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At least 10 more years in Iraq

By
September 12, 2007

Democrats charged General David Petraeus’s latest Iraq strategy was a blueprint for 10 more years of war, as they rejected “rosy” claims of battlefield progress and demanded a speedy US withdrawal.

The Democratic counter-attack came as President George W. Bush prepared to address Americans on future Iraq strategy on Thursday, and war commander Petraeus endured a roasting in Congress.

“President Bush’s policy announced by General Petraeus is a path to 10 more years of war in Iraq,” said Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives in a statement after meeting the president at the White House.

“General Petraeus’ testimony to Congress drew a bright line: redeployment is not an option; endless war in Iraq is the administration’s only option.”

Petraeus said during two days of marathon congressional testimony that the “surge” of some 30,000 more troops into Baghdad was working, and that US troop numbers could recede back to around 130,000 by next summer.

But Pelosi slammed such a scenario as “an insult to the intelligence of the American people.”

The White House said Bush would make a live televised address at 9:00 pm Thursday (Friday 0100 GMT).

Senate Democrats argued the surge had failed in its prime goal — forging political reconciliation between Iraq’s warring factions.

“We should stop the surge and start bringing our troops home,” said senior Democratic Senator Joseph Biden.

Carl Levin, another veteran Democrat, said claims the surge was working was part of a “litany of delusion” by the Bush administration on Iraq.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said the reports by Petraeus and US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker demanded the “willing suspension of disbelief.”

Petraeus and Crocker appeared before tense hearings of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees, which came on the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a day of deep political significance here.

The White House argued in a statement that success in Iraq would be a “terrible blow” to US enemies in the ‘war on terror’ and extremists had to be battled there, rather than on US soil.

But another Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama, said it was wrong to hold a hearing on a day filled with echoes of the attacks.

“It perpetuates this notion that, somehow, the original decision to go into Iraq was directly related to the attacks on 9/11,” he said.

Petraeus, who testified before the House of Representatives on Monday, said US forces could gradually be reduced from their current 168,000 strength, to pre-surge levels of around 130,000 by mid-2008.

But Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer accused the general of painting an overly optimistic picture.

“I ask you to take off your rosy glasses,” she said. “We are sending our troops where they are not wanted, with no end in sight, in the middle of a civil war, in the middle of the mother of all mistakes.”

Republican war critic Chuck Hagel had a similar complaint.

“Are we going to continue to invest American blood and treasure at the same rate as we are now? For what?”

But Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain, a staunch defender of the surge, warned: “The consequences of American defeat in Iraq will be terrible and longlasting.

“Iraq has become the central front of the global war on terror.”

Ripples from Petraeus’s testimony spread worldwide, with the general set to head to London to discuss the British military’s handover of security in the southern city of Basra to Iraqi forces.

Britain said Tuesday its approach to Iraq would not be changed by Petraeus’s upbeat testimony. France meanwhile said there was no military solution in Iraq and called for an eventual US withdrawal.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s National Security Advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie told reporters that he expected US forces to cut back on combat duties soon.

“We anticipate in the near term a relaxation of the requirement for coalition forces to be in direct combat operation,” he said in Baghdad.

But he cautioned against a quick withdrawal of US troops, echoing Petraeus in his testimony on Monday, saying the coalition forces were needed until Iraq’s own security forces were self-reliant.

8 Responses to At least 10 more years in Iraq

  1. Steve Horn

    September 12, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Think about it – we’ve been in Germany for over 60 years, sure, we extended our stay because of the cold war, but face it, it’s still an army of occupation, we’ve been in Korea for over 50 years – in fact I think we’ve got around 40,000 troops in Korea, defending and monitoring the DMZ – now that we’ve invaded and disembowled the military and government of Iraq we have few real alternatives to providing security and support to that nation for years to come.
    And you know what? So long as our military is being sacrificed to their security, there’s no clear reason for Iraq to accept the responsibility for their own security –
    I suppose no one in the Bush administration gave this probability any thought before the invasion – from what I’ve read this situation is a big part of the reason that Daddy George did NOT drive through during the first Gulf War …. not to say something good about GB1 – but he and his administration must have had a better understanding of the political dynamics at work in the Middle East when they drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. Shame Jr. didn’t share his vision –

    Peace

    Steve

  2. Stephen Fox

    September 12, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Why We Should Exit Iraq Now
    By Bill Richardson, first printed in the Washington Post
    Saturday, September 8, 2007

    Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have suggested that there is little difference among us on Iraq. This is not true: I am the only leading Democratic candidate committed to getting all our troops out and doing so quickly. In the most recent debate, I asked the other candidates how many troops they would leave in Iraq and for what purposes. I got no answers. The American people need answers. If we elect a president who thinks that troops should stay in Iraq for years, they will stay for years — a tragic mistake.

    Clinton, Obama and Edwards reflect the inside-the-Beltway thinking that a complete withdrawal of all American forces somehow would be “irresponsible.” On the contrary, the facts suggest that a rapid, complete withdrawal — not a drawn-out, Vietnam-like process — would be the most responsible and effective course of action. Those who think we need to keep troops in Iraq misunderstand the Middle East. I have met and negotiated successfully with many regional leaders, including Saddam Hussein. I am convinced that only a complete withdrawal can sufficiently shift the politics of Iraq and its neighbors to break the deadlock that has been killing so many people for so long.

    Our troops have done everything they were asked to do with courage and professionalism, but they cannot win someone else’s civil war. So long as American troops are in Iraq, reconciliation among Iraqi factions is postponed. Leaving forces there enables the Iraqis to delay taking the necessary steps to end the violence. And it prevents us from using diplomacy to bring in other nations to help stabilize and rebuild the country. The presence of American forces in Iraq weakens us in the war against al-Qaeda. It endows the anti-American propaganda of those who portray us as occupiers plundering Iraq’s oil and repressing Muslims. The day we leave, this myth collapses, and the Iraqis will drive foreign jihadists out of their country.

    Our departure would also enable us to focus on defeating the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11, those headquartered along the Pakistan- Afghanistan border — not in Iraq. Logistically, it would be possible to withdraw in six to eight months. We moved as many as 240,000 troops into and out of Iraq through Kuwait in as little as a three-month period during major troop rotations. After the Persian Gulf War, we redeployed nearly a half- million troops in a few months. We could redeploy even faster if we negotiated with the Turks to open a route out through Turkey.

    As our withdrawal begins, we will gain diplomatic leverage. Iraqis will start seeing us as brokers, not occupiers. Iraq’s neighbors will face the reality that if they don’t help with stabilization, they will face the consequences of Iraq’s collapse — including even greater refugee flows over their borders and possible war. The United States can facilitate Iraqi reconciliation and regional cooperation by holding a conference similar to that which brought peace to Bosnia. We will need regional security negotiations among all of Iraq’s neighbors and discussions of donations from wealthy nations — including oil-rich Muslim countries — to help rebuild Iraq. None of this can happen until we remove the biggest obstacle to diplomacy: the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq.

    My plan is realistic because it is less risky. Leaving forces behind leaves them vulnerable. Would we need another surge to protect them? It gets our troops out of the quagmire and strengthens us for our real challenges. It is foolish to think that 20,000 to 75,000 troops could bring peace to Iraq when 160,000 have not. We need to get our troops out of the crossfire in Iraq so that we can defeat the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11. By hastening the peace process, the likelihood of prolonged bloodshed is reduced.

    President Richard Nixon withdrew U.S. forces slowly from Vietnam — with disastrous consequences. Over the seven years it took to get our troops out, 21,000 more Americans and perhaps a million Vietnamese, most of them civilians, died. All this death and destruction accomplished nothing — the communists took over as soon as we left.

    My position has been clear since I entered this race: Remove all the troops and launch energetic diplomatic efforts in Iraq and internationally to bring stability. If Congress fails to end this war, I will remove all troops without delay, and without hesitation, beginning on my first day in office.

    Let’s stop pretending that all Democratic plans are similar. The American people deserve precise answers from anyone who would be commander in chief. How many troops would you leave in Iraq? For how long? To do what, exactly? And the media should be asking these questions of the candidates, rather than allowing them to continue saying, “We are against the war . . . but please don’t read the small print.”

  3. Steve Horn

    September 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Richardson makes an intersting argument – and let me state with no reservation that we should never have been in Iraq – however.

    When we were fighting in Vietnam we were fighting an organized army backed by a recognized government with territory, with diplomats, which was recognized by the rest of the world. In Iraq we face no such foe – our “enemy” is not another government, our enemy is, for lack of a better term, mercenaries on a relegious mission, bound together only by an abstract hate for Americans and the West in general -there’s no one to sit down and negotiate with, there’s no one to declare victory over or defeat to, there’s no government –

    Now that we’ve disembowled Iraq, as much as I’d love to see us pull out, we have to ponder the fate of this nation we’ve assumed responsibility for (we did so by eliminating their legitimate government and the military it had).

    Bush has placed us in the very odd position of being at war with an idea rather than another nation. In Afghanistan we were at war with the Taliban – which at the time formed the government of Afghanistan. When we entered Iraq we were at war with the Baathist regime of Sadam – but the “insurgents” came in simply because no one planned for security in the wake of the defeat of the current military and toppling of the government.

    Our rapid withdrawl from Iraq, leaving a non-functioning government and broken military would allow for two possbile scenarios (as I see it) – one would be Iran over-running their long time foe, killing off their percieved “enemies” within the borders and taking the territory and resources for themselves. The second scenario would be that Iran would restrain itself from invading and allow the insurgent groups to duke it out for themselves, allowing for the establishment of a “talibanesque” government of fundamentalists, able to fund themselves with oil sales (you really think China wouldn’t negotiate with them for oil rights?) and further the Islamic expansion across the globe (much as the Christians expanded their control and influence from the 1400s through the early part of the 20th century) – neither scenario is, in my opinion, acceptable.

    Bush and his pals have really put us between a rock and a hard place on this one – quote Bill Richardson all you like (and I happen to like the guy) – but if we’re going to pull out he’d better have some clever means to wipe out the terrorists and keep Iran in check in the wake of our departure.

    Perhaps it’s the fatalist in me, but I see a mushroom cloud in the very near future, and not over some atol in the Pacific for above ground testing –

    Peace

    Steve

  4. erika morgan

    September 12, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    As I contemplate what is being said about ending engagement in Iraq, it think McCain is right, the pull out of Iraq would indeed be the final nail in the coffin of his VietNam War. I think ending this mistake ASAP will put into a very justly deserved grave, the notion that America has the right to bully the world with its might. It means we can no longer make money off of arms selling. We don’t have to be perpetrators of misery to mothers of soldiers and children from around the world. We will have our resources to build capital for ourselves, and can once again become a shining example of what happens when you reasonably fund infrastructure, education, health, science, art, and mentoring others. Real leaders lead by example, not by chest thumping and bulling. Real strength is found in compromise and mentoring, you only go to a fight if you loose your head and can’t figure out what to do.

  5. SEAL

    September 12, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    The headline is wrong! It should state “forever.” That is and has been the plan from the beginning. A permanent combat ready american military force in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just like the anaolgy he used of Korea. Anyone with half a brain can see that that is what they are establishing now. The unbelieveably large Embassy is a statement of permanency. They are building the bases along the border of Iran-Iraq to prevent Iranian interference or invasion (a DMZ?). The “green zone” is a fortress in the capitol of Bagdad that would be our military command center and house a main force. They have concentrated on the border area with Syria to shut down that interference and will maintain some permanent bases there just like they are doing on the other side where Iran is. The list goes on.

    What they are doing is obviously establishing a permanent “protective” ameican military for Iraq Just like we have always done in the past after our wars with countries. It’s called feudalism.

  6. SEAL

    September 13, 2007 at 4:15 am

    This week several of our retired generals and one col. have spoken out in various ways. Georgie Ann Geyer published an opinion piece on Sept.11 and what follows is excerpted from that article:
    …………………………………………..
    From retired Col. Ralph Peters, writing in USA Today: “The generals point out that they don’t control the strategic decisions, that all they can do is to follow orders, that then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wouldn’t listen to anyone, that Congress undercut the military, that the media’s behavior has been pernicious and that Iraq’s political leaders have failed their country.”

    “No matter the mitigating circumstances and political restrictions military leaders face, there is no ‘gentleman’s C’ in warfare. The course is pass-fail.”

    -From retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on July 31, 2007: “The U.S. armed forces are in a position of strategic peril. Congress must act.”

    “However, the purpose of my testimony is not to talk about the ongoing tactical operations … but instead the disastrous state of America’s ground combat forces. Congress has been missing-in-action during the past several years while undebated and misguided strategies were implemented by former secretary Rumsfeld and his team of arrogant and inexperienced civilian associates in the Pentagon. The JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) failed to protect the armed forces from bad judgment and illegal orders.

    “They have gotten us in a terrible strategic position of vulnerability. The Army is starting to crack under the strain of lack of resources, lack of political support and leadership from both the administration and this Congress, and isolation from the American people who have now walked away from the war.”

    Finally, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, speaking on his recent book, “The Battle for Peace,” in a recent “Meet the Press” appearance, describes the administration’s behavior in the war as ranging from “true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility” to “lying, incompetence and corruption.”

    In short: (1) Our military officer corps has become so bureaucratized, and thus is easily cowed by an obnoxiously dominating and humiliating figure like former secretary Rumsfeld, that we can never expect independent thinking from them if it is going to cost them their pensions. (2) The mindset of American officers is so rigidly conventional that they are simply incapable of understanding the Third World mentalities that they blithely — and ignorantly — fight. (3) Our military officers can understand only conventional warfare — tank battles across the belly of Europe — even though that threat barely exists in today’s world.

    Think about it. Every war we have fought (and too many of them!) since World War II has involved an “irregular” or guerrilla opponent. Especially Vietnam. Yet our military discovered “counterinsurgency” only three years into the Iraq war. The rather obvious thing to learn from this is, if you cannot do something well or at least understand it, then don’t do it! That lesson most definitely has not been learned at the Pentagon, at enormous cost to America.
    …………………………………………..

    These people have said what I have been inadequately saying in bits and pieces all along. I retired in 1988. At that time there were no general officers in high level commands like the JCS that would be so cowed by incompetent polititions that they would not protect their own military. I cannot understand what the hell happened. And, by damn, we understood counterinsurgency and terrorism. That was what the SEALs were all about – dealing with those things. Now they tell us they don’t know? How did that happen? Did everyone else that was involved with it retire with me leaving idiots in charge? I don’t think so.

    The problem is not with the rank and file. It is with the top group of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld hand picked cowards who wanted that forth star and the big pension so badly they would sell out their own military. Every one of them should be drummed out of the service, stripped of all rank, and spend the rest of their days in Levenworth making little ones out of big ones. They are traitors to the military and their nation.

  7. Donnat

    September 13, 2007 at 11:43 am

    I read back in the 1980s that America had planned to establish a permanent foothold in the ME in order to tap the last remaining large reserves of oil in the world.

    That’s what W is doing now, the bidding of his corporate masters who wanted this to happen. It has nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

    We’ll pay a high price for this folly of all follies if we don’t put anti-war Democrats in every office from President down to dog catcher in 2008. I don’t know if America is smart or brave enough to do this, however. We seem to think it’s our birthright to kill a few thousand Arabs so we can keep our SUVs running.

    Donnat

  8. cicada

    September 13, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Is this what America has to look forward to in Iraq,60 years of Occupation,spreading “democracy”,Death and Destruction?
    the US has occupied Germany now for 62 years.
    don’t wait til their patience runs out,pack up.
    Don’t give Bush all the credit for this Failure,give all to his advisors,like greenspan,rothchild,wolfowitz,bloomberg,chertoff and all the others working in the background,whose name we will never know.