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kpete Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:03 PM
Original message
How 4 Words From Basra Will Change Everything
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 03:05 PM by kpete
How 4 Words From Basra Will Change Everything
Posted November 17, 2007 | 11:38 AM (EST)

A recent article about British troops leaving Basra (the second largest city in Iraq) suggests that the Iraq debate is about to experience a seismic change--a shift in the way every American talks and thinks about the most pressing issue of our time.

troops leave, violence drops


As the deafening hubbub of propaganda drowns out every attempt to talk real policy change on Iraq, this simple descriptive formula--troops leave, violence drops--cuts through it all.

.............

The British pullout from Basra, and the subsequent logic of violence dropping as a result of that pullout, will change the debate again by reimposing a simple logic of up and down, in and out. To see that logic at work, take a look at this description of the British pullout that appeared recently in the International Harold Tribune:

Attacks against British and Iraqi forces have plunged by 90 percent in southern Iraq since London withdrew its troops from the main city of Basra, the commander of British forces there said Thursday.

The presence of British forces in downtown Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, was the single largest instigator of violence, Maj. Gen. Graham Binns told reporters Thursday on a visit to Baghdad's Green Zone.

"We thought, 'If 90 percent of the violence is directed at us, what would happen if we stepped back?'" Binns said.

Britain's 5,000 troops moved out of a former Saddam Hussein palace at Basra's heart in early September, setting up a garrison at an airport on the city's edge. Since that pullback, there's been a "remarkable and dramatic drop in attacks," Binns said.

(full article here http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/11/15/africa/ME-GEN... )


5,000 soldiers leave
90% drop in violence



On a much more profound and far-reaching level, however, it is the way the British pullout imposes a new logic pragmatism on the entire Iraq discussion that allows these statistics to connect strongly with Americans' sense of right and wrong, good and bad.

.............

The up-and-down-in-and-out logic of this description is more powerful than any protest argument about the war to date, and has an almost unlimited potential to sweep through both the broadcast media and face-to-face conversations that make up American political debate.

more at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-feldman/how-4-wor...
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gateley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
1. One word: Amen. nt
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:14 PM
Response to Original message
2. But...they were keeping the peace! Right?
That's why we have to stay! Right?

OUT. NOW. ALL.
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Inuca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
3. I am not so sure it can be generalized
Isn't Basra almost entirely shia? I am afraid it is more complex than that. Mind you, I am not saying that we should stay, just that the troops leaving does not necessarily imply that the violence will drop so significantly everywhere.
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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. My thoughts, too. Except that Basra was the scene of competing Shia militias
The Shiite factions were fighting each othe while the British were there. Once the Brits pulled back from daily patrols, the factions found it wiser to settle up disputes. There's still violence there, of course. It's reduced, not eliminated.

Obviously getting Shia and Sunni factions to quit killing each other is a different prospect. But that doesn't mean we can't derive lessons from the Basra example. The violence can be better managed by removing the 'babysitter' of western troops. There'd still be an uptick in violence in the Sunni Triangle area. But over the space of a few months, the factions would find a way to settle matters. It wouldn't be pretty, but there would be an endgame.

In theory.
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TwilightGardener Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:49 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. My thoughts as well--the various tribes can sort themselves out
as they see fit, without our interference. There will be fighting and violence, but that's the price we pay for invading and occupying--it's been going on since 2003, and will go on after we leave. Sadr's militia had also been in a stand-down--that's a factor that needs to be taken into consideration when assessing the situation in the south among the Shia factions.
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lyonn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 04:32 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. It looks like the same thing happened in Al Anbar province
We stepped aside and the locals started taking things into their own hands. No country wants another country stomping in, uninvited, and throw out their ruler, take over everything. It is only natural that they are fighting us and anyone that is working with us. Course we are dealing with bush logic. And sadly both Iraq and the U.S. must wait until an election to get any logical/smart people to try to undo this mess. How many will die because of George in the meantime?

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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. Yes and no. Actually we bribed Al Anbar leaders, gangsters actually, over to our side.
They're criminals, people who were outlaws and black market operators under Saddam's regime. Sort of a group of local mafiosi. To pacify Al Anbar, Patraeus more or less bought off the top guys (altho they were getting pretty fed up with al Qaeda too). A little bribery goes a long way, however, toward saving American lives--and ultimately Iraqi lives too.

Of course if we did that nation-wide, KBR, Exxon, and British Petroleum don't get as big a cut of the action (tho they would still profit somewhat).
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JustABozoOnThisBus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
4. Nine words that explain it (or Ten if you count contractions as two)
"That's because the Sadrist militia is all powerful here."

Al Sadr owns Basra in the same way that Hussein owned Iraq. Resistance is futile, even suicidal. So peace reigns, or a lid of terror is clamped on the area.

Other areas, where there are more "competitive" levels of militias, will probably have different results.

Even so, the resulting civil war is not our concern, we should just get the hell out of there. Too bad Kucinich is the only candidate who voices that view.

Good article, though, thanks for the link.
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leftrightwingnut Donating Member (434 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
5. Should we pull our troops out immediately?
This story puts a different perspective on the notion that a rapid pull-out would be a disaster for Iraq.

Such an argument is circular:

U.S. Troop Presence --> More Violence --> Must Keep Troops to Quell Violence
+--------------------------------------------------+

I sometimes wonder if Blackwater's real mission is to foster civil unrest so that we have an excuse to stay there.
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TwilightGardener Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I don't know if it was Blackwater, but I DO know the insurgency and
the appearance of AQ has certainly been good for keeping us there long enough to get some oil deals hammered out and a massive embassy built--we will only draw down our forces significantly when it's certain that the embassy will be safe and our "interests" and influence are secured.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 06:14 PM
Response to Original message
10. yes, but that will all depend on if the US press prints this or even mentions it.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 06:26 PM
Response to Original message
11. It's not the "International Harold Tribune" - it's the "International Herald Tribune"
Otherwise, a damned fine post and a damned good point.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 06:33 PM
Response to Original message
12. "Democrats Clinging To False Pragmatism" (no shit!)
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 06:38 PM by TahitiNut
Democrats Clinging To False Pragmatism

Despite the passion of the anti-occupation movement, and the majority of Americans who support U.S. troops leaving Iraq, the shift in policy has stalled.

The problem, however, has been that Democrats in Congress and the Senate have been clinging to what they claimed to be a pragmatic argument: that U.S. troops leaving Iraq would lead to more violence, therefore it was not practical.

The Basra story now shows that pragmatic argument pushed by so many Democrats on the hill to be false.

In a very short period of time, the non-ideological pragmatism of the Basra story--our troops leave, violence drops--will become the dominant logic through which Americans view Iraq. As the ground of the debate shifts, Democrats who continue to cling to the prior, false pragmatism (e.g., violence rises when troops leave) will find themselves making arguments tantamount to a political suicide.

The same will be true for Democratic presidential candidates--who will likely feel the effects of this debate earthquake in the next 24 to 72 hours.

In particular, top-tier Democratic candidates for President have each been advancing a pragmatism on Iraq that the Basra story now reveals as false. As a result, the ground will shift under their campaigns.

The Achilles' Heel of "pragmatism" is and always has been the delusional prognostication ... "they'll greet us with roses" and such. More atrocities have been committed in the false name of "pragmatism" than can be counted. Blind ideological zeal is NEVER principled.

The Basra result is exactly the kind of result that can be made possible by the Kucinich (and Network of Spiritual Progressives) plan for Iraq withdrawal. Choosing to act according to PRINCIPLES rather than
"pragmatism" is always correct.

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Disturbed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 07:34 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. The Busholini Regime's solution to this will be bringing in
US Troops so that the violence can be elevated, proving that the US must stay in Iraq to
keep the peace.
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