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January 29, 2005

Comments

Bird, I see you can criticize the critics.

Can you lay out what victory in Iraq will look like, and how the US occupation is going to get there?

Wait. You mean that the US shouldn't have withdrawn from Vietnam?

It's just like the old days at Tacitus.Org.

**sniff**

Ah, the memories.

CB, you lost me at

So fighting communism was a "misguided cause"?

Senator K wasn't against fighting communism (was he?) - he opposed a hopeless attempt to prop up a corrupt regime. One could as easily say that since he wanted to spend that money/energy/blood in improving the US economy and society (and consequently weakening communism), those who disagreed with him were against fighting communism.

Can you lay out what victory in Iraq will look like, and how the US occupation is going to get there?

Victory in Iraq will look like non-theocratic representative government that upholds the rule of law and allows for protection of rights, and provides sufficient security against criminals, terrorists and thugs. How to get there? Take the fight to the "insurgents", continue rebuilding the country, work with the interim government to facilitate the National Assembly's work, and support an election for a permanent Iraqi government. Troop levels may vary.

Take the fight to the "insurgents",

As in Fallujah?

continue rebuilding the country

According to reports from inside Iraq, rebuilding the country hasn't properly got started - and in some places (such as Fallujah) has gone backwards.

The Bush administration's system of awarding reconstruction contracts to foreign companies who aren't even required to employ Iraqis has been a showstopper of a mistake from the start. There is no sign that the Bush administration proposes to change this system. Why do you think that the Bush administration will ever change their minds about their system of awarding reconstruction contracts?

support an election for a permanent Iraqi government.

Better if that had been the goal in 2003...

Just because little boys enjoy the idea and institution of fatherhood and family, it isn't an excuse for them to go around irresponsibly and indiscriminatly impregnating every girl they date.

NeoDude, I like metaphors as much as the next person, but I'm not sure your remark is conducive to civil discussion.

If Iraq is a new Vietnam it most certainly isn't Ted Kennedy's Vietnam, it's the whole country's.

In another post you admitted that you wrongly refused to accept things that were readily apparent to many (The US torturing prisoners) and that in fact you made fun of those that did. Maybe before insulting Kennedy you should ask yourself if you are not making the same mistake again.

For any objective analyst the war today is a disaster and for many it is simply unwinnable. Kennedy's position is perfectly logical, if you have reached that conclusion.

OK, are we, in fact, winning in Iraq? If so, what are the signs?

praktike,

Would there be a need for Zarqawi/bin Laden to threaten Iraqis if Iraqis were against the elections, anyway?

Stan, that's interesting and makes for good rhetoric, but is not really an answer.

"Would there be a need for Zarqawi/bin Laden to threaten Iraqis if Iraqis were against the elections, anyway?"

Would it matter what Zarqawi threatened if Iraq was in an acceptable condition?

Kennedy may have some hot air qualities, but his faults are a lot more excusable than the lying and deceit of the administration that got us into this war, and which has incompetently prosecuted it.

Thus, even the town drunk can easily make perfectly reasonable arguments about the administration's failures in Iraq. Pointing out that he is the town drunk does not undermine the valid criticism.

America has the resources to prevail. Our success has more to do with political will than anything else, and the Baathists and terrorists know it. By calling Iraq a "catastrophic failure", Ted Kennedy is playing right into the hands of the enemies of freedom and democracy, and at the same time he's spitting in the faces of those Iraqis who have committed themselves to the interim government and reconstruction.

Here we go again -- its unpatriotic to say the emporer has no clothes.

Or success means never having to say your sorry for your failings (or even acknowledge them).

In fact, a much better argument can be made that the type of thinking you advocate (not stating the truth about failure) is what has led to the lying, misguided and incompetent decision-making by the administration -- it is peopled with yes men who are rewarded for not pointing out the faults and errors, which therefore go uncorrected or are repeated.

This more than anything else is the parallel between Iraq and Viet Nam.

Yes, I'm so sick and tired of people like Charles who were wrong on almost every aspect of the Iraq war and yet they keep calling those that have a different view unpatriotic or saying they play into the enemies hands.

A few comments: first, as other people have said, I don't think our misguided goal was fighting communism; it was propping up a corrupt and unpopular regime. And I find the idea that it was withdrawing from Vietnam, and not the bombing of Cambodia and helping to depose Sihanouk, that led to the Khmer Rouge taking over bizarre, especially since, if memory serves, the Viet Cong/NVA and the Khmer Rouge didn't get along.

Second, I am really, really suspicious of the idea that people in a democracy should not say what they think, especially when they are members of the government and what they are talking about is a serious issue, because it will 'play into the hands of the enemy'. We are a democracy. In a democracy, people sometimes criticize the government, especially when the government has left itself as open to criticism as the Bush administration has in its handling of the war in Iraq. I do not particularly want to give up, either for myself or for my elected representatives, the right to speak freely because of the unlikely idea that Ted Kennedy's speech will materially affect anything in Iraq.

I am especially suspicious when the claim is that Kennedy should not make a claim that seems to be true: that we have screwed up enormously in Iraq. I wish we hadn't. It never crossed my mind that we would be anywhere near as inept as we have been. But the real 'playing into the hands of the enemy' was that ineptitude, not Kennedy's naming it. Going into Iraq without a plan for stabilizing and reconstructing the country played into the hands of the enemy. Not securing the weapons dumps whose looted weapons are, in all likelihood, being used to blow up our soldiers played into the hands of the enemy. Dismissing the army played into the hands of the enemy. Sending kids with no particular experience to run large chunks of the reconstruction effort played into the hands of the enemy. Ted Kennedy's saying we made disastrous mistakes is just stating the truth.

Third, Kennedy had more of a plan than you give him credit for. There are three points, and considering a negotiated withdrawal is just a subheading of one of them. I don't know that I favor it -- I am by now pretty well out of clever ideas about what to do next, since all our good options seem to me to have gone glimmering -- but it's not his whole plan.

Finally, I read the 'negotiated' part differently than you do. You write: "Troop levels should always be based on the timing of our completed objectives." I think: in general, yes, but in this case we are in the middle of a country which is, as we keep saying, sovereign. It has the right to ask us to leave. If it does, I think we should probably accede. So because we are in a sovereign country, and one whose independence and legitimacy we should be trying to foster and not to undermine, I don't think we have the right to say, faced with a request to leave, that our objectives have not yet been completed.

What hilzoy said, with the proviso that this is terrible timing on Teddy's part and I really don't like him anyway.

I'm also just wondering if Chuck Hagel is also a traitor.

I see others up above making the same point I did about the juxtaposition of this post and the one about treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay: when you keep finding that you were wrong in facts or assumptions, and that people you disagree with were right all along on point after point, sooner or later it's time to step back and wodner if they're right on the point of principle, too. I've had occasion to write apologies to people I dismissed as "shrill" back before the 2000 election, for precisely that reason, and on some matters since then.

The fact that I find someone's demeanor, style, or history unpleasant has no bearing on whether they're doing better or worse than me at seeing the world as it is and responding effectively.

Would Ted have made the speech, if his party's nominee had won the election. If you believe the answer is no, as I do, Kenedy's motivation, other playing politics, is?

As for the Kennedy Clan and Vietnam, the Diem Brothers always comes to mind.

Various people: I don't see how it's relevant that CB changed his mind based on new evidence in another thread. If you're only going to allow people who are perfect to take strong positions, well. If you're only going to allow people who never admit mistakes to take strong positions, well.

If you believe the answer is no, as I do, Kenedy's motivation, other playing politics, is?

If it's playing politics to point out that the people who screwed up are still in power and appear not to have learned from their mistakes, then consider me a political playah. Along with virtually everyone else, left or right, I believe.

Well, yes, if you start by assuming that Kennedy is only playing politics then your concluion is likely to be that Kennedy is only playing politics.

If on the other hand you look at Kennedy'd position on Iraq from the beginning you will realize he was right and the pro War right was wrong.

rilkefan,

I for one would settle for Charles not insulting others when they have a different view, particularly when has has just admitted he was fooled by things many others readily understood.

If on the other hand

GT, just answer the question, if Kerry was President, would Ted have given the speech? It isn't a difficult question, is it?

At least Anarch made an effort. Ol Joe Kennedy was similarly inclined during the 30s, maybe Ted is just a chip off of the old block?

I eagerly await smlook's public expression of horror that someone dared to use a pejorative against a public official.

Did Zell Miller temporarily take over your body or something?

Do you honestly believe that "a strong focus on American casualties by the mainstream press", "a focus on civilian casualties after the battle is over", and "mentions of Iraq in headlines and text, and by the president’s political opposition" (!) are symptoms of a syndrome?

I'm sorry, should we be calling it "Mesopotamia" or "Candyland" instead of "Iraq"? Or would it be more polite and patriotic to pretend not to notice that there was a war going on and that it was killing people?

Do you honestly believe that if Ted Kennedy "applied the same amount of will to winning Iraq as he does to his liberalism, Iraq would be secure right now"?

I had wondered for a long time when you were ever going to apologize to the "doom and gloom liberals" and "naysayers" and who knows what else, whom you constantly accused of distorting the news and sometimes accused of hoping for our defeat, and who have been more right than you about Iraq over and over and over and over and over again. Now I understand why you haven't--and why you think the war has gone badly: it's not the lack of a reconstruction plan. It's not the decision to disband Iraq's army. It's not the uncertain handling of Fallujah or Sadr. It's not the failure to send enough troops. It's not failing to plan for a bicameral legislature to safeguard Sunnis and Kurds from the tyranny of the Shi'ite majority. It's certainly not that this war was a mistake to begin with.

No, the problem is that Ted Kennedy has not shown enough resolve. His negative brain waves are ruining everything.

You don't really believe that. You couldn't possibly. And unless I'm much mistaken you're not exaggerating for comic effect. So why do you say it?

Timmy, just answer Anarch's point.

Iraq is Ted Kennedy's Vietnam, warmed over for 2005.

Wrong, Iraq is George W. Bush's Vietnam!!! He, his neo-con buddies and the Republican created the nightmare that is Iraq!

100,000 dead Iraqis and 1400 dead American later, not counting the crips, George has no idea of how to get himself out of the quagmire he has created.


Timmy,

I suspect that yes, he would have, unless Kerry had made clear he was going to get out. Kennedy has opposed this war from the beginning and has a history of confronting his own party when he disagreed. I see no reason to believe he wouldn't have said something if an elected Kerry were doing the same thing Bush is.

Not just Kennedy by the way. There is a good chunk of the Dem base, maybe a majority, that would be pushing now for a President Kerry to get out. Heck, a majority of all Americans now thinks the war was a mistake.

I am going to paste from a Kos article, it just addreses this perfectly IMO. I hope that's OK. It's from this link. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/1/29/151826/838

"In the feverish minds of the war apologists, it doesn't matter that no WMDs were found, that torture chambers are still open for business, that this war is now rivaling Saddam's brutality for sheer number of Iraqis killed, that the Army, Marines, and National Guard are all having trouble recruiting, that our equipment is degrading to the point where we're creating a hollow military, that the war is costing us $200 billion and counting, that Israel is not safer as a result of this war, that nearly 1,600 allied troops and counting have died on this fool's errand, that the US's original choice to lead Iraq -- Chalabi -- was an Iranian spy who told our enemies that we had cracked their communications code, that most of Iraq is not under government control, that terrorists are now using the lawlessness in Iraq to recruit and train a whole new generation of terrorists, that our "Coalition of the Willing" is now a mere shell of its former self, that the world hates the United States, that the Euro is suddenly the hot currency, that Europe and Asia are both creating security organizations excluding the US, and that tens of thousands of our soldiers are coming home physically and mentally maimed.

None of that matters to them.

But they see the war getting out of hand. They've see our chances of victory go from little to nothing. And they've got to blame someone. Anyone. And of course, it can't be Saint George, because he's perfect and can do no wrong. So blame Kennedy. Blame Boxer. Blame France. Blame Canada. Blame anti-war bloggers. Because it is they who have botched up the Iraqi campaign to the point of no hope. If it wasn't for them, our troops would still be basking in a flood of rose petals."

I suspect that yes, he would have

Well GT, then we disagree.

rilkefan, the timing of Ted's speech is troubling nothing more. Ted is just repeating lines he has used before. The big problem for Ted is, if we, America, succeeds in Iraq Ted looses big time. I'm hoping that Ted takes a really big fall. What are you hoping for?

"If he applied the same amount of will to winning Iraq as he does to his liberalism, Iraq would be secure right now."

If an old man who has been the butt of jokes for decades just applied a bit of will, Iraq would be secure? That is all it takes? No need for better planning by those whose job it was to plan. No need for better armour on the humvees. No need for more troops, or better supervision of interrogations, or understanding of the Iraqi political scene. Just mobilise the mighty Will of Ted and security is assured.

I have spent many an hour reading about how the US got itself into the Vietnam quagmire. In my judgement it was mostly a matter of wooly rhetoric like this clouding the judgement of people at all levels of American society. They had the will in cartloads. They knew amazingly little about the Vietnamese.

Will is not enough. Try thinking. In particular try reading what you write before you post it and ask yourself do I really, seriously, believe this and if so, why?

If America succeeds in Iraq Ted doesn't lose.

That's the typical right wing smear campaign which presumes that those that oppose the war WANT America to fail instead of understanding that they oppose it because they DONT WANT America to fail.

Can we PLEASE keep those smear campaigns away from this blog?

In another post you admitted that you wrongly refused to accept things that were readily apparent to many (The US torturing prisoners) and that in fact you made fun of those that did.

Perhaps you should not misinterpret and misread what I wrote.

GT, yes Ted does loses. And I believe my comment was directed at Ted and his speech. Should we go to the video tape and point out why.

I have spent many an hour reading about how the US got itself into the Vietnam quagmire.

Kevin, I'm interested in your view on the role JFK played in commiting us to Nam.

I did neither. As you posted you ridiculed the Mirror (your own words, not mine) for posting something that turned out to be true. Many people at the time, unlike you, did believe the Mirror and others that reported prisoner abuse, maybe because they didn't automatically believe everything the Bush admin said. Thery didn't feel the need to ridicule them. You did.

Yet you were fooled and others weren't. Turns out you were not a very good observer on this topic. Yet you feel comfortable attacking Kennedy who has been much more correct than you have on the Iraq war. In fact I have read your posts for a long time and have a hard time remembering when you got anything major right. Kennedy on the other hand, like many others, predicted much of the mess and disaster we find ourselves in.

Given all of that a little humility is i order. It's OK to have an opnion. Just try and not insult those that have such a better track record than you on this.

Timmy,

No, Ted doesn't lose. That's a right wing smear campaign and should have no place in this blog.

GT: walk away, man, Timmy's just trying to bait you. Don't fall for it; just laugh at him until he wanders off again. As for CB, I'm not unsympathetic to your anger -- lord knows I've felt it myself -- but it's probably not productive. YMMV.

Anarch,

It's not just anger. It's accountability.

As for Timmy there's a reason I posted what I did the other day.

Here we go again -- its unpatriotic to say the emporer has no clothes.

Stop distorting, dm. You too, GT, for this: "...yet they keep calling those that have a different view unpatriotic..." I specifically wrote that what Kennedy said was wrong, not unpatriotic.

Third, Kennedy had more of a plan than you give him credit for. There are three points, and considering a negotiated withdrawal is just a subheading of one of them.

Kennedy offered no substantive alternatives, hilzoy, because he proposed the very things the administration is already doing. As for Kennedy's statement of "catastrophic failure", his assessment is way way too premature. No doubt the prosecution of the post-war has been riddled with mistakes. But so what. We're in it, and to ensure long term success in the War on Terror, the best course is to gut it out. Mistakes are made every war. Kennedy's call for troop withdrawals is entirely political and he provided no military justification for the immediate 12,000 troop withdrawal or the 2006 timing. He is basically calling for us to lose. I don't accept that, and I'm going to criticize him for undermining our national political will to achieve victory. As for my statement about his words playing into our enemies' hands, I dispute your assertion that that was calling Kennedy unpatriotic. What Kennedy said wrong, not seditious. Our backing out of Fallujah last spring also played into our enemies' hand, and by the same token, that decision was wrong, not treasonous.

It's just that...yelling democracy and freedom and liberty as an excuse for irresponsibility and mayhem...this is mind blowing. Like kids playing video games.

I'll calm down.

Kennedy offered no substantive alternatives, hilzoy, because he proposed the very things the administration is already doing.

How so?

No Charles.

First you practically blamed Kennedy for our loss in Vietnam ( In June 1973, he voted to cut off all funding to the South Vietnamese government, practically ensuring a communist takeover by the North Vietnamese, the ramifications of which were the killing fields of Cambodia and a bruised and shaken USA for years to come.)

Then you said he was aiding the enemy: Ted Kennedy is playing right into the hands of the enemies of freedom and democracy.

You have proven a pretty bad analyst of Iraq but you do know how to use words. The meaning and intent is clear. Don't weasel out from what you wrote. It's clear you are trying to blame Kennedy for us losing in Iraq and are implying he is helping our enemies.

I repeat. Given your sad, sad, history as an Iraq analyst, given that you have admitted to being fooled by things others readily understood, a little humility and a lot less insulting is in order.

Given your sad, sad, history as an Iraq analyst

GT, people who live in glass houses et al, talk about missing the boat, your Iraqi analysis last April and May fits the bill nicely.

Ted does lose and Bush wins, if an Iraqi Republic is established. I believe you understand why.

It's an interesting method of getting rid of responsibility. Iraq is the Bush administration's war. There was no real reason to invade: there was no real reason to invade when they did. They chose to invade and to occupy without sufficient soldiers, without sufficient equipment, without proper planning, and the result was the disaster we see now.

Who to blame? Logically, the people who decided to plung the US and Iraq into this disaster, and who are responsible for the planning (or lack of it), the troop levels, the logistics - the people who made the decision to go in and who have micromanaged every disaster since.

But for Bush supporters, it doesn't sit well to hold the Bush administration responsible for leading the US to defeat in Iraq, and they need to blame someone else - anyone else: especially if you hold the view that people who point out disastrous mistakes are more responsible for them than the people who created those disastrous mistakes. Blame Ted Kennedy: why not. It makes no sense to blame someone who had no part in it, but it made no sense to blame John Kerry for the US's defeat in Vietnam.

CB: Just for the record: I didn't say that you said Kennedy's speech was unpatriotic. I tried to stick to your words.

About Kennedy's points: there are three. First, "to allow the creation of a legitimate, functioning Iraqi government, not to dictate it." Here he makes it clear that his main point of difference with Bush is that he thinks we should not try to control the government, and should send clear signals to that effect.

"Unless Iraqis have a genuine sense that their leaders are not our puppets, the election cannot be the turning point the Administration hopes.

To enhance its legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people, the new Iraqi Government should begin to disengage politically from America, and we from them."

His second point: "the Iraqis need a clear signal that America has a genuine exit strategy. The Iraqi people do not believe that America intends no long-term military presence in their country. Our reluctance to make that clear has fueled suspicions among Iraqis that our motives are not pure, that we want their oil, and that we will never leave.  As long as our presence seems ongoing, America’s commitment to their democracy sounds unconvincing."

This is not something that Bush is already doing. And Kennedy proposes various steps in addition to negotiating a timeline for troop withdrawals, like these: "The President should do more to make it clear that America intends no long-term presence.  He should disavow the permanence of our so-called  “enduring” military bases in Iraq.   He should announce that America will dramatically reduce the size of the American Embassy -- the largest in the world."Again, not steps Bush is taking.

Third, "we need to train and equip an effective Iraqi security force.  We have a year to do so before the election of the permanent Iraqi government." This is something Bush is doing. However, Kennedy says (rightly in my view) that he's not doing it right: "The current training program is in deep trouble, and Iraqi forces are far from being capable, committed, and effective. In too many cases, they cannot even defend themselves, and have fled at the first sign of battle." And he thinks this will change only if Iraqis become more committed to their government, and that this in turn requires his step 1: making it clear that we are not pulling the strings.

Look, Ted Kennedy is not my favorite senator ever. But I don't think it's right to say that he offers no plan, or that he only proposes steps Bush is taking anyways.

"Victory in Iraq will look like non-theocratic representative government that upholds the rule of law and allows for protection of rights, and provides sufficient security against criminals, terrorists and thugs."

CB, with all due respect, this is a wish list that not only doesn't try to say how any item on it can be accomplished, but flies in the face of what's already going on.

"Non-theocratic representative government." That seems exceedingly unlikely, given Iraq's recent history; and what do you propose we "should" do if the election doesn't go that way? Ignore the results?

"That upholds the rule of law and allows for protection of rights." Ah. Well. See, this is why Abu Ghraib was such a disaster: we're really not in much of a position to insist the new government have a better take on that than we did. And Allawi, the heavy favorite to win and keep the top spot in the new government, has already shown signs of being Saddam Lite. So: what do you propose we use for leverage, to make him a better man than, say, General Sanchez and General Miller?

"...and provides sufficient security against criminals, terrorists and thugs." From your mouth to Allah's ear :) This is where a real coalition might've been nice, in that other countries and organizations could have sent people who know how to set up, equip and train police/security forces, instead of US soldiers carrying that load as well as fighting the war. This is also where hiring Iraqis to help rebuild their own country might've been nice, instead of importing contractors to do the work, as then Iraqis would have less of a sense of being charity cases in their own country and more of a sense of being citizens of a - wait for it, wait for it - ownership society.


Then you say: "How to get there? Take the fight to the "insurgents", continue rebuilding the country, work with the interim government to facilitate the National Assembly's work, and support an election for a permanent Iraqi government. Troop levels may vary."

'Take the fight to the insurgents'? Isn't that what the US has been doing? Wasn't that the idea behind razing Fallujah? H'mm. Doesn't seem to be working according to plan so far.

The rest of the list is, again, wishful vaporware. It isn't just that the Bush Admin's strategists have no idea how to actually do any of that, it's also that the Bush Admin's strategists keep rolling snake-eyes, over and over, and can't seem to stop, because stopping would require they admit they've been wrong so far, and they can't do that.

I've been wrong many times. The only way not to be wrong is to never make predictions. If you have any specific comments please link them. Yo know how to use a search function.

And I ask again, please keep right wing smear campaigns off this blog.

Charles, please. You don't have to use the word "unpatriotic" to accuse someone of being unpatriotic. You accused him of spitting in the faces of Iraqi civilians, approvingly quoted a piece that described Kennedy as the leader of "Democrats who sound like they're cheerleading for America to fail", and approvingly linked to an article that said this:

Another danger is that Bush will lose the election, bringing into power one of the key figures involved in exploiting the Vietnam Syndrome in the ‘70s, John Kerry, who met with the enemies of the US and then urged unconditional surrender in a widely publicized Senate appearance. Our enemies know this and are looking forward to an administration run by him.

Don't back off now and claim you're just saying he's just sadly misguided. Have the courage of your nasty insinuations, at least.

As for whether it's politically motivated: pretty much no matter what he says, Ted Kennedy will keep getting elected to the Senate from Massachusetts. (unless he's convicted of a crime--or something equally unlikely.) Pretty much no matter what he says, he will never get elected or appointed to a position higher than that (unless he has a miraculous improvement in health, goes to Pakistan to celebrate, and somehow helps capture Osama bin Laden--or something equally unlikely.)

This analysis may well be politically astute, after a fashion. It is likely true that the Democrats are hamstrung by Iraq. If there are any good non-Bushian solutions to the problem -- the Bushian solution is proving itself to be a fiasco --, they are likely too obscure or too unfortunate in appearance to be politically viable. Certainly the cut-and-run option is foolish in that it is not only political suicide but would manage to make things worse in the Middle East.

The problem with your analysis is that, more than anything else, it is one-half of the argument against going into Iraq in the first place. Once in, there is a need to stay in. The other half of the analysis is that Being in will only prove to further radicalize an already radicalized segment of the Islamic population.

Democracy is a process, not a result. In the case of Iraq, and the Middle East in general, the act of invading exacerbates the mistrust and fear of centralized power fostered by decades of totalitarian rule. For the Iraqi people, the cruel lesson of Saddam Hussein is that power is to be feared; unless it is you (or your own) who holds the power.

Nothing in the invasion -- certainly a liberation -- instructed the Iraqi people as to the value of power dispersed. Unless that lesson could be taught, going in was a horrible idea. This leaves the democrats in their current quandry, what to do. What to say to do.

Ted is just wrong here . . . but then he never wanted to go in from the start.

IF,

Cut and run used to be political suicide. That is changing fast. At this rate in a year or two it will be downright popular.

"Kevin, I'm interested in your view on the role JFK played in commiting us to Nam."

A huge subject so let's not stray too far off-topic. I think JFK is a very good example of the wooly rhetoric and sloppy thinking I referred to above, which was a feature of the slide into Vietnam as well as the current mess. The "pay any price, bear any burden" speech was beautiful. The trouble was, he became a prisoner of his rhetoric. Add to that the fact that he had sold himself as a tougher hawk than Eisenhower and you can see how he deprived himself of the space for compromise.

Look at CB's post and you see how people would have reacted if JFK had been more flexible. For far too many Americans, the desire to understand how other cultures work is a symptom of a weakness. In fairness to JFK, he knew that hangup leads to bad decisions, but knowing didn't solve his problem. As he said to JK Galbraith: so few people have the courage to be sensible.

Look at CB's post and you see how much courage it takes. Common sense is for wimps. Tough guys make strong statements which demonstrate what the Fafblog aptly calls their strong strengthliness.

GT: At this rate in a year or two it will be downright popular.

...which is when Bush will suddenly decide to do it, I imagine. (And all his supporters will explain why it's not really cutting and running.)

See, what really burns me is that I have never supported cutting and running. I didn't support the war to begin with, but it always seemed to me that once you're in, you stay there and do it right. But I honestly wonder when I'm going to reach the point at which I conclude that this administration has made so many mistakes, and is likely to make so many more, that the situation is not recoverable, and we're only making things worse. This is not a conclusion I have any desire to draw. I really, really want this to work, now that it has been started. But we have done so many things so badly wrong that I'm not sure I can see how this will happen, at this point. (And I'd feel differently if the people who made the mistakes were held accountable rather than kept in place and given the Congressional Medal of Freedom.)

unless he's convicted of a crime

Katherine, what are the statute of limitations in the Commonwealth on manslaughter? Just asking.

Iraq is the Bush administration's war.

Jes, you are absolutely right and failure or success, it will be Bush's legacy. No matter what happens Ted is just a footnote in history, the youngest male child of the Kennedy Clan.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Words and sentiments, that Ted could never speak.

bad decisions

Kevin, did JFK make a bad decision with respect to the Diem brothers?

Jesurgislac,

I expect that many in the prowar Right will redefine as victory anything that happens in Iraq.

An Iraqi Constitutional Republic is my definition of victory; 19th century American democracy fits the bill for me with the caveats of no slavery and of course women have the vote.

GT: I expect that many in the prowar Right will redefine as victory anything that happens in Iraq.

Given that someone once told me (and several other right-wingers chimed in to agree) that the US had really won in Vietnam, I'm sure you're right. (They did have a logic structure to support that claim. I'm not going to bother repeating it here.)

But I credit Bird with enough honesty to admit that the US has lost... eventually. Seriously: I see no reason to doubt Bird's statement of what he sees as victory in Iraq, nor that he will draw back from that statement or change it: it's not achieveable, certainly not with the Bush administration's methods and efficiency, and eventually I am certain Bird will acknowledge that.

However, I doubt if we'll see Bush's loyal supporters acknowledging that the failure in Iraq was all Bush's fault any time this century. People who could blame John Kerry for the US's defeat in Vietnam have no shame: they're quite capable of blaming Ted Kennedy for the US's defeat in Iraq.

We never blamed John, we just wanted him to file SF 180.

Timmy: We never blamed John, we just wanted him to file SF 180.

You're plural now, Timmy? How many of you are there?

"We are legion"

Whoops. . looked up the context of that Longfellow quote on a lark, since I use it all the time. No implications implied, Timmy :).

Timmy? How many of you are there?

Millions in the VRWC and we are smiling as the people of Iraq go to the polls.

Timmy: Millions in the VRWC

All posting under the nick "Timmy the Wonder Dog"?

No wonder you post so often...

GT: At this rate in a year or two it will be downright popular.

Well sure. But this just leads me to conclude that American politics, like everything else, can be examined in the language of Pop Psychology. Denial, invasion with no attention to the consequences, fear, more denial, grief, denying your denial, bargaining, acceptance, withdrawal despite the consequences, denying your withdrawal is really a withdrawal, etc.

You don't have to use the word "unpatriotic" to accuse someone of being unpatriotic.

Well, that is a difference between you and me, Katherine. I think you do have to use the word to make the accusation. If I thought Kennedy was a traitor or unpatriotic, I would have said so. This is the same tack that Kerry took when he was taking criticism, that the right was attacking his patriotism. I didn't attack his patriotism, I attacked his liberalism. Just because you say that a person's policies will hurt the country doesn't mean you're calling that person anti-American.

GT, you're still distorting. Let's be clear about what I "ridiculed". It wasn't the Mirror. It was one of the claims made in the Mirror. But let's get this straight here. You're allegedly a fact-based guy, but you were willing to believe at the time--with no evidence except the words of a person of unknown credibility in a tabloid--some highly explosive charges. It just goes to show right there your own skewed bias, that whenever there's a black mark against the administration, you believe it without question, and when there's neutral or favorable news, you dismiss it without question. And let's not conflate ridicule with criticism, please. Ted Kennedy was roundly criticized for his wrong comments, both in content and timing, made four days before Iraq's most important election in over fifty years. In retrospect, I probably should have used the word "criticized" instead of "ridiculed" in the post, but there it is.

In fact I have read your posts for a long time and have a hard time remembering when you got anything major right.

Your memory is about as faulty as your history of extreme data selectivity.

hilzoy,
I didn't say that you said Kennedy's speech was unpatriotic

Sorry. Others did, and I should have put the response in its proper place. Kennedy's first point is meaningless because we are in the process of bringing Iraq to a point of self-governance. They're having an election tomorrow, with the electees drafting their own constitution, and another election is scheduled thirteen months hence. Bush said similar things as Kennedy in his inaugural address, so Kennedy offered no substantive alternative.

As for Kennedy's second point, the exit strategy, he is making a huge assumption that the "Iraqis need a clear signal that America has a genuine exit strategy". The folks who are really clamoring for an exit strategy have been the likes of Kerry and Kennedy. More important than an exit strategy is victory, something that Kennedy is putting second fiddle. Kennedy has it backwards. The exiting of troops should be based on the pace of our success, not some artificially and politically designed timetable. If the Iraqis need any "clear signals", it's that America will help put them on the road to a secure, functioning non-theocratic representative democracy.

As for Kennedy's third point, the training of troops, like I said, he offered no substantive alternative. It's not reasonable to complain about how bad things are going but then refuse to offer a better plan. You have my permission to smack me if I do something like that.

All posting under the nick "Timmy the Wonder Dog"?

Yup!

The folks who are really clamoring for an exit strategy have been the likes of Kerry and Kennedy.

The folks clamoring for an exit strategy are the Iraqis. Their pov counts, doesn't it?

The folks clamoring for an exit strategy are the Iraqis.

Actually the folks clamoring for the exit strategy are the ones who trying to prevent the people of Iraq from voting. Once you understand that, Kennedy is hoping the terrorists will win and why doesn't Ted just say so?

undermining our national political will to achieve victory

A line worthy of Gen. Ripper.

Victory isn't possible. This was a war of choice, doomed from the beginning because it was waged for political considerations as much as for any strategic goals, sold based on lies and run with a deliberate refusal to face facts.

I have a suspicion that Johnny Carson died trying to birth a Karnak award big enough to encompass your various prognostications, Timmy. Please, someone stop him before he kills again!

Actually the folks clamoring for the exit strategy are the ones who trying to prevent the people of Iraq from voting. Once you understand that, Kennedy is hoping the terrorists will win and why doesn't Ted just say so?

Via Juan Cole: a Zogby Poll


Majorities of both Sunni Arabs (82%) and Shiites (69%) also favor U.S. forces withdrawing either immediately or after an elected government is in place.

The poll also found that of Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups, only the Kurds believe the U.S. will “help” Iraq over the next five years, while half (49%) of Shiites and a majority (64%) of Sunni Arabs believe the U.S. will “hurt” Iraq.


But I credit Bird with enough honesty to admit that the US has lost... eventually. Seriously: I see no reason to doubt Bird's statement of what he sees as victory in Iraq, nor that he will draw back from that statement or change it: it's not achieveable, certainly not with the Bush administration's methods and efficiency, and eventually I am certain Bird will acknowledge that.

Victory is achievable, but the bloodbath required to achieve said victory will be the likes we haven't seen since WWII.

An American dies in town X, go to town X, arrest the first fifty Iraqis you see, put them against a wall and shoot them. Repeat process until there is no resistance or no Iraqis whichever happens first!!!

Guaranteed victory & guaranteed infamy!

Zogby

So the terrorists were not trying to stop the Iraqi people from voting. And with the vote, rather than rely on some poll, you may rely on the voice of the people.

The singing and dancing in the streets of Iraq and elsewhere this Sunday brought to you by, well certainly not brought to you by Ted and his ilk.

More telling no posting on Wings about the election.

Timmy: The singing and dancing in the streets of Iraq and elsewhere this Sunday brought to you by, well certainly not brought to you by Ted and his ilk.

Singing dancing Iraqis? Fantasising that Iraq is a Disney movie doesn't help anyone.

One of an insurgency volley of a dozen mortars about 90 minutes into the poll killed four civilians and wounded seven more at a polling station in the Sadr City slums. And more than 20 died and dozens were wounded when nine suicide bombers - eight on foot, one car-borne - detonated their charges at centres across the capital. cite
The blood on the streets, however, was brought to Iraq by the Bush administration.

Why do you make stuff up, Timmy? You know you're not convincing anyone.

More good news TTWD,

A Mossoul, grande ville du nord, six explosions ont été entendues. Dans le quartier Al-Arabi (nord de la ville), dans la matinée, seule l'armée irakienne est présente. Dans le bureau de vote, les employés électoraux ont été contents de voir un correspondant en pensant qu'il s'agissait d'un électeur.

A Fallouja, à 50 km à l'ouest de Bagdad, qui fut le théâtre d'un assaut massif de l'armée américaine contre la guérilla en novembre, les rues désertes étaient patrouillées uniquement par des soldats américains et les forces irakiennes. Cinq bureaux ont été ouverts mais personne n'ose s'y aventurer, selon un correspondant de l'AFP.

Le maire de Samarra, Taha Hussein, a estimé qu'il n'y aura pas d'élections dans sa ville, située à 125 km au nord de Bagdad. "Je pense qu'en raison de la situation sécuritaire, il n'y aura pas d'élections", a-t-il déclaré. Un correspondant de l'AFP a indiqué que les rues étaient vides et dans les bureaux électoraux qu'il a visités, il n'y avait même pas d'employés de la Commission électorale indépendante.


Le Monde - Les zones kurdes et chiites aux urnes, le pays sunnite déserté et ensanglanté

Wow Charles that's quite a gift you have.


You are the one who is fooled yet you somehow make it sound as if it reflects badly on me!

Sorry, that dog (bird dog?) won't hunt.

Kennedy is one of my heros. He's not wrong anywhere near as often as the current Administrations on the issues, IMO.

He may be the liberal conservatives love to hate, but he's earned better than being dismissed as a "Gasbag."

Just saying...

Edward: He's not wrong anywhere near as often as the current Administrations on the issues, IMO.

Damning with faint praise... ;-)

You are the one who is fooled yet you somehow make it sound as if it reflects badly on me!

"Fooled" is your word, not mine. I choose to believe credible corroborated sources, no matter whether it speaks good or ill of the administration. When it comes anti-Bush news, you apparently accept just about anything. Do you accept that "a diet of foul water and food up to 10 years out-of-date left inmates malnourished". After all, it came from the same source in the Mirror.

You chose to believe the Bush administration despite a great amount of evidence, of which the Mirror story was but a small part (as katherine showed you). And that after a long history of the Bush administartion misleading on the war.

You got it wrong, you were foooled in great part due to your blinkered support for this administartion yet you pretend I am at fault?

GT: The ball.

For what it's worth, I was dubious about the menstrual blood claim when it first appeared, since it was so bizarre. On the other hand, I didn't feel inclined to just dismiss the 'ten years out of date food' claim, since (it seemed to me) a lot depended on what food it was that had been lying around for ten years. Some of the possibilities would not be 'food' at all, in any meaningful sense, after that time.

hilzoy,

My comment was never about any one specific event. if tomorrow these allegations are proven false my point still stands.

There is and has been for a while overwhelming evidence that torture of different types was condoned, even promoted by the Bush administration. When you allow them to decide some prisoners ae not subject to judicial review you are in effect letting them do as they please.

People like Charles chose not to accept this evidence despite the sheer amount of it, due to their support for Bush and the war. They were fooled becasue they wanted to be.

Yet they manage to insult and make fun of those that were not so fooled. Incredible.

GT: There are better and worse reasons to go on believing someone who turns out not to be telling the truth. Charles was wrong; he admitted it; I don't think any of us, except for him, is in a position to say why he was.

hilzoy,

I've been debating with Charles for a long time, mainly at tacitus.org. That's why I posted what I did.

And it's not enought IMO to admit you were wrong on one thread and then insult and attack as a supporter of the enemy those that disagree with you on another thread. It's as if he has learned nothing.

Fooled" is your word, not mine.

No, yours was "chumped." Is that better or worse?

Don, Le Monde is one of my favorites but your point of referencing Le Monde was?

GT, did you see the turnout in Sadr City, I heard it was impressive (over 80%). You must have been surprised given your preveious analysis.

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