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Iraq - a big waste of money or worth all those lives, money and time?


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Seeing what's happening in Iraq now, I feel like all this work we've spent on the country has been a big waste. I spent the night going back and trying to read some things I posted back in '03 and earlier. It'll pretty much be the same in Afghanistan as well.

 

Vietnam was better spent money compared to what we got out of Iraq. I mean the loss of a dictator may have been a great goal but now with ISIS and links with Syria and Iran I think we just weakened a bad part of the world.

 

What do you think now?

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Ive come to the conclusion that the people in this region have to be ruled by a dictator in order to keep order. Democracy is not in their DNA. The U.S. has destabolized the region more and we have lost too much in soldiers and money to warrent bailing out Iraq again.

 

I supported the invasion back in 03. I stopped supporting it when we set time tables for withdraw. That rang the dinner bells for the radicals. You never do that!

 

Its embarassing to see a little group of thugs like ISIS take control like this. That is how poorly trained the Iraqi army is and its pathetic.

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Guest El Chalupacabra

Ive come to the conclusion that the people in this region have to be ruled by a dictator in order to keep order. Democracy is not in their DNA. The U.S. has destabolized the region more and we have lost too much in soldiers and money to warrent bailing out Iraq again.

 

I supported the invasion back in 03. I stopped supporting it when we set time tables for withdraw. That rang the dinner bells for the radicals. You never do that!

 

Its embarassing to see a little group of thugs like ISIS take control like this. That is how poorly trained the Iraqi army is and its pathetic.

 

 

But that's the thing, they aren't poorly trained. They are poorly motivated, and some shouldn't have been allowed to enlist in the first place. They were trained by the US, and the US spent billions arming and training them. The problem is, most of them are not invested in that country, some are essentially illiterate, some aren't even Iraqi. I have a friend who was over there during 2005-2006, and later Afghanistan, an MP officer, and his job was to train the Iraqis on police/military tactics, and he said a lot of them were simply unmotivated and many were dumb as rocks. They were there for just the money. then as well as now, as soon as they hit any kind of resistance, the threw down their weapons and tore off their uniforms while running the other way.

 

The thing is, I don't think even if we said we would be there indefinitely back in the day things would ever be fixed. In fact Bush administration said we could be there decades, and only after people getting pissed about that, did some time table emerge. The problem with Iraq is it essentially used to be 3 smaller countries, and was formed into modern day Iraq after WW1 by the allies. It has basically been held together by dictators ever since. I think what will probably happen is sooner or later, Iraq will become 3 countries again: a Kurdish state (which Turkey will hate to see happen and may even try to prevent from happening), a Sunni State (allied with Syria/or maybe ISIS will be a reality), and a Shia state (allied with Iran).

 

I mean there is no point in pointing blame at this stage. Many predicted this result, but weren't listened to. You can't turn this into a blame Bush thing though, because a lot of dems voted for the action, as well, including John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. We already went there. That's reality whether you agreed with that or not. We already tried helping for over 8 years to rebuild Iraq. I think as far as the goal of removing Saddam, we achieved that goal, but then the US military was given a task that it simply really isn't designed to do: nation build.

 

The US military made the attempt anyway (along with contractors), and did the best they could, and at least while the US military was still there, Iraq stabilized for the most part. We spent almost $2 Trillion in Iraq alone, when we have people here that live in 3rd world conditions, and no I am not talking about 3rd generation welfare recipients who are just mooching off the system, it IS a shame we basically wasted that money. But at some point the Iraqis had to stand up and do things for themselves. If they won't do it, why should we? Personally, I think if we were there 16 years, or 30 years, instead of 8.5 it probably would have been the same result. If we go in now, we probably could drive out ISIS (formerly al-Qaida in Iraq.) a group so radical even Al Qaeda didn't want them, but then what? I think we'd be in the same situation all over again, if we went back in with troops, cleaned things up and left and some other radical group does the same thing.

 

At what point does one say ENOUGH of an attempt HAS been done and it is a failed policy and a waste of money to continue further? If the Iraqis couldn't get it the first time around, then we have no business going back in there a second time, and re-invade with ground troops.

 

Now I am not saying make no attempt at all, but I think the best we can do is maybe humanitarian aid, military advisers, (the first two are actually being done now) and maybe even offer air support (cruise missiles, UAV strikes and reconnaissance, and maybe AC130 gunship support) to ground troops who are actually trying to stand up to ISIS. All done until it is determined it is or isn't making a difference. If not, then stop even that support. But US ground troops re-invading Iraq. No, I don't support that, at all, and I don't want to see any type of mission creep.

 

It'll pretty much be the same in Afghanistan as well.

 

 

Yeah, unfortunately, I think it will very much be the same result. The collapse won't be as big, but eventually Afghanistan and Pakistan will devolve back to pre-US involvement.

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For the majority of the country, I think we could pretty much agree that Iraq will ultimately boil down to a waste of money, equipment, and life. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and a decade ago when our populace is being lied to about "proof of WMD's" it made the case to invade seem much more sensible.

 

Now for those members of the 1% that are heavily invested in the stocks and private equity of the industrial military complex (weapons manufacturers, etc.), for them it certainly wasn't wasted money. It was a very effective transfer of wealth from the nation's coffers (actually debt issuance) to their private bank accounts.

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Guest El Chalupacabra

For the majority of the country, I think we could pretty much agree that Iraq will ultimately boil down to a waste of money, equipment, and life. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and a decade ago when our populace is being lied to about "proof of WMD's" it made the case to invade seem much more sensible.

 

Now for those members of the 1% that are heavily invested in the stocks and private equity of the industrial military complex (weapons manufacturers, etc.), for them it certainly wasn't wasted money. It was a very effective transfer of wealth from the nation's coffers (actually debt issuance) to their private bank accounts.

Here's some irony for you

http://online.wsj.com/articles/sunni-extremists-in-iraq-occupy-saddams-chemical-weapons-facility-1403190600

 

Long story short, the al-Muthanna complex was where damaged or old chemical weapons were stockpiled. The devices there were so unstable the US left them alone, rather than risk moving or handling them.

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For the Iraqi people life sure would've been a lot more stable under Saddam. Pretty sure nothing really good has come out of any of this for anyone. Save the 1% that EVO mentioned who got rich out of it.

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Jesse Ventura says it best in this video bellow. This is more a religious civil war where they have to work out the problem themselves. US should stop trying to be the world police and just concern themselves about what's going on in their own yard.

 

One thing I pointed out even before the Iraq invasion started was that Saddam kept all the radicals in check. Once he was overthrown, it's like the wild west all over again but 1000 times worst. Iraq was flourishing before the invasion.

 

One other thing that stuck to me was where Jesse stated that, Christopher Columbus had risked falling off the earth 500 years ago, then having to go through the Middle East to get to Asia.

 

 

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One other thing that stuck to me was where Jesse stated that, Christopher Columbus had risked falling off the earth 500 years ago, then having to go through the Middle East to get to Asia.

 

 

Which is ridiculously, incredibly, monumentally stupid. Columbus seriously underestimated the circumference of the Earth, figured he could reach Asia by going west, and was lucky to find land about where he expected it to be. He was not out to "avoid" the Middle East.

 

Ventura wasn't a terrible governor for Minnesota, but he's hardly an expert on history or international relations. He's a blowhard with a different shtick than the rest of them.

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Guest El Chalupacabra

 

 

One other thing that stuck to me was where Jesse stated that, Christopher Columbus had risked falling off the earth 500 years ago, then having to go through the Middle East to get to Asia.

 

 

Which is ridiculously, incredibly, monumentally stupid. Columbus seriously underestimated the circumference of the Earth, figured he could reach Asia by going west, and was lucky to find land about where he expected it to be. He was not out to "avoid" the Middle East.

 

Ventura wasn't a terrible governor for Minnesota, but he's hardly an expert on history or international relations. He's a blowhard with a different shtick than the rest of them.

 

Actually it ISN'T ridiculously, incredibly, monumentally stupid.

 

While it is true that Columbus did underestimated the circumference of the Earth, Europeans WERE in fact trying to find another trade route, because of the Ottoman Turks.

 

Under the Mongol Empire, there existed what was call the Silk Road, a trade route (the one Marco Polo used) between Europe and China and India. When Constantinople fell in 1453, this route was disrupted and very dangerous for Europeans to travel, because the Ottoman Turks controlled part of the territory the Silk Road went through.

 

This meant that if the Silk Road wasn't viable, the Europeans had to sail to Asia, which required them to sail all the way around Africa, along the coast of Arabia (Arabs at that time had been sailing to Asia for centuries, and controlled some of the shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean), and along the Indian Coast, to get to China.

 

Columbus borrowed from the work of Ptolemy, an ancient Greek scientist and mathematician, who had calculated the Earth to be spherical. Columbus determined based on Ptolemy's work that it might actually be shorter to sail West, rather than around Africa. Unfortunately for Columbus, Ptolemy's calculations were off by about 12000 miles!

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I dont think you get it. Winston Churchill said it best a long time ago about radicals in the middle east.

 

"They do not measure sucess by years but by decades." Or something along those lines. The enemy we face there are fighting long term whereas we are a quick short term mentality.

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I dont think you get it. Winston Churchill said it best a long time ago about radicals in the middle east.

 

"They do not measure sucess by years but by decades." Or something along those lines. The enemy we face there are fighting long term whereas we are a quick short term mentality.

I dont think you get it. Winston Churchill said it best a long time ago about radicals in the middle east.

 

"They do not measure sucess by years but by decades." Or something along those lines. The enemy we face there are fighting long term whereas we are a quick short term mentality.

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Guest El Chalupacabra

I see. Well, making policy based on what Christopher Columbus did 500+ years ago is clearly the best possible approach. It definitely wasn't a non sequitur. Nope. Not at all.

Maybe not the best policy today, maybe it is. Or somewhere in between. But at least we've identified the blowhard who couldn't be bothered to Google something I learned in the 8th grade before shooting their proverbial mouth off.

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I see. Well, making policy based on what Christopher Columbus did 500+ years ago is clearly the best possible approach. It definitely wasn't a non sequitur. Nope. Not at all.

I think the point I was trying to make was the US has NO business making policies in other countries. Are you surprised by the reactions of the "terrorists"?

 

Let's see, I think Canada should make it policy, for our security to fly drones all over the US. Yes, lets make that our policy. pfft.

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I see. Well, making policy based on what Christopher Columbus did 500+ years ago is clearly the best possible approach. It definitely wasn't a non sequitur. Nope. Not at all.

Maybe not the best policy today, maybe it is. Or somewhere in between. But at least we've identified the blowhard who couldn't be bothered to Google something I learned in the 8th grade before shooting their proverbial mouth off.

 

I apologize for not having specialized in 15th century politics and economics, which is clearly your forte. Thank you for enlightening me. It's clear that you and your specialized knowledge of that era means you are the best blowhard to educate the rest of us on understanding 21st century politics and economics. :yes:

 

Anyway, avoiding a land route was faster, whomever controlled the territory of what we call the Middle East. It could take up to a year to cross the Silk Road at that time, whereas Columbus sailed the Atlantic in about 5-6 weeks. So anyone could travel about faster by water than by land. That advantage certainly seems like a good reason to sail rather than walk. I imagine the spices and other goods returned would be easier to carry in a ship or ships (and would certainly haul larger volumes) than on a pack of animals (camels, horses, asses, whatever).

 

As always, physics is the real answer to any question. :thumbsup:

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Guest El Chalupacabra

 

I apologize for not having specialized in 15th century politics and economics, which is clearly your forte.

Actually, 15th century politics and econ is not my forte, but you should apologize to everyone in this thread for derailing it.

 

 

Thank you for enlightening me.

Apparently, you are in need of it. Mastering the Google search PRIOR to making yourself look like an ass is still something you have yet to learn. Which is sad, since you claim to have PhD in physics. Do you verify your calculations and write your papers prior to publishing them with the same sloppiness? Look genius, all I was doing was pointing out the fact that you stated Ventura was "ridiculously, incredibly, monumentally stupid" for stating that the reason Columbus was sailing West to avoid the Middle East. It was, in fact, true, and, as I pointed out, that was something that you could have searched online in 3 seconds and verified, and you don't even need a PhD to do it. Instead, you made an assumption, and now you look ridiculous.

 

 

whereas Columbus sailed the Atlantic in about 5-6 weeks.

But that is if conditions were ideal, and mind you, that was one way across the Atlantic Ocean. During the Age of Discovery, up until pretty much the invention of steam engines, each voyage was unique. There were a number of factors that depended on weather (something they couldn't predict back then, wind, etc), crew (experience, loyalty, motivation, whether anyone died), route (unknown hazards were always popping up, and course would have to be altered), and speed of the ship (top speed was 8-10 MPH). It wasn't uncommon back then for 2 ships leaving the same location at the same time to arrive weeks apart. But again, that is something you could have easily discovered for yourself, had you taken a little time to search it online.

 

 

So anyone could travel about faster by water than by land.

Are you sure about that? Do you have any idea how freaking large the continent of Africa is, or how long it would take someone travelling from Europe in the 15th century to sail all the way around it (because the Suez Canal didn't yet exist) to get to China?

 

 

As always, physics is the real answer to any question

 

No, it isn't. Physics is but one of many courses of study, and is merely a tool to solve problems. But here's something you might understand, Newton's 3rd Law: "...each action has an equal and opposite reaction."

 

Back ON topic: while I didn't agree with everything Ventura said, he WAS correct that Iraq is unstable due to the military intervention of the US, and were the US to take action now, it likely would do little to stabilize Iraq. He is correct that for each military action by the US in the Middle East, it does create a means to recruit terrorists, but the problem is if we do nothing at all, that emboldens existing terrorists, and is also a means of recruitment.

 

Personally, I think the US should largely stay out of that conflict and not re-invade Iraq, but there is also no denying the fact that the situation that exists now is directly as a result of the military intervention by the US, and there is a certain amount of obligation for the US to take some kind of action. This is really a no win scenario for the US, in my view, but I stand by my earlier statement that I believe the US should be sending humanitarian aid and military advisers to assist what's left of the legitimate government of Iraq repel ISIS and keep ISIS from capturing more land and assets and committing atrocities. I think that is the moral thing to do, anyway. Air support offered by the US may or may not be effective, but if it were determined by the Pentagon that it was the right call, I would support that.

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So, what is your forte, Chalup? I've no idea what you do specialize in, so I don't know when you're offering something I can learn from. If you're an historian, then teach me. I love history. If you're merely claiming to be a better "Googler" than me, I feel sorry for you. Surely you can do more than just read the results from a search engine. But fine, my apologies to everyone for allowing the thread to take a tangent. I'd take it to PM with you, Chalup, but you've not responded to my last PM yet. Your lack of response does not inspire confidence in your desire to really communicate.

Apparently, you are in need of it. Mastering the Google search PRIOR to making yourself look like an ass is still something you have yet to learn. Which is sad, since you claim to have PhD in physics. Do you verify your calculations and write your papers prior to publishing them with the same sloppiness?



No, I have a PhD in geophysics. And I do not spend weeks preparing posts for Nightly the way I do for scientific communications. I do try to write well, and will spend time on a post if I think it deserves the attention. But if I only wrote for Nightly the way I write for scientific publication, this place would be quieter than it already is! How much time do you spend writing posts for this board? I appreciate that you at least go to the trouble of using correct spelling and grammar, which is more than many people bother doing.

Look genius, all I was doing was pointing out the fact that you stated Ventura was "ridiculously, incredibly, monumentally stupid" for stating that the reason Columbus was sailing West to avoid the Middle East. It was, in fact, true, and, as I pointed out, that was something that you could have searched online in 3 seconds and verified, and you don't even need a PhD to do it. Instead, you made an assumption, and now you look ridiculous.



Look, person-of-average-intelligence, all I was saying that Ventura was saying stupid things. It's what he does. I was there when he was Governor of Minnesota. I watched him say stupid things for four years. I'm familiar with the man and his penchant for spouting pseudo-smart BS. It went from amusing to annoying quickly. He brought up Columbus when it had no bearing on the topic. Ventura's a pundit with a different shtick than the others. He's not intelligent or insightful except when the stopped-clock phenomenon applies to his utterances. I mean, so what if Columbus was avoiding the Ottoman Turks. They're not there anymore, so surely the logical course of action then is to go right through the Middle East now, right? It's safe now, because the Ottoman Empire is gone. Hooray!

Are you sure about that? Do you have any idea how freaking large the continent of Africa is, or how long it would take someone travelling from Europe in the 15th century to sail all the way around it (because the Suez Canal didn't yet exist) to get to China?




Are you saying you think that walking across Asia is faster than sailing around Africa?


No, it isn't. Physics is but one of many courses of study, and is merely a tool to solve problems. But here's something you might understand, Newton's 3rd Law: "...each action has an equal and opposite reaction."



I doubt you really understand Newton's third law. Impress me with your understanding of basic physics, please. So many people don't really get what Newton's third law really means.

Back ON topic: My general take on the question is that it's only a waste of money if you didn't get what you wanted from spending it. What was it we wanted by spending all that money invading and subduing Iraq? We got rid of Hussein. If that's all we wanted, then it wasn't a waste. Did we spend more than we really had to? It certainly looks like it now. If we revise our goals, have we spent enough money to establish a stable democratic regime? No. A stable, Western-style democratic republic is not easily established there. The intertwined nature of law and religion makes it difficult to separate a nation-state's legal infrastructure from the deeply established religious belief structure of that culture. If we do want to establish a mirror of the US there, it will take much longer, many more decades and many more billions of dollars. If we want to build a "free and democratic Iraq" then we've not wasted money at all - we've not finished investing sufficient funds to accomplish the job! But there comes a time when we must walk away from our losses rather than compound them by throwing more money and troops in with the hope of "winning" eventually.

What do we want Iraq to be? That'll tell us whether our efforts there are a waste or not.

 

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Answer to the question depends on what the objective was. Let's say it was to bring a stable, liberal democracy into the region. Well, I don't think I need to explain to anyone how foolish that is, and for one simple reason:

 

Let me be absolutely clear here so there is no doubt what I'm saying. Islamic society is inferior to the West, is barbaric and primitive. Western civilization is, simply put, better.

Unfortunately, Islamic Civilization is stuck back in the 1300s. Other civilizations seemed to have "gotten" it- e.g. East Asia, South Asia, parts of Latin America, etc. Whenever I travel to Tokyo, Singapore, etc. I don't see homosexuals being beheaded, instead I see skyscrapers and wealthy, pleasant people. Why can't the Mid-East be like this? It's because of Islam.

 

Now let's say the objective was something different. Now it becomes less clear. Let's say the objective was national security. On one hand obviously there were never WMDs, so the war had little to do with national security in that sense. But on the other hand, the war did provide a battleground and focal point that drew in practically every terrorist in the region. A lot of key terrorists were captured and many more were killed on a site away from US soil. In other words, it drew all the terrorists and potential terrorists into one area to fight it out while the US stayed essentially out of harm's way. I think those objectives were met, but whether the objectives were worth the money and lives lost is a different question altogether and a very difficult one to answer.

 

Now let's say the objective was something else completely- say economic. Sure, the war did cost a lot on the surface, but a lot of those costs were recycled back into the economy. Essentially the war was a giant stimulus/government spending package, just in the warfare economy (as opposed to social spending). An example- the MRAP project. The project cost upwards of $50 billion- and the project probably would have never happened if not for the need for a vehicle to survive IEDs due to Iraq. MRAPs are made by mostly American companies, such as General Dynamics, Oshkosh Truck and Textron. So to say the MRAP cost $50 billion is, while true, somewhat misleading because that $50 billion went back into the US economy and probably ended up with primarily middle class consumers, not to mention how many people were employed in factories, etc. One thing about the defense industry is it's one of the last true manufacturing industries in the US, if not the very last. Basically defense products are the only thing that are still made in the US, and not China. So, sure, the war was expensive, but it was expensive in the same way that welfare is expensive.. they're both big government programs, just in one case you have money flowing to manufacturers and employing people, and with the other, you have it flowing to.. well, you know.. poors.

 

Again, the question then becomes whether the subsequent increase in the deficit was too much of a cost.. in other words, was the juice worth the squeeze, and like the national security premise.. the answer is very difficult to determine.

 

 

 

Finally, pavonis and Chalup- I've tried reading over your conversation.. and.. just.. what in the f-ck are you guys talking about?

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Good economics points. People forget that we had to supply the war and that did help keep American's in jobs.

 

I still feel like it was a hopeless waste though. I have former students that serve now. The only American soldier death that was really close to me was a cousin on my Dad's side that was special forces that died there. I can't imagine what mothers and fathers would think as they watch these silly people fight over religion that their son died for.

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Well, again, it depends on what the objective is. If the objective was to create a western-style democracy, well then sure, it was pretty much hopeless from the beginning. But to say it was a hopeless waste altogether obfuscates the fact that there may have been other objectives that were met and then the question becomes whether those objectives were worth the costs. As I explained above, those are much more difficult questions to answer.

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To answer the thread title's question: yes.

 

The logical part of my brain says the only way to impose civilization on the region is to conquer them with absolutely ruthless means. Complete and utter subjugation.

“Crush your enemy totally… a feared enemy must be crushed completely. If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.”
Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power: 15

 

Not really the American way, but the only realistic way to stomp out the embers in the region.

I am not proposing that, by the way. If I was smart enough to come up with a solution to the Middle East, I wouldn't be sitting here typing on an internet forum.

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