So Iran are now the good guys?

June 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

has reportedly sent its Revolutionary Guard forces to fight al-Qaeda-inspired militants who are sweeping across .

The Wall Street Journal and the Times reported that two battalions of the Quds Forces, the elite overseas branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, that have long operated in Iraq, have come to the aid of the Shia-dominated Government.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Government last night remained in paralysis, unable to form a coherent response after militants blitzed and captured entire chunks of the nation’s Sunni heartland this week, including major cities, towns, military and police bases as Iraqi forces melted away or fled.

What’s that old saying – my enemy’s enemy is my friend. So true.

The new reality is the biggest threat to Iraq’s stability since the United States’ withdrawal at the end of 2011, and it has pushed the nation closer to a precipice that would partition it into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish zones.

That may not be the worst outcome – three separate countries. Can the Shia and Sunni sects live together now? Kurds are already autonomous. But actual separate countries could also be destabilising as Turkey would not want a Kurdistan as neigbours.

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114 Responses to “So Iran are now the good guys?”

  1. Harriet (4,798 comments) says:

    “…..That may not be the worst outcome – three separate countries….”

    The worst outcome is never ending civil war.

    But is that what you would say if the Christians and the Muslims wage a war here – and someone suggested the christians have the south and the Muslims the north?

    [DPF: I'm happy for the Christian Revolutonary Army to have Stewart Island]

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  2. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    What’s that old saying – my enemy’s enemy is my friend. So true.

    A saying used by warmongers to argue for allegiance with evil regimes.

    [DPF: So it was wrong for the Allies to fight with the USSR against Hitler by your reasoning?]

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  3. tas (612 comments) says:

    A loose federation of three states plus city-state Baghdad might be the best solution. Iraq’s borders were made up by Europeans after WWI and have no relation to religious and ethnic borders.

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  4. mudrunner (88 comments) says:

    Harriet, we have not been doing this for 2000 or so years here. Then we might be able to make a reasoned comment.

    This has come about by western attempts impose democracy as we under stand it on countries that are not ready for it in any way.

    Leave them alone and they may become democratic.

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  5. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    The Ottoman empire ruled the area as 3 provinces for a reason.

    The USA should have never deposed the Baath regime in Baghdad, they should have liberated the southern region of the Shia and the Kurdistan area only and enabled their self government. I supported that before the military intervention. The problem in Iraq was always going to be with Sunni being a minority under Shia rule in Iraq while in Syria the Sunni were a majority under a Baath Party rule of the Alawite Shia clan of Assad.

    If an increasingly Iran influenced Shia regime in Iraq is the alternative to an autonomous Kurdistan within Iraq (and an autonomous Sunni region), Turkey won’t have much of a problem. Some Shia militants in Iraq are claiming that Iran Iraq and Syria are united against Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the USA. The Kurds and Sunni in Iraq having a share of the Iraqi border with Turkey is for them the better option.

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  6. KathyS (17 comments) says:

    UglyTruth, so then by your reckoning it was bad for the western allies to join forces with the Soviet Union to beat Germany in WW2? Sometimes you have to take whatever allies you can get. Because the consequences of not doing so may be a lot worse… That doesn’t mean you’re a warmonger, or that you endorse the unpleasant regime’s methods. It means that you temporarily have common interests. It’s called the real world.

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  7. MT_Tinman (3,108 comments) says:

    mudrunner (84 comments) says:
    June 14th, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Leave them alone and they may become democratic.

    Why the hell would they want to become democratic?

    I wouldn’t wish Clarkula et al on anyone.

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  8. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    I think the whole affair more than a bit of a beat up. The ISIS took Mosul with only 800 fighters in which the local (Sunni) tribes can easily muster ten times that many if they wanted to. They only reason they didn’t (and that 30,000 government (shi’ia) troops replicated France in ’40) is because they don’t like the government. That has primarily two causes – the Syrian War and Maliki being an idiot (I don’t even blame Obama for not leaving behind any US troops).

    There’s noises being made about the ISIS marching on Baghdad. If the ISIS are serious in their declarations, they are only going to get themselves killed because there are a lot more Shi’ites willing to fight for Shi’ites in Baghdad than Shi’ites willing to fight for Sunni in Mosul.

    The Revolutionary Guard could retake Mosul with 300 men if they only had to fight the ISIS (the yankes would only need 30). But Iranian Troops fighting in Sunni Iraqi territory will cause the tribal militias to come to the side of the ISIS and probably won’t happen. The Kurds have plenty of troops and are Sunni and won’t pose as many problems. The big problem about using the Kurds is that if they retake Mosul, they’ll probably take it over as they have already done to Kirkuk and refuse to give it back.

    So the most likely sequence of events that I can see is that no march on Baghdad is made by the ISIS. Some minor skirmish between the ISIS and local Shi’ite troops with Revolutionary Guard help will get blown up in the local media as a heroic last stand against the Second Coming of Osama Bin Laden. The ISIS will eventually get destroyed in attrition against Shi’ite troops and pissed-off Sunni tribes. No serious attempt to retake Mosul, Tikrit or Falluja is ever made. Iraq will fall apart into three de facto states.

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  9. Fentex (923 comments) says:

    fight al-Qaeda-inspired militants

    The force in question is the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) aka Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been disowned by al-Qaeda because they, like many others, are horrified by it’s barbaric behaviour. al-Qaeda has it’s own ambitions, they are not the imposition of rule desired by ISIL.

    Juna Cole is a good source for information on this.

    ISIL has basically been driven from Syria by Assad, with Iranian help and in the face of hate by everyone who has met them and now is having success in poorly organized and ethnically divided Iraq.

    But the majority Sunni areas they are conquering aren’t going to like their rule much, they will find few friends and likely welcome Iranian help in removing them.

    Juan Cole has produced a map in this blogpost that demonstrates the situation. On the ground it looks more like Iraq as a state is a fantasy, as is Syria – there is Kurdistan, Iran and a Shiite client attached to Iran with a Sunni state between Iran and Assads Alawite state fighting a civil war over it’s organisation.

    With some particularly despicable characters in the ISIL on top at the moment and encouraging alliances against them.

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  10. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    ISIL has basically been driven from Syria by Assad, with Iranian help and in the face of hate by everyone who has met them and now is having success in poorly organized and ethnically divided Iraq.

    No, they have not. They control much of the northeast (the part that isn’t Kurdish). That’s largely sparsely populated desert and the Syrian government and the other rebels are busy fighting in the more densely populated west.

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  11. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    The USA should have never deposed the Baath regime in Baghdad, they should have liberated the southern region of the Shia and the Kurdistan area only and enabled their self government.

    The problem is that the Babghdad is a Shi’ite city (with large Sunni enclaves). So the reason for liberating the Sh’ia of the south must also apply to Baghdad, no? And it couldn’t have been done in the run up to 2003 because the Shi’ia already revolted back in the 90s and were crushed because the US had the mistaken belief that Saddam was too weak and would be overthrown soon and so did nothing. So the Shi’ites decided not to lift a finger this time around.

    If an increasingly Iran influenced Shia regime in Iraq is the alternative to an autonomous Kurdistan within Iraq (and an autonomous Sunni region), Turkey won’t have much of a problem.

    Kurdistan is already autonomous, I’d thought.

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  12. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    metcalf, but I.S.I.S. will not last long in Syria once the government defeats the opposition and moves onto them.

    In Iraq, as you note, they will not last long either.

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  13. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    metcalf, but taking Baghdad meant ending the regime, when leaving it intact enabled a continuing government over Sunni (to negotiate with).

    There is a difference between a weak Iraqi government (temporary) and a long term Kurdistan within Iraq on the Turkey border.

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  14. Ed Snack (1,839 comments) says:

    “The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. No more. No less”

    Maxim 29 of the seventy maxims of highly effective pirates (Howard Taylor, Schlock Mercenary). See also “A little trust goes a long way. The less you use the further you’ll go” (maxim 30).

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  15. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    Iraq’s borders were made up by Europeans after WWI and have no relation to religious and ethnic borders.

    That’s rather overblown. The main population centres are governed in roughly the same manner as they were done in Turkish times. The only extra bits are desert which nobody thought of claiming before.

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  16. Harriet (4,798 comments) says:

    “….Harriet, we have not been doing this for 2000 or so years here. Then we might be able to make a reasoned comment.

    This has come about by western attempts impose democracy as we under stand it on countries that are not ready for it in any way.

    Leave them alone and they may become democratic…….’

    They’ve been left alone -for the most part- for 2000 yrs – and haven’t got past the 7th century! – and you think democracy is sometime soon?

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  17. Fentex (923 comments) says:

    ISIL has basically been driven from Syria by Assad

    No, they have not. They control much of the northeast (the part that isn’t Kurdish).

    I misspoke, I meant they have been directed away from confronting Assads forces, attracted by ease of conquest further east

    If one thinks of the situation as described by Juan Cole that region once northeast Syria is now effectively part of a Sunni nation stretching from Assad’s entrenched Alawite state to Iraqs Shiite client of Iran (bordering a northern Kurdish state).

    I think the implication is that we’re going to witnessing shifting borders and bubbling creation/destruction of states within the Sunni nation for some time as opportunities and threats shape alliances around it.

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  18. kowtow (8,208 comments) says:

    ISIL were declaring “onto Karbala”.

    That if nothing else was a clear provocation that they would destroy the Shia.(As they are doing behind the lines)

    Personally if I reckon if Iran invaded and killed every last ISIL/ISIS member and then withdrew ,they’d be doing the west a huge favour.

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  19. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    metcalf, but I.S.I.S. will not last long in Syria once the government defeats the opposition and moves onto them.

    As the Spartans once responded to Philip of Macedon “If”.

    The ISIS have not been largely run out of Syria as you claimed. They could be run out by any victorious side but that doesn’t look like it’s happening anything soon.

    I know there’s been a great song and dance about how the government is winning the war but I have seen little evidence for it. People are making a great thing about the “barrel-bombs” but all that indicates is that the Syrian government has run out of conventional munitions. Does that seriously sound like impending victory to you?

    A better analysis of the Syrian War would be the recent presidential elections. Assad was throwing troops around to encourage his supporters into thinking that the government was winning the war (and thus avoid any significant protest voting at the election). But now that he has another seven years on his term, the Syrian army can stop running itself ragged and a stalemate will set in.

    The most significant change in the Syrian War has been Putin’s annexation of the Crimea. That’s focussed his attention away from Syria and towards the Ukraine. Compounding this is the recent fiasco in Iraq. Iran and Iraq which were solid supporters of Syria now have more important things to worry about. All three countries (well, two countries and a rump of a third) will still support Syria but they won’t be able to do so as much as they were before. That’s going to hurt Assad.

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  20. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    Fentex, longer term that is more a case of Syria (once it has Sunni government) and Iraqi (Shia government) borders being in play. And whether Turkey and Iran get involved.

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  21. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    That if nothing else was a clear provocation that they would destroy the Shia.(As they are doing behind the lines)

    The ISIS can say whatever it likes about Karbala. The fact is they don’t have the troops. As somebody else said, if ISI marched on Karbala, you would only need one hand to count the Shi’ite Deserters.

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  22. altiora (253 comments) says:

    To think Iran will do anything but advance its own agenda is silly. This intervention will just exacerbate tensions. A reason for the current situation in the Sunni areas is that Sunni’s a suspicious of the Shiite powers in Baghdad. I understand it is not uncommon for Iraq state posts, offices etc to be decked out in Shiite symbols and flags, and Baghdad has done nothing to prevent the country from being riven along sectarian lines. Think the resulting conflict will be akin to Northern Ireland during the Times of Trouble, except on a massive scale. Prepare for more innocent people being slaughtered and beheaded etc.

    Again, I ask myself why the hell did the USA need to overthrow Saddam Hussein? A tyrant yes he was, but for the majority of Iraqi’s he brought stability and, for women in particular, Iraq was previously comparatively progressive for them.

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  23. cha (3,935 comments) says:

    Via Eliot Higgins.

    http://www.aymennjawad.org/14350/comprehensive-reference-guide-to-sunni-militant

    http://www.aymennjawad.org/blog/

    https://twitter.com/ajaltamimi

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  24. TM (99 comments) says:

    Iran is starting to look stable and moderate compared to the rest of the countries in the middle east. Although the proxy war between Iran vs Saudis et al is one of the reasons things are so fucked up.

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  25. Psycho Milt (2,406 comments) says:

    [DPF: So it was wrong for the Allies to fight with the USSR against Hitler by your reasoning?]

    It was wrong for the Allies to help the USSR against Hitler full stop. In doing so they helped impose totalitarian slavery on central and eastern Europe, which supposedly the whole point of going to war was to prevent. The fact is that your enemy’s enemy is not your friend, as the Americans found out for a second time when they helped mujahedin fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Let’s hope they don’t go for third time lucky.

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  26. Paulus (2,603 comments) says:

    Stand back and look more broadly.
    I smell the hands of Saudi Arabia who control ultimately everything that happens in these countries.
    They finance most off the rebellions whilst getting other people like Russia and Iran to front this foment.
    Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Service is considered one of the most dangerous men on the planet today. He has counselled presidents and kings, militants and terrorists, and has unlimited resources at his disposal which means that his words are all to ready translated into deeds. The regime he serves stands high among the world’s most reactionary and corrupt.
    One day Saudi will explode – currently it is highly and corruptly held by a self centred large family regime, still strongly supported by the west actually.

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  27. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    so I wondered why the US did not black list the football world cup because Iran had a team playing.

    Then I realised the US and White House probably have no idea there is a world cup occuring at this time.

    They have no idea who the US Eagles are. Their national rugby team. The only world sport they know is the baseball world series. Only played by US teams inside America. So we have a huge comedic opportunity for a skit detailing White House staff informing Obama the US is playing sport with Iran.

    The ideological ignorance should be hilarious. Surely the Brits have seen this gem!

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  28. backster (2,142 comments) says:

    “Sunni, Shia and Kurdish zones.”………..Who gets the oil zone.?

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  29. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    “[DPF: I'm happy for the Christian Revolutonary Army to have Stewart Island]”

    I’ll join the bastards if it means I can still hunt Whitetail and poach Oyster Cove out of season! :)

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  30. Jack5 (5,014 comments) says:

    DPF in a footnote to Harriet at 11.11:

    I’m happy for the Christian Revolutonary Army to have Stewart Island..

    Some of us with far southern links would be happier if this Christian Revolting Army (well it’s not the Sallies) had Wellington with its politics-obsessed latte sippers.

    Stewart Island and the Chathams are perhaps the last remnants of the old New Zealand. Long may they be free of religious enthusiasm.

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  31. adze (2,093 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt:

    It was wrong for the Allies to help the USSR against Hitler full stop.

    :| Since we’re indulging in counterfactuals from the comfort of our middle class armchairs: If anything, it tells us that violent revolutions rarely end well, and destroying nations is far easier than rebuilding them.

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  32. cha (3,935 comments) says:

    Just going to drop this here…

    Last American combat troops leave Iraq. I think President George W. Bush deserves some credit for victory.

    https://twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain/statuses/21547931717

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  33. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    When dealing with Islamists of various hues, you can’t divide them into good guys and bad guys. The division is between very bad guys and just plain bad guys.
    Both the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces and al-Qaeda detest Christianity (ie will kill converts to Chritianity without mercy) and both have a pathological hatred of Jews.
    The West now faces the reverse of the problem in Iraq as it faces in Syria. In Syria it’s, do you you support al-Qaeda aligned rebels to remove an unfriendly dictator and in Iraq its, are we now friends with the Iranians as they support a friendly government against al-Qaeda.
    Sadly the are all bad, we just have to decide who’s the badest!
    In Egypt the West swallowed hard and reverted to good old “Kissingerial Realism” and winked as a friendly dictatorship disposed of an unfriendly elected Islamic governemnt.
    Sadly democracy doesn’t work in Islamic countries and the best the West can hope for in any such country is to be able to use their influence to modify the excesses of a friendly bad guy!

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  34. Scott1 (513 comments) says:

    Bad despots bet anarchy, because bad despots still have interests in the country functioning – which means making money, having a functioning medical system, having functioning law and order, being able to deal with other states on some level etc.

    People think it is bad to live in a state like North Korea – but if the alternative is Somalia, then it isn’t that bad…

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  35. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    All of these Jigaboo countries were in a far better state for the common people when they were ran by a west friendly dictatorship. It all turned to shit when the silly Yanks gave them ideas of freedom and democracy! :)

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  36. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    To be fair Johnboy, Saddam had to be taken out. He was invading friendly nations and threatening Israel. But it may have been a little cheaper to replace him with a friendly tyrant. Seems to work in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Totally undemocratic but at least the citizens can get on with their lives with out constant war.

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  37. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    I sometimes wonder, Dead Earnest, how the Vietnam conflict would have resolved itself if we had poured all the billions it cost in armaments into modern infrastructure and western toys for all the little Cong to get excited over?

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  38. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Well Ho Chi Minh did originally hope for help from America in his struggle agasint the French.

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  39. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    Hard to say Johnboy, but I guess in nobodies wildest imagination in 1970, would they have dreamt that by 2014 Vietman would be one of Americas staunchest allies in South East Asia.

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  40. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Quite so milkey. I suspect the Yanks had some sort of stupid hang-up on the useless frogs because of the war of independance etc. After all they let the useless coward De Gaulle march into Paris first! :)

    16-0 to Wainui at William Jones! :)

    10-8 to Petone at Hutt rec.!!!!!!! :)

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  41. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Fronting up to America’s biggest creditor in the South China sea as well DE! :)

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  42. frankflintstone (68 comments) says:

    My enemies enemy is my friend, unfortunately he is his own worst enemy and likes to keep his friends close and his enemies even closer

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  43. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    Geo-politics is always messy and Western nations with civilised values have to make at time hard choices.

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  44. All_on_Red (1,559 comments) says:

    Johnboy
    The US would have won the Vietnam war easily is they just bombed the shit out of Haiphong Harbour and Hanoi. And kept on bombing it until it was flattened. Cut off the head of the snake and it can’t eat or move. By this I mean no supplies would have got through.
    Btw, two of my 8 yo sons best friends are Vietnamese and Chinese- go figure!

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  45. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    Iraq was friendly in it’s war with Iran, and enemy in invading Kuwait, a friend again with an American installed government, but looks like it might be about to head into unfriendly territory again.
    The best the West can do is accelerate it’s fracking programs, so we don’t have to rely on this tumultuous part of the world for our energy supplies.

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  46. stephieboy (2,707 comments) says:

    All_on_Red,

    General Le May’s Bomb em back to the stone age, eh.!

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  47. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Nonsense All on Red

    They should have just set up McDonalds/KFC and built a Disneyland and the war would have been over before it started! :)

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  48. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Curtis is one of my idols stephieboy! :)

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  49. All_on_Red (1,559 comments) says:

    Stephie
    Nothing like a good carpet bomb run from 60 B 52s. If you want to win, don’t fuck around and call it a ” police action”, get in there and do it properly. It probably would have saved thousands of US and Vietnamese lives if they had.
    Note the way the Viets ran to the negotiating table the first time they bombed Hanoi…

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  50. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    A B52 with a full load of B61’s in the bomb bay would have settled it to Curtis’s satisfaction All on Red! :)

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  51. All_on_Red (1,559 comments) says:

    He retired before Vietnam too I think. Still he left them with the tools to do it. Didn’t those B52 s fly for 30 odd years? They could carry heaps

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  52. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    50 years as of 2005………expected to carry on till 2040 with up grades AoR! :)

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  53. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Do you think that there’s any one piece of those aircraft that is over 50 years old?

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  54. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Probably the handle on the shithouse that always sticks into the crews back milkey! :)

    Glorious victory to HOB(M)! Francis is obviously with you. :)

    Can’t believe we conceded a draw to fuckin Tawa!!!!!!!!!!

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  55. G152 (280 comments) says:

    Do you think that there’s any one piece of those aircraft that is over 50 years old?

    The registration plate

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  56. stephieboy (2,707 comments) says:

    All on Red & johnboy , I would say the Cuban missile crises would of ended very definitely with you and Le may in charge. The world today would just be coming out of a Nuclear Winter with only primitive life forms surviving.
    Carpet bombing is not an option nor solution. Maybe you two can find a 3D vid game with a 98 ” screen where you can work through your crazy fantasies.
    The situation in Iraq is indeed complex and a real conundrum . But one example is that an independent Kurd state would be unacceptable to Turkey and probably Iran too. Given it’s oil concessions’ Iraq I wonder how China is viewing this. ? Deep alarm I would say.Israel’s position would also be interesting but they do have a good grasp of the historical and present significance of Shia vs Sunni factionalism in ME geo politics and I believe they would feel it best to stay out.
    We as well.!

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  57. Fletch (6,258 comments) says:

    Obama has pretty much been proved wrong on all the arguments he made to Romney during the last election.

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  58. stephieboy (2,707 comments) says:

    Fletch, do you seriously believe the cold war should be charged up again.?
    How is a reoccupation of iraq going to be paid for.?
    More tex cuts.?
    And this time around how long should they stay.?
    10,20,30 years.?

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  59. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    “All on Red & johnboy , I would say the Cuban missile crises would of ended very definitely with you and Le may in charge.”

    Course it would have steph. I’d have gone into partnership with Fidel and marketed his cigars and rum as premium items around the world. The Cuban folk would be richer than the Swiss per capita and they would be setting the trend for the design of new vehicles rather than re-powering their 50’s Chevvies with japper running gear! :)

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  60. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Besides. It was Curtis LeMay: :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_LeMay

    He was sort of like the US equivalent of this chap:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Arthur_Harris,_1st_Baronet

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  61. Fletch (6,258 comments) says:

    stephie, it could have been prevented.
    Hillary Clinton had this big thing about a “reset” with Russia. Obama infamously told Putin he’d have “more flexibility” after the election – to do what? Russia is exactly the threat that Romney suggested and that Obama made fun of. Look at the Crimea/Ukraine. Russia has always been a geopolitical threat – nothing to be “charged up”.

    As for Iraq, the U.S should never have withdrawn troops. Obama just did that to save political face after he promised to pull them out. The U.S still has troops in the Balkans, Germany, and Japan after conflicts there, and that has worked out very well.

    I’m sorry, but Obama doesn’t know WTF he is doing – never did. His foreign policy has been a complete disaster. Look at Libya, Egypt, Iran (which is close to having a nuclear weapon).

    The man is a complete failure.

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  62. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt said:

    [DPF: So it was wrong for the Allies to fight with the USSR against Hitler by your reasoning?]

    It was wrong for the Allies to help the USSR against Hitler full stop. In doing so they helped impose totalitarian slavery on central and eastern Europe, which supposedly the whole point of going to war was to prevent. The fact is that your enemy’s enemy is not your friend, as the Americans found out for a second time when they helped mujahedin fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Let’s hope they don’t go for third time lucky.

    I will second Psycho Milt here. I am of Polish descent and have read quite a bit about the Polish point of view on that history. If the Allies did not help the Soviet Union when they were attacked by Nazi Germany in 1941, then I may never have been born. However, many Poles believed back then that a far better outcome to WW2 would have been if the Nazis and the Soviets destroyed each other, leaving the Allies to finish them both off.

    I also think it’s better to let your enemies destroy each other. Helping an enemy just because he is an enemy of your enemy risks strengthening your initial enemy who is then able to turn his attention back to you. Far better to just let them at each other and wait to see what happens.

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  63. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    Isnt the more important question, are the US really the “good guys”?

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  64. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    With Iraq, the Americans should have invaded and stayed there. Set Iraq colony, take the proceeds from the oil to pay for everything, and civilise the place. Far better than invade and withdraw and hope for the best.

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  65. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    Alan,

    Yes, they are the good guys, as they aren’t ruthless enough.

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  66. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Gee Lucia you Polish folk are almost as evil as Croatian/Serbian/Herzegovinian/Albanian/Greek/Turkish/Kurdish/etc. folk! :)

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  67. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    Johnboy, when we play, we play to win.

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  68. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Did you tell that to the Jew’s when the sonderdienst came for them Lucia?

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  69. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    How is your Mum?

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  70. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    Poland plays to win but never does. No World Cups, and as its national history reads like a roast carved up by Prussia, Austria-Hungary and Russia. No Pole has won anything since Sobieski was given the keys to Vienna, because while a Pole at least he was not a Moslem.

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  71. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘DPF: I’m happy for the Christian Revolutonary Army to have Stewart Island]’

    I thought that was part of the secessionist state proclaimed by the New Munster Party? http://readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2010/10/new-munster-redux.html
    Are the NMP still around in the deep south?

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  72. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    Did you tell that to the Jew’s when the sonderdienst came for them Lucia?</blockquote?

    I hope I'd be one of those that would risk the lives of my entire family and make sure the sonderdienst didn't find them, but then you never know until you are in that situation.

    My Mum is back at home and mobile. Has been hospitalised for heart issues last month (she was there on Mother's Day), but is as well as can be right now. Thankfully.

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  73. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    SPC,

    Most Poles who played to win were exiled or killed. I’m descended from the exiles, some whom were killed as well.

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  74. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    Lucia, this is what happens when surrounded by wild beasts.

    But no good can come from imposing the order of the western beast to bring civilisation.

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  75. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Where were you exiled to Lucia?

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  76. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    I wasn’t exiled to anywhere, Johnboy.

    SPC, true. Overwhelming force will get most.

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  77. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    The same motivation that led Sobieski to defend Vienna, is why the West cannot impose civilisation on the ME – because it would motivate the Arab or the Moslem to work to resist the foreign presence.

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  78. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    SPC,

    But no good can come from imposing the order of the western beast to bring civilisation.

    I disagree. It either has to be done completely or not at all. The Americans were hoping that just bringing a dictator and training the Iraqis would be enough. That was never going to be enough, anyone who has any understanding of history would know that. The invasion was pointless without colonisation. I personally was against the invasion at the time – as was JPII – however it happened. It’ll go down in history as a huge waste of time and resources. It could have been better if the Americans had just stayed, but they didn’t have the will for it.

    Was it Yoda that said, there is no try, there is only do or not do? I like that. You either do something completely, or you don’t bother.

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  79. Lucia Maria (2,282 comments) says:

    SPC.

    The same motivation that led Sobieski to defend Vienna, is why the West cannot impose civilisation on the ME – because it would motivate the Arab or the Moslem to work to resist the foreign presence.

    I think they are going to do that anyway. You either keep them busy with overwhelming force or we are kept busy because they see us as weak.

    They don’t think like us. They believe that if they are winning, it’s God’s will that they do so, and if they are losing, it’s God’s will as well. They have no concept that humans can actually influence events.

    It’s really important to understand that, and use that against them.

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  80. stephieboy (2,707 comments) says:

    Fletch (5,871 comments) says:
    June 14th, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Could be prevented. ? Maybe if the US never went there in the first place.? I don think you have an appreciation of the complexity of the problem in Iraq and nor do you and your Tea Party confederates understand the nuances of Shia vs Sunni factionalism and its affect on the ME. The Israelis do and do you think they are eager to try and sought it out .? Of course not.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronald-tiersky/isis-what-does-it-mean-fo_b_5489756.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

    Were you aware that Israel allied itself with iran against Iraq in their war. ?
    You and Sarah Palin want US troops back there. ? As long as it takes.? How will it be payed for and how many more of the 4,000 lives already lost lost there.
    These are the questions you easily and conveniently ignore !

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  81. Fletch (6,258 comments) says:

    stephie, as I said, the U.S already has a permanent presence in the Balkans, Japan, Germany, and the Korean Peninsula after conflicts in those places, and it has worked out very well. I guess it all depends on what you consider a “cost”. The monetary cost in having a presence there long term, or the cost of lives in going to war when those countries threaten world peace. I agree that there is a fine line.

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  82. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    Fletch, the forces in Germany are part of NATO, not an occupation force with any relationship to German governance. The force in South Korea is there because there is still no peace with North Korea. But it has nothing to do with South Koreas internal governance. The force in Japan is there because Japan renounced militarism, and thus is/was reliant on the USA to maintain security in the wider region – South Korea and Taiwan. But has nothing to do with internal governance.

    The only case of permanent presence to manage the facts on the ground is in the West Bank of Palestine.

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  83. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday the deteriorating conditions in Iraq could have “global consequences.”

    Clinton said during an event for her new book, Hard Choices, that it was important that Iraq’s prime minister be presented with a set of conditions for any discussion about military support against a fast-moving Islamic insurgency.

    “That’s a delicate and difficult task for our government because we certainly don’t want to fight their fight,” Clinton said. “Because you’d be fighting for a dysfunctional, unrepresentative, authoritarian government and there’s no reason on earth that I know of that we would ever sacrifice a single American life for that.”

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  84. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    US President Barack Obama has said he will take several days to decide what action to take over Iraq, but that no US troops will be deployed there.

    Any US involvement “has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences”, he said. Mr Obama told reporters that ISIS represented a danger not just to Iraq and its people but that “it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well”. Barack Obama: “The US will do our part, but understand that ultimately it is up to the Iraqis as a sovereign nation to solve their problems.”

    He said Iraq needed additional support to “break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces”.

    Analysis, Mark Mardell, BBC North America editor
    This was not the swift deployment of military force that some critics in Washington want. But it was a tough-minded, even impatient, statement of the president’s approach – as he put it at West Point: “Because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.”

    He said American sacrifices had given Iraqis the chance to claim their future – but they, or their leaders. hadn’t seized it. He almost mocked the Iraqi army for running away, castigated the Government for not trying hard enough to overcome the sectarian divide and made it clear that the US would not be “dragged in” to a return to Iraq.

    There’s a world view behind this statement that some Americans and others in the West may find uncomfortable – that US military might, as great as it is, cannot impose solutions on a complex world – behind his words the strong feeling that changing Iraq by force has already been given more than a chance. It failed. And it mustn’t be repeated.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27844200

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  85. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    … not an occupation force with any relationship to German governance.

    A strawman argument worthy of Obama himself. The Status of Forces agreement that was supposed to have been negotiated with the Iraqi government in 2011 would have had no more formal relationship with Iraqi governance than US forces in Korean, German and Japanese bases have with the governance of those countries. But the emphasis is on the word “formal”.

    What it would have done was perform exactly the same function as in those other countries; providing both a real and psychological support to all the political actors in the country over a period of years while things settled out between them. Having US troops there, even if only 10,000 or so, would have planted in the mind of every Iraqi politician, and the people themselves, the thought that the US would be able to help them survive external threats from across their borders, combined with the thought that going extremist on one’s local political “enemies” would cause abandonment to a civil war that nobody could be confident of winning.

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  86. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    And you blame Obama for pulling out completely?

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  87. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    Yes

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  88. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    You don’t think the Iraqi government had anything to do with that?

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  89. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    No

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  90. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I’m sure you will correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the US pull out of negotiations for a new SOFA because of Iraqi objections to immunity provisions?

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  91. cha (3,935 comments) says:

    From the U.S.-Iraq Troop Agreement negotiated by the Bush whitehouse and signed on November 17, 2008:

    Article 24

    Withdrawal of American Forces from Iraq

    Admitting to the performance of Iraqi forces, their increased capabilities and assuming full responsibility for security and based upon the strong relationship between the two parties the two parties agreed to the following:

    All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, water and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.

    All U.S. combat forces are to withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages, and towns not later than the date that Iraqi forces assume complete responsibility of security in any Iraqi province. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from the above-mentioned places is on a date no later than the 30 June 2009. The withdrawing U.S. forces mentioned in item (2) above are to gather in the installations and areas agreed upon that are located outside of cities, villages and towns that will be determined by the Joint Military Operation Coordinating Committee (JMOCC) before the date determined in item (2) above.

    The United States admits to the sovereign right of the Iraqi government to demand the departure of the U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime. The Iraqi government admits to the sovereign right of the United States to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2008/11/18/56116/unofficial-translation-of-us-iraq.html

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  92. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    I’m sure that since it’s Sunday and there’s no excuse for sticking to one paragraph questions because work beckons, that you will be willing to back that argument both with your own explanatory words together with some links – hopefully not just to Slate.

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  93. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, water and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.

    You’ll be glad to know that in the spirit of bipartiship I certainly blame Bush for putting such a deadline into an agreement. I assume he did not feel he had the right to tie the hands of a new US administration or future Iraqi governments, who would surely want to re-negotiate any such agreement.

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  94. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    tom hunter, the presence of American troops in the ME is problematic. None of the Arab, Iranian or the American people wanted this. Nor did the Iraqi government or people want it.

    Consent is everything.

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  95. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    Consent is everything.

    Consent in a police state is oxymoronic. But I do recall rather a lot of Kurdish and Southern Shiite’s complaining loud and long in the early 1990’s to anybody who would listen that they needed help to get rid of Saddam and should have had it from the US. I recall that a great many journalists produced hand-wringing pieces lamenting what had been lost in leaving Saddam in place. I recall especially that “abandonment” was an ethical and moral drumbeat throughout the 1990’s aimed at the callous, realpolitik of Bush 41.

    I agreed.

    But now the best they can expect will be an Obama drone up their ass occasionally, something that – again in the spirit of bipartisanship – I will fully support. I would also support a solid strafing run from US fighter-bombers on a few of those ragtag truck convoys trundling the roads south to Baghdad (I assume there are at least a couple of US aircraft carriers within range), but that seems unlikely.

    With regard to the GOP you need not be concerned. Aside from McCain and a handful of others the GOP is not really wanting to do anything now to help the Iraqis or anybody in the ME aside from Israel. The message you’re repeating has actually been heard loud and clear by GOP voters (including it would seem, the majority of Iraq veterans), more than the politicians, and was demonstrated most clearly during the debate about the Syrian “Redline” nonsense.

    The ME is on its own.

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  96. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Yes, the Iraqi government made it clear they wanted the US out completely. Fairly understandable too. I don’t think the US will be willy nilly invading anywhere for quite some time.
    The Middle East is not on its own, however. I’m sure the US wijll be tied to :Israel for the foreseeable.

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  97. SPC (5,563 comments) says:

    If GHWB’s and Clinton’s resistance to removal of the Baghdad regime was because of the difficulty in owning occupation afterwards – they have been proven right. The Kurds and southern Shia in asking for the removal of the regime asked the wrong question, they should have asked for protection from the regime via autonomous self government – in return for end of economic sanctions.

    The current problem is not the delusional caliphate agenda (something only possible if the opposition had won power in Damascus first and then tried to incorporate northern Lebanon and NW Iraq into their state), it is that Iraq is not a functional state as the Shia government has no legitimacy with Sunni, and many Shia groups independent of the state along the lines of Hezbollah in Lebanon now exist and belief in a region wide war between Sunni (Saudi/Turkey/USA) and Shia (Iran/Iraq/Syria).

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  98. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    Yes, the Iraqi government made it clear they wanted the US out completely.

    Actually they prevaricated. But in any case they changed their minds in just two years: NYT, Nov 1, 2013: As Security Deteriorates at Home, Iraqi Leader Arrives in U.S. Seeking Aid

    It’s pretty much a preview of what’s happening now.

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  99. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Seeking military aid might be a little different from being willing to accept a continued, or resumed, occupation.

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  100. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    If GHWB’s and Clinton’s resistance to removal of the Baghdad regime was because of the difficulty in owning occupation afterwards – they have been proven right

    Yes they have, but I’m just as interested in the moral and ethical tub thumping involved, including the fact that the cold-blooded real politik of Bush 41 was sneered at – as opposed to the Iraq Liberation Act signed by Clinton, that was presumably never intended to be acted upon.

    … from being willing to accept a continued, or resumed, occupation.

    Well this is where hysterical language can catch up with you. It could have been argued that 10,000 US troops scattered across a county the size of Iraq hardly amounted to an occupation. Besides that, the fact is that military aid does not do a lot of good when the people it’s aiding simply drop the weapons and run away.

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  101. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    It’s how it would have been perceived by the Iraqi people and government that presumably counted the most.

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  102. stephieboy (2,707 comments) says:

    Note how Fox News uses deception in laying blame for the current Iraqi Crises on the Obama admistration .In their”fairy tale ” time line of events leading up to the invasion and up to present they conveniently miss six crucial years including the fact of handing of sovereignty to the Iraq government in 2004 , Rumsfipelds resignation over the handling of the war, Torture of POWs etc,etc

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/06/12/fox-news-fairytale-timeline-of-the-iraq-war/199704

    This really makes Fox into a Propoganda organ of the far right deploying techniques not that different from Joesph Goebbels to ensare the naive and gullible.

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  103. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    I suggest you read The Endgame, mikenmild.

    Perceptions vary and when they’re that of “the people” in the ME they often don’t amount to much outside of screaming, media-targeted protests. As the book notes, behind the scenes various leading members of the Iraqi government felt that an agreement was doable.

    But that comment goes to the heart of why Obama let this happen. First, he’s as incompetent at negotiation abroad as he is at home, even with his own party. Secondly, as a guy who’d made his opposition to the war a centrepiece of his candidacy in 2008, he wanted a clean break so that he would not have to face being beaten up by his own ideological and political comrades as the President who had not ended the Iraq war as promised because there were a few thousand US troops left in the country. That was the “perception” that really counted and he was not willing to fight it.

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  104. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    You really think that Obama could magically have overcome the Iraqi opposition to granting US forces’ immunity?

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  105. stephieboy (2,707 comments) says:

    Tom hunter ,Obama’s major contribution to the Iraq war from 2003 was to disengage from their in the first place following moreorless GWB’s planned withdrawal timeline.
    One thing he understood is that you can’t pay for foreign wars through tax cuts and using a ” credit card ” which is how the war was in fact paid for.
    I would be interested to see what the GOP specifically propose and if military intervention is deemed necessary how will it be paid for and how long a deployment.?
    More tax cuts and more borrowing.?

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  106. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    @mikenmild

    Why not just provide your link that hammers that point to the exclusion of all others. One could just as easily focus on Obama’s unrealistic demand to Prime Minister Maliki that the Iraqi parliament had to ratify whatever agreement was reached, despite the fact that Maliki had requested an executive agreement that would not be subject to legislative approval. He repeated that offer several times and the lead U.S. negotiator, Brett McGurk, also recommended taking that approach. But Obama would not budge: perhaps he was expecting something magical to happen.

    Better yet, read The Endgame (I’ve given you the UK Book Depository link)

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  107. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I tend to incline to this view from the despised Slate:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/06/iraq_sunnis_and_shiites_the_u_s_should_never_have_withdrawn_its_troops_in.html

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  108. cha (3,935 comments) says:

    But Obama would not budge: perhaps he was expecting something magical to happen.

    Yeah, it’s almost like he has something against involvement in an endless war with no chance of victory.

    Oh, and Maliki huh…

    https://twitter.com/mutludc/status/477782254857768960/photo/1

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  109. stephieboy (2,707 comments) says:

    No worries things are underway.The Maliki government are beginning to Marshall their forces and already beginning to repulse the ISIS insurgents.Thousands of Shia volunteers are wanting to contribute.US aircraft carries are now deployed in the Arabian gulf .Iranian militias are at the ready.
    Now Tom hunter what does the GOP,the Tea Party and you think of the alliance that is shaping up between Maliki,Iran and the US. ?

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  110. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    @stephieboy
    Loath as I am to engage with your idiocy – the almost bottomless obsession with Fox News and off-topic subjects such as tax cuts vs. borrowing vs. war spending, plus the constant misuse of “there” / “their” – let me point out that simply carrying out the plans of the previous President hardly counts as a “major” contribution.

    Still, I will count your acknowledgement that Obama’s ballyhooed withdrawal was simply Bush’s plan as at least a reciprocal nod towards bipartisanship.

    In that spirit allow me to point out that in the midst of a crisis one does not run to the opposition demanding to know what they would do, building huge straw men to burn down, and turning one’s back on the guy who’s actually in charge. In any case I’ve already pointed out the thing that your calcified partisan brain refuses to accept – that aside from McCain and a few others the GOP, especially the GOP voters – want nothing more to with Iraq than the average Democrat voter, any more than they did with Syria. As your favourite bete noir, Sarah Palin, said at the time: Let Allah sort them out. Real war-monger that one!

    I suggest you toddle back to GD as I’m sure UglyTruth is gagging for an argument over Common Law or micronukes and you’ve proven to be a willing participant in the idiocy.

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  111. stephieboy (2,707 comments) says:

    tom hunter, your incoherent babble asiside, things are shaping up rather better as I outlined above with ISIS now been stalled and repulsed by tje Iraqi goverememt forces and volunteers and the US Carriers on the ready in the Gulf etc.
    Guess who Israel allied itself with during the Iraqi Iranian conflict .?
    My enemies enemy is my friend.?

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  112. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    … things are shaping up rather better as I outlined above …

    You mean as you pulled out of your rectum above. Supporting links are needed given your history of less than accurate assertions – preferably more than the basic “this-just-happened” reporting that I’ve already seen. Meanwhile Baghdad Bob lives, heh, heh, heh.

    As far as US carriers are concerned let’s hope it’s not this one. As I already wrote – and I’m sure you did not read it – I’d love to think that planes from those carriers will soon be swooping down on the ISIL/ISIS assholes, but after the Syrian debacle I doubt Obama’s going to be that decisive.

    As far as the Iranian-Maliki thing is concerned that’s been cooking for years now. Iraq refused to enforce international economic sanctions on Iran. They refused to support the position of the U.S., Britain, France, the United Nations, and almost all of its Arab neighbors in opposing the Assad regime. In fact Iran is using Iraqi airspace and ground lines of communication to send military supplies and trainers to support Assad. Maliki has also vocally supported the Iranian-backed revolutionaries in Bahrain — a key American ally.

    All of which shows how bad of a corner Obama has got himself into that he would be relying on “allies” of this quality and mendaciousness. Supporting Stalin against the Nazi’s was an easy decision by comparison.

    Meanwhile the Israeli angle does not count nowadays. They feared Saddam because he had his shit together more than a ramshackle regime like Iran’s. A bunch of terrorists who control a couple of small cities and large chunks of desert does not yet count. As far as I can see they’re holding off to see who prevails, after which they’ll point their guns at the strongest survivor who’s a threat to them.

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  113. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    ‘All of which shows how bad of a corner Obama has got himself into that he would be relying on “allies” of this quality and mendaciousness.’
    You either think Obama chose the Iraqi government or, even worse, you think he should have chosen it.

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  114. tom hunter (4,711 comments) says:

    Thank god you’ve arrived mikenmild! I thought I’d be trapped in here with Stephieboy!

    Anyhoo, the essence of being a leader is dealing with shit you did not choose. But that does not mean abandoning all possibility of real influence and in his eagerness to run for the exits whilst trumpeting his success -Al Qaeda’s on the path to defeat, the war in Iraq is over” – that’s exactly what Obama did. That’s the corner he’s got himself into and constantly blaming Bush is not going to get him out of it.

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