Making the Most of "the Surge" in Iraq

Posted by John Matel
January 17, 2008
Courthouse in Anah, Iraq

John Matel serves as Team Leader of the Al Asad Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team in Iraq.

Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) declared Ramadi the capital of their caliphate in Iraq. That was only about eighteen months ago. Today Ramadi is the capital of resurgent Al Anbar, with thriving markets, internet cafes and restaurants. Maj. General Gaskin, who commands CF in Al Anbar, has said that the province is ready to be handed back to the Iraqis in March. He added that when he arrived less than a year ago, he never expected it to happen this fast. The turnover does not mean that the violence is over or that all our forces will all leave, but it does mean that the Iraqi police and security forces will be doing most of the day-to-day work of keeping Iraqis safe and it is incredible to anybody who knew this place last year.

BTW - I take this security thing personally, since I often trust Iraqis to keep me safe too.

From everything I see and all that I hear from those who lived here during those dark days when the insurgency burned through Al Anbar, the surge worked. Of course, success did not start and will not end with the surge. What the surge did was give us credibility - showed friends and enemies alike that we were committed to finishing the job. We had some advantages. The Marines had been working with the Anbari people and local leaders for years, so they had a base to start with. Beyond that, Al Qaeda in Iraq stupidly overplayed its hand, by murdering, maiming and generally oppressing the civilian population to such an outrageous extent that tribal leaders teamed up with coalition forces to drive them out. The surge was not sufficient, but necessary to finish the job and to create enough security so that ordinary people, just seeking safety for their families, could feel secure enough to do normal things like going to markets, restaurants and Internet cafes.

It is important to remember that the surge represented a change in emphasis and not merely an increase of boots on the ground. Our forces live in local communities, close to the people they protect and get to know. This ensures that the insurgents cannot just come back to again threaten civilians. Protecting the civilian population and winning their trust is the key to success. As security is established, rebuilding (or in some cases building) can begin. PRTs are part of a reconstruction "surge".

Our ePRT is the beneficiary of the improved security. My predecessor told me about his troubles just finding contractors not afraid to be seen talking to us. They had hard time finding someone just to lay a concrete walk to a city hall. This is a problem no longer. My colleagues and I travel all around western Al Anbar, an area the size of South Carolina, meeting local people and helping them with projects that improve their lives. On my desk today are proposals for projects involving things like upgrading electricity connections, helping local business associations get up and running, or refurbishing courthouses. The courthouses are particularly gratifying, since they represent the return of the rule of law. Just a short time ago, it was impossible to find judges willing to risk assassination to carry out their duties. Today they are dispensing justice openly in their own courtrooms. The picture I have included is a courthouse we helped refurbish. It rises out of the detritus of war and is a fitting symbol for what is happening here.

Al Anbar is still a dangerous place. We travel in armored convoys; our helicopters still feature the ubiquitous 50 caliber machine guns at the ready. But in the nearly four months I have been in Iraq, I have felt safe (as safe as you can feel bouncing up and down in helicopters) most of the time as my staff and I have traveled to every important center in western Al Anbar, and many smaller ones too.

I recently went on foot patrol in an isolated town called Nukhayb along with the Marines stationed in that area to protect pilgrims returning from the Hajj. This year nearly 10,000 pilgrims passed thorough this part of Anbar on their way to the holy city of Mecca. There were no incidents and the Marines are surprised at the almost compete lack of trouble. "Picket fences," the analogy to peaceful small Midwestern town, was the way one Marine characterized it to me. Around here Sunni and Shiite live together, intermarry and even share the same Mosques.

As we walked, we were constantly surrounded by curious children and some adults who, for unknown reasons, insisted on calling out the names of American cities or celebrities. Nobody was afraid. I noticed a brand new 4" water pipeline network line that recently been laid in trenches near area homes. The market was small but well stocked. I bought a wool scarf emblazoned with the Iraqi flag (it gets cold in Iraq) and some cookies from the local vendors. The scarf is great; cookies not so much.

We had gone to this remote area to meet with local leaders and assess the effects of the drought on agriculture, especially on the local sheep herds. Our ePRT can help with some advice and maybe a small grant to for medicines and minerals to enhance animal health, but what they really need is rain, something we cannot supply. The situation is bad; nevertheless, these problems of animal heath and crops are the normal problems of an arid agricultural community and can be addressed in normal ways. Things are returning to normal here and all over western Al Anbar.

I am no expert on the big events happening in world politics about Iraq. What I know about is the part I work with every day and what I am writing comes from what I see. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to play a small role in this fundamental change for the better in Iraq. It is well worth the discomfort and risk of being here. Iraq was horribly mismanaged for more than a generation. It will take time to rebuild neglected infrastructure or sometimes build it in the first place, but Iraq can and should be a prosperous country. It has the necessary energy and water, resources, soils and even more important - resourceful people. The surge gave us the possibility to help the Iraqi people build a future for themselves that is better than the dreadful past. I hope and believe that the Iraqis of Al Anbar,with our assistance, will be able to make the most of this opportunity.

Comments

Comments

Syrian P.
|
Syria
January 18, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

That is impressive, It must have cost few trillion dollars to build this awesome skyline in Iraq. At best it rival that of Bangladeshi cities.LOL... with all the petro-Dollar, this is it, now you see it.

John
|
District Of Columbia, USA
January 28, 2008

DipNote Blogger John Matel writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- It is important to reestablish (or just establish) the rule of law. Courthouses are important milestones in that effort. As for the trillions of dollars, none of my grants are for more that $25,000.00, so I am not really sure what you mean by that comment.

The courthouse is located in a small town and it is adequate for the skyline of a small town. I think the building is very nice and even if it were not, I do not see any reason to ridicule the Iraqi people trying to make their lives better.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
January 18, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

We are not discounting the fact that Iraq now has an elected Government, a Parliament, free enterprises and a free press. That said these goals could have been achieved by other means than those of utter annihilation of the Iraqi Nation, State and populace using shock and awe war tactics and brutal U.S. occupation that has violated all norms of Human Rights and War Conventions. Trying to create a resemblance of the Rule of Laws and Courthouses in an economically, socially and institutionally devasted country such as Iraq today is not only fruitless but even deceptive. Most educated and experienced observer can see through this charade and note the sloppy paint jobs billed as development and progress programs. It is obvious that the plan is to keep Iraq underdeveloped socially and economically and keep the U.S. as protectorate until the last oil bucket lifted from the sand is dry.

How many Billions did the U.S. spent on the war in Iraq now (not to mention the next decade) Imagine if this rapidly approaching trillion Dollar of U.S Taxpayers, not to count the Iraqi Petro-Dollars that are almost entirely paid politicians and to Israeli owned Security companies, were actually spent on education, training and business development in Iraq. It can be even being granted to U.S. Companies to set up shops in Iraq. Were this 1000 millions in fact spent on development of Iraq, you may have your American way of life by now in Iraq flourishing and even spreading out throughout the Middle East on its own just like it is now in Eastern Europe and places like Poland, Hungary, Manila and Shanghai.

Saddam and his evil kids could have been removed from Iraq for .99 cents a pop. And rather than sending occupation forces, the U.S. could have sent liberation forces and the Israeli murder squads that are now embedded with those U.S. occupation forces cold have been replaced with a huge number of Volunteers from the U.S. Peace Corps that most likely will have swollen to enormous numbers by now, considering how American public and professionals are tended to enjoy this task in overseas service and experience.

If all these Billions were spent on development of Iraq from the start rather than GDAMS bombs, you will not be showing on this Dipnote blog sloppy paint jobs on mud huts billed as courthouses to bring the Rule of Law to Iraq, but grandiose Civic Centers that rival those of Dubai, where those real Billions earmarked for Iraq war and occupation is really ending up.

The Dept of State is not fooling anyone but the American public and maybe the Poles, but that is why everyone enjoys the Polish Jokes.

john
|
Iraq
January 28, 2008

DipNote Blogger John Matel writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- If we could go back to the past, we would certainly do things differently -- and make different mistakes, but the decisions we make today can affect only the future. My options today do not include changing events of past years.

It is important to recall, however, that the situation in Iraq in leading up to the war was dire and we are still living with the consequences of generations of mismanagement and I see the evidence of Saddam Hussein's mismanagement every day. Much of our "reconstruction" is not repairing the damage of war, but rather the damage of mismanagement from the years before it.

Our other big challenge is weakness of civil society, what you might call the infrastructure of democracy. The Saddam Hussein regime systematically destroyed independent societal structures. This makes the job of reconstruction much more difficult. I served almost eight years in Poland during its transition. A big advantage for Poland and other countries of that region was a strong civil society. In Iraq, that is just beginning to be established.

I do not understand your comment about Israeli death squads or your reference about keeping Iraq underdeveloped. I have never seen any indication of either of those things where I work. On the contrary, we are working hard to help Iraqis stand on their own and become more prosperous. Peace and prosperity are the best things for all of us. Of course, I regret the amount of U.S. money spent to achieve that and you are right (if I interpret what you are saying correctly) that the amount of money the U.S. is spending exceeds the revenue Iraq gets from oil. This is costing the U.S. much money. I hope that the security achieved will be worth the money spent, but that assessment will be made by future historians.

Re the "mud hut" and "Polish joke" comments, you are missing the point. Perhaps the photo I included does not make it clear, but this is a very well constructed building in a small town. It would not be out of place in a similar sized town in any developed country in the world. The Polish joke comment is just silly. My paternal grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Poland. They did not speak English, were not well educated and they brought little with them. A generation later, their grandchildren are doctors, lawyers, business owners and diplomats. If that is a joke, I am sure lots of people would like to be part of it.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
January 22, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP in Syria --

Even Yamamoto, the Japanese Admiral who led the attack on Pearl Harbor knew he'd made a mistake when he "awoke the sleeping giant" as he referred to the U.S.A.

You have no instigator to blame but terrorism itself.

Perhaps the leader of Syria would kindly explain why Damascus International Airport is used as a drop off point for jihadis recruited in Iranian embassies worldwide.

We weren’t exactly planning on every jihadi wannabe in the region showing up for the party, but in similar ways to an old farmer's solution to a bothersome anthill, the honey jar of democracy has drawn them all in and they're stuck fast in a terminal paradox.

Al quiada's credibility is on the line...the Mullahs of Iran and its Revolutionary guard, Hezbollah, ...all state and non state sponsors of terrorism including Syria are killing fellow Muslims every time and IED goes off in Iraq or Afghanistan. Killed fellow Muslims on 9/11, and have been doing so for a long time before that. Before oil was ever pulled from the ground in fact. Long before.

Saddam was given 48 hours to pack his bags and you blame us for the results of his failure to do so? At least we had the decency to offer him the chance to spare his people. Terrorists don't bother to spare the innocent.

Get a grip man, and look a little closer to home for the cause of the ills that befall the region.

Ronald
|
New York, USA
January 22, 2008

Ronald in New York writes:

"The Surge".....let's not forget that the surge was double-speak for cranking up the war in the face of the greatest war resistance the U.S. people ever expressed. Did it work?..NO WAY...more dead everday.

David
|
United States
January 22, 2008

David in U.S. writes:

John,

I appreciate your efforts and the work of all PRTs in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the Vietnam War, I made a similar contribution for a 5-year period of service in SEA (Southeast Asia). My lessons learned during this period are as follows:

1) The U.S. will make some mistakes in the implementation of overseas national security policy. Learn from those mistakes, and do what you can to correct them, or recover from them.

2) Redevelopment or reconstruction is always slow to start in combat areas, and indigenous population therefore lack the early support needed. In the absence of real benefits, indigenous populations see no reason for their sacrifices.

3) In the eventual rush to recover lost time, PRT personnel may be deployed without the language and technical skills needed to be truly effective. In addition, they often lack training in the customs, culture(s), religion(s), and real desires/ goals of indigenous populations. Some PRT members will even be assigned without the safety and survival training needed to sustain operations in high-risk areas.

4) Most PRT efforts fail to take advantage of proven and effective Radio School techniques that allow the best technicians (and language translators) to safely deliver self-help instruction to isolated populations as well as areas where security does not allow travel by PRTs. It seems that most policy makers do not understand Radio Schools, so this option is seldom considered.

5) Insurgents, terrorists, and narcoterrorists generally obtain most of their support from "host" peoples who have high levels of frustration and anger for a variety of reasons. The more you do to help the host populations resolve their problems, the more you will become a target of adversary elements.

All the best!

Lacey
|
Texas, USA
January 22, 2008

Lacey in Texas writes:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt.

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do." - Benjamin Franklin

Criticism is easy; yet it changes nothing. Striving to make a difference for others is not, and it accomplishes everything. I understand that Mr. Matel has sacrificed time with family and friends, time for himself, to make a difference. Those who are educated and understand what you are doing and how much you are helping do appreciate you and the other men and women overseas. Please keep up the hard work and we thank you. Stay safe.

- A True Texas Patriot

Rachel
|
Texas, USA
January 22, 2008

Rachel in Texas writes:

"Iraq was horribly mismanaged for more than a generation. It will take time to rebuild neglected infrastructure or sometimes build it in the first place, but Iraq can and should be a prosperous country. It has the necessary energy and water, resources, soils and even more important - resourceful people."

So true.

I think there's enough evidence out there to justify our action as a country in Iraq; but that's immaterial. There's no point in crying over spilt milk. Know what caused the spill and don't repeat.

But for the future, this report is so very heartening. It's wonderful to know that we have the capability to not only effectively destroy evil people, but we don't just leave a power vacuum. The project of giving it back to the Iraqi people is succeeding because this is what's at the very heart of human nature; the consent of the governed. If they want to be governed by a Sunni/Shiite cooperative, then it's wonderful! If they want a single controlling force, then so be it.

But we [the U.S.] have done our duty in that once we made the mess, we've left it in better order than it was before.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
January 24, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Dipnote Blogger John Matel -- The U.S. had plenty of experiences in reconstructing countries since WWII. Japan and Germany for startup, and more recently as you agreed Poland, Romania, Russia (Have you been to Communist China lately, who do you think developed that country, the comis??). We have members in those countries since the early eighties and we know Russia as well we know the U.S. These countries were in worse shape than Iraq before Dr. Mengele Rumsfeld Shock and Awe campaign started, when the Communists vanished, they left the countries in dire conditions. Through development, Investments, training and multitude of programs in just one single decade those countries were transferred into modern up to date States. So you cannot blame it on mistakes or lack of experience on part of the U.S.

As to your other excuses and white washing. It was the United States that installed and supported Saddam for decades. It even gave him the WMD and nearly 10 Billion of U.S. Taxpayers money. The lack of Civil Society structure was directly the fault of the United States not providing the necessary financial and political support to build this Civil Structure and relied mainly on Saddam. The U.S. still relaying on the same strategy used before, even to this day, throughout the Middle East. Finally, I would not say that Hungary or Romania had a Civic structure when the comis fell, except for the Communist Party cadre (Iraq also had huge cadre of Baathists) they are just more homogeneous society than Iraq. The picture for Iraq and the Middle East is bleak.

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Inequity, injustice, inhuman treatments, social degradation, economic degradation, human right abuse, genocidal policies, murder and rape of loved ones, lack of educational institutions and freedoms, theft of national treasury and the nation resources, those are the causes that drove Middle Easterners to what you call terrorism or Jihad. The World in general and the U.S. in particular did not do anything for decades to alleviate these problems in the Middle East and some other countries. In fact it continue the policy of the same-O same O. With the population of those countries doubling in the next decades, you should not expect anything short of going nuclear from some group one day in this decade. The U.S. gave Saddam 48 hours when it has obtained intel and it knew that he will not leave, they should have removed Saddam when he invaded Kuwait, but chose to cash him out, take the profit and run.

@ Lacey in Texas (A true Texas Patriot) -- A true patriot is one that would stand out for his country and speak loudly when he sees his nation still going the wrong path. Otherwise, keeping silent or supporting that wrong path is really tantamount to treason. There are young people in the Middle East that are willing to sacrifice their life for what they perceived as their patriotic duty. Talk is cheap.

We love America, the one that the great men who signed the Constitution built and lead, they took a turn in man history, for the bestest of man future, and after few hundred of years of improvements, a true patriot from Texas took yet another turn and handed America over to the @ Erics of the world to turn it and the world into a Holy Grail.

Aldendeshe
|
Syria
January 24, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

Those highly bright women in Texas said, "...There's no point in crying over spilt milk..."

Tell that to the 1.2 Million Iraqis died when you spilled this sour milk, tell that to the few millions Iraqis that are living destitute refugees in Syria and other countries. No it is not going to be a case of just forget about the spilled milk for Texans, read about American Edgar Casey prediction of Texas being fully and permanently under water.

Rachel
|
Texas, USA
January 25, 2008

Rachel in Texas writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- SNP in Syria writes:

"Those highly bright women in Texas said, '...There's no point in crying over spilt milk...' Tell that to the 1.2 Million Iraqis died when you spilled this sour milk, tell that to the few millions Iraqis that are living destitute refugees in Syria and other countries. No it is not going to be a case of just forget about the spilled milk for Texans, read about American Edgar Casey prediction of Texas being fully and permanently under water."

I'm afraid that I've been taken sadly out of context. I can name several actions that have had more disastrous and deplorable consequences, yet all the powers in the world could not go back in time to undo them.

The action that the United States [and quite a few other countries, I might add] took in Iraq is one that many will continue to argue over for many generations. [much as Americans still argue over the validity and causes of the Civil War.]

The loss of any life is deplorable and yet it's not something we can go back and undo, even if we should fervently desire it.

The idea, though, is that we learn from the past, and strive not to repeat it. This doesn't excuse past actions; it is hope for the future.

As to the experience the United States has in rebuilding countries...it's quite true. The U.S. has had many opportunities to assist in rebuilding other countries.

It must be realized however, that social structures, cultural ideals, and history also assist in the rebuilding of a country. Sometimes, it takes a bit of time for the people themselves to catch the vision of glory, of patriotism [which is a love of country, not blindness], before they may thrust themselves forward.

The United States is not the panacea for struggling states. The U.S. will assist, but cannot claim total responsibility. If the Iraqi people were unwilling to build something better than they had, if they were unwilling to reclaim pre-Hussein glory, all the efforts of the U.S. and any other country would be in vain and useless. Mr. Matel spoke of those willing to carry on as contractors, judges, shepherds, and market vendors. It is because the people themselves are providing the drive, the United State can continue to provide the tools until the Iraqi people can control and maintain their own destiny.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
January 28, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Rachel in Texas -- No, don't blame the Iraqis, blame the Shock and Awe, a torrential rain fall of 2 ton bombs for years, American Corruption Officers, shouting Iraqis for game, rape at will, Israeli embedded murder squad, horrific fake Al-Qaida ops, few dozen Abu Guraib facilities, assassinations ...the list of notorious crimes committed by Americans and their underhand thugs of evil Nations that participated in this horrific genocides is way too long. It is a miracle in fact that any Iraqi person can function as a human daily. The serene and pacifist attitude of Iraqis toward all this horror is in fact attributed to their cowardly Islamic faith. Islam, if you did not know, is the religion of cowardness and humiliation, it requires from followers an absolute obedience to a sinister entity that demands from its subject the bowing down 5 times a day, a despicable constant subjugation of humans to utter humiliation. It is this exact degrading belief system of Islam that has prevented Iraqis from avenging back at evil doers on the planet in retaliation. In fact, we see the same cowardly and lowly Moslem traits in other parts of the Middle East as well. Simply put, a Moslems has no honor and no dignity, he is a degraded and subjugated human, he lift his hands to that sinister entity and begs for help in the face of atrocity committed on him and on other Moslems.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
January 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"Inequity, injustice, inhuman treatments, social degradation, economic degradation, human right abuse, genocidal policies, murder and rape of loved ones, lack of educational institutions and freedoms, theft of national treasury and the nation resources, those are the causes that drove Middle Easterners to what you call terrorism or Jihad."

Only point I agree with you on is that Saddam should have been removed off planet long ago. Listen, for all of the above, you need look no farther than the mullahs of Iran who lead their people over oblivion's cliff. Or your own pencil-necked twit that leads Syria for that matter.

I suppose it is entirely possible were my nation to be all the ills of the region that you claim, that we'd be of a mind (if that were the case) to simply nuke it all and be done with it.

Yet America, for all the thanks we get, allows folks to manifest their own destinies. And only when it gets totally dysfunctional and is a direct threat to us, do we do something about it.

It is called restraint ...be thankful we have it to spare.

Dan
|
Oklahoma, USA
January 28, 2008

Dan in Oklahoma writes:

John,

U.S. politics being what they are, I assume that our new President may make demands for the rapid withdrawal of all U.S. forces (from Iraq) during 2009. It is therefore essential that immediate plans and preparations be made for continued support for Iraqis engaged in the redevelopment of their nation after our departure.

Development of Radio Schools should now be a priority since they would provide the means for continued, remote, self-help instruction related to redevelopment and community security matters. Programming for such remote broadcasts (from safe areas) should already be under development. Radio School organizers should be recruited and trained for every village and areas of each community. Simple, crystal-type radios, powered by hand-crank generators, should already be on order. Radio frequencies must match the planned broadcast center, and not tune to any other stations.

Such Radio School programming may also be used to support redevelopment and community security efforts in Afghanistan and other nations in the Middle East. This is a type of hands-off assistance that would be supported by many, and of help to many. There have been several very successful Radio Schools, with one of the first (related to development/ redevelopment) being Radio Puno (in Puno, Peru during the mid-1960s). I believe the U.S. has an obligation to continue assisting Iraq --and to simply walk away is an invitation to even greater disaster. Radio Schools create a basis for sustained help without our being in Iraq. All the best.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
January 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"Sometimes you just have to win. Some conflicts just need to run their courses and some bad guys just need killing. Nazi ideology was not discredited UNTIL it was defeated on the battlefield. No amount of peaceful persuasion or appeasement worked. People thought communism was a viable alternative to the free market UNTIL it ignominiously collapsed. Massive economic evidence and even the presence of a very large and deadly wall running down the middle of Berlin did not convince the believers to abandon their failed ideology. Earlier forms of terrorism from the Barbary Pirates to the Bader-Meinhof didn’t go away until they were defeated. We tried appeasement in the 1930s and we tried ignorance in the 1990s. These things did not work.

Ideology is weakened AFTER its defeat."

- The Meaning of Our Victory in Iraq by John Matel

John, you have history on your side on this, but for the life of me, I can't concoct a conspiracy theory as to why nations have buried their collective heads in the sand when it comes to rendering impotent, state sponsors of terrorism. Never mind all the non-state actors running amok from the safe havens afforded them, for now...

It's not like world leaders in the global war on terrorism don't know the score. Or the dire possibilities and probabilities resulting from inaction and complacency.

Nor do the Iraqi people, for that matter. Having been in the construction industry much of my life I think I can fairly say that we are a nation of nation builders, on many levels. I wouldn't expect the Iraqis are any different.

Unfortunately John, it seems even with all the diplomatic hubbub, folks are not grasping the simple fact that so long as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism exists next to the fledgling democracies we've helped create as an alternative to despots and ethical infants, we are not likely to have any permanent success for one very basic reason.

It is far easier to blow up a building than it is to build one.

Far easier to create civil strife and ethnic mayhem than to build trust among peoples. We've been witness.

My thanks to you and those who've helped the Iraqi and Afghan people take their nations back from the brink.

If one were to place a global strategic overlay to ensure the survival of humanity through the 21st century, it becomes quite obvious that global crisis such as climate change, endemic poverty, disease, cannot be solved effectively until we have no terrorists left to hunt.

("We" meaning those who wish to create a better world)

( Hope BONO and AL GORE read this and grasp a hard truth )

"Draining the swamp" means removing governments from power who sponsor terrorism, and perhaps we should simply look at reality and know that the job's not done till the fat Mullah swings.

Unless of course Aminidijad represents a new species of man called "Spasticus Autisticus" and Darwin's theory is one of de-evolution, then perhaps nations can use that as an excuse for paralyzing stupidity. But I suspect the average Iraqi being blown to bits by an Iranian IED has no patience left and has asked Allah to come down to Earth and spank the monkey.

When all the "apostates of Islam" are rounded up on the Arab and Persian street and shot by reasonable and responsible Muslims, then and only then will the Mideast know peace.

Otherwise, it will be left up to a coalition of the willing to deal with the rabid dogs in a manner befitting their disease, if that's the choice made.

Lacey
|
Texas, USA
January 28, 2008

Lacey in Texas writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- Clarification: I never said, "There's no point in crying over spilt milk". I believe in learning from past mistakes and carrying those lessons with you. Shed tears for those lost but move forward and do not let that loss be in vain.

I am a true Texas patriot because I am supporting a cause that I believe in. The only updates I believe on the situation in the Middle East are those that I get from friends and family that have served over there either in the military or as civilians. Unlike many Americans (those that I often find are against the war), I do not get all my news from biased news sources with their own agendas. And from what these individuals tell me, our efforts are making a marked difference in the lives of the common people. The only way that we will ever know whether our actions are right or wrong is by looking back, since hindsight is 20/20. You're presumption that I am supporting the "wrong path" seems premature. Am I sure we are doing the right thing? Of course not. I make my choice to support American efforts based on what I hear from the people there and on faith. If that's wrong we'll pay for it later but I have to support what I believe in and that is what I am doing. A fanatical and unbending certainty in one's actions and beliefs are part of the reason that we are in this situation. Personally, I think that undermining those willing to take action for what they believe is tantamount to treason. If you believe that what we are doing is wrong then what are you doing to change it? Because you're right, talk is cheap. There are also young people in the Middle East that are working in tandem with the U.S. to bring peace and to learn how to govern themselves.

Eric is right, that wars and killings over there have been going on since time immemorial. But suddenly, because of 9/11, we got involved and now we're to blame? I don't think so. Again, the logic of that escapes me. But then again, the logic of killing hundreds of innocent people to make a political statement simply in the hope of getting a bunch of virgins in the afterlife escapes me, as well.

I pity the soul that has neither the enthusiasm to support that which he professes to love nor the courage to change that which he professes to despise. The cowardly will always critisize and the courageous are destined to bear such criticism and continue on their path, guided by nothing but faith and hope. What guides you?

In a previous post you stated, "The World in general and the U.S. in particular did not do anything for decades to alleviate these problems in the Middle East and some other countries." And yet you critisize the U.S. for stepping in now? You logic seems fairly circular. Which would you prefer, that we had stepped in earlier or not at all? Because you cannot have it both ways. This is the problem I often find in criticism of America: we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. And this is not the first time it has happened either.

And I don't need to read anything from Edgar Casey. I refuse to put my faith in a debatable "psychic". We determine our future based on our current actions. Depending on a psychic to determine our future is much like depending on a child to do your accounting.

John M.
|
Iraq
January 28, 2008

DipNote Blogger John Matel writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- We are trying our best to prevent insurgents and AQI continue to kill Iraqi civilians. Part of the new strategy was to place even greater emphasis on protecting civilian populations and that is one reason for the changing situation.

As for the U.S. and Saddam, remember this number 0.47%. That is zero point four seven percent, less than 1%. That is the percentage of Saddam's arsenal that can be sourced to the U.S. Most of his arms and support was Soviet. If you look at the junkyards full of military equipment, that is what you find. You do not find American material. You can check it out yourself or if you know of any major American weapon system Saddam possessed, please let us all know.

I know it is more fun to blame America for all the troubles in the world, but I think you overestimate our reach.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
January 29, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

The U.S. should have stepped in the Middle East as early as the first day Nasser and the Baathists over thrown the democratically elected Governments and forcefully took power. Rather, it spent hard earned American Taxpayer cash on promoting and supporting them. So we are upset that you did not step in few decades earlier, but spent 5 decades profiting from the Middle Easterner people miseries. To this day you send one salesperson/President after another to rack the weapon sales in the billions.

The U.S. has taken the wrong step in the Middle East by putting own foot on the land and especially in a pseudo-country like Iraq. Rather than sponsoring, training and aiding Iraqis to do the work. You want the Iraqi oil that is all. Now you got it, and as McCain said you will be in Iraq for another one hundred years.

And for the nuke head in New Mexico, Can’t wait till this stockpile expended wisely, all of it globally. We are going to make sure it happens, we got nothing to lose but sand patches.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
January 29, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- SNP Wrote:

"...after few hundred of years of improvements, a true patriot from Texas took yet another turn and handed America over to the @ Erics of the world to turn it and the world into a Holy Grail."

@ DipNote Blogger John Matel -- Gosh, I missed this little jem by SNP. Please allow me the pleasure of a launching a verbal nuke... I believe a complete smack down is in order here.

We are in a war of global dimension, and this blog is but another battleground in the war of ideas, and ideals.

Been on the cutting edge of the debate ever since this letter was received and read at the time by at least half a dozen folks in both the White House and State Dept, (as I later learned via constituency services through my Senator's office) and I post it here for the simple fact that SNP may be somewhat confused about my role in all of this...(chuckle).

-----------------

Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 03:41:03 -0600

To: secretary@state.gov

From: Eric (edited for posting)

Subject: "Powell doctrine"-Exit options

Dear Mr. Secretary,

It seems logical to me when looking at the rebuilding of Germany and Japan after WW2, why we haven't been targets of terrorism by these former enemies, it may also be logical to view the rise of Hitler as a direct result of the sanctions imposed upon Germany at the end of WW1.

I agree that the war that has been declared upon us will take time, and cost much to win. I hope you will forgive my being so bold as to propose the following;

Based upon the fact that the people of Afghanistan have no self-determination of their fate, and are at the mercy of the Taliban(or who-ever controls them), and given the fact so many are abandoning the country in fear, it seems to me that this mission must be a liberation, not a reprisal, I mean by this that we perform surgery-heal the patient(Afghanistan).

In order to retain support, especially throughout the Arab world, for a sustained presence in the region, it will be necessary to address the humanitarian needs of the refugees immediately to;

A. Show compassion in the midst of our wrath.

B. To prevent further human suffering due to terrorist acts upon us.

I will base the following on the assumption that the military surgery undertaken will remove the cancer in a similar fashion as in WW2-unconditional surrender.(*)

Given the resulting void in government structure, and to avoid setting up what might be viewed as a "puppet" government, I propose this as an alternative:

Restore the government prior to the Soviet invasion, most of that ruling family is in exile.(although a monarchy, it held democratic ideals despite the influence of the Soviets and had no clue about the Soviet agenda until too late) . I have only my gut instinct to go on, but the "northern alliance" might agree to this as it would bring the country full circle, bringing hope again and the ability to function as a distinct political entity in the UN.

In addition I believe that the whole premise by which we may safely exit the situation with the goals in hand is this;

If the average Afghan citizen can say they're better off than they were before the Taliban took over, and having the world's help rebuilding, not only will the world respect us, but we'll give them nothing to hate us for in the future.

The massive response with food, shelter, clothing to the refugees prior to any action against the Taliban or bin Laden will immediately let the world know without a doubt that we consider them victims of terrorist aggression, and that our mission is to rid them of this and restore sanity.

If we do this right, the long-term prognosis will be a full recovery from a terminal illness. Afghanistan may need a decade of peace to achieve this.

The stability necessary for this can only come from the people's desire to be at peace, and a hope for the future.

(*) Unconditional surrender in this case does not require use of nuclear weapons to achieve objective, if used, all support will evaporate, and the objective (long term) is lost. I believe it's logical given the terrain, that this may have been considered, hopefully only for a fraction of a second.

-End excerpt from letter-

I will not venture a guess as to whether this inspired policy or was simply an interesting case of parallel thinking. As an ordinary citizen, the probability of a letter making any difference in the course of his government's policies or course of action is so remote that his fellow citizens would consider him to be crazy to even try.

I'm very glad I did.

Lacey
|
Texas, USA
January 30, 2008

Lacey in Texas writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- Point #1) So you blame America for not doing something then, for doing something now, and for not doing the "right" thing. You gripe about our allies and then go and blame the people of Iraq because you think that Islam is a cowardly faith. Is there anyone else you'd like to blame? Want to bring Australia into this? Maybe Switzerland? Try turning that finger back around. If there are problems in your life I would hazard a guess that it's because you sit around blaming people instead of actually doing something to change it. That is what makes you different from the American men and women in Iraq!

Point #2) You have negative things to say about everyone and everything. The only people that I haven't heard you gripe about are the terrorists themselves! Coincidence? Or are you showing which side you line up with?

Point #3) A peaceful faith does not equal a cowardly faith. I have had friends that are Muslim and the ones I have known are passionate, intelligent, and peaceful. Be a bit more careful when you sling such stereotypical insults.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
January 30, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

Smack down for SNP. LOL, it read like a smack down for every American Citizen who has no value in the American State other than workaholic-Consumer-Taxpayer, just like the 310 millions of them, they have no power whatsoever to affect the State foreign nor social and neither economic or cultural Policies of the country unless it is hand-me-down order from AIPAC, Hollywood Studio, Federal reserves executive. Otherwise, no one in State, Congress or the President Office cares a bit about what the sorrowful American wants and needs. Don't tell me you disagree with this. Just if you did, which I assume based on my knowledge of American Society that you are, take note of this, Bush has not spent one dime over minimal annual budgetary regulars on education, health, roads, bridges, retirements, veteran affairs and a host of other urgently needed necessities that America?s decaying infrastructures is in desperate needs for. All the extraordinary spending presented by the President and approved by the rubber stamp Congress is for wars and more wars. You have no powers whatsoever, America will re-elect Bush a hundred time if the law will permits him to run more than 2 terms, because AIPAC, Hollywood, the Networks, the Seven Jews that are in fact have legally bought you personally and America?s from past U.S. Congress (Google it-you will be surprised) will make sure that you do vote BUSH.

Gary
|
Virginia, USA
January 31, 2008

Gary in Virginia writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- Are you really Borat in Kazakhstan?? I had only suspected this before, but your line about "the Seven Jews" convinced me I'm right. [You wrote: "America will re-elect Bush a hundred time if the law will permits him to run more than 2 terms, because AIPAC, Hollywood, the Networks, the Seven Jews that are in fact have legally bought you personally and America's from past U.S. Congress (Google it-you will be surprised) will make sure that you do vote BUSH."]

You're a comedy genius! Please keep doing this "SNP in Syria" character, I love him.

Lacey
|
Texas, USA
January 31, 2008

Lacey in Texas writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- Just curious here, but have you ever been tested for any type of psychological disorder? Sorry but that last post addressed none of the issues that are being discussed in this forum. That was totally random, contextually illogical, and completely asinine. What did any of it have to do with the Middle East?

I don't really care what appliances you have in your home. What does that have to do with the Middle East?

We are all well aware of the lives lost in this endeavor. There are only three questions remaining on that front. One, do the U.S. citizens believe that the cost is too high for what we are trying to accomplish? Two, do the American military and civilian personnel that have and will travel to Iraq believe in what they are doing? Three, if the military and civilians that go to Iraq believe in what they are doing enough to sacrifice their lives for that belief, then what right do we have, as voyeurs, to stand against them. What right do we have to say, "No, you can only sacrifice yourself for American lives and American freedoms? Not for Iraqi lives and freedoms?" A friend of mine actually volunteered for a third tour in Iraq because he truly believed that he was making a difference and he valued that more than his own life. So what do your comments have to do with the situation in the Middle East?

Regarding the violence of returning soldiers; yes, it is sad and I think that better psychological screening and training beforehand and therapy afterwards would help. It is also something that happens in every corner of the world. If people live violent and tumultuous lives, there will always be a percentage of them that are unable to leave that violence outside their homes. But what does that have to do with the situation in the Middle East?

I was born and raised in Texas. Don't misunderstand, I've crossed the pond before; but Texas is my home still and I'm proud of it. Why would you ask if I live in Maine? That's random, too. What does that have to do with the Middle East?

That would be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You seem to Google a lot of things (incorrectly). If your comments here are your idea of looking on the bright side, next time you are online try looking up Depression and Bipolar Disorder on a website that has information garnered from the DSM-IV. Considering the shiftless comments and erratic logic of your last post, you might want to look up Schizophrenia while you are at it. And what does *any* of your recent post have to do with the situation in the Middle East?

You are obviously incapable of upholding your end of an intelligent philosophical debate about the real issues that are the focal point of this forum (in case you missed it, that would be the situation in the Middle East). Try again SNP. And this time, please stay on point and try to logically and factually debate the topics that the rest of us are discussing.

Lacey
|
Texas, USA
January 31, 2008

Lacey in Texas writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- They say that assumption is the mother of all... mistakes. Nobody pays or directs my opinions or actions. And there's no need to name-call. Just because I'm more intelligent than you are, have a more extensive vocabulary than you do, and you have obviously given up on an intelligent debate (because you can't string a coherent argument together with a needle and thread) - that's no reason to get so upset. And I've never been a housewife in my life. I'm a young, highly educated, and supremely independent woman. And you apparently came unarmed to this battle of wits.

When you can't fight back with facts and philosophy you simply sink to personal insults and pretending that "LOL" is some sort of intelligent response. I can handle that. Well, "LOL" right back at you. If everybody else over there is just like you, it's no wonder you've all been trying to kill each other for centuries. Too bad you didn't succeed before we had to get involved. Try again brain-trust.

Zharkov
|
Bosnia and Herzegovina
February 1, 2008

Zharkov writes:

Question One, do the U.S. citizens believe that the cost is too high for what we are trying to accomplish?

Answer: Yes, of course. This belief is a central point in the Democrat Party campaign for President. Nobody in that political party, except Hillary, believes Iraq involves any American interest. The war will cost American taxpayers well over a trillion dollars before the last soldier leaves Iraq.

Question Two, do the American military and civilian personnel that have and will travel to Iraq believe in what they are doing?

Answer: Not universally, because they were ordered to go, not invited. Soldiers volunteered only for the lawful, valid defense of America, not to become chess pawns in the oil game or to commit war crimes against civilians. Once they discover they've been "had", they become very angry, particularly after their own government labels them as PTSD so they can never again go hunting or own any firearms. When they discover they've got Gulf War Syndrome because of incompetence at the command level in blowing up nerve gas munitions without first putting on gas masks, they know our government never really loved them. Soldiers who learn this the hard way are the least supportive of the occupation of Iraq.

Question Three, if the military and civilians that go to Iraq believe in what they are doing enough to sacrifice their lives for that belief, then what right do we have, as voyeurs, to stand against them. What right do we have to say, "No, you can only sacrifice yourself for American lives and American freedoms?

Answer: Have you checked the military suicide rate lately? That is one indicator of how these guys would vote if given the opportunity to decide whether to go to Iraq or not.

Our U.S. Constitution does not offer our armed forces to die for other countries, which is why we call it the "U.S." Army. When a soldier swears to protect and defend the constitution, he means the American constitution, not the Iraqi constitution. When Americans become so ignorant that they see no difference between defending American citizens or defending foreign citizens, then we end up in no-win wars. The American soldier swears loyalty and is patriotic to America, not to the U.N., and not to Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan.

Middle East nations are perfectly capable of defending themselves against their regional enemies without American help if they have no alternative. If our government is sending Americans to die in their place, of course the foreign governments will let them. The point is, our leaders should not allow this to happen, but they are. Congress never agreed to allow American forces to be sent to Iraq to protect Iraq. Our soldiers were sent there to depose Saddam and secure the WMD, and now that it is done, they should be sent home.

If the cause is so just, why not send Saudi, Kuwaiti, UAE, Oman, Egyptian, or Jordanian soldiers to die in place of American soldiers? Do you ever wonder why these military forces don't care enough about Iraq to lift a finger to save it?

Lacey
|
Texas, USA
February 4, 2008

Lacey in Texas writes:

Finally, someone with the intelligence to truly debate the issues!! In all honesty, I do understand why so many Americans are against this war. I just don't agree.

1) This belief may be central to the Democratic Party but that is only one viewpoint. One question that I have (and no, I have not decided where I fall on this issue) is whether we have the responsibility to help in situations like this simply because we have the ability. These people were under the leadership of a dictator, they were being oppressed, and they were being murdered. Everyone agrees that Saddam needed to be taken out of power. But if we had then just gone home it would have left a power vacuum in his place. The leadership of that country would have been left to whomever had the power to take it. Meaning another Saddam (so what would have been the point) or it could have even been a powerful terrorist or someone else with a hatred of the U.S. We could have been left in even worse shape than when Saddam was there. The only logical choice was to teach the Iraqi people to govern themselves and strategically withdraw from that country when they are able to do things on their own. From what Mr. Matel and others have written, that is what we are doing and it is working. Should we only be stepping in to situations like this when we do have something to gain? Or do we have a moral obligation to the rest of humanity?

2) You’re right. There is no universal opinion from the troops and civilians overseas on this issue. I go on what I know first-hand. My brother served overseas 3 times and he brought back with him several of the problems you listed. For his benefit I won't name them. But when I talk to him now he still believes that he was doing something good for those people and he stands firm on those beliefs. Considering everything that has happened, you can no longer say that the soldiers over there (now) didn't know what they were getting into. Everyone of them enlisted or re-enlisted with the full knowledge that we are standing firm on Iraqi soil. In fact, I remember soldiers being shipped over for desert storm 15 years ago. My father recently went over, as a civilian, and I believe in what he is doing with the full understanding that others don't agree with us. No one is ignorant of our position in the Middle East and the argument that the troops didn't sign up for this is invalid after all this time.

3) That is one indication, not of how those men and women would vote, but of the difficulties of warfare and readjustment once they are back in America. I know that there are military personnel that don't want to be over there but I've had friends and family that have volunteered to go. So until they do an accurate survey of the military and their views on the situation in the Middle East I honestly don't know how the majority of them feel about it and I refuse to speculate based on what we see on the news. They only report on the tip of the iceberg and usually the most negative stuff they can find. They're running out of fodder.

I'm not really sure where I stand on the idea of a moral obligation to help the world. But I do know that one of the reasons we all feel so disconnected is because we constantly see each other through the eyes of our country, our race, our religion, our color, and our differences. But they are still people; still mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. Do we not owe them our assistance simply because of our shared humanity? The reason they don't handle this themselves is fear and the inability to organize and take control of their country as a united people. That is what we trying to help them do. And if you were looking at an enemy and saw them weak and falling, would you reach out a helping hand? That is why no one else is reaching out to Iraq but us. They're not exactly the most popular country in the world with lots of friends.

Is not seeing the difference between Iraqi people and American people really ignorance? Or is constantly seeing the differences between us the real source of our ignorance? And how can you say it is a losing battle when we are finally able to start pulling out, when they are finally learning to self-govern, and when even the news doesn't report on Iraq so much because there simply aren't as many death and destruction stories as there was even a year ago? I'm not trying to change your mind and you do (thank God) have valid points. I just choose to believe something different for my country.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 4, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"In the work ahead, we must be guided by the philosophy that made our nation great. As Americans, we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history. We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens. And so in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free peoples to make wise decisions, and empower them to improve their lives for their futures."

-GW BU.S.H, SOTU 2008

Unlike SNP, I am not so enamored with my own sense of self confidance that I am unable to express a little doubt about my ability to make a difference ( see previous post) , or to offer up a mission outline and a warning on Sept 19 2001...knowing that my government is made up of individuals who are all too human, and capable of error.

Zarkov asks, "Do the U.S. citizens believe that the cost is too high for what we are trying to accomplish?"

And then answers it with an assumption...."mother of all mistakes" indeed....I am a life-long Democrat who writes this today to assure one and all that the cost of not accomplishing the mission is far greater than any burden we bear now, or can be possible prepared to endure in the future.

SNP assumed that the letter I posted was the slap down I thought he deserved, whereas I was simply paying respect to the blog author and his hosts by asking permission to launch a verbal nuke. The letter was preamble to clarify my role that he was and continues to be wantonly "confused" about.

Simply to say as an aside, that if seven Jews have bought me, and the Dept of State pays me to blog here as he claims, then all these folks are in default of their financial obligations, and I'm here to collect. Where's my freekin' money??!!! Or should I just carve a pound of flesh off SNP's backside as payment? (asking this as I'm rolling on the floor in laughter).

See, this was never about any reward or payment for services rendered. It was a "dad thing" for my kid's future, and a whole lot of children's futures.

And speaking of fatherhood, I pity SNP's kids. They will grow up to be bigots just like him, for children learn by example. They will grow up with a low sense of self esteem because his ego will never allow their thoughts to be respected as he believes his intellect superior to everyone else's. They will fail in society, having been taught that their problems in life are everyone else's fault, where as it is a "given" that life is 2% what happens to you and 98% how you deal with it that determines your success in life.

The Iraqis most of all understand this, as do Afghans. My fellow Americans have been somewhat enamored of the instant gratification that a wealthy society affords them, but that society was based on hard work and self respect, carving a nation out of a wilderness when no one else expected our success. Let alone expected us to reach the moon because one man declared it possible, and asked us to make it so almost 50 years ago.

It really isn't SNP's fault he has the manners of a goat, as he belittles all simply to have himself booted off DIPNOTE so he can brag to his friends w/ Code Pink that the Dept. of State has "violated" his freedom of speech.

It isn't his fault that his fan club consists of only Johnny Walker, Jim Beam, Smirnoff, and Jose Quervo.

It isn't his fault at all that his father was a drunken sailor who was on leave in the Mideast, and caught in a compromising position with a farmer's goat , then forced at gunpoint to marry it under tribal law.

And to think...for two U.S. dollars...he could have had the Arabian mare in the stable next door.

He should seek professional help for his childhood issues, not seek the imput of the Dept of State to mitigate painful memories, or the help of ordinary citizens, by assuming much that we are among the willing.

To those who moderate this forum, the above may seem to be in bad taste, but I ask is it worse than allowing SNP's racial bigotry to be published on your site?

Do not be alarmed, this is only a test...for the next 60 seconds you will hear peals of laughter....again this is only a test....if this had been an actual verbal nuke....SNP would have been duly advised where to take shelter (or crawl back into the hole he slithered out of), by good citizens who by the grace of a sense of good humor put up with talking monkeys that puke on civilization, for only so long.

On the other hand, my patience has just about run out....and with permission, I think I'll light the fuse on that puppy shortly.

Stay tuned.

.

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