One of the Problems With Invading a Place Such as Iraq…

Below you will find two videos of from the Daily Show where Jon Stewart is interviewing Ali Allawi.  Ali Allawi has worked closely with the interim governement in Iraq under various titles and positions.  He is a very intelligent and well spoken individual with a lot of inside knowledge of Iraq and the government there.

His new book out “The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War”, seems to be an excellent look, not only on the history of Iraq, and what America has done wrong, but also about what we can do to fix the problems that have been created.

If you watch the videos you will notice that Jon Stewart does an excellent job of interviewing Mr. Allawi and we find that again, an understanding of the history and culture of Iraq may have saved us from an unnecessary war…

I have a little more written after the Videos.  And a question for the readers. 

Part 1:

Part 2:

The problem with the Iraq war doesn’t appear to me to be necessarily with how it was managed.  Although I would say Bush certainly botched that one.  But actually due to the fact that we never took the time to understand the culture or history of Iraq.  As stated from video Part 2, Iraq is an incredibly difficult country to rule due to the three different factions that reside and the differing of opinions of those 3 factions.  But also that it was never really run as a nation state.

Meaning that it might be a bad idea to try to create a nation state in the matter of a couple years (What Bush and Co © attempted to do).  Instead what is needed is a gradual shift, not only of the government but of the culture as well.  And changing a culture is one thing that is harder to change than a True Believer’s ™ ideas on religion.  Why?  Imagine trying to change something you do and have been doing for thousands of years.  “People love progress but hate change.”

Unfortunately this leads me to think maybe we should not pull out of Iraq.  If we do we would leave the country in complete disarray.  It is a hard choice one way or the other, but if I was commander in chief, I think I would have a phased withdrawal.  And instead of spending money on the war militarily, I think it would be more worthwhile to give political and economic support to those who not only wish to stop the terrorists, but want a free and independent nation.  You cannot help those that do not wish to be helped, which is part of the reason we are having so much trouble over there in the first place.

But enough about me, what would you do if you were in charge?

35 thoughts on “One of the Problems With Invading a Place Such as Iraq…

  1. although I disagree with the war and the reason (lie) for going there,now we’re there we’re there to the end i’m afraid.
    At the bare minimum besides armed forces and basic logistics(police,fire,hospitals etc) I think even more important is an Internal intellegence service and border control to catch these bastards in the act of planning thier foul deeds.
    The difficulty in setting up such ground work whilst daily losing 100 or so civilians,recruits etc..must be over whelming – these poor bastards need all the help they can get.
    Mind you,I dont think its going to win the “War of terror”  wink

  2. Mind you, I don’t think its going to win the “War of terror”

    Ditto Frump.
    I doubt we were ever gonna make a dint in a War on Terra.
    What’s really, really scary is that the fucking fuckers in whom we’ve entrusted our security have no fucking idea what to do either.
    But that’s not what this thread’s about.
    Mr Bush, world president, has sent an email off to all the intelligent people (who he’s never met) in the US and we happen to have one of them here … take a bow Webs – good man … and he’s asked for a battle plan.
    It’s no good us (me) telling our (I use that term loosely) president what he already knows (again – I use that term loosely).
    We (that means y’all) have to come up with some useable, realistic, credible, easy to implement ideas. I added the ‘easy to implement’ because as our (?) commander-in-chief, Mr Bush needs to understand them so’s he can tell the gen’ls what to do … you know how gen’ls love taking orders.
    So I have no ideas other than to pray a lot to a non-existent god and hope the fucker materialises before something worser happens.
    I’m going to the club.
    When I get back I expect a load of new ideas on how to extract ourselves from the Iraq attacks from y’all so’s that Webs (god bless him) can take to them to our President and save truth and justice and our American way of life.

  3. I’m wondering if iraq should now be divided into seperate states as it once was, having official borders to the factions might help solve teritory disputes (and allow enforcement), also if they won’t have a secular government then at least split states might be able to cater more for the regional spin on islam, you wouldn’t have the problem so much of significantly large minorities

  4. I do take some issue with the lack of transparency, but only to the extent that it should be glass or oak and nothing in between. This war was terribly managed on several fronts, not the least among which was the information control and general PR from the White House. Instead, we’re in a position where we see them screwing up and trying to pretend that’s not the case.

    Now, I know getting into this that asymmetrical warfare is bad for a lot of developed nations – it’s far more efficient to be the faceless enemy than to fight one. That said, complacency is to blame, too. We want a war that is cheap and fast – we played hot potato with the bill and now we’ll be washing dishes in the kitchen for decades.

    I don’t think there’s saving it now. There’s bigger fish to fry, so we can’t count on our foreign diplomacy. But let’s step that back.

    Is it possible to stabilize Iraq through US involvement?
    Is it possible to fund US involvement long-term?
    What are our options in terms of diplomacy?
    Culturing plays a large role in this. If they want to fight over land, they can do that regardless of borders – but maybe giving them equal parts land and resources to sustain themselves might culture peace (after an extended period of war where they realize it’s not working).

  5. now we’re there we’re there to the end

    The end being whatever happens first: The Iraqis kick out the occupying force or the American public forces a retreat.

  6. I don’t think Americans are brutal enough to rule Iraq.  It would take decimations, pyramids of skulls, probably, to bring the populace to heel.  These are not conducive to nation-building, though.

    Iraq, like Yugoslavia, is a jumble of religio-ethnic groups that do not much like each other.  Maybe you could convince enough people that a federation or confederation would be a better alternative than all out civil war, but that is iffy at best.

    I think the occupation has been such a mess and has lost so much credibility that it cannot be seen as fair to any group.

    Unfortunately, as fourth generation warfare suggests, nation-states that are fragile, as Iraq is, once broken cannot easily be put back together.  Anyone who cooperates with the invaders is seen as a quisling, anyone who resists is a patriot.

    If I believed that the political leaders of this country were really knowledgable, conniving and machiavellian, I’d think they’d botched the occupation on purpose in hopes of causing a huge Arab-Persian war, letting Sunni and Shia fight for the next thirty years instead of either attacking the west.

    As it is, Iraq is broken, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put it back together again.  All we can do is incur more ill-will, waste more money and, worst of all, get more Americans, Brits, et al, and Iraqis killed.  It is past time to admit our failure and leave.

  7. I don’t think there are any good choices at this point.  Instead, it’s come down to a choice between bad and worse.

    If we do stay, then we need to build up the military to a point where we can handle both Iraq and another war at the same time.  That’s because states like North Korea, Iran, and others will take advantage of us if all our forces are tied down in Iraq.  Raising a big enough military to handle two wars might require a draft.

    Again, if we stay, then we need to raise taxes.  We can’t keep funding this war by fobbing its cost off on our children. 

    On the other hand, if we cut bait, then all hell breaks loose in Iraq—maybe in the whole region.  It could even be a matter of a short while before we’re right back in the fray, fighting Iran in Iraq to save the Saudis, or something along those lines.  So, there’s no good choice here.

    It’s between bad and worse.  But which is which?

  8. Paul S: That’s because states like North Korea, Iran, and others will take advantage of us if all our forces are tied down in Iraq.

    Sorry mate; I don’t get how NK and Iran are gonna take advantage of the US; surely that’s paranoiac GOP talk.
    You don’t mean they’d think of doing a pre-emptive strike thingy on the US like Iraq did, do you?

    For the rest of it I agree … except for saving the Saudis. Fuck ‘em.
    The lesson to be learnt from this debacle is to stay the fuck away from Muslims – they all hate the US (and the rest of the west; thanks y’all) with a vengeance.

  9. and the rest of the west; thanks y’all)

    I can’t tell if the thanks is sarcasm or not. Hey, LJ, is Oz west or east raspberry?

  10. Hey, LJ, is Oz west or east raspberry ?

    I can’t tell if that was sarcasm or not; I’ll take it seriously.
    And thanks; it invited me to go Googling off into The Netasphere.
    From what I can gather there are at least two reasons why the west became The West – one being the split after the death of the Roman Empire (there’s a nice little map that has colour changes showing the rise and fall of the Roman Empire … after which there was the rise and fall of the Holy Roman Empire – The First Reich); the other being the advent of the Cold War.
    On the other hand, if I go West or East far enough I’m gonna run into South America.
    From there if I go North or South far enough I’ll hit the US. Not hard mind you – a gentle tap.

    Oh, the thanks? It was sarcasm. I’m trialling a while without Smileys.

  11. Oz is considered a ‘western nation’- it is part of the Indurialised european based culure.

    Iraq- The only thing that is stopping becoming a full blown civil war is US led forces.  Once the invasion pulls out we are looking at a Yugoslavia, but this time a full scale war.  Look at who they attack now- the big attackes- the 150+ dead bombs- are all aimed at civilians, usually the ‘wrong kind of muslims’.  Does anybody actually know what these people want.  They say about striking blows against the invader, but killing people doing their shopping doesn’t seem to acheive any long term aim.  The bit I don’t understand is blaming the West for Muslim on Muslim atrocities.  Unfortuantely my union conference is going to be full of self flagelating lefties. 

    Iraq, like Yugoslavia, is an artificial construct. There will have to be partition.  The only queation will be how many have to die first.

  12. Does anybody actually know what these people want.

    They want to be on top once the dust settles, the same as the US and Iran and just about everyone. It’s a mistake to think about the Middle East as somehow greatly different in their basic motivations than the rest of the world. It’s more complicated once you get into details, but basically people kill for power and to deny people power everywhere.

    For me I’d just pull out and say to hell with it. Bush made a mess, and if it gets worse then it gets worse and maybe the EU will do something about it for humanitarian purposes (translation: for power) or the Saudis will step in for power and influence, etc. We could keep on keeping on, but we’re in the position of losing net influence and ability to defend ourselves by playing duck and squat in the desert for this long. No matter who comes into power though, we shouldn’t divorce ourselves of the country economically. That’s always been the stupid diplomatic ploy we’ve been playing in Cuba and Vietnam, etc.

    Burger King and Coca-Cola have probably done more for American diplomacy over the last 60 years than any amount of bullets, because we’re mostly hampered in our displays of force buy hardly ever are we restricting our aggression in terms of economics. Plus, playing with the big guns of economics doesn’t eventually escalate into a mushroom cloud, which is nice for the most part.

  13. What do we do now? We pull out. We pull out formally, and very visibly. We establish very clear political figureheads in the form of diplomats, foreign aid, and possibly even UN commissions on post-occupation peace in Iraq. At the same time, we follow the lead of SOCOM in Africa, which, post-Mogadishu, has had reasonably good success. Leave a small, but incredibly effective (use your own adjective here: lethal, mobile, powerful, etc) special forces contingent based on SOCOM operators from Europe and North America (those Canadians are no slouches). Lobby vigorously for political solutions to problems, and campaign viciously against “personal militias” such as the Sadr army. There is no place in a peaceful country for a member of parliament who maintains a militia and threatens force if his goals are not met.

    So, carrot, stick. Campaign for peaceful solutions, force the negotiators to remain at the table by destroying their ability to wage violence on eachother. This allows Iraq to continue towards a working government, allows them the symbolic victory of kicking the US out, allows the Democrats their own symbolic victory, and still maintains an advanced tactical force (because the Iraqi army is nowhere near ready for a hand-over) to put down, quietly but overwhelmingly, armed dissent.

    Dirty, but I think effective. It has worked in Africa. And effective diplomacy is always a little dirty.

  14. There is no place in a peaceful country for a member of parliament who maintains a militia and threatens force if his goals are not met.

    Yep- but look how long it took SinnFein.

    campaign viciously against “personal militias” such as the Sadr army.

    but how?

  15. Sinn Fein wasn’t blowing people up with cement-truck-bombs. There weren’t multiple, contiguous weeks of 200+ dead. This is a different insurgency, a different mindset, and there are different states.

    As to how, as I said, it’s dirty. Look at how the SAS and the Mossad do these things. I deliberately didn’t mention the Mossad because these are the wrong people (but right tactics and strategy) to send in. The SAS has shown repeatedly that they have the people to get this accomplished. The US SOCOM operators seem to be much better at larger, more significant operations. They’re the guys you want to call when you need an AC-130 to take out somebody like Zarqawi (yes, I know a Spooky didn’t get Z). But you also have to have a much finer scalpel, people who are ready and able to move very quickly and very decisively on intelligence (which also has to be beefed up, but is integral to a good SOCOM program).

    The US Army and Boeing like to talk a lot about three requirements for the future of combat (per FCS):

    1) Know first.
    2) Act first.
    3) Finish decisively.

    These are all important elements of any effective diplomacy program, and any intelligence or special operations program. Sure, I sound like a fanboy. But, I’d rather see diplomacy being the first tactic, and have it backed up by a multinational force of a few thousand spooks, not Guardsmen from Alabama, when people decide to go back to sectarian bullshit.

    I’ll even go one step further with the stupid, evil, offensive oversimplification: I don’t let my cats scratch my furniture or walk around on my kitchen counters. I am very careful to let them know this is the case, and I watch them like a hawk. Every once in a while (I’ve been known to use video conferencing to watch them from another room in the house), I catch one of them (know first) and make furious angry noises, carry by scruffs of necks (act first – they don’t get to tear into the goodies on the counter), and throw them into a kennel to think about it for a while (finish decisively). You can’t kill them, but you can scare the bejeezus out of them. I think we’ve moved past the point where we put the Sadr army and other militias into their respective “kennels.” A long time since.

    My wife takes the other tack. “Now, now, now, Natasha, get down, you know you’re not supposed to do that. Alex would kill you if he saw you.” Who do you think they jump up on the counter to greet?

  16. Alex, I was about to flame you, but when I read past the 1st para, I agreed with what you have to say.

    My arguement with you is SF didn’t plant bombs, true, but the IRA did- and for a long time they were two sides of the same coin. The provos were using techiques we see in Iraq- there is a reason why fertiliser in Ulster is 27% nitrogen, not the normal 33%. OK they didn’t go for the frequency we see in Iraq, but a bomb in a city centre pub on a Saturday night, or outside Harrods in the lead up to Christmas is definately statement of intent.  In addition many were aimed at so called ‘military’ targets- eg the Ceremonial Colonel of a regiment who was a high profile figure.

    Iraq is completely different. It is more like Rwanda or Yugoslavia.  Muktada Al Sadr pisses me off.  He is formenting bloody revolution on purpose, in the hope he will be standing on top of the pile of corpses.  What ‘Carrot’ do we have. As for the stick- if a Sabre Squadron does ‘slot’ him how do we control the fall out?

  17. Alex: Sinn Fein wasn’t blowing people up with cement-truck-bombs. There weren’t multiple, contiguous weeks of 200+ dead. This is a different insurgency, a different mindset, and there are different states.

    Yeah; you need a filthy fucker to deal with these crazy fuckers … pity y’all hung Sadam. He’s looking good for the job.

  18. pity y’all hung Sadam. He’s looking good for the job

    A joke: ‘Out the back of Bourke’ there was a bit of a flood and Des and his pet dingo, Dinga, were stranded on bitta dirt the size of a hankie.
    Coupla days went by and Des was starving so he killed and ate Dinga.
    He wiped his mouth and looked at the pile of bones and said: Dinga woulda liked them bones.

  19. You’ll have to forgive my seeming incredulous, I kind of have a hard time believing we’re discussing anything having a basis in reality in the midst of people suggesting that Saddam is “looking for a job.”

    I have said now, three times, that it is dirty business. Let me clarify.


    Slitting throats.
    Carbombs.
    “Surgical” strikes.
    Human intelligence.
    Polonium 210.

    Do I need to be much clearer? Dirty. Fucking. Business. You send in the people most capable of perpetrating the kinds of deeds that need to be carried out – because the National Guard and regular Army cannot – and you publicly demand diplomacy. When people step out of line and threaten any side of the table, bring them back to the table by killing their driver.

    This is not especially hard to understand; you just have to accept that this is beyond overt military action, and overt political action by itself cannot succeed in this environment. You remove their ability to carry out terror by being the more despicable, the more terrifying, the better armed and more ruthless opponent. This is how the SAS, Mossad, and most special forces organizations work. They just, nominally, don’t put themselves in a position to be sniped at by some fairy naming himself Juba on Ogrish.

    Where am I being ambiguous?

    Read the interview with Csrnko. This man speaks truth. Ask yourself how those policies could be enacted. Ask yourself how he could be so confident.

    This is the kind of man that will lead the US military in the next thirty years. Look at his picture and ask yourself if I’m wrong. He’s a young guy. He knows the players, he knows the technology, he has the pedigree, and there is no other way to wage war in this environment.

    Better yet, read Mark Ames’ War Nerd column at the eXile. There will not be another “Battle of Kursk.” The future is a smarmy guy with a bad haircut and a tebbit knife.

  20. Alex: You’ll have to forgive my seeming incredulous, I kind of have a hard time believing we’re discussing anything having a basis in reality in the midst of people suggesting that Saddam is “looking for a job.”

    Aaahh, a basis in really, really serious reality.
    Mmm, I coulda said he WAS looking good for a job but wouldn’t it be a tiny bit handy if y’all hadn’t hung him. You coulda said: Sorry, we fucked up. You’re doin’ a hellava job, Brownie. (He was Iraqi – darkish; it woulda worked) Can we help you out AGAIN with some more nerve gas and weapons – oh you want uranium now cos Iran’s got some? Sure, here ya go mate … and just handed the keys back to him.
    It woulda saved tens of thousands of lives on both sides not to mention the billions of American dollars your chillen are gonna pay for.

    But I really, really coulda said the fucker had the job and was keeping the peace in the region … and y’all can’t find a suitable replacement, canya?
    After all he’s exactly the dirty fucker you need right now.
    Now THAT’s what I really, really, really meant to say but you had your head too far up your arse to hear any nuances let alone think anyone else knew anything.

    I have said now, three times, that it is dirty business. Let me clarify.

    Ooooo. THREE!!!!! times.
    We (or rather I, I think) had better shut the fuck up then, eh?

    bring them back to the table by killing their driver.

    You’re for real aren’t ya?
    Killing a fucking driver? Yeah. That’d work. Fuckin oath, mate … yeah, yeah and then kill their kid or their wife or their mother as well. Yeah. That’d work too.
    I your dreams, mate; in your dreams.
    Damn! I’m glad you’re non-com spectator … in America.
    Ya sure wouldn’ta survived in Bagdad – not even on your best day.

    All you fucking Rambos have made that many mistakes over there it’s not funny; the problems have been discussed here a bit.
    Going there was the first mistake.
    The second was sacking every government employee who was a Baathist (ie member of the Baath party; that’s the political party of which Saddam was a member – it was in Iraq; they held the power there – in Iraq) not realising that the only way to be employed in Saddam’s Iraq was to become a member of the party.
    The third mistake was believing a buncha yes men (I used the ‘men’ word loosely) and not realising y’all knew sweet fuck all about Iraq or the Kultcha or the people or schisms – in fact your shrub was told that y’all’d be greeted with the throwing of flowers. We now know y’all got it slightly wrong.

    You remove their ability to carry out terror by being the more despicable, the more terrifying, the better armed and more ruthless opponent.

    You’re describing Saddam.
    So why did y’all go there again?

    I think you’ve read too many Rambo books – I’ve read a few too but even with the abuse of copious amounts of mind-altering substances, I know the difference between fiction and reality.
    You were serious about the use of polonium weren’t you?
    As we used to say in the trade, and it’s good to see nothing’s changed,: you’re a typical gung ho shit hot** seppo.

    I think an idea that could have merit is to have a chat to the muslim league, if one exists, and pull out (like a good catholic) with great loss of face just like WE did after losing to a buncha totally committed peasants in Vietnam, and then let the Muslim League divide the spoils.
    America losing the spoils of war.?.
    Mmm, that’d be different.
    Cheney’s Halliburton would not be pleased – it will not happen.

    The future is a smarmy guy with a bad haircut and a tebbit knife.

    And you wanted ME to be serious.  LOL

    shit hot** 99% shit and 1% hot.

  21. How ‘bout giving the whole of iraq to iran- let them merge to form a new state- iranq, but maybe chip off a kurdistan. Other states could also take turf, divert attention from the crusader stereotypes

  22. I could just avoid saying “the wrong thing” to “LJ” the easy way.

    It’s alright mate. I just get up on my hind legs and howl the wind sometimes.

  23. I have to agree with Alex J Avriette about the War Nerd: He is the man.

    I would also recommend people go to the Defense and the National Interest site and read the articles there.  I don’t 100% agree with either War Nerd or the folks at DNI but they are a lot more accurate about what’s going on in Iraq than the mainstream stuff.

    I do not want to get into a flame war between LJ and AJA; that said, I tend to agree with AJA that only a certain degree of ruthlessness would work to curb violence in Iraq to the point that you could have an effective government.  OTOH, making it the Arab League’s problem, as I believe LJ suggested, does seem reasonable as it would get the US out of a situation that I personally do not see as winnable.  I would say that I could see a mixing of the two, with Spec Ops people doing the dirty work while the Arab League maintains nominal control, but I respect Spec Ops people too much to want to see them hung out to dry like that.  So, I don’t know.

    Nation building.  Feh.

  24. We should pull our military out and let the 125-140,000 Halliburton and Blackwater “support” “contractors” do what we’re paying them roughly $30 billion per year to do: secure strategic sectors and rebuild the country we blew up. They’re getting paid the big bucks to be there—let’s see ‘em earn it. Bet if Blackwater’s contractual payments were contingent on getting the electricity, sewers, and schools running again and getting the oil industry functional once more we’d see some fast progress. But first, let’s make them accountable to SOME oversight so they don’t engage in wholesale slaughter in order to get paid.

    Let’s get the hell out now. We don’t belong there, we’re not wanted there. Send them money, supplies, help to get things fixed again. Let’s see, we liberated 650,000 Iraquis by death, 2.4 million by emigration and displacement—we’ve done such a swell job of shoving democracy down their throats, haven’t we?

  25. Yeah – great idea, CIR – that way, 10 more years from now when we realize we can’t do it with brute force, and we finally withdraw, we’ll have killed that many more Americans and Iraqis. This is repeating Vietnam on a new stage with new players. The intelligence community is our greatest asset in terms of security, and it has gradually and consistently deteriorated to the point where illegal immigrants can be living in the country, taking flight lessons on expired Visas for decades.

    Then they fly planes into a building or two, and we act shocked and awed.

    There was never any reason to send private and public forces to attack enemies we couldn’t identify in the first place. The national Iraqi government WAS solidified – and it was led by a cruel despot named Saddam Hussein. After the Gulf War, US and Brit troops performed dozens of illegal sorties, destroying water, electricity, and power infrastructures. Then we wonder why there’s so much resistance when we drop the charade and invade.

    The current plan to stabilize Iraq won’t work because it’s broken by design. Saddam was a dangerous prick, Osama is a dangerous prick, fine. KILL THEM, and don’t leave any fingerprints. Don’t march in there waving a flag and calling it a crusade because you were too cheap and impatient to let the intelligence community do its job proper.

  26. What Patness said.  CIR- You seem to have forgotten that Rambo did not win in Vietnam.  Doesn’t look to be winning in Iraq either.

  27. ? Still not seeing it. Casualties still mounting, US set to withdraw because it’s unable to continue the war, because China stopped lending them the money to do it.

    Which is funny, because we seem to have handed much of the military out to the Shia. One can only hope that they’ll be even-handed in their judgment, because they’ll be in conflict with the Awakening, I suspect – long after we intend to be gone in 2011.

  28. Patness- you’re still not seeing it?  Didn’t you hear Bush declaring victory from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln?  Who are we going to believe- the Head of the Armed Forces or the lying statistics of the leftist press?

  29. If the Iraqis are still fighting, it’s just because they haven’t heard yet that the war is over.  All we need is to get them all good broadband connections.

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