2007 May 31 Thursday
US Soldiers In Iraq See The War As Pointless

Soldier's in the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division think we should stop wasting time and lives and money in Iraq. (same article here and here)

BAGHDAD — Staff Sgt. David Safstrom does not regret his previous tours in Iraq, not even a difficult second stint when two comrades were killed while trying to capture insurgents.

“In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place,” he said. “There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome.”

But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.

“I thought, ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”

Only the newest enlistees still believe in the war.

The American warriors want to leave Iraq.

"In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war," said Sgt. 1st Class David Moore, a self-described "conservative Texas Republican" and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. "Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me."

We should leave. We should let the Iraqis fight it out among themselves.

The Sunni Arabs are pushing the Kurds out of Mosul. (same article here and here)

While the American military is trying to tamp down the vicious fighting between rival Arab sects in Baghdad, conflict between Arabs and Kurds is intensifying here, adding another dimension to Iraq’s civil war. Sunni Arab militants, reinforced by insurgents fleeing the new security plan in Baghdad, are trying to rid Mosul of its Kurdish population through violence and intimidation, Kurdish officials said.

Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, with a population of 1.8 million, straddles the Tigris River on a grassy, windswept plain in the country’s north. It was recently estimated to be about a quarter Kurdish, but Sunni Arabs have already driven out at least 70,000 Kurds and virtually erased the Kurdish presence from the city’s western half, said Khasro Goran, the deputy governor of surrounding Nineveh Province and a Kurd.

The Kurds are pushing the Shia and Sunni Arabs out of the Kurdish zone and the Kurds are trying to build Kurdish majorities along border regions so that in plebiscites on whether to make border areas part of Kurdistan the majorities will vote for Kurdistan.

Remember those neoconservatives (really just liberals hawkish on foreign policy - especially regarding the Middle East) who were preaching that democracy is the cure for what ails the world? Never mind that democracy is more a result than a cause of what makes societies the way they are. The idealistic and unconservative neocons wanted us to believe that democracy always makes countries better. But democracy is a major contributing factor to the ethnic cleansing of Mosul and the civil war in Iraq.

Already embittered at the toppling of the Sunni Arab government of Saddam Hussein, insurgents here have been further enraged by their current political disenfranchisement, a result of their boycotting the 2005 elections. The main Kurdish coalition now holds 31 of 41 seats on the provincial council and all the top executive positions, even though Kurds make up only 35 percent of the province. Most Kurds are of the Sunni sect, but they have little in common with the Arabs.

Iraq is turning into a bunch of ethnically pure zones. Segregation with a vengeance. No wonder American soldiers in the 82nd Airborne fail to see the point of more American soldiers coming home in boxes or alive with pieces missing.

Meanwhile the Turks are thinking about invading Iraqi Kurdistan to chase down Kurdish separatists who carry out attacks in Turkey.

The Turkish army has deployed additional tanks and troops to the border area this week for "spring manoeuvres". But the military moves, although apparently limited so far, have been accompanied by a rising crescendo of public and political demands for action to curb PKK attacks. The government of the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is under pressure, following a suicide bombing, blamed on the PKK, which killed six people in an Ankara shopping mall last week. Officials said the bombing marked an escalation in the separatists' campaign. Mr Erdogan's comment, after the Ankara blast, that he saw "eye to eye" with the army over future military action has raised expectations that an operation is imminent.

The Kurds in Turkey do not want to be ruled by Turks just as the Kurds in Iraq do not want to be ruled by Arabs. The Iraqi Kurds are well on their way toward independence from the rest of Iraq and they have de facto independence already. If the civil war leads to a partitioning between the Sunni Arab and Shia Arab areas that will brighten the prospects for an independent Kurdistan. But the Turks do not want to see an independent Kurdistan in Iraq since such a country would embolden Turkish Kurds to seek independence as well.

The United States has massively screwed up in Iraq. The mistakes we've made in Iraq are huge and growing. Time to cut our losses.

Thanks to Lawrence Auster for a couple of the links.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 May 31 10:19 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate

Stephen said at May 31, 2007 11:23 PM:

Randall said: Remember those neoconservatives (really just liberals hawkish on foreign policy - especially regading the MIddle East) who were preaching that democracy is the cure for what ails the world?

Randall, to believe that the Iraqi adventure has anything to do with 'preaching democracy' is to be just as gullible as the 70% of US citizens who succumbed to the WMD propaganda.

Step outside of the local frame of reference targeted by this current bit of propaganda, and objectively test the 'bringing democracy' claim.

Ask yourself: Why there, why then, why militarily?

"Democracy" is just the loaded word used to dupe the citizenry.

John S Bolton said at June 1, 2007 12:24 AM:

Functioning democracy could be established in a partitioned Iraq today, but it would be Islamic and theocratic,
and soft on terrorists, or even terrorist-dominated in one partition or several.
Therefore, functioning de minimis democracy with civil peace, is not likely to be the goal.
That can be had in a few weeks for the price of a covert operation to liquidate the 'international zone'
puppet state.
If partition were then done with accuracy and convolution of gerrymandering, and a great gerrymandered limb of
the sovereign Sunni state were to reach through the desert to the oilfields around Rumaila,
and all this equalizing the oil shares between each,
you wouldn't need even 10,000 troops to oversee peace there.
Democracy cannot be the goal, if the above be true, and easily come by relative to what is being done now,
but the goal could be something like functional democracy without rejecting the premisses of the equality
aand brotherhood of all mankind, and the love of freedom-for-aggression, ours and theirs.

John S Bolton said at June 1, 2007 12:36 AM:

Another way of stating this, would be to say that the administration does not want to give up the
premise that one can force 'brotherhood' on people who hate each other, that this is moral and practical,
that this above all is what must not fail, and that aggression is legitimate in the service of such an end.
Do the Turks have a veto?
If they do, then it seems you could offer to give them Iraq, but they wouldn't take it, would they,
even if it were offered, to just hand it to them?

Stephen said at June 1, 2007 1:51 AM:

John said: Democracy cannot be the goal, if the above be true, and easily come by relative to what is being done now,
but the goal could be something like functional democracy

The goal is good old fashioned power projection. Owning Iraq provides the US with a central base of operations covering the entire middle east and up into the former soviet republics. Its classic empire-building - 100 years too late to succeed - but empire building nonetheless.

"If they do, then it seems you could offer to give them Iraq, but they wouldn't take it, would they,
even if it were offered, to just hand it to them?"

You're probably being sarcastic, but just in case I'm reading you wrong, let me point out that the Turks ruled the region until they chose the wrong side during the first world war. They've said that they will not accept a Kurdish homeland, and in the event of a dissolution of Iraq they'd make a land claim. In fact, they would dearly love to get their hands on everything north of, and including, Kirkuk. At the moment there's some rather ominous Turkish troop concentrations on the Iraqi border triggered by the killing a number of soldier by an IED allegedly set by the kurds. The Turkish army is just itching to cross the border and wipe out the various nests of kurdish separatists/terrorists/insurgents/freedom fighters/bandits who raid into Turkey on a regular basis. Wouldn't surprise me one bit if the Turks entered Iraq within the next month (there being Turkish elections in June or July).

Tom said at June 1, 2007 7:02 AM:

Just split the fucking place up and divvy up the pieces to bordering nations (yes, even Iran). Iraq was cobbled together by the English, so what is the big deal if it gets busted up? Let their muslim brothers help out the Iraqis and tell the nations that get the pieces of the former Iraq that we only care about 2 things: the flow of oil and that things stay nice and quiet. Other than that you can do what you want. But if there is any trouble, you'll suffer. An easy plan and everyone is happy. They have to sell their oil anyway and if they keep koranic lunacy to themselves, so what?
Then we just pick 1 country, Iran would be good, and tell them that they can do whatever they want, build bombs, wear burkhas, have drum circles and smoke ditchweed, whatever, but that we don't want any terror anywhere. If there is, we won't look for the culprits, we'll just blame you and wreck your nation with bombs and kill you assholes who run the place (and not play nice and stick around to build schools and pass out milk and cookies). I guarantee there would be no islamic terror. Of course, this whole plan would require the US gov't to actually possess a spine and have a realistic view of the islamic world, which only understands force and lots of it.

gcochran said at June 1, 2007 7:47 AM:

Tom, I doubt if you understand anything, including force, but I'll bet money that force understands you.

Tom said at June 1, 2007 8:03 AM:

Clever insult, though I am not sure how it contributes to the debate regarding this post. But if I am wrong, how? And I haven't taken a beating for anything I have written on the internet yet, so I think I'm still safe.

Mensarefugee said at June 1, 2007 12:48 PM:

*Hat tip to gcochran*

Tim said at June 1, 2007 8:16 PM:

gcochran, do you see China gaining significantly from the U.S. debacle in Iraq?

Randall Parker said at June 2, 2007 8:35 AM:


"Owning Iraq" is a money-losing proposition.

The neocons thought they could improve Israel's security and reform Arab Muslim societies so that those societies produced fewer terrorists. They were extremely wrong.

I think the oil angle was a minor motivation for the war. It is also a motivation that is not in the best interests of the American people. We need to develop technologies that will supply cheap energy substitutes for fossil fuels. Money spent on Iraq is a waste. A small fraction of that money would fund a lot of nanotech research into how to make cheap solar photovoltaics or how to make cheaper nuclear reactors.

purenoiz said at June 2, 2007 2:48 PM:


Don't be so naive to think that neo-cons are not motivated by short term mega profits at the expense of the people around them. In some ways they are the most serious anti american threat in our country right now. They do not work on logic they work on blind faith and greed. Theirs is a mindset of "the rapture is coming so get what you can NOW".

Randall Parker said at June 2, 2007 3:13 PM:


If you want to understand why we fought the Iraq war a great place to start is the 1996 neocon document Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. Also, read the Wikipedia entry which gives background on it.

It seems clear as day to me that the Jewish neocons wanted to protect Israel. Though Paul Wolfowitz is a global democracy true believer (as he showed with Ferdinand Marcos and Suharto) as is George W. Bush (though Bush doesn't want to do the will of the majority). Bush also wanted a war that he thought would go easy and boost his popularity. Bush also wanted to emerge from his father's shadow and show his father how he could beat his father in foreign policy. Cheney was motivated by fear of nuclear proliferation.

The Iraqi exiles and Iran wanted to overthrow Saddam for their own reasons. So they waged a misinformation campaign about Saddam's WMD capabilities.

Different people involved in the Iraq war promotion had different motivations.

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