Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No End in Sight in the Iraq War

Yesterday on NPR's Fresh Air program, they interviewed Washington Post special military correspondent Thomas E. Ricks, who has been on the ground in Iraq, almost from the start.

It's a sobering analysis of the situation in Iraq that most people consider stabilized and "won." Far from it. Two main points that raised my eyebrows:

1. He talked about the "surge" and what was behind the success. I thought I'd heard it all but the real reason behind the success was directly paying off Sunni insurgents to join their side. The same guys who were planting roadside bombs and killing US troops were now on the payroll. In a chilling account, he talks of a US marine who asks an ex-insurgent, who was manning a check point, if he'd like to kill him, an American soldier. The Iraqi replies: "Yes, but not right now." I'm shocked that they think bribery is a long term solution. When the money runs out they will turn.

2. There's no way in the world US troops will be able to leave by 2011. No way. Ricks explains that all the problems are merely on hold. If the US makes a move to leave, the bad guys will start up. On top of that he believes the US are obligated to stay, in order to prevent a genocide. If they want to exit, it is going to be extremely ugly.

If you have half an hour, click here to listen.


  1. Cutting your losses, is a very difficult thing to do. Stalingrad, Vietnam, leaders just could not admit defeat and cut their losses. Many more had to die. Humans are hard wired, to not admit a mistake.

  2. Yes. For the supporters of the war, this is the number one method of argument. "We'll lose credibility", "the terrorists will celebrate." These are powerful and hard to stomach.