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March 22, 2006

Comments

I hope SOME party is the party of definitely won't.

We don't need more troops. We need more brains in use. We don't need fighter bombers that can double as x wing fighters - we need A10s. We don't need more nuclear carriers, we need more better personnel carriers, and so on.

Listen, the only thing a bigger army would do is lead leaders normally less foolish the Bush to use it. And using our Army has proved itself to be a chancy thing.

Iraq was not an issue. The Army would be FINE had we not invaded Iraq.

But we did, you say, and now we have other issues we need to address. Well, we don't have other issues the Army could help us address, that's for DAMN sure.

You get no more guns, Sebastian. Not you, not Von, not CB, not OCSteve. All you guys wanna do is go shoot somebody with 'em.

Personally, if it is true that our current quagmire, Iraq, hamstrings our plans for a future quagmire in Iran, I am glad.

Troops are NOT the answer. Nor is airpower. Diplomacy and money will go further than guns and bombs.

And if the day comes that we literally have no choice, then we will make that last choice, between action and no action, knowing that we exhausted all other possibilities.

This is not WWII and OBL is not Hitler. There are other solutions to the problem of relgious (and non-religious) extremism. Solutions that $250 billion and counting would have gone a LONG way to implement.

Jake

I'd note that my impression is that the larger stick of more troops is obtainable by better cooperation with the rest of the international community. That this limits the use of the stick should be considered a feature rather than a bug.

I'd also wonder about the possibility of raising more troops given stories like this

Besides bringing antibiotics and painkillers, military personnel nationwide are heading back to Iraq with a cache of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

The psychotropic drugs are a bow to a little-discussed truth fraught with implications: Mentally ill service members are being returned to combat.

Sebastian, even if we ignore the fact that you acknowledge your plan is unworkable, impossible and nonviable, I'm not at all sure we could hire 150,000 soldiers for a 15-year deployment in Iraq.

For one thing, would those be the same 150,000 for all 15 years?

If so, where are you going to find 150,000 people who are able and willing to be on active combat duty for 15 years? Are you advocating recruiting mercenaries? Are you advocating recruiting mercenaries from countries besides the US?

What rate of pay would they get, and what benefits? You say you're willing to raise taxes to pay for it all; are you also willing to raise taxes to pay for things like lifelong health benefits (physical and mental), survivor benefits, pension, housing, etc.? Because 15 years is essentially a career. The skills needed to survive 15 years of active combat duty don't translate very well to the civilian job market - esp. if the soldier is wounded badly enough that s/he can't find a good job in the civilian sector.

If you're not suggesting an entire 15-year hitch, how long would the hitch last? Let's say each soldier signs up for 6 years (the current length of service, I think). Your plan would then call for hiring 375,000 soldiers. What kind of budget are we talking about now? For basic pay, combat pay, and the whole array of benefits mentioned above? How much are you willing to raise taxes, and how much of the non-military budget are you willing to see eliminated altogether, to pay for it all?

Are you advocating creating a permanent, professional, at-least-quasi-mercenary military corp? What do we do with them when there aren't any major wars to fight?

Or are you predicting that, in the 21st Century, we'll constantly be at war with somebody? What kind of country are you predicting we'll be, if we're always at war with somebody? Esp. if that constant state of war also means the President will continue to have those extra-legal (I'm being charitable here) powers the Bush Administration claims for Bush? Are you advocating that as well?

Wasn't India considering sending troops, before deciding against it because the US wouldn't reliquish any command control?

I don't know what bribes, promises, or grovelling it would take for other countries to send troops. Maybe Bush has already made proffers that were rebuffed (maybe the recent recognition of India as a nuclear power was part of some deal in that direction); maybe he's still gambling that he doesn't have to offer much.

Obviously, most countries aren't going to leap at the opportunity. Maybe they're also waiting for the US to give up and withdraw in the face of a civil war, whereupon an international coalition can move in under the UN aegis; maybe they're waiting for the results of the 2006 US elections or for Bush to be impeached or who knows what.

But if matters go as bad as they very possibly will, a disintegrating Iraq would be an invitation to every oil-rich country in the neighborhood to do stupid and destructive things, which begins to concern many states' national interests.

Anyway, what I'm suggesting is that Sebastian's extra troops needn't necessarily come from the US, if we can improve our diplomacy.

Aaaand, one of the major obstacles to that is that widespread whitehot outrage that our treatment of detainees has sparked among most of our potential allies' populations. I don't exactly know what would diffuse that outrage to make joining with the US in such a perilous venture at this late date less politically devastating. Firing Rumsfeld seems too little.

"You're aware that they're aware that there's a war on, right? And this has not exactly been an incentive for folks to sign up; recruiting has been decimated by the war precisely because kids approached by recruiters know they're effectively signing up for Iraq, and there's precious little enthusiasm for that right now."

Yes I am, and I think you severely underestimate the recruiting potential of $10,000 a year more per person. Much less $15,000 or $20,000. (And if we need to raise taxes by about $10.74 to pay for that I'm all for it). And considering the very low casualty rate of US forces in Iraq (I believe we are at 2319 killed and 17004 reported wounded over 3 years. I can't find up the date troop levels, but for most of the 3 year period we were over 150,000 and I think we might be just under 100,000 right now. For argument purposes I'm going to use 100,000 but using a higher number would have made the argument even better. On a per year basis that makes a (very rough) chance of getting killed or injured (I'm presuming that killed is not included in injured, but if I'm wrong that makes the number better for my argument) of about 6% and a chance of getting killed at about 0.8%. There are quite a few people who would take that 0.8% risk. (I think lots of people, especially young people discount to zero any risk at or below 1%. Also your talk of "the most recruitable prospects already joined up" almost certainly discounts those who come of age to join in the next year. That number is well in the millions. Just 1% of them would put us in the 50,000 range assuming that no other person joined.

So where does that leave me? With a party that probably won't do the right thing by authorizing many more troops and the party that definetly won't.

"probably won't" is a serious overbid, Sebastian. Neither party is going to do what you want.

You say there is "no general consensus among Democrats that we should expand the military." Is there such a consensus among Republicans? And of those who may claim to favor it in the abstract, how many are willing to pay the very substantial costs? Without seriousness about that the rest is empty rhetoric.

"I'd note that my impression is that the larger stick of more troops is obtainable by better cooperation with the rest of the international community."

I think you are almost certainly wrong. Example 1: last three years of the Sudan. Even now talk of NATO troops seem to be just talk.


"For one thing, would those be the same 150,000 for all 15 years?"

Almost certainly not. Recruitment goes on over years.

"How much are you willing to raise taxes, and how much of the non-military budget are you willing to see eliminated altogether, to pay for it all?

Are you advocating creating a permanent, professional, at-least-quasi-mercenary military corp? What do we do with them when there aren't any major wars to fight?"

How much am I willing to pay in taxes for this kind of thing? A lot. How much of the non-military budget am I willing to forgo? Remember you are talking to a real small government conservative here. :)

Am I advocating a semi-permanent professional military corp. Yes. I'm saying we should go back to the staffing levels of the 1980s. That wasn't so awful. We don't need as many expensive fighter planes for the upcoming wars either which should allay some fears of the "military industrial complex". This isn't about industrial, this is about people.

Sebastian, the argument can be made that more troops will increase not only absolute casualties, but the casualty rate as well. More opportunities to shoot Americans = more Americans shot. Or bombed. Not to mention that we seem to be shooting quite a number of civilians. How many civilians must we shoot before it simply becomes too many?

Your 15 years is probably right. In fact, it may be short by 10 years or so - a generation may need to pass before a democracy can be imposed.

But if the Iraqi's choose it for themselves, it could happen much more quickly.

We've got to get out of the way. The Iraqis have to make this happen. WE CAN'T DO IT FOR THEM.

Jake

Sebastian, I'm not sure if your latest post was in answer to my question about whether those 150,000 extra soldiers would be signing up for the whole 15-year presence you advocated, but I'll assume your projection of "50,000 per year" - presumably, every year? - is in fact a reply. Which means it would take 3 years to get to your 150,000 target.

Oh, but you've also reduced your preferred troop total to 100,000. Which would be, what, a total of 200,000 troops in Iraq at all times for the next 15 years, starting 3 years from now? Is that an accurate summary of your Plan for Iraq?

Where did you get that "$10.74" in increased taxes per person to pay for the extra 50,000 per year? What does that pay for, the singing bonus? the entire salary? the health, housing, education, and other benefits? Does "$10.74" pay for all that?

You suggest a constant 200,000 troop strength in Iraq for the next 15 years. What do you suggest doing if military action is needed elsewhere in the world during the next 15 years?

"You say there is "no general consensus among Democrats that we should expand the military." Is there such a consensus among Republicans?"

No there isn't a consensus among the legislators of either party. But the Democrats are a definite 'no'. Republicans are at least open to the concept.

"Neither party is going to do what you want."

Almost certainly right. But you don't get to 'there' from 'here' without advocating what you think is right. Which, by the way, speaks precisely to my criticism of Democrats and foreign policy. If the Democratic Party really wants to follow a Murth-style policy they should back it, and repeatedly bring it to vote. They should talk about it. They should publically push it. Democrats have a problem being taken seriously on foreign policy. That isn't going to change by pretending that foreign policy shouldn't be talked about until after you win. You won't be running against Bush in 2008. Hell, if things go poorly, you could have both sides running against Bush.

"Which means it would take 3 years to get to your 150,000 target."

You assume that only people coming of age will be available. That is almost certainly wrong.

"Oh, but you've also reduced your preferred troop total to 100,000. Which would be, what, a total of 200,000 troops in Iraq at all times for the next 15 years, starting 3 years from now?"

No, as soon as possible. We need to intensify things with more troops NOW and SOON so that things can be better LATER. Which is why I am critical of the fact that we hadn't authorized more troops earlier. And why I certainly don't think waiting until a new president comes around before beginning (almost 3 years from now)to raise troop levels is a good idea.

"You suggest a constant 200,000 troop strength in Iraq for the next 15 years. What do you suggest doing if military action is needed elsewhere in the world during the next 15 years?"

See above. I seriously doubt we will need 200,000 troops for the full 15 years. And the reason you need so many more troops is so you can do rotations and/or deal with other issues. I forsee a commitment of at least 15 years--that isn't the same as a commitment of 200,000 for 15 years. See for example Germany (we could clearly bring troop levels down now if we wanted to). See also South Korea--especially since the South Korean people are ambivalent enough about our presence to spark near constant protests.

I think you severely underestimate the recruiting potential of $10,000 a year more per person. Much less $15,000 or $20,000. (And if we need to raise taxes by about $10.74 to pay for that I'm all for it).

This, on the other hand, is a serious underbid. You don't just pay soldiers. You recruit them, train them, equip them, feed them, give the wounded medical care, provide various veterans benefits, etc. And these are just the out-of-pocket costs associated with adding 150,000 soldiers.

Yes I am, and I think you severely underestimate the recruiting potential of $10,000 a year more per person.

I think you severely underestimate how much this war has crippled the military's recruiting goals. The parents and students who have been trying to drive off military recruiters over the last year really don't care about the thousands of troops who haven't been killed, injured, or maimed; they're only worried about the ones who have been. And the 17,000 that the DOD includes as injured doesn't include psychological damage; it certainly doesn't include those who've lost their jobs or who've seen their marriages fall apart.

And do you honestly think the promise of extra pay is going to bring in that many more recruits - and keep bringing them in, for an extra decade and a half, no less! - after this administration has spent the last five years cutting veteran's benefits, survivor's benefits and hazard pay, after repeated stop loss orders have kept troops in the field long after they were supposed to go home, after recruiters have been caught lying to students? People generally aren't willing to depend on known liars and con men for their paychecks, any more than they're willing to sign up for a war without end.

Sebastian: the reason I brought up the length of time is just that I don't think that starting to recruit now is a solution to the problems we face now. If we face the same problems in 2-3 years, it might be. But that leaves open, and unanswered, the question: given the army as it exists, what should we do now?

It's not at all clear to me that "staying the course" with this army, and ramping up for a larger one to be available in a few years, is the best solution. Nor do I think that we could significantly raise our troop levels (during those 2-3 years before the new troops are ready) for more than a short period of time without doing even more damage to the army.

It involves 150,000 more troops and probably being there 15 years minimum.

This war is only costing us $5.9">http://Anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/t/"http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114178357697392103-wmwqGr8_o7NNV14PE2mtbONUR1w_20070307.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top">$5.9 billion a month according to the WSJ, where do you expect to get the money to continue this foolishness for another 15 years? Where do you expect to find a 150,000">http://Anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/t/"http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/jun2005/mili-j01.shtml">150,000 ">http://Anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/t/"http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4563881"> more troops with out starting a draft?

Most sane people will not go anywhere near the military at the present time, who wants to die, be wounded, physically or emotionaly be crippled for life?

Playing Risk is fun, but it should not be confused with real life. So when will you be joining the Army?

I have a seven year old boy, I have no intention of sending him to Iraq a decade from now.


As far as Iran goes, they have not violated the NPT (I">http://Anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/t/"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Non-Proliferation_Treaty">I am not sure the same can be said about us), so why do you want to start a war with them? Have we not done enough damage to the poor people of Iran by overthrowing">http://Anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/t/"http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB28/">overthrowing Mossadeq and giving the SAVAK,">http://Anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/t/"http://www.fas.org/irp/world/iran/savak/">SAVAK, not to mention backing">http://Anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/t/"http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/arming_iraq.php">backing Saddam in the eighties during the Iraq-Iran">http://Anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/t/"http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat2.htm#Iran-Iraq">Iraq-Iran War.

"I have a seven year old boy, I have no intention of sending him to Iraq a decade from now."

Do you think more than 1% of children do other than the wishes of their parents at age 18?

"Playing Risk is fun, but it should not be confused with real life. So when will you be joining the Army?"

Ah, you sound like just the kind of parent likely to have a rebellious son who joins the Army. I'll be happy to engage you later if you want to talk.

Alonzo, all of your links is belong to the bit bucket, apparently. Something went wrong, somewhere.

"You assume that only people coming of age will be available. That is almost certainly wrong."

Who else did you have in mind? People with jobs and families to support?

Or is your idea a "two-fer," where the people who can't find good jobs get to sign up to go to Iraq for 3-6 years, thus solving the recruitment problem and the Bush Economy problem?

"We need to intensify things with more troops NOW and SOON so that things can be better LATER. Which is why I am critical of the fact that we hadn't authorized more troops earlier. And why I certainly don't think waiting until a new president comes around before beginning (almost 3 years from now)to raise troop levels is a good idea."

Who is in power now that could implement your plan? Have you written to the President, to your Representatives and Senators, suggesting the plan? Why not contact the RNC and suggest they do a campaign ad based on your plan?

"I seriously doubt we will need 200,000 troops for the full 15 years."

Then please clarify what you meant when you said:"It involves 150,000 more troops and probably being there 15 years minimum."

How long will we need 150,000 more troops there? What change in Iraq do you foresee happening to lessen the need for US troop strength? Do you support a military attack on Iran? What effect would a military attack on Iran have on Iraq, and on our forces there?

And you still haven't said what that "$10.74" per person pays for.

"Then please clarify what you meant when you said:"It involves 150,000 more troops and probably being there 15 years minimum.""

It involves 150,000 more troops as soon as we can get them, and probably being there with an undefined number of troops for 15 years minimum based on further need. (See for example Japan, South Korea, Germany).

$10.74 is the cost of the "raise" for new recruits. If you wish to guess that the total costs are ten times that of the raise per year (which would surprise me greatly) I would still be happy to pay $107.40 per person in new taxes per year. I would also be willing to cut quite a bit in other spending even without a war on as a matter of personal political philosophy. Since the initial question "How much are you willing to raise taxes, and how much of the non-military budget are you willing to see eliminated altogether, to pay for it all?" is in the form suggesting that my commitment to raising taxes for the war is not enough, I'm going to consider it settled that I am and move on unless there are further objections.

Ah, you sound like just the kind of parent likely to have a rebellious son who joins the Army.

Ah, you sound like just the kind of guy who can't wait to send other people's kids to wars in which you aren't willing to fight in.

SH wrote: Republicans are at least open to the concept [of expanding the military].

hogwash. if that statement were true, then the army would in fact be growing.

to be more specific, there are no political constraints whatsoever right now on the Republican party authorizing an annual end-strength of the Army of 1 million soldiers. Deficits, as Cheney said, don't matter, the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, and the Democratic party wouldn't stand in the way.

the problem, SH, is that you refuse to recognize that your party will never fight this war in the way you believe it needs to be fought. [it appears that there is disagreement by the professionals with SH's idea that money alone will induce enough quality soldiers to join up to form a 1MM man army.) So you can either suck it up and support your president and your party, or join the loyal opposition.

given the lack of political will to double the size of the army, it seems to me that loyal republicans are faced with a hard question. What leads to the worse long-term outcome: continuing with the force we have and praying [really hard!] for a non-disasterous outcome; or declare victory and withdraw to Kuwait?

"the problem, SH, is that you refuse to recognize that your party will never fight this war in the way you believe it needs to be fought. [it appears that there is disagreement by the professionals with SH's idea that money alone will induce enough quality soldiers to join up to form a 1MM man army.) So you can either suck it up and support your president and your party, or join the loyal opposition."

Most of the disagreement is with respect to the reserves. It is perfectly obvious why joining the reserves right now doesn't make sense.... you know you are going if you join so it isn't the maybe/maybe not deal of the 1980s. Which is precisely why we need a larger main force--so we aren't relying on the reserves for forseeable needs. The reserves should be for unforseen immediate needs.

As for "So you can either suck it up and support your president and your party, or join the loyal opposition." what does joining the loyal opposition get me? Democrats won't tell me what their foreign policy will look like. Advice from upthread is that the ought not tell me. So why would I choose them?

Republicans and especially Republican Congressmen and members of the Administration should absolutely be criticized on those grounds.

But like so many issues, the Democrats on average are positively worse. There is certainly no general consensus among Democrats that we should expand the military.

I'm behind here because there have been a bunch of comments while I've been (again) involuntarily unconscious for the last few hours, but what seems weird to me here is that Republicans show no one iota more sign of being for adding 150,000 more troops to the Army than Democrats do, or even of desiring to add 50,000 troops, and they're in power.

There's just no sign of such a movement. The administration isn't remotely for it. Not at all. Not a bit. Not even a teeny, tiny, bit. In fact, they want to cut the National Guard.

And there's no movement in the Senate or House for Republicans to favor even a third of the expansion of the Army that you favor (whether it's an objectively good idea is another question; there's at least a fair argument for it, certainly). Not at all.

So how on earth would it be legitimate to criticize Democrats for not being for this idea?

I mean, sure, don't give them credit for not proposing an alternative the Republicans aren't proposing, either, obviously, but it's certainly not more problematic of the Democrats, should one stipulate that your idea is the way to go.

" mean, sure, don't give them credit for not proposing an alternative the Republicans aren't proposing, either, obviously, but it's certainly not more problematic of the Democrats, should one stipulate that your idea is the way to go."

Who said more. It is being used as proof that I ought to vote for Democrats that the Republicans aren't doing what I want.

I don't think Sebastian's choice is between the party that probably won't do the right thing (expand the Army) and the party that definately won't
I think his choice is between the party that will certainly lie about its decisions and thier consequences and the party that probably won't.
Neither party will increase the size of the military.
Since the best indcator of future behavior is past behavior i think the Republicans will continue to focus o spin ad message control, focus on maintaining the illusion of winning and continue to wing it day to day with little or no real interest in the actual status of things i Iraq.
It is ironic because probably both parties would do pretty much the same thing i terms of actual actions in Iraq: incremental withdrawals, some to home, some to areas outside Iraq. The Democrats wpuld probably organize the withdrawals more copetetly and avoid torture and other faux pas. I would ot expect the Democrats to be intersted i permenent bases there and I think the Republicans are stiull in hopes of that but otherwise incrementl withdrawl is the most likely real plan from both sides.
The difference is that the Republicans will lie about it and the Democrats won't. The Republicans wil lie because the way the war plays out here is more iportant to them than how it plays out there.

"No there isn't a consensus among the legislators of either party. But the Democrats are a definite 'no'. Republicans are at least open to the concept."

They are? Where's the evidence for that?

I do at least think that the notion of of recruiting an Army that side isn't particularly undoable, although how problematic or not or precisely expensive it's apt to be, I don't know. And I do think the questions as to whether it's wise or not, and the point that a huger fighting establishment like that will certainly make it somewhat more tempting to use it (which you favor), and whether that's a grand idea, overall, setting Iraq aside, is a highly debatable notion that would deserve a huge public debate -- you may favor it because, say, you favor then being able to also invade and occupy Syria or Iran or somesuch, but whether those would be good ideas are obviously terribly important questions and I, for one, think the notion would be, at the very least, immensely debatable, and myself I think they'd be terrible ideas, for a variety of reasons (only one is the way it would push the rest of the world, including many who might otherwise be inclined to be our allies, or at least neutralish towards us, to regard us as truly a threat, not the sort of "trustworthy" powers neo-con theory once advocated we were going to be seen as in the post-cold-war period).

Every time Don Quizote, or Alonzo, or any other idiot demands to know when someone specifically is going to join the Army, I'll ask that person when he is going to fly to Iraq and throw himself into protecting Iraqis; obviously he can't be for helping Iraqis if he isn't willing to put himself on the line that way, after all. If Alonzo isn't in Iraq, obviously he doesn't care. (Jeebus, what a moronic fixation!)


Every time Don Quizote, or Alonzo, or any other idiot demands to know when someone specifically is going to join the Army,

Gary, I don't think that Alonzo's statement was as bald as that and if it is Don, I think his newest interation has been remarkably restrained. Invoking the ghost of past statements (without actually quoting them) and then suggesting that it is a 'moronic fixation' is close to a posting rules violation, imo.

"Invoking the ghost of past statements (without actually quoting them) and then suggesting that it is a 'moronic fixation' is close to a posting rules violation, imo."

Okay. Rephrase: I think that the whole "chickenhawk"/"you must join the military if you favor using it" argument is idiotic, and at the very least can't be reasonably made without fulfilling your own side of it if it is to be held as correct. Thus, if you hold to such a theory, and oppose a specific war, you must equally demonstrate your opposition by equally putting your own life in jeopardy, or obviously you are as hypocritical as those you accuse of hypocrisy.

Eliding to GF's essence:

"Every time any idiot demands to know when someone specifically is going to join the Army...Jeebus, what a moronic fixation!"

I'm with Gary 100%.

I don't completely disagree with your point, but the question of who fights is one which came up in Vietnam and one that, if Sebastian's plan were to come about (though I don't see how it could and pointing out what a small portion of the population it is doesn't make it more plausible), would surface, so I think it's fair to wonder about it. I think it is a feature of moral ethics to not propose to do something that one isn't willing to do oneself, and if there is a large disconnect in this aspect, some hypocrisy can be assumed. However, I am unable to look into my soul and know exactly what I would do, so I certainly can't raise it.

However, assuming that Alonzo is Don, he said that he was a Marine who had served in Lebanon during the Reagan era. The notion of Nixon going to China might apply here, especially since we have James Webb running as a Democratic candidate in VA, a recently retired general (Eaton) write a scorching editorial for the NYTimes, and Larry Wilkerson. I'm sure you are aware of these, so I forgo the links here.

I certainly admit, it's a touchy subject, but simply ruling it out of bounds and saying it can't be discussed, especially when it is argued that the problem is perhaps totally solvable by more boots on the ground, seems problematic. It also seems problematic from the standpoint that more troops (presumably quickly trained) would have the cultural sensitivity and the mental flexibility to have Iraq take the course that the admin has imagined it would, especially if the criticisms of Ben Griffin are at all true. Putting more men into a situation where the moral lines seem to be so poorly drawn cannot be considered an appropriate strategy.

Gary, I think your logic bus has gone driven off the cliff here - I oppose the war because I don't want anyone in harms way, including Iraqis. Chickenhawks appear to front the war as long as it is someone else who is in harms way. It is not the opposite of the "chickenhawks must enlist" coin to say that those who oppose the war must go put their lives in jeopardy.

Jake

Rephrase: I think that the whole "chickenhawk"/"you must join the military if you favor using it" argument is idiotic, and at the very least can't be reasonably made without fulfilling your own side of it if it is to be held as correct. Thus, if you hold to such a theory, and oppose a specific war, you must equally demonstrate your opposition by equally putting your own life in jeopardy, or obviously you are as hypocritical as those you accuse of hypocrisy.

whaaattt ????

Leadership is not asking other people to do what you are not willing to do yourself. If you are not willing to do it yourself and lead by example, what leads you to believe that others will be willing to go into the meat grinder?

Sending Jenna & not Jenna, the various Bush nephews to Iraq would do more for the war effort than all of Bush's speeches.

It's called leadership by example!

LJ,
Alonzo never went to Lebanon, he missed that delightful experience due to the fact that is enlistment time was up, but he did get a special invitation to stick around and visit the place due to his linguistic skills. He turned it down, four years as 0311 was plenty.

Every time Don Quizote, or Alonzo, or any other idiot demands to know when someone specifically is going to join the Army

I'm not with Gary here, fond of him as I am. Sebastian believes that many more troops and much more money over a period of many more years is absolutely vital to our success in Iraq. Yet, as vital to our national interest as Sebastian seems to think success in Iraq is, and as much as he's willing to pay other people to fight, he isn't willing to put his own life on the line. Now that unwillingness doesn't mean Sebastian can't express his opinion--and it doesn't even mean his opinion is invalid--(it doesn't, I hasten to add, even make Sebastian a "bad" person) but it does cast a certain light on his opinion. Sebastian believes that success in Iraq is important enough to restructure the American military--and possibly the American government--but not important enough for him to sacrifice personally, beyond, say, an extra 11.00 per annum in taxes. Make of that what you will, but to me that makes Sebastian's opinions sound profoundly unserious.

Thanks for the correction, I seem to remember that you knew some of the Marines who died in the 83 Beirut barracks bombing?

I'll stick up for you, Alonzo, but only as long as you close your tags. And don't invoke the Bush twins. ;^)

Thanks for the correction, I seem to remember that you knew some of the Marines who died in the 83 Beirut barracks bombing?

One, went to boot camp with Alonzo. Must have reenlisted.

latest post from Zeyad:

Please don’t ask me whether I believe Iraq is on the verge of civil war yet or not. I have never experienced a civil war before, only regular ones. All I see is that both sides are engaged in tit-for-tat lynchings and summary executions. I see governmental forces openly taking sides or stepping aside. I see an occupation force that is clueless about what is going on in the country. I see politicians that distrust each other and continue to flame the situation for their own personal interests. I see Islamic clerics delivering fiery sermons against each other, then smile and hug each other at the end of the day in staged PR stunts. I see the country breaking into pieces. The frontlines between different districts of Baghdad are already clearly demarked and ready for the battle. I was stopped in my own neighbourhood yesterday by a watch team and questioned where I live and what I was doing in that area. I see other people curiously staring in each other’s faces on the street. I see hundreds of people disappearing in the middle of the night and their corpses surfacing next day with electric drill holes in them. I see people blown up to smithereens because a brainwashed virgin seeker targeted a crowded market or café. I see all that and more.

Don’t you dare chastise me for writing about what I see in my country.

"More troops" strikes me as the appearance of fixing this more than fixing this. Though God knows it'd be good to have troops available.

Khalizad seems more competent than any of his predecessors. It may be too late. It probably is too late. I don't know how we know for sure. I think we probably should be in a position to credibly threaten to leave if they don't get their act together and form a unity government. I don't think Bush can do that or will do that. I don't think Congress could make him either. Congress only has very blunt instruments at its disposal here. I don't know what people expect from the Democrats. Even a President couldn't magically fix this through A Plan you could describe months in advance--what do you think Nancy Pelosi is going to do in control of the house?

The only thing I'm not at all vague on is that I want the Bayn Jabar the hell out of the Interior Ministry, as soon as possible.

"I certainly admit, it's a touchy subject, but simply ruling it out of bounds and saying it can't be discussed,"

I don't. I just think having a childish mantra of "you can't favor military acts without being willing to fight yourself" is a) simple-minded; and b) fundamentally anti-democratic.

In a democracy, we vote in favor of and in opposition to all sorts of things we don't personally engage in; we don't look askance at that as a general case, and there's no reason we should; there's nothing whatever hypocritical about this.

Alonzo: "It's called leadership by example!"

Sure, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's simply not mandatory to legimitately favoring a policy, and suggestions or declarations that it is is wrong.

"I would be far more impressed with the views of anyone who favors war if they were willing to risk their own life or those of their family members" is an utterly legitimate point; suggesting that if one isn't so willing, that one's policy must be wrong, or that the person must be a hypocrite, is not.

"Gary, I think your logic bus has gone driven off the cliff here - I oppose the war because I don't want anyone in harms way, including Iraqis."

I think, in retrospect, that the war was a bad idea. But to suggest that if it hadn't happened, no one would have been in harms way is missing an entirely crucial point.

As I've pointed out endlessly ever since long before the war, there was no moral choice that was free, no moral choice as to a policy that didn't lead to people suffering and dying tragically.

I now agree that the war was a mistake. But not having it certainly would not have lead to no one being in harms way, specifically Iraqis. Remember when the debate was about the tragic harm to Iraqis of sanctions?

Arguing as if war was the only choice with suffering is to discuss only half the argument. It wasn't a choice between war and puppies and kite-flying.

It wasn't a choice between war and puppies and kite-flying.

Gary, you're certainly right in the aggregate. But we don't live in the aggregate. Specific individuals have died as a result of the war who would very likely not have died had there been no war. Wars are much more random, in terms of dealing out harm, than brutal dictatorships. And obviously, few if any of the US military deaths/injuries would have occurred.

I'm late to the conversation, and only a short-timer, so I hope I'm not repeating anyone when I say that I look forward to the President's presentation of the SH plan for victory. Because at least it is an attempt at winning, and an attempt to be honest about what that means. Rather than just a bit of pandering and sloganeering, which seems to be the current Admin strategy.

What I'm not looking forward to -- but know I will hear -- is about how I (and others like me -- not in power, and didn't vote for the people who are in power) am somehow responsible because the Admin hasn't (a) fought the war many supporters thought should have been fought and (b) has fought the war it did decide to fight badly. The war SH, von, and CB want to fight is not now, and never has been on the menu. The only war on the menu is the one we've had for 3 years, including what it is ineluctibly folding into. Do you guys want that war -- the one we'll have -- or do you think disengagement, on our terms, is maybe more in our interests?

That's the only choice we get.

Mr. Holsclaw:

Kerry's "we should expand the military but never send any more people to Iraq" idea was profoundly strange.
Posted March 23, 2006 at 05:15 PM

Ever since you first brought this up months ago, I have struggled to understand why you thought it more reasonable to vote for someone who says there is no need to increase the size of the Armed Forces than to vote for someone who wants to make the increase but not deploy the troops as you feel necessary.

In either case, to get more troops into Iraq would require that the president change his mind. Given that, which option would get the troops to Iraq more quickly?

A) the troops are available but must be redeployed

B) the troops must be recruited, trained, and then deployed

Even assuming that Bush would see the necessity for more troops sooner than Kerry (a highly questionable assumption, IMO) the second option would surely take far more time.


"I would be far more impressed with the views of anyone who favors war if they were willing to risk their own life or those of their family members."

I live in San Diego--near where the Marines train. I've had friends die in the war. The idea that I don't feel any of the pain of sending people off to war just makes me so angry. I feel it. I know it. There is a person I will never see alive again because of it.

Sebastian: As for "So you can either suck it up and support your president and your party, or join the loyal opposition." what does joining the loyal opposition get me? Democrats won't tell me what their foreign policy will look like. Advice from upthread is that the ought not tell me. So why would I choose them?

Because you've claimed for quite some time now to be opposed to torture. Your claim to be opposed to torture looks hypocritical if you continue to loyally support a pro-torture President and administration.

Advice from upthread is that the ought not tell me. So why would I choose them?

I guess this is referring to me. My point isn't that they ought not to tell you, it is that it is impossible for them to set out their foreign policy in a way that would permit reasoned debate given the established tendencies of the Republican party as well as the fact that a foreign policy (towards Iran, which was your example) made absent full information would be foolhardy at best. This is quite different from saying 'they ought not to tell me'.

It occurs to me that had Kerry won, Republicans in Congress, and other supporters of a more serious war effort, might have an easier time arguing for increases in troop strength. They wouldn't be stuck in one of those classic GWB 'too big to fail' dilemmas. And who can say whether given a united Rep party, the full noise machine, enough Dems who don't want to be on the wrong end of 'who lost Iraq' and a pretty narrow mandate after all, it might not have worked.

As it is, of course, no Dem need be on the wrong end of the WLI stick: win or lose, this is the President's show. He doesn't watch polls, and isn't affected by the media: he's fighting this thing his way, all the way. Certainly no Dem in Congress has prevented the Pres from having anything he wants or needs to prevail in Iraq.

You know, the US has a different electoral system than Germany. We don't vote for parties. We vote for individuals. SH doesn't have to worry about whether or not Howard Dean, or Hillary Clinton, have articulated visions for how the Iraq thing ought to be wound down. He can choose between Congresswoman Davis (for example) and whoever is running against her this fall. If (assuming he's her constituent -- it's not a random choice, but one with insufficient information) he wants to know her position, he may be able to get it from her. He can do the same with Diane Feinstein.

Obviously, SH (and anyone else) can complain about the positions my congressman takes. If they don't live here, though, I'm not sure how much he ought to care, or even how much I want him to care.

"I would be far more impressed with the views of anyone who favors war if they were willing to risk their own life or those of their family members" is an utterly legitimate point; suggesting that if one isn't so willing, that one's policy must be wrong, or that the person must be a hypocrite, is not.

I would not call such a person a hypocrite. I have another word in mind and it starts with the letter c.

Actually, just talking for myself, it's perfectly all right by me if SH never votes for a Democrat in his life, so whoever it is who's trying to convince him should stop. It does appear that keeping him happy would involve bombing Iran, so it's all to the good.

I thought this Albright LATimes op-ed was remarkably on target. The three suggestions she offered were

The first is to understand that although we all want to "end tyranny in this world," that is a fantasy unless we begin to solve hard problems. Iraq is increasingly a gang war that can be solved in one of two ways: by one side imposing its will or by all the legitimate players having a piece of the power. The U.S. is no longer able to control events in Iraq, but it can be useful as a referee.

Second, the Bush administration should disavow any plan for regime change in Iran — not because the regime should not be changed but because U.S. endorsement of that goal only makes it less likely. In today's warped political environment, nothing strengthens a radical government more than Washington's overt antagonism. It also is common sense to presume that Iran will be less willing to cooperate in Iraq and to compromise on nuclear issues if it is being threatened with destruction. As for Iran's choleric and anti-Semitic new president, he will be swallowed up by internal rivals if he is not unwittingly propped up by external foes.

Third, the administration must stop playing solitaire while Middle East and Persian Gulf leaders play poker. Bush's "march of freedom" is not the big story in the Muslim world, where Shiite Muslims suddenly have more power than they have had in 1,000 years; it is not the big story in Lebanon, where Iran is filling the vacuum left by Syria; it is not the story among Palestinians, who voted — in Western eyes — freely, and wrongly; it is not even the big story in Iraq, where the top three factions in the recent elections were all supported by decidedly undemocratic militias.

The entity currently known as Alonzo Quijano is now banned. That he's Don Q is no longer in doubt. Sneaking back in and pretending he hadn't been banished previously I can overlook; failure to learn from said banishments just gets you banished again.

He didn't do anything explicitly wrong, but he was on that path. And I did tell him to behave.

Write the kitty if you feel you've been wronged, Alonzo, or (more likely) sneak in under new addresses that will get added to the banned list. Or, better yet, get your own blog and say whatever you please there.

And a thread is up at HoCB on banning in particular and general.

I think the "chickhawk" charge is more acceptable if the target is arguing, as some war supporters do, that the war is to prevent an existential threat to the country.

Whether it's fallacy or not: should that depend on context?

"Sneaking back in and pretending he hadn't been banished previously I can overlook; failure to learn from said banishments just gets you banished again."

I'd still like to know what the terms of banishment are: what's the length of time for it? Does it vary, and if so, by what criteria?

You guys should spend more time listening to what the Pentagon is saying and less time reading the NYT or whatever forms the basis of the conventional wisdom on this blog. Because their predictions have pretty much been born out by events. They cannot predict the level of violence by the insurgency. But just because someone sets off a bomb does not mean that all is lost.

The administration's plan is working.

Iraqis are taking over battle space and bases. If they would get off their asses and form a government, things would improve rapidly.

My two cents for whatever its worth.

"I think the 'chickhawk' charge is more acceptable if the target is arguing, as some war supporters do, that the war is to prevent an existential threat to the country."

I don't follow the logic here, I'm afraid. Care to unpack it?

He didn't do anything explicitly wrong, but he was on that path. And I did tell him to behave.

It's a good thing you can read my mind and predict the future.

Why worry about the Dems? This is a volunteer army. That doesn't mean an army that can be treated like toy soldiers by an addled exec branch. Squeeze recruitment. Every 18 to 25 year old who is tempted to join the army at the moment should be snowed with anti-recruitment propaganda. When there are no more refreshments for this obvious disaster, the White House will have to bring the troops home. And to build up the army again, we might have to return to the constitution, which never envisioned a passive, corrupt congress passing warmaking power to an executive branch that abuses it like George III with his hessian mercenaries.
Squeeze the army to death, and the rest will follow.

It's a good thing you can read my mind and predict the future.

Yes, it's scary how good I am at both of those things.

$10.74 is the cost of the "raise" for new recruits. If you wish to guess that the total costs are ten times that of the raise per year (which would surprise me greatly) I would still be happy to pay $107.40 per person in new taxes per year. I would also be willing to cut quite a bit in other spending even without a war on as a matter of personal political philosophy. Since the initial question "How much are you willing to raise taxes, and how much of the non-military budget are you willing to see eliminated altogether, to pay for it all?" is in the form suggesting that my commitment to raising taxes for the war is not enough, I'm going to consider it settled that I am and move on unless there are further objections.

Ahem. Pardon me.

Yes, $20,000 times 150,000 soldiers leads to something over $10/year per American. But first of all you don't just give the raise to the new recruits. You give it to everyone. Second, when calculating the cost of the new recruits you don't just count how big a raise they get, you count their total pay. So this $10.74, or even $107.40, is considerably off the mark.

We are spending somewhere between $70 and $100 billion a year on the war. It's probably on the high end of that, but call it $75 billion. Adding 150,000 troops seems likely to double that number, so you are talking about adding over $250/person, $1000 for a family of four, to the tab. And it's not clear that that covers costs of caring for disabled veterans, among other things.

And again, these are out-of-pocket costs. They do not reflect the impact on the economy of the war, which is substantial even if you do not accept all the Stiglitz/Bilmes calculations.

Now, you may be happy to accept the needed tax increase, but the bigger that number the less realistic your hopes.

I'd still like to know what the terms of banishment are: what's the length of time for it? Does it vary, and if so, by what criteria?

"How long a time lies in one little word!"

I think folks on both sides of the debate in the US continually confuse Iraq with a minor strategic mishap in South East Asia 40 years ago.

The US has an open ended commitment to the Persian Gulf, this is a very serious area of national interest, that's why the fifth fleet lives there. It also has a sentimental attachment to Israel.

The Iraq war has disastrously shifted the balance of power in the region towards Tehran. We are looking at not just a likely civil war and the fragmentation of Iraq but a possible regional war around the Persian Gulf. The occupation has been a fairly gentle constabulary operation but still was enough to run the all volunteer land army ragged, what's coming may be overwhelming.

If the worst happens the US will have to draft a new 500,000 man land army to protect its energy interests beyond Iraq. Every significant military on the planet will be there too as oil sky rockets and trashes their economies. We will be calling this war WWIII.

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