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Old 01-02-2008, 06:07 AM   #81
Join Date: Dec 2007
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Originally posted by Irvine511
and the other thing to ponder: what's going to happen when the nearly 1 million Sunnis who've fled to Syria in the face of "the surge" return to find a majority Shiite city?

it looks like we have a violent return of hundreds of thousands of Sunnis to Baghdad and a second "Battle for Baghdad" as soon as the US forces are shrunk again after March of 2008.

good times.

Again, the vast majority of those who left Baghdad left prior to the surge. The mixed area's of the city as well as the green(shia) and blue(Sunni) are essentially the same in January 2007 as they were in July 2007 according to the map you posted. In fact, the map shows the Sunni's gaining in one area between January 2007 and July 2007. There was no mass exodus of 1 million Sunni's from Baghdad in the Spring of 2007. That is indeed a fabrication or simple ignorance.

Provided the return to Baghdad by citizens displaced is properly managed, I think violent sectarian incidences can be kept to a minimum. I think anyone hoping for a return to heavy US casualties and Iraqi civilian casualties is going to be disapointed in 2008. The strategy in Iraq is working, but it requires time to work. Political and economic development take years, and only someone who lives in disney land would call it a failure because x, y, and z have not happened in 18 months since the formation of the government.

Iraqi security forces are providing all the security for HALF of the country's 18 provinces. That number will continue to grow in 2008. Of course the Iraqi military cannot completely operate on its own yet, that is going to require at least another 3.5 years and probably more.

There have been new developments politically at the local level. There are many new relationships between Iraqi tribes and the coalition. Former insurgent fighters have now abandoned the insurgency. These are all positive developments and things are definitely moving in the right direction, but your still looking at the need for coalition forces for many more years to come. That is the nature of most nation building task, especially one being undertaken in the middle of a conflict.

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Old 01-02-2008, 07:15 AM   #82
Join Date: Dec 2007
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Local Time: 01:39 AM
Originally posted by Irvine511

the neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed. where once they were mixed, they are not anymore. the city has been walled. this is one of the major reasons for the decrease in violence, and the other is the increased (and unsustainable) troop levels along with the creation of shaky alliances that started in the western provinces. but good tactics can't fix a shit strategy, or no strategy to begin with.

i'm not going to get into a bullshit semantical discussion over what ethnic cleansing actually "means." Baghdad has over 5 million people. the neighborhoods have been cleansed. the only thing that has prevented an all out civil war is the increased presence of American troops.

you still can't get around the fact that the invasion is a total failure by the very goals you set out. we have not secured WMDs from terrorists because those WMDs never existed. we have not stopped Islamist terror and in fact we have increased it's danger and frequency (Bali, Madrid, London) by sending a generation of young muslim men into the arms of Al Qaeda. we have not consturcted a democratic model for the Middle East. Iraq has always been a totalitarian government that sews together a phony country. it is now a permanently unstable, chaotic state where all you can do is celebrate the fact that you might have prevented an all-out genocide. (gosh, so much to be proud of, what a success!)

what's worse is that we've solidified, in the Arab mind, that democracy means anarchy and mass murder, Iran has been emboldened, and the Sunnis and Shiites are much closer to a regional war than they were in 2003.

the only rational response is a prudent withdrawal. it doesn't make sense to continue to pour billions of dollars to prop up this collapsed region. an endless military, economic, and political commitment to this region doesn't make a whit of sense.

unless, of course, you're happily willing to admit that the huge debt we are piling up and our entanglement in a region that hates us, will continue to hate us, and will continue to blow up trains in London, Madrid, and New York, is all worth it to secure the Middle Eastern oil supplies.

and that's fine. just admit that's what it's about, and admit that all this blood and treasure is better than trying to move away from oil dependence and you'd rather have a financially ruinous, morally decrepit, American controlled Middle East empire that will bog down our forces (notwithstanding the deep damage that's already been done) and make us unable to adequately respond to the next actual crisis (and not the fabricated ones).

While Baghdad was a majority mixed city prior to the US invasion, lets not forget that it already had heavily segregated area's on the east side of the river. Haven't you ever heard of Sad'r City? No, it was not created by the 2003 invasion.

The walls and segregation you talk of HAPPENED BEFORE THE SURGE started and do not explain the drop in violence. The maps you presented accurately show that. The only thing that explains the majority of the drop in violence is the surge of US troops, improvements in the Iraqi military and the new tactics in combating the violence. The alliances with sunni tribes and the abandonment of the insurgency by many Iraqi's is something that is a more significant event outside of Baghdad in places like the Anbar province.

According to Icasualties.org, Iraqi deaths in February 2007 were over 3,000. In December of 2007, they were only a little over 500. That is an astonishing turn around and the only thing that explains it is the success the US military has had in 2007 in its overall counterinsurgency strategy. The segragation you talk of had already been largely completed PRIOR to the introduction of significant numbers of surge troops and the new tactics in the spring of 2007, but violence was still at an all time high.

If you want to have an intelligent discussion, its better not to use terms like ethnic cleansing so loosely. Baghdad is still a mixed city and does not remotely resemble an ethnically cleansed city. Segregated in many area's for sure, as it was to a much smaller degree when Saddam was in power, but definitely not ethnically cleansed under any recognized definition of the phrase.

You still can't get around the fact that the initial invasion achieved ALL of its goals, the most important of which was the removal of Saddam's regime from power. Insuring that Saddam was verifiably disarmed of all WMD's and related programs through his removal was accomplished. All of the 17 UN Security Council resolutions he was in violation of were SUCCESSFULLY enforced! Saddam's regime no longer poses a threat to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the majority of the planets energy supply and the global economy. These are massive accomplishments which heavily contribute to peace and security in the region and have made the global economy far more secure. For the first time in decades, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia no longer face any sort of a threat from any entity within Iraq at the current time. Little Kuwait can actually defend itself from any Iraqi militia group foolish enough to cross the desert in a sucidal attempt to attack. The mis-match in capabilities, even for Kuwait's little 20,000 military is overwhelming.

The invasion of Iraq is no more responsible for inspiring ignorant Muslim men to join Al Quada than the invasion of Afghanistan has been. Again, just look at what many in the Arab world did in the 1980s in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It is absurd to believe that such individuals would not take action in response to the US invasion of Afghanistan but would in response to the invasion of Iraq.

The United States and the coalition are attempting to develop and build Iraq into a successful, relatively politically stable democracy. Many people recognize the scale of the task involved and that it will take well over 10 years to complete. Because the United States and the coalition have not achieved some fantasy world record in the time it takes to do so does not in any imaginable way make the endeavour a failure.

Many countries around the world were once ruled and held together by dictatorships but have developed into democracy's and so will Iraq provided the United States does not abandon the mission. Iraq is no more sewn together or a "phony country" than Bosnia.

If anything, 2007 should have taught you that Iraq does not have to be a permanently unstable country. An all out genocide would never happened with US force levels in the country, and the surge has brought a massive reduction in the level of violence across the country. All out genocide is a possibility though if one follows the strategy you and many democrats have advocated but with no success. In addition, most normal people do consider it a huge success when genocide is prevented and a new surge brings about a reduction in deaths by several thousand!

Even someone like Jimmy Carter recognized the importance of Persian Gulf oil when the world was far less dependent on it and went so far as to threaten the use of nuclear weapons to defend it. There are a few regions in the world where the massive commitment of US resources to bring about stability and security is always justified and the Persian Gulf is one of those regions and has been for decades. Yet, the US commitment to Iraq/Afghanistan as well as what it is spending on the US military is still a smaller percentage of what it was spending on defense during the peacetime of the 1980s as a percentage of US GDP.

The reality in the world today is that there is no substitute for cheap oil. Business's around the world will only use an alternative that is both cheaper and more efficient, and no such alternative exist at the current time. Even if and when such an alternative arrives, it will take decades to convert the global economy to it. Until such an alternative arrives, and during the lengthy transition time that follows, defending Persian Gulf Oil supplies will be vital to the global economy, without which our world and society would collapse. Every President since Roosevelt including your beloved Bill Clinton has recognized these facts, hopefully others will eventually understand as well. You CAN'T search for alternatives at the cost of abandoning the security of what feeds your economy. You will never find an energy alternative if you do not secure and protect the energy you depend on today. Finding alternatives requires time, money and stability, none of which we will have if we were to foolishly abandon securing the planets current economic lifeline.

We are living in a globally interdepent world in which we increasingly cannot run from the problems that occur on the otherside of the ocean. Intervention and engagement are the future, not isolation. At least Hillary Clinton understands that to some degree now and will certainly not be withdrawing from US commitments in the Middle East, including Iraq. The days of the Democratic congressional victory when nearly all Democrats foolishly proposed withdrawing all US combat troops by March 31, 2008 are long gone. Even the top 3 Democratic candidates recognize that the United States will likely have US troops in Iraq past 2013.

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