Thursday, April 10, 2008


I've heard the word "win" used a lot lately by Republicans regarding Iraq. They use the word as though the conflict was a football game. Win. The problem is that winning a football game has a well defined process. Chances are that they mean something a little different in respect to a war, maybe they have in mind something like WWII. We made win pretty clear in that conflict, Unconditional Surrender. Unconditional Surrender. The meaning was pretty clear, you stop all opposition and we'll stop killing you and blowing up your stuff. To be clear, we blew stuff up and killed them very thoroughly and made the alternative pretty attractive. We engaged in terror on a large and effective scale and made it pay off. Oh, stop the bullshit, take a look at the pictures of German or Japanese cities immediately post war and try to tell me that was not an application of terror. Apparently we're nicer, now-a-days.

Taking the WWII model means that all Al Qaeda are either dead or out of Iraq. It means that all the militias stop shooting at and blowing us up. It means that the criminals stop hiding their actions behind resistance. (I mean criminals, extortionists, thieves, kidnappers, etc - criminals) This seems pretty unlikely, unreasonable, oh heck, extremely far fetched.

Al Qaeda seems able to get into Iraq pretty much at will and nothing shows that Al Qaeda is shrinking, on the contrary they seem to be successfully recruiting. There seems to be little we could possibly do in Iraq that would dissuade Afghanistan/Pakistan Al Qaeda from continuing. Saudi Arabia and Syria seem to provide plenty of avenues and applicants for the job. Turning Iraq into a sea of glass would do nothing in that respect.

The militias in Iraq have their agendas, the Sunnis seem to have reached accommodation with the idea that the Saddam days are over, being a despised and oppressed minority doesn't seem to be in their plans, however. The Shiite militias have all sorts of agendas. The Sadrists seem to want us out, mainly, amongst other aims. Other militias seem to be driven most by power concerns. These people are either going to have to be disarmed or persuaded to stop. The Sadrists figure violent opposition to the US presence is entirely reasonable, so either you kill them or persuade them to knock it off until we leave (McSame's 100 years?). Killing them gets difficult without blowing Sadr City to pieces along with Basra. Sadr City is a bunch of poverty in one place (that's saying something in Iraq) and blowing it up would look bad. Basra is a very big piece of the oil infrastructure and that would work how for the oil drenched Republicans?

Criminals are criminals and they will do what they please to do. Covering themselves with something other than simple criminal motives works, they have no reason to do otherwise.

The place is awash with weapons and ammunition and particularly willingness to use them. Weaponry is not really a problem in itself, it is the willingness to use it for violent ends that is a problem. You can make people afraid to use weapons or willing to forgo their use. Scaring them means real force, by us and their own neighbors. That means making it very dangerous to be in any way involved with using force against us. The only other means is persuasion and what tools do we have in that regard?

The Iraqis might stop killing each other, but we are not going to force them to stop. We can't kill enough of them or blow up enough of their stuff to make up for the resentment recruitment factor. They will stop when they get tired of it. They will stop when the possible gains from violence are outweighed by the pain of its continuation. We make the continuation possible by damping down the levels of violence to just miserable rather than horrid. The Republican Party of Personal Responsibility cannot seem to get this - it only applies to poor Americans.

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