This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 14, 2007 3:40 PM. The previous post in this blog was Worth tapping into. The next post in this blog is It's going so well in Iraq. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Please don't call it a "quagmire"

That word no longer does it justice.

Thank God we did the "surge" -- it really turned things around, didn't it?

Comments (32)

Actually the surge is working, and a lot of the media, like Der Speigel, who were bashing the effort before all the troops were in place, are now recognizing it's successes. Perhaps you should look at other news sites other than CNN and the NYTimes for some balance.



Oh yeah. It's great. Mission accomplished.

Its the waterbed theory - this 'surge'. You push down the violence in one spot, it pushes up in another.

As far as the 'success' of the 'surge', the real purpose was less to quell the violence than to give the Iraqi Maliki government an opportunity to accomplish their benchmarks - oil sharing, the lessening of tribal divisions, local elections.

So while we were surging the Al Maliki government went on vacation. The Sunni coalition pulled out of the government, followed by others. NO PROGRESS! And just wait, Gen. Petraeus is going to report to Congress that we need many more months ... like through the end of GWB presidency perhaps, when he can leave this disaster for the next guy?

What a nightmare!

So if you call the surge 'working' because in a few places a few less people are dying, while in a few other places a few more people are, then I guess that's your definition of success. Not mine.

Give McCain credit for this game. You hit a peg and another pops up. Now do to Alzheimer's he forgot the game. Can it be Whamo? Please, someone hit Bush with a mallet,save more lives.

what the 'blue wave' media keeps regurgitating is no where near the whole story.

I might even agree with you on this one. Due to press core restrictions, I think it's much worse than what we see represented in the press. Have you talked to any service members lately?

But go ahead and keep the derangement syndrome going. Eventually the majority will see how out of touch you all really are.

It's all about this "eventually" thing, isn't it?

I think the name of the game is "whack a mole".

Is Israel a quagmire?

Suppoose Iraq soon unfolds with an environment much like Israel with isolated and lingering terrorism and conflicts with occasional major outbreaks.

Is nothing less than complete peace and harmony defeat and mission failed?

Just wondering?

"It's all about this "eventually" thing, isn't it?"

I will be stealing this line many times in the next few weeks. Thanks.

Well, this may come as a shock to people around here who know that I've thought this war was a bad gamble from the get-go, but I'm with orbusmax. There are some signs that the surge is turning a hopeless situation into one where favorable outcomes are at least conceivable. It's too soon to call it either way.

The surge of personnel was undertaken as part of a new strategy. It's not just the same failures writ larger, it's actually different. If you want to understand the new approach, there's an article by one of the key players behind it. Please read it.

Also, some independent reporting does show some hopeful signs. If you'd like to read some, an excellent example is here.

Iraq is too complicated to categorically state that everything is a failure or a success.

Bush and his brain trust too long refused to acknowledge any significant setbacks and failures in Iraq; everything was "on track" or a "success." As a result, they lost all credibility when the going got really bad, and everything they did or said was viewed with a jaundiced eye.

The democrats need to be careful not to fall into the same, but opposite, trap; not everything is a failure or a setback. If democrats are afraid to recognize some areas of success when appropriate, then they also risk losing credibility on the topic of Iraq. The dems don't need Iraq to be a failure in order to win the White House; however, they can lose the White House if they overstate the issues and advocate reactionary policies.



We need to get out of that hellhole yesterday. We never should have gone in there in the first place. The American Empire is now officially over, thanks to the Chimp. Since there are no plausible goals, there can be no success.

Don't give me Totten. Totten = Bush.

And I also agree with Travis, who as of this moment is officially My Hero.* Well said.

[*: Although I guess I really ought to read the links before saying that. :-) ]

Yeah, Hillary for President.

Abandoning Iraq without consideration of the consequences would be another immoral act, not a correction of the first one.

Totten = Bush? Really? He's no more a NECON than Friedman. He's an independent journalist who also is an Arabist. His reporting is pretty neutral in my opinion. Although, the latest interview about the "Hammer" is lame. The July entries from Baghdad are very, very good.*

*Alan, read July, skip Augsut. And, by Hero I hope you mean I am a sandwhich.... We should catch up sometime, BTW.

"We never should have gone in there in the first place. The American Empire is now officially over, thanks to the Chimp. Since there are no plausible goals, there can be no success."

Respectively: Yes; Yes, but he just hastened the inevitable; and Yes, but there are varying degrees of failure.

“At least 200 people have been killed in a series of bombings apparently aimed at a Kurdish religious minority group in northern Iraq, officials say.” BBC

Of course the surge is working. If you put tens of thousands of extra troops in an area the bad guys will move somewhere else. They may be religious nutters but they’re not stupid. If they succeed in bringing anarchy to Kurdistan the final “plan” of declaring victory and running away before the next election will be much harder.

There are only two solutions in Iraq: Put in 500,000 troops, a few trillion more dollars and wait for a decade or so. Or, assuming that is not palatable, we could spend those trillions on developing a time machine. We could then send some people back in time and try again to explain to certain members of the electorate that an alcoholic, fake cowboy with no interest in foreign affairs is not an ideal candidate to run a large country.

Totten = Bush? Really? He's no more a NECON than Friedman.

That's kinda funny. Friedman was one of the biggest supporters of this war. Perhaps not biggest in terms of volume, but he's got the biggest platform, and he's been shilling for the war from day 1.

Iraq is too complicated to categorically state that everything is a failure or a success.

"Mission Accomplished. Major combat operations in Iraq are over." -George W. Bush, 2003

Abandoning Iraq without consideration of the consequences would be another immoral act, not a correction of the first one.

occupation does not equal stability. that's a fundamental flaw in the "stay the course" nonsense.

The daily amazement is how eager are the voices who tout their ignorance openly in public. And when offered information for an educated understanding, they then complain that it's too much for them to comprehend.

Sage advice is -- and easy for the lazy, too: Better to do and say nothing and let others think you are a fool, than to move to speak and remove all doubt of your guilt.

Simply: Iraq invasion is war crimes atrocity. Never there is justice or success in it, until all who did it are imprisoned, and their supporters serve their lives to feed and maintain them.

Information Clearinghouse.INFO

The Pentagon’s latest Big Lie, By Mike Whitney
The War Dept.’s latest fraud appeared in this week’s newspapers under the ominous-sounding headline: “US Kills Mastermind of Iraq Shrine”

The US arsenal lost in Iraq
· 110,000 AK-47s
· 80,000 pistols
· 135,000 bits of armour
By Ewen MacAskill in Washington

The failure of the US to account for so many weapons is an embarrassment for the Bush administration after months in which it has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying weapons and explosives to the insurgents.

The Uncounted Casualties of War, By Amy Goodman
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey is not counted among the Iraq war dead. But he did die,

Heroism And The Language Of Fascism, By Rosa Brooks
Civil service is commendable, but worshiping soldiers and police for doing their duty has gotten out of control.

From Sadr City with "Love"..., By Layla Anwar
The sectarian shia militias are the enemy number.1 along with the American occupying forces. Their brutality emanates from a sick mind and a sick soul. These psychopaths are a public danger. But guess what ? Your equally psychopathic government has put them in place to rule what once was a great nation.

Why Is Half Of Iraq In Absolute Poverty ?, By Layla Anwar
What have Iraqis done to you? Did they invade you? Did they steal your homes? Did they imprison you? Did they torture you? Did they rape you? Did they occupy your lands?Of course, some of you will come and present me with your usual condescending, paternalistic, patronizing lists of political theories, attempting to explain the inexplicable.

Iraq: One In Seven Joins Human Tide Spilling Into Neighbouring Countries, Patrick Cockburn in Sulaymaniyah
Two thousand Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. It is the greatest mass exodus of people ever in the Middle East and dwarfs anything seen in Europe since the Second World War. Four million people, one in seven Iraqis, have run away, because if they do not they will be killed.

Half of Iraq "In Absolute Poverty", Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
Up to eight million Iraqis require immediate emergency aid, with nearly half of the population living in "absolute poverty", according to a report by Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi groups.

U.S. Drops Baghdad Electricity Reports, By Noam N. Levey and Alexandra Zavis
The daily length of time that residents have power has dropped.

U.S. Marines and Soldiers Have Become Socialized To Atrocity. By Chris Hedges
The American killing project is not described in these terms to a distant public. The politicians still speak in the abstract terms of glory, honor, and heroism, in the necessity of improving the world, in lofty phrases of political and spiritual renewal. Those who kill large numbers of people always claim it as a virtue.

The Threat Of Martial Law Is Real, By Dave Lindorff
The looming collapse of the US military in Iraq, of which a number of generals and former generals, including former Chief of Staff Colin Powell, have warned, is happening none too soon, as it my be the best hope for preventing military rule here at home.

Let's Call The Whole Thing Off, By Layla Anwar
I just read in the Observer, the Guardian's sister, that the US army in Iraq is crippled by fatigue. The article says that those poor soldiers are suffering from sleep disorders, the proverbial PTSD, conjugal problems, exhaustion, lassitude and bouts of acute superstition... They also live on "Red Bull" and "Rip it"

A Disneyland Of Militant Ignorance: The American Normalization Of Mass Murder, By Phil Rockstroh
Given the nation's tottering infrastructure, imperial overreach abroad and vandalized constitutional process by a lawless executive branch, what will it take to scare the general public, mainstream press and political classes into immediate action to bring about meaningful change?

Bush And DU: A 4.5 Billion Year Legacy, By Jeff Berg
The result of the use of thousands of tons of DU munitions in Gulf Wars I and II has been to spread trillions of micron sized particles of Depleted Uranium into the sands and air of Iraq.

The Cracks In Saddam's Dam, By Patrick Cockburn
As world attention focuses on the daily slaughter in Iraq, a devastating disaster is impending in the north of the country, where the wall of a dam holding back the Tigris river north of Mosul city is in danger of imminent collapse

Myths Of Mideast Arms Sales, By William D. Hartung
The Bush administration’s proposal to send $20 billion worth of arms and $43 billion in military aid to U.S. allies in the Middle East has been promoted by repeating a series of time-worn myths that should have long since been abandoned.

US Hegemony Spawns Russian-Chinese Military Alliance, By Paul Craig Roberts
The US has not been able to occupy the Iraqi city of Baghdad despite 5 years of efforts; it most certainly cannot occupy Russia or China.

Welcome To The Jungle: US Military Psychological Operations And You, By Heather Wokusch
We must become more vigilant about the ongoing use of military PSYOP and misinformation - the Pat Tillman case is a perfect example.

Iraqi Government On Brink Of Collapse, By James Cogan
The political survival of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in doubt following the withdrawal from his cabinet of two political blocs that derive the bulk of their support from Iraq’s Sunni Arab population.

Asia By DU, Africa By AIDS, By Hamid Golpira
Asia by DU, Africa by AIDS, and we can add South America by hunger and poverty. If this is not a world depopulation program, what is it?

Iraqis Oppose Oil Privatization, By Aaron Glantz
A new public opinion poll has found nearly two thirds of Iraqis oppose plans to open the country’s oilfields to foreign companies.

Sectarianism Splits Security In Diyala, By Ahmed Ali
Militia from the Shia organisation Badr have taken over the police force in Diyala province north of Baghdad.

White Elephants : Bush's Middle East Arms Deals, By Uri Avnery
Saudi Arabia is unable to maintain the weapons that are flowing to it.

A Reflection On Hard And Obvious Realities, By Fidel Castro
Commercial advertising and consumerism are incompatible with the survival of the species.

Top general may propose pullbacks, Petraeus is expected to tell Congress that Iraqis can assume duties in some areas, freeing U.S. troops for other uses. By Julian E. Barnes and Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers, August 15, 2007

Administration and military officials acknowledge that the September report will not show any significant progress on the political benchmarks laid out by Congress.

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report's data.

"Simply: Iraq invasion is war crimes atrocity. Never there is justice or success in it, until all who did it are imprisoned, and their supporters serve their lives to feed and maintain them."

That may be. But withdrawal will not fix what's been done wrong.

here's a spot-on summation of American Middle Eastern foreign policy, from the other side of the pond:


What qualifies as success for a criminally ill conceived, doomed mission? The Captain of the Titanic could have ordered a "surge" of deck hands to arrange the deck chairs and achieved his goal. Six plus years of concerted misinformation, misguided policymaking and blundering performances from incompetent cronies have numbed me to the point that almost nothing gets a rise. But talking about the "success" of the surge makes me wince. When something is fundamentally wrong you don't try and figure out new and different ways to keep doing it. You stop doing it.

"The Captain of the Titanic could have ordered a 'surge' of deck hands to arrange the deck chairs [...]"

That would have been rather silly of him, considering the problem was flooding. :-)

"When something is fundamentally wrong you don't try and figure out new and different ways to keep doing it. You stop doing it."

Umm. Yeah. That's what my first link in my first comment in this thread talks about. They are, it seems, actually trying something different. If what's said in that article is authentic - and as far as I can tell it really is authentic - then my opinion is that the new strategy has the potential to generate a better outcome than withdrawal would.

You're absolutely right to be suspicious of the word "success", because it is not now and never has been well-defined for this debacle. (Same goes for "failure".) But I'm not talking about success or failure, I'm just talking about better and worse outcomes.

Again, let's be clear that I opposed getting into Iraq. It's sorely tempting to keep harping on the mistakes of the past, and to unwittingly buy into Bush's propaganda that if we're not against him then we're with him, but that is a fatal attraction. The reality is - now - that we're there, like it or not, and we'd better figure out how to deal with that fact constructively.

The Bush administration has taught us not to trust it, and we are right to not trust it. But that doesn't mean that it cannot possibly - however accidentally - have managed to get something right for once.

I'm afraid that our mistrust of everything the administration does has become so blind and reflexive that many of us are unwilling or unable to examine the current strategy objectively and give it a fair chance if it's due one. And if that's the case, we're doing ourselves and the Iraqis another grave disservice.

give it a fair chance

A fair chance to do what? Stabilize central government in Iraq? You're kidding.

Everything Cheney warned about here is going to happen within the next five years, no matter what we do. So why do we insist on further alienating the rest of the world, bankrupting the United States, and spilling more barrels of American blood before we let the inevitable occur?

"Stabilize central government in Iraq? You're kidding."

I hope not.

I'm not saying I think it's likely now, though, just possible. That's more chance than I would have given it eight months ago. I'm certainly willing to wait for the September report before making the next decision.

I really do think that a central government of any kind in what we now call Iraq is impossible. One that the United States could support is especially out of the question.

And this was always clear, right from the start. But even if you forget the crooked past, it's not going to happen. Utter delusion.

Not to mention that the Gen. Petraeus report is being 'vetted' by the White House before its presentation to Congress. So it won't be a report from the Commander On The Ground but from Bush in the White House. But we'll all wait breathlessly...

That's surely a reasonable opinion, Jack, I'll not deny it. Even to me, it seems highly unlikely that a stable Iraq will be created without many more years of occupation, and even then they're unlikely to think well of Washington.

But my point in all this is to get people thinking about what we do now, without having that decision unduly colored by the mistakes of the past. Yes, what the administration did to start the war was foolhardy and possibly criminal, and their conduct of the occupation for a couple years was absurdly incompetent, but we're stuck with it. We need to make our decisions based on what's going on now, not on what happened back then.

And Nancy, I agree that the administration is going to spin the upcoming report as hard as they can. I hope Petraeus will find a way to get a candid appraisal out to the public... and I also hope that it shows some serious progress.


I admire your ability to stick to your guns. It would be great if the history of this farce could be ignored, but I’m afraid it cannot be made to go away and will shape everything that comes after.

I was actually an observer (not a believer but curious) of the Committee for a New American Century folks back in the 90s. Some of their ideas come from a lefty “we can make the world better” tradition that I still (sort of) believe in. I have a degree in international politics (note to parents: do not let your children do this. It’s bloody useless in the real world) and would have liked to see some of these ideas debated for a few decades. That this group used the mass murder of 3000 people to sneak this experiment through, and then cocked it up in every conceivable way, is the purest example of treason I have ever seen.

Thanks Sherwood... although that's probably an unfortunate metaphor in this case.

(Incidentaly, I'm also not saying that the folks responsible for the Iraq debacle shouldn't be held accountable by us; they should. But again, that process has very little to do with the choices we face now with our occupation of Iraq.)

Alan: I'm still in shock from your kind words in defense of objective analysis. And a NYT/CNN bash in the same paragraph?
Danger, Will Robinson, DANGER.

Now if Tenske admits that Bush may not have been the mastermind of 9/11, and I'll be go out and drop $20 on the Powerball...because anything is possible.

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