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Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday

The MSM is reporting casualties in the hundreds from the VBIEDs, but two of the cadets with relatives in Baghdad say over a thousand people have been admitted to or treated and released from the local hospitals. One of them in particular should know -- his wife works in one of the larger hospitals.

The small bright spot is that security forces stopped one of the car bombers before he and his fellow suicider could make it to their target -- the police at one particular checkpoint did everything by-the-book and captured car and occupants intact.

Blast walls were recently removed from the Green Zone to demonstrate the government's confidence in the measure of control the Iraqi Army and National Police exerted in the area.

Lousy timing...


From what I have heard, the Iraqi police and military just aren't up to the task yet of truly securing their own country without our help.  I have a cousin on the ground in Taji now who has seen this daily since the July pull-out date.  Either the government of Iraq needs to get the police and military to step it up on their own, or they need to let our military re-join them and get this thing back under control.  And if they won't let us... we need to leave.

This is the first time in eight years I've said that.  I've always said that we cannot leave before the job is done and the country is back under effective internal control.  The upswing in violence since July 1 is no accident, and I'm afraid it's not an anomaly.  The new ROE's are tying our hands behind our backs.  We're sitting ducks, and if it's going to continue to be that way,  we need to leave. 

If Iraq wants their country back, without our help, and they fail... it's on them now.  We were there, we helped, but they shoved us out before they were ready to tackle this beast on their own.  The thousands who have been killed since July 1 are a testiment to that.  It's a damn shame their pride and ego's have gotten in the way of the success being made.
AFSister, go read Grim over at Blackfive for his take. It should give you hope.
Funny you should say that, John, because that's what I was doing when you wrote your comment.

I am not yet convinced.  There are bad things going on in Iraq right now that leads me to believe things have to change NOW, or else we need to leave NOW.  Our hands are tied by the new ROE's, and everything our men and women have worked, bled, and died for over there is in serious jeopardy.  If the Iraqi government isn't willing to let us step back in, they're digging their own grave and I don't want our guys to be a part of it.

I was against W's invasion of Iraq because he was just finishing his Daddy's fight.  But once we were there, our military had my full support, and I saw incredible things going on. Wonderful things going on.  The partnership we built with their military and the infrastructure we've built is just amazing.  But their new government is ruining all of that.  There also seems to be a good bit of corruption left in the police and military (look at what they did to the Iranian compound after July 1!)  This is not something we should be witness to, if that's all they'll allow us to do- witness.
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/20/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Russ, not John.  We all know my thoughts on Iraq.  We never should have gone in the first place, and should have stayed focused on Afghanistan.

Of course, I really think as a nation, we're only suited to two approaches.  A smash-and-grab, where we go in break things and kill a significant number of the right people, and leave a note saying, "Stop whatever you're doing we don't like, and we'll leave you alone." or we go all WWII on them and create the conditions where they *want* to rebuild their polity along new lines.

The stuff in between, let the Euros run that sort of thing, with us in support, not the lead.  I just don't think the US does the Imperial thing well, because we just don't put our hearts into it.  And I think the outcome of Korea, Vietnam, and, quite possibly Iraq and Afghanistan are going to support that view.

I know it's not that simple, really.  But I do think that one reason we don't do these things terribly well is because our heart isn't in it.  If you *want* the help, fine - but if we're pretty much *imposing it,* not so good.

The one time where it did work, after a fashion, the Span-Am War, was a period where we were kinda feeling our Post-Manifest-Destiny oats, and were in a media envrionment where we could do it.

Now?  Not so much.

I coulda swore that comment said "John", not "Russ".

I need new glasses or something.  Anybody got a spare set?
Stay safe, Bill. I know you're not in Baghdad, but still...
I am inclined to agree with AFSis, we've taught them how to fish, now it's time to let 'em.  If they want it bad enough, they'll take up the gage.  If not, it's on them...
I do agree with Grim at B5, we knew this spate of violence would happen, the Iraqis knew it would happen.  We just have to give them some time to realize that they need to do things on their own but OUR WAY that has already been shown to be the ONLY right way of securing the country. 
Bill, I hope none of your students and their families were affected...
My Kurdish cadets lost friends in the bombings in Sleymani three weeks ago, but none of them have mentioned any friends or relatives being victims in this spate.

On a related note, the lower ranks in the police and the armed forces get it -- but the highest in the higher echelons seem to have reverted to the "Saddam days." As one of my newly-minted *First* Lieutenants said to me after class, "They fought the Iranians for ten years and did *nothing*. You guys kicked their asses out of Kuwait in a week and in 2003 you were in Baghdad in three days. Why can't they see which is the right way to fight?"

The younger ones get it. Those who live through the next five years are going to be running the show by then, and right now, my only concern is teaching them the things they'll need to know in order to do just that...
"Why can't they see which is the right way to fight?"

Because to fight that way, you have to empower the underlings.

Dictatorships and Oligarchies don't like that.
Tough stuff or 'Tough Love'? As I read, some things really stand out. @Bill B., you talk of teaching the Iraqis, how to fish. Is that our goal, if that's our only goal, we're not being very wise. We need to understand we are as much students as the Iraqis, about the whole regional mindset.

@AFSister, here, you remind me of the female bald eagle, the larger of the pair, height 3.5-4', wingspan 8'. She is also the deadlier of the pair. Now they build a nest called an eyrie, it can be in very large tree, mountain cliff or even a farmer built platform on a telephone pole. They mate for life and come back to the same nest every year and build it layer upon layer. The top layer will be a thin soft layer of sticks, with even down pulled by the female from her own body. She'll lay the egg, hatch it and raise it to maturity. Then comes the day when she's had *enough!* The youngster goes fishing,  the adults proceed  to tear off all of the soft parts of the nest. The leave it as the "nest of punji stakes". Do you call this a subtle suggestion?
Female bald eagle, eh?  I can live with that.

Here's the thing.
We did, as Bill put it, teach them to fish.  But the didn't learn what to do WITH the fish.  They kicked us out before we could teach them to clean, fillet, and cook their catch.  They're floundering as a result.  And it's not so much that we didn't teach them to clean, fillet and cook.... they just didn't pay close enough attention to those lessons.  Bill's observation is that the younger generation gets it, but the older generation does not.  I would tend to agree.  Unfortunately, unless the older ones listen and learn from the younger ones... things in Iraq will not improve for quite some time, and I'm not willing to let our guys and gals die waiting for that to happen.
AFSister, as I see it, your loyalty was not with the decision makers, but with the 'boots on the ground'. You write in your second sentence, "But they didn't learn what to do WITH the fish. They kicked us out before we could teach them to clean, fillet their catch." I would change it to, "But they wouldn't learn what to do WITH the fish."  This has nothing to do with ability or opportunity, but it was their choice NOT to learn. Why should they do it? Especially, since they have the Americans to do all the dirty work. The older ones refuse to learn because to them, it appears to a loss of 'face'. The younger one learns, therefore, grows in stature because he gets it. You seem to be keeping a watch on everything.
Good point, Grumpy.
They *wouldn't* learn what to do with the fish is correct from where I'm standing.  With relatives in both Iraq and Afghanistan with our military, yeah... I do keep watch.