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Old 12-20-2007, 11:37 AM
kj kj is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 37
Default Re: Iraq By the numbers

I think a number of factors (some good, some bad) have made an eventual end to the civil war a real possibility. These would include: the success of ethnic cleansing in increasing the homogeneity of various parts of Baghdad and elsewhere in the country, the weariness of the less radical elements in the Sunni community to support the continued slaughter of fellow Iraqis, the political marginalization of Sadr after cutting down his involvement in the central gov't.

This does not strike me as the least bit realistic. Walling in neighborhoods in Baghdad separating one group that thinks it deserves to run the country from another group that has a majority is not going to go away in less than a decade. I mean how long has this sectarian conflict been going on, hundreds of years. We can wall them off and stand guard for a couple decades while some credible institutions are built allowing the chance of reconciliation or we can leave and attempt to lessen the violence as much as possible. Those are our stark choices.

The politics of a precipitous withdrawal are now murkier as the surge and other factors indigenous to the Iraqi people have at least succeeded tactically in reducing the amount of massive terror attacks and sectarian murders. But no, I don't think the American people will support 5 more years of war. I think that there will be an American presence of at least 50,000 or more troops for the short to medium term (1 or 2 years at least, I would imagine).

In other words, you support the Democratic plan for withdrawal. This is the frustrating part as that is basically the plan put forward by many leading Democrats taking from 1 to 2 years to withdraw from the country and leaving a force in the ME to counter terrorism. IN fact, I think that is Howard Dean's plan. I don't see the point of 50k troops in Iraq. Either pull the vast majority or start drafting chickenhawks and increase the force by another 100k.

As to what will happen if we "just stay there," I have no idea. The situation is so fluid and there are so many factors that I think anyone claiming to know with any confidence what will happen in Iraq is probably overstating the case. Certainly, the massive decrease in violence that was at least partially caused by the surge was not foreseen by most people.

Perhaps the massive decrease wasn't forseen but I for one expected a decrease. What I didn't expect (but should have) was that a decrease in violence alone would be touted as some sort of victory for the surge. I forsaw three scenarios. Disaster meant that violence stayed the same or decreased minimally with no political movement. Failure meant that violence decreased measurably with no political movement. Success meant that violence decreased with political movement. In fact I think that's how the Bush administration laid it out as well. By all measures from before the surge started, we have failure. For people to argue otherwise is absurd in my mind. Remember, BJKeefe pointed out earlier, violence has simply gone back to 2004-2005 levels when the levels of violence were merely horrible instead of catastrophic. If I had asked you in 2004 if you thought we were making progress if the level of violence was roughly the same at the end of 2007 with no political progress, would you have said "yes". Recent history seems to disappear into a black hole in exchange for wishful thinking.

I am not completely against the idea of some sort of draw-down or strategic repositioning of forces to Kurdistan in a year or two if the security situation holds steady or improves, as indeed, maintaining current troop levels for another 4 years seems like it will not be possible politically. However, the recent improvements in the security situation and the changing political landscape in Iraq seem to me to make precipitous draw-downs in troop levels a bad idea.

Well why? This is like the tax cut issue with conservatives. It's never a bad time to cut taxes. Economy good, return money to tax payers. Economy bad, return money to tax payers to stimulate economy. When is a good time to withdraw? Never and always is the correct answer but that's what happens when you stupidly enter a war for no good reason.

I appreciate your well-thought out answer but it suffers from the same malady of all the dead-enders which basically amounts to putting the decision off a little longer in search of a miracle all while ignoring the billion dollars a week in spending and the dead soldiers that continue to come home.
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