Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Are we losing our spine?

I think we've decided to lose in Iraq.  I think it's over.

What do you think? Please convince me that I'm wrong, dude.

Heh... yeah... that really sucks... It's really pretty much Kerry's time, yet he's fucked himself up so badly that he can't steal the real show.
I mean... it's the heart of pessimism, and Kerry's pretty much pessimism incarnate...

I don't think it's all lost. The Iraqi government has had enough time to get acquainted with the difficulties of having to deal with other politicians, so I kind of agree that now is a more reasonable time to start 'weaning' them, so to speak. By weaning I mean that they need to have some fire under their feet motivating them to stop arguing over the size of their slice of pie, and instead focus on making sure that they still have a pie to cut.
I do think a lot of Iraqi politicians have not been taking their predicament seriously, and the turn-around by the Bush administration will hopefully force them to cooperate instead of fighting turf wars.

I noticed that Bush' 60-minutes interview actually did get through to my mom, lefty of lefties, hater of everything Bush. She suddenly thought that he was right that Iraq *would become* a huge threat to us if we leave it to chaos. She blamed him for it, but if only other people *suddenly* figure that out...
This near change of heart gives me some hope that with enough focus on the issue, the administration could bring people back behind the effort, and this time for the right reason.

That's the only thing in several months that's made me optimistic. I'm on board with pacifying Baghdad, but at the same time, I think we shouldn't need another 20K troops to do it. I actually do believe that other areas of Iraq are doing pretty well, and if I'm right, then we really should be able to redeploy troops within Iraq to secure Baghdad, without all other parts going to shit.
Probably would be a little more responsible to send in more troops, but if the push for more troops was staking out a position from which Bush can negotiate an extension of the commitment while abandoning the worthwhile attempt at a surge in numbers, it may be worth it.

There are also a couple other possibilities:
1) perhaps they're more ready than we know, or perhaps when faced with the reality of losing their government to brigands, they will actually step up. From this perspective it may be that we've been giving the Iraqi government *too much* support.
2) perhaps we can turn America's opinion by showing progress on US casualties.

One thing that has been a constant thorn in *my* side, is this insistence on solving Iraqi problems with US military power. If you'd asked me for a tactical plan for post-regime change Iraq, I would've built US military bases out in the desert and stationed *all* our forces there, leaving Iraqis and their government to largely fend for themselves, with limited engagement from our forces in order to pick winners, secure voting rights, and a few other important tasks.
Building stuff, reconstructing things, protecting infrastructure and people, I'd send money, but not a drop of blood from US soldiers.

My main point here is that we all *knew* that the US populace would not stomach the loss of US soldiers in exchange for Iraqi freedom or democracy. The people of the US don't care one bit how many Iraqis die, but they care quite a lot about *any* US soldier killed in action. We *all* knew this, so there's just no excuse for having the administration let our soldiers get nickeled and dimed into a total of 3,000 troops dead over four years. It's a *stupid* policy that's gotten us here. If we completely disengaged like in my model, yet still technically had a presence in Iraq, the US would support our intervention there indefinitely. And what you need when beating down an ideology like we're facing in the arab world, is a guaranty that we're a force that's going to stay. Due to US casualties, everybody in the world *knows* that this is not the case.

On the other hand, we still have that as an option. There are ways to reduce troop casualties, and if Bush was a little more responsible with his oversight of republican politics, he would've implemented the required policies in order to win these last elections, even if it meant throwing some Iraqis to the wolves.

My point here is that if we had lost 300 soldiers instead of 3,000 soldiers, there wouldn't be any question in anybody's mind about whether we're going to remain in Iraq. And in that case, we'd have much better leverage against our enemies globally.

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