« Touchback | Main | Goodbye, Immigration Reform »

June 28, 2007

Comments

I've always thought that they were stabbed in the back by an administration that had so little concern for their welfare that it invaded a country without bothering to plan for what to do next, or secure sites full of high explosives suitble for use in IEDs, or appoint experts rather than 20something Heritage intern wannabes to positions of greaqt responsibility in the CPA, etc., etc., etc.

Also, that their seconds, the people who wiped the knife off after use and handed it back to them, were people like the writers of the NRO, who were willing to call anyone who questioned the administration's conduct of the war defeatists or traitors.

But hey, maybe that's just me ;)

Wow: now I've read Johannes' article. What a piece of work.

There's one of my favorite tricks, "benefit analysis", in which you cite a benefit and then say "see?", without considering whether it has any costs, and if so, whether they outweigh it. (There's also "cost analysis", when you don't like something.) "There is some progress in Anbar, so we can't leave!" -- when not only is this not obviously true, as von says, but it also completely leaves out the costs of achieving this benefit -- not just the costs in terms of lives, money, etc., but also the opportunity costs of not doing something else.

And this was breathtaking:

"Lugar bases his plea for downsizing and redeployment on three premises: the state of the Iraqi government, the stress of the war on our military, and the “constraints of our domestic political timetable.”

The first two are canards."

Mwahahaha! The stated goal was the surge was to provide the Maliki government the breathing room to work towards reunification, but the state of the Iraqi government, and in particular its manifest failure to do any of the things we are giving it breathing room to do, and the fact that it doesn't seem to be capable of doing these things no matter how much breathing room we give it, is a "canard".

Wow.

Good post, von. It is sad.

I wish Lugar would stick to his guns, but I am grateful that he is moving the Overton window over toward a better place.

But don't forget, Washington D.C. is more dangerous than Iraq.

Unfortunately the stab-in-the-back tactic usually works quite well. And if one can campaign with he lie that the Democrats will outlaw the bible when winning without getting laughed out of town, the old Dolchstoß should sound uncommonly reasonable to the same non-negligible voter segment. It worked with Vietnam, why should it not work today?
The lie will need some time to catch on but I predict that it will stick successfully in less than a generation.
Retch!Barf!Eating-Backwards!

Replace 'he' with 'the' in second line!

Iraq was lost by Bush failing to take it as a serious war.

Iraq was lost by Bush failing to take it as a serious war.

Yeah, and possibly before that - but we can at least all agree that he failed in this and that such failure at the very least exacerbated the problem.

Good post Von.

Iraqi commandos raided the home of a Sunni Cabinet member Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest, outraging Sunni politicians and jeopardizing U.S.-backed reconciliation efforts within the Shiite-led government.

The move against Culture Minister Asad Kamal al-Hashimi came after he was identified by two suspected militants as the mastermind of a Feb. 8, 2005, ambush against secular politician Mithal al-Alusi, an Iraqi government spokesman said. Al-Alusi escaped unharmed but two of his sons were killed.

Ouch. Attempting to arrest a cabinet member, killing two of his sons. On the word of "suspected militants".

If iraq had something more like our Constitution, and they had to wait until he was actually in parliament to present his crimes to parliament, this wouldn't have happened.

What a mess. This is a bigger setback than it looks like at first glance.

Iraq wasn't lost as a war. It was lost as an experiment in democratizing a nation. We won the war (or at least successfully invaded and deposed the leader, that is) back in 2003.

And I don't think, honestly, even when accounting for my natural cynicism, that Bush ever lost sight of what he went in to do. He doesn't act like a man who's been defeated. He either truly believes history will show him to have made the right (clearly never stated honestly) decision or he's getting exactly what he wants from the invasion. I tend to feel it's the latter.

IIJM, or does the latest deluge of "surge" reporting from Iraq (especially the stuff mainly disseminated via the Internet) put anyone else in mind of the PR blitz the government put on over Vietnam? Especially in the post-expansion period in 1970-71?

There seems to be the same sort of reportorial dynamic at work: a focus almost exclusively on our military; an obsession with operational minutiae ("... 1 Bn of 2 Bd/3 Div conducted a sweep south of al-Bugalu in support of Operation Shocking Awesomeness which resulted in the deaths of 954 Al-Qaeda fighters at the cost of only three wounded..."); a near-complete lack of interest in the concerns of the people or the government for whom we are supposed to be doing all this; and, finally, a sort of ritualistic invocation of stab-in-the-back memes to ward off any criticism of either the military or the political structure which created the intervention in the first place. Because, you know, we're America; and thus: we're always right.

The big difference, though (and it quite strange to type these words!) is that in comparison to Iraq, the "rationales" of the Vietnam conflict seem far easier to comprehend. They both, I think will be recorded in history very much as "not-worth-the-sacrifice" wars; but George W. Bush's invasion/occupation will, I think, take place of pride in the March of Folly.

Unfortunately from what I heard of an interview with Lugar on NPR, he's just spectering, and is unwilling to follow through on his talk with any meaningful action.

It worked with Vietnam, why should it not work today?

I'm not old enough to remember the Vietnam era, but I think there's a very big difference in terms of public opinion. With Vietnam, there was always a significant number of people who felt the problem was that we weren't prosecuting the war aggressively enough. In the current war, only the far right takes that view; unlike Vietnam, the general public has never really been behind the goals of this war outside of Saddam and WMD, which are dead issues. We're not trying to stop Communism here.

Most people see no point to the continuation of this war, and I think they'll remember that they felt that way. There's just not anywhere for the stab-in-the-back theory to take root other than among the dead-enders. They won't be persuading anyone.

With Vietnam, there was always a significant number of people who felt the problem was that we weren't prosecuting the war aggressively enough.

I don't recall that. There were serious problems with morale, training and equipment, but for the first few years of the war, the generals got all the troops they wanted. Sure, there were folks like Curtis Lemay who wanted to bomb Hanoi back to the stone age, but his position of widening the war wasn't that popular, even among the conservatives. They recalled what happened when we got too close to China in the Korean War.

Had we overrun North Vietnam, people expected either a huge response from China or a huge problem occupying a country that had been fighting foreigners for decades -- with a great deal of success.

Good post, Von. (Even though for some odd reason you use four dots and one period and two spaces redundantly to make an ellipsis and two periods, rather than the perfectly simple ellipsis and a period; we don't actually use two periods in a row in English. :-))

I'd also like to encourage you to consider reconsidering the wisdom of supporting proxy war in Somalia, if my mere suggestion doesn't put you off that.

J Thomas, you read that wrong. We tried to arrest a cabinet member who was implicated in the attempted killing of second politican.

It wasn't us that killed the sons, it was the cabinet member we tried to capture.

I don't recall that. There were serious problems with morale, training and equipment, but for the first few years of the war, the generals got all the troops they wanted.

For example:

There was, by the way, substantial support for a stronger war effort, especially early in the war. For instance, in a poll conducted in February 1968, 25 per cent wanted to "gradually broaden and intensify our military operations", and 28 per cent wanted to "start an all-out crash effort in the hope of winning the war quickly even at the risk of China or Russia entering the war". Just 24 per cent wanted to "discontinue the struggle and begin to pull out of Vietnam gradually in the near future", and 10 per cent wanted to "continue the war at the present level of military effort". So, much of the disatisfaction about the war came, early on, from the belief that not enough was being done to win it.

The same was true later in the war as well. The polls show plenty of people who disapproved of the war because they wanted us to just commit overwhelming force and get it over with. Among people who oppose the current war, there's not very many who take a similar position.

Jon H, the iraqi government tried to arrest an iraqi government cabinet member and killed two of his sons in the process, based on the testimony of two "suspected militants".

I don't see how you can look at this as not a giant setback. Unless you've already given up on the iraqi government.

Ideally they'd call the guy to come in and defend himself in some sort of law court, or before the assembly. If he refuses to come in maybe you have the trial in absentia and remove him from office if he's proven guilty.

But they didn't do it that way. They attacked his home and killed his sons. If that happens to a sunni cabinet member, what sunni is safe? Opening the door to a bunch of guys wearing shia police uniforms is sometimes a death sentence.

The last time the police came to my door, it wasn't a no-knock warrant. So they knocked and told me to let them in. I could have asked, "Do you have a warrant", and they would have answered "No, do you want us to go get one and come back?". I didn't want them to be in a bad mood so I let them in without a warrant, but I could have gone that route. If they had said they had a warrant for my arrest, it would have been mostly OK for me to ask for a badge number and call the police station to confirm that they were really police with a real warrant. They would have thought I was a kook and maybe treated me worse, but I could have done it.

This is nothing like rule of law. When there are far more than 2 factions in the iraqi government, it's quite possible for one of them to kill a member of another faction and then frame a member of a third faction for it.

Violent arrest of a sunni cabinet member, that could have been a kidnap-assassination. Why would any sunni run for office in this government? The claim was our surge was going to give them time to work out their differences. What's the odds of that now?

Another point of agreement between me & von (alert the media): The Final Cut. Thanks for reminding me. What a bitterly prescient work.

But did we-were-stabbed-in-the-back-in-Vietnam even work that well, as a political tactic? Carter won in '76, and, despite a dreadful four years, nearly won in '80. The Democrats controlled the House until '94, and had the Senate much of the time.

Also, it seems like that kind of ressentiment works on the kind of people who already have a lot of ressentiment (about liberals, The Gay, the Marquess of Queensbury, whoever's on Fox's list tomorrow morning) It keeps the old rubes in the tent, but I don't see how it gets the new rubes in.

I am pessimistic. The public today has a much shorter attention span and a far more malleable memory than in the past. Few will believe the stab-in-the-back now. But after a constant low-level barrage for a decade or so, it will catch on with enough people to have an influence. Especially if the next POTUS is a Democrat and takes the decision to withdraw from Iraq (completely or partially), the "cut-and-run" meme will take solid roots. Already Bush is accused to be a crypto-liberal who betrayed the "true" conservatism.
Probably the only way to avoid that would be Chain-Eye/Shrub attacking Iran followed by a huge blowback (but that could also mean an open coup d'etat in the name of national security).
I still suspect Cheney of doing/planning a Ludendorff. If/when Iraq fails, he will shift the blame to the Dems and they will (as usual) be either too stupid or too caring to not take it (i.e. cleaning up the GOP mess and being attacked for it).

Semper aliquid haeret = if you accuse someone long and persistently enough even with the most preposterous charges, some of them will stick. The Rabid Right has much experience with that (more than the Loony Left).

There are actually two questions that need to be asked and answered here.

First question: Will the GOP attempt to create a stab-in-the-back myth in order to blame the "loss" of Iraq on the Democrats?

The answer, needless to say, is "yes".

Second question: Will conservatives continue to have a stranglehold on the public discourse, and use that stranglehold to keep pushing the stab-in-the-back myth until it becomes the accepted conventional wisdom?

The answer, I believe, is also "yes".

So Ross is wrong. The forthcoming "Dems lost Iraq" narrative is bad news for the Dems, and if they're smart, they'll do everything in their power to counteract it.

(This leaves aside the questions of whether the Dems will in fact be smart enough to counteract the narrative, or whether, even if they are, they can manage to stem the rightwing media tidal wave.)

Will the GOP attempt to create a stab-in-the-back myth in order to blame the "loss" of Iraq on the Democrats?

The answer, needless to say, is "yes".

Second question: Will conservatives continue to have a stranglehold on the public discourse [....]

The answer, I believe, is also "yes".

So Ross is wrong. The forthcoming "Dems lost Iraq" narrative is bad news for the Dems, and if they're smart, they'll do everything in their power to counteract it.

If the lying bad guys are going to push this lie, and if they control the media, what can democrats possibly do to counteract it?

Even if they were to continue to roll over and play dead, that wouldn't help in the least. They'd still get blamed for the loss.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad