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Old 07-25-2008, 02:36 PM   #16
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As Think Progress quoted CNN correspondent Michael Ware:


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' The sectarian cleansing of Baghdad has been — albeit tragic — one of the key elements to the drop in sectarian violence in the capital. […] It’s a very simple concept: Baghdad has been divided; segregated into Sunni and Shia enclaves. The days of mixed neighborhoods are gone. […] If anyone is telling you that the cleansing of Baghdad has not contributed to the fall in violence, then they either simply do not understand Baghdad or they are lying to you.'
Well Mikey, if that were the case the US military would have been even further along in its goals and could have started operations outside of Baghdad instead of having to first secure the inner city and then move out into the suburbs and finally into the country side. In addition, there would not have been any need to put up walls within the city.

What all the staticical information makes clear, is that what ever segregation within the city had happened prior to the end of 2006 but FAILED to reduce violence levels within the city, which is why once US Surge Brigades arrived, they had to deploy and conduct operations first within the city before moving out from it.


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Of course, Gen. Petraeus took courageous and effective steps to try to stop bombings in markets and so forth. But I am skeptical that most of these techniques had macro effects. Big population movements because of militia ethnic cleansing are more likely to account for big changes in social statistics.
Big population movements and cleansing in Bosnia in 1992 did not reduce violence there. Such shifts only moves the violence to the the ethnic fault lines and sometimes the intinsity of violence increases.



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The Shiitization of Baghdad was thus a significant cause of falling casualty rates. But it is another war waiting to happen, when the Sunnis come back to find Shiite militiamen in their living rooms.
What ever "Shiitization" of Baghdad occured long before violence rates started to drop and do not explain the drop. In addition the Sunni's are still there, and we'll see if this hypothetical new war happens.

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In al-Anbar Province, among the more violent in Iraq in earlier years, the bribing of former Sunni guerrillas to join US-sponsored Awakening Councils had a big calming effect.
Really, then why did violence levels for civilians stay stead or in fact increase?Why did US troop deaths increase in 2006 in Al Anbar province?


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This technique could have been used much earlier than 2006, indeed, could have been deployed from 2003, and might have forestalled large numbers of deaths.
False! US troops had been dealing and trying to negotiate with insurgent and militia groups since early 2004.


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The technique was independent of the troop escalation.
Not entirely. The program was indeed positively impacted by the increase in troops as more Sunni neighborhoods felt secure, and there were more US troops to help train and supply such groups.


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Had large numbers of US soldiers been committed to simply fight the Sunnis or engage in search and destroy missions, they would have stirred up and reinforced the guerrilla movement.
Large numbers of troops were later committed to area's outside of Baghdad to destroy insurgent and Al Quada groups in Anbar and other provinces north of Baghdad.

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There were typically only 10,000 US troops in al-Anbar before 2007 as I recollect (It has a population of a million and a half or so). If the number of US troops went up to 14,000, that cannot possibly have made the difference.
Thats incorrect is there were over 20,000 because the entire 1st Marine MEF is stationed in Anbar province in addition to there being more US army and Marine Units deployed there because of the Surge. In addition, even more units deployed to these area's north of Baghdad once operations had finished in the inner part of the city.

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The Mahdi Army militia of Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr concluded a cease-fire with US and Iraqi troops in September of 2007. Since the US had inadvertently enabled the transformation of Baghdad into a largely Shiite city, a prime aim of the Mahdi Army, they could afford to stand down. Moreover, they were being beaten militarily by the Badr Corps militia of the pro-Iranian Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and by Iraqi security forces, in Karbala, Diwaniya and elsewhere. It was prudent for them to stand down. Their doing so much reduced civilian deaths.
Muqtada al-sadr was no longer in control of much of his militia by then which was the primary reason he wanted to ceasefire. The splinter groups continued fighting into the spring of 2008, although to less and less effect. In addition, violence levels had already been dramatically reduced by then.


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Badr reassertion in Basra was also important, and ultimately received backing this spring from PM Nuri al-Maliki. There were few coalition troops in Basra, mainly British, and most were moved out to the airport, so the troop escalation was obviously irrelevant to improvements in Basra. Now PM Gordon Brown seems to be signalling that most British troops will come home in 2009.
Basra never had the violence problems that the northern part of the country did. In fact, the murder rate in Basra province was less than the murder rate in several major US cities like Washington DC and Detroit. But what problems with militia's that did exist were handled by the growing capability of the Iraqi military in the spring of 2008.



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The vast increase in Iraqi oil revenues in recent years, and the cancellation of much foreign debt, has made the central government more powerful vis-a-vis the society. Al-Maliki can afford to pay, train and equip many more police and soldiers. An Iraq with an unencumbered $75 billion in oil income begins to look more like Kuwait, and to be able to afford to buy off various constituencies. It is a different game than an Iraq with $33 bn. in revenues, much of it pre-committed to debt servicing.
Ahhh, finally here is something that is actually correct. But this would not be happening without the US civilian and military presence on the ground in Iraq to help with development and provide security.
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Old 07-25-2008, 02:37 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Strongbow View Post

Where has Barack Obama ever stated a single condition or prerequisite that the Iraqi military would have to achieve before he would start to withdraw any troops?

for the last time.

when Obama wins, he will begin a policy of withdrawal from Iraq. he believes that US troops and Iraqis operating under a deadline, a timetable, a "generalized time horizon" is the best way for that country to make progress and for the US to address it's current security needs.

if all goes well, that will happen over 16 months. there will be a residual force left in Iraq, probably between 30 and 50K. if all doesn't go well, if conditions on the ground change, then Obama is quite open and flexible to changing rates of deployment.

the important distinction is that, yes, a policy of withdrawal/redeployment will be the new Iraq policy. this is the new paradigm. this stands in contrast to the open-ended, indefinite occupation of Iraq, and the desire to keep Iraq in an imperial relationship as laid out by Charles Krauthammer this morning:

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Obama, reflecting the mainstream Democratic view, simply wants to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. Two years ago, it was because the war was lost. Now, we are told, it is to save Afghanistan. The reasons change, but the conclusion is always the same. Out of Iraq. Banish the very memory. Leave as small and insignificant a residual force as possible. And no long-term bases.

McCain, like George Bush, envisions the United States seizing the fruits of victory from a bloody and costly war by establishing an extensive strategic relationship that would not only make the new Iraq a strong ally in the war on terror but would also provide the U.S. with the infrastructure and freedom of action to project American power regionally, as do U.S. forces in Germany, Japan and South Korea.

For example, we might want to retain an air base to deter Iran, protect regional allies and relieve our naval forces, which today carry much of the burden of protecting the Persian Gulf region, thus allowing redeployment elsewhere.

Any Iraqi leader would prefer a more pliant American negotiator because all countries -- we've seen this in Germany, Japan and South Korea -- want to maximize their own sovereign freedom of action while still retaining American protection.

the Maliki government is in agreement with Obama. they want US troops out by the end of 2010. this corresponds roughly with the exact same timetable as presently laid out by Obama. both Obama and the Iraqi government want the understanding of Iraq policy to shift from one of indefinite occupation into one with a clear, defined end point. the Bush administration has now come around to this viewpoint with their "generalized time horizon."

it is McCain who is now isolated.
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Old 07-25-2008, 03:10 PM   #18
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The troop escalation has not been the complete failure Obama suggested it would be, but it has fallen far short of the triumph claimed by Republicans. The level of violence, though down from the very worst months of the war, remains at levels comparable with 2005, which were considered awful at the time.

Iraqi civilians died at a higher rate in the first four months of this year than in the same period of 2005. The number of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces is about the same. Here is McCain's definition of success: returning to a pace of bloodshed that was once regarded as intolerable.
Only if you narrowly look at the first four months of 2005 vs. the first four months of 2008. The Iraqi military was conducting major operations in the south and there was increased fighting in Sadr city in order to destroy parts of Al Sadr's militia. But since those operations were completed violence for civilians over the past 3 months is 33% LESS than it was in 2005.

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I'd suggest some comparisons. The Sri Lankan civil war between Sinhalese and Tamils has killed an average of 233 persons a month since 1983 and is considered one of the world's major ongoing trouble spots. That is half the average monthly casualties in Iraq recently. In 2007, the conflict in Afghanistan killed an average of 550 persons a month. That is about the rate recently according to official statistics for Iraq. The death rate in 2006-2007 in Somalia was probably about 300 a month, or about half this year's average monthsly rate in Iraq. Does anybody think Afghanistan or Somalia is calm? Thirty years of North Ireland troubles left about 3,000 dead, a toll still racked up in Iraq every five months on average.
Figures for the conflict in Afghanistan include members of the Taliban who actually represent more than half of the casualty totals. The violence level in Afghanistan had been favorably compared to Iraq over the years, its only being looked at pessamistically now because violence levels in Iraq have dropped below what they are in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan levels of violence were always viewed as being relatively low. Northern Ireland is a first world country which is why the deaths from violence were considered and are shocking. Lets also remember that Northern Ireland is 30 times smaller than Iraq.

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All the talk of casualty rates, of course, is to some extent beside the point. The announced purpose of the troop escalation was to create secure conditions in which political compromises could be achieved.
15 out of 18 benchmarks have been achieved or have had satisfactory progress made on them. You would not have had any progress at all under Obama's January 2007 plan which would have increased violence and put the Iraqi military and government at risk of collapse.

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The troop escalation in and of itself was probably not that consequential. That the troops were used in new ways by Gen. Petraeus was more important. But their main effect was ironic. They calmed Baghdad down by accidentally turning it into a Shiite city, as Shiite as Isfahan or Tehran, and thus a terrain on which the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement could not hope to fight effectively.
The statistics on casualties and when they dropped as well as when surge Brigades arrived and the operations they performed show that the increase in troop levels was the key to reducing the violence. How the troops were used is also important too.

Its totally false thought that Baghdad now has the same religious demographics as a Shia city like Ifahan or Tehran. Those Iranian cities are 95% Shia, Baghdad is not even close to that. The Sunni's are still in Baghdad, but what has happened is that the insurgent and Al Quada element has been successfully pushed out do to the successful surge increase and tactics of the US military.

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It is Obama who has the better argument in this debate, not Senator McCain, who knows almost nothing about Iraq and Iraqis, and overestimates what can be expected of 30,000 US troops in an enormous, complex country.
Another now laughable quote from the past. The results are in and McCain was more right on target than even the most pro surge advocates. Obama said that the Surge would INCREASE violence. Voters have to wonder if they want someone in the Whitehouse who has so much to learn and is so out of touch when it comes to military strategy and foreign policy.

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But the problem for McCain is that it does not matter very much for policy who is right in this debate. Security in Iraq is demonstrably improved, for whatever reason, and the Iraqis want the US out. If things are better, what is the rationale for keeping US troops in Iraq?
As I have said many times in this forum before, counterinsurgency and nation building take years to successfully complete and do often involve setbacks and reversals. It takes consistent long term application of these strategies in order to succeed. There is still much work to do in Iraq despite the low levels of violence, and before any non-surge US combat brigades can leave, the Iraqi military must develop the sufficient force levels and capabilities to replace such withdrawn units. Sustainable security must first be achieved before large numbers of US combat brigades start to leave. The progress that has been made over the past 18 months is very large, but it has not yet reached the point that it is irreversable.
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Old 07-25-2008, 03:39 PM   #19
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for the last time.
for the last time.

when Obama wins, he will begin a policy of withdrawal from Iraq. he believes that US troops and Iraqis operating under a deadline, a timetable, a "generalized time horizon" is the best way for that country to make progress and for the US to address it's current security needs.

if all goes well, that will happen over 16 months. there will be a residual force left in Iraq, probably between 30 and 50K. if all doesn't go well, if conditions on the ground change, then Obama is quite open and flexible to changing rates of deployment.

That has NEVER been Obama's plan, but if it is now thats great. If you look at his proposal in January of 2007 which was on his website, in the his major foreign policy article in foreign affairs, as well as his own legislative proposal, he never mentions any conditions or prerequisites for the Iraqi military to first meet before any non-surge Brigades leave. His only condition is that if the Iraqi's achieve all 18 bench marks ie THINGS GET BETTER, that he might suspend the withdrawal. If things were to get worse, he makes no offer to suspend the withdrawal, increase US troop levels etc.

Its all there in his carefully written policy proposals in Iraq in 2007 as well as the spending bills that he voted for that required the President to immediately start withdrawing troops. If Obama has changed his position thats great, but his statements only serve to confuse people on where he actually stands. If he is moving towards a CONDITIONS BASED WITHDRAWAL plan he is moving toward the "as they stand up, we'll stand down" which has been Bush administration policy for over five years now.

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the important distinction is that, yes, a policy of withdrawal/redeployment will be the new Iraq policy.
The Bush administration has always wanted to withdraw troops as soon as they possibly could provided that conditions on the ground warrented it. In 2002, the initial Bush plans for Iraq called for the withdrawal of more than half of US forces by the summer of 2004. By December 2006, there was to be as little as 5,000 US troops in the country. Thats a fact! But conditions on the ground change those plans.


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the Maliki government is in agreement with Obama. they want US troops out by the end of 2010. this corresponds roughly with the exact same timetable as presently laid out by Obama. both Obama and the Iraqi government want the understanding of Iraq policy to shift from one of indefinite occupation into one with a clear, defined end point. the Bush administration has now come around to this viewpoint with their "generalized time horizon."
You continue to fail to understand the key ingredient in all this. Everyone would like to leave Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible. The key though is that some people only want there to be a withdrawal when conditions on the ground warrent it, while others simply want to leave Iraq claiming that its a basket case and its not up to the United States to solve "an Iraqi Civil War".

If your for staying on the ground in Iraq until conditions improve enough to allow you to safely leave then you are for the Bush plan and the plan that I have argued in here time and again. Withdrawal but only if it is conditions based. No pre-mature withdrawal. I've stated that multiple times and I know most people in here including yourself did not like the idea.

Bush has never had a policy of indefinite occupation of Iraq. Fundamentally, its the same policy he has in Afghanistan, to develop both countries to the point that they can handle their own internal affairs without the need to have US ground troops. Thats been the plan since day one, and If Obama is now for that, then he has moved from his previous position in 2007.

The Iraqi government does not want to see the US leave before the Iraqi military can sufficiently take over from US combat brigades that are withdrawn and the conditions on the ground warrent an American withdrawal. The issue here is conditions, not wishful ideas of a time in the future. If the two happen to match up, thats great, but withdrawal should only occur when conditions warrent it, not because its simply that day of the month.
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Old 07-25-2008, 03:55 PM   #20
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Context matters, the US conclusively proved twice that your scary lists of x amount of soldiers and y amount of artillery shells was hollow because it was in the context of the worst troop morale, the most feeble organization, the most inadequate and obsolete equipment. I don't want to get into a debate about WMDs, but it seems fairly obvious that Saddam stopped being a serious conventional threat at least by his humiliation at the end of the Gulf War. With Israel and US troops in the area providing an overwhelming advantage and protecting Gulf states, any conventional actions would end in his demise.
Your failing to understand the context of the military balance in the Gulf itself and the size of Kuwait and what would be required to successfuly defend against a determined thrust by Saddam's forces even without considering WMD. Israel is IRRELEVANT to the situation because it is seperated from the Persian Gulf and Kuwait by hundreds of miles of desert. It has no logistical capacity to respond to Saddam's military moves that far away except for limited air support, but would not go out of its way to do that, given its own security problems, in the risk of intervening in a conflict between Arab countries as well as over flight difficulties over Arab countries.

The United States were not able to deploy large numbers of US forces in the region because the Gulf countries did not want to tolerate such a large indefinite US military presence.

How high do US military casualties have to be for you to feel that military action was necessary?

I suppose the United States had nothing to fear from the Taliban in Afghanistan because only 1 US soldier was killed in combat in the fall of 2001 when the Taliban was removed from power there?

Operation Iraqi Freedom was a difficult and risky operation. US casualties were kept low because Saddam did not actually believe the United States was going to invade, and Iraqi defensive military preperations were not as extensive as they could have been and were more about absorbing a limited air attack like Desert Fox in 1998, rather than a full scale ground invasion. The United States was invading not to long after the sanctions and weapons embargo on Iraq had started to fall apart which meant Iraq had not had much time to start rearming with newer more advanced weapons. The United States was able to deploy a sufficiently large force in Kuwait before the war that it would not normally have stationed there indefinitely because of political restraints on the size of US deployments in the region. US defensive operations had previously required for forces to deploy as quickly as possible from the United States to defend Kuwait, but your at a big disadvantage when the enemy just has to walk across the border and you need to rush some forces half way around the world. The CIA estimated in the mid-1990s that if Saddam put all his forces into it, he could likely still overrun Kuwait although he would most likely not get much further than that. But with the collapse of containment with the essential end of effective sanctions and the weapons embargo, Iraq could begin to rearm with newer weapons as well as sell oil to finance another military build up that would upset any security balance the US was depending on in order to defend the Gulf States with such a light military presence because of political restrictions. Much of the US plan involved pre-positioning equipment and then rushing the troops over by air, much like the plans to defend Europe in the Cold War. The problem with that plan though is that the enemy can find ways to interdict the deployment or sabotage the pre-positioned equipment before the two meet up. Iraq may have been years away from many of these capabilities, but why wait until then to do what needs to be done? Why wait until heavy casualties will definitely be unavoidable and you risk not being able to accomplish the mission, at least initially, which could have even more unpredictable consequences.

Another factor in lower coalition casualties during the invasion was that many Iraqi military units chose not to fight directly, but rather to wait and fight from the shadows after the occupation began using the civilian population as a way to hide and operate.

A bloodier invasion would only lead to a more costly and difficult occupation and rebuilding phase. Waiting for Saddam to improve his defensives so he could increase the cost of any invasion and post-invasion occupation phase does not make any sense at all.
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Old 07-25-2008, 05:13 PM   #21
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Hey, I was the first post!
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I suppose the United States had nothing to fear from the Taliban in Afghanistan because only 1 US soldier was killed in combat in the fall of 2001 when the Taliban was removed from power there?
Cute, but I'm sure you already knew that the majority of US intervention in 2001 was through low-risk air support and special operations advising, not having ground infantry like in Iraq.
Cute, but I'm sure you already knew that the majority of US intervention in 2001 was through low-risk air support and special operations advising, not having ground infantry like in Iraq.
Cute, but I'm sure you already knew that the majority of US intervention in 2001 was through low-risk air support and special operations advising, not having ground infantry like in Iraq.

Oops, sorry about that.

Anyway. I did find bits in your copied response that I missed the first time, such as the notion that given enough time, the Iraqi Navy would be sinking our ships before they got to the Middle East. The U.S Navy! Let's discuss this further.

GlobalSecurity.org looks at Saddam's Iraqi Navy
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The Iraqi surface threat consisted of nine aging Osa I/II Patrol boats armed with the SSN-2A/B (STYX) missile; the missile has a range 25 nm. These boats were poorly maintained, and the number of mission-capable units was unknown at the outset of the Gulf War. Iraqi Osa's did not train for any type of tactical scenario and had not fired a styx missile since the early 1980's. Their ability to close and successfully engage US warships was suspect. Even if Iraq had acquired the more advanced Styx, the navy had never practiced over-the-horizon targeting and was probably be limited to line-of-sight engagements.
9 Patrol Boats!

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During the first days of its August 1990 invasion, Iraq captured 6 Exocet-equipped kuwaiti patrol boats (1 Lurssen FPB-57 and 5 Lurssen TNC-45's), and a cache of more than 100 MM-40 Excocet missiles. The Iraqi Navy was apparently operating at least one of the TNC-45's, but its ability to successfully fire an Exocet in combat was doubtful, given the navy's general lack of proficiency and its unfamiliarity with the system. Nonetheless, the threat posed by the captured Kuwaiti boats could not be discounted.
6 more foreign patrol boats, with accompanying missiles they were unfamiliar with!

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The Iraqi navy had a small contingent of seven Super Frelon helicopters, four of which may have been operational. The Super Frelons carried the AM-39 Exocet anti-surface missile and, with a combat radius of approximately 150 NM, could threaten shipping in the Northern Persian Gulf. Super Frelons operated with some success against merchant convoys transiting to Bandar Khomeini during the war with Iran.
7 helicopters, 4 of which may have been operational!

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At the time of the Gulf War, the Iraqi Navy was a coastal defense force that could not effectively operate far from territorial waters. Its ships, aircraft, and coastal defense missiles posed a minimal threat to US naval forces. Nonetheless, Iraq could have covertly deployed a variety of bottom-influence and moored-contact mines that could have created a hazard to all shipping in the Gulf.
Well, it would have pissed off the oil tankers and disrupted markets until minesweepers could come in. And what about pre-invasion?

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As of late 2002, of the units that remained, most were in a poor state of repair, seldom operate even for training purposes, and the crews were estimated to be in a poor state of readiness. The Iraqi navy consisted of three major surface classes.... Iraq is estimated to have more than 150 of these smaller boats. Although these boats were typically the size of small to medium power/speed boats and not heavily armed, they could be used for limited mining or raiding missions.
Sounds like a sturdy foundation on which to threaten the world's seas.

Versus: The US Navy! The US Navy
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11 aircraft carriers, 33 amphibious warfare vessels, 104 cruisers, destroyers, and frigates, 70 submarines
Along with 7,500 aircraft in the Air Force.

The US military is the most dominant force on Earth, and uniquely effective at projecting power. Not even Russia or China today can do what you're ascribing to Saddam, given enough money and time. Look at your Cold War analogy- bringing troops over to Europe was a problem when facing the Soviet Union at the height of its military buildup. The delusion necessary to believe that Saddam had or would have any kind of threatening conventional military force is immense. Every use of his military would end in his annihilation- we saw this in Kuwait when he invaded, where the US patiently gathered forces and blew him apart, we saw this in 2003 when the US said screw it and went in, blowing him apart. Your paranoid fears about Iraq's Navy potentially threatening us casts a bit of a shadow on the other claims that the dam was about to break on sanctions letting advanced military weaponry be sold to Saddam. In the meantime, even if he was sold it the US would just be blowing it up with fly overs.
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Old 07-25-2008, 06:44 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
but, really, is this all you guys have? that McCain was "right" about the surge? fully 65% of the American public thinks going to war in Iraq was a mistake.
If by "you guys", you mean "me"....I do believe that Illinois State Senator Obama was right to oppose the invasion, and Senator McCain was wrong. And since the U.S. fully committed to war, McCain has been mostly right, and Obama not right.

A good argument for each candidate can be made on the distinction I make above, if someone will accept that distinction. But I don't think many people accept it, not around here anyway. It's been mostly hedging and trying to cloud years of rhetoric.
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Old 07-25-2008, 07:47 PM   #23
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In 2002, the initial Bush plans for Iraq called for the withdrawal of more than half of US forces by the summer of 2004. By December 2006, there was to be as little as 5,000 US troops in the country. Thats a fact!
This little fact further highlights the extremely poor judgment of the Bush administration in its plans for Iraq, and yet another reason why invading may not have been such a great idea. They went in with the naive notion that they'd be greeted as liberators, would help set up the new government in a jiffy and hop back home in a little over two years time. Countless unforeseen blunders, billions of dollars in excess of even the most pessimistic Bush administration estimates of the cost, and thousands of lives later, it would seem that going into the war, the administration had little concept of the actual reality of what they were undertaking. That's not a good place to start a war from.
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Old 07-26-2008, 03:42 PM   #24
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Hey, I was the first post!


Cute, but I'm sure you already knew that the majority of US intervention in 2001 was through low-risk air support and special operations advising, not having ground infantry like in Iraq.
Cute, but I'm sure you already knew that the majority of US intervention in 2001 was through low-risk air support and special operations advising, not having ground infantry like in Iraq.
Cute, but I'm sure you already knew that the majority of US intervention in 2001 was through low-risk air support and special operations advising, not having ground infantry like in Iraq.

Oops, sorry about that.
Well, maybe you should think a little more before you decide to write something.


Your claim is that Saddam was not that dangerous because of the level of US casualties in removing the regime. I simply said well then look at the level of US casualties in removing the Taliban from power, far less than it took to remove Saddam.

The fact that the United States was able to remove the Taliban through air support and special operations forces actually is another way to drive the point home even further. The United States used far LESS military assets in removing the Taliban and had a death rate from combat that was less than one percent of what it took to remove Saddam from power. So does that mean by your simple logic that it was not necessary to remove the Taliban from power? Nope.



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Anyway. I did find bits in your copied response that I missed the first time, such as the notion that given enough time, the Iraqi Navy would be sinking our ships before they got to the Middle East. The U.S Navy! Let's discuss this further.
Do me one favor, could you find where in my post I said ANYTHING about the Iraqi Navy sinking US ships before they got to the Middle East? Where did I mention either the Iraqi Navy or the US Navy?


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The US military is the most dominant force on Earth, and uniquely effective at projecting power. Not even Russia or China today can do what you're ascribing to Saddam, given enough money and time.
Even though the United States is the most powerful military in the world and has power projection capabilities that nearly every other country in the world does not have, its still has vulnerabilities depending on the context of the security situation being looked at.

Next, I can tell you have no idea what I am actually refering to when I'm talking about the ability to interdict US forces that are flown in and then pick up their equipment that is prepositioned in the desert. It was a well known fact in NATO planning for the defense of Western Europe during the Cold War, that those plans while they may have saved money on basing more troops in Europe did have its vulnerabilities. The Soviet military regularly practiced Special Forces operations that were designed to go behind NATO lines and temporarily sieze sites that had Pre-positioned equipment for US forces that were being flown from the United States. In siezing them, the Soviet special forces would spray the equipment with chemical weapons which would prevent US forces from picking up the equipment for use until they went through the decontamination process which could take weeks for such a large amount of equipment. Another way the Soviets had to accomplish this task is through the use of Aircraft equipped with bombs and missiles with conventional and chemical warheads. Ballistic missiles armed with conventional and chemical warheads could also target and potentially hit such sites which the US military relies on for this particular process of rapidly reinforcing another part of the world.



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Look at your Cold War analogy- bringing troops over to Europe was a problem when facing the Soviet Union at the height of its military buildup.
The United States was not able to have large conventional forces stationed in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia like it did in Germany and other places during the Cold War because of the political restrictions in the region. In addition, Kuwaits military and even the Saudi military are relatively small compared to Saddam's military, even post-1991 Gulf War, and have far less combat experience and training. So that is where the vulnerability lies, small host country military's as well as other weaknesses, then relatively small US Force levels station in the region, requiring the United States to bring substantial forces from the United States if Saddam were to try launch a full scale invasion of Kuwait again. Its a problem even without Saddam getting out from sanctions and the weapons embargo which he had essentially done by 2002, which would have led to a decade of rearming with new more advanced weapons which would further reduce or negate many of the advantages the US military would have in such a situation. Then add in the WMD and Ballistic missile factors and the situation becomes even more serious.


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The delusion necessary to believe that Saddam had or would have any kind of threatening conventional military force is immense.
Saddam's military strength had been regarded as a threat to the smaller weaker Gulf States since the 1980s, but up until 1990, most believed he would never invade or attack another Arab state. The invasion of Kuwait was a first in the modern Arab World. In judging the threat, you have to look at it from the perspective of what is specifically in the region at the time, and the small distance that some forces have to go to cause major problems for the whole world. Until you do that, your not really going to understand the problems here which every CENTCOM commander has acknowledged and every US Presidential Administration has acknowledged both Republican and Democratic. Sorry, but the US military and the past administrations are not delusional when it comes to these threats.

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Every use of his military would end in his annihilation-
Eventually that may have been true, but its irrelevant to the level of damage he could do before that occured. Saddam launched multiple risky adventures thorughout his 24 year reign in power that could have led to the annihilation of his regime, but that never stopped him. Saddam had shown that he had a different way of caculating the odds, which is probably the #1 reason he was so dangerous and had to be removed. Significant wealth and power in close proximity to the planets vital energy needs can be used to do a lot of damage, especially when the actor does not accurately caculate the risk to himself.


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we saw this in Kuwait when he invaded, where the US patiently gathered forces and blew him apart
But consider for a second what would have happened if Saddam had not just overrun Kuwait, but Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States as well. Now you have no place for your forces to "patiently gather" for an invasion and removal of Saddam's forces from Kuwait, which I might add the majority of Democrats were against in 1991, and most have now admitted how foolish their opposition was back then.


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we saw this in 2003 when the US said screw it and went in, blowing him apart.
Saddam at this point, had been weakened from the first Gulf War, but was still a threat. Saddam actually did not expect the invasion and was actually preparing more for just airstrikes. In addition, many of his forces drifted away and became the backbone of the insurgency early on. The problem would be what would an invasion look like years later with Saddam rearmed with the latest weapons, and with a well stocked WMD arsonal because sanctions and the weapons embargo against him had essentially collapsed by 2002. The margin of error you can have here is very small when the enemy only has to march a few dozen miles across his own border to cause massive damage to the global economy. Saddam does not need a military large enough to conquer a continent, he only needs enough to temporarily take several dozen square miles of sand just across his border.



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Your paranoid fears about Iraq's Navy potentially threatening us casts a bit of a shadow on the other claims that the dam was about to break on sanctions letting advanced military weaponry be sold to Saddam.
I have never ONCE mentioned or said anything about Iraq's Navy being a threat. As a matter of fact, I don't think I have ever mentioned Iraq's Navy at any time in the forum. Again, be careful when you read the post.

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In the meantime, even if he was sold it the US would just be blowing it up with fly overs.
Maybe in Disney Land, but in the real world its a bit different as US Marines stationed near Kafgi Saudi Arabia found out during the Air Campaign of the 1991 Gulf War. US Air power gives the US military enormous advantages, but its not a magic wand. It has not stopped the supply of weapons and money going to militia and insurgence in Iraq during the current war either. Just another reason why US ground troops are so vital.
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Old 07-26-2008, 04:04 PM   #25
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This little fact further highlights the extremely poor judgment of the Bush administration in its plans for Iraq, and yet another reason why invading may not have been such a great idea. They went in with the naive notion that they'd be greeted as liberators, would help set up the new government in a jiffy and hop back home in a little over two years time. Countless unforeseen blunders, billions of dollars in excess of even the most pessimistic Bush administration estimates of the cost, and thousands of lives later, it would seem that going into the war, the administration had little concept of the actual reality of what they were undertaking. That's not a good place to start a war from.
Well, was the preperation of the Clinton administration prior to going into Bosnia and Kosovo any better? What if the Bosnia Serbs had resisted the US occupation of their part of Bosnia, how many casualties would the US take, for how long, and what force levels would be needed to defeat the insurgency? Same question for the Kosovo war, Bill Clinton was starting to consider invading Serbia with ground troops because the airstrikes had not gotten the Serbs to back down. If the US ended up invading Serbia in 1999, how many casualties would there have been and how long would US forces of had to remain in occupation of Serbia? If Bill Clinton had had actually deployed ground troops to begin with along the border, Serbia may have given in to the demands that it withdraw its military from Kosovo without the need even for airstrikes. Another fact that complicated matters during the Kosovo crises, was that all the food and humanitarian supplies the administration had set up to handle an initial refugee crises was on the ground in remote area's of Kosov that were overrun by Serbian troops. They did not have any supplies at all for Kosovar Refugees that made it across the border into Albania initially because of that.

I agree the planning in hind site for the Iraq invasion was not the best it could have been but it was not as far off the mark as many claim especially given US force levels at the time and what was soon deployed on the ground within months of the start of the invasion. The reason I brought up Bush's original plans for Iraq, post occupation was to show that there is nothing to this myth of the Bush administration wanting to stay in Iraq indefinitely.

In addition, if like Bosnia and Kosovo wars, there was not an insurgency to deal with, its possible that US troops could have been withdrawn down to that level in the original time frame given by the administration before the war. But conditions on the ground changed in Iraq, and that is what dictates when US forces can and should withdraw.
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Old 07-26-2008, 04:07 PM   #26
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maybe flowers would shoot from their guns instead, too!

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In addition, if like Bosnia and Kosovo wars, there was not an insurgency to deal with, its possible that US troops could have been withdrawn down to that level in the original time frame given by the administration before the war. But conditions on the ground changed in Iraq, and that is what dictates when US forces can and should withdraw.
Maybe in Disneyland there wouldn't be an insurgency to deal with, but in the real world it's a bit different.
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Old 07-26-2008, 04:16 PM   #27
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Maybe in Disneyland there wouldn't be an insurgency to deal with, but in the real world it's a bit different.
Wow, I didn't know you considered Bosnia and Kosovo to be Disneyland? Interesting.
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Old 07-26-2008, 05:33 PM   #28
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I apologize for the length. The short version of my response is that I am right, and that the U.S Senate thinks I’m right. With respect to Saddam’s conventional military threat, these are the assessments of the Senate Report on Prewar Intelligence:

THE REACH OF WAR: PREWAR ASSESSMENTS; PANEL DESCRIBES LONG WEAKENING OF HUSSEIN ARMY - New York Times

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The committee's report implies that war opponents were essentially correct when they argued that Iraq posed little immediate threat to the United States. Before the war, those who held this view, both in Congress and at the United Nations, argued that continued containment was preferable to an invasion.
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After reviewing about 400 analytical documents written by the intelligence agencies from 1991, after the first gulf war, to 2003, when Mr. Hussein was toppled, the committee unanimously concluded that ''the body of assessments showed that Iraqi military capabilities had steadily degraded following defeat in the first gulf war in 1991. Analysts also believed those capabilities would continue to erode as long as economic sanctions remained in place.''
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Other reports that year warned of Mr. Hussein's ''unpredictability and proclivity for dramatic and rash behavior'' but said only ''marginal'' rebuilding of the military had occurred. Without a ''large, standing coalition military presence'' in the region, one said, there could be no guarantee of deterring him.

From about 1999 on, though, assessments ''noted that the condition of all Iraqi military branches was poor,'' the Senate committee found.

In 2002, a report judged ''that Iraqi military morale and battlefield cohesion are more fragile today than in 1991.''

By January 2003, an assessment found that ''Saddam probably will not initiate hostilities for fear of providing Washington with justification to invade Iraq. Nevertheless, he might deal the first blow, especially if he perceives that an attack intended to end his regime is imminent.''
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Your claim is that Saddam was not that dangerous because of the level of US casualties in removing the regime. I simply said well then look at the level of US casualties in removing the Taliban from power, far less than it took to remove Saddam.
No, my claim is that Saddam's conventional military was not dangerous to the US because those large scary numbers you quoted were actually in the context of obsolete equipment, poor to non-existent morale and a world power with troops next door. This was conclusively demonstrated during the two Gulf Wars, when we actually fought him. And, uh, by the US government report.

You, however, claimed that Saddam was one of the biggest threats to US and global security in 2003, and cited this:
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had a military force of 430,000 troops, 3,000 tanks, over 2,000 armored personal carriers, over 2,000 artillery pieces, over 300 combat aircraft, in possession of short range ballistic missiles with ranges that were in violation of the 1991 Gulf War Ceacefire agreement and was continuing to not cooperate with the rest of the world on these serious matters?
Saying "oh, well it's what he could have had" in some fanciful future where Saddam is inexplicably left alone to develop a quality military is inarguably shifting the goal posts. You responded to Dieman by saying Iraq had these and therefore was dangerous. U.S intelligence disagreed. The fact is, any aggressive action toward neighboring countries after the Gulf War would be clear cause for the UN sanctioning war eliminating the regime.


Bullet points!
  • The Iraqi Navy
    Quote:
    Next, I can tell you have no idea what I am actually refering to when I'm talking about the ability to interdict US forces that are flown in and then pick up their equipment that is prepositioned in the desert. It was a well known fact in NATO planning for the defense of Western Europe during the Cold War, that those plans while they may have saved money on basing more troops in Europe did have its vulnerabilities. The Soviet military regularly practiced Special Forces operations that were designed to go behind NATO lines and temporarily sieze sites that had Pre-positioned equipment for US forces that were being flown from the United States. In siezing them, the Soviet special forces would spray the equipment with chemical weapons which would prevent US forces from picking up the equipment for use until they went through the decontamination process which could take weeks for such a large amount of equipment. Another way the Soviets had to accomplish this task is through the use of Aircraft equipped with bombs and missiles with conventional and chemical warheads. Ballistic missiles armed with conventional and chemical warheads could also target and potentially hit such sites which the US military relies on for this particular process of rapidly reinforcing another part of the world.
    This is wildly unrealistic for a tinpot dictator in the Middle East to ever develop the capability to do with US forces hovering over the country. Again: you cite the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War as a comparable threat to US deployment. Is Iraq going to bomb our bases with their stealth aircraft? Will they discover our secret bases with their numerous satellites? I see you covered your bases by saying Saddam didn't have any of these capabilities but we couldn't have waited- and we cannot wait until he builds a Space Laser! Then he can shoot down our satellites and hold the world hostage! We must invade Iraq before the Space Laser is built. If you object you are an appeaser.
  • Saddam is crazy...enough not do things because they're too crazy
    Quote:
    But consider for a second what would have happened if Saddam had not just overrun Kuwait, but Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States as well. Now you have no place for your forces to "patiently gather" for an invasion and removal of Saddam's forces from Kuwait, which I might add the majority of Democrats were against in 1991, and most have now admitted how foolish their opposition was back then.
    Then he would have overreached and been destroyed? You should probably look at a map of the Middle East, and compare the size of Saudi Arabia to Kuwait.

Quote:
Maybe in Disney Land, but in the real world its a bit different as US Marines stationed near Kafgi Saudi Arabia found out during the Air Campaign of the 1991 Gulf War. US Air power gives the US military enormous advantages, but its not a magic wand. It has not stopped the supply of weapons and money going to militia and insurgence in Iraq during the current war either. Just another reason why US ground troops are so vital.
Are you suggesting that US Marines realized that Kafgi, Saudi Arabia was not, in fact, Disneyland?
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Old 07-26-2008, 07:15 PM   #29
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Everyone would like to leave Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Charles Krauthamer wouldn't. He'd like us to stay and "seize the fruits" of war. Do you disagree with Charles Krauthamer?
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Old 07-26-2008, 10:38 PM   #30
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Northern Ireland is a first world country which is why the deaths from violence were considered and are shocking. Lets also remember that Northern Ireland is 30 times smaller than Iraq
Comparing Northern Ireland to Iraq in terms of geograpical area is utterly meaningless, a more meaningful comparison might be that in population terms Northern Ireland has around one twentieth of the population of Iraq, so if the statistic of 3,000 deaths every 5 months in Iraq is correct, that approximates to 150 every 5 months in NI, which approximates to 11,000 over 30 years.

So at this, according to you, relatively peaceful time in Iraq, deaths are occuring at a rate approximately FOUR times higher than in Northern Ireland during the troubles. And bear in mind the figures of 3,000 deaths in Northern Ireland includes the worst years of the Troubles, whereas the estimate of 3,000 deaths every 5 months in Iraq specifically excludes the worst years of the Iraqi conflict.

If that is your definiton of success, then I would not wish to see your definition of failure.
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