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November 27, 2006

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Minikatz,

Turkey could get involved with the Kurds if things start to deteriorate. They have problems with their Kurdish population and don't want a Kurdish state on their border.

The other thing if you have noticed is the reports of all the people leaving Iraq, or leaving the cities for their originating tribal areas. Something like 100,000 a month currently by one estimate.

This helps explain that erronous estimate in Lancet about the 1/3 million "excess since the war" civilian deaths due to the war, and a new estimate supposed to be published that has the number at 2/3 million.
See:
http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2006/10/11/new-lancet-study-425000-790000-excess-iraqi-deaths-since-we-invaded/

I have heard just recently from over there that most of the knowledgeable people are dispirited and worried that the US is going to leave and a bloodbath even worse than what is going on now is going to ensue. Terrifed might be a better word.

Oh God what have we done?

The latest exercise in magical thinking on the part of the Bush Administration involves what we call the situation in Iraq.

Heh — this is how they've done everything from the beginning. Redefine things in language that suits the moment ("Mission Accomplished"), then move the goalposts when reality catches up to them.

This idiot "president" and his moronic cadre are living examples of why deniers of fact are so very dangerous, whether they're teaching "Intelligent Design", lying to teens about abstinence or running the nation into the ground.

Will Maliki just tell [Bush] what he wants to hear, like everyone else?

Whatever Maliki says, Bush will hear only what he wants to hear.

William Arkin notes today that the situation in Iraq does not meet the military's five, fairly precise criteria for a civil war, but that it is actually worse, because in a civil war there are "sides" to deal with. He identifies the problem as an absence of order, security and functioning government, a vacuum into which groups of all kinds have stepped, ethnic, tribal, religious, the purely self-interested; and everyone is fighting everyone. He has, for a long time, believed that there is nothing that we can do in Iraq that outweighs the downside in our staying there. We can't win, we can't impose order, at this point we can hardly protect our own people.

The paper this morning speculated that Maliki will ask Bush for a timetable for withdrawal of our troops. That would be the best outcome of their meeting, although Bush may not see that it is the best way out for him. Iraqi self-determination!

Indeed, Jodi--we have made a terrible mess of this, and everyone who didn't oppose the war and in some way try to make their voice heard bears the responsibility. It may sometimes be necessary to use military force to prevent a greater evil (Kosovo comes to mind for me), but no country should ever, ever so cavalierly and ignorantly resort to the use of force and invade another sovereign state, no matter how odious its government, and no matter how responsible it was for supporting that government, as we did with Saddam in the 1980's.

Bush vows to keep forces in Iraq

RIGA, Latvia - The United States will not withdraw its forces from Iraq before its mission of building a stable democracy is complete, President Bush said Tuesday.

“There is one thing I’m not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete,” Bush said in a keynote speech at the University of Latvia just before a summit of the NATO defence alliance.

Nothing new here. Bush's ego does not allow him to admit a collossal blunder nor accept responsibility and change course. While the twins are partying in Buenos Aires, US soldiers and marines shed blood and thousands of Iraqis are victims to anarchy. What a paragon of morality we have in our dear President.

“There is one thing I’m not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete,”

In other words, they will be there forever, or at least until he can dump this mess in the lap of the next President.

According to this report Bush didn't say that our mission was building a stable democracy--the AP said so. He did speak of freedom and liberty in a general sort of way, as is his wont, but didn't say "democracy." Here's the key paragraph:

Tomorrow, I'm going to travel to Jordan where I will meet with the Prime Minister of Iraq. We will discuss the situation on the ground in his country, our ongoing efforts to transfer more responsibility to the Iraqi Security Forces, and the responsibility of other nations in the region to support the security and stability of Iraq. We'll continue to be flexible, and we'll make the changes necessary to succeed. But there's one thing I'm not going to do: I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete.
And here's an interesting take on what the Baker-Hamilton Commission is likely to recommend (international conference) with a thorough analysis of what such a conference would entail and how difficult it would be to pull off, without a reality-based President who sincerely wanted peace in the region and was willing to use political capital to prevail on the Israelis to attend and negotiate seriously. With someone who lives in his own bubble like Bush, it looks nearly impossible. but this correspondent thinks (as I said) that this is likely to be the centerpiece of the recommendations because it is what the group is most behind, regardless of what Bush wants.

The Baker-Hamilton group would be doing a great service if they would just come out and say "We talked to a bunch of smart people who know the region, looked at many options, and there is really no good option left. There is no way the US can militarily bring stability to Iraq. We have to try something else. It is immoral to leave our troops exposed to risk of death and mayhem when there is no credible mission for them to perform."

Right on Mimikatz.

Do you believe that George W. Bush would care what Baker-Hamilton recommends? Or for that matter what the American public by an overwhelming margin want. I don't believe its in his DNA to accept that he f***k'd up big time and make amends. Unfortunately for us and the Iraqis he is going to be C-in-C for the next 2 years unless Congress overcomes partisanship and beltway political conventional wisdom and impeaches him and Cheney.

Now look how desperate these guys have become:

Specifically, the United States wants Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt to work to drive a wedge between the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has been behind many of the Shiite reprisal attacks in Iraq, a senior administration official said. That would require getting the predominantly Sunni Arab nations to work to get moderate Sunni Iraqis to support Mr. Maliki, a Shiite. That would theoretically give Mr. Maliki the political strength necessary to take on Mr. Sadr’s Shiite militias.

Are all these spins going to work out? Looks like "hail mary" passes with no receiver down field. How can we tolerate such obduracy in the face of facts and the lives of our volunteer force?

I don't trust James Baker. We all know there is no good solution. So what will the Bush family fix it man do. Pick the best move politically. I've heard rumors that he will recommend MORE troops. If there is any truth to that, it sets a nice catch 22 for the Dems, if they resist hard enough, Bush and co. will say, "Gee we could have won if the Dems would have listened to Baker". If the Dems go along with it, and it fails (which it will) Then Bush and co will say "Well the Dems approved it, this was on their watch". I'm not sure the public will buy it but the talking heads on neocon radio will spinn it from the tallest trees. I'm truly interested in what The Baker Comm. has to say, but I'm more than half expecting a carefully designed catch 22.

Dismayed, the problem with the send-more-troops theme is that the 20,000 to 40,000 likely to be recommended won't be nearly enough even to put window-dressing on any new plan. And the 200,000 that might have helped do a better job if they had been sent in 2003 just aren't available without the draft, and that ain't gonna happen short of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

My guess is that if the Baker Commission suggests more troops, it will present the point of view that these must be sent to train Iraqis to fight for themselves - so it'll back the idea of embedding a company of Americans in every Iraqi brigade, or something similar. This might normally be a good idea. Under the current circumstances, however, it'll be just as disastrous as every other step the Administration has taken in this war and occupation, with large numbers of Iraqis learning firsthand how best to fight asymetrically and getting their hands on some good equipment to do it with.

I thank you for your comment.

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