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Bloggingheads
05-25-2008, 11:46 PM

pod2
05-26-2008, 12:06 AM
Simon's worries about arming one faction of an anti-central-govt force are fairly damning. How can this kind of activity not increase the probability of a civil war? In conversations that I've had with officers who have been through tours of duty in the Baghdad and Anbar areas, there is a lot of pessimism and disgust in the policy of basically arming and funding terrorists who had an unbelievable amount of American blood on their hands.

The policies of arming these factions stands in fairly impressive contrast to Bush and McCain's anti-appeasement rhetoric. Under this plan, US forces are not only appeasing terrorist factions, they are actively funding and arming terrorist factions. Is there an argument that these factions have not participated in, planned, and carried out operations that killed US troops?

If it is widely agreed that these factions are terrorist and are directly responsible for US KIA, why is it acceptable within pro-Bush, anti-appeasement partisans to arm and fund these factions? The contradictions are extreme and devastating.

pod2
05-26-2008, 12:14 AM
Are Simon's figures correct? Is it true that 2 million Sunnis are refugees that have been cleansed from Iraq? That 1 million are internally displaced? These kind of atrocities trump three- or four-fold the crimes of Milosevic's brutal Kosovan campaign. Ethnic cleansing on this scale is genocidal, by the State Dept's own standards. How can Frum dismiss this? It seems beyond the pale.

pod2
05-26-2008, 12:25 AM
From Simon's FA article:

"On December 13, 2006, Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon to persuade them to allocate more troops to Iraq. It was not an easy sell. U.S. ground forces are not configured to fight such a long war, and the repeated deployment of the same active-duty and Reserve units had taken a toll. The reenlistment rate of young captains, for example, had fallen to an unprecedented low; about half of the West Point classes of 2000 and 2001 had decided against an army career."

Anecdotally, two good friends from rural Indiana, both West Point grads, have come back from two tours each, Iraq and Afghanistan, completely disillusioned with our mission. Not so much with the initial mission of invading and eliminating WMD or Taliban/Al Qaeda, but with the recent direction of handing over massive weaponry and cash to the "bad guys" in Anbar and central Iraq. The Petraeus doctrine seems, to them, not so much a strategy for stabilization, as a way of getting through the end of Bush's term before all Hell breaks loose. They see their buddies being forced to hand over bundles of cash and guns to tribal warlords who everyone knows have been responsible for blowing up and killing US citizens. Tough for them to palate, and tough, certainly, for anti-appeasement folks within the electorate to tolerate.

pod2
05-26-2008, 12:33 AM
From Simon's article in Foreign Affairs,
"Now, U.S. strategy is violating this principle by fostering the retribalization of Iraq all over again. In other countries in the region, such as Yemen, the result of allowing tribes to contest state authority is clear: a dysfunctional country prone to bouts of serious internecine violence. Such violence can also cross borders, especially if neighboring states are willing to use the tribes as their own agents. Pakistan provides a particularly ominous example of this dysfunctionality: its failure to absorb its Pashtun population has threatened the viability of the Pakistani state. The continued nurturing of tribalism in Iraq, in a way that sustains tribes in opposition to the central government rather than folding them into it, will bring about an Iraqi state that suffers from the same instability and violence as Yemen and Pakistan."

This is the core claim of Simon's case, and I can't see how Frum, or any pro-surge pundit for that matter, has engaged these issues. According to Simon, the surge has caused a situation that is more prone to civil war than what we had in late 2006. Frankly, I have not heard a reasoned, evidence- reality-based rebuttal, Frum included. How can you read this article and not attempt to take down this analysis? It destroys the entire raison d'etre of post-Iraq Study Group Bush policy.

travis68
05-26-2008, 03:40 AM
Simon's point is well taken. But the question a year ago was, "How do we get to a stabler situation when AQ is running rampant through Sunni society?"

I don't think that there was any alternative to coopting a faction within the insurgents and use the existing tribal structure to fight against AQ. The US couldn't do it and the Shiites certainly couldn't do it.

Now we have a situation where we have largely succeeded in the first goal and now we try to move to the next step which is integration of the US funded Sunni fighters into the government's miliary.

What's important is the elections in November. I hope that politics will enable the Sunni regions to achieve reasonable goals without violence. IF that happens, there won't be any need to take up arms against the government.

David Thomson
05-26-2008, 09:18 AM
Pod2 claims to possess a fair amount of intimate knowledge. I usually don't care if someone posting on Bloggingheads provides their real name. This is, however, one of those rare exceptions. I think this person is a liar. Something doesn't sound right. Do the editors know for sure who this person is?

bjkeefe
05-26-2008, 10:05 AM
I usually don't care if someone posting on Bloggingheads provides their real name. This is, however, one of those rare exceptions. I think this person is a liar. Something doesn't sound right. Do the editors know for sure who this person is?

I have no idea why you'd make such a charge, given that pod2's comments are anecdotes that sound entirely plausible, but in any case you should substantiate such a serious accusation.

And how do we know that "David Thomson" is your real name?

piscivorous
05-26-2008, 10:25 AM
Sometimes you seem a bit paranoid. You should be willing to accept out of hand the anecdotal evidence of some one who is so honored to know two west Point graduates. It has to be a rare privilege, unless one attends the academy themselves or works for pentagon, to have two close friends from amongst the 20 or so appointments per state per year that attend West Point. I mean how many West Point graduate do you know to balance this out? Not a one I bet! The fact that both these individuals are now "completely disillusioned with our mission" is probably just coincidental after all.

Jyminee
05-26-2008, 10:57 AM
You should be willing to accept out of hand the anecdotal evidence of some one who is so honored to know two west Point graduates. It has to be a rare privilege, unless one attends the academy themselves or works for pentagon, to have two close friends from amongst the 20 or so appointments per state per year that attend West Point.

Believe me or not, but I'm an East Coast, Ivy League-educated liberal--yes, one of those bogeymen "Davey" Thomson is always crying about!--and I know two West Point graduates, both Iraq vets. It's not that unusual.

piscivorous
05-26-2008, 11:14 AM
I concede your point about knowing two West Point graduates and perhaps it was just the usual hyperbole abut "good friends".

artoad
05-26-2008, 03:16 PM
Like Steven I tend to be a cock-eyed pessimist when it comes to all things connected with the West's interface with Islam. Let's just look at two of the latest developments, a Hezbollah dominated government in Lebanon and Pakistani concessions to extremists in the frontier provinces. Meanwhile David Frum continues to put lipstick on the pig of US military involvement in the Muslim world. Since according to bhtv viewers Israel is already a pariah state maybe we should leave the heavy military lifting to them. In this era of asymmetrical warfare perhaps the only answer for the US is a lot of clandestine activity a la Mossad. Just get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, take our lumps and then make life as miserable as possible in a subterranean way for our enemies in the theatre of cruelty known as the Islamic world.

Wonderment
05-26-2008, 03:35 PM
And how do we know that "David Thomson" is your real name?

Brendan, There is significant evidence that David Thomson is not the real David Thomson, but rather a false David Thomson who has stolen real David Thomson's identity.

If fake David Thomson were real David Thomson he would mention BARRY Obama at least three times per paragraph. Notice that imposter David Thompson NEVER mentions Barry.

Where are "the editors?" for God's sake!!!!

rigger
05-26-2008, 04:07 PM
Wonderful thing, the internet. Simon's original article--available in audio format, thank you Foreign Affairs, contains some startling ideas about how the re-introduction of tribalism could doom any of America's efforts in Iraq. He based his argument on pretty sound analysis of Middle-Eastern history and the sorry effects of imperialism. What does set Simon's argument apart is his recommendations on fixing the problem. Complex, yes; difficult, you bet; will the US have to do some multi-lateral diplomacy, of course. Try to chop the legs off the messenger ( is pod2 lying? who knows who went to West Point?) but this scholar, in my opinion, has set himself apart from from the normal pack of iconoclasts. Frum did the right thing--he listened! Except for the small argument concerning what Bush meant by appeasement--should have just let that issue lie on the floor and stink, just as everyone else did a week ago!

basman
05-26-2008, 04:36 PM
I have not read Simon's Foreign Affairs essay, but I generally thought that in this particular exchange, except for the part dealing with Bin Laden sitting prettier than Frum would make out--with Frum graciously deferring to Simon's expertise, Frum had the better of it: crisper, livelier and less ponderous and more decisively articulate, even if only polemically. I liked the more subtle framing by Frum of Bush's appeasement remarks in the Knesset, as he drew the welcome and helpful distinction between talking to Iran in the way of joining issue on mutual grievances as compared to mollifying Iran by jettisoning what America has done that grieves it so--hence appeasing it. Simon seemed particularly (and somewhat irritatingly) ponderous here.

pod2
05-29-2008, 01:51 AM
Sometimes you seem a bit paranoid. You should be willing to accept out of hand the anecdotal evidence of some one who is so honored to know two west Point graduates. It has to be a rare privilege, unless one attends the academy themselves or works for pentagon, to have two close friends from amongst the 20 or so appointments per state per year that attend West Point. I mean how many West Point graduate do you know to balance this out? Not a one I bet! The fact that both these individuals are now "completely disillusioned with our mission" is probably just coincidental after all.

I have to say that none of the points I was making depended on the testimony of west point grads. The concerns that I raised can be verified by talking to quite a few non-coms out of Al Anbar. Newsweek had a piece last month basically verifying the uneasiness that a lot of soldiers felt when dealing with ex-IED designers and planters. It may be the best way to run an occupation in al Anbar, but it hardly qualifies as hard line anti-appeasement. I mean, all Obama wants to do is TALK to folks who purportedly train or arm those who want to hurt America. Petraeus is already ready to buy off the guys who are killing American troops with cold hard cash, ammo, and guns.

The hysterical cries of LIAR are slightly comical, and I wish I could feel that my honor was somehow impugned. I guess that pisc feels that "good friends" felt suspect. Apart from anything I have personally claimed, I have to ask, if there were organized efforts to blow up you and your friends, and a few months later you were encouraged (indeed ordered) to pay off the punks responsible for the maiming and decapitation of the guys under your protection, WOULD YOU BE DOWN WITH THAT? I know I would have a few words to say about this approach.

As it happens, though I rejected completely the invasion of Iraq, and was arrested and spent 22 hours in the tombs of 1 police plaza for my trouble (big whoop, all things considered), I am "good friends" with these USMA grads. They are close family friends. My family has known them since they were in Kindergarten. My wife babysat them when she was in high school, they spent many a weekend with our family in NYC as they took the train down from Garrison or Peekskill. They are not eager to talk politics, but the disillusionment they feel is right in keeping with the sentiments that Simon or any number of other commentators report about the officer corps in the decade since the millennium.

It's hardly exalted status to have close ties to two brothers who worked their way through West Point, and I didn't mean to imply that it gave some sort of omniscience. Their disillusionment does, however, fit a pattern that Simon describes pretty accurately. And paying off terrorists and tribes that have been directly responsible for maiming, mutilating, and killing US soldiers is hardly consistent with the anti-appeasement line that Bush, Fox and McCain are taking. How can you be anti-"appeasement" and pro-surge. You can't. It's an oxymoron.

johnmarzan
06-02-2008, 09:49 AM
obama's apologists are stymied.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/rubin/9021