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Tim Gratz and the Iraq War


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Three Marks on the Horizon

By Michael Yon

Almost everyone (by now) has heard about the “lazy” Iraqi parliament members who, like so many Nero’s fiddling while Rome burns around them, are taking a month off. Yet comparatively few Americans will ever hear or read about IA Scorpion Company Commander, Captain Baker; or Iraqi entrepreneur and community catalyst, “Tonto;” or the mayor of Baqubah, who summoned the courage to step out of the shadow of al Qaeda and fight to get his constituents a warehouse-sized stockpile of food.

The mantra that “there is no political progress in Iraq” is rapidly becoming the “surge” equivalent of a green alligator: when enough people repeat something that sounds plausible, but also happens to be false, it becomes accepted as fact. The more often it is repeated, and the larger the number of people repeating it, the harder it is to convince any one of the truth: Alligators are not green, and Iraqis are making plenty of political progress.

There may be little progress on political goals crafted in America, to meet American concerns, by politicians resting on a 200+ year cushion of history. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were no progress on that front. One thing I have come to know about Iraqis, be they Shia, Sunni, Kurdish, or Christian, is they don’t respond well to rules imposed from outside their acknowledged authorities.

But to say this means there has been no political progress in Iraq in 2007 is patently absurd, completely wrong and dangerously dismissive of the significant changes and improvements happening all across Iraq. Whether or not Americans are seeing it on the nightly news or reading it in their local papers, Iraqis are actively writing their children’s history.

When I wrote the op-ed piece, “I Have Seen the Horror,” published last week in the New York Daily News, I cited three areas that had experienced dramatic change in 2007, change that convinces me the “surge” is working:

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.

2. The Iraqi army is much more capable now than they were in 2005. They are not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.

3. General Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

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Three Marks on the Horizon

By Michael Yon

Almost everyone (by now) has heard about the “lazy” Iraqi parliament members who, like so many Nero’s fiddling while Rome burns around them, are taking a month off. Yet comparatively few Americans will ever hear or read about IA Scorpion Company Commander, Captain Baker; or Iraqi entrepreneur and community catalyst, “Tonto;” or the mayor of Baqubah, who summoned the courage to step out of the shadow of al Qaeda and fight to get his constituents a warehouse-sized stockpile of food.

The mantra that “there is no political progress in Iraq” is rapidly becoming the “surge” equivalent of a green alligator: when enough people repeat something that sounds plausible, but also happens to be false, it becomes accepted as fact. The more often it is repeated, and the larger the number of people repeating it, the harder it is to convince any one of the truth: Alligators are not green, and Iraqis are making plenty of political progress.

There may be little progress on political goals crafted in America, to meet American concerns, by politicians resting on a 200+ year cushion of history. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were no progress on that front. One thing I have come to know about Iraqis, be they Shia, Sunni, Kurdish, or Christian, is they don’t respond well to rules imposed from outside their acknowledged authorities.

But to say this means there has been no political progress in Iraq in 2007 is patently absurd, completely wrong and dangerously dismissive of the significant changes and improvements happening all across Iraq. Whether or not Americans are seeing it on the nightly news or reading it in their local papers, Iraqis are actively writing their children’s history.

When I wrote the op-ed piece, “I Have Seen the Horror,” published last week in the New York Daily News, I cited three areas that had experienced dramatic change in 2007, change that convinces me the “surge” is working:

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.

2. The Iraqi army is much more capable now than they were in 2005. They are not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.

3. General Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

How does that brave and courageous combatant Tim Gratz have to say to Zach Flory and all those other soldiers who are risking their lives in order to finance the Republican Party and the retirement of George Bush. It is all too easy for middle aged men to speak of the need to sacrifice their life for such a cause. Did you use to argue this when you were at an age to serve in the armed forces? Did you risk your life against those evil Communists or Muslims?

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3. General Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

I read Mr. Yon when I can.....but if Petraeus turns out out to be "like Patton was to tank battles with Rommel", we might as well bring everyone home, now......

Patton didn't face Rommel.....ever.

and as for "Churchill was to Nazi's"....well, there's still debate over what that may have been, eh?

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According to this article from Jeremy Scahill, there are now more private contractors in Iraq than soldiers. The size of the 160,000 US troop force has been more than doubled by a shadow army which operates outside military and civil scrutiny:

http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/59571/

p.s. (Estimated) 500 people were killed by a suicide bombing today.

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Dick Cheney explains to the American Enterprise Institute in 1994 why Bush 41 didn't roll into Baghdad. "It's a quagmire if you . . . try to take over Iraq."

Here is the transcript. YouTube link below.

Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.

Ron, thank you for posting this amazing video. I sent the link to several investigative journalists. They have all replied that they were not aware of its existence. I think the interview could well be included in several articles in the near future.

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Tim and Craig, have you ever served in the armed forces. Did you see action in Vietnam? Are your sons fighting in Iraq?

Good article by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the Guardian about those brave politicians who send young men to their deaths:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2149432,00.html

Every week in the Commons, Tony Blair used to read out in suitably lachrymose tones the names of our dead servicemen and women, as Gordon Brown may also feel obliged to do. What Blair never grasped was what his mournful routine said about this war. Ninety years ago, could Asquith have read out the vast tally of dead at Passchendaele with individual condolences to all their families, or the year before that the names of the 19,240 British soldiers killed on the Somme on the one day of July 1 1916? A generation later, in a war when British casualties were lower than that unimaginable carnage of the western front, could Churchill have named all the dead of El Alamein or D-day?

There is another change. We are ruled today by people who are to a remarkable degree personally ignorant of the reality of war, more so than at any time, or than in many other countries. Even now there are statesmen who have worn uniform.

Just before the invasion of Iraq, Blair met Jacques Chirac, who of course opposed the war and was being blamed by the British as well as reviled by the Americans. According to those present, it was a comparatively cordial meeting in the circumstances, but the French president had some words of warning for the prime minister. Blair and Bush seemed to think they would be welcomed with open arms, but they shouldn't count on it, he said, and they should realise that by invading Iraq they might precipitate a civil war there. (It was afterwards that Blair said to a colleague, "Poor old Jacques, he just doesn't get it!" Someone should ask our last prime minister about that, and whether he now thinks that Chirac might have perhaps "got" it after all.) But Chirac said something else. Tony and his friend George did not know what war was like, apart from the months Bush spent in the national guard, at least, that is, when he reported for duty, guarding Texas from Oklahoma by way of avoiding service in Vietnam. But Chirac did. As a young conscript 50 years ago, he had served in Algeria, in a brutal war which resembled Iraq all too closely. For him, the horror of war was no mere phrase.

Not that Blair, the military virgin, is alone. His government that took us to war contained more than 100 ministers, not one of whom had any military experience; scarcely anyone in the entire parliamentary Labour party did, either. Watching those MPs vote for a war few of them really wanted or believed in, I wondered if they knew that during the first world war, not only did many sitting MPs bear arms, but no fewer than 22 of them were killed in action.

Along with many other bereaved MPs, two prime ministers lost sons in that war, Asquith and Bonar Law. And all four prime ministers in office from 1940 to 1963 had served in it as infantry officers; two of them, Attlee and Macmillan, were badly wounded. Might our present rulers take war more seriously if it affected them more directly?

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Interesting article by Lynne Olson in today's Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2154166,00.html

George Bush's favourite role model is, famously, Jesus, but Winston Churchill is close behind. The US president - who was yesterday again comparing the struggle in Iraq with the allies' efforts in the second world war - admires the wartime prime minister so much that he keeps what he calls "a stern-looking bust" of Churchill in the Oval Office. "He watches my every move," Bush jokes. These days, Churchill would probably not care for much of what he sees.

I thought a great deal about Churchill while working on my book Troublesome Young Men, a history of the small group of Conservative MPs who defied Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasing Hitler, forced Chamberlain to resign in May 1940, and helped make Churchill his successor. I thought my audience would be limited to second world war buffs, so was pleasantly surprised to hear the president has been reading my book. He hasn't let me know what he thinks, but it's a safe bet that he's identifying with the portrayal of Churchill, not Chamberlain. I think Bush's hero would be bemused; parallels do leap out - but between Bush and Chamberlain, not Bush and Churchill.

Like Bush, and unlike Churchill, Chamberlain came to office with almost no understanding of foreign affairs or experience in dealing with international leaders. None the less, he was convinced that he alone could bring Hitler and Mussolini to heel. He surrounded himself with like-minded advisers, and refused to heed anyone who told him otherwise. In the months leading up to war, Chamberlain and his men saw little need to build a strong coalition of European allies to confront Nazi Germany - ignoring appeals from Churchill and others to fashion a "grand alliance".

Unlike Bush and Chamberlain, Churchill was never in favour of his country going it alone. Throughout the 1930s, while urging Britain to rearm, he strongly supported using the League of Nations - the forerunner of the United Nations - to provide smaller countries with one-for-all and all-for-one security. After the league failed to stop fascism's march, Churchill was adamant that Britain must form a true partnership with France and even reach agreement with the despised Soviet Union, neither of which Chamberlain was willing to do.

Like Bush, Chamberlain laid claim to unprecedented executive authority, evading the checks and balances supposed to constrain the office of prime minister. He scorned dissenting views, inside and outside government. When Chamberlain arranged his face-to-face meetings with Hitler in 1938 that ended in the catastrophic Munich conference, he did so without consulting his cabinet. He also bypassed the House of Commons, leading Harold Macmillan, a future Tory prime minister and then an anti-appeasement MP, to complain that Chamberlain was treating parliament "like a Reichstag, to meet only to hear the orations and to register the decrees of the government".

As was true of Bush and the Republicans before the 2006 midterm elections, Chamberlain and his Tories had a large majority in the Commons, and, as Macmillan noted, the prime minister tended to treat parliament like a lapdog legislature, existing only to do his bidding. "I secretly feel he hates the House of Commons," wrote one of Chamberlain's most fervent parliamentary supporters. "Certainly he has a deep contempt for parliamentary interference."

Churchill revered parliament. He considered himself "a child" and "servant" of the Commons and strongly believed in the legislature's constitutional role to oversee the executive. In August 1939, when Chamberlain rammed through a two-month parliamentary adjournment just weeks before the war, Churchill - still a backbencher - exploded with anger, calling the prime minister's move "disastrous", "pathetic" and "shameful". He encouraged anti-appeasement colleagues to mount similar attacks, and when Ronald Cartland called Chamberlain a dictator to his face, Churchill congratulated Cartland with an enthusiastic: "Well done, my boy, well done!"

Likewise, Churchill almost certainly would look askance at the Bush administration's years-long campaign to shut down public debate over the "war on terror" and the conflict in Iraq - tactics markedly similar to Chamberlain's. Like Bush and his aides, Chamberlain intimidated the press, restricted journalists' access to sources and claimed that anyone who dared criticise the government was guilty of disloyalty and damaging the national interest. Just as Bush has done, Chamberlain sanctioned the wiretapping of citizens without court authorisation; Churchill was among those whose phones were tapped.

Churchill also believed firmly in the need to protect individual liberties from government encroachment. That's not to say that he was never guilty of infringing them. In June 1940, when a Nazi invasion seemed imminent, he ordered the internment of more than 20,000 aliens, mostly refugees from Hitler's and Mussolini's regimes. But as the invasion scare abated, the vast majority were released, also by his order. "The key word in any understanding of Churchill is the simple word 'liberty'," wrote Eric Seal, his principal private secretary. "He ... reacted violently against all attempts to regiment ... opinion."

I've discovered that writing about Churchill and Chamberlain is like a Rorschach test. Readers draw parallels between the events of the 30s and today, according to their own political philosophies. I've received congratulations from people who see similarities between US woes in Iraq and Chamberlain's disastrous conduct of the so-called phony war in 1939-40. But I've also had fan mail from readers who favourably compare the Tory rebels' courageous fight against Chamberlain to the Bush administration's campaign against those opposing the Iraq war. Among those who've written to me in praise of the book are outgoing Bush adviser Karl Rove and Howard Wolfson, the communications director of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

The president no doubt has his own Churchill. "He was resolute," Bush has remarked. "He was tough. He knew what he believed." But Churchill would snort, I believe, at the administration's equation of "Islamofascism", an amorphous, ill-defined movement forced to resort to terrorism by its lack of military might, with Nazi Germany, a global power that had already conquered several countries before Churchill took office. Still, key members of the Bush administration have compared critics of the war on terror to the appeasers of the 30s, equating their boss and themselves with Churchill and the "troublesome young men" who helped bring him to power. During bleak days in Iraq, the administration's hawks can be forgiven for hoping that history will show them to be as far-sighted about a gathering storm as Churchill was in the 1930s.

He believed that the US and Britain had a responsibility to serve as exemplars of democracy for the rest of the world, and both countries had to do their best to ensure that the "title deeds of freedom" were strongly safeguarded within their own boundaries. "Let us preach what we practise," he declared in his 1946 "iron curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri. "But let us also practise what we preach."

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Tim and Craig, have you ever served in the armed forces. Did you see action in Vietnam? Are your sons fighting in Iraq?

No John. I was of draft age in 1971. My draft lottery number was 322. Even had my number been in the draft range my medical problems would have most likely disqualified me. I have no children. I do have extened family currently serving-have served in the current Iraq war along with personal friends. As is the case will all of our troops in this confilict, they serve by choice.

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A simple construction that Bush the Unelected's role model might appreciate:

Until the life of the terrorist is valued as highly as the life of the terrorized, the terror will continue.

Charles

Man do you EVER have it backwards...

Until the TERRORIST learns to value his OWN life as well as the lives of his victims, the terror will continue.

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A simple construction that Bush the Unelected's role model might appreciate:

Until the life of the terrorist is valued as highly as the life of the terrorized, the terror will continue.

Charles

Man do you EVER have it backwards...

Until the TERRORIST learns to value his OWN life as well as the lives of his victims, the terror will continue.

Man do you EVER have it backwards ...

The REAL terrorists value their own lives very highly ... It's the lives of their victims that they obviously don't give a crap about .

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A simple construction that Bush the Unelected's role model might appreciate:

Until the life of the terrorist is valued as highly as the life of the terrorized, the terror will continue.

Charles

Man do you EVER have it backwards...

Until the TERRORIST learns to value his OWN life as well as the lives of his victims, the terror will continue.

Man do you EVER have it backwards ...

The REAL terrorists value their own lives very highly ... It's the lives of their victims that they obviously don't give a crap about .

Well said, Duane. Some don't know who the real terrorists are.

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A simple construction that Bush the Unelected's role model might appreciate:

Until the life of the terrorist is valued as highly as the life of the terrorized, the terror will continue.

Charles

Man do you EVER have it backwards...

Until the TERRORIST learns to value his OWN life as well as the lives of his victims, the terror will continue.

Man do you EVER have it backwards ...

The REAL terrorists value their own lives very highly ... It's the lives of their victims that they obviously don't give a crap about .

Well said, Duane. Some don't know who the real terrorists are.

Mark .... I do believe I just found a few of the real terrorists ...

cheney-rove-death-star.jpg

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Guest Stephen Turner

Material conditions help to breed political violence, it really is that simple. until we in the West learn this fact, what we term terrorism will continue, just as stagnant water helps spread maleria, the situation in Palestine and Iraq will help breed terrorists/freedom fighters. Its not so much or freedoms they hate, as our imported violence, and our complete indifference to their suffering. If I had witnessed either of my Children being murdered by "security forces" I'd be strapping on the semtex.

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