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Thursday, September 06, 2007

# Posted 9:21 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

FIASCO REVISITED: Thomas Ricks' Fiasco is one of the most influential books about the war in Iraq. It was published just over a year ago, to considerable acclaim. It was only a few days ago, however, that I began to read the book.

One of the first things is noticed is a map that precedes the title page. The map is entitled "The Sunni 'Triangle': Heart of the Insurgency". That title speaks volumes about the dramatic changes in Iraq over the past six months.

A year ago, when Fiasco was published, it seemed delusional to hope that the US and its Iraqi allies could ever take back the Sunni provinces of Western Iraq. We understood the war in Iraq as essentially a civil war between Shi'ites and Sunnis. Since we had taken the side of the Shi'ites after the fall of Saddam, it seemed perfectly logical to assume that the most heavily Sunni parts of Iraq were the natural home of the insurgency.

Gen. Petraeus has up-ended that logic and shown that we can turn many of Iraq's Sunnis into our most effective allies -- more effective than most Shi'ites. This strategy has its perils, but those perils are almost infinitely preferable to the status quo of July 2006. Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor provided an overview of the dramatic changes in Anbar:
It's been six months since the so-called Anbar Awakening, when Sunni sheikhs joined US Marines in the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Sunni extremists may still have a presence here, but US military officials say that with the help of the expanding Iraqi security forces, they've driven most of what remains of Al Qaeda from the urban areas.

Violence has stayed down, dropping from 2,000 attacks in March to about 450 last month – as the number of Iraqi security forces has increased, from around 24,000 this spring to nearly 40,000 today.
A 75% reducation in attacks in what was once the heartland of the insurgency. Is there any hope of extending that progress to the rest of Iraq? There are good reasons to say 'no'. Whereas Anbar is all-Sunni, Baghdad is a mixed metropolis with vicious Sunni-Shi'ite violence. How can any US strategy succeed on such dangerous terrain?

A year ago, we were asking the same question about Anbar.

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(25) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
"Is there any hope of extending that progress to the rest of Iraq?"

Well David, the rest of Iraq is pretty calm (not that you'd read about it in the MSM) so to get that big a reduction in the rest of the country they'd have to convert to Buddhism and have the Dalai Lama in for a luncheon with tea and crumpets.
 
We understood the war in Iraq as essentially a civil war between Shi'ites and Sunnis. Since we had taken the side of the Shiites after the fall of Saddam

David, they make you and others to believe “ war in Iraq as essentially a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis if that the case as you understood them we will see this war from day one after Saddam removed its takes more than one year after the Iraqi lost the hope and the faith that these Americans come to help them all not few gangs who are neither Shiite’s more Sunni like Chalabi, Ala'awi, and other Iran crated clerics so the gangs that US support is far from the heart loving people for Iraqis.

It’s might worth to memorizing Tom Fox’s words when he wrote “Sanded in Baghdad”


I have to assume the racist attitudes of the security contractors stems from the necessity for a human being to dehumanize and marginalize another human being in order to kill them. Dehumanization is a mind game military-leaders the world over have used to indoctrinate recruits with and it also seems to be the case with these mercenary soldiers.

The colonialist attitudes are harder to grasp. Is colonialism something unique to white, male Westerners? (And I include myself in this category.) Do we see Iraq the same way as Kipling saw India, that of being “the white man’s burden” to bring Western civilization to the uncivilized Arabs and Kurds?

Those three days at the airport are woven deeply into my spirit. I’m wondering if I have swallowed poison that will harden or embitter me. Or perhaps I have been blessed with a homeopathic remedy of absorbing just enough poison to begin to cure me of my own subconscious racist and colonist tendencies and then be able to help others cure themselves. Time will tell.

This is inflamed the occupation David.
 
Boys in the Bubble
By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/books/review/Goldfarb.t.html?ex=1189310400&en=ea45684a6cdf7ea3&ei=5070
 
Ok, the other comments here are stupid.
But David, cmon.

Anbar Awakening?
Something that awakens can just as easily shut its eyes.

And I guess there's no point in going on about the Iraqi security forces, so...
 
To Anonymous : 1:26 AM

Then you are foolish and more stupid then. Can’t you restrain your attitude against others thoughts or respecting this space here, we come here discussing things not showing "Stupid: attitude.

Who are you? You think yourself a smart guy hah?
 
I was listening to NPR parsing the Anbar Awakening (I know, I know) and heard a very good point. The Sunni sheikhs finally got fed up with the depredations of Al-Qaeda, who are their co-religionists. Things wouldn't be improving without their cooperation. Nor will anything else improve without the Iraqis getting on board. That's far from a sure thing, on many issues.
 
Col. Peters made a good point last week. The most important aspect of the Anbar Awakening is that Sunni Muslim Arabs joined with United States forces to defeat Al Qaida.

There's no way Al Qaida can sugarcoat that. They can't pretend it's a religious war against Muslims, a sectarian war against Sunnis or a race war against Arabs. They lost because their ideology is so repugnant.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi, the founder of Anbar Awakening has a great line about Viet Nam:

One thing Sheikh Sattar keeps saying is he wants al-Anbar to be like Germany and Japan and South Korea were after their respective wars, with a long-term American presence helping ... put them back together," MacFarland said. "The negative example he cites is Vietnam. He says, yeah, so, Vietnam beat the Americans, and what did it get them? You know, 30 years later, they’re still living in poverty."

One reason the awakening is unlikely to "shut its eyes" is that Iraqis, insugents and Americans have had four years together now. Our side is way bettter than the insurgents and the Iraqi have figured this out.

ht InstaP
 
"Our side is way bettter than the insurgents and the Iraqi have figured this out."

Too bad many "Americans" Haven't!
 
Color me anti-wary--or lefty if you like name calling--but if we take the number of people who fled their country (2 million), the services that are not functioning--electricity etc; the daily killings of Americans and Iraqis; the simple fact that there is no govt that is truly functioning and the fact that corruption and theft are rampant at the highest levels, I do not see any "victory" in Iraq that is now possible or possible for the next few years. and I am not even mentioning the cost to us and the crappy shape our military is now in and the growth of Al Qaeda and OBL's very public appearances v ia video. As for the idea of keeping forces thee as we do in Germany et al: we have 35 thou in Germany at one base; we have 30 thou in S. Korea; and on and on--why do we protect countries that can protect themselves and we as taxpayers pay for it? and n ow, urn o Afghanisan and look what is going on! the larges opium crop ever and we are mired down against Taliban resurgence becausae we diverted forces to invade Iraq.
 
We understood the war in Iraq as essentially a civil war between Shi'ites and Sunnis. Since we had taken the side of the Shi'ites after the fall of Saddam, it seemed perfectly logical to assume that the most heavily Sunni parts of Iraq were the natural home of the insurgency.

Not to put too fine a point on it: bullshit.

The constant shriek of the Mooreonic Convergence -- the Press and international Leftoids, not that the two are distinct -- that the Sunni Ba'athists were "Minute Men", heroic patriotic defenders of their homeland -- made it clear to Shi'ites that whether or not the U.S. Army was "on their side" in some sense, the rest of the world was not -- one of the major components of the reaction to the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison was to paint the exclusively Sunni, mostly Ba'athist prisoners as heroes being harshly maltreated, and totally discount, in fact ignore, the suffering of the Shi'ia who were tortured and murdered in that same prison in their tens of thousands.

This is where Muqtada al-Sadr and the Shi'ia Death Squads come from, and painting the situation as an inevitable sectarian conflict is purely excuse-making by Leftoids who created the situation in the first place.

Regards,
Ric
 
The changes in Anbar started in AUG 2006 and became firm in SEP 2006 when 26 of 31 tribes turned on al Qaeda. Local police recruiting went from a trickle to hundreds then thousands. Per week.

The tribal nature of the provinces points out the problem of trying to look at Iraq via sectarian views. There is one thing that is actually much stronger than sect in Iraq: blood ties. The families, clans and tribes of Iraq cross provinces and sects and the affiliation order is: tribe first, sect far distant. Insurgents in Anbar were the disaffected and the killers who were willing to work for the highest paying side. al Qaeda, once started there, tried to do something which actually can work in Africa and other parts of the Middle East, but not in Iraq: marry into the tribes.

The tribal chiefs would not do so as al Qaeda were outsiders, and not worthy of marrying until they had settled down for a few generations. Unable to get that inroad, al Qaeda started killing tribal chiefs and that is when Anbar shifted... within two months it went from open to insurgency to counter-insurgency. This is not easy for the West to understand, and requires a mosaic view of Iraq to fit the pieces together to begin to scope out the workings of family, clan, tribe, religion, ethnicity, descent, education... our foreign policy has ignored such nicities for decades, and is inherently unreal and ungrounded because of our limited views of what culture is and how it plays into Nations and multiple Nations.

It is frightening to view Iraq through that lens... it points out a structural problem across the Middle East that, if unravelled, does not stop at Iraq. That also points out our myopia about warfare and what post-war situations mean, and how to address them. The West has faced this level of complexity and intertwining of clan, culture, religion, and poorly designed Nation states before. And failed, miserably, both on the liberal democracy and Communist side, Western modern views of economics first fails when put to this litmus test of blood and family and culture. This has led us down a garden path in which, just by having liberal democracy we believe that it is foreordained to win out as a viable system. History, however, is contingent upon many things, and liberal democracy is only now coming into a realm of real test by older views. It takes more, much more, than our loft views of diplomatic, intelligence, military and economic views to help win out... and we have lost those longer and wider views, and so find ourselves unready to pay the toll that liberty and freedom demand when making something better.

You could not get a Sunni/Shia civil war in Iraq, because those are just minor overlays on the more deep and complex culture there. For those to move the tribes would have to break. The US can only do that through turning the place into a glass parking lot. al Qaeda and Iran might manage it, but they would have little left to work with as the divides would not go as they expect them to. Iraq is not Iran, nor Saudi Arabia, nor Egypt, nor Jordan, nor Syria... these are the inheritors of being the neighbors of the Kurds. There is no analog to Iraq, but the tribal culture will make itself felt... that is why the West invented 'federalism' and multiple checks on different governments. That takes time to figure out, but it vests everyone in the good outcome of the Nation. And if we have a hard time understanding that here, with our views and history of it, then why should it be easy for anyone else to pick up? That said it can work... if you work at it. Maybe we can learn from this for ourselves before we lose that completely.
 
It is possible to have a religious war -Sunni against Shia, because the Sunni demogogues assert that Shia are polytheists (though the Shia do not hold Ali or Hussein as G-ds). The Shia could actually be a focal point for moderation in Islam, as they can assert from the murder of Ali and Hussein that the Caliphate was not as perfect or divinely inspired as some of the radical Islamists may pretend.

Most Sunni would be happy to be let alone by the nutballs, as would the Shia. The least successful in the modern world get into the religious vocations, where they issue self aggrandizing fatwas when ever they can get away with it.

Iran, in partucular, has a very corrupt body of imans, getting most of their income from what is the Islamic version of legalized prostitution- the Temporary Marriage. The secret is that Iranian women do not give children to losers, though they will take money and body fluids via temporary marriage. Persians in Iran are down to 51 percent, and any kind of legitimate election would topple the Iranian Imans.
 
Sorry to infiltrate this post, but...

''I respect the opinion that homosexuality is a grave sin from a Biblical perspective.''

Then, David, you also respect a lot of other, ridiculous things.

Can't you just say, instead, that you don't respect that opinion?

Not to get too technical, but essentially you're saying that: you take a stand on a moral issue, except against certain people... because what they believe is rooted biblically, and thereby to be respected.

Can you explain?
 
The 3:02 am anonymous comment was interesting in what was quoted about dehumanization and colonialism/imperialism. It is clear that the quoted author has started from preconceptions which makes his conclusions suspect.

First, colonialsim/imperialism is not a "white" or European phenomenon. Iraq is Mesopotamia, the heartland of many ancient empires. Right there that should be a clue that colonialism/imperialism is a human trait. Try the Japanese or Chinese or Mongols or Persians or Zulu or Aztecs or Incas or Ashanti or the Arabs or...

You get my point. There are too many examples of colonialism/imperialism in history to state that it belongs to only one people.

Second, western militaries do not dehumanize their soldiers. They want disciplined soldiers, not an NKVD hit squad.
 
The new Bin Laden video suggests that America abandon its fight in Iraq, because he says we can't win. To me this is good news. Bin Laden is afraid we might win. We must be doing better there than the defeatist lefties are willing to admit.
 
Color me anti-wary--or lefty if you like name calling--but if we take the number of people who fled their country, the services that are not functioning--electricity etc; the daily killings of Americans and Iraqis; the simple fact that there is no govt that is truly functioning and the fact that corruption and theft are rampant at the highest levels...


You've pretty much just described my great state of Massachusetts.
 
Still no charges against Osama bin Laden
 
The new Bin Laden video suggests that America abandon its fight in Iraq, because he says we can't win. To me this is good news. Bin Laden is afraid we might win. We must be doing better there than the defeatist lefties are willing to admit.

?????

People are now reading between the lines of the Bin Laden video as evidence that we are winning the war in Iraq?

Am I missing something here?
 
Mikey NTH
The 3:02 am anonymous comment….which makes his conclusions suspect.
First, colonialsim/imperialism is not a "white" or European phenomenon. Iraq is Mesopotamia, the heartland of many ancient empires.

Yes you are right but the Babylonians and Sumerians gave you the first ever Code of Law and taught you how to read and how to write, they build the civilization and raised the level of civilization no one could imagined. So they built not destroy human life’s , you need to do your homework to find out what they achieved.
I give you one example which your “colonialism/imperialism” you proud of I 969 when they landed on the moon they measured the distance between the earth and the moon and the difference in the finding was in meters from Babylonian measurements.


Try the Japanese or Chinese or Mongols or Persians or Zulu or Aztecs or Incas or Ashanti or the Arabs or...

To correct you Arabs had not colonialism/imperialism a lone as Arab as a human trait, the fact is Muslims which Arab part of many human diversity took Islam and its value to the limits and established their kingdom on pure value for humanity they built what every one was proud what they achieved when your “"white" or European” was living in complete darkness busy with bloody wars and distractions each others, again go and read what your colleges and schools studies in 1700 of those Islamic sciences books and achievements from math medicine and sociologist and social scientist by Ibn Khaldoun. So Islamic empire was not belongs to only one people, check out and be careful when you writs next time.


Second, western militaries do not dehumanize their soldiers. They want disciplined soldiers, not an NKVD hit squad.

They are much disciplined oh...yah they are not more than marcinaroes paied to kill, or to got Green Card!!

Note: your spelling of “colonialsim” wrong should be “colonialism”
 
Am I missing something here?

Checkout this
 
FYI the column width of your text is much wider than my screen.
 
I just want to point out, one more time, that Canada and Europe have abandoned us in Iraq. Let's not forget that Canada and Europe are enemies of the US. We helped Europe in Kosovo. They abandoned us in Iraq.

Worse, Europe encouraged and emboldened Iran by signing a huge trade deal with Iran during the early part the current war and in the middle of nuclear inspections! Europe is in a close trading alliance with the terror masters in Iran who are killing our troops.

Let's not forget Europeans are enemies of the US, and Canadians are enemies of the US. They want us to lose. They hate us. Let's hate them back.
 
France perceives a problem now.

http://pajamasmedia.com/2007/09/french_foreign_minister_world_1.php

"We have decided to...prepare ourselves for possible sanctions outside the U.N. sanctions and which would be European sanctions. Our German friends proposed it. We discussed it a few days ago."

The UN/Canada axis melts in the hot glare of reality. Increasingly, to be anti-American is to be anti-reality.

Let's welcome France back into the free world, outside the barbed wire of a collective mental institution inhabited by the UN, Canada and Venezuela. Who's going to monitor France's intake of medication, to keep them sane?
 
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