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Iraq War Ends. Did the US Win?

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

The Military 7

Hugh Pickens writes writes "As the last American troops exit Iraq, two questions come to mind: Was the war worth it? And did the US, in any sense, win? "The two questions, of course, are related: The first concerns cost, the second benefits," writes Fred Kaplan. "However you do the calculation, it’s clear that the decision to invade Iraq was a major strategic blunder—and that the policies we pursued in the early months of the occupation tipped the blunder into a catastrophe." After Paul Bremer issued Order No. 1 barring members of the once-ruling Baathist party from holding any but the lowliest of government jobs and Order No. 2 disbanding the Iraqi army, tens of thousands of Iraqis, most of them young men with weapons were turned out into the streets, officially disenfranchised and, in many cases, eager to rebel against the agents of their fate. An insurgency arose and there were no Iraqi security forces to clamp it down. But Bush changed course dramatically at the end of 2006 ordering a “surge” of 20,000 extra troops in support of a new counterinsurgency strategy, a gamble that paid off as many Sunni leaders—beginning in Anbar province, which had been one of Iraq’s most violent sectors—suddenly realized that the foreign jihadists, with whom they’d struck an alliance, formed a bigger threat than the American occupiers, and so they turned to the U.S. troops for help. The good news is that there is now a functioning Iraqi government. "The means and institutions do exist for resolving these problems mainly through politics," concludes Kaplan but "failure to resolve the disputes in the halls of politics may spur the most militant constituents—of whom there are many—to revive their armed struggles in the streets.""

7 comments

surge (1)

novenator (1953574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38412394)

It needs to be noted that the Surge didn't actually solve any of the underlying issues. While it did effectively drive a wedge between ultra-conservative Sunni nationalists and Al Qaeda infiltrators, it often did so by *bribing* former terrorists into complacency, and as thus cannot truly be considered a victory.

The US loose (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | more than 2 years ago | (#38413110)

1 - Sure the US won the war, but it hasn't won piece. WWII was an unqualified success because the Allies won the War and then won the Piece with German, Japan and Italy. However Iraq today is quickly becoming an Ally to Iran, how can that be considered winning the piece ? And the Taliban will quickly come back on Afghanistan once the US leaves. Afghanistan and its northern neighbors has been a thorn on every military power that attempted to conquer it in the last 2000 years, nobody managed it.

2 - You can't win the piece if the war puts you on an almost irreversible economic crisis. The US is broke due to the Iraq + Afghanistan + Bush misguided economic policy + the rise of China, when its said and done and an honest accounting of the real economic cost of both wars is done, its financial tool will be in excess of 2 trillion dollars. It costs US$ 1,000,000 per soldier per year deployed in Afghanistan, the US doesn't know and doesn't want to fight a war on the cheap.

3 - Iraq is on route to becoming an Iran of sorts, with the Shia majority religious radicalism, and Oil money, Iraq's future is far from democratic it seems.

I sincerely hope I'm just a pessimist, that will turn out wrong and things get turned around, but I have my doubts. But in a world where China and Russia has no sense of decency and support anyone that is in their economic interest with zero regard to human life. At least the US has some regard for its own citizens and minimum regard for foreign ones.

Re:The US loose (1)

Dragon Bait (997809) | more than 2 years ago | (#38415478)

2 - You can't win the piece if the war puts you on an almost irreversible economic crisis. The US is broke due to the Iraq + Afghanistan + Bush misguided economic policy + the rise of China, when its said and done and an honest accounting of the real economic cost of both wars is done, its financial tool will be in excess of 2 trillion dollars. It costs US$ 1,000,000 per soldier per year deployed in Afghanistan, the US doesn't know and doesn't want to fight a war on the cheap.

Talking heads were saying that the entire war in Iraq cost $800B. The U.S. is currently over spending what it takes in by $1,500B a year. While the war in Iraq certainly was a mind-numbingly dumb thing to do, our economic problems go way beyond Iraq+Afghanistan+Bush+China. At this point Bush is just an excuse for irresponsible budgets.

Re:The US loose (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | more than 2 years ago | (#38415612)

The overspending is a consequence of the whole situation.
Cutting spending irresponsibly at this point will skyrocket US unemployment and cause a long recession or even a depression. Some cuts here and there might be ok, but it needs to be done carefully.
It wasn't Obama that made irresponsible tax cuts, also the Housing bubble wasn't created by Obama.
Besides the overspending comes non stop since at least the Vietnam War times (if not even before that).
Stupid was the last congress that saw a budget surplus and quickly moved to spend it instead of paying of the US debt, that was a Republican Congress with Clinton in office if memory serve.
Overall I place blame uniformly among Dems and GOP for the situation. The GOP talks and talks and talks about cutting spending, but they can't give up pork barrel politics, a fat inefficient military, and the subsidies given to the industries that contribute the most to them. The Dems addiction to spending goes without saying.
But the real ones to blame is the US electors. They are unwilling to give anything up to pay for the debt. Billionaires and millionaires think they're already paying too much taxes and the middle class is unwilling to cut on well fare programs as well.
A Democracy is the best political system, but a good Democracy depend on wise electors that don't want the impossible long term. In that arena most of the world democracies are in long term trouble, unless they have a large trade surplus that can actually pay for all the privileges the population wants.
The overall scene of Republican candidates is very sad, the only candidate that seems to actually have a wise position on things is in the bottom of the polls (John Huntsman). All others are Hypocrites married to special interests and unwilling to do anything substantial different than Dubya.
What we need is another Bill Clinton (sans the sex scandals). Smack centrist democrats are the least worse politicians in the US.
The issue isn't smaller or bigger government, is a more efficient government. And that is something nobody is willing to make happen. Reform the tax code, removing ALL recurrent subsidies. Only investment subsidies allowed, and even those need scaling back. And people living off stocks and bonds must pay more than a mere 15% capital gains tax, they must pay at least 25% total taxes. Its unacceptable that an investor pay less taxes relative to their income than an employee earning yearly 100k.

Re:The US loose (1)

Dragon Bait (997809) | more than 2 years ago | (#38416536)

It wasn't Obama that made irresponsible tax cuts, also the Housing bubble wasn't created by Obama.

No. The housing bubble is the direct result of sub-prime loans that were legalized under the Clinton administration and the idiotic banking regulation that Barney Frank forced via Freddie and Fannie. No industry -- without direct government interference -- would have loaned money out to people who couldn't pay it back at interest rates that were below market value.

I note that Obama is trying to continue the Bush tax cuts - but only for large voting blocks -- stating that hiking taxes at this time would damage the economy (and here I was led to believe that Bush's tax cuts only benefited the "wealthy").

Obama -- complete with both houses of congress for two years -- could have passed any legislation that he wanted. Fixing the economy never seemed to be a priority until after the voters gave him and the Democrats a "shellacking" in 2010.

Stupid was the last congress that saw a budget surplus and quickly moved to spend it instead of paying of the US debt, that was a Republican Congress with Clinton in office if memory serve.

You're right that it was Newt Gingrich (remember him?) and his Contract with America that forced Bill Clinton into balancing the budget. Clinton proposed $210B in deficits and the Republican congress forced it until it became balanced.

It was Bush the Lesser and the Republican congress that restarted deficit spending: something about the Y2K tech bubble burst combined with 9/11. And no -- don't take that as an endorsement of Bush the Lesser. The idiot had no consistent economic philosophy otherwise he never would have given the trillion dollar pill bill.

A Democracy is the best political system, but a good Democracy depend on wise electors that don't want the impossible long term. In that arena most of the world democracies are in long term trouble, unless they have a large trade surplus that can actually pay for all the privileges the population wants.

No. Democracy is not the best. Democracies take too much time and have to high of a requirement for an educated populace. Constitutional Republic is the best approach. The constitution to reign in what the government can do to the people and a republic to take advantage of division of labor. One of the problems with the current U.S. set up is that the central government is trying to service too many people, is non-responsive, and has no feedback loop for politically driven, short-sighted decisions. The constitution was supposed to prevent this by restricting what the central government can do.

The overall scene of Republican candidates is very sad, the only candidate that seems to actually have a wise position on things is in the bottom of the polls (John Huntsman). All others are Hypocrites married to special interests and unwilling to do anything substantial different than Dubya.

Oh honestly, there's no difference between Obama and Bush the Lesser. Why would you expect there to be any difference between W -- who never seemed to have a consistent philosophy and the rest of the partisan whores running for office?

And people living off stocks and bonds must pay more than a mere 15% capital gains tax, they must pay at least 25% total taxes. Its unacceptable that an investor pay less taxes relative to their income than an employee earning yearly 100k.

Too many people are making money off of their "special deals" in the tax code to ever have meaningful reform. Of course we can get everyone to agree that we want the tax code to be "fair" but we'll never agree on the definition of fair.

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