Saturday, October 15, 2005

Iraq (and the blogosphere debate)

UPDATE: I really am learning some things in a slug fest of a Blog comment debate. I'll have some reax tomorrow.

I have tasted the poison of anti-war bloggers on Kos from time to time. They do not tend to react well to any comment that disagrees with "bring the troops home NOW".

(Yes, it has to be in Caps.)

This morning I intended to write a news recap of the constitutional process in Iraq -- at least to today's elections. I have, however, spent most of my morning in a comment section of this blog.

My comments from this morning are here. They represent the evolution of my thoughts on a war that I believe was crap and remains crap but is inescapable at present.

I find myself in the unfortunate position of defending United States involvement in a rotten war.

That was not my intent nor my desire with my first comment. I initially said that US forces will draw down within the (sic. I should have said "a" not "the") year -- there is no other choice based on force levels around the world. My first post had the assumption that despite the awful nature of the war, the United States had to remain.

I assumed that because we have destroyed a country's infrastructure and brutalized the people. I hate this war, but we're in it and we own it. (This is another assumption.)

It is difficult in a finite comment field to actually explain concepts in detail. It is easy, however, to sling quick insults.

My first and second set of comments have been labeled "Constipated babblespeak" (clever phrase, has a nice ring to it). My ability to count also has been called into question. I've been called a racist, which was really interesting.

Further, I have been told to enlist because otherwise I have no right to comment on military policy -- a notion that runs counter to the tradition of civilian military control vital to our republic.

Apparently one can be in favor of no military action no matter his or her military involvement, but one can only favor military action if one is in the military.

The tone of these comments, as much as tone can be read in the blogosphere, is not conducive to productive debate.

I won't respond any more to those above comments or the like.

I believe the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not the best pursuit of United States security. I don't even think it was a decent idea. The war was planned poorly, with a short-sighted commanding general and Pentagon chief interested in getting to the end zone and damning the details.

The results of that war, the civil war and political mess today, have involved the United States military. Should our military remain?

My impression is that many of you would like to see all of the troops home tomorrow. Obviously that would be great, if it were prudent. If the United States military packed its bags today, I posit, then the situation in Iraq would decay to a more violent civil war. I believe the war already is a civil war with foreign actors backed by states and non-states fomenting additional violence.

Those foreign state and non-state actors would also have less of a deterent to pursue their interests in the country. They (Syria, Iran, al Qaeda) pursue those interests now, however they must operate in a battle space shared with the US military.

Even just a "few divisions" can serve as a deterent.

Anyone who knows anything about the North Korean military knows that they'd barrel over our forces in the South. It's crude, but we have a "speed bump" force meant to commit the US to protect the South. American tank formations in Germany faced a similarly difficult fate in the height of the cold war -- the Russians would win in a few minutes, but they never breached the line.

The national debate ought to consider a question that Susan posed as an answer. It also involves the idea that US involvement can be a deterent to the conflict growing worse.

She wrote that the US fuels the civil war, and that means we should leave the country.

If that were the case, she would be correct.

First, let's define that civil war. It is a Sunni-Shiite conflict and it has an element of Kurdish, Arab and Persian ethnic tensions. The United States' poor policy does help Sunnis recruit suicide bombers, so our involvement is a negative. But, US withdrawal would not end this civil war -- it would not be a civil war if such an apparent solution were possible.

Does the US produce more of a positive in the country than a negative?

As of now, I do not think that it does with the exception that the US can hold the country together. Splitting Iraq will involve the Iranians, Saudis, Turks and Syrians.

If we left Iraq tomorrow, something would draw us back within the decade. (Perhaps then under a UN banner, but what a gamble that would be.)

The policy debate should focus on the US producing more of a positive in Iraq.

I'm going to put words in your mouths: "we should get out now and that would be the best positive for Iraq".

Maybe, please defend that opinion with more than just an axiom.

I am doubtful that it would. I believe it would invite additional Iranian control of Shiite Basra and Najaf. I believe al Sadr would then launch some insurgency against SCIRI -- at the very least his followers would continue to brawl.

Both Iran and Turkey do not want a Kurdish state, so a splinter Kurdistan would bring them more forcefully into the fight.

I truly fear what would happen in Anbar province while the above developed.

This is all guess work on my part. Posit alternatives that you believe would justify US withdrawal. We can then see which is more realistic and therefore better policy.

Susan is correct to point out that a political solution is needed in Iraq. I hope it works out with the new elections today and in December. The civil war will continue with or without US forces in Iraq for the immediate future. A political solution is more likely if the Iraqi government 1. represents the will of the people and 2. has the US military as a tool at its disposal. This may not be the current state of affairs, but it ought to be.

That brings me to the conduct of the administration in this war. Here is my only comment about the administration as such in my second entry:

"I hate our president for putting us in this mess. I think he and his staff are nitwits and historical criminals."

Here is Susan's response:

"This administration has been wrong about every little thing as far as Iraq goes, furthermore, they have Cheneyed up every little thing in the administration of Iraq. To even entertain the idea that they may somehow, someday, pull something out of this mess is beyond any rational belief."

To infer that I "entertain the idea that [the administration]" will "pull something out of this mess" from my remark that the administration is full of nitwits and criminals is a truly imaginative leap.

I believe the administration continues to mislead the American public about this war and that they should be prosecuted for it. I believe George W. Bush should be impeached.

This administration does a great disservice to its own war effort by enacting stupid policy.

I wonder how those remarks will be misconstrued. Perhaps they will be read as my public proclamation of my first donation to Dubya's presidential library.

I am going to quickly grow sick of insults, so let's debate the policy. You may actually change my mind -- that is possible. You will not if you call me a racist or say I cannot count.


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