The column can be found here and this is what I feel the strongest section is:
With that agreement unextended and now expired, al-Maliki appears to be acting out the darkest shadows of his own past. Over the last months, he has reneged on a power-sharing agreement with Sunnis in several key ministries, arrested hundreds of suspected Baathists (read Sunni oppositionists) and -- as the last American troops were leaving Iraq and fresh from an audience in the Oval Office -- he has now ordered the arrest of his own Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, for alleged "terrorism."
Along with all of this, al Qaeda in Iraq greeted the U.S. withdrawal with a series of deadly bombings against largely Shiite targets. Al Qaeda was always expected to take advantage of the "seam" created by the handoff of counterterrorism operations from American to Iraqi control, but now even a badly weakened al Qaeda can exploit the sense of Sunni vulnerability that al-Maliki's actions have created.
The situation may yet be salvaged. America is not without tools. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey cut short his holiday home leave to return to Iraq and, as he has in the past, he will no doubt use his considerable skills in an attempt to defuse the situation. But the ambassador will have fewer tools at his disposal.
The point of his column is that he believes the US military left Iraq too soon and he notes Stephen Biddle's piece asserting the US military helped in Kosovo by being on the ground and remaining on the ground.
This is me guessing, I believe he's expressing that a small number (12,000 or less -- and it may be much much less) should have remained for a few years more. I say that I'm guessing because he's clear that he believes the US military left too soon but as for how many should have stayed in his opinion or for how long, he doesn't address that. Because he is former military (he's a retired general), I'm going with 12,000 as his top number. (As was made clear in hearing after hearing last year, the US military brass -- generals -- favored a 12,000 as the number of US troops they wanted kept in the country.)
That's his view. He doesn't need to provide a number or a length of time to have a valid opinion.
I disagree with it.
No, the illegal war never should have started. Once it started, the point should have been to get out quickly. Many War Hawks would go along with that. There's a whole cottage industry of how the Bush administration screwed up war for future presidents by staying too long. The thinking there is that if, for example, Bush had pulled US troops out at the end of May 2003 (the US invaded in March 2003), it could have been a 'success' and led to more wars. Instead, a quagmire was created.
Again, there's a whole cottage industry around that, bad, awful 'documentaries' like No Exit, for example.
But that's not why I say the White House should have pulled the military out quickly.
I say it because the US military was not a peace keeping force. It was used to protect exiles that US was installing. These people would not have been the choice of Iraqis.
People say I pick too much on Nouri -- and have said that since 2006. He's a thug. I've said that since 2006 and that's based on a great deal more than media accounts or information from the State Dept. But Allawi or whomever, any of the exiles, they wouldn't have been supported by the people of Iraq.
The people of Iraq were not allowed to pick rulers. The US government said, "You can't pick this group." Then they decided who could run and they decided who they would support (and US support almost always translated in victory). So you end up with a large group of people being ruled by a small group who largely lived out of Iraq for decades.
They have no common insterests.
Remember the move to Canada nonsense?
The Supereme Court decided the 2000 election. They gave it to Bully Boy Bush who came in second to Al Gore. That was outrageous to many people (myself included). Some of them decided they'd leave the country and move to Canada and become citizens there.
Fine. If that's your choice, I hope you're happy in Canada but, since you're no longer American, I also hope you'll do something instead of focus on the US because those of us who chose to stay and fight really don't need the help of people who fled.
Now it's 2020. Iraq invades the US. And while we're being asked to identify ourselves in some form (Democrat or Republican?) and our biometrics are being taken, Iraq brings in all these people who've lived in Canada for over 15 years.
And says to us, "Okay, choose your leader!" [From these exiles who moved to Canada.]
No. We wouldn't do that.
The US military was not doing democracy in Iraq. It can't. That's not what it's trained in. They're trained to fight. And after the initial invasion, that power was used to ensure that the Nouris, all those exiles, and the government being imposed by the US, could grow ever more entrenched as a result is occupation.
The Iraqis have a right to decide their lives, not to have imposed upon them.
At this site, we have always supported immediate and full withdrawal. (And we don't believe that's happened today.) But I've never said, "An then every one gets along perfectly and all live in harmony."
I've always stated that violence would most likely follow a US departure.
And it's rotten that people are being killed but it's completely understandable. A lot more will likely die. That's because a group of people are now entrenched and they don't represent Iraqis. How do Iraqis dislodge these US-imposed rulers?
One way is violence. So it's not at all surprising that violence would take place.
Another way that they could dislodge US-imposed rulers would be at the ballot box.
However, the US refused to send that message.
In 2010, Iraqi's voted. And their choice was Iraqiya. And the Constitution meant that Iraqiya should have had first crack at forming a government (Cabinet) and someone from Iraqiya should have been named prime minister-designate (and given 30 days to name a Cabinet or be replaced by another prime minister-designate).
But the White House backed Nouri whose State of Law did not come in first. And who won out? The people of Iraq? The voters?
No, the White House and Nouri.
Barack Obama pissed on the Iraqi Constitution. He pissed on the will of the Iraqi people.
The White House should have supported the election results.
Iraq is, at best, a fledging democracy.
And yet the lesson the White House elected to impart was that the rule of law doesn't matter, the Constitution didn't matter, the will of the voters didn't matter.
In Iraq, people did risk their lives to vote. Barack said that on December 12th and he's correct. He left out the part about people risking their lives to run for office. He left that out because Nouri was the one targeting Iraqiya, banning candidates, imprisoning them and someone was murdering them. All in the lead up to the election.
A lot was risked for elections and what happened?
Nouri remained prime minister.
Jalal Talabani remained President.
Tareq al-Hashemi remained the Sunni Vice President.
Adel Abdul Mahdi remained the Shi'ite Vice President.
(As 2011 went along Iraq would end up with three vice presidents but we're not going there and getting lost in a sidebar. Adeal Abdul Mahdi resigned his post in May.)
So a lot of people risked a lot and the results were that the country should have seen change.
Yet all the top positions remained exactly the same.
When the White House sent that message, they made the use of violence to alter outcomes look like a much better option to those seeking change. That's on the White House.
Immediate and full withdrawal because Iraqis need to sort out their country. The US staying for a year or ten was only going to delay that from taking place. What's going on now was always a possibility and, most likely, became a sure thing once the US changed White House occupants and President Barack Obama decided that Bush's thug was someone the US needed to continue supporting, Iraqi voters and the Constitution be damned.
It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)
December 23rd, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4487. Tonight it's [PDF format warning] 4487. Here's the screen snap:
(Yes, the number's back up. If you're lost refer to "And the war drags on . . ." from Sunday.)
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i hate the war