Sunday, September 09, 2007

Stand by the mission petition

Regardless of whether you were (or are) for or against the war in Iraq, it is really beyond serious doubt that for America to withdraw our troops too soon will:

1) result in mass slaughter of Iraqis who supported America,

2) cause the terrorists to think they can defeat America anywhere, anyplace anytime, and

3) embolden the terrorists to continue or even increase their worldwide jihad against all non-Muslims

Please sign the petition against pulling out of Iraq too soon.


Robert said...

I think it’s important that we realize a few things before we go making any rash decisions. The first and most important is this:

Forget why we went to Iraq; at this point, it hardly makes any difference because it is now the central point of conflict on the war on terror. Both Republican and Democrat alike agree we need to be fighting Al Qaeda. Iraq is now the forefront of that battle. Bin Ladin and his surrogates have pointed to Iraq as the place jihadists need to go to fight the devil that is the United States.

So, what would pulling out do in contrast to Patreus’s recommendation? Well, it would achieve a few things:

1. It would ensure that the time we have already invested in Iraq is wasted because it would likely mean the collapse of a democratic Iraq.

2. With Iraq falling to sectarian violence, a safe haven would be created for terrorists.

3. It would prove once and for all that the United States has no stomach for a protracted fight. Whether we like it or not, the terrorists’ primary means of understanding is force (i.e. The United States has none).

4. With Iraq safely under their control, they’d now be free to launch attacks at the United States with near impunity.

Right now, these ARE the people who attacked us. This IS Al Qaeda. Every day we keep them tied up in the deserts in Iraq is a day they waste their resources attempting to stay alive. Meanwhile, they’re not free to fly planes into our buildings, blow themselves up in a shopping mall, or dump poison in our water supplies. Instead of having to find them scattered all over the world, we've got a place where they willingly come to us.

Additionally, this report that is coming out today shows improvements in many, many different areas (much to the dismay of the Democrats). It shows we’re not only improving, but winning this war. Despite Schumer’s hateful rhetoric, he got one thing right. Those people in Iraq are getting tired of Al Qaeda and they’re starting to fight back. This is EXACTLY what we in the US wanted. We wanted the Iraqis to handle their own security and their defense. This is an extremely positive step that Schumer has tried to spin as another failure.

With the Democrats so deeply invested in making the US fail (because it benefits them politically), it makes it difficult to realize that pulling out right now is not only foolish, but dangerous for us as well.

The facts are:

* We’re there fighting the enemy we swore to fight after 9/11
* Pulling out now would needlessly give them a victory
* We’re winning
* Iraq is starting to defend itself
* There are deadly consequences if we bow out now

Leaving may be the biggest mistake the United States ever made in regards to terrorism.

Dennis said...

Excellent post, Robert!

John said...

That Kool-Aid must be pretty tasty, Robert, because it sounds like you've been drinking a lot of it. I wish I had the time to discuss this more fully, but I'm having a hard time finding enough hours in my day right now. Here are a few points to consider, though:

* "About 70% of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated in the area covered by the US military "surge" of the past six months, an opinion poll suggests."

* Petraeus says US surge has 'not worked out'. (Apparently he'll admit it to the troops, but not the rest of us.)

* "Al-Qaeda in Iraq is the United States' most formidable enemy in that country. But unlike Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization in Pakistan, U.S. intelligence officials and outside experts believe, the Iraqi branch poses little danger to the security of the U.S. homeland.... AQI's new membership and the allied insurgents care far more about what happens within Iraq than they do about bin Laden's plans for an Islamic empire, government and outside experts said. That is likely to remain the case whether U.S. forces stay or leave, they added."

You've got to understand, Robert, that the people in Iraq calling themselves al-Qaeda are not part of bin Laden's organization. Furthermore, they will not "follow us home" when we leave Iraq, as that article points out. But unfortunately, the government has convinced a large number of people, including yourself, that both of these things are true. You say that "We’re there fighting the enemy we swore to fight after 9/11." Sorry, but we're not. I desperately wish that we were.

Robert said...


It must be really tough being a Democrat senator and pushing for the defeat of the United States. That does appear to be their sole goal in this whole operation in Congress. Additionally, I do think they’ve got people such as yourself to buy into this defeatist attitude because it meshes with their plans.

To address your points:

First, Petraeus (the person in an actual position to know) said:
"I think an enormous payoff is the fact that we may be able to defeat al Qaeda. Al Qaeda central, if you will, does regard Iraq as the central front in its War on Terror," Petraeus said. "The converse of that would be a, really, a huge lift for al Qaeda, and really, a shot of adrenaline to them."

In other words, both Al Qaeda and the US see Iraq as the central point of conflict. If you think they’re “not going to follow us home”, you’re dead wrong. If we’re not draining their resources and killing them, they’re free to attack from a safe haven.

Also (in the same article) it was found that, “The top military and diplomatic leaders agreed that progress is uneven but definitely noticeable.” Again, people in the know have said that the surge is working. Hell, even some of the defeatists (i.e. Democrat party) were forced to admit its progress. Hillary stated, “We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly Al Anbar province, it's working…” Of course, the Democrats couldn’t allow that statement to stand on its own, so she and her spin doctors went about spinning that to mean something entirely different from what a rational human being would understand that to mean.

The point is that the “surge” is working, it is reducing violence, we are making progress, and Petraeus’s new counter-insurgency strategy is starting to pay dividends. So, when we’re winning and fighting our enemies of 9/11 – what do the Democrats and their willing allies in the media want us to do? Tuck tail and run. Why? Because it hands them a political victory; the United States best interests be damned.

John, I know you want the best for the country. However, if anyone has been drinking kool-aid here, it’s been you. Our military commanders and people “in the know” have stated that things are working and outlined our best course of action. I think it’s about time we started listening. The consequences of failing are really too high and all the Democrat bluster and pretense of caring won’t mean a damn thing if another 9/11 happens.

John said...

Robert wrote: "The point is that the “surge” is working..."

When announcing the surge, the President stated that "[a] successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations" and will include a political component: "hold[ing] the Iraqi government to the benchmarks [America] has announced." Many other members of the administration said similar things. None of that has happened (in fact, the Iraq government took an entire month off). Earlier this month the Governmental Accountability Office concluded that the Iraqi government has completely met only 1 of the stated legislative benchmarks.

As far as the violence goes, there are numerous questions about the statistics being used (you can see my comments about that in another discussion thread). In addition to what I have said previously, the Associated Press reported in August that "This year’s U.S. troop buildup has succeeded in bringing violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks around the country is running nearly double the pace from a year ago." Newsweek reported recently that: The surge of U.S. troops—meant in part to halt the sectarian cleansing of the Iraqi capital—has hardly stemmed the problem. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July was slightly higher than in February, when the surge began. According to the Iraqi Red Crescent, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has more than doubled to 1.1 million since the beginning of the year, nearly 200,000 of those in Baghdad governorate alone. Rafiq Tschannen, chief of the Iraq mission for the International Organization for Migration, says that the fighting that accompanied the influx of U.S. troops actually "has increased the IDPs to some extent." See this article for more information about the cherry-picking of statistics.

You ignored the poll I cited of Iraqi citizens. Don't they count as "people in the know"?

Robert wrote: If you think they’re “not going to follow us home”, you’re dead wrong.

First, I guess you completely ignored the article I linked stating otherwise. If you want more evidence, the Center for American Progress did a terrorism survey with over 100 experts. (Before you make claims of bias, they took political affiliation into account.) Only a few of these experts believed that terrorists are either very likely or likely to attack the U.S. as a direct result of a troop withdrawal from Iraq. There are many other experts out there who doubt these claims. Retired Army Lt. Col. James Carafano, a specialist in international security threats at the conservative Heritage Foundation, recently said, "There's no national security analyst that's really credible who thinks that people are going to come from Iraq and attack the United States, that that's a credible scenario."

Robert wrote: "[w]hat do the Democrats and their willing allies in the media want us to do? Tuck tail and run. Why? Because it hands them a political victory; the United States best interests be damned."

Robert, you say you know I want what's best for the country; can't you admit we all do? I respect your opinion and know that you want the best as well. Can't you admit that sincere, intelligent people can disagree, but we all want what's best - even "defeatist" Democratic politicians? And by the way, it's not just Democrats who want to see some kind of deadline. A majority of the country, including some prominent Republicans, are also calling for this. But Democratic politicans aren't saying all troops should come home tomorrow, which is what I think you believe.

So what would it take for you to say that we have "won"?

John said...

One more thought. During his hearings, Petraeus was asked if our presence in Iraq is making us safer. His response: "Sir, I don't know, actually. I have not sat down and sorted that out in my mind."

This is the man the President has entrusted to both assess the war and sell its progress to the American people (by Bush's own admission - "But fully aware of his standing in opinion polls, Bush said his top commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, would perhaps do a better job selling progress to the American people than he could.") And he stands before Congress and says he has no idea if this war is making us safer? How is that supposed to make the American people feel? How is that supposed to make the soldiers who are over there right now feel? How is that supposed to make the loved ones of those who have died feel? If even he is not sure, how can you be so sure?

Robert said...


First, let’s address the results of the surge – direct from General Petraeus’s testimony:

As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met. In recent months, in the face of tough enemies in the brutal summer heat of Iraq, coalition and Iraqi security forces have achieved progress in the security arena.

I’m going to summarize here, but essentially General Petraeus is saying in his testimony that we’re meeting our military benchmarks. We’re seeing significant declines in violence and rooting out terrorist operations.

Petraeus also testified:

Two U.S. intelligence agencies recently reviewed our methodology and they concluded that the data we produced is the most accurate and authoritative in Iraq.

As I mentioned up front and as the chart before you reflects, the level of security incidents has decreased significantly since the start of the surge of offensive operations in mid-June, declining in eight of the past 12 weeks, with the level of incidents in the past two weeks the lowest since June 2006, and with the number of attacks this past week the lowest since April 2006.

In order for us to start achieving political victories, we need to secure the country and convince the population that it’s safe. Despite a negative perception, the statistics are clearly showing the reduction of violence and the improvement of overall security. A poll of Iraqi people seems like a fairly unsophisticated means of gathering “security data” because things like poll questions, interviewer bias, and enemy propaganda is widely present.

For example, in America we ask poll questions on the environmental water quality. Despite the widespread misconception that things are worse than they’ve ever been, statistically we’re in the best shape we’ve been in since the early part of the 20th century. Poll responses do not necessary reflect the actual conditions but simply a perception which can be manipulated by many, many things.

In regards to the “terrorists following us home”, I guess I need to clarify. Without the war front being in Iraq, Al Qaeda will no long regard that as the place to send their operatives. We can expect that Al Qaeda will then turn its attention here. It’s immaterial whether or not the actual people in Iraq will board a plane to blow us up here. It’s the fact that Al Qaeda as an organization will no longer be occupied with fighting us in Iraq. At that point, they are free to expend their resources attempting to cause problems for the US throughout the world. This doesn’t take an expert or rocket science to figure out.

John said:
Can't you admit that sincere, intelligent people can disagree, but we all want what's best - even "defeatist" Democratic politicians?

Based on some of the things they’ve said lately, I do not believe that. I believe that some of the most prominent Democrat politicians are only interested in political power. While not all Democrats are like that, there are plenty holding office that are.

While all of us want to know when the troops will come home (and we all want them to), I will not be roped into giving specifics about time schedules or tables. When questioned, the polls are intentionally vague and I think reveal a lot of the bias that exists in the national media.

My dad was called earlier this year to answer whether he thought, “…American troops should come home.” That was the complete question. So he asked, “What, come home right now or some time in the future or stay there indefinitely?” The pollster said, “Just come home.” To which he responded, “Okay – so that means right now?” The pollster then stated he couldn’t assist any further with the question because he wasn’t allowed to.

The point is a lot of these polls change dramatically when the questions are asked differently. I’ve seen some polls that indicate that Americans want to win the war and are willing to stick it out, but they just don’t want to be on the hook indefinitely. I’m in that group.

John said:
So what would it take for you to say that we have "won"?

I think it’s a long term goal. Winning (in my eyes) means the neutralization of Al Qaeda in Iraq, a stable Iraqi government, Iraqi forces controlling the vast majority of operations, and the ability to withdraw the vast majority of our forces without seeing a political collapse or a sudden upsurge in violence. I also want insurance that Iraq will not become a safe haven for terrorists of any flavor.

Finally, I reject the notion that Petraeus is giving any other opinion other than his own. He’s not just some Bush “mouthpiece” or puppet. In his own words:

At the outset I would like to note that this is my testimony. Although I have briefed my assessment and recommendations to my chain of command, I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by nor shared with anyone in the Pentagon, the White House or the Congress until it was just handed out.

As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met. In recent months, in the face of tough enemies in the brutal summer heat of Iraq, coalition and Iraqi security forces have achieved progress in the security arena.

John said...

Robert, I'll let you have the last word, as we're getting to the point (as we always do) of chasing our tails. Just a couple of last thoughts:

* Even if Petraeus' assessment is his alone, he still has a vested interest in presenting the best case possible. As I have pointed out, many experts believe he is cherry-picking statistics.
* I will grant you that some areas of Iraq have shown some improvement. But the facts I have presented show that the country as a whole is not much better off, if any.
* We have discussed polling before, so no need to rehash that. We both agree that polls can have problems. But you also can't just discount them all (or just the ones you don't like), either.