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February 02, 2009

Comments

I agree 100% with Boot. We won. Iraq is a democracy that shines brighter than all but our own. Iran has been dealt a death blow (or perhaps a birth pang).

So can we please, get, the fnck, out, now?

Let's give credit where credit is due. Okay, I haven't figured out who is due it yet, but let me work on it.

Question: is Iraq more of a democracy now then before we invaded? The answer is yes.

Question: is Iraq's form of democracy likely to stabilize within its own borders? Unknown, particularly since the Sunni participation, although higher than in the past, was still less than expected and hoped ofr. But lets try to be optimistic.

Question: is Maliki's victory a blow to Iran? Probably not, unless they wanted a totally vassal state, which I am not sure was their intention. What they did want, and got, was a neighbor who is not going to be a threat to them and may, if push comes to shove with the West, become a willing ally.

Question: even if all the possible positive scenarios (from the POV of the US) come to pass, does that justify the invasion? An emphatic "no" to that one.

Personally I hope, like you Eric, that all of this has a positive outcome for the people of Iraq. It is extremely unlikely that it will have a totally positive outcome for the US.

So can we please, get, the fnck, out, now?

No, no, it doesn't work like that. If Boot is right then it was all worth it, and we should follow up on our success in Iraq by democratizing the rest of the Middle East. It should only cost about 10-20 trillion or so. I'm sure the Chinese will be happy to loan us the money.

While Iraq’s democracy remains fragile and imperfect, it is nevertheless impressive to see its people not only casting votes but apparently selecting fairly centrist, secular candidates who are, by all indications, committed to an alliance with the U.S.

Funny how that happens- if you shoot the people who don't want an alliance with the US and lavish money and military support on those who are pro-US, you end up with a 'freely elected' government that favors the US (at least, "favors" relative to other possible outcomes).

It's a formula that has never failed to impress the likes of Boot: the 'popular' support for Syngman Rhee between WWII and the Korean War, the 'popular' overthrow of Allende, the 'popular' coup against Mosaddeq... find a local leader willing to cooperate, give him cash for the carrot and put F-16s overhead to provide the stick, and give him room to operate. Once he's subdued or bought off the competitors, you've got a pro-American friendly leader, the fruit of internal national processes.

I really hope that what this story says isn't true. Cause otherwise, some asses need to be fired.

I'm still waiting on the promise given to me that Bush, Cheney and the others would have been arrested by now.

What the @#$%$#$%!

John,

Out of curiosity, who made such a promise to you?

"I really hope that what this story says isn't true."

"Petraeus, Gates and Odierno had hoped to sell Obama on a plan that they formulated in the final months of the Bush administration that aimed at getting around a key provision of the U.S.-Iraqi withdrawal agreement signed envisioned re-categorising large numbers of combat troops as support troops."

I can't resist pointing out that I called that here several months ago.

"Personally I hope, like you Eric, that all of this has a positive outcome for the people of Iraq. It is extremely unlikely that it will have a totally positive outcome for the US.

Aside from the hundreds of thousands who died, the hundreds of thousands wounded, the millions forced from their homes, and the millions who have friends or relatives who died, perhaps it will ultimately have a positive outcome for Iraqis.

I know you can't possibly have meant it the way it sounds, but how could you compare what has happened to Iraq with what has happened to the US? They might have a positive outcome, but it is extremely unlikely that we will? WTF?

Ugh: Cause otherwise, some asses need to be fired.

What’s wrong with this:

CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, supported by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months at an Oval Office meeting Jan. 21.

“tried to convince” – I read that as they gave their opinions to the CiC and tried to convince him they were right. It’s part of their job. Did you like “yes men” during the Bush admin?

And any top DOD officials who bucked Bush were heroes. Now they should shut up and toe the line?

I’m more worried about this:

But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that he wasn't convinced and that he wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.

Total blow off? He is not going to listen to what they have to say? Keep in mind that I am for withdrawal – but totally blowing off advice from his top military commanders?

"What’s wrong with this"

Well, obviously, Steve, it's not that passage that bothers Ugh, but passages such as this:

[...] Obama's decision to override Petraeus's recommendation has not ended the conflict between the president and senior military officers over troop withdrawal, however. There are indications that Petraeus and his allies in the military and the Pentagon, including Gen. Ray Odierno, now the top commander in Iraq, have already begun to try to pressure Obama to change his withdrawal policy.

A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilising public opinion against Obama's decision.

When military officers, and retired generals, spoke up under President Bush, the right reviled them with the usual traitor talk.

Similarly, this:

[...] The source says the network, which includes senior active duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama's withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy.

If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his withdrawal policy for the "collapse" they expect in an Iraq without U.S. troops.

That line seems likely to appeal to reporters covering the Iraq troop withdrawal issue.

Uniformed officers aren't supposed to be engaged in political campaigns or lobbying, and particularly not lobbying and campaigning against their commander-in-chief, right?


"Total blow off? He is not going to listen to what they have to say? Keep in mind that I am for withdrawal – but totally blowing off advice from his top military commanders?"

There's nothing like that in what you quote, so I'm at a loss as to what you're referring to: do you have some other link, or are you imagining a passage that isn't there? Where do you get "He is not going to listen to what they have to say?" from?

Out of curiosity, who made such a promise to you?

Posted by: Eric Martin

When I was talking to an Obama campaign staffer, and said I'd rather vote for Hillary in the primary, he told me explicitly that Bush, Cheney and the others would be arrested for war crimes right after the election if Obama got in.

Two other guys with me changed their votes too specifically for this reason.

"When I was talking to an Obama campaign staffer, and said I'd rather vote for Hillary in the primary, he told me explicitly that Bush, Cheney and the others would be arrested for war crimes right after the election if Obama got in."

Well, that's pretty silly: such a thing would be news, and it's not the province of some unnamed campaign staffer to make international news. Anyone who would believe otherwise would have to be an idiot.

The other alternative is that you're making this up. But, hey, demonstrate that's not the case, and give us the name, and an email address or phone number, for this staffer.

What? You didn't get it? And you changed your vote because of Some Anonymous Person?

Well: come see me next election, please. Meanwhile, I have some investment opportunities for you I'd like to discuss with you. Act now, while you have a chance; act without thinking!

http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/sarahramey/CRZJ

That was the day I went. I would guess that someone working behind the desk in the campaign office would be working on the campaign.

And I'm not an idiot. I saw it written all over the place and on tv. How many times has Keith Olbermann talked about the war crimes of the previous gang? What about Chris Matthews?

I'm sick of the political double speak.

"I saw it written all over the place and on tv."

You saw it written "all over the place and on tv" that "Bush, Cheney and the others would have been arrested by now."

Well, that's interesting, because no one who who reads news, or listens to or watches political news, ever heard such a thing.

But if you did, how about you give a couple of URLs to these stories that are "all over the place"? Link to some of this widespread text and/or video. That would be educational.

Well, that's interesting, because no one who who reads news, or listens to or watches political news, ever heard such a thing.

What are you talking about?

Stories:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/presidentbush/2008/09/arrest-bush-che.html
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/18/obama-whistle-stop-tour-brings-chance-bush-bashers/
http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN0454699420080305
http://www.democrats.com/node/18816

Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q0DgpIGPQk

Total blow off? He is not going to listen to what they have to say?


OCSteve, "listen to" is not the same as "agree with". On its face, the story says that Obama listened to the brass hats' pitch. More than I'd have done, in his place. That he reportedly did not agree with their proposals seems to annoy you. I find that disturbing.

Obama won the election. The Man Called Petraeus, however much he may be idolized by the Right, did not. Obama can "listen to" Petraeus, but he has to answer to the electorate. The electorate voted for Obama to be Petraeus's boss because the electorate wants out of Iraq. If your attitude is that Obama should "blow off" the electorate instead of the generals, we need to talk.

--TP

"What are you talking about?

Stories:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/presidentbush/2008/09/arrest-bush-che.html"

This contains no promises from the Obama administration: it's the views of "five members of the Veterans for Peace organization." I'm unaware of their ability to speak for the Obama administration.

"http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/18/obama-whistle-stop-tour-brings-chance-bush-bashers/": a story about how a bunch of protesters who have no connection whatever to the Obama administration protested the Bush Administration. ""Either on Sunday or Monday [President Bush] is going to pardon a bunch of people, and what the goal of Arrest Bush is ... is we're going to have a nexus of Arrest Bush and the Obama inauguration," said Jose Rodriguez of the group Arrest Bush." Plainly, these people have nothing whatever to do with the Bush administration.

"http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN0454699420080305"

Story:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Voters in two Vermont towns on Tuesday approved a measure that would instruct police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," local media reported.

The nonbinding, symbolic measure, passed in Brattleboro and Marlboro in a state known for taking liberal positions on national issues, instructs town police to "extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."

Again: no connection to the Obama Administration.

So, what's your question again? Why haven't protesters arrested George Bush? That would be because they have no power to do so. Why hasn't the Obama administration arrested Bush? Because they never said they would.

So what is it you're on about?

OCSteve - Gary is right that it was those other passages that bothered me. Of course I don't want the President surrounded by yes men, Gen. P. got a chance to make his case, and he was turned down.

Plus, quite frankly, if the plan was to play games with the definition of "combat" troops and "support" troops in order to keep more soldiers in Iraq than called for in our agreement with that country, then it is just more of the Bush administration do whatever the fnck we want.

And really, if it's true that Gen. P and O were "shocked" that Obama didn't roll over and do what they wanted, so much so that they now have an organized campaign to circumvent the President's decision, then something is seriously wrong.

Donald, yes, I did not mean it the way you read it. And I definitely did not mean to create any comparison between what has happened to the Iraqi people and the US. I think you would know that about me by now.

My point is that I do hope that somewhere down the road, there is a positive outcome for the Iraqi people. That in no way shrugs off what has happened to date.

In regards to not a positive outocme for the US, that is in terms of what the geopolitical objectives were going it and the fact that, unless Obama pulls several rabbits out of several hats simultaneously, we will end up in a worse situation vis a vis teh Middle East than before.

There is no attempt to creat equivalency.

OCSteve, we all suffer from some degree of selective reading. There have been many times when somebody has quoted something to make a point and you have pointed out other things in the same article.

This is the opposite situation. Sure, there is nothing wrong with anyone in the military trying to convince Obama of something. Just like there is nothing wrong with, say, one of Petraeus' subordinates trying to talk him into or out of a plan of action. The fact that Obama or Petraeus "remains unconvinced" by the argument is not a blow off. Howevr, if current and retired military go on a public crusade to convince the public to object to Obama's plan, that would be equivalent to Petraeus' subordinate going out to try to sow dissension in the ranks.

You can be sure that Petraeus would not allow the latter, and I am sure you would side with him. The same holds true for Obama in this case. I believe we had a similar situation in Korea. Hopefully, if this plan by the military as outlined above goes ahead, Obama will have the same courage Truman had.

And any top DOD officials who bucked Bush were heroes. Now they should shut up and toe the line?

Start with the premise that Bush and Obama want (or wanted) entirely different things from our military and our Iraq adventure, and see if you can reason through to a conclusion here.

Total blow off? He is not going to listen to what they have to say? Keep in mind that I am for withdrawal – but totally blowing off advice from his top military commanders?

Perhaps you don't recall that Bush moved the folks who disagreed with him out of the way, leaving only those (such as Petraeus) who believed that staying in Iraq was a good idea?
On the one hand, I don't disagree with the right of the President to utilize the military leaders he sees fit, or the wisdom of having someone run an operation who believes that it can work.

On the other hand, during that time many partisans used the positive statements of the existing military leadership as proof that Bush's plans were wholeheartedly supported by the military leadership, ignoring the selection bias (ie those who disagreed were no longer playing prominent roles in the military leadership).
You are committing the same error here, in reverse.

[More generally, I don't know how you can tell the difference from Obama carefully considering and rejecting Petraeus's advice from Obama completing ignoring it. Does Obama have to actually change his position to demonstrate his open-mindedness here?]

Wow, Gary. I rely on what an Obama staffer tells me will happen after the election to inform my vote and you demand names and say that no one who reads news or watches tv ever heard of any talk of arresting Bush etc. So I provide links to multiple sources where there's talk of arresting Bush. The L.A. Times and Reuters are long-time respected news sources. So is Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.

You statement of "Well, that's interesting, because no one who who reads news, or listens to or watches political news, ever heard such a thing." is just untrue.

I would have rather voted for Hillary, she might actually have the nerve to arrest McChimpy.

John,

There's an important difference. You cited news sources that cited arguments in favor of Bush being tried for war crimes.

However, none of those news sources or cited arguments stated that Obama would try Bush for war crimes, or that Obama had promised any such thing.

Actually, some of the cited material is dubious as to whether Obama actually will try Bush - let alone arrest him.

Thus, they offer no support for the claim by the anonymous staffer, or your reliance thereon.

Eric,

I realized I was duped by the Obama staffer, but it turned into Gary saying I "would have to be an idiot" to believe such a thing and no one had ever heard of anything even close to Bush getting arrested for war crimes. So I provided links to people who called for Bush getting arrested, including a video of Keith Olbermann laying out in explicit detail the reasons for arresting the whole administration.

I should have probably given my offense at being called an idiot, too. I would never call another names like that.

It was inappropriate for Gary to suggest that you are an idiot.

You don't seem like one at all. Besides, like me, you voted for Hillary - which is a clear indication of superior intelligence.

Still, I don't think it's right to expect a low level staffer to speak for Obama, or be upset that Obama hasn't fulfilled a promise that was conveyed to you via that staffer.

If there's one thing I'll say about Obama, he's been living up to his campaign promises thus far.

For better AND for worse.

John Miller--

Yes, I was pretty sure you didn't mean that the way it sounded, but I thought it worth pointing out how it sounded even if you didn't intend it that way. But I should have pointed this out in a calmer fashion and I apologize for that.

"Wow, Gary. I rely on what an Obama staffer tells me will happen after the election to inform my vote and you demand names and say that no one who reads news or watches tv ever heard of any talk of arresting Bush etc."

Yes, no significant member of the Obama campaign made any such claims. That's a fact. If it is news to you that any such committment would have been news that would have shaken the election, and plastered across every newspaper and news broadcast in the nation, then now you're informed of that fact.

If you think some alleged anonymous grunt-level staffer telling you something that no one else in the campaign, or the news business, is aware of, is a meaningful thing to vote on, well, then, I suggest further study of politics in America.

"So I provided links to people who called for Bush getting arrested, including a video of Keith Olbermann laying out in explicit detail the reasons for arresting the whole administration."

Which have nothing whatever to do with your claim that a promise came from someone in the Obama campaign with the power to make the promise come through.

"Reasons for something to happen" as a matter of opinion of one or more people and "a promise from a person in a position to fulfil the promise" are two entirely different things. You seem to be confused by this, since you're supplying the first when attempting to support an assertion of the latter.

"So I provided links to people who called for Bush getting arrested, including a video of Keith Olbermann laying out in explicit detail the reasons for arresting the whole administration."

Then find a clip of, or link to, someone in the Obama Administration or speaking for the campaign at the top or a high level, who made such a claim: David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, whomever. Or not.

You'll have trouble, because that never happened, and what other people elsewhere said is completely irrelevant.

Bottom line, I can't figure out what it is that you're complaining about that makes sense, other than that you were very confused.

Thank you, Eric, but you shouldn't have to apologize for the heartless name-calling from Gary. You accomplished in one sentence what Gary couldn't do in multiple paragraphs.

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