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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

# Posted 8:11 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THERE WOULD BE A MASSIVE SLAUGHTER AFTER OUR WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ? From Meet the Press, on Sunday:
[David] BROOKS: Well, if we leave, we could see 250,000 Iraqis die...So are we willing to prevent 10,000 Iraqi deaths a month at the cost of 125 Americans [per month]? That’s a tough moral issue, but it’s also a tough national interest issue because we don’t know what the consequences of getting out are. And the frustration of watching the debate in Washington, very few people are willing to, to grapple with those two facts, that there’s—that the surge will not work in the short-term, but getting out will be cataclysmic. And you see politicians on both sides evading one of those two facts. But you’ve got to grapple with them both...

[TIM] RUSSERT: But, David Brooks, you, you will hear a lot of people will say, you know, “The administration has made misjudgments before about WMD, about the level of troops needed, about being greeted as liberators. They could be wrong about what would flow from a redeployment of American troops.”

MR. BROOKS: Absolutely they could be wrong.
That's not a bad question for Russert to ask a devil's advocate. I imagine that a lot of Democrats deeply believe that talk of a post-withdrawal genocide is just another Bush administration scare tactic. But Russert's phrasing of the question elides some important differences. The belief that Saddam had WMD was the considered opinion of both the US intelligence community and numerous foreign intelligence services, not to mention Saddam's own generals. In contrast, there was a bitter and partisan debate about how exactly American soldiers would be greeted in Iraq.

So, then, what degree of consensus is there on the potential for post-withdrawal violence? Clearly, since this is a question about potential, any answer must be speculative. Yet serious observers seem persuaded that massive violence is almost inevitable. Russert himself is well-aware of that fact. Earlier in the show, he asked Russ Feingold the following question:
MR. RUSSERT: John Burns, the bureau chief in Baghdad for The New York Times, who’s lived there for some time, offered these words this week: “It seems to me incontrovertible that the most likely outcome of an American withdrawal any time soon would be cataclysmic violence. And I find that to be widely agreed” among “Iraqis, including Iraqis who strongly opposed the invasion.” Is—are you concerned that we leave behind violence, catastrophe, genocide?
Sadly, Feingold's answer was no. He only expected things to get better, since "it is our occupation, as it’s perceived, that leads to so much of this free- floating violence throughout the country."

Somehow, in spite of all their criticism of the Bush administration for its naive assumptions about and failure to plan for post-Saddam Iraq, leading Democrats are being aggressively naive about and refuse to plan for post-America Iraq. Perhaps they, too, have departed from the reality-based community.

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(23) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
No. They are still in the reality-based community.
They know what will happen. They know what happened in SEA.
Thing is, it doesn't bother them.
But they know it bothers/would bother the rest of us, so they have to lie.
Make no mistake. I didn't say they are naive. I said they are deliberately lying.
Genocide will happen and they don't care.
But they know we do.
So they lie.
 
It's been 30 years and they still deny anything bad happened in SE Asia after we left there. Re-education camps? Year zero? Killing fields? Boat people? Down the memory hole with it all.
 
Sadly, the Democrats don't know what will happen when we leave Iraq, and (of course) neither do you.

Membership in the "reality-based community" is not predicated on a willingness to believe speculations that you find intuitively obvious.

I can claim the following, just as easily as you can make the corresponding opposite claims:

1. Current US troop levels in Iraq are insufficient to provide the security necessary to allow the establishment of a liberal democracy there.
2. The citizens of the US will not allow a draft to be raised to supplement the number of troops in Iraq at any time in the next decade.
3. The citizens of the US will not allow US troops to remain in Iraq for the next decade at a cost of roughly US$200 billion and 1,000 US lives per year.
4. If the vast majority of US troops leave Iraq within the next decade, there will be massive carnage in Iraq as a result of an all-out civil war.
5. Therefore, our invasion of Iraq will inevitably cause hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of deaths that would not have occurred if we had allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power.
6. At best, Iraq will ultimately be ruled by either another strongman (whose fealty to the US cannot be guaranteed) or by a democratically-elected parliamentary government that institutionalizes sharia law and is hostile to Israel and unsympathetic towards the US.

I have no expertise in the field of foreign affairs, and I do not believe that stating claims that I find intuitively obvious makes me a realist. (For example, I would not try to argue that the claims I make above are true, because I don't know that they are true.) However, at this point in time, I see no firm empirical evidence that my claims are in fact false. They have just as much validity as any other ill-informed claims that one could make about the situation in Iraq.

I have tried to raise the moral dimensions of the process we used to make the original decision to invade Iraq in this forum before. Although the notion of providing liberty (or, more precisely, establishing a western liberal democracy) in the Middle East can be an inspiring, animating principle, we are morally obligated to consider the possibility that our attempts may fail spectacularly, and that we will be forced into an appalling moral calculus if we fail to realistically assess the likelihood that we will succeed. In other words, although our initial motivations may be noble, the decision to act must be based critically on knowledge of the real world.

I don't know whether our foreign policy experts have the tools they need to help craft the best way forward in Iraq, and (since I'm not as partisan as David) I don't blame the Democrats for failing to unveil a plan. The situation in Iraq may be so far beyond recovery that the consequences for Iraqis of our invasion are now independent of the date or the details of our inevitable withdrawal, and we are left considering the cost to us of remaining there.
 
NP. Nice comments. But wrong subject.
The dems are saying there will be no genocide or massive violence.
Or, in some cases, saying there will be but what the hell.
IOW, they know what is happening and will happen and they don't care.
Those who insist it won't happen are not so stupid to believe themselves.
They are lying.
What might happen in ten years or so is not the question.
 
Richard,

No, it isn't the wrong subject.

First, I'm trying to make the point that you don't know what will happen if/when we leave Iraq any more than I do. You and I may believe it's likely that there will be mass death, but our intuition now is just as reliable as the educated guesses (and/or our hopes, dreams and fantasies) that got us into Iraq in the first place.

Secondly, if a lawmaker believes that there will be mass death in Iraq regardless of when we leave, and that we must leave eventually, then the proper consideration for the date we leave is the time-dependent cost of staying. I don't know that they are right or wrong, but they aren't necessarily being inconsistent.

I have no idea whether certain Democrats are lying about their true beliefs about Iraq, and neither do you. I also don't have an emotional need to believe that they are lying.
 
Lots of people might have believed Saddam had those weapons, but it was not true then and it is not true now. you cannot base your philosophy of international relations on a lie.
 
The United States has spent more than $340 billion dollars on Iraq to date. While they continue to discuss a withdrawal timeline thousands of people around the world go to be hungry each night. The US government agreed to support the Millennium Development Goals that will help to end global poverty by 2015.. Nonprofit groups such as the Borgen Project are doing everything they can to bring awareness, both politically and personally, to the situation. This foreign policy is not effective when thousands die each day.
 
It gets very weary reading the same old pro and con arguments about whether we should have taken out Saddam and the even more tired "Bush Lied" BS, these rehashes (and talk about cost, about poverty elsewhere, or about any other cause that people want to claim are being harmed) are simply not applicable to the question at hand, these things have happened already and long ago. Let's drop them, okay? (no, I didn't think so)

Neither, for me, is the proper question "what will happen if we leave?" I think it's true that we don't, none of us, know with any degree of certainty what will happen, though I believe it's a fair assessment that things will be worse rather than better.

The question for me is a moral one. We took out Saddam, they voted three times in greater percentages than our own electorate, but because they're not a fully functioning government a few scant months later, we should now just abandon them for political expediency here in the United States?

I'm sorry, but that is just wrong. If anyone reading this doesn't know that in their heart, they're colder people than anyone in my life.
 
Anonymous,

Do you believe that the citizens of the US will approve a draft to increase troop levels in Iraq?

If not, then do you believe that it is possible to resolve the Iraq quandary with the troop levels we have?

If so, then how long do you believe that the citizens of the US should wait for this resolution to occur? 10 years? 20 years? Is it worth 10,000 US lives and US$2 trillion? Is it worth 20,000 lives and US$4 trillion?

Simply accusing people who are trying to grab onto reality with both hands of being "cold" won't get us anywhere. Please, put some numbers on the table, and then justify them.

For the record, even though I strongly opposed the invasion, I believe that we now have a moral obligation to help the Iraqi people, and I see no realisitc way to fulfill that obligation. Complaining about Democrats, as our host enjoys doing from time to time, doesn't get us anywhere.
 
Call me cold, but I long for the moment that the United States, let alone any other country, recognizes that it is not morally or legally responsible for the atrocities committed by others on others in their own country. As long as the civil war in Iraq poses no imminent threat to the security of my nation, it is up to them to sort things out, even if the cost is hundreds of thousands of lives. Humanitarian intervention, if there really is such a thing, almost always leads to more deaths than otherwise.
 
Do you believe that the citizens of the US will approve a draft to increase troop levels in Iraq?

The citizens have nothing to say about that, it's the elected officials that make those decisions. I do believe that the "Rangel" style posturing is just that, an attempt to create a draft so as to garner "Vietnam" style opposition to the war to bolster the "cut and run" mind-set that permeates the immoral side of the equation.

If not, then do you believe that it is possible to resolve the Iraq quandary with the troop levels we have?

Yes. And I do appreciate your use of "quandary" vs. the usual "quagmire" canard.

If so, then how long do you believe that the citizens of the US should wait for this resolution to occur? 10 years? 20 years? Is it worth 10,000 US lives and US$2 trillion? Is it worth 20,000 lives and US$4 trillion?

You're applying time and money arguments in an aggressive way, so as to deflect attention from the moral argument I raised, sorry, it won't work, either we proceed morally regardless of the traffic cones you're dropping off the back of a municipal truck, or we don't. Cost and time are irrelevant to our obligation to follow through on what we initiated.

Simply accusing people who are trying to grab onto reality with both hands of being "cold" won't get us anywhere. Please, put some numbers on the table, and then justify them.

Just did.

For the record, even though I strongly opposed the invasion, I believe that we now have a moral obligation to help the Iraqi people, and I see no realisitc way to fulfill that obligation.

Well, reading the usual suspects would lead anyone to believe that all is lost. Do you read the daily releases by any number of agencies that are not the MSM? Do you read Roggio or Yon? Or are you simply dedicated to defeat with plugs in your ears and hands over your eyes?

Complaining about Democrats, as our host enjoys doing from time to time, doesn't get us anywhere.

Nor does chanting "Bush Lied" for years upon years, or yelling "Halliburton" or "No blood for oil." Indeed, that kind of mindless chanting will get us somewhere, but that place is not somewhere I want to go.
 
Just did.

At the risk of placing us firmly on the junior high school playground, you have done no such thing.

Noting that we have a moral obligation to the Iraqis, and then asserting that we have the tools and the talent already in place to satisfy this obligation, is not an argument.

Let me put this another way. Sometimes there really are traffic cones on the road, and pretending that they are not there can be disastrous. Perhaps our elected officials should suddenly pour US money and lives into Iraq at an ever-increasing rate until they are voted out of office, in the hope that our feelings of moral obligation will eventually bring success (for some definition of success). As we have seen, however, where there is a will, there is not necessarily a way.
 
Noting that we have a moral obligation to the Iraqis, and then asserting that we have the tools and the talent already in place to satisfy this obligation, is not an argument.

You're right npurmudgeon, It's not an argument, it's a statement of fact.
 
A couple of interesting links:

20 Months--MINIMUM--to get our troops out even if we wanted, and then it will be bloody as guys shoot at us retreting.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/iraq/bal-te.withdraw15jul15,0,4914397.story?coll=bal-home-headlines

The other thing is a MUST see for anyone considering the issue of a pullout from Iraq:

"Last Flight from DaNang"--probably the best work of television journalism in the Vietnam War--possibly one of the best pieces in all TV news history.

http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=659818n?source=search_video
 
Anonymous,

As you wish. Perhaps the same sort of emotional thinking that got us into Iraq in the first place will ultimately allow us to prevail.

Obviously, though, many of the rest of us have no idea how that will happen.
 
Brooks admitted that he made up that figure of 10,000 dead Iraqis a month. It is a figment of his imagination. The real question we are facing is how many more Americans will die for the fantasy of installing a Jeffersonian democracy in the imaginary nation of Iraq. I think the correct answer is Zero.
 
I'm glad that Brooks made that comment on the MSM and hopefully more people will realize the consequences of leaving Iraq before the job's done.
 
Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month? Or Is It More?

By Michael Schwartz, After Downing Street. Posted July 6, 2007.
http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/56124/
http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/56124
 
I will trump your study with a new study:
New critique of the 2004 Lancet Iraq death toll study
 
davod: Nice try.
 
Leaving Iraq before the job's done.

What Job to be done?
 
Whether or not we should have gone there is now a mute point. We are there now. How the war was carried out after we routed Saddam is also past history. The point is will there be a slaughter of Sunnis and Shi'a Kurds (again) if we leave. Plain and simple, until the surge began the start of genocide against the Sunnis was ongoing so why would anyone believe that if we left it would not restart on a massive scale. This has been the history of the modern world beyond Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and we see it in Darfur today. And since the world has said the right words but will not take action in Darfur, the Shi’a will have little to fear from the world community, especially with Iran backing them up. The Sunni nations on the fringes of Iraq most likely will be restrained by the presence of Iran and Hezbollah.

And yes, unfortunately, the Democrats are liars. I didn’t want to believe it, but their denying of the early accomplishments of the surge have proven it to me. They, Senator Rein in particular, refuse to even discuss the issue of what might happen if we leave and have presented no plan for avoiding genocide. They and Kennedy had a bit of an excuse in Vietnam, but none now. In my mind if they somehow force a premature withdraw from Iraq and genocide results, they are guilty of at a minimum manslaughter of the Sunnis and the Kurds. And if al Qaeda takes over Iraq and we are attacked, they should be tried for aiding the enemy. Too strong you say. Well, when politicians place political victory over our national and personal security they deserve to be tried for treason, but that is constitutionally mandated and difficult to prove. The Democrats present position encourages our enemy at a minimum.

I want to know how they believe we can remove 160,000 American troops and equipment safely from Iraq quickly while under fire from al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents, Shi’a insurgents and Iranian Quads troops. That would make Dunkirk look easy.
 
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