This is Baghdad, the capital, the place we flooded with troops a couple of months ago to increase security and now it’s like this.
Where are the much vaunted Iraqi police and army the Stay the Courser’s are always talking about? Where are these friggin’ hundreds of thousands of security people Straving Artist and Ryan Liam, not to mention less informed people like Cheney, Bush and Rice are always boasting about?
But fear not. I’m sure the Fighting Right Bloggerati will be balancing this with the joyous news that a school in Anwar Province has had its windows painted or something.
I despair and I’d love a reason not to but I just can’t see one. Why, if 120,000 troops plus all the iraqi security forces can’t stop shit like this does anyone still believe we can actually do anything?
Maybe Bush should visit Baghdad today and see if the insurgents want any turkee.
Seriously, I’d rather wish Tet on the Iraqis.
Tet was a battle on the route to the eventual North Vietnamese takeover of Vietnam entire. Once we were driven out, at least someone ruled. The question in Arab Iraq is whether anyone will be able to establish a monopoly on violence, anywhere, for very long.
The Tet Offensive analogy is kinda weak. Tet was a massive blunder, for starters. The VC and NVA sacrificed huge numbers of men for no real tactical gain. But more importantly, they were a unified enemy with a single command structure, it was possible to negotiate terms, if that option had been deemed appropriate.
No such unity exists in Iraq, apparently. About the only thing the warring factions appear to agree on is thier hatred for us. If there were such a unity, they could very quickly mount a “Tet offensive” on the Green Zone, with results we can only guess at. I suspect they would be quite similar, if the insurgents move en masse, they offer themselves as fodder for our massive firepower advantage, but likely would snap the last straw of our public patience with this slithering clusterfuck of a war.
Yep. Our estimates were that they lost tens of thousands of fighers in that offensive, so it’s a stretch to call what’s happening in Iraq “Tet”. The situation over there is dire, and trying to build tenuous relationships to other situations just leads to picking apart the obvious differences. We need to get out of there for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the Islamists will get a lot less sympathy from the locals once they don’t have us as the common enemy. They make up a tiny fraction of the fighters, but they seem to be able and willing to cause death and destruction disproportionate to their numbers.
Gotta wonder where you get your facts, John. How else might we classify Sunni Islamists fighting against Shia Islamists? Perhaps you mean foreign elements like AlQ?
Be that as it may, about the only sources of information we have are suspect, objectivity is trumped by agenda. But with both sides making a point of attacking the other sides “holy sites”, I think it fair to suggest that they are fighting primarily due to their disparate interpretations of Islam. If that isn’t “Islamist” then what else might it be?
Yes, I meant the foreign fighters, although I’m sure there are some Iraqis who could be called Islamists as well.
The term “Islamist” means something very specific and can’t really be used just to indicate a Sunni/Shiite conflict. Islamism is a philosophy in which there is no distinction between religion, politics, and government. The Kurds, remember, are Sunnis, too. They are more closely allied with the Shiite Arabs than with the Sunni Arabs, so this conflict is really more ethnic than religions, even if we often use religious labels to denonte the two main waring factions.
Anyway, that isn’t really relavent to the topic of this thread, but if you want to start a different thread to debate Islamism as it applies to this confict in Iraq I’d be happy to participate.
What exactly is the debate here? That this is like Tet? Its nothing like Tet…or Vietnam for that matter, no matter how much wishful thinking or hand wringing is being done. That things are bad in Iraq? Thats a GQ question simply answered with: Well doh!
Because the alternative is even worse perhaps? Its the tried and true ‘failure is not an option’ thingy…because to fail is to make this dust up look tame by comparison. A point that still seems to be lost on some…
Tet is the Vietnamese new year. I’m assuming you all are referring to the 1968 Tet offensive, which was a turning point in the war in Vietnam. Yes, it’s a nitpick, but isn’t that what we do on this board?
Option: Impose martial law, dissolve the “sovereign” government, and stamp out with raw military force any hint of insurgency. This would, we may safely assume, require some multiple of the number of troops we have now. Twice as many? Three times? Does anyone imagine that this constitutes an “option”? We wouldn’t have enough troops if we armed the Cub Scouts.
Option: Pick a side. Align ourselves entirely and unquestioningly with the Shia dominated Republic of Greenzonia. Fling ourselves upon the Sunni insurrection until the Shia theocracy is safely cemented into place. A regime we have no reason to believe would be anything but hostile to our interests.
Option: Force the hostile elements to the bargaining table, and dictate a fair and reasonable apportionment of resources and power. As soon as the ink begins to dry, we declare victory and run like hell, with any luck we may be half way out before the shooting starts up again. Which end result, in terms of the suffering of the Iraqi population, is about the same as bugging out right now, except for the number of US troops killed and maimed between now and then.
I’ve got my own crackpot suggestion: Bush should beg, on bended knee, the forgiveness of the Iraqi people and humbly petition the Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani to pull a Ghandi. Perhaps…perhaps…if the Shia unilaterally ceasefire with regards to the Sunni (and other Shia, of course), a fragile atmosphere of trust might be created. Sometimes, in situations like that, peace breaks out, without warning. Longshot? Yeah, kinda.
See, XT, we aren’t choosing failure, failure is happening. For failure to be averted, something must change drasticly and immediately. If you know what that something is, please advise. You’ll be a shoo-in for the Nobel Prize for Smartest Motherfucker on the Planet, Ever.
Been drinking heavily…so hopefully this will be readable.
This seems to be one of those excluded middle thingies…there are a whole range of (equally unpalatable) options that you aren’t mentioning. For instance, there is:
Option: Decide to stick it out, that we can’t and won’t cut and run, that failure isn’t an option as long as we might, just possibly need some of that oil stuff in the future…realize that if Iraq goes, the whole region might go with Iran and Syria jumping in, and with Saudi buying a stake in the game as well…not to mention Kuait, and perhaps even Israel being dragged into the fun.
Radically ramp up our current troop strength, and begin serious talks with anyone who WILL talk on how to lessen the tension and fighting. Forget about pushing through ‘democracy’ if necessary, allow the Iraqi’s to more fully buy in to a possible solution by suggesting alternative forms of goverments that might work better in this situation. At the same time, do the bended knee thingy and TRY and bring some of the rest of The World™ into helping in stabilizing this massive fuckup, instead of just bitching about it. I’m sure it will be great comfort that the US was wrong, that the US totally fucked the pooch, that Bush is the Evil™, blah blah blah…when the entire region explodes and all the oil is cut off. We need to take the hit, to humble ourselves, etc etc…but THEY fucking need to get over the smugness and see the threat…and see that their own intersts lie in figuring out some way to stabalize this thing before it gets really bad.
Well 'luci, thats interesting…but I never said we were choosing failure, not choosing failure, or picking our options out of a hat. What I SAID was…failure is not an option. That we ARE failing is basically unacceptable…so we need to find a solution to this fucked up mess. What solution you ask? Damned if I know. But we best get our asses in gear and come up with something before the shit REALLY hits the fan.
I can practically hear some folks out there saying “What?!? It hasn’t hit the fucking fan YET!!!”. Nope. We’ve merely seen the tip of the iceberg from a fucked up perspective…things can get a LOT worse.
The Tet remark was not meant to be a solid analogy but the fact remains that Tet was the turning point of that war. Sure, the NV lost on the battlefield. They always lost on the battlefield but that’s not the point. They still won in every meaningful sense.
Commentators on the UK news channels were reporting that this feels like a dark page turning - Baghdad turning into Beirut and look how many years that took to resolve. And with a nod to 'Luci - only when the world begged Syria to go in and sort it out.
The three leading politicians (one from each faction) were on live TV begging the security forces to not take sides and to do their job.
I suppose I was hoping some of the Usual Suspects, the one’s that keep telling us how everything is going to be hunky dory because we’ve trained and armed what they euphemistically refer to as the Iraq Army, the one’s that periodically surface to berate us for ignoring the tidal wave of puppies and kittens, about to engulf the Happy Land, just might admit some glimmer of reality.
Yes - I take that point but like Beirut Baghdad dominates the landscape and it the biggest city for each faction in terms of population. Even the Kurds. That is where the Civil War is being played out.
Bosnia or Beirut? Not much of a choice there. The criminals responsible for this, by which I mean the criminally irresponsible liars in Washington and London, those people who refused to even plan for anything other than rose petal parades, need a short trial and a long drop.