The Battle of the Sunni Triangle

"First we're going to cut it off, and then we're going to kill it."
General Colin Powell, Gulf War I

The battle to retake the untamed region of Iraq commonly known as the Sunni Triangle has been underway for several months. While there has been reporting of the discrete assaults on individual cities and towns, I have yet to read a comprehensive report on the scope of the conflict. This post is an attempt to piece together the individual accounts and draw a picture of the ongoing battle that is leading up to the showdown in Fallujah. There is little doubt that this post is missing vital pieces of information and the picture painted is incomplete, however I feel this is a rough representation of the overall battle. I am not in possession of classified information or in contact with intelligence or military personnel. The information used was gathered from open news sources.

Opening Shots

The Battle of the Sunni Triangle began, in all places, outside of the Sunni Triangle in Shiite holy city of Najaf on August 16. Najaf sits directly south of Baghdad along the vital supply route from the South (Najaf is not pictured in the map below due to editing reasons, but it lies directly south of al-Hillah). Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, with the assistance of Iran, was inciting a rebellion in a bid to gain control of the Shiite power structure. Fighting ended on August 27, after American and Iraqi forces surround the Imam Ali shrine and killed thousands of his Mahdi Army. Sadr turned over the keys to the mosque to Ayatollah Sistani, his soldiers agreed to disarm and Iraq forces occupied the city. This was a major victory as the Imam Ali shrine was left intact, the southern supply route was secured and the potentially serious Shia uprising was prevented.

Outlying Areas

In late September and early October, the town of Tal Afar (Sept 24) was retaken, followed by operations near Hillah in the Babil Province (Oct 1). The operations near Hillah were likely conducted in the towns of Yusufiyah, Mahmudiyah, and Latifiyah as they reside in the Babil Province. These towns sit astride of the supply route from Najaf to Baghdad and are a major source of the insurgent attacks on the military supply columns.

Tackling the Triangle

The actions in Najaf, Tal Afar and the Babil Province frees up resources and secures the supply routes from the north and south to conduct the upcoming assault on the Sunni Triangle. The Sunni Triangle is a central region in Iraq that supplied the power base of Saddam's Baath party. The area is mainly comprised of Sunni Muslims, which make up about twenty percent of the Iraqi population, and is outlined by Tikrit in the north, Ramadi in the southwest and Baghdad in the southeast.

Tikrit has been successfully occupied by American troops for some time. Samarra (Oct 1), which is just south of Tikrit, was retaken by a joint American-Iraqi force of about 5,000 soldiers. In Baghdad, Sadr City (Oct 5) followed shortly afterward, with fierce clashes between followers of Sadr. A week later the Iraqi government negotiated a truce with the insurgents to turn in weapons and end the fighting. The town of Hit (Oct 11) was struck by coalition airstrikes and a mosque that was being used as a base of operations by insurgents was destroyed. Baqubah /a> (Oct 13), north of Baghdad, was attacked by a joint American-Iraqi force of about 1,000 soldiers. Fighting is ongoing in Ramadi (Oct 13) by Marines in a weeklong series of raids.

(see this map for a complete view of Iraq)

The current bulk of the fighting appears to be confined to an axis of Hit-Ramadi-Fallujah, with mop up operations ongoing in Samarra and Sadr City. The obvious endgame is the retaking of Fallujah, and the entire operation appears to be geared towards this. Supply lines to Fallujah are being cut from the north, south, east, and west where Marines are operating in the towns of al-Qaim and Husaybah. Fallujah itself is in the process of being surrounded, with checkpoints and roadblocks being set up by American and Iraq forces, constant airstrikes on Zarqawi's infrastructure, and on & off negotiations with the city's leadership and members of the Iraqi insurgents not related to Zarqawi's terrorists. The insurgent alliances appear to be strained, and members of Zarqawi's organization are found face down with lead poisoning. The Iraqi government demands that Zarqawi be handed over to spare an all out assault, and residents are said to be fleeing the city.

There is little doubt America possesses the operational capability to conquer the Sunni Triangle. American forces were very close to taking Fallujah in April 2004 until it was decided to work an agreement to have the ill-fated Fallujah Brigade patrol the city. Maintaining control and establishing the conditions for elections in January is the greater challenge. This will depend on several factors, including the willingness of the local Iraqi populations to reject the insurgency and the ability of the new Iraqi Army and police forces to maintain unit cohesion and occupy the cities and towns as needed.

The Sunni Triangle was bypassed during Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Fourth Infantry Division was unable to deploy in Turkey and fight their way south. This was to be their area of operations. It has been nineteen month since the start of OIF, and the taking of the Sunni Triangle is long overdue.


READER COMMENTS: "The Battle of the Sunni Triangle"

Posted by Old Soldier at October 22, 2004 3:55 AM ET:

I believe that it was GEN Colin Powell who said "First we're going to cut it off, then we're going to kill it."

Posted by Bill Roggio at October 22, 2004 7:01 AM ET:

You are correct, Old Soldier. Noted and corrected.

Posted by Bill K at October 22, 2004 9:12 AM ET:

I noticed it is common for liberals to claim Iraq is not part of the war on terror. This is wholly untrue. Who, exactly, are we fighting in Iraq? Why are the terrorists fighting so hard? Because they know losing Iraq to democracy is a HUGE defeat for them. Are we to believe that these terrorists would be living peaceful, law-abiding lives if only America hadn't invaded their flower-covered meadows? NO! Is it plausible that the plan, which we couldn't reveal to the terrorists for OBVIOUS reasons, was to depose Saddam, lure terrorists into Iraq, and fight them there instead of here? The answer is YES.

Look at America's history. We learned from the America Revolution and especially from the War of 1812, that it's best to build a Navy and an Army and fight wars beyond America's boarders. WWI we traveled to Europe, WWII we traveled to Europe, NA, and the Pacific. Korea, we traveled to Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I War on Terrorism (battlefields Afghanistan and Iraq)---all have been fought in the enemy's territory. The terrorists have been lured into a death trap.

Not only is Iraq part of the war on terror, it is the single most important strategic location for winning the war on terror.

Posted by MyssiAnn at October 22, 2004 10:31 AM ET:

Bill K., you sound like my brother who is in the Air Force. Something similar to, but not an exact quote, "My job is to keep the bad guys away from your kids." If asked directly about your speculation, he would say something like, "Would *we* do that?" I think he would if it were a one on one fight and I know his CO's are of a similar mind. Anyway, Turkey not allowing us to deploy troops from there has slowed things down and it's a shame, but we are making progress. Way more than the MSM will ever let us see before the election. Can't report anything that might Bush look good. (Yes, I'm feeling cynical today.)

Posted by Bill H at October 22, 2004 12:38 PM ET:

It's OK Myssi...let it out.

Posted by Bill H at October 22, 2004 1:00 PM ET:

Bill K I am with you. A "key strategic location" seems to be phrase that was absent in the debates (maybe I'm wrong, but I don't recall it as a topic of conversation). By the way the left is still talking, this point is completely lost on them. What about the possibility of using a US friendly Iraq, once consolidated, as leverage against the Saudis? I keep hearing about how we always leave the Saudis alone (of course they seem to be making significant progress against terror cells in their country) A prosperous, secular, democracy directly to their north would put even more pressure on extremist elements in Saudi Arabia.

Posted by Bill K at October 22, 2004 1:09 PM ET:

Bill H

Iraq is even more important as a stretegic location because now we have Iran surrounded. A left turn in Afghanistan and a right turn in Iraq lead to Tehran.

Bush knows what he is doing, and it is clear from Kerry's debates with himself, known as his campaign for president, that he doesn't understand the complexities of the day.

Posted by Bill H at October 22, 2004 1:50 PM ET:

Too funny. The two Kerry's, John and Jack?

Posted by Justin B at October 22, 2004 1:56 PM ET:

Have you noticed that we never hear of any major attacks in the South or the North of Iraq? Every once in a while someone dies up north, but things are pretty quiet there. Things are quiet down south where the Brits are handling things. I won't say peaceful with doves flying and children singing praise to the occupiers, but quiet. =)

I think this battle for the Suni Triangle is quite possibly more strategic and important than Tora Bora. We did not know that OBL was in Tora Bora, but even in the worst case, we kept the Taliban and Al Qaeda bottled up in the mountains where they could do little damage and it was difficult for them to exercise operational control. We killed them every time they popped their heads up and killed thousands of fighters. The insurgents have flooded in to fight in the Suni Triangle, but now they have no way out. We keep bombing places where they meet, and we have bottled up a large chunk of the foreign fighters that were in Afghanistan or Chechnya who came to Iraq to fight. If we lose the battle for the Suni Triangle, we embolden these mercenaries to go from country to contry and kill recklessly. If not here, where will we fight them next?

Iraq is smack dead center on the war on terror. People want to claim that we made Iraq part of the war on terror. No, the terrorists made the entire world part of the war on terror, and chose to set up shop in Iraq when they saw an opportunity to attack US troops and coalition forces in a lawless and chaotic country. Iraq became even more hospitable after the US invasion, but the terrorists already had the infrastructure in place to attack us. Saddam planned to have his armies dispurse and his loyal troops attack in a guerilla war.

The fact is that based on all of the UN reports, we would enventually have to disarm Saddam by force. Sanctions were breaking down and Saddam was still a major threat. He was scaling up operational capacity as soon as sanctions were lifted and the Oil for Food... sorry, Oil for France program gave him the funds to bribe the UN countries to get the sanctions lifted. The world is safer without Saddam. Most of Iraq is ***MUCH BETTER*** without Saddam. It just happens that this area is much worse, but that should be expected. This is the area that got 90% of the benefits from his regime. The people in the Suni triangle benefitted from Saddam at the expense of the rest of Iraq.

It makes more sense to think of Iraq as three seperate entities--the North which could hold elections today, is fairly safe, and is making rapid improvements since Saddam is out of power; the South which could hold elections today, is fairly safe, and is making rapid improvements since Saddam is out of power; and the Suni Triangle which is filled with Terrorists, is completely unstable, is constantly having bombings and attacks on both civilians and military targets, and is much much worse off since Saddam is out of power.

Why don't we ever hear reports on what is happening in the north and south? Oh, yeah, because the Suni Triangle is such a craphole that it dominates our perception of Iraq. Listen to what Allawi said about the north and south. It is only in this one area that elections could not be held right now.

Posted by Justin B at October 22, 2004 2:00 PM ET:

Bill H and Bill K;

Two John Kerry's? You must be kidding. It is like one of the Democratic Primary Debates. There are ten of him debating with each other. I only wish one of the John Kerry's had some personality like Al Sharpton to at least make the ongoing Kerry vs. Kerry vs. the rest of the Kerry's debate interesting.

Posted by Bill Roggio at October 22, 2004 2:29 PM ET:

Justin & anyone else interested,

Let me state the following is just a guess.

I think I found something interesting while putting together this post. It appears a populous portion of the Sunni Triangle, the area between Baghdad, Sammara and Babuqauh, is either pacified, occupied by American or Iraqi troops, or being run successfully by the local governments.

I could not get a good handle on this. The mentions were either indirect or it was a lack of information on these areas that leads me to believe this. As the media pounces on each story of violence, the silence from these towns can be telling. I actually had all of the towns circled that appeared to be 'quiet'. But I pulled this map at the last minute as it wasn't solid enough for me to make a definitive judgement.

So I am not even sure the entire Sunni Triangle can be labled as a complete haven for terrorists, just portions of it. Sometimes the absence of information can be be just as telling as its possession. Again, this is pure speculation on my part.

Posted by MyssiAnn at October 22, 2004 2:58 PM ET:

Your guess is supported by what our local Marine Reservists are saying upon returning home last week. Everybody came home safe and sound from the Sunni triangle and they say that we aren't getting anywhere close to the true picture. Bad news makes ratings and all that... Anywho, those Marines are saying that the terrorists are holed up in the larger cities because a) it's easier to hide there and b) when the Coalition goes after them, civilians are more likely to be injured (bad p.r. here at home and for the UN-niks). They also say more Iraqis want to join the Security Forces than they have room to train and that they believe elections will happen on time. It isn't all sunshine and roses, but for what it is, it's better than anyone thought it would be.

Posted by Ryan at October 22, 2004 3:08 PM ET:

At the beginning, the problems were just center in the Sunni triangle. Now, they are bigger. Babil Province, South of Baghdad, is still under insurgent control. Mosul and the area around it in the North is also an insurgent hotbed. At the beginning, attacks in the Sunni triangle averaged 6-12 a day. Now they are at 80-100. The Sunni triangle is getting worse, not better. Iraq is the most dangerous place on earth, plain and simple.

Posted by Bill K at October 22, 2004 3:48 PM ET:

Where are you getting your info from, Al Jezerra?

Look up chicken little! The sky really isn't falling!

Posted by Froggy at October 22, 2004 3:53 PM ET:

Well done, Bill.

Posted by Bill K at October 22, 2004 3:53 PM ET:

What's it like?

What's it like walking around believing the liberal psychobabble that America is bad, there are no jobs, the jobs that we do have are low paying jobs, Iraq was a mistake, a war for oil, but I support the troops, health care is horrible, George Bush is horrible, education is terrible, Haliburton is the devil, big corporations are satin's cousin, the rich are evil, Christians are wacco nuts...etc?

Why do you even get up in the morning? Matter of fact, why don't you and your liberal friends just pull the covers over your head and stay in bed on November 2nd and leave the heavy lifting to those of us with backbones.

Posted by Bill Roggio at October 22, 2004 4:17 PM ET:


I do not claim the Sunni Triangle is a happy place. If you read the analysis, you can see I did address the Babil Province, a cursory look at the map will show this is a small area south of Baghdad. This area was invaded on Oct. 1, and does not appear to be under insurgent control at this time. Mosul, which I did not address, is indeed a violent area in the north, and for reasons I cannot determine was left alone while Tal Afar directly to the west was. I suspect Tal Afar was taken care of as it lies on the road to Syria, a source of insurgent supplies and fighters.

The reasons for the increased violence should be obvious. The insurgency increases its contacts and sophistication as time goes on, becomes better organized, etc. As we begin to assert control over areas, we come into contact with the enemy, giving them a target to shoot at. And most of all, the insurgent attacks are designed to thwart the upcoming elections, they have increased because they have to try to destroy the election process.

Do you have a source for the 80-100 attacks/day in the Sunnit Triangle? The articles I found said about 50-60/day throughout all of Iraq.

Posted by Bill Roggio at October 22, 2004 4:26 PM ET:

And, Ryan, the problems were bigger in the beginning. The Shiite areas were restless, and now are pretty well under control.

Posted by Ryan at October 22, 2004 5:00 PM ET:

80-100 is for all of Iraq. I read an article a month ago that said they were about 80 and I read that they were up 20% during the first 2 weeks of Ramadan so that's where I'm getting the 80-100 range from.

Liberal "myths":

"Iraq is getting worse"--not a myth. casualties and attacks have been steadily increasing.

"There are no jobs"--It is a difficult job market. There are jobs if you look hard enough but GWB has lost 800,000 jobs on his watch and this has been the most anemic job recovery in history.

"Health care is bad"--It is for the uninsured. For the insured, it's very good.

"George Bush is horrible"--not a horrible person but a very ineffectual president

"Education is terrible"--Who said that?

"Big corporations are evil"--No, they're not. Those are communists and anarchists that think that, not liberals.

"the rich are evil"--Did John Kerry think Teresa was evil? I'm fairly well to do also. The stock market goes up more during Democratic presidencies than Republican ones on average. I miss when Clinton was president and stocks went up every day.

"Christians are wacco nuts"--Then I must be a really wacco nut

Posted by Ignore the Man Behind The Curtain at October 22, 2004 10:43 PM ET:

Bill K
I'm relatively sure you've read him, and your observation above is rhetorically framed sarcasm..(I think, heh)

Bill Whittle speaks to him and his rather succintly--and I am (purposely) redundant in the intellectually honest answering "exercise" by quoting him (again)-- arm chair "experts" in situational ethics
"whine about ethics are hypocrites who as usual want to have things both ways in order to preserve that essential fix of moral superiority that seems to be the only thing to make life worth living for the Bitching Classes."
Strength (ptII)

Ryan--you remind me of the proverbial 5 year old throwing a tantrum in the middle of the cookie aisle of the local supermarket---my sister tried Dr Spock, not my parents. You need to be "slapped' so hard you 'wake up" over in the "dairy section" by the far wall.

Do these good peeple a favor and read ALL of him b4 returning here---you've been watching to much Star Trek, TNG, WILL be awhile b4 you can get pink koolaide in a purple glass by simply "punching a button"--the real world don't work that way....AL Gore sigh

I've watched your posts (mainly here, but elsewheres as well) you bitched and whined about Afghanistan in the same fashion--NOW that elections have seemingly gone with few hitches,THERE-- the best you can get up is one line on another thread-- "okay, i'll give you that one"--and on to the next "bitch point"--what'll it be in February, 2005??---Karnak holds the previously sealed envelope to his turban clad forehead and gives a "simian" like smirk......
you are a serial bitcher, buddy

SGT Bill, sir--well done, with the info you have available
Don't know if Allawai has ever seen kurt Russel in Escape from New york/LA--but its close

Watch, its coming

Oh, I just found the protestwarrior web site--these guys HAVE to have a function in life after this election cycle--spent my whole time allotment there two days ago---RISLMAO

Choose, domesticate or Eradicate

Posted by Justin B at October 22, 2004 10:51 PM ET:

I would disagree that Iraq is the most dangerous place on earth. I think the Sudan right now is far more dangerous. Millions of people in refugee camps and widespread rape and murder. Sure, hundreds die in Iraq each month and car bombs go off, but there are troops in most areas and some governmental control.

Please note that two years ago, Afghanistan was the most dangerous place on earth. Now, things are as peaceful and tranquil as they have been in 30 years in Afghanistan. Does anyone here believe that Afghanistan was better off with the Taliban? or when the Russians were invading?

We can make the same arguments that Afghanistan was better under the Taliban as Iraq was better under Saddam. There were minimal insurgents. No car bombings. But there was also no freedom. Iraq is about to have its first free elections in less than 3 months. Many parts of Iraq are much better off and much safer. The terrorists are holed up in the cities for the reasons stated above, but things are improving for the vast majority of the country.

The insurgents are never going to leave the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq alone, and there will be terrorist attacks until the terrorists are either destroyed or the governments become fundamentalist states. It is just reality that we will have to ensure that these countries do not slip back into that. Same as we tried to ensure that the countries of Latin America and Asia did not become Communist. It took almost 70 years to stop the spread of Communism, but it was a battle worth fighting... No, it was a battle we had to fight ***AND WIN*** just as this is.

Posted by Ryan at October 22, 2004 11:10 PM ET:

Ignore the Man: I have never complained about Afghanistan and I do not post on any other blogs but this one.

HOw could it be argued Afghanistan was better before the Taliban? It was the home of Al Qaeda's headquarters. There were more terrorists there before the war than there are now. In Iraq though, there are more terrorists now than before the war.
A good part of Iraq may be better off because of the war. But is America better off?? That's very doubtful.

Posted by Justin B at October 23, 2004 1:27 AM ET:


The presence of terrorists is not the problem. You have used the number 60, as in 60 countries that have terrorists there. Aside from terrorists, is Afghanistan better off? We both would answer yes. They are not better off because all of the bad people are gone, but rather because they enjoy freedom and that gives the good citizens the right to choose their destiny instead of cowering to Saddam or the Taliban.

You frame a very intersting question and that is in simplistic terms, "Iraq for the most part is better, but is America better?"

The answer is a resounding yes. If Iraq is better and Afghanistan is better, it means that there is hope for the other places in that region. Hope is something the regon desperately needs. Lack of hope is why people strap bombs to their chests and kill other innocent people. For the vast majority of Iraq, there is a new hope. They may not like America, but as we withdraw and they have their rights and freedom protected and the right to choose their own leaders and hold elections, they will have hope. Most already have hope of things getting better.

A hopeful people and a free people are a responsible people. They will eventually rise up and police themselves and will reject the foreign terrorists' claims. Terrorism rules by fear and force and as people emerge hopeful, these tactics do not work. Remember that the terrorists are just as much occupiers as we are. Many are not Iraqis. They are killing innocent people and are not invited there. They are not good neighbors.

America is better off because as freedom and democracy spreads, we do not have to police these areas. Iraq will extert pressure on Syria and Iran and is a key strategic position for us to reform the middle east.

If you think $200B could be invested in this or that at home, think of the trillions of dollars spent to win the cold war. Remember the fear of Soviet nukes and doomsday? Remember the totalitarian regimes that killed and murdered over 30M Russians? Or millions in Cambodia or China? John Kerry argued against spending money to deter the Soviets. There were better places to spend money than on defense. He was wrong then and it is the same kind of thinking that will embolden terrorists now in Iraq and the Middle East.

Posted by Justin B at October 23, 2004 1:41 AM ET:

Remember that the terrorists are just as much occupiers as we are. Many are not Iraqis. They are killing innocent people and are not invited there. They are not good neighbors.

I don't want to be repetitive, but this is very important to think about. Clearly we are uninvited guests. They ain't throwing rose petals at our feets while we march on Baghdad. But do you think they are throwing parades for the terrorists that come into Iraq? And as we continue to drop bombs on every place that a terrorist is even near in these cities in the Suni Triangle do you think people are gonna want the terrorists near them?

So we have two critical components to the insurgency--former Regime members and foreign fighters. Regime members blend in and are from that area, but we have pretty good intel on who they are and many of their neighbors ain't real happy with them because they were part of Saddam's torture machine. Foreign fighters are just as much foreigners as the Americans. Sure they are Muslim, but most are not the kind of people you really want around. They spend their lives killing whether in Afghanistan or Chechnya. They are barbaric nomads and their very presence brings violence.

Iraq does not have the history that Afghanistan did of the Mujahadeen fighters coming in from abroad. As Iraqi patrols become more and more the method of restoring order to these areas, do you think the average Joe Iraqi is going to want his country run by another Iraqi or some foreign terrorist from Chechnya?

Posted by Ryan at October 23, 2004 2:46 AM ET:

Lack of hope being the reason that people strap bombs to their chest is very idealistic but not all that true. Bin Laden is worth 300 million and he's still a terrorist. The cause of this behaviour is islamic extremism. Poor people in other parts of the world don't blow themsevles up unless there is some cultural basis for it. There is no doubt that islamic democracies will produce terrorists also because democracy will not eliminate relious extremism. Democracy in Iraq will also look nothing like democracy here. There will be intimidation, corruption, fraud, etc. The tribal and sectarian structure of the society will also not change. The Sunni population will probably continue to fight because they know, as a minority, they will get the short-end of elections. You cannot change the nature of a country overnight. Like the Shah of Iran said "I'll rule my country like Sweden when my people act like Swedes"

People of other countries will also not respect democracy unless they've earned it. If a system of government is forced down their throat by military power, how are they free?

An average Iraqi would probably not want his country run by foreigners from anywhere. However, a recent CIA estimate said that of 12,000 insurgents, they believe 1,000 to be foreign terrorists and the other 11,000 to be native Iraqis. An average Iraqi would probably be very apprehensive about taking the side of a westerner who doesn't speak their language over their neighbours who are fighting them.

And what happens when a free Iraq elects some religious extremist that hates the West? Shiite Islamic parties are running ahead in the polls of Iraqis. Most shiites are loyal to their religious leaders so this is the likely outcome of the elections. There will be another Iran that we spent thousands of lives and billions of dollars to create. Bush's foreign policy is actually a version of idealistic liberalism of the past.

Posted by ROC at October 23, 2004 11:30 AM ET:


so your attitude, like that of your presidential choice, is that we should go back to the status quo. Let the terrorists hide all over the world and plot for years to strike us, un-defended, wherever they choose, whenever they leave the Taliban, Saddam and Bin Laden in charge where they choose how 20 million people exist...or don't, and wait for the UN to drain them of bribe money before they act. We'll hunt them down (with who...Interpol?) and kill them... (with what confiscated assault rifles?).

I, for one, would rather lure them into Iraq, and sytematically destroy them 1000 at a time... doing it over there and freeing 20 million people from oppression as an aside, ain't too shabby!

How they'll vote in the future... I'll take my chances. 20 million free men vs 3 egomaniacs... hmmm, which would you choose?

What social engineering policy would you prefer that we waste the $200B on... stem cell research (translation... abortion rights constituency), global warming (translation... one world government) or aids research ( rights constituency).

Posted by Ryan at October 23, 2004 12:11 PM ET:

No, I'd prefer we used the 200 Billion to balance the budget. The status quo in Iraq was working just fine. Saddam had no WMD and his threat to the region was becoming lesser all the time. Saddam was in a box and we should have left him there.

Posted by Bill K at October 23, 2004 5:52 PM ET:


The "status quo" for America was working GREAT until 9/11/2001

You are so naive. For you, things like FACTS and the TRUTH fall on deaf ears.

It's true that debating a liberal who can't grasp reality is about as effective and satisfying as pissing into a fan.

Even if you totally destroy their argument, they simply blame your existance on Haliburton. No wonder the only reason liberal ideas gain a foothold is through legisating judges.

Posted by Bill K at October 23, 2004 5:54 PM ET:

The major reason you can't debate with a liberal is that their "ideas" are based on emotion while conservative ideas are based on facts.

By Ryan's logic, the Soviet Union would still be around, because the "status quo" was working just fine.

Posted by Justin B at October 23, 2004 11:43 PM ET:


So they fight because Allah tells them too or they are fanatics? That does not make sense. There are tons of peaceful Muslims. Extremists take hold because of poverty and ignorance. They use the Koran like the Communists used Marx.

It is not the mosques that are the cause of the extremism. People can preach extremist rhetoric from any pulpit, but people do not blow themselves up when they are free and educated. There are millions of Muslims in the US, Britain, France, and the rest of the free world, and tons of radical fundamentalist leaders there. Why do they not get recruits to blow themselves up here if it is all about Islam?

The answer is that the fundamentalists are able to find followers willing to kill due to the extreme poverty and lack of hope. Why would people accept money from Bin Laden to kill themselves? Because there is no choice since there are no other jobs and no other hope.

And to your point of democracy being forced down their throat, do you prefer communism forced down their throat or a facist dictatorship? So your point is that democracy will not work in Afghanistan? I believe that is what you said, because the situation you described is Iraq AND Afghanistan. NEWS FLASH--Afghanistan just elected a president. Perhaps you mean to say that he is not a legitimate president. Is that what you are saying? Please clarify.

Posted by Justin B at October 23, 2004 11:47 PM ET:

Well, if the CIA report said there were only 1000 foreign fighters, what happened the Kerry talking about the world being more dangerous because we invaded Iraq? What about the foreign fihgters pooring over the borders?

Can't have it both ways. Is it Iraqis or foreign fighters that are the problem? If it is Iraqis and we created a whole new breed of terrorists in Iraq, they don't seem to be spreading to other areas. So you are saying that 12,000 people are all that make up the insurgency and they are localized mostly to the Suni Triangle?

Posted by socialism_is_error at October 23, 2004 11:56 PM ET:


I think you should be cautious about assigning a uniform motive for these terrorists remembering that, in any political situation, the motives of the leaders and the motives of the led are often different.

For an easily read background discussion of the age-old Eastern fatalism, I recommend "The Greek Way" by Edith Hamilton (available, among other sources, at Walmart for less than $10). It may help you understand better how these cultures operate.

With respect to your contention that democracy in Iraq will be distinguished from ours by "intimidation, fraud, corruption, etc.", may I suggest that we have always had a measure of the same faults in our democratic republic; e.g., I'm sure I heard of some Democrat operatives claiming voter intimidation, did I not?

While it is true (though trivially obvious) that Iraq is tribal and sectarian, it is also widely recognized as strongly secular in comparison with most other societies in the area. I think this can be fairly regarded as a check against a strong theocratic regime; but, in any event, nobody is forcing a democratic system upon them, as you claim. Having destroyed the previous governmental apparatus, we consider a plebiscite as the best means to give all Iraqis a voice in whatever system THEY choose and their representatives agree.

Of course, we would like them to experience the freedom and prosperity that our republican government and capitalistic economy combine to produce; but, at minimum, we expect them to be no threat to us or their own neighbors for some time to come.

Posted by socialism_is_error at October 24, 2004 5:26 PM ET:

Bill R:

Like Ignore the Man Behind The Curtain, I applaud not only what you have done here in terms of the specific analysis, but also the educational component of the post at the end of the opening paragraph, i.e., the idea that it is not that difficult to do a rough, practical treatment of a situation by synthesizing commonly available material.

Posted by Bill Roggio at October 24, 2004 6:33 PM ET:


Thank you. I was away for the weekend & couldn't get a connection to post. A little more speculation will be on its way tonight, on some thoughts on the missing info from investigating The Battle of the Sunni Triangle.

Posted by Ryan at October 24, 2004 7:23 PM ET:

Bush says it's "up in the air" whether America can be made safe again.

He obviously doesn't seem to have much confidence in his own policies by saying that. If he doesn't believe he can win the War on Terror, why should anybody else believe he can?

Posted by socialism_is_error at October 24, 2004 8:24 PM ET:


Let's deal with some of these "liberal'myths'".

"Iraq is getting worse"--not a myth. casualties and attacks have been steadily increasing.

I don't know if you are old enough to remember Vietnam, but I was there. I commend this link to your attention. It explains the motives behind the escalation in violence simply.

"There are no jobs"--It is a difficult job market. There are jobs if you look hard enough but GWB has lost 800,000 jobs on his watch and this has been the most anemic job recovery in history.

This is the kind of statement that leads me to believe you don't understand much about economics. The government has an influence on the economy but, excepting government jobs themselves, it does not directly create (or lose) jobs. Blaming any administration for employment levels without considering the factors not under its' control is not rational. If you really don't understand this, I will be happy to expand upon this topic.

"Health care is bad"--It is for the uninsured. For the insured, it's very good.

Health care in this country is excellent for everybody; even the un-insured get wonderful treatment if they truly need it. I suspect you meant something different, but it is your responsibility to make that clear. Another link, starting in paragraph six, makes for interesting reading on one aspect within the complexity and range of the health care debate.

"George Bush is horrible"--not a horrible person but a very ineffectual president

I would like to know how you feel he has been ineffectual, specifically, given that his presidency has produced high feelings on both sides of the political aisle, hardly a sign of someone inconsequential.

"Education is terrible"--Who said that?

I believe both parties feel this way as a result of the continual measured decline in student performance. The Democrats in particular, have always used this as a justification for massive increases in spending in this area to little effect.

"Big corporations are evil"--No, they're not. Those are communists and anarchists that think that, not liberals.

You may not think this, but surely you have noticed that the Democrat party has become dominated by its' left wing, largely populated by people whose philosophies range from European-style state socialism to Marxist communism. The former think that corporations should be oppressed through the tax code, while the latter actually do use the term "evil".

"the rich are evil"--Did John Kerry think Teresa was evil? I'm fairly well to do also. The stock market goes up more during Democratic presidencies than Republican ones on average. I miss when Clinton was president and stocks went up every day.

The answer to this is a combination of the response to "the rich are evil..." and the response to "There are no jobs...". President Clinton was not responsible for the boom, and neither he nor President Bush were responsible for the bust.

"Christians are wacco nuts"--Then I must be a really wacco nut

Once again, you know better (as I do), but phrases like "right-wing religious fanatics" have been used fairly routinely by the left to the point where one can find them in the MSM without much trouble.

Posted by socialism_is_error at October 24, 2004 8:29 PM ET:


I believe the President has just cause for wondering if this country has the "guts" to persist to the point of victory. It seems a legitimate concern, with a significant percentage of the people expressing sentiments like yours.

Posted by socialism_is_error at October 24, 2004 8:37 PM ET:

..and, just in case the prior is not clear:

He can't win the war on terror..

...without US!

Posted by socialism_is_error at October 24, 2004 8:51 PM ET:


A correction:

In my responses to your 'laundry list' the one to "the rich are evil" should have referenced "Big corporations are evil" rather than itself.

My apologies for any confusion.

Posted by ROC at October 27, 2004 2:18 AM ET:


The budget was balanced because of a Republican congress that kept spending under control. NOT because of Democrat anything, least of all a Democrat in the White House. If Clinton had his way, we would have had socilaized medicine eight years ago, then what would the deficit be? The reason we have a deficit now is because Clinton had a tax increase that slowed the economy, starting a recession six months before he left the White House. The recession coupled with the effects of 9/11 caused the job market to drop several million jobs, increased government spending and reduced tax revenues, causing the deficit. We lost 25% of our economy on 9/11, lest we forget. GWB took action, cut taxes and stimulated the economy. Thanks to his understanding of economics the economy has recovered and created 1.9M jobs in the last 13 months. The loss of tax revenue and the increased spending did cause a temporary deficit. As business volume returns, so will the revenues. Spending will decrease as people continue to get jobs and get off unemployment, job training and welfare. The $200B apropriated ($140B actually spent) on Iraq and Afghanistan did NOT cause a $560B deficit, Osama Bin Laden and Bill Clinton did. "Politics makes strange bedfellows". At least the money spent in Iraq is replenishing arms and equipment made by American companies, construction contracts in Iraq are being issued to American companies. If Kerry had his way, they would be awarding construction contracts and arms contracts to French companies to "bribe and coerce" them, as he put it. We would be stimulating their economy, (not as much as the revenues they lost when we took out Saddam, but...oh well). As an aside, Clinton's policies also caused the current flu vaccine shortage and the 14% increase in medicare premiums seniors pay, both of which John Kerry is also blaming on GWB.