September 25, 2006

Was Failure Pre-Ordained, or Was It Gross Incompetence?

Jim Henley throws the flag at me here, and wonders whether I used the phrase "the best and the brightest" in a previous post, as Jim puts it, "with even a hint or irony." Truth be told, when I wrote that post, I immediately wondered whether drawing on David Halberstam's famous phrase would beg such criticism, but I nevertheless used the verbiage assuming readers wouldn't be too offended by the potential ironies. Perhaps it is a function of having read Larry Diamond's Squandered Victory, or Trainor's Cobra II, or now Ricks' Fiasco--but I can't help feeling a more talented team that understood counterinsurgency doctrine, believed in the import of nation-building, didn't go to war with swagger and arrogance, and relied more heavily on regional experts who understood the depths of the ferocity of ethnic tension among Kurds, Shi'a and Sunni--I can't help wondering whether a more convincing effort could have been waged, one where we might have had a better chance at creating a viable, unitary nation-state in Iraq, one moving in a genuinely democratic direction even, rather than crude majoritarianism and incipient civil war.

Dan Drezner asked the $64,000 question here, a week or so back:

"It also dredges up what will be an age-old debate -- was the failure in Iraq preordained because the mission was hopeless, or was it becaused the administration bungled the execution?"

I invite readers to comment here, with one added wrinkle. Do any of them believe, if we actually now intelligently pursued a regional strategy so as to begin full diplomatic discussions on Iraq (among other issues) with Iran and Syria (we need both of these countries cooperating, at least more than at present, if we want more than a prayer of success, and just saying "they know what they need to do" isn't going to get us any real cooperation, to say the least), if we increased troops levels so as not to simply perennially rotate personnel from Anbar to Baghdad or whatever the latest hot spot, but had enough forces in each area, and enough too to provide greater security for infrastructure development so 'clear, build, hold' was being pursued more effectively, and if we got a new Defense Secretary at the helm to inject fresh strategic oversight to the war effort at the civilian leadership level, among other critical policy corrections--could it make a difference at this late stage?

Linked to this, it seems to me, the big question in Iraq now, putting the simmering Kurdish sleeper issue aside for the moment, is whether a moderate Shi'a politics is possible in that country? Are the Malikis and, to an extent, the calming influences of the Sistanis, are they mostly fig-leafs, with a historical wave of Shi'a revanchism having been unleashed that has the Hakims and Sadrs fully in the driver's seat, or could a combination of a continued major US force presence and deft diplomacy with the Iranians (aimed at achieving new regional security understandings, and less support for radical Shi'a players in Iraq emitting from Teheran), perhaps foster, over several years yet, a more moderate Shi'a center? If this were achievable, and the Sunnis could derive comfort that Shi'a dominated government was not necessarily synonymous with vicious drill-wielding death squads, is it possible, if just, to see Iraq turn in a better direction in coming years?

This is a thin reed, to be sure, but I throw it out for discussion too, although I suspect the main issue for debate in comments will turn out to be whether people view the failure in Iraq as totally pre-ordained, or more a function of collosal blunders committed by this Administration. Given the proverbial 'furies' unleashed, and our early errors in execution, as compounded by this Administration's inability to speak with its adversaries, and make dramatic enough course corrections elsewhere, it's hard not to see us heading in a direction where a viable Iraqi central state becomes more and more a distant fantasy. But here's the rub. If Iraq splinters into a confederation, Iran will have gained its lebensraum in the south, Baghdad might well become divided (if the Sunnis aren't ultimately run out of the entire city), an embittered Sunni para-state, riddled with insurgents and supported to various degrees by sympathetic constituencies in neighboring Sunni states (Syria, Jordan and Saudi) will emerge, and the relationship between Turkey and the Kurdish north will become increasingly fraught with tension. In short, Iran will have emerged all told the biggest victor, but the prospects of regionalization of the conflict will be persistent and real, so that Teheran's interests will be threatened too (which is why, if to a limited degree, both the US and Iran's interests are aligned to the extent neither want a total melt-down in Iraq). Unlike Vietnam then, where the domino theory proved a chimerical fear, an American departure from an Iraq still unsettled and cascading into potentially greater chaos could serve to further radicalize the region, not only threatening our allies, but creating more terrorists and space for religious radicalism generally (yes, even more than to date). This is why I still hope something can be salvaged still from the horrific blunders we've committed, and this is why I still hope against hope that failure might not have been always pre-ordained, but rather been more a function of woeful incompetence, because if nothing else, it gives one at least a modicum of hope the situation can improve in coming months and years, rather than degenerate further even.

Posted by Gregory at September 25, 2006 12:07 AM
Comments

Do any of them believe, if we actually now intelligently pursued a regional strategy so as to begin full diplomatic discussions on Iraq (among other issues) with Iran and Syria (we need both of these countries cooperating, at least more than at present, if we want more than a prayer of success, and just saying "they know what they need to do" isn't going to get us any real cooperation, to say the least), if we surged more troops into Baghdad so as not to have to rotate them out of Anbar, and if we got a new Defense Secretary at the helm to inject fresh strategic oversight to the war effort at the civilian leadership level, among other critical policy corrections--could it make a difference at this late stage?


Do you really believe any of these things has a legitimate chance of happening under Bush?

Posted by: minute at September 25, 2006 01:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am not sure it would have been possible to turn Iraq into a liberal democracy if the occupation had been competently handled. I am quite sure, however, that if it had been then the situation today would be much better than it is.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but let me mention just a few. If we had ensured order in Baghdad after the war ended, then the population would have been more on our side, and the insurgency would have had a much harder time getting started. Secondly, if we had had enough troups to bring order to the Shiite South, then the radical Shiite militias could have been disarmed, and moderate Shiites, who are the considerable majority, would have had a far better chance of succeeding politically, instead of being intimidated and assassinated as they have been. And if the government was as a consequence dominated by moderate Shiites, then the Sunnis would be far more likely to trust it, and we might be on the way to a stable sitatuation.

Posted by: Les Brunswick at September 25, 2006 01:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I will refer to three authors whose books/comments I believe point out some critical issues - all of which suggest that the venture was doomed from the start and hardly for "democracy building" purposes.

Jim Rogers, the famed ex-hedge fund manager, commented at the time of the invasion that the venture would be a disaster. He has traveled around the world via motorcycle once and auto once. He referred the the totally inconceivable expectation that the Shia, Sunni and Kurds would be able to co-exist in a unified and democratic Iraq. It had only been years of colonialism and dictatorship that had prevented those groups from fighting - and now all of that tension is free to explode.

The pseudo autobiographic book about Paul ONeill following his exodus from Treasury made one thing clear - the Bushies wanted to go to war with Iraq from day one. Why? It was before the WMD excuse and 9/11. If Iraq was so important to addressing radical Islam and they were so concerned about it, then why was Al Quaeda handled so passively? ONeill said that it was 24/7 Iraq and nothing about terrorism prior to 9/11. This leads to the third author...

Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy is a critical book IMO for anyone who wants to understand why we went into Iraq. I had been highly skeptical that oil was a big part of the motive until I read this book and then did more reading on the subject. The real reason is securing the massive oil reserves but also....very critically...preventing Sadam from assembling a new Petro power block with the Russians and Chinese - one that threatened the universal pricing of oil in US Dollars. Why is that so important? With the US so heavily in debt and over 50% of it held by foreign entities (mostly central banks), it is CRITICAL that the dollar remain the global reserve currency. If a competing petro block were allowed to emerge and trade oil in Euros, then the dollar could be in deep trouble - and we could turn into Argentina.

I am not typically a conspiracy buff...at all. However, the last 6 years have brought about an interesting sequence of events surrounding the petro-dollar tie. First, the CIA is believed to have taken part in trying to execute a coup against Hugo Chavez, a DEMOCRATICALLY elected figure at the time (about as legitimate as one can be in S American). Chavez had threatened to begin trading oil in Euros (and is still trying to push the issue globally). Is it any wonder he gets more negative press in the US now than scounderals like those in Africa or other regions? The invasion of Iraq followed quickly after Sadam cut deals with the Russians and Chinese at the expense of the Europeans and US if sanctions were lifted. He also began trading oil in euros! Finally, what has Iran done this year? Set up an oil bourse that trades in....any guess.....euros. Our enemies know how most historical aged empires have been brought down and it has not been via force. It has been via guerilla tactics and waiting for the empire's financial house to rot from the core.

So in summary, I believe the venture in Iraq was doomed to fail from the beginning and that the Bushies never intended to nation build a democratic society - that is not their goal. Securing the oil reserves and the dollar's global reserve status are the primary goals. The neocon rhetoric is largely to maintain support from the Christian Right base who would not support the effort if it were about oil and the dollar. The Bushies (and probably the leaders of both parties) will be quite content with a new form of authoritarian power(s) in the country as long as the oil contacts go to US/British firms and the oil trades in dollars. Our troops will be there for a long time to make sure this happens.

Posted by: James at September 25, 2006 02:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"the best and the brightest" and "listen to regional experts"....aren't these the people that were strongly against the war from the begining?

Posted by: centrist at September 25, 2006 03:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thoughtful analysis, James. However, if correct, your analysis suggests that (no matter how dishonestly it was presented to the American public), it was the right thing for Bush to do if the only thing he was concerned about was America's self interest (not an unreasonable position for him). What do you think?

Posted by: Steve at September 25, 2006 03:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Do you really believe any of these things has a legitimate chance of happening under Bush?

I agree with "Minute."

I believe it is a mixture of both pre-ordained failure, and gross incompetence. At its heart, the Bush administration did not go into Iraq to transform the nation into a democracy. Their original plan was to place Chalabi in charge and go from there, but that plan went awry when all the government workers split and the country was looted to just the bare bones. As we all know, in any plan, if your plan is flawed, then your execution will be flawed also. In a place like Iraq, if you have major flaws in your plan, your failure is pre-ordained. Secondly, the Bush administration was grossly incompetent. Who's idea was it to disband the army? Who was the idiot who recommended that? If you're trying to maintain law and order, do you disband an entire army of professional soldiers? Hello!

There are too many examples of gross incompetence to name here. In short, it was a pre-ordained failure because their end-goal was....well, what exactly?

Now, on to today and the future.

If you want to fix Iraq, the first place to begin is in the removal from power the individuals who led us to this failure. They must be removed, especially because they advocate a "stay the course" plan. As we know, staying the course in Iraq is a failure of a plan. As 'minute' said, "Do you really believe any of these things has a legitimate chance of happening under Bush?"

They must be made an example of for future idiots who think they can play politics with national security. The War in Iraq in 2003 was 95% about the 2004 presidential elections, and only 5% about the supposed threat from Iraq. How to best win a re-election? Become the wartime president who "protects" America. This president must be removed from office for the war in Iraq to be won.

Give the Democrats a chance. They've been hammered by a hapless MSM and right-wing pundits as soft on terror. But that is all a straw man. Don't buy into the straw man.

Ask Americans today to actually make a sacrifice to pay for this war and to fix Iraq. Don't make future generations pay for our wars and our mistakes. This is the worst thing we can do for our children; saddling them with our debt. Americans are willing to sacrifice, and are very patriotic. Make them contribute, and not just be shoppers and consumers.

Stop insulting the world. It doesn't matter what others say about us. We must stop being childish towards them. How can we lead by example toward the good if we keep acting like 13 year old schoolyard bullies?

Be consistent in our message. If we truly are for democracy, then threaten Egypt with a loss of financial support, unless they allow free elections. We may not like the results, but they might actually start to respect us, because we show respect to them. You can tie all our current conflicts in Iran back to the 1950s when during Operation Ajax we overthrew a democratically elected government and put the monarchy in power. All so British Petroleum could still pump oil out of Iran. How shameful!

Don't break up Iraq. This will sorely test Turkey's patience, and they just might attack the newly formed Kurdistan region. After all, Kurdistan has a bunch of oil. And you think the Sunnis would be happy with a breakup? What are they going to get? Desert. Meanwhile, Kurds and Shi'ites get all the oil. No wonder car bombs keep going off in Baghdad! Keep Iraq one country. Flood Iraq with professional soldiers so there are no places to hide insurgents. Yes, this will increase the casualties, but if you want this solved, there is no better option. Breaking Iraq up will lead to unintended consequences, some of which we have been warned about. Moreover, if we reduce the number of soldiers, all that will happen is that the current government will be completely helpless to stop the bloodshed, and Sunnis and Shi'ites will kill each other until no one is left alive.

This is going to cost money. A hell of a lot of money. Don't put this on a credit card. Force backers of the war to pay up. This is the way I think it should be from now on. If you back a war, then it is your responsibility to pay for the war. I think you might find the world will see fewer wars. It is easy to start wars when you don't have to meet the taxman. But the taxman will come sooner or later to collect. Make it now.

Stop the bellicose sabre rattling. It isn't doing any good and making Iran and other nations feel even more strongly about getting nuclear weapons. After all, Pakistan has nukes and look at their relationship with the United States! India has nukes, and look, recently Bush gave up all of America's cards to the Indians! There is a strong bargaining power in owning nukes. You don't have to use them, but if you have them, Western powers will inevitably and inexorably respect you. Of course, Western powers don't want others to have nukes because that would mean they would have to take these newly armed nations seriously. But if we stop threatening nations around the world with destruction if they don't go along with us, they just might decide not to take the risk of going nuclear.

Imagine that. Talk of peace gets results.

Posted by: Dan at September 25, 2006 03:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Even with a competent team in charge from the start the failure was probably preordained and for it to have any chance of sucess the mission would take longer and expend more resources than the american public would tolerate.

Posted by: JackL at September 25, 2006 03:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

Good analysis, but you're missing the critical point. Things could get better in Iraq, but what has to happen first is a major withdrawal of American troops.

The collapse scenario is possible, but both many internal actors, and Iran, are not really interested in that, as you've pointed out.

What drives the rising possibility of the collapse vector is the rising tide of violence.

What drives the violence is:

The Shiite death squads - which arose as a response to, and continue to grow out of reaction to - the ongoing Sunni insurgency/terror campaign.
And:

And, the Sunni insurgency/terror campaign, which - as been clearly and repeatedly stated by the leaders themselves - will continue until US troops withdraw from their current active war against said insurgency.
And:

The US counter-insurgency/military campaign ITSELF - which continues with no clear and achieveable goals, but just chases nasty people around and around the hornet's nest.


It's not too late for the US to work on a regional plan to get the Sunni insurgency's regional backers, together with Iran backing the Shiites, to get together and accept some sort of democratic scenario. But it all hinges on the US withdrawal. US withdrawal is both the good-faith token that gets everyone else to the table, and -

*** it is also removing the humming engine that has driven the process to this point to begin with****.

If you disagree that the US counterinsurgency campaign drives the entire violent spiral, then by all means, disagree, but I hope to see you stop ignoring this argument.

Posted by: glasnost at September 25, 2006 04:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Was the possibility of a good outcome completely impossible?

Few things are.

A better question to ask is: was it likely?
Forget circumstances that didn't exist - many of the precursors that created the environment we hoped to shape were not determined by the specifics of Bush, his generals, and the 2002 elections.

Posted by: glasnost at September 25, 2006 04:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"a more talented team that understood counterinsurgency doctrine..."

Anyone remember the Millenium Challenge of '02.

Van Riper said the blame for rigging the exercise lay not with any one officer, but with the culture at Joint Forces Command. “It’s an institutional problem,” he said. “It’s embedded in the institution.”
So it seems like anyone who is going to make the proposition that things could have been done better "if only" have to get around - as Van Riper put it - the culture. We can all wish for fishes but playing fantasy football with Iraq seems like so much mental masturbation. It wasn't just Rumsfeld. It was everyone in charge. And this was abundantly clear as far back as August 2002. And all the fantasy footballers still have yet to come up with a believable explanation of where they're going to get the troops for their fantasy football game. Again, if wishes were fishes...

Still, if reports regarding Iran are correct, then even talk about "saving Iraq" is going to be so much mental masturbation as well. If Bush does the unthinkable, then you can kiss what little stability exists in the middle east goodbye...

Posted by: Azael at September 25, 2006 04:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I truely believe it could be made to work, even now, it absolutely requires a new Sec of D, but as the situation was allowed to roll downhill, with work & skill it can be made better. The pure frustration seemingly felt by the "ordinary" Iraqis over the violence is one key, as the Germans/Japanese after WWII, I believe they are now shell shocked to the point that a strong leader in the roll of Sec of D, with a genuine strategy could succeed.
I think it's a bit like two extreme's for the Iraqi people, you can succeed at the start with goodwill, which obviously is the smart approach ( way to late now ), or you can succeed when violence has become so pervasive that people just want an end to it ( where we are now ).
Added to the Iraqi public situation, I believe the "over" confidence has been knocked out of the US military, or more accurately those that believed the mantra of superior firepower is all that's required have been taught a harsh lesson in reality.
Lastly I tend to wonder how many times leaders need to be taught the lesson that micromanagement of a military in time of war is a failing strategy, surely Mr D Rumsfeld provides a text book example for future military historians.
P.S. Only a month ago I believed the situation was likely unrecoverable.

Posted by: Nigel at September 25, 2006 05:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you can talk to Iran and Syria AND make a reasonable peace with dignity for Palestine then it's possible to get down under this thing and start leveraging all the little assets we still have in the Middle East into a true Peace Strategy that is built around peace rather than winning.

It would be very costly and risky without any certainty of success, but it also might help us to regain the moral high ground.

It won't happen for the next few years, of course. And it would certainly hold a lot of risk for Israel, but we're going to be in Iraq for such a very long time it might make sense to lay an ambitious foundation for the future.

Posted by: Harris at September 25, 2006 05:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg never tires of writing long posts that revolve around what is best for Iraq. I appreciate his passion and sincerity, but it's about time he started thinking about what is best for the United States.

The commitment in Iraq needs to be liquidated. It is costing us money we do not have; it is absorbing the attention of our military and foreign policy establishments to an extent that makes it difficult for either to do anything else. Now, if after the commitment is liquidated Iraqis are able to form a stable government, they form a stable government; if their country breaks up, it breaks up; if they die, they die.

I am not indifferent to the future of Iraq, but it's several years past time that we put our priorities in proper order. Right now Iraq -- one mid-sized Arab country -- is at the top of the list, which is absurd. The Bush administration, preoccupied as always with not losing face for its chief, embraces the absurdity; its critics compound the absurdity, by going on endlessly about what the administration has done wrong and what it might do right in the next three, or five, or ten years as America continues to pour men and borrowed resources into the sand.

Posted by: Zathras at September 25, 2006 05:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Echoing JackL and minute. GD's what-if's and scenarios are all very reasonable and prudent and humane, but with this administration, posing them is about as useful as mentioning that if Hitler had built 5000 jet fighters, AND mounted laser beams on them, we'd all be speaking German. Reason and prudence and decency are plainly not valued by the Cheney government.

But the tactics and methods issues are a sideshow and a diversion. As JackL implies, the fundamentals doomed the entire Iraq project from the start. I despair of it ever happening, but we really need to learn, once and for all, that the 1933-49 world is gone, and holds few lessons that are really useful today. Iraq was never going to be postwar Germany (a Western European state with cultural affinities to its occupiers) of Japan (a disciplined and ethnically homogeneous state, in which the occupiers had the good sense to behave with forbearance and maintain critical political structures). Social engineering projects half a world away, in profoundly alien cultures, will not work.

Particularly when the costs are lowballed, and the expectations inflated. The most concise criticism of the Iraq folly yet is on the "Lawyers, Guns and Money" blog. They make the damning observation that if an idea is really good, you don't usually need to lie to persuade people about its merits.

In any case, it's really time to move on. Gotta tell ya, this "could a disaster have been avoided?" theme is getting old. It's a kind of circle jerk that appeals to fuckwits like Sullivan and Chait and Beinart, who need to find some way, any way, to exculpate themselves from sustained, public idiocy. More important, bad as Iraq is, it's critical to the mangy corpse of our republic that the Cheney administration is somehow blocked from applying their same "skill set" to Iran. That's what you want to talk about.

Posted by: sglover at September 25, 2006 05:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I was totally opposed to the war, for a variety of reasons (didn't like preemptive war, thought WMD inspections were proceeding apace, considered the threat Saddam posed to the U.S. to be nil).

However, I have concluded that if the occupation was done right there would have been a substantial chance of success. Basically, I think the administration did a remarkably bad job of it beginning with the disasterous failure to insure law and order in the initial weeks (with the Baghdad Museum looting a major symbolic event). More troops were needed from the beginning, and then you have the beyond-belief screw up of the reconstruction. There was no attempt to work with what structures were there. Learning that Bremmer presided over the attempt to implement conservative economic policies, with totally unsuited staff, makes you wonder what they were thinking. I'm pretty sure that in short order there was the feeling by Iraqis that whatever was happening, it wasn't in their interest.

I heard Thomas Ricks in an interview, and he said that every small-scale thug or community leader should have been given a gold plated Lexus as a sign that working with the Americans was the smart thing to to. Now, that's an oversimplification, but the administration seemed to be totally blind to fostering a sense of economic self-interest (by cooperating with the U.S.) within the country as a whole.

Then there's the politics. My guess is that a dictated constitution, implemented fast, with provisions for modifications later, might have worked. I'm thinking of something along the line of a power structure that would have had strong federalization, along with state ownership of the oil revenues and an equitable distribution of the wealth.

I guess what I'm saying is that there was too long a time of uncertainty and drift. The war, such as it was, was over pretty fast. People weren't displaced and lots of the infrastructure was intact. I was constantly amazed to read in the months following the capture of Baghdad that there were problems with gasoline for cars, limited electricity for the cities, and trouble with water and sewage systems.

It would have cost money, but what *did* we do there? It's like whatever was spent was pissed away.

I would like to clarify one point. I think that there would have been a chance if the steps outlined were taken, but even if they were taken, there would have been failure if characters like Ahmed Chalibi were allowed to be any part of the process. That guy was a pure manipulator, and, I think, a reason for the delay, confusion, and failure of the political aspect of the occupation.

Posted by: Quiddity at September 25, 2006 05:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory,

With all due respect, re-read your first paragraph (or, for that matter, your second). Then, consider my mother's (and probably her mother's) cliched and old-fashioned adage: "If wishes were horses, poor beggars would ride."

As the Donald truly observed, you fight a war with the army, the policies, the proclivities, the policy-makers, the leaders, the O'Biernes that you have...

At this point, I think where you say:
"If Iraq splinters into a confederation, Iran will have gained its lebensraum in the south, Baghdad might well become divided (if the Sunnis aren't ultimately run out of the entire city), an embittered Sunni para-state, riddled with insurgents and supported to various degrees by sympathetic constituencies in neighboring Sunni states (Syria, Jordan and Saudi) will emerge, and the relationship between Turkey and the Kurdish north will become increasingly fraught with tension. In short, Iran will have emerged all told the biggest victor, but the prospects of regionalization of the conflict will be persistent and real..."
is the BEST possible outcome. The more likely, at this point, is like Lebanon at the worst of its civil war, but nastier.

Posted by: dell at September 25, 2006 05:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don’t think it was doomed by nature, but I surely think it was doomed by design. The British where able to do it, and my thoughts then and now are best stated here by Niall Ferguson:

IDEAS: But you supported the invasion of Iraq.
FERGUSON: I argued that if it was to be done, it should be done well or not at all. But I didn't oppose it. With the benefit of hindsight, I regret that. It was a disaster to commit so few troops and to have no coherent plan for reconstruction. It was in defiance not only of British imperial history but of successful American occupations--for example of Germany, Japan, and Korea, where the United States stayed long enough to change institutions. But typically, American interventions last only a few years. In the case of the Middle East, the result will be turning Iraq into a Haiti on the Tigris.

But at this point its clear that Bush will ‘stay the course’ and ‘adapting to win’ is sad joke. (Can anyone really tell me WHY Rumsfield is still there). I don’t believe that ‘winning’ was ever in their idea of success, they are perfectly fine with the situation, and, yeah, I am betting it has something to do with oil. (Though I doubt the claim above concerning the Euro Oil Burse, if only because Iran has one now, went up in March, Chavez is looking to join, and Putin, hehe, wrote a paper on using energy supplies to act as leverage in international politics. If the Burse was the issue they should have seen this coming on their flank. That plus, the East Asian markets didn’t hold nearly as bills, al la monetary clout, in 2000 to scare the above premise)

That said pull out is the option we are dealt, and as I have posted before, that’s not all that bad an option. A fine mess on either side of Iran may be just the thing it needs to keep it preoccupied enough to slow down their nuclear development, and without the use of sanctions, which we can’t get through the Security Council with Russia, and especially China, blocking the vote. I mean, we NOW know that economic sanctions and methodical monitoring of the country stopped Saddam from getting WMD, it could work again, and this time we skip the 5 year incursive war for doubling checking purposes, OK? Taking page from JKG, placing a US base in the Kurdish areas to appease Turkey, and add an elbow to the region, seems to be the most practical proposal anyone has come-up with to ending this, everybody say it with me now…. Quagmire!

Posted by: RSB at September 25, 2006 07:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Iraq is a type of intelligence test. No one clever enough to carry out "Iraq: Extreme Makeover", would be foolish enough to try.

Posted by: Bill D at September 25, 2006 08:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Or as my Scottish friend likes to say, if my Uncle had tits he'd be my Auntie.

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at September 25, 2006 02:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


If you had a horse with wings, could you ride it to the Moon?

Posted by: David Tomlin at September 25, 2006 02:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hello Steve,

First, I think it is interesting that none of the other posters even address my post - it speaks to the total lack of understanding of the true drivers of our foreign policy. Everyone is bogged down in troop levels and competence while missing the forest for the trees. Lets stipulate that gov't is almost always imcompetent - even in WWII the war was run very incompetently at times.

As for whether this is all in our self interest, I would disagree. If it is in the nation's best interest to continue to form a credit bubble and tell the US public that the best thing they can do post-9/11 is to shop til you drop, then this strategy is ok. I would have preferred a gov't who capitalized on the nation's goodwill to encourage saving and sacrifice. It would have made the recession of 2001 worse, but the entire idea that recessions are bad or unhealthy is assinine - they are the natural cleansing process that lay the foundation for healthy future growth.

If our country had gotten serious about addressing our financial imbalances (the real driving force behind our currency/economic risk) then we would not need to grab our ankles for Sheiks. I don't see how Iraq has done anything to solve our long term problems - neither financial or security. They have likley delayed the onset of the financial problems but surely not addressed/difused them.

If one studies their history, they will see that this whole mess began with Nixon closing the gold window in the early 70's when the French called us out on our inflationary money printing to fund Vietnam. Nixon cut a deal with the Saudi's and really OPEC to only price oil in dollars to try and maintain some support for the dollar. Any long term macro chart shows what has happened to the dollar, debt to GDP and real standards of living since then - all negative. Our reckless monetary/fiscal regime is just as dangerous as our reckless foreign policy regime - and probably more so over the long term.

Posted by: James at September 25, 2006 03:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

(W)as the failure in Iraq preordained because the mission was hopeless, or was it becaused the administration bungled the execution?

The sheer magnitude of the bungling makes it difficult to construct a meaningful counterfactual scenario.

But I think if you put together a Bayesian Decision tree at the outset, accurately assessing the probabilities of things going right at each juncture point, you would find that the nodes that have what would regarded as positive results would have probabilties in the low single digits.

Way too much had to go right for this operation to be successful, even in the hands of competent, committed managers.

An alternative viewpoint is one that I've heard from Mark Danner. He was against the war from the outset, he says, because he does not believe that the US has the political will to commit the resources necessary to remake a state like Iraq. The complete absence of any political infrastructure beyond the secret police and the army made any kind of nation-building effort necessarily a task that would take at least a decade, and would have required a fairly brutally oppressive military regime in the first year or two. He pointed out that you really have to convince potential opponents that you mean business, and opposition will not be tolerated. Then you go through the standard nation-building process, of establishing local authorities, then regional authorities, provincial authorities and, eventually, a national government. Danner's view is that Americans simply do not have the patience for this kind of thing. There's also a cognitive dissonace thing about America the imperialist.

My take on this is that if the war had been sold honestly, it would have gone down to political defeat. If the threat had been honestly assessed and the rebuilding effort fairly estimated, there would have been no war. Hell, if the inspectors had just been allowed to complete the inspection process, there would have been no war.

Posted by: jayackroyd at September 25, 2006 03:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think the job was doomed to failure from the start. What's more, if we were to implement a sensible policy right now I think the situation could still be turned around. But minute's right -- none of this will happen under the Cheney -- sorry, Bush -- administration.

Or, to put it another way, you go to war with the administration you've got.

Given that, withdrawal, whether immediate or phased, is the only position left to take.

Posted by: AndrewBW at September 25, 2006 04:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

(Can anyone really tell me WHY Rumsfield is still there).

Because they don't want to have confirmation hearings on a new appointee.

Posted by: jayackroyd at September 25, 2006 04:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg

At some point you will have to let go of these attempts at rationalising defeat/failure, and accept that the Bush administration's decision to "do Iraq" was political, personal and ideological in nature rather than grounded in any kind of rational, considered or expert analysis of realities as they existed. The extreme degree of incompetence, dishonesty, venality and blindness that characterised the endeavour were necessary, structural conditions for the project to proceed. Those who sought to bring a "grounded" approach to the process, such as Shinseki, were savagely dealt with, as the whole idea could not bear very much reality to start with.

Given that those of us who are "outside" the inner, "occult", counsels of the Bush administration are still unable to understand the motives of the Bush administration, beyond access to oil reserves ( not a sufficient condition for explaining the decision in my view ), it is difficult to dismiss the idea that this was in fact a "vanity" war, with each of the key administration actors contributing a necessary piece of narcissism to the political process that took the US to Baghdad, where the US military has dug itself in to the sand to such an extent that leaving may be physically impossible without some degree of military collapse involved; there are still a lot of potential actors on the sidelines, well-positioned, well-armed, well-rested, well-fed and well-ready to administer the coup-de-grace should the opportunity or pretext emerge.

Failure was pre-ordained as the Bush administration invaded an "imaginary" country populated by "imaginary" people whose "imaginary" lives could be restructured to produce an "imaginary" outcome. I suspect that your search for a moderate Shia politics is symptomatic of this as, inevitably, it's based on your trying to define something that is acceptable to your sensibilities rather than a process of engagement with the range of Shia politics that actually exists, and that is going to practise some form of islamist politics that will involve a close alliance with Teheran.

Regarding your subsidiary question, there is no chance of the current administration escaping its mental straitjacket - they cannot admit failure and will not accept that they made serious mistakes; domestic political calculation make a change of course impossible as it will effectively validate Democrat arguments. Any sensible observer would conclude that there is no compelling rationale for the administration to continue its unwillingness to avoid unconditional negotiations with Iran - the objective sins of the Iranians regarding their small-scale enrichment programme are too minimal to account for the Bush administration's obstinacy in this regard, particularly as the immediate potential benefits to the US with regards to Iraq would constitute a net gain in the balance of interests column. Unfortunately, for those of us who pay attention to these things, the internal Iranian debate on the "deconstruction of mythologies" regarding the US and relations with the US is actually far more advanced than any parallel process in the US. I find it extraordinary that you can even contemplate the exercise of "deft diplomacy with Iran" being practised by this administration - they're constitutionally and intellectually incapable of it.

Putting more troops on the ground is a great idea; unfortunately, the US military is getting tapped-out in this respect, and it's unclear how much longer the US can maintain a deployment of 140-150,000 troops before a wheel falls off somewhere. The key question is whether the world can wait for the Bush administration to leave office, as there is little prospect of any substantive change in tack or, sadly, any improvement in the situation in Iraq.

Posted by: dan at September 25, 2006 04:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What's more, if we were to implement a sensible policy right now I think the situation could still be turned around.

You know, one hears this pretty often. What do you mean? What do you see as a realistic and attainable resolution, if pursued competently? Gregory's post above doesn't posit any resolution, only proposes a process.

The most positive resolution I can imagine at this point is a withdrawal of the US to Kurdistan, mediating the Turkish/Kurd issues. Let the Iranians have the south, and try to get some kind of UN-sponsored Beirut arrangement in Baghdad. There would be continued ethnic cleansing and forced migration, but the end result would be something like Europe, with Poles in Poland, Czechs in the Czech Republic, Germans in Germany. While this is a pretty horrific scenario, I don't see how permanent occupation by the US, which is the current plan, does anything to prevent that ultimate resolution. All continued US occupation does is recruit jihadists, while not addressing any of the real issues that face Iraq.

Posted by: jayackroyd at September 25, 2006 04:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Can anyone really tell me WHY Rumsfield is still there

I think the most logical explanation is that Bush likes Rumsfeld and approves of Rumsfeld's decisions. This notion that emerges on some of the right leaning sites that I admire, such as BD, that somehow Rumsfeld and Bush represent two distinct policy centers is odd to me. In addition, the notion that Bush would be able to achieve significant progress in Iraq and elsewhere, if he only discarded that old albatross, Don Rumsfeld.

On the contrary, Bush is Rumsfeld and Rumsfeld is Bush. They are more alike than different, and the POTUS is deferential in the extreme because he respects Rumsfed, admires him and considers him an expert in the way the world works - ditto Dick Cheney. Rumsfeld will, in a short time, become the longest serving Secretary of Defense in the nation's history. That's a hell of a long way to go to avoid some confirmation hearings.

Not to be harsh here Greg, but you voted for Bush - more than once. In so doing, you knowingly voted for Cheney and Rumsfeld. To expect one without the two others was naive in the extreme. To wonder aloud about positive changes of course in Iraq while Bush and Cheney remain in charge is also approaching futile (even though it is a hollow game I play myself on occasion).

Unlike Vietnam then, where the domino theory proved a chimerical fear, an American departure from an Iraq still unsettled and cascading into potentially greater chaos could serve to further radicalize the region, not only threatening our allies, but creating more terrorists and space for religious radicalism generally (yes, even more than to date).

Which would seem to suggest that invading Iraq - which at the time was none of those things - was a colossal strategic blunder. Even if in a perfect world that does not exist, there was some magic formula whereby all the "best and brightest" could have pulled off the near impossible (excluding those intelligent enough to foresee the parade of horribles listed above and therefore counsel against invasion), the risk and high probability of unleashing such radicalization and instability was more than enough reason to refrain from the attempt.

This isn't a game of dice, whereby you take a chance for the rush and thrill of it all.

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 25, 2006 04:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Answering the question in the terms that Greg put it, I have to say that I think that the answer is "No". There is no possible way that this administration can possibly succeed at the mission that they set themselves back at the start. They're neither competent enough or committed enough to unpick the mess that they've already made. It's also clear to me that the "fish rots from the head down", and that to even make a start on getting things right you would have to impeach Bush and Cheney, sack the administration staff, bowler-hat a lot of generals and intelligence officials, and come to some kind of rapprochement with Iran.

And that would be only the start of things. Since we're not even going to get that far, the only sensible option remaining is to raze our fortifications and leave ; and that's not going to happen while Bush and Cheney are in control either.

I concur with James' bleak view of the way in which the US economy has been developing. There's a messy reckoning coming for all of this maladministration, and I wonder sometimes whether the United States will survive as presently constituted.

Posted by: Alexei_McDonald at September 25, 2006 04:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

jayackroyd --

What do I see as a really viable outcome if a "sensible" policy were implemented?

Well, if I had a magic wand and could do anything I wanted to do, I'd get every soldier I possibly could into Iraq. I understand the condition of the military and reserves right now, and know just how difficult that is. If I had to pull troops out of Germany and Japan – which we should do anyway – I would. I might even up the enlistment age to 45, from the 42 it was just raised to. I'd be pushing as hard as I could to get new equipment in and fix equipment that was in disrepair. I'd go to the international community and admit that we fucked up – I'd try to put it in more diplomatic terms so that we could save at least a little bit of face, but that's the essence of it – and say whatever you thought about the decision to go in before, we're in there now and a disintegrating Iraq is in no ones' interest. I'd kick the private contractors and all the others who've bungled the reconstruction and start working directly with Iraqis and Middle Eastern agencies to get reconstruction going again. Oh, and I'd say flat out that the U.S. will not use torture, and that we do not intend to build permanent bases in Iraq. I'd cut funds for the massive U.S. encampment being built there right now.

The goal of this in the short term, obviously, would be to try and staunch the civil war and give the Iraqi people some reason to recommit to rebuilding their country and abandoning the paramilitaries. In the longer run I'm not sure what the outcome would be, whether a federated Iraq of some sort or a unified Iraq. But I'd hope that by getting everybody working on the same page again, we might still be able to turn the situation around and arrive at a peaceful solution that gives the Iraqi people a reason to go on living in their country.

And yes, I know what others will say to all of this – if wishes were ponies, beggars would ride. My point is only that I think there are probably several viable outcomes in Iraq. Alas they all depend on someone other than Dick Cheney -- sorry, George Bush -- being president.

Given that, I agree with your wrap-up completely: "I don't see how permanent occupation by the US, which is the current plan, does anything to prevent that ultimate resolution. All continued US occupation does is recruit jihadists, while not addressing any of the real issues that face Iraq."

Posted by: AndrewBW at September 25, 2006 05:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If "success" must happen in less than 5 years, "failure" is pre-ordained.

More troops, now or before, means more targets, more deaths. (More troops who don't speak Arabic -- big mistake since Bush I was failure to have better language courses in Arabic).

Greg, your focus on Rumsfeld, or "those at the top" who must be replaced, is counter-productive. They won't even hear you.

And it's not clear they should really listen.

America can 'win', and Iraq become democratic, as long as we are willing to stay 10, 20, 30 years. The Cold War from 46-89 was 43 years -- and we were "occupying" Germany the whole time.

Actually, only Iraq can 'win' -- and it requires the Iraqis to stop killing other Iraqis, and to turn in those Iraqis (or foreign "friend") who DO murder other Iraqis. This is happening, slowly.

More troops early might have helped -- but certainly would have had more targets, more abuse incidents (Abu Ghraib like), and more casualties.

On corruption, that evil of all democracies (both the US, and EU; and UN, and recently Thailand), corruption could have been reduced by an internet database of reconstruction aid/ gov't expenditures. Like the Porkbusters project for the US.

All US aid should be going thru such transparency/ anti-corruption checks. Dems and Bush opponents should be pushing non-corrupt aid more than pushing that Rumsfeld resign or that Bush apologizes.

Bush I's failure to support the Shia in 1991 is far worse and more shameful than anything W has done.

His more than 2500 but less than 5000 US deaths means he's gone down from A to B -- I still see no metrics here or elsewhere among the Bush-bashers.

And if Iraq stable democracy takes 20 years, instead of some hypothetical optimum 10, that shows half-competence, not gross incompetence.

Bush Derangement Syndrome means exaggerated criticism is barely worth listening to.

Greg, please consider making arguments like: had there been 300 000 troops, only 1,500 would have died by now -- if you believe such is the case (I don't believe this argument; I think more than twice as many would have died with twice the troops in the time-frame).

The other issue is the economic & political sustainability of more troops. Politically, the 500 000 sent to Vietnam after Tonkin in 1964 became unsustainable after the 72 landslide win of pro-victory Nixon.
8 years is probably too short a time for democratic nation-building.

And the Dems won't allow a General (like Pinochet, or Rhee in S. Korea) like Chalabi maybe wanted to be.

Where has Arab democracy building been done better? If you can't show an example, yet Vietnam provides an example of the failure of "more troops", I claim your argument remains hypothetical.

Like Marxists claiming "true communism" hasn't really been tried.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 25, 2006 05:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

America can 'win', and Iraq become democratic, as long as we are willing to stay 10, 20, 30 years. The Cold War from 46-89 was 43 years -- and we were "occupying" Germany the whole time.

This is not the first time I have seen our current predicament in Iraq likened to our continued troop presence in Germany and/or Japan - but I am puzzled by the analogy each time.

The problems stemming from our occupation of Iraq are nothing like the problems we faced in connection with our continued troop presence in Germany and Japan (I think your use of the word "occupying" in relation to Germany is inaccurate - even in quotations). Neither in severity or scope.

For example: on average, between 2-3 soldiers die each day in Iraq. That has been going on for over 3 and a half years. What were the figures like in post-war Germany and Japan? How about non-fatal casualty rates?

The exigencies of our military commitment in Iraq, and the strains on our armed forces, have led us to raise the maximum enlistment age for the Army, reduce the number of recruits kicked out of boot camp, lower aptitude score requirements for new recruits, tolerate more red flags in the profiles of new recruits like prior crimes/drug use/behavioral problems, etc. Was that also the case as a result of our troop presence in Germany and Japan?

We are burning billions of dollars a month in Iraq. How about Germany and Japan? Our occupation of Iraq is fueling violent and extremist radicalization in the region and elsewhere, hindering our ability to act along diplomatic lines in numerous other arenas, empowering Iran and restricting our ability to respond or threaten their regime (as necessary) and a host of other related problems that just were not connected to our presence in Germany and Japan.

Bottom line: it's not the length of time that is problematic, it's the nature of the occupation over that time period. Our current commitment is not really sustainable - at least at acceptable levels of cost.

Actually, only Iraq can 'win' -- and it requires the Iraqis to stop killing other Iraqis, and to turn in those Iraqis (or foreign "friend") who DO murder other Iraqis. This is happening, slowly.

This is happening slowly? Really? Every data point I've come across recently indicates that sectarian/ethnic violence is getting worse.

And if Iraq stable democracy takes 20 years, instead of some hypothetical optimum 10, that shows half-competence, not gross incompetence.

How many trillions of dollars and American and Iraqi lives will have been lost in order to bring about a stable Iraqi democracy in 20 or 30 years?

And what will that have yielded us in 20 or 30 years? What would the payoff be, vs. the staggering costs.

Can you imagine the numbers. Yet, this should be called half-competence, not gross incompetence? That is a very forgiving standard.

You mentioned the Cold War, but oddly enough, we did not bring about democratic change by invasion during the Cold War. Yet, after 43 years, democratic change occurred anyway. Though there has been some backslide, places like Eastern Europe, Turkey, the former USSR, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere have made democratic gains absent invasion and occupation. The vast majority of democratic revolutions/revivals in the history of the world have occurred absent invasion and occupation.

It's possible that in 30 years Iraq might have undergone some type of internal process itself even without an invasion.

But now, any positive result decades down the road will be attributed - fairly or unfairly - to the invasion itself?

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 25, 2006 06:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

AndrewBW wrote:

Well, if I had a magic wand and could do anything I wanted to do, I'd get every soldier I possibly could into Iraq. I understand the condition of the military and reserves right now, and know just how difficult that is. If I had to pull troops out of Germany and Japan – which we should do anyway – I would.

Andrew,

AFAIK US units stationed in Germany are deployed to Iraq just like units normally stationed in the USA. For example brigades of the 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Divison were already deployed to Iraq I believe. So you wouldn´t get more troops in Iraq by pulling out of Germany.
Don´t know about Japan tough...

Posted by: Detlef at September 25, 2006 06:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, it was possible to succeed in some remote fashion. No, the incompetence of the administration was evident from the get-go and they could never have succeeded.

I was opposed to the war on pragmatic grounds: I saw no competence, foresaw worse outcomes than the status quo, and therefore advocated another tack. We didn't get that.

I continue, however, to believe that even now the war is "winnable" in some sense, but requires a commitment that we will not make, and therefore we must face our limitations. It is not a statement about bad people, or the lack of will, or any of those normative issues. We do not have the political commitment to right the wrongs we have engendered.

Posted by: ralph at September 25, 2006 06:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Was Failure Pre-Ordained

yes, because regardless of how competent the "coalition occupation forces" would have been, the key to a stable Iraq lay in the participation and co-operation of the international community --- especially Iraq's neigbors. And given that the international community was overwhelmingly opposed to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, such participation would not have been forthcoming.

Even under those idea circumstances, however, there was not guarantee of success given the competing priorities of Syria and its Sunni allies, Iran and its Shiite allies, and the tensions between the Kurds and Turkey. Instead of the "chaotic" civil war that is now going on in Iraq, what we would probably be seeing develop is a more "organized" civil war.

Do any of them believe, if we actually now intelligently pursued a regional strategy....

No, absent the impeachment of Bush and Cheney and their replacement by a progressive Democrat who has been consistently critical of this war from jump street. The international community has already made up its mind about this administration -- and realizes that "progress" in Iraq will only encourage Bush to pursue further (even more destructive) military adventures. So the rest of the world is perfectly happy to see US military power hamstrung in Iraq, and isn't going to do more than give lip service to any US initiative, no matter how "enlightened" it might seem, until they see evidence that the American political system is no longer behaving like it belongs in Bellview.

(And even in the best of circumstances, the situation in Iraq is probably at the point where any further US effort will be fruitless, if not counter-productive.)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at September 25, 2006 07:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is a great discussion, but nobody has identified what I think is the real reason our Iraq adventure has turned out so poorly (and a lot of GWB's other initiatives) and that is the fatal flaw in the Neocon view of human nature.

The Neocons appear to believe that power equals control in a linear, one-to-one ratio, but it isn't true in human affairs. I don't care how much power you give parents and school officials, for example, it won't allow you to control your children; in fact, the more you try to control them, the more the children rebel. Authoritarian elements of "no child left behind" have actually led to a decline in student learning. The more you try to control curriculum, the more students reject it. Teachers have known for a hundred years, you can't force a student to learn.

It doesn't work with criminals, either. Ratcheting up the level of police control of a populace and executing increasing numbers doesn't reduce crime, it just creates more vicious criminals, people whose defiance is their primary trait--think of Sam Hall, standing on the gallows, crying, "I hate you one and all, damn your eyes."

In the Iraq conflict, the U. S. thought our being the only super power meant the world had to jump when we said frog, but the more we've attempted to use our power to control other nations, the more the rest of the world has come together to create a countervailing alternative to our power.

For the fifty years before 1994, the Republican Party, in the minority, had the luxury of criticizing the majority's judicious use of power without having their ideas put to the test. Their critique was that the Democrats weren't willing to unleash our power because they were weak and in thrall to political correctness. If we'd just throw some nukes around and use our power unapologetically, the world would quickly come under our control.

Unfortunately, seeing this aggressive stance come apart in Iraq hasn't convinced them that they were wrong; now they seem to want another prove they're wrong by attacking Iran from the air. (We don't have any troops to put on the ground.) If they are allowed to do this, I think they will complete the process of creating a bloc out of the rest of the world--a bloc that will effectively isolate the U. S. from the global economy and marginalize our people.

This makes the resolution of these issues so important at this particular moment in time. If we repudiate preemption, unlimited power for the c in c, extra territoriality, rendition, and torture; if we fire Bolton and Rumsfelt, and restore the State Department's power; and if we seek anew to build up the United Nations and the concept of an international order governed by law, it's not too late to profit from the lessons of the Bush presidency.

Posted by: frank H. Logan at September 25, 2006 07:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

First, I think it is interesting that none of the other posters even address my post

its really not so interesting james. As informative as your speculation was, it was decidedly off-topic (we aren't discussing the issue of WHY we went to war, rather whether the war could be successfully prosecuted regardless of its rationale, and whether the current situation can be salvaged.)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at September 25, 2006 07:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's queer to see talk about how to turn the situation around. You've already lost. You lost. The Maliki government is just another faction in the civil war, like the Americans. There is no one to salvage the situation now, now that al-Sistani has ceased to make political statements because they get ignored. Al-Sadr is more influential than al-Sistani, that should tell you everything.

Get out, and lick your wounds.

As for the Petro-Euro conspiracy, it doesn't wash.

Posted by: Klaus at September 25, 2006 07:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

At best, this Iraq venture would have been one of the most ambitious activities launched by any state in history.

With all the changes you suggest, the probability of success increases: from little to slightly more than little.

Posted by: Chris at September 25, 2006 07:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For myself, I'm (now) a firm believer in the "Pre-Ordained Failure" camp re Iraq. Of course, in any study of any war, there is always a "what-if" factor in play: countless armchair generals and war-gamers still spend countless hours hashing over the possibles and variations of this or that battle/campaign/war: Would better tactics have let the French annililate Henry V at Agincourt? Or, conversely, let them avoid encirclement at Sedan? Did Robert E. Lee have to lose at Gettysburg? Was Hitler's planning for Barbarossa really that flawed? Dealing with the present situation in Iraq on the basis of "what if", "should have", "told you so" and "what did you expect?" (as most blog-commenters tend to do) is really an idle excercise - and the range of possibilities for a changed, different outcome so many and so variable (and as much political as military) that a discussion of "what went wrong" - whatever the source of the wrong turn - isn't particularly helpful.
But my 2 cents on the "pre-ordained" bit: I think it was due to a basic dishonesty on the part of the Bush Adminstration: not so much the hype about Saddam/9-11, or the putative Iraqi "nuclear program" - although that type of mendacity is bad enough - but in their fundamental bad faith with the American public: treating the entire war, and all its issues as a primarily political excercise. Knowing that the country would not have supported a long, bloody, slog of an occupation/counterinsurgency as much as they would a quick, easy Afghanistan-like "cakewalk", the Bush regime consistently and continually hedged its bets on the progress and outcome of the Iraq occupation: issuing on the one hand dire warnings about the "long, hard fight", and on the other hand spouting feel-good pablum about the "progress" of the war ("look: purple fingers! painted schools!"). And, of course, relying on its large contingent of political/media/blogosphere supporters to do their part: mainly by vilifying any and all critics of Adminstration policies.
However, the big flaw in all this was that "victory" in Iraq was never adequately defined: only by facile delusions of the replacement of the Ba'thist regime by some free-market Utopia early on - and by a constant shifting-of-goalposts and restatements of aims later. And where "success" isn't clearly stated and defined, "failure" will rush in to fill the gap. Lesson Learned: Wars should be planned and exceuted as wars, not political campaign events.

Posted by: Jay C at September 25, 2006 08:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

First, Rove is planning on an "October Surprise" which equals Rumsfeld getting the can right before elections. He will jump on the proverbial grenade for the republicans up for reelection.

Second, occupation by a western "christian" power of a muslim country never works.

How to win? By losing. Allow a strong Iraqi leader to "push" the US out of Iraq in order to have popular support from all parties. Let this strong man crush any other folks that want to cause problems or occupy the country. This would mean not challenging the idea that we lost in Iraq and walking away, at least temporarily, from all the Jeffersonian democracy talk.

Never going to happen but that would save Iraq.

Posted by: tregen at September 25, 2006 09:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Klaus

Great link with excellent information - however it only addresses the Iranian bourse and not the greater issue. Of course a single country trading oil in euros will not have a great impact on the market. However, every trend begins with a singular catalysts. What if Venezeual, Iraq AND Iran had moved to only accepting euros for their oil and given most of the contracts to nations like Russia and China who are choking on dollar reserves? That would create a euro block in the petro market - a very substantial one that could bring about huge pressure on the US dollar.

Iran's move by itself, just as those by Venezuela and Iraq, are irrelevent in isolation. However, the US's stern reaction to the threats likely do reduce the risks of the dollar losing its role in the short term. Your links do nothing to discredit the issue of the role that the US dollar and oil played in the decision to invade Iraq.

Posted by: James at September 25, 2006 09:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What failure?

Did not the Republicans win the 2002 midterm elections?

Did not George Bush win re-election in 2004?

Are not Republican electoral fortunes for 2006 rebounding on the claim that only the Bush Administration can save us in the War on Terra?

Have not petrified Americans acquiesced in our own Reichstag Fire Decree?

Has not the Bush Administration acquired for itself powers beyond those of the FDR and Lincoln Administrations, beset as they were?

Who cares about the sideshow in Iraq? Look at the bloviations of Liberty Dad spewing total nonsense about nation-building that he learned from the telescreen: the victory has always been here at home.

Posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus at September 25, 2006 10:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Old saying: "Never atribute to conspiracy what can be explained by incompetency".

Posted by: David All at September 25, 2006 11:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

@James

What if Venezeual, Iraq AND Iran had moved to only accepting euros for their oil and given most of the contracts to nations like Russia and China who are choking on dollar reserves?

Answers your own question, really, since Russia and China would have no interest in weakening the dollar, holding so many as they do.

Posted by: Klaus at September 26, 2006 12:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg:

I need help from your readers to complete this song:

"I believe lawmakers should make laws
and the executive branch should enforce them."

(refrain)

"I guess I must be a terrorist.
I guess I must be a terrorist.
I guess."

"I do not believe in pre-emptive war
against people who have never attacked us."

(refrain)

"I guess I must be a terrorist.
I guess I must be a terrorist.
I guess."

"I don't believe we should overturn the
Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the
Geneva Conventions."

(refrain)

"I guess I must be a terrorist.
I guess I must be a terrorist.
I guess."


Additional stanzas welcomed.


Posted by: Larry Thelen at September 26, 2006 01:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The fact that Iraq is a mess does not mean it is a failure.

Consider where we would be if Saddam was still in power (in no particular order):

1. Palestinian terrorists would still be rewarded for killing Jews.

2. The sanctions regime would have collapsed.

3. Weapons inspectors would still be excluded from Iraq.

4. The US would still be tied down policing the no-fly-zones.

5. Saddam would still be supporting terrorists - never forget that he sheltered some of the worst, including the WTC bombing ringleader.

6. Iraqis would be dying in far greater numbers than today.

7. Kurdistan would be living under imminent threat.

8. The marshes would still be waterless.

9. Saddams weapons program would have been restarted, possibly with aid from AQ Khan's network.

10. Libya's nuclear weapons program would be closer to producing a nuclear weapon.

11. The resources that Islamic fascists have had to pour into Iraq would have been diverted to targets closer to home.

News report: BRITISH troops in Iraq said they had killed one of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s top global lieutenants, who escaped from a US prison in Afghanistan last year.

Omar Faruq was shot dead while resisting arrest during a pre-dawn raid by about 200 British troops in Iraq’s second biggest city, Basra, British military spokesman Major Charlie Burbridge said.

US leaders have described Faruq as the top al-Qaeda operative in South-East Asia.He was caught in Indonesia in 2002 and held at a high-security detention centre at Bagram airbase, north of the Afghan capital Kabul, until his escape last year.

Why was Faruq in Iraq? It's no longer a safe haven for terrorists, as Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi discovered.

12. Saddam's continued flouting of UNSC resolutions would leave the UN even more impotent than it is now.

13. The US would not have Iran bordered by US allies to the East and West.

14. As Richard Clarke noted, Osama may well have "boogied to Baghdad" after theTaliban was removed from power.

15. The 500 tons of yellowcake that Saddam had stockpiled would be in the process of being converted into nuclear weapons material.

16. Lots of terrorists have been killed.

17. An odious regime has been deposed.

18. Saddam's loathsome sons are dead.

On the negative side:

1. The US has lost over 2000 good men and women.

2. The US has spent a lot of money on the war.

3. The war has made the US unpopular with Muslims outside of Iraq and Afghanistan.

4. The war has split the US domestically when it needs to be united.

5. The war has made the US unpopular in Europe.

6. Parts of Iraq are still beset by sectarian violence.

7. The left wing of the Democratic party has taken over the party and condemned it to the political wilderness.

Two more things to ponder:

Does anyone think Saddam would stand idle while Iran built nuclear weapons?

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States attacked the Vichy French in North Africa in its first offensive action of WW2. Heck, the French had lost their colonies in the Far East to the Japs. Why hit them? Simple answer: because the US could and because it weakened the Axis.

If you accept that the West is once again fighting the expansionist forces of Islam in a war that has waxed and waned over the centuries, then driving a stake into the heart of the Middle East makes strategic sense. If you think that Muslim terrorism is a minor annoyance and the terrorists are little more than common criminals, then Iraq looks like a mistake.

Bush's power grab? All he has tried to do is to have the powers that were user against the Mafia applied to terrorists. If somebody in the US is calling someone in Pakistan on a terrorist watch-list then I hope the government is monitoring the call. Torture? We should be nice to the people who planned 9/11? We should be nice to the people who hacked off Danny Pearl's head and made a recruiting video out of it?


Posted by: pat at September 26, 2006 03:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I was there, and I think it could have been done right, or at least a lot better.

The dilemma the Bush administration faced was that committing the troops and money to do it right might have raised opposition to the war.

I remember Natsios, the head of USAID, saying in March 2003 that $2 billion was going to be total aid commitment. How much better if $20 billion were obligated then and been ready to spend once Baghdad fell.

It slipped away from us from August 2003 to April 2004, because of the following failures:

1. The initial looting and disorder. This all had to be rebuilt at great expense and delayed the reconstitution of Iraqi government services and operations.

2. Failure to secure the large ammunition supply depots around Iraq. They were freely looted by the insurgents, which make their IEDs from the artillery shells and bombs taken, and still are shooting mortars and rockets into our compounds.

3. Failure to talk to the Iraq people. It is astounding that Americans, the great communicators, the masters of media, could not rapidly build an effective public communications apparatus. The Iraqi Media Network was slow to start and was amateurish at the beginning. Radio Sawa was pretty good, but still did not start until several months into the occupation. There was no explanation of what the plan was (maybe because noone knew) to the Iraqi people.

4. Failure to provide evidence of immediate material rebuilding, jobs and the improvement of infrastructure. Instead, we spent months rebuilding ministry building which were gutted during the looting

5. Failure to deal with al-Sadr. He was indicted for the murder of Ayatollah al-Khoei in September 2003, and there were several operations to arrest him which were cancelled at the last minute (according to Bremer, by Washington). Neutralizing him before he was able to rouse the rabble would have saved many lives and a lot of rebuilding (and Casey Sheehan's life, maybe).

6. Bureaucracy and failure to make decisions. The US has built a culture in which many of our meritocratically grown functionaries have got their positions by playing it safe and doing nothing, taking no action and making no decisions. Action on crucial problems was stymied by this on many occasions.

7. Failure to find and trust Iraqi partners with the money. They were there, and if we had given them the money we spent on bloated contracts, lots more would have gotten done.

Posted by: Green Zone Cafe at September 26, 2006 03:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Klaus

Well now I am reassured because you presume to know what is in the best interests of the Russians and Chinese! Currency markets are a fickle bunch - confidence is crucial. There is likely to be a future currency block in Asia and Chinese domestic consumption as well as trade with Europe and other Asian countries are exploding. As large as their dollar holdings are, the growth rate is declining rapidly as they diversify away from the dollar. At what point does the marginal benefit of a weaker US outweigh the paper losses for the Chinese - who have massive reserves that could likely withstand such a "loss". To surrender one's monetary sovereign state to an emerging geo-political power, all in the name of excess consumption, is hardly my idea of national security.

Posted by: James at September 26, 2006 03:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pat,

2. The US has spent a lot of money on the war.

While I obviously don't agree with much of what you said, I just wanted to correct one thing regarding your list. Number 2. You say the US has spent a lot of money on the war. That is not true. The US has put a lot of money on a credit card for our future generations to actually pay for our war.

I think if you put the payment of this war in its real context, you'll see just what a negative this is. Bush said: "Our hope, of course, is that they [Americans] make no sacrifice whatsoever." Our children will make the sacrifice for us.

Yeah, this negative should outweigh any and all other possible positives. What are we doing not paying for our own wars?

Posted by: Dan at September 26, 2006 03:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CLinton ruined it by not catching bin landen.

Posted by: UNOHU at September 26, 2006 05:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

> Palestinian terrorists would still be rewarded for killing Jews.

Although that is just as true as it ever was, now, almost everyone is rewarded for killing Americans, military or civilian, in Iraq.

> Weapons inspectors would still be excluded from Iraq.

Bush only forbade them to finish because he didn't like what they were
finding (no "nuculur" weapons, or anything else). If Bush weren't so busy
trying to deceive, he could have let them finish...

> The US would still be tied down policing the no-fly-zones.

Hahah, that's funny. Iraq is a success because the US is now
no longer tied down militarily. That's a good one.

> Saddam would still be supporting terrorists

The ignorant uneducated people who believe Bush still believe that
Saddam supported Salafi lunatics. That is neither more nor less
farcical a notion than it ever was.

> Saddam would still be supporting terrorists

That is almost as funny as your claim that Iraq is a success
because now the US is not tied down militarily.

> Kurdistan would be living under imminent threat.

You mean, it would be under threat from Saddam and his Baathists,
instead of, as now, under threat from Saddam's Baathists (who are
obviously making world headlines by not being dead and gone) and
also from Turkey.

But, I will grant you that the Kurds are still almost as big winners
in the US debacle, as are clearly Iran and almost all Moslem
fundamentalists from Iran, to Syria, to Saudi Arabia, to Egypt.

Posted by: powerman at September 26, 2006 09:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I must say, on balance, of that silly list, the highlight by far is the "talking point" that a positive benefit of the Iraq debacle is that the US is no longer bogged down militarily in Iraq in the way they were before the invasion!

Posted by: powerman at September 26, 2006 09:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

powerman,

well done!

But, I will grant you that the Kurds are still almost as big winners in the US debacle, as are clearly Iran and almost all Moslem fundamentalists from Iran, to Syria, to Saudi Arabia, to Egypt.

Of course, in the long run, are the Kurds better off? Not only are they a threat from military action from Turkey but also from Iran. Kurds live in northern Iran too.....I think in the long run only one group benefits: Shi'ites, who have strong ties to Iran. Hmmm, imagine that.

Posted by: Dan at September 26, 2006 10:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory,

Some other people may have already gotten to this, but I think the question is in some ways a tautology. The false planning in Iraq was a result of Bush's administration and cannot be separated from that. As President, he filled his cabinet with neoconservative ideologues whose stupidity would ensure many parts of the debacle, and was personally culpable in many of the war's worst failures, as documented in Cobra II, Fiasco, Blind into Baghdad, etc etc. At the very least, he showed a lack of imagination, interest in what was going on, knowledge about the situation, and fatal optimism: he still probably believes in his heart that we're winning. As long as he was waging the war, it was pre-ordained to fail, much in the same way as his response to Hurricane Katrina.

I've had many people ask me "What if a better administration (someone other than Bush) was invading Iraq?" But this question is too big a hypothetical: a better administration would not have invaded in the first place. Iraq posed no threat to us, had no connection to Al Qaeda, and the intelligence about his supposed WMD arsenal was inconclusive and spotty (because despite the words of defectors, none such material existed). Iraq was really a war of choice, and I'm sure you're already aware of how much of the prewar intel shown to the public was blatant lies. Bush wanted the war badly, and members of his administration had been hankering to invade Iraq ten years before Bush took office.

Posted by: Adam at September 26, 2006 01:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Arab League reconstructed Lebanon, and might be able to accomplish the same in Iraq.

The US has never stated a position on its four Air Force bases in Iraq. Observers have remarked that they look like permanent installation.

Posted by: john at September 26, 2006 04:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Side splitting stuff here

A group of severe BDS sufferers gathered in the Belgravia Cathedral to outdo each other in explaining how bad the Bush admin is and everything they have ever done.

And apart from some infusions of sanity from folks like Liberty Dad and Pat - its "how bad is Bush - let me count the ways"
---------------------------------------------------------------
( this was NAIL ON THE HEAD Pat - and these BDS loonies simply will never get it

"After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States attacked the Vichy French in North Africa in its first offensive action of WW2. Heck, the French had lost their colonies in the Far East to the Japs. Why hit them? Simple answer: because the US could and because it weakened the Axis.

If you accept that the West is once again fighting the expansionist forces of Islam in a war that has waxed and waned over the centuries, then driving a stake into the heart of the Middle East makes strategic sense. If you think that Muslim terrorism is a minor annoyance and the terrorists are little more than common criminals, then Iraq looks like a mistake."

--------------------------------------------

You will lose in November - by not winning enough seats for control of the House or Senate - and yet all line up again by pushing farther to the left in the leadup to 2008

Poor poor Hillary - how will she secure the nomination without destroying her already dismal chances of winning the office

The Democrats are seen as weak on terror - and you can bet AQ will remind us of the threat before 2008

So yes - keep Clinton on TV telling us all about how he "tried" but failed - that really makes the case doesn't it

He tried - but because he saw it as a law enforcement issue - he failed to take the action - and the accompanying heat - as Bush has


Continue to blather on about Iraq for the next 2 years - please please do

Every new event will make this yearning for the good old days of the Clinton Approach ( trying! ) - seem more and more idiotic

Removing Saddam and attempting to jump start democracy in the ME may turn out to have been a bad idea, or a good idea, or a mix ( most likely ) will mixed results

When one considers the Demcrat/leftist alernative strategy - the voters have consistently returned the same answer

"I don't like the war in Iraq - but these guys have no plan whatsoever - and now they are on about how playing Red Hot Chilli Peppers to the mastermind of 9/11 is TORTURE"

You simply continue to lose - and you should be happy about that, its for your own good

Like children - you need to be looked after by your moral and intellectual superiors - for example George W Bush

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at September 26, 2006 06:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bush Devotion Syndrome is a lot more potent than Bush Derangement Syndrome. And a lot more dangerous.

Posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus at September 26, 2006 08:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pogue,

He tried - but because he saw it as a law enforcement issue - he failed to take the action - and the accompanying heat - as Bush has

Really? Did Bush get Bin Laden in the past five years? I must have missed that in the news.....

Posted by: Dan at September 26, 2006 08:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmm, Pat. I must have missed the part of the anti-mob statutes that allow torture, and the capabilty to deny habeas corpus.

Posted by: Gus at September 26, 2006 09:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If Liberty Dad, Pat & Pgue Mahone's ridiculus & nonsensical arguements are the best Bush defenders can come up with regarding the ongoing Iraq Wars, then they should really take a leaf from Little Green Footballs and simply not mention it anymore.
BTW, Pogue, etec. from all the polls what you call BDS is held by a clear majority (55% to 60%) of the American People.

Posted by: David All at September 26, 2006 09:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On Batiste.

I can imagine Rumsfeld and all his boys saying buhbye John, don' let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. If clearing out the Pentagon of opponents to The Party is not a policy, and I think it is, the fact remains that there is a self purging going on there, as there has been thruout the Intellegence community. If not Rumsfeld then certainly Bush, Cheney and Rove must hate what these critics say and be overjoyed that they are now on the outside looking in.

The same applies to those opposing torture and domestic spying, etc. etc. The institutional obstacles are rather quickly exiting the stage.

Posted by: rapier at September 27, 2006 02:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Bush Devotion Syndrome is a lot more potent than Bush Derangement Syndrome. And a lot more dangerous."

As I see it, Bush was the better of two not very good alternatives. I'm sure a Roosevelt, a Truman or a JFK would have been more effective in prosecuting this war. I fault Bush on immigration, on out-of-control spending, on failure to communicate what the war is about, on going weak on Fallujah, on Al Sadr, on Iran, on Pakistan, and on it goes.

How close was Saddam to Al Qaeda? As more documents get translated, the extent of the co-operation becomes clearer. You have to check right-wing fascist blogs and web sites to learn about such documents. The NYT isn't too concerned. The first World Trade Center attack was intended to topple one tower onto the other. Had it succeeded, 50,000 people might have died. Steven Hayes explains that:

"AHMED HIKMAT SHAKIR is a shadowy figure who provided logistical assistance to one, maybe two, of the 9/11 hijackers. Years before, he had received a phone call from the Jersey City, New Jersey, safehouse of the plotters who would soon, in February 1993, park a truck bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center. The safehouse was the apartment of Musab Yasin, brother of Abdul Rahman Yasin, who scorched his own leg while mixing the chemicals for the 1993 bomb.

When Shakir was arrested shortly after the 9/11 attacks, his "pocket litter," in the parlance of the investigators, included contact information for Musab Yasin and another 1993 plotter, a Kuwaiti native named Ibrahim Suleiman.

These facts alone, linking the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, would seem to cry out for additional scrutiny, no?

The Yasin brothers and Shakir have more in common. They are all Iraqis. And two of them--Abdul Rahman Yasin and Shakir--went free, despite their participation in attacks on the World Trade Center, at least partly because of efforts made on their behalf by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Both men returned to Iraq--Yasin fled there in 1993 with the active assistance of the Iraqi government. For ten years in Iraq, Abdul Rahman Yasin was provided safe haven and financing by the regime, support that ended only with the coalition intervention in March 2003."

As anyone with half a clue would know, the outfit that carried out the first attack on the WTC merged with Al Qaeda. So, what was Saddam doing sheltering Abdul Rahman Yasin? And other noted terrorists, such as al-Zarqawi, abu Nidal and Abu Abbas?

Hey Gus, Habeas corpus does not apply to unlawful combatants. Actually, they can be executed after a military tribunal. At least that's what the Roosevelt administration did to some Nazi saboteurs, including some US citizens, during WW2.

Bin Ladin is not yet dead, or maybe he is. Most of his "management team" is dead or captured. The biggest threats we now face are from Al Qaeda wannabes, such as those who bombed Spain and London, and Iranian sponsored terrorists, such as those nice guys who killed 220 US Marines in Lebanon in 1983.

David All, forget the polls and check the markets.

Posted by: Pat at September 27, 2006 04:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You may argue that "habeas corpus" and the protection of laws should not apply to "bad people" because they are obviously bad people. This is of course the Bush argument, and it has often been used, and with great success. We tend only remember the notoriously successful use that the Nazis made of this argument, but it has a longstanding history, and is generally successful (especially at killing off dissenters and controlling the populace).

The truth is that a similar argument was used well several times in Burundi and in Rwanda, but we don't study these uses in history.

Posted by: hank des moinse at September 28, 2006 02:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Perhaps a more illuminating way of answering the question is to ask "what would have had to be different for the invasion to succeed".

I think, given everything we've seen then and since, you very quickly get to the point of concluding that failure was pre-ordained by fundamental characteristics of the leaders of this administration.

That leads to the next question, asked above: could another more operationally competent, better informed, less arrogant administration have succeeded? Then, using the same test, I think you still need to say that the U.S. government has a consistent record of failing to understand and come to terms with foreign cultures, and the U.S. military has a very poor record of counterinsurgency (for some of the very same reasons, plus others), both of which would have had to be different, but are actually givens.

Based on those factors, I've come to the conclusion that the only way that this could ever have succeeded is if the U.S. did essentially what it did in Germany and Japan, which is to suborn the existing institutions to its cause and run the place through those, with such changes at the top as were necessary to punish, ensure a basic level of top-down control, and prevent a repeat of what brought them there in the first places.

In other words, yes, maybe the U.S. could have knocked off Saddam and run Iraq using the established government infrastructure. But the idea that Iraq could be turned over quickly to an elected Iraqi government was always a fantasy of the first order, and those who made it part of U.S. policy should wear their demonstrated stupidity like a crown of thorns for the rest of their careers.

Posted by: Mork at September 29, 2006 04:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Gus, Habeas corpus does not apply to unlawful combatants. Actually, they can be executed after a military tribunal. At least that's what the Roosevelt administration did to some Nazi saboteurs, including some US citizens, during WW2.

Pat, the USA hadn't signed these parts of the geneva conventions then. It didn't apply. But it applies now.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 29, 2006 09:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

About Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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