Posted By lex, on December 13th, 2011
President Obama said all the right words during Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to the White House this week:Continue reading
Posted By lex, on October 26th, 2011
We spent eight years, close to a trillion dollars, and the lives of 4000 US servicemen to change Iraq from a national security threat into a weakly functioning democracy in the Arab Middle East. At least 100,000 Iraqi citizens lost their lives in that transition. We had the opportunity to establish an toehold in a strategically crucial part of the world from whence we cannot rationally disengage, for all its toxins and no matter our own desires.
The final withdrawal of US forces from that blasted land will come in accordance with a timeline finalized between President Obama’s predecessor and the legally established government of Iraq. Altering that agreement in a way that more closely suited both our own security needs and those of the fledgling Iraqi republic would have required political courage on all parts, and inspired leadership here at home.
Alas, there was none:**
Throughout the summer and autumn, as talks on a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq foundered, President Barack Obama and his point man on Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden, remained largely aloof from the process, logs released by the U.S. Embassy here suggest.
The omission would be an unusual one, given the high priority U.S. officials had given to achieving an agreement for some sort of residual U.S. presence in Iraq after the Dec. 31 pullout deadline, and the White House labeled the suggestion inaccurate. A spokesman said the logs released by the embassy were incomplete.
The listing provided by the embassy _ drawn, the embassy said, from the White House website _ indicates that Obama had no direct contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki between Feb. 13, when he telephoned the prime minister, until Friday, when he called Maliki to tell him U.S. troops would be withdrawn by Dec. 31.
The embassy listing showed that Biden telephoned Maliki on Dec. 21, the day Maliki formed a new government, and visited here Jan. 18, but had no direct contact after that date, according to the official listing.
The White House dismisses the embassy logs, and disputes the legacy of disengagement they reveal. But the result is perfectly in alignment with what we can deduce were the White House’s over-arching policy objectives: 1) Get US forces out of Iraq before the 2012 election cycle no matter what the cost, and 2) Don’t let any of what happens afterward stick to Obama himself.
SecDef Leon Panetta can bark all he wants at Iran, but come 2011 – or perhaps sooner – the mullahs will know that he has no bite.
** 03-15-21 Original link gone; substitute found – Ed.
Posted by lex, on September 9, 2010
The Army’s first active duty blind officer, * and – I believe – a better man than me.
** 02-12-21 – Lex had a video link in that required Adobe Flash, and my original impulse was to pass this one up. It was just the one sentence plus the unavailable video. But now Major Smiley is an extraordinary man, and should be included. Anyone Lex admired should be included, I think – Ed.
A bit more on Scotty:
Posted by lex, on July 10, 2010
Security in Baghdad has improved to the point where Iraqi policemen can go back to shooting stray dogs:
Teams of veterinarians and police shooters have killed some 58,000 stray dogs in and around the Iraqi capital over the past three months as part of a campaign to curb an increasing number of strays blamed for attacks on residents…
The surge in strays — estimated by provincial officials to number around 1.25 million — is ironically linked to what officials say is an improvement in some elements of daily life in Baghdad, a city that for seven years has been struggling to return to normalcy after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
Officials with the provincial veterinary directorate said that with open-air markets and bustling city life returning, the dogs are able to find more food and are having bigger litters…
Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, stray dogs were routinely shot. But their numbers grew steadily following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion when a host of more serious security issues sidelined efforts to deal with the dogs.
None of the affected dogs could be reached for comment.
Posted by lex, on May 13, 2008
An SA-7 was fired at a US Apache helicopter over Sadr City recently:
The attack, which had not been disclosed previously, represents the first time that a helicopter has come under missile attack in Sadr City since fighting erupted in the Shiite enclave in March.
The missile missed the aircraft…
The United States military has made extensive use of Apache helicopters to try to stop militias from firing rockets at the Green Zone and to protect American and Iraqi troops in Sadr City from Shiite fighters armed with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and roadside bombs.
The helicopters have taken a heavy toll on the militia fighters. In an effort to blunt the American advantage in airpower, the militias have waited until dust storms have grounded the Apaches to unleash heavy rocket attacks on the Green Zone.
But the attack on Saturday suggests that the militias may intend to make a more determined challenge to the American dominance in the air.
I wonder where the JAM came across one of those? I somehow doubt it has been lying around the Baghdad slum in a packing crate since 2003.
Posted by lex, on March 20, 2008
From the Washington Times:
A female suicide bomber who blew herself up yesterday on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion reflects an expansion of the pool of terrorist recruits and a new favorite tactic in the war in Iraq.
The bomber killed five persons and wounded two policemen in the town of Balad Ruz northeast of Baghdad, according to a statement from the U.S. military. She is the 18th female bomber since the war began, the second this week, and the seventh this year alone.Continue reading
Posted by lex, on February 24, 2008
I’ve said before that the US and its coalition allies are in the rare and enviable position of deciding whether or not to win the wars they find themselves embroiled in – the social costs of wartime defeat are historically so burdensome that it is far more often imposed than chosen.
Put aside for now blood-stirring but essentially intangible Jacksonian costs such as diminished national pride and prestige, not to mention the moral price of implicitly sanctioning genocide and the imposition of soul-destroying tyrannies upon peoples imprisoned by their circumstances. From a purely pragmatic perspective, there are still those holes in the New York city skyline bearing mute witness to the fact that permitting toxic forms of repression to take root inside failed states encourages the eventual export of their barbarisms abroad. Not to mention the loss of strategic influence in a critical part of the world, nor the price of letting implacable enemies fill the vacuum left by our retreat.
But I’ve been consistent on this all along, which has probably become a bit of a tedious slog for the occasional reader. Which is why this Washington Post op-ed from Anthony Cordesman, a harsh critic of President Bush’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the non-partisan Center for Strategic and International Studies seems so useful:
No one can return from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, as I recently did, without believing that these are wars that can still be won. They are also clearly wars that can still be lost, but visits to the battlefield show that these conflicts are very different from the wars being described in American political campaigns and most of the debates outside the United States…
What the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan have in common is that it will take a major and consistent U.S. effort throughout the next administration at least to win either war. Any American political debate that ignores or denies the fact that these are long wars is dishonest and will ensure defeat. There are good reasons that the briefing slides in U.S. military and aid presentations for both battlefields don’t end in 2008 or with some aid compact that expires in 2009. They go well beyond 2012 and often to 2020.
If the next president, Congress and the American people cannot face this reality, we will lose…
We either need long-term commitments, effective long-term resources and strategic patience — or we do not need enemies. We will defeat ourselves.
True enough, although it’s worth keeping in mind that we will have enemies, whether we need them or not.