Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Iraq as it is ....

Since Newsweek (or Newslate) put out its "Hey, Victory" article a bit ago, I've wanted to put out this post - but I kept away from it. Strange.

Thinking about it more, I've realized why. I'm angry. Why angry? Because the media like Newsweek did everything it could to undermine our victory during the most difficult times mid-decade. They took every chance to push the bad - yet are well over a year late with the good. Too angry to blog on a subject? Yes, too angry.

Angry? Yes, because most who paid attention called victory back in NOV .... NOV '08. Let me quote
my post from 16 months ago.
If you need a reality check - go back to JUL 07 and see where we were. Almost everyone but GWB and a few others were ready to quit.

There was a time when few others would come out to support and many others had already admitted defeat, had hit the mattresses or had fallen into great despair.

I referred to this time as Gandamak; a place where the 44th Foot stood their ground to the end. That is the way I was starting to feel as the pro-Victory crowd thinned to almost nothing - and defeat was the direction that the President-elect and his Party wanted us to go.

Looks like we won just in time.
I was not alone, and am not a brilliant guy. I also put this out at the bottom of the post from '08.
Now, back to Afghanistan and fix what we allowed NATO to let fester.
If 'lil 'ole me gets this stuff, why can't the press? I don't even get paid for this gig.

Over at
The Corner, K-Lo gives you a hint why - and outlines some more where my anger comes from.

Thomas Friedman today:

Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right. It should have and could have been pursued with much better planning and execution. This war has been extraordinarily painful and costly. But democracy was never going to have a virgin birth in a place like Iraq, which has never known any such thing.

Thomas Friedman in 2006:

It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war.


leaving, while bringing other problems, might also make it easier to build coalitions to deal with post-U.S. Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria.

So, besides praying on it, what should I do with my anger? I don't know. I don't even have a clear target to aim it at. I knew from the beginning that the Left would try as much as it could to turn Iraq into a loss - just like they did with the Vietnam War. In spite of them, we have something we can call victory in Iraq - and the Left had nothing to do with that victory.

Perhaps it is their attempt now to claim the victory for their own that bothers me - but that is being petty on my part. All Americans should take pride in the sacrifice, effort, and perseverance of their nation in Iraq. We succeed and fail as a nation - all of us.

From here on out, Iraq's future is up to the Iraqis. We did our part. Sure, there are things we could do to undermine and throw away our victory - like the Congress undermined and threw away our victory in Vietnam in '72 by ending support for South Vietnam in '75 - but I don't see that coming any time soon.

In the spirit of national unity and my own peace, perhaps I should pivot on my anger and take the "better late than never" approach and give a pleasant nod to Newsweek. Perhaps. If nothing else - then let me end with a quote from their article by Hussam Ali and Salih Mehdi.
What outsiders tend to miss as they focus on the old rivalries among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds is that sectarianism is giving way to other priorities. "The word 'compromise' in Arabic—mosawama—is a dirty word," says Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, who served for many years as Iraq's national--security adviser and is running for Parliament. "You don't compromise on your concept, your ideology, your religion—or if you do," he flicked his hand dismissively, "then you're a traitor." Rubaie leans in close to make his point. "But we learned this trick of compromise. So the Kurds are with the Shia on one piece of legislation. The Shia are with the Sunnis on another piece of legislation, and the Sunnis are with the Kurds on still another."

The turnaround has been dramatic. "The political process is very combative," says a senior U.S. adviser to the Iraqi government who is not authorized to speak on the record. "They fight—but they get sufficient support to pass legislation." Some very important bills have stalled, most notably the one that's meant to decide how the country's oil riches are divvied up. But as shouting replaces shooting, the Parliament managed to pass 50 bills in the last year alone, while vetoing only three. The new legislation included the 2010 budget and an amendment to the investment law, as well as a broad law, one of the most progressive in the region, defining the activities of nongovernmental organizations.

The Iraqis have surprised even themselves with their passion for democratic processes. In 2005, after decades living in Saddam Hussein's totalitarian "republic of fear," they flooded to the polls as soon as they got the chance. Today Baghdad is papered over with campaign posters and the printing shops on Saadoun Street seem to be open 24 hours a day, cranking out more. Political cliques can no longer rely on voters to rubber-stamp lists of sectarian candidates. Those that seem to think they still might, like the Iranian-influenced Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, have seen their support wane dramatically. Provincial elections a year ago were dominated by issues like the need for electricity, jobs, clean water, clinics, and especially security. Maliki has developed a reputation for delivering some of that, and his candidates won majorities in nine of 18 provinces. They lead current polls as well.
In Iraq today, conditions seem more likely to reinforce than to undermine the gains so far. Iraqis have been hardened by a very tough past and now, coming out the other side of the infernal tunnel that is their recent history, many share a sense of solidarity as survivors. "Identities in Iraq are fluid, but there is more of a sense of an Iraqi national identity," says Middle East historian Phebe Marr, whose first research trip to the country was in 1956.

You notice this, for instance, at the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, where conductor Karim Wasfi manages to extract harmony from Kurds, Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, and Bahais. Some of the women musicians wear the hijab, or headscarf; others do not. During the height of sectarian violence in 2006, almost half of the orchestra fled the country. Those who stayed behind got death threats, and one was killed. During one concert they had to play against the contrapuntal percussion of a firefight just outside the hall—but play they did. "It was about survival," says Wasfi.

Wasfi now says there are audiences asking for the symphony to perform even in conservative religious towns like Karbala, in southern Iraq. And bigger cities like Baghdad and Basra are regaining their old cosmopolitan airs. Abu Nawas Street along the Tigris River is once again lit up with lively restaurants serving broiled fish and beer. Liquor stores that had closed up shop during the height of the civil war now stack cases of Heineken and boxes of Johnny Walker Black in front of their doors. University students, once cowed by militias like the Mahdi Army, are feeling freer. Sawsan Abdul Rahman, an English major at Mustansiriyah University, says in the past she felt obliged to cover her head. "I wear a miniskirt now," she says.
I think my friend Skippy - who I have disagreed with on Iraq for years and I will grant was right on some details - will agree that, in a fashion, we can call a mini-skirt in springtime a victory of sorts.

Is a war worth a mini-skirt? In a macro-sense; yes.


Anon said...

I disagree with you on many levels.  We should have never entered Iraq, and the whole administration created evidence to drum up support, not only from the country but the international community as well.  When WMD's weren't discovered new excuses were generated and the tried and true standby, generate fear among the people, was heavily used.

If generating a fake war was was not enough, three tax cuts and a HUGE unfunded medical obligation for prescription drugs was authorized, all while the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan never appeared in the annual budget.  You want to start a war you better have a way to pay for it.

There's a straight line between our deficit and the policies of GWB.  He ranks as one of the worst presidents we have had.  For those who are fans I'm glad you like his resolve, and I only hope our children and grandchilden have the same resolve paying our debts.

AW1 Tim said...

  I suspect that W will be seen by historians as near Lincoln in stature and foresight. His policies were ones that we had to take, and your furthering the leftist myths shows a stark inability on your part to seek, let alone accept, truth.

  WMD was certainly found in Iraq. Chemical warheads and artillery rounds ready for use. NBC programs were simply mothballed, waiting for the UN Inspectors to leave so they could be restarted. Plenty of Iraqi scientists spoke of what was being done under Saddam, and when inspectors went to those locations the file cabinets and computers were all gone, with discolored areas on the walls and ground showing where they had recently stood.

   I guess the truly sad part about all of this is reading your words, and realizing that you don't give a rat's ass that 25 millions of Iraqis have, for the very first time in their history, a representative democracy, warts and all, and are happily beginning to transform themselves from subjects to citizens. We are witnessing the birth of a new nation, and you sit there whining, and complaining, the typical leftist loser.

   Your side engineered a defeat from a solid victory in Vietnam, which led directly to the deaths of millions and the enslavement of that nation today. Your side ought to be wearing sack cloth and ashes and crawling on your needs begging forgiveness for that.

Mary Alpha said...

Say it Tim! :)

anan said...

Anon, you make a good point on the budget deficit. The Iraq war has had large opportunity costs; preventing us from doing other things we would like to do.

CR Salamander, much of the credit for the Iraq war must go to the Iraqi people, their elected leaders, and their Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police. GIs deserve credit for training the IA, IP, and Iraqi civilian institutions; but ultimately it is the Iraqis and their institutions that won.

Alos said...

Your response is entirely anecdotal and full of ad-hom attacks. What is factually wrong about what he said?

"<span> I suspect that W will be seen by historians as near Lincoln in stature and foresight."</span>


Outlaw Mike said...

'Your side engineered a defeat from a solid victory in Vietnam, which led directly to the deaths of millions and the enslavement of that nation today'

EXACTLY right, AW1Tim. Now, we have been here before. We've seen it, like you said, in Vietnam. We have seen it twenty years ago with the fall of the Wall. We've seen it just recently with the GW pipe dream falling apart. And we are seeing it now in Iraq.

I say, done with the fair play. Time to rub these *ssholes nosed in the truth. We should not let the left get away with this AGAIN.

Matthew Scott said...

More partisan bs yet again. You can go on any website and see this drivel from the left and right. This country will never regain its status when it is actually 2 countries in one with separate agendas.

Byron said...

Geez, CDR, you got a direct newsfeed to Dkos and DU? :)

AW1 Tim said...

That's why we need to contain and reeducate the leftists. It's for the children, you know? ;)

 And Matthew, the only drivel is coming from the left these days. It seems that that is all they have to offer. Besides Chicago-mob politics.

xbradtc said...

In late 2003, early 2004 my boss, a solid Republican, was quick to jump on the despair wagon as the insurgency gained steam.

"We'll never win."

My reply?

"Six to nine years- that's how long most insurgencies last."

DeltaBravo said...

I bet he thinks you're an Oracle now!

B-non said...

"...three tax cuts and a HUGE unfunded medical obligation for prescription drugs was authorized, all while the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan never appeared in the annual budget..."

That and the original bank bailout helps explain the huge budget defict that Obama inherited, that Republicans are suddenly "outraged" over. Please. I consider myself liberal and only criticize GWB's method for paying for it all. He wanted to conduct the war on the cheap and used the supplemental spending bills as political weapons to criticize anyone who would vote against it as being soft on terrorism and not supporting the troops. He cut taxes and incresaed spending (typical republican MO), what did you think was going to happen?

VP Cheney remarked during a cabinet meeting, "...As Reagan said, deficits don't matter." But now suddenly it does, when the other party is in the White House. Interesting.

Liberals= tax and spend
Conservatives= borrow and spend

Bill said...

While I think that the Last Stand of the 44th is one of the coolest images produced by Victorian Britain, I'm not sure its necessarily the right analogy. Siege of Malta would have been better I think. However, it lacks such a great image to use.

Desert Sailor said...

Everytime I see more purple fingers, I smile.  Keep it up Iraq, healing and growth will follow!

ewok40k said...

Sometimes wrong decisions yield good effects - Columbus was wrong in setting out to Asia, but if he didnt he would not find America. So enough of the WMD debate. The true - if any - problem is that Iraq detracted from US ability to finish the task in AFG, forcing it to rely on not-all-are-reliable allies in NATO. Overall verdict? As Mao when asked of his opinion of French Revolution - too early to decide. GWB will certainly end up in history because of 9/11 , but as hero or villain is yet to be decided. In Iraqi books he will be laways GWB the liberator, that is one I can say.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Amazing, but at each and every turn the US Military has accomplished the impossible, at least according to the media and political oppoents of the war.  The Friedman quotes are particularly pertinent, as they are a prime example of the myopic and slanted view of events and conditions in Iraq. 

Finding Saddam and bringing him to trial, transfer of sovereignty, provisional government, 2005 elections, Anbar Awakening, not giving in to Sunni-Shia tensions and civil war, and now, this election.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Tim, you don't seem to realise that, as they don't think like Anon, they simply do not deserve freedom, or perhaps, even life.

butch said...

Phib, I remember the same @55#@ts fighting Reagan in the 80s then taking credit for the demise of the USSR, claiming to be bipartisan Cold Warriors.  I've hated them for going on 20+ years.  I hate the current crop as much.

But it's okay - the hate keeps me warm.

butch said...

Anon, if I was manufacturing a bogus reason to go into Iraq - WMDs - I would have made damn sure we would have "found some."

Never mind the satellite imagery of tractor trailer caravans out of Iraq into Syria.  Or the SEVENTY tons of nerve agents Jordanian security found in late 2003.

Never mind EVERY intelligence service in the world believed Saddam had WMD.

And never mind he had used them on the Kurds and Iranians.

The important thing is you are smarter and better than us, you tosser.  Keep up the moral preening.

UltimaRatioRegis said...


That is because if you don't believe in everything folks like Anon say, you are closed-minded.  Disagreement will not be tolerated by these free-thinking liberals.

cdrsalamander said...

Who is borrowing again?  This is, what 2QFY10, right?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Nope, Phib.  We are frozen on January 21st, 2009.  Where everything can be blamed on the previous administration and the current administration only takes the "credit" for "jobs saved". 

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Yes, an argument could certainly be made for that viewpoint.  I do tend to exhibit the well known Viking trait of flexibility of thought.

xbradtc said...

Of course not. That would mean admitting he was wrong.

Jay said...

As it was too early for anyone to predict "quaqmire" in iraq in 2003 (especially since a military decision was never in doubt...) is also too early in 2010 to start high-fiving each other over "victory".  Let's see how this plays out in 5-10 years.  Iraq still has huge obstacles to overcome.  Heck, it was going so badly by 2006 -- that EVEN Pres G.W. Bush realized it. 

It will be interesting to see if the Iraqis can *keep* tribal & religious differences at a level where they don't become major fault lines. 

The idea that Pres G.W. Bush will be seen as anywhere near the level of Pres Lincoln is simply laughable.

Context, people -- and in this instance context = time. 

Old NFO said...

Deficits don't matter as much when they are only a small fraction of the GNP.  Under Obama they will quickly add up until just "entitlements" and interest payments use up everything the the government can steal.  That is exactly the goal of the left. 

Democrats left millions to die in SE Asia in order to get their political victory in 1975.  They were eager to do the same in Iraq in 2007.  The betrayal and deaths of our allies mean nothing to them if they can get a short term political gain out of it.

Just curious.  The left loves to blame Bush for 9/11 which happened less than eight months into his first term.  At what point is Obama responsible for what happens?

Wharf Rat said...


Are you kidding me?  The credit for the win goes to the US Military and GWB.  End of Story.  If, as you say the GI's deserve credit for training the Iraqui's - then again, the credit goes back to the GI's.

But the fact is we gave our most precious treasure of our service members, who gave their lives FIGHTING for the liberty of Iraq.  If they fought - which they did, they get credit.

It was the surge that GWB ordered that gave Iraqi's hope, which then caused the 'awakening'.  That awakening cost the isurgents too much support to win.  But it was the addition of an additional 30k in troups that sent a strong message to win.

Whether we should have been there or not is not the argument I'm making here.  To not give credit where credit is due is a crock.

Wharf Rat said...

To add to this post, what responsibilty does the Clinton administration have for 9/11, and failing to bring the fight to the enemy when they had the chance.

Skippy-san said...

Yea I read the Newsweek article with disgust too-because all I could think was they finally drank the Kool-Aid. Victory this is not. And if it is a victory it is only victory for Iran-its not anything good for us.

1) Just because Iraq had an election-does not mean that we benefit from that. As its shaping up Malaki will have to make so many deals with people who don't like us-its clear what ever government comes out can hardly be considered a US ally.

2) Americans are still getting killed in Iraq.

3)The Iraqis have made it pretty clear that they are now biding their time until we leave-then they will go back to their strongman ways. I'm not suprised, this is what Arabs do-they consistently screw up opportunities given to them.

Friedman has been living in his multi million dollar house too long. The internal problems in Iraq are still serious.  They probably will fall apart when we leave. And lets not forget that NOTHING has been solved with the Kurds.

Plus you have ignored the real question-what was in it for us? Victory only has meaning if it advances the US agenda-not the Iraqis or any other Arab nations. The answer to that is that our objectives were accomplished long ago-by staying in the country for as long as we deed, we simply allowed the terrorist bug to spread throughout the world blood stream. Are we any safer? No. We have our own home grown Muslims now.

Going into Iraq remains the collossal mistake of the first decade of the 21'st century. Furthermore the ongoing wars overseas-set the preconditions for a lot of our problems at home. And at the end of the day is the US any better off to compete with its real competitors on the world stage? No.

That's not a victory. And don't forget the Brits won the Boer War too-they still lost South Africa ten years later.

UltimaRatioRegis said...


You didn't drink the kool-aid, you ate the powder.  Iraq caused us the subprime mortgage fiasco?  I'll let Barney Frank know.  Iraq caused skyrocketing costs of environmental regulation that helped drive companies overseas?  Iraq gave us this contrived Global Warming nonsense that has cost this Republic tens of billions already for nothing?  Iraq was the cause of a 30-year moratorium on building power generation, nuclear or otherwise, as we reached 70%, then 80%, then 95%, and now are near 100% of capacity in many areas with normal usage?  Iraq caused us to try and nationalize our health care despite the overwhelming evidence that such a move would lead to rationing, drive costs up and quality down, or both? 

Iraq also led us to ignore the advice of what our military leaders thought a post-Cold War military should look like and slice it to ribbons in the name of a "peace dividend" and social spending?  So that a deployment of fewer than 200,000 troops in a nation of almost 300 million souls should "break" our military? 

Iraq did all that? 

Skippy-san said...

The decision to enter Iraq was coupled with the decision to cut taxes. You cannot do both. Spending a 160 billion a year for nine years put a big hole in the budget. And that is on top of the "normal" defense budget. Can you tell me with certainty that no aquisition decisions were postponed due to the war in Iraq? No you cannot. The whole purpse of so-called transformation was to free up money for the recapitalization of the services. It did no such thing-it freed up money to pay for the war. In the Navy at least, just about every major weapons program was kicked down the road.

Arguing about the results of the 1990's and other things misses the point-that when we did go to war in Iraq, we failed to project the total cost and it did break our military. We are less ready to do the other things we should be doing militarily because we spent a decade or more ( and it will be a lot more) fighting the long war. Did China, or Russia or India do that? Or Europe? No-they got a free pass while their biggest competetor exhausted itself in a protracted struggle on behalf of, wait for it, .........Arabs.

And tell us what we have won? We have a huge deficit run up as a result of ramped upped spending combined with reduced revenue because of tax cuts. The average American had to sacrifice very little to support the war. The Middle East has had elections galore-most of them have signfied nothing. ( Including Iraq's). Bottom line-they are still Arabs, they still believe in an apostate religion and they still rely on foreign labor to get any work done.

I submit to you-that not for the war in Iraq, GWB might have been able to accomplish something domestically and I will also submit Obama would not have been President if there had been no war in Iraq. (So must of the flawed assumptions you make about "nationalized heatlh care would not have happened). More importantly and the only thing that matters to me-5000 Americans would be alive instead of dead.   The real ramifications of the decision to invade Iraq are still being revealed, but as your childern grow up in the multi-polar world, competing with India, China and with Europe and Brazil-you can tell them in your old age that "the Grey haired Bush" gave you all that. Were it not for his obsession witha nation that had not attacked us-the process of the rise of our competetors might have been slowed. ( It cannot be stopped).  But I am quite sure that if the US had focused more on itself instead of trying to change Arab regimes-more would be accomplished at home. When it comes to the Middle East- less is more.