Thursday, August 19, 2010

About IRQ ...

I declared victory ~ 21 months ago ... but with the last BCT going home, a lot has been out there as of late about it.

James Jay Carafano over at
TheCorner is very close to where I am. A little bit from his larger post.
Here is what we know for sure. 1) Given the state of Iraq in 2006, the country is in a much better place today that any reasonable observer then dared hope. 2) Iraq is better off than it was in the age of Saddam. Now the country has a future, and it rests in the hands of its people. Bonus: The world is rid one of its most dangerous and bloodthirsty thugs. Yes, it was a heavy price. Freedom rarely comes cheap. 3) The surge worked. The surge never promised a land of “milk and honey.” It just promised to break the cycle of continuous, unrelenting violence, to give the new Iraqi political process a chance, and to allow the Iraqis time to build the capacity for their own security. It did that. 4) Things didn’t turn out the way Bush planned. But the vision — a free Iraq without Saddam — was achieved. Remember, things didn’t turn out the way FDR planned either. He said all the troops would be out of Europe in two years.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agree that Iraq is a better place today than it was in 2006, and that the surge deserves considerable credit for that reality.  Of course, Carafano came late to that party, not that you'd know it from the article.  A couple of other statements in the article smack of revisionist history:

<span>"Iraq is better off than it was in the age of Saddam. Now the country has a future, and it rests in the hands of its people. Bonus: The world is rid one of its most dangerous and bloodthirsty thugs. Yes, it was a heavy price. Freedom rarely comes cheap."</span>

That is completely the reverse of how it should read.  Ridding the world of a danger is the reason we invaded Iraq.  That its people are now free is the bonus.  Our military does not exist to spread tickles and sunshine to the peoples of the world, it exists to defend freedom here.

<span>"Things didn’t turn out the way Bush planned. But the vision — a free Iraq without Saddam — was achieved."</span>

The vision was not a free Iraq without Saddam.  It was an Iraq without the ability to threaten the national security of the United States.  That we were able to accomplish both is gravy.

LT B said...

You obviously have not read anything the CNO puts out.  We are ALL ABOUT tickles and sunshine. :)  

Iraq was a tough one.  More hindered by the politics and silliness back in the States than the military's ineptitude.  Plenty to go around on both counts, but the military adapted and pressured for what it needed.  The civilian support has been slow coming.  As for the departure of troops, it is not done.  We have 50k troops stationed over there and they will still require support and prayers.  A soldier called the morning radio and was laughing at the headlines.  He said their group has more combat capability and power than the group they are replacing.  Shell games, politics, unicorns and rainbows.  It is still dangerous over there, but better. 

Aubrey said...

I'm going to make an argument totally external to the discussion of Iraq, but LT one line of your comment ("Civilian support has been slow in coming.") brought it front of mind for me. I have long trumpeted the all-volunteer force as the best solution for the US military, producing the most effective force possible, but I am no longer sure of that.

I still believe the all-volunteer force to be the most effective, but not necessarily the best.  I think the disconnect between the military and the civilian side of the country is becoming more dangerous than lowering our capabilities. Would civilian support have been better in Iraq had there been more engagement on the civilian side? As scary as it is to me, I am starting to agree with those who call for the reinstatement of the draft. Even a draftee who never saw combat would have some understanding of life in the <pick>, and would identify more with what they see on the evening news.

I realize this is an argument for another day, and another of Sal's posts, but I thought I would mention it...I'm actually hoping someone will give me a simple, elegant argument so I can change my mind back to the all volunteer force. </pick>

Redeye80 said...

I came in at the tail end of the draft.  Having served in the transition to an all volunter force, I wouldn't want to go that route unless we were engaged in WWIII. 

Low readiness, race riots, drugs.  Nope, I'll pass on that.

Alos said...

When was Iraq threatening our national security?

LT B said...

Their ability to destroy oil production.  Their desire to create WMD's and willingness to use them (Kurds), and ties to terrorism and thuggery.  Yep, pretty much all were possible threats.  Better ways to go about ending them?  Maybe, maybe not.  Better targets for our ire?  I would say yes, but I wasn't POTUS, nor would I want to be.  But a threat to our national security?  Yes, as is Iran.  It takes oil and transport resources to transport Berkenstocks across the nation.  No lie.

LT B said...

The draft would not have improved civilian engagement.  Choosing a civilian LEADER to head up that and the better incorporation of NGOs and GOs along w/ a better feel for the diplomatic subtleties of the region would have been more important.  Just my opinion though.

Byron said...

When it comes to the people guarding the gates and keeping the wolves from the fire, I want nothing but volunteers.

Therapist1 said...

It's sponsoring of terrorism in Israel further destabilizing the region.  Their pursuit of nuclear weapons possibly starting an arms race in the Middle East.  For evidence of this look to Iran and SAudi Arabia's willingness to let Israel utilize their airspace just to avoid that arms race.

Skippy-san said...

"The surge worked" -only if you ignore what the stated purpose of the surge was. To create a security situation that allowed the Iraqis to actually make political progress. It, of course, ignored two things: 1) the Iraqis are incapable of making political progress and 2) what is in the long term interest of the United states. How many months since the last of many elections and they still don't have a goverment? 59 dead only a few days ago in the latest bombing attack of many and an upward swing in violence.

As I have said-our objectives were accomplished when Saddam Hussein was captured. The rest of the expense in terms of US treasure, lives and overall postion in the world was counter-productive to our interests. What is good for Iraq, is not necessarily in the best interests of the US, and that should be the only thing that should matter. The Iraqis are going to screw it up no matter what. Real victory-for the US will only occur the day the last American troops our out of that God-forsaken country. Plus the statement that we are leaving next years is a lie-Iraq has no Air Force to speak of and we will still be providing air support till 2018. At great cost to our own needs, I might add and ignoring the real threats to our national security.

That is what Bush accomplished in Iraq. The surge only worked in creating a context for us to leave. But it did not work in terms of really fixing anything in Iraq. And the next strongman is still out there waiting and in ten years we could be right back where we were with Saddam or worse, since they will now have an American trained Army. That hardly consititutes success.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Thank you Keith Olbermann. 

Asymmetric warfare, the detonating of car bombs, etc, is to make people say just what you said.  "Look, a bunch of people got killed!  Things must be BAD!"  When in reality it was the acts of a few people egged on by radicals, who perpetrated the crime, and not 59 people being killed in clashes between two groups of Iraqis.  The "upswing in violence" represents a miniscule number of people perpetrating these acts in order to gain media attention.  When NBC declared "Civil War!" in Iraq after the Samarra Mosque bombing, it was clear to the Iraqis that such a notion was absurd and driven by an anti-Bush bent in the US media to the reporting of events in Iraq. 

Iraq isn't looking to peddle VX to Al Qaeda any more, and Saddam isn't pursuing nuke/bio/chem weapons any longer.  And Iraqis aren't being killed by their own government to the tune of tens of thousands per year as they were under Saddam. 

Success?  Yep.

ewok40k said...

As with the famous comment by Mao - or was that Zhou En-Lai?
"Too early to decide."
In 10 years we will know the mid-term effects.
It doesnt take many people to bomb a crowded place. Civil war this does constitute not.
And while we have removed the immediate enemy of Iran, in the long run the idea of democracy in the region might be more dangerous to the mullahs power hold.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

ewok,

Don't think we ever defined success as a flourishing democracy in Iraq for perpetuity.  If they make hash of this chance five or ten years from now, it does not lessen the fact that they had a chance that we gave them.  And we did all those other things I define below as successful.

xformed said...

Yep...and back then, the Diversity Bullies were but a twinkle in the eyes of those who have finally achieved the holding of the reigns.  A draft/conscripted force would allow:

-Justification of lower wages for those in uniform (Hey...they have to do it!)
-The diverisifcation forces to really use it as one big social experiment

It would not be good from a battlefield/deckplate stand point, even when compared to the complaining that happenes here.

xformed said...

Must have never heard of the USS STARK (FFG-31)...oh, and yes...some country invaded Kuwait...I'm trying to recall who that was....Oh, yeah...IRAQ!

Try rewriting history elsewhere, or at least admit you have no effective understanding of the topic beyond the James Carville talking points memo distributed to "mind-numbed" democratic supporters.

Southern Air Pirate said...

Strangely enough the Bush Admin could have just done as well for saying that the Iraqi Government's failure to abide by the cease-fire agreeements with regards to letting the IAEA and various other UN inspection agencies into view not only the distruction of the WMD's but also thier delievery devices (including the Scud missiles, long range artillery, and thier TU-22 Bombers). Then said because of these failings the cease-fire is no longer in effect and that the war is on like donkey kong. Instead they framed it so poorly that the classic radicals line of "Bush Lied, Kids Died" became the mantra for the better part of the decade. I would also say that Iraq is very aggressive nation in the region since Saddam rose to power in the late sixties. Remember it was Iraq that instigated the invasion of Iran following the fall of the Shah in an attempt to gain control of the water ways of the Tigris-Euprethus rivers, it was Iraq that started to use chemical weapons during that war, it was Iraq that started with the economic attacks on Iran's (or suspected Iranian) oil platforms and tankers.
Also, strangely enough President Clinton and his admin saw the same things in 1998 and started to try and have a "talk with the nation" via townhalls about the need to bring an end to Saddam, some of the same kids who were in high school and middile school at the time of Gulf War 91 yelled his staff down (i remember the CNN scene of Prudue U and college kids called Mrs. Albright a Nazi during one of the televised town halls). So instead he backed down, cause the polls weren't there.

Skippy-san said...

At what cost to the US however? People in Iraq being killed by the government was never a stated reason for the invasion. WMD was-which turned out to be a false. If saving people from bad governments is a reason for invading other countries-we have a lot more invasions to do.

A mistake is still a mistake -even if its affects are mitigated. In the case of Iraq we still don't fully understand the nature of that mistake and the simple truth is that none of Iraq's problems have been resolved-just postponed.

The only thing that matters is US national interest-not Iraqi interests.

DeltaBravo said...

Skippy, if a guy was walking up and down the street saying he had a gun and he was going to kill you and Joe Smith, wouldn't you do something?  And you told him to take the gun out of his pocket and put it on the ground.  And he didn't.  He just kept making his threats.  So if you took him out and it turned out he had no gun, does that make you a fool?  Did you want to wait till he put a bullet between your eyes or Joe's eyes before you acted?  Well, then at least you'd have proof.  No, the fool was the guy marching up and down the street antagonizing people and making threats. 

DeltaBravo said...

And we don't have Uday or Qusay waiting in the wings to try to outdo the old man....

cdrsalamander said...

I'm just glad Skippy is back in comments.  I was getting worried.   ;)

Byron said...

Phib, all it took was "Bush" and "Iraq" in the same sentence :)

DeltaBravo said...

Ahahahahaha!  Okay, Byron.  You won't top this the rest of the week.  You don't need to post anymore.  You're done.  (laughs some more.)

Skippy-san said...

I've been in Bucharest working 70+ hour weeks. It gets in the way of my correcting stupid ideas on your blog. But it pays the bills-so I can't complain.  PS I walk by Ceacescu's palace every morning on the way to work.

Skippy-san said...

Let me be very clear-I don't care about the Iraqis. And according to your example we should be deeply involved in Africa-because the same thing is happening there-and in fact, thanks to the war in Iraq, Al Quaeda has spread to that continent and elsewhere. Are we supposed to invade every country in the world? What is it that makes the Iraqis so special and so many Africans are not special?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Thanks for your thoughtfulness and wisdom in correcting the stupid ideas.  Whatever would I do without you?

Bucharest ain't Ramadi.  And Ceaucescu never tried to peddle VX to Al Qaeda, either.

DeltaBravo said...

Ummm... maybe because the Africans didn't have a slew of scientists working on chemical and biological weapons and nuke facilities?  And they don't have a leader who was paying terrorists $25k a pop to go blow themselves up in Israeli pizza parlors, for starters.

DeltaBravo said...

Awww, lighten up, Skippy!

Skippy-san said...

Neither did Iraq.-But hey-believe the lies you want to. I visited the military museum in Bucharest. It has a memorial to the 1000+ folks who lost their lives in the revolution.. We never saw fit to invade  there. Which kind of gets to the real point doesn't it? Iraq was a war of choice that wasted 4419 lives of American serviceman for no good cause. That is my beef with the Iraq war and will remains the reason why I despise George Bush. His decision to to the Iraqi war when he did-and his acceptance of the lies of Rumsfeld and others that we did not have to go in large, is a crime of great proportions. Less Americans would have suffered if we had followed the war plan set out before it was modified-assuming there was even a need to go in in the first place. The architechts of that ( Including the "teflon general") deserve to be held to account for that mistake.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span>Right.  The lies.  Where'd the 500 tons of yellowcake come from?  And the hundreds of warheads and projectiles?  Including some dozens of BM-21 warheads taken from unknown bunkers and found with the agent recently removed?  Or the sarin projectiles used as IEDs?  
 
And the mass graves?  Are they lies too?  
 
You are wearing the tape out, skippy.</span>

ewok40k said...

One thing is US didnt intervene in the defence of freedom in 1956 in Hungary etc. - but one must take into account the risk of confrontation with the Soviet Union of the time... Another thing is when US saw weak and crippled Saddam, bereft of allies, it decided it is occasion to rid the world of him. Sometimes good things are done for wrong reasons (and vice versa!)

C-dore 14 said...

Skippy-san, Just be glad you're in Bucharest during the summer and not in January.  BTW, did they ever get around to setting up the exhibit at the Military Museum for the years between 1945-1989?  They were conspicuously missing during my visit there in '94.

Anonymous said...

No, a trillion bucks (borrowed largely from the Red Chinese, no less) and thousands of dead GI's was NOT worth it. Saddam was a neutered dog after Gulf I. The no-fly zones WORKED, kept him contained.  The WMD card was at best a red herring. Ahmedinejad is a LOT closer and we've done nothing but bluster.

The invasion of Iraq was perhaps the most profound malinvestment of military assets we've ever done.  And it  is way too early to see if anything "worked" yet.

Iraq as a nation state is the last surviving fiction of the Treaty of Versailles - it is doubtful if it can survive as a viable entity - The emboldened Kurds threaten the stability of not only Iraq, but Turkey, Iran and possibly Syria.  Iran itself is now a potential regional hegemon, a situation unthinkable when Iraq was a creditable counterweight.

Jay said...

"Victory"? Hmmmmm....still way too early for even approaching that term. We won't really know for at least ten years if this wasn't one of our worst foreign blunders. Not looking too good currently re: their internal politics, and I remain unconvinced that Saddam was a threat to anyone but his own people. The folks who tick off a list of the "threats" that Saddam supposedly posed should have been clamoring for us to invade North Korea...but, I guess that wouldn't be as easy...

I hope not, but suspect that Iraq may be seen in the future as a side show that hurt us more in A'stan than anywhere else. Blah.

Redeye80 said...

So, do you despise Clinton?  He was heading that direction until the polls wouldn't support it but then he was busy with Monica.  Yeah, that's right I remember everyone was saying he was going to do something Presidental.  Yeah, shoot some missles and launch airstrikes, putting people at risk to take the heat off his whoring ways.

Oh, and I guess Blick and Ritter were lying as well. 

And as far as Africa, check with Miss Albright on that.  I believe she thought the world centered around Serbia while millions died in Africa.  Ask her!

cdrsalamander said...

Ummm ... no Jay.  Read the OPLAN for IRQ - I have.  Redefine victory if you want because you don't like the definition, but we have it anyway.  It is up to IRQ to blow it - but our job is done.

As for AFG - you don't know what you are talking about.  The problems with AFG was that NATO said they had it and could handle it - and they couldn't.  Our problem was trying to work too much with the international community.

-1.

Southern Air Pirate said...

N. Korea is almost like Iraq except for a couple of things.

First off N. Korea has a very big brother name People's Republic Of China. They really aren't completely allied with North Korea, but they also don't want to see the apple cart (re status quo) upset to either side (that is another war on the Korean Pennusila or the reunification of the Korean Pennusila in any way shape or form.
Second of all unlike Iraq under Saddam and what seems have been proven by the most recent crash of a NORK MiG into PRC, North Korea is really a tumble away from either collasping under its own internal weight or having it own version of a communist coup by one of the outside players. North Korea is broke economically and if the video that was recently leaked on Youtube from a Japanese News crew is true, the people are starving.

Iraq on the other hand under the Saddam family was given a chance to spend money from its oil fields to first pay off the debts to the Kingdoms of Kuwati and Saudi Arabia. Then was supposed to use that money for exchange on the open market and under UN supervision to buy food/medical supplies for the peoples. As was recently shown in the investigation by both the media and the UN itself, that program was corrupted. On top of that most of that money was skimmed off to either rebuild the various homes or "I Love Saddam" statues around the country. Some of the money was skimmed off to purchase replacement weapons or upgrades to weapons in case war would come again. No where in the previous ten years did Saddam even attempt to rebuild any of the damage or destroyed infrastructure in his country. So they weren't entirely broke, just made so by the corruption.
Even though most of the European powers were against us in the UN, Iraq really didn't have a strong ally warning the UN off from any action. Even more so most everyone in the region admitted under thier breath or after a few cocktails at any sort of get together that Iraq would be better off without Saddam in charge. The hard part was trying to figure out the players in the region who would want as their replacement for Saddam. On one side you have the Khomeni folks over that would want to see a theocracy in the form of Iran created, on another you have most everyone south of the Iraqi-Saudi border want anything but Saddam and a crazy theocracy, and finally you have about twenty different tribes just in Iraq that want to live out thier lives thier own way but not with thier neighbors near them sort of like Lebanon.

ewok40k said...

also Saddam didnt have nukes ready... NK is a literally time bmb ticking now, and one measured in kilotons...

Navy Suppo said...

I never understood why GHB didn't state removing those two as a stated major objective of the entire operation...especially the one that tortured the Iraqi soccer players.  Ensuring that he never ruled over Iraq in of itself was close enough to legitimize the Iraqi operation, minus the bogus WMD fiasco. 

Skippy-san said...

They have an exhibit about the military during the communist era. Interestingly though-in their discussion of WWII they make no mention of Romania switching sides and why. They just show them from attacking Russians to attacking Germans. Its kind of the same way with the exhibits about the revolution-plenty of pictures, no discussion. In Romanian or English.

cdrsalamander said...

... and they sure won't discuss that it was the inability of the Romanians to fight that resulted in the Germans being surrounded at Stalingrad.

Amazing mistake of Germany.  In a desire to make it all seem "international" they had their flanks at Stalingrad secured by Romanians and Italians.  No wonder the Red Army cut through them with so little effort.

Outlaw Mike said...

CDR, I am willing to disagree. I don't actually recall there being important Italian units in that theatre by late 42, but there were, IIRC, two Romanian armies (3rd and 4th?). The Germans SUGGESTED the Romanians "break them up" and insert them in a corset of German units. They didn't want to push the idea through too hard though for political reasons, since it would seriously embarrass their ally.

Or, how when politics interferes with the military it's usually for the worse.

Even so, after the whole German front collapsed, Von Manstein came very close to lifting the siege during Operation Wintergewitter. At some point around Xmas, German soldiers in the south part of the Stalingrad perimeter could see the flashes of the artillery gunfights. If Von Paulus had had the guts, he would have broken out towards Von Manstein. He did not dare, and the result was the annihilation of 6th Army.