June 08, 2005

Really, Dump Islam Karimov - Now

After the Andijon massacre in Uzbekistan, lots of people – including myself – said it was high time we ditched the tyrant Islam Karimov as an “ally.”

Nathan Hamm, who lived and worked there in the Peace Corps until shortly after 9/11, wasn’t entirely sure.
There’s nothing I’d like more than for Uzbekistan to be a democracy. Yesterday. But I’m hearing a lot of calls for what I must, at my most charitable, characterize as a shoot from the hip, emotionally satisfying response to the Andijon massacre. I can’t deny that a part of me doesn’t want to see that, but this situation is too serious to foul up. Believe you me, I want our policy to improve. But I want us to take fully into account the realities on the ground and be willing to swallow some of the realities that we don’t like for the sake of an effective long-term policy.
He has some questions for those like me who want a massive overhaul now. Since I respect Nathan and because he asked good questions I argued my case in my new Tech Central Station column on his exact terms. I hope he agrees. If he doesn’t, I will link his response if he writes one.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 8, 2005 09:49 PM

Comments

Nathan asks "Should the US be willing to curtail its public, rhetorical commitment to democratization and liberalization in Uzbekistan for the sake of maintaining its ability to support NGOs and democratization projects?"

I agree with Michael - the answer is no. In fact, it should be a resounding no. I may be a little cynical from my years living in Russia and Kazkhstan but I put very little value on the efforts of the Peace Corps and other Western NGOs operating in the former Soviet Union. On the whole they probably do more good than harm, but their net contribution to Uzbek society is insignificant. I was always shocked by how little the Peace Corps people actually understood about the countries they were living in. They were almost never proficient in the local languages, were condescending to the locals and often incredibly naive about how power networks really operate in these countries. These programs do have value to the US - because they expose some of our citizens to foreign cultures - but they play almost no real role in changing Uzbek society. Honestly most locals sincerely believe that these "democratization" projects are simply CIA fronts - the populace tends to be pretty cynical.

Posted by: Vanya at June 9, 2005 06:10 AM

But all bogus friendships must come to an end. The United States had no choice but to break with the Soviet Union and send "Uncle Joe" Stalin packing after the Nazi regime was demolished. Likewise, it's time to dump Islam Karimov.

I agree, but which bogus friendships should end first? When there are organizations like the American Committe for Peace in Chechnya out there, the Russians have some basis for their suspicions about American NGOs.

For years the ACPC has been encouraging Russia to enter into 'peace' negotiations with the Chechen Islamists, even though it's obvious that these Islamists are supported by our dangerous (to the Russians) Wahhabi Saudi allies.

High ranking American politicians were members of this group. It was established by Freedom House. As a supporter of Freedom House, I'm totally disgusted that this organization still exists.

Freedom house, notably, is not encouraging America to negotioate with Saudi-sponsored Islamist rebels. Fortunately, since the horrific Beslan massacre, ACPC's support and publication output seems to have gone down.

According to Nathan Hamm, liberals in Uzbekistan are threatened by the regime and by the Islamists who hope to install apartheid Shariah laws. I think we should dump both threats. Islamist regimes like Iran and Saudi Arabia have been spending billions in an attempt to install fascist Shariah regimes around the world. Saudis were involved in the Beslan massacre and they have supported the 'rebels' in Chechnya for years. They're probably supporting the Islamist rebels who are threatening the liberal Uzbeks. We should dump Kazimov and we should dump the Saudis.

Of course, realpolitik types will worry that this will send Saudis and the Uzbeki regime into the waiting arms of China, or Russia, or whatever. That may be a problem. I don't speak realpolitik and I'm just a liberal who never worried enough about the Red Menace, so I can't evaluate it.

In fact, I can't figure out if we're fighting commie oppression or Islamic fascist oppression. If we're still fighting the communists, and if our government considers the Islamists in Saudi Arabia to be our geniune allies, they should probably stop calling this a "war against terrorism" when it's just an extension of the cold war.

Posted by: mary at June 9, 2005 07:42 AM

Vanya, I think that with these programs, you need to ignore the forest for the trees. One of the most difficult things for Peace Corps Volunteers in particular is to see how their efforts make a difference. As you said it has a benefit for the US, so it does for the host countries as well.

Personally, my goals were to help my students improve their English and touch a small handful of lives and encourage them to do great things. I think I largely succeeded. I don't expect my efforts, or those of most other organizations for that matter, to have a terribly large impact in Uzbekistan--an admittedly difficult environment to work--in the near term. I do think though that they have tremendous value in the long-term. I'm an especially big proponent of educational, business, and cultural exchange as a democratization strategy rather than explicit training of political parties, etc. Because, as you said, people are cynical.

I do, however, disagree about saying that the locals think these organizations are CIA fronts. At least where Uzbekistan's concerned, that's not a particularly common view (especially as compared to Russia).

Michael, I do have some quibbles. I'll let you know when I've got a post up.

Posted by: Nathan at June 9, 2005 07:47 AM

That's a tough one. Does this bother me? Sure it does. And obviously this leaves the U.S. open to accusations of hypocrisy, but Bush isn't going to impose regime change unless doing so suits American national interests. Clearly it does not, at the moment.

Posted by: spaniard at June 9, 2005 07:49 AM

Here's a question for everybody. If Al Queda types in Pakistan started organizing massive and violent demonstrations vs.Musharraf, and he used deadly force to quell the rebellion, should the US drop pakistan as an ally and allow the possibility that of an islamist takeover.

Remember, Pakistan has nukes.

One more thing, I like to see the political opposition and the people of Uzbekistan ask the US and the UN for help vs Karimov.

and reassure the US that they won't become anti-US al queda-type state if Karimov is gone.

can they do that first?

Posted by: john marzan at June 9, 2005 08:23 AM

Why don't we just let people deal with their own problems? I mean if they come to us and ask for help (like the Kurds in 91) then sure, we can give them a hand... but really, its the responsibility of the people of any nation to determine the future state of that nation.

Revolutions are sometimes bloody, revolutions are almost always costly (in time, resources, lives, careers and reputations). However, freedom appears as an expensive thing and something that seems it must be earned to be appreciated.

We can take down any tin-horn dictator we set our sights on, but the only way to ensure a lasting, stable democracy is for the people of the nation to know and understand the fight required to keep freedom. Something I fear that Americans seem to be forgetting.

In many arguments over the Patriot Act, people defended secret warrents by saying they "still needed a Judges approval"... soon that may no longer be the case, yet what Americans realize that the blood of 225 years ago bought something which we're giving up like a ransom for the blood of 4 years ago.

Posted by: a-nony-nony mouse at June 9, 2005 09:16 AM

The same logic can be applied to our relationship with the Suadis; how much do we do behind the scenes, and at what point do we break it off completely? What about Putin and Russia? Some of what they are doing in CHechnya is just as bad. And the PRC, too!

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 9, 2005 09:22 AM

But all bogus friendships must come to an end. The United States had no choice but to break with the Soviet Union and send "Uncle Joe" Stalin packing after the Nazi regime was demolished. Likewise, it's time to dump Islam Karimov.

Actually, Roosevelt envisioned post-war cooperation between the US and USSR, and believed that it was these two countries, with Britain and China as junior partners, which would police the world. When Roosevelt died his policy was replaced by a much more hardline policy. Stalin even offered at one point to reunify and withdraw from Germany, but the US government rejected the offer because it would have placed West Germany outside NATO control. A few minor changes at the right time, and our post-war Soviet policy might have looked radically different.

But, Karimov! The real value in publically denouncing Karimov (and taking actual steps to cut our ties) is in convincing people around the world that the US is serious about democracy promotion. Many people, especially in the Muslim world, aren't so sure. Many would-be reformers are either skeptical of working with the US or lack enough support to do anything. If the US gets serious about Uzbekistan, it will have tremendous propaganda value.

It will also mean that if Uzbekistan ever does transform, there will be a new Muslim government that remembers us for being against a dictator rather than for a dictator. There are a few examples (cough cough Iran cough cough) when being on the side of a dictator had serious consequences when that dictator was overthrown by the people he oppressed.

Posted by: The Commenter at June 9, 2005 10:14 AM

The Commenter,

So Stalin was just a reasonable guy until the U.S. provoked him? And the same for Uncle Ho, and Chairman Mao, and sweet Fidelito, and every other enemy of the U.S.? That canard is long past its pull-date.

Posted by: Joel at June 9, 2005 12:00 PM

Joel,

No, at no point did I say that, or suggest it. I was simply pointing out that it is not true that the US had no choice but to do what it did at the beginning of the Cold War. The decisions that were made that resulted in the Cold War were not the only policy options. If the US (or USSR) had chosen others, we'd have seen a very different post-war relationship. I don't know what that would have been, or whether it would have been better or worse, but it is wrong to claim that the US had no freedom of action at that point.

Posted by: The Commenter at June 9, 2005 12:09 PM

When Roosevelt died his policy was replaced by a much more hardline policy.

Exactly so, Stalin was screwing over Eastern Europe. George Kennan, ambassador to Moscow, eventually got so fed up with the supine idiocy of US policy that he sent the famous long telegram, which led to the change in policy.

Of course, different policies could have led to different results. Doh. You mean, like, if I was born yesterday I might be a different age? Such insight is rare.

Posted by: chuck at June 9, 2005 01:04 PM

Bush isn't going to impose regime change unless doing so suits American national interests

You mean the Bush Doctrine was rhetorical cover for realpolitik? I'm shocked! Shocked!

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 9, 2005 02:37 PM

You mean the Bush Doctrine was rhetorical cover for realpolitik? I'm shocked! Shocked!

LMAO!

You shouldn't be. There is nothing inconsistent with the Bush doctrine and current relations with Uzbekistan. If you are not with us, you're against us, and apparently Karimov is with us.

Posted by: spaniard at June 9, 2005 03:31 PM

Strong-arm authoritarians putting down Islamist agitators in the Central Asia republics shouldn't be on anybody's list of concerns.

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 03:31 PM

Commenter,

Stalin was planing to occupy Eastern Europe, even prior to WWII. The Soviets played Hitler into starting WWII so as to later allow Stalin to make his move on Europe. It was all part the plan. :)

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 03:45 PM

Kimmit, there is an outside chance that Bush & Co. aren't the single-minded simpletons you assume them to be.

Explore the Dark Side, young Jedi....

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 9, 2005 04:08 PM

Mika:

Strong-arm authoritarians putting down Islamist agitators in the Central Asia republics shouldn't be on anybody's list of concerns.

Dude, they're only words, but you should ponder pyrrich victory.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 9, 2005 04:12 PM

Dude? HA! AnyHo, the guy might be an SOB, but he's our SOB. I have little problems with him being on our team. Commenter(s), now that I have problems with.

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 04:36 PM

Well, this is a rediculous tangent, but I can't resist.

I'm not sure what reason you have to think that Stalin "played" Hitler into starting the Second World War when Hitler's ideology was intimately tied up with the concept of Lebensraum and invading eastern Europe. Not that Stalin wouldn't have loved to do the same - there are indications that he was planning on attacking the Germans before the Germans invaded. But what an unecessarily complicated plan - provoke the Germans into attacking and coming within a hair's breadth of destroying the Soviet Union only to turn the tide after years of desperate fighting just to take over what they could have invaded in the first place. Sorry, don't buy it, especially when all the memoirs portray Stalin as being completely and totally surprised by the attack.

Part of the problem of Karimov isn't that he is cracking down on Islamic extremists, but that under his repressive rule, more and more Uzbeks, in what has long been a fairly secular place, are turning to radical Islam. Wasn't that the whole point of OIF? You know, once they decided that WMD weren't a good reason anymore - they argued that overthrowing Saddam and democratizing the Middle East would eliminate the conditions that create radical Islamic terrorism?

Posted by: The Commenter at June 9, 2005 05:02 PM

"I'm not sure what reason you have to think that Stalin "played" Hitler into starting the Second World War "

Because I know the people that were privy to the plan.

"provoke the Germans into attacking and coming within a hair's breadth of destroying the Soviet Union"

Stalin knew what the germans had, and he knew he had better.

"Sorry, don't buy it, especially when all the memoirs portray Stalin as being completely and totally surprised by the attack."

LMAO. That's because it was a secret the Nazis feared and hated the Soviets.

"Part of the problem of Karimov isn't that he is cracking down on Islamic extremists, but that under his repressive rule, more and more Uzbeks, in what has long been a fairly secular place, are turning to radical Islam."

BS. The ONLY reason for Islamist agitation is Saudia, and Saudia only. And the ONLY reason for that is because we allow it.

"democratizing the Middle East would eliminate the conditions that create radical Islamic terrorism?"

Nope. The only way to eliminate the conditions that create radical Islamic terrorism is to neuter the Saudia. And that operation necessarily involves neutering Iraq and then Iran.

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 05:26 PM

Mika, I'm more-or-less on your side, but the more you use the word "neutering" the less I'm on your side.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 9, 2005 05:32 PM

Mark,
LOL. I'm just toying with our friend Commentator. I know that terminology drives him mad.

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 05:40 PM

Oy, Mika, oy vey.

"Because I know the people that were privy to the plan."

I would think that they would be dead by now.

Posted by: The Commenter at June 9, 2005 05:57 PM

Yes, but not his son, who happens to be a relative of mine.

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 06:03 PM

And you had the nerve to accuse me of being a jihadi, when you're clearly related to either a Nazi or a Stalinist and therefore hate all that's good in the world and want to toung kiss Pol Pot?

You make me sick.

Posted by: The Commenter at June 9, 2005 07:03 PM

Woops! That should read "tongue kiss Pol Pot".

Posted by: The Commenter at June 9, 2005 07:04 PM

Mika,

I'm not sure how much to disagree with you because it's not clear to me what you are trying to say. If you're saying that Stalin encouraged Hitler to attack Poland and France I think that's a fair statement that could be supported. Did Stalin have designs on Finland, the Baltics and Poland before WWII? Of course he did. Every bit of land the Soviet Union conquered in 1939 had been integral parts of the Russian Empire only 20 years earlier. Why shouldn't he have wanted them back? Communism was only a pretext, Stalin was always a nationalist at heart.

But if you think it was part of Stalin's master plan for Hitler to invade the Soviet Union than you are completely insane. It was never part of Stalin's pre-war plan to conquer Hungary, eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia outright. That just fell into his lap. Stalin never intended direct conflict with Germany, he certainly wouldn't have purged the General Staff in 1937 if that had been his intention all along. And a quick glance at Mein Kampf will show you that Hitler would have started a war with or without Stalin, National Socialism depended on war to keep the economy going.

Posted by: Vanya at June 9, 2005 07:38 PM

"But if you think it was part of Stalin's master plan for Hitler to invade the Soviet Union than you are completely insane." ... "he certainly wouldn't have purged the General Staff in 1937 if that had been his intention all along"

Think about it.

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 07:57 PM

"And you had the nerve to accuse me of being a jihadi" ... "You make me sick."

The only way this would make any sense is if you're related to the Ayatollah. Are you?

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 08:00 PM

If you are not with us, you're against us, and apparently Karimov is with us.

Okay, hang on -- I know that there are two facets to the Bush Doctrine:

1) Preemptory warfare (i.e. if you might be a threat to us at some point, we're gonna kill you).

2) Democracy promotion (i.e. we're on the side of the good guys, and anyone who isn't democratic can look forward to an invasion when we get around to it).

(2) in particular, used to post hoc justify the Iraq war (since even the low standards of (1) have been spectacularly left unmet), seems to my mind to be utterly inconsistent with our ongoing friendship with Karimov. Indeed, this is what our host is implying in this very post. My contention is that our host is very, very wrong as to whether (2) represents an actual doctrine or a cynical manipulation of people like our host's better nature.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 9, 2005 08:04 PM

Vanya,

Communism was only a pretext, Stalin was always a nationalist at heart.

In this regard it is still worth reading the long telegram I linked to up above. Another big question is whether or not Stalin thought England and France would go to war over Poland. Hitler judged not, and got himself into more war than he planned on. At the time, there was also discussion of going to war with Russia over their involvement in the partition. Now, that would have been an entirely different kettle of fish, no. I haven't seen anyone write an alternative history along those lines, but the possibility of such a war was certainly greater than of some of the other historical suppositions made in such stories.

Posted by: chuck at June 9, 2005 08:07 PM

Mika, based on what you've said to me over time (and that comment you made a few days ago about the jihadis behind everywhere - even in these comments), I have this wonderful image of you carefully checking under your bed every night to make sure the bogeyman, I mean, jihadists haven't crept in and hidden to lay in wait.

Stalin's purge of the general staff in 1937 wasn't in preparation for a war. The decisions made by Stalin ensured that the Soviet Union was almost defeated by Finland (though lots of credit goes to Mannerheim and the Finns - absolutely one of the coolest parts of history). Stalin wouldn't rescind his decisions until years into the war, ensuring that the Germans could seize almost all of the Union's most productive territory and a huge part of its population, capture millions upon millions of prisoners in its vast encirclements, and kill tens of millions of Soviet citizens. Stalin almost lost because of his mistakes.

I'm sorry, I'm trying, but I find it almost impossible to believe that Stalin could have predicted that by starting a war he almost lost and by taking massive losses, he'd be able to take control of Hungary years later. Does this make sense? If he wanted to fight a war to take control of eastern Europe, why wouldn't he, you know, attack Germany, instead of provoking Hitler into invading (which he'd wanted to do for years), taking massive losses, and then slowly fighting back to take what he wanted. I mean, Stalin wasn't exactly known for his strategic acumen, and here you are ascribing to him what could only be described as the largest and most-insane gamble in history.

I guess the comprable situation would be the US "provoking" Osama and his goons into seizing control over the US up to the Mississippi, destroying every school, house, and factory to the Atlantic, killing millions upon millions of Americans, almost defeating the American army in the field, only to lose years later so the US could seize control of the Middle East. Or, maybe, if that's what we wanted, we'd just attack, instead of taking millions of casualties and then attacking.

Or, another comparison: it would be as if Israel, in order to defeat its Hizbollah enemies, provoked them into invading, occupying, and devastating everything north of, say, Jerusalem's southern limit. And then, after losing, say, a million people or more, Israel struck back and invaded southern Lebanon. The sheer brilliance of such a move would surely win Stalin's approval!

Posted by: The Commenter at June 9, 2005 08:22 PM

Kimmitt,

I'm still of the thinking that the "Bush Doctrine" is primarily about the war on terror, and only about promoting democracy as a distant second. But if "promoting democracy" is indeed a plank of the "Bush Doctrine" (a term that has never even crossed the lips of Bush, by the way), then what exactly does that mean?

I'm willing to bet that most people who supported the Liberation of Iraq, such as the host, were under no illusions that this meant we'd also invade every country in the world that wasn't a democracy in order to impose regime change, or that we'd impose sanctions on those countries, or that we'd even break off relations with those countries. After all, several of our allies in this struggle aren't any more democratic than Uzbekistan is.

Nonetheless, we still approve of Iraq's Liberation, for a multitude of reasons.

Posted by: spaniard at June 9, 2005 08:55 PM

What? Nobody wants to take a crack at my question?

Again, I ask... what if Al Queda sympathizing Islamists organized a massive and violent uprising against the dictator Musharraf, and the Pakistani PM was let with no choice but to use deadly force (killing many people) to quell the rebellion, should the US then abandon Pakistan and allow the Islamists to take over?

Remember, Pakistan too under Musharraf is not a democracy.

Just Asking. Michael? Anybody?

Again, I want to see the political opposition and the people of Uzbekistan ask the US and the UN for help vs Karimov.

The Iraqis did it and the Iranian people are asking for US support vs. the Mullahs. The Lebanese people has asked the International Community for support vs. Syria.

Can the Uzbeks at least do something like that first?

Posted by: john marzan at June 9, 2005 09:08 PM

Promoting democracy would win "the war on terror". The Islamists would become the Christian Coalition or Sinn Finn. I vote to ditch the dictator. Hang the fucker:)

Posted by: Mike #3or4 at June 9, 2005 09:09 PM

"jihadists haven't crept in and hidden to lay in wait."

Now you're just baiting me. Anyway, how can they be hidden if I can so plainly see them?

"ensuring that the Germans could seize almost all of the Union's most productive territory and a huge part of its population, capture millions upon millions of prisoners in its vast encirclements, and kill tens of millions of Soviet citizens. Stalin almost lost because of his mistakes."

Stalin didn't make a mistake. He supplied the germans with war material and training ground for war games. Stalin knew exactly what the germans were capable of. The germans were never a match. The Soviets had better arms, better intelligence, more raw material, more men, and a defense plan to trap the germans.

By allowing the germans on the attack, the Soviets ensured germany was pryed away from any possible western alliance. Remember, at that time, the United States France England, were highly sympathetic to nazi germany and rather antithetic towards the Soviets.

"If he wanted to fight a war to take control of eastern Europe, why wouldn't he, you know, attack Germany, instead of provoking Hitler into invading (which he'd wanted to do for years), taking massive losses, and then slowly fighting back to take what he wanted."

The Soviet's "loss" of the Ukraine was intentional. Hitler war famine gulag, the method of casualty was academic.

Posted by: mika. at June 9, 2005 09:39 PM

Second pointless comment, the Bush crew failed to offer Africa what they should have. They should commit to the "marshall plan" for Africa. A plan that does not revolve around throwing money at the problem, but is focused on a solution.

Posted by: Mike #3or4 at June 9, 2005 10:06 PM

were under no illusions...

And here is where I disagree -- both you and the host are under the illusion that either terrorism or the plight of the Iraqi people was relevant to Bush's decision to invade Iraq. Once you release yourself from this illusion, a number of seeming exceptions (the Bush friendship with the House of Sa'ud; our coddling of the Pakistani dictatorship; our failure to grind the remnants of the Taliban into the dust; our ongoing alliance with various brutal dictatorships; our failure to intervene in the Sudan, etc. etc.) instead are easily and straightforwardly explained. At some point, it's not a doctrine, it's just words.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 10, 2005 12:34 AM

Kimmitt,

The doctrine is clearly not applied across the board. You'll get no argument from me about that. It's obvious to anyone with eyes.

I realize there need to be exceptions in the real world at times (as long as those exceptions are temporary and not habitual), but it's not good enough for me right now.

My advice is for you to pressure the Democrats to take up the Bush Doctrine and be serious about implementing it. Kerry wouldn't even give lip service to it, let alone expand it. That's a problem. Bush gets it partly right. Kerry just shrugged at the very idea.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2005 02:14 AM

Yes! to Michael's advice to Kimmit -- pressure the Democrats to take up the Bush Doctrine and be serious about implementing it.

What does it mean to be serious about implementing it? All Westerners living in democracies, by choice (since they could move elsewhere...), should be in favor of the goal: free and fair elections of all nations all over the world.

The debate should be on how to get there.
Bush has chosen regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq, by military force. With the benefits of changes in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan w/o military force.

And increasing counter-dem reaction in Uzbekistan and Belarus. Bush successes include Lebanon, mini-elections in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Egypt -- lots of changes.

In fact, too many changes, all in the last two years -- neither the US nor any great power can manage them all.

How to support democracy? I remain enraged at the genocide in Sudan -- proof that the UN talk, not action, is a failure at saving lives. Zimbabwe is also terrible recently, with sham elections; and Bolivia (new caretaker president), Venezuela, and the not-dead-yet Castro (is he feeling better? does he want to go for a walk? He doesn't want to go on the cart...).

Castro, at least, should be treated to free trade, an opening of borders, and words of condemnation. Economic sanctions are a failure at changing policy after a short adjustment period, and should not be used. Either invade, or just talk & condemn their "gulags". But sanctions on gov't leaders may be better.

Bush should condemn Karimov, specifically and loudly on this and any massacres; perhaps a public postponement of a specific previously promised aid package until there is an fair investigation about Karimov's guilt and where the breakdown was. (Was Kent State really Nixon's fault?) What does intolerable mean?

Bush should offer help to the Uzbek people -- low cost mortgage loans for building privately owned houses, and help (Peace Corps and otherwise) in setting up house construction companies.

Most US aid to most countries, including in Africa, should be more focused on house construction. Maybe in Europe for the Roma (Gypsies), too.

I'll give myself tiny credit for my own anti-genocide focus when I read, by a less bloviating author than I, "We won't have the time to wait for the next Bill Clinton to say he is sorry if we don't do the right thing right now."

I love the idea, and the snark -- the feeling -- but I disagree with the fact. Survivors will always have time to do the right thing, later. And until Iran (or Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or...) allows terrorists to get nukes or other WMDs, and use them in at least one mass killing, there will be (mostly Dem) folk in the US who assume "we" will all survive, right thing or not. I mean, Bill Clinton didn't lose 1700 US Soldiers in a foreign war, "we" weren't murdered by the Hutus, so who's to say it was wrong to allow the genocide if it saved US lives?

I say so:doing nothing in Rwanda was wrong. The Dems need to say so, too. Then they'll win more elections.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at June 10, 2005 03:29 AM

"The only way this would make any sense is if you're related to the Ayatollah. Are you?"

Mika, what does this mean? I'm almost afraid to ask, but how, oh Lord how on earth could you possibly take a sarcastic comment I made about you being related to either a Nazi or a Communist and turn it into a question about me being related to the Ayatollah? How?

Personally, I think that a lot of what you say only makes sense if one assumes that you eat babies. I've never heard you deny that you're a baby-eater. I want to come right out and establish that I have never eaten a baby, nor will I. Can you say the same? Until you do, I'm going to assume that your breakfast consisted of baby. You sick bastard.

Posted by: The Commenter at June 10, 2005 07:22 AM

"..how on earth could you possibly take a sarcastic comment I made about you being related to either a Nazi or a Communist and turn it into a question about me being related to the Ayatollah? How?"

Well, if me being related to a high ranking Soviet thug automatically qualifies me a Commie sympathizer, I assumed you being a farsi Jihadi sympathizer automatically qualifies you a relation of the ayatollah.

/apply baby eating sarc tags where you feel necessary.

Posted by: mika. at June 10, 2005 08:01 AM

Just as I suspected. You won't or can't condemn baby eating. You won't even lie and tell me you don't eat babies when you clearly do.

Anyway, Mika, since you were able to deduce, merely through a handful of comments made on a single webpage, that I was a "farsi Jihadi sympathizer", I wonder if you are receiving any recruitment offers from your government's intelligence services. Clearly, if you are capable of figuring out that I was a "farsi Jihadist sympathizer", when (according to you) I was actively engaged in deception, you would be of enormous value in uncovering other covert, hidden enemies. Remember, they're everywhere.

That, or "farsi Jihadist sympathizer[s]" have just gotten lazy enough that, even when they're pretending to not be "farsi Jihadist sympathizer[s]", you can spot them.

Posted by: The Commenter at June 10, 2005 08:10 AM

"Just as I suspected. You won't or can't condemn baby eating. You won't even lie and tell me you don't eat babies when you clearly do."

But they're so cute. How can anyone resist !?

Posted by: mika. at June 10, 2005 08:14 AM

Girl, you've already admitted as much. I'm going to respect Michael's wishes and end this conversation about Jihadis here and now.

Posted by: mika. at June 10, 2005 08:17 AM

Mika,
I don't see how you can say that the Eastern front was a huge trap laid by the wily Stalin. Was purging virtually the entire senior leadership of his military just before the war also part of that plan? The Soviets completely lucked out, and came within a hair's-breadth of losing, and would have if not for some strategic mistakes on the part of the Germans.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 10, 2005 09:33 AM

"I don't see how you can say that the Eastern front was a huge trap laid by the wily Stalin."

Hmm,.. I don't see how you can see it any different.

Posted by: mika. at June 10, 2005 10:17 AM

Don't you see, exhelodrvr? Stalin knew that only by losing millions upon millions of his own soldiers first could he counterattack and defeat Hitler. He knew exactly, down to the last soldier, what Hitler was capable of achieving, and set the greatest trap in history.

That, or Mika's insane. Take your pick.

Posted by: The Commenter at June 10, 2005 10:49 AM

Commenter,

Commenter, You're missing the other two possibilities - a) Mika is simply trolling b)Mika is a Ukrainian nationalist. That is only belief system I know of that would allow someone to find these crazed arguments credible. Mika is also unwittingly a Stalin fan - he credits Stalin with incredible foresight and perspicacity when there is ample evidence that Stalin was often reactive and not always in control of events. This is where conspiracy theories always fall apart. I've met many b

Posted by: Vanya at June 10, 2005 11:43 AM

(hit the damn post button too early), I've met many brilliant, truly brilliant people in business and in government. None of them could ever have pulled off what Stalin is being credited with here. Personally I don't believe Stalin was superhuman.

Posted by: Vanya at June 10, 2005 11:44 AM

When I have some time I'll see if I can google for some of this info on the net.

Posted by: mika. at June 10, 2005 12:01 PM

My advice is for you to pressure the Democrats to take up the Bush Doctrine and be serious about implementing it.

There are two parts to the Bush Doctrine:

(1) will never be Democratic policy in our lifetimes. The Democratic Party is not going to be the Party of random invasions without a pressing and obvious threat -- a clear and present danger, if you will.

(2) is nuts. It is not reasonable to expect that we will be able to conquer any given country and install a democratic form of government with a reasonable amount of US lives lost and money spent.

Now, if you are arguing that Democrats should embrace a policy of universal promotion of democracy and get serious about preventing both terrorism and genocide, hey, we agree. But we're there, long since. Clinton's foreign policy was obviously a move in that direction from Bush 41's, and we would have expected Gore (and Kerry to a lesser extent) to follow similar paths. The Democratic Party platform is quite clear on the subject, as well. The difference is that the Iraq War was not seen as a judicious use of our limited resources. Also, it's bad to lie the country into a war.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 10, 2005 02:40 PM

This is not to imply that Clinton didn't screw up very badly in both Afghanistan and Rwanda. It is merely to imply that the Democratic policy establishment views Clinton's actions in those two arenas in particular as failures, with lessons learned for future policy.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 10, 2005 02:42 PM

Kimmitt;

"The Democratic Party is not going to be the Party of random invasions without a pressing and obvious threat -"

That is sadly humorous. Haiti or Kosovo sound familiar?

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 10, 2005 03:43 PM

Vanya,
I would think that a Ukrainian nationalist would be the last person who would put forth a pro-Stalin theory. I suspect Mika is just trying to get Commenter's goat.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 10, 2005 03:50 PM

Haiti or Kosovo sound familiar?

I apologize for being unclear -- the US is not going to be a nation which engages in nontrivial invasions without a clear and present danger. We will of course be consistently willing to engage in all manner of interventions which rely on a rather small portion of our volunteer military.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 10, 2005 09:17 PM

I would bet that nobody in the Ukraine is a fan of Stalin. There might be one or two, but anyone who lived in or survived Stalin would probably think about starving.

Posted by: Mike #or4 at June 10, 2005 09:42 PM

Now, if you are arguing that Democrats should embrace a policy of universal promotion of democracy and get serious about preventing both terrorism and genocide, hey, we agree

The Democrats' plan to fight terrorism is to hand the problem over to the UN and raise CAFE standards. Their plan to fight genocide - hand the problem over to the UN and count on the press to ignore the issue.

The Democrats want to avoid war because they're terrified of anyting that can escalate into a nuclear conflict. The Republicans wage war because they think that's the best way to avoid a nuclear conflict. Both parties are obsessed with WMDs and oil supply and neither party has much interest in fighting terrorism.

The Democrats' plan to support the UN's policy of appeasing terrorists could have disasterous consequences. Republican realpolitik maneuvering, on the other hand, has had some positive results, like increased freedom in the Middle East. They're not good leaders, but they're capable ones right now.

The Democrats, in the sad state they're in now, have ceased to be an option, and they'll probably stay that way for a while, no matter how often Republicans screw up.

If you're genuinely interested in supporting freedom and American values abroad, the peace corps and NGOs like Spirit of America are doing some good work.

Posted by: mary at June 10, 2005 10:00 PM

Kimmitt,

Unfortunately you continue to be unclear:

1. "the US is not going to be a nation which engages in nontrivial invasions without a clear and present danger." The logical inference to this is that the US will be a nation that engages in trivial invasions without a clear and present danger. I've read your posts long enough to know that can't be what you meant; please explain.

2. "We will of course be consistently willing to engage in all manner of interventions which rely on a rather small portion of our volunteer military." All sorts of questions here. Are we to understand that it would be acceptable to this theoretical Democratic administration to "intervene" in any country (assuming the weakly defined "clear and present danger" has presented itself) as long as we only use a small portion of the force? If so, do the force ratio calculations have to be modified to come up with a smaller number, independent of the true scope of the problem, or do we only take on the truly insignificant problems where minimal force is required?

I'll take the opportunity to address your points as well. You appear to question whether the war waged on Iraq was necessary and I question how any can believe differently. Our administration has expressed this poorly, but the fact remains that the United States never stopped its conflict with Iraq - it entered an armistice period that was contingent on good behavior from the government of Iraq. That good behavior was non-existent and the right to reengage in military action was enacted by Bush Senior (limited support for Kurdish independence and the ennactment of a no-fly zone), by Clinton (Desert Thunder and Desert Fox in 1998), and by Bush the Younger. So why did it take 12 years for a full scale resumption of hostilities? My answer is a synergestic combination of political will b/c of the attacks on our country, intelligence that indicated WMD was present (whether it actually was or not is immaterial - intelligence is a notoriously inaccurate science and decision makers must often act even knowing that limitation), and the continued recalcitrance of the Iraqi administration. I believe that combination fully justified the resumption of full scale military hostilities.

As for your point about conflicts that require a smaller portion of US forces, I tell you that down that path danger lies. Having pre-conceived notions of acceptable force ratios before a conflict begins leads to war on the cheap and disruption / delay / deterioration of the mission. Some have even accused the current administration of that failing. What is a smaller portion? At this point, only about 10 percent of all US forces are involved in direct military conflict (total active/reserve forces for the US is appx 1.4 or 1.5 mil. Total committed to Southwest Asia appx 130-150,000). Is this small enough for you Kimmitt? Or must it be 5% or 1%? The job for the administration is to select the fight; the job of the military should be to determine the appropriate force ratios and packages necessary to complete that fight successfully based on military analysis, not some pre-conceived notion of what is small enough.

I look forward to everyone's comments.

Posted by: Christopher Nicolaus at June 11, 2005 07:52 AM

Christopher,
Very well said. I would add that limiting U.S. military use to small-scale U.S. interventions in areas that don't carry much significance, when there are obvious needs for it's use elsewhere, just adds to the image of a "paper tiger" unwilling to commit. Which ultimately makes it even more likely that we will eventually be drawn into a large scale conflict, but one that has the odds less in our favor. We have seen the results of 10 years of that policy, starting with the elder Bush letting Saddam get away with his post-Desert Storm internal atrocities against the Kurds and the Shiites, and going through the "cruise missile and no ground troops in the Balkans" years with Clinton.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 11, 2005 09:01 AM

Chris: I meant that the US will intervene using a trivial amount of force without the need for any danger to itself. One example of this is the Indonesian tidal wave -- while the number of men and women involved was fairly significant, we were already in that area, and the deployment was obviously going to be for a fairly short period of time. By trivial, I mean a single-digit number of deployments, each themselves in the double-digits, MAYBE triple-digits.

In essence, I'm talking about the Powell Doctrine, which (paraphrased) says: If you're going to get involved in a conflict of choice, don't bet the farm on it and know when to cut your losses and do good elsewhere.

I agree that the US never ceased hostilities with Iraq. But we clearly did not have a military which was capable of administering Iraq after the conflict, and we did not build our military into one which was so capable, despite the fact that we have had years in which to do so. We would be much better off had we continued to contain Iraq with a tiny fraction of the forces currently deployed there and used the hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of American lives to pursue our security and humanitarian interests elsewhere. On the Afghan-Pakistan border, for example, or in the Sudan.

This was why I opposed the venture into Iraq -- because I knew that this Administration was too mendacious and incompetent to manage that difficult venture well, and t'were better not attempted at all than attempted and failed.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 11, 2005 10:40 AM

Kimmitt,

It never fails to amaze me how two persons can look at the same document from completely different perspectives. I appreciate your interpretation of the Powell Doctrine, but I see a different component of it - namely that once you have committed to ground combat you support with the full weight of the nation's military, industrial, and political will. Remember this, however, Powell developed that doctrine based on his experiences as a Vietnam veteran and a Cold Warrior. The idea he expressed is a sound one, but the expression of it that I believe he met - namely that if you go to war, then send everyone and occupy a war footing - is not useful for this conflict at this time. The Powell Doctrine will once again find its time as China, potentially, develops into a world class contender for superpower status.

I also take issue with your characterization of the military - not because of blind partisanship, but simply because I think that you don't have all the facts. I will start with this question however - what would the correct structure have been for a military to fight, and win, a large scale conventional conflict and then transition to an occupation? I ask you not to play stump the chump, but to determine whether you have a correct answer in mind before you make a statement of opinion.

I do have a right answer in mind - the military required to perform that task is one that has unparalled command, control, communications, and intelligence capabilities (C3I) that enable commanders at all levels to share a common picture of their battle space and to maximize the firepower under their direction. Second, that military must have world class weapon systems that provide overmatch capability in any firefight. Third, that military must have determined leaders at all levels who are able to analyze a situation and determine appropriate responses or develop appropriate plans. Fourth, that military must have vehicle platforms that enable soldiers to cover tremendous distances quickly and safely. This final point is called a combat multiplier - in the conflict that we face in Iraq, where large scale fighting is less common, it allows a relatively small group of soldiers to be responsible for a large piece of territory.

I have described the US Army that went in to Iraq, with some caveats. The first three points are unquestioned in my mind. The final point, the ability to move rapidly on the battlefield, was one that the US Army was inadequately prepared for, but had made initial efforts to fix. The Stryker Combat Vehicle was a piece of off the shelf technology that the DOD had selected to bridge the gap between light and mechanized infantry. After a reasonably short period of trials, tests, and evaluations, the military adopted that platform and began an ambitious program of fielding the system. The US Army had never really considered the need for the total force to be outfitted with armored HMMWVS (Humvees) because they were essentially the pickup truck of the battlefield. Specific combat units had armored HMMWVS out of a perceived necessity. Combat support units, and certain combat units, had unarmored vehicles because the US Army believed that was an acceptable risk in the kinds of combat that it had been prepared to conduct.

I look at the situation on the ground in Iraq and I see an Army as well designed, and well led, as humanly possible accomplishing a difficult mission in a dangerous land. Mistakes have been made and for the most part are being corrected. Where they are not, I can only hope that the responsible leaders are held to account and their careers quickly truncated.

I have offered you a model for a successful military that I believe will win the war in Iraq. You apparently don't agree with that, so what is your model for an Army that could be successful?

I apologize for the lengths of my posts - I'll start working on being more pithy!

Posted by: Christopher Nicolaus at June 11, 2005 11:14 AM

Commenter, Vanya, exhelodrvr,

Not quite as explicit, but it does support the general thrust of the assertions above:
.
.
http://www.fff.org/freedom/1191d.asp

Posted by: mika. at June 11, 2005 07:18 PM

More:

According to the conventional view, Hitler's perfidious attack abruptly forced a neutral and aloof Soviet Russia into war. This view further holds that a surprised Stalin had naively trusted the deceitful German Führer. Rejecting this view as political propaganda, Suvorov shows Stalin's personal responsibility for the war's outbreak and progression. Above all, this book details the vast Soviet preparations for an invasion of Europe in the summer of 1941 with the goal of Sovietizing central and western Europe. Suvorov is not alone in his view. It is also affirmed by a number of non-Russian historians, such as American scholar R. H. S. Stolfi in his 1991 study Hitler's Panzers East: World War II Reinterpreted (reviewed by me in the Nov.-Dec. 1995 Journal).

In spite of rigid Soviet censorship, Suvorov has succeeded in digging up many nuggets of valuable information from publicly available Soviet writings that confirm his central thesis. Icebreaker is based on the author's meticulous scouring of such published sources as memoirs of wartime Soviet military leaders, and histories of individual Soviet divisions, corps, armies, fleets, and air units.
.
.
http://www.marynet.com/icebrk.html

Posted by: mika. at June 11, 2005 07:30 PM

Soviet censorship is not the same now as it once was; they have even admitted to having had U.S. POWs from VIetnam!

Stalin didn't "trust" Hitler any more than Hitler trusted him; the non-aggression pact was simply to gain time.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 11, 2005 08:49 PM

..in a secret speech to the Communist Party Central Committee in January 1925, Stalin had laid out the strategy from which he never swerved in foreign policy: "But if war breaks out [in Europe] we shall not be able to sit with folded arms. We shall have to take action, but we shall be the last to do so. And we shall do so in order to throw the decisive weight into the scales, the weight that can turn the scales." Stalin's Marxist-Leninist view was that any war that broke out in Europe would be a war between the imperialist and capitalist nations. The strategy was to deflect any attack against the Soviet Union, and instead allow the capitalist nations to fight each other to exhaustion, at which point the Soviet Army would enter the war and conquer the European continent for the Communist cause.

The war in Europe did not develop as Stalin had predicted. In the spring of 1940, the British withdrew from the continent. The German army conquered France in June without suffering appreciable losses. The ground war was wrapping up without England and Germany becoming "sufficiently worn down." Khrushchev later described how Stalin became unusually agitated following the Franco-German cease-fire in June 1940. He cursed the French for letting themselves be beaten and the English for fleeing "as fast as their legs could carry them.

That summer, diplomatic relations with Germany deteriorated. When the Soviets exerted political pressure to gain control of Finland's nickel production (the Germans had contracted to purchase 75 percent of the yield), Hitler garrisoned the Finnish nickel mines at Petsamo with elite mountain troops. After the Red Army occupied Bessarabia, the Führer signed a treaty with Bucharest in August, pledging to protect Romania from aggression.

In November 1940, Molotov traveled to Berlin to confer with Hitler and Ribbentrop. During the talks, the Soviet visitor belabored the German military presence in Finland and the Reich's guarantee to safeguard Romanian sovereignty. This, he protested, was an infringement on the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. All conciliatory arguments introduced by Hitler, Molotov resisted. The catalog of demands for Soviet preeminence in practically every region where Germany and the Soviet Union shared interests, which Molotov heaped on Ribbentrop during the final session, brought the diplomatic exchange to a fiasco.

The question arises what Molotov, presenting patently unacceptable demands, expected to achieve through these negotiations. The contemporary German historian Walter Post offers this analysis: Moscow had to fear that England would either be finished off by a German amphibious operation, or, due to its military weakness and miserable financial situation, find itself ready to conclude a peaceful compromise with the Reich. The Soviet Union would then stand alone against a Germany that controlled the resources of the entire European continent. Moreover, the Soviet Union saw the danger of a cooperative effort among all the capitalist powers, including the Anglo-Saxons, against the USSR. To prevent this possibility, England had to be encouraged to continue waging war... To reinforce this hope and prevent a German landing operation against England, Moscow had to seek a conflict with Germany. With the threat of Soviet expansion toward Scandinavia and the Balkans in his rear, Hitler could not risk operation Sea Lion (the invasion plan for England). Instead, he had to transfer strong formations of his armed forces to the east to protect Germany's supply sources of nickel lumber, oil and grain.

In December 1940, Soviet intelligence obtained a copy of a top-secret directive drafted by the Führer on the 18th. It opened with the words, "The German armed forces must be prepared, even before the conclusion of the war with England, to defeat Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign."

The initial success of the germans in breaking Soviet formation on their western front provided appetite to push deep forward and overextend supply lines. The Soviets encircled the german army with 3 concentric rings extending 500 some miles and destroyed it. We should also remember that "Germany entered war in 1939 with 3,195 tanks. As Suvorov points out, this was fewer than a single Soviet factory in Kharkov, operating on a "peacetime" basis, was turning out every six months."

Posted by: mika. at June 11, 2005 10:28 PM

Nothing you've posted here, Mika, supports your argument that Stalin tricked Hitler into a war that he predicted he would win after years of massive losses. I am aware of no one who believes that the Soviets were neutral or aloof or that Stalin trusted Hitler. I am aware of plenty of people who believe that Stalin just didn't expect Hitler to attack when he did.

Again, the point was never that Stalin liked Hitler, or trusted him, or thought he would never attack. Based on Soviet activity in 1941, some have postulated that Stalin was himself planning an attack on Germany. The Nazi-Soviet Pact was, obviously, an attempt by both parties to achieve room to maneuver. Stalin was, however, completely taken by surprise when the actual attack came the other way. Recall that under the Pact the Soviets were bound to ship large quantities of raw materials to the Germans. Recall that these shipments continued as the Germans crossed the border.

But, seriously, you're asking us to believe that Stalin was such a military genius that he was able to know the outcome of four years of the bloodiest fighting in history, that he was able to accurately predict the results of things like a) the largest invasion in history or b) the largest seige in history or c) the largest tank battle in history. You're also asking us to believe that this genius also thought that the best way of winning a war was not to attack with his full strength, but rather to take millions of casualties and then counterattack years later. Does this make sense? It doesn't to me.

Posted by: The Commenter at June 12, 2005 09:44 AM

Stop that! You're putting words in my mouth and then you say such nonsense that "Nothing you've posted here, Mika, supports your argument".

Reread my original post:

"Stalin was planing to occupy Eastern Europe, even prior to WWII. The Soviets played Hitler into starting WWII so as to later allow Stalin to make his move on Europe. It was all part the plan."

Now reread the referenced posts.

Posted by: mika. at June 12, 2005 03:02 PM

I will start with this question however - what would the correct structure have been for a military to fight, and win, a large scale conventional conflict and then transition to an occupation?

I think our current military is well-designed. I just also think that Gen. Shinseki made a very strong case that we cannot project enough men and women at this time. We could have changed that. We didn't.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 12, 2005 09:22 PM

Thank you Christopher, for fine points; and kudos for Kimmitt for agreeing to the facts, while maintaining the most reasonable criticism (as well as, unfortunately, the worst).

The worst criticism is the Leftist assumption that Bush is an incompetent, lying, evil genius idiot -- whatever assumption is needed at the time to rationalize an analysis of how the choice made by Bush was wrong; primarily because he didn't intend to do good.

K's good criticism is the one of "too few" troops. It's basically saying that if one must "fight with troops we have" (Rummy, roughly), and we don't have the optimal -- then we don't fight, then. We do containment, implicitly continuing sanctions.

Had the US invaded Afghanistan, but NOT Iraq, the politics of the UN (bribed France & Russia) would make continued sanctions untenable. More Blix inspections would (prolly) never find WMDs -- but it would never be credible to claim Saddam didn't have them. Only that the (Congo child-raping) "competent" UN didn't find them. Wink wink. If you're not going to use nukes anyway, just bluffing that you have them, believably, is as good having them with respect to local intimidation.

It's clear to me, but unprovable, that post-Afghan containment of Iraq was a sure path towards Libya and Iran; and Iraq, moving towards nukes. With NO credible threat to stop them -- and Libya far more advanced than our Bush-Clinton nearly neutered intel folks were saying (thanks to our realpolitik ally, dictator controlled nuclear Pakistan).

How do we know if we have too few troops? Too many American casualties. Intellectual cowards like Kimmitt and all anti-war Leftists refuse to put a number on how many that would be. I've said less than 2500 is an A -- at 1700 so far, Bush gets an A and the "too few" critique is proven wrong.

The implicit claim that more troops would have made "Iraqification" faster also seems false. Evidence from Vietnam shows plenty of troops means the locals abdicate responsibility to the American experts. The only Victory exit strategy is when locals accept responsibility, and authority. (My own critique of Bremer is that he didn't have more local elections sooner, and give authority, power, budget to locally elected mayors/ tribal chiefs.)

The success of terrorist murderers in Iraq has to be seen as a failure of Iraq, of the Iraqi gov't, and of the Iraqi Sunnis who prefer to protect the murderers rather than turn them in. The Kurds and Shi'a mostly think that, I think -- the Sunnis who are dying, and especially those afraid of dying, have to change their minds.

Still relevant is the issue of Fallujah, in April and November. In April 2004 I argued that waiting was better -- because of Harry Potter -- (no) Help for Iraqi People.

The troops are enough to win any "battle" -- therefore they are enough for a Liberation; but no number of US troops is enough for an Occupation, because an occupation army acts like the Chinese commies -- bluster in public, disappearance and torture in private; control based on death squads. America doesn't really do Occupation (and I don't want us to).

On Stalin-Hitler containment, it's too bad FDR accepted D-Day before pushing Stalin to agree to democracy in Eastern Europe. A LOT of US lives could have been saved if the US garrisoned England to stop invasion, finish off Japan (except invasion) on their own first, and let the Commie dictator defend his country from the Naxi dictator in a "nice" proxy war (like Iraq-Iran) -- every death reduces the army of the enemy of democracy. A D-Day in 1945 would have let the relatively fresh US-UK allied troops sweep Western Europe, and end later but with the US having tested the bomb and Russia even weaker.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at June 13, 2005 12:56 AM

Mika,

This is the key point where your argument goes off track - "The Soviets played Hitler into starting WWII". This is seriously wrong because it implies that there is some alternate reality where Hitler would not have started a war without Stalin's intervention. That is total nonsense. It is clear from Mein Kampf that Hitler had always intended to attack Poland, and he had always intended to grab the agricultural lands of Ukraine for Germany. Stalin certainly deserves blame for helping to start the war, but he didn't trick Hitler - he simply encouraged Hitler to follow through on what Hitler was planning to do anyway.

Posted by: Vanya at June 13, 2005 06:16 AM

"The Soviets played Hitler into starting WWII". This is seriously wrong because it implies that there is some alternate reality where Hitler would not have started a war without Stalin's intervention.

Hitler attacking the Soviets was a given. But he could have done that as part of a western anti Commie alliance. What Stalin succeeded in doing was turn Hitler against these natural allies. Hitler's intention was for a land grab to the East. It may have been propaganda, but the impression was that Hitler was rather admiring of the French and British and was rather reluctant to attack them. With Soviet encouragement he opened a front against the British and French. Now image had Hitler decided to attack the Soviets and the Soviets only. You would have had the Japanese attacked China, and the Russia instead of America. Germany would likely have enjoyed the support of France and Britain in that war, possibly even American support. Would we even have called that war WWII? The Soviets played Hitler into starting WWII.

Posted by: mika. at June 13, 2005 07:08 AM

Hitler did admire the British, but absolutely did NOT admire the French.

And you are forgetting that the French and British became involved in the war not becuase Hitler attacked them, but following the attack on Poland!! You need to look at the timelines a little more!

And Japan would never have attacked Russia instead of America; had they wanted to do so they would have done that instead of Pearl Harbor. Attacking Russia was just a minor, minor part of the Greater East Asian CO-Prosperity Sphere. The U.S./G.B./Australia/et al were the real opponents of Japan in the Pacific, not the Soviets. There was no pressure from Germany on them to attack Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 13, 2005 08:13 AM

"And you are forgetting that the French and British became involved in the war not becuase Hitler attacked them, but following the attack on Poland!!"

The Poles hated the Soviets. Hitler could have negotiated an alliance with them against Russia instead of the other way round.

"And Japan would never have attacked Russia instead of America"

HA! http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/romeo/russojapanese1904.htm

Japan never had the Naval muscles to take on the Americans. Even they knew that. Japan's real success was against China. With the Soviets preoccupied on their Western front with Hitler, Japan could have taken on the Soviets with a reasonable chance of success.

Posted by: mika. at June 13, 2005 08:38 AM

The only way the Poles could have negotiated an alliance with Hitler would have been if they had voluntarily given Hitler Dresden, the entire Baltic coast and every other square inch of land that had been German in 1918. No Polish government would have ever done that. And Hitler always had France in his sights - France had humiliated Germany in 1918.

Finally, the Japanese had a perfect opportunity to attack the Russians in June of 1941, yet they refused. Occupying China required a lot of manpower - they knew they did not have the resources to engage the USSR in a land war over 1000s of miles of hostile terrain. The Japanese high command took a calculated gamble that a quick strike would damage US morale enough to make us come to the table.

Posted by: Vanya at June 13, 2005 08:58 AM

"The only way the Poles could have negotiated an alliance with Hitler would have been if they had voluntarily given Hitler Dresden, the entire Baltic coast and every other square inch of land that had been German in 1918."

Hitler gets Kaliningrad, Klaipeda, Latvia, Estonia, access to the rest of Russia. Lithuania minus Baltic coast goes to Poland. I think that would have a workable solution.

Posted by: mika. at June 13, 2005 09:43 AM

that would have ^been a workable solution. (Sorry, too short on time to proofread).

Posted by: mika. at June 13, 2005 10:38 AM

How do we know if we have too few troops? Too many American casualties.

Er . . . no. We know if we have too few troops if even American soldiers are unable to accomplish their mission, which is the maintenence of basic order. Casualties have not been high enough to be relevant to the discussion of this particular mission, which is very large.

However, 1 casualty in service of a mission which was ill-conceived and which will eventually fail due to idiocy is 1 too many. That is my criticism.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 13, 2005 10:59 AM

Kimmitt,

Please send me the link to Shinseki's statements - I had never heard that particular criticism from him before and I would be interested to read it.

I would caution you not to invest abundant faith in that particular general. Yes, he was Army Chief of Staff and yes he put into motion some of the main components of the transformation that is happening to the Army today. However, he was, and is, a consumate cold warrior. Enough troops will never be enough to him; enough projection will never be enough to him. He still stands ready to defend the Fulda Gap against the Soviet Army...a clear sign of this was his career ending adherence to the Crusader artillery piece. Again, not saying he's wrong Kimmitt, but apply a grain of salt to his words.

I reject, subject to reading his words, any analysis that indicates we don't have the power to project necessary forces. Again, I would argue that we have projected the necessary force, but we certainly have the capacity to send more if needed. I stand behind the "less is more" approach to this war because of the reasons I cited above - vastly improved transportation at the most flexible level of tactical action, enhanced C3I, powerful combat multipliers like predator drones, precision munitions, and the like. Successful occupations throughout history have not been done by saturation, except in the short term. I would urge you to consider the British example throughout their history. They consistently occupied, pacified, and absorbed significantly larger native cultures into their empire with a relatively small standing Army. The keys to winning a fight like this is presence, intelligence (tactical and the more common kind), the will to endure, and the desire to assist the host nation in their development. I think we have done that very, very well.

Where are we failing? Does the presence of an opposition mean that we are failing? Does X number of suicide bombings in Y number of areas mean that we are failing? I have not heard you quantify that failure and I would be interested in your thoughts.

The truth is that the terrorists and their insurgent allies (they are two different groups) are operating in approximately three areas - regions of AlAnbar province (conviently close to Syria which might give one reason to ponder where their support is coming from); areas of Bagdad, a city of six million which is why it is ideal for their operations; and Kirkuk and Irbil, strategically close to the oil fields. If you think that seems like a relatively small area, you're right! They are significant areas, but the vast majority of that country is beginning to recover from its 30 year nightmare of facism and the rest will continue to follow in due course.

The final point that I will bring up is what has been coming out in the news the past couple of days. Some statistically significant number of insurgents (not terrorists) have begun to come forward and ask the Iraqi government for immunity and inclusion in the national body politic. Kimmitt, is that the sign of an enemy that is winning? If so, you have a vastly different understanding of warfare than I do.

I am not a polyanna. We have made signifcant and tremendous mistakes in the prosecution of this war. Fallujah part one comes to mind as a prime example. But I believe with every ounce of conviction that I possess that the young men and women who gave their lives for this fight did not do so in vain - this fight is winnable and I think that we have set ourselves on a course that will see that victory through.

PS - Still working on the pithiness!

Posted by: Christopher Nicolaus at June 13, 2005 03:47 PM

Here is a transcript of General Shinseki's remarks.

I'm not an expert on these issues by any stretch of the imagination, but when our soldiers are not capable of securing the road from the airport to the Green Zone, I tend to lean toward the experts who stated that we have too few soldiers in Iraq, rather than the experts who state that we do.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 13, 2005 08:21 PM

Some statistically significant number of insurgents (not terrorists) have begun to come forward and ask the Iraqi government for immunity and inclusion in the national body politic.

I'm pretty sure you aren't familiar with what "statistically significant" means.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 13, 2005 08:21 PM

How about in the USA? Do we have enough troops for,say Waco? Or Oklahoma City?

Nobody has enough troops to secure anywhere AND allow a reasonable level of comfortable, fairly private transportation AND secure that place continuously. Yours is a criteria deliberately chosen to allow you to claim US failure.

Thanks for nice link of 2003, Before Invasion, here's the Gen.:
"We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground-force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this."

We NEVER had "post-hostilities" control -- Saddam's army became terrorist murderers, without surrendering. [I now agree that Bush's "accomplished" was premature, 'cause the Iraqis were not ready.]

Yes, we do NOT have the troops for Occupation Control (without using death squad tactics, like ALL other Arab dictators use) -- we do have enough to win any battle, to Liberate any group of people in Iraq who want to be free AND are willing to pay the price of not tolerating terrorists.

Iraqis were not willing to pay for freedom then; nor do I think they were willing in April 2004 at Fallujah I. I think by Nov 2004, enough were.

The USA, alone, cannot change the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people -- but we can show an example of "best practices" available now. Including real mistakes and real procedures to correct them.

Plus, at some point, the deaths will be more and more blamed on the terrorists causing them, rather than the US which is just making sure the terrorists can't win any real battles.

(Setting up an unspoken Unreal Perfection standard that anybody would fail against certainly doesn't help)

On the other hand, the COST in $$$$$$$$ is huge, and Rumsfeld was prolly right to not allow any estimates. It's much higher than it needed to be because of too little use of Iraqis -- and too much corruption OF Iraqis as well as US profiteering and non-transparent tenders; and especially on the "big" projects started immediately.

It's really too bad Dems aren't demanding more public accountability, and especially systems that explicitly watch and publicize the reality of gov't spending. There's no reason that every gov't reconstruction check isn't available on-line for researching budgets and spending; in Iraq, in the UN, and in NYC.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at June 14, 2005 06:13 AM

Do we have enough troops for,say Waco? Or Oklahoma City?

Er, does it cost $10,000+ for an armed escort to get you from Waco to the nearest airport? This is an absurd question. Of course bad things are going to happen anywhere. The question is whether or not they are vaguely tamped down. I believe the answer is clear -- they are not.

Yours is a criteria deliberately chosen to allow you to claim US failure.

I'll thank you not to pretend to know my state of mind, sir.

Posted by: Kimmitt at June 14, 2005 11:18 AM

Kimmitt,

I accept your criticism of my choice of words - you are right that I used I that phrase without understanding the textbook definition - I should have simply said significant.

However, it appears to me that you exercise a different sort of hyperbole. You have boiled the entire effort of US and allied forces in Iraq to a single stretch of road. Its a powerful statement, I'll grant you that, but it is not indicative of what is occuring throughout that country.

You said it best - you'll lean towards the experts that say we have too few troops. I'll support the successful operation that is unfolding in Iraq.

Posted by: Christopher Nicolaus at June 14, 2005 03:29 PM

Its a powerful statement, I'll grant you that, but it is not indicative of what is occuring throughout that country.

I find that statement difficult to credit; I gave a specific example of a near-total failure on the part of our soldiers to accomplish their mission. What examples do you have of areas of Iraq which are peaceful and well-run, other than Kurdistan (which was fine before the invasion)? My understanding is that there are no areas of Iraq outside of Kurdistan with prewar levels of economic activity, much less pre-Gulf War, much less pre-Saddam.

The best we can say about the war so far is that while we made most of Iraq a much worse place to live, we did not manage to destroy the nascent democracy in the Kurdish areas.

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