Understanding Iraq's Insurgency





Mr. Polk taught at Harvard from 1955 to 1961 when he was appointed a member of the Policy Planning Council of the US State Department. In 1965 he became professor of history at the University of Chicago and founded its Middle Eastern Studies Center. Subsequently, he also became president of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs. Among his books are The United States and the Arab World, The Elusive Peace: The Middle East in the Twentieth Century, Neighbors and Strangers: the Fundamentals of Foreign Affairs and the just-published Understanding Iraq, from which the following article is excerpted.

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In the aftermath of the destruction of the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, America has convinced many, probably most, Iraqis that it is not occupying their country to promote freedom but to engage in a new and more sophisticated form of imperialism. A recent independent public opinion poll holds that only 2 percent of Iraqi Arabs view the United States as liberators. This belief has evoked from them an outburst of nationalist ardor that today fuels a national uprising: during the summer of 2004 American forces were attacked by insurgents at least sixty times a day. "If we stay anywhere more than five minutes, they start shooting at us," said an officer in the First Cavalry Division. If Americans remembered their own history, they would not be surprised. Writing about another insurgency, the American Revolution, the English statesman Edmund Burke commented in 1775 that "The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered." As costly in lives and property as the Iraqi uprising has been --with more than fifteen thousand civilian deaths (and some estimates at several times that number) and about ten thousand Iraqi captives held in American prisons--it has created three new trends that will shape Iraq's future.

The first of these trends is that opposing foreign occupation has at least temporarily driven Sunni and Shia Iraqi Arabs together in common cause. That happened briefly in their opposition to the British in 1920, as then colonial secretary Winston Churchill commented, but under British occupation they were quickly driven apart. Sunnis were favored and Shiis were pushed out of participation in government. In 2004 the two communities are working together or at least in parallel against a common foe, the American occupation. Understandably, the Kurds have stood aloof from this nationalist struggle.

Despite their often bitter internal divisions, the Kurds have always aspired to independent statehood, and they have come close to that dream during recent years. Profiting from aid funds and from trade with Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Arab Iraq, they have made considerable economic progress. This has encouraged the vast majority of them to petition for a vote on independence and to deck their country with Kurdish flags. Thy have now more or less unified the various guerrilla organizations that fought against the Baath and often against one another into something like a national army that has become the only effective indigenous military force in Iraq. Their participation in whatever Iraq emerges will always be partial, but the dangers they face from Turkey and Iran will make affiliation the least unattractive of their current options. These quite different forces--Arab opposition to the foreign rule and Kurdish fear of foreign intervention--will cause Iraq to hang together as a single state, although it will probably be forced to acknowledge its deep schisms by becoming federal. Going further than federalism, attempting to "balkanize" Iraq is likely to turn it into an eastern Balkans--a maelstrom of ethnic groups. At the minimum, splitting Iraq into pieces will provoke flights of ethnic or religious groups from one area to another, disrupt public services, hamper trade, cause massive human rights abuses, and prevent healing of the wounds of the Saddam era.

National uprisings against foreign occupation, the second trend, strip away from both sides the thin veneer of civility that separates us all from the bestial. If the struggle goes on long enough, acquisition of the habit of violence causes a society to become unhinged: its basic institutions cease to function, neighbors fall apart, even families lose coherence, and the customary lines that separate acceptable behavior from crime are erased. Then whole societies falter. This happened in Algeria in the 1950s and early 1960, and in Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s, and is happening today in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechneya, and a dozen other countries. Depending on how long the struggle in Iraq continues and how violent it is, Iraqis could be dragged down into a kind of social incoherence from which they are likely to give up trying to attain a just and peaceful society. In such circumstances the rise of "warlords" (as in Afghanistan ) or a new dictator (the "ghost of Saddam") becomes almost inevitable. Thus, the very fact of American military involvement in Iraq accentuates tendencies that America has announced it wishes to avoid.

Apologists point to the fact that the occupation authorities moved progressively and with all deliberate speed from a "political council" to a "governing council" to an "interim authority" to an appointed assembly that approved American-appointed and American-"advised" ministers under an American-chosen prime minister. True, the latest stage in the process has left large "reserved" areas of government in American hands--just as the British did in the 1920s. Americans will exercise ultimate control over the military, finances, oil, and forcing affairs and will continue the influence the choice of senior officials. But, on paper, the record, given the circumstances of occupation, has a certain coherence, even a certain validity. However, it has two fatal flaws: the first is that it was all done by foreigners to Iraqis, and the second is that it started from the top down rather than from the bottom up.


This article is reprinted with permission from Mr. Polk's new book, Understanding Iraq. Copyright William Polk.


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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
Once more I say you better watch out what you have to say:

"...conquer a territory in order obtain "living space "... and to exterminate ( or displace) those deemed undesirable!"

Was not that what happened where you are living now and where your heart, and allegiance, resides?
No "hollier than thou" in the brutal game of war! None!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
"On the other hand, I do not think US policy is akin to either Germany or Japan. Such assertion is all politics. If we were really like those countries, there would be millions of casualties."

You should know better than make such a flat statement.

In war all that is needed to break the enemy has, sadly, been used .No party can pretend that is cleaner or " more honourable" in waging war than the other.
In what was supposed to be a "limited war" as distinct from a World War which threatens national security in Viet Nam, and more recently in Iraq, the USA used, inter alia, chemical and radioactive weapons with a purported 1.5-2.0 million civilian casualties in the former.
Also not to forget that "weapons of destruction" were first used on Hiroshima, Nagasaki and a third A bomb that failed to explode.
As long as war, the law of the jungle, is used to settle differences in ideological outlook, interests or idiosyncrasy there is no "holier than thou"!



omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

I can understand MR Bill Heuisier's reaction to my post "The Iraqi Insurgency"; a typical knee jerk from a mind saturated with a stereotypical " perception" of the Arab/Moslem world , and possibly of the third world ,as:

" ...great minds who believe in stoning homosexuals, beheading adultrous wives and cutting off clitorises of young women...and who also deny the deaths of those Jews at Auschwitz and Belsen Bergen."


What I truly fail to justify but can understand is Mr. Friedman's reaction who seems ,or is it pretends (?), to find fault with what people perceive and does not hesitate to tell them how to perceive events unfolding in their own lives:
" by N. Friedman on April 21, 2005 at 1:53 PM
Omar,

Perception is one thing. What has occurred is another thing. Somehow, the perception of people living in the Arab regions is rarely reliable. After, in such regions, conspiracy theories abound. Remember the one about who attacked the US on 9/11? That was a perception. The reality was quite a different."

Is it that Mr. Friedman does not really know the meaning of Perceive and Perception?

The Oxford Dictionary defines "perceive" as:
"1-become aware of, notice, observe 2-interpret in a certain way; view"
all of which are necessarily subjective to the person who "observes" or "views" then " interprets in a certain(his own) way" whatever is unfolding under his own eyes!
No one, including Mr. Friedman, can tell people how to "view" or "interpret" things.!!!
"Perception" is in essence a "personal" thing that would acquire a specific meaning when "interpreted" in the context of his knowledge, memory and previous experience and, as such, could vary from one person to the other although looking at the same thing!
Communally it is the consensual "viewing" of an event also "interpreted" in the context of collective memory, history and cultural background!

Hence my repeated use of the carefully chosen term "perception" and not the objective confirmatory" is".
However this is not a semantic discussion; the important thing about "perception" is that it is the foundation of "opinion" and "attitude" that add up to strongly held beliefs that, in turn, formulate a stand that lead to political alignment and, in this case, the future of Arab/Moslem-American relations.
I contend that in discussing any policy it is of paramount importance to know how the "recipient", the objective, of that policy " perceives " it; that will ultimately decide whether it succeeds or fails!
Which brings us back to Mr. Friedman: he seems to believe that it is in the ideological/political interest of the cause he espouses, Zionism and Israel, that the very negative Arab/Moslem perception of American policy in the Middle East should endure:

" by N. Friedman on April 22, 2005 at 10:09 AM
Arnold,
Somewhere in the understanding of things, there are facts. Recognizing facts - as some say, stubborn facts - does not mean that one goes to war and it does not mean that one makes peace. However, recognizing facts is the first step to understanding something."

leading to further and further estrangement and animosity between the two but is gravely detrimental to the interests of both!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
I can understand MR Bill Heuisler's reaction to my post "The Iraqi Insurgency"; a typical knee jerk from a mind saturated with a stereotypical " perception" of the Arab/Moslem world , and possibly of the third world ,as:

" ...great minds who believe in stoning homosexuals, beheading adultrous wives and cutting off clitorises of young women...and who also deny the deaths of those Jews at Auschwitz and Belsen Bergen."


What I truly fail to justify but can understand is Mr. Friedman's reaction who seems ,or is it pretends (?), to find fault with what people perceive and does not hesitate to tell them how to perceive events unfolding in their own lives:
" by N. Friedman on April 21, 2005 at 1:53 PM
Omar,

Perception is one thing. What has occurred is another thing. Somehow, the perception of people living in the Arab regions is rarely reliable. After, in such regions, conspiracy theories abound. Remember the one about who attacked the US on 9/11? That was a perception. The reality was quite a different."

Is it that Mr. Friedman does not really know the meaning of Perceive and Perception?

The Oxford Dictionary defines "perceive" as:
"1-become aware of, notice, observe 2-interpret in a certain way; view"
all of which are necessarily subjective to the person who "observes" or "views" then " interprets in a certain(his own) way" whatever is unfolding under his own eyes!
No one, including Mr. Friedman, can tell people how to "view" or "interpret" things.!!!
"Perception" is in essence a "personal" thing that would acquire a specific meaning when "interpreted" in the context of his knowledge, memory and previous experience and, as such, could vary from one person to the other although looking at the same thing!
Communally it is the consensual "viewing" of an event also "interpreted" in the context of collective memory, history and cultural background!

Hence my repeated use of the carefully chosen term "perception" and not the objective confirmatory" is".
However this is not a semantic discussion; the important thing about "perception" is that it is the foundation of "opinion" and "attitude" that add up to strongly held beliefs that, in turn, formulate a stand that lead to political alignment and, in this case, the future of Arab/Moslem-American relations.
I contend that in discussing any policy it is of paramount importance to know how the "recipient", the objective, of that policy " perceives " it; that will ultimately decide whether it succeeds or fails!
Which brings us back to Mr. Friedman: he seems to believe that it is in the ideological/political interest of the cause he espouses, Zionism and Israel, that the very negative Arab/Moslem perception of American policy in the Middle East should endure:

" by N. Friedman on April 22, 2005 at 10:09 AM
Arnold,
Somewhere in the understanding of things, there are facts. Recognizing facts - as some say, stubborn facts - does not mean that one goes to war and it does not mean that one makes peace. However, recognizing facts is the first step to understanding something."

leading to further and further estrangement and animosity between the two but is gravely detrimental to the interests of both!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedmam
Few, if any, historical confrontations were settled by one or the other party "stew(ing) in their hate filled perception" as , I believe , you know but is too blinded to observe when it comes to Israel!
**That the Palestinian/Arab majority in Palestine was denied the right to Self Determination is a historical fact and a perception.
**That Zionism managed to create a Jewish state in Palestine by uprooting, in military operations, its indigenous population and supplanting them with people selected and assembled on a purely Racial/racist basis is a historical fact and is perceived as such.
**That Zionist colonialists are living on a land, in homes and cultivating fields and working in work shops and trading in stores that do not belong to them is a historical fact as well as a perception.
**That the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, the legal owners of the land, the fields, the homes, the workshops, the stores are denied the RIGHT to RETURN to their homeland and regain and repossess their legal property is a historical fact and is perceived as such.
You and other Zionist apologists has come up with many and sundry reasons for that but you can not deny any of the above facts...which add up to how we perceive Zionism and Israel!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Much more than any of his respondents, both pro and con, Professor Polk touched on the real motives and forces at work in this increasingly tragic situation in Iraq.
However, there is much more to it than outlined by Professor Polk.!
The present confrontation is nationalist cum cultural/confessional and/or third world/imperialist which are not really, contrary to general belief in the West, mutually exclusive.
The general perception of the conflict , inside and outside Iraq in the Arab/Moslem world, is of a Judeo/Christian-Arab/Moslem confrontation aiming at the submission to the point of destruction of Iraq to ensure the REGIONAL supremacy of Israel and the permanance of US hold on its OIL reserves; reputedly the largest in the world.
This perception led to the Islamist/Nationalist (Baathist and others) military alliance and political common front.
The other common perception , in the Third World mainly but also in many international progressive/leftist circles, is of an IMPERIALIST conquest of a minerals, mainly OIL, rich third world country for world wide economic, and hence political, supremacy of the USA.
This perception was behind the unprecedented world wide mass demonstrations and near universal opposition to the war..
The common unifying perception of all these, seemingly diverse and potentially antagonistic, forces is of an Imperialist/Judeo/Christian Foreign power out to subdue, to the point of destruction, through dismemberment, an Arab/Moslem/Third World country for ideological/confessional and /or material/imperialist gains.
The blatant bankruptcy of the avowed reason of the conquest, weapons of mass destruction, and the overwhelming disbelief in the belated reasons, democracy, foredoomed this American war in the Arab/Moslem and Third World from day one!


Patrick M Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Dear Bill,

Thanks for all the excellent research work. However, as with any information that has emanated from the war zone figures on actual troop strength of the resistance has varied widely.

I believe the WAPO estimates you give are wildly under reported. How can 20,000 or less insurgents control a country larger than Texas as opposed to 150,000 US troops? It seems mathematically impossible that this few amount of troops can control the whole of Iraq. And CONTROL they do!

Every day Iraqi National Guard (NG) regulars are murdered en masse along with one or two of our brave sons. The resistance controls all the major highways in Iraq... US supplies routes are now heavily complimented by air transport... All highways lead to Baghdad (check out an Iraq map) with only one major highway through to Kuwait. Insurgent road ambushes are daily events yet, only attacks that involve casualties are reported. To control this portion of roadway alone would take 2500 to 5000 insurgents. This is only one small portion of the country. Do the other 15000 or so insurgents control the complete rest of the nation?

If you discount the 100's of various guerrilla groups, tribes, religious militias, armed neighborhood watchdogs plus the assorted thugs and gangs there may be 20000 hard core jihadists. The whole of Iraq is armed and it has a population of 25M. US troops face enemies everywhere. The pace of combat is intense and summer is coming to Iraq. One US 1st Division ground troop stated that "if you stand in one place for more than a few minutes someone will take a shot at you". 20000 insurgents can't be everywhere at once.


Patrick M Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Why should we give credence to the perceptions of the Arab region?

Here's what I think. The Iraqi's and their Arab allies are smart enough to play the cards as dealt. The Sunni's and Shia's have remained united much like the 1920's fight against Britain. The Kurds are sort of sitting it out, for now, while the north of Iraq remains hostile to all including the US. The perception was evident by the 100,000 or so, Iraqi's who demonstrated in Baghdad on March 19, 2005 versus the few hundred who witnessed Saddam's statue being pulled down on Iraq's so called Liberation Day.

Glenn Scott is correct. The Bush administrations failure to understand the Arab perception has cost us the war to date. Let's review our little poker game.

Rumsfield was so eager to show his newly transformed military against a "safe bet" like Iraq that he forgot to plan for an exit let alone an insurgency of any formidable size. His indifference to securing the nation after the initial phase of the war was the Arab's first ace. This has allowed disorder to blossom.

The failure to secure Saddam's army's weapons, disbanding said professional army coupled with the little things like controlling ammo dumps and borders with Iran/Syria has created the best equipped, trained and motivated insurgent army in history. This is the Arabs second ace.

Poor diplomacy in gathering more "Coalition of the Willing" forces to provide security has caused the already over-stretched US military to pull double duty of securing the country and fighting the war. The US has failed to adapt tactics to fight in the quick reaction mode required to defeat these insurgents. The insurgents have neutralized the use of both US armor and helicopter units. The insurgents have successfully implemented highway roadnets effectively limiting convoy supply units forcing air supply to support US troops. This is the Arabs third ace.

The Iraqi National Guard (NG) is so thoroughly infiltrated by insurgents that no operational plans can go forth without their knowledge in advance. US units are unable to leave their fortified bases. They can't go to bars, restaurants, the movies or to whore houses or to live in the cities as they did in Vietnam. The US lacks the boots on the ground needed to direct offensives. Trained combat infantry is the only way to stop the insurgents and we have nowhere near the manpower. The wear and tear on both US troops and equipment is significant. This is the Arabs fourth ace.

Finally, back to perceptions. The US teen and twenty-something perception. Recruiting is off by 40%. I'd venture to say that Mr. Friedman is too old to enlist. If he were not, he'd be in Iraq trying to change the Arab perception.




Patrick M Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Mr. Edward Siegler,

The reason I use the term Arab is for those on this post who have the mistaken belief and have continually argued that the vast majority of insurgents are non-Iraqi. I just called them Arab's to define all insurgents both Iraqi and foreign jihadists. However, for my edification are Iraqi's, excluding Kurds, not Arabic?

To your second point... "the Iraqi people themselves are becoming increasingly hostile towards the insurgency." Where is the proof of this. The NG are fearful to lead any sort of offensive action. US Troops now being wounded and killed are usually with the NG prodding them along in advisory roles i.e.... training. Where are the 140000 trained NG that the Pentagon keep crowing about?

As for "What can this nihilistic group of criminals and fanatics, who see deliberate attacks on mosques, funeral processions and water treatment plants as the way forward, really accomplish in Iraq besides continued murder and mayhem?" The same as the radicals gangs of VC did. You remember the VC. They, along with the NVA, defeated the US in SE Asia.

As to "Even if the insurgency is believed to be a romantic group of freedom fighters, like the French resistance during World War II, the truth has a way of asserting itself - especially among the Iraqi people, who are the primary victims of the insurgency's "ideals"." Your kidding right? Yes, this is not a group to romanticize over. This is a very deadly, intense and bloody war orchestrated by the insurgents. Costly in both US lives and treasure. It is an all out fight to drive the US occupation out of Iraq at whatever cost, no matter how long it takes. The US propagandists continually highlight the death of civilians at the hand of the insurgents yet, conveniently ignore the US killing en masse of innocent Iraqi's. The insurgents have probably killed a few thousand civilians while the US has killed over 100000. This does not include the 500000 or so killed during the embargo.

Finally, "Four aces won't be enough to win this game, especially when faced with an increasingly powerful Iraqi military that has a lot more than cards to play with." What are you talking about? The NG refuse to fight. The Iraqi Police run and hide. The insurgents are so well armed they should have their own chapter in Jane's. The Coalition of the Willing is pulling out. REMEMBER POLAND! DON"T FORGET POLAND! the campaigning Mr. Bush cried. This war has all the makings to be worse than Vietnam. Our troops are on lock down. They cannot move freely in country. They control miniscule bases while the country is in flames.

Any who believes the US is winning or will win this conflict as it is now unfolding is delusional. THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH BOOTS ON THE GROUND. The US needs to institute the draft, boost troop strength to 350.000 and take control of this theatre. The Republican's and neo-cons want war but are to afraid to fight the all out conflict necessary for victory. This is a fundamental problem when the leaders of a nation never served in the military or participated in combat... Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, Feith, Kristol, Perle, Pipes, Krauthammer, Bolton... they lack the stomach for it. Either the US goes all out or the current stalemate will stretch well into the foreseeable future.

DON'T BE A FOOL AND DIE FOR YOUR COUNTRY. LET THE OTHER SON OF A BITCH DIE FOR HIS... George S. Patton


Patrick M Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Mr. Edward Siegler,

The reason I use the term Arab is for those on this post who have the mistaken belief and have continually argued that the vast majority of insurgents are non-Iraqi. I just called them Arab's to define all insurgents both Iraqi and foreign jihadists. However, for my edification are Iraqi's, excluding Kurds, not Arabic?

To your second point... "the Iraqi people themselves are becoming increasingly hostile towards the insurgency." Where is the proof of this. The NG are fearful to lead any sort of offensive action. US Troops now being wounded and killed are usually with the NG prodding them along in advisory roles i.e.... training. Where are the 140000 trained NG that the Pentagon keep crowing about?

As for "What can this nihilistic group of criminals and fanatics, who see deliberate attacks on mosques, funeral processions and water treatment plants as the way forward, really accomplish in Iraq besides continued murder and mayhem?" The same as the radicals gangs of VC did. You remember the VC. They, along with the NVA, defeated the US in SE Asia.

As to "Even if the insurgency is believed to be a romantic group of freedom fighters, like the French resistance during World War II, the truth has a way of asserting itself - especially among the Iraqi people, who are the primary victims of the insurgency's "ideals"." Your kidding right? Yes, this is not a group to romanticize over. This is a very deadly, intense and bloody war orchestrated by the insurgents. Costly in both US lives and treasure. It is an all out fight to drive the US occupation out of Iraq at whatever cost, no matter how long it takes. The US propagandists continually highlight the death of civilians at the hand of the insurgents yet, conveniently ignore the US killing en masse of innocent Iraqi's. The insurgents have probably killed a few thousand civilians while the US has killed over 100000. This does not include the 500000 or so killed during the embargo.

Finally, "Four aces won't be enough to win this game, especially when faced with an increasingly powerful Iraqi military that has a lot more than cards to play with." What are you talking about? The NG refuse to fight. The Iraqi Police run and hide. The insurgents are so well armed they should have their own chapter in Jane's. The Coalition of the Willing is pulling out. REMEMBER POLAND! DON"T FORGET POLAND! the campaigning Mr. Bush cried. This war has all the makings to be worse than Vietnam. Our troops are on lock down. They cannot move freely in country. They control miniscule bases while the country is in flames.

Any who believes the US is winning or will win this conflict as it is now unfolding is delusional. THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH BOOTS ON THE GROUND. The US needs to institute the draft, boost troop strength to 350.000 and take control of this theatre. The Republican's and neo-cons want war but are to afraid to fight the all out conflict necessary for victory. This is a fundamental problem when the leaders of a nation never served in the military or participated in combat... Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, Feith, Kristol, Perle, Pipes, Krauthammer, Bolton... they lack the stomach for it. Either the US goes all out or the current stalemate will stretch well into the foreseeable future.

DON'T BE A FOOL AND DIE FOR YOUR COUNTRY. LET THE OTHER SON OF A BITCH DIE FOR HIS... George S. Patton


Patrick M Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Dear Arnold,

I would only be a dying SOB if an attack was on my front lawn...

THIS IS A WAR ISN'T IT?

Either you fight a war all out to win or you do not fight it at all. This is the predicament the Bush Administration has put us in. Either we pull out or we fight until Iraq is totally subdued. History shows that police actions, as the US is currently operating, have a greater chance of failure than a war of overwhelming force. We witnessed this when the US first overran Iraq in 1991 then again in 1993. We also saw this, at times, in Vietnam. When the US ramped it up the Viet Minh somewhat settled back. It was the heavy US bombing campaigns that brought Hanoi back to the Paris peace table.

Question... If tomorrow, the peacekeepers (police action) pulled out of greater Serbia (ethnic region with great people/ culture/ history like Iraq) what would happen?

It was not my decision to go to war (I staunchly oppose the Iraq War and did not vote for Mr. Bush). That call was for the chicken-hawks I listed in my previous post to make and they chose war. Therefore, they/ we/them/ you/ us/ I, as Americans, need to hunker down, put the economy on a war footing as was done in WWII (doesn't a few of those fun-loving neo-cons claim we are in WWIV?), institute the draft and GET BOOTS ON THE GROUND.

This war will only be won by well trained/ equipped US ARMY and MARINE infantry. Not NG and Iraqi Police. House to house and door to door combat to clear insurgents supported by light armor (Humvee, Bradley, Stryker) and air gunships. 350000 ground troops, as was the Pentagons pre-war requisition, at a minimum is required.

I am sorry to disappoint you Arnold but we are at war.


Patrick M Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Dear Arnold,

I did not mean to disgust you and I assure you, kind Sir, I am neither a fascist nor a maniac.

I think what is needed here is a reality check...

1.) The Bushies and the neo-cons are never, ever going to withdraw from Iraq.

2.) The insurgents are never, ever going to stop in their objective of ousting the American's from THEIR COUNTRY.

There you have it...

If you no longer wish to discuss with me, I would be a little hurt...

PS... At this time in history who do you believe US military policy more or less mirrors... Germany or Japan? 100 Words or more...

You're more than welcome to respond also Mr. Friedman...


Patrick M Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Dear Bill,

"More than fifty percent of those fighting the US in Iraq are foreign to Iraq."

Please show me where you gathered this piece of information. All accounts from Iraq... Baghdad Burning, Information Clearing House, DOD... do not place foreign insurgents in country anywhere near 50%.

Estimates place the range of the number of insurgents at 150,000 to 200,000. Of those, the foreign contingent is estimated at 15,000 to 30,000.


N. Friedman - 4/30/2005

Omar,

The US did invade Iraq. That is correct. It was not, however, to obtain "living space" and it was not to exterminate the Arabs. If, in fact, the US wanted to rid itself of the Arabs, such could have been accomplished without an invasion and within one hour, if that long, by means of WMD.

If you have read this website enough, you know full well that I have not supported the war in Iraq although I do see the logic - although I think it is a very, very long term project and will not pay dividends, so to speak, in our life time - of fighting the Jihad by attempting interjecting a counter-ideology into the Middle East.

If you have read my posts, you would know that my idea is to support minority interests in the Middle East. Which is to say, I support the removal of the straightjackets which the Muslim majority has placed on non-Muslims in the Muslim regions, such straightjackets being the world's foremost hidden regime of oppression, a repression that has few rivals today.

My belief is that by strongly supporting equality for the Copt and other Christians and independence for the Maronites, Kurds (who are, outside of their zone, oppressed Muslims) and the Jews, such will force a re-thinking by the Muslims of the relations with other cultures. Or, in a word, I believe that a slave rebellion by the dhimmis will force a form of pluralism into the Muslim regions which, in turn, will lead to better understanding among religions.

And, where necessary, I think the US should selectively arm and/or supply funds to the various independence and freedom movements. Which is to say, I hope to push Tanzimat-style reforms on the majority Muslim population of the Muslim regions by means of supporting local uprising and independence movements.

I note: None of the seriously argued goals of the Iraq war involves obtaining "living space" or exterminating the Arabs. So, the war has nothing to do with what you claim.


N. Friedman - 4/30/2005

Omar,

The US did invade Iraq. That is correct. It was not, however, to obtain "living space" and it was not to exterminate the Arabs. If, in fact, the US wanted to rid itself of the Arabs, such could have been accomplished without an invasion and within one hour, if that long, by means of WMD.

If you have read this website enough, you know full well that I have not supported the war in Iraq although I do see the logic - although I think it is a very, very long term project and will not pay dividends, so to speak, in our life time - of fighting the Jihad by attempting interjecting a counter-ideology into the Middle East.

If you have read my posts, you would know that my idea is to support minority interests in the Middle East. Which is to say, I support the removal of the straightjackets which the Muslim majority has placed on non-Muslims in the Muslim regions, such straightjackets being the world's foremost hidden regime of oppression, a repression that has few rivals today.

My belief is that by strongly supporting equality for the Copt and other Christians and independence for the Maronites, Kurds (who are, outside of their zone, oppressed Muslims) and the Jews, such will force a re-thinking by the Muslims of the relations with other cultures. Or, in a word, I believe that a slave rebellion by the dhimmis will force a form of pluralism into the Muslim regions which, in turn, will lead to better understanding among religions.

And, where necessary, I think the US should selectively arm and/or supply funds to the various independence and freedom movements. Which is to say, I hope to push Tanzimat-style reforms on the majority Muslim population of the Muslim regions by means of supporting local uprising and independence movements.

I note: None of the seriously argued goals of the Iraq war involves obtaining "living space" or exterminating the Arabs. So, the war has nothing to do with what you claim.


N. Friedman - 4/29/2005

Omar,

Note that I used the word "policy," not "tactics" or "strategy." In other words, what you are writing has nothing to do with what I said.

The policy of the Nazis was to conquer a territory in order obtain "living space" for Germans and to "exterminate" those deemed undesirable by the Nazis.

The Japanese also employed a fascistic ideology. The US ideology is substantially different.


Edward Siegler - 4/28/2005

Iraq's government "does not exist"? Observe the following from that hotbed of right-wing propaganda, the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/28/international/middleeast/28cnd-iraq.html?hp&;ex=1114747200&en=b451f614b9e12620&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Your questions about how many troops are needed and when they will be combat ready are difficult to answer. At least part of the answer depends on how active the insurgency is and if it can be calmed down by Sunnis choosing to take part in the political process. Many Sunni leaders have expressed regrets in not taking part in January's elections. These elections will not be the last ones. U.S. commanders are talking about phased withdrawals starting in about a year, which indicates that they think Iraq will be capable of handling its own security by then.

You ask how I know how other people see things. The answer here is simple - I read what they have written. Check anything from the al-Jazeera English language website to the Nation magazine. They share a remarkable similarity of viewpoint.

People's desire to have a say in how their country is run is a basic part of democracy, not George Bush's "ownership society." I hate to disapoint you, but the Iraqi people didn't risk their lives going to the polls in response to Republican party propaganda.

Although I share your concern about Iraq's militias, it's easy to understand why those groups have popped up. The question is whether they can be disbanded or integrated into the Iraqi military at some point in the future. Certainly the existence of private militias is a threat to democracy and stability, but people will find ways to protect themselves where the government is still weak. Peace and stablility will not arise overnight in Iraq.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/27/2005

Mr Ebbitt,

The issue of US military policy in Iraq being akin to either Nazi Germany's or militarist Japan's one at their time is simply incorrectly (I would say, provokingly) stated. Therefore, I don't feel any compelling reason to
get involved in such a frivolous discussion.
(Besides, you didn't suggest any response to the questions/issues posed by me...)

I absolutely agree with you that neither Bush administration, nor any forseeable one for this country
in the nearest future will pull out of Iraq.
And one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to predict
that the Iraqis will not cease fighting the US occupation
in the nearest future... unless the US army along with trained and bought for US $$$ new Iraqi military will kill
a couple of millions of Iraqis "insurgents" and enforce murderous US-backed regime for at least 10 years from now.
Thus, on one hand you're allegedly against the Bush and neocons' Iraq campaign, reminding us of the already high fatality figures among Iraqis (100,000, wasn't it?)
and the massive Shiite's demonstrations against US occupational troops there, etc., while on another making the suggestions to turn it into much worse nightmare (to, at least, Iraqi's populus) than it currently is... on the reason of "reality" of the situation CREATED BY THE US-UK INVASION ON THE FIRST PLACE?!
I refuse to understand you here, Mr. Ebbitt.
You, kind Sir, and me obviously studied quite different logic.




Glenn Rodden - 4/27/2005

ES: The number of Iraqi troops and police is not nearly as important as their quality. This is steadily growing stronger and their number are growing as well. In addition, take a look at the number of new recruits to the ING who are risking their lives by so much as waiting in line at recruiting stations. Many who are wounded in attacks on these stations are known to come back later to enlist, some even on the same day as the attacks.

How many ING recruits are combat ready right now? How many will need to be combat ready before the US begins to withdraw its troops from Iraq? When will those ING recruits be combat ready?

ES: Unfortunately many in the anti-war crowd do see the insurgents in these terms. They are being unintentionally hilarious.

Are you channeling for the antiwar movement? If not, how would you know how other people see things?

ES: Wrong. This was the story line a few months ago before the elections. There is a much greater sense of ownership in Iraq's future that has arisen since then. In addition there are many non-governmental militias that are helping to keep order.

Nice to hear that Iraqis have adopted the Bush's administration's "ownership" society philosophy, but the reliance on private militias to maintain order undercuts the argument that the ING is or will soon be able to handle the insurgency.

ES: Anyone who believes that the insurgency will wipe out the elected government is delusional. Insurgencies have driven out foreign colonial invaders but they have never succeeded against domestic democratic majorities. Recall that Iraq is only 20% Sunni and the insurgency is only really effecting heavily Sunni areas. The rest of Iraq has no interest in seeing the insurgents win and they are acting accordingly.

How can the insurgency wipe out a government that does not exist? Three months after elections, there is no Iraqi government. Who is delusional here?



N. Friedman - 4/25/2005

Omar,

I do not see your point.

If the Palestinian Arabs wanted a state, they could have had one long ago, as far back as 1936 and, most assuredly, in 1948. Those failures amount to political blunders of historic proportions - or, in plain English, folly -.



Edward Siegler - 4/25/2005

In 1947 the U.N. voted to set up both a Jewish and an Arab state. The Arabs were allotted three contiguous areas and the enclave of the city of Jaffa. The Jews were allotted three discontiguous areas. Jerusalem was to be an international city. The Jews accepted the deal but the Arabs rejected it out of hand and invaded the Jewish areas with the armies of six nations. The defence against this this invasion is what is charatarized as Zionists managing to "create a Jewish state in Palestine by uprooting in military operations, its indigenous population..."

If the Arabs had accepted the U.N. plan there would have been an independent Palestine for almost 60 years now. However there was no demand for a "Palestinian homeland" until after the 1967 war. Before then these territories were controlled by Jordan and Egypt.



Edward Siegler - 4/25/2005

Ebbitt: for my edification are Iraqi's, excluding Kurds, not Arabic?

Most Iraqis are Arabs, yes. However that does not mean that they share the same interests as all other Arabs. My impression is that they see themselves as Iraqis first, Muslims second and Arabs third.

"the Iraqi people themselves are becoming increasingly hostile towards the insurgency." Where is the proof of this.

See below, or read any major newspaper's accounts of Iraqis increasingly turning in insurgents to the authorities and seeing the Iraqi military as the good guys.

The NG are fearful to lead any sort of offensive action.

Not true, they are doing just this on a regular basis now.

Ebbitt: Where are the 140000 trained NG that the Pentagon keep crowing about?

The number of Iraqi troops and police is not nearly as important as their quality. This is steadily growing stronger and their number are growing as well. In addition, take a look at the number of new recruits to the ING who are risking their lives by so much as waiting in line at recruiting stations. Many who are wounded in attacks on these stations are known to come back later to enlist, some even on the same day as the attacks.

Ebbitt: You remember the VC. They, along with the NVA, defeated the US in SE Asia.

I remember that the NVA, which was a national army backed by the Chinese and Soviets with massive ammounts of heavy equitment, was repelled by the ARVN when it attempted a full scale invasion in 1972. After America withdrew its financial support in 1974 the NVA won. Where is the parallel here to Iraq's insurgency?

Ebbitt: As to "Even if the insurgency is believed to be a romantic group of freedom fighters, like the French resistance during World War II, the truth has a way of asserting itself - especially among the Iraqi people, who are the primary victims of the insurgency's "ideals"." Your kidding right?

Unfortunately many in the anti-war crowd do see the insurgents in these terms. They are being unintentionally hilarious.

Ebbitt: It is an all out fight to drive the US occupation out of Iraq...

...before the Shiites and Kurds can build a national army and then reestablish Sunni rule

The insurgents have probably killed a few thousand civilians while the US has killed over 100000.

This figure is based on an easily discredited report from Lancet.

This does not include the 500000 or so killed during the embargo.

The embargo was the result of not removing Saddam in '91.

E: The NG refuse to fight. The Iraqi Police run and hide.

Wrong. This was the story line a few months ago before the elections. There is a much greater sense of ownership in Iraq's future that has arisen since then. In addition there are many non-governmental militias that are helping to keep order.

E: The insurgents are so well armed they should have their own chapter in Jane's.

That's a good one. Only your forgetting that Jane's doesn't have much use for old Hondas packed with explosives or a catagegory for spraying funeral processions with AK-47 fire. They already have literature on AK-47s and Honda publishes everything anyone would want to know about their cars.


E: Any who believes the US is winning or will win this conflict as it is now unfolding is delusional.

Anyone who believes that the insurgency will wipe out the elected government is delusional. Insurgencies have driven out foreign colonial invaders but they have never succeeded against domestic democratic majorities. Recall that Iraq is only 20% Sunni and the insurgency is only really effecting heavily Sunni areas. The rest of Iraq has no interest in seeing the insurgents win and they are acting accordingly.

E: THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH BOOTS ON THE GROUND. The US needs to institute the draft, boost troop strength to 350.000 and take control of this theatre.

That's strange - the battle cry of the anti-war crowd (and Polk's article) is that the U.S. military presence is what is causing the insurgency. A draft would end support for the war and result in a Democratic landslide. It will not be occurring. Responsibility for the counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq will continue to shift to where it belongs - on Iraqis' shoulders. The only question is when, not if, the U.S. will start drawing down troops. This is likely to occur by the first part of next year.

For evidence that Iraqis are increasingly becoming hostile to the insurgency see the link below. You also might want to check any number of blogs written by Iraqis, such as Iraqthemodel.
http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/qndguide/default.asp?target=Iraq


N. Friedman - 4/24/2005

Omar,

My view is that the Arab Muslim perception of Israel is mostly innacurate. Their faulty perception is, in part, the result of propaganda. In other part, Muslims are unable to accept a non-Muslim population in the dar al-Islam which refuses to live under Muslim rule. In last part, Arab and Muslim pride refuse to believe that a small group of Jews could fight off the entire Arab world.

The reality is that Israel is a modern country which has made extraordinary contributions to the world in a variety of areas. It has expressed willingness to resolve its disputes with the Palestinian groups that also live in the area but the Arab side has always somehow missed the boat at really settling the dispute.

As for perception: whether or not the Muslims like or hate Israel, it is not going to go away. So, the Arabs and Muslims can continue to stew in their hate filled perceptions or they can resolve the dispute.


N. Friedman - 4/23/2005

Patrick,

I have difficulty grasping your point. However, I think you are correct that the fighting parties are unlikely to stop anytime soon.

On the other hand, I do not think US policy is akin to either Germany or Japan. Such assertion is all politics. If we were really like those countries, there would be millions of casualties.


N. Friedman - 4/23/2005

Arnold,

This comment is in response to your comment post (#59234) http://hnn.us/comments/59234.html :

It would seem to me that you are not speaking of the perceptions of Arabs. You are speaking of your own perceptions of what you would have the Arabs perceive.

It seems to me that whether or not the US has supported an Arab regime - and we have not supported all of them -, none have been very good regimes by the standards of the world. Syria, which the US has not supported, is no better than Egypt, which we have supported. Yemen, which we have not supported, is about as bad a regime as is possible for this Earth, short, perhaps, of Saddam which we supported for a while but later did not support. We did support Saudi Arabia and it is a terrible regime but so is Libya which we did not support.

Now, the Europeans, unlike the US, did support all of the noted regimes without regard to their politics. And the Europeans have supplied all of the regimes with improved technology regardless of regime behavior. And the Europeans have not favored doing anything with the Arabs than indulging their demands.

And, many of the Arab regime demands have been particularly unreasonable. While indulging the Arab Muslim demands to condemn Israel, such Arab regimes have supported the Jihad in Sudan which killed 2 million people. Moreover, the Christians Maronites of Lebanon were abandoned when they sought independence (with more than 100,000 Maronites killed). The efforts of Copts for equality in Egypt have all been ignored so that the Copts are severely oppressed. The Assyrian Chaldeans were abandoned, etc., etc.

In short, I do not buy your thesis. I think we need to see the policy of the Arab states as using allegations against the West and Israel to push Arab state political goals against non-Muslims in the region. And, frankly, it is Europe, not the US, which has done the most to indulge such activity by the Arab states. And that has led to unbelieveable numbers of deaths and remarkable oppressions - as bad as any that has occurred since WWII including, most particularly, the nearly unmentioned genocide of 2 million Christians and animists in Sudan -.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/23/2005

Mr Ebbit,

Nazi Germany's and militarist Japan's WWII was also A WAR
WASN'T IT?
So as an honest and responsible HUMAN BEING plus PATRIOT of Germany or Japan would you opt for the immediate stopage of that war, or for going along with Hitler and Japanese generals that decided to fight to the last man?
There are wars of different nature: just, defensive wars on one side when agressive on another, and unjust wars on both sides.
When a country UNPROVOKINGLY attacks another country against the needs and opinions of international majority
(on WHATEVER reason the attacker might suggest as the excuse) such "war" is called and classified as AGRESSION
in the UN statute, period.
Therefore, it could be just ONE HONORABLE AND JUST way out
of this situation - GET THE F* OUT OF IRAQ.
The recent many-thousands demonstrations of Shiites tell "we" completely different story - the MAJORITY, not just active insurgents, don't want "we" there!
So, as I pointed out in my initial reaction to your "wise" military suggestion to put twice as much US troops and to fight Iraqis "house to house and door to door", unless "we" are willing to kill MUCH, MUCH more of them than monstrous Saddam Hussein did, and to suffer MUCH
more American casualties "we" got to GET OUT OF IRAQ, AS FAST AS IT IS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. (Not mentioning already
the terrible consequences for the anti-terrorist war, declared by the White House, of not doing what every humane and unbiased man in this country and around the world wants "we" to do.)
Sorry to disappoint you, but this is the situation "we" are in now.

You really got the stomach to remind "we" of US-created Vietnam's catastrophe (though - primarily to million speople of South-East Asia), but to this country, as well,
and especially the heavy bombings of North Vietnamese
civilian centers and Cambodia, as the "right" (this time pun intended) way to conduct "a war" against indigeous population.
Now you really DISGUST me. I don't want have any discussion with a belligerent fascist-type maniak.


N. Friedman - 4/23/2005

Arnold,

It would seem to me that you are not speaking of the perceptions of Arabs. You are speaking of your own perceptions of what you would have the Arabs perceive.

It seems to me that whether or not the US has supported an Arab regime - and we have not supported all of them -, none have been very good regimes by the standards of the world. Syria, which the US has not supported, is no better than Egypt, which we have supported. Yemen, which we have not supported, is about as bad a regime as is possible for this Earth, short, perhaps, of Saddam which we supported for a while but later did not support. We did support Saudi Arabia and it is a terrible regime but so is Libya which we did not support.

Now, the Europeans, unlike the US, did support all of the noted regimes without regard to their politics. And the Europeans have supplied all of the regimes with improved technology regardless of regime behavior. And the Europeans have not favored doing anything with the Arabs than indulging their demands.

And, many of the Arab regime demands have been particularly unreasonable. While indulging the Arab Muslim demands to condemn Israel, such Arab regimes have supported the Jihad in Sudan which killed 2 million people. Moreover, the Christians Maronites of Lebanon were abandoned when they sought independence (with more than 100,000 Maronites killed). The efforts of Copts for equality in Egypt have all been ignored so that the Copts are severely oppressed. The Assyrian Chaldeans were abandoned, etc., etc.

In short, I do not buy your thesis. I think we need to see the policy of the Arab states as using allegations against the West and Israel to push Arab state political goals against non-Muslims in the region. And, frankly, it is Europe, not the US, which has done the most to indulge such activity by the Arab states. And that has led to unbelieveable numbers of deaths and remarkable oppressions - as bad as any that has occurred since WWII including, most particularly, the nearly unmentioned genocide of 2 million Christians and animists in Sudan -.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/23/2005

Mr. Ebbitt,

Are you agitating Americans for doing exactly what the
rest of mankind (except of, may be a couple of its die-hard allies) fear of: mass killings of Iraqi populus, or is it coincidentally that you compared it to Vietnam, where millions where killed over the superpower fight against VC "gangs", as your US-US-uber-alles high intellect characterized that past war?
Or, in your perception, bombing, shelling, killing the citizens of the other country and destroying its livelihood, after attacking it without even formal excuse of being asked for help by its populus or its neighbors is as normal as running nose in the rainy day,
as long as it is performed by the greatest country in the world - US?
If that is so, I wish YOU to be the very first SOB dying there.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/23/2005

Mr. Ebbit,

I can answer your rhetorical question "Why should we give credence to the perceptions of the Arab region?"
very simply: First of all, because when we want to deal with someone, at least, economically and profitably to just yourself (forget mutual profitability) still a wise thing to do is to know the real needs of those folks and their attitude to yourself (this applies to all regions);
Secondly, and specifically applicable to the Arab region: because WE sponsored and supported (and still do) a whole lot of brutal regimes over there (including the "monstrous" Saddam Hussein's one, when it was playing into our hand and at the time it was committing its worst crimes), and therefore it would be wise to change the respective nations' perception of us from anti-democratic egocentric superpowerful oil pumper to the real supporter of real democracy in the Arab world.
Unless, of course, WE plan to kill millions of them if that what it takes to install and support pro-US, anti-popular political and economical regime in those countries, as we tried and did occasionally, especially in the countries of the Third World.

Somehow, noone on these boards posed the question that just begs to be asked: Why the US goverment is so afraid
to leave Iraq, if by its own assertion the overwhelming majority of Iraqis: hated Saddam's regime, which WE overthrown; currently support the establishment of the
democratic regime and expect the election of the goverment representing the great majority of the people;
only the relatively tiny (estimated 5-10 thousands) group of insurgents currently fighting (by means of terroristic acts) those millions, which by all common sense estimates and figures and the presense of the mentioned above will is capable to squash that insurgency in a matter of a couple months?
Mind you, it never happened before in modern history
that a tiny group of terrorists, opposed by, at the least, 90% of population of a big country seriously challenged the will of the majority, and moreover - established its own murderous regime.
Unless,... we are getting some terribly broken picture
of what's actually going on there and lies
about real plans and goals of the US goverment in the Arab region.


Bill Heuisler - 4/22/2005

Mr. Thomin,
The discussion dealt with fighters.

Of course you refer to the paragraph:
"General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani said that Iraq's insurgency consited of at least 40,000 hardcore fighters, out of a total of more than 200,000 part-time fighters and volunteers who provide intelligence, logistics and shelter. Shahwani said the resistance enjoyed wide backing in the Sunni provinces of Baghdad, Babel, Salahuddin, Diyala, Nineveh and Tamim. Shahwani said the Baath, with a core fighting strength of more than 20,000, had split into three factions. The main one, still owing allegiance to jailed dictator Saddam Hussein, is operating out of Syria. It is led by Saddam's half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan and former aide Mohamed Yunis al-Ahmed, who provide funding to their connections in Mosul, Samarra, Baquba, Kirkuk and Tikrit. Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri is still in Iraq. Two other factions have broken from Saddam, but have yet to mount any attacks. Islamist factions range from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda affiliate to Ansar al-Sunna and Ansar al-Islam."

Preferring estimates of Shawani over American sources is fine as long as you remember you are including those who provide "logistics and shelter". Imagine, if you will, the fate of any villager or city dweller who refuses food or shelter to a Jihadist. Including logistics and shelter makes the number meaningless to a person estimating the armed fighters we must deal with. You might as well include any civilian Sunni - Kurds as well, who might encounter Ansar fighters - who provides food or a place to sleep to an armed band.

Remember, if you kill the armed band, the villagers will revert back to just plain villagers (who voted for Democracy in unprecedented numbers this last January).
Bill Heuisler


Edward Siegler - 4/22/2005

Mr. Ebbitt,

If it's true that the insurgency (which you seem to confuse with "the Arabs") has four aces in hand, then we should be seeing Zarqawi "liberate" Baghadad any day now. The problem is, as much as many in the Arab world and even the West see the war as a case of American-Jewish-Christian imperialism, the Iraqi people themselves are becoming increasingly hostile towards the insurgency.

What can this nihilistic group of criminals and fanatics, who see deliberate attacks on mosques, funeral processions and water treatment plants as the way forward, really accomplish in Iraq besides continued murder and mayhem? Even if the insurgency is believed to be a romantic group of freedom fighters, like the French resistance during World War II, the truth has a way of asserting itself - especially among the Iraqi people, who are the primary victims of the insurgency's "ideals".

Four aces won't be enough to win this game, especially when faced with an increasingly powerful Iraqi military that has a lot more than cards to play with.


Edward Siegler - 4/22/2005

I understand that Polk's argument is that the U.S. is running Iraq. The problem is that he presents little evidence to support this case, and major evidence exists to contradict it.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2005

Patrick,

I do not know where you got the idea that I favored the war. I merely note that the perception of those in the Arab region should not dictate US policy. I did not say we should ignore what Arabs say and think but only that faulty perceptions should not dictate what we do.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2005

Arnold,

Somewhere in the understanding of things, there are facts. Recognizing facts - as some say, stubborn facts - does not mean that one goes to war and it does not mean that one makes peace. However, recognizing facts is the first step to understanding something.

I might note: one could think that the Arab or any other groups' perceptions were correct and still go to war as, in fact, the Arab or some other groups' perceptions are perceived as not advancing US or some other countries' interests. War is certainly and unfortunately a major part of history's content, without regard to the accuracy of a perception.

If one wishes to understand something, you have to study it, not merely listen to the every nonsense perception that someone in the Arab region or elsewhere has. I can readily imagine someone agreeing with my view that the Arab regions follow illusions akin to people in Europe during the Middle Ages and still not believe that the war in Iraq is a good idea. You may recall: I have consistently taken the view that the Iraq war was a mistake.


Edward Siegler - 4/22/2005

Since you keep on asking me to cite sources to confirm what are obvious and indisputed facts about the insurgency, here is the following link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/22/international/middleeast/22cnd-iraq.html?hp&;ex=1114228800&en=6ef4818d2c542d1d&ei=5094&partner=homepage

It documents the latest attack by the insurgents on a Shiite mosque. It says, "Shiite mosques have been a frequent target of attacks by Sunni led insurgents." How could this sort of thing possibly be part of a "nationalist" movement?

"It's implied that the American presence in Iraq is what is causing the insurgeny's nihilistic attempt to incite civil war and create an islamic theocracy or a new Baathist dictatorship"

This is a case of poor communication on my part. Polk is saying that the American presence in Iraq is what is causing the insurgency. I'm the one saying that the insurgency is a "nihilistic attempt...etc."

If you would like more specific sources on the insurgency take a look at Mr. Heuisler's post above.


N. Friedman - 4/22/2005

Scott,

Your point makes no sense. Realizing that the Arab view of their world is basically a delusion does not mean that one is compelled to go to war to fix the problem. Bush had a host of options. He adopted one that has a lot of problems associated with it. He might, on the other hand, have sat back and done nothing. He might have conquered Saudi Arabia. He chose Iraq.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 4/22/2005

Mr. Heuisler,
It seems that there are many conflicted sources, as the link provided below verifies Mr. Ebbitt's numbers.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq_insurgency.htm


Arnold Shcherban - 4/22/2005

Mr Rodden,

I allow myself one short addition to your accurate interpretation of Mr Freidman's rhetorical question: ... and toward any world's region, whose nations did not share our perceptions.


Bill Heuisler - 4/21/2005

Mr Ebbitt,
150,000 to 200,000 sounds too high by a factor of ten.
Here are excerpts from what I could find:

By Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published March 29, 2005

Military commanders say they have a better picture today than they did a year ago of the deadly insurgency in Iraq, thanks to better intelligence collection and analysis.
The Pentagon estimates the enemy force at 12,000 to 20,000 fighters. It is a heterogenous grouping of Saddam Hussein loyalists, criminals and foreign terrorists led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab Zarqawi.
A Pentagon official said there are questions about how many insurgents are hard-core fighters as opposed to "fence sitters" who might participate in an attack but then lie dormant for weeks at a time.
"There are many part-timers who will quit fighting under the right conditions," the official said.
Officials now think that criminals make up more of the insurgents than first thought, meaning many are driven by money, not ideology. And commanders are seeing more foreign fighters because fewer Iraqis are willing to commit themselves to attacks.
The suspicion that there is a large number of semicommitted insurgents was bolstered by the enemy's failure to disrupt the Jan. 30 elections, when 8 million Iraqis went to the polls.

Another from CNN:
The senior military official told CNN the bulk of the insurgency is made up of 12,000 to 15,000 Arab Sunni followers of Saddam’s party. The Baath Party was overthrown by a U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Of those, the source said 5,000 to 7,000 are considered “committed” fighters, with the rest considered “fence-sitters,” criminals or “facilitators” who contribute material support or sanctuary to the guerrillas.

Also: washingtonpost.com

CIA Studies Provide Glimpse of Insurgents in Iraq
Analysis Describes Groups of Fighters, Gives Clearer Picture of Their Operations
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 6, 2005; Page A19

As reflected in CIA classified studies last month, U.S. military and intelligence officials are still trying to understand the various Iraqi insurgency groups that they expect will continue to fight, even after last week's election...

The CIA last month updated its analysis of the breadth of the Iraqi insurgency, including Iraqis that are not only former Baathists, "dead enders," but also newly radicalized Sunni Iraqis, nationalists offended by the occupying force and others disenchanted by the economic turmoil and destruction caused by the fighting.

Foreign fighters associated with Abu Musab Zarqawi and his al Qaeda-affiliated insurgent group, who once were seen as the prime opponents along with tens of thousands of criminals freed by Saddam Hussein before the war began in 2003, are now described as lesser elements but still a source of danger. Michael Scheuer, the former CIA analyst who ran the agency's Osama bin Laden section in the 1990s, said yesterday, "The administration doesn't seem to have thought through the continuing danger from foreign fighters."

He said countries such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria in the 1980s released imprisoned Islamic radicals to go fight the Soviets in Afghanistan "hoping they would die in the process." Now, Scheuer said, "Iraq is a more attractive fight for those radicals, and the Saudis currently want to unload the firebrands they have at home." The Sunni government in Riyadh is also unhappy with the prospect of a Shiite state on the border, he added, "so they think it is a great thing for their people to do."

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who disclosed the existence of the CIA reports during testimony last Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, could not say how many insurgents there are. "We know the elements of the threat very well," Myers said, but "to come up with accurate estimates is just very, very difficult in this type of insurgency."

Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), ranking Democrat on the panel, said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., head of the Multinational Force Iraq, reported during a closed hearing two weeks ago that the coalition forces killed or captured 15,000 suspected insurgents last year, a number far larger than earlier U.S. estimates of 6,000 to 9,000.

Myers said that there are classified estimates, but that it is difficult to get accurate numbers because "there are so many fence-sitters."

So any official "estimates" are far below your 150,000.
Bill Heuisler


Glenn Scott Rodden - 4/21/2005

Siegler: Fortunately he didn't try to cite any example he could find of civilians being killed by American revolutionaries and then claim that there is no distinguishing them from Iraq's terrorists. He simply lets our imagination do the work.

At least you admit that you are imagining things.

Siegler: And it's true that Polk does not argue that the insurgents seek to create a new Baathist dictatorship or theocracy.

Rodden: Then why claim that he did?

Siegler: I didn't. Read more closely next time.

Sure you did.

Siegler (April 18): It's implied that the American presence in Iraq is what is causing the insurgeny's nihilistic attempt to incite civil war and create an islamic theocracy or a new Baathist dictatorship.

Why the denial?

Siegler: Because regardless of Zarqawi's nationality, he is universally recognized as one of the key leaders of the insurgency by America, Iraq and Zarqawi himself. He has taken responsibility for many attacks. Is it so hard for you to understand that the insurgency involves people from many different countries?

Zarqawi is a leader of the foreign fighters who are working with the Iraqi insurgents. His presence does not explain the nature of the Iraqi insurgency.

Siegler: I repeat what I've read and heard from many different sources, most notably statements from the insurgents themselves. Not one of them are statements from the Bush administration.

The only statement from insurgents that you have quoted is a statement from Zarqawi.

Siegler: That's because you obviously haven't read or seen what any of them, even the ones that are explicitly anti-war and anti-Bush, have to say about the insurgency. However Polk, in one of his accurate moments, points out that the Sunnis have been robbed of their historical dominance of the country. All of the sources I cite consistently report that the insurgency is an overwhelmingly Sunni enterprise. Obviously there is an attempt here to reestablish Sunni rule. Polk provides no evidence to contradict this.

You should take your own advice about reading comprehension. Actually, Polk argues that the insurgency is an Iraqi nationalist movement and not solely a Sunni movement.

Siegler: He's wrong. Hussein was toppled by forces from the outside. The Transitional Administrative Law, which is Iraq's interim constitution, was written by Iraqis and Americans. Iraqis were not made to vote by forces from the outside, they choose to do so despite direct threats to their lives from the insurgency. They voted for Iraqi candidates, not forces from the outside. These Iraqi leaders will draw up a constitution on their own. Security is increasingly being provided by Iraqis, who are seen as the good guys. Outside forces are providing a great deal of support and outside investors, as they do in almost all countries, are helping with the economy.

Again you misunderstand Polk's argument. He says that despite the appearance that Iraqi is being run by Iraqis the reality is that important institutions like the military, the oil industry, and finance and run by the US.

Siegler: Your assumption is that my argument is based on Bush administration propaganda instead of the various independent sources I cited.

You did not cite and sources.

Siegler: This is what leads me to to notice the similarity of Polk and your "insurgency as patriotic nationalist liberation movement" argument to North Korean government propaganda.

You imagination is running wild again because never makes that argument.

Siegler: The question is what does Polk's article have to do with what the insurgency really is?

Which is a question that you have answered.


Glenn Scott Rodden - 4/21/2005

Friedman: Why should we give credence to the perceptions of the Arab region?

This statement sums up the Bush administration's attitude toward the Middle East.


Bill Heuisler - 4/21/2005

Omar,
You must be right. It's all the Jews' fault. And trying to establish Democracy with Arabs is just plain silly.

And we must all condemn those damn Imperialist Americans who, in spite of what we all must call "near universal opposition to the war", formed a coalition of dozens of idiot countries to enforce some stupid United Nations Resolution. You and Polk certainly know your history.

And those 3000 civilians killed on 9/11 deserved to die because they were part of the Imperialist Conquest. Also we know Saddam never had anything to do with supporting, training or funding those Arab/Moslem/Third World heroes involved in attacking the US. Just because wholly (holy?) righteous Islamists attacked the US in 2001 was no reason to retaliate. They were the victims, not us.

Also, I agree it's certainly an "increasingly tragic situation in Iraq" when hospitals and schools open, when fresh water becomes available for rural Arabs, when all people get to vote for their leaders, when torture and murder are no longer State Policy and when women and Kurds and Shiites can participate in their government. It was better when Saddam made all the decisions, wasn't it?

And your observation about the "blatant bankruptcy" of the idea of WMDs like poison gas, nuclear warheads, VX, Anthrax and Risin in Iraq certainly states the obvious. In fact, your authoritative declaration exhibits the same profound thinking of those other great minds who believe in stoning homosexuals, beheading adultrous wives and cutting off clitorises of young women...and who also deny the deaths of those Jews at Auschwitz and Belsen Bergen.
Your new admirer, Bill Heuisler


N. Friedman - 4/21/2005

Omar,

Perception is one thing. What has occurred is another thing. Somehow, the perception of people living in the Arab regions is rarely reliable. After, in such regions, conspiracy theories abound. Remember the one about who attacked the US on 9/11? That was a perception. The reality was quite a different thing.

Why should we give credence to the perceptions of the Arab region? While we should not mistreat the Arabs and while we should not ignore Arab preferences, accepting paranoid and faulty analyses serves no purpose that I can see.


Bill Heuisler - 4/21/2005

Mr. Ebbitt,
You are correct. I probably overestimated on the basis of speaking to one Army Commander and three Marine small-unit officers who each stated they were surprised that a great many - sometimes most - of the insurgents they are capturing are not Iraqis. They say many are Saudis, a few Egyptians and Afghans, but a lot of Iranians.

Apparently the truth? DOD, CIA and State just don't know. I read the following yesterday:

"Top US commander says more foreign fighters appear to be entering Iraq"
WASHINGTON, March 27 (AFP) - Foreign fighters entering Iraq in recent months make up a growing percentage of insurgents battling US troops and the country's fledgling security force, a senior US military commander said Sunday.
In an interview with CNN in Mosul, Iraq, General John Abizaid, the commander of US Central Command, which covers Iraq, said that while most insurgents appear to be Iraqis, "The percentage of foreign fighters over the past several months seems to have increased." He also said the insurgents' ranks likely include "former Baathist criminals."
"It seems to be pretty well established that they tend to cross over from Syria, although we know that there have been some infiltrations from the Saudi border, there have been some from the Iranian border," Abizaid said.

Bottom line? There are enough foreign fighters in Iraq who are resisting the democratization to allow me to state with conviction that it's not some home-grown resistance movement that can be compared to our American Revolution by someone with a hard-on for George Bush.
Thanks for the correction.
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 4/20/2005

Mr. Rodden,
If pointing out your ignorance of Iraq and Democratic elections is a personal attack, then I plead guilty.
But, while protesting, you provided further evidence of your ignorance. For example you unwittingly exposed your lack of familiarity with Iraq when you criticized my post for not listing Sunnis as participating in the elections.

Sunni Arabs - only 15 percent of Iraq's population - have dominated Iraq's government and economy throughout the 20th century. You obviously don't know Saddam is a Sunni. Saddam placed mostly Sunnis in positions of power in his Baathist dictatorship. They weren't listed because they have been the base for problems in Baghdad, Najaf and Mosul. They're losing their power in any majority-rule Democracy and they attempted to boycott the elections. I'm quite surprised you didn't know that, since you're so eager to criticize President Bush's policies. Like I said, it might help to learn a little more about Iraq.

Also, if you knew anything about Iraq, you might've noted I did mention Kurds. For your further education, Kurds are predominantly Sunni and make up some 18 percent of the Iraqi population.

You crown your benightedness by deploring, "the fact that the US is torturing and murdering Iraqis." Really? Please cite your sources for this "fact". Lacking any sources, please explain why you are so eager to indict our US military - and yet equally eager to absolve Saddam and his Sunnis of responsibility - for Iraq's deplorable conditions. Hatred for the US, or sheer ignorance?
Bill Heuisler


Edward Siegler - 4/20/2005

Rodden: Polk was just making the point that force alone can not defeat an insurgency. He did not compare the American Revolution to the Iraqi insurgency.

Polk wrote, "Writing about another insurgency, the American Revolution, Edmund Burke..." Fortunately he didn't try to cite any example he could find of civilians being killed by American revolutionaries and then claim that there is no distinguishing them from Iraq's terrorists. He simply lets our imagination do the work.

Siegler: And it's true that Polk does not argue that the insurgents seek to create a new Baathist dictatorship or theocracy.

Then why claim that he did?

I didn't. Read more closely next time.

Rodden: Why use statements made by Zarqawi, a non-Iraqi, to make general claims about the entire Iraqi insurgency?

Because regardless of Zarqawi's nationality, he is universally recognized as one of the key leaders of the insurgency by America, Iraq and Zarqawi himself. He has taken responsibility for many attacks. Is it so hard for you to understand that the insurgency involves people from many different countries?

And I did not realize that there are only three types of government in this world.

Again, I never said that. A little reading comprehension, please. I asked what the opposite of democracy is and suggested dictatorship and theocracy as answers.

Rodden: Then why repeat Bush administration propaganda in you posts?

I repeat what I've read and heard from many different sources, most notably statements from the insurgents themselves. Not one of them are statements from the Bush administration.


Rodden: The sources you vaguely cite above do not support your assertion that the Iraqi insurgency is no a nationalist movement.

That's because you obviously haven't read or seen what any of them, even the ones that are explicitly anti-war and anti-Bush, have to say about the insurgency. However Polk, in one of his accurate moments, points out that the Sunnis have been robbed of their historical dominance of the country. All of the sources I cite consistently report that the insurgency is an overwhelmingly Sunni enterprise. Obviously there is an attempt here to reestablish Sunni rule. Polk provides no evidence to contradict this.


Rodden: I did not say that democracy had been imposed on Iraq. I said that Polk argues that democracy has been imposed from the outside.

He's wrong. Hussein was toppled by forces from the outside. The Transitional Administrative Law, which is Iraq's interim constitution, was written by Iraqis and Americans. Iraqis were not made to vote by forces from the outside, they choose to do so despite direct threats to their lives from the insurgency. They voted for Iraqi candidates, not forces from the outside. These Iraqi leaders will draw up a constitution on their own. Security is increasingly being provided by Iraqis, who are seen as the good guys. Outside forces are providing a great deal of support and outside investors, as they do in almost all countries, are helping with the economy.


Your assumption is that my argument is based on Bush administration propaganda instead of the various independent sources I cited. This is what leads me to to notice the similarity of Polk and your "insurgency as patriotic nationalist liberation movement" argument to North Korean government propaganda. The question is what does Polk's article have to do with what the insurgency really is?


Glenn Scott Rodden - 4/20/2005

Siegler: However you missed the comparison Polk makes here to the nationalist uprising of the American revolution.

Polk was just making the point that force alone can not defeat an insurgency. He did not compare the American Revolution to the Iraqi insurgency.

Siegler: And it's true that Polk does not argue that the insurgents seek to create a new Baathist dictatorship or theocracy.

Then why claim that he did?

Siegler: Looking at the actions and statements of the insurgents, who are killing far more Iraqis than Americans who consider democracy to be an "infidel institution" (quick question - what's the opposite of democracy? Dictatorship or theocracy perhaps?), proves that he is wrong on both counts.

Why use statements made by Zarqawi, a non-Iraqi, to make general claims about the entire Iraqi insurgency? And I did not realize that there are only three types of government in this world.

Siegler: This is not a matter of believing anyone's propaganda, as you say, but a matter of fact.

Then why repeat Bush administration propaganda in you posts?

Siegler: Polls from Iraq, blogs such as Iraq the Model (written by Iraqis), the film Voices of Iraq (made by Iraqis who interview each other), newspapers such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and even England's rabidly left-wing Manchester Guardian all confirm this information. The last I checked, none of these sources are organs of "Bush propaganda." That is, unless you consider anything that contradicts your views to be "Bush propaganda."

The sources you vaguely cite above do not support your assertion that the Iraqi insurgency is no a nationalist movement.

Siegler: I hate to burst your bubble, but elections take place when people (the "bottom") choose to go to the polls and pick leaders (the "top"). Let's review that again - bottom to top. No one forced the people to vote, or "imposed" democracy, in your words.

None of this deals with the nature of the insurgency which is the subject of Polk's article. I did not say that democracy had been imposed on Iraq. I said that Polk argues that democracy has been imposed from the outside.

Siegler: I was wondering if anyone out there was still deluded enough to think that, like the French resistance of World War II, the insurgents are a bunch of "freedom fighters" working to rid themselves of a brutal occupier. Go back to reading Kim Jong Ill administration propaganda - you won't have to be burdened with the truth if you only look for it in Pyongyang.

What does any of this have to do with Polk's article?


Edward Siegler - 4/20/2005

You are correct, Mr. Rodden, that Polk argues that the insurgency is a nationalist uprising directed at American troops. However you missed the comparison Polk makes here to the nationalist uprising of the American revolution. And it's true that Polk does not argue that the insurgents seek to create a new Baathist dictatorship or theocracy. Looking at the actions and statements of the insurgents, who are killing far more Iraqis than Americans who consider democracy to be an "infidel institution" (quick question - what's the opposite of democracy? Dictatorship or theocracy perhaps?), proves that he is wrong on both counts. This is not a matter of believing anyone's propaganda, as you say, but a matter of fact. Polls from Iraq, blogs such as Iraq the Model (written by Iraqis), the film Voices of Iraq (made by Iraqis who interview each other), newspapers such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and even England's rabidly left-wing Manchester Guardian all confirm this information. The last I checked, none of these sources are organs of "Bush propaganda." That is, unless you consider anything that contradicts your views to be "Bush propaganda."

Again you are correct that Polk believes Sunnis and Shiites are cooperating in this insurgency. Just because he believes it doesn't make it true. Try presenting some evidence if you expect anyone to take easily refuted claims like these seriously.

I hate to burst your bubble, but elections take place when people (the "bottom") choose to go to the polls and pick leaders (the "top"). Let's review that again - bottom to top. No one forced the people to vote, or "imposed" democracy, in your words. Yes, your claims are very easily brushed aside because they make no sense. But thanks for providing some entertainment. I was wondering if anyone out there was still deluded enough to think that, like the French resistance of World War II, the insurgents are a bunch of "freedom fighters" working to rid themselves of a brutal occupier. Go back to reading Kim Jong Ill administration propaganda - you won't have to be burdened with the truth if you only look for it in Pyongyang.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 4/19/2005

http://www.wordfocus.com/word-act-blindmen.html


Glenn Scott Rodden - 4/19/2005

Heuisler: You contradict yourself, obviously know nothing of Iraq and can't understand the word, election.

Might as well start off with personal attacks.

Heuisler: Nationalist? Zarqawi? Make up your mind. More than fifty percent of those fighting the US in Iraq are foreign to Iraq. Further, these "nationalists" of yours are killing far more representatives of the new Iraqi government than they are killing Americans. They aren't nationalists, they are Islamofascists.

Neither I nor Polk said that Zarqwai is a nationalist. And what exactly is an Islamofascists? Why use a religious slur to define the insurgency?

Heuisler: There was a free election, remember?
Infrastructure is being rebuilt after decades of neglect. Schools and hospitals are opening. Shiites, Christians, women and Kurds are participating in national politics and former political prisoners of the Baathist regime are also participating in a new Iraqi government.

I noticed that you left Sunnis off your list of participants in the election. Can you explain?

Heuisler: And you write, "eroding" institutions? What institutions?

What I and I think Polk are getting at is that the extreme violence that Iraq is experiencing and has experienced for 25 years breaks down societial norms. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that Iraq is an extremely violent place and that violence has an effect on the entire culture. You need to look under the surface of the institutions that you are writing about and investigate beyond Bush administration propaganda.

Heuisler: You forget we "eroded" Saddam's institutions of torture, murder and aggression that held Baathist tyranny together.

I have not forgotten about Saddam's torture state. Perhaps it is you who forgot that until 1990 the US had no problem supporting that torture state. Since Cheney and Rumsfeld were big fans of Saddam back then, why don't you ask them why they supported him?

Heuisler: Exactly which of Saddam's "institutions" did you admire and wish to preserve, Mr. Rodden?

None, but apparently you do. I deplore the fact that the US is torturing and murdering Iraqis. What about you?


Bill Heuisler - 4/19/2005

Mr. Rodden,
You contradict yourself, obviously know nothing of Iraq and can't understand the word, election.

You wrote: "First, the insurgency is a nationalist movement...not confined to one religious or ethnic group."
Then you wrote, "Zarqawi is not an Iraqi. He is part of a foreign contingent of Jihadists who are fighting the US for their own reasons."

Nationalist? Zarqawi? Make up your mind. More than fifty percent of those fighting the US in Iraq are foreign to Iraq. Further, these "nationalists" of yours are killing far more representatives of the new Iraqi government than they are killing Americans. They aren't nationalists, they are Islamofascists.

You wrote: "Second, the continuing violence in Iraq is eroding many institutions that hold societies together and the US occuption contributes to that violence."

There was a free election, remember? Infrastructure is being rebuilt after decades of neglect. Schools and hospitals are opening. Shiites, Christians, women and Kurds are participating in national politics and former political prisoners of the Baathist regime are also participating in a new Iraqi government.
And you write, "eroding" institutions? What institutions? You forget we "eroded" Saddam's institutions of torture, murder and aggression that held Baathist tyranny together. Exactly which of Saddam's "institutions" did you admire and wish to preserve, Mr. Rodden?

Lastly, you wrote: "Third, the Iraqi democracy has been imposed from the outside and from the top down."
There was an election. Millions voted. Can't get more inside and bottom-up than free elections. Get off the soap box. Talk to a vet who's been there. Buy a newspaper.
Bill Heuisler


Glenn Scott Rodden - 4/19/2005

Siegler: This article gets off to a weak start by amazingly comparing the American Revolution to Iraq's insurgency. A situation in which an English colony fought against British troops for its independence 200 years ago is said to equate to an attempt to restore Sunni Arab rule through attacks on civilians, mosques, the Iraqi military and the nation's infrastructure

Polk does not argue this. He argues that the insurgency is a NATIONALIST uprising directed at American troops.

Siegeler: It's implied that the American presence in Iraq is what is causing the insurgeny's nihilistic attempt to incite civil war and create an islamic theocracy or a new Baathist dictatorship.

Polk does not imply this. He argues that the majority of Iraqis do not see Americans as liberators but as occupiers. No where does Polk say that the insurgency is fighting for to establish a theocracy or a new Baathist dictatorship.

Siegler: The Iraqis themselves know better.

How do you know this? How many Iraqis have you interviewed?

Siegler: They can clearly see that the insurgency is largely a matter of criminals and fanatics murdering Iraqis and they are rapidly tiring of it.

Sounds like Bush administration propaganda.

Siegler: Zarqawi said he was declaring "bitter war against democracy" but the Iraqi people are clearly in favor of this "infidel institution" and are acting accordingly.

Zarqawi is not an Iraqi. He is part of a foreign contingent of Jihadists who are fighting the US for their own reasons. Polk never mentions him or his followers. Nor does Polk argue that Iraqis have rejected democracy.

Siegler: The assertion that the presence of American troops is creating unity between Sunnis and Shiites is easily refuted with a brief glance at any newspaper. Either this article was written during the summer of '04 when al-Sadar's uprising gave the appearence of Sunni-Shiite cooperation or Polk has failed to read any recent reports out of Iraq.

Polk argues that the occupation has temporarily driven Sunnis and Shiias together. The US, just like the British in the 1920s, is working to split any alliance between religious or ethnic groups.

Siegler:

Even someone with a thin veneer of knowledge about Iraq can see that the ever stronger reconstruction of this country is not "all done by foreigners to Iraqis" and not always proceeding "from the top down rather than from the bottom up." If Iraq disintigrates into civil war - which is something the vast majority of Iraqis don't want - this article may seem like more than the fantasy it is. Barring this, Polk's analysis is useless.

Polk as more than a "veneer" of knowledge about Iraq and the Middle East and his analysis of the insurgency is useful because it counters the Bush administration propaganda. He identified a number of important trends in Iraq that Americans should be thinking about.

First, the insurgency is a nationalist movement and is not confined to one religious or ethnic group. The Bush administration and the media often portray the insurgency as Sunni only.

Second, the continuing violence in Iraq is eroding many institutions that hold societies together and the US occuption contributes to that violence.

Third, the Iraqi democracy has been imposed from the outside and from the top down.

These points are not easily brushed aside.


Bill Heuisler - 4/19/2005

Mr. Siegler,
Extremely well put. Much better than the response I was composing. Thank you.
Bill Heuisler


Edward Siegler - 4/18/2005

This article gets off to a weak start by amazingly comparing the American Revolution to Iraq's insurgency. A situation in which an English colony fought against British troops for its independence 200 years ago is said to equate to an attempt to restore Sunni Arab rule through attacks on civilians, mosques, the Iraqi military and the nation's infrastructure.

Polk only manages to swallow the one aspect of Insurgent propaganda that appeals to him - its anti-Americanism. Even al-Jezeera understands that there's more to it than that. It's implied that the American presence in Iraq is what is causing the insurgeny's nihilistic attempt to incite civil war and create an islamic theocracy or a new Baathist dictatorship. The Iraqis themselves know better. They can clearly see that the insurgency is largely a matter of criminals and fanatics murdering Iraqis and they are rapidly tiring of it. Tips from informants that lead to raids and arrests of insurgents are on the rise, and many Iraqis continue to risk their lives to join the military, which is rapidly gaining strength while the insurgency looses it. Zarqawi said he was declaring "bitter war against democracy" but the Iraqi people are clearly in favor of this "infidel institution" and are acting accordingly. No insurgency that pits itself against a domestic democratic majority has ever succeeded, making all of Polk's historical analogies suspect at best.

The assertion that the presence of American troops is creating unity between Sunnis and Shiites is easily refuted with a brief glance at any newspaper. Either this article was written during the summer of '04 when al-Sadar's uprising gave the appearence of Sunni-Shiite cooperation or Polk has failed to read any recent reports out of Iraq.

Even someone with a thin veneer of knowledge about Iraq can see that the ever stronger reconstruction of this country is not "all done by foreigners to Iraqis" and not always proceeding "from the top down rather than from the bottom up." If Iraq disintigrates into civil war - which is something the vast majority of Iraqis don't want - this article may seem like more than the fantasy it is. Barring this, Polk's analysis is useless.