Friday, November 18, 2005

Progress in Iraq?

Greetings all! As you all probably know, there are two fierce debates going on at this moment in Washington D.C. One is in regard to the "intelligence" that led to the war, questions about the Bush administration's honesty, and whether senators had access to the same information the White House did. We're hearing the Republican talking heads raise questions about Democratic senators who voted for the war and have recently called it a mistake (ie John Edwards). According to these Democrats, they didn't have access to the same information as did the White House. The Bush administration along with loyal partisans are claiming that all the intelligence was available across the board. So who's right?

The second debate is about setting a timeline, or at least a plausible plan, to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. When do we get out of there? How do we know it is time? Why have troops been killed almost daily even when the insurgency has been in its "last throes" for months?

The Bush administration and the right-wing talking heads have consistently claimed that there is significant progress in Iraq, which is ignored by the mainstream media, or "liberal media". I'm not trying to throw mud at the right here, but I wish to ask the following question: What progress has been made in Iraq, besides the few elections that have been held? I ask this question not to piss anyone off, but as a humble request to learn something to which I haven't been exposed.

I would enjoy an in-depth discussion here about the various topics I have touched upon. I'll outline them here again (for clarity):

1. Debate on intelligence following up to the Iraq war. Did senators have the same info as the W.H. or is the Bush administration smoking the mirrors?

2. Debate on withdrawal of troops. When is it appropriate to start withdrawing? Should we have such a plan?

3. What progress has been made in Iraq? We know having elections is hardly a democracy, so what else has been accomplished? Is such progress wishful thinking by the right?

NOTE: If you write a comment which you feel is crucial to this discussion, feel free to post it here. If you think it's too long for the front page, you can put a preview paragraph and tell the reader that your comment continues in the "comments" page. ENJOY!

6 comments:

BigNewsDay said...

In regards to the intelligence (or lack there of), my understanding is that the executive branch of the government provided Congress with all of the intelligence information used before the congressional vote to authorize the use of force. This brings up another point. If anyone remembers, Bush asked congress to pass this resolution to authorize the use force to put pressure on the UN so that we could get weapons inspectors back in Iraq, so the argument that all of these congressmen voted to go to war, simply does not hold water. Before this vote, Dick Cheney demanded that the CIA find proof that Iraq was purchasing uranium from Niger. A group within the CIA, which did include Valerie Plame, decided to send her husband over to Niger to investigate these claims. Wilson then submitted his report to the White House stating that he could find no evidence that Iraq was purchasing uranium from Niger. For some reason, the White house failed to inform congress of these findings and continued to use this false claim as a reason for going to war.

BlackLabelAxe said...

Intellegence leading up to the war: To preface, I fully support the de-throning of Saddam. I also beleive that GW had that on a "to do" list since he was elected, and needed the right reason to do it. Our intellegence in the Arab world is nothing short of a sad joke that you and I are paying for. You and I voicing dissent on this webpage is more likely to be found and noted by feds than a plainly posted terror plot in arabic. I beleive that Bush heard what he was looking for and did not suspiciously investigate, but I also beleive that our CIA did a typical job for them, which is just above pure garbage.

We need to figure out why we were wrong, but the point is that we are in this for the long haul. Even if you disagree with going in the first place, we have to honor the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers by carrying out the mission. It is not fair to their families to know that they died in vain. They died so that we can win, and we must demand victory as taxpayers and freedom-loving people. I also think our politicians need to honor their sacrifice by coming up with a better strategy for winning the peace and establishing a new government. Our military will perform brilliantly, but they need to have an equally effective political strategy in place to truely win the hearts and minds of that nation.

Progress in Iraq: Permanent infrastructure is being erected, which is the skeleton of a blossoming economy. Without an economy, no nation will survive even a year, therefore it is imperative that they have a reliable network of roads, telephones, internet, water, and sewer service to grow their livelihoods. More oil pipelines must be constructed, and they must be secure. Iraq saw its first-ever 2,000,000 barrel daily oil export since we've occupied, which must continue to expand if they ever hope to fund a government. Women are finding their voice in public for the first time ever, and education is up and coming. None of this will matter if the Iraqi economy fails to get on its feet. People don't blow up cars and carry pipebombs in public places when they have a career to follow and a family to feed.

The progress is slow, but sure, and most of the time there doesn't seem to be a good return on this investment, but if we establish a trading partner in the middle of the middle east, the world's economy will be forever thankful for this. I don't beleive progress to be quick enough, and I beleive we are putting ourselves in great harm by not moving faster. I think we need a fresh political strategy to compliment the heroic work our servicemen are doing there.

Setting a timeline: This is probably the worst idea I've heard from Washington in a very long time (that's NOT a distinguished list, by the way!). The truth is that we've been pulling back troops for the past 6 months, but it's not a good idea to talk to the media about it. It does nothing but encourage the enemies of peace to hear that we're leaving. As always, military personnel decisions should be handled by field commanders, and honored by politicians. As our security work transfers to Iraqis, we will slowly reduce our numbers deployed there. We will probably never be able to entirely leave Iraq, it will be like South Korea, where we've had troops permanently deployed for the last 50 years. Of course the number of troops in South Korea is small (comparitively), our presence will always be required there so long as the North remains a communist dictatorship.

In summary, you cannot make public your troop strength, because it places our soldiers at a greater risk. That's giving away free intellegence. I'll tell you what: If the insurgency is willing to disclose their current troop strength, as well as the projected strength in numbers for the next 10 years, then maybe we can do the same. Otherwise, I'm not interested in giving away free intellegence.

Lefty Metalhead said...

BigNewsDay:

Thanks for the insights! I wasn't completely sure about the Iraq vote although I always had a feeling something was fishy.

Blacklabelaxe:

Thanks for your comments. The only question I had regarding your comment about Iraq progess is: Does the U.S. military have to remain there in order for Iraqis to progress even more? When is the job "finished"? The insurgency is still unrelenting. How long will we have to remain there? These are questions Americans are asking. The Bush administration always answers in general terms. That is why public opinion is unfavorable to Bush.

BlackLabelAxe said...

Lefty,

Americans should be curious, and should demand answers. I feel the administration was not clear in explaining what the objectives were, and setting "checkpoints" along the way. Very few people understand what is still going on over there, and rightfully so, should be suspicious of our leadership for being so general in speech.

US forces do not need to be present in order for Iraqis to progress, in fact it would do wonders for (currently non-existent) national pride to do this on their own. Our soldiers are required there now because if we left, a power vacuum could bring a religeous zealot to power, possibly one even worse than Saddam. The US must babysit Iraq through the infancy of its own democratic government in order to make sure it doesn't get overthrown by radicals.

How long will that infancy be? It is up to the Iraqi people. As soon as they realize that this IS their fight, and their lives depend on it, they'll get driven enough to rule themselves with democracy and rule of law. It's tough to say exactly when that point will be, our military commanders will hopefully be given the chance to make that judgement. If we leave too soon, the insurgency may succeed in destroying the new Iraqi government and return it to a fascist, pseudo-religeous dictatorship. If we stay too long, Iraqis will become dependent on American and coalition soldiers to do all the "dirty work", and they will not gain the experience or realize the need to fight for themselves.

Iraqis need to realize that these insurgents are not helping them, they are destroying the lives of their own people, destroying their cities, killing their children, and driving away business opportunities with their tactics of fear. The free men and women of Iraq have to take over, get pissed off, and stop putting up with these terrorist insurgents. Just like we threw King George out of our states, they need to throw out Al-Zarquowi, Al-Quaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and all the other religeous zealots that want to march them right back into the dark ages.

I can't give you an exact date when we can all come home, but I doubt that we'll ever fully retreat from Iraq. We still have presence in Germany, if you remember, and that's been 60 years. We can't leave them to die, but we can't babysit them like a 40-year old living at home with his parents, either. Our military commanders will make that call.

The insurgency will be laid to rest by their growing unpopularity. They are used to the politics of fear and hopelessness. People with jobs don't blow themselves up in public places to get a point across. People being told that they will go right to heaven if they kill Jews, Christians, or Americans will blow themselves up, because they fear they have no other hope, or no voice to complain.

We have started the reduction in troop strength, it just doesn't get talked about in the media, because they have no business knowing that. My prediction is that most combat ready units will be home in about 5 years, with a significant force of at least 30,000 permanently deployed there, which may be reduced to 20,000 or 10,000 in the next 20 years.

Lefty Metalhead said...

Blacklabelaxe:

Join us as a contributor. Email me at: alexortiz83@msn.com. Put "Metal Pundit" on the subject line and I'll send you an invite. You write well and offer different points of view. In short, we need people like you on here.

Osgiliath said...

The intelligense used to get US troops into Iraq was either one of two things:
1) It may have been correct, it is possible that the weapons were moved out of country at the start of the war.
2) I could have been wrong. Along with that of the French, British and countless others who said the same thing the US did.

This intelligence existed before Bush came to the White House in 2000. Pres. Clinton, Albright, etc all believed that Saddam had WMD.

I don't think that Bush manufactured the intel used, nor do I think that he only showed the Senate a part of the picture. Tenet (former DCI), a Clinton appointee, believed that Iraq had these weapons. The amazing amount of information that pointed to this is undeniable.

Wilsons report on Niger is at exact odds with what he has said since then. This was verified by the 9/11 commision, led by Gorelick, who neutered our intel gathering capabilities years before.


As to when out troops should withdraw. I can't give a qualified answer to that. Now is certainly not the time to get out. If I had to guess I'd wait for the Iraqis to get more of an infrastructure available and to have the armed forces and police of sufficient quantities to handle the situation.

On progress, I'd say that capitalism has taken root, people now have access to consumer goods they didn't before and the infrastructure is slowly people updated. Remember, Saddam hadn't done a thing with power, plumbing, etc in 35 years. There is a lot of rebuilding to be done.