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October 19, 2004

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"For this reason I think that the broad contours of our military engagements would be the same under the two candidates: war in Iraq and Afghanistan until stable governments are in place there, at which point we withdraw."

But Kerry's definition of stable appears to be a much lower bar than Bush's because Kerry does not see dealing in Iraq as part of a larger effort. And a plethora of errors stem from that.

"Since it was known that it would be both difficult and extremely important to stabilize Iraq after Saddam fell, it should have been obvious that we needed to have a very serious and realistic plan not just for the invasion of Iraq, but for the transition from Saddam's rule to a new, stable Iraqi government. This is not rocket science; it is completely obvious."

The problem, both now, and when it happened, is that we want peace before we have finished with the war. By taking things out of order, we make the securing of peace very difficult. By not taking people like Sadr seriously, we set up a long term problem. In many ways we crushed Saddam's direct military might too quickly and then believed we were done. (That is Bush's fault.) But Kerry's response is to act as if we are REALLY REALLY close to being done, when we aren't at all. Bush admits to a 5-10 year occupation, Kerry is pretending that we will be well on our way out of there in 6 months.

But Kerry's definition of stable appears to be a much lower bar than Bush's because Kerry does not see dealing in Iraq as part of a larger effort. And a plethora of errors stem from that.

If Iraq was such an important part of the "war on terror", Sebastian, as you have asserted in the past and are asserting now, how do you justify Bush & Co's failure to plan for it?

But Kerry's response is to act as if we are REALLY REALLY close to being done, when we aren't at all. Bush admits to a 5-10 year occupation, Kerry is pretending that we will be well on our way out of there in 6 months.

*sigh* Bush & Co's original "plans" (failure to plan, more like it) involved being out of Iraq inside six months. Without any idea of how they were going to get there.

You keep saying "Kerry is pretending that we will be well on our way out of there in 6 months" - but you can never cite any instance in which Kerry said anything of the kind.

Whereas General Franks really did say (and evidently, with approval from Bush) that the US troops would be pulling out within 60 days.

General Franks told them it was time to make plans to leave. Combat forces should be prepared to start pulling out within 60 days if all went as expected, he said. By September, the more than 140,000 troops in Iraq could be down to little more than a division, about 30,000 troops.

To help bring stability and allow the Americans to exit, President Bush had reviewed a plan the day before seeking four foreign divisions - including Arab and NATO troops - to take on peacekeeping duties.

As the Baghdad meeting drew to a close, the president in a teleconference congratulated the commanders on a job well done. Afterward, they posed for photos and puffed on victory cigars. (cite)

So, if invading/occupying Iraq was so important, how do you justify supporting Bush when it's evident that Bush had no particular plans to make Iraq work? That was Hilzoy's question, and I don't see that you've answered it.

With this, as well as Edward's list of questions in mind, can anyone tell me why, exactly, they think that Bush would be better as Commander-in-Chief?

Because he is not tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading , Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak.

Hilzoy's title is "WWKD" - but her post is all about the President. The NYT endorsement read similarly - less singing the praises of my junior Senator and more exorciating the incumbent.

I realize that re-election campaigns are often referendums on the incumbent, but are Edward, Hilzoy et al really Kerry boosters or just entrenched opponents of the President?

I think this is a tactical mistake in terms of dealing with undecideds. If they're anything like me, they dislike both candidates. Give us someone to vote _for_!

In short, can someone actually tell me WWKD that makes him a great candidate who deserves my vote, rather than just being less bad than the other guy?

And a plethora of errors stem from that.

Could you list those? Remember when doing so that Kerry argues Hussein was a threat, and that action was warranted, but only if done with a proper plan, as it was essentially not an imminent threat.

Also, by acknowledging that he "does not see dealing in Iraq as part of a larger effort" what exactly does he miss? As I see it Iraq was simply the best choice in the domino theory (which is an experimental [at best] effort), mostly because Hussein was already an aged lion with no friends. It was not, however, the only choice. So help me out here. If you honestly believe that the dominio theory is an essential part of winning the war on terror, why not at least admit that it didn't have to be Iraq? Syria or Iran (who actually has weapons) would have also been workable starting points.

There's a disconnect there in my opinion. Folks who insist that Iraq is an essential part of the war on terror refuse to admit that it didn't have to be. It was a choice to make it so. Oh, I know the president insists it represented a "unique" threat...so does Iran...so does North Korea...so does Pakistan...they're all unique.

Seriously. Intellectually this just doesn't add up and I'd love for someone to clarify why it seems so cut-and-dry to them.

Bush admits to a 5-10 year occupation,

I'm reading conflicting accounts of this. Cite please?

More to my question, Sebastian, today there's this:

Bush Doesn't See Longtime Presence in Iraq

"Folks who insist that Iraq is an essential part of the war on terror refuse to admit that it didn't have to be."

That would be because people who claim that Iraq didn't have to be an essential part of the war on terror are, well, wrong. We weren't keeping thousands of troops in SA and running daily air missions over Iraq because we felt like it; we were doing both because otherwise the sonuvabitch would've started right back up again. We've switched out that scenario with nation-building; one that is harder to deal with in the short term, but has the advantage of being actually fixable.

This is a pukka war that we're in: and in a war you sometimes have to do things in a certain order. In this one, we first dealt with the ostensible cause of it all: the Taliban and Afghanistan. Then, we cleaned out the Hussein regime, which allowed us to finally get out of Saudi Arabia, and not in a manner that allowed for a major agitprop coup for the Other Side. Now we're in the painful stage of trying to fast-track a democratic government in Iraq, which success* will allow us to move the troops out of Iraq and over to... wherever deemed necessary. Your article quoted above, btw, doesn't give a timeline for how long Bush enivsions our troops are going to be there; he just doesn't expect it to be 50 years.

Same here; but we're going to be at war for at least the next twenty. I suggest that everybody get used to that.

Moe

*It'll be a couple of years. I suggest that everybody get used to that, too.

Same here; but we're going to be at war for at least the next twenty. I suggest that everybody get used to that.

And where do you expect to get the troops to fight a twenty year war?

That would be because people who claim that Iraq didn't have to be an essential part of the war on terror are, well, wrong. We weren't keeping thousands of troops in SA and running daily air missions over Iraq because we felt like it; we were doing both because otherwise the sonuvabitch would've started right back up again. We've switched out that scenario with nation-building; one that is harder to deal with in the short term, but has the advantage of being actually fixable.

Let me see if I understand. In order to better fight the war on terror, we needed to release our troops from being bogged down containing Iraq? Isn't that exactly what you're not insisting we'll be doing for at least the next 20 years?

I'm confused.

"Let me see if I understand. In order to better fight the war on terror, we needed to release our troops from being bogged down containing Iraq? Isn't that exactly what you're not insisting we'll be doing for at least the next 20 years?"

I never said that they'll be in Iraq for the next twenty years. The Middle East, sure. We're probably going to have to occupy at least one more country before this is over; if we're very unlucky, two. But it's more likely that we'll be dispersing our troops throughout the entire region.

As for being 'bogged down': we were 'bogged down' before this because those troops had a purely reactive mission. What they're doing now is still defensive, but there's an actual, obtainable end now; a stable, democratic government. It'll take a couple of years, but we knew that going in.

Moe

PS: As for where the troops are coming from - waitasecond, didn't we ban a Don Quixote a while back? Ach, well - the answer I have is, I don't know. Too many variables.

Moe Lane: In this one, we first dealt with the ostensible cause of it all: the Taliban and Afghanistan.

Not past tense: "are still dealing with". Badly, unwillingly, and with an extreme reluctance to provide what's needed. Estimate in early 2002: $15bn over the next 5 years. But by 2003, the Bush administration had already managed to forget all about funding reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Now we're in the painful stage of trying to fast-track a democratic government in Iraq

And if it was so important to do this, why didn't the Bush administration use any of the advice they were given before the invasion to realistically plan out the occupation? Instead, Bush was apparently supportive of a plan to abandon Iraq after 60 days.

I never said that they'll be in Iraq for the next twenty years. The Middle East, sure. We're probably going to have to occupy at least one more country before this is over; if we're very unlucky, two. But it's more likely that we'll be dispersing our troops throughout the entire region.

Uhh...err...excuse me???? Why the hell isn't Bush telling us this now??? What do you know, Moe?

As for where the troops are coming from - waitasecond, didn't we ban a Don Quixote a while back? Ach, well - the answer I have is, I don't know. Too many variables.

You Did, and still does not answer the question. Where are the troops going to come from?

Are you saying you're the same person who was banned and you're still demanding an answer or that you're a different person?

Look, people. Iraq may have made sense from a strategic perspective, but it was obviously counterproductive from a counterterrorism standpoint. The only people who say otherwise are Bush flacks and apologists.

Here's Michael Ware, TIME's bureau chief:
Zarkawi’s terrorists control part of Baghdad in sight of US forces. The Iraqi government is a hollow shell unable to exercise any authority. There are terrorist safe havens, Al Qaeda-linked safe houses, bomb-making facilities, organizations, that exist here in Iraq now that did not exist a year ago and did not exist under Saddam. By invading this country, the U.S. administration has given birth to, has fostered, the very terrorist threat that they said they came here to prevent. Jihadis now come here to prove themselves, and we’re now seeing that exported within the region. Is that a success? We’re getting no traction here, we’re losing the population, and … and … Allawi, Allawi’s government is unable to move themselves. So what are we left with? [...]

Well, I don’t think there’s too much historical precedent for this nature of warfare for journalists. Journalists have always been in the firing line in one form or another. But here, we’re now seeing increasingly, we’re specifically targeted. There’s nooooo, not even a vague sense of neutrality for us anymore. We’re seen as a Western interest that, according to Zarqawi’s people, who I’ve talked to, we are legitimate to take and literally behead. So, they’re looking for us. We’re a prized asset.

Some differences in the way I operate. I used to travel out to the, to the insurgent strongholds to meet their commanders. I’d be under their blanket of protection and travel to Fallujah or, or other safe havens. Now, I can’t do that because Zarqawi’s people may risk taking me. So what do they do? These commanders come to Baghdad to see me. I meet them inside Baghdad. That’s how free they feel now. But when I’m traveling to them, to somewhere in Baghdad, I can’t travel without one of their insurgent representatives in the car, ‘cause I can literally be snatched from my vehicle. And that’s what happened to me with Zarqawi’s people. If I didn’t have one of his representatives in the car, I was dead. Nonetheless, these guys are confident enough to come and see me here in Baghdad, the center of American power. What’s that telling us?

I challenge you to find any credible expert on counterterrorism or radical Islam who thinks that we've moved the balance toward moderation rather than radicalism and violence. Heck, even the Jaffe Center thinks the invasion of Iraq has been a distraction from the War on Terror.

The people who believe that Iraq is going to become some kind of terrorist-fighting democracy any time soon are simply delusional. Do you think that when, inevitably, an Islamist government takes charge and the secular elite finishes its exodus from the country, that Iraq will be better off? That its leaders will have the political will or inclination to crack down on terrorist networks that are deeply intertwined with their religious networks? What's interesting to me is that the people who hold to the idea that Islamists are capable of democracy are on the left, people like Juan Cole, Abu Aardvark, and Raymond Baker, whereas it's the right that is gung-ho about building Washington-on-the-Tigris with these very people. I mean, the right got its panties all in a bunch about Tariq Ramadan coming to teach at Notre Dame, but doesn't seem bothered by the fact that people with far more radical and anti-American views than his are our about to take charge in Iraq. And that's a best-case scenario.

WASHINGTON , April 25, 2003 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld ruled out an Iran-style religious government in Iraq , as the U.S. administrator of Iraq , Jay Garner, said Thursday, April 24, that the formation of a post-Saddam government would start next week.
"If you're suggesting, how would we feel about an Iranian-type government with a few clerics running everything in the country, the answer is: That isn't going to happen," Rumsfeld said, reported The Washington Post Friday, April 25th

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE-October 18, 2004 :

If free and open Iraqi elections lead to the seating of a fundamentalist Islamic government, "I will be disappointed. But democracy is democracy," Bush said. "If that's what the people choose, that's what the people choose."

flip flop, flip flop, flip flop---Gee, reality is an inconvenient thing when it slaps you in the face, isn't it?

"But by 2003, the Bush administration had already managed to forget all about funding reconstruction in Afghanistan."

Yes, yes, and Gore won the election, it was all about the oiilllll and those CBS memos were real all along. As I recall, that particular 'outrage' was due to an inability by the appropriate agencies to determine the amount of funds to allocate, with the result that none did - and Congress stepped in. Grist for the mill for the Bush-haters, of course... but those of us without that meme see things differently.

"Instead, Bush was apparently supportive of a plan to abandon Iraq after 60 days."

If by that you mean that he reviewed one.

Moe

As I recall, that particular 'outrage' was due to an inability by the appropriate agencies to determine the amount of funds to allocate, with the result that none did

Right, and it was no one's business in the Bush administration to take a leadership role and decide how much needed to be allocated to Afghanistan in time for appropriations. Afghanistan was so last year - as witness: you use the past tense when referring to what are still current problems.

If by that you mean that he reviewed one.

The Bush administration did not, evidently, plan for any long-term occupation of Iraq: as we now know, they thought they would be able to start drawing-down troops after 60 days - and Donald Rumsfeld responded to the breakdown of law and order in Baghdad with "freedom is messy". (But remembered to send troops to protect the Ministry of Oil, though not the hospitals.)

"You Did, and still does not answer the question."

Actually, I did answer your question: I said that I didn't know.

Moe

We're probably going to have to occupy at least one more country before this is over; if we're very unlucky, two. But it's more likely that we'll be dispersing our troops throughout the entire region.

Er, what does that second sentence mean precisely? Are you suggesting that we're going to be fighting inside Iran and Syria without actually occupying them, or that those governments are going to disappear and American forces will be allowed to base there by the successor governments, or what?

"Afghanistan was so last year - as witness: you use the past tense when referring to what are still current problems."

Actually, I used the past tense because I was referring to a specific scenario. By the way, how short a sentence do I have to refine "Stop telling me what I really think" down to before you take the hint?

I am so, so tired of arguing about this.

What makes it impossible is the inconsistency. The Iraq war is justified even though all Saddam did was lust for WMD in his heart, because after 9/11 we cannot wait until the threat is imminent or even real--but this does not apply to North Korea at all, and will apply to Iran only when the President tells us it applies. In Iraq, which had no nuclear program, we had to invade to prevent the smoking gun from being a mushroom cloud, but we won't need a draft because in Iran, which does have a nuclear program, bombing the reactor or letting Israel bomb the reactor will be sufficient. The war in Iraq was justified because Saddam Hussein used to pay $25,000 to Israeli suicide bombers, but are we going to invade Syria and Iran for supporting Hezbollah or help Israel crack down on the West Bank? Again, only if President Bush tells us to. We need to spend billions on a missile defense program that won't work, and hundreds of billions to invade Iraq to prevent WMD from getting to terrorists, but spending the same amount of money on securing loose nuclear material and weapons in the former Soviet USSR and elsewhere--weapons which actually exist, today!--is "throwing money at the problem." The only way to win the war on terror is to spread freedom, but Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the torture memos and extraordinary rendition are justified or forgivable because we are at war. The Iraq war was needed because we had to get troops out of Saudi Arabia because they were inflaming hatred of the U.S.--but it doesn't matter that all available public opinion polls show that the Muslim world has turned against us because of the war; they already hate us as much as they possibly could. President Bush was justified in rejecting Muslim troops to aid in Iraq because we can't trust the Pakistani army because it is rife with Islamic extremism--but Iraq, where a dictator lusted in his heart for nuclear weapons, is more dangerous than Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, participated in a nuclear black market, and has Islamic extremists with REAL ties to Al Qaeda in its army and nuclear programs, and so Bush was right to invade Iraq, and it is all right that he opted out of interviewing A.Q. Khan. We knew all along that the occupation of Iraq would be difficult so liberals should not panic about it now--and we'll just never answer the questions about what it says about Bush et. al that not only did they think they would be greeted as liberators and face no real insurgency, but they actually planned to turn the country over to Chalabi and leave in six months.

The first principle--for both Bush, and too many of his supporters who should know better--is that the President cannot be wrong and can never have been wrong.

Well, it's an election year. But you guys had just better cut it out on November 4. He will never, ever, ever listen to any Democrat about the real dangers of nuclear proliferation. It will be on you to make him take it seriously, and you can't do it by pretending his record up to now has been perfect or even good.

"Er, what does that second sentence mean precisely? Are you suggesting that we're going to be fighting inside Iran and Syria without actually occupying them, or that those governments are going to disappear and American forces will be allowed to base there by the successor governments, or what?"

Oh, sorry. What I meant was that I'm guessing - wild-ass guessing, even - that we're probably going to shift over our military further away from the Cold-War era paradigms towards one more suited for low-intensity conflicts. That means more dispersed units whose logistical support will be more localized, probably less heavy armor and more aircav, extensive training up of local militaries. Probably most of the 'Stans will end up with a couple of US military bases, and ones with insurgency problems will end up with a bunch.

As for Syria - and Edward, the reason why Bush hasn't said anything is because it's not inevitable yet, just likely; and a sitting President's speculations are a bit more weighty than Moe, Random Schmuck on the Internet - or Iran, I'm hoping that neither needs to be invaded. It's even a realistic hope in Iran's case. But we probably will end up at war with Syria. If so, sure, there'll be a lot of troops there. If either falls to internal revolution, there'll be as few as we can manage, presuming that the revolutionaries ask for our help, which in Iran's case they might and Syria's they probably won't.

But that'll be Hillary's problem.

Katherine, the answer to your confusion is that Saddam had no friends. Iraq was the "obvious choice" as a pariah state in a strategic location and with a decrepit military. That's why it was deemed to be an option, whereas Iran and North Korea were not.

"By not taking people like Sadr seriously, we set up a long term problem."

Fair enough, Sebastian. Now, given the nature of this thread, can you please write, honestly, and with a straight face, a paragraph or two or three of praise -- your honest belief -- of how well the Bush Administration has handled Sadr, from March 2003, to today?

I'm looking forward to hearing what a great job they've done. Some convincing essays like that, and perhaps you can convince me to switch my vote.

I shall greatly look forward to this.

Katherine, the answer to your confusion is that Saddam had no friends. Iraq was the "obvious choice" as a pariah state in a strategic location and with a decrepit military. That's why it was deemed to be an option, whereas Iran and North Korea were not.

That's what I said. This all points back to Wolfie playing with tanks, and Bush being so shell-shocked he authorized it.

And now I'm gonna take Jes's advice and go rest...fight nicely...

e

Oh, wow, I sure am out of the loop. I thought Syria as a target for invasion had been dropped in favor of Iran. It's kind of a toss up as to which is a worse idea, because Iran is a real threat, but the invasion would be much worse. But hey, I bet we can do both! I mean, democracy's got to flower SOMEWHERE, we couldn't possibly have this mess in three countries--we probably just got unlucky the first time.

Needless to say, liberal columnists and college newspapers worried about a draft are fearmongers who should be sued for libel.

Nah, Syria will most likely be dealt with by Israel, not us. They've done very little to us to merit an attack.

praktile, I know that, but there's no asterisk in the beloved "preemption" doctrine that everyone loves to cite as a reason to support Bush that says "the thread not only need not be imminent, it need not exist", and there's no asterisk that says "doctrine void if we think the war might be hard."

praktike: Nah, Syria will most likely be dealt with by Israel, not us. They've done very little to us to merit an attack.

Neither had Iraq.

Katherine,

Just wanted to say: Well said!

I'm sure there will be some nits picked out of that, but I have to say that comment accurately (to me) expresses the throwing up of hands emotion that I feel when talking about the role the US is playing in the world today.

I wrote a bunch more here, but realized that I need to think it through to make it coherent. I will do that, and post it a little later.

For the time being, thank you, and again, well said!

crutan

In support of Jesurgislac's point about the plan to leave Iraq in 6 months:

Juan Cole

"Moreover, some of this zigzagging reflected very poorly on Bush's judgment. I have it from insiders that in April, 2003, Jay Garner let it slip to some of his staff that his charge was to turn Iraq over to Ahmad Chalabi within six months. The staffers were shocked and some contacted the State Department to see if this was known there. It was not. So they blew the whistle on Bush with Colin Powell. I was told that Powell then made a coalition with Tony Blair and that the two of them went to Bush and got him to change his mind."

In further support: George Packer's piece in the New Yorker from November 2003.

I can't find a link--the text is from Lexis--so I'm posting an extended quote, though it's really too long:

"The Pentagon also spent time developing a postwar scenario, but, because of Rumsfeld's battle with Powell over foreign policy, it didn't coordinate its ideas with the State Department. The planning was directed, in an atmosphere of near-total secrecy, by Douglas J. Feith, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, and William Luti, his deputy. According to a Defense Department official, Feith's team pointedly excluded Pentagon officials with experience in postwar reconstructions. The fear, the official said, was that such people would offer pessimistic scenarios, which would challenge Rumsfeld's aversion to using troops as peacekeepers; if leaked, these scenarios might dampen public enthusiasm for the war. "You got the impression in this exercise that we didn't harness the best and brightest minds in a concerted effort," Thomas E. White, the Secretary of the Army during this period, told me. "With the Department of Defense the first issue was 'We've got to control this thing'-so everyone else was suspect." White was fired in April. Feith's team, he said, "had the mind-set that this would be a relatively straightforward, manageable task, because this would be a war of liberation and therefore the reconstruction would be short-lived."

This was the view held by exiles in the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi. The exiles told President Bush that Iraqis would receive their liberators with "sweets and flowers." Their advice led policymakers to assume that Iraqi soldiers and policemen would happily transfer their loyalty to the Americans, providing a ready-made security force. "There was a mistaken notion in certain circles in Washington that the Iraqi civil service would remain
intact," Barham Salih, the Prime Minister of the Iraqi Kurdish administration and a strong advocate for the overthrow of Saddam, said. A week before the war, he discussed the problem of law and order with a senior member of the Administration. "They were expecting the police to work after liberation," Salih told me. "I said, 'This is not the N.Y.P.D. It's the Iraqi police. The minute the first cruise missile arrives in Baghdad, the police force degenerates and everybody goes home.' "

In the Pentagon's scenario, the responsibility of managing Iraq would quickly be handed off to exiles, led by Chalabi-allowing the U.S. to retain control without having to commit more troops and invest a lot of money. "There was a desire by some in the Vice-President's office and the Pentagon to cut and run from Iraq and leave it up to Chalabi to run it," a senior Administration official told me. "The idea was to put our guy in there and he was going to be so compliant that he'd recognize Israel and all the problems in the Middle East would be solved. He would be our man in Baghdad. Everything would be hunky-dory." The planning was so wishful that it bordered on self-deception. "It isn't pragmatism, it isn't Realpolitik, it isn't conservatism, it isn't liberalism," the official said. "It's theology."

On January 20th, President Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive No. 24, which gave control of postwar Iraq to the Department of Defense. At the end of the month, the Pentagon threw together a team of soldiers and civilians, under the leadership of retired General Jay Garner, in the newly christened Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. orha[sic] would administer Iraq after the end of hostilities. The war was only seven weeks away....

After spending just twenty-four hours in the capital, Jay Garner flew north to Kurdish territory, where he was acclaimed as a hero. He met with the two Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, to discuss the political handoff. The Kurds and the opposition leaders who had been in exile, including Ahmad Chalabi, would form a provisional government in Baghdad, along with a few "internals"-Iraqis from inside the country. When these pro-Western Iraqis took charge, the Americans could slough off some responsibility without giving uppower.

Garner recently spoke with me in his office at the defense-contracting company he now heads near the Pentagon. I asked him if these political moves had been
directed by Defense officials. "I never got a call from anybody saying, 'Don't do that,' " Garner said. "You follow me?"

But Chalabi short-circuited the plan. According to an Iraqi politician who was close to the negotiations, Chalabi, along with the Shiite leader Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, who was killed in an August car bombing, resisted Garner's idea of including internals-and anyone else who might diminish their power. "They
wanted basically to control who would be there," the Iraqi politician said.

Chalabi's obstructionism ultimately didn't matter. The handoff scenario that had been hatched in Washington was disintegrating even as Garner was trying to carry it out. "The exiles made a big mistake, thinking that they could ride an American tank into Baghdad and gain legitimacy. It just doesn't work that way," the Iraqi politician said. Chalabi and the seven-hundred-man militia of the Iraqi National Congress, which commandeered choice properties upon arrival in Baghdad, were not acclaimed by their compatriots. ("They may have looked like a bit of a warlord group," Gordon Rudd said. "I told that to Garner. He said, 'Gordon, I don't like that word.' ") Making matters worse, the police and the Army had not defected; they had disappeared. Criminal gangs proliferated throughout the city.

"All of this was funnelled up to Feith," a senior Administration official said, "and from Feith to Rumsfeld, and they had a come-to-Jesus meeting and said,
'We've got to change things fast.' "

In late April, Rumsfeld called Garner to tell him that the veteran diplomat L. Paul Bremer would be replacing him. It was a tacit admission that the situation
in Iraq was out of control. In an interview, Feith insisted that Garner's removal was routine and signalled no change of policy. He also denied that the
Administration had been intent on transferring power to Chalabi. "The idea that we had a rigid plan for the political transition is a mistake," he said. "We
developed concepts, policy guidelines-for example, organize as much authority as possible in Iraqi hands. That is a policy guideline. But, as for specific
names and timetables and rules, nobody here presumed to dictate that, because you can't possibly know that. That's like trying to tell a local commander in
advance of the battle exactly how many people to put where as the fighting proceeds. Nobody can work with a plan that rigid. Nobody here in Washington is micromanaging."

But Bremer suggested that his appointment was marked "Urgent." "I had ten days to get ready to come here," he told me in Baghdad....

To this day, key policymakers maintain their faith in the Pentagon's original plan. According to a senior Administration official, not long ago in Washington, Cheney approached Powell, stuck a finger in his chest, and said, "If you hadn't opposed the I.N.C. and Chalabi, we wouldn't be in this mess." (!!!!!!!!!) But one Pentagon official acknowledged that his agency was responsible for the debacle. "It was ridiculous," he said. "Rummy and Wolfowitz and Feith did not believe the U.S. would need to run post-conflict Iraq. Their plan was to turn it over to these exiles very quickly and let them deal with the messes that came up. Garner was a fall guy for a bad strategy. He was doing exactly what Rummy wanted him to do. It was the strategy that failed."

Sorry for the length.

Sorry also for the lousy formatting. I don't normally quote half that much in comments.

But it's a genuinely good article. It's really worth reading the whole thing.

Sebastian: "But Kerry's definition of stable appears to be a much lower bar than Bush's because Kerry does not see dealing in Iraq as part of a larger effort."

First, Kerry does see dealing with Iraq as part of a larger effort. It may not have been before we invaded, but it surely is now. Second, what exactly does this have to do with how high the bar is set? And third, it's not as though what happens in Iraq depends solely on how high we set the bar. Reality may or may not conform to our wishes. And here competence is absolutely critical. I do not know whether it would have been possible for us to create a wonderful democratic state in Iraq, but I am quite sure that by our conduct during the war, we have made several desirable outcomes either impossible or much, much more difficult. If we want not just to set the bar high, but actually to make it over that bar in the real world, we need someone who is competent in charge.

Moe: "I never said that they'll be in Iraq for the next twenty years. The Middle East, sure. We're probably going to have to occupy at least one more country before this is over; if we're very unlucky, two. But it's more likely that we'll be dispersing our troops throughout the entire region."

Here I can only echo what other people have said: Bush and what army? We have stretched our armed forces to the breaking point. We will, as everyone here seems clear, be bogged down in Iraq for some time to come. We have basically made the decision which country our troops will be in for the foreseeable future. Absent a draft, I do not see how this is possible. And if there is a draft, I predict that the backlash will destroy our chances of going by the agenda you envisage for decades to come.

In general, the point I wanted to make was: it seem to me that people who support Bush on these sorts of grounds support him because they think he is decisive and will make the big-picture calls correctly. (I am sorry if I am putting words in anyone's mouth; I am really only trying to understand. So please correct me if this is wrong.) But as far as I can tell, the big-picture decisions have already been made. We cannot invade another country so long as our troops are fully occupied in Iraq, for instance. And moreover, both candidates seem to accept this; at least they both accept the need for a stable government in Iraq before the drawdown of forces, which will be the central constraining fact for at least the next four years. That being the case, why isn't it also true that Bush's 'big-picture' skills (which I grant for the sake of argument) aren't likely to be superfluous in the next four years, while competence and diplomacy will be central?

Don't have time for a long response yet, but to "Now, given the nature of this thread, can you please write, honestly, and with a straight face, a paragraph or two or three of praise -- your honest belief -- of how well the Bush Administration has handled Sadr, from March 2003, to today?" the answer is, nope I can't. Bush's team handled Sadr poorly. They should have fought him until he was killed or captured. The problem is that Kerry is even worse. Every concrete hint about Iraq (and I say hint because he has steadfastly refuses to go beyond generalities) suggests that his approach involves less force than Bush.

If I could choose between Bush and a hawk who was willing to slog through 3 months of heavy fighting to actually get through to the other side, I'd jump in a second. Unfortunately my other choice is a Democratic candidate who was on the wrong side of the nuclear freeze issue, the wrong side of Bosnia, and the wrong side of the first Gulf War. In every single case he has shown that he wants to use less force, not more.

And that is not going to win in Iraq, much less the War on Terrorism. If you want long-term peace you sometimes have to fight hard at the beginning. When you try to skip the fighting hard stage, you prolong the conflict. Bush has made mistakes in that direction, but Kerry's entire foreign policy is a mistake in that direction.

Where do you get Kerry as dovish on Bosnia? He may have been, but in college I saw him speak on Kosovo in favor of military action, and I got the impression that he thought we should have done more sooner in Bosnia. Perhaps he initially opposed action but changed his mind? Do you have a source?

And Moe, do you have a cite about the Aghan aid budget thingamajiggy? That's the first time I've seen that explanation.

I don't normally bug people for cites but those are both new to me & interesting if true, so I'm making an exception.

(Also: Kerry is more hawkish than Bush on Darfur, Tora Bora, and the initial size of the occupying force in Iraq, and more serious about nuclear non-proliferation and non-state threats in general. Post-9/11 stuff matters much more to me than his position on the nuclear freeze when I was 7 years old, or his Gulf War I vote when I was in 7th grade.)

In further support: George Packer's piece in the New Yorker from November 2003.

I can't find a link....

Well, you know, here are some long excerpts, with the link to the full, important, article, of course. It turns out it's not so hard to find!

"And Moe, do you have a cite about the Aghan aid budget thingamajiggy? That's the first time I've seen that explanation."

I'm looking.

Thanks Gary. What the hell is wrong with my google skills this morning?

Actually, I should have said "short excerpts." But I did give it a Read The Rest Scale: 7 out of 5," which is more than a little unusual. Unique, even.

"Bush's team handled Sadr poorly. They should have fought him until he was killed or captured. The problem is that Kerry is even worse."

I was pretty sure that would be your answer. My own view, unsurprisingly, is that the critique of Kerry is dependent on mind-reading and pre-cognition, wheras the critique of Bush is dependent upon facts, the testimony of those who have served him, and one's own eyes.

And as I see it, that's what it boils down to. I prefer to risk the awful predictions and fears that are most loudly voiced by those who previously explained that, for instance, if we elected a Democratic President, the budget would be busted and the deficit would go through the roof, unlike a sound Republican President. And that a Democratic President would never be strong enough to take military action to stand up to a dictator (Bosnia, Kosovo).

These fears and predictions turned out to be wildly wrong the last three Presidential terms, so I'm unwilling to give them credence now, though, to be sure, I offer no guarantees with Kerry.

Everyone has read Spencer Ackerman's take on Kerry's foreign policy, along with Matt Bai's piece, right? Necessary reading to debate Kerry's likely foreign policy (though, of course, speculative, but not more so than people convinced he's a pacifistic wimp).

Gary, your 2nd-order link is befuddled.

Kerry has a senate record, and it suggests dovishness. Kerry employes rhetorical straddle to be all things to all people--inclusive enough to appeal to the Deaniacs and to try to talk tough at the same time. But when forced to nail down specifics--which is rare since he normally dodges--he focuses on extricating ourselves from Iraq and playing defense on terrorism. Noticing that tendency, and pairing it with his 20-year Senate carreer is most certainly not mindreading. It is identifying lifelong tendencies. If he wished to separate himself from those tendencies, he could do so explicitly. He has not chosen to do so.

Katherine, just because you were seven doesn't mean that someone's atrocious strategy regarding the Cold War can't betray his dovish tendencies.

As for Dafur, he has the same position that he does with everything: he is hawkish 'with our allies'. Our allies aren't hawkish (if they were, they might get up off their asses and do something about the Sudan right now.) Which is to say that Kerry's actual position is non-hawkish. Saying that I would be willing to embrace a pro-abortion position if Jupiter collapsed into a black hole doesn't make me pro-abortion. Contingent statements can eviscerate a position if the contingency is too remote. It is very remote in the case of doing anything other than tinkering around the edges of the Sudan.

Kerry has a senate record, and it suggests dovishness.

Not against terrorists. Kerry's senate record from the 1980s demonstrates that, at a time when the Reagan administration was covertly engaging in illegal arms sales to Iran to fund terrorists, and openly supporting terrorism against a democratically-elected government, Kerry was prepared to stand up and oppose the terrorists.

I'm unclear what else you think suggests "dovishness", except that Kerry has explicitly said that he believes war is the option of last resort.

Of course, so has Bush. The difference is, that we know Bush was lying: Kerry seems to mean it.

"Kerry was prepared to stand up and oppose the terrorists."

What do you mean by 'stand up' and 'oppose'?

What do you mean by 'stand up' and 'oppose'?

How about shut down their main conduit of funding?

Thanks, Praktike.

Sebastian, advise you google on Kerry and BCCI, if you're really ignorant of this part of Kerry's Senate record.

What was Bush doing when I was seven, again?

Even leaving that aside: Bush is dangerously incompetent and wrong on nuclear weapons proliferation issues TODAY. He doesn't get it, Kerry does. Why is this less important than Kerry's position on the nuclear freeze 20-odd years ago?

Great thread. Props to Moe, Sebastian and Katherine for clear articulation of intellectually honest positions.

I still think that those on the right are nuts, though. I understand that many neo-cons are ready to fight a multi-decade war in the ME. But you gotta recognize that the president has done a lousy job of preparing the country for it.

for example, how many times did Cheney and Rumsfeld imply that the job of conquering iraq would be easy? (this includes dismissive responses to questions about the growing insurrection.)

how much of an effort has the administration made in Congress (as opposed to at the Pentagon) to expand the size of army combat and police-keeping forces?

post 9/11, did the president call for sacrifice in a great struggle against identifiable enemies, or did he blend every insurgent and terrorist group across the world together, and ask US citizens to go shopping?

maybe the western, post-enlightenment democracies are facing an epic struggle against anti-science, anti-liberty pro-theocratic evangelicals of various religions. maybe not.

but the war needs to be fought well. and the current administration, as admitted by both moe and sebastian, has made critical errors in this fight. the administration does not have the troops it needs nor, apparently, the willingness to use those that it has as needed. and more critically, the administration appears utterly unwilling to admit that any mistakes have been made.

frankly, i'd think that the neo-cons would vote democratic. the war is not going well. if the democratic party fights well, so much the better, and the repubs can always field a stronger candidate in four years. and if the country is hit again during a democratic admin, the republicans would hold the moral high ground for a generation.

the deficit is exploding. the system for paying for health care needs fixing. the US has never been held in such low regard in the international community. high oil prices may lead to another recession. the next four years are going to be tough.

i would think that many republicans (of what deLong would call the adult variety) would let the democrat take the heat for raising taxes, cutting back on popular programs and taking on health care spending.

or is it the case that the US needs to invade Iran next year, and only Bush will do it?

Francis

"How about shut down their main conduit of funding?"

Really? Kerry was going to invade Saudi Arabia? In that case I guess he is a hawk.

Even leaving that aside? Kerry's repeated problems with understanding how to deal with the clear threat of the Soviet Union means that he is likely to be great on the less clear threat of Islamist terrorism? That is kind of revealing about how he responds to threats, no?

Much of Kerry on proliferation--especially with respect to Russia, is more reliance on his favorite multi-lateral efforts. Russia doesn't want US soldiers taking their nuclear material. It is going slowly because Russia wants to do it Russia's way. Clinton had the same problems. There are two problems--terrorists who would use nuclear weapons, and terrorists who can get them. Kerry thinks the former should be considered a nuisance, and the wants to rely on multi-lateral garbage to restrict the former. That didn't work so well for North Korea or Pakistan did it?

That's because Bush and his supporters consider every solution that doesn't involve blowing something up "garbage" and do not take it remotely seriously.

As a result of which, I am more likely to get blown up.

No, Russia does not want U.S. soldiers in there. To which we can say: if you don't want our soldiers in there, secure it or destroy it yourself, and prove it to us. You need money? We'll give you money, but we have to see results. Four years, not fourteen.

Will it work? Put it this way: it's a hell of a lot more likely to work than the invasion of Iraq was likely to make democracy bloom like a desert flower.

Instead of: I have looked into your soul and you're a good man and an important ally.

You know very well that he wants terrorism to be a nuisance in the future, he does not consider it to be one now. To pretend otherwise is just dishonest. I'll grant you that "nuisance", like "global test", is an unfortunate choice of words. I know it's much easier to attack Kerry's choice of words than defend Bush's indefensible record, but it's a waste of both our time.

(also, Russia is a MUCH EASIER problem to solve than North Korea or Pakistan. As little as I like Putin, he is not crazy unlike Kim Jong Il, and he is in much more control of his country and security forces and at much less risk of assassination than Pervez Musharraf. It is in Putin's interests, as much as it in ours, to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into terrorists' hands--whereas North Korea's interests are diametrically opposed to ours. And Musharraf has imperfect control over Pakistan's nuclear program and his country, but is not willing to give up Pakistan's nuclear program. Which isn't to say that our North Korea and Pakistan policies aren't also clusterf**ks, but at least in those cases you have really difficult, intractable problems so the clusterf**k is more understandable. In Russia the required steps are a lot more obvious and a lot easier.)

This interview has some good background information. Ignore the Mother Jones thing; Allison's no lefty. He is advising Kerry, which he should have mentioned, but that shows that Kerry's taking these things seriously more than it shows Allison to be a partisan Democrat. I find him slightly alarmist, but basically right, and he is one of the leading experts in this field. Every national security expert I have ever encountered sings the same tune about Russia and Pakistan as the biggest nuclear threats and the administration's failure to take this seriously.

Really? Kerry was going to invade Saudi Arabia?

Really? The Saudis were the contra terrorists main source of funding? This is news to me: I was under the impression that Iran was, via Reagan. No?

"Every national security expert I have ever encountered"--I suppose I should give some names here. In addition to Allison, there's Ashton Carter, also of Harvard; and Stephen van Evera and Owen Cote of MIT. Several of them have ties to the Clinton administration but they're basically policy wonks. (Allison is very hawkish on North Korea.) Those are the ones I've seen speak in person. There are others I've read who've said similar things, but I don't have their names off the top of my head.

Here's a more complete article by Allison in the Atlantic Monthly. Unfortunately it's behind a subscription wall.

You can read a bit more of Allison's Atlantic article here.

Here are some of the scariest quotes:

"Today Pakistan's official position remains that no member of Mu-sharraf's government had any concrete knowledge of the illicit transfer—an assertion that U.S. intelligence officials in Pakistan and elsewhere dismiss as absurd. Meanwhile, Pakistani investigators have reportedly questioned a grand total of eleven people from among the country's 6,000 nuclear scientists and 45,000 nuclear workers, and have refused to allow either the United States or the IAEA access to Khan for questioning."....

we have learned that in August of 2001, even as the final planning for 9/11 was under way, Osama bin Laden received two former officials of Pakistan's atomic-energy program—Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Abdul Majid—at a secret compound near Kabul. Over the course of three days of intense conversation bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, grilled Mahmood and Majid about how to make weapons of mass destruction. After Mahmood and Majid were arrested, on October 23, 2001, Mahmood told Pakistani interrogation teams, working in concert with the CIA, that Osama bin Laden had expressed a keen interest in nuclear weapons and had sought the scientists' help in recruiting other Pakistani nuclear experts who could provide expertise in the mechanics of bomb-making. CIA Director George Tenet found the report of Mahmood and Majid's meeting with bin Laden so disturbing that he flew directly to Islamabad to confront President Musharraf.

This was not the first time that Pakistani agents had rendered nuclear assistance to dangerous actors: in 1997 Pakistani nuclear scientists made secret trips to North Korea, providing technical support for that country's nuclear-weapons program in exchange for Pyongyang's help in developing long-range missiles. And not long ago, according to American intelligence, another Pakistani nuclear scientist negotiated with Libyan agents over the price of nuclear-bomb designs. Pakistan's nuclear program has long been a leaky vessel; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has deemed the country "the world's No. 1 nuclear proliferator."....

But there is a second, equally significant danger: that a coup might topple Musharraf and leave all or some of Pakistan's nuclear weapons under the control of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or some other militant Islamic group (or, indeed, under the control of more than one). Part of the problem is that in order to keep its focal enemy, India, from destroying its arsenal in a pre-emptive strike, Pakistan has hidden its nuclear weapons throughout the country; some of them may be in regions that are effectively under fundamentalist Muslim control.


Kerry's repeated problems with understanding how to deal with the clear threat of the Soviet Union

Horrors!!! Kerry was opposed to the invasion of Grenada, the Communists' vital beachead into the Western Hemisphere! He was strangely equivocal about the oh-so-vital use of right-wing death squads! He supported arms control one or two year before Reagan sat down and worked out SALT II!!! Reagan's firm action in pulling the Marines out of Lebanon and snowing the media into covering our noble efforts in Grenada sealed the deal!!!!

Why is it that 9/11 is allowed to have changed everything for Bush, but is not allowed to have changed everything for Kerry?

"This was not the first time that Pakistani agents had rendered nuclear assistance to dangerous actors: in 1997 Pakistani nuclear scientists made secret trips to North Korea, providing technical support for that country's nuclear-weapons program in exchange for Pyongyang's help in developing long-range missiles."

Am I allowed to quote this when we talk about how well the Agreed Framework approach worked--an approach which Kerry is advocating a return to?

He wants verifiable destruction of North Korea's entire nuclear arsenal. So does Bush, by the way--the main difference seems to be whether we can talk directly to North Korea about this or six other countries must be involved. And, of course, that Kerry is a shifty eyed, weak kneed, appeasing Democrat and Bush is a strong, brave Republican.

The agreed framework didn't work, though the story you tell about it is also false. It didn't deal with uranium, and that was a huge omission. Is Kerry saying anything to indicate that he doesn't want their entire nuclear program destroyed, or he doesn't mean it about verification?

I take it you're advocating invading tomorrow? Because that's the only other option. If so, please explain why it was justified for Bush to fiddle and invade Iraq while North Korea rapidly increased its nuclear arsenal and made a war which you apparently see as inevitable much, much, much more destructive; and why it is justified for Bush to give even worse non-answers than Kerry about what to do if North Korea won't disarm.

But as for the talks with 1997 in Pakistan, of course you can mention them. Are you going to respond to any of my actual arguments?

sorry, 4 other countries involved. no substantive difference though.

What it really comes down to is that you believe Bush will invade if necessary and Kerry will not. I see why you believe Kerry won't invade, but I see no reason why you believe Bush will. I think there is a reasonable chance of Kerry negotiating a verifiable dismantling of North Korea's program, and no real chance of Bush doing the same. You hold Kerry responsible for Clinton's record and you do not hold Bush responsible for his own record. I'll never understand why.

Actually, I did answer your question: I said that I didn't know.

Sorry, I misunderstood you.


Probably a preview of things to come

NY Times - U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 - The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency
described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how
to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals,
whose lives could be disrupted.

Looks like the 101 Keyboarders could be real busy in the fairly near future, if our dear leader is elected.

Old thread, but I gotta question the following assertion of Moe's which no one else seems to have touched:

"Then, we cleaned out the Hussein regime, which allowed us to finally get out of Saudi Arabia, and not in a manner that allowed for a major agitprop coup for the Other Side."

??? In what parallel universe do the various extremely-well-publicized brutalities of the occupation-- esp. Abu Ghraib-- not count as a major agitprop coup for the Other Side?

Indeed, the need not to produce such a coup was and is one of the best arguments against the Iraq war.

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