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Old 08-03-2008   #1
MikeF
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Default The Last Battle

Dave included this in today's Early Bird...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/ma...ref=middleeast

Here's my two cents...

This is one of the best articles that I have ever read on Iraq. Gordon recounts the story of two captains and a sergeant returning to active duty to assist Patraeus in S. Iraq during "The Surge."

The article is long, but it is well worth the read. It highlights the capabilities/limitations of the US occupation in Iraq, and it tells a tremendous story of three young americans transcending branch, service, and rank to serve their country.

Accordingly, Iraq has moved from a failed state to fragile state status. In the south, tribal leaders compete with Islamist over political and economic control. In Baghad, military cease-fires allow time for political reconciliation. In Anbar, Sunnis broker to re-enter the government. In Diyala, the civil war contiues as competing tribal sectarian and religious interests contend for control of this acephalous society. Diyala will be the last to be tamed if ever tamed.

For a moment, there appears to be a fragile hope tempered with pragmatic reluctance.

v/r

Mike

ENDSTATE:

Quote:
Lemons, who is back at work at his skateboard company, had strong and unsettled feelings about his time in Diwaniya. “I am still trying to figure out the lesson,” he said. “Maybe the lesson is there are limits to what we can and cannot do in Iraq. I’ve tried separating myself from our work with the Sahawa” — Awakening — “and I can’t. I can’t ever face the tribes I worked with again because I broke a lot of promises. Those promises don’t mean much to anyone outside Diwaniya or to an overall strategy for this war, but I thought these were the promises my own government had sent me year after year to pursue. So while I would deploy again for my Marines and my Iraqi Army comrades, I don’t want to go to Iraq again if this is the way we do business.”

Gildroy, who is once again a civilian and who left Diwaniya vowing never to return, says she still believes Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy is producing results. “This war is critical to our national-security interests and has had an impact on Al Qaeda. I know we are creating a buffer zone,” she said. “We will not create a well-functioning democracy in Iraq, but we need to leave the region and Iraq in a stronger position than we went in both for their own security and to avoid another terrorist attack on America. I would do whatever General Petraeus asked or needed. I trust him and his character with my life.”

Moulton, who is headed to graduate school this year at Harvard for a joint program in business and government, said the episode illuminates both the importance of the south for the politicians in Baghdad and the brittleness of many of the gains. “Together with some brave young Polish and Iraqi soldiers, we did a lot to improve life in Diwaniya,” he said. “I can’t deny that. People were afraid to leave their houses when we arrived. Iraqis were crying when we left. But so much of what we did fell apart so quickly. It shows how fragile everything is today in Iraq. For all that we put into it, not least of all a year of our lives, I don’t know if any of it will last.”
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Old 08-03-2008   #2
Ken White
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Default Gives me no pleasure to say it but

welcome to the ME...

Where nothing is ever as it seems.

Check the LINK -- so many invaders and temporary occupiers that the area residents are past masters at fiddling the nominal conquerors. That and haggling are the national sports...

Last edited by Ken White; 08-03-2008 at 07:04 PM. Reason: Added link
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Old 08-03-2008   #3
MikeF
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Default Age before Beauty

Ken,

The proper title should be "Debbie Downer," but you know as much.

The beauty of SWJ is the collaboration of experience. After 4 tours, I can finally discard my notions of the Peace Dividend and Internet revolution bred into my childhood. Like Lemons and Gildroy, I deployed and redeployed, developed relationships, and fought the good fight in the hopes of making a difference, winning our nations wars, and creating a better world for my children.

Although I completed my mission, the ME did not change and evolve according to my timeline. As many of my brothers (and sisters) experience, this seeming apathy unerved me to no end. You and others have helped me realize that this is part of the process- the long, slow evolution of modernity that continues to ebb and flow.

Hindsight 20/20, pragmatism sets in.

The question now, given the circumstances, is:

What do we do about it?

I lost too many men and sacrificed too much to simply quit. Although, in the end, it is up to the Iraqis, how do we assist?

I'd submit that we face a wicked problem- one so complex, dynamic, and hostile that it cannot be defined nor tamed. We can only hope to cope with it. I focus my academic studies towards this issue.

As you addressed, EVERYONE (not shouting) has fought over this area throughout the history of mankind. Despite the lack of beachfront property, it remains the center of the world via religion, economics, or what have you.

Fareed Zakaria contends in The Post-American World that the ME has drug the US into the 13th century while the rest of the world evolves into the the 21st century ( as a wise old NCO use to say to me- "why should you never wrestle a pig in the mud? B/C the pig likes to get dirty!).

I'd submit that Fareed is wrong, and this fight will be the struggle of my generation.

v/r

Mike
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Old 08-04-2008   #4
Ken White
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
...Like Lemons and Gildroy, I deployed and redeployed, developed relationships, and fought the good fight in the hopes of making a difference, winning our nations wars, and creating a better world for my children.
You did both those things -- for which I thank you -- it just will take time to coalesce and be apparent.
Quote:
Although I completed my mission, the ME did not change and evolve according to my timeline. As many of my brothers (and sisters) experience, this seeming apathy unerved me to no end. You and others have helped me realize that this is part of the process- the long, slow evolution of modernity that continues to ebb and flow.
If I were your age I'd be frothing at the mouth with impatience. Only real benefit in being old is that you've seen most things before and know that instant results are rarely lasting; those that last take a while to come to fruition.
Quote:
Hindsight 20/20, pragmatism sets in.
The first is always true, the second should be...
Quote:
What do we do about it?
We've done it. We opened a window -- how far out of that window they will reach has to be seen -- but they've reached out a bit and that bit will not be pulled back inside (though I'm sure some of the neighbors will try to shove 'em back in...).
Quote:
I lost too many men and sacrificed too much to simply quit. Although, in the end, it is up to the Iraqis, how do we assist?
We've done a lot; for the future, the more quickly they can stand up an Army able to guarantee their external security, the better off we'll be. We started giving them scrap gear (always stupid but we try to go cheap) and are now providing better equipment. There will be those that resist giving them full bore training so they don't become a threat to us but my bet would be that will not be an issue.
Quote:
I'd submit that we face a wicked problem- one so complex, dynamic, and hostile that it cannot be defined nor tamed. We can only hope to cope with it. I focus my academic studies towards this issue.

As you addressed, EVERYONE (not shouting) has fought over this area throughout the history of mankind. Despite the lack of beachfront property, it remains the center of the world via religion, economics, or what have you.
All true and your focus is good because the area will be problematic for another 15 years or so in my estimation; then I expect it to settle down.
Quote:
Fareed Zakaria contends in The Post-American World that the ME has drug the US into the 13th century while the rest of the world evolves into the the 21st century ( as a wise old NCO use to say to me- "why should you never wrestle a pig in the mud? B/C the pig likes to get dirty!).

I'd submit that Fareed is wrong, and this fight will be the struggle of my generation.
I'm with you -- Fareed doesn't show me much. It probably will be and as my middle son, with you a 73d alumnus (different BCT), says "If we leave too soon, we'll be back within ten years." Might as well do it right the first time.

Yet again I'll add the immortal words of Tom Tait -- "Best is the enemy of good enough" to define what's 'right.' Those words have particular resonance in the very pragmatic ME.
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Old 08-05-2008   #5
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Default

To add to Ken's observation, that time does pass and if luck holds, things do get better. The Korea of 1960 and the Chile of 1974 did transition into the what they are today.

I don't have any of my books with me but if memory serves, the Mexican Gov took a number of years after the Revolution of 1910-1920 to fully consolidate its' power. A lot of accommodations had to be made. Perhaps something similar will happen in Iraq.
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