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JohnJMS

Shoule we have ever invaded Iraq?

It's 2003 - you are POTUS. Having today's info,do you invade Iraq?  

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  1. 1. It's 2003 - you are POTUS. Having today's info,do you invade Iraq?



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1 hour ago, Oblong said:

I'm definitely open to revisiting this topic... can't do it today.

One thing I didn't know until the last few years was the rivalry between Bush 41 and Rumsfeld.  Surprised 43 went with Rummy given his loyalty to his dad.

 

The 2003 Invasion of Iraq has so many parallels to Operation Market Garden.  Old men in a hurry. 

The 1991 Invasion of Iraq has many parallels to Operation Overlord except it was much, much more successful.

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10 minutes ago, ROMAD1 said:

The 2003 Invasion of Iraq has so many parallels to Operation Market Garden.  Old men in a hurry. 

The 1991 Invasion of Iraq has many parallels to Operation Overlord except it was much, much more successful.

so in 2003 in Iraq you had a really bad guy in charge but a sanctions/pressure regime against him that was untenable, falling apart and hurting the wrong people. Sounds a lot like Syria in 2011. We invaded Iraq and the result was bad. We didn't invade Syria, the result was bad. The problem with the question is the premise that there is right answer or any possible positive outcome. There probably isn't in that part of the world. To many years of bad history, bad belief systems, bad geography, corruption driving oil economies, plus the modern issues of population growth and drought. 

The only good thing the rest of the world could have done that might have actually helped the ME was to not sell them weapons so they could have killed fewer people while they sorted out their future, but there was too much money to be made for that......

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26 minutes ago, Gehringer_2 said:

so in 2003 in Iraq you had a really bad guy in charge but a sanctions/pressure regime against him that was untenable, falling apart and hurting the wrong people. Sounds a lot like Syria in 2011. We invaded Iraq and the result was bad. We didn't invade Syria, the result was bad. The problem with the question is the premise that there is right answer or any possible positive outcome. There probably isn't in that part of the world. To many years of bad history, bad belief systems, bad geography, corruption driving oil economies, plus the modern issues of population growth and drought. 

The only good thing the rest of the world could have done that might have actually helped the ME was to not sell them weapons so they could have killed fewer people while they sorted out their future, but there was too much money to be made for that......

The weird thing about 1991 was also the unique geopolitical conditions of the crippled Soviet Union. 

 

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Ahhhh I remember ChevyCola errrrr JohnJMS.  We had a different crew of regulars at the time.

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9 hours ago, TheCouga said:

Reading about HW's opposition to Cheney and Rumsfeld having outsized influence in his son's administration made me curious as to how Baghdad is doing these days.

Turns out the oil infrastructure has been rebuilt, but not much else:

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/03/iraq-oil/555827/

And much of the oil revenues that exist seem to be consumed by corruption.

The international management consulting firm Mercer ranks Baghdad dead last among the entire world's largest cities for quality of life.

https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/quality-of-living-rankings

This is in stark contrast to other Arab cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi thriving.

Taking a measured approach to things these days is so easy to attack.  You get labeled as a waffler or politically impure.  The George W. Bush administration is a lesson on why you don't let extremist ideologues take charge.  And yet today, we have people like John Bolton running around the White House.  I can't help but wonder if there will be another war before the next two years are all over.

dang couga in the house

 

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3 hours ago, Gehringer_2 said:

...The problem with the question is the premise that there is right answer or any possible positive outcome. There probably isn't in that part of the world...

The solution was easy... follow the General MacArthur plan. We didn't do that... instead followed the idiot Rumsfeld plan...

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7 hours ago, ROMAD1 said:

The weird thing about 1991 was also the unique geopolitical conditions of the crippled Soviet Union. 

 

another thing about 1991 as opposed to now is the perceived relative threat to the oil supply.  The perceived threat in 2003 was WMD attacks on Israel.   

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4 hours ago, 84 Lives!!! said:

The solution was easy... follow the General MacArthur plan. We didn't do that... instead followed the idiot Rumsfeld plan...

Part of the MacArthur plan that was unique to Japan was that they had an Emperor to direct the hard liners to surrender.   The Emperor and other advisors were also keenly aware of the potential for Red revolution and the potential meddling of the Soviets who occupied the Northern parts of the country (Sakhalin and Kuril Islands) and were keenly interested in occupying Hokkaido.  Which would have resulted in a North Japan/South Japan split like East and West Germany. 

Not that de-baathification couldn't have been done better/smarter with more forces.  The model of reordering society along a more reasonable liberal democratic model was certainly a model of **** poor execution due to **** poor planning, resourcing and failure to isolate the population from outside threats and influences.  

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41 minutes ago, ROMAD1 said:

Part of the MacArthur plan that was unique to Japan was that they had an Emperor to direct the hard liners to surrender.   The Emperor and other advisors were also keenly aware of the potential for Red revolution and the potential meddling of the Soviets who occupied the Northern parts of the country (Sakhalin and Kuril Islands) and were keenly interested in occupying Hokkaido.  Which would have resulted in a North Japan/South Japan split like East and West Germany. 

Not that de-baathification couldn't have been done better/smarter with more forces.  The model of reordering society along a more reasonable liberal democratic model was certainly a model of **** poor execution due to **** poor planning, resourcing and failure to isolate the population from outside threats and influences.  

but you had a fundamental problem in Iraq that there was really no way to square - the Shia were(are) the majority but the Sunni had traditionally had power, and both sides (still) think the other are heretics. Since the US has an internal constraint to put democracy first we set up an an inevitable civil war condition. The Sunni had no desire to give up power and rightfully feared reprisal because the Baath had been brutal killers. The Shia were not going to stand for being marginalized again and had the option of Irani firepower behind them whenever the US's feet got too cold in their support. The idea that there could ever be some  Kumbaya moment when smiling Sunni's handed the key to the city of Baghdad to smiling Shia was the purest of fantasy. The Sunni side especially never had any belief their interests could be better served by democracy than by guns.

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6 minutes ago, Gehringer_2 said:

but you had a fundamental problem in Iraq that there was really no way to square - the Shia were(are) the majority but the Sunni had traditionally had power, and both sides (still) think the other are heretics. Since the US has an internal constraint to put democracy first we set up an an inevitable civil war condition. The Sunni had no desire to give up power and rightfully feared reprisal because the Baath had been brutal killers. The Shia were not going to stand for being marginalized again and had the option of Iraqi firepower behind them whenever the US's feet got too cold in their support. The idea that there could ever be some  Kumbaya moment when smiling Sunni's handed the key to the city of Baghdad to smiling Shia was the purest of fantasy. The Sunni side especially never had any belief their interests could be better served by democracy than by guns.

Kurds currently also keenly aware of these issues 

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4 hours ago, Gehringer_2 said:

but you had a fundamental problem in Iraq that there was really no way to square - the Shia were(are) the majority but the Sunni had traditionally had power, and both sides (still) think the other are heretics. Since the US has an internal constraint to put democracy first we set up an an inevitable civil war condition. The Sunni had no desire to give up power and rightfully feared reprisal because the Baath had been brutal killers. The Shia were not going to stand for being marginalized again and had the option of Irani firepower behind them whenever the US's feet got too cold in their support. The idea that there could ever be some  Kumbaya moment when smiling Sunni's handed the key to the city of Baghdad to smiling Shia was the purest of fantasy. The Sunni side especially never had any belief their interests could be better served by democracy than by guns.

The MacArthur solution would have been to force Iraqi politics/ culture to follow specific directives/ Constitutional requirements:

1) Allow women to vote.

2) Force a power-share between Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish areas. The Sunni were not looking to solve issues by guns. But the Shia took their revenge by stripping the Army to nothing (all Sunni prior to that), marginalizing them as much as possible politically (the fault of two successive Shia Presidents that were out to give Zero to Sunnis, and screw them in every way possible), blacklist ALL Baathists, including "convenient Baathists" that were only party as a way to get a job... etc., etc.

3) Force Revenue Sharing amongst the 3 regions. Again, two Shia presidents in a row are out to screw the Sunni region in every way possible, including refusing to settle the revenue sharing issue. The oil money is all in the Shia and Kurd areas, leaving absolutely nothing for the Sunnis.

#2 and #3 are the reasons there was a civil war. No money to rebuild and no political power, and generally shut out of the military/ police force by the Shia... ISIS was built initially, primarily, and almost 100% from disaffected Sunni ex-military from Iraq. So was the initial Al Quada foray into Iraq and the initial civil war. What else could they do?

There are other MacArthur issues, including anti-corruption efforts, but force the top 3 issues above... Hold control over the country for more than the year that the American "Transition" group (moved as fast as possible to give away political power back to the Shia/ Iraqis...) held control. Create a 3-way Executive Branch that must have all measures signed off on by Iraqi-MacArthur, and keep that in place for at least 5 years, to get them used to working with each other. Set up a Senate type chamber with equal representation from each of the 3 areas. And a House type chamber based on population... Force revenue sharing (pretty much equally) and work to get Sunni area integrated back into the country. It wasn't that hard. 

They may still have started into a civil war after we left, in 5 or 6 or 7 years... out of the religious hatred they have for each other. But Rumsfeld set them up to fail. Mostly out of complete ignorance.

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12 minutes ago, 84 Lives!!! said:

The MacArthur solution would have been to force Iraqi politics/ culture to follow specific directives/ Constitutional requirements:

1) Allow women to vote.

2) Force a power-share between Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish areas. The Sunni were not looking to solve issues by guns. But the Shia took their revenge by stripping the Army to nothing (all Sunni prior to that), marginalizing them as much as possible politically (the fault of two successive Shia Presidents that were out to give Zero to Sunnis, and screw them in every way possible), blacklist ALL Baathists, including "convenient Baathists" that were only party as a way to get a job... etc., etc.

3) Force Revenue Sharing amongst the 3 regions. Again, two Shia presidents in a row are out to screw the Sunni region in every way possible, including refusing to settle the revenue sharing issue. The oil money is all in the Shia and Kurd areas, leaving absolutely nothing for the Sunnis.

#2 and #3 are the reasons there was a civil war. No money to rebuild and no political power, and generally shut out of the military/ police force by the Shia... ISIS was built initially, primarily, and almost 100% from disaffected Sunni ex-military from Iraq. So was the initial Al Quada foray into Iraq and the initial civil war. What else could they do?

There are other MacArthur issues, including anti-corruption efforts, but force the top 3 issues above... Hold control over the country for more than the year that the American "Transition" group (moved as fast as possible to give away political power back to the Shia/ Iraqis...) held control. Create a 3-way Executive Branch that must have all measures signed off on by Iraqi-MacArthur, and keep that in place for at least 5 years, to get them used to working with each other. Set up a Senate type chamber with equal representation from each of the 3 areas. And a House type chamber based on population... Force revenue sharing (pretty much equally) and work to get Sunni area integrated back into the country. It wasn't that hard. 

They may still have started into a civil war after we left, in 5 or 6 or 7 years... out of the religious hatred they have for each other. But Rumsfeld set them up to fail. Mostly out of complete ignorance.

ignorance and arrogance

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1 hour ago, 84 Lives!!! said:

The MacArthur solution would have been to force Iraqi politics/ culture to follow specific directives/ Constitutional requirements:

1) Allow women to vote.

2) Force a power-share between Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish areas. The Sunni were not looking to solve issues by guns. But the Shia took their revenge by stripping the Army to nothing (all Sunni prior to that), marginalizing them as much as possible politically (the fault of two successive Shia Presidents that were out to give Zero to Sunnis, and screw them in every way possible), blacklist ALL Baathists, including "convenient Baathists" that were only party as a way to get a job... etc., etc.

3) Force Revenue Sharing amongst the 3 regions. Again, two Shia presidents in a row are out to screw the Sunni region in every way possible, including refusing to settle the revenue sharing issue. The oil money is all in the Shia and Kurd areas, leaving absolutely nothing for the Sunnis.

#2 and #3 are the reasons there was a civil war. No money to rebuild and no political power, and generally shut out of the military/ police force by the Shia... ISIS was built initially, primarily, and almost 100% from disaffected Sunni ex-military from Iraq. So was the initial Al Quada foray into Iraq and the initial civil war. What else could they do?

There are other MacArthur issues, including anti-corruption efforts, but force the top 3 issues above... Hold control over the country for more than the year that the American "Transition" group (moved as fast as possible to give away political power back to the Shia/ Iraqis...) held control. Create a 3-way Executive Branch that must have all measures signed off on by Iraqi-MacArthur, and keep that in place for at least 5 years, to get them used to working with each other. Set up a Senate type chamber with equal representation from each of the 3 areas. And a House type chamber based on population... Force revenue sharing (pretty much equally) and work to get Sunni area integrated back into the country. It wasn't that hard. 

They may still have started into a civil war after we left, in 5 or 6 or 7 years... out of the religious hatred they have for each other. But Rumsfeld set them up to fail. Mostly out of complete ignorance.

It a wonderful plan, but I'm skeptical the US had the resources to or patience for it. I think the comparisons to Germany or Japan are poor because of the cultural differences. I believe the point about the Emperor is a key one here. You have almost the complete opposite from the level of acceptance we had in Japan in an Islamic polity where much of the populace is not going to admit the authority of any externally imposed political order as compared to Quranic prescriptions, and you had Iran ready to back the Shia - we were not likely going to be able to constrain them against the Baathists without taking on Iran's 'foreign legions' as well. 

But I would say by far the biggest difference in the situations was that Japan was bombed into submission with a fury against the civilian population that was completely absent in the US actions against Iraq. The Japanese had a perfectly justifiable fear that the US was prepared to annihilate their entire civilian population and leave their  island a radioactive wasteland uninhabitable for generations.  That kind of total, credible existential threat was never even remotely in play in term of the US leverage over either side in Iraq or the level of capitulation of the population.

WWII is a really a very good example of truth that one of the perks of victory is that you get the write the history. WWII was the 'good war' in terms of its justification and the moral need to remove the evil that the Nazis in particular represented. But we none the less pretty much gloss over the unparalleled death and destruction we unleashed against civilian targets in both Germany and Japan near the ends of the conflicts.

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All valid points G2, especially on resources and patience...

But I think most of these issues could have been massaged through to a workable solution:

1) Resources - I know most countries did NOT join Bush in his Iraq war, but you could still pull in Britain, Jordan, and maybe a few other key countries to help out in the rebuild. They would buy-in based on humanitarian issues... A quick handover back to the Iraqis precluded that. Also, while I'm not into the Trump "just take their oil" position, I would have pushed the oil infrastructure rebuild as swiftly as possible, an oil sharing agreement that the Kurds could buy into and did not exclude the Sunnis, and would allow for rapid opening of Kurdish area oil, the most protected area in Iraq at that time. And... have the Iraqis pay some nominal fees to at least, in part, offset the costs.

2) Manpower resources - I think this is closer to your point. Americans did not have the will or the patience to have 500,000 men in Iraq (the Generals original war-plan), and to be losing so many of our soldiers to the strife over there. Especially since there was NO WMD there to be found. Patience would have worn out swiftly. Toughest nut to crack.

3) Religious prescriptions - I believe fixing the country economically, politically, infrastructure-wise, would have allowed us to forestall the Quranic issues for at least several years. It would be a valid argument to make with the Iraqi polity: "We obviously don't understand the Quran; so our first issue is to heal your country's infrastructure, economy, etc. We know how to work within this power-sharing, democratic structure; that's what we know. Once we leave, you can pull in Quranic influences as how you see fit. But while we are rebuilding your country, we can only work with what we know."

Not a fail-safe proposition... And yes, I hear you on fighting off the Iranian influence... 

But at the very least, that is a much better plan than what transpired. At least there is the possibility of avoiding civil war, Al Quada, ISIS... etc. The Rumsfeld plan INVITED those three in.

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1 hour ago, 84 Lives!!! said:

 

But I think most of these issues could have been massaged through to a workable solution:

 

indeed, they had no choice but to try something and due to their incompetence,  what they did try was pretty much doomed to failure to a greater degree than almost anything else they could have tried. My more general argument would be just that while I would not argue we could/should not have and were obligated to to much better, even under the very best of American efforts, we probably could not have created a recovery in Iraq like that of post war Japan. Or just another way to look at it: Japan had achieved high levels of education and industrial/economic development before WWII happened. From an economic standpoint at least, it was just a matter of getting Japan back to what they had already shown they were capable of as a society. Iraq had hardly been a functioning nation at any point since the fall of the Ottomans. Just a much tougher problem.

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I agree 100%

And further, forcing power and revenue sharing might have helped prevent civil war and ISIS... and establishing Democratic principles first, and transitioning after a few years would have helped also...

But that would not have prevented back-sliding, or corruption/ back-sliding on corruption afterwards, or transitioning away from democratic ideals or rule of law to more religious based law-fare, etc... No guarantees on anything. 

But Rumsfeld set them up to fail, without even a chance of succeeding. I will maintain that a MacArthur plan (I had wanted that immediately, and also after hearing their "transition" plan, and especially once they devolved into their first civil war...) would at least have given them a CHANCE to succeed.

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