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December 04, 2005

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Does the fact that Aziz and Sooni post on NEBV make any difference? Quite a few Iraqis from the Chicago area, many of whom are Assyrians, had no love lost for Hussein's regime. Now, I realize that hilzoy wants things to work out well, but yes all the criticism and no credit given to our soldiers does work against our resolve. I haven't seen any articles in the Tribune in the past 2 years portraying individual soldiers as heroes, but plenty of comparisons to Nazis, thanks to Dick Durbin. Well no, that is not quite fair, the Editorial Page editors are pretty darn supportive, especially their current series, but that's about it.

Now, I realize that hilzoy wants things to work out well, but yes all the criticism and no credit given to our soldiers does work against our resolve.

This is a false frame, one you should know better than to use. The vast, vast majority of us have nothing but profound respect for our soldiers and what good they have managed to achieve in a bad situation into which they should never have been sent. My criticism is reserved for those who have charged good men with implementing bad policy with insufficient resources.

I haven't seen any articles in the Tribune in the past 2 years portraying individual soldiers as heroes, but plenty of comparisons to Nazis, thanks to Dick Durbin.

Dave, surely you must be unaware that you are misrepresenting what Durbin literally said, let alone what he meant.

I misdoubt that there are any such articles being published by any mainstream news organization. If you are having difficulty with the distinction between a) pointing out how our usage of a given tactic makes us look in a historical context as a method of cautioning that we should not use said tactics and b) saying that US soldiers obeying orders to use a given tactic makes them Nazis, then I can only charitably suggest that you read any of a number of fine posts on the subject by our own Katherine and Hilzoy.

I haven't seen any articles in the Tribune in the past 2 years portraying individual soldiers as heroes, but plenty of comparisons to Nazis, thanks to Dick Durbin.

I'll put money that that's false.

The United States can't really expect to make things perfect before ending its Middle East visit [emphasis added].

Our Middle East visit. How droll. As I recall, the Afghans had a term of derision for the al-Qaeda Arabs that the Taliban termed "guests." They called them "tourists."

Irony is not dead.

It seems to me that a lot of Americans have forgotten that it was you(us) that started this war. To leave the Iraqi's tofinish it would be horendous. It really frightens me that the side of politics that has always been the supporter of all, not just the american, are the ones who have becom comletely self absorbed. How did this happen?

I am a leftie, so I did not meen all the left. but the loudest disenters, the ant-war gang are from the left.

Some of us, Debbie, happen to either think or suspect with growing conviction that our continued presence, in military force, will do more harm than good. I agree that leaving the Iraqis holding the bag after walking in there and tearing their country down would be pretty awful. I do think we owe them continued involvement in their reconstruction to the extent they are willing to accept our help. But the debt we owe them need not consist of continued occupation, if said occupation has a net negative effect on the stability of the country.

This is a principled position. You may or may not agree with it, but it is hardly self-absorbtion by any measure.

I agree Catsy. Sorry did not mean to offend. what I was talking about was the way some anti-war supporters harp at the loss of American lives and completely ignore the number of iraqi dead and wounded. It gives the impression tat an american life is worth more than an iraqi life. The sad thing for me is that I was once a, Michael moore supporter, and he seems to be one of the worst offenders. I thought he caredabout people in general, not any more

Hilzoy,

I don't get your first paragraph. Are you saying that those who are arguing that we should not surrender in Iraq are wrong to say that we can win? Or are you trying to say that the question of what constitutes "will" is nebulous and not at all helpful?

So continuing the stay indefinitely risks losing the welcome."

Risks losing the welcome??? If twon months ago 82% of the Iraqi respondents "strongly oppose" troops being in their country I'd say there is not much welcome to loose.

-n -o ...

Andrew: I'm not sure that I would dignify any of this parody with the term 'argument'. I don't think that people who say that we should not surrender are wrong to say that we should win. (For what it's worth, I think I am just about the only person on the left here who is not convinced we should leave.)

This was for the 'all we need is will' crowd.

Hilzoy, I am not sure you are the only person, as I, I must admit, at times think we should stay, even though I tend to fall into the "it is time to start leaving" bunch.

I realize you are to some degree doing a parody, as I know of noone who thinks will is the only prerequisite to victory, whatever that means.

My objection to some of those who wnat us to "finish the job" is that they equate leaving with surrender. They don't exactly say who we would be surrendering to, although the same people who spoke of "mushroom clouds" say we would be surrendering to the terrorists.

To me, that is a bunch of hogwash. Every day we stay is a victory for the terrorists. They want us to stay so they can continue to use us as a major recruiting tool. And, in truth, maybe if we left, we would be able to use our resources in a fitting manner against the terrorist elements throughout the world.

The question of whether wwe stay or not boils down to one question: Is there a legitimate reason to believe that our continued presence, managed by the people who have created and extended this fiasco, has more than a slim chance of actually bringing about the desired results?

Most of the time, my answer to that questions is "no."

john miller: ... chance of actually bringing about the desired results?

I would expand it:

(a) does our remaining in Iraq enhance or damage our own security, and

(b) does our remaining improve the lives and future of the people of Iraq?

Maybe these two criteria are not in conflict but I think it's worth separating them to emphasize the responsibility we have taken on. Question (b) is not something we can just answer ourselves -- we have to consider what the people of Iraq think. Even though Fafnir and Giblets discovered that Colin Powell had the "pottery barn rule" backwards, I think many of us believe that we have a moral obligation to consider (b) as well as (a).

ral, I do take into account both. And in fact, I put greater weight on (b) than I do on (a). And to expand it even more, does the length of our stay, even if it improves the lives of the Iraqi people up to the point of our departure, increase the likelihood for an increase in chaos once we leave?

And as to what the people of Iraq think, polls commissioned by us would tend to make one think that so far, any improvement has been minimal.

john m: and yet, on this very site, someone has claimed that "success ultimately depends on our will to prevail, nothing more."

...

john m: and yet, on this very site, someone has claimed that "success ultimately depends on our will to prevail, nothing more."

Given that we have the skills and the assets that militarily it takes to win that's really not an inaccurate statement.

OUR succes is completely dependant on our will to follow through.

I think we all know that it is ultimately up to the Iraqi people in the end to choose democracy. But as far as defeating AQ and the Baathist's and providing stability it really is all about our will to prevail.

You are making the person say something they probably didn't intend. Do you think they meant that if you take away our tanks and guns our will can still prevail? You probably don't. You probably understood that there was "some" qualifications on the statement.

Given the state of our military and our politics, ultimately OUR success does depend on our will to prevail. Just as the success of the Iraqis depends on their will to prevail.

I know, and I try to give that individual the benefit of the doubt and read that to mean that without that will, then we cannot succeed, which would be a true statement.

But then, I tend to be a little too lenient on many on that side of the spectrum, having a little bit too much trust in the virtues of the human mind.

Since willpower is all we need to win, it's probably time to call in the Green Lantern corps. Either that or Dale Carnegie.

"OUR" success and success for the Iraqui people are not necessarily the same. And preoccupation with the former and ignoring the latter will NOT lead to success, "will" or no "will".

Creek: Given that we have the skills and the assets that militarily it takes to win that's really not an inaccurate statement.

The question is "do we?" And is this a conflict where the military can provide victory? The easy answer would be yes. But one of the problems with our current administration is that they appear to only look for easy answers.

I know many military people who say that the military is being assigned a job it is not equipped to handle unless the American people are willing to put up with the loss of a lot more innocent Iraqi civilian deaths.

If we unpack the stirring phrase "will to win", we find gradations of will among Americans, don't we?

Let's just take the people here. I don't know how to measure Iraqi will.

John Miller's son (he has been here in name)
definitely has the will to win, plus he has let his father know that the amount of will required to win might be greater than the amount of will currently deployed.

John Miller has the will to win, having deployed his flesh and blood in harm's way.

Creek has the will to win, because he says so.

Then we have me. I'm not sure I have the will to win, because I'd rather maim my kid myself than let him get juiced* in Iraq at the hands of the current U.S. leadership. And, like most Americans apparently, I'm certainly not going to pay more in taxes to finance this deal. In fact, like those at Redstate, I'd rather my son be juiced in Iraq than pay more in taxes. NOw, that's haing your will and eating it, too! Or maybe it's just willful.

And yet I might have the will to nuke whomever needs to be nuked because of my lack of will in other areas.

I might also have the will to throw Dick Cheney out of an airplane over Fallujah (with a parachute). I'm not sure how to judge his will to win, but maybe we throw a camera crew out the door after him to film the proceedings.

Like Truman, if Americans die en masse, I lack the will. But if I can devise a way to make the other guy die en masse instead, then my will returns.

I use the French "en masse" because using an exotic language to discuss big piles of body parts fortifies my otherwise paltry lack of will.

John T, a couple corrections. I did not deploy my son, and if I could have figured out a way without reaping his eternal emnity to keep him from being deployed, I would have done so.

However, do I have the will to win? Yes, I think so, but I also think I have the wisdom to know we cannot win on our current course.

Does my son have the will? When he went there, yes. Now, I don't know. Probably, although I think he also doubts the feasibility under the current leadership.

Do the Iraqis? It would seem the insurgents do, although their definition may be different from ours. It woudl seem the Shiite militias do, although, again, their definition may be different from ours.

Do most of the common Iraqi civilians? I don't think most of them think in terms of winning or losing. They just want to live in some stability, and it might be getting to the point where they don't care what that means in terms of what type of government they have.

I might very much share your will in terms of Cheney and a few others.

John Miller:

I know you didn't deploy your son. And I hope and know he has the will to keep his head down and be smart and brave and survive intact.

And I probably wouldn't have the will to reap my son's eternal enmity if he wished to enlist. Which, in my case only, would be yet another failure of will.

I'm just saying, in my way, that you (through no choice of your own, but to your credit) have wrestled with the ferocious multi-headed beast of will and therefore have earned the right to claim that you at least recognize Will when you see it.

Unlike me. I can't speak for others. But I like parades.

Well, jeez, if BJU said it, must be time to fold the tent. Never mind the loser-defeatist post. There are a few bales of straw being flung around because I don't know of anyone who believes that "all we really need in order to win in Iraq is will and resolve". But it's hard to tell if you really mean that, Hil, what with the waist-deep layer of sarcasm that must be waded through.

Oops, having read the BJU piece a littler more thorougly, the paragraph following Hil's excerpt:

The third possibility would be immediate and complete withdrawal, which it seems is the option preferred by some anti-war protesters like Cindy Sheehan.
They oppose option three, they oppose McCain's plan of sending more troops and are actually in favor of the current Bush plan. Scratch the idea of removing the loser-defeatist post.

A large part of the conservative base are not interested in nation building or creating democracy for others. They are willing to act to destroy what they percieve as threats or to enhance US power.

This has ceased to be their type of war.

Those of us who feel that the willingness to persevere must be one of our options, while admitting that the arguments put forth for withdrawal by General Odom and many other knowledgeable observers, find ourselves drawn towards the later when "staying the course" means see no evil, think only happy thoughts, all will be well except for the double plus ungood media.

We were hopeful when the president admitted that the insurgency was primarily local Sunni, but we want to see acknowledgement of militias, Iranian ties, corruption, crime... all the pressing problems.

The British are making some effort to cleanse militia control of the police in Basra, the US has said it will start launching surpise inspection of Iraqi detention centers and these are at least starts, but it seems to us such things lack the resources and priority they should have.

So how do we mantain faith?

I know, and I try to give that individual the benefit of the doubt and read that to mean that without that will, then we cannot succeed, which would be a true statement.

Thanks for that benefit of a doubt, john, because that is how I meant it. BTW, any periodic updates you might have on your son would be welcome.

Charles,

"There are a few bales of straw being flung around because I don't know of anyone who believes that "all we really need in order to win in Iraq is will and resolve"."

meet Charles (from last month).

"Improvements to our strategy and tactics can surely be made, but success ultimately depends on our will to prevail, nothing more."

Charles, even though I don't agree with you on this issue, I realize that you are not so head-in-the-sand to think will and nothing else will prevail.

Re my son. It looks like he will be home from his tour in about 5-6 weeks. I do not plan on hitting him with a lot of questions right away, but once he is more settled in I will get his views on what is or is not happening over there and share them.

Since CB has decided to appear on this thread, i'll repost what I wrote this morning over at Crooked Timber in a comment on the Assassin's Gate post. (the thread is here.)

"perhaps the pro-war faction can explain what victory was supposed to look like ex ante, and what victory might look like now.

greeting us with flowers is a nice sentiment, but it hardly is a statement regarding the follow-on government.

now, i’ve heard two principal views regarding victory: first, the installation of a pro-west strong central government and second, the installation of a representative democracy.

the fact that these goals might be internally inconsistent—that a representative democracy might choose to align strongly with iran or might choose civil war over a strong central government—doesn’t seem to be much discussed."

Charles: when you first said that victory depended on will, nothing more, I tried an alternate interpretation that was less bizarre (namely: that will wasn't ALL we needed, just all we needed besides such things as materiel and a first-rate army and other things we clearly have.) You told me I was wrong, and since I couldn't figure out, from your comment, what you actually meant, I decided to take you at your word. I apologize if this created a straw man.

creek,
OUR succes is completely dependant on our will to follow through.

Will you ferchristsakes tell us what success is supposed to be? eg is an Iranian client-state a success? You keep going from thread to thread spouting this pap, and whenever you're asked what it means, you either dissemble or just move on to the next thread.

I suspect that the "will to win" rhetoric is nothing more than building the groundwork for blaming others if the Iraqi situation should degenerate into an obvious failure. (such an obvious failure that even saying things like "we should come home because we've pacified Fallujah" won't hide it).
For that purpose, it doesn't matter so much whether or not "will to win" involves our current strategies, or whether it means that our strategies will adapt. Whether will occurs in a vaccuum or is well-supplied with artillery. Because none of this will matter if the situation there turns out well- if Iraq is truly successful, I think we're all going to have to give Bush and the GOP supporters some serious credit. The will-to-win crowd will have all the I-told-you-sos they want, without having to cite a "no end but victory" stance now. After all, they supported the war in the first place.
"No end but victory" is, ironically, all about failure. More specifically, it's all about ass-covering. "No end but avoiding responsibility for a war we initially supported" would be a more-apt slogan for that crew.

What's scary to me is thinking that the pro-war crowd wouldn't be so publicly and obviously getting on the not-our-fault bandwagon if *they* didn't believe that the situation was already a lost cause.

I suspect that the "will to win" rhetoric is nothing more than building the groundwork for blaming others if the Iraqi situation should degenerate into an obvious failure.

QFE. Carleton hits the nail squarely on the head.

The worse Iraq becomes and the more the American public sours on the war, the more we will see this particular kind of right-wing mendacity as an attempt to give "why we lost Vietnam" retreads new life in the fiasco they've created for themselves this time around.

Carlton: " if Iraq is truly successful, I think we're all going to have to give Bush and the GOP supporters some serious credit."

I still won't. There are some things this country should not do, and invade another country which is not a threat to us or others without international support is one of those.

This country should not be a "the ends justify the means" type of country.

Going to war was wrong, and having a positive outcome does not change that.

It will be a decade before we realize how totally screwed up we are.

Hey, just like Vietnam!

John,
You're right. I should've said something like:
If Iraq is truly successful, those who opposed the war on practical grounds (eg expected difficulties during reconstruction) will have to give Bush and the GOP supporters some serious credit.
If (at the time) I thought that Iraq could've been turned into a stable, pluralistic democracy, I'd've had to seriously consider whether or not to support the invasion. Since I thought that this was a very unlikely outcome, I didn't have to work through the moral calculus...
And, if Iraq does become a stable, pluralistic democracy, then I was mistaken.

That's another regrettable facet of the "no end but victory" crew- their expressed thinking allows for no possibility whatsoever that they were mistaken in their initial judgement to go to war.

Given that we have the skills and the assets that militarily it takes to win that's really not an inaccurate statement.

Well, yes, I suppose you could make a desert and call it peace...

Kudos to Carleton! I also recomend to those who may have missed it your last couple of posts in the intelectual integrity watch thread. I think that last one raises some issues which would not be out of place on the front page.

"meet Charles (from last month).

"Improvements to our strategy and tactics can surely be made, but success ultimately depends on our will to prevail, nothing more.""

Posted by: Dantheman


I know that it's not fair, but it is certainly just:

"BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!"

The mendacity if breathtaking, isn't it?

"(For what it's worth, I think I am just about the only person on the left here who is not convinced we should leave.)"

I'm not clear what "here" means, nor "we should leave," but if it means, say, voting for the Murtha bill, as I've noted both on this blog and elsewhere, I wouldn't have.

Oh, and Charles: if you're expecting any sort of correction made in a blog comment somewhere (or fifty blog comments) to ever, ever, ever, catch up to something said in a blog post, well, a) that will never happen; and b) I'll give you credit for surely understanding that. So if a matter concerns you, I'm sure you know the only practical thing you can do about it. Otherwise, blog posts are on one's "permanent record" until corrected. It's not very different from an error in a page one newspaper story not being "corrected" by a note on page 23 days later.

(Of course, it's possible you'll never notice this comment, admidst the many, which would also make my point.)

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