Obama on ISIS: ‘Ideologies Are Not Defeated with Guns’

 

ObamaISISAfter meeting with military leaders today at the Pentagon, President Obama held a brief press conference on his administration’s ISIS policy. With head hung low and slumped shoulders, a graying Obama breezed through a statement that raised more questions than clarified America’s strategy:

OBAMA: This broader challenge of countering violent extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas and more attractive and more compelling vision. So the United States will continue to do our part by continuing to counter ISIL’s hateful propaganda, especially online. We’ll constantly reaffirm through words and deeds that we will never be at war with Islam. We are fighting terrorists who distort Islam and its victims are mostly Muslims.

We’re also going to partner with Muslim communities as they seek the prosperity and dignity they observe. And we’re going to expect those communities to step up in terms of pushing back as hard as they can in conjunction with other people of good will against these hateful ideologies, particularly when it comes to what we’re teaching young people.

Were they still around, Hitler, Saddam and Pol Pot would disagree that ideologies aren’t defeated with guns (Mussolini would add that a rope works too). Yet Obama continues to peddle the silly progressive fantasy that terrorists can be defeated by a particularly clever TED talk. Even presidential pal Bill Ayers favored tossing a bomb every so often; perhaps if lefty bombmakers would target our enemies instead of our troops, we could drop a few Weathermen cells in the Middle East.

Since Obama thinks this latest statement will buy him some time, let’s look back at his history on the Islamic State to better assess our progress in rolling back the barbaric tide.

January 2014

“I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.” Two days later, ISIS took Fallujah.

August 2014

After tens of thousands of Yazidis are trapped and starving: “I’ve, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there. Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive… As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.  And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.”

September 2014

After James Foley and Steven Sotloff are beheaded: “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”

February 2015

After Kayla Mueller is killed: “With our allies and partners, we are going to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group… Today, my administration submitted a draft resolution to Congress to authorize the use of force against ISIL.”

June 2015

When asked at the G7 Summit about the progress of his anti-ISIS efforts: “When a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people. We don’t yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis, as well, about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place. And so the details of that are not yet worked out.”

July 2015

“Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas and more attractive and more compelling vision. So the United States will continue to do our part by continuing to counter ISIL’s hateful propaganda, especially online.”

———-

It is obvious that President Obama has no clear strategy to defeat or degrade ISIS, but is instead attempting to run out the clock so he can leave this nightmare for his successor to deal with. Obama entered office with a To-Do List and, in his mind, he checked off the “End War in Iraq” box back in 2011. So he will dither and dance for the next year and a half instead of reassessing his juvenile understanding of geopolitics. Whenever ISIS has a military victory or lops off a few heads, he will issue a tepid non-statement to get the press off his back for another couple of months.

In the meantime, the Middle East will continue to bleed and the western capitals will continue to shudder.

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Looks like *somebody* has a case of the Mondays.

    • #91
  2. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: but they show life expectancy was ticking up somewhat

    Life expectancy started “picking up” since 2008. Thanks Obama ;)

    James Of England: But claiming that the economy isn’t doing well at over 10% growth is harder to support.

    It’s extremely easy to support by looking at Iraq’s GDP growth over time. By your same logic I could say that Saddam was a great leader since between 1996 and 1999 Iraqi GDP grew by multiple times that 10% a year.

    BTW, Iraq’s GDP grew at 10% a year after the US left. During the US occupation it grew at about 6%. And in 2006, it grew by more than 10%, despite it being one of the worst years.

    You’re arguing completely unconnected facts based on 1 data point.

    • #92
  3. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: You disparage AM radio as a source, but if you listened to it you would know that there are a plethora of strategies out there. Just about everyone running for the Presidency on the GOP side has them, as does Clinton (the Dem also rans don’t feel the same need). It’s true that there isn’t a unified front, but the strategies generally include giving more support to the Kurds, often directly

    So…same strategy as is now.

    The US is giving direct support to the Kurds.

    James Of England: Some want to send ground troops.

    Great. Go sell it to Congress and the American people.

    James Of England: Some want a dramatically escalated air assault.

    Great. Go find what to bomb.

    Again…these are tactical issues on how to prosecute an existing strategy.

    These are not strategies that differ with the current administration’s.

    • #93
  4. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: Alternatively, you could read the books by the candidates, including Rubio and Paul in particular. Or you could watch their speeches

    If I wanted to read books by children, I’d read a coloring book.

    Man With the Axe: Exactly. Your ad hominem (based on what, exactly?) says nothing about what people should think about how Obama handles national security issues. You create false equivalencies and somehow think that one must approve or disapprove of Bush’s decisions and Obama’s decisions in exact correspondence.

    My “ad hominem” is based on everything said here.

    Second, nowhere did I say that Bush or Obama are right or wrong.

    I’m pointing out that, in the exact same context, the exact same words and same strategy….are being portrayed in a positive or negative light purely on hypocritical reasons.

    If you’d said “Obama is just as bad/good as Bush”, I’d agree with you and move on.

    That’s not what anyone here has said (other than Zafar).

    • #94
  5. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    Ball Diamond Ball: Sorry, but I’m going to claim some special knowledge of what these men say and what it means in the real world.

    This, from a guy who says Obama supports ISIS.

    Yeah, thanks for proving my point.

    • #95
  6. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG:

    James Of England: Well, thank goodness we have a record on here. It’s comment #78 where you quote my claim (x>y) and call it a lie. You then go through ostensible problems with the numbers. I agree that you shouldn’t have claimed this indefensible slander, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t.

    Your statement that Iraq was a “success” and “safe” when the US left, is a lie. No two ways about it.

    That’s not what you quoted. You quoted my claim about relative violent death rates and claimed it was a lie. I rebutted on that point, and you explicitly doubled down on that point. Falsely.

    James Of England: You do finish by noting that you feel that 4k deaths a year isn’t victory, but that’s not a claim that I’m lying, it’s a claim that my values are wrong (unless you think that I secretly believe that it wasn’t a victory).

    Your statement that it was a “victory” is a lie. Again, no two ways about it.

    A  lie is when someone claims x while believing not-x. What is your basis for believing that I think that the Iraq war was not a victory?

    • #96
  7. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    PS: To further illustrate the fallacy of your argument, “tourism” increased by 70% from 2009 to 2014. And by “tourism” I mean the Shiite pilgrimage to Krabala and Najaf.

    Does this imply that the US withdrawal actually…helped…Iraq to get more tourism? Because that’s what the numbers actually show.

    That would be just as much an absurd argument as yours. Fortunately, I’m not making it (because actual…tourism…in Iraq could be counted on 2 sets of hands and feet, as the numbers never even cracked 500 people/year)

    You’re picking a number and then ignoring the trend.

    Worst, you’re picking a number reflecting a religious pilgrimage of Iranians, and claiming it a “success”. When in fact it is only indicative of who the real winner in Iraq was…Iran.

    • #97
  8. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: That’s not what you quoted. You quoted my claim about relative violent death rates and claimed it was a lie. I rebutted on that point, and you explicitly doubled down on that point. Falsely.

    Whatever I quoted, your statement isn’t going to become true on semantics.

    James Of England: A  lie is when someone claims x while believing not-x. What is your basis for believing that I think that the Iraq war was not a victory?

    Because I I suspect you’re intelligent enough to be able to distinguish between deaths by terrorism and deaths by homicide. And you’re intelligent enough to know that 4,000 deaths by terrorism/year is not…peaceful.

    • #98
  9. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG:

    James Of England: So, you might think that that last bit makes is plausible that you weren’t disputing the numbers. Happily, the record goes on. So, in comment #48 I disagreed with your claim about the numbers. You responded in #51, clarifying that you believe untrue things about the numbers and that you hence believe that my truthful claims about the numbers are lies.

    The numbers are the same in both cases: 4,000 dead due to terrorism per year.

    We didn’t dispute those numbers.

    You claim that that means “winning”, a “victory”, that Iraq is “safe”. That’s obviously not the case.

    I didn’t say that Iraq was safe, as you’ve put quote marks around twice. I’m not going to say that you’re lying, because I have no idea what’s going on in your head, but it’s not true.

    You then try to back up your argument by comparing it to…homicide rates in NOLA and St. Louis. Again, this is the equivalent of comparing car crash deaths with gang violence deaths in Detroit.

    Again, first a lie, then a false comparison.

    How do you feel you should try to contextualize levels of violence so that you can get a sense of how bad things are? Why do you believe that political killing is non-comparable to other kinds of killing? Car crashes are different from gang violence because they lack an intent to kill. Is there a similar gap for terrorists?

    • #99
  10. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    AIG

    James Of England: Alternatively, you could read the books by the candidates, including Rubio and Paul in particular. Or you could watch their speeches

    If I wanted to read books by children, I’d read a coloring book.

    Well argued!

    • #100
  11. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG:PS: To further illustrate the fallacy of your argument, “tourism” increased by 70% from 2009 to 2014. And by “tourism” I mean the Shiite pilgrimage to Krabala and Najaf.

    Does this imply that the US withdrawal actually…helped…Iraq to get more tourism? Because that’s what the numbers actually show.

    That would be just as much an absurd argument as yours. Fortunately, I’m not making it (because actual…tourism…in Iraq could be counted on 2 sets of hands and feet, as the numbers never even cracked 500 people/year)

    You’re picking a number and then ignoring the trend.

    Worst, you’re picking a number reflecting a religious pilgrimage of Iranians, and claiming it a “success”. When in fact it is only indicative of who the real winner in Iraq was…Iran.

    I don’t know where you’re getting your statistics from, but the World Tourist Organization thought that Iraq was getting upwards of a million international tourists a year for those years. I personally observed a fairly large number of them (I spent a lot of time at the airport; most of them came by land, quite a lot came in through Baghdad).

    It’s true that a lot of those visitors were Iranian. I’m not sure what the relevance of this is; Iranians being able to drink or pray in peace does no harm to America.

    It’s also true that a lot of tourism went on after the US left (although these stats don’t suggest an increase). In general, the Iraqi economy continued to improve after the US left. This doesn’t show that the US leaving caused the economy to improve, just that it didn’t prevent it (it grew while the US was present, too).

    • #101
  12. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG:

    James Of England: You disparage AM radio as a source, but if you listened to it you would know that there are a plethora of strategies out there. Just about everyone running for the Presidency on the GOP side has them, as does Clinton (the Dem also rans don’t feel the same need). It’s true that there isn’t a unified front, but the strategies generally include giving more support to the Kurds, often directly

    So…same strategy as is now.

    The US is giving direct support to the Kurds.

    There are air strikes, but it’s not providing arms etc. directly to Iraqi Kurds. If I was unclear, I apologized. I assumed a basic grasp of the issues.

    James Of England: Some want to send ground troops.

    Great. Go sell it to Congress and the American people.

    I’m not saying that this is the right course. I’m just saying that your suggestion that there weren’t different policies being proposed by conservatives was mistaken.

    James Of England: Some want a dramatically escalated air assault.

    Great. Go find what to bomb.

    Again…these are tactical issues on how to prosecute an existing strategy.

    These are not strategies that differ with the current administration’s.

    No, no, if any decision taken by the military is strategic, these are strategic decisions. It’s only if you elevate tactics to all questions more detailed than “do we oppose ISIS?” that this arises.

    AIG:

    James Of England: Alternatively, you could read the books by the candidates, including Rubio and Paul in particular. Or you could watch their speeches

    If I wanted to read books by children, I’d read a coloring book.

    It’s fine to be ignorant of the thoughts of the candidates, but if you don’t know their views it’s not honest to state what their views are. Particularly coming after you suggested that I shouldn’t get all my information about Iraq from AM radio, but should talk to professionals about it, it seems regrettable that you appear to have talked to so few professionals about it. When I talk to policy makers and other Iraq professionals, they often talk about the views of candidates. There is a plethora of ways that you could find this stuff out.

    Again, it’s fine to be ignorant, but if you don’t know if something’s true, it’s particularly obnoxious to accuse others of being ignorant or dishonest when they say that it is or is not true, and worse to take a pride in your ignorance after condemning it in others.

    • #102
  13. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    AIG: If you’d said “Obama is just as bad/good as Bush”, I’d agree with you and move on.

    Why would that be the case? That sounds like an awfully random thing to assume. Two presidents, one exactly as good as the other? Why can’t one be better and one worse, based on the decisions they actually made?

    • #103
  14. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG:

    James Of England: but they show life expectancy was ticking up somewhat

    Life expectancy started “picking up” since 2008. Thanks Obama ;)

    I’ve already said that I’m fine with Obama’s Iraq policy up to 2012. It was awful that he didn’t act in Syria, which would have saved Iraq, but while the vast bulk of the credit for the success of the Surge goes to Bush, some credit for Iraq’s continuing success should go to Obama, yes.

    James Of England: But claiming that the economy isn’t doing well at over 10% growth is harder to support.

    It’s extremely easy to support by looking at Iraq’s GDP growth over time. By your same logic I could say that Saddam was a great leader since between 1996 and 1999 Iraqi GDP grew by multiple times that 10% a year.

    When GDP is knocked down by a temporary calamity, it generally bounces back. Saddam’s administration saw an unusual number of those calamities, so it sees a phantom high growth rate. If you look at the date that Saddam took over Iraq (1979), Iraq had a GDP of $1,324/ capita in constant 2000 dollars. In 2002, it was at $1,818, for a total growth rate of 1.8%.

    Before Saddam, as far back as google’s data goes (only 11 years, admittedly), the growth rate was 6%. Splitting the post invasion numbers into three blocks, in 2004, the GDP was at $1,794, and increased to $1,941 in 2007, for a growth rate of 2.7%. This was a lot better than Saddam, but got still better for the next block; 2010 hit $2,145, for a growth rate of 3.4%. 2012 hit $2,478, for a growth rate of 7.68% real.

    You’ll note that in no stretch of years did Iraq fall to the level of Saddamite growth, but that it was in those post surge years that the growth really took hold. That’s what I meant by an uptick.

    BTW, Iraq’s GDP grew at 10% a year after the US left.

    I don’t believe this is true. I think that you’re thinking that the 2012 figure is for a year after the US left, but it’s actually the midpoint, not the end of the year, and the next year was less impressive.

    Still, what you think is true is consistent with my claim. I don’t argue that the US should have kept troops in Iraq. I argue that the US brought sufficient levels of peace for Iraq to prosper.

    During the US occupation it grew at about 6%. And in 2006, it grew by more than 10%, despite it being one of the worst years.

    It’s true that individual years are noisy with this sort of thing, but my claim that there was an improvement in the economy toward the end isn’t based on an outlier. The whole post-invasion period has been one of considerable growth, and that growth has accelerated.

    You’re arguing completely unconnected facts based on 1 data point.

    I’ve given multi-hour presentations on the topic of Iraqi growth. I assure you, I have multiple data points on which I base my opinion.

    This conversation is going through the data points slowly because each time I present one, you claim that I’m lying about it and make contrary claims, which then take time to go through. The multi-hour presentations were to audiences that were better behaved, but the number of ways in which Iraqi life has improved is near uncountable.

    • #104
  15. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: How do you feel you should try to contextualize levels of violence so that you can get a sense of how bad things are? Why do you believe that political killing is non-comparable to other kinds of killing? Car crashes are different from gang violence because they lack an intent to kill. Is there a similar gap for terrorist

    I think it’s self evident how absurd it is to compare homicides with terrorism. Yet you double down again on it.

    If you want to see what a “success” Iraq was…look at the numbers the US State Department has on terrorism in Iraq: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/195768.pdf

    In 2010 there were 15,108 victims of terrorism in Iraq (dead, wounded or kidnapped) from 2,700 total attacks.

    In 2011 there were 12,192 victims of terrorism in Iraq from 2,300 attacks.

    In 2010 that was 30% of total worldwide victims of terrorism

    In 2011, that was 27% of total worldwide victims of terrorism

    very-nice-great-success

    I think that should be enough evidence to demonstrate that there was no such thing as “victory” in Iraq.

    • #105
  16. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: I don’t know where you’re getting your statistics from, but the World Tourist Organization thought that Iraq was getting upwards of a million international tourists a year for those years. I personally observed a fairly large number of them (I spent a lot of time at the airport; most of them came by land, quite a lot came in through Baghdad).

    Yes, they’re called Iranian pilgrims.

    James Of England: It’s also true that a lot of tourism went on after the US left (although these stats don’t suggest an increase). In general, the Iraqi economy continued to improve after the US left. This doesn’t show that the US leaving caused the economy to improve, just that it didn’t prevent it (it grew while the US was present, too).

    So GDP growth nearly doubling after the US left, isn’t evidence. Even though you used it as evidence? ;)

    So the number of pilgrims increasing by 70% after the US left isn’t evidence…even though you used the same argument as evidence?

    • #106
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    AIG:

    James Of England: Well, thank goodness we have a record on here. It’s comment #78 where you quote my claim (x>y) and call it a lie. You then go through ostensible problems with the numbers. I agree that you shouldn’t have claimed this indefensible slander, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t.

    Your statement that Iraq was a “success” and “safe” when the US left, is a lie. No two ways about it.

    James Of England: You do finish by noting that you feel that 4k deaths a year isn’t victory, but that’s not a claim that I’m lying, it’s a claim that my values are wrong (unless you think that I secretly believe that it wasn’t a victory).

    Your statement that it was a “victory” is a lie. Again, no two ways about it.

    I would rely on JoE’s facts completely. He was actually in Iraq.

    • #107
  18. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: There are air strikes, but it’s not providing arms etc. directly to Iraqi Kurds. If I was unclear, I apologized. I assumed a basic grasp of the issues.

    There is MASSIVE US military aid to the Kurds.

    The US has been providing direct military aid not through US made weapons, but by purchasing weapons from Eastern European countries and sending it there, since they are weapons the Kurds can use better and have experience with.

    Here is just 1 such news item…that you’re unlikely to hear about on AM radio or in Marco Rubio’s coloring book: http://www.iraqinews.com/features/urgent-albania-delivers-weapons-kurdish-peshmerga-confront-isis/

    This is how the US arms the Kurds. And this has been going on for well over a year at this point.

    US special forces are also involved with the Kurds in coordinating efforts and air strikes.

    James Of England: No, no, if any decision taken by the military is strategic, these are strategic decisions.

    These aren’t strategic questions. how many air strikes to carry out is a tactical decision that depends on what the ability to conduct recon and ID targets is.

    There’s no…Obama order…saying the US shouldn’t bomb more than 20 strikes a day.

    So if the “strategy” that the GOP has come up with is “not 20 strikes but 50 strikes a day”, than this isn’t a strategy.

    • #108
  19. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: It’s fine to be ignorant of the thoughts of the candidates, but if you don’t know their views it’s not honest to state what their views are. Particularly coming after you suggested that I shouldn’t get all my information about Iraq from AM radio, but should talk to professionals about it, it seems regrettable that you appear to have talked to so few professionals about it. When I talk to policy makers and other Iraq professionals, they often talk about the views of candidates. There is a plethora of ways that you could find this stuff out. Again, it’s fine to be ignorant, but if you don’t know if something’s true, it’s particularly obnoxious to accuse others of being ignorant or dishonest when they say that it is or is not true, and worse to take a pride in your ignorance after condemning it in others.

    Nowhere did I say…you…get your info from AM radio.

    I said this is where it appears most people here are getting their views of what is happening, or happened.

    Either way, you can very easily argue with my numbers. Go for it.

    Second, what you said are the “alternative strategies”, aren’t alternative strategies. They’re the same strategy.

    • #109
  20. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    Man With the Axe: Why would that be the case? That sounds like an awfully random thing to assume. Two presidents, one exactly as good as the other? Why can’t one be better and one worse, based on the decisions they actually made?

    You’re free to argue it. Just that you can’t argue it by quoting the same words from both men, and claim that one is better than the other on the bases of the same thing.

    • #110
  21. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England:

    You’ll note that in no stretch of years did Iraq fall to the level of Saddamite growth, but that it was in those post surge years that the growth really took hold. That’s what I meant by an uptick.

    The “uptick” happened in 2011. The year the US left.

    Again, by the same logic you’ve applied so far, the US leaving Iraq is what cased its economy to improve. During the US presence in Iraq, it was at Saddam levels.

    Hence these numbers show the opposite of your claim.

    James Of England: I don’t believe this is true. I think that you’re thinking that the 2012 figure is for a year after the US left, but it’s actually the midpoint, not the end of the year, and the next year was less impressive. Still, what you think is true is consistent with my claim. I don’t argue that the US should have kept troops in Iraq. I argue that the US brought sufficient levels of peace for Iraq to prosper.

    :) Prosper is an absurd word to use for a country with 2,000+ terrorist attacks a year, 4,000+ deaths and 12,000+ casualties by terrorism per year.

    James Of England: The whole post-invasion period has been one of considerable growth, and that growth has accelerated.

    And it accelerated even more when the US left.

    Your argument is pointless: Iraq was a total mess either way.

    • #111
  22. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: I’ve given multi-hour presentations on the topic of Iraqi growth. I assure you, I have multiple data points on which I base my opinion. This conversation is going through the data points slowly because each time I present one, you claim that I’m lying about it and make contrary claims, which then take time to go through.

    I would be much more impressed if you actually said any facts which were accurate representations of a country where there was 30% of the world’s terrorist activities still going on.

    GDP growth in Iraq:

    2003: -33.1%

    2004: 54.16%

    2005: 4.4%

    2006: 10.16%

    2007: 1.38%

    2008: 6.61%

    2009: 5.81%

    2010: 5.54%

    2011: 10.21%

    2012: 10.29%

    So, 2011-2012 when the US left, showed a doubling of GDP growth. Applying your logic, it was the US was imposing a 5% GDP discount to Iraq.

    But see, I’m trying to tell you this is a silly argument.

    It is an absurd argument to say that it’s a great success because GDP grew by 5%. 

    …while the country was a giant ball of flaming s**t with 30% of the world’s terrorism still going on at the time we left.

    You’re saying: forget the terrorism and death! Now they got AC!

    Mission Accomplished!

    Wait, I though we went there because of terrorism, not AC?

    • #112
  23. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG:

    James Of England: I don’t know where you’re getting your statistics from, but the World Tourist Organization thought that Iraq was getting upwards of a million international tourists a year for those years. I personally observed a fairly large number of them (I spent a lot of time at the airport; most of them came by land, quite a lot came in through Baghdad).

    Yes, they’re called Iranian pilgrims.

    In #97, you said that

    That would be just as much an absurd argument as yours. Fortunately, I’m not making it (because actual…tourism…in Iraq could be counted on 2 sets of hands and feet, as the numbers never even cracked 500 people/year)

    Now, I point out that it was more than 3 orders of magnitude larger than that and you say “yeah, that’s exactly what I said.”.

    James Of England: It’s also true that a lot of tourism went on after the US left (although these stats don’t suggest an increase). In general, the Iraqi economy continued to improve after the US left. This doesn’t show that the US leaving caused the economy to improve, just that it didn’t prevent it (it grew while the US was present, too).

    So GDP growth nearly doubling after the US left, isn’t evidence. Even though you used it as evidence? ;)

    A. GDP growth doesn’t nearly double after the US leaves. The final full year of American presence is 10.2% nominal. 2011-2012, which sees the US there for half the year, is 10.3%, which is not double 10.2%, or close to it. The year after that was 4.2%, which is even further from double 10.3%. I don’t understand your math.

    B. If it was true (in other words, if the US had left in June 2010), it would be evidence of it, but it wouldn’t show it. Economic growth, smoothed over a three year period, consistently increases as Saddam fades into history. The rate of change of the rate of change remains fairly constant. The US withdrew because relative peace and prosperity had arrived rather than peace and prosperity arriving because of the US withdrawal. In this counterfactual, I couldn’t show causation, but the consistency of the growth, the smoothness of the rolling curve would suggest that there wasn’t a turning point.

    So the number of pilgrims increasing by 70% after the US left isn’t evidence…even though you used the same argument as evidence?

    The numbers of tourists fell substantially rather than rising by 70%. I don’t know your source (I linked to mine, the World Tourism Organization), but you say you’re talking about trivial numbers. You say above that all the tourists are pilgrims. If that weren’t wrong, then it would strongly prove that pilgrim numbers fell (I believe they did).

    If it was true then it might suggest that US withdrawal caused a spike in tourism. Again, I don’t think the US withdrawal was a bad thing for Iraq.

    • #113
  24. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    AIG:

    James Of England:

    Nowhere did I say…you…get your info from AM radio.

    I said this is where it appears most people here are getting their views of what is happening, or happened.

    In comment #42 you said this, directly addressing me and nowhere using words like “most people” or “appears”:

    AIG: AIG James Of England: I think that Bush and Zafar are on the same page here. What makes Obama’s statement terrible isn’t that he thinks that we should defeat ISIS ideologically; of course we should. It’s that he thinks that we shouldn’t go too much of an effort on the military side of things.

    Nowhere is that implied. Bush said the same thing, verbatim. Anyway, here’s another…damn dirty hippie…former CIA director Morell, speaking on many issues, some of which are related to this here. Pay particular attention to 19:23 on:

    Of, and don’t forget the part after 7:32 ;)

    Might help to actually listen to what people who do this sort of stuff for a living say, instead of AM radio shows.

    Either way, you can very easily argue with my numbers. Go for it.

    Second, what you said are the “alternative strategies”, aren’t alternative strategies. They’re the same strategy.

    Nope. I’m done. This is as bad a conversation as I’ve ever had on Ricochet, filled with personal abuse, denial of previous statements, false statistics, hubris, innumeracy, and statements that could easily be mistaken for trolling (demands that people recognize that Bush was equivalently good to Obama).

    Indeed, I should take a break from the site. I shouldn’t have let myself be drawn in and engaged like this after the first couple of pages, and I need to focus on other stuff for a while. I’ll miss y’all and I’ll be back in early August at the latest.

    I’d be being a bad mod if I didn’t clarify that this is not merely not asking people to join in my vituperativeness, it’s not giving permission to do so. If you feel affection for me, please express that by being excellent to one another. If not, please express your apathy  or hostility by being excellent to each other (I can but hope).

    • #114
  25. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    James, you are not wrong. You’ve done what you can. I’m sure you got to the point of saying GFY and decided to back away instead.
    This Su the effect that trolls have. They drive away those who care and who have manners, leaving Internet wreckage composed only of boors and the apathetic.
    Oh, and trolls.

    • #115
  26. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    James Of England: Nope. I’m done. This is as bad a conversation as I’ve ever had on Ricochet, filled with personal abuse, denial of previous statements, false statistics, hubris, innumeracy, and statements that could easily be mistaken for trolling

    I agree. This is one of the most absurd conversations on Ricochet. But, what would one expect when trying to argue that Iraq was a “success” because they got AC.

    Torusim:

    Between 2009 and 2010, 165 tourists from 16 different countries entered Iraq to visit historic sites

    Pilgrims in 2014:

    “The number of Arab and foreign pilgrims has reached 4.5 million, of 60 different nationalities, the biggest contingent being Iranians,”

    So if we go by your number of 1.5 million in 2010, then by 2014 it had increased quite a lot more than the 70% I said.

    But, again, claiming Iraq was a success because of Iranian tourism, is an absurd argument.

    • #116
  27. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    Now, lets get to the “strategy” part. You said here are the 3 proposed “strategies” by the GOP:

    1) Arm the Kurds – already being done

    2) Bomb more – not a strategic decision to be taken by politicians, but a tactical decision to be taken by military commanders based on the conditions on the ground

    3) Send in ground troops – politically impossible, and a bad idea as you yourself agree.

    Well, that settles it then. GOP’s “strategy” is…same as Obama’s.

    • #117
  28. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    Now, lets look at your arguments for why Iraq was a “success”, a “victory” and a “safe place”

    1) First you say its because tourism has increased – that’s not much of an argument because 99% of that “tourism” is religious pilgrimage which in itself could not have happened under Saddam given the political conflict between him and Iran. Unless you mean to say that we fought a war in Iraq so Iranians could go visit Karbala. 

    2) Birth rates! – well, it appears birthrates are pretty much rock steady, except for fluctuations of about 1-2 months on average. Considering that we actually were the exogenous cause of the extra deaths to begin with…your argument amounts to “we helped them because we stopped killing them!”

    3) GDP grew!! – well, it turns out GDP actually reached its peak after the US left. You try to wiggle your way out of it by saying that, well, the full withdrawal wasn’t complete until the end of 2011, so 2011 doesn’t count :) Except that of course the US withdrawal was almost entirely complete way earlier than 2011.

    Second, it turns out that the GDP growth rates of Iraq during the US occupation were relatively much lower than during the bulk of the 90s under Saddam. So I’m not seeing the “success” here.

    • #118
  29. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    And the big kicker…The main reason Iraq’s economy was in the toilet was precisely because of a US embargo, bombing and invasion. I.e., you remove the exogenous constraint on their economy, which didn’t allow them to export oil at will, and trade at will…which we ourselves imposed on them, and then say “see, great success!

    So your argument amounts to “we helped them because we stopped embargoing them!”

    The same argument applies to your “but now they have telephones and AC”.

    All the while, you’re trying to ignore the elephant in the room: 15-12,000 casualties of terrorism per year by the time we had “won”. 30% of the world’s terrorist activities by the time we had “won”.

    The world’s most f-ed terrorism hellhole! And you say “no we won because now they have AC”

    Remind me again, we went into Iraq to do what?

    • #119
  30. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Note how the onslaught continues even after clearly having read James’ description of his discomfort with the conversation, his confessed disappointment with his own response to the “easily mistaken for” troll, and stated intent to take a break from Ricochet.

    This sort of conduct, this donuts-on-the-lawn triumphalism in the face of a dignified withdrawal is “easily mistaken for” the troll payoff.  That’s what gets the “easily mistaken for” troll endorphins flowing.

    Duck.  Low bridge.

    • #120
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