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September 11, 2006

Comments

Therefore we are going to have to find a way to at least interdict the insurgency's ability to supply itself via Anbar province.

You know, that's a really long border with Syria, isn't it?

It may even be that by the time the next provincial elections roll around in Anbar, the insurgencies, and Sunni Islamists, will be domesticated enough to take meaningful part. Containment isn't as exciting as 'drive your enemies before you and hear the lamentation of their women' but it might actually work.

Andrew: when I saw that you were writing about this story, you have no idea how much I hoped that you were about to point out some devastating flaw in the report that had escaped those of us without actual military training.

About the supply issue: Anderson is right, it's a long border. Plus, I don't know whether this is still true, but my understanding was that the insurgency didn't need a lot of the supplies a normal insurgency would need, since the entire country was full of ammunition dumps, many of which we left unguarded.

Still our failure to even try to secure most of the border has always been one of those things that makes me say: I know I don't know anything about strategy and all that, but surely this is a mistake. Lack of troops, I imagine.

Thanks for the post -- it's good, though depressing.

hilzoy,

I haven't read the report, so I have no way of knowing if it contains a flaw. I wouldn't bet on my knowledge against a Colonel who is trained in intelligence, though.

Yes, it's a long border, but I think interdiction is the best option we have, and it's not necessary to lay down a line of men in the sand to disrupt the supply lines. I can't speak to what the insurgency requires, but from what I have read, they are not self-contained enough that a disruption in their supplies wouldn't hurt them.

But for Me, It's Monday

I can only suppose that you are alluding to the Sunni apocalyptic belief that the world will end on Tuesday.

If only I were so learned. But I only learned of that belief from your post, so that wasn't the inspiration for the title.

It's the last line of "Garfield's Two-Minute Hate."

All this is dependent, however, on our ability to bring the Iraqi army up to speed, and on the assumption the Iraqi army will serve as a truly Iraqi force, rather than an ethnic force.

Is there any reason to believe, at all, that the Iraqi army will not be plagued with the same ethnic tensions that wrack the country?

Would the Sunnis in the government tolerate a predominantly Shia force invading Anbar? Would the Sunnis in the army take such punitive action on behalf of the majority Shia government?

There is no realistic possibility that the Iraqi army will try to quell Anbar.

I agree with your assessment that sending in more US troops in unlikely to help much (unless its half a million), and also that it is a very bad thing for the long term success in fighting insurgents.

The loss of Anbar basically reflects a de facto partitioning of the country along ethnic lines.

Rather than having the Iraqi army take action, I would imagine that the Iraqi solution to the problem would be to grant the poor souls in that impoverished portion of the country some degree of autonomy, and allow the insurgents a place in the local and national government. Heck -- they might even put the insurgents in the army, like the other militias.

I would certainly not expect the Iraqis to continue US policies -- it goes against their self-interest.

can we just leave Iraq now?

put another way, is there any substantial evidence that further US training of the Iraq Army will do any good?

mmm, cross-posted with dmbeaster. my apologies.

The only real solution to Anbar is one that the Maliki government seems to be working towards, namely a negotiated settlement. Given that the best result for the insurgency at this point is the Unrecognized Rump State of Anbar and that quelling Anbar is going to be close to impossible for the IG, it's in the best interests of everyone but Al Qaeda to actually work something out.

Oh, that above was me, not the Andrew commenting at 8:46 P.M.

I'm no military expert but I've been studying this stuff since 2002.

Here's my two cents: Col. Devlin is right, we have lost Anbar (except for the heavily-fortified bases).

The New! Iraqi! Army! is mostly Shiite and bears a grudge. Against whom I'll let the reader guess. Sending it to pacify Anbar Province would, perhaps, be effective -- but only in a Roman sense of the word. ("As they stand up, fix bayonets, and smile, we will stand down...")

The Syrian border is probably un-police-able. Certainly with the few troops we now have, it is hopeless to imagine that we could seal it. And the idea that the insurgency needs resupply from Syria seems unproven. If this is the old Iraqi Army and Mukhabarat gone underground, they have plenty of fun toys stashed away, and in any case Donald Rumsfeld made sure we didn't look for them when Baghdad fell. Or for months afterward. (RDX, anyone?)

Finally -- and, obviously -- we pulled men out of Anbar to pacify Baghdad. This clearly was a failure in every definition of the word. Neither place is "pacified," and our military is paying the price for cockeyed planning. The price is not going to go down. The gnawing question is, how expensive will this horrific folly end up being?

One point left out of Andrew's otherwise worthy post is that the Marine Colonel also pointed out that Al Qaeda is establishing itself in Anbar province.

This, and the resurgent belligerence of Iraq's neighbors -- Iran and Syria -- makes me believe that Saddam Hussein was an asset to U.S. foreign policy.

I suspect he would have had things in hand in Anbar.

Awful to comprehend, is it not, that loving America and preventing the colossal apocalypse that is coming might have been at least forestalled by kissing Saddam on the cheek rather than blowing his relatively stable and murderous regime to bits.

But, you know, a 15% flat tax for Iraqis in the short term is worth the big effing pile of dead meat that is around the corner. Ain't it?

So I write that half-assed comment above and then I pop over to the Cunning Realist to see what's what and he has a post up comparing the Daniel Pipes of today (hoping for the worst) and the Daniel Pipes of yesterday (wiser when younger when he knew "God-awful" was better than the worst).

I was channeling the younger Pipes, more or less. Not that I'm proud of it.

Andrew- I pretty much have to disagree with you right off the bat here; you say "It must be considered an incredibly bad thing when a Marine Colonel issues an assessment of Anbar province that concludes not just that the West is losing, but that we have lost."

I think it is a good thing that a Marine Colonel is recognizing that we have lost Anbar province. It would be better if we had some Generals smart enough to see that the war is lost, but progress is progress.

It was obvious that the US was defeated in 2004. (3rd November 2004, if we're being precise.) It was just a question, from then on, how long it would take the US to acknowledge it and leave. And the answer to that question is political, not military. Since we don't know why Bush & co wanted to invade*, we don't know when or why they'll decide the US can leave, but we do know their reasoning has not, in the past, ever been based on any regard for the lives of Iraqis or of US soldiers.

*Since every public reason they've given for invading has since been proved to be a lie.

"So, what do we do?"

Here is what I think.

It no longer matters what we do. We are no longer in a position to determine what happens in Iraq. Events are riding us, and not the other way around. It is no longer our ball game.

We should recognize that and, going forward, make our policy based on that reality.

It's the last line of "Garfield's Two-Minute Hate."

Close, but you're way off.

Is that a Simpsons hint?

That was a Simpsons reference, but the title is not from The Simpsons.

John Thullen,

Isn't The Cunning Realist a she?

"Presidents' Day"?

Socratic you, I guess I don't know.

I'm not cunning enough to be realistic about it.

How does anyone still support a President whose chief issue is security and terrorism, who has lost the province to -- of all people -- an enemy (perhaps *the* enemy) that wasn't even there before we invaded?

I'm going to third dmbeaster and Francis' question: what purpose, at this juncture, does an American presence in Iraq actually serve, especially given realistic assessments of their constraints (e.g. no ramp-up to 500,000 troops in-country)?

Ara: the argument will probably be a glorified version of "Shit happens". It'll be gussied up with "civility" and sober hand-wringing and all that happy horseshit but really? That's what it's going to boil down to.

Oh, and: 9/11 9/11 9/11 TERROR FEAR AAARGH 9/11 9/11 9/11 CHANGED EVERYTHING 9/11 9/11 OBEY 9/11 9/11 ad nauseum.

"what purpose, at this juncture, does an American presence in Iraq actually serve"

It gives us the devil we know, and it allows us to say when the violence is pointed out, "Well, at least we're trying".

"Isn't The Cunning Realist a she?"

No. At least, not judging by first names.

I'm going to third dmbeaster and Francis' question: what purpose, at this juncture, does an American presence in Iraq actually serve, especially given realistic assessments of their constraints (e.g. no ramp-up to 500,000 troops in-country)?

You really don't expect Republicans to let go of a major profit center? Even FEMA can't generate this kind of cash flow.

Yeesh.

"Privately, off line, what commanders, again, from Baghdad to Ramadi, will tell you is that they need at least three times as many troops as they currently have there now, be that Iraqi and American or, even better, just three times as many as American troops."


Fortunately I haven't had lunch yet.

rilkefan beat me to the link

Having been thru Vietnam, I am sick and tired of the irresponsibility of the High Command or General Staff of Joint Chiefs or whomever. They serve the nation first, their soldiers second, and the chimp-in-chief third.

If the chimp-in-chief tells them to paratroop a division into Tehran without air support, they do not salute and throw lives away for nothing. And I believe a whole lot of Iraqi lives have been lost because too many generals and colonels wanted promotions at any cost.

The hell with them. I blame them first, Bush second. They are supposed to be the professionals.

"If the chimp-in-chief tells them to paratroop a division into Tehran without air support, they do not salute and throw lives away for nothing"

Addendum:They do not quietly resign like Shinseki and wait for the chimp to find someone who will do his grunting will. He will.

The Cunning Realist is male, I think. In his 7/28/06 column, 'We Get Mail', he mentions having been married to a woman.

In his 7/28/06 column, 'We Get Mail', he mentions having been married to a woman.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in the US since 4/17/04, in Canada since 06/10/03, and I know a good many couples who referred to themselves as married years before it became legal. I'm just saying. ;-)

Well, I decided not to add that he gave the impression that that was in the not very recent past, and that given his writing style, it was unlikely that he would use the word ``married'' in other than the sense involving a license, etc., but I thought it would be fussy and overprecise.

Fussy and overprecise is our middle name. Are our middle names. "Fussy" and "Overprecise" are our middle names.

Golly, I feel a rant coming on.

1)America cannot lose this war. Whatever loses this war will cease to exist, and will not be recognizable to liberals ten years from now. Losing a war is not something to exult over. Defeated countries do not turn to the left. You, Have. No. Clue. How. Bad. It. Be.

2)"Band of Brothers" is my storehouse of military wisdom. Three times Winters overrode the orders of his superiors to accomplish the mission and/or minimize casualties. Once staring his general straight in the eye as he did it. I presume Winters, while considered a very good soldier, is not considered uniquely competent or honorable.

Mission. Soldiers. Orders/Chain. Maybe I would be a lousy soldier for such a ranking.

I do not hate officers for losing soldiers or the inescapable collateral damage. To say I admire them for such decisions is... understatement is inadequate. I don't hate them for incompetence. Incompetence happens at all levels.

But wasting assets in a predictable failed mission when alternatives are available, because of cowardice, and cowardice happens with stars on your shoulders, is despicable.

I about to see the second event in my life when treason was the more honourable course,
and many avenues short of treason were available. I can't stand it.

My hatred of the military gets very dilute toward the bottom of the chain of command.

"Fussy and overprecise is our middle name. Are our middle names. "Fussy" and "Overprecise" are our middle names."

And "Surprise". And "A Fanatical Devotion to the Pope". And "Nice Red Suits".

To further the point of rilkefan's link (CNN Raw Story about military off-the-record comments that a 3x troop commitment needed to win) and bob's comments.

It may be snivelly and it may violate what bob properly describes as the moral duty of senior military commanders, but there is no surer way for the senior military to doom Bush's vanity war than to let the rumors waft that "really winning" will require a 3x troop commitment. The Republican pols will hear that and quake at the political nightmare of what it would take to raise more troops. The Bush mantra of "Stay the Course" will re-echo the rumor of "3x troops needed to really win."

Nothing like conflating "Stay the Course" with "Not Enough Troops" to undermine the war and bring it to an end.

Of course, Bush will continue to tell them to stuff it through 2008, no matter what the outcome of the 2006 elections.

bob mcmanus: America cannot lose this war. Whatever loses this war will cease to exist, and will not be recognizable to liberals ten years from now. Losing a war is not something to exult over.

I am not exulting over it.

Really, I'm not.

I was in a state of flat despair about it for months after November 2004, and indeed am not far off that now, if you push me - it's just that, well, what's the point of sounding like Eeyore all the time? Nevertheless, facts are facts: it didn't look likely that the US could win in Iraq before 3rd November 2004, but I had to acknowledge it was possible that a new administration might do it. But, face reality: with the Bush administration in charge for another four years, things would go on as they were, which meant the US had lost.

I spent months after September 11 trying very hard to remember things that had seemed worthwhile before it, because it seemed clear that the world was heading into a very, very bad time. Some of the things I feared then have come true: others haven't. But the things that haven't, I can only say "not yet". I don't know that they won't.

DaveC asked me not that long ago why I was so aggravating over the dishonesty of US elections when I couldn't even vote in them. Well, aside from a principled belief that people should be allowed to get the government they voted for, according to the rules of their elections, it's especially because the results of the 2000 Presidential election being rigged, and the 2004 election having most probably rigged, have brought more death and despair and destruction into the world than I think anyone could have imagined. Bush should never have been President, in all senses of "should never".

I am not exulting over the awful results. If it sounds like I am, I apologise.

America cannot lose this war. Whatever loses this war will cease to exist, and will not be recognizable to liberals ten years from now.

Eh? What was unrecognizable about the US after Vietnam? We traded Nixon for disco, which was sort of a wash.

'Losing' the war in Iraq means failing to obtain the utopian and impossible vision that arose after WMD were not found and the administration needed a post facto excuse for invading. By that light, we already lost and the brain is just waiting to figure it out. 'Losing' will mean the ejection of those elements that create pre-lost wars and replacement with elements that might be more effective at reducing terrorism and hopefully improving the lives of people in the US and worldwide, which. . yes, I would exult over.

Incidentally, Bolton's bailing on Darfur today (or was it yesterday) has, at least for me, raised an interesting point.

The liberal tack on Darfur is that it's a horrible civil-war-slash-slaughter and the US is negligent in not commiting troops and cash to ameliorating the conditions there. However, sans US troops, Iraq is likely to escalate as a civil-war-slash-slaughter, possibly to a point rivaling Sudan. At which point, do liberals agitate for the return to Iraq to commit troops and cash to ameliorating the conditions there?

For me, I think we need to re-evaluate Iraq as being a pre-Sudan, and behave appropriately. Meaning we get off the nation-building bandwagon and continue to commit a small number of troops to preventing full-scale civil war. Obviously this would require fewer troops than we have and less than the trillion dollars already commited to rebuilding. But I don't think a full pullout is anymore ethical than leaving Darfur to burn.

I think we're back to wishing for ponies here. I'm sure we can all think of ways to "fix this", but there comes the simple fact that so can the US Army. Somehow I doubt we're plowing new ground here.

So if the military understands the problem, has undoubtable reached similiar conclusions, why have they failed to act?

Because they can't. Not enough troops. Not enough soldiers. Not enough boots on the ground.

We lack the manpower and the resources to seal the Syrian border. We lack the manpower and the resources to train the Iraqi Army (which means weeding out all the folks that shouldn't be in there). We lack the manpower and resources to even keep things looking marginally safe.

We can't do any one thing in Iraq -- yet success depends on doing them all. Securing the country. Training a trustworthy and professional army. Interdicting supplies heading towards insurgents.

Push for a draft or admit the truth that we've lost. Anything else is merely a lie.

"Eh? What was unrecognizable about the US after Vietnam? We traded Nixon for disco, which was sort of a wash."

I was there, and comparing 1990 to 1970, we had two different countries. Honestly, electing Reagan was like electing Goldwater. It should have been impossible.

After 30 straight years of rising wages and declining inequality, we have had 30 years of declining wages and rising inequality. Break point:1976. This nation I live in is unrecognizable to me.

Correlation is not causality? You are going to get to watch it happen.

The Sixteen Acre Ditch

Some Billmon to slit your wrists over. He is younger than I, of course.

sidereal: "However, sans US troops, Iraq is likely to escalate as a civil-war-slash-slaughter, possibly to a point rivaling Sudan."

The increasingly-common liberal position is that "Iraq is likely to escalate as a civil-war-slash-slaughter, possibly to a point rivaling Sudan" full stop. The question is whether we want to be there when it happens - maybe we can arrange a softer landing, maybe we're making things worse - will we be seen as cutting/running or as turning our back on the slaughter.

In any case, my understanding of the logistics involved is that we are unable to stay there for many more years.

Lengthy, must-read Spiegel article, optimistically entitled The Iraq War: Mission Impossible (which I'm sure is giving TNR's resident doctrinaire neocon Lawrence Kaplan the vapors).

related: Spiegel interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski

Online Quiz

In Which WWII Army Should You Have Fought?
Thanks to kingdaddy

I am Poland...Greece, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands.

With all due respect to those countries, you may now ignore all my military related comments.

If it makes you feel any better, bob, I scored as Poland as well (tied with Finland).

Man, Shineski must be either laughing or crying somewhere....
Count me in as one more person thinking that we should either bite the bullet , commit 400,000 troops and complete the mission, or declare " Mission Accomplished" and leave.

Finland came in at the top for me, followed by a three-way tie for second between the Brits/Commonwealth, Soviets, and Italy.

Oddly, I scored British and Commonwealth.

Woohoo. Finland big time. Not a result I can disagree with.

Finland 88%
Poland 75%
British and the Commonwealth 69%
United States 50%

In Which WWII Army Should You Have Fought?

Heh. I scored as British and the Commonwealth. I wonder why? (On the other hand, I scored almost as high for Finland, Poland, Italy, and France, Free French and the Resistance.) Apparently there's a low but measureable possibility that I'm Germany, the Soviet Union, and Japan - and, er, even a possibility that I'm United States...

even a possibility that I'm United States...

No, anything but that! ;)

And, just because I can't resist, I will point out that the title remains an unsolved mystery. I will further hint that, while it is inspired by a movie, I have changed one word from the quote.

I got Finland 94%.

Suomi ikuisesti!

But is it countries you would have fought for, or countries you would have fought against?

Well...

"You scored as United States.

Your army is the American army. You want your home front to support the G.I.'s in their pursuit to liberate world from more or less evil tyrants.

British and the Commonwealth 75%
United States 75%
Soviet Union 75%
Italy 69%
Poland 63%
Finland 56%
France, Free French and the Resistance 50%
Japan 31%
Germany 31%"

Apparently, I'm a superpower of some sort, and only my answer on the tiebreaker made me the US. I'm not sure what to make of this.

Well, that explains a lot.

I think the tiebreaker asked me to choose between two statements, both of which I disagreed with: 'ammunition should be used in massive quantities' (me: not necessarily; sometimes less is more, for instance when you have to choose between using a sniper and a machine gun to get one guy and you don't want to give away your position. Do what tactics indicate.) and 'a small army is more efficient than a huge horde' (me: why on earth would one assume that that's true?) I chose #1, on the grounds that it was true more often than #2. So I guess using tons of ammo is what distinguishes the US.

Street Fighter: the Movie. I should not know this.

Hilzoy: Apparently, I'm a superpower of some sort

I only wish you were.

" 'a small army is more efficient than a huge horde' (me: why on earth would one assume that that's true?)"

Really? I took it as functionally tautological. Of course, you have to define efficiency, but I think we can all agree that the numerator is something like 'ability to advance a military goal' and the denominator is something like 'soldiers'. Efficiency is pretty much universally understood to be better in small groups (due to improved communication, less organization-maintenance, less regression to the mean, etc). This might explain why I ended up in the Finnish army with all those guerillas.

Side-note: while efficiency is improved the smaller you go, the numerator obviously gets smaller as well. A numerator like 'Bring democracy to Iraq' is, in fact, so huge that the denominator (troops) must also be huge, regardless of the cost in efficiency. This is, I think, the fundamental misunderstanding of the Rumsfeld approach, will seems (via pre-war rhetoric) to value efficiency over all else.

Street Fighter: the Movie.

Nope.

the numerator is something like 'ability to advance a military goal' and the denominator is something like 'soldiers'.

It was my understanding there would be no math.

I am now an honorary soldier of the British Commonwealth.
Bob McManus, I think the longterm consequences to US politics of a defeat in Iraq depends on which party gets blamed for the defeat. The Republicans successfully blamed the defeat in VietNam on the Democrats and that became their basis for being, supposedly, better or stronger on defense, which they milked for decades. If Iraq is preceived as a defeat and the blame lands where it belongs, the republic will be better off because the Republicans will have to go sit in the corner in shame for a long, long time. Americans love a winner and hate a loser, and place far more importance on the winnng and losing than on the purpose for the fight. Rove and Bush understand this. Hence their determination to manipulate appearences.
By the way, I am not saying that a defeat in Iraq would be good for the US (or the Middle East)in terms of national security, foreign relations, or any other sphere. I am only daying that a defeat would bring down the Republican party and THAT would be a good thing for our domestic political health.

sidereal: I was assuming that the question didn't assume something like 'other things equal' (in which case, yes), but was asking the somewhat dumber question: given any two armies A and B, where A is smaller than B, is A the more efficient? -- in which case the answer is: duh, no. If A is the US army and B is anything commanded by disorganized me, A will be much more efficient.

Those quizzes always amaze me. 'Heroism is for the most part a sacrifice', I'm thinking well, probably, but is a sacrifice a good thing or a bad thing? Or 'I want to fight on the best army in the world', well, if it were football, any team but the Cowboys, but armies, geez, I'm not into come from behind victories predicated on hail mary passes.

Maybe if we made joining the armies sort of a free trade, power of the markets thing, we wouldn't need wars and could just use market share.

lily, I still don't understand how the GOP managed to hang the defeat in Vietnam on the Democrats, so it's hardly outside the realm of possibility that they'll manage to wiggle their way out of blame for the Iraq Fiasco as well.

Bush has already said he's going to leave Iraq for the next President to deal with. If a Democrat takes the WH in '08, and decides to pull the plug, the GOP will have its scapegoat right then and there. Count on it.

Oh I am counting on it. The Republicans,who have no decency and no sense of responisibility, are going to talk talk talk about winning while doing nothing to make it happen. They are counting on the Democrats having the decency and sense of responisbiity to necessary think about possible solutions. No matter what the Democrats decide to do it will provide the Republicans with what they are really seeking--not a victory in Iraq,but a way to dump the blame for their mess on the Democrats.
It's a dilemna for the Democrats. Either they do the responisble thing and propose action, thus exposing themselves to blame, or they do nothing which is safe but not responisble.

Not that anyone cares, it's just... maybe I've got it wrong, but I'm pretty sure
Shinseki wasn't saying "This is what we'll need to pacify post-invasion Iraq," he was saying "Well, if we DO invade Iraq, this is what we'll need, but I gotta tell ya, it's a shitload."

To me that just kinda speaks to the doability of it, even disregarding the risible leadership. Which is impossible to disregard, I know.

CaseyL's right, of course. The Pubs are gonna trade the next four years for the twelve after that. It'll be nothing but endless coverage of a Dem wading through the mess these bastards left.

Not to make sweeping, authoritative assertions about stuff I know nothing about or anything.

For America's right-wing, victory is a state of mind.

Only materialists and atheists worry about reality.

"Fussy and overprecise is our middle name. Are our middle names. "Fussy" and "Overprecise" are our middle names."

Rilkefan-- I think you had better not be so careless in your writing. Could you elaborate, so I can make sure I understand?

Finland 88%, British and the Commonwealth 81%, United States 75%, Poland 69%, Italy 56%, Soviet Union 38%.

I was curious how Bob got the Netherlands, since it shows the perception of the creator, but 4 attempts didn't get the Netherlands mentioned even once...

However if you fill in 'neutral' at everything you get a tie braker. I chose accuracy above rate of fire, and became Brittish. When I chose hugh ammo I became the US, military marches made me German, effective infantry made me Finnish (ah, Andrew, that's why you are Finnish :) ), favor for the resistance made me French, uniforms are cool made me Italian, believe in getting stronger through desperation got me Poland and a soldiers death is a beautifull death got me Japan (hmmmm... these days that means support for suicide terrorists doesn't it?).

Five attempts and as far as I am concerned the Netherlands is still not in the quiz. I give up :)

apropos to Dutch's comment, there was this LATimes article (I googled it from the Boston Globe thought) about the kamikaze and how they feel about suicide bmombers. The dateline is where a museum is for the kamikaze. Interesting place, but very disturbing.

"I was curious how Bob got the Netherlands"

I can't get the results page back, and can't replicate my choices. But what I listed were not "percentage countries" but

"You are Poland...blah blah . Similar are Greece, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands."

Followed by the percentage countries. I presume everyone got that same type result. I considered those smaller countries closer in some way than the pcts below.

And I am pretty sure it was Netherlands, but I might have read wrong. But I am out of N countries.

It must be considered an incredibly bad thing when a Marine Colonel issues an assessment of Anbar province that concludes not just that the West is losing, but that we have lost.

Considering that none of the supporters of this war(BirdDog, Sebastian, young Republicans), nor are the children of our political leaders (Chelsea, Jenna, Barbara, etc) are willing to serve, is this a surprise?

LOL Bob, friends of mine did the quiz and one got Poland too - at which point I understood the Netherlands isn't a seperate army but one in a group of occupied countries represented by Poland. Better late than never I quess.

Interesting article LibJap. I actually never realized there would be kamikaze survivors, nor did I know that it was a slur in post-war Japan.

There is no one-on-one comparison, but there is a hugh overlap and grey area of course. But people have sacrificed themselfs for the group, their country or their family all through history afaik. The organisation behind it is what distinguishes the kamikaze and suicidal bomber (not all of whom have civilian targets) imho, but I am no historian so maybe there have been organised groups like that before.

Considering that none of the supporters of this war(BirdDog, Sebastian, young Republicans), nor are the children of our political leaders (Chelsea, Jenna, Barbara, etc) are willing to serve, is this a surprise?

Unless you're aware of some correlation between success in war and number of war supporters/children of war leaders under arms that has not been made public, then I'd argue that it is certainly a surprise relative to the metric you're using for prediction.

If the leadership of a country ain't willing to fight, why should anyone else?

In WWII, FDR's relatives fought and died for this country. Where are the equivalents of FDR's family today?

I had no idea that Jenna Bush was the leadership of this country.

Although it might explain a few things, were it true.

If the leadership of a country ain't willing to fight, why should anyone else?

That's a decision each of us make for him or herself. But, while I'll concede I do not have children of my own, I am reasonably certain that children are not slaves. Therefore, the fact the children of the country's leadership have not chosen to sign up does not demonstrate that the leadership is necessarily deficient.

Further, you claim that failure is no surprise because the leadership has not signed up to fight. Do you have any evidence from history that victory in war comes from a willingness of a leader's children to join the military? I myself am aware of none, unless you are prepared to argue that FDR's relative's actions won WWII.

A cause is just or unjust on its own. It does not depend on extraneous issues such as how many political leaders have children who have served or are serving. Surely you are not going to argue that we could win in Iraq if only the Bush twins would join the military?

Unless you're aware of some correlation between success in war and number of war supporters/children of war leaders under arms that has not been made public...

The "children of war leaders" argument is, I'm fairly sure, a bankrupt one. The war supporters argument? A damn sight closer to true in a fairly obvious sort of way, and one which shades into the children of war leaders argument precisely because many of those children are (as you noted, autonomous) war supporters themselves.

To clarify, I don't think anyone's claiming sufficiency -- which, incidentally, somewhat ruins your point about the Bush twins -- but I think it's pretty clearly necessary for a supposedly-existential war to receive actual in-uniform support from those who suppose it existential. [In fact, I'd regard it as almost tautologically true; any such war won without significant in-uniform support cannot, ipso facto, have been existential in the first place.] This is basically the refined chickenhawk argument, which -- when phrased precisely (pace, well, everyone) -- I think has significant and brutal merit.

Surely you are not going to argue that we could win in Iraq if only the Bush twins would join the military?

The fact that the Bush twins are too good to fight in a war to defend civilization, convinces me beyond any doubt that my children & relatives are also too good to fight.

As a military officer, you of all people should know that the best leadership is leadership by example.

It's certainly amusing to point out that George W. Bush's "military experience" is that of slacker and draft dodger, and Dick Cheney "had other priorities" - that although they both claimed to support the Vietnam War, both of them were committed to not fighting in it. And it may even be relevant: we can look at Bush's irresponsibility when he was in his 20s, and compare it to his irresponsibility now: we can look at his lies about his military service, and compare them to his lies now.

But arguing that if someone supports the war in Iraq they ought to be ready to go fight in it is really a bad argument - so bad it makes me embarrassed. (The one really bad section of Fahrenheit 911 was Michael Moore touring the streets of Washington DC with a loudhailer trying to find a Senator's child who was prepared to join up.)

More to the point, someone who says they support the war in Iraq ought not to support an administration that doesn't care about it. Bush and Co don't care about Iraq, as Hilzoy has already pointed out in much better posts than I could write. Bush & co don't care about the US military dying and injured in Iraq. No one who genuinely supports the war in Iraq could have voted for Bush in 2004 - unless they were paying no attention to reality, and had been completely suckered by the Bush administration's lies.

But it's tough to admit you were suckered.

Wonder if Steward Beta has met DonQ - 'cause this particular line of argument is rather familiar...

(btw must give props for the Walter Jon Williams reference).

Considering that none of the supporters of this war(BirdDog, Sebastian, young Republicans), nor are the children of our political leaders (Chelsea, Jenna, Barbara, etc) are willing to serve, is this a surprise?

This sentence, to me, seems to clearly suggest a causative relationship: we are losing in Iraq because insufficient numbers of Iraq war supporters and the children of politicians have joined the military. (It should be noted that I favored the invasion of Iraq and was then and am now in uniform; I am not of the opinion that this should give me any particular weight in the argument simply because I was and am willing to go to war.) It is this causative claim I am disputing.

Would it be a good thing if the children of political leaders chose to serve? I think so, but it certainly can't be forced, and it should be noted that most of this country's great war leaders were not warriors themselves: Lincoln served ~60 days in the Black Hawk War and never saw combat, and FDR never wore a uniform. Conversely, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ and Nixon all served during WWII yet all managed, to varying degrees (no equivalence intended or implied), to bollix up Vietnam.

In any case, I am not arguing that people shouldn't be willing to serve by any means. Only that the implied correlation of Steward's comment is implausible.

Oh dear -- are we going to get into 'chickenhawk' territory? If so, preemptive distinctions:

First, whether or not someone's kids fight is irrelevant. The fact that someone other than Jenna Bush might think she's too good to die has nothing to do with whether she goes to fight -- that's her decision, and hers alone.

Second: to me, there is a very serious distinction between people who do not enlist now, when enlistment is voluntary, and people who in some way ducked the draft back in the 60s. Nowadays, people might have all sorts of reasons for not enlisting. Some of them might be bad, but others are good: if, for instance, someone has a health problem they do not want to make public, but that would preclude their serving, or if that person is gay. It is, imho, not our business to make assumptions about whether or not any of those things is true of anyone who is currently not enlisting.

It's completely different to talk about someone like Cheney not serving in Vietnam, since it wasn't optional to serve, and since we know why he didn't. Though when we talk about what someone did or didn't do in Vietnam, we also need to bear in mind that time has passed, and the person under discussion might not do the same thing again.

Third: there is a difference between not wanting to serve in a war you think is wrong, and not wanting to serve in a war you support. In the second case, you think that someone should be fighting and dying; but that you should not be that someone. If the reason is that you have some disqualifying medical condition, or that you are doing some service to your country that wouldn't happen without you (say, you are Robert Oppenheimer in WW2), that's a good reason. If the reason is that obviously you are just too good to risk your life like everyone else, that's a bad reason.

Fourth: there's a difference between not voluntarily enlisting when enough other people are, and not enlisting when the army is facing recruiting problems. In the second case, if you support the war, it's worth asking yourself why you don't feel any need to help alleviate the shortage of the troops needed to win it. Other people get to ask this only if they know that your not enlisting is not due to any of the reasons noted in my second point, above.

Red State Patriotism, vote for a warmonguer, but make sure your kids don't serve...

Rocy Mountain News - Students pass on Uncle Sam

Don't call. Don't write. That's the message many Denver-area high school students are sending to military recruiters, school officials say. Above, Luke Rothschild, 16, a junior at Boulder High School, said he believes he has opted out of a list that high schools send to military recruiters. "The whole getting-shot-at thing - I have better things I want to do," he says.

Smart kid, obviously following the example of our political & economic leaders...


Much as I hate to bring facts into an argument clearly based on emotion, you do realize that Boulder is a pretty liberal town, right?

n Jefferson County, the state's largest school district, 25 percent of juniors signed the opt-out form this fall, up from 13 percent in fall 2004.

In neighboring Douglas County, opt-outs increased from 51 percent last school year to 55 percent this school year.

In Denver, opt-outs went from 5.3 percent of students in 2001-02 to 25.5 percent in 2004-05. The district hasn't compiled data for the current school year.

Looks like it's more than Boulder.

Steward, if I didn't make it clear enough the first time: I am anti-war. I am anti-Bush. I am so anti-war and anti-Bush you could build an ant hill out of me.

And your argument is so bad it's embarrassing. Hilzoy nailed it. Now you're just providing an easy target for the pro-Bush evil warmongers* among us.

*Sorry.

Yep, definitely DonQ.

Still, Anarch's point is a relevant one -- if one truly feels that the actual existence of the West (let alone the US) and its culture and values are at risk of destruction, one would have to truly not care about the outcome to figure one's best role is to sit on the sidelines and kvetch about the New York Times, you know?

Exactly, Anonymous. Which is why:

HILZOY FOR PRESIDENT!

That is all.

Kidding, to be clear. I don't really wish that sort of nonsense on hilzoy. Or, really, anyone that I'd want to hold office. Kind of an inverse Groucho Marx thing.

mattbastard: Yep, definitely DonQ.

My recollection is that DonQ couldn't spell.

Italics begone!

The war isn't even existential enough for our leaders to risk Halliburton's profit margin. Kind of irrelevant to talk about their kids.

And your argument is so bad it's embarrassing. Hilzoy nailed it. Now you're just providing an easy target for the pro-Bush evil warmongers* among us.

So bad that you, Andrew, Slarti, Anarch all had to reply and Hilzoy practically wrote an essay to rebut it.

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