May 20, 2007

The Case Against Withdrawal

by Michael J. Totten

I will admit that sometimes I am this close to deciding the US should withdraw from Iraq. Honestly, I do not expect we will succeed there, not because we can't but because not enough of us want to in the time it would take. We might not succeed after even ten years. I do not know, and I'm working on a long essay now about what I think the least disastrous way to withdraw would be. (To Kurdistan, basically, and lose only part of Iraq instead of all of it -- a Korean war style exit instead of a Vietnam War style exit.)

Frederick Kagan makes the best case against withdrawing at all. Tempting as it is to cut our losses, I cannot argue with this.

Please don't leave comments until you have read the whole thing.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 20, 2007 01:29 AM

Mr. Kagan is a brilliant man, without a doubt. And he makes a good case for persevering in Iraq, even if he goes over the top with his emotional appeal for the 'children.'

Emotional appeals aside, the fact is, our incursion into Iraq is now well past the entire effort to defeat Japan after Pearl Harbor. A democratic republic is the form of governance LEAST able to wage protracted war; the politics in a free society will not tolerate open-ended, no-light-in-the-tunnel warfare. If war is protracted for a democratic people, they will accept defeat (Viet Nam) rather than endure added years of battlefield stalemate.

The lesson from Viet Nam is, if a democracy is to fight, it MUST fight to win quickly. The lesson from Iraq is, Mr. Kagan, even if the democracy wins the war (the capital captured in 23 days, the thug plucked from his spider hole--the war was won!), it better have a very good, well thought out plan on how to win the peace.

This war was won (thanks to the troops); the peace is not (no thanks to the Administration). And the American electorate will exercise their frustration, as they should, in November next year. Mr. Kagan's 'surge,' though, will not be tolerated much past this a war-weary democratic republic.

Someone should start to tell the children.

Posted by: a Duoist at May 20, 2007 02:39 AM

Kagan is correct.

Listening to all the defeatist talk reminds me of the sign posted on the gym wall in the movie 'Million Dollar Baby': Winners are those who are willing to do what loser will not.'

Lots of losers in this country, especially people who think its cute when talking about mass genocide to make comments such as: Someone should start to tell the children.

My opinion is that people who have failed so utterly in attaining any level of personal development that they could even think up such sayings have pretty much wasted their time upon this earth.

Posted by: H. Short at May 20, 2007 02:53 AM

The $100,000,000,000 we'll spend on Iraq this year could instead save the lives of millions of people elsewhere.

The Iraqis whose lives are in danger because they helped us could be allowed to immigrate to America.

Even if we leave Iraq, we'll still be fighting Al Qaeda in other countries. And with the forces that would become avaiable after a withdrawl from Iraq, we'd no doubt be able to do a much better job.

Fred Kagan is the guy who drew up the plan for the "surge." A small note of this fact might have been in order.

Posted by: alphie at May 20, 2007 03:14 AM

$100 billion will save millions of lives elsewhere.
Fighting AQ in a country other than Iraq will undoubtedly be more effective.

It is depressing to think that a large number of people who read this thread may be nodding their head in silent agreement with alphie. No logic, no predicates, just disconnected spurts of adolescent opinion. Alphie, you forgot "no blood for oil". And just to be sure you understand me, I'll give you that you may be correct in what you say ... but making a coherent argument that progresses from supporting evidence through logical conclusion would be much more convincing than mindless thought bites.

Posted by: flash at May 20, 2007 03:41 AM


I'll make an educated guess that the $100 billion Kagan wants to spend on his Iraq plan could instead save the lives of at least 5 million people, many of them children, this year.

If you want to try to dispute that number with something other than the usual pro-war ad hominem attack, go right ahead.

Here's a good place to start gathering info:

Posted by: alphie at May 20, 2007 04:13 AM

Michael - Can you share with us your insights about what is happening in Tripoli right now with the Lebanese Army? Hard to determine from the MSM who the players are and why they are fighting right now.


Posted by: Dan at May 20, 2007 06:32 AM

The astonishing fact is that, despite all the talk, the US was never really serious about Iraq. The ratio of troops to Iraqis has always been simply too low - just compare it with similar nation building/peace keeping exercises. Had they been serious they would have gone in with at least double the number of troops and if they were serious about the surge they would at least double the number of troops. And yes, that would mean either mass voluntary enlistment or reinstituting the draft.

Posted by: novakant at May 20, 2007 06:59 AM

Why this is so hard, 4th generation warfare explained very well here.

(Don't mind the initial Hamas/Israel focus, scroll down a bit.)

Posted by: Akiva at May 20, 2007 07:36 AM

Simply since no one has said it yet, let me be the first to agree with Michael. Partition is likely the ONLY way "out" of Iraq. As Michael's attentive journalism, the events of the past 3 - 5- 10 - 20, and piles of scholarship have demonstrated, there is no way to a United Iraq except under another Saddam.

On the whole, the Kurds are not jihadis and would be an important ally in the Middle East, yes this would require torturous negotiations with Turkey, but Kurdistan is possible. Southern Iraq will likely become a client state of Iran... largely unavoidable if you ask me, but I can't imagine it would take long for the Arabs of the newly incorporated territory to take issue with being second class citizens. Residual Sunni Iraq, a collapsed state which will likely look a lot like Somalia.

Unfortunate assessment, it's true, but you can't teach people who have been born and bred to hate the west to lay down their arms and become our best friends. If change and an end to violence is going to come about, it's going to have to be from Iraqis themselves. This doesn't seem to be on the horizon in the near future.

I agree, Kagan's argument is persuasive. But in the end very little is to be gained from remaining in a united Iraq. If we leave everyone in the Middle East will say, "Never trust the Americans"? How different is this from the situation today, 10 years ago, or even post-WWII? We simply cannot to be "trustworthy" in the Middle East... the price is too high: namely the abandonment of Israel, the abandonment of the hope of Arab democracy, "losing" the war on terror; the list goes on.

Sorry for the lengthly comment Michael. It won't happen again.

Posted by: zellmad at May 20, 2007 08:04 AM

And just to be sure you understand me, I'll give you that you may be correct in what you say ...

Really? I think you got it right the first time. Unlike the commenter Alphie, Kagan is right on the money because "money" doesn't save people. Peace and stability do.

And even if "money" could save people, no amount of money would save enough people to equal the numbers killed in the decades-long violence that would ensue if we left Iraq today. Do the critics care about that? No. Ask them about it and watch how they side step and change the subject.

Nor would the people "saved" by that money (really? how?) make up for the long-term regional instability that would follow for decades to come in the wake of our withdrawal -- with untold numbers killed as a result.

And finally, notice how the same people (Leftists) who are calling for a withdrawal in Iraq are the same people who attacked America for "abandoning" Afghanistan after the Soviets were beat. With these naysayers it's truly a case of "lose if you do, lose if you don't." Any excuse to attack America will do, even if those excuses are transparently contradictory.

Their problem is with American power-- not what it does/doesn't do with that power. They want the U.S. to be Canada, or Finland. That's why they won't stop, and neither should we. Oppose them at every turn.

Posted by: Carlos at May 20, 2007 09:08 AM

It is a long shot, but if al-anbar and Baghdad are pacified (with the exception of the time they spend killing jihadists) the shia no longer need militias to fight against the sunni's. If the militias are a reaction to the Sunni attempt to dominate the country they might lose the support they need to function when the Sunni's quit or at least try to stop the random murder and mayhem.

I hope the CIA is using Iraq to collect European jihadists. Start in Finsbury, collect muslims who want to fight Americans and pile them into the "jihad fun bus" drive them to Iraq and execute them. It seems like one way to fight terrorists would be to recruit them to a fake org. and kill them.

Posted by: mikek at May 20, 2007 09:42 AM

H. Short: My opinion is that people who have failed so utterly in attaining any level of personal development that they could even think up such sayings have pretty much wasted their time upon this earth.

That's totally uncalled for.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 20, 2007 10:19 AM

the problem with militias like that that we see in Iraq is that they tend to persist even after they have outlived their "usefulness". Even if Shia militias are a reaction to Sunni violence (which i think is unlikely as the Mahdi army and Badr brigades predate the 2003 invasion), they are becoming an indelible part of the Iraqi security landscape. :-(

Posted by: zellmad at May 20, 2007 10:37 AM

There is no doubt sect-cleansing will be the aftermath of this war. How does that change the reality? If your next door neighbor is a threat to
his children, what can you do? If you call the police, they may or may not be able to postpone the
human disaster. But until it happens for real, the police will have to wait. You could put yourself or members of your household in harm's way to prevent it. But how many of your children will you sacrifice for the security of another's?

The engineers of this war knew they were placing us in an untenable position, wherein we would be loathe to stay, and fearing the results of our departure. I say, move the WH to the Green Zone and see how long it takes before we're out.

Posted by: Semanticleo at May 20, 2007 11:09 AM

Coming from anyone else, I would have ignored your opinion. But knowing you, at this moment, have much more pertinent experience and knowledge involving Iraq and situations like that, it saddens me. Actually saddens me, not the patronizing "saddens" that people use to denigrate their rhetorical opponents. I take your opinions seriously, more than any newspaper. I still think we should stick with it, but until I see it for myself, I guess I'll have to go on with weakened resolve.

Posted by: seguin at May 20, 2007 11:17 AM

Sequin: I take your opinions seriously, more than any newspaper.

Thank you. I am not an expert on Iraq by any means, though. (In my opinion, almost no American is.)

I still think we should stick with it,

I do, too. But I don't think we will. That is the biggest reason why am I not optimistic. It is not, however, the only reason.

I don't know what will happen any more than anyone else does, and I open to being surprised.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 20, 2007 12:12 PM

Mr. Totten,

We're not failing in Iraq because of those who can't "stomach" a real fight. We're failing in Iraq because those who pretend to "stomach" a real fight are criminally inept and believe in an inherently and tragically faulty belief that you can create peace through war.

Please, Mr. Totten, don't blame the failures of our "efforts" in Iraq on anyone but the likes of Fred Kagan, who write about a "glorious victory," but yet who refuse themselves to participate in the "decisive battle of our generation." If it really were the decisive battle of our generation, why does someone like Mr. Kagan refuse to put his retired outfit back on and get out there on the front lines to battle those dastardly terrorists?

You want to know why Iraq is such a grand failure, Mr. Totten? It comes down to a very small and simple thing, as the grandest of things usually do. Note how often the US military knocks doors down instead of knocks ON doors. Note how often the US military has (in these past four years) humiliated and embarrassed Iraqi men in front of their families. And you wonder why they have such a desire to kill Americans? Why they have such a desire to try to undermine our creation of something good?

The goal is a worthy one, Mr. Totten. I don't know anyone who wouldn't like to see a peaceful, flourishing Iraq in the Middle East. I know of few people who are against that noble goal. But can you honestly say after over four years that we're anywhere even close to that goal? Is anything of our path directing us towards that goal?

This is a grand failure. Americans hate to lose, so it will be a long time before Americans stop deluding themselves to realize just how badly we're messing things up in Iraq.

You noted a while back how quickly the Israelis realized their mistake in Lebanon and actually did something about it.


Posted by: Dan at May 20, 2007 12:16 PM

Dan, I thnk you're a decent guy, but the "chickenhawk" argument deployed against Mr. Kagan is supremely juvenile and it reflects poorly on you. I strongly suggest you refrain from using it in the future. Kagan is either right or he isn't whether he carries a rifle or not. Criticize his arguments, not his choice of profession.

I am a professional writer, too. Anyone who doesn't accept that can fuck off because I am not quitting my job. The demands of my job are hard enough on my family as it is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 20, 2007 12:29 PM

Mr. Totten,

The point of that is that he, not being in the battle, has an easy time calling upon others to do battle. I'm trying to make him understand that his rush to fighting is detrimental to my country, and I would like for him to learn that lesson, that apparently he has not yet learned. Look at who is arguing for war and who is being cautious, Mr. Totten. Those who've fought in wars are holding back, while those who have never seen combat (say Mr. Cheney) are writing about the glorious victories that come from warfare. Because their words are inspiring some to battle, I challenge them to go out themselves and come back and write again the same words. Otherwise, really, why are they so quickly and so easily pressing for war?

This is a very valid question, Mr. Totten, and not one that should easily be dismissed as a "chickenhawk" attack.

Men like Kagan and Kristol have never fought in battle, but with total endorsement and encouragement call upon others to do just that. That is disingenuous of them, and frankly unethical.

Now, if you don't wish me to bring that argument up on your blog, that's fair. I shan't bring it up again.

I still would like to see an argument by someone who has actually fought in Iraq and who knows what they are talking about (i.e. no one that is pouring out the military propaganda) that we should persevere and keep the fight going. At this point, I can only think back to the Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling who was highly critical of his generals in regards to this conflict. That tells me that the future of this conflict will only be worse than we see today.

Why should I trust this administration, and this military leadership to get it right when for four years they've screwed up so badly? They've given me no convincing reason to. And someone like Kagan is a discredited figure, and not to be trusted. Please, I ask you to show me someone far more credible.

Posted by: Dan at May 20, 2007 12:45 PM

What do Algeria, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Lebanon have in common? No one has ever defeated a popular insurgency (with the exception of the British in Malaysia, and this was very limited). Why should we succeed in Iraq? If we had known we were headed into a broad-based insurgency, and not just the remnants of the republican guard, we would never have gone in.

The Kagan article is stupid. It's not enough to say why we should fight, but how we can win. I bet you could have found a dozen editorials like this before we left Vietnam. I was in favor of the Iraq war initially, but now believe that we cannot win this war, and that it is both immoral and against our military interests to keep our soldiers there like ducks in a shooting gallery. Withdraw to Kurdistan, take Iraqi loyalists with us, and live to fight another day. (and fight smart next time).

Posted by: MarkC at May 20, 2007 12:50 PM


While I am not a military historian, I am currently drawing a blank on successful examples of counterinsurgencies. Perhaps someone with more military knowledge could help me.

Posted by: Dan at May 20, 2007 01:01 PM

Kagan writes as if Al Qaeda is directing the Sunni insurgency and the Ba'athist-Sunni Tribal element is completely irrelevant. I've read in many other sources that the situation is completely opposite - Sadaam-era ex-military officers are in fact directing much of the insurgency and Al Qaeda manpower is no more than cannon fodder that these people manipulate. Michael, you're presumably closer to the action than most of the people who post here - any insight from your Kurdish friends?

Nice to see that in Carlos' world libertarians and traditional conservatives still don't exist. I gather he's not a Ron Paul fan...

Posted by: vanya at May 20, 2007 01:05 PM

Dan: Men like Kagan and Kristol have never fought in battle, but with total endorsement and encouragement call upon others to do just that. That is disingenuous of them, and frankly unethical.

If you think only military veterans and those on active duty should set American foreign policy, I guarantee you won't be happy with the result.

I also guarantee that our soldiers in war zones don't want to be supported and encouraged by veterans only.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 20, 2007 01:16 PM

Unfortunately the best examples of successful counterinsurgencies all lie within the Arab world.

Witness Saddam Hussein crushing the Shiite uprising post Gulf War I. Jordan massacred more Palestinians in a few days than have been killed by Israel in years and saved themselves both an ongoing intifada and any ongoing international criticism. Syria's indescriminate bombing of Hama wiping out their islamic insurgency, taking about 20-30,000 civilians along with it.

I'm not for a moment suggesting the US resorts to the tactics of immoral dictators and despots - but it certainly underscores the fact that excessive restraint doesn't seem to help all that much.

Israel finally ended the second intifada when they got serious about effective defense and reprisals, and, IMHO, found the appropriate balance between use of force and restraint.

Posted by: mertel at May 20, 2007 01:18 PM

Dan: While I am not a military historian, I am currently drawing a blank on successful examples of counterinsurgencies.

The British in Malaysia, the Americans in the Phillipines, the current Algerian government in Algeria, the Assads in Syria, the Jordanians against the Palestinians.

It should go without saying that I do not want the US to fight like Assad in Syria, for example. Bashar Assad is despicable, and his father Hafez was even worse. I'm just (partly) answering your question.

The Algerian counterinsurgency is worth looking at. I don't know much about it, but I recently ordered some books. Whether it was too brutal and worth emulating or not, I do not know. But it worked and it took ten years, not four. The Algerian government is not a democracy, though, and I expect much of what they did we will refuse to do for all sorts of reasons. In a few months I'll be able to comment on it better than I can now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 20, 2007 01:24 PM

Vanya: Sadaam-era ex-military officers are in fact directing much of the insurgency and Al Qaeda manpower is no more than cannon fodder that these people manipulate. Michael, you're presumably closer to the action than most of the people who post here - any insight from your Kurdish friends?

I have heard this from Kurdish military, yes. I wrote about it recently. Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but this is what many of them say.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 20, 2007 01:25 PM

"The Iraqis whose lives are in danger because they helped us could be allowed to immigrate to America."

All 20 million of them?

As for examples of successful counter-insurgencies, Malaya and Northern Ireland come to mind.

Posted by: Don Cox at May 20, 2007 01:28 PM

Iraq is a con fed to the Americans by the Saudis, and the Americans swallowed because of the oil there. Iraq doesn't exist. Same goes to all the other mini empires (See: "Arab States") carved out of the larger Ottoman Empire.

Posted by: redaktor at May 20, 2007 01:55 PM

While I fully agree with Kagan's point, I think he's wrong on most of his history.
1) Abe Lincoln (who never fought) lost TOO MANY Americans fighting to "save the Union" and end slavery. A peace with the South, allowing slavery, would not have been a disaster -- perhaps blacks AND women would get the vote at the same time, 50 years later or so. Brazil ended slavery w/o a civil war. Morals changed. The immorality of slavery was fighting against the S. elitist economic interest, as well as the racism.

2) Without attacking the Nazis, the US could have continued to support the USSR, and our big WW II ally Joe Stalin -- the world's most known mass murderer as of our 1942 alliance. We could have fought and defeated Japan sooner, blockading them AND blockading Nazi Europe w/o a D-Day invasion in 44. And waited for us to get the bomb while the National Socialist killers fought our International Socialist killer allies.
Probably FDR (who never fought) could have made "Poland would be a democracy after the war" a condition of any risky, high-cost invasion -- but didn't seem to.

FDR & Truman might well have required France to give up the Indochinese colonies they had already lost to the Japanese, as well-- that alone would have saved the US from Vietnam.

Nixon won Vietnam in Paris, 1973 -- but the Dem Party voted to lose in 1975, by cutting funding. Too bad Kagan doesn't mention that the anti-Shah folk had learned how to beat America by watching the US vote in favor of losing. (Though the USSR also decided to enter the quagmire of Viet, er, Afghanistan because of the same lesson.)

With the current Dem Party defeatist talk, those Majority Shia Generals know what it means if the US leaves.

It's ... genocide time. For minority Sunnis. Any remaining will be executed or become about as oppressed by the Shia as the Shia had been oppressed by the Baathists. And the US can apologize like it did for Cambodia? Or Rwanda? Or is waiting for the (so slooowww Arab killers, can't they do anything right) Darfur genocide to end so they can promise "never again", again.

We are fighting to save the Sunnis from genocide. It's noble and good, but it truly might not be worth it, if they don't recognize their own peril.

The US should have a special Guest Worker program for non-Baathist Sunnis of Iraq, and the 3-5 million (NOT Baathists nor immediate family) Iraqi Arab Sunnis, especially in Baghdad, should be offered GW visas for 4 years. And start evacuating, now.

It's a VERY hard choice ... turn in your Sunni neighbor who is harboring a terrorist, or be quiet. If you turn him in, and the AQ moles in the gov't identify you, you and your family might well be murdered. If you don't turn them in, the terrorists will murder innocent Shia, and the death squad militias will be looking for justice, for the guilty. And you, who knew, are not innocent...

The evacuation message to the other Sunnis will be "humane" limited action that the US can take that will most likely induce the local Sunnis to stop the Sunni terror killings. Their choice must be known to them, stop Sunni terror or face Shia death squad genocide or run away.

The saving lives with money is a silly illusion -- those countries with poverty are poor because of the terrible gov't, like ex-Rhodesia Zimbabwe. More money won't end the poverty, but might well make the corruption even worse.

One reason America haters hate so much is that there is a mix of capitalism hatred. Capitalism allows honest peaceful people to create wealth, but such creation is not equal. Few Arab, or other poverty filled countries have any real capitalism, and "aid" doesn't encourage it.

US "aid" in Iraq should have been loans, only -- under Iraq authority and responsibility.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at May 20, 2007 03:04 PM

The saving lives with money is a silly illusion

Sure it is, Tom.

A nice talking point for people who don't want humanitarian missions taking money away from military ones.

Money does indeed save lives. Providing third world citizens with simple things like clean drinking water, mosquito nets and cheap drugs readily available in first world countres save millions of lives each year.

But the programs that provide these things have to operate on far less money than were spending in Iraq.

Posted by: alphie at May 20, 2007 03:37 PM

When I was in Kenya, supporting Slovak doctors treating AIDS & malaria, the kids were so cute. Mostly "hello", but a few, still cute, "give me some money."

When those kids grow up to become local cops, "give me money" stops being cute. It's corruption. But it was taught to the corrupt folk, as kids, by the aid-givers.

The real long-term humanitarian missions are those that offer the poor parents jobs. Then the working poor could decide what they need most, and pay for: clean water, nets, drugs (too bad so many Greenpeace folk are against DDT -- their opposition having already caused millions of malaria deaths).

But certainly water, nets, & drugs provision, as aid, is better than money.

Too bad so few aid givers are willing to go to Darfur, which really needs it. Of course, it's not safe there...since the US military has stopped the slo mo genocide ... since the anti-war folk object to ending bad regimes like Hussein's so much ... since they want that tax money to go to aid donations to the poor ... most of which goes to overpaid World Bank/ multi-national first world bureaucrats and, locally, to corrupt local gov't.

But reality seldom is as easy as "spend money here" and presto, problem solved.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at May 20, 2007 04:39 PM

Giving money to Africa makes the do-gooders feel good inside, but doesn't do anything for Africa in the long-term besides perpetuate their misery. Africa is perhaps the richest continent on the planet given it's natural resources, so it doesn't need more "money". What it needs is peace, stability, and reform. Africa's main problem is its corrupt leadership. That is what's killing all the "chidren."

More handouts to Africa is just for white folks in the West to assuage their guilt, but it does nothing for Africa, especially when most of that money goes to Swiss bank accounts held by corrupt Africans. Have the BILLIONS given to Africa in the last 50 years advanced them one iota? I have lived in Africa (4 years) and I can tell you the answer is definitively NO. There is no advance whatsoever. If anything they are going BACKWARDS. And the reason for this is complicated, but it's not for lack of "money". So don't listen to the guilt-ridden white Liberals. More money is not the answer. Peace, stability, and reform is their only salvation.

The same goes for Iraq. It proves exactly the opposite that "money" saves lives. We've thrown billions at them, and it hasn't saved lives. Stability will save lives though. Yet these same do-gooders want to cut and run and let the bloodbath begin. And make no mistake about it, the bloodbath that will ensue if we depart before the job is done will make the current killings look mild by comparison.

But the do-gooders don't give a rat's ass about that. They just want Bush out of Iraq. No blood for oil, and all that crap. So don't believe them when they say they want "money" to save lives elsewhere. Saving lives is not their concern, or they'd be concerned about the bloodbath when we leave. But they have none. They want us out of Iraq, period, and any excuse will do. So basically money schmoney as far as your argument about "saving lives".

Notice how they want us to interfere in Sudan to stop the genocide, yet want us to create a genocide in Iraq by leaving prematurely! They pinkos make absolutely no sense whatsoever. LOL.

Posted by: Carlos at May 20, 2007 05:26 PM

Tom, that is the worst idea I have ever read regarding Iraq. 3-5 million Iraqi sunni's (the fine people who brought you the insurgency and are now complaining because their "random slaughter" plan is, this is a shock, going to backfire.) on a guest worker program? You have lost your mind.

zellmad, the militias may have existed before the fall of Baghdad, but they probably did not enjoy the support from the shia that they do after being targeted by the "insurgents" for years. People in most of Iraq make their decisions, imho, based on survival above all else. It is a long shot, but Iranian backed militias might not seem so desirable if the government can provide some level of security.

Posted by: mikek at May 20, 2007 06:04 PM

quick response mikek,
not sure what imho is but... the issue with paramilitary groups like the Mahdi army is that their existence and activities do not depend on popular support; they thrive on patronage. To shut down the militias, Iraq needs not only to put the breaks on the Sunni insurgency, but to cut Iranian financial backing and prevent al Sadr's people's infiltration of the security services which has allowed the redirection of state funds and resources to the militia.

Posted by: zellmad at May 20, 2007 07:26 PM

Iraq is Vietnam times 10. The reasons for withdrawal: 1) We were lied to about why we should go to Iraq; 2) The current leadership is obviously utterly incompetent and cannot wage a decent war. We are probably losing ground in Afghanistan (I say probably because all news from there is murky); we are definitely on the run in Iraq. 3) No one can define wining in way that is realizable. The three major Iraqi groups loathe eachother. Whenever we leave, now or five years from now, a blood bath fill follow. 4) We need to withdraw, let things take their horrible course (and it will be horrible), regroup and wait for a competent administration (and any different administration will be competent compared to the idiots in power) and figure out what to do next, to make the best of the horror Bush has inflicted on us and the world.

Posted by: Seymour Paine at May 20, 2007 09:08 PM

I was intrigued by some of the examples of successful counterinsurgencies which I hadn't thought of, such as the American war in the Philippines at the turn of the century. I looked at wikipedia, and came up with this:

"The shift to guerrilla warfare, however, only angered the Americans into acting more ruthlessly than before. They began taking no prisoners, burning whole villages, and routinely shooting surrendering Filipino soldiers. Much worse were the concentration camps that civilians were forced into, after being suspected of being guerrilla sympathizers. Thousands of civilians died in these camps. In nearly all cases, the civilians suffered much more than the guerrillas."

So yes, I'll qualify my statement and say that counterinsurgencies MIGHT be won if the side opposing them is prepared to act with utter ruthlessness, and against all modern rules of warfare and genocide. Obviously, this doesn't change my conclusion.

Posted by: MarkC at May 20, 2007 09:55 PM

zellmad, imho=in my humble opinion or I am not sure.

Iran is a problem, but I would bet that the Persians are not popular in Iraq. The U.S. needs to chop Sadr's head off and mail it to the second in command. The militia's thrive on our inability(it's a culture thing) to treat them without mercy. Not counting a few fanatics, the rest will fold if you apply enough pressure and break their will.

Paine said, "Iraq is Vietnam times 10." You need to stop mixing internal politics with our foriegn policy. I would rate your comment a 2 out of 10. Try to do better next time.

MarkC, wikipedia is not a source worth reading. You do have a point though, all American wars either stop and the locals all die or end in a horrible (acting like your enemy:) manner.

Posted by: mikek at May 20, 2007 11:25 PM

>>>Iraq is Vietnam times 10.

In terms of the Leftwing defeatism, it's Vietnam times 20.

In terms of casualties, it's Vietnam divided by 10.

Posted by: Carlos at May 21, 2007 05:53 AM

Is it necessary to suffer the same number of casualties before we recognize that Iraq is Vietnam?

Posted by: MarkC at May 21, 2007 07:09 AM

But in terms of the impact on world events, it is definitely Vietnam x 10. A major foreign policy disaster, soaking up about $1T of our money for the benefit of Iran and Syria. We will pay a long time for the combined effect of the sheer idiocy and deceit of our going there along with the unbelievable incompetence of our military. What does it say about our military prowess that a teeny weeny, rag tag group of terrorists can hold their ground against the "great miliary power ever" for five years?

Posted by: Seymour Paine at May 21, 2007 07:47 AM

The same thing it says about the French, Russian, and Israeli army. Don't blame the military. Counterinsurgencies are difficult if not impossible to win.

Posted by: MarkC at May 21, 2007 07:52 AM


You might be interested in viewing the Fareed Zakaria interview of historian Niall Ferguson at:

Professor Ferguson has several interesting things to say about Iraq. He says (paraphrasing Joseph Goebbels) "When people start advocating partition of Iraq, I reach for my revolver."

He says partion of Iraq would lead to an eastern european and Yugoslavia-style ethnic cleansing and genocide. The various ethnic and religions populations of Iraq do not live in discreet groups (although that is becoming more common in some areas, particularly Baghdad). The Sunni, Shia, Kurds and various religious minorities are spread all over the country. There has been intermarriage. Ferguson predicts a bloodbath if the country is partitioned.

By the way, I've read that the Iraq central government is not honoring the agreement in the constitution to allow a plebecite in Kirkuk to determine if it wants to be part of Kurdistan. Is that true? If so, what effect will that have?

Posted by: Mystery Meat at May 21, 2007 10:00 AM

If it's "Vietnam" that's only because you WANT it to be Vietnam. It's your fondest wet dream come true.

The rest of us will do our darndest from letting you have your way though.

Posted by: Carlos at May 21, 2007 10:56 AM

Now there's an intelligent response, Carlos. What are you, 12?

Posted by: Seymour Paine at May 21, 2007 11:38 AM

mikek, it looks like we're mostly agreeing now. :-)

Posted by: zellmad at May 21, 2007 01:40 PM

No, Kagan is not either right or wrong, and the "chickenhawk" argument, while hackneyed, is far from irrelevant. Kagan (and you) say we can win the war if only enough of us believed in it for long enough. What isn't addressed is how difficult it's become to maintain troop levels - from the officer corps to the enlisted men. As it is, we don't have nearly enough forces in places like Afghanistan, and our Reserve and National Guard units are way over-extended. If indeed the Iraq war is crucial to our national security, then please don't tell people to "fuck off" if they ask if you if you're willing to pick up a gun to help out in the cause.

Posted by: Joseph Angier at May 21, 2007 02:51 PM

Joseph, I will tell anyone and everyone to fuck off who says I need to switch careers in order to have an opinion in a democracy.

We have civilian control over the military in this country, and if you think it should be otherwise than perhaps you are some kind of a fascist.

Regardless, I couldn't carry a rifle in Iraq even if I wanted to. But it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference because none of the "chickenhawk" people want me to either.

Also, if I were a "chicken" I would not go to war zones. Every single last person who has hurled that ridiculous epithet in my direction has never been to a war zone. So who is the chicken in the room? No one who actually knows me would ever call me that. Most people who know me think I'm crazy for going to the places I go.

If this line of "discussion" continues I will make the "chickenhawk" argument a bannable offense. You can exercise your freedom to call me a chickenhawk on your own blog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 21, 2007 03:01 PM

Now there's an intelligent response, Carlos. What are you, 12? What are you, 12?

Obviously not nearly as "intelligent" as "Iraq is Vietnam times 10." Talk about brilliant.

Posted by: Carlos at May 21, 2007 03:09 PM

My own blog? Impossible - I can't write that coherently that quickly. And no, I won't ever use the 'c' word again, but the question remains: Where are all the troops coming from that are going to win this war? Of course Kagan is right that we can't just abandon Iraq, but what sets my teeth on edge is that after being so terribly wrong about this war for so long, he still presumes to tell us what we should and shouldn't do in Iraq. So I'll totally concede your point that it's myopic (even juvenile) to decide who to listen to based on whether they're carrying (or have carried) a gun or not. Agreed. What I have to be convinced of is why and under what circumstances I should be listening to those who told us that Baghdad after Saddam was going to resemble Prague in 1991.

Posted by: Joseph Angier at May 21, 2007 03:48 PM


What you do think Baghdad will look like after we dismantle the Green Zone and leave?

Baghdad turned out to be worse than I (and Kagan) expected. I suspect that in the next phase it will turn out worse than you expect now. Then we'll be even. Both right and wrong for the same reasons at different times.

If, on the other hand, you expect Iraq to resemble Yugoslavia or Somalia, I'd like to know how you justify the creation of those conditions to yourself when we are currently responsible for security there.

To answer your question though, the fact that Kagan was naive and foolishly optimistic about Baghdad in the past doesn't mean he's wrong to be pessimistic today. You might say he's learned from his past mistake. The way I see it, the pro-withdrawal crowd wanst to repeat that mistkae by convincing themselves that all will be well in that tortured city if only their policy is implemented.

No short-term solution to the problems in Baghdad exists. All we can do right now is try not to make the problem worse than it is. If that means staying in a holding pattern until conditions change, that's better than making the problem worse by ignoring it and pretending it will not affect us.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 21, 2007 04:18 PM

For the record, I've never advocated immediate, or even speedy, withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Yes, it's way too much of a mess there to even think about that. What I do find objectionable - and dangerous - is the implication that if we do fail in Iraq, it will be because of defeatists at home who couldn't stay the course long enough ... not because the visionaries at the Weekly Standard helped us rationalize our way into this chaotic mess. As long as they keep setting up straw-men for our failure in the middle East, I'll still need convincing to listen to their "solutions." So yes, I agree that calling for a quickie retreat is the worst kind of knee-jerk pacifism. But before further discussion proceeds, I think it's necessary to remind Kagan and others that the mess in Iraq was not created by the "net-roots," or even Michael Moore.

Posted by: Joseph Angier at May 21, 2007 05:23 PM

I think it's necessary to remind Kagan and others that the mess in Iraq was not created by the "net-roots," or even Michael Moore.

I completely agree. I doubt Kagan would argue that point, but I do not know him.

A hasty withdrawal, on the other hand, would be partly their responsibility since that's what they want and continue to push for.

If we must leave before Iraq is stable, we should at least wait until Al Qaeda is neutralized or at least unwelcome everywhere.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 21, 2007 05:38 PM

Fine, hasty withdrawal is a bad idea. But Kagan (and Eli Lake) going on huffy rants? These guys weren't "naive" or "foolishly optimistic." They were profoundly and disastrously WRONG. And yes, that's an important distinction that must be made before they re-enter the conversation, becasue I don't see evidence of "learning from mistakes" ... I see a ranting and self-righteousness that's a replacement for the haughty dismissiveness they greeted the anti-war crowd with in 2003.

Posted by: Joseph Angier at May 21, 2007 06:22 PM

Michael: My point on withdrawal is not that all will be well once we leave; I believe all hell will break loose. It's simply that whenever we leave, all hell will break loose, so why wait? Why throw more lives and money at this mess since it's not going to improve? Read the news of the last four years; it's all depressingly the same. Progress in Anbar province; Anbar province a hotbed of insurgency. More progress in Anbar province, blah blah. And of course, the country is entirely disfunctional. Shit, it shouldn't even be a country. How can three hate filled groups work together and why should they?

Posted by: Seymour Paine at May 21, 2007 07:24 PM

The way I see it, the pro-withdrawal crowd wanst to repeat that mistkae by convincing themselves that all will be well in that tortured city if only their policy is implemented.

I don't believe this accurately represents the opinion of most people who are in favor of withdrawal. Most of us just see the current form of American involvement as futile. Sure, maybe we can forestall the inevitable for a time, at a cost in American lives. To truly solve the problem, you have to be prepared to stay decades The troubles in Northern Ireland lasted thirty years, with eleven hundred British servicemen killed. We have over three thousand in just four years. The first intifada began twenty years ago, and pacification of the Palestinians is nowhere in site. Are we prepared to stay in Iraq that long? I think it's up to those advocating our continued presence in Iraq to explain very clearly the scenario for success.

Posted by: MarkC at May 21, 2007 10:09 PM

I read Kagans piece, but really, I didn't need to. I believe and have believed from the beginning of this war that it would take generations for us to accomplish anything in the Middle East. I believe with all my heart that we have to do this and that we HAVE TO WIN. And I believe it can be done with perserverence.

This war is just the beginning of the battle and our lives here and in other countries depend upon us winning. Also the lives of many Syrians, Iranians, Egyptians, Isrealis, Saudis, and many more in the middle east who ARE moderate and do not want to live under militant rule. More exist than we would ever know, but for them to even speak it puts their lives and the lives of their loved ones at great risk.

Look at what the Iranian, Saudi, Syrian and Egyptian government is doing to their people who speak out against the regimes. Look at what is going on in Indonesia and Thialand and Africa where militant muslims are taking over. It is nothing but death and jihad if others refuse to convert or to follow strict rule imposed on them by the evil muslim militant b*st*rds that have infiltrated and taken over. It is going to happen here and the press and the college campuses are helping it along.

I only wish the MSM would do what is right and and report what is REALLY going on in these countries as well as all over the world and quit pushing an agenda because they want a Democrat in the White House or because they hate President Bush. DO WHAT IS RIGHT AND HELP US WIN THIS WAR. This isn't about left or right, democrats or republicans. This is about the future of the world and what matters is that all people be free from tyranny and believe me, if Al-quaida wins, tyranny will reign over us all.

Those of you who don't believe this... what will it take for you to believe? your head laying on the ground separated from your body, or to see more of your fellow country men go down in flames like in the twin towers or worse yet, those of you who are secularist... and have been persecuting the Christians in the USA for even having a cross in a Court House... Are you willing to bow down to Allah? Because if you don't according to the islamofacist, it means DEATH.

Those that are willing to give concessions to Militant muslims (Cair and Muslim Brotherhood and more), yet have an annurism whenever the TEN Commandments posted in a Court House are a complete joke. I really don't get the double standard you want to impose. Can Someone please answer this absurdity?

Oh, and also A DUOIST... are you kidding? The second world war did not just involve Japan, it involved HITLER (Germany)... Remember and it cost OVER 650,000 American lives not to mention over 25,000,000 lives total from Japan, China, Germany, France, Italy England, Poland and other countries involved and included many years of fighting. There is no such thing as an "easy, clean and well planned out" war. It takes blood and guts and a WILL TO WIN even when mistakes are made.

The wimps of America and other Countries have forgotten that to win takes courage and that seems to be lacking among some on both sides of the aisle and for those who lack it... you ought to be ahsamed.

Posted by: Carol at May 22, 2007 12:39 AM

Michael, once again, you've turned the chickenhawk point into a straw man. The argument is not a normative claim that we should only listen to veterans on military matters, Starship Troopers style, as you would have it, but a straightforward question of credibility: specifically, whether we should take more seriously a person's words, or their actions.

So, when someone tells us that Iraq is fundamentally important to our national security, but is not prepared to make any personal sacrifice towards winning it, the person is either lying about their beliefs or they are morally deficient.

It's that simple.

(Please understand that I am not accusing you of falling into this category. I seem to recall you saying once that you were turned down for military service because of a previous foot injury - clearly that puts you in a different class of military age non-combatant hawk ... although I bet they've lowered their standards since you tried!)

As for Kagan, well, I haven't the slightest idea why anyone would take anything that fool says seriously. The guy has been consistently wrong since this thing started, and yet his solution is always the same - only the reasons change. Where is the evidence that he has got any smarter since he was advocating this idiotic course in the first place?

Posted by: J.B.S. at May 22, 2007 06:10 AM

So, when someone tells us that Iraq is fundamentally important to our national security, but is not prepared to make any personal sacrifice towards winning it, the person is either lying about their beliefs or they are morally deficient.


The 'chickenhawk' arguing tactic is a straightforward case of refusing to address the person's logic and evidence and instead attacking the character of the person making the argument.

By that standard of reasoning, the argument does not matter, all that counts is who is speaking.

Posted by: rosignol at May 22, 2007 06:44 AM

Since many commenters mention Vietnam, it should be pointed out that we defeated the insurgency in Vietnam, that is the Viet Cong was destroyed in all but name. What we eventually lost to was the North Vietnamese Army. It should also be pointed out that the South Vietnamese repeled the North's offensive in 1973 without the help of a single US group troop. What enabled the North to win was: 1) they had a safe harbor in North Vietnam so that no matter what happened on the battlefield, they could always live to fight another day and 2) the South did not have the economy to sustain a major war effort without aid. (2) became critical after we withdrew aid from the South, leaving the South Vietnamese Army to fight the North with limited materiel.

As for fighting counterinsurgencies: look at the list of characteristics of successful and unsuccessful counterinsurgencies on page 1-29 of the Army/Marine Corps' current counterinsurgency manual. I'll just say that the successful methods have nothing to do with brutality and the unsuccessful methods have nothing to do with being soft.

Posted by: Scott Smith at May 22, 2007 07:59 AM

Mr. Totten,

I have read through this entire letter from Mr. Kagan and I would like to argue against it. It would be hard to list the points in the comments, if you could think of a forum to highlight the issues and assumptions, or at a minimum glaring ommission made in this article, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity.

Posted by: cjkinsey at May 22, 2007 09:03 AM

Reading Kagan's argument, it fails to distinguish itself from a list of other pro-surge articles touching on very similar points, including some I've read on this very website.

I'm sure Frederick Kagan is speaking from the heart with, perhaps, in some form, humanitarian intentions. He's fallen into a trap that even good people - and I am not rendering a judgement on the man, just the trap - can fall into quite easily.

The trap is the idea that because you want Iraqis to be free and safe and happy, you can do anything you want, advocate any policy you want, and furthermore completely ignore empirical evidence that you are achieving results contrary to your goals, as long as you believe you're working towards that goal (or maybe, just talking about working towards that goal). If you want to help - even if that desire to help is clouded with all sorts of other, overlapping goals and motives, then you are, goes the logic, therefore helping.

This was the fundamental mistake of "white man's burden" and good men in colonial systems. It's a mistake some people claim humanitarian workers make when they quote subsidize poverty unquote. It's a common mistake. By wrapping his story in anecdotal examples of Iraqis clamoring "America, stay here, we love you", Kagan indirectly asks us to stay because the Iraqis, supposedly, want and need our help and are begging us to stay.

That would be a great reason to stay. The article creates a pull. But empirically, I know that majorities of the Sunni and Shia Iraqi population approve of attacks on U.S. forces. This fact clashes drastically with Kagan's script: either that fact or Kagan's script must be a lie.

I don't believe in Kagan's Iraq. It clashes with what I read from Iraqis writing in English. It clashes with what I read from regional publications. It clashes with most of what I read from non-war-hawk western voices.
Until Kagan provides data, not anecdotes, his stories are Potemkin villages to me.

Kagan doesn't tell us how he got to mean all these wonderful, pro-US Iraqis - just one example of the manipulativeness and lack of context of the article - but it seems likely he met them on an arranged tour from the U.S. military. In the most important way, this is analogous to the tours of Beirut Hizballah gives Western journalists - in a complicated situation, it's guaranteed that you will only hear one side of the story. In fact, the only reason Frederick Kagan gets to be embedded in the first place is because the mililtary knows he wants to find the story that they want to show him. He is, as alphie mentioned, the architect of the surge.

The rest of Kagan's arguments are similar in their reliance on speaking to the id and ignoring data. We have to stay in Iraq, he argues, because Al Queda wants to beat us there. An empirical review of the time between our 2003 invasion and now suggests that our presence in Iraq has made Al-Quieda stronger not weaker, but Kagan wants to drown out facts with a Hollywood image of a fight to the finish. We must beat Al-Quieda, the logic goes, as long as we want to really bad. The truth is, in a failed state undergoing a multi-sided civil war, "Al Queida" is just the name for whatever local faction is the most xenophobic, intolerant, religiously fanatic and murderous faction in the war. As Robert Kagan admits in his own article, this is not a straightforward fight of U.S. + Iraqi people vs. Al Quieda. Baathists, Shia militias, and Iranian actors also want us out. I say that we cannot win a war of elimination against the Al-Quieda faction from Iraq in these circumstances, and the empirical evidence is on my side. The lines between 'Al-Quieda' and the rest of the anti-U.S. insurgency are too blurry. We're fighting in the best possible circumstances for Al-Quieda. Al-Quieda is a violent organization that can only grow by drawing the U.S. into complicated and bloody third-world fights and feeding off of those fights. Frederick Kagan thinks that we're Al-Quieda's enemy, but in this time and place, we're their meal ticket.

U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan increasingly is being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network.

....Little more than a year ago, Al Qaeda's core command was thought to be in a financial crunch. But U.S. officials said cash shipped from Iraq has eased those troubles. "Iraq is a big moneymaker for them," said a senior U.S. counterterrorism official.

However, with a minimum of U.S. troops in the area, we can monitor, disrupt, and destroy any forces interested in mounting international terror or other violent plots. That's the metric we need to be focusing on. We have been trying to use American troops and pressure to fabricate a military ending in Iraq that we do not have the leverage to create and have made little or no progress in creating to date. And our fixation on the "happy ending" in Iraq creates enough pressure on local actors allied with us to permanently clog and snarl down any ending that isn't the impossible one we're looking for.

Our presence in Iraq is a lightning rod. We have made it a regional battleground for every anti-American grievance within 1000 miles. The Iraqi people are suffering enormously as a result. I, too, have a soul, and I too, as a war opponent, want to see Iraq as a nation recover from the chaos imposed upon it. Frederick Kagan doesn't change my mind for an instant that U.S. control is part of the problem, not part of the solution, because I'm not, unlike Frederick Kagan, emotionally dependent on a particular outcome to the war. I'm looking at the literal consequences of our acts instead of what I so badly want those consequences to be.

Posted by: glasnost at May 22, 2007 09:58 AM

I cannot argue with this.

You ought to be able to argue with this, Mike. I'm sure your audience would be satisfied with pictures and stories, but if you want to do some good in the world, you'd better be able to argue with sales pitches. To do that, you have to be able to know the difference between an empirical analysis and a sales pitch.

Our current government is full of C students, fundamentally shallow leaders, leaders who literally can't tell the difference between a sound bite and a careful review of evidence. They run the country avoiding what they're afraid of, striking out at what they loathe, and backslapping to what they admire, and they may in fact loathe, fear, and admire all the right things, but they never investigate the results of what they mindlessly advocate or mindlessly set about implementing.

As a result, in every sphere of action they step into, they have damaged the causes they intended to promote.
In you want to back policies that work, instead of ones that backfire in ways that hurt people, you'd better be able to argue with an argument as unsubstantiated and vapid - no matter how sentimentally appropriate - as Kagan's. A lot of people should take that lesson from Iraq.

Posted by: glasnost at May 22, 2007 10:08 AM

glasnost: We have been trying to use American troops and pressure to fabricate a military ending in Iraq that we do not have the leverage to create and have made little or no progress in creating to date.

Let's see: because we have tried to do everything but mount a counterinsurgency effort and that has all failed we should not try to mount a counterinsurgency effort. Yes, most of Iraq is going poorly now. That's because we have done everything that you should not do in a counterinsurgency and very few of the things that you should do. The exceptions to that pattern show what counterinsurgency is capable of: 101 Airborne, 1 Marine, 1-1 Armored, 3 ACR, 2-10 Mountain all have kept the peace in their AOs, as long as they stayed there. 1-1 Armored is of particular not because it brought a semblance of peace to Ramadi which was as Baghdad declared hopeless, much as Baghdad is now, when the operation started.

For those who say that counterinsurgency could work in those places but not in Baghdad because we can't get enough troops: if your analysis starts with troop numbers, you don't understand counterinsurgency. Troops matter, but other things matter more. To take the initial postinvasion phase as an example, if we had an extra division to patrol the border or extra brigades to deploy companies to guard the munitions depots, it would have helped. Having more and larger units for hunt and destroy missions would not have made one bit of difference. As one previous commenter wrote, we banged down doors instead of knocking. It does not take any extra troops to knock instead barge in, but knocking makes a world of difference in terms of results. When Tikrit transitioned from 1 Marine to 4 Infantry, things deteriorated rapidly, even though it was a division for a division because the tactics changed.

Just give the tactics that have worked a chance.

Posted by: Scott Smith at May 22, 2007 04:08 PM

"The trap is the idea that because you want Iraqis to be free and safe and happy, you can do anything you want, advocate any policy you want, and furthermore completely ignore empirical evidence that you are achieving results contrary to your goals..."-Glasnost

Forgive me if I am not getting the above point, but I think specifically naming one particular goal is noteworthy. The crucial success-necessary need to gain a (relative) ally there.

I haven't heard or read anyone anywhere make a case that this is not/shouldn't be worthy of achieving. Until a case is made to the contrary, I think it's reasonable to expect arguments to remain in the parameters of achieving this end.

Also, I think it is this context that the mentioning of the children and families was in. Not in any emotional appeal sense.

Posted by: anuts at May 22, 2007 08:17 PM

Glasnost is quite reasonable sounding, but still wrong -- the facts in Darfur show that Arab Muslims are able and willing to murder, murder, rape, and murder some more.

Murderous Islamic fanatic terrorists are evil, and if not fought, will win.

The "Glasnost policy" in Darfur, as compared to the "Kagan policy" in Iraq, looks to me to be more hopeful in Iraq.

Glasnost: "I say that we cannot win a war of elimination against the Al-Quieda faction from Iraq in these circumstances, and the empirical evidence is on my side."
If it is the US, only, winning, perhaps. But if it is US supported pro-democracy folks in Iraq, I don't believe G has empirical evidence of a better way to transition to democracy after dictatorship in an Islamic Arab society.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at May 22, 2007 08:35 PM

If you can't argue with it your probably not fit to be commenting on foreign policy because what Kagan has done is mold an agument out of base sentimentality and invalid historical comparisons.
No nation can survive by believing in nothing but its own bullshit, there has to be some respect for reality and a certain stoicism in the face of death. To follow Kagan's logic to the end is to engage America in romantic wars without end for the rest of the life of the Republic.
The last great nation to play that game of romantic liberal warfare was revolutionary and napoleonic France. That 25 year crusade ended with the Russians in Paris. A similar result awaits an America of endless romantic war.

Leaving Iraq is the first step in securing victory in this war on takfiris, like leaving Vietnam paved the way for the cold war victory. You should consult (Ret) General Odom on this.

Posted by: Northern Observer at May 23, 2007 08:20 AM

mullah cimoc say ameriki needing for remember vietnam war ending.

when last helicopter fly away usa embassey how long before gun of war go the silent?

Answer: 3 day and then peace more than 30 years among vietnam people. back then time usa govt and control media say the same lying excuse for continue the kill.

special important: not the single viet cong coming for attack amerika during all this thirty year.

now patriotc ameriki man him needing for destroy israeli spy operations in usa start with eliminate neocon spy ops in usa.

then ameriki becoming the free again.

Posted by: mullah cimoc at May 25, 2007 05:19 PM
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