Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I have posted this essay many times over the years, but, on this momentous day, perhaps it is once again appropriate to reconsider this restatement of WHY WE WENT TO IRAQ:

1. Saddam was bad. He deserved ouster, capture, trial, and execution. Twenty-five million Iraqis deserved an opportunity to take control of their lives free of Saddam's oppressive regime.

2. Saddam was at war with the United States and a threat to regional security. For more than a decade, we flew combat missions over Iraq and drew anti-aircraft fire everyday. Our forces were stationed in Saudi Arabia to neutralize the threat Saddam posed to the region. Our presence in Saudi (part of our essential commitment to preserving the peace) irritated the international Muslim community. In fact, Osama bin Laden cited our presence in Saudi Arabia as the casus belli for war against America in general and 9-11 specifically.

3. Saddam was contained--but only as a result of the costly military commitments cited above. In addition, Saddam was contained as a result of a United Nations sanctions regime. Before the war, several human rights organizations charged that the heartless US-driven sanctions policy had killed upwards of 500,000 Iraqis through malnutrition and lack of adequate medical attention. Later, we learned of massive corruption on the part of the UN in administering the sanctions against Saddam's Iraq. Moreover, by 2002, the flagging resolve of the French and other European powers threatened the entire sanctions program. Containment was a leaky policy taking on more water every day.

4. Saddam unbound meant a return to the status quo ante bellum in which he had threatened his neighbors and worked assiduously to manufacture and deploy weapons of mass destruction.

5. Saddam and 911. It is a long held article of faith in the mainstream media that "911 and Iraq were not connected." This is nonsense. What they mean to say is that Saddam and his regime were not complicit in the terrorist attacks of 911. Those two statements are not the same. Conflation of these two distinct ideas belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the task that confronts us.

Although there is very little patience for a nuanced discussion of Saddam and the dangers he posed in the Middle East, here is a review in a nutshell:

Saddam was our sworn enemy. We know that he supported terrorist networks in the Middle East, and he may or may not have been harboring al Qaeda operatives (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) [6-30-09: IT IS CLEAR NOW THAT THIS RELATIONSHIP WAS NOT INTENTIONAL]; either way, his regime, inarguably, contributed to the continuing turmoil in the region. More importantly, our state of war with Saddam's Iraq, and the continued vendetta with him presented an insurmountable obstacle to progress in the region.

Saddam was connected to 9-11 in that the insecurity he created in the region contributed to the greater instability and discontent, which facilitated terrorism. The relationship between Saddam's Iraq and the cauldron of hostility that produced 911 was so obvious and internalized for so many of us that public opinion polls have consistently revealed a significant portion of Americans who connect Saddam and 911. Of course, many have taken those numbers as evidence that the Bush administration merely deceived the simple-minded. But that conclusion, once again, flows from the mistaken but foundational premise that 911 and Iraq cannot be connected; therefore, any person who makes that connection is: 1) wrong; 2) deficient in intelligence and 3) under the spell of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

The bottom line: If Saddam could be deposed, many of us believed that a new Iraq would emerge, which would begin a process that might lead to an era of reform in the Middle East, which might ultimately make Islamic terrorists as rare and irrelevant as Ku Klux Klan terrorists.

Yes. Iraq was a war of choice--but it was not a frivolous choice. Granted, now we face potential crises in the region of our own making that dwarf the old inconveniences. However, while it is tempting to view the past through the knowledge of the present, we must remember that the Iraq policy emerged from a long list of terrible choices. Doing nothing was an extremely unattractive option in the post-9-11 world.

All of the above is unalterable history. Now What?
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Only because I never see this assertion challenged, let me just say out loud:

It does not follow logically that someone who voted against the surge two years ago, and called for a subsequent sixteen-month “date certain” for withdrawal back then, is now vindicated, twenty-four months later, after a Herculean effort on the part of the United States military, by a bilateral agreement, between the USA and an increasingly stable Iraq, to aim for a major withdrawal of US armed forces over the next thirty-six months.
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: an okie gardener
If the MSM of today had the patriotism of their predecessors, the story of Lance Corporal Christopher Aldesperger would have been featured on the front pages of all newspapers.

Story here. From The Rott.
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gateway Pundit has the round-up on the 10-year anniversary of President Clinton's speech, including video link, in which President Clinton asserted that Saddam Hussein had WMD and must be stopped. Also Clinton's 2004 quote supporting the Iraq War on the same grounds.

Until many Democrats decided their partisan advantage lay in attacking Bush, determination to stop Saddam was bi-partisan. To paraphrase Mark Twain--there are liars, damned liars, and unethical politicians.
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: an okie gardener
Once again the blogosphere does the work that past generations of MSM would have done.

Captain Brian Chontosh, USMC, American Hero. Story here, from the Rott. From the official site of the USMC:

-- Capt. Brian Chontosh, of Rochester, N.Y. While serving as a platoon commander in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 25, 2003, Chontosh and his platoon encountered a coordinated ambush in a blocked road. Chontosh single-handedly cleared more than 200 meters of an enemy trench, using his own weapons and discarded enemy weapons to kill more than 20 enemy soldiers and disable many more. For his actions, Chontosh was awarded the Navy Cross.

Details from the Department of Defense site here.

An internet search showed very few news references to his actions or his medals. One of thes stories, from USA Today, takes a typical slant in covering medal winners--trauma and its sometimes aftermath of substance abuse. Does a society that does not honor its warrior heroes even deserve to exist?
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: an okie gardener
Some time ago, I posted that what Iraq needed was Iraqi Minutemen, armed citizens banding together to defend their liberty. Now they have them, and they are making the difference. These armed citizen groups will make it more difficult for any aspiring dictators, and for terrorists.
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Republicans remain over the top in their criticism of the Democratic leadership in staging the all-night Senate debate. In truth, we ought to be thanking Harry Reid and his gang that cannot shoot straight.

The Good News:

1. Republicans ought to have their mouths washed out with soap for every time they even intimated that a debate regarding the War in Iraq was a waste of time. We need more all-night sessions in which Americans get a front row seat to a serious conversation about the war and the consequences of failure. The President does not have the ability to take that discussion to the American people. I am happy that Reid does. Regardless of his intentions, which were not honorable, Americans are talking about Iraq again.

2. More importantly, Republicans are talking about Iraq again. A few weeks ago Republicans were sniping at one another. Thanks to Harry Reid we are focused once again on how serious a predicament we are in and aware once again that we only get out of here alive, if we stick together. We could not have asked for a greater gift.

The Bad News:

1. Our latest victory only buys us a few weeks. In truth, we need a long-term Iraq strategy and commitment. Ten years maybe?

2. To do that, we need to take drastic steps to save and rebuild our depleted military. We need to go figure out how to secure peace and stability in Iraq without busting the treasury. We need to take our case to the American electorate and convince them that this action is worthwhile and doable.

3. Those are tall orders.
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The Democrats are shameless showboats, demagogues and trimmers.

Having said that, there are serious problems with the Iraq War:

1. We are breaking the bank. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on this war. No matter what we do, we will spend hundreds of billions of dollars more on Iraq. A hundred billion here and a hundred billion there and before you know it, it all adds up to real money. We have spent real money on this military engagement, and we will have to pay the piper at some point.

2. We are breaking the army. We have the best army in the history of mankind--but we are stretching our military past reasonable expectations. How much longer can we keep these same fellows in the field? Why have we not moved to reinforce our military? What happens when we finally burn all these guys out?

3. We are breaking the patience of the American people. We are stretching the basic assumption of competence in government that provides social glue for American culture.

Politicians in Washington need to put down their partisan daggers and take up arms and work in concert to save America.
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few weeks ago, I suggested that the Lugar "rupture" might not be a full-blown revolt at all. As I said then, I suspect the hand of [Secretary of Defense] Robert Gates in all this.

Recent reporting has hinted at Gates's inclination toward a revised role for American forces in Iraq, angling toward a reduced US presence in the near term. Read between the lines of this New York Times story here for some of that.

An aside: it is worth keeping in mind that Gates was a member of the Baker-Hamilton Commission.

You may re-read my 25 June summary of Lugar's speech here. As I said then, Lugar's analysis does not ignore the reasons why we are where we are. Moreover, his plan acknowledged that an irresponsible "redeployment" will prove disastrous to us and the world.

But his statement also acknowledged one undeniable, irrefutable, irresistible fact of life: No American President can fight (much less win) a war without the support of the American people. We can argue all day long about whether the people and politicians were right to abandon the President on this war--but those debates are completely irrelevant to the reality that the people have soured on Iraq, and retreat, at this point, is merely a matter of when and how.

My other question from that previous post, however, is actually the most crucial to our future:

If this signals that the President is willing to consider a "thoughtful Plan B," are the Democrats willing to forego political advantage to save the country?
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the floor of the United States Senate on the evening of June 25:

Senator Richard Lugar, (R) Indiana, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"I rise today to offer observations on the continuing involvement of the United States in Iraq. In my judgment, our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond."

Read the full speech here.


"The prospects that the current surge strategy will succeed in the way originally envisioned by the President are very limited within the short period framed by our own domestic political debate."

"The current debate on Iraq in being driven by partisan calculations...[and does not] addresses our vital interests...."

"[We must all] make adjustments to [our] thinking. Each of us should take a step back from the sloganeering rhetoric and political opportunism that has sometimes characterized this debate."

"[W]e do have viable options that could strengthen our position in the Middle East, and reduce the prospect of terrorism, regional war, and other calamities. But seizing these opportunities will require the President to [change policies, and i]t will also require members of Congress to be receptive to overtures by the President to construct a new policy outside the binary choice of surge versus withdrawal. We don’t owe the President our unquestioning agreement, but we do owe him and the American people our constructive engagement."

The Plan? Read the full speech here.

In a nutshell:

1. In terms of the timetables, admit that the Iraqi reality does not conform to the domestic American political reality.

2. Redeploy, refresh and rebuild.

3. Protect American vital interest in four basic areas:

--no safe haven for terrorism

--prevent regional instability

--check the rising influence of Iran

--restore American credibility and influence in the region

The surge is not working.

Key Quote: "Its failure, without a careful transition to a back-up policy would intensify our loss of credibility. It uses tremendous amounts of resources that cannot be employed in other ways to secure our objectives. And it lacks domestic support that is necessary to sustain a policy of this type."

Total withdrawal is a disaster.

--risks a wider regional conflict stimulated by Sunni-Shia tensions
--severe blow to U.S. credibility
--potential for armed conflict between Turkey and Kurds
--exposes our loyal Iraqi friends to retribution
--refugee flows
--economic and development projects currently underway
--Iraqi territory will be used as a terrorist base.

Withdrawal more complicated than the slogans imply.

Key Quote: "An immediate withdrawal aimed at getting out of Iraq as fast as possible would take six months. A carefully planned withdrawal that sought to preserve as much American equipment as possible, protect Iraqis who have worked with us, continue anti-terrorist operations during the withdrawal period, and minimize negative regional consequences would take months longer."

4. Downsize and redeploy (to areas outside of Iraqi urban areas as well as outside of Iraq)

5. Replace the sagging military strategy with a diplomatic offensive

6. Solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and reduce dependence on Persian Gulf oil

In conclusion:

We must change policy. We must come together.

End coverage of speech.

A couple of questions immediately arise in my mind:

1. I suspect the hand of Robert Gates in all this. Is the President behind this monumental speech from the Senate floor? If so, it is a very positive development.

2. If this signals that the President is willing to consider a "thoughtful Plan B," are the Democrats willing to forego political advantage to save the country?

UPDATE: Lugar's current analysis does not ignore the reasons why we are where we are. Here for your review is my previous summary "Restating our Rationale for War."

Also, for extended Bosque Boys conversations on our policy in Iraq click here and scroll down.