November 29, 2004


Iraqization is not going well:

Eric Umansky: 'They've just about given up': The NYT's John Burns spent the day on a joint river patrol with Marines and with what Burns describes as one of the "best Iraqi units." It's a "special Iraqi commando unit assigned to the country's powerful Interior Ministry," with "many drawn from Saddam Hussein's special forces." So how did these A-listers perform? Burns:

"They've just about given up," said Lt. Jerman Duarte, 34, of Houston, his voice edged with exasperation.

As in so much else about the American venture in Iraq, cultural differences played their part. At one point, Lieutenant Duarte bridled when some of the Iraqis resisted his repeated urging that they spread out along the line, preferring to cluster together, ineffectively, at one end. A Marine sergeant told him that the Iraqis were officers and did not feel that they should be asked to work side by side with common soldiers.

One of the Iraqi officers, asked if he spoke English, replied snappily, "English no good. Arabic good. Iraq good." The message seemed clear.

Although recruits in the new Iraqi units undergo strict vetting, American officers say rebel sympathizers have infiltrated some of the new units - some of the soldiers have been caught tipping off rebel groups.

Posted by DeLong at November 29, 2004 01:50 PM | TrackBack

Even ARVN had some guys who could and would fight...

Posted by: spiny norman at November 29, 2004 02:31 PM

There's an interesting piece, "The Costs of Staying The Course," at'

If you correct for the vast improvement in body armor and in treating wounded soldiers, and pro-rate armed forces deaths to number of troops in the field, it turns out that two deaths a day, the current butcher's bill in Iraq is about the same as the cost in Vietnam, and not wildly lower than the cost in WWII.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones at November 29, 2004 03:25 PM

But what about the schools? Hundreds of them! Thousands of them! Millions of new schools!

Posted by: Green Democrat at November 29, 2004 03:26 PM

Well, at least somebody knows how to do intelligence work. Maybe with enough $$ we could hire some of them away.

Posted by: SqueakyRat at November 29, 2004 03:34 PM

Geez! This isn't working out very well at all. Go figure.

Posted by: Dave at November 29, 2004 04:34 PM

We could leave Iraq tomorrow and Iraq would be unsafe for Americans and all westerners into the near future.
We could stay in Iraq, kill another 100,000 Iraqis or more and Iraq would be unsafe for Americans and all westerners into the near future.

There is no good outcome.

The only thing worse would be if Syria and Iran are blamed for all the problems in Iraq and that is used as an excuse to invade those countries.

Posted by: bakho at November 29, 2004 04:59 PM

Do I feel a draft?

Posted by: Knut Wicksell at November 29, 2004 07:12 PM

David Lloyd-Jones

Two deaths per day? We've been averaging over 4.5 per day for the last month. Five killed last Sunday alone. ( The only reason September was close to 2 per day was that they were deliberately laying low in the runup to the election.

Posted by: jimBOB at November 29, 2004 08:49 PM

NYTimes article here

Given the weak performance of Iraqi forces, any major withdrawal of American troops for at least a decade would invite chaos, a senior Interior Ministry official, whose name could not be used, said in an interview last week.

Ten more years in Iraq? Jeez. The arabs will really love us by then! Clearly an Occupation, not a freeing of their country.

Posted by: tjallen at November 29, 2004 09:59 PM

I guess I ought to accept as a given that, for the rest of my lifetime, the US military will be an occupying force in oil exporting countries.

I find this really sad, but I also wonder what took me so long to accept it as true. I suppose this means, also, several more oil exporting countries to be conquered/occupied over the next 50 years. Pitiful.

The only way I see to avoid this disaster would be the miraculous invention of some other form of energy. Maybe fusion will finally be harnessed. What other way is there to avoid the now-obvious American Military Oil Empire?

Posted by: tjallen at November 29, 2004 10:08 PM

I doubt the NYT article on casualities takes into account differences in threat tactics in addition to improvements in field medicine. Most of our casualities are being inflicted by road side bombs, not direct fire weapons or more sophisticated indirect weapons like mortars or artillery. I don't have the time nor the inclination to sit down and crunch the numbers, but it is perfectly reasonable to think that the use of such weapons would then give a higher casuality count than had the enemy otherwise relied on small arms. Had the changes in threat tactics and weapons been taken into account, the rather alarmist NYT piece might have considerably less substance to it.

jimBoB: you sort of forgot the intentional heightened operations tempo in the past month. that is going to give you higher casuality rathes than otherwise. you can't say that casualities are on par with vietnam by only extrapolating from two months.

quote - I guess I ought to accept as a given that, for the rest of my lifetime, the US military will be an occupying force in oil exporting countries.-quote-

large permanent US military presences in the middle east are relatively new. even when OPEC was screwing the developed world there was no foreful occupation of their land, nor was there any planned for troublesome oil exporters like venezuela or nigeria during its turmoil

Posted by: Jon at November 30, 2004 04:33 AM

China is signing defence agreements with Iran, be careful before you invade there. I would suppose the next thing will be an arrangement with Venezuala, to buy all of their oil, and perhaps help with their security.

Posted by: Old Ari at November 30, 2004 07:22 AM
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