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November 16, 2005

Comments

Gary Farber asks:

"Mr. Trevino's condescending answer is insulting enough that it must be countered"

Have you no glove? Or second?

The first response I wrote was a good deal pithier. But it would have violated the posting rules. Spectacularly. So I toned it down.

To that end, blogfather Josh Trevino has set up a new site, No End But Victory, as his contribution toward strengthening American political will and forebearance.

Which includes: "Perhaps the biggest theme from the anti-war movement is that George W. Bush lied to the American people in order to get public support for the United States to invade Iraq." (The essay asserts that Bush never lied: the lies are being told by Cindy Sheehan or Joseph Wilson or...)

It looks like your average right-wing website denouncing those nasty leftists.

It's been asserted upthread that Tacitus does want the US to win in Iraq. Maybe so: but this website isn't evidence of it. A website that concerns itself more with the domestic criticism of how the war has been carried out, than with the administration's massive and appalling errors in conducting the war, is not concerned with winning the war where it is being fought, but with winning political victories at home.

Well, the fact that this site starts at exactly the same time that the new "Democrats are giving aid to the enemy" line by Bush can hardly be a coincidence.

If Trevino's a speech writer for Bush (and, my god, talk about trying to give dance lessons to a pig!) then it's not much of a surprise that he takes his rhetorical cue from the Bush Admin's latest talking points.

I'd be more surprised if anyone outside his established claque takes him seriously as a commentator/analyst.

He was a speechwriter for Tommy Thompson, actually.

"Does anyone really give a shit about Iraq?"

Yes.

"Seriously man we got our lives to lead right here at home."

Everybody has lives to lead. Almost everybody wants a home.

"What is the worst that can happen if we pull out of Iraq right away."

Hundreds of thousands of people dying horribly, vast suffering, scattered torture or worse, destruction of communities, children never growing up, cultures damaged, irreplacable loss of art and historic objects, and significantly increased political instability in the Mideast. Nothing you should care about.

"Nothing of any real consequence to us."

Well, sure, if "we" are moral monsters, utterly indifferent to human suffering, and also idiots completely unable to extrapolate from anything to anything.

I'm glad I don't know anyone so foolish, and sad.

"Wow, that was a long-ass post."

Saved me at least two hours that I don't currently have available though ;)

Wat Mercutio said. And I agree with Jesurgislag too: the site is very partisan.

From what I've read from Tacitus in the past "the will to win" usually involves a lot of violence, blood and innocent victims.

If the US government cannot take its responsibility by admitting mistakes en re-introducing accountability, it cannot really change anything.

There has been to much willing, and not enough planning. If you want to assure victory you should at least try to change that loosing strategy.

And Jon H: If I were an insurgent in an area flooded with paintguns, I would quite happily encourage everybody to splash the whole environment orange. The kids would have a whale of a time and the troops would spent 24/7 investigating every meter of every road.

If this was the kind of post being published on Tac's new website, then I'd accept that Tacitus is really, honestly, wanting the US to win in Iraq: wanting the Republican party - grassroots, Senate, and Congress - to take a long hard cold look at the Bush administration and its comprehensive errors in Iraq, and see what could be done to fix them.

But as it is - I've looked at some of the other posts now - this isn't about US victory in Iraq; this is about blaming everyone but the Bush administration for the astonishing mess the US is in in Iraq.

"...that he takes his rhetorical cue from the Bush Admin's latest talking points."

Tacitus would toss Bush over the edge in a NY minute, if he thought it would benefit the Party.

I wish there were more discernment, more refined taste and discrimination in the bashing of conservatives. They are not all alike, and are often not alike in interesting ways.

Tacitus is the most profoundly partisan gentleman I have ever met. He is a Republican like Inigo Lopez de Loyola was a Catholic.

And he has added a little doohickey to his name. Is it pronounced Tre-veen-yo?

Yes (re Josh): It is "Treviño" but the "n with tilde" (properly an "eñe" in Spanish) doesn't always copy on common (Anglo) keyboards/word processors. Try "Alt+0241" in Word.

Oh. OTOH, y'all might not be entirely wrong.

Tacitus would want to win in Iraq, but if he thought we were going to lose the war, he would be incensed and disgusted with Bush, but quietly, and try to shift the blame away in order to diminish harm to the Party. He might sincerely believe the loss came from a general pusillanimity with a concentration in the left contaminating a portion of the right. He might believe the loss was due to wicked and incompetent leadership.

In any case, the Dolchstosslegende would be to protect the Party (as it should and could be, not as it is) and in his case not a cynical act but a principled and idealistic one. Institutions have value far exceeding their actual practices and immediate usefulness. We exist to serve.

"Tacitus is the most profoundly partisan gentleman I have ever met. He is a Republican like Inigo Lopez de Loyola was a Catholic."

Would he defeat Hugh Hewitt in personal combat?

Tangentially: could the five most partisan Republicans assemble into a Giant Transformer BattleBot to fight the counter Giant Democratic Transformer BattleBot?

Please?

I think this comment from Josh Marshall is relevant here:

Virtually all of the arguments the White House is now advancing are transparently ridiculous on their face to anyone who has closely followed this evolving debate over the last three years.

But that doesn't matter. The White House doesn't need to win any debates. What they need is for their core supporters to have something to say. Anything. And to be able to say it loudly. The one thing that would be fatal for the White House from its defenders would be silence.

No End But Victory fits into that idea quite nicely. Nowhere on that site is there evidence of an attempt to change minds about the war in Iraq. It's a transparent attempt to rally the faithful, to keep them occupied.

I would not be surprised if a general order went out from HQ, and Josh Treviño simply chose the subject (the war) and the form (blog activism) that interested him the most.

"Tacitus is the most profoundly partisan gentleman I have ever met. He is a Republican like Inigo Lopez de Loyola was a Catholic."

Would he defeat Hugh Hewitt in personal combat?

Tangentially: could the five most partisan Republicans assemble into a Giant Transformer BattleBot to fight the counter Giant Democratic Transformer BattleBot?

Please?

In any case, the Dolchstosslegende would be to protect the Party (as it should and could be, not as it is) and in his case not a cynical act but a principled and idealistic one.

Is this supposed to make us feel more or less nervous about him, bob?

Speaking of comicbook superheroes:

link

dr ngo:

Re Viet Nam, where Tacitus really misses the boat is thinking that the Viet Nam war was being driven by the VC. The war was a civil war between the NVA and the colonial remnants in the south, which we belatedly decided to prop up. The VC was always an auxilliary of the NVA, and never as important as the regular NVA. The NVA was always the driving force behind the war. And although the VC took a major hit in 1968, it hardly mattered to the overall war effort by the NVA.

To say we "won" because the VC was badly beat up after Tet is nonsensical.

Recent posts on Josh Trevino's various weblogs show that he has, in fact, thrown Bush over the side for the sake of the Republican Party.

It gives me no comfort that idealistic principles (all very well) come through five years of reality fully intact right down to the dotted i's.

Besides, since I, the American people (I am the American people, you know, but you aren't), apparently now own Iraq without actually making the decision to purchase, (though I think the mortgage payments seem kind of low), I do find it, umm, irresponsible that Trevino and his Party don't get to own George W. Bush -- all of him and his deeds.

But, no, off they go, to the land of first principles. Where the living is so easy.


"you" is not Bob McManus. Actually he is the only other "American People", besides me. Despite his imperialistic jumpiness. ;)

I would speculate or philosophize that Tacistus and his allies are reaping what they have sown.

Bob McManus' misplaced finger has above defined Travino better than either his critics or defenders have. Josh isn't a Facist. He's a Tacist.

He's a Tacist.

Would that make him Bordurian?

The wheels are long since off. At last
the political battle seems to have been joined.

Kevin Drum thinks the pull out will start after the elections, and Bush will claim victory. I think he is right. After all, what other choice does he have?

Way too much tomfoolery in this thread to address (dr ngo's rape of history chief among them), especially as Typepad has taken to eating my comments at random.

Short, short version which will make several people mad and dig into their much-thumbed hardback Richard Evans tomes for the appropriate metaphor from c.1919-1945:

You don't have to like the President. You don't have to like the way the war is fought. You don't have to think the war was a good idea. You don't have to think the war is going well. You can be a Bush-loathing, things-are-bad-in-Iraq, invasion-was-a-terrible-idea sort of guy, and still be a good American in my book.

But if you are that sort of guy, and your consequent preference is to embrace defeat? Well. That's not "loyal" opposition. Don't expect the rest of us to pretend it is.

Tac:

Is there anyone against the Iraq war who cares about you opinion of them?

Sorry. Probably out of line. Feel free (or freer than otherwise) to delete.

But if you are that sort of guy, and your consequent preference is to embrace defeat? Well. That's not "loyal" opposition. Don't expect the rest of us to pretend it is.

If you are the kind of guy who, faced with an administration who will be in power for the next three years, who has run the US into a disastrous war, and you set up a website and invite people to criticize, not the administration, but those who oppose the administration, then plainly, you have gone beyond the bounds of being a loyal American, and into the madness of leader worship and despair.

The war in Iraq is going badly. You have people posting on your website who seem to think it's the fault of those who have written about Bush's lies and the Bush administration's failure to plan the occupation of Iraq: who blame the disaster of Iraq on Joseph Wilson and Cindy Sheehan.

That's the real problem: the number of people who are blindly embracing the idea that the problem is people in the US who are recognizing the face that if there is no change in leadership - if the Bush administration is allowed to continue uncriticized and unchallenged - then defeat in Iraq is inevitable.

You need Republicans like Sebastian Holsclaw and Von posting on your site. You don't need an echo chamber of people who think the problem is that people aren't loyal enough to George W. Bush.

That is, you need Republicans like Sebastian Holsclaw and Von if your goal is to create a discussion chamber for how the US may still win in Iraq: people on the right who'll heartily criticize what the Bush administration is doing - and not doing - and not what one mother of a soldier killed in Iraq is saying in the US.

However, if your goal is partisan political victory in the US, your website is performing quite adequately. I suppose if you know in your heart of hearts that, thanks to Bush & Co, the Iraq war is already lost, it's necessary to be able to blame it on anything other that the people directly responsible.

Is there anyone against the Iraq war who cares about you opinion of them?

Many of them, apparently, comment on Obsidian Wings.

....into the madness of leader worship and despair.

How ridiculous. The people advocating defeat need and deserve their opprobrium -- and so does the Administration in many, many ways. Noendbutvictory.com is hardly a site that excludes the latter (uh, Aziz Poonawalla is an editor, after all). Your assumptions are....well, just that.

dr ngo's rape of history chief among them

Josh, being a "speechwriter for the Bush Administration"..."knows of what he speaks!"

Tac, I advise you, when you order the sun to come up in the morning, be sure to order it to come up in the East.

I shouldn't have to explain this to a library employee, 2shoes, but the noting of professional qualifications was never invoked as a blanket claim to all knowledge.

Ah, sorry. I forgot I'm not talking to a person of good faith.

Gary, in all honesty I do not see anyone who really gives a shit about Iraq. I see a bunch of people, like here, who pretend to care but it is all hot air, essentially meaningless.

The battle for Iraq is not about Iraq. It is about political power, or bragging rights, or something else but it definately has nothing to do with Iraq.

Three years after we pull out this will be so obvious that not even you will be able to miss it.

But if you are that sort of guy, and your consequent preference is to embrace defeat? Well. That's not "loyal" opposition.

What exactly constitutes defeat? We have various people with various ideas of victory, some of them ludicrous, some merely hard to achieve. If we were to withdraw tomorrow Iraq would end up as a Shiite run republic with significant religious repression and involved in a civil war with the Sunnis. Kurdistan would probably secede, forming a quasi-democratic republic hostile to our ally Turkey, unless the SCIRI government decided to try keeping them in by force, in which case they'd more than likely ally with the Sunnis, leading to three way fragmentation.

That's my read on what would most likely happen, and it doesn't seem to me quite bad enough to call it defeat (at least not in the military sense). I'd prefer to see competent leadership which could head off fragmentation and prevent SCIRI from gaining too much power, but ham-handed efforts to achieve the goal of a democratic and free Iraq make fragmentation and theocracy more likely, not less. If the realistic choices are between my scenario above and a long occupation in which thousands of innocents are killed, America's reputation is further tarnished, and Iraq ends up fragmented into three failed states, then I think "defeat" now is preferrable to "defeat" later.

This line of thinking is why I think that talk about will is deeply misguided. The issue is not will, it's competence. Not military competence - we have that in spades. What we need is competence in nation building. If the site encourages discussion of how to bring about an effective management of the situation in Iraq, I will be glad to chip in, or at least read and learn. I haven't seen any evidence so far that the contributors to NEBV have even correctly identified the problem, which makes finding a solution difficult.

the talk of the disloyalty of defeatists has bad connotations for me--too much like the WW1 diehards who didn't care what the war was for or how many had to die so long as their side could claim victory.
Which isn't to say Tac is like that. There are some very real reasons why it matters what kind of shape Iraq is in if and/or when we pull out, so i can understand why people want to sustain a commitment at least until some of the bad outcomes are avoided. However,I think the gist of this particular thread here isn't defeatism at all. The idea repeatedly expressed is that it will take more than will to win, that the victory can't be won by strictly military means, that the Bush admin. itself doesn't have the will to pay for the war, and that the Bush administration, due to well documented incompetence, isn't likely to use its will in a logical or effective way anyhow.
These are valid points and it isn't defeatism to point them out--it's some far more powerful-- realism.
In order to win in any real sense, real problems must be addressed. So it isn't productive or condusive to victory to perseverate on about defeatists.

Ah, sorry. I forgot I'm not talking to a person of good faith.

Tacitus, a person of good faith does not accuse a professional historian, writing in the field in which he has been teaching for thirty years, of the "rape of history," even if he disagrees with his conclusions.

My error - I thought you were a civilized person, one who might be reasoned with, one who would not resort to gratuitous insults. I'll know better next time.

"After all, what other choice does he have?"

Staying.

I don't have any quarrel with the notion that Kevin may be correct. On the other hand, it's a useful principle to not confuse one's own evaluation with another's, and assume that they'll come to the same conclusion we do. After all, how often does George W. Bush do what you think is the only remaining reasonable thing?

Who's 2shoes in this conversation, and how does one know he/she is a "library employee", for whatever relevance that has? Or did I lose my decoder ring?

Well, it is true that he often is not reasonable, but it is also true (at least in my perception) that he cares very little for reality and is far more concerned with preserving image than with accomplishing anything of substance. He's a classic bully, tough when it is easy to be, and into saving face the rest of the time. Remember how he flew home when the Terri Schiavo thing went against him? His alternatives are to stay the course and continue to lose support for himself and the Republicans in general, ask for a tax hike and possibly a draft, or declare victory and leave. My money's on the last choice.

[DELETED]

....a person of good faith does not accuse a professional historian, writing in the field in which he has been teaching for thirty years, of the "rape of history," even if he disagrees with his conclusions.

Your decades of teaching in your chosen profession have no effect upon the value of the history you present, except perhaps to lessen the excuse for its poor quality. No one denies that the Viet Cong/NLF continued to exist until c.1975 (when, it should be noted, much of their now-useless leadership was sent away for "reeducation" or worse). But they were never again a meaningful battlefield threat post-Tet. As you note, the NVA had to shoulder the burden of the Communist war effort thenceforth. My point stands.

Good God, Tacitus, do you have to be so rude?

dmbeaster Re Viet Nam, where Tacitus really misses the boat is thinking that the Viet Nam war was being driven by the VC. The war was a civil war between the NVA and the colonial remnants in the south, which we belatedly decided to prop up. The VC was always an auxilliary of the NVA, and never as important as the regular NVA. The NVA was always the driving force behind the war.

I'm interested in your evidence for this assertion, which runs contrary to most of the research I have read. Although fighting began in south Vietnam around 1960 (the "advisor war"), the "regular NVA" did not appear there until around 1965, and were not numerically or even operationally dominant among the resistance forces for a few years after that. It makes little sense to talk of the VC as an "auxiliary" to them before 1967/68 at the very earliest.


The war was indeed a civil war, one between the heirs of the communist-led "Viet Minh," which fought the French 1946-1954, and the Saigon regime, which we propped up, as you note. But although the NVA is one of those heirs, it is not identical to the Viet Minh, which was essentially a political organization with a strong military arm, rather than a military organization. (Note that Ho Chi Minh, Le Duan, Truong Chinh, and most of the other policy-makers were not military men; only Giap, among the party leaders, was.) The NLF was another of the heirs of the Viet Minh, based on the remnants remaining in the South.

Perhaps what you mean is that "the driving force" was the Hanoi politburo, which was ultimately attempting to dictate strategy for both the NLF and the NVA. This is more plausible, though not firmly established. The NVA was under the direct control of the politburo, but the NLF, being more distant, tended to be a bit more self-willed and fractious, especially early on. Historians still struggle to interpret the founding of the NLF and its commitment to armed struggle, which had Hanoi's imprimatur but seems -- according to some evidence, at any rate -- to have been their response to initiatives from southerners, originally. (Oversimplified: "We've had it with sitting quietly under the Diem regime, which is decimating us. We want to start fighting back - are you going to back us or what?")

In any event, though you disagree with Tacitus's conclusion, I believe you share with him a misconception as to how important the "village war" was in the south, going all the way back to the 1950s. I commend (again) Jeffrey Race's book on Long An to your attention, though it is not the only study by any means. Race, who was with the US Army in Long An, then came back as a graduate student to analyze what had worked and what hadn't (and why), concluding that the Saigon regime had essentially lost the war in that province - the battle for "hearts and minds" - even before the US forces arrived, and that nothing either the ARVN or the US forces did thereafter altered the fundamental equation there. This is the NLF at work, not the NVA.

....a person of good faith does not accuse a professional historian, writing in the field in which he has been teaching for thirty years, of the "rape of history," even if he disagrees with his conclusions.

Your decades of teaching in your chosen profession have no effect upon the value of the history you present, except perhaps to lessen the excuse for its poor quality. No one denies that the Viet Cong/NLF continued to exist until c.1975 (when, it should be noted, much of their now-useless leadership was sent away for "reeducation" or worse). But they were never again a meaningful battlefield threat post-Tet. As you note, the NVA had to shoulder the burden of the Communist war effort thenceforth. My point stands.

"do you have to be so rude?"

I think you mean, "must you be so rude?"

This is a tarbaby thread and the whole point of Tac's contribution is to have us beat up on him, with the goal to have a commentor or three get angry enough to toss some really nasty cracks so Tac can link to them and say 'look at how bad they are treating me over there!' Even now, he flirts with banning by outing a commentator. If he could get kicked off of the board, he would be holding it up as prima facia evidence that he's right and everyone else is wrong. As the right side of this board won't take any steps, I would suggest we just leave the thread now and let him stamp around the room slamming doors and kicking walls.

Hm. Surely he must, then.

a man quite bitter about his banning from tacitus.org

If you say so. But I think it's more a case of you wish it so.

(a difficult feat, that)

Not really, actually. You just have to embarrass the owner of site by displaying his assertions contradict known facts. Then you are make it onto the Enemies List. And it's only a matter of time then.

I certainly hope you flesh out NoEndButVictory.com a bit more than, say, the Consistent Life Ethic. Given, though, that victory is neither defined, nor the path to it charted in any sort of detail it seems more likely that it is what many including myself have speculated: a shiny bauble to keep the faithful occupied, and a pulpit for you to - once again - get in touch with your inner bully.

By the whiskers of Kurvi-Tacitus, over and out.

lj, maybe "let's do our best to be polite to guests, however trying they are; and if we can't be polite to them, just ignore them; and in any case, let's trust in the Kitten" would be a better tack.

Incidentally here's someone who knew when to use the phrase "the rape of history".

I wonder if the phrase goes back further than this rather, um, nasty version.

"Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothing new to say . . ."

Well, maybe it does belong on the other thread after all.

Tacitus: I am deleting the comment in which you out a commenter. If, as you say, people's professions do not affect their arguments, then surely you agree that neither that commenter's profession nor his name are germane here.

Don't do it again.

Your remarks about dr, ngo tell us a lot more about you than about either Vietnamese history or him.

LJ has it right. Trolling is trolling, regardless of the troll's history, contributions to other sites, self-importance, etc.

fwiw:

Tacitus has now posted the "eternal sunset of the defeatist mind" at NEBV.

Something about the title makes me doubt that the post is intended to reach out to those who have concerns about the ongoing endeavor in Iraq.

hmmm. can't figure out why. any help from the peanut gallery?

as to the substance of the post, considering i'm not a military historian i tread on very dangerous ground here. but i note that following WWII, guerrilla forces were largely defeated by their own regularly constituted governments (PKK, Sendero Luminosa) or next door neighbors during the Cold War (Soviet satellite states).

those guerrilla movements crushed by occupying forces (Mau Mau in Kenya, Viet Cong, FLN in Algeria) were defeated, i suspect, by tactics considered unacceptable today.

(It's probably also worth pointing out that the govts of each of those three countries since the end of the guerrilla wars have not exactly been characterized by stability or pro-west attitudes.)

(Also, for the historians in the group, it appears to me that the author is guilty of cherry-picking his data for favorable results. If internal conflicts count, I'm not sure why Greece is excluded. The collapse of Yugoslavia should probably be addressed, as well as that of Lebanon. Perhaps the IRA's successes in Northern Ireland bear analysis.

In any event, I defer to those with greater expertise.)

The people advocating defeat need and deserve their opprobrium -- and so does the Administration in many, many ways. Noendbutvictory.com is hardly a site that excludes the latter

And yet, all I've seen on the site so far is criticism of those not responsible for the disaster that is the Iraq war. Who, then, is posting sustained criticism of the people who are actually responsible for defeat in Iraq: the Bush administration?

(uh, Aziz Poonawalla is an editor, after all).

What name does he post under? Greyhawk, HaroldHutchison, haystack, Jim Geraghty, John Cole, Leon H., Macallan, Pejman Yousefzadeh, Peralta, Tim Saler, or Winds of Change?

drat, forgot the link to "eternal sunset." try here.

i'd be fascinated to hear countervailing arguments (only, of course, from those competent to make them.)

War is Over

For those who need an alternative to NEBV, this is the second post in a row by "Kierkkegaard" over at Tacitus.org that I have enjoyed, even tho I find it overly optimistic. But I need that optimism, for today's lefty blogs are celebrating the Murtha speech by pouring gasoline over what remains of the Democratic party. As they organize to derail the warmongeress Hilary, will it be Finegold to strike the match?

Ya know, I can't believe I am reliving the sixties, too old for the drugs and sex.

Not expert enough in the relevant history to provide a full critique, but Tac's latest does somehow seem just a bit http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_2/kipling.html>derivative.

Aha! I finally located an article in Parameters, the Army War College publication, first published this summer, that argues against this idea that the media turns public support against wars.

Here's a link to a PDF.

Here's the conclusion:

Moreover, when boldness, clarity of objective, and effectiveness of policy are reflected in deeds in accordance with Clausewitz's theory, the nature of the ruthlessly competititve modern media system ensures that the media will report that clarity and resolve to the public as the factual content of its news message. The news media remain the principle messengers of bold policy, and they will report it as a consequence of relentless marketplace competition, irrespective of whatever baggage of bias some quarters of the media establishment may attach to it. As a consequence, assuming the correctness of the policy in its articulation and the boldness of its execution, domestic public support will take care of itself.
That seems very sensible to me--especially that last dependant clause.

Okay, gotta go to dinner.

"the warmongeress Hilary"

She has two Ls. I have one. (My parents goofed.) And I am not a warmongress.

The one-l lama,
He's a priest.
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama.

-- Ogden Nash

But if you are that sort of guy, and your consequent preference is to embrace defeat? Well. That's not "loyal" opposition. Don't expect the rest of us to pretend it is.

What I expect is for you to keep pretending that anyone who is "that sort of guy" is presumed to embrace defeat. And therefore they are not loyal opposition.

Frankly, the forces "embracing defeat" would be those who in control of policy who, like in the Viet Nam era, keep telling lies about how things are going, and keep doing nothing to correct failed policies. They have put political self-interest in front of the national self-interest, and have created the problematic circumstances that now exist.

Bob, you're never too old for drugs and sex.

(well, i'm not yet, nor planning on getting there. ymmv.)

as to K's essay, i still have a great deal of respect for american values

(no, not hatred, bigotry, anti-intellectualism)

the ones that created the New Deal.

ral,

Much as I admire Ogden Nash, he was mistaken here.

There is not only a three-l lllama, but an N-l one as well.

Think of a major fire (in Boston, if that helps).

I left out the asterisk -- I was unaware of it but it turns out Nash knew...

*The author's attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.

ral,

I confess. I read it somewhere, but didn't remember that Nash himself knew of the problem.

Since the invasion happened, I've seen two basic reactions on the pro-war side of the aisle to unfolding events:

1) Look on in growing disbelief and disillusionment, and at some point get off the bus in digust, or

2) Retreat headfirst up one's own rectum while spitting venom about how everyone who had the nerve to be right when the hawks were wrong is an unserious, defeatist traitor.

Clicking over to that site, I see articles like "Who are the real liars?" holding up Norman Podhoretz' latest dishonest tripe as some kind of revelation, which puts it squarely behind door number 2. Thanks, but no thanks; these folks are welcome to preach to their increasingly small and vicious choir without me.

As to defining "victory":

1. Put bluntly, any definition of victory that relies on Bush's team ever being able to find their own asses with a roadmap is sheer fantasy. Any definition of victory that proceeds from current GOP talking points as truth is active self-delusion (for example, elections held to legitimate an occupation are not going to produce a stable liberal democracy, for much the same reasons that the elections Saddam held to legitimate his dictatorship didn't do so).

2. A definition of victory that envisages the US occupation midwifing a stable state that could at some point be a meaningful democracy is very likely in the realm of fantasy at this point, given the steep uncertainties involved and the sheer amount of resources that would be required. Ergo brow-beating Americans about how they should sacrifice to achieve this vision of victory (particularly when Bush's own base hasn't been signing up to fight such a supposedly necessary war in large numbers) isn't a very viable proposition.

3. Of course, the US has all the tools it needs to achieve a momentary tactical victory if it really wants one. All it has to do is starve out and incinerate several major population centres, and Iraq would probably be pacified until it left (at which point whatever puppet government it had put in place would no doubt reap the whirlwind). Unfortunately for the US this amounts to strategic defeat, since -- the misplaced confidence of jingoists aside -- America relies on the tacit or active support of many international actors to maintain the economic underpinnings of its swiftly-hollowing superpower status, and committing genocide in a war of choice is the best possible way to annihilate that support and turn the world decisively against American hegemony.

4. Engage option 3, but maintain the occupation indefinitely (with a veneer puppet government in place), reshaping America's economy and society to whatever needed extent to do so. This one is back, I think, in the realm of fantasy and comes with all the drawbacks and many times the costs of option 3.

Failing these options, the US is left with figuring out what the least humiliating and degrading form of defeat would be. Almost any of the "peace first" options basically involves arming one faction sufficiently that it can destroy its rivals (the Friedman Final Solution, "let the Sunnis reap the whirlwind," is only one version of this); since this basically entails sponsoring a bloodbath in order to save face on the domestic stage while withdrawing, "peace first" actually looks a hell of a lot more cowardly and degrading than most of its proponents seem to understand. In fact, it's very likely just as disastrous as anything that could happen after an unconditional withdrawal, but with an extra helping of opprobrium for the outgoing occupiers and anybody left behind who was associated with them.

The only other available option would seem to be some variant of "get the hell out and hope for the best." Does that suck? Of course it sucks. It sucks hard. But it preserves at least some vestige of American honor and has the added virtue of being actually realistic. People who don't like being in this position should think about holding Bush and his cronies accountable, and (if they cheerleaded for the war) about taking a good long look in the mirror.

Isn't Option 4 precisely what the self-proclaimed thoughtful realists of the right--Trevino, the Winds of Change crew, etc.--are more-or-less openly advocating?

It's always seemed that way to me.

Not being sure who Tac outed, nor certain with what purpose in mind he attacked dr ngo out of substance, I say: bad form, Tacitus. If you're at the point where you're fresh out of civility, best hang it up for a bit, you've become that which you despise.

Whew! Finally made it all the way through the comments. Waaay upthread, mercutio had a very thoughtful post that articulated, as coherently as I have seen, the very large gap between what we need to do and what we have the will to do. As someone who does not support immediate withdrawal from Iraq, it certainly gave me a lot to think about.

I agree that the American people would not support a draft to put the numbers of soldiers in Iraq we would need to fully secure the country. I also think, as others here have pointed out before, that such a move would likely backfire at this point and only fuel the insurgency.

I wish I had a better idea of what is really going on with the Iraqis themselves. How popular is the insurgency among the Sunnis? And what is the real extent of the influence of al-Qaeda among the insurgents? How much control do the Islamists really have in the Shiite areas? And what is their real relationship with Iran? How willing are the Sunnis and Shiites to compromise in order to avoid a civil war? To what extent do the average Sunni and Shiite hate each other? Do the Kurds want independence badly enough that they are willing to risk invasion by Turkey and the guarantee of endless war with the Sunnis over Kirkuk, or are they willing to compromise and remain part of Iraq?

To me, these are the most important questions and the ones that will determine whether any kind of victory (i.e., a relatively stable, relatively democratic and relatively liberal Iraq that is not a haven for terrorists and not an Iranian puppet) is possible at all. I think I may have said this before, but to me the future is already in the hands of the Iraqi people. We can influence things with our actions, but we no longer determine the course of events in Iraq.

I still believe that we can do good in Iraq by training a national army and by pressuring the various parties to work together, and I think that an immediate withdrawal would precipitate a civil war and reflect badly on our image throughout the world. I hope that the Iraqis will find a way to work together, and actually build a functioning democracy. Maybe it's a fool's hope, but as long as it still exists I think we should stay and try to help make it happen.

Well, it's late and I've depressed myself, so I'm going to bed.

Doctor Slack says:

"4. Engage option 3, but maintain the occupation indefinitely (with a veneer puppet government in place), reshaping America's economy and society to whatever needed extent to do so. This one is back, I think, in the realm of fantasy and comes with all the drawbacks and many times the costs of option 3."

And DaveL says:

"Isn't Option 4 precisely what the self-proclaimed thoughtful realists of the right--Trevino, the Winds of Change crew, etc.--are more-or-less openly advocating?"

Is Option 4 what the "realists of the right" are advocating?

I've seen commenters at RedState call for a 20-40 year occupation in Iraq.

And it does seem that the Right is calling for a reshaping of American society to accommodate that long-term occupation. CB wants the US mass media to become an arm of the government in supporting the war. And many on the Right, from McClellan on down to posters at RW sites, advocate criminalizing opposition to the war.

Have any of them really thought this through?

Because it sounds to me as if what they want is an America that has tranformed itself completely for the sake of establishing some kind of stable Iraq. Not a secular Iraq; not a democratic Iraq; not even a confederated Iraq. Just some vague notion of stability, in one (frankly) not-terribly-important country... and for this they want America to become an authoritarian fortress-state.

Have they completely lost their buttons, or what?

CB wants the US mass media to become an arm of the government in supporting the war.

A little overstated there. It would be nice if the newspapers or broadcast TV would be a little open minded and reported from the Kurdish areas or the quieter Shia enclaves and showed the difference pre and post Saddam. Or lay out the stakes in this struggle between Islamists versus practically everybody else in the world, instead of being so politically correct. But they're never ever going to do that. No, the "brave" thing to do is to attack US foreign policy, which have had no recent repercussions, as far as I can see.

And many on the Right, from McClellan on down to posters at RW sites, advocate criminalizing opposition to the war.

Funny how liberals can criminalize "hate speech", casual conversation in the workplace and various other thought crimes, or discriminate against conservatives, let's say college students for instance, but fantasize that they are oppressed or will be oppressed in the future. Or prosecute people on the basis of unknowable and unprovable intentions. Is that because precedents have been already been set by themselves?

No, the "brave" thing to do is to attack US foreign policy, which have had no recent repercussions, as far as I can see.

Please tell me this is a joke.

criminalize "hate speech", casual conversation in the workplace and various other thought crimes

For what value of "criminalize" do you think this is true?

Please tell me this is a joke.

No, it's not a joke. There haven't been anybody thrown in jail for crititcizing US policy, as far as I know. Now if there are repercussions in the sense of people disapproving of the critics, well that is true.

George Bush will save us.

For what value of "criminalize" do you think this is true?

Trust me, there are cases where there is intent insinuated that is simply not so. I have a family member facing possible life in prison because some politcian types have seized on this for their own publicity. There was no hate speech, no bad thoughts or intentions, for goodness sakes this guy was a social worker, but for political gain, an accident has now become a murder case.

Good enough for you?

"Not being sure who Tac outed...."

Having also missed it, I assumed dr.ngo, although if so, I have to say that a) it's rude to address people by names they're not using in a given context, period, in my book, and b) it's barely "outing" someone if it's a matter of the subject using a nom de interweb that shows another name on the first page when dropped into Google. (To repeat for anyone slow: it's bad to out people, even if they're not exactly disguised.)

On substance, although I am neither professional historian, nor golf pro, nor speechwriter, nor many other things, including professor of bioethics, engineer, art dealer, accountant, godfather, sailor, soldier, tinker, toy, I have some familiarity with the history of the Vietnam War, and I've not yet seen anything here by dr.ngo that I'd quibble with.

"I've seen commenters at RedState call for a 20-40 year occupation in Iraq.

And it does seem that the Right is calling for a reshaping of American society to accommodate that long-term occupation."

The right has wanted to reshape American Society since the 30's. I wish the left took as much respnsibility.

We have reached, or are within reach of "peak oil." How will that play out? What will the Oilocracies look like in 30 years as the wells run dry? What will the American and World economies look like? What will our social and political systems be?

IMO. FWIW. We be will militarily engaged in the ME in a large way for the rest of our lives. And all our societies will be utterly transformed, to a degree not seen in about a century. And this is about the best case scenario.

"It would be nice if the newspapers or broadcast TV would be a little open minded and reported from the Kurdish areas or the quieter Shia enclaves and showed the difference pre and post Saddam."

From the point of view of making a documentary on any number of aspects of Iraq -- a snapshot of the country on a given day, or as part of an overall view of progress in the political development of the country, or the military situation, for instance -- that's utterly reasonable.

But to simply say that news broadcasters and reporters should go out on a given day with a goal of Finding Good News: that's not reporting. That's not finding news. That's doing propaganda.

It would be propaganda, as well, of course, if they went out on a given day looking for Things To Hurt America With. But they don't do that. They do report Big Bad Dramatic Things, and Bad Trends, because it's the job of news to find things people should be alarmed about, and warn them (if there's a theory here, it's that this might enable people, somewhere, to do something about whatever it is, at least in the future). It's not the job of news reporters to find things to make us feel comfy and complacent and happy.

This is not a political or partisan bias. It's the nature of the definition of what is "news."

Explaining how things are now better than under Saddam is also a perfectly reasonable informative thing for someone to do, but that's for someone who is desiring to make a point; it's -- and the word is neutral, not pejorative -- propaganda.

"Not being sure who Tac outed...."

Having also missed it, I assumed dr.ngo, although if so, I have to say that a) it's rude to address people by names they're not using in a given context, period, in my book, and b) it's barely "outing" someone if it's a matter of the subject using a nom de interweb that shows another name on the first page when dropped into Google. (To repeat for anyone slow: it's bad to out people, even if they're not exactly disguised.)

On substance, although I am neither professional historian, nor golf pro, nor speechwriter, nor many other things, including professor of bioethics, engineer, art dealer, accountant, godfather, sailor, soldier, tinker, toy, I have some familiarity with the history of the Vietnam War, and I've not yet seen anything here by dr.ngo that I'd quibble with.

An observation about a certain kind of online "anonymity," by the way.

"Not being sure who Tac outed...."

Having also missed it, I assumed dr.ngo, although if so, I have to say that a) it's rude to address people by names they're not using in a given context, period, in my book, and b) it's barely "outing" someone if it's a matter of the subject using a nom de interweb that shows another name on the first page when dropped into Google.

It wasn't dr. ngo.

Funny how liberals can criminalize "hate speech", casual conversation in the workplace and various other thought crimes, or discriminate against conservatives,
Find me one survey that shows a majority of "liberals" want to criminalize hate speech, please.

One. Go on. It should be easy to back up such a factual claim.

How about coming up with a single survey that shows that even a quarter of liberals want to criminalize hate speech? Still having trouble? Okay, please find one that shows 15% of liberals want to criminalize hate speech.

I'll wait.

If it's too hard, find cites for surveys showing that liberals want to criminalize "casual conversation in the workplace and various other thought crimes."

I'll still be waiting.

This is serious detachment from reality, DaveC. Real tin foil hat stuff.

"I've not yet seen anything here by dr.ngo that I'd quibble with."

That is, about the Vietnam War.

"It wasn't dr. ngo."

Oh, well, then, Emily Litella.

"liberals" !-> 15% of liberals.

"liberals" -> >1 liberal.

"I've not yet seen anything here by dr.ngo that I'd quibble with."

That is, about the Vietnam War.

Posted by: Gary Farber | November 18, 2005 at 03:00 AM

Distinction acknowledged, and appreciated, Gary.

Thanks to you and all who stood up against "outing" me, even though (1) I'm easily out-able, as you noted, and (2) it turns out it was not I who was outed. (I wasn't sure at first, so I asked.) Civility lives.


About the outing, sorry to have been oblique about it, but if someone is being outed, it seems like a situation analogous to seeing someone's fly open, in that you don't want to make a big fuss. As noted above, it wasn't dr. ngo. Perhaps I should have written the Kitten, but I was hoping that someone from the right would sweep in and point things out. And a pony, I guess.

Be careful, LJ: the era of Peak Pony is at hand!

I'll disagree with bob; if peak oil is this year (which I tend to agree with) we will not be in the middle east militarily ten years from now. We won't be able to afford something so expensive that won't get us any more oil anyway.

Outing folks who choose to blog anonymously is a particular pet peeve of mine. I choose not to reveal my actual name at the moment, and I expect others to respect that, even if they could sniff out my real identity. So I'm not exactly defending the deleted comment, so much as pointing out a mitigating factor:

Finding the poster's name required no detective work beyond a mouse-over.

I am deeply confused about the etiquette of outing the commenter's other handle, which, as best I can tell, was truly anonymous. On the other hand, what is the etiquette of changing your handle, then re-engaging someone with whom you have a long-standing grudge?

If this sort of thing is not appropriate to discuss in the present context, please let me know, and I'll drop it.

Oh, and I would like to reiterate my suggestion that respect for commenters' chosen handles be integrated into the posting rules.

"Finding the poster's name required no detective work beyond a mouse-over."

If so, it's ludicrous to call that an outing. It's flatly not. Absolutely not. In no way. If their name is clearly visible -- hey, it's not concealed! If someone gives their name to you, they're not concealing it.

As I said, I'm dubious that the next step -- calling someone by their full name which you know because when you google the e-mail address, there's their name -- is "outing" someone, either, but I'll go along with not challenging that for a bit yet. But, in general, if someone expects another name of their's not to be used, they have to make some minimal realistic effort to actually conceal it (and it won't work in the long run anyway, so I think people who try this are simply asking to get in real trouble eventually, and are idiots for not realizing it, but that's me, and they'll get to live with their own choices, so I don't believe in "outing" them).

I have a family member facing possible life in prison because some politcian types have seized on this for their own publicity. There was no hate speech, no bad thoughts or intentions, for goodness sakes this guy was a social worker, but for political gain, an accident has now become a murder case.
Dave, I'm very sorry to hear about this, and now that you bring it up again, I recall you're making an equally vague reference in the past. My sympathies go out to your family in this time of trouble. I wish all of you all the best.
Good enough for you?
But, no, of course not. In an argument, you have to supply supporting facts and arguments. If you are incapable of doing so on some topics because of tragedy afflicting your family, that's entirely understandable. And it's entirely understandable that you might end up not making sense, because of whatever it is that's going on that is so terrible and upsetting. And, again, sympathies.

But it doesn't magically make illogic logic, and replace lack of facts. On the sort of claims you've been making, you're raving. I very much hope things get better for you and yours.

"There haven't been anybody thrown in jail for crititcizing US policy, as far as I know."

Without debating the probable cause involved in imprisoning, in fact, thousands of non-citizen immigrants after 9/11, and keeping many imprisoned for months, treating many brutally, before finally releasing them after months, or deporting them for harmless visa violations, it turns out that no one has been arrested for defending the government and Republican politics, either. "Now if there are repercussions in the sense of people disapproving of the critics, well that is true."

Yup. But this is still crazy talk: "Funny how liberals can criminalize 'hate speech', casual conversation in the workplace and various other thought crimes, or discriminate against conservatives...."

"Oh, and I would like to reiterate my suggestion that respect for commenters' chosen handles be integrated into the posting rules."

Seems reasonable.

Or prosecute people on the basis of unknowable and unprovable intentions.

This is what juries, and the high burden of proof, are for. I hope the jury does the right thing by your family member.

Fwiw: the outing involved a name, occupation, and another handle. Personally, I think that the name alone is out of bounds: if someone wants to post anonymously, for whatever reason, that should be respected.

In my case, for instance, I am much less concerned about people here finding out my real life identity, which is easy enough, but with my students finding my entire collected political views when they (inexplicably) google me; it's not a big big deal, but I try to keep my politics and my teaching firmly separate, and having hilzoy come up in a google search would just make it that much harder. Would this ruin my life? No. Do I expect anyone who hasn't read this comment to know that? No. But that's exactly why we should respect anonymity: because we don't know why people have chosen it, and in the absence of that information, outing them is just wrong.

The addition of more personal info, though, made it a lot worse, in my book.

Quoth Gary Farber: But to simply say that news broadcasters and reporters should go out on a given day with a goal of Finding Good News: that's not reporting. That's not finding news. That's doing propaganda.

Of course, for those looking for propaganda, it would also help if the reporters they were attempting to browbeat had real freedom of movement in the country. Too bad it's a warzone; makes it much harder to report how many schools have had billion-dollar paint slapped on them this month and whether the Kurds have opened another McDonald's.

The reporters report what they have access to, more or less. Those complaining about how the "MSM" have been making Bush's excellent adventure look bad will probably need to look to the situation, not to the reporters -- a great many of whom, in any case, spent years being enthusiastic shills for the White House whenever they had the opportunity. (It's never, ever good enough for The Base, of course.)

Dave C: No, it's not a joke. There haven't been anybody thrown in jail for crititcizing US policy, as far as I know.

I thought you meant US policy hadn't had repercussions. Thanks for clearing that up.

Thus far, the PATRIOT Act has been more often misused against Muslims than anyone else, as far as we can tell. But you're right, there's no way it could possibly be used to squelch dissent. You're no doubt better off worrying about whether conservative students are having actual facts about things like the Middle East forced down their unwilling throats by evil pot-smoking liberal professors.

And I'm not questioning the decision to delete the comment or to reprimand the offender. Simple etiquette justifies both. Just mentioning a salient fact that might not be self-evident.

"...if someone wants to post anonymously, for whatever reason, that should be respected."

It's your site, and you should do as you wish, but I think allowing repeated anonymous posting is destructive to conversation. I do feel quite strongly that, alternatively, respecting pseudonymity is highly important.

Is there anyone here in fact regularly posting anonymously, that is, repeatedly using different pseudonymns as a means to be anonymous, and not known pseudonymously? If so, what's the argument for respecting that? I thought I recalled you both naming people for having done that, and having said you disapprove, but I could be all wrong and confused, and having a bad hair day, besides.

"...if someone wants to post anonymously, for whatever reason, that should be respected."

It's your site, and you should do as you wish, but I think allowing repeated anonymous posting is destructive to conversation. I do feel quite strongly that, alternatively, respecting pseudonymity is highly important.

Is there anyone here in fact regularly posting anonymously, that is, repeatedly using different pseudonymns as a means to be anonymous, and not known pseudonymously? If so, what's the argument for respecting that? I thought I recalled you both naming people for having done that, and having said you disapprove, but I could be all wrong and confused, and having a bad hair day, besides.

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