US-Iraq/war/occupation

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The US-Iraq War

About

The US occupation of Iraq refers to phase of the US-Iraq War following the invasion, after the government of Saddam Hussein was toppled and the essential infrastructure of Iraq, where still functional, was in the hands of the United States. Although the initial invasion went reasonably well and was over quickly, the occupation has turned into a goal-less never-ending war against a non-geopolitically identifiable enemy.

Nicknames: Messopotamia, The Iraqi Horror Picture Show (although this latter might better describe the Abu Ghraib abuses or the use of torture during GWB administration in general)

The Republicans largely continue to stand behind a continued presence in Iraq, a position which is now in stark disagreement with their 2000 Party Platform:

The 2000 US Republican Party Platform says:

When presidents fail to make hard choices, those who serve must make them instead. Soldiers must choose whether to stay with their families or to stay in the armed forces at all. Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness.

Conclusions

See also reasons the Iraq war is unpopular (to be written)

The occupation has become a quagmire both logistically and politically, and has greatly harmed the United States:

The administration has used the occupation, and the war on terror of which it supposedly is an essential part, as an excuse to dramatically ramp up security and secrecy and as justification for suppressing dissent and removing or suspending the civil rights of US citizens, and as an excuse for anti-democratic government activity in general. This is a repeat of history, e.g. the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts passed during an undeclared war with France which is now seen historically (as well as by some contemporaries) to be a thinly-disguised and unconstitutional effort to stifle criticism of the administration.

It is often claimed that flagging support for the war within the United States is because Americans lack fortitude, but this is more likely an attempt to divert attention away from both the incredibly bad management of the war and from Bush's gradual weakening of democracy in general.

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Events

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Opinion

  • 2007-09-20 How the Left Spent Its Summer Vacation "The season's big antiwar campaign fizzles." by Clifford D. May, National Review Online contributor
  • 2007-09-04 Countdown Special Comment: You have no remaining credibility about Iraq, sir. by Keith Olbermann: text transcript with video (download and stream) links
  • found 2007-07-02 The Anti-War Media Assholes "They say that we're simply losing too many soldiers and that we cannot sustain these losses. In short, they'll say it's 'not worth it'. Never mind that our soldiers are killing terrorist scumbags at a ratio of more than 100 terrorists to each man that we lose. Never mind that the 100:1 ratio is much preferable to that of 19 terrorists to 3500 New Yorkers. It will never be worth it to the left wing of this country. No ratio is good enough... EVEN WHEN IT CAN BE CLEARLY SHOWN THAT OUR SOLDIERS ARE SAFER THAN OUR CITIZENS BACK HOME."
  • 2006-12-03 How Our Civilization Can Fall by Orson Scott Card: offers a reasonable-sounding argument for the US to remain in Iraq, based on historical civilization-wide crashes. The difference between this and other arguments against leaving Iraq is that it suggests a possible model for what the US should be doing there, with historical data to back it up.
  • 2006-11-23 Roads, good intentions, etcetera by Charlie Stross (blog entry, with comments)
  • 2006-11-16 Iraq: The War of the Imagination by Mark Danner
  • 2006-10-30 The Only Issue This Election Day by Orson Scott Card explains why we are nation building in Iraq, and why it is the only worthy path.
  • 2006-08-13 Lies and Catastrophes by Orson Scott Card: in defense of the Iraq war and Bush; synopsis:
    • A Democratic congressman recently used the word "catastrophic" in reference to Iraq, "but catastrophe is a word that requires there be widespread sudden damage" so the congressman must mean something else (first 12 paragraphs)
    • This is because "he was selling something", i.e. "He was trying to persuade the American people that the Iraq War was a dire mistake, a disaster" which can only (and must) be ended "by withdrawing our troops by the end of the year." (2 short paragraphs)
    • Withdrawing our troops in that manner, however, would be a catastrophe because:
      • "all the people who have taken bold action for democracy in Iraq would be left high and dry in the tribal and religious war that would certainly ensue. The citizens of Iraq would be slaughtered by local enemies who think nothing of blowing up each other's mosques, weddings, and funerals."
      • "all our enemies would be greatly emboldened by such a proof of our irresolution." Our enemies would learn that "If you kill American citizens and soldiers long enough, they give you everything you want. Since they were killing Americans before we liberated Iraq, it is hard to imagine that they would stop."
    • People who favor withdrawal from Iraq only do so because "they think we are somehow the cause of the war. We were bad, and so they hate us; if we become good, then they will be nice to us." (straw man argumentWoozle) This is not at all true; they hate us because we are prosperous.
    • The rest seems to be devoted to exploring the meaning of "lying" with regard to Bill Clinton vs. George W. Bush; further fisking needed.

Alternatives

...as opposed to "staying the course" without clear goals, much less a plan.

News

Reports

  • 2007-08-19 The War as We Saw It by Buddhika Jayamaha (Army specialist), Wesley D. Smith, Jeremy Roebuck, Omar Mora, Edward Sandmeier, Yance T. Gray (all sergeants), and Jeremy A. Murphy (staff sergeant): "To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day."
    • Gray and Mora were killed in service in Baghdad on 2007-09-10, although the Pentagon has yet to confirm this as of 2007-09-14
    • Murphy was injured in action (shot in the head) during the writing of the article; he is expected to survive
  • 2007-05-28 A soldier in Iraq asks in despair: Why are we here? by Donald Hudson Jr.: "I have been serving our country’s military actively for the last three years. I am currently deployed to Baghdad on Forward Operating Base Loyalty, where I have been for the last four and a half months."
  • 2006-09-?? The Secret Letter From Iraq: "...this straightforward account of life in Iraq by a Marine officer was initially sent just to a small group of family and friends. His honest but wry narration and unusually frank dissection of the mission contrasts sharply with the story presented by both sides of the Iraq war debate, the Pentagon spin masters and fierce critics."
  • 2004-09-29 Wall Street Journal reporter Farnaz Fassihi reports from Baghdad

Analysis

  • 2007-07-27 What Are the Democratic Candidates Really Saying about Iraq? by Ira Chernus: how to decipher the doublespeak (related: 2008 US presidential race)
  • 2007-07-03 Winds of War by Joshua Muravchik (American Enterprise Institute): "Islamist radicals in the Middle East increasingly see the United States and Israel as weak, retreating powers. Twentieth-century history tells us that wars often erupt when the enemies of democratic nations view those nations as soft and passive. Consequently, the United States and Israel are perhaps as close as they have ever been to full-scale war with the likes of Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah."
  • 2007-07-02
    • Orderly Humiliation by Thomas Donnelly (American Enterprise Institute): "Operation Phantom Thunder, the first real effect of the Iraq troop surge of the past six months, is improving the battlefield situation in Baghdad and the surrounding towns. But in Washington, those who believe the war is already lost--call it the Clinton-Lugar axis--are mounting a surge of their own. Ground won in Iraq becomes ground lost at home." Discusses the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which is apparently the dems' answer to the neocon Project for a New American Century.
    • The New Strategy in Iraq by Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan (American Enterprise Institute): "The new strategy for Iraq has entered its second phase. Now that all of the additional combat forces have arrived in theater, Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno have begun Operation Phantom Thunder, a vast and complex effort to disrupt al Qaeda and Shiite militia bases all around Baghdad in advance of the major clear-and-hold operations that will follow. The deployment of forces and preparations for this operation have gone better than expected..."
  • 2006-08-10 The Guns Of August by Richard Holbrooke
  • 2006-07-23 In Iraq, Military Forgot Lessons of Vietnam: also makes some comparisons with the Balkans

David Brin

From http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html :

  • Over a thousand Americans lost, with more dying almost daily and no end in sight.
  • Uncounted (and secret) numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths.
  • Scandals; poorly supervised thugs ruining our reputation for decent behavior.
  • A Western Alliance in shambles.
  • Relentless lies; intervention justified by fabricated evidence reminiscent of Tonkin Gulf.
  • Plummeting readiness levels — our military is being used-up.
  • Utterly divisive of American public (possibly a desired goal), repeating the social effects of Vietnam (Editor's note: further enhancing Bush's existing divisiveness)
  • Clever incarceration tricks overused as bludgeons, wrecking credibility and undermining due process.
  • Incompetent preparation and handling of the aftermath, featuring rapid deterioration of political, economic and social life in Iraq
  • Worldwide acceptance of US moral leadership plummeting.
  • And the fundamental strategic outcome — provoking a radicalized Islam, further stirred by Saudi-funded Al Jazeera Network and Saudi-funded religious schools, from Morocco to Mindanao, threatening a pan-Islamic coalescence into Jihad mentality for the first time in a thousand years.

Quotes

from The New Yorker:

Ron Suskind, in his book The One Percent Doctrine, claims that analysts at the C.I.A. watched a similar video, released in 2004, and concluded that "bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reëlection." Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush’s strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.