T Nation

For what it's worth...

sorry for the length, tried to minimize as much as possible. this is a pic on the northern boarder of iraq

There has been a lot of talk recently, both in the news and on this forum, on how we mishandled the events leading up to combat and how wrong we were for going into Iraq in the first place. I too questioned our reasoning early on, after the war was seemingly quelled and I had been away from the states for about 4 months(didn’t know shit would kick up again in another 4 months). Then I had the priviledge of flying one of our Generals up to the northern, Kurdish, region called Lake Dokan where the Kurds were having a fourth of July celebration for us. I call this a priviledge not because of the general we were flying, but the people we were about to meet.

On our way up there I was like yeah great, whatever, it’ll be some sheik kissing some ass so that the military will look kindly on his interests. My misconceptions were quickly changed when we arrived and I was able to meet with some of the guards. We weren’t used to leaving our aircraft unsecured, hell we we hadn’t walked around without flak vests and helmets til we got up there, but we left them and our lives in their hands. Even with the language barrier we were able to have a makeshift game of frisbee with these guys who were genuinely happy to meet us, take pics, and hang out.

They put us up in a hotel overlooking this picturesqe lake; this was the first time we had showers from running water in the four months since we had left home. That night there was a big party, they gave a bunch of speeches both in kurdish and very fluent english. They brought out a bunch of alcohol and whatnot, but unfortunately we weren’t allowed to drink any, though the cia bastards were busy getting lit.

Anyways after the party was over and all the bigwigs were off to bed, I’m cruising by the pool cause I don’t know when I’ll get to go swimming again, and all the Kurdish guards are down there too. A few of them spoke english and a couple had even been educated at American colleges. So a few military guys sitting around talking, they’re showing me their ak-47s, mp5s, handguns, etc and I show 'em my m4 and m9(what else are soldiers going to talk about but weapons?)They’re telling me about how grateful they are for us finally coming back and finishing the job. Their only fear was that we’d dig out and leave them again as we did the last time. It was the first and only place in the world outside of the US where I felt that someone was truly happy to have us and not just saying it.

There is some good being done over there, and anytime I found myself down and questioning what I was doing so far from the country I love, I only had to think of them.

slimjim,

Thanks for the great post! You reflected the human side of what it is all about over there.

You mean to tell me that there is some good going on over there? reading the posts of Lumpy, Elker and voom…and a few others…you would think we are hated and are the oppressors over there!!!
Like I said…we’ll be rosting some rasins on long skewers in November!

SlimJim
I’m glad you had that positive experience over there. I have to say that it is a pretty well known fact that northern Iraq is very stable and yes the Kurds are extremely happy we are over there. I am sure you well know that this is not the region of Iraq that is in a shit-storm.

I’m happy that the Kurds and others are no longer living under oppression and unlike what PtrDr says I want this situation to turn out for the best for all parties involved! What PtrDr, Rainjack and others fail to see is, I feel the bigger picture. I think that instead of using their heads to analyze the situation for what it is they let emotion take over and get intoxicated on a pseudo patriotic fervor. The mentality seems to be Fuck those terrorists dubya says there in Iraq we’re gonna take it to them before they do it to us!

That sounds good and all and when I was fourteen, fifteen years old I would be chanting their slogans with them. At this stage of my life the picture is a little more complex then that. All anyone has to do is listen to General Zinni, I know Rainjack feels he has ulterior motives that money is what he is after, but it you look at it he is a career military man a lifelong Republican a friend to the right who endorsed Bush in the 2000 election. Do you really believe all of a sudden this retired General is going to sacrifice his integrity to sell a few books?

The author Tom Clancy another lifelong republican who voted for Bush in 2000. C’mon, can’t you see these are qualified, over qualified experts on geo-political and military situations. They foresaw that with the rush to war and piss poor planning that went into this it was going to turn into a quagmire!

But alas, people like Rainjack, PtrDr, BostonBarrister, Zeb, will tell you no don’t listen to that man with 40 yrs. military experience, that man with at least 10 yrs. middle east experience, no don’t listen to him! Our man Bush he is better suited to make those decisions! The only qualified person Bush had with some credibility was Powel and he did not want to go along for the ride initially! He had to be bullied, badgered, pushed, and now from what I have seen, I believe regrets the decision he made.

General Zinni, General Shinseki, General Clark, and the list goes on, have all commented on the ineptness in this whole thing, but no these men have hidden agenda’s they don’t really give a shit about America. What was the rationale stop terrorism? I hear all of these conservatives saying we are taking it to them, we are killing them there, so we don’t have to do it in America. Don’t these knuckle-heads know that we have created a freakin ton more fanatical bastards that hate us a helluva lot more then they did a year ago!

Wake up and realize these men the majority of them who have sent this country to war have never been to war themselves! Everyday we are losing two, three, five, American lives, but do you think Bush’s daughters, his nephew’s, his cousins, are over there? Likewise with Cheney, with Wolfewitz, with Rumsfeld, with Perle, No, HELL NO!

That vet who is going to comeback legless, that son or daughter who is not going to comeback at all to that mom in Iowa, these are the people who pay for the mistakes and arrogance of this administration. I know I will ruffle some feathers here, but lets take a guy like BostonBarrister he espouses his support of the administration of the war! Why don’t you show us a true gesture of your patriotism! Show is in the spirit of Pat Tillman walk away from your corporate lawyer earnings and join your father George W Bush’s war! At least you would be backing it up in a true T-man fashion! No, I don’t believe we are going to be posting any Keep your head down in Iraq threads for BB anytime soon.

To any of you who have questioned my patriotism especially those of you who are between the ages of eighteen and thirty five and who are not serving in this war you so much love BITE ME YOU HYPOCRITICAL POSERS! To all of the service men in Iraq and abroad don’t ever think We Democrats don’t support you! We want you home! Safe with your families! We thank you for your sacrifice! We just don’t want to see your lives wasted for the stupidity of some jerks that have currently hijacked our government!
Elk

From The New Republic online:

"Indeed, while liberals may enjoy Battle Ready’s indictment of the Iraq war, they will find much more to dislike about the book. Zinni defends the necessity of fighting the Vietnam War, and lists “flower children, peace marches, demonstrations (some of them violent)” in his compendium of problems afflicting the military in the 1970s.

The novelty of the book isn’t that Clancy has moved away from criticizing liberal elites; he hasn’t. Rather, it’s the suggestion that President Bush, who has so effectively positioned himself as the champion of Red State America, might in fact be no better than Clancy’s old left-wing villains. Clancy, after all, seems now to be harboring contempt for both “flower children” and the Bush administration, raising the question of whether, in the author’s mind, they are equally destructive forces. This is a possibility rarely considered in our polarized political climate. But in Battle Ready, Zinni and Clancy air a contention that has been percolating among right-wing realists for some time now–namely, that an overambitious Republican president can be just as bad for the U.S. military as a wimpy Democrat, albeit in a different way."

Excellent post SlimJim,

You have to remember, all of those positive reactions you observed were paid for by George H. W. Bush. It costs him quite a lot of coin to pay every Iraqi who supports our efforts.

Jeff

Brian
I am in no way trying to imply that Zinni and Clancy are now the friends of the left. I point to this so vocally because up to this point anyone who did not agree with this war or the way we went about it was labeled unpatriotic, dumb, a coward, a pinko commie, a hippie. Now you cannot go more to the right or have a voice for the military more then Clancy or Zinni! When people like this are saying something is wrong even the most partisan ironhead should listen from the right or the left.
Elk

Elk -

Why don’t we all just set back, and let Zinni and Clancy run this war - after all they must be the smartest SOB’s on the planet.

What is your fascination with Zinni, anyhow? His protests to this war are being proven baseless with each passing day. We are winning.

In a little more than 3 weeks, Iraq will have it’s own gov’t. Out of all the uprisings that have occured at the hands of a few extremists, none of them have escalated into a civil war. The people of Iraq - North and South - want us to finish the job and leave when they are a free people. Were this not the case, there would be widespread civil uprisings.

Thanks SlimJim for a great post - helps keep things in perspective.

Better yet why don’t we let you run the war rainjack. You seem to be an expert in foreign policy as well as military strategy. Proven baseless? back that comment up. Not with how much you hate liberals, but with something credible!
Elk

I think I backed it up in my post , Elk.

We are winning. Nothing that the naysayers do, say, or think can dispute that fact. We are winning and have the support of the Iraqi people.

If this were not so, in at least one of the uprisings started by the extremists - there would have been popular support. Each of the uprisings have been put down - not without some support from the Iraqi people themselves.

Whatever Zinni’s points of protest were, however well founded, they are being proven baseless.

You want me to copy and paste some lengthy diatribe to prove my point? It won’t happen - all it takes to prove my point is common sense.

When have I ever said - even once- that I was a military strategist? I disagree with your gang o’ generals, and I get a promotion? I’m just doing what congress, the joint chiefs, the state dept., and the president did - and guess what? They are being proven correct.

Maybe we could look around a bit for some perspecitve. We could compare someplace that has power, water, a working police force and court system to Iraq where all of those things are not quite all the way up and running.

My vote is to compare the entire nation of Iraq to one city in the US. I pick Los Angeles, CA.

Just do a search on the the murder rate in that supposedly stable city of 3.6 million people last year and compare it to the total coalition deaths in a country with nearly 7 times as many people in it. Keep in mind in Iraq the access to heavier weapons and stuff to make improvised bombs are readily accessed.

What has the media coverage about the carnage in LA been in the last year? Where is the woe is me attitude about our total failure in LA? It could very well be that things in Iraq aren’t so damn bad.

Elk, I think you’re operating on two misassumptions here:

“anyone who did not agree with this war or the way we went about it was labeled unpatriotic, dumb, a coward, a pinko commie, a hippie.”

This I think is an irresponsible exaggeration. Launching such ludicrous accusations did not characterize the VAST majority of pro-war voters and politicians. You can always search for some hostile yahoo or fringe voice to portray your side of an argument as a the rebel underdog victimized by the majority.

“Now you cannot go more to the right or have a voice for the military more then Clancy or Zinni! When people like this are saying something is wrong…”

There were PLENTY of people on the right who were against the war in Iraq. Notably, Kissinger–the godfather of American realpolitik–and many of his fellow Nixonians; and Pat Buchanan’s “paleoconservative” ilk. Clancy and Zinni have always had their political values in synch with these kind of conservatives.

(FYI, Zinni very recently said that he “probably will vote for Bush,” although since the book came out, he’s also said his vote will depend on whether Bush dumps some of the pro-Iraq War voices in the administration.)

A while back, I saw an email on andrewsullivan.com that addresses a double standard in measuring improvement in Iraq, by comparing it to improvement in post-Apartheid South Africa:

In reading articles marking 10 years since the end of South Africa apartheid, I was struck by the similarities between that country?s struggle since liberation and the current struggle since the liberation of Iraq. Likewise, I was struck by the relative silence of the left on the real problems South Africa has faced in the past 10 years.

In the early 1990?s, the movement against apartheid was one of the most
passionate cause of the American left. The struggle for freedom is South Africa ended on April 27th 1994 when over 90% of the people of that country went to the polls to elect the first democratic government the country had ever seen. Since that time, South Africa has been one of the most, if not the most, dangerous place to live on the planet.

In 1998 for instance, South Africa led the world with a recorded 59 murders per hundred thousand citizens (source: Interpol). By comparison, the United States had 6 per hundred thousand that year; England had 1, France 4, and Russia 21. The closest to South Africa was Colombia, with 56.

Presently, although crime seems to have abated, the country is still racked with problems. An estimated 20.1% of the population has AIDS, 50% of the population is below the poverty line, and 37% of the population is unemployed. The current life expectancy is 46.56 years.

Now, very few people on any side of the political spectrum would argue that
South Africa was ?better off? under apartheid. Yet, those that oppose our war in Iraq often bitterly complain that the Iraqis are not better off. Both countries, when liberated, were coming from oppressive governments with people unaccustomed to the democratic process. It has taken ten years to get South Africa to the still troubled, but gradually improving, state it is currently in. Why is so much expected of Iraq so quickly? Apparently, the left?s criterion for democratic progress is a double standard.

Rainjack,
How do you know we are winning?

Rainjack you paint a pretty rosy picture of the current Iraq situation have you watched the news lately? and I do mean Fox as well. Besides our troops dying everyday haven’t there been quite a few asassinations of people in the new Iraqi Gov. and a lot of bombs going off in the green zone? You backed nothing up! Just a lot of Hollow words! I may not agree with Brian Smith, but he at least makes me think! If everything is so rosy over there why don’t hop a C-5 on over there in some army greens or you can even get a civilian job making some pretty good bucks in tranquil Iraq!

Jim, appreciate the post. It voices the exact opinion that I have tired to express many times on these boards, but was never able to formulate correctly. I applaud and sustain the efforts of all involved in this war. Though I am not a Bush fan, it is a travesty that the liberation and vindication of so many has been twisted into such a political mess.

People need to realize that you cannot reasonably expect immediate results when the identity of a nation is so severely altered. Turmoil is always going to result. A decade is a blink of an eye in the history of a nation.

Look at any nation throughout history that has gone through a similar change in government or culture. Issues will linger for decades, and it will always get worse before it gets better.

Pop quiz, during which war was the greatest amount of American lives lost? You’re right Bob, the Civil War. 600,000 Americans lost their lives as our country attempted to reform. Not to mention the fact that this war occurred nearly a century after the US was carved out of the western world by another quest for liberation.

Think the effort in Iraq is going so badly now?

Yeah Elk, I watch the news. I watch the talking heads tell us how bad it is. I read the anti-war/anti-Bush crowds’ posts.

I apologize, Elk, for not seeing the war through the same defeatist eyes that you have. I apologize for trusting the presidents words when he says the same thing I am saying. And I apologize, most of all, for believing the brave men and women who are actually fighting this war.

I’m truly sorry that you have to take such a dooms day outlook - but that’s your choice.

We are the U.S. freakin A. We are winning and I won’t hang my head in shame because you and your anti-Bush clan disagree with me.

Stone Dog said
“People need to realize that you cannot reasonably expect immediate results when the identity of a nation is so severely altered. Turmoil is always going to result. A decade is a blink of an eye in the history of a nation.”

This sounds perfectly reasonable. However, that is not how the war was packaged and sold to the American people. Instaed, we were told it would be a cake walk, that we would be greeted as liberators, and so on.

Obviously the occupation is going better in some areas than others. But the Sunni triangle (the area where most of the violence occurs) is (correct me if I’m wrong) an area the size of Viet Nam. The fact that we were surprised to face resistance from various factions besides the Ba’athists speaks to the incompetence of the war planners done by the civilains in the administration, many of whom having no actual military experience, and some (Wolfowitz in particular) never had even been to Iraq even one single time before the war. (Wolfowitz was a major planner of the war). Gee, maybe you can’t just read books about Iraq and talk to con men like Chalabi, and expect to understand how complex the political situation in Iraq is?

To Brian Smith
Maybe we live in 2 different countries, but before the war I remember anyone who dared to question the rush to war was skewered by the media.

You also quoted an article that implies that one of the main complaints against the occupation is that we say “Iraqis aren’t better off now”. But I have never seen a single article that makes that claim. It certainly is not a central theme with people who were against the invasion, at least to my knowledge. There are many legitmate complaints against our Iraq misadventure… no need to construct straw ones.

Lumpy,
Do you mean “skewered IN the media”? Either way, I think we do live in two different countries.

Also, many critics of the war have said either that it is difficult to view Iraq as “better off” under U.S. occupation because of the outburst of chaos and violence and premature death that could never have happened under Saddam. The question is whether we created new problems more damning than the old ones (not whether oil production is up, electricity is better, there is more food, etc.). The email addresses that point.

I heard a kid crying this weekend, maybe you should come up here and invade Canada so you can improve his life?

If you are going to go around the world fixing everything that is wrong, then say so before you invade, then at least we’ll know the real reason next time.

Nobody is arguing that there isn’t any good being achieved. However, people may argue that greater good could be achieved via other means.

Everyone is against terrorism. Perhaps there is more than one single way to fight it?