Wednesday, May 02, 2007

# Posted 1:34 PM by Taylor Owen  

LONG TERM PEACEKEEPING OR VIOLENCE REDUCTION+INT'L EFFORT?: This morning, Bush defined success in Iraq as an 'acceptable level of violence'. This argument ties withdrawal of American forces to the level of violence. In many ways, this logic is as problematic as a benchmarked timetable. If some insurgents want the US to leave, wouldn't they just stop fighting until they do, and if others want them to stay then there is no incentive to stop fighting. The US is of course fighting multiple wars. They are the antagonist against anti-occupation elements, some of which are Al-Qaeda linked. They are also a mitigating buffer against wider sectarian violence. These are very different wars. It seems to me that both macro policy options currently on the table (Bush's and the Dem's) insufficiantly capture the multiple sources, motives, and objectives of the violence.

One possible way of looking at it is as a choice between: 1. very long term commitment to large scale reconstruction and peacekeeping the sectarian violence, while accepting the level of anti-occupation attacks that will come with this; and, 2. withdrawal to halt at least the anti-occupation/al-qaeda violence, while seeking other means of halting the sectarian violence.

The former appears politically unfeasible, and the latter presents significant humanitarian risks.

In option 2, the question then becomes, if the US leaving will halt the anti-occupation attacks, then what, aside from the presence of US troops can be done to stop the sectarian violence? Here, I am afraid we have to get into a challenging discussion of regional/international efforts.

I just don't think that the US can win both of these wars. A choice is going to required.


(7) opinions -- Add your opinion


You've a great blog. Keep it up. The questions you ask are challenging and your opinions are carefully thought out.

Yes, the U.S. is trying to fight more than one war. I am concerned about your comments "politically unfeasible" and "significant humanitarian risks".

Americans have embraced "political correctness" and asked our military to use "rules of engagement" that guaranty our defeat. We've apparently become so concerned with humanitarian dangers that we have tied the hands of our armed forces.

By not using the power available to us, America has unwittingly become a party to creating a longer war and more American casualties. War is war. Bloody, brutal, unfair, and nasty. Innocent people will be killed along enemy troops and those not so innocent. We must see the enemy for what they are, and we must pound them into submission.

Why can we not divide Iraq into many zones, notify the people within those zones that they must leave immediately, and that we will precision bomb something within that area during the following month.

If we do this repeatedly the people of Iraq will eventually stop the violence in their midst. We must have their help to put down their civil war, terrorist activities, and threats to the world.

The psychological effect of such a campaign would be much enhanced by spreading appropriate educational propaganda to the Iraqi people. It is vital that in addition to limiting the exposure of our military forces, reducing our own casualties, stepping up the war damage, and impressing the enemy with our overwhelming power - that we carefully craft the message that the world will not allow these terrorists to exist.

Hmmm. Sorry for the rant.

Good blog.

Dixon...your prescriptions are extreme to say the least. The idea of precision bombing the regions of Iraq into submission for the sake of long term stability is abhorrent and yet, if it were to work, 10-15 years down the line I know I'll be saying "that Bush, he had to make some tough decisions...but I have to admit he got it right."
Dixon, I agree with you. The blog is great. This, however, is the line any politically correct or for this matter morally correct person must draw concerning your post. Why?

In your argument one civilian casuality more or less, does not matter if we can win the war quicker.

However, if your child was saved by the "rules of engagement" would you still believe hastening the war effort is worth the life of your son or daughter?

Killing children whilst trying the best to avoid their deaths, are casualities, I agree, of any war. But if we don't care about minimizing "significant humanitarian risks" the blood of children will be on our hands.

We may buy peace at the cost of the blood of innocent children but we will loose our conscience and morality.
Shorter Dixon: Only through terrorism can terrorism be halted.

Dixon should ask himself a question. If AQ was to send a video stating that, "Everyone in New York should leave. In a few months we will blow up something there. To avoid this, you should pull your expensive bases out of the Middle East and leave us in peace." Do you believe Americans would respond positively to this? What makes you think Sunni Iraqis would respond any differently?
I would think leaving behind a stable democratic government able to handle Iraq's problems itself would be the true measure of success.

My remarks stirred the pot. TeddyHawk calls my prescription extreme and abhorrent - but does not conclude that I am wrong. Anonymous No. 1 misses the point altogether. By warning the population within an area prior to attack with precision weapons, we would be clearly trying to avoid human casualties. Not create them. Anonymous No. 2 talks about evacuating New York before bombing it. Come on. Get real. That's not what I said or meant. I made five points:

(1) An area of perhaps 1/8th of a square mile (evacuated) would allow our military to select a specific target within. We are fighting a guerrilla was against an unstable and irrational enemy with our ground troops.

(2) The way we are fighting puts too many of our military people in danger, and at the same time limits the use of our superior technology.

(3) I would like to reduce both civilian and American casualties.

(4) I do not think Americans can solve the tribal and religious nature of the desert Arab population. I believe it has to be solved from within.

(5) The best we can hope for is to reduce their threat to both Israel and American interests,

Lastly, Timothy, if you delete the word "democratic" from your response, I agree completely.

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