Nir Rosen: Perhaps It’s Too Late for US Troops to Leave?

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I am currently in Mykonos, after having spent a few days at a conference organized by New York University’s Center on Law and Security focusing on the legal frameworks through which governments pursue and handle would-be terrorists. One of the conference participants was Nir Rosen, a colleague of mine at the New America Foundation.
Rosen has just published this powerful op-ed in the Washington Post.
An excerpt:

Every morning the streets of Baghdad are littered with dozens of bodies, bruised, torn, mutilated, executed only because they are Sunni or because they are Shiite. Power drills are an especially popular torture device.
I have spent nearly two of the three years since Baghdad fell in Iraq. On my last trip, a few weeks back, I flew out of the city overcome with fatalism. Over the course of six weeks, I worked with three different drivers; at various times each had to take a day off because a neighbor or relative had been killed. One morning 14 bodies were found, all with ID cards in their front pockets, all called Omar. Omar is a Sunni name. In Baghdad these days, nobody is more insecure than men called Omar. On another day a group of bodies was found with hands folded on their abdomens, right hand over left, the way Sunnis pray. It was a message. These days many Sunnis are obtaining false papers with neutral names. Sunni militias are retaliating, stopping buses and demanding the jinsiya, or ID cards, of all passengers. Individuals belonging to Shiite tribes are executed.
Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, dissidents called Iraq “the republic of fear” and hoped it would end when Hussein was toppled. But the war, it turns out, has spread the fear democratically. Now the terror is not merely from the regime, or from U.S. troops, but from everybody, everywhere.

The meeting was strictly off the record, but one thing Nir Rosen stated at the meeting he has allowed on the record. During his presentation, Rosen stated that “the U.S. military has just become another militia in Iraq.” He argued that Iraq is on the verge of genuine sectarian meltdown and that the Sunni population fears being wiped out by Shiites. This, in turn, may draw Sunni brethren from Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt in to prevent the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad and other cities.
Rosen is rethinking his position that America needs to get out of Iraq. He stated that had America withdrawn from Iraq a year ago, its departure might have forestalled the civil war that he believes is now underway. I think he is tilting towards the view now that America missed its window of opportunity to link its departure to a more stable outcome in Iraq — and that now the question is what will America’s departure do or not do.
If pushed, Nir Rosen believes that if America withdraws, the cork will blow off. The Shiite will attempt to wipe Iraq clean of Sunnis — and neighboring nation Sunnis will pour into Iraq, possibly creating a major regional conflagration that can’t be easily contained.
More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

27 comments on “Nir Rosen: Perhaps It’s Too Late for US Troops to Leave?

  1. Linux CD & DVD Versand Shop says:

    It´s a very interesting Blog and simple answer of many questions.

    Reply

  2. Linux CD & DVD Versand Shop says:

    It´s a very interesting Blog and simple answer of many questions.

    Reply

  3. Linux CD & DVD Versand Shop says:

    It´s a very interesting Blog and simple answer of many questions.

    Reply

  4. Linux CD & DVD Versand Shop says:

    It´s a very interesting Blog and simple answer of many questions.

    Reply

  5. Praca says:

    It’s interesting to read observations from other people.

    Reply

  6. Rod says:

    I’m surprised at the negativity in some of these posts. Real progress is being made in the face of enormous difficulty in Iraq, and the writings of someone like Nir Rosen, who is obviously very biased against our national objectives in the region, should be discounted.
    Mistakes have been made in Iraq, no doubt, so there is a basis for dissatisfaction by the American public. But the people who are so intensely “pissed off” nearly to the point of apparent violence are, in my opinion, just weak minded.
    War is a tough national endeavor, a fact which many critical but dough handed observers posting in this thread are apparently simply not able to stomach for more than a year or two. There are going to be ups and downs, successes and setbacks. War is like that, and citizens who are realistically educated and properly informed understand this.
    So simmer down and read your books while real men and women actually do something. The situation in Iraq will improve as more security forces are trained, more unified government institutions come online, and negotiations between ethnic factions continue. And our patience as a nation will pay off when there is a free, whole Iraq standing on its own.

    Reply

  7. MNPundit says:

    The problem with Rosen’s analysis is that even if the US stays in Iraq 3 more years, when it leaves there will STILL be a regional conflagration. All we are doing now is delaying, it will come sooner or later.

    Reply

  8. TokyoTom says:

    Steve:
    I’m rather surprised you didn’t take this opportunity to mention Nir Rosen’s new book, “In The Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of Martyrs in Iraq”, which was just released this May. I imagine you will take the opportunity soon.
    Nir has a blog that’s worth taking a look at, and a search of the New America Foundation site is the best way to find info there: http://www.newamerica.net/index.cfm?sec=invsrch&pg=invsrch&Criteria=rosen&StartRow=1&Collection_5=nafdb_contact&Collection_4=nafdb_contact&Collection_3=nafdb_Sec&Collection_1=nafdb_eve&CFID=800456&CFTOKEN=72860695.
    Regards,
    Tom

    Reply

  9. Carroll says:

    PissedOff….
    ” I mean honestly, you have to be a real f*kin’ scumbag, or a complete idiot, to see the deadly debacle unfolding in Iraq and attempt to present it as a success story, or anything other than a tragedy”
    ..they will never get it, the part of the public that thinks our ME venture is great are either “cultist” of the zionist or evangelical stripe or cowering dummies who want “Amurkins” safe from scary terriers, or curbsitting warriors who use the war in place of viagra pills.

    Reply

  10. Den Valdron says:

    Just for the record, the “El Salvador” option refers to the El Salvador civil war in which a small group of leftists consisting of few thousand waged a guerilla war against land holding oligarchs. Unable to deal with an insurgency directly, the United States during the Reagan years, through the CIA, initiated domestic terrorism.
    Police and intelligence officers as well as mercenaries were trained and recruited to form paramilitary death squads. The targets of these death squads were not the guerillas, who were anonymous and rare and did not engage directly. Rather, it was the social infrastructure.
    Union leaders, teachers, nurses, doctors, aid workers, nuns, journalists, academics, writers, local mayors, leaders, dissidents, pretty much anyone was a target. At times, it was simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Entire villages were wiped out.
    Often an army squadron would perform their duties during the day, don black hoods and terrorize and murder at night. The same was true for the police. In addition to nocturnal kidnappings and murders, torture was an item of faith. Many of the bodies found showed signs of extensive torture, including the use of power drills on their bodies, electrical burns, etc. Recognizeable patterns of torture and mutilation were found.
    Indeed, bodies were often found mutilated, sometimes with the mouth stuffed with earth, sometimes with severed genitals in the mouth. Babies had their brains dashed out. Women were dismbowelled and there are reports of pregnant women having the fetuses cut out of their bodies so these two could be destroyed in front of the dying mother.
    The object, of course, was to terrorize the population to such an extent that it became incapable of social function or of dissent. A terrorized population could not resist the ruling class. Moreover, a terrorized population would not offer guerillas anonymity and support.
    Over the course of the El Salvador civil war, approximately 85,000 people were killed. It is estimated that 95% were killed by the death squads and paramilitaries of the right wing.
    During this period similar tactics were employed against the Indians in Guatemala producing some 250,000 fatalities, and by the Contras in their war with Nicaragua, producing perhaps 150,000 casualties. Honduras was relatively peaceful during this time, with no more than 40,000 to 20,000 victims.
    Collectively, these were “Ronald Reagan’s Dirty Wars in Central America”. American involvement with these death squads and terror campaigns is now a matter of public record. The CIA was in it up to its eyeballs. Indeed, the ‘dirty war’ had a pronounced resemblance to Vietnam’s ‘Operation Phoenix’ a rogue CIA program that killed 250,000 Vietnamese, tortured immeasurably more, and was intended to terrorize the population.
    The “El Salvador” option is simply shorthand since all the movements employed the same tactics.
    It is interesting to note that many of the characters who were involved in these ‘Dirty Wars’ have now become players in the Iraq situation, including, of course, John Negroponte.
    And it is interesting to note how similar the tactics and activities, even the specific brands of torture being found, are to the Dirty Wars of Central America and even to the Phoenix Program… as if there was some underlying continuity of personnel and training.
    Finally, I’ll note that the United States military and political leadership was itself discussing seriously the use of the El Salvador option up until a few months ago… at which point, all discussion ended suddenly, and the civil war started up.
    The conclusion is inescapable: Iraq’s civil war is an American invention. It is an effort to neutralize the insurgency through random and indiscriminate terrorization of the civilian, particularly the Sunni population.
    God help you all, motherf*ckers.

    Reply

  11. Den Valdron says:

    Let’s not forget the role of the United States in actively fomenting that civil war through its tolerance and encouragement of militias, its rigged voting system in Iraq, its interference in the political process, its deconstruction of the Iraqi economy and society, its attacks on legitimate dissent, and of course, its use of the “El Salvador” option. In particular, don’t forget the El Salvador option. This civil war is part of the plan.

    Reply

  12. Pissed Off American says:

    Gail my dear…I have a grip, had one since the begining, as evidenced by the fact that everything I predicted has come true down the line…
    I also have a spare brain…would you like to borrow one?
    Perhaps utliizing said brain would make clear to you the ramifications of the US nuking anything in the ME…
    Posted by Carroll
    How many “missions accomplished”, “freedom on the marches”, and insurgency’s in their “last throes” is it going to take for these mindless asses to finally get the message?
    On a serious note, have you ever wondered or marveled at the complete lack of character it must take to argue a point purely on the merit of its scripted value as propaganda, rather than any foundation it may have in truth??? I mean honestly, you have to be a real f*kin’ scumbag, or a complete idiot, to see the deadly debacle unfolding in Iraq and attempt to present it as a success story, or anything other than a tragedy excalating FAR BEYOND the control of these inept and criminal bastards currently soiling the carpets in the White House.

    Reply

  13. Carroll says:

    Gail my dear…I have a grip, had one since the begining, as evidenced by the fact that everything I predicted has come true down the line…
    I also have a spare brain…would you like to borrow one?
    Perhaps utliizing said brain would make clear to you the ramifications of the US nuking anything in the ME…

    Reply

  14. Fundy says:

    james,
    Why are the fundy chrisitians not lining up to go to Iraq?
    For such pious noble beings a one-way ticket to Iraq would be a one way ticket to the Gates of Heaven.
    Could it be their faith is really weak?
    Could it be their faith is really strong when it applies only to others?
    Perhaps they are content sitting on the couch munching chips and drinking soda while waving the flag and waiting for the End?
    Get the Fundies to Iraq NOW!!

    Reply

  15. james says:

    grh and son of con geo.. thanks for the laughs! it’s amazing to see the same mentality that was hoping for victory in vietnam rear it’s ugly illusionary head here.. the situation calls for a dose of reality but bush and his declining followers, whether fundy christians wanting armageddon, or just plain naive, don’t seem capable of it… they continue on believing victory is possible… perhaps they can stay asleep longer then i thought!.. bush and his followers remind me of ‘the night of the living dead’ wrecking havoc on the planet and oblivious to any of it.

    Reply

  16. Hoplite says:

    Carroll: Iraq will become an Islamic Republic
    Correction: Iraq *is* a burgeoning fundamentalist Islamic republic.
    After twenty years, Al Dawa has been fulfilling its wish of transforming secular Iraq into a fundamentalist Islamic republic.
    9/11 + Iraq = a fundamentalist Islamic republic in Iraq?
    WTF?
    Iraq: Bush’s Islamic Republic
    By Peter W. Galbraith
    [snip]
    SCIRI and Dawa want Iraq to be an Islamic state. They propose to make Islam the principal source of law, which most immediately would affect the status of women. For Muslim women, religious law—rather than Iraq’s relatively progressive civil code—would govern personal status, including matters relating to marriage, divorce, property, and child custody. A Dawa draft for the Iraqi constitution would limit religious freedom for non-Muslims, and apparently deny such freedom altogether to peoples not “of the book,” such as the Yezidis (a significant minority in Kurdistan), Zoroastrians, and Bahais.
    This program is not just theoretical. Since Saddam’s fall, Shiite religious parties have had de facto control over Iraq’s southern cities. There Iranian-style religious police enforce a conservative Islamic code, including dress codes and bans on alcohol and other non-Islamic behavior. In most cases, the religious authorities govern—and legislate—without authority from Baghdad, and certainly without any reference to the freedoms incorporated in Iraq’s American-written interim constitution—the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL).

    Reply

  17. gail says:

    Caroll,
    How on God’s green earth would turning the ME into a nuclear wasteland mean the end of the US? The End? No, sweetheart, merely a new beginning, never the end. Perhaps, the end of the US as we know it, and the ushering in of a better US in its place. Never the End, my dear. Please, get a grip.

    Reply

  18. Carroll says:

    Aw hell…the cork has already blown. Who doesn’t get that?
    I said in the begining and will say again…Iraq will become an Islamic Republic, no other way it can turn out. The strongest force will surface and that will be that. Iraq and Iran are now joined at the hip.
    The Shiites blew up a bus full of Iranian MEK terrorist that had strayed off their little camp the US created for them in Iraq so they could make forays into Iran to do some dirty work.
    Iraq is in full meltdown … with Americans killing Iraqis, Israelis killing anyone anywhere they can get some traction for breaking up Iraq for the Kurds, and Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds and MEK all killing each other here and there…
    Get out America..we have FUBAR…Iraq is lost to Iran you idiots…the only way the neo’s can win their game now is to turn the ME into a nuclear wasteland and of course that would mean the end of the US.

    Reply

  19. Hoplite says:

    Son of Con Geo,
    Most Americans have no idea that countless lives, limbs, and vast amounts of cash are being spent in order to prop up a burgeoning fundamentalist Iraq.
    When the media tears down the firewall blocking this fact, there’s going to be a lot of noise.
    Why?
    No American mother or father wishes to harm a hair on the head of their child for an Islamic fundamentalist Iraq.

    Reply

  20. Hoplite says:

    Con George-Kotzabasis, grh, and Son of Con Geo,
    As evidenced by the democratic electing of the Iranian-based Al Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, victory belongs to Iran.
    Due to your support, Bush has INADVERTENTLY fathered a burgeoning fundamentalist Islamic republic with long standing and direct ties to Iran which Bush called an `axis of evil’.
    FACT: Every drop of blood and every cent spent is for the sake of an Islamic fundamentalist Iraq.
    How many more tens of thousands of people need to be maimed, raped, burned, beheaded, malnutritioned, killed, etc and how many more hundreds of billions of dollars need to be spent for the sake of an Islamic fundamentalist Iraq?

    Reply

  21. Son of Con Geo says:

    Con Geo is right. Any total withdrawl of of American troops from Iraq will be seen as defeat and inspire Jihadists worldwide to attack our interests as we withdraw into a fetal position. They dare not attack us now because we continue onward with resolute leadership the planting of Democracy and freedom in Iraq. Once we show weakness by withdrawing before the task is complete we invite detractors and those who they inspire to take the offensive. Let’s not get on the defensive and once again revert into a feminine power as we did after Vietnam. Onward to victory, through thick and thin towards an honourable manly end.

    Reply

  22. grh says:

    I agree with Con George-Kotzabasis. I’m tired of hearing the opinions of people like Nir Rosen who actually “go places” and “know what they’re talking about.” The people we should really pay attention to are those like Mr. George-Kotzabasis, who have long been able to understand these complex issues from their basement.

    Reply

  23. Con George-Kotzabasis says:

    Nir Rosen is a brave man. Witnessing the direful events unfolding in Iraq in the face of whistling bullets. But it’s not prudent to transmit this bravery into “brave” arguments. He believes, as Clemons states, ‘that Iraq is on the verge of genuine sectarian meltdown’ and the ‘sectarian cleansing of Sunnis by Shiites, and that civil war… now is underway.’ Rosen also asserts, without however demonstrating this with argument, that had America withdrawn from Iraq a year ago that might have forestalled the civil war.
    How such departure of the Americans could have prevented the civil war, Rosen does not tell us. Because he knows that there are no logical “dots” to connect to such a fallacious contention. If Sunnis and Shiites are preparing to kill each other they have reasons to do so from the sectarian enmity that existed from many many years ago, as well as from Saddam’s regime, and had nothing to do with the American occupation. Moreover, the early departure of the Americans would definitively had ignited not only a civil war in Iraq, but would also had fuelled far more aggressive and virulent attacks by the terrorist Jihadists worldwide, as such withdrawal would have been seen by the latter, as a devastating strategic defeat of the Americans.
    But it’s good to know, that Rosen now is ‘rethinking his position that America needs to get out of Iraq.’ As he apparently realizes now that only America’s presence can prevent his lugubrious scenario. That is at least a shimmering rainbow in his gloomy sky.

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  24. RickG says:

    “Just another militia”.
    How far we have come since 2003.
    Maybe someone with a sense or irony can name one of our superbases “Sisyphus”.

    Reply

  25. Pissed Off American says:

    “If pushed, Nir Rosen believes that if America withdraws, the cork will blow off. The Shiite will attempt to wipe Iraq clean of Sunnis — and neighboring nation Sunnis will pour into Iraq, possibly creating a major regional conflagration that can’t be easily contained.”
    The Israelis, and those behind Bush’s curtains, see this as the AVENUE of containment, Steve. A WHOLE KLOT of Muslims are about to die, Steve. You ain’t seen nothing yet. The only question is……can Israel, in league with the Bush Administration, commit genocide without rendering our planet into a nuclear bit of galactic dust?
    Steve, do you plan on waking up anytime soon? Is denial REALLY such a comfortable place to reside?

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  26. J. says:

    “If pushed, Nir Rosen believes that if America withdraws, the cork will blow off.”
    It’s not a question of “if” but “when”… With cases such as the Marine incident at Habitha, staying in Iraq isn’t going to maintain the peace unless major changes in current policy/strategy occur. I would suggest that unless Iraq is partitioned such as Bosnia/Croatia, the coming bloodbath is inevitable. Best we can do is to get the warring tribes apart, station our troops in Kuwait and try to keep Iran and Syria honest. Truly this is becoming a “lose, lose” scenario – it’s just what price you want to pay in American bodies.

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  27. Hoplite says:

    “Iraq is on the verge of genuine sectarian meltdown and that the Sunni population fears being wiped out by Shiites. This, in turn, may draw Sunni brethren from Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt in to prevent the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad and other cities.”
    As soon as the US leaves, or more plausibly gets kick out, the Badr Corps et al will be unleashed so that Bush’s fundamentalist Islamic democracy can flourish and become deeply rooted in Iraq.
    Have Sunni brethren from various regions ever gone to a particular region to help Sunni brethen from Shiite attacks before?
    The Sunnis are TOAST thanks to Bush.

    Reply

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