published Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Exiting Iraq

about Clay Bennett...

The son of a career army officer, Bennett led a nomadic life, attending ten different schools before graduating in 1980 from the University of North Alabama with degrees in Art and History. After brief stints as a staff artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fayetteville (NC) Times, he went on to serve as the editorial cartoonist for the St. Petersburg Times (1981-1994) and The Christian Science Monitor (1997-2007), before joining the staff of the ...

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nucanuck said...

In our country so badly in need of internal healing,we continue to persue a foreign policy of military expansion and aggression.The cartoon is wrong,there is a way out of Iraq a Afghanistan.When we the people say,NO MORE,in a firm and resolute voice,our troops will come home and the healing can begin.Until we,as a people,reach that consensous,the carnage and our decline will continue.

August 26, 2009 at 2:16 a.m.
alprova said...

A nice change of pace.

My opinion on this one is very simple. We need to just get the heck out of the Middle East altogether and instead focus on keeping those who would terrorize US citizens off-shore.

As we have seen, our leaving Iraq has not lessened any threat to it's people and in fact, the predicted escalations have began. It will be no different in Afghanistan.

Terrorists are like roach bugs. They'll hide when the lights are on and come out to run around when the coast is clear. We'll never bring them all to justice or dispose of them as they deserve.

Spending all of this money on the "war against terror," while lucrative for those who are in the business of supporting our military, has produced nothing but long term debt that will never be justified. The progress in alleviating terror, by any measure, has been far less than desirable in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bring the men and women back home, focus on protecting our borders, and let the Middle East take care themselves. Liberating Iraq did not produce any allies and it will be no different if we spend a decade in Afghanistan.

Osama Bin Laden is a ghost, whether he is alive or already dead. Even if the man were to be found tomorrow and brought to justice according to our rules, it will not stop terrorism. There are plenty of extremists willing to step in and assume his leadership. These people only know one thing, and that is to terrorize people relentlessly and fight to their unnatural death.

Personally, I'm for a systematic loading up of all the peace-seeking people of the region, relocating them, and dropping a bomb on the region to kill off the roaches, but I realize that the idea is not very realistic or logistically possible.

Whatever the future brings, I doubt we will have any more success in reforming the Middle East than others have had. If we were fighting anything other than ghosts, we might stand a chance.

August 26, 2009 at 2:22 a.m.
EaTn said...

With all the lives, limbs and millions spent in Iraq the country is likely to be absorbed by Syria and Iran eventually with the ancient Euphrates dividing line.

Afghanistan is a different animal to tame, mainly because of the unstable effect it would have on Pakistan and it's nuclear arsenal. Let's hope we don't follow the path of the Soviets.

August 26, 2009 at 4:40 a.m.
moonpie said...

The middle east has always been, and remains, a graveyard for diplomacy.

We have been trying to fight conventional war against an enemy who will strap bombs to themselves to irradicate us. They don't quiver in fear of our might.

We started this mess in Iraq. I was against it before the word go, but I think we have a responsibility for the mess we created. We must ensure, to the best of our ability, that they have a government that can stand up against the disintegrating forces that will set upon it at our withdrawal.

Same basic problems in Afghanistan. It's ironic that we're trying to rebuild this country by helping it regain many of the accomplishments of the Soviets. (CIA declassified documents are fascinating on this. They outlined the strategy to erradicate the Soviets was to destabilize gains made due to Soviet policy, e.g. women's equality and functioning courts as just two examples, and replace the rule of law with religious fundamentalism. In other words, we supported anti-American ideals. Any wonder we have a credibility problem in the region?) Sadly, after 9-11, these documents were removed from, or relocated within the CIA website. If anyone stumples upon them in another location, let me know. Very illuminating.

August 26, 2009 at 6:16 a.m.
woody said...

Exit strategy. The most overused, overblown phrase or concept since the word diplomacy was first uttered.

The only exit strategy we need to employ is to tell the last person to leave to turn out the lights as they go.

Diplomacy was, and is still, useful to the point where two or more persons, with open minds, could discuss problems and options to overcome them.

The operative words, remember, are "open minds." And, I am sure, there are fewer of those in the Middle East than in all of Washington, D.C.

No outside force has ever made much of a difference, or a lasting one, in that region due to one rigid fact. The only thing those people hate worse than any opposing sects to their own beliefs are interlopers from outside their 'narrow-minded' little world attempting to interfere in all of their in-fighting.

Thank you for your time and attention, Woody

August 26, 2009 at 7:25 a.m.
Sailorman said...

Alprova - There are ice cubes in Hades as we speak. I couldn't agree more. In fact, so far it appears we all agree - but it's early yet :)

August 26, 2009 at 8:12 a.m.
aces25 said...

I was for going into Iraq for core purpose of removing Saddam Hussein to end the atrocities he was responsible for against the people of Iraq. However, after he was captured and removed from power, I believe our overall strategy afterward was poorly executed leading to the the discontent of many Americans.

That being said, I still believe there is a purpose as to why we should be in the Middle East. With the US showing an example of support for the governments of that region who are willing to become more diplomatic in their relations, signs of government stability have been seen over the past few years(such as elections, increases in Iraqi military, etc). Terrorism will always be a problem in that region, but now the fight can remain more internal rather than spreading to other countries.

We have to remember too that the US has not had to institute the draft to get individuals to sign up for any of the armed forces. Apparently there are enough people who believe in the war to keep the armed forces staffed at an acceptable level. If there was a majority outcry against the war, major staffing problems would be prevalent. People get so upset over the number of those who have sacrificed their lives willingly for a cause they believe in (all of whom deserve the greatest honor and respect we can give). However, so many more people die from smoking every year, but yet we don't hear about people all up in arms about that. Both are choices, but at least one is honorable.

I don't believe the action of war is a good thing and not always the answer, but the intentions of war can be when it is necessary. And as much as it could be argued, I believe the intentions of the US are good.

August 26, 2009 at 8:23 a.m.
nativecitizen said...

I agree also. The Middle East has been fighting for over two thousand years, and it will no stop until the LORD returns. That being said, stop the US sticking its nose into others affairs, and get out. Let them all blow themselves to ALLAH. Good riddence.

August 26, 2009 at 8:43 a.m.
rolando said...

So far agreement is unanimous. The cubes have melted, indeed.

Clay, congratulations. This has GOT to be a first.

We have gone from one quagmire right into another. Anyone know exactly why we are in this one? Iraq at least kept the monsters off our doorstep but this??

August 26, 2009 at 9:25 a.m.
trburrows said...

alprova You seem to indicate preference to isolationism. We could all come home, seal our borders, not let anyone in and stop trading/feeding the world. With all our resources staying here a lot of countries and people would dissapear. Is that what you are saying?

August 26, 2009 at 9:37 a.m.
nucanuck said...

trburrows

The opposite of worldwide miltary basing and intervention should never be isolation.Of course the US should have worldwide commercial and cultural exchange with others.To imply that isolation would be the result of redeploying our military to US bases is simply a canard.

August 26, 2009 at 10:37 a.m.
trburrows said...

nucanuck

While I do not agree with isolation it would give us a huge barganing chip with countries that can't self-sustain.

August 26, 2009 at 11:19 a.m.
nucanuck said...

trburrows

At this moment in time,the US is looking like one of the countries that can't self-sustain.

August 26, 2009 at 11:31 a.m.
JohnnyRingo said...

At my last count, 60+ NATO countries are still involved in Afghanistan. If it's a quagmire (it is), at least we share the burden (albeit disproportionately) with most of the free world. I remember Russia's warning: "You can attack Afghanistan, you can defeat them, but you'll never hold Afghanistan". If we could find a Persian, he'd likely say the same.

In a country best described as a wilderness crossroad, even President Karzai is known as "The Mayor of Kabul" because of his lack of control over anything outside the civilized border of the capital. We'd have to build up much of the country at great cost before we could even begin to bomb it back to the stone age.

I ultimately wonder who we're benefitting with our presence there, Pakistan or India? I doubt it's all about some noble gesture of beating the Taliban.

August 26, 2009 at 12:47 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

Having listened to hours of firsthand stories about recent Afghan "adventures", and read of the British and Soviet incursions, I'll join in the consensus we seem to have here today and say winning the war is not likely. Furthermore, even if it were likely, the costs, in both treasure and blood will never be justified by any perceived gains we may experience.

We have the finest military on the planet, we own the seas and the skies. I'm pretty hawkish when it comes to putting the hurt on those who would do us harm, but I am enough of a realist to understand that controlling the ground in a near stone-age wasteland on the far side of the planet, can turn to a devil's errand rather quickly.

It doesn't help that our "allies", i.e. the locals we pay to assist our SF teams, have gobs of hashish with their tea for breakfast and therefore are of little use, other than for entertainment.

The current "government" is not likely to maintain what little control they have without the U.S. presence as their army is a joke. The basic mechanized unit consists of five thoroughly baked goat herders with AK-47's riding in the back of a Toyota pickup truck. Brave men all, I'm sure. Formidable against their Taliban opponents? Not really.

As much as I'd like to see the citizens of Afghanistan have a better life, I'm not sure it is possible to help them, even if we, as a nation, thought it was in our interests to do so.

August 26, 2009 at 1:53 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

JohnyRingo wrote,

"We'd have to build up much of the country at great cost before we could even begin to bomb it back to the stone age."

Ain't that the truth!


rolando wrote,

"Anyone know exactly why we are in this one?"

Lashing out at the closest tie to those who killed our people right here in this country. I do think we should keep after any terror groups we can find, but that can be done with UAV assets with little or no cost in blood, and greatly reduced cost in treasure.


moonpie wrote,

"The middle east has always been, and remains, a graveyard for diplomacy."

This is very true. It is difficult to come to an understanding with some one who does not share our belief in the value of human life.


EaTn wrote,

"Let's hope we don't follow the path of the Soviets."

This is my fear as well, as the bad guys will be emboldened by our defeat.


alprova wrote,

"Personally, I'm for a systematic loading up of all the peace-seeking people of the region, relocating them, and dropping a bomb on the region to kill off the roaches, but I realize that the idea is not very realistic or logistically possible."

I agree it is not really possible, but I like the way you think.

August 26, 2009 at 2:31 p.m.
trburrows said...

alprova wrote,

"Personally, I'm for a systematic loading up of all the peace-seeking people of the region, relocating them, and dropping a bomb on the region to kill off the roaches, but I realize that the idea is not very realistic or logistically possible."

I agree it is not really possible, but I like the way you think. Username: SCOTTYM | On: August 26, 2009 at 2:31 p.m.

Why not.....Truman did it.

August 26, 2009 at 2:38 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

trburrows,

We could turn Afghanistan into a dead zone really quick, 30 minutes max. It's the removing the peace-seeking people first that is the problem.

Truman did not have to contend with peace-seeking people in the zone as the entire population of Japan had been militarized and were willing to do the bidding of the Emperor up to and including their own death.

Truman's actions saved 100s of thousands of American lives and probably 10 million Japanese lives.

Total war gets ugly.

August 26, 2009 at 2:50 p.m.
Clara said...

I'll believe it when it happens!

Oh, the poooooor arms suppliers and contractors are going to feel the recession. Sob! C:-)

August 26, 2009 at 3:05 p.m.
trburrows said...

ScottyM

Our last 2 posts show two types of people. One who jumps the gun and goes in before thinking, read Bush, and the other shows one who thinks, reasons, analises(sp) before making a decision, read you. Its been a pleasure. Thanks.

August 26, 2009 at 3:11 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

Clara wrote,

"Oh, the poooooor arms suppliers and contractors are going to feel the recession."

I don't know, most of the firearm and ammo manufacturers are months behind on supplies to the civilian market. Many of us have curtailed our range time as we can't replace the ammo we use up, and trying to get mil-type weapons can sometimes involve 3-4 month waiting periods. It'll take them quite some time to catch up on that. Plus, the fact is, war or no, the Pentagon will still be buying if only to replace those assets used up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our munitions supplies are low, and most of our heavy artillery, vehicals, and choppers need refurbishment or replacement. The arms manufacturers will not likely suffer. It is, unfortunately, a growth industry.

"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." - George Washington, First Annual Address to Congress, January 8, 1790

Our guys take that pretty seriously.

August 26, 2009 at 3:25 p.m.
dtsDadof6 said...

Never fear, fellow sheep. … der savior will find the way out!

August 26, 2009 at 4:34 p.m.
rolando said...

We aren't there just to kill off those leaders who planned the leveling of the WTC. Those guys are in Pakistan living it up, although our Predators are taking them out slowly...at the cost of media-publicized collateral damage. [I say, ya hang with the big dogs you're gonna get bit.]

There must be something at least as important as our entry into Iraq. I hope so, anyway. I can imagine what our troops think...at least they can see the people they help.

August 26, 2009 at 5:08 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

rolando,

Well, we went there to get those responsible for planning, organizing, and financing 9/11, and to topple the Taliban who allowed (or were powerless to stop) them to base there. I agree that it is pretty clear many of the AQ leaders slipped across the border into Pakistan, or at least into the mountainous border region. What happened next is good (BAD really) old mission creep, the bane of limited warfare.

We are now engaged in propping up the new Afghan government against the resurgent Taliban. We were attempting to diminish the drug production, but I do believe that has been abandoned for the most part. It's been a while since my guy was there, but he says they were still picking up assorted AQ guys here and there and drilling them for info on leadership whereabouts, sometimes with a bit of success. We are most assuredly spreading large amounts of U.S. dollars around in the form of cash bribes to warlords in order to shift their allegiance toward the new government. Of course that only lasts as long as the dollars do.

Some of this has surely changed as the U.S. leadership has changed. I really doubt our efforts are any more effective now than they have been in the past. It seems like the only thing we are getting right are those UAV operations, and the SF sniper teams in the mountains. Perhaps we need to pull out everyone besides the basics for the launch and recovery operations for the UAV's, plus the security forces to cover those guys, leave a few SF teams in the mountains, and just do the death from above thing. It's not like the Taliban, AQ, or even the Pakistani's can do anything to stop the drones. They fly at too high of an altitude to hit with a rock, which pretty much makes up the extent of their air defenses.

If it were I sitting behind the Resolute desk that is exactly what I would do. Some SF guys in the mountains doing the wet work as necessary, and the UAV program. There is no need for 60,000+ troops and their massive logistical footprint, and attendant costs.

August 26, 2009 at 7:21 p.m.
aae1049 said...

My recent studies of 8th grade history have reminded me that history predicts human behavior more than psychology. Conflict has always existed, nation against nation, and is always brewing in small groups with a hidden agendas and plots to take over. There is always a group that conquers, attempts to conquer or divide. The result new churches were created, new cities, and my gosh political groups.

Got to go and get ready for Dem meeting to conquer.

August 26, 2009 at 9:41 p.m.
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