2005 November 03 Thursday
October 2005 Iraq Coalition Death Rate 5th Highest Since Start Of War

Check out the Iraq Coalition Casualties web page. The October 2005 daily death rate of 3.19 is the 5th highest since the war began. The 4 higher months were January 2005 (4.7 daily death rate), April 2004 (4.67), November 2003(3.67), and March 2003 (7.67).

Factors that did not prevent such a high death rate include:

  • The continuing program to up-armor Humvees, trucks, and other vehicles.
  • The build up of the Iraqi government's military, police, and intelligence forces.
  • Improvements in US efforts to gather intelligence.
  • Death toll of insurgents.
  • Efforts to destroy and block insurgent logistics facilities and paths.
  • Improvements in US forces tactics and training.

The enemy forces have improved faster than coalition forces have improved.

Civilian contractor casualties are also way up.

As the violence of the protracted war continues and some 75,000 civilian employees struggle to rebuild the war-torn nation and support the military, contractor casualties mount. Their deaths have more than tripled in the past 13 months.

As of Monday, 428 civilian contractors had been killed in Iraq and another 3,963 were injured, according to Department of Labor insurance-claims statistics obtained by Knight Ridder.

Increasing use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and improvements in IED design are behind the increased US death rate.

It took about 18 months from the start of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq to reach 1,000 U.S. deaths; it took less than 13 months to reach 1,000 more. A major reason for the surge, statistics show, is the insurgency's embrace of IEDs, together with the military's inability to detect them.

Think about that. The US casualty rate is higher. This is a very inconvenient fact for that minority of the US population who still support the war.

Nearly two thirds of combat deaths are from IEDs.

In the first six months of battle in Iraq, only 11 soldiers -- about 4 percent of the 289 who died -- were killed by homemade roadside bombs. In the last six months, at least 214 service members have been killed by IEDs, or 63 percent of the 339 combat-related deaths and 53 percent of the 400 U.S. fatalities, according to data complied by the Brookings Institution's Iraq Index.

The IED taskforce might soon get a higher ranking general and more coordination of resources across government agencies.

A small task force launched in July 2004 and led by a one-star officer, Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, has been credited with developing various technologies to combat the IED threat -- such as equipping soldiers with electronic devices to detonate the makeshift bombs before they can damage U.S. military convoys. The task force has an annual budget of about $1.2 billion.

Yet the insurgents have been able to build bigger, more powerful bombs capable of shredding the armor of military vehicles and decimating five-ton trucks.

Some military officials complain that the Pentagon has made little progress getting the White House to pressure agencies such as the CIA, FBI and Department of Energy to devote more resources and full-time personnel to the anti-IED effort. One difficulty they cite is that a one-star general tends to wield little influence in the government hierarchy.

The US military has also been slow to acquire better armoured vehicles to replace Humvees. Even up-armored Humvees can't cut it against the better IEDs. But as IEDs improve even further with shaped charges and more potent explosives can any vehicle protect its occupants against them?

Maybe the IED problem is unsolvable. Or maybe it can't be solved with the current procurement practices and relationships between US government agencies. My solution: Declare victory and leave. Saves money. Saves lives. Leaves the Iraqis to decide among themselves whether the Shias or Sunnis will rule the Arab areas. We could guarantee a friendly government in the Kurdish area by simply supplying them with arms.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 November 03 09:22 AM  Mideast Iraq


Comments
daveg said at November 3, 2005 9:25 AM:

Israel did not solve the IED problem in Lebanon. They eventually left.

Ivan Kirigin said at November 3, 2005 10:20 AM:

"Israel did not solve the IED problem in Lebanon. They eventually left."

Israel still hasn't solved their problems in Lebanon: Syria. The international community will probably help them with that soon enough.

Similarly, we won't solve our real problem, Al Queda, by leaving Iraq. In fact, that problem would get worse, not better, as the ensuing chaos of an immediate departure would provide a haven of Al Queda. Also, instead of their having prepared US military personnel to attack, they would seek to attack elsewhere.

Before I asked about the reason why there hasn't been an attack.

The clear answer is that Al Queda is focusing on Iraq. We will kill more Al Queda members, and have fewer casualties (and certainly fewer civilian casualties) in the war against islamofascism, by staying in Iraq.

Again, the point of our stay in Iraq is NOT to minimize US casualties. It is to attack Al Queda on their turf. Whether you believe Iraq was a threat under Saddam, it is currently a potential threat if left to Al Queda.

That is why we are staying. Our military personnel knows this, which is why there is overwhelming support for our efforts there. They aren't brainwashed.

Invisible Scientist said at November 3, 2005 12:12 PM:

Ivan Kirigin: Are you saying that Bush invaded Iraq in order to focus the attention of Al Qaeda to the American troops over there so that the efforts of Al Qaeda are deflected from attacking the United States at home? This is an interesting idea, but if this is the real pattern, it also means that ironically, Randall Parker's method of "Declare victory and leave", will provoke a lot more September 11 type attacks in the United States! Additionally, if the United States leaves Iraq, then I am not sure how exactly we will manage the situation when Saudi Arabia also collapses into chaos... One of the main arguments was against letting the extremists monopolize the oil money because of the fact that this would allow them to obtain weapons of mass demolition that will be smuggled to Paris, to demand more open immigration to France.

Ivan Kirigin said at November 3, 2005 12:32 PM:

One of the primary reasons to go into Iraq was the threat of Saddam's regime. His potential/presumed weapons, combined with Al Queda, were intolerable. Strategic reasons are another, with the potential for a valuable ally in the heart of the Middle East. "Cultural Strategy" is yet another, where western institutions in the ME induce reform throughout the area. This is certainly happening. Humanitarian motivations abound.

They 'flypaper' strategy is another. Yes, I think it was one of the reasons in going in.

All the bases were covered:
1) If we win fast, without a big fight from foreign fighters, we have a stronghold in the ME.
2) If we don't, and Al Queda and Baathists take some time to kill, we'll end up killing more of em and certain distracting them.

Unfortunately, the administration is bad at conveying these ideas. Perhaps thatís why people like Randall think the point of military operations is to minimize military casualties.

I am most certain there would be _more_ attacks on US soil if we leave Iraq, and let the fascists take over. If not "take over" necessarily; you'll have Taliban-era style camps, without a doubt.

Rob said at November 3, 2005 12:54 PM:

Great idea. We "declare victory" and leave, say by Christmas.

By Valentines day or so 25,000 Iraqi civilians ("collaborators") would be dead, the newly elected government would be in hiding and a variety of military strongmen would be vying for control of the country. Syria and Iran would be openly pouring militants across the newly opened border and Turkey would seal its border with troops, cutting off the Turks in northern Iraq. Even if they were perfect, the Iraqi Army and Police are not yet well equipped - particularly when it comes to armor - and they would fold in a few days.

Lawlessness and anarchy would rule Iraq until someone strong enough, say one of Saddam's relatives, came to power and plunged the country back into totalitarianism.

But hey, no Americans need be killed in the process, so I guess it's a great option for us. Oh, except for that part about sending the message that if you just nibble along and kill a few Americans, you can always win.

Why wasn't the fact that SEPTEMBER was a month of UNUSUALLY LOW casualties in Iraq also a story? Don't you know that Ramadan is the best month for martyrdom? That they had an election that needed disrupting in October?

silchiuk said at November 3, 2005 2:01 PM:

I am thinking that when you graphing casualties in war always get smooth decreasing curve from start to finish of war. Why does this be? Every war every time. Liking ski slope. Uncanning.
You be objecting big battle happen near end of war with big casualty? Never happen.

Stephen said at November 3, 2005 2:07 PM:

Rob, the interesting thing is that the 'insurgents' didn't target the constitutional poll. Similarly, they don't appear to have disrupted the election before that. Now, you might say that their disruption attempts failed because of the maximum effort the US put in to security, but if that were the case I'd expect to have seen lots of fire fights as the US defended the polling areas; or, have expected to see lots of IEDs exploding in unprotected areas away from the polls. The fact the insurgents didn't do either when they obviously have the capability implies that they have a more sophisticated strategy and coordination ability than they are given credit for.

As for the Iraqi army, I think its a good bet that if they get armour tomorrow morning, the insurgents will be driving around in it by the afternoon.

Finally, a general comment on AQ's strategy. Most people seem to assume that AQ's objective is to attack the west. I think this isn't entirely correct. Rather, I think their highest priority is to overthrow Saudi Arabia (even above overthrowing Israel). Attacking the west is just a means to an end - ie west supports Saudi Arabia and Isreal, so the west needs to be encouraged to stop that support. Before the mad Iraqi adventure, AQ was stuck in a bunch of caves in unfashionable and remote Afghanistan, but if the US withdraws from Iraq, AQ will be right next door to Saudi and will have plenty of resources to infiltrate and overthrow.

Hugh Angell said at November 3, 2005 2:31 PM:

The Brits have said that Iran is behind the murder of their troops recently in the formerly calm Basra area. Say
it is retaliation for British pressure over Iranian nuclear weapons programs.Berlusconi seems to fear the
same could happen to Italy's troops if they vote to send Iran to the UNSC for sanctions or one might guess that is
behind his complaint to the White House.

Why subduing and pacifying the far less strategic and oil rich Afghanistan is considered a useful and necessary goal
for NATO, the UN but not Iraq is something 'strategists' like Randall Parker fail to address. Canada for example is
fully involved im Afghanistan but not in Iraq. I think that is because they are basically "yellow" ( not their soldiers
their government) and fear the Islamofascists will hit them (or Germany or France hard who also find fighting in Kabul
worthwhile) if they were to do the same in the real prize/objective which is now Iraq. Were we to fail in Iraq then
it is likely the entire western position in the Middle east would collapse.

A few years later we would be back fighting a war of annihilation with nuclear armed Islamofascists. The casualties of
the entire war would happen every week. We would probably have to start in North Africa and not stop till our army
reached India or the Indian army heading east.

FriendlyFire said at November 3, 2005 3:32 PM:

1) If we win fast, without a big fight from foreign fighters, we have a stronghold in the ME.
2) If we don't, and Al Queda and Baathists take some time to kill, we'll end up killing more of em and certain distracting them.

That seems to me very overly opptimistic and boredering on delusional. Epecially given the current situation nd events such a statement seems contridictory. The Administration may have claimed such ideological goals at the start of Gulf II yet the sntire disconnected planning, incompetence and crimminal negligence has lead us down a path where we are today. Such goals now no longer resemble the reality.

1) The US has failed to consolidate Afganistain, the result and instability of the region is in the balance. Yet the US were able to win fast and with minimal causalties. The failure to establish a "stronghold" Afganistain is now becoming a serious problem with the country awash with drugs and lack of Coalition troops having little impact.

2) Iraq has turned in a large recuiting and trainning ground for the terrorist. Money, arms and manpower is flowing into Iraq as the result of the invasion. US military resourses and thu options have been very stretched thou limiting the Military should it be needed else where.

gcochran said at November 3, 2005 3:34 PM:

Crazy as bedbugs. Only interesting up to a point.

daveg said at November 3, 2005 4:19 PM:

Invading Lebanon was a bad idea. To say Israel still have a problem is not accurate, however.

Israel has come very close to solving its terrorism problem. The additional of the wall has reduced terrorism substantially. And the wall is not even complete.

It is getting to the point were the amount of terrorism is livable, and they just might be able to stomp out that last bit in the next few years.

The point is that invading another country is absolutely not the way to make your country safe. You need to keep those who wish to do you harm out of your country. That should be easy for the US, with huge oceans separating us from our enemies. But our unwillingness to undertake a sane immigration policy prevents us from taking these very basic and simple steps.

Marvin said at November 3, 2005 4:52 PM:

A sound immigration policy is one of the first steps to national security. The borders have to be secured. The fact that neither major political party is capable of standing up for the american people does not bode well for america's future. Making the hard decisions is why people elect their officials in the first place. If they are too weak for that, of what use are they?

Stephen said at November 3, 2005 5:24 PM:

Hugh said:

Why subduing and pacifying the far less strategic and oil rich Afghanistan is considered a useful and necessary goal for NATO, the UN but not Iraq is something 'strategists' like Randall Parker fail to address. Canada for example is fully involved im Afghanistan but not in Iraq. I think that is because they are basically "yellow" ( not their soldiers their government) and fear the Islamofascists will hit them (or Germany or France hard who also find fighting in Kabul worthwhile) if they were to do the same in the real prize/objective which is now Iraq. Were we to fail in Iraq then it is likely the entire western position in the Middle east would collapse.

Many countries, including your evil Canadians, Germans and French, were actively in favour of, and continue to participate in, the Afghanistan operation for several reasons: (1) Osama and AQ lived there; (2) the vacuum in Afghanistan was a haven for Osama & AQ; (3) Afghanistan didn't have the capability or will to dismantle and handover AQ.

None of the above applied in Iraq. Not in the slightest. Unfortunately, that's not to say it won't apply in the future now that the US has done everything in its power to create the necessary pre-conditions in Iraq.

daveg said at November 3, 2005 6:44 PM:


Do you think that some don't want america to use immigration control as a solution for terrorism becuase it will only solve the problem for america, and not other countries?

Ivan Kirigin said at November 3, 2005 9:12 PM:

"Israel has come very close to solving its terrorism problem."

The only development which would bring a close to Israel's problems is Iran nuclear program.

"The point is that invading another country is absolutely not the way to make your country safe. You need to keep those who wish to do you harm out of your country. That should be easy for the US, with huge oceans separating us from our enemies. But our unwillingness to undertake a sane immigration policy prevents us from taking these very basic and simple steps."

You drastically underestimate how easy attacking an open society is. I'm not talking about open borders, I'm talking about the level of personal freedom that is unacceptable to give up.

You stop those attacks by killing those who would do them, not by trying real hard to keep them out of your country. The fact a single person with some electrical engineering knowledge could bring down a powergrid for a city (if not a state), with minimal explosives and off-the-shelf components, means that, at best, a secure border is only part of the problem.

Also, using a phrase like "invading another country is absolutely..." removes all context from the situation, and begs the question of whether Iraq was a threat. It isn't like we invaded Jamaica, or some other random country. Further, it isn't like we started having a militant islamist problem with the invasion. The idea that we are less safe because certain people were once normal, but decided to become martyrs because we took down a Stalinist dictatorship, is crazy. Those willing to die to hurt the west of infidels did not get that way because of unreasonable action on the part of their enemies. It is they with the problem, not us.

gcochran said at November 3, 2005 9:49 PM:

In inteviews of a couple of hundred non-Iraqi jihadists we have captured (Saudis, etc), about 85% appears to have developed such interests as a result of our invasion of Iraq. When you look at opinion polls of the Arab and Islamic world (Pew polls), you see the same thing a huge drop in favorable attitudes towards the Us as a direct consequencee of our invasion of Iraq. This was predictable: I'm quite sure of it, because I and a number of others predicted it. People who dismiss predictabkle results as unthinkable are losers.

Iraq was no threat: only a foolish or profoundly ignorant person (.e. practically anybody, evidently) could have believed that they were. Their next-door neighbors didn't think so, except probably for Kuwait, which is weaker than a fleae. Turkey didn't think so, nor did Jordan.

Fortunately, even though we've tripled or quadrupled the threat ( at a cost of about $200 bllion dollars), Islamic terrorism is still an insginificant strategic threat, a considerably smaller danger than carbon monoxide poisoning or asbestos-induced mesothelioma, which of course nobody ever thinks about. I figure they're around 100,000 times weaker than the old Soviet Union in its prime. They consists of a few hundred to a few thousand ragheads (worldwide) with no money, no industrial base, no technology, etc). If I were in a cosmically bad mood, I'd be more of a threat to Western civlization than they are. A lot more.

Invisible Scientist said at November 3, 2005 11:14 PM:

gcochran:
1) Many Republicans are too isolated to pay attention to the cultures of other countries, and in particular, it is very difficult for them to accept the other cultures as equals. No matter how much we pretended to be the saviors of the Iraqi people, we certainly did not act as if they were our equals, but we still expected them to accept what we offer.
2) Right now, with the future possibility of weapons of mass destruction, the danger of Islamic terrorismm is much greater than your statistical estimates which are based on the September 11 era. The new era will be very different within 5 to 10 years because the new terrorist weapons will be unimaginably more destructive.

gcochran said at November 3, 2005 11:55 PM:


Dream on.

Stephen said at November 4, 2005 1:17 AM:

Invisible, if AQ (or their ilk) could get their hands on these weapons they would have done it already. Even then, my guess is that they'd be more likely to pull the pin in downtown Riyadh rather than any western capital.

Bulldog said at November 4, 2005 5:03 AM:

IS points out that some people are living in the pre-9/11 era. That would throw their time calculations off considerably.
Stephen points out that if AQ hasn't done something by now, they never will. That seems like a questionable assertion.
My friend who works for a newspaper says Iraq is just like Vietnam. What does she mean I wonder when she was born in 1975?
Somebody seems to be claiming that war casualties are like a ski ramp starting high and getting steadily smaller down to zero which tells you the war's over. That's interesting considering in real wars the deciding battles can be especially bloody.
You'd almost think the neoconns are colluding with the radical mullahs to get as many young excitable muslims killed as possible. Invading Iraq was sure to get the blood boiling in all the madrassas around the world. Recipe for jihad. Killing women and children going shopping is easy for a jihad. Why are they mad at the women and kids? Jihads are not very smart.

daveg said at November 4, 2005 7:07 AM:

You drastically underestimate how easy attacking an open society is. I'm not talking about open borders, I'm talking about the level of personal freedom that is unacceptable to give up.

No, it is you who drastically overestimate how easy it is. We have not had an attack on US soil since 9/11, even with our lax immigration policies. Again Israel has reduced attacks from neiboring regions simply by building a wall. How easy is that!

Regarding nuclear bombs, N. Korea already has nuclear bombs and has a leadership that is at least as unstable as Iran. N. Korea is also in far closer proximity to the US. We are pursing disarmament talks with them. I fail to see why Iran, which is still years away from gaining even marginal nuclear capability, it more of a threat than N. Korea. It is obviously much less of a threat really.

Ivan Kirigin said at November 4, 2005 8:43 AM:

daveg, November 3, 2005 09:49 PM
"If I were in a cosmically bad mood, I'd be more of a threat to Western civlization than they are. A lot more."

daveg, November 4, 2005 07:07 AM
"No, it is you who drastically overestimate how easy it is."

Pardon the flame, but you're obviously just an idiot. Use of terms like "ragheads" adds insult to idiocy. Don't be surprised if I ignore your comments in the future.

"My friend who works for a newspaper says Iraq is just like Vietnam. What does she mean I wonder when she was born in 1975?"

For fun, plot the by-month fatalities of both wars. People trying to find trends in the Iraq war death rate should observe that this graph just looks like noise. This means it's more complicated than "we're doing good/bad, less/more people are dieing". The curve for Vietnam is very smooth, with a peak in the center. I'll post a picture of the contrast shortly.

Randall Parker said at November 4, 2005 9:11 AM:

Ivan,

You need to work on your reading comprehension skills. You just combined daveg and Greg Cochran into a single person.

Also, Ph.D. physicist Greg and former mega weapons designer really does have the skill set and the intellect to build weapons of mass destruction.

Ragheads: The point is that the Arabs, on average, are far less intellectually capable than white folks. To ignore that in calculations of relative threats is folly and leads to incredibly stupid policy.

Speaking as someone who is realistic about human nature and human biodiversity I was foolish myself before the Iraq invasion because I took the pronouncements of former weapons inspectors like David Kay and assorted other talking heads above my own intuition that such a poor, dumb, divided country with a limited amount of money and a much declined living standard couldn't possibly be accomplishing much.

daveg said at November 4, 2005 9:20 AM:

Hey Ivan, you are the idiot because the "quotes" you attribute to me are from someone else.

And BTW, we would not have gone into Iraq just to democratize it. Most of the countries in this world are not democracies. We don't invade them.

The only reason we invaded Iraq was it supposedly posed a threat to us. The fact that it was not and that the evidence to convince us that it was fraudulent means the war was not worth it.

Anything that occurs after the fact may be a benefit, but the results do not justify the war overall.

Ivan Kirigin said at November 4, 2005 10:01 AM:

Whoops!

My apologies.

More shortly...

Invisible Scientist said at November 4, 2005 10:08 AM:

But if Greg Cochran is such a high caliber former military scientist, is he even legally allowed even talk about such important topics here?:) I was under the impression that such important people need to ask the CIA, the FBI, and even the NSA permission in order to use the telephone.

But seriously, it is interesting that such an authoritative person said above that it is highly unlikely that Al Qaeda can possibly obtain weapons of mass destruction in 5 to 10 years. Both Iran and Pakistan will probably be in a position to provide this service in a few years. If you don't think Iran is capable of obtaining nukes within 5 years, how about the strong possibility that Pakistan will collapse into a civil war and the new regime would be sympathetic to Al Qaeda?

Hugh Angell said at November 4, 2005 11:19 AM:

I think the reason the UN and NATO have been supportative of the Afghan adventure is simply because no 'lines' were crossed, there was an
unambiguous UN resolution authorizing it and the US, as usual, would do the heavy lifting. As we now see NATO is balking as the job is not
as easy as once thought.

Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan for years and France, Canada and Germany didn't give a damn. "Al Qaeda" is in Iraq now and, more importantly for
our Allies POV, in their own societies as well. Unlike the US, where an al Qaeda suicide bombing campaign would enrage the public, Europeans
have become timid and more worrisome, euroleftists are now openly Anti Israel, Anti American and pro Islamofascist. To the extent that white
Europeans are 'converting' to Islam ( and thousands are) they are inevitably the dregs of former far left, pro communist elements left without
a cause by the collapse of communism. How can a radical leftist indulge his hatred of his own society today by any domestic political movement?
They can't. Thus domestic politics born of the leftist/Islamofascist alliance and the presence of millions of Muslims living in fifth columnn
ghettoes thoughout Europe has neutered their foreign policy. Therefore, with the exception of the UK, which has a vestigial national identity,
and, surprisingly, France when it suits them, European opinion is irrelevant.

The US is in this 'clash of civilizations' not because of Israel or anything else we've done but because of the growth and spread of radical
Islam everywhere. The Russians call their problem 'wahhabism' and it is far more virulent in their Caspian basin region despite Russian sales
of SAM missiles to Syria, nuclear reactors to Iran and obstructionism at the UNSC over US efforts to fight terrorism. If the Syrians and Iranians
can't call off the 'wahhabists' in Russia as a quid pro quo for favors rendered what makes anyone thinks a US foreign policy change would be any
more effective in ending this religious war? I don't think anyone here can give me any plausible alternative to fighting this thing to a conclusion.
Nothing we do will stop the radical Islamofascist hatred of the US and western religious, poltical and cultural freedom. It isn't our foreign
policy they hate it is our way of life.

daveg said at November 4, 2005 11:38 AM:


Hugh, how did Islam spread into the west. Didn't we just let it come in?

gcochran said at November 4, 2005 12:34 PM:


Countries have a home address: it's rare to find governments that cheerfully choose a path of action that they know will get them vaporized. I can't think of one.

I used to to work on laser weapons, but any grenade is deadlier. They remind me of the old Charles Addams cartoon in which a patent attorney is pointing a funny-looking device out of the window while saying to the inventor "Death ray, fiddlesticks! It doesn't even slow them down!". I did some work on the Trident II guidance sensor once (as one of _many_ people): that was worthwhile. Dropped the cep by a factor of ten. I know the nuclear weapons production cycle, but doesn't everybody? Oops, evidently not.

I have friends who are more important cogs in the nuclear weapons complex: one in particular, cleared for everything in sight, couldn't understand what the hell the Administration could be talking about back in late 2002 concerning an Iraqi nuclear weapons program (or a missile program - our sats showeed zero test launches) : he had heard nothing (which is what General Zinni said by the way) but supposed they must know something he didn't. I figured it was the other way around.

If you want to cause real trouble, though, think biology. There are interesting possibilities.


Randall Parker said at November 4, 2005 12:59 PM:

Invisible,

One can say that one has worked on a program that was secret. Lots of people can say they've worked on B-1 or B-2 or whatever. They just can't reveal an algorith or test result or some narrrow area technical details.

Marvin said at November 4, 2005 2:11 PM:

Imagine GC being kidnapped by internationally networked muslim terrorists. Soon afterward muslim terrorists are high energy laser capable, declaring no-fly zones around the entire world. With GC designed lasers, even large ships such as super tankers and nuclear aircraft carriers can be destroyed. This may be the end, people.

Pico said at November 4, 2005 3:51 PM:

The intellectual foundation to break up Iraq was laid in the 1970's by William Safire with his articles supporting Kurdish independence. The Neocons are building the intellectual foundation to break up Iran. Read Michael Ledeen's absurd articles on the pan turanian movement.

Ivan Kirigin said at November 4, 2005 5:20 PM:

Marvin has a good idea there. It is trivial to imagine a scenerio where unskilled (even unintellegent 'ragheads', as was so crassly phrased) with sufficient will can become a significant threat.

This is why there is a threat. It isn't that there are nukes, today, in Syria. It is that there are people who are naturally allied with anti-western dictatorships with a will and some resources to take rash action. These people must be smashed. Pulling out of Iraq because of the relatively mild threat of IEDs against prepared soldiers is then most premature.

Invsisible Scientist said at November 4, 2005 6:16 PM:

GCochran wrote:
------------------------------
"
Countries have a home address: it's rare to find governments that cheerfully choose a path of action that they know will get them vaporized. I can't think of one."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I agree that normal countries that have nukes won't give these to terrorists due to the fac thtat they have a return address, but what I was trying to say was that if Pakistan gets taken over by fundamentalists that are intrinsically chaotic, who don't care about the geograpy of Pakistan as much as their outward looking goals, then the same logic will not apply.

Also, if Iran gets the nukes in a few years, it is not that they will immediately use these weapons, but they will become more aggressive in other endeavors, such as blackmailing and taking over Saudi Arabia, and also the southern part of Iraq after the United States leaves. Additionally, some religious extremists might calculate that if they force the Western powers to attack Iran in order to prevent Iran from using nukes, then this would provoke the Islamic world 100 times more than the effect of the invasion of Iraq, and provocation would be their goal in the first place. Basically, both WW I and WW II were results of a series of miscalculations that resulted in totally unexpected escalations, because different leaders believed that they have good enough cards to play.

Stephen said at November 4, 2005 6:17 PM:

Hugh said: If the Syrians and Iranians can't call off the 'wahhabists' in..."

Syria isn't exporting / controlling any wahabist movement. In fact Syria is entirely secular (Bathist in fact) and they see radical islam as a major external threat. I find it immensely interesting that the US is actually doing its best to make an enemy of a country whose interests are actually very close to our own. Syria could quite easily be a strong western ally in the region - both politically and socially (anyone who has watched a Syrian soap opera, or sat in a street side coffee shop watching life go by will recognise that).

Stephen said at November 4, 2005 6:27 PM:

Its also immensely interesting that people are absorbing the government's propaganda and now lump Syria in with Iran. So very remincient of the way people believed the government when it said that Iraq was supporting AQ. Anyone who cared to look (rather than merely believe) could see that AQ was anathema to the Iraqi regime.

(not picking on Hugh in particular, just that his comment is illustrative of the effect of propaganda)

gcochran said at November 4, 2005 9:00 PM:

Why not pick on him? It builds charcter: Dupes are always in season.

crush41 said at November 4, 2005 10:23 PM:

gcochran,

Muslim opinion of the US was spiraling downward before Iraq. Not that it changes the essentials and popular dislike is not jihadism, but it wasn't as if the breeding grounds were drying up prior to Iraq.

I trust your analysis because Randall backs you, but not everyone is a PhD physicist with megaweapons background. I'm a dolt, but not an ideologically-driven one. It's inherently difficult to absorb someone's point of view when 80% of what he writes are pugnacious rhetorical jabs. Clearly it should be beneath you. It almost seems as if you're more interested in belittling people than convincing them. Of course, it may just be that three years replaces all probity with bitter disgust.

Bob Badour said at November 5, 2005 5:26 AM:

If you are a gazelle, you don't need to outrun the lions -- you only need to outrun your sister. With increasing nuclear proliferation, do we not create a similar situation regarding nuclear return addresses?

If Iran has nukes and NK has nukes and they hand them out to a few friends like Syria and Tunisia and Indonesia and they hand them out to a few friends like Zimbabwe and.... and Upper Volta. Doesn't that create a situation where one of these countries might decide they can hide among the crowd after handing over a nuke or two to terrorists? Especially if they hand it over to a small terrorist cell with the understanding that the entire cell will hop on board and ride the bomb to paradise?

I realise the idea of finding 20 people who are all willing to commit suicide to kill lots of westerners is kinda extreme, but we do have at least one precedent.

Randall Parker said at November 5, 2005 7:59 AM:

There are a number of reasons to suppose the Al Qaeda threat is now overblown:

1) 4 years since the last attack in the US. Surely this is not due to lack of desire ot some grand scheme to lull us into complacency. This failure on their part severely undercuts the myth of the hyper-competent terrorists.

2) The fall of the Taliban. The Al Qaeda folks no longer have a whole country to serve as base camp and training and recruiting and logistics headquarters.

3) US and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world are putting far more effort into hunting down terrorists and gathering intelligence against them. The US and other countries have adjusted their laws to make terrorist hunting a lot easier.

4) The US has made it marginally more difficult for terrorists to get into the United States.

5) Arabs are not the sharpest tools in the shed.

On the negative side:

1) The US invasion of Iraq has increased the hostility of Muslims toward the US. The Pew global attitudes survey shows a huge swing against the US as a result of the invasion.

2) Iraq is now a real life training ground for terrorists and many Arabs who would have otherwise chosen to be terrorists go to Iraq and get all fired up to kill Americans. Some will head to the West and try to launch attacks after their experiences in Iraq.

3) The traitorous US elites still put cheap illegal immigrant labor and foreign relations (don't want to inconvenience Saudi travellers) ahead of better border control and visa and immigration policy.

4) Governments are just not that competent.

Mayo said at November 5, 2005 9:19 AM:

"The casualties of the entire war would happen every week. We would probably have to start in North Africa and not stop till our army
reached India or the Indian army heading east."

Hate to burst your bubble Hugh, but India is already 15-20% Muslim and growing, esp. among the Untouchables group. There are such marked divisions among the remainder that India would have little interest launching a "unified front" against, or in support of, any particular religion or ethnic group. No government in India could ever maintain power by launching a war of conquest against the Muslim heartland-- in fact, this is a big reason why the BJP was forced out of power recently, in the wake of the deadly Gujarat riots. Fair or not (and I'm not sure it is fair), the government was blamed for fomenting the riots and suffered a massive hemorrhaging of support to the Congress Party. Plus, India is depending on a big pipeline *from Iran*, through Pakistan, to provide its energy needs in the coming decades. This means being *very nice* to Pakistan, Iran and Muslim countries in general, b/c one terrorist attack on this pipeline means massive economic disaster in India.

I like India a lot and have high hopes for the country's economic advancement. But too many people buy into this fantasy that India could somehow be a partner in a global campaign against Islamo-Fascism, and it's simply too late for that. Russia, maybe 10 years ago at the start of the Chechnya War, but now Russia, too, has about a 15% Muslim population, and with the way that European Russia is declining demographically, Russian Muslims will soon be 30-40% of the population.

Which basically leaves China, ironically, as the one really powerful nation with both a vested stake and a frank capacity to assist the United States in a fight against the Islamofascists. China has its own irritations with Muslim extremists at home, but they're both demographically a very small part of the population and categorically not growing-- the Han culture is solid and pretty resistant against the Islamofascist proselytizing. Furthermore whatever you've read about the "One Child Policy" it's not something that's ever been in force in practice, expect in a few crowded urban areas where Chinese already tend to opt for 1-2 kids per family anyhow; out in rural China and the fledgling "suburbs and exurbs" around Chinese cities, Han Chinese routinely still have large families, so there's no risk of a pro-Muslim demographic shift as in Lebanon, for example. China also has an interest in maintaining stability in the Middle East and access to Middle Eastern oil. So while China would likely never be as forthright in stationing troops abroad as the US (Sun Tzu's principles prefer subtlety), we may see the Chinese as surprisingly supportive in the battle against Islamofascist extremists, in quite a few regards.

Mayo said at November 5, 2005 9:32 AM:

"If Iran has nukes and NK has nukes and they hand them out to a few friends like Syria and Tunisia and Indonesia and they hand them out to a few friends like Zimbabwe and.... and Upper Volta. Doesn't that create a situation where one of these countries might decide they can hide among the crowd after handing over a nuke or two to terrorists? Especially if they hand it over to a small terrorist cell with the understanding that the entire cell will hop on board and ride the bomb to paradise?"

Absolutely. Makes me thing that the whole world-- and that means the US, Israel and Britain too, not only Pakistan and Iran-- would be well served by having a lot fewer nukes. Ironically, even in our dangerous brave new world, the biggest threat of a nuclear attack is still from Russia. Russia still has thousands of nukes pointed at US cities, minutes away from launching and with increasingly derelict and crumbling early warning systems to restrain them; plus Russia has many of its nukes in facilities where the guarding is woefully poor, opening them up to access by "outsiders." Plus we're paying tens of billions of dollars every year for the privilege of nuking each other over a mistaken satellite reading or a terrorist raid on a Russian nuclear bunker. If we all limit nuke stocks to less than 100, the way Britain and France do, this alone would probably make the world a much safer place, maintaining an anti-invasion deterrent, while saving a ton of money.

Marvin said at November 5, 2005 10:40 AM:

The world functions differently when there is one undisputed strongest nation. If all nations are of equal strength, but are of inevitably different wealth, constant war over wealth is inevitable. Subsaharan Africa is a nightmare of horror. Cannibalism, wanton massacres, mass cruelty as a favorite form of recreation. That is the future of a world where all nations are equal in strength. (equal in weakness)

Africa was better off under colonial rule, but those days are long gone. Zimbabwe is what today's africa is all about. Decay, starvation, incompetent rule, tribal violence, rampant disease. South Africa is traveling Zimbabwe's road, just a few minutes behind. No need to mention most of the rest of africa. That is where people cut off the arms of living children, to roast in the fire and then eat. We must not speak of that.

The suburbs of Paris are flirting with african-style anarchy and barbarism. Dousing a crippled woman with gasoline and setting her alight. Shooting at firefighters who try to save property and lives.

Africa is the birthplace of humanity. It is also the future, the lowest common denominator, for all humans who pursue the fantasies of equality. Pol Pot was an african in his methods. Stalin, Mao, and all their imitators. Notice how Hugo Chavez was lauded by the media for his championing of collectivism and equality, as opposed to the cowboy Bush who merely pushes economic freedom and democracy. Africa vs. Out of Africa.


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