May 14, 2007

iraqVietnamGraph.JPG

From Appeal for Courage. Hat tip: Instapundit.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 14, 2007 04:14 PM
Comments

Michael, thanks for posting this.

I've forwarded the AFC website to the message board for veterans of my old Marine unit - I know some of them are still Guard, Reserve, or have Active connections.

Posted by: Asher Abrams at May 14, 2007 05:42 PM

Not sure how relevant a lower mortality rate justifies the imbecility of either war. Glad the
Kurds have some sense, but the schismatic nature
of Iraq, in general, has proven the naysayers correct.

If we stay until the Iraqi Parliament gets back from their 2-month vacation, how many US troops will have died for their respite?

Posted by: Semanticleo at May 14, 2007 06:39 PM

It would be interesting to see the monthly dollar cost chart between Vietnam and Iraq. We've already spent more on Iraq , even using constant dollars, than we did on Vietnam.

That link resolves to a US Navy site in Baghdad, btw, Michael.

Isn't there a law against the U.S. military engaging in domestic propaganda?

Posted by: alphie at May 14, 2007 08:38 PM

The Russians lost way more sons and daughters in WW2 than in Afganistan...yet, they were humbled in Afganistan.

Mass death for stupid reasons always makes the numbers look bad.

Posted by: SomeOtherDude at May 14, 2007 09:13 PM

The Soviets weren't merely "humbled" in Afghanistan. They were all but destroyed by it.

Look. I don't think for an instant that we will be destroyed by a loss in Iraq. That's ridiculous. But if we lose in Iraq (which is exactly what would happen if we left now) it will seriously screw us (and Iraq) up. The first post-Bush president will have to deal with the aftermath.

I would take the "let's leave" people a lot more seriously if they would factor this into account and figure out a way to effectively deal with it. At least acknowledge that we will be trading one serious problem for another serious problem.

The war will not end. We will lose, and everyone who will be able to plausibly declare victory will escalate the war with each other.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 14, 2007 09:46 PM

I don't agree with this, but I have heard it often from dem's/con's/indy's in the last few months:

[What's wrong with the shite and sunni's killing each other? They are both your enemy. Who cares, fuck them, ROFL pwnt!]

Why are we going to bother with people who cannot even live near each other? How long are we going to put up with this, sorry about the stereotype, Arab tribal stupidity? If you can't stop killing each other the chances of a Democratic government lasting three elections are not very high.

Posted by: mikek at May 14, 2007 11:01 PM

Michael,
The problem with staying and staying and staying is that at some point in the next 12 to 18 months the US Army is going to break. Some personnel are onto their third tour.

There is a limit to what you can ask of soldiers (when national survival is not at stake) when a comparable level of sacrifice is not been asked of the home front (ref - no draft, budget deficit rising, tax cuts for the rich still happening).

The burden in pain of this war is falling on working class Americans (I am a Brit BTW) and in terms of the value of that last tax dollar the financial cost also falls on working and middle class Americans. How many of the wealthy class have sons and daughters in Uniform I wonder?
At least we are sending our royality! (and in little, vulnerable scimitar recce armour! Ouch. I feel for Harry - he has got serious balls though. Can you imagine a President's son out there sharing the risks? Go Wales!)

From this Brits POV the way the US is waging war right now looks more like an 18th century monarchy conducting itself then a mature democratic republic.

Anyway, back to work.

V interesting blog and writing BTW - v thought provoking.

TCH

Posted by: The Common Humanist at May 15, 2007 04:49 AM

You've really jumped the shark with this graph. Its irresponsible to compare deaths in Vietnam and Iraq without taking into account advances in medical treatment and military armor, equipment etc. Not to mention accounting for the the fact that Americans in Vietnam faced a much larger trained army that had the substantial backing of a military superpower, the Soviet Union.
I'm a supporter of the war(one of a small percentage of Europeans to do so), I don't think the USA should leave and I strongly believe America should build a permanent base in Kurdistan.
What brought down the Soviet Union and is bringing down this war is that the people running it favor loyalty and ideology over competance while tolerating corruption.
Frydek-Mistek

Posted by: frydek-mistek at May 15, 2007 06:15 AM

I have to agree w/ the first comments. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, any one of us has heard some news analyst or journalist compare the Iraq invasion w/ the Vietnam experience. Yet, when you show the comparable death tolls, the comparison suddenly stops and it suddenly becomes nothing like Vietnam.

Posted by: mantis at May 15, 2007 06:37 AM

Depending on how much one likes America, one could refer to this as better or worse than Vietnam, I guess.

"Kurds have some sense, but the schismatic nature
of Iraq, in general, has proven the naysayers correct."

I'm not sure the naysayers were nay about the schismatic nature of Iraq. Most of the naysayers seemed to have appeared after the fact.

France, Germany, and Russia were understandably against a war that would depose their business partner.

The schismatic nature of Iraq was well-known to both sides, and was taken into account by the proponents of Iraq's liberation. (Saddam's conduct with regards to Shi'ites was one of the reasons why he was seen as evil by neo-cons.)

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 15, 2007 06:57 AM

"You've really jumped the shark with this graph. Its irresponsible to compare deaths in Vietnam and Iraq without taking into account advances in medical treatment and military armor, equipment etc."

You might not be aware that the comparison was not made by Michael Totten, but by, if I remember correctly, some on the left who referred to Iraq as "worse than Vietnam". The graph shows that such a comparison is irresponsible indeed.

I guess that was the point.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 15, 2007 06:58 AM

But if we lose in Iraq (which is exactly what would happen if we left now) it will seriously screw us (and Iraq) up

Really? We already won years ago when we took out Saddam. We have also truly won in Kurdistan - that's an amazing story, and that should have been the end of the story. We can only "lose" now because we find ourselves committed to pursuing aims and goals the US doesn't need to pursue, is not equipped to pursue, and that most Americans are not interested in pursuing. Face it, to "win" on your terms requires a real effort, dedication and troop build-up that no potential American President, including McCain, Giuliani, Thompson and clearly the present one, is willing to commit to. If the Iraqis want Democracy, they will have to do it on their own. And Iraq is already screwed up well beyond measure - how many of the millions of doctors, professors, businessmen, writers and other educated people who have fled will ever come back? (or rise from the dead?) For someone like MT who is, admirably and unlike many warhawks I know, truly concerned about the fate of Iraqis, I would think the number of Iraqi civilians killed or made homeless vs. the number of South Vietnamese every year might be a better measure of success than American casualties. Saigon in 1970 was certainly a far nicer place to be than Baghdad in 2007.

Posted by: vanya at May 15, 2007 07:02 AM

Glorious war!

Posted by: FGFM at May 15, 2007 07:04 AM

Mr. Totten,

And just how do the numbers compare when calculating the number wounded? There are several large differences between this war and Vietnam. One of them being that in this war, our advances in both defense and medicine have saved far more lives than before. So comparing the death toll by itself is not telling you much.

Secondly, the Vietnam war was a proxy war, wherein the Vietnamese were fully supported by the Chinese and the Soviets.

Iran does not support the Sunni insurgents. Syria does not support the Sunni insurgents. Saudi Arabia does, but hey, they're our allies and all, so we give them a break, even though their actions are killing Americans. But hey they've got oil and all.

What I'm saying is that the insurgency in Iraq is not close to the strength of the North Vietnamese Army, which was quite well organized in comparison.

Finally, where the comparison to Vietnam is quite apt is that in both places the military brass were delusional and afraid to adapt. They were stuck on their traditions and rules (take for example the ridiculous notion of "not leaving anyone behind" which is currently completely undermining the "surge"), and not adapting to the enemy. The reason why both the North Vietnamese and now the Iraqi insurgents are so potent against us is that they've adapted and struck us at our weak points. We've hardly adapted, and as such we will lose, no matter how strong we are.

Posted by: Dan at May 15, 2007 07:04 AM

I would think the number of Iraqi civilians killed or made homeless vs. the number of South Vietnamese every year might be a better measure of success than American casualties. Saigon in 1970 was certainly a far nicer place to be than Baghdad in 2007.

During the Vietnam war, approximately 2 - 4 million civilians in the North and South were killed. And I'd guess that the Cambodia of the 70's was less pleasant than Baghdad is now.

Iran does not support the Sunni insurgents. Syria does not support the Sunni insurgents. Saudi Arabia does, but hey, they're our allies and all, so we give them a break, even though their actions are killing Americans. But hey they've got oil and all..
The reason why both the North Vietnamese and now the Iraqi insurgents are so potent against us is that they've adapted and struck us at our weak points. We've hardly adapted, and as such we will lose, no matter how strong we are.

Unfortunately, this is true. The fact that our government actaully believes that terror- supporting Saudis are our friends is proof that we've learned next to nothing about fighting insurgencies.

Posted by: mary at May 15, 2007 07:18 AM

Andrew Brehm,
Appeal for Courage obviously put it on their site to make a pro-war statement as did Michael Totten. Frankly, I don't care if these graphs are used by pro or anti war groups, simply graphing numbers of combat deaths that ignore uncountable variables is irresponsible. I don't care which side of the debate you're on.
Frydek-Mistek

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at May 15, 2007 07:39 AM

There is a limit to what you can ask of soldiers (when national survival is not at stake) when a comparable level of sacrifice is not been asked of the home front (ref - no draft, budget deficit rising, tax cuts for the rich still happening).

1) the US military is an all-volunteer force.

2) Despite all the cries of 'not enough troops', Congress has not authorized an increase in the size of the standing military since the post-9/11 increase of 30,000.

3) The US's budget defecit is shrinking, not growing. Current projections (which will not happen because Congress always finds new things to spend money on, but that's Congress' fault...) project a return to surpluses sometime between 2010 and 2012.

4) a big part of the reason the US economy is growing is because of economic stimulus partly attributable to... (wait for it...) the tax cuts. The one for everyone, not just the rich. You might want to tell Mr. Brown about this.

The burden in pain of this war is falling on working class Americans (I am a Brit BTW)...

I suggest getting your news about the US from a source other than the BBC. Google news would be a good start.

Posted by: rosignol at May 15, 2007 07:41 AM

...simply graphing numbers of combat deaths that ignore uncountable variables is irresponsible.

How do you graph 'uncountable variables'?

Posted by: rosignol at May 15, 2007 07:49 AM

I loved the Great Tax Cuts of WW1 & WW2...it showed the world we were serious!

"A splendid little war". (Salon.com)
Forget WWII or Vietnam. The real comparison for an invasion of Iraq is the Spanish-American War, when an aimless U.S. presidency and a lazy media looked for redemption.

Where Does Iraq Stand Among U.S. Wars? (Washington Post)
Total Casualties Compare to Spanish-American, Mexican and 1812 Conflicts

Back to the Spanish-American War of 1898? (New America Foundation)
A group of Americans dreamed of creating a U.S. empire. Their opening came with the mass death of Americans in a shocking event. Media sensationalism whipped public outrage into a war frenzy. The resulting war was a success, but the subsequent occupation was a failure. Michael Lind asks: Does this describe the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — or the Spanish-American War of 1898?

Iraq's Historical Predecessor
First, the most obvious similarity would be that Spain was accused of destroying the USS Maine, killing 262 Americans. The ship, blockading Spanish-owned Cuba at the time, was the source of much tension. Likewise, Iraq was accused of sponsoring terrorists, and producing weapons of mass destruction. Today, we understand that the USS Maine was not destroyed by the Spanish, just like today we understand that it is possible Iraq had no connection September 11th, and may not have actually been producing banned weapons, but rather was just in the research-and-development stage. Of course, there will be differences in these comparisons. It is still probable Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and may have had a role in helping Osama Bin Laden. Yet, in both cases, it is obvious that American intelligence gathering capabilities were not up-to-date, leading to unnecessary intelligence failures.

The second most obvious similarity between the two wars is the question of human rights. In both cases, the American people were greatly moved by talks of human rights violations. And in both cases, it led the United States to accurately predict that the oppressed people would become a treasured ally in the war—and in both cases, led us to underestimate the post-war era. The Spanish forces persecuted the Cuban people. A Spanish minority ran the Cuban majority. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein, a Sunni (a minority) also led over the majorities, which are the Kurds and the Shiites. The people did not defend either regime, leading to quick victories with relatively low casualties than earlier predicted.

Third, both Cuba and Iraq became protectorates. Rather than being annexed, the United States trumpeted that we would justly return independence to the countries once law and order was established. In both cases, guerilla warfare occurred, and as hostilities continued, the people grew less and less loyal to the American forces. Both Iraq and Cuba in the post-war era were controlled by American influence, while the actual domestic political situation was decided by the peoples themselves. This is a just thing to do, but it does not always bring about the outcome intended.

Iraq and the Spanish-American War: A Comparison Study (Polemic)
When one asks, “Why are we in Iraq?” the historical event that is most illuminating is the Spanish-American war. Like the Spanish-American war, the war in Iraq was a “release valve” for the pressures built up in the nation; like the Spanish-American war, ideological “yellow journalists” greased public sentiment to facilitate a conflict of choice, not necessity. The other historical situation that is telling of our current problems is the Western European power’s reaction to Hitler’s saber rattling in the late 1930’s. While today the Europeans are chided for appeasing Hitler, their true folly is not being able to comprehend and prepare for a new kind of enemy capable of fighting a new kind of war. Sadly, our leaders have already made a similar mistake in the fight against terrorism.

Why Americans May Grow Impatient with the War in Iraq
How do presidents decide for war? In the March issue of Presidential Studies Quarterly, editor George Edwards and I adopted a historical approach, asking experts on various past wars to analyze the decision-making process that preceded each of those conflicts. Five wars were chosen: the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

The Spanish-American War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War can fairly be described as “discretionary” wars for the United States. In advance of these conflicts, American territory was not attacked or directly threatened, and American lives were endangered only incidentally. By contrast, the two world wars were “non-discretionary,” in that American lives or territory (or both) came under direct attack. For this reason—among others—the Spanish-American War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War generated considerable controversy in the weeks surrounding the president's decision for war, while American belligerence in the two world wars was comparatively noncontroversial.

The Uprising (Strategic Insights, Volume II, Issue 9)
The American readiness to believe in an Iraqi uprising was undoubtedly driven as much by political as by military considerations. Anyone contemplating the turmoil of the current occupation may well feel that, had the Iraqi people actually risen up against Saddam, some of the problems the United States and its allies now face in restoring order might have been mitigated. Still, one should not be too quick to assume that, had Iraq been liberated by Iraqis and Americans fighting side by side, the results would necessarily have been conducive to mutual trust and understanding. America's first venture in overseas intervention was conducted on just such a basis, with disappointing results for all concerned.

In 1898 the United States intervened in a war then underway in Cuba, by which indigenous revolutionary forces sought to wrest control of that island from its colonial master, Spain. Three years of fighting had produced inconclusive results, but significant casualties and much damage to Cuba's economy. American opinion favored the insurgents, owing to long-standing American dislike of European imperialism, and perhaps an instinctive preference for the underdog in a fight. It would at any rate be on that basis—as a campaign to liberate Cuba from Spain—that war would be justified to the American public. This point of view was embodied in the Congressional declaration of war itself, which included a proviso that affirmed Cuba's rightful freedom and independence, and disclaimed "any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over [the] island except for the pacification thereof."

----------------------

We have children running this war on wet dreams.

Posted by: SomeOtherDude at May 15, 2007 08:34 AM

Thanks Michael,

How can it be irresponsible to repeat a fact? Are facts irresponsible? I thought knowledge is a good thing. Is it not? Is this the mindset of those who oppose the war?

Posted by: JBP at May 15, 2007 09:08 AM

JBP,
If its my "irresponsible", comment you are referring to, you might note I'm not an opponent of the war.
But if you're going to make a responsible argument for(or against) the war, simply graphing combat deaths of wars America has fought in is meaningless. Yes, there were more combat deaths in Vietnam than in Iraq in the same time period. Does that mean there hasn't been incompetance by the Bush administration in handling post-Saddam Iraq. Does that mean there hasn't been criminal mismanagement and corruption in rebuilding Iraq? Does that mean Iraqi politicians seem incapable of governing their country?
The pro war side(my side) simply has to come up with better arguments than worthless graphs and blaming the media, or the American public will force a withdrawl.
Frydek-Mistek

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at May 15, 2007 09:33 AM

Rosignol,

This is not an arguing point, but the puny economic stimulus of tax cuts were infintessimal compared to the monetary and credit expansion of the Fed (printing dollars as needed), and most all of the world's central banks. Plus, the US is growing at the slowest real rate in decades. And that's not even considering the airbrushing of inflation stats, employment numbers, off the books liabilities. Politicians are pikers when it comes to spin compared to govt bureaucracies, especially the economists. As an investor/trader I gotta find out the real numbers best I can. And as the huge tax revenues from the real estate bubble fall off as the bubble implodes, the only thing that will help keep the budget deficit from increasing again is another bubble (but what?) or spending cuts (ha ha). Everyone does understand that our total tax revenues do not cover our ongoing operating expenses and debt service, right? Then there's that pesky trade deficit thing...

Posted by: allan at May 15, 2007 09:59 AM

Frydek-Mistek: Does that mean there hasn't been incompetance by the Bush administration in handling post-Saddam Iraq. Does that mean there hasn't been criminal mismanagement and corruption in rebuilding Iraq? Does that mean Iraqi politicians seem incapable of governing their country?

I didn't say or suggest any of those things. It's just a data point without commentary.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2007 10:53 AM

I wonder how the casualties of WWII compare to the Vietnam war. And would that imply something?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 15, 2007 11:03 AM

For heavens sake!
All MJT did was post a graph, the factual veracity of which is not in question. He did not opine on the meaning or implications of the graph.
It is what it is.

Posted by: lindsey at May 15, 2007 12:03 PM

"Appeal for courage" isn't just a data point, it's a slogan.

And as the home page for that site is blank, someone in the US Navy must have sent the direct link to insta in the hopes he'd propagate it...unless he's psychic, of course.

Posted by: alphie at May 15, 2007 12:21 PM

alphie: "Appeal for courage" isn't just a data point, it's a slogan.

So, should I be a fraudulent jerk and take appealforcourage.org off the graph they created? In other words, should I have stolen it?

Or is the graph's date invalid because of who designed it?

The Chinese have a saying: The finger points at the moon, and the idiot looks at the finger.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2007 12:34 PM

The finger points at the moon and the wiseman checks to see if his wallet is still in his pocket.

A graph put out by the US Navy with a pro war slogan on it isn't a neutral presentation of data.

Posted by: alphie at May 15, 2007 12:46 PM

It's just a data point without commentary.

Come on. That's ridiculous. Have the courage of your convictions. You know very well what the point of the graph is supposed to be. You can't be that naive. It's pretty obvious what ol' Instapundit reads into it. The very act of comparing Iraq to Vietnam is a political statement for both lefties and righties.

Posted by: vanya at May 15, 2007 12:57 PM

Are you contesting the data, Alphie? Would the data be different if you or I made the graph ourselves?

If the data is accurate, that's good enough for me and for most other people. I really can't be bothered by the (supposed) fact that the data comes from the US Navy. I have a high opinion of the Navy even if you do not.

You are not going to convince me that military data that comes from the military is invalid because it comes from the military. It's a lame non-argument that flies in the face of science and reason.

Only if the data is wrong would you have an argument. But then, it would be a different argument.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2007 01:00 PM

What exactly is the point of posting this, Michael? Just a random factoid? Or is there a message?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 15, 2007 01:07 PM

Vanya: The very act of comparing Iraq to Vietnam is a political statement for both lefties and righties.

Why do you have to politicize everything? The numbers are what they are.

Everyone knows I don't advocate a withdrawal from Iraq. I'm not hiding behind this data, I'm just publishing it. My opinions are known to everyone who reads this blog, but I don't need to harrangue readers with my opinion every time I hit "publish." I prefer not to do that because I'm tired of arguing and I know it turns people off.

Iraq is constantly compared to Vietnam, and not by me. I wouldn't have published this graph at all if it weren't already a common perception. This provides a bit of perspective we don't hear or see very often. You can rail against data all you want, but I think it's silly unless the data is wrong.

I'm reading The Fall of Baghdad by anti-war leftie Jon Lee Anderson -- who showed up in Baghdad wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt. He doesn't harrangue his readers with opinionated screeds, he mostly just writes what he knows, saw, and heard in Iraq even though he also makes his point of view known so we can take it into account. His book is better for that, and I try to do that myself as much as I can.

If an anti-war leftie published a graph of, say, Iraqi civilian casualties in Iraq, I wouldn't complain if the data were accurate. I would like to see such an (accurate) graph myself.

This is truly a silly argument. I published accurate data and got pounced on for it -- as if some data is okay to publish and other data is, because it's inconvenient to your opinion, taboo.

The only reasonable points I have seen here are Frydek's about advanced battlefield medicine and DPU's comparison of Vietnam casualties to WWII casualties.

You are Alphie are just making noise.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2007 01:16 PM

DPU: What exactly is the point of posting this, Michael?

Perspective. That is all, and that's why I didn't add commentary.

I can make an argument about why we should stay in Iraq any time I feel like it.

What I'm doing instead (and this is why I haven't published much original material lately) is writing a very long essay for a quarterly magazine about what I think is a viable Plan B for Iraq. I suspect many lefties will agree and lots of conservatives won't. You can read it when it gets published.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2007 01:19 PM

This is not an arguing point, but the puny economic stimulus of tax cuts were infintessimal compared to the monetary and credit expansion of the Fed (printing dollars as needed), and most all of the world's central banks. Plus, the US is growing at the slowest real rate in decades.

Completely untrue. Merely printing more dollars has little effect on the economy besides increasing inflation. The US GDP has undergone significant and steady growth for some time now- certainly higher than the recessions we've experienced in the past couple of decades.

I understand that you want the economy to be in bad shape in order to advance your political views, but that's simply not the case- inflation has been kept in check, unemployment numbers are very low, GDP continues to climb, and the Dow is over 13,000. The Europeans would kill for the growth and unemployment numbers we've had.

Posted by: Hollowpoint at May 15, 2007 01:27 PM

Hey MJT - fancy allowing facts to get in the way of a good argument!

Posted by: mertel at May 15, 2007 01:49 PM

Very interesting graph, Michael. It is causing me to rethink some of the biases I seem to have acquired from the media and politicians.

Posted by: Rene at May 15, 2007 01:50 PM

Dan & others,

Iran does indeed support Sunni insurgents and Shia militias. The US encountered Sunni AQ terrorists near the Iranian border in Diyala province in the company of Iranian agents. Many times, the US military has found Sunni terrorists with Iranian made weapons, including IEDs.

Posted by: Kenneth at May 15, 2007 01:50 PM

Michael,

Leaving aside the provenance and framing of the data, could you link to something that claims our casualties in Iraq are higher on a monthly basis than they were in Vietnam?

I've seen comparisons between the cost of the Vietnam and Iraq wars ($515 billion vs $550 billion and climbing).

I've seen comparisons between the length of the Vietnam and Iraq wars (8 years vs 4 years and climbing).

I've seen comparisons between the weak governments we support (Nguyen Van Thieu vs. Nouri al-Maliki).

I have never seen a claim that your chart would counter.

Posted by: alphie at May 15, 2007 02:58 PM

The right-wing nationalists of the United States are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. I suspect the next time Saudi-funded Bin Laden slaughters 3000 Americans; we'll be going after Islamofacistliberalcommunist in Syria.

Posted by: SomeOtherDude at May 15, 2007 03:01 PM

Oh and lets not forget how much the United States pays Pakistan to protect the Suadi-funded Bin-Laden.

Posted by: SomeOtherDude at May 15, 2007 03:04 PM

Alphie: our casualties in Iraq are higher on a monthly basis than they were in Vietnam

If the casualties are lower on a yearly basis over time, they can't be higher on a monthly basis over time. This is straight math, Alphie.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2007 03:06 PM

Indeed it is, Michael.

I just asked if you could point out someone who had made the clam.

Posted by: alphie at May 15, 2007 03:14 PM

I haven't seen that claim, no.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2007 03:17 PM

"The right-wing nationalists of the United States are not the sharpest knives in the drawer."

Indeed they are not. However, you will find that American nationalists, David Duke and the like, very much oppose George Bush and the Iraq war, and have aligned themselves with the Syrian Nazis (Baathists). That was not surprising, but please be careful whom you are associating with "right-wing nationalism".

A patriot is not a "right-wing nationalist" and while I agree that right-wing nationalism is an evil ideology, I also insist that it is not automatically the philosophy assigned to whomever you disagree with, particularly when I find you on their, the nationalists', side for whatever reason.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 15, 2007 03:44 PM

Does the cost of the Iraq war include the cost of rebuilding the country? Did the cost of the Vietnam war?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 15, 2007 03:47 PM

Remember when Michael blogged about the Michael Oren book, "Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776-Present"?

The book describes America's interactions with the middle east, starting with America's military conflicts against the Barbary pirates in 1770-1790.

If you learn one lesson from 230 years of US interaction with the middle east, it should be that for the US to retreat from the middle east would be an absolute, unmitigated disaster. Its allies would see it as weak and would adhere to whoever seemed strongest (most brutal), or they would be ousted by people associated with its enemies. This seismic shift would not be restricted to Iraq. Just as the US's disastrous mistakes with Iran led to a surge of Islamist activity over the subsequent period, so a retreat from a shattered Iraq would result in another, much greater surge of Islamist extremist activity.

Should the US have invaded Iraq? No. But once it was done, it was too late to simply stop and run away. It is FAR too late for that today. The US CANNOT run away now without stabilizing the place; the consequences of doing so would be absolutely disastrous for America's friends in the region, for its friends on the continent, and ultimately, for the US itself.

The people on the left who want the US to leave are ignoring the consequences in their desire to defeat the obnoxious Mr. Bush. But the consequences will not ignore THEM.

Posted by: Zvi at May 15, 2007 07:18 PM

Andrew Brehm,

Today's Republican Party is primarily a political organization made up of, at best right-wing statists, at worse right-wing nationalists.

Posted by: SomeOtherDude at May 15, 2007 08:41 PM

As somebody who signed the Appeal For Courage petition, I would like to take issue with several of the comments posted about the effort. Appeal For Courage is a petition by servicemembers respectfully requesting that Congress keep faith with the war effort.

All of the over 3,000 people who have signed the petition are servicemembers. The majority of them, by a substantial number, have served a tour in Iraq. I have only visited Iraq twice in the last year, but I have not deployed there with my unit. (I really would have loved to have several people from my unit with me when Michael and I went to Kirkuk last month...and my issued M-16A3 that I've sighted in.)

Nevertheless, the comment that the Army will be broken in 12-18 months is laughable in the face of this poll. (As a sailor, I will withold comment on the brokenness of the Army as a baseline. Their valor has earned a respite from traditional interservice rivalrly.) Most of the respondents of this poll calling for sustained commitment are soldiers. Q.E.D. The Army is not that broken.

If you are looking for broken militaries, I suggest you look at Europe.

The poll is not military propaganda in the way that the conspiracy fetishists mean the term. Calling anything coming from the US military propaganda currently approaches the absurd. Our public relations commands in the military are excruciatingly ineffective. If our combat training was as bad as our public relations execution, casualties would dwarf the Civil War numbers. The only bright point about US military public relations is this effort that is headed by a Navy officer...on his own time.

For the people who like to spend a lot of time on the Internet downloading the hottest, steamiest conspiracy horsecrap, please note the actual results of the petition. Only about 3,000 servicemembers have signed it. If this was something directed by the military, instead of created despite it, wouldn't the numbers be a little higher. Maybe 100-200 times higher? Wouldn't you expect at least twice as many if it was directed by even one Army division?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 15, 2007 08:56 PM

Someotherdude, I didn't bother reading your links because I don't care about them or you, but why would you or your jackass friends compare Iraq to Cuba? If you are going to compare it to anything try the Philippines ya retard.

Posted by: mikek at May 15, 2007 09:16 PM

Metrics people...

I daresay displaying this graph (sans the editorial) absolutely has a point.

Maybe a rebuttal to those who seem to use a terribly wrong set of metrics (body count enthusiasts). The graph shows false analogy. The lack of op-ed, maybe not to dignify the use of such metrics in the first place...?

Just a guess...I guess.

Posted by: anuts at May 15, 2007 09:27 PM

This is truly a silly argument. I published accurate data and got pounced on for it -- as if some data is okay to publish and other data is, because it's inconvenient to your opinion, taboo.

It's not silly, it is one of the essential tactics of the anti-war left. Facts shall be evaluated on the basis of their political usefulness. Useful facts will be invented as necessary and repeated ad nauseam, useless facts are ignored, and facts that contradict the agenda get stuffed down the memory hole, and those who promote contradictory facts are attacked for doing so.

Posted by: rosignol at May 15, 2007 11:36 PM

Iraq is constantly compared to Vietnam, and not by me

Please, you are being completely disingenuous. The data you have presented is factual, but it's only meaningful as a political point. Whether or not US military deaths in Iraq are higher or lower than deaths in Vietnam is completely irrelevant to the real success of the US mission in Iraq. If the mission is pointless than 5 deaths are too many, if the mission is worthwhile than maybe it requires more sacrifice. You could compare US deaths in the Spanish-American War, Russian deaths in Afghanistan, Roman soldiers deaths in 1st century Gaul, whatever you want. It would all be factual, but not necessarily meaningful. Facts need to have context.

I published accurate data and got pounced on for it -- as if some data is okay to publish and other data is, because it's inconvenient to your opinion, taboo.

Again you're twisting things. I am not pouncing on you for posting the chart, and I don't find the data inconvenient, just not terribly meaningful for measuring our success in Iraq. It is certainly a useful chart for putting things in perspective. I am pouncing on you for claiming you're just "putting it out there" when clearly you're selectively providing data to contradict the left wing view that Iraq is as bad for the US military as Vietnam. I have no problem with you supporting your opinions with facts, I just find that whole Instapundit tactic of "hey, I'm just throwing you the link, doesn't mean I have any opinion on this matter" as ridiculous as the MSM claims of "objectivity." Everyone has an agenda, let's be open about it.

Posted by: vanya at May 16, 2007 12:07 AM

Anyway, looking forward to your Plan B. Should be interesting.

Posted by: vanya at May 16, 2007 12:24 AM

Vanya: Whether or not US military deaths in Iraq are higher or lower than deaths in Vietnam is completely irrelevant to the real success of the US mission in Iraq.

Agreed. I didn't say this graph means we are succeeding. I'm pessimistic about our prospects now, actually, and have said so on the main page and when I've been interviewed. I just don't think the situation is as bad as some people think it is.

Everyone has an agenda, let's be open about it.

Everyone who reads this blog knows my views of Iraq/Lebanon/Israel etc. I have never tried to hide my point of view or pretend I believe something I don't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 16, 2007 12:34 AM

"Today's Republican Party is primarily a political organization made up of, at best right-wing statists, at worse right-wing nationalists."

On what facts do you base that claim?

The belief that Arabs are capable of democracy and support for Israel are not nationalist policies.

Replacing dictators with (unstable) democracies is not a right-wing statist policy.

And neo-cons, especially George Bush, seems to be hated by (real) nationalists like David Duke.

Since American nationalists and Syrian nationalists seem to like each other and are in agreement about their position towards George Bush and the current Republicans, what makes you say that the Republicans are "right-wing nationalists"?

I say they are not because their policies are not nationalist and they are opposed by right-wing nationalists in America and among the enemies.

Why do you say that they are right-wing nationalists?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 16, 2007 12:39 AM

SomeOtherDude,

I also don't appreciate the way you state something ridiculously unsupported as if it was some sort of educational fact for the stupid.

If you cannot back up your statements with facts or arguments, don't make them; or at least make it more clear that you understand that they are your opinion and not unquestioned fact.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 16, 2007 12:41 AM

TCH,

The burden in pain of this war is falling on working class Americans (I am a Brit BTW) and in terms of the value of that last tax dollar the financial cost also falls on working and middle class Americans.

Working class is middle class, here. That's just an FYI. At the lower end of Middle-Class, but middle-class nonetheless.

How many of the wealthy class have sons and daughters in Uniform I wonder?

The US military is an exact cross-section of US demographics. SO, whatever you consider to be wealthy, take that same percentage and you'll find it roughly approximated in the US military.

I'm pretty sure you can find these stats online, if you don't wanna take people's word for it. I'm from a Middle Class/Upper Middle Class background and I spent 6 years in the US Marines, as an enlisted man in the infantry. I had a Congressman's son in my squad :)

I don't know how these stereotypes get started. There may have been a time when it was true, but judging by how often I hear the same thing now, when it's clearly NOT true, I'm guessing it may have been a bit of misinformation in the past, too.

Posted by: Craig at May 16, 2007 02:46 AM

Vanya,

I am not pouncing on you for posting the chart, and I don't find the data inconvenient, just not terribly meaningful for measuring our success in Iraq.

I don't think anybody (at least anybody I know) is talking about success in Iraq, anymore. So, I read the chart as measuring our "degree of failure" to use your term. And maybe an indicator for how much longer we can give the Iraqis to put something stable together, even if it's not anything like what we hoped for. I think (personally) that it's going to be a bloodbath if we pull out of Iraq leaving it as it is now.

By the way, I also agree with the earlier commenter when he said we won years ago. We did. It is the nation building that has failed. The war was a spectacular success.

Posted by: Craig at May 16, 2007 02:56 AM

This is fascinating. Leftists try to compare Iraq with Vietnam for some reason. You have shown that there is no comparison. Thanks.

Posted by: farouk al-hadid at May 16, 2007 03:28 AM

I don't know how these stereotypes get started.

It's another case of the lefties thinking Iraq is Viet Nam Part Deux and pulling arguing points out of a playbook that's several decades out of date.

Back in the 60s and 70s, the rich people either got college deferments or pulled strings to get the least dangerous assignment possible. Obviously, if Iraq is just like Viet Nam, that kind of thing must still be going on.

Posted by: rosignol at May 16, 2007 04:57 AM

It's amusing to see the self-righteous scrabbling by those who are normally very enthusiastic when it comes to drawing Iraq/Vietnam parallels.

Apparently when a comparison, without commentary, appears to paint Iraq in colours other than deepest black, they are driven to the very pinnacle of indignation.

How dare you, Totten. How very dare you, for your off-message fact-based impudence.

Posted by: commenter at May 16, 2007 06:39 AM

The label is the commentary, com.

If you looked at a map of the Middle East and saw Israel labeled as "Occupied Palestine," would you consider the map to be "accurate data published without commentary" or "propaganda?"

Posted by: alphie at May 16, 2007 08:11 AM

more data:

http://www.slate.com/id/2111432/

Posted by: novakant at May 16, 2007 08:40 AM

Andrew Brehm,

The Right-Wing nationalist of Spain, took support from Hitler, and then stayed out of WW2, as long as the US let Franco alone. Reagan supported Right-Wing nationalists (Like Hussein) in the ME as long as they crushed their leftist organizations within their countries. The US has a long history of supporting fascists in the Third world so that they may eliminate “commies”

Abacha, General Sani ----------------------------Nigeria
Amin, Idi ------------------------------------------Uganda
Banzer, Colonel Hugo ---------------------------Bolivia
Batista, Fulgencio --------------------------------Cuba
Bolkiah, Sir Hassanal ----------------------------Brunei
Botha, P.W. ---------------------------------------South Africa
Branco, General Humberto ---------------------Brazil
Cedras, Raoul -------------------------------------Haiti
Cerezo, Vinicio -----------------------------------Guatemala
Chiang Kai-Shek ---------------------------------Taiwan
Cordova, Roberto Suazo ------------------------Honduras
Christiani, Alfredo -------------------------------El Salvador
Diem, Ngo Dihn ---------------------------------Vietnam
Doe, General Samuel ----------------------------Liberia
Duvalier, Francois --------------------------------Haiti
Duvalier, Jean Claude-----------------------------Haiti
Fahd bin'Abdul-'Aziz, King ---------------------Saudi Arabia
Franco, General Francisco -----------------------Spain
Hitler, Adolf ---------------------------------------Germany
Hassan II-------------------------------------------Morocco
Marcos, Ferdinand -------------------------------Philippines
Martinez, General Maximiliano Hernandez ---El Salvador
Mobutu Sese Seko -------------------------------Zaire
Noriega, General Manuel ------------------------Panama
Ozal, Turgut --------------------------------------Turkey
Pahlevi, Shah Mohammed Reza ---------------Iran
Papadopoulos, George --------------------------Greece
Park Chung Hee ---------------------------------South Korea
Pinochet, General Augusto ---------------------Chile
Pol Pot---------------------------------------------Cambodia
Rabuka, General Sitiveni ------------------------Fiji
Montt, General Efrain Rios ---------------------Guatemala
Salassie, Halie ------------------------------------Ethiopia
Salazar, Antonio de Oliveira --------------------Portugal
Somoza, Anastasio Jr. --------------------------Nicaragua
Somoza, Anastasio, Sr. -------------------------Nicaragua
Smith, Ian ----------------------------------------Rhodesia
Stroessner, Alfredo -----------------------------Paraguay
Suharto, General ---------------------------------Indonesia
Trujillo, Rafael Leonidas -----------------------Dominican Republic
Videla, General Jorge Rafael ------------------Argentina
Zia Ul-Haq, Mohammed ----------------------Pakistan

I suspect the right-wing nationalists within the Bush admin. are looking for a compliant right-wing nationalist, again...American nationalists are very predictable.

Posted by: SomeOtherDude at May 16, 2007 08:58 AM

"SomeOtherDude"

So you found a list of dictators somewhere and have decided that they are all "right-wing nationalists" and were supported by the US, which obviously means that George Bush is a "right-wing nationalist" as well.

And again you pretend that your opinion is a commonly-accepted fact. It might surprise you to learn that I do not consider Hassan II a fascist; nor do I believe you that the US helped Hitler. (In fact, growing up in occupied West-Berlin, I remember history differently. Half of the city was occupied by the communists the US collaborated with to remove the fascist. Isn't it ironic?)

It is interesting that you bring up the Shah. Do you know that he came to power with American and British help in order to make sure than Iran would NOT ally with Germany and instead allow for American goods to reach the Soviet Union safely?

Haile Sellasie, a fascist? Do you even know who Haile Sellassie was and what he did? Do you know his famous speech?

Hassan II was King of Morocco and decidedly not a nationalist. In fact his rejection of Arab nationalism went far enough to keep channels open with Israel and to protect the Jews in Morocco. To this day a Jewish community exists in Morocco.

Haile Sellasie... a fascist leader supported by the US. Unbelievable... You should be ashamed of yourself for insulting such a great man, you really should.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 16, 2007 09:28 AM

Some more facts:

"...the United States now spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined..." See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States

Some questions:

Why do so many of Americans appear eager to lose? Why does Bush allow Syria and Iran to kill our soldiers without suffering consequences? If those nations paid a price, would the insurgency dry up?

Posted by: JBP at May 16, 2007 09:28 AM

"If you looked at a map of the Middle East and saw Israel labeled as "Occupied Palestine," would you consider the map to be "accurate data published without commentary" or "propaganda?""

I would assume that the UN, who are not anti-Semites, have forgotten one of their member states again when they displayed the map.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 16, 2007 09:29 AM

SomeOtherDude,

The British East India Company were a bunch of brutal jerks, too. Who cares? We are talking about different times with different national agendas.

We are not now fighting a Cold War against a nuclear armed imperialist aggressor. We are fighting a hot war against a suicide bomber armed aggressor.

Bringing the boogeymen out of the grave to frighten the children is fine on halloween. In a discussion about current events it is a lot like bringing out a 1957 Chevy Bel Air to discuss current GM fuel economy and safety standards. We don't produce that model anymore, nobody in the engineering department designed that model, and we aren't trying to sell it either. Once upon a time we were very proud of that model, now we have no interest in producing an updated version. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevy_Bel_Air

Continue to rail against our obsolete models all you want. It is not what we are doing today.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 16, 2007 09:42 AM

could you link to something that claims our casualties in Iraq are higher... than they were in Vietnam?

ahhh.... how about these gloomy predictions, alphie:


Troops in Iraq Killed at Rates Approaching Vietnam War-Era Levels

It would be far worse than Vietnam

Why Iraq could be worse than Vietnam

Iraq is even deadlier for US forces than Vietnam

our own nation and Iraq would both suffer casualties not witnessed since Vietnam

Posted by: mertel at May 16, 2007 09:53 AM

Alphie: "If you looked at a map of the Middle East and saw Israel labeled as "Occupied Palestine," would you consider the map to be "accurate data published without commentary" or "propaganda?"

Since Israel is a country, I would say that's propaganda.

I would also say a map showing the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza as "Israeli territory" or "Greater Israel" is propaganda.

A map that showed Israel and the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank separately, I would I say that was an accurate map.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 16, 2007 10:04 AM

Andrew Brehm,

I would agree with you, not all Right-Wing nationalists are fascists…most right-wing nationalists are a few terrorist attacks away from becoming full fledge fascists, however the extant of the brutality of particular right-wing nationalists, never stopped many American nationalists.

If many American nationalists are using metrics that claim Iran is supporting Sunni insurgents or that France and Russia supported Hussein…well then I suspect by those same metrics the US supported Hitler.

As German bombs fell on London and Nazi tanks rolled over US troops, Sosthenes Behn president and founder of the US based ITT corporation, met with his German representative to discuss improving German communication systems. ITT was designing and building Nazi phone and radio systems as well as supplying crucial parts for German bombs. Our government knew all about this, for under a presidential order, US companies were licensed to trade with the Nazis. The choice of who would be licensed was odd, though. While the Secretary of State gave the Ford Motor Company permission to make Nazi tanks, he simultaneously blocked aid to German-Jewish refugees because the US wasn't supposed to be trading with the enemy. Other US companies trading with the Third Reich were General Motors, DuPont, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Davis Oil Co., and the Chase National Bank. President Roosevelt did not stop them, fearing a scandal might lead to another stock market crash or lower US moral. Besides, the same companies that traded with Hitler were supplying the US with its armaments, and some corporate leaders threatened to withdraw their support if Roosevelt exposed them. Henry Ford was a good friend of Hitler's. His book -- The International Jew -- had Inspired Hltler's Mein Kampf. The Fuhrer kept Ford's picture in his office, and Ford was one of only four foreigners to receive Germany's highest civilian award. As for Sosthenes Behn, at the end of the war, he received the highest civilian award for service to his country -- the United States of America.

It is no wonder that most of the world believes the Soviets defeated NAZI Germany and the US protected Western Europe from Soviet Imperialism.

American exceptionalism and the use of mass death to spread "democracy" (or what ever political theories are fashionable among the elite of the American Nationalists today) resembles the brutality of German and Roman Imperialism.

Posted by: SomeOtherDude at May 16, 2007 11:13 AM

"I would agree with you, not all Right-Wing nationalists are fascists…most right-wing nationalists are a few terrorist attacks away from becoming full fledge fascists,"

Am I talking to a wall? Where did you read that? In my opinion all right-wing nationalists are fascists, at least when they implement their ideology. It's just that George Bush simply isn't a right-wing nationalist and is indeed vehemently opposed by right-wing nationalists, at home and abroad.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 16, 2007 11:33 AM

"If many American nationalists are using metrics that claim Iran is supporting Sunni insurgents or that France and Russia supported Hussein…well then I suspect by those same metrics the US supported Hitler."

I suggest that that depends on whether there was/is actual support and has very little to do with your opinion of who is a right-wing nationalist and who is not.

The US fought Hitler and did not give him weapons.

But Sunni "insurgents" are using Iranian weapons, so presumably there is some connection there. I doubt Iraqi Sunnis bought these weapons from Iran before the invasion.

"It is no wonder that most of the world believes the Soviets defeated NAZI Germany and the US protected Western Europe from Soviet Imperialism."

It is indeed no wonder. You see, many people know history better than you do. I, for example, grew up in a city surrounded by Soviet land mines and American troops ready to defend the city against an attack. In fact, as a child I played Baseball with American soldiers in the barracks.

http://www.western-allies-berlin.com/installations/barracks/mc-nair/mc-nair

I lived a few miles north of that location. So if you are trying to spread your ignorance, try somebody else. I cannot believe that there was no Soviet imperialism we needed protection from, because I grew up surrounded by the Soviet empire. And I cannot believe that the US didn't protect me because I played Baseball with the troops that protected me.

And I can also assure you that the Soviets did indeed defeat Nazi Germany. I saw the defeated Germany and I saw the Soviet-enforced government in East Germany that replaced the Nazi government. They clearly defeated the Nazis and did what they wanted afterwards.

"American exceptionalism and the use of mass death to spread "democracy" (or what ever political theories are fashionable among the elite of the American Nationalists today) resembles the brutality of German and Roman Imperialism."

We will talk about that once you point me to the mass graves and concentration camps the Americans would require in Iraq to "resemble" German imperialism.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 16, 2007 11:43 AM

American exceptionalism and the use of mass death to spread "democracy" (or what ever political theories are fashionable among the elite of the American Nationalists today) resembles the brutality of German and Roman Imperialism.

Sounds clever, but not quite right. Remove your blinkers and you'll find that those employing the deliberate and remorseless tactic of "mass death" in Iraq are the ones doing everything to prevent the establishment of a stable democracy.

And yes, you're quite right, they do resemble the brutality of German and Roman imperialists. Except in this case it's an Islamic empire they are unashamedly fighting for.

Posted by: mertel at May 16, 2007 12:31 PM

Andrew,

And Roman soldiers protected some “good” Gauls from the “barbarian” Gauls. Empires are, by their nature, anti-republican and virtually anti-democratic. The American Empire did not protect some “good” Germans (while slaughtering millions of third-world people) out of the goodness of their hearts.

Tribal loyalties should not blind some to the horrible nature Imperial adventures. The United States supported militias that slaughtered many family members in Central America, to bad they were not graced with such wonderful baseball games the Germans enjoyed. White people do tend to treat each other differently. Socialists were allowed, by America, to grow in Western Europe while being crushed in the third-world.

Roman soldiers would claim they brought “civilization” to Palestine by bringing technology and defending them from “other” outsiders. Of course, after slaughtering and raping many “sub-humans”.

Posted by: SomeOtherDude at May 16, 2007 01:23 PM

White people do tend to treat each other differently.

Then why did we help "brown" Afghanis against "white" Russians? Why did we bomb Christian Serbs to save Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims? Why side with Ethiopia and Selassie against Mussolini's Italy? Why did US administrations pressure European empires to get out of the third world? Why did Eisenhower side with Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt against Britain and France? Why did white Americans kill white Americans who held black Africans as slaves? Why is US policy in Iraq tilted toward darker-skinned Kurds and against our much lighter-skinned NATO allies in Turkey?

Maybe something other than skin color is at play here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 16, 2007 01:35 PM

Someotherdude:

Your grasp of history is quite feeble. Do you have any idea what the Romans did to the city state of Carthage?

Here is a brief summary. During the Third Punic War, the Romans laid siege to Carthage for three years thereby starving the vast majority of its population, killed any who resisted their final assault in the last six days of the siege, sold the 50,000 Carthaginian siege survivors into slavery, systematically burned the city to the ground, destroyed its harbor, and permanently annexed all of its territory. To put it another way, the Romans concluded the Third Punic War by wiping the Carthaginian culture from the face of the earth and taking possession of all of Carthage's assets.

The modern equivalent of the sacking of Carthage would be nothing short of attacking Iraq with mulitple nuclear bombs (perhaps with neutron bombs, which kill the living with radiation, but leave infrastructure intact), exterminating all of its citzens in concentration camps (analogous to Hitler's final solution for European Jews), colonizing the now depopulated Iraq with American citzens, and appropriating Iraq's oil as an American national asset. Until these things happen, please keep your feeble historical analogies to yourself.

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at May 16, 2007 01:51 PM

"Tribal loyalties should not blind some to the horrible nature Imperial adventures."

Are you just copying and pasting completely random statements into the Comments: box?

Who said anything about tribe loyalties? And who are you arguing with about "imperialism"? I never said that America was engaged in imperialism, so how could my "tribal loyalties" blind me to the horrible nature of such imperialism? What is my tribe, anyway?

You have said that the American governments are right-wing nationalists. I pointed out that American right-wing nationalists oppose the current American government.

You claimed that the US has a history of supporting right-wing nationalists and fascists, among whom you listed Hassan II of Morocco, the Shah of Iran, and, just about to show off that you know absolutely nothing about history, Ras Tafari of all people!

I told you that Hassan II rejected Arab nationalism, that the Shah was brought to power to keep Iran from becoming an ally of the Nazis, and I will now tell you that Haile Sellasie fought the Italians and was definitely not a "right-wing nationalist". In fact, he was famous for his internationalist opinions and a strong advocate of a union of all countries of the world.

Then you bring up the ridiculous idea that the US cooperated with Hitler against the Soviet Union, even though everybody, and I mean everybody, would have at least heard that the US and Soviet Union were allies against Hitler.

And the cutest thing was the remark about Soviet imperialism which the US didn't have to protect Europe against. You were particularly unlucky here, because you were trying to tell that to me, who has actually seen Soviet imperialism with my own eyes and grown up among the same American soldiers who you claim did not protect me against Soviet imperialism.

Please, read a history book. You'll convince nobody if you don't know anything about history.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 16, 2007 02:19 PM

Once again - Godwin's law in action...

Posted by: vanya at May 16, 2007 03:13 PM

Vanya:

Godwin's law clearly does not apply as the discussion is directed to issues of propoganda and historical analogies.

The Wikipedia article explains this issue in the following passage, "Godwin's Law does not apply to discussions directly addressing genocide, propaganda, or other mainstays of the Nazi regime. Instead, it applies to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Hitler or Nazis. However, Godwin's Law can itself also be abused, as a distraction or diversion, that fallaciously miscasts an opponent's argument as hyperbole, especially if the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate."

Thus, your citation of this law seems to exemplify the type of abuse discussed in the last sentence of the passage.

Someotherdude:

Your inclusion of Pol Plot, the most rigidly idealogical of the communist mass murders (this places him on the very far left fringe of the political spectrum), on a list of "right wing" nationalist dictators is really beyond the laughable. You either need to stop making any further factual assertions at all or do some rigorous fact checking before attempting any further historical analogies.

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at May 16, 2007 05:35 PM

But if we lose in Iraq (which is exactly what would happen if we left now) it will seriously screw us (and Iraq) up. The first post-Bush president will have to deal with the aftermath.

Yeah, the aftermath of Bush so badly screwing this up that it's barely even politically viable for Republicans to run on the Iraq war.

This situation can't be legitimately pinned on whomever (no matter which party) comes next.

And I say that as someone who's against an immediate withdrawal and very badly want us to win.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 16, 2007 06:12 PM

SoCalJustice,

It warms my heart to know that if we ever fight a war from our armchairs we'll have so many excellent generals to command us. Well, all you armchair generals act like they know everything and never make mistakes themselves.

The US does not maintain an imperial actions agency. One of the reasons the CIA is so wildly incompetant at their tangential missions is because they are specifically forbidden from taking the actions that would make them successful. We do not train our young people to speak interesting languages so they can become civil servants at the far ends of the world, and our geography instruction is criminally negligent.

I do not advocate that the US become an imperial power. The skill set and action plans necessary to successfully prosecute barbarian insurgency comes out of the imperialist toolbox, however.

Unless and until people like you can contenance training our citizenry and soldiery with the skills they need, expect incompetence. Until you provide our security agencies with the tools they need to prosecute insurgencies in the national interest, expect failures.

Pinning systemic failure of the United States to effectively cope with barbarian insurgency on the administration of George W. Bush is an insulting oversimplification of the problem. The reason we are fighting an insurgency is because it is our least effective effort. This is not an accident, our enemies chose this kind of fight deliberately.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 16, 2007 06:55 PM

Patrick,

I know you're Michael's friend and colleague, so I don't really want to get into it with you.

But as for this, "It warms my heart to know that if we ever fight a war from our armchairs we'll have so many excellent generals to command us. Well, all you armchair generals act like they know everything and never make mistakes themselves."

I invite you to share your snark and condescension with actual American generals who feel differently than you and happent to think the post-war occupation has been horribly mismanaged.

As for this: "Unless and until people like you can contenance training our citizenry and soldiery with the skills they need, expect incompetence. Until you provide our security agencies with the tools they need to prosecute insurgencies in the national interest, expect failures."

I honestly don't know what the hell you're talking about. I want a strong military and strong U.S. intelligence service.

I guess I just didn't realize that stating the fact that Bush's mishandling of the Iraq situation has made it a political hot potato even for Republicans (notice Sen. McCain's precipitious slide in the polls) makes me solely responsible for the health, or lack thereof, of the military and intelligence services.

I don't know whether you're a Republican or a Democrat - I can guess. But if after 6+ years of a President Bush - most of which he's had Republican control of both houses of Congress, if the state of the military and intelligence services are not to you're liking - it's pretty cool that you can blame me instead of President Bush!

That's just awesome, sir.

Congratulations.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 16, 2007 07:35 PM

SoCalJustice, you can "get into it" with Patrick. He and I "get into it" with each other a lot. We definitely have our differences of opinion.

People are supposed to argue and disagree in the comments. That's a huge part of what the comments are for.

I don't mind at all as long as things don't get out of hand.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 16, 2007 07:42 PM

What really bugs me is the interminable repetition of the "imperialist" canard, concerning the US. Let us discuss who actually HAS been imperialist:

Most European powers were, in the past few centuries, imperialist. They conquered other nations, subjected the citizens of these nations to second class status, and exploited their labor and the conquered territories' natural resources, for their own benefit. Some European countries are still doing this; France, for instance, maintains a significant military presence in a number of African nations, and uses it as a blunt instrument to mandate who will lead these countries, and in what directions they, and decisions on with whom to contract with for their natural resources, will go. Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands have only recently been relinquishing their extraterritorial holdings, and some of them still claim a few.

The US typically deposes brutal despots and dictatorial regimes which are murdering and oppressing their own people, helps to incubate constitutional democracy governments in such regimes' places, then withdraws from every country within whom they intervene - if not by getting completely out, then by internal withdrawal, by ending military pressure and interference. In most cases where the US has left troops in countries after such liberations have been achieved, it has been to protect them (or their neighbors) against outside aggression (South Korea, Germany, Japan), and when the US makes noises about bringing them home, the host countries generally loudly protest, since, in addition to the protection that they provide (allowing those countries to spend their revenues on other things), they also contribute to the local economies, while posing no threat to the host governments. When demands have been made that the US relinquish such things, it has typically done so (a big base in the Phillipines and the Panama Canal, for instance).

If you want to see real imperialism in action, take a look at the spread of Islam in the past 1300 years. First come the preachers, then come the immigrants, then comes the intimidation and coerced changes in local laws, and then comes the violent takeover, with the obliteration of the indigenous culture following.

Methinks that some folks may be projecting their own senses of guilt concerning their own countries' imperialist histories upon an undeserving US.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 16, 2007 07:57 PM

MJT,

Fair enough.

And here's the thing. As I stated in my original comment, I am against immediate withdrawal and I want us to win.

That does not mean I'm going to be willfully blind to the political realities - which seems to have been President Bush's (and an unfortunately sizeable chunk - to their peril - of the Republican party) posture.

I have been travelling to the Middle East (just got back from Israel/West Bank last weekend) for 15 years, and I consider myself a student of the region. I understand that occupations and insurgencies are in no sense an easy battle. They take time, manpower and most of all, will.

However, from before this war started to the last time Senator McCain was in Baghdad, we've had a procession of statements like "cakewalk," and "last throes" and finally (ok, not really a quote) "Shopping in Baghdad is just like going to the mall in Scottsdale."

The American people are tougher and more resilient than given credit for, but they have their limits. And , at the end of the day, they just want to be leveled with.

This was not sold as going to be a long, hard occupation. And even when Bush and Rumsfeld came around to occassionally pointing that out, along came Cheney or someone else in the administration (or someone at NRO) to tell us how great we were doing - if only the media would report it.

I agree that the political nature of our system might seem to make it difficult for this administration to level with the American people at every turn - and I respect that. But, to paraphrase Rumsfeld, you go to war with the country and the system that you have.

And if expectations are unduly raised ("cakewalk") during the selling of the war and ("last throes") during the prosecution of occupation, and that ends up not at all reflecting the reality on the ground, it is going to make the situation politically untenable for candidates running for national office - in either party.

That seems to be the case - this is political, not military, analysis.

I feel like I need to repeat this (for the second time) - I am personally against immediate withdrawal and I really want us to win.

But it is President Bush - not me nor any presidential candidate of either party - that is responsible for our current political (and military - for that matter) mess over there.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 16, 2007 08:10 PM

I agree, SoCalJustice. Patrick's mileage may vary.

I don't think the situation is as bad as many think it is (hence the graph I published), but I'm not optimistic anymore about our chances to pull this off. Partly because of incompetence on the part of both the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government, partly because of our lack of will at home, partly because of the nature of assymetric warfare in general, partly because Iraq is just an incredibly broken country that may not be salvageable.

I do, however, think withdrawing immediately would be stupid, and withdrawing totally would also be stupid.

At most we should withdraw to Kurdistan. Not every part of Iraq is hopeless or lost, and a partial win is a lot better than a total defeat. We only saved part of Korea, and no one thinks that war was a total failure on our part.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 16, 2007 08:31 PM

Partly because of incompetence on the part of both the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government, partly because of our lack of will at home, partly because of the nature of assymetric warfare in general, partly because Iraq is just an incredibly broken country that may not be salvageable.

I think that's fair. I do think the situation is as bad as people think precisely for those reasons. It doesn't (and really shouldn't) have to be "another Vietnam" in terms of death totals of U.S. military for the situation to be dire - militarily and politically.

Not every part of Iraq is hopeless or lost, and a partial win is a lot better than a total defeat. We only saved part of Korea, and no one thinks that war was a total failure on our part.

True but as crazy as Kim Jong-Il is and Kim Il-Sung was, Iraq as an al-Qaeda state is much scarier.

And the other option - a Sunni/Saddam statelet next to a Shia/Iran-backed statelet is, I guess, more palatable, but would still feel like a poor outcome.

But we cannot make the Iraqis competent or force them to behave. At some point, a decision will have to be made as to what the long term solution will be - and it's probably going to have to be made by the next administration - because we have yet to hear of any viable ideas come out of this one.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 16, 2007 08:46 PM

Salamantis,

Imperialism doesn't have to involve guns and borders. It can be practised on a number of levels. The US has both the biggest economy and military in the world, and to think it has used this power benevolently is hopelessly naive. The US doesn't depose dictatorial regimes- in many cases, it supports them and their abuses, if it suits their ends. Witness the 1964 Indonesian military coup of Suharto, who would open trade and financial barriers to the US. Whose military and diplomatic corps supported this coup and the subsequent slaughter of up to a million dissidents? You guessed it... Who uses 'aid' to fund human rights abuses in Palestine in order to have a compliant and powerful ally in the Middle East? Who controls the IMF, which patrols the world for floundering economies, giving loans in return for surrendering control over large parts of their economies? I could go on...

No invasions, no flags on hills, no viceroys or governors. But make no mistake, the US is acting very much like 19th Century Britain, and the largest transnational companies represent its East India Company.

Posted by: Justin at May 16, 2007 09:41 PM

SoCalJustice,

We needed liberty to study imperial methods and take actions in the manner of imperial powers long before we engaged in the liberation and rebuilding of Iraq. We had no training or plans for this contingency because that behavior was essentially outlawed in the 1970s and earlier. I think it unfair to blame George W. Bush for failures that were built into our security apparatus by the Carter administration and the 94th Congress.

We certainly did not expect President Bush to be greeted by the troops in January 2001 with a rousing chorus of "Ave, Imperator, Ave!" The problem is that nobody in the US was looking at the problems of managing 25 million or more deeply divided and heavily armed people who did not speak English. The closest we had to a treatise for dealing with this was the USMC "Small Wars Manual" from 1940. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_war_manual While that is a fine work, still tremendously relevant, it is also sixty years old and about the only thing we've got. Although a number of works were put together after Vietnam, the Marine Corps was the only government agency still keeping counter-insurgency on their reading list. While the Marines are exceptionally good at any number of things, there aren't very many of them and they have a lot of committments.

My point is that if you do not think seriously about controlling restive populations for most of a century, mistakes are going to be made when you have to do so.

Putting it differently, what does the State Department have that is comparable to "Small Wars Manual?" What about Agriculture, Energy, Education, Commerce, Labor, etc.? Every department, not just State and Defense, need to have a methodology to assist the success of the national expedition. Instead of putting the success of the rebuilding of defeated nations onto a bunch of amateurs, we need to have a deep bench of professionals who are intelligently conversant on the particulars of the control of troubled states.

Without competent controllers of deposed states at all levels and departments of the US government, mistakes are going to be made. Attributing that incompetence to the personal failures of the Chief Executive is unfair and shoddy thinking.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 17, 2007 12:33 AM

This was not sold as going to be a long, hard occupation. SoCalJustice May 16, 2007

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. George W. Bush September 20, 2001

I beg to differ with your assertion.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 17, 2007 12:42 AM

This was not sold as going to be a long, hard occupation.

Ah, yes, it was, as Patrick points out above.

And even when Bush and Rumsfeld came around to occassionally pointing that out, along came Cheney or someone else in the administration (or someone at NRO) to tell us how great we were doing - if only the media would report it.

The conventional military aspect of the Iraq war- which I'm fairly sure is what Cheney was referring to- did go extraordinarily well.

Invading a nation that is georgraphically about the size of California, has ~20,000,000 inhabhitants, and a standing military of around 400,000 soldiers (admittedly, poorly equipped) with a mere 165,000 or so troops and winning in roughly three weeks with only 140 casualties (US forces, I wasn't able to find initial-invasion casualty figures for the other participants) is spectacular in comparison to any comparable action in recorded history.

All I can figure is that they must not be teaching history in schools any more....

We are doing very well in comparison to pretty much every counterinsurgency campaign in the 20th century (...and prior to the 20th C, what were considered acceptable counterinsurgency tactics was so much more brutal I don't think they're comparable).

The primary problem is, IMO, a lack of perspective on the part of the people doing the reporting, and a lack of historical context on the part of the people being informed. They see death and destruction and a lack of clear-cut battle lines, which the media and public has come to expect during conventional wars. They fail to understand that counterinsurgency is very different from fighting conventional wars, and measure the conflict by the standards they would use to assess a conventional conflict. It's no surprise they'd think we are losing- in a conventional war, not having secure areas is a very bad sign- but they're using the wrong criteria.

The effort in Iraq is sustainable- both financially and in terms of casualties sustained- and establishing a democratic government in Iraq is a goal worth achieving. America has paid far more to accomplish much less worthwhile goals in the past, and the consequences of pulling out would be bad in the short term and catastrophic in the long term.

Posted by: rosignol at May 17, 2007 02:40 AM

"All I can figure is that they must not be teaching history in schools any more...."

Would that explain why some people think that Haile Sellasie was fascist and remember the US as Hitler's allies in the fight against the Soviet Union?

Sorry, sort of a regional pet peeve of mine now.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 17, 2007 03:18 AM

I'd be interested to hear what Patrick and Rosignol think of this article:

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/05/2635198

Also, Patrick, come on. You can see yourself that quote does not really support your assertion except in the most generous expansive reading of "lengthy campaign". All the evidence and testimony we have suggests that Bush and Rumsfeld thought Iraq would be a relatively quick battle in the lengthy campaign against the general Islamic threat.

Posted by: vanya at May 17, 2007 03:23 AM

Patrick,

Treating both your posts, second one first.

I beg to differ with your assertion.

You're playing games - that speech was not about Iraq - nor does the fact that Iraq is often lumped into the GWOT make a speech 9 days after 9/11 my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators

Vice President Cheney, March 16, 2003.

And there was a follow up question:

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators

I think that speaks for itself. I imagine you disagree.

As for your first post, you write:

The problem is that nobody in the US was looking at the problems of managing 25 million or more deeply divided and heavily armed people who did not speak English.

Nobody?

Isn't that what you want your President and DoD to be looking at and thinking about when we send our troops into battle?

Aren't you at least mildly offput by the fact that they didn't look at those problems all the while having Cheney tell us that we'd be greeted as liberators and that a "a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties" was not "likely to unfold that way"?

rosignol:

Ah, yes, it was, as Patrick points out above.

Sorry, but applying that quote to Iraq is disingenuous at best especially in the face of all the rosy Iraq predictions from very high levels.

The conventional military aspect of the Iraq war- which I'm fairly sure is what Cheney was referring to- did go extraordinarily well.

Of course he was referring to that because he told America that there would not even be an insurgency!

Do you really not have a problem with that?

Invading a nation that is georgraphically about the size of California, has ~20,000,000 inhabhitants, and a standing military of around 400,000 soldiers (admittedly, poorly equipped) with a mere 165,000 or so troops and winning in roughly three weeks with only 140 casualties (US forces, I wasn't able to find initial-invasion casualty figures for the other participants) is spectacular in comparison to any comparable action in recorded history.

All I can figure is that they must not be teaching history in schools any more....

Is that all you can figure? Really? Very few people have complaints about Operation Iraqi Freedom where American forces with vastly superior military technology did indeed do an excellent job.

Now, though, we've been unable to prevent a full blown civil war and the entry of foreign jihadists into a country we were supposed to be liberating and where the Vice President told us there would be no insurgency.

So back to this:

All I can figure is that they must not be teaching history in schools any more....

Exactly, which is probably why Dick Cheney did not foresee any insurgency. The Wyoming school system must be in shambles.

The primary problem is, IMO, a lack of perspective on the part of the people doing the reporting, and a lack of historical context on the part of the people being informed. They see death and destruction and a lack of clear-cut battle lines, which the media and public has come to expect during conventional wars. They fail to understand that counterinsurgency is very different from fighting conventional wars, and measure the conflict by the standards they would use to assess a conventional conflict. It's no surprise they'd think we are losing- in a conventional war, not having secure areas is a very bad sign- but they're using the wrong criteria.

The primary problem is twofold:

1) being told by Vice President Cheney that there wouldn't be an insurgency when it turns out there was.

2) when it was clear there was a fairly vibrant insurgency, being told by Vice President Cheney about two years ago that it was in it's last throes - and in the subsequent election cycles it was anything but.

If what you and Patrick are writing now were incorporated into Cheney's appearances on Meet The Press - Bush and the Republicans would likely not be having these political issues.

But people remember "greeted as liberators," "no insurgency" and "last throes."

It's not that complicated a political analysis. And denying that fact really does not help Republicans.

Again, I'm talking about political analysis - and political mistakes.

Patrick has already laid out the multitude of military mistakes. He just doesn't think Bush should bear any blame for it - it's Carter and the 94th Congress' fault.

(I happen to detest Carter, but if it's his fault that we were unprepared to go to war in 2003, that's something that should have been taken into account as well in the selling of the war - instead of Rummy's "rapid reaction force" and Wolfowitz and others laughing off the need for more troops to manage the post-war situation).

I agree that from a U.S. military standpoint, the Iraq war is "sustainable." From a political standpoint, however, Bush/Cheney et. al. have really messed up with their frequent rah-rah red meat and rosy predictions - George Bush's Sept. 20, 2001 speech that had absolutely nothing to do with the post war-occupation of Iraq, notwithstanding.

A "democratic Iraq" seems like a pipedream - U.S. military casualties aren't that high, thankfully - but Iraqi casualties at the hands of each other are enormous - and that cannot be overlooked when considering what's achievable over there.

MJT's post on shoring up Kurdistan and getting out of Arab Iraq is starting to look more realistic, as unfortunate as that reality would be.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 17, 2007 03:27 AM

Dunno. That's so backwards I'd suspect someone saying it was from bizarro world.

People don't seem to understand that the point of education is not just to inform- it also innoculates people against bad information.

Posted by: rosignol at May 17, 2007 03:29 AM

Whoops - I chopped my post somehow.

This:

You're playing games - that speech was not about Iraq - nor does the fact that Iraq is often lumped into the GWOT make a speech 9 days after 9/11 my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators

Should read:

You're playing games - that speech was not about Iraq - nor does the fact that Iraq is often lumped into the GWOT make a speech 9 days after 9/11 applicable to the contention that Iraq was sold to America as relatively easy.

And then it gets into the Cheney stuff on Meet the Press on March 16, 2003.

To repeat: greeted as liberators, no insurgency.

Therein - basically - lies the political troubles for Bush and Republicans - especially McCain.

And anticipating the rebuttal of "greeted as liberators" ONLY applies to the initial invasion of Iraq and we were! - Well, if that's the case, lot of good that did us. And it doesn't account for Cheney telling everyone there would be no insurgency and when there was that it was in its last throes two years ago.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 17, 2007 03:38 AM

rosignol,

People don't seem to understand that the point of education is not just to inform- it also innoculates people against bad information.

So if people were better educated, they just wouldn't have listened to Cheney in the first place?

Or if Cheney was better educated, he would have been able to predict an insurgency and wouldn't have dismissed it as in its last throes two years ago?

Or were you responding to that Hitler/Haile Sellasie post?

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 17, 2007 03:43 AM

Re http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/05/2635198

1) I concur that senior management of the military would be improved if a fair number of people wearing stars retired. I disagree that the solution to the problem is Congressional involvement. Unsatisfactory performance should be handled by that person's superior, which would be the Secretary of Defense, or the President.

2) The writer does not appear to be taking into account that the enemy also has a vote as to the nature of the conflict, and it is very much in their best interest to choose a form of conflict that their adversary is weak in. You can visualize and prepare all you like, but the one thing you can be certain of is that you will be wrong in at least one major assumption because the enemy will try to fight in the manner your force is least suited to.

3) It is not the responsibility of the officer corps to communicate the nature of the conflict to the public. Their job is to convey that information to the President and other elected officials, who then convey that information to the public.

4) I do not think that requiring senior officers to have advanced degrees in humanities or social sciences (the exception being history) or speak additional languages will solve any significant problems.

5) The author is remarkably naive if he thinks a subordinate is going to tell Congress that a superior officer is unsatisfactory, or that a peer is going to risk giving a negative review to someone who is up for promotion and is likely to become a superior in the near future. This is not a problem specific to the military, it is found in all bureaucracies. I am unaware of any satisfactory solution.

6) The author places great stock in having a degree in the social sciences, but fails to provide evidence that this improves the performance of senior officers beyond vague assertions that exposure to other cultures is a good thing. I am mildly curious as to what field the author's degree is in, and suspect I would not be at all surprised by the answer. It is not uncommon for engineers to think the world would be a better place if everyone in a position of importance had an engineering degree.

I know, personally, people who are multilingual and have a degree in the humanities, I would not follow any of them into combat. If it was my choice, I would choose to follow one of the retired cops (with no degree) who are Viet Nam veterans (yes, I know more than one. Their insights into the current conflict are interesting, alas, they do not blog).

7) His assertion about the quantity of manpower needed calling the viability of the all-volunteer military into question is highly questionable, as current recruiting goals are being met. However, it is worth noting that during the 1980s, the US military was considerably larger in terms of manpower, and was an all-volunteer force. I expect we could double, if not triple, the current standing force over a 10-year period without resorting to conscription.

8) If there is any group I would require to have advanced degrees in the humanities (especially history), it would be the members of Congress.

ps: the article has a link to a comment thread, it's worth checking out.

Posted by: rosignol at May 17, 2007 04:57 AM

Or were you responding to that Hitler/Haile Sellasie post?

DingDingDing!

I didn't think I needed to quote because when I hit 'post', it was immediately above where I thought my reply would be. Hooray for night-owls. ;-)

Posted by: rosignol at May 17, 2007 05:04 AM

SouCal wrote:

Of course he was referring to that because he told America that there would not even be an insurgency!

Wow. The effort to demonize Cheney is surpassed only by the effort to demonize Bush.

In the interview with Russert, Cheney was asked about the possibility that we would be viewed not as liberators but as conquerors, and thus face resistance by “the Iraqi people“. Cheney offered the opinion that he thought such an outcome unlikely. You, like the vast majority of the media, now want to transform Cheney’s opinion about a possibility into an absolute assurance that there would be no insurgency and that the occupation would be easy.

In fact, Cheney was correct. We WERE greeted as liberators by the majority Shia and certainly by the Kurds -- only the deposed Sunnis saw us a conquerors, as they rightly should -- and what the anti-war people predicted -- namely, that the Iraqi people, if attacked on their home soil, would rally behind Saddam and fight any invader to the death -- did not occur; our forces did not face a mass, general resistance from the Iraqi people.

The attacks on US forces have primarily been from a percentage of the Sunnis -- Baathist “dead enders“, former Hussein fedayeen, etc -- which means that a percentage of the minority have resisted us.

What no one predicted or anticipated -- as far as I can recall -- is that al Qaeda would make Iraq their top priority and send hundreds of suicide bombers there to successfully foment a civil war between the Sunni and the Shia -- who, in response, rather than resisting al Qaeda, would form death squads to slaughter one another.

Posted by: Michael Smith at May 17, 2007 06:56 AM

Yup. EXACTLY like Vietnam.

The only similarity to Vietnam is the Leftwing defeatism.

Posted by: Carlos at May 17, 2007 07:25 AM

Patrick:

First you characterize the biggest foreign policy failure in US history as an honest mistake, then you apply a quote Bush made about the Sept 11 attacks to Iraq.

Hell, throw in you contempt for the victims of the worst attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor (all those dissenters in their "armchairs" in "Manhattan"...from comments on a different post), and I'm tempted to go to your site and give you a much-begged-for PayPal donation just for making me laugh.

Posted by: Naha at May 17, 2007 07:51 AM

First you characterize the biggest foreign policy failure in US history

Hohohohoho!

That's funny. The US has made much bigger screwups than Iraq.

Off the top of my head... not insisting that the Red Army withdraw back to the Soviet Union after Germany surrendered (and the US still had a monopoly on nuclear weapons) would be #1. We could have spared many millions of people four decades of stalinist communism if we'd stood firm on that.

Cutting off funding to south vietnam after withdrawing US forces and promising that we would continue to supply them would be #2. Dunno how many millions died because of that one, I'm pretty sure it is in the (low) millions.

Playing nice with the mullahs when the 'students' siezed the US embassy in Tehran would be #3. That was a quarter-century ago, and we're still dealing with the consequences of that decision.

I could come up with more, but I only have so much time...

Posted by: rosignol at May 17, 2007 08:38 AM

Rosignol...I will definitely concede to your #1. I should have said "one of the worst." As for the other two (and the rest of the embarrassingly long list)...given that neither the American government nor the American people are willing to make the immense sacrifices that would be required to stabilize the region, I would say Iraq is worse.

However debatable what the level of failure Iraq (currently) is in context with other US foreign policy failures, the fact that it is unmitigated comedy to characterize it as merely a "mistake" is not.

And while I'm ranting on the topic of Iraq and conceding, just as the pro-withdrawal folks need to acknowledge withdrawal will wreak terrible consequences, those advocating staying need to acknowledge that believing we can "win" with our currently available resources is criminal optimism.

Posted by: Naha at May 17, 2007 09:13 AM

More facts to keep in mind.

British Garrison in the West Indies:
http://website.lineone.net/~bwir/regiments.htm

From 1793 to 1802, an estimated 1,500 officers and 43,500 other ranks died mainly from fevers while being stationed in the Caribbean. Another example of the death toll while serving "King and Country" is the year 1796 when some 41% of European soldiers died within a year of arriving.

Efforts were made to keep European soldiers out of some of the more unhealthy garrisons from 1803 to 1815. This resulted in "only" 500 officers and 19,500 other ranks perishing, approximately 14% of the total.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 17, 2007 09:46 AM

"What no one predicted or anticipated -- as far as I can recall -- is that al Qaeda would make Iraq their top priority"

The left claimed that Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror.

Al-Qaeda disagree.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 17, 2007 09:50 AM

I characterized the problems managing Iraq as a systemic failure. There is no benefit to talking about a failed process by demonizing an individual. While I understand that some people would rather spend time screaming at Emmanuel Goldstein, doing so strikes me as pointless.

Do you want to solve the problems or do you want to spend time relishing your anger?

There are too many good people dying and too many evil people killing to waste time on ad hominem idiocy. The comments made by SoCalJustice got on my nerves because although he appears to have a working mind, he is wasting time whining about things we cannot change that do not matter.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 17, 2007 10:22 AM

This just in:
http://powerlineblog.com/archives/017668.php
One of the Democrats' frequent talking points about Iraq is that the administration failed to plan the mission there adequately. It is ironic, then, that nearly all of the Democrats in the House of Representatives have voted to bar the administration from planning for the contingency of hostilities with Iran. The Hill reports:

An amendment to the defense authorization bill, introduced by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), a member of the armed services panel, failed Wednesday night by a vote of 216-202 with six Republicans voting in favor of the amendment together with 196 Democrats.

Andrews’ amendment, which had strong support from House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), would have prevented funds authorized in the bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from being used to plan a contingency operation in Iran.

In former times, a motto of many liberals was "No enemies on the Left." Today, the Democrats' mantra seems to be, "No enemies anywhere except the White House."

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 17, 2007 10:24 AM

Michael Smith:

You, like the vast majority of the media, now want to transform Cheney’s opinion about a possibility into an absolute assurance that there would be no insurgency and that the occupation would be easy.

Um, no... Unless by "transform" you mean take his words at face value and believe him.

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators

You write: In fact, Cheney was correct.

Sure, in Rush/Hannity land.

You honestly think there is no insurgency going on?

The pains you have to go to parse words to demonstrate that Cheney was "correct" is - well - it speaks for itself.

You write: The attacks on US forces have primarily been from a percentage of the Sunnis -- Baathist “dead enders“, former Hussein fedayeen, etc -- which means that a percentage of the minority have resisted us.

Funny you should mention "dead enders." Pretty much describes the "In fact, Cheney was correct" crowd. Small but determined bunch, you.

I guess Cheney would only be wrong if Tim Russert phrased the question "if after we're greeted as liberators, and U.S. forces are attacked by a small group of former-Baathist 'dead enders', particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?"

Of course, Mr. Cheney would have said, "Tim, that's exactly what I think will happen and the American people should be prepared for it!"

But of course know why Russert didn't ask that question, right? Because he's a card carrying member of the liberal media who was only working to set up the best VP in U.S. history!

Viva Cheney! Viva Freedom!

Amazing how crazed partisanship drives otherwise intelligent people from recognizing a sell-job gone bad.

Whatever.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 17, 2007 12:42 PM

Michael Smith,

Should you happen to respond, please also point out how "correct" Cheney was when he said this in June 2005:

"The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

For whatever reason, you forgot to tell me how I - along with the media - twisted the real correct Cheney truth and distorted it from what he actually meant.

So, just so I don't have to listen to Rush or Sean, can you tell me how he was right? Is it because a few months after that, the insurgency stopped and then the civil war started which was repsonsible for all future American casualties, so - you know - Cheney was correct!

Or was it another way? After reading your post, I'm convinced Cheney must have been correct about that too - but it's a little tricky to see how.

Care to drop some wisdom on the thread?

/By the way, I love how saying Cheney was wrong = "demonizing" him. Kind of cool when American politicians reach infallible status.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 17, 2007 01:56 PM

The Iraq war has nothing to do with the war on terrorism.

-- The left

We must fight the enemy in Iraq.

-- George Bush and Al-Qaeda

George Bush and Al-Qaeda have no idea what is going on. The left clearly said that Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror. Why is nobody listening to the left?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 18, 2007 01:37 AM

The Iraq war is a futile, wasteful and counterproductive way to fight terrorism - traditional conservatives, libertarians and moderates

Funny how so few of you the devout Iraq occupation supporters ever want to deal with the arguments most of us have, you'd rather to continue categorizing any disagreement as "leftist". Granted, that's a far easier thing to do and makes you look good since so many on the left are delusional, but still rather lazy. I'd love to see MT or Patrick debate someone like Greg Djerejian, Greg Cochran or, hell, William Buckley. If you stopped obsessing about crazy leftists, you might be surprised to discover how many serious, knowledgeable, patriotic Americans truly believe that Iraq is a disaster.

Posted by: Vanya at May 18, 2007 04:30 AM

Futile? No. Fighting in Iraq is resulting in dead terrorists. To my delight, some of the are not being killed by US or coalition forces, they're being killed by other muslims.

Wasteful? Almost certainly. I do not expect any government- or any department of a government- to do anything efficiently. However, while I do wish the cost was lower, it is not unbearable.

Counterproductive? No. Anti-US rhetoric has increased, but substantiative actions against the US by middle eastern governments are pretty much at the same level or lower than it's been at for the last several decades. Besides that, Libya has shipped it's nuclear program to Tennesee and tipped us off RE the Pakistani Proliferation Bazzar, which has been shut down, Saddam is dead, Iraq is no longer under economic sanctions and is rebuilding, Syria is out of Lebanon, and the mullahs in Tehran are sweating.

How many of those events do you seriously think would have taken place without US troops in Iraq?

.....

The problem with the non-crazy-leftist opposition to the war is that pretty much all of them are either indulging in 20/20 hindsight or crying over spilt milk. I see no proposals for how to fix the problem coming from that quarter, and no matter how much Bush's plan sucks, it's something, and you can't beat something with nothing.

The crazy leftists have a something to promote: withdrawal. That this something would be a huge catastrophe means criticizing, debating, and refuting them is a much higher priority than engaing with disaffected conservative neoisolationists.

At least, that's how I see it. YMMV.

Posted by: rosignol at May 18, 2007 05:08 AM

"Funny how so few of you the devout Iraq occupation supporters ever want to deal with the arguments most of us have"

What arguments?

Tell me what exactly are the arguments?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 18, 2007 08:53 AM
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