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June 27, 2005


if you have always believed -- or, as I, have come to believe -- that Iraq is a central front in the war on terror

Why have you come to believe that?

Serious question: I would appreciate a more detailed update to your post explaining your reasons for coming to believe that. (I may then disagree with your reasons, of course, but at the moment I'm just staring at the conclusion and flailing.)

Can you say "Vietnamization"?

Jes: I can't speak for von, but I think that Iraq is now crucial to the fight against terrorism, because we made it one. It used to be a country under the control of a monster who, whatever else you might say about him, would never have let a group as uncontrollable as al Qaeda loose in his country. Now it's a terrorist training ground.

I think it matters immensely what we do there. I suspect that we have botched it beyond recall, and I am sure that, whether or not that's true, I do not trust this administration to do whatever good things might still be in our power.

I find nothing at all comforting in what Rumsfeld said. It all just makes me sick at heart.

Hilzoy right about my views.

Here was the thinking that lead me to endorse (grudgingly) and invasion of Iraq. Note that I don't cite any direct tie to the WoT; that came later, and only in the aftermath of the war (when terrorists started flooding into the country):

The United Nations' Security Counsel should endorse a U.S.-led attack on Iraq if Iraq does not fully comply with the U.N.-mandated inspections regime. The credibility of the Security Counsel is at stake; an Iraq armed with weapons of mass destruction will destabilize its neighbors; Iraq may share such weaponary with terrorists or other, rouge states; and Iraq's past violations of international law merit a response, however belated. In addition, even a minimally-democratic Iraq, with its educated and secularized population, will likely restrain the Arab street and serve as a counterweight to an increasingly radicalized Saudi Arabia. Indeed, in no other (so-called) rogue nation -- Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya -- are the advantages of military action so clear, and the risks of inaction so dire.

von: I wasn't trying to speak for you, but I'm glad I got them right despite that ;)

congratulations Iraq, here's a Republic, if you can keep it.

I wonder which senior Bush advisor it was who Ron Suskind quoted, saying "we create our own reality." We certainly have done so in Iraq, but not the way it was predicted to go. Despite the absurdity of the phrase "central front," we do seem to have created a terrorist training ground in Iraq.

I was close to the fence on the war, not because I thought Iraq was such a threat to our security but because of the nature of Saddam Hussein's regime. What tipped me to the "no" side was my concern that the Bush administration could not be trusted to handle the aftermath. Alas, I seem to have called that one correctly.

Sick at heart though we may be, we still face the question, "what now?" All I can think of is withdraw to Afghanistan and focus our efforts on rebuilding that country, where we at least still stand a chance of success. I would be happy to hear other plausible suggestions.

As I have written on other threads, I don't expect any such sensible action from the Bush administration.

Can we put away the Marcus Aurelius tone of rhetoric and recognize this for what it is? Rumsfeld is laying the foundation for declaring victory and going home relatively soon, regardless of what the actual state of affairs in Iraq is at that time. Mid-terms, after all, are coming up.

Given that this is roughly where I always thought we'd be, I'm OK with that. But anyone who thinks the Sec. of Defense is doing much more than that is crazy.

Our recruiting efforts are hampered by the possibility of getting blown up once you're shipped out.

Iraq's recruiting efforts are hampered by the likelihood of getting blown up as you walk down the street in uniform.

Anyone got any stats on the % of Iraqi army guys killed since we started the New Model Army? Bet it's a lot higher than ours.

Anyway, Von is 100% right about one thing: we've jumped in with both feet and now we're at the mercy of the current. My boy is 10 today; if the draft is going when he's approaching 18, to feed this war or one equally stupid, I may very well have to emigrate.

It must be terribly, terribly hard to send your son away to a World War Two. Sending him to a pointless war started by a fool of a president has to be a lot worse.

Hilzoy (and Von, since he agrees): Now it's a terrorist training ground.

But on what evidence are you basing this?

AFAIK, the majority of the resistence in Iraq is homegrown. But I'm uncertain about this, since I've seen no reliable statistics - I'm not even sure that there are any. What have you seen that suggests otherwise to you?

Jes: I can't speak for Von, but I'm listening to the CIA about such things.

Jes: More recent, and more comprehensive:

"WASHINGTON, June 21 - A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.

The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials. The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.

Congressional and intelligence officials who described the assessment called it a thorough examination that included extensive discussion of the areas that might be particularly prone to infiltration by combatants from Iraq, either Iraqis or foreigners.

They said the assessment had argued that Iraq, since the American invasion of 2003, had in many ways assumed the role played by Afghanistan during the rise of Al Qaeda during the 1980's and 1990's, as a magnet and a proving ground for Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries.

The officials said the report spelled out how the urban nature of the war in Iraq was helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks that were never a staple of the fighting in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet campaigns of the 1980's. It was during that conflict, primarily rural and conventional, that the United States provided arms to Osama bin Laden and other militants, who later formed Al Qaeda.

The assessment said the central role played by Iraq meant that, for now, most potential terrorists were likely to focus their energies on attacking American forces there, rather than carrying out attacks elsewhere, the officials said. But the officials said Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries would soon have to contend with militants who leave Iraq equipped with considerable experience and training."

McDuff: but I'm listening to the CIA about such things.

Given the convenience of being able to dismiss the insurgency, not as a homegrown response to an unwelcome foreign occupation, but as a result of outside influence, how certain can we be that David Low isn't fixing his report to suit policy?

(Again, a serious question. I mean, it's not as if they haven't done it before.)

I'm aware that there is a difference between "Iraq can be - and we think, is - a training ground for terrorists" and the infamous "flypaper theory", but the two seem to come out of the same need to believe that it's not the Iraqis who hate the occupation and resist it.

Still, it would depend very much on what proportion of the resistence is foreign and what proportion is homegrown, whether Iraq can indeed be said to be "a central front in the war on terror" or just yet another aspect of it. And I have seen no reliable stats on that.

Ah - should have hit Preview. Thanks, Hilzoy. That's clearer.

we still face the question, "what now?"

"We press on to Syria," according to Victor Davis Hanson. (h/t to Chris Bray)

I was afraid that the answer would be pressing on to Iran. What was that Onion article about a year ago? Something like "Bush announces that the troops are to come home, via Tehran"?

Hanson wants Syria and Iran. And all we'll need is air strikes, which is convenient since we have no army left.

Foreigners vs home-grown guerrillas: Remember that this is Bush - why have one, when you can get the worst of all worlds? We'll have thousands of foreigners with cutting edge urban warfare experience, plus tens of thousands of really pissed off Iraqis, who've seen the the Bush Friends and Family plan kill their friends and family, and who really want to share their pain with us.

For clarity, Jes, I always thought the "flypaper" strategy to be bunk. (The better analogy would be to those Japanese Beetle killers that do a better job of attracting Japanese Beetles than killing them. If you have a Japanese Beetle problem in your garden, putting one up will only make it worse.)

And all we'll need is air strikes, which is convenient since we have no army left.

a shame neither country has any navy to speak of.

anyone know the last time the US had a naval battle of any significance ?

anyone know the last time the US had a naval battle of any significance ?

I'd guess Leyte Gulf in October 1944.

Hm, from the cited Hanson article, he wants both to launch air strikes on Syria and Iran (after issuing them first with ultimatums, of course) and to "wean" moderate muslims from the terroristic tyranny of a pitiful few thousand extremists. Something doesn't quite fit together in the logic, there.

Then there's this poisonous little quote:

"Like a parent with a naughty child, a maddening forbearance is the order of the day: They burn American flags, behead, murder, and promise death and ruin to Americans; we ignore it and instead find new ways of displaying our sensitivity to Islam."
Right. Sensitivity and forbearance towards the naughty children of the Middle East. With air strikes. Got it.

Look at Bush's tuesday speech to be be his 'Johnson' speech.


this was always going to be the case, wasn't it? this was a war of liberation. that means, of necessity, that the oppressed people once freed will then get to chose their own future.

at this point, i favor partition. since lots of people will object, we will have to commit a kind of ethnic cleansing that would under other circumstances be a war crime. we will also have to prevent the Turks from invading kurdistan. we will also have to find a way to create some kind of economic future for the sunnis.

I'm fascinated by the way that the administration has moved to a whole new level in abusing the english language. Cheney's "last throes" will go down in history as a classic; but Rumsfeld's "trained" should be much more closely examined.

As an american, I assume that once a soldier has been "trained", he is ready to deploy into active duty. In a perfect world, this would mean he would understand the use of a number of weapons, have a basic grasp of the tactics surrounding the optimal use of his designated weapons system, understand the basic rules of the military, and be able to operate within a command structure thousands of miles from home. oh yes, and be loyal to that command structure.

apparently, a "trained" iraqi soldier meets a very different set of criteria from a "trained" american soldier. Once again, I recommend William Shawcross's Sideshow as an explanation of what can happen when american try to train soldiers who do not have that basic loyalty to their government.

Viet Nam is one analogy to our present situation; Cambodia may be a better one.

Naval Engagements:

I recall a battleship lobbing big shells from big guns into the Shuf Mountains of Lebanon. And of course Naval Aviation is still the Navy, so Gulf War I has to count for something. If we're at "war" right now, does not the encounter between AQ and the Cole in Yemen in 2000 count?

"Look at Bush's tuesday speech to be be his 'Johnson' speech."

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that Bush is gonna admit things ain't going so well in Iraq and maybe, just maybe, people should be enlisting instead of shopping. The setting may be a background to such a plea, one it seems he has managed to go four years since 911 without making. I'm not holding my breath though, just speculating wildly.

anyone know the last time the US had a naval battle of any significance ?

Gulf of Tonkin ?

Not that the engagement itself was of any great significance, but in terms of what flowed from it ...

No way, wd. The difficulties our folks are experiencing in Iraq are just tests of the President's resolve. He will re-affirm that resolve.

And maybe move the goalposts a bit, such that ratification of a constitution is the exact equivalent of complete victory for us. (This I think is a correct policy, and that we don't have, and have never had, sufficient 'funds' in our 'account' to honor the 'blank check' issued in Bush's second inaugural.)

I recall a battleship lobbing big shells from big guns...

was thinking more of ship-on-ship action (see my faux-lament that neither Syria nor Iran has a navy worth troubling over).

Rechecking my memory on Lebanon, I found http://www.rand.org/publications/CF/CF129/CF-129.chapter6.html>this description of the intervention, which is fairly readable.

Disengagement is always a tough proposition, and I have no confidence that this Admin can pull it off competently. While I noted above that I think allowing the various Iraqi factions to fight their way to an equilibrium of some kind is a good idea for us, I don't see an easy way from here to there. Maybe there will be an easy exit in 2007. If not, then expect the current mission to stretch past January 2009.

was thinking more of ship-on-ship action

Hot ship-on-ship action.

I wouldn't consider Tonkin, or the Cole attack, or that on the Stark to be significant as far as engagements go -- I'm thinking of multi-ship engagements here. Dunno if that is what Cleek was getting at, though.

I'm really amazed at the number of people who still, after 5 years, expect a Bush speech to be anything but content-free.

Me? I expect more of the usual facile slogans and empty platitudes, repeated endlessly.

I'm more interested in knowing whether the speech itself will explicitly encourage the notion that Democrats, liberals and reporters are to blame for the FUBAR in Iraq, or whether the post-speech spin will do that. With the whole country turning against him, Bush won't want to waste any time redirecting peoples' fury.

I recall a battleship lobbing big shells from big guns into the Shuf Mountains of Lebanon.

Yes, I don't know if it was the Shuf Mountains, but we shelled Jumblatt's encampment, a Druze leader (both then and in the current Parliament). As proof of the adage that politics make strange bedfellows, Jumblatt has been one of the foremost anti-Syria voices in recent times. What a difference a couple decades make!

(Now I'll check CharleyCarp's link to see if my recollection is correct.)

SCT has a point. It does sound to me as if we are preparing to withdraw and leave the Iraqis to fight the inevitable civil war, which could go on for a long time.

This will be covered with stories about how we trained the Iraqi army, gave them the tools and foundation, etc. But the fact is it will be bloody and the final outcome is unpredictable. My guess is they'll end up with a secular dictator less nasty than Saddam, but still no nice guy.

Other possibilities exist.

wd: Bush is gonna admit things ain't going so well in Iraq...

when pigs fly.

bush lack the "things ain't going so well" gene.

In a 3-way civil war (minimum estimate), my prediction of who comes out on top is a personality with an enormous will for power. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Saddam, with their talents for conspiracy, backstabbing, lack of conscience and popular manipulation are my candidates for the type of winner to expect. Nice guys finish last.

Bush is gonna say things are going swell, "...just a few dead-enders and Freedom Haters". maybe he'll say "some people" want us to fail, or to not even try. he'll warn about "emboldening the enemy". he'll mumble some nonsense about Social Security and how the Dems have screwed it all up. and then he'll bring up something completely tangential: Mars, the sex slave trade, hydrogen cars, etc..

I agree that Bush will not tell any sort of truth about Iraq. He may say something vague, like 'things can get tough, but we have to hang in there so that Iraq can be free', or something, but I truly don't think he has it in him to be more specific than that. I don't believe he has admitted anything more to himself, let alone us.

I think he may do the moving goalposts thing. I would support it, since while I feel absolutely no need to have a view on what we should do (since my view would be of no significance at all), I am pretty close to convinced that with this crew in charge, we can only make things worse.

But this is a terrible, terrible outcome, and the fact that I think it's the best one available is horrible to me. Civil war is awful, and I don't think partition could be done cleanly, especially since the Sunnis would in all likelihood end up with no Kirkuk and no oil. We can't really try to provide a better future for them, since we have approximately no ability to operate safely in Sunni territory. Keeping Turkey out would be very, very difficult, since the Turks view a Kurdish state as an existential threat to them; here it really doesn't help that the problems in the EU have made Turkish accession much less likely, thus removing one of the main carrots available, or that we have so completely squandered our diplomatic good will. And if that's not enough, consider that we might just end up where we started: with a dictator in place who might eventually go for WMD.

"And if that's not enough, consider that we might just end up where we started: with a dictator in place who might eventually go for WMD."

Posted by: hilzoy

You know, N. Korea might really like to sell some nukes to such a guy, to put the screws to the US. And for money, of course.

Also, somewhat o/t: I was thinking about what Rove said, and thinking: it seems pretty clearly an attempt to deflect attention from things. In addition to the obvious stuff -- Iraq, the Downing Street memos, the failure of the President's SS plan, gas prices, the collapse of Bush's poll numbers, etc. -- is there anything else coming up that Rove could be preemptively moving against? The one thing I could think of was: Thursday is the day when the rest of the Abu Ghraib pictures are due to be released. The ones that made grown Congressmen turn pale. Fwiw.

Could we possibly guess what the tangential carrot will be? They've been so...out of the box...that it's hard even to imagine what he'll come up with, but let's do try.

Current minority group to be cosseted: latinos. Last bone thrown to them: the anti-gang legislation, headed by Mrs.
Bush, of course. Proposing an amnesty or guest-worker program would piss off too many conservatives. Maybe a plan to finance ESL classes?

Evangelists and right-to-lifers are also beginning to mutter. The last big speech threw them some rhetoric, but no concrete projects. Maybe some impossible-to-enact amendment proposition?

And, more darkly, there's the possibility that he might do a disguised attack on the university liberals, by announcing simulteneously an increased funding program for students in targetted fields ("some service requirement") and his personal committment to "intellectual diversity."

What other Big Idea might come out of the blue?

Jackmormon: What other Big Idea might come out of the blue?

Invade Mexico?

Maybe some impossible-to-enact amendment proposition?

flag desecration is back on the burner.

"But the fact is it will be bloody and the final outcome is unpredictable."

And we will supply the 'good' side with significant arms and intelligence.

And out of the ashes will crawl a new generation of fighters blooded and trained in urban combat and embittered against he US and the west.

And in 20 years they will be the 'bad' side, and they'll be organizing terrorist attacks.

Good times, yeah?

Good times, yeah?

Big wheel, keep on turnin'...

...no, wait. Wrong rotational metaphor:

Fortuna rota volvitur descendo minoratus
alter in altum tollitur nimis exaltatus
rex sedet in vertice - caveat ruinam!
nam sub axe legimus Hecubam reginam

Maybe the Republicans are right, and Democrats are too pessimistic. Where y'all see only another set of lies likely to come from Bush's mouth, I see opportunity: George Bush Iraq drinking game! Everyone choses a word or phrase that they think he'll say, and drinks every time he says it. I call "hard work."

I would call the stutter, but I still remember that night in college when I had a pitcher of beer, a rum and coke, and five Long Island iced teas. And then graded statistics finals the next day. I still don't know how I survived.

On a less alcoholic note, I think that what we're seeing is the opening barrage of Operation Blame It On The Liberals. This is not to say that there weren't shots fired beforehand, but that more and more Republicans are realizing that things aren't going well, that the current trends point to a bad place, and that the GOP is purely to blame. Under those circumstances, scapegoat early and often.

"And then graded statistics finals the next day."

Ah, how it takes me back...

I took the GREs while living in Israel, when my mind was so far away from academics and standardized tests it wasn't funny. I had planned to spend the night before studying -- I hadn't so much as thought about math in about 5 years, and it seemed like a good idea to try to reacquaint myself with the formulae for finding the areas of things, and so on -- but a friend I hadn't seen in months showed up at the door, gin in hand, just back from some desert or other, and, well, I got three hours of sleep and no studying done that night, and had this terrible hangover. Eek. I did beg some complete stranger at the test site to let me look at her math book for ten minutes, which helped a bit.

Ah, youth.

One of the things that went through my mind after Karl Rove's remarks last Wednesday was: doesn't he realize that there are Democrats (and even, gasp, liberals) serving in the armed forces?

There seems to be a kind of meme among right-wing Americans that says left-wing Americans don't join the armed forces:

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Civilization Watch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card February 15, 2004

Homosexual "Marriage" and Civilization

A little dialogue from Lewis Carroll:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has not yet declared that "day" shall now be construed to include that which was formerly known as "night," but it might as well.

By declaring that homosexual couples are denied their constitutional rights by being forbidden to "marry," it is treading on the same ground.

Do you want to know whose constitutional rights are being violated? Everybody's. Because no constitution in the United States has ever granted the courts the right to make vast, sweeping changes in the law to reform society.

Regardless of their opinion of homosexual "marriage," every American who believes in democracy should be outraged that any court should take it upon itself to dictate such a social innovation without recourse to democratic process.

And we all know the course this thing will follow. Anyone who opposes this edict will be branded a bigot; any schoolchild who questions the legitimacy of homosexual marriage will be expelled for "hate speech." The fanatical Left will insist that anyone who upholds the fundamental meaning that marriage has always had, everywhere, until this generation, is a "homophobe" and therefore mentally ill.

Which is the modern Jacobin equivalent of crying, "Off with their heads!"

We will once again be performing a potentially devastating social experiment on ourselves without any attempt to predict the consequences and find out if the American people actually want them.

But anyone who has any understanding of how America -- or any civilization -- works, of the forces already at play, will realize that this new diktat of the courts will not have any of the intended effects, while the unintended effects are likely to be devastating.

Marriage Is Already Open to Everyone.

In the first place, no law in any state in the United States now or ever has forbidden homosexuals to marry. The law has never asked that a man prove his heterosexuality in order to marry a woman, or a woman hers in order to marry a man.

Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law. And, in fact, many homosexual men have done precisely that, without any legal prejudice at all.

Ditto with lesbian women. Many have married men and borne children. And while a fair number of such marriages in recent years have ended in divorce, there are many that have not.

So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage.

In order to claim that they are deprived, you have to change the meaning of "marriage" to include a relationship that it has never included before this generation, anywhere on earth.

Just because homosexual partners wish to be called "married" and wish to force everyone else around them to regard them as "married," does not mean that their Humpty-Dumpty-ish wish should be granted at the expense of the common language, democratic process, and the facts of human social organization.

However emotionally bonded a pair of homosexual lovers may feel themselves to be, what they are doing is not marriage. Nor does society benefit in any way from treating it as if it were.

Marrying Is Hard to Do.

Men and women, from childhood on, have very different biological and social imperatives. They are naturally disposed to different reproductive strategies; men are (on average) larger and stronger; the relative levels of various hormones, the difference in the rate of maturity, and many other factors make it far, far easier for women to get along with other women and men to get along with men.

Men, after all, know what men like far better than women do; women know how women think and feel far better than men do. But a man and a woman come together as strangers and their natural impulses remain at odds throughout their lives, requiring constant compromise, suppression of natural desires, and an unending effort to learn how to get through the intersexual swamp.

And yet, throughout the history of human society -- even in societies that tolerated relatively open homosexuality at some stages of life -- it was always expected that children would be born into and raised by families consisting of a father and mother.

And in those families where one or both parents were missing, usually because of death, either stepparents, adoptive parents, or society in general would step in to provide, not just nurturing, but also the appropriate role models.

It is a demonstrated tendency -- as well as the private experience of most people -- that when we become parents, we immediately find ourselves acting out most of the behaviors we observed in the parent of our own sex. We have to consciously make an effort to be different from them.

We also expect our spouse to behave, as a parent, in the way we have learned to expect from the experiences we had with our opposite-sex parent -- that's why so many men seem to marry women just like their mother, and so many women to marry men just like their father. It takes conscious effort to break away from this pattern.

So not only are two sexes required in order to conceive children, children also learn their sex-role expectations from the parents in their own family. This is precisely what large segments of the Left would like to see break down. And if it is found to have unpleasant results, they will, as always, insist that the cure is to break down the family even further.

The War On Marriage

Of course, in our current society we are two generations into the systematic destruction of the institution of marriage. In my childhood, it was rare to know someone whose parents were divorced; now, it seems almost as rare to find someone whose parents have never been divorced.

And a growing number of children grow up in partial families not because of divorce, but because there never was a marriage at all.

The damage caused to children by divorce and illegitimate birth is obvious and devastating. While apologists for the current system are quick to blame poverty resulting from "deadbeat dads" as the cause, the children themselves know this is ludicrous.

There are plenty of poor families with both parents present whose children grow up knowing they are loved and having good role models from both parents.

And there are plenty of kids whose divorced parents have scads of money -- but whose lives are deformed by the absence of one of their parents in their lives.

Most broken or wounded families are in that condition because of a missing father. There is substantial and growing evidence that our society's contempt for the role of the father in the family is responsible for a massive number of "lost" children.

Only when the father became powerless or absent in the lives of huge numbers of children did we start to realize some of the things people need a father for: laying the groundwork for a sense of moral judgment; praise that is believed so that it can instill genuine self-confidence.

People lacking in fundamental self-esteem don't need gold stars passed out to everyone in their class. Chances are, they need a father who will say -- and mean -- "I'm proud of you."

This is an oversimplification of a very complex system. There are marriages that desperately need to be dissolved for the safety of the children, for instance, and divorced parents who do a very good job of keeping both parents closely involved in the children's lives.

But you have to be in gross denial not to know that children would almost always rather have grown up with Dad and Mom in their proper places at home. Most kids would rather that, instead of divorcing, their parents would acquire the strength or maturity to stop doing the things that make the other parent want to leave.

Marriage Is Everybody's Business.

And it isn't just the damage that divorce and out-of-wedlock births do to the children in those broken families: Your divorce hurts my kids, too.

All American children grow up today in a society where they are keenly aware that marriages don't last. At the first sign of a quarrel even in a stable marriage that is in no danger, the children fear divorce. Is this how it begins? Will I now be like my friends at school, shunted from half-family to half-family?

This is not trivial damage. Kids thrive best in an environment that teaches them how to be adults. They need the confidence and role models that come from a stable home with father and mother in their proper places.

So long before the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided to play Humpty Dumpty, the American people had plunged into a terrible experiment on ourselves, guided only by the slogan of immaturity and barbarism: "If it feels good, do it!"

Civilization depends on people deliberately choosing not to do many things that feel good at the time, in order to accomplish more important, larger purposes. Having an affair; breaking up a marriage; oh, those can feel completely justified and the reasons very important at the time.

But society has a vital stake in child-rearing; and children have a vital stake in society.

Monogamous marriage is by far the most effective foundation for a civilization. It provides most males an opportunity to mate (polygamous systems always result in surplus males that have no reproductive stake in society); it provides most females an opportunity to have a mate who is exclusively devoted to her. Those who are successful in mating are the ones who will have the strongest loyalty to the social order; so the system that provides reproductive success to the largest number is the system that will be most likely to keep a civilization alive.

Monogamy depends on the vast majority of society both openly and privately obeying the rules. Since the natural reproductive strategy for males is to mate with every likely female at every opportunity, males who are not restrained by social pressure and expectations will soon devolve into a sort of Clintonesque chaos, where every man takes what he can get.

Civilization Is Rooted in Reproductive Security.

There is a very complex balance in maintaining a monogamous society, with plenty of lapses and exceptions and mechanisms to cope with the natural barbaric impulses of the male mating drive. There is always room to tolerate a small and covert number of exceptions to the rule.

But the rule must be largely observed, and must be seen to be observed even more than it actually is. If trust between the sexes breaks down, then males who are able will revert to the broadcast strategy of reproduction, while females will begin to compete for males who already have female mates. It is a reproductive free-for-all.

Civilization requires the suppression of natural impulses that would break down the social order. Civilization thrives only when most members can be persuaded to behave unnaturally, and when those who don't follow the rules are censured in a meaningful way.

Why would men submit to rules that deprive them of the chance to satisfy their natural desire to mate with every attractive female?

Why would women submit to rules that keep them from trying to mate with the strongest (richest, most physically imposing, etc.) male, just because he already has a wife?

Because civilization provides the best odds for their children to live to adulthood. So even though civilized individuals can't pursue the most obviously pleasurable and selfish (i.e., natural) strategies for reproduction, the fact is that they are far more likely to be successful at reproduction in a civilized society -- whether they personally like the rules or not.

Civilizations that enforce rules of marriage that give most males and most females a chance to have children that live to reproduce in their turn are the civilizations that last the longest. It's such an obvious principle that few civilizations have even attempted to flout it.

Even if the political system changes, as long as the marriage rules remain intact, the civilization can go on.

Balancing Family and Society

There's a lot of quid pro quo in civilization, though. Not all parents are good providers, for instance. So society, in one way or another, must provide for the children whose parents are either incapable or irresponsible.

Society must also step in to protect children from abusive adults; and the whole society must act in loco parentis, watching out for each other's children, trusting that someone else is also watching out for their own.

The degree of trust can be enormous. We send our children to school for an enormous portion of their childhood, trusting that the school will help civilize them while we parents devote more of our time to providing for them materially (or caring for younger children not yet in school).

At the same time, parents recognize that non-parents are not as trustworthy caretakers. The school provides some aspects of civilization, but not others. Schools expect the parents to civilize their children in certain ways in order to take part safely with other children; parents expect to be left alone with some aspects of child-rearing, such as religion.

In other words, there are countless ways that parents and society at large are constantly negotiating to find the best balance between the parents' natural desire to protect their children -- their entrants in the reproductive lottery -- and the civilization's need to bring the greatest number of children, not just to adulthood, but to parenthood as committed members of the society who will teach their children to also be good citizens.

America's Anti-Family Experiment

In this delicate balance, it is safe to say that beginning with a trickle in the 1950s, but becoming an overwhelming flood in the 1960s and 1970s, we took a pretty good system, and in order to solve problems that needed tweaking, we made massive, fundamental changes that have had devastating consequences.

Now huge numbers of Americans know that the schools are places where their children are indoctrinated in anti-family values. Trust is not just going -- for them it's gone.

Huge numbers of children are deprived of two-parent homes, because society has decided to give legal status and social acceptance to out-of-wedlock parenting and couples who break up their marriages with little regard for what is good for the children.

The result is a generation of children with no trust in marriage who are mating in, at best, merely "marriage-like" patterns, and bearing children with no sense of responsibility to society at large; while society is trying to take on an ever greater role in caring for the children who are suffering -- while doing an increasingly bad job of it.

Parents in a stable marriage are much better than schools at civilizing children. You have to be a fanatical ideologue not to recognize this as an obvious truth -- in other words, you have to dumb down or radically twist the definition of "civilizing children" in order to claim that parents are not, on the whole, better at it.

We are so far gone down this road that it would take a wrenching, almost revolutionary social change to reverse it. And with the forces of P.C. orthodoxy insisting that the solutions to the problems they have caused is ever-larger doses of the disease, it is certain that any such revolution would be hotly contested.

Now, in the midst of this tragic collapse of marriage, along comes the Massachusetts Supreme Court, attempting to redefine marriage in a way that is absurdly irrelevant to any purpose for which society needs marriage in the first place.

Humpty Has Struck Before.

We've already seen similar attempts at redefinition. The ideologues have demanded that we stop defining "families" as Dad, Mom, and the kids. Now any grouping of people might be called a "family."

But this doesn't turn them into families, or even make rational people believe they're families. It just makes it politically unacceptable to use the word family in any meaningful way.

The same thing will happen to the word marriage if the Massachusetts decision is allowed to stand, and is then enforced nationwide because of the "full faith and credit" clause in the Constitution.

Just because you give legal sanction to a homosexual couple and call their contract a "marriage" does not make it a marriage. It simply removes marriage as a legitimate word for the real thing.

If you declare that there is no longer any legal difference between low tide and high tide, it might stop people from publishing tide charts, but it won't change the fact that sometimes the water is lower and sometimes it's higher.

Calling a homosexual contract "marriage" does not make it reproductively relevant and will not make it contribute in any meaningful way to the propagation of civilization.

In fact, it will do harm. Nowhere near as much harm as we have already done through divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing. But it's another nail in the coffin. Maybe the last nail, precisely because it is the most obvious and outrageous attack on what is left of marriage in America.

Supporters of homosexual "marriage" dismiss warnings like mine as the predictable ranting of people who hate progress. But the Massachusetts Supreme Court has made its decision without even a cursory attempt to ascertain the social costs. The judges have taken it on faith that it will do no harm.

You can't add a runway to an airport in America without years of carefully researched environmental impact statements. But you can radically reorder the fundamental social unit of society without political process or serious research.

Let me put it another way. The sex life of the people around me is none of my business; the homosexuality of some of my friends and associates has made no barrier between us, and as far as I know, my heterosexuality hasn't bothered them. That's what tolerance looks like.

But homosexual "marriage" is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society -- to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.

So if my friends insist on calling what they do "marriage," they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is.

Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage.

They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won't be married. They'll just be playing dress-up in their parents' clothes.

The Propaganda Mill

What happens now if children grow up in a society that overtly teaches that homosexual partnering is not "just as good as" but actually is marriage?

Once this is regarded as settled law, anyone who tries to teach children to aspire to create a child-centered family with a father and a mother will be labeled as a bigot and accused of hate speech.

Can you doubt that the textbooks will be far behind? Any depictions of "families" in schoolbooks will have to include a certain proportion of homosexual "marriages" as positive role models.

Television programs will start to show homosexual "marriages" as wonderful and happy (even as they continue to show heterosexual marriages as oppressive and conflict-ridden).

The propaganda mill will pound our children with homosexual marriage as a role model. We know this will happen because we have seen the fanatical Left do it many times before.

So when our children go through the normal adolescent period of sexual confusion and perplexity, which is precisely the time when parents have the least influence over their children and most depend on the rest of society to help their children grow through the last steps before adulthood, what will happen?

Already any child with any kind of sexual attraction to the same sex is told that this is an irresistible destiny, despite the large number of heterosexuals who move through this adolescent phase and never look back.

Already any child with androgynous appearance or mannerisms -- effeminite boys and masculine girls -- are being nurtured and guided (or taunted and abused) into "accepting" what many of them never suspected they had -- a desire to permanently move into homosexual society.

In other words, society will bend all its efforts to seize upon any hint of homosexuality in our young people and encourage it.

Now, there is a myth that homosexuals are "born that way," and we are pounded with this idea so thoroughly that many people think that somebody, somewhere, must have proved it.

In fact what evidence there is suggests that if there is a genetic component to homosexuality, an entire range of environmental influences are also involved. While there is no scientific research whatsoever that indicates that there is no such thing as a borderline child who could go either way.

Those who claim that there is "no danger" and that homosexuals are born, not made, are simply stating their faith.

The dark secret of homosexual society -- the one that dares not speak its name -- is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.

It's that desire for normality, that discontent with perpetual adolescent sexuality, that is at least partly behind this hunger for homosexual "marriage."

They are unhappy, but they think it's because the rest of us "don't fully accept them."

Homosexual "marriage" won't accomplish what they hope. They will still be just as far outside the reproductive cycle of life. And they will have inflicted real damage on those of us who are inside it.

They will make it harder for us to raise children with any confidence that they, in turn, will take their place in the reproductive cycle. They will use all the forces of our society to try to encourage our children that it is desirable to be like them.

Most kids won't be swayed, because the message of the hormones is clear for them. But for those parents who have kids who hover in confusion, their lives complicated by painful experiences, conflicting desires, and many fears, the P.C. elite will now demand that the full machinery of the state be employed to draw them away from the cycle of life.

Children from broken and wounded families, with missing parents, may be the ones most confused and most susceptible. Instead of society helping these children overcome the handicaps that come from a missing or dysfunctional father or mother, it may well be exacerbating the damage.

All the while, the P.C. elite will be shouting at dismayed parents that it is somehow evil and bigoted of them not to rejoice when their children commit themselves to a reproductive dead end.

But there is nothing irrational about parents grieving at the abduction-in-advance of their grandchildren.

Don't you see the absurd contradiction? A postulated but unproven genetic disposition toward homosexuality is supposed to be embraced and accepted by everyone as "perfectly natural" -- but the far stronger and almost universal genetic disposition toward having children and grandchildren is to be suppressed, kept to yourself, treated as a mental illness.

You're unhappy that your son wants to marry a boy? Then you're sick, dangerous, a homophobe, filled with hate. Control your natural desires or be branded as evil by every movie and TV show coming out of P.C. Hollywood!

Compassion and tolerance flow only one way in the "Wonderland" of the politically correct.

Loss of Trust

The proponents of this anti-family revolution are counting on most Americans to do what they have done through every stage of the monstrous social revolution that we are still suffering through -- nothing at all.

But that "nothing" is deceptive. In fact, the pro-family forces are already taking their most decisive action. It looks like "nothing" to the anti-family, politically correct elite, because it isn't using their ranting methodology.

The pro-family response consists of quietly withdrawing allegiance from the society that is attacking the family.

Would-be parents take part in civilization only when they trust society to enhance their chances of raising children who will, in turn, reproduce. Societies that create that trust survive; societies that lose it, disappear, one way or another.

But the most common way is for the people who have the most at stake -- parents and would-be parents -- to simply make the untrusted society disappear by ceasing to lift a finger to sustain it.

It is parents who have the greatest ability to transmit a culture from one generation to the next.

If parents stop transmitting the culture of the American elite to their children, and actively resist letting the schools and media do it in their place, then that culture will disappear.

If America becomes a place where the laws of the nation declare that marriage no longer exists -- which is what the Massachusetts decision actually does -- then our allegiance to America will become zero. We will transfer our allegiance to a society that does protect marriage.

We will teach our children to have no loyalty to the culture of the American elite, and will instead teach them to be loyal to a competing culture that upholds the family. Whether we home school our kids or not, we will withdraw them at an early age from any sense of belonging to contemporary American culture.

We're already far down that road. Already most parents regard schools -- an institution of the state that most directly touches our children -- as the enemy, even though we like and trust the individual teachers -- because we perceive, correctly, that schools are being legally obligated to brainwash our children to despise the values that keep civilization alive.

And if marriage itself ceases to exist as a legally distinct social union with protection from the government, then why in the world should we trust that government enough to let it have authority over our children?

They Think They Have the Power.

The politically correct elite think they have the power to make these changes, because they control the courts.

They don't have to consult the people, because the courts nowadays have usurped the power to make new law.

Democracy? What a joke. These people hate putting questions like this to a vote. Like any good totalitarians, they know what's best for the people, and they'll force it down our throats any way they can.

That's what the Democratic filibuster in the Senate to block Bush's judicial appointments is all about -- to keep the anti-family values of the Massachusetts Supreme Court in control of our government.

And when you add this insult onto the already deep injuries to marriage caused by the widespread acceptance of nonmonogamous behavior, will there be anything left at all?

Sure. In my church and many other churches, people still cling fiercely to civilized values and struggle to raise civilized children despite the barbarians who now rule us through the courts.

The barbarians think that if they grab hold of the trunk of the tree, they've caught the birds in the branches. But the birds can fly to another tree.

And I don't mean that civilized Americans will move. I mean that they'll simply stop regarding the authority of the government as having any legitimacy.

It is the most morally conservative portion of society that is most successful in raising children who believe in loyalty and oath-keeping and self-control and self-sacrifice.

And we're tired of being subject to barbarian rules and laws that fight against our civilized values. We're not interested in risking our children's lives to defend a nation that does not defend us.

Who do you think is volunteering for the military to defend America against our enemies? Those who believe in the teachings of politically correct college professors? Or those who believe in the traditional values that the politically correct elite has been so successful in destroying?

Let's take a poll of our volunteer military -- especially those who specialize in combat areas -- and see what civilization it is that they actually volunteered to defend.

Since the politically correct are loudly unwilling to fight or die for their version of America, and they are actively trying to destroy the version of America that traditional Americans are willing to fight or die to defend, just how long will "America" last, once they've driven out the traditional culture? cite

(I would have liked the author of that to read this.)

There are left-wingers in military service -- I knew a few -- but they are, at least in the officer corps, vastly outnumbered by the right-wingers. (Most of whom, it should be noted, thought me appallingly left-wing; how things change.) I find it difficult to impute much political consciousness to the lower enlisted as a group; the NCOs appeared to me to be mostly right-wing, but I know of no actual data to back that up.

While there is some rhetorical satisfaction to be gained in the apparently-accurate rule of thumb that those who defend our country -- and Iraq is included in that mission -- are my own fellow-travelers, a more sober view is that the self-exclusion of the American left from uniformed service is bad for the country. And bad for the American left, too.

Jes: Could you please just do the cite next time? That's one looooong-ass excerpt.

"There are left-wingers in military service -- I knew a few -- but they are, at least in the officer corps, vastly outnumbered by the right-wingers."

Not going to gainsay that, but it's worth pointing out that the vast majority of military, as in the vast majority of any assortment of citizens, are hardly rabidly partisan or ideological enough to qualify for winghood of any stripe. It's a sign of the screeching volume of political debate that the participants often forget that the choice isn't boolean.

While there is some rhetorical satisfaction to be gained in the apparently-accurate rule of thumb that those who defend our country -- and Iraq is included in that mission -- are my own fellow-travelers

25% of the soldiers who served in Iraq self-identify as Democrats, vs. 30% independent and 35% Republican, according to an October poll. So I think it is more accurate to say that those who defend our country are Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Of course that type of statement would not serve the evil purposes of Karl Rove, so instead the guy vilely smears the quarter million or so Democrats who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Considering the administration Karl Rove works for lied to get us into a fraudulent war and in the process severely damaged the military to the point where enlistment goals can't be met, its pretty incredible that the man would continue to do further damage by personally insulting a quarter of the troops. Then again, nothing this administration does is really shocking anymore, is it?

a more sober view is that the self-exclusion of the American left from uniformed service is bad for the country. And bad for the American left, too.

True, but 'self-exclusion' glosses some history there. Campus unrest and dissatisfaction with the Vietnam conflict led students to demand that ROTC programs be discontinued, so the whole process of leading the nation into a war that became unpopular should also be acknowledged as a cause. It seemed that the armed forces had recovered quite a bit of ground, and had the administration not taken the course it had, it is possible that we would be looking at a much stronger, more diverse armed forces, especially since much of that diversity was brought in through reserve opportunities. Now, with the reserve system potentially broken, we have returned to a situation where very few people would even consider the possibility of reserve service because the deployment schedule is so overwhelming. One could argue that this was one of the costs of going to war and that as a nation, we should have been/be prepared to pay it, but I am reminded of Jefferson Davis' comments when, towards the end of the Civil war, when the conscription was introduced, how this was 'grinding the seed corn'.

During a recent visit to a naval facility, I was surprised to find that a rather high percentage of enlisted personnel (a small sample, to be sure, as my minders kept me from interacting with many folks) thought the Iraq war both hopeless and mistaken. These folks weren't left wing by any stretch, but they were decidedly unimpressed with the current strategy. (I was yet more surprised to find myself arguing with them against precipitous withdrawal).

If there's a way to "win" in Iraq, we're not going to find it with the same bunch of vainglorious idiots in charge.

I don't know who's really running the show, Bush or Cheney, but both of them clearly have no idea what they're talking about, no idea what's going on in Iraq, and no idea how to turn things around. Every single prediction they made was wrong. Every single thing they say bears no relationship to reality. When Rumsfeld admits the insurgency could last another 12 years, you know we're in deep doodoo.

Who's doing the long-range strategizing? Is anyone? Or are the next 3 years going to be like the last, and they're just hoping for a rabbit to jump out of a hat? When Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld purged the Pentagon, did they keep anyone who knows the difference between an actual plan and a castle-in-the-air wishlist?

If there aren't any people like that left in the Pentagon, what will our staying in Iraq accomplish?


Even the pro-war crowd is now admitting we're stuck in Iraq for the long run?

Great. Wonderful. With what army? If there's no draft, and no improvement in recruitment, what are we going to do? Rotate the same 150,000 troops in and out for the next decade? Hire more mercenaries? Establish a Foreign Legion?

We're stuck in Iraq for the long run? Great. Wonderful. What happens if we need a military response somewhere else? For that matter, what happens if we get hit with a few major natural disasters here at home, the kinds of things we need the National Guard for?

We can't internationalize troop strength. The Coalition of the Willing is reduced to wet kleenex already, and I don't see any new members signing up. On the contrary: the Bush Administration is working its usual magic with allies, now infuriating the Italians every chance it gets.

Blaming Democrats, liberals and the news media works great as a rhetorical device. Maybe it'll ensure the GOP keeps control of the Senate and House. Maybe it'll finalize the docilation of the news media; make every TV, radio and newspaper outlet another Fox News. Hey, maybe the RW commentariate will realize its wet dream of seeing Democrats and liberals actually charged with treason, burned in effigy, and "disappeared" to Gitmo.

But that won't make the situation in Iraq any better. Because Democrats, liberals and the news media are not the problem. The Bush Administration is the problem. And even if that wonderful day comes when there are no more liberals, Democrats and news media to say so, it won't change the fact that that is the reality.

What will staying in Iraq entail, and what will it accomplish?

Just in case anyone is still wondering whether Bush might admit that there are problems in Iraq: No.

"Faced with polls showing public doubts that the situation in Iraq is improving, President Bush will emphasize in an address on Tuesday night that there is a "clear path to victory" and urge Americans to maintain their resolve, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said Monday. (...)

Mr. McClellan suggested that Mr. Bush would not signal any change in military or diplomatic strategy. Instead, he said, the president will emphasize that Iraq is making progress despite the mounting loss of life, and that the United States cannot allow the understandable concern about the violent insurgency to deter it from completing the job."

Anarch: Jes: Could you please just do the cite next time? That's one looooong-ass excerpt.

I am truly sorry. I thought I had excerpted three paragraphs. The length was a mistake. A pretty embarrassing mistake, and I cover myself with apologies.

Note to the ObWing team - any chance you could just delete it/edit it? I really never intended to cite such a looooong-ass excerpt!

George Bush Iraq drinking game! Everyone choses a word or phrase that they think he'll say, and drinks every time he says it. I call "hard work."

On the strength of my comment of 2:18 pm yesterday, I call "resolve."

Hilzoy, I have to admit that I was a little nervous offering those odds, but thank goodness I can count on our President's strong resolve.

On Iraq:
  • All this violence stuff in Iraq is no big deal. The media makes such a big deal of everything! What is wrong with you media!
  • We will overcome this violence because our resolve is strong.
  • The President has a plan! It is a good plan and we will get it done with our resolve which is strong.
  • Also with our love of freedom. Do you love freedom? Discussion question: what's the best thing you love about freedom?

Our resolve? Strong!

What this country needs is steady leadership in times of change. Not intelligent leadership, not correct leadership, but steady leadership. Steadiness. Resolve. The resolve to keep doing what you are already doing, even if it is hopelessly boneheaded and wrong.

Giblets is angry! (Steady Leadership edition)

Trust Fafblog!

For the drinking game: I call "some people" (as in, "some people may say that Muslims are not capable of living in freedom", or some such figment of his imagination.)

darn it, hilzoy, you took my idea. I guess I'll settle for "some people's" more pretentious cousin, "there are those".


"Even the pro-war crowd is now admitting we're stuck in Iraq for the long run?"

I'm not sure what pro-war crowd your talking about with that 'even', but the pro-war crowd around here was talking about a multi-decade commitment before the war began.

the pro-war crowd around here was talking about a multi-decade commitment before the war began.

ObWi, where three's a crowd...

CaseyL- I think you really pegged it with your Posted by: CaseyL | June 27, 2005 03:03 PM comment.

I'm really amazed at the number of people who still, after 5 years, expect a Bush speech to be anything but content-free.

Me? I expect more of the usual facile slogans and empty platitudes, repeated endlessly.

I'm more interested in knowing whether the speech itself will explicitly encourage the notion that Democrats, liberals and reporters are to blame for the FUBAR in Iraq, or whether the post-speech spin will do that. With the whole country turning against him, Bush won't want to waste any time redirecting peoples' fury.

I think Bush will be delicate about saying all Democrats are traitors, but he will be clear in implying that we are too wimpy and weak willed to be trusted in wartime.

Funny, Seb, that isn't what the pundits were saying. Or, for that matter, the Bush Administration. (Please don't make me drag out those quotes from Cheney and Rumsfeld again. You must have read them.)

I also don't recall anyone talking about maintaining troop strength through a decade-or-longer effort ... whoops! My bad, I do remember now: we were going to have lots of help from the Coalition of the Willing. And from the 140,000- strong Iraqi security forces.

Well, I guess those prognostications are... 'no longer operative.'

Hey, Seb? What do you think? Will there be a draft? More mercenaries? Or a "Enlist for Fast-track Citizenship!" Foreign Legion?

Funny, Seb, that isn't what the pundits were saying. Or, for that matter, the Bush Administration. (Please don't make me drag out those quotes from Cheney and Rumsfeld again. You must have read them.)

The Daily Show last night had a blisteringly funny montage of the various ways in which the Administration's predictions have been shown to be, um, optimistic. Rumsfeld's testimony, in particular, nearly gave Jon Stewart an infarction.

Funny, Seb, that isn't what the pundits were saying. Or, for that matter, the Bush Administration. (Please don't make me drag out those quotes from Cheney and Rumsfeld again. You must have read them.)

I also don't recall anyone talking about maintaining troop strength through a decade-or-longer effort ... whoops! My bad, I do remember now: we were going to have lots of help from the Coalition of the Willing. And from the 140,000- strong Iraqi security forces.

Which pundits? I specifically remember Andrew Sullivan, for example, talking about a long term commitment.

There won't be a draft because a draft wouldn't fix anything and because it would be very unpopular. When something is both unpopular and unuseful it doesn't typically get far in politics. There should be a marked increase in pay to shore up recruiting efforts. That might require a tax increase which would be unpopular, but at least useful--in contrast to a draft.

When something is both unpopular and unuseful it doesn't typically get far in politics.

If Bush had put some comparable effort into 'marketing' his vision for Iraq as he has the effort to change Social Security maybe more of the country would be backing him? ...then again maybe not.

9/11 is the only selling point that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has ever had, that was fine for Afghanistan but it just doesn't cut the mustard for Iraq. The country now realizes this and we see it mirrored in recent polls, but Bush, the administration and his die-hard supporters just don't get it and perhaps never will.

Iraq as the central front on the war on terror?

Is this flypaper redux, because to the extent Iraq is breeding terrorists, it is almost exclusively due to our presence there. Nothing like circular logic -- we must stay there because we must fight the terrorists we breed by our presence there.

We generate more terrorism threat by our ongoing presence than we eliminate.

Without our presence, Iraq devolves into a much more open civil war -- they are already in such a war, except that we are doing the fighting for the Shia against the Sunni. No wonder the Shia would like having us around for at least a little while longer.

There are already adequate security forces in Iraq to maintain order -- they are called the militias of the Shia and Kurds, which are already being incorporated into the Iraqi security forces. As awful as that might be for stability in the country, it is a trend that the Iraqis intend to implement no matter what we do.

The regime that is being created is Iran-lite, for all the good that does us.

The war is a failure of policy, and our continued presence does not repair nor lessen the failures. Pretending we need to stay as its the alleged front on the war on terror is simply another wrong-headed excuse for avoiding admission of the failure.

There should be a marked increase in pay to shore up recruiting efforts. That might require a tax increase which would be unpopular, but at least useful--in contrast to a draft.

A tax increase? From this crowd? Good luck with that! Seriously.

ted kennedy's public takedown seems to have knocked loose a good-defense-secretary tactic or two. in addition to saying the iraqis are gonna be fighting the insurgency, he's been discussing the fact that sunnis shouldn't be killing their countrymen, and iraq's borders need to be secured. two years late, but hey, it's still the right way to be thinking!

Seb is apparently convinced that sane conservative bloggers are in charge of government policy and not the Bush administration. Interesting policy view.

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