September 21, 2004

Terror and Victory

Back in January I tentatively planned to visit Iraq during this coming winter. I changed my mind for reasons that ought to be obvious, as I mentioned in this space before. Some parts of that country are the most dangerous places in the world right now, at least for foreigners. For a while there, though, I thought I would be safer in Iraq than I would be in Israel. Iraq wasn’t a quagmire. But Israel/Palestine was.

It’s amazing what a difference a year can make.

Take a look at the cover for this week’s New Republic.

Intifada_Is_Over.JPG

In one of the cover stories Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren (author of the indispensable Six Days of War) explain how Israel beat back the intifada. Here’s the short version.
Israel's triumph over the Palestinian attempt to unravel its society is the result of a systematic assault on terrorism that emerged only fitfully over the past four years. The fence, initially opposed by the army and the government, has thwarted terrorist infiltration in those areas where it has been completed. Border towns like Hadera and Afula, which had experienced some of the worst attacks, have been terror-free since the fence was completed in their areas. Targeted assassinations and constant military forays into Palestinian neighborhoods have decimated the terrorists' leadership, and roadblocks have intercepted hundreds of bombs, some concealed in ambulances, children's backpacks, and, most recently, a baby carriage. At every phase of Israel's counteroffensive, skeptics have worried that attempts to suppress terrorism would only encourage more of it. [Emphasis added.]
The doom-mongers were wrong. Period. Just as they were wrong when they predicted disaster in Afghanistan. Just as they were wrong when they predicted disaster in Iraq the first time around. Just as they were wrong when they (although it was mostly Republicans this time) predicted disaster in Kosovo.

Those who keep insisting we or one of our democratic allies will actually lose a war have been wrong for a third of a century now. I am thirty four years old. The last time the doom-mongers were right I was three. They have been consistently wrong throughout my entire living memory. (Am I forgetting something? Have we lost a war since Vietnam?)

It’s always the same refrain. Only the details are different.

That doesn’t mean they are necessarily wrong about Iraq. Iraq could turn into an actual quagmire. It does happen sometimes. And they aren’t crazy to look at Iraq now and thinks is a mess. It is a mess, and it’s a bad one. I’m not in denial about it. I planned to visit, then I changed my mind, so I am well aware that the country has deteriorated.

My point here is that the pessimists among us were guaranteed to declare regime-change in Iraq counterproductive and/or a quagmire no matter what actually happened short of an instantaneous transformation of Mesopotamia into Belize.

It wasn’t at all long ago that I barred myself from visiting Israel. I didn’t expect to get killed if I went there. I would almost certainly have been fine. But I didn’t want to sit in a coffeeshop clicking away on my laptop and be consumed with worry about whether or not I was sitting at the “safe” table. I would visit today and hardly worry at all. If all goes well I’ll be in Libya over Thanksgiving, and that doesn’t scare me in the slightest. (Though it does worry my mother a bit.)

I hope the pessimists are wrong about Iraq, and I also hope they hope they’re wrong. The reason I’m pointing out their track record isn’t to say the optimists are right. No one yet knows. (If you’re certain you do know, can I borrow your crystal ball? Pretty please?) Nor am I saying we should do exactly what Israel did. We couldn’t even if we wanted to. We can’t wall off Baghdad.

I understand why people look at Iraq today and are overcome with a sinking feeling. It happens to me sometimes too. It’s so easy, especially if you opposed the invasion of Iraq in the first place, to look at the horrible things that happen and think they represent the whole story or are part of a trend that goes only one way. But remember Israel. They had a horrific spike in terrorism awfully recently. You could have predicted that trend would keep rising indefinitely. And yet it did not. The reason it didn’t is because Israelis fumbled around until they found a strategy that actually worked. Then they implemented it. Now the intifada is over.

A few days ago I linked to Victor Davis Hanson who started off his essay by quoting Georges Clemenceau:
War is a series of catastrophes that results in victory.
Indeed. It isn’t always this way. Sometimes, albeit rarely, we do lose wars. We lost in Vietnam, after all. But we almost always win. And when we do it is first by enduring a gut-wrenching series of catastrophes.

It isn't all going to be rainbows and sunshine, though, no matter what happens. Israel’s victory came at tremendous cost. And I don’t just mean the lives lost on both sides in the fighting. Orem and Halevi continue:

The price Israel has paid for its victory has been sobering. Arafat may be a pariah, but Israel is becoming one, too. Increasingly, the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty is under attack. Former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, for example, has called Israel's creation a "mistake." In Europe, an implicit "red-green-black" coalition of radical leftists, Islamists, and old-fashioned fascists has revived violent anti-Semitism. Along with the desecration of Jewish cemeteries by neo-Nazis and the assaults on Jews by Arab youth, some European left-wingers now sense a sympathetic climate in which to publicly indulge their anti-Semitism. In a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Greek composer and left-wing activist Mikis Theodorakis denounced "the Jews" for their dominance of banks, U.S. foreign policy, and even the world's leading orchestras, adding that the Jews were "at the root of evil." In the Arab world, a culture of denial that repudiates the most basic facts of Jewish history--from the existence of the Jerusalem Temple to the existence of the gas chambers--has become mainstream in intellectual discourse and the media. Government TV stations in Egypt and Syria have produced dramatizations based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Boycotts of Israel are multiplying: The nonaligned states recently voted to bar "settlers"--including Israelis who live in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem--from their borders. Among young Israelis across the political spectrum, there's growing doubt about the country's future and widespread talk of emigration.
Just in case you don't know what the authors are driving at, here's the next sentence.
In its victories and its defeats, Israel is a test case of what happens to a democracy forced to confront nonstop terrorism.
Israel's present may be our future. Best get used to it now.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 21, 2004 03:48 PM

Comments

Michael -

If I had to name one constant in the way America fights wars, it would have to be we always start from behind. This latest conflict is no different in that respect.

What is different this time around is that we have a domestic political bloc actively exploiting the conflict for their own agenda - not mere expression of philosophical differences but actively seeking defeat of our effort in order to discredit the sitting administration.

I'd find it pretty tough to support a party that viewed me as a pawn, but there you go.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 21, 2004 04:24 PM

If I had to name one constant in the way America fights wars, it would have to be we always start from behind

Like in Grenada . . . say, remember the naysayers, the doom mongers, who all predicted we would LOSE in Grenada?

Me neither.

Posted by: kc at September 21, 2004 04:57 PM

TmjUtah,

Yes, you're right, and Israel has a very similar problem. Israel's left and "peace now" promote their own political agendas and the political agenda of EU to chase the elusive "peace process". This keeps everybody so busy that there is no time to think rationally about the even more elusive peace. But at least Israel has proven that terror can be beaten or at least brought down to a liveable level.

Israel's problems are obviously compunded by the presence of settlers and the right/religious fractions - but that's a topic for a separate discussion.

Posted by: marek at September 21, 2004 05:08 PM

KC: Like in Grenada . . . say, remember the naysayers, the doom mongers, who all predicted we would LOSE in Grenada?

They didn't have time to get started. Otherwise they would have.

Anyone who thinks Iraq ought to be as easy as Grenada is nuts. (I know that's not what you meant, I'm just sayin...)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 21, 2004 05:17 PM

So by your standards, Dick Cheney qualifies as a full-on nutter. :)

Posted by: Oliver at September 21, 2004 05:27 PM

'I hope the pessimists are wrong about Iraq, and I also hope they hope they’re wrong'---MJT

I sincerely believe that most of the rancor arising from the Iraq debate is that many of us are getting somewhat fatigued with hoping that the pessimists HOPE they're wrong.

With respect,I have more than just a paranoid suspicion that, that hope is, in many cases, misplaced.I don't think it's just a SMALL fringe that would be quite happy or at least satisfied to see a failure in Iraq in order to justify their insular world view.

Posted by: dougf at September 21, 2004 05:39 PM

As a Jew I give much thanks to who I consider our first Jewish President George Bush (African Americans can have Clinton and Teresa). In truth Bush could have put a stop to this had he carried the mentality of a Carter. The right in Israel may have sought to proceed despite such lack of support but many more moderate minded Israelis that have backed Sharon would have weakened at the knees without our support.

Mr. Pessimist has never won a war, Mr. Resolute has. All of our Presidents that have presided over critical victories have two things in common. First, they all (Washington, Lincoln, etc) were declared losers early on. Second they all had high goals that trump the pessimism and discouragment others heap on them. I listened to Dubya at the UN and by golly if he didn’t just dug in and said we will finish period. He showed all the stubbornness we so need in a day with the political climate that exists. I have said as a person who coaches sports, “My players will believe and care as much as I believe and care.” This President cares and many swing voters that vote on leadership will appreciate this.

I have said people who have learned from history and Vietnam please help if it is constructive, however people who see Iraq and cry “Vietnam… Quagmire!” need to be kept as far away from this endeavor as possible. They need to be because it is only human nature for people to instinctively bring about and wish upon themselves the realities of such pronouncements so they may be justified. I was one of those that thought Reagan was dangerous and silly-stupid. His optimism in predicting the downfall of communism I viewed as unrealistic. I like Ted Kennedy wanted to send them aid as they struggled and prop them up, appease them if you will. That bastard man without a soul, Ronald Reagan, saw it differently and thought they needed to bite the damn dust as a society first, and then help revive them into a new life… he was right, I was the bastard. Shortly after he left office and by the grace of God and while Alzheimer’s had yet to ravage his body, he witnessed this and was vindicated.

I know how these people on the left view Bush for I have held those views. Bush is a mean scary stupid son of a bitch that might just be crazy enough to get us all killed. That is why he is what we need. Bush is the right, man at the right time and the people who see him as a damn bastard in reality need to take inventory of themselves.

Congratulations Israel, hopefully a free democratic Iraq will further help.

Posted by: Samuel at September 21, 2004 05:49 PM

Oliver: So by your standards, Dick Cheney qualifies as a full-on nutter. :)

Did you post this in the right thread? I'm not sure what this has to do with Israel, terrorism, war, or defeatism. Unless you mean he was a full-on nutter over the Kosovo war, which is possible. I don't know what he said about it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 21, 2004 05:49 PM

God bless the IDF. Long live Israel.

History has shown that peace can only come from victory. I expect and hope that once Israel is victorious, the palestinians will return to the peace table with a new appreciation for the two-state solution.

Posted by: David at September 21, 2004 05:50 PM

Oliver,

Nevermind, I see why you said that. I rather doubt, though, that Cheney thought Iraq would be as easy as Grenada. Grenada is effectively a small town.

Although Cheney almost certainly underestimated the insurgency that would follow the fall of Saddam.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 21, 2004 05:52 PM

I wonder how many comparisons we will get, regarding Iraq?

It's Vietnam!
It's Germany!
It's the Philippines in early 20th century!
It's Algeria!

Man.

Michael, you may be right. It's hard to know whether the "direction", which is clearly negative , is temporary or permanent. (I would incline to permanent, until something is done, in the Sunni area. And I'm not sure Allawi would authorize us razing Fallulah/parts of Baghdad.)

I'm wondering though, at what point would YOU personally, say, "that's it, let's get the US troops out of there".

I'm assuming that the US would be out of Iraq way before your measuring stick, but I wonder...

Let's look at at progressively worse scenarios.

1. Say that the US casualty rate gets to 10 a day?

If you were calling the shots, would you still stay?

2. Say that the Kurds start a low-level conflict with Shiite forces over Kirkuk.

Would you stay?

3. If Shiite areas get as violent as current Baghdad - (which won't happen, but suppose)

If you were calling the shots would you stay?

I'm assuming if the United States were losing on the average 50 soldiers a day, you would give it up. And, it won't get there.

But, at what point would you say "Sh*t. Civil war, "x" casualties/day. All we can do is get out."

What is your underwater point?

Posted by: JC at September 21, 2004 06:04 PM

Back to Israel - I was never one who commented, one way or the other, about the wall.

I can see how practically, it is making a difference. And I, for one, was glad a limit was being placed on a certain "expansion instinct" within the Israeli settler community, that wasn't helping matters much.

I was really afraid that Israel would turn into an apartheid state, with it's continous slightly increasing borders.

The Wall cements the borders, in that respect.

Posted by: JC at September 21, 2004 06:14 PM

JC: What is your underwater point?

A fair question. I'll have to think about it to give you a detailed answer. But I will say this. If Iraq looks as though it will surely get worse if we leave than if we stay, we are morally obligated to stay. Genocide could, in theory anyway, follow a hasty departure. (It would depend on who has the most firepower at the time of our departure.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 21, 2004 06:14 PM

TMJ - with respect to fights with massive political opposition, we have the Civil War, to note the most famous example.

MJT - with respect to other 'lost' wars, we can count Somalia - we 'lost' it in much the same way we lost Vietnam. We just go to it much more quickly than we did in Southeast Asia.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at September 21, 2004 06:17 PM

I agree. I commented similarly over at Daniel Drezner, over the weekend, when he asked the question in a post.

Posted by: JC at September 21, 2004 06:17 PM

BRD,

I dunno. Does Somalia really count as a war lost? I have not thought about it that way, but I suppose you could make a case.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 21, 2004 06:46 PM

The United States of America can only "lose a war" if it chooses to. No force on earth can stop us except our own lack of resolve. When will it be time to cut and run from Iraq? I reject the premise that we cannot leave that country stable and in charge of its own destiny. I know we can. I know we will UNLESS John Kerry is elected. Then we will cut and run. I believe this to the core of my being. He does not have the stamina to stay the course. I credit Bush for this resolution. But no way should the country be this divided over what seems to me an unequivocal just war. I blame Bush for this but I also blame the Democrats and not least of all Kerry who is now a full blown Deaniac. Israel is not out of the woods yet but through resolution, and the support of their only friend in the world (us) they have survived and thrived.

Posted by: Doug at September 21, 2004 06:46 PM

>>>"The United States of America can only "lose a war" if it chooses to. No force on earth can stop us except our own lack of resolve."

The U.S. military is basically invincible. So in effect if we lose a war it's because of our enemy within, weakening our resolve and giving aid and comfort to the enemy. They are the 5th columnist Libs and Leftists. If we lose a war, it's them I blame. John Kerry's testimony before the Senate in '71 is a great example. We had prisoners being tortured in order to get a confession of war crimes out of them, and there goes war hero John Kerry giving it to them for free. What an asshole.

Posted by: David at September 21, 2004 06:58 PM

MT,

That is your finest effort since I discovered you. Thanks for the effort.

Those who would measure the necessity, success or acceptability of a given war by casualty counts are fools. ALL wars are horrible and filled with regrettable deaths. You can't simply say the civil war, by FAR our most bloody, was our worst war. In many ways it was our most necessary and honorable.

The question should be does a given war threaten our national interest in such a way to warrant taking great national risk. If the answer to that is yes, then whatever it takes to win in human lives and treasure. If the answer is no, then we should not lose a single soldier. nor spend a single dollar

The decision to go to war MUST be black or white. Otherwise, others will know we can be waited out and defeated, that we have no ability to form and maintain national resolve. When that happens, we are courting disaster.

Posted by: spc67 at September 21, 2004 07:18 PM

"Am I forgetting something? Have we lost a war since Vietnam?" Vietnam was a battle we lost in the Cold War.

We won the Cold War--hundreds of millions of people could tell you about it. I wish the Vietnamese were part of those millions.

Posted by: Brooks at September 21, 2004 07:43 PM

spc67- Well said.

Posted by: rosignol at September 21, 2004 07:52 PM

JC --

"It's hard to know whether the "direction", which is clearly negative , is temporary or permanent."

Your statement may or may not be correct. The fact of the matter is that you lack the information necessary to make this judgment. You are only looking at one side of the equation. Remember, the bleakest period for US fortunes in Europe during WWII was the Battle of the Bulge (late 1944/early 1945), a matter of months before Germany collapsed. One of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific (Okinawa, where the US suffered 50,000 casualties) occurred in 1945, AFTER VE day and shortly before Japan collapsed. Similarly, Union forces suffered terribly in 1864 (e.g., Cold Harbor), shortly before the Confederacy collapsed, and the Germans made significant gains in 1918, shortly before they collapsed.

The point is that you cannot judge the progress of the war based upon the number of casualties the US is suffering or the state of the security situation at a given point in time because such things are viewed without reference to the position of the enemy. We must redouble our efforts to kill as many of them as possible as quickly as possible in hopes that the rest will give up and cause an early end to the conflict.

Posted by: Ben at September 21, 2004 07:59 PM

MT,

The real question is how much do the Iraqi people really want "freedom". I know the upper 10% with blogsites do. But I am talking about the people who need to turn in the beasts among them...at great risk no doubt to their own lives! Has another country ever "given" freedom to people that lasted? What is the tipping point for a burning anger to set in among the Iraqi masses to stop the brutal killing of Iraqis and foreign workers? For those who are satisfied with the current body count as being bad but tolerable--ask yourself if you would change your view at all if the next to die was your 22 year old child...The success of this mission lies not with our brave soldiers but with the Iraqi people. There are not enough Marines in the world to make them free....

Posted by: Ray at September 21, 2004 08:34 PM

So in effect if we lose a war it's because of our enemy within, weakening our resolve and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

…or we go in and figure out too late that it simply in not worth what it will cost in blood and treasure. There hast to be a cost \ benefit metric, “at all costs” is mind bogglingly simple minded.

Also Mr. Totten poses a binary choice, win or lose, in military terms he is correct. But military might is not the be all and end all. Fighting wars should be a means, never an end. If we “win” the war, but fail to realize the overall geo-political goal, can we really claim victory?

Sure we “won” Iraq, it’s ours (in a very lose, “were only their as liberators kind of way), but now we have the Gaza strip snap on kit and putting a wall around Iraq will take a long time to build. The question shouldn’t be, “did we win Iraq”, of course we did, the question should be can we really do what we set out to do geo-politically, create a model moderate secular Muslim state? Because that is the only goal I can see being worth the blood and treasure spent so far. I think the notion of eradicating all fundamentalist Islamic terrorists and guerillas is like trying to get rid of organized crime and won’t go away no matter what are resolve short of inflicting genocide.

Posted by: Rick DeMent at September 21, 2004 09:13 PM

Bravo Romeo Delta -

I'd go with the War of 1812 first..."Mr. Madison's War"...but agree that with you to the point that I've used "copperheads" in more than one post.

The price of defeat in both of those wars did not approach the death of civilization. That's a big difference, in my book.

I do remember though, that the Northern copperheads basically sought to end the war to favor their own economic interests in the south at least as much as they acted out of mere political expediency. The draft resisters had a damned good case to fight, as far as I'm concerned. Bountys and replacements were just as heinous a system as were the Vietnam era deferments racket, and that's a fact.

Grenada was a no-lose situation, yes...but it was much, much more hit-and-miss than any military operation conducted by a supposedly world-class assault force should ever have been. Great lesson, learned cheaply. We owe the successes in Panama, GW1, and beyond all to the improvements that originated out of the cluster flock of Grenada.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 21, 2004 11:04 PM

>>>"…or we go in and figure out too late that it simply in not worth what it will cost in blood and treasure. There hast to be a cost \ benefit metric, “at all costs” is mind bogglingly simple minded."

Your cost/benefit analysis is worthless in the hands of the wrong people when said people are oblivious to what the stakes are (the benefits).

Posted by: David at September 21, 2004 11:06 PM

Nice analysis Michael. Thought provoking.

Posted by: Raymond at September 21, 2004 11:21 PM

First of all, I don't want to be in Israel's situation. It may be necessary one day. I dearly hope not. It was, without question, totally unnecessary in Iraq. Iraq was not a war of survival for us. It was a war of choice, a war of prevention of a threat that turned out nt to exist. So then the hawks turned to the argument that it was a war of liberation.

And this is where the analogy fails. Has Israel liberated the Palestinians? Please. They live in something distressingly close to a Bantustan, with no functional economy and no political rights and a corrupt and murderous government with an even more murderous rival faction. I understand why Israel has chosen this solution, and why they felt they had no choice--I don't think that's quite right, but I don't for sure. In any case, beyond question, they have not liberated the Palestinians and no Israeli would claim they have. And they certainly have not changed hearts and minds and caused them to turn away from terror. Rather the opposite.

I'm sure we could build a fence around the CPA-controlled zone if we wanted to and guard it heavily and maintain control. What the hell would that accomplish? Nothing we set out to do, and I mean nothing. No working Al Qaeda ties, no WMD at all, no democracy....and we have lost an awful lot.

You ask how many times we've lost wars since Vietnam. I'd ask how many reconstructions we've done successfully since WW2.

Posted by: Katherine at September 21, 2004 11:37 PM

Katherine you've gone off the deep end trying to extend the analogy between the Iraq war and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Did you happen to notice that Israel is living alongside the Palestinians, and thus never launched any such war of liberation. After diplomacy failed to define final borders between the two sides, terrorism escalated and Israel defended its civilian population by building a much-maligned wall. Palestinian living standards and human rights are still deplorable, but Israel never suggested they would take responsibility for their society.

Instead, they tried to give them a state to rule themselves.

Posted by: Jono at September 22, 2004 12:22 AM

Good Q, Katherine -- reconstruction is really hard. Too bad the Dems don't discuss positives and negatives about alternatives.
The Iraqis, and ONLY the Iraqis, can give themselves freedom. See my
http://tomgrey.motime.com/1083000026#264950
Harry Potter, Ender Wiggins, (no) Help for Iraqi People

We did not "lose" in any big Vietnam battle; our culture chose to stop fighting there. Peace.
Peace and genocide, rather than some 100-300 American body bags per month. After already many years.

In the 71 Kerry vs O'Neill debate on Dick Cavett, O'Neill was talking about Vietnamization, which Nixon was trying to do (after Johnson had failed, utterly). Nixon didn't do so well, either.

Two lessons I have from Vietnam:
1) Peace (and genocide) is WORSE than fighting evil. Yes, 300 body bags a month for 10 more years is BETTER than accepting evil commie genocide. (NO draft though -- higher, or MUCH higher salaries for volunteers; mercenaries, not slaves.) [We should be preparing for regime change in Sudan, with or without the toothless UN]
2) The "liberated" people must be responsible for their own freedom.

The critiques of Bush's running of Iraq, many of which I mildly support, seem usually to advocate MORE occupation/ firmness on the part of the US forces.
Bush allowed looting -- too much Iraqi freedom
allowed Sadr to foment revolt -- too much freedom
allowed Fallujah rebels -- too much freedom, not enough force.

I'm NOT CERTAIN that too much Iraqi freedom is wrong, or that more US force/occupation is better. It might be -- but where has it worked well? Kosovo, Bosnia, Ivory Coast (French soldiers just robbed a bank there)? Without such a standard, hysterical critiques of Bush are NOT obviously true.

I suspect that intellectually honest Iraqis will conclude, at some point, that only if Iraqis stop terrorism inside Iraq, will the terrorism radically be reduced. And the US army is there to make sure that, in any real "battle", the "good guys" win. Battles, not kidnapping & murder crimes. After elections, and Iraqi Arabs have elected officials, the terrorists will certainly have a tougher time claiming they are "anti-American", when they are killing Iraqis.

On K's about Palis "They live in something distressingly close to a Bantustan, with no functional economy and no political rights and a corrupt and murderous government with an even more murderous rival faction.

It is NOT Israel which stops Palis from voting, it is Arafat's PLA, which also stops free speech, free association, and non-corrupt business. Pali self-repression is, and has long been, the real Palestinian problem; the EU should be insisting on free speech and free press, at least, in Palestine. The BBC and other Leftist press agencies are terrible about reporting Pali thuggery against Palis.

Israel was so PR stupid to build the Wall on more territory, rather than less -- but they HAVE a democracy, and their own wingnuts have a big influence. Because of party lists and proportional representation.

The same silly PR system the UN advocated for Iraq, and Bremer signed into law in June, just before he left. The Iraqis should change it to be geographic districts, a bit like the US (with an independent commission drawing up the districts based on objective criteria).

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 22, 2004 01:05 AM

Michael, just a wonderful essay and absolutely dead-on right.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at September 22, 2004 05:46 AM
I was really afraid that Israel would turn into an apartheid state, with it's continous slightly increasing borders. The Wall cements the borders, in that respect

Behold the price of losing a war: The loss of territory. This is a common rule in history. The Palestinians and Arab states have insisted on war without consequences for them when they loose, and a war with terminal consequences for Israel should they ever win. The Wall is a lesson for them to grow up. The Wall is theirs as much as it is Israels.

Posted by: Bill at September 22, 2004 06:19 AM

Michael -

I missed complimenting you on the essay. Truly good stuff here.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 22, 2004 06:39 AM

David,

As a student of the way in which different countries have counterbalanced each other militarily throughout history, I'm astounded by the way in which the U.S. dominates the modern battlefield. We could defeat China on the battlefield if we had too (though we would take hundreds of thousands of casualties).

But this all misses the point. The U.S. armed forces are not invincible, because we have not yet come up with a way to fight determined terrorism and counter-insurgency. And this type of assymetrical imbalance is not even new. The Spanish guerrillas drove Napoleon out of Spain more than Wellington did.

In many ways, Israel's response is unique. The very thing which makes it so vulnerable -- its smallness and nearness to its enemies -- also alllows it to use a physical wall to such great effect.

But the U.S. can get much smarter in its use of preemptive strikes and in prevention of attacks. This would require more aggressive attacks that kill more civilians, targeted assasinations, and using racial profiling and more restrictive crowd control policies. All of these would accelerate our descent into pariah status among those whose opinions our intelligensia care the most about.

Either way we will have to pay a price to defeat the Iraqi insurgency: either much more American dead and a humiliating retreat if we continue our current approach to fighting this insurgency or worldwide condemnation if we start doing the things Israel is now doing to win their war against terrorism.

Posted by: Matt Ward at September 22, 2004 06:45 AM

I do hope that all you arm-chair warriors who cry "resolve!" are getting out your battle gear and signing up to go to Iraq.

Posted by: David Sucher at September 22, 2004 07:10 AM

I love how Orem and Halevi put the word "settlers" in quotes, as if to say "so-called." I wonder how long it will take for quotes to start showing up around the word "palestinians" again.

After the wall is built, and after he painfully uproots two or three settlements in Gaza next year, Sharon's next step will be to attempt to annex all West Bank land outlying the wall, in exchange for painfully conceding the bantustans inside the wall to the so-called Palestinians, so they can have, as Victor Hansen says "some sort of autonomous Palestinian state", whatever that means. If Bush is in the White House, I'm sure the US will approve. If Kerry is in, I guess its the same.

The only thing in the way of such a move would be if the much-maligned Israeli peace movement reasserts itself, and a critical mass of the Jewish American community rejects fear and tribal supremacism in favor of hope and humane universalist values, and calls for a more fair solution.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 22, 2004 07:23 AM

Michael Totten.
Do you really, truly believe that the struggle with the Palestinians is over and that Israel can live in peace? You are not that naive, I know. Then how can you even remotely buy into a story that Israel has defeated terrorism? The whole notion is both unfounded factually (i.e. it's far too soon to say) and without resolution of a Palestinian state.
But since hoping for victory seems to be as important as reality -- who am I to say?

Posted by: David Sucher at September 22, 2004 07:45 AM

Dave Sucher-

Devastating retort. Did you just think of it?

Markus Rose-

From which page of Protocols did you lift the phrase "tribal supremacism"? Or did you just think of it. It is an interesting choice of words and I have to wonder if you would choose to use them when dicussing African-Americans, for example, or just about any other ethnicity than the one chosen. Somehow I think not.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 22, 2004 07:48 AM

Sucher-

Let me clarify. I was commenting on your first stupidity...the 'chickenhawk' thingee.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 22, 2004 07:50 AM

'I do hope that all you arm-chair warriors who cry "resolve!" are getting out your battle gear and signing up to go to Iraq'---Sucher

We also serve who attempt to deal with the tendentious defeatists who are unfortunately infesting the home front.Each is a valid and important area in this WOT.

Posted by: dougf at September 22, 2004 07:57 AM

It really annoys me that there is such self-congtaulation about Sharon's idiotic policies when you can read a headline like this one:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Israel-Suicide-Attack.html?hp

Posted by: David Sucher at September 22, 2004 08:07 AM

Markus,

There used to be a bunch of left-wing peaceniks in Israel, but they all died during a Bar Mitzvah celebration, riding a bus home from the mall, and eating pizza with their kids.

When they shoot your kids in the head, then shoot your pregnant wife in the belly so she knows all of her children, born and unborn are dead, and then shoot her between the eyes, perhaps you will begin to understand something about the enemy. This is where Israel is today.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at September 22, 2004 08:10 AM

David Sucher,

Pst... for your information: the fence/wall/barrier around Jerusalem is not finished yet.

Marcus Rose,

Can you share with us any other bits of info on Sharon's plans?

Posted by: marek at September 22, 2004 08:30 AM

>>>"When they shoot your kids in the head, then shoot your pregnant wife in the belly so she knows all of her children..."

Matthew,

you just don't get it about these peaceniks. They really think that Israeli woman had it coming to her; and if not, the blame falls squarely on Sharon's shoulders. You've not made the slightest dent in his armour.

Posted by: David at September 22, 2004 08:37 AM

DTP -

It's not a REAL antiwar argument without the obligatory chickenhawk reference, is it?

I think we're about due for a pipeline reference or Said/Fisk/Albright cite any time now...

tongue firmly in cheek

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 22, 2004 09:05 AM

Jojo--that's exactly my point: it's a really, really, really lousy analogy. Israel was not trying to accomplish what we were in Iraq, and has not succeeded, and even if the wall is a successful solution for Israel, which is debatable, there is no equivalent available to us in Iraq.

Posted by: Katherine at September 22, 2004 09:09 AM

Well, I read this post last night, and went away to think about it. I decided to post something positive about the article and mention that we should be careful about declaring victory for Isreal, because the Chaos Factor in the reigon was high enough that any predictions are based on unknowns.

Then I read this on CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/09/22/mideast/index.html

Another suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

Only one person died... but it looks like someone found a hole in the wall.

Any predictions about Iraq should also keep the Chaos Factor in mind. We should be speaking in 'maybe' and 'hopefully', instead of the sure words of the assimilated conformists, blinded on either side by nationalism and patriotism. Well meaning, but in no way reflective of the reality of the situation.

America can win every war it goes into. It's just like the idea that I can build a computer network that could withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados and hackers, all at the same time. However, the expense in building and maintaining such a network far outweighs (in most cases) the benefit of being THAT insured against any outage.

There are times when the Risk no longer justifies the Cost. I'm not saying that we are at that point now. But, to deny that such a point exists is foolish.

Example:

If Iraq devolves into a Civil War (a possibility, you must admit), the Intel Community stated that we would take 10 years to get Iraq stabalized. Let us say that during that time of occupation, we lose, on average, 1000 troops a year (not an unreasonable number in a full Civil War, compared to what now amounts to an insurgency).

Now, with that conservative estimate of losses, plus the monetary cost of maintaining the millitary in the reigon, plus the fact that our troops would be quite concentrated in one reigon, while North Korea and Iran may soon require attention.

If this situation develops, it is not unlikely that we may see a return of the Draft.

So the cost of the war would be:

(Cost of Lives + Financial Cost of War + Inability to move troops into other hotspots (or) reinstatement of the draft)

What is the gain?

Stability in Iraq, which may in time help win the war on Islamofacisim. However, if stability is 10 years away, how beneficial is this gain?

Iraq is now a battle in the War on Terror, and America does occasionally lose battles.

All of that aside, I do not wish this to happen, I hope it does not happen... but hiding your eyes from the possibility is just silly.

Posted by: Ratatosk at September 22, 2004 09:34 AM

We also serve who attempt to deal with the tendentious defeatists who are unfortunately infesting the home front. Each is a valid and important area in this WOT.

Bwahahahahahahahah...(snort)....bwahahahahahahahahaha...oh... Jeez...wait...bahahah...hah... Hah. Whew! Thanks.

Oh, wait, you were serious? You see yourself clittering your keys on this message board as even vaguely equivalent to serving as a soldier at war? No, you couldn't. You couldn't possibly be so vain and self-impressed.

Posted by: st at September 22, 2004 09:36 AM

>>>"Only one person died... but it looks like someone found a hole in the wall."

someone else on this thread said the wall wasn't complete in the Jerusalem area. Does anybody know if this is true or not?

Posted by: David at September 22, 2004 09:50 AM

Ratatosk,

... but it looks like someone found a hole in the wall.

The wall/fence/barrier is only about 40% completed in Jerusalem are. But even with the fence completed there still will be suicide attacks. The point is that they will be less and less frequent.

I've typed this very slowly - hope you will be able to understand that.

Posted by: marek at September 22, 2004 09:54 AM

Good article, MT.

However, Clemenceau's "War is a series of catastrophes that results in victory" is not an optimistic statement. Victory for one side is defeat for the other. Besides, war can end in a stalemate.

BTW, I sincerely hope we succeed in building a stable and free Iraq, and anybody who believes that vast numbers of Democrats hope otherwise is a deluded asshole.

Most of us who criticize America do so out of love, not hate.

Posted by: Oberon at September 22, 2004 09:56 AM

Markus: I love how Orem and Halevi put the word "settlers" in quotes, as if to say "so-called."

That's because they are referring to Jews who live in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 22, 2004 09:58 AM

Per Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "At some point the Iraqis will get tired of getting killed and we'll have enough of the Iraqi security forces that they can take over responsibility for governing that country."

Well, that's one way to achieve victory.

Posted by: Oberon at September 22, 2004 09:58 AM

>>>"Most of us who criticize America do so out of love, not hate."

Would you say that consistently blaming America first, AND doing it on foreign soil in front of a crowd who has no love for America is a form of "love"? Would you say going in front of that hostile crowd and telling them how Americans are possibly the dumbest people on the planet is a form of "love."

You really expect us to believe that bullshit?

Posted by: David at September 22, 2004 10:21 AM

marek quoth "I've typed this very slowly - hope you will be able to understand that."

You know, I wasn't being critical, I was making the point that declaring victory over terrorism in Isreal is premature. We believe that the wall will cause acts of terror in Isreal to slow/stop... but we do not know that. We do not have any idea what the long term successes or long term problems will be.

I understand that we think the wall will help. I understand that we hope the Palistinians will return to the peace table, but there is no surety of such things.

Sometimes I wonder why people are afraid to admit that they don't 'know' what will happen.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at September 22, 2004 10:52 AM

DPeasant -- I made up "tribal supremacism" myself, or at least remembered it from some unknown source. "Parochial" or "provincial" would have sufficed as an alternative description. But I didn't think those words would have sufficiently pissed you and Marek off.

I am opposed to all people exclusively indentified and concerned with "their people." Regardless of whether those peeps are self-styled Davids or alleged Goliaths. But particularly when those peeps are expected by many of their brethren to uncritically defend a nation that IS a real-life Goliath, possessing 300 nukes while claiming that security concerns are what forces it to include Qaliqulia, site of one of the West Bank's three major sources of water, and its surrounding settlements, on the Israeli side of the wall.

http://www.globalengagement.org/issues/2004/06/westbankwall.htm

Michael -- The main purpose of those Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem is to cut off most of the Arab neighborhoods of that area from the rest of the West Bank, logistically eliminating the possibility of a Palestinian capital in that part of the city.

While the U.S. is one of only three countries in the world to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish capital, the U.S. position on the status of East Jerusalem has varied from President to President, as this informative link points out: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/Peacewatch/peacewatch2000/271.htm

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 22, 2004 10:59 AM

Most of us who criticize America do so out of love, not hate

That statement is an insult to our intelligence (but you're insulting our intelligence out of love, right?).

If a parent constantly criticizes, insults and berates one child while downplaying the mistakes of another, which is the favored child?

Posted by: mary at September 22, 2004 11:08 AM

>>>"Sometimes I wonder why people are afraid to admit that they don't 'know' what will happen."

Tosk,

it's my understanding that we already DO know that the barrier has had positive results. I could gooogle it for you but I'm out the door in the next few minutes.

Posted by: David at September 22, 2004 11:09 AM

David,

We know only that there has been a lapse in the number of attacks, this is likely because the wall is a new barrier and it will take time for their enemies to adapt. Or, it may be that the Pali's are giving up.... It "appears" that the Wall is working, I agree. But time will tell if it is truly a barrier or just a speed bump.

True?

Posted by: Ratatosk at September 22, 2004 11:15 AM

Tosk: We believe that the wall will cause acts of terror in Isreal to slow/stop... but we do not know that.

It already has slowed terrorism. Dramatically. A few terrorists can get through the gaps - for now. And Hamas etc will still lob rockets over the border into Israel's cities. But the intifada as a wave of weekly and sometime even daily terrorism is over.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 22, 2004 11:17 AM

Marcus,

1. The words are important in their context and this is not the first time your selection of words is at least provocative.

2. Contrary to what you are saying, Qalqulia
is behind the fence i.e. in PA area. It is almost totally fenced/walled because at this point Israel, the super power, is about 10 miles wide.

3. Contrary to your quoted link the "67 borders" are not internationally recognized borders but merely the armistice lines dating back to 1949.

4. As a victim of Arab agression in 1967 Israel has the right to establish her own new armistice lines. The borders will be established if and when there will be some responsible entity on the Arab side to negotiate a viable and enforceable peace agreement. This might include a different status for Jerusalem.

Contrary to your clairvoyance about Sharon's plans I'm not a privy to Israel's future plans and consequently will not argue your other points.

Posted by: marek at September 22, 2004 11:23 AM

Good post, Michael.

(It might be argued that Vietnam was a battle lost in a war we eventually won, the Cold War. That may be a stretch, of course; but it is valid, I think, within the context you describe.)

Posted by: Steve in Nashville at September 22, 2004 11:25 AM

Tosk,

also consider that close to 98% of the suicide bombs have come from the west bank, not Gaza.

And that's because Gaza has been fenced off for quite some time now. I think that's where they got the idea to do the same in the west bank.

At some point, the evidence becomes proof.

Posted by: David at September 22, 2004 11:30 AM

MJT: It already has slowed terrorism. Dramatically. A few terrorists can get through the gaps - for now. And Hamas etc will still lob rockets over the border into Israel's cities. But the intifada as a wave of weekly and sometime even daily terrorism is over.

Yes, I agree it has dramatically slowed terrorism, and should be applauded as a potential victory. But, a potential victory is not a victory. Only time will tell if this is a band-aid or stitches.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at September 22, 2004 11:31 AM

David and Mary -- rereading my post, I see why you thought I was insulting your intelligence or spreading bullshit.

So please allow me to qualify my previous statement.

When I wrote "Most of us who criticize America do so out of love, not hate", I was thinking only about Americans, and did not mean to include non-American critics.

Posted by: Oberon at September 22, 2004 11:37 AM

Markus-

Whatever. You may not be quoting Protocols, but you certainly seem to be channelling them.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 22, 2004 12:31 PM

DtheP:

By "Protocols" are you referring to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

I hope not, because even though I don't agree with Markus, I don't think it's right to toss the anti-Semite charge for what he wrote.

(Or do you care to argue that channeling The Protocols is something non-anti-Semites are wont to do?)

Posted by: Oberon at September 22, 2004 12:50 PM

Oberon-

Of course I was and you thinking it's not right commands my indifference.

But in any case, before you start getting all huffy about it, please justify the use of the term "tribal supremacism" within the context it was originally used. And please don't repeat or use a variation of Rose's above brainfart to do so. If you can do it my satisfaction, I'll retract and apologize.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 22, 2004 01:20 PM

Marek -- Israel continues to be "ten miles wide in places" even AFTER it fences in the people of Qalkilya. So I don't can't see how that's the reason they did it.

As far as I can tell, the reason for walling in Qalkilya is for access to the aquifier, and to protect the settlers of "Alfe Menashe" and "Zofin". Here is a UN map of the area, with the route marked:
http://www.auphr.org/thewall/UNmap02.jpg

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 22, 2004 01:25 PM

I think that the declaration of victory over the intifada is premature.

No question: the beast's been injured, but it's not dead, yet. Fences are useful, and Israel is demonstrating that, but even with the active measures against the terrorist leadership, what we may be seeing is more of a lull than a slow, lumbering halt.

The real question is, I think, what Israel is going to have to do not just to make it more difficult for the terrorists, but more difficult for the terrorists to find popular support among their people. And I don't think that's done with walls, and with helicopters, and with tanks, but with artillery.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at September 22, 2004 01:40 PM

Dennis --
The claims that all or most Jews embrace "tribal supremacism", or that such character is somehow unique to the Jewish people, is false and probably antisemitic. The claim that some or many do in fact adopt such an attitude is not. It is simply a fact, or at least an assertion based on observed reality. If you disagree, just check out some of the writings on the website for zionist organization of america, or the one for americans for a safe israel.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 22, 2004 01:41 PM

Peasant:

I'm glad you asked about the context it was originally used. Out of context, it's bothersome, but in context it's not anything like the Protocols:

and a critical mass of the Jewish American community rejects fear and tribal supremacism in favor of hope and humane universalist values, and calls for a more fair solution.

The term is contrasted with "humane universalist values" -- which I take to mean that all human lives are equally valued rather than valuing an Israeli life more than a Palestinian life, that freedom and security are for everybody and not just people one side.

Or, viewed another way, until the world is safe and secure and just for everybody, it isn't safe and secure and just for us Jews.

Maybe that's a stupid ideal, especially since the Palestinian terrorists have no such belief, but I don't see that it's anywhere near the despicable evil perpretated by the Protocols over the past 100 years.

'course, for all I know, Markus is a raving anti-Semite.

Posted by: Oberon at September 22, 2004 01:44 PM

> Yes, I agree it has dramatically slowed terrorism, and should be applauded as a potential victory. But, a potential victory is not a victory. Only time will tell if this is a band-aid or stitches.

As someone who was sitting at a cafe on Hillel St. at the moment the suicide bomb went off in the north of city this afternoon (heard it on the news half an hour later), let me tell you, dramatically slowing terrorism IS victory, you idiot. I don't care if it's a band-aid or stitches or jell-o or a phantom limb: fewer successful terror attacks without nuking the whole damn lot of them = victory.

I'm wondering what you consider victory here. Changing the hearts and minds of Palestinians? That is something America may be able to pull off in Iraq, but it is not something Israel can achieve vis a vis its neighbors. Nor should it be trying.

The longer we survive - and both the good Lord and Yossi Klein know we ain't going anywhere - the more the Palestinians will work themselves into a tizzy, the more depraved will become their liberation struggle, until eventually something will snap. Who knows what it'll be, but it won't be us.

Let me tell you what speaks to victory in this war: the fact that Israel has to place security guards outside hospitals. Anyone with an enemy as deranged as that is destined for victory.

Posted by: Adam Khan at September 22, 2004 01:46 PM

Sorry I meant to say end the first sentence of the preceding post with "probably ALWAYS antisemitic." [Missing word in CAPS]

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 22, 2004 01:46 PM

America won every major battle in Vietnam
She lost the overall war due to seditionists within her own ranks (Kerry/Fonda). (Dominoes? Ha! Then Cambodia fell to Pol Pot and Laos to equally repulsive but thakfully less efficient thugs)
The Moral Equivalents would have us bow and beg forgiveness of the most intolerant this world has to offer.
No more Sudetenlands! We must not EVER sacrifice another democracy to any dictatorship, no matter their colour. Too much has been lost already.

As to the Jews themselves: Highly educated, adaptable, strong work ethic ... what's not to hate? Especially if you happen to be lazy, stupid and bitter

Posted by: GW Crawford at September 22, 2004 01:50 PM

An accurate study of Vietnam would reveal that the war was "lost" because of politics (spurred on by liberal press and anti-war protest). Info from the Viet Cong after the war confirmed that the U.S. military was winning.

What is missing in the current debate is a knowledge of history. Eighteen months in Washington had lost 90% of his army. Eighteen months in Lee was in the North. Eighteen months in Japan was on American soil.

For how many years did they have to deal with the insurgents in Germany after the "end" of WWII?

Posted by: Jill Livingston at September 22, 2004 01:54 PM

I've read the theory that attacks on Israel have slowed because Israel has successfully killed so many terrorist leaders. Do you think this is a factor?

Posted by: Brad at September 22, 2004 01:59 PM

Mr. Sucher wrote, "I do hope that all you arm-chair warriors who cry "resolve!" are getting out your battle gear and signing up to go to Iraq."

I'm flying on the 28th to Texas on SW. A SW uniform and pass were stolen, his trunk was broken into, IIRC. Which means he could have been marked.

Our airlines are being tested once again, see Annie Jacobsen's series of articles about the NW flight she was at the end of June.

I, Sir, will literally be sitting in that chair of which you wrote.

And I and my family will not be as well armoured/protected as our Armed Forces.

Your comment, at minimum, is childish. I will leave the other posters to decide, at maximum, what your comment is.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 22, 2004 02:21 PM

I support the Iraq effort because I think it is worth a try to help start a democracy in the middle east. If that could be accomplished and the Iraqis could live prosperous, peaceful lives, it would truly change things for the better. I am willing to support a total effort to accomplish this for up to, say, ten years.

But at the same time I have never thought we would succeed. I don't think that a critical mass of arabs/muslims WANT a democracy, or believe in it. I think the arab/muslim culture is too streaked with violence, "saving face", chest-beating, and fundamentalism for a real, uncorrupt democracy to take root. (And I also suspect that the problem might be partly genetic, with the population having a higher testosterone level and a slightly lower IQ level than western populations, making people slightly too stupid and slightly too macho to voluntarily restrain themselves as is necessary in a democracy.)

The brilliant simplicity of the Israeli approach is embodied in The Wall. Truly, when your foe is a medieval fanatic, something like an old-fashioned city wall may be just what is needed. Of course we can't literally build a wall around the United States, but the same principle holds: exclude these kinds of people from our country, and they simply cannot harm us. They do not have the technology or organization to mount a traditional war against us; their only hope of hurting us is to physically come here themselves and do it in person. If we don't let them in, they can't hurt us.

So I believe that if we continue to suffer attacks in US territory by these fundamentalist Islamics, we will be forced eventually to racially profile and exclude arabs/muslims from our nation, just as the Israelis are doing with their wall. It's simple, and it works.

Posted by: MarkJ at September 22, 2004 02:26 PM

Sandy -- I'm not sure you'll be protected from whomever stole the SouthWest uniform. But at least you'll be protected against anything Cat Stevens might try to do to you. Who can guarantee that the TSA will be as vigilant under a President Kerry?

http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Entertainment/reuters20040922_327.html

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 22, 2004 02:27 PM

Excellent point Brad, I was waiting to see how long it would take someone to mention it here. The IDF (in conjunction with Mossad) has done an outstanding job of tearing up the infrastructure of terror, both in asassinating terrorist leaders, and destroying bomb factories, safe houses, etc. used by the terrorists in the first place.

The wall, by itself, is a passive defense, and while that has some value, it is only truly useful in conjunction with active offensive measures directed at the enemy's ability to strike. None of this gives me great joy (the fate of countless innocent palestineans trapped in the crossfire cannot help but tear at my heart), but I hardly see any real alternative. The arab states in the region, and the palestineans themselves have rejected any middle ground...they have sowed the wind, now they reap the whirlwind...

Posted by: Scott at September 22, 2004 02:28 PM

Mr. Sucher, I'm saying "resolve" right now. But I'm not going to go sign-up. Does that make me a coward? Maybe. Except for the fact I joined up 9 freaking years ago. My current enlistment ends in 2008. When it's over I'll be signing up again, and I'll be staying in until I retire.

You know what really pisses (first time posting here so I don't know what Mr. Totten's rules about profanity are, if I broke them with that, I apologize) me off is when someone says that someone is a "chickenhawk" because they don't join the military, even though they might support a military action. If there is one thing which is made clear to me day-after-day it is that the military isn't for everyone. Even people who volunteer aren't cut out to make it sometimes. It is a hard life. It is also one, everyone currently wearing the uniform chose to live. I'm not going to hold it against someone because they chose not to join. Just like I don't hold it against people who call for the status quo in horrible, murderous regiemes but have never visted the country they wish to condemn to a continued hell. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Heck, I even get a warm-and-fuzzy realizing that my service allows for you to hold and opinion I find stupid.

Oh, and on a related note, but very off-topic. Toby Keith is often derided as a chickenhawk because of his musical themes. He was too old to enlist. He would have been 40 when 9/11 happened. You currently can't be over 34 to enlist in any military service. So, just because someone supports OIF or the WOT, but doesn't enlist, it doens't mean they're a chickenhawk or unwilling. It might just be that they are legally unable to do so.

Posted by: SSG B at September 22, 2004 02:33 PM

The claims that all or most Jews embrace "tribal supremacism", or that such character is somehow unique to the Jewish people, is false and probably antisemitic. The claim that some or many do in fact adopt such an attitude is not. It is simply a fact, or at least an assertion based on observed reality.

Really, Markus?

The only thing in the way of such a move would be if the much-maligned Israeli peace movement reasserts itself, and a critical mass of the Jewish American community rejects fear and tribal supremacism in favor of hope and humane universalist values, and calls for a more fair solution.

It would seem to me that when you write that the Jewish American community must reject "tribal supremacism" in favor of something else, you're asserting they've already embraced "tribal supremacism". But hey, that's just me.

And to get back to my original observation, why choose to characterize a generalization about Jewish American attitudes towards Israel, the Palestinians, and the peace process as "tribal supremacism" in the first place? It is a loaded phrase...and you choose precisely because of what the 'load' is.

So, basically, what you're saying is that although most Jewish Americans aren't tribal supremacists and to characterize Jewish American as tribal supremacists is probably (your word) anti-semitic, peace in the Middle East isn't going to happen until Jewish Americans reject the tribal supremacism they don't actually embrace but obviously exists to an extent that it is hurting chances for peace, justice and universal understanding.

Right. Do you always think this clearly, or are you now channelling Chomsky?

I suppose we will next be treated to your analysis of why Jewish Americas don't got no natural rhythm?

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 22, 2004 02:37 PM

I'm not going to post under my own name, because it would seem to be bragging, but there were quite a few of us who tried to sign up after 9/11, and were told that, in my case, a diabetic in his late forties wasn't going to be taken on, regardless of his willingness.

Posted by: Sy Denim at September 22, 2004 02:39 PM

And what the Hell is "probably always" supposed to mean? Something along the lines of "fake but accurate"?

Are you channelling Dan Rather as well?

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 22, 2004 02:40 PM

Great thoughts! Thank you. The only piece I take issue with is:

"The last time the doom-mongers were right I was three."

I'm beginning to believe that they were wrong then too. In retrospect, the biggest mistake we made in Vietnam was leaving too early. The doom-mongers got the better of us at home. Can you imagine what would have happened if we would have actually allowed our military to fight over there? Maybe millions of Vietnamese wouldn't have been sentenced to life in a state prison.

Posted by: russ at September 22, 2004 02:48 PM

another factor that may be causing the abatement of suicide bomber is the lack of a $25000 award to the surviving family from Saddam.

Posted by: Burt at September 22, 2004 02:57 PM

Michael: Great post.

In my opinion, we are at war with Islamic Jihad. We can fight it on our own soil or in another country. Need you ask which I prefer?

If we fight this battle (Iraq) we stand a good chance of winning. If we don't fight, we definitely lose. Seems like a simple choice to me.

DTP: Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Lord Whorfin at September 22, 2004 03:00 PM

Russ:

Your comments regarding Vietnam are particularly appropriate.

The long 'discredited' Domino Theory has been found to be at least partially correct with the opening up of Eastern Bloc intelligence archives.

Nixon negotiated a peace treaty which included air support and material support to South Vietnam in the event of attack.

When the North invaded in 1975 the Democrats reneged on both these critical items. While the North was receiving four times the support it previously received from Russia and China the South was getting little. There were 65,000 tons of supplies in a southern harbor waiting to be unloaded and this was stopped by the US.

The war was won in the USA before the 1975 attack by the North, not on the battlefield.

People with the same we are wrong mindset are now seeking to win the the executive branch in November. God help us if this happens.

Posted by: davod at September 22, 2004 03:09 PM

Dennis --

The people that I was thinking about when I wrote tribal supremicism were the tens of thousands of Jewish Americans that I observed loudly jeering Paul Wolfowitz, of all people, forcing him to stop speaking, when he briefly acknowledged Palestinian suffering and the need for both sides to make concessions at the rally for Israel on the Washington Mall, April 2002. Maybe you were one of those people.

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/104/story_10434_1.html

Given the scale of the intifada and the suicide bombings at that time, I could understand a subdued or silent response to what Wolfy said. I cannot understand loud booing. It simply struck me as complete disregard for non-Jewish life. Understandable, particularly under the circumstance, but unjustified.

I don't have any idea how prevalent such sentiments are among Jewish Americans. I'm sure many are on the fence.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 22, 2004 03:17 PM

Yousef Islam (at least call him by his new name, not "Cat Stevens") is an islamic nutjob who wanted to kill Salman Rushdie and who paid tens of thousands of dollars to Hamas who used the money to blow up Americans and Jews in Israel.

The douchebag certainly should at least be deported -- better yet rotting in a cell.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at September 22, 2004 03:26 PM

I'm surprised people don't refute the "chicken hawk" argument with a very apt analogy that we can all relate to -- the police. All citizens employ the police to protect them from criminals. We expect the police to literally risk their lives. That is why they carry firearms. If one uses the banal "chickenhawk" argument then it would mean that no one is allowed to call on the police to save their child being held hostage by some criminal unless they first went and signed up for the police acadamy.

Posted by: JohnPV at September 22, 2004 03:27 PM

Could some one please explain why settlers are a problem? It is almost as if Arafat didn't want any Jews in his country.

'S matter? He prejudiced?

Posted by: M. Simon at September 22, 2004 03:29 PM

Markus Rose,

Who rises against me?

I shall kill him first.

More understandable?

Posted by: M. Simon at September 22, 2004 03:35 PM

This wall, as have all the other policies of Isreal which involve clamping down on the displaced Palestinians, will accomplish nothing. All I can see is a desperate people resorting to even more desperate measures. Find a way to remove the popular support for Hammas and you will end the terrorism. Until then I expect more of the same.

S&M

Posted by: S&M at September 22, 2004 03:38 PM

We didn't lose Nam, we gave up. We could lose Iraq the same way if we elect those who only want the title and the power and care only about America second to that.

Posted by: Gateswork at September 22, 2004 03:39 PM

I'm a starry-eyed idealist on a few narrow, specific, subjects.

One of them is the conduct of citizens of a republic in time of war. I believe that once the vote is cast, a reasonable period of time needs to pass before a faction declares defeat. Or that fascism rules the land. Or that anyone lied. Or that countries that ally with us are dupes, bought, or worse.

"Most of us who criticize America do so out of love, not hate."

I read this in your original post. Then your clarification. I still don't buy that line. Not at all. I think that people who get a stiffy criticizing America because they disagree with the policy they are not in support of have a fundamental blind spot in how things work in the real world. There is a duty attached to citizenship, and that duty is to suit up when a decsion is made to act. That's not fascism. That's called unity, or common cause, arising from compromise.

People like me want to see portions of the Islamic world invaded yesterday, specifically Iran and Saudi Arabia, with the employment of whatever force is necessary to accomplish that end. Further, I'd like to see armed intervention wherever we can locate a terrorist organization. That means if we call Syria on Monday and inform them we would like the following individuals now living under surveillance at this address in Damascus delivered to our custody, they have until Tuesday to do it. Or we'll come get them. I cannot speak for you, but I gather your solution to the problem before us is somewhere on the opposite side of the Bush Doctrine from me. That's great. It is our right to have differing opinions.

This isn't George Bush's war. Sorry to bust any balloons, but that label is incorrect. Lazy, too, but for the sake of brevity I'll let that part go. The actions taken against Afghanistan and Iraq, as national policy, were debated in congress and authorized by bipartisan majorities.
The same is true of Patriot, the establishment of the DHS, and all the other changes wrought on our security and diplomatic posture in response to the war on terror. All the money spent on this so far has come from legislatively approved budgets. Yes, Bush has lead us here - but we (collectively, using our mechanism of decision) have followed.

We have hundreds of thousands of uniformed troops, civilian contractors, government employees, and just plain citizens scattered around the world. Some are actively engaged in offensive operations. The vast majority of them - /US - are just trying to live out our lives and make our futures the best they can be. Each and every one of us is subject to death at the hands of Islamofascists; it's a question of probability, not of philosophy, diplomacy, or guilt. We are all targets. The primary function of our government is defense. Now that we are finally defednding ourselves, a minority has resolved that we aren't defending ourselves CORRECTLY...and so they don't see a responsibility to support the effort.

This is sort of like the "wrong kind of jobs" argument vis a vis the economic growth we've enjoyed, except that people aren't dying over the economy every day.

The enemy rejects our right to live in freedom. They reject our right to live, period. That's why we are engaged in the war we are in, and that's why we are in Iraq right now. We, via our elected representatives, chose a response and have been attempting to successfully implement it for the last three years.

The antiwar minority may not hate America. They may not even hate George Bush. What they do hate is not being in power. The emotion runs so deep it adversely affects their actions and thought processes. They compound their problems by scaring the hell out of citizens who otherwise might welcome some alternative suggestions.

I'd buy the contention they don't hate the terrorists, though. In a heartbeat. They don't have enough hate left over. Equating Bush to Hitler or spelling America with a K or blaming thirty years of political decline on not being as good at dirty tricks as the Republicans all smack of a profound lack of faith in or respect for the democratic process. I tend to believe what people tell me. The message I get from icons like Jimmy Carter, Terry McAullife, Kerry, and a boatload of other parasites (Moore, Kos, Streisand, et al.) of that stripe is that despite their party's patent failure to solve any domestic issue they ever embraced, a long standing tradition of disastrous foreign policy/defense agendas, and willingness to incite class or race envy at the drop of a hat, I'm a moron for questioning their fitness or worthiness for my trust or my vote.

We have put our troops in harm's way in order to counter a threat. We. Us. The People (yes, capitalized) spoke, and in a perfect world we'd put aside our personal conflicts and work hard to show our enemy that they were not long for this world, and more importantly, show our troops that they had our faith and confidence as they undertook the most unpleasant duty any person can be asked to do. That would be in a perfect world.

Bush isn't perfect. Not even close. There have been setbacks and mistakes and lost opportunities. When is life EVER perfect?

I have yet to see the presentation of a coherent, believable alternative to the current strategy to defeat terrorism on the part of the democrat minority. Kerry and his surrogates are all over the map on this. As the campaign progresses the positions and talking points shift so fast I don't have a clue what Kerry would or would not do...but I get the impression that he wants me to believe WHATEVER happens, he'll be more effective than Bush because he is liked by unnamed foreign leaders. Or because he's not Bush. I have no way to know. He says that diplomacy will work with Iran, while at the same time that Bush is criminal for letting North Korea become a nuclear power...which we all know was enabled by the last administration's...diplomacy.

Yah. Right. Whatever.

The enemy has been trained to embrace our lack of will to fight as a gospel truth. They are wrong; they have been learning just how wrong for three years and are frankly terrified (ha) of what four more years of the same will mean to them. The viciousness and scale of their attacks (worldwide) in these last two or three months tells me how they regard the current administration. They are investing much, much more than they can afford to lose...unless we choose leadership that will allow them grace to reorganize and recover. They hate us...but this operational pace is driven by desperation, not strategy.

I don't doubt that the first few years of a Kerry presidency might be largely terror-free...at least where it effected Americans. The enemy does know enough about our political alignments to know that given half a chance the left side of our political spectrum disarms, retracts, and refuses to confront. They desperately seek that succor now; were it not for our election cycle they wouldn't even be contesting Iraq in spite of the fact that allowing a popularly elected government to rise makes it that much harder for them to eventually bring it down.

Make no mistake about it: the war on terror will be won or lost in Baghdad. Won or lost in a way that will determine if Islam will continue to exist, I should say.

We can do the ambitious, tedious, liberal thing and kill only those who are actively trying to kill us while bringing light to the darkness. We have the wealth and the technology to do it. Or we can vacillate, temporize, and deny right up until we lose a few thousand more people, or a city, or entire populations in one shot.

Then the enemy will find out what terror is really about. I wonder if the look-away-in-shame left will feel badly about that?

They'll have meant well, of course Too bad for them that meme no longer survives in the market place. Too bad for the lives of our citizens spent avoiding the confrontation. Too bad for the Arabs, too...too late.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 22, 2004 03:41 PM

Ah I guess the "citizenly" thing to do, at least according to TMJ, is to conveniently ignore all the deception used as a means to go to war, ignore all the failed Iraq policies, ignore all the craptastic domestic policies being put in place and just add another US flag to my SUV's bumper and cheer the inmates on as they lead the assylum.

What the hell, God Bless America!

S&M

Posted by: S&M at September 22, 2004 03:52 PM

M. simon --
settlers are mainly a problem because they successfully seek to steal large portions of the 20% of the land west of the Jordan nominally set aside for the people who were there first, and who will soon make up a majority of the total population of that area (the land west of the Jordan). also, they're a problem because they oppose a peace settlement under ANY circumstances, and because they are politically powerful. Now, if they were willing to live with no special privileges under Arab majority rule (as the Jews of Hebron did "from time immemorial")...a lot of people would be less antagonistic toward them.

Regarding your 2nd comment, pre-emptive self-defense is of course justified. Antagonizing other so that pre-emptive self-defense is always necessary is not.

Posted by: Markus rose at September 22, 2004 04:01 PM

S&M -

You mean that regime change for Iraq was only a talking point when it was resolved in 1998?

You mean that the U.N., our intelligence agencies, most of the world's intelligence agencies, and a number of Hussein's own generals were lying and not misled when they asserted that Iraq possessed WMD?

What's failed in Iraq? Hussein is gone. There will be elections in January. Reconstruction is happening without interruption in almost the entire country outside of the Sunni triangle and select portions of Baghdad. Libya is going legit. Pakistan isn't the terror world's minimart of nuclear technology any more.

Domestic policies? Like prescription drug benefits that inject market forces into the mix? Or the education bill that Ted Kennedy wrote half of? The tax cuts that soft-bottomed the tech collapse/9/11 recession? Those policies?

Or maybe you think that the fact we've had no more 9/11's is just happy chance?

We could have a reasonable debate about better ways to go about defending ourselves. We could. Unfortunately the handflapping, spittle flecked, screeching mob that has become the anti-war/Bush/America movement started off the blocks in that handflapping, spittle flecked, screeching state before the smoke had even cleared over Manhattan.

Some even got a headstart in Florida.

Everytime I here somebody declare defeat in Iraq, I wait with bated breath for their analysis on how Kosovo worked out with all the multilateral cooperation, nuance, and such, and it just never happens.

No elections. No semblence of local government. No end in sight. If the Iraqis ever thank us for anything, they should thank us for not shuffling them off as just another U.N. babysitting disaster.

Go figger.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 22, 2004 04:13 PM

PIMF -

Should have been "Every time I HEAR somebody..."

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 22, 2004 04:15 PM

If we leave Iraq before the Iraqis are capable of asserting themselves against the terrorists there, how long will it be before Iraq becomes another Afganistanlike training base only with oil?

John Kerry has already decreed that we have been there too long, he can hardly wait to cut and run. We don't just lose Iraq if we pull out, we setback the WOT for a generation or more.

I look at Iraq like Iwo Jima in WWII. 6000 Marines sacrificed their lives in 32 days so that we would have a forward base from which to attack our enemy. The Japanese lost 23,000 men. Our kill ratio in Iraq is much higher. Iraq is just a forward base in the WOT, and we have to secure it.

Posted by: EddieP at September 22, 2004 05:03 PM

TMJ, Well said!

S&M, Try reading (and more importantly, comprehending) TMJ's post again without your "Bush lied" blinders on please!

Posted by: harp at September 22, 2004 05:07 PM

A minor point of contention, we didn't lose the war in Vietnam, we gave up.

Posted by: Mike H. at September 22, 2004 05:30 PM

Wow Michael. Both a Instalanche and a link from BelmontClub. What a day you're having!

Posted by: jdwill at September 22, 2004 05:42 PM

Ironically, it was the naysayers who lost Vietnam - self-fulfilling prophets.

Posted by: VRWC at September 22, 2004 05:42 PM

Congratulations are in order for Mr. Totten's announcement that the Second Intifada is over.

During his victory lap, did he manage to tell these women?

9/22/04: Woman Palestinian Suicide Bomber Kills Two Israeli Police In Jerusalem

That would be today, you flaming ignoramus. Do your victory lap in your own fantasy world, and stop plaguing reality with your fascist lies.

Fascist, ignoramus slut.

Posted by: Josh Narins at September 22, 2004 05:42 PM

I'm just assuming everyone brushed off MarkJ's comment as the obvious racism it is... "the Arabs all have testosterone poisoning"... HUH? It's not a physiological problem, it's Islam, and the sooner we're honest about it the better. For starters, let's stop calling it a "religion."

Thanks for a fascinating discussion.

Posted by: ekg at September 22, 2004 05:46 PM

I'm just assuming everyone brushed off MarkJ's comment as the obvious racism it is... "the Arabs all have testosterone poisoning"... HUH? It's not a physiological problem, it's Islam, and the sooner we're honest about it the better. For starters, let's stop calling it a "religion."

Thanks for a fascinating discussion.

Posted by: ekg at September 22, 2004 05:46 PM

To SSG B
There are many of us who would have signed up after 9/11... but we are past 34.
Plenty of those people have drastically changed the direction of their lives since that time....looking to make a difference in the world, educating themselves about history and culture, instead of just being placid consumers.
In high school, we would debate whether we would have killed Hitler ourselves, given the chance. At this moment in history, I would strap on a bomb if my country asked it of me and shake hands with Bin Laden if it would shorten the war and save my nieces and nephews as well as all the people unknown to me. I admire and envy the people in the military because I feel so useless. I'm embarrassed to say it takes all of my courage to get on a plane to visit family in New York.
When you say people are entitled to their opinions.....I find too many people in my daily life take their opinion straight from the MSM...if they even bother to declare an opinion because they are so busy with Survivor shows ( can you believe the garbage on TV?) I don't get that warm and fuzzy feeling that you do. I want to stick my hand down their throats to my elbow, take a hold and PULL.
Makes it hard for a gal to find a decent date. Maybe there should be a personals site at LGF.

Anyway, I salute you.

Posted by: Nenu at September 22, 2004 05:47 PM

"A minor point of contention, we didn't lose the war in Vietnam, we gave up."

Too true. Then we quietly abandoned the South Vietnamese, enabling the North to overrun them in a manner reminiscent of JJJjjjjjjenghis Khhhhan...

Sorry. Couldn't help but channel a little outrage there.

The congress (what party owned that branch? What? Who?) got tired of watching the embarassing TV stories and abandoned them. Abandoned - failed to honor the commitment we had made to arm and supply them as we tucked our tails and ran. Ford was helpless; he was in the middle of trying to restore the presidency.

When people make the charge that America is feckless and not to be counted on, that's the day they should point at. I put our encouragement of the Kurds and Shiites to rebel in Iraq in '91 in the same ballpark, too. We tend to underestimate the power of evil. It is not enough to smack it down thoroughly. It must be destroyed.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 22, 2004 05:54 PM

You could have predicted that trend would keep rising indefinitely. And yet it did not. The reason it didn’t is because Israelis fumbled around until they found a strategy that actually worked. Then they implemented it. Now the intifada is over.

I'm not sure if Isreal really fumbled around. I think it was a matter of resolve, Isreal knew they had to kill the leadership of the Intafada.

Sharon knew beating the Arab/Palestinian leadership down would lead to horrible press worldwide, but X amount of suicide bombing cemented the resolve to finish off the military aspect Vs. the Arafat led Intifada. The same resolve led to the social aspect of the Isrealis war against Arafat and his corrupt regime/henchmen, which was to build a partition.

Also the war in Iraq has worked like a magnet attracting militaristic Arabs away from Palestine.

Posted by: 13times at September 22, 2004 05:58 PM

Markus,

the much-maligned Israeli peace movement reasserts itself

That movement is rightfully maligned. They prevented Israel from crushing the intifada at its inception in 2000. Thousands of people, both Israeli and Palestinian, have been slaughtered as a direct result of the Israeli so-called "peace" movement. If the "peace" movement "reasserts" itself, the killing will resume.

They aren't a "peace" movement, they are a death movement. The same holds true for the domestic "peace" movement. As Glenn Reynolds says, they're not for peace, they're for the other side.

Posted by: HA at September 22, 2004 06:00 PM

Yep, I guess I'm pretty unenlightened and unsophisticated (read:liberal=delusional)... I'm with TmjUtah on this. Our country is comprised of individuals, but as policy we cannot act as individuals, lest we be France. S&M, please read history, not Paul Krugman and Molly Ivins. I suggest "The Apeasers" by Martin Gilbert & Richard Gott. There is a long-view that exists beyond the next News cycle or election. On 9-11, I remember well sitting at work, listening as this was going on, feeling helpless and inadequate; feeling that the work and effort I was making in my life were so insignificant in the face of what was happening. We cannot enjoy (if that's the right word) partisan snipping, armchair quarterbacking and mental masterbation if our society that secures these dubious ambitions is destroyed. THAT is what is at stake, deny it at your own peril. On 9-11 I told a co-worker "That's it! This shit has to stop!" (It might also be instructive to read history on the construction of the Panama Canal... the first step in the successful completion of the task was to drain the swamps and kill the mosquitos).
That's what I trust George Bush's leadership to accomplish. All the rest of the political nonsense and posturing going on doesn't mean a thing to me. There is no other issue at stake.
Call me crazy, but do you want to look 50 years down the road to an Islamicist planet? That would only set humankind back 1000 years.

Posted by: mistercalm at September 22, 2004 06:26 PM

Readers, please note Commenter Nenu would willingly become a suicide bomber. Weird how most of you think that makes your compatriot a terrorist, instead of understanding that he simply hopes his reckless and vain act would fix things.

What was a good end game in Viet Nam? Continuing the French Colonial Government? Would Viet Nam be the only Colonial Government on Earth today, if only FDR had sent in Stedman? Perhaps if Truman or Ike had pushed harder?

HA, what force on Earth has really stopped Israel from extra-judicial killings, i.e. assassination.

Do you support the US gov't running around and using helicopter gunships to assassinate suspected criminals?

Posted by: Josh Narins at September 22, 2004 06:27 PM

MJT,

You've been labelled a fascist! Welcome to my world. And not just an every day fascist, but a "Fascist, ignoramus slut."

Congratulations!That's a sure sign that your article was a bulls-eye. The louder they scream, the "righter" you are!

Posted by: HA at September 22, 2004 06:28 PM

Basically a good article, but a few of the major facts are wrong.

The reason America always seems to "start from behind" is because we generally DON'T start wars... we respond to attacks on us by opening up our superpower-sized can of whup ass (sometimes it takes a while to get that can open). It's hard to look effective when, say, you're reeling after having your Pacific Fleet sunk at anchor and most of your Asian bases captured. Americans have historically disliked large standing armies, so the guy who gets the punch off first knows he's going to be in a fight and prepares for it. But what good is the world's best military if you're STILL going to wait for the punch? The best way to win a fight is to counterpunch before the first punch lands. Enter the policy of preemption.

We didn't lose Vietnam militarily. We lost it strategically. EVERY company-sized or larger battle that we fought in Vietnam was won by the US... and crushing casualties were inflicted on the Vietcong and NVA. After 1968 the VC basically ceased to exist -- we had killed 'em all. The war morphed from fighting guerrillas inside major SVN cities in 1965 to engaging in pitched battles against large numbers of NVA troops on the borders of SVN by 1972. The only reason we lost in Vietnam was because the US failed to live up to its obligations to SVN under the '72 Paris peace accords. NVN was still receiving massive Soviet and Chinese aid after we left Vietnam, yet the Democratically-controlled Congress cut SVN completely off.

The reason I point this out is because THIS IS THE EXACT 'STRATEGY' THAT TODAY'S DEMOCRATS WANT TO USE IN IRAQ! These idiots (including Kerry!) haven't learned the TRUE lesson of Vietnam: if you're going to fight a war, then fight it to the fullest. When Dems talk about how they're concerned about the rising number of casualties (they 'support the troops' after all... sheesh!) the enemy sits up and listens, and concludes that while they can't win tactically, they CAN kill more Americans and thus increase political pressure from Dems at home to cut and run. This is what is meant -- their actions are effectively encouraging our enemies to kill more Americans in order to increase political pressure at home -- when the Dems are accused of undercutting US strategy and aiding the enemy.

In just about every war in recorded history, the fiercest fighting (and the most casualties) happened just before the 'tipping point' where victory swung decisively to one side or the other. The US Civil War saw 50,000 casualties in two days at Gettysburg, and the Confederacy's back was broken. The German offensive of 1918 bled the French Army to the breaking point (French soldiers mutinied in the trenches), yet the offensive so weakened the Germans that they soon collapsed resulting in the Allied breakout from the trenches and into Germany. The Battle of the Bulge was the fiercest fighting on the Western Front in WWII with tens of thousands of US casualties... and the Nazis collapsed afterwards having shot their bolt. Again, in Vietnam, the '68 Tet Offensive shocked the liberal naysayers (like Walter Cronkite, who declared the war was unwinnable), yet the Viet Cong was effectively wiped out (we won the war here, but blew it by not hammering on NVN the way we did in 1972 when Nixon quit the pussyfooting around and bombed the snot out of 'em).

We've won militarily (tactically) in Iraq, but our strategic success is still not assured. The way to assure it -- the way to win -- is to use a combination of the carrot and the stick. We need to get the average Iraqi on our side so that the fighters run out of sanctuary. We're doing this and getting good results in places like Najaf and Samarrah, and from what I've read lately the Fallujians are getting tired of the fighters also. We also need to hunt down and mercilessly kill the fighters, including al-Zarquari and al-Sadr. I believe the Bush administration realizes this and is pursuing this strategy... and win or lose WILL hammer the crap out of the insurgency after the November election and have the Iraq problem largely solved by January.

In short, the only way to victory is to convince your enemy that he can no longer prevail. We beat the Japanese and they were much more fanatical, committed, and brave than our opposition in Iraq. We'll win the war on terrorism too, if we just keep our courage up, and kill enough of them to make them realize that they can't win... they can only die.

Stout hearts, fellows!

Posted by: John Cliffird at September 22, 2004 06:29 PM

Readers, please note Commenter Nenu would willingly become a suicide bomber. Weird how most of you think that makes your compatriot a terrorist, instead of understanding that he simply hopes his reckless and vain act would fix things.

What was a good end game in Viet Nam? Continuing the French Colonial Government? Would Viet Nam be the only Colonial Government on Earth today, if only FDR had sent in Stedman? Perhaps if Truman or Ike had pushed harder?

HA, what force on Earth has really stopped Israel from extra-judicial killings, i.e. assassination.

Do you support the US gov't running around and using helicopter gunships to assassinate suspected criminals?

Posted by: Josh Narins at September 22, 2004 06:30 PM

Basically a good article, but a few of the major facts are wrong.

The reason America always seems to "start from behind" is because we generally DON'T start wars... we respond to attacks on us by opening up our superpower-sized can of whup ass (sometimes it takes a while to get that can open). It's hard to look effective when, say, you're reeling after having your Pacific Fleet sunk at anchor and most of your Asian bases captured. Americans have historically disliked large standing armies, so the guy who gets the punch off first knows he's going to be in a fight and prepares for it. But what good is the world's best military if you're STILL going to wait for the punch? The best way to win a fight is to counterpunch before the first punch lands. Enter the policy of preemption.

We didn't lose Vietnam militarily. We lost it strategically. EVERY company-sized or larger battle that we fought in Vietnam was won by the US... and crushing casualties were inflicted on the Vietcong and NVA. After 1968 the VC basically ceased to exist -- we had killed 'em all. The war morphed from fighting guerrillas inside major SVN cities in 1965 to engaging in pitched battles against large numbers of NVA troops on the borders of SVN by 1972. The only reason we lost in Vietnam was because the US failed to live up to its obligations to SVN under the '72 Paris peace accords. NVN was still receiving massive Soviet and Chinese aid after we left Vietnam, yet the Democratically-controlled Congress cut SVN completely off.

The reason I point this out is because THIS IS THE EXACT 'STRATEGY' THAT TODAY'S DEMOCRATS WANT TO USE IN IRAQ! These idiots (including Kerry!) haven't learned the TRUE lesson of Vietnam: if you're going to fight a war, then fight it to the fullest. When Dems talk about how they're concerned about the rising number of casualties (they 'support the troops' after all... sheesh!) the enemy sits up and listens, and concludes that while they can't win tactically, they CAN kill more Americans and thus increase political pressure from Dems at home to cut and run. This is what is meant -- their actions are effectively encouraging our enemies to kill more Americans in order to increase political pressure at home -- when the Dems are accused of undercutting US strategy and aiding the enemy.

In just about every war in recorded history, the fiercest fighting (and the most casualties) happened just before the 'tipping point' where victory swung decisively to one side or the other. The US Civil War saw 50,000 casualties in two days at Gettysburg, and the Confederacy's back was broken. The German offensive of 1918 bled the French Army to the breaking point (French soldiers mutinied in the trenches), yet the offensive so weakened the Germans that they soon collapsed resulting in the Allied breakout from the trenches and into Germany. The Battle of the Bulge was the fiercest fighting on the Western Front in WWII with tens of thousands of US casualties... and the Nazis collapsed afterwards having shot their bolt. Again, in Vietnam, the '68 Tet Offensive shocked the liberal naysayers (like Walter Cronkite, who declared the war was unwinnable), yet the Viet Cong was effectively wiped out (we won the war here, but blew it by not hammering on NVN the way we did in 1972 when Nixon quit the pussyfooting around and bombed the snot out of 'em).

We've won militarily (tactically) in Iraq, but our strategic success is still not assured. The way to assure it -- the way to win -- is to use a combination of the carrot and the stick. We need to get the average Iraqi on our side so that the fighters run out of sanctuary. We're doing this and getting good results in places like Najaf and Samarrah, and from what I've read lately the Fallujians are getting tired of the fighters also. We also need to hunt down and mercilessly kill the fighters, including al-Zarquari and al-Sadr. I believe the Bush administration realizes this and is pursuing this strategy... and win or lose WILL hammer the crap out of the insurgency after the November election and have the Iraq problem largely solved by January.

In short, the only way to victory is to convince your enemy that he can no longer prevail. We beat the Japanese and they were much more fanatical, committed, and brave than our opposition in Iraq. We'll win the war on terrorism too, if we just keep our courage up, and kill enough of them to make them realize that they can't win... they can only die.

Stout hearts, fellows!

Posted by: John Clifford at September 22, 2004 06:45 PM

MJT,

You've been labelled a fascist! Welcome to my world. And not just an every day fascist, but a "Fascist, ignoramus slut."

Congratulations!That's a sure sign that your article was a bulls-eye. The louder they scream, the "righter" you are!

Posted by: HA at September 22, 2004 06:46 PM

Josh Narins,

Do you support the US gov't running around and using helicopter gunships to assassinate suspected criminals?

I support Israel in killing terrorists. Yassin, Rantizi and the rest of the savages got the justice they deserved. Good riddance. I wish they would blow away Arafat too.

Let the rest of them rot behind their wall for dancing in the streets on 9/11.

Posted by: HA at September 22, 2004 07:01 PM

Well, HA (completely anonymous tool), perhaps you could point to some other source than Mr. Totten to say that the Second Intifada is over?

Perhaps the Beer Sheba bombings less than two weeks ago, or the ladies who blew themselves up in Jerusalem today, indicate that Mr. Totten's claims are actually patently_false?

I believe a fascist government is aggressive, hyper-nationalist, and in the pocket of big business. I believe our government has tended fascist numerous times before. The Spanish-American War+Banana Republic Wars(Republicans+Wilson), and the Mexican-American War(Polk, criticized at the time by Lincoln) are examples.

Do you know who Schlumberger is? Before 1999, the biggest three oil-services firms were Enron, Halliburton and Schlumberger. I just thought, since Enron is gone, and Halliburton got 7 billion dollars to put out oil fires, although the combined total days of experience all of its employees had putting out oil fires in Iraq+Kuwait was zero, you might want to know who will be left (if there is any justice, I meant).

The Bush administration, who is knee-deep in the Israeli situation (i.e. can't run from it), accused of being "Christian Zionist" and an Oilocracy, is, in my mind, another incarnation of big business taking advantage of the complacent public.

Mr. Totten is a great supporter of these people. I call him fascist because of that. I call him ignorant, because the Second Intifada has not ended. I call him a slut because he does it for free. I'm sure he gets paid to spew like this, also, which is why I call him other things on my blog.

Posted by: Josh Narins at September 22, 2004 07:06 PM

>>>"Do you support the US gov't running around and using helicopter gunships to assassinate suspected criminals?"

Josh,

"suspected" criminals?

Try KNOWN TERRORISTS.

And the answer is yes I do.

Posted by: David at September 22, 2004 07:07 PM

Iraq looks like a classical case of "offense by defense." Instead of assaulting your enemies strongholds, you can establish a position that they cannot allow you to hold, and let them attack you there. Iraq is attracting islamist atttacks because they cannot let it become a secular democracy -- or even anything close. If they did not have to fight there, they could use their resources to attack here. Yes, the armed forces are taking casualties. Much as we dislike the idea, that is part of the job description. In Iraq it is possible for them to take the casualties in the course of doing their job. If the battle were moved to America, there is not effective way for them to interpose their bodies between the islamists and us. The battle is better joined on foreign soil. And we need Iraq for the same reason that the islamists need to deny it to us. It is an incursion into their territroy which threatens their existance.

Posted by: raf at September 22, 2004 07:07 PM

David, you are incorrect. There are some "known terrorists" on the Israeli assassination list, but many of them have been convicted of nothing.

In America, people are innocent until proven guilty.

In Israel, the "proven guilty" step is skipped, and the death penalty is applied.

Posted by: Josh Narins at September 22, 2004 07:12 PM

Josh Narins,

Stop it. You're cracking me up. Do you stand on street corners wearing placards and raving at pedestrians?

Posted by: HA at September 22, 2004 07:13 PM

Michael -

Homeboy! Fascist, eh? Next thing you know, you'll be called a Republican.

We won't let your neighbors know, promise...*ducks*...

Way, way back upthread Oberon quoted Rumsfeld about how we will win this war.

I introduce Japan and Germany as evidence for Rumsfeld's case. One out of two isn't bad.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 22, 2004 07:19 PM

Josh Narris is banned. Calling me a "fascist ignoramus slut" is a poor way to introduce yourself.

Goodbye, Josh.

I've had 16,000 people on this site so far today. (Thanks, Glenn.) I guess it's not possible to have so many in the room without having to babysit.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 22, 2004 07:38 PM

Sigh.

Looks like MarkJ is gone, too. You get banned for being a racist in here. And, yes, anti-Arab racism counts.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 22, 2004 07:42 PM

TMJUtah,

Your long post upthread was superb. Thanks.

As to those who say victory cannot be claimed until no murderous pschyos have blown themselves up next to children for a full decade, and then only tentatively, and who refuse to see a positive trend line, and to hail it as a great thing, be careful what you wish for, maybe Israel will start to actually lose, and then they will be forced to choose between their own people being genocided and doing it to someone else.

Posted by: Tadeusz at September 22, 2004 08:30 PM

Every time you back out of an unfinished war at the behest of the naysayers who claim war is inconclusive, you give them another example. Chicken, egg, chicken, egg...

Posted by: VRWC at September 22, 2004 08:40 PM

MJT, great post. Thanks.

It's good to hear that some commonsense still occasionally emanates from TNR.

Some of your critics in this thread seem to be confusing "end of the Intifada" with "end of terrorism". Declaring the end of a particular campaign is not the same as declaring the end of the war.

Posted by: Asher Abrams at September 22, 2004 08:52 PM

Fight To Win

The security situation in Iraq is the major obstacle to expediting the positive seeds of change planted since the war began. As you point out, "war is a series of catastrophes that ends in victory." This is certainly so in Iraq.

The US and British led coalition are clearly superior in military terms. The question then is why does this situation exist? There are several major factors.

First, the terrorists are desperate and know that stability means they have lost. Desperate people do desperate things. (I use the term terrorist because who else kills their fellow Iraqis, or beheads innocent contractors, truck drivers and now two Italian women engaged in relief work.)

Second, we have once again politicized the rules of engagement to our complete disadvantage. For example, Fallujah is off limits. Or al-Sadr and others hide out in mosques knowing that we do not want to be seen as attacking Islam.

The solution is apparent. The Iraqis demand the right to govern themselves. We should and do state that we agree. However, in order for this to happen, all aid and comfort that is being provided to the terrorists must cease. You are either with us or against us.

Let's take Fallujah as an example. The message is, if you want to govern yourselves, you have five days to expel all terrorists from the city. If you do not and guerilla attacks continue, then we reserve the options of entering the city, blowing up portions or all of the city if necessary. The consequences are borne by the citizens of Fallujah. Welcome to self governance.

If the terrorists occupy a mosque, it should be surrounded so that no food or water is allowed into the terrorists. They will come out soon enough. (If we blew up a mosque or two, the terrorists would probably stop trying to hide in them, but that may be a bit aggressive.)

The terrorists only respect strength. Do you think you can negotiate with those who kill innocent men, women and children in Iraq, who kill innocent people in Spain and who killed innocent people on 9-11?

We are in Iraq now for better or for worse and whether or not we as individuals supported this war. We have a chance to change the outcome of history by bringing peace, stability and some sort of elected government to Iraq and the Middle East. I believe in freedom. My hope is that once the Iraqi experience freedom, nothing will ever turn them back.

Be resolute. We cannot afford to lose now. The consequences would be far worse then the dangers faced today.

Posted by: BDB at September 22, 2004 09:40 PM

"If the terrorists occupy a mosque, it should be surrounded so that no food or water is allowed into the terrorists. They will come out soon enough. (If we blew up a mosque or two, the terrorists would probably stop trying to hide in them, but that may be a bit aggressive.)"

We need to declare that a "holy site" that has weapons stored in it by the adherants of its religion or said adherants shooting weapons from it is "desecrated" and therefore no longer a "holy site" and not subject to any protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Posted by: Jonathan Swift at September 22, 2004 11:06 PM

Jonathan: people like you have the theory, and Bush has the practice. It's called genocide. We're on the slippery slope. You are advocating the mass murder of civilians. Just as bad as agent organge, carpet bombing Hanoi, napalming civilians: all activites integral to the Vietnam War which killed a million civilians, and which people here defend. This is a creepy site, indeed.

Posted by: Jono at September 22, 2004 11:40 PM

Jono,

I don't think we should blow up mosques either. But shooting at an armed enemy combatant is not genocide. You are cheapening the meaning of that word and I think you know it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 22, 2004 11:55 PM

TMJ:

Nice try. Most of the intelligence was of the "we're not sure if he disposed of all his weapons" nature. Further inspections turned up nothing. Certainly there was no evidence that he was planning on attacking America or arming Al-Qaida with nukes/whatever. Remember those claims? How about Mr. Chalabi (remember him?), our "reliable" source?

Well forgive me for missing all the news reports on how the middle east is suddenly a hotbed of stability thanks to our war in Iraq, or I missed the memo.

If you want to call yet another failed exercise in "voodoo" economics as a success, then I guess you can also call the drug company prescription health plan (with no price controls! no wait, you called it "free market forces", sorry) a shining example of social medecine. While I'm sure Bill Gates is happy with his capital gains tax cut, I'm not so sure he went out shopping as a result. Its amazing, somewhere down the line the conservatives threw out the whole small goverment idea out the window and decided to support whoever the Republican party throws at them. Welcome to insolvent big government!

What is up with lumping people who think the war in Iraq was a) wrong and b) stupid into the ani-war bin? And when did becoming anti-war signify you were anti-American? Have we Americans suddenly become Vikings? Sorry Charlie, thats way to broad a brush. You didn't hear too many people protesting the invasion of Afgstn. I'd be all for intervening in Sudan but thats not likely as unlike Iraq, genocide is actually happening there.

We could indeed have a reasonable debate about where foreign intervention would be most useful for our national security. Good luck making a case for Iraq.

It is of course too early to declare anything much concerning Iraq (other than Saddam didn't turn out to be much of a threat), but if history is any indication, I don't have much hope for a quality ending. Ask the British.

I'll end with this:

If Bush hadn't invaded Iraq, would you all be sitting here criticizing him for it?

S&M

Posted by: s&m at September 23, 2004 12:09 AM

S&M: Well forgive me for missing all the news reports on how the middle east is suddenly a hotbed of stability thanks to our war in Iraq, or I missed the memo.

Why would you want the Middle East to be a hotbed of stability? I'm asking a serious question. The entire region is ruled by kings, religious fanatics, and military generals. The rotten and corrupt system currently in place produced the attacks on September 11. I, for one, do not want that situation to be stabilized.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 23, 2004 12:32 AM

Goes to prove, AGAIN, that FRANCE AND FRENCH PLANNING FAILED THE MAGINOT LINE, NOT THE MAGINOT LINE FAILED FRANCE - possessing the world's best tanks, planes, and ships isn't gonna mean anything if your General Staffs don't know how to employ them, your men don't know how to use them, or your economy can't produce the numbers your Army needs for the duration of combat/war.

Posted by: JosephMendiola at September 23, 2004 12:46 AM

Markus Rose said:
:Settlers are mainly a problem because they successfully seek to steal large portions of the 20% of the land west of the Jordan nominally set aside for the people who were there first, and who will soon make up a majority of the total population of that area (the land west of the Jordan).:
Nonsense. I'm one of them. I live on a hilltop overlooking the Jordan valley. It wasn't stolen from anyone, as a matter of fact it was taken in a defensive war, so legally it belongs to the State of Israel according to international law. Besides the fact, that there isn't another soul for 10km in any direction. No one was displaced. Nada, zip. The vast majority of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria are such. There are a few which aren't. But these, like the Jewish presence in Hebron, were Jewish communities for hundreds if not thousands of years and only recently were taken over my Arabs. (There was a thriving Jewish community in Hebron until 1939 when Arab rioting and wanton slaughter of innocents prompted the British mandatory government to evacuate the Jews for their own saftey. At which point the synagogues were turned into animal pens, but who's counting.) As for who was there first? Certainly not the current Arab residents. There wasn't anyone living on the land for a thousand years prior to Jews coming to Israel en masse in the 1800s. A few nomadic groups here and there, but come on, we're not talking Manhattan here.

: also, they're a problem because they oppose a peace settlement under ANY circumstances, and because they are politically powerful. Now, if they were willing to live with no special privileges under Arab majority rule (as the Jews of Hebron did "from time immemorial")...a lot of people would be less antagonistic toward them.:

We oppose a 'peace settlement' under ANY circumstances because, until proven otherwise, are somewhat sceptical about the Arab's willingness to uphold any agreements signed. Point in fact, absolutely none of the terms agreed upon in the Oslo accords has been faithfully fullfiled by the PA. As far as Jews living under Arab rule, the Hebron example is an excellent one. See above. Slaughter, Rape, Pillage. That has been the lot of Jews under foriegn rule. (America and Australia exempted...)

Posted by: Kin at September 23, 2004 01:35 AM

"HA, what force on Earth has really stopped Israel from extra-judicial killings, i.e. assassination."

What, exactly, are judicial killings outside of executions and military engagements? Although assassination is illegal by Presidential directive in the US, Israel--and Britain--do not have such hindrances on their defense activities.

As to war, some posts above suggest that Grenada or Somalia fall into this category. Aside from the legal requirements vis-a-vis Congressional Declarations, let us suggest that US military involvement in an action, battle, engagement, or other form of hostile encounter must involve forces equal to or exceeding two Army divisions before we term it a war.

This eliminates Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, and other such encounters from consideration.

Our military uses terms such as Low Intensity Conflict, Counter-insurgency Operatiions, Stability Operations, and Foreign Internal Defense to describe the type of actions we now undertake in Iraq. They are used to differentiate the nature of the enemy along with the level of engagement typically encountered during the conduct of such operations from the all-encompassing, WWII-style, major combat operations most lay people associate with the term "war".

Make no mistake, however, the level of intensity experienced by the individual soldier in a firefight of even modest proportions is no different from what our WWII vets experienced in Normandy on June 6th, 1944. To him it is "war" regardless of the strategic level of engagement.

Also, on the terms guerrilla and terrorist. Although some use them interchangeably, there are stark differences between the two.

A guerrilla fights a national government to effect change. The guerrilla requires the support of the indigenous population and, therefore, must curry favor among at least some citizens to acquire food, medicine, and other items necessary to their success. They target military or official targets and do their best to avoid civilian casualties which would erode their base of support.

Although the terrorist may use some tactics and techniques that resemble those of a guerrilla, they ultimately target civilians--often indiscriminately--in order to force the terrorized populace to effect by proxie the governmental changes that the terrorists desire. They often operate in small independent cells to minimize their 'footprint' and to avoid exposing the entire organization should any single member be captured. They do not enjoy the support of the populace.

The VIet Cong forced rural peasants into their ranks and forced villages to provide material support to their activities. They used forceful indoctrination to acquire converts to their cause.

The Islamic terrorists use religion as their indoctrination. While it is not physically wrought on its adherents like the Viet Cong/Khmer Rouge model, it is no less effective by capturing its target audience during their formative years. Both groups call themselves 'revolutionary', but actually use terror techniques to accomplish their goals.

We have fought these types of actions before. In the four or so years following the end of WWII, German insurgents called Werewolves used unconventional tactics to prevent the post-war reconstruction and oust occupation forces. A large portion of the Vietnam conflict was conducted against the guerrilla-terrorist Viet Cong--an evolution from the Viet Minh that plagued the colonial French. The US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) were created for just such an environment and excel at both sides of the insurgency coin--that is to say training guerrillas and defeating insurgencies. An interesting aside is that the founder of Special Forces, Colonel Aaron Bank, shared a car with Ho Chi Minh while traveling across Indochina as an OSS agent in 1945. Col. Bank recommended in a report following his time with Minh that the US should engage and support Minh following the cessation of hostilities in WWII or we may face him as opponents in a future time. Apparently, Minh wasn't a zealot regarding Marxism--he merely drew his support where he could find it. We didn't get involved and force the French to cede their colony to the locals, so he found allies who were willing to provide support for his cause.

One of the techniques used by Special Forces in the Vietnamese hinterlands was to move all friendly tribesmembers (the mountain tribes, mind you) from a specific area into a centralized, fortified encampment. This denied the enemy guerrilla/terrorists the support of a distributed slave labor force and allowed the Special Forces advisors and their counterparts to efficiently defend the civilians in their charge. It was very effective and presents a viable option in Iraq. The challenge in Iraq may be finding friendly Baathist/Sunnis--however, moving all of the problem populations about halfway to the Syrian border and concentrating them in cantonments far removed from the urban areas will greatly simplify the pacification of areas like Fallujah and Greater Baghdad.

The present Israeli approach is similar in that the wall will prevent easy and uncontrolled transit of the area by terrorists which will allow Israel to concentrate its resources on those attackers that are most determined to do harm. It's the lock paradigm--although there is no such thing as a perfect lock, they still stop lazy thieves.

Outlasting terrorists/insurgents is the only effective approach for a successful outcome. Sounds simple. All tests of willpower do--the ultimate victor is the one that 'wants it more'.

As to casualties, until we hit 2,976 we shouldn't publicize them. That's the number of unsuspecting victims that died on 9/11. Actually, I don't consider the attacks on 9/11 an unqualified success for the terrorists. Had the Twin Towers been full and the planes impacted closer to the ground we could have lost 50,000 people in NYC alone. If the entire Pentagon was lost--20,000 more. The area struck in Washington wasn't even fully occupied. We lost 58,245 in Vietnam. We could've lost more on 9/11--one single day--than our entire involvement in Vietnam. That, folks, is in the realm of weapons of mass destruction. That was the terrorists' intent and we should approach this endeavor based on replying to their intent.

As for justification to invade Iraq check this article about Abu Nidal's presence in Baghdad: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/08/25/wnidal25.xml

As for liberating Iraq, those who question our reasons for going there need look no further than Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against his Kurdish citizens as an example of genocide.

And as to genocide, if one group or people targets another purely based on homogenous religious belief or ethnicity, that is genocide. If the general civilian populace of a region or country willing supports such a campaign, a la the Yugoslavian Serbs in their rabid and widespread support of Milosevic's Kosovo policy or the Palestinians support of the anti-Semite Intifada, then targeting that group of people is justified as a means of breaking the will of those who would commit genocide. In the case of Iraq and Saddam Hussein, the Sunni/Baathist minority oppressed the Shi'ite and Kurdish groups brutally and a widespread response against the country as a whole was unwarranted. However, the fact that Saddam used chemical weapons as a tool of genocide against Kurdish Iraqis and Iranian troops, the firing of Scud missiles into Israel during Guld War I, and his demands that Abu Nidal train al Qaeda fighters in Iraq are all the justification needed for our invasion.

More importantly, we now have a centralized base of operations for engagements against the Syrians, Iranians, and any other potential targets in the Middle East. We can more effectively cut the overland supply lines to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel from Iran. We also now have alternate sites for an ongoing military presence in the region given the deterioration of the political climate in Saudi Arabia.

The geopolitical (geotheological?) situation in Iraq will be the ultimate litmus test for any new democracy that takes root there. Iraq has been largely Shi'ite in the south and Sunni in the north for centuries. Add in nomadic tribes and ethnic diversity a la the Kurds and it is a great challenge to any form of government to control. Centuries of strife and mistrust will not disappear overnight and patience combined with persistence will win the day.

Hundreds and thousands of Iraqis are participating in this experiment each day. They are beginning to recognize the potential of this opportunity. They understand that Iraqis are being killed by outside Jihadists. They understand that they are ultimately responsible for their own destiny. They are not shirking their responsibility. Give a listen to KVI's evening host and 81st Armored Brigade's Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 161 Infantry Lieutenant Bryan Suits at: http://www.kvi.com/x2977.xml?ParentPageID=x3156&ContentID=x5613&Layout=KVI.xsl&AdGroupID=x3248&NewsSection=

For those who think Iraq is taking too long:
The United States didn't have a Constitution until 1789--14 years after the Revolutionary War started.

From: http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/revolution
4/19/1775 'Shot heard 'round the world'
4/30/1789 Washington sworn in as President 14 years and 11 days after beginning of Revolutionary War.

Getting bleary-eyed. Be safe.

De opresso liber.

Posted by: Chris Nordby at September 23, 2004 06:49 AM

Kosovo actually is a disaster, but it was because we "
won" and then handed it over to the Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists.

Posted by: Jan Bear at September 23, 2004 07:10 AM

Why would you want the Middle East to be a hotbed of stability? I'm asking a serious question. The entire region is ruled by kings, religious fanatics, and military generals. The rotten and corrupt system currently in place produced the attacks on September 11. I, for one, do not want that situation to be stabilized.

Being one of those people who loves to stop and define the terms being used, I think it depends on what you mean by "stability." If you mean complete lack of change, then yes- I would also oppose "stability." But I don't think that's what S&M meant, or what most people mean - After all, it is possible to have change without anarchy.

I think the "stability" most are looking for is something closer to an imposition of some form of long-term order, even if preceded by some short-term upheaval (e.g., the invasion of Iraq).

Think of it this way - I'm guessing you would like to eventually see the Saudi regime gone - but would you want to see it replaced by an anarchic system of small, Islamist controlled-fiefdoms constantly warring with each other and using the oil to spread instant cultural/political upheaval) throughout the region?

Posted by: jeremy at September 23, 2004 07:28 AM

Seems to me there are a couple of things going on in Iraq that need to be addressed. First, a lot of people that needed killing got bypassed during the rapid advance to Baghdad, and the US military is now having to deal with them. The problem, of course, is that these people are hiding in and amongst the general population, and that makes it doubly difficult to root them out and kill them without killing a lot of innocents in the process. Second, we made a big mistake in Fallujah and Najaf. We should have done whatever it took to kill or capture those enclaves of insurgents/terrorists, including Al Sadr himself, even if it meant leveling the mosque. This idea of not wanting to tick off the so-called "Arab street" is a losing policy in the long run (they may hate us in the short term, but they will respect us if we take care of business, and that should cut down on their ability and desire to wreak havoc). Al Sadr should have been dealt with months ago, but he remains a thorn in our side. Until we bite the bullet and eliminate him (much like the Israelis have done with their targeting of Hamas' leadership), American GIs will continue to pay the price. Sure the world will condemn us: but stabilizing Iraq is much more important at this point than being liked in the world. I believe the Israelis have fundamentally decided on a similar path with their security wall and leadership assassination tactic, and, as tough as it is to stick to "unpopular" approaches like these, there really are few alternatives for them. Just my two cents worth...

Posted by: weejun at September 23, 2004 07:33 AM

TMJ, pretty fine post above, but Make no mistake about it: the war on terror will be won or lost in Baghdad. Won or lost in a way that will determine if Islam will continue to exist, I should say.

Not quite. If the US loses in Baghdad now, it means the terrorists will get nukes/ WMDs, and use them, and then at least one of the gloves will come off.

Only if America is successful at exporting a reasonable human rights supporting elected gov't to Iraq, Islam will have to face the internal modern vs. backward conflict Islam has been avoiding.

There's a good chance that, after Islamofascists get and use a nuke, ALL mosques will be seen as legitimate targets. And many many destroyed. I see Iraq as Islam's nearly last chance to avoid a real Civization Clash that, if it comes, will mean massive Islamic destruction.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 23, 2004 09:04 AM

Kin -- I appreciate your response to my comments about the settlers, it was thoughtful. I'd like to respond and also ask a few questions. Unfortunately, I won't have the time to do that until this evening at the earliest.

In the meantime, can someone explain to this incompetent writer how to italicize and do other font-related things when responding to posts in threads? Internet Explorer is my browser if that makes any difference.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 23, 2004 09:39 AM

There is a danger in comparing the US armed forces with the IDF with respect to quelling domestic terrorists...that danger is in apples to oranges. The IDF is probably as good at what they do as the USA is at ours, but the area they have to control is vastly smaller with defined borders and geography.

Hence, they really can (and have) sealed the border, forcing the would-be terrorists into checkpoints.

But the USA will never have enough soldiers to seal our borders - not even in Hillary's wildest socialist dreams. That's why we have to do what WE do best: project our power abroad...bringing the fight to THEIR back yard.

It may sound like a cliche, but it's profoundly true that it's better to fight the terrorists in downtown Baghdad than downtown Boston.

And as far as Iraq goes, I think we've got them right were we want them: bottled up in cities, while we rebuild the whole nation's infrastructure, laying solid foundations in the north and south - and limiting their damage to a low minimum of casualties. Los Angeles and Washington DC combined produce more casualties per year than Iraq has! That says alot!

Posted by: Joe at September 23, 2004 09:49 AM

If the goal is US security then no, stability is not required. What we want is for people living under the dictatorships there to stop feeling resentment towards the western world thanks to its tacit support of the various ruling "families". We need to cut off the monetary (hello Saudi-Arabia) and popular support for organizations such as Al-qaida. Our ongoing support for Israel(regardless of what they do) doesn't help us either.

(check out The fall of the House of Saud. By Robert Baer in The Atlantic Monthly May 2003)

S&M

Posted by: s&m at September 23, 2004 09:57 AM

"Los Angeles and Washington DC combined produce more casualties per year than Iraq has! That says alot!"

I'm pretty sure not too many Iraqis were killed in those 2 cities this year :)

S&M

Posted by: s&m at September 23, 2004 10:02 AM

>Just as they were wrong when they (although it was mostly Republicans this time) predicted disaster in Kosovo. <

Did they? I don't remember Republicans (or others) predicting disaster in Kosovo. Perhaps my memory is wrong. Do you have any references for predictions of disaster?

I opposed the war in Kosovo - but did not predict disaster - because there was no basis for thinking it was in our national security interests, that they had not attacked any neighboring country, and that it was very unlikely that we would solve a problem that had existed for hundreds of years. But I did not predict disaster for our troops because they were and are the best in the world.

Posted by: Spec Bowers at September 23, 2004 10:52 AM

"I opposed the war in Kosovo - but did not predict disaster - because there was no basis for thinking it was in our national security interests, that they had not attacked any neighboring country, and that it was very unlikely that we would solve a problem that had existed for hundreds of years."

Serbian Yugoslavia attacked Kosovo systematically eliminating the indigenous population. That is a concern to our national security because it enabled a genocidal regime to expand its sphere of influence. Furthermore, the current "problem" in the Middle East has existed for hundreds of years as well--it has festered so long that it eventually reached our shores.

We cannot turn a blind eye to situations where people are oppressed, systematically slaughtered, or to nation-states that give support to our enemies. That is the foreign policy equivalent of whistling past the graveyard.

Ignore cancer at your peril.
One cannot negotiate with it.
You must surgically remove it.
You kill it with chemicals.
You irradiate it.
It may leave scars, but you beat it
and go on with your life.
You remain ever vigilant thereafter.

De oppresso liber.

Posted by: Chris Nordby at September 23, 2004 11:58 AM

Joe -- "It may sound like a cliche, but it's profoundly true that it's better to fight the terrorists in downtown Baghdad than downtown Boston."

It doesn't sound like a cliche, it IS one. Regarding whether it is true, however, sure its better to do it in Baghdad, UNLESS the methods required to fight them effectively in Baghdad convinces a bunch of people living in Boston to join the cause and become practicing, non-state sponsored jihadists.

Once again, nobody here seems to give a damn about non-state sponsored terrorism. But that's what scares me shitless! Manure-filled semis driven into buildings! All that requires are a couple people able to get their hands on the stuff and willing to die for jihad, NOT Saudi or Iranian blessing or support.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 23, 2004 12:06 PM

Spec Bowers,

Trent Lott called Kosovo a "quagmire." And Tom DeLay demanded Bill Clinton withdraw right in the middle of the fighting.

link.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 23, 2004 12:31 PM

Markus:

Have you ever seen any concrete evidence that our efforts in Iraq have actually increased recruitment of terrorists outside of Iraq? I'm not being disengenuous when I ask that. It's just that I see that assertion a lot, and I consider it to be one of the few somewhat strong anti-Iraq war arguments, if true, but I've never seen any citations of evidence that it is true. The only thing I remember was one report that Al Qaeda membership had gone way down recently. I realize such things are hard to determine and endlessly arguable.

For me, I find it questionable that one thing, like Iraq, is going to push a significant number of Muslims over the edge. I mean, it's always some damn thing, often something that happened decades or centuries ago and can't be undone: the mere existence of Israel, the abolition of the caliphate after WWI, the reconquista, the crusades. One of Bin Laden's big complaints used to be the presence of US troops on Saudi Arabian soil. Well, now we're out of there and I don't exactly see the Jihadis standing down.

In short, increased recruitment is a worry, but if we're killing lots of terrorists on a daily basis, (as we are in Iraq), draining the swamps, taking out their state sponsors, I think that outweighs the number that will be created by any specific new action taken by the West, which they hate anyway no matter what we do.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at September 23, 2004 12:50 PM

"Ordo ab Chao" or "Aut Vincere Aut Mori".

No one has come up with a fix just living in the past.. this is a different war and world also. no one is fighting a war that can be thought of in a sane way. Talk is cheap, lets think of a FIX.

Posted by: Razor at September 23, 2004 01:02 PM

Eric -- no I haven't had a chance to compare Osama Bin-Laden (remember him?) approval ratings pre- and post- Iraqi invasion or pre- and post- Abu Ghraib. Nor have I seen any poll on how many Muslims are ready to blow themselves up for the cause. I have seen articles like this:

http://www.parapundit.com/archives/002190.html

claiming an increase in Muslim radicalism. Beyond that, it's just my gut feeling, stands to reason. You know, like you have gut feeling that "Arabs only respect strength" or something like that.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 23, 2004 02:57 PM

Razor wrote: no one is fighting a war that can be thought of in a sane way. Talk is cheap, lets think of a FIX.

OK. I see four different things to fix here, and they're all somewhat interrelated; improve one of them and the others may improve, do particularly badly at one and it may make the others harder.

1. Iraq occupation. What should our goals be? How can we achieve them?

2. Israel/palestine. Again what should our goals be? What can we do?

3. Terrorist attacks on the USA or our allies. The goal is obvious -- minimise successful attacks. But how?

4. Nuclear proliferation. The obvious goal here is a world without nukes. No nukes -- no armageddon. No nukes -- no nukes given-to or stolen-by terrorists. However, some insane american militarists think that the goal should be a world where nobody but the US military has nukes. And the immediate problem is a cople of unfriendly nations that appear to be making nukes. They both put more emphasis on nukes after Bush called them "Axis of Evil". China also started switching from civilian improvements to military renewal about that time. Either or both of iran or north korea (or for that matter russia or china or pakistan) might give or sell nukes to people we disapprove of. Any of these might help people we disapprove of to make their own nukes. What should we do? What should we do about proliferation in general?

Some people have a fifth goal:

5. Transform the societies of the muslim world into something that cannot create any threat to israel or the USA. Typically the suggested approach is to occupy, or make punitive expeditions, or bomb arab nations until they turn themselves into societies we can depend on never to create or aid any threat to the USA or israel, and if this doesn't work, nuke them all. Somehow this goal and these methods just aren't credible to me.

Are we agreed that these are the relevant situations, and we should clarify our goals connected to them? And come up with methods once we're straight what we want?

Posted by: J Thomas at September 25, 2004 04:11 PM

You're 34? You're eligible to serve. So why aren't you signing up? Iraq is a mess. And Islamofascism is a force we need to deal with. You're a an able bodied man and your kin, your country, your country's women and children need you. How on earth do you justify sitting at home at a time like this? You've had three years to join up and make a real dent in Islamofascism.

Jebus, what has come to the right tehse days, they are just mouth all such cowards.

Posted by: anon at September 25, 2004 09:37 PM

What should our goals in iraq be?

I say, putting in a strongman who will cater to us is failure. That's what we have in jordan and egypt. We could have had that with Saddam if we'd played straight with him, he wanted to switch from being a soviet client (in the old days we didn't want him because we already had iran next door and we didn't need him) to being our client. We doublecrossed him. If we bring in a new Saddam it's a failure. Too many people have had the chance to compare notes, they've seen how many they lost to Saddam. It will be hard to get them to puit up with that again. Though they'll talk like they will, whenever they can be identified.

I say our goals should be:

1. An end to the fighting.
2. Reconstruction, jobs, industry, unimpeded oil exports at whatever rate the iraqi government approves.
3. An iraqi government that can achieve the above.

I believe that means an iraqi democracy at the least, and at all levels. Democraticly elected mayors and town councils, democratically elected provincial governors, democratically elected national assembly.

The central government doesn't have to be strong, it can be an arena where strong provincial governments negotiate. If provinces are each responsible for setting up their own militias, with a small national army, that's fine. That's how the USA used to do it. But that isn't a complete solution; if they allow citizens to move where they wish inside the country, they could get people trying to pack critical provinces with their own interest groups. It happened in the USA in for example missouri. There may not be any complete solution. Tolerance helps.

Could they balance a democracy? Debate and vote instead of fight? Maybe. There's the problem that an interest block that finds its power slipping -- due to lower birthrate, say -- will be tempted to fight now because the longer they wait the worse it is. And the majority will be inclined to give them more than their share of power to keep them satisfied, until that becomes just too untenable. For example the USA with the South over slavery, and lebanon with the christians.

I see no other solution at all. Say the US Marines try to "pacify" them. How many would we have to kill? 20% of the population? 30%? Our intention would be to prevent ethnic-cleansing/genocide etc? And our prevention would be better because....

Iraq has got a bunch of people who're trying to dominate each other or keep from getting dominated. If we help one group dominate others we're in for a long fight. If they separate they'll each be independent and they can fight wars with each other and their neighbors. Another long fight. The only idea we have that could work is to get them thirsting for democracy. That might not work either, but nothing else has much chance at all.

If you're agreed about the goal, what part does the US military have in it?

Posted by: J Thomas at September 26, 2004 02:33 PM
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