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Dave

GK, I too desperately hope things turn around in Iraq, but I'm no longer as optimistic as you. Have a look at Brookings' latest Iraq Index:

http://www.brook.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf

There's a lot to digest, but much of it doesn't bode well. Page 33: 40% of Iraq's professional class have left the country since 2003. Page 39: Baghdad had only 5.6 hours of electricity per day last month, down from averaging over 13 hours per day in 2004. Page 56: Very high numbers of polled Iraqis rate the economy and security conditions as poor. Page 57: 47% of Iraqis approve of attacks on US-led forces in Iraq. These are sobering numbers. To be sure, there are some positive trends, especially the lessening violence levels since the surge, but one cannot read this report and see much good news.

I have finally come to the full realization that Muslims don't want a liberal democracy. Islam is a very powerful, influential religion - Islamic religious leaders are hostile to the ideas that has enabled the rest of the world become freer, more prosperious, and more peaceful. Unless Islam experiences a reformation, I don't see our efforts in Iraq having much chance of success.

Saul Wall

Huge amounts of the old infrastructure had to be completely replaced due to the keep-it-working-or-we-kill-you maintenance schedule of the prewar years

"Very high numbers of polled Iraqis rate the economy and security conditions as poor"

Before the last midterm election the media had everyone convinced that the low unemployment and inflation and high stocks and increasing wages meant that the US economy was in drastic recession. Meh.

After seeing the Lancet and other formerly respectable institutions sacrifice their reputations to undermine the war, I would not put much faith in such "reports" and "studies".

"40% of Iraq's professional class have left the country since 2003"

Including a large number of professional soldiers, police and bureaucrats of the old regime I would expect. Even industrial nations have doctor and nurse shortages. I would be interested in knowing how many of those professionals have vowed never to return.

The negatives are much reported, often without proper context. Positives are not. Have a look at the map on the last page of this PDF. It shows the projects of seven US agencies most of which are complete. It is not 64 pages but then a lot of the Brookings Institute report was not much more than data with little context and the "First the good news" paragraph at the beginning was not all that inclusive. There are a lot of Iraqis working very hard with the help of many nations to build their society and it is very easy for the press and the academic world to tell us that all the work is shabby and substandard by showing us what they want us to see (I can show you shoddy work and substandard jobs here in Canada - Hell, Mike Holmes made a successful TV series out of that fact) and vaccinated kids, new schools, and rebuilt electrical equipment do not make the news. Even something as valuable as sewage treatment facilities are not going to get press since down stream pollution is not a noticeable improvement to the upstream neighbors.

Businesses are starting up and others are expanding. Jobless rates do not include day laborers which make that front look consistently worse than it is. Cell phone use, Internet penetration, media markets are all improving. police and military are continuing to be trained. (Yes, we all hear about the failures of some of them - collectively they are probably held to a higher standard than Western troops and cops. How often do people condemn the quality of a nation's entire police force when a handful are involved in corruption?)

Leaving the country now, while all this (unreported) work is still ongoing, while terrorists keep getting trounced, (not to mention syphoning off young jihadis from across the region) so that the neighboring nations can more easily stir things up Is only a good idea if you believe that all of those Iraqis who are putting so much time and effort, not to mention risking their lives to build a modern nation and support a democracy are all just delusional, naive or wrong. I also have a negative view of Islam but I am not so pessimistic when it comes to Muslims since they are subject to the same human nature, for better and for worse, as everyone else. Civilization and its collapse are processes as long as things are moving in the right direction it would not be wise to abandon them.

As Churchill once said (paraphrase): "When you're going through Hell, Keep going."

GK

Dave,

Don't despair. But my goal is not a 'liberal democracy' in the truest sense. Rather, my goal is a country about as stable and free as Turkey.

Have a look at Brookings' latest Iraq Index:

All those numbers are not much different than a year ago. What has changed is the number of provinces under Iraqi control.

I have finally come to the full realization that Muslims don't want a liberal democracy.

Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, is a democracy, if not such a 'liberal' one. That is good enough for our purposes.

Saul Wall

From what I see, mid to late 2008 would not be out of line for determining success though most people will never admit it.

Back to your post, I think that leaving Germany and Korea et al would be a good idea since it would force other democratic nations to think more about their own security. I don't mean complete isolationism but the semblance of it combined with investment and research into rapid force projection.

MR

How about the building up of a sort of "American Foreign Legion"?

Make this a true fighting force with at first 70000-80000 members,equipped with donated armor,aerial gunships,etc.

Their mission,secure the last outpost, Baghdad, against the Assassin onslaught and buy time for winning the peace.

Such a force may provide an exit mechanism for spent native born US troops as legion numbers are built up.

Dave

I really hope you guys are right. But the reality is that the media's constant negative reporting leads most people to think Iraq is hopelessly chaotic. Ergo, spineless politicians go with public opinion and call for retreat. It is a very real possibility that after the next US presidential election we will see wholesale withdrawl of troops. Will Iraq's nascent government be prepared? If not, what will happen?

Back in '03 I bought a million Iraqi dinars valued at around $850 USD. Its still worth about the same, so I have not lost all hope. But if we see a US pullout, we will also likely see many international companies leave at the same time, fearing for their safety. Without these companies contributing to Iraq's economy, we will likely see a precipitous deterioration of Iraq's economic progress.

If you guys truly believe we will be successful in Iraq in '08 why don't you join me? Buy some dinars and put your money where your mouth is.

GK

Dave,

It appears the Iraqi Dinar HAS gone up about 20% since November. Do you not know this?

Even then, why buy something which is effectively just keeping money in T-Bills, betting on a currency rising?

Furthermore, a rising currency and a strong economy are not corelated, despite what those with limited economic knowledge may think. The US and Japan both have weakening currencies, yet have the strongest economies they have had in years.

The proper thing to buy would be an Iraqi stock market mutual fund or ETF. That way you benefit from both rising stock prices *and* potentially rising currencies. Why bet only on currencies rising, which is still money kept in cash, and is often not corelated with high GDP growth?

Check out the stock markets of Iraq, Egypt, Israel, and the UAE since the US invasion of Iraq. All have shot up incredibly. This show how much the absence of Saddam instilled confidence in the whole region, which has not waned since.

So there are smart ways and not-so-smart ways to invest here.

HarshV

Its too bad that a country steeped in Anglican tradition, thought has managed to follow a policy counterveilling its great foreign policy tradition. I think Bush needs to read a little bit of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. A country, region's socio-economic and political history over decades determines what system will work stabley in that country. Planting foreign systems in countries leads to instability. One cant overnight destroy and rebuild essential institutions in a country.

Bush's policy on Iraq is fool hardy liberal, yes liberal, interventionism. Rational self interest is totally missing. Even the cold more narrow self interest of certain rogue elements of the adminstration did not get enhanced as law and order in Iraq was not maintained, hasnt been maintained and wont be maintained.

Can an Anglo-American country seriously not consider the issue of law and order, securing the peace? Foolish bravado and incompetancce is pervasive in this adminstration's foreign policy.

I certainly dont think another year or two will fix Iraq. Shias, sunnis, kurds in the same country. There is cause for fighting the century old tribal enemies, there is no law and order and neighbouring Iran is manipulating. Hmmm what does that lead to - Civil War or hand over power to a strong arm dictator heading a quazi democracy. Oh wait thats already been tried in Pakistan and it appears that will also lead to Civil War. Sweet.

usnjay

I'm in Iraq working with the Iraqis and the idea they want civil war is ridiculous. They're just not that sectarian.
The vast majority of the sectarian violence is due to foreign influence. The recent capture of the head of the ISI (Islamic State of Iraq) proved it was a foreign operation with an Iraqi face put on it.

Iraq is going to become a stable country. They'll be much more religious than we are now, on par with the US in the early 1800s, but stable.
LT Nichols

Dave

I hope and GK are right. There was this in today's New York Times. Yes, you read that correctly: the New York Times actually published it. I was so flabbergasted that it left me wondering if I'd woken up this morning in an alternate universe.


Keep up the good work.

SanFranciscoJim

"Marine Gen. Peter Pace, whose term as chairman expires at the end of September, is expected to contend that keeping significantly more than 100,000 troops in Iraq through next year would severely strain the military and compromise its ability to respond to other threats, the newspaper said."

GK

SFJim,

Your quote represents what he is 'expected to say'. He has not even said it, and may never. Are you really this stupid?

What about all the times Gen. Pace said things that support the US mission in Iraq, and all the times he continues to say things are going well?

How about when he said "I believe homosexuality is immoral and the US military should not condone it." Do you still like Gen. Pace now?

NavyVet

"Don't despair. But my goal is not a 'liberal democracy' in the truest sense. Rather, my goal is a country about as stable and free as Turkey."

So did you actually enlist and serve in combat over there to help achieve your "goal"??

GK

"NavyVet",

You have just proven that you are not a Naval Veteran, but a rather insecure, unintelligent lefty, who can't last in a debate for even a sentence.

Questions :

1) So only people who join the military can support the Iraq War? Why does that same criteria not apply to the Afghanistan War, or War in Bosnia?

2) John McCain's son actually is serving in Iraq. But he supports the War. Why?

3) Are you on America's side, or on Al-Qaeda's side?

*sound of crickets chirping as 'NavyVet' is too afraid to reply.*

NavyVet

So writing rhetorical war slogans will achieve your "goals in Iraq" more so than enlisting and actually serving over there? I'm sure the families of the 500,000 Americans killed in World War II will be glad to know their loved ones could've been spared had they simply wrote macho letters instead.

-------------------

"...Iraq veterans who support withdrawal are the phony soldiers..."
- Rush Limbaugh, chickenhawk draft dodger

"You have just proven that you are not a Naval Veteran, but a rather insecure, unintelligent lefty, who can't last in a debate for even a sentence."
- GK, chickenhawk righty war avoider


GK

NavyVet,

I see you are too much of a coward to answer the three simple questions I pose. You lost the debate after just one punch.....

You are not a NavyVet, you are just the typical disease-laden anti-US lefty who is jealous of normal people.

And why aren't you joing your Al-Qaeda friends in their cause, rather then just talking about supporting them? That makes you a.......ChickenTerrorist

THAT is a superbly accurate term for you. LOL HA HA......

NavyVet

You send someone else overseas to fight your battles for you, and you call me a coward?

I already served my country during time of war (USN, '71-75), you phony Chickenhawk righty.

I can't figure out who's the bigger War-wimp - you or Sean Hannity.

GK

Chickenterrorist,

Yawn.....you are afraid to even answer 3 simple questions, even at the age of 55-60, yet laughably claim to be a Navy Vet. I am half your age, BTW.

Pathetic. Double pathetic that you impersonate a Navy Vet - typical chickenterrorist tactics.

John McCain, now there is a REAL Navy Vet.

Let's see if you can answer 3 simple questions :

1) So only people who join the military can support the Iraq War? Why does that same criteria not apply to the Afghanistan War, or War in Bosnia?

2) John McCain's son actually is serving in Iraq. But he supports the War. Why?

3) Are you on America's side, or on Al-Qaeda's side?

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