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Why we just might be winning in Iraq

With the recent upsurge in violence in Iraq (hundreds killed by suicide bombers, random shootings, and the like), I've been reminded of Donald Rumsfeld's comments about the insurgency being in its "death throes." And while I'm not signing on to it, I think I see some signs he might not be completely talking through his hat.

1) The single bloodiest battle the United States fought in Europe during World War II was the Battle of The Bulge, the December 1944 counteroffensive by the Nazis against the advancing Allies. The battle went on for a month, and in the end there were almost 150,000 killed or wounded on both sides, and nearly 1500 tanks destroyed. The battle officially ended on January 15, 1945. Germany unconditionally surrendered less than four months later, after almost six years of war.

2) The single bloodiest battle in the Pacific was the US invasion of the island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. Over two and a half months later, on June 21, after over 300,000 civilians, Japanese combatants, and American combatants were killed or wounded, the battle was declared over. Japan announced its surrender less than two months later, on August 15, and formally signed the surrender on September 2, 1945.

3) The terrorists in Iraq have completely lost their focus. They initially stated that their goal was to drive out the Americans and our allies. They proclaimed themselves the "liberators" of the Iraqi people. Now, that it's proven incredibly expensive and dangerous to attack the "occupying infidels," they're lashing out at the very people they proclaim they wish to "liberate." The most recent attack was against the poorest, lowest, least influential people: those simply lining up in hopes of gaining work to support themselves and their families.

This brings up the obvious question to those who advocate getting out of Iraq immediately: right now, the most powerful force in the country is us. In that absence, it will become a struggle between two parties: the nascent Iraqi government duly elected in a fair election, and the terrorists. I don't have any hard numbers to back it up, so I'll say they're roughly equal. But if we pull out under fire, Iraq will become one huge Gaza Strip, with the terrorists declaring it a great victory and using it as a rallying cry to draw support and assert power. Meanwhile, the fragile government that still greatly depends on our support will most likely crumble and collapse.

All those millions of Iraqis who defied the terrorists and proudly cast their first, free votes last winter will be thrown to the wolves.

One of the greatest problems I have with the first President Bush was his first encouraging Iraqis to overthrow Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War, then wimping out and pulling the rug out from under them, leading to wholesale slaughter and genocide (that he will finally be brought to justice for soon). The current President Bush has made great strides in correcting the harm that did to the United States' reputation, but if we once again toss the Iraqi people (especially the Kurds) aside, we will have almost no credibility or moral standing left in the world.

And rightfully so.

WIth all that said, do I think that Rumsfeld was right when he said the Iraqi insurgency was in its "death throes?" I don't know. But if history is any guide, he very well might be right.


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Comments (25)

Also, I wouldn't be surpris... (Below threshold)

Also, I wouldn't be surprised that if the coalition pulled out today, there is a very good chance that Syria or Iran would send in their own "peace keepers", and they would not be there to shore up the nascent Iraqi government.

My problem with the continu... (Below threshold)

My problem with the continued use of the US Military is the fact that it is NOT used. When we send our military in harm's way, we need to prosecute the war to the max. Pussyfooting around and being politically correct is no way to wage war. Full out or back off.

Look what the "limited" war got us in VietNam. Kick ass, kill the bad guys and be brutal about doing it.

Jay, I agree that G.H.W. Bu... (Below threshold)

Jay, I agree that G.H.W. Bush's abandonment of Iraq was an injustice. But I don't know what you meant when you said "that he will finally be brought to justice for soon." Are there judicial proceedings against him of which I am unaware? Or were you referring to judgment in the afterlife?

I'm not sure, Sean, but I t... (Below threshold)

I'm not sure, Sean, but I think he might've been referring to Sadaam.

I'm not sure, Sean, but ... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

I'm not sure, Sean, but I think he might've been referring to Sadaam.

It was an extremely convoluted sentence, but he was referring to Saddam.

In a game where you can't t... (Below threshold)

In a game where you can't tell exactly what your opponent is doing, nor from whom he is getting help or how, it's almost impossible to measure when that opponent is on his last legs. There are things you can look for (increasing failures of command and control, desertions), but they could just as well signal things other than your opponent's imminent collapse.

And so, just like in a boxing match or a sprint, each time you have to try to hit harder and better, or put your foot just a little further a little faster this time than last, regardless of your assesment of your opponent. You never know when they will finally fail, so you have to do your very best at every turn in the road.

I don't think the examples are entirely relevant as 1) we don't have the terrorists pinned down geographically like we had the Nazis. Where were they going to go? Defeat them at home and they're done. How are you going to do that to the terrorists? 2) While the bloody defeats in the pacific took a horrible toll on the Japanese, it was the direct attack and threats to their home island that finally brought them to surrender. To make this analogous, we'd have to be threatening to nuke Mecca or Tehran. 3) The terrorists have not lost focus so much as changed their objective. Their goal now is outright civil war between the Shia and the Sunni.

Maybe we need to take a lesson from WWII and figure out who's really running the show and put them under direct threat. Oh, wait, we already know who (Assad, Tehran). We're just trying to establish a base from which we can threaten them directly. That's always been my theory, anyway! But really in this post, it seems that you're applying strategy-level examples to a tactics-level problem.

The insurgents may in fact be on their last legs. But who can tell? We'll only know when they fold.

Maybe you should add the Te... (Below threshold)

Maybe you should add the Tet offensive in Vietnam. History now tells us that had the US continued it's level of commitment, that North Bietnam would have given up. Of course, who knew that Walter Cronkite and Jane Fonda were Viet Cong conscripts.

I’d throw this article in a... (Below threshold)

I’d throw this article in as a possible scenario after the US withdrawal.
From the New York Post
Excepts from article “A Quiet War”, by Amir Taheri
Free registration may be required) http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/52364.htm
…In the past few weeks, the Iranian border police, part of the regular army, have been put under command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which now controls all points of entry into Iraq. At the same time, the IRGC has moved vast quantities of heavy weaponry to "sensitive points" (including the Zaynalkush salient, the Hamroun mountain range and the Dasht-e-Mishan plain) along the 900-mile-long border. Official Iranian reports indicate that the IRCG now has more than 250,000 men at or close to the Iraqi border, the highest concentration of troops there since the Iraq-Iraq war ended in 1988.
All this activity is accompanied by the beginnings of what looks like a massive program of building roads, airstrips and storage facilities close to the border. The IRCG has also set up a number of listening posts along the border, plus a major "electronic surveillance center" on Mainau Island in the middle of the Shatt all-Arab border estuary.
Tehran presents the transfer of the Iraqi dossier to the IRGC as a precautionary measure against alleged attempts by the U.S.-led Coalition to send "saboteurs and infiltrators" into southern Iran. It has accused Britain of having fomented riots that left six dead in the oil capital of Ahvaz last month, and blamed the United States for riots in Iranian Kurdistan, where at least 13 people died in clashes with the security forces in July. (The British and Americans have denied these charges.)...One thing is certain: Iran is engaged in a low-intensity war against the United States and its allies, including most Iraqi political parties. The Iranian calculation is that the U.S.-led coalition is tired of Iraq and will disengage within a maximum of 3 1/2 years, that is by the end of the Bush presidency at the latest.
And then, as Iranian "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei has said, it will be the Islamic Republic — not the United States — that will decide the future not only of Iraq but of the entire Middle East.

Jay, the attacks this week ... (Below threshold)

Jay, the attacks this week are not the result of the insurgents being hemmed in or desperate. They attacked the capitol of the country we're supposed to be controlling at multiple sites, attacking Shiites and Americans, bombing the so-called "green zone", and killing more than 150. On the same day al-Zarqawi declared "total war" against Iraq's Shiites. The country seems on the very brink of all out civil war; how long can our military hold their finger in that dyke? That is of course assuming that that is what they're doing, but considering that the recent Tal Afar offensive was little more than an excuse for Kurds and Shiite Turkmen to kill Sunni Turkmen, it seems that we're doing our best to foment civil war, rather than prevent it. We've taken the side of the Shiite-Kurd alliance and against the Sunni Arabs and Turkmen. Whatever Sistani claims, it does not seem he will be able to contain the Shiites indefinitely in the face of these levels of violence against them. The Iraqi military and police forces are not even close to being able to handle things themselves, and who knows if they will be. Meanwhile we're stuck in the middle, and you want to talk about WWII as if it were even remotely relevant? At least you could have compared it to Vietnam, which at least had the parallels of difficult terrain, civil war and a persistent guerilla enemy. Or maybe you could actually talk about what's happening on the ground in Iraq instead of leaning on untenable analogies.

Oh, wait, I forgot, "we're winning, we're winning, we're..."

The KGB caused the US to lo... (Below threshold)

The KGB caused the US to lose its will to fight in VietNam by galvanizing a nascent "peace movement" after Tet, that caused an evaporation of US political willingness to finish what it started. All while this work was being performed by the KGB, the USSR was secretly supplying the NVA.

The strategy for the Soviets in this instance was to use any means necessary to diminish US power and stature in the world, and since it knew it could not do so militarily, instead it used political tactics to accomplish its goal.

Currently, Iran is playing the role of the USSR, while the US and European "Left" are playing the role of the KGB...all to reduce American influence in the world - but without so much as a moment's thought to the ramifications, or the costs, of getting what they believe they want.

The Soviets had a political, ideological basis for its goals...but the Left has no such thing, other than an extremely misguided idea of "fairness".

In Hillary, they will get what they want, and may the Devil take them all.

I just want to clarify my p... (Below threshold)

I just want to clarify my previous comment by stating that I think we are winning, notwithstanding my critique of the points in the original post. I expected it to be hard, but this is turning out to be even harder than I had guessed. That does not mean that I think we should cut. No way. Winning in Iraq is crucial to the global war on Islamofacism, which is why the terrorists and their global sponsors are pulling out all the stops to defeat us.

If we lose in Iraq, it will be bad, but there are other options against the facists, each progressively more violent and less concerned with civilians casualties. If the facists lose in Iraq, they are finished.

"The KGB caused the US to l... (Below threshold)

"The KGB caused the US to lose its will to fight in VietNam by galvanizing a nascent "peace movement" after Tet"

Bullshit. While I'm sure the KGB was claiming credit all over the place for the American peace movement, it was a grassroots movement that gained momentum as Americans got the notion that we were bogged down in a war without a real goal, with debatable popular support within VietNam and in league with a South Vietnamese governemnt that was difficult to support, at best. What exactly did the KGB do to "galvanize" the peace movement?

<a href="http://billroggio.... (Below threshold)

"Carl von Clausewitz, perhaps the greatest military scientist of them all, stated that escalation was one of the two universal features of war."

I would suggest people not familiar with The Fourth Rail read the last month's worth of posts for a look at where the Coalition forces are making progress and where they are not. The terrorists are bombing in Baghdad in supposed retaliation for the operations in Tal Afar and other cities where the US and Iraqi forces are inflicting serious losses on the terrorists.

For example, Col. Robert Brown described the degradation of al Qaeda in the north: “Eighty percent of the network has been killed or captured. Sixty to seventy percent of the terrorist killed were foreigners. Most terrorists are now in their mid-teens, and inexperienced. Mortar attacks are down from three hundred a month to six.”

Reply to Chris:Chr... (Below threshold)

Reply to Chris:

Chris, this tactic is actually in the AlQueda handbook. And it even mentions North Vietnam and the manipulation of the US media, ou politicians and your "grassroots movement".

North Vietnam was being coached on how to create and inflame the peace movement and turncoats like John Kerry knowing full well most of the US media would jump in and help without even being asked.

mantis, every now and then ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

mantis, every now and then you raise a valid point or two, but it's so often overshadowed by gross exaggerations.

"...it seems that we're doing our best to foment civil war, rather than prevent it."

I can personally think of a dozen or more things we could do to truly foment a civil war in Iraq. For example:

1) Announce that the Sunni boycott of the Constitutional drafting process amounts to a forfeit, and allowing the Shiites and Kurds to simply establish a Constitution without Sunni participation.

2) Encourage discussion of an independent Kurdistan, with hints that Kurds in Iran and Turkey might be welcomed.

3) Discuss "reparations" for Iraq's past transgressions, much like was done after World War II.

4) Aggressively pursue and kill vocal anti-American figures, such as Moqtada Al-Sadr (which, come to think of it, might be a good idea in his case).

5) Start imposing "collective punishments" on villages and regions that either cooperate or don't resist actively enough terrorists.

6) Lean HARD on US-friendly government officials to get them to be more vocal in their support of us, and to crack down on the others.

7) Announce that as a "price" for our liberating Iraq, they're now obligated to sell us a certain amount of oil every year -- at very favorable rates.

And that's just off the top of my head, mantis.

Care to toss around any more hyperbole?

As far as "being on the brink of a civil war" based on Zarqawi's pronouncement... I'm not buying it. The guy is basically saying "help me conduct an open reign of terror, or be victim of a quiet one," and he simply doesn't have the resources to back it up. He can kill a few at a time, maybe even a bunch or two a few times, but he simply doesn't have the resources to do either. To properly motivate by fear, you need tremendous resources -- a network of informants, a legion of well-equipped and well-trained enforcers, and free reign to operate. He might have some informants and a
bunch of willing enforcers, but that's about it.


The easiest way to s... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

The easiest way to start a civil war would be to pull out.

mantis, every now and th... (Below threshold)

mantis, every now and then you raise a valid point or two, but it's so often overshadowed by gross exaggerations.


You will never believe a civil war is well under way, because those facts will not reach you thru your filtered news source. Neither will you accept that Iraqis risked their lives to vote a gov't that can tell the US to leave - as we promised them. And, when the American body count is your only measure to past battles, your indifference to hundreds of dead Shiite recruits - and it's significance - is telling.

Clive, just what are YOUR "... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Clive, just what are YOUR "unfiltered sources" that categorize what's going on in Iraq as a civil war? By definition, a "civil war" is between two factions of the same nation to assert control. Zarqawi is a Jordanian, and most of the terrorists are non-Iraqi. It's not a civil war, it's outside agitators (mainly backed by Iraq and Syria) killing civilian Iraqis.

And when have I denied that the Iraqi government can ask us to leave whenever they like? I've repeatedly cited examples of other nations asking us to leave, and we left -- most prominently, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.

I've also called for us to admit that it's long past time for the United States to pull our troops out of that quagmire that is Germany. But maybe it's a bit hasty -- we only defeated them 60 years ago.

Go troll somewhere else, Clive.


Well said, Wanderlust and R... (Below threshold)

Well said, Wanderlust and Rich.

Here's a link for Chris:

John Kerry and the VVAW: Hanoi's American Puppets? from Wizbang's 10/26/04 archives.

If Chris were really interested in the truth, he would also Google for the testimonials of ex-KGB officers detailing how they personally organized the "peace movement" in Europe and the US during the Vietnam War/Cold War era. It's an old tactic, the Russian Czar used it at the turn of the 19th Century before World War I, when Russia was behind in their arms race against Germany. Creating "peace movements" within the opponent's camp is just another tool in warfare.

Will they throw out CNN and... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Will they throw out CNN and Big Bad Wolf Blitzer?

Poor mantis. Ok, what I sai... (Below threshold)

Poor mantis. Ok, what I said was bullshit. After all, the KGB had no obstensible reason to want to break American political will to fight in Vietnam, and although secret agencies infiltrate other professions with impunity (at least, for a time), I'm sure the Press has NEVER, ever, ever been infiltrated by KGB, FSB, CIA, etc. Never. Simply can't happen.

Ok, with that last sentence above, my eyes threatened me with rolling out their sockets, so I'd better stop while I can.

I've read many of your rants - er, posts - mantis boy, and I can only hope that one day you get everything resulting from what you wish for:

* Hillary in '08

* US out of the Middle East

* No attempt to stablize foreign governments where US strategic interests are at stake, in a given world region (e.g., OIL, which touches every last portion of your miserable little life, wanker boy)

* Appease Kim Jong Il again, as Clinton did

* Allow Jimmy ("Dhimmi") Carter to speak as an unfettered mouthpiece of US foreign [appeasement] policy

* Tolerate Muslim separation and intolerance at home, lest we be accused of being intolerant of their intolerism

* Appease Iran (and anyone else who wants to let the nuclear genie out of the bottle)

* Allow illegal immigrants to be welcomed into the US from the Mexican and Canadian - borders, because after all, the US is a country made of immigrants, so having a border control policy of any kind just isn't right

* Allow US forces to remain in Europe because removing them would ruin fragile foreign economies (e.g., Germany) - BUT praise the great European Socialism experiment, because it is SO MUCH BETTER than evil raw capitalism (which is why both BMW and Mercedes Benz opened manufacturing plants in the US back in the mid-1990's, even though they could have easily built those vehicles in their native Germany)

Shall I go on?

Hopefully by that time I'll be in Australia, which, despite so many attempts by its version of the Left to play the appeasement game, it somehow manages to retain both its grey matter and its cojones.


Wanderlust, right down at t... (Below threshold)

Wanderlust, right down at the bottom of each comment is where you find the name of the comment's author. You will notice that my name does not appear underneath any comments referring to anything you have written about the KGB or otherwise (I think you're mistaking me for Chris). So I guess the answer to this:
I've read many of your rants - er, posts - mantis boy
would be, are you sure? Because not only do you think I'm writing about your KGB rantings, but you then declare a list of nonsense I never said to be my wishes. In any case, I won't bother responding to your list because you're wrong on every point, and what's more, you're stupid. Good night.

An eloquent post, Jay, whic... (Below threshold)

An eloquent post, Jay, which I mostly agree with. I read it as saying "this doesn't prove it to be the case, but supports the position that it could be the case". You've stated what I would have liked to say but in a much more concise manner.

Wanderlust, I sure hope you're right. I don't think the Aus. government gets everything right but compared to the fall from grace of the left wing, they're looking better and better to me.

One thing I hope we've gott... (Below threshold)

One thing I hope we've gotten is some way of detecting an Iranian Nuke from one developed by NoKo.

One problem with having two rogue nuclear states is that someone could give a weapon to a terrorist, and, when they set it off, just point the finger at the other state and cry, "Not US! Must've been THEM!"

We need the ability to go, "Bullshit. Here's why. Now, you're well and proper f***ed." And DARE anyone to give us an argument about it.

Nearly two months ago we ha... (Below threshold)
Murray Kerr:

Nearly two months ago we had two very different international events happening, both with two completely different tyupes of media coverage; The G8, with its marches and pop concerts, and another "global" event- The World Tribunal on Iraq. This took place in Istanbul has had virtually no coverage, yet the evidence it has produced, the most damning to date, has been the silent spectre against the G8 extravaganzas.
The tribunal is a serious international public inquiry into the invasion and occupation, the kind governments dare not hold. Its expert, eyewitness testimonies, said the author Arundathi Roy, a tribunal jury member, "demonstrate that even those of us who have tried to follow the war closely are not aware of a fraction of the horrors that have been unleashed in Iraq." The most shocking was given by Dahr Jamail, one of the best un-embedded reporters working in Iraq. He described how the hospitals of besieged Fallujah had been subjected to an American tactic of collective punishment, with US marines assaulting staff and stopping the wounded entering, and American snipers firing at the doors and windows, and medicines and emergency blood prevented from reaching them. Children, the elderly, were shot dead in front of their families, in cold blood.
Untold numbers of loved ones are missing in Iraq because of the horror Bush and Blair have inflicted on that society. But where do the families post their pictures, as the grieving did in London and New York? If they ask at the American bases, they run the risk of themselves disappearing. In our free-speaking societies, the unmentionable is that "the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people", as Arthur Miller once wrote, "and so the evidence has to be internally denied." Not only denied, but distracted by an entire court: Geldoff, Bono, Madonna, McCartney et al, whose "Live 8" was the very antithesis of 15 February 2003 when two million people brought their hearts and brains and anger to march on the streets of London.
Iraq and New Orleans are not that far apart...
On 13 April, 2003, Matt Frei, the BBC's Washington correspondent, reported the bloodbath of the American invasion with these words: "There's no doubt that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East... is now increasingly tied up with military power." Frei's apologies for the Bush regime from in front of the White House, and specifically for the architect of the slaughter in Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, were consistent with his reporting from New Orleans, which was vivid. On 5 September, he described battle-ready troops of the 82nd Airborne trudging through the streets of New Orleans as the "heroes of Tikrit". Most of the killing in Tikrit and elsewhere in Iraq has been done not by "insurgents" but by such "heroes": a fact almost never allowed in the "coverage", whether it is on Fox or the BBC. Shaking his head in New Orleans, Frei wondered why Bush had done so little. Reality's intrusion was complete.
Before the moment passes, and Bush's atrocities and lies in Iraq are again allowed to proceed, it is worth connecting his disregard for the suffering in New Orleans with other truths behind The Facade. The unchanging nature of the 500-year western imperial crusade is exemplified in the unreported suffering of people all over the world, declared enemies in their own homes. The people of Tal Afar, a northern Iraqi town now in the news as "an insurgent stronghold", refused to be expelled from their homes, and as you read this, are being bombed and shelled and strafed, just as the people of Fallujah were, and the people of Najaf, and the people of Hongai, a "stronghold" in Vietnam, once the most bombed place on earth, and the people of Neak Loeung in Cambodia, one of countless towns flattened by B-52s. The list of such places consigned to notoriety, then oblivion, is seemingly endless. Why?






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