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Thread: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    From the NYT of all places:
    VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

    Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

    Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

    Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

    In Ramadi, for example, we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit. He and his men had built an Arab-style living room, where he met with the local Sunni sheiks — all formerly allies of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups — who were now competing to secure his friendship.

    In Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers. The Sunni residents were unhappy with the nearby police checkpoint, where Shiite officers reportedly abused them, but they seemed genuinely happy with the American soldiers and a mostly Kurdish Iraqi Army company patrolling the street. The local Sunni militia even had agreed to confine itself to its compound once the Americans and Iraqi units arrived.

    We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside. A local mayor told us his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq. All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark.

    But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

    In addition, far more Iraqi units are well integrated in terms of ethnicity and religion. The Iraqi Army’s highly effective Third Infantry Division started out as overwhelmingly Kurdish in 2005. Today, it is 45 percent Shiite, 28 percent Kurdish, and 27 percent Sunni Arab.

    In the past, few Iraqi units could do more than provide a few “jundis” (soldiers) to put a thin Iraqi face on largely American operations. Today, in only a few sectors did we find American commanders complaining that their Iraqi formations were useless — something that was the rule, not the exception, on a previous trip to Iraq in late 2005.

    The additional American military formations brought in as part of the surge, General Petraeus’s determination to hold areas until they are truly secure before redeploying units, and the increasing competence of the Iraqis has had another critical effect: no more whack-a-mole, with insurgents popping back up after the Americans leave.

    In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

    These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.

    Another surprise was how well the coalition’s new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working. Wherever we found a fully staffed team, we also found local Iraqi leaders and businessmen cooperating with it to revive the local economy and build new political structures. Although much more needs to be done to create jobs, a new emphasis on microloans and small-scale projects was having some success where the previous aid programs often built white elephants.

    In some places where we have failed to provide the civilian manpower to fill out the reconstruction teams, the surge has still allowed the military to fashion its own advisory groups from battalion, brigade and division staffs. We talked to dozens of military officers who before the war had known little about governance or business but were now ably immersing themselves in projects to provide the average Iraqi with a decent life.

    Outside Baghdad, one of the biggest factors in the progress so far has been the efforts to decentralize power to the provinces and local governments. But more must be done. For example, the Iraqi National Police, which are controlled by the Interior Ministry, remain mostly a disaster. In response, many towns and neighborhoods are standing up local police forces, which generally prove more effective, less corrupt and less sectarian. The coalition has to force the warlords in Baghdad to allow the creation of neutral security forces beyond their control.

    In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.

    How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

    Michael E. O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kenneth M. Pollack is the director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings.
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    L'Etranger Senior Member Banquo's Ghost's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    I have to say I admire your fortitude and belief Xiahou.

    I wonder though, whether the war will be won because there's no-one left, or because the bad guys finally drown in money?

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Iraq: One in seven joins human tide spilling into neighbouring countries

    Patrick Cockburn in Sulaymaniyah
    Published: 30 July 2007


    Two thousand Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. It is the greatest mass exodus of people ever in the Middle East and dwarfs anything seen in Europe since the Second World War. Four million people, one in seven Iraqis, have run away, because if they do not they will be killed. Two million have left Iraq, mainly for Syria and Jordan, and the same number have fled within the country.

    Yet, while the US and Britain express sympathy for the plight of refugees in Africa, they are ignoring - or playing down- a far greater tragedy which is largely of their own making.

    The US and Britain may not want to dwell on the disasters that have befallen Iraq during their occupation but the shanty towns crammed with refugees springing up in Iraq and neighbouring countries are becoming impossible to ignore.

    Even so the UNHCR is having difficulty raising $100m (£50m) for relief. The organisation says the two countries caring for the biggest proportion of Iraqi refugees - Syria and Jordan - have still received "next to nothing from the world community". Some 1.4 million Iraqis have fled to Syria according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, Jordan has taken in 750 000 while Egypt and Lebanon have seen 200 000 Iraqis cross into their territories.

    Potential donors are reluctant to spent money inside Iraq arguing the country has large oil revenues. They are either unaware, or are ignoring the fact that the Iraqi administration has all but collapsed outside the Baghdad Green Zone. The US is spending $2bn a week on military operations in Iraq according to the Congressional Research Service but many Iraqis are dying because they lack drinking water costing a few cents.

    Kalawar refugee camp in Sulaymaniyah is a microcosm of the misery to which millions of Iraqis have been reduced.

    "At least it is safe here," says Walid Sha'ad Nayef, 38, as he stands amid the stink of rotting garbage and raw sewage. He fled from the lethally dangerous Sa'adiyah district in Baghdad 11 months ago. As we speak to him, a man silently presents us with the death certificate of his son, Farez Maher Zedan, who was killed in Baghdad on 20 May 2006.

    Kalawar is a horrible place. Situated behind a petrol station down a dusty track, the first sight of the camp is of rough shelters made out of rags, torn pieces of cardboard and old blankets. The stench is explained by the fact the Kurdish municipal authorities will not allow the 470 people in the camp to dig latrines. They say this might encourage them to stay.

    "Sometimes I go to beg," says Talib Hamid al-Auda, a voluble man with a thick white beard looking older than his fifty years. As he speaks, his body shakes, as if he was trembling at the thought of the demeaning means by which he feeds his family. Even begging is difficult because the people in the camp are forbidden to leave it on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Suspected by Kurds of being behind a string of house robberies, though there is no evidence for this, they are natural scapegoats for any wrong-doing in their vicinity.

    Refugees are getting an increasingly cool reception wherever they flee, because there are so many of them and because of the burden they put on resources. "People here blame us for forcing up rents and the price of food," said Omar, who had taken his family to Damascus after his sister's leg was fractured by a car bomb.

    The refugees in Kalawar had no option but to flee. Of the 97 families here, all but two are Sunni Arabs. Many are from Sa'adiyah in west Baghdad where 84 bodies were found by police between 18 June and 18 July. Many are young men whose hands had been bound and who had been tortured.

    "The majority left Baghdad because somebody knocked on the door of their house and told them to get out in an hour," says Rosina Ynzenga, who runs the Spanish charity Solidarity International (SIA) which pays for a mobile clinic to visit the camp.

    Sulaymaniyah municipality is antagonistic to her doing more. One Kurdish official suggested that the Arabs of Kalawar were there simply for economic reasons and should be given $200 each and sent back to Baghdad.

    Mr Nayef, the mukhtar (mayor) of the camp who used to be a bulldozer driver in Baghdad, at first said nobody could speak to journalists unless we had permission from the authorities. But after we had ceremoniously written our names in a large book he relented and would, in any case, have had difficulty in stopping other refugees explaining their grievences.

    Asked to list their worst problems Mr Nayef said they were the lack of school for the children, shortage of food, no kerosene to cook with, no money, no jobs and no electricity. The real answer to the question is that the Arabs of Kalawar have nothing. They have only received two cartons of food each from the International Committee of the Red Cross and a tank of clean water.

    Even so they are adamant that they dare not return to Baghdad. They did not even know if their houses had been taken over by others.

    Abla Abbas, a mournful looking woman in black robes, said her son had been killed because he went to sell plastic bags in the Shia district of Khadamiyah in west Baghdad. The poor in Iraq take potentially fatal risks to earn a little money.

    The uncertainty of the refugees' lives in Kalawar is mirrored in their drawn faces. While we spoke to them there were several shouting matches. One woman kept showing us a piece of paper from the local authority in Sulaymaniyah giving her the right to stay there. She regarded us nervously as if we were officials about to evict her.

    There are in fact three camps at Kalawar. Although almost all the refugees are Sunni they come from different places and until a month ago they lived together. But there were continual arguments. The refugees decided that they must split into three encampments: one from Baghdad, a second from Hillah, south of Baghdad, and a third from Diyala, the mixed Sunni-Shia province that has been the scene of ferocious sectarian pogroms.

    Governments and the media crudely evaluate human suffering in Iraq in terms of the number killed. A broader and better barometer would include those who have escaped death only by fleeing their homes, their jobs and their country to go and live, destitute and unwanted, in places like Kalawar. The US administration has 18 benchmarks to measure progress in Iraq but the return of four million people to their homes is not among them.


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Corruption 'mars Iraq rebuilding'

    Reports of widespread fraud and waste of funds in Iraq

    The US agency overseeing reconstruction in Iraq has told the BBC that economic mismanagement and corruption there is equivalent to "a second insurgency".
    The chief auditor assigned by Congress, Stuart Bowen, said the Iraqi government was failing to take responsibility for projects worth billions of dollars.

    Mr Bowen also said his agency was investigating more than 50 fraud cases.

    Meanwhile, nearly a third of Iraq's population is in need of emergency aid, a report by Oxfam and Iraqi NGOs says.

    The report said the Iraqi government was failing to provide basic essentials such as water, food, sanitation and shelter for up to eight million people.

    It warned that the continuing violence was masking a humanitarian crisis that had escalated since the US-led invasion in 2003.

    On Monday, six people were killed and at least 12 injured in a car bomb attack in Baghdad. The US military also announced the deaths of three of its soldiers in the western province of Anbar.

    'Troubling'

    US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen was appointed to audit $44bn (£22bn) allocated since 2003, after reports of widespread fraud and waste.

    The agency publishes quarterly reports on the situation, most of which have complained about a serious lack of progress. Monday's report was no different.

    Alarming humanitarian crisis

    In an interview with the BBC, Mr Bowen said corruption was endemic and described it as "an enemy of democracy".

    He added: "We have performed 95 audits that have found instances of programmatic weakness and waste, and we've got 57 ongoing cases right now, criminal cases, looking at fraud."

    Mr Bowen said the transfer of projects to Iraqi government control was "troubling", and expressed concern about delays and cost overruns.

    The report gave the example of the Doura power station, rebuilt with tens of millions of US dollars, which fell into disrepair once it was transferred to Iraqi control.

    Mr Bowen also said Iraqi ministries were struggling to administer funds.

    Last year, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government only spent 22% of its budget on vital rebuilding projects, while spending 99% of the allocation for salaries, he said.

    He said "a pathway towards potential prosperity" could be found only if oil production was brought up to optimal levels, and security and corruption effectively managed.

    'Ruined by war'

    The Iraqi parliament has now adjourned until 4 September, despite US calls for it to remain in session and pass already-delayed legislation.

    The recess means parliament will reconvene just days before America's top commander in Iraq, Army Gen David Petraeus, reports to Congress on the US troop "surge" strategy.


    OXFAM/NCCI REPORT IN FULL
    Rising to the humanitarian challenge in Iraq (324KB)


    His assessment will likely provide the backdrop to the next round of war spending.

    The BBC's Nicholas Witchell in Baghdad says the report by the UK-based charity and the NGO Co-ordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) makes alarming reading.

    The survey recognises that armed conflict is the greatest problem facing Iraqis, but finds a population "increasingly threatened by disease and malnutrition".

    It suggests that 70% of Iraq's 26.5m population are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50% prior to the invasion. Only 20% have access to effective sanitation.

    Nearly 30% of children are malnourished, a sharp increase on the situation four years ago. Some 15% of Iraqis regularly cannot afford to eat.

    The report also said 92% of Iraq's children suffered from learning problems.

    It found that more than two million people have been displaced inside the country, while a further two million have fled to neighbouring countries.

    On Thursday, an international conference in Jordan pledged to help the refugees with their difficulties. Oxfam has not operated in Iraq since 2003 for security reasons.
    "If there is a sin against life, it consists not so much in despairing as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this one."
    Albert Camus "Noces"

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Banquo's Ghost
    I have to say I admire your fortitude and belief Xiahou.
    Mine? I didn't write any of that. It was published in the NYT- written by a guy from a liberal think tank that's run by a former Clinton administration official.

    I was quite deliberate in adding no commentary of my own.
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    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    From the Brookings Institution:

    JULY 23, 2007- With what promised to be a pivotal summer now more than half over, the situation in Iraq remains tenuous at best. Even with all surge forces in place and operational, the modest progress made in the security sphere thus far has not had the hoped-for subsequent influence on the political and economic sectors. Adding to the pressure is the steadily increasing demands stateside for a change in strategy. Indeed, the “political clocks” in Washington and Baghdad are perhaps farther apart today than they have ever been.

    From a security standpoint, having the full allotment of surge troops in theater has allowed for intensified coalition operations in and around Baghdad aimed at rooting out militants from their sanctuaries. Initial reports indicate that these have led to a decrease in the levels of violence in these areas. However, violence nationwide has failed to improve measurably over the past 2-plus months, with a resilient enemy increasingly turning its focus to softer targets outside the scope of the surge. And while the number of internally displaced persons has declined, it has done so not as a result of security improvements but because there are fewer places for Iraqis to run with a number of provinces unable to accept any more refugees. In assessing the overall sentiment of the Iraqi people recently, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker summed it up in one word: fear.

    Politically, there has yet to be significant progress in the legislation of any of the critical benchmark laws. This has been made exceedingly more difficult with recent boycotts of the government by both the Shiite officials loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr and the largest Sunni bloc, the National Accord Front. Though both have now agreed to return their members to parliament after weeks of abstention, neither has resumed participation at the cabinet level, leaving 13 of the 38 Iraqi cabinet positions vacant. With Kurdish lawmakers denouncing the most recently proposed oil revenue sharing law and the National Accord Front threatening to resume its boycott, it is difficult to see how any measurable political progress will take place before the all-important September update from Ambassador Crocker and commanding General David Petraeus.

    Economically, “stagnation” continues to be the key word. The precarious security situation has continued to stymie any significant improvement of such macro indicators as unemployment, GDP and inflation. Fuel production fluctuates from week-to-week with insurgent attacks on infrastructure and suspected widespread corruption causing the average Iraqi to endure interminable lines to obtain scant amounts gasoline and propane. In addition, the availability of electricity has deteriorated over the past couple of months with Ambassador Crocker recently stating that the average person in Baghdad can count on only one or two hours of electricity per day.
    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them ... well, I have others." — Groucho Marx

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    Member Member Del Arroyo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Xiahou: It is true that we have been making progress, and it is nice that someone is recognizing that. However, there are many people one the ground here who do not believe it is enough. There are many people who are more pessimistic now than they have ever been. It's nice to think nice thoughts, though.

    People are happy now, of course, because of the Asia Cup.

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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Here's another interesting read. This time from retired military intelligence officer, Ralph Peters.

    In a similar vein, is this interview with NYT bureau chief John Burns.
    I think there’s no doubt that those extra 30,000 American troops are making a difference. They’re definitely making a difference in Baghdad. Some of the crucial indicators of the war, metrics as the American command calls them, have moved in a positive direction from the American, and dare I say the Iraqi point of view, fewer car bombs, fewer bombs in general, lower levels of civilian casualties, quite remarkably lower levels of civilian casualties. And add in what they call the Baghdad belts, that’s to say the approaches to Baghdad, particularly in Diyala Province to the northeast, to in the area south of Baghdad in Babil Province, and to the west of Baghdad in Anbar Province, there’s no doubt that al Qaeda has taken something of a beating.
    This part is really striking to me:
    But it seems to me that the mood in Congress has moved beyond that. The mood in Congress, as I read it from here, at least those who are leading the push for the withdrawal, are not much interested anymore in incremental progress by the Iraqi government.
    Do any successes matter at this point? Or is the writing on the wall as far as our politicians are concerned?
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Iraq, By the Numbers

    Tom Engelhardt

    Sometimes, numbers can strip human beings of just about everything that makes us what we are. Numbers can silence pain, erase love, obliterate emotion, and blur individuality. But sometimes numbers can also tell a necessary story in ways nothing else can.

    This January, President Bush announced his "surge" plan for Iraq, which he called his "new way forward." It was, when you think about it, all about numbers. Since then, 28,500 new American troops have surged into that country, mostly in and around Baghdad; and, according to the Washington Post, there has also been a hidden surge of private armed contractors--hired guns, if you will--who free up troops by taking over many mundane military positions from guarding convoys to guarding envoys. In the meantime, other telltale numbers in Iraq have surged as well.

    Now, Americans are theoretically waiting for the commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, to report to Congress in September on the "progress" of the President's surge strategy. But there really is no reason to wait for September. An interim report--"Iraq by the numbers"--can be prepared now (as it could have been prepared last month, or last year). The trajectory of horror in Iraq has long been clear; the fact that the US military is a motor driving the Iraqi cataclysm has been no less clear for years now. So here is my own early version of the "September Report."

    CONTINUED BELOW
    A caveat about numbers: In the bloody chaos that is Iraq, as tens of thousands die or are wounded, as millions uproot themselves or are uprooted, and as the influence of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national government remains largely confined to the four-square-mile fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, numbers, even as they pour out of that hemorrhaging land, are eternally up for grabs. There is no way most of them can be accurate. They are, at best, a set of approximate notations in a nightmare that is beyond measurement.

    Here, nonetheless, is an attempt to tell a little of the Iraqi story by those numbers:

    Iraq is now widely considered # 1--when it comes to being the ideal jihadist training ground on the planet. "If Afghanistan was a Pandora's box which when opened created problems in many countries, Iraq is a much bigger box, and what's inside much more dangerous," comments Mohammed al-Masri, a researcher at Amman's Centre for Strategic Studies. CIA analysts predicted just this in a May 2005 report leaked to the press. ("A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.")

    Iraq is # 2: It now ranks as the world's second most unstable country, ahead of war-ravaged or poverty-stricken nations like Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Congo, and North Korea, according to the 2007 Failed States Index, issued recently by the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine. (Afghanistan, the site of our other little war, ranked eigthth.) Last year and the year before, Iraq held fourth place on the list. Next year, it could surge to number one.

    Number of American troops in Iraq, June 2007: Approximately 156,000.

    Number of American troops in Iraq, May 1, 2003, the day President Bush declared "major combat operations" in that country "ended": Approximately 130,000.

    Number of Sunni insurgents in Iraq, May 2007: At least 100,000, according to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar on his most recent visit to the country.

    American military dead in the surge months, February 1-June 26, 2007: 481.

    American military dead, February-June 2006: 292.

    Number of contractors killed in the first three months of 2007: At least 146, a significant surge over previous years. (Contractor deaths sometimes go unreported and so these figures are likely to be incomplete.)

    Number of American troops Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and other Pentagon civilian strategists were convinced would be stationed in Iraq in August 2003, four months after Baghdad fell:): 30,000 to 40,000, according to Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks in his bestselling book, Fiasco.

    Number of armed "private contractors" now in Iraq: At least 20,000-30,000, according to the Washington Post. (Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestseller Blackwater, puts the figure for all private contractors in Iraq at 126,000.)

    Percentage of US deaths from roadside bombs: (IEDs): 70.9 percent in May 2007; 35 percent in February 2007 as the surge was beginning.

    Percentage of registered US supply convoys (guarded by private contractors) attacked: 14.7 percent in 2007 (through May 10); 9.1 percent in 2006; 5.4 percent in 2005.

    Percentage of Baghdad not controlled by US (and Iraqi) security forces more than four months into the surge: 60 percent, according to the US military.

    Number of attacks on the Green Zone, the fortified heart of Baghdad where the new $600 million American embassy is rising and the Iraqi government largely resides: More than eighty between March and the beginning of June, 2007, according to a UN report. (These attacks, by mortar or rocket, from "pacified" Red-Zone Baghdad, are on the rise and now occur nearly daily.)

    Size of US embassy staff in Baghdad: More than 1,000 Americans and 4,000 third-country nationals.

    Staff US Ambassador Ryan Crocker considers appropriate to the "diplomatic" job: The ambassador recently sent "an urgent plea" to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for more personnel. "The people here are heroic," he wrote. "I need more people, and that's the thing, not that the people who are here shouldn't be here or couldn't do it." According to the Washington Post, the Baghdad embassy, previously assigned fifteen political officers, now will get eleven more; the economic staff will go from nine to twenty-one.

    US air strikes in Iraq during the surge months: Air Force planes are dropping bombs at more than twice the rate of a year ago, according to the Associated Press. "Close support missions" are up 30 percent to forty percent. And this surge of air power seems, from recent news reports, still to be on the rise.

    Number of years Gen. Petraeus, commander of the surge operation, predicts that the US will be engaged in Iraq counterinsurgency operations: Nine to ten years.

    Number of years American troops might have to remain garrisoned at US bases in Iraq: Fifty-four, according to the "Korea model" now being considered for that country.

    Number of years before the Iraqi security forces are capable of taking charge: "A couple of years," according to US Army Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the Iraq Assistance Group.

    Amount of "reconstruction" money invested in the CIA's key asset in the new Iraq, the Iraqi National Intelligence Service: $3 billion, according to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar.

    Number of Iraqis who have fled their country since 2003: Estimated to be between 2 millionand 2.2 million, or nearly one in ten Iraqis. According to independent reporter Dahr Jamail, at least 50,000 more refugees are fleeing the country every month.

    Number of Iraqi refugees who have been accepted by the United States: Fewer than 500. (Under international and congressional pressure, the Bush administration has finally agreed to admit another 7,000 Iraqis by year's end.)

    Number of Iraqis who are now internal refugees in Iraq since 2003: At least 1.9 million, according to the UN.

    Percentage of refugees, internal and external, under the age of twelve: 55 percent, according to the President of the Red Crescent Society.

    Percentage of Baghdadi children age three to ten, exposed to a major traumatic event in the last two years: 47 percent, according to a World Health Organization survey of 600 children. 14 percent showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In another study of 1,090 adolescents in Mosul, that figure reached 30 percent.

    Number of Iraqi doctors who have fled the country since 2003: An estimated 12,000 of the country's 34,000 registered doctors since 2003, according to the Iraqi Medical Association. The Association reports that another 2,000 doctors have been slain in those years.

    Number of Iraqi refugees created since January 2007: An estimated 250,000.

    Percentage of Iraqis now living on less than $1 a day: 54 percent, according to the UN.

    Percentage of Iraqis who do not have regular access to clean water: 70 percent, according to the World Health Organization. (80 percent "lack effective sanitation.")

    Rate of chronic child malnutrition: 21 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

    Number of Iraqis held in American prisons in their own country: 17,000 by March 2007, almost 20,000 by May 2007 and surging.

    Average number of Iraqis who died violently each day in 2006: 100 -- and this is undoubtedly an underestimate, since not all deaths are reported.

    Number of Iraqis who have died violently since January 2007: 15,000 -- again, certainly an undercount.

    Percentage of seriously wounded who don't survive, based on the above calculation: Nearly 70 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

    Number of university professors who have been killed since 2003: More than 200, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education.

    Percentage of Americans who approve of the President's actions in Iraq: 23 percent, according to the latest post-surge Newsweek poll. The President's overall approval rating stood at 26 percent in this poll, just three points above those of only one president, Richard Nixon at his Watergate worst, and Bush's polling figures are threatening to head into that territory. In the latest, now two-week old NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 10 percent of Americans think the "surge" has made things better in Iraq, 54 percent worse.

    The question is: What word best describes the situation these Iraqi numbers hint at? The answer would probably be: No such word exists. "Genocide" has been beaten into the ground and doesn't apply. "Civil war," which shifts all blame to the Iraqis (withdrawing Americans from a country its troops have not yet begun to leave), doesn't faintly cover the matter.

    If anything catches the carnage and mayhem that was once the nation of Iraq, it might be a comment by the head of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, in 2004. He warned: "The gates of hell are open in Iraq." At the very least, the "gates of hell" should now officially be considered miles behind us on the half-destroyed, well-mined highway of Iraqi life. Who knows what IEDs lie ahead? We are, after all, in the underworld.


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    Moderator Moderator Gregoshi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    I get the point you are trying to make Xiahou. While it is an interesting shift in perception for the parties you cited, I think it may be too late unless such a viewpoint sweeps across a larger section of the media. It is a bit refreshing to know that somebody is seeing something positive going on in Iraq as I've been really bothered that we weren't doing any good there.
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    Member Member Alexander the Pretty Good's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Those numbers paint an incomplete picture at best, Zak. Most of them don't address pre-Surge conditions, and not all of them are necessarily negative changes.

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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Iraq win bloody hell

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    Member Member Spetulhu's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Hope is a virtue, and the virtuous always win. Don't they?
    If you're fighting fair you've made a miscalculation.

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    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    According to Englehardt's numbers, we've got 156k US troops, 25k contractors, our allies, plus those Iraqi units that pass muster.

    This means we're short and that the surge will be nothing but a shell game in the long run -- even though the effort to suppress Bagdad is having some effect.

    Guerilla/terrorist forces are suppressed by the tactics we are using, but (historically) only when occupier v guerilla numbers reach a ratio of at least 7-1. The recommended level is 10-1.

    If there truly are 100,000 opposition force fighters, that means roughly 750k worth of usable troops will be needed to suppress the vast bulk of the violence and establish a lasting sense of stability. My best guess is that we're no more than 2/3 of the way there in numbers.

    Even if the numbers are half those claimed (50k) that means a force of roughly 500k to suppress the guerilla/terrorist forces. The coalition is providing a little less than half of that total now -- are Iraqi forces up to providing the other 60%?

    Question to any of our military types. Are you aware of anything in the way of force multipliers that can change that 10-1 ratio?
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Here's more sense from the Brookings Institute:
    Today, Congress, too, faces a pivotal choice on Iraq. The moment that Congress enacts a law constricting the president's freedom of action in Iraq, it buys a considerable share of responsibility for the war's outcome. Will tomorrow's narrative be that the strategic military situation in Iraq was starting to improve in 2007 but Congress pulled the plug anyway—emboldening Islamist extremists throughout the region and demoralizing all our friends? If so, perhaps it's not President Bush who needs political cover from his opponents but they who want political cover from him.
    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh
    According to Englehardt's numbers, we've got 156k US troops, 25k contractors, our allies, plus those Iraqi units that pass muster.

    This means we're short and that the surge will be nothing but a shell game in the long run -- even though the effort to suppress Bagdad is having some effect.
    You're forgetting the almost 350k of Iraqi security forces Seamus. Regardless, I have disdain for such a hard and fast "formula" that only implies one way to success- it's never that simple. You might say Gen Petraeus wrote the book on counterinsurgencies- if anyone can pull it off at this point, it would be him. Anyone know if the 10-1 type figures made it into his book?
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    Vermonter and Seperatist Member Uesugi Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh
    Question to any of our military types. Are you aware of anything in the way of force multipliers that can change that 10-1 ratio?
    I would bet that having highly mobile units in the area would help make the ratio a bit more forgiving, but even if every infantry squad has an APC, or Blackhawk they still can't be everywhere at once....
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    NYT...excuse me, I need to go check Hell for snowflakes...

    Okay, I'm back, and it's not snowing. Raining and cloudy, but not snowing.

    Oh, and I find it funner when some people don't respond to the NYT article, they just spit back an article of their own. 'Can not compute...article...must reinforce own notions...'

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    Moderator Moderator Gregoshi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Crazed Rabbit
    Oh, and I find it funner when some people don't respond to the NYT article, they just spit back an article of their own. 'Can not compute...article...must reinforce own notions...'
    I've noticed that in another thread or two recently - standard topics but with a twist. The discussion is supposed to be about the twist, but falls back on the same old, same old.
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    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Crazed Rabbit
    Oh, and I find it funner when some people don't respond to the NYT article, they just spit back an article of their own. 'Can not compute...article...must reinforce own notions...'
    That would be directed at moi. I'm sorry you found the Brooking Institute's overview to be, well, what exactly? A dodge? A distraction?

    The propaganda war in September will be all about whether or not we should "stay the course" for the foreseeable future, and I see it's starting early. Broad overviews are entirely appropriate when trying to sort out the dung that will be flung about in the monkey cage. Apparently the NYT editorial was so well-received by the White House that they've been faxing and emailing it to every press representative and congressman under the sun.

    What the editorial fails to address is the lack of political progress. In fairness, they mention it in the last sentence or two, and it isn't really the focus of their essay. Nevertheless, without political reconciliation, military progress is a game without an ending. I'm disgusted that the Iraqi parliament insisted on taking their August vacation, while our soldiers continue to fight and die in the streets.

    That General Petraeus will report "progress" in September is a foregone conclusion. Given his wholesale embrace by the Bush administration, I fear he will become the latest prop for the President to continue his policies. There's an article about the President's public use of Petraeus here.

    It's nice, though, that the right-wing Orgahs have found something to crow about in the New York Times.
    Last edited by Lemur; 07-31-2007 at 07:05.
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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Uesugi Kenshin
    I would bet that having highly mobile units in the area would help make the ratio a bit more forgiving, but even if every infantry squad has an APC, or Blackhawk they still can't be everywhere at once....
    I think its feet on ground patrolling the zone not equipment that is the key. APC's and Blackhawks would be great from getting from A to B, for a non combat patrol in an urban area it still comes down to feet.

    I'm pretty sure the 'best' model would be whatever the Brits did in Northern Ireland... and learning from their mistakes too.
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Guerilla/terrorist forces are suppressed by the tactics we are using, but (historically) only when occupier v guerilla numbers reach a ratio of at least 7-1. The recommended level is 10-1.
    There was an article the other week which used those figures ,but it was a ratio at 10-1 of the population not the guerillas , it noted that in South Armagh the British army was at a ratio of 8-1 yet couldn't even drive on the roads . When you add police numbers to the army it changes the ratio even more

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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    I assume that is 1/10th of the population not 10 times the pop...
    Our genes maybe in the basement but it does not stop us chosing our point of view from the top.
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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    All is not lost, qualifying for the cup that what nobody could. Now win it, that should give them something to do.

  22. #22
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiahou
    You're forgetting the almost 350k of Iraqi security forces Seamus. Regardless, I have disdain for such a hard and fast "formula" that only implies one way to success- it's never that simple. You might say Gen Petraeus wrote the book on counterinsurgencies- if anyone can pull it off at this point, it would be him. Anyone know if the 10-1 type figures made it into his book?
    If Petraeus wrote the book on counterinsurgencies, then perhaps he will fight a counterinsurgency with great success. The problem with Iraq is that it's not the insurgency that's the main problem, it's disorder. There are goodness knows how many "sides" (if one can call them that) in Iraq, and their main target is not the Americans, but each other. Indeed, it might make things easier for Petraeus if they did indeed have the Americans as their principal target. But they don't. They're going to wait the Americans out, perhaps occasionally bombing them to get them credibility and support, but they're looking for a share of power (in whatever form) in post-occupation Iraq. It might be a share of political power they're after, or it might just be power as a local mafia boss, but the formula is fairly similar - get some supporters together, make sure they won't defect by finding some common enemies (other Iraqs being the easiest targets) to victimise, then buy some officials who will look the other way when you do your stuff.

    To tell the truth, this disorder shouldn't really matter to us, but for two factors.

    1. Iraq has lots of oil.
    2. The countries around Iraq have lots of oil.

    As long as Iraq can't stand up for itself as a buffer between the surrounding countries, the disorder will spread to and draw in the surrounding countries. If we lose Iraq as a potential source of oil, it's bad luck. But if we lose the neighbouring countries as well, it will be disaster. The problem with Iraq is not Iraq itself, but its aftermath. Our goal should be to ensure a strong Iraq that can hold off the neighbouring states and keep itself within itself. This is a primarily political goal, via political means. The military may give you some time to pursue these political goals, but they cannot solve them by themselves.

    The question to ask is: are the political parties any closer to extending their authority over the whole of Iraq? AFAICS, if one takes away the American support which will inevitably end, the answer is no.

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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    They need something to unite the people and spread the love, maybe hold the next Tour de France there or something.


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    EB II Romani Consul Suffectus Member Zaknafien's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    actually, according to Petraeus' own doctrine in FM 3-24, we dont have near enough forces still to pacify Baghdad. The "surge" is a shell game to keep the war going at any cost. Its downright criminal the lengths these men will go to to maintain their profits.


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    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaknafien
    actually, according to Petraeus' own doctrine in FM 3-24, we dont have near enough forces still to pacify Baghdad. The "surge" is a shell game to keep the war going at any cost. Its downright criminal the lengths these men will go to to maintain their profits.
    I have never accepted your premise that the war is being purposefully run in a "low-intensity but long duration so that we can milk the money cow" fashion.

    I still worry, however, that Patreus is not being given the full support to actually win/suppress this thing. I worry that our government/nation has not truly accepted the need to increase the Navy, Marines, AND put the Army up to 1.5 million boots so that we can actually apply the appropriate amount of force to win these kind of wars.

    Xiahou: Hadn't known that the ISF had managed to field 350k of fairly reliable troops. Where'd you get that? Obviously, if they're all more or less field ready, that would get us almost to a 7-1. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Patreus is enjoying a measure of success?

    Rebuilding a nation is not a quick process. There will always be an insurgency as -- even if all of your personnel qualify for sainthood -- they are still "damn furriners" to the locals. Suppressing that insurgency takes boots, time, and a track record of diminishing success on the part of the guerillas until they (save for the inevitable 0.01% whack jobs) finally call it quits. The USA marginalized the insurgency in the Phillipines (1899-1903) in about 4 years -- and that was an almost completely "local" insurgency. To expect faster results with fewer troops per rebel in Iraq seems silly.

    Pan-man and the Lemury one, as they often do, have hit upon the biggest potential problem issue of all -- Iraq's ability to move "forward." So far, too many of them are choosing a tribalistic model and reveling in a level of graft and corruption that makes the Mexican govt. seem like a group of amateurs. This will cripple any hope of a Democratic Republic of Iraq just as -- if not more certainly than -- guerilla warfare. It is at least possible to shoot the guerillas and make them stop. This is the harder problem.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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    Vermonter and Seperatist Member Uesugi Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Papewaio
    I think its feet on ground patrolling the zone not equipment that is the key. APC's and Blackhawks would be great from getting from A to B, for a non combat patrol in an urban area it still comes down to feet.

    I'm pretty sure the 'best' model would be whatever the Brits did in Northern Ireland... and learning from their mistakes too.
    That was pretty much my point. Even if each squad is equipped with an APC or Blackhawk (which is definitely not the case) they will not be able to manage the insurgency at this point because we just don't have enough people on the ground. Forces equipped to be highly mobile will be able to cover a little bit more ground and will be slightly more effective at suppressing the insurgency, but in the end you still need a lot more men on the ground than we have to ensure relative stability.
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    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh
    This will cripple any hope of a Democratic Republic of Iraq just as -- if not more certainly than -- guerilla warfare. It is at least possible to shoot the guerillas and make them stop.
    Actually, counterinsurgency doctrine would suggest that it is not possible to shoot the guerillas to make them stop. Not to say that patrols shouldn't shoot, or that extremists shouldn't die, but rather that without political reconciliation, victory is impossible.

    To win, all a guerilla or insurgent has to do is not lose. To lose, all an occupier (or liberator, if you will) has to do is not win. It's a bad equation for the occupier, and the only way to change it is to deny the enemy support amongst the populace. And the only way to do that is to create a new political reality, something that cannot be accomplished by armed forces alone.

    Right now every faction in Iraq thinks that it will get to control the death camps and the oil fields. They have zero history of compromise, and less of clean government.
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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh
    Xiahou: Hadn't known that the ISF had managed to field 350k of fairly reliable troops. Where'd you get that?
    Again from Brookings.
    The State of Iraq: An Update
    Iraqi Security Forces (in thousands) 0 136 168 266 349
    Those numbers are for May of 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 respectively.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur
    That would be directed at moi. I'm sorry you found the Brooking Institute's overview to be, well, what exactly? A dodge? A distraction?
    How do you find that from their homepage? It's obviously from the Saban center, but I can't seem to find it via navigating. Regardless of the "overview" you posted, this now graces the top of their homepage.
    As Iraqi lawmakers prepare to recess for the summer, the debate over Iraq policy continues on Capitol Hill. Following a recent trip from Iraq, Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack argue that the U.S. is making progress there. And Peter Rodman argues for "resisting calls for any U.S. withdrawal not warranted by conditions in Iraq."
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"


    Cataphract Of The City

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    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iraq: "A War We Just Might Win"

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur
    Actually, counterinsurgency doctrine would suggest that it is not possible to shoot the guerillas to make them stop. Not to say that patrols shouldn't shoot, or that extremists shouldn't die, but rather that without political reconciliation, victory is impossible.
    I meant that sardonically, as in shooting everyone whose involved in the corruption would be impossible as it seems endemic -- whle killing insurgents is useful it is not, as you note, the basis for victory. I should probably have tried for clarity more than humor, please excuse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur
    To win, all a guerilla or insurgent has to do is not lose. To lose, all an occupier (or liberator, if you will) has to do is not win. It's a bad equation for the occupier, and the only way to change it is to deny the enemy support amongst the populace. And the only way to do that is to create a new political reality, something that cannot be accomplished by armed forces alone.
    Agree with you absolutely as to the new "political reality." However, an insurgency must do much more than simply continue in order to win. They must continue long enough for the occupier to "take its marbles and go home" or they must develop the capability to defeat the occupier in the field. The occupier, on the other had, does not need to eradicate the insurgency -- close to impossible in terms of absolutes -- but to degrade the insurgency's ability to de-stabilize the nascent "political reality" that is being evoked. Endemic corruption can greatly slow the establishment of a new "political reality" and therefore make the job exceedingly difficult.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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