August 22, 2004

Swift Boat Psychodrama

I haven't written about the Swift Boat Veterans controversy for a number of reasons. One, I hate the Vietnam War. Two, that war ended when I was three years old and we are in a different historical era twice removed. Three, I can't stand mudslinging politics on this level. Four, I don't have the patience to sift through the Andes of accumulated hack pieces to figure out who is and who isn't a liar. Five, although undecided voters make up the target audience, participating in the game is for partisans.

I also have a reason number Six. I am neither a veteran, nor a Baby Boomer. I don’t feel the need to argue about the 1960s until I’m “eating” through a feeding tube in a nursing home. I have no right to harrumph that George W. Bush, like me, never saw combat. Nor is it my place to say John Kerry’s wounds weren’t bloody enough, as Bob Dole said today. (Bob? Was that really necessary?)

For one reason after another, this is just not my fight. But it’s everywhere now, and it gets harder and harder for me to stay away from it.

Andrew Ferguson in The Weekly Standard has written what I think is the very best piece on this subject. He psychoanalyzes the partisans on both sides of the controversy. The Democrats (according to Feguson) are trying to convince themselves they aren't wimps. And the Republicans are trying to talk themselves into voting against a war hero in favor of a war dodger instead.

I don't need to convince myself I'm not a wimp. Nor do I care a rat's ass that George W. Bush (or Bill Clinton or anyone else) doesn't have a war record. So I guess I'm the right gut to approve of Ferguson's theory. I suggest you read it, especially if maybe - just maybe - you think a reality check might do you some good.

(Also, please read the whole thing before sounding off in the comments. Thanks!)

(Hat tip: SoCalJustice)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 22, 2004 07:54 PM
Comments

An article well worthy of Maureen Dowd. Really. As a mental exercise, substitute George Bush for John Kerry and flip the Dems/Reps and you just about have her.

Michael,

You frequently show disdain for the Vietnam era. It is one of your blind spots, possibly endearing, but a blind spot nonetheless.

The one useful detail in the article was the McGovernite revolution in the Dem party. Possibly true. What I have been coming away with from the Kerry/SwiftVets issue is that 1971's Winter Soldier was a watershed where a lot of America turned left and your precious true liberalism was severely stricken.

The wound needs healing, and it isn't the vets that need it. Can you guess what group of people in the US most need to revise their world-view and get a better grip on reality? Am I too far afield when I suggest that this class traces its roots to the anti-war protest (though some deeper traces go to the communist love affair of the thirties - though this was a pre-cursor for the elites)?

A fair write up of what's happened so far it you care to catch up:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21239-2004Aug21.html

Posted by: jdwill at August 22, 2004 08:29 PM

The Democrats (according to Feguson) are trying to convince themselves they aren't wimps.

Actually, they're trying to convince swing voters, not themselves. For example, Michael, consider what you wrote the other day about Howard Dean ("He never did strike me as the kind of guy to back down from a fight. He can be both scrappy and ruthless, necessary traits in the confrontation with Islamofascism.") -- the entire Vietnam fetish at the convention, and laying down the gauntlet now over the SBVets, was/is to send the message to people like you that Kerry won't back down from a fight, either.

Posted by: Swopa at August 22, 2004 08:45 PM

(New, improved -- with fixed italics tag!)

The Democrats (according to Feguson) are trying to convince themselves they aren't wimps.

Actually, they're trying to convince swing voters, not themselves. For example, Michael, consider what you wrote the other day about Howard Dean ("He never did strike me as the kind of guy to back down from a fight. He can be both scrappy and ruthless, necessary traits in the confrontation with Islamofascism.").

The entire Vietnam fetish at the convention, and laying down the gauntlet now over the SBVets, was/is to send the message to people like you that Kerry won't back down from a fight, either.

Posted by: Swopa at August 22, 2004 08:46 PM

Swopa,

I suppose you're right. At least you're also right.

Kerry can't convince me by putting on a show. It helps that he knows which show he's supposed to put on, but it isn't enough by itself. I don't know what Kerry would do in a tough spot, and that bothers me. Would he let Iran get nukes to avoid a confrontation? I don't know, and I doubt anyone else does either.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 22, 2004 08:53 PM

Michael,

A better stuff to read for your psychological well being:
< href="http://www.investors.com/editorial/issues.asp?v=8/23">investors.com< /a>

Posted by: marek at August 22, 2004 09:01 PM

Michael,

Just read this:
http://www.investors.com/editorial/issues.asp?v=8/23

Posted by: marek at August 22, 2004 09:02 PM
From the article:
Reading some of the anti-Kerry attacks over the last several weeks, you might conclude that this is the new conservative position: A veteran who volunteered for combat duty, spent four months under fire in Vietnam, and then exaggerated a bit so he could go home early is the inferior, morally and otherwise, of a man who had his father pull strings so he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam in the first place.
Given the behavior of the Kerry campaign to date I must be excused for inferring that he is running on his record in Vietnam, not his record in the Senate, or even his plans for the future. The loudest voice in the blogoshpere to my knowledge who is “obsessive” with Swift Vet coverage is Glenn Reynolds – hardly the sort of ideologue conservative which Andrew Ferguson has in mind. Linking to Glenn is ‘coals to Newcastle’ of course but you must read this post which to my mind demonstrates why Ferguson’s psychoanalysis (and projection?) doesn’t explain the obsessive nature of the coverage. Posted by: lewy14 at August 22, 2004 09:13 PM

I would argue that the premise of the article is incorrect. His thesis that "Republican activists have bent themselves to the task of proving that John Kerry, who was awarded five medals during four months of service in the Vietnam war, isn't a war hero" misses the point entirely.

It's not whether or not John Kerry is a war hero or not -- he showed up when he was ordered to, and he didn't leave until he was entitled to.

The issue is how honest he has been about his service and his accomplishments -- his claims about which form the foundation of his entire argument for why he believes he should be the next POTUS.

The truth or baseness of his claims, his personal reaction to the accusations, and the response of the "Kerry Machine" to the charges show what kind of man he is, and what kind of administration he would run.

I'm one of those mythical swing voters, and I'm not impressed with what I'm seeing.

He has already admitted that he has lied about the Cambodia thing (seared what?). His team has released several different explanations. There's no common story that they all agree on. In police shows, different stories usually indicates that someone's lying. ;)

His personal reaction has been to tell Dubya to break the law and violate the Constitution by oppressing the Swifties, and slander his Band of Brothers. ("Bring. It. On." has become "Make them stop!") He has yet to factually refute any of the charges, and those exhuberant reports that one swiftie or another has been discredited turn out to be not-so-discrediting once the facts come out and the spin is removed. I've heard he could put all the he-said/he-said to rest if he would just sign Form 180 like he demanded of Dubya, but for some reason he hasn't. Perhaps he's waiting for the furor to reach a fever-pitch, then pull the mother of all rope-a-dopes, releasing records that completely vindicate him ...

His political machine hasn't countered the threat to his campaign with anything remotely effective, decisive, or dignified. People talk all the time about how stupid and incompetent W's administration is; Kerry's machine can't even deal with a 527 -- how is he supposed to deal with, say, N.Korea, China, Iran, Syria?

Sometimes I feel like we are all Truman Burbanks, being shown a very carefully created caricature of John Kerry -- a facade created specifically to propel his political career.

Cheers, and I don't blame you for being exhaused with the entire circus. I wish we could talk more about what needs to be done the next 4 years, 10 years, 20 years, and what plans each candidate has -- than what was done 35 years ago.

Posted by: bkw at August 22, 2004 09:33 PM

The sad thing is that this is the end result of a but-for: Had it been but for the Dem camp making such a big deal out of Bush's National Guard service, none of this is likely to have come up. The Republicans would be trying to shut this down rather than take the tit-for-tat of examining Bush's record.

The Dems started the debate though, and made the mistake of picking an issue where there wasn't any meat (and had much less legs than the supposed scandals in 2000 about coke and DWI.) That GWB has already come through squeeky clean on the National Gueard issue means that there is no downside for the Republicans on this. They have actual deniablility (thanks to McCain Fiengold) and no way for it to come out badly. The best the Democrats can do, even if it turns out to have no merit (which I doubt) is to shout "VRWC! VRWC!" and have the swing voters say, 'yeah, sure. Whatever.'

Posted by: Phelps at August 22, 2004 09:37 PM

Ferguson gives his take on Democrats and Republicans, but he says nothing about the actual veterans involved.

These guys have a problem with Kerry. Can't they talk about it? Shouldn't they? Wouldn't they be remiss not to?

Posted by: E Rey at August 22, 2004 10:05 PM

E Rey, if their problem with Kerry is that he reported US atrocities in vietnam, they should talk about that. They can either say the atrocities didn't happen or they can say he should have helped cover them up.

Lying about what he did in vietnam because they're upset at him talking about the atrocities is wrong.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 22, 2004 10:16 PM

The loudest voice in the blogoshpere to my knowledge who is “obsessive” with Swift Vet coverage is Glenn Reynolds – hardly the sort of ideologue conservative which Andrew Ferguson has in mind.

No, Reynolds is not an ideological conservative, he's worse: he's a partisan hack.

The problem with being a partisan hack is that you end up convincing yourself that your side winning is more important than any policy issue, and more important than values such as truthfulness, consistency and decency.

Reynolds has clearly reached that stage.

Posted by: Mork at August 22, 2004 10:20 PM

Mork,

Glenn Reynolds voted for Gore in 2000. So did I. I share his bitterness (and Michael's, I believe) about the quality of candidates in this year's election.

Read the very first link in Glenn's post (the one I linked above). Would a "partisan hack" link to an article in Foreign Affairs enumerating a litany of the failures in the Iraq occupation?

There are partisan hacks in this campaign, e.g. Bob Dole, who apparently can't tell the difference between a hatchet and a chainsaw. But Glenn Reynolds isn't one of them.

Posted by: lewy14 at August 22, 2004 10:42 PM

Mork, by making himself un-engageable on almost any issue, Kerry has revealed his achilles heel: the character issue. As it happens, the character problem is the heart of the Swiftvets' brief.

So far, I don't think they can be casually dismissed as liars.

Posted by: E Rey at August 22, 2004 10:48 PM

Seems like the article is overly obsessed itself with masculinity. Maybe the author is trying to puzzle to out with his own anxieties in this vote. But those of us not of the male sex certainly don't have those particular anxieties.

I found the Truth Laid Bear had a more interesting psychological premise for the reason the ads are taking off:
The biggest problem for Kerry is that the Swifties' attacks confirm what we really want to believe about him anyway. He's been so damned annoying about his Vietnam record that we secretly want to think the worst of him, and now the Swifties have provided a rational basis for that gut-level irritation that Kerry inspires when he blathers on about his war record. This isn't just bad for Kerry, it's disasterous: the amorphous negative that normal people have when exposed to Kerry's "leadership, courage, and sacrifice" / "three purple hearts" mantra now has a core of fact -- or at least, alleged fact --- around which to crystalize.

As many people have commented, most memorably JibJab, there's something unsavory and obsessive about the way Kerry keeps stressing his medals. If you want to go with the interpretative metaphor Ferguson introduced, there's a certain level of insecurity there as well in the fact that he keeps pointing it out.

However, what I really wanted to say is that I think the problem resides in Kerry. Despite his bravery, to the extent that he has core values, they lie with the anti-war movement, not the pro war movement. Nothing he has said convinces me he has had a core change.

If Lieberman were running – despite his slightly wimpy appearance – I'd have no problem at all accepting him as President, because he has core values on this war and wants to deal with it resolutely. Kerry would need a panel to make up his mind and would poll every position, like a Clinton redux. And unless he's very different than the way he portrays himself, despite the French, he doesn't appear to have the necessary gravitas on this issue. If he doesn't believe in the war, or in any particular theatre of the war, he'll hardly be able to prosecute it successfully.

So I don't think it is about obsessive masculinity at all. It's the core values in a 9/11 world, stupid.

Posted by: alcibiades at August 22, 2004 10:56 PM

For the record I can't find a reference to back my recollection about Glenn Reynold's vote in the 2000 election. The rest of my rebuttal of Mork's post stands.

Posted by: lewy14 at August 22, 2004 11:26 PM

If Lieberman were running – despite his slightly wimpy appearance – I'd have no problem at all accepting him as President, because he has core values on this war and wants to deal with it resolutely.

Oh, bullshit. If Lieberman were running for President, he'd want to win, so he'd be drawing attention to all of the Administration's screw-ups in Iraq in order to distinuguish himself from Bush. And, of course, the Republican slime machine would be smearing him, too ... and it's not too difficult to imagine what tack that would take.

And all you folks who are so darn worried about Kerry's character would be just as worked up that pernicious Lieberman and worried about the threat that his presidency would pose to the Republic.

Posted by: Mork at August 22, 2004 11:48 PM

"And the Republicans are trying to talk themselves into voting against a war hero in favor of a war dodger instead."

Uh, no, Michael. Is this part of being a war liberal, looking for easy, zero-sum solutions? Can you countenance, just for a second, that there is a substantial number of people who, even though partisan, might be looking for the best man for the job?

I'm looking for a candidate with the credentials and character to successfully lead a superpower at war. There are a lot of other considerations but they pale next to that. Kerry made Vietnam an issue, and he has only himself to blame for forgetting that while media is powerful, it's not powerful enough (or stupid enough) to stop people from asking questions, even if he doesn't have answers.

They've gone from 'Bring it on' to 'Stop that or I'll tell!' in under a week. Must be force of habit...

Why on earth do you think his campaign announced its intention to basically close up shop for five weeks after the convention? In a neck and neck race? They had the ABB crowd arriving in Boston. They managed to get through the four days of preliminary speeches without any fatal moonbattery, and then had Kerry's Patton Speech attempt.

"There, that ought to wrap up the people who get their politics off of TV. Now lets head to the Hamptons for five weeks and let media and our 527's do our job for us....". Attempting to check out of the public forum, and announcing it, appeared to me a powerful statement on how confident they were that they were covered.

Questions...questions....questions.

Michael, it's not the questions, even though they are asked by men who deserve an answer. It's the lack of answers. Believable ones, at least.

I've got a long post on Roger L. Simon's blog that touches on this subject. It started out being focused on the media coverage angle, but you know how I wander.

Have a fine week.

Posted by: TmjUtah at August 23, 2004 12:02 AM

Michael,

I respect you greatly, which is why I'm telling you that you're woring about this. The Swiftboats vets aren't a symbol of anything. They are real people who have a real problem with John Kerry. I understand that the whole symbolism thing strikes a deep chord in your literary mind, but this is about literal betrayal.

This is, in fact, a pipe, not a painting of a pipe.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at August 23, 2004 12:06 AM

Meant to say that you are wrong on this.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at August 23, 2004 01:25 AM

I've been in the military for the past 12 years, and I was in Iraq and Kuwait much of the past 2 years, so I thought I'd use my sometimes-useful knowledge and experience to help you Kerry supporters to understand what those "darned swift boat guys" are talking about. You want so badly to believe Kerry's lies, but the truth is slapping you in the face with the harsh hand of reality. You trumpet half-hearted denials in the form of "The NY Times refuted their claims!" I'm sorry- the NY Times (as well as the rest of the liberal media) refuted NOTHING. They simply stated (and let me be clear about this) that the SBVFT guys were funded in part by (are you ready for this? It's gonna shock you) BUSH-SUPPORTERS and (gasp!) REPUBLICANS!!!!! Oh my, I can't believe it!!! You mean to tell me that pro-Kerry people didn't fund ANY of those ads from the SBVFT??? I simply never would have imagined! Yes, that's about the best they could do in their unbelievably weak attempt to "refute" the claims. Read any article out there and tell me where it says anything about the validity of the actual SBVFT claims. There's nothing. But if anyone's curious about where the funds are coming from, then I assure you- all your questions will be answered!

How about this guy in Chicago, William Rood- is he really "refuting" anything of substance? ABSOLUTELY NOT! He simply claims that Kerry made the right call- that his counter-ambush tactics were heroic and successful. OK, good point. Well worth a debate. Some would say it was foolish, some would say it was valorous. I happen to be impartial on this one, because I don't do river counter-ambush operations. Rood DID NOT discount the REAL issue at stake here- that John Kerry shot a wounded VC teenager in the back as he was fleeing. Rood claims it wasn't a teenager, but actually appeared to be a full-grown man. To that, I say "SO WHAT???" In my world, people can be court-marshaled for shooting wounded folks in the back when they're fleeing! Debate this all you want- it's just not the mark of a brave warrior. I've never heard anyone say, "I'm so brave, I shot a guy in the back while he was running away!"

So what about his Bronze Star? Well, here's a quick breakdown of how it works:

1) Soldier does something heroic.
2) Witness (fellow soldier, supervisor, subordinate, anyone present) says "Hey, that was heroic! That man deserves a medal!!"
3) Witness ensures that the officer submitting the after-action report includes the act of bravery and any other supporting information (hostile fire, nearby explosions, etc).
4) Commander reviews the after action report and determines "this is deserving of a medal!"
5) Commander drafts a citation recounting the incident. The citation is usually just a jazzed-up version of the after-action report, which, as I mentioned previously, was submitted by an officer who was at the scene. (example "With little regard for his own safety and taking heavy enemy fire, LT Schmoe charged the hill and killed 238 VC, saving all his men in the process.")
6) Citation gets passed up the chain of command without being scrutinized (trust is everything and officers are busy), and eventually gets to some high-ranking bigwig, who promptly signs it without even looking at it. Trust me when I tell you that if every top General or government official had to scrutinize every award recommendation, there wouldn't be time for anything else. That's why, when we military folks hear people say "it was signed by the SECRETARY OF THE NAVY himself!" we just laugh and laugh. As if that means ANYTHING! The only question of significance is "who submitted the recommendation?" If it turns out that one who recommends it is also the recipient of the award, then...well...it just doesn't look so good (remember this part).

So that's the process. In the case of Kerry's Bronze Star- the ones who were there with him started asking a very reasonable question. "Who recommended us for this? There wasn't any 'enemy fire'! It was a mine blast- pure and simple!" Sorry guys, but there's only one possible explanation for this- it's simple math really. The officers submitted their after-action reports. Kerry's report was the ONLY one that claimed there was enemy fire at the scene. The report that was approved and forwarded up the chain of command clearly stated that there was enemy fire. Therefore, the report HAD to be Kerry's! That's right, folks! Your candidate simply pushed a bogus report right on up the chain. Even the guys who received Bronze Stars for this incident insist that the citation is erroneous. Kerry's big downfall here was that his report inadvertently led to OTHER sailors getting awards, which tipped them off that something wasn't quite right.

So what about Jim Rassmann, the man that Kerry pulled out of the water, and his claim that he heard gunfire? Well, I'm certain he did. It was the guys on the patrol boats laying down suppression fire immediately following the mine blast, a common procedure still used today. ALL who were present verify that, yes, there WAS friendly suppression fire. 99% of those present insist there was NO enemy fire, and they all agree that Kerry HAD to be the one who lied and said there was. So what do you do when everyone begins to suspect you're a self-serving medal-chasing liar? Easy! Round up three quick purple hearts, and head on home! Oh, that reminds me, I should probably cover a common procedure that medal-chasers use for getting purple hearts:

Kerry: "Hey Doc, can you sign this please? It just says that I got hurt yesterday- you see I'm collecting purple hearts so I can go home!"

Doc: "But, John, you're only missing a fingernail. What about all those guys who lost their limbs, their eyes, even their lives? Do you really want to dishonor them by getting their same medal when all you have is a boo-boo?"

Kerry: "If it gets me home pronto, the answer is 'YES SIR!!!!'"

If you don't believe this is possible, ask anyone who's been to combat. It sickens me to see medal-chasers in action, but they exist- and they've existed for quite a while.

Do we even need to get into the whole Cambodia thing? I mean, that was just a flat-out, no-gettin'-outta-this-one, damn-I-wish-I-hadn't-said-that LIE. One of many it seems....

Okay, enough about dubious medals and obvious lies- let's get to the issue that's really steaming people up. John Kerry served more than most and should therefore be honored, right? WRONG! How about our "heroic soldiers" who abused the prisoners in Iraq and took photos for all the world to see? THEY served more than most people. Should THEY be honored? To make a blanket statement along the lines of "anyone who served should be honored" is just plain ignorant. There are bad apples in every bunch, and the sad truth is that there is a small minority of soldiers in every American war that did more to hurt the cause than to help. John Kerry is one of those bad apples. "Why" you ask? Well, it has nothing to do with the fact that he lied to get medals. You see, as a leader/officer in wartime, you MUST ensure that soldiers know one thing above all else- that their leaders are looking out for them. The soldiers must believe that the ones in charge will devote EVERY LAST BREATH, DROP OF BLOOD, BEAD OF SWEAT to ensure the soldiers' safety during the course of the mission. John Kerry did no such thing. He got 3 band-aid wounds, and promptly headed home. Remember- 3 purple hearts gave one the CHOICE to leave- it was not obligatory. What kind of message did that send to his sailors and all the other enlisted sailors in his unit? I'll tell you what message it sent- "officers look out for themselves." Officers will get rattled and say "OK good luck guys! I'm outta here!!" Apparently a handful (maybe 12 out of about 300?) of the sailors he served with have forgiven him. Understandable, given the fact that he delivered those troops a national cheering audience that was more than 30 years overdue (at the DNC). But I'll tell you who will NEVER forgive him for what he did- the officers who served with him. He complicated their efforts, he hurt their unit's morale, he put their lives in danger, and he quickly rubbed salt in their wounds by coming home and bashing the ones who were brave enough to stay behind and do their duty. Reprehensible in every sense of the word. Say what you want about whether or not he deserved his medals- I could care less. What is NOT debatable is the fact that he got 3 "minor wounds" and promptly abandoned the ones he was sworn to protect. As a leader in the US Military, that's the worst insult. He would have served his country much better by never having gone to Vietnam.

Senator Kerry was recently quoted as saying "...this is a different kind of war from any kind of war we've fought before, and it's because in the last months they have seen me climbing in America's understanding that I know how to fight a smarter and more effective war, that's why they are trying to attack." What America is understanding, I would gladly retort, is that he fled Vietnam in disgrace after receiving 3 band-aids and widespread recognition for looking out for number one. I wouldn't say that's indicative of someone who's going to fight a "smarter and more effective war," but that's just my opinion. In any case, John Kerry (one man) did his 4 months in Vietnam and spoke volumes to the American public about the war during the years that followed. Much of what he said has been shamefully discredited. Now he opines that 200+ veterans shouldn't have the right to present THEIR view of what happened over there? How dare he.

George Bush is no war hero. Nobody (including W himself) is trying to pretend that he is.

John Kerry is the opposite of a hero, and no one claims him to be a hero more than he himself. Ladies and Gentleman, that is just plain disgusting....

Posted by: $lick at August 23, 2004 01:51 AM

I read it.

I found it un-convincing,shallow,and mediocre.
The reason that this story has 'legs; is that Kerry is distasteful on a 'felt'level.
It may be Vietnam itself that is the factor but I don't believe it. I think another person could have done the same things but not dragged everything into the open like this.
As for Bob Dole----- I loved it!!!
I will bet that CNN was shocked that he unloaded on Kerry and EVERY WORD WAS TOTALLY JUSTIFIED. A man who goes around bragging about 3 EXTREMELY MINOR wounds and holding up his 3 purple hearts for admiration while many of his 'band of brothers'have been shot to pieces,gets no respect or sympathy from me.

Posted by: dougf at August 23, 2004 02:37 AM

[Great rant $lick] Mine very different.
Which is morally superior: War – or – Peace AND Genocide?

“A veteran who volunteered for combat duty, spent four months under fire in Vietnam, and then exaggerated a bit so he could go home early is the inferior, morally and otherwise, of a man who had his father pull strings so he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam in the first place.”

No. The “moral inferiority” of Kerry comes 1) from exaggerating the US war crimes (as stated): that our boys in Vietnam had "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads . . . cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians," and so on, as young John Kerry testified they did.”
2) From LYING to the Senate that he was illegally in Cambodia, Christmas 1968 (why not mentioned here? Easily checked; but Kerry refuses to sign Form 180)

Yet most importantly, 3) choosing the “moral choice” after 1968 between a) more fighting in Vietnam, or b) leaving SE Asia in “peace”, and letting evil commies commit genocide.

Kerry, and the whole anti-War Left, claims “moral superiority” with their choice of peace (and genocide) rather than fighting.

Also remember, the US refused to attack N. Vietnam on the ground, just bombs. My Slovak wife reminded me that the Vietnam war movies don’t mention that the US chose to (basically) never invade, nor really threaten to invade and control, N. Vietnam. Today this is an obvious “mistake” – fighting with no hope of winning. [perilously close to NOT invading Najaf or other holy shrines]. Yes, there are arguments for other actions before Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the war escalation, but by 1968 and after, the choice was fight or run.

So, there should perhaps be more choices: a2) stop the draft, fight with higher paid volunteer/ mercenaries, and a3) support S. Viet troops attacking North against N. Vietnam; possibly use US troops. – I’m no expert on what the US needed to do to win; I wasn’t comfy with my Grandmother’s advice: mine Hai phong harbor, nuke Hanoi – but following HER advice, and winning, would have been a better result than (b) peace & genocide.

Cambodia’s genocide SHOULD be the moral question in Kerry’s non-wimp psychology. Was peace AND genocide morally superior?

Posted by: Tom Grey at August 23, 2004 02:48 AM

Ferguson engages in some armchair psychology for sure. My question is whether all this mudslinging will actually garner the votes sought: those of the 30 - 40% in the middle, undecided space. Seems more likely to just further energize the partisans.

And to those of you prone to name calling - "Reynolds is a partisan hack!" - I suggest you read Ed Cone who puts it better than I ever could in this piece:

http://radio.weblogs.com/0107946/stories/2004/08/22/dontTalkWhileImInterrupting.html

Posted by: steve at August 23, 2004 03:46 AM

$lick

That, sir, was magnificent.

I hope you get this published, or at least posted to assorted weblogs. Try emailing it to Instapundit (Mork is a fool, a lot of people respect Glenn Reynolds as a balanced commenter) He has taken to this story in a big way.

Posted by: jdwill at August 23, 2004 03:50 AM

Mork: No, Reynolds is not an ideological conservative, he's worse: he's a partisan hack.

Bullshit. He's covering aspects of this story that the media skip over. He also covers damn near everything anyway, very unlike myself.

Glenn is one of the least partisan people in the blogosphere. I'm sure you would know that if you read everything he writes, as I do. Rush Limbaugh is a partisan hack.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 23, 2004 04:32 AM

Michael, Ferguson has a point but I think he's not supplying perspective. This whole business of stealing the other side's issues went by the name of "triangulation" during the Clinton years. It was Dick Morris's insight that the best way to beat the Republicans was to take their issues away (crime, welfare). And in the '90s it worked.

The problem is that it can only work if it's executed well and if the one doing the execution isn't being untrue to himself. Kerry didn't execute it well. He's not a convincing military leader. Vietnam was 35 years ago, and Kerry chose to play that up instead of his Senate experience in national security. Yes, I understand that his Senate record leans toward the reflexively anti-military, but he probably could have explained it by supplying context. Give him his due, he does have expertise. But that's not what he put on display.

The whole military macho things isn't true to his character either. The sweep of Kerry's career over the last 20+ years (like his votes against lots of military procurement programs, against the first Gulf War, against (I think) the Pershing missiles in the 80s) indicates that he is loath ever to use American power except in response to a direct attack on the US homeland. Nothing short of Pearl Harbor or 9/11 would suffice as a provocation. That's not a dishonorable position, I suppose (though I regard it as a foolish one) - but that position is not one that is politically salable now. Hence we see this almost mindlessly macho posturing. Clinton could triangulate convincingly because he wasn't an ideologue at heart and because he was a terrific communicator and spinner. Kerry isn't even in the same league.

So what Ferguson is missing is that Kerry's rhetorical machismo is an attempt to use the Clinton playbook, but without Clinton's talent. (This isn't unique to Kerry, either - Bush's first term was an attempt on domestic issues to steal the Democrats' issues, and he didn't do that one too well, either).

Posted by: Stuart at August 23, 2004 06:04 AM

Dork calling Glenn Reynolds a partisan hack is surely the best example I've seen yet on this blog of "The pot calling the kettle black".

Heh.

Posted by: Eric Blair at August 23, 2004 06:07 AM

I am about the same age as your Michael, and I see differently. The Swift Vets have every right to defend their honor. How many movies over the past thirty years have painted all our Vietnam Veterans as baby killing war criminals? "We Were Soldiers", one of the few movies out defending our Veterans, represented the nastiness the American people exhibited towards our returning Veterans and was released only thirty years later.

Michael, you may be tired of the Vietnam thing, but those soldiers who came back to a vicious, hateful America perpetuated by John Kerry Veterans against the War who CLAIMED that our soldiers were basically committing crimes on the level of Genghis Khan are not. They have had to live with the lies their entire lives. They cannot accept the one man who brought such nastiness to their lives. Atrocities in war happen but to paint our entire military in this way was unforgivable. Note, Kerry NEVER actually saw that which he spoke. Reminds me of Michael Moore today, fabricate images in order to attack the opposition by playing on people emotions. It is manipulative and dishonest.

You should care Michael, because for thirty years our Vietnam Veterans have been perceived as something they are not, and if your are not willing to defend their right to voice their dissent towards a man who perpetuated lies against them, you do not deserve to be living free in America. John O'Neill, if you will remember, had said the same thing about John F, Kerry back in 1971 as he is saying today. At least John O'Neill is consistant, the same cannot be said for John F. Kerry.

Have Americans become so completely selfish as to have grown tired from never recognizing their own nastiness in the treatment of our Vietnam Veteran? Nothing should interfere with our MTV, right!!!! Hey man, what is honor anyway.

The Swift Vets are not advocating for Bush, they are defending their honor against a man who wishes to become Commander-in-Chief, an opportunistic man who destroyed their honor with lies and fabrication.

I thought Liberalism would understand this concept. I was wrong.

Continue sweeping it under the rug, that's what John "Boston Strangler" Kerry want's you to do.

Why are you not advocating that Kerry release all his military records?

By the way, saving millions from living in hell, IS the right thing to do whether it disturbs and disrupts your life of luxury or not.

Vietnam apparently disturbed John Kerry's life of luxury so much that his advocation of withdrawing all troops immediately out of Vietnam led to the slaughter of millions. John O'Neill, on the other had, had predicted that John F Kerry's porposal for immediate withdrawal would led to the slaughter. O'Neill was right then and he is right today.

Kerry lied. Millions died. And hundreds of thousands of Vietnam Veterans lives were dishonored and degraded. Is this the ugliness you are tired of?

Posted by: syn at August 23, 2004 06:18 AM

What?

Totten doesn't care about how Kerry is reacting, attempting to CENSOR the Swiftees? A man running for president trying to destroy free speech, and this isn't relevent?

So being a centrist liberal means not giving a crap about, you know, liberalism?

Oh well, the "root cause" is Vietnam, so I guess it isn't relevent that in 2004 a man running for president is trying to shut up working class veterans.

Yet another reason to vote for the GOP this year. The liberal centrist Democrats are deader than dead. And the so-called centralist liberals like Totten say nothing about it.

Posted by: ReluctantRepub at August 23, 2004 06:54 AM

Stuart talks about "politically salable now:" should President Bush forthrightly signal that the next Gulf War will be in Iran, and will be a war requiring him to mobilize 600,000 troops to occupy a country of 60 million ? After all, the "mission accomplished" in Iraq is going so marvellously well in Ramadi, Fallujah, Samarra, and Najaf.
Syn is admirable in his hope that the United States can and should save millions from living in hell. How long would you have left 500,000 Americans in South Vietnam? The GRVN and ARVN were clearly not up to the task of defeating the NVA. Are You ready for Iran, Darfur, or that truly awful regime in Zimbabwe?

Posted by: g-lex at August 23, 2004 07:09 AM

Syn wrote:

Michael, you may be tired of the Vietnam thing, but those soldiers who came back to a vicious, hateful America perpetuated by John Kerry Veterans against the War who CLAIMED that our soldiers were basically committing crimes on the level of Genghis Khan are not. They have had to live with the lies their entire lives. They cannot accept the one man who brought such nastiness to their lives. Atrocities in war happen but to paint our entire military in this way was unforgivable. Note, Kerry NEVER actually saw that which he spoke. Reminds me of Michael Moore today, fabricate images in order to attack the opposition by playing on people emotions. It is manipulative and dishonest.

Moreover, we see the continuation of this trend to this day. For example, the desire on the part of the media, many of which are run by anti-war baby boomers whose political convictions were shaped definitively for them during the Vietnam War, to take the Abu Ghraib story and inflate it into something large enough to knock the Iraq War off course.

And one senses their zeal in this endeavour has a lot to do with the fact that it fits into their own personal narratives – narratives that changed them greatly, that were important to them personally as shaping forces, that have the quality of a spiritual awakening to these people, but otherwise, as in any other personal narrative, are utterly subjective.

Thus the desire on the part of the MSM to read into the story of Abu Ghraib, however unsavory it was for the particular personnel so involved, something of the force that animated and converted them during the Vietnam era. And if they can use that to show the world what a sham the Iraq War was, just as they showed the world that the Vietnam War was a sham, so much the better. Conveniently forgotten and unmourned in this comforting affirmation of self are the millions dead in the aftermath of the American exit from South Vietnam, the blanket of fundamentalist oppression that would fall across the ME; and the fact that in any case the war will go on and need to be fought; only with Iraq lost, it will be that much harder. The Cold War lasted much longer than it had to because of our retreat in South Vietnam.

So as long as men of that era shape the media and cultural discourse with their own pieties, as they have been doing now for the past 30 years, we're all very much effected by it. To say otherwise is naive.

Posted by: alcibiades at August 23, 2004 07:11 AM

Don't have time to write much now. But I'd be interested in feedback from Kerry-bashers reflecting on how they might react if the tables were turned. If a Democratic nominee, a "fortunate son" who used his father's pull to get in the National Guard, was encouraging supporters to question the integrity and honor of a Republican who volunteered for service, asked to go to Vietnam specifically, served a tour in which all controversy aside HE DID HIS JOB, but is also probably guilty of embellishing his record somewhat in order to spruce up his political resume.

If you want to oppose Kerry because of his liberalism, or because you think he'll be weak on foreign policy, or even because you hate him for his 1971 testimony, that's fine.

But this is bullshit.

Posted by: Markus Rose at August 23, 2004 07:20 AM

Markus -

Just as soon as Kerry runs on his policies or senate record, I'll be more than happy to comment on both.

Until then, all we've (anybody not in the ABB demographic) got is his Vietnam experience, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HE DEFINED AS HIS CREDENTIALS FOR OFFICE.

As always, you have to be careful for what you wish for...

Posted by: TmjUtah at August 23, 2004 07:42 AM

Alcibiades: A realist named Thucydides showed us all the folly of sailing off(as the real Alcibiade passionately demanded)on a vast, noble expedition to Sicily, into circumstances that turned out to be quite beyond Athenian understanding or control. Disaster followed.
Re Vietnam: would it not have been more logical and less lethal to have sent an ambassador(as the US does today), set up Nike factories in both ends of the country, and save all those deaths suffered by both Americans and Vietnamese? Once Nixon envisiged an exchange of ambassadors with the "People's Republic of China", formally acknowledging its existence, war stopped and trade soon began--billions and billions in value, not millions of deaths. Anything wrong with that?

Posted by: g-lex at August 23, 2004 07:52 AM

$lick,
I would say that you got about 10% right and 90% wrong in your rant.

You are correct that it is blazingly obvious that the Swifties are funded by anti-Kerry people, and that that in itself is a silly way to criticize them. But of course, to the extent that they are funded by Bush friends and operatives, their credibility as independent voices is diminished, and the spectre of illegal collaboration with the campaign is raised. So it is also a legitimate question for journalists to raise.

As to whether the Swiftie charges have been refuted, you seem to be totally out of touch with reality. As far as I can see, just about every specific charge they have made has been refuted or terminally underminded.

You begin with Rood. You claim that the central issue is whether Kerry shot a wounded teenager in the back as he was fleeing. And that in your book, such an act, whether against a teenager or an adult, is worthy of court-martial. With all due respect, I think you are full of shit. It seems uncontested that the VC was not alone. There was plenty of fire being directed at the boat. When Kerry and co. went ashore, this guy retreated into the jungle. Armed with a weapon that could easily take out the boat and kill our men if he could get into position to get off a shot. Kerry persued him and took him out. Are you seriously claiming that you, or any other responible soldier would not have tried to do the same? Are you claiming that when confronted with the enemy in a firefight, that once one of their armed guys turns to retreat, then you are obliged to just let them go? So that what...they could take cover behind a tree and resume their attack? That is so reidiculous a claim, that I find it hard to believe you could bring yourself to write it. In fact, the very idea that the Swifties think that this could be raised as a legitimate claim aginst Kerry undermines thier credibility enormously. If he had NOT persued the enemy and tried to take him out he would have been derelict in his duty to protect him men.

As to the Bronze star - I accept your argument about the medal system, and how it is silly to claim that the Sec. of the Navy's signature means anything. But let us look at the facts of the actual incident. Your argument is absolutely incoherent. First off, lets leave Kerry aside for a moment. Jim Rassmun was a green beret temporarily on the boat - i.e. no particular established relationship with Kerry - no reason to lie for him. Rassmun later went on to a career as a law enforcement officer and a life-long Republican. Rassmun claims that he was taking fire. Why do you accuse him of lying? Why would he lie? WHat is in it for him to lie? You claim that he was just mistaken. It was friendly suppresive fire. How the hell do you know that? It wasnt only Kerry who saw Rassmun in the water - other boats were apparently heading over to rescue him. Is it common practice to lay suppresive fire around the man that you are trying to rescue? I dont think there were any VC in the water with Rassmun - any suppressive fire would be aimed at the banks, not, as Rassmun claims, pinging into the water around him.

The Swifties making the claim that the Bronze Star is illegitimate do not deny that Kerry pulled Rassmun out of the water. They claim that it is not worthy of a medal because there was no enemy around. But Thurlow recieved a medal as well. Even if you claim that he recieved that medal because of Kerry's report, why did he accept the medal? He now claims that he thought his medal was for coming to the rescue of the mined boat, and that he now would consider his medal illegeitmate if it was given for being under fire. But cant you see how this is totally self-contradictory? He has known all along that you dont get a medal for simply coming to the rescue of someone if there is no danger around. That is his entire claim against Kerry. So how can he claim to have thought that his own medal was recieved for coming to the rescue of the mined boat if there was no danger around? THat is clearly a lie. Either he knowingly accepted an illegitemate medal for doing something when there was no danger around (and signing the citation), or he knew damn well that there was fire, or, even more likely, he was busy trying to help with the mined boat in a chaotic situtation, and really had no clue as to what was going on out in the middle of the river. They claimed there were no bullet holes in the boat, but it now turns out there were three. Oh, but that was from the day before....At every point they simply make an outrageous charge, are refuted by the evidence, and then come up with an ad hoc explanation for why the evidence should be discounted. There is NO EVIDENCE that actually supports any of their claims. Just their own assertions.

As to Cambodia, lets look at the facts again. Kerry says he was in Cambodia on Christmas. Swifties say he wasnt EVER there, it would have been impossible. Turns out that it was in fact possible, and that he probably was at least near Cambodia on Christmas (having gone well up the river from his base, in that direction) and that it seems probably that he was actually in Cambodia, although perhaps not on Christmas. As far as I can see, based on the evidence, Kerry seems about 95% correct, perhaps confused on the dates, and the Swifties are about 99% wrong - correct only on the claim that he might not have been in there on that precise date.

Your rants about him being a medal-chaser are all derivative of the baseless charges that turn out to be not true. Once you accept that what the Swifties charge are a pack of lies, which seems to me to be rather obvious, then the conclusions that you draw from those lies melt away.

As to the message that his actions sent to those who served with him, you give us an incoherent rant once again. The "handful" of those who served with him have not "forgiven" him for his actions. They never seem to have had any reason to forgive him - for they never had any complaints about him in the first place. They did not come out to support him simply so that they could get some well deserved public time at a convention - they have been friends and supporters of his for his entire career. They have never wavered in their opinions of him - that he was a brave and wonderful officer that they were proud to serve under. These are the only opinions that count, for they are the men who actually went into battle with him - not the people who "served with him" only in the sense that they were in the same country, or on the same river.

By their own admission, the Swifties are really upset at the fact that Kerry participated in the antiwar movement after his return. That is the real issue that bugs them, and they certainly have a right to express their opinion on that matter. If they had any honor or decency, they would have simply raised that issue and made whatever points they wanted to make, and everyone could have decided what to make of it. But they have totally, and terminally destroyed their own credibility by trying to undermine Kerry's war record as a way to soften him up for the later debate. They have done so in a totally dishonest and dishonorable manner. Everyone of their charges has been shown to be either a blatant lie, a gross distortion, or, at best, a totally unsupported charge.

It is the classic MO of the sleazy political hack to launch into a long string of outrageous attacks with the hope that, even if they are systematically refuted, the net effect will be that "questions are raised", or that the derivative character assessments manage to stick, even though the evidentiary base for them evaporates. Plus you get to put your opponent on the defensive, and get them off their own message.
It is disgusting, dishonest, and you sir, are entirely complicit in that.
Bad show.

Posted by: Tano at August 23, 2004 08:00 AM

I understand the rage that Vietnam Veterans feel against Kerry and fully support their right to express that rage. Rather than defend himself, Kerry has demanded that the President stop the SBVT ads. Aside from the fact that this would be (a) a violation of campaign finance laws which require separation of 527s from campaigns and (b) against both the letter and spirit of the First Amendment, it is stunningly hypocritical. I have yet to hear Kerry say anything to rein in Moveon.org or Michael Moore.

As for the Ferguson piece, the most important point there, IMHO, is civilian control of the military. Both Pres. Bush's National Guard service and Kerry's Vietnam War service are relevant only insofar as they provide insight into how either candidate will act as Commander-in-Chief. As far as I am concerned, Kerry's service as a junior officer in command of a small boat does not give him any special insight into the job of C-in-C. If, however, the charges against Kerry are true (and he has done nothing to counter them), he is unfit for command based upon the character flaws that the charges illuminate. Pres. Bush's National Guard service, OTOH, is less relevant to the debate because we already know how he will act as C-in-C. The National Guard issue tells us nothing useful about the President, whereas the SBVT issue (coupled with Winter Soldier) MAY tell us something useful about Kerry.

Posted by: Ben at August 23, 2004 08:02 AM

As a "Vietnam Era Vet" but not a "Vietnam Vet", I have to say that Kerry's stint in that war means little to me. It is what he did upon returning, and only then after losing a congressional race as a "warrior", that disturbs me and most others who have issue with him. In fact, John O'Neill has made it very clear that this is an issue with Kerry, and Bush has no business getting in between. O'Neill has been after Kerry for many years, so this is nothing new.

Posted by: Mike at August 23, 2004 08:07 AM

Kerry did not fulfill his tour of duty in Vietnam, he left after four months.

Posted by: syn at August 23, 2004 08:13 AM

"Only one of his 23 fellow OICs from Coastal Division 11 supports John Kerry."

To me that says a lot. I think if half of what the swiftvets say about Kerry is true, then Kerry is getting what he deserves. I can't believe so many within the same command would come out against him if there wasnt some meat there.

None of this would be much of an issue if not for the Speilberg production of saving private Johnny at the national convention. The whole damn show was about his days in Nam.

And Tano, I suppose you denounced the Bush AWOL b.s. right?

Chickens welcome to your roost.

Posted by: mnm at August 23, 2004 08:24 AM

Thanks for the sanity Michael. As the vast majority of the comments demonstrate, this is an "issue" that is much more likely to stir up the partisans than help the undecideds decide.

BTW, I don't think Instapundit is a partisan hack. I'm a longtime fan. But he has seemed to me to be reflexively pro-Bush on foreign policy issues ever since 9/11 and often a cheerleader for any and all good news from Iraq. Not that such news is unwelcome, of course. But I don't get the sense that he's especially objective on the 2004 election.

If you stay tuned you'll find that the Swift boat vets real axe to grind regards the winter solider affair, in other words Kerry's post-service anti-war protesting, especially of alleged atrocities. Swiifties do everything they can to cast Kerry's actual Vietnam service in its least favorable light(and they believe what they are saying, to be fair), but the real reason they are mad is that they see Kerry's attempts to expose atrocities in Vietnam as disloyal and bad for morale. And Kerry did not shine in this role. It's likely he was grandstanding at least in part for opportunistic reasons, and it turns out he accepted soldier testimony at face value, and that later some of it turned out to be false. His self-serving eagerness made him credulous.

As a 1964 baby, I'm with you. Let's not try to settle the 2004 election by re-fighting Vietnam.

Posted by: bk at August 23, 2004 08:32 AM

Tano

Quite a long string yourself:

But of course, to the extent that they are funded by Bush friends and operatives, their credibility as independent voices is diminished,

Why? Are the MoveOn ads so diminished? The Swift Vets are standing up, giving affidavits, etc.

Are you claiming that when confronted with the enemy in a firefight, that once one of their armed guys turns to retreat, then you are obliged to just let them go?

I think the claim was that this wasn't all that heroic. Looks like mis-direction on your part.

Rassmun claims that he was taking fire. Why do you accuse him of lying?

More mis-direction, the claim was that Rassman, in the water, was probably confused.

There is NO EVIDENCE that actually supports any of their claims. Just their own assertions.

Just their eye-witness.

As far as I can see, based on the evidence, Kerry seems about 95% correct, perhaps confused on the dates, and the Swifties are about 99% wrong - correct only on the claim that he might not have been in there on that precise date.

Interesting formula, care to share it? The issue is Kerry's repeated insistence of Christmas in Cambodia. Shows that he might be an opportunistic embellisher.

Your rants about him being a medal-chaser are all derivative of the baseless charges that turn out to be not true.

Your reading skills are obviously lacking. The post showed how it could be and stated that such people existed.

These are the only opinions that count, for they are the men who actually went into battle with him - not the people who "served with him" only in the sense that they were in the same country, or on the same river.

See Rood.

Everyone of their charges has been shown to be either a blatant lie, a gross distortion, or, at best, a totally unsupported charge.

We shall see. Form 180. Release the records.

It is the classic MO of the sleazy political hack to launch into a long string of outrageous attacks with the hope that, even if they are systematically refuted,

Yes indeed.

Posted by: jdwill at August 23, 2004 08:32 AM

Ferguson's article makes an interesting point, by which I mean that I want to damn it with faint praise. It's a cute, arresting, somewhat original little thought, but that's it. Once you get outside his little essay, which is coherent and well-written, but over-simplified, you see that it doesn't have that much explanatory power.

Trying to make a broad, pop-psychiatric generalization about a huge, heterogeneous group of people, though it can be fun, and it's a large part of what pundits do, is a dubious enterprise.

In order for Ferguson's cute little piece to make any sense one has to accept completely, which Ferguson seems to, the Kerry campaign's assertion that SBVFT is de facto a part of the Republican party, some group dreamed up by Karl Rove in order to assuage the psychological problem that Ferguson accuses all Republicans of having. That's simply not true. They are a completely independent group. John O'Neill has even said that they will continue doing what their doing even if George Bush tells them to stop and even if it proves to hurt the Republicans.

These men, many of whom I understand are not partisan Republicans, are veterans, so presumably that they don't have to convince themselves of their own bona fides, which contradicts Ferguson's thesis.

As a 31-year-old, my eyes also glaze over when I hear talk about Viet Nam. It's not my generation and it's not my fight (thank God). I also would prefer the election were an argument about the current war. However, now that the ball has gotten rolling on this, I think this is a legitimate issue for the following reasons:

1. These guys represent vast numbers of Viet Nam veterans who, I believe legitimately, feel that John Kerry shamelessly slandered them, calling them "baby killers", "war criminals" etc., and creating the impression that all Viet Nam vets are psychotic losers, leading to their horrible treatment upon returning home etc. If I were in their position and someone like John Kerry were running for president, I would do the exact same thing, and I won't dare imply in any way that they shouldn't be doing this.

2. As has been pointed out ad nauseum, John Kerry has based his entire campaign upon nothing other than his Viet Nam service. He took this way too far. Ferguson was right to compare the DNC to some sort of ceremony for a military junta seizing power. He deserves this pushback.

3. Now that the issue is out there, how he responds to it is instructive. If you belive in the idea that the point of campaigns is not actually the discussion of issues but to place the candidates through a series of ordeals and test their mettle, John Kerry has given an idea as to how he stands up to pressure and it ain't pretty. He whines to George Bush to make it stop, when Bush did nothing of the kind against the mostly baseless attacks of Soros and Michael Moore and his minions. Now he wants to actually, literally have the book banned. His instincts are authoritarian and anti free-speech. And, if he can't stand up to these guys how can he stand up to the Islamo-fascists?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at August 23, 2004 08:49 AM

sigh

Kerry went, he served, I'm grateful. The Swiftboat guys went, they served, I'm grateful. Both did more than I ever have. It's terribly sad that these comrades in arms are having/choosing to go through this fight.

Several thoughts:

1. The truth here is probably unknowable;
2. I think the benefit of the doubt goes to the accused (both for W's AWOL charge and this);
3. Basing a vote for President on this stuff is crazy;
4. Kerry's behavior when he returned from Vietnam was despicable, but that is a seperate issue;
5. Don't we have enough info to judge these two guys on W's three years in office and Kerry's 20 years in the Senate?

This whole episode is simply sad.

Posted by: spc67 at August 23, 2004 09:30 AM

Character counts. As a matter of fact, character (as exemplified by service in Viet Nam) is about the only positive point Kerry runs on. (Everything else seems to be on the order of "I'll do it better than the current Screwup-In-Chief".)

The whole flap over the medals strikes me as either a well-planned or lucky misdirection on the part of Kerry partisans. Slick's excellent rant notwithstanding, the only way to get to the unspun truth of the merits of the medals would be with Mr. Peabody's wayback machine. Not happening. The topic should be dropped.

On the other hand, the Cambodia and the whole CIA taxi service claims are important, because they're subject to verification. And it's clear the Senator has been gilding the lily to the point where it's now an unrecognizable shiny lump.

Equating Kerry's behavior to bragging over beers is at best disingenuous. Telling lies to Congress is another thing entirely.

He did it in 1971 when he claimed that he participated in attrocities. (Or maybe he just was being "over the top"....)

He did it again in 1986, when the memory of being in Cambodia was "seared" into his brain, leading him to believe Nicaragua would become another hotbed of illegal US military intervention.

He's also told these "Heart of Darkness" stories in print over and over, perpetuating the worst stereotypes of American military behavior. Michael, you may be nonplussed over this, but a certain segment of the population was seared by the stories that came out of SE Asia. These people really do believe that the US can never use it's military to good effect. Kerry's words have done their part to feed these fears.

Respect for truth counts.

Has anyone else noticed that documents keep disappearing from Kerry's official site?

I'm not seeing a whole lot of integrity here, folks. (For that matter, I'm not seeing much in the way of competence either.)

BTW part 2: bkw, your observation:

("Bring. It. On." has become "Make them stop!")

Oof, that had to sting.

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 23, 2004 09:33 AM

For the record, Kerry HAS denounce some of the MoveOn ads - this is not necessarily the type of story that gets carried by the RW media, but it is true.

Secondly, Kerry is not "whining" to Bush to make them stop. Obviously, given the law, Bush cant make them stop. But he can do what Kerry has done with regard to the MoveOn ads - i.e. denounce them and dissassociate himself from them. As McCain has done for instance. If Bush is unwilling to do that, it lends credibility to the charge that he is trying to have it both ways. Any journalist worth their salt should be intensly investigating whether there can be any definitive links found between BC04 and the Swifties, and some tantalizing links have been found already (the NYT chart, as well as the guy in one of the ads who turned out to be on the campaign staff). At some point Bush will have to stand up and make clear whether he wants all this to be part of his campaign or not.

To claim that O'Niell's statement - that he would keep at it even if Bush asked him to stop - is somehow proof of anything is absurd. Of course O'Nielll has to say that. If he even hinted that he would stop at Bush's request it would be seen as proof positive that he was controlled by the campaign - it would be an admission of felonious behavior. And it would immediatly put Bush on the spot - he would either have to tell them to stop, or accept full responsibility for everything they say. O'Niell is an accomplished trial lawyer - not a fool.

Finally, Kerry has not made this the sole focus of his campaign. I know Republicans might not want to deal with issues such as Iraq, or the economy, jobs, the environment, etc. But Kerry has spoken to all of those issues, and does so everyday on the stump. To claim that all of this Swiftie stuff is in response to the convention themes is absurd - the book was written long before the convention. It is ridiculous to imagine that this line of attack would not have happened if Kerry had been mum about his service. Would that have assuaged all of the Swifties? I thought their complaint was about what he did in 1971. If he now were to say nothing about his war record, would their objections have evaporated? Would they have judged him "fit for command"?

The convention theme was, I think rather clearly, an attempt to preempt the attacks that he knew would be coming, for they had started months before hand.

Posted by: Tano at August 23, 2004 09:50 AM

Tano, the candidate's acceptance speech should set the tone and frame the issues for the rest of the campaign. Bush's was "compassionate conservatism". Clinton's was "it's the economy, stupid." (Gore's was "it's still the economy, stupid, but I'll give you more.") Bush Sr. had "a thousand points of light." Reagan, if I recall, had a "shining city on the hill."

What was Kerry's takeaway? (Hint: 3 sylables and 30+ years old.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 23, 2004 10:08 AM

The only reason Viet Nam is an issue is because Kerry made it one. Why? He knew that his honor would be questioned? He knew it would rip open old wounds.

His main issue is his heroism in combat, and it looks like it is a bogus issue. He put the issue on the table, not Bush. He's getting killed on it.

I wonder how often liberals are going to trot out in front of the TV cameras defending men of low integrity - Clinton on his sex scandals, and now Kerry on his trumped up war credentials. Aren't they getting sick of swallowing the Koolaid?

Posted by: thedragonflies at August 23, 2004 10:26 AM

Sigh. I don't know why the Weekly Standard has to publish these silly articles; I guess it's to burnish their centrist credentials.

Most of us Republicans would rather that the medals stories go away. In the end, the only proven fact is that Kerry did receive the medals; almost everything else becomes he said/she said.

But I don't condemn the Swiftees, and I don't blame President Bush for not doing so either. They have their story to tell and they have a right to tell it.

And some of Ferguson's points are just plain bizarre. "Some Republicans, when they drink enough beer, really do wonder whether civilian control of the military is such a great idea." Uh, mind naming a couple for us, Andrew? That's completely absurd.

And "Republicans are supporting a candidate that relatively few of them find personally or politically appealing." This is ridiculous; Republicans' support for President Bush is very strong.

Even if I were convinced that Kerry was a war hero (which I largely was before the Swiftees raised significant doubts), I would not support Kerry. This election is not about the past, it is about the future. Kerry would be a disastrous president; that is why I am not voting for him.

Posted by: Brainster at August 23, 2004 11:14 AM

Well, progress is made. Bush statement today:

"That ad and every other ad" run by such groups have no place in the campaign, Bush said when asked about the commercial sponsored by Swift Boat Veterans For Truth that has roiled the race for the White House.

Asked directly whether his Democratic rival for the presidency had lied, Bush said, "I think Senator Kerry served admirably and he ought to be proud of his record."

So my question to the Bush supporters. Is Bush a disingenuous liar? Does he say this, but actually believe the opposite? Could we trust any president who would lie like that?

Or is he some clueless moron who doesnt know what he is talking about - who just cant see what seems so obvious to so many of you?

Or is it just a case of a professional pol actually having higher moral standards than his own supporters? What would that say about all of you?

Posted by: Tano at August 23, 2004 12:06 PM

I say he sounds like a man with clear opinions of his own --a rare quality in presidential candidates these days.

Posted by: E Rey at August 23, 2004 12:19 PM

Tano:

Please wipe the foam from your mouth before you type dude.

The point is obviously this: If Kerry is going to whine and threaten to censor and sue one little 527 that only has raised 150k ($25 from me included in the total btw. Am I now officially part of VRWC? I was disappointed that I wasn't on any of the charts in the times.) then he better damn well be consistent and do the same for the multiple 527s that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to do his campaign's "dirty work". Bush is smart to do this. Now that he's taken this step I trust you'll be hitting the sites of all the pro-Kerry partisans and decrying their cretinous immorality for supporting and believing in Moveon.org, and ACT, and Michael Moore etc. etc. and demand that Kerry disassociate himself from these organizations and persons forthwith. Right?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at August 23, 2004 12:20 PM

I would say that the general consensus of this thread is:

This election shouldn't be about this. Why are we talking about this?

Sort of the consensus to that question is:

Because John Kerry brought it up and is running on it, at least until now. But that only begs the question: why did he do that?

My answer to that:

If you poll the american public, I believe you get the result that 60% of the population thinks that the war is in Iraq is going badly. Half of those think that the war should have never been waged and all the troups should come home. The other half think that we entered this war naively and are not fighting it to our full potential - which we should start doing.

Somehow, John Kerry has to get both of these groups to vote for him. How to do that?

Talk about Vietnam! The peace crowd will think this means he has learned his lesson from Vietnam and will pull out of Iraq. The war crowd will see a war hero and vote for him to take the war to the enemy.

This strategy doesn't seem to be working very well. But the next one can't be any more specific as to the current war. Obsfucation must continue. George Bush, by default has captured the "about right" war crowd. Not too much, not too little.
Capturing the two extreme positions simultaneously will require super-human political skills. Bill Clinton isn't running this time.

James

Posted by: James at August 23, 2004 12:26 PM

Tano, false dichotomy here. Kerry may have served admirably, and deserved all the medals he received, and still acted dishonorably afterwards.

(Bush may have, shall we say, perspective on being on the receiving end of attacks on personal integrity.)

That's why the whole medals issue is a red herring. On the other hand, lying to Congress to fit the needs of the current political wind seems pretty damn dishonorable to me.

Kerry's swimming from Cambodia as fast as he can, but it still seems to be gaining on him.

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 23, 2004 12:32 PM

How are we all going to feel if shortly after the election we suffer from another 9/11 after we spent an expensive, and protracted election cycle squandering the chance to have a robust national debate on foreign policy and our role in the world for the purposes of resolving whether or not hostile bullets were being fired in the Mekong Delta thirty years ago?

I am originally from Massachusetts and have no illusions about John Kerry. He is a self-promoting political animal who was willing to taint the reputation of Swift Vets for the purposes of attaining national attention. Remember John Kerry claimed that he and others personally participated in various war crimes (all within in four month stint)? He certainly digressed quickly. Unless he was going out by himself in the jungle cutting off ears of the Viet Cong, this implies that other Swift Vets were actively participating in war crimes. So I can understand them being angry and wanting some payback. And I have yet to hear any Swift Vet on either side of John Kerry admit to committing any one of the various crimes he enumerated in front of Congress.

The issue of what happened in Vietnam is a predictable deflection by both political parties from addressing current foreign policy issues. It's much easier to get into a mud-slinging campaign about things happening thirty years ago than to substantively address how we will deal with global security and Islamic fascism. We know that any policy direction of substance will inherently have big risks which are unpleasent to contemplate, so it is much safer to debate the past.

This kind of reminds me of the "character" issues that occurred in 1992. The debate was at the expense of talking about issues which had no easy answer: long term deficit reduction. We were somewhat lucky to have a maverick third party candidate to bring the debate back into focus.

Not this year however.

Posted by: bob at August 23, 2004 12:35 PM

dragonflies is so right: Kerry made this an issue. It wouldn't have even been brought up otherwise.

If I was a Democrat, I'd be so pissed off at the party leadership right now.

I think its time for the "Hillary planned all this" angle again.

Posted by: Eric Blair at August 23, 2004 12:36 PM

The idea that thius would never have been brought up if Kerry hadn't been polishing his medals so hard is absolutely absurd.

First, the swift boat guys have been gadflying Kerry for years. 2nd, campaign finance "reform" has begotten us these 527 attack interest groups. This was going to come out, and to blame Kerry for bringing it on himself is utterly laughable, unless it's PROVEN that he made up the cia mission in cambodia story out of whole cloth, as opposed to marshalling anecdotes and so on that merely suggest the claim is dubious.

Posted by: bk at August 23, 2004 12:52 PM

Yeah, Kerry made this an issue. I still think it's a good one for him, though.

With the Swift Vet attacks, he gets two credible (in the minds of swing voters) and helpful counter attacks that are just teed up for him to knock out of the park:

1) "Bush and his cronies pulled the same stunt on McCain in 2000, questioning his military record. This is a pattern, and a sleazy one at that."

2) Even if Kerry embellished his record somewhat, which the Naval service records do not indicate, at least he served (implication: Bush didn't.)

I think there's a huge chance the Swift Vote ads will backfire. Most Republicans love them, but they don't have to be convinced. It's the swing voters that have to be convinced, and the ultimate swing voter candidate is apparently McCain - who has denounced the ads and has been subject to a similar "smear" (scare quotes to denote smearing is in the eye of the beholder) campaign 4 years ago - both of which Kerry and Edwards will play up when they're in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Minnesota, etc....

If you're looking at less than 10% of the electorate, the discussion shouldn't be targetted towards people who already think Kerry is scum, but people who don't know Kerry that well at all - and I don't think these ads will go over so well with moderates.

Having said that, on the plus side, it takes up a lot of time and energy that Kerry might otherwise be spending highlighting the "failures" (again, scare quotes to note that failures are in the eye of the beholder) in Iraq.

/MJT, thanks for the hat tip.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 23, 2004 12:55 PM

Michael,

It was our buddies at the Boston Globe who brought Bob Dole into this dustup. They made the point, recently, that one of Bob Dole's Purple Hearts was for a superficial wound.

There is a post at Captain's Quarters about this:

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/

Towards that end, the Kerry campaign enlisted the hometown Boston Globe to write an editorial denouncing the Swiftvets. The paper, a subsidiary of the New York Times, gladly did so and in the process noted that WWII war hero and former Senator Robert Dole was once given the Purple Heart for a "leg scratch". Dole, whose reputation for political unpleasantness undid more than one bid for the Presidency, came out swinging yesterday -- although not with the arm that was rendered useless in his wartime service to his country, a nuance that the Globe and the Kerry campaign were apparently too stupid to consider:

But at the same time, Bob Dole, the Republican presidential candidate in 1996 and a World War II veteran, called on Mr. Kerry to apologize to Vietnam veterans in a television interview on CNN. He appeared to get behind some of the accusations raised by the group, when its most serious contentions have been undermined by official records and conflicting accounts.

Regards,

Jim Bender

http://dreadnought-cruisers.blogspot.com/

http://anglo-dutch-wars.blogspot.com/

http://kentishknock.com/

Posted by: Jim Bender at August 23, 2004 01:02 PM

Secondly, Kerry is not "whining" to Bush to make them stop. Obviously, given the law, Bush cant make them stop. But he can do what Kerry has done with regard to the MoveOn ads - i.e. denounce them and dissassociate himself from them.

Patently not true. You and I know that Bush can't stop the ads. For that matter Kerry and Edwards know this too, but they appear to think that the rest of us are too stupid to keep up.

ROANOKE, Aug. 21 -- John Edwards demanded Saturday that President Bush call for television ads attacking John F. Kerry's military service in Vietnam to be pulled because they are lies funded by Bush allies.

"This is a moment of truth for George W. Bush," the North Carolina senator told a cheering crowd at a magnet school here, where his campaign stopped for a morning town hall meeting. "We're going to see what kind of man he is and what kind of leader he is. . . . We want to hear from the president of the United States. We don't want to hear rhetoric. We want to hear three words: 'Stop these ads!' "

Saturday night at a fundraiser in the Hamptons, Kerry repeated those sentiments, saying that "they are personally going after me." He declared that "the president needs to stand up and stop that."

While whining is in the eye of the beholder, I think it's pretty plain that Kerry and Edwards are asking for a bit more than a denunciation.

Posted by: Kurt at August 23, 2004 01:08 PM

You and I know that Bush can't stop the ads.

If he can't stop the ads, how can we expect him to stop Iran from getting nukes?

/kidding, really, I am.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 23, 2004 01:10 PM

So-Cal, don't be humble.

You just wrote a Kerry Campaign talking point.

Posted by: TmjUtah at August 23, 2004 01:46 PM

Another great article on Kerry/Vietnam and why it matters.

adeimantus.blogspot.com/2004/08/let-it-alone.html

via Roger Simon's blog commenter.

It's all about the character, the leadership and a modicum of political honesty. We should ask and expect more from presidential candidates.

Posted by: marek at August 23, 2004 01:48 PM

The Kerry campaign seems to be the guys who can't shoot straight. They succeeded in bringing Bob Dole, when he would have stayed on the sidelines:

"Maybe Dole's mad because Democrats sneered that his World War II wounds were self-inflicted back during the 1996 campaign. Why didn't Chris Matthews put a stop to that?" (Glenn Reynolds)

http://www.nationalreview.com/kerry/kerry200408230910.asp (Bob Dole's medals)

If Kerry wants this thing, he and his people need to be a lot more intellectually engaged. Right now, bloggers and critics are running roughshod over them. They need to do more than squeal.

Regards,

Jim Bender

http://dreadnought-cruisers.blogspot.com/

http://anglo-dutch-wars.blogspot.com/

http://kentishknock.com/

Posted by: Jim Bender at August 23, 2004 01:56 PM

1) "Bush and his cronies pulled the same stunt on McCain in 2000, questioning his military record. This is a pattern, and a sleazy one at that."

That's B.S., while there may have been hard ball shit going on, neither Bush nor the campaign questioned McCains medals or his service in Nam.

The supposed "smear" was about legislation for veterans, and Mccains record was clear to see for anyone interested.

Nothing at all to do with medals or made up stories.

Posted by: mnm at August 23, 2004 02:20 PM

Mark writes,

" Kerry may have served admirably, and deserved all the medals he received, and still acted dishonorably afterwards."

That is certainly a logical possibility, and is, as I said originally, a legitimate issue. Personally I think Kerry showed great honor and integrity by assuming a leadership role against the VN war - but if the Swifties and the Republicans want to argue the point - they certainly have that right. So why hasnt that been the focus of their attacks?

"That's why the whole medals issue is a red herring."

Oh, so now it is a red herring? Maybe you are an exception, but I seem to recall several weeks of rather insane ranting from every corner of the right on this issue. Now that all the charges have been demonstrated to be fraudulent, all of a sudden it is a red herring, and we should be focussing on other things (the next smear). Classic.

"On the other hand, lying to Congress to fit the needs of the current political wind seems pretty damn dishonorable to me. "

First off, do you really think that claiming to be in Cambodia in December, when in fact it was January rises to the level of a lie?

And since when has lying to Congres been such a problem for you guys? Bush lies to Congress about the cost of his Medicare bill - when it is clear it would not pass if the truth were known, and thats not a problem? Or how about those contra-era convicted liars who have now been appointed to senior WH positions - like Eliot Abrams who now runs our Mideast policy? Compared to that, getting a date wrong by a couple of weeks seems a bit tame to me...

Posted by: Tano at August 23, 2004 02:36 PM

Conservative Bias in the Media.Your laugh for the day courtesy of CBS.

http://tinyurl.com/6sk3v

Posted by: dougf at August 23, 2004 02:37 PM

" "On the other hand, lying to Congress to fit the needs of the current political wind seems pretty damn dishonorable to me. "

First off, do you really think that claiming to be in Cambodia in December, when in fact it was January rises to the level of a lie?

And since when has lying to Congres been such a problem for you guys? "

When it's a totally falsified life turning point. Makes me, the one of the interviewers - so to speak - highly dubious of everything else the job candidate claims.

And, as far as I can tell, Kerry is the only person who is claiming he was in Cambodia (at any time). Every other eyewitness (including those 'on his boat'), or officer in the chain of command, skipper of the shallower-draft boats that did patrol near the border of Cambodia, or SEAL or CIA-knowlegeable person is saying his story is crap.

When everyone else says you're lying, and when for the first time in history a military man's whole chain of command rises up against his run for President, I take notice.

Posted by: ElaineT at August 23, 2004 03:24 PM

Tano, what part of "Character Counts" don't you get?

Have you read Kerry's speech on the Senate floor? If not, here's the link:

http://instapundit.com/archives/017157.php

The whole point of the "Christmas in Cambodia" speech seems to have been to highlight the illegal nature of the operation, contrasting it to the violated sanctity of the day. In the context of supporting the Contras, it was all about the folly of getting involved in other peoples' wars.

Great story. Too bad it wasn't true.

Yep. I'm one of those avidly not piling onto the medals debate. Don't care, haven't cared.

Since personal anecdotes are so useful in making a point, let me tell you a story. One Sunday after Thanksgiving my wife and I came on a recent accident on I-78. I pulled my car over so I could run out and lead a badly concussed kid who was wandering in the middle of the highway off the road and into the median. Before I could turn back to see if anyone else was hurt three other men were helping me with the kid. What we did was dangerous. We may have saved the kid's life. None of us got a medal.

I'm not saying what I did was anything like what Kerry did. What I am saying is even if it were, it wouldn't have any relevance to whether I'd make a good President. I do think it reflects well on those of us who stopped to help, but that's where it ends.

Back on topic, we can keep playing the "well, Bush is worse!" game; I could bring in Sandy Berger and Joe Wilson. Frankly, I'm not interested. I'm voting the devil I know in this one, simply because I do have a feeling where Bush is going, and I trust he's not going to go off half-cocked in an emergency. I emphatically do not have that faith in Kerry.

On the plus side, if Kerry is elected and reports for duty as he did before, past performance indicates he'll resign after 18 months. By then maybe Edwards will have learned enough to make a reasonable Chief Executive.

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 23, 2004 03:38 PM

For the 800th time:

Kerry brought it up. He based his whole campaign on it. He ignored his 25 yr Senate record to run on his Vietnam record. Okay, then he is asking to be judged on that record.

That record also includes maligning his fellow soldiers, of whom he now wants to be CinC. There are better ways to address foreign policy mistakes than the grandstanding he did in front of Congress. He has not apologized or even admitted he may have been too tempestuous in his youth.

Also, Kerry thinks Iraq is Vietnam. Bush doesn't. That's important for understanding their foreign policy differences.

Also, the media's bias in all this is worthy of note: endlessly hauling out rumors about Bush's service, while trying to attack the Swiftvets before investigating their charges. two completely different standards.

Posted by: Yehudit at August 23, 2004 03:48 PM

Bullshit. He's covering aspects of this story that the media skip over. He also covers damn near everything anyway, very unlike myself.

Glenn is one of the least partisan people in the blogosphere. I'm sure you would know that if you read everything he writes, as I do.

Garbage. He amplifies every set of GOP talking points that comes down the pike, no matter how trivial, linking prodigiously and approvingly to others who give the complete "red meat" version of unadulterated right wing bile.

When a story favorable to Dems breaks, he either ignores it altogether, or performs his other trick of presenting along the lines of "Here's a story that would be good for the Dems, if it were true, and here are five links to people who say that not only is it not true, but in fact it reveals that Democrats are all morally depraved and unfit to govern."

But, Michael, you've already displayed that you're not very good at distinguishing reporting from propaganda.

Posted by: Mork at August 23, 2004 04:04 PM
Garbage. He amplifies every set of GOP talking points that comes down the pike
Like gay marriage and IP rights...

Sure. Whatever you say.

Posted by: Bill at August 23, 2004 04:37 PM

And for one example...

http://instapundit.com/archives/005100.php

Posted by: Bill at August 23, 2004 04:44 PM

The issue is how honest he has been about his service and his accomplishments -- his claims about which form the foundation of his entire argument for why he believes he should be the next POTUS.
**************************************************
Exactly forget what John Kerry did or did not do 30 years ago forget what he has been saying for the last 30 years about it.

THE TRUTH REMAINS

On his official website and or news releases

The John Kerry campaign took credit for:

A vice chairman ship of the Senate Select Comittee on Intelligence NEVER held by him
by instead by BOB KERREY

Also included in his webiste information since
deleted along with some 20 other pages of military
information was action seen by the man he REPLACED
When confronted by Peck the pertinent pages vanished off the Kerry campaign website.

Notice in the above I do not refer to John Kerry as an individual but instead to the Kerrry Campaign.

Do we want this leader of the Kerry Keystone Klutzes to be POTUS?

I REALLY want my President to be able to remember his first name and how to spell his last name. ;-)

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 23, 2004 04:57 PM

...and for select specifics since he's doing a blanket amen to Green, there is the benefit of a quick Instasearch™

Choice:

http://instapundit.com/archives/003006.php

Gay Marriage and Cloning (a two-fer!) Notice that he's even more Liberal than Kerry on that one!

http://instapundit.com/archives/000965.php

Stem Cells:

http://instapundit.com/archives/017093.php

And whatever you do, don't get him started on IP (either that or he "issues" with UberGOPer Orin Hatch).

http://instapundit.com/archives/017222.php

and much much more...

Posted by: Bill at August 23, 2004 05:00 PM

"Democrats are all morally depraved and unfit to govern"--Mork

Finally a post that reflects the reality on the ground.Congratulations,Mork.I did not think you had it in you.
Isn't personal growth wonderful.

Posted by: dougf at August 23, 2004 05:05 PM

I wouldnt go along with Mork in insulting our host, who I think is generally an interesting and honest guy. But I fear that Mork is absolutely right about Instpundit. He has recently seemed to function solely as an amplifying node to connect to all the crazies, while trying to pretend that he is operating on a higher level. I find him to be a fraud.
And unfortunatly that goes double for MJT's other good friend, Roger Simon - who seems to be on a mission to establish his reputation down at the Ann Coulter-Ted Rall level. What a horror show that site has become.
For all the republican partisans, I would point out that these kind of tactics may be momentarily exhilerating, but they carry a real danger of serious backfiring. I suspect the Bushies understad this, which is why they are trying to increase the distance between the Swifties and the prez. The Swifties seem not to be very bright - as I pointed out earlier, they could have mounted an effective (in a negative, divisive sense) attack on Kerry's post-war record and maybe scored some points. But they chose to go full-bore sleaze on his war record, and as the evidence comes out, I sense they are losing ground. In the end, everyone associated with this effort is going to be emanating a stench and finding their reputation in shreds. Having shot their load in August, they will be sidelined for the real action to come.

Which is good. Maybe we can talk about things with a bit more relevance...

And oh yeah, I love the "he brought this on himself" line - as if raising a subject automatically gives your opponent the moral right to lie about it!!!

Posted by: Tano at August 23, 2004 05:28 PM

And oh yeah, I love the "he brought this on himself" line - as if raising a subject automatically gives your opponent the moral right to lie about it!!!
*************************************************
You mean it really IS Bob Kerrey running for President? ;-)

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 23, 2004 05:38 PM

I wouldnt go along with Mork in insulting our host, who I think is generally an interesting and honest guy.

I wouldn't go along with that either, now that I re-read my comment.

I apologise for the intemperate remark.

Posted by: Mork at August 23, 2004 05:40 PM

Tano and Mork,

Bets regards from Bob from Bagdad. Just keep up your great work.

Posted by: marek at August 23, 2004 05:46 PM

Here is my thing. I also don't care what Kerry did over there. I would not even care if he pushed hard to get his purple heart so as to get out. I'm sure I would have done the same if I was there at all. I do not care that GWB was in the National Guard or Bill CLinton dodged the draft or Dan Quayle served in the guard or Dick Cheney got a deferrment or Howard Dean went skiing or ANYTHING else. That said I care deeply that the Democratic party has turned into the parting of scathing dispicable hypocrites. They are all about the angle. We need to find an angle they say. Well they went after the wrong angle because Kerry is obviously less than meets the eye and he has been a blowhard of his war record while ignoring the lies he told as part of a radical communist supported anti-war movement. It was 30 years ago but where is the evidence that he has changed? And the gall, the absolute gall of that scumbag Terry McCauliffe denigrating 200 plus veterans as liars with NO PROOF. Why do Democrats always believe their own no matter how unbelievable? Does character not matter at all? Does it not matter that Kerry demands Bush disavow the Swift Boat Vets who are clearly and obviously an independent group that took money (a small amount) from Republicans while refusing to disavow in ANY way the disgusting ads aired for his benefit by HIS 527 groups. Will he disavow the dispicable liar Michael Moore? Of course not. But he files a frivilous complaint with the SEC claiming without a shred of evidence that the Bush campaign is behind the Swift Boat Vets. His lawyers write to TV stations threatening them with a liable suit if they air the Swift Boat ad. They write to the publisher and "suggest" that they might not want to publish this book. Did Bush do anything like this? Did he? No. He took it like a man and moved on. If Kerry did not have the big media totally on his side, he would be finished. He refuses to release his records. Did Bush not release his records? He did. Why will Kerry not? Could it be because John O'Neill is telling the truth? Again, I don't care what Kerry did or did not do so long as he has repented any poor brhavior and does not manipulate the truth for his advantage. You know I voted for Gore in 2000 and am a Democrat. But they cannot be allowed to get away with this. I have a funny feeling I'm not the only one who feels this way. How can we trust these people to fight the war on terror. It's inconceivable.

Posted by: Doug at August 23, 2004 05:53 PM

Marek,

Thanks, the single best piece I have read on the Kerry/Vietnam issue.

Let it Alone, by Adeimantus

I had missed this point in the infinite discussions

Yes, it's true that under the strict terms of our long-standing domestic truce, John Kerry was not required to apologize for the things he said thirty years ago, even though he himself had more recently tested that truce with his attacks on George Bush's National Guard service. But then in January of this year, to burnish his credentials as a war president, Kerry's authorized biography reported a story implying that his Swift Boat comrades had fled the scene of an enemy attack while he alone returned to rescue the wounded. Honor being such an insignificant thing to John Kerry, he probably had no idea that--with his biography reviving war crimes accusations and, more specifically, implying cowardice on the part of his fellow swiftees--he had broken the domestic truce.

Posted by: jdwill at August 23, 2004 06:21 PM

...he had broken the domestic truce.

Bullshit again. The Bushies were always going to smear Kerry's war record. That's how they operate. It's in their DNA. Whenever a Bush is in a corner, he looks for the low road out. Just ask John McCain.

Posted by: Mork at August 23, 2004 06:28 PM

Methinks thou dost protest to much (and too quickly - try reading it)

Posted by: jdwill at August 23, 2004 06:31 PM

Doug,
Thanks for sharing your thing with us. Now why not try to get your facts straight?
As I have pointed out several times, as a causal reading of the press these days, or, if you prefer, go to factcheck.org - there is no doubt that the Swifties are LIARS. McCauliffe (who I personally cant stand) is absolutely right about them. And there is plenty of proof.

What there isnt any of is any proof, or any evidence to support the swiftie's claims. So, according to you, they can call Kerry, Rassmun, and Kerry's crew (all vets) liars and need not back it up. Yet when their charges are shown repeatedly to be contradicted by the evidence, then it is wrong for Dems to call them liars????

Furthermore, as mentioned before, Kerry HAS denounced some of the MoveOn ads.
And there certainly is a "shred' of evidence that the Swifties are connected with the Bush campaign - one of the guys in the ad just had to quit his position in the Bush campaign. Arent you paying attention at all?

Yes, character is important. And that includes yours. You make a rant full of false statements and have the noive to criticize others?

Posted by: Tano at August 23, 2004 07:00 PM

Tano
Why won't Kerry release ALL is military records?

Why should I Just simply "take him at his word" when his words have meant nothing over the past year, let alone the past twenty years.

Posted by: syn at August 23, 2004 07:28 PM

Furthermore, as mentioned before, Kerry HAS denounced some of the MoveOn ads.
And there certainly is a "shred' of evidence that the Swifties are connected with the Bush campaign - one of the guys in the ad just had to quit his position in the Bush campaign. Arent you paying attention at all?
************************************************
Sure we are. A tiny 527 with a war chest of about 160K a large portion dontated by a Republican is a cause celebre needs to be publicly denounced by Bush and shut down by the Feds, but the top ten 527s which include Moveon.org with a combined warchest of somewhere around 195 Million dollars is another thing entirely because THEIR hearts are pure? ;-)

That about sum it up?

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 23, 2004 07:33 PM

Tano:

The Swifties seem not to be very bright - as I pointed out earlier, they could have mounted an effective (in a negative, divisive sense) attack on Kerry's post-war record and maybe scored some points. But they chose to go full-bore sleaze on his war record, and as the evidence comes out, I sense they are losing ground.

Actually, my sense is they've used the "Christmas in Cambodia" and the ~250 v. ~10 tactics to start the hand, and the next load of excrement to hit the fan will be Winter Soldier.

You don't open with your strongest card.

To your point:

And oh yeah, I love the "he brought this on himself" line - as if raising a subject automatically gives your opponent the moral right to lie about it!

Lies? References please.

And anyway, this is politics, remember? Kerry has put himself in a position of having to defend himself instead of being able to attack the administration. "Bring it on" followed by "You'd better denounce these clowns" is a cold shower on the campaign, even if the detractors are clowns.

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 23, 2004 07:39 PM

Dan,
The issue, at least for me, is not 527s per se. It is false charges. Kerry should denounce false charges made by those who support him. And so should Bush. A 527 making a political argument that is fair is no problem. (Of course being fair doesnt mean you have to agree with it).

Posted by: Tano at August 23, 2004 07:41 PM

MY GOD! I thought I was just being sarcastic by Democratic spokes persons ACTUALLY think like that.

http://www.donaldsensing.com/2004/08/bush-condemns-swift-boat-vets-for.html

"Out of the top-ten-funded 527 groups, nine are openly pro-Kerry, anti-Bush. A Democratic Congressman said this morning on FoxNews that there was no problem with Democratic 527s because SBVT "are liars and Democratic 527s are honest."

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 23, 2004 07:43 PM

Tano,

I refuse to respond to your unnecessary personal attack on me. I stand by everything I said. John O'Neill is telling the truth. I have seen parsing and nitpicking but I have not seen anything resembling a response. I have not heard one person not a Democratic partisan (and that includes the NY Times obviously) call these men liars. I have heard numerous interviews with O'Neill in friendly and unfriendly forums. He is not lying. He has no connection with the Bush campaign other than the fact that a friend of his knows Karl Rove. The group was started independently for the sole purpose of stopping Kerry. It was given a big boost by a single Republican Bush supporter who gave a fraction what the Democratic moneybags gave. They would be doing this no matter what party Kerry belonged to. If he were a Democrat, they would be doing it (with probably much greater contributions from Dem. supporters I imagine) They hate Kerry. Period. For good reason I think. They are not interested in the issues. They are interested in someone they regard as having the character of a viper not become president of the United States. The weight of the evidence is against Kerry. That is just the way it is. You don't see it because you are a Kerry partisan. O'Neill is a prominent Texas lawyer. If he is lying he is opened up for a libel suit. He has begged Kerry to sue him. Begged him to. It will never happen. Kerry will have to face a deposition and he knows better. Kerry will not release his records? Why not? I think they will show what his commanding officers thought of him. (Not much) Anyway you slice it, the Democratic party has become the party of guttersnipes. When Edwards said "Stop the Ads" he was not implying or practically declaring that these ads were part of Bush's planned operation? That's just not true and you know it. Tonight I saw Elaine Karmack, who I once respected, refuse to concede that Bush has been slimed by Democratic supporting 527s. Is Joe Lieberman the only man of honor left in this party? This is the last thing I have to say on this topic. I think you Dems. are making a fatal mistake. You think the country thinks like you do. I say the Swift Boat Vets are going to prevail in the Court of Public Opinion. I don't know what the ultimate effect on the elction will be but I think Kerry is not highly thought of right now.

Posted by: Doug at August 23, 2004 07:46 PM

Mark, I dont want to bore everyone with endless repetition. The anti-Bronze star charges have been proven to be lies by physical evidence, eyewitnesses (including the guy rescued), paperwork and the pure logic (or lack thereof) of the argument. And the anti-silver star charges are simply absurd, as noted above - but they also entailed distortions (unarmed teenager in loincloth) that can only be considered outright lies.

But you are right - this is politics. At its worst. I wouldnt underestimate the Kerry line though. It is not simply a whining to "please stop". I sense it is a calculated move to pressure Bush to either support the swifties (thus going down with them), or to repudiate them (which would be the most effective slap-down). A smart candidate doesnt stoop to arguing with the hatchetmen himself - he either ignores them, or ties them to his opponent, and argues it at that level. So far it is proving effective - he has forced Bush to address the issue, and Bush is playing it pretty smart too - trying to disassociate himself from them as much as possible to avoid the stench, but hoping to at least keep them credible enough to stay in the news till the convention starts. Then they will be history, cuz Bush does NOT want the buzz during his convention to be about 1969, or '71 for that matter.

Posted by: Tano at August 23, 2004 07:53 PM

Tano:

Bore me.

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 23, 2004 08:39 PM

http://www.command-post.org/2004/2_archives/014675.html
Judicial Watch Files Formal Complaint against Kerry
According to their website,

Judicial Watch, Inc. (hereinafter “Judicial Watch”) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption. Judicial Watch, in the interests of the American public, hereby files this formal complaint and request for investigation, determination and final disposition of awards granted to Lieutenant (junior grade) John Forbes Kerry, U.S. Naval Reserve, (hereinafter “Senator Kerry”) under the provision of Paragraph 116 (Requirement for Honorable Service), SECNAV Instruction 1650.1G (Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual) dated 7 January 2002.
Amongst the complaints are controversial accusations about Senator Kerry’s medals, an issue that has (finally) gotten into the press. But there is a rather less controversial issue, more serious and not reliant on subjective eyewitness accounts. The allegations continue :

According to publicly available records, Senator Kerry was released from Active Duty and transferred to the Naval Reserve (inactive) on 3 January 1970. On 1 July 1972 he was transferred to the Standby Reserve (inactive). While a commissioned officer in the inactive Naval Reserve, Senator Kerry traveled to Paris, France and met with official delegations from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the Provisional Revolutionary Government (the Viet Cong). The Vietnamese Communists eagerly met Senator Kerry and benefited directly from the obvious propaganda victory (See Exhibit 2, page 126 - 129).
These acts are clear violations of the legal prohibitions on individual citizens negotiating with foreign powers (18 U.S.C. ’ 953) and the constitutional prohibition against giving support to our nation’s enemies in wartime (Article III, Section 3). Additionally, as a commissioned officer of the Naval Reserve, Senator Kerry was subject to the UCMJ, and likely violated Article 104 (“Aiding the Enemy”) through his actions with the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong delegation.

Senator Kerry returned from his private negotiations with the Vietnamese Communists to Washington, DC and held a press conference. At that press event, Senator Kerry advocated a Vietnamese Communist “peace proposal” calling for a U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam and payment of war damage reparations to the Communist government. Senator Kerry engaged in this advocacy on behalf of a foreign power with who we were at war while continuing to hold a commission as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 23, 2004 09:42 PM
Kerry is a LIEberal! He was never in Vietnam!

Bush will save America from the DEMONcrats!

Posted by: Ralph Gaydar at August 23, 2004 10:32 PM

Thanks Ralph. Go to your room.

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 23, 2004 10:51 PM

Wow, I never imagined that my first attempt at "ranting" would generate so much passionate debate! I'm truly flattered. I was all set to write this fun-filled comeback to my new friend Tano, but jdwill COMPLETELY beat me to the punch. Nice work, friend. Tano just had a problem understanding- and I'm certain he is now better educated. To everything else that has been written in support of, or in denial of, my perhaps-a-little-too-heartfelt rant, I'll say only this:

I, like many of the Swiftees, am not a Bush-supporter. I'll vote for the guy who I believe will be best for the country that I chose to fight for (and my friends have died for). I didn't vote for Bush or Gore in 2000. I'll probably vote for W this year, although it saddens me that it'll REALLY be a vote against Kerry. I'm not gonna say that W is some superhero who has all the answers all the time. I think he's a less-than-stellar public speaker. I think he's a humble guy who lets the smart people do their jobs. I've just grown totally sick of Democrats as a whole. I know it's not right to sterotype, but what they're doing to our country bothers me more and more each day. Clinton did a great job defending his own sexual indiscretions while terrorists were actively plotting the most devastating attack our nation has ever seen. That Governor from NJ picked a Homeland Security Advisor with no real credentials, but hey- he writes great poems and is apparently pretty hot in the sack. And Kerry? Well, I think I've covered him in great detail. Yes, these are the people they want RUNNING OUR COUNTRY while we're smack in the middle of a war for our own survival.

Kerry is a disgrace, and 200+ brave and honorable men are getting that word out. No vets would EVER go after another vet like this unless he REALLY deserved it. Our bonds go way beyond the tawdry nonsense of political strife. Our brotherhood has no philosophical barriers or boundaries. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this whole thing ends up hurting the Bush campaign. I could care less. I've just decided to help the truth get out there so that you people who are going to vote for Kerry (and you WILL vote for him) understand just who it is you're voting for. And I hope you're able to look at yourselves in the mirror...

Posted by: $lick at August 23, 2004 11:29 PM

From my parents basement, I stab at thee!

Posted by: blogee at August 23, 2004 11:46 PM

No vets would EVER go after another vet like this unless he REALLY deserved it.

Does Jim Rassman "deserve it"? Because these guys are going after him, too. What about Jim Russell, William Rood and the crew of Kerry's boat, all of whom are vets whose reputations are under attack by these people. What about Max Cleland and John McCain? Did they "deserve it" too, when the same slime machine went after them?

You go on to try to tell us that we're "smack in the middle of a war for our own survival" and yet you want everyone to talk about the details of a minor firefight that took place 40 years ago.

That doesn't add up, pal. If you really believed that we were in the midst of a crisis, and you still thought that it was a good idea to distract and divide people with this dishonest trivia, you'd be a very sorry excuse for a patriot. You oughta make up your mind whether we're in a situation that demands that we be at our best, or if so little is at stake that it doesn't really matter if you lie your ass off for politics.

Posted by: Mork at August 24, 2004 12:23 AM

Nice try, Mork. Like many in the Kerry camp, you attempt to defend him by deflecting the issue. But it's not gonna work with me. Sorry. Nobody's going after the reputations of Jim Rassman, Jim Russell, William Rood and the crew of Kerry's boat. I haven't seen ONE thing that would convince me that ANYONE is going after those guys. They may disagree with them over what happened regarding specific events- so what?!?!? You disagree with me obviously- but I would HARDLY call that an "attack on my reputation." I'm sorry, I don't recall any of the Swiftees going after Max Cleland or John McCain. Whoever went after them, went after them for POLITICAL reasons, and they should be ashamed. The Swiftees have no issues with Kerry's politics (how could they- Kerry never even MENTIONS his politics!). They have issues with him as a man, as a veteran who disgraced (and endangered) other veterans for personal gain and now pretends to be a hero. I like your effort to deflect from the issue at hand, but I'm afraid you fell far short.

You're 100% right when I insist that we're "smack in the middle of a war for our own survival." That's great that you highlight that, because it's exactly why we can't afford to have a medal-chasing, self-serving, vote-chasing FLIP-FLOPPER in the White House. But then you insist that I want "everyone to talk about the details of a minor firefight that took place 40 years ago." Um...sorry guy- go back to my first post. It clearly states that I find the details of that firefight (and the whole medal controversy) to be entirely insignificant with respect to this election. Just go back and read it for me, OK? Thanks. I'd also like to add that KERRY is the one who centered his campaign around Vietnam- not me. I still can't believe what a stupid, stupid move that was.

Wanna talk about slime machines? Michael Moore and George Soros are the slimiest of the slimy. Moore would even stoop so low as to distribute propaganda (now being used as a terrorist-recruiting device) containing humiliating and grossly inaccurate portrayals of American soldiers in action in order to generate some blood-stained income and thumb his nose at a President he doesn't like. Where's your outrage now, Mork? Hmmmm....

This is my favorite part of your post:

"If you really believed that we were in the midst of a crisis, and you still thought that it was a good idea to distract and divide people with this dishonest trivia, you'd be a very sorry excuse for a patriot. You oughta make up your mind whether we're in a situation that demands that we be at our best, or if so little is at stake that it doesn't really matter if you lie your ass off for politics."

Distracting? Dividing? Dishonest trivia? Lying for politics! Wow, that sounds a lot like a description of John Kerry!!! Brilliant! Yeah, I'll go back to what I said before, which I'm now CONVINCED you did not read. I'm simply informing the non-military community that John Kerry as Commander-in-Chief is absolutely unthinkable, bogus medals or not. Go back and read my first post.

Posted by: $lick at August 24, 2004 01:25 AM

$lick - given the other lies in your posts, why on earth would anyone believe your claim that you are a veteran?

Not about politics ... my ass.

Posted by: Mork at August 24, 2004 02:24 AM

Read the LAT, WaPo yesterday.
No mention of Kerry LIED about being illegally in Cambodia, Christmas 68.
Kerry LIED.

Tano, get used to it. You hate Bush (why? um, wasn't it because you think "Bush lied"? Your main Bush's word quote that he knew was untrue when he said would be useful here). You hate Bush enough to vote for Kerry the LIAR.

Any press that hasn't clearly noted that Kerry LIED, is partisan hack for Dems. Yep, Leftist bias at most of them. The Press should have made Kerry "apologize" in 1986; but at that time Reagan-hate blinded them. Now, Bush-hate has them supporting a liar.

The press also don't mention that Kerry promised to release his records, but hasn't signed Form 180.
Nor does the press note the days and nights Kerry spent in the hospital -- even Harry Potter spent days in the hospital. How bad WAS his bleeding? Prolly not very.

OK, admirable service (like Bush said!). Not admirable boasting. Nor completely true.

Posted by: Tom Grey at August 24, 2004 04:16 AM

DanK:

You have highlited the part of this discussion I'm waiting for. So far the media has restricted the focus to Senator Kerry's medals and that is right where he would like it to remain. The media feels they have already put to bed the Christmas in Cambodia story. Senator Kerry covers his moth and giggling asks "Did I say that out loud? Oops.".

The focus should be on Winter Soldier, sworn testimony of war crimes and trips to Paris while a member of the US Armed Forces. The whole argument about medals is trivial. The rest is about (all you Dems cover your ears) truth, honor, loyalty and patriotism. Traits that Senator Kerry hides with great success.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 24, 2004 04:16 AM

Mork,

I'm not at all concerned whether you or anyone else believes I'm a veteran. But that's another AWESOME attempt at deflecting the issue! It's not gonna go away, Mork. It's there. The awful truth that destroys your insides- and the Swifties are not politically motivated. They are financed by people who are politically motivated (hey, the money's gotta come from SOMEWHERE, right George Soros?), but they are driven by nothing more than the truth. It's not gonna go away, Mork. Kerry lied, fled, chased medals, flip-flopped, disgraced his fellow veterans- hell, he even disgraced his own country. It's not gonna go away, Mork. Politically motivated smearing is something that the left is very good at. It's therefore perfectly understandable why you would think that there is no other motivation in existence for an attack like this. Well, I'm sorry (I really am), but there IS something else. It's called the truth. And it's not gonna go away, Mork. Attack me, my credibility as a veteran, Bush's NG record, Republicans in general, the Swifties, your parents, whoever you can fit on your list. Attack, attack, attack. Please. BRING IT ON. It's not gonna go away, Mork.

Posted by: $lick at August 24, 2004 04:31 AM

Yep; Let it Alone is good!
http://adeimantus.blogspot.com/2004/08/let-it-alone.html

Posted by: Tom Grey at August 24, 2004 05:01 AM

Well, after a week and change of living in the Current Middle Ages at the 39th Annual Pennsic War, I return to find that this reality is still the same.

When I left, there were a band of insurgents loyal to Sadr, the US expected a quick and decisive end... from what I hear on the news today, they're still fighting.

And what are people in the Blogsphere talking about? The War? The economy? Maybe the issues of Health Care, Civil Liberties, The current War, The War on Terror, etc. etc. etc.?

Alas, I find them concerned with the War record of John Kerry. Now, just so I'm caught up, let me see if I have this straight:

1. John Kerry volunterred to go to Vietnam.

2. John Kerry commanded a boat of some sort.

3. At some point, the official record states that Kerry managed some heroic act which saved American lives (turning his boat toward the shore or something).

4. No one has disputed this stuff for 30 some years, in fact Kerry was commended 8 years ago by one vet for his actions.

5. Now, during the election year, suddenly a group of Texan Vets have come forward and claimed that The Official War reord is wrong and the Kerry didn't deserve his medals and wasn't all that Heroic.

6. The individuals who are financing the Vets for Truth are friends of Bush or Members of the Bush team (Administration or Re-Election).

7. Those who served directly with Kerry (on his boat) support him, one even recounting how Kerry personally risked his life to save this other solider. This Vet says he is the one who recommended Kerry for a Silver Star.

8. Kerry's War record is in the Public records, and easily viewable by anyone.

9. President Bush has yet to clear up the issues with his record in the National Guard.

10. We have two Presidential Canidates. One, who according to his crewmates, risked his life directly for American soliders. The other, according to the official records flew some planes round the US Airspace. Had a dental appointment, maybe and ... ummm... well thats about it.

Did I miss anything?

It may just be me, but this has all the markings of a FNORD. Something used to distract, detract and bring an uncomfortable feeling of Doubt to this election cycle.

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 24, 2004 07:04 AM

Kerry brought it up. He based his whole campaign on it.

If you're interested in Kerry's ideas about policy, his website has a whole lot of detail. It's been reasonably stable, he seems to have it thought out.

Bush on the other hand is coming up with all sorts of new stuff, that he never gave us any inkling of until now. Kind of like his father the Education President. I really like the idea of eliminating the income tax. (Or maybe eliminate it for everybody who makes less than $500,000 a year.) But what's the chance he'll carry it out? When you look at what he's done compared to what he campaigned on last time, why would you believe anything he says?

Posted by: J Thomas at August 24, 2004 08:26 AM

Tosk,

You missed a heck of a lot. At least half of the items on your list are simply factually wrong and most of the rest are distortions. In fact it looks like a dem partisan talking points list.

If you want to get up to speed on this, you can read Glenn Reynolds and his sources for the past 2 weeks. Then come back and we can have a serious discussion that does not involve you parroting the DU party line. As someone who claims to be independent and skeptical, I'm quite surprised to see you swallowing that DU bait.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at August 24, 2004 08:32 AM

"Did I miss anything?"

Yeah, quite a bit.

Also point 5,6,7,8,9 are inaccurate.

Have you read unfit for command, or even looked at www.swiftvets.com Over 200 swift boat vets have something to say about Kerry.

Why bother, they are all part of the VRWC, right?

Posted by: mnm at August 24, 2004 08:33 AM

When I look at Kerry's biography, the biggest thing is the sense that this is a guy who's lazy...with a mean sense of entitlement.

Remember, after Tet, the army made the requirements for the purple heart more strident, requiring a week's worth of medical treatment (in terms of the required two purple hearts for an infantryman to be moved to the rear). Kerry knew what he was doing when he put himself in for the swiftboats and the medals.

Kerry's simply a gifted opportunist, a lazy, unaccomplished one at that. I dread the freakshow he'll bring to the whitehouse.

OT, anyone see that interview with the american women's softball team? Get ready for another olympic scandal if they do a nut-check on these women; they sounded like a bunch of teamsters.

Posted by: Raymond at August 24, 2004 08:42 AM

Mork. Kerry lied, fled, chased medals, flip-flopped, disgraced his fellow veterans- hell, he even disgraced his own country.

--the only way he might have disgraced vets is by not unequivocally calling for the end to this pointless bloody conflict. otherwise, during the war he was just saying what whole lot of vets were saying, namely that the people who made this war put soldiers in the position of having to defend a corrupt dictatorship in "south" vietnam in the name of defending "democracy".
check out the c-span video of the debate between oneill and kerry :

http://www.c-span.org/search/basic.asp?ResultStart=1&ResultCount=10&BasicQueryText=john+kerry+john+o%27neill

kerry makes oneill sound like a petty prowar extremist. this should be required viewing for americans.

Posted by: alice at August 24, 2004 09:41 AM

OT, anyone see that interview with the american women's softball team? Get ready for another olympic scandal if they do a nut-check on these women; they sounded like a bunch of teamsters.

--even more dangerous will be interviews with the iraqi soccer team, given their call for Bush to stop using them for his campaign.

"Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir scored a goal here on Wednesday night, setting off a rousing celebration among the 1,500 Iraqi soccer supporters at Pampeloponnisiako Stadium. Though Iraq -- the surprise team of the Olympics -- would lose to Morocco 2-1, it hardly mattered as the Iraqis won Group D with a 2-1 record and now face Australia in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Afterward, Sadir had a message for U.S. president George W. Bush, who is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements.

In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."

(To see the ad, click here.)

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/olympics/2004/writers/08/19/iraq/

Posted by: alice at August 24, 2004 09:43 AM

The democrats should have nominated Dean.

They tried to go with someone they thought could appeal to both pro-war and anti-war types. They wound up with someone who is intellectually dishonest.

Posted by: allyk at August 24, 2004 10:44 AM

Hrmmm,

Well, it looks to me like the Swiftboat fellows are saying a lot... but not actually providing evidence. At least I didn't see evidence on their site. I saw alegations, I saw accusations and I saw the comments of some vets... but I still don't see any evidence.

If someone would care to point me to evidence, I'd love to read it.

Let's see...

mnm says ythat my 5,6,7,8 and 9 points are incorrect.
5. Now, during the election year, suddenly a group of Texan Vets have come forward and claimed that The Official War reord is wrong and the Kerry didn't deserve his medals and wasn't all that Heroic.

Before I went on vacation, I'm pretty sure that I read that the vets who started this were from Texas... is that wrong?

6. The individuals who are financing the Vets for Truth are friends of Bush or Members of the Bush team (Administration or Re-Election).

So none of the people involved have ties to the re-election campaign, or are close friends with members of the Administration?

7. Those who served directly with Kerry (on his boat) support him, one even recounting how Kerry personally risked his life to save this other solider. This Vet says he is the one who recommended Kerry for a Silver Star.

Now I know that one is right, because I just read some of them today. Including the one from the poor sap that fell in the water and got pulled out by Kerry.

8. Kerry's War record is in the Public records, and easily viewable by anyone.

I saw just about 20 minutes ago that not all of his record is open.... It would probably be a good idea for him to open those.

9. President Bush has yet to clear up the issues with his record in the National Guard.

Unless that got cleared up last week, there were still several unanswered questions. Did they magically find the documents that accidently got destroyed?

I'm all for truth and facts, but I haven't seen any to support the Swiftboat guys yet. Now maybe they have an Ace up their sleeve, but until they pull it out, I'm not gonna take their word for it.

Hell, I don't take anyone's word for anything. I've known too many humans.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 24, 2004 12:19 PM

Allyk, sometimes I wish we could get an honest president. I personally liked Carter's honesty though I know a lot of americans didn't.

I've heard a fair number of people say "Carter was a good man. He was just too good to be President.". I think it's fine for a good, honest man like Carter to be President. We haven't had one since, they were all intellectually dishonest, every one.

My big complaint with Bush is that he's both intellectually dishonest and utterly incompetent. He hired incompetent advisors and he hasn't fired them.

I guess you could say he fired Tenet, who at first let the CIA tell Bush that iraq didn't have nukes etc, and then made them give Bush all the weak lying evidence they had that said he did, and then finally agreed that his CIA had pushed Bush into the war with wrong info. But pretty much all the others are still there.

If he's no good himself and he hires advisors who're worse, what good is he? Kerry might turn out just as bad but at least it isn't guaranteed. With Bush we can depend on four more years of utter incompetence. I'll take the hope of an improvement over the certainty of four more years of Bush.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 24, 2004 12:26 PM

Oh, I finally recalled the names of the people I was thinking of in point number 6.

1. Bob Perry, friend of Carl Rove bankrolled the group with $200,000.

2. Ken Cordier - Part of the 2004 GWB re-election campaign.

3. Paul Galanti - Appointed to a Bush Advixsory Board.

Now, if these aren't the same people who now are supporting the Swifties then cool... if they are then it should, at least, require a bit of evidence before one believes these fellows.

I don't know what Kerry did or didn't do in Vietnam. None of us here do. All that we have, which is at all "trustworthy" is the official record. The official record says that Kerry deserved all of his medals.

The official record on Bush's service, last I checked was still somewhat MIA.

Talk about pots and kettles calling each other names.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 24, 2004 12:34 PM

8. Kerry's War record is in the Public records, and easily viewable by anyone.
Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

Posted by Ratatosk at August 24, 2004 07:04 AM
*************************************************
I would say you missed this one by a country mile.

Or has Kerry signed Form 180 as Bush has done?

Oh and could you explain why when the man Kerry replaced Peck challenged him on his website taking credit for the action Peck was in and received the wounds resulting in Kerry replacing him, about 20 pages of military info on the Kerry website, vanished?

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at August 24, 2004 01:31 PM

Why reward incompetence? ;-))

Vote Your Pocketbook
http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/002320.php

John Kerry and the Democrats have spent over $60 million dollars in 527 money over eight months or more to derail the Bush re-election bid. The result -- Bush, a figure of hatred on the left, has suffered a few points of job-approval erosion, most of which has been regained in the past month.

  • George Bush and the Republicans have spent $250,000 in 527 money over the past three weeks in order to attack Kerry. The result -- John Kerry has had to retreat from three different assertions of his Viet Nam record, he's hiding from the press, he's begging George Bush to stop the ads, and now he's calling veterans from his unit asking why they despise him.

Heck ... just on the basis of wise money management and bang for my buck, I'd have to vote Republican. They've gotten far more out of their investment, 0.5% of the Democrats' bill, than the Kerry campaign has from theirs. Why reward incompetence?

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at August 24, 2004 01:35 PM

***inacurracies***

5. Now, during the election year, suddenly a group of Texan Vets have come forward and claimed that The Official War reord is wrong and the Kerry didn't deserve his medals and wasn't all that Heroic.

If you are saying they are all from Texas, that is inaccurate.

6. The individuals who are financing the Vets for Truth are friends of Bush or Members of the Bush team (Administration or Re-Election).

If you are saying that all people who donated to the swiftvets are either friends or members of the bush official campaign, again that is inaccurate. Do you have a list of the contributors. Im guessing the list is getting rather lengthy as average americans are seeing the ads.

7. Those who served directly with Kerry (on his boat) support him, one even recounting how Kerry personally risked his life to save this other solider. This Vet says he is the one who recommended Kerry for a Silver Star.

"My name is Steve Gardner. I served in 1966 and 1967 on my first tour of duty in Vietnam on Swift boats, and I did my second tour in '68 and '69, involved with John Kerry in the last 2 1/2 months of my tour. The John Kerry that I know is not the John Kerry that everybody else is portraying. I served alongside him and behind him, five feet away from him in a gun tub, and watched as he made indecisive moves with our boat, put our boats in jeopardy, put our crews in jeopardy... if a man like that can't handle that 6-man crew boat, how can you expect him to be our Commander-in-Chief?"

-- Steven Gardner

Apparently Mr. Gardner would say your statement is inaccurate.

8. Kerry's War record is in the Public records, and easily viewable by anyone.

Ok, I guess you realize he hasnt signed the SF180

9. President Bush has yet to clear up the issues with his record in the National Guard.

OK. Not sure what issue youre talking about. I dont recall anyone in the same command as Bush coming out against him. Damn near everyone in Kerrys command has come out against him.

Tosk, not all the swiftvets are evil republicans. The sheer number of men in Kerrys command who have come out against him should tell you something. Yes, it was over 30 years ago, but Kerry is now running on his service record from 30 years ago.

"Bring it on"

Brought it.

Posted by: mnm at August 24, 2004 03:14 PM

Tosk,

Just to address a couple of your points. In the business of politics, you could draw a direct line between any two political activists with 1 or 2 connections. Friends of Friends, so to speak. It's not conspiracy, it's the rule of social networks.

One of the swift boat vets for truth served on Kerry's boat under his command. So your point 7 is wrong. It's not too surprising that most of a man's subordinates think one thing of him and the vast majority of his peers and all his supervisors think something else.

Your point 1 is also misleading -- Kerry volunteered for Vietnam after being rejected for a draft deferral.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at August 24, 2004 03:15 PM

Terry Sater, a Vietnam Vet who served with the Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta during 1968 and 1969. He writes that "I'm not part of a 527. I voted for McGovern, Perot and Bush. I didn't volunteer for Nam. I didn't want to go. I am not a hero. I served with heroes. Kerry has dishonored all of us."

Sater said he sent the letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but doesn't expect it will run. It it is reprinted here in its entirety:

People don't get it. They point out how "suspicious" it is that the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" are "only now" coming out with their charges, as though they should have formed their organization to refute John Kerry when he was a twenty-six year old nobody. Kerry has made his service in Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign. He has only himself to blame that his service has been questioned. Michael Moore and Whoopie Goldberg spew their venom. The "MoveOn.org" website carries the motto "Democracy in Action". The Swift Boat Veterans are supposed to shut up.

http://michellemalkin.com/archives/000439.htm

Read the rest.

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 24, 2004 05:04 PM

J Thomas-

My point was really just that the Democrats did not pick their best candidate.

Back at the beginning of the Dem primaries, Bush was near his popularity peak. Saddam had recently been captured, the economy was finally beginning to pick up a little.

So the dems were scared to go with their gut (Dean) and instead tried to pick someone they thought might appeal to some of Bush's supporters because he had initially supported the war and had military experience, but would still appeal to the base.

If Dean were the nominee, he could be forcefully attacking Bush on Iraq. Kerry tries to, but the Bush camp is able to run ads showing coflicting statements for nearly every position Kerry takes.

Bush has many weaknesses, but Kerry actually highlight's Bush's strengths.

You may think Bush is inept, but he is consistent. The Dem's should've fought fire with fire by going with consistency in their own candidate.

By the way, I think arguing that Bush was inept at handling the aftermath of the war is inherently a losing position, because no matter how much carefully you phrase it, the fact remains that the U.S. military basically planned and executed the war. Saying the war was right ideologically but executed badly ultimatley vindicates Bush's policy while disparaging the troops.

Better to have a candidate that can attack the rationale for the war itself instead of focusing on the execution.

Posted by: allyk at August 24, 2004 06:36 PM

And if you read blogs and emails from troops in Iraq, even though Kerry & (most of) the media are arguing it's Bush's fault that the war was executed badly, the troops are taking attacks on the execution of the war as attacks on their performance.

Posted by: allyk at August 24, 2004 06:42 PM

And that point about rationale for war versus execution of war sort of connects back to Kerry's anti-war activities in the 70s. His real target was the political leadership, but by focusing on the execution of the war (i.e. saying many troops committed atrocities), he ultimately alienated the Vietnam Vets.

Posted by: allyk at August 24, 2004 07:12 PM

Wow, so much has happened since I went to bed last night- and yet I have nobody to debate! Seems like everyone's on board now, so I guess I can shut up and take my case elsewhere. I have to say, there are some seriously smart people on this site. Maybe I'll check it out again from time to time. allyk has some valid points with respect to anti-war and pro-war activities and tactics. I'd like to address that, but that's for a different forum...Cheers from Kuwait!

Posted by: $lick at August 24, 2004 11:04 PM

My point was really just that the Democrats did not pick their best candidate.

I have to agree with you there. Kerry wouldn't be my first pick for a democratic candidate, and Bush would be about my 2nd-last pick for a republican candidate. If Buth and Cheney would only step down, practically any republican alternative would be better now.

We need a better way for the parties to pick candidates, the way we have isn't working. Kerry seems like a middle-of-the-pack choice, lots of others just as good, while Bush is a disaster.

You may think Bush is inept, but he is consistent.

Consistently inept is not a virtue. If he gave some indication he learned from his mistakes then I'd feel like he at least had more experience now than he did when he went in. But no, he talks like not learning from experience is "being consistent". It's a hobgoblin for him.

By the way, I think arguing that Bush was inept at handling the aftermath of the war is inherently a losing position, because no matter how much carefully you phrase it, the fact remains that the U.S. military basically planned and executed the war.

Bush put Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld in. They put aside Shinseki's planning and snubbed him. The army guys knew they had to do it Rumsfeld's way and not give him any backtalk. They've done very well at following orders. I believe more of them should have resigned rather than follow those orders, but that's a tough decision for a career officer and I can't be sure I would have done it if it was me.

The army had very little influence over the Bremer and the CPA. Those are the ones who really fell down on the job. It appears that Bush never asked the questions that could have revealed the problems. Bush appointed incompetents and never checked up on them. Not good.

Saying the war was right ideologically but executed badly ultimatley vindicates Bush's policy while disparaging the troops.

I can't say the war was right ideologically. The occupation is clearly being executed badly and has been all along. It makes no sense to blame the troops for that -- there aren't enough of them and they've been putting out fires and dealing with emergencies because of it. No time to think. Mortars coming in at all hours to disrupt their sleep. They can't protect the water works and power plants and pipelines and everything else, they're getting so many attacks it's all they can do to protect themselves. That isn't their fault. It's Rumsfeld's fault, they told him how many occupation troops were needed and he decided there would be no problems. He said we'd be down to 30,000 troops in iraq by now. Bush has not fired Rumsfeld, he hasn't reprimanded him, I haven't heard that he's reviewed the new plans. Fool me once....

Tenet is gone. Some people say he was the one who lied to Bush about the WMDs.

Bush needs to get rid of the guy who lied to him about the occupation, get rid of the guy who lied to him about the budget, get rid of the guy who lied to him about the recovery, get rid of the guy who lied to him about security, get rid of the guy who lied to him about social security, and get rid of the guy who lied to him about education.

But he's shown no sign he's noticed that there's any problem. So we need to get rid of Bush.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 25, 2004 12:11 AM

I know the common ideology is that this election shouldn't be decided on a 30 year old war and in a way agree but one thing really bothers me. Anyone remember the incident a few months back where a secret service agent knocked Kerry down and Kerry cursed at him? He cursed a man that by definition has to be willing to die for him and why? Because he ruined a photo-op.

Kerry gained national recognition with what has been proven to be at the very least questionable charges. He slandered his brothers in arms and why? Well, a photo-op had presented itself.

Now he is embracing men he had no love for 30 years ago. He is retelling the stories of how he won medals even though he threw them away. In his acceptance speech he spoke of how he defended this country but by every other account of that war and many of his tellings of Iraq, it wasn't a matter of defending this country.

Simply, Kerry has made a life of doing whatever it takes to advance his own career, even if it means being a complete and unapologetic hypocrit. Examining the beginning of that hypocracy is relevant especially when he keeps bringing it up.

Posted by: LastStand at August 25, 2004 05:31 AM

The real animus against Kerry is in response to the statement that he made to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. I am trying to understand what he said there that was unacceptable. Of course, it would be outrageous if the "investigation" he spoke of was an entirely bogus one, consisting of real Vietnam Vets fabricating stories of atrocities that in fact never occured. But that is not being alleged. Instead, Kerry is criticized for painting ALL Vietnam veterans with the same brush, which at least from his statement he does not seem to do. Or, he is being criticized for being a "whistleblower."

As long as we are going to focus on this issue, maybe we should take a look at the actual testimony from the Winter Soldier Investigation.
Do those who are outraged about Kerry's 1971 testimony maintain that all of of this testimony is fraudulent? On what basis? Or is the opposition to the very concept of the wartime whistleblower, in Vietnam and perhaps also in Iraq?

Here is Kerry's speech, and a link to the Winter Soldier Investigation testimony.
"I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit - the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We call this investigation the Winter Soldier Investigation. The term Winter Soldier is a play on words of Thomas Paine's in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriots and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough..."

http://lists.village.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Resources/Primary/Winter_Soldier/WS_entry.html

Posted by: Markus rose at August 25, 2004 06:35 AM

J. Thomas

"The occupation is clearly being executed badly and has been all along. It makes no sense to blame the troops for that -- there aren't enough of them and they've been putting out fires and dealing with emergencies because of it."

Maybe they have a plan and everything is going as planned. You know armies don't usually detail their plans and put them out for public approval. I dont remember Bush or anyone in the military putting time frames on when the fighting would stop or that their would not be any resistance, or how long it would take to totally defeat the resistance. Using historical comparisons, I would say the war is going rather well.
Why are people saying the war is a failure. Is it simply because they do not know or understand the plan. J. Thomas what is the plan? For over a year the left has been saying the plan or lack of has failed.

One thing is for sure, the lefts constant claims of failure hearten our enemy and dishearten our troops. I find it sickening, personally.

Posted by: mnm at August 25, 2004 06:51 AM

LastStand,

"I know the common ideology is that this election shouldn't be decided on a 30 year old war "

You're right, this is a common meme, but, in and of itself, it bothers me. I think the discussion of what happened in 1971 is pertinent, because if you look closely, many of the same players/idealogies that wanted us out of Vietnam, want us out of Iraq.

Its not just the slander of his band of brothers, its the willingness of the VVAW and others to use any device, any slander to acheive their goal, ie., the Winter Soldier 'Investigation'.

I don't have time to develop this thoroughly till I get off work, but the stakes are huge. If America backs down again because of self-doubt, egged on by activists with questionable association and dubious honesty, the 'dialogue' we are having with Islamism could be set back 50 years.

Take a good look at Kerry's association with Fonda, and her association with Madam Bien?, etal. Ask yourself, how would you go about winning against America, with its military might? Would you attempt to sow political discord? Who would you use to do this?

Would the same tactics work today? Were they tried in the runup to May 2003?

Cheers all, back later.

Posted by: jdwill at August 25, 2004 07:03 AM

Mnm, if the war in iraq is going according to plan, how come Rumsfeld predicted we'd be down to 50,000 troops in iraq now?

If anybody predicted it would be as bad as it is now would they have let Bush do his MISSION ACCOMPLISHED photo op? It makes him look very very bad now, and it isn't something he would have done if what we have now is the plan.

We have various shortages. Body armor shortage, vehicle armor shortage, C4 shortage, etc. If this was the plan, why didn't we ramp up production of the things we're short on?

The iraqi warriors we're training get kalashnikovs and no body armor and they ride around on unarmored trucks. We train them to win with those handicaps, and they get to see the difference between what we train them to do and what we do. That might be policy, but we have no choice since we don't have good equipment to spare for them.

There's lots more, but this is enough. If the grand strategy got overtaken by events and we're scrambling for some kind of win, then OK, that's what we have to do. But if this is the grand strategy then we need to find whoever made it and have a treason trial.

Bush appointed the guys who said this would be a cakewalk. They still have the same positions and there's no evidence -- even anecdotal evidence -- that they've learned anything.

Bush is inadequate. Kerry might be just as bad but there's a chance he'd be better. He can hardly be worse.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 25, 2004 06:05 PM

One thing is for sure, the lefts constant claims of failure hearten our enemy and dishearten our troops.

I hear this a lot but is it true? The enemy knows the score a lot better than american civilians. They aren't heartened to hear about their own victories from us, they were heartened to win those victories.

Back in the american civil war, when Lincoln admitted that the war wasn't going all that well and chose a new general, did that give Lee a warm fuzzy feeling that he was winning? I expect he'd have felt better if Lincoln had left in the same old general to make the same old mistakes. The new guy was likely to do better.

When we admit our mistakes and start using improved methods, that has to be our enemy's worst nightmare.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 25, 2004 06:35 PM

jdwill,

The particulars don't bother me as much as what the big picture shows. The big picture of John Kerry is of a man that will quite literally say anything to further himself. 30 years ago matters because he doesn't seem to have changed. It doesn't matter who gets hurt along the way so long as the end result is Kerry getting his way.

Posted by: LastStand at August 25, 2004 09:49 PM

J. Thomas,

I guess this thread morphed into the "politics of the Iraq war" so I'll gladly throw my hat in.

What you are using here is a political trick. It works on people who don't understand the how the military works, which includes most of America and, obviously, you.

Here's how the trick works. People like you, some who know better and some who don't, say things like-

1) "Rumsfeld predicted we'd be down to 50,000 troops in iraq by now- well WHAT HAPPENED RUMMY???"

2) "Bush said MISSION ACCOMPLISHED- but now he looks like an idiot!"

3) "We have all these shortages- Body armor shortage, vehicle armor shortage, C4 shortage...why didn't we ramp up production of the things we're short on?"

And these things are said for one reason and one reason only- to make a political statement. The problem is- these are NOT political statements. You are criticizing the wrong people without even knowing it. Criticize the POLICIES all you want. Say we shouldn't have gone into Iraq. That's a fair debate. It's been waged for years now, and there's no end in site. Criticize the President for not bringing the French on board. That's always a fun and intellectual debate. But when you criticize the war's planning and execution, you are criticizing us- the officers and soldiers in the United States Military. And I resent that, Sir. You use these faux-political statements in order to cast fear and doubt among the ignorant masses. Note that I'm not using the word ignorant as an insult. Trust me when I tell you that MOST Americans are simply ignorant when it comes to military affairs. I don't blame them for that. Before I joined the military, I was 100% clueless about it. Hell, I'm certain I would have remained that way had I never joined. What offends me is when people like you make these "statements" as if it's simply a matter of common sense. That it requires no understanding of the military to know and understand these things. Say whatever you want- I love freedom of speech. Just know that when you speak out against our planning, and especially our execution- you are, in fact, helping our enemy. You are giving them encouragement, helping their recruiting, and who knows what else. "But that's impossible," you're thinking. "When I say those things, I'm trying to HELP American soldiers! We need to let the 'truth' set them free from this terrible war." OK, J. Thomas, you spoke your "truth." Whether you want it or not- here comes your education.

Rumsfeld predicted we'd be down to 50,000 troops by now, but we're not. Therefore, you would surmise that he's incompetent. Bush should have fired him long ago. Clearly his own words have betrayed him. Fair enough. Ready for Reality? Rumsfeld is not a psychic. If you want a psychic for a SECDEF, you will be waiting for a very long time. So why did he make that prediction? Easy. Somebody asked him to make a prediction, and he referenced the best information he had at the time and gave an answer. It wasn't a fair question (again- he's not a psychic), but he answered it anyway. Maybe he had lots of faith in the ground commander's assessment. Oh, I'm sorry- ground commander's assessment. Better explain that one. You see, contrary to popular belief, Rumsfeld doesn't lock himself in a room at night and write up a big war plan. Nope. His job is to take Bush's POLICY (prepare for a war with Iraq) and turn it into reality. How does he do that? He tells his planners to prepare for a war with Iraq. Who are his planners? They are military folks. Just like me. Rumsfeld tells his Generals that it looks like an invasion of Iraq is now a possibility, so start planning. Bet you think that the Generals then lock themselves in a room and write up a big war plan. Wrong again. You see, each General has a staff of HUNDREDS of high-level and mid-level planners- Colonels, Majors, Captains (like me!), senior NCOs, and even smart civilian types (usually highly-decorated retirees). These people spend MONTHS, sometimes even years, developing the best plan they can possibly come up with. They reference all available intelligence, use all available assets, and spend many sleepless nights doing the best job they can. Before they brief the plan to the SECDEF, every key leader in the Pentagon, as well as the ground commander who is going to FIGHT THIS WAR, have given it their stamp of approval. At the big brief, the SECDEF might ask a few questions. Maybe something like "Are you sure you're going to have enough body armor? Do we need to bring any more tank battalions? Do we have enough troops?" When he's satisfied that the planners have done all they could, he assures the President that the plan is ready for execution.

What about GEN Shinseki? Didn't HE insist that more troops would be better? He sure did. But that statement was his own opinion- not based on any planning. In retrospect, there is no evidence to show that more troops would have been better, then or now. GEN Tommy Franks, who was the ground commander in the Middle East at the time (Shinseki was the Army Chief of Staff), was the accepted expert with the most knowledgeable planners. He insisted that he had enough troops, all the required equipment, and that the plan was ready to go. Read his book. Bush asked him in a face-to-face discussion "General Franks, do you have everything you need." He answered "Yes, Sir." General Franks is even the one who asked Bush to fly onto that ship and say, "Mission Accomplished." He thought it would boost the morale of the troops who just waged a hard-fought battle in a sandstorm-covered hell. You know what? He was right. We did appreciate the recognition. You see, whether you want to admit it or not (and clearly you don't), our mission was to remove Saddam from power. We did that. Stabilizing Iraq is what we call the "follow-on" mission. Trust me- we all knew that the stabilization mission was going to be long and painful process. Bush knew it, too. If you don't believe me, go back and watch that speech he gave.

Be assured- we planners are good. But not a single one of us is psychic. There's only one thing we know for certain no matter what the plan is- that NOTHING will go exactly according to plan. We know this because history has proven it since the beginning of time. We start with the best plan we can muster, and as the operation evolves, we adapt to the change and march on towards victory. So blame Rumsfeld all you want. Blame Bush. Just know that when you do so, you are, in fact, blaming us. We aren't elected. We would have planned and executed exactly the same way no matter who was in the White House. We do our job to the best of our ability. Maybe we fall short sometimes, but we're still the best military in the world. Care to argue with that?

Call us idiots for not foreseeing the now-widespread use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as the terrorist's weapon of choice. Sorry, we did our best. What's important (and ALWAYS ignored) is that when the COMMANDERS ON THE GROUND saw these tactics and assessed the need for more body armor and more armored humvees, we got them there as fast as humanly possible. Any time the ground commanders ask for ANYTHING, we move heaven and earth to get them what they need. I know this, because last year I was on the other side. I was operating in Mosul, Iraq with the 101st Airborne. When our commander assessed that we ALL needed body armor (not just the infantry guys), we ordered it and it came right away. Maybe it wasn't overnight, but it certainly would have been if it was at all possible. When we decided that we needed more heavy machine guns, we ordered them. And they came right away. So go ahead and ask again. Ask me why the government "didn't ramp up production of the things we're short on?" Well, I can only offer that if we (the military) didn't ask for it in the beginning, then it wasn't a shortage. If you ask me how we could have been so stupid, I'll say that I'm very sorry. We did our best. And we'll keep doing our best. One day, we might even become psychic. Keep criticizing our efforts. We'll keep fighting (and dying) for your right to do so.

Posted by: $lick at August 26, 2004 03:21 AM

$lick:

Goods words, good work and my thanks.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 26, 2004 03:57 AM

$lick

Wow. Many thanks both for your service and the great explanation. I'm reading American Soldier and I am starting to get a picture, but you post really helps.

Posted by: jdwill at August 26, 2004 05:30 AM

Thanks for that $lick, thanks for your service.

Im a G.W.I vet.

mnm

Posted by: mnm at August 26, 2004 05:54 AM

"One thing is for sure, the lefts constant claims of failure hearten our enemy and dishearten our troops. I find it sickening, personally."

I wonder how much time the insurgents in Iraq spend reading American blogs?

Look, you can argue that the criticism damages our sides morale with a fair degree of accuracy. But I dont think it helps the enemy, mainly because they've got their own recruiting tools and propaganda methods and dont need to borrow any from us.

Posted by: sam at August 26, 2004 07:06 AM

$lick,

If you were talking about Afganistan, or hunting for Bin Laden then I would say that you can make the argument "We'll keep fighting (and dying) for your right ...."

However, I fail to see what American rights you are protecting in Iraq.

Sorry,

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 26, 2004 08:42 AM

Ah c'mon Kerry haters...over 24 hours ago (see above) I noted that Kerry's 1971 testimony described the atrocities allegedly committed by the 100 or so soldiers who testified in the VVAW's Winter Soldier Investigation, NOT all Vietnam Vets. Can anyone show me some evidence that those vets were lying? If in fact there is some doubt about some of their testimony, is there any evidence that Kerry KNEW of such doubts before he testified under oath?

Or are you simply opposed to whistleblowers?

Posted by: Markus Rose at August 26, 2004 09:13 AM

Whoops better add "Benjamin Ginsberg" to the list of people who 'just happened' to be involved with the Not-So-Swift Boat Vets and Mr. Bush.

Let's see these 'casual', completely innocent ties now include:

Ben Ginsburg - Lawyer for Bush, gave legal advice to Swift Boat Vets.

Bob Perry, friend of Carl Rove bankrolled the group with $200,000.

Ken Cordier, Part of the 2004 GWB re-election campaign.

Paul Galanti, Appointed to a Bush Advisory Board.

Aren't completely innocent concidences fun?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 26, 2004 10:22 AM

Markus Rose,

That speech Kerry gave was devastating to our soldiers. Not every soldier who fought in Nam was ashamed of their service, or the war effort. Kerry cast shame on all of them. I read the speech, all of it.

That was over 30 years ago, fine, but now he is running on his service record.

Markus, if you don't think Kerry's words were hurtful to soldiers in Vietnam at the time and the vets, you will never be convinced.

The vets will vote, you can count on that.

Sam, its ok to be a morale buster in war time?

To think constant defeatism isnt helpful in boosting your enemies morale is ridiculous. And its been going on since before the war even started.

Posted by: mnm at August 26, 2004 10:40 AM

Great work Tosk, you're only about 48 hours behind the curve.

Anyway, what is your point. Do these revelations mean that Kerry really did spend Christmas in Cambodia?

Does it mean that he has not attempted to exaggerate his service history?

Does it mean that he did not attempt to take credit for actions in battle that were actually taken by another sailor? (References have magically disappeared from his website google peck).

Does it mean that over 200 swift boat vets aren't opposed to him becoming president while fewer than 20 support him?

Does it mean that virtually his entire command is against him?

Does it mean that he did not question Bush's service record?

Does it mean he has not attempted to be an anti-war activist/ war criminal and a war hero, switching from one to the other when it's convenient.

Does it mean he agreed to sign the SF180 form so we can see who wrote the after action reports.

I'm not convinced, but then Im a right wing nutjob.

Posted by: mnm at August 26, 2004 10:51 AM

Kerry's Lie is the sand that Political Correctness is built on top of, and the Leftist Press has been enabling it.

Leftists claim "moral superiority" based on Kerry Lies. This is the unspoken heart of the issue. See
http://tomgrey.motime.com/1093544824#329796

Posted by: Tom Grey at August 26, 2004 11:11 AM

mnm,

I think it means that some people who are very pro Bush gave money, aid, assistance etc to our dear Not-So-Swift Vets.

Anything else is just idle speculation, or baseless accusation... but then so is most of what I've read at our Not-So-Swifties web site.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 26, 2004 12:26 PM

Tosk.

Bush supporters = liars. Ok.

Accepting money from Bush supporters = accepting bribes. ok

More and more vets are against Kerry. I guess they are all gulliable dopes too.

Nice.

Posted by: mnm at August 26, 2004 02:07 PM

Markus,

Seting the stage for slander

This review of 'Conversations with Americans' would seem to be a genesis of the WSI. Check out the photo of Mark Lane with Jane Fonda in 1970.

http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/smearing.htm

Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Neil Sheehan reported on the Vietnam War for the New York Times. Although he became strongly opposed to the war, he condemned Lane's book in the following review from the New York Times Book Review, December 27, 1970.

A key exchange between Sheehan and Lane shows the thinking of the left:

Mr. Lane did not bother to cross-check any of the stories his interviewers told him with Army or Marine Corps records. I asked him why in a telephone conversation.

"Because I believe the most unreliable source regarding the verification of atrocities is the Defense Department," he said.

But what about simple and obvious facts like those in the cases of Onan and Schneider which might throw light on the credibility of his witnesses? I asked.

"It's not relevant," he said.

On to 1971 and connecting Jane Fonda to John Kerry

Re: Snopes says photo of Kerry at rally with Fonda is true

http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/kerry.asp
The New York Times covered the Valley Forge in 1970:

Among the speakers at the rally were Representative Allard K. Lowenstein, Democrat of Nassau County; Donald Sutherland, the actor; Jane Fonda, the actress; Mark Lane, the civil rights and antiwar lawyer and Charles Bevel, a leader of a black group from Baltimore, which is marching to the United Nations to protest alleged American genocide in South Vietnam.

Jane Fonda:

We were at a rally for veterans at the same time. I spoke, Donald Sutherland spoke, John Kerry spoke at the end.

Summary
I think the discussion of what happened in 1971 is pertinent, because if you look closely, many of the same players/idealogies that wanted us out of Vietnam, want us out of Iraq.

Its not just the slander of his band of brothers, its the willingness of the VVAW and others to use any device, any slander to acheive their goal, ie., the Winter Soldier 'Investigation'.

I want to develop this more, because the stakes are huge. If America backs down again because of self-doubt, egged on by activists with questionable association and dubious honesty, the 'dialogue' we are having with Islamofacism could be set back 50 years.

Posted by: jdwill at August 26, 2004 05:34 PM

Markus,

Some more material (proof is in the eye of the beholder of course) from a Marine who served in Vietnam 68-69

In fact, the entire Winter Soldiers Investigation was a lie. It was inspired by Mark Lane's 1970 book entitled Conversations with Americans, which claimed to recount atrocity stories by Vietnam veterans. This book was panned by James Reston Jr. and Neil Sheehan, not exactly known as supporters of the Vietnam War. Sheehan in particular demonstrated that many of Lane's "eye witnesses" either had never served in Vietnam or had not done so in the capacity they claimed.

http://www.nationalreview.com/owens/owens200401270825.asp

Connect the dots, Mark Lane, professional muck-racker, Jane Fonda, unprincipled activist, John Kerry (???), VVAW visits to Paris and meetings with NV and VC representatives such as Madam Binh

http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=23

Some of you may remember Mme. Binh as the head of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam (PRG) delegation at the Paris Peace Talks. After 1975 she was the minister of education and was a deputy of the National Assembly for four terms. She was elected vice president in 1992 and again in 1997.

http://ice.he.net/~freepnet/kerry/staticpages/index.php?page=20040609201851205

In March, Jane Fonda met with Madame Binh, lead negotiator of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam (PRG) the political arm of the Vietcong. Fonda then flew to London, where she charged American troops with "applying electrodes to prisoners' genitals, mass rapes, slicing off of body parts, scalping, skinning alive, and leaving 'heat tablets' around which burned the insides of children who ate them." John Kerry, interestingly enough, had already met with Madame Binh and Hanoi’s representatives in Paris the previous spring, before he joined the VVAW, while he was still a little-known Naval Reserve officer and fledgling politician.

All of this is enough to make me very suspicious to say the least. What say you?

Posted by: jdwill at August 26, 2004 06:01 PM

Hey MARKUS? Tell you what? We can FOGET VIETNAM the man was a bloody hero, and then like Benidict Arnold, who actually was a hero, Kerry betrayed his Oath, and his Nation.

Let's just leave Vietnam in the past and run with the following

http://www.judicialwatch.org/3800.shtml

Aug 25, 2004 Contact: Press Office
202-646-5172


Secret FBI Documents Reveal Kerry Accepted Laundered Contributions

Senator Also May Have Set Up Meetings Between Chinese Firms, U.S. Officials

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released recently declassified documents showing that Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry accepted laundered contributions for his 1996 re-election campaign from the Communist Chinese government and that, in exchange, he may have arranged meetings between Chinese aerospace executives and U.S. government officials.

Obtained from the FBI through Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act requests, the documents are related to the FBI’s “Chinagate” investigation into the Clinton campaign’s acceptance of contributions from Communist Chinese government sources. Among the documents released is an investigative outline dated March 27, 1998, that details the FBI’s “proposed areas of inquiry” into the actions of Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung, including questioning him about meetings Sen. Kerry set up with China Aerospace executives and about a fund-raising event for the senator in Los Angeles. The other document, dated Aug. 24, 1998, requests a polygraph of Chung, mentioning that he laundered contributions for the Clinton/Gore ’96 election campaign and for Sen. Kerry. The documents are heavily redacted, and Judicial Watch is appealing the FBI’s decision to keep secret portions of the documents.

Chung pled guilty in March 1998 to election law violations and, in a plea bargain, began cooperating with the FBI. Judicial Watch represents Chung in a lawsuit against Justice Department officials who, during the Clinton administration, leaked information about Chung’s cooperation with the department’s Campaign Finance Task Force. The unauthorized and illegal release from a sealed plea agreement of information, including the fact that he and his family were in protective custody in California, put the lives of Chung and his family in jeopardy.

“These disturbing FBI documents raise further questions about Sen. Kerry’s involvement in what looks like a quid pro quo (cash for meetings) with the Communist Chinese,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

To view the documents see the links below (Adobe Acrobat Reader Required):


Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 26, 2004 08:02 PM

$lick, you have raised some truly interesting points.

Before we do anything else, I must ask you your current rank and duties. You have pulled rank on me, and far too many trolls who do that are fakes. A few of them are too honorable to stoop to the direct lie of claiming a specific rank and duty.

OK, after that. I was answering a political question. The question was, "How do you know that the iraq campaign isn't going precisely according to plan? How do you know that it isn't intended to be this way?". And I believe my answer to that is established beyond question now. "Somebody" requested Rumsfeld to estimate how long the campaign would last and he estimated we'd be down to 30,000 troops before fall 2003. We're running into varied shortages. Desertion rates among the iraqi forces assisting US troops are classified. (Not a good sign.) We used to get weekly reports that showed the number of "serious" attacks on US forces. It looked very good that after the handover that number dropped to around 20 a day. Now that report is classified. (Not a good sign.)

If the occupation is going according to plan, the planners should be prosecuted for treason. It's absurd to think that it's going according to plan.

So, put that political question aside. Let's look at your claims.

We would have planned and executed exactly the same way no matter who was in the White House.

You claim that the planning is done completely bottom-up. So if Rumsfeld hadn't been there, no matter who was SecDef, the result would be the same. Do you have any nonclassified evidence for that?

See, before the war there were a lot of leaks about Rumsfeld. The claim was that Shinseki had been going through channels to get a lighter, faster army. He was of course running into a lot of opposition from generals who had other ideas, and it was taking the army a lot of time to work it all out. It sounded like what you were describing, every key officer would have to sign off on it, and the ones who had specific problems with it were presenting their concerns and the planning was being done to work around those objections. I imagined that for some concerns they'd run not only computer simulations but actually train units and have them play it out on the ground (and in the air) to check. Revise the plans to make them work in the light of the evidence. And according to the stories, Rumsfeld came in and threw all that away. He had a vision for how he wanted things and he told the Army to do it his way, and they did. As far as possible they found out where the problems were and quietly fixed them, but it wasn't the way they usually planned. The result was something that got changed a lot faster than usual and the planning had a lot of holes. Another SecDef wouldn't have done it like that.

What about GEN Shinseki? Didn't HE insist that more troops would be better? He sure did. But that statement was his own opinion- not based on any planning.

Do you have nonclassified evidence for that? See, the way I remember the leaked stories, this wasn't just Shinseki's unsupported gut feel. The Army did their planning the usual way and that was the result. But Rumsfeld told them to do it over some way that would give the answer he wanted. And they did. And that led to what we face now.

I'm not sure i believe those stories. Napoleon said that officers have the duty to follow orders, but if they get orders that are too stupid they have the duty to resign rather than lead their men into destruction. I read about only two generals and a full colonel who resigned over this. The rest just talked to reporters off the record. So I kind of doubt them. If Rumsfeld is your SecDef and you don't have the balls to resign, it isn't honorable to leak. I can see it for spies but generals should have a higher standard. Resign in protest and tell the public, or follow your orders and shut up. If fifty senior generals had resigned it would be obvious there was something wrong. As it was, maybe it was just army politics as usual. (I could imagine you, $lick, might really be part of the system and simply be so naive you have no idea how political it gets in the higher ranks.)

The claim is that Rummy hasn't been following the rules the Army uses for its planning. He told the Army what to do and they did it. Franks had the choice of give Rummy the answers he wanted or be replaced, and he failed to resign. Regardless what the old plans said, he knew better than to ask for more troops -- because Rummy's "special" plans said they weren't needed. Maybe my understanding of Frank's position isn't true. But if it is true then it follows naturally that Frank's book will have a lot of bullshit. After he puts his boots on the ground and bends over and spreads his cheeks for Rummy, he might open his mouth too but it won't be to complain.

Call us idiots for not foreseeing the now-widespread use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as the terrorist's weapon of choice.

No. The CIA had the official iraqi plans for those. But Rumsfeld told the planners there wasn't going to be much terrorism. The people would throw flowers and set up a secular liberal democracy and they'd turn terrorists in to their police. In a few months the army would be out of there except for the guys managing the new permanent bases. It wasn't the planners' fault they didn't take IEDs into consideration. They were ordered not to.

I was operating in Mosul, Iraq with the 101st Airborne. When our commander assessed that we ALL needed body armor (not just the infantry guys), we ordered it and it came right away.

Whether or not you're a troll who's making it all up, this story is plausible. The 101st is an elite unit. Their supplies come first. The extra armor that you ALL needed and got, not just the infantry, was the armor that some funky reserves -- the lowest-priority guys -- didn't get, not even their infantry. I can't fault the planning about the body armor. It was new, not really proven until now, and when it did prove itself all of a sudden everybody wanted it. Not just US troops, every army in the world wanted as much of it as they could afford. Of course there's a worldwide shortage just now. I had been thinking it was poor planning that resulted in some Reserve units not getting theirs, but you've explained that. The reserves didn't get theirs because the elite units suddenly wanted more than anticipated. They had planned for enough for the reserves, but it got reassigned. And of course nobody planned on armor for the iraqi military or police. It used to be there wasn't an AK47 in every house. They wouldn't need it.

And the unarmored vehicles made sense too, the planners were told to expect a liberated population. Armor makes the mileage go bad, use more gas, and in a peaceful iraq it wouldn't be needed. Even if there was trouble, they could send the armored ones to the trouble and use the unarmored ones elsewhere. There was no reason to anticipate that there would be nowhere for unarmored vehicles to go in iraq, they could get blown up pretty much anywhere.

Truly, from what I've seen the Army has done a great job following Rummy's stupid plan. They've improvised wherever it obviously failed too badly. They've gotten results far better than could be expected. It isn't their fault that they've been given self-defeating goals.

My only complaint with the Army is that far too few officers resigned when they saw what Rumsfeld was doing. Even a few dozen officers who put the Army ahead of their pensions might have been enough to make the difference.

The Army has done superbly against the external enemies. The guys at the top surrendered to the other enemy, Rumsfeld.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 26, 2004 09:28 PM

JT

Napoleon said that officers have the duty to follow orders, but if they get orders that are too stupid they have the duty to resign rather than lead their men into destruction.

Napoleon was absolutely right. Where was Senator Kerry's resignation in Vietnam? Shouldn't he have resigned instead of committing atrocities and leading his men in committing atrocities? The hypocrisy appalls.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 27, 2004 03:23 AM

J. Thomas,

First off- sorry if I came across a little harsh with that last post. I know you mean well- I'm sure you can understand my frustration.

Let me first answer your question- I'm an Army Captain. I fly Black Hawks by trade, although I'm not doing much of that in my current assignment. Last year, I was with the 101st. Shortly after we returned to Fort Campbell, I was reassigned to 3rd Army- Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC). So now I'm in Kuwait as a planner. I appreciate your skepticism, JT. I've seen fakes, too. I wouldn't have brought it up if it wasn't pertinent to the discussion at hand. If I WAS an imposter, I'd be pretty damn good, don't you think? So that's that.
"If the occupation is going according to plan, the planners should be prosecuted for treason. It's absurd to think that it's going according to plan."
Of course nobody was able to forecast the current situation (which is nowhere near as bad as the media would have you believe). Nobody on this earth could have. But to say that nobody expected that it might turn out this way is absurd. You say that the planners were "told by Rumsfeld" that "there wasn't going to be much terrorism." That we were told to expect "the people would throw flowers and set up a secular liberal democracy and they'd turn terrorists in to their police." Now THAT'S some evidence I'd like to see. Sure, some people may have suggested that- but to claim that it's what we (the military) expected is a mistake of laughable proportions. Without getting into the "classified stuff, " I can tell you that we expected that Former Regime Elements (FREs), supported by a rag-tag bunch of terrorists, would fight us as if there very survival depended on it. It's what we in the business refer to as the MOST LIKELY Course of Action (COA). It was also, as is often the case, the MOST DANGEROUS COA. And (surprise) it happened. We prepared for this as best we could. We all did- at every level. What NOBODY could predict was the level of support these Anti-Coalition Forces (AIF) would generate. This was something that depended on events, and could therefore not be predicted. For instance, if we destroy every religious shrine on the way to Baghdad- we can expect more resistance after the fall. If it's a clean sweep with little or no damage and few civilian casualties (our goal), perhaps we get less resistance. As you know, things happened. Al Jazeera emerged as a force that few could have anticipated. The prisoner abuse scandal didn't help. These are things that are impossible to predict, and so…well, you get the picture. Claim your "insider scoop" from the CIA all you want. It's hogwash. The truth is, even the TERRORISTS didn't know how they were going to fight us. It's the way combat works. We make a move. They observe and decide how they're going to fight us (remember, the "calm period" last April through June? In Mosul, we actually went into town without helmets or body armor during that time!). Then THEY make THEIR move. And we decide how we're going to counter them. This cycle goes round and round. It's Combat 101. Incidentally, the "people throwing flowers" COA was the LEAST LIKELY and of course LEAST DANGEROUS COA. We sure hoped that it would happen, but none of us were dumb enough to expect it. But thanks for opining that we were.
The "lowly" reservists that you speak of all got the body armor they needed, and it got there as quickly as it could be made and shipped. The ones who REALLY needed the stuff got it immediately. The desk clerks and cooks, who might "theoretically convoy down the road one day," all eventually got theirs. It's just not a big issue, but lefties and anti-war activists try to make it one.

Let's talk about Shinseki and anyone else who may have "leaked." You're right, things become very political at the upper levels of command. They all debate. They all have their own ideas. If they disagree with the top (as McArthur disagreed with Truman), then of course they can resign. But I stand by my assertion that WE would have planned and executed the same way no matter who was SECDEF. The SECDEF doesn't "steer" our planning. The Generals at the top simply wouldn't allow it. What YOU do, JT, is use the benefit of hindsight to further a politically motivated conspiracy theory. Remember that neither Rumsfeld nor any of his planners had the benefit of hindsight. The best he could do during the planning period is go with the CONSENSUS of his planners. When all the debates were over, when all the planning was done- the Generals (and their staffs of thousands) had the CONSENSUS of a plan. It HAD TO HAVE everyone's stamp of approval. Compromises happened- no argument there. Some people might have disagreed with some of it or maybe even the entire final plan, but in the end there was most certainly a consensus that this plan would achieve the results we were looking for with least amount of American and Iraqi civilian casualties. But are you trying to tell me that MOST of these Generals wanted something OTHER than what the SECDEF signed off on? If you believe this, than you are implying we've got a ruthless dictator in the Pentagon. Or are you implying that there's a dictator in the White House? That's kind of a stretch, don't you think? I mean, it's easy (with the benefit of hindsight) to point at those who dissented and claim that they actually represented the "majority" that Rumsfeld "ignored," but where's the evidence? There's simply no evidence! Media leaks? You're going to put more faith in anonymous media leaks than 30+-year veterans who have a long, proven history of love and respect for their fellow soldiers? That they would simply "go along with the sadistic plan" in order to not get fired? That they might just resign and silently watch American soldiers march to their deaths in support of an insane madman from Texas? Choose to believe this if you will. Michael Moore will love you. But, it's just impossible for me and most other clear-thinking Americans to believe. It's simply not realistic or in any way believable. I'm going to take the other side of that argument. It's a little easier to believe, forgive me for the understatement. I'm going to say that the Generals (assisted by thousands of Army planners) came up with a CONSENSUS. Sure, there was likely some dissent. By definition, these dissenters were the minority. Some of them might have leaked their doubts to the media (probably they were overheard or believed that they were "off the record"). You will never get a 100% consensus. Ever. But in the end- the best plan went forward. Even with the benefit of hindsight, nobody can come forward right now and say "Look! My plan would have worked better and here's why." Politicians can claim that they would have been able to bring France on board, which would have produced a free and stable Iraq overnight, but nobody is arguing that Franks and the rest of us should be convicted for treason for poor planning. OK, maybe you and Michael Moore.

One thing I agree with you about- we can't afford to have a Commander-in-Chief who would LIE in order to affect our national policy. Many people, including you I'd guess, insist that George Bush LIED about WMDs in Iraq. I, on the other hand, have a tough time believing that W, or anyone else for that matter, would be able to "steer" the intelligence of every major country IN THE WORLD (to include France and Russia). But that's just me- debate it all you want. John Kerry, on the other hand, lied about being in Cambodia. He's really not even trying to deny it now. He actually laughed about it on Comedy Central the other night- but he didn't deny it. As an elected official in this country, he explained to Congress that the experience was "seared" into his memory. He didn't say he "thought he might have been close to Cambodia." Nope- he said it was "seared" in him. What's not so funny, however, is that he was actually using this "experience" to illustrate a very important point- if we get involved with the Contras, it may lead to other, more dangerous, more secretive activity- much like his experience in Cambodia was an unanticipated result of the war in Vietnam. You see, he was trying to AFFECT NATIONAL POLICY with an outright lie. And he laughs about it!

OK, I'm tired…..

Posted by: $lick at August 27, 2004 03:47 AM

To All- I sincerely appreciate the encouragement and support from enlightened folks like jdwill, Rmiller, and the rest. Trust me- if every American supported us the way you do, our job would be much easier. What I'd like to do is leave you all with a message of hope. All this talk about what happened during our planning might falsely imply that we are now in a "mess" or a "quagmire." This is simply not the case.

Here's why:

In order to understand how some of you are being fooled into thinking this war is a "disaster," I will first highlight two very important points:

1) The media is MOSTLY accurate with their news reports out of Iraq.

2) If you get your information strictly from the media, you have NO CLUE what's going on in Iraq.

I know, it sounds like these two statements are contradictory, but I assure you, they are not. You see, the media creates an illusion with the facts that they report. Some say that it's media bias, but I disagree. It's not bias- it's capitalism. You see, Fox News and CNN and every other media outlet in America wants to bring you "fair and balanced" coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The problem is, they can't. These media entities happen to be businesses. They need revenue (profits) in order to exist. In order to generate profits, they need advertising. In order to sell airtime to advertisers, they need ratings. It's a very simple formula, but how do you get ratings? We Americans know the answer to this question, don't we? That's right- sex, scandal, and violence. Let me demonstrate:

Channel X is showing coverage of an Aviation Brigade delivering 30,000 books to Mosul University. They go in depth- talking about how this is the 5th time they've delivered shipments like this in the past two months, how the soldiers and Iraqi officials at the University have formed an almost brotherly bond, and to date- this unit has spent in excess of 2.7 million in it's effort to rebuild the university. Hundreds of children surround the soldiers and cheer them as if they were boy-band icons.

Channel Y shows photos of naked Iraqi prisoners being stacked up in a pyramid. A pregnant female soldier (impregnated while in Iraq? film at eleven) is shown pointing at some genitals. Also, a car bomb went off in Baghdad and killed an American soldier, two women, and three children.

I'll give you one guess as to which channel wins the ratings war that night. You see, we all want to believe that the media should show "good news" stories from Iraq, because good stuff IS happening, right? Don't they have an obligation to report what's really happening? Of course they do. They just need ratings. And though people may DESPERATELY WANT to know all the "other stuff" that's going on- the media can only bring you the highlights (or the lowlights as it often turns out). If you want to organize an effort to get all Americans to agree to watch the "good news" stories coming out of Iraq, I'll applaud your effort. But it's never going to happen. Because we're Americans- we are who we are. We like sex, scandal, and violence. What if there are no bombings, firefights, or prison scandals to report? You will be treated to a healthy barrage of murder mysteries, often including pretty young white women, usually pregnant. It's morbid entertainment- pure and simple. You see, we're not losing this war. We're losing the information battle. So what can we do? Well, soldiers (like me) need to get better at getting the word out. We need to write more letters to newspapers. We need to call radio shows when we get home. We need to post things on blog sites like this one. We're getting better at that, but we have a long way to go. What can you do? National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and the History Channel can bring some good stuff from time to time. Check it out. Read what's in the very back of some newspapers. Magazines like Time or Newsweek have good stories from time to time. But the fair question to ask is "What is the media not showing from Iraq?" I'll tell you what you're not seeing…

Let's just look at the numbers first. We'll use a "busy" day as an example. On a high-activity day, approximately 300-400 soldiers might see hostile enemy action. Let's say that we have 4,000 who were out patrolling (that's a huge overestimation), but don't see any "action," and about 27 people abusing prisoners (this doesn't happen any more, obviously, but we're planning worse case). So we have fewer than 4,500 soldiers who have EVEN A CHANCE of getting media coverage (and that's way on the high end of the estimate). Let's say that we now have 135,000 troops in Iraq- that's close enough. By my quick calculations, you are getting about 2-3% of the story with respect to what Americans are doing in Iraq. Let's assume that 20,000 soldiers are actively involved in support operations. You know- cooking, delivering ammo, flying helicopters, driving trucks, etc. Let's say they make up about 17% of the total force. You'll never hear anything about those guys- as far as the media is concerned, they do not exist. OK, so what about the rest of the 80% out there? What are THEY doing? Well, I'll give you a hint- they're not sitting around doing nothing. Many of them (I don't want to guess- maybe 80%, certainly more than 50%) are involved in what we call "stability operation." This is what I did in Mosul when I wasn't flying Black Hawks. We'd go to our assigned area (in my unit's case, it was Mosul University) and quite simply- help and rebuild. Some units are assigned to primary schools, some have water plants, some rebuild power stations and install generators, some work with industries, some are rebuilding courthouses and other government buildings, the list goes on forever. These things are happening EVERY DAY. The way it happens is also significant. We initially used "seized funds" (money recovered from the old regime) to finance these projects. We'd get this money back in the hands of the Iraqi people (from whom it was stolen), by hiring them to rebuild their own country. It creates jobs, gets the economy going, and creates much-needed infrastructure. In Mosul, it worked like a charm. Other regions initially had lower success rates, but they've all been improving steadily, Najaf and Fallujah not withstanding. Eventually, the funds switched to Foreign Investment Funds (remember that conference in Madrid?), and now it draws from the $87 billion that Kerry voted for before he voted against. I'm not going to say this money is managed perfectly. It's very difficult to track it as you are spending it. I was a pretty good accountant, but I know some who struggled. I know of one guy who was caught "skimming" some of this money, and he's at Leavenworth now. But I digress. We used this money as we would ammunition. But instead of hitting the bad guys with it, we threw it at the good guys. MG Petreaus, our Division Commander, received a 3rd star for his flawless execution of this strategy, and now he's in Baghdad training Iraqi troops. There is no better man on this earth for that job. Every day, American soldiers are interacting with Iraqis, helping them to rebuild a country that was absolutely devastated by years and years of oppression. Believe me, they want us out of there as much as we want to leave, but they know that we can't afford to pull out until their new government is firmly in place. Important to note is that electricity, water, oil production, and other essential commodities are now beyond pre-war levels. It will take time, but their new system (freedom) will allow education and ingenuity to do what it does best- create peace and prosperity. When this happens in Iraq, the terrorists can start counting their days. It will spell the beginning of the end for the mid-east as we've known it. Notice how countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Libya seem to be taking a much harder stance against terrorism these days? Hmmm, wonder why? Maybe they're beginning to understand the future? But I digress. The point is- these are the things that are happening day in and day out. The progress that's been made during the past 16 months is beyond anything I would have ever imagined. Seriously, it's hard to believe. The future is bright here, folks. The numbers don't lie. 50-80% good vs. 3%.bad. There's just no comparison.

OK, let me anticipate the rebuttal. The "bad things" that happen (and they do happen) have a bigger impact than the "good things" because they get more press coverage, right? Well, that's a fair argument, but it requires further study. You see, the terrorists know how the media works. They also know that they simply can't beat us tactically. For every American killed, we kill about 200-300 "insurgents." Don't start cheering, because this isn't "good news." It's tragic. It's fact. Therefore, the terrorists attempt to use the media (US outlets as well as Al Jazeera) in order to defeat us STRATEGICALLY. By that, I mean they aim to erode our support back home and build up support for their cause among the Iraqi masses. It's not only a decent way to fight us- it's their ONLY way to fight us. JT mentioned that we see about 20 attacks per day. That's pretty darn close to the mark. What he failed to mention is that these attacks have a success rate of about 3%. They include mortar attacks, IEDs, and VBIEDs (car bombs). Mortar attacks are most common and least effective. Every day there are perhaps 100 mortars launched, and they almost never hit anything. VBIEDs are the least common, and most effective. IEDs are used with varying degrees of success. All in all, they are successful against us (and the civilians that they target) about 3% of the time. Believe me, when they ARE successful, you know about it on the news. And THAT's why they do it. Do they get ANY kind of tactical benefit from killing one American? Not at all. But when they get a news story out of it- it pays huge dividends for them. Nothing erodes public opinion like a horrible, violent, gruesome American death. You really want to shock some people- cut off a man's head and put the video on the Internet. It's a HUGE victory for the terrorists when it's reported all over the world. But how can the media give the terrorists a voice like that? I mean, sure Al Jazeera, but CNN and Fox??? Capitalism. And the terrorists know it. And we can't stop it. It's against our constitution and it's really our way of life. See that? The terrorists use our own way of life against us, by way of our own media. They're not stupid. So who are the terrorists? Who are these "insurgents?"

I would offer that the "insurgents" are not terrorists. If I use the terms interchangeably, I apologize- it's not intentional. The insurgents, are mostly poor people. They've got about a second grade education; they're raised on fear and hatred, influenced by obscure and seriously inaccurate interpretations of Islam, have little or no regard for human life (they just don't see that value in it), and they live in a hot, sandy, miserable desert. These poor people are used as pawns by the REAL bad guys (the terrorists) to do their dirty work. They are paid to attack Americans, Iraqi police, woman, children, and whoever else fits the bill. So why the 3% success rate? Are they really THAT bad? Or are we THAT good? It's a little of both, actually. Most of the insurgents don't really care either way about what's going on. All they know is that if they go to that field over there and pop off a couple mortar rounds, some guy will pay them $160. That's about 3 month's salary in his world, so he's usually happy to do it. Worse thing that could happen is that an American Apache catches him in the act and turns him into a smoking hole. Unfortunately for them, that happens quite often. But usually, they go out there, fire off some rounds, and collect their money. If they score a hit, they get a bonus. But scoring a hit is so difficult and dangerous, that they really even try. If someone turns out to be motivated and periodically successful, they might find a better offer. "How would you like more money this time? Just put this IED on the side of some road, and hide and wait for an American convoy to drive by. When it comes, you just push the button and hope for the best. Don't worry if you wind up eating a bunch of bullets- your family will be compensated. Get a confirmed kill, and you or your next of kin get a bonus." OK, for the REALLY good "insurgents" the terrorists will make a very special offer. "Son- how would you like to make $10,000 for your family ($10,000 in Iraq = set for life)? How would you like to spend an eternity having SEX? Not just ANY sex- I'm talking about 72 virgins. In an air-conditioned room. In a comfortable bed. Forever. No wait- don't sign up yet!!! Here's what ELSE you get- your name will go on this beautiful black banner that will hang up in your neighborhood! All the people will know that you were a martyr and that you are living glorious post-life existence in the Kingdom of Allah!" To these poor 20ish-year-old "insurgents," this offer is often way to good to be true. He thinks "I'll get all this, and all I have to do is sacrifice my worthless life by driving a car bomb. Sign me up!" "Good choice, son" the terrorist will say. "And if you kill more than 20 people, I'll throw your family an extra $5,000." The poor guy isn't even smart enough to ask obvious questions like "How come the bin Ladens and Zarqawis of the world don't drive car bombs? Why are THEY always so well hidden and protected? If martyrdom is so glorious, how come THEY seem to be so afraid of it?" Poor guys. We don't want to kill them. We kill them because some asshole is paying THEM to try to kill US (or some innocent Iraqis/civilians) while we bring freedom to this country. We have to defend ourselves.

So as these "insurgents" continue to be "exposed" to reality, some important things will continue to happen. First off, they will become less and less interested in taking part in these activities. Sure some of them believe in what they're doing, but most of them really don't. Truth is- most of 'em just aren't smart enough to believe in anything. The other thing is that the terrorists will be forced to make bolder moves, increasing their chances of being caught. Next, they will start to run out of money, support, protection and everything else they need in order to survive. This is the reality they face. Saddam was a very good force for terrorism. Not only because he supported terror, but because he ruled in the same way that terrorists rule- keep the people stupid and surround yourself with money and weapons. It's no wonder that Zarqawi went to Fallujah when things went bad in Afghanistan. That's right- he was there before we even crossed the border. And there's every reason to believe that he was busily setting up shop when we arrived. There was no better terrorist breeding ground in all of the mid-east. Yes, he got a bit of a head start in Fallujah. But his days are numbered. He knows this. It's really not important whether or not Saddam's WMDs were still in Iraq when we came over or not. You see, he NEEDED his own people (as well as the rest of the world) to believe that he had those weapons, because it was essential to his remaining in power. Well, after 9/11, we couldn't afford to let idiotic dictators play those games anymore. We let it go for over a decade. But no more. Remember- nobody ever said "Iraq has WMD's and that's the only reason why we're gonna remove him from power!" Nobody ever said that. Not Bush. Not the CIA. Not Rumsfeld. Nobody. Republicans and Democrats used the WMDs in order to solidify support for a cause that was already just (Saddam was a malicious, duplicitous, US-hating, terror-sponsoring mass-murder who was making a dangerous power play in a dangerous and unstable region of the world). Well, Saddam is already out of the picture. The others will be soon to follow.

Did you notice how I never made any charge of coordination between Iraq and 9/11? Did you notice how I never made any charge of coordination between Saddam and al Qeada (including Zarqawi)? Sure, I mentioned that Zarqawi was in Iraq long before we got here, but I'm not saying Saddam had anything to do with that. I'm not even convinced he knew Zarqawi was there! The fact is- it doesn't matter. We're doing a great thing here, guys. Don't sweat the stuff that gets reported on TV. It's not even a fraction of the whole picture. Mourn the loss of every American casualty. Just know that when we ignore the MISSION- the good things that we're doing over here- we are doing those brave soldiers a disservice. Be confident. Be proud. It'll all be worth it.

Posted by: $lick at August 27, 2004 05:34 AM

$lick,

Confident and Proud of an invasion of a sovreign country, which had nothing to do with the 3000 deaths of Amarican Civillians?

I'd be confident and proud if you were all hunting terrorists, instead of poor Iraqis with a second grade education. As it is, I'm not confident (poor uneducated Iraqi's seem to be doing a good job of flipping the bird to American Might) or proud (whacking poor uneducated Iraqis doesn't fill me with Pride... more like Nausea)

I support our troops in Afganistan, since they're at least trying to clean up our actual response to 9/11. I regret that there are troops in Iraq (I don't want to see casualites reach 1000), but I'm not about to say that I support them being there or support their activities while there.

Sorry,

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 27, 2004 06:29 AM

Tosk,

I respect anyone's opinion- you obviously have one, which is fine.

Your arguments contain some very obvious flaws, which I will be glad to point out.

Just because a "Sovereign nation" had nothing to do with 9/11, does not mean that it never and would never pose a threat. You are apparently very supportive of "war for revenge." That's fine. Afghanistan had nothing to do with "revenge." Afghanistan was a war aimed at preventing the NEXT 9/11, which is precisley what I'm more interested in. So we have a difference in philosophy there- no problem.

Believe whatever you want- we don't "hunt" poor people. I think I made it clear that we would rather not kill them. Our beef is not with them. We ARE "hunting" the ones who pay these poor people. The ones who finance terror. These include once-prominent figures in the old regime, Iranian thugs, and of course your favorite and mine- al Qaeda (who, by the way, had very much to do with 9/11). They have nothing to gain by a free Iraq, and absolutely EVERYTHING to lose. Just ask Saddam Hussien. Yes, we are hunting them and we will find them. In the mean time, we also bring Iraq the freedom that they hoped would never come.

Yes, Iraq was a soveriegn nation. So now please show me how that makes them a harmless government. Show me how that makes them a non-terror sponsoring state. Show me the lack of willingness to use chemical weapons. Show me Saddam's willingness to help us, and the rest of the world, prevent the next 9/11. Show me Saddam's regard for human life. All he had to do was leave. He didn't. The entire world told him he had to go, and he didn't. His own people tried to get him out of office many many times. If you don't believe me, go there and check out the mass graves for yourself. Hundreds of thousands murdered. THAT's how concerned he was about human life. THAT's how willing he was to help bring peace and prosperity to the world. If you don't think that this kind of inhumane brutatility combined with the rising threat of terror throughout the mid-east was a problem- I suggest you go watch another Michael Moore film and leave the rest of the world alone.

Go pretend that Iraq was nothing more than children on swings and kite-flying. We'll keep pulling children's burned and mutilated bodies out of the mass graves. Go pretend that we are simply administering a series of Rodney King-style beat downs and committing gang-land murders of innocent people. We'll continue to rebuild schools, factories, power plants, and water plants until the Iraqi people, like the Japanese and the Germans before them, are free to enjoy what life has to offer. Curse us if you will, my friend. We'll continue to bring hope and freedom into a sad and bitter world. We've been doing it for almost a hundered years now.

Don't be fooled into thinking that WE are the ones killing these poor guys. WE are pulling the trigger- Saddam's followers and the imported terrorists are killing them. They've been killing them for years. If there were a better way to do this- it would have been done long ago. War is ugly. Terrorism is even uglier. Welcome to the modern world, my friend. If you have a better way- I'm sure there's a whole bunch of pHD-holding philosophers and political scientists and war strategists in Washington DC who would love to come and consult you.

And your comment about people giving the finger to American might- I'll say that you're pretty good at watching the news. Notice how you never see Iraqis just sitting around in their homes enjoying their newfound freedom? I wonder why that is? They must not exist. The fewer the numbers, the louder they must scream- and screamers get on the news.

I met 3 Iraqis who didn't like me or anything about the US. I met about 2,000 who loved us. Not liked us. LOVED US. Hang on, let me pull up some emails for you...

This one is from a former Iraqi Air Force General. He now runs a restaurant at Mosul Airfield...

Dear sir,
How are you, I wish you nice day, I hope you spend good time back at home,
I am happy that you are at home safe, I miss you and miss your company, You are good freind of mine, Here in MOSUL nothing change ( same, same ) .
I like to hear a good news about you .

SENCERLY

MOHAMMED NEZAR AL-KAISI

here's another one from a contractor buddy of mine-

Hi Sir!!!

At last you send to me e-mail I cant believe it , I didn’t went to internet coffee from one month passed because I was very busy & sick in the same time , so I read your letter very late .

Before two week I went to the airport ((I have business there)) and I asked about you they tried to call you but there phone was dead. I met a beautiful Capt. there her name is Allison , I hope you can work with her in the same group if you do that I will join the U.S army and work with you . Be contact with me

Safwan al naman

I have dozens more. Not all the fingers are waving, my friend. Trust me. I've been there. Keep watching the news....

Posted by: $lick at August 27, 2004 07:39 AM

Wow, I just read my last post- I'm not sure if this is against the rules, but...

can I change

"In the mean time, we also bring Iraq the freedom that they hoped would never come."

to

"In the mean time, we also bring Iraq the freedom that THE TERRORISTS and FRE hoped would never come."

Sometimes my fingers type faster than I can think. Man, that was ridiculous...

Posted by: $lick at August 27, 2004 08:51 AM

$lick,

At work, so some quick thoughts,

1. Support the troops, support the mission. Even if we have doubts, we as a nation are there and any dialogue we have about whether we should be there should be constructive, no diatribe and gotcha word twisting.

2. The info you are getting out is fantastic. I see in the news the top brass is just becoming aware of MilBlogging. I sincerely hope they support it as the potential for the troops and the civvies to share ideas can level the playing field with the mainstream media and its focus on disaster.

3. Don't be discouraged by those who quickly riposte by picking a few words or phrases and perverting them. For every one of these, there are several others who are reading and thinking. Really thinking.

Best of everything.

jdwill

Posted by: jdwill at August 27, 2004 08:57 AM

Thanks jdwill-

I am, as you probably guessed, very new to this sort of thing (about 4 days now?). I'm probably a few years behind the power curve (been busy), but I agree that these sort of forums can be a great means to counterbalance the media's dependence on sensationalism. I really do respect anyone's opinion. I would also encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about this war, without depending on the snapshots you get from the media. You guys are all bloggers (is that what you call it?), which tells me you ARE seeking the truth- and I thank you all for that- whether you support us or not. Cheers from the desert...

Posted by: $lick at August 27, 2004 09:09 AM

Sorry $lick,

You said that you were fighting for your freedoms... thats what irked me. You're not over there fighting for Our freedoms. Saddam could be in Power right now... and we would still have our freedoms (well, what's left of our freedoms). You can make the argument that you're protecting Iraqi freedoms, but I don't really care about that. I'm not Iraqi, and as far as I'm concerned, if they can't take care of their own damned government and political problems, then they'll fall to survival of the fittest.

You can argue that Iraqis love you... but I don't care. If 30,000 people showed up everyday to do my job for me... I'd love them too.

As for proving that they were harmless?? What were they going to do? Squirt oil at us? Shoot at us with their pathetic weapons, handled by less than competent forces? Get real.

Defend your war by saying that you're doing your job, defend it by saying that you're freeing Iraqis (but I sure wish my tax fdollars weren't being spent on them). Hell, argue that you're fighting against Islamofacisism (thats always a big winner here)... But don't tell us how you're helping us keep our freedoms.

You want to help us keep our freedoms, send a platoon into Congress and the DoD.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 27, 2004 09:36 AM

Ratatosk,

I actually like the way you think! Especially the part about the survival of the fittest. I'm no humanitarian, believe me. I used to think that if people out in some far-away desert wanted to kill each other off- have at it!! Not my problem. I felt that away until about 9 a.m. eastern time on the 11th of September. Yep. I think it was then that I realized that maybe it WOULD be a good idea to go over and fix the mid-east. I couldn't believe that people would do something like that to us. So I studied. I came to find out that these terrorists represented no country. They don't give a crap about our Genenva Convention. They have no rules and no borders. They don't want much out of life- just the complete and total annihalation of Israel and the US. I realized quickly that these terrorists were, in fact, a result of decades, even centuries, of dysfunctional societies hating each other throughout an entire region. We watched and laughed as 6th Century beliefs combined with 21st Century weapons. We watched as thousand year old grudges manifested themselves in the form of car bombs, beheadings, and more assissinations than you can shake an AK-47 at. We waited and waited for these "crazy bastards," as I used to call them, to just kill each other off and stop bothering the rest of the civilized world. Too bad for us- they didn't kill each other off. They came after us. And they got a whole bunch of us. Terrorists don't come from Afghanistan. They don't come from Iraq. Believe it or not, they don't even come from Saudi Arabia. They come from religious zealotry, ignorance, poverty, and sheer insanity. That's not a location- it's a state of being. So, yes, a free Iraq means nothing to you. I'm willing to bet that it'll mean LOTS to your children. If I said before that we were fighting for your rights or your freedom earlier, I was being rhetorical. Terrorists aren't interested in taking away "what few rights you have left." They are interested in removing you and every other American from this planet. It's not your rights or your freedom we're fighting for right now- I agree with you 100%. We're fighting for your survival. We're fighting for your children and your grandchildren. You are fully convinced that if we just left everybody alone, they would mind their own business and/or just die out. I used to think that, too.

Posted by: $lick at August 27, 2004 10:16 AM

$lick,

Nice rethoric.

Everything always and constantly changes, if it did not, then stagnation would set in and everything would die.

If September 11, made you decided that Iraq needed democracy, then I wonder at your logical system. Terrorism has been used for thousands of years. It will continue to be used by those who have not the strength to directly attack whomever they believe to be the opressor, or the victim. Religious Dogma can make terrorist, but so can poverty, need for resources, a desire to govern oneself differently (see Chechnya). There will always be terror, the question is, how will you allow that terror to affect your life?

Terror is used not to kill, but to constrict the enemy with fear, to paralyze them with the simple thought that TERROR could strike again. Do some research on the Vikings, they were pros at Terrorism (Even the French surrendered to them ;-) ).

So you choose, be afraid of the boogyman, or laugh him back into the history book from which he was summoned.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 27, 2004 10:33 AM

Rttk,

Thanks for the laugh- it's been a long day, and I'm heading back to the room. When I wake up tomorrow, I'm confident this thread will finally be dead. You might have just killed it!!;)

I think your approach to fighting terrorism sounds strangely familiar...John Kerry talking about Communism maybe? You stole his words!!!

C'mon, you know it as well as I do- the French surrender to EVERYBODY!

I don't want to be afraid of the boogeyman OR throw him back into the history book. I want to kill him!!!

Good night all

Posted by: $lick at August 27, 2004 10:46 AM

$lick,

Have a good night, nice dreams and uneventful rest :).

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 27, 2004 11:00 AM

Seeing some of the moral relativism arguments with historical references got me thinking. How to answer the question of why we should fight?

The farther backward you can look, Winston Churchill once observed, the farther forward you are likely to see.

Why they fought

Pericles: Speaking in the first year of the Peloponnesian War 431/430 B.C. (go read the whole speech)

"We do believe that what is damaging is to go into action in a crucial situation before the people have been fully instructed in debate. The strongest are those who understand with perfect clarity what is terrible in life and what is sweet and then go out undeterred to confront danger."

WWI - Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. - http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000045+90000046))

"Remember this is not a war -- it is the war. It is the contest of the ages, which we and our allies together can make the last human holocaust, if we be mighty in war and even mightier in the generosities and magnanimities of peace. Your sons have taken up arms not to slay, but to bring the hope of unbroken life to countless generations unborn."

WWII - Eleanor Roosevelt http://newdeal.feri.org/er/er30.htm

"Gradually our people have accepted the fact that we are fighting for freedom, but I am constantly told that they are not really conscious of what freedom has been lost or endangered. They still feel safe. War is still remote, save for the families who have men in the Armed Forces. The individual civilian's place in this war is still not well defined. Groups of people, especially young people, talk a great deal about post-war aims. They say the war is worth fighting only if, by fighting it, we are going to create a brave new world. But what kind of a new world?"

WWIII - Ronald Reagan http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/resource/speeches/1982/60882a.htm

If history teaches anything it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma -- predictions of doomsday, antinuclear demonstrations, an arms race in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?

As I look back at these speeches of the great wars, I am heartbroken that their aspirations for an enduring peace were not realized. Are we doomed to endles wars? Perhaps more to the point; will there be an end to evil or is the struggle eternal?
Too big for me, I must face the day before me and take the next step.

Why should we fight?

Based on "What We're Fighting For": http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/social_justice/sj0001.html

1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. This means we must resist an ideology that reduces the value of the life of an 'kufr' and has laws enforcing dhimmitude.

2. The basic subject of society is the human person, and the legitimate role of government is to protect and help to foster the conditions for human flourishing.
The focus of Islamofacism is that man must submit to the will of the ideology. Non-conformity is not an option.

3. Human beings naturally desire to seek the truth about life's purpose and ultimate ends.
Having a government that would ban books and music as the Taliban did is an anathema to us.

4. Freedom of conscience and religious freedom are inviolable rights of the human person.
Having a closed system that punishes apostasy with death is an anathema to us.

5. Killing in the name of God is contrary to faith in God and is the greatest betrayal of the universality of religious faith.
The Islamofacists believe in very literal interpretations of their religious texts that condone and even exhort killing non-believers that refuse to submit to their religion.

The who, what, when and how?

A. Some facts and definitions that I postulate:

Mary Habeck: http://boards.charlierose.com/board/pst.asp?m=tq&ti=7917&fi=26
A paraphrase: This is not my only source, but it is a very succint one.

20-30% of the worlds Muslims are Islamists, that is they beleive in Islam as a political system, and are expansionist in their world view. A small percentage of these are Jihadis that want to promulgate their religion/system by violence. The Islamists are to varying degree supportive or condoning of the Jihadi's. The remainder of Muslims are mostly complacent or cowed.

B. Am I willing to sit by and see if they succeed?

A bible saying that has always stuck with me is: Ye shall know them by their fruits.
What sort of world will the Islamists bring forth? The Taliban, Sudan, Saudi Arabia? Despite the apologists, I don't buy the enlightened Islam of the Middle Ages, nor do I want to live in them.

Islamofacism is IMO the best word to describe the combination of militant Islamists and Jihadi's that are waging war on us.

Answer: Hell no.

C. How to respond?

I am inclined to agree with President George Bush, as much as I know of his intent.
Read an excellent analysis: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/podhoretz.htm

"Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities. Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place. . . . We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name."

"We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons."

D. Why Iraq?

1. Drain the swamp and eliminate the whack-a-mole defense
2. Low hanging fruit (already in a state of war and in violations of UNSC resolutions)
3. Really did have the potential to hand WMD to Jihadi's. Yes - Really.
4. We had to start somewhere.
5. We had to do something to show the enemy(s) we would not sit back and wait to be hit again.
6. Afghanistan was too feeble and remote a state to count as a message to the Middle East.

E. Why the Middle East?: http://enduringfriedman.blogspot.com/2004_01_11_enduringfriedman_archive.html

Friedman cited as the breeding ground for the current brand of terrorism and the main cause of 9/11 the "wheel of bin Laden," comprising autocratic, antidemocratic regimes such as those found the 22-nation Arab League; anti-modernistic, religious leaders and educators such as Saudi Arabia's Al Saud family and the Wahhabis; and an education system that produces backwardness in its students, a "poverty of dignity" and a lack of preparation for modernity.

Summary
Democracies have fought totalitarian expansions, by the nature of each, they must. If you try to deny this, you are denying the freedom you live under and are diminishing it by your inaction.

Posted by: jdwill at August 27, 2004 06:09 PM

jdwill
VERY good.

You know? I sometimes think about the
Hawk/Dove paradigm

You have hawks fierce bloody and even nasty
Then the cute little dove, peaceful tranquil

For this pardigm to be valid, the major assumption is Peace is an option, which
does not include holding your throat still for the cutting blade.

I submit another paradigm more appropriate to the world today

Hawks/Dodos

Because the Dodo was just too blamed STUPID to get it through its head that those men coming with sticks were actually a threat.

I think the Hawk/Dodo is even more appropriate than maybe Hawk/Ostrich.

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at August 28, 2004 04:59 AM

$lick, I'm short on time so I'll try to be quick this once.

I'll proceed as if you're an army captain doing low-level planning, perhaps without much exposure to the big problems. What you say is compatible with your having spent time in Mosul, in the north where things were mostly working. It sounds like your experience is not representative of the continuing war outside kurdistan.

But I stand by my assertion that WE would have planned and executed the same way no matter who was SECDEF.

I expect there's some truth to that. I remember from the Nixon tapes, there were some WWII "temporary" buildings in DC that Nixon wanted to get removed. They kept trying to get the Army to get rid of the things, and it took them six years. :-)

The idea that the operations will go the same way regardless of civilian authority is some ways comforting and some ways pretty scary. It fits what I've seen. I guess the thing to do is just live with it. So if a President assigns a military mission, and he gets the idea that the way the military would carry it out isn't what he wants, he should not approve the mission rather than stress the constraints that they are likely to ignore.

What NOBODY could predict was the level of support these Anti-Coalition Forces (AIF) would generate.

I predicted it when I got the early reports about security. See, in Baghdad (not Mosul where you were) we correctly got rid of the police. They were Saddam's police and they would have kept doing things the old way. We couldn't use them. But we didn't have replacements. We didn't have enough trustworthy translators to police Baghdad very well ourselves. There were lots of reports in the early days of our soldiers trying that, before we gave up trying. The result was, with so many criminals, things got pretty unsafe for civilians. Everybody naturally ran out and bought some of the cheap weapons for sale, looted from the armories we didn't have the troops to guard (and they were partly looted even before we got there).

So we started doing block searches, by the book. Seal off a city block with razor wire so nobody can get in or out, then search all the houses and confiscate any weapons. We also confiscated any large sums of money since they were assumed to be for illicit purposes. So here were these people we weren't protecting, and we were going in and rummaging through their stuff to take the guns they hoped to protect themselves with. Shooting people's dogs. And apparently we didn't understand that people didn't trust Saddam's banks even before the banks got looted. When we happened to find peoples' life savings we assumed they were insurgents and took the money. These were tactics that would be useful in city blocks that we already knew had a large insurgent component, particularly in a nation that had gun control and functioning banks.

After six months or so I wasn't hearing about that in random neighborhoods. It sounded like the army had figured it out. Now I mostly see it mentioned in places that are out of control. Places like Biblya or Samara, our guys stay inside their bases when they aren't out on a mission -- they don't have the security to go out and help iraqis do reconstruction. But sometimes they have the mission to go seal off a block and do searches, and afterward they quick go back to base. This doesn't get the USA any friends, and sometimes it's necessary.

I get the strong impression that the one thing that makes the most trouble is the lack of americans who speak the language. Things we could fix pretty quick turn into problems because of that. That probably contributed a lot to civilians getting killed at checkpoints in the early days. Probably better now that iraqis are running so many of the checkpoints. It's a whole lot more scary when somebody points a gun at me and I don't know their language. We pointed guns at a whole lot of iraqis and I'm sure they resented it more than they would if the guys doing it could talk to them.

Then there was that business with the IEDs. We figured out it was safest in the middle of the road so our vehicles took to driving in the middle of the road and requiring all other traffic to get off the road for us. It made perfect sense, just.... There were a whole lot of big irritations, and yet I believe if even 10% of the troops spoke halfway adequate arabic it would be a whole different ballgame.

For every American killed, we kill about 200-300 "insurgents."

Now that is truly disturbing. So we've lost around 800 guys since "Mission Accomplished", and they've lost 160,000 to 240,000? That's awful! The high estimate is approaching 10% of the population. That's like, algeria levels. I hope this is wrong. Ten to one would be a lot better. Not that I want us to lose more men. I had been hoping it was only a few insurgents being real active against us, and they were getting publicity out of all proportion to their numbers. But your way it's a sizeable part of the population taking up arms against us and we slaughter them, and then a whole lot more do and we slaughter them, and a whole lot more.... This is just awful. Sure, they tend to be people who tried to fight us, but a hundred thousand of them.... If they'd just let Garner set up early elections a lot of that might never have happened.

It looks like the CPA was one big disaster. We'd have been better off letting the army manage all that. They might have been kind of insensitive :-) but at least they have a strong sense of what it means to get the job done.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 28, 2004 05:23 AM

JT,

You obviously know what you're talking about- I'll give you that. I can't say that, given the benefit of hindsight, I agree with all your observations about what went wrong and what we should have done differently- but I certainly agree with some of it. The whole point I was trying to make earlier is best summarized by what Powell recently said- something about "no plan ever survives the first enemy contact." I mean, sure you've got some great ideas on how we should've fought this war from the beginning. So do I. So do several hundred senior miltary "superbrains" with decades of experience. For the most part- they did things right. Some things were off the mark. But to blame things on ONE GUY, like Rumsfeld or Bush is simply absurd. The have SO LITTLE to do with the actual planning, it's ridiculous. They handle the "big stuff"- the "huge decisions" like- "The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs just informed me that we might need another carrier group in the Persian Gulf, Mr. President. Sounds like they did a lot of planning, and I think they're right on." or "It would be great if 4th ID could go in through Turkey- why don't you call the Turkish Prime Minister one more time, Sir." I mean seriously- THAT's the kind of stuff they deal with. Things like "how will the Iraqi people react to us" and "how should we treat the Iraqis in Baghdad" and "how should we deal with ex-military and ex-police"- these are all things that we have REALLY SMART people plan for. You know, like intel guys and "think tanks" and area experts and scholars. And as the President just pointed out (and took the blame for- nice political move, W), these guys didn't even have time for the situation to develop. We got to Baghdad in TWO WEEKS. Woulda been there quicker if not for some kick-ass sandstorms. I mean, I DESPISE Clinton, but I would never even THINK of blaming HIM for accidentally bombing the Chinese Embassy that day. I think it's just as absurd to blame Rummy and Bush for unforeseen shortages and mistakes in handling the newly-liberated population. Sure, they're noble guys and they're going to say "the buck stops with me" and all that, but c'mon. I mean seriously. You and I know better. Kerry knows better, but he still throws the blame. I think it's unfair and irresponsible. I think it unfairly demoralizes the troops on the ground. What really matters is that we are flexible, and we can handle anything the enemy throws at us. I believe our leadership at the top would never sell us out. They will ALWAYS get us what we need whenever we ask for it. I believe Bush has done that. I believe Kerry would do that. We have to get off this absurd notion that "this candidate hates America and he's killing our troops for fun!" That's just crazy!

About the 200-300 to 1 analogy- I probably should have clarified. I meant lately, and I was talking worst case- on a heavy day like what happened recently in Najaf and what happens from time to time in Fallujah. During a typical slow day, the ratio would be much lower, but it would still be something ridiculous. I look at the SIGACTS report every day, and there's (like you said) always about 20 incidents, and I always see stuff like IED VIC ROUTE CHENEY (not a real route)0 CF inj / 6 EKIA. I mean, it's just ridiculous. But it's certainly tapering off. Remember, we didn't come here to kill these poor guys- we came here to help them. It's taking some time, but they're slowly getting that message. As soon as Allawi starts to get money in people's pockets (it's gonna happen soon) he'll have them. It sounds crazy, but this whole insurgency isn't about religion or politics- it's about money. And the worst is well behind us. Despite what you infer from the media, only a very small minority hate us. Most of them love us. Not just in Mosul. Trust me on this one.

jdwill- great stuff you posted. You certainly seem to have a grip on "the higher levels of thinking." Thanks for educating me.

Lastly, I'd like to be "Mr. Honest Guy" for a second and retract something that I posted earlier about John Kerry (isn't that how this thread started off, BTW?). I didn't really have a problem with his Silver Star- apparently some guys who were there said that (unrelated to his getting the SS, but during the same operation) he shot a wounded guy in the back while he was fleeing- a guy who could have easily been taken down, disarmed, and apprehended- but I haven't seen enough to convince me either way. So I'm going to give him that one. I'm going to say that he did waht he had to do, but I still submit that you don't celebrate something like that. But here's the thing- I'm gonna give him the Bronze Star, too. I initially had SERIOUS doubts about that one, but as things have surfaced, I'm going to change my assessment a bit. Here's what I believe happened, based on ALL the evidence I've seen (and I've seen everything available)-

Nobody denies that there was gunfire immediately following the mine blast. Now, if you've ever been around automatic gunfire, you'll know what I'm talking about. As SOON AS the shots ring out, your mind is thinking one thing and one thing only- "there are bullets flying through the air right now, and they could potentially be headed for me." While the mind is thinking this, the body is reacting on it's own. Normal people hit the ground IMMEDIATELY. Trained soldiers do what they were trained to do- take cover (if possible) and figure out where the bullets are coming from. Once the source is ID'd and (hopefully) verified as hostile, light it up. This whole crazy drill takes place REGARDLESS of whether or not there is enemy fire. It's like this- the mine goes off and the boat gunners immediately start shooting into the banks of the river, as they are trained to do. As soon as their shots ring out, every other person at the scene goes through the process I just described. The craziness that ensued must have had these guys thinking, at least initially, that there was enemy fire coming at them. I doubt there was, but if there was, I can only guess that it was very limited and lasted for seconds at best. I say this because no friendlies were so much as grazed. Some reports indicate that one of the boats may have been hit, but the time of damage is suspect. What I do believe, is that some people are convinced that they WERE being shot at, and some are equally convinced that they were never shot at. I believe that Kerry worked very hard to steer towards the theory that they were being shot at. I believe that the charge that they were under a barrage of gunfire while pulling guys out of the water is impossible. If this were the case, EVERYONE would have KNOWN that they were being shot at. I believe that shots were fired, the shooting stopped, and they continued pulling guys out of the water. So I'm just gonna give him that one.

What is obvious, and in my opinion, an automatic disqualifier for the White House, is that he lied about Cambodia in order to affect national policy. He lied about Cambodia. He just did. And it IS a big deal.

He chased (at least) the first purple heart. I know this- I've done the research. He hurt himself, asked his commander for a purple heart, was refused, and got it 3 months later after he was assigned to a different unit. How can he get a purple heart 3 months after the fact from a unit that he wasn't even assigned to at the time of the injury? Well, I simpy don't know. And none of us ever will know UNLESS- Kerry signs that Form 180. And he won't sign it- he can't. It would be, no doubt in my mind, the end of his chance at the White House. Think about it- the guys who knew what happened on that day wouldn't give him the purple heart that he asked for because he DIDN'T earn it. 3 months later, he gets it somehow. There's only one reasonable explanation- he lied. He told his "new" unit that "this happened" or "that happened" and they believed him and gave him the purple heart. Just the fact that he was running around asking these things should disqualify him from being a leader in the military or anywhere else. Why? Because it speaks volumes about who he is. What kind of person would go to war and ask for medals while he's there? Not just ask for them- pursue them until he gets them? Well, I can't explain it. But if you were ever in the military, you'd know. These Swiftees are mad as hell. And they have every right to be. I'd love (LOVE) to see Bush, McCain, a good lawyer, or anyone else try to stop them. It ain't gonna happen...

Man, he seriously should have left the Vietnam War alone. What an idiot!

Posted by: $lick at August 28, 2004 10:00 AM

$lick,

Thanks. I hope others appreciate it, I needed to do the exercise to clarify my own thinking. I do have concerns about the war and how it is going. I think I understand what you are saying about the level of involvement of cabinet level people with detailed decision making. I have spent almost 20 years now in a large corporation (auto mfg) and I often spend time explaining things to senior management that many of the posters here would expect them to know already. Management sets large goals (make money), gets how to ideas from below (build this cool car), then sets dates (I want it yesterday), and applies pressure down the chain and hopes it happens. Their other big function is to manage people and inter-relationships (to be fair and not paint mgt as buffoons). Establishing a climate of trust and honesty is key to successful management.

Another thing I don't think a lot of people appreciate is the sheer scale of some endeavors. To me the miracle is that anything gets done when you consider the amount of people that have to choreograph minutely detailed tasks to create and market a new car or even more simply, to set up a new information flow. And we don't have people going around our workplace trying to create an insurgency! Some of these tasks take 2 years in a competitive corporation - we should consider applying some sort of yardstick to our expectations for progress in Iraq.

Posted by: jdwill at August 28, 2004 10:49 AM

jdwill- I agree- I've often thought that many Americans today lack historical perspective. I know Rush harps on this all the time. I don't think it's so much that we don't study history enough, although clearly that's part of it. I think it has much to do with the 24/7 news coverage. They cover progress second-by-second, and people want results "yesterday." Each and every American casualty is covered- many times in detail. As I mentioned before, our own media has become the reluctant mouthpiece of our enemy. People don't realize that we lost more American soldiers in ONE DAY during WWII than we lost in Iraq thus far. I try to imagine how WWII would have gone if CNN and FOX NEWS were around, and I can't. Seriously, I just don't see how the American people would have been able to handle it. These are truly modern times...

Posted by: $lick at August 28, 2004 11:16 AM

For the most part- they did things right. Some things were off the mark. But to blame things on ONE GUY, like Rumsfeld or Bush is simply absurd. The have SO LITTLE to do with the actual planning, it's ridiculous.

If that's true, it implies there was no way to win this one with this army. The fundamental mistake was to go in.

I wanted to believe that there were fundamental errors at the top that could have been addressed. But you say that wasn't the issue. It seems then that the issue was that our fundamental procedures that inform the choices of many thousands of planners are simply not up to this sort of thing.

Unfortunate. I can't blame our military planners, they did the best they could. It simply wasn't good enough. They did just fine from a professional-military POV. But that wasn't enough here, and nobody -- not them, not Bremer -- did the other work that was needed.

I look at the SIGACTS report every day, and there's (like you said) always about 20 incidents, and I always see stuff like IED VIC ROUTE CHENEY (not a real route)0 CF inj / 6 EKIA. I mean, it's just ridiculous.

That does sound ridiculous. 6*20 would be about 120 dead a day, for nothing. If they just wanted to do the IED they could have just one unarmed guy nearby, and you don't know to shoot him. He could even be a fairly long way away with opera glasses or something, and have a good chance you wouldn't notice him. Instead they take repeated losses, for nothing. It doesn't make sense. Maybe they don't make sense. We were estimating 5000 insurgents, at that rate they'd be gone pretty quick at 120 a day. Hell, at 20,000 insurgents they'd fade away losing 120 a day. That's like 6 months before they're all gone. So there must be a lot more of them than that.

But then, this is starting to sound like vietnam. The body counts seemed to show the enemy was losing a whole lot of guys, but it turned out the numbers were bogus. I hope this time around it's inflated numbers and not civilians counted as insurgents.

The iraqi side would make more sense if they were making ineffective attacks and mostly getting away with it. If 20 new teams a day get life-fire practice, at some point they might be ready to send more teams out at once. Take out a whole convoy. Attack lots of convoys, take out so many gas tankers that we get shortages for lack of tankers. Etc. They could do some serious damage if they had enough guys trained. But maybe they just aren't making sense.

Anyway, we need those planners to start planning an exit strategy, if they don't have it worked out well already.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/29/international/middleeast/29province.html?hp

"Both of the cities, Falluja and Ramadi, and much of Anbar Province, are now controlled by fundamentalist militias, with American troops confined mainly to heavily protected forts on the desert's edge. What little influence the Americans have is asserted through wary forays in armored vehicles, and by laser-guided bombs that obliterate enemy safe houses identified by scouts who penetrate militant ranks."

"In the past three weeks, three former Hussein loyalists appointed to important posts in Falluja and Ramadi have been eliminated by the militants and their Baathist allies. The chief of a battalion of the American-trained Iraqi National Guard in Falluja was beheaded by the militants, prompting the disintegration of guard forces in the city. The Anbar governor was forced to resign after his three sons were kidnapped. The third official, the provincial police chief in Ramadi, was lured to his arrest by American marines after three assassination attempts led him to secretly defect to the rebel cause."

"The situation across Anbar represents the latest reversal for the First Marine Expeditionary Force, which sought to assert control with a spring offensive in Falluja and Ramadi that ... ended, mortifyingly for the marines, in a decision to pull back from both cities and entrust American hopes to the former Baathists.

"The American rationale was that military victory would come only by flattening the two cities...."

" At the end of June, Mr. Berjes, a former Anbar police chief under Mr. Hussein, complained in a discussion at Camp Falluja, the Marine base, that his government was riddled with agents of the resistance. "I can no longer trust anybody," Mr. Berjes said in a farewell meeting with L. Paul Bremer III, the departing leader of the American occupation authority. "I don't know if people are working for me, or for the resistance."

"Mr. Berjes was visibly shaken, having survived an insurgent ambush on his motorcade as he drove in his old American limousine to the Marine base from Ramadi.

"In fact, Iraqis in Anbar say, the governor had become a despised figure, for the same reason as Mr. Alwan, the Anbar police chief - because he too enthusiastically embraced the Americans and took to calling the resistance fighters "terrorists.""

"More than three weeks after Mr. Berjes resigned, the government of Ayad Allawi, seemingly hard put to find anyone to take the job, has yet to appoint a successor.

"American commanders confess they have no answers in Anbar, and say their strategy is to curb the militants' ability to project their violence farther afield, especially in Baghdad."

"Those Americans say a rapid buildup of the new Iraqi Army, the national guard and the police, coupled with gathering momentum in "turning dirt" on the thousands of reconstruction projects financed by $18-billion in American money, should eventually improve security across Iraq. But the Americans acknowledge that a full, nationwide election in January may not be possible. For now, they have identified 15 cities across the Arab parts of Iraq that they contend can be stabilized to make voting in January possible."

This last is misleading. 15 cities doesn't sound like a lot, but it doesn't say how big a town has to be for them to call it a city. 15 out of 18 wouldn't be so bad. 15 out of 30 is still halfway decent. But we're far worse off in iraq than we were this time last year. If we'd gotten the development money flowing quick enough it might have worked, but the CPA wasn't up to it.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 29, 2004 02:35 PM

JT,

Trust me, you won't ever catch me singing the praises of the CPA. You slam them by insisting that they were incompitent and innefective- I agree that many mistakes were made. I also know that most of what they did was successful. I also understand that this was the first time we'd ever assumed control of an Arab country. I think we'd have been nuts to think that we could've done it easily.

"If that's true, it implies there was no way to win this one with this army. The fundamental mistake was to go in."

It implies nothing, actually. You are assuming that we've already lost or that we have no hope of success. I think I went to great lengths to point out why the media has fooled you into believing that. If you think that Americans should avoid doing what's right because it might be too difficult, I would offer that you are speaking about the wrong country.

Once again, 6 enemy killed is NOT the result of EVERY attack. Most attacks end with no damage to either side. I agree that the body count is too high- it's awful, we both agree. These guys are accomplishing NOTHING tactically and very little strategically. Quite simply- they're losing and they're losing big. We aim to stop their losing by putting an end to the fighting. That's our goal. This isn't a "body count" war.

This is no Vietnam. To even imply that is to dishonor those who served in that war. We may lose 2,000 soldiers in this war, but I strongly doubt that it will even come close to that. In Vietnam, we lost over 58,000 by most estimates. Different time, different cause, different fight. I would be very careful about making that comparison.

That article you posted is very typical of media with an anti-war slant. It highlights anything and everything that's bad, and pretends that the good (about 90% of the whole story) doesn't exist. Be fooled if you like, it's your call.

Posted by: $lick at August 29, 2004 08:00 PM

Slick, what you say now sounds more realistic. So, we kill them at a ratio of 200:1 when it's big battles and we can use airstrikes etc. We can hope that any civilians in the area know to hide in their bomb shelters. And the daily grind is more like we get maybe 2 deaths, 10 seriously wounded and 10 lightly wounded a day, while they lose considerably less than 180 people a day, perhaps 6 or 10 or 20. Most of the attacks have no casualties on either side, and the difference in deaths is largely that we have great medical support while they have essentially none.

So in that case what they are doing is likely training. They have a whole lot of young people with no combat experience, and this gets them some at minimal losses. Also, it ties down american forces. We have to use armored vehicles and convoy them wherever we go, in the areas that this sort of thing happens. And when our guys are mostly stuck in fortified camps or running convoys from one camp to another, they aren't doing very much that's useful. They can go out on raids that might hurt the enemy some but they are doing absolutely nothing toward getting iraqis not to support the resistance.

That article you posted is very typical of media with an anti-war slant.

New York Times. They're saying we've pretty much lost Anbar province. Are they lying? To the extent that they're right, we are only an occupying army there. Pretty much nobody there is on our side, we have trouble finding people there that will let us be on their side. We can win battles against the iraqis in that province but it's the whole province we're fighting. Do you have evidence that things are better than that in Anbar?

That's only one province. The claim that we could hold January elections in 15 arab cities looks more troubling. I looked at a map, and we've been facing serious fighting in half the provincial capitals. It isn't that we don't kill them whenever they stand and fight. It's that whatever street intersection we don't have troops on at the moment, the enemy controls. We can run around and play soldier but we're doing it in cities we've lost.

We were going to have Allawi come in and "put an iraqi face" on it. He's lost Anbar, what does he have? Tikrit, Samara, Baquba? Not likely. How about Baiji, Khaniqin, and Mandali? That's what's left of the sunni cities, places that are unimportant enough that we haven't heard about the fighting there. We have mostly lost the sunnis, politically. The shi'ites aren't fighting us, except here and there. The british legation in Basra has been besieged for 2 weeks, everything goes in and out by helicopter.

You can talk about how much they like us in Mosul and all the schools we've painted but I don't see how it could be 90% good. If it is, it must have been 180% good six months ago.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 29, 2004 11:36 PM

JT,

What I'm saying is that we kill way more than we'd like. It's just way too many. To say that it's only 2 is absurd. Daily grind is high- not always 200, but very high. There's defintiely a downward trend, which is good. I don't have any evidence that things aren't bad in Anbar- I have evidence that things are much better in most of Iraq. There's so much more to the overall situation than the current political or military state of 15 cities. Mosul is far from being ideal right now- they still have a long way to go. What's important is that the bad guys are losing and they're losing big. It's only a matter of time. They are not as well financed as they need to be. As the balance of economic power continues to tilt DRAMATICALLY in favor of Allawi's still-brand-new government, the rest of the country will follow. Remember- we're talking about money above all else. Our biggest failure, in my view, was our early failure to honor our promises to support the disbanded Iraqi troops financially. We didn't trust them. I think that was a mistake. They gave this insurgency more life than it would have had otherwise. But that was a bad call that anybody would have made. Monday morning quarterbacking is cheap politics. "Vote for me because I would have done better."

You seem convinced that all is lost- I say you must be listening to Democrats. Of course they're going to highlight anything and everything that's going wrong, try to convince you that all hope is lost, and blame the president. What else would they do? Say "Bush is doing a great job, but you should vote for our guy, because he might do better"? Of course not. They're going to say that we're losing our ass over here, and the only thing that could possibly save us is the French! But seriously folks- if you look at all the facts- all the facts available with respect to the war- everything good and everything bad- you're going to get 90% good and 10% bad. That's an honest unbiased assessment. If you listen to the Dems, they'll say its 05%-95% the other way. The Republicans are going to try to sell you on 99%-1% this weekend. Look beyond the spin and the propaganda- the facts will speak volumes...

For what it's worth, I don't think the media is, for the most part, biased- but I will say that no outlet is more biased than the NY Times.

Posted by: $lick at August 30, 2004 04:49 AM

Slick, our method to reduce the number of iraqis we kill has been to withdraw. This cuts down on confrontations in the short run but militarily it's worthless.

To decide how well we're doing we'd need to consider what the mission is.

My understanding is that our goal is to create a single friendly, secular democracy that covers all of iraq, that has minimal violence and allows US bases that we can use to attack nearby nations.

What do you think the goal is? If my understanding of the goal is correct, it sure looks like it's slipping farther away each month.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 30, 2004 03:40 PM

Check out this site and compare the Occupation of Europe with the Occupation of Iraq.

http://thecr.blogspot.com/

Now exactly how long did we stay in Europe?

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 30, 2004 07:00 PM

JT,

You are close. Let me add my thoughts.

We are reducing our footprint to reduce the perception of imperialism by occupation, and to allow Iraqi authorities to gradually assume control of their country. The reduced number of casualties is a positive side-effect of that.

"My understanding is that our goal is to create a single friendly, secular democracy that covers all of iraq, that has minimal violence and allows US bases that we can use to attack nearby nations."

Very close. I would add "support the Iraqi people as they" and take out "that has minimal violence, and allows US bases that we can use to attack nearby nations."

We have all the staging ground we need in Kuwait. We'll have it for quite some time. Remember, we went into Iraq without staging through Turkey or Saudi Arabia. We all came through Kuwait. If something should materialize with Syria or Iran, I'm sure we may get some assistance from Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Both Iranian and Syrian governments are nervous right now, and well they should be. Our goal for Iraq should read like this:

"to support the Iraqi people as they create a single friendly, secular democracy that covers all of iraq."

Believe me, we're getting closer by the day. Much of what you percieve as bad is actually good.
LTG Petraeus has been in the shadows for quite some time. People will soon find out who he is and what he's been working on. Stay tuned...

Posted by: $lick at August 30, 2004 11:52 PM

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Posted by: incest cartoons at August 30, 2004 11:55 PM

Slick, if we don't need permanent bases then the iraq goals get a lot more plausible. Good, I'm glad you leave that out.

Getting a government that's nominally secular ought to be easy. They're already heading that way, and they have two separate sets of religious fanatics who won't compromise with each other. On the other hand, if they elect an assembly and 10% of the secular-party representatives turn out to be salafis while 40% turn out to be shi'ites who do whatever some ayatollah suggests, it will be hard to keep it secular. In israel only a few percent of the votes go to religious parties but they oftem wind up as make-or-break members of the ruling coalition and they pass citizenship restrictions etc. I'm told that it is possible to buy a bacon cheeseburger on the Sabbath in Tel Aviv, but you have to know where to go and there is some possibility of arrest.

In the short run we aren't going to get a friendly democratic government; if we want a friendly government it can't represent the people. I guess a central part of that is that they think we're perverts. That isn't just from abu Graib, they'd get that impression from our TV and our porn if abu Graib (and the similar things they've reported from other prisons and firebases) had never happened.

It isn't plausible we could invade iran through afghanistan. Those mountains are what kept afghanistan separate from iran in the first place. We might come through turkmenistan which I haven't paid much attention to. in terms of simpleminded criteria like distance to Tehran, that would be better anyway. Maybe turkey would let us invade through them. Or for that matter we could do amphibious attacks from north and south at once. Somehow invading iran just isn't plausible to me. We say we aren't going to do a draft....

Anyway, if we want democracy why didn't we let Allawi announce an amnesty? That could have gotten a whole lot of insurgents ready to support democracy, but we stopped it cold.

And why did we try to keep Sadr out? Sure he's a thug, but no more than Allawi or, well, any well-known iraqi politician. The main thing against him is he wants the US troops out, but if we aren't staying then who cares?

Anyway, if we're on our way out of iraq, then I agree things are looking up. Without us to distract them the iraqis are likely to get the security problems settled (at least for ordinary citizens). And a big chunk of the insurgency will stop, and the rest will be threatened when there's a government in place that lots of iraqis regard as legitimate.

If we get out, the money we would have spent to stay in could go to reconstruction, or maybe we could just not spend it and increase the deficit less.

Things were looking worse to me based on the assumption that we're going to be stuck occupying iraq for another year or two. But if we can get out quick then I can see it's improving fast.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 31, 2004 08:31 PM

JT,

Really you are putting it all in a very different perspective when you seperate tactics from strategy. Few are well-versed enough, as we are, to understand the difference between these two entities. Politicians may sometimes "indirectly" affect our strategy on the ground, but it's usually a stretch. Tactics on the ground are purely a result of commanders being commanders. When people go after the President or SECDEF for what may or may not have been a strategic error on our part- it irks me, and I'll speak out against it. At the same time, I have to remind myself that it works both ways- Bush is man enough to say, "I may have miscalculated" although you and I know he miscalculated nothing. He'll take the hit for us. When things go well, however, he knows that he'll get the credit for it and he'll stand proudly and say "See what I did?" So in order to reap the rewards, you have to humbly accept the blame. We know it's all a political game. Could you imagine Bill Clinton coming up with some nice war plans? That's funnier than W using all his Texas NG experience to drum up some nice war plans. The reason I'm inclined to stick up for our political leaders (regardless of which party) when they come under fire? Simply because I know it's not their fault. They tell us to go or not- we do the rest. I stick up for them because whether they're accepting credit or blame for our actions, they ALWAYS give us props. You'll hear them say "Yes, the operation was a resounding success due to the efforts of our brave soldiers." Or "maybe I miscalculated, but our brave soldiers are good enough and flexible enough to get the job done anyway." I think that's great. Bush will always insist that he'll do a better job than Kerry- Kerry will insist that everything we've done so far is a disaster. I know he doesn't truly believe that- but he HAS to say that in order to get himself elected. I don't like it, but I understand it and accept it. Getting back to tactics vs. strategy- it all makes much more sense when you're able to sort it out. The media has no concept of the difference. And when they bring in those retired Generals and COL's to explain things to the "regular people" their views are often skewed by politics. It's foolish to pretend that those guys have no political linkages...A guy like Tommy Franks (since he's so recently removed from the situation) is really the one to listen to, but people will assume a personal bias. It's pretty sad. I'll leave with two words of encouragement- First- we had no enemy or friendlies killed yesterday. At all. That's the first time I've seen that since I've been here. Things are clearly starting to look better, but I'd caution against getting OVERLY optimistic. I won't say that we'll be out of here in 2 years, but I'd be shocked if the scope of the occupation looked even remotely similar to what it is now. I'm guessing it'll be slimmed down severely and barely noticable to the general population. While the recent Sadr deal was a tactical conundrum (his guys killing our guys, but our guys having to "show restraint"), I would offer that it MIGHT be the greatest STRATEGIC achievement we've garnered thus far. And not solely because Allawi got a chance to "regulate" on the national stage. WE were actually a small part of the whole decision-making process. Allawi took a gamble (with our advice to be sure), and it's still unclear whether or not the gamble will pay off- but it LOOKS GOOD right now. By allowing Sistani to intervene and talk Sadr down, Allawi ensured that Sistani would solidify himself as THE MAN among the Shia. This obviously happened- Sistani is the man. Now what needs to happen- Sistani must integrate FULLY into the new IIG and make solid working relatinships with the Sunnis, the kurds, et al. . If this happens- as it looks like it will- we can start counting the days 'till we're outta here. Yes, the Najaf standoff looked AWFUL while it was unfolding, but that incident may be the "comprimise" that saved Iraq.

Posted by: $lick at September 1, 2004 02:48 AM

Slick, Bush clearly nas no conception of the tactical or strategic situation in iraq. That isn't his fault. What I blame him for is putting in Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. They do have a clear strong strategic concept, one which has brought us a whole lot of utterly unnecessary trouble. And Bush has not accepted Rumsfeld's resignation, which he should have done last June at the latest.

I have never heard Bush say "I may have miscalculated". Do you have an example of that?

A day with no casualties for us is no big deal, since we've been losing 2 a day on average, there will be the occasional day with no casualties and an occasional day with 4. But a day when we kill no iraqis is something new. We didn't kill any iraqis at all? What has changed? Didn't we run any convoys? I could see it if all of our guys spent the day hunkered in their bases, nobody going out to shoot iraqis. But if we had convoys on the road why weren't they shooting anybody? Has there been some fundamental change? Perhaps iraqi casualties are no longer being reported?

I can't see the Najaf thing nearly as rosy as you do. It didn't "solidify" Sistani. It only showed us what his status was all along. He would severely lose status if he "integrated" himself into the puppet government. His role all along has been to stand back and tell the faithful what's right and what's wrong. And he gets his position partly from people's recognition how well he does that. He only intervenes when the idiots get completely out of hand. My guess is that we came out looking like utter idiots; bombing graveyards and mosques and such. Sadr came out looking like an idiot to the shia who tended to oppose him already -- he was the one who provoked the idiot americans to bomb mosques and graveyards. To the ones who tended to support him he came out gloriously, the idiot americans have been doing whatever they could to murder him since May and they haven't managed it yet.

Allawi came out looking like a puppet. He didn't want to say he'd approved the attack but he couldn't tell us to quit it either. If there are elections he'll be lucky to get any votes that aren't Ba'ath.

It's hard to tell who made that awful mistake. Did Bush tell the military he wanted a victory for the republican convention? And they picked Sadr because his guys were poorly armed and poorly trained and it looked like an easy victory?

Or did Allawi actually get a choice in it and make the mistake himself, and then blame it on us?

Or was it the guy from Detroit that Bremer appointed Najaf governor, who didn't understand the situation at all, who invited the Marines in without consulting anybody? Of course we can't expect the Marines to use any common sense when they have the chance to make an attack. They can be real sensible about how to attack but not at all about whether to wait for orders that might tell them not to.

We need to be out of there in six months or less. Maybe we can keep a small unobtrusive presence in iraq, but why bother? If we aren't there to put down the insurgents, what are we there for?

Posted by: J Thomas at September 1, 2004 10:20 AM

JT,

Bush's admition of a "miscalculation" is all over the news. I read about it in the Stars and Stripes, and it gave me a good laugh. He said Phase I was a "catastrophic success" which is his way of saying that the planners had less time to "develop the situation" which was actually the case. As you mentioned, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz made strategic mistakes- there is no chance that strategic mistakes would have been avoided. What I haven't seen is anything that says that anyone else could have done any better. Lots of Monday Morning Quarterbacking going on (it's voting time), but nobody's been able to make a case why "MY way would have been better, and here's why." That's why Wolf and Rummy are still on the job.

You take a very pessimistic view of the Najaf situation, which is not surprising. Iraqi's tend to be not-so-educated, but even Al Jazeera couldn't avoid reporting the obvious fact that the US had the mosque COMPLETELY surrounded (with tanks even) and could have killed al-Sadr without even blinking. All of Iraq knows this, and they know we didn't do it, which is a plus. The whole point of the incident was for al-Sadr to stake a claim among the Shi'a, and he falied miserably. Instead of taking some support from Sistani, he wound up losing his own supporters to Sistani. This is good, since Sistani seems more and more likely to be a "good" force in Iraq. Allawi looks like a hero because he diffused a potentially very bad situation. He would have been better off if it could have been resolved sooner, but Sistani was sick and not available. Overall, it was a success. It showed that the US isn't going around "cleaning house," as the al-Jeezeras of the world like to portray. It showed the people that we're actually supporting the will of the new government, which is what's advertised. There was a lot of strategy there, but much of it isn't so obvious.

As far as not killing the insurgents, I'll remind you again- we have NO interest in killing the insurgents. We want people to STOP BEING insurgents. When we're on patrols, we're not "hunting" insurgents. This is a very common misperception among the American people, and I'm surprised you buy into it. We kill the insurgents ONLY when they try to kill us or if we have a good lead on where a bunch are hiding (re: preemptive strike). Hundreds and hundreds of convoys go out each and every day. Most of them are in support of humanitarian-type reconstruction projects. Many are supply convoys. Some of them, as you mentioned, are patrols. These patrols are meant to provide safety and protection to the common Iraqi people (the silent 90% that don't get TV coverage), kinda like cops. They're also intended to provide protection for the soldiers on the reconstruction and supply missions. Typically, about 16 convoys are attacked each day, and MOST of those attacks go against reconstruction-related or supply convoys. VERY RARELY are the insurgents dumb enough to attack a patrol convoy- they know the patrol convoys have the steely-eyed trained killers on board. When insurgents DO attack, then yes, we do try to kill them by any means necessary. If we get good intell that there's an insurgent "safehouse" at a certain location, then yes, we may raid it or bomb it or whatever. Remember, we're talking about 16 weak-ass attacks per day. When we're talking about a nation of 24 million, that's a VERY small minority of people who are actually against us. Saddam's supporters totalled less than 10% of the population, and not all of them are agianst us. Sure, some of the Shi'a cause problems from time to time, but it's mostly just a half-assed power play that poses no real long term threat. Bottom line, zero enemy killed doesn't mean that we didn't find anyone to kill- it means that very few insurgents tried to kill us. There were a couple of attacks, just so you know. A couple resulted in injuries (mostly enemy, some coalition), and most resulted in enemy captured. A very good day overall, and yesterday was pretty damn close. It's starting to look like a trend. I'm not saying that 6 months isn't doable- if things keep up, it just might happen!

The "doom and gloom" crap comes from the Dems- they're trying to get elected. If you don't believe me, come over here and see for yourself. It's nowhere near as bad as the media (and Democrats) would have you believe. You're not getting the whole picture.

Posted by: $lick at September 2, 2004 02:12 AM

Slick, I can see that it would be all over the news for Bush to admit a miscalculation, since he never has before.

I don't know why you say no one can make a case that their way would be better. I can do so easily. Rumsfeld is still in office because Bush has not been willing to admit that his abilities do not match the job.

We don't get any brownie points among shia for not finishing the job in Najaf, not any of waht we lost for attacking Najaf in the first place. It was a disaster for us, one we cannot recover from.

I'm not clear whether Sadr came out ahead or behind or even, but we have lost any support we may have had. At this point our authority in iraq depends entirely on our guns, we have no other support. Sistani has demonstrated his authority which no one had doubted but us. Allawi looks like a puppet. His authority depends on the money we give him and his ability to tell us to stup killing people. He showed that he could not call us off without Sistani. This is a good thing because now he cannot credibly pose as a strongman who can block democracy. He couldn't say no to the USA when his life depended on it.

If this was what US strategy came up with, we need out now. We aren't up to the job.

When we're on patrols, we're not "hunting" insurgents. This is a very common misperception among the American people, and I'm surprised you buy into it. We kill the insurgents ONLY when they try to kill us or if we have a good lead on where a bunch are hiding (re: preemptive strike).

And the difference is.... Is there a difference? You go out and try to bull your way into trouble where somebody shoots at you so you can shoot them. Or you think you know where they are so you attack them.

These patrols are meant to provide safety and protection to the common Iraqi people (the silent 90% that don't get TV coverage), kinda like cops.

What do they do to protect civilians, beside shoot at people who shoot at them? Do they interfere with armed robberies and sort out which are the robbers and which the victims? Do they listen to stories about police corruption and brutality and arrest the crooked cops? Do they patrol their beats often enough to cut down on robberies, kidnappings, etc? So far the answers I've gotten to these questions are "nothing" to the first one and "no" to the others.

Remember, we're talking about 16 weak-ass attacks per day. When we're talking about a nation of 24 million, that's a VERY small minority of people who are actually against us.

Wait, you're using the wrong measurement. You're looking at the small minority who're willing to attack us against tremendous odds, knowing they're likely to die without killing any of us in return.

The question isn't how many of them are making futile attacks. The question is how many iraqis are for us, or neutral, or against us. There are no reliable statistics any more and professional polls sponsored by Allawi are likely to be falsified, so we have to rely on guesses. My guess is that at this point we probably have about 2% neutral and 98% against. Just, most of them are not making small-scale attacks at us when we have pulled in our horns and let them organise and resupply while we wait for the November elections to be over.

The question is whether we will go away when Sistani or an iraqi government tells us to. If we do, they don't have to die fighting us. There's a strong temptation to wait and see whether we can take a nonmilitary hint.

Saddam's supporters totalled less than 10% of the population, and not all of them are agianst us.

Some of them are willing to take our money. Some fraction of the ones who accept our money are probably not against us. Some of them may even be for us, since they get death threats for doing it. They might feel they have reason to hope we somehow win. But a large number of the ones we hire are against us.

The "doom and gloom" crap comes from the Dems- they're trying to get elected.

And from journalists from everywhere except the USA. And from some of the iraqis. Iraqis who report internationally tend to be rich educated ones, who aren't at all representative. I haven't noticed any of them saying they feel more secure.

From your own perspective, does it seem better than this time last year? We spent a few months at the beginning when our soldiers could just walk around and mostly expect not to get attacked. It was a big deal when a special forces guy went out to buy a CD from a market and somebody sneaked up behind him and shot him in the back of the head. This time last year, Basra was secure. The whole shia south was secure. When did the unarmed protests in Fallujah start? We drove around in Fallujah wherever we wanted and possibly got a little sniping. Samara, Baquba, mostly quiet.

In theory we're better off now, we're getting iraqi police and army who can do real police work (which we can't) and who can kill the insurgents in our place (and when they take casualties it will be iraqi casualties that our voters won't care about). But those are things we hope will help us solve problems that we mostly weren't having a year ago. A year ago there were arab rumors about US perverted torture in various prisons. Now we've admitted to one of them and we've admitted it wasn't just a few bad soldiers, but we're still mostly doing nothing -- the big change in policy was to forbid soldiers from having photo cellphones etc.

This time last year a significant minority of iraqis thought of us as liberators, and the majority didn't want us gone immediately.

All the good news I hear from iraq comes from republicans and it's mostly intangibles. Election year.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 2, 2004 03:21 PM

"My guess is that at this point we probably have about 2% neutral and 98% against."

Whoa, dude. You need to stop watching Al Jazeera, and go to Iraq. Do this, and I absolutely gaurantee that you will feel like an idiot for saying that. I'm not going to retype all that stuff about the media-driven politically-filtered information you're getting. I got my information first hand. You get yours from the sources that YOU WANT to believe, which makes your version of the truth substantially weaker. You can try to convince me that the entire Iraqi population is rising up against us in some sort of unwinnable quagmire all you want. I've been there. Twice. You are not even close. However, you would make an excellent reporter for Al Jazeera.

Posted by: $lick at September 2, 2004 11:00 PM

Slick, you got your information firsthand from Mosul. Different ballgame.

No way am I going to go to Samara and interview iraqis -- or Karbala either, or Basra -- until things settle down.

But I'm not talking about the population rising up with their little AK47's against your tanks. I'm talking about what they say they want. At the last poll I'd consider possibly reliable, the US military had about a 10% approval rating and 55% of the respondents said they wanted us gone immediately. That was before Abu Graib.

Do you think maybe they like us better now?

I can imagine them getting a representative democratic government and it meets, and demanding that we leave is not the first item on the agenda. It's likely to be pretty high on the list, though. We can prevent that by not having elections.

I can imagine Sistani getting a few hundred thousand iraqis on the street, unarmed, demanding we leave. It worked for Ghandi against the british. It wouldn't have worked against the nazis, they would have just mowed people down until the survivors got the idea and ran. Would it work for Sistani against us? I don't see why it wouldn't. Would our guys consider it a target-rich environment and see how many people they could kill? Call in airstrikes? I don't see it. We aren't nazis.

Militarily we have it won so long as nobody smuggles advanced weapons in. Our light armor can take RPGs and usually be OK, and that's all they have short of car bombs. If they start getting TOWs then it's a different story, but for now we have it won. Politically though, we have it lost. We don't have a friend in iraq outside kurdistan. The closest we have is a small collection of lackeys who're careful to tell us what we want to hear.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 3, 2004 01:01 AM

This "poll" you speak of could have come only from Al Jazeera. It's not even close to reality.

Yes, I have first hand experience from Mosul, but I'm also getting unfiltered information here in Kuwait. Our approval ratings in Baghdad, which represents the angriest of the population is about 60%. It fluctuates depending on the issue- the key issues are water, electricity, et al. It averages about 60% approval. The same polls would show about 10% approval for Saddam's regime. Not SPECTACULAR, but it's MUCH better than most people would imagine.

If you WERE to go out and talk to people from Samara, Rimadi, Taji, etc., you would find that the OVERWHELMING majority are glad that Saddam is gone. Many would complain that freedom isn't all that it was hyped up to be. That's merely people being people. Japan, Germany, Russia- all went through the same painful process.

We won it military in about two weeks. The strategic/political battle is long and painful just as advertised. Everybody wants to crack down on the politicians for being overly optimistic at the outset, just like when Clinton advertised that Bosnia/Kosovo would be over in 6 months (we're still there).

The Iraqis want us out of there as much as we want to leave- we just can't leave yet. Sistani, Allawi, and MOST of the people know this. Things will fall into place soon enough.

Everyone wants overnight results. Maybe Desert Storm (a totally different kind of war) spoiled us- I don't know. Bottom line is that societies like this simply don't change overnight. Everyone wants to claim that "MY WAY would have made an instant peaceful paradise" - absolute rubbish. Changing our leadership in the middle of this process would be a disaster. It would show weakness and instability, and it would completely undermine our efforts. The Iraqis LOVE Bush- I was there. Trust me, they see Bush as the man who brought down Saddam...

Posted by: $lick at September 3, 2004 10:26 AM

That poll was done by the CPS, in early May, before the Abu Graib stuff surfaced.

It found that the vast majority of the sample was glad Saddamswas gone.

Approval ratings for the coailtion forces and for the CPA were 12% and 10%, or maybe I have those reversed and it was CPA that got 12% and the coalition forces 10%.

"Our approval ratings in Baghdad, which represents the angriest of the population is about 60%."

Who do you mean by "us", white man?

55% of the sample wanted our forces to leave immediately. Minorities wanted us to lave when the IGC said to, or in 2 years, and about 5% said they wanted us to leave when we thought the time was right. I'm supposing that those were people who didn't trust pollsters; having lived under Saddam.

Asked who they'd want for president, Jaafari was popular, Saddam came in #10, Allawi came in #16 and the guy who wound up as president was #17.

Just after the handover there was another poll. The earlier one showed Allawi with 20% approval and 40% disapproval. The new one showed him with 60%+ approval. This one was not paid for by the CPS which officially no longer existed. It was paid for by Allawi. I've hesitated to believe iraqi polls since then.

Anyway, there's no reason to be pessimistic about the consequences when the american leadership changes. We have very little to lose, and maybe things will improve.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 3, 2004 01:33 PM

$lick, JThomas,

You guys ever see Cannery Row? You know the scene where the big brawl happens and big Hazel and the linebacker from the college keep at it for hours after everyone goes home?

Seriously though, I am very interested in the discussion and hope to post on it later.

Cheers,

jdwill

Posted by: jdwill at September 4, 2004 06:11 AM
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