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Old 02-24-2011   #1
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Default Did we 'win' in Iraq?

Forgive me if this is being discussed elsewhere, but I did a search and couldn't find the relevant thread if it is.

I guess I should preface by stating that I get the good majority of my information about the war fronts from the mainstream media and that info that I get from the non-mainstream media centers primarily on Af-Pak.

My assumption, and I concede that it is innately flawed (but its all I got), is that the more I read about the conflict--whether it be Iraq or Afghanistan--the worse it is going and the less I read about it the more swimmingly.

In my local paper I can't remember the last time Iraq was on the front page (its been a while for Afghanistan as well), but they usually have a couple inches dedicated to 'The War Fronts.' Even in these few inches, I can't remember the last time I have read anything, good or bad, about Iraq. The documentary makers seem to be shifting their focus as well.

My understanding is that the political process is taking hold (I think the last time I read anything about Iraq was when the media noticed that Sadr had returned to Iraq, ostensibly to participate in the democratic process), violence is down and continuing to fall and the 'surge'/Petrean COIN strategy has been exported to Afghanistan after accomplishing its mission along with US combat troops.

I know it will take decades to really understand what the outcome of the Iraq war has been, but am I wrong to believe that Iraq is on an upward trajectory to becoming the 'beacon of democracy in the Middle East?'
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Old 02-24-2011   #2
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Default We won in 2003

We then proceeded to fumble away the victory and (according to your political viewpoint) add additional objectives or reveal our ulterior motives.

The real question is this: has the last eight years produced an Iraq better or worse (from the standpoint of our national interests) than it would have been if we had pulled out immediately after deposing Saddam Hussein? That I can't answer. I will say that conditions in Iraq today are better than they were in, say, 2005 or 2006. My opinion is that the country has a brighter future than most countries in the region, but it is likely to be a long and painful slog.
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Old 02-25-2011   #3
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By what standard does one measure victory?

1. The rationale given at the time of the invasion, of WMD?

2. By an assessment of cost/benefit headway in the GWOT to the cost of OIF operation?

3. In terms of defeating the Iraqi military and overthrowing the Saddam regime?

4. In terms of creating a stable democracy?

5. In terms of the long-term geo-politics of the region, and the need for a buffer between Iran - Turkey - Arabian Pen?

I'd put a finer point on the question, and even then it will depend on who one asks. The real answer probably won't be known for another 10-15 years. The Middle East will be a very different place then, and the operations in Iraq will have played a role in shaping whatever that different ME looks like.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-25-2011   #4
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Default Flurishing or sputtering democracy?

Having returned from Iraq in November 2010, I would argue that Iraq becoming a "beacon of democracy in the middle east" is a bit idealistic. First I would point out that the last election was very contested and despite losing the popular vote, president Maliki remains in power. Second, I would remind you that there are deep divisions inside Iraq and the probability of renewed sectarian violence is just around the corner.

As U.S. forces complete the draw down, Iraq will be left resoncible for ensuring security. Having trained Iraqi forces I would argue they are capable, however successful democracies typically should not rely heavily on the military or police to maintain stability. My opinion is sectarian violence will escalate as American troops come home and Iraqis are left to figure things out.
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Old 02-25-2011   #5
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One thing we can say with certainty: Iraq is not a War Zone.

Instead, it is a country with fundamental internal challenges to be resolved, and by a potentially messy process. Is that materially different than if we left immediately?

The underlying conflicts over the past decades (not just our period) were embedded, and would have, under any scenario, led to a "rebalancing" with the potential for violent retributions among many factions with legitimate grievances.

Behind it all, all of the ingredients are available for great prosperity under many alternative scenarios. That same list of ingredients, however existed in the 1980s and 1990s.

There is no assurance of a positive outcome but many of us who invested ourselves there, and lost comrades in the effort, hope for a safe and prosperous future for the many generous and hard-pressed Iraqi people we came to know well.

My position: Their future, whatever it may be, was deferred by any further major US presence. I was sent there as part of the mission to get us out, so my mission will shortly be accomplished.

Friday is a day when many Iraqis are being called to mass protests over very serious failures within the system. I would like nothing better than for Mr. Maliki to actually join the protesters in legitimately asking the hard-questions: How are we, as Iraqis, going to get beyond all this?
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Old 04-30-2011   #6
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Having recently returned from Iraq, I would have to say that based on my work with the local security forces that Iraq is indeed headed in the right direction. My biased opinion is that the accomplishments in Iraq are extraordinary, this sentiment was also shared by our Iraqi partner force members. Perfect no, but the very idea of the end state in COIN is hard to measure in the binary sense.

"O Tolmon Nika"

Last edited by j earl; 04-30-2011 at 03:06 AM.
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