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The Atlantic always has some interesting pictures in its “In Focus” series. This time it’s all about the draw-down in Iraq, with American soldiers leaving for home and leaving behind a country that probably should have been left alone in the first place. It’s interesting to see how much has changed since we invaded a decade ago.

See the article here.

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  1. We tried leaving it alone. Remember the 1990s? Saddam was launching missiles at Americans enforcing the no-fly zone. That’s an act of war. And yet we patted him on the head and said, “There, there, that’s a naughty boy. Don’t do that again, or we’ll pat you on the head some more.” And some folks in Afghanistan observed this and said to themselves, “America is clearly weak. If we hit them hard enough, they’ll simply cave in to our demands.” And in 2001, they did.

    Saddam had to be removed. It should have happened much earlier, but the needfulness of a thing doesn’t change just because it’s been put off. In fact, it becomes more critical with time.

    • I do remember the 1990’s – I don’t recall any “pats on the head” even in the metaphorical sense. NATO forces did carry out air & cruise missile strikes against Iraqi anti-air weapons & in response to no-fly zone violations.

      Did Saddam Hussein need to be removed? Arguably, yes. But did the U.S. need to do it? Because of WMD’s, which have since been proven did not exist?

      • Isolated and restrained strikes that don’t threaten the leader are the equivalent of pats on the head. It was absolutely necessary to remove that man from power. In foreign affairs, respect is international currency, possibly the only one that matters. Even our “friends” didn’t deal with us honestly, as we discovered after invading Iraq only to find that the French and Germans had been dealing with Saddam under the table the whole time. The U.S. now has credibility it has not had since the fall of the cold war. Our friends and enemies alike know we won’t crumble, which is not something they believed before. If we invest that wisely, we can transform the world for the better.

    • So a bunch of Arabs crashed planes into the WTC because we didn’t vaporize Iraq in the early 90s? I call bullshit. The American Empire has been stuck in Mideast wars for 10 years now. Perhaps it’s time to quit the war cheerleading. Even Krauthammer the neokwan admitted defeat.

      • Mideastern governments have had American troops up in their business for 10 years now. This decade has changed the politics of that part of the world for the next 100 years. And if it changes for the next 100 years, that will have implications for the next 1,000.

        Krauthammer’s an idiot who only takes a position because it’s gets him in good with his chosen side. He has no long view. Then again, neither do most Americans, so he fits right in.

    • Foreign (American) war planes invading Iraq’s airspace was an act of war. Sadam shooting at them was a act of self defense. And it looks like someone didnt read Bin Laden’s letter, it spelled out the reasons why he took down the WTC.

      • No, it’s not an act of war when you’ve signed a cease-fire. Saddam was a defeated enemy. That’s like saying that enforcing Federal law in a Southern state is an act of war. I guess some might see it that way, but that war was fought, and the South lost. Saddam fought, and he lost. The fact that we had to refight that war to make him live by his agreements is downright shameful, and Islamic societies are very big on saving face. The fact that America allowed itself to be mocked in that way by one of its defeated enemies gave its other enemies the mistaken impression that it could be pushed beyond any limit.

        They were wrong. But so were all of those who thought that Saddam could just be left alone, contained, with no side effects.

        • Wow, sending fighters over another country with the intended purpose of shooting down the native military aircraft isnt an act of war?

          I’m pretty sure the people in Little Rock AK durring the 1950s thought it was an act of war when the 101st Airborne was used to forcibly integrate the schools, armed with rifles. Even more so because their National Guard was placed under federal control.

          All socities are big on saving face.

          “The fact that we had to refight that war to make him live by his agreements is downright shameful”. He was defeated? Really? I’m pretty sure he stayed in power long after the Gulf War. The reason we didnt kill him the first time is because they knew we couldnt effectively control Iraq, as has been demonstrated over the past several years. Guess what, we lost again, and were leaving again, after 10 years of throughly pissing off the entire region.

          You sir are American exceptionalism at its finest.

        • …the native military aircraft that were not supposed to be flying at all in the UN-mandated no-fly zones. Which were set up to prevent further acts of genocide by Saddam.

          Sorry, but there are consequences to starting a war and then losing. There are consequences to acts of genocide. Those consequences include a loss of sovereignty.

          You are the American exceptionalist here. You – and other “Blame America Firsters” – always worry about what America is doing to piss off the rest of the world, but never seem to consider what the rest of the world is doing to piss off America. If the U.S. was ruled by a genocidal dictator, I’d certainly want foreign jets flying over our territory, attempting to stop it. That’s not exceptionalism, that’s one standard for all.

        • lol like the US gives a shit about genocide. if we did, we would be occupying half of Africa. I mean christ, our country was founded on the genocide of the native americans. And if you listen to the same NGOs who complained about Sadam’s genocide, our ‘collateral damage’ makes his genocide look like childs play.Do you even know the definition of American Exceptionalism? I swear to god either your speaking a different language, or simply too stupid to insult.

    • I think life for the majority of US military personnel is generally pretty mundane.

      As has always been the case, a few soldiers in the Combat Arms and their associated support roles bear the brunt of the ‘action’ while most of the rest sit in the FOB fighting off boredom, loneliness and the ever-changing chickenshit of military life. The “tooth to tail” ratio of a modern military force is extraordinary – I’d say at least 10 to 1 if not 15 to 1 (that is, for every guy on the front line kicking in a door there are 10 to 15 guys stacking boxes in a warehouse, installing network cables in an office, standing guard in a tower or putting cover sheets on the TPS reports.)

      (Which, BTW, is not to slight or denigrate those jobs or to imply that they’re “safe” – mortar rounds and rockets don’t discriminate and snipers do take pot shots at guard towers. And without those 10 to 15 people in the “tail” it would be hard to get the beans, bullets and vehicles to that 1 guy on the front line pulling the trigger.)

      I’d guess a solid majority of those who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam had similar experiences.

  2. I always thought our operations in Iraq were pointless and expensive. Iraq is sort of like Yugoslavia. It is a pretend country. Saddam was similar to Tito in that he held the place together. After we pull out, I predict Iraq will splinter like Yugoslavia did.

  3. See Germany and Japan for how to properly defeat an enemy and rebuild a nation as an ally. Too bad few politicians and civilians have the stones to truly commit anymore.

    Good pics though.

  4. So THAT’S what a military rifle looks like. I almost didn’t recognize them without all the obligatory shit we civilians typically have hanging off of them.


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