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(Cross-posted at My Left Wing, ePluribus Media and my blog)

Sometimes life and the people in it kind of slap you back to reality.  I had just such an occurrence this past weekend, and truthfully, it has caused me a great deal of distress.  This is a real distress - the kind that sometimes makes me stop and feel slightly sick as a human being - over the subject I'm going to discuss.

But I have to share this story.  It begins like this: I have a friend who is Iraqi.

Make the jump.

I have to be careful about my friend's identity, so some of the contextual (but not necessary) details are going to be vague.  It won't be a great story without all the color and background, but it will be a true one.

My friend is Iraqi born and married an Iraqi.  I don't know how it happened, but his wife is already an American citizen.  He is not, though he has told me that he has applied for citizenship and that he doesn't anticipate there will be any issues - it's all a matter of time at this point.  They are both professional people - not professional like brain surgeons, but professionals, skilled in what they do.

As with all friendships, getting to know someone entails some mixture of chit chat and polite inquries - you know the kind.  You ask if they have children.  You ask what they do for a living and whether or not they like it.  When you hear them speaking with an accent, you ask where that accent is from.  When they tell you they are from Iraq, in light of everything that's going on there, you launch into a new level of questions.

It was those types of questions that let me know him a little better.  Some months ago I asked about his family.  He has siblings, and all have left Iraq proper for other, safer areas in the middle east.  His mother, however, remained in Iraq.  At the time, this wasn't a huge issue as she was further to the north in areas that would have been considered, at that time, relatively "safe".  All of these details came out very early in my getting to know him.  I didn't want to inundate him with sensitive questions about how he felt about the war, and he seemed happy to keep the friendship on the level where it existed.

As life goes, sometimes you just get busy.  You have your friends, but you don't necessarily see your friends as much as you would like.  It happens - and it happened with my Iraqi friend.  Some months went by where we just didn't connect.  During those months, the situation in Iraq deteriorated rapidly.  The theoretically "safe" northern areas were no longer safe.  I thought of my friend and especially of his mother frequently, and wondered how she was doing and whether or not she was safe.

Well, I bumped into him over this past weekend.  I went up and shook his hand and let him know I had been thinking about him, and especially about his mother.  I told him I wondered often about her safety.  He relieved some of these thoughts by letting me know that his mother was not currently in Iraq.  She had gone a month or so ago to visit relatives in another country in the region, one that would be considered stable.  He was worried, though - it was her intent to return to Iraq, her home, very soon.  He wondered aloud if he could get her to come for an extended visit here in the United States... While he was composed, he was also certainly concerned.

Then our friendship took another informational step forward.  He let me know that his wife has family, close family, currently in Baghdad.  They have been hastily and desperately trying to figure a way to get one family member in particular into the US, sooner rather than later.  They had consulted a lawyer who laid out the process at a very high level, but had had to undertake the process on their own due to the prohibitive cost of legal assistance.  My friend and his wife are hardworking people, but not the kind with several thousand dollars sitting around idle and unutilized.

This started us on a discussion of the war itself.  I'm going to paraphrase the conversation to give you a sense of how it went.  I'll call him Joe for the sake of ease, and I'll share that he is Sunni:

ME:  Jeez, Joe.  I can't believe how badly this has gone.  It wasn't a good idea even before we went in there, but now - it's unraveling.  I don't think America will see it's good reputation returned in my lifetime.  And even though I was against going into Iraq in the first place, I'm an American and to some degree, this has happened in my name.

JOE:  You know, a lot of people said many things.  They said that Saddam was bad and he was.  They went to your Pentagon and they told them 'just go in there and get rid of Saddam'.  And your Pentagon, your Rumsfeld, that's what he did.  And then Bremmer told your Pentagon to get rid of the Army and the police and the government and that's what he did.  And it was not a good thing - not a good idea.

ME:  ((sighing)) I know.  Ahmed Chalabi, right?  [Joe nods]  You know, you would think that the American government would have considered the source of all of the information they had.  I mean, if they have a guy who's there telling them to 'just get rid of Saddam', that guy has something that he wants.  He could be a true nationalist with pure intentions, or he could be politically motivated and trying to seize power.  Either way, you'd think they would have stepped back and considered what this guy or anyone else wanted and weigh the information they got against any likely motivations.

JOE:  My family in Baghdad - it's bad.  They can't go out and go to get food.  We call and they are in their house because they can't go out.  They have separated Baghdad and put Sunnis in one area and Shi'ia in another.  And they have people there to keep them apart.  But now with your report, they are going to leave and the Shi'ia are going to come over there.  I talked to one family member and he told me 'they are going to kill us when the Americans leave'.  They don't want electricity and food and jobs anymore.  They just want to be safe.  It's the only thing they want.  And now the Americans are going to leave.

They just want to be safe.  After the conversation, I let myself think about the sheer gravity of that kind of a statement.  How emotionally and physically broken do you have to be to be willing to give up everything else for want of safety?  I can't really imagine it - I can try, but I can't put myself in his family's shoes.  It's very bad, though.

Yesterday, as I was driving to the DC area Kossack Meetup, I heard John Murtha interviewed on CNN's Situation Room.  Here are a few excerpts from that interview:

BLITZER: Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. What do you make of this idea of having a short-term surge, as they're calling it, 20- 30,000 U.S. troops deployed to the Baghdad area to try to bring some sort of stability there?

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Wolf, let's look at the results of what happened. They put 10,000 more troops into the area. They've increased significantly troops in the Baghdad area and it's gotten worse.

The incidents, attacks, I call them, have increased, have doubled. They're up 973 a week now. More Iraqis being killed. More security people being killed. More Americans being killed.


BLITZER: The new defense secretary, Robert Gates, said yesterday that failure in Iraq, in his words, "would be a calamity."

Here's the question to you. Has the U.S. already lost in Iraq?

MURTHA: Militarily, we've lost. There's no question about it. We cannot win this militarily.


MURTHA: Only the Iraqis can do this. There is in way the United States can solve this problem. We have gotten so far out and we missed our opportunity, if we ever had an opportunity early on, to stabilize Iraq.

Since we didn't do it then, it cannot be done now. I am convinced the best thing for the United States, the best American policy, what's in the best interest of America, and that's to get our troops redeployed out of there.

I have to say that I agree with everything John Murtha said.  Yet at the end of the day, to simply pack up and go home means that my friend's in-laws get slaughtered.  Literally slaughtered.  Whatever tiny semblance of control there is in Baghdad exists at the end of an American rifle.  No more Americans, and those people are GONE.  How will I look him in the eye, what will I say, when he finally tells me that his wife has utterly lost her family?

Yet at the same time, I feel and have felt strongly that we need to get out of there, not just for the sake of our soldiers, but for the sake of our larger efforts to combat terrorism.

I wish I had answers.  I wish I didn't feel so horribly torn in two directions at once.  At the end of the day, I blame the Bush administration.  Because, as we all know, had we not gone in there in the first place, I wouldn't be wrestling with these questions.  And, having decided to go in, had we done so with some semblance of competence, I MAY not be wrestling with these questions.

But that's a hard thing to sell to my Iraqi friend.  Because even today, he's sitting in his office worrying about hearing, finally and at last, that his family has fallen victim to the violence.  What good will my regrets do him then?

Update [2006-12-20 16:26:40 by RenaRF]: Ok weird.  This was on the rec list and then three minutes later it wasn't.  Huh.  I don't know whether or not to remove the "recommended" tag.

Originally posted to RenaRF's Random Ramblings on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:46 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just from the title.,, (12+ / 0-)

    I thought this was another diary about your DC meetup. "dkos DC meetup:The Day After"

    "Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel" Homer Simpson

    by irate on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:48:23 PM PST

    •  I know. (154+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wozzle, johnny rotten, Ed in Montana, Erin in Flagstaff, pb, SarahLee, Trendar, Hornito, yerioy, TrueBlueMajority, kainah, RunawayRose, tnichlsn, JTML, Lahdee, littlesky, Xan, Lipstick Liberal, tamens, Stein, x, caliberal, SallyCat, monkeybiz, elveta, Baldwiny, awakentech, Morague, mxwing, roses, javelina, Ignacio Magaloni, peraspera, Bearpaw, MJB, Jesterfox, arkdem, wader, kredwyn, MrSandman, oldjohnbrown, weary hobo, draftchrisheinz, churchylafemme, niteskolar, The Termite, tabbycat in tenn, RebeccaG, horsewithnoname, ChiGirl88, jcrit, kd texan, sxwarren, weelzup, madaprn, joanneleon, maybeeso in michigan, historys mysteries, Bluesee, 3goldens, jfdunphy, Elise, blueyedace2, baccaruda, irate, PBen, JohnB47, Simplify, station wagon, Brooke In Seattle, devadatta, boofdah, Annalize5, Pam from Calif, ladybug53, annefrank, Ice Blue, ivorybill, paxpdx, Yamara, exmearden, wiscmass, FindingMyVoice, sodalis, Tex Kosmaniac Dem Lady, dsteffen, sleep deprived, Rogneid, Ghost of Frank Zappa, Unduna, JanL, Dr Benway, dancewater, viscerality, jay23, liberalsouth, Paper Cup, occams hatchet, Appalachian Annie, Topaz7, trashablanca, chicagoblueohio, Do Tell, PatsBard, vigilant meerkat, 417els, RAZE, Ellicatt, borkitekt, seefleur, mskitty, Wary, StrayCat, condoleaser, justalittlebitcrazy, NearlyNormal, MO Blue, myrealname, Dinclusin, txdemfem, callmecassandra, rage, vox humana, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Dreaming of Better Days, scoff0165, Jbeaudill, Temmoku, Land of Lincoln Dem, ms badger, AntKat, J Royce, marykk, khereva, blue armadillo, Trim Your Bush, offgrid, suburi, gloriana, fairleft, Outrider, DWG, jayden, vbdietz, gmac51, jhop7, pioneer111, JML9999, TexasTwister, rmonroe, rogerdaddy, gfv6800, dyrrachium

      I tend to jump around a bit emotionally and otherwise.  From happy and silly to tragic and bad.  ((sigh))  This diary has been gnawing at me since my conversation.  Nothing but bad choices and while laying blame is fine and appropriate, no answers readily emerge.

      •  It looked like a good time.:) (5+ / 0-)

        "Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel" Homer Simpson

        by irate on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:09:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'll ask the callous, cold questions. (29+ / 0-)

        I don't think there are any illusions that the USA will annex Iraq.  With that given, the USA will, at some future point in time, withdraw its military forces from Iraq.  The huff and bother is over when (sooner or later) and how (scheduled, benchmarked, or random) that happens, not whether it will happen.

        With that in mind:

        In the unknown but limited time between now and withdrawal, how will the ongoing deaths of our kids prevent the eventual violent deaths of your friend's family?

        How many of our kids must die to protect, for an unknown but limited time, your friend's family?  Whose kids would be most appropriate to defend, with their lives, your friend's family?

        this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

        by horsewithnoname on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:20:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Being Safe (22+ / 0-)

          When we are no long so "emotionally and physically broken" that we are willing to sacrifice those kids in order for us to feel safe.  That's what this war is all about, after all.  We sent a bunch of kids to die over there so we can keep terrorists from killing us here at home.

          And we eagerly buy into the myth that somehow, because these kids are in the military, it is better and right for them to die instead of us "innocent" civilians.  "They" are protecting "us"...ain't it nice how that language distances them?  Makes them not one of us?  Just like the Iraqis.

          •  So Does It Come Down, After All, To (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ghostofaflea, RenaRF, LightningMan

            us or them?

            Do we have to make the horrible choice between Iraqis being killed or Americans?

            How does our staying in Iraq make it better?  Are the Iraqis suddenly going to gather together to heal the divisions of hundreds of years?

            John Murtha speaks the truth.  There are no good solutions now.  

        •  This is NOT (27+ / 0-)

          don't think there are any illusions that the USA will annex Iraq.  With that given, the USA will, at some future point in time, withdraw its military forces from Iraq.

          This never had anything to do with WMD or any of the lies we were told.  As we all know, this is about oil... and oil... and... protecting Israel.

          I heard a woman discussing her new book on the Sam Seder show last week.  It was eye opening and shocking. They don't care about the American or Iraqi people.  They care about POWER, money, OIL and tax cuts.

          I'm sorry for your friend's family.  I am a problem solver but this one is too big for either of us Rena... it's about what kind of BAD KARMA the people in this country have to be under the rule of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  Talk about the WORSE PRESIDENT(S) EVER... this is it!

          •  Am not sure I agree w/ you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but even if you are right, concern about oil is not entirely unwarranted.  If Middle East oil exports were seriously disrupted, a worldwide depression could result.

            Of course, we need alternative energy sources and effective conservation techniques, but we are not there yet.

            •  Concern about Iraqi oil would not even be an (6+ / 0-)

              issue today if we had not crippled Iraq with 20 years of sanctions (which only harmed the Iraqi people...Saddam lived in opulence) and had NOT invaded their country.

              It's not about access to & availabiity of oil.  We- the top 2% of US squillionaires - want to CONTROL it all.  We want to OWN it all.  This as all about PURE, FILTHY GREED.

              As far as I can tell, Bush has never pursued one single effort at Iraq or anywhere else.  The US has warned, demanded and issued ultimatums.  Basic understanding of human nature and plain common sense (both of which are anathema with BushCo) inform that 'winning in Iraq' by blasting people to kingdom come has NO chance for success, even with 100 times as many US troops.

              It's probably too late, but only through diplomacy and working together with Iraq and its neighbors could some semblance of 'success' be achieved.  Bush wants ALL or NOTHING and is too delusional to see that 'all' is out of the question.

              "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

              by 417els on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 12:09:23 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oil supply was not helped in any way by this war. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ghostofaflea, RenaRF, 417els

                This war was not for oil although supply disruptions and Middle East turmoil props up the price (there may have been some incentive in regard to that). This war was really a concession to the defense industry. The Pentagon upper staff is completely comprised of defense industry executives and operatives who all have financial interests in justification for contracts by fomenting turmoil. The top positions at the Pentagon reads like a whos- who list of ex defense contractor executives.
                As for protecting oil to avoid a depression, most of the world is already in a depression but as long as you can show some percentage thriving, the rest are forgotten. Depressions are now targeted to predetermined segments rather than states.

                "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self." --Aristotle

                by java4every1 on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 02:45:13 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  We have a legal responsibility (7+ / 0-)

          Under the Geneva Conventions we have an ongoing responsibility to provide security to the people of Iraq.

          We invaded and now we occupy Iraq.  So now we have a legal and moral responsibility.  That's the law, that's the way it works.  We have to find a way now.

          It isn't about whether we should have invaded.  We did - and Bush and the whole gang should be tried for their crimes.  But now WE HAVE caused this situation as it exists now and have the responsibility.

          -- Seeing The Forest -- Investigating how the Right is beating the Dems

          by davej on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 08:41:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So all we need now is about 499,000 new recruits (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SarahLee, RenaRF, montpellier, Mr X

            that think the same way, provisioned to the max with money we no longer have because of this collosally mis-managed mis-adventure. Check please!

            •  You've nailed it (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RenaRF, jfdunphy

              We would have to make a WW-II scale effort at this point - massive numbers of troops, massive amounts of money and a very clearly permanent occupation.  It would require a huge troop/civilian ratio and vast quantities of money.  Perhaps in 40-50 years we could begin to hand over significant political control, after we had a generation of Iraqis raised under occupation.  

              That presumes we wouldn't encounter intifada like resistance, not a good bet, IMHO.  

              Yes, it is horrible, and yes, the blood is on our hands, but at this point, there is no fixing it.  I think we will just have to get out and let the evil happen.  The stabbing victim analogy is appropriate - you cannot un-ring a bell.

          •  There's something wrong here (8+ / 0-)

            I understand the Pottery Barn logic (If you break it, you own it), but let's carry the analogy just a bit further: You break the piece, and then the storeowner proceeds to smash several more. His brothers come in and smash some more, some of which were crafted by some cousins that the family's owners don't get alomg with. What ensues is a tit-for-tat destruction of all the wares in the store.

            Now I know that the analogy is facile, and I'll doubtless get flamed for this post... But really-- Where does US responsibility for the ongoing violence in Iraq end? "Never" comes to mind, but that notion would appear to absolve those native Iraqis responsible for such barbaric acts as we have witnessed over the last few years.

            What a clusterfuck this is...

            •  If Bush had had ANY understanding of (3+ / 0-)

              mideast history he would have understood what the consequences would be.  His father knew.  Other intelligent and experienced people knew.

              Install a sham puppet government that has to hide under their desks in the Green Zone, refuse to immediately rebuild - with Iraqi help, not imported labor - the vast infrastructure you have blasted to smitherines, set up prime conditions for anarchy in the streets, encourage sectarian divide AND approve barbaric acts equal to anything the Iraqis are now doing...voila!

              Bush created the vacuum in which lawlessness thrives.  He has smashed open hornet's nests with abandon.  He has created an entire generation that will hate the US till their dying day.  Bush HAS created the ongoing violence in Iraq. He HAS made the US responsible.  Who can fix it, how it can be fixed and when it can be fixed is a question for the gods.

              One thing is certain, our ignorant, incompetent Wreckingball-in-Chief is incapable of carrying out his responsibility to repair the clusterfuck he created.

              "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

              by 417els on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 12:54:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Saddam was able to keep the lid on (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              qwerty, Jesterfox, RenaRF, montpellier

              for the time being. Had we not overthrown him, he might have kept it on until he died. After that, all bets would be off and we might have seen a situation like we're seeing now.

              As John Graham said, comparing Iraq to Vietnam, "Cursed for staying, we will now be cursed for leaving."

              Clusterfuck, indeed. You have the world's enduring gratitude, W.

              News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

              by RobLewis on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 05:11:04 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  We do not officially "occupy" Iraq (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            We are official guests of the elected Iraqi government.

            We have the legal right to leave at any time.

      •  Everyone (35+ / 0-)

        Should read this article to help understand what is going on in Iraq right now:

        Here is the pessimistic conclusion:

        Although the Bush administration has criticized the Iraqi government for not disarming the militias—and this is certainly the most important problem facing Iraq, apart from the occupation—this is an untenable first step. The militias exist because there is no security in Iraq. And when the Bush administration criticizes the Iraqi government for being weak, they forget that they deliberately made it weak and dependant on their dictates. The American failure to provide security has led to the militias. The American sectarian approach has created the civil war. We saw Iraqis as Sunnis, Shias, Kurds. We designed a governing council based on a sectarian quota system and ignored Iraqis (not exiled politicians but real Iraqis) who warned us against it. We decided that the Sunnis were the bad guys and the Shias were the good guys. These problems were not timeless. In many ways they are new, and we are responsible for them. The tens of thousands of cleansed Iraqis, the relatives of those killed by the death squads, the sectarian supporters and militias firmly ensconced in the government and its ministries, the Shia refusal to relinquish their long-awaited control over Iraq, the Kurdish commitment to secession, the Sunni harboring of Salafi jihadists—all militate against anything but full-scale civil war.

        When it comes, through the slow progression we have seen so far or through a cataclysmic incident like Sarajevo, or the 1975 Ayn ar-Rummanah bus attack, or another attack like the one on the Samarra shrine, or perhaps the assassination of an important Shia cleric or leader, Sunnis will be cleansed from Baghdad. And the Shias will go to war against Sunnis. The Kurds, having waited for this opportunity, will secede and tell the world they tried the federalist route in good faith but those crazy Arabs down south keep killing each other. Who would want to belong to a country like that?

        The Arab world had always been dominated by Sunnis, who make up 85 percent of the world’s Muslims. The new Shia Iraq is overturning the Ottoman and colonialist legacies that entrenched Sunnis. Along with Hizbullah’s victory against Israel this summer, this will threaten the status quo throughout the Arab world. In Syria, already seen as dominated by the Shia-like Alawi minority that is hated by the Sunni majority, the Iranians recently built a mosque commemorating a battle that Imam Ali lost. The unpopular Sunni regimes of Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, seeing their power wane, can no longer be anti-American or anti-Israeli, having sold out on those issues by supporting the Americans and practically supporting Israel against Hizbullah in July. Instead, they are playing the sectarian card to regain the respect they lost from their population and galvanize them against a new threat, the Shias. Most recently, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak accused Shias of being fifth-columnists, loyal to Iran. Egypt does not recognize Shiism as Islam. In Lebanon, during the demonstrations that followed the publication of the Danish cartoons, Sunni clerics led demonstrations condemning Shias and supporting Zarqawi, whom one cleric called "my sheikh, my emir," perhaps hoping they could appropriate the so-called "sheikh of the slaughterers" as their own to gain more leverage against the powerful Hizbullah. More ominously, in April 2006 Hizbullah accused nine men who were charged in an attempted assassination of Hizbullah’s general secretaries of being motivated by a desire to avenge killings of Sunnis in Iraq. In his last statement, Zarqawi specifically condemned Lebanese Hizbullah, making arguments from a Lebanese-Sunni point of view. The effects of Hizbullah’s victory remain to be seen, but they further discredit the unpopular Sunni dictatorships who criticized Hizbullah but who were always impotent to stand up to the Americans or Israelis despite their large armies and wealth. Hizbullah’s leader, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, became the most popular leader in the Arab world. But Iraq was pulling in a different direction, for Muqtada was no Hassan Nasrallah.

        If Iraq’s Sunnis are targeted on a larger scale the concept of the Iraqi nation-state will cease to be relevant. Salafi jihadis will pour in to fight the hated Shias. Shias will attempt to push Sunnis out of Iraq, for until they can control the key highways in the Anbar leading to Syria and Jordan, their economy will be threatened. Sunnis throughout the region will not tolerate the Shias killing Sunnis or a Shia Iraq. Iraq’s Sunni tribes extend into Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Their tribal kinsmen will come to their aid, sending reinforcements of men and materiel across the porous borders. Sunni retaliation against Shias or Alawis in Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and even Afghanistan could provoke sectarian clashes throughout the Muslim world. Kurdish independence could provoke Turkish intervention. At minimum it will push the Turks closer to the Iranians and Syrians, who will have the same concerns of Kurdish irredentism. At some point Iran will intervene, and if it threatens the waters of the Persian Gulf the entire world’s economy will be threatened. Iraq’s civil war will become a regional war.

        Rather than remaking the Middle East, the Iraq war has destabilized it. Sunnis throughout the region who already have so many reasons to hate the United States—Abu Ghraib, the Haditha massacre, the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl, Guantánamo—would now have one more, for the Americans would have handed Iraq over to the Shias. We are seeing the death throes, not the birth pangs, of a new Middle East.

        The Bush administration persists in its assertions of progress and clings to the idea that something called victory is possible. What victory? By every measure, life is worse for the Iraqis (leaving aside the Kurds, who don’t want to be Iraqis anyway). They are dying by the dozens or the hundreds every day—nobody even knows how many, since the Anbar province and much of the south, and even much of Baghdad, are black holes, with no information coming out. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died violently since the war began, probably eclipsing the number of Saddam’s victims. The ministry of health was recently ordered again not to disclose the number of casualties. The United Nations’ torture expert has stated that torture in Iraq is now worse than it was under Saddam. Over 1.5 million Iraqis have fled their country, to Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, and in late 2006 one European official in Syria estimated that up to 3,000 Iraqis a day were fleeing into that country.

        SCIRI’s calls for a Shia superstate have grown more strident, and Sunnis have made their own demands. Already in March 2006 Harith al Dhari reminded the rest of Iraqis that Sunnis had means of their own available: just as there was oil in the south, there was water in the center and the north, and it could be held off until "the barrel of water in the south was worth a barrel of oil," or it could flood the south and drown it. More recently, maps have been circulating on Sunni Iraqi Web sites showing an enlarged Anbar province including Baghdad, Mosul, and the so-called Sunni Triangle in a large Sunni superstate. Iraqi comedians joke about different neighborhoods of Baghdad becoming their own republics. Iraq is dying, falling apart.

        Most Profound Man in Iraq: farmer in a remote area who, when asked by Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area, replied "Yes, you."

        by johnny rotten on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:54:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're so right. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Nothing but bad choices and while laying blame is fine and appropriate, no answers readily emerge.

        Exactly.  Given how awful this all has been, I desperately want something good to come of it, but I just don't know whether it's possible.

      •  Now think about all the families of US soldiers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, greenearth

        who have had relatives killed in the Sunni Triangle ... and the picture gets more complicated ...

      •  remember the Vietnam war footage (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of the last helicopters leaving the embassy grounds and the throngs of our 'allies' trying to climb the fence to escape to safty as we pulled our last staffers out? I'm sure we will view similar scenes from Baghdad (apparently) in the not to near future. Bush and Bremmer learned nothing from Vietnam, and the Iraqis will pay for our leader's ignorance. I think the greatest sin of Fox News network is their turning "Ivy League elite" into a derogatory term, like the GOP/Reagan did "liberal". God forbid we should elect a well educated president with a world view. And yes I know Bush is a Yale graduate, but we all know there are those who graduate from prestigious private schools under the grace only afforded well heeled alumni's offspring.

        Stop wasting energy & bandwidth on flame wars and use it constructively at Your voice is needed!

        by tnichlsn on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 03:06:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  War is heartbreak... (30+ / 0-)

    unfortunately, the Decider thinks war is glorious.

    The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it -- GB Shaw

    by kmiddle on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:50:40 PM PST

  •  I don't understand (6+ / 0-)

    I'm not calling you out -- I just don't understand why American military presence is the only thing standing between your friend and his family and slaughter at the hands of the sectarians.

    Say hello to my little subpoena!

    by The Termite on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:53:18 PM PST

    •  He essentially told me this. (36+ / 0-)

      One of the strategies of some months (maybe a year?) ago was to utterly partition Baghdad.  So they've separated Sunni and Shi'ia and use the American military presence in Baghdad to keep the violence to a dull roar.  The Iraqi forces, for a host of reasons, either can't or won't hold that imaginary line, and if they leave, the Shi'ia will simply come over and slaughter the Sunnis, since they've been so conventiently identified by the partitioning.

      I don't know the accuracy of this statement, but this is what he is hearing from hi sfamily who is in Baghdad.

      •  Okay (10+ / 0-)

        I understand.

        I'm not sure if it's an accurate statement.  I certainly haven't seen it posited that starkly, even by the Bush White House or the Pentagon as an excuse for staying.

        Maybe that's because they don't want to remind everyone that they created that situation, I don't know.

        Appreciate the thoughtful response.

        Say hello to my little subpoena!

        by The Termite on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:06:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was the first time (19+ / 0-)

          I heard it put that way as well.  Yet he referenced speaking to a relative in Baghdad a day earlier, prior to our conversation.  He was really beside himself regarding the Study Group report, and his family was scrambling trying to figure out how they were going to stay alive.  Literally.  He also shared that the only reason they are alive now is because they don't go out.  Can you imagine it?  Jesus Christ on a crutch.  And in my name.

          •  I can't imagine it, no (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            churchylafemme, RenaRF

            I find myself a little more hopeful these days, but I can't begin to understand what it's like to be an Iraqi these days.  It's unfathomable.

            Thanks, Rena.

            Say hello to my little subpoena!

            by The Termite on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:33:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  "They" are not doing the partitioning (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            You are right that Iraqis are separating themselves so that they are in majority Sunni or majority Shi'ite areas, but there is no political authority imposing these choices.

            It's the people themselves who are making these choices to defend themselves against violence.  As a result, in addition to all the emigration to Syria, Jordan, and elsewhere, there's lots of internal displacement.

        •  Complicated... (17+ / 0-)

          The US has not actively partitioned Baghdad, but the level of violence in mixed neighborhoods is so high that the city is starting to partition itself.  The US patrols many of these mixed neighborhoods, but does not know enough to separate militia members from bystanders, and once they drive by, the killing starts again.  

          Unfortunately, I agree with RenaRF's friend that there is very likely to be an accelleration of ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in sections of Baghdad, should the US forces leave.  The more extreme of the Sunni insurgents, especially the foreigners, continue to target Shia' civilians.  The Shia' exercised restraint for a long time, but that restraint is gone.  There's a lot of Shia' militia members who are literally mad with rage and their own decades of trauma, and each time some idiot sets off a car bomb in one of their neighborhoods, the pressure increases to take it out on the Sunni community at large.

          Sadr then sets the dogs loose - either intentionally, or in some cases because he can't control them.  His militias are even worse than the Badr brigades, who used to be more prominent in the Ministry of Interior and were responsible for most outrages back in 2005.  Now, it's predominantly Sadr's movement.  

          If you want to get a sense of (a) how little control Sadr has and (b) the sort of man who will be ruling Baghdad shortly after we leave, check out this video clip of Sadr trying to control his PR man.  

          At the end of the day, we can't just leave.  I know others disagree, and I respect that.  But I know many people in Baghdad and our staff in southern Iraq and Kurdistan recognize this too.  I oppose attacking Sadr and I oppose a "surge" but I recognize that with no US forces in the region, some evil on a massive scale is about to take place.

          The cockroach has no power in chicken country.

          by ivorybill on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:32:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I feel like I should know this already... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RenaRF, greenearth

            ...but are you military or ex-military?

            Say hello to my little subpoena!

            by The Termite on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:34:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't disagree with you (10+ / 0-)

            overall, actually. I just think that "evil on a massive scale" is about to take place even with US forces in the region. And I just don't think there's anything we can do at this point to prevent it -- our losses will increase, and Iraqi losses will increase, and the only tiny scrap of hope is in the Iraqi government getting its shit together before it all spirals completely out of control -- which is nearing everyday, especially with idiots here running the show.

            I think we've passed the point of no return. I would be thrilled more than you know to be proved wrong on that point.

            •  Heard on NPR recently (9+ / 0-)

              sorry, don't know when exactly.  Stories of pogroms and forced evictions.  Some families found shelter with neighbors, Sunni helping Shi'ia, Shi'ia helping Sunni.  It's going on now.  It's going on while our troops are there.  More troops won't help much.  We don't speak the language.  We can't tell who is doing what.  As far as I can tell, we are only slowing the process down.  That's enough to buy the fortunate and able($$) time to escape.  The less fortunate are the ones we read about in the paper.

              No wonder Saud and Iran are talking about getting into the act.  The sects know that the Americans can't help them, so they appeal to allies who are close by.  You have to remember how many refugees are in neighboring countries.  Some of those countries won't get involved directly and openly, but some will.

              I expect it will be ugly.  I expect it will be brutal.  I also expect we can't do much expect make one final diplomatic effort.  Of course, BushCo's track record on diplomacy sucks, so I have little hope at all.

              I may sound pessimistic and cynical.  But right now my attempts at optimism sound like deus ex machina where a regional coalition meets and takes effective action quickly to pressure the political players to come to the table.  In 6 to 12 months.  It could happen.  Maybe.

              We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

              by Fabian on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:18:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  "We don't speak the language." (4+ / 0-)

                How was that allowed to happen?

                You'd think a six-week crash course in basic spoken Arabic would be standard by now for many or all American military deployed to Iraq.  It's not like we didn't know it would be needed.

                •  Heh. (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sarac, RenaRF, ivorybill, Topaz7

                  Basic language?  That's enough to give orders - but not enough to understand conversations.

                  We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

                  by Fabian on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:08:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think some minimal efforts have been made (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RenaRF, Fabian

                    to teach "cultural awareness".  But Fabian is right; these efforts are very primitive.

                    The military has cut its own throat in this regard by expelling people they have trained (at the Defense Language Institute) to speak Arabic because they are gay.  Stupid.

                    •  That's a perennial sore point with me. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      Gay? OUT!
                      Time and money?  wasted.....

                      We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

                      by Fabian on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 09:55:27 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Having been through (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      RenaRF, DSPS owl

                      six months of Peace Corps training, which is all about learning language fast (hours of classes daily), and cultural awareness since you're going to be living and working in the country for two years, I can tell you that no group crash course is going to make you much more aware or fluent in a new language and culture than a 3-4 year old, at best.

                      I mean, after six months in training, I still knew people who couldn't remember the most basic manners in the Muslim African culture we were in, and could barely order a meal, let alone ask people for directions.  Soldiers are more disciplined I imagine, but still.

                      And learning Arabic as an adult English-speaker, especially if you haven't seriously learned another language before, is no joke.

                      "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

                      by sarac on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:22:19 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  But we have a conflict of interest (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RenaRF, scoff0165

            With our oil policy that is also inciting violence.  Someone other than Americans is needed to keep the peace if an agreement can be reached between the sides in Iraq. We have badly overstayed our welcome.

            I see no good solution but I hope that someone will step up and negotiate a peace.

            "It's the planet, stupid."

            by FishOutofWater on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 03:49:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  This is how I understand things to be too (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            And, at the risk of overgeneralizing, it's also important to understand that vengeance is a strong cultural value in Arab culture.

            One of the achievements of the West is resting vengeance in the hands of the state.  That is, if you kill my mother, I cannot kill you as a means of getting even.  Only the state has the right to punish people who commit crimes.

            In Iraq, the state and the court system are weak, vengeance and pride are strong cultural attributes, and the result is massive bloodshed--as we are seeing.

          •  I hate to say it, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but I agree that withdrawing would be an even bigger disaster than what is there now.  As much as I have been opposed to this war, Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule applies here.  To leave and create a complete power vacuum would invite disaster on so many levels, for Iraqis, other nations in the region and, potentially, us.

        •  i'm surprised (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RenaRF, Unduna, Topaz7

          that you insist us leaving won't have any consequences. I've never heard that from any source. I am curious, can you link to something/someone who agrees with your POV?

          All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

          by SeanF on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:06:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I've generally seen agreement with this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnny rotten, RenaRF

          assessment, even Juan Cole.
          I really think that there is a broad understanding that these slaughters will commence once we leave, depending, to some very small extent, on how we leave.

          This is why there has been quite a bit of drama with Suadi Arabia ever since the ISG made it's report. That's why Saudi Arabia is threatening to support Sunnis - they will absolutely be be obliged to, and we will have forced them into that horrible position. It's bad.

          It's going to be ugly when we leave, even if we are very careful about it. We really shouldn't fool ourselves about this. We desperately need international assistance; I hope against hope for this everyday.

          "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

          by Unduna on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 08:38:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But why should any other country get involved? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Countries in the Middle East have some stake in the situation because they don't want to be overwhelmed w/ refugees (as is already happening), but they have countervailing interests--especially Iran, because they want the power that comes from supporting Iraqi Shi'ites.

            There is little reason for Europeans to be involved, and it's not clear that things would be better if they were.  I think people who think that other nations can save our bacon (including Jim Webb) must be smokin' something.

            •  I'm not all that intersted in (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RenaRF, Topaz7

              saving "our bacon".

              I'm interested in saving lives. Europe and some other continents might be equally as interested in doing the same.

              "America sucks so fuck Iraq and the entire Middle East with it" isn't going to do anybody any favors, and I really don't believe much of anyone feels that way, frankly.

              "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

              by Unduna on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 09:47:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You overestimate the generosity of nations (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                The Europeans--not to mention other Middle Eastern countries--have had plenty of opportunities to be involved in constructive ways, and they have been quite happy to let those opportunities go by.

                In the short terms, nations may be willing to help (e.g., in the wake of the tsunami), but most countries have been and are likely to continue to be unwilling to put their own people at risk on behalf of goals that do not directly affect their national interests.  

                NATO is now leading operations in Afghanistan, and both France and Germany have been extremely reluctant to put their soldiers into situations in which they might get hurt.

                The people who have the power to take action, both in our own government and in others, are interested in geopolitical issues, not in the lives of individual human beings.

      •  I wonder . . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, DSPS owl

        I once read somewhere the opinion that organizations such as the Red Cross and Medicins Sans Frontières have actually made war more destructive rather than less, because with someone on hand to provide relief to the civilian populace, they don't get fed up with the fighting as quickly, and conflicts end up dragging on longer.

        I've thought many times that our presence creates a similar situation in Iraq. Ordinary Iraqi citizens ought to be so fed up with the insurgents that they won't tolerate them anymore -- but as long as we're there, we draw all the resentment and hostility. Only after we leave will Iraqi resentment be refocused onto the insurgents.

        Who knows, I may be full of shit -- but surely no more so than our Decider.

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:10:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Plus .... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's likely, is it not, that the Sunnis will start murdering anyone who was seen to be too much on the side of the Americans, or the Iraqi government?

        Remember, this was what happened in Vietnam when we left -- the supporters of the South Vietnamese government were slaughtered.  Remember the boat people?  Those were South Vietnamese, too closely aligned with the Americans or with the government, trying to escape.

        Let's face it -- there's just no good way forward, or good way out.  We CAN'T just keep "holding the line" and keeping the sectarian forces from crossing that "imaginary line".  We just can't keep treading water.  We have to either fish or cut bait -- and fishing, let's face it, means tens of thousands more troops, which we don't have.  It means a draft, which the country is not going to support.  And even THEN, there's no guarantee, and little likelihood, of "victory", if by victory you mean a unified, peaceful, and democratic Iraq.

        Like Vietnam, this is going to be a tragedy .. it IS a tragedy.  I feel so much for your friend, and so sad at how we have let him down.

  •  more tragedy (6+ / 0-)

    It seems the good answers to your questions have gone away with the handover. This so desparately needs a diplomatic solution and our current admin seems so diplomatically tone deaf.

    •  diplomacy isn't macho to Bush. (4+ / 0-)

      He's got to prove he's a winner through use of brute force in order to obtain the image he wants - Mr. Rootin' Tootin' Shoot'em up Cowboy.

      My Karma just ran over your Dogma

      by FoundingFatherDAR on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 03:39:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But apart from Bush's inadequacies, (0+ / 0-)

      which I accept, what is the basis for diplomacy?  Most of the violence and the increasing risk of a failed state is the result of Iraqi attacks on other Iraqis.  A diplomatic solution requires leaders who can negotiate on behalf of a population that supports them.

      Look what is happening w/ the Palestinians.  They have turned from fighting Israel to fighting each other.  Israel cannot negotiate peace w/ them because there is no leader who speaks for the Palestinian people.

  •  Thank you, Rena; those are real people (25+ / 0-)

    who, indeed, will be slaughtered like animals when we leave.  We ain't see nothing yet, imo.  I have no ideas anymore, honestly; I just watch from the sidelines and pray.  We can't leave and yet we can't stay ... and that's the absolute hell of it.

    I'm on the cover of Time!! but who isn't? pfffft

    by PhillyGal on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:54:49 PM PST

  •  I'm curious Rena, (17+ / 0-)

    How does your friend feel about Dumbass?  I realize he's the one who invaded, but at this point, he's also the one refusing to leave.

    As a mother, I feel for your friend, but my heart lies with my children.  I did not give birth to them so they could die in a desert.  I realize that's a simple answer, but it's the only one I've got.  I grew up with a Marine father, and I believe in the military, I believe in protecting our coutry, and I believe sometimes war is inevitable.  But not this time, this war.  Iraq is a crime committed by one person, George Bush, and I will not sacrifice my children as restitution for that crime.

    "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine Pay attention Georgie - 2945+ dead Americans. Jesus Christ, make it stop already.

    by Miss Blue on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:56:35 PM PST

    •  It's heartbreaking Miss Blue. (22+ / 0-)

      I'm guessing here - but he won't badmouth the government or America.  He wants to be a part of America.  He definitely speaks knowledgeably about mistakes that were made - dismantling the Iraqi military and government - but he fundamentally believes things are better without Saddam and he's grateful for it.

      Yet there's a desperation for his family, a sense of time passing that could spell their deaths.

      I hear your answer.  I guess I'm wondering if there's some way to orchestrate this so that WE get out and his family still doesn't get slaughtered - I hear all the arguments about Iran and Syria and honestly, I think that's the only hope his family has.

      •  Diplomacy (11+ / 0-)

        That is the only possible solution.  Talk that can lead to UN forces as a peacekeeping force.

        And with diplomacy as the only answer, I guess we both know we are screwed until 2008, as Bush seems to view that as weakness.

        And you're right - it is heartbreaking all-around.

        "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine Pay attention Georgie - 2945+ dead Americans. Jesus Christ, make it stop already.

        by Miss Blue on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:04:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It bothers me to NO END (22+ / 0-)

          when I heard Tony Snow say last week that Democrats are "undermining the Presidency" by conducting their own diplomatic missions to places like Syria and Iran.  Yet Bush won't talk to them.  Will.  Not.  So what are they supposed to do - just SIT THERE??

        •  Then the UN forces will be car bombed. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RenaRF, Coherent Viewpoint, Outrider

          It's almost as though there is a blood lust afoot there. No matter how much I learn, I do not understand it. Why isn't there common ground in being Iraqi? Are not Sunnis and Shiites Iraqi? The price in human lives is too high not to make peace and brotherhood.  

          A society of sheep must beget in time a government of wolves. Bertrand de Jouvenel

          by Little Red Hen on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:10:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They may both be Iraqis (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Coherent Viewpoint, scoff0165

            but what little I know screams that they are tribal FIRST and a nation second.  Identifying as Sunni or Shi'ia carries more weight than identifying as Iraqi.  And the tribal hatred runs deep and wide.  I don't think there's common ground to be found for the radicals in the factions, and they are the ones pulling the strings right now.

            •  That's malleable. (7+ / 0-)
              What you are first can depend very greatly on trust in the larger entity, and trust is easily destroyed.

              Like most Canadians my age, I grew up being Canadian first. I still am. But I watched as a series of self-serving politicians fanned the flames of regional rivalry hoping for a transient political advantage, and damn near ripped my country apart.

              I won't try to speak for Quebec. But I lived in Manitoba during the constitutional wrangling, and I watched Manitobans change from feeling they were Canadians first, to Manitobans first.

              Religious and tribal and regional differences can be set aside in favor of cooperation in a nation, if you trust that you personally, and your family and friends, will be treated fairly within the nation, and that cooperation will help everyone prosper.

              However, it doesn't take much at all to eat away that trust. No nation is ever perfectly fair to all its citizens. All you need is for someone to focus your attention on injuries your group has received (ask Manitobans about the CF-18 affair), and suspicion can grow.

              The US did everything wrong when it set up the structure of the Iraqi government. Representation was assigned on a sectarian basis. Imagine if US political representation was chosen on the basis of Catholics, Protestants, and Blacks! That's how tone-deaf the US-fostered structure for the Iraqi government was.

              Yes, there's sectarian violence now, getting worse every day. You can't undo that, leave or stay, because you have no way to put back the trust that has been destroyed.

              Maybe the violence would have flared up anyway. But the US can't now pretend it didn't pour gasoline on the fire.

              Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

              by Canadian Reader on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:35:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  A large problem with Iraq, unlike Canada, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                is that there really is no "country" there.  Iraqis had a despot ruling them for the better part, if not all of their lives, who demanded fealty to him personally, not the state.  Tribal/sectarian loyalties were never replaced by loyalty to the idea of the country, that is, the citizens were never given even the perception of "ownership" of their country.  So the differences between them, when Saddam's government was dismantled, became more important to them than the fact that they had Iraqi citizenship in common - and those differences were centuries old and still obvious in the neighboring countries.  Even those who resisted being inflamed by tribal and sectarian differences have now been forced to choose sides - or had "their side" chosen for them.

                Every country has to go through a period of civil war to emerge as a democracy.  All these wars are bloody and brutal and kill citizens as well as soldiers.  But Iraq, this place is not a country, and whether the US stays or goes, now or later, the minority who would like it to be will not see it happen without a protracted period of violence and terror, if ever.

                (-5.25, -7.95) "Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price." - Joan Didion

                by SueDe on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 08:40:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  "This place is not a country." (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RenaRF, Little Red Hen, Topaz7, DSPS owl
                  I expect you have no idea what extremely bad associations that particular phrase has for a Canadian. (My immediate reaction is: How dare you? How dare you be so arrogant as to proclaim someone else's nation is not a country?) But never mind, that's another story. In your case it probably isn't arrogance, just a cultural blind spot.

                  From your other comments, I would guess you are American. You probably haven't had to think very deeply about what it takes to be a country. You've been raised on the "melting pot" metaphor, which is okay, I guess, if the kind of country you're striving to be is like the US. But it's not the only route to nationhood. Countries don't have to be just one ethnic group. They don't have to speak a single language; they don't have to have a single religion.

                  In fact, the only thing that's really required is a common desire to be a country. If that exists, every other obstacle can be overcome.

                  It's pretty patronizing to assume that just because they were ruled for so long by a despot, Iraqis would be devoid of patriotism. There has been an Iraq for as long as most Iraqis have been alive. If you can't love your leader, what does become the object of your love of the place where you were born? What possible evidence could you have that Iraqis don't love Iraq? I can certainly name a number of Iraqi bloggers who do. I'd recommend a few hours in the archives of Riverbend, for example.

                  As for the civil war... no, the US doesn't get off the hook for that so easily. The crime of deliberately inflaming factional rivalries cannot be handwaved away by saying "Every country has to go through a period of civil war to emerge as a democracy." That's a shallow, facile excuse -- and it's not even true of the US; your civil war came later and wasn't about democracy.

                  Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

                  by Canadian Reader on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 11:23:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  But if the government hadn't been established (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                on a sectarian basis, the Kurds and Sunnis would have had no representation because they are hugely outnumbered by the Shi'ites.  The Shi'ites constitute 60% of the population.  Only 17% are Sunnis.

            •  I think they were Iraqis 'first' (0+ / 0-)

              in very large measure when the invasion happened.  Both Raed and Riverbend have parents in mixed marriages and, of course, both Sunni and Shia aunts, uncles and cousins.  Juan Cole tells of Sunni tribes which have Shia branches and vice versa.  I think it was our insistence on sectarian political parties, as well as the other mistakes like firing everyone from their jobs, which created much of the mistrust.  And now the geni is out of the bottle.

              The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

              by DSPS owl on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 01:39:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Their society is different (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Iraq is a young country, not even founded by the people who live in it, but by the British.  

            IICR, alliegences in Iraq are roughly:


            Sorry, no linkage.  I'm looking for a citation.

            "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

            by Subterranean on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:46:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The saddest thing of all (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miss Blue, RenaRF, 3goldens

        To Bush, Cheney and cronies we human people are less than bugs to be squashed under their neocon feet.  They never think about the real people involved in this unholy mess, children starving and being blown to bits, families that would give all they have and more to just to be elsewhere.  The only answer I personally can come up with is to somehow get everyone out who want to get out.  Where to put them?  Heaven only knows.

        •  Bush is not a "neocon." (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnny rotten, RenaRF

          He went into Iraq because he thought it would be an easy victory.  The country had been weakened by its war with Iran; we had overrun it and destroyed its military during the Gulf War - it had no army to speak of, no air force, just Republican Guards and a few helicopters; Clinton had bombed the hell out of the place during his presidency, ending with a fluorish by pulling out the weapons inspectors in '98 and laying waste to what was left.

          It's easy to see how the real neocons Cheney had positioned in the administration were able to convince Bush it would be a cakewalk.  And then there was all that talk about our "national interests" (real OIL).

          George W. Bush isn't capable of having a philosophy as far-reaching as the neocons.  I'm sure he's never read the Project for a New American Century or any of its position papers.  He's just a hack - a stubborn, petulent, but very dangerous hack.

          (-5.25, -7.95) "Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price." - Joan Didion

          by SueDe on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 08:55:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  It is surprising... (6+ / 0-)

        ...but there are many Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq who do not hate Americans, although most of them have issues with Bush.  

        Just as there are many Americans who don't hate Iraqis and don't immediately assume the worst of every Arab they meet, so there are people in the Middle East who can see our individual humanity too.  They, and us, are the only hope for the future.

        Of course, there's plenty of Iraqis who want to kill the first American they can get their hands on, and there are plenty of Americans who think killing an Iraqi is less consequential than playing a video game.  

        The cockroach has no power in chicken country.

        by ivorybill on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:38:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Damned if you do damned if you dont. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have a feeling we'll be there a loooooooong time. Yesterday I was thinking W may actually call for 'tough love' style withdrawls, but today I have changed my mind.

    1.Gore 2.Edwards 3.Obama 4. H Clinton 5.Clark 6. Vilsacktacular Relentless!

    by ablington on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:04:16 PM PST

    •  We are still in Germany (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, montpellier

      An ex-military friend of mine recently pointed out that "we are still everywhere we have ever been".  Germany, Japan, the Balkans, Korea . . . We will be in Iraq a long time.

      •  We are not in Vietnam (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, subtropolis

        Most Profound Man in Iraq: farmer in a remote area who, when asked by Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area, replied "Yes, you."

        by johnny rotten on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 10:15:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are still there because (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        in none of those countries people kill each other or kill the American occupiers. It's safe to stay in those countries, IMO it's pretty unreasonable, but safe for civilians of those countries and Americans. Not so in Iraq, never been that way in Vietnam.

        Power ought to serve as a check to power - Montesquieu, 1748

        by mimi on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 11:47:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, we are there for strategic purposes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The Korean DMZ is actually not all that safe - certainly all these places are significantly safer than Iraq - but more importantly, we continue to have a significant strategic interest in having a footprint in these places - it allows us to project power.  Korea is perhaps the only exception to this.

          • Our presence in Japan keeps the Japanese pacifist (defensive military) and allows us to project power in Asia to provide regional stability.
          • Our presence in Germany keeps the Germans pacifist and allows us to counter the Russian influence (still).
          • Our presence in the Balkans is winding down as the ethnic/nationalistic 'sorting out' completes and stabilizes.  

          We will be in Iraq - perhaps just on bases out in the middle of the desert - for a long time, if we can, to be able to project military power in the middle east.  

  •  The choice for the U. S. (11+ / 0-)

    is either redeploy now and have Iraq suffer a bloodbath or epic proportions, or stay and oversee a protracted, slower-motioned bloodbath, with our soldiers as possible victims.  Either way, innocent Iraqis die and the reputation of the U. S. is damaged.  There are no good outcomes here.

    This horror was perpretrated by the President and his advisors, but it now stains all of us.

    -5.13,-5.64 (Insert witty, pithy sig line here.)

    by gizmo59 on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:08:07 PM PST

  •  Unfortunately the chimp has put us all in a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, Cato come back, gizmo59

    lose-lose situation. I personally don't think that once the troops leave, Baghdad will become a bloodbath. There will be reprisals, to be sure, but not on a massive scale.

    The essence of Liberalism is an attempt to secure a social order not based on irrational dogma. Bertrand Russell

    by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:09:00 PM PST

  •  I've Gotten Very Close To Simply Deciding... (17+ / 0-)

    ...on a complete pullout in the relatively near future.  I've been of two minds about it.  On the one hand, I know we can't win.  I know more troops will in no way lead to a "victory" in any terms I can understand.

    On the otherhand, if we pull out tomorrow or 4 months from now, as you say, some very innocent people get slaughtered.  It may be a thin line, it may not protect a huge number of Iraqis who are dying right now, but our presence is at least keeping places like Baghdad from becoming even MORE of a slaughterhouse.  The few Iraqis I've spoken to seem to feel that way.

    We broke this thing.  I can't cavalierly say "let's leave" when I have a pretty good idea of what that means.  On the other hand, as callous as it sounds, does our presence just delay the inevitable?

    I had always heard that, in general, Iraqis were more nationalistic than sectarian.  By that I mean, Shias & Sunnis (perhaps not Kurds as much) felt Iraqi first and their sectarian identity came second.  Perhaps that conventional wisdom has always been wrong.  But if it's true, perhaps some stability could allow for the chance for a consensus to be met.

    But if, as I now fear, we've essentially unleashed Yugoslavia-redux, I really don't know if our presence will actually help anyone stay safe in the long term.  Under Tito Serbs, Croats, Bosnians were all pretty quiet.  But when the strongman died, they looked at each other and said "let's pick up where we left off.  It may have been put on pause for 50 years, but I remember what you did to us 500 years ago."

    Who the hell knows.  I go back and forth on this all the time.

    •  It's haunting me. (10+ / 0-)

      I hear the analyses by people who know.  And they essentially say that only a dictatorship stomped on a civil war, pitting Sunni against Shi'ia.  That dictatorship, now removed, doesn't enforce the peace any longer.  We do, and we're doing a poor job of it.  And it probably is inevitable that this will continue to spiral - it's a question of whether it will happen slowly or quickly.

      Yet does that remove the moral culpability?  I realize we all revile the "Pottery Barn" rule, but in some respects, is that not exactly what we're contemplating?

      •  And When It's No Longer Abstract... (15+ / 0-)

        ...for you, it becomes all the more difficult.  I don't have Iraqi friends with family over there, but even so, I can only imagine what it's like, or what it's like to hear that first hand.

        "What's going to happen in Iraq is inevitable."  A sad statement, but you can swallow it when it's an abstract.  "Oh well, it's inevitable.  What a shame."  But when it's your Uncle Wassim who tells great jokes, and your Aunt Abla who used to babysit you before you moved to the States and gave you candy even though your mother didn't want her to, this "it's inevitable" line just isn't going to cut it.  The thought "how could you fuck it up this badly and then LEAVE?!?" must drive people with friends and family over there absolutely insane.

        Like I said, I don't know.  I keep thinking of my favorite study spot in Montreal, when I was a student at McGill University in the late 90's through 2002.  It was owned by an Iraqi immigrant family.  I'm a Jewish, it was a place where Muslim and Jewish and Greek immigrants and Quebecois and English Canadians from Manitoba just hung out and played chess, studied, bought some of the used books the cafe sold for 2 bucks Canadian.  They were some of the nicest, soft spoken, hardoworking and decent people you'd meet, this family.

        And they've got people over there.  God Damn It.

      •  The problem with the "pottery barn" rule (16+ / 0-)

        is that it assumes that the broken item can be replaced or paid for.

        We broke a country, and all signs to me say at this point that there's nothing we can do to fix it.

        This haunts me, too. I have a hard, hard time saying that I think we should leave -- because I have no doubts that chaos will almost certainly reign when we do. Unlike many posters here, I believe strongly that things there can get much, much worse than the current low level civil war. At the same time, I don't think we're helping, really -- I think we're buying a little bit of time for the government to get itself together, and simultaneously providing a rallying point for militants who want us out of there. I think that so long as Bush is our commander in chief, keeping our soldiers there is a recipe for disaster. And I strongly suspect we've passed every point of no return.

        I go back and forth on what I feel about it daily. I have to say I'm pretty much convinced that we're going to have to organize a steady pullout over the next 6 to 9 months, honestly. I think that very soon, it's going to start spiralling very quickly no matter what we do. Now what?

        Iraq pains me like nothing else in the world, and I wish beyond wishing that we'd been listened to when some of us predicted exactly this outcome before we ever went in.

        •  Of course (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, RenaRF, gizmo59

          I'm pretty much convinced that we're going to have to organize a steady pullout over the next 6 to 9 months, honestly

          when I wrote that, I meant "that's what I think we should do" at this point.

          Bush won't so that. So I suspect we're very shortly going to see exactly how bad things can get even if we don't leave.

          •  We're leaving. Effective Immediately. (9+ / 0-)

            Trompe l'oeil. If you aren't familiar with the French or the expression, you still know what I'm talking about. Fooling the eye. Only with Dems, it's worse. Dems persist in the notion that "reframing" the debacle in Iraq will allow America to leave gracefully. Wrong. Paint whatever you like on the surface, a wall is still a wall.

            I just spent the last hour on a couple of threads
            reading posts from otherwise extremely sensible folks writing about "what to do" about Iraq. That's like my kids, great kids, musing about how to reconfigure the laws of thermo-dynamics or restructure the universe. Musing about things clearly well outside the fucking parameters of both their comprehension and ability.

            Indeed, listening to the wise souls reminded of nothing quite so much as listening to the Republican gang of assholes discuss ending millions of lives like so many moves on a chessboard. No, strike that. Too intellectual. More like changing the curtains and repainting the walls to change the landscape outside. In short: delusional.

            Of course, Americans, Dems and Republicans alike want Americans to be safe. The problem is that both Dems and Republicans have managed to convince themselves that America can produce something other than what Americans have already produced to the exclusion of almost all else: record numbers of Iraqi dead.

            The US is a Marine kicking in the door of an Iraqi home in the middle of the night. The US is a pilot targeting a gathering in a hall in the desert and learning later a wedding party has been massacred. The US is killing twice the number of Iraqis than died in the Iran-Iraq war. A war that went on for eight long years because the two sides were too stubborn to admit defeat. Paint all the schools you want.

            Defeat. That's the US position in Iraq. It's a word Dems are terrified to use. But it's the right word. Dems didn't start this war and share little of the blame for its' prosecution, despite the efforts of Bushco to share the blame.

            Dems do, however, bear a great deal of responsibility for prolonging the blood-shed unnecessarily.

            Cowardice and a gut-level fear of telling the truth is killing thousands of Iraqs and hundreds of US troops every month.

            Courage is what's needed to step up and tell the truth. Courage is not something I'm seeing from Dems in progressive circles now. And if we don't see it here, we're sure as fuck not going to see it anywhere else.

            •  Not hundreds of troops every month (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              It's awful, but there are few months in which the US death toll has exceeded 100.  As I understand it, there were more than a million deaths in the Iran-Iraq war, so we are are not killing twice as many Iraqis as died in that war.

      •  dictatorship is bs (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, dyrrachium

        I too have heard people say Saddam is what kept Iraqis in line.  This is nonsense.  Saddam is the reason there is animosity between shias and sunnis, because his buddies the sunni minority persecuted the shias.
        Building walls has never worked, and it won't work in this case.  The more you separate people the more they will distrust each other.

        •  I Can't Claim To Be An Expert... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, RenaRF, ivorybill

          ...but your comment pretty much fits in line with what I had come across.  Essentially, Iraqi identity as the primary identity for most Shia and Sunni Iraqis predated Saddam's power.  I don't know if he was so much "keeping them apart" (again, I can hardly be considered a scholar in this area) as he was creating or at the very least exacerbating divisions between Sunnis and Shias by giving Sunni's all the power and abusing Shias.

          In that sense, if that is true, I don't see Iraq so much as a direct parallel to Tito's Yugoslavia, where he was clearly keeping people from killing each other that really, really wanted to...but the end result, at this time, is the same.  I don't mean that as a defense of dictatorship in any way, shape or form.  However when you get rid of a strongman AND screw up everything after that this badly, this is what you get.

          •  Bingo (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Spit, RenaRF, gizmo59, dyrrachium

            "However when you get rid of a strongman AND screw up everything after that this badly, this is what you get."

            That's exactly my point.  The only reason Saddam is looking good to some is because we are looking so bad.  I just resent it when some people imply that somewhere Iraqis are less-than-civilized and so deserve a dictatorship.  Not saying that's what you said, but others have eluded to that.  That kind of talk smacks of racism.

            •  It's A Way... (7+ / 0-)

     try to get out without taking the lion's share of responsibility.  "How were we to know they hated each other so much?  They can only work under a dictatorship!"

              It ignores the fact that, even after the invasion, the shit we're seeing now wasn't going on.  Not for a good long while.  We did SOMETHING (or somethings) to get it here.  "Iraqis can only exist peacefully under dictatorship" is a way to get us off the hook for that very evident fact.

              •  yeah total cop out (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Canadian Reader, RenaRF

                I don't think we should have started this war, but now we must take full responsibility for what's happening there.  I'm appalled by some democrats going off about how Iraqis must take responsibility for their country.  Some nerve!

                •  I understand your reasoning but (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Canadian Reader, RenaRF, dyrrachium

                  how can we take the lion's share of the responsibility without openly wielding the lion's share of the power? Right now we're moving in the exact opposite direction. The elected Iraqi government is supposed to be in charge, and we're supposedly in the process of turning more and more military decisions over to them. We've been doing more than hint that al Maliki must force the militias to disarm, and he won't do it.

                  So do we unilaterally declare the purple fingers to be null and void? After we did that, of course, we would have absolutely zero credibility as far as "guiding" the Iraqis through another election cycle after the country was stabilized.

                  But even if we eliminated the current Iraqi government,could we stabilize the country with 30,000 more American troops and the Iraqi soldiers and police that would supposedly be directly under our control? Iraqi army absenteeism rates would soar even higher than they are now, and we would have even less ability to detect militia moles than Iraqi officials. And almost all Iraqis would hate us even more than they do now. My guess is that the sectarian violence would diminish, as Americans became the targets of choice.

                  I honestly don't see how we can take responsibility except by trying to beg and buy the help of nations that could actually make a positive difference in Iraq. If they won't help, I just don't know what we can do.

                  Has Rush Limbaugh's water broken yet?

                  by Cowalker on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:18:45 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I See What You Are Saying... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    and the fact that I can't really make a counterpoint to it shows how truly messed up this situation is.  How many times have I thought "Is this really the best we/I can come up with?"  Or to one option or another, seeing the sense in it and then pausing to think, "but wait...that doesn't make sense because of A., B. & C...."

                    Nothing makes sense.  There are no good options.  It's a matter of figuring out which is the least horrible.

          •  No, the Sunni-Shi'a rivalry is as old as dirt. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It has existed since the seventh century, with some periods being worse than others.

            •  That's True In General... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...but I had come across some information that suggested that Iraqi/Arab nationalism had deeper roots in Iraq than in other places, and that the sectarian divide was not as stark in the 50s, 60s, and pre-Saddam 70s as result of that.  

              That may not be true, or may be a huge over-simplification.  But I've heard it said by Iraqis, for whatever that's worth.  I know we can all be guilty of dressing things up in the way we'd like them to be rather than how they are.

    •  Unification (8+ / 0-)

      Sometimes happens only because of a single universally despised person or entity in control.

      When the Soviet Union disintegrated, I predicted that conflict due to the various cultural/ethnic differences which preceded the Soviet Union would rise.  In other words, yes, going back to clashes that span back decades, generations, or even centuries.

      I still wonder if somehow it wouldn't be best if Iraq were partitioned into 3 separate countries.  IIRC, there's an uneven distribution of natural resources, which would likely mean one of the 3 regions would be impoverished.

      There is no good answer.  There's bad answers, and worse answers.

      One place that surprised me, however, was South Africa.  I was absolutely convinced that significant change in that country's governance would not happen there without a terrible bloodbath.  Yet it happened with relatively minimal loss of life.  How did that happen?  Are there any lessons to be learned from that particular less-bloody revolution?

      •  South Afrca transitioned because there (5+ / 0-)

        leaders who sought real peace, not power.  People who sacrificed for peace, people who put their own freedom on the line and earned the respect of the people, people like Mandela and Tutu (and many others).

        There was an incredible amount of violence as people jockeyed for power in the runup to the elections and it really looked touch and go but once Mandela won, people realized they had to go with the arrangement.  

        My concern with South Africa is that there are lingering issues there, and as the generation who fought apartheid, but also pushed for peace passes on, some of those smoldering ashes could flare again.  Not specifically between whites and blacks but ethnic divisions between Inkatha (Zulus) and the ANC.  

        Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government.

        by JEB on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 02:59:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  and crime is unspeakably bad there now (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          south africa has the most violent crime of just about any non-failed state in the entire world.  I pray they hang together and start to solve those problems.

        •  I like your post, but there are those who have a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          different side of the story. They maintain that if Cuba had not sent 25,000 or so troops to Africa to join various resistance movements, then South African forces--both military and paramilitary--would have secured power and widened apartheid even beyond South Africa.
             I say this not to be disagreeable, just to point out that it appears we have not gotten a clear treatment of the problems in foreign countries through our major networks and newspapers--which is understandable because they cut back foreign coverage by some 80 percent. Thus media plays a role in underinforming the public, and makes it more possible for the public to buy into a military solution, as we will not invest sufficient money anywhere to help promote a diplomatic one, IMO.

      •  Partition would be even more bloody (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, dyrrachium

        Most of what I've read about partition (that is, official partition rather than people moving to areas where they feel safe w/ their co-religionists) indicates that there are several reasons why it isn't likely to work.  

        (1) The countries in the region would not put up with it for various reasons (e.g., Turkey does not want an independent Kurdistan on its border; the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia do not want Iraqi Shi'ites to develop even stronger ties to Iran).
        (2) Partition would result in an unequal distribution of results that would, in turn, lead to enduring conflict w/ the potential for internal flare-ups.
        (3) Partition would be bloody awful, as people seek to take over areas that formerly belonged to others and the militias seek to expel the people who "don't belong".  

        •  While The Developing Issues B/W... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...the Sunni Saudis and to a slightly lesser extent the Jordanians and Shiite Iranian influence has gotten more play, part of what you say needs to reinforced, because some people either aren't aware or have forgotten about it.

          Turkey will not put up with an independent Kurdistan.  Period.  That alone seems to derail partition.  Although perhaps slightly less firm about it, there's a good chance Iran wouldn't put up with an independent Kurdistan either.

          Of course, there's a very real chance that Iraqi Kurdistan would eventually want to break off anyway (it seems right now the more mainstream parties up there are willing to be technically part of Iraq while greatly independent in reality).  So perhaps that particular problem will come in time, no matter what.

        •  Hm... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Well, here's my gut reaction.  Turkey wants something that we and the EU have the power to give.  It has been witheld from them up until this point, and therefore becomes a wedge - a bargaining chip in the entire scheme of things.

          Iran and Syria are similar - they want things that others in the region have the power to grant.

          I guess what I'm saying is that all things can be negotiated; but that would entail a careful examination of who is the correct person (country) to carry the message, how that message is crafted, what the desired outcomes would be, and what we (the US) have to give up to get others to act on our behalf.

          •  The Problem Is... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DSPS owl

            ...with Turkey at least, is they truly believe that if Iraqi Kurdistan becomes its own country, they will no longer be able to maintain the integrity of their own country.  And they might be right.  With an independent Kurdistan bordering the Kurdish region of Turkey, it might very well in the long term increase the likelihood of PKK or others upping the ante.

            At the very least, it's a problem I can't imagine Turkey not trying to, uh, "solve" regardless of any bribes thrown their way.  Even a quick 'n easy entrance into the EU would probably be seen as less important than keeping the geographic integrity of the country in place.  Of course, I might be wrong.

    •  I understand exactly where you are ... (18+ / 0-)

      ...coming from. But here's the problem: General Wes Clark - for whom I have considerable respect - implicitly rejected Russ Feingold's August 2005 proposal for a withdrawal of American troops (that would, if accepted, have been completed within a few days). The general's argument, without saying so directly, was pretty much what you're saying - the if-we-leave-comes-the-apocalypse argument.

      With each passing month the difficulties are compounded and the chances for a successful outcome are reduced. Urgent modification of the strategy is required before it is too late to do anything other than simply withdraw our forces.

      That was 16 months ago. In those passing months, 1099 Americans have been killed in Iraq. Along with about 50 other "Coalition" fighters. And gawd knows how many Iraqis. 100,000? 200,000?

      There simply is no evidence whatsoever that the American presence is doing anything to tamp down the violence, and plenty of evidence that it is making things worse. The problem, it seems to me, with the if-we-leave-bloodbath scenario is that it fails to deal with the if-we-stay-bloodbath scenario.

      As I have noted repeatedly for two years, most recently on November 12, Out Now. Best of Bad Options. Excerpt:

      Contrary to the conventional epithets spewed about us who believe in Out Now!, we aren't simple-minded kumbaya singers who think the flowers that weren't tossed in the path of U.S. troops on their way into Baghdad will suddenly blossom when the last transport heads out of the airport and Iraqi security is finally turned over to the Iraqis. Most of us, I believe, know full well that the bloodbath to come could even be worse than the one that has so far killed and maimed hundreds of thousands, drained treasuries, wrecked infrastructure and poisoned millions of people's minds worldwide against not just the U.S. government, but also against the American people.

      That I support Out Now! doesn't make me sanguine about the consequences of withdrawal any more than I was sanguine about the consequences of invasion around June 2002 when it became clear that nothing was going to block the Bush Regime from marching into Iraq. ...

      Here we are 44 months into the war and occupation. Every step along the way, as the situation deteriorated, we've been told that matters would get worse if the U.S. pulled out its troops. When anyone - think-tank writers, antiwar protestors, Feingold, Kerry, Murtha - said that the American presence had become part of the problem, not the solution, someone would hoist up the apocryphal pottery barn rule - "you break it, you own it."

      We heard a version of that rule again today after Levin's remarks became known: The U.S. created the mess in Iraq, therefore, it has a responsibility to "fix it." Pushing for a withdrawal or redeployment of the troops before that fix is well on the path to completion will be catastrophic, say many people, including some Kossacks. As if the djinn of sectarian conflict unleashed by the NeoImps can be stuffed back into his bottle if only the right new military formula can be found.

      As John Murtha said last November, that is not the case:


      "I said two years ago[2003], the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress."

      Still true.

      What more proof is needed that staying is not better than leaving? America cannot unfubar what it has done since March 2003 in Iraq.

      •  I think you nailed it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The situation in Iraq is so muddled that no one can say what would happen after a rapid withdrawal.

        Nobody can be sure there will be a blood bath. Nobody can say there will be a decrease in violence.

        Either outcome is possible.

        In Vietnam withdrawal without "fixing" that country led to a reunification of North and South and a decrease in violence.

        The "bad" guys won, but I would say that Vietnam is now better off without the colonialist/imperialist meddling of France and the U.S.

        Vietnam and Iraq are culturallly worlds apart, but if one found a path to national reconciliation, the other may as well. And if they don't, then let them determine their own terms of separation.

        Only lunatics don't tire of war eventually.

      •  Agree but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "There simply is no evidence whatsoever that the American presence is doing anything to tamp down the violence, and plenty of evidence that it is making things worse. The problem, it seems to me, with the if-we-leave-bloodbath scenario is that it fails to deal with the if-we-stay-bloodbath scenario."

        I'm not sure our presence there is making it worse as far as the sectarian violence is concerned -- and that is what could lead to mass slaughter if we leave.  We are an occupying force with a legal obligation to provide security.  Remember that we went IN to Bosnia, etc. to stop that kind of thing and were successful.

        I think maybe what WE should be advocating is getting sufficient troops there to just STOP the fighting.  Seriously, if there were troops on every single corner in the country there would be very little violence.  You have to agree that one or two million more troops might accomplish that but it isn't going to happen under Bush.  20,000, even 50,000 more can't do that.  THAT is a recipe for incremental escalation.

        Yes, that many troops would cost a lot and would mean a draft or begging (and paying) the UN to send them.  But if it could happen it WOULD stop the violence and allow the country to calm down and start building institutions of justice and peace.

        -- Seeing The Forest -- Investigating how the Right is beating the Dems

        by davej on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 09:02:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Protecting the population (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RenaRF, DSPS owl

          Last night, I heard a long interview on NPR w/ a General Keane, who talked about the idea that our goals in Iraq have never included protecting the population.  That is, we've been all about catching bad guys rather than establishing peace in neighborhoods, which would, theoretically, lead people to cast out those who are committing the violence.  This is, apparently, standard counterinsurgency strategy, i.e., make a genuine effort to make things better for people and thus lead them to withdraw their support from terrorist or insurgent organizations.

          I don't have time to describe everything he said in detail, but it made a lot of sense to me.

        •  A million troops isn't going to ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...happen under ANYbody.

      •  We can't be sure. (0+ / 0-)

        There simply is no evidence whatsoever that the American presence is doing anything to tamp down the violence, and plenty of evidence that it is making things worse.

        That's not what RenaRF's friends are saying.  Even without that testimony, this argument doesn't wash because we don't have a control group.  We don't know what it would be like if we left; the experience we have all involves time when we were there.  But there are many knowledgable people--both Iraqi and American--who argue that the sectarian violence would increase dramatically if we pulled out.

    •  That's where I am. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've always felt that we bought it, and we owe it to the Iraqi people to try and help them pick up the pieces.  But our continued presence there is not doing any good.  Only diplomacy and engagement with Syria and Iran leave any hope for a semblance of stability in Iraq.

      A horrible, horrible tragedy.

      If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. - Cpt. Ian Fishback

      by Rick Oliver on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:57:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is wrong (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I had always heard that, in general, Iraqis were more nationalistic than sectarian.  By that I mean, Shias & Sunnis (perhaps not Kurds as much) felt Iraqi first and their sectarian identity came second.  Perhaps that conventional wisdom has always been wrong.  But if it's true, perhaps some stability could allow for the chance for a consensus to be met.

      I'm pretty sure that's inaccurate.  Even more basic than sectarian, they are tribal.  There is little sense of a national identity.  The same is true in Afghanistan.  That's why we're still fighting warlords.

  •  I'm hoping that a Dem Congress (4+ / 0-)

    will be able to provide competent military commanders on the ground in Iraq enough political cover so that they can make the best of a no-win situation until we can put a Dem in the WH in '08. Beyond that, I've resorted to prayer because, as a practical matter, I can not envision outcomes beyond ugly, uglier and ugliest with the Bushies in charge. They are utterly incapable of doing the diplomatic heavy lifting required to improve the situation even if they were inclined to do so.

    •  Prayers indeed (5+ / 0-)

      Pictures in my mind... the eyes of the children.  They look guilty of absolutely nothing.  I only see sadness and despair.  Who in the bloody hell do Bush and his people think they are?  Did they go into this thinking that an Iraqui mother looked on her newborn child with any less love than an American mother?  My prayers are for the children and for the state of my own immortal soul, as I never in my wildest dreams thought to hate, as I hate Bush and Cheney.

      •  Hate is withering to the soul (6+ / 0-)

        When Bush was selected I was disgusted, and expected an administration that would kick the environmental can down the road, continue to make the rich richer and pander to the religious right with token legislation.

        I had no idea that their evil combined with their incompetence would bring me to such a pitch of hatred. I never expected such a harvest of horror as this administration has produced.

        I hate what they've done to my emotional life as well as what they've done to the world.

        Has Rush Limbaugh's water broken yet?

        by Cowalker on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:25:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very sad situation... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, dyrrachium

    I'm wondering--what if we had the opportunity to prevent the genicide in Darfur or in Rwanda before it happened?  Or if not prevent, to limit it somehow, by the presence of U.S. forces.  How would we feel about the presence of those forces there?

    I don't know what the answer is.  I don't know if the presence of U.S. forces is preventing a genocide or not.  I'm concerned about what will happen when U.S. troops leave, but I still think it's important to start to get them out.  Increasing troop levels by 35,000 is ridiculous and will do nothing to help the situation.  We would need to add 250,000 troops to really start to secure the country; but we can't do that.

    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. -- Thomas Jefferson [-4.25, -5.33]

    by GTPinNJ on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:17:24 PM PST

  •  Great diary (6+ / 0-)

    and this is something I have been writing about for some time.  It's also why the Saudis are so pissed off.

    I would recommend setting aside a few billion dollars for a resettlement program to be worked out with the Saudis, Jordanians, Turks, and Egyptians.  It will be like a second Palestinian diaspora, but we need to save as many people as we can, and this will help smooth over some ill feelings with our (former?) allies.

    •  What is the reality (0+ / 0-)

      of getting other forces from the region in there to hold the peace while such a thing happened?

      •  Right now (7+ / 0-)

        they are not very good.

        Sending in foreign Sunni troops to defend (and evacuate??) Sunnis in Baghdad and elsewhere?

        We might do better if we could get Maliki to set up something where Sunnis can sell their property to the state for a respectable price and where the people can be given safe transport and temporary housing in neighboring countries.

        •  Would that create another Palestinian situation? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          (By no means being confrontational here.) Would there be a sub class of Iraqi refugees burning with hatred and wanting their homes back, for generations? Still, better than wholesale slaughter.

          If the God that Bush purports to believe in exists, he and his cronies will be damned to some new level of everlasting Hell.

          U.S. Citizen Abroad? Sustain the Momentum! Join and contribute to Democrats Abroad at:

          by worried sick on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:55:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, no other country wants a group of people (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            worried sick

            who are dissatisfied because they have been driven out of their own country and have no loyalty to the country where they're now living.  If that weren't true, the "Palestinian problem" could have been settled ages ago.  They needn't have lived as refugees in Jordan all these years; they could have become citizens.

    •  Interesting idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, Tex Kosmaniac Dem Lady

      We have a moral obligation to save as many Iraqis as we can, and this is the best idea I've seen that could conceivably work.  I'm sure there are a raft of practical problems that would need to be worked out, though.  Unfortunately, I'm sure it's a nonstarter as long as Bush is President.

      -5.13,-5.64 (Insert witty, pithy sig line here.)

      by gizmo59 on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:30:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Disagree. Large diasporas increase civil conflict (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Canadian Reader, RenaRF


      History matters because if a country has recently had a civil war its risk of further war is much higher. Immediately after the end of hostilities there is a 40% chance of further conflict. This risk then falls at around one percentage point for each year of peace.

      However, how much history matters depends upon the size of the diaspora. For example,some countries have very large diasporas in the USA relative to their remaining resident population, whereas others do not. Suppose that our otherwise ordinary country has ended a civil war five years ago and now wants to know what are its chances of peace during the next five years. If the country has an unusually large American diaspora its changes of conflict are 36%. If it has an unusually small diaspora its chances of conflict are only 6%. So, diasporas appear to make life for those left behind much more dangerous in post-conflict situations.


      Why are diasporas so dangerous?

      Recall that empirically if a country which has recently ended a conflict has a large diaspora living in the USA, its risk that the conflict will resume is sharply increased. There is little mystery about this effect. Diasporas sometimes harbor rather romanticized attachments to their group of origin and may nurse grievances as a form of asserting continued belonging. They are much richer than the people in their country of origin and so can afford to finance vengeance. Above all, they do not have to suffer any of the awful consequences of renewed conflict because they are not living in the country. Hence, they are a ready market for rebel groups touting vengeance and so are a source of finance for renewed conflict. They are also a source of pressure for secession. For example, the (peaceful) secession of Slovakia from the then Czechoslovakia was initiated not in Czechoslovakia itself, but in the Czechoslovak diaspora organizations in North America. City-by-city, the diaspora organization divorced. The reductio ad absurdum of such a trend would be for immigrant populations of the USA and the European Union to split their countries of origin into tiny ‘ethnic theme parks’, while themselves enjoying the advantages of living in nations with scale and diversity.

      The author, Paul Collier, was arguing that because the economic dimensions of civil war have been largely neglected, both governments and the international community have missed substantial opportunities for promoting peace. The issue of the role of a diaspora is relatively minor in the article and often linked to an American diaspora but, I think, still useful to this discussion.

      The first wave of an Iraqi diaspora was certainly the result of Saddam. Much of the economic and intellectual elite fled under his reign and their anger (and money) have probably had some part in the current civil conflict. I can’t help thinking that the three-state solution (Sunni, Shiia & Kurds) is Collier’s reductio ad absurdum:  splitting the country into ethnic theme parks.

      Those who could have already fled this war. I think forced resettlement – however well intended – will solve little and only force Iraq into an even greater abyss.

      •  you know (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MrSandman, RenaRF

        i don't disagree with that, but we are not talking about advocating a forced resettlement.  We are talking about offering people a chance for survival.  We do have responsibility for that.

        •  I know. But we have had so many "solutions" (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, BooMan23, RenaRF, JRG, gizmo59

          . . . that have only made the situation worse, making it more impossible to resolve in any equitable way. Diversity is a cornerstone of stability -- and I'm concerned that if we remove one group (willing, I  assume) for their own safety that they may never be able to return. Read the article: creating a majority without regard for any minority class will destroy any shred of tolerance and democracy.  We, in our arrogance and ignorance, will think we have protected the lives of the vulnerable and get the hell out of Dodge with our consciences assuaged.

          Don't get me wrong. I don't want any more people to die in this mindless charade of a war. We -- and certainly Bushco -- never understood the region nor the issues that give rise to terrorism.

          We have to find solutions that go to the heart of why this happens without the rhetoric of "They hate us for our freedoms" which has nothing whatever to do with it.

          How many Middle Eastern refugees are out there due to civil strife or sectarian violence? You would agree that people fleeing their country due to war are refugees? Where are all these people going to go -- all these Iraqiis, and Lebanese, and Palestinians?

          We refuse to talk with Iran or Syria. Do we really believe that the Sauds will say come-one-come-all? Jordan, maybe? Based on what? A hope and a prayer?

          Will we offer asylum in this country while, at the same time, we put them on a watch list?

          Where will they go and what will happen to their country if they do?????

        •  I think MrSandman is focusing on the effect (0+ / 0-)

          of expatriates who have money and resources because they live in the U.S. They romanticize the Old Country and finance efforts to change the regime that made the country dangerous or inhospitable to them.

          The Irish are an excellent example. I remember many years ago my father would go to meetings of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and contribute to the Robert Emmett Society. My mother gave him grief over this, because she was convinced that the money did not go as advertised to the widows and orphans of Irishmen killed by the British or Orangemen. She thought the money went for guns or bombs. I never found out, and possibly none of the second generation Irish who belonged actually knew.

          But I do know that Americans helped finance some of the violence between Irish factions. Money came from Americans whose grandparents, or even great-grandparents came from Ireland. These people wouldn't have moved back to Ireland to live, Brits or no Brits. It was all about a fantasy of the past.

          That's no reason to refuse refuge to Iraqis who are in danger, but it's a risk we should be aware of and try to manage.

          Has Rush Limbaugh's water broken yet?

          by Cowalker on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:42:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Yugoslavia redux (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hoolia, horsewithnoname, RenaRF, JRG, Ice Blue

    Only morons failed to see from the beginning that Iraq is a false Western construct that can only be held together by a dictatorial sectarian strong man.  Hell, Bush's daddy knew it.

    Without Hussein, division and ethnic "cleansing" are the only possible results.  Period.  You don't set aside more than a millenium of religious conflict with diplomacy.  That, I am sorry to say, happens only with seismic religious changes.

    So what is the answer?  It is as easy as it is ugly- separate the people who WILL kill each other given the opportunity, and either defend them yourself or let them do it. And that doesn't mean establishing an "Iraqi" army, when you are really just arming and training insurgents and death squads.

    I don't like it, but until we acknolwedge that holding together Iraq is as likely as holding together Yugoslavia, or Pangea, we are just pissing in the wind.

    Now Hypnocrites cartoons are for sale on T-Shirts, buttons, and more.

    by dhonig on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:23:32 PM PST

    •  Interesting. (0+ / 0-)

      So you're basically saying give them all guns, right?  At least level the playing field.  But doesn't that favor the Shi'ia by sheer numbers alone?

      •  That's for them to work out. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, JRG

        We are caught in the crossfire of a what is substantially a thousand-year-old religious war over which sect is the rightful successor to Mohammed.

        You saw how the Muslims reacted to satirical Dutch cartoons.  You saw how the Muslim world reacted to Salman Rushdie writing a fairly mediocre novel.  This is a world that you expect will welcome a diplomatic solution?  We have the European parable of the Reformation in our history books, yet we do not recognize its counterpart in the Middle East as it plays out before our eyes.

        this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

        by horsewithnoname on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:36:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's not a religious war (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, Cowalker

          But thanks for enlightening us about how muslims are less civilized than you are.

          We say how some people reacted to cartoons?  What the hell does that have to do with anything??

          •  I tend to agree with the opinion that even though (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RenaRF, DSPS owl

            it is sectarian, it's not essentially religious. It's about grievances and power and revenge.

            Has Rush Limbaugh's water broken yet?

            by Cowalker on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:45:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  It has to do with tolerance (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If people are constantly offended, they cannot live in peace with people who differ in important ways.  Yes, the Danish cartoons were meant to provoke, but it should be clear that the sense of grievance in many parts of the Muslim world is such that little provocation is required to produce violent reactions.

            See my comments above re the centrality of vengeance in Arab culture.  Any anthropologist would tell you that it is a core value.  You do not kill someone's brother and get away with it; neither do you expect the state to impose retribution.  You get your friends together, and you go kill the person who killed your brother and, for good measure, some of his brothers too.

      •  Not quite (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, JRG

        I'm saying give them all countries, armies, and borders, along with whatever mutual defense treaties, alliances, assistance, etc., are necessary to allow them to defend themselves.  If there is a Sunni/Iraq, it will immediately form defensive alliances with the Saudis, which will give Iran serious pause in allowing what will inevitably be its Shi'ia/Iraq puppet to attack.

        The real fly in the ointment here is Turkey, which will vehemently oppose a Kurd state.  The only way to make that palatable to Turkey is to put a permanent, a la Korea, "tripwire" US force between them, and to offer Turkey BIG incentives, like a free trade agreement to offset their disappointment with rejection by the European Union.

        Now Hypnocrites cartoons are for sale on T-Shirts, buttons, and more.

        by dhonig on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:37:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Partition them. (0+ / 0-)

          I see what you're saying.

        •  Well, there will still be ethnic cleansing with (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          partition, or rather, there's nothing about partition in itself that stops ethnic cleansing.  Wherehever the lines are drawn, there will be those who want to remove the minorities that have mixed into a particular area and send them to THEIR area.

          Partition will probably just make ethnic cleansing less chaotic since the areas to be cleansed are clearly set forth with borders.  

          By the bye, some say Turkey is getting along with the Kurdish autonomous region better nowadays, seeing it as a source of stability.

          It's the proto-fascism

          by Inland on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 03:30:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  But they haven't been rejected yet (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Some elements of their plan have been deemed unsatisfactory, but no decision has been made regarding Turkey's eventual inclusion in the EU.

      •  That may be the real Bush plan (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, Turquine, Yamara

        let them all kill each other, and when they are all gone, scoop up the oil.

        Bushco really doesn't care about humans as humans, only as resources.  The Iraqi people are of no value to W, other than as a symbol for him to wave while speechifying about their freedom and democracy.  Only purple fingers make the news, not blood-red corpses.  They really are that evil, Rena, and that chills my bones.

        The terror threat color should be brown, for BULLSHIT! -7.00, -5.38 Support ePluribus Media

        by Jesus was a Liberal on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:48:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is also an indictment of the rest of us (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          (collectively, not all of us individually) For letting them do it.  Iraq has now cost more than inflation-adjusted Vietnam; by the end, estimates range from one to two trillion dollars.  Would the American (or European, or Japanese) people support an alternative energy program that would eliminate our dependence on oil, for a price tag of two trillion dollars (not to mention 3,000+ American lives and an untold number of Iraqi ones)?  I doubt it.  

          We will spend that kind of blood and treasure to destroy things, but not to create them.  That's why we can be led into disasters whose sole purpose is to subsidize various already-established interests--i.e., the past--at the expense of our future.  It's really the same thing as Bush's prescription drug benefit--it's easier to shovel out cash to various vested interests than to try to reform the system, because the public won't support reform of the pharmaceutical business.  It's easier to convince us to spill our blood for the profit of the oil companies than to invest in a viable energy future.

          Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. ~Louis Hector Berlioz

          by Turquine on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 09:46:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  yugo, they go, we all go (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Canadian Reader, RenaRF, DSPS owl

      it seems to me that the underlying assumption in this sub-thread is that Iraqis are unable to see past the Shia/Sunni divide, that, alas, there are no cooler heads to prevail.  I dont quite agree.  given the proper mediators (fellow arabs/muslims), the proper distribution of power among the three groups, and an absence of foreign/western meddling , i believe a united iraq can exist.

      Freedom only for the members of the government, only for the members of the Party - though they are quite numerous "- is no freedom at all." -Rosa Luxemburg

      by un figlio della sinistra on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:49:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the key. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Canadian Reader, Geenius at Wrok

        It's not a UN issue or an American issue.  It's a middle eastern issue and the rest of the middle east should be addressing it.

        Yet what you describe flies in the face of everything Bush et al seem to want to achieve/still can be achieved.  

        •  you hit it on the head (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

           what i described does fly in the face of what Bushco wants to achieve, because what i described would take influence away from the US and give it to iraqis.  If we pull out and arabs find a way to make a peaceful unified iraq, can you imagine how bad would W look?  Can you imagine what his what type of weight his wishes would hold?  If Iraqis could truly stand w/o the US's support, where would we hang our oil hording hat?  Not in Iraq and not in Saudi Arabia- because we just allowed a predominantly Shia state to pop up on SA's doorstep.  

           Bush will not give up that sort of influence.  he will not give up the profits contrling a country like Iraq would provide.  He is willing to sacrifice a country worth of people in the process- that is the scary part.

          Freedom only for the members of the government, only for the members of the Party - though they are quite numerous "- is no freedom at all." -Rosa Luxemburg

          by un figlio della sinistra on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:14:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  absent foreign/western meddling (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I believe three relatively stable nations can exist where Iraq once was.

        "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." - Will Rogers

        by wayward on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 08:17:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What is an "Iraqi"? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        therein lies the problem.   Iraq is a Western construct, built along geographic boundaries of rivers and mountain ranges.  Unfortunately, it was plopped down in the middle of a region that defines itself by religion, tribe, and family, rather than geography and language.  Much like Yugoslavia, it is a false and manufactured fiction, retained only through force.

        The real genesis of the problems in the region comes from the European deconstruction of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, be it Iraq, Israel, or even Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.  They are just manufactured fictions, with the British pointing at one guy over another and saying "You! You get to be King!"  And suddenly there are Jordanians, and Saudis, and Iraqis.  Maybe in 500 or a 1000 years, they really will be.  But right now, there are the very powerful, who really identify themselves not as Saudis, but as Saudi royalty, and everybody else, who know exactly who they are, but might need to check the passport for nationality.  Sure, this is simplistic and hyperbolic, but the underlying premise, particularly for Iraq, remains valid.

        Partition is inevitable.  The only question is whether it is between the living and the dead, or groups of the living.

        Now Hypnocrites cartoons are for sale on T-Shirts, buttons, and more.

        by dhonig on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 09:25:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's certainly worth mentioning (0+ / 0-)

          that partitions don't have to be geographic.  And one could argue that the attitudes in the region are and have been partitioned as long as we can remember.

          It's funny you reference Jordan - part of our conversation (me and the Iraqi friend) discussed that exactly - how Jordan was a rich "safe zone" created entirely by Western fiat.

    •  Separating people makes it possible (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, Turquine

      for more destructive means of killing people such as artillery to be employed.

      Israel keeps its Arabs around for a reason.

      America welcomes people from around the world for a reason. It is hard to vaporize Wall Street without radiation falling on Arabs or Russians in Brooklyn.

  •  I'm sorry about your friend's family, Rena. (6+ / 0-)

    And, yes, this is sobering and agonizing... and sickening.

    This diary is one of the saddest that I've read in awhile.

    Thank you for writing it, because sometimes we all need to be reminded of the consequences, in real human lives, of the behavior of our government in starting this unnecessary, illegal, and stupid war.

    Like you, and millions of others around the world, I was against this thing from before the beginning.  We were right to be against it.  But there is no satisfaction in knowing that, not one whit, not while the slaughter continues.

    And no one seems to have any answers.

    If we stay, people get slaughtered.  And if we leave, people get slaughtered.

    Diplomacy?  Sure.  Sooner or later there will be diplomatic efforts and sooner or later those efforts may help lead to a peaceful resolution... but not any time soon and certainly not while Bush is in office.

    I don't know what else to say, other than I feel just awful about what we've done as a country and I want us out of there as soon as possible.  I want this thing to end, God dammit.

    I feel sick about it.

    I know of no penance and I know of no solutions.

    I wish your friend's family the best of luck, tho, and very much hope they will be spared.

    "Tastes kinda like sea urchin, only brainier." - Anthony Bourdain

    by Karmafish on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:27:30 PM PST

  •  I found this quote today looking for something (6+ / 0-)

    else, and it pretty much sums up the chimp-in-charge:

    "This administration is doing everything we can to end the stalemate in an efficient way. We're making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end." -George W. Bush, April 10, 2001

    The essence of Liberalism is an attempt to secure a social order not based on irrational dogma. Bertrand Russell

    by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:29:54 PM PST

  •  Outcomes (3+ / 0-)

    Cultures that are so polarized often do better in minimizing death and violence by simply separating for an extended period of time

    It's a hard thing to support, it's dangerous in itself, but this is the likely outcome in these areas in any case

    If the Iraqis come to this conclusion via a transparent and fair process and agree to a fair splitting of the oil pie, then the US could monitor a relatively peaceful separation
    Whether it is separate nations or separate autonomous regions within a federalism, it seems it will go that way

    The best way to get to closure, whether it is this type of outcome or some other compromise, is to require a national conference where the Iraqis come to their decision, but without the US dictating terms of the final settlement as we did before, other than it be equitable, peaceful and cooperative against terror groups

    Then enlist regional support in making it happen in a relatively stable and violence-free way

    If not, without a political settlement that allows people to choose who they live with, who governs them, and to feel like they control their own future and resources, we will be policing there for a long time to come

  •  Remember the famous picture.. (10+ / 0-)

    of the little naked Vietnamese girl running down the road, fleeing God knows what fate, a cry of abject anguish on her face? What would it take for you to flee naked? What horrors?

    Do you know how many times that scene has been played out in so many countries? It sucks beyond comprehension and if you have any human compassion it literally adds an oppresive weight on your soul.

    One of the first pictures I saw from Iraq was a picture of a old man holding a young girl with no feet. I do not know if she was alive. I cried for her and I did not think I was ever going to stop. I was crying for failing to stop the madness, and the madness had just begun.

    Maybe you even questioned your own sanity just a little bit when so many people were voicing support for something so obviously wrong. It's not you, and it's not just you.

    Nobody has the answers for this one. I have some suggestions on how to prevent the next one by setting an example right now, but I'm not allowed to say what it is. It has to remain a wish, and a wispered one at that.

    I'll tell you one thing, though: there is no glory in old glory now. We don't even bother with the the diplomatic pony show anymore. It is simply out of the question. War and death are the only options considered. 20,000-30,000 more troops are actually being contemplated by supposedly rational people. I'm sure that's because the 10,000 we "surged" into Baghdad at the end of the summer had such a great effect.

    The same as a mother who has a son in Baghdad, you have to stay positive for your friend and hope for the best.

    He is lucky to have you for a friend.

    I think, therefore I think I am

    by ackermanniac on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:31:27 PM PST

  •  what you can do... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, Karmafish, make a difference

    raise money, hire lawyers, get them resettled somewhere else.  In short, GET THEM OUT.

    I have heard that the USA only allows 500 Iraqis a year to come to the USA, which is insane.  


    I have heard that New Zealand has a more liberal immigration policy.

    I firmly believe the longer our troops stay there, the worse the eventual bloodbath will be.  Therefore, we need to get our troops our ASAP, but I can assure ALL OF YOU that Bush will not consider leaving, so unless he is impeached, there are there until 2009.

    So, to the writer of this diary and everyone reading it:  YOU ARE ELECTED.  You will be the ones responsible to raise money and try to get as many Iraqis out as possible.  It is your job (and mine) and if we don't do it, more people will die.

    •  and the first focus should be Sunni males (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, Turquine

      ages 14-54

      They are in the most danger.

      •  There needs to be a resettlement plan (6+ / 0-)

        but Sunni males 14-54 are not all at risk.  Besides, there's a million of them and most of them really, really hate the US. You also forget that the Sunnis are slaughtering Shia' especially north of Baghdad and in some communities between Baghdad and Karbala.

        Resettlement should be an option for:

        •  Iraqis who worked for the US and now find themselves hunted
        •  Iraqis with close US relatives
        •  Women victims of gender-based persecution, including forced prostitution or threatened honor killing
        •  Some of Iraq's Christian community (those without relatives in Kurdistan)
        •  Some political figures from moderate Shia/Sunni parties
        •  Torture victims and others who cannot be rehabilitated in iraq right now, and need care outside of Iraq.
        •  Some refugees in Jordan and Syria, provided they do not have relatives or resettlment possibilities in more stable areas within Iraq.

        The cockroach has no power in chicken country.

        by ivorybill on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 02:03:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This sounds like a reasonable plan (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I cannot imagine a circumstance under which we would take in 14-54 year old Sunni men.  I think that would be a horrible mistake.  They don't want to be here, and most of America wouldn't want them to be here either.

          •  go read Healing Iraq blog (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RenaRF, ivorybill

            and read about how he is trying to get his younger brother out - who happens to be a Sunni male.

            I've been trying to convince my parents not to send my brother Nabil to school. Young men of his age are the prime target for abductions and reprisal attacks. There hasn't been much progress in getting him out of the country yet, but if you want to help me with it, please go to his blog and hit the Paypal button.

            I think they are in the most danger right now.

            There are hundreds of thousand of refugees in Syria and Jordan already..... maybe millions.

            about 12% of the Iraqi population is dead or displaced, and believe me, they want to get out.... they want to live.

            We have to help them.

            •  Young men like Nabil (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              are fleeing to Jordan and Syria.  I agree that there should be some was of screening and resettling refugees from those two countries.  However, to create a broad class of all Sunni men as being a persecuted class is not feasible and also not likely to happen.

              The cockroach has no power in chicken country.

              by ivorybill on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:23:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  EVERYONE has a more liberal policy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Canadian Reader, RenaRF

      speaking as someone with a bit of experience with the system here--it's awful. beyond bad. and my experience was GOOD speaking in the broadest terms.

      In short, as far as I can tell EVERYONE has a more liberal immigration policy than the U.S. ...China might be an exception...

      hey, who knew? I didn't, till I had to find out....

      the days of "give me the tired, huddled masses," are gone, long gone. they were probably gone before 9/11. after, it became much, much worse.

      it is hard to come here. under any circumstances.

      I am hopeful, due to the recent democratic success, that they may do some work on the bcis system.

      ain't countin' no chickens, though.

      To be, rather than to seem.--NC State Motto

      by make a difference on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:31:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is no right answer. (23+ / 0-)

    People don't seem to get this.

    It's not that leaving or staying is the right answer. There isn't a right answer. People - good, innocent people, children are going to die, no matter what we do, even if we do nothing.

    That is the worst thing about this war. That is why war is a last resort, as a response to an aggressor that won't see reason. That is why democracies don't start wars.

    And, that is the responsibility of George W. Bush and every sycophant that supported the war on Iraq and supports the current occupation. That is what war and occupation means.

    •  lost-lose (5+ / 0-)

      You are correct.  We're in a lose-lose situation.  The only question is of the options on the tables, which ones will result in the least bloodshed.

      •  And you can't know. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Moody Loner, RenaRF, DSPS owl
        You're never allowed to know for sure what would have been. In this situation, especially, it's pretty clear Bush is going to try to hang on as long as he possibly can, so we aren't ever going to know if the bloodshed would have been less had the US pulled out of Iraq right at the beginning of 2007.

        About all you can be sure of is this:

        Some people who would have lived on, will die sooner.
        Some people who would have died, will live a while longer.

        Each one of those lives, those lost and those saved... and those first saved, then lost... is uniquely valuable. Doing math with lives is adding and subtracting infinities.

        In any case, saying what "ought to happen" is an exercise in futility. As long as Bush is CinC, he will try to kick this can down the road. And he doesn't care whether he's choosing the course of least, or greatest, bloodshed.

        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

        by Canadian Reader on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:02:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's like fate scripted it as punishment (5+ / 0-)

      Except it is mostly Iraqis bearing the brunt.

      So many things have changed because of it. If you were told that a democratic president in the near future is going to preemptively attack and occupy a sovereign nation under false pretenses would you support that president?

      The war should have united this country against Bush. I just don't understand it. I have an uncle who is a very decent person, truly a great and caring man, who is also a republican. The most he will say against Bush is that he is an idiot. Even that has happened only recently. He still thinks it's fine that we went in under false pretenses and that the problem was that the Iraqis didn't capitulate to everything. Civil war: their fault. Minimum reconstruction: their fault.

      The problem is, perversely, his opinion is constantly being supported by the media. That's where everything really went wrong for me. The media - virtually ALL mainstream media reported and continues to report about this administration as though they act in a rational and legal manor with the best interest of the country in mind.

      When was the last time you saw substantial footage from Anbar province? Do you know what those cities look like?
      We keep hearing (or reading) about our soldiers dying there but for what? To the best of my knowledge we have reduced all the major cities in Anbar to complete rubble. The "insurgents" have the audacity to continue to live and actually fight over a pile of rubble. Oh, and by all accounts they have tied us up with an annual budget of $70 to $200 million a year, or what we spend in a day.

      How can the press not be all over this? How can you ever look at the press again as nothing more than a war profiteering propaganda outlet. You don't think the media is making money off this war? You bet they are.

      One group of people that can't be happy are the Israelis. The architects of the war, the neocon death cult, wrapped their plans in the Israeli flag. How has this really turned out for them? How invested in a nervous Israel are we? Especially now that we have changed the landscape on them.

      The potential for trouble ahead is huge and nothing has been done to discourage the powers-that-be from jumping in with both feet.

      I think, therefore I think I am

      by ackermanniac on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:06:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think there are at least semi-answers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but our leaders are so deep in denial we aren't pursuing them, just as we got to this point because they were so deep in denial about what was going on three years ago.

  •  This reminds me of why I quit CodePink... (10+ / 0-)

    I frequent the same nail salon once or twice a month.  Henry is the owner operator.  We have had many interesting VietNam conversations.  I asked him why ohhhh why, after losing his father to war, leaving his country because of war....why did he support Bush and the war in Iraq?
    He said because if we leave now they will die, just like in my birth country.
    He went on to tell me that after the fall of Saigon, his family was stripped of all their property because his sister had married an American soldier.  When America pulled out, her husband was sent back to the states, she and their two babies could not return with him.
    Henry's mother took her daughter and grandchildren back in.  When the government found out she was living in their home, they confiscated EVERYTHING except for the bike Henry was riding that day.
    His family was forced out into a makeshift jungle tent city.  He said most of the village was there.  He said they scraped together a life until he was able to leave on a boat.  He also said that he watched many of his countrymen die.  When America left, it was a slaughter and millions died.
    Because of his experience, he could not support bringing the troops home NOW.
    I left that day with a heavy heart and an inability to wave my Bring The Troops Home Now sign.  I just felt that I did not truly understand what bringing them home now meant.
    I hate when there is no perfect solution, only really crappy painful ones.
    I completely understand your feelings, Rena, and appreciate you posting.

    •  but there is no evidence (7+ / 0-)

      to support the position that if we had stayed in Vietnam for another 100 years that the same thing would not have happened.  It might have been worse.  This is generally what happens after an occupation of an unwanted foreign military.  Keep in mind that a million to two million Vietnamese died in the war there with US troops.  

      You could argue that the ending of the occupation in Germany and Japan did not end this way - and many right wingnuts have made that argument.  However, all along they have missed several important points:

      *we beat the snot out of Germany and Japan
      *they attacked us first or declared war on us first
      *they had done considerable damage to neighboring countries before we even got involved

      and most important:

      our aggression had LEGITIMACY.

      This is something totally lacking in Vietnam and Iraq.  We will never have legitimacy for our aggression, so bombing the snot out of them makes us more the evil devil in the world's eyes.

      There is a strong argument to allow anyone in Iraq who helped the US military to come to the USA right away.

      •  Also (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, Turquine

        after WWII America completely committed itself to the stability and resurrection of our former enemies as viable nations.  

        The incompetence of this occupation has cost us any opportunity we might have had to establish a stable Iraq.

        If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. - Cpt. Ian Fishback

        by Rick Oliver on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:16:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have a copy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          of Thomas E. Dewey's Journey to the Far Pacific.

          It is about his 1951 trip through the Far East and he points out how sad a shape the Japanese economy was in.

          He worried about whether Japan would be able to feed itself and criticized the occupation for breaking up the Zaibatsu and imposing high taxes which made the gathering of capital difficult

          "Even the heads of government banks cannot create capital except by printing-press money, which wipes out by inflation the same amount of capital it creates."

          "The lack of power is equally acute. In Tokyo the streets give the impression of a brownout...the great shipyards at Kobe are shut down at least one day a week for lack of power."

          "The American engineers gave up. They had learned Lesson Number One in foreign affairs: that it is difficult and unwise to try to make the rest of the world over in our image."

    •  I think of Iraq as the Balkans (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The only difference is that Bush started this conflagration.

      Remember how it went?  Mass executions, mass graves, ethnic cleansing until the UN managed to slow things down enough for conflict to grind to a halt?  Right now we are arming and training some of the people who are doing the killing.  If nothing else, pulling American troops out will have one beneficial aspect - our money will go with us.  Even wars need money, they don't run on naked aggression alone.

      We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

      by Fabian on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:24:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is somewhat twisted logic... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemiGoddess, Dinclusin

        But doesn't the fact that the US started this completely by choice make us even more honor-bound to minimize the loss of Iraqi life?

        •  Except you can't. (5+ / 0-)
          That's the heartbreaker. You can't. There are no good choices. Any way you choose, some Iraqis will die. And you aren't ever going to know if fewer would have died if you had chosen differently.

          That being the case... I think you need to go back to first principles. Why was the Iraqi invasion wrong? What was the essence of the violation? It trampled on the Iraqi national right to self-determination. Nations are not supposed to conquer and occupy other nations. Period.

          For a while, one could hem and haw that the American invasion of Iraq could maybe have been justifiable under one or another of the slender exceptions to that rule. If you want a common factor for those exceptions, they all boil down to the same sort of motives that can cause killing to be not classified as murder. Self-defense. Saving someone else's life. Righting a greater wrong -- that sort of thing.

          But really, all such justifications have now been proven inapplicable by the subsequent conduct of the occupation. This was murder in the course of a mugging. There was nothing altruistic about it. It was aggressive war, waged for profit.

          So the fundamental principle says, you should not be there. You don't belong there. The one thing you can give the Iraqis now that you know for sure is a positive, is respect for their right to not have you there.

          Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

          by Canadian Reader on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:03:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Honor bound? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, RenaRF, DemiGoddess

          We've got the wrong tools.  We've got a foreign force who can do little but conduct raids, arrest people and enforce curfew.  Yay us.  We can target a few obvious ringleaders like Zarqawi, but the generic brownshirts are slipping by us by the hundreds.  Yay us.  Who do we arrest?  Who gives us the intel?  Are they biased?  Can we trust them?

          It's as if someone gave you a sieve and told you to use it to move a pile of sand into a container.  You could move as fast as you could, but the sand would still run through the sieve.  The biggest pebbles would be easiest to catch.  In the end you could do it, but it would take you a long and frustrating time.

          Wouldn't it be nice if we had allies who could speak the language?  Negotiate?  Intervene diplomatically?  Wouldn't it be loverly?

          We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

          by Fabian on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:22:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Our military is designed for the wrong war. (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RenaRF, Fabian, jfdunphy, Turquine, DemiGoddess

            After Vietnam, the military went through some major reforms. To make a long story short, the military made a serious effort to get better recruits, better equipment, better tactics and better training than they had had in previous wars. This started under Ford, continued under Carter, and really got going with the massive increase in defense spending that happened under Reagan.

            What this left the US with was a well-trained, high tech military that was designed to kick some serious Soviet ass.

            The old USSR finally collapsed under its own dead weight, but we got to see a bit of what could happen in the first Gulf War. On paper, Saddam's army was a fair match against the coalition forces. The US support of Saddam against Iran is infamous, however, he was basically leading a miniature Soviet Army. They were using Soviet equipment and Soviet tactics. When the two forces fought, the actual battle was a rout, which was won in about a week with very little loss of life for the coalition forces.

            Unfortunately, while the military is quite good at kicking Soviet ass, a military designed to kick Soviet ass is not what the country needs to best defend itself in the post-Cold War era. Bill Clinton  understood the diplomatic and foreign policy challenges of the post Cold War era, however he did not understand the military. While it was the right decision diplomatically, his use of the military for peacekeeping missions that it was not designed to do did not endear him to many military personnel.

            Worse yet, the ease at which the US military routed Saddam in the first Gulf War gave some policymakers a sense of overconfidence at what the US military could do. It also taught America's enemies that it was foolish to fight the US military in a conventional battle and that they needed to change tactics.

            Now, along comes George W. Bush. Bush has the combined virtues of being both overconfident and terribly ignorant. History will judge that the clusterfuck that happened with Iraq was inevitable once we went in the way we went in.

            Because Bush was overconfident and ignorant, the mission was not properly understood. Winning the battle would be the easy part. Securing the country would be the hard part. We went in with a force that was too small, trying to fight the last war, not designed to do the job that needed to be done, and lead by political leaders who had no clue about the exact job that needed to be done. The war was lost before the first shot was fired - the only question is how and when we will leave.

            History will judge Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld much like Publius Quinctilius Varus.

            "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." - Will Rogers

            by wayward on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 08:50:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  To add to your point, the overconfidence (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RenaRF, Fabian, Turquine, DemiGoddess, DSPS owl

              syndrome has a name--"victory disease." This happens time and time again to troops in every era. In fact, one of the major lessons of Gettysburg was that the Confederates succumbed to a form of victory disease at Gettysburg, thinking that Lee and their army were nearly invincible. Pickett's charge, with the loss of about 11,000 in one afternoon, shows the tactical and strategic penalty that can be paid by having victory disease.
                 All the West Pointers, other military academy grads, and everybody who goes through Command and Staff College, knows this. The reason we keep making the same mistake is because civilian leaders give orders that ignore the professional advice of their soldiers. If leaders insist on giving stupid orders, then the military faces the choice of resigning, or carrying out stupid orders. The top brass is Expected to provide leadership. But the officers that show it, like the late Col. David Hackworth, are systemmatically cut out of leadership positions. Hence, you have perfumed princes, as Hack used to say, carrying out orders that contradict sound strategy and tactics. It's the war college version of No Child Left Behind: the civilian controls are still cramming for the Soviet Army model--while the mujhadeen are working off the model successful against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. The US civilian leaders have not adapted ... and there is a Darwinian solution for people who refuse to adapt ...

              •  I heard an interesting (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                bit of commentary from David Gergen on CNN either late last night or early this morning (all my days are running together!!).  He essentially expressed extreme surprise at repeated use of language like "victory" and "success" as Bush has continued to reference Iraq.  He also felt that the "surge" issue is becoming a political necessity for Bush because of his use of language and unwillingness to show political weakness by drawing down.  

                Now explain to my neighbor how the lives of his family are less important than the White House in 2008.  

  •  Fuck fuck fuck ... (6+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry ... I don't even know what to say.

    I cannot believe that I Am An American, and that this horror is being done in my name. In all our names.

    If I believed in hell, bush, cheney and all the neo-cons would spend eternity buried to their noses in flaming crap.

    Rena ... thank you for putting such a human face on such a tragedy.

    Sign on hand dryer: "Push this button for a few comments from Vice President Cheney..."

    by Baldwiny on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 02:48:59 PM PST

    •  It was really awful (4+ / 0-)

      to talk to him.  He's a brave soul, and culturally different from me.  Where I would "show up and throw up", he was reserved as he answered my questions and spoke to me.  Yet I could see him shifting from foot to foot, hear the pitch of his voice rise before he caught it, all those thing.  He's living with such stress.  And having said that, it doesn't even come close to the levels of stress his family members are experiencing.

      I guess I'm saying I'm essentially open to any reasonable proposal that helps protect these people whose lives we turned upside down with the goal of also protecting our people by getting them out.  The more logically and methodically we can approach that dual solution, the calmer I'll be.  I haven't seen any proposals that come close, though, and that worries me.

      •  Oh, Rena, (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        azale, RenaRF, Rick Oliver, potownman

        I cannot even imagine the position you're in.

        We (the current admin) have NO fucking proposals to offer that will help these people.

        I have no idea what you can say to your friend.

        It is an impossible position we've been put in based on avarice, lust for power and unmitigated greed.

        I don't know what you can tell your friend, but please let him know how deep our feelings and regret go.

        Sign on hand dryer: "Push this button for a few comments from Vice President Cheney..."

        by Baldwiny on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:10:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's Not Impossible, Baldwiny-- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Baldwiny, RenaRF

          People are starting to really believe that we need to take the chance that our quite immediate withdrawal would actually NOT result in the dire consequences predicted.  Because, really, is that our position of strength, here?  That things are not even remotely fucked up enough because we are here?

          Let's take a secret poll of the soldiers.  They're Americans.  They know a rat when they smell one.

          To announce...that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

          by potownman on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:45:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The real problem with Bush's Iraq policy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, RenaRF, Kingsmeg

    I thought this was true a long time ago, but as things have gotten worse, it has just become more and more obvious: the problem with Bush's Iraq policy is that he's doing it in the wrong century.

    If we had the morals humanity had 300 years ago, coupled with today's technology, Bush would have simply gone in and started killing Iraqis.  If you slaughtered ten million of them, the rest would settle down a lot, and if they didn't you could just slaughter them too.  With US equipment, slaughtering entire populations is actually fairly straightforward, and wouldn't give them nearly the play they have now to fight back.

    And no, this isn't snark.  I honestly think that parts of this administration are sitting around tables in darkened rooms and saying, 'But look, we've already destroyed the US's international credibility.  What's another few million bodies?  I mean, really, what could they do to us?'  I sometimes wonder to whom the current forbearance is a testament.


    •  Montgomery (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of WW2 North Africa fame broke the pre-war Arab rebellion in Palestine by placing almost all the Arab men in concentration camps behind barbed wire.

      After WW2, the British couldn't do the same thing to the Jews when they acted up for image reasons, so they gave up their mandate.

  •  Thank you for the diary Rena (7+ / 0-)

    If we had a real press, this iswhat would be reported for the American people to see.  

    I had a similar experience this summer while visiting my mother.  She frequents a Lebanese restaurant and we go every time I'm in town.  We went as the invasion/bombing of Lebanon was underway.  The couple that owns it both have family in a village outside of Beirut.   I thought of them every time I saw some boneheaded comment about what was going on; every time some ignorant pundit swine in the safety of a studio explained that there was a price to pay.  What price?  Who paid it?  It never ceases to amaze me that those who preach the loudest seem to have the least at stake.

    And so it is with this mess.  I take no joy in saying I knew this was where we would end up.  Just as I know we will have to pull out.  

    When we do it will be a replay of Southeast Asia in 75-76.  A refugee crisis will develop as whole communities flee.  Neighboring countries will seal there borders and set up refugee camps (remember Hong Kong).  The pressure will be on us to take a large influx of people (as well we should) but it will not be a controllable event.  The poorest, and perhaps those who really placed their hope in us, will be left behind to suffer just as the ethnic tribes (Hmong and Montgnard) in Vietnam did.  We will not be able to arbitrate anything, we will have no credibility.

    I scream inside my head in frustration.  I knew all of this before we invaded.  I'm not excessively smart, I have no great insight but as surely as I knew Cheney was lying when he pronounced us 45 minutes from destruction (My God, Iraq didn't even have an Air Force and no one thought to ask him that obvious question,) I knew there would only be suffering, loss and a further erosion of our standing externally and internally.  

    We will withdraw, we have not choice and then we will have to step up and take responsibility for what our hubris and avarice has wrought.

    So the real choice we will have as a nation is whether we allow those responsible to slink off to enjoy their blood profits and to recycle themselves as elder statesmen or if we hold people accountable and nail a sign on the door that says "You have an important responsibility; blow it and you will be called to account."

    Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government.

    by JEB on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 03:23:26 PM PST

    •  Hey JEB. Good to see you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The fear of refugees streaming across borders seems to work to keep China somewhat engaged on the Korean peninsula.  If we would only open up to ALL the bordering countries some carrot, some nugget that doesn't damage our interests, the thread of withdrawal could cause them to help stabilize the vacuum we leave behind, right?

      •  I doubt it Rena (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sharman, RenaRF

        They didn't want us there in the first place.  The neighboring countries knew we were placing a stick in the hornets nest.  

        They also fear an influx of refugees will threaten their own regimes.  For all of their professions of love and solidarity for the Palestenian people, have any of these countries opened their doors to the Palestenian diaspora?  

        On a seperate note, I wish I'd known about the event.  I would have tried to make it.  Hopefully I'll hear about the next one.  Looks like a good time was had by all.

        Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government.

        by JEB on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:35:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just heard a story last night (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of some Iraqis granted entrance to Canada after almost 4 years in a Jordanian refugee camp.

        We only took about half of them.  They described it as Hell in every sense of the word.

        We (the world) is going to have a huge refugee crisis (it's already started) as people leave Iraq by the hundreds of thousands.

        I have to echo the irony of the Muslim-haters having to deal with a huge influx of them into the country.

        -6.5, -7.59. All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold.

        by DrWolfy on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:41:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You don't have to imagine it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, RenaRF

    How emotionally and physically broken do you have to be to be willing to give up everything else for want of safety?  I can't really imagine it...

    You have seen it in practice here.  It's why we have the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. And why Bush was re-elected in 2004.

    Beyond that...humans will always sacrifice everything else to be safe.  That's the foundation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

  •  We're stuck in a crooked card game (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, bluewolverine

    And the losers will bear the horrible costs.

    We MUST change the rules of the game. We cannot accept their alternatives. The only way to do that is to begin to think the unthinkable.

    Maybe the social and political system we have is unable to solve this crisis. Maybe we must reconsider other systems and ideologies. Maybe we must go back and plumb the polemical depths of the Enlightenment and rescue what we foolishly threw away.

    That can only mean one thing... back to Marx. Forget Stalin and Mao and Castro. (Just as the capitalist ideologues ask we forget Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, and Bosnian genocide.)

    Start with the premise that the exploiters and the exploited do not have the same interests, and let's go from there and build a better world.

    Never In Our Names

    "The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth."

    by Valtin on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 03:47:34 PM PST

  •  Very sorry, Rena (5+ / 0-)

    This mess was f*cked up from the get-go.

    You see, there was a deal in the works, a negotiation in progress, between the Germans-French-Russians in February 2003.

    The deal on the table would have been a de facto occupation of Iraq by U.N. Peacekeeping troops, while the IAEA did a more extensive audit for the WMD.

    The American public saw and heard NOTHING about this; there is very little even now on the internet about this, because they were still trying to cover all their bases without tipping their hand.  This is why shock-and-awe was escalated, to prevent the other parties from making any progress.

    Had this scenario happened instead, your friend might not have the horrible burden of worry he carries today, nor would we be so desparately unable to do something constructive to prevent a sudden descent into utter madness in Iraq.

    I wish there was something I could say or do; I can only tell you that if you see him soon, tell him I wish very much this had never happened, that I think we have done all that we dissenters can to stop this, but we are now part of the problem by virtue of being American.  And even with American troops on the ground, there are no assurances to be had.

    •  I'll have to look that up (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DSPS owl, Got a Grip

      and see what comes back.

      In our conversation last weekend, I told him that I'm appalled and ashamed, as an American, to have all this violence perpetrated in my name.  He has the added burden of becoming an American citizen and remarked as well on the gravity of eventually having it done in HIS name.  Jeez.

      •  Remember the "Old Europe" crap? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, DSPS owl

        The remark(s) that Rumsfeld made to that effect?

        His earliest wisecracks occurred about the time there was scrambling behind the scenes going on.  You'll find almost nothing in American media; you'll find very few resources overseas, but they were there, read them myself, hoped beyond hope that they'd somehow pull it off.  But they were outpaced by the neo-con cabal in office; the neo-cons had divvied up Iraq and its oil under the Energy Task Force and they weren't going to let Russia or any EU country get a head start on the spoils.

        Were there an opportunity for a solution here, I believe it might be to re-visit and reformulate that process, but it would only happen if neighboring Muslim countries were able to help with getting all clerics and political representatives in Iraq to agree that an intervention is essential, and that Muslim Peacekeepers would be relied upon heavily (this is what Peacekeepers are for, after all).  The U.S. is no longer effective; they are only a target at this point, do little to mediate the conflict.  

        But the biggest single impediment is Bush himself, and all his cabal.  No EU or Muslim country will involve themselves if Bush continues with his delusion that this is winnable, or that democracy is a mandatory outcome.  Unfortunately we as individuals have little hope of changing that delusion; we have to pray that persons with access to Bush are able to keep him in check, and may eventually "sell" him on the idea that replacing our troops with Peacekeepers means winning.

      •  Dug way back and found more supporting info (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, DSPS owl, DrWolfy

        Rena -- I went and revisited all this, so that I was sure I didn't imagine this, and that you could tell your friend that there are still other alternatives the Bush/Cheney cabal has not considered or reconsidered.  I just don't know what the citizens can do at this point, short of general strikes in concert with calls for negotiations with all members of the UN Security Council and Iraq's neighbors towards a settlement.

        France, Germany stand firm on Iraq -- Wednesday, January 22, 2003 (CNN-World edition)

        EU allies unite against Iraq war -- BBC News World Edition, 22 January 2003
        Note the comments regarding a request for an "extra delay"

        Rumsfeld: France, Germany are 'problems' in Iraqi conflict -- Thursday, January 23, 2003 (CNN-World edition)

        Wikipedia: Legitimacy of the 2003 invasion of Iraq
        Excerpt: "Leading traditional allies of the U.S. who had supported Security Council Resolution 1441, France, Germany and Russia, emerged as a united front opposed to the U.S.-led invasion, urging that the UN weapons inspectors be given time to complete their work."

        Facts on Who Benefits From Keeping Saddam Hussein In Power  -- Heritage Foundation (take with a grain of salt, presented with a bias)
        Posted February 28, 2003, notes France's, Germany's and Russia's financial investments in Iraq prior to the war.  While Heritage Foundation paints this as a conflict of interest, it is the best rationale for France, German and Russia to stick out their necks and effect a constructive resolution.  They have a vested interest in this outcome.

        A New American Century? Iraq and the hidden euro-dollar wars, Issue 4-2003
        Note towards the end of this essay the alliance mentioned; it's possible the euro-dollar war underpinned the Energy Task Force's purpose, and that the Heritage Foundation smear piece is really a weapon in this euro-dollar war.

        And the best for last:

        Iraq Chronology: 2003 -- Australian Broadcasting Corporation
        See entry for February 8 (2003) -- "Der Spiegel reveals details of a secret plan by France and Germany to avoid war against Iraq. The details include plans for a permanent UN arms inspection post to be set up in Iraq, US troops to stay in the Gulf, weapons inspectors to be tripled, Iraq to be forced to accept thousands of UN troops to oversee and enforce the work of inspectors and no-fly zones extended across Iraq."

        I grieve for the "what ifs".

  •  It underscores (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, AllisonInSeattle

    there are no good choices left.

    I have to pray for the willingness not to hate the people that led us to this insanity.

    "The sunshine bores the daylights out of me" --Keith Richards

    by FatPath on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:31:35 PM PST

  •  You break it, you buy it (5+ / 0-)

    I have felt from the beginning that once we threw Saddam out, we were morally obligated to stay until we had established order and security.  I have not changed my mind about our moral culpability in this matter.  Morally, we should stay there until the average Iraqi has, at least, what they had before we got there.  That, however, isn't going to happen.  We have, through corruption, stupidity and hubris, completely screwed these people and this country.  We will have years and years to spend trying to make up for this.  

    But now the question is:  What can we accomplish if we stay?  I don't think there is much.  We have innocent kids there dying for someone else's mistake, with no hope of rectifying the situation.  Their blood won't make anything better.  They need to come home.  We will be judged, as Germany, for the acts of a few...and we will be judged harshly and rightfully so.  To the Iraqi people, I apologize.  To every man, woman and child, Iraqi and American, who died because of these monsters, I apologize.  To all those who will die as a direct result of our leaving, I apologize...with sincerity and a deep appreciation of the utter inadequacy of the apology.  But with no way to give back what was lost, restore what was taken or fix what we broke, how do we ask one more soldier to die?

  •  If we have the wherewithal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing, RenaRF

    we need to enact the Galbraith plan, & split up the country forthwith.  If the Shiites won't cooperate, we need to start evacuating Sunnis.  But I haven't heard anybody in power talking about any of this stuff.  They're all still on Planet Z9.

    •  Can you dig up (0+ / 0-)

      a link to the Galbraith plan?  I've heard Biden, of course, discussing partitioning - is the Galbraith plan the definitive word on partitioning?  If you have links, that would be great.  :-)

    •  Oil (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, DSPS owl

      You can move the people around, but not the oil.  The Sunni middle of the country has no oil.  I give Biden lots of credit for being one of the few to talk publicly about the need to ensure equitable distribution of the oil wealth (and that, whether the country is partitioned or stays in one piece).  The Iraq constitution allocates future oil discoveries to the locals, so the Sunni (and Sadr Shia) middle is screwed.  (The Sunni contingents supported the constitution on promises of renegotiation after the vote--which never happened)  And then they're suprised it's come to civil war.

    •  Galbraith plan and HUGE AID (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      a la Marshall plan.

      Create a Sunni homeland and start evacuating and compensating them (e.g. for lost home, land, etc.).

      Move them in, and patrol the borders, with Saudi help if they will offer it.

      Create a revenue sharing agreement for the oil in the ground and enforce it through other regional powers.

      -6.5, -7.59. All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold.

      by DrWolfy on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:32:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What do you think about religious war? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aimeeinkc, RenaRF

    Whenever I read about these very sad things, I wonder how to stop them in the future.

    I don't think this juggernaut of old religious hatreds will stop before it crushes thousands more bodies beneath it.

    Those bodies were placed there proximately by our invasion, but the cause of that invasion was religious warfare, the mad impulse to right wrongs to get right with ::god::

    The only sane people I know are non-religious.

    Sorry if it seems like a one-note song, but the rest is a band-aid on the sucking chest wound that is current world politics.

    Once again, sorry about your friends. My son is a Marine, although no longer in Iraq.

    I hope I don't hear he has the Syndrome, but I find myself hardening my mind now against that possible pain in the future. I hope he survives me.


    by ormondotvos on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:44:40 PM PST

  •  I hear you Rena, BUT (6+ / 0-)

    as with almost everything in life this is, in fact, not an either/or dillema. Yet there is little comfort in such an observation. We are building 14-16 military bases in Iraq at a cost of billions of dollars; WE ARE NOT LEAVING IRAQ. I don't know why people on the left find it hard to place that fact front and center before the American people in debate and never lose sight of it, but that's the case. The Iraqi parliament is working on a bill that will grant US oil interests the right to develop Iraqi oil--we pushed France and Russia out of the picture by invading. The ISG report is about providing further cover for this undertaking, and doing what is necessary to save face in this situation; big problems in Iraq ARE OUR PRETEXT FOR REMAINING. If they are too big (on the other hand) we lose credibility.

    But although we are not leaving, the sad fact is that people ARE GOING TO SLAUGHTER ONE ANOTHER ANYWAY. We have OVERSEEN the Balkanization of Iraq and we will oversee the slaughter. The ONLY possible way out is to bring interests around the Middle East together, remove US troops, put in a multinational force, accept some degree of new separation of different groups and a federalist compact. The utterly stupid thing is that WE HAVE ALREADY ACCEPTED THIS IN PRINCIPLE--federalization is dictated by the new Iraqi constitution. But Bush is SO STUPID that he repeatedly goes on record saying that we won't. Yes, it is all cause for despair.

    •  Either that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrWolfy, LynneK

      or really expose it.  I was always appalled at how NOT outraged the average American was over Abu Ghraib.  Those were different times, however, and people felt differently about the war as a whole.  A major expose NOW would have a different effect.  

      If I give the media the biggest benefit of the doubt I can, I'd say that it's just too dangerous for them to go out and get the story.  So where are the people who will bring all of this to light as it needs to be?

      I hadn't heard your POV regarding the whole thing - did you ever write a diary about it?

      •  The 'Pubs I used to talk to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        won't face the 14-16 permanent mega-bases as the reason we went in in the first place.

        To them, it is a recognition of "how bad Iraq is" and our need to stay there to protect "our interests".

        You know understand why I don't talk to them any more.

        -6.5, -7.59. All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold.

        by DrWolfy on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:29:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I really cannot see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing, RenaRF

    any way out other than partition of Iraq guaranteed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and perhaps U.S. airpower with some international agency distribution of oil revenues. Improbable? Less improbable than a surge doing anything positive, that is for sure. Baghdad would have to be divided as well with a Israel-Palestine-like wall dividing it down the middle. What else is possible that is not a bloodbath? In 50 years they can try to talk to each other again.

    The U.S. should pay reparations separately to each of the three regions. It would be a lot cheaper than another decade or two of fighting on all sides in a multidimensional civil war.

    Bush will not do this because it leaves the oil in Iraqi hands, albeit multiple hands. Iran may not do it because they may think they can get it all too.  

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:48:35 PM PST

  •  no good options (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and it's been this way for well over a year.  No amount of "one last shots" will change that fact.  We hav a responsibility to the Iraqis, as we've unleashed this whirlwind.  But we have a responsibility to American families as well, not to return their sons and daughters home in body bags for no reason.

    War's hell, ain't it?

    D-Day, the newest blog on the internet (at the moment of its launch)

    by dday on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 04:51:37 PM PST

  •  Ok, this is undoubtedly stupid (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, RenaRF, DSPS owl, LynneK

    and naive, but here goes my simplistic, last-ditch idea for a plan (I'd love to hear your friend's take on it):

    IMO, the elephant in the Iraqi living room is division of oil wealth.  The Iraq Constitution divides existing oil equally, but allocates new discoveries to locals.  That means that the oil-poor, Sunni-populated middle of the country (also the home of the poor Shia that are Sadr's constituency) is screwed.  Sunnis supported the Constitution on the basis of promises to revisit its terms after the election, a promise promptly reneged on.

    The second elephant is Sharia.  The secular citizenry--the middle class now fleeing in droves--will want some assurances that they won't be forced into radical religious observance.

    Finally, for my plan, I posit that both sides have a preference for continued US presence right now.  Were I Decider in Chief, I'd use that leverage to insist on a constitution that guaranteed equal allocation of oil wealth, and religious/social freedom.  If the various factions are not willing to agree on terms of such basic fairness, then it's truly time to give up.

    Now, I can certainly see that a piece of paper is no guaranty of anything.  But the current template, so skewed against the interests of one-third of the country, is a guaranty of civil war.  The various factions now fighting did take time to vote and argue and try to negotiate a constitution and government--perhaps if we (or someone) forced some basic fairness into the constitution, there might be a basis for peace.

    Ok, done, probably naive.  But it galls me that so few will point out that huge ole elephant there.  Only occasionally, as in Biden's plan, is the oil distribution ever mentioned, and then, never discussed.

    •  Hey... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't know if your plan is naive or not.  But you know what?  It's a PLAN.  It's a plan that you ARTICULATED and PUT OUT THERE for debate.

      Hence, you should run for President in 2008.  ;-)  I hope you get some good replies to your excellent comment.

    •  I second the motion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, LynneK

      Clear-headed and clear-eyed. If only our politicians weren't afraid to talk about oil. I'm with RenaRF, go ahead and run for office!!

      You can't get away with the crunch, 'cuz the crunch always gives you away

      by dnamj on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:04:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pardon my "curmudgeon" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I suspect that the impetus toward "our" invading and attempting to occupy and pacify Iraq had nothing to do with "sharing the wealth."

      The people running this show aren't into philanthopy.

      There's no such thing as a vicious, murderous Santa claus except in a couple of very bad "B" movies.

      War of the Worlds might be a better metaphor.

      Oily Aliens, to whom the concept of humanity and fairness and decency are as foreign to us as a Martian landscape might be.

      That's who is pulling the strings in Iraq.

      Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why. - Kurt Vonnegut -8.88 -5.08

      by SecondComing on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:59:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Truly time (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Canadian Reader, RenaRF

      "I'd use that leverage to insist on a constitution that guaranteed equal allocation of oil wealth, and religious/social freedom.  If the various factions are not willing to agree on terms of such basic fairness, then it's truly time to give up."

      If we had that much leverage we'd have used it.  If we could have gotten those guarantees into a constitution we would have.  But we don't and we haven't because we can't.

      No offense, but your suggestions seem to me to be on a par with, say, encouraging foreign nations to add troop support, adding more troops of our own, or encouraging Syria and Iran to stay clear of the situation.  They've been discussed for 3 years now, and nothing has changed the ongoing failure.

      It truly is time to give up, and deliberately and methodically leave.  

      Much better, thanks. And you?

      by Bob Love on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:16:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe so (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, DSPS owl

        I surely don't know.  But let me debate this a bit.

        Did we try and fail to require this fairness in the constitution?  Dunno.  Dunno what those geniuses in our government were doing back there in 2004 and 2005.

        But did we use all our leverage?  Or rather, the leverage of threatening to withdraw our military and other support?  I really doubt it.  Bush won't consider withdrawing even now, with the sky falling about his ears.  Did he use this as leverage back then?  I doubt it.  Bush cares more about winning the next election and preserving his he-man tough guy image, coupled with his infinite capacity for denial, to ever have put withdrawal on the table.

        •  Bush will use any excuse (0+ / 0-)

          to dither and run out the clock, convinced that all we need is time, more dead soldiers, and someone else's money.

          Whether attemtps to take the steps you advocate were made, were made half-hertedly or were made seriously (I believe the second), this administration will use any excuse to postpone losing by another 6 months.  If they vowed to do exactly as you wish, they'd buy another 6 months for their wishful thinking.  

          There's no possible way that an administration that has failed at every point will suddently become trustworthy and/ or smart.  

          At any rate, Bush is said to have put withdrawal on the table in his recent talk with Maliki.  We have no reason to believe that anyone Bush has ever spoken to regards anything he's said as anything but rubbish.

          Much better, thanks. And you?

          by Bob Love on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 09:18:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Rule of law... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Judiciary and trustworthy police.  

      Neither exist and until they do, there is no country.

      -6.5, -7.59. All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold.

      by DrWolfy on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:26:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  beautiful diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, subtropolis

    and capture my thoughts and fears perfectly. Everyone who is for GET OUT NOW needs to work this stuff through as well. At the very least, we have to be aware of what hell will be inflicted on these people we leave. It's not enough to just worry about our american boys. We are responsible for iraq now. I cannot for the life of me feel comfortable just letting them hang as we skidaddle and brush it all off with, they were going to be killed anyway.

    I don't know what the answer is. But we've GOT to put this into our calculus when we take action.

    thx RenaRF

    All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

    by SeanF on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:01:26 PM PST

    •  The sanitized commentary bugs me. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SeanF, subtropolis

      I hear a lot of voices I respect in the news talking about how "they're going to kill each other anyway".  It makes me wonder if the commenter has ever met anyone who will lose someone they love when we just go.

    •  We *are not* responsible for Iraq, never hv been (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, indycam

      Never will be.


      It is patronizing to think we could ever have been, are now, or ever could be.

      Iraq belongs to Iraqis. For heavens sakes. The problem is that we're there.

      We need to get the bleep out, and let IRAQIS figure this out.

      They were NOT  going to "be killed anyway" till we messed with their country. Time to stop it. Even though, yes, there will be lots of killing.

      There. Already. Is.

      Be good to each other. It matters. Bill Sali

      by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 11:02:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sounds to me like u r saying we're not responsibl (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        cuz you don't want us to be. kinda weak.

        All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

        by SeanF on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 11:27:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  NO! Iraq belongs to IRAQIS not Americans (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RenaRF, indycam

          It's patronizing to think that we can waltz into another country and mold it into whatever image we have for it.

          It's pathetically patronizing. It's a racist, elitist attitude to think that Americans can or should solve other countries problems.

          It's ridiculous.

          YES it was irresponsible to go in, in the first place. It was also patronizing and delusional.

          For the love of Pete, it's so racist that we even dream  that we're "responsible" for Iraq. Do we think we should invade Canada or Britain to "fix" their countries? No we don't, because they're white. Not per se because they're democracies.

          3,000 Iraqis a month are dying because of our irresponsibility. The RESPONSIBLE thing to do is admit it is loony, patronizing, and ridiculous to think we have ANY ownership of their country, their future ...and get the bleep out.

          Be good to each other. It matters. Bill Sali

          by AllisonInSeattle on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 12:19:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  While I agree with you on most (0+ / 0-)

            everything else, I can't get behind this one.  We have a level of responsibility that is decidedly not patronizing for those issues that resulted as a direct consequence of our actions.  Iraqis didn't decide to oust Saddam Hussein.  Iraqis didn't make the subsequent fatal decision to dismantle the Iraqi military and police, either - Bremmer led that charge, at our behest, under our authority prior to the installation of an Iraqi "government" (such as it is).  Many of the negative results are a consequence of those actions alone, which WE did.

            We are responsible for both those actions, their consequences, and some semblance of returning, as best we can, some stability.

            •  But we can't do it. They just want us out (0+ / 0-)

              And wouldn't we just want the invaders out?

              That's all we are, invaders. We're making everything worse by being there.

              As  if the sanctions weren't enough, killing so many of their children (200,000 year for 10 years, wasn't it?).

              As if the first bunch of DU munitions weren't enough -- killing more, all ages.

              NOW we've added more DU, totally screwed up everything everywhere... we need to just get out. No more Americans.

              As one fellow said somewhere else, if someone breaks into your house and robs or rapes you, the proper sentence is NOT to send him back into your house with the ability to change it the way he wants it to be. The proper sentence is to get him the hell out.

              We need to get the hell out. Let the Iraqis sort it out, the way we would want to be able to if it was our country.

              MAYBE make payments... to THEM.

              But not to lying, cheating American contractors. Not to ANY Americans. We've ruined enough over there.

              Be good to each other. It matters. Bill Sali

              by AllisonInSeattle on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 08:44:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  AllisonInSeattle (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AllisonInSeattle, DSPS owl

            I agree with you . When I read all the ideas and plans of what should be done with Iraq , all I see is outsiders trying to tell the Iraqis what we are going to do to/for them. I would like to see the Iraqis try to tell the US how to run things inside the US .

            The pottery barn rule is you break it you pay for it,
            not you break it you own the store .

            The US has no more right to tell the iraqis anything
            than a burgerler has telling a home owner how to fix up the home the burgerler broke into .

            "For the love of Pete, it's so racist that we even dream  that we're "responsible" for Iraq."
            I don't know that its racist , to me its more of a , we are smart and strong and we know better than you , sort of deals . A grand supersize USA is #1 hubris.

            I have a plan for Iraq , we offer to get out 100% if they will throw a grand victory party and put down there arms and stop the bombings the day after the last US person gets out . Then after the US gets out the US sends food , medicine , hospital equipment etc until the standard of living of the Iraqis is up to where they say please stop . The US gives war reparations for the damage done .

    •  Unfortunately, if the US does (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      not leave, these people are still in mortal danger.

      Staying doesn't really protect them either.

      -6.5, -7.59. All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold.

      by DrWolfy on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:24:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wish an apology would help... (5+ / 0-)

    but this is going to end badly. There was just no way this disastrous mistake was going to end up any other way. Our only hope is that somehow competent leadership comes to power in 2008 and that somehow they can start undoing the damage a little at a time.

    Of course, diplomany is the only answer, and generally always is. This will come into play when the this conflict begins to regionalize.

    Your friend's story has repeated itself 100 thousand times over as a result of the spinelessness and childish fears of the United States populace. We are a bloodthirsty and infantile nation.

    You can't get away with the crunch, 'cuz the crunch always gives you away

    by dnamj on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:02:08 PM PST

  •  Like Vietnam... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, montpellier

    Like Vietnam we lost. We lost the war the day we started. The solution for what to do with the people who will likely be slaughtered will also probably end up being the same. The U.S. will end up having to let a lot of them move to the U.S. and find sanctuary in other countries. If I recall correctly around 500,000 from Vietnam moved to the U.S. after the Vietnam War. It is yet another cost of the Iraq War we have yet to see.

    BlueSunbelt.Com Netroots for the Sunbelt states My personal blog

    by Rob on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:10:25 PM PST

    •  This comment (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, bwintx, subtropolis, montpellier

      I'm about to make is soooo wrong, in such a diary.

      But I got to say, your comment gave me a delicious chuckle.  Won't the heads of all our beloved xenophobes and heathen-slayin' Christofascists just explode, when it dawns on them that the upshot of their Great Crusade is...the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Muslims to this country................  Oh Virgil B. Goode, what will you do?

      •  You are absolutely correct (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Yet another parallel to Vietnam. Think how common it has become in America's larger cities to see people of Vietnamese extraction, many of whom are descended from those who escaped South Vietnam at the end. A few decades from now, the same will be true for the descendants of those who fled Iraq and other Middle East implosions yet to come.

    •  We won the war in three days (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, bwintx

      We lost the peace because we didn't secure the borders, secure the country, dissolved the infrastructure.

      -6.5, -7.59. All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold.

      by DrWolfy on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:23:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  More handwringing ain't going to do it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, indycam

    It just depends who's doing the talking, you see.

    My own diary is a more forthright condemnation of the progressive stance.

    The point?

    Bush has already killed twice the number of Iraqis than died in the Iran-Iraq war; in half the time.

    If you think America still has something positive to add to the Iraqi mess, you're part of the problem.

    IF AMERICA had simply listened to the world and stayed the fuck out of Iraq, NONE of this would have happened.

    Get Out of Iraq NOW!!!! Go look at my diary.

    Guaranteed, you won't like it.

  •  Thanks for your diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I know some Iraqis too and haven't been able to get behind the withdrawal movement, even though I have been against the war from the start.  It is truly a catch-22.  This administration has created such a terrible situation that there seems to be no solution. And I'm sure that whatever they do now (apparently a "surge"), maybe a draft, maybe a new war, they will screw up worse than anyone can imagine at this point.  

    The best we can do is impeach them because they want a civil war over there, so of course they won't do anything to stop it.  If you have friends from Iraq or Iran you already know who kept them fighting so the region would be destabilized with the results being cheaper oil and greater influence for us.

    Meanwhile, your friend must keep trying to get his wife's family out!  Do you know what would it take?

  •  No guilt. No regrets. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I did everything that I could have done to stop this travesty, and to end this nightmare. It's "unfixable."

    Many more lives will be ruined or damaged before (if?) we are able to stop this growing NeoCon snowball of bad intentions combined with bad ideas and the might of the United State's Military.

    Rarely are "wars" worthwhile. This one is typical.

    Misery and destruction, for nothing. And the bad guys that started the whole thing get off without any reprecussions to speak of.

    Color me a misanthrope. We are not "civilized." Far from it.

    I hope your friend's family gets to live out their lives.

    Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why. - Kurt Vonnegut -8.88 -5.08

    by SecondComing on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:39:06 PM PST

  •  Bless Us... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One and all.

  •  Most everyone agrees we can't leave today, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, RenaRF

    or within a week.  

    I think we need first to help anyone out of the country who feels their lives will be in danger once we leave.  Likewise we need to remove all our non-military personnel.  Once these things are  under way we can leave area by area, giving fair warning to any and all.  I think we can be out in 3 months if we have the will, and that it shouldn't take longer than 6 months even if we do have the will.

    If the Saudis want to send Sunni fighters to help protect Sunnis in Shi'ia areas, we won't stop them.  If Iran wants to send Shi'ia fighters to protect Shi'ias in Sunni areas, we won't stop them.  If anyone fires on us, we fire back.  If we see civilians being killed, we may intercede to prevent the killing and disarm the combatants, but only briefly.

    Our leaving Iraq is a strategic, diplomatic, military  and geopolitical disaster of the highest order.  It is a complete humiliation of of our national leadership at every level.  But it can still be accomplished with a measure of decency and honor.  Better late than never.

    Much better, thanks. And you?

    by Bob Love on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 06:09:09 PM PST

  •  More like Cambodia than Viet Nam (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, sharman, RenaRF, DSPS owl

    Yet at the end of the day, to simply pack up and go home means that my friend's in-laws get slaughtered.  Literally slaughtered.  Whatever tiny semblance of control there is in Baghdad exists at the end of an American rifle.  No more Americans, and those people are GONE.  How will I look him in the eye, what will I say, when he finally tells me that his wife has utterly lost her family?

    You are not the only who has such dark thoughts.

    See this TNR article by Assassins Gate author George Packer Save Whomever We Can.  He has gone to Baghdad many times and has become close to many translators there.  He is calling for us to at least grant visas to those who have somehow helped us.  He has this vision of how post-occupation Iraq might look.

    To me, the relevant historical analogy is not the helicopters taking off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, leaving thousands of Vietnamese to the reeducation camps. It is the systematic slaughter by the Khmer Rouge of every Cambodian who appeared to have had anything to do with the West.

    But your Sunni friends are suggesting that it would not simply be those who had aided Americans who would be killed but most or all Sunni.  That is a problem that could not really be cured by issuing visas.  If fact that would go against the idea that we must fight them there rather than here -- we would be saying that since we can't protect them there bring them here. 

    Of course there are a lot of rich and powerful Sunni in the area and some, like our friends the Saudi Royals have made it clear that they will aid the Sunni to keep them from being slaughtered.  So we may take some comfort that in the regional sectarian war that will come after our occupation both the Sunni and the Shia Iraqi will have powerful friends to give them arms and support and if thing work out right this might convince the Iraqi not to try to exterminate each other.

    It really bothers me that with all the knowledge and learning and intelligence we have in Washington one mad man who talks to god and who didn't even win the popular vote could get us in such a mess and then get reelected after he had.  It is a hell of an advertisement for democracy.


    •  Great reference (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fred in Vermont

      with that article.  I know that some things simply can't be looked at in a revisionist fashion - yet I can't escape the why of this CF, particularly when history so brutally illuminated the potential outcomes.

    •  Advertisement for democracy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fred in Vermont, RenaRF, DSPS owl

      Iraq is an even better ad.  The whole point of a constitution in a democracy is to guaranty basic rights, and fairness for minority interests.  The Iraq constitution is heavily skewed in favor of Shia and Kurds, was supported by the Sunni reps only on the basis of promises to renegotiate after the ratification vote--and the promise was promptly reneged on.

      Pure democracy is not utopia by any means.  That's why the constitutional framework is vitally important.  And when the constitution does not grapple with and resolve fundamental issues--you get the Iraq civil war--just as our imperfect constitution gave us the American civil war.  

      •  I heard a PoliSci prof (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        talk about peacekeeping failures in the past.  A very intelligent man.

        He repeated (essentially) what I once heard.  Elections don't make a democracy.  You have to create infrastructure to support the rule of law.

        Police, Judiciary, etc. or you will have chaos.

        He was talking about Afghanistan (Canadian prof) but the same failure occurred in Iraq although to call it "peacekeeping" is a stretch.

        the US Gutted the police, destroyed the judiciary, and then forced elections and a constitution on a population not ready to have them.

        Now, the US is the "rule of law" as it were, and leaving means lawlessness carries the day.


        -6.5, -7.59. All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold.

        by DrWolfy on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:18:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep. (0+ / 0-)

          My friend was very clear - and quite specific as to whom he felt was the beginning of the building of the current situation: Bremmer.  He then referenced a complicit Rumsfeld and a lazy Bush in going along with Bremmer's recommendations.  He didn'te use disparaging language (I added it when I talked to him and here), but he says that's the crux of the problem, not that we went in in the first place.

        •  Not only "not ready" for that (0+ / 0-)

          constitution, but the contents of the constitution were also at least non-Iraqi, more likely anti-Iraqi.

          The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

          by DSPS owl on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 03:02:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  2007-Transition year for US leaving (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Tell Iraqis and the whole ME region and the world we are leaving within one year so prepare for it.  We and everyone concerned should be making plans for America to leave.  

    First,  think of creating transition troops from  Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi, Iran, Pakistan, NATO, UN.  US will be providing money.

    Next,  bringing all factions together --warring Iraqis and neighboring countries--on how to reconcile and provide amnesty to insurgents and absorb them to the army.

    Then if there is peace and reconciliation--massive Marshall plan from the US--especially building secular schools and curriculum.

    If additional troops needed to fight militias that dont want to abide in talks --it should be provided by other countries not US--US can fund them or train them.

    But everyone should have the mindset US is leaving and 2007 is the transition year.  And everything thing being done is in preparation for US leaving

  •  I hate to say it, and hope I don't get slammed... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    x, RenaRF, DSPS owl, crose

    ... here, but this story, and many others I've heard both first-hand and otherwise, really torture me, almost every night.

    I slip between wishing our boys were coming home, to desperately wishing we could stay and fix the problem. I'm close to the point that if there was someone SANE in the white house, changing the whole dynamic, I'd actually go and get back into uniform to do the job.

    Then I start to think I'M insane for thinking about slinging a rifle at 34, and going off to get shot at.

    If I had ANY faith, that our government, to actually take the reins and do what was necessary, to actually get the whole country on a war footing and really put down the effort, I'd do it.

    I've no family, no kids, and way too much idealism. I'd do it. But the reality is, our leadership is just not up to the task. I'm sorry folks, no R, no D, that I've seen yet, has the cojones to do what needs to be done here.

    I just can't say I've seen one person up there, that has what it would take. I keep hoping one rises to the fore though.

    We need another FDR and we need them badly.

    Right now, I can just hold out hope for salvaging OUR country out of this mess. (Let alone my own families mess!)

    Thanks for the story RenaRF, it's a good thing to be reminded of the personal torment that's tearing through this. It's much needed to keep from being disconnected to all of this. We can all get really caught up in the policy and politics. But this, like everything else, eventually comes down to real people.

    We can't ever forget that.

    "Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." - Frank Herbert

    by Erevann on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:14:01 PM PST

  •  Leave the Rec'd tag. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If it hit the list, then it's valid.


    (And I think it's valid, plus it's on the list -- so there!)

    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:47:53 PM PST

    •  It was the goofiest thing, GreyHawk. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It was on the list - high - then NOT.  Gone.  Gone for an hour.  Then it popped back on, then off again.  So I went and did other Rena things, came back, and wham - on the list and I had a 100+ comments to catch up with.  ;-)

      •  Well, at least yours bounced back. :) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Mine got a good bunch of comments, but vanished pretty quickly from view.

        It was very cool, tho, when nonnie9999 mentioned it in Top Comments and cited a couple comments from it.

        I was happy that mine did that well -- hadn't expected it to catch anyone's attention.

        (On a depressing note, I had two drafts for the Danse Macabre series in process and they vanished with plenty of time left on the meter...)

        Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
          Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
        Tempest even in reason's seat.

        by GreyHawk on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 09:37:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I share your conflict (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We never should have gone into Iraq,but we did.  Extracating ourselves from this conflict is not so easy  

    I do not know what weapons World War III will be fought with. World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. -- Albert Einstein

    by elveta on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:48:03 PM PST

  •  Here's my strained analogy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nonie3234, RenaRF, bwintx, montpellier

    Bush drove the knife into Iraq's chest.  As long as it stays in Iraq's chest, Iraq stays alive, but just barely.  If we pull the knife out, Iraq bleeds to death, so we keep the knife in.  

    But we can't keep it in forever, because it's too costly.  So at some point we must pull it out.  Does this mean that we killed Iraq by pulling the knife out?  Or does it mean that Bush killed Iraq by sticking the knife in?  

    Ok, bad analogy, one must assume hospitals don't exist, but nevertheless, it is in fact the US conquest of Iraq that started all this.  We cannot stay forever, and no matter when we pull out, ethnic cleansing probably will ensue.  But don't let the temporal separation fool you - the conquest of Iraq and the toppling of its government are responsible for ethnic cleansing, regardless of whether we leave tomorrow or ten years from now.  The act that set it all in motion was the American war of aggression.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:58:01 PM PST

  •  I'd like to have come too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How was this announced?  I don't participate everyday (although I do read some part of what's here most days), but I'd love to have come.  I'm in Alexandria, VA, so it would have been easy.  (Not to complain too much.)

    How will the Memorial Day event be announced?  Is there any interest in doing something between now and then?

  •  The question is, Who says stay? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, greenearth

    Personally, I feel as if I don't really understand what's going on in Iraq, and that I certainly don't understand what's going right there. And I'm sure something there is going right for the United States. Somewhere in Iraq, there are some officers who are doing a great job and have the respect even of their Iraqi opponents as well as of the people on their side. I really wish I knew how the effective U.S. officers in Iraq see this situation.

    Regardless, I think the principles are this:

    • No one who supported the invasion has any right to have any say on this whatsoever.
    • When people who are for immediate withdrawal of all American forces say, "Any civilian Iraqi deaths are the Iraqis' problem," that's just not a valid answer. We don't necessarily have a moral obligation to prevent Iraqi deaths. We do have a moral obligation to think about how our actions might affect Iraqis going forward and also to consider any actions we could take that could reduce the loss of innocent life. If we weigh the costs and benefits and decide not to act, that's one thing. If we don't even think about this stuff, that's another, more horrible thing altogether.
    • If Iraqis want the United States (or NATO, or the UN, or some other entity) to stay and protect them or do something else, we have a moral obligation to listen to the requests and weight the costs and benefits.
    • The ideal would be if we could get the Iraqis with the guns to engage in cross-ethnic civilian protection. Example: are there any Shiite warlords who want whatever strategic objectives that they want but also understand that ethnic cleansing against Sunni civilians is just plain wrong? If so, those are the people we really need to talk to about how to protect the Sunnis. And, similarly, to protect the Shiites, we need to start with Sunnis with some sense of humanity.
    •  Iraqis have been asked (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, DSPS owl

      repeatedly.  Polls say approximately 80% of Iraqis wan thte US to leave.  That number has gone up each time the polls ahve been taken.

      Power lines have surges; unwinnable wars have escalations.

      by ActivistGuy on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 10:39:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The thing that worries me about those polls (0+ / 0-)

        is that the Shi'ia are by far the majority in iraq as a whole.  They aren't the ones really facing slaughter in the vacuum created by an American withdrawal.

        •  On the other hand (0+ / 0-)

          if 80 percent of the Sunnis (especially with the Sunnis, who, really, are the ones with the say over what happens at this point) say, "U.S., leave!! Don't let the door hit you in the behind," that would be a great argument for an immediate withdrawal.

          If the Sunnis are the most likely targets of ethnic cleansing at this point, then, in effect, they have the moral right to a chance to make their case to the American people.

          We the people can decide whatever we want about withdrawing troops or providing weapons or whatever, but, first, I think we ought to hear from the Sunnis who say, "Stay," and the Sunnis who say, "Leave," and the Sunnis who have some kind of intermediate answer.

          My gut reaction is that Americans are making everything worse in most areas, and that we ought to withdraw from most parts of Iraq immediately, but that there are probably a few parts of Iraq where we're doing a great, necessary job and ought to stay. But that's just a complete guess. I don't know enough even to know who would have an educated answer to this problem. My guess is that Juan Cole, for example, is not the best analyst of this particular situation, but that he could draw up good list of representatives of various points of view who could offer some meaningful answers.

  •  Bring 'em all over (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Offer transportation and set-up money to every Iraqi family who wants to leave to resettle in, say, Wyoming or something.  Offer amnesty, a path to citizenship, and a guarantee of peace, religious freedom, and economic opportunity in exchange for peace in kind.  

    Then, when all the sane people have left Iraq, withdraw the troops and let the zealots (if there are any left) fight it out.

    Hey, it's gotta be cheaper than whatever the hell you call what we're doing now.

    Loyalty to the country, always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.

    by jollygreen on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 09:59:31 PM PST

  •  It's worse than that, my friend (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I talked to one family member and he told me 'they are going to kill us when the Americans leave'.  They don't want electricity and food and jobs anymore.  They just want to be safe.  It's the only thing they want.  And now the Americans are going to leave.

    The hardest pill to swallow is that there are millions more in other countries who also have the same problem, and the U.S. military isn't even there fighting for them.


    Now when I hear Bush brag about how much he cares about life, the sanctity of life, and that all life is sacred....

    Well, I really hope that Bush has an angle, because from what I know about God, he's building a new wing in Hell dedicated just to W. and it's gonna be a wild ride.

    George Orwell is banging on his coffin lid and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 10:43:07 PM PST

    •  Yeah, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      we didn't (directly) manufacture the messes in those places.  Indirectly through short-sighted economic and foreign policy, sure, but not by brazenly invading their country.  And to those whom we have so wronged, it's a step towards contrition.

      I'm sorry the world is such an awful place, and that the electoral vagaries of a partisan republic have left us with such a disaster on our collective consciousness, but at some point you just have to cut your losses and get out.  May as well take as many as who so desire out of that place with us.

      Loyalty to the country, always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.

      by jollygreen on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 11:14:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ask him that, now (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, indycam

    Ask him:

    How will I look him in the eye, what will I say, when he finally tells me that his wife has utterly lost her family?

    But like this, of course:
    "How will I look you in the eye, what will I say, when you finally tell me that your wife has utterly lost her family? Because that is what I am afraid is going to happen here."

    Then ask:
    "Do you know of anything I or my friends could do to help? We are all so sad we can barely stand it, but it is so hard to know what to do."

    I've got $25 to try to get one of their relatives out.

    For the love of pete, people this is so sad I can hardly stand it. Yes, I fully get that aGAIN, tens of thousands of Iraqis will be slaughtered, just like in the beginning of the war when we pretended it didn't happen.

    Be good to each other. It matters. Bill Sali

    by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 10:59:31 PM PST

    •  Good idea, Allison. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Truthfully, I didn't ask him before I posted this which is why I kept everything to vague without identifying him in any way.  Mainly I did this because I would have to explain the whole culture of blogging, etc., and I'm not convinced he's that internet-savvy.  But I could tell him that I was talking with friends about the plight of people stuck in Baghdad and what would be the THE most helpful thing Americans can do who want to help??

      Sorry that last sentence was so poorly-constructed; I'm pre-coffee here.  ;-)

  •  Hostages (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nonie3234, RenaRF

    All of us.

    If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

    by HenryDavid on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 12:03:05 AM PST

  •  a sobering and agonizing reality too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    is the fact that not only do "they just want to be safe." But it's that they want to be safe from their own Iraqi civilian neighbors. They don't feel threatened by the Americans. So Americans will argue that it's not their problem, it the Iraqi's problem to solve.

    This simple fact will be used by the Americans to have an excuse to withdraw quickly. They will blame the Iraqis for their genocidal killings among themselves and be so fed up with it that the Americans will justify their withdrawal.

    However dispicable and unavoidable this is, I still think it's the right thing to do.

    Let the Americans withdraw with an as shitty excuse as Bush served up to go invade the country. To be more than cynical and cruel. Iraqis will stop killing each other, when they are all scared to no end about themselves.

    Just make sure Mister Bush has to pay for his illegal invasion and war of choice.

    Power ought to serve as a check to power - Montesquieu, 1748

    by mimi on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 12:03:15 AM PST

  •  Refugee Crisis is Inevitable (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, boofdah

    I don't think it's simply a question of the U.S. staying or leaving and causing a massacre. We have caused the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world and we can do something about it. Over 2.3 million refugees have been created so far. What's required is a massive committment to managing the refugee crisis, a committment which would include the creation of safe havens for the persecuted.

    Find out more here:

    Wondering what you can do? Refugees International's "Ways You Can Help" page has some good suggestions.

    A small portion of the five billion dollars a month that is currently spent on the Iraq war (8/2005) would go a long way toward helping Iraqi refugees. As the "liberators" of Iraq, both the United States and Britain (along with Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and Uzbekistan) are responsible for the refugee crisis they have unleashed.

    •  Bush will say: "There's no money left" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When it comes to managing the refugees, it's easy enough to say that we have been borrowing billions fron the Chinese and others in order to fight a necessary war, but now we're broke, boo hoo. The problem is, there really is no money left. The rich people have stolen it all*, and our economy is running on fumes  - 9 trillion dollars in the hole?!?

      70% of Americans can't name their own senators and congressmen; 63% can't name the three branches of government; over 50% don't know how many senators there are, and over 40% believe the Earth is being monitored by aliens from outer space. No politician can ever tell Americans the truth, because they will never win; the "no money for ungrateful foreigners" will be an easy meme to sell, I'm afraid.

      The only reasonable thing I've heard is implementing a timetable for partitioning Iraq into Sunni and Shiite areas - then leave. Cruel, heartless, uncaring, yes - but that part's already done. We fucked everything up, now all we can hope for is minimize the slaughter.

      *(This sounds simplistic; do the research, though....)

      "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." - George W. Bush

      by David Mason on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 02:52:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  America is responsible (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beachmom, RenaRF, DSPS owl

    It's not racist to say that because we absolutely destroyed Iraq's infrastructure that it is therefore our responsibility to restore it.
    The problem is that it's just not that simple.  Given the general reality that Americans are no longer welcome in Iraq, fulfilling our responsibility is exquisitely complicated.  

    I think the answer is for the US to finally commit fully to the United Nations.  Only a HUGE international force, backed by the US but well populated by Muslims, and even perhaps commanded by a Muslim, can deal with this situation.
    The only way that infrastructure can be rebuilt is if security is restored and security will not be restored until there is true police power on the street 247.  It seems to me that short of around 500,000 troops on the ground for at least two years before they begin to draw down, with the mandate to treat those who commit violence as CRIMINALS (the Arabic word is Hirabi, I believe), this will never be solved.

    Given that what I'm suggesting is a total pipe dream, it seems to me that there is no answer.

    Do American troops stay and keep dying simply because no one can come up with a solution?  Or does America leave Iraq to feast upon itself?  The prospects for Iraq upon the departure of American troops brings to mind Stephen Crane's poem, "In The Desert":

    In the desert
    I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
    Who, squatting upon the ground,
    Held his heart in his hands,
    And ate of it.
    I said, "Is it good, friend?"
    "It is bitter--bitter," he answered;
    "But I like it
    Because it is bitter,
    And because it is my heart."

    Such is the grotesque logic of civil war.  The poem was written from the pain of our civil war, but truly, it is about all civil wars.  Indeed, from the perspective of humankind, it is about all war.

    Rena, I'm so very sorry for your friend's family.  I am at a loss when I think about Iraq.  When I think about us, each day it becomes more clear to me that if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not impeached, our country will never recover.  And maybe by so doing, we will have begun to take responsibility for our actions.

    I don't know why I'm up so late thinking about this...

  •  A terrible situation. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, indycam

    And I truly feel for your friend's family.

    But a madman who essentially defrauded his way into the presidency (by concealing his intentions) and his fellow thugs broke Iraq, and our citizens (troops) should not have to continue to die for it and our children and grandchildren should not have to be bankrupted to pay for it.

    •  Can't agree with that. (0+ / 0-)

      In large measure, the USA supported the madman and his fellow thugs.  
      I agree with your point #1:  our citizens shouldn't be there getting killed.  

      But I disagree with point #2:  Yes if that's what it takes, the American society should pay for as long as it takes to restore infrastructure in Iraq.  And Afghanistan.

      The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

      by DSPS owl on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 03:29:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If the U.S. administration signalled to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    whoever are the real leaders in Iraq that they want all-party talks, and then Bush/Cheney/Baker agreed to give up the U.S. military bases and to stop privatizing the Iraq economy, especially the energy sector, would it get us anywhere? Because, for the life of me, I cannot figure out how we are going to get out of this without a lot of people getting killed, whether we stay or whether we go.

    Many of us said invading Iraq would result in disaster. I'm waiting for the apology.

    by lecsmith on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 04:30:11 AM PST

  •  Wonderful, wonderful diary, RenaRF (1+ / 0-)
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    I identify with you in the fact that I read the Iraqi blogs, and hear similar things there.  The only sane people with guns left in Baghdad are the Americans.  The Shi'ite militias are murderous roving gangs a la Somalia and the Sunni insurgents are a collection of former Ba'athists hungry to regain power, criminals eager to cash in, and al Qaeda-type radical extremist terrorists who post up signs in neighborhoods that can only remind you of the Taliban.

    If I were Iraqi stuck in Baghdad, I also would want the Americans to stay.  But here's the thing -- this war is weakening US and it's not stopping the steady slide into anarchy.  The slide will continue, that I am sure of.  Because all of these bad things that keep getting worse happened on our watch.  Who is to say that your friend's wife's family don't have harm come to them with our troops still there?

    Diplomacy is the only answer.  It may not succeed, or may take years to succeed, but it's the only way out of the mess.  I hope you have heard of the good work Sen. Dodd and Sen. Kerry have done talking to the Syrians.  Here is a link in how they have set up a framework for which discussions can begin with the U.S.:

    This represents a tiny sliver of hope.

  •  War is Kharma. (2+ / 0-)
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    beachmom, RenaRF

    When you're a country at war like America is, then whatever you do, wherever you turn, you trample lives.  Stay or go, push or retreat, every choice crushes someone's last hope.  

    Once you've chosen to go to war, good intentions become irrelevant.

    Cry "Mandate!" and let slip the hounds of accountability.

    by sagra on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 06:58:16 AM PST

  •  Is it really up to the Iraqis? (1+ / 0-)
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    What about Iran, and Syria. They are already playing a major role in determining the outcome.

    Sometimes these discussions remind me of when Dodd said, that the best thing America could offer the people of Cambodia was peace (paraphrased), as an argument against providing military aid to fight the Khmer Rouge.

    I guess we can always turn our backs on the people of Iraq and pretend it never happened. That seems to be the American way.

    •  That's part of the crux of the problem. (0+ / 0-)

      I think inituitively those who have the well-being of all parties involved know that no solution exists that minimizes bloodshed without engaging and involving Iran and Syria.  Yet our administration won't officially talk to them, and it's our administration that has to craft this piece of diplomatic heroism.

      I agree that we shouldn't do anything that enables and/or aids Iran in its development of a potential nuclear weapon.  But I don't think that that has to be mutually exclusive from any carrot offered to Iran to help achieve a relatively un-bloody withdrawal of the US.

  •  This is it (1+ / 0-)
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    Yet at the end of the day, to simply pack up and go home means that my friend's in-laws get slaughtered.  Literally slaughtered.

    This is the thing that makes me sick every time I hear people rally around getting our troops out of Iraq.  It's just so depressing and infuriating . . . and seemingly inevitable.  I wish there were a reasonable solution that didn't involve so much more loss.

    "We must use what we have to invent what we desire" -- Adrienne Rich

    by rcald on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 10:33:08 AM PST

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