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September 22, 2007

Comments

Thanks.

Good luck.

Stay safe.

Stop the jizya.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jizya

Good article. My only critisism is that it sounds a bit blame-gamey. I don't think we get to invade their country, depose their government, fail to provide security, and then blame them when it doesn't all magicly work out.

What do you do?

The man asked how saving a few, when so many were doomed, would make any difference whatsoever? The boy picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean and said "Made a difference to that one..."

Yes, our immoral occupation of Iraq, is not *as* inhumane as it could be for them, I'll bust out the flags.

JackN7: Who, exactly, do you think is expecting you to bust out the flags? And who, exactly, is trying to justify the occupation? Since G'Kar disclaimed both aims explicitly, it might have been a good idea to explain why you think that was, in fact, his goal, or (alternately) who else you were addressing.

Otherwise, people might think you were just imagining things, or projecting your own assumptions about what conservatives, or members of the military, or someone, thinks onto others. And it would be uncharitable to leap to that conclusion without giving you the chance to explain.

JackN7: Hilzoy beat me to it and said it in a much politer way.

G’Kar: It doesn't sound like much. It probably isn't much. But few of us are destined to make a big difference in life; if I can make a little difference, that has to count for something.

Enough seemingly small things can add up to make a big difference. Thanks for taking the time to share this.

JackN7: Hilzoy and OCSteve beat me to it. Same to Frank in that there is no blame-gamey involved here at all.

G'Kar, as usual an excellent post.

There are positive stories coming out of this fiasco, but most importantly, IMHO, is that the purpose of this post is met.

There are too many that criticize the troops that participte in this mess, but this gives an example of why so many of them do, or at least what they see themselves being able to accomplish.

One quick note:"In a city east of here there's a new textile factory that will provide jobs to 50 townspeople, built by Iraqis using American dollars."

The key here is that it was built be Iraqis using American dollars, not by Americans using American dollars. Too much of this type of work was done in a way that most of th American dollars came back to these shores.

Again, stay safe.

The problem is that if you come to this without any previous knowledge of G'Kar it does look a bit like a "see, we painted schoolhouses!" post, or a DaveC rant claiming that there's lots of good news just the media aren't paying attention to it. I'd give G'Kar the benefit of the doubt, but I think it's understandable that someone just driving by might not.

What it does though is confirm some accounts I heard in the early days of the occupation, that actually a lot of practical and useful stuff got done at grassroots level, with local US military units being given money to spend on behalf of the Iraqis. (And on an non-funded level: I saw soldiers asking people to send them school supplies and so on to give to Iraqi children.)

No one on the anti-war side (as far as I know) has argued with any seriousness that the reason the US have lost the war they are fighting in Iraq is because the US soldiers who were sent to Iraq were evil or incompetent. (Badly trained or untrained for the occupation, but that's not the same thing.)

(The pro-war side has certainly tried to make that argument, claiming that the atrocities committed by US soldiers were because of the "bad apples" in the US military, or that the commanding officers were incompetent or gave bad advice to Bush, etc.)

If anything, what G'Kar's post, and his citation of the Vietnam village that survived the war to remember the Marines who built the well: Untrained competence and goodwill are not enough. They speak well of individuals: the million dead and the four million refugees, in a country of 27 million, says what the US occupation is really worth.

Jes: you think his first paragraph wasn't explicit enough?

Hilzoy, the US occupation of Iraq is a monstrous brutality that is going on right now.

I take G'Kar's introductory paragraph at face value.

I can see, however, why a drive-by poster would react badly. It's not as if this is by an Iraqi looking for what grace can be found in the US occupation.

I hear a lot about unemployment being bad in Iraq, but I never thought to translate that into actual hunger.

I'd have to be pretty hungry to eat 40 tons of flour.

It would have been interesting to hear a little story about one of these decent Iraqi types, I'm sure you have some real people in mind.

I didn't see any introduction for G'Kar before he started posting recently, is he new here or not?

I am sure that G'kar, and most people on both sides, for that matter, are decent enough people. My point is: is his being there better than him not being there. If the answer is no (and I think it is) than great: his presence is not as detrimental to welfare of the Iraqi people as it could be, where does that get us?

Hilzoy: no one is, and no one is. I'm not addressing I'm emoting.

I'm not projecting, I'm stating the facts as they are. The war and occupation has been very, very bad, yes they could of been worse, hell most immoral occupations could be worse then they were.

Being from the future, it was child's play for me to hack into Obsidian Wings and begin posting. And since I am nominally 'right-wing', the hive mind chose not to object for the sake of balance.

G'Kar is a perfect example of why the terms "right wing" and "left wing" are obsolete. As are some others here.

Stay safe, G'Kar.

Hey, watch it, Miller...you trying to ruin my gig here?

G'Kar,


This may be a silly question, but why were American soldiers moving the flour anyway? Wouldn't it have made more sense to pay local Iraqis to do that? That would have introduced some cash into the local economy, given people a bit of work, and freed up US forces for other things. What am I missing here?

G'Kar: "Let me begin with the standard disclaimers...."

I think these are excellent, and should begin every one of your posts. In fact, everyone in blogdom should use them.

Which, nonetheless, will immediately result in this, from a Frank:

My only critisism is that it sounds a bit blame-gamey. I don't think we get to invade their country, depose their government, fail to provide security, and then blame them when it doesn't all magicly work out.
Also, damn you for all the tooth decay. I hate tooth decay.

G'Kar:

[...] I can't make the Iraqi government work any better. I may not even be able to do much to make the Iraqi Army work any better. But I can try to help those Iraqis who want to make their country better succeed in their own small ways, and I can take advantage of my own position to directly aid Iraqis it is in my power to help. It doesn't sound like much. It probably isn't much. But few of us are destined to make a big difference in life; if I can make a little difference, that has to count for something.
It does.

We do what we can. One of the mantras of my life.

"The problem is that if you come to this without any previous knowledge of G'Kar it does look a bit like a 'see, we painted schoolhouses!' post, or a DaveC rant claiming that there's lots of good news just the media aren't paying attention to it."

It so doesn't. I mean, not in the "if you can read" sense.

Sorry, I suppose I should have read through all the comments first.

Argh, though, I'd like to think Jes wouldn't be so utterly knee-jerk, but, no.

"I'm not projecting, I'm stating the facts as they are."

Yeah, but they're not directly relevant. Not every mention of a thing compels a larger statement about it. Not every mention of the war compels a statement of opposition to it. It's apposite when a statement favoring the war is made; since that was disclaimed here, such a statement is unnecessary, and, absent disclaimer, seems more of an attack on the speaker, for no apparent reason, than anything else.

Moral wrath should invite self-examination as much as it does attacks on others.

G'kar, I'm genuinely glad to hear of good works over there, and hope you get more such opportunities.

In some ways, actually, that kind of experience makes a good anchor for some sensible thinking about the costs of a foreign policy, precisely because it's the sort of thing that lots of us are happy to think of our tax dollars supporting. The questions for advocates of this policy or that are "How much does it cost to do the good being done here?", "How much does it cost to make the underlying situation possible?", and "What else is there that needs doing?" There's always going to be more good that could be done, so we end up balancing the costs, and the complications.

To imagine that all Iraqis are evil, or that all soldiers are evil, is to be bigoted. We have enough bigotry to go around already.

I don't know if there was any way to make this whole thing work. Would a half million troops have made it possible? A million troops? If we could have provided security from day one, would the Iraqis now have a country instead of a civil war?

G'Kar moving flour counts - any good that we do, however small, remains a good done. Will it affect the outcome of this occupation? No, it is already a disaster, and it will be a worse disaster before it gets better.

Maybe G'Kar will influence a few Iraqis to think well of us when we leave; to remember that some of us tried to do good. Even so, the effects of the occupation and its aftermath will endure far longer.

We don't get to unshit the bed.

Jake

While I was paying attention to other things, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,296450,00.html>this story came out, in a venue I'm likely to miss. It's plausible enough, I guess, and one would expect a Fox story about Admin thinking to be well, even if anonymously, sourced.

I'm afraid, G'Kar, if this kind of thing really gets underway, the modest good you're doing will be swept away in 'birth pangs' of one sort or another.

CC, you are not the only one who is afraid of that.

G'Kar, I would never want to ruin your gig here. You represent what I hope is a growing portion of the population, one which isn't knee jerk reaction to anything the "other side" says. And I speak of both sides.

To expand on what Bruce mentioned, it would be great if this administration, or in fact any administration realized that 40 tons of flour can make more difference than any number of bombs.

When my son was over there he did not have quite as much opportunity to interact with the local population as you do, but he teied as much as he could. He told me about taking the children of an Iraqi who worked with his company on a short fishing expedition. He said their response was so gratifying it made him feel a little better about being in a situation that he basically believed was a disaster of our making.

"While I was paying attention to other things, this story came out, in a venue I'm likely to miss."

Couldn't be more pointed, could it?

Actually, John, I just have a knee-jerk reaction against everything either side says.

And I'll note that I think I must have expressed myself poorly in the post. I don't expect that anything I do will in any way make up for the larger disaster that is modern Iraq or to somehow atone for the U.S.'s failures there...about the only way I know of to do that would be to get killed over here, if you're a fan of Lincolnesque justice math. All I wanted to do in the course of this post is to express what drives me to do what I do in Iraq as an example of how soldiers may think.

And I think most of us understood that.

If my son goes back (which he feels is a guarantee even though he is now part of a non-deployable unit)I know that the only thing that will drive him is being able to make a difference in the lives of some Iraqi's.

And I imagine that your basic knee-jerk reaction is "ptui" (although maybe slightly different in a non-postable way.)

It doesn't sound like much. It probably isn't much.

On the contrary, G'Kar, it's nearly everything. Choosing to be the difference you want to see is so much more than most folks ever do, and you're a hero in my eyes for caring enough to be that change. Thanks for the post.

Thanks for the update, G'Kar. Speaking of Bing West, he has a post at Small Wars Journal, where he links to his full-length piece in The Atlantic [may be behind a subscription wall].

Charles, dude...long time no read...you become a Democrat yet? ;-)

First of all, excellent post, G'Kar.

Now for the off-topicness...

CC: Thanks for the pointer. Apparently Cernig was right on top of it at the time (I also happened to miss this at the time, JFTR).

Money quote:

Political and military officers, as well as weapons of mass destruction specialists at the State Department, are now advising Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the diplomatic approach favored by Burns has failed and the administration must actively prepare for military intervention of some kind. Among those advising Rice along these lines are John Rood, the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; and a number of Mideast experts, including Ambassador James Jeffrey, deputy White House national security adviser under Stephen Hadley and formerly the principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.

Consequently, according to a well-placed Bush administration source, "everyone in town" is now participating in a broad discussion about the costs and benefits of military action against Iran, with the likely timeframe for any such course of action being over the next eight to 10 months, after the presidential primaries have probably been decided, but well before the November 2008 elections.

Oh, and just to remind everyone that the source is Fox News:

Vice President Cheney and his aides are said to be enjoying a bit of "schadenfreude" at the expense of Burns. A source described Cheney's office as effectively gloating to Burns and Rice, "We told you so. (The Iranians) are not containable diplomatically."

This, coupled with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's recent exercise in passive-aggressive brinkmanship (to say nothing of Bush's new [French] poodle President Sarkozy's) adds to my conviction that some kind of attack on Iran in the very near future is inevitable, regardless of what Steve Clemons and the foreign policy elite want to believe. Cernig closes the stable door on that pony here.

And now I shall end my contribution to this off-topic digression (and pine for a fresh open thread).

Again, great post, G'Kar.

that'll be the day...

oops, above in response to Edward; is that you the NY Art Gallery Edward?

But I can try to help those Iraqis who want to make their country better succeed in their own small ways, and I can take advantage of my own position to directly aid Iraqis it is in my power to help. It doesn't sound like much. It probably isn't much. But few of us are destined to make a big difference in life; if I can make a little difference, that has to count for something.

Actually, it is doing a lot in relation to what your unit can do. It is the meaning of "tactic" -- that small measures are honed to work as best as possible because of their potential cumulative effect.

The problem in Iraq has always been at the top -- a lack of any coherent strategy followed by years of lying about the failure of the strategy. Successful tactics cannot have much hope to overcome that defect. The Viet Nam reference is very apt -- a small act of lasting goodwill that could not overcome the basic strategy problem in Viet Nam of being on the side of corrupt former colonial collaborators against a populist movement.

Matttbastard, despite the title ("Why Bush won't attack Iran"), I didn't find the Clemons piece reassuring. It's definitely not "Why there won't be a war with Iran", since it spends a fair amount of space on the possibility that Ahmadinejad or Cheney, or just random accident, will get a war started despite Bush's feelings. And a lot of Clemons' reasons why Bush supposedly won't attack boil down to "It would be crazy to attack Iran" -- forgive me if I don't find that convincing after experiencing the last six years.

This post brought tears to my eyes.


Years and years ago my sister and I went on a hitchhiking trip around Europe. I have a little snapshot memory in my head of the two of us and a pair of very old ladies, chatting at a bus stop in some little town somewhere. When the ladies realized Anne and I were Americans they appproached us, with tears in their eyes, and held our hands while they said, "Thank you" over and over. They meant "thank you " for helping in WWII.

That's they way I want people to think of my couuntry. I want us to fight for the things that are right, to be the good guys, to be of be of genuine help. If we had stayed committed to Afganistan, if we had put a clinic in every village, replanted the forests, supplied vet meds and breeding stock, rebuilt the irrigation systems, I'd be an enthusiatic supporter of our mission there.

But we pissed it all away.

So I am very grateful to the soldiers that manage to do something good for the Iraqis while they are there. Thanks for the post, G'Kar.

G'Kar: And I'll note that I think I must have expressed myself poorly in the post. I don't expect that anything I do will in any way make up for the larger disaster that is modern Iraq or to somehow atone for the U.S.'s failures there...about the only way I know of to do that would be to get killed over here, if you're a fan of Lincolnesque justice math. All I wanted to do in the course of this post is to express what drives me to do what I do in Iraq as an example of how soldiers may think.

No, I don't think you expressed yourself badly in this post (re-reading it, I think you expressed yourself very well). I think I have so much tangled horrible painful ugly feelings about the occupation of Iraq (and though I don't write about that much here, about my country's part in it) that my reaction to a post about Iraq is going to be as much about my feelings, if not more so, than about what you wrote.

G'Kar that was a beautiful post and if anything is to salvaged out of this debacle it will be because of men and women like you who reach out to help, not as occupiers, but as fellow human beings.

This is precisely the sort of operations we should focusing on instead of chasing down insurgents, however they're defined these days. One factory won't erase the pain of the thousands of innocents who died, but for those 50 Iraqis who have a job now, it will at least leave a postive impression of individual Americans. That's important and I'm glad that at least some of you have an opportunity to build good will instead of being forced to kill.

I don't think you expressed yourself badly. But since no one got what I was driving at clearly I did. Here are a couple of quotes from your excellent story; "There are a lot of Iraqis here who are risking their lives to make their country a better place." "But I can try to help those Iraqis who want to make their country better succeed in their own small ways, and I can take advantage of my own position to directly aid Iraqis it is in my power to help." I had the (inacurate) impression you actually used the phrase "decent Iraqi" but as it is I still sense that some people might think of the Iraqis who are cooperating are the good guys and the ones in the resistance are the bad guys. I don't agree. I have sympathy for the Iraqis who want peace and also the ones who want to fight foriegn domination. I guess my disagreement comes down to this; The Iraqis in the insurgency are also risking their lives to make their country a better place." they also "want to make their country better succeed."

Wow. Great story -- all I can think though is that maybe some Iraqis won't hate us on an individual level when the war is over. That seems like such a small hope to have for this mess.

The problem in Iraq has always been at the top -- a lack of any coherent strategy followed by years of lying about the failure of the strategy.

The way this was handled at the top reminds me of Sam Pierce, Reagan's HUD secretary who presided over corruption. The key enabler for this scandal was that Pierce and his peers were doing something whose purpose they really did not care about.

It seems that there was a hidden assumption in the administration that they would set up Chalabi as a strongman to replace Saddam. Those who had detailed plans for a postwar Iraq, many in the State Department, were ignored. I believe that this was a consequence of our top leaders not having the purpose for Iraq that they were trying to sell: a free and law-based society there. (Also we did not appreciate the non-governmental differences between US and Iraq that affect how they can be governed.)

It is important that the administration's goals for an Iranian adventure be subject to a genuine review by someone whose objections cannot be ignored. This will only happen if Congress reclaims the power to declare or not declare war -- the administration has shown that it cannot be trusted to make usable plans or to accurately report the state of its plans.

Frank:

I had the (inacurate) impression you actually used the phrase "decent Iraqi"
It's not hard to read words, rather than make up imaginary "impressions" out of whole cloth.

"oops, above in response to Edward; is that you the NY Art Gallery Edward?"

"Edward Winkleman" is not a secret name. The use of ellipses in "Charles, dude...long time no read...you become a Democrat yet? ;-)" would be consistent with his, though that sort of subliterate substitution is not uncommon.

KC: I agree re: your assessment. However, my point of dissension was Clemons argument against the inevitability of an attack on Iran in the near future. I tend to agree with the Realists on this: the decision has already been made. As you note, Clemons' primary contention that an attack on Iran can still be averted (and that Bush actually wants to avoid military action) is undermined by the record.

Also, upon rereading, I see my phrasing was unclear in my previous comment. By 'foreign policy elite', I meant the moderate bloggers mentioned in my CFLF post (eg, James Joyner) who still think there's hope for diplomacy to prevail, not the FP movers-and-shakers mentioned in Clemons' Salon piece who believe it's not 'if', but 'when'.

gary- I should have known better than to share that. Did you have any thing relevant to say?

Edward is a common name, but Edward_ isn't.

that sort of subliterate substitution is not uncommon.

I'll thank you to label my substitutions "illiterate," Mr. Farber. ;-PPPPP

Excellent post, G'Kar.

There are folks out there in the ultraviolet who like to think of US troops as nothing more than marauders. I'm not one of those. The all-volunteer forces raised the overall level of professionalism in our armed forces (I am not going to comment on the deletorious effects Bush's policy has had on that, since everyone here is aware of them.)

Your post makes me think of a scene from the movie (and book) "The Year of Living Dangerously," which takes place during Sukarno's coup in Indonesia. Billy the photographer and Guy the reporter are talking about how much an individual can do to end hunger and poverty when the entire political and economic structure is indifferent to hunger and poverty.

Billy quotes Augustine: "What, then, must we do?"

Billy's answer - again from Augustine - is, "We must do what we can." The point being that each person who can make a difference, however small, should.

Billy's acts make a difference on an individual, personal level; not on a national one.

But the point isn't that individual acts of goodness are futile. The point is that personal moral responsibility extends only to that individual's capacity for action.

G'Kar, and most of the US forces in Iraq, are doing the best they can to help Iraqis make a better life for themselves. They're not responsible for the overarching policy in Iraq; they have no power over that. They are, however, fulfilling their personal moral responsibilities.

That's why we don't and can't blame US forces in the aggregate for what's happened in Iraq.

But that's also why we don't and can't let US forces be the deciding voice in whether what we're doing there is worth continuing to do. It is true that they're doing their job, doing it well, and justifiably proud of what they're doing. But it's the overarching conditions in Iraq that undermine their efforts - overarching conditions they have no control or power over.

Charles, dude...long time no read...you become a Democrat yet/

Sorry, Edward, no. But that said, I can't remember when I've ever been as non-aligned as now.

"I'll thank you to label my substitutions 'illiterate,' Mr. Farber. ;-PPPPP"

I'll choose my own words, as usual. But I'd be delighted to see you returning to commenting on, or even posting at, ObWi.

Please return, Edward. I'll be as critical of you as I am of anyone, but that's just my way of being friendly, or even loving. Mr. Winkleman.

"as non-aligned as now"

"ché la diritta via era smarrita" - since the straight road was lost.

Hope things are well with you, CB.

Great, so after we start bombing another country (Iran, Syria) we could send G’kar. It would show how graceful Americans are concerning our Imperial responsibilities.

Incidentally, "The Year of Living Dangerously" is one of my top 100 movies. Lovely stuff, particularly including the Vangelis soundtrack. Peter Weir was fantastic, and this is one of Mel's early, good, films. (Along with Gallipoli.) Sigourney Weaver was, of course, also great.

And Linda Hunt revealed herself to the world: fabulous. Well-mentioned, CaseyL.

I see that my knowledge of the ObWi intricacies is subpar ;) - anyways welcome back.

That's why we don't and can't blame US forces in the aggregate for what's happened in Iraq.

Casey,

I agree with everything you've written, but I'd like to add one caveat to the sentence above: I do think the highest ranks of the officer corps are partially responsible for the disaster of Iraq. I'm talking about generals in general and the JCS in particular.


I know, I know, civilian control of the military blah blah blah. When the chiefs want to, they can force the President to change policy in dramatic ways. For example, back when the President was about to commit an unthinkable military disaster that would have completely destroyed the military,

the Joint Chiefs of Staff responded by resisting, floating rumors of their own and dozens of other resignations, encouraging their retired brethren to arouse congressional and public opposition, and then more or less openly negotiating a compromise with their commander in chief.


As least that's what this military historian says writing for that leftist hotbed that we know as the Naval War College Review. Now, granted, letting gays serve openly in the military was much, much more important than something minor like Iraq, but I do feel that generals should have been willing to push back against the Iraq war at least as hard as they pushed back against gays in the military.


Some generals no doubt refused to join their compatriots in resisting the Commander in Chief's orders; I have no quarrel with such men refusing to make a stink about Iraq. But despite Centcom's happy talk, it should have been pretty obvious to our highest ranking military professionals before the war began that there were going to be some serious problems. And later accounts indicate that many of these officers had serious misgivings about the war: they just didn't do nearly as much in protest as when Clinton had the temerity to give them orders they didn't like.

"But that damage is done, ...."

A line from a Monty Python movie comes to mind here. Cognosenti can doubtless guess.

John: "To expand on what Bruce mentioned, it would be great if this administration, or in fact any administration realized that 40 tons of flour can make more difference than any number of bombs."

I disagree. A surprisingly small number of bombs can kill more people than 40 tons of flour can feed.

Turbulence, I agree with you halfway. What people will go to the wall for shows their real priorities. I am reminded of a pre 9-11 news story I saw about Afghanistan: the denizens of Kabul had risen up against their overlords and forced them to retract their latest fatwa. What was it, you may ask, that sparked this rebellion? Killings? Censorship? The oppression of women? No, it was when the Taliban tried to ban football. This tells you a LOT about the Afghani mindset.

That said, I don't blame the Joint Chiefs or other top military for not pushing hard on this one. Their responsibility was basically for the military side of things, which is to say chiefly invading, reducing the oppposing army, and forcing a surrender. They did all of that just fine, with minimal loss of their own troops. They were not responsible for achieving the political goals of, e.g., securing loose WMDs, leaving a functioning infrastructure, or planning a long occupation. Most of them probably assumed that State had some kind of plan that would be implemented more or less competently, as usual. Even for those who knew otherwise, it just wasn't their job. And while I disagree with them on gays in the military, I think it's a lot more reasonable for the military to get involved as to details of their own governance than for them to try to influence policy as to which war we should fight or the political objectives.

A few comments:

"Their responsibility was basically for the military side of things, which is to say chiefly invading, reducing the oppposing army, and forcing a surrender."

Last I heard, the fact that the military plans ended here (not counting 'and then a miracle!') has had actual military implications.

"They were not responsible for achieving the political goals of, e.g., securing loose WMDs, leaving a functioning infrastructure, or planning a long occupation."

Then who was? A 400K force from the State Department? Supplemented by an elite strike corps from the Agency for International Development?

It was either the Pentagon, or nobody.

"Most of them probably assumed that State had some kind of plan that would be implemented more or less competently, as usual."

Actually, there was. They'd have known about this, because Powell involved them in the planning.

Rumsfeld then sh*tcanned the plan, ordering that it not be used.

At that point, it was clear that the administration's plan was '...and then a miracle happens'.

At that point, some four-star generals should have made as much of a fuss as they had about the less urgent matter of gays in the military.

They didn'.

I will add to the consensus that you, G'Kar are doing a lot. It's a shame that it feels like so little, but at least it's something.

Makes me hate this stupid war, and the callous idiots who started it all the more.

Trilobite,

Thanks for your thoughts. I mentioned gays in the military because I find that example particularly galling (what, all those other countries that let gays serve have a crappy military?) but there are other cases in the article I cited that are on point for your concerns.

During the Clinton years, the JCS threw up all sorts of road blocks whenever Clinton considered military action. And much of those roadblocks was over rather political decisions: Powell argued, in public, that the US military should never be committed unless they were certain there was a clear exit strategy and clearly articulated goals of military action that could not be continuously changed after operations commenced. By any standard that Powell and the JCS pushed during the 90s, the Iraq war was simply unacceptable.


Based on my readings of Fiasco and Cobra II, it seems that many people in Centcomm knew that the State dept wasn't coming to save their bacon. Rumsfeld took ownership of portfolios traditionally handled by state like basic post-conflict management. He then dumped those responsibilities on officers that were either already responsible for running the war or were working closely with those responsible for running the war. I'm sure that there were a lot of lower ranking folk that were genuinely surprised when vast hordes of State dept. police officers failed to materialize, but I believe that outcome was quite clear to the highest ranking officers before the war began.

G'Kar. I hate the FACT of the occupation and nothing good will ultimately come of it, but thanks for telling people there is more to what we do than break things and hurt people.

When confronted with overwhelming violence and corruption, the small things can feel quite insignificant. But in your heart you know they are not insignificant for the people you help, and I can promise you you'll need days like that to cling to a couple decades from now when you still hurt inside and you wake up in the middle of the night scared and angry for no reason at all.

In vietnam, due to my role and place in time, I did precious little good. I killed, I destroyed, and I hated. But there were a few days in all that, when it wasn't too hot and it didn't rain all day, and we weren't on an op, when we could go down to the villes with a medic and some food, fix a pump or a roof, help some kids with infections and dysentery, do something that wasn't relentlessly awful.

It is good for all.

Thanks, and Charley Mike....

mikey

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