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January 28, 2007



Shorter version: Why should we believe Bush and Cheney's doomsday scenarios when they have been wrong about evrything else regarding Iraq?

The argument that leaving is worse than staying actuates my Baloney Detection, under the category, "Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric"...

"Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an "unfavourable" decision)."

Anyone who doesn't believe it's getting worse with us staying and ratcheting up, check here, and check the latest on the kidnapping of the 4 GIs in Karbala.

Laura Rozen's Karbala update...
The attackers captured four soldiers and fled with them and the computer east toward Mahawil in Babil province, crossing the Euphrates River, the U.S. military officials said.


Be afraid, America. Be afraid. If we leave, the crazies in the middle east will come and kill your babies. They'll eat their heads. They'll get us. They'll get us ALL! --- Same old fear mongering. Selling fear, only now they don't even have to manufacture evidence to sell it. They just sell the conjecture of fear. There is simply no credible argument for continueing this. It will be a cold day in hell before I vote for a Democrat that supports this war. Hillary can kiss my thin white butt.

``That does not mean that I don't and everyone else doesn't want to win in Iraq.''

Count me out of ``everyone else''. What would ``victory'' mean, and why would that be a good thing?

Very well argued, Mimi, thank you.

Well, I'll list some of the potential problems just so we have all the hot peppers on the same table.

Kurds. We know they want an independent state relatively free of minorities. The Kurds in Northern Iraq are pretty much evenly divided into two tribally based political groupings, with the PKK being tribally and linguisticly related to the Kurds in E. Turkey. The Turkish PKK wants independence or some sort of atonomy from Turkey -- something strongly opposed by the Sunni lite Islamic Government in Turkey. The Kurds in Iraq want to exile the Turkomen (related to Turkmenostan), and they are "hated" because they 1) live in the oil city of Kirkuck, and 2) were a remnant of the Ottoman rulers pre-WWI. Other Kurdish communities live in NW Iran and Northern Syria.

All three neighboring countries, Iran, Syria and Turkey fear what would happen internally should the Iraqi Kurds become essentially independent. It isn't so much that they cannot cut a deal with the current Kurdish Government, what they fear is internal disorder and demands for automy, independence, or joining up lands with Iraqi Kurdish lands. Bush's stubborn refusal to talk with Syria and Iran more or less make a regional negotiation impossible. Self interest suggests that without negotiations, Iran, Turkey and Syria will act to protect their territory and suppress their kurds, and perhaps attack the Iraqi Kurds. Peter Galbreith (whom I tend to respect) believes with negotiation one could create an independent or quasi independent Kurdishstan in Iraq only -- but negotiate some sort of common market sort of arrangement among Kurdish communities in the other states, that would improve living standards all around -- but that could only happen with regional negotiations. The Iraqi Kurds would be a majority, in control of a significant pot of oil, but they would have to guarentee human and economic rights to the Turkmen and Arab minority. The Arab League would probably totally oppose such an arrangement. The social structure of Syria, Iran and Turkey oppress their Kurdish minorities, (In Turkey and Syria the term Kurd is illegal or frowned upon, the term used is "Mountain Turks".) If they were to get somewhat more wealthy through relations with Kurdistan Iraq -- that would destabalize class relationships in all three countries. The PKK (which was essentially a Marxist Party and still is to some extent) has a huge dispora in Europe with all the complications that introduces. As Galbreith points out, the shape of the compromises that might make this work are clear -- but with Bush totally opposed to regional discussions, it will likely become a many sided regional war. The question is can Congress force this before it is too late -- If Bush attacks Iran I think the chance would be totally lost.

(Minnesota Public Radio just announced that the B-1 Bombers stationed in South Dakota's Ellisworth Base have already left for an undisclosed location. The crews and maintence units left today. Announced about 6PM CST).

Now to the Shia in central and southern Iraq. Hopefully by now people have sorted out how ununified this population really is. The Tribal, Clan and I would add class divisions are vast, deep, reach way back into ancient history. The Shia have virtually no history of governing over the past 500 or so years -- the Ottoman were there 400 years and ruled by the Millet system (essentially a form of tax farming) The Brits, faced with a Shea tribal revolt, (early 20's) created a Sunni national government under a foreign King, and after the overthrow of the monarchy Sunni pan arabists have led all the governments. The near total elimination of the Sunni from power in Iraq will never be accepted by the rest of the regional Sunni World, let alone Iraqi Sunni. The current Shia government will never make a negotiated settlement in this direction -- unless forced to by their patron, Iran. And the only way that will happen would be through regional agreements -- unless of course Bush plans to do this by militarily forcing the case with Iran -- which I think will fail.

Perry of the Iraq Study Group has an interesting Commonwealth Club speech on Iraq (available on the Minnesota Public Radio Website) The only hopeful thing he has to say is he thinks Congress will say no dice on extending the war to Iran without explicit Congressional Action, and he suspects bi-partisian support is there if properly led to do this, and also to send Bush a strongly worded advisory resolution on the surge. (They better hurry!!!)

Your post has some excellent points. Here's some additional data:

The Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more that 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years.

What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank's emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can't figure out how he got his superior's permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.


The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon's own arrogance. It will implode by it's own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting on this blog entitled, "Odyssey of Armaments"


On the same subject, you may also be interested in the following sites from the "Project On Government Oversight", observing it's 25th Anniversary and "Defense In the National Interest", insired by Franklin Spinney and contributed to by active/reserve, former, or retired military personnel.



Look, the only way that we can achieve a meaningful "victory," in the sense that the fighting is over and all of our enemies have either died or surrendered, is to remove all of our troops, all our allies' troops, and then nuke everything within a 5000-mile radius of Riyadh. Turn the entirety of the Middle East into a wasteland of nuclear glass. It's not the land that's the problem, it's the people living on it... and we have to kill ALLLLLLLLL of them if we really want the fighting to stop.

Since there is no political support to do what's necessary to achieve "victory," we won't do it. So who cares what happens when we pull out? No matter what, our government blew whatever chance we Americans had to lay claim to the oil under all of that sand. And no matter what anyone says, the oil is the only reason we picked this fight in the first place.

So whether the Euros or the Russians or the Chinese or the House of Saud are the ones who ultimately gain the most control over the oil in Iraq and Iran, what's painfully clear now is that it won't be us.

The really damning thing about this whole exercise in treason and deceipt is that for the trillion dollars we've already spent, we probably could have bought Saddam Hussein's government outright. We could have sent Rummy over there with a couple of suitcases full of money, talked Saddam into creating an American client state "democracy," and allowed ChevronTexaco to start major extraction operations. Hell, we probably could have bought them outright for half of what we're spending to ultimately not get drilling rights via this failed military operation.

What would happen if we left Iraq. Nothing. The civil war would continue, it would eventually wind down, and life would somehow get back to normal. It did in Vietnam.

Sara - a couple of addenda to your points. The Ottoman millet system was more than just tax farming; it was a sophisticated strategy of imperial rule. In a nutshell (IIRC), the Ottomans co-opted the elites of various ethnic or religious communities and ruled through them. So, for example, the Greek Orthodox patriarch mediated for Greeks, other patriarchs for other Christian sects, local sheihks for their tribes and communities, and so on.

It was a highly effective system - the Ottomans didn't rule an empire for 500 years by acting like neocons. The co-opted elites had every incentive to keep order, and for ordinary subjects it meant they usually dealt with their co-sectarians, who had some understanding and affinity for them, rather than having to deal directly with alien Ottoman officials.

The underlying historical tragedy, which we have exacerbated in Iraq, is that the Ottoman system was completely at right angles, so to speak, with the whole concept of the national state. Communities that lived side by side fairly peacefully (at least partly, to be sure, for fear of the Janissaries) have been left to struggle for supremacy over "countries" artificially carved out of former Ottoman provinces.

You can see how clever our brilliant plan for Iraq was in the context of its Ottoman past.

As for what will happen when we leave, I think people way underestimate the Iraqi (Arab) Sunnis. They are shrewd and tough - as we have learned to our cost - and include most of the pre-invasion elite, so they have education, organization, and resources. The Shia outnumber them 3 to 1, but I don't see it as any sort of done deal that the Shia will prevail once we leave. More likely the Shia, whose militias are not well-organized, will find themselves very hard pressed. So they will yell for the Iranians to bail them out.

If the Iranians intervene, they will enjoy all the delights of occupying Iraq that we have been experiencing. Ahmadinejad might be tempted - he seems like a somewhat smarter George Bush - but the real power brokers in Iran probably won't be. These are after all the people who invented chess. Most likely they will decide they have to talk turkey with the Turks, who you really don't want to mess with - they lost their empire, but they haven't lost their smarts or ruthless toughness.

Alternatively, things could get really ugly ... but like they aren't already? That is the delusionality of Beltway culture - everyone, even most of the good guys, still talk about how "if" we fail things will go to hell in a handbasket, when in the world of reality it's painfully obvious that we have already failed and the handbasket is already halfway there.

Ken, my Dad was with the Air Force as a Civilian from shortly after it was formed into the 1960's, transferring to the Navy a few years pre-retirement. In the AF he became Assistant Chief of Procurement of R & D, at Navy, Chief. He then was a consultant to major contractors for twenty more years -- this is the culture I grew up in beginning with the War Department prior to WWII.

I suspect you are right -- it is about to hit a brick wall, sooner than expected perhaps because Rummy realized the need for reforms, but then found he had to fight wars closer to WWI trench wars than the stuff space based weapons might be targeted toward. Rummy forgot that the point is to close with the enemy, destroy him, and then make attractive peace terms. Throw in a C of C who believes if he just wishes upon a star he can make it so, and you have a rotten kettle of fish. Throw in people who thought the laws of gavity apply no longer, and you find J Garner in the Pentagon Library reading up on the 25 years George Marshall spent planning the occupation of Germany that began in late 1944, and they've decided Garner can do the trick with 2 weeks of prep, no real staff, no assets including no proper in country transport in his own name, (Read George Packer's description) and you'll discover the Hubris of the present. And oh yea, they they took off his team everyone who knew anything at all about the Arab world or Iraq. And it's in everything, and has been growing like a fungus for years. And yes, there are and have been few pols who really comprehend how it really works. They see it as pork for state and district, and look little beyond that use. There used to be some good hill staff, most of whom came out of military procurement, who understood the systems -- but most of them left in the early 80's with the Reagan build-up, and their likes were never hired again. And Jimmy Carter understood some of it, he was, afterall, mentored by Admiral Rickover and Rickover was a past master at it all. Carter simply did not know how to make it into politics that would work with Congress, his great failure.

I don't have lots of faith in whistleblowers, because they are usually narrowly focused, and this is a cultural problem of very broad dimensions. You need a couple hundred of them all blowing their whistles in harmony to catch attention in any sort of serious way, and most of them end up with narrow legal cases, instructed by counsel not to talk with each other. You can't do culture change on those terms. My Dad called it the biggest WPA boondoggle in the history of mankind. And that was in the early Reagan Period. What really pissed me off was how they took all the goodies on DARPA's pantry shelves at the end of the cold war, and literally gave the technology away to foreign corporations, meaning that turning something like GPS into civilian products went to Japan as opposed to letting American firms develop the technology into useful products. I am frankly surprised they didn't give the Japanese the Internet to develop for civilian use.

The question that you are not confronting forthrightly is this: is the mass slaughter of innocents within Iraq going to be significantly worse if we leave than if we stay?

Obviously, there are a lot of different ways to leave, and in fact I think the most important thing we have to figure out is how to do so while minimizing the possibility for genocidal or close-enough slaughter. But there seems to be an assumption here that the killing is really bad, and it will be equally bad within Iraq regardless of what we do, or at least, there's nothing to be done about it. I'm not convinced that the killing can't get a lot worse - 20 percent of the Iraqi population is about 5.2 million people - and I'm not convinced that it will be equally bad regardless of what we do. Or that we just can't do anything about it, and therefore our hands are clean and we have no particular moral responsibilities toward the Iraqis whose lives and country we've completely fucked up.

Well said, Mimikatz, in words that many people could accept. No small trick.

If I were 17, and the world around me was murder and poverty and unsolvable chaos, I would hate the invaders. I would fight them.

The diplomatic angles are fine and good. And important.

But I think that there is a basic rage, and a ready excuse/reason to explain it, that fuels tremendous violence and will never be removed until we leave. Period.

If we leave, people in Iraq will calculate. The world for them will change.

Who will win? Who will lose? All have already lost -- for a generation or two. In my view, an informal partition along ethnic lines is most likely, with violence slowly reduced as the neighbors weigh the risks of a regional war.

Thanks to all, great thread.

Very Impressive!

I've been chiding my Democratic friends (and a few office-holders) that the debate at this point should focus on what Iraq will look like AFTER WE LEAVE (as opposed to IF we leave). Further, it has occurred to me that the debate should also take into account DIPLOMACY in the Middle East as opposed to brute force...

I blogged and raved on your post at the URL above.

Thanks for the great post and the first reasonable approach to the serious problems at hand


"just so we have all the hot peppers on the same table".

Sara, me likey very much!

We are never going to be able to leave IRAQ ever, the minute we do Iran or Iraq is going to DEMOLISH each other and then who are they going to come after??? hmm??? The United States thats who, Iraq stated that we are the "Big Devil" after Operation Desert Storm and i guarntee you if we leave then well, there gonna nuke us or something.

We have three established bases there that i believe are essential to just holding out and keeping an Eye on stuff. Yes we got ourselves in to a BIG mess. But we cannot leave and i dont think sending more troops over is gonna help us at all!

Nor do i think that there ever will be peace over there...

And Iran according to Iraq is the "small Devil" and we are the big one. So if they get rid of Iran there coming for us next...we can only keep stronghold there but peace will never reign in that country

Sei - Please go away.

Dismayed please fuck off, you stupid dumbass.

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