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July 17, 2006



Glad to see people are coming around. It was obvious the US lost Iraq the day the looting began. I waited about a year to see if Rummy would learn anything. He didn't so I declared defeat. The other reason why Iraq cannot be won is that there is no way to bribe the Arab Sunnis. They don't have oil, and not enough population to be a power in a "unity" government. Rice finger-shaking and admonishing just isn't enough. [This is where I might disagree with the analysis. Why wouldn't al Qaeda set up training camps in the Sunni triangle and spread global havoc from there?]

As for the future, an Army major I know, who's in the Iraq planning thicket (as opposed to the fighting thicket) puts it this way: cut and run or stay and die. There is no solution for Iraq.

As for US morals, there aren't any. This is SOP. Read Overthrow by Stephen Kinzer for the sad history.

Fine and dandy. We now agree. Unfortunately W doesn't. He won't leave because doing so cements defeat. He'll never do it. He's much more likely to escalate--call it doubling up in gambling, I think.

Andrew Reeves

The other reason why Iraq cannot be won is that there is no way to bribe the Arab Sunnis. They don't have oil...

On the contrary, the lack of oil in the Sunni regions makes the Sunni imminently bribable. The Sunni can make nice with the Shi'ites and Kurds and get a share of the oil money, or they can continue indiscriminate slaughter and get an impoverished unrecognized rump state in Al Anbar.

Why wouldn't they go with the former and a Bosnia-esque solution?

Scott Martens

I'm inclined to agree with Andrew. I'm not sure that there's any non-catastrophic solution for Iraq, but it seems to me that the only prospect of a solution would be in ethnic and sectarian cantonment, with the US swallowing its pride and accepting that plenty of people it doesn't like will be empowered by the outcome, including Iran and Sunni jihadists. I can't imagine an Iraq emerging that in any way resembles the stated American goal of constructing a positive example for the rest of the region, but at least petty sectarian tyrannies are likely to stay petty.

Dag Landewall

Weakness invites aggression.

Leaving Iraq? Go ahead, but this is not about Iraq – it’s about the world as we know it.

And here is why: The soon nuclear Iran, Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas link could not be more visible these days – and if anyone has not noticed, they are on the move and they will soon radically be changing the power balance in the Middle East far away from western influence.

Why now? Because the US is bleeding in Iraq and US arrogance to UN, EU and other potential partners make international support for US missions in Iraq hard for W to get. And a bleeding US, won’t be able to stop Iran’s nuclear (nor North Korea’s) ambition, nor to support a peaceful solution for the Israel/Palestine issue. Just because of this – the Iran sponsored offensive is coming just now. The map of the Middle East will be drawn by Iran and followers/ supporters/associates and western influence in the Middle East will probably vanish together with the state of Israel. That’s my scenario and I don’t like the consequences of it.

What to do? Risking to take the “assume a can-opener” approach – a collective US, EU and NATO offensive (probably 500.000 to 800.000 troops on the ground) to seal the borders of Iraq to stop supply of new insurgents and supply. Establish security, law and order in the major cities. Engage in a massive nation building effort with a Marshall plan to give ordinary people their lives back. This is in my perspective a 20 -40 year effort and will be a burden all of us in the western world have to carry collectively. We took it – we own it. We broke it – we’ll fix it.

Sorry for the strange english - It's not my mother tounge...


While I support a withdrawal, I would add a proviso -- the US will withdraw its troops, say in six months, unless the Iraqi Parliament votes to ask it to stay. The advantages of this approach from a US political standpoint seem obvious. For Iraq, if the Parliament does not ask us to stay, it can at least get some credit for our withdrawal.

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