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November 16, 2007


nur al-cubicle

I kinda noticed that neither Congress nor the Administration _ever_ mention Maliki these days. There has certainly been a rupture.

Ghurab al-Bain

Something to look forward to...

Really, the strategy, even if it is as successful as he protrays it, essentially postpones the day of reckoning (until after January 2009?) when one or another of these heavily armed camps, supported by various regional powers, makes a play for as much of the place as they can and their rivals respond in kind. This does not exactly mean the end of Iraq as a going concern nor is it exactly new in the Middle East , this is kind of like the history of Lebanon since 1975, but played out on a larger canvas.


GB - how you been? Drop me a line sometime, would love to catch up.


I suppose GB is saying that the Shia are armed, the Sunnis are now armed, and they're both just waiting for the Americans to leave before they resume duking it out once more.

Certainly that is possible. Yet it explicitly assumes that Iraqis' foremost and core desires remain sectarian, and discounts the possibility of political reconciliation. There are tactical issues that could advance this process, but the key issue is, in my opinion, theological. The U.S. State Department, to my great disappointment, currently avoids engaging in such battles. The U.S. military, on the other hand, has had some success at doing so in Bosnia through its chaplains (http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/download/csipubs/lawson.pdf ). Perhaps the U.S. should build on the Bosnia example and encourage similar efforts in Iraq.

Non-Arab Arab

Theology? I have yet to see the conflict - ancient or modern - where theology was the real issue. Where supposed theological rifts weren't really a manipulated tool in fights over power and resources. The religious wars in northern europe are long gone yet disagreement over transubstantiation was never settled. Balkans are a classic example of this as well. The Balkan wars were not fundamentally about theology and the end of the fighting there didn't have anything significant to do with US military chaplains. I note that report you link to is primarily about chaplain services to US servicemen, is there a piece in that larger document that you intended to point to that dealt with more?


As I understand Biddle's position in the past, he has side that the US needs to go large or get out. So it's not clear to me that he "supports" the present strategy or not.


It's interesting that commenters upthread mention the Bosnian situation, since something like that appears to be how a surge supporter like Mr. Biddle is now defining victory.

The differences between Bosnia and Iraq are too numerous to mention here. Some of them, though, ought to be obvious -- Iraq is much bigger than Bosnia, the United States is bearing the burden of military operations in Iraq by itself, and the objectives of the warring parties in Bosnia were, after several years of war, susceptible to definition as they are not (except for the Kurds') in Iraq. Why on earth would the United States be willing to commit to having its army serve as a long-term Band-Aid in Iraq, as NATO forces are now in Bosnia?

Vague, nameless dread of some kind of disaster once the American army leaves, that's why. It's not a good reason to maintain the commitment in Iraq -- certainly not as long as advocates of this course refuse to calculate the much more certain costs it will impose on the United States and its military -- but it is what supporters of the Bush administration's surge are left with.


So the final battle of Iraq has not occurred because US troops are there? The Iraqis apparently have not ruled themselves for thousands of years without US "help"! An Iraqi once told me that more people have died under 4 years of american occupation than under 30 years of Saddam, as evil as he was.


I think 20-30 year prediction period optimistic. Plus, one must remember that the U.S. will continue to take casualties with a 80,000-100,000 troop level -- road-side bombs, rockets, mortars, snipers, etc. My estimate: 100 to 200 deaths/year plus 5 to 10 times that wounded. Cost of maintaining this troop level will be substantial: $20 to 40 billion/year. In return, U.S. gets a degree of hegemony over the Persian Gulf --large bases in Iraq from which the U.S. can protect our strategic in the region. The question is, is the return worth the continued cost.


"...a first-rate military strategist who has been working with General Petraeus,..."

Perhaps I'm biased, but does Petraeus let people work 'with' him who would publicly dissent from the administration's program?

No Preference

. . . the key issue is, in my opinion, theological. The U.S. military, on the other hand, has had some success at doing so in Bosnia through its chaplains. Perhaps the U.S. should build on the Bosnia example and encourage similar efforts in Iraq.

This is one of the funniest things I have seen all week. I don't know if US military chaplains are just the guys to resolve the finer theological sticking points between Wahabi terrorists and the ayatollahs of Najaf, but it would make a great SNL skit.


One question wich begs to be answered: Is the deployment of 80 k soldiers for 20 years economically *possible*? The dollar has hit 5.50 to norwegian crowns now, the warcost is estmated round a trillion, the desrtions and suicides int he army is soaring and the plan is to keep going for 20 more years?

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