Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, April 16, 2007

An Infinitely Worse Error

Last Wednesday night, we heard from some Iraq combat vets. They felt the cause they had fought for was noble and that thinsg in Iraq were gradually improving.

I would like to now submit the following simple questions to all those out there who are suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome, those that think Dick Cheney is the Antichrist, those that think Donald Rumsfeld is a boob, those that think we have wasted too much blood and treasure in Iraq already, those that think the pre-war intelligence was a lie, and those that think the Iraq war has been horribly mishandled. Let's suppose for a moment that all you believe is true. What next? Should we follow the lead of the Congressional Democrats and precipitously pull U.S. troops out of Iraq in Septmember 2008, no matter what? Is that the wisest course? And what would the consequences of such an action be?

“The Mesopotamian” is a blog run by an Iraqi civilian that goes by the name of “Alaa.” Back on August 14, 2005, he theorized what would happen in Iraq following a unilateral U.S. withdrawl. As you can see below, it’s a nightmare scenario.
Day 1: The American and other Multinational forces have almost completed withdrawing hastily, the decision having been taken by the U.S. administration to “cut and run” as it is said.

Day 2: The Anbar province - whole formations of Saddam’s previous organizations emerge from their holes and take control of the streets: Presidential Guards, Mukhabarat, Fedayeen Saddam, General Security, Private Security, Military intelligence, Party Units, etc. etc. ; in addition to Al -Qaida and various assortments of “Isalamists”. The whole of the province falls very quickly even before the last American soldier leaves Baghdad. The takeover takes place without any serious resistance apart from assassinations and murder of all those who are not entirely to the taste of the abovementioned. This takeover takes place over the entire western region right down to Abu Ghraib and Ghazaliya and other suburbs in Baghdad. Some fighting takes place in certain areas of Al-Anbar, but those tribes who were considered insufficiently hostile to the Americans and their friends, are quickly subdued with much bloodshed. In short the regime that is going to take over the country quickly takes shape in this region.

Other Parts of the Sunni Triangle: Similar situation develops in other areas such as Mosul, Tikrit, Sammara etc. in the North but with varying degrees of resistance and bloodshed, however the balance of force is in favor of the “insurgents”.

Diala Province: In the east considerable fighting and sectarian bloodshed, all civil services are disrupted and fighting continues.

South of Iraq: Badr Brigades, the Mahdi Army and various assortments of armed groups take to the streets and considerable fighting takes place near the southern approaches to Baghdad (the triangle of Death Latifya-Usufiya-Mahmodiya etc.) between Shiaa and Sunni groups, without any definite results initially.

Baghdad: All the middle class new neighborhoods start to be taken over by various armed groups with much looting and arson. This will be directly influenced by the speed of the U.S. army withdrawal; in particular the western part of Baghdad starting from Abu Ghraib right down to the up-scale Mansur Area.

The Mahdi Army and other Shiaa militias and tribal armed groups appear in the streets of Sadr City, Kadimiya and other neighborhoods with clear Shiaa majorities. In other mixed areas street fighting, looting ravaging and murder of families in their houses takes place on a large scale under various pretexes..Those who are weak and unarmed suffer most.

The little of electricity, water supply, sewerage and other municipal services, that there is comes to a complete halt. All shops, markets etc are closed and start to be looted.

Day 3:

The well defined main provincial areas, from the sectarian point of view, have quickly come under control of the various sectarian forces, Sunni ones in the Sunni areas and Shiaa in the Shiaa regions, and the most dangerous and destructive civil war in the history of Iraq has formally started, a war that will continue for many years and bring the country to a state worse than what followed the Mongol Invasion of Hollako in the 13th century. Ethnic and sectarian cleansing is going on within these areas with large scale movements of refugees from the various regions in all directions.

Days 4,5,6 etc.; and subsequent weeks, months and years.

It has become clear to everybody that the U.S. and other western powers are not going to come back, therefore the arena is free for all, so to speak. The Kurds withdraw into their mountainous region, and then decide to make a dash on Kirkuk. Fierce fighting erupts in and around Kirkuk, but the Kurds, being better organized and determined; initially succeed in controlling the town. Turkey cannot allow that so the Turkish army pours in from the North and the war starts between the Kurds and the Turks. The Turkish army advances quickly on Kirkuk through Mosul and after very bloody battles wrests control from the Kurds in the city. The Kurds retreat to the Mountains and start a classic guerilla war against the Turks. Turkey in effect occupies most of Northern Iraq.

Meanwhile vicious sectarian battles between Shiaa and Sunnis rage in and around Baghdad with tremendous bloodshed and huge numbers of civilians caught up in the fighting. Due to shut down of water supply the population of Baghdad starts to become desperate, and is under serious threat of thirst, so they leave their houses and flock to rivers, all that in the middle of raging battles in the streets. Organized gangs go around peoples’ homes checking identities and murdering whole families just because they happen to be Shiaa, Christian or Kurd (this is already actually happening, by the way, in a low key way in some areas).

Initially, the Sunni forces score some successes against the less organized and less experienced Shiaa forces in the Baghdad zone and south of it, despite the fierceness and carelessness about death of the latter. Hard pressed and threatened with extinction and having been abandoned by the West, the Shiaa’s have no other alternative but to turn towards the Iranians for protection. Iranian Revolutionary Guards start to pour in tens of thousands across the border to join the fighting. Soon the Iranians will be in virtual control of the entire south of Iraq and many parts of eastern Iraq. Likewise, the Kurds have no option but to turn to the Iranians in the face of the Turkish onslaught. On the other hand the previous trickle of arab terrorists and religious fanatics across the western and southern borders from Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia turns into a veritable torrent with tens and hundreds of southands pouring across to join their Sunni brothers. Turks, Iranians, Arabs, Sunni Iraqis, Shiaa Iraqis and Kurds all join in an infernal orgy of fighting destruction and death the like of which has seldom been seen.

All activities connected with oil exports from Iraq come to a complete standstill resulting in a world crisis and the rocketing of oil prices to above $ 100 a barrel at the least. Some oil fields burn and black smoke starts to spread all over the country reaching neighboring countries. The oil supplies in the entire region are jeopardized as fanaticism sweeps the region.

Al Qaeda and its affiliates and sympathizers throughout the world are jubilant, elated and drunk with the euphoria of a resounding victory against the U.S., Crusaders, Zionists, the Kafirs, the Shiaa and all other apstates. They transfer their entire cadres to the Sunni controlled areas of Iraq and establish themselves not as fugitives and underground movement but as an established force on the ground. Ripples are spread throughout the world and cells are preparing themselves to bring the battle to the very heartland of the Crusader Kafirs in The U.S. and Europe.

The U.S.A and her allies are completely discredited, and no one will ever think of putting any trust in them anywhere in the world in the future. In particular all factions involved in the fighting in Iraq will be vehemently anti-American and anti-western, especially erstwhile allies and friends who feel particularly betrayed and treacherously abandoned.

The U.S. and allied nations look on this general conflagration and explosion in the M.E. region with helpless dismay. It would take not 130 000 troops, nor one division or two or three to control such situation. All the resources of U.S., despite their tremendousness, will not suffice. It is then, that the American and Western people realize with shock and belated remorse, that if some considered the War on Iraq to be a mistake; the precipitate withdrawal and retreat is an infinitely worse error.
No matter the legitimacy of our cause to go to war in Iraq, it must now be won. As Ermest Hemingway stated, “Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.”

38 comments:

Nic said...

What exactly does winning look like in this case?... or defeat for that matter?

Tom Forbes said...

Nic, I highly recommend reading this column by William J. Stuntz, the Henry J. Friendly professor at Harvard Law School, in the The Weekly Standard. An excerpt:

"The difficulties the Army has experienced in Iraq are due, in large measure, to the fact that the Defense Department forgot this historical lesson. Donald Rumsfeld tried to run a businesslike war. But warfare is not
business
; it is not fought at the margin. By striving to do just enough to win, we have done too little. The right strategy is to do too much.

That is especially true of a war like the one in Iraq. Consider these data: Between November 2004 and February 2005, according to the Brookings Institution's Iraq Index, the number of coalition soldiers in Iraq rose by 18,000. In that time, the number of Iraqi civilians killed fell by two-thirds, and the number of American troops wounded fell by three-fourths. The soldiers were soon pulled out; by the summer of 2005, American and Iraqi casualties rose again. Later that year, the same thing happened again. Between September and November of 2005, another 23,000 soldiers were deployed in Iraq; once again, both Iraqi and American casualties fell. In the early months of 2006, the number of soldiers fell again, and casualties spiraled up.

The picture is clear: More soldiers mean less violence, hence fewer casualties. The larger the manpower investment in the war, the smaller the war's cost, to Iraqis and Americans alike. Iraq is not an unwinnable war: Rather, as the data just cited show, it is a war we have chosen not to win. And the difference between success and failure is not 300,000 more soldiers, as some would have it. One-tenth that number would make a large difference, and has done so in the past. One-sixth would likely prove decisive.

Counterinsurgency warfare is more about protecting than killing--like a nationwide exercise in community policing. And the lesson of the 1990s in American cities is that the best way to reduce the level of criminal violence is to put more cops on the street. The lesson of the past three years in Iraq is the same: If the goal is to cut our losses, the best move is not to pull back, but to dive in--flood the zone, put as many boots as possible on the most violent ground. Do that, and before long, the ground in question will be a good deal less violent.

War is not poker; the stakes in Iraq are much higher than a little money or a few chips. But war's psychology bears some resemblance to a well-played game of cards. The only way Americans lose this war is to fold. That seems likely to be the next move, but it is the last thing we should do. Far better to call and raise. Our cards are better than theirs, if only we have the nerve to play them."

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

I hate to say it, but Alaa's prediction sounds like a conservative estimate of the outcome of a sudden withdrawal. I say this because he (?) doesn't include the possibility of non-conventional weapons being employed. It is impossible to speculate upon where they might appear and how they would be used, of course, but the potential is there. The insurgents have already been creating chlorine gas bombs, and in the chaos of a scenario like this, it would not be impossible for one or more of the factions to smuggle in the ingredients to build something far worse.

Truth said...

Tom, This is both in response to your question in a differnt thread about McCain's statement, as well as to this post.

I do agree that I would definetly like the war won, as ambiguous as that is in this context. To do this however I dont think we need just this small surge that Bush has sent. As you pointed out as more troops are sent into Iraq civilian deaths decrease. I however tend to agree with General Shinsike's original estimates, which placed the original number of troops we need at 250,000 - 300,000, and those need to be in Iraq not as part of a temporary surge put on a permanent basis. My problem with the Bush administration and the basis for much of my criticism for the war comes from his unwillingness to do that. I understand its not popular, and I understand that the Democrats do not support it. However, I also know that we did control Congress and the Presidence for 2 years, and no serious attempt was ever made to bring the level of troops up to that level.

That is my ideal scenario, however I think it is unlikely and I think the reason it is unlikely is not simply the Democrats. In a recent CBS poll 2/3 of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling the war in Iraq, including 1/3 of Republicans and over 2/3 of Independents. This has manifested itself (as we saw in 2006) in the general public coming out against the war, making it political suicide to advocate sending another 100,000 troops into Iraq.

As the Iraq Study Group said we have in effect three options: go big, go long, or go home. The public is unwilling to go big, and unless the President stands up and says he wants to send signifigantly more troops on a permanent basis then we will be forced to withdraw. This is not what I want, and it is not the best option in my mind. However going long-term the exact way we have been will not be a solution the American public as a whole accepts I fear.

And since I think this post is approximatly the size of a small reaserch paper I'll stop here (sorry about that). By the way, here is the link to the poll I cited http://pollingreport.com/iraq.htm

Tom Forbes said...

I think Bush is a non-factor. He'll keep the troops in Iraq through next year.

I happen to agree with the "Go Big" strategy. Next year, we're electing not just a president, but a commander-in-chief. I'm going to vote for the candidate that believes in victory. And an important part of being commander-in-chief is selling the American public on that strategy.

Yes, I do believe opinion can be turned around.

Devil's Advocate said...

Ummm... to play Devil's Advocate for just one second, but anyone with a high school education not to mention a masters in philosophy from a state school or Business Administration from an Ivy League School. But anyone and I will emphasizes ANYONE! Could have predicted Iraq sliding into this type of Anarchy. When you create instability in a stabilized zone you create anarchy. TADA! YOU NOW HAVE ANARCHY! Ok... Now with that being said... There is a way to win this war because with out a doubt we will have to leave at some point and apparently we are more and more frequently being asked to leave BY THE IRAQIES! Because apparently they for some reason believe that they would rather ruin their country by themselves rather than have us ruin it for them. But we must do many things to actually accomplish this... Follow if you will...

1) One Million Soldiers On The Ground! Now they don't have to be all United States Citizens. We could go back to NATO and the UN because all they wanted to hear from our IDIOT IN CHIEF is... (dub in George Bush voice here) "I'm sorry... And I WAS WRONG... PLEASE HELP ME, AND BY ME I MEAN ALL OF THOSE FINE MEN AND WOMEN THAT I LEFT TO DIE WITHOUT PROPER SUPPORT!" Once DUBYA shows an ounce of honest regret they will come back. But he has to admit he was wrong. Is that so bad? He would become the president again in a matter of seconds. And I will have one billion times more respect for him and would even go as far as to say that, "I the Devil's Advocate, was wrong about every single bad thing I ever said about George W. Bush."

2. Do we all realize that there is millions of 18-35 year old undocumented immigrants in this country? They are from every country in the world, offer them and their immediate families complete citizenship in exchange for 2 tours of service. After all beggars can't be choosers...

3. We must flip Iraq on it's head and flip it inside out... Now I realize that this is a right wing group so before people start foaming at the mouth hoping I'm talking about nuking Iraq into space dust. Sorry to spoil your wishful thinking but what I'm referring to is... The Kurds in the north must be moved to the south east. Why? to get them as far away from Turkey as possible offer them their own country if they relocate. Both groups should and would agree with this... Now the Suunnies are friendly with the Turks but not with the Shia... Guess what? Give them the north with a nice piece of the oil pie. And that's right their own country! The Band in the middle that connects Iran to Syria we gladly hand over to the Shia after we stabilize these new borders and then we maintain military presence in all three of these new allies in the region. Now that's going to cost a lot of money how would we afford to do this? Well we must ask ourselves how much we want this. The average citizen would have to give some. But companies such as Haliburton would have to be completely collapsed for the theft of billions from the American people. Once again we must expect more from those who have TAKEN more then they deserve.

4. We must stop creating the enemies of the United States generationally. What I mean by this is we must actually work with the Palestinians so that they have a place of their own. The Israeli people must give some back. Period... When we start a war and say that one party wants to get out before the fight is over. We must realize that the Republicans who were in power left Afghanistan BEFORE THE FIGHT WAS OVER. SO... We must redouble our efforts there before Karzai makes nice with the Taliban.

Any other questions?

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

I've always wondered how many grammatically incorrect and misspelled non-sequiturs could be fit into one comment. I think DA might have a spot in the Guinness World Record books with this one. :)

Devil's Advocate said...

Of course you attack me paul because as you know failure to do exactly as I listed, means your president doesn't actually want to win the "War on Terror." Instead your president and his cronies are making money on the slow death of thousands of American Soldiers. Ask yourself Paul what's worse a few, or even a million non-sequiturs? One full ton of grammatically incorrect sentences? Thees meny miz zpelt wurds? Or one drop of American Blood, which didn't need to be spilled? I guess between you and I the world now knows whom actually SUPPORTS THE TROOPS! Because unlike you I'd keep the blood in the soldiers and ignore the non-sequiturs.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Heh... ok, DA. It must be true because someone hiding behind an alias can say so.

Devil's Advocate said...

You still haven't said I'm wrong genius. So therefore I'm right? lol

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Actually, I already did, but it might have been stated in a form that is a bit above your level. I'm sorry, I'll make a note of this and remember to write for my audience next time. ;)

Devil's Advocate said...

You know for someone who says they hate it when democrats and the university elitists speak down to the common man; I find it ironic that you drop your false pretense and chose attempted humiliation rather than actual discussion on the points I have addressed. Perhaps the fact that me as a common man from a small town reflects like a mirror your elitist, holier than thou art, pomposity. Pride goeth before the fall Mr. Zimmerman, after all your name means carpenter, but I would wonder other than a glass house what other hallow items you build?

Truth said...

To both of you (and I mean this in the nicest way possible) shut up. Really, this here is one of the biggest problems with American, namely that people from both political parties are more willing to yell and insult each other than to debate policy.

DA, while I appreciate that you are willing to take extreme measures to accomplish victory in Iraq you do realize that the measures are just that, extreme. We will not (however much anybody wants it) to be able to have mass migrations of ethic groups in Iraq, it just wont happen. However I think two things you said were particularly interesting, one of which might be possible.

I like (or at least would be interested to explore in more detail) the idea of offering citizenship to those who are willing to serve 2 terms in active military service. Clearly there would have to be extensive psycological/background/etc. checks, but it would be an interesting concept to explore.

Most importantly out of what you said were the ideas you mentioned in point 4. First off, we need to regain our focus on Afghanistan. We have done incredible work there, but I believe once again due to a lack of troops heroin production has skyrocketed in that country and the Taliban has begun to reemerge. We still have a very good chance to change this around and get Afghanistan back on the track it was headed, but we need to take notice of the problem and act now.

The other important idea there was that we need to begin realizing that many of the problems the Middle East is facing are inter-related. For example, we are unlikely to be able to stop the rise of terrorism without finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. A problem many Arab countries have with us is our support of Israel, and while I don't believe that support should end I do believe we should be providing similar support to Palestine (even if us or the UN have to administer it) to allow Palestine to recover economically to the point that acts of violence seem less appealing and the air is more condusive to democracy.

Furthermore I do believe that we need to get the UN, NATO, EU, etc. involved with the reconstruction of Iraq. It is my belief that if people see the force in Iraq as trully international instead of "the coalition of the willing" they will be more accepting of our help and most importantly terrorist recruiters will not be able to paint the troops as agents of the "great satan" which have come to enslave their lands. While I do absolutly respect the coalition we have, I believe we must be willing to accept diplomatic concessions (such as leadership of the force) need to be made in order to bring the international community onboard with Iraq.

Once again, just my thoughts, how about the rest of the people.

Devil's Advocate said...

Thank you Truth for discussion on what I said as opposed to how I said it. But I disagree on the extreme nature of 1 million troops or the restructuring of Iraq. I would even go as far as to say, that with out at least sending the Kurds south peace will be impossible because the Turks will not allow the Kurds to have any legitimate Kurdish representative government that close to Turkey. Especially, since Abdullah "Apo" Ă–calan leader of the PKA (Kurdish Workers Party) AKA (Kurdish Revolutionary Army) is serving a life sentence in Turkey as we speak. Kurdish attacks on and in Turkey will sky rocket leaving Turkey no other choice but to have another Armenian incident. Peace along that border will be like Israel and the West Bank, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, or Pakistan and India. And the Million soldiers is a goal but 500,000 is a necessity.

D.A.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Well, DA, when it comes down to it, you're just humiliating yourself; or at least you would be, if you were brave enough to back your trolling with a real name. As it goes, all you're accomplishing is the creation of a nasty impression of the people who endorse the ideas you represent and the people you defend. You get off the hook because no one gets to know who you really are, but the ideas and the people you back - Streamas and Leonard, for example - get to be associated with the jilted, hysterical, and disreputable persona you've spun for our entertainment (and it is entertaining, believe me).

Maybe if you would be willing to represent yourself as a man (woman?) and not hide behind that pseudonym of yours, I'd be a bit more willing to treat you like one. Right now, you're just a caricature, so you're only worth taking as seriously as that (glass house? This from the person who won't even tell anyone where his (her?) house may be found...).

Keep dancing, little monkey - I might toss a quarter in your cup soon. :)

Devil's Advocate said...

Oh how eloquent, calling me a monkey... How beautiful a sentiment, well fear not I will keep grinding this organ in the tradition of our forefathers.

Good pick up on the caricature, I am quite capable of writing a complete sentence, but writing as one would speak as opposed to the way standard English dictates does make for a more interesting dialog. ;0)

However, Paul I am from a small town and am a member of an audience that you could and should win over quite easily curious that you cannot. Perhaps, your failings will make your philosophy studies more "well rounded."

Oh and by the way, I learned early when dealing with some members in this group not to share... too much. After all, I believe that those skin heads who were recently arrested were intentionally targeting people who had found dis-favor for standing up to a few people here.

Now that aside, my dear carpenter, and in hopes of fallowing in Truths foot steps; let me conclude by saying, that like many students I have taken a CES class. But I dare say, that no one from CES would recommend an increase in troops, nor would the YD's, nor would the Progressive Students. I'm not with them but I'm certainly not with a government which tries to win on the cheap with half steps and half measures. I think the problem is when you have someone trying to win a war; when the only thing they have ever done in war has been "PLAYING WAR." Well then perhaps someone else should be trusted to "secure" victory.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Well, DA, I'll be sure to take seriously the revelation that I've failed to win over a fictional character to my way of thinking, especially since it comes from one who is apparently against what I am for - who supposedly should be in agreement with me because of some vague yet revealingly elitist stereotype of such people and the ideas at hand - but who cannot say so face-to-face, or at least online as one representing himself (herself?) with a real identity, bogeymen imagery of skinheads and poorly-veiled attempts at guilt by association with such notwithstanding! Oh, terrible fate!

:P

Devil's Advocate said...

:0) Haha... It's great to hear that you will never consider me anything other than "fictional character." "ONLY THE SHADOW KNOWS!" Yes PEZ and I'm the character...lol You are the "character" my little Re-Pez-acan swallowing whatever the administration feeds you, and spitting it back out verbatim, I thought Philosophy classes were meant to teach you to think for yourself? Yet my little Elvis Pezly, not you... Nope you have to be the only person in history to study the thought of acceptance in the style of Gandhi or MLK but utilize it for the accepting of blatant lies and you do it all with that patented PEZ head bob. How simple your life must be...

By the way my Jewish friend I would have never assumed that you had anything to feel guilty about. After all you would have to be the biggest sell out since Hitler himself to be at least part Jewish, (or just have a Jewish name) and still hang out with skin heads. But don't worry, your secret is safe with me.

;0)

Now are you done? Or is it that your little haven in this world has been invaded by people who are left of the neo-cons though still right of center, that has you name calling? Now... I would actually like to talk policy if you are capable of doing that then great! If not we can continue to banter back and forth.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Hrm... Interesting proposal there, DA - we'll have a "discussion" where I get to be a "free thinker" versus a Bush administration doctrine-regurgitating PEZ dispenser, the degree to which I am either one apparently contingent upon the extent of my agreement or disagreement with you, to be determined by you. Huh... What was the supposed point of those philosophy courses, again?

Besides, I'm still skeptical of the worth of having a serious policy discussion (or any discussion, for that matter) with someone who can't be bothered to represent himself (herself?) seriously in the first place. Why can't you be more like Alex McDonald? I don't care much for the guy, but at least he's got a pair. Besides, the sudden rush of interest of supposedly "right of center" participants in this blog, following on the heels of a CR event that must have been terribly frustrating for the YD's owing to its resounding success - one amongst many - sort of suggests that the interests of yourself and others don't really fall along those lines anyway, know what I mean?

(If you don't quite get that, here's a bit of reading for you that may help: http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/troll-tactics.html )

I wish my life were simpler sometimes, really. Long story short, small business is more often Hell than it is Heaven, and the devils that watch over it make sure to keep their pitchforks extra-sharp.

As for my given surname and its history, I actually have no idea if I've got Jewish ancestry or not. We (my family) do have our line traced back to 1600's Germany, to one man who out of his family then was the sole survivor of the 30 years war. The records were found with Lutheran churches there, which was that ancestor's particular faith. Maybe there was a conversion to Lutheranism from Judaism somewhere further back, but we as of yet have no way to know. It's just a likely, "Zimmerman" being one of many old European trade names, that my ancestors ended up with it simply because of the work they did. Consequently, there are lots of us Zimmerman’s around in just about every community, but none of us seem to be related.

I would be interested in finding out if I am related to Bob Dylan though - there's a second or third cousin of my surviving elder Zimmerman relatives who is named Robert Zimmerman, who we're aware of but that none of us have met in person. Could be...

As it goes, I'm actually far more Italian-Catholic stonemason than possibly German-Jewish carpenter, as my mother's side of the family has been here from Veneto just two generations, including mine (the third is among us now). Ending up with this surname is a testament to the great melting pot of assimilation that is this nation (or, at least, that it should be), as the family I've inherited my last name from has been in residence on this continent for over 200 years, with all of the genetic dilution that comes with it.

Nic said...

DA and Paul, might I suggest you make a post solely for your battle of wits, so the rest of us are spared of your ego war.

Tom, I read the article, but it doesn't say anything about what a victory looks like. This seems to be a question that I haven't heard an answer to...

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Nic,

So you're proposing a new post for more of the same to be in two places here, not just one? I don't see how that would necessarily serve your interests. ;)

As for your particular original question, victory is a stable, democractic Iraq, complete with constitutionally defined and protected rights for individual Iraqi citizens, governed by a secular government, that is capable of defending itself on its own. That's been the plan from the beginning.

Nic said...

and what if the Iraqi citizens don't want a secular government?

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Nic,

If that's the case, then I guess they won't have one. Given the religious divisions in the country, however, it's their best option, followed by splitting up and going their seperate ways.

Nic said...

So, victory comes only if the iraqis embrace what we are trying to give them... so, maybe victory isn't attainable if they are not interested in our way of life.

Devil's Advocate said...

Nic, that means as I predict they will have to split up. The Shia will be a religious state the other two will not.

D.A.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Nic,

It certainly won't be if we just give up like a bunch of spineless cynics.

Nic said...

even if we don't give up, they may never embrace what we are trying to provide them with... so what then?

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Which "they" would this be, Nic?

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Some more reading for you, nic:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/12/AR2005101201450.html

That's the Iraqi constitution, which was approved by a vote of the Iraqi people, 78% to 21%, on October 15th of 2005. It calls for an inclusive, representative government, and protection of individual rights under the rule of law. I'd call that the "embrace" you were asking about... unless that 21% is more important to you - you do strike me as the half-empty glass type.

Nic said...

Preamble:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

"Verily we have honored the children of Adam" (Quran 17:70)

The very preamble is quoting from the Qur'an

Article 2:
First: Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation:

Secular government , huh? According to you Paul, we lost already.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

nic,

You're taking out of context portions of the total document, and you're ignoring the fundamental composition of the new Iraqi government, as well as its codified practices. I knew you would do that.

It's not surprising that Islamic elements are there - that's the culture. Are we a theocracy because our Constitution references God and because it is conceptually based and organized on certain biblical principles? Hardly.

The real defining characteristic of a theocracy is that it is the clerics who control everything. Were the new Iraqi government not essentially a secular government, but a theocratic one, it wouldn't feature rule by representatives elected by the people through secret ballot, subject to term limits, and lacking a specific religious qualifier for holding office. Additionally, secular elements are present in the Iraqi government, as well as amongst the Iraqi people, whose power and influence now has a reasonable chance to grow and expand through more of their society's institutions.

You should pay closer attention to the things you quote, too. Most glaringly obvious in the snippets you pulled from the Iraqi Constitution:

"Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation" [emphasis added]

That "a" is important, nic, because it is not a "the." Think about it.

What is going on over there is a process, nic, not unlike what our nation went through at its founding, and what we continually experience today and tomorrow. There are at the core of that process certain principles, however, which are in essence struggling to embed themselves in the core of Iraqi society. It is not something that will happen overnight, and it will never happen if we throw up our hands and quit because it isn't easy.

If you were more interested in anything other than this pathetic hair splitting you're engaging in, perhaps you could be a bit more honest here and not resort to these lame, rhetorical parlor games?

Nic said...

I never said anything about a theocracy. When the constitution declares an official religion and uses that religion as a basis for laws and declares that "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." (Article 2-1a)then you do not have a secular government (which is not the same as saying that it is a theocracy). The end. Game over. Thank you for playing... So maybe you should modify what "victory" looks like in your head.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

"The end. Game over. Thank you for playing..."

Oh, so you know what the deadline for Iraqi democracy is, nic? Please, tell me, when is it? I was under the impression that democracy is a never-ending process. You seem to be privy to the date at which the new Iraqi govenment will ossify and never change. Would you mind sharing it with the rest of us?

"So maybe you should modify what "victory" looks like in your head."

No, nic, you're wrong. Flat. Out. Wrong. What I stated as the shape of victory should never change. It is the ideal to be strived for, and something which must be constantly guarded once it takes hold. It is not something that we cherry pick based on weak willed moment-to-moment pragmatism.

Following on what I said above - when is it over, nic? When is it all "lost"?

Since democracy is a never-ending process, it's only lost when we give up. It's also not something that can ever begin if it is not given the chance. We removed Saddam and his regime, now it can happen for Iraq.

You apparently have given up. That's fine, you may do that. Just don't forget that J.S. Mill quote I posted in my Outside the Wire review. It apparently pertains to you in spades:

"A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Nic said...

Pardon my confusing prose. "The end. Game over. Thank you for playing." - regarding the argument as to whether or not the Iraqi government is secular or not... which it most definately is not (see above for clarification). The End. Game over. Thank you for playing. Seacrest out.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

You're still ignoring context and process. But, if words games are all you're interested in, that's understandable. G'night, Seacrest.

Tom Forbes said...

Nic, victory in Iraq looks like the Philippines.

After gaining the Philippines following the Spanish-American War, the U.S. waged a war against both Filipino nationalists and Muslim insurgents from 1899 to 1913. It was a more or less a conventional war for two years, followed by a decade of guerilla warfare.

The U.S. at one time had to commit over 125,000 troops to pacify the country (a very large number for that time).

4,324 American soldiers were killed and 2,818 were wounded. Anywhere from 250,000 to 1,000,000 Filipinos were killed.

The war was opposed by many Americans, including William Jennings Bryan, Mark Twain, and Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie even offered to pay the U.S. government $20 million for Filipino independence (the same price the U.S. paid Spain for the Philippines). The opposition was ignored and the U.S. did not grant independence to the Philippines until after WWII.

The result of those efforts has been a relatively stable (except for the Ferdinand Marcos interlude) democracy that has been a dependable U.S. ally.

Truth said...

Tom, I think that is an excellent example of if America is willing to committ the reasources needed and what can be accomplished. However, as we have both stated before, our President over the past 4 years has been unwilling to committ the reasources needed to win, as has Congress under both parties.

As we have both stated, more troops is the best option we have, and our refusal to send more troops is the difference between this and the Phillipenes.

Stef said...

Hi Paul,
Bob Dylan is a distant relative of my mother's. We are currently piecing together our family tree. Do you have one started? We can see if anything overlaps! We are all on Ancestry, but haven't intertwined the Zimmerman marriage into the family yet. Let us know if you have anything. It's been hard to piece our family together with all the name changes.