The Iraq War

This document contains general observations on the Iraq War.
More specific aspects are treated in
Conceptualizing the Iraq War,
Selling the Iraq War,
Israel and the Iraq War,
The Lobby and the Iraq War,
Intelligence and the Iraq War,
The military and the Iraq War, and
The media and the Iraq War (note especially Greg Miller’s columns).

Polling data are here.


This description by James A. Baker
of the reason that the first Bush administration
did not invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein
has been moved here.

Force Requirements in Stability Operations
Parameters, US Army War College Quarterly, Winter 1995


Cakewalk In Iraq
By Ken Adelman
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2002-02-13

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Even before President Bush had placed Iraq on his “axis of evil,”
dire warnings were being sounded
about the danger of acting against Saddam Hussein's regime.

Two knowledgeable Brookings Institution analysts,
Philip H. Gordon and Michael E. O’Hanlon, concluded that
the United States would “almost surely” need
“at least 100,000 to 200,000” ground forces

[op-ed, Dec. 26, 2001].


In 1991 we engaged a grand international coalition
because we lacked a domestic coalition.
Virtually the entire Democratic leadership stood against that President Bush.
The public, too, was divided.
This President Bush
does not need to amass rinky-dink nations as “coalition partners”
to convince the Washington establishment that we’re right.
Americans of all parties now know we must wage a total war on terrorism.
[Adelman completely misses the point.
The reason to form a coalition
is not “to convince the Washington establishment” of anything,
but to demonstrate to any skeptics worldwide
that the world is united in this action.]

Hussein constitutes
the number one threat against American security and civilization.

Unlike Osama bin Laden, he has
billions of dollars in government funds,
scores of government research labs
working feverishly on weapons of mass destruction
just as deep a hatred of America and civilized free societies.

Once President Bush clearly announces that our objective is to rid Iraq of Hussein, and our unshakable determination to do whatever it takes to win, defections from the Iraqi army may come even faster than a decade ago.


Measured by any cost-benefit analysis,
such an operation would constitute
the greatest victory in America's war on terrorism.

The writer was assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977, and arms control director under President Ronald Reagan.


[Here is an HTML version of an advertisement
from the op-ed page of the New York Times of 2002-09-26,
signed by 33 scholars of international relations.
Emphasis has been added.]


As scholars of international security affairs,
we recognize that war is sometimes necessary
to ensure our national security or other vital interests.
We also recognize that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant
and that Iraq has defied a number of U.N. resolutions.
But military force should be used
only when it advances U.S. national interests.
War with Iraq does not meet this standard.
  • Saddam Hussein is a murderous despot,
    but no one has provided credible evidence
    that Iraq is cooperating with al Qaeda.
  • Even if Saddam Hussein acquired nuclear weapons,
    he could not use them
    without suffering massive U.S. or Israeli retaliation.
  • The first Bush administration did not try to conquer Iraq in 1991
    because it understood that
    doing so could spread instability in the Middle East,
    threatening U.S. interests.
    This remains a valid concern today.
  • The United States would win a war against Iraq,
    but Iraq has military options—
    chemical and biological weapons, urban combat—
    that might impose significant costs
    on the invading forces and neighboring states.
  • Even if we win easily,
    we have no plausible exit strategy.
    Iraq is a deeply divided society that the United States
    would have to occupy and police for many years

    to create a viable state.
  • Al Qaeda poses a greater threat to the U.S. than does Iraq.
    War with Iraq will jeopardize the campaign against al Qaeda
    by diverting resources and attention from that campaign
    and by increasing anti-Americanism around the globe.

The United States should maintain vigilant containment of Iraq—
using its own assets and the resources of the United Nations—
and be prepared to invade Iraq if it threatens to attack America or its allies.
That is not the case today.
We should concentrate instead on defeating al Qaeda.

Robert J. Art
Brandeis University

Richard K. Betts
Columbia University

Dale C. Copeland
University of Virginia

Michael C. Desch
University of Kentucky

Sumit Ganguly
University of Texas

Charles L. Glaser
University of Chicago

Alexander L. George
Stanford University

Richard K. Herrmann
Ohio State University

George C. Herring
University of Kentucky

Robert Jervis
Columbia University

Chaim Kaufmann
Lehigh University
Carl Kaysen

Elizabeth Kier
University of Washington

Deborah Larson

Jack S. Levy
Rutgers University

Peter Liberman
Queens College

John J. Mearsheimer
University of Chicago

Steven E. Miller
Harvard University

Charles C. Moskos
Northwestern University

Robert A. Pape
University of Chicago

Barry R. Posen

Robert Powell
George H. Quester
University of Maryland

Richard Rosecrance

Thomas C. Schelling
University of Maryland

Randall L. Schweller
Ohio State University

Glenn H. Snyder
Univ. of North Carolina

Jack L. Snyder
Columbia University

Shibley Telhami
University of Maryland

Stephen van Evera

Stephen M. Walt
Harvard University

Kenneth N. Waltz
Columbia University

Cindy Williams

Institutions listed for identification purposes only.
Paid for by the signatories and individual contributors.

For the very few other appearances of this advertisement on the web,
click here. (The text above was entered into this blog on 2007-05-03.)
A facsimile of the original ad
was placed on the web on 2008-03-25 by Glenn Greenwald.

The provenance of the advertisement
is described in the article “The Typologies of Realism”
in the Chinese Journal of International Politics.
Footnote 32 says (emphasis is added):

The reality is that most realists,
regardless of whether they are offensive or defensive
are in opposition to the United States’ aggressive policy position.

To offer a particularly compelling example,
before the United States launched the war against Iraq,
33 US scholars of international relations
posted an advertisement in the New York Times
titled ‘War with Iraq is not in America’s National Interest.’
This advertisement, which the scholars paid for themselves,
was signed by offensive realists such as Mearsheimer and Schweller.
[No doubt, since he and Walt tackled the Israel Lobby,
plenty of people now consider Mearsheimer offensive.]

this came at the initiative of Mearsheimer, Shibley Telhami, and Stephen Walt.

[When one examines an image of the NYT op-ed page for that day,
one finds this antiwar, anti-intervention material
is tucked away in the lower-right quarter of the page,
while the page is dominated by “Why Iraq Can’t Be Deterred”
by Kenneth M. Pollack of the (Jewish-funded) Saban Center.
Isn’t it cute how the (Jewish-owned) New York Times
managed to make sure that
the case for war overwhelmed the case against the war?]

Why Iraq Can’t Be Deterred
by Kenneth M. Pollack
New York Times Op-Ed, 2002-09-26

[The op-ed page on which this article appears
is dominated by a large illustration by Jonathon Rosen at its top
accompanying this article.
The illustration shows an open poker hand of five cards;
the cards contain these images:

Ace: a mushroom cloud
Jack: a flask of poison, with skull and crossbones
Four: missiles
King: a person in a full hazmat suit
Queen: oil derricks on fire.

So when people accuse Rice, Bush and Cheney
of using the mushroom cloud image,
the NYT was using the same image in its presentations,
even those quite independent of the Bush administration’s message-making.

Here are the last two paragraphs of the article:]

With 1990’s-style containment fading quickly and unlikely to be revived,
both of the remaining Iraq policy options -- invasion and deterrence --
carry serious costs and risks.
But a well-planned invasion,
one that mustered overwhelming force and the support of key allies,
could keep those risks to a minimum.

On the other hand,
staking our hopes on a policy of deterrence would cost little now
(except a loss of face),
but it would run the much greater risk of postponing the day of reckoning
to a time of Iraq’s choosing.
Given Mr. Hussein’s history of catastrophic miscalculations
and his faith that nuclear weapons can deter not him but us,
there is every reason to believe that the question is not one of war or no war,
but rather war now or war later --
a war without nuclear weapons or a war with them.

The Push for War
Anatol Lieven considers what the US Administration hopes to gain.
by Anatol Lieven
London Review of Books, 2002-10-03

[This is an interesting, highly informative article,
especially outstanding considering that
it was written half a year before the war started.
Here is an excerpt:]

The most surprising thing about the push for war is that
it is so profoundly reckless.
If I had to put money on it,
I’d say that the odds on quick success in destroying the Iraqi regime
may be as high as 5/1 or more, given
US military superiority,
the vile nature of Saddam Hussein’s rule,
the unreliability of Baghdad’s missiles, and
the deep divisions in the Arab world.
But at first sight, the longer-term gains for the US look pretty limited,
whereas the consequences of failure would be catastrophic.
A general Middle Eastern conflagration
and the collapse of more pro-Western Arab states would
lose us the war against terrorism,
doom untold thousands of Western civilians to death in coming decades, and
plunge the world economy into depression.


To understand the Administration’s motivation,
it is necessary to appreciate the breathtaking scope
of the domestic and global ambitions
which the dominant neo-conservative nationalists hope to further
by means of war,
and which go way beyond their publicly stated goals.
There are of course different groups within this camp:
some are more favourable to Israel,
others less hostile to China;
not all would support the most radical aspects of the programme.
However, the basic and generally agreed plan is
unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority,
and this has been consistently advocated and worked on
by the group of intellectuals close to Dick Cheney and Richard Perle
since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.


The planned war against Iraq is not after all
intended only to remove Saddam Hussein,
but to destroy the structure of the Sunni-dominated Arab nationalist Iraqi state
as it has existed since that country’s inception.
The ‘democracy’ which replaces it will presumably resemble that of Afghanistan -
a ramshackle coalition of ethnic groups and warlords,
utterly dependent on US military power
and utterly subservient to US (and Israeli) wishes.

[As of 2007,
that sounds like a rather accurate description of the Iraqi state.
Too bad most of the American media “elite” wasn’t so prescient.]

Iraq: The Case Against Preemptive War
The administration’s claim of a right to overthrow regimes it considers hostile
is extraordinary – and one the world will soon find intolerable.

by Paul W. Schroeder
The American Conservative, 2002-10-21


An Unnecessary War
By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
Foreign Policy, 2003-01/02

[In the freely available world,
the article in all its illustrated, full-color glory
is available in PDF form here
(but this is a little slow to download).
A closely approximating HTML version is this.
From Walt’s Belfer Center web site a slight variant, dated 2002-11-12, is
“Can Saddam Be Contained? History Says Yes”.
Here is the concluding section of all of the above:]

The Need for Vigilant Containment

It is not surprising that those who favor a war with Iraq
have sought to portray Saddam
as an inveterate and only partly rational aggressor.
They are in the business of selling a preventive war,
and that means that they have to try to make remaining at peace
seem unacceptably dangerous.
And the best way to do that is to inflate the threat, either
by exaggerating Iraq’s capabilities or
by suggesting that horrible things will happen if we do not act soon.
It is equally unsurprising that advocates of war
have been willing to distort the historical record
in order to make their case.
As Secretary of State Dean Acheson famously remarked,
in politics, advocacy “must be clearer than the truth.”

In this case, however, the truth points the other way.
Both logic and historical evidence suggest that
a policy of vigilant containment would work,
both now and in the event that Iraq acquired a nuclear arsenal.
Because the United States and its regional allies are far stronger than Iraq,
and because it does not take a genius to figure out
what would happen if Iraq tried to use its arsenal
to blackmail its neighbors, to expand its territory, or
to attack another state directly.
It only takes a leader who wants to remain alive and who wants to remain in power.
Throughout his lengthy and brutal career,
Saddam Hussein has repeatedly shown that these two goals
are absolutely paramount.
That is why deterrence and containment would work,
and that is why preventive war is unnecessary.

[The version of the paper published in the 2003-01/02 Foreign Policy
contains this third paragraph:]

If the United States is, or soon will be, at war with Iraq,
Americans should understand that a compelling strategic rationale is absent.
This war would be one the Bush administration chose to fight
but did not have to fight.
Even if such a war goes well and has positive long-range consequences,
it will still have been unnecessary.
And if it goes badly—
whether in the form of
high U.S. casualties, significant civilian deaths,
a heightened risk of terrorism, or
increasing hatred of the United States in the Arab and Islamic world—
then its architects will have even more to answer for.

Georgie Anne Geyer,
You’re Invited to the War Party

Three months before the war,
in reviewing Bob Woodward’s Bush at War,
Ms. Geyer wrote (but the emphasis is added):

Some [of those around the president],
like Wolfowitz and the group of neoconservative zealots,
with their intimate ties to the hardest parts of the Israeli Right,
wanted to attack and ultimately “reconfigure” the entire Middle East
for their own and Israel’s interests,
and soon they were moving Heaven and Earth
to convince the president that Iraq constituted,
not a mere 10 to 50 percent of the problem,
but 100 percent of it.
Some of the president’s advisors also genuinely feared
Saddam’s possible use of weapons of mass destruction.
But there is also a persistent undercurrent of macho thinking that,
hey, we’ve got the weapons:
“Should they think about launching military action elsewhere
as an insurance policy in case things in Afghanistan went bad?”
Woodward paraphrases these moments.
“They would need successes early in any war
to maintain domestic and international support.”
And besides, Rumsfeld was
“deeply worried about the availability of good targets in Afghanistan.”

All the while,
the “rational” group in the leadership is warning, warning, warning,
like a Greek chorus awakening every once in a while to take center stage.
Secretary of State Colin Powell warns against
the U.S. being seen as “playing the superpower bully”
and tries to tell the president that
the behavior of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
with whom Bush seemed taken with almost a childlike admiration,
“borders on the irrational.”
Powell is “uncomfortable with random regime change.”
Powell, his State Department staff,
and prominent White Housers like
the president’s more cautious, New England-born Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.
are the holdouts to the radical, macho, neocon, Likudnik, former Cold Warriors
who are not, the book makes clear, at all conservatives in any traditional sense.

It is these “warriors,” or the “War Party,” or the “cabal,”
as different elements in the press have dubbed them,
who would soon weave their own obsession with Iraq
over a Texas president
first totally inexperienced in foreign affairs

finally obsessed himself that he and he alone—
through his instinct rather than his intellect—
has been called to a religious duty in the Middle East
to rid the world of Saddam Hussein!

Keeping Saddam Hussein in a Box
by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
New York Times Op-Ed, 2003-02-02

[Freely available in PDF and HTML.
The last paragraph:]

Although the Bush administration maintains that war is necessary,
there is a better option.
Iraq is weakened,
its pursuit of nuclear weapons has been frustrated, and
any regional ambitions it may once have cherished have been thwarted.
We should perpetuate this state of affairs by maintaining vigilant containment,
a policy the rest of the world regards as preferable and effective.
Saddam Hussein needs to remain in his box --
but we don’t need a war to keep him there.

Why the War on Iraq is Unnecessary and Unwise
Speech by Stephen M. Walt at the University of Pennsylvania, 2003-02-12
Summary notes by Jay C. Treat

[This is really an excellent summary of the issues.
Where else have you seen such a good outline of the pros and cons?
Here is the introduction:]

This is a slow motion debate with Kenneth Pollack.
[Too bad for America that more of Walt’s side of the debate
wasn’t covered in the MSM.
So far as my search on American newspapers, using ProQuest, could determine,
the only article authored or coauthored by Walt
published in an American newspsper between 2002-01-01 and 2003-04-01
was 2003-02-02-Mearsheimer-Walt.
Surely America would have benefited from hearing more
of the level of argumentation displayed in the current speech
before the die was cast for war.]


This talk has three parts:
  1. A critique of the rationale for preventive war.
  2. Why the war is not likely to bring
    the benefits its advocates predict.
  3. A list of costs of the war.


Whose War?
by Patrick J. Buchanan
The American Conservative, 2003-03-24

A neoconservative clique
seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars
that are not in America’s interest.

[This is the famous, or should-be-famous, article Pat Buchanan wrote
just before the war started.
The date shown above is the cover date of the issue in which it appeared;
it would have been received by subscribers about 03-10,
and gone to the printer about 02-28.]

Unpatriotic Conservatives
by David Frum
National Review, 2003-04-07

A war against America.

[This is the rebuttal written by Frum, presumably speaking
for both the National Review and the neocon community at large,
to Patrick Buchanan’s “Whose War?”.
(It in fact refers to Buchanan’s article, but not by name.)
The date shown above is the cover date of the issue in which it appeared;
the date when it was put on the Internet was 03-19,
a few weeks after Buchanan’s article would have become available
and literally the day before the war started.

Note well the accusation expressed in the subtitle:
That to try to prevent America from launching war with Iraq was in fact

“A war against America”.

Here is the beginning and end of Frum’s article (emphasis is added):]

From the very beginning of the War on Terror, there has been dissent,
and as the war has proceeded to Iraq,
the dissent has grown more radical and more vociferous.
Perhaps that was to be expected.
But here is what never could have been:
Some of the leading figures in this antiwar movement
call themselves “conservatives.”

These conservatives are relatively few in number,
but their ambitions are large.
They aspire to reinvent conservative ideology:
to junk the 50-year-old conservative commitment
to defend American interests and values throughout the world —
the commitment that inspired the founding of this magazine —
in favor of a fearful policy of ignoring threats and appeasing enemies.


You may know the names of these antiwar conservatives.
Some are famous:
Patrick Buchanan and Robert Novak.
Others are not:
Llewellyn Rockwell, Samuel Francis, Thomas Fleming, Scott McConnell,
Justin Raimondo, Joe Sobran, Charley Reese, Jude Wanniski,
Eric Margolis, and Taki Theodoracopulos.


And now it is time to be very frank about the paleos.
During the Clinton years, many conservatives succumbed to a kind of gloom.
With Bill Bennett, they mourned the “death of outrage.”
America now has non-metaphorical deaths to mourn.
There is no shortage of outrage —
and the cultural pessimism of the 1990s has been dispelled.
The nation responded to the terrorist attacks
with a surge of patriotism and pride,
along with a much-needed dose of charity.
Suddenly, many conservatives found they could look
past the rancor of the Clinton years,
past the psychobabble of the New Age gurus,
past the politically correct professors,
to see an America that remained, in every important way,
the America of 1941 and 1917 and 1861 and 1776.
As Tennyson could have said: “What we were, we are.”

America has social problems; the American family is genuinely troubled.
The conservatism of the future
must be a social as well as an economic conservatism.
But after the heroism and patriotism of 9/11
it must also be an optimistic conservatism.
There is, however, a fringe attached to the conservative world
that cannot overcome its despair and alienation.
The resentments are too intense, the bitterness too unappeasable.
Only the boldest of them as yet explicitly acknowledge
their wish to see the United States defeated in the War on Terror.
But they are thinking about defeat, and wishing for it,
and they will take pleasure in it if it should happen.

They began by hating the neoconservatives.
They came to hate their party and this president.
They have finished by hating their country.

War is a great clarifier.
It forces people to take sides.
The paleoconservatives have chosen — and the rest of us must choose too.
In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country.
Now we turn our backs on them.

[What a remarkable piece of propaganda.
So totally wrong.
So totally arrogant in putting motivations into the minds
of the principled conservatives who recognized that this war was,
not for the benefit of the United States,
but for the benefit of the Jewish nation and its lackeys
amongst America’s political, cultural, economic, academic and media elite.

Note also that characteristic mark of the Jewish polemicist:
Characterizing those who disagree with him as motivated,
not by principled concerns which he does not happen to share,
but by hatred.
We have all seen how those who criticize the actions of the Jewish community
must be attacked as haters (e.g.);
but this goes much, much farther.
The antiwar conservatives, in trying to prevent a war much advocated by both Israel and its lobby in America,
are now, without the slightest shred of evidence,
charged with hating America.

In point of fact,
as was evident to many then and surely is evident to almost all now,
they loved America much more than Frum and his war-advocating ilk.]

‘Cakewalk” Revisited
By Ken Adelman
Washington Post, 2003-04-10

Burden of Victory: The Painful Arithmetic of Stability Operations
By James T. Quinlivan
The Rand Corporation, Summer 2003

[An excerpt:]

Although numbers alone do not constitute a security strategy,
successful strategies for population security and control
have required force ratios either as large as or larger than
20 security personnel (troops and police combined)
per thousand inhabitants.

The British are acknowledged as
the most experienced practitioners of the stabilization art.
To maintain stability in Northern Ireland, the British deployed a security force (consisting of British army troops plus police from the Royal Ulster Constabulary)
at a ratio of about 20 per thousand inhabitants.
This is about the same force ratio
that the British deployed during the Malayan counterinsurgency
in the middle of the 20th century.


The population of Iraq today is nearly 25 million.
That population would require
500,000 foreign troops on the ground
to meet a standard of 20 troops per thousand residents.
This number
is more than three times the number of foreign troops now deployed to Iraq
(see figure).
The extremely low force ratio for Afghanistan
[around 1 per thousand],
a country with a population even larger than that of Iraq,
shows the implausibility
of current stabilization efforts by external forces
[in Afghanistan].



What's Wrong With Cutting and Running?
by [Lt.] Gen. (ret.) William E. Odom
Nieman Watchdog, 2005-08-03
(also available at antiwar.com)

[Retired Lt. Gen. Odom, former DIRNSA and ACSI,
systematically eviscerates the arguments for staying in Iraq.
Democrats trying to make anti-war arguments
that would appeal to the general public
might learn something by reading General Odom’s arguments.]

[See also 2006-10-27-Odom.]


Georgie Anne Geyer,
War Carousel Spins On, Even As Analysts Scramble For Solutions

[While generally I am in agreement with the venerable Ms. Geyer’s analysis,
I think she overlooks some key facts when she writes:]

[T]he Americans who are financing this absurd and destructive war
do not realize that the war's propagators do not share these doubts.
From George W. to Dick to Rummie,
all believe that they are winning this war.


While by now most rational Americans understand that
this war was George, Dick and Don's midlife testosterone adventure,
they themselves are still in the middle of the love affair.

[At a very minor level,
she omits the role of the national security advisor in shaping, well,
national security policy.

More significantly,
she omits the role of her peers in the media in calling for the war.
Even now, in 2006-05, all three of Washington’s major newspapers,
the Post, Times, and the DC Examiner
continue to support the war.
Further, among the conservative magazines,
the Weekly Standard, National Review, and Commentary
continue to support it.
On the left, the New Republic continues to support it.
Of course,
all of these played a very active role in calling for the war in the first place.

With the constant beat of war drums from major portions of the media,
it seems grossly unfair to place all of the blame for the war
on “W., Dick, and Rummie.”
Miss Geyer once seemed to agree,
placing the blame on what she dubbed “The War Party.”

In fact, the fair, but not very often asked, question is:
“Was W. really the instigator of the war,
or merely a follower
of those who had been demanding this war since the mid 1990s?”
My personal opinion is that the answer is the latter.]

Cut and Run? You Bet.
By Lt. Gen. William E. Odom
Foreign Policy, 2006-05/06
[A cut-down version of 2005-08-03-Odom.]

In 1990’s, Shadows Waged War
By John Kifner
New York Times, 2006-07-22

The Hezbollah guerrilla campaign
that ended Israel’s 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000
was in many ways a precursor
to the kind of asymmetrical warfare American troops are facing in Iraq —
and Israeli troops would face again if they entered Lebanon in large numbers.

Suicide bombers, roadside explosives and ambushes
were the weapons the shadowy force that called itself the resistance
used to drive out a superior conventional army.

The basic point of the above passage, that
Iraqi Muslims would react to America’s invasion of Iraq
just as
Lebanese Muslims reacted to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon

is exactly what anyone who wasn’t either
a) a complete idiot or
b) a Jewish stooge
knew long before America invaded Iraq.
We didn’t need to learn
such basic lessons in human nature and cultural differences
by trial and error.

But the feminized, Jewified, homosexualized media elite
either couldn’t or wouldn’t run stories about that before the war (e.g.).

(In contrast, for a prewar media story that got it almost entirely right,
see “Iraq Invasion: The Road to Folly” by Eric Margolis, the cover story
in the very first (2002-10-07) issue of The American Conservative,
in particular:
During the 1973 war,
the crack Israeli army was forced to withdraw from Suez City
in the face of stubborn resistance
from dug-in Egyptian troops and irregulars.
Though U.S. forces could quickly defeat Iraq’s regular army in the field,
there is a high risk of prolonged urban guerilla warfare


What will the US do with this Mideast Yugoslavia once it conquers Iraq?
This chronically unstable “Pandora’s Box,”
as Jordan’s King Abdullah calls it,
is the nation the U.S. plans to rule.
When Saddam falls, Iraq will almost certainly splinter.


The Muslim world increasingly views George Bush’s America
as set on a crusade against Muslims everywhere,
a view reinforced by U.S. attacks
on Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Afghanistan
over past two decades.

There is simply no political benefit for the United States in invading Iraq.

On the contrary, such an act of brazen aggression
would summon up a host of
unforeseen dangers and unimagined consequences

that could destabilize the Mideast and Turkey,
create a world economic crisis, and, perhaps,
cause the aggressive Bush Administration
to commit an act of imperial overreach
that permanently injures America’s geopolitical interests
and, let us not forget, its moral integrity.

In contrast, see how
the three articles in the immediately prewar issue of Foreign Affairs
that deal with Iraq
look in hindsight.
Is the foreign policy “elite” really that stupid in general,
or was that just a result an intense desire to go to war
on the part of elite media editors?)

Anyone who had a clue
knew how the Muslims would react to their country being invaded.
It wouldn’t be with flowers and candy,
as the Jewish genius, Ph.D., and John Hopkins School of Foreign Policy dean
and his fellow Likudniks claimed.

As Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and the entire U.S. Congress so amply prove,
the only thing that counts in Washington today
is how much you suck up to the Jews.

Most Iraqis Want U.S. Troops Out Within a Year
Say U.S. Presence Provoking More Conflict Than it is Preventing;
Approval of Attacks on U.S.-led Forces Rises to 6 in 10
Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland,

Iraqi support for attacks against U.S.-led forces
All IraqisShiasSunnisKurdsWhey

[These figures have import on
the bombing of Iran nuclear sites currently being considered by the U.S.
If the U.S. attacks Iran,
Iraqi Shiites can be expected to retaliate against the U.S. any way they can.
The percentage of Iraqi Shiites supporting attacks on the U.S.
may be expected to approximate 100 percent,
and the intensity of their desire to harm United States armed forces,
as U.S. armed forces have harmed their fellow Shiites in Iran,
may be expected to skyrocket.
Remember, Shiites make self-flagellation a part of their religious observations.
They may be expected to be fierce adversaries,
in a cause perceived as just as retaliation to American aggression.
The only way for the U.S. military to stop these attacks
will likely be by causing mass casualties amongst the Shiites,
which will only further inflame world opinion against the U.S.]

Most Iraqis Favor Immediate U.S. Pullout, Polls Show
Leaders' Views Out of Step With Public
By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post, 2006-09-27

[The most remarkable part of this article, in my mind,
is that it omits the key (6 in 10) result in the next article
(trumpeted in its headline),
which did not appear in the Post,
only on its website.]

Poll: Iraqis Back Attacks on U.S. Troops
The Associated Press, 2006-09-28

About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces,
and slightly more than that
want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year,
according to a poll in that country.

The Iraqis also have negative views of Osama bin Laden,
according to the early September poll of 1,150.

The poll,
done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes,

* Almost four in five Iraqis say
the U.S. military force in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents.

* About 61 percent approved of the attacks
up from 47 percent in January.

Denial of the Obvious
By Alan Bock
Antiwar.com 2006-10-07

In many ways ...
this is the story not so much of a dysfunctional administration as a
dysfunctional government.
The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld axis brought their own style,
but the government is so huge and sprawling
that one wonders if anybody could have run it effectively.
With all the
turf wars,
bureaucracies working at cross-purposes,
institutional rivalries
(CIA-FBI, Defense-State, National Security Council vs. everybody else)
its ineffectiveness seems inevitable.

Liberating Ourselves
Failure to achieve the easy victory the hawks promised in Iraq
doesn’t mean that we must continue to lose.
by Paul W. Schroeder
The American Conservative, 2006-10-09

By frankly acknowledging failure in Iraq
and acting quickly, decisively, and prudently on that recognition,
the U.S. not only could avoid further disasters there
but might also achieve a kind of success.
Call it
The Bright Promise of Accepting Failure in Iraq.

Sir Richard Dannatt : A very honest General
Daily Mail, 2006-10-10

[Some excerpts from an interview with the new head of the British Army,
General Sir Richard Dannatt;
emphasis is added.]

"The original intention was
that we put in place [in Iraq] a liberal democracy that
was an exemplar for the region,
was pro-West and
might have a beneficial effect on the balance within the Middle East.

"That was the hope.
Whether that was a sensible or naïve hope, history will judge.
I don't think we are going to do that.
I think we should aim for a lower ambition."

Sir Richard adds, strongly, that we should
"get ourselves out sometime soon
because our presence exacerbates the security problems".

"We are in a Muslim country and
Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear.
"As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited into a country,
but we weren't invited,

certainly by those in Iraq at the time.
Let's face it, the military campaign we fought in 2003
effectively kicked the door in.

"That is a fact.
I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing around the world
are caused by our presence in Iraq,
but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them."


With regard to Iran and North Korea, he believes in dialogue.

"Particularly with Iran —
if we paint them into a corner I think that is being too simplistic.
Dialogue and negotiation make eminent sense and military posturing doesn't."

The General is a practising Christian and
this informs his views on the Army's role and place in society.
He believes
our weak values have allowed the predatory Islamist vision to take hold.

"We can't wish the Islamist challenge to our society away
and I believe that the Army,
both in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably wherever we go next,
is fighting the foreign dimension of the challenge to our accepted way of life.

"We need to face up to the Islamist threat,
to those who act in the name of Islam
and in a perverted way try to impose Islam by force
on societies that do not wish it.
In the Cold War, the threats to this country were about armies rolling in.
Threats now are not territorial but to the values of our country.

"In the Army we place a lot of store by the values we espouse.
What I would hate is for the Army to be maintaining
a set of values that were not reflected in our society at large —
courage, loyalty, integrity, respect for others;
these are critical things.

"I think it is important as an Army entrusted with using lethal force
that we do maintain high values
and that there is a moral dimension to that and a spiritual dimension.

"When I see the Islamist threat
I hope it doesn't make undue progress because
there is a moral and spiritual vacuum in this country.
Our society has always been embedded in Christian values;
once you have pulled the anchor up
there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind.
"There is an element of the moral compass spinning.
I am responsible for the Army,
to make sure that its moral compass is well aligned
and that we live by what we believe in.

"It is said we live in a post-Christian society.
I think that is a great shame.
The Judaic-Christian tradition has underpinned British society.
It underpins the British Army."

Britain’s Soldier’s Soldier
by Al Webb
National Interest, 2006-10-16

[Comments on the statement of British General Sir Richard Dannatt
reported above.]

No Excuses
There's no wriggling out of responsibility for the Iraq disaster
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2006-10-25

[A look at how some of the 2003-war-advocates are now playing dumb—
“Who could ever have imagined things would turn out the way they did?”]

We have turned Iraq into the most hellish place on Earth
Armies claiming to bring prosperity have instead
brought a misery worse than under the cruellest of modern dictators
by Simon Jenkins
The Guardian, 2006-10-25

The Arithmetic of Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan
by Paul Krugman,
New York Times, 2006-10-27

... The classic analysis of the arithmetic of insurgencies
is a 1995 article by James T. Quinlivan, an analyst at the Rand Corporation.
“Force Requirements in Stability Operations,”
published in Parameters, the journal of the U.S. Army War College,
looked at the number of troops
that peacekeeping forces have historically needed
to maintain order and cope with insurgencies.
Mr. Quinlivan’s comparisons suggested that
even small countries might need large occupying forces.

Specifically, in some cases
it was possible to stabilize countries
with between 4 and 10 troops per 1,000 inhabitants.
But examples like
the British campaign against communist guerrillas in Malaya and
the fight against the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland
indicated that establishing order and stability in a difficult environment
could require about 20 troops per 1,000 inhabitants.

The implication was clear:
“Many countries are simply too big
to be plausible candidates for stabilization by external forces,”
Mr. Quinlivan wrote.

Maybe, just maybe,
the invasion and occupation of Iraq could have been managed in such a way
that a force the United States was actually capable of sending
would have been enough to maintain order and stability.
But that didn’t happen, and at this point Iraq is a cauldron of violence,
far worse than Malaya or Ulster ever was.
And that means that stabilizing Iraq
would require a force of at least 20 troops per 1,000 Iraqis —
that is, 500,000 soldiers and marines.

We don’t have that kind of force.
The combined strength of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps is less than 700,000—
and the combination of America’s other commitments
plus the need to rotate units home for retraining
means that only a fraction of those forces
can be deployed for stability operations at any given time.
Even maintaining the forces we now have deployed in Iraq,
which are less than a third as large
as the Quinlivan analysis suggests is necessary,
is slowly breaking the Army.

[Quinlivan has a more current article aimed specifically at Iraq:
Burden of Victory: The Painful Arithmetic of Stability Operations
By James T. Quinlivan.]

The Case for Getting Out of Iraq
by Lieutenant General (Ret.) William E. Odom
John McLaughlin’s “One on One”, 2006-10-27

[See also 2005-08-03-Odom and 2006-05/06-Odom.]

Fighting over who lost Iraq
As with Vietnam, the ugly argument over the war
will ultimately have a cleansing effect on the U.S.

By Andrew J. Bacevich
Los Angeles Times, 2006-11-07

[For a commentary on this article, see 2006-11-13-Raimondo.
Here is an excerpt from the article, with my comment thereon:]

Even before the United States invaded Iraq,
critics on the far left and far right
charged that powerful groups operating behind the scenes
were promoting war for their own nefarious purposes.
Big Oil,
the military-industrial complex and
Protestant evangelicals said to be keen on defending Israel
all came in for criticism and even grassy-knoll-style paranoia.

[Who is missing here?
For the answer, see Patrick Buchanan’s Whose War?.
Bacevich, along with many of his peers,
is obviously scared shitless
of daring to mention the Israel Lobby and
its role in taking us to war with Iraq.
Nothing could more powerfully indicate its baleful role
in suppressing discussion of its existance and influence.]

The Iraq Mandate
by Robert Dreyfuss

For the first time in American history,
Americans have gone to the polls in wartime and rejected that war.
Not only that, but they’ve done so overwhelmingly.

It Wasn’t Only Rumsfeld’s War
by Tony Karon

... you don’t have to have a working knowledge of Iraqi history
to have anticipated how Iraqis would respond
to their country being occupied by a foreign army

A Time For Accounting
by Joseph L. Galloway
TomPaine.com 2006-11-10

Who Lost Iraq?
Neocons run for cover
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2006-11-13

[This is a commentary on 2006-11-07-Bacevich.]

The Coming Sellout
The Democrats won’t deliver on the war
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2006-11-15

The Mugging of Murtha
Congressional Democrats betray the antiwar movement
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2006-11-17

The New Media Offensive Against Withdrawal
by Norman Solomon
Antiwar.com, 2006-11-17

The American media establishment has launched a major offensive
against the option of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

In the latest media assault,
right-wing outfits like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page
are secondary.
The heaviest firepower is now coming from
the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA –
the front page of the New York Times.

[I]n the wake of midterm elections widely seen as a rebuke to the Iraq war,
powerful media institutions are feverishly spinning
against a pullout of U.S. troops.

Embittered Insiders Turn Against Bush
By Peter Baker
Washington Post, 2006-11-19

[An excerpt:]

Most striking lately, though, has been the criticism from neoconservatives
who provided the intellectual framework for Bush's presidency.
Perle, Adelman and others advocated
a robust use of U.S. power
to advance the ideals of democracy and freedom,

targeting Hussein's Iraq as
a threat that could be turned into an opportunity.

[This is in some respects the key paragraph in the whole article.
Here the Post explicitly accepts their motives as being
“to advance the ideals of democracy and freedom”
even though, in reality, that has proved to be a pipe dream.
Why be so accepting of their motives?
Why ignore their background of close ties to the Israeli right,
as discussed by, for example,?]

In an interview last week, [Richard] Perle said
the administration's big mistake was occupying the country
rather than creating
an interim Iraqi government led by a coalition of exile groups
to take over after Hussein was toppled.

[This is absolutely idiotic.
Suppose, as Perle desired,
that after Hussein was toppled
a coalition of exile groups had formed an interim Iraqi government.
Why would the people of Iraq show the slightest loyalty or allegiance
to that government?

Where is the slightest clue
that the people of Iraq want to be governed by those Westernized exiles?
The same political dynamics that are now so visibly in play
would have pushed that government aside.

Government rests on the consent of the governed,
even, or perhaps especially, in Iraq.]

Ken Adelman: A Rat Abandons a Ship of Fools
By Ken Silverstein
Harper’s, 2006-11-21

Adelman’s hypocrisy is stunning....
“There’s always the chicken littles, running around and saying
‘oh my God, it’s terrible,’ ”
he said on Hardball, six days before the war began,
when asked about the possibility
that things might not go as smoothly as he and his fellow-hawks had predicted.

The following month, he was gloating to the New York Times that his “cakewalk” prediction had been remarkably prescient.
Adelman, according to the story,
“scorned recent complaints by retired generals and military analysts
that the Pentagon had deployed too few troops” to Iraq.
“I always thought that was ridiculous,” Adelman told the newspaper.
“It turned out they were factually wrong.
I never understood what having three times as many troops would have done.”


Adelman and other war proponents were dead wrong
when they envisioned a post-war scenario in which
Iraqis greeted American troops with flowers
and Iraq became a model democracy.

[In July 2003,] back on Hardball, Adelman—
by now a regular on the talk show circuit—
blandly stated that
there was absolutely no need to put more U.S. troops on the ground,
despite the complete failure of American forces to establish any type of order.
“I would not go reinforce the troops,” he stated confidently.
“I would accelerate the Iraqization of security.”


By April of 2004,
it was no longer possible for Adelman to deny the unraveling situation in Iraq,
but nothing, he argued,
was fundamentally wrong with the Bush Administration's strategy.
In an op-ed that month in USA Today (“Don’t change course now”),
he acknowledged a few minor problems with the hawks’ prewar statements.
“Those of us who championed Iraq’s liberation were way too sanguine,”
he wrote.
“We were wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.
Wrong about Iraqis cooperating fully after Saddam Hussein was deposed.
And probably wrong about close ties
between Saddam’s henchmen and Al Qaeda’s fanatics.”

But they were right about everything else, he maintained, and he added that
“panicky cries for a change of course must be rejected. . . .
Calling for a new U.S. approach, for its own sake,
risks undermining this battle.”
Indeed, said Adelman,
“Iraqis can’t defeat us.
Only USA Today editorials and similar worrywarts can defeat us.”

America Held Hostage
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com 2006-12-01

It's Time to Declare War on Iraq
Time, 2006-12-01

Never mind the civil war debate — the real question is
why didn't the U.S. make a war declaration in the first place?
That could bring an end to something that never should have been started.

Roots of debacle in Iraq are in neocon ideology
The leading advocates of the war were wrong about nearly every aspect of it.
By Justin Logan
Philadelphia Inquirer 2006-12-05

Neocons Move to Preempt Baker Report
by Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-06

[Emphasis is added.]

To have read the neoconservative press here over the past month,
one would think that former Secretary of State James Baker
poses the biggest threat to the United States and Israel
since Saddam Hussein.

As the ur-realist of U.S. Middle East policy who once had the temerity
to threaten to withhold U.S. aid guarantees from Israel
if former right-wing Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
failed to show up at the 1991 Madrid Conference,
Baker has long been seen by neoconservatives, as well as the Christian Right,
as close to the devil himself.

[Lobe doesn’t have the full story here.
The loan guarantees were (for a while) made conditional
on Israel halting the expansion of settlements in the West Bank

But his role as co-chairman and presumed eminence grise
of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG),
whose long-awaited recommendations
on how the U.S. can best extract itself
from a war the neoconservatives did so much to incite
will be released here Wednesday,
has provoked a new campaign of vilification
of the kind that they normally reserve for the “perfidious” French.

The specific aim of the campaign –
which has been waged virtually daily on the editorial pages of
the Wall Street Journal,
the Washington Times, and
the online and printed versions of the Weekly Standard and National Review
has been to discredit the ISG's presumed conclusions,
even before they are published.


[Baker’s] remarks set off a tidal wave of protest and criticism beginning with the published announcement in the Weekly Standard by Michael Rubin, a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), that he had resigned from an “expert working group” advising the ISG. Rubin accused Baker and his Democratic co-chair, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, of having “gerrymandered [the] advisory panels to ratify predetermined recommendations” – panels, he noted, which included Middle East experts who had actually opposed the Iraq war.

In a preview of attacks that appeared with increasing frequency over the following month, Rubin also assailed Baker for what he called the former secretary of state’s “legacy” in the Middle East – namely, his approval of the 1989 Taif Accords which “sacrificed Lebanese independence” to Syria and his “betrayal” of Kurdish and Shi’ite rebels after the first Gulf War.

Rubin was quickly followed by Eliot Cohen, a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, who, writing in the Wall Street Journal, mocked the ISG as a “collection of worthies commissioned by Congress that has spent several days in Iraq, chiefly in the Green Zone.”

“To think that either [Syria or Iran], with remarkable records of violence, duplicity, and hostility to the U.S., will rescue us bespeaks a certain willful blindness,” Cohen wrote.

The campaign against Baker and the ISG hotted up after the Nov. 7 Democratic landslide followed by the resignation of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and his replacement by Robert Gates, an ISG member who two years ago had called for negotiations with Tehran.

The Journal published a series of harsh attacks in mid-November by both Rubin and columnist Bret Stephens on Baker and other alumni, like Gates, who held top posts in the realist-dominated administration of former President George H. W. Bush.

In an appeal to “progressives” who had opposed the realism of both the Reagan and senior Bush administrations, Rubin noted that Baker served as Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff and Gates as his deputy CIA director when Washington sided with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war and “sent people across the third world to their graves in the cause of U.S. national interest.”

The following day, Stephens blamed Baker for forcing Israel to take part in the Madrid conference “which set the groundwork for the Oslo Accords [which] for Israel ... meant more terrorism, culminating in the second intifada, and for the Palestinians it meant repression in the person of Yasser Arafat and mass radicalization in the movement of Hamas.”

Things got even more personal with columns by Frank Gaffney, president of the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, and Mark Steyn in the Washington Times suggesting that Baker’s thinking
was motivated as much by anti-Semitism as by realism.

“Jim Baker’s hostility towards the Jews is a matter of record and has endeared him to Israel’s foes in the region,” wrote Gaffney, suggesting that the ISG – which, in another column published Tuesday, he called the “Iraq Surrender Group” – would recommend a regional approach similar to Madrid that would “throw free Iraq to the wolves” and “allow the Mideast’s only bona fide democracy, the Jewish State, to be snuffed in due course.”

Indeed, the past week has witnessed a veritable orgy of Baker- and ISG-bashing, beginning with a Weekly Standard article by former Republican House of Representatives Speaker and AEI fellow Newt Gingrich that warned that “any proposal to ask Iran and Syria to help is a sign of defeat” and “appeasement.”

At the same time, the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer, an Iraq war hawk who has blamed Washington’s troubles in that country on the Iraqis themselves, resurrected the charge that “Baker gave Lebanon over to Syria as a quid pro quo” for its backing in the 1991 Gulf War and mocked the notion that “Iran and Syria have an interest in stability in Iraq.”

For sheer consistency, however, the Weekly Standard, which in this week’s edition featured no less than three articles denouncing the ISG – including one that described the Commission’s membership as “deeply reactionary” and the “K-Mart version of the Congress of Vienna” – has led the field.

[Note the WS
seems to view the term “reactionary” as being negative,
showing its fundamental heritage on the [Jewish] far left.]

In successive lead editorials by chief editor William Kristol and Robert Kagan, the magazine first assailed the notion that Washington should engage Syria and Iran as “capitulation,” and then, reassured by Bush’s declaration last week that he was not prepared to follow the ISG’s advice on talking with either Damascus or Tehran, accused Baker of having “quite deliberately created ... the disastrous impression … that the United States is about to withdraw from Iraq.”

Iraq Study Group Report
by the Iraq Study Group (the Baker/Hamilton commission)

We Can’t Wait for 2008
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-08

The Baker-Hamilton plan to get us out of Iraq is a non-starter, but...

The Iraq Study Group: None Dare Call It Treason
by Mark Rothschild
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-09

[The conclusion.
Emphasis is added but almost all links are omitted.]

The power of think tanks to shape public discussion and ultimately public policy was demonstrated before the Iraq war when public perceptions concerning Iraq were informed by a well-funded network of think tanks connected in many intimate ways to a pro-Israel political lobby that actively supported Bush’s Iraq policy.

The same actors are already marshaling against the report and the report’s subdued yet explicit linking of wider Middle East problems with Iraq:

“There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush’s June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.”

The report directly connects Israel to Iraq
in a way that unsettles Israel’s supporters, stating,

“The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East
unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict...”

Because of this, we already see, among others,
Israel and its foreign policy advocates in America piling on criticism.
Some are starting to deconstruct the report as
a defeatist document produced by a spineless liberal establishment.

The critics have something in common,
a high regard for Israel
and the notion that
Israeli foreign policy objectives are always the same as
US foreign policy objectives.

In the case of Iraq, this equation is patently false.
The United States is suffering from Bush’s adventure in Iraq
Israel is benefiting from the chaos resulting from it.

This report deserves to be read and discussed rather than blithely dismissed.
The critics may howl, yet none dare call it treason.

[That seems to be a suggestion that
those opposing the recommendations of the ISG Report
may be more motivated by the welfare of Israel than that of the United States.]

Hawks Bolster Skeptical President
The Right Rages Over Group’s Plan
By Michael Abramowitz and Glenn Kessler
Washington Post, 2006-12-10

Report on Iraq Exposes a Divide Within the G.O.P.
New York Times, 2006-12-10

[A look at the American politics
now affecting America’s future direction in Iraq and its environs.]

There's Only One Option Left: Leave
CounterPunch.com, 2006-12-11

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

No nation wants foreign troops to police their country
Muslim Arabs loathe occupying Christian armies,
especially brutal ones.

Any Arab, Sunni or Shiite, rebelling against such an occupation
would always be able to cloak himself
in nationalism, patriotism, and traditional religious values --
even if they were no better than criminals.
And this is precisely what happened in Arab Iraq.


[P]oliticians of all persuasions insist that
for U.S. forces to simply leave Iraq and turn it over to the Arabs who live there
would be a disaster for all kinds of reasons --
terrorism, regional instability and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Disengaging from Iraq, the argument goes,
could lead to a replay of an August 1914-style slide into regional war.

Whether true or not,
an American military force
that cannot stop firefights or kidnappings on the streets of Baghdad,
a force that is increasingly under attack from all sides,
can do little to prevent a regional war,
especially a conflict whose real issue is
the Shia-Sunni struggle for control of Mecca and Medina
and leadership of an Islamic movement that both Sunni and Shia Islamists
believe will, once unified and purified, conquer the world.


[K]nowing that
nothing with American fingerprints
will survive the withdrawal of U.S. forces

including Iraq’s corrupt and ineffective government,
the most vexing question for the Iraq Study Group is not
whether anything can be done
to prevent the United States from looking ridiculous
when the “Green Zone”
is overrun, looted and destroyed by enraged Arabs.

It’s how fast we can end the U.S. and British military occupation of Iraq,
an occupation that is both
an enormous strategic benefit to Iran and
a liability to the West and the Arab World.

Beware the Next Bipartisan War
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-12

The people who were right about Iraq
were those who rejected bipartisanship
to warn that invading Iraq was an unnecessary, unwise, and, yes, even an unjust war
that would inflame the Arab and Islamic world against us.
this group had no representative on the Baker-Hamilton Commission.

Is James Baker a Match for AIPAC?
by Paul Craig Roberts
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-14

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

The report by the Iraq Study Group is an attempt
by elder statesmen of the American political establishment
to take U.S. foreign policy out of
the incompetent hands of President Bush and
the self-serving hands of the Israeli Lobby.


The real problem is
the Israeli Lobby's powerful influence – about which the Lobby brags –
over U.S. policy in the Middle East and
Israel's inflexibility toward the Palestinians, whose land Israel has stolen.
As long as
Israel exercises a veto over U.S. policy in the Middle East,
the powder keg will remain alight.

The members of the ISG are elder statesmen.
They have held high positions and accumulated the honors.
Their careers are behind them. They have nothing to lose.
They can afford to tell the truth and to address the real problem.
President Bush lacks the knowledge, judgment, and experience
to be in the Oval Office.
He has been deceived and manipulated by neoconservatives
who live in the fantasy world of their own ideology and
who have been aligned with Israel's right-wing Likud Party
for most of their careers.

[N]eoconservatives still occupy media positions,
which they will continue to use
to lie to the American public....
[T]he Israeli Lobby might again succeed
in overthrowing American public opinion and
win its war against the Iraq Study Group.

Stubborn or Stalwart, Bush Is Loath to Budge
By Peter Baker
Washington Post, 2006-12-17

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

[Bush] went out of his way last week
to give the appearance of a man genuinely seeking new ideas
as he shuffled between
the White House,
the State Department and
the Pentagon's ultra-secure "tank,"
and then delayed making a decision while he and his team debated the options.

[“a man genuinely seeking new ideas”: Ha!
For his outside “expert” he called upon the arch warmongerer, Eliot Cohen.
The only “new ideas” Eliot Cohen is likely to come up with
involve prolonging this un-winnable war, not seeking ways to end it.

The article ends with this quote from another Jewish warmongerer:]

“He changes his mind all the time, as any thinking human being would,”
said David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter and sometime critic.
“He probably changes his mind somewhat less than other politicians do,
but he's not set in concrete.”
Having said that, Frum said Iraq is too critical to waver on.
“A lot of people want him to change his mind
on the central decision of his presidency.
And on that, he hasn't, he shouldn't, and he won't.”

Surging To Defeat In Iraq
W. Patrick Lang and Ray McGovern
TomPaine.com, 2006-12-18

W. Patrick Lang is a retired Army colonel who served with Special Forces in Vietnam, as an instructor at West Point, and as Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East. Ray McGovern was also an Army infantry/intelligence officer before his 27-year career as a CIA analyst. Both are with Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

As Robert Gates takes the helm at the Pentagon today,
he is probably already aware that
Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush
are resolute in their decision
to stay the course in Iraq (without using those words) for the next two years.
What he probably does not realize is that
the U.S. military is about to commit hara-kiri.


Bush has gotten one thing right;
there will indeed be no “graceful exit.”
That goes in spades, if he sends still more troops.

Democrats Prepare to Fund Longer War
CounterPunch.com, 2006-12-19

This last Sunday Harry Reid,
the incoming Democratic majority leader in the US Senate,
went on ABC's Sunday morning show
and declared that a hike in U.S. troops in Iraq is okay with him.

Here's the evolution of the Democrats' war platform since November 7, 2006,
the day the voters presented a clear mandate:
"End the war! Get out of Iraq!"
and took the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives
away from the Republicans.

So somewhat to their surprise
the Democrats recaptured both the Senate and the House.
Then they went to work--to obliterate the mandate.
The first thing they did was reject Jack Murtha,
the man who said "Quit Now" in 2005.
They voted down Murtha as House majority leader
and picked the pro-war Steny Hoyer.

Then Nancy Pelosi chose Silvestre Reyes as House Intelligence Committee chairman.
Reyes promptly told Newsweek,
"We're not going to have stability in Iraq
until we eliminate those militias, those private armies.
We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq,
to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq.
I would say 20,000 to 30,000-
for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled,
working in concert with the Iraqi military."


Next, House Democrats
welcomed the Iraq Study Group report of James Baker and Jim Hamilton
by promptly reaffirming the "Palestinian Terror Bill 2006",
written by AIPAC.

Then, on December 17 the Democrats' Senate leader, Harry Reid,
said it was okay with him to send more troops to Iraq.
This was the same Sunday morning that Colin Powell, appearing on CBS,
said a troop increase "cannot be sustained" and that
the thousands of additional U.S. soldiers sent into Baghdad since the summer
had been unable to stabilize the city
and more probably could not tip the balance.

Yesterday, it was instructive to go to the Democratic websites
in the wake of Reid's statement.
Nothing on Daily Kos, nothing on Truthout, nothing on any of them.
They had many words about Republican warmongering,
about McCain's call for more troops.
About Reid, one of the top Democratic leaders,
about the evolving Democratic posture--nothing.


At least Gordon Smith can publicly concede that as things stand,
the Iraq mission is a disaster, and quitting time is here.
No prominent Democrats in Congress but Jack Murtha
can bring themselves to do that
The language is always of pleasing schedules, in which
a (fictional) entity called the Iraqi Army,
at the disposition of an (imaginary) power called the Iraqi government,
can be welded into an (entirely fantastical) nonsectarian force
by (as yet unavailable and putatively suicidal) US military trainers.


You would have thought that Democrats would rush to hang their hats
on the the bipartisan ISG report, calling for cut and walk.
But the long-awaited report is dead shortly after arrival.
There aren't more than a handful or so of Democrats
who are going to be caught in the same room as a report
that calls for the return of the Golan Heights to Syria
and dares to raise
the issue of the right of return of Palestinians to their homeland.

In America these days
persons in political life can describe reality

only if they are self-employed, with a guaranteed independent income
and above 75 years of age.
Jimmy Carter and James Baker are two prime examples of this truth.
Otherwise fantasy rules in Congress and the press,
which has consistently misrepresented the extent of the disaster in Iraq,
preferring to promote fatal illusions about a viable central government
and fantasies of the US being able to shape a new model army of Iraqis.

Since the elections of November 7, elite liberal consensus,
as represented by the Democratic leadership
and major opinion formers such as the editors of the New York Times,
has rallied to the notion of a "surge" in U.S. troops in Iraq.

[Note well that before the election elite liberal opinion
was furiously selling the idea of how poorly the war was going,
and that a vote for the Democrats was a vote against the war.
(I personally heard that view
from numerous Democrats whose stance on the war I questioned.)
But that was before the election.
With the Republicans thoroughly pushed back,
now the Dems can show their true values:
More war for Israel!]


no reporter has played a more assiduous role in fostering this "surge" option
than [Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times],
a man who somehow skipped free of the misreporting charges
that finally caught up with his former colleague Judith Miller,
even though he shared a byline with Miller in the very worst report,
the claim that aluminum tubes were hard evidence of Saddam's WMD program.

In the past months, in the Times and on CNN
Gordon has been laying down a propaganda barrage
against speedy withdrawal and for a hike in US troop numbers in Iraq.
When Murtha ran for the House majority leadership position,
the New York Times front-paged two stories by Gordon
attacking Murtha's advocacy of rapid withdrawal, and promoting a troop increase.

At the Washington Post, which editorialized against Murtha's bid, David Ignatius has similarly been fostering the impression of feasible options in Iraq.
"With enough troops and aggressive tactics,"
Ignatius wrote earlier this year,
"American forces can bring order to even the meanest streets."...

So here we have the Times's and Post's lead reporter/commentators on the war
diligently promulgating the core fantasy:
that the United States has options beyond accepting defeat.
The vast majority of Iraqis want US forces out.
Militarily, the United States has been defeated.
Diplomatically it is isolated.
Politically it is immobilized.


As we warned after the election,
the role of the Democrats will be to ease through a troop increase.

Napoleon in the White House
Iraq is Bush's Waterloo – will it be America's, too?
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-20

Iraq: The War of the Imagination
By Mark Danner
New York Review of Books, 2006-12-21

[This is a long discussion of the Iraq War,
organized around a review of three books:
  • State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III
    by Bob Woodward,
  • The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
    by Ron Suskind, and
  • State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
    by James Risen

Who Might Be Shooting at Both Sides?
Thirteen groups that favor chaos in Iraq
by Jon Basil Utley
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-26

Baghdad Burning: End of Another Year...
by "Riverbend"


Mission Accomplished
The War Party meant to destroy Iraq – and so they did
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-03

Keane/Kagan Plan Means More Bloodshed
by Paul Craig Roberts
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-03

Bush's proposal, if he makes it,
is the work of retired army general Jack Keane
and Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute.
AEI is the second most important Israeli lobby in Washington after AIPAC.


The neoconservatives' original plan was
to give Israel hegemony in the Middle East
by using the U.S. military to overthrow Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
The failure of U.S. forces to subdue Iraq
has led to a new neoconservative plan
to give Israel supremacy
by spreading sectarian conflict among Muslims throughout the region.
No Arab state would be stable,
and Israel could proceed with its seizure of Palestine.

Former Officers Warn 'Surge' in Iraq Could Place Fatal Strain on U.S. Military
Fox News, 2007-01-03

The Real Iraq Study Group
By Mark Benjamin
Salon.com, 2007-01-06

Forget Jim Baker's crew.
The neocon hawks who sold the war, joined by John McCain and Joe Lieberman,
unveiled their new plan for "victory":
At least 25,000 new troops in combat roles well into 2008.


Unlike the much ballyhooed Iraq Study Group,
these are the people President Bush listens to,
many of them the same influential voices who were predicting in 2002
that the war would establish a flower of democracy in the Middle East.

[A point that Benjamin overlooks:
These are also the people
that command the Op-Ed page of the Washington Post--
the Kagans, Krauthammers, Kristols, Kaplans and Kissingers
(what's with all these warmongering Jewish Ks?).
How often do you hear the voices of the paleocons on that page
versus the neocons?
To the WP, the paleocons hardly exist.
Yet more proof of how Jewish money and power
has corrupted both media and politics in Washington.]

Here’s a comment from the author of this blog on the “surge” option.

The supposed scholar, Frederick W. Kagan,
says that the troops for the surge “do exist.”
Well, maybe they do.
But if they are used now, for short-term uses in Iraq,
what is left in strategic reserve?
If the Islamic world, seeing the U.S. so tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq,
unleashes a further surprise,
say involving the Pakistani nukes or the Saudi oil fields,
what then?
If Kim in North Korea decides to take advantage of U.S. over-extension,
what then?

The idiots at AEI could care less about responsibility to American interests—
as long as they entangle American in an endless war with the Muslim world,
it just eases the pressure on Israel.
What else matters to them?
And the media, by and large, lets them get away with it.

Bush's Rush to Armageddon
By Robert Parry
Consortiumnew.com, 2007-01-08

George W. Bush has purged senior military and intelligence officials
who were obstacles to a wider war in the Middle East,
broadening his options for both
escalating the conflict inside Iraq and
expanding the fighting to Iran and Syria with Israel’s help.

On Jan. 4, Bush ousted the top two commanders in the Middle East,
Generals John Abizaid and George Casey,
who had opposed a military escalation in Iraq,
and removed Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte,
who had stood by intelligence estimates
downplaying the near-term threat from Iran’s nuclear program.

Most Washington observers have treated Bush’s shake-up as either routine or part of his desire for a new team to handle his planned “surge” of U.S. troops in Iraq.
But intelligence sources say
the personnel changes also fit with a scenario
for attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities
and seeking violent regime change in Syria.

Bush appointed Admiral William Fallon as the new chief of Central Command for the Middle East despite the fact that Fallon, a former Navy fighter pilot and currently head of the Pacific Command, will oversee two ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The choice of Fallon makes more sense if Bush foresees a bigger role for two aircraft carrier groups now poised off Iran’s coastline, such as support for possible Israeli air strikes against Iran’s nuclear targets or as a deterrent against any overt Iranian retaliation.

Though not considered a Middle East expert, Fallon has moved in neoconservative circles, for instance, attending a 2001 awards ceremony at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a think tank dedicated to explaining “the link between American defense policy and the security of Israel.”

Defund the War
The Democrats say they can’t – and won’t
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-08

The Surge: Political Cover or Escalation?
by Paul Craig Roberts
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-09

Neocon godfather Norman Podhoretz set out the plan for Middle East conquest
several years ago in Commentary magazine.
[Roberts does not specify which article he is referring to,
but a likely candidate is Podhoretz’s well-known 2002-02 article
How to Win World War IV,”
published immediately after, and in direct response to, 9/11.]

It is a plan for Muslim genocide.
In place of physical extermination of Muslims,
Podhoretz advocates their cultural destruction by deracination.
Islam is to be torn out by the roots
and reduced to a purely formal shell devoid of any real beliefs.

Podhoretz disguises the neoconservative attack against diversity
with contrived arguments, but its real purpose is
to use the US military to subdue Arabs
and to create space for Israel to expand.

Escaping the Trap: Why the United States Must Leave Iraq

Statement of

Ted Galen Carpenter
Vice President, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies
Cato Institute

before the

Senate Foreign Relations Committee


Make Them Fight All of Us
by Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times, 2007-01-12

[An excerpt from Friedman’s protected column:]

But please, Mr. President, stop insulting our intelligence
by telling us that this is the “decisive ideological struggle of our time,”
but we’re going to put the whole burden of victory on 150,000 U.S. soldiers.
Yes, you’re right,
confronting violent Islamic radicalism
by trying to tilt Iraq and the Arab-Muslim world
onto a more progressive track

is indeed hugely important.
But the way you have fought this war -- with our pinky -- is contemptible.
For three years
you would not summon the military means to back your lofty ends.

[Here Friedman gives away one of the reasons, and assumptions,
of why the media elite has gone to such great lengths
first to get us into this war and now to justify our pursuing it:
The desire to
“tilt Iraq and the Arab-Muslim world
onto a more progressive track
Their assumption, which I believe is erroneous,
is that a “more progressive” Muslim world
would be one with fewer grievances against the Zionist entity.
There is not the slightest reason to believe that that is so.
For instance, as is now widely noted,
Saddam’s Iraq was far friendlier to feminist values,
and to its religious minorities,
than what is replacing it.
Thus, by standard definitions, it was more progressive,
yet that certainly didn’t stop AIPAC’s stooges
from first demonizing it and then destroying it.
This vision of a “more progressive” Middle East
is just an attempt to lure progressives into supporting
what is in reality a war to make the Muslim world
hate America as much as it historically has hated Israel.
Israel is guilty of driving millions of Palestinians
from their rightful homes and of subjugating those remaining in the West Bank;
America is guilty of its war of aggression against Iraq,
trying to force the elite’s notion of “progressivism”
on people who are violently rejecting it.
Who wants America to remain in Iraq?
The Kurds and a few members of the puppet regime.
That’s not enough justification for us to remain there.
While we surely want to defend America against terrorism,
inflicting a government on Iraq that its own people do not want
is neither morally justifiable nor practically reasonable.

Note also, liberals, that it is your progressive media
that has done so much to sell the war.
Forget the excuses about
Texas oil-men, Halliburton, and the corporations.
It is a hideous combination of
Zionists seeking to advance the interests of Israel,
feminists, and progressive Christians
who are sabotaging all efforts to normalize our relations
with the (largely conservative) Muslim world.

For a book-length exposition of how
America’s misguided effort to impose its liberal/progressive values on the world
causes resentment and hatred towards the U.S.,
see Dinesh D’Souza’s
The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.]

Bush’s Last Stand
The War Party is down, but not out
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-12

Some comments by the author of the blog on the Libby/Plame affair:

It seems amazing to me that the media, Democrats, and judicial system
managed to devote so much attention
to the leak that Valerie Plame was a CIA employee,
leading to the prosecution of Scooter Libby on charges of perjury.
In the vast panorama of acts of commission and omission
which led to America’s misguided invasion of Iraq,
that leak was very, very small beer.
Why pay so much media attention to it?
(Did the media really have no more important stories to cover?)
I think the only plausible answer is
that it was just used as a way to attack the Bush administration
and, they wished, that bête noire of the Democrats, Karl Rove.

The most over-covered, over-hyped story of the lead-up to the war.

Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions
What Can Be Done in Iraq?

by Lt. Gen. William E. Odom (U.S. Army, Ret.)

Text of testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,

Show Me The Intelligence
by Ray McGovern
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-20

The Trial of Dick Cheney
Scooter's in the dock – but his boss is the one being accused
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-24

[This is interesting mainly for its discussion of splits within the War Party:
the neocons versus Bush loyalists.]

Iraq's Only Hope: To Collapse
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
LewRockwell.com, 2007-01-25

[Emphasis is added.]

The lessons of Iraq pose challenges for our understanding of the state.
Consider the gap that separates the Bush administration’s original theory
with the reality on the ground today.
The idea was that the Iraqi government would be "decapitated,"
and that once Saddam and his few henchmen were crushed,
the country could breathe free
and get on with the business of building a great society....
The Bush administration had the idea that
the Iraqi state was somehow artificially imposed on an otherwise stable society.
The reality is otherwise.


[T[he Bush administration's fateful error was not in overthrowing Saddam
(I'm leaving aside the issue of imperialism here:
the law of nations allows no state the right to overthrow foreign despots).
Rather, the fateful error of the Bush administration
was in attempting to create a new state.

This is what cannot be done, and
the very possibility of a new central state
is precisely what has set off the bloodshed.

It is not the case that the groups in Iraq cannot get along.
What they cannot do is
get along under a central state ruled by some other group.
This is the basis of the bloodshed.

So what should happen?
The US should abandon Baghdad.
It should, in effect, allow the country to “fall apart”
in the same way that Gorbachev let his empire dissolve.
Iraq would split into many states, some of them noncontiguous.
Governing units of all shapes and sizes would appear.
The main reason for the ghastly killing –
fear of the rule by one group over another –
would vanish.
Here is the highest hope for peace in Iraq.

So long as the US insists that Iraq be a single nation under one government,
it will inspire chaos and killing.
Bush was wrong, but in a way that is usually not understood.
His mistake was not in overthrowing the state
but in hoping to create and control a new one.

[Rockwell, in case you didn’t guess, is a libertarian.]

Who Is the Enemy?
by Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-30

The Crime of the Century
by Paul Craig Roberts
Antiwar.com, 2007-01-31

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
by Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski


Iraq National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) -
“Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead”
Unclassified Key Judgments
Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2007-02-02

[For this document and
commentary on and analyses of it by Michael Scheuer and others,
see here.]

Neocons to Iraq: Screw You
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-02-05

Charles Krauthammer: moral monster

The Pentagon's Secret Air War in Iraq
by Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt
Antiwar.com, 2007-02-08

The Pentagon's not-so-little secret
As the president and Republicans continue to hype the surge --
and stifle debate about it --
Bush's own war planners are preparing for failure in Iraq.
By Sidney Blumenthal
Salon.com, 2007-02-08

Deep within the bowels of the Pentagon,
policy planners are conducting secret meetings to discuss what to do
in the worst-case scenario in Iraq about a year from today
if and when President Bush's escalation of more than 20,000 troops fails,
a participant in those discussions told me.
None of those who are taking part in these exercises,
shielded from the public view and the immediate scrutiny of the White House,
believes that the so-called surge will succeed.
On the contrary, everyone thinks it will not only fail to achieve its aims
but also accelerate instability
by providing a glaring example of U.S. incapacity and incompetence.

Criminals Control the Executive Branch
by Paul Craig Roberts
Antiwar.com, 2007-02-10

Gentle reader, you are probably unaware of
former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski’s
damning indictment of the Bush Regime
in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 1, 2007,
as the United States no longer has a media –
only a government propaganda ministry.

Brzezinski damned the Bush Regime’s war in Iraq as
“a historic, strategic, and moral calamity.”
Brzezinski damned the war as
“driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris.”
He damned the war for
“intensifying regional instability” and for
“undermining America’s global legitimacy.”

Finally, a voice with weight speaks.
Brzezinski is a real intellect, a real expert,
unlike the political hacks who have followed him in the office.

Brzezinski told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that
“the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be
a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam.”
Brzezinski predicts
“some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran;
culminating in a ‘defensive’ U.S. military action against Iran
that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire
eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.”

Victory Is Not an Option
The Mission Can’t Be Accomplished -- It’s Time for a New Strategy
By William E. Odom
Washington Post, 2007-02-11

[This is an exceptionally valuable analysis,
coming from a man with rich credentials for the subject,
having served as chief of Army intelligence,
plus having devoted his post-Army career to national security studies.
He knows the Army’s capabilities and limitations,
and the situation in Iraq.

Here is an excerpt from his article; emphasis is added.]

The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq
starkly delineates the gulf that separates
President Bush’s illusions from the realities of the war.
Victory, as the president sees it, requires
a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American.
The NIE describes a war that has
no chance of producing that result.
In this critical respect,
the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is
a declaration of defeat.


We face great peril in that troubled region,
and improving our prospects will be difficult.
First of all, it will require, from Congress at least,
public acknowledgment that the president’s policy
is based on illusions, not realities.
There never has been any right way to invade and transform Iraq.
Most Americans need no further convincing,
but two truths ought to put the matter beyond question:

the assumption that
the United States could create a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq
defies just about everything known by professional students of the topic.

Of the more than 40 democracies created since World War II,
fewer than 10 can be considered truly “constitutional” --
meaning that
their domestic order is protected by a broadly accepted rule of law,
and has survived for at least a generation.
None is a country with Arabic and Muslim political cultures.
None has deep sectarian and ethnic fissures like those in Iraq.

American political scientists whose business it is to know these things
have been irresponsibly quiet.

In the lead-up to the March 2003 invasion,
neoconservative agitators shouted insults at
anyone who dared to mention the many findings of academic research
on how democracies evolve.
They also ignored our own struggles over two centuries
to create the democracy Americans enjoy today.
Somehow Iraqis are now expected to create a constitutional order
in a country with no conditions favoring it.

This is not to say that Arabs cannot become liberal democrats.
When they immigrate to the United States, many do so quickly.
[A point Odom does not mention:
A self-selection process is going on here.
Those who immigrate to the United States are fairly obviously
precisely those Iraqis who desire to live in a liberal democracy,
not those who would fight against one.]

But it is to say that Arab countries,
as well as a large majority of all countries,
find creating a stable constitutional democracy beyond their capacities.

to expect any Iraqi leader who can hold his country together
to be pro-American, or to share American goals,
is to abandon common sense.

It took the United States more than a century
to get over its hostility toward British occupation.
(In 1914, a majority of the public favored supporting Germany against Britain.)
Every month of the U.S. occupation,
polls have recorded Iraqis’ rising animosity toward the United States. [E.g.]
Even supporters of an American military presence
say that it is acceptable temporarily
and only to prevent either of the warring sides in Iraq from winning.
Today the Iraqi government survives only because
its senior members and their families
live within the heavily guarded Green Zone,
which houses the U.S. Embassy and military command.

Feeding the Guerillas
Combating Iraq’s militias means declaring war on the communities they govern.
by Martin Sieff
American Conservative, 2007-02-12

Think 20,000 more American troops in Baghdad
will make Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and the other Iraqi militias
roll over and say uncle?
Think again.

The Bush administration’s policymaking in Iraq
remains where it has always been—
at least three years behind what is actually happening on the ground.
Gen. Dave Petraeus is being sent out as the new U.S. ground forces commander.
Middle and junior level U.S. Army and Marine officers
are eagerly snapping up copies of the just republished paperback version of
Sir Alistair Horne’s A Savage War of Peace,
his classic account of the Algerian War of Independence against France.
(Let us here pause to note that Paul Wolfowitz,
in testimony before a congressional committee,
referred to it as a war against Spanish colonial occupation.
He couldn’t even get that right.)
None of this will make the slightest bit of difference.


As the Battle of Baghdad escalates in the coming months,
the book American combat officers will find most timely to read
for useful and accurate historical analogies
will no longer be Savage War of Peace
but another recent classic of military history
by another British historian of renown:
Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-43 by Anthony Beevor.

Breakdown At The Iraq Lie Factory
by Robert Dreyfuss
TomPaine.com, 2007-02-15

The Democrats’ Iraq Civil War
by David Corn
TomPaine.com, 2007-02-22

Majority in Poll Favor Deadline For Iraq Pullout
By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post, 2007-02-27

With Congress preparing for renewed debate over President Bush’s Iraq policies,
a majority of Americans now
support setting a deadline
for withdrawing U.S. forces from the war-torn nation and
support putting new conditions on the military
that could limit the number of personnel available for duty there,
according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

(Summary graphic; full poll data)

The Better Part of Valor
Why the Murtha plan to get us out of Iraq won't
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-02-28

Where Are The Democrats?
When it comes to Iraq, the opposition party is afraid to oppose.
by Terry Michael
Reason, 2007-03

Rescinding the Bush Doctrine
by Andrew J. Bacevich
Boston Globe, 2007-03-01

Will We Suffer from the Iraq Syndrome?
by Ira Chernus and Tom Engelhardt
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-02

In recent days, we’ve have two reports on timing,
when it comes to the future of the president’s “surge” plan for Baghdad.
According to Richard A. Oppel of the New York Times,
“The plan, which calls for 17,000 additional troops in Baghdad,
will continue until at least this fall,
the second-ranking commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno,
told CNN on Wednesday.
‘I don’t want to put an exact time on it,
but a minimum of six to nine months.’”
On the other hand, Simon Tisdale of the British Guardian reports that
the new military “brain trust,” headed by Lt. General David H. Petraeus,
which has just surged into Baghdad’s Green Zone,
is operating on a more truncated schedule.
Petraeus’s men,
who believe themselves to be working with too little of everything,
especially boots on the ground –
since the Iraqi government has once again not delivered its promised full contingents –
have “concluded the US has six months to win the war in Iraq –
or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support
that could force the military into a hasty retreat.”

Give me a buck for every predicted six-to-nine month window of opportunity
from the military or the White House in the last four years
and I’d be rich as Croesus....

Will Iraq Become the Democrats’ War?
by David Swanson and Tom Engelhardt
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-05

Time to Put Politics (and Dem Politicians) Aside
by Joshua Frank
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-05

Containing Iraq’s Civil War Is Not the Answer
by Ivan Eland
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-06

What Was Scooter’s Real Job, Anyway?
by Nicholas von Hoffman
TheNation.com, 2007-03-06

Why does a Vice President have a chief of staff?
The Vice President has no administrative functions.
Why does he need a staff or a chief to run it?
And why should he have a National Security Adviser?
The President already has one.
Why should the Vice President have one, too?

Why Cheney Lost It When Joe Wilson Spoke Out
by Ray McGovern
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-08

The Washington Dodgers
by William S. Lind
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-08

It’s springtime for Congress,
and the Washington Dodgers are batting 1,000 in the exhibition season.
No, I’m not talking about baseball.
I have just enough interest in sports to know that
the Dodgers play in Los Angeles and Washington’s baseball team is the Nationals.
The Dodgers I’m talking about
are the Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate,
for whom it is always exhibition season and
dodging means not ending the war in Iraq.

The ‘Surge’ Is Succeeding
By Robert Kagan
Washington Post, 2007-03-11

[This shows how, even on 2007-03-11,
wildly optimistic, not to say out of touch with reality,
neocons can be.
Here is a sample (emphasis is added):]

The conventional wisdom in December held that
sending more troops was politically impossible
after the antiwar tenor of the midterm elections.
It was practically impossible because
the extra troops didn’t exist.
Even if the troops did exist, they could not make a difference.

Four months later,
the once insurmountable political opposition has been surmounted.
The nonexistent troops are flowing into Iraq.

[Take a look at (some of) what Kagan ignores:But then don’t the neo-imperialists always try to hide
the costs of the policies they prescribe?

Note that the Graham family gives him
access to the WaPo’s op-ed page once a month,
as part of its homage to Israel and its lobby in America.]

Spinned Surge
Don't buy the claims that the military escalation in Iraq is working.
By Justin Logan
The American Prospect, 2007-03-13

[A response to the article 2007-03-11-Kagan by Robert Kagan above.]

Why Is the US Backing Sunni Jihadists?
An interview with Seymour Hersh
by Charles Goyette
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-13

Olmert tells AIPAC:
Early Iraq exit would destabilize entire Mideast

By Shmuel Rosner
Haaretz, 2007-03-13

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday
warned the United States against a quick departure from Iraq,
saying it would lead to instability in the region
and undermine Washington's ability to deal with emerging threats.

“Those who are concerned
for Israel's security,
for the security of the Gulf States and
for the stability of the entire Middle east
should recognize the need for American success in Iraq and responsible exit,”

Olmert said in remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“Any outcome that will not help America's strength and would,
in the eyes of the people in the region,
undercut America's ability to deal effectively
with the threat posed by the Iranian regime
will be very negative,”

Olmert said.

Speaking by a video link from Israel,
Olmert named Iran as the greatest threat to Israel
and said it was building sophisticated weaponry systems
and trying to create nuclear capacity.

“When we hear such threats ...
we have no choice but to take it seriously
and we must address ourselves to these threats,”

Olmert said.

Denouement on Iraq: First Stop the Bleeding
Memo to Congressional Leaders on Iraq Funding
by Ray McGovern
Antiwar.com, 2007-03-16

Speaker of the House
Senate Majority Leader

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Denouement on Iraq: First Stop the Bleeding

In Iraq, All Terribly Familiar
By Chuck Hagel
Washington Post Outlook, 2007-04-22

Baghdad’s Fissures and Mistrust Keep Political Goals Out of Reach
By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post, 2007-04-25

[A long look at the prospects for Iraqi action
on the “benchmarks” so desired by the American establishment,
with many comments from Iraqi politicians on their considerations.]

Hagel’s Stand
by Robert Novak
Washington Post, 2007-04-30

(also available under the title:
Conservative Hagel: Iraq’s ‘coming undone’)

The Failure of the ‘Mainstream’
The media, the intellectuals, and the politicians all failed us
in the run-up to war
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-05-07

Charles Goyette Interviews Gen. William Odom
interview with ret. Lt. Gen. William Odom
Antiwar.com, 2007-05-10

What We Got Right in Iraq
By L. Paul Bremer
Washington Post, 2007-05-13

Once conventional wisdom congeals, even facts can’t shake it loose.
These days, everyone “knows” that
the Coalition Provisional Authority made two disastrous decisions
at the beginning of the U.S. occupation of Iraq:
to vengefully drive members of the Baath Party from public life and
to recklessly disband the Iraqi army.
The most recent example is former CIA chief George J. Tenet,
whose new memoir pillories me for those decisions
(even though I don’t recall his ever objecting to either call
during our numerous conversations in my 14 months leading the CPA).
Similar charges are unquestioningly repeated in books and articles.
Looking for a neat, simple explanation for our current problems in Iraq,
pundits argue that these two steps
alienated the formerly ruling Sunnis,
created a pool of angry rebels-in-waiting and
sparked the insurgency that’s raging today.
The conventional wisdom is as firm here [in Washington] as it gets.
It’s also dead wrong.


Here’s how the decisions were made.
Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the head of the military’s U.S. Central Command,
outlawed the Baath Party on April 16, 2003.
The day before I left for Iraq in May,
Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith presented me with a draft law
that would purge top Baathists from the Iraqi government
and told me that he planned to issue it immediately.
Recognizing how important this step was,
I asked Feith to hold off, among other reasons,
so I could discuss it with Iraqi leaders and CPA advisers.
A week later, after careful consultation,
I issued this “de-Baathification” decree,
as drafted by the Pentagon.

[One wonders with whom, and what parts of the U.S. government,
did Bremer consult?]


I’ll admit that I’ve grown weary of being a punching bag over these decisions — particularly from critics who’ve
never spent time in Iraq,
don’t understand its complexities and
can’t explain what we should have done differently.
These two sensible and moral calls did not create today’s insurgency.
Intelligence material we discovered after the war began showed that
Hussein’s security forces had long planned to wage such a revolt.

No doubt some members of the Baath Party and the old army
have joined the insurgency.
But they are not fighting because
they weren’t given a chance to earn a living.
They’re fighting because
they want to topple a democratically elected government
and reestablish a Baathist dictatorship.
The true responsibility for today’s bloodshed
rests with these people and their al-Qaeda collaborators.

‘What Kind of Democracy Is This?’
A grieving father wants to know
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-05-23

All deaths in Iraq are tragic, all equally so:
to argue otherwise might be construed as not holding all people equal.
But when the son of a prominent public intellectual,
one who in fact has written extensively on war in general
and the war in Iraq in particular, dies,
there is an extra poignancy and pathos.
Such is the case with the death of Andrew Bacevich.

His father asked the question

“What kind of democracy is this
when the people do speak and the peoples voice is unambiguous –
but nothing happens?”

Perhaps a media figure might be brave enough
to pose this question to Richard Cheney,
and not settle for a brushoff,
but either get a reasonable, responsive answer,
or make it abundantly clear that Cheney is unwilling or unable
to answer that very appropriate question.

Raimondo goes on in his article to point out how almost all
(of the presidential candidates, Ron Paul is the rare exception)
of our political class
is putting America on a course to indefinite war with much of the Islamic world,
making this death just a particularly prominent one of mamy, many to come
unless America makes some much-needed fundamental changes in its foreign policy.

I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose.
We Were Both Doing Our Duty.

By Andrew J. Bacevich
Washington Post Outlook, 2007-05-27

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed.
The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudiation
of the policies that landed us in our present predicament.
But half a year later, the war continues, with no end in sight.
Indeed, by sending more troops to Iraq
(and by extending the tours of those, like my son, who were already there),
Bush has signaled his complete disregard
for what was once quaintly referred to as “the will of the people.”

To be fair, responsibility for the war’s continuation
now rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress
than with the president and his party.
After my son’s death, my state’s senators,
Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry,
telephoned to express their condolences.
Stephen F. Lynch, our congressman, attended my son’s wake.
Kerry was present for the funeral Mass.
My family and I greatly appreciated such gestures.
But when I suggested to each of them the necessity of ending the war,
I got the brushoff.
More accurately, after ever so briefly pretending to listen,
each treated me to a convoluted explanation that said in essence:
Don’t blame me.

To whom do Kennedy, Kerry and Lynch listen?
We know the answer:
to the same people who have the ear of George W. Bush and Karl Rove --
namely, wealthy individuals and institutions.

Money buys access and influence.
Money greases the process that will yield us a new president in 2008.
When it comes to Iraq, money ensures that the concerns of
big business,
big oil,
bellicose evangelicals and
Middle East allies
gain a hearing.
By comparison, the lives of U.S. soldiers figure as an afterthought.


Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics.
It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels.
It preserves intact the cliches of 1933-45 about
isolationism, appeasement and the nation’s call to “global leadership.”
It inhibits any serious accounting
of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing.
It ignores completely the question of who actually pays.
It negates democracy,
rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent.

This is not some great conspiracy.
It’s the way our system works.

I think Mr. Bacevich’s identification
of the interests who support war with Iraq
is a little misleading.
On the one hand,
the case that “big business” is behind the war seems a little weak to many;
on the other hand, “Middle East allies” seems strangely broad.
Is there any other “Middle East ally” other than Israel that favored this war?
(For Israel’s current opinion, still supporting the war, see here.)
Strangely, the article nowhere mentions Israel.
Perhaps professors at BU are well advised not to dwell too much
on Israel’s role in instigating the war.

Those interested in seeing such thoughts developed further might consult:

Scowcroft Vindicated, Congress and White House Shamed
by Ralph R. Reiland
Antiwar.com, 2007-06-12

[The headline, and article, are accurate as far as they go,
but sadly, as is so often the case, they don’t go far enough.
They chastise the White House and Congress for not asking the right questions,
but not the media.

The article brings up Scowcroft’s op-ed in the WSJ,
and also the following cautions from the past:
President George H.W. Bush,
after the 1991 Gulf War in which Iraqi forces were pushed out of Kuwait,
explained why U.S. forces didn’t continue on to Baghdad and topple Saddam.
“It would have been disastrous,” said Bush.
“America in an Arab land, with no allies at our side.”

Similarly, Dick Cheney, secretary of defense during the Gulf War,
said in 1992:
“The question in my mind is,
how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?
And the answer is, not that damned many.”
To recall these words of Bush-41 and Cheney from the 1990s
did not require reading the now-much-harped-on 2002 Iraq NIE.
Why did the media not give these cautions, freely available in the public domain,
the proper emphasis before the war?
The only reasonable answer,
although almost no one will publicly acknowledge it,
is that
the media wanted the war at least as much as Bush and Cheney did.
All of these, the politicians and the media,
were reacting to the same underlying event-drivers:
AIPAC, the Israel Lobby, and Israel itself.]

Has Baghdad Captured Petraeus?
by Stuart A.P. Murray
CommonDreams.org, 2007-06-13

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]


With Petraeus’s troops scattered in company-sized units
planted in vulnerable outposts
throughout the city’s ever-dangerous neighborhoods,
the American army is being made captive.
Captive to the teeming, violent city of Baghdad.
Captive to the anti-occupation insurgents,
who now have the initiative to strike when and where they choose.
Have President George Bush and the “Neoconservatives”
and our leading military commanders
walked into a trap of their own making in Baghdad?

More important, more crucial:

What if the Iraqi puppet government collapses,
and with it go the army and police -
essential allies in any block-by-block contest?

And if the Iraqi insurgents
make it too costly in terms of truck drivers’ lives and helicopters
to supply those thousands of duty-bound soldiers in their scattered outposts,
how do we extricate them?

[Note to decision makers:
the navy and, to a considerable extent, the air force
won’t be worth a rat’s ass in that case.
Have you ever heard of Dien Bien Phu?]

[T]he main American supply bases are far away -
mostly to the south, in Kuwait and other client states.
Vital American supply lines are vulnerable to being cut
by roadside bombs and calculated, determined insurgent attacks.


Now is the time, before it is too late,
to lay the groundwork for all parties concerned with the destiny of Iraq
to forge a truce that will permit General Petraeus and his army
to leave Baghdad with some semblance of military honor.
so many American soldiers will be stationed
in vulnerable posts throughout the city
that it could be said Baghdad has captured General Petraeus.

Military’s Brave Face Begins to Crack
by Georgie Anne Geyer
UExpress.com, 2007-06-14

Sen. Levin’s False History & Logic
By Robert Parry
Consortiumnews.com, 2007-06-21

If you’re wondering why the Iraq War is likely to continue indefinitely
despite mounting public outrage and a failed military strategy,
part of the answer can be found in two words:
Carl Levin.

This Is How Empires End
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2007-07-20

The Conquest of America by Iraq
by Doug Bandow
Antiwar.com, 2007-07-20

How to Get Out of Iraq
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-07-25

Rapprochement with Iran,
hands off Iraqi politics, and
let the chips fall where they may

How to Win in Iraq
by William S. Lind
The American Conservative, 2007-07-30

A stable Iraqi state would constitute a strategic victory—
and the only one still possible.

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

To devise a successful strategy [for Iraq],
we must begin by defining what we mean by winning.
The Bush administration ...
continues to pursue the folly of maximalist objectives.
It still defines victory as it did at the war’s outset:
an Iraq that is
an American satellite,
friendly to Israel,
happy to provide the U.S. with a limitless supply of oil and
vast military bases from which American forces can dominate the region.
None of these objectives are now attainable.
None were ever attainable, no matter what our troops did.
And as long as those objectives define victory, we are doomed to defeat.

Fortunately, another objective, the one that actually matters most, may,
with luck and skill, still be achieved.
That objective—
restoring a state in what is now the stateless region of Mesopotamia
must become our new definition of victory.


Winning the war in Iraq therefore means
seeing the re-creation of an Iraqi state.
I say “seeing,” not “re-creating,” because our strategy,
if it is to have a chance of success,
must proceed from a realistic understanding of the situation in Iraq.
We do not now have the power to re-create a state in Iraq, if we ever did.
That is due in part to military failure,
but it has more to do with a problem of legitimacy.
As a foreign, Christian invader and occupier,
we cannot create any legitimate institutions in Iraq.

Quite the contrary: we have the reverse Midas touch.
Any institution we create, or merely approve of and support,
loses its legitimacy.


[T]he first component of a strategy to win in Iraq is to
establish a rapprochement with Iran.
That is, a general settlement of differences.
The Iranians have offered us such a settlement—
including a compromise on the nuclear issue—
on generous terms.

But the Bush administration, true to its hubris,
refused to consider it [!!!???],
going so far as to upbraid the Swiss for daring to forward the overture to us.
It seems, however, to remain on the table.
[See also ...]

The reason a strategy to win in Iraq
must begin with a rapprochement with Iran is that
any real Iraqi state is likely to be allied to Iran.
Even the quisling al-Maliki government cowering in the Green Zone
is close to Iran.
A legitimate Iraqi government,
which is virtually certain to be dominated by Iraq’s Shi’ites,
will probably be much closer.

A restored Iraqi state that is allied with Iran
will quickly roll up al-Qaeda and other non-state forces in Iraq,

which is the victory we most require.
But the world’s perception will still be that the United States was defeated
because its main regional rival, Iran, will emerge much strengthened.
If Iran and America are no longer enemies,
that issue becomes moot.

A rapprochement with Iran may encourage Tehran
to use its influence in Iraq to promote the revival of a state,
but that is in Iran’s interest in any case
once it is clear American troops are withdrawing.
Conversely, until it is clear that America has given up its ambitions
for large, permanent military bases in Iraq,
Iran must continue to promote instability in its neighbor.


Withdrawal from Iraq = Second Holocaust?
by Jim Lobe
LobeLog, 2007-07-29

Lobe quotes Clifford May, who wrote:
Israel will hold on – or die trying.
You can’t imagine a second Holocaust within a hundred years?
Imagine harder.

—Clifford May
Imagining Defeat
What happens if America retreats from Iraq?

Bill Kristol and the Stink of Fear
Pro-war skunk emits clouds of obfuscation
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-08-06

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
by William S. Lind
Antiwar.com, 2007-08-09

The War as We Saw It
(these men are infantrymen and noncommissioned officers
with the 82nd Airborne Division,
just finishing a fifteen-month tour in Iraq)
New York Times Sunday Op-Ed (The Week in Review), 2007-08-19

[This is a really, really outstanding statement of where we are in Iraq.
In my judgment, based on my
readings about Iraq and the Middle East,
ability to empathize with Arab and Muslim men
(I am neither, being a (male) WASP American,
but I think I have some sympathy for the Arab and Muslim people in general,
and their men in particular,
which, ahem, some of my fellow Americans seem so manifestly to lack),
and personal experience with the U.S. infantry (IOBC graduate),
this report by seven men who have endured ground-level combat in Iraq
has the real ring of truth.
I recommend it highly.

2007-09-12: A tragic follow-up.

Support Our Troops
They want us out of Iraq
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-08-22

If the op-ed page of the New York Times has often served as the first battleground in America’s wars, where the arguments and counter-arguments for intervention are debated, then the past week or so has certainly brought this institutional tradition to the fore: last week, we had Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack ....

On the other side of the barricades,
we have an article signed by seven soldiers in Iraq,
who describe the political debate in Washington –
where O’Hanlon and Pollack can get away with being called “war critics” –
as “surreal.”

AEI Sets Launch for All-or-Nothing Campaign
by Jim Lobe
LobeLog, 2007-08-24

[The beginning:]

The neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI),
which contributed so much
to the propaganda and planning for the Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation,
appears set to launch its “Defend-the-Surge” campaign in the run-up to
the presentation of and Congressional debate over the Petraeus-Crocker report
on Thursday, September 6, with an afternoon forum whose title,
“‘No Middle Way’ in Iraq,”
is suggestive of its conclusions.

Dirge for the ‘Surge’
Antiwar backlash building – in the US military
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-08-27

[An excerpt
(without the links in the original, but with emphasis added):]

Just when it seemed that the neocons would get away with
their echo chamber tactic of talking up the “success” of the “surge” –
and even getting a few Democrats to go along with
their contention that we can’t even think about pulling out now –
the War Party was hit with three major blows that have them reeling.

First and foremost is the suggestion by Marine Gen. Peter Pace,
the retiring head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
that we begin downsizing our troop commitment to Iraq –
before the over-extension of the U.S. military
snaps American readiness and fatally saps our resources.


Pace represents the institutional voice and spirit of the American military,
which has been fighting a rearguard action against the monomania of this administration.
Pace and others have been futilely calling for
some consideration of the U.S. military’s ability to carry out its existing commitments
in view of the strain placed on its resources by the Iraq and Afghan wars.
That’s why Pace is on the way out.
The same fate befell Generals Eric Shinseki and Anthony Zinni and others
who spoke up previously to defend the military’s institutional integrity.
Zinni even took on the neoconservatives,
arguing that their motives in dragging us into this unnecessary war
were and are well-known:
I think it’s the worst kept secret in Washington.
That everybody – everybody I talk to in Washington
has known and fully knows
what their agenda was and what they were trying to do.

The neocons were openly disdainful of the military’s institutional interests
and didn’t care about the effectiveness of our forces:
their obsession with the Middle East
overrode everything else.
Their ideological bias in favor of war – as well as their tendency
to put Israeli interests on a par with those of the U.S.
militated against any such considerations.
When the neocons hijacked American foreign policy
and began to use the armed forces as their personal plaything,
they ran up against the natural opposition of career military personnel.
These same dissenters-in-uniform
have decried the degradation of the U.S. military machine,
which is being ground to bits in the sands of Mesopotamia
much as Napoleon’s imperial army was frozen in the snow of the Russian steppes.

[And when we talk about the neocons,
let’s not forget about the Washington media.
Both the Washington Post and the Washington Times editorial pages
have done everything they could to encourage this war,
not to mention war with Iran, and in general
hostilities towards anyone who believes that
Israel has no right to occupy the West Bank.
Obviously, both the Graham family and whoever controls the WT
are total stooges of the War Party and the Zionists
(not that there’s much of a distinction}.]

How I Didn’t Dismantle Iraq’s Army
New York Times Op-Ed, 2007-09-06

[The beginning and conclusion:]

IT has become conventional wisdom that
the decision to disband Saddam Hussein’s army
was a mistake,
was contrary to American prewar planning and
was a decision I made on my own.
In fact the policy
was carefully considered by top civilian and military members
of the American government.
And it was the right decision.


The decision not to recall Saddam Hussein’s army
was thoroughly considered by top officials in the American government.
At the time, this decision was not controversial.
When Mr. Slocombe held a press conference in Baghdad on May 23
to explain the decision,
only two reporters showed up — neither of them Americans.
The first I heard of doubts about the decision
was in the fall of 2003 after the insurgency had picked up speed.

Moreover, we were right to build a new Iraqi Army.
Despite all the difficulties encountered,
Iraq’s new professional soldiers
are the country’s most effective and trusted security force.
By contrast, the Baathist-era police force, which we did recall to duty,
has proven unreliable
and is mistrusted by the very Iraqi people it is supposed to protect.

An 'Enduring Relationship' – Or A Perpetual Burden?
Iraq as South Korea
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-09-17

War Costing $720 Million Each Day, Group Says
By Kari Lydersen
Washington Post, 2007-09-22

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

[S]ome supporters of the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq say that
even if the war is costly,
that fact is essentially immaterial.

“Either you think the war in Iraq supports America’s national security,
or not,”

said Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“If you think national security won’t be harmed by withdrawing from Iraq,
of course you would want to see that money spent elsewhere.
I myself think that belief, on a certain level, is absurd,
the question of focusing on how much money we are spending there
is irrelevant.”

What a simplistic, inadequate “analysis”!
(Those who delight in mocking President Bush for his inanities
should note from whom he gets those inanities.)

Questions that should be asked include:
  1. What aspects of America’s national security
    does the Iraq war improve?
  2. For those aspects of national security that the Iraq war improves,
    what other methods are there of achieving improvement?
  3. How much of an improvement does each method provide?
  4. What are the costs that each method incurs?
    (A complex question; the costs may have many forms)

After the alternatives are presented,
with estimates of the costs and benefits of each,
then intelligent discussion may proceed as to which should be followed.

Such discussion of alternative ways
of achieving the (universally agreed) objective
of protecting America from terrorist attack
has been notably absent from the public intellectual realm.
It seems to me that national security intellectuals who deserve the name
would be obligated to provide such analyses of the alternatives,
and publish that so the public can weigh in.
Then decision makers can make better-informed decisions,
and the public will see the rationale behind the decisions.

To me,
proof positive that a political/media conspiracy exists to keep us in Iraq
is that the media has not demanded that alternative approaches be discussed.
In fact, when knowledgeable experts (e.g., Michael Scheuer)
have provided alternative approaches
and requested that they be discussed by the media,
at least the Washington Post has notable ignored the matter.
While, on the other hand, they give endless page time
to the same tired old Israel-serving neocon gang of
Kagans, Kristols, O’Hanlons, Pollacks, Muravchiks, etc.
If that isn’t a conspiracy, what is?

For a related observation,
see “The Wall of Silence” by Justin Raimondo.

The Coming 'Stab in the Back' Campaign
by Eric Alterman
The Nation, 2007-10-15 (posted 2007-09-27)

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

The coming campaign’s foundations are already in place.
They rest on three building blocks:
  1. an attack on the loyalty
    of those willing to recognize reality

    [many of whom are either active or retired Army,
    but that probably won’t be emphasized too much]
  2. the construction of an alternative reality in which
    victory is deemed to be imminent;

    and, finally,
  3. a shifting of blame for a supposedly premature withdrawal
    to those who refuse to play along.

The Real Iraq We Knew
By 12 former Army captains
Washington Post, 2007-10-16

[An outstanding status report (paragraph numbers and emphasis are added).]

Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq,
setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion.
Five years on,
the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced
as it was from the start.
And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.

As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond,
we’ve seen the corruption and the sectarian division.
We understand what it’s like to be stretched too thin.
And we know when it’s time to get out.

What does Iraq look like on the ground?
It’s certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country.
Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition.
Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems
than before the war.
And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq’s institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting.
Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together
and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s

[note the conditional,
which America’s ruling elite has all too much ignored]
the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians
to coordinate themselves.
At the local level,
most communities are still controlled
by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam.
There is no reliable postal system.
No effective banking system.
No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The inability to govern
is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption.
Transparency International
ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars
by Iraqi officials and military officers.
Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq’s oil industry,
which still fails to produce
the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped
would pay for Iraq’s reconstruction.
Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult.
The first commissioner
of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption
resigned last month,
citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Against this backdrop,
the U.S. military has been trying in vain to hold the country together.
Even with “the surge,” we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines
to meet the professed goals of
clearing areas from insurgent control,
holding them securely and
building sustainable institutions.
Though temporary reinforcing operations
in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad
may brief well on PowerPoint presentations,
in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map
and often strengthen the insurgents’ cause
by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances.
Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are
and vote with their feet -- moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely.
Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

U.S. forces,
responsible for too many objectives and too much “battle space,”
are vulnerable targets.
The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down
is further escalation of attacks --
on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams.
They would also no doubt get caught
in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.

Iraqi security forces would not be able to salvage the situation.
Even if all the Iraqi military and police
were properly trained, equipped and truly committed,
their 346,000 personnel would be too few.
[I have zero Iraq experience,
but even so I find that hard to believe.
Would the insurgents fight fellow Arabs
as they have fought against a foreign occupying force
and what many no doubt consider its puppet government?
In any case, best to just let them fight it out and see who wins.]

As it is, Iraqi soldiers quit at will.
The police are effectively controlled by militias.
And, again, corruption is debilitating.
U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals
and support the very elements that will battle each other after we’re gone.

This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced.
This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command.
This is either
what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership
what our civilian leaders chose to ignore.

While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out [!?!],
the Iraqis prepare for their war --
and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer.

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq.
To continue an operation of this intensity and duration,
we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service.
Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately.
A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war,
and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

America, it has been five years. It’s time to make a choice.

This column was written by 12 former Army captains:
Jason Blindauer served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005.
Elizabeth Bostwick served in Salah Ad Din and An Najaf in 2004.
Jeffrey Bouldin served in Al Anbar, Baghdad and Ninevah in 2006.
Jason Bugajski served in Diyala in 2004.
Anton Kemps served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005.
Kristy (Luken) McCormick served in Ninevah in 2003.
Luis Carlos Montalván served in Anbar, Baghdad and Nineveh in 2003 and 2005.
William Murphy served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005.
Josh Rizzo served in Baghdad in 2006.
William “Jamie” Ruehl served in Nineveh in 2004.
Gregg Tharp served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005.
Gary Williams served in Baghdad in 2003.

Only one thing unites Iraq: hatred of the US
by Patrick Cockburn
The Independent (UK), 2007-12-11

The Americans will discover,
as the British learned to their cost in Basra,
that they have few permanent allies

Will Iraq's Great Awakening Lead to a Nightmare?
By Douglas Macgregor
Mother Jones, 2007-12-11

U.S. casualties are down in Iraq.
But a retired Army Colonel argues that
the surge and American payoffs to Sunni tribal leaders
may eventually backfire—
producing more instability and possibly a regional war.

The Wages of Intervention
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-12-19

Kurds snub Condi –
that's what we get for our billions and the sacrifices of our soldiers


Deadly Hubris
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-02-01

A million Iraqis dead – for what?

Surging in All Directions
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2008-03-11

Five Year Anniversery:

New York Times to America:
Stay the Course in Iraq

by David Bromwich
Huffington Post, 2008-03-17

[The introduction and the last two sections;
paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

On Sunday March 16,
the Times Week in Review observed the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war
with two separate commemorations:
an essay, “Five Years,”
by John Burns (former chief of the Times Baghdad bureau)
that looks back from the devastation of 2008 to the hopes of March 2003;
a symposium on the progress of war, “Reflections on the Invasion of Iraq,”
with short comments by nine strategists, pundits, officials, and soldiers.


John Burns’s elegiac meditation on the Iraq war is offered as a sort of prelude
to the March 16 “Week in Review” symposium of experts.
And here, we may truly say,
what the American Enterprise Institute sowed,
the New York Times has reaped.

In the selection of commentators on this fifth anniversary,
nothing has been left to chance.
Care was taken not to invite a comment
from a single person who judged the war wrong from the start.

[In particular, none of the Antiwar33
who went so far as to, with their own money,
run an advertisement of their antiwar sentiments
on the op-ed page of the 2002-09-26 Times.
(Perhaps the fact that
two of the most prominent of the Antiwar33
are those bad boys to the American Jewish community,
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt,
helps explain why these people
have become nonpersons to the editors of the Times.)
Right down the old memory hole.
Does Winston Smith work for the Times?]

Evidently the Times did not even think it useful,
not even for the sake of appearances,
to include more than one writer -- Anthony Cordesman --
whom the years since 2003 have brought to conclude that
the Iraq war was worse than a temporary and tactical setback.
Three out of the nine commentators --
Richard Perle, Danielle Pletka, and Frederick Kagan--
are actually fellows of the American Enterprise Institute.
This is a good deal like convening a symposium on World Religions
and having three of your nine comments issue from professors at Notre Dame
(but the comparison does an injustice to Notre Dame).

The AEI is the neoconservative think tank from which
many of the policies here under scrutiny are known to have emerged.
The newspaper of record thought it a fine thing
to ask the architects of the policies to give their sincere opinion
on their own handiwork.

Kenneth Pollack,
the neoliberal advocate of the bombing and invasion
who threw his support behind “the surge” in a Times op-ed last summer,
offers a short and self-serving comment
that puts all the blame on the Bush administration.
Did the Times count Pollack as a moderate--
even, somehow, a skeptic?
Their own record of publication was there to prove otherwise.
Another apparent moderate,
Anne-Marie Slaughter,
regrets the Baghdad looting,
but joins the consensus of responsible advisers who, she says,
“debate whether it will take 10 to 15 years” to repair the damage.
The innocent question asked by Slaughter as by Pollack, is,
how so big-hearted an act of international benevolence
as the bombing and invasion of Iraq
“has gone so wrong.”

L. Paul Bremer
is the only contributor to express personal regret.
“I should have pushed sooner,” he says,
“for a more effective military strategy”;
but, adds Bremer, thanks to the wise reconsiderations of the president,
we now have that strategy.
The co-author of the surge,
Frederick Kagan,
is summoned by the Times to praise himself.
He gives thanks to “our soldiers and marines”
who “use their firepower to the full” while minimizing “collateral damage.”
We are now, says Kagan, fighting a war of “skill and compassion,”
and he repeats the word compassion, as he also repeats “precision”:
our soldiers have been taught to mount “high-precision operations”
using only “precision-guided weapons.”
(This is in many ways a schoolboy essay.)

A soldier’s experience of the invasion is recounted by Nathaniel Fick,
who remembers the fear that Saddam Hussein might unleash chemical weapons,
and asks whether better intelligence
could have obviated some tactical errors early in the war.
A retired major general, Paul Eaton, now an adviser to Hillary Clinton,
repeats the judgment of General Eric Shinseki
that too few troops were allotted for the task assigned.

And Richard Perle?
Can no quantity of errant judgments and measurable wrongs to the country
remove a person from the establishment list?
Time magazine awarded a column to Karl Rove
as soon as it was clear that Rove had dodged indictment by a grand jury;
the Times, not to be outdone, here brings back Perle,
principal of the venture-capital security company Trireme
and alumnus of Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board.
Perle asserts that the U.S. should have cared less about democracy.
Rather, once Saddam Hussein was gone,
we should have “turned Iraq over to Iraqis.”
He means of course that we should have turned it over to the right Iraqis;
and that means Ahmed Chalabi --
the protege of Perle who (when elections were held in December 2005)
received less than one percent of the vote.
Richard Perle is permitted by the Times
to utter the mystic phrase “Iraq to the Iraqis”
without ever mentioning Chalabi.

A different view of the relation between democracy and neoconservatism
comes from Danielle Pletka, billed here as
“vice president for foreign and defense policy studies” at the AEI.
Pletka’s comment is entitled “There’s No Freedom Gene,”
and it is the story of the disappointments
that have made her a sadder judge of political things.
In 2003, Pletka
“felt secure in the knowledge that all who yearn for freedom, once free,
would use it well”;
but she found “I was wrong.”
All who yearn -- “yearning” -- dangerous, tremulous emotion;
mixing desire and idealism with the invitation to war.
Pletka draws a direr lesson than John Burns
about the yearning both imputed
to the Iraqis who have since disappointed them.
“There is no freedom gene,” she writes.

And there we have it pure and uncut,
the AEI doctrine on the Middle East.
Under all the sorrow at misjudged yearnings,
it is the age-old racist idea,
the idea by which, sooner or later,
all empires are rationalized.
Some people don’t have it in them to be free.
They aren’t born with the right genes.
It isn’t in their blood, their roots, their race, their religion.
Nevertheless, freedom is a gift of God, of civilization, of the West;
and we who have the gene must give it to those who lack it.
We must “foster appreciation of the building blocks of civil society.”
But that will take time.
So, it might seem that the choice, for Iraq,
is to be free as we tried to let them be,
or unfree in their own way as people lacking the gene are fated to be.
Yet that is not what Pletka and the resident fellows at the AEI have in mind.
Having failed the genetic test,
Iraq must now submit to be unfree
under American supervision,

while Americans climb the long trail (so much steeper than we thought)
toward making them free like us.

Such is the message from the New York Times to America
on our Iraq anniversary.
A message from
the Coalition Provisional Authority,
the American Enterprise Institute,
and assorted agreeable others.
The United States must stay in Iraq, for however long it takes.
Takes to do what?
Many significant actual repairs are beyond our means in the visible future;
and it is telling that none of the Times contributors says a word
about the destruction of Iraq’s available supply of water and electricity --
a disaster that was a planned not an accidental effect
of American bombings in the 1990s, in 2003, and after.
This was the meaning of shock and awe
to the inventor of the phrase and the method, Harlan Ullman.
You give a stunning shock to the system of the people you intend to dominate,
by taking the system away.
You put a country out of commission very fast,
and make the people very scared,
and they are completely dependent on you.
The rest is a matter of after-planning.

American troops are being asked to stay in Iraq
for something other than the renovation of the country.

The megalithic embassy in the Green Zone,
and the half-dozen superbases,
have been built to last,
while “the building blocks of civil society”
were less rigorously attended to.
The purpose for which those bases and that embassy were built
is inseparable from the word Iran:
a word that surfaced neither in John Burns’s commemorative piece
nor in any of the symposium comments the Times published last Sunday.
And yet, one can’t help feeling that
Iran had much to do with many things that were said,
and with many other things that were carefully left unsaid.

The Burns essay and the Iraq symposium
are part of

a consistent effort by the Times --
the Pollack-O’Hanlon puff for the surge
and the double endorsement of McCain and Clinton
were part of the same effort --
to shift legitimate opinion
toward acceptance of
a large and permanent American force in the Middle East.

Among lawmakers,
only Russell Feingold, Chuck Hagel, and Ron Paul
have drawn sustained attention to the commitments we are entering into.
For a major paper to do the same would be an act of candor.
The New York Times, by its elaborate contrivance of a sham debate,
and by the transparent omissions of its analysis,
has done a conspicuous disservice to public discussion.

Who Got Iraq Right?
by Greg Mitchell and Tom Engelhardt
Antiwar.com, 2008-03-19

Iraq: Five Years After the Conquest
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-03-19

A peaceful Palm Sunday in the shadow of war

Why Did the US Invade Iraq?
by Jim Lobe
Antiwar.com, 2008-03-20

Iraq and the Virtue of Selfishness
We need a foreign policy based on America's real interests

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-03-21

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

What better journalistic symbol of the Beltway know-it-alls
than the Washington Post?
Their coverage of the Iraq debate in the run-up to invasion
mirrored the uncritical assumptions and stereotyped thinking
that led to our quest for “weapons of mass destruction” that didn’t exist
and their commentary in many instances epitomized the hubris that led to
what General William E. Odom rightly describes as
the biggest military blunder in our history.
Post editorialists contributed mightily
to the misinformation that was deliberately spread by the administration,
and their columnists were first to jump on the pro-war bandwagon,
with Charles Krauthammer and the neocon brigade leading the charge.
Now, as the nation observes the fifth anniversary of this avoidable catastrophe,
we are subjected to yet more editorials taking opponents of this war to task:
those who call for withdrawal of US forces, the editors of the Post aver,
are being “unrealistic.”

It isn’t enough that half a million or more Iraqis,
and 4,000 Americans (plus 50,000 wounded) have paid a horrific price
for the Post’s abdication of its journalistic responsibility –
they want more victims.

The Post’s latest peroration
takes the familiar form of the “hard realities” trope:
only they, being responsible and sober sorts,
have the verve to take on the Hard Realities –
first and foremost of which is
the utter impossibility of leaving Iraq in the foreseeable future.
This is the conventional wisdom in the Washington Beltway,
as pervasive as antiwar feeling is
beyond the boundaries of that narrow province.

The editors take a perfunctory jab at the President,
who “rightly” claims “credit” for the escalation of the war:
their only quarrel with Bush is that
his trumpeting of a coming “victory” seems, to them, “premature.”
Then they go after
their real targets: the Democratic presidential candidates,
who have pledged to withdraw our troops from Iraq –
albeit, in one case, a bit disingenuously,
as far as her own responsibility for our present predicament is concerned.

Be that as it may, the hubris that infects all of official Washington –
regularly given voice on the Post’s op ed page –
has reached fever pitch, to wit:
“The president at least recognizes, from ‘hard experience,’
how quickly progress in Iraq can unravel.
Yesterday he pledged not to order troop withdrawals
beyond the five brigades due to return home by this summer
unless ‘conditions on the ground and the recommendations of our commanders’
warrant it.
That means that if Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton become president,
he or she will be the commander in chief of at least 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Yet their speeches
suggest an understanding of the conflict and the stakes for the United States
that is as detached from reality
as they accuse Mr. Bush of being when he decided on the invasion.

“Barely acknowledging the reduction in violence,
the Democratic candidates insist that U.S. troops are, as Ms. Clinton put it,
‘babysitting a civil war.’
In fact, the surge forestalled an incipient civil war,
and U.S. commanders and diplomats in Iraq don’t hesitate to say that
if American forces withdrew now,
sectarian conflict would probably explode in its full fury,
causing bloodshed on a far greater scale than ever before
and posing grave threats to U.S. security.”
[Emphasis added.]

“Reality,” for the Post editorial board, doesn’t mean
recognizing that, after five years,
we have nothing to show for our efforts but
thousands of dead, tens of thousands wounded, and a mountain of debt.
Nor does it mean
recognizing the failure of the “democracy”-implantation experiment,
an error for which many thousands – Iraqis and Americans – paid with their lives.
For the editors of the Post, it means the recognition that
American power, once established, can never be abandoned:
no matter how far-flung the outpost,
no matter how peripheral – or diametrically opposed – to our real interests,
and regardless of cost.
We must “pay any price,” as our most overrated President put it,
and “bear any burden.”
But must we?

The assumptions behind the Post’s magisterial dismissal of calls for withdrawal
are never challenged in Washington,
where the conceit and power-intoxication of the elites is most concentrated.
Assumption number one is that our actions in Iraq
must be predicated on what is good for the Iraqis –
the equation of our national self-interest with this inclination.
To the Post,
the re-introduction of “sectarian violence” would be the worst possible outcome,
and all hail to Bush for surging ahead with the Surge.
Yet it is necessary, here, to separate out
what is good for the Iraqis – or, at least, some individual Iraqis – and
what is good for us.
[The real hubris, of course, is
insisting that Washington knows “what is good for the Iraqis.”]

Now, stifle those squeals of outrage, for a moment, and
consider the virtue of selfishness in foreign policy,
especially in this instance.

Given that the invasion and conquest of Iraq was a mistake, and remains so,
let us look at what the American occupation has averted:
an all-out civil war, the vaunted and feared “sectarian violence”
that the Post and other stay-the-coursers invoke as
the reason we can’t leave.
This was partially aborted on account of our massive military presence,
but what’s important to understand is that
it was the inevitable result of the invasion.
We smashed the Iraqi state,
and shocked and awed the Ba’athist party apparatus out of existence,
paving the way for a bid by the Shi’ite majority to fill the void.

This was bound to be resisted by the Sunni elites,
who had dominated the Ba’athist regime:
if we had simply gone in, crushed Saddam, and marched out
in the wake of the President’s “mission accomplished” proclamation,
the dreaded civil war would have been bloody but brief.
The large, well-organized, and well-armed Shi’ite party militias, backed by Iran, would have made short work of the Ba’athist remnants,
and that would have been the end of that.
A Shi’ite strongman would have taken Saddam’s place soon enough,
and the sectarian battle would have died down:
surely it would not have persisted
five years after the break-up of Saddam’s hated regime.

A natural process was aborted,
the struggle for power was not allowed to be played out,
but Washington has merely succeeded in delaying the inevitable.
Powerful indigenous religious and social forces
have been held in uneasy abeyance
by US troops, who are, today, sitting atop a pressure-cooker
constantly in danger of exploding.

Like the Federal Reserve’s pumping cash
into a system bankrupted by government and private debt,
which can only delay the day of reckoning,
the efforts of the American colonial administration and its occupying army
to keep “order”
merely prolongs the consolidation process of the emerging Iraqi state.

John McCain wants a century of this.
If we continue on our present course, urged on us by the editors of the Post,
he’ll get his hundred years – or, at least, until the Treasury is emptied.

The great enemy of both the Fed governors and their foreign policy equivalent
is deflation.
In the case of the former,
the deflation of overvalued assets,
including the value of the almighty American dollar:
in the case of the latter,
the deflation of the hubris that animates our elites,
who imagine themselves lawgivers to the world.

If we withdraw from Iraq,
the sectarian violence delayed for so long will no doubt be terrible,
exacerbated by the recent turn in US policy
of encouraging the Sunnis and even arming them – supposedly against al Qaeda –
which further postpones and complicates the resolution of Iraq’s internal crisis.
Yet the blame for this rests squarely on the shoulders of the War Party.
It is just like the neocons
to blame others for the consequences of their own policies,
and that’s just what they’re doing –
even as they call for the acceleration of the very policies
that led us to the present disastrous moment.

The virtue of selfishness in foreign policy is that
it allows us to see clearly what this policy realm is really all about,
and that is the pursuit of narrowly and specifically American interests.
It isn’t about spreading “democracy,”
or uplifting the global masses into modernity:
billions in US taxpayer dollars are supposed to be going to
the defense of our shores,
and the legitimate interests of American citizens overseas.
It may be that the stationing of American troops in, say, Darfur, or Iraq,
will prevent some people from being massacred,
or allow some degree of freedom, however, conditional and ephemeral,
and yet it has to be asked: at what cost?
And I am speaking, here, of moral costs,
as well as the economic consequences of our present foreign policy.

Asked if fighting the Iraq war was worth it,
Americans overwhelmingly answer no, but the elites –
speaking through the Washington Post
think the question is itself impertinent, and, in any case, impermissible.
We, the peons, must be made to pay any price, bear any burden
in the endless task of funding – and dying for –
the Beltway’s delusions of imperial grandeur.

[While the Washington Post does seem to agree with other elite opinion,
a remarkable example of “groupthink” if there ever was one,
I suspect that the reason for this is
pressure from its advertisers.
We all know how newspapers are suffering financially these days.
Surely this magnifies the effect of
threats by advertisers to withdraw their advertising
if they are unhappy with the Post’s editorial policy.
And we also know that many American Jews are both wealthy and
willing to use their wealth in order to ensure that
America supports the policies of the Israeli government
(note this related statement by Ann Lewis,
and the following 2008-03-22 quote from Philip Weiss:
“there is a real sociological nexus in our society now of Jewishness/wealth/power/devotion to Israel.”).
I suspect that is the real cause of the Post’s editorial policies
vis-à-vis the Middle East.]

Iraq Recession – or Iraq Depression?
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-03-24

Militarism and the economy

Costly Cakewalk
The American Conservative, 2008-03-24

[The following is an item in the biweekly news digest/editoral “Fourteen Days” in the 2008-03-24 issue, which went to press on 2008-03-13.

Paragraph numbers are added.]

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq,
Kenneth Pollack,
former Director of Persian Gulf Affairs for the National Security Council,
“It is unimaginable
the United States would have to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars
and highly unlikely that
we would have to contribute even tens of billions of dollars.”
Luckily for him stoning false prophets went out of fashion some time back.
For far from the billions Pollack dismissed,
the war could end up costing American taxpayers closer to $3 trillion ($3T)—
and as much as $5 trillion ($5T).

In their new book
[The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict],
Harvard’s Linda Bilmes and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz
estimate the “running cost” of the Iraq war at
$12.5 billion ($12.5G) per month—
up from $4.4 billion ($4.4G) in 2003.
That figure rises to $25 billion ($25G) per month
if debt service and veterans’ care are factored in.
Iraq is already the second most expensive war in history,
trailing only World War II.

Of course the Bush administration disputes these figures.
(Recall that it fired economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey for saying that
the war would cost up to $200 billion ($200G).)
Neither will it consider the possibility that
our Mideast adventure might have anything to do with the looming recession.
But Bilmes and Stiglitz plausibly link the war to
both the credit crunch and the spiking cost of oil,
up from $27 per barrel when we invaded to nearly $110.

“Something like $50 billion,”
Don Rumsfeld predicted when asked to estimate the war’s bottom line.
That was many zeroes—and priceless lost lives—ago.
And the meter is still running.

What Does Bush Mean by "Victory in Iraq"?
By Fred Kaplan
Slate.com, 2008-03-25

His grandiose definition makes defeat almost inevitable.

The Mystery of American Foreign Policy
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-03-28

Why are we propping up the pro-Iranian Maliki faction in Iraq?

Embarrassed US Starts to Disown Basra Operation
by Gareth Porter
Antiwar.com, 2008-04-01

Iraq after the Surge: Military Prospects
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 2008-04-02

Testimony by:
General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)
Lt. General William E. Odom, USA (Ret.)
Ms. Michele Flournoy
Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, Jr., USA (Ret.)

Testimony of General Barry R. McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 2008-04-02
(From this hearing.)

[An excerpt: the bad news and the summary.
The boldface and underlining are from General McCaffrey’s testimony;
the italics and red coloring are emphasis I have added.]

  1. The Maliki Government is dysfunctional. He must:
    • Get Provincial Elections.
    • Get a hydro-carbon law.
    • Organize consensus among competitive Shia groups
      (many are criminal elements).
    • Deal with corruption.
    • Reach out to Sunnis.
  2. The Iranians are playing a very dangerous role.
    They are supporting Iraqi Shia factions with:
    money, advisors, training in Iran, EFP’s, mortars, rockets, automatic weapons, and belligerence.

    • We must open up a multi-level dialog with the Iranians.
  3. We have never had in our country’s history
    a more battle-hardened US military force;

    courage (34,000 killed and wounded), leadership, initiative, intelligence, fires discipline, civic action.
    Our battalion and company commanders are defacto
    the low level government of Iraq.
  4. The US Army is starting to unravel.
    • Equipment broken.
    • National Guard is under resourced.
    • Terrible retention problems.
    • Severe recruiting problems.
    • Army too small.
  5. US Air and Naval Power seriously under-resourced.
    • Sailors and Airmen diverted to ground war.
    • Air Force equipment crashing as a system
      [need 350 F22A aircraft – 600 C17 (dump C5)].
      [KH comment: Note that this is an Army general saying this.]
    • $608 Billion war -- diverting resources.
  6. Excessive Reliance on contractors because
    ground combat forces too small.

    • Need more US Army Military Police.
    • Need more US Army medical capacity.
    • Need more US Army Combat and Construction engineers.
    • Need greatly enhanced Special Forces, Psy Ops, and Civil Affairs.
    • Need US Marine Corps to provide all diplomatic security
      above RSO capabilities.
    Note: Without US contractors and their LN employees,
    the US global military effort would grind to a halt.
    • Total contractor casualties may be 600 killed and 4000 wounded – many abducted.)
    • Contractors run much of our global logistics, long haul communications, high-technology maintenance, etc.
V. Summary:
  • As US Forces draw down in coming 36 months –
    the jury is out whether Iraq will degenerate into all out civil war
    with six regional neighbors drawn into the struggle.
  • There is no US political will to continue casualties
    of 100 to 1000 US military killed and wounded per month.
  • Our allies have abandoned us
    for lack of their own national political support.
  • The war as it now is configured --
    is not militarily nor politically sustainable.
  • The Iraqis are fleeing – 4 million refugees – huge brain drain.

Barry R McCaffrey

Here are links to two YouTube videos, each about 12 minutes long, of AlJazeera interviewing Norman Finkelstein and John Mearsheimer concerning the role of Israel and the neocons in causing the invasion of Iraq.
Inside Iraq - Motives for war - 04 April 08 - Part 1
Inside Iraq - Motives for war - 04 April 08 - Part 2
I found out about these videos via an entry in Philip Weiss’s blog Mondoweiss: 'NPR' Debates Arrangement of Deck Chairs on Titanic
(Weiss mentions the Al-Jazeera debate as well as the NPR one.)
Endless Enemies by Justin Raimondo Antiwar.com, 2008-04-09

First it was the ‘dead enders,’ then it was al-Qaeda in Iraq, now it’s the ‘Special Groups’ – but when will it end?

Petraeus Points to War With Iran by Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2008-04-11

The neocons may yet get their war on Iran....
General David Petraeus has been laying the predicate for U.S. air strikes on Iran and a wider war in the Middle East.

Iraq Troop Levels to Remain Steady Until After Bush Leaves Office
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post, 2008-09-09

[It seems strange that the Post put an article on such an important topic, which should play an important role in the presidential election just two months away, on page A15.
Is this not an example of how the Post is trying to minimize debate over our Iraq strategy? Anyhow, here is an excerpt from the article; emphasis is added.]
President Bush will announce today that the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq will remain steady until after he leaves office, deferring any further decisions about troop withdrawals to his successor, according to a copy of his speech released by the White House. At the same time, Bush will preside over further increases in the number of U.S. troops fighting the resurgent Taliban militia in Afghanistan, including a fresh Marine battalion in November and an additional Army brigade in January. … [R]eiterating a point that the White House has made repeatedly in recent months, Bush also warned that “progress in Iraq is still fragile and reversible.” [Something which should be considered is: Will extending American military activities in Iraq increase or decrease the likelihood of further conflict? Further, why on earth should America be on the hook indefinitely to provide internal stability in Iraq? Why not stand back, let them fight it out, and let the chips fall where they may? Precisely what are we afraid of? Whatever chaos may arise in the short term, the historical record shows the Iraqis invariably quickly reach a stable equilibrium. No doubt, the losers will be unhappy over the results, but America cannot be responsible for the happiness of all the people in the world. In any case, my opinion is that the Iraqis do not want a prolonged American occupation. They are willing to give the political process a chance, to see if their elected government can negotiate a departure. If it cannot, it is only a matter of time before many Iraqis begin a military resistance to what they consider an occupation. Remember, while many in the American media and political elite may call it stabilization, what counts just as much is what the Iraqis consider it, which for many is an occupation.]

Amid Progress in Iraq, Sides Have Scores to Settle
New York Times, 2008-10-02

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.] The favored American democratic model — majority rule balanced by minority rights and the rule of law — keeps running afoul of Iraqi realities. The underlying problem is that there has yet to be an overall political deal, acceptable to all sides, that distributes power among Iraq’s competing interests. Although it is rarely talked about in bald terms, there are scores to settle here.

Shiite Bloc's Demands Stall U.S.-Iraq Pact
By Mary Beth Sheridan and Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post, 2008-10-20

This is really a temporary location where I can store a certain quote from the 2008 book The War Within by Bob Woodward until I can think of a better location in my blog for it. [page 187] [Woodward describes some thoughts that Condoleezza Rice evidently confided to him in his 2008 interview with her. The thoughts concern her thinking in October 2006.] In a practical sense, if the United States tried to make deals with the different factions, it might lead to the partitioning of Iraq. It could mean the end of a national democracy, Bush’s much enunciated goal. Rice kept returning to the power broker option because it reflected the conditions on the ground— a so-called unity government was proving incapable of governing or reducing the violence. In moments of brutal reality, Rice felt they needed to preserve the democratic institutions in Iraq but no longer rely on them. They would have to cut deals with anyone necessary in order to stabilize the country. But even if deal making were the right way to go, it would by seen by many as a retreat. And a retreat could turn into a military rout. Leaders in the Shia majority might decide, “These guys are bugging out, so what the hell? Why shouldn’t I just make a name for myself by being the guy that liberates Iraq from the Americans?” That might lead to pictures of helicopters evacuating the last Americans from the Green Zone. And nobody in the administration wanted to entertain that thought.

Iraq Seeks Changes to Security Pact
By Mary Beth Sheridan and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post, 2008-10-29

[Its beginning; emphasis is added.] BAGHDAD, Oct. 28 – [1] The Iraqi cabinet decided Tuesday to reopen negotiations on a security pact intended to give U.S. forces the legal authority to stay in the country beyond Dec. 31, further delaying an agreement that American officials had hoped to conclude by now. [2] The call for changes in the proposed accord came as the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki criticized an attack by Iraq-based U.S. forces on alleged al-Qaeda operatives inside Syria last weekend. The cabinet now wants the agreement to include language to “confirm that Iraqi land would not be the center for aggression” against its neighbors, said Planning Minister Ali Baban, who attended Tuesday’s meeting. [3] Ministers also want the pact to grant Iraq more legal authority over U.S. soldiers accused of crimes, to harden a tentative 2011 departure date for U.S. troops and to allow Iraqi inspection of U.S. military shipments. The inspection demand, along with an explicit ban on attacks on neighboring countries, reflects concerns that the United States might launch an attack on Iran from Iraqi territory. [4] Bush administration officials have said repeatedly that the current text of the document, concluded just weeks ago after nearly eight months of difficult negotiations, reflects the limit of U.S. concessions. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that the administration had not yet examined the new Iraqi proposals but that the bar for changes was “very high.” [5] “We think that the door is pretty much shut on these negotiations,” Perino said.... [6] Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the cabinet’s demands were necessary to preserve “Iraq’s sovereignty and its most important interests,” although it was unclear whether the Iraqi side would be satisfied with minor language changes or would insist on more substantive alterations. The cabinet, representing Iraq’s largest political groups, must approve the document before it can be sent to parliament for a vote. [7] Asked what would happen if the United States rejected the demands, Baban said, “We will discuss it again, inside the cabinet.” So far, only the Kurdish parties, who make up the second-biggest bloc in the 275-member parliament, have expressed support for the accord. Shiite parties contesting control of provincial councils in elections scheduled for January -- including Maliki’s Dawa party -- have not committed themselves, and Maliki has not taken a public stand on the agreement. [No one can know how these disagreements will work out in the future, but based on the above reading of the positions, and various previous news stories asserting how opposed Iraqis are to what the U.S. wants, it seems very unwise for the United States to take an excessively hard-line negotiating position on these issues. What good does it do to strong-arm the Iraqi government into accepting concessions which the bulk of the Iraqi people find totally unacceptable? In Iraq (unlike the United States), that will only cause the Iraqi state to fragment, with armed forces, both within the Iraqi army and without, refusing to support, and probably actively opposing, a government which they rightly feel has capitulated to Yankee pressure. Is this what Bush wants? To thumb his nose at the bulk of the Iraqi people, as he has already done to the American people, all so “history” (which to him evidently is written by people who view Israel’s interests as the ultimate good) will say nice things about him? Is this what “democracy” means to him, ignoring the will of the people, who are tired of these wars promoted by Zionists?]

US Cutoff Threat Unlikely to Save Iraq Troop Pact
by Gareth Porter
Antiwar.com, 2008-10-30

[Here is a short excerpt from Bob Woodward’s The War Within, published in August 2008. Emphasis is added.] [page 408] [State Department official David] Satterfield kept making regular visits to Iraq [in 2007 and 2008] to help in the delicate negotiations on the Status of Forces Agreement that would allow U.S. forces to remain. As he dealt with various Iraqi officials, he was faced with the extent to which the United States had created and propped up a kind of puppet government. With 157,000 troops, more than 180,000 contractors and 1,000 State Department officials in Iraq, the United States was the shadow government. He knew of no parallel in history. If the United States withdrew, the whole house of cards would crumble.

Total Defeat for U.S. in Iraq
By PATRICK COCKBURN CounterPunch.org, 2008-12-11
It's All Spelled Out in Unpublicized Agreement

Obama, Iraq, and the Cyprus Solution
Out of Iraq? Not so fast …
by Justin Raimondo Antiwar.com, 2008-12-12


Out of Iraq?
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-02-13

The war in Iraq isn't over. The main events may not even have happened yet.
By Thomas E. Ricks

Washington Post Outlook, 2009-02-15 [An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

But his hopeful assessment conflicts with
the frequent statements of Iraqi commanders themselves [I.e., the Iraqi army's leaders.].

“When you got to know them and they’d be honest with you,
every single one of them thought that
the whole notion of
democracy and representative government in Iraq
was absolutely ludicrous,”

said Maj. Chad Quayle,
who advised an Iraqi battalion in south Baghdad during the surge.

The Joan Walsh Syndrome
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-02-20
Liberals jump on Obama's war wagon

The "Al Qaeda in Iraq is resurgent and we have to stay longer" meme begins.
by Christopher Dowd
Antiwar.com, 2009-04-15

“Folks, DC ain’t leaving Iraq on its own initiative . . . ever.”

Back to Iraq?
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-07-20 Don't look now, but…

One Way Or Another, Leaving Iraq
By George F. Will
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-09-03

[Some of the emphasis is added.]

[1] Since U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq’s cities, two months have passed, and so has the illusion that Iraq is smoothly transitioning to a normality free of sectarian violence. Recently, Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. troops there, “blanched” when asked if the war is “functionally over.” According to The Post’s Greg Jaffe, Odierno said:

[2] “There are still civilians being killed in Iraq. We still have people that are attempting to attack the new Iraqi order and the move towards democracy and a more open economy. So we still have some work to do.”

[3] No, we don’t, even if, as Jaffe reports, the presence of 130,000 U.S. troops “serves as a check on Iraqi military and political leaders’ baser and more sectarian instincts.” After almost 6 1/2 years, and 4,327 American dead and 31,483 wounded, with a war spiraling downward in Afghanistan, it would be indefensible for the U.S. military -- overextended and in need of materiel repair and mental recuperation -- to loiter in Iraq to improve the instincts of corrupt elites. If there is a worse use of the U.S. military than “nation-building,” it is adult supervision and behavior modification of other peoples’ politicians.

[4] More than 725 Iraqis have been killed by terrorism since the June 30 pullback of U.S. forces from the cities. All U.S. combat units are to be withdrawn from the country within a year. Up to 50,000 can remain as “advisers” to an Iraqi government that is ostentatious about its belief that the presence of U.S. forces is superfluous and obnoxious. ...

[final paragraph] If, in spite of contrary evidence, the U.S. surge permanently dampened sectarian violence, all U.S. forces can come home sooner than the end of 2011. If, however, the surge did not so succeed, U.S. forces must come home sooner.


Official dogma: Iraq War a success
By Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com, 2010-03-10

Iraq: The Endless Occupation Obama's broken promise
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-05-14

Diplomat Harsh on Leaders in Testimony for Iraq Inquiry
New York Times, 2010-07-28

LONDON — In the years Hans Blix has spent relating his struggle to deter the United States and Britain from going to war in Iraq, he has rarely spoken with the disdain for President George W. Bush and his top aides that he displayed on Tuesday before Britain’s official inquiry into the war. Mr. Blix, the Swedish diplomat who led the United Nations body that scoured Iraq for traces of Saddam Hussein’s banned weapons program, used the word “absurd” on several occasions to describe American arguments for going to war. He also described Britain, the United States’ main ally in the invasion, as “a prisoner on the American train.” Mr. Blix concluded three hours of testimony by saying that Iraqis had suffered worse from the “anarchy” that followed the invasion in March 2003 than it had under the Hussein dictatorship. Iraq was already “prostrate” under Mr. Hussein, he said, and the impact of economic sanctions, and the invasion and its aftermath, made things worse. ...

Iraq: We’re ‘Withdrawing’ – But Not Leaving
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-08-06

In Bizarro World, “withdrawing” means “staying”

U.S. and Iraqi Interests May Work Against Pullout
By TIM ARANGO New York Times, 2010-08-11

BAGHDAD — ... The reality in Iraq may defy that deadline, because many American and Iraqi officials deem the American presence to be in each nation’s interest. ...

This is just a brief look back at the original rationale given, back in 2006, for the “surge”. Remember that 2005-6 were years of rising violence in Iraq, with the Sunnis and Shiites really going after each other. The argument was made by various American leaders that “calming the violence would provide the space for the Iraqi political leaders to work out a political settlement.” [Cf.] Well, we did see the U.S. Army and Marines in Iraq under Generals Petraeus and McChrystal in 2007 and 2008 indeed develop methods which did bring down the violence. But what about what that would supposedly bring about in the Iraqi political sphere? Certainly not to my surprise, nor that of Michael Scheuer’s, in mid-2010 the Iraqi political system is still incapable of producing a government which has legitimacy and effectiveness. So much for the justification of the surge. It is certainly a victory that violence is (somewhat) down, but producing a viable political system in Iraq still seems something that the Iraqis will have to do themselves. The result may not be very acceptable to some powerful political forces in America, but we should work around what the Iraqis produce, rather than try perpetually to transform it.

Civilians to Take U.S. Lead as Military Leaves Iraq
New York Times, 2010-08-19

As the United States military prepares to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, the Obama administration is planning a remarkable civilian effort, buttressed by a small army of contractors, to fill the void. ...


It has been almost five years since I added anything to this post. What really new is there for me to say? I thought all along, starting 2002 when Bush and various others started beating the drums for "regime change" in Iraq, that this was incredibly foolish. Sure, the U.S. military could, with not much effort or risk, defeat Saddam's army, march to Baghdad, and depose his regime. But what then? It was more than evident, to anyone who read the history of the region, that there had been a succession of empires and polities that ruled the region once called Mesopotamia, none of which could very well be called a democracy, as defined by those pushing for the war (which they define to include such tough sells in that region as minority rights and women's rights). To instill such a polity would be, frankly, impossible, and certainly not something within the capabilities of any conceivable U.S. military organization. But that didn't stop Bush and those who egged him on, and indeed, still urge the U.S. to take on clearly impossible tasks.
Anyhow, here is an update from the oh-so-prescient Dr. Michael F. Scheuer:

General Dempsey errs by telling the truth, but quickly recants
by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2015-04-27

In White House’s Iraq debate, military brass pushed for doing less
By Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan
Washington Post, 2015-06-13

As President Obama was weighing how to halt Islamic State advances in Iraq, some of the strongest resistance to boosting U.S. involvement came from a surprising place: a war-weary military that has grown increasingly skeptical that force can prevail in a conflict fueled by political and religious grievances.

Top military officials, who have typically argued for more combat power to overcome battlefield setbacks over the past decade, emerged in recent White House debates as consistent voices of caution in Iraq. Their shift reflects the paucity of good options and a reluctance to suffer more combat deaths in a war in which America’s political leaders are far from committed and Iraqis have shown limited will to fight.

“After the past 12 years in the Middle East, there is a real focus by senior military leaders on understanding what the endgame is,” said a military official, “and asking the question, ‘To what end are we doing this?’ ”

The military’s reluctance belies a prevalent narrative in Washington of a cautious president holding back his aggressive generals.


[T]he president’s top military commanders argued against a change in strategy that would reduce the onus on Iraqi forces and pull U.S. troops deeper into the war. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, like other military officials doubted that the gains from using embedded advisers and attack helicopters were worth the possible cost in American blood, said several U.S. officials familiar with his position.


One big challenge with embedding combat advisers is finding front-line Iraqi units that U.S. military commanders trust enough to keep the Americans relatively safe, a senior military official in Iraq said.


The military’s 12 years of experience in Iraq, meanwhile, have imbued it with an abiding wariness of being drawn too deeply into the country’s internal ethnic and sectarian wars. That instinct is shared by the team of senior military advisers Obama has assembled. “Every single one of these guys has signed too many letters to too many parents,” said Maren Leed, a former senior adviser to the Army chief of staff in the Pentagon who is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They’ve had their hearts broken and watched a lot of others get their hearts broken.”

Austin, who oversaw all U.S. troops in Iraq prior to the U.S. withdrawal in December 2011, pressed for keeping as many as 17,000 American troops in the country to train and advise Iraqi forces. The Obama administration whittled that number down to fewer than 5,000 troops, but it couldn’t reach an agreement with the Iraqi government that would allow the troops to stay.

What followed was a slow deterioration and collapse of the Iraqi and Army and police forces that U.S. commanders had built at tremendous cost.


“What did the U.S. military learn from the last decade of support to the Iraqi army?”
asked Emma Sky, author of “The Unraveling,”
who spent four years in Iraq as a senior adviser to the U.S. military.
“We can give the Iraqi army lots of equipment and training,
but we cannot address the psychology and morale of the force
and its willingness to fight.”

[That is certainly an argument I have made frequently in this blog,
since its start in 2005.
Is it really the U.S. military that was unaware of
the situation described in her last sentence?
I doubt that very much.
It is the Washington establishment,
for example Brookings Institute "military expert" Michael E. O'Hanlon,
who have been calling for training of Iraq and similar forces
without noting that training without motivation is not enough.
I am sure the U.S. military was fully aware of
the difference between training and motivation.]

Why is the American republic fighting to impose tyranny at Ramadi?
by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2015-12-25

“The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcasses of dead policies.
When a mast falls overboard,
you do not try to save a rope here and a spar there
in memory of their former utility.
You cut away the hamper altogether.
It should be the same with policy, but it is not so.
We cling to the shred of an old policy after it has been torn to pieces,
and to the shadow of the shred after the rag itself has been torn away.”
Lord Salisbury, 1877

If or when Ramadi is recaptured from the Islamic State (IS)
by the Iraqi regime’s Shia-dominated military forces,
which are being supported by U.S. air power,
the United States will have scored another telling and self-inflicted defeat,
one delivered by its national government’s interventionist foreign policy.

  • [1.1]
    If Ramadi is taken,
    most Islamic State forces and ordnance will have been removed from the city.
    Most of the fighters and weapons belonging to Ramadi’s IS garrison
    will survive to fight another day.
    As always,
    the Islamist insurgents are not going to fight for Ramadi or any other city
    to the last man and last bullet.
    They will leave, mend their wounded, bring in reinforcements,
    and attack in another place where the world can watch the entire Ramadi cycle repeat itself.
  • [1.2]
    If Ramadi falls, the United States will have facilitated the return of a Sunni city
    to the U.S.-EU fathered and supported Shia tyranny in Baghdad and its Iranian masters.
    That regime will pick up in Ramadi where it left off;
    that is, slaughtering Sunnis in the city and its environs.
    The reliability of media reporting about Ramadi and its population is uneven,
    but reading it leaves the impression that Ramadi’s Sunnis dislike and fear IS,
    but prefer its rule to the return of the murderous Shia regime.
    (NB: This impression is common when reading about most Sunni areas held by IS.)
  • [1.3]
    In a strategic sense, the U.S.-manufactured re-Shiafication of Ramadi
    will provide the Sunni world with more irrefutable proof
    that the United States has definitely and aggressively taken the Shia side
    in the evolving regional Shia-Sunni war.
    The upshot will be
    (a) more would-be mujahedin joining IS, al-Qaeda, and other Islamist groups from places like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Africa, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, India, Egypt, the EU, the U.S., and Canada;
    (b) another possible reason for IS and al-Qaeda to discuss ending their confrontation, at least until Western intervention is defeated; and
    (c) a bit of additional glue the Saudis can use in building their so called “Anti-IS Sunni Coalition”,
    which is actually the strongest signal so far that Riyadh is preparing to fight not IS and al-Qaeda,
    but the anti-Shia war that IS and its most reliable allies — the Obama, Cameron, Hollande, and Putin administrations — have triggered.

There is no need for the United States to be in the midst of the mess in the Syria-Iraq theater, let alone to be fighting to restore a Shia tyranny.
All of the parties in the Ramadi fight have long been defined by the U.S. bipartisan governing elite as America’s enemies,
and they are now fighting and murdering each other with an intensifying and lethal sort of gay abandon.
All America needs to do is stand clear, not take sides, and control its borders.
the Obama administration — like its Republican predecessor —
is as dumb as stone about what is going on in Iraq, Syria,
and the Islamic world as a whole.

If it was not ignorant,
it would not be assisting the Iraqi Shias to retake the Sunni city of Ramadi —
which, if accomplished, will not improve U.S. security a jot —
and thereby make the United States appear culpable for
the bloody retribution the Shia will exact from the city’s Sunni community.

Unnecessary foreign military interventionism historically has been one of the gravedigger’s main tools for burying republics.
Obama, G.W. Bush, and the Clintons have all been unable or unwilling to stop digging.
Each champions the putrefying “dead carcass” of U.S. military/political/cultural intervention overseas,
and, by doing so, they together have put the republic near to death’s door,
suffering unending and always losing wars abroad,
as well as bankruptcy and increasing national-government authoritarianism at home.

Given Lord Salisbury’s advice, it seems clear that it is long past time
for Americans to refuse to
“cling to the shred of an old [interventionist] policy after it has been torn to pieces,”
and to likewise refuse to support any politician
that advocates the continuation of the “shadow of the shred” of that policy
as a panacea for the troubles of the United States in the Islamic world.
The only policies that will even begin to solve those problems are
neutrality and non-intervention.

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