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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Posted by Jake
One Huge Iraq Post

Bremer Will Return to Iraq to Plan Accelerated Transition (washingtonpost.com)

After discussing various proposals on ways to save Iraq's troubled political transition, Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator L. Paul Bremer said he would return to Iraq to continue 'intense' discussions with the council's 24 members on President Bush's ideas for breaking a logjam on arrangements for selecting a panel to write a new Iraqi constitution before a U.N.-imposed Dec. 15 deadline. Bremer declined to give details on Bush's proposals, saying he had to brief the Governing Council first.

...

He said he did not think it was fair to say that the Governing Council is 'failing' and repeatedly ducked questions on whether disillusionment with U.S. troops and public support in Iraq for an insurgency against the U.S. occupation are increasing.


Then of course there is this, which is not good any way you look at it.

What do you guys think about this?

I can't decide if I think this is the Bush administration rationally changing course to deal with the issues on the ground or whether they have got it in their heads to run from this thing. My first guess is the former, but stories like this make me nervous.

I know that how bad things are in Iraq is being a bit hyped. Here is even more evidence (via InstaPundit).

In spite of the fact that 90% of Iraq is doing great, we still have a problem in 10% of it. We need to fess up to that. A lot people are pushing more troops. I am not entirely convinced that more troops are going to help unless we have a good counterinsurgency strategy as Kristol and Kagan have been advocating.

Josh Chafetz has a good post on the subject:

Attacks like today's, atrocious as they are, don't change that dynamic. And it's heartening to see PM Berlusconi respond that, "No intimidation will budge us from our willingness to help that country rise up again and rebuild itself with self-government, security and freedom."

Second, while it would probably be a good idea to internationalize the peacekeeping force if we had that option -- I don't believe we do, but that's another matter -- I think attacks like today's put the lie to the idea that these attacks might cease if only there were an international force in Iraq. (Lest I be accused of tilting at strawmen, Messrs. Dalyell and Corbyn both made versions of this argument at the Oxford Union debate.) The recent attacks have been against international targets -- the Red Cross, the UN, and now Italian military police.

The people carrying out these attacks -- whether they're Saddam loyalists, al Qaeda members, some other group, or some mixture of the above -- want to force a withdrawl of all international troops. And they want to do it, not because they want to see Iraq run by Iraqis, but because they want to see Iraq run by themselves. But Iraqis really do want a liberal democracy. And as long as they want that, and as long as we have the political will to stay in Iraq until the job is done, then the people carrying out atrocities like these will be defeated.


I think that in the end as long as we have the will to see it through we will be successful. The Iraqis, in contrast to the emerging resistance narrative, are getting just as pissed as we are about the rockets attacks because the attacks are killing a whole lot of Iraqis too. Al Qaeda and the Baathists make a big mistake when they kill their own people because it destroys the us vs. them they have tried so methodically to create. I would push the narrative of emerging support.

So there you go. There is my huge Iraq summary. I am curious to hear your take.

Brian -- This is from the LA Times, via Best of the Web today: U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police arrived at the sprawling three-family farmhouse just after 4 p.m. with orders for the 15 or so people still living there: Grab what you can in the next 30 minutes, and then leave. Your house is about to be bombed.

Two hours later on Monday, a pair of F-16 warplanes screamed overhead and dropped 1,000-pound laser-guided armaments on the boxy, concrete structure. The bombs left a deep crater strewn with smashed furniture, broken concrete and other debris. The lawn, shed and date trees around it remained intact.

U.S. military authorities said the bombing of the Najim family house was a prime example of a firm new response to those who plant roadside bombs, hide weapons or carry out ambushes that kill or harm American soldiers, and they want the people in these parts to know about it. . . .

"The message is this: If you shoot at an American or a coalition force member, you are going to be killed or you are going to be captured, and if we trace somebody back to a specific safe house, we are going to destroy that facility," said Maj. Lou Zeisman, a paratroop officer of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division deployed here from Fayetteville, N.C. "We are not going to take these continuous attacks."


I also fear a bit that we might try to cut our losses and run, but statements like this from the US military make me feel much better. When we make attacking, or supporting an attack on, American troops a cardinal and fatal sin, we make headway. I also genuinely believe that W believes what he says, and I have confidence that he has the guts to see this thing through to the end, no matter what political sacrifice he has to make.


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