Talk:Iraq War/Archive 1

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Material from 9-11 Attack article

Richard Jensen deleted all this from the 9-11 Attacks article on 26th July 2007, so I'm archiving it here in case any comes in useful (needs work):

Bush went on to identify an "Axis of Evil" — Iraq, Iran and North Korea, citing the existence of their regimes as a threat to long-term global peace, which could not be assured with their capacity and incentive to make weapons of mass destruction. While Iran and North Korea have so far escaped serious intervention, Iraq was quickly identified as a clear and present threat to the rest of the world. However, the United Kingdom was the only country whose government supplied unwavering political and military support to the USA in its plans to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein; many other countries publically supported action, but stopped short of backing an invasion.

The U.S. and U.K governments concocted a number of controversial claims that were later found to be false and deliberately fabricated; however, they did attempt to secure a United Nations resolution permitting military action against Iraq. The authority to invade a country and topple a regime being in violation of international law, the 'Coalition of the Willing' were unable to secure broad support for the attack. America and its new coalition partners demanded that Saddam Hussein resign; when he refused they invaded Iraq and ousted him in March 2003.

The Coalition's invasion and occupation of Iraq, outside international law, led to other potential targets to develop alternative strategies of more constructive engagement with the rest of the world. Pakistan, which had been involved in illegal nuclear weapons proliferation and was the only country to officially recognise the Taliban, became a close ally in the war against al-Qaeda. Libya renounced its own program of building weapons of mass destruction and was welcomed back into the community of nations and the oil market; the regime of Colonel Gaddafi was left untouched, despite its consistent support for terrorism over the years and long record of human rights abuses.

America's willingness to act without the consent of the international community has been seena s deeply troubling for some sections of the global community, especially those whose background has much in common with the Middle East, such as many Muslims. Donald Rumsfeld's characterisation of "Old Europe" - Western European countries such as France and Germany, which opposed the invasion - and "New Europe" - America's former Communist allies in Eastern Europe - also raised hackles.

Do not misunderstand my position; I consider Bush the worst President in U.S. history and this invasion to be unnecessary and certainly in vague legal terms. Nevertheless, there's editorializing here. "outside international law" or "deeply troubling" need sourcing; they are subjective judgment.
Incidentally, three, not one, nations recognized the Taliban. LOL...sometimes I even agree with Richard.Howard C. Berkowitz 09:29, 21 June 2008 (CDT)

Needs work

This article badly needs work. --Larry Sanger 08:15, 18 September 2007 (CDT)

Couldn't agree more. I have started some work on this, but this is one big, hot potato. Keeping this NPOV will be nearly impossible, but let's try.
I have rewritten the intro and added a more substantial piece on the weapons inspections in the 1990s. I also deleted some more text about the letter to Clinton by the neoconservatives as it seemed redundant (it doesn't seem as important as to warrant that much text in the article). I'll include the deleted text here:

The Project for a New American Century believed an invasion of Iraq to be necessary in September 2000, long before their supposed complicity in the 9-11 Attack; While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.[1]

This article still needs a lot of work, including a lot of fact checking and sourcing. Can't do it alone. Michel van der Hoek 23:07, 7 May 2008 (CDT)
I can do a bit of double checking for you if you'd like, but I've given up trying to make a neutral article on this (The original monstrosity was mine by the way :-) Denis Cavanagh 18:07, 8 May 2008 (CDT)
Thanks for the offer of help. Neutrality is almost impossible here, but if we're careful, we should be able to write something decent. The article at Wikipedia is essentially not that bad, but is riddled with bad style, tendentious statements, and ill-supported claims. We could take our cue from that article's structure and instead build it up from scratch. I would propose that we steer clear of making statements solely supported by some spare articles in some major media outlet (Time, CNN, NYT, Newsweek, etc.), or, worse still, some crank website (whether left- or right-leaning). I would say that serious scholarly work should have primacy in determining reliability of statements, which can be backed up by linking to primary sources, which, in turn, can be gleaned from the bibliographical material in the scholarly studies. (If you do this, you can also test whether the source is well-researched.) See my comment below, too. Michel van der Hoek 15:19, 9 May 2008 (CDT)


It is said that the correct way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. I can't speak from personal experience, as I think elephants are nice people and I'd hate to eat one.

In this case, to mix metaphors, the Iraq War, in its present form, feels like an elephant in the living room, with an unseen but heard herd nearby. When I speak of the "herd", "Iraq war" is ambiguous. In fairly recent history, there was the Iran-Iraq War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Perhaps you might back up to a "modern military history of Iraq", break out major wars, and then some discussion of alliances. The embargoes and no-fly enforcement are significant, and perhaps something about Kurdish guerilla warfare and autonomy.

To deal with the single elephant, there probably needs to be a separate PNAC article, a "straightforward" 9/11-related article dealing with the Afghanistan campaign, some analysis of why the Bush Administration pushed Central Command to deal with Iraq, and invasion planning (Operation POLO STEP). There was some pre-invasion maneuvering and pressure, ranging from attempting to get permission for the 4th Infantry Division to attack from Turkey, the ultimatum to Saddam to get out, and initial air strikes ("shock and awe") in contrast with the extended air campaign in 1991.

The conventional ground campaign is worthy of one or more articles. It's worth making the point that such a combat was what the US and UK militaries were designed to conduct. In WWII, there was a very clear distinction between combat and occupation forces, which have different training and missions. I wouldn't rule out a grand strategic analysis, perhaps drawing from Thomas Barnett, as to whether the US should have assumed his "Leviathan" role, and then turned over the "System administrator" role to a multinational force.

It's not inaccurate to say that the war, in terms of an action between nation-states, was relatively short. The occupation and resistance is quite a different problem.

In other words, try to deal with smaller pieces, preferably with an article or even talk page comments about a system of articles. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:48, 8 May 2008 (CDT)

I was hoping to write (with help from others!) a shorter encyclopedia article with the main facts here, in the style of a classical encyclopedia, and have link-throughs to more detailed articles about the different aspects/sections. Michel van der Hoek 15:05, 9 May 2008 (CDT)

Proposed name change

I propose moving this title to 2003 invasion of Iraq, for several reasons.

First, this is ambiguous. At the very least, it needs to be disambiguated from 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iran-Iraq war, and a neutral name for just the 1991 ejection of Iraqis from Kuwait, perhaps under the UN resolutions. Now, there can perfectly well be short articles such as Operation Desert Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Mother of all Battles (well, a battle, not a war) that then point to the main, neutrally named article about the war.

Howard C. Berkowitz 09:26, 21 June 2008 (CDT)

As if this had never discussed elsewhere and CZ were deciding the issue for the first time...! I would ask (in general): does this war or operation have some most common name? Or is it referred to by many different names, and we can confidently say that none has any claim to being more common or legitimate than the others? It seems to me this is something that could be empirically investigated to great effect.

I agree with the spirit behind "2003 invasion of Iraq": we should not presume to give names to things that do not have names yet. But I am not convinced in this case.

I have an independent reason against "2003 invasion of Iraq": the war is more than the 2003 invasion. --Larry Sanger 22:04, 21 June 2008 (CDT)

In the general case, Larry, I am perfectly open to other names. First, a question: is your concern with both the justification for invading (i.e., before the war) and, perhaps, distinguishing occupation and resistance from war? Are these things that might all fit under a hypothetical "history of Iraq", organized with dates, so there could be sub-articles variously on the activities surrounding and including the 1991 and 2003 wars and the period between them? Perhaps this article would also point to the Iran-Iraq War.
It's rather like that which the very proper docent in the Museum of the Confederacy, in Richmond, called the activities between 1861 and 1865, "the late unpleasantness between the states". Neither "War of Yankee Aggression" nor "War to Free the Slaves" are quite accurate, yet both are used, and with either, it's never clear if the prewar politics and Reconstruction are being considered.
When I suggest "2003 invasion of Iraq", I'm doing it from the perspective of eating an elephant: one bite at a time. It is possible to write meaningfully about the conventional military operations without directly addressing the justification (and things from misunderstanding to fabrications) to war, the realistic lack of compliance with UN resolutions by Saddam, the internal politics of postwar Iraq, and regional issues.
At a minimum, however, I do urge renaming to avoid ambiguity over 2003, 1990, and 1980 Howard C. Berkowitz 08:24, 22 June 2008 (CDT)
I have no objection to renaming in principle, but I'd rather not jump the gun here. From my own experience the term "Iraq War" or "War in Iraq" seem the most common names currently in use for the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq by US and Coalition forces. For that reason I have some hesitation about suddenly moving this page away from this name. The 1991 invasion of Kuwait and Iraq is, at least in the US, universally referred to as the "Gulf War." The term "First Gulf War" seems to be sometimes used by people who use the term "Second Gulf War" to refer to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and occasionally by other people when comparing or contrasting the two military conflicts involving Iraq. The 1980 conflict involving Iran and Iraq--again in my experience--is more commonly referred to as the "Iran-Iraq War." So, at present I do not see any real ambiguity here. Until and unless real strong arguments are presented to convince us that there is such ambiguity, I propose we leave things as they are. A disambiguation statement can be placed at the top of the page if this is deemed necessary.
Also, while I laud Howard's warning that this is a huge topic and should be divided into small portions, I do think there ought to be one main article on the Iraq War. Summarized sections of the main developments ought to be included in this article. Specialized sub-topics can be pulled away from it into separate articles. Michel van der Hoek 10:32, 26 June 2008 (CDT)


The wording I've just changed implied that a lot of countries sent forces to take part in the invasion, which is untrue. I've given the 4 listed in 1 book. Wikipedia mentions 1 or 2 others, being inconsistent with itself. Peter Jackson 17:05, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

I don't object to the rewording, although I think you will find, in military literature, that there were small liaison and technical groups from a number of nations that thought they might get involved. See
Also, while they may not have crossed into Iraq, units from the Gulf Cooperation Council, Canada, and possibly Ukraine deployed into Kuwait, which freed U.S. forces, previously defending Kuwait, for the invasion. I would not call that totally neutral toward Iraq. For the record, I would personally call the whole idea of the invasion something word or phrase deleted that would likely be inconsistent with the CZ family-friendliness policy.
Is there something notable about Wikipedia being inconsistent with itself? Howard C. Berkowitz 17:28, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
My wording mentions many other countries supporting in various ways. Somewhere in the article, if not in the lead, that should be detailed. Kuwait & Turkey allowed their territory to be usd to launch the invasion, Oman (?) allowed its to be used for a base to plan the operation, other countries did the sorts of things you mention, others supplied intelligence, others gave verbal support ...
I simply mentioned Wikipedia to point out there seems to be disagreement with the listing in that book I mentioned (which I can't identify), & then had to give details of what WP said (last I looked). Peter Jackson 11:25, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, speaking as a Military Workgroup Editor (merely as identification), I left Wikipedia because I didn't want to play the games. Actually, there were some very good and collegial people in the Military History Project there, but there were too many times where a consensus, worked out over months with experts managing to reach agreement with some activists of all sides, would be destroyed overnight by a single anonymous editor. In other words, I don't see what Wikipedia does or doesn't do as terribly relevant unless sources are identified.
May I ask, with no patronizing intended, at what level you want to discuss it? Right now, I am speaking operationally, not the decision to invade. The orders of battle and formation are relevant to who either attacked, or made the attacks physically possible. I am puzzled by your mention of Turkey; the U.S. 4th Infantry Division sailed around on ships for several weeks waiting for Turkish permission to open a northern front. It is possible to get quite specific about this if you like. As far as Oman, it's actually more useful to think of the GCC; CENTCOM headquarters was in Qatar. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:28, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps I should have been more precise. Turkey allowed its airspace to be used for air strikes, which I'd think of as part of the war, though in a literal sense I suppose you might not count them as part of the invasion. The HQ bit was my uncertain memory. Peter Jackson 16:24, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
On the question of actual participation in the invasion, I don't think liaison would qualify. Technical teams it would depend what they were doing. If they fixed broken machines or told people how to use them I'd be inclined to count that as participation. If they were merely observers, probably not. I had a quick look at your link, but it's a large thing with no obvious location for the relevant information. Peter Jackson 16:31, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Part of the problem in discussing modern wars is that the classical models were bipolar, mostly dealing with people directly trying to kill each other, or providing direct support. While I'm not at all convinced the missiles being proposed for Poland defend against a real threat, the ranges and flight paths of the radars, interceptors, and potential offensive missiles simply do not give plausible engagement geometries between Russsia and Poland.
One of the very big U.S. concerns during the Islamic Revolution in Iran was losing some intelligence sensors that, as long as they were ground-based, had to be where they were -- unless they either went into space, or, in a more topsy-turvy reality, put a new set of sensors on the Soviet-Chinese border because while the U.S. didn't trust the Chinese, the two agreed they needed the data on Soviet missiles.
It's often not the actual killing mechanism that is the real danger, as with high-value asset, C3I-ISR, or special reconnaissance. A country might allow no more than a communications relay or a radar station, but be more deadly than if it sent a division of tanks. Let's agree on the point to make before arguing in general Howard C. Berkowitz 18:54, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
You're getting technical. (That's your job of course.) It's clearly possible to classify countries according to whether they had personnel within the Iraqi border. And it should be possible to say whether they were actually taking part in military operations or merely observing. Peter Jackson 18:07, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Again, I'm trying to understand what it is you want to be done. There have been significant attacks on Iraq, before 2003, when not one member of the U.S. or U.K. military were within hundreds of miles of the border of Iraq. That, however, was not true of BGM-109 Tomahawk and AGM-86 ALCM missiles that were delivering hundreds of tons of explosives to Iraqi destinations. Yes, that's technical. I'm certainly not going to start rewriting when I don't see the problem to be solved. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:24, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
I simply thought it misleading to say that a lot of countries took part in the invasion without clarification. How about something along the following lines?
"The invasion force comprised combat units from US, UK, Australia & Poland [any others?], together with small technical teams from a number of other countries [or list if only a few]. They were supported from outside Iraq by many other countries in various ways [or give more detail if you think appropriate]." Peter Jackson 11:17, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
Part of the confusion, I believe, is you are restricting "invasion force" to ground combat forces that crossed the Iraqi border. Few, if any, subject matter experts, speaking as a Military Workgroup Editor, would make that restriction.
While the air attacks were not as intense as in 1991, the invasion, if that is defined as the use of force against Iraq, certainly included significant air and missile attacks. As long as those attacks were not in direct self-defense as defined by Article 51 of the UN Charter, countries that knowingly supported them, whether by letting combat aircraft or missiles launch, giving bases for tankers and C3I-ISR aircraft that are high value assets in supporting combat operations, or even providing intelligence or supporting intelligence collection used in targeting, I consider them part of the invasion.
A compromise might be to list, probably on a subpage, the order of battle of the ground combat forces. Since not all the air and naval operations were acknowledged, or, for that matter, special operations forces on the ground before the conventional invasion, the list of countries and units taking offensive action in 2003 will necessarily be complete.
Perhaps some further elaboration on these points, in or near the lede, might help, but I don't see it as fundamentally inaccurate or uninformative. As you say, some of these actions are technical. It is no longer the 19th century, when the ship either shelled the coast or landed troops. At some point in writing about a modern war, the authors have to assume some background about how modern wars are fought — technically. Perhaps there are some places where links to articles about air and special operations would help, or perhaps a subarticle might elaborate without making the lede so overqualified as to lose sight of the pricipal events.Howard C. Berkowitz 12:15, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I just think it would be useful to give the reader a brief summary of who took part in what ways, just the main points, before they have to wade through a long & technical listing in a subpage. The details of this, without the technical knowledge, I have to leave to you. Peter Jackson 16:39, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
As you used the term "order of battle" above, I might mention that the information I gave was from an appendix with that heading. I skimmed past the long list of American, British and Australian units, already knowing those countries were involved, & found only 1 other entry: 200 Polish special forces. Peter Jackson 16:05, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
In any realistic definition of "war", as opposed to "land invasion", you simply cannot restrict the belligerents to countries that crossed an imaginary line in space. A ground vehicle-based invasion, with tanks and such, simply has to have a secure base; I cannot think of any realistic definition of the belligerents that excludes, for example, Kuwait. For Kuwait, it wasn't a matter of aircraft taking off from their bases, going into international airspace, and going somewhere the base country can disavow. When the tank leaves Camp Doha and crosses the Iraqi border, you have responsibility.
Even if airstrikes took off from carriers and the contintental U.S. alone, the fact that there were C3I-ISR and tanker aircraft that took off more locally, by any rational modern definition of war, include the countries where those were based as belligerents. When the downlink to the senior commanders terminates in Qatar, and the operational decisions are made in an overt headquarters in Qatar, Qatar is just as much a belligerent as the country that sends in 22 Special Air Service Regiment.
In other words, "involved" is not as narrow as I'm reading as your suggestion. To some extent, this is getting into the CZ model of expert guidance. A restricted definition, in a high-level article, to only ground combat units is not useful or accurate for an encyclopedia article. Missiles coming in from international airspace and waters are just as much invading as are Centurion tanks clanking their way in. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:35, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting that should be ignored. All I'm suggesting is a brief summary of who participated in what ways. Peter Jackson 12:05, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
I hear your suggestion, but do not agree with it. Speaking as a Military Workgroup Editor, I believe that such a "brief summary" is an oversimplification, not fitting either modern legal or technical analysis of warfare, and rule that it is not appropriate for the lead. It is fair to identify the major combatants in the lead, but it is not fair to try to make an artificial distinction about who crossed the border on the ground, at least in the introduction. As subject matter expert guidance, I would appreciate the comment of other subject matter experts, but recognize that there have been, in other articles in other fields, rather painful experiences because a non-expert insisted that certain ideas be emphasized. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:53, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
OK, but you then have to make sure the phrasing in the lead isn't misleading. Peter Jackson 11:37, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't see it as misleading, but as an appropriate level of detail for a CZ introduction. If you want to write an article listing the nature of participation of every country that had a role in the attacks of 2003, whether or not it had troops on the ground in Iraq, that certainly could be linked. Every country that knowingly allowed combat aircraft or missiles to launch from its soil, or hosted command, control, communications and intelligence facilities supporting ground operations, is just as much a belligerent as the CENTCOM ground forces led by David McKiernan. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:37, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Point on the additional point

I didn't say anything in particular was misleading. You have to remember this article is intended mainly for ordinary people like me, not experts like you. At a minimum you have to use language that ordinary readers won't misunderstand. Like all non-experts on the subject, I'm automatically an expert on how other non-experts might understand things you might say. So, for example, if you were to say "took part in the invasion", I can tell you that many people would interpret that as "sent ground combat units into Iraq (by land, sea or air)". "took part in the war" of course is broader, & would obviously include any other countries who fired missiles or dropped bombs. Beyond that I think it gets a bit vague & should be avoided. "provided support" is vague enough to cover everything & doesn't mislead anyone. No doubt you can think of others.

In the 2nd world war & the Falklands war, Portugal, as our oldest ally, allowed us to use the Azores as a military base, but they don't usually get listed as a belligerent. Perhaps you can give a precise technical definition of the difference, but remember the reader who doesn't understand such things.

Who else was a belligerent in the 2nd world war? In some sense, nearly everyone. By the end, for example, every state in Latin America had formally declared war, but Richardson lists only Brazil, if I remember right. On the other hand, he lists the Jews as passive participants.

People have different concepts, & you mustn't assume people know what yours are. Peter Jackson 11:46, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

I must disagee about one of your assumptions. There is indeed an assumption that CZ starts out being for the general reader, although such things as the "Advanced" and other subtabs reflect that not every article is for the general reader.
CZ, however, is consciously "expert directed", which doesn't mean experts have absolute authority to define everything. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a consensus, although there have been arguments about it, that one of the roles of recognized subject matter experts (i.e., Editors), is to avoid endless WP-style meta-arguments and rule on the basic scope of articles. I emphasize articles plural, as there's nothing wrong with having subtabs or subarticles for glossaries in specialized areas.
Crash of 2008 had some very strong, and indeed unfortunate, arguments between experts and respected nonexperts about what should be in the main article. Some of the compromises involved having a Crash of 2008/Tutorials subpage.
You are correct in saying "People have different concepts, & you mustn't assume people know what yours are," but, I believe, there is a CZ assumption that to some extent, when there is dispute, the goal is to have experts define the broad contexts. Editors certainly can be challenged, first by other experts, and even by members taking matters to the Editorial Council.
There is, I believe, a CZ community assumption that at some point, the experts do set the basic rules about what is relevant to an article. While I am not an economist nor do I pretend to be one, a major issue with the Crash of 2008 article was that several economists believed that the problem was worldwide, and the failures of two specific U.S. financial organizations was simply not a fundamental trigger that should get major emphasis in the main articles. Other Americans, not economists, disagreed. Eventually, although with pain to the community, the result seems to have been that the experts did set the scope of the main article, but there were subordinate articles/sections on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This seems a comparable situation. As a designated expert, I do not agree with your desire to have a simplified explanation of, frankly, some concept of "major players" in the lead. I clearly differ with you about considering certain countries, whose forces did not cross the Iraqi border, as active belligerents in the invasion.
If you have an alternative proposal, or potential subordinate article, write it, perhaps as a draft. Try to get support, from other Editors, the Editorial Council, or even a consensus group of Authors. There is little point, however, to continuing argue the essentially same matters, especially when a relevant Editor has made a ruling on scope. If you can write an article that specialists, who do have some authority in the matter, find accurate, please do so. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:09, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
You still don't seem to be understanding what I'm saying. I've accepted what you say about what should be in the lead. What I'm talking about now is terminology. Yes, it's perfectly proper for experts to define the terms as they think fit. What's not proper is for them to use the terms in those senses without explaining those definitions, whether previously, immediately after, or with a clearly indicated link (meaning not just blue but actually saying something like "in the sense explained ..."). That's all I'm asking you to bear in mind. Peter Jackson 11:25, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
No, I don't think you are understanding what I am saying. It is within the discretion of authors and editors to write what they consider to be a reasonable level of terms and definitions. As an Editor, I do not find the nuances of definition you want introduced to be especially useful, relevant, or customary even to basic articles on military matters. I hear what you are saying, but I do not agree with it.
Please do not continue to tell me that you believe my ruling is improper. I have ruled. You may seek countering opinions from other relevant Editors, the Editorial Council, or the Editor in Chief. A Constable may be able to help explain the process. I don't intend to continue arguing it. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:16, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I haven't said you should introduce anything. I'm simply pointing out ambiguities I think should be avoided. I should correct what I said above, though. The last point only applies to "ordinary language", which might be misunderstood. Technical terms like "belligerent" need only a link. Peter Jackson 14:10, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not aware that I've said any ruling is improper. Peter Jackson 14:11, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I've just seen your comments on Talk:Extrajudicial detention & am beginning to see why we're at cross-purposes. If you're not intending to write this article then much of what I said above isn't directed at you. Peter Jackson 14:24, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm a little confused. While I was not the original author of the article, I did add text explaining some of the details of the initial, conventional ground attacks &mdash which are not synonymous with overall attacks. I am entirely happy with the language I used, have no intention of substituting what you consider "ordinary language", and I do not think "belligerent" is such an exotic term that it needs an explicit definition.
As far as I am concerned, I have ruled on appropriate terminology and level. You seem to be objecting to that ruling. I see no problem that requires fixing, although if someone were to start rephrasing carefully selected terms into "ordinary language", I would object and revert it. Again, there are mechanisms for appeal, but I really don't want to keep arguing these points about the introduction. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:10, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, you don't seem to have reverted my change, so at the moment I'm not objecting either.
I'm not clear what you think you've ruled on apart from what should go in the intro. Peter Jackson 17:57, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I had not been following your incremental changes, since I had thought you were discussing them here first, as opposed to making them. Without reference to who changed what, I just did some edits on the lead paragraph and also created a brief article defining Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The Operation Iraqi Liberation, for a reason explained in that brief article, lasted only a few days, and very little use has been made of COW (Coalition of the Willing).
Right now, I don't have time to go through and read the nuances. I did correct some usages of "task force" and other terms of art, and linked to MNF-I, which may well have the level of detail you want. I am still unhappy with the emphasis on specific countries in the first paragraph and will edit the lead when I have more time. Again, for example, Kuwait was a party to the invasion under the conventional practices of international law. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:30, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by incremental. I've made only 2 edits to the article, in different sections, only 1 covered by our discussions. On your last point, I remind you again that readers cannot be assumed to be familiar with "the conventional practices of international law".
Let me give you an analogy. The Pope is supposed to be infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, in his official capacity. On the other hand, both the incumbent & his predecessor have published books in their personal capacities, which are not regarded as infallible. Similarly, in our case, editors may make binding rulings, or they may post opinions/thoughts/comments/suggestions... Common sense suggests the latter should be the default. If you want people to treat something as a ruling you should make clear that's what it is. So I ask you again, which of the many things you said above are rulings? Peter Jackson 11:29, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Constable please. Your definition of "common sense", as far as I know, does not appear in CZ policy. Perhaps a Constable can explain these to you; I believe I have made repeated explicit rulings, but I am not communicating with you, and I have a sense of this being argument for argument's sake. I request clarification from a Constable, and I am not going to continue this argument without third-party assistance.
Indeed, readers cannot be expected to know the nuances of conventional international law. The role of a subject matter expert Editor, however, is to make sure that terms are used correctly with respect to nuances, without stopping to define every background term that may be suggested. When a term of art is appropriately used inline, a definition or link is appropriate, but I believe you are asking for tutorial that does not belong in the introduction to this article. The tutorial level is present in other, more general articles, and no, it is not needed to make a link when the tutorial establishes context rather than specific definitions. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:58, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Another point

I'm not entirely happy with this wording:

"This war is to be distinguished from the Gulf War of 1991, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The Gulf War had United Nations authorization."

The legal justification offered for the invasion was that Iraq had been found guilty (Resolution 1441) of violating the terms of the ceasefire, & therefore that the coalition were entitled to resume the original war. A substantial minority of international lawyers support this. Personally, I think international law doesn't really exist, they (governments, the UN, the International Court) just make it up as they go along to suit themselves. Peter Jackson 11:33, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

What are you actually proposing? Yes, there is a difference among lawyers. I've personally been trying for neutrality, not just in this article but among several related ones. Help on alternative wording is very welcome. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:28, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not actually proposing anything definite yet. Maybe I'll think of something later. Meanwhile, I thought I'd point this out so maybe someone else might think of something. Peter Jackson 16:21, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't understand the area in which you want someone to think of something. In particular, if you have the opinion that international law is made up as countries go along, why should someone bother to start rewriting for an undefined goal? I'm not being sarcastic; but you've now said you are unhappy in several areas and I have absolutely no idea what would make you happy. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:27, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
The wording above implies that the war was not authorized by the UN. (I think the article also says this explicitly.) The point I'm making is that, although nobody claims there was explicit authorization, there is an argument that there was implicit authorization. The article shouldn't imply a position on this. Peter Jackson 11:22, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
The article says "The UN neither approved nor censured the war, which was never a formally declared war," and then goes into some of the arguments. I think that is quite clear that there were arguments, and no conclusion. Especially given that sentence in the lede, I do not see the article as taking a position. In the section " Iraqi WMD and the War on Terror", it is quite clear that the Bush Administration specifically was making the argument about UN authorization.Howard C. Berkowitz 12:04, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I suppose I'm used to the Wikipedia system, where the lead is supposed to be self-contained. Here an inadequate statement in the lead can be dealt with later. Peter Jackson 16:33, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I think that it's a simple issue. The wording of the excerpt above is perfectly fine, and there is no other way to write it better. Usually in a scholarly work, this kind of analysis and comparison is normal and necessary. If you, however, are biased or strongly opinionated about the subject in general, then you definitely would not like the wording. This should apply to your dissatisfaction regarding Guantanamo detention camp as well. (Chunbum Park 18:36, 19 November 2008 (UTC))

Constable comment

Howard and Patrick, as a constable, it is my duty to respond to unprofessional behavior. It is up to editors to hash out content and style issues. Occasionally, a content and style issue becomes a behavior issue when an author disrespects an editor's decision and my responsibility is to enforce the editors decision. After reading through the last few sections, while I do see that there is strong discussion concerning content and style, I do not see behavior that requires my intervention, mostly because it is unclear to me what decision Howard has made.

May I make the following suggestions: Howard, clearly define your decision. Patrick, if you are not satisfied with that decision, please begin by requesting the assistance of other workgroup editors.

Each of you needs to remember that characterisation of other member's work (whether author or editor) as subpar is a violation of our professionalism policy and needs to be avoided. D. Matt Innis 14:41, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

  1. It is not customary or useful, in military history, to emphasize a distinction between countries that sent ground forces across a border, and countries that directly supported military operations of ground troops, air and naval attacks, command and control, and direct logistic support. All, in customary international law, are belligerents.
  2. The introduction to an article on a specific war is not the place to define, or link to, general terms of art such as customary international law or belligerent. As a practical matter, too many blue links run together and obscure the critical ones; too many inline definitions disrupt the flow. Some of the "common sense" requests are not customary terminology; if context is needed, it belongs in Related Articles.
  3. CZ does not follow a WP convention of self-contained leads, but makes greater use of links and a system, often through Related Articles, of sub-articles
  4. The details of who took part, in what roles, etc., do belong in subsections or subarticles, not in the lead. This is a practical necessity given the article is dealing with the war as a whole, not the conventional military invasion. Many more countries participated in the occupation; the lead is not the place to make these distinctions.

Indeed, some of the disagreement does seem to have to do with trying to apply WP style to CZ, such as self-contained leads and the need for extensive inline definitions. Some, but not all, of the material Peter requests is perfectly appropriate for subsections or subarticles. Others, however, which I'll loosely call requests for "common" definitions, do not belong in every article, except indirectly through the context established in Related Articles pages, and with judicious (i.e., considering readability and running-together) use of links.

It really isn't productive to state WP as an authority. It may be useful to inquire "this seems different than WP. Is that intentional?" Howard C. Berkowitz 15:04, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

I see nothing in those rulings that I'd have a problem with. I'm trying to get used to the different system here & stop thinking in terms of self-contained leads. I spent over 2 years on Wikipedia. Peter Jackson 17:35, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
(offers hand as fellow refugee) Shall we suggest that some of our miscommunication, then, may be the different model? Incidentally, the model is still emerging. Larry created the idea of Related Articles, but there's still a great deal of brainstorming about it; see CZ Talk:Usability, and a draft of a first formal proposal I will be submitting soon, Perhaps some of the discussion may help clarify some things that aren't well documented; perhaps you may have ideas for new systems. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:09, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, I'm still trying to overcome the Wikipedia mindset. Now, new section.


One thing the policy says should be covered is the reason(s) why the topic of the article is important. Presumably here this means mainly its effects. The following occur to me.

  1. regime change: coverage already seems adequate
  2. growth in anti-Bushism, anti-Americanism, anti-Westernism, support for al-Qaida, terrorism &c: perhaps there should be more here
  3. my uninformed judgement is that Libya's abandonment of its WMD programme is unlikely to be coincidental: they took the hint: experts may disagree with thi, or each other, I don't know; if it's true, though, perhaps we should mention that the war may have actually succeeded in its (purported) aim of reducing the risk that terrorists would obtain WMD

Peter Jackson 12:07, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Every point you have raised is a valid and important subject. May I suggest, however, that there could still be an tinge of self-contained...well, not lead, but article. Thank you for reminding me, for example, that I needed to make some updates to counterproliferation. That article, as well as weapons of mass destruction, may better set a framework, with your points about Libya being more appropriately discussed there. There certainly can be a link to counterproliferation. Indeed, there may need to be an article that articulates on the technical feasibility of non-national terrorist use of WMD, which, as shown by Aum Shinryo, is not as easy as some suggest.
Shall we explore the more general WMD and counterproliferation aspects, perhaps on those articles?
Underneath the Iraq war topic are the broad aspects of the justification of the war, the invasion and high-intensity conventional conflict, and the occupation. In this article, the focus has been more on the second area. Just as Gulf War has at least three major subarticles, as well as a subpage of UNSC resolutions, it may be that the Iraq war article needs more distinct subarticles. If there is one focused on the high-intensity combat, I suggest that is the place for the detailed discussion of participants.
We still lack a decent al-Qaida article, or even agreement on how to transliterate it. There are redlinks to a great many other terrorist movements; terrorism is clearly not monolithic. When I heard of the Mumbai attacks, at least two organizations immediately sprang to mind, which may detest each other as much as they detest their theological/ideological adversaries. There were also questions of whether the tactics are indicative of an al-Qaeda "signature", or of other groups, or of something new. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:15, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, articles do have to be self-contained, if only in the sense of linking to everything relevant. Self-containment on an encyclopaedia-wide basis would be useless for most people.
Another thought. The article says, correctly, that it wasn't a formally declared war. Shouldn't this be contextualized by the fact that this had long been standard practice. (Have there been any formally declared wars since 1945?) Peter Jackson 16:04, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
First, I'm not sure there is a universal acceptance of the idea of "self-containment", and, even if there is not any beyond the judgment of Editors, that is a matter for discussion with the Editorial Council and/or the Forums, not on an article talk page.
A link to war should adequately handle that contextualization; I'm not remotely convinced the distinction is of importance, at the level of the lead, to most readers. To most nonspecialists, wars are when groups of people organize to new places, meet interesting people, and kill them. To answer your specific question, however, at the very least, Manuel Noriega, in a decision of some lunacy, declared war against the United States. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:15, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
That's interesting. I hadn't heard that, though I do remember his insistence on surrendering in uniform so as to be a POW. Last I heard, he still had special privileges in prison as a result. Peter Jackson 16:41, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Subarticles, miscellaneous coverage and help

One of the basic problems is how manage this complex topic with useful subarticles. It may well be that there will be major subarticles on the justification and Saddam's brinksmanship, on the major combat phase (which exists), the early occupation, the main insurgency, and the transition to Iraqi rule.

There are areas that I know need better coverage, but, for various reasons, either I have not yet developed at length in the article. Some are in my userspace and some haven't been started. For example, I have the start of an article on the Iraqi WMD program, some of which existed, as well as the U.S. government attempts to convince itself and others it existed on a large scale. This is in my userspace; it just was not as much a priority for my research and writing as other things. I'd be glad to hand it off and collaborate.

I have some, but not enough, coverage of joint British operations, but not at all enough about British policy debate (see above). A Brit might be better equipped to take the lead there, just as someone with language and cultural skills might be able to work, say, on the Spanish and Polish participation.

The nature of the post-major-conflict insurgency is still in its early stages.

Suggestions for collaboration are welcome. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:00, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Howard, first of all a thank you for all the work you have been doing. I agree with you that we need to figure out how to organize all this material. I would say that this article ("Iraq War") is getting to be much too large and include too many details. I am also sorry to have to add that, after being away from Citizendium for a while and returning to it now, I find that this article has become a lot more encumbered with unsourced or thinly supported statements that sound somewhat biased or judgmental to me. To give one example, the sentence "reporter Michael Isikoff, often skeptical about U.S claims about Iraq, agreed the records might have been destroyed" is one that I would not have included had I been the sole author of an article like this, at least not in this form, because this phrasing elevates Mr. Isikoff (whom I do not know, by the way) into a kind of one-man oracle. When I found out that Mr. Isikoff is simply one reporter from Newsweek I was a little underwhelmed by the credentials of the man. I personally feel that we should refrain from including that sort of statement but instead focus on opinions that are held among larger groups of people. If Mr. Isikoff's belief is shared among officials, let us try to rephrase it and source it to an official publication, or, alternatively, to an academic study of the situation. Cleaning up the article like that (removing possibly tendentious statements, adding sourcing), and reorganizing some of the material as well (I noticed quite a bit of anachronistic organization) we can figure out much better what to pull away into subarticles and what to keep in this main article. Michel van der Hoek 23:13, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm afraid that some of the statements are not going to be sourced, but are an expert judgment that variously might consider the reputation of a reporter, or the synthesis of multiple official and unofficial sources. It's one thing to expect official sources on verifiable military details, but there is simply not going to be the same sort of thing on decisionmaking inside governments. There are cases, for example, where L. Paul Bremer and Douglas Feith have quite different accounts of their interactions on debaathification. I simply stated both, and perhaps pointed out the contradiction; I have an opinion on what probably happened but am not expressing it here. Having read an extensive amount of work from Isikoff, if he agrees with an Administration position, it's likely to be a strong one. Further, I used that statement within a much larger experience base of information on Iraqi WMD and what was plausible.
You aren't going to find "larger groups of people" on some of these things, but inference. I can think of quite a few critical decisions that might have been shared by fewer than ten people and then leaked to some reporters. As John F. Kennedy said of the report from the Mendenhall-Krulak mission to Vietnam, "did you two gentlemen visit the same country?" Howard C. Berkowitz 23:59, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
Howard, I agree with you on the principle of all of your points. The fact that I still don't like the result may well be down to personal preferences, even preferences about grammar and style, so feel free to take my comments with a grain of salt. For the sake of wider discussion (anybody else out there?) I repeat my worries. My gut feeling tells me that the current way of building up the article is going to push CZ further away from encyclopedic content and into the realm of academic argumentation. Your point about Isikoff may well be correct, but if the evidentiary basis is so slim and based on nothing other than a Newsweek reporter's judgment I would probably leave it out of the article altogether. CZ is not there to render judgment calls on this type of stuff, in my opinion. If you feel it has to be said, perhaps we can alter the style somewhat so that Mr. Isikoff is no longer so prominently elevated into a position of authority. By all means quote and source things through Newsweek, NYT, LAT, Time, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MTV, TMZ or whatever. Even Mr. Isikoff. Goodness knows that I have written my share of op-eds in newspapers, so I don't feel any ill will towards journalists, but I would prefer if an encyclopedia like CZ did not use the judgment of one journalist as the sole basis for a statement. Perhaps wider research will have to be done on some of these points and if no supporting sources can be found, I think we ought to leave it out. Michel van der Hoek 01:34, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Might I suggest, then, that we focus on how to break this into subarticles rather than specific content points in what we all agree is a too-large article? It will be easier, I suspect, to discuss content issues within smaller contexts. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:54, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
  1. A report from the Project for a New American Century in relation to rebuilding America and invading Iraq