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Boo Hoo

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is very demoralized:

In the Anbar document, the author describes an al-Qaida in crisis, with citizens growing weary of militants' presence and foreign fighters too eager to participate in suicide missions rather than continuing to fight, said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a U.S. military spokesman.

"We lost cities and afterward, villages ... We find ourselves in a wasteland desert," Smith quoted the document as saying.

The memo cites militants' increasing difficulty in moving around and transporting weapons and suicide belts because of better equipped Iraqi police and more watchful citizens, Smith said.

The author of the diary seized near Balad wrote that he was once in charge of 600 fighters, but only 20 were left "after the tribes changed course"_ a reference to how many Sunni tribesmen have switched sides to fight alongside the Americans, Smith said.

No thanks to Harry or Nancy. This is a real problem for the press. There may not be enough foreign fighters left to create the new Tet that they're dying to report.

[Update early afternoon]

The WaPo has more detailed account. Apparently the diary was from the October time period.


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bob wrote:

What if the USA had withdrawn after toppling Saddam? By withdrawn, I mean either withdraw to bases in desert, or to neighboring countries and to naval vessels in the Gulf - I don't mean withdraw from the middle east altogether. In a scenario in which the US withdraws, Al Queda presumably would have become just as active, or more active, in Iraq, initially siding with the Sunnis. By now, wouldn't the Sunnis be getting fed up with Al Queda, just as they are now? Once Saddam was toppled and the intial impetus toward democracy was created (purple ink-stained fingers, etc), was the US army's presence on the streets really necessary?

ken anthony wrote:

Wishful and dangerous thinking Bob,

These thugs are bullies that maintain control through fear.

Wouldn't the Sunnis be getting fed up with Al Queda?

It doesn't matter.

Left alone, bullies don't give up being bullies, it doesn't matter if their gang members get fed up. Without the light of day, they would see no option to leave.

Bullies are all cowards. Why does a wife not leave an abusive husband? How long does it take for her to become fed up? Not long, but she will continue to live with the bully for years. Usually she needs help to see the light of day. Most never do. They continue to be abused (usually hidden in private) until the day their abusive husband dies. My mother had two abusive husbands. The second one 'saved' her from the first. He died. Her third husband has been better for her (and she'd kill him if he ever became abusive.)

Without our soldiers to bring the light, bullies remain bullies and tribal gang members would continue to act in fear as they always have. That fear causes the members to become abusive bullies themselves maintaining the status quo.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Ken Anthony is right Bob.

I would put it this way: in the scenario you describe the Iraqis would swiftly be in a situation where they're ruled by someone even more violent and ruthless than Saddam*.

One can't just wish away being ruled by the gun so considering how they didn't manage to topple Saddam (not for a lack of trying) they would have had no chance no matter how much they would want it.

Now the result of your scenario is this: with a continued lack of action from the US Iran would step in and earn a tremendous amount of goodwill (including outside the Middle East) for "stopping the slaughter" (it would be no such thing) no matter how brutal and unjust they were (it would likely be a quick local genocide of everyone Sunni). Iran and Saudi Arabia would immediately find themselves even more pitted against each other than they already are. I doubt it would stop there. Iran would in essence solidify their aim of becoming the regional superpower and with a bomb or two they could aspire to becoming the region itself (which has always been the publicly professed ambition of their theocracy).

Sound strange? Well it is strange because fools around the world praise Iran if they do and praise Iran if they don't, the exact opposite of the US which is damned no matter what. Even more fools think that none of it matters or is of any importance.

Confused by the Iranians presently helping out Al Qaeda? Pragmatism against common enemies, it really ought not to be hard to understand. "Iran" and Al Qaeda have the same ultimate aim they just happen to represent different directions on faith and to a certain degree on methods (at least towards their own).

* That could very easily happen even if the US were to withdraw completely at this later stage --it would honestly be a betrayal on par with Viet Nam. Actually since it would be the second time in half a century it would be far worse and I doubt anything the US could do would make things better (for anyone including Americans) at that point. Many Americans seem to wish for this although I can't believe they honestly understand what they're wishing for and I hope they realize sooner rather than later.

Bob wrote:

Those are good replies - sorry I can't address them all. I'm looking for a strategy in Iraq that limits US casualties, but doesn't give ground to Al Queda. What about using an Afganistan-style strategy - either arming the Sunnis, as we did with anti-communists in Afganistan in the 1980s, or give the Sunnis relatively limited on-the-ground support, as we did with the Northern Alliance to help them overthrow the Taliban...

Karl Hallowell wrote:

I don't understand Bob. How can you apply the Afghanistan strategy to Iraq, much less in a productive way? There's no enemy government in charge of Iraq and when there was, under Saddam Husein, there wasn't an organized resistance to support. Far different circumstances means different strategies are needed.

Second, casualty reduction shouldn't be a dominant strategy objective. It means you yield initiative to anyone who can inflict casualties on you.

Steve wrote:

find a military base. Find a watering hole nearby. Go in. Buy a few beers for the guys with short hair. Then, ask those guys if limiting casualties is their prime focus.

Guaranteed, it's in the top 10, but only with regard to their mission of protecting us as a nation being first. Remember, they all volunteered. You don't do that with survival as your top priority. At 18, if survival is your top priority, you go to college or work at McDonalds.

The beauty of the all volunteer service is that it has become the best educated military we've ever had. They know the score.

Bob wrote:

I hear you. I appreciate the soldiers. But the American public seems to support military missions only if Americans are immediately threatened or if there are few casualties. It is hard to convice the public that they are threatened in Iraq because the big picture is hard to grasp. So I was thinking we have to fight smart and limit our casualties. What about withdrawing now and just arming the Sunnis? Use air power to warn all sides to not engage in civil war? Probably can't work. Any other ideas? What is a good strategy for Iraq if Clinton or Obama wins and most troops are pulled out?

Mac wrote:

Bob Said: I'm looking for a strategy in Iraq that limits US casualties, but doesn't give ground to Al Queda.

Simply put, if you look at the strategy already in place and the number of those lost under the new strategy, we're doing a great job. The objective is to support a new government type and to destroy AQ. If limiting casualties is the foremost goal, then victory cannot be achieved. Risk is a part of decisive action. Thats why an all volunteer force is a BIG STICK to be wielded on the world stage.

Leland wrote:

I think the "cut-off the head of the snake" strike just before the stepoff to invasion was the only shot. If Saddam had been killed without the need to destroy Iraq's military and government infrastructure, then possible the US could have avoided invasion, and Al Qaeda might not have prospered.

That's pretty wishful, considering that's a slight variant to the rational for stopping the 1991 conflict.

For certain, once we destroyed the government infrastructure to provide services to civilians and destroyed the military that protected Iraq from Iran; then we needed to stick around to help rebuild. Otherwise, you accept that "Mission Accomplished" was the right message (not just for that Task Force, but for all of the US).

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on February 10, 2008 7:29 AM.

What Would He Know About It? was the previous entry in this blog.

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