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Iraq & Al Qaeda Sittin' In A Tree...
"K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes Doug, then comes marriage..." (Sorry, but somebody had better tell Doug Feith that we aren't buying his latest fairy tale, either.)

Somebody (a Feith/administration sympathizer, I suspect) sent me his whine for legitimacy (i.e. op-ed from the Washington Post explaining himself, starting with a one of those hippie chants -- "Bush Lied, People Died" -- that call to mind Cindy Sheehan in need of deodorant on some dusty road in Crawford). Actually, come to think of it, it's more like, "Feith Lied, Then Bush Lied, Then People Died."

The theory that Iraq and the terrorists were all smoochy before we got there is just crap, despite Feith's administration-pleasing fairy tale that suggested Iraq and Al Qaeda were spending all their free time spooning before we laid waste to the place:

In evaluating our policy toward Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001, my office realized that CIA analysts were suppressing some of their information. They excluded reports conflicting with their favored theory: that the secular Iraqi Baathist regime would not cooperate with al-Qaeda jihadists. (We now face a strategic alliance of jihadists and former Baathists in Iraq.)

Yeah, dude...thanks to our invasion of the place.

Posted by aalkon at February 15, 2007 9:11 AM

Comments

You're almost ready to say things looked better under Saddam.

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 8:34 AM

They looked a lot better for us. I'm against invading sovereign nations that have not attacked us simply because they're ruled by horrible dictators. It clearly was not the right answer. George Bush should have stuck to his promise: "No nation building." I like that thinking. Meanwhile, we're stuck buiding Iraq up from rubble, in the middle of about a civil war. Genius. Where was Bush during Vietnam? Oh...right.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 15, 2007 9:06 AM

> It clearly was not the right answer.

So things were going to be great in Baghdad in 2007 if only...

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 9:25 AM

I'm against invading sovereign nations that have not attacked us simply because they're ruled by horrible dictators.

Then I can only presume you were against our interventions in Somalia? You know, the one Bin Laden got this crazy idea that we would walk away from a fight?

And Bosnia too. And Grenada, Panama, Korea, Iraq (1991), Viet Nam, Korea, Germany (WWII), Germany (WWI), Spain, England...

You get the idea.

What is in Iraq is not a civil war, but a 1100 year old feud that Saddam kept a lid on by simply killing everyone involved.

Certainly a better solution, eh?

Posted by: brian at February 15, 2007 9:38 AM

I'll say it:

The thing, Crid, is that most of us didn't care what was going on in Baghdad back then, or would have been going on now, if the regime didn't threaten us. And it didn't (IMO), despite all the hype. If we hadn't invaded, conditions might still suck there, might even have been worse. But we wouldn't have owned the mess.

So things were going to be great in Baghdad in 2007 if only...

Nothing. There is no circumstance under which things could be great in Badhdad. I think, ever. Iraq was an is fundamentally unfixable (see Brian's comment above).

Call me a cynic. I can take it.

Posted by: justin case at February 15, 2007 10:16 AM

> if the regime didn't threaten us

The first or second best pool of oil, depending on who counts. And corruption of the UN and other international authorities on an unprecedented scale (o.f.f.). Coddling of international terrorists, wars of annihilation with neighbor states, rejection of inspection teams, nuke weapons purchases from the Dear Leader and so forth... Yes, he was a threat.

> But we wouldn't have owned the mess.

Up to our eyeballs. You're not cynical enough! This has always been ours to fix. Were you counting on the Fins, the Indonesians, or Tongo?

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 10:28 AM

Hey, Crid, busy today, so I'm letting Justin and Brian smack you around on this one, but
- There were no nuke purchases. If you have evidence of any, Tony Snow wants to talk with you, pronto.
- Saddam didn't reject the inspection teams, Bush pulled them out in '03, when they were saying, nope, no WMD's here.
- If evil dictator situations are ours to fix, as the 'Fins' (sic) won't do it, please list all the other dictators, next in line, you're willing to go to war with.

Finns kick ass. Gary Brechter has a great article on how they whupped Russki ass at exile.ru.

Posted by: Cat brother at February 15, 2007 10:46 AM

Up to our eyeballs. You're not cynical enough! This has always been ours to fix. Were you counting on the Fins, the Indonesians, or Tongo?

None of the above. It's unfixable, I think (in fact, this can be applied to pretty much the whole damn region). I don't think I'm unique in this... in fact, I think this was the premise of our pre-GWB policies with regard to the middle east. I know you really don't like them Crid, but I think people like James Baker, and Bush 41 had the right idea for the most part - try to keep the mess contained as much as possible, and administer a good spanking every now and again when needed. But don't try to fix things. Because only the people over there have any hope of that.

Posted by: justin case at February 15, 2007 10:50 AM

I'm with Justin. And I don't think we should be the world's policeman -- I think that's the U.N.'s job. The answer isn't taking over when the U.N. doesn't do its job, but throwing our muscle in there and fixing what's broken.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 15, 2007 10:54 AM

You're ostriches... You're DREAMING ostriches.

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 11:00 AM

- There were no nuke purchases.

We arrived at the right hour, you're saying.

- Saddam didn't reject the inspection teams

By late Feb' 2003 he was begging for their return, but his failed hospitality and intransigence to international authority was then beyond dispute.

- If evil dictator situations are ours

This one certainly was; Our mobster, sitting on top of a globally precious resource. Amy used to do that "policeman" shit too, but it hasn't sold in many years.

> Finns kick ass.

You wanna count on 'em?

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 11:08 AM

You're ostriches... You're DREAMING ostriches.

I could be. I've been wrong before. But oil was cheaper, we weren't losing troops on a daily basis, and we weren't throwing billions and billions of our future tax dollars at a bunch of people who pretty much still hate us. I just can't see how the old status quo of CIA meddling and occasional military campaigns could have possibly done worse by us vis-a-vis Iraq.

Posted by: justin case at February 15, 2007 11:21 AM

I too enjoyed the afternoon of Sept. 10.

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 11:23 AM

And:

> I think that's the U.N.'s job.

Amy! Amy. What do you think that place is about? I'm not asking what you HOPE it's for, what do you think it's for?

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 11:27 AM

I too enjoyed the afternoon of Sept. 10.

Right, right. I have a pre-September 11 mentality.

But I just don't see that that changed everything and somehow turned Saddam into an Islamic terrorist. Oh, that's because it didn't. The only thing that really connects the two is the grand sense that we were attacked because of problems that have festered for millenia, and Iraq was a convenient starting point for the laughable reverse-domino-theory ideas of folks like Feith and Wolfowitz and the people at National Review and all. This is too weak a connection upon which to start a war.

Posted by: justin case at February 15, 2007 12:08 PM

You're ostriches... You're DREAMING ostriches.

I don't deny there's a serious problem afoot -- in fact, I think I scream warnings about it almost daily -- but I think our "solution" was anything but.

Working to reform the U.N. is what I'm talking about.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 15, 2007 12:10 PM

> is the grand sense that we were attacked
> because of problems that have festered
> for millenia

I'd call it a recognition that decades of Kissingerian manipulation of bogus regents and syphilitic dictators was no longer furthering our interests.

> This is too weak a connection

Saddam was worth defeating on his own accord. Gore and Hilary used to make that case.

I hate the war too! Two questions: (A) What would have happened anyway? (B) What did you want?

The UN has no responsibilities because it has no accountability. It exists to make dictators and dreamy teenage girls feel good, and should be disbanded and replaced with an alliance of capitalist democracies.

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 12:39 PM

Everytime some corksucker pops off about Saddam not being a threat, I think of the pilot patrolling the No-Fly zone with a radar lock warbling in his ears. That means a SAM is trying to fly up your ass.

When did the American Left become the party of isolationism, except for passing out rubbers and taxpayer paid abortions? It began somewhere around when McNamara shit himself in public.

Good comments Crid. You're on target. Keep firing.

Posted by: Casca at February 15, 2007 12:53 PM

BTW, the UN was a simple post WWII mechanism for gathering the world's tinpot shitheads in one place where we could bring them into our orbit by one of the more traditional methods. Much more effective than trying to do it in their dirtworld holes. Anyone who thinks it is something more than a den of theives is a 14kt fool.

Posted by: Casca at February 15, 2007 12:58 PM

We should withdraw from the UN. It only gives legitimacy to the worse regimes. There can be no reform.

Posted by: Jon at February 15, 2007 1:09 PM

You know, my mom recently commented that she'd like to see the people in charge bring back Kissinger to work on the Middle East situation... she said Condi, as a woman, had no chance of being credible with folks there. Just an aside. Not that I long for a return to Nixon's crew.

Crid, regarding your questions A) and B), I think I've answered them above.

It's not that there wasn't a case to get rid of Saddam. There was. The guy sucked. But the reality is that we have limited resources, politically, financially, and militarily, and we've got too many of them invested in a shit hole that can't be fixed. Not by us. Probably not at all.

Rather than grand schemes of remaking the world, we should just be focused on killing the people we need to kill over there, because the war in Iraq hasn't done a very good job of it. Let 'em have their civil war, because they really really want it.

Posted by: justin case at February 15, 2007 1:17 PM

Justin, you're missing what's going on here. We're not trying to "nation-build" except to the extent it is a tactic in our regional strategy. Leaving a vacuum will only create a pre-war Afghanistan with oil. So, we have no choice but to stick around until we end up with something we can live with. When we have that we'll leave.

Posted by: Casca at February 15, 2007 1:39 PM

Personally, I wouldn't want to leave Iraq either. What I would like to see is US forces move to establish an independent Kurdistan in the northern part of Iraq. Pull out our forces from Baghdad, Sunni Triangle and Shiite controlled areas. Replace it with a UN-Muslim lead peace keeping force. Actively negotiate with the various insurgent factions and isolate the Al-Qaeda in Iraq groups. It won't stop the bombings, but reduce them. Also, no more US forces as a target between sectarian violence, because the Kurdish security measures are quite effective in controlling their borders.

An independent Kurdistan will assist in de-stabilizing the current regime in Iran. How? Kurds in Iran and other non-Persian ethnicities. It will embolden the Iranian Kurds and help put some muscle into the reformers to de-stabilize the regime. Bush's pressure and I stress pressure is working up to a moment. There is talk among the higher religious mullahs that they are losing faith in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policies. Also, Iran doesn't want a Sunni-backed Al-Qaeda state as a neighbor. It would be a start.

I'm shocked! I actually agree with Casca on the UN. It is an outdated WWII entity. The whole one nation, one vote is a dangerous concept. Other international organizations are going to be needed to replace the UN's authority.

My personal favorite would be NATO. Also, a 'NATO' version for the Pacific rim nations. Does SEATO still exist??? The world is going to need a North Atlantic and Pacific Alliance against Islamic extremism. China is having problems with Muslim separatists violence in their rural provinces. Bombings and shootings at various official government offices in these rural provinces. You won't read about it through the party controlled media organizations. There have been articles published in Russian media sites in the cities that share close borders with these Chinese provinces.

Posted by: Joe at February 15, 2007 2:18 PM

An excellent article on the efficiency of Kurdish security forces:

http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2370231&printthis=1

Posted by: Joe at February 15, 2007 2:42 PM

Casca, it would be a good thing if we could leave Iraq in a state we could live with. I don't think it's going to happen. But it would be a good thing. I think that in a couple of years, the next President (if not named McCain, or possibly, Giuliani) will make a grand speech about how the Iraqi people had a choice between democracy and chaos, and chose chaos. Then we'll move what will become a semi-permanent force to an independent Kurdistan and watch as the Shia get busy slaughtering the Sunnis, and vice-versa (but to a lesser extent).

Posted by: justin case at February 15, 2007 3:13 PM

Amy - lose your hopes in the UN. The UN is an organization that coddles to dictators and murderers. The UN cannot be reformed. It must be disemboweled and Turtle Bay leveled.

Justin - your belief that Iraq is unfixable is very dangerous. If enough people get to thinking that, we end up in "final solution" territory. Of course, I think that's where we're ultimately heading since nobody wants to deal with the threat as it presently exists.

Realism as a foreign policy is anything but. It assumes that everyone is a rational actor, by western standards of rationality. You cannot negotiate with someone whose demands include "ok, you die first".

We tried the reform angle, but clearly there is something culturally about that region that prevents effective self-government.

Partitioning Iraq is certainly no way to stabilize the region. In fact, establishing an independent Kurdistan is guaranteed to invite invasion from both Iran and Turkey. If you don't think we can handle Iraq, why would you think we can handle Iran, Iraq, and Turkey simultaneously?

Posted by: brian at February 15, 2007 3:17 PM

Brian,
Here's why I think Iraq is unfixable. To fix it I think we'd need the following:

We need American leaders with the courage to say that we are going to reinstitute the draft, double or triple the number of soldiers in Iraq, keep them there for 5 or 10 years, raise taxes to pay for it all, and impose martial law on the Sunni triangle until we've found an appropriate strongman to serve as dictator of Iraq and build him enough of an army to keep the factions in Iraq at bay. I do not believe that Iraq can be a democracy, and they're proving it right now.

Until then, I believe it to be unfixable. If we stay in our present numbers, we can do just enough to keep things on a slow boil. These people seem to have unlimited determination to kill each other, no matter how stupid or short-sighted they're being.

I don't know what you mean by "final solution" territory - that we or someone will decide to exterminate the Iraqi people?

Posted by: justin case at February 15, 2007 3:43 PM

I think we have much better hope of fixing the U.N. than fixing Iraq -- especially after we broke the latter, probably beyond repair.

The problem is, the morons in charge clearly had no idea what they were getting into: "Whaddya mean, Sunni vs. Shiite? You mean they aren't all just Arabs?"

These people make the cold war look like a balmy day in August.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 15, 2007 4:05 PM

Amy - it happened again. I had two posts in a row here, and you even replied to one of them (I think), and they gone!

Between Justin's 3:43 and your 4:05

Posted by: brian at February 15, 2007 4:09 PM

> Saddam not being a threat, I
> think of the pilot patrolling
> the

Dude, Miss, you indeterminate gender-commenter you, no one on a blog (or anywhere else) will take this point, not matter how correct you are. And you're perfectly correct. People who like to be mouthy about how much of a mistake the war is can't acknolwedge that we've been killing a few folks to defend millions more for decades now, and that it's been lonely, expensive, and insanely risky duty.

> somewhere around when McNamara
> shit himself in public.

Is there a YouTube of that? Can I get a Blu-ray? VHS?

> Anyone who thinks it is something
> more than a den of theives is
> a 14kt fool.

Sing it.

> It only gives legitimacy
> to the worse regimes.

Sing it louder.

> Other international organizations
> are going to be needed to
> replace the UN's authority.

Like an angelic choir, you sing for me!

> Condi, as a woman, had no
> chance of being credible

Your mother was being a backhandedly pre-intuitive counter-feminist, with Irony Epaulets and Snark Ribbon of Sarcasm. Ain't no thing, mine does that too sometimes. If Condi were in the White House --and so far I prefer her to any candidate except maybe Richardson or Rudy-- "folks there" wouldn't have a choice about taking her seriously. She'd be the President of the United States of America, one who'd been intimately involved in the recent overthrow of two regional regimes.

> we have limited resources,

Ever thus.

> a shit hole that can't be fixed.

Inexplicably defeatest.

> Not by us.

Inappropriately humble.

> Probably not at all.

As if we had a choice.

> we should just be focused on
> killing the people we need
> to kill over there,

Do you know 'em when you see 'em?

> Let 'em have their civil war,
> because they really really
> want it.

I'm starting to agree with that.

> only create a pre-war
> Afghanistan with oil.

That too! Shit.

> and they gone!

We cured cancer here in late '03, but Windows 2000 crashed. Lena was pissed for weeks.

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 4:33 PM

Brian,

I don't see Turkey or Iran causing problems with the North Iraqi territory. An independent Kurdistan exists. It just hasn't been recognized by the World Community. Could Iran and Turkey be waiting for the establishment of a Kurdistan seat at the UN General Assembly to cause problems?

Opportunity would dictate to cause problems now, while the southern region is in havoc.

Iran should be fearful of an independent Kurdistan. But Iran is not a model of stability. US military bases in an independent Kurdistan would deter any future Iranian invasion. Will the Tehran government recruit Iranian-Kurds to start problems in an independent Kurdistan? Not likely. Turkey can be dealt with through negotiations and back door deals. Also, the northern country is very oil rich and ready for a pipeline deal.

There are no perfect fixes in diplomacy. Solutions offered here are not going to stem the violence. Just the intensity. What would be the alternative... give Wilsonian idealism another shot???

Whoever takes over on January 21, 2009 will have to figure out a way of reducing the number of US casualties without leaving the entire area. That would mean a reinforced Kurdistan. It isn't perfect, but much better option than the current policy.

Dr. George Kennan always said there are 2 things any US diplomat should believe:

1. What is best for the USA.
2. What is best for world peace. (a close second)

Always value the first principle.

The present course will violate both principles. More soldiers dying will cause Presidential and future midterm election upheavals. Causing an immediate evacuation of the entire region. Or Congress will do the same thing to Nixon's Vietnamization policy of the early 1970s. Cut the funding and military aid to South Vietnam. Anyone can say: “Well, remember what happened to Vietnam of April, 1975?” Here is a little realism. Most Americans went on with their lives when Vietnam was finally re-united. Unfortunately, at a tremendous price on both sides. Most Americans do not care about Sunnis killing Shias. The 2 worse case scenarios are the present course and the immediate evacuation of all US forces in the region.

Increased US troop presence will cause problems in the region. Also domestically with an upcoming election and following another midterm elections. Similarities to Congress interfering again in the financing of foreign policy. Damn separation of powers.

What is left? Scaled back US forces in the southern regions and reinforcing the north. Establishing semi-permanent military bases and the further training of native Kurdish forces. Creating some form of stability in the region. One region being stable is better than 3 going into a permanent state of chaos and spreading to the neighboring countries.

1. It will reduce the number of US casualties. Stemming negative public opinion within the US.
2. Aggressive diplomacy of all Iraq's neighbors in dealing with the problematic southern region. Possibly establishing a peace keeping force composed of Muslims from Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt. Begin negotiations with non Al-Qaeda insurgent groups.

It isn't perfect. Far from it.

Posted by: Joe at February 15, 2007 5:13 PM

Brian, they were actually in the Dinesh entry - you'd mistakenly titled one to Joe when you meant Justin, and you got a 500 error. I corrected the name to Justin, and erased the duplicate and the 500 error. I didn't see any here, but I'll check my junk folder. If you put in more than one link there's a good chance it'll get junked by the system. Sorry about that -- and I will look for it now.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 15, 2007 5:16 PM

Joe - Turkey has said quite bluntly that if any attempt is made by Iraqi Kurds to create an independent Kurdistan they will invade before the Kurds in Turkey even get the opportunity to think about breaking away from Turkey to join it. An independent Kurdistan leads to an almost instantaneous Turk-Kurd war. And the result is likely to be Armenia.

There are very few nations in the middle east that we can negotiate with, and none of them are armed. The only ones that matter are Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Syria. Egypt isn't going to get involved in anything, and the others are openly hostile to the idea of regional peace.


Amy - you are wonderful. Thanks.

Posted by: brian at February 15, 2007 5:45 PM

Brian,

First rule in understanding UN Peace keeping forces is they do not keep the peace. They are licensed hostages. That is it. Do a routine patrol and then hide in their fortified bases. Purely symbolic gestures. Diplomacy is full of them. My suggestion is one too.

Dr. Kennan always said keep your options open. Always. Avoid 'nevers' in the world of diplomacy. If someone told me Arafat would win the Nobel Peace prize during the late 1980s, I would have laughed in their faces. Yasser Arafat? PLO Leader Arafat?

Would you have disputed the notion of Nixon going to China? Reagan starting nuclear missile disarmament talks with Gorbechev? Libya opening to the West? Trust me, there are very few options left for the current and future POTUS in dealing with the current situation in Iraq.

Like I said before, an independent Kurdistan already exists. It just doesn't have U.N. recognition. International embassies.

What is stopping Turkey from invading the territory now? Causing problems with its borders? Do you honestly believe Turkey will invade a semi-autonomous Kurdish state with US military bases present? US soldiers patrolling the area? The boys from Ankara can be dealt with through diplomacy and back room deals. Even keeping their Kurdish areas under control as a compromise.

Did Turkey freak out over an independent Armenia after the fall of the Soviet Union? There is still unfinished business between Armenia and Turkey over the Kars, Ardahan, and Iğdır provinces. Hmmm, anyone up for some bozbaş? I’m buying.

Perhaps NATO, CIS and the UN could re-create another version of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for Turkey and a semi-autonomous Kurdistan? Similar to the one keeping the peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1994.

Like I said before, nothing is perfect. Just throwing as many alternatives to the current policy.

Posted by: Joe at February 15, 2007 6:39 PM

I meant:

Someone told me in the late 1980s. Not (as in winning one) in the late 1980s.

Posted by: Joe at February 15, 2007 7:17 PM

I like you. You seem to realize that were about to break some promises.

Posted by: Crid at February 15, 2007 7:23 PM

Don't be confused about the UN. It is a useful tool for us to reach into the power structure of every political nook and cranny of this world. The old fashioned way, baksheesh, oof, the old quid pro quo. One needs a way to influence events, if one cares about the outcomes. The problem with the UN is that there are boobs in this world, and on this blog, who think that it is something else.

Posted by: Casca at February 15, 2007 10:06 PM

> a useful tool for us to reach
> into the power structure of
> every political nook and cranny

'Splain.

Posted by: Crid at February 16, 2007 6:09 AM

NYC is a fleshpot, and the UN is 24/7 party. Being posted as your dirt-world country's rep is a financial plum for almost everyone at the UN. The people who are there, are there because they are in favor with the headman back home, and to be bought. We have a big wallet. If they return home, they'll probably remain in the power structure, and knocking on our resident agent's door for cash. This is how we maintain access. When we want something to happen, we say so. Why do you think the CIA has such a large presence in NYC?

Posted by: Casca at February 16, 2007 8:23 AM

Big thick cloud for such a skinny silver lining. It's still to much hypocracy to tolerate... The teenage We-Are-The-World types take it seriously!

Posted by: Crid at February 16, 2007 2:12 PM

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