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Old 11-15-2006, 12:48 PM   #1
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Top general warns against Iraq timetable

Top general warns against Iraq timetable
POSTED: 12:36 p.m. EST, November 15, 2006


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. general in Iraq, on Wednesday warned against setting timetables for withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Democrats -- who will take control of the House and Senate in January -- have criticized the war effort in Iraq and some have called for a phased reduction of U.S. troops to begin in as little as four months.

Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Abizaid said, "At this stage in the campaign we'll need flexibility to manage our force and to help manage the Iraqi force. Force caps and specific timetables limit that flexibility."

In opening remarks, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said responsibility for Iraq's future should be put "squarely where it belongs: on the Iraqis. We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves.

"The only way for Iraqi leaders to squarely face that reality is for President Bush to tell them that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months," Levin said.

Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said he was encouraged by what he saw when he visited the region last month.

"I remain optimistic that we can stabilize Iraq," he said.

"While sectarian violence remains high and worrisome, it's certainly not as bad as the situation appeared back in August," he said.

"I wouldn't say that we have turned the corner in this regard, but it's not nearly as bad as it was back in August, and I was encouraged by that."

Abizaid's appearance before the Senate panel was the first congressional appearance by a commander since the midterm elections and the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (Watch why Abizaid was walking into a political hornet's nest -- 1:54)

The last time Abizaid testified before Congress in August, he didn't mince words.

"I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war," Abizaid said then.

Fueling this possibility, he said, was the combination of "sectarian violence, al Qaeda terrorists, insurgents and Shia militants."

As Abizaid appeared before the committees Wednesday, the news from Iraq was not encouraging.

Confusion surrounded the fate of dozens of Iraqis kidnapped from a research institute on Tuesday, and a car bomb killed eight people and wounded 32 in Baghdad. (Full story)

Earlier this week, Abizaid met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad and told him the Iraqi government must quickly take more responsibility for security.

In his August testimony, Abizaid warned that "failure to apply coordinated regional and international pressure ... will further extremism" and could lead to a widening and more perilous conflict.

That day, Abizaid was joined by Gen. Peter Pace, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Rumsfeld, whose exchanges with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, were polite but testy.

After the hearing, Clinton called for Rumsfeld's resignation, telling The Associated Press he had "lost credibility with the Congress and with the people."

Rumsfeld resigned on November 8, the day after the midterm elections shifted power in Congress to the Democrats, an outcome widely seen as a repudiation of the Iraq war policies of Rumsfeld and President Bush.

Also affecting the atmosphere as Abizaid testifies is anticipation of a report from the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan advisory group led by Republican and Bush family friend James A. Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton that is assessing Iraq policy and options for the future. Its report is expected next month. (Full story)

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/11/...aid/index.html
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Old 11-16-2006, 06:55 PM   #2
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This is never going to get resolved until the Iraqies start taking responsibility for their country and acting like they want a democratic nation. I'm still not sure they do... Does anyone in Iraq actually think of themselves as Iraqi and not Sunni, shiia, or from some tribe? I think this is part of the big problem. No sense of national unity..
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Old 11-16-2006, 09:42 PM   #3
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Originally posted by Abomb-baby
This is never going to get resolved until the Iraqies start taking responsibility for their country and acting like they want a democratic nation. I'm still not sure they do... Does anyone in Iraq actually think of themselves as Iraqi and not Sunni, shiia, or from some tribe? I think this is part of the big problem. No sense of national unity..


i know!

it's like they don't even *appreciate* the fact that we invaded without even being asked!
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Old 11-16-2006, 10:10 PM   #4
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I'm not sure why the sarcasm is so necessary, Irvine. We could discuss all day whether we should have or not, but the reality is that we did and we need to figure out a way to get this country on its feet so we can leave. My opinion is that our IDEA of democracy doesn't translate very well in the middle east. Although I feel that many people were happy to vote in a democratic election, that was the easy part. The hard part is getting these factions to get along. Its a whole power struggle right now and I doubt we are gonna be able to get these people to cooperate with each other. I guess some would argue for Saddam to be reinstated as president, perhaps?
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Old 11-16-2006, 10:44 PM   #5
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Old 11-16-2006, 11:26 PM   #6
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Originally posted by Abomb-baby
I'm not sure why the sarcasm is so necessary, Irvine. We could discuss all day whether we should have or not, but the reality is that we did and we need to figure out a way to get this country on its feet so we can leave. My opinion is that our IDEA of democracy doesn't translate very well in the middle east. Although I feel that many people were happy to vote in a democratic election, that was the easy part. The hard part is getting these factions to get along. Its a whole power struggle right now and I doubt we are gonna be able to get these people to cooperate with each other. I guess some would argue for Saddam to be reinstated as president, perhaps?


but think about your original premise.

shouldn't we have known this to begin with?

isn't this just colonialism all over again? haven't we seen this movie before? several times?

can we just admit it: it was a bad, fucked up idea to begin with filled with magical thinking and wish fulfillment (not to mention a man-child who wanted to impress an overachieving daddy) and that we've reaped what we've sewn?

yes, the situation needs to be addressed, but many of us were protesting against this waaaaaay back in january of '03 and, honestly, it's kind of like: well, you've made your bed you neocon fools, now you've got to sleep in it.

can you at least understand not the satisfaction, not the schadenfreude, but the sort of shrug and look that says, "you see?"

other than the extreme sorrow i feel for the Iraqi people, just what do i owe to those who thought this whole mess was a good idea to begin with?
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Old 11-16-2006, 11:44 PM   #7
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No I don't agree, the situation is dynamic and has changed and many the predictions made prior to the war did not come to fruition (Baghdadgrad etc.). I don't see how in 2006 having Saddam Hussein reacting to Irans nuclear program would be a better situation, I also think there should be recognition of what we know post-war about the state of the sanctions regime (rotten to the core) and the aspirations of rearmament by Saddam. The intelligence of WMD stockpiles was wrong - but only because Saddam could afford to bluff Iran in the 1990's; he retained the WMD programs and if kept in power would have no choice but to react against Irans nuclear ambitions.

But that is moot (although Libya and the breaking of the AQ Khan network are not) and the strategic situation is the current issue. All sides agree that keeping US forces in the country forever is not an option, that the solution is political and not military and hopefully that allowing a Talibanised state to emerge in central Iraq would have long term reprocussions. The redifinition away from having a democratic Iraq by this administration is disgusting and is unsurprising given the reluctance to support democratic activists in the region, I just hope that people bear in mind that abandoning Iraqis again would demonstrate that the US can be broken and that it's word is worthless. Pushing on the Iraqi government may need to be done, the time for empty words was over long ago.
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Old 11-17-2006, 12:16 AM   #8
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Originally posted by Irvine511





isn't this just colonialism all over again? haven't we seen this movie before? several times?

can we just admit it: it was a bad, fucked up idea to begin with filled with magical thinking and wish fulfillment (not to mention a man-child who wanted to impress an overachieving daddy) and that we've reaped what we've sewn?

yes, the situation needs to be addressed, but many of us were protesting against this waaaaaay back in january of '03 and, honestly, it's kind of like: well, you've made your bed you neocon fools, now you've got to sleep in it.

can you at least understand not the satisfaction, not the schadenfreude, but the sort of shrug and look that says, "you see?"

other than the extreme sorrow i feel for the Iraqi people, just what do i owe to those who thought this whole mess was a good idea to begin with?


Do you honestly believe this is the same thing as colonialism? I guess our definitions are entirely different.

Yes I can admit that.

I honestly believe most people who spoke out against the war were speaking out for idealogical reasons, not because they thought we wouldn't be able to keep the peace.

Yes sort of gotta get that time in to gloat a little bit first.

I'm not saying you owe anyone anything. However, our politicians got us in this mess, and they need to get us out. And there were many from both sides of the aisle who voted in favor of it.
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:13 AM   #9
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
No I don't agree, the situation is dynamic and has changed and many the predictions made prior to the war did not come to fruition (Baghdadgrad etc.). I don't see how in 2006 having Saddam Hussein reacting to Irans nuclear program would be a better situation, I also think there should be recognition of what we know post-war about the state of the sanctions regime (rotten to the core) and the aspirations of rearmament by Saddam. The intelligence of WMD stockpiles was wrong - but only because Saddam could afford to bluff Iran in the 1990's; he retained the WMD programs and if kept in power would have no choice but to react against Irans nuclear ambitions.


this sets up another flase dichotomy -- either invade in preicsely the manner in which it was done, or Saddam gets nuclear weapons and the world ends, and the notion of "retaining" WMD programs is too vague to be meaningful. the fact remains that inspections were working, and carried with them a sense of legitimacy (something Bush has never, ever had in the eyes of the world) that might have made a far more effective coaliton possible, as opposed to a single man (Rumsfeld) who wanted to use this particular war to prove an idelogical point (the modern American army can overthrow regimes and occupy countries that will magically turn into democracies with less than 150,000 troops).

the Iranian nuclear question is interesting -- might a Saddam-ized Iraq have been more of a deterrant to Iran than the current failed state in which the Iranian regime has a considerable and growing amount of influence?
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Old 11-17-2006, 08:14 AM   #10
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Originally posted by Abomb-baby


Do you honestly believe this is the same thing as colonialism? I guess our definitions are entirely different.

Yes I can admit that.

I honestly believe most people who spoke out against the war were speaking out for idealogical reasons, not because they thought we wouldn't be able to keep the peace.

Yes sort of gotta get that time in to gloat a little bit first.

I'm not saying you owe anyone anything. However, our politicians got us in this mess, and they need to get us out. And there were many from both sides of the aisle who voted in favor of it.


i think we agree that we both want a good ending to a bad situation.
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Old 11-17-2006, 01:00 PM   #11
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the Iranian nuclear question is interesting -- might a Saddam-ized Iraq have been more of a deterrant to Iran than the current failed state in which the Iranian regime has a considerable and growing amount of influence?

Well, that was a popular way of thinking until August 1990. What happened in August 1990 led to the largest deployment of US military forces since World War II and the on going attempts at containment which failed and led to the removal of Saddam's regime in 2003.

Kuwait is actually safer now than it ever has been from foreign invasion and occupation, do to the absence of any hostile force in Iraq having the capabilities to engage in such a task.

But, Iraq must develop the ability to secure its own territory and defend itself. Because of Iraq's size, that will mean that it will once again, technically have the ability to overrun Kuwait, but that will not be an issue provided that Iraq has and maintains a government that is not hostile to its neighbors to the south.

Kuwait is a small country rich in important energy resources, but more importantly it is positioned only a few dozen miles from the largest oil fields in the world in Saudi Arabia. Defending that part of Saudia Arabia has been a central part of US defense planning for decades and is far more important now giving the planets rising demand for oil from that part of the world. Any idea's about future security in the region begin first with what is the best way to insure the security of Persian Gulf Oil Supply.

Any situation that would even marginally increase the probability of a repeat, in some way, of the crises of August 1990 is not an option and is the reason that Saddam had to go.

Iran is certainly a threat, but they have not actually invaded another country since 1856, unlike Saddam who invaded and attacked four different countries in the region in the space of only 10 years. If Iran does anything at all, its through proxies, which shows that they are unwilling to take major direct action, totally unlike Saddam. Ones behavior in this regard is actually more imortant than ones technical capabilities in making an assesment of the threat. While Iran has made great strides in the nuclear department, their military does not have many of the power projection capabilities that Saddam's military had in March 2003. Iran's military is still equiped with a large amount of equipment dating from the 1960s and 1970s from when the Shah was in power. Whats more, their key equipment holdings for important weapon systems are only about half of what Saddam had in 2003.

This will eventually change though as Iran gets stronger. It is vital to security in the region that Iraq have a government that does not threatens its neighbors and buiilds the capabilities to secure its domestic situation and defend itself from Iran.

This brings us back to the real topic of this thread which is US military strategy in Iraq and the deployment level of troops there in the future. It is obvious that "redeployment" or "withdrawal" from Iraq as most democrats propose does nothing to accomplish these objectives. If anything, National Guard Brigade deployments should be increased in order to allow the US military to maintain a larger total number of forces in Iraq. This can make it more difficult for insurgents to operate, and will allow for more training of Iraqi forces as well as imbedding US advisors in such forces.

All partial withdrawal of US forces does is make it more dangerous for US forces that remain, and decrease the amount of resources on hand with which to train Iraqi forces.
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Old 11-17-2006, 04:07 PM   #12
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^ yeah, too bad you fucked the whole region up

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Old 11-17-2006, 06:51 PM   #13
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^ yeah, too bad you fucked the whole region up

Yeah - it was so nice and peaceful before...
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Old 11-17-2006, 07:47 PM   #14
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I love how every fucking thread becomes the democrats want to cut and run.

Give me a break.

It does not excuse the mess we have created. It does not excuse the mess we will be leaving behind.

Amazing isn't it....that it appears the Baker team feels we MUST bring in the neighbors. Something that should have been done before the war started.
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Old 11-17-2006, 07:47 PM   #15
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Yeah - it was so nice and peaceful before...


is it better now?

there was a reason Bush 1 didn't march into Baghdad in 1991.

there were different ways of dealing with the situation and it appears as if we've embraced the worst possible option both for Iraq, and for America (where now military action is a first resort, not a last resort).

i was against this war not necessarily because i thought the overthrow of Hussein was a bad idea, but i was against it because, 1) it was an Arab Yugoslavia, and 2) the current administration was in no way mature enough to do what needed to be done -- i called them out as blinkered ideologues and credulous fools way before 9-11, and i stand fully vindicated.
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