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Iraq #slatepitch

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Reihan Salam argues that the U.S. should never have withdrawn its troops from Iraq.

The next few days (weeks?) are going to be insane. Can we make a running list of writers to never take seriously again after they claim the U.S. should send troops to Iraq or attack Obama for withdrawing those troops?

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  • Whiskers

    How about this- the U.S. should station troops in every country, everywhere, indefinitely. We’ll always be ready to act.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      But then the US will be too spread out and unprepared for a Martian invasion!

      Better occupy the entire solar system…Just. In. Case.

      • Anonymous

        bring back the draft, it will help reduce the unemployment rate. of course, every other country in the world will be giving us the fish eye, but it will be a small price to pay.

  • Socrets

    Started.

    David Brooks
    Thomas Friedman
    George Will
    Dick “Waterboarder” Cheney
    Donald “Known Unknown” Rumsfeld
    Maureen “Manhood” Dowd
    Peggy “Vodka” Noonan.

    • Lee Rudolph

      It doesn’t count if the writers are people that already should never be taken seriously.

      • Halloween Jack

        Well, Salam wrote this, so it’s not as if that should really be a disqualification.

      • Socrets

        I just thought I’d get the usual suspects out of the way.

        • N__B

          I’m going to tie this thread to the Battleship Yamato thread. Had Japanese gunners been a little more accurate, we might have been spared this.

          • steve

            Talk about a butterfly effect. Corporal Yoshida decided to have one more glass of sake the night before. The resulting hangover meant that he missed George Bush Senior’s plane…

          • Tom Servo

            I gotta say, I was no fan of Bush Sr. (although I was no big Clinton fan either,
            but being a one-termer is so stigmatized that I think he’s a bit underrated, especially considering the Presidents he’s sandwiched between-or perhaps because of) but the man really served his country in that regard. I can’t believe the Reagan camp painted him as a wimp. Those old school pilots were fucking hardcore.

            • The R treatment of Max Cleland convinced me that I should never again say “I disagree with So-and-so’s opinion, but he did serve his country.”

    • don’t forget Judith “I was fucking right.” Miller.

  • MAJeff

    The Spawn of Cheney is undoubtedly screening offers from the babbling head shows as we speak.

  • Actually as bad as Iraq turned out to be I expected it to be even worse. Back in 2005 and 2006 I did not think the US government was going to ever pull out its troops absent a Vietnam/Iranian style exit from the country.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Actually as bad as Iraq turned out to be I expected it to be even worse.

      It’s never too late!!!

    • Manta

      US could still send troops back to Iraq.
      Hopefully Obama will not do something so bone-headed, but who knows?

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        The US could still send troops back to Vietnam. Listen to some of the ‘winger whining about “we coulda won, but for those meddlesome kids”, and you have to ask “if the result was so bad, why not go back and fix it?”

        • Manta

          Hush: don’t give them ideas.

        • Since 1975 there have been a lot of changes in Vietnam. So much so that it now like China participates pretty substantially in the global market place. True the Vietnamese Communist Party retains political control of the state, but there are lots of sweat shops without any real unions producing cheap goods like shoes to be sold at a profit to benefit multinational capitalist corporations. It is not like Vietnamese “socialism” or what is left of it *today* is an obstacle to capitalist market expansion.

          • Jonestown

            Maybe because the capitalists won the real war (of containment).

    • If Steve Gilliard were still around I think he would say there is still time, though the embassy complex in Baghdad is probably better equipped for helicopter evacuation than Saigon’s.

      • Hogan

        I imagine the architects had that contingency in mind when they designed it.

        • Warren Terra

          … unless of course the Bushies fired any planner who dared contemplate the notion.

      • Lurker

        Technically, a helicopter evacuation of the embassy in Baghdad is much more difficult, as the city is hundreds of kilometers inland.

        On the other hand, the helicopter evacuation in Saigon was only possible because North Vietnam explicitly allowed it and their troops were disciplined enough to hold their fire when told to.

    • Bruce Baugh

      I feared/expected the same, though by then what I was really counting on was something else hideous, evil, and stupid that I’d never have dreamed of.

    • atheist

      I expected it to be even worse

      A situation in which a million people die, a nation is broken, and the land is left radioactive, was not as bad as you were expecting? What were you expecting, exactly, a nuclear war?

  • rea

    Wasn’t it McCain who thought we needed to keep troops in Iraq for the next century?

    • Manta

      Yes: for all his faults, he was clear about what was needed to make the neocon strategy “work”.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        outlive anyone who could remember a time when we weren’t in Iraq?

    • FMguru

      IIRC, McCain pledged to stay there “a million years” if that was what it took.

      Whenever I find myself feeling let down by Obama, I think back to 2008 and (once my skin stops crawling) suddenly feel much better about things.

      We could have have Secretary of State John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Phil Gramm. Think about that.

      • gmack

        Not to mention the SCOTUS members we’d have instead of Sotomayor and Kagan.

        • Tom Servo

          But Alito is basically Souter amirite?

      • steve

        I am quite certain we’d be at war with Iran right now if McCain had been elected.

        • Liberty60

          Iran…Syria…Yemen…Pakistan…who knows, Ukraine and Russia to boot, if VPOTUS Palin had her way.

        • Warren Terra

          That is so three wars ago in the McCain-verse.

        • herr doktor bimler

          Instead, the Very Serious People are demanding that the US send troops back to Iraq to die propping up an Iranian client government.

          From what I gather from the news, Iran is currently moving troops from Syria (where they are supporting the Assad regime against the jihadis) to defend Maliki’s regime. Shirley this is a win-win for the US.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        McCain pledged to stay there “a million years” if that was what it took.

        I would really hate to see what AQ evolved into by then. Or the occupying forces, for that matter.

        And “a million years” might not be long enough for neocons to evolve a brain.

        • Gareth Wilson

          I have to wonder what continental drift would do to the situation.

  • Danny

    Surely another six months will do the trick. After all, we have a moral obligation to keep bombing the crap out of all the countries we’ve already bombed the crap out of.

    • Jonas

      The next six months is the key. Until the six months following that, that will be the key.

      • Warren Terra

        Also: it’s important that we come up with an entirely false alternate-universe history of how we could have wound up in a situation like this and the people involved, and consider our options based on that alternative history. It must be, that’s how Friedman addressed Iraq for years, writing about how invasion in a certain manner and for certain reasons could have been justified and we should act as if all that was what happened.

        • Jonas

          If we show weakness in Iraq, it will only embolden the terrorists. Therefore we need to invade Iraq and put in place an American-friendly government. This is completely different than the last time we did that, how could anyone say otherwise?

          • Cheap Wino

            We can pay for it with oil revenue, which will also be completely different than last time.

            • Danny

              I’m sure the oil revenue will more than pay for the war, which probably won’t cost more than a couple billion.

              • toberdog

                And years later, when the Army general who stood up to say it would cost far more (though even he was low) becomes Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs, he will be hounded out of office as payment for his sin of telling the truth.

                • catclub

                  This.

                  Susan Rice was hounded for Condaleeza Rice’s fuckups.

        • That’s how I address most questions in my personal life. Just realized.

      • Manta

        A Friedman Unit always start in this precise moment.

        • Aimai

          Woah. Dude! That’s deep.

        • Zeno of Elea

          But since a moment is a unit of time without any extension, Friedman Units never start.

          • Cheap Wino

            And thus, conveniently, never finish.

    • Nobdy

      It’s a lack of hugh quality American Bombs that makes the natives restive.

      • Danny

        Exactly. American bombs are like pixie dust. Sprinkle them over a country, and democracy begins to flourish.

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          Let’s try it on TX first.

          • Danny

            Hey man, I live in Texas. Not cool.

            • atheist

              Well how about this: we have a lottery where every US county is put into a pot. Every six months there is a drawing, and the winning county is hit with GBU-43/B’s. It would sure stimulate job growth, not to mention cutting down on the population problem.

  • Shakezula

    Who has that kind of time? It would be much quicker to make a list of writers who Don’t think we should have supported the troops by leaving them in a combat zone for an infinite number of Mustache Units.

  • Murc

    I like how Salam neatly elides the fact that just about everyone in-country, including the government that we designed and got elected, wanted us gone.

    What he’s arguing is not that we “shouldn’t have withdrawn.” How anodyne! It sounds like he’s talking about our bases in, say, Germany. What he’s actually saying is that we should have declared war on Iraq, again, and toppled it’s government, again, and then… well, after that I doubt he has any idea except that the right sort of people would be getting blown up, and that’s all that matters.

    • steve

      He is an amazingly sloppy thinker in general. Read his concern-trolling article on work requirements for food stamps (also on slate, of course) for wonderful examples of fallacy in motion.

    • Manta

      “The other reason why U.S. forces were withdrawn: There were many Iraqis, and in particular many Shia Iraqis, who wanted American troops out of the country.”

      Salam is also quite clear that one of the main problems was exactly Maliki “Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been free to do its worst, up to and including siccing Iraqi security forces on his political rivals. And Maliki’s brutality has, quite predictably, sparked a backlash.”

      But I agree with you: if Maliki was too stupid, or power-hungry, or pushed by necessity, to do what was needed, staying in Iraq was pointless.

      Peacekeeping missions often require decades (for instance, there is still a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo): but to succeed the principal actors need to want to maintain the peace. When (as in Iraq) that is not the case, they fail.

      • Anonymous

        “There were many Iraqis, and in particular many Shia Iraqis, who wanted American troops out of the country.”

        The Iraqi government wanted American troops out. Obama, despite his best efforts, could not convince them otherwise. For once, his poor negotiating skills paid off.

        • Timb

          See, according to Reihan, that’s where you’re wrong….the Kagans claimed we could have stayed IF Obama had not negotiated half-heartedly AND, then Iraqi legislators who voted against it MIGHT have been able to be persuaded to MAYBE vote for what we wanted to have in of SOF agreement

          Just loopy

          • Col Bat Guano

            Yeah, it was that Kagan’s reference that really sold it. Their track record is outstanding.

        • joe from Lowell

          Obama, despite his best efforts

          His “best efforts” that included insisting on a poison pill as a precondition for negotiations?

          For once, his poor negotiating skills paid off.

          What negotiations? The negotiations never began; the Iraqis didn’t agree to the poison pill.

      • pillsy

        But I agree with you: if Maliki was too stupid, or power-hungry, or pushed by necessity, to do what was needed, staying in Iraq was pointless.

        Clearly we should have had him deposed and killed in a CIA-sponsored coup. What could have gone wrong with that plan?

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          Is there an heir to the Shah that needs a country? It worked out so well, last time around.

          • I believe there is a pretender to the Peacock throne in South Africa. I am not sure how legitimate the claim is, however.

            • cleter

              The Shah’s son and heir, Reza Pahlavi, is still around. I think he lives in DC or thereabouts.

    • Hogan

      He’s ignoring another big reason for pulling troops out of Iraq: we were well along the way to breaking the army. Unless he’s proposing to reinstate the draft, and I wouldn’t rule that out.

      • Aimai

        Still, now that we’ve effectively armed the ISIS with our discarded/lost/stolen or strayed weapons and humvees at least our boys would get a fair fight!

        • joel hanes

          I wonder who will end up quartered in the two large and one enormous “permanent” bases the Army Engineers and contractor$ constructed at such huge expense.

          • postmodulator

            No one, if it’s like the other stuff we built over there. It will have already fallen down.

      • atheist

        Unless he’s proposing to reinstate the draft, and I wouldn’t rule that out

        I suspect Vietnam taught the neoconservatives that the draft forces the American mainstream to think about war seriously, and is therefore something they wish to avoid.

    • joe from Lowell

      I like how Salam neatly elides the fact that just about everyone in-country, including the government that we designed and got elected, wanted us gone.

      This isn’t quite right.

      The Malaki government were the ones who wanted to reopen the SOFA to allow for an extended American military presence, although the Parliament wasn’t on board with him.

      And the head of the political party most closely aligned with Iran, SCIRI, was not our choice to head up the government. First Bush wanted Chalabi, then Allawi. Malaki was imposed on him.

  • Warren Terra

    I’m disappointed at his paucity of vision. If only we’d invaded and overthrown the Assad government and brought freedom to Syria, ISIS wouldn’t have thrived in the ongoing chaos of civil war.

    • rea

      If only we’d invaded and overthrown the Assad government and brought freedom to Syria, ISIS would be too busy running Syria to bother with Iraq . . .

      That’s one of the crazy-making aspects of this–the same US rightwingers who are demanding re-intervention in Iraq previously demanded intervention in Syria on the side of the insurgents. Hell, if we played our cards right, we’d have the 101st Airborne fighting the US Marines on the Iraqi-Syrian border.

      • ajay

        That’s one of the crazy-making aspects of this–the same US rightwingers who are demanding re-intervention in Iraq previously demanded intervention in Syria on the side of the insurgents. Hell, if we played our cards right, we’d have the 101st Airborne fighting the US Marines on the Iraqi-Syrian border.

        One of the most fascinating things about the US government to an outsider is the way that it is capable of having multiple foreign policies at once. It seems to have internalised the “checks and balances” thing to the extent where it believes that actually having a unified policy on anything would be downright un-American. See the Falklands conflict, in which different bits of the administration wanted different sides to win, and which can as a result be seen as a proxy war in the long-running cold war between the US government and itself. See also Afghanistan, in which there were US soldiers fighting under three different and frequently conflicting chains of command: the line troops, under Centcom; the OEF troops under SOCOM; and the paramilitaries under CIA.

        • DocAmazing

          Even those subunits are not unified. The CIA famously has factions within itself supporting entirely different groups and yet other factions opposing involvement at all.

        • Manta

          The US government is always busy fighting its worst enemy, the US government.

        • TrexPushups

          So any advice for explaining the naughts to my son when he starts wanting to know about history?

          • Imagine boot stomping on the face of the guy wearing it forever.

        • politicalfootball

          One of the most fascinating things about the US government to an outsider is the way that it is capable of having multiple foreign policies at once.

          My favorite example of this was in 2007, when Bush et al were beating the drums for war with Iran.

          The bureaucrats, after getting over their astonishment that anyone could be that fucking stupid, got together and released a Natiional Intelligence Estimate. saying that Iran wasn’t trying to build nukes.

          • cleter

            Iran’s been a year a way from having nukes for twenty years now.

      • Col Bat Guano

        Hell, if we played our cards right, we’d have the 101st Airborne fighting the US Marines on the Iraqi-Syrian border.

        I fully expect to see a Republican congressman arguing this point soon.

        • Well, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So the friend if my enemy must also be my enemy.

      • cleter

        So, who would win in the 101st Airborne vs US Marines fight?

        • LosGatosCA

          John McCain, of course.

  • MacK

    The difficulty (a point I think the article alludes to) is that you cannot argue that the US should have stayed in Iraq without also accepting that the need to stay in the now broken country shows that the US should not have invaded in the first place. The US broke it – moreover, the biggest sin of all was disbanding the regular Iraqi Army – something ordered somewhere in the Bush administration – but no one admits to giving the order.

  • Cheap Wino

    Can we make a rule?

    Anybody who 1) obnoxiously paraded around with a purple finger in ‘solidarity’ with the Iraqi voters or 2) ever, pre-invasion, described the coming idiocy with any words similar or implying either “short” or “easy” DOES NOT GET TO SAY A FUCKING WORD* about Iraq right now.

    Should take care of most of DC and their stenographers sycophants associated press corps.

    *Special emphasis on implying that this is somehow Obama’s fault.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Argh….I’d forgotten the purple-finger thing! So much mendacity and moral preening on the part of supporters of America’s worst war. How’s about we stop listening to people who supported the Iraq War in the first place and stop backing politicians who voted for it?

      • Barry Freed

        That was almost ten years ago. You’re talking about people who can be shown to have made public statements calling on Obama to secure Bowe Bergdahl’s freedom from the Taliban by any means necessary only weeks or months ago who are now outraged and calling for investigations because he did so. No memory. No shame.

      • DocAmazing

        Well, there goes Hillary in ’16.

        • Rob in CT

          If the rule applied to all, I’d happily subject her to it.

          • Tom Servo

            Same. You say there goes Hillary like it’s supposed to make me reconsider my position on politicians who supported Iraq.

            • DocAmazing

              Not at all. Applied across the board, the rule would eliminate almost all Republicans and half or more of the Democrats. I think I could live with the remainder.

              • Tom Servo

                Ah misunderstood.

              • joe from Lowell

                Applied across the board, the rule would eliminate almost all Republicans and half or more of the Democrats.

                Math correction: 58% of the Democrats in Congress voted against the Iraq AUMF.

        • cleter

          I wouldn’t be surprised if roiling instability in Iraq didn’t trip Hilary up. I can see some random obscure governor turning to her in a primary debate and saying “Look, you were wrong when you voted to invade Iraq, and you’re wrong now. When it comes to Iraq, you have no credibility.”

        • joe from Lowell

          Well, there goes Hillary in ’16.

          My Church teaches that forgiveness if available to all, but it requires genuine contrition, an acknowledgment of one’s guilt, and a request for that forgiveness.

          We’ll see.

      • joel hanes

        Josh Marshall
        Andrew Sullivan
        Dianne Feinstein

        • postmodulator

          Some left-leaning pundits who supported the invasion reneged on their support before the invasion started. I consider them to be worthy of partial credit. I *think* Josh Marshall is in that group (which I also believe to include some but not all of Klein, Yglesias, and Drum).

          • Barry Freed

            No, Josh Marshall continued to support the war after it had started. I’m not sure how long it took but I remember writing him a very angry email after the Iraqi National Library and Archive was burned and looted.

    • UserGoogol

      I don’t think it’s very productive to blame individuals for their actions. Human beings do not have much control over their destiny. Political thinkers matter because they are the containers of political ideas, and it’s those ideas that have been proven deeply flawed. Reihan Salam is just a pile of flesh and bones.

      • atheist

        So we’re all blameless of our faults because we’re just a bunch of zombies? Have fun with that.

  • There’s no point in making the list if I’m not going to be allowed to visit everyone on the list and hit them with crowbars.

    • Manta

      I like better Friedman’s approach.

      We needed to go over there, basically, um, and um, uh, take out a very big stick right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble, and there was only one way to do it.

      What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, “Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?”

      You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna to let it grow?

      Well, Suck. On. This.

      Okay.

      That, Charlie, was what this war was about. We could’ve hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.

  • steve

    Dexter Filkins (did we take him seriously?)
    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/06/iraq-extremists-mosul-american-invasion-legacy.html

    “When the Americans were on the ground in Iraq, they acted repeatedly to restrain Maliki, and the rest of Iraq’s Shiite leadership, from its most sectarian impulses…Then the Americans left, removing the last restraints on Maliki’s sectarian and authoritarian tendencies.”

    “Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq. Sami al-Askari, a Maliki confidant, told me for my article this spring, “If you had a few hundred here, not even a few thousand, they would be coöperating with you, and they would become your partners.””

    1. We need to impose our will on the leader of a country so that he isn’t authoritarian (irony much?) Sounds like he is advocating a puppet state rather than a sovereign country.

    2. Some guy in the Maliki administration thinks a few hundred US troops would somehow have made all the difference. And this is credulously reported.

    Blah.

    • Cheap Wino

      What we built is now coming apart.

      Who could have known that Iraq was a fragile web of sectarian interests that would be destabilized by an invasion? Nobody had the foresight to see that problems were inevitable.

      • Crunchy Frog

        Good source. Also the late Steve Guillard on Kos.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        you are reminding me of a very frustrating conversation I had with a supporter of the invasion not long after the problems the opponents of the war saw coming became unavoidably apparent: I had just gone through a thumbnail version of the various factions when he said, basically, “well, you know more about it than I do but I’m still right”

        and I stood there and just kinda went “uhhm

        the other thing that always slayed me from the beginning was how my daily paper’s headlines were all “Bush/Cheney/et al say X” and on page 17 was where the pretty damned comprehensive debunking of their claims took place

        • Aimai

          Yes, I remember those conversations very well. It still boggles my mind. Its like you were standing there gesturing at a cliff saying “see that cliff? Its high? and the road you are on runs right over the edge.And there’s no guardrail. And there’s a long way down to sharp sharp rocks. And you are stepping on the gas. And you remember all that stuff you studied in school about gravity, and speed, and what happens when you career off a cliff in a fast moving car?” And everyone around you just shook their heads and made little “cray cray” finger gestures about you and said “oh, sure, you know better than the experts?”

          • pillsy

            I remember having a conversation in the days leading up to the war where I complained that if we invaded Iraq, we would be pointlessly and bloodily entangled in a civil war for the indefinite future. The wing nut I was arguing with said that if I felt that way, it was my responsibility to join the army and so I could get in on that some of that pointless and bloody entanglement action.

            I would say that this response left me at a loss for words, but that’s really too charitable a description of a minute of stunned silence followed by a minute of angry spluttering.

        • toberdog

          I’ve had that conversation with any number of wingnuts. It’s all part of their “don’t confuse me with the facts” mindsight.

          • toberdog

            uh, “mindset.”

        • David W.

          You were wrong to be right and he was right to be wrong.

          In the run-up to the war, I warned people Iraq was like Lebanon raised at least another order of magnitude. But that assumed they knew anything about Lebanon and mathematics, so it didn’t register.

      • Monty
    • Ronan

      Filkins was always sloppy. Never understood how he got the recognition he did (even from somewhat sentient analysts)

      • Col Bat Guano

        Filkins did spend a lot of time in Iraq and not all of it in the Green Zone. I just think he has his sources there and they mean more to him than the overall reality of the country.

        • Ronan

          He can be a brave foreign policy writer, but I just think(with a few exceptions) the concept of foreign correspondent is no longer useful. If you cant speak the language (and most of them cant) and dont have the resources to live in and get to ‘know’ a country or region (and most dont get thise resources/care enough) then youre going to have very little useful to offer.
          There are some exceptions, Rosen and Shadid in particular (but both spoke arabic and lived among Iraqis) and a lot of the investigative reporters who concentrated on the US organisation in Iraq specifically. Im thinking there’s less and less excuse to keep pouring money into foreign correspondents like Filkins when there’s so many people in the regions covered that the job could be outsourced to (which is beginning, I think, outside of the elite magazines)

          • Ronan

            Nir Rosen wrote a good article on this

            http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/05/201151882929682601.html

            “And since they don’t know Arabic, they literally cannot read the writing on the wall – the graffiti on the wall -whether it is for the mujahedin, for Muqtada Sadr, or for the football teams of Madrid or Barcelona. It means that if they talk to one man, the translator only tells them what he said and not what everybody around him was saying, they don’t hear the Sadrist songs supporting the Shia of Bahrain, or hear the taxi driver complaining about how things were better under Saddam, or discussing the attacks he saw in the morning, or the soldiers joking at a checkpoint, or the shopkeeper cursing the soldiers. In fact they don’t even take taxis or buses, so they miss a key opportunity to interact naturally with people. It means they can’t just relax in people’s homes and hear families discuss their concerns. They are never able to develop what Germans call fingerspitzengefuhl – that finger tip feeling, an intuitive sense of what is happening, what the trends and sentiments are, which one can only get by running one’s own fingers through the social fabric.”

            • atheist

              Nir Rosen is THE MAN.

          • Umm if anybody wants to outsource paying writing gigs to me here in Ghana I will happily take them.

            • Ronan

              I can pony up $1 per comment

            • Ronan

              sorry to hear about your troubles aswell, only saw it in the other thread..

    • Brett

      The problem I see with Filkin’s line of argument was that it wasn’t just the US wanting to get out in 2011 – the Iraqi government had turned against keeping any number of US troops in the country as well, hence why the agreement to keep a minimum number there as “advisers” never happened. Overriding the Iraqi government on that would have entailed re-invading the country to overcome that opposition by force.

  • Hogan

    one wonders what might have happened had we listened to Scowcroft—had we kept a residual U.S. military force in Iraq to prevent this nightmare from having occurred in the first place.

    How many troops are there in a residual?

    • N__B

      F-Troop, a lot. The Partridge Family, none.

    • MacK

      One wonders though – how many troops and for how long? 1000, 10,000, more – 3 years, 5 years, fifty, the foreseeable future?

      • Hogan

        The theory earlier on seemed to be that as long as there were Iraqis who wanted us to leave, we had to stay. It was only at the point where every single surviving Iraqi wanted us to stay that we could safely leave.

      • psp

        Forever is the correct answer. None of the reasons publicly given for invading Iraq ever made a lot of sense,but barely mentioned was the Pentagon’s 30 year desire for bases in the Gulf and the back lash from stationing forces in saudi. They thought Iraq was less religious and closer to iran.

        • Lee Rudolph

          Well, they were right that it’s closer to Iran!

    • calling all toasters

      How many troops are there in a residual?

      Until we know the true function of the war, the number of troops in a residual is the same as in an error. /stats nerd

    • cleter

      Or we could have punched Scowcroft in the balls in 2003 and not invaded at all. That would also work.

      • joe from Lowell

        Scowcroft was against invading.

  • N__B

    Three words, one hyphen: Fifty-First State.

    • Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin

      You rang?

      • William Sydney Porter

        I didn’t call it Bagdad-on-the-Subway for nothing, you know.

    • rea

      Just what Iraq needs–the 2nd Amendment.

      • Barry Freed

        Let’s give them ours, they can keep it.

      • TrexPushups

        They can have ak47s one per household. That is more firepower than we can legally own and the government is too weak to actually take the excess ones from you.

        Our gun regs are more restrictive. Which is difficult to believe.

  • Nobdy

    If the British had the resolve to keep troops in the colonies despite that little guerilla war waged by some Washington fellow then America would never have invaded Iraq and we wouldn’t have these problems. I blame the weakness of King George!

    • Barry Freed

      You jest but I agree. We’d have been better off as part of the commonwealth with a parliamentary system of government (and, arguably, the abolition of slavery much sooner). We should probably blame those pesky meddling French too.

      • ajay

        It’s depressing from a British perspective to consider that 1781 was not only a case of us being beaten by the French but, given the timing, of us being beaten by French people who were shortly thereafter going to be beaten by other French people. We couldn’t even win against French people who were so crap that they couldn’t even win against other French people.

        • Hogan

          Puts me in mind of the 2008 Fafblog interview with McCain:

          MCCAIN: Now, now I want to be clear on something. I hate war, my friends. I hate war almost as much as I hate vigorously masturbating to it. But this war in Iraq is a necessary war. An honorable war. A war that’s been beaten by its captors for five and a half years. And without it Saddam Hussein would be free even now to fly pretend airplanes into our fictional buildings with weapons of mass imagination.
          FB: None of us will ever forget that day – that terrible, hypothetical day.
          MCCAIN: And right now in Iraq we have a, a wonderful general there, General Petraeus. He’s very courageous. He is very broad-shouldered. He was beaten by his captors for five and a half years. And when you get close to him, very close, there is the distinct aroma of fresh-baked pie. And, and the first thing we have to do is let General Petraeus finish the job of securing Iraq for the Iraqi people, a proud and united people, so that it doesn’t fall into the hands of their enemies, the Iraqi people.
          FB: Well that sounds good, John McCain, but how do we really get the Iraqis to stand up for themselves against the Iraqis?
          MCCAIN: Oh, we already have, by arming the Iraqis to fight back against the Iraqis and make sure they can live in peace without fear of Iraqis. But if we don’t stay and finish the job Iraq will fall to Iraqi influence, and we cannot allow that, my friends.
          FB: See I used to be all confused about all this, but it just makes so much sense when I hear it from you! Now between half a million and a million Iraqis have been killed since the start of the war, in a country of twenty-nine million Iraqis. Do you feel kinda glass-half-full about it, like “hey look at all the Iraqis we got left!” Or is it kinda glass-half-empty, like “oh man, look at all the Iraqis we got left!”
          MCCAIN: Oh, no, no. With time I believe we can eliminate the threat of Iraq within Iraq. The first thing we have to do in order to win is to win, which I believe we can accomplish through means of winning. And the second thing we have to do is cut taxes and pork-barrel spending. Let’s not tax these dead Iraqis, my friends. Let’s kill them again so they don’t have to pay three million dollars for a planetarium in Chicago.

          • Aimai

            +++++ followed by gagging sounds as I choke on my own vomit.

          • Hogan

            Silly me, forgetting the link.

          • joel hanes

            The only possible upside is that if things get bad enough,
            Fafblog may re-awaken from the Odin-sleep.

            Hell, if things get _really_ bad, Hilzoy might come back to Obsidian Wings

          • Gunnar G. “Gunny” Gunn

            I miss Fafblog.

        • rea

          Actually, the king did not really try to use the army against the revolution, and the rank and file (and a lot of the officers) signed up enthusiastically for the project of conquering Europe.

          • Manny Kant

            He kind of considered trying it a couple times in 1789. The big problem in July was that the main unit in Paris, the French Guards, went over to the other side. After that, the old royal army started to deteriorate, with tons of officers emigrating, but that didn’t stop Louis from planning on using it to crush the Revolution once he escaped to the border in 1791.

        • Much of the support was monetary, and there is a strong argument to be made that the support for the American Revolution weakened the French Monarchy finances greatly, which, in turn, led to the French Revolution:

          During the war, France shouldered a financial burden similar to that of Great Britain, as debt from the American Revolutionary War was piled upon already existing debts from the Seven Years’ War. The French spent 1.3 billion livres on war costs. When the war ended, France had accumulated a debt of 3,315.1 million livres,[18] a fortune at the time.

          The debt caused major economic and political problems for France, and, as the country struggled to pay its debts, eventually led to the Financial Crisis of 1786[19] and the French Revolution in 1789.[20]

      • Lurker

        If it only were so simple. The loss of the 13 colonies was a terrible blow to Great Britain. It lead to the immediate change of government and caused a number of reforms. It is by no means clear that Great Britain would have went the road she went if she had been able to crush the American rebellion. The result would have empowered the right wing.

        Even more importantly, the British started developing the administration of their remaining colonies and learned from their experience.

  • Tom Scudder

    Kenneth Pollack has been offering his invaluable opinions.

    • Col Bat Guano

      So, he managed to pry off the rock he had been hiding under? That’s disappointing.

    • Brett

      Ugh, the trio of journalistic warmongers: Kenneth Pollack, Michael O’Hanlon, and Max Boot.

      If you ever want to read something darkly amusing, check out O’Hanlon’s book Healing the Wounded Giant about defense budget cuts. There’s this utter sense of loathing that permeates the book, since O’Hanlon really hates the very idea of cutting the budget and reducing America’s ability to be some type of “indispensable” foundation for international security and world peace, but he’s doing it anyways because he doesn’t see a non-cut route happening.

  • Todd

    Does Iraq have an independent Air Force? Because that could really be part of the problem if true. Does ISIS?

    • steve

      ISIS now has helicopters that it seized when the Iraqi army fled Mosul. I doubt they have jets.

      They are also sending the tanks, armored vehicles, heavy weaponry and helicopters they captured into Syria right now.

      Assad royally screwed up by 1. letting these people cross into Iraq during the Iraq war (enemy of my enemy…) and 2. spending the last year giving ISIS leeway as a way of dividing the rebels.

      Now Iran and Iraq have to pull the forces that are currently propping up his sad military from Syria at the same time that ISIS is sending heavy weaponry west.

      • Barry Freed

        ISIS now has helicopters that it seized when the Iraqi army fled Mosul.

        Do they have helicopter pilots? Helicopter mechanics? Spares?

        If the answer is yes, well, Iraq is good and truly fucked.

        • Timb

          The question is do the Saudis (yes) and are they willing to send some over (no).

      • Warren Terra

        The bit about the helicopters amazed me a bit. Tanks I can understand leaving, but aren’t helicopters practically designed for running away?

        • Col Bat Guano

          It’s really their only purpose.

  • Bill Murray

    Since President Bush’s administration negotiated and President Bush signed the SOFA that required withdrawal, why is President Obama being blamed (or credited previously) for following a pre-existing binding agreement? Sure, the Bush administration is no longer present in the conservative timeline, following pre-existing agreements is not really a conservative thing anymore and President Obama is black, but still wasn’t Bush secretly liberal.

    • mds

      Since President Bush’s administration negotiated and President Bush signed the SOFA that required withdrawal, why is President Obama being blamed (or credited previously) for following a pre-existing binding agreement?

      … Just to confirm, this is rhetorical, right?

    • Rob in CT

      It’s basically the Right-wing version of HE. DIDN’T. EVEN. TRY!

      If only Obama had used his Green Latern powers to get the Iraqi government to accept a SoF agreement they obviously didn’t want, things would’ve been fine!

      • Morbo

        If only Obama had been willing to let American troops be subject to Iraqi laws they might have stayed. I’m sure none of the neocons criticizing him now would have criticized him for that.

        • postmodulator

          Every single time you comment, I hear the “Morbo is pleased but sticky” thing in my head. I have this vague sense that we were arguing about something once, and I couldn’t really take your arguments seriously. (They were fine arguments, well made, I just couldn’t get past the Futurama thing.)

    • Manta

      To be fair, there is always a way out of a binding agreement, especially if there is nobody to force you to follow it.

      • joe from Lowell

        Indeed.

        It’s funny to me how many people spent the 2008 election saying that John McCain was going to keep the troops in Iraq for “why not a hundred” years, and spent 2009-Nov. 2011 insisting that Obama wasn’t going to withdraw the troops*, and then as soon as it happened, began arguing that the troop withdrawal was inevitable.

        *While we’re making a list of idiot writers, how about including those who wrote that the July end of combat operations/withdrawal of combat units was a meaningless change of terminology the neither amounted to nor indicated any meaningful change?

  • Tom Servo

    I agree, they never should have withdrawn. Because they never should have been there in the first place.

  • Owlbear1

    Oh look, it’s the regulars demanding others die for their entertainment.

    But, personally joining the Iraqi Military or getting a job in the Maliki government is the correct way to demonstrate ones commitment to the poor poor People of Iraq.

  • David W.

    Here’s a blast from the waaaay back past to read and savor with exquisite schadenfreude:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20030206010923/http://www1.startribune.com/stories/1762/3634746.html

    Be sure to read all the way to the end, it’s irrefutable worth it.

    • DocAmazing

      Old Handsome Joe, lettin’ his ass hang out…

      • David W.

        He couldn’t even keep from plagiarizing Powell’s “irrefutable” evidence. BTW, that word? I don’t think it means what they think it means.

    • Joe Bob

      For whatever reason Powell flushed a lifetime’s worth of credibility down the toilet for the Bush administration, I hope it was worth it to him. That WMD speech to the UN was the day it all started circling the drain.

      • Lurker

        Yep. Powell was, in my opinion, a pretty credible candidate to become the first black president of the United States: a war hero with unblemished record, a man from outside the politics to “fix the mess the country is in”. Had he resigned the office in protest of Iraq War in 2003, he would have been a rather strong candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2004.

        Powell would have been a classic-type Eisenhower Republican. Naturally, with the current Republican Party, it means “communist”, and even within the Democratic Party, it is left of Obama.

        What the Earth prompted Powell to go with the flow and lie publicly about the WMD, I can’t know. Perhaps his military training really had infused him with the habit to obey even non-sensical orders. Perhaps he needed the money.

        • Manta

          Or perhaps it was not the first time

          http://www.consortiumnews.com/archive/colin3.html

          He was charged with investigating a detailed letter by Tom Glen (a soldier from the 11th Light Infantry Brigade), which backed up rumored allegations of the My Lai Massacre. Powell wrote: “In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.” Later, Powell’s assessment would be described as whitewashing the news of the massacre, and questions would continue to remain undisclosed to the public.

  • cpinva

    “Can we make a running list of writers to never take seriously again after they claim the U.S. should send troops to Iraq or attack Obama for withdrawing those troops?”

    it will take far less time (and be a much shorter list), to make a list of those writers to take seriously on the subject.

  • FourTen

    This is a situation where “We told you so” should work but for some reason doesn’t.

    • Manta

      We told you that leaving Iraq was a mistake.
      But noo, you had to do it anyhow.
      Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten US into!

  • Anonymous

    Obama lost Iraq

    • Col Bat Guano

      Nice try, but still pancakes.

    • cleter

      So, on Jan 19 2009, we were winning, and suddenly on Jan 20 2009 we started losing?

      • LosGatosCA

        See, you get it if you try.

        Also, too, economy was on a direct path to recovery after a temporary dip that was completely disrupted on January 20, 2009.

        Many, many things are explained by the disturbance in the white force that took place that day.

      • joe from Lowell

        In 2007, Michelle Malkin wrote, “When the Republicans controlled Congress, we were winning in Iraq. Now that the Democrats control Congress, we’re losing.”

        Yup. That actually happened.

  • joe from Lowell

    Salaam writes about an American troops presence as a calming, unifying force that would restrict Shiite depredations against the Sunnis and make a political settlement between them more likely.

    In practice, even the beefed-up American troop presence during the Surge was unable to prevent Shiite depredations against the Sunnis. In practice, the American troop presence made a political deal impossible, by strengthening the hand of the ultras. In practice, it was only the promise and reality of an American withdrawal that made possible the political progress that did occur between 2008 and 2011.

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