OT: What should we do in Iraq?

OT: What should we do in Iraq?

Postby Tom Mazanec on Thu Dec 14, 2006 5:23 am

I know this forum gets a lot of political views. So how do we win in Iraq? Here is is country with three groups who hate each other, at least two of which (I don't know about the Kurds) follow a religion whose holy book is rife with hatred for those non-Muslim (I know Ralph can back me up on this). So what do we do? We cannot isolate ourselves from the world like the Racconans (and even they are facing the fact that theirs is a temporary solution) so that option is out.
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Postby Deckard Canine on Thu Dec 14, 2006 7:46 am

Incidentally, "I Drew This" recently had D.C. Simpson questioning what it means to "win in Iraq." (Before you get too angry at him, know that he was not saying that Republicans don't know, only that he doesn't.) So perhaps we should set forth the definition before proceeding. Hey, it can't hurt.
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Postby Tom Mazanec on Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:00 am

Well, I am a Republican and favored the invasion, and even I admit we are not "winning" by any sane definition of the word. We basically replaced a tyrant with a civil war.
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Postby TMLutas on Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:37 am

Tom Mazanec wrote:Well, I am a Republican and favored the invasion, and even I admit we are not "winning" by any sane definition of the word. We basically replaced a tyrant with a civil war.


I'll get to my "how to win" post separately but it's not quite true that we've replaced a tyrant with a civil war. We replaced a tyrant with a transitional administration, consulted the people of Iraq and then allowed them to put in a democratic government of their own choosing. The sore losers of that process started the current war, though serious people with stars on their shoulders dispute that it's a civil war.

Was the Whisky Rebellion a civil war? We don't characterize it as such.
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Postby The JAM on Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:38 am

Perhaps, we should start by first asking some very basic questions:

1. Who are they?
2. What do they want?
3. Why do they want it?
4. And why do they want it so badly?
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Postby Xellas on Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:38 am

Part of the problem in Iraq is that we are attempting what amounts to civil engineering in a country who's predominant religion counts it as heresy to allow civil engineering to take place at all. You hear world leaders talking about 'encouraging moderate Muslims'. The ironic thing is that every time they say something like that, they DESTROY the credibility of moderate Muslims everywhere, and whip the extremists into a new level of furious opposition.

'Winning' in Iraq at this point is most likely impossible. There really isn't any way to stop this conflict, as it's been brewing for just about as long as Islam has been around. Much like the old Catholic/Protestant fighting, this will simply have to burn itself out. The big problem will be if this fighting spreads into other Islamic nations, which is a big possiblity.

But like Deckard said, we need to define 'winning' before we discuss the hows of it. If you are defining it as 'a peaceful, democratic Iraq' then your just insane. At this point, 'averting a civil war' is probably the best short-term goal, and even that is going to be next to impossible.
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Re: OT: What should we do in Iraq?

Postby TMLutas on Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:44 am

Tom Mazanec wrote:I know this forum gets a lot of political views. So how do we win in Iraq? Here is is country with three groups who hate each other, at least two of which (I don't know about the Kurds) follow a religion whose holy book is rife with hatred for those non-Muslim (I know Ralph can back me up on this). So what do we do? We cannot isolate ourselves from the world like the Racconans (and even they are facing the fact that theirs is a temporary solution) so that option is out.


We've already put in the conditions for ultimate victory in Iraq. Now we've just got to keep the lid on while those who need killing get killed and ensure that the people of Iraq get a chance to affirm or replace their current crop of politicians for another 2 or 3 rounds of elections. I was born in, and follow the politics of, Romania. After their first election, the president thought it was ok to organize miners with rebar in their hands to run wild in the streets of the capital. After 5 elections the place has improved a great deal and it's going to be an EU member come January and is honorably serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan as a good friend of the US and a NATO member. Iraq will likely follow a similar trajectory and if we don't punk out whoever is president of the US in 2020 will likely have a good friend in Baghdad.

Removing Saddam was a big bang. It will take time to clear the rubble.
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Re: OT: What should we do in Iraq?

Postby Xellas on Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:52 am

TMLutas wrote:
We've already put in the conditions for ultimate victory in Iraq. Now we've just got to keep the lid on while those who need killing get killed and ensure that the people of Iraq get a chance to affirm or replace their current crop of politicians for another 2 or 3 rounds of elections. I was born in, and follow the politics of, Romania. After their first election, the president thought it was ok to organize miners with rebar in their hands to run wild in the streets of the capital. After 5 elections the place has improved a great deal and it's going to be an EU member come January and is honorably serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan as a good friend of the US and a NATO member. Iraq will likely follow a similar trajectory and if we don't punk out whoever is president of the US in 2020 will likely have a good friend in Baghdad.

Removing Saddam was a big bang. It will take time to clear the rubble.


The big problem here is that this isn't just a lashback by an ousted party. It may have STARTED as that, but now it's blown into a full out religious war driven by basic differences in their faith. This is much more akin to the Catholic/Protestant fighting of the past than a lashback, and it will continue as such, possibly spreading through the entire Muslim world if we are not careful. The Sunni/Shiite conflict is centered around a conflict of who should lead their religion basically, and now that it's settled into battlelines based on those beliefs things will stay ugly for a long time to come.
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Postby Merry on Thu Dec 14, 2006 10:05 am

Well, you cant win. You couldnt win from the start.

Whats likely to happen is: you overstrain yourself, pull out, the country falls into chaos, pulling some neighbouring states into it. From the ashes of old Iraq rise several quite despotic states that may or may not harbour terrorists who might or might not fly planes into... lets say the eiffel tower (it doesnt always have to hit the US). Random killing ensues. Rocks fall, everyone dies.
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Postby Aurrin on Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:03 am

This is just the latest upending in a cycle that bears remarkable resemblance to an hour glass being flipped over and over. Whichever sect is in power at the time immediately tries to begin eliminating all the other sects. Eventually, the sect in power changes, and the process starts again.

As long as genocide is considered an acceptable action by those in power, democracy cannot exist. At most, it will be nothing more than a sham that lasts only until one sect gains enough power to abolish the democracy and return to dictatorship. Democracy requires that everyone have, at minimum, the right to expression of opinion. Genocide mandates that certain groups have no rights, not even the right to exist.

Until the peoples of the Middle East stop viewing genocide as an acceptable solution, they will always have oppression and war. No other criterion matters, including what they may say about wanting peace (or more commonly, an end to oppression and a free state). If they 'want peace', but still want to kill the other sects when in power, then their understanding of how peace (and democracy) works is broken.

Given that their general social outlook hasn't changed in well over a thousand years, there is little reason to believe or hope that we will ever change their situation. You can only help set up a democracy when the people themselves are ready for it, because they are the foundation of that government. Giving it to people who are even less than enthusiastic about it is a waste, because they must want it enough to entrench it within their society. Otherwise, it will fall apart like a house of cards. Generally, when they are in fact ready for it, they will need little to no help anyway.
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Postby BrockthePaine on Thu Dec 14, 2006 12:01 pm

Merry wrote:Well, you cant win. You couldnt win from the start.

The way I see it, there are three ways to end this conflict between Muslims and the West:
1. Kill/convert all the Muslims to something else.
2. kill/convert all the Westerners and Muslim moderates.
3. Support the moderates to control their religion, and hope they can reform it.

1 is not morally acceptable. 2 is not an option either. 3 doesn't seem to work very well. The militant Muslims refuse to coexist with us. Hence, until one side gives up, there will be conflict.
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Postby Atarlost on Thu Dec 14, 2006 12:02 pm

It has been said that the only way to avoid shedding a sea of blood is to demonstrate your willingness to shed a lake of it at a moment's notice.

It may not be true in all or even most contexts, but it's accurate in this one. The ummah must be cowed or exterminated, it cannot cease to be an unacceptable existential threat to the west otherwise.
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Postby Merry on Thu Dec 14, 2006 12:39 pm

BrockthePaine wrote:
Merry wrote:Well, you cant win. You couldnt win from the start.

The way I see it, there are three ways to end this conflict between Muslims and the West:
1. Kill/convert all the Muslims to something else.
2. kill/convert all the Westerners and Muslim moderates.
3. Support the moderates to control their religion, and hope they can reform it.

1 is not morally acceptable. 2 is not an option either. 3 doesn't seem to work very well. The militant Muslims refuse to coexist with us. Hence, until one side gives up, there will be conflict.


You got it right, there. You have the choice of letting the uncivilised win, or become uncivilised yourself.
Become a monster to beat the monster? Not a good Idea in reality (maybe interesting in fiction, though), especially if it means going all Third Reich on people of another religion, no matter how backwater they seem to be.
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Postby Axelgear on Thu Dec 14, 2006 2:22 pm

Terrorism is the Hydra; cut off one head and another sprouts forth. You can't beat it with a single answer, you have to remove the factors that cause it first. Otherwise, as pretty much EVERY soldier and general has been saying, when one falls another just takes their place.

The heart of the issue is Religious Militantism, a factor that can be removed by adding prosperity. No-one named Bill who works as a nine to five ever thought "I'll strap a bomb to myself and blow up those guys because they are kinda different to me." At least, not seriously anyway... However, these people have NOTHING. No jobs, no real home, nothing, and when they see other nations with everything, they turn to the easy answer and cause that appeals to their base instincts. Once these people can farm and get jobs, their worries fade fast, but in a place where poverty runs rampant, problems are bound to ensue. It doesn't matter which religion it is, pretty much all of them can be perverted to teach hatred if you try hard enough.

So, for once, this is an odd case of where you kill the body of the Hydra instead of cutting off the heads.
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Postby LoneWolf23k on Thu Dec 14, 2006 3:06 pm

In a related topic, the conditions in Afghanistan are causing the Opposition here in Canada to question our mission over there. They want us to focus less on fighting the Taliban and more on Rebuilding the country.

Of course, they neglect the fact that reconstruction isn't an easy thing to do so long as the Taliban keep attacking to destroy that which has been built so far.

The fact there's now rampant corruption in the legal Afghani government doesn't help it gain legitimacy either, which only helps the Taliban get more credibility.

What would help would be getting a stronger commitment from other UN nations working in Afghanistan, and cleaning up the corruption in the current government to make the reconstruction effort work better.

Although I guess Irak is somewhat different.
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Postby RHJunior on Thu Dec 14, 2006 3:19 pm

I had a long rant here about winning in Iraq.

But it was about after an hour of typing that I realized: <I>Victory in Iraq is the wrong question.</i> "Victory in Iraq," as it's commonly used, implies we finish our mission in Iraq, pack up our suitcase and go home.

But "the war" isn't just in Iraq.

It's in Iran, where most of the terrorists are coming from that are engaged in the "civil war". (People, just because Tom Brokaw calls it a civil war don't make it so. It's still the same combatants, still the same troublemakers, as when they were called "insurgents.")

It's in Saudi Arabia, where they're getting their money.

It's in Afghanistan.

It's in Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, the Sudan.

Worse, it's in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, England.

It's in Mexico, coming across the border. Its in Canada, stockpiling explosives and guns.

It's in New York City.

We are not going to "win the Iraq war" and then all the troops come marching home, hurrah, hurrah. No more than we declared victory on D-Day, planted a flag on the beach and sent all the troops back to the States.

Asking for "success in Iraq" is meaningless as asking for a declaration of victory in Normandy. <I>That's only the starting point.</i>
Baghdad is only a beach-head, and it's a beach-head we have to hold until the last enemy falls. Victory in Iraq is a process rather than a destination. It means, <I>for now,</i> a stable Iraqi government, and a continuing American military presence from which we can launch further ventures against the strongholds that shelter and support our enemy. Our objective in Iraq is a free democracy, the best we can get for our efforts, at least, that is capable of carrying part of the load of the Terror War.... helping guard its own borders and police its own people and scour its own desert for the Jihadists who are plotting against the free world.

This war doesn't end with "and then we bring the troops home." It ends with "and then we turned our guns to the next hill over."
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"A paradigm shifting without a clutch."
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Postby Axelgear on Thu Dec 14, 2006 3:46 pm

Not entirely true. A war can end on policy alone, it's all about just ending the cause of the problem. As a general rule, the population at large do not want more war as the lowest common denominator are the ones that suffer the most. If the option is there to choose otherwise, terrorism will fade away.
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Postby Merry on Thu Dec 14, 2006 3:54 pm

It may have been said a thousand times now, but if Baghdad is only a beachhead, its the beach of Iceland, if you draw to comparisation to WW2.

Of course, Germany wasnt in iceland, but the general direction (east-ish) is right, and better start somewhere.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is almost completely back under Taliban rule. Looks like the west lost the war there, because Karzai isnt strong enough without the International troops (wich hardly can hold the capital atm). If you ask me, Afghanistan should get the focus now. Hold Iraq, but re-liberate Afghanistan, so the Iraqi "Insurgents" (lets just call them that) dont get the idea they just have to keep up what they are doing long enough and they win. Wouldnt be pretty, and send the signal that the west cant win against the fundamentalists without resorting to nuklear strikes (I doubt even those would help, because the people there are uneducated and dont properly fear the ensuing fallout - i read an interview with some iranian guy who actually thought they could settle in Israel after it has been purified by the bomb - personally, i think it would be fun to watch that, in a morbid kind of way)
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Postby Frigidmagi on Thu Dec 14, 2006 4:40 pm

I was there. I fought. What should we do?
This is what we should do.

This is the Long War. It has more in common in with the Cold War then any World War. Like the World Wars, like the Cold War, we can win. We will win.

But it will take time. A long time.

Never the less, this is what must be done if you would have your children grow up free. Not safe, free. Forget safe, there is no more safe left in the world. It is no longer among your choices, it may even be that it never was among the choices. Your choices are now free, or chained.
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Postby Xellas on Thu Dec 14, 2006 6:01 pm

RHJ, I have to ask you an important question now that you've laid down the gauntlet like that.

Just WHO do you think the enemy is?

As you've shown in Nip & Tuck, you don't believe all Muslims are evil people. Anyone who does think that needs to be smacked upside the head a few dozen times and sent home to think a while. But in all honesty, your comments here sound like you are trying to declare war on most, if not all, of the Islamic world.

If that's your intent, to democraticize the entire Islamic world, then your in for a really nasty shock. Because we will LOSE that fight. We've tried to convert 2 nations now... and after 4 years of constant fighting, we haven't even begun to approach the stated goals for either nation. Afghanistan is still wracked with problems, and Iraq is on the verge of tearing itself apart under whatever name you want to call the sectarian conflict.

The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the Islamic world does not WANT to be a democracy. At the very core of Islamic faith is the concept of integration of church and state. I cannot think of a single democratic theocracy that has ever, EVER worked in the history of the world, and I see no reason to expect that you would be able to make one work here.

As for the source of extremist Islam, it's not always triggered by poverty. Islam is not like Christianity... you can't just do your 5 daily prayers and one pilgrimage and then be assured of your salvation. The core of their faith centers around the idea that YOU ARE NOT ASSURED SALVATION. When your constantly questioning yourself as to your fate in the afterlife, you find a desire to push your beliefs further and further to try and get that extra few points on the cosmic reportcard. The problem with this and Islam is twofold.

1: Most Muslims do not own the Quran and/or cannot read it even if they could get one. Up until very, VERY recently, it was actually illegal to print the Quran in anything but the original Arabic, which causes problems when you factor in that the vast majority of Muslims can't read arabic even if they can read at all. Instead, much like the Catholic church back in the dark ages, they rely on imams to tell them what the Quran says, which leads to a wide array of beliefs that are clung to with absolute religious zeal, EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG BY THEIR OWN FAITH.

2: The Quran itself CONDONES and even REWARDS the killing of non-Muslims. There are many cases where muhammed slaughtered non-believers, usually in self-defense. Unfortunately, much of the Muslim world now believes that they are under attack from the Americans. Combine this with the fact that Bin Ladin declared Jihad, and you get a nasty little loophole pop up. Death during a Jihad while fighting the enemy, especially if its by fire, is a free ticket to Heaven. Literally. In fact, it's the ONLY assured way to get to heaven... even if you live a perfect, flawless life, there are passages in the Quran that speak of having to walk a bridge no thicker than the edge of a knife across a pit into Hell before you can get in. Also, it's stated that even if you get through that, God can decide to flick you back into the pit. The point is that you have NO ASSURANCE under their faith, UNLESS you kill yourself fighting invaders. Which means that every person who is desperate for salvation, regardless of their economic situation, will be tempted to jump onto the suicide bandwagon when extremists show them these passages.

There are roughly 1 BILLION Muslims in the world. That's 1 billion potential recruits, most of which are ignorant of their own faith's teachings. Ignorance makes them easily molded, and the extremists have proved they are not above mass kidnappings. Your not going to be able to just 'wait it out', as the last 4 years have proven.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
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How great would the world be if we REALLY practiced that?
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