Expert: Current Iraq fighting not good guys vs bad: The Swamp
The Swamp
Posted March 26, 2008 11:01 AM
The Swamp

Iraqi Mahdi Army fighters take position during clashes in the southern city of Bara on March 26, 2008. (Photo: ESSAM AL-SUDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

by Frank James

The battles raging in southern Iraq's Basra are more than a central Iraqi government trying to assert control over the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Instead, it's more complicated, more like a mini civil war between competing Shiite groups vying for power.

This is the take of Anthony Cordesman, the insightful national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Cordesman urges those trying to understand the current turmoil in Basra and elsewhere to avoid oversimplifying the current fighting into a good guys versus bad guys dynamic. In the analysis below, Cordesman refers to the Jaish al Mahdi, or JAM, also known as the Mahdi Army, which is al-Sadr's group and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq led by Shiite cleric Abul Azziz al-Hakim

Much of the current coverage of the fighting in the south assumes that Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sadr militia are the "spoilers," or bad guys, and that the government forces are the legitimate side and bringing order. This can be a dangerous oversimplification. There is no question that many elements of the JAM have been guilty of sectarian cleansing, and that the Sadr movement in general is hostile to the US and is seeking to enhance Muqtada al-Sadr's political power. There is also no doubt that the extreme rogue elements in the JAM have continued acts of violence in spite of the ceasefire, and that some have ties to Iran. No one should romanticize the Sadr movement, understate the risks it presents, or ignore the actions of the extreme elements of the JAM.

But no one should romanticize Maliki, Al Dawa, or the Hakim faction/ISCI. The current fighting is as much a power struggle for control of the south, and the Shi'ite parts of Baghdad and the rest of the country, as an effort to establish central government authority and legitimate rule.

The nature of this power struggle was all too clear during a recent visit to Iraq. ISCI had de facto control over the Shi'ite governorates in the south, and was steadily expanding its influence and sometimes control over the Iraqi police. It was clearly positioning itself for power struggle with Sadr and for any elections to come. It also was positioning itself to support Hakim's call for a nine governorate Shi'ite federation -- a call that it had clear Iranian support.

The US teams we talked to also made it clear that these appointments by the central government had no real popular base. If local and provincial elections were held with open lists, it was likely that ISCI and Dawa would lose most elections because they are seen as having failed to bring development and government services.

There was no real debate over how bad the overall governance of the south was at the provincial level, how poor the flow of capital was from the central government in Baghdad, and how poor government-related services were even in Shi'ite areas. As recent ABC polls show, incompetence and corruption are not sectarian. The south may be more secure, but Shi'ites only receive marginally better treatment from the central government than Sunnis.

Members of the US team differed over how much the Sadrists had a populist base and broad support among the poor Shi'ite Iraqis in the south, and how well the Sadrists could do in any provincial and local elections, although most felt Sadr still had a broad base of support in Baghdad. One of the key uncertainties that emerged during visits to the south was over how elections would shape up when there were no real political parties operating with local leaders, and in a framework of past national elections that only allowed Iraqis to vote for entire lists (most with many totally unfamiliar names) for the main parties and that made no allowance for the direct election of members of the COR that represented a given area or district. Optimists hope for a populist upswell; realists foresee an uncertain mess.

There were also differences over how much Sadr was waiting out the effort to defeat Al Qa'ida before allowing the JAM to become active again, and how much he was repositioning himself to strengthen his political and religious position for a more normal political life. In practice, he may be doing both, may be as confused by the uncertain nature of Iraqi politics and security as everyone else, and may be dealing with a movement so fractured and diverse that effective control of even its mainstream is difficult to impossible.

It was also clear that Basra was a special case. The British position had essentially eroded to the point of hiding in the airport. There was a fair amount of bluster about joint planning, training, and patrols, but little evidence of substance. Moreover, the power struggle in Basra differed sharply from the struggle in the other Shi'ite provinces. Basra was essentially divided up among Shi'ite party mafias, each of which had its own form of extortion and corruption. They sometimes fought and feuded, but had a crude modus vivendi at the expense of the rest of the nation. Basra also had far more Iranian penetration in both the civil and security sectors than the other Shi'ite governorates. However, it was clear that Iran and the Al Quds force continued to be equal opportunity supporters of all the Shi'ite militias, and that Iran effectively was ensuring that it would support the winner, regardless of who the winner was.

This does not mean that the central government should not reassert control of Basra. It is not peaceful, it is a significant prize as a port and the key to Iraq's oil exports, and gang rule is no substitute for legitimate government. But it is far from clear that what is happening is now directed at serving the nation's interest versus that of ISCI and Al Dawa in the power struggle to come. It is equally far from clear that the transfer of security responsibility to Iraqi forces in the south is not being used by Maliki, Al Dawa, and ISCI to cement control over the Shi'ite regions at Sadr's expense and at the expense of any potential local political leaders and movements. Certainly, the fact that these efforts come after ISCI's removal of its objections to the Provincial Powers Act may not be entirely coincidental.

Is the end result going to be good or bad? It is very difficult to tell. If the JAM and Sadr turn on the US, or if the current ISCI/Dawa power grab fails, then Shi'ite on Shi'ite violence could become far more severe. It is also far from clear that if the two religious-exile parties win, this is going to serve the cause of political accommodation or legitimate local and provincial government. It seems far more likely that even the best case outcome is going be one that favors Iraqracy over democracy.

This is the complicated internecine conflict U.S. military forces still find themselves refereeing as the conflict enters its sixth year. As Cordesman suggests, the best case scenario may be a governing arrangement that doesn't resemble anything like the kind of democracy Americans are accustomed to.

But that would be far superior in the eyes of many Americans to the worst-case scenario, which would be the Shiite militias turning their weapons once again on U.S. forces.

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Now McCain's head is really spinning if you can't set it up as good guys vs. bad guys.

He's still trying to figure out the difference between the Shi'ia and the Sunni.

Most of the unrest in Iraq has been of a civil war between internal groups. It has never ended, just put on ice for awhile. The Ultimate set down by the existing Iraq Government will not stop anything but will simply imflame it further.

The internal issues of Iraq will never be completely settled by our occupation and this has been the issue that bush and the Republicans has refused to consider. The political situation in Iraq must be resolved by the Iraq people and it may take a civil war to bring that about. Certainly, America cannot force a permenant concensus. We are an unwelcome presence are better off for Iraq and America to be out of this country.

There's only one thing you can count and that is the pieces of trash that are the Lefty Loons will be on whichever side they want to defeat America. After all its what their ilk is all about. Getting excited over the deaths of Americans and hoping that one day America will lie in a pile of rubble and everyone will be jobless is their MO. Lefty Loons, truly the worst mankind has to offer.

This is what was noted as a reason for NOT INVADING IRAQ before Bush decided it was a "good idea". McBush thinks it was a GOOD IDEA. Problem is, most Americans now think it was a BAD IDEA. One more reason to NOT vote for McBush.

This story cannot be true because as we have all been told repeatedly, "the surge is working." Let's talk about Obama's former pastor a little more.

Success of the Surge due to the increase in troops or due to Muqtada al-Sadr's willingness to use diplomacy?


Important to keep in mind that the dynamic described in the article is not unusual for a democratic government anywhere in the world. The actions of government officials are always, in some measure politically motivated. Even keeping security, a state function, can be "easier" to accomlish when your enemies are also political opponents. Just as in America, the official actions of government don't always mean they are the actions of the "good guys". Nevertheless, the sovereign must exercise a monopoly on the use of force. That's even true under a dictator. Here, even though certain factions have greater influence than others over the operations of the Iraqui government, there is at least a sharing of power to an extent unknown under Saddam's dictatorship. This is the essence of democracy. It is good to critique the shortcomings, but we should be careful about writing them off because they don't exhibit qualities (selfless, apolitical devotion to the rule of law) that we are ourselves don't fully possess.

This story cannot be true because as we have all been told repeatedly, "the surge is working." Let's talk about Obama's former pastor a little more.

Posted by: Paul | March 26, 2008 12:12 PM

I believe we should also talk about his grandfathers religion right after we talk about his middle name. After all, how else can you figure out how to fix Social Security, keep American's jobs from going overseas, and fix healthcare?

This story cannot be true because as we have all been told repeatedly, "the surge is working." Let's talk about Obama's former pastor a little more.

Posted by: Paul | March 26, 2008 12:12 PM

I believe we should also talk about his grandfathers religion right after we talk about his middle name. After all, how else can you figure out how to fix Social Security, keep American's jobs from going overseas, and fix healthcare?

Posted by: jethro | March 26, 2008 12:35 PM

No, you're both missing the most critical issue in this campaign: The wearing of flag pins.

The ongoing failure in Iraq pales in siginicance when considered against wearing pin on your jacket.

Bill R., I know that you're devoted to being dumb for life as part of the lefty platform you adhere to, but you should at least TRY to substantiate what you say before posting it. Most Americans support the war and support our troops, unlike you.

Here's the poll to prove it:

Correcting you is starting to become a full-time job.











Bill R., I know that you're devoted to being dumb for life as part of the lefty platform you adhere to, but you should at least TRY to substantiate what you say before posting it. Most Americans support the war and support our troops, unlike you.
Posted by: Jeff | March 26, 2008 1:45 PM

I'm to I won't be able to open this post with such eloquence. However, you should actually read the post before spewing....This is what is written.....

Problem is, most Americans now think it was a BAD IDEA.

So Jeff..

According to the article you site, 53% of Americans (up from 42% in Sept.) believe "the U.S. will ultimately succeed in achieving its goals" in Iraq.

Can you tell me what those goals are? Does "ultimately" mean 100 years? How is this all worth trillions of dollars and thousands of lives?

The article also says this:

The percentage of those who believe the war in Iraq is going “very well” or “fairly well” is also up, from 30 percent in February 2007 to 48 percent today.

If you've read the Newsweek article, the Stones article, the statements by Petraeus himself, or kept track of recent statistics on the violence in Iraq, there is no evidence to support the public perception that things are better today than they were a month ago, NONE.

Supporting our troops means bringing them home from Bush's fiasco. The so-called "surge" has accomplished nothing in terms of a political solution--it's stated goal.

Nixon got another 20,000 U.S. troops killed in Vietnam knowing the war couldn't be won militarily but wanting to save face. What would McBush be willing to sacrifice in search of the same meaningless "Peace with Honor"?

Bill R. fought in Vietnam, a war fought before you were even born. He knows something about futile and senseless wars. You're just another chickenhawk member of the 101st fighting GOP keyboard commandos, Yoder.


This is what happens when someone lets out the real story in Iraq (from CBS News):

Oh, and Jeff, embrace your one "proof-positive" poll for March. I guess the facts on the ground don't interest you. Talk to me in April when the fickle Faux News-fed-public, reassesses.

We were declaring "victory" in Vietnam before the "Tet Offensive", too. When are you going to recognize that it is the job of the military to lie to us. How else can they justify a trillion-a-year budget?

Actually DT, I was born before Vietnam ended but you're right that I was quite young during the Nixon years.

Bill, what exactly does that prove? We're there now, pal. I know it's the lefty wetdream to go back in time and stop the war from starting, but I've got some news for you guys: it happened. You can't unstrike that match.

I actually read the Newsweek article but everything you say contradicts it. McCain ran down the statistics that do support that things are better today than they were back then.

p.s. What's a Yoder?

DTony, Iraq isn't Vietnam and you weren't there. If Bill R. wants to make a comment about Vietnam I'm more than welcome to his learned opinion. But yours is nothing more than invalid comparisons.

What the BUsh Droolers forget. We already "WON" the war in IRAQ. We are now simply backing a government which is run by Maliki and the Da'awa party. A party founded and funded from IRAN and which is a virulently anti-american party. Yet, the Bush Droolers continue to believe "We are winning"? Stupidity amongst the Bush Droolers, hasn't been seen since the Darwin awards were announced.

I think we should just leave and let al-Sadr take power and let the middle east destroy itself and take Israel with it and stop trying to fix the worlds problems. Fixing the worlds problems is why we have celebrities, let them waste their lives on foolish crusades that accomplish nothing.

what do they mean when they say "the surge is working"?

"You can't unstrike that match"

Yes, but you can stop wandering around the burning house in a gasoline soaked suit.

When has it EVER been "good guys vs. bag guys with you moral equivocators in the press? To you it's just been one group of terrorists (US) fighting another (Al Qaeda).

I'm staring to understand why you libs are so willing to give Rev. Wright a pass on saying that the only difference between the US and Al Qaeda are the flags they fly. He's preaching to the choir on that one, isn't he?

McCain's superflous memory should be the voting crux of the Americans come Nov 2008. How can he? By the time somebody swore McCain into office, he might forget who the woman standing to him next is. Or he might swear into a Playboy rather than the Bible. Or he might even invite Joe Lieberman and call him Chief !!!
Such a waste for an old man whom history has already placed him in waxed.


What's a Yoder? Ha, ha, that's funny.

I was on the Berkeley campus protesting the illegal, unjust, Vietnam civil war. I was also a member of the Air National Guard during that period (and, unlike Dubya, I attended).

There are several similarities between Vietnam and Iraq (read The March of Folly, Tuchman).

Both had elements of a civil war and insurgencies.

Neither could be won militarily.

We entered both with unclear objectives and unrealistic expectations:

Vietnam, to prevent the spread of communism, even if it meant propping up a brutal, corrupt dictatorship. The "Dominoes Theory" (that era's fear-factor) proved to be a bogus assumption borne of ignorance. Nixon promised to get us out in 6 months, but kept the war going another 3 years despite overwhelming evidence that we couldn't prevail (short of unacceptable measures such as the use of nuclear weapons or killing scores (more) civilians through the indiscriminate bombing of levees to flood the North).

And Iraq? Which version do you want? Version 1; stop the potential use of WMD, of which there were none. Version 2; to rid the world of a brutal dictator (one that we supported when he was gassing his own people and killing Iranians). He was just as brutal then, Jeff. Version 3; Create an American-style liberal democracy in Iraq, a "beacon of democracy" for the Middle East. Never mind that Saudi Arabia, home of the extremist Wahhabi Islamists and home to most of the 9/11 hijackers is undemocratic, and we support them. Same with Pakistan, and several other dictatorships. Version 4; forget an American-style, liberal democracy (no chance there), we'll settle for a Shia theocracy because that's the best we can hope for. Version 5; just give us a stable Iraq so we can get the hell out with some semblance of honor.

Now, we're told "if we don't fight them there, they'll follow us here" or, if we leave, the whole Middle East will erupt into caos. To the first part, more b.s. from the fear-mongers. To the second, the Middle East is more dangerous now than before we invaded Iraq. Our continued presence is now part of the problem, not the solution. If we stay indefinitely with anywhere near the current levels of commitment our national treasury will go broke, our military will weaken, and our country will tear itself apart. Sound familiar?

We were there when it happened before, Jeff, and it wasn't pretty. You buy the lie if you want, but If "your side" prevails in the argument (if McCain is reelected) it means "stay the course."

So Jeff, while you were in diapers, we heard all this same dissembling before. Different place, same b.s. You'll excuse us if we don't buy into it this time.

US will win the war on the day they start telling the truth, because truth always wins. At the moment US has spent more than $3,000,000,000,000 and it still hasn't learned anything, and it continues to lie everyday. Spending another 3,000,000,000,000 will still not win the war, only the military industrial complex will get richer.

Where is Alexander the Great? He knew how to deal with Iran (persia)

To all Iraqis living in this country or those who came here since the war in Iraq started. You came here for protection. You came here to enjoy the freedoms that are here. You came here to enjoy the freedom of speach that is not allowed in Iraq, In other words you came here to enjoy the "Good Life". What I would like to know is why you are here, And are not back in Iraq Helping your countrymen win the war that it will take to enjoy those freedoms in your home country. Were I you I would not be able to look my countrymen in the eye's nor be able to hold my head up high because my countrymen would see me as a coward, And traitor to my country. They fight and die to obtain a "Democratic Govrnment" to ensure those freedoms for you to return to. But what will they think of you if they win the battle and succeed in getting that government formed the way it should be. You may go back but I doute that they will recognise you, And who can blame them. You don't deserve those freedoms because you were'nt willing to fight for them. So Sad.

Looks like Jeff just got owned


Of course I meant if McCain is elected (or McBush re-elected). And no, we can't turn back the clock, but we don't have to walk off the cliff, either.

You continually deride the "liberal agenda", but somehow expect us to embrace more of the conservative agenda that has been an unqualified disaster over the past seven years. Bill r is right, voting GOP means voting McBush and more of the same.


This poll
you showed does not say

"Most Americans support the war and support our troops"

it only says more people now BELIEVE

“the U.S. will ultimately succeed in achieving its goals” in Iraq.


"the war in Iraq is going “very well” or “fairly well”

these are VIEWS towards how the war will turn out not whether we like(SUPPORT) the purpose of this war.

I shared some of those views in the poll but still do not support the claimed purpose of this war.

It's like asking people which horse will win the Derby but same as asking whether they support the gambling of Derby

You said,

"Correcting you is starting to become a full-time job."

But, first correct yourself in understanding the poll and how some(not all) journalists or propagandists mis-use of data.

dt: one other stiking similarity between 'Nam and Iraq is the fact that both were engineered by cheap-ass little Texas pols whose grandiose dreams of being a 'war president' far outstripped whatever common sense either had ever possessed.

BTW,'jeff' sounds remarkably like a totally biased, psuedo-intellect, with whom I argue regularly on another venue. He is impervious to facts and/or sane logic.

Okay lets say the surge brought down the everyday violence that occurs in iraq. Did that "surge' actually made the shiites more cooperative with the other shiite political parties? or with the Sunnis or the Kurds?? Did the surge or say another "bush's surge" will force the shiites to cooperate with the sunnis or the kurds, and vice versa? Wars or "street battles'among the warring factions are fought mainly because of the Iraqis political differences. U.S. can put 100,000 more combat troops in Iraq but those troops are not pointing a gun on the shiites, sunnis, and kurds head telling them to make amends/cooperate with each other or else! It is the iraqis choice to get along or not!!! our presence will not force them to cooperate with each other. Why are we shoving "democracy" upon the iraqis? It will not work!the way we want it!! they have a different set of beliefs, of culture, way of thinking, perception of the world etc. and mindset on how to solve things. All the warring factions were kept in checked by Saddam when he was in power. How can we control warring factions if they are not scared of someone? (saddam was there) Hard to accept but thats how it is! and you all know it, Saddam kept them in Check!! I'm not defending saddam but merely pointing out that in order for peace or any semblance of peace to occur in Iraq, they need someone to rule them AGAIN with an IRON hand!! that is the hard reality that we have to accept. And for that to happen, Sorry but this democracy that we try to instill upon them have to be skipped. Let them learn democracy in there own way and TERMS and however they want to achieve democracy! If its civil war.... Then. This country (U.S.) also had its own civil war to learn democracy in its own way! Let us not be referees anymore of a country that "IN GENERAL" do not welcome our presence. Okay if we decide to be referees for the iraqis at the same time sitting ducks for the insurgents over there, question is how long?? how long are we prepared to prop a government that do not want to make political progress/accomodations with other parties thereby contributing to the violence and LENGHTENS our needed prescence there (Iraq). People say that well we are still in S.Korea, and we are also in germany and we occupied japan, so why not iraq. Iraq cannot be compared to those countries, we fought a legitimate army a "TANGIBLE" force, when we defeated those forces we stayed in those countries and there were no insurgencies, suicide bombings etc. The people of Japan accepted a country that defeated them and was cooperative with U.S. rebuilding effort. In S.Korea as an ally and also in germany as an ally against the looming Soviet threat. Compare that to Iraq, we are fighting a guerilla warfare over there? can someone please enlighten me as to how are we going to defeat an enemy that is your friend when you are facing them but could be an insurgent when we are turn around! Oh and labeling everyone that fires on a US soldier either an insurgent or a terrorist, Hey we dont know if that guy is a legitimate insurgent or just an angry brother who wants a payback because his brother was accidentaly killed by US troops ie: friendly fire. Its so easy to just categorize everyone who fires at US troops as insurgents or terrorists, I guess its easier for the general american citizen to support the war if its presented that way! What if that guy who decides to commit a suicide bombing was the husband of a slain woman accidentaly killed by US forces/contractors??... ever thought about that... How can we defeat all the insurgents? the whole Iraqi populace is a pool of POSSIBLE FUTURE insugents or terrorist,a simple incident might turn the "once" friendly mind of a young iraqi teen ager into an "american" hating mind set. My point is, we will not completely eradicate the "Insurgency" in iraq because of so much variables. Add to this the political instability and that we are already fighting a modern guerilla warfare and we have our boots stuck there for a very long time. IF YOU TRULY, AND I MEAN TRULY SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. THEN BRING THEM HOME FROM HARMS WAY!! This war is becoming pointless and also self destructive to the american economy.. At this point bottom line, The president Is "SAVING FACE" from his miscalculations, Come on dont be Dumb!! DO you really think, he will admit that this war was a mistake,.. of course he will try all his efforts to save face and not be an embarasement to the BUSH clan, and to the whole world. Imagine that will be the legacy that he will leave on that famous family. Also the republican party will not allow him to admit that because that will cost them in the elections to come in the future so they go along with Mr.Bush!! For those who supports this war, be the first to enlist your sons or daughters when the armed forces can no longer satisfy their monthly recruiting quotas. The long and repeated deployments are straining the well being of the armed forces and other nations are not blind they can see this!! U.S is caught between two rocks courtesy of the president. If we leave iraq, maybe Civil war!! on our watch. If we stay, HHHMmmmnn.. how many thousands more souls are we able to sacrifice in order to baby-sit an incapable iraqi government and say..a Trillion dollars by then! But hey Mr. Bush dont care, he is about to leave the office so its time "to Pass the buck"!!!

*Site Owner please post my comment in its entirety,thanks.

Iraq is not Viet Nam. Once we got out of Viet Nam, the nationalists consolidated power over a country with an identity grounded in centuries of history. When we get out of Iraq, groups will continue fighting for control of territory defined by lines drawn on maps by ministers in London, Paris and Brussels in the aftermath of WWI. And they'll be fighting over real estate that lies over a commodity on which the world economy depends.

We're all supposed to be dead, according to junior, when history judges his performance. It won't take that long, boy, it won't take that long at all. Besides, it would only be fitting for the vicious idiot to behold the horrors he has set in motion.

The artificially created country of Iraq is one of the most complicated and messed up countries on Planet Earth. Saddam and his regime's demise is one of the best things that happened the civilized World. The cost in lives lost was HUGE by our standards but the Earth is a much safer and better place now. There will be trumoil in Iraq for some time to come (Iran and the Saudis will not want a peaceful, prosperous, democratic country right next to them) but at the end there will be peace and we'll have a US-friendly Iraq.

Get real! JAM are the bad guys. They killed more Americans in 2006 and 2007 than Al Qaida and all the other Sunni groups combined. We should have arrested Muqtada Al-Sadr and declared JAM a hostile force years ago. If we had, the war might have been won by now. The sooner we crack down on those bastards the better. We should do it now, before the rest of the surge forces go home.

The first Gulf War and the current war in Iraq are fruitless efforts to sustain a set of borders drawn about 90 years ago by disinterested outsiders. We dress up this reality with flimsy political excuses (WMD, defeat a dictator, protect oil, fight terrorism, etc.) Saddam Hussein kept the lid on just as Tito did in Yugoslavia. The borders of the middle east must be redrawn. This could be done with negotiation, but most likely will occur with bloodshed. The best the USA can do is avoid having it be our blood that is shed. After 5 years it is clear that we cannot bring the control that the Sadam dictatorship did, nor is it worth our while to spend our blood and treasure to do so.

The fact is that we went in Iraq to remain there indefinitely in order to secure its oil resources. This is a must to ensure survival of US economy and our dominance in the world by ensuring adequate energy for our consumption and growth. This is the only reason we went in the first place, and despite all the rackets the objective is working. If we can’t get it for free, we install our own puppet regime and force it to the population. We did it when we installed Saddam in power and the cycle continues now with the next puppet government.

As long as the corporate empire shows record profits, everyone and everything else is dispensable. Only two ways to this endless cycle of destruction: 1. Eventually we overwhelm the natural resources and destroy the earth and human dominance as we know it. 2. We refuse to be mindless consumers caught up in a buying frenzy to add to our useless material wealth and stop participating in the daily rat race of driving 2 hrs or more to work for sake of more useless riches. The choice is yours.

Sometimes I think we forget the hard times. That the United State went throught.. Years before Iraq will be well off. We already trying to write history in the books. When we know history takes years of facts and knowledge!

The analogy to Vietnamization is interesting, and in many regards parallel to whats going on now in Iraq. Both the much ballyhooed, but disappearing Iraqi army insurgent sweep of Mosul and now the sweep of Basra recall the incursions into Cambodia and Laos by the ARVN (with U.S.assistance) that were largely conceived of as PR campaigns. Designed as demonstration models to showcase Nixons program of turning over the war to the Vietnamese, for the purposes of showing the progress of ARVN military development (and competence) politically, that was suppose to intimidate the VC and NVA. It also allowed Nixon to to claim steps were being taken to wind down the war as so promised in the last election. And he began to withdraw large numbers of troops, both out of combat rolls and out of country.

The problem was that both ARVN operations into Cam&Laos turned out to be minor disasters, that if they demonstrated anything, it was the means and manner of the incompetence of the ARVN. Not the least of which turned out to be the enormous gulf in commitment and motivation compared to especially the NVA.

And what I suspect is also (motivation & commitment) the great failing of the current Army fielded by the Maliki government. Because unlike SVietnam, the Maliki government has virtually no political currency within the population. And therefore, the army. Even compared to Thieu, Maliki is on very thin ice, with many armed men within his military who are if not unmotivated, are alternately motivated, against his rule. Every time he announces one of these showcase operations to (please the occupier) he demonstrates the
exact geography of his weakness.

I just cannot believe that there are so many comments, but nobody is talking about a real solution. The real solution is to divide Iraq into three part, and create totally independent three countries. Without doing that there won’t be any peace or democracy in Iraq. Neither success on war on terror because Iraq will continue be the best breeding land for terrorists.
Even if we send 500, 000 more soldiers, lost 40,000 more young American life, and send all our budget there none of these will improve the situation there.
If there are still some one out there can think that Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis can live together after all these blood sheet ,they should be out of their mind.
It is exactly like Kurdish area, when they were tied to central government, 10 years ago there were always clashes between different parties. When ever they got separated from Central government they found a way make peace with each other , and they made best democracy and peace out of Iraq with least sources.
Common we created over 20 Sunni Arabic countries, and to defend a little one`s (Kuwait’s) independents we got into war? Why not create three more countries that should have been separated to begin with.

what i don't understand is we went into iraq so Americans would be safer.But all we accomplished was giving Iran more very valuable real Estate.Iran has it's hand in almost every aspect of iraqi government, malitias, and any other group that wants to kill Americans. Thay crazy , lying,towel head next door is laughing his ass off.Now if Iran is supporting and supplying weapons to , and training these groups to kill Americans , than why doesn't Bush have the balls to stand up and go after the real root of the problem. i think a few well placed , low level nuclear runs over tehran just might send them a message that we are not putting up with the actions of a an extremly crazy regime that i don't have to remind you took over our embassy and held our country men and women , hostage for well over a year.If we are a super power out to save the world , than we must start by destroying a small part of it, in particular , that little piece of real estate a few hundred miles to the east of where we have a sufficient amount of personnel , and definitly enough hardware to get the job done. and if they worry about hurting civilians they can drop leaflets letting them know what is coming and if you want to be a martyr, then by all means , stay right where you are . We will be glad to help you out.

Back off on Iraqis living in the US. You realize that Iraq had an 8 year war with Iran before the Bush Sr. offensive. Can you imagine how many Iraqi men are dead because of successive wars for the last 30 years! How many Iraqis may have come here with their widow mothers or how many escaped sectarian and imperialist strong arming. If I were Iraqi, I hope I would fight but I also might want to get the hell out until it settled down. It's easy to critize when hundreds of thousands of your countrymen have not been killed. War count for US: 4k Iraq, 3k 9/11, unknown in Afghanistan. War count Iraq: `150-340k Iran (Federation of American Scientists; up to 650k in this war; and from bush sr war about 3k. So somewhere between 3/4 to one million Iraqis have died fighting or as civilian deaths of war in Iraq. One million compared to our 7k is pretty flimsy, so back off on the criticism of Iraqis living in the US. We do want there to be Iraqis alive after the war don't we?

Regarding comparisons between Iraq and "Vietnam", it is important to remember that the United States suffered its' first combat death in South Vietnam on December 22, 1961 (the day I was born) and Richard M. Nixon was not in the White House at that time. Also, we didn't leave for almost 15 years after that. It should also be recalled that American Military forces were not allowed to engage the enemy (North Vietnam) on their soil but had to limit themselves to defensive action. When I read comments stating the "Vietnam War" could not be won militarily, I am forced to wonder how any enemy could be defeated without attacking it at its' home. I read many of you calling the war in South Vietnam a "civil war", yet North and South Vietnam were seperate countries until shortly after we (The US) surrendered South Vietnam to the communist forces of North Vietnam. I am still waiting to hear how many South Vietnamese we abandoned were executed after the communist takeover. I see few similarities between Vietnam and Iraq, other than the constant anti-war rhetoric of the liberals. I am curious how many of you were at the airports throwing feces at our soldiers returning from Vietnam. I will never forget the faces of the ex-POWs I saw welcomed in such a manner at Travis AFB. While I believe we were foolish for putting "boots on the ground" in Iraq, I fully support the destruction of the regime of Saddam Hussein. I simply think we should bomb our enemies until they surrender, and then have the entire local populace elect a new government from the ground up, not the top down. I also do not think we should have entered the conflict in Vietnam, however; once there we should have used everything at our disposal to crush North Vietnam, and I have always found it repugnant that we abandoned our allies to the communist executioners. To abandon our Iraqi allies who are striving for freedom and democracy would simply prove we learned nothing from our Vietnam experience.

The United States can stay in Iraq for 10 weeks or 10 years, but mark my word,10 minutes after we leave, they will have a civil war.

Anonymous D,

You equate the "lefty loons" desire for an end to the war to them hating America. You do this because you are of low intelligence.

We went there to find WMD's and didn't find any. Instead of leaving, we occupied their palaces, had sex with their children and then killed those children's parents, put KKK hoods and dog collars on them for dragging them around naked, illegally dispersed their military and civil structures, killed men, women, and children for revenge, and generally created the chaos that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Your dear, beloved leaders not only were so hopelessly stupid in the prosecution of this war, but Bush himself has handed Iraq - the 4th largest reserves of oil - to Iran on a silver platter.

And you call us Un-American? If you represent what America is supposed to look like, then we lost before we even started.

When I read these comments the only thing I can think of is that liberal democrats are racist pigs. You all think the Iraqi people are incapapble of living in peace and are just going to end up killing each other regardless of what we do or anyone else for that matter. In my opinion that is a disgusting position. Victory is near and I just hope that McCain can take us to the finish line. Those of you trying to spread around that junk, McBush and Bush's third term don't have a clue. Look at all the polls, McCain beats both of your canidates, oh I forgot you don't even have that decided yet. What a disgrace you all are!

I just can't get the fact right.. what is the purpose the president went to war in iraq it just to topple saddam? I mean now he is dead , and we won ,but in disgraced as there is no actual proof of WMD n without UN approval. so why are we still there?

And how come the oil increases significantly when we are at war ? it is a burden to everyone of us. And half trillion have been spent on war that could actually help our current economy..which is now in recession. Can something be done?

Posted by: Robert Peery | March 26, 2008 8:18 PM

That's pretty dumb.

The reason immigrants have come here for 200 years is to seek a better life than what they had in their "own" country. Or to escape an oppressive government. It is actually quite "courageous" to leave your roots and try to begin a new life. The United States "is" their country now. They do not need to feel any sense of duty or loyalty to their "homeland".

Recall the words on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your poor, tired, hungry, etc..." That is what our country should be about. If you wish to "COME HERE" to seek a better life for you and your family, we will welcome you with open arms. What the United States CANNOT DO, is to use its military power to try and FORCE other countries to change their govenrment or ways of life.

A civil war in Iraq should come as no suprise. After the invasion, al-Qaeda took advantage of the insurgency to entrench itself in the country concurrently with an Arab-Sunni led insurgency and sectarian violence.

Even in the sixteenth and seventeenth century The Safavids had converted to Shi'a Islam and were perceived as a grave danger to the Sunni orthodoxy of the Ottoman Empire. This basically proves that violence is forever in that region. If there is a battle worth being fought...why not fight it over religion and faith. THAT RIGHT THERE SHOULD TELL PEOPLE THAT RELIGION IS A FARSE!!!

Matt (Anonymous),
One question for you ! IF you are so in agreement with what is going on in the Middle East, why then are you sitting on your duff here in the U.S. of A. ?
Go get yourself a gun and head on over. Unless you are willing to do this, your support for this war means very little to very few !
Everyone who voted for Bush the second term should either, A. send a loved one, or. B. go themselves. Your words carry little weight whatsoever !

Make yourself useful to your cause ! Be the Patriot you claim yourself to be !

It's not too late to throw McCain out of the GOP and nominate Dr. Ron Paul, endorsed by Michael Schueur, head of the Bin-Laden unit in the CIA

I would just like to say that current US involvement in Iraq is the most astounding foreign policy mistake in the history of the US. We have managed to create a new Lebanese Civil War which will go on for decades. Chinese occcupation of Tibet is mild compared with the US occupation of Iraq and we really have no way out except to create a massive pan national humanitatian catastrophe in the cradle of civilization and the epi-center of worldwide oil supply. Dumb Dumb Dumb.

Whether or not it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place is completely irrelevant now. It is crystal clear to anyone with an IQ over 85 that leaving Iraq in turmoil would be very bad for all parties involved except Al Quaeda and Iran. Last time I checked Al Quaeda and Iran weren't bastions of light and hope for the world...

"Chinese occcupation of Tibet is mild compared with the US occupation of Iraq"

These words could only be uttered by someone who knows absolutely nothing about China's raping of Tibet.

As Bertrand Russell said, "War does not determine who is right, only who is left."

Why are Iraq war opponents assumed to be lefties. True conservatives hate the idea of governmental functionaries engaging in foreign nation-building exercices. Actually, the idea of overthrowing a mean and nasty dictator so that we can bring freedom and happiness to the oppressed population is a very liberal concept. If Bill Clinton had led us into this foreign misadventure, we would have heard non-stop criticism from the right.

With the passage of 1 law the question of staying in Iraq could be solved. Require front line combat duty for all military aged children/grandchildren of the Executive branch and members of congress. I assure you if the Bush girls were on the front lines risking their lives papa Bush would declare victory and would remove troops in a heartbeat. If this war is about the survival of our country as the Bushies say, why are their kids not fighting in the war? I think that when a politician votes to go to war it should only be done if they feel it important enough to risk their own childs life.

In response to Matt's comment about liberal democrats being racist. My belief that the Iraq people can't live in peace has nothing to do with race but everything to do with religion. As long as they hate each other because of there religion they will never be able to live in peace. The real racist are the right wing republican nuts who feel they have to go to Iraq and save the heathen muslims and instill the believe in the their god

well, now seems a man likes Saddam is needed to curb the sectarian conflicts.

The Mahdi Army under al Sadr is an Iranian proxy... Just as in Lebanon with Hezbollah, Iran is setting up a government within a government through a proxy entity like the Mahdi Army. It's a pity the Iraqis can't see this and the world's media won’t cover this.

Iran will be the only winning in this slow burn civil war.

I just don't understand this mindless support for an obviously failed policy.
Anyone who cannot see that Iraq war was a bad idea truly must be a quasi patriotic sheeple.

We should have gone in. Sadam was a bad guy thumbing his nose at the world. Trouble is, unlike WWII, the terms set on the table weren't Unconditional Surrender. That means a white flag out of every ... I mean EVERY window. The rest of the discussion is mute. We go to war it should be to win.. nothing less. No politics. War and politics are a bad combo. Now, since politics have been introduced into this mess,we should leave. Or, set new terms and finish this.



I think that tin foil hat you are sporting might be a bit small as it appears to be squeezing your brain.

I appreciate the in depth observation of this article. It
is refreshing to see that there are journalists willing to
present the untidy complexity of any situation. Black &
White / Good vs. Bad is what created the nightmare not
just in Iraq but in the Middle East. It is a profound
tragedy to witness the shallowness of perspective and assesment for which we continually settle in our media.
Thank for this in depth and thoughtful perspective.

You people make me sick. Half of you inbred swine sound like the sissies and hermits who will never amount to anything but cynically analyzing matters you either don't understand, or will never be able to do anything about except bitch like little girls. I serve in the military, have spent a total of 14 months in Iraq, and yet when I come home, I see nothing but a bunch of hateful, ungrateful, and yellow-bellied cowards who don't have the balls to do anything about the war. So you hate the war? You think it's pointless. Run for president, join the military, become a senator. Do something besides bitch and wave your stupid signs at the people who are 24-7 risking their lives so you CAN bitch. Or, go to your local USO, stop whining about what you can't change, and send a courtesy basket to one of our soldiers, who would appreciate that much more than turning on the news and watching idiots from home complain about our troops being gone. It's OUR JOB dumb ass, and if you don't like it, tough titty. We understand the committment we've made, and we understand the choices that we made when we joined up. The sad fact is that we have to protect the pansies along with the patriots.

to Jerry Joe: this article does not deny that Iran has ties to Sadr's group; what it points out is that Iran ALSO has ties to Sadr's rival militia, the Hakim group or "Badr Brigades" which in turn are allied with the Maliki government. Guess what that means? It means that even if the Iraqi government succeeds in crushing the JAM, Iran will STILL have a proxy, only this time rockets launched at the Green Zone will be coming from "rogue elements" of the Hakim militia instead of the Sadr militia. Do you really care which one they fly from?

I dont think there will be a lasting peace until all militias like Al sadr's militia are intact.One Iraq should have just one army. The government of Iraq should start dismantling those militias now or never. We all known that American support wont last forever, as soon as the democrats takes over the white house and start talking about withdrawing, Al Sadr's militias with no doubt ,with the help of Iran will try to take over Iraq. Why do you think Al Sadr keep those militias intact? Maybe waiting for American withdrawal then do what they intented to do, after all those militias dont really have any purpose by power.

The heart of what Cordesman is saying is here:

There was no real debate over how bad the overall governance of the south was at the provincial level, how poor the flow of capital was from the central government in Baghdad, and how poor government-related services were even in Shi'ite areas. ... incompetence and corruption are not sectarian. ... Shi'ites only receive marginally better treatment from the central government than Sunnis.

The problem isn't who the American's are choosing as their current prom dates and who we siding against as "bad guys." The problem is that Maliki, and his Al Dawa, and Hakim and his ISCI have been given all kinds of backing and money and power and have not used that to, in any fashion, make life better for the Iraqis in the South (or anywhere else it seems).

You have the same problem that comes up everywhere in the ME and Egypt, and many places in Africa, but magnified.

The US or Western backed "governments" do not provide, even on a minimal level, for the people. As a result, those who do step in and provide services get populist support, while those affiliated with the government that abandons its people (including their political parties and US/Western gov supporters) become more and more disliked. The provision of support that a corrupt govt does no provide IS the "in" that we hand off to groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and JAM.

Then, when we go in and superimpose "democracy" approach that was supposed to do nothing but keep reinforcing the US selections, and we get shocked when groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and JAM collect all kinds of votes from the people who receive their only support from those groups and who are furious with the corrupt governing parties/persons.

So after the embarassments with votes/support for these groups in the West Bank/Gaza, Egypt, Lebanon, etc. no one wants to deal with elections that will shift balances away from the US backed crew. So the bombing starts.

But the problem is still the same and all we can achieve is postponing the always recurring outcrops from that problem - if government is and remains too corrupt to provide for its citizens, they will keep supporting groups they see as opposed to that corrupt gov or more likely to provide them with what they are seeking, be it food, water, jobs, education, healthcare, etc.

The Iraq war was sold to us using dishonesty. The neocons continue to use dishonesty to justify the war. Solution? Prosecute the criminals that sold us the war. Stop talking. Arrest the scum. Amvet

vaguely relevant and potentially explosive in nature: I was in Kuwait and Baghdad. Bring our boys home. Nationalize the Iraqi oil fields for 10 years to pay reparations. Force gas to $1 a gallon. Bread to a dime, cigarettes to $10 a pack. Beer too! (even though Sam Adams rox!- I'd pay it.) I am a tree-hugger but drill in Alaska! build a water drinking hybrid truck that will tow my wave-runners and go over 50 mph. Decimate the Iranian nuke plant and dare them to retaliate. Set hard, forced labor in prison for mid offenders. Execute them if they are on death row. Child molestors too! I've seen a hot 14 year old and it made me sick what I was thinking when I found out. Cap all the billionaires and sports figures ridiculous incomes and buy housing for the poor and pay off the national debt with it. Wow! I seem to have it all figured out. Taxes: if you make $30,000 you owe $3000 in taxes. If you make $300,000 you owe $60,000 in taxes. Border issues and immigration: oh, dont get me started. More to come. Thanks, fine people, for reading.

The "Iraq Problem" is simply the result of US dependence on resources - Oil - and a commitment to protect Allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia(oil again). The code name for this policy is "in the national interest". The folks on top define those interests, usually to the benefit of themselves and cronies. There wasn't any economic benefit to being in the Sudan or Rwanda, so they only watched.

The "leaders" discovered a population rife with ethnic divisions once the heavy hand of dictatorship was removed. Colin Powell advised that if they broke Iraq they would own it. "Smarter" folks like Rumsfeld and Cheney didn't listen. In desperation to escape that legacy there was an attempt to make the con-artist, Ahmed Chalibi, the head of Iraq and split. Based on ignorance, it failed.

The British bankrupted themselves attempting to maintain access to resources as their colonies, with differing cultures, broke away. We are on the same road, thinking we can keep our access to oil via force in a society that does not respect our culture. Can anyone say $200/barrel oil?

It should be obvious there is no military or democratic political solution to the Iraq problem. Iraqis will ultimately form their own Theocratic-Democratic Hybrid. They will not separate religion and politics.

Our salvation is to become independent of foreign oil as fast as possible and then stop warring for any other reason than defense. We are currently bogged down with some unfounded notion that "winning" the peace in Iraq will solve the real problem.

The real problem is - The US is dependent on critical resources that it doesn't own.

I just love the holier than thou rightwingnuts who try to associate opposition to the war with anti-Americanism. It unthinking fools like them who genufleck to the altar of Bush, sending young men and woman to die for eliminating WMD that never existed, and punish fantasy connections to Al Queda, or pick sides in a sectarian conflict that has nothing to do with 'democracy.'
It's a close minded patriotism that trashes hundreds of years of American nobility for secret spying, imprisonment without trial, and torture.
Bush & Co are criminals who should be in jail.

I think the real question for Iraqis is who will bring them the most benefit. The article above goes to some length to describe how the central government under Maliki has not provided the basic services, such as the water and electricity that people need to have something resembling normality. Nor has the central goverment been able to start a meaningfull process of political reconcilitation, which was the intent of the "surge": to have the US military bring down the level of violence (which did happen, if only temporarily) so that the government could continue the politcal process. That clearly has not happened. So therefore, I can understand why people would put their trust in, and lay down their lives for, an organization like the Jaish al Mahdi. The JAM has been an organization that ostensibly provides security for Shi'ia in Sadr City and southern Iraq. Taking into account the fact that Muqtada al Sadr is an ayatollah, he can easily provide Shi'ites with a sense of cultural and religious unity. That, combined with the legacy of al Sadr's father, and it comes as no surprise that people would follow him. Once again, the Iraqis are going to support someone who is one of them, and can genuinely look after their interests. Could either al Sadr or Maliki effectively rule Iraq as a whole? Doubt it (and the idea of al Sadr in control of Iraq sends shivers down my spine). So that's what makes me think that this whole fight that is going to happen very soon in Basra is as pointless as it is foolish. Lots of people are going to die, we know this. If the Iraqi national forces win, they will likely still be incapable of asserting full control of the region, and will likely not be able to rebuild critical infrastructure. If the militias win, we'll have a much weaker, and further illegitimized central government. So, there goes any chance of political reconciliation. So, what are our solutions? As far as I know, there are none that satisfy everyone involved. We all want to save face, as one commentator put it, but no one is willing to compromise for fear of being called a traitor. I also am concerned about the importance of Basra as a city. It is Iraq's main port city, and shipping route. So the functioning and sharing of this city is vital for the nation as a whole. I don't see much good coming from this battle. What I wonder, though, is what Basra says about what will happen in the rest of the country when we finally pull out of Iraq. The British left a while back, leaving only a few troops stationed in bases outside the city. Now Basra's poised for a fight. We all know that when we leave, violence is going to go up, but when we give the Iraqis a chance to get their affairs in order, try to make peace and move on with their lives, we find that divisions are too great. In that light, I think that, should this fight become yet another drawn out battle with no conclusion, our presence in Iraq is merely delaying the inevitable, and costing us the lives of our soldiers, draining our treasury, irreparably damaging our reputation the world over, and trodding over traditional American values (e.g. Americans don't do things that the Spanish Inquisition did, like torture people). Most importantly, our continued presence in the middle east WILL incite muslim hatred, no matter what reasons we have for being there, hatred which makes us less safe. Some people think this view means I want America to be defeated. Such people I don't think have a realistic idea of what victory and defeat are. This conflict is far from over, and what we need is to be able to free up our resources to intelligently address our threats in the world beyond Iraq, using measured amounts of both soft and hard power. This requires the bitter, and yes, embarrassing pill of a major withdrawal of troops from Iraq. This "defeat" as some put it, is FAR better than pouring our resources, manpower, and wealth into Iraq for the indefinite future, and for no foreseeable gain. THAT is what will bankrupt this country, break our economy, and make us outright vulnerable to attack, and that, my friends, is defeat. One last point, to those who say that when we leave, we leave a vacuum that Al Qaeda will rush to fill. Watch the videos and the pictures from the Iraqi street (which you will not find on CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.). Watch the Iraqi mother wail and tear her hair out in grief because an Al Qaeda bomb (or a JAM bomb for that matter) just killed her son who was buying food at the local outdoor market, and you'll understand. Al Qaeda doesn't care anything for Iraqis, the Iraqis know it, and will fight whatever foreigners try to rule over them. Thank you for letting me rant, it felt good. I just hope we can be civil about a thoroughly uncivil affair. Later.

Well said Mikey M.

You outlined specifically why there is no good solution in Iraq and how staying indefinitely would make us both more vulnerable and bankrupt. We have no friends there among the endlessly warring factions.

Our grandchildren will probably ask "what were they thinking?"

My appreciation to the writers and contributors to this article for not sugar coating the reality of Basra and what it may mean for the rest of Iraq.

Totally agree with you Hugh...We should never have invaded, yes, invaded Iraq in the first place....Oh we had to stop a tyrant who was gassing his own people...why didn't we go in and take out the leaders in Ruwanda who were killing millions of their own people? Hmmm, they didn't have any resources we need? Chenney and Rumsfeldt were willing to do anything to make sure we invaded Iraq. Funny how Haliburton is the main contractor in restoring Iraq. Check out Frontline's documentary called Bush's War on PBS. It includes over 400+ interviews with people who were closely associated to the actions that were taken in the months before invading Iraq and clearly shows how Cheney and Rumsfelt manipulated documents, people, the press and anybody else they had to to make sure this thing went forward....unbelievable.

Frank, you're doing a tiny bit better, but time is running out. The idea that US forces are "refereeing" is already outdated. US forces are clearly supporting the Badr Brigade. If you can't get these simple facts right, something is wrong with you.

Sources tell me your reporting from yesterday IS going to get a lot of public criticism next week. You're going to have to learn to report truth, and not spin.

If you want a better topic, you should start looking into Cheney's meeting two weeks ago. What did he really tell Maliki? You can bet the main subject wasn't Cheney's fervent belief in democracy as symbolized by October provincial elections. Who else knew that Cheney was pushing a fight in Basra? Did the president? Did commanders? If not, wasn't Cheny conspiring to draw American forces into battle?

Vice President Burr was tried for treason. Could Cheney be the next?

I think both Bush and Cheney should be tried now. Lying to the People about the evidence before going to Iraq war alone is a crime and direct violation to our constitution and bill of rights for free press(free flow of information to/for the People) Both of them knew there are more contradicting info but they selectively chose the ones they like to sell war with to us. I NEVER support the decision to go to war, at least not for the grounds they have presented. I found many readers continue to support our government's propaganda simply the words are told by the already known lairs. 600,000 documents seized during the occupation and American chief interrogator of Saddam, Piro also confirmed that Saddam has no connection with Al Qaeda(in fact, he thought of Bin Laden as a lunatic) . Yet, even last week, Cheney still insist Saddam is related to Bin Laden. I wonder how you guys forgot that Bin Laden offered Saudi of his service to take Saddam out during the Kuwait crisis. Saudi decided to ask US(the senior Bush) instead. Where is Cheney at the time. Not born yet or he is so blind with info that he does not know Saddam and Bin Laden are enemies. Of course he knew, just that he has a way of spinning the truth by his careful words and yet people still listen to his eve after the facts are proven he is lying. We been lied to day since day one of the war and yet there so so many still listen these two lairs.

As a soldier myself(and being surrounded by sodiers), the lies being told about us wanting to be over here are just plain ridiculous. I know firsthand, that we havent accomplished no more today than we accomplished 6 years ago when this whole thing began. Not only do we have to fear for our lives outside the gate, we also gotta fear for our lives inside the gate. A lot of soldiers were killed outside of the FOB, but what you dont hear about are the soldiers being killed ON the fob. In "so called" green zones. Rocket and mortar attacks are EVERYDAY. I was watching the state of the union address and all the talk about success was crap. Question..What is success? Is success 32 dead this month, and 29 dead this month? Death is not success, its failure. And death is real. A lot of me and the other soldiers debate on a lot of stuff too, about trillions of dollars get spent and we have to "conserve water", and we barely have internet and phones that work. We would be on the phone talking to our wives, or even on the net one minute...the next minute..NO CONNECTION. Our wives and family care about us, and not only do they watch CNN and see that this war isnt working..they worry about thier loved ones. All of the crap that you hear at the state of the union adresses and the reports that you hear from top officials is GARBAGE!!! The all just wanna get paid, and if the contractors lose thier jobs they get no more money!! If this same amount of money was spent in the states, every homeless person would be off the streets, every kid could go to college,and everyone would have a job. The economy would be booming!! Anybody who lives in Washington DC...go downtown, and look and see how many Homeless people out there. I was SHOCKED to see the nations capitol in such bad shape. Yetwe are in a trillion dollar war and kids 18 to 22 lay in caskets. For what?? The only thing I can get out of it is there has gotta be a hidden agenda. Because anybody who has common sense and watches the NEWS know that this right here aint no joke. Where is the success? Where is the mission accomplished??? If that was so we would all be home.

Jeff, we did not loose the battles following Tet 68 offensive in Vietnam, we wiped out the enemy. They died, of course they did murder a lot of innocent Vietnamese civilians in their little offensive, but that is what communist do.


Supporting our troops means bringing them home from Bush's fiasco. The so-called "surge" has accomplished nothing in terms of a political solution--it's stated goal.

Nixon got another 20,000 U.S. troops killed in Vietnam knowing the war couldn't be won militarily but wanting to save face. What would McBush be willing to sacrifice in search of the same meaningless "Peace with Honor"?

What a crock. The best way you can support MY decision to serve my country on the battlefields of Iraq is for you let that remain my decision. when you man up and come over here and see what is going on in the flesh. Then, and only then, will you be qualified to speak on the topic. This is an all volunteer force. Not the drafted rabble of the Veitnam era. All of todays service members volunteered to be here. I rejoined the army after a 15 year hiatus becuase I wanted to be back where I am right now, in Iraq. We really should have finished the job when I was here in 91 and I fully intend to see it through this time. It doesnt take a very smart person to see the link between Islamic fundamentalists and the spread of terrorism.

wow thee war is HORRIBLE.I already new it was bad but its worse than i thought!!!So god bless are troups(:

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