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Patraeus: "We're Just Getting Started"

MSNBC story:

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, depicted the situation there as "exceedingly complex and very tough" Thursday and said the U.S. effort might become more difficult before before it gets easier.

The four-star general called the war there "the most complex and challenging I have ever seen."

He said there have been some improvements in the two months since President Bush's troop buildup began, but "there is vastly more work to be done across the board. ... We are just getting started with the new effort."

In other words, all that talk about the troops coming home by this fall...or this winter...or next summer is just talk. If Bush has his way, we will be there forever.


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Comments (10)

Heralder:

Paul,

I realize everyone is impatient to see results. There have been some positive results, but no magic remedy.

General Patraeus' comment about just getting started was in direct reference to the troop surge as said in the text you quoted.

To honestly think that Bush wants American soldiers dying in Iraq "forever" seems either an exaggeration or willful ignorance.

I'm not sure why many Democrats have failed to see the benefit of not setting a hard, widely advertised timeline for troop withdrawal.

Paul Hamilton:

Heralder: I'm not real hot on timelines myself, but what I would like to see is for us to say that we are going to leave and set the process in motion right away. I really believe that is the only thing which would motivate Maliki to get serious about building up his own forces.
Having said that, I don't think that the current government in Baghdad is viable in the long term. I think that eventually, Iraq will return to its pre-WW1 state of being three nations -- Sunni, Shia and Kurd. And it's because of this belief that I really think all of this is sending good money (and blood) after bad. Clearly we should have known that religious civil war would have been the result of a power vacuum in Iraq, but with people like Cheney whispering in Bush's ear that they'd throw flowers at us and build statues in his honor, it's not a surprise that a foreign policy lightweight like Bush would act as he did.
But the bottom line is that we must get out. We cannot stop a war where the people involved are willing to make ANY sacrifice to defeat their infidel neighbors. All we can do is bleed and postpone the inevitable. The die was cast the moment we invaded.

Heralder:

Paul,

Perhaps I'm missing your intended meaning, but not being for the implementation of a timeline, while at the same time wanting for us to start withdrawing troops immediately, seems like a contradiction.

You don't start withdrawing troops without a plan, and that plan involves a timeline, and that timeline is necessary for logistical purposes.

You've made it clear that you feel there cannot be stability and the the war was lost before it was fought.

I know how you feel actually...it really does at times seem hopeless. I fight against that feeling daily. Throwing one's hands in the air and walking away, leaving destruction in your wake, is no way to solve a problem.

We must keep in mind, Paul, that the most we hope for is that Iraq will be stable enough to stand on its own. That Iraq, as a nation, has a fair chance at deciding their future.

No one thinks we are going to wait to leave until the Sunni, Shiite and Kurds are having picnics together in Fallujah. That's not and never was the idea. We will not leave Iraq as a utopia even under the best of circumstances, but we can at least give them to somewhat sturdy legs to stand on.

I know all of that sounds like a speech by Bush, and that I'm simply regurgitating propaganda, but that is honestly what I see, and honestly how I feel.

-

By the way, are you a commenter from Wizbang main or are you new to Wizbang all together? (It helps to know sometimes to avoid repeating myself.)

Paul Hamilton:

I posted on Wizbang Classic under the nom de cyber of "blackcat77."

>>You don't start withdrawing troops without a plan, and that plan involves a timeline, and that timeline is necessary for logistical purposes.

The way I see it, it shouldn't be based on time, but on circumstances. It will take a certain amount of time for us to arrange for necessary transportation, security at the facilities where we will move men and supplies out, to figure out what to take back and what to leave, etc. We would do things as they became feasible, not just do it on thus-and-such a date whether we were ready or not.

>>You've made it clear that you feel there cannot be stability and the the war was lost before it was fought.

It didn't HAVE to be that way, but Bush began the war with no plan whatsoever to secure the peace. We just overran weapons depots and allowed rioting with no opposition. We armed the people who are killing us and, in effect, let them know that we didn't care what they did. And, as I said in the previous note, Bush failed to recognize that, like Yugoslavia under Tito, the only thing that was holding the nation together was the dictator. Once he was removed, all the old animosities came right back to the fore.

>>We must keep in mind, Paul, that the most we hope for is that Iraq will be stable enough to stand on its own. That Iraq, as a nation, has a fair chance at deciding their future.

I wish I could see something that would make me believe this was possible, but from day one, the Iraqi people have divided themselves into three armed camps, and the Baghdad government lacks either the will or the means to impose order on the warring groups. If you believe there's something they can do to change this after 4+ years of chaos, please let me know what you think it would be.

>>We will not leave Iraq as a utopia

I'd be happy just to see it as stable as it was before we invaded... Don't interpret this as me being a member of the Saddam Fan Club, but at least Iraq under his dictatorship wasn't defined by daily massacres and it wasn't both a breeding ground and a training ground for terrorists.
And one more thing -- while in reality, Iraq was a paper tiger following Desert Storm, Iran didn't know that, and the threat of Iraq balanced their influence and occupied their military. With all threat from Iraq removed, Iran has had free reign in the region and become much more of a menace than they were before 2003.

And I know you aren't just throwing soundbites. I enjoy discussing issues with folks like you.

Steve Crickmore:

Patraeus should know about the war being "challenging" and difficult' He was charged with preparing Iraqi forces to take responsibility for security from coalition forces from 2004 to 2006. And despite lots of optimistic statistical progress reports (similar to the surge) as the Washington Post says at the end of 2006 "We all know what really happened, the "national" army wasn't national at all; the combat forces weren't quite what the numbers suggested; insurgents had infiltrated almost all formations; the Ministry of Interior was riddled with Shi'a militia members and spies; the Iraqis weren't battling the insurgency, they were the insurgency." Let's hope Patraeus gets past the starting post this time.

Heralder:

Ah, blackcat77. Congratulations on making it over here.

Ryan:

Paul, thanks for the great post, you just put this whole situation in the perfect words using reason and logic. I've noticed that left-wing posts on Wizbang Classic are one of two kinds: 1)Idiotic name-calling attacks that rightly get shot down by the righty posters over there, and 2)articulate, intelligent, well-put, challenging posts that are met with resounding and uncomfortable silence by them. Here's hoping for a frank, honest, intelligent discourse from both sides over here on the new Wizbang Blue.

Paul Hamilton:

Thanks Ryan. I pride myself on not taking a stand on an issue unless I can rationally defend it.

Paul Hamilton:

Thanks, Heralder. I've run a political chat board for almost ten years now, but this is my first venture into blogging.

P. Bunyan:

"but at least Iraq under his dictatorship wasn't defined by daily massacres "

Before the invasion 80,000 a year were being killed instead of the 15,000 per year we have now. How is that better.

"it wasn't both a breeding ground and a training ground for terrorists."

Just because you want to believe this does not make it true. The facts clearly don't support this fantasy of yours.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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