Cutting Costs

Belmont Club looks at the mortar attack on the mess hall in Mosul, and the media and European inclination to misrepresent, and in some cases ignore wholesale the nature of the Islamofascist enemy and the deeds of Saddam’s regime. The goal of the enemy in Iraq is to reduce our will to fight and push for the withdrawal of American troops, and the media’s portrayal of the Islamofascists as a legitimate ‘resistance’ only helps their cause by weakening support for the Iraqi people both domestically and internationally.

The price American would pay for abandoning Iraq would be steep; however the Iraqis would pay an even greater price – the destruction of any hope of creating a free nation and the ensuing violence as the Islamofascists prey upon the weak. History is filled with examples of the resulting outcome when nations reject their security commitments. Betsy Newmark points to a New York Times movie review of Hotel Rwanda, which was viewed and discussed with Anthony Lake, President Clinton’s National Security Advisor during the slaughter in the African nation. The interview describes what happens when the United Nations places the interests of its members over the interests of a people they were charged to protect. It also demonstrates how weak leadership can lead to unimaginable horrors.

In Rwanda, the United States did not simply not intervene. It also used its considerable power to discourage other Western powers from intervening. At the height of the carnage, when Belgium lost 10 peacekeepers, the United States demanded a total United Nations withdrawal. Some African countries objected, and eventually Washington settled for a severe cutback in the 2,500-man United Nations force. The commander of the force in Kigali, Maj. Gen. Rom

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.


  • peggie says:

    along the way, i saw a speech by the president of rwanda and he was critiquing the world for their inaction. how appropriate rwanda was one of the nations to agree with the iraq action. more than a few sources place the driving force behind the abandonment of rwanda at the feet of the clinton administration. i loaned out all my books, but i think richard minter wrote “legacy” that detailed the inactions in rwanda [along with all the other inactions].

  • Ryan says:

    It’s interesting that the writer of this article mentioned Clinton running from Somalia but failed to mention Reagan running from Beirut. If you’re going to point out failures, be bipartisan.
    The Media is portraying this insurgency exactly as it is. Nobody is sure exactly who the fighters are. If they were just Iraqis who were patriotic and not Al Qaeda terrorists, then would it be “legitimate”? Could it be “legitimate” under any circumstances?
    It says in the UN Charter “it is the right of any indigenous people to resist a foreign occupier”

  • PeterArgus says:

    Ryan: I certainly agree with your point on Beirut. That was the almost (lets not forget the humiliating Iran hostage experience) the beginning of a 2 decade period in which ineffectiveness and multilateral timidness began to define US policy towards terrorism. How do you know when an insurgency is illegitimate? Well look at the page 1 photos of your newspaper. When you see unarmed poll workers assasinated, suicide bombers blowing up worshippers at a mosque, etc. I think you can define that as illegitimate. But maybe the fact the MSM showed those photos was your point? Somehow I doubt it. Personally at this point I could give a rat’s ass what the UN Charter says about anything.
    Which brings me to Bill’s article. From the UN link:
    “We cannot afford to wait until the worst has happened, or is already happening, or end up with little more than futile hand-wringing or callous indifference,”

  • Ryan says:

    My main point is that this is not a moral fight because these towns do not feel liberated. What right does any army have to occupy cities that are that hostile to them ? If the people of Mosul hate the Americans so much and don’t want us there, then why are we there? The Viet Cong conducted intimidation and attacks against civilians, etc. but they still enjoyed popular support. If these insurgents did not enjoy popular support in the Sunni part of the country, people would be turning them in. People are not turning them in.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I left out Beirut because it did not lead to a wholesale slaughter like Rwanda, so it did not really fit into the message of this post. Also, President Reagan did not have a history of backing down or practicing a risk adverse foreign policy like President Clinton (Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, al Qaeda, etc.). However I agree that Beirut was a starting point for our problems.
    This legitimate insurgency you speak of targets innocent men, women and children; beheads people; bombs people in markets and guns them down on the street. Don’t tell me this isn’t a moral fight.
    IF you want to call their action legitimate, then you fit right in with the rest of the Left and media that glorifies their actions. If you can’t see that what we are trying to do is right, there is little I can do to help you.
    Merry Christmas.

  • Ryan says:

    If they brutalize women and children and are terrorists, then why do they enjoy popular support in the Northern half of Iraq? Is everyone in that part of the country a terrorist? It’s an interesting question. The Viet Cong did similar things and enjoyed popular support as well because they represented something that was Vietnamese. I bet during the Vietnam War you thought they were “evil” and the people really wanted the US to prevail. They didn’t. So if it was strictly a resistance against armed US soldiers, then you would agree it was legitimate or would you still be calling them terrorists?
    This “we are the good guys all the time” mentality ignores complexities of the world and how other peoples think. Al Qaeda did not enjoy popular support in Afghanistan and that’s why we routed them quicky. The war in Iraq isn’t over yet because it isn’t a bunch of dead enders fighting but a significant Sunni tribal force. Is it that hard to understand that many Iraqis would prefer an indigenous terrorist to run their affairs than an outsider?
    Merry Christmas to you too

  • Bill Roggio says:

    First, I was five years old when Vietnam ended. But, a lot of South Vietnamese did want the U.S. to prevail. The Vietcong were not very popular, they terrorized the South Vietnamese to cooperate and kidnapped children to fight in their army. We did prevail over the Vietcong, and destroyed them during Tet. We lost Vietnam politically, not militarily, because our leadership lost its will. Vietnam was lost over 2 years after we withdrew our military and financial support, when the North Vietnamese Army marched south in violation of the Paris accords. If you want to argue history with me, you may want to be sure you are arguing the correct points.
    Where is your proof that they want indigenous terrorist to run their affairs? The latest poll, from a Sunni area, no less, stated that over 80% of the people support the elections. The large majority of Shiites, Kurds, and yes even Sunnis support the elections. You are arguing from an invalid assumption.
    You said “My main point is that this is not a moral fight“. By saying this you imply U.S. actions are immoral, and we are no better than the enemy. When we start intentionally killing innocents, then perhaps you can make a statement like that. This moral equivalance that you put forth is the exact problem I am talking about in this post. They “we are no better than terrorists” mentality ignores the reality of the world. There are some really bad people out there that want to destroy society. By giving them moral standing, you give approval to their actions and methods.

  • Ryan says:

    We might not be intentionally killing women and children but women and children are dying from our bombs in this conflict. Fallujah has been almost entirely destroyed. 200,000 people are homeless.
    I’m not saying that we are immoral or terrorists or killing civilians intentionally. I’m saying this war is a hell of a lot more similar to Vietnam than to WWII. There is not the moral certainty of WWII in this conflict. It’s a guerrilla type conflict where we don’t know who our friends and our enemies are.
    I really would like to see the poll that says that 80% of Sunnis want the elections. I highly doubt that is correct. My point is that how can it be moral to occupy cities where the majority of the people don’t want you there? It’s very obviously that the majority of Fallujans do not want us there. So what gives us the right to be there? Just calling every Arab or Muslim a terrorist is overly simplistic and very incorrect. If you are fighting a foreign occupier in a city where a majority of the people don’t want them there, how are those people “terrorists”? They are just listening to the will of the people.

  • Vampiel says:

    I think Ryan need’s to get news from other sources.
    Here’s a few.
    There’s quite a few stories of Iraqi’s turning in insurgents, they just don’t hit front page news.
    And here’s some interesting information that I have not been able to find elsewere.
    “The detainees come up from Abu Ghraib on busses or trucks and we meet them in Tikrit and escort the busses to a smaller village outside of Tikrit. There, they are released at a “halfway house” of sorts.
    The Iraqis running this program wanted to establish a way to reintegrate the detainees into Iraqi society and try to educate them and encourage them to help work for the future of Iraq. The detainees receive new clothes and are checked out by an Iraqi doctor.

    For three days the released detainees attend classes at the “halfway house.” They receive classes on how to use a computer and the internet (something that might or might not be useful to them) but most of the classes are on Iraqi history, religion, and politics. The goal is to motivate these men to take charge and work for the good of THEIR country. It really is an amazing program and, by all accounts, successful as well. Many of the detainees go back to their homes afterwards and keep in touch with the director. Some have even come back and helped out with later classes.”
    “Military officials do report since the U.S. invasion of Fallujah, attacks across all of Iraq have dropped from 130 to 50 per day.”
    Of course there are 50 attack’s everyday. You have to keep in mind the country has a population of around 25 million people.
    “FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – U.S. Marines and Iraqi Security Forces captured 44 suspected insurgents south of Baghdad on Wednesday, December 22, as an aggressive counter-insurgency that has netted nearly 600 militants in five months showed no signs of letting up.”
    BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Iraqi Police Service graduated 141 officers today from six specialty training courses taught at the Adnan Training Center located in Baghdad. The advanced training is part of the Iraqi Government’s ongoing effort to train up its security forces.
    The courses, consisting of two basic criminal investigations, two first-line supervision, one executive leadership and one kidnapping/hostage negotiation course ran 36, 30, 11, 12, 22 and 30 respectively.”
    These are the headlines you never see. But they happen almost everyday.

  • Justin B says:


    First off, we missed you. =)

    When you say the people in the north support the terrorists, you are incorrect. ***Some*** people support the terrorists, but that is like lumping the African American population into one big clump and saying all blacks support Al Sharpton. Or support the black panthers. Surely some people do “support” them and surely others are indifferent, but indifference does not equal support. Many others do not support them but are not vocal about it.

    My assumption is that most people DO NOT support terrorists, but the risk of voicing their opposition entails being beheaded, so they simply are indifferent or just not vocal. But again, the choice is hand over their neighbor that they don’t support to Americans that they also do not support, and you choose to look out for your neighbor.

    That is the great thing about tyrrany. You never know what the people support or don’t because they are so damn scared to voice opposition. By your reasoning, the German people universally supported Hitler. The Russians supported Stalin, etc. With Facism, of course people support the leaders… they are too damn scared not to. That is why we need a referendum on terror. We need a vote. See, most of the world thought that America didn’t support Bush by watching our news, but boy did they get a shocker. We have no idea what the Iraqis want because they have never had the chance to choose their own destiny. The ultimate defeat for terrorists will be when the people can actually vote and choose who runs things and how. If the Facists lose, then the world will realize exactly what they are. They are not freedom fighters, but repressive thugs who hide behind fear and intimidation. The people are too damn scared to voice opposition.

  • Ryan says:

    I never claimed that a majority of Iraqis wanted the US out. I claimed that a majority of Iraqi Sunnis did. They make up about 20% of the country so it is likely that the 1/4 that doesn’t want elections are mainly Sunnis. My claim that it was popular is based on the part of Iraq where it’s happening. In those particular towns and cities, it is popular. In the South and Kurdish areas, it is not. The Sunni provinces want independence and would likely vote for that if they had the option. Would it be smart to put that on the ballot?
    There are 3 possibilites to end this conflict:
    1) Eliminate the insurgency and crush the Sunni opposition (this has been tried for the last 2 years and it doesn’t seem to be working)
    2) Let the Sunnis have an autonomous province or separate country
    3) Work out some sort of power sharing agreement with the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds
    I think the best right now is option 3. But I would prefer to see option 2 happen (Iraq break up) than see us end up in a generation long struggle.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I’m with Justin. We have missed you, Ryan.
    I have wanted to do apost on the breakup of Iraq, time has been short lately, but your option #2 means I should address this. Your thoughts on this are not unreasonable… Perhaps this weekend. I think there is a good reson to keep Iraq together.

  • Ryan says:

    At the beginning, I thought that Iraq would be much better as one country. However, 2 years of violence makes me think that this is no longer possible. Look at the Balkans. Yugoslavia didn’t work but Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, etc. work much better. It is much better to to end up with 3 prosperous democracies than 1 democracy that’s constantly in civil war and thousands of casualties and an endless war. Or maybe 3 provinces that are completely autonomous with a central authority that handles only defence and a few other issues. Taxes, etc. can be collected by each province.

  • PeterArgus says:

    Ryan’s options are indeed worth seriously considering and it will be interesting to hear Bill’s opinion on this. A couple of things to think about. First, Mosul is smack-dab in the middle of Kurdish territory. From what I understand it is predominately Kurdish (source: Are the Sunni “troublemakers” there because Saddam put them there? Do the Kurds really want to bow to the demands of some very unhappy Sunnis? Second, partition of Iraq may have a nice ring to it but I wonder who exactly in Sunniland are the coalition supposed to negotiate with? Tribal elders? – well then you piss off the Baath thugs. What about Al Zarq and his band of crazies? Are they going to be satisfied with any “settlement”? Of course they could consider the Sunni Triangle a good sanctuary (kind of like Laos and Cambodia in that favorite war of reference) to launch attacks on their Kurdish and Shiite neighbors.

  • Justin B says:

    Real issue with number 2 though is who gets what. Southern Iraq is very rich with oil ***AND*** has all of the shipping capabilities. The oil from northern pipelines would have to go through what would become another country. Considering that basically all Iraq has to offer the world as far as exports is A. Oil and B. Oil money for either France or Suicide bombers, you are still going to have problems even if you diy up the pie.

    We may disagree on the viability of option one and the “generation long struggle”. You are implying that the war on terror or the war against the Baathists or even just in Iraq will all the sudden stop when we get out of Iraq or give them autonomy. I think what we have is a “generation long struggle” as things sit. The entire war on terror centers on this region that spans from North Africa to Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia to the Philipines. Basically, it is us against radical Islam and they ain’t gonna quit ’til they kill us infidels. To think that they (the OBL, Al Qaeda, and other Radicals) want anything other than our death and destruction is foolish.

    Now given that this is clearly an Islamic Radicals against the Infidels conflict that encourages flying planes into buildings, I could care less whether we choose option 1, 2, or 3. I actually prefer 1 or 3, but I think 2 is going to be problematic as it allows an autonomous unit to be set up right in the middle of the region that we have already had huge problems with. But like I said before, if indeed this is a global war on terror and the terrorists come from anywhere from Libya or north Africa all the way to Indonesia, guess what, any way you cut it Iraq is right in the very middle of it all. We have cut the enemy’s refuge in half and we have already spent all the time and effort to take the area over and establish a government that is going to fight the facists and terrorists.

    Kerry saw the War on Terror as being localized to Afghanistan/Pakistan to get OBL. He wanted to fight in the most remote region of the world where no one sees the results and thinks this is about OBL. This is not. It is about preventing terror attacks on the US, Isreal, SPAIN, Tanzania, Yemen, etc. This involves the entire region and Iraq’s strategic significance is not to be underestimated. It allows us to put pressure on Syria, Iran and others as Bill said last week in the posting.

    In all honesty, who cares about whether Iraq has WMDs or not. We know they violated their previous treaties and were committing genocide, so it was Saddam that gave us an excuse to invade and control this pivotal piece of ground that divides the Islamic world in half. We cut the enemy’s ability to move money, terror, explosives, people and weapons between staging areas like Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran. Even at the cost of life that we are seeing, we have taken a key strategic position that cuts the enemy’s forces in half. You better expect opposition. But we have to remain in control of things and the elections will give the people the chance to take back some control.

  • Phil in OH says:

    You are absolutely correct that the Viet Cong were rendered completely ineffective after the Tet Offensive. Perhaps the greatest error of the entire war in Viet Nam was the arrogant refusal of the senior command to recognize the resolve and skill of the enemy. I trust we are not making that mistake again.

  • karl says:

    Where are we going to get the troops to finish the job? Where are we going to get the armor to finish the job? Where are we going to get the leadership necessary to finish the job?
    We go to war with the military we have. We also go to war with the military leadership we have.
    We have the best military in the world. Ashame we can’t say the same thing about the civilian leadership.

  • Ryan says:

    Vietnam would have been an easy one to win with proper planning. We could have airdropped thousands of troops into Hanoi and bombed the living crap out of the place. We could have landed tanks in the North and taken the whole country. This one is a little more difficult because these insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas or whatever you want to call them hide in big population centres and disappear whenever they see any major firepower.
    In the 3 countries solution:
    1) Kurds would get control of the oil rich North and Kirkuk
    2) Shiites would control the whole area South of Baghdad
    3) Sunnis would control the Sunni triangle and parts of the province where Mosul is in, including the oil rich city of Beiji. They could ship their oil out by pipeline. And if they complain, too bad. They’re the ones who are causing all the trouble. They could also enter into relations with Syria and Saudi Arabia and export to them.
    The Sunni areas would be run solely by Sunnis who would get to elect their own leaders. The Shiite and Kurdish militaries would patrol the borders and the US air force would also watch over it so that the only people the Sunnis could kill would be themselves.
    Problems with this solution:
    1) Turkey would be very upset and would likely face more Kurdish violence aimed towards Kurdish independence there too
    2) Iran would gain strength with their Shiites allies in Southern Iraq helping them

  • Justin B says:


    You are giving the Saddam loyalists Sunnis an awful lot considering their history of treatment towards the other groups. You want to start a civil war, give Saddam’s cronies the bounty again and see what happens. You don’t think the other groups would be a little upset about this, especially when it is the Sunnis that are causing all the problems and trying to tear the country apart?

  • Ryan says:

    No, the Sunnis would only control the parts of the country where they live. And giving them a decent deal is what is going to get them to stop fighting. The Shiites are a bigger threat to us anyways. The Beirut Embassy bombing and the Iran hostage taking were both the doing of the Shiites. Shiite islam is much more extreme than Sunni Islam and the Iraqi Shiite population is very religious. They are just laying low because they want the election so they can take over the country. They are our “allies” just like Bin Laden was our “ally” in the 80s. They probably have it engineered already for religious clerics to win.
    I think we should have just left the Sunnis in place. They are the least religious and most educated and they at least knew how to control the place. But now that we screwed it up, we need to come up with a solution. I think the best one is something short of 3 states. 3 independent provinces can handle their own tax dollars, schools, roads, etc. and a central government in Baghdad will only handle border security, national defence, etc.

  • Justin B says:


    I disagree about the Shiites being a bigger threat than the Sunnis. We were not fighting Shiites in Iran, but rather fighting Islamic Radicals. Call it what it is. It is not an entire ethnicity, but rather, the radical elements of the Shiite Ethnicity. And right now the Shiites are technically “in control” of Iran because the entire country is Shiite. Even if the Shaw was in charge of Iran, a Shiite would be in charge, so it is poor logic to say that the Shiites are a bigger threat. Iran has one of the strongest pro-American movements in the region, but they also are controlled by a bunch of non-Democratically elected Mullahs.

    By your logic, we should divide the US into red states and blue states and form two different countries so that each side can feel better about having their views represented. We tried that here about 150 years ago and it didn’t work.

    Those folks there need to learn to play well and get along, not take my ball or my oil and form my own state. We don’t give every ethnicity or religious group their own country simply because they do not get along with their neighbors or because they are in the minority and will lose power. Minorities have to learn to operate within the political system. And forming arbitrary states for the purpose of appeasement does not work. Look at our friends in Pakistan-India or look at Isreal to figure that out. Especially when the division of the states is under the control of the US.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram