Tuesday, August 03, 2010

As History Is Written

I wonder what they're going to say about all this in 50 to 100 years?

Maitri reminds us that, contrary to popular misconception, 205.8 million gallons of oil does not "vanish." She also includes the link to a very brief explanation of "static kill" and "bottom kill."

Second, even as President Obama declares that major combat operations are over in Iraq, he neglects to mention this is the second time this announcement has been made. Of course, we'll still leave 50,000 troops there. Of course, right-wing voices on the radio this morning again called this "cutting and running," but at what point do we admit that our strategies have failed, and our society has lost the will to fight these wars in these ways?

Because make no mistake, we've been at war with Iraq since 1991, incurring all the human and material costs so related.

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12 comments:

DADvocate said...

I'll make another prediction here. After cutting and running... (just kidding).

Within a year or two, I really think a year, things will have backslid in Iraq to the point where much of our efforts and deaths will have been in vain. I place no blame on Obama for this. It's inevitable due to the nature/history/culture of the people in that region.

The same will happen in Afghanistan whenever we happen to leave there. Democracy has much less meaning to them than us, as does our concept of freedom. Hopefully neither will give rise to a leader like Saddam Hussein or Ahmadinejad but I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

Maitri said...

Saying democracy has much less meaning to Them, the people over There with That nature/history/culture, than Us is bullshit. Do you know Them? For that matter, do you know Us? There are many in our nation for whom democracy and freedom are meaningless while scores of people over there yearn for socio-political freedom.

It's politicians Here and There, fighting each other by day and getting into bed together at night, that has caused all of this. Our government funded the Taliban 25 years ago and is doing it again right now in Pakistan. Our pointless war in Iraq led to the rise of the Shiites there.

Also, Saddam Hussein and Ahmadinejad are not the same type of dictator. But, if we didn't easily fall prey to such self-satisfying generalizations, our government would never have gone to war with Iraq again in the 2000s.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

@ DADV: To really acheive our stated strategic goals in Iraq or Afganistan required far more troops (millions) and much more sacrifice at home. Such a massive committment was politically possible with Afganistan but not with regards to Iraq. Our past leaders chose a different path and a different strategy that has led us to where we are.

That our troops, hamstrung as they were from the outset, have held those two missions together for this long is a testament to their skill and courage.

If Obama can get us out without totally collapsing both countries immediately, that will be a huge success.

But, I think we end up back in a special forces war across the Middle East, just like where we were between 1991 and 2003 (hell, since 1956). Especially with so many neocons still interested in taking a war-weary nation and exhausted allies to war with Iran.

That being said, Iran will likely come to dominate Iraq as Pakistan and Afganistan descend again into increased chaos.

Cultures and histories can change, sometimes internally, sometimes from outside forces. We did not (and do not) have the will to commit the manpower or resources required to force that change. It is time we accept that fact and stop pretending that holding those nations with a few hundred thousand troops is possible.

patsbrother said...

@Patrick: What crackpipe said keeping 50,000 people there was cutting and running? We WON. The surge actually worked. I think I added it up the other day, where the number of combat deaths this YEAR so far equal a good MONTH back in the day. No, this doesn't mean everything is hunky-dory. But it no longer appears to be "The Quagmire" it was supposed to be.

And @Maitri: Democracy is only important for those who fought for it and won it for themselves. At least to my knowledge, democracies have only every been loosely maintained under any other situation.

That was actually one of my gravest reservations about the Iraq war. You can't forcefully remake a nation in the image of American democracy. But then something changed: Iraqis started coming out and waiting in big lines, which were near-certain targerts for suicide bombers. To vote. By risking their lives for it, I believe to a significant degree Iraqis bought ownership of democracy, which I think provides democracy with its best chance of survival. They have my hope and my sympathies.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Right-wing radio this morning on the commute to work said what we are doing is "cuttin' and runnin.'" It also percolates in the blogosphere. We'll soon see it picked up by the mainstays when they forget that most Americans have no desire to stay in Iraq indefinitely.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Democracy is only important for those who fought for it and won it for themselves.

Well, government is pretty important to me, and I can't recall fighting for it and winning it myself. I don't know about you, but I live in a representative republic, not a democracy.

Besides, the mission in Iraq was not sold as one to "spread American-style democracy." The mission was to keep Iraq from attacking us with their weapons of mass destruction.

Which we probably could have accomplished just as easily by not going to war.

patsbrother said...

(1) No. Neither you nor I fought for it, but those who (once they won) became "Americans" did. (And then Americans fought for it again and again. See: Civil Rights movement.) I was talking about peoples, I hope you were able to realize, and not individuals.

(2) You damn well know what I mean by democracy. Suck it.

(3) Quit acting as though objectives never changed. No, a democratic Iraq was, like, third on list of "purposes" BEFORE the 2003 invasion, but AFTERwards it very quickly moved up to number 1. That happened years ago. Stop acting like we're still arguing whether to invade.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

1. Generalizations regarding western liberal democratic institutions sound like platitudes in this instance. The "fights" you mention are as much about the shape of our "democracy" as the institution itself.

2. Then explain yourself better. I get called on that all the time.

3. I'm not arguing about the invasion, I'm demonstrating a point about both credibility and strategy.

This is especially important considering the same individuals that orchestrated the war in Iraq are calling the drawback "cut and run," are starting to make a case for a wider war with both Iran and North Korea, and are poised to win elections this November.

Maitri said...

In the course of my lifetime:

- Vietnam Bad, France Good
- War Bad, Withdrawal Good
- Iran Bad, Iraq Good
- Palestine Bad, Israel Good
- Russia Bad, Taliban Good
- OPEC Bad, Iraq Good
- Iraq Bad, Kuwait & Saudi Arabia Good
- Taliban Bad, Pakistan Good
- Saddam Bad, Rest Of Iraq Good
- All Of Iraq Bad, Withdrawal Good
- Pakistan Bad, WikiLeaks Worse

With this track record, I don't see why the US bothers with a foreign policy.

patsbrother said...

You have lost your mind.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

+1 Maitri. I would argue that we don't.

Sprout: Nice dismissal of actual points.

patsbrother said...

What, like ignoring that in America we call the form of government involving representative democracy simply: "democracy"?

Like responding to a statement that democracy might be taking hold in Iraq with a completely misplaced and inapposite remark that fostering such a democracy wasn't the primary goal in March 2003?

Like responding to said statement about democracy taking hold (an outcome) with a bizarre missive about someone else's credibility and strategy?

Like responding to a statement that was obviously referring to peoples with a trite statement about two individuals?

You're right. Those are actual points, and I am just so dismissive of them.

Here, I'll do it again.

You have lost your mind.