Monday, July 16, 2007

Iraq - What's To Be Done


I've had the opportunity to talk with a couple of Iraqi expatriates who live in the U.S., but have family in the Baghdad area.

They each have their own opinion about what should be done there [not necessarily agreement], but both are adamant that the U.S. must maintain a troop presence or there will be unbelievable killing and cruelty following a quick withdrawal. They wanted to know what I thought would happen if the Democrats took the White House.

So, I asked a couple of questions. How long did the U.S. keep troops in Germany after WWII? [hint: 60+ years] How long did the U.S. keep troops in Korea after the Korean war? [hint: 50+ years]

I believe that despite the political rhetoric from the Democrats, they know that if they withdrew U.S. troops and it was followed by a bloodbath in Iraq and escalated terrorism elsewhere... including the U.S. ... that they would be totally discredited regarding anything to do with anti-terrorism and national security.

In fact, I think some Republicans may secretly wish for Hillary to become president knowing it would be a disastrous no-win situation for her. If she keeps troops in, but is not effective in ending the conflict, she will alienate her own party. If she withdraws troops quickly and all hell breaks loose in Iraq, she will be seen as the president who was soft on terror. What she won't do is be aggressive in going after the people who are causing the problems because that would be too much like George Bush.
Then I asked the Iraqi expatriates what their solutions were.
One said to carpet bomb any area where there were terrorists. I pointed out that was rather drastic since many innocent people would be killed. He answered that they will be killed anyway. I believe his frustration was showing through clearly.

The other was not ready to answer, so I have an open invitation to publish that person's position here. Of course, it will have to be done with strict anonymity to protect family members still in Iraq.
My own feeling is this: the "insurgents" are largely financed, supported, or manned by Iran, Syria, and Palestine [sure, that nebulous al Qaeda, too]. We already know that Iran has training bases and supplies munitions.

It is time to move the battleground with specific actions using nothing more than cruise missiles... no troops:
  • Act against specific targets in Iran and Syria where support actions for "insurgents" have been verified... no warnings necessary since enough has been said already.
  • Let Iran know that if they do not act to remove "insurgents" who are attacking civilians in Iraq, their own cities will be subject to actions that will cripple their infrastructure... specifically, I would advocate the use of small EMP devices that destroy all electrical and electronic devices in an area without harming people. The number of such devices used would depend on the continuation or cessation of "insurgent" attacks on the Iraqi population. The targets would be areas where Iranian and Syrian government facilities are concentrated.
  • Let Syria know that they will be next if they do not cease supplying sanctuary and weapons.
I know, I know... we can't do that! Just because Iran is supplying training and weapons for those who are killing U.S. soldiers, we can't attack them. That would be... would be... un-State Department! Just because Syria is providing "insurgents" weapons and sanctuary from which to move in an out of Iraq, we can't attack them. That would be... would be... un-UN!

Okay, never mind. Let's let Hillary figure it out... sure.

Meanwhile, I'll wait to hear from those Iraqi expatriates.


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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- O. Henry
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)