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December 12, 2005

Comments

I remain hopeful that a functioning democracy can take root in Iraq over the next decade or so. But, make no mistake, it will take massive American involvement to get us to that still so elusive finish line.

That sounds expensive.

You know, I don't really expect a man with the business acumen of Bush--who's been bailed out of one failed venture after another--to comprehend the concept of throwing good money after bad. But I would expect better of a lot of the "more, more" crowd who should and do know better. I would expect a realist like Kissinger--a monster to whom I am no friend, but still a realist--to understand this.

At what point are we capable of acknowledging that our presence in force in Iraq is part of the problem, not the solution--and that throwing more money, more lives, and more will at the situation will make that worse, not better?

The 'more, more, more' argument was very compelling in early 2003, when CRITICS of the war were the ones shouting it.

I think it can be argued that the long-term damage done to the Iraqi rebuilding effort by 'War on the cheap' has been done, and all we can really do at this point is keep it from getting worse.

I'd rather spend the ten years of Iraq money on rebuilding New Orleans. There will be more to show for it at the end.

That'd be nice, Tim, considering that Bush seems to have entirely forgotten about his promises to that region.

So, Von, you'd rather break the back of our Army, putting the U.S. - itself - at grave risk rather than pull our troops out of Iraq?

Amazing that you are willing to sacrifice our country for your dreams.

Pray tell, Von: When are you going to either a) volonteer for Iraq yourself or b) call for a draft?

Oh, and anyone comparing Bosnia to Iraq is quite mad.

Building a democratic Iraq is going to have to start with the security forces. What a pity that their security forces seem intent on torturing other Iraqis, and that the same people condoning this in the ministry are likely to be returned to the positions in this week's election.

We are so far from our goals, and moving farther from them, that it seems pretty hopeless. Arguing that we need more troops and a new strategy is a complete waste of time. It might be an interesting theoretical exercise, but it bears no resemblance to reality.

We went to war with the political leadership that we have. That leadership is not going to revisit its strategy. Arguing that we need more troops is doubly futile, since we don't have the troops to send even if the administration wanted to.

Belgravia's position is disconnected from the world as it exists. If you can't articulate a strategy that does not rely upon more troops, you are just twiddling your thumbs.

I wonder which Shia political faction is going to want to take some credit for driving out the great American occupier (aka The Great Satan in most religious Shia circles)…I’m sure many of them would hate the credit to go to some Sunni religious fanatics and Godless Ba’athists.

The Shia have militias who want some of that macho credit. I know Neocons love to believe that Bush I started the hatred, but I assure you that Iranian and Iraqi hatred goes much deeper.

I suppose that since we're out of troops and probably very soon money, we could build on the example of the Peace Corps and start a War Corps, where the hopelessly dedicated to the Iraq war could volunteer a year of their time to their cause. They could be supported by selling Iraq war bonds to the public.

Can we please have an Iraq thread without questioning anyone's patriotism or making chickenhawk allusions?

The more, more, more school assumes that "progress" is being made, and therefore a greater application of American resources will enhance that progress.

Sorry, Pollyanna, but it isn't so. And more faith-based warmaking advocated by Belgravia is not going to change realities.

Iraq consists of a simmering civil war of Sunni and Shia that neither elections nor American presence will alter. All our presence is doing is keeping the two sides moderately separated, and keeping Sunni insurgents under cover for now. That's a good thing, but a greater troop presence does absolutely nothing to solve the political dilemma of Shia vs. Sunni. The political dilemma fuels the insurgency, and will not be cured by more troops to suppress an insurgency. You can't successfully suppress an insurgency when it has such huge margins of support in the Sunni areas.

Iraq consists of a separatist Kurdish camp that grows stronger every day and expects to take Kirkuk with it. This can only destabilize the region further (since none of the regional players seem willing to accept long-term Kurdish independence).

Iraq consists of political control predominantly by Shia religious parties, and the rise of an Iran-lite government dominanting the south.

"More, more, more" is not going to change any of these political trends one iota -- the Belgravia post is a bunch of nonsense.

Even if the Repubs were going to ask for a draft, which they won't, it's too late, isn't it? You wouldn't see any manpower for years.

1) Do not underestimate the Sunni. The "formidable" Shia militias are without officers, chains-of-command, discipline, or training. They would be routed, and they know it. If you don't think leadership and discipline are important, well, will you go die for GWB?
2) Sadr is the only one developing anything close to an army, and Sadr is slap-dab between the Sunni and Hakim. The Sunni actually care more for Sadr than Hakim and the Iranians. I do not think the Iranians care enough about Iraq to expend resources or take risks. They never have.
3) So if Americans draw down to 100k troops, I think it can be maintained at the status quo or better for a decade or more. All Americans have to do is maintain a balance of power in Iraq until the factions tire of dying. It will not be pretty, and may look like Lebanon. Has Lebanon been so bad?
4) Caveats: I do not think Sistani or the others will really demand withdrawal, but it is possible. And I do not know if American politics will make staying the course impossible.

In a vacuum, I think the 'more, more, more' argument is correct. The virility of the insurgency is caused in part by the wack-a-mole strategy that is forced by insufficient forces on the ground.

However, Hal has a good point in that there simply aren't more troops to give (or at least won't be for very long).

Dmbeaster, assuming you are correct, what do you propose? (Is full scale civil war between Shia and Sunni a good thing from the standpoint of our own self-interest?) That we shouldn't have gotten involved in the first place (at least with the half-assed plan we had) is self-evident. But what now?

I agree with Catsy that it would be nice to have a thread about this w/o that patriotism/chickenhawk bull.

Now, I don't want to beat up on von, but what is proposed here is why I supported attacking Afghanistan, under the idea that we would look to creating a functioning democracy there. Given that it hasn't happened over there, it seems foolish to argue for it ever happening in Iraq and attempts to do so are more cover for maintaining a philosophical position than holding to a stance that actually has a chance of happening. Which, I should add, is not an occurence that deserves dire punishment, as I am sure that everyone has positions they hold on the world that are highly unlikely to ever occur. (I mean, Hilzoy has stated agreement with von on the question of withdrawals, so that is obviously correct :^)) However, it does give cover to an administration that is intent on avoiding any sort of hard decisions. That seems problematic to me.

And by 'obviously correct', I mean that the position of worrying about the ramifications of a sudden drawdown is correct, not that Hilzoy holds positions that never have a chance of occuring.

According to Murtha this would have been a bad idea. It would have just made us bigger targets.

Right. So all we have to do is create:
a) an efficient, loyal, unified Arab army
b) a functioning Arab democracy.

The last man to manage a) was the Prophet Mohammed.
No one in history has ever managed b).

Not saying it's necessarily impossible. Just pointing out that, historically, the odds aren't great.

But ajay, this time it's different: we're Americans. Clap harder!

Seriously, the problem is a little more complicated than you suggest, in that the Kurds are not Arabs.

The last man to manage a) was the Prophet Mohammed.

Bush as Mohammed, now there's an image!

On the topic of withdrawing or not, this Barry Posen essay presents the opposite view quite well

via Oxblog

Dmbeaster, assuming you are correct, what do you propose? (Is full scale civil war between Shia and Sunni a good thing from the standpoint of our own self-interest?) That we shouldn't have gotten involved in the first place (at least with the half-assed plan we had) is self-evident. But what now?

Reducing the American presence and do what little we can to lessen the violence between Shia and Sunni as they seek a long term political accommodation with one another. Our physical presence is not doing this - only putting off the day of reckoning, although it hopefully may also provide a buffer time so that a political solution can take hold. However, so far what has been happening is Sunni political exclusion and Shia ascendency -- US troops are dying to further this Shia agenda of oppressing the Sunni, and committing more troops now will simply further that perverse result.

The primary driving force behind this potential civil war (and the current insurgency) is Sunni fears of being marginalized by majority Shia rule, and Shia willingness to oppress Sunnis as revenge, payback or simply cashing in their own chips for once. The only real leverage the US has left is reconstruction aid (misused to date since its been primarily about rewarding American companies for political gain in the US), or a threat to re-intervene in controling the government should the Shia get carried away (and this threat is probably no longer credible). I have yet to hear anyone propose a workable solution to the primary political problems (Shia v. Sunni), so I am at a loss to figure out what else can be done that makes a lot of sense. Plenty has already been written about how the Bremer political plan actually implemented by the Bush administration only served to exacerbate the Shia vs. Sunni problem; that the current Constitution served to increase the problem rather than lessen it.

The real point is to realize that sometimes boundless American optomism and resources simply cannot make a problem better, and may actually be part of the problem. The "more, more, more" strategy indulges this fallacy.

The other big problem we have in trying to figure out what to do is the bogus debate maintained by Bush, et al., that continues to exploit this struggle for partisan political gain. Bush prefers to label the Iraq conflict as a war on terrorists, which is a deliberately phony manipulation of the issue to cover his huge failings to date, and a lack of a coherent plan going forward. 90% of the struggle in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism, but rather the Shia/Sunni struggle (and the Kurdish separatist angle -- now on the back burner but certain to be along term problem). And the failed efforts to date have only fanned the forces of terrorism, rather than abating it, which will thrive in a destabilized environment coupled with American occupation.

Von, here is what I don't understand:

According to your comments in earlier posts, I'm assuming that you are a practicing lawyer, an adult keeping up with a profession. You have to deal with conflicts, you have to meet and defeat opponents in the field of - well, the court.

But here, you don't seem to recognize that Bush blew it, back in 2003. It might have been salvageable, but Bush then spent another year or so refusing to face reality - assuming that he's now facing reality, which I doubt.

If somebody filed an unadvisable lawsuit, and then blew off all advice on what to do if they did file, and then spent the next year denying reality and screwing up like crazy, what position would they be in?

What dmbeaster said. Ot to put it in terms the "MBA administration" should understand, if you're proposing a project that takes massive investment and long construction times you better have a comprehensive plan that shows schedules, costs, and where the ROI comes from, or you do not ever do it. If Djerejian thinks it's possible, let's see his plan (or somebody's plan).

As an aside, where did the idea ever come from that it is impossible for Americans to screw something up so badly that it cannot ever be unscrewed? The phrase "Don't throw good money after bad" has a long history.

"Seriously, the problem is a little more complicated than you suggest, in that the Kurds are not Arabs."

I point out that the two problems in Iraq have a) not been solved since the seventh century and b) never been solved in recorded history, and you accuse me of de-emphasising how much of a mess we're in? Hmmph.

Actually, I regard the Kurds as an advantage. If our only problem was to make a modern Kurdish army and democracy, we'd be fine.

Isn't the whole economy of Kurdistan based on illicit smuggling?

The independent political parties of Kurdistan are warning against the kleptocracy the current regime is operating.

2/3 of the whole country wants us out and we need to send more in? Iraq isn't a child and we surely are not the parent who knows better.

Iraq is headed for civil war no matter how much we spend and how long we stay. The country has been only held together by an iron fist. A democracy should never be in the iron fist business.

More troops would accomplish what exactly?

I thnk the point where they would have been a positive is long past, like about 2 years past.

This enterprise became doomed in the first few months of the occupation when we didn't have enough troops to stop rioting and looting, when we didn't have enough troops to guard munition sites, when we didn't have enough troops to safeguard the borders, when we didn't have enough troops to guard the oil pipelines, when we didn't have enough troops to protect reconstruction workers.

More troops now would appear tio the Iraqis and most people in the Middle East as a confirmation that we intend to remain occupiers. It doesn't matter if that would be true or not, although there is enough reason to think that Bush intends exactly that.

We had more than enough troops to win the initial military conflict. But we have never had enough troops to win the peace, and it is too late now to think more troops would make a difference.

Many Sunni leaders have expressed a willingness to start negotiations that may (emphasis on the word may)slow down the insurgency. All they ask is some sort of a timetable for withdrawal of troops. There is no reason not to give them something in the way of a timetable, with the understanding that certain things have to happen to make that timetable viable. And there is certainly no reason for our government not to say to the Iraqi people that we have no plans to maintain any military presence long term in Iraq other than the normal Marine guards at the embassy.

I am sick of Bush continuing to say that our leaving would be a victory for ther terrorists and we don't want to hand Iraq over to al Qaida. There is no way this would happen. At worst, the terrorists may have a couple small areas they would operate out of, but even that is unlikely.

Our presence is a victory for the radical terrorists. We cannot win a victory over terrorism by being in Iraq.

I point out that the two problems in Iraq have a) not been solved since the seventh century and b) never been solved in recorded history, and you accuse me of de-emphasising how much of a mess we're in?

Yep.

Until people explain where "more" is going to come from, saying "more more more" sounds rather hollow. "Hoping for better recruitment" isn't a plan, any more than "hoping the war gets better" was a plan. So what this really amounts to is a call for a draft - but I don't see the D-word being actually spoken here.

I might actually support a call for a draft if it came with ironclad protections against exemptions of the sort that let so many of our current leaders wiggle out. If they knew that their children would be at precisely the risks they avoided and were still willing to support it, then I'd have to look really seriously at it. Likewise, I'd have to treat very seriously a full and honest budget that accounted in public detail for proposed costs and actual expenses, and came with provisions for independent auditing and penalties with teeth for incompetence and corruption.

But none of this is forthcoming.

Bush made it clear that he didn't wish to discuss or negotiate anything. His supporters call people like me loser-defeatists, collaborators, objectively pro-Saddam, and more. Fine. Show me a plan an adult can take seriously, and I'll give it an adult's appraisal. But you don't get to make a mess and demand that the rest of us explain to you how to clean it up, not when we were telling you at the time not to make the mess. And you certainly don't get it without some apology and demonstrated repentence.

Get me a serious administration, and I'll deal seriously with them.

Mr. Baugh:

If we have a draft, the best thing is to chose those individuals uner 55 with useful skills. Obviously this includes the elites, people who can build and manage things and learn foreign languages. And for this kind of war you want individuals in their mid twenties who have developed some of the patience and understanding that comes with age.

So for example for infantry you would probably want as a crude screening individuals over 23 making at least $60,000 a year as a rudimentary test of competence. Those who didn't make infantry could be put into support positions. Basically you want a minimum IQ of about 115.

As for success and failure we simply lack benchmarks. Some things are veery, very depressing. When the Baghdad morgue reports 8,000 dead this year, most of them gun shots, when Steve Vincent claims 2,000 a year kiklled by Shiite militias in Baghdad, and we don't have any estimates elsewhere. We don't have an idea of how many phantom Iraqi troops are on rolls, the degree of corruption, how many clinics lack medicine.

But even these problems are documented then many can be reduced. In theory. I don't know how bad the situation has gotten. But the president has started admitting realities such as the fact that the insurgency is primarily local and that progress has been quite uneven.

We need to start pushing for specifics to evaluate the situation.


Belgravia's essay spoke of creating a democracy in the mideast as the most important thing we could accomplish. I truly believe that she/he (I haven't read enough to know which, and it doesn't matter) and many other war supporters see this as the linchpin of future Amercan policy in the area. What I don't understand how it was ok to say we would never to to war to do nation building, totally play down those aspects of the war when convincing the Amercian public to support the war, and then decide it is the reason we should stay. There is an intellectual dishonesty in that position that baffles me.

It's as if they are saying, "we pre-emptive war supporters recognize that the public will not support what we want to do, what we believe is necessary, so we will dissemble about the reasons for invading Iraq, and then when it is too late, we will do what we feel needs to be done." IOW, those who DON'T want war are too dumb to be allowed to partipate in policy. With few exceptions, our elected leadership certainly toed that line.

I never understood why the war supporters didn't object to the lies, why they continue to support the administration, even to the extent of finding excuses for hte lies. I have decided that it is because they belived the war was the right thing to do BEFORE the President decided to go into Iraq. So, in one sense, the lies were told in their behalf. And they are ok with that, just as they are largely ok with torture. They have pre-emptively decided that all detainees are terrorists and torture is ok for terrorists. No further discussion is required, and why don't we (the we that thinks torture is bad) understand that, already?

I doubt there is a thinking human being in America who believes that a functioning democracy in Iraq would not be a good thing, whether or not they are our best buds. The key remains, how do we get there? I think it is incumbent upon the administration to have a plan, and the plan given so far is totally inadequate, not just in information content, but in effectiveness. Is simply staying the course going to be the best we could do for Iraq? What are it's chances of success? Are there alternatives that have a higher liklihood of success?

This is the kind of discussion that we need to see, and which is totally lacking. I think it unlikely we will see it, either.

Jake

Has Lebanon been so bad?

Ask Israel. Or any of the many Lebanese that have fled the country. But I admit that I'm pretty iffy on withdrawl.

Jake: "What I don't understand how it was ok to say we would never to to war to do nation building, totally play down those aspects of the war when convincing the Amercian public to support the war, and then decide it is the reason we should stay. There is an intellectual dishonesty in that position that baffles me."

Jake, it's because, aside from a few deluded True Believers, nobody was for this war for democracy. Bush, Cheney & Co don't like democracy in the US, let alone for third-worlders. The Religious Right doesn't like democracy, because it allows for error. Big Business doesn't like democracy, because a cooperative dictator or oligarchy is far more pofitable. The 'remake the Middle East' guys had specific designs for the Middle East, which included support for whatever the US wanted, cheap oil, and support for whatever Israel wanted. That's not something that democracy would deliver.

The many people in the US who were scared by 9/11 and wanted to hit back at anybody, didn't care about democracy - they wanted to assauge their fear. The people who wanted to hit Iraq to support the GOP didn't want democracy; they wanted the power which would come from being the guys in charge during a war.

It was afterwards, when there were no WMD's, and no Al Qaeda ties, that these guys started looking at the 'small print' of the administration's speeches, looking for any hooks that they could get.

To echo the comment: It's all bloody well to say "more, more, more" but we don't have any more to GIVE. There ISN'T any more. There's no time to make more, either.

"More, more, more" made sense two or three years ago when we had time to draft troops, train them, equip them and deploy them.

It doesn't make sense now, unless you have a magical military manpower tree, or the ability to pull combat brigades out a bodily orifice.

Stop pretending to cold-eyed realism. Or even rational optimism.

You've just chosen to bury your head in a different pile of sand. The end result is the same.

The best way to douse a raging fire is pouring gasoline on it!

And if it doesn’t work the first…that just means you didn’t pour enough gasoline.

See…just keep pouring gasoline and eventually the fire will give up!

Can someone please show me one bit of evidence, other than rhetoric, that demonstrates that the US’s goal for Iraq is creating a democracy there? What would the response of the US be if the first thing a “democratically” elected Iraqi government did was to tell US forces to leave and then refused to sell the US any of their oil?

Why do we insist that a nation’s form of government is a function of choice and will? This, and the belief in the universality of democracy, is entirely ahistorical in that it dismisses all the factors of geography, ethnicity, economics, ideology, etc. that contribute to the formulation of the particular governments of nations.

Does the imposition of the US form of government on other nations as the best available type sound at all familiar to what we accused the Soviets of attempting for over forty years?

Almost all the talk, here and elsewhere, is what is best for the US, not what is best for the Iraqis. Fine, but then why do we mention democracy so much?

-“I remain hopeful that a functioning democracy can take root in Iraq over the next decade or so. But, make no mistake, it will take massive American involvement to get us to that still so elusive finish line.”

-“We are so far from our goals, and moving farther from them, that it seems pretty hopeless.”

-“Actually, I regard the Kurds as an advantage. If our only problem was to make a modern Kurdish army and democracy, we'd be fine.”

-“I doubt there is a thinking human being in America who believes that a functioning democracy in Iraq would not be a good thing . . .”

What’s with the language here? What are we talking about, democracy or US interests?

Jake,

Your second paragraph nails it. What you suggest is precisely the viewpoint adopted. If you read or listen to what the neocons (or any of the other heirs of Hamilton) say about this, you know that your quoted remark is a close paraphrase. And they use the word “democracy” only to designate what side one is on.

-“I never understood why the war supporters didn't object to the lies, why they continue to support the administration, even to the extent of finding excuses for hte lies.”

Because the truth is for suckers. Or, what are lies in the face of the kind of power and money that are at stake here?

Otto, the pres said we leave if asked. Well, we were asked for a timetable, and we didn't do that, so I am not sure we'd leave either. But I think it unlikely we'll be asked soon, unless Moqtada is the new leader - I forget, is the new leader going to be termed a prime minister or the pres? Anyway, whatever the title, he has no trust worthy army, and it is likely to mean instant civil war if the US leaves too soon. Which it might anyway, unless we are talking the far distant future. Say 15 to 20 years.

Which, frankly, I'd be ok with. As long as the Iraqi's pay the frieght and we only lose soldiers occasionally and mostly to vehicle accidents On, and no draft. Now, if we can do all that, I don't really care if we go. I just don't think that's going to happen any time soon - or ever.

At least that would be an actual plan instead of the wishful thinking we've been fed so far.

Jake

Great post Von. Not only did you jab a stick into the hornets nest, you inflamed their misinformed passions by attempting to out-Bush Bush. More, more, more Von, we love you.

I am sick of Bush continuing to say that our leaving would be a victory for ther terrorists and we don't want to hand Iraq over to al Qaida. There is no way this would happen. At worst, the terrorists may have a couple small areas they would operate out of, but even that is unlikely.

Our presence is a victory for the radical terrorists. We cannot win a victory over terrorism by being in Iraq.

I find this statement hard to dispute...and yet, a withdrawal now would almost certainly be seen as a victory for Al Qaeda - whether its objectively true or not. Momentum is a purely psychological thing, but that doesn't make it less real.

What is clear is that we face a Hobson's choice, due to either mistaken policies or poor implentation (or a LOT of both), so while 'staying the course' or whatever BS banner Fox News puts up is a 'bad' option, we have to at least address the possibility that leaving now/in 6 months would be worse. Let me put this hypothetical to you - our troops pull out Jan 1, Iraq descends into a lawless 3 way civil war - a failed state in the extreme. Does this provide a breeding ground for the discontent of which terrorists are made? Will it be difficult to turn that anger against us?

As far as the 'gasoline on the fire' rhetoric, there is undoubtedly some truth to that. However, my intuition is that the average Iraqi (much like the average American) doesn't really give a rip about who's in charge as long as they can run their little corner store (or coffee shop, or auto-garage or whatever) without either being blown up or snatched up by the secret police. If we start to provide real, physical, security, and further the impression that we are doing so, this could strike a double blow against the insurgents. First, there base of support will erode, less recruits, less material. Second, the populous can be a valuable source of information on the locations and activites of the remaining insurgents.

Is the above plausible? Certainly, given the right leadership and a little patience. The question is at what cost, and I don't know that answer, but it's a question worth asking.

That being said, due to the lack of proper leadership, our patience has been largely used up. Which gets us right back to where we started I suppose.

-“Well, we were asked for a timetable, and we didn't do that, so I am not sure we'd leave either.”

Indeed.

No exit strategy, no timetable, no picture of what victory will look like (the vague generalizations and circular logic of the recent “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” don’t count and are quite clearly meant only for domestic political consumption), widely varying and euphemistic predictions about the duration of our stay (e.g. “[W]e will remain in Iraq as long as necessary . . .” blah, blah, blah), the construction of US military bases in Iraq, the long-term threat to US interests posed by China and Iran, etc.

Why do we criticize the administration for not having an exit strategy, as if leaving were part of their goal? Why do we take the administration’s explanations at face value and allow them to shape the debate and define the terms, in spite of the evidence to the contrary such as indicated above? Do we have such an ideological aversion to the US as imperial power/occupier that anything that suggests such is ignored by so many on both sides of the political spectrum? As far as I can tell from everything I’ve read and heard from them, the administration is not, nor ever has, planned on leaving Iraq – a puppet government compliant to US interests with sufficient military force to quash dissenters interested in nationalizing resources and markets notwithstanding. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck . . .

don’t count and are quite clearly meant only for domestic political consumption

Don't discount the export market.

Slarti- In order for there to be an export market people have to be willing to buy.

I don't see any evidence that anyone outside the US buys their bs.

In fact now that I think of it all the payments are going the other way.

We pay people to pretend to take our bs seriously.

you inflamed their misinformed passions

funny. i've always associated the "you just don't the real story" line with the wacko tin-foil left, the D.U. gang, etc..

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

-Benjamin Franklin

Don't discount the export market.

There's an export market for fatuous American political rhetoric? Who's buying?

Von, Please ignore all suggestions that you sign up for the Iraq mission.

While such a move might be admirable to some and satifying to others who believe that a little hypocrisy (your critics' opinion of you, not mine) can be cured by oozing shrapnel wounds, I like you just the way you are, fully intact, alive, articulate, amusing, and even wrong sometimes.

Besides, if folks believe they will be decreasing the amount of hypocrisy in the world by subjecting you to danger, they should know that humans are born every day, thereby naturally keeping the supply of hypocrisy at high levels, and that combat veterans, despite their other fine traits, can exhibit exorbitant amounts of hypocrisy in all other areas of life.

Also, losing you in Iraq would have been one less vote for John Kerry, which some folks always forget.

Now, Dick Cheney is another case. Hypocrisy is the least of his curable problems. Still, the problem with losing him Iraq is that we would miss the lengthy and entertaining trial.

Neodude wondered: which Shia political faction is going to want to take some credit for driving out the great American occupier ...I’m sure many of them would hate the credit to go to some Sunni religious fanatics and Godless Ba’athists.

If the Shia factions win the election tomorrow, then forestalling the Sunni credit for driving out the occupiers is within their power: They can, as the sovereign government, ask us to get out. Or, no matter who wins, a vast majority of factions can probably agree on the 'occupiers out' request.

As I hope they will, since most U.S. political leaders are unwilling to face facts and take responsibility for the inevitable withdrawal.

Hezbollah’s rise to prominence and reputation came because of the perception that they drove the Israelis out.

Hezbollah is primarily a creation of Najaf, with Tehran’s support.

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