially about the dictator, describing him as a man who exuded power and gravitas.

Jaish al-Islami, aka the Islamic Army of Iraq, is linked to al Qaeda in Iraq in the world of anti-coalition forces operating inside Iraq and as the "largest insurgent group" has obviously done quite a bit to prevent Iraq's elected government from stabilizing the country. I am not trying to say everyone is happy about us being in their country, it is obvious that would be unsupportable, but I far left associate Professor and an AQI surrogate?

graz
04-10-2008, 12:57 PM
Here (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2008/01/a-hundred-years.html) via TPM is Hendrik Hertzberg's description of the entire context of the McCain remark that we see in the Youtube clip.

And here is his conclusion:


For all their talk of the context of McCain's remarks, it seems that CJR and Factcheck.org didn't go beyond the context excerpted by the Youtube clip. I'm afraid I often feel that Factcheck.org makes this kind of mistake -- a far too narrow focus on a cubic millimeter of one tree completely obliterates the forest and this distorted perspective generates a wild accusation of distortion.

Notwithstanding the argument about fairness in attributing the 100 year tag to Jomh McCain, what about his stated policy goals for Iraq?

His case, along with the "surge is working" meme begs clarification. My understanding of the position is that it must include a perpetual presence in Iraq. Granted, the presence can hypothetically range from a limited cost-free occupation (fat chance) to an unending vigilance that includes loss of lives, treasure and the failed neo-con ideal of promoting democracy by provoking subservience by force and paying off our would be enemy combatants. It is worse than a "catch-22," if the Petraeus/Crocker testimony is to be applied as an indication of the policy forward. It's an Orwellian nightmare that we need to awaken from. I think it is as simple as G.W. said in regard to terrorism: Your either with us; unconditional support for an indefensible strategy that is continuing to fail.
Or against us; which would include all candidates and citizens that wish to move towards an endpoint.

lamoose
04-10-2008, 01:42 PM
Man, this is exhausting.

First of all, I just read this CSM piece this morning and thought it would be relevant. I read the article, remembered our discussion, and posted it. Period. Never said that this proved anything, or that the two links I've provided somehow constitute my entire argument.

I suppose I could put in significant effort to compile a list of links and references. However, I'm pretty sure that would result in a corresponding list from you, explaining why those links and references aren't good enough. While you may enjoy this game, I do not. I don't feel as though I'm trying to trick anyone with the sources I'm using, but rather posting articles from respected sources with what I see as useful insights. If you don't want to engage their arguments, that's fine with me.

Now, to respond directly to this:
I am not trying to say everyone is happy about us being in their country, it is obvious that would be unsupportable, but I far left associate Professor
"Far left"? I don't know how much Marc Lynch you've read, but I can't imagine it's very much if you're calling him "far left".

Is criticism of US policy in Iraq "far left"?

Is he "far left" because his article appeared in the American Prospect? What if the article was in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, or the Christian Science Monitor, or the New York Times, or he was speaking on NPR? Because his work has appeared in all those places...

You really should check out his blog, Abu Aardvark (http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/). Lynch doesn't have as many pictures as Totten, but he does have some interesting views on a wide variety of Arab world-related topics. He reads Arabic, has spent a lot of time in the region, it's his job to know what he's talking about, etc.
and an AQI surrogate?
By your definition, I'd guess that most of the Sons of Iraq would qualify as "AQI surrogates". Wasn't the "awakening" a dramatic reversal of the Sunni insurgency, shifting from supporting AQI to fighting AQI? Does this guy not count in that formulation?

How, pray tell, do you know who to trust in Anbar? When I read articles quoting Sunni ex-insurgents/insurgents in the newspaper, when can I believe them? If IAI equals AQI, then what about other Sunni groups? Honestly, I'd love to know which of these people you trust and why. This seems important.

piscivorous
04-10-2008, 07:27 PM
If you have got an hour this is a pretty good discussion A Conversation With John Burns and Dexter Filkins (http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2008/04/09/1/a-conversation-with-john-burns-and-dexter-filkins)

bjkeefe
04-10-2008, 09:07 PM
If you have got an hour this is a pretty good discussion A Conversation With John Burns and Dexter Filkins (http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2008/04/09/1/a-conversation-with-john-burns-and-dexter-filkins)

Thanks, Pisc. You're right: that was good.

bjkeefe
04-10-2008, 11:40 PM
Video follow-up on TPM: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/188337.php

Be sure to follow the link within the post -- TPMer David Kurtz had a more positive reaction to the video than some TPM readers did.

I'd say I fall somewhere in between. For a while, I thought the entire conversation was too rosy, basically because it was falling into the trap of comparing things as they are now with how things were at their worst. That is, sure, we're probably not at the bottom of the hole anymore, but we're still a long way from climbing out, and it's a mistake to forget that. Toward the end, though, Filkins especially injected a little more realism and caution, and I was left with the feeling that he sees the situation as having some signs of hope, but absolutely still needing about the same amount of US troops for years yet.