Getting Realistic About Iraq

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, is no shrinking violet. Like his boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he has worked hard over the past several months to demonstrate that he takes an independent, fact-based approach to the problems of the day, whether the issue is Iraq force levels or dissent within the force.

Yesterday, Mullen continued that tradition with comments at a Pentagon press conference spelling out the tradeoffs between keeping troops in Iraq and deploying them to Afghanistan. Here's what he had to say:

Let me also say just a word about Afghanistan. I am and have been for some time now deeply troubled by the increasing violence there. The Taliban and their supporters have, without question, grown more effective and more aggressive in recent weeks and as the casualty figures clearly demonstrate...

I've made no secret of my desire to flow more forces, U.S. forces, to Afghanistan just as soon as I can, nor have I been shy about saying that those forces will not be available unless or until the situation in Iraq permits us to do so.

There's no easy solution, and there will be no quick fix. More troops are necessary, and some of our NATO allies have recently committed to sending more of their own, but they won't fully ever be sufficient. We need and are pursuing a broader interagency international approach, one that includes infrastructure improvement, foreign investment and economic incentives, and I'm hopeful these efforts will begin to pay off in the near future. But we all need to be patient. As we have seen in Iraq, counterinsurgency warfare takes time, and it takes a certain level of commitment. It takes flexibility.

I think my friend Noah Shachtman is right to hear echoes of Sen. Barack Obama's statements in Mullen's words. There are opportunity costs associated with perseverance in Iraq, and Mullen is right to highlight those, as well as the simple fact that our current operations in Iraq are unsustainable.

I also hear echoes of Gen. David Petraeus, and think that his hand is guiding this line of thought. As Petraeus moves from commanding all troops in Iraq to commanding all troops in the CENTCOM area of operations -- including both Iraq and Afghanistan -- I think he's pushing a holistic evaluation of where we should allocate scarce military resources to get the most bang for our buck. For a variety of complex reasons, Iraq has stabilized. But Afghanistan has not, and our position is in grave peril there.

By Phillip Carter |  July 3, 2008; 11:45 AM ET  | Category:  Iraq
Previous: Stupid Is As Hitchens Does | Next: The Battle for Mosul

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



sorry, but Mrs. Bush and Cheney only get the benefit from the oil money that Iraq will generate for their friends.

our long term security against terrorists was just a ruse.

send them both to the Hague

Posted by: pv | July 3, 2008 1:08 PM

In Afghanistan, more is not necessarily better. We need the right kind of troops in Afghanistan; guys who can ride around low-profile in the countryside on horses or camels. If you come into a village and ask people to help take care of your animals, it then encourages them to invite you into their homes. We still have an enormous reservoir of good will in Afghanistan, unlike Iraq. Most of the people there want to see us stay and the Taliban has little meaningful local support. It's not too late to turn Afghanistan around if we use Special Forces troops there instead of sending them on missions inside Iran in foolish attempts to stir up trouble with Iranian minorities.

Posted by: George Robertson | July 3, 2008 1:13 PM

Phil;

Get confused by what is going on. Senior DOD officials (Cheney?) are speaking to ABC about war. (Thought most DoD officials moon light (for consideration) for Fox when not ghost writing for that Washington Times fish wrapper.) Military officers are speaking a craving for policy and depleating assets.

Sounds like a poker game but for what prize?

Posted by: Bill Keller | July 3, 2008 2:04 PM

Phillip,

Adm. Mullen appears to be part of the "New Breed" of senior military leadership versed in the art of "speaking truth to authority." These men and women differ from the other leaders, the subject of Lt Col Paul Yingling's article "A Failure in Generalship" published in the May 2007 Armed Forces Journal. They seem comfortable with their often conflicting roles as advocate, messenger, commander, and advisor.

This is akin to Marine Officer training in the "Prussian Model" of leadership. As a command is given, the subordinate leader is expected to actively, and often aggressively, challenge the order and its execution. Only after all objections have been raised and rejected does that subordinate then turn and pass the order on to his/her subordinate as if it were their own. In this way, the leaders advocate for their subordinates while simultaneously informing and advising their superiors. Both Adm Mullen and Gen Petraeus appear to adhere to this model.

Posted by: Brad Bailey | July 3, 2008 3:11 PM

I agree that the United States needs to send more SOF - types, read Special Forces, to work directly with the Afaganistan military and civil forces. However, SOF is not the whole answer. We need more NATO forces that are capable of providing tactical support as well as holding ground.

Posted by: Carl Little Rock | July 3, 2008 3:12 PM

It should be obvious to those who rejected the thought that the Bush-Cheney administration was focusing on Iraqi oil as a major reason for invading Iraq.

Posted by: A. Davis | July 3, 2008 3:17 PM

First All;I wish you & your family a great,safe,enjoyable July 4th! As it is now here @ET +7.

The new Weekly Ahram is Just Out.And one of their Top stories will intresting for here;

An ever-receding 'breakthrough'

Re-integrating the main Sunni group in the cabinet is not a sufficient condition to heal Iraq's political wounds, writes Saif Nasrawi

Despite his recent successful military campaigns to crack down on the Mahdi Army militias as well as Sunni insurgent groups in southern and northern Iraq, several contentious political challenges await Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki before he can claim a breakthrough in the war-torn nation. These challenges include broadening the political process, improving the security forces, signing the joint Iraqi-US security pact, and holding local council elections. However, given Iraq's complex reality, tackling one problem can lead to an even worse one.

Capitalising on his success in beginning to dismantle the Mahdi Army militia cells in Baghdad and Shia- dominated southern Iraq, Al-Maliki's government managed this week to convince the Iraqi Accord Front (IAF), the main Sunni block in the parliament which has boycotted his government last year, to return to the cabinet.


http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/904/re5.htm
A Sunni Iraqi parliamentary source who declined to be identified said that both Al-Maliki's Shia-led ruling coalition and the IAF were looking to enhance their chances in the coming local elections scheduled in October. "Shia officials want to tighten their security grip on Sunni areas depending on the IAF's bases and networks to tell the Iraqi people that they are capable of maintaining the security gains ahead of the elections," he said. He clarified that the front, on the other hand, is keen to exploit the government's military and financial resources to compete against their growing rival, the Awakening Councils, which have more arms and stronger domestic presence. He said that the IAF had worked hard to veto every proposal presented by Iraqi and US officials to include members of the Awakening Councils in the would-be national unity cabinet.


Mid-par.:A Sunni Iraqi parliamentary source who declined to be identified said that both Al-Maliki's Shia-led ruling coalition and the IAF were looking to enhance their chances in the coming local elections scheduled in October. "Shia officials want to tighten their security grip on Sunni areas depending on the IAF's bases and networks to tell the Iraqi people that they are capable of maintaining the security gains ahead of the elections," he said. He clarified that the front, on the other hand, is keen to exploit the government's military and financial resources to compete against their growing rival, the Awakening Councils, which have more arms and stronger domestic presence. He said that the IAF had worked hard to veto every proposal presented by Iraqi and US officials to include members of the Awakening Councils in the would-be national unity cabinet.

Ending:Iraqi and US officials, who began the security talks on March, are still quarrelling over the pivotal issues under negotiation, including the longevity of the agreement, capacity for US troops to carry out military operations and arrests of Iraqis without Baghdad's prior permission, and legal immunity for American troops.

On Sunday, Iraqi officials criticised the American military for two recent attacks in which soldiers killed four people who the government said were civilians.

An Iraqi government statement demanded that the soldiers responsible for such deaths be held accountable, part of Al-Maliki's attempt to increase his leverage on the long-term security agreement negotiations.

In a nut shell, political disenchantment by the Awakenings -- which include many former insurgents, and the possible signing of a security deal with Washington that many Iraqi view as shameful suggest that Iraq's summer might turn to be even hotter than usual.

Good Night from me.This E-venue may close in 13 minutes,being 1AM.

And I wish to my forums;as I started here.

לחיים=To Life!

לילה טוב=Good Night.

Michael PRIORITY 1 LIFE

Posted by: Michael of up.west side.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem | July 3, 2008 5:50 PM

ON this;The 232nd Anniversary of our Great USA;

It is with most profound regret,that my relivant 'jour gem' for U.S. Intel relivance,is as follows;

But First,again,All;Happy 4th of July for Safe,enjoyable happiness for you & yours!

Here;Central West Jeerusalem way;Friday morning is coming up to 11 AM.

Thus;I also take this opportunity Wishing All שבת שלום= Sabbath Peace;from Jerusalem.

To Life!=לחיים PRIORITY 1 LIFE Michael

Losing power
In its misuse of military force, the United States has opened the way for its competitors to win deeper influence, writes Azmi Ashour*

When Joseph Nye, former US assistant secretary of defence and former dean of Harvard University's John Kennedy School of Government, coined the terms "soft power" and "hard power" his point was that countries shouldn't rely on military means alone. He believes that the US should develop non-military means of persuasion to influence the priorities and therefore behaviour of others.

To influence the priorities of others a country must have an attractive culture, model institutions and an inspirational ideology. Had the US used soft power, its cost of leadership would have been much less than it is today, Nye notes. Soft power is not synonymous with persuasion. Instead, it is a process of attraction, of getting people to your side, of enticing them to emulate your conduct. Nye believes that hard power and soft power must be used in tandem to influence the conduct of others. One can alter the behaviour of others through coercion as well as attraction. But a country slipping in its economic and military power may find it hard to act as a model and inspiration.

What Nye develops makes one see power and its history in a new light. Power is an old political concept and our understanding of it has changed over time. In the past, power was mostly perceived in its crude forms, and yet great civilisations often exercised a great deal of soft power. The Greeks, Romans and Muslims all did.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/904/op211.htm

Mid to End:

Nye draws a comparison between US policy during the Cold War and US policy since then. During the Cold War, the US used soft power to lead and inspire, and that was one of the reasons it emerged victorious from that war. But since then it opted for hard power, and that was when its problems began. The "war on terror" is an example of conflicts that calls for intensive use of soft power. The enemy is hard to define and it derives its power from ideology, faith and the misuse of US hard power.

But since 9/11, US leaders failed to employ soft power in their foreign policy, giving other international powers, especially China, the chance to emerge as possible rivals. Until recently, the Chinese exercised soft power only on a limited scale. It was only in 1997 that China started to emerge as a true leader, especially when it refused to devalue its currency during the Asian financial crisis. Since then, the Chinese made sure to present their policy to the world as a win-win situation. China listens to what Southeast Asian countries have to say. It signed a "friendship agreement" with other Asian countries and its policy in the South China Sea is known for its flexibility.

China has managed to forge close ties with countries having troubled relations with the US, including the Philippines and Cambodia. Chinese officials visit East Asian countries twice as frequently as US officials do. The Chinese succeeded in increasing knowledge of their language in the region through their radio broadcasts. And they offer scholarships to students from all over the region. Moving beyond the stage of free trade agreements, China is now negotiating economic partnership with South East Asian countries. Its trade with the region is higher than that of Japan and the US. One should not be surprised if the day comes when Chinese is the world's most commonly spoken language.

* The writer is a political analyst at the quarterly journal Al-Demoqrateya published by Al-Ahram.


Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhatan.Now Jerusalem. | July 4, 2008 3:56 AM

So I've lived long enough to see the Republic come to rely on the rationality of the military officer corp to restrain the bloodthirsty impulses of the civilian government? That doesn't seem a little...I don't know...backassward to anybody else?
What are you going to tell us next, Phil, Doctor Strangelove is working as a consultant for FEMA?

Posted by: Dijetlo | July 4, 2008 9:32 AM

"What are you going to tell us next,Doctor Strangelove is working as a consultant for FEMA?"

Well, I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, Dijetlo, but he's there now, as is the whole lovable cast and crew.

Posted by: rangeragainstwar | July 4, 2008 10:17 AM

Don't forget that the German General Staff was opposed to Hitler's push toward war. The Field Marshalls recognized that only destruction of their beloved Wehrmacht lay ahead.
We forget that Iran was our ally in Afghanistan. They, too, feared and hated the Taliban. Now Cheney is diverting scarce assets to infiltrate our erstwhile ally. We are in the hands of madmen.

Posted by: H R Coursen | July 4, 2008 10:39 AM

All this linking of Mullens remarks with Obama in liberal leaning media is gratuitous and conveniently glosses over fact Obama's policy iterations re Iraq have all been dependent on electoral calculations. In state legislature he was fervently anti-war in keeping with his stridently liberal constituency; moving to the senate he moderates his anti-war sentiments considerably, often times making somewhat contradictory statements re the war depending on his perception of what electorate wanted to hear and his fear of doing anything too dramatic, ie politically risky; during presidential primary he again touted his anti-war bona fides in order to woo the ultra left wing of the party without whom he couldn't win the nomination; and now with general election in sights he tacks to the safe center again , not because it makes sense policy wise, but because it makes sense politically.

How Phil you jump from this mash of political expediency for the sake of personal ambition to suggesting that some well reasoned strategic integrity has brought Obama to this sublime point of consonance with military thinkers is - well, this is Obama propaganda, pure and simple, and quite frankly beneath you.

Obama's one chance, during his precipitous and fundementally superficial rise to the top, to exhibit true leadership and courage and insight was lost when he opposed the surge, virtually the only intelligent policy enacted during the six long years of war. So you're giving him credit for what exactly? Stating the obvious that Iraq is improving and Afghanistan getting worse? We're just getting rid of a president who cynically exploited the low expectations of a gullible public - you're really that intent on electing another one?

Posted by: Joyce S | July 4, 2008 12:35 PM

Quote above, "opposed the surge, virtually the only intelligent policy enacted during the six long years of war"

Um, to suggest that doing more, of what you are doing wrong, is the only intelligent move, seems to me to be dumb thinking.

There has been a lot of smart intelligent moves made by the military on the ground, and not many intelligent policy moves made by the people who should set policy from Washington. Our success is due to COIN and other on the ground moves, not more of the more.

If you think that having more troops was the answer, and a lot of smart people think that there were too few at the start, and too few for the first four years, then you should be hoist enough to rename the surge as the long belated 'catch-up'.

You shoot your own credibility in the foot when your analysis of Obama's becoming the presumptive president elect when you use the words "fundamentally superficial rise to the top".
If you can't figure out why the people of your own nation, who speak your own language, selected this man as the best candidate, then I suspect your analysis of the situation in Iraq where the people are a lot less understandable, for a number of reasons including language, heritage, experience and viewpoints.

Quote "policy iterations re Iraq have all been dependent on electoral calculations"
By this, would you be suggesting that his position is based on what the people of the USA are WANTING? What a strange and novel idea.

Hay, I might even vote for someone who wants to do what we want, instead of what his big fat oil soaked benifactors want.

Posted by: James M | July 4, 2008 4:48 PM

A good president doesn't do what "We" want-He does what he belives is best for the country as a whole. (If Bush belived this, I question a few of his decisions)This isn't about Dem vs Repub- it's about America-All side have Merits and faults.

Posted by: MarxBro | July 4, 2008 11:37 PM

The Marine Corps can train a good soldier in 13 weeks. There are Afghans ready to be trained. In November, the USA will have been there 7 years. Train just one division of highly motivated Afghans in Special Forces know how and subsidize their pay and let them go after the Taliban 24/7.

Posted by: ghostcommander | July 5, 2008 1:31 AM

== For a variety of complex reasons, Iraq
== has stabilized.

Complex reasons.

I was there in 2004. The type of
killings and assasinations were
aimed at people of authority:
teachers, professors, tribal
chieftains, policemen, religious
leaders.

The blowhard Limbaugh, during this
time, was saying that the killings
in Iraq were no different than
what goes on in the inner city.

In fact, the nature of the killings
were aimed at 'beheading' entire
communities -- by removing any
semblance of leadership.

At the same time, the various
ethnic factions -- in different
parts of the country -- were
enacting 'ethnic cleansing' in
their own communities.

There are estimated to be several
million Iraqis presently in
refugee status.

The kind of violence to which I
refer has been going on for
five years.

In 2004, I wondered to myself how
long this kind of violence could
last.

In 2007 we had the "surge." An
expensive operation, in an expensive
war, sitting on what is left of
Iraq.

Iraq is by no means a 'success.'

Iraq is a humanitarian disaster,
deliberately crafted by the Bush
administration.

Posted by: Marcaurelius | July 5, 2008 8:49 AM

It isn't Special Forces troops we need to repel the Taliban, it is Civic Action/Revolutionary Development units. But that doesn't matter, because SF Forces take at least a year to train to the level we need to dispatch them to Afghanistan, and CA/RD troops probably take longer, and we don't have enough combined to do the job, and certainly don't have enough of either by themselves.

Even could we somehow come up with the specialty units, those units only work well in an Afghanistan type of insurgency (lets recognize Taliban for what it is) it takes main force units, mostly Engineers to do the infrastructure building, and Air Mobile troops to respond rapidly when the Taliban tries to concentrate against a lightly supported SF post. We haven;t got near enough of those either.

The Republicans, who are going to try to pass themselves off as the Great Defenders again this year, never mention building up the Army to get the troops they need for their glorious little wars. The Democrats WON'T mention it, because it would only give the Republicans grounds to snipe at them, and couldn't accomplish anything until after November anyway.

Somewhere, next January, in the construction of the 2010 and later budgets, we need to get back to a cold war sized Army, heavy on the specialty troops that take longest to train, so that eventually we can build a proper sized force (quite a bit bigger than what we have, maybe half again as big as everything used for Viet Nam) and properly constituted, meaning heavy on the combat support, logistics, intelligence, and local action troops, and less overloaded with straight combat troops, who can be raised and deployed to combat in less then six months from oath to operations.

Unfortunately, that probably means Afghanistan goes from early stage insurgency to late stage main Force combat before we have the forces to get the job done. This lack is decades old, and due entirely to a force concept that has arisen from a Republican Party concentration on more teeth, less tail, that has been the favored way to get "Defense" without paying for it.

Meanwhile, Admiral Mullen turns from complaining about what is his inability to man up Afghanistan, and says that he can keep the Straights of Hormuz open, as if the troops he hasn't got for Afghanistan will magically appear when he needs them in the Persian Gulf. THAT is quite scary, because it means that George has told the career officers that he is going to do whatever he wants in Iran, and they should shut up and soldier.

Admiral Mullen can shut up and soldier, or resign and complain. It won't stop George.

Say good by to the Persian Gulf Squadron, it is headed for the bottom before October.

Admiral Mullen will probably get the task of announcing its loss to the American Public, so he can be forced to say that Iranians in fiberglass speed boats weren't something that George's planners could foresee.

Posted by: ceflynline@msn.com | July 5, 2008 10:29 AM

I think General Petraus is pretty ego-centric, and this aura surrounding his magical powers and intelligence is getting in the way of his judgement. He is becoming as delusional as GWB.

He seems to want to prove his PhD dissertation and Princeton resume at the expense of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen, and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Insurgency tactics and strategies is only a small part of Iraq. The other is culture, competing self-interests, internal, and of course external forces being exerted in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

It's time the leadership in our country said 'UNCLE', admitted the war was a really bad idea, send Bush, Cheney, Rummsfeld, Rice, Addington, Feith, Wolfowitz, Tenet, Rove, and Libby, and Hadley to the Hague to be taken care of by the international community; and they can be treated more fairly for their actions.

Our economy can't endure any more of this B.S.

P.S. John McCain is way too old to be president. Why vote for a 72 year old man who isn't mentally and physically up to the rigors of being our president. The guy has been flip-flopping his way through life, and definitely doesn't have the average american's interest in mind. If he did he would have already pushed to have implemented Michael W. Masters' plan for zeroing out speculators in the oil futures trading market -- a plan that would have fixed the gasoline price mess within 30 days... i.e. by 30 July 2008 -- if Congress and the White House were serious about helping the consumers and citizens of our country. Have a nice day.

Posted by: frank | July 5, 2008 10:41 AM

Everything that happens in the world happens for a reason. In none of the foreign policy discussions I have read so far do we ever get around to addressing the reasons for the behaviour of those who use murder and violence and terror. The idea that these people are simply evil is not an answer. People do not react in this way for no reason.

That is what bothers me most about all of this. We just seem to plod along day after day, year after year, decade after decade, no matter what party or which ideology controls the White House or Congress, and nothing ever seems to really change. Until we understand the underlying motivations of those who commit acts of terror and begin openly discussing those motivations, we will never see the end of this "war".

No doctrine, no partisan ideology and no amount of military force will solve this problem until the fundamental reason for this type of destructive behaviour is openly and objectively studied. If if it means that America must air its own dirty laundry.

Posted by: Jaxas | July 5, 2008 10:45 AM

Any who thinks Obama is qualified to be President is hallucinating. He doesn't have a clue, and the faster we wake up to that fact the better. Syria and Iran are teeny tiny, so they're not a threat to us? We should meet with our enemies without pre-conditions? People could have accepted that a strong team might be able to prop up Obama in foreign policy, but that was before his foreign policy advisor Richard Danzig likened the international security situation to Winnie the Pooh. Obama has a very poor record of surrounding himself with high-calibre mentors and advisors, to be charitable. He's now stretching his previously unyielding Iraq position to include....the current policy! As long as violence remains low, the Iraqis can continue to stand up their forces, and ours can continue to dwindle. No one had any expectation that surge-level operations could or should be sustained. What is exactly is it, in terms of practical results, that Obama would order be done as President that would be different from what they're doing now? Regions are being transferred to Iraqi control as capabilities are demonstrated, leading to ever decreasing force levels. Would he want to speed it up? What if commanders say speeding it up would be reckless and compromise safety? What if commanders are already going as fast as possible without compromising safety and security? What would Obama do, change the laws of physics? Immediate withdrawal in 16 months from the day he enters office. That has been Obama's position on Iraq since before he won the Democratic nomination. Further, Obama has advocated greater reliance on international alliances to conduct such operations. In Afghanistan, security started loosening and going down hill after the U.S. transferred command to NATO. Steadily, NATO has lost control of the situation. Yet, this is Obama's preferred method -- relying on multi-lateral organizations. So, how's that going to work, when in fights like Afghanistan they are demonstrating an inability to handle the problem? These alliances Obama says would be at the pinnacle of his defense approach won't send more combat troops, and those they do send aren't allowed to fight. You want a critical battle in those kinds of hands?

Posted by: roe | July 5, 2008 11:54 AM

Our commanders are 10,000 men short for their operations in Helmand. They have performed magnificently considering the limited forces. Iraq troops have 1 mission and it is not to stabilize Shia Iraq, nor their oil installations, it is to eradicate what is left of Al Qaeda in Iraq. We should draw down everywhere, except the airports, and concentrate on the triangle and Sunni part of Baghdad. The Sunni/US forces can get this job done and make the Shia think twice about civil war. The people responsible for ridding Al Qaeda in Iraq could possibly live in peace if the religious leaders push it. We can then completely withdraw and give them back their country. A base in Kurdistan would be something we could accomplish as it helps against Russia, Iran and any Turkish ideas of Kurdish intervention.

Posted by: Jimbo | July 5, 2008 12:21 PM

== [roe ] Any who thinks Obama is
== qualified to be President is
== hallucinating.

You have two choices:

Obama, or McCain.

You would be hallucinating more
if you think that it would be
better to extend the policies of
Cheney/Bush.

Go with Obama.

Posted by: Marcaurelius | July 5, 2008 1:01 PM

== [joyce ] Obama's policy iterations re
== Iraq have all been dependent on
== electoral calculations.

Which is why he came out against
the Iraq invasion, in his campaign
for statewide office?

At a time when Lil Bush was momentarily
popular, and the media hyenas were
comparing the president to Churchill?

=== he was fervently anti-war in keeping
== with ....

His Christian beliefs.


== ... stridently liberal constituency; ...

Compare them to Karl Rove's young
fascists.

== moving to the senate he moderates his
== anti-war sentiments ....

Everyone knew that he was opposed to
the war from the beginning.

==often times making somewhat contradictory statements ...

If all you read is the rightwing
press.

== during presidential primary he again
== touted his anti-war bona fides

He has been consistent. At least
we know that Obama doesn't plan
to stay in Iraq 100 years.


== Obama's one chance, during his
== precipitous and fundementally
== superficial rise to the top, to exhibit
== true leadership and courage and
== insight was lost when he opposed the
== surge ....

Oh, the wonderful "surge." Brought the
violence down so that Iraqi politicians
could take a vacation.

The insurgents lie low. While the
"surge is in place. When the surge is
ended the insurgency resumes.

Nothing fundamental has been resolved
due to the surge, other than the
'ethnic cleansing' of neighborhoods
has been completed. And several
million Iraqis still live as
refugees.

== virtually the only intelligent policy
== enacted during the six long years of
== war.

Will be Obama's executive direction
to the JCS to enact a withdrawal from
Iraq in 16 months - give or take
a few more or less months.

== Stating the obvious that Iraq is
== improving and Afghanistan getting
== worse?

Iraq is in a lull.
Afghanistan is a disaster.
There are no more troops available.
Only overpaid mercenaries.

== We're just getting rid of a president
== who cynically exploited the low
== expectations of a gullible public -
== you're really that intent on electing
== another one?

So who is for McCain?

Posted by: Joyce S | July 4, 2008 12:35 PM

Posted by: Marcaurelius | July 5, 2008 1:11 PM

War is the life blood of great powers - any great power that becomes detached from this reality or allows this reality to be compromised by forces that do not respect or understand it or in any other way sees this life blood significantly diminished will cease to be a great power. Both the right and left in this country indulge factions which are a threat to the imperative of American military might - and by far Obama is more closely related to so described inimical factions on the left than McCain is to inimical factions on the right. There are times in a great power's existence when an ebb in the ethos of war is tolerable - but with America mired in two difficult conflicts and with Israel set to exacerbate the situation by bombing Iranian nuclear facilities, now is not one of those times. America will rue the day it was foolish enough to elect a community activist as its commander in chief.

Posted by: Silas M | July 6, 2008 1:53 PM

Alcohol returns to Baghdad

Militants' control diminishes as secular social life returns

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Getty Images

A shop-owner brandishes a bottle of whisky in Baghdad, where drink stores have reopened

enlarge

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/alcohol-returns-to-baghdad-862969.html

Alcohol is openly for sale once more in Baghdad. All over the Iraqi capital, drink stores, which closed their doors in early 2006 when sectarian strife was raging, have slowly begun to reopen. Two years ago, al-Qa'ida militants were burning down liquor stores and shooting their owners. Now around Saadoun Street, in the centre of the city, at least 50 stores are advertising that they have alcohol for sale.

The fear of being seen drinking in public is also subsiding. Young men openly drink beer in some, if not all, streets. A favourite spot where drinkers traditionally gathered is al-Jadriya bridge, which has fine views up and down the Tigris river. Two years ago even serious drunks decided that boozing on the bridge was too dangerous. But in the past three months they have returned, a sign that militant gunmen no longer decide what people in Baghdad do at night. "I drink seven or eight cans of beer a day and a bottle of whiskey on Thursday evenings," said Abu Ahmed, a former military intelligence officer who now makes a living driving a taxi.

Mid-segment:

Iraq was one of the most secular of Arab countries until the early 1990s. Restaurants all served alcohol and there was a plentiful supply of nightclubs. None of the prohibition on alcohol seen in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait held sway. In Basra, in the late 1970s, the main local complaint was that Kuwaitis were pouring across the border and drinking the city dry. In Baghdad it was possible to sit in one of the restaurants off Abu Nawas Street on the bank of the Tigris River eating fish grilled over an open fire and drinking beer and arak (a spirit made from dates and flavoured with aniseed).

These were the last days when social life in Baghdad was free and easy. Following his disastrous defeat in Kuwait, Saddam Hussein, seeking to shore up his support, gave his regime a more Islamic complexion. The Abu Nawas restaurants went dry. Police patrolled the public parks in search of illicit drinkers. An Iraqi who drank had to do so at home and Muslims were banned from selling alcohol, leaving the trade to Christians.

Then;

When Saddam's regime fell in 2003, whisky, beer and wine reappeared in restaurants and bars, but it didn't last. At the height of the Sunni insurgency, al-Qa'ida in Iraq was notorious for its savage punishments of those offending Islamic social mores. Smokers had the two fingers with which they held a cigarette chopped off as a warning. Dozens of hairdressers accused of giving unIslamic haircuts were shot dead. In Shia working-class areas such as Sadr City, controlled by the Mehdi Army, militia Islamic dress became obligatory. There are still risks. Two months ago a store owner, Abu Rami, opened up selling drink among other things in the Mansur district of west Baghdad. Several weeks later gunmen, who locals believe came from al-Qa'ida in Iraq, shot him dead with his son and set his shop ablaze.

But few of the other reopened shops have been harassed or attacked. Most are near army or police checkpoints which the stores pay off in beer or cash to secure protection. Rami Aboud, who works with his uncle running a drink shop at the Jordan interchange in the Yarmouk district in west Baghdad, says he gives the police and soldiers 15 cans of beer a night or the equivalent in cash.

Segment Ending to a U.S. significant segment beginning:

Saddam's favourite drink

* The favourite tipple of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was Mateus Rose, the Portuguese wine fashionable in the Seventies, and the occasional glass of whisky.

* Saddam's son Uday had a more lethal reputation as a drinker. He was prone to dangerous rages and once shot dead one of his father's aides during a drunken tantrum.

* The older generation of Iraqis in Saddam's day drank arak, made from fermented dates but after 1992 beer and whisky became more popular. The present Shia/Kurdish government is made up of members of religious parties, who largely don't drink, and Kurdish leaders, who do.

Iraq demands withdrawal date for US forces

Iraq will not accept any security agreement with the United States unless it includes dates for the withdrawal of foreign forces, the government's national security adviser said yesterday.

The comments by Mowaffaq al-Rubaie underscore the US-backed government's hardening stance towards a deal with Washington that will provide a legal basis for American troops to operate when a UN mandate expires at the end of the year.

On Monday, the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, appeared to catch Washington off guard by suggesting for the first time that a timetable be set for the departure of US forces under the deal being negotiated, which he called a memorandum of understanding. Mr Rubaie said Iraq was waiting "impatiently for the day when the last foreign soldier leaves Iraq".

Then Ending:

"We can't have a memorandum of understanding with foreign forces unless it has dates and clear horizons determining the departure of foreign forces. We're unambiguously talking about their departure," he said in the holy Shia city of Najaf.

Mr Rubaie was speaking to reporters after meeting Iraq's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. He said they spoke about the US talks, but did not say if the ayatollah had an opinion on the negotiations.

The Bush administration has always opposed setting a withdrawal timetable, saying it would allow militant groups to lie low until its 150,000 troops left. Reuters

YO Native America; You should Know;

Losing power
In its misuse of military force, the United States has opened the way for its competitors to win deeper influence, writes Azmi Ashour*
When Joseph Nye, former US assistant secretary of defence and former dean of Harvard University's John Kennedy School of Government, coined the terms "soft power" and "hard power" his point was that countries shouldn't rely on military means alone. He believes that the US should develop non-military means of persuasion to influence the priorities and therefore behaviour of others.

To influence the priorities of others a country must have an attractive culture, model institutions and an inspirational ideology. Had the US used soft power, its cost of leadership would have been much less than it is today, Nye notes. Soft power is not synonymous with persuasion. Instead, it is a process of attraction, of getting people to your side, of enticing them to emulate your conduct. Nye believes that hard power and soft power must be used in tandem to influence the conduct of others. One can alter the behaviour of others through coercion as well as attraction. But a country slipping in its economic and military power may find it hard to act as a model and inspiration.

What Nye develops makes one see power and its history in a new light. Power is an old political concept and our understanding of it has changed over time. In the past, power was mostly perceived in its crude forms, and yet great civilisations often exercised a great deal of soft power. The Greeks, Romans and Muslims all did.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/904/op211.htm

Ending:

But since 9/11, US leaders failed to employ soft power in their foreign policy, giving other international powers, especially China, the chance to emerge as possible rivals. Until recently, the Chinese exercised soft power only on a limited scale. It was only in 1997 that China started to emerge as a true leader, especially when it refused to devalue its currency during the Asian financial crisis. Since then, the Chinese made sure to present their policy to the world as a win-win situation. China listens to what Southeast Asian countries have to say. It signed a "friendship agreement" with other Asian countries and its policy in the South China Sea is known for its flexibility.

China has managed to forge close ties with countries having troubled relations with the US, including the Philippines and Cambodia. Chinese officials visit East Asian countries twice as frequently as US officials do. The Chinese succeeded in increasing knowledge of their language in the region through their radio broadcasts. And they offer scholarships to students from all over the region. Moving beyond the stage of free trade agreements, China is now negotiating economic partnership with South East Asian countries. Its trade with the region is higher than that of Japan and the US. One should not be surprised if the day comes when Chinese is the world's most commonly spoken language.

* The writer is a political analyst at the quarterly journal Al-Demoqrateya published by Al-Ahram.

My Native United States; For well over this past third of a Century my Israel has been playing our U.S for a Fool over Settlements!

And on April 14,2004 helped Seduce our Great U.,S. to an Oval Office handed U.S. Letter;As was overwhelmingly Ratified by both Houses of Congress that June.

Humanity Stability,Preservation & U.S.,for Humanity Respect,Regard & Security is what's involved here. And as Iran threatens the Strait of Hormuz @ first attack response;Western Oil suppy's art Risk,as well.

I'm @International access 972,or Israel 0,then 50-5425235.Let's talk about our U.S. 'Soft Power' saving the LIFE,LIBERTY & for HAPPINESS day a-la U.S.A. Triumpant!

Look It;Here it's 4:10 PM;Mincha prayers are just beginning @synagogue.

I'll initially post @here,To return;for onward American posting @my forums Far & Thin;This final segment;also to secretary@state.gov .

Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 9, 2008 9:48 AM

"We have a great dream.It started way back in 1776,and God grant that America will be true to her dream." Martin Luthur King,Jr.

Transcription of Top pages 12-13;

My new U.S.PASSPORT;as Downtown West courier office,picked up & signed by Bearer,me;this AM.

But as for my 4:45 PM;World A'Hoy appearance here now;on Thursday July 10,2008 @ET +7;

US@Iraq & SOFA;

Appearing today on the W.w.w.;

Security firms lose immunity in Iraq deal

By Patrick Co.kburn in Baghdad

The Iraqi armed services are likely to target widely-hated American security contractors when they lose their immunity to Iraqi law under a new agreement between the US and the Iraq.


The main American concession, during prolonged and rancorous negotiations over a Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) that would determine the future military relationship between the US and Iraq, has been to agree to lift the immunity hitherto enjoyed by the 154,000 contractors, of whom 35,000 are private security men.

"The Iraqi forces will follow them with vigour because they are not popular in Iraq," said Ahmed Chalabi, the veteran Iraqi politician, in an interview with The Independent. "People haven't forgotten about the Iraqis who were killed by private security men in Nisour Square." Security personnel from Blackwater USA are accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians, including a mother and child, when they opened fire in the square in west Baghdad on 16 September last year.

The ending of immunity will have serious consequences for the 142,000 US troops in Iraq, who are highly reliant on contractors. Mr Chalabi says it is likely that the Iraqi security forces and judiciary will go out of their way to arrest foreign security men who break Iraqi law, which they have so far flouted.

He also said that the loss of immunity of American contractors would make US intelligence operations more difficult because private companies have been used to maintain links with opponents of the Iranian regime based in Iraq, notably the Mojahedin-e Khalq. This enables the US government to deny that it has contacts with such groups.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/security-firms-lose-immunity-in-iraq-deal-863931.html

In an unexpected but important development, the negotiation of a US-Iraqi agreement, to replace the current UN mandate for US forces that is due to run out at the end of the year, is leading to a resurgence of Iraqi nationalism previously masked by Shia-Sunni sectarian conflict.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, embarrassed the White House by saying on Monday that Iraq wants some kind of timetable for a withdrawal of American forces included in the present agreement.

The national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie followed this up by saying: "We would not accept any memorandum of understanding with [the US] side that has no obvious and specific dates for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq." American officials have tried to present these demands as conditional on the effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces, which now number over half a million men. An Iraqi official supporting a US-Iraq agreement said: "It will be easier to sell it to Iraqis if it is presented as a way of getting the Americans to withdraw. We still need them. We could not cope if, hypothetically, there was an uprising in Basra, an army mutiny in Anbar or the Kurds unilaterally annexed Kirkuk."

But important Iraqi leaders have sought to outbid each other in criticising American rights under Sofa, while Iraqi supporters of the agreement have been largely mute. This suggests that the position of the Republican presidential candidate John McCain, that the US occupation should continue for many years, will soon no longer be tenable.

Ending:Defenders of Sofa, such as the Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, say the agreement will limit and define American rights in Iraq. The alternative is the UN mandate, under which US forces can do what they want. The negotiations have provoked a nationalist backlash among Arab Iraqis because they highlight the extent to which America will control their country in future.

To Life!=לחיים.Pronounced Le Chaim.

PRIORITY 1 LIFE

Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 10, 2008 9:50 AM

I'm Brian Wickens, a Major in the United States Army. The following comments are my own and do not represent the Unites States Military.

It is shame that so many important issues such as Iraq and Afghanistan get boiled down to politics and finger pointing rather than listening to all the different points of view and trying to come up with solutions to complex problems and difficult situations.

The immediate problem is the border region and establishing an agreement with Pakistan which seems to be easier said than done. There needs to be an increase of troops in Afghanistan both combat and trainers. We need to hold the Afghan Governemnt and Military Leaders' feet to the fire. There needs to be a better effort to establish a better economy in Afghanistan. Hopefully some of the troops that were suppossed to go to Iraq in the fall can be rerouted to Afghanistan.
We need the help of the state department to put pressure on both governments to work together along with fighting the ideology war. When I was in Afghanistan there was a conferenece between various tribal leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss issues which was attended by Mussharaf on the last day. I hope this can be restarted.
The real and perceived corruption in Afghanistan needs to be weeded out. We need better GAO oversight over the funds we're giving them and how we're using the funds over there. Afghanistan deserves a chance to continue to grow and mostly we need the international community to understand the importance of the GWOT.

MAJ Brian Wickens

Posted by: Brian Wickens | July 13, 2008 9:21 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company