2007 September 01 Saturday
Looking Back On False Turning Points In Iraq

If some group of people keep making predictions about future events that turn out wrong shouldn't we turn away from these false prophets? Foreign Policy has a nice review of the many supposed turning points for the US war in Iraq. (these are excerpts from a much larger set)

Lt. Gen. Jay Garner arrives in Baghdad

Date: April 21, 2003

U.S. military fatalities to date: 131

Unwarranted optimism:
“We will be here as long as it takes. We will leave fairly rapidly.” —Lt. Gen. Jay Garner

How rapid is rapidly?

Remember when the capture of Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay would supposedly spell the end to the insurgency? Remember when the capture of Saddam was considered militarily significant in a positive way for US fortunes in Iraq? Remember when gasoline was 28 cents a gallon? Oh once upon a time we lived in kinder, gentler, and more optimistic day.

U.S. forces capture Saddam Hussein

Date: December 13, 2003

U.S. military fatalities to date:

Unwarranted optimism: “Iraq’s future, your future, has never been more full of hope. The tyrant is a prisoner. The economy is moving forward. You have before you the prospect of a sovereign government in a few months.” —L. Paul Bremer III, head of the CPA

Maybe if we'd never tried to capture Saddam we'd be in better shape today. What I know for sure: If we'd never invaded Iraq we would be in better shape today.

Remember when people took seriously the utterances of VP Cheney?

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney declares insurgency in “last throes”

Date: May 30, 2005

U.S. military fatalities to date:

Unwarranted optimism: “The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” —Dick Cheney

The level of activity clearly increased after that point.

Remember when the standing up of the Iraqi military and police was an imminent event and how the Iraqis were going to start taking over the bulk of the fighting Real Soon Now?

White House releases “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq”

Date: November 30, 2005

U.S. military fatalities to date: 2,113

Unwarranted optimism: “As we make progress toward victory, Iraqis will take more responsibility for their security, and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission.” —George W. Bush

But the Iraqis decided to take more responsibility by joining militias and by using positions in government to help militias battle each other. Bush was wrong again. Then in January 2007 Bush decided on a huge increase in US forces as part of his "Surge" strategy.

The ouster of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was supposed to help. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was supposed to be just the ticket - rather than just another Shiite partisan using the Iraqi government to help factions allied with him while pretending to give lip service to the fantasy of "Can't we all just get along".

Nuri al-Maliki sworn in as new Iraqi prime minister

Date: May 20, 2006

U.S. military fatalities to date: 2,455

Unwarranted optimism: “We believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens, and it’s a new chapter in our partnership.” —George W. Bush

The choice of Maliki is “a good step in the right direction. He’s an Iraqi patriot. He’s a strong leader.” —U.S. Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad

“[O]ur security forces will be capable of taking over the security portfolio in all Iraqi provinces within one year and a half.” —Nuri al-Maliki

Bush has since lost his enthusiasm for Maliki.

MONTEBELLO, Quebec, Aug. 21 -- President Bush pointedly declined Tuesday to offer a public endorsement of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, expressing his disappointment at the lack of political progress in Iraq and saying that widespread popular frustration could lead Iraqis to replace their government.

"The fundamental question is: Will the government respond to the demands of the people?" Bush said. Stopping short of directly endorsing Maliki, as he has on several previous occasions, Bush continued, "If the government doesn't respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government."

We've now lost over 3,700 US troops killed and a much larger number permanently maimed and damaged in their brains. Our total financial costs will reach into the trillions of dollars with the need to pay interest in the borrowed money, treat the chronically injured, and repair and replace equipment.

The war has been a distraction from the real fight against terrorists. The terrorists in Iraq became terrorists in response to our being there. The Iraq war has harmed US interests. It has also corrupted the upper reaches of the US officer corps that must parrot the official position of the Bush Administration.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 September 01 01:16 PM  MidEast Iraq New Regime Failures


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