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Thread: Why we must never abandon this historic struggle in Iraq

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    Why we must never abandon this historic struggle in Iraq

    Why we must never abandon this historic struggle in Iraq


    Tony Blair

    Sunday April 11, 2004
    The Observer

    We are locked in a historic struggle in Iraq. On its outcome hangs more than the fate of the Iraqi people. Were we to fail, which we will not, it is more than 'the power of America' that would be defeated. The hope of freedom and religious tolerance in Iraq would be snuffed out. Dictators would rejoice; fanatics and terrorists would be triumphant. Every nascent strand of moderate Arab opinion, knowing full well that the future should not belong to fundamentalist religion, would be set back in bitter disappointment.
    If we succeed - if Iraq becomes a sovereign state, governed democratically by the Iraqi people; the wealth of that potentially rich country, their wealth; the oil, their oil; the police state replaced by the rule of law and respect for human rights - imagine the blow dealt to the poisonous propaganda of the extremists. Imagine the propulsion toward change it would inaugurate all over the Middle East.

    In every country, including our own, the fanatics are preaching their gospel of hate, basing their doctrine on a wilful perversion of the true religion of Islam. At their fringe are groups of young men prepared to conduct terrorist attacks however and whenever they can. Thousands of victims the world over have now died, but the impact is worse than the death of innocent people.

    The terrorists prey on ethnic or religious discord. From Kashmir to Chechnya, to Palestine and Israel, they foment hatred, they deter reconciliation. In Europe, they conducted the massacre in Madrid. They threaten France. They forced the cancellation of the President of Germany's visit to Djibouti. They have been foiled in Britain, but only for now.

    Of course they use Iraq. It is vital to them. As each attack brings about American attempts to restore order, so they then characterise it as American brutality. As each piece of chaos menaces the very path toward peace and democracy along which most Iraqis want to travel, they use it to try to make the coalition lose heart, and bring about the retreat that is the fanatics' victory.

    They know it is a historic struggle. They know their victory would do far more than defeat America or Britain. It would defeat civilisation and democracy everywhere. They know it, but do we? The truth is, faced with this struggle, on which our own fate hangs, a significant part of Western opinion is sitting back, if not half-hoping we fail, certainly replete with schadenfreude at the difficulty we find.

    So what exactly is the nature of the battle inside Iraq itself? This is not a 'civil war', though the purpose of the terrorism is undoubtedly to try to provoke one. The current upsurge in violence has not spread throughout Iraq. Much of Iraq is unaffected and most Iraqis reject it. The insurgents are former Saddam sympathisers, angry that their status as 'boss' has been removed, terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda and, most recently, followers of the Shia cleric, Muqtada-al-Sadr.

    The latter is not in any shape or form representative of majority Shia opinion. He is a fundamentalist, an extremist, an advocate of violence. He is wanted in connection with the murder of the moderate and much more senior cleric, Ayatollah al Khoei last year. The prosecutor, an Iraqi judge, who issued a warrant for his arrest, is the personification of how appallingly one-sided some of the Western reporting has become. Dismissed as an American stooge, he has braved assassination attempts and extraordinary intimidation in order to follow proper judicial process and has insisted on issuing the warrant despite direct threats to his life in doing so.

    There you have it. On the one side, outside terrorists, an extremist who has created his own militia, and remnants of a brutal dictatorship which murdered hundreds of thousands of its own people and enslaved the rest. On the other side, people of immense courage and humanity who dare to believe that basic human rights and liberty are not alien to Arab and Middle Eastern culture, but are their salvation.

    Over the past few weeks, I have met several people from the Iraqi government, the first genuine cross-community government Iraq had seen. People like Mrs Barwari, the Minister of Public Works, who has just survived a second assassination attempt that killed her bodyguard; people like Mr Zebari, the Foreign Minister. They are intelligent, forward-looking, tolerant, dedicated to their country. They know that 'the occupation' can be used to stir up anti-coalition feeling; they, too, want their country governed by its people and no one else. But they also know that if we cut and run, their country would be at the mercy of warring groups which are united only in their distaste for democracy.

    The tragedy is that outside of the violence which dominated the coverage of Iraq, there are incredible possibilities of progress. There is a huge amount of reconstruction going on; the legacy of decades of neglect is slowly being repaired.

    By 1 June, electricity will be 6,000MW, 50 per cent more than prewar, but short of the 7,500MW they now need because of the massive opening up of the economy, set to grow by 60 per cent this year and 25 per cent the next.

    The first private banks are being opened. A new currency is in circulation. Those in work have seen their salaries trebled or quadrupled and unemployment is falling. One million cars have been imported. Thirty per cent now have satellite TV, once banned, where they can watch al-Jazeera, the radical Arab TV station, telling them how awful the Americans are.

    The internet is no longer forbidden. Shrines are no longer shut. Groups of women and lawyers meet to discuss how they can make sure the new constitution genuinely promotes equality. The universities eagerly visit Western counterparts to see how a modern, higher-education system, free to study as it pleases, would help the new Iraq.

    People in the West ask: why don't they speak up, these standard-bearers of the new Iraq? Why don't the Shia clerics denounce al-Sadr more strongly? I understand why the question is asked. But the answer is simple: they are worried. They remember 1991, when the West left them to their fate. They know their own street, unused to democratic debate, rife with every rumour, and know its volatility. They read the Western papers and hear its media. And they ask, as the terrorists do: have we the stomach to see it through?

    I believe we do. And the rest of the world must hope that we do. None of this is to say we do not have to learn and listen. There is an agenda that could unite the majority of the world. It would be about pursuing terrorism and rogue states on the one hand and actively remedying the causes around which they flourish on the other: the Palestinian issue; poverty and development; democracy in the Middle East; dialogue between main religions.

    I have come firmly to believe the only ultimate security lies in our values. The more people are free, the more tolerant they are of others; the more prosperous, the less inclined they are to squander that prosperity on pointless feuding and war.

    But our greatest threat, apart from the immediate one of terrorism, is our complacency. When some ascribe, as they do, the upsurge in Islamic extremism to Iraq, do they really forget who killed whom on 11 September 2001? When they call on us to bring the troops home, do they seriously think that this would slake the thirst of these extremists, to say nothing of what it would do to the Iraqis?

    Or if we scorned our American allies and told them to go and fight on their own, that somehow we would be spared? If we withdraw from Iraq, they will tell us to withdraw from Afghanistan and, after that, to withdraw from the Middle East completely and, after that, who knows? But one thing is for sure: they have faith in our weakness just as they have faith in their own religious fanaticism. And the weaker we are, the more they will come after us.

    It is not easy to persuade people of all this; to say that terrorism and unstable states with WMD are just two sides of the same coin; to tell people what they don't want to hear; that, in a world in which we in the West enjoy all the pleasures, profound and trivial, of modern existence, we are in grave danger.

    There is a battle we have to fight, a struggle we have to win and it is happening now in Iraq.

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comme...189906,00.html

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    I dont think we will be leaving anytime soon, lets stay a while and get the place running again, and help those people a bit.

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    If you go to the warships1 POW forum you'll see just how badly some have lost their resolve. Some STILL don't understand presedent Bush's "with us or against us" speach.

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    Seems to be a worldwide "historic struggle", to me.

    I like Mr. Blair.
    No man is free until all men are free - John Hossack
    I agree completely with this Administrationís goal of a regime change in Iraq-John Kerry
    even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act-John Kerry
    He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. Itís the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat-John Kerry

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    similing, its because some people in this world are spineless cowards (ex. the UN) and to them, when the US does a good thing, its worse then when a dictator does a bad thing.

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    I think its a fine open letter, and many of the principles espoused within are difficult to argue against.

    However, it is also laced with some spin and a bit of revisionism, but he is a politician after all.

    Saddam was a Sunni, the Shia hated him and he them. However now the Sunni and Shia (sounds like a pop duo ) have decided to ally against the west. That is something that somehow whther intentional or unintentional, conspiracy or cock-up, we managed to create.

    The electricity production is sporadic at best, apparently, its more often off than on. So whilst the numbers might be impressive, it doesn't matter if the lights aren't on.

    It still is faith based foreign policy, something that we in the west are not traditionally fond of.

    Apparently he is going to push Bush to try a less confrontational approach, after all the occupying powers are supposed to be liberators of the people of Iraq. but 500 died in recent fighting in Falujah.

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    Originally posted by smilingassassin
    Some STILL don't understand presedent Bush's "with us or against us" speach.
    Must have been a bad speech if people don't understand its message.

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    As a soldier, I would be thinking withdraw, regroup, rethink, and re-assert. We're reacting to their (insurgent) initiative instead of driving in on our own. It's a mess and I don't like messes. We're going to retake the cities. Great! What about after? How are we going to prevent this from happenning again. We will destroy one militia while 12 others are waiting to take its place. It's not going to work in the long run.
    Chimo

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    If this were back in the 1940's Fullujah wouldn't exsist anymore. We would have been hitting it with Artillery and B-17's for the last week.

    We need to bring in a few thousand reinforcements to Fullujah, then they need to go into the city, whenever they come under attack they call in artillery and blow the shit out of everyone.

    Mr. Blair is a socialist terd bucket but at least he has the balls to see the bigger picture.
    Last edited by Praxus; 11 Apr 04, at 17:09.

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    Ray
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    Praxus,

    May I recommend to you that you enslist and do something more than use the keyboard.

    You have the fire and fierce loyalty. I appreciate it. It is being wasted at the WAB.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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    Originally posted by Praxus
    If this were back in the 1940's Fullujah wouldn't exsist anymore. We would have been hitting it with Artillery and B-17's for the last week.

    We need to bring in a few thousand reinforcements to Fullujah, then they need to go into the city, whenever they come under attack they call in artillery and blow the shit out of everyone.
    That'll liberate them ...

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    Originally posted by Officer of Engineers
    As a soldier, I would be thinking withdraw, regroup, rethink, and re-assert. We're reacting to their (insurgent) initiative instead of driving in on our own. It's a mess and I don't like messes. We're going to retake the cities. Great! What about after? How are we going to prevent this from happenning again. We will destroy one militia while 12 others are waiting to take its place. It's not going to work in the long run.
    Well, its becoming clear that we didn't get into this for reasons that we fully understood. I think because of that the peace was always going to be a problem. Our objectives were being made up by people sitting in TV studios answering questions, not by proper policy.

    Another aspect is that the squaddies in the hotspots have always gone in tooled up. I know its easy for me to say, but i think there comes a point where the liberators and protector needs to wander around with their berets and not their helmets on. Clearly now is not the time, but i think there was a time that might have affected this. But i am no expert.

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    Originally posted by Trooth
    Another aspect is that the squaddies in the hotspots have always gone in tooled up. I know its easy for me to say, but i think there comes a point where the liberators and protector needs to wander around with their berets and not their helmets on. Clearly now is not the time, but i think there was a time that might have affected this. But i am no expert.
    I don't like the following article because it does not identify anyone. Most Queen's Officers are not afraid to speak out. Whether legitimate or not does highlight some differences in Force Approach.

    Telegraph | News | US tactics condemned by British officers
    By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
    (Filed: 11/04/2004)

    Senior British commanders have condemned American military tactics in Iraq as heavy-handed and disproportionate.

    One senior Army officer told The Telegraph that America's aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the British high command.

    The officer, who agreed to the interview on the condition of anonymity, said that part of the problem was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi expression for "sub-humans".

    Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer said: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are. Their attitude towards the Iraqis is tragic, it's awful.

    "The US troops view things in very simplistic terms. It seems hard for them to reconcile subtleties between who supports what and who doesn't in Iraq. It's easier for their soldiers to group all Iraqis as the bad guys. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them."

    The phrase untermenschen - literally "under-people" - was brought to prominence by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, published in 1925. He used the term to describe those he regarded as racially inferior: Jews, Slaves and gipsies.

    Although no formal complaints have as yet been made to their American counterparts, the officer said the British Government was aware of its commanders' "concerns and fears".

    The officer explained that, under British military rules of war, British troops would never be given clearance to carry out attacks similar to those being conducted by the US military, in which helicopter gunships have been used to fire on targets in urban areas.

    British rules of engagement only allow troops to open fire when attacked, using the minimum force necessary and only at identified targets.

    The American approach was markedly different: "When US troops are attacked with mortars in Baghdad, they use mortar-locating radar to find the firing point and then attack the general area with artillery, even though the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely populated residential area.

    "They may well kill the terrorists in the barrage but they will also kill and maim innocent civilians. That has been their response on a number of occasions. It is trite, but American troops do shoot first and ask questions later. They are very concerned about taking casualties and have even trained their guns on British troops, which has led to some confrontations between soldiers.

    "The British response in Iraq has been much softer. During and after the war the British set about trying to win the confidence of the local population. There have been problems, it hasn't been easy but on the whole it was succeeding."

    The officer believed that America had now lost the military initiative in Iraq, and it could only be regained with carefully planned, precision attacks against the "terrorists".

    "The US will have to abandon the sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut approach - it has failed," he said. "They need to stop viewing every Iraqi, every Arab as the enemy and attempt to win the hearts and minds of the people.

    "Our objective is to create a stable, democratic and safe Iraq. That's achievable but not in the short term. It is going to take up to 10 years."
    Chimo

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    Ray
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    I think. Bush and his cronies had Praxus's mindset. They exepected flowers and garlands to greet.

    Initially it did. Then Paraxus's mindset took effect and it became a balls up.

    Enemity amongst the Moslem sects got united! You have to live amongst the Moslem to realise the divide amongst the Moslems i.e Shias and Sunnis. They are now thanking Praxus type of mindset for showing the way. Vison told me there are 73 Islamic sects and a Msolem friend told me that it is all balls. Islam cannot be reinterpreted beyond the scriptures unlike others. What the Prophet said is the last word.

    I am not a Moslem. I sure would Like Visioninthe dark to inform folks here of the dangers that are there in this type of action in Iraq since the Ironman has assured us that he is a sane voice. Vision bring in sanity. God said let there be light and there was light. So, show some light Vision even if you are not God!

    Don't underestimate the undercurrent. Let Vision give us Vision.
    Last edited by Ray; 12 Apr 04, at 05:52.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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    Ray
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    Colonel,


    I know British officers and they are not afraid to speak up. Some may, bit not most. And don't call be an Anglophile!

    I know of an ADC to a great General of the British Army who visited our Insurgency areas before taking over command of the Kosovo and Bosnia hassle. His ADC was most incisiive. My cousin (british parentage) is most open and he was also in the actual Iraq War. Much that I don't appreciate their behaviour pre Independence, but you have to give it to them.

    It would be interesting to draw a equation. The British were awful in India with more of a superirority complex and more repressive than the US in Iraq. We don't HATE them. How come? Don't you think some should learn how they did it?

    Wise old crooks, the British.
    Last edited by Ray; 12 Apr 04, at 06:03.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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