Saturday, March 8, 2008

Clarification on the War in Iraq

I was making my rounds in the blogosphere and left a comment on Dave's blog. He was pointing out the fact that Iraqi leaders were meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known supporter of terrorists in Iraq and enemy of the United states. I'll add the relevant comments here as a starting point:

In hindsight, I wish we hadn't moved the war to Iraq in the first place. From the fact that the info we were acting on turning out to be inaccurate to the failure of the administration to change tactics sooner, the Iraq theater has been less successful over the years than it could have been. And at this point, either the Iraqis are going to get it, or they won't. I agree that the time to get out is nearer, and we should do so as quickly as it is militarily feasible.

Let me clarify a couple of points, as I sounded surprisingly antiwar. Based on the information we had at the time, it was the right thing to do. In hindsight, it was not the best strategery, and it probably been better had we not gone there. I honestly don't know what the best strategy would have been, as the logical discussion on the attack was lost in political demagoguery and maneuvering by both sides. This is why politics and war should never mix.

Once we were in there, our presence inevitably disrupted the power structure of the country. This gave Al Qaeda, which had a minimal presence in Iraq, a reason to rush it and start a lot more shit. Add to that a tendency to stay the course rather than reevaluating the strategy, an increasingly radical bunch of antiwar doof-o-matics here at home, and an enemy we are still not fully prepared to win against, and the war was bound to drag out.

As best as I can tell, the troop surge has been successful and has created the envelope for Iraqis to stabilize their country. Now that this has been done, we are at the point where we need to begin pulling back. The time has come for the Iraqis to stand on their own. But our withdrawal cannot be abrupt, complete, or politically driven. We must trust our military leaders to establish their own plans and timetables to get out, with a measure of victory and with structures in place to keep Iraq stable. And I am fully expecting we will probably maintain a base somewhere in Iraq. I would put it in the desert, far from civilization, near the border of Kuwait, and within pissing distance of Iran.

The dangers of this kind of nation building is that it relies on the sense of people we're trying to help. But the leaders meeting with people who support terror tells me the Iraq situation may be lost in the long term. So once our current mission there is complete, we need to move on to the next front in the war.


Rivka said...

Great post Patrick! I understand your points, but the intel was accurate in regard to Sadaam having WMD's.. From my research albeit limited, here is what went down during the 48 hour window. I obtained this info. from a website who had a guy who was on Bush's advisory team and was one of the guys who was advising him on what to do.. Sorry, I forgot his name and don't have time to look for it again, but if you google it I will bet you will find it:

In regard to the WMD issues and intel: Bush told Sadaam he had 48 hours to give up his weapons or we would come in. However, intel saw trucks moving toward Syria and knew that they had WMD's in them. Biological/chemical weapons are easy to transfer because you can slip the stuff in a suitcase easily. So, Bush's team went to BUsh and told him they were moving the WMD's out of the country and he needed to act now, before the 48 hour window, BUT Bush refused because he was going to keep his word to Sadaam. The guy in the interview I heard said he tried to urge Bush to change plans or the WMD's will be gone.. Bush refused but this guy said that he admired Bush for being a man of his word. I do too.

Bush is suffering for it with all the naysayers saying there were never WMD's there in the first place.

Anyway, that is my opinion. I think it was right to go in there for several reasons as you said in your post, but I DO AGREE with you that we could have gone in a lot stronger than we did and it would be over, but then there would be tons of casualties that the Bush would be hammered for. Of course he is getting hammered anyway.

Rivka said...

By the way I agree with you regarding the Iraqi leaders meeting with Iran's nutcase..
I just linked you by the way.

Dave Miller said...

Rivka, even if what you are postulating were true, it is a red herring. What you are saying is that GW knew before attacking Iraq that the WMD's were out of the country. Not only did he know it, but he refused to stop it. And then he told the American people something else.

Now I have always said that I refuse to believe that Bush lied to us, rather that since we found no WMD, perhaps he [we and many others] were just wrong. Your scenario says that in fact Bush did lie to the American people.

If he knew that those weapons existed, and were being moved out of the country, and he knew it before we attacked, yet still attacked after the reason he gave for our involvement into Iraq was removed, then he should be impeached.

Because at that point, there was no clear and present danger to the US. At that point we could have pressured Syria to fess up.

I think I'll continue to go with we made a big mistake and give GW the benefit of the doubt.

Patrick, nice addition to all of this.

Patrick M said...

Let me cover everybody here. If Bush knew about the weapons going to Syria, where is the proof? They might have suspected it, but that's a world of difference from knowing. The simple fact is that the intel said the WMD's were there, then when we got there, they weren't there.

But why we went there is no longer the relevant point. The relevant discussion is on what our continuing role is, and what our exit strategery will be.

I think it's doable to be withdrawn in the next four years. Specifics of course have to be left to our soldiers on the ground. But staying too long will only make the Iraqi government more dependent on us. And cutting and running would be suicidal.

And leaving with an X in the win column is what we really want and need.

Dave Miller said...

Patrick, you are right about moving forward. The question politically is how to do so, or if you believe we need to get out, [based on Iraqi gov't non support of the US] what the next step is.

For us to do this, I believe the President needs to order the military to immediately draw up plans to withdraw, "as quickly as possible" but in so doing to safeguard our interests and our soldiers.

This cannot be another Vietnam exit.

Patrick M said...

I'm a more of the "Mission Accomplished" crowd, in that the President announces that the battle for Iraq has been won, and the bulk of our forces will pull out as the Iraqi forces take over. From that point, it's a matter of pulling out as the locals are able to secure the area. But I would avoid a statement such as "immediate" and "withdrawal" as they can be used by our enemies in their propaganda war.

Because we are still at war, and with an enemy who has no hesitation of fighting that war for a decade or two. So the goal can be the same, but it must be with an eye on the next battle. And the next battlefield.

Otherwise, we will face another Vietnam, even if it doesn't involve helicopter evacuations of Baghdad.

Mike's America said...

"...probably been better had we not gone there. I honestly don't know what the best strategy would have been... "

No, no, no, no and NO!

Imagine if we had NOT gone there what would be happening in the Middle East today:

-- Saddam would still be denying UN weapons inspectors access to WMD sites.

--He would still be paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers $25,000 to kill innocent Israelis

--He would still be working with Al Queda, Al Zarqawi would still be alive and living in Iraq. Perhaps by now the deal to offer bin Laden sanctuary would have gone through.

--Saddam would still be murdering his own people at greater numbers averaged on a daily basis than the "civil war" between Sunni and Shia.

That's just the short list. I could go on and on and on.

The overall strategy to remove Saddam was correct. It's like sucking out the venom after being bitten by a snake. Going into Iraq drew out the poison that has been festering there and leaching towards us for decades.

Sure, question the tactics of how many trooops, should they have fired on looters and whether we took deBaathification too far, too fast, but the overall goal and objectives were and ARE correct.

Patrick M said...

Mike, I'll defer to your knowledge on the subject. However, my point was that there might have been a better way than the way we did it. But what is done is done, and the world is a better place for it.

So that leaves today and my question remains: What is the best strategy to pull back from Iraq, with victory?

Dave Miller said...

Mike, but the Bush admin did not make the case before the war for those issues did they?

They asked for a resolution because they believed Saddam had WMD's and as such we needed to get rid of those.

If a President believes that there is a clear and present danger to the US from another country, he has a duty to act to protect us. But in so doing, he should spell it out so as to gain the support of the American people for his actions.

There is no doubt Saddam was a horrible guy. But Bush did not say he wanted to go to war for the benefit of the Iraqi's, he went to enforce a UN Resolution that on WMD, at least publicly, the Bush Admin now admits did not exist.

However the question now is what is our next step, and for me, what is it in light of the continuing inability/desire of the Iraqi gov't to make the type of political changes tht we envisioned at the start of the surge.

If the Iraqi's want to be friends with Iran, are they really reliable allies in our "war on terror?"

Toad734 said...

Mike, what world do you live in? In Saddams wildest dreams he couldn't have killed the 60-100k that have died under our watch. Sure, if you said something negative about Saddam you got your tongue ripped out but all you had to do was not say anything about Saddam. Now they can't even leave their house.

And if you are so concerned about countries killing their own people why not talk about Sudan? Oh right, no oil and they are black.

And by the way, Saddam did allow UN inspectors back into the country before the war and guess what, they didn't find anything and Bush attacked anyway.

Saddam never worked with Al Qaeda, please site your sources on that.

Yes mike, pleas go on. Please tell me how much worse it would be.

I think what you meant to say is that Iraqi oil would now be sold in Euros and not Dollars and it would be going to France, Germany and Western Europe not the US. Oh and Oil would be under $50 a barrel.


Mike has no knowledge on the subject; his blind hatred of Muslims and his blind support for anything Bush does and his blind gullibility which makes him believe anything Bush says prevents any rational facts on the subject entering his brain.

Patrick M said...

Dave: Once again, you have reasonable points that any reasonable person could agree with. So at this point, anyone who wants to still argue about whether we should have gone to Iraq is either a historian, an America-hater, or an idiot.

Toad: Mike, as far as I have been able to determine, does have credibility on what he has to say. And while he is a little more enamored with the Bush administration than I am, his analysis does track.

Also, just to clarify, are you a historian?