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May 30, 2008

A Question for John McCain
Posted by Moira Whelan

Given his current confusion over the number of troops in Iraq. I have a two part question for Senator McCain…

How many troops are in Afghanistan addressing America’s #1 security threat? How many troops was the Pentagon unable to send to Afghanistan due to the overburdening of the military in Iraq?

Hint: Ask Admiral Mullen.
Note to the McCain campaign: Present tense, please.


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Moira, do we really believe that OEF is tackling "America’s #1 security threat?"

Regardless of the sagacity of invading and occupying Iraq and its consequences for OEF, has not stabilizing OIF and that region replaced the Talibi/AQ threat as the most pressing facing the US and our allies?

Another question for McCain would be if he would support the new defense treaty that the Bush administraion is forcing the Iraqi government to sign even though the vast majority of the Iraqi population opposes it as well as the American people.

He's "forcing" the Iraqi cabinet to sign it? Ha! It's in the best interests of the weak, corrupt Da'wa-led government to sign in, in case Obama is elected and does what he threatens to do, which is rapidly exit from the nation.

Even Moqtada al-Sadr isn't pressing for Obama's timetable, only that there be one. He realizes that Iraq likely will be incapable of surviving its own pathologies (and those introduced from outside the republic) well past 2010.

Forcing. Oh, that was good for a laugh.

I have to come to this blog more often. Who knew it could be so entertaining?


Get back to the reality based community, if Sadr really wanted us to stay in Iraq there would be no demonstrations and even the moderate Sistani has come out against the deal. The treaty seen through the eyes of most of the of the Iraqis and the world is seen as nothing more than an neo-colonial attempt by the United States to impose its will upon the Iraqi people. When will rightwingers like yourself realize that the Iraqi people, witn the exception of the Kurds, do not want the Americans in Iraq.

Actually, Peace, I'm a lifelong Democrat. The last person I voted for was Nader, but that was in a "safe" state.

But thanks for the projection. It's about as valuable as your analysis of Iraq.

What al-Sadr has been saying has been that the US should leave. He has been very careful, however, to only ask for a formal timeline to be submitted to parliament.

He hasn't called for a specific timetable, nor for the US to leave quickly. When his allied political parties such as NICE were in the cabinet, this was the basic line.

I further reject occidental notions of "moderate." This is just lazy. If you wanted to say that Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani of the Najaf Hawza is a Quietist who rarely ventures into politics and yet fervently believes that someday the US should leave, but not too precipitously, then you might have a point.

On his blog (no, I doubt you even knew he had one, but it's quite popular throughout the Shiite diaspora), he has been very careful to not come out completely against the parties who are negotiating the security arrangement with the US (Da'wa and ISCI/Badr). So he's walking a fine line.

He's indicated to them that he would very much like for the US to say when it will leave, but he also knows that the parties most likely to support his status and his theology are those most entwined with the US.

As for "moderate," in the three southern provinces and much of East Baghdad, Moqtadr al-Sadr's OMS/NICE/JAM nexus and much of what others might consider a millenial Mahdism currently sweeping the south is the status quo.

Is this Mahdism that's not so closely aligned to the Najaf Hawza yet quite natural over many centuries in the south "radical?"

Well, maybe to al-Sistani it is, but not several million Shiites.

Basically, what ISCI, Da'wa, Allawi's bloc, the two Kurdish parties and the rising "Awakening" Sunni movement want from the US are:

1. The guarantee that the US will protect them from outsiders (the best case scenario for Iraq being able to protect itself from foreign aggression is 2012, so they're seeking a concord similar to the ones we already have with Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, KSA and, through NATO, Turkey);

2. Some help on debt relief (the US is trying to broker $100 billion in loan forgiveness for Iraq dating back to the 1990-91 war; it's mostly owed to KSA, Kuwait and, believe it or not, the UN) and the end to the five percent surcharge on all oil sales;

3. Continued coordination and funding of ISF. The only reason al-Maliki has even been able to achieve the gains he has against a range of Shi'i insurgents and AQIZ/Sunni Arab militants has been because of US communications, surveillance, armor and air power. Without it, Iraq can't defend itself and can't even police the strife within its borders. The "Awakening" also would like the US to use its influence to speed up the number of Sunni Arab volunteers to the ISF. This quota hasn't been filled in a timely fashion by the Da'wa-led government.

It's not really a question of what the Iraqis want. Every Iraqi, including the Kurds, wouldn't mind seeing the US leave Iraq. The US wants to leave Iraq.

It's a question of how, when and the consequences of those two salient points. The joke, in Arabic, on the streets of Baghdad right now are that all Iraqis want to vote for McCain.

Not because they admire his warmongering speeches, or even like him as a human being. They want him to win so that the US doesn't abandon Iraq to a bitter civil war.

But this is something Obama and McCain both have been fibbing about to their bases.

McCain knows that troop numbers in OIF must come down. We no longer have the military capable of keeping numbers necessary to prosecute "Surge"-like campaigns. So if he wins election, he will have to tell his base that the drawdown must begin, with a timetable that will be coordinated with the Iraqis.

But Obama also has been less than truthful. He's campaigned on the silly notion that he will pull out a BCT per month through 2010, leaving only a spare force in Baghdad to protect the embassy and perhaps a small force (30,000 or so) to fight against "terrorism."

First, conditions in Iraq might not allow such a haphazard reduction. Second, it is unlikely that one could provide the proper LOCs and force protection necessary to support 30,000 or so.

He's going to have to level with his base once he gets into office, too.

This should be recorded now, because I figure around mid-2009 this blog will begin to fire broadsides about how critics should understand that Obama couldn't possibly withdraw one BCT per month, that there are interests we must protect in Iraq, that we must listen to the democratically elected leaders in Baghdad, blah, blah, blah.

Thus ends your tutorial in Iraq 101.

I now must get back to my "rightwing" and "neocolonial" mission of deposing dictators, enforcing the foreign policy goals my democracy asks me to do and otherwise protecting the Constitution to which I've pledged, by sacred oath, my life.


You are are hypocritical for calling me lazy in research while you have not given any of opinion poll to prove your point that most of the Iraqis support our occupation of Iraq. You konw it is really simple to find that information out, the only thing that you have to do is to google Iraqi opinion poll. So I typed Iraqi opinion poll and according to one on only 21% of the Iraq population supports the presence of Iraqi troops in Iraq. I surprise that you haven't looked up this information yourself considering the fact that a lazy simpleton like myself could find it. Since you are so misinformed about Iraq and support a 100 year occupation you make an excellent John McCain Republican.


I meant American instead of Iraqi troops in Iraq after the words presence of.

Dear Peace (which must be a new means of suggesting "dolt"), I made no reference to any of the myriad (and contradicting) public opinion polls surveying Iraqi peoples.

Had I done so, however, I would have managed a better job than your most recent hapless performance. What one notices from the polls lately has been two mutually enforcing positions: Iraqis want US troops to leave; they don't want them to leave so soon that it would lead to a resumption of the ethnic strife that brought the nation to civil war from 2005-2007.

I have made no references furthermore to a "100 year occupation" or anything about John McCain except the joke on the streets of Baghdad that plays on the irony of even the most hardcore insurgent trusting his crazy foreign policy as caricatured during his primary campaign compared to that of Obama.

In reality, most Iraqis don't have a substantive perspective on either candidate. They just worry about the sudden withdrawal of US troops causing what most people would agree would become the humanitarian catastrophe of his generation of Middle Easterners.

Which is saying something.

Instead, what I have made some reference to is an obvious fluency in Arabic, longtime experience in Iraq itself and a certain amount of humility when it comes to paraphrasing what complex social movements within complex multicultural nations are like.

You could use a tad bit more humility to leaven your painful ignorance of Iraq. You don't strike me as the sort to muster any new attempt to gather facts or read subject matter expertise, so perhaps its best that you wallow in your ignorance.

At least it will make you feel smug.


Show me the opinion polls or surveys that support your position. If you don't have any evidence to support your position than you really should not make any statements such as the Iraqi people want us to stay in Iraq and the fact that you state that you somehow know Arabic and therefore I should not question your opinion is ludricous. Middle Eastern experts such as Bernard Lewis got the United States in the Iraq War, so the fact that you know Arabic doesn't really qualify your position as the defintive one about Iraq. However, Ilan Goldenberg, who also knows Arabic and the delicate political situation in Iraq, you seem to constantly mock his positions on Iraq, even though Ilan, unlike you, uses facts and figures to support his positions.

I hereby submit to Ilan's longtime experience in Iraq itself, a nation in which he's lived for good chunks of his adult life dating back to 1990-91.

In particular, the wisdom he's gleaned as a "national security" expert while conducting combat operations in Iraq has been most interesting and informative.

Oh, wait. Nevermind...

Well, I guess his Arabic might be OK. It doesn't seem to inform his breathless analysis of OIF, but I'll concede that it's probably pretty good. I've always thought that he should use Iraqi press reports to buttress some of his opinions (many of which I actually agree with).

Since you asked...

The most recent polled sponsored by the major media tracking opinions of the Iraqi public found in March that a large majority dislike having foreign troops in their country, but only 38 percent want an immediate withdrawal of American forces.

Of these Iraqis (note, some suggested that the poll was weighted too heavily with Sunni Arabs), 62 percent said that security was "very" or "quite" good.

Asked when the US should leave, 38 percent said "now." But 35 percent said that US forces should stay "until security is restored," 14 percent until the "Iraqi government is stronger," 10 percent "until the Iraqi Security Forces can operate independently," 3 percent "longer but leave eventually," and 1 percent to "never leave."

In other words, the vast majority believes that US troops shouldn't go now, but sometime in the future, depending on a set of variables that haven't been reached (security restored, stronger central government and ISF).

You can go to Q22 at

So, Iraqis are of two minds: The majority believes that US troops should go, even that US troops are making the situation worse! But the majority inexplicably doesn't think the US should go now or, apparently, any time soon.

This has been replicated in internam MNF-I polls and is nothing new. Except to you.

You're welcome.

You know, Peace, I owe you an apology. I just reread the tone I used on this thread. It was too acerbic and you didn't deserve that.


You know, Peace, I owe you an apology. I just reread the tone I used on this thread. It was too acerbic and you didn't deserve that.

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