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View Diary: One Hundred Names You Won't Hear This Memorial Day (194 comments)

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  •  That was an excellent point (none)
    before the war.  Now, we caused the problem.  It's our problem.  Why should we get to blow the shit out of a country and then leave it to its own little civil war because we can't stand the casualties?  I think the only option now to even start to atone for our guilt is to do whatever we can to minimize the death resulting from our actions in starting this war.

    Vietnam was different.  Vietnam was already in a civil war, we just picked a side (still a bad idea IMO).  In Iraq, we invaded a country that was at peace (albeit with a ruthless dictator), killed a bunch of the innocent and a few of the guilty, allowed a brutal "insurgency" made up of mixed factions of terrorists, Baathists, and true Iraqi nationalists to not only attack foreigners, but also to kill innocent Iraqis indiscriminately, made the death worse by half-hearted "offensives" against this insurgency that seemed to kill more innocents than insurgents, etc., etc.  We can't just thrust choas and destruction on a country and then walk away from the consequences.  We have to work with them and do whatever we can to end the fighting and bring peace.

    "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." George Bernard Shaw

    by Shygetz on Thu May 26, 2005 at 08:58:37 AM PDT

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    •  Of course we should still take an interest. (none)
      Using a moderate like Sistani to try to bring people to the table would be a good idea. There are ways in which we could still be actively be involved with Iraq. Since, as you say, we started this mess, we should actively try to fix the mess we created.

      There may very well be an international refugee problem after we leave like the other poster pointed out; we need to take in as many as possible and get other countries to take in refugees as well. That was a big mistake for us not to do a better job of accounting for the refugees in the aftermath of Vietnam.

      Just because I advocate pulling out of Iraq does not mean that I advocate sticking our head in the sand and ignoring the problems of the aftermath. Bush did that with Israel and Palestine when he first took office; that was a disaster as the conflict flared up. Only now are they finally starting to make progress.

      But I fail to see how blowing people's heads off for the next 10-15 years as Cole advocates will solve the problem.

      •  There are still (none)
        people in Iraq who want to see civil war.  America's presence there prevents full-blown civil war from breaking out.  I think that we need to get Iraq's civil defense forces trained and equipped quickly.  Then, we need to withdraw to an area still in the region (perhaps in Kurdistan and Kuwait) while Iraq handles the problem itself, ready to reenter in the case of a widespread crisis that the Iraqis cannot handle.  Finally, after Iraq is stable and secure, then we can fully remove our forces from the area.  I think that, no matter how many people we bring to the table, we cannot expect to prevent civil war being instigated by petty warlords in the event of a full withdrawl.

        "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." George Bernard Shaw

        by Shygetz on Thu May 26, 2005 at 10:42:59 AM PDT

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        •  All good on paper. (none)
          But the administration does not have any reliable numbers on how many people have been trained or even how many need to be trained. We've been training these people for over a whole year, and their performance record so far has been terrible.

          From a peak of 150,000 troops in January, our numbers have dwindled down to 70,000 (Cole's own numbers) and will continue to do so. The backdoor draft is a stopgap measure which will only help temporarily. The more our numbers dwindle, the more bold the insurgents will become. Staying the course only prolongs the bloodshed; getting out and changing our strat to diplomacy and aid gives us a better chance. The UN will be more likely to be involved, then.

          •  If we can (none)
            sucker the UN into stepping in, I am ALL for that.  But right now, we are concentrating our efforts on giving the UN a super atomic wedgie with Ambassodor Porn-Star Moustache, so any help from them is...unlikely until after 2009.

            And your own post suggests how untenable just leaving would be.  The current Iraqi security forces are spotty and overall not good.  If we leave, who prevents the country from full-blown civil war and the accompanying genocide?  Don't say the many peacekeepers are in Sudan?  How long has that been going on?

            And perhaps staying the course does prolong the bloodshed, but only because it substitutes a slow, drawn-out bleeding over a relatively quick orgy of violoence and civil war, followed by another repressive regime and its long, drawn-out bloodshed.

            "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." George Bernard Shaw

            by Shygetz on Fri May 27, 2005 at 05:37:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Again, you are shooting for the impossible. (none)
              Our troop numbers are dwindling down to where the Sunnis congregate openly in some areas without fear for retaliation. Even if you want to, we simply don't have the troops or the national will to sustain this occupation.

              Let me ask you something: Are you young enough to be in the military? If so, ARE you in the military?

              •  I am young enough (none)
                but physically unfit to serve (reconstructed right knee).  I considered joining the Navy ROTC out of high school, but was unable to do so due to my knee.  I do have relatives serving in the Army in Iraq.

                And let me ask you something...does it matter?  You subtly accuse me of hypocrisy because I am not in the military.  Fine.  But then I will accuse you of hypocrisy for not being willing to sacrifice Americans' lives to clean up the mess we made.  What I suggest is NOT impossible.  Our current presence there has prevented widespread genocide thus far.  Even if our presence were to dwindle to one-half its current strength, we would be a significant-enough force to prevent the kinds of things that have been going on in Darfur, while still working to build up an Iraqi army (which will take a lot of time, especially given the way we completely stripped it after the invasion).  

                Your argument seems to be we should get our boys the hell out of the way and let the Iraqis go ahead and kill each other until they are done.  I say that, if we agree that it is our fault as a nation that they are in this predicament (and I think we do agree on that), then we should be able to agree that we have a moral responibility to sacrifice what we must to clean up the mess we made.  I would not have been willing to support a war to remove Saddam from power just to bring freedom to Iraq.  I am willing to continue a war to prevent genocide due to our dumb-assery in the Middle East.  

                I have seen friends and relatives go to war already; if there is rationing and/or a war tax, I will pay it.  What I find most distressing is those who believe that, if we leave, terrible things will happen, but who want us to get out anyway anyway to save our boys, because some how the lives of American soldiers in the military are worth so much more than the lives of innocent Iraqis who had an unjust war thrust upon them by America.

                "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." George Bernard Shaw

                by Shygetz on Fri May 27, 2005 at 09:33:13 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Fine for you and good for them. (none)
                  I'm glad you and your whole family practice what you preach. My thoughts and prayers are with you and them. But not enough people are like you and are willing to practice what they preach and sign up for the war. Think about the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. That is why the US effort is going down the tank. Not enough people are willing to put their lives on the line and enlist. So the US effort, which reached its high-water mark last January, is getting less and less effective as the war drags on.

                  We tried your idea in Vietnam. Nixon spent four years trying to train the South Vietnamese Army to resist the North and the VC after the US left. It didn't work. The South collapsed two years after we left.

                  You are promoting the "Break it/own it" frame. I accept that, but it does not follow that we should own it in a way that means blowing people's heads off. Just because there are a lot of evil killers in Iraq does not mean we should make things worse by giving them a chance to organize around a common enemy. Two wrongs don't make a right.

                  And the other flaw with the "Break it/own it" frame is that it was tried in Vietnam. We used it as an excuse to drag the war on for years, with nothing to show for it, but 58,000 US lives lost and over a million Vietnamese.

                  Trying to bring people to the table is much better. It might not be effective at first with our damaged credibility, but it is still better than continuing to take people's lives. We should prepare for the possibility of genocide by opening our country up for refugees and working with other countries to accept refugees as well. There may very well be a refugee crisis as the result of this war; we should take responsibility for that. I'm sorry, but there are better ways of resolving problems than the taking of human life.

                  If we are really in this war to prevent genocide, then why don't we go to Sudan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Congo? If going to these countries will effectively prevent genocide, we need to go to those places as well as stay in Iraq by your logic. But the problem with that is that we are not Superman. We cannot be everywhere at once. Our people do not want to die in some place they can't even find on a map. Recognizing the limits of the military's power is just as important as knowing what they are capable of, and right now, our leadership has not done so.

                  •  So many misconceptions (none)
                    First of all, I don't agree with the premise behind the war.  I don't think it's our business to invade countries to spread freedom.  That's the difference between me and the Non-Fighting Keyboardists.  I think we never should have gone there.  I was overruled.  That's democracy for you.

                    There are so many problems with the Vietnam analogy that I won't get into all of them here, but I will address the narrow claim you made--that Vietnam proved that we cannot prevent civil war.  First of all, the Vietnam civil war had already started--we tried to stop it.  No true civil war has started in Iraq.  Alos, unfortunately for your argument, there was the Korean conflict.  South Korea still exists and thrives.  We were also able, with international help, to end genocide due to the Bosnia conflict and prevent further civil war.  So, Vietanm teaches us that the tactics of Vietnam doesn't work, not that we cannot prevent civil war and genocide.

                    Also, you seem to think that these evil killers would be a lot nicer if they didn't have a common enemy to fight (i.e. us).  This is foolish.  A number of them would stop fighting altogether if we left, I agree.  But remember, most of the terrorist violence is not being directed at us, it is being directed at Iraqis who have sectarian differences.  If we are not there, it just makes these attacks easier, making full-scale civil war much more probable.

                    Another fallacy of your argument is that there can be force or diplomacy, but not both.  Not only is this supposition untrue, but in fact the opposite--negotiation from a position of strength is much easier.  The sides will be much more willing to listen about peace if our forces make war impractical.  We should be using as much effort as possible to bring people to the negotiating table, but if the extremists think they can win it all by force, there will be no peace (see Israel-Palestine for a practical example of this).

                    And the reason why we are here in preference to the other regions where there is genocide is that (and I can't emphasize this enough) this is our fault!  We caused this potential genocide!  We have the responsibility to fix what we broke as best as we can, accepting the costs.  I think that the best way to fix this is to hold the country together until the local forces can.  By doing this, we can prevent a Vietnam from forming by preventing armed sectarian differences from starting in earnest, making settling of a peace easier.

                    We can't (and shouldn't) police the world.  That's what got us into this mess to begin with.  But we should clean up our messes, if for no other reason than to try to atone for our wrongheadedness in starting this war.

                    "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." George Bernard Shaw

                    by Shygetz on Fri May 27, 2005 at 02:58:01 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Iraq, South Korea, and Bosnia. (none)
                      In South Korea, Dwight Eisenhower stepped in and negotiated an end to that conflict. He negotiated with the Chinese, who were the biggest jerks in the world at the time. Bosnia was won because we had a great general on the ground -- Wesley Clark. We have no such leadership in Iraq.

                      There may be no true civil war in Iraq yet, but we're getting there. The longer we stay, the more likely there is to be one with us caught in the middle. That would be the worst-case scenario and one we can't afford.

                      Bosnia and South Korea were different. Bosnia was won with good diplomacy and solely in the air. Clark ran the campaign without a single American life being lost; he was very careful not to involve the US military in a long drawn-out conflict that they had no chance winning.

                      Korea was in danger of becoming Vietnam until Eisenhower was able to negotiate an end to that conflict. But it came nearer to becoming a Vietnam than Bosnia. Before Eisenhower, the war, like Vietnam and Iraq, was a long drawn-out stalemate.

                      In Korea and Bosnia, we had international help. We were able to convince the world that we needed to stop an evil from spreading. But Iraq and Vietnam had little international support. No other countries are willing to commit troops to Iraq. Our people are not willing to undertake a national effort to fight this war, whether you like it or not. So we are left with our only option: Leave and do the best we can without contributing to the conflict.

                      Vietnam may have already had a civil war going on, but we escalated it by going there. And you failed to answer my main point, which was that Nixon's 4-year Vietnamization plan failed; the government collapsed like a house of cards after we left. And the Iraqi "army" has the same kind of lack of will that the Vietnamese did.

                      By your own admission, the tactics of Vietnam didn't work; they are being repeated in Iraq all over again.

                      When you say with a high degree certainty that there will be a civil war, you miss a fact of human nature. When someone does the right thing, other people will end up doing the right thing as well. So for every Iraqi who decides to take advantage of the power vacum, there will be others who decide to take responsibility for the building of their country instead of depending on us to do it. It works both ways. It is a lot more likely that the Sunnis will come to the table if we leave because they can no longer see the Shiites as puppets of America. And the Shiites will be much more likely to stand and protect themselves rather than depend on us to do the work.

                      And if we take an active role in helping them build a better Iraq, we will fulfill our share of responsibility for preventing a major civil war from breaking out.

                      You contend that we would negotiate from a position of strength if we stayed. But we are not in a position of strength to start with; we are losing this war. That is why we are having this debate in the first place. The insurgents can hide beind walls, shoot at our soldiers, and blend into the crowd. If we destroy a city piece by piece like Fallujah, they will simply go off somewhere else where we aren't. Insurgents will wait as long as they want because this is their home. We cannot; our soldiers must go back home at some point. And who will be there to replace them?


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