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Switch to Forum Live View The Myth Of THe Surge
7 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2008 - 1:49AM #1
SherriMunnerlyn
Posts: 7,519
We keep hearing the war in Iraq is going so well. Yet, we keeop hearing of daily casuaties, and many innocent civilians getting killed in horrible ways every day. This is reported in Helena Cobban's justworldnews blog, about what is really hapening in Iraq.   

In Nir Rosen's "The Myth of the Surge", he produced yet another brilliant piece of reporting, this time about Iraq. His piece, out in Rolling Stone, is called The Myth of the Surge.

He starts by setting the grim scene:

This is what "victory" looks like in a once upscale neighborhood of Iraq: Lakes of mud and sewage fill the streets. Mountains of trash stagnate in the pungent liquid. Most of the windows in the sand-colored homes are broken, and the wind blows through them, whistling eerily. House after house is deserted, bullet holes pockmarking their walls, their doors open and unguarded, many emptied of furniture. What few furnishings remain are covered by a thick layer of the fine dust that invades every space in Iraq. Looming over the homes are twelve-foot-high security walls built by the Americans to separate warring factions and confine people to their own neighborhood. Emptied and destroyed by civil war, walled off by President Bush's much-heralded "surge," Dora feels more like a desolate, post-apocalyptic maze of concrete tunnels than a living, inhabited neighborhood. Apart from our footsteps, there is complete silence.

Most of the piece is an up-close report on the operations in a couple of Baghdad neighborhoods of (a) one of the new "Iraqi Security Volunteer" (ISV) groups, and (b) an officer in the Irasqi National; Police (INP) who treads an extremely difficult path between the mainly-Sunni ISV's and the Mahdi Army people from his own Shiite sect.

He has a really apt quote from Charles Freeman, an extremely savvy veteran US diplomat who, among other ambassadorships, was ambassador to Saudi Arabia for quite a while:


"We are essentially supporting a quasi-feudal devolution of authority to armed enclaves, which exist at the expense of central government authority," says Chas Freeman... "Those we are arming and training are arming and training themselves not to facilitate our objectives but to pursue their own objectives vis-a-vis other Iraqis. It means that the sectarian and ethnic conflicts that are now suppressed are likely to burst out with even greater ferocity in the future."

Nir gives a very depressing account of US troops blundering around through the bizarre physical, operational and (im-)moral landscape of Baghdad, including going with them on a couple of house raids that net a bunch of misidentified detainees and one against whom the evidence is fabricated by the local ISVs. He also shows the intense rivalries and pettiness within/among the ISVs; the rampant distrust and toadyism; and most importantly of all the fact that there is almost no functioning economy or society at all left in large areas of Baghdad.

At one point he writes, quite correctly:
A foreign military occupation is, by its very nature, a terrifying and brutal thing, and even the most innocuous American patrols inevitably involve terrorizing innocent Iraqi civilians. Every man in a market is rounded up and searched at gunpoint. Soldiers, their faces barely visible behind helmets and goggles, burst into a home late at night, rip the place apart looking for weapons, blindfold and handcuff the men as the children look on, whimpering and traumatized. U.S. soldiers are the only law in Iraq, and you are at their whim. Raids like this one are scenes in a long-running drama, and by now everyone knows their part by heart. "I bet there's an Iraqi rap song about being arrested by us," an American soldier jokes to me at one point.

Go read the whole article. It is right up there alongside the great piece of reporting that Jon Lee Anderson had in The New Yorker last November, in terms of (a) depicting the "Apocalypse Now" landscape of US-occupied Iraq; (b) underscoring how distant the reality on the ground in Baghdad is from the anodyne views of "the success of the surge" that too many US politicians and analysts have bought into into; and (c) underscoring, too, how great the challenge will be that our next president will face in Iraq, on January 20, 2009.

This is printed from justworldnews website.
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2008 - 1:16PM #2
rangerken
Posts: 16,407
Justworldnews, and the Rolling Stone, are very left wing, anti-american media outlets. They are to the left of moveon.org in fact. For a counter that is equally extreme on the other side you have to go to sources like thereligionofpeace.com which does nothing but try to make all of Islam look bad.

Everything I've seen even in liberal media says the oppositie of what Sherri writes.

Jon Lee Anderson's column was dead wrong also.

Sherri is absolutely right that our next president will have a challenge regarding Iraq. I certainly do not like the way Bush handled the Iraq war and subsequent occupation, as I've said often enough.

Exactly what we should do is beyond my own experience and knowledge to know, much less recommend. I just want us to stop losing our young men and women there. But simply abandoning Iraq and pulling out completely now would be handing the likes of Al Quida a victory, even as they are being defeated on the ground.

I wish I had a good answer. If only we had followed Shinseki's advice early on, or begun the surge in 2005, or whatever things might be different. Obviously if we hadn't invaded at all things would be different. But again, I did support the invasion. I just wish we had done it right...I'm not opposed to making war. I am very opposed to making war badly.

Ken
Libertarian, Conservative, Life member of the NRA and VFW
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2008 - 1:16PM #3
rangerken
Posts: 16,407
Justworldnews, and the Rolling Stone, are very left wing, anti-american media outlets. They are to the left of moveon.org in fact. For a counter that is equally extreme on the other side you have to go to sources like thereligionofpeace.com which does nothing but try to make all of Islam look bad.

Everything I've seen even in liberal media says the oppositie of what Sherri writes.

Jon Lee Anderson's column was dead wrong also.

Sherri is absolutely right that our next president will have a challenge regarding Iraq. I certainly do not like the way Bush handled the Iraq war and subsequent occupation, as I've said often enough.

Exactly what we should do is beyond my own experience and knowledge to know, much less recommend. I just want us to stop losing our young men and women there. But simply abandoning Iraq and pulling out completely now would be handing the likes of Al Quida a victory, even as they are being defeated on the ground.

I wish I had a good answer. If only we had followed Shinseki's advice early on, or begun the surge in 2005, or whatever things might be different. Obviously if we hadn't invaded at all things would be different. But again, I did support the invasion. I just wish we had done it right...I'm not opposed to making war. I am very opposed to making war badly.

Ken
Libertarian, Conservative, Life member of the NRA and VFW
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2008 - 12:25AM #4
SherriMunnerlyn
Posts: 7,519
This article is describing the situation that people today are living in inside Iraq. There is this ongoing attempt by the Administration and Media to cover up the actual living conditions in Iraq. And there are some who want to show Americans the truth. I fail to see how this is a left versus right issue. Why can't the truth be told? Why must the right, it's very existence, so often seem to be covering up truth and misleading and lying to the American public?

I want to know the truth. That's all. Does wanting to know the truth about what is happening to ordinary people on the ground in Iraq make me or anyone else on the left? Why?

Just world news is written by Helena Cobban, a writer and a Quaker. She is against war. That makes her a dangerous person? Why do those who oppose war seem to so threaten war supporters? We want to save lives, to stop the killing, yet we are viewed as a threat? Why?
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2008 - 12:59AM #5
docwitchy
Posts: 284
I don't get involved much on this board. But occasionally I look through topics that seem interesting, as this one does. Since I've been to Iraq twice now, as an army medical corps officer (meaning a surgeon), and my husband has also, and since we're both Arab Americans and Muslims, I thought I'd comment based on my personal experience.

Ms SherriMunnerlyn, the surge is working the way the army in particular says it is working. And that really infuriates those who want the United states to fail in Iraq.

I am making no comment about the war in terms of its being right or wrong. I'm simply saying that the surge is working the way it was supposed to work. The military reports are accurate. The things you posted Ms Munnerlyn are not true. And my husband and I have both seen it for ourselves on the ground, and have, I think, better contacts in the Arab community than you do.

In other words, you're wrong, Ms Munnerlyn.

You have a good heart and you mean well. I've read a lot of what you write and your humanity always comes through. But you are so often so wrong and so often in support of the people who are causing the death and destruction that I sometimes get confused as to your veracity.

Salaam,

Mariah
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2008 - 4:08PM #6
SherriMunnerlyn
Posts: 7,519
I am going to provide the link here for the full article and some excerpts. We are arming both sides, the Shiite government and the Sunnis. 

With American forces now arming both sides in the civil war, the violence in Iraq has once again started to escalate. In January, some 100 members of the new Sunni militias — whom the Americans have now taken to calling "the Sons of Iraq" — were assassinated in Baghdad and other urban areas. In one attack, a teenage bomber blew himself up at a meeting of Awakening leaders in Anbar Province, killing several members of the group. Most of the attacks came from Al Qaeda and other Sunni factions, some of whom are fighting for positions of power in the new militias.

One day in early February, I accompany several of the ISV leaders from Dora to the Sahwa Council, the Awakening's headquarters in Ramadi. They are hoping to translate their local military gains into a political advantage by gaining the council's stamp of approval. On the way, Abu Salih admires a pickup truck outfitted with a Dushka, a large Russian anti-aircraft gun. "Now that's Sahwa," Abu Salih says, gazing wistfully at the weapon. Then he spots more Sahwa men driving Humvees armed with belt-fed machine guns. "Ooh," he murmurs, "look at that PKC."

At Sahwa headquarters, in an opulent guest hall, Abu Salih meets Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, brother of the slain founder of the movement, who sits on an ornate, thronelike chair. "How is Dora?" he asks Abu Salih, sounding like a king inquiring about his subject's estate. Then he leads us into a smaller office, where three of Abu Salih's rivals from Dora are gathered. All of the men refer to Abu Risha with deference, calling him "our older brother" and "our father." It is a strange reversal of past roles: urban Sunnis from Baghdad pledging their allegiance to a desert tribal leader, looking to the periphery for protection and political representation. But the Americans have empowered Abu Risha, and Baghdad's Sunni militiamen hope to unite with him to fight their Shiite rivals.

It doesn't take long, however, for the meeting to devolve into open hostility. One of the rivals dismisses Abu Salih and his men as mere guards, not true Sahwa. "You are military, and we are political," he jeers, accusing Abu Salih of having been a member of Al Qaeda. Abu Salih turns red and waves his arms over his head. "Nobody lies about Abu Salih!" he shouts.

Abu Risha's political adviser attempts to calm the men. "Are we in the time of Saddam Hussein?" he asks. The rivals should hold elections in Dora, he suggests, to decide who will represent the Awakening there. In the end, though, Abu Salih emerges from the meeting with official recognition from the council. All of the men speak with respect for the resistance and jihad. To them, the Awakening is merely a hudna, or cease-fire, with the American occupation. The real goal is their common enemy: Iraq's Shiites.

Some of the escalating violence in recent weeks is the work of the Mahdi Army and other Shiite paramilitary forces to intimidate Sunnis like Abu Salih and prevent members of the Awakening from cooperating with the Americans. Even members of the Iraqi National Police who refuse to take sides in the bloody rivalry are being targeted. Capt. Arkan, the Iraqi who led the raid for the 172 INP, has tried to remain nonsectarian in the midst of the bitter new divisiveness that is tearing Iraq apart. Like others who served in the Iraqi army before the U.S. occupation, he sees himself as a soldier first and foremost. "Most of the officers that came back to the police are former army officers," he says. "Their loyalty is to their country." His father is Shiite, but Arkan was forced to leave his home in the majority-Shiite district of Shaab after he was threatened by the Mahdi Army, who demanded that he obtain weapons for them. He had paid a standard $600 bribe to join the police, but he was denied the job until a friend intervened.

"Before the war, it was just one party," Arkan tells me. "Now we have 100,000 parties. I have Sunni officer friends, but nobody lets them get back into service. First they take money, then they ask if you are Sunni or Shiite. If you are Shiite, good." He dreams of returning to the days when the Iraqi army served the entire country. "In Saddam's time, nobody knew what is Sunni and what is Shiite," he says. The Bush administration based its strategy in Iraq on the mistaken notion that, under Saddam, the Sunni minority ruled the Shiite majority. In fact, Iraq had no history of serious sectarian violence or civil war between the two groups until the Americans invaded. Most Iraqis viewed themselves as Iraqis first, with their religious sects having only personal importance. Intermarriage was widespread, and many Iraqi tribes included both Sunnis and Shiites. Under Saddam, both the ruling Baath Party and the Iraqi army were majority Shiite.

Arkan, in a sense, is a man in the middle. He believes that members of the Awakening have the right to join the Iraqi security forces, but he also knows that their ranks are filled with Al Qaeda and other insurgents. "Sahwa is the same people who used to be attacking us," he says. Yet he does not trust his own men in the INP. "Three-fourths of them are Mahdi Army," he tells me, locking his door before speaking. His own men pass information on him to the Shiite forces, which have threatened him for cooperating with the new Sunni militias. One day, Arkan was summoned to meet with the commander of his brigade's intelligence sector. When he arrived, he found a leader of the Mahdi Army named Wujud waiting for him.

"Arkan, be careful — we will kill you," Wujud told him. "I know where you live. My guys will put you in the trunk of a car."

I ask Arkan why he had not arrested Wujud. "They know us," he says. "I'm not scared for myself. I've had thirty-eight IEDs go off next to me. But I'm scared for my family."

Later I accompany Arkan to his home. As we approach an INP checkpoint, he grows nervous. Even though he is an INP officer, he does not want the police to know who he is, lest his own men inform the Mahdi Army about his attitude and the local INPs, who are loyal to the Mahdi Army, target him and his family. At his home, his two boys are watching television in the small living room. "I've decided to leave my job," Arkan tells me. "No one supports us." The Americans are threatening him if he doesn't pursue the Mahdi Army more aggressively, while his own superiors are seeking to fire him for the feeble attempts he has made to target the Mahdi Army.

On my final visit with Arkan, he picks me up in his van. For lack of anywhere safe to talk, we sit in the front seat as he nervously scans every man who walks by. He is not optimistic for the future. Arkan knows that the U.S. "surge" has succeeded only in exacerbating the tension among Iraq's warring parties and bickering politicians. The Iraqi government is still nonexistent outside the Green Zone. While U.S.-built walls have sealed off neighborhoods in Baghdad, Shiite militias are battling one another in the south over oil and control of the lucrative pilgrimage industry. Anbar Province is in the hands of Sunni militias who battle each other, and the north is the scene of a nascent civil war between Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen. The jobs promised to members of the Awakening have not materialized: An internal U.S. report concludes that "there is no coherent plan at this time" to employ them, and the U.S. Agency for International Development "is reluctant to accept any responsibility" for the jobs program because it has a "high likelihood of failure." Sunnis and even some Shiites have quit the government, which is unable to provide any services, and the prime minister has circumvented parliament to issue decrees and sign agreements with the Americans that parliament would have opposed.

But such political maneuvers don't really matter in Iraq. Here, street politics trump any illusory laws passed in the safety of the Green Zone. As the Awakening gains power, Al Qaeda lies dormant throughout Baghdad, the Mahdi Army and other Shiite forces prepare for the next battle, and political assassinations and suicide bombings are an almost daily occurrence. The violence, Arkan says, is getting worse again.

"The situation won't get better," he says softly. An officer of the Iraqi National Police, a man charged with bringing peace to his country, he has been reduced to hiding in his van, unable to speak openly in the very neighborhood he patrols. Thanks to the surge, both the Shiites and the Sunnis now have weapons and legitimacy. And what can come of that, Arkan asks, except more fighting?

"Many people in Sahwa work for Al Qaeda," he says. "The national police are all loyal to the Mahdi Army." He shakes his head. "You work hard to build a house, and somebody blows up your house. Will they accept Sunnis back to Shiite areas and Shiites back to Sunni areas? If someone kills your brother, can you forget his killer?"

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/st … urge/print
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2008 - 5:54PM #7
platoonleader
Posts: 1,148
What was that old Beach Boys tune? Bomb bomb bomb ..bomb bomb Iran......... wait that was Barbara Ann.

The road to victory in Iraq ...is through Iran I think. Bomb bomb bomb.. bomb bomb Iran..catchy tune ain't it?
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2008 - 10:54PM #8
rangerken
Posts: 16,407
Sherri, try responding directly to Docwitchy please. She has personal experience on the ground in Iraq. Perhaps she'll get into a dialogue with you if she comes back here more often.

You have a habit of ignoring responses to your posts you don't like, or more to the point, which offer facts that dispute your own allegations. Now you may by all means do that. There's no rule that says you have to directly respond.

But I will mention it when I see it just as I do to other members when they do similar things.

Ken
Libertarian, Conservative, Life member of the NRA and VFW
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2008 - 2:12AM #9
SherriMunnerlyn
Posts: 7,519
rangerken,

I do not have a problem generally discussing issues, but docwitchy's comments were general about the surge working and it is not clear to me what specifically she was addressing from the article.

I have the right to choose to not respond to posts which I perceive as  personal attacks and/or hate filled messages, whoever may write them. That is what you call taking the high ground and staying away from hate.
I have been advised by my friends to do both. And I think that is very good advice for all to heed.
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2008 - 11:29AM #10
arielg
Posts: 9,116
"We keep hearing the war in Iraq is going so well. Yet, we keeop hearing of daily casuaties, and many innocent civilians getting killed in horrible ways every day. This is reported in Helena Cobban's justworldnews blog, about what is really hapening in Iraq"

Those who are extatic abou a few less casualties than  a few montrhs ago are totally missing the point.   It has nothing to do with the military situation.

It makes no damned difference to the fact that we shoudn't be there at all.  The war is immoral and illegal and it is fought  to control the resources of a country that was not a threat to the US.
It was started with lies and keeps going with lies.

The " surge" is a smokescreen to fool the ones with thick stars and stripes blinkers.
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