Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Prager's Letter to the Soldiers

Dennis Prager penned a letter to US Soldiers, linked via Real Clear Politics here. While I'm all for supporting troops, a lot of this letter sadly is about criticizing other people's views and sadly (in my mind) arguing misinformation.

Prager begins:

This war has not been lost. What has happened is that many Americans, for all sorts of reasons -- some out of simple fatigue, some because they do not believe that war solves anything, some out of deep loathing for the present
administration -- do not believe that what you are doing is worth doing.

First off, the war is not lost, nor is it winnable. It was over years ago. The peace HAS been lost. While I don't disagree with his assessment that some are out against the administration, others fatigued, whatever, the whole confusion of peace/war makes the point essentially moot.

Then sadly this line:

You know that the fight you wage is worth waging. You know that you are not, by
and large, fighting Iraqis who do not want you there but fighting people from
other countries who come into Iraq in order to blow up and maim as many innocent
Iraqis as possible.

Again, we are left with this issue I struggle with----Prager is a very sharp guy. Either he is completely ignorant of the situation or he knows better and is purposefully occluding the truth.

The vast majority of the fighters in Iraq are Iraqis [ed. note: 5/9, see comment section]. They are not people from other countries. This stupidity has to end. There are some small percentage of outside fighers. But even the so-called al-Qaeda types, the ones Prager calls as today's Nazis later on in the article are Iraqis almost entirely.

As well as this line:

You know that your presence in Iraq is all that stands between numberless men,
women and children and a horrible death. But, for whatever reasons, the fate of
these people and their country do not matter to those who feel you are wasting
your time and our nation's resources in Iraq.
Their presence may be all that stands between numberless deaths. I think there will be major blood-letting in Iraq. Although I think there is major blood-letting now and will be (perhaps on a lower level over longer period of time) as long as the US remains in Iraq.

This is why Prager has to argue the fighters are from the outside. Whether stupidity or a lie, it's wrong.

This is why I think the argument has to be more about what can be done to minimize the coming breakdown. The Iraqi government is going to take 1-2 months off for the summer, not they are doing anything especially right now. The surge will be nowhere in a place to be examined by September.

This is a different position the strawman relativism Prager goes on to attack for a few paragraphs. This is deep moral reasoning going away--how do save the refugees? Those of us who did not support the war in its run up and argued that such things as these would occur (e.g. Civil War), some of those/us are now thinking what is the best of the worst of options now remaining.

There is no central Iraqi government. An open-ended occupation without a government will not bring about "the first free Arab Muslim" country. Unless the eventual country of Shia Iraqistan will count, which it very well may. Turkey is Turkic Muslim and Kurdistan is Kurdish of course.

But that will happen only after a US departure and the inevitable break up of the country.

35,000 troops have been told to be ready to deploy this Fall. This is not for sure they will, but if Bush gets the funding for the War he will keep the troops past September of this year. He will keep them until 2009, leaving a Democratic President (and Congress) to extricate the US from the former country of Iraq.

Bush will take the Republican party down with him. He will end his presidency if he goes this route in the low 20s, Nixon-esque numbers.


At 6:08 AM, Blogger MD said...

99% of the fighers in Iraq are Iraqis.

Where is your evidence for this percentage?


At 8:18 AM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

The best sites are (in my mind)

iraqslogger.com and juancole.com

Even if I don't agree with all their political points of view, they have a much better sense of the feel of the country, the insurgency, the factionalism, etc.

Or you can read In the Belly of the Green Bird by Nir Rosen.

There are some very small number of foreign fighters. [I've amended the text to read the vast majority of...].

The most cynical are the Neo-Baath who use say Saudis to drive the trucks for truck bombs. The Baath plan, coordinate, set up the attack and then just throw in a zealot fool to do the work. Who should we count this attack as having been achieved by?

Also as numerous reporting (see Cole, also Michael Ware CNN correspondent), al-Qaeda in Iraq has joined into the umbrella organization of the Islamic State of Iraq. They did this in order to gain local support because they were viewed by the locals as too much of a foreign entity.

So we know the Shia death squads are Iraqis, the Neo-Baath/"secular" insurgents are Iraqis, and now the Salafi revivalist insurgents are all Iraqis, that qualifies as the vast majority.

Even if the most spectacular attacks are carried out by al-Qaeda in Iraq it is by now (and has been since at least the death of Zarqawi) an Iraqi group.

This is why I put so much emphasis on trying to stop a Kurdish-Turkish war and an Iranian-Saudi/Jordanian war in Iraq. There will be far too much violence just between the Iraqis, more is not necessary.

At 11:10 AM, Blogger MD said...

So you have no actual piece of evidence supporting this claim of "vast majority..."?


At 12:28 PM, Blogger MD said...

the whole confusion of peace/war makes the point essentially moot.

I don't really think so. Not if "war" is meant as "the war to stabilize Baghdad" and other crucial provinces. Which is the meaning, I think, common to Bush, Patraeus, and I'm guessing Prager. Certainly the first two, who talk of the military success in stabilization as a necessary but not sufficient step, the next being largely diplomatic.


At 12:45 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...


The issue of a war in Baghdad even for stabilization is in a real sense still behind the times.

The Shia have already essentially cleansed Baghdad. They won. The American army has just tagged in for the Shia for now in Baghdad.

The Shia are receiving training via the Americans (through the Iraqi Army) and the Iranians (The Mahdi Army is training next door in Iran) so that when the Americans eventually do leave they can hold their ground.

The Sunni are going to be able to land attacks on the Shia I imagine for years, but they [Sunnis] are not going to get anything approaching the reins of power.

There is no diplomatic/political solution under the current system. The Sunni want an overhaul of the constitution, which is not going to happen (The Shia and Kurds can always block that).

This is why the surge is just in my mind delaying the inevitable and moving pieces around the board.

I did in fact cite sources---all the websites and the book.

Just look at the daily attacks---Sunni guerillas in Kurdistan; Diyala (mixed Sunni-Shia violence); Southern Iraq (Shia on Shia violence), al-Anbar (Sunni on Sunni violence).

Now the outside fighter scenario could come back into play with a US withdrawal. This is where the real diplomatic "surge" has to take place. The conference in Sharm el Sheik hopefully was a step in that direction.

My main worry is the US stoking a regional Sunni/Shia divide by egging Saudi Arabia to fund the Sunnis in Lebanon vs. Hezbollah and to take on Iran. This can not work with the US' support of the current one Iraqi state, one central government model, given that the government is Shia and not recognized by the Sunni Arab states.

Iran will not be isolated; it has too many links in Southern Iraq, with the Kurds (especially if it goes badly with the Turks); and the Syrians, not to mention the Palestinians and Hezbollah.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger MD said...

I went to the two site you mentioned; saw nothing of the kind of evidence you would need to support your claim that the great majority are Iraqi citizens. Where on those sites should I go?


At 4:28 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

I found the citation and it's posted in a separate post. Peace.


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