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Old 07-22-2008, 03:54 PM   #781
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SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.

SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic.
Doesn't exactly sound like "We are with McCain on the issue."
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:17 PM   #782
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Whats silly is your continuing ignorance or unwillingness to acknowledge the key difference between Barack Obama's withdrawal policy and the Iraqi government and McCains policy on withdrawal. McCain and the Iraqi government are for withdrawal only as conditions warrent it. Obama is for a withdrawal regardless of conditions on the ground, start withdrawing immediately with all combat brigades out in 16 months period.


i understand this is the talking point that the McCain has handed out about how best to frame Obama's position,

but that doesn't make this even remotely true. it's as if all the talk of "refining" has gone totally unnoticed by you, and it's as if you're being willfully blind to the fact that Obama is, of all things, flexible and practical, and you're painting him to be an inflexible Bushie. in fact, it was George Bush who ignored these facts on the ground for the first 4 years of the Iraq occupation, and it took an electoral bitch slap and a new SecDef to get him to adjust his policy even slightly.

i suppose that's some kind of weird judo, but it's laughably false.

the advocacy of a "general time horizon" is absolutely a call for a timetable for withdrawal. there's no two ways around it. this is a clear attempt to co-opt Obama's position. what took them so long? especially when you look at both McCain's budget plan and his Afghanistan plan and how they rely on troops being taken out of Iraq -- regardless of conditions on the ground, lest he somehow not have the budget balanced by 2013. McCain has spent weeks criticizing Obama for not knowing anything about the "facts on the ground" in regards to his 16 month timetable for withdrawal (that was always, always far more flexible than you're going to admit). so he goes. McCain hopes that Obama will survey the "progress" and admit that he was wrong, or that he'll refuse to change his position and appear out of touch with reality. and then, boom, the Iraqi leaders said he's been right all along! game, set, match?

so this is what McCain is left with to say:

1. timetables are a disaster (but "time horizons" are okay?)
2. i was right on the surge

that's not much to go on, especially when Maliki comes out and endorses Obama's position on the timetable, which was then echoed by the Bush administration. are you going to sit there and tell me, STING, that Maliki is ignorant of facts on the ground? is Maliki naive to what's going on in Iraq? if the *elected* leader of Iraq wants us to leave, why are we still there, especially when he's asking for timetables?

are you prepared to continue to occupy Iraq whether the Iraqi people and their government want us to or not? do *we* -- actually, scratch that, do the American military brass -- get to decide what conditions on the ground (again, whatever the F that means) make an open-ended occupation acceptable or not? do we make decisions regardless of what the Iraqis and their PM want?

unless, of course, this invasion was never about the Iraqi people and Saddam Hussein in the first place.

the UN mandate is set to expire on 12/31 of this year. for months, the US and Iraq have had difficult negotiations in recent months over SOFA -- which is the Status Of Forces Agreement. what Bush has argued for in these discussions has been the number of permanent US bases to remain in Iraq, immunity for American soldiers from Iraqi laws, can they detail Iraqis themselves, and whether they could launch operations (like to, say, Tehran) without Iraqi authorization. *this* is why the Iraqis are now dead set on having a timetable, because they know the US government can, will, and has moved the goalposts as it suits their current strategic needs.

*this* is why the whole "conditions on the ground" are total BS.
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:19 PM   #783
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and he's right. yes, changes in tactics and strategy did help to lower violence. but what's much more critical to the downswing in violence wasn't "the surge" as we understand it, but the fact that al Qaeda reached levels of violence against Iraqis to the point where they lost the support of the Sunnis:
Al Quada had been engaged in extreme violence in all parts of Iraq for years prior to the Surge. The US had been negotiating and working with Sunni Tribes on Al Quada before the surge. So these two factors impacting the situation on the ground were already in place prior to the surge.

So again, the dramatic and rapid success of the surge has more to do with the new tactics and deployment schedules of US troops as well as increased US troop presence on the ground. These things resulted in better protection for the civilian population which led to better intelligence on insurgent and Al Quada locations allowing the US military to better target such forces.

If US forces had been withdrawn on the timetable that Barack Obama wanted, the dramatic improvements would not have happened and the violence would have gotten worse. The Iraqi military certainly was not ready to handle the situation, and without the United States military to help provide the extra security for the population as well as pursue new intelligence leads, multiple insurgent and Al Quada groups would still be out there killing thousands and creating chaos.

Any counterinsurgency operation has at its corp winning the hearts and minds of the civilian population and that is what the United States has been trying to do for years now. The surge in troops and changes in tactics were needed to make the US military's efforts on the ground more effective and reset the balance of power on the ground that had been pushed in a different direction since the Mosque bombing in early 2006. The strategy has worked better than anyone realized it could.

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and what's also been critical was the cease-fire negotiated by Sadar and teh militias being taken out in Basra and Sadr City by the Iraqi army.
Guess which military has been training and equipping the Iraqi army and turning it into a force that Sader would rather negotiate with than fight? Guess which military was able to imbed thousands of troops with the Iraqi military helping them train in real time on the battlefield? Who provided the Iraqi military with all its logistical needs without which it can't function for more than a day? The surge allowed for more imbedding of US personal with Iraqi units improving the effectiveness and performance of Iraqi forces.

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and, sadly, the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad -- not to mention 4 million refugees -- that has put Sunnis and Shiites out of direct contact.
Baghdad has not been ethnically cleansed and they are still mixed neighborhoods in the city. In addition, small area's of seperation DO NOT prevent violence as we learned the hard way in Bosnia.

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if it was merely "the surge" that transformed Iraq -- and was authored by McCain, as he'd have you believe -- levels of violence would be up again because we're now back down to about 150,000 troops (as opposed to 170,000+).
A bit like saying that violence should have returned in Bosnia as US troops gradually withdrew 90% of its troops as conditions on the ground improved. When you have dramatic success in targeting insurgence and Al Quada because of the change of tactics and increased numbers of troops, plus your able to rapidly build up the capabilities of the Iraqi military, improve the economy creating more jobs, and win people politically over to your side by successfully following sound counterinsurgency tactics, your able to create an environment that will prevent the return of violence once force levels draw down. The impovements in Security, the political situation, and the Iraqi economy have all come about and been heavily impacted by the surge in US forces the past 18 months.

It was always envisioned by the key architects of the Surge that by increasing troop levels and putting and keeping more troops in the field with the civilian population, that you would be able to better protect the population which would lead to better intelligence, and better targeting of Al Quada and insurgents. That helped to reduce violence and destroy bomb making and IED making centers for insurgents and Al Quada. It also led to rapid number of deaths and captures of key technical personal in the building of such weapons. Thats why the number of IED's have been reduced and many are only about 25 pounds instead of the multi-shell chained 200 pound IED's.


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so there are fundamental underlying changes that have taken place in Iraq that have much more to do with Iraqis than with Americans.
These changes have taken place because the United States continue to stick with and revise when needed the counterinsurgency strategy it was following. The United States has been rebuilding Iraq for the past 5 years. The US military took the place of the government and provided in many area's of Iraq the services that the government would have normally provided. The United States military has been involved in setting up local governments, restarting the economy in hundreds of communties and helping to resolve disputes between various tribes without it leading to violence.

The United States military has been even more involved than it was in either Bosnia and Kosovo in helping to create the conditions needed for sustainable development of the countries important security, economic and political structures.

Yet, Barack Obama and the Democrats said the US military could not do this, that increasing troops in Iraq would increase the violence. By every metric available, they were clearly wrong.

This is what nationbuilding and counterinsurgency if done correctly and given enough time can produce. Countries torn by war, civil war and sectarian strife are not basket cases that can't be solved and the society rebuilt. Bosnia, Kosovo, and now Iraq and Afghanistan are showing that war torn areas of the world can be pacified and rebuilt despite what many consider impossible difficulties and odds.

Removing US troops in Iraq in 2007 as so many in here wanted to do, would have been a terrible mistake as would the idea of splitting Iraq into three different states as Mr. Joe Biden wanted to do.
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:24 PM   #784
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But hey, if you think the Iraqi's support the withdrawal of US forces prior to the Iraqi military being able to sufficiently replace US combat brigades that are withdrawn, please post a source for that.
Your interpretation is counter-intuitive and plainly refuted by the reaction of Maliki's spokesman. In the days since the interview was released the common reaction was that Maliki was supporting Obama's position. The spokesman recently rebutted this misperception, saying.....

YouTube - Iraqi Governmentn Calls For Withdrawal By 2010
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We are not talking about the timetable which has been used for the election, we are talking on a real timetable that Iraqis set....2010
Not the American timetable, but a timetable Iraqis create- so, by 2010. If Maliki was actually speaking in favor of McCain and Bush's position his spokesman would have clarified this staggering misconception which has fooled news agencies around the world. Instead the spokesman wanted to set the record straight that they aren't just following Obama's plan, they have their own plan for an immediately commencing withdrawal.
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:26 PM   #785
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when you read STING, it's as if the Iraqis themselves don't even exist.
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:30 PM   #786
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How dare they? Bush and McCain are gonna tell 'em when it's the right time to leave. They define when conditions on the ground warrent it and the prerequisites are there.
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:46 PM   #787
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i see. we owe everything we've accomplished in Iraq to "the surge."

so the new talking point is that the Sunni Awakening and the Shia militia stand-down would have been impossible without "the surge." this totally ignores the fact that Sadar orders an end to execution-style killings in February of 2006, and that he called for a ceasefire in August of 06 that has miraculously held ever since. and the Sunni Awakening began in September of 06 when the tribal leaders in Anbar started fighting back against AQ insurgents due to the level of violence perpetrated against other Iraqis (though who is and who isn't AQI remains a definition of convenience and an expression of tribal power, as opposed to anything concrete). the "surge" began in March of 2007. certainly American troops played a role in the ceasefire and the Awakening, but "the surge" itself didn't, and without these two things, "the surge" would have failed. as we all learned in Psych 101, correlation does not prove causation, and that seems to be much the case here.

so, taken on it's own, no question, the surge has reduced violence and increased security in Baghdad (the partitioning of Baghdad into ethnic neighborhoods certainly helped as well ... blast walls and razor wire separating neighborhoods does much, as does the fact that a large section of the male population age 15-50 is dead or displaced, so there's not as many people to kill or be killed). some Iraqi lives have been spared, no question. and the government is now confident enough not to be bullied around by the Bushies as much. but, what else has been accomplished, big picture-wise, especially since 2003? the Middle East is unchanged, our position in Iraq is unsustainable, we're not getting anywhere with Iran (even though we've started to send some envoys -- appeasement!!!), and Afghanistan is a big old mess.

the future success, or not, of Iraq is going to depend on the Iraqis themselves and their government. and just how well they're going to re-assimilate a full 20% of the population that has official refugee status.

and let's not forget, under Rumsfeld, there would never have been any sort of shift in tactics to begin with.
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:07 PM   #788
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i understand this is the talking point that the McCain has handed out about how best to frame Obama's position,
Its not a talking point, its a basic fact.


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but that doesn't make this even remotely true. it's as if all the talk of "refining" has gone totally unnoticed by you, and it's as if you're being willfully blind to the fact that Obama is, of all things, flexible and practical, and you're painting him to be an inflexible Bushie. in fact, it was George Bush who ignored these facts on the ground for the first 4 years of the Iraq occupation, and it took an electoral bitch slap and a new SecDef to get him to adjust his policy even slightly.
More rubbish. George Bush has changed troop levels and tactics in Iraq multiple times as required by the situation on the ground. Bush was already consulting with many of the key Architects of the Surge prior to Rumsfeld leaving office. It was Bush's decision to move in this direction which went against the advise of the Bi-partisan Iraq study group. Far from being inflexible, Bush has shown more flexibility and far better judgement on Iraq than any of his political opponents.


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the advocacy of a "general time horizon" is absolutely a call for a timetable for withdrawal. there's no two ways around it.
Its as much a timetable for withdrawal as the Surge has been.



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this is a clear attempt to co-opt Obama's position. what took them so long?
Obama's position is to start withdrawing non-surge US combat brigades NOW, not tomorrow, 4 months from now or year from now, regardless of the security situation on the ground and the capability of Iraqi forces. Thats not the position of the Iraqi government, US military, Bush administration, or McCain. This is a key difference which seem unwilling or unable to understand.

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especially when you look at both McCain's budget plan and his Afghanistan plan and how they rely on troops being taken out of Iraq -- regardless of conditions on the ground, lest he somehow not have the budget balanced by 2013.
Well, McCain would rather the budget not be balanced than to lose a war that the US is winning. He has never said said that he would balance the budget at the espense of progress in Iraq. This is just pure rubbish.



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McCain has spent weeks criticizing Obama for not knowing anything about the "facts on the ground" in regards to his 16 month timetable for withdrawal (that was always, always far more flexible than you're going to admit).
Well, you explain the flexibility in saying that you would start withdrawing US troops immediately without listing any conditions or prerequisites to be met first. Saying that you would have all US combat brigades out in 14 to 16 months with the only possible way he would suspend it would be if the Iraqi government achieved all 18 benchmarks in that time frame. NOT if the Iraqi military was not ready to handle the situation, NOT if violance rapidly increased and the situation grew worse.

Again, if your going to claim that Barack Obama was always for a conditions based withdrawal as the Bush administration has been for, then your going to have to show some information and sources to back that up. I've not seen anything, but I would be delighted if something could be found which showed that Barack Obama would keep US combat brigades on the ground in Iraq as long as they were needed there. I've always maintained that a pre-mature withdrawal by US forces would be a mistake and that the United States military must stay on the ground in Iraq long enough to rebuild the country and the military so that a pullout would not see a reversal of the development process. Thats been the Bush position, the US military position, and the Iraqi government position as well. If you can prove thats always been Obama's position, that would be great, but so far all his major policy speeches on the issue express a policy that is the opposite of that.

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McCain hopes that Obama will survey the "progress" and admit that he was wrong, or that he'll refuse to change his position and appear out of touch with reality. and then, boom, the Iraqi leaders said he's been right all along! game, set, match?
Again, the Iraqi leaders said they hope and would love if Barack Obama's timeline could be achieved, but what makes their two plans opposites, is that the Iraqi idea of withdrawal is conditions based FIRST, and Barack Obama's withdrawal policy is essentially exclusively time based.

There is no game here at all once you realize that basic fact.


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that's not much to go on, especially when Maliki comes out and endorses Obama's position on the timetable, which was then echoed by the Bush administration. are you going to sit there and tell me, STING, that Maliki is ignorant of facts on the ground? is Maliki naive to what's going on in Iraq? if the *elected* leader of Iraq wants us to leave, why are we still there, especially when he's asking for timetables?
Maliki has not endorsed anyones position and if you actually went into the details of what the Iraqi National Security Advisor is proposing, then you would see that it has little to do at all with anything Barack Obama has said. Maliki is not ignorant of the facts on the ground, and he does not support a withdrawal that is NOT first based on conditions on the ground, that is conditions based FIRST. Again, the Iraqi plan is to eventually take the lead in security in every province in Iraq. THEN, US troops would withdraw from the cities, but remain in the country for the next 3 to 5 years, with the security situation reviewed every 6 months. Iraqi's will only take over security in the provinces when they are ready, any withdrawal of US troops after that is achieved will be conditions based.


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are you prepared to continue to occupy Iraq whether the Iraqi people and their government want us to or not? do *we* -- actually, scratch that, do the American military brass -- get to decide what conditions on the ground (again, whatever the F that means) make an open-ended occupation acceptable or not? do we make decisions regardless of what the Iraqis and their PM want?
The United States military and the Iraqi government are in agreement that any withdrawal that occurs must be based on the conditions on the ground, which is not the vague term you like to pretend that it is and can be explained in detail. The United States military will always be prepared to occupy any part of the world if it is needed to protect the security of the United States, Allies, or global security.

The United States military is not going to stay any longer than it needs to in Iraq, just as it is not going to stay any longer than it needs to in Afghanistan. If either the Afghan government or the Iraqi government demands that the United States withdraw, the United States would certainly do so provided that such a withdrawal does not jeopordize its security.


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the UN mandate is set to expire on 12/31 of this year. for months, the US and Iraq have had difficult negotiations in recent months over SOFA -- which is the Status Of Forces Agreement. what Bush has argued for in these discussions has been the number of permanent US bases to remain in Iraq, immunity for American soldiers from Iraqi laws, can they detail Iraqis themselves, and whether they could launch operations (like to, say, Tehran) without Iraqi authorization. *this* is why the Iraqis are now dead set on having a timetable, because they know the US government can, will, and has moved the goalposts as it suits their current strategic needs.

*this* is why the whole "conditions on the ground" are total BS.
Where in the Status Of Forces Agreement have the Iraqi's demanded that the United States withdraw without regard to conditions on the ground. If its total BS as you claim, show one qoute that has any Iraqi official demanding that the United States withdraw prior to the Iraqi military being ready to take over from them. Where do the Iraqi's claim that conditions on the ground do not matter. Where has the United States stated that they want this "permanent base"?

Whats BS is this continuing ignorance or unwillingness to acknowledge that conditions, Iraqi security and stability, Iraqi military capability must arrive at levels that can sustain security and development once the US starts withdrawing. Leaving before such levels have been reached risk reversing all the gains that have been made. I've explained this hundreds of times, but your response for years has been that it did not matter because Iraq was going to fail no matter what the US did.
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:12 PM   #789
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Your interpretation is counter-intuitive and plainly refuted by the reaction of Maliki's spokesman. In the days since the interview was released the common reaction was that Maliki was supporting Obama's position. The spokesman recently rebutted this misperception, saying.....

YouTube - Iraqi Governmentn Calls For Withdrawal By 2010


Not the American timetable, but a timetable Iraqis create- so, by 2010. If Maliki was actually speaking in favor of McCain and Bush's position his spokesman would have clarified this staggering misconception which has fooled news agencies around the world. Instead the spokesman wanted to set the record straight that they aren't just following Obama's plan, they have their own plan for an immediately commencing withdrawal.
Again, where did any Iraqi official stated that they wanted US combat brigades out of Iraq by 2010 REGARDLESS OF CONDITIONS ON THE GROUND OR THE CAPABILITY OF IRAQI FORCES!?!

Do you have any idea of how much of Iraq the Iraqi's currently provide security for? Do you know who the Iraqi military is currently dependent on for most of its logistical needs without which it could not function?
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:13 PM   #790
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Far from being inflexible, Bush has shown more flexibility and far better judgement on Iraq than any of his political opponents.
How do you type that with a straight face?
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:18 PM   #791
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Obama's position is to start withdrawing non-surge US combat brigades NOW, not tomorrow, 4 months from now or year from now, regardless of the security situation on the ground and the capability of Iraqi forces. Thats not the position of the Iraqi government, US military, Bush administration, or McCain. This is a key difference which seem unwilling or unable to understand.

this is the key (deliberate?) misunderstanding that you have.

here you go, again:

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Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.

But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.

As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.

In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees.

Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:21 PM   #792
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Again, where did any Iraqi official stated that they wanted US combat brigades out of Iraq by 2010 REGARDLESS OF CONDITIONS ON THE GROUND OR THE CAPABILITY OF IRAQI FORCES!?!

Do you have any idea of how much of Iraq the Iraqi's currently provide security for? Do you know who the Iraqi military is currently dependent on for most of its logistical needs without which it could not function?


but STING, i thought the Iraqi troops were performing brilliantly, better than expected! are you saying that the US military has failed to adequately prepare the Iraqi army to function in their own country? that they'd be a total disaster without over 100,000 American troops propping them up?

and here we get into what's going to be McCain's big issue.

if The Surge has succeeded, why can't we leave?

if we can't leave, The Surge has clearly failed.
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:51 PM   #793
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Again, where did any Iraqi official stated that they wanted US combat brigades out of Iraq by 2010 REGARDLESS OF CONDITIONS ON THE GROUND OR THE CAPABILITY OF IRAQI FORCES!?!

Do you have any idea of how much of Iraq the Iraqi's currently provide security for? Do you know who the Iraqi military is currently dependent on for most of its logistical needs without which it could not function?
Maliki could have said that in his interview. But he didn't. After several days of international reporting that Maliki agreed with Obama, Maliki's spokesman could have clarified and set the record straight that it depended on conditions on the ground. But he didn't.

Completely ignoring and not mentioning conditional withdrawal when discussing US troops leaving Iraq despite several opportunities to, combined with his explicit name-check of a Presidential candidate opposed to that philosophy leads to the quite clear conclusion that the Prime Minister does not support McCain's conditional withdrawal. Keep grasping at straws.

Edit- I realized I need to make absolutely clear conditional withdrawal means McCain's "we can't leave until certain conditions" not Obama's "we're going to immediately start planning to withdraw, the rate of which will depend to some extent", an idea which Maliki alluded to by saying "with the possibility of slight changes".
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:12 PM   #794
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i see. we owe everything we've accomplished in Iraq to "the surge."
I never said that, I said its been the largest and most important factor.

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so the new talking point is that the Sunni Awakening and the Shia militia stand-down would have been impossible without "the surge."
I stated multiple times including a previous post that the United States had been talking and dealing with Sunni tribes and insurgents for years, since 2004 in fact. Its not that such pacts and alliances were impossible, I alluded to the fact above that many of them existed prior to the Surge, but the surge and change in tactics and deployment patterns of US troops as well as increased US troops for imbedding with Iraqi forces and training other forces made these things far more effective than that would have been without the Surge.

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this totally ignores the fact that Sadar orders an end to execution-style killings in February of 2006, and that he called for a ceasefire in August of 06 that has miraculously held ever since.
Totally incorrect on those dates. The Shia Mosque bombing which increased the sectarian violence in Iraq happened in February of 2006!

Sadar's moves have been a reaction to the growing strength of the Iraqi government and military do to the efforts of the United States military which has been building Iraq's military from scratch since 2003. Sadar forces were crushed twice in 2004 by the US military and since then he has avoided full scale open conflict with the US military. During the fighting in Najaf in 2004 the US military achieved kill rates in excess of 300 per day on Sadar's forces. While its important that Sadar's movement remains peaceful, it never had the level of impact on violence that the Sunni insurgency and Al Quada did.


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certainly American troops played a role in the ceasefire and the Awakening, but "the surge" itself didn't, and without these two things, "the surge" would have failed.
Its true that the United States military did not just begin conducting counterinsurgency exercises with the Surge and its also true that the United States military had made progress before the surge, but the Surge allowed the United States to exploit gains made and reverse negative factors which led to a much faster rate of development and the capturing and killing of insurgents and members of Al Quada. It allowed for troops to be deployed at sufficient levels in many area's of Iraq so that the US military could effectively protect the civilian population and successfully hunt down insurgents. As the civilian population became less fearful of the insurgents and Al Quada, the numbers in the Anbar Awakening grew.

The fact is, you did have the Anbar Awakening prior to the Surge, but you did not have the dramatic improvements in security, Iraqi military force capability, economic improvement, and political progress that have happened over the past 18 months at this rapid rate. While all these factors are important, the key here has been changes in US tactics, and an increase in US forces levels which allowed for rapid achievement of multiple development goals which will help prevent the return of violence in the future.

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so, taken on it's own, no question, the surge has reduced violence and increased security in Baghdad (the partitioning of Baghdad into ethnic neighborhoods certainly helped as well ... blast walls and razor wire separating neighborhoods does much, as does the fact that a large section of the male population age 15-50 is dead or displaced, so there's not as many people to kill or be killed).
Again, if simpling partitioning and seperating ethnic groups alone was the way to reduce or end violence, the Bosnian war would have been over in 1992. Bosnia proved that, that alone did virtually nothing to reduce the violence. Nor did the slaughter of 10% of the population stop violence or reduce its rate. You don't have anything remotely similar to that in Baghdad or in Iraq. Casualties so far in Iraq pale in comparison to the huge numbers in Bosnia with respect to the size of the population.

The US forces started first in Baghdad, but then went out from Baghdad to other areas in other provinces and succeeded in reducing violence all over the country.


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some Iraqi lives have been spared, no question.
Thousands of lives have been saved over the past 18 months. In respect to choosing the Surge, vs. withdrawing all US combat brigades by March 31, 2008, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved and perhaps more given the uncertain future Iraq would have after the pre-mature withdrawal of US forces.

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and the government is now confident enough not to be bullied around by the Bushies as much. but, what else has been accomplished, big picture-wise, especially since 2003?
A government, an economy, a new military have all been rebuilt in the space of only 5 years. The accomplishment is enormous. You consistently said that it could not happen, and that Iraq was NOT A REAL COUNTRY. Iraq needed to be divided into three country's per the Biden plan. Sorry, but it does not look like that is going to happen. If anything, you should be more amazed than anyone since you said it was impossible for the United States to resolve the conflict and rebuild the country.

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the Middle East is unchanged
Well, the security of the Persian Gulf States was vastly improved with the removal of Saddam from power. You now have an Iraq that is moving toward stability, that will not be a threat to its neighbors, and could help bridge the divide that seperate the Sunni and Shia worlds. Removing Saddam, and then rebuilding Iraq are vital to the security of the region and the world.

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our position in Iraq is unsustainable
You have been saying this for years, but its just not so as time has proven. The United States military is actually larger than it was in 2003 in terms of active combat brigades. The United States continues to spend a smaller portion of its GDP on defense and the war than it did on defense in the peacetime of the 1980s. No matter which way you look at it, the idea that the US position in Iraq is unsustainable is false.

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Afghanistan is a big old mess.
There has been an increase in violence in Afghanistan, but even at the current rate, the level of violence there has been much smaller than it has been in Iraq. Its only now that violence in Iraq has been dramatically reduced to low levels that you have months where casualties in Afghanistan have equaled or exceeded casualties in Iraq. On balance, the occupation in Afghanistan is the most successful occupation of that country in its 4,000 year history.



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the future success, or not, of Iraq is going to depend on the Iraqis themselves and their government. and just how well they're going to re-assimilate a full 20% of the population that has official refugee status.
Actually it depends on how the United States handles the continueing nationbuilding and counterinsurgency exercises it is engaged in which directly will impact the ability of the Iraqi's to sustain development and keep a secure environment without US ground forces.

Bosnia has done relatively well over the past 10 years and has successfuly re-assimilated much of the over 70% of the population that was displaced, a much larger figure to work with compared with the 12% of the Iraqi population that has moved from places they lived in country or out of the country. In addition, Iraq's population has already experienced more sudden and extreme population shifts in the past with the Iran/Iraq war, and the Shia and Kurdish uprisings in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. The population shift over the past 5 years has been much more gradual preventing many of the usual problems involved with refugees as seen in Bosnia, Kosovo and many other conflicts.
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:17 PM   #795
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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
this is the key (deliberate?) misunderstanding that you have.

here you go, again:

Where does it say that as a condition to withdrawing any US forces from Iraq, the Iraqi military must meet certain performance requirements and be able to replace the services provided by any withdrawing US combat brigade?

Where does it say that he would NOT start immediately withdrawing troops from Iraq? What if any conditions or prerequisites does he list for STARTING to withdraw US forces from Iraq?
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