Iraq: How can we win?

After reading the thread about how a Senator said that we’ve already lost Iraq, I’m interested in hearing from you guys about the possibility of winning in Iraq. Now I realize this is a bit of a difficult thing to imagine. I’ll start with a few areas in which I’d hope the debate can be directed.

I think it’s clear to most of us that continuing in the direction that Bush is headed in isn’t going to work. We simply can’t pacify the country by outlasting the natives. We can’t hope for them to get tired of fighting before we do.

Obviously we can’t imagine that we can pull out and that things will manage to work themselves out either.

So what is the best way for the US to withdraw the troops (or a large part of them) and keep the region from totally melting down?

The only idea that I can imagine at the moment would be some sort of division of the country. I realize that this isn’t the best option. A divide between the religious groups would create loads of problems, but is it possible that this is the best option available now? If we just pull out the troops, I believe it will break down into civil war, possibly with Iranian involvement, leading to an entirely Shiite state. Secondly, according to Osama Bin Laden, the goal of Al Qaeda is to stir up anti-American hatred. If we pull out, then their own divisions will be the source of conflict.

I admittedly don’t know how it would need to be divided, but my hope would be that at least there would be some peace in some of the areas.

The only other option I could imagine would be that we could set up some kind of dictator, but that’s impossible because the Iraqi military isn’t strong enough.

I recommend engaging Iran into a land war, deliberately not landing any killer blows, withdrawing all Coalition forces back to the Jordanian border, thereby drawing Iranian troops into Baghdad, getting out of Dodge, and leaving Iran bogged down in the shithole she has so covertly helped create. Let 'em all get what they’ve wished for all along. You can only fight the good fight for so long before it becomes obvious the folks there don’t wanna help themselves first.

Either that, or ban all privately owned vehicles from the streets of Baghdad. Coaltion vehicles only.

The Iranians can’t be bogged down in Iraq, because not being led by Bush they can and will simply leave. And I see no reason to believe the people who try to lay the blame for our disaster on Iran.

They can’t help themselves; we’ve crippled them too badly. And we aren’t “fighting the good fight” in any sense of the word.

:rolleyes: Yeah, that’ll win hearts and minds. And accomplish . . .what ?
As far as the OP goes, I believe it to be impossible. Iraq will either collapse into chaos or turn into a Islamic state dedicated to the hatred of America; like Iran, but much more intense in their hatred for us. If the factions are held together they will fight each other for supremacy and religion and revenge for the atrocity-of-the-week. If seperated, the Sunnis will fight because they’ll have so little, the Shiites will try to dominate the others and Turkey will invade the Kurdish area. As for a dictator, I doubt that any dictator we set up would survive long; being associated with us would be a death sentence for him.

Dividing the country:

  • isn’t simple (are you going to move all the civilians out of opposing areas? what do you do about the oil and other resources?)
  • will cause ructions in the region - e.g. the Turkish Kurds will make demands
  • would need heavy policing; but you suggest we withdraw all troops…

N.B. The original goal of Al-Qaeda was to get foreigners out of the holy land (Saudi Arabia).

I appreciate you mean well, but if you don’t even know how to divide it, how do you expect it to work?

Of course the US has tried that already:

'Saddam was seen by U.S. intelligence services as a bulwark of anti-communism and they used him as their instrument for more than 40 years…

his first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim…

The CIA/Defense Intelligence Agency relation with Saddam intensified after the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September of 1980. During the war, the CIA regularly sent a team to Saddam to deliver battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance aircraft to aid the effectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces…’

What did happen to Saddam Hussein? :confused:

Will Rumsfeld be photographed shaking the new Dictator’s hand?

And here is the latest US solution:

‘US soldiers are building a three-mile wall to separate one of Baghdad’s Sunni enclaves from surrounding Shia neighbourhoods, it emerged today.’

That will get the communities talking. :rolleyes:

And your idea is that a lot of people, especially civilians will be killed, which will teach those Arabs a lesson? :smack:

What about the oil? How would the US ensure supplies of that? :confused:

What are we trying to win again? We’re not at war. The war was back in 2003, and was over quickly; since then we’ve been occupying a country that is now having its own civil war. There’s nothing to win and no good outcome. Hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, tens of thousands of people dead for nothing, a whole new generation of potential terrorists who hate us; that’s the reality.

No matter what we do, it’ll keep getting worse before it gets better (if ever). I’d guess it’ll end up with Iraq in three parts, and possibly Iran in a stronger position than ever before in our lifetimes. And we’ll keep making deals with dictators just as bad as Hussein, as we have in Uzbekistan; that’s likely regardless of who’s in the White House, because it’s what we’ve always done.

I’m all for a quickly phased redeployment partially to the periphery of Kurdistan and right out of the shit hole. Let the Kurds declare a state like Israel did and following a properly timed exit from there, support them like the US supports Israel. That would be a partial victory

Let the Arabs resolve their own problems like they’ve done before. Iraq was once peaceful save a few isolated incidents, because what they need is not a democracy, but a ruthless dictatorship to keep the peace.

What I basically meant was, is there any way we can divide the country up that will end up in less stability than it would be if we made an outright withdrawal? I realize that it wouldn’t be pretty, I know that for sure. The kurdish example is a good one. But this would cause problems with Turkey, and a destabalized Turkey would make things much worse. Actually I just realized how big kurdistan is, that’s certainly a problem…

But maybe if we pull out we can get Syria and Iran to sort out the mess? Maybe we can make a deal with Iran somehow. We’d then have the troops to make a deal with.

Oh, and as far as oil goes. Why would they not sell it? I simply don’t understand that argument. They need to sell it to make money. Whoever gets their hands on the oil will still need to find a market for it, and what better place than the number one customer of all time?

Secondly, wouldn’t a US pullout be an admission of defeat? Wouldn’t that sort of settle things anyway?

See, you’re a reasonable person. You see something is badly wrong and want advice on how to fix it.

By contrast, Bush has called Iran part of ‘an Axis of Evil’, labelled Syria a haven for terrorism and invaded Iraq without good reason. He has a dreadful reputation world-wide and is retiring at the next election.
How well do you expect the delicate negotiations to go?! :eek:

Even if we pull the troops out of Iraq and declare a “win”, this doesn’t mean that our daughters and sons will get to come back home. A lot of the current administration’s power is based on the fact that we are at “war”, so the likelihood is that they would just be transfered to a new battlefield(most likely Iran).

Ah young Jedi, you have much to learn. :slight_smile:
Yes, the oil can still be sold to the US. At a price. :eek:
Have a look at oil prices before the OPEC producers bumped them up in 1973.

'…the Arab oil-producing countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo on supplies to the US on 20 October 1973.
For the wider world, oil prices went through the roof, from around $3 a barrel before the war to over $11 by early the following January.
The crisis led to a recession in 1975, the first of four world downturns where oil price increases caused by events in the Middle East played a key role. ’

Oil is now at $62 a barrel. If the Middle East whack in another price rise like 1973, oil would cost the US $227 a barrel.

Defeat? What defeat? Bush has clearly stated the US won the war. (I believe it involved a banner and an aircraft carrier…)
Politicians seldom admit anything and Bush is no exception.

I’m OK with declaring victory. I’m OK with a gigantic rally in Washington DC, a huge “Hooray for Our Heroes and The Leader!” marathon with flags, bands and fireworks. I’m OK with draping Medals of Freedumb around every brain-dead maroon who backed this clusterfuck.

So long as it gets our people home and out of The Shit, I’m OK. Somebody is going to be the last poor dumb shmuck to die for this mistake. Is said PDS already there, on the way there, or still not graduated high school?

That was the original plan – one of the original plans, anyway – but the neocons fucked it up. It’s too late now.

Well, if we left they:

  • Will probably throw out the laws we imposed on them giving us a cut of the profits.

  • Might sell oil to people we don’t approve of.

  • By adding more oil to the market, they’ll lower prices and cut into the profits of Bush’s oil buddies.

  1. Stop knocking heads of ordinary Iraqis and start knocking heads of Iraqi politicians from all factions. They need to get together on a government and a modus operandi that may not entirely satisfy everyone but that all can live with. This is the only solution that will fulfil any reasonable definition of “winning.”

This senario seems to me to be about as likely as standing a needle on end on an anvil.

2)Divide the country. A Kurdish nation will anger both Turkey and Iran. We would need to maintain a strong presence in this “Kurdistan” to prevent them from trying to incorporate Kurdish regions in the neighboring countries. The Sunnis probably will not accept the area where they now are a majority, It would be a land-locked nation with no oil and outlet to the world only through Syria. Maybe Syria and the Iraqi Sunnis could work out an annexation.

This would require us to stay there a long time to avoid bitter battles, actual and not not political battles, over how to divide the country. We would also have to stay there a long time to enforce the division until it becomes a settled question. Out by 2100 anyone?

It appears to me that Sen. Reid was right. I just wish he a phrased it along the lines suggested by Mark Shields on The News Hour.

He could have pointed out that the troops won the military victory with dispatch and have since done all that could be expected of them. However, the job that now needs to be done is not a military action but a political one and unless we tackle that job vigorously with politics we will fail.

There are two strategies which could lead to us ‘winning.’

The first would be to pull all coalition forces back to the enduring bases and to the Iraqi borders. We’d still be in Iraq but we wouldn’t be occupying anything or have our finger on the pulse of power. This will end with several hundred thousand Iraqis dying in the ensuing civil war. After the dust settles we re-occupy the country and do our thing.

The second could only happen in a fantasy world. It involves a trillion dollars, ten years, a draft, and an extensive cultural/language/counter-insurgency education for every soldier who goes into the field.

I see a few people took my earlier toungue in cheek a bit too seriously. Nonetheless, careful readers will note that I used the words “Get out of Dodge”, and for a reason. The political will needed back stateside to stick it out isn’t there, accordingly, as David Simmons rightly pointed out, the military people have done an outstanding job to the best of their abilities thus far in a failing environment.

May I invite any of you who are interested to do a Search and go back and find a thread by Sam Stone in this forum from early 2003 where we were asked to make predctions regarding casualties, length of occupation, unforeseen outcomes etc. It makes for some good reading. Of all the things I was most afraid of, it was a Vietnam style counter-insurgency amongst the civilians - exacerbated by the language and culture barrier between occupation forces and the locals. I didn’t predict the sectarian based ethnic cleansing though.

And there’s the rub… the genie’s out of the bottle. Once the ethnic cleansing amongst suburbs starts, the fabric of a city falls to pieces, and what’s happening within Baghdad will continue to happen on a larger scale at a nation-state level.

That’s why I predict Iraq is destined to become the Balkans of the Euphrates. It’s also why I think a true Machiavelli would somehow sucker punch Iran to invade Iraq after Coalition forces fall back to safe bases on Iraq’s borders. It’s an excellent way to get Iran get so bogged down with a mess on her borders that her sphere of influence would get diminished. But that’s probably a bit too wicked for most people’s tastes. The other option is to really, REALLY suck it up and find out the hard way, what Hitler found it with Norway in WWII. He ended up with 300,000 German soldiers there just trying to contain the insurgency which never let up the whole war. They say a TRUE occupation involves one soldier for every 15 civilians. Think about that.

In a nutshell, it seems to me that most Americans are thinking nowadays - “Hey, we dug it, it’s our responsibility to fill it. Fuck! It doesn’t seem to be able to be filled! What do we do now? If we leave, we’re gonna look like Losers? That can’t be! That can’t be!”

Regarding my suggestion of banning non Coalition vehicles? In Baghdad?

It’ll stop car bombings… as a parent, if I was faced with a choice of living in a city with cars for everyone, but one day my little daughter will have her limbs blown off, OR, living in a city with Coalition vehicles only but my daughter’s going to live safely, I’d opt for Option B.

That is interesting mstay, I like your first idea best of all of them. It’s one that could be more realistic