Sunday, December 23, 2007

Madtom vs CMAR II

Responding to me here, then here and here, the gruff but loveable Madtom says:

I [respond] with trepidation, as I do not want to start a war, or feed the enemy, but the line is crossed. I have to disagree.

Here you're pushing your "original sin" theory, which I see as a revision of history. You seem to forget that people were crying out for help from way before last November.

I seem to remember rumors of an "awakening" from at least two and half years ago. Those call fell on deaf ears and the administration went forward with it's strategy. A strategy that was in place from before the 2004 election where the president himself ran on a platform of "fight them there". I ask you "fight who"?

And it must have been before November that the Mesopotamian introduced the Anbar awakening. These people were there from almost the beginning. Yet they were silenced but their circumstance. The rise of the Shi'a bent on revenge, the US on their doorstep and their calls for help being ignored. Who could they turn too but their own. But who allowed the chaos that came with liberation. Who allowed the ministries to burn and be looted, who disbanded the army, and the border patrols. Who opened the border and turned the area into an no mans land reminiscing of the old west. Who wanted terrorist from all over the ME to stream into anbar to fight. I think if we are going to talk about original sin you might want to look to the strategist that organized this war.

I can come to only one conclusion, knowing full well that your not stupid, and guessing your not blind, I can only conclude that this is again part of the new electoral campaign. Much like the original WMD campaign had little to do with Iraq and all to do with the rights distaste of Clinton, your now trying to rewrite history to prepare the stage for the next election.

My response:

Madtom,

A few things right off the bat:
Now let's go...

On rewriting history

I am not rewriting history. Although I think I only started using that term sometime in the middle of last year, I've been posting on Sunni Rejectionism as the original sin of Iraq since early 2005 (until they boycotted the election it would have been premature). I posted on this widely in comments of many blogs and on my blog. In fact, the Anbari leaders themselves say that prior to the Awakening, they began and maintained the insurgency because they believed that the US had come to "steal their oil". Now they say they have come in from the cold because they were wrong.

I think we agree 160K troops on April 2003 is still insufficient to accomplish all the goals you listed. Didn't the skeptical retired generals say in 2003 that 1/4 to 1/2 a million troops were needed? So why is it working now? Because the attitudes of the Sunni Arabs have changed. If the Sunnis Arabs had had the same attitude then as now, it would have taken a *lot* fewer than that to have accomplished the same thing.

I'm rewriting history? Something like 80% of Sunni Arabs boycotted the January 2005 election. They boycotted them in Baghdad as well where security was higher. I don't need to remind you of that the Jarrars and Riverbend were singing from the songsheet about The Boycott. THAT came from the Sunni Arab leadership and the deposed leadership. Shi'a Arabs faced danger in going to the polls as well and went anyway. THEIR leaders called it a religious DUTY to show up and vote. Forward-minded Sunni Arabs like the ITM bloggers, like Zeyed (used to be), braved those polls as well. This was not the common mind-set in Fallujeh, Samara, or Ramadi.

Before the Al Askari mosque's destruction, IIRC something like 9 of 10 self-identifying Sunni Arabs in Iraq were said to want the US to pull out immediately. They still believed they could win a civil war and return to the status quo. Almost immediately after the atrocity, when they realized they really *were* a significant minority in Iraq (which many openly doubted before), when they realized they had stuck their arm in a hornets nest, a slim majority of Sunni Arabs thought the US should stay until Iraq was "fixed". No surprise that many more Shi'a Arabs began saying the US should leave; they thought were were getting in the way of the proper "fix" which was the elimination of the Sunni Arabs.

There was an alternate plan to the 2003 Centcom strategy which called for the US to send enough troops to take the place Saddam in Iraq. I have always said that that would have been a mistake, and that if we had done that instead, people would have blamed the resulting insurgency on "Bush didn't trust the Iraqis" (which 24Steps says now anyway). I believe my first comment on this started with something like "Those who complain about the current strategy will never need to answer for the things that would have gone wrong if their strategy had been implemented instead."

I didn't blog before early 2004, but I said it to whomever would listen before and definitely afterwards that the Rejectionist Iraqis saw US troops as a "humiliation". More troops, greater humiliation. I said a larger footprint would only be a larger target for the insurgency. The success of the Surge (not in place until May 2007) on top of a Sunni Arab turnaround (said to have been born in September of 2006 and come of age in November 2006) confirms for me that I was right. I am not framing my response based on the success of the Surge (which I supported and railed at a large number of Senatorial leaders for deliberately undermining).

On the "Flypaper Strategy"

You know, Madtom, I think this is a situation where one guy sees faces in a drawing and another sees a vase.

The FPS never struck me as a real-live plan so much as an acknowledgement of reality. When the US went to Afghanistan to beat AQ, every bloody-minded jihadi from Africa to Indonesia followed us there to fight the infidel. But Afghanistan was only the tip of the iceberg. As Secy Rice said, in January 2001 our Afghanistan policy wasn't working because our Pakistan policy wasn't working because our Middle East policy wasn't working. Whether Egypt or S.A. or Iran or Iraq or Pakistan or the West Bank, the most vile talk against the US was inevitably the most officially sanctioned. Meanwhile, the worst mass-murderers could always find a place to hide. Zarqawi went to Iraq when he was injured in Afghanistan, but how did he get there? Through Iran, who was supposedly helping us in Afghanistan.

It was obvious that Afghanistan was only symptom of a regional problem. It could not be saved without a wider regional change. So where to start next? If we couldn't get world support or acquiescence in starting with Iraq, there is no way we could start anywhere else. IMO Rumsfeld/Bush, rather than seeking a location for an Armageddon with AQ, hoped to have things work out reasonably enough in Iraq to move to Syria or Iran.
But either way, Iraq was considered (and IS) a better place to WIN (not merely fight) against AQ. I've said that since 2002.

When Bush said "Bring 'em on", I didn't (and don't) think he really hoped the jihadis would to take him up on it. Instead, it is what you say, when someone gets in your face, to get them to back down: You say "If you really want to go lets go". Hopefully, the other party is just talking tough and will back down. In the jihadis case, dying is the only thing they look forward to anyway, so it didn't work. But I don't think they came because Bush invited them. They were coming already.



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