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July 19, 2007

Comments

G'Kar

Valid points, but I suspect that the odds are still better that Iraq ends up with a more secular than theocratic government when the dust settles.

If your measuring stick is Iran, I would agree that Iraq is only headed to an Iran-lite version of theocracy.

If your measuring stick is some objective analysis of the degree of secularism vs. theocracy, I would be interested in an explanation of how your prediction is possible. Who are the secular forces resisting the powerful theocratic forces in the country? The Shia in particular are theocratic, and are likely to rule this country. Identify the Shia faction that would promote secularism over theocracy? It does not exist.

Don't mistake pissing off your audience with censorship. The two are not equivalent.

No, but I think a -- no, the -- major radio station ownership group in the US directing stations not to play an artist's songs counts as actual censorship.

What the Dixie Chicks did was to basically take political views dearly held by their audience and treat those views (and their audience members) with contempt.

No, what the Dixie Chicks did was to say -- in its entirety -- "Just so y'all know, we're ashamed that the President is from Texas." (To an audience of Londoners, no less.) A statement which got them death threats. Now, unless Londoners being proud that the President is from Texas is a "political view dearly held," you're just making stuff up. And I think death threats are far more contemptuous than anything they said, but YMMV. (Maybe you just get a lot of them? I dunno.)

Tim McGraw and Toby Keith are anti-war Democrats, but much more respectful of their audience.

Toby Keith is "anti-war" like I'm "pro-hamburgers." He may be anti-Bush, but he was fast out of the gate with that "boot up your ass" song.

While Natalie Mains may have become a cause celebre among the anti-war crowd, there was certainly no small amount of slander (Cindy Sheehan, Tedd Rall, Markos "Screw 'em" Moulitsas) being directed in the opposite direction.

You are Josh Trevino and I claim my $5!

This had been building since 1993, when the election of the Clinton Presidency caused no small amount of "empassionment" of national politics.

it wasn't the election of Clinton that caused that "empassionment". it was a new, and vicious, boldness in his political opponents. see Newt, Rush and Scaife.

But don't question their patriotism.

question away. but don't pretend your definition of 'patriotism' is the right one.

When the rest of the world thinks you're crazy, ask yourself what is their angle for saying so

excellent advice.

Clinton continued the interventionist policies and ended up with disasters in Kosovo and Somalia and and emboldening of Al Qaeda.

Lebanon. El Salvador. Nicaragua.

...as well as more prosaic matters such as whether the family actually liked the insurgent.

WTF?
no doubt there are black sheep insurgents out there, as there are in any population you can draw a box around. do think they make up a significant percentage of any group ?

and obviously, we're killing more than just "insurgents". and if you add in the millions of displaced Iraqis... we're not making many friends over there.

bah.

G'Kar

As for my alleged assumptions about Shia, Sunni and Kurds getting along, the facts on the ground is that they are busy murdering one another while jockeying for power. Explain to me the basis for credible assumptions that they can work out their differences peacefully.

As for Kirkuk, the Kurds have been busy expelling Arabs and Turkmen to insure a vote in their favor. The issue is whether the remaining Iraqis will go along with this, which presently is unlikely. The bigger question is whether or not the vote will even be allowed to go forward.

Kirkuk is a major flashpoint. I have no idea how it can be resolved without more serious violence, and the implications for Turkish involvement are profound should the Kurds take over Kirkuk. Unfortunately, he Kurds are fanning those flames as well, including allowing sanctuary for Kurdish terrorists operating in Turkey.

I'll note here that I've got to run and may not be back online for some time (duration unknown, hopefully short). It has been a fascinating discussion, and I didn't want anyone to think that I was abandoning the field simply because I did not wish to discuss it any further. Thanks to all for the interesting comments.

@G'Kar:

I'm happy to concede that these are differences of opinion/prediction that we'll be able to evaluate by events. So far my track record is much better than yours -- because your assessment has been much more optimistic than mine up to now.

It's my opinion and prediction that the Iraqi Police will not be successfully purged of Shia militia members (people whose primary loyalty is to their party or sect and not to a government of all Iraqis.) That's because the sects and parties to which they're loyal make up the current government of Iraq.

It's also my opinion that Sunni insurgents, to the extent they've been driven out of Diyala, are regrouping elsewhere, and will not in any meaningful sense ever be separated from the general Sunni population. The five-fold increase in air attacks during the recent escalation is creating insurgents as rapidly as it drives them temporarily out of specific areas (e.g. the helicopter attack that killed two Reuters staffers in addition to civilians; the troops in that copter fired on everyone who moved).

Attacks on U.S. forces in Ramadi are down. Is that just as true in Anbar province as a whole? (While we're dealing in facts vs. opinion, I'd welcome a pointer to sources on this phenomenon.)

Testimony at the recent trial resulting from U.S. troops' murder of a man in Hamdaniyah, as well as the Haditha hearings, paints an unsettling picture of the training, rules of engagement, and command attitudes that affect the behavior of U.S. troops wrt Iraqi civilians. The problem seems to go well beyond individual 'bad apples' (e.g. the testimony that training at Camp Pendleton includes shooting wounded combatants). Unless structural changes turn that pattern around, I predict Sunni communities who are now 'holding fire' will turn on U.S. troops when the moment suits them.

OT (kind of) - Wow.

[...]

I should note that there's some NSFW language in my link to the video above, but the video is fine (to the extent it doesn't cause to put your fist through the wall).

Any interest in offering those of us without practical video access even the faintest clue what the topic is, perhaps?

Goodspeed, G'Kar. Hope to hear from you soon.

Sorry Gary, Andrew Sullivan describes it here.

OT: Jake, the kid next door (age maybe 8) loves Harry Potter, and was comletely thrilled, when I moved in, to discover that I had all the Harry Potter books, and that he could borrow them any time he wanted. (He has. Several times each.) Naturally, he and I have talked about how much we are anticipating the arrival of no. 7.

So there was a knock on the door and it was Jake, and he had brought me a special lightning bolt tattoo, which I then proceeded to put on my forehead (where it remains), and got part of it in my hair (very funny, apparently), and he wants to race me to see who will finish it first (we are each getting copies in the mail tomorrow.)

I like my tattoo.

"If you believe that COIN involves winning hearts and minds, I advise you to pick up a copy of FM 3-24 (available from the University of Chicago Press, I believe)"

See here.

More easily and freely available here, or here, however.

It's not a question of whether Bush cares what others think, it's a question of whether serious opposition by mainstream politicians and pundits could have made the difference in 2002-2003.

i assert that Bush was going to have his war, regardless of what any pundit had to say about it. and i don't think there was any chance the GOP-controlled congress would have bucked him on it - again, regardless of what any pundit had to say.

If the vast majority of centrists had been against the war instead of supporting it, then there's a good chance it wouldn't have happened.

i think you give those centrists far too much credit. they're opposed now - having any effect ? nope.

"-- No, it doesn't. It only meant that if we were going to invade Granada,"

They do have good tapas, I hear. But NATO might take exception.

"then we could probably get away without having worked out, in detail, what to do if we somehow failed, since that was so completely unlikely. "

I don't think so. If Spain were a tiny Caribbean island, that would be different.

:-)

G'Kar: While it is true that the Shia dominate the Iraqi Police, efforts continue to clean them out and your claim that that cannot be done is your opinion.

You mean like cleaning the Catholics out of the Royal Ulster Constabulary?

Obviously not. There's no invisible "all" between "clean" and "them" in G'kar's statement.
I'm sorry, where did you think it was a good idea to ensure that 65% of the population have no representation in the police? South Africa, perhaps?
Probably in the same imaginary universe you imagine he said that in. Any reasonable reading, that didn't postulate that G'kar and the American Army were intentionally genocidal and choosing a strategy that wouldn't be a secret if it were in fact in place, is that he was faintly careless in phrasing, and that he meant "clean out the Shia militia members," not "clean out all the Shia," which is an interpretation utterly unjustified by any known facts.

"For a foreign occupation to think it can win a civil war by taking sides is an unhappy fantasy."

You've entirely made this up out the imaginary part of G'kar's comment, you know.

Thanks for the descriptive link, Ugh.

"the Narnian Ambassador can speak for himself"

And lo, he did!

Er, no. The Narnian Ambassador is the Ambassador from Narnia, where might also be found Calormen people, Archenlanders, people of the Eastern Ocean, talking animals, and so on.

The Ambassador from Narn, who was at one time G'Kar (prior to his becoming Citizen G'Kar, and otherwise), is the Narn Ambassador, not the "Narnian Ambassador." He might be found at Babylon 5, or wandering the universe, where also might be found the Centurai Ambassador, the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, and so on.

Narn =/ Narnian: two separate universes.

This concludes our brief look at the letter "N" in "Tours Of Other Universes." We now return you to your regularly scheduled flames.

A very interesting post, but the author leaves out the nuclear WMD argument for the war.

The evidence presented by Bush et al -- aluminum tubes, yellowcake, etc. -- was demonstrated, at the time, to be questionable at best.

For months leading up to the time we invaded, UN weapons inspectors were in country, and found nothing.

I don't mean to stir up this whole line of discussion yet again. I just want to point out that, at the actual time we invaded Iraq, there was good and ample evidence, readily available, that Iraq posed no nuclear threat to anyone, least of all the US.

Thanks -

One aspect of the recent political maneuvering in Iraq struck me as a bit odd. Namely, the branding that was being applied to the new political bloc being pursued by Prime Minister Maliki. This new front would (if consummated) be comprised of Maliki's Dawa Party, SIIC (formerly SCIRI) and the Kurdish parties. Essentially, this "new" political arrangement would closely resemble the current ruling coalition, with the Sadrist Current being excluded.

The curious part is that this new conglomerate was describing itself as the "moderate powers front" - a label that many in the White House and compliant press corp were repeating without qualification. Actually, the "moderate" label has become a more ubiquitous descriptive for these parties in general.

[...]

For example, SIIC's Badr Corp militia has been amongst the most violent and brutal throughout the past few years. This is true even if Badr's actions have been cloaked in the purifying garb of officialdom (due to Badr's incorporation into the government security apparatus) whereas the Mahdi Army has lacked such a shield. It was the Interior Ministry under SIIC's leadership that has been responsible for the drill-holes and obvious signs of torture found on many of the corpses littering Baghdad's streets. Unlike the Sadrists, SIIC is very closely tied to Iran and has been the most aggressive proponent of the creation of a separate Shiite region in the south of Iraq - the latter being a far more radical political move than any suggested by the Sadrist Current.

More:
http://americanfootprints.com/drupal/node/3585

SomeOtherDude and I are on the same wavelength; I was just coming here to post a link to Eric Martin's post about the so-called "moderate" coalition at the heart of the Maliki government.

While you're there, have a look at the previous post, which links to fester's post at Newshog putting the "reduced attacks in Anbar" talking point in perspective.

I'm sure the increasingly professional Badr Brigade Iraqi police have nothing to do with this:

[...]some days ago an off-the-grid prison was discovered in the Baghdad district of Kadhimiya, holding approximately 415 prisoners in its underground facility.

The prisoners inside reportedly date back to the tenure of the previous minister of the Interior, Bayan Jabr Solagh, who held that post from 2005 to 2006.
...
the facility is said to have contained over 600 people at one time, mostly Sunni Arabs, among them pilots, colonels, generals and other military officers who held positions of influence in the former regime, though many prisoners were also ordinary citizens.

Militia groups running the site reportedly execute prisoners periodically, leaving the population of the prison around 415 at the time of its discovery.
...
Slogger's contact speculates that the prisoners may have been detained by interior ministry forces with militia ties in 2005 or 2006, and subsequently disappeared in the Iraqi prison system. If that is true, the prisoners may have been photographed and recorded on file by Coalition forces at the time of their initial detention in 2005 or 2006, as a routine part of the prisoner intake process.

Another possibility is that militia members abducted the prisoners directly, and that they have not passed through any formal prisoner registration procedure with the Iraqi government.

More charges of U.S. troops killing unarmed prisoners.

Searching for a bright spot, I can only come up with this: Their fellow soldiers turned them in.

Bleak spot: A Lieutenant Col. was relieved of command over the incident, indicating at best he turned a blind eye. (silver lining: he was relieved of command.)

Cleek, you totally ignored my point--it's easier for a politician to oppose a war before it starts. Once it starts they become vulnerable to the "you don't support the troops" accusation and things have to become catastrophically bad before the average spineless congressperson feels it is safe to ignore that kind of criticism.

I don't think Bush in 2002-2003 was an actual dictator who could have invaded Iraq no matter what Congress or the press had to say about it. If the news media had done its job and if most of the Democrats and the more rational Republicans in Congress had done their patriotic duty and actually looked at the facts and acted on them, it was not inevitable that we would have invaded Iraq. Nor is it inevitable now that we will bomb Iran, even if Bush wants to. It may happen--if so, it'll be in part because the center, once again, didn't hold.

Plus your initial point was to lay reponsibility much more to the center mainstream than with the fringe right. I agree they are culpable in the sense of aiders and abettors, but they provided very little of the force that made it happen. Their failing was to go along so willingly -- dumping normal restraints and sanity in favor of the fringe right's warmongering.

Is it possible to mention the inhabitants of a certain European country 70 years ago without invoking Godwin?

Is it possible to mention the inhabitants of a certain European country 70 years ago without invoking Godwin?

Nope:

Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

Baa

I'll note here that I've got to run and may not be back online for some time (duration unknown, hopefully short). It has been a fascinating discussion, and I didn't want anyone to think that I was abandoning the field simply because I did not wish to discuss it any further. Thanks to all for the interesting comments.

I'm sorry to hear this, not least because, re-reading the thread, I note I didn't directly apologize for the unjustified conclusions I jumped to earlier. I apologize.

Just a quick comment referring to a rather lengthy post above. Anytime I see someone refer to BDS, I immediately downgrade the validity of anything else that is said.

While you're there, have a look at the previous post, which links to fester's post at Newshog putting the "reduced attacks in Anbar" talking point in perspective.

Then there is this, too: Reuters - Daily attacks in Iraq hit new high in June

While you're there, have a look at the previous post, which links to fester's post at Newshog putting the "reduced attacks in Anbar" talking point in perspective.

Then there is this, too: Reuters - Daily attacks in Iraq hit new high in June

Pacej001: "That, to me, was the only justification for this war: that a nuclear Iraq , free of UN sanctions, might (underline) be containable, but that the inevitable daisy-chain of proliferation among the ME nations would probably not be containable to the nation states in the region, meaning a great risk of undeterrable islamic radicals or covert state actors with access to nukes."

I was trying to concentrate on lessons that might be applicable next time, and wasn't so focussed on the particular points of debate in the runup to this war.

However, I thought the following things. First, while I believed until sometime around Jan. that Iraq had WMD (meaning chemical or bio. weapons), it always seemed to me that it was very, very unlikely that they had nuclear weapons. When I stopped being convinced (around Jan.) that Iraq had any WMD, that of course seemed to me a lot less likely. I've run through my reasons for skepticism before; if you'd like, I'll run through them again, but for now, I'll just move on.

(2) It really, really helped that I had some knowledge of Saddam Hussein before the runup to the war, and thus before people started adopting views about him because of which position they'd support. Everything I knew about him suggested that he was very, very unlikely to give any nuclear weapons to anyone else, if he had them. He was a control freak. He wanted to hold all possible sources of power very, very close. Moreover, if he had gotten nuclear weapons, one of their great advantages to him would precisely have been that other people nearby did not have them. It was enormously in his interests to keep the number of people with nukes as small as possible, so long as that number included him. Giving them away, or selling them, would have jeopardized that. (Here NK is plainly different: it needs to deter attack, which really only requires having nukes, not other people not having them; and who is it going to use nuclear superiority to intimidate? Russia? China? SK or Japan, both backed by us? Unlike IRAQ, NK has no disincentive to proliferation.)

(3) I also just could not see Saddam launching nuclear weapons at us. He didn't have the missiles. If he had gotten nukes, he would have had only a very small number, the sort that makes you reluctant to use them, since you'd be using up a sizable percentage of your entire deterrent capacity with each one. The costs to him would have been utter annihilation. He was very, very interested in making our stay in his vicinity miserable, and so forth. He was (as far as I could tell) not very interested in getting himself and his country destroyed.

(4) I also think it must be relevant that I was 30 when the Cold War ended. That means I spent a long time knowing that a completely unpleasant and hostile country had a lot more much deadlier weapons than Saddam would ever have pointed right at us, and that means that I found it just incomprehensible that a lot of people were, as far as I could see, so bent out of shape by the thought that one repellent dictator might have two or three nukes that they couldn't manage to think clearly about questions like: is he likely to use them? What will be the long-term consequences of invading, including the possible opportunity costs, and are they better or worse than the long-term consequences of letting Saddam stay in power, even with a couple of nuclear weapons? Etc.

Don't get me wrong: I was enormously relieved when he turned out not to have them. It's not that I liked the idea, or even found it anywhere remotely near OK. It's just that I thought you really had to ask a whole series of other questions before so much as approaching the conclusion that we ought to invade. And I couldn't see that the answers to those questions looked at all the way supporters of the war seemed to be assuming.

As for Anbar, you are correct that the possibility exists that the Sunni tribes there will return to trying to kill Coalition forces now that AQI has largely been driven from the province. We will know more in the coming months, as the province has become remarkably quiet of late. It is important to note, however, that recruiting for the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police has jumped by more than an order of magnitude since the 'Anbar awakening,' indicating that the tribal leaders may be willing to work with the GoI.

Let's see. We agree to train, arm, and pay sunnis to become an effective fighting force. And they stop fighting us while we do it, before we leave.

Coincidence or accident? You decide.

My apologies if I have missed anyone.

Nell,

You have every right to be proud of your predictive accuracy to date, and you're correct that you have been more correct than I. I will note, however, that I have tried very hard to refrain from making any predictions about what is going to happen in Iraq. I moved into this thread only because I wanted to express the viewpoint that the war has not already been lost, not to predict that it will be won. As I have said numerous times, I would bet on a loss, but I think that the chance of a win, however remote, does still exist.

My apologies for not having a source I can share with you regarding Anbar. I probably should not have brought it up.

Jesurgislac,

Thank you.

dmbeaster,

Some sectarian violence does not equate to all Kurds/Shia/Sunnis are ready, willing and able to kill one another. Note that there was no surge in sectarian violence following the second bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque.

J Thomas,

I'm afraid that's not actually how things happened in Anbar. That may still be a concern, but your description suggests a timeline at odds with what happened.

I dunno that the neocon stupidity's been discredited. All of the Republicans for president are running on stuff like "double Gitmo" and "Bomb Iran" and other equally mind-numbingly stupid ideas. And they've got a sizable block of voters who ALREADY blame the "stab in the back liberals" for "losing" Vietnam.

Nate: They haven't got the majority. Maybe you're going to get a HUGE surprise in 2008. I seriously doubt that any single Presidential candidate now contending OTHER THAN Barack Obama has a serious chance of winning. The public DO want serious change away from the present policies.

And, actually, I believe that the leadership in Washington are more aware of it, and more feaful of it than a lot of policy wonks like us are.

That's why I'm in serious dread of a sort of counter-revolutionary "October surprise" sometime this year, meant to benefit a Giuliani or a McCain. I don't expect the "neo-conservative," neo-fascist elements in Washington to yield to the public's desire for a revolution in policy without a fight--and, more probably, without the contrivance of a counterfeit "national emergency."

As for Anbar, you are correct that the possibility exists that the Sunni tribes there will return to trying to kill Coalition forces now that AQI has largely been driven from the province

Assuming those affiliated with the Anbar Sheiks have stopped targeting the Coalition, there still seem to be plenty of non-AQI affiliated locals still willing to fight.

It was a collective decision. In Washington there was overwhelming willingness to go to war, and the media swallowed the message that we needed to respond to the imagined threat--both because they were gullible and because the political wind was blowing that way. What does not surprise me is the passivity of the average voter. Cannot tell you how often people said to me that they supported the war as long as their children did not have to go. Most often these were prosperous, middle class parents of bright kids with good prosects. Had there been a draft in place they would have reacted. Absent any risk to their own family they consented in silence. These are the folks who contribute to campaigns, who have met Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi and Barbar Boxer, who expect to be heard on the important issues. Restore the military draft. Had it been in place we would have had huge marches against the war, prolonged Congressional debate on the merits of the proposition, and the media poking holes in the rationale for the attack.

Awesome post Hilzoy.

If we don't have confidence that a President can do this, we shouldn't go to war.

This remains the single most convincing apology from those who first supported, but don't now, the decision to invade. They say they couldn't imagine Bush would execute it so badly.

What in his history prior to the invasion convinced them he would all of a sudden become competent is entirely beyond me, though.

excellent analysis. one of the best i've read in this benighted decade of shameless hubris by those who assiduously avoid the possibility that they or theirs will ever hear a shot fired in anger.

And on your point #5, this is at least the SECOND time these people have been shown to be completely wrong. Remember Team B and the Committe on the Present Danger?

At least third, really. These are the same people who thought that dealing with Gorbachev was tantamount to suicide.

G'Kar: "Note that there was no surge in sectarian violence following the second bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque."

Maybe their knob doesn't go up to 11.

A Conservative Plan for Iraq

Anyone who questions the lack of a realistic and comprehensive Iraq strategy is labeled a friend of fascism by the Republican leadership. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) recently said, “I wonder if [Democrats] are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people.” Republicans are paralyzed with the fear of being thought ineffective on national security and the war.

Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership cannot seem to accept that—regardless of how we got there—we are in Iraq. They have not made a convincing case that an arbitrary phased or date-certain troop withdrawal is in the best long-term interest of the United States. Rather, they seem to think that withdrawal will undo the decision to have gone to war. Rubbing President Bush’s nose in Iraq’s difficulties is also a priority.

This political food fight is stifling the desperately needed public discussion about a meaningful resolution to the fire fight. Most Americans know Iraq is going badly. And they know the best path lies somewhere between “stay the course” and “get out now”.

Some Truths

READ MORE

http://controlcongress.com/uncategorized/a-conservative-plan-for-iraq

John Konop: They have not made a convincing case that an arbitrary phased or date-certain troop withdrawal is in the best long-term interest of the United States.

At the moment, it seems clear that the people who need to make their care are the people who think that breaking the US army is in the best long-term interest of the United States. If the US army is to be lost for a generation, what exactly is being accomplished with their utter destruction?

*follows the link*

I read the post you linked to, and I'm quite impressed by it, but one thing you don't deal with is that the US is running out of soldiers to send to Iraq. What's your estimate of how much longer the US occupation of Iraq can keep going? I really think that should be either an update or a followup. Further, none of your "New Directions" depend on keeping the the US military tied up in Iraq to its eventual destruction. So, why not get behind an immediate withdrawal?

and I'm quite impressed by it

Well, if a little "Yes, and I'd like a pony" too.

Hope you stick around. We need good conservative commenters on this blog...

[Democrats] have not made a convincing case that an arbitrary phased or date-certain troop withdrawal is in the best long-term interest of the United States.

Strange, then, that 70% of the public favors withdrawal.

And you might as well ditch that 'arbitrary'. The case has been made that U.S troops cannot achieve results worth their staying. Therefore their withdrawal will not be timed to anything that the Iraqi government or Iraqi "security forces" do. It will be timed to the ability to reach a political agreement to do so. Nothing any more arbitrary about that than there was about the timing of the invasion.

For an example of a convincing case that withdrawal -- complete withdrawal -- is in the national interest, I recommend Jim Webb's floor statement in favor of the Levin-Reed amendment.

Whether a case is convincing is obviously in the mind of the hearer, I've not heard a convincing case for staying in Iraq -- with the current mission -- since the adoption of the Iraqi Constitution.

Never substitute impugning someone's character for impugning his or her argument.

I hope you take this to heart in more than just war vs. anti-war matters.

There are way too many so-called liberal bloggers that believe the best way to attack someone is through baselessly impugning their character, or feel that baselessly impugning their character is a very reasonable tactic to take. You have blogrolled at least one website that if races/genders were reversed would be aptly called a hate site.

In the end this does none of us any good.

One cogent point missed was the lesson learned that Congress should never preauthorize a war giving an incompetent/corrupt administration time to ramp up the fear machine through it's chief acolyte Fox and press the administration to come back and ask for authorization at the time it will prosecute the war. Authorizing a blank check has proved to be a bad idea in everything else in life, so why should the serious business of war be an exception.

Gary Farber is absolutely correct in his synopsis on the representation from the Left who were complicit in the path to war. Unfortunately, no one on the Left sought out serious debate in Congress to put Bushy feet to the fire. The Left saw the issue as Black and White as well. And the reasons that were promulagate for the ANTI side were easily painted as being too Dovish, or Cheese Eating Surrender Monkies. Even Feingold failed here. He opposed vbut I don't recall his request for debate. Too many Lieberman Democrats populated the ranks with the additional fears of self-interest displayed when the authorization vote came up. In short when it comes to Iraq our entire government let us down with the obvious consequences.

I don't agree with the point, initially articulated by Gary and picked up by others, about complicity of the center. Mostly because I have been, and remain, annoyed by the telescoping of time, and washing out of nuance, on both sides of the discussion.

For each centrist/moderate/liberal/leftist one wants to count as a supporter of the war, one has to look at what they supported and when they supported it. (Pollack is, to my mind a good example -- I remember him writing in the Post that although he thought regime change a good idea, and fully warranted, he didn't think the time or method was right. I make no claim that he never changed his view on this . . .)

I never thought invasion was a good idea. If I'd been in Congress in October 2002, I would have voted for the resolution. I do not think these statements are inherently contradictory in the least.

I must respectfully disagree with my distinguished commenter colleague Mr. Carp.

At the time that the resolution on Iraq was introduced and debated, everyone in Washington understood that if it passed, Bush would have his war. Everyone understood that no matter what the regime was saying, he had made a decision for war. Including the politicians who wanted to pretend that all they were doing is strengthening his hand at the UN.

The crucial cave was by Tom Daschle, who as Senate Majority Leader could have prevented a vote on the resolution before the election, something he initially announced he would do. He was persuaded by the electoral 'strategists' in his party (most of them preparing presidential runs) that "getting the Iraq vote out of the way" would allow the Dems to focus on their preferred issues.

The war was, in fact, already on. The Southern Focus bombing campaign -- destruction of Iraqi communications, anti-aircraft, and command and control facilities under cover of "stepped-up enforcement of the no-fly zones" -- had been ongoing since May or June. News clips even in the U.S. gave clear indications of this; it was admitted after the invasion was over.

The drumbeat for war had been going on since the State of the Union ('axis of evil') message, continued by Bush and Cheney all summer at VMI and West Point and in front of the VFW.

Pat Lang and Tony Zinni appeared with others in a panel on the invasion of Iraq at VMI a week after the resolution passed Congress. Zinni was the only unambiguously anti-invasion speaker. Late in the question-and-answer session, which was dominated by antiwar questions, Lang said: "Look, in Washington this is regarded as a done deal. If you want to stop this war, you'd better get active politically."

CC: I don't agree with the point, initially articulated by Gary and picked up by others, about complicity of the center. Mostly because I have been, and remain, annoyed by the telescoping of time, and washing out of nuance, on both sides of the discussion.

The “telescoping of time” is a very good point. As well as I can remember, anyone not pro-war was marginalized in any way possible. I don’t think I participated directly in that, but I was surely complicit in it. It seemed so certain at the time, but when I look back now at bloggers or pundits or politicians who were against it, their arguments were clear and concise and obvious in hindsight. At the time though, they were obscured by some kind of red-haze of blood lust.

I'm not disagreeing with any of the facts given by Nell. There was another narrative at work, though. Bush had been backed down from pure unilateralism by Scowcroft (and God knows who behind the scenes) in August. He'd had to go the UN-Congress-UN route, and although we know better in hindsight, it wasn't completely clear in October 2002 that war would actually take place. I've never thought much of the president, but plenty of people believed that the grown-ups in the government (and the depth of their bad faith hadn't been revealed yet either) would use the congressional vote to get a UN resolution, and then play the game out in that way. Who knew that Blair would buy into the messianic vision, or Powell? Or even Cheney, at that point?

Bush's masterstroke, if you want to call it that, is the one thing he's ever been good at in his entire adult life: making the stakes of his failure so great that people who disagree with him have to step in on his side. That's powering a substantial but ever diminishing part of the support for the war even now: we have to keep going with the misison in Iraq to save the world from the full scope of the disaster Bush has caused. So it was -- on different scale -- in October 2002: there was plenty of reason to believe war might yet be averted (as I think there was reason all the way until the US rejected the Canadian proposal) but the consequences in Iraq, Afghanistan, elsewhere, of congressional rejection of the war resolution could be seen as very serious.

Now in handsight, we know that no consequences of voting no in October 2002 would be worse than the consequences of launching an insane war, and then compounding the insanity by adopting impossible war aims and refusing to declare victory on the various occasions when that might have been plausible.

In October 2002, though, a yes vote seems like it might even preclude war, by tying the US into the UN process.

I know this isn't how Nell saw it at the time, and I know that in the event the faith of centrists/moderates/liberals in the eventual triumph of basic common sense was misplaced. I don't think it's fair, though, to say that people who wrongly thought the war would be averted were in favor of the war.

OCS, I don't hold blood lust against anyone who wasn't in a position to act on it, and didn't behave like an assh*le. We pay people a whole lot, and have given them a whole lot of discretionary authority, to think things through, and not act in a haze of bloodlust. They failed, and then (now, in some cases) they wore that failure as a badge of honor.

Nell, although I would have voted for the resolution in October 2002, I wasn't sorry when both my senators voted against it. I'm glad to be part of a polity where they could do so and, as noted on the other thread, wish you were as well.

Nell: everyone in Washington understood that if it passed, Bush would have his war. Everyone understood that no matter what the regime was saying, he had made a decision for war.

Did they? Because my recollection was that in October 2002 the meme was still "We'll only invade if we HAVE to" - and I recall several people explaining to me that it was necessary to give Bush the authority to invade so as to convince Saddam Hussein that the US really meant it. The Downing Street Memo, which reveals that Bush & Co had made up their minds to invade Iraq by the summer of 2002, was (I thought) such a blow because it definitely proved Bush was lying well before the SOTU 2003 speech.

You may mean "Washington insiders" and that may be true.

it wasn't completely clear in October 2002 that war would actually take place. I've never thought much of the president, but plenty of people believed that the grown-ups in the government (and the depth of their bad faith hadn't been revealed yet either) would use the congressional vote to get a UN resolution, and then play the game out in that way. Who knew that Blair would buy into the messianic vision, or Powell? Or even Cheney, at that point?

Well, here I may have benefited from clear-eyed pessimism and acquired immunity to the 'grownups will take charge' narrative (which I believed in until about two months into the Cheney-Bush regime, and abandoned when it was they were governing as if they'd been elected in a landslide for the radical right).

It was clear to anyone reading what Blair was saying that he had bought into the messianic vision; by the time of the Congressional vote he'd made many speeches and statements (including during a September visit to Crawford) that explicitly supported Bush's call to war. [Hadn't his government already come out with the notorious '45 minutes' claim in the 'dodgy dossier'? Here I may be telescoping, so consider this data point dropped if so.]

No doubt I also benefited from having been in direct political combat with the neoconservatives as a specific, identifiable faction since 1980, starting with Central American issues. I was aware of PNAC, their claque in Congress, the open letter to Clinton, and the number and names of their supporters throughout the administration, including and especially Dick Cheney and his senior staff. You were actually in doubt where Cheney stood?

However, this information was also available to the public who hadn't had decades of implacable loathing for the neocons by the time of the Congressional vote, thanks to an influential column by Jay Bookman in September 2002, followed by a flurry of 'who and what are the neocons' articles. [I'll add that Pat Buchanan was first to make the call, but his column was not given the attention of Bookman's by anyone who wasn't a paleo-con.]


The 'Bush doctrine' expressed in the National Security Strategy published in September, which got prominent attention in the NYTimes and other major papers, was as clear an expression of a doctrine of 'preventive war' -- unilateral, unprovoked wars of aggression -- as you're going to get.

If the grownups had had any capacity to take charge, the linking of al Qaeda and Saddam would not have gone on, and on, and on, and kept popping up like a bad penny. Money and military assets were being diverted from Afghanistan to the planning and preparation for war in Iraq. (Here I may have had the advantage of knowing military people who were aware of some of these diversions, and finding them disconcerting. But there were also public signals aplenty. In the event, the truth turns out to be more extreme than the rumors at the time.)

Charley, to be clear: I believe you thought the war would be averted despite a Congressional resolution. I don't believe Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, or any of the rest of those who handed over Congress' war powers, actually believed it would be. They were and are Washington insiders, who were being told: it's inevitable, and you need to be on the safe side.

There's a timeline (with one really bad typo) of the "45 minute" claim here: BBC Politics. But in summary, the dossier was published 24th September 2002, and Blair made reference to the "45 minute" claim both in the foreword and when speaking to the House of Commons on the day of publication.

I wasn't in doubt about where Cheney stood, or Bush, or any of the neocons. On the advisability of war with Iraq. I never had any doubt about those people, with regard to the substance.

I didn't think -- and I still don't think you can say this about the senators* that you name -- that the government would blow off the UN in the way that it did. The experience with Afghanistan, and the then-new Bonn process, suggested the opposite. Yeah, they talked plenty of trash about the UN, but I thought, and I think plenty of other people here in DC thought, that at the end of the day we'd have either no war, or a war with a UN mandate and broader coalition (and narrower aims). Plenty of people overinterpreted the Scowcroft brushback, and George Sr.'s ability to influence events.


* I've no doubt they were being told what you say they were told. I've no doubt this was a factor. I'm agnostic on it being the controlling factor, for any of them.

Even including the dossier, I didn't think Blair was going to go without an explicit UN resolution, and I don't think even he knew he would until drive to get the second resolution failed.

I'm agnostic on it being the controlling factor, for any of them.

Yep. Here we're down to a simple, probably unresolvable difference in our assessment of what makes pols tick and how and what they think.

Evidence for my view: John Edwards and his advisor at the time (was it Shrum?) have admitted that the 'it's inevitable; get on the bus or be left behind' warning was controlling in his case -- despite Elizabeth's opposition.

Clinton's floor speech in favor of the Iraq resolution should be re-read by anyone who wants to claim she sincerely believed war would be averted by UN opposition. She wasn't just in favor of the resolution; she was in favor of the invasion.

CharleyCarp: I didn't think Blair was going to go without an explicit UN resolution, and I don't think even he knew he would until drive to get the second resolution failed.

FWIW: I think Blair had made up his mind to go along with Bush, while hoping that (a) he could get the House of Commons to vote for for war (a-1) and that he wouldn't win the vote in the Commons while losing the vote of his party, and (b) really, really hoping for a UN resolution to make legal the decision to invade.

I'm trying to find when Charles Kennedy said "Tony Blair is no more than George Bush's poodle" - it was certainly early 2003, if not before, but it became so widespread, so fast, I had to look it up to find out who originated it, though Steve Bell's cartoons in the Guardian brought it lasting fame. Anyway, by the time of the "poodle" jibe it was clear that Blair intended to bring the UK into the Iraq war, with or without a UN resolution to justify it.

You asked for thoughts so here's a suggested 11) ...

"Talking tough should not be confused with actually being tough." Real toughness begins with self-control. Bragging and talking trash are danger signals, not signs of resolve."

decrepitoldfool (somehowidontthinkthatsentirelyaccurate): good point. Thanks.

Here we're down to a simple, probably unresolvable difference

Not much of an echo chamber, is it?

;- )

Jes is correct about Blair. And thanks for the info on the dodgy dossier timing, J.

So much happened in September 2002 that it's quite understandable that the entire prewar period gets telescoped in memory. In hindsight, that makes it even more clear how planned-out it was.

Two moments stand out with intense clarity for me; both were while reading the New York Times. An 'administration official' in an article about the new National Security Strategy and Bush's proposed war resolution (which in its original version authorized attacking any country in the region) that 'the President would brook no opposition' on it. I thought to myself, "Brook no opposition?!? Who elected him emperor of the world?"

I think that was Sept. 20 or 21. The other was four or five days later, reading that Daschle announced there would after all be a vote on the Iraq war resolution. It felt exactly as if I had been kicked in the stomach, hard. I knew then that Dems would get pasted in the elections and that it would now be impossible to avoid Bush's illegal and probably endless war.

And here we are! And, while I'm reliving crucial moments in 2002 -- it was five years ago to the day -- it's the very hour -- that a friend called me up to ask about what national organizations were doing to oppose the possible invasion.

Not much of an echo chamber, is it?

*Hah. All you lefties are all the same.

*(OCSteve)

Further support for Jes's assessment of Blair's thinking, since a Timothy Garton Ash column prompted hilzoy's post, is a TGA column from September 2003 which, while expressing grave reservations about the course of the occupation, affirms that Blair's fundamental decision -- to stick by Bush no matter what -- was correct. (You might say that TGA was the poodle's poodle. ;>)

J Thomas,

I'm afraid that's not actually how things happened in Anbar. That may still be a concern, but your description suggests a timeline at odds with what happened.

G'Kar, how is my statement incompatible with the timing?

They say they're going after AQI and that they aren't fighting us, and we give them weapons and training and we talk like they're good guys now who're on our side. Is there something about this travesty that doesn't fit the facts?

To come back to the present, and the convincing case for withdrawal, I see (via Sullivan) that at least one http://amconmag.com/2007/2007_07_16/article1.html>conservative has come around to my view on how to get out of this mess.

Really, the most important thing we should learn from all this is that 9/11 was an inside job, and that the masterminds behind it were Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Evidence for my view: John Edwards and his advisor at the time (was it Shrum?) have admitted that the 'it's inevitable; get on the bus or be left behind' warning was controlling in his case -- despite Elizabeth's opposition.

I wish John would just stand down and let Elizabeth run.

Thanks -

"Do you have others? Any thoughts?"

11. Terrible things inevitably happen in war. Therefore, war must be a matter of necessity rather than choice.

12. No army is capable of nation building during an insurgency.

@russell - So do I, but there's the question of whether she could finish her term.

The analysis on the surface seems impressive but on further contemplation it contains many flaws. First, the analysis, like most, neglect to describe that the sanctions against Saddam were failing and that the French and Russians were actively trying to remove them, so they could engage in above board, rather than, illicit commerce with Iraq. Retiring the sanctions would give new life to Saddam Hussein, who was positioned to revive his WMD manufacturing. This was confirmed by post-war investigation. Under the circumstances, and following 9/11, war was a reasonable response. I do criticize Bush for failing to voice all the reasons behind the war. He has the worst PR group of any president in recent memory.

Second, the post-war in Iraq was handled miserably, beginning with the looting. It was almost as if we had a PC approach to war. However, we get to experience war in real time and us monday morning quarterbacks can sit back and carp instantaneously.

Third, my concern is while certain people including myself foresaw an easier time in rebuilding/recasting Iraq, the converse now holds sway that it is a losing battle and let's cut losses and leave. The Vietnam war, part 2. But we never pulled out of Vietnam until we negotiated a peace accord with North Vietnam. And we would have achieved a stalemate like Korea had the post Watergate Democrats sold out S. Vietnam by breaking the Nixon promise of air support. Look at the aftermath of our betrayal of S. Vietnam, both direct and indirect: boat people by the tens of thousands, brutalisation of S. Vietnamese, cambodian genocide. Can we expect anything better in Iraq?

The odd thing about all of this war is the general fatigue and malaise as the loss of troops is a fraction of Vietnam or Korea. We have not lost the war yet and there are positive developments in the last couple of months. We have been there for only 4 years and for some this is too long. Counterinsurgency campaigns often require a decade or more. Yet we have had troops stationed in Korea for over 50 years and there is no outcry that it is time for a pull out.

Now that every anti-war person proclaims their vindication, great; let's get back to the reality of weighing the benefits costs of either staying or pulling out.

When the war was launched, the Administration did not predict that it would last a decade or more. If it really was inevitable that it do so, they should have said so.

I am inclined to say that the major lesson is that you should try to figure out how to fight a counter-insurgency campaign before one starts, rather than afterwards.

That said, I think people are using the word “never” a bit too freely e.g. “never fight a war of choice”.

Chamberlain chose to fight Germany, Lincoln chose to fight the Confederacy, the American revolutionaries chose to fight George III…Genghis Khan chose to invade China…

If a lesson is universally applicable it applies to all wars, not just the ones you think went well/ badly.

BTW – I am a bit sceptical about this claim that guerrilla wars are always long wars – Saddam crushed the Shiite revolt quickly enough in 1991.

I am a bit sceptical about this claim that guerrilla wars are always long wars

This claim has not, to my knowledge, been made. The claim that insurgencies always take a long time to put down, however, is a well-established fact. The Shia uprising in 1991 was not an insurgency, therefore the fact it was put down quickly really has no bearing on the question of how long it takes insurgencies to be put down. The Shia uprising was a valuable example of why people choose insurgency over open war.


I am conservative. I think that this article points out what any true conservative feels about the American Foreign Policy under this administration, i.e., it was hijacked by a particularly arrogant, ignorant, ill-informed, and dangerous clique called the Neo-Cons.

It will take 20 years to undo what these charachters have fashioned and we could reap destruction tens of millions of lives to correct what these fools have sown.

All of this was foreseeable. All of this was foreseen. These imperious and clueless fools dressed U.S. foreign policy up in Imperial Purple, a fact that infuriates me every time I think about it and led the country into possibly the greatest foreign policy blunder we have ever committed.

The Snowcroft policy analysis was completely correct as was the Sinsheki military analysis. Instead of listening to these men of substance, the Administration chose to follow the simplistic visions and policies of know-nothing posers and bullies like Cheney and Rumsfeld and their sycophants. It makes my blood boil.

It is sad that the lesson of Vietnam is not taught. THe lesson is twofold:

1. Militarily we won (had eliminated the insurgency in South Vietnam) and were helping a fledgling government (sort of democratic but not communist) to defend itself from no longer an insurgency, but invasions (150,000 troops at a time) from the Communist North Vietnam.

2. Our Congress (Democratic Party controlled) and western MSM media had lost the war and decided to hand over to North Vietnam a country (South Vietnam) by not supporting the South at all, in any way.

The lesson: Democrats in the US have no reason to not allow a country to become Communist (today Islamic Theocracy). The Western Media believes in this, and that the US and the West should fail, and be replaced by Communist or left-leaning or anything else aggressive enough to take over (read Islamic Theocrats).

It is this lesson that applies directly to our situation today. Whether we are winning militarily or not is not the issue.

The issue is solely: we must fail, we must get out now, failure will show the world how inept democracy is, how the US is not a superpower, how bad we really are, we go in then cause worse consequences when we leave, the US is unrtustowrothy, etc.

This is the agenda of the Democrats in the US, the leftists, and the media. It is well underway. We will succeed in duplicating the defeat of Vietnam as defined above.

The consequences of the fall of South Vietnam will be the same here today, dominos of neighboring nations will fall, get into wars with one another, millions will be killed, and genocide and religious cleansing will be had for all. The names will be changed but the end results will be the same. Destruction of countries, collapse of economies by the takeover of centrally controlled economies (Islamic Theocrats are remarkably similar in economic patterns as Communists were in South East Asia 40 years ago.)

Lets see: Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam have the lowest economies of anyone in the South East Asian area and in fact the lowest economies, outside of Africa, in the world.

Iran has succeeded in reducing its economy to oil only and at a lower GNP than before the fall of the Shah 25 years ago. That is your model for what will happen.

Not to mention if Iran gets a significant part of Iraq (the Shiite south for example.) That has always been the start of a Persian empire, with all that that entails. Plus nuclear weapons, that is a recipe for disaster in about 5 years. I do not envy the President and Congress when that happens. We will be in a lot worse position to fight them and it will require World War II like efforts to end it then.

Unless, we can stabilize Iraq to the point where they can then takeover their own role in the middle east without really being threatened by Syria and Iran.

Yes, it will require that we learn the lessons of Vietnam and refuse to just allow such a thing to happen in Iraq. It means long term support ala what we had to do in Europe. But it will be a lot less costly in the long run than WWW III with a nuclear Iran - an Iran with a policy of "If we lose a few dozen millions that is not a problem since there are billions of Moslems."

Following up on TOC's comment, what's especially galling about the Iraq war is that it was a very bad idea by the usual liberal _and_ conservative ways of thinking.

What color is the sky in your world Ollie?

G'kar - why was the Shia uprising not called an insurgency?

Yet we have had troops stationed in Korea for over 50 years and there is no outcry that it is time for a pull out.
Is there a civil war going on in South Korea? How many US troops are being killed every day by insurgents, terrorists, friendly fire, or other causes in South Korea? How many South Korean civilians are being killed per day?

I think you're wrong on most particulars.

People did not listen to War critics because they had been spectacularly wrong:

Wrong on the policy of 90's ignore terrorism and appeasement.

Wrong on predicting disaster in Afghanistan (Hersh was predicting quagmire in Newsweek days before Kabul fell). Wrong on predicting quagmire in the initial war against Saddam (again Newsweek predicted quagmire during the three day for the sandstorm in the run up to Baghdad).

Simply put, critics had zero credibility being spectacularly wrong. Wrong in a way everyone could see. Wrong on the order of bodies plunging off the WTC and the collapse. We could see the WTC collapsing and knew the old policies and old critics were spectacularly wrong.

Second, broadly speaking the Iraq War was understood as: Muslims are not afraid of us and commit massive terror attacks against us, they need their asses kicked, Iraq will do.

Since 1979 at least Muslims have been attacking the US with impunity. Leading Americans to be very angry and supporting almost anything that would have Muslim ass kicked. Saddam, Iran, it wouldn't much matter and after Afghanistan and the pause at the Pakistani nuclear umbrella people wanted something more.

Overall the Iraq War will be a disaster. Withdrawal/surrender/retreat at the cost of a "mere" 3-4K dead will convince every Muslim that the US is indeed weak and can be attacked with impunity. With Iran racing towards nukes and Pakistan tottering to Zawahari (remember HIM?) this is a disaster. It puts a giant "NUKE ME" sign on every American city and we will see our cities nuked by one of them.

What then? IMHO the time for restrained reaction to mass casualty terror attacks has passed (due to Bush bungling). The reaction will be to kill massive amounts of Muslims, and will in any case be the only sane reaction.

Once the US is hit with nukes (terrorists have escalated since 1979 steadily upwards) unless we show concretely why it's a suicidal idea we would be hit again and again and again.

What has happened is that politics have failed: our oceans no longer protect us, ugly and dangerous men can kill great amounts of us with impunity. And the only alternative is mass killing AFTER we lose cities.

HAD War critics offered a realistic alternative to Iraq, i.e. "let's kick Saudi Ass" or "let's nuke Pakistan to get bin Laden and their nukes" we could have simply packed up and gone home. Showed strength and deterred the real enemy which is Muslims. Even if it would have been a un-PC thoughtcrime to speak the actual truth: Muslims are our enemies and will remain so.

Jim Rockford: note that I specified particular people who were not listened to, and that the examples I used were not, say, the folks at ANSWR (or whatever the acronym was), but Scowcroft and Webb. These are not people who had been spectacularly wrong in the way you describe. They just aren't.

Also, about this "our oceans no longer protect us" stuff: that has been true since the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile. It is not something we suddenly realized on 9/11. Our entire foreign policy during the Cold War was an effort to keep ugly and dangerous men from killing great amounts of us despite the fact that we had, and could have, no defenses in the usual sense.

I just wish we had remembered about that.

On reflection, substitute "large chunks of our foreign policy" for "our entire foreign policy". Hyperbole: bad.

First, the analysis, like most, neglect to describe that the sanctions against Saddam were failing and that the French and Russians were actively trying to remove them, so they could engage in above board, rather than, illicit commerce with Iraq.

OK, if we have to revisit this stuff once again, let's have it.

My first question: did we first attempt stricter enforcement of / renegotiation of the sanctions, prior to war? If not, why not?

I look forward to your reply.

It was almost as if we had a PC approach to war.

I'd say, it was almost as if we had an utterly careless approach to war. YMMV.

let's cut losses and leave.

If you care to honestly engage the position of folks who advocate leaving, I believe you will find their point of view to be "we will only make things worse by staying, so let's leave".

Can we expect anything better in Iraq?

No. And, from the point of view of the national interest of the US, we can expect far worse.

Yet we have had troops stationed in Korea for over 50 years and there is no outcry that it is time for a pull out.

Quite so. This might cause a thoughtful person to consider, what is different between Korea and Iraq?

It is sad that the lesson of Vietnam is not taught.

Here are the lessons I learned from Vietnam. YMMV.

We intervened in an internal civil conflict. Bad idea.

We began by supporting a local proxy that was corrupt and not well supported by the local population. Bad idea.

We escalated our involvement to include large numbers of US troops based on a lie. Bad idea.

We proceeded with a military strategy that, on the face of it, could not succeed, because it refused to take and hold enemy territory. Bad idea.

We continued to pursue the war long after decision makers recognized it could not be won on any terms we were able or willing to engage in. Bad idea.

Some, but not all, of these lessons apply to Iraq.

Unless, we can stabilize Iraq to the point where they can then takeover their own role in the middle east without really being threatened by Syria and Iran.

Sounds right to me. IMO it will take the 400K Shinseki originally asked for, plus some. Call it a half million.

That means a draft and hell of a lot of money. If you're under 40, it means you'll probably go, if you're not already there. If you have kids under 40, it means they will go, if they're not already there.

It'll cost you, personally, thousands of dollars.

Want to sign up for that?

Also, about this "our oceans no longer protect us" stuff: that has been true since the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile.

It goes back before that. William McKinley was assassinated by a self-professed anarchist in the very early 20th C.

19 guys with box cutters and a half million bucks. There is no army, no matter how large, that will protect us from that.

Thanks -

"The most probable consequence of rapid U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in its present condition is a further bloodbath, with even larger refugee flows and the effective dismemberment of the country."

That is actually far from the most likely scenario to those of us who understand Iraq and its society, and the on-the-ground reality there since March, 2003.

I have written a reality based, common-sense analysis of this question, which you can read here.

In short, things will continue to deteriorate in Iraq as long as the U.S. remains there. As soon as the U.S. leaves there will be a significant reduction in violence, destruction and killing, since U.S. occupation forces are the number one single source of death for Iraqis. Even if the violence between Iraqis increases, which is by no means guaranteed (the U.S. is also widely viewed by Iraqis and others as provoking much of the violence between Iraqis), it is extremely unlikely that it would equal the reduction guaranteed by the absence of U.S. forces.

It is very unlikely that a withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces would result in a greater bloodbath than the one the U.S. forces are largely causing. I explain in some detail some of the reasons for that in the piece I linked to.

Sorry - I knew I should have previewed to make sure the link worked.

russell @ 10:17 - Great post. The last line especially succinct, poetic and on the mark.

Greetings,
Im really not that good with words, please forgive
any grammer mistakes. :)

1. the 1st lesson of 9/11, is we and the rest of the
world can no longer afford,to humor these idiots in the mideast. its just too expensive, in human terms, to ignore groups. Like Al-queda, hamas, the popular movement for the ejaculation of palestine.they are serious about fighting
the "Great Satan".

2. the looters, would you rather, our troops to start shooting them on national T.V. Because that is the only efective action, to stop the looters.

3.Since i was born (1969) there has been a serious problem, with Islamic Terrorists. We must solve this problem. The Jihadists, only respect strenght, and the will to use it.

4. What, you think its easy, to invade a country, then rebuild it?

5. If we give up, and come home. without changing the Mid East, into a more moderate societys, Where jihad and
killing the infidels is not so common and acceptable. Then the next attack on us, and do not doubt, the jihadist will
attack again.
Then we will be forced to take a more drastic action
against them. and the countrys that support them.
Nagasaki-type actions.

Just my opinion, i could be wrong.
Tony
South Haven,MI

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