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Comment: Re:The no-WMD crowd was accidentally correct (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49737701) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq
No. The WMD possibility was a real concern. Things that you seem not to be considering: Post Gulf War Saddam was actively hostile to the US. He fired on US aircraft enforcing a no fly zone occasionally, this zone being another thing he agreed to in the cease fire. Saddam actively supported terrorists, they may not have been al-Qaeda but they were groups that had attacked and killed Americans. Beyond support he also provided sanctuary to foreign terrorists who had killed Americans and allowed them to live in Iraq. All this and more led President Clinton to state that it is the policy of the United States to remove Saddam from power.

Also as the cited New York Times journalist (cited a couple of posts up) found in her investigation into how everyone got Iraq wrong in the days leading to the invasion, some of the things that turned out to be true included: the UN reported 1,000 tons of chemical agents were unaccounted for and WMD was eventually found (years after the invasion and initial searches) and the sarin nerve agent was more potent than the US thought Iraq had the capability to produce and former UN inspectors have stated that Saddam planned to reconstitute WMD programs once the UN signed off on Iraq and left.

Things are far more complicated than you suggest. Yes, actual motivations for war and how war is sold to the public often differ. WMD was oversold. However as even Clinton had stated Saddam had to go, he was an ongoing threat, and in a post 9/11 environment his antics would just no longer be tolerated. 9/11 changed the US' level of tolerance.

Comment: Re:Obama, not Bush 2, responsible for ISIS ... (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49732223) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

In 2011, the Iraqi PM made the same offer. Even he acknowledged it was pointless, since the Iraqi parliament had to agree to it, and they were unwilling to do so.

That is not true.

Yes, it is true; see No, Obama Didn’t Lose Iraq where Mr. Kahl, "the senior Pentagon official responsible for Iraq policy during the first three years of the Obama administration" said,

Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, told U.S. negotiators that he was willing to sign an executive memorandum of understanding that included these legal protections. But for any agreement to be binding under the Iraqi constitution, it had to be approved by the Iraqi parliament. This was the judgment of every senior administration lawyer and Maliki’s own legal adviser...

Which is basically what I said in my next sentence. "Working out the internal politics" included al Maliki working out a deal with Parliament, working out a framework to present the deal to the Iraqi public, etc.

You continued with

The Iraqis needed time to work out the internal politics of immunity but the US pushed them for a public position before they were ready so the public position was no immunity. Had to US given them the time they wanted the answer may have been quite different, as it always was in the past once the US sweetened the deal.

That's simply wishful thinking on your part. You want it to be true so that you can blame the Obama administration.

No, al Maliki said he needed this time. Numerous foreign policy experts have criticized the Obama admin for forcing Iraq to take a public position on immunity before the internal Iraqi negotiations and planning had taken place. The experts considered this one of the Obama admins major blunders.

Its actually quite simple. Going forward the new guy won't be saddled with someone else's deal, the new guy will go forward with his own deal.

Gah! The "new guy" was saddled with the agreement! That's the whole point.

No. The actual point is that there is an agreement on the departure of the invasion and occupational forces. For diplomatic and political reasons that era needed a fixed and unambiguous end. This agreement, for the era of occupation, largely covered a timeframe on the earlier President's watch and only briefly stretched into the next President's watch.

Also for diplomatic and political reasons a separate deal was required with a fully sovereign and independent Iraq for future US forces that would participate in anti-terror, training, support, liaison, etc. The time frame for this era of cooperation was entirely on the next President's watch so both the US and Iraqi government agreed that this future President should negotiate the deal.

Comment: Re:Well that was an incoherent metaphor (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49732095) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq
You are fundamentally misinformed. Both the US and Iraq expected the next US President to negotiate a *new* agreement for the status of US involvement for 2011 and beyond. The old agreement was a formal diplomatic end to invasion and occupation. For political and diplomatic reasons the new agreement had to be separate from the old.

The US requirement for immunity was not a surprise. al Maliki has stated that he needed time to negotiate with Parliament and time to formulate a framing for the Iraqi public. The US failed to give him this time, forced him to take a pubic position prematurely. al Maliki had also stated that US offer was insufficient and many of those in the Iraqi government were not willing to take the political heat of immunity for such an ineffectual token force. That a much better deal would be required to go down that path.

Comment: Re:Well that was an incoherent metaphor (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49732015) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

Stop making things up in a poor attempt to prove your belief is valid. We'd already had that agreement with Iraq for years. There was no surprise in requesting that it continue.

You fail to understand the events. There was no surprise in the US requirement. However in the post sovereignty post occupation arab spring environment there was great political reluctance for Iraq to grant immunity. al Maliki had said that he needed time to negotiate with parliament and time for the government to frame things in an acceptable way to the public. The Obama admin sabotaged these efforts by demanding a public statement by Iraq on immunity before such internal negotiations and planning had taken place, forcing the Iraqi government to state no immunity for the moment.

Comment: Re:Obama, not Bush 2, responsible for ISIS ... (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49731967) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

No, I'm sorry, it's simply ridiculous to try to isolate any discussion of Daesh to only Iraq. All it does is illustrate that you're only interested in trying to prove your belief, not understanding the actual situation.

No, it only illustrates that I am discussing Iraqi security and the US involvement in that. The transnational problem of ISIS is a different topic.

As has been repeatedly acknowledged by people throughout our military and government, the idea that al Qaeda in Iraq was controlled after An Bar was incorrect.

You are grossly misinformed. US military officers have reported al Qaeda in Iraq reported to al Qaeda leadership that no more fighters should be sent, that they were beaten in Iraq. Plus the Obama admin thought Iraq so stable and unlikely to fall back into chaos in 2011 that they believed on 3,000 to 5,000 US troops would be needed in Iraq.

Your last paragraph is just restating your wishful thinking. Could it have happened exactly like that? Yes, in a Hollywood movie.

No, it was the nightly news. Convoys of fighters and heavy weapons rolling down the highway were ISIS' trademark video. The vulnerability such a movement is demonstrated by earlier videos from the first Gulf War, a stretch of road that the news referred to as the highway of death.

Comment: Re:Obama, not Bush 2, responsible for ISIS ... (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49731907) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

You keep talking about this follow-up agreement. No follow-up agreement would have been required if the Bush administration had not, in their optimism, made the error in judgement that no US troops would need to be in Iraq after 2011. The quality of negotiating by the Obama administration is immaterial.

You are grossly misinformed. The Bush admin was not optimistic about the need for US support in 2011 and beyond. They merely left it to the next administration to work out the details. If anyone was over optimistic is was the Obama admin that thought Iraq was unlikely to fall into chaos and only offered 3,000 - 5,000 troops for anti-terror, training, support, liaison, etc.

Comment: Re:Obama, not Bush 2, responsible for ISIS ... (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49729431) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

... the truth is that US troops were removed from Iraq because of a decision by the Bush administration.

Only if one ignores the fact that the Obama administration failed in their attempt at the follow up agreement that both the US and Iraqis had expected to make. Obama offered too little support, he pressed the Iraqis to make a public statement on immunity before they had worked out the internal politics for domestic consumption thereby forcing a no-immunity stance, ... a whole series of serious errors were made by the Obama administration that undermined the followup agreement.

Comment: Re:Obama, not Bush 2, responsible for ISIS ... (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49729367) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

Daesh already had a presence in Syria before we withdrew our troops from Iraq.

I'm not discussing Syria.

Oh my, that's rich. You can't talk about Daesh without talking about Syria.

You can if you are only referring to their presence in Iraq. With a proper force in Iraq then the problem in neighboring Syria is small scale infiltration and terrorism. Not a light mechanized incursion that conquers and occupies territory.

Regarding your claim that a small US force could have stopped the development of Daesh; you're simply engaging in wishful thinking. The full US occupying did not stop al Qaeda in Iraq.

Again, US forces and Sunni tribal forces did exactly that in the An Bar Awakening. The situation was so stable that the Obama administration only wanted to leave 3,000 - to 5,000 troops in Iraq since in their opinion the chances of Iraq descending into chaos were so low.

A small troop left in Iraq almost certainly would not have been more effective.

Only if you ignore history. ISIS conquered and occupied territory in Iraq through a light mechanized assault, pickup trucks with heavy weapons mounted in the bed. Such a force rolling down an open desert highway in extremely vulnerable to air strikes. Without their heavier weapons and a large number of vehicles for force mobility they would not have had the impact that they did. They would have been reduced tactics similar to those they had previously been defeated at. Plus with US air strikes at their disposal the Sunni tribal forces and other Iraqi forces most likely would never have fallen to ISIS.

Comment: Re:Obama, not Bush 2, responsible for ISIS ... (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49729269) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

In 2011, the Iraqi PM made the same offer. Even he acknowledged it was pointless, since the Iraqi parliament had to agree to it, and they were unwilling to do so.

That is not true. The Iraqis needed time to work out the internal politics of immunity but the US pushed them for a public position before they were ready so the public position was no immunity. Had to US given them the time they wanted the answer may have been quite different, as it always was in the past once the US sweetened the deal.

You're saying, basically, the Bush administration was willing to negotiate a troop pullout that would happen during the following administration, but they were unwilling to negotiate an agreement to keep troops in Iraq during the following administration. You can't have it both ways, sorry.

Its actually quite simple. Going forward the new guy won't be saddled with someone else's deal, the new guy will go forward with his own deal.

Comment: Re:Well that was an incoherent metaphor (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49729209) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

Sorry, the offer by the Iraqi PM of a immunity agreement in the fight against Daesh says nothing about the willingness of the Iraqi parliament to give US troops immunity in 2011. In 2011, the Iraqi PM made the same offer, but, as even he acknowledged, it was meaningless, since the parliament had to agree. They were unwilling to agree.

No. The Iraqis needed more time to work out the internal politics but the US administration forced them to take a public stand before this had been done, so that stand was naturally no immunity. The US administration got the political cover to completely leave as they wanted all along.

Comment: Re:Well that was an incoherent metaphor (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49729177) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

Thanks for clarifying, but the clarification doesn't help your position, which, it's become clear, is simply this: even though the Bush administration negotiated the troop pullout, it's the Obama's administration's fault that the agreement was followed.

A gross misrepresentation. Its not following the old agreement that was the problem. Its failing to negotiate the follow on agree that is the problem.

It appears to me that the way you came to this position is because you believe that the Bush administration always intended for the agreement to be renegotiated

Absolutely not. There was an intention that a new President who would have to deal with Iraqi security would negotiate his own agreement, not inherit his predecessors.

When the Obama administration tried to renegotiate the agreement, it was not in a position of power. The Iraqi government already had what they wanted. >Could the US have found something to concede to Iraq that would have kept US troops in Iraq? Probably. You cannot know what that would have taken, though, and so your blithe assertions that things could have simply been "negotiated away" illustrate nothing but your naïve understanding of the political situation.

Untrue. The Obama administration scaled back the offer of troops to 3,000 to 5,000 and the Iraqis thought that too few to make any difference so they had little motivation to take the public heat or granting immunity. The politicians in Washington had determined that Iraq was unlikely to slip back into chaos so the Pentagon's suggestion or 15,000 to 20,000 was rejected by the administration. Even with a sufficient sized force the Iraqis needed more time to work out the internal politics of granting immunity. The administration's pressing of the Iraqis for their public position on immunity before they had worked out the internal politics forced a public statement of no immunity which game the administration cover to walk away.

Giving the Iraqi's a larger anti-terror and training force, more equipment, a box or two of money and more importantly more time to work on their internal politics would have most likely yielded very different results. As it had always done in the past.

Comment: Re:The no-WMD crowd was accidentally correct (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49728927) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq
The bottom line is that Saddam possessed and had use chemical weapons. He had a nuclear program, Israel bombed it. He lost a war to the US and the cease fire required him to destroy any WMD. He did not comply, he worked to keep it a mystery as to what he still possessed, an attempt to keep Iran at bay. If he had complied with the cease fire terms and allowed UN inspectors to witness destruction, burial, etc; allowed UN inspectors complete unfettered access there would have been no doubt and no invasion. However given the paranoia of an immediately post 9/11 environment such a failure to comply could not be tolerated nor the risk that he may possess something be allowed to continue. That is why so many democrats were initially on board.

Eventually the invasion became a political wedge issue and the above truth got lost in all the noise.

Comment: Re:CIA provided faulty information ... (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49728841) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

I was right. You were wrong. How do you answer Krugman's question: "Why didn't you see the obvious back then?"

No, you are mistaken. Neither side knew, no one knew until US boots were on the ground. The truth is that Saddam wanted doubt, it was a defense against Iran. Being accidentally correct is not evidence that Krugman or anyone else knew for sure. As for Miller, its not simply her opinion. Various bipartisan investigations back her account.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/th...

"There was no shortage of mistakes about Iraq, and I made my share of them. The newsworthy claims of some of my prewar WMD stories were wrong. But so is the enduring, pernicious accusation that the Bush administration fabricated WMD intelligence to take the country to war."

"My sources were the same counterterrorism, arms-control and Middle East analysts on whom I had relied for my stories about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s growing threat to America—a series published eight months before 9/11 for which the Times staff, including me, won a Pulitzer."

"Another enduring misconception is that intelligence analysts were “pressured” into altering their estimates to suit the policy makers’ push to war. Although a few former officials complained about such pressure, several thorough, bipartisan inquiries found no evidence of it."

"The CIA repeatedly assured President Bush that Saddam Hussein still had WMD. Foreign intelligence agencies, even those whose nations opposed war, shared this view. And so did Congress. Over the previous 15 years, noted Stuart Cohen, the former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, none of the congressional committees routinely briefed on Iraqi WMD assessments expressed concern about bias or error."

"Hans Blix, the former chief of the international weapons inspectors, ... told the U.N. in January 2003 that despite America’s ultimatum, Saddam was still not complying fully with his U.N. pledges. In February, he said “many proscribed weapons and items,” including 1,000 tons of chemical agent, were still “not accounted for.”"

"Years would pass before U.S. soldiers found remnants of some 5,000 inoperable chemical munitions made before the first Gulf War that Saddam claimed to have destroyed. Not until 2014 would the U.S. learn that some of Iraq’s degraded sarin nerve agent was purer than Americans had expected and was sickening Iraqi and American soldiers who had stumbled upon it."

"A two-year study by Charles Duelfer, the former deputy chief of the U.N. inspectors who led America’s hunt for WMD in Iraq, concluded that Saddam Hussein was playing a double game, trying (on the one hand) to get sanctions lifted and inspectors out of Iraq and (on the other) to persuade Iran and other foes that he had retained WMD. Not even the Iraqi dictator himself knew for sure what his stockpiles contained, Mr. Duelfer argued. Often forgotten is Mr. Duelfer’s well-documented warning that Saddam intended to restore his WMD programs once sanctions were lifted."

Comment: Re:CIA provided faulty information ... (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49724297) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

Bush made up some evidence

No, the CIA gave him faulty information. New York Times journalist has been researching how she got the WMD story wrong in her reporting back in the day and she writes in http://www.wsj.com/articles/th...

Here's how Paul Krugman described it (more convincingly, to me).

From Judith Miller's article again:

"OK, I had some help from a duplicitous vice president, Dick Cheney. Then there was George W. Bush, a gullible president who could barely locate Iraq on a map and who wanted to avenge his father and enrich his friends in the oil business. And don’t forget the neoconservatives in the White House and the Pentagon who fed cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, or WMD, to reporters like me. None of these assertions happens to be true, though all were published and continue to have believers. This is not how wars come about, and it is surely not how the war in Iraq occurred. Nor is it what I did as a reporter for the New York Times. These false narratives deserve, at last, to be retired."

"Another enduring misconception is that intelligence analysts were “pressured” into altering their estimates to suit the policy makers’ push to war. Although a few former officials complained about such pressure, several thorough, bipartisan inquiries found no evidence of it. The 2005 commission led by former Democratic Sen. Charles Robb and conservative Republican Judge Laurence Silberman called the estimates “dead wrong,” blaming what it called a “major” failure on the intelligence community’s “inability to collect good informationserious errors in analyzing what information it could gather, and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions.” A year earlier, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence denounced such failures as the product of “group think,” rooted in a fear of underestimating grave threats to national security in the wake of 9/11."

Comment: Re:The no-WMD crowd was accidentally correct (Score 1) 263

by drnb (#49724285) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

But everyone in the intelligence sector did know they didn't have WMDs. This was known, hence all the anger when the "intel" was trotted about - people knew it was nonsense. There was no "accidentally correct", just people who knew their stuff and who screamed the claims were bullshit.

Nope. You are mistaken. A New York Times journalist has been researching how she got the WMD story wrong in her reporting back in the day and she writes in http://www.wsj.com/articles/th...

"There was no shortage of mistakes about Iraq, and I made my share of them. The newsworthy claims of some of my prewar WMD stories were wrong. But so is the enduring, pernicious accusation that the Bush administration fabricated WMD intelligence to take the country to war."

"My sources were the same counterterrorism, arms-control and Middle East analysts on whom I had relied for my stories about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s growing threat to America—a series published eight months before 9/11 for which the Times staff, including me, won a Pulitzer."

"Another enduring misconception is that intelligence analysts were “pressured” into altering their estimates to suit the policy makers’ push to war. Although a few former officials complained about such pressure, several thorough, bipartisan inquiries found no evidence of it."

"The CIA repeatedly assured President Bush that Saddam Hussein still had WMD. Foreign intelligence agencies, even those whose nations opposed war, shared this view. And so did Congress. Over the previous 15 years, noted Stuart Cohen, the former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, none of the congressional committees routinely briefed on Iraqi WMD assessments expressed concern about bias or error."

"Hans Blix, the former chief of the international weapons inspectors, ... told the U.N. in January 2003 that despite America’s ultimatum, Saddam was still not complying fully with his U.N. pledges. In February, he said “many proscribed weapons and items,” including 1,000 tons of chemical agent, were still “not accounted for.”"

"Years would pass before U.S. soldiers found remnants of some 5,000 inoperable chemical munitions made before the first Gulf War that Saddam claimed to have destroyed. Not until 2014 would the U.S. learn that some of Iraq’s degraded sarin nerve agent was purer than Americans had expected and was sickening Iraqi and American soldiers who had stumbled upon it."

"A two-year study by Charles Duelfer, the former deputy chief of the U.N. inspectors who led America’s hunt for WMD in Iraq, concluded that Saddam Hussein was playing a double game, trying (on the one hand) to get sanctions lifted and inspectors out of Iraq and (on the other) to persuade Iran and other foes that he had retained WMD. Not even the Iraqi dictator himself knew for sure what his stockpiles contained, Mr. Duelfer argued. Often forgotten is Mr. Duelfer’s well-documented warning that Saddam intended to restore his WMD programs once sanctions were lifted."

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