August 29, 2007

In the New York Daily News

The opinion page editor of the New York Daily News asked me to write an article for him and say whether I think the surge in Iraq is working or not. The truth is that it's complicated, and I could easily write 10,000 words on the subject. But I was limited to 650 words because there is only so much space on his page. Ah, newspapers. The Internet has spoiled me.

So here's the really really short version of what I think of the surge.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 29, 2007 11:06 AM
Comments

I’m sure you’re right when you say, “that's not what many Americans and politicians want to hear.” Culturally, waiting doesn’t seem to be our strong point. The surge is barely out of the driveway and we’re crying, “Are we there yet?” I get the feeling it’s going to be a long trip. I just hope Dad doesn’t get fed up and turn the car around.

Good stuff as always sir. Thank you. Just one question, where are the other 70 words? I only count 580.

Posted by: Abby Normal at August 29, 2007 11:58 AM

Abby, those missing words are the ones in which one has to read between the lines .

America is not known for taking the long view, either in the public or private sector. We are an amazing country, hopefully we can, at the end of the day, do this job right.

The upcoming presidential election doesn't help; very partisan, self-serving postures by too many of our political class. Hopefully we will have sufficient competent leadership to continue on for a bit longer.

How long? Darned if I know, but to quit now would neither be in America's nor the Middle East's best interest.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at August 29, 2007 12:27 PM

Criminy! It's too late here on the East Coast for me to go out and buy a copy!

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 29, 2007 01:26 PM

My 96 year-old grandma lives for her copy of the Daily News. She reads it from cover to cover and does the crosswords. It's so cool that she'll be reading your article.

Posted by: mary at August 29, 2007 04:19 PM

Seems like we'll never know if anything we did in Iraq worked until we pull our troops out and let the Iraqis try to run their country on their own.

You're not really riding a bike if your dad is still holding it up...

Posted by: e at August 29, 2007 04:40 PM

Wow, I would consider this an extremely positive article given it comes from such liberal quarters. I will wait with a positive attitude toward a surge that will work and an invitation from the Iraqis to stay in country in some force for some time. I do believe this will be the outcome. Our new embassy, our military and our diplomats will work the miracles of the next thirty years to create a more peaceful Middle-East for the future. Imagine how much sooner this will come to fruition if all of our doubting Thomases, political opportunists/sabateurs and naysayers just 'shut up' for a while.

Betty

Posted by: Bette at August 29, 2007 05:31 PM

"There is only one thing to do: Wait."

Your 650 words condensed to eight.

To which I would add; How long? Is 2 more years
enough?

Posted by: semanticleo at August 29, 2007 05:54 PM

Michael I truly appreciate your work and unique and most TRUTHFUL view. I am so saddened at most reporting about the ME in general, so you are an unbelievable breath of fresh air. I am so curious about your perspective about another matter...what do you think about Iran? Also, you really should look up terrorist bloopers on youtube. It's funny. If the terrorists weren't so serious about ending and obliterating our civilization - they would be funny. I say funny because they are so focused on death....and not on life. Also you should pick up The Gifts of the Jews a book by Thomas Cahill. It's fabulous.

Best of luck,

Natalie

feel free to email me if you would like at nwetjen@gmail.com

Posted by: Natalie at August 29, 2007 06:11 PM

Maybe the question should be: How much money do we have to spend before we can leave Iraq?, Semant.

Bush is asking every single American family to kick in $2000 next year for the neocon's social experiment in Iraq.

Money that most American families, no doubt, have much more pressing uses for.

Posted by: e at August 29, 2007 06:23 PM

"Maybe the question should be: How much money do we have to spend before we can leave Iraq?, Semant."</i.-e

On the other hand maybe it isn't. I'm sure that in 1944 most Americans could have found a 'better' use for the VAST assets being 'wasted' on the War Effort.

I believe that I will conclude at this point because I feel a bout of 'intolerance' about to beset me. Bad for me ; worse for you.

Posted by: dougf at August 29, 2007 06:53 PM

"I'm sure that in 1944 most Americans could have found a 'better' use for the VAST assets being 'wasted' on the War Effort."

Perhaps you can list your evidence of waste, and/or comparable progress starting with the Allies landing at Normandy. Or would you like to use another VN analogy on the Iraq Model?

Posted by: semanticleo at August 29, 2007 07:07 PM

dougf,

Please don't compare WWII to the Iraq fiasco, it just identifies you as unserious.

At this point in the game, I think it's fair to talk about what cost the perpetual war crowd will be willing to pay if they are wrong.

At the very least, Petraeus and his brain trust should be willing to be busted back to buck privates and receive dishonorable discharges.

Pro-war pundits should be barred from ever offering up an opinion for money again.

Bush's Texas crony corporations that get a fat slice of the now $15 billion a month we're spending "in" Iraq should be seized and sold to pay down the war debt.

And the few citizens who still support the Iraq experiment should register to take in an Iraqi refugee if things go bad.

Put all that on the table and I'd back another spin of the nation-building roulette wheel...

Posted by: e at August 29, 2007 07:12 PM

Michael,

You recommend that we wait. How long? The nine years that General Petraeus recommends?

Just how would we manage that seeing that the Army will run out of fresh soldiers next April? Are we to reinstitute the draft? How can we physically maintain the surge if our soldiers are running on empty? Does not this do major harm to our ability to counter some other hot war elsewhere? If our forces are exhausted how is that good for our national security?

Secondly, how can we wait when all talk is about EXPANDING the war into Iran? How does expanding the war into Iran benefit our surge? How does making 100 million MORE people make our surge a success?

If the purpose of the surge is to make peace in Iraq, then why do we continue rattling our sabers at Iran? How does that make things better for our surge? Does not instigating Iran, making them feel wary, actually run COUNTER to the purposes of the surge, which is to make Iraq a peaceful nation? If we goad Iran into attacking us, does that not significantly degrade the peace in the Middle East?

I want to see a peaceful Middle East, but I keep hearing all the wrong things from supporters of this war. I cannot in good conscience support you guys if you keep talking like this.

If you really want this surge to succeed, you must STOP badgering Iran. It doesn't matter what Iran does. Let them do what they like. The more we highlight what they do, the more they will do it. What's the point in that? It certainly does nothing to improve security in Iraq, and therefore detrimental to the surge.

If you want the surge to succeed, you must STOP killing civilians even accidentally. Airstrikes MUST stop! They are so detrimental, that I really wonder if General Petraeus really wrote that counterinsurgency manual. Does he not realize that any civilian death is a significantly detrimental step backwards in a counterinsurgency?

You are correct that there are areas of Iraq where peace seems to have come. But I honestly don't see how they are the result of the surge. In Anbar province, for example, it wasn't the surge that convinced the local Sunni sheiks to turn against Al-Qaeda. They began turning against Al-Qaeda last September, months before the surge began. More American soldiers died this summer as compared to last summer. Iraqis continue dying at an alarming rate. So just what has the surge actually done?

Has the surge succeeded in its stated goals of allowing room for political reconciliation? Nope. I don't see any political solutions right now in Iraq. Parliament members are leaving the government in droves. There is talk of a coup. These are not signs of progress! How can anyone claim otherwise?

Posted by: Dan at August 29, 2007 07:15 PM

So what are we waiting FOR, exactly? We passify the place, eventually there's a government that can keep it up, and even longer after that, there's some kind of economy?

Is that economy going to be just another oil-based one, where whoever controls the oil controls the entire country? Saudi Arabia without the royal family?

Or do we expect Iraq to join places like China and invite in factories making cheap goods, for $1 an hour? Would Iraqis take those jobs, even assuming multinationals wanted to invest in the area, assuming the infrastructure was up to it, and assuming they could underbid places like China or India?

I'd still like someone to report on the Kurdish areas, what their economy looks like and what keeps it going? If it's just American military spending and oil, that doesn't look sustainable.

Posted by: Michael at August 29, 2007 07:48 PM

If you really want this surge to succeed, you must STOP badgering Iran...Does not instigating Iran, making them feel wary, actually run COUNTER to the purposes of the surge, which is to make Iraq a peaceful nation? If we goad Iran into attacking us, does that not significantly degrade the peace in the Middle East?

Dan, I don't support an overt military action against Iran, but really, you protest a bit too much here. Are you just driven to bouts of hysteria when anyone says something positive about the US military?

Michael didn't even mention Iran in his Daily News piece. What is prompting this verbal flailing?

Posted by: mary at August 29, 2007 08:02 PM

Shave! That is all.
some amog

Posted by: amog at August 29, 2007 10:33 PM

I still want to know what country (or city) dan lives in. Anybody know?

Posted by: mikek at August 29, 2007 11:12 PM

Please don't compare WWII to the Iraq fiasco, it just identifies you as unserious.

At this point in the game, I think it's fair to talk about what cost the perpetual war crowd will be willing to pay if they are wrong.

At the very least, Petraeus and his brain trust should be willing to be busted back to buck privates and receive dishonorable discharges.

Pro-war pundits should be barred from ever offering up an opinion for money again.

What's wrong with using the WWII analogy? We had less wealth then and a much more volatile economy. We can better afford to fight now then we ever could before, or don't your numbers admit that?

If you can show incompetence, by all means try a run at Petraeus. Everybody I've spoken to who has met him is tremendously impressed with his intelligence and competence. You seem to be operating on the bewildering notion that that military leaders who are right never lose. Grant and Sherman both lost fights, but they won the war against better generals.

Finally, I'm sure that the pro-war faction would be happy to give up all pay for speaking engagements if the anti-war side did. It's not like the pro-war people can't get real jobs outside of a university. How many anti-war activists go on to become Fortune 500 CEO's anyway? A lot fewer than come from the military, but then the corporate world is looking for different kind of leadership. Competent leadership is not a key anti-war virtue anymore, is it?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 30, 2007 12:01 AM

Patrick,

Maybe we should wait until another freeway bridge falls down before we discuss whether we can "afford" to bet another $180,000,000,000 on Iraq next fiscal year, okay?

As for Petraeus, his rep seems to be based on his work in Mosul and training the Iraqi army...both utter failures as far as I can see.

If the pro-war crowd set the bar for military intelligence and competence any lower, it would be underground.

Posted by: e at August 30, 2007 12:22 AM

If you want the surge to succeed, you must STOP killing civilians even accidentally.

"Even" accidentally?

Let's assume that was just a brain-o.

Airstrikes MUST stop! They are so detrimental, that I really wonder if General Petraeus really wrote that counterinsurgency manual. Does he not realize that any civilian death is a significantly detrimental step backwards in a counterinsurgency?

The idea that General Petraeus doesn't understand the consequences of civilian casualties... did you expend even an ounce of thought while vomiting up that rambling rant?

I'm reminded of Truman Capote's famous critique of Jack Kerouac:

"That's not writing, that's typing."

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at August 30, 2007 12:31 AM

Mary,

Dan, I don't support an overt military action against Iran, but really, you protest a bit too much here. Are you just driven to bouts of hysteria when anyone says something positive about the US military?

No I don't. Just look at all the evidence around you about how neo-cons are pressing for war with Iran. This question of expanding the war with Iran MUST be asked in relation to the surge, because any expansion of warfare will dramatically affect the purposes of the surge, which is to LESSEN violence, not increase it. If you expand the war into a whole other country, you increase the violence dramatically, and therefore completely undermine the purposes of the surge. Unless of course the point of the surge is a complete lie and is really meant just to kick the can down to the next administration.

I'm not overreacting about Iran. The White House wants war with Iran. The White House must be stopped.

Posted by: Dan at August 30, 2007 03:31 AM

How does this change things?

The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said Wednesday that he was suspending for six months his Mahdi Army militia’s operations, including attacks on American troops, only hours after his fighters waged running street battles with Iraqi government forces for control of Karbala, one of Iraq’s holiest cities.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 30, 2007 03:59 AM

I think this is what the future in Iraq will look like...

Endgame: American Options in Iraq
http://www.military.com/forums/0,15240,147308,00.html

Posted by: EmbersFire at August 30, 2007 04:41 AM

EmbersFire,

That is a very interesting article, however, I'm actually surprised that the author, who writes pretty lucidly, seems to not understand that the real power in the Middle East is not Iran, but Saudi Arabia. The author writes:

The weakness of this strategy is that it opens the door for Iran to dominate Iraq. Unless the Turks wanted to fight the Iranians, there is no regional force that could stop Iran from moving in, whether covertly, through the infiltration of forces, or overtly. Remember that Iran and Iraq fought a long, vicious war -- in which Iran suffered about a million casualties. This, then, simply would be the culmination of that war in some ways. Certainly the Iranians would face bitter resistance from the Sunnis and Kurds, and even from some Shia. But the Iranians have much higher stakes in this game than the Americans, and they are far less casualty-averse, as the Iran-Iraq war demonstrated. Their pain threshold is set much higher than the Americans' and their willingness to brutally suppress their enemies also is greater.

The fate of Iraq would not be the most important issue. Rather, it would be the future of the Arabian Peninsula. If Iran were to dominate Iraq, its forces could deploy along the Saudi border. With the United States withdrawn from the region -- and only a residual U.S. force remaining in Kuwait -- the United States would have few ways to protect the Saudis, and a limited appetite for more war. Also, the Saudis themselves would not want to come under U.S. protection. Most important, all of the forces in the Arabian Peninsula could not match the Iranian force.

The Iranians would be facing an extraordinary opportunity. At the very least, they could dominate their historical enemy, Iraq. At the next level, they could force the Saudis into a political relationship in which the Saudis had to follow the Iranian lead -- in a way, become a junior partner to Iran. At the next level, the Iranians could seize the Saudi oil fields. And at the most extreme level, the Iranians could conquer Mecca and Medina for the Shia. If the United States has simply withdrawn from the region, these are not farfetched ideas. Who is to stop the Iranians if not the United States? Certainly no native power could do so. And if the United States were to intervene in Saudi Arabia, then what was the point of withdrawal in the first place?

I don't think this author understands that Saudi Arabia is a far richer and far more powerful nation than Iran is. For example, Saudi Arabia spends about $30 billion annually on their defense budget, whereas Iran spends about $9 billion. That's over three times as much as Iran. And Iran is the most powerful nation in the Middle East? Please!

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is already quite strongly involved in the future of Iraq, arming and supplying Sunni insurgents who are killing our soldiers and Shi'ite death squads. They are not some passive entity in the Middle East. They are quite strongly involved.

No, Saudi Arabia is no junior partner with Iran.

Furthermore, Sunni Saudis will never agree to be a junior partner with Shia Iranians. Why any American thinks otherwise is beyond me.

Posted by: Dan at August 30, 2007 06:07 AM

the perpetual war crowd

That just disqualified you as someone serious. Reading the rest of your post only confirmed it.

Posted by: Carlos at August 30, 2007 06:29 AM

I'm trying to highlight the positive as well as the negative here, Mike.

From the positive: I understand your position. It's logical in a bubble, i.e. if there were no consequences to waiting and only consequences to aborting. It's logical as an abstraction, "evidence inconclusive. Answer: wait for conclusiveness."
And it's really the most I expected.

From the negative, though, it's going to be two more years of violence and dysfunction for a war that should never have been started, in the name of preventing a hypothetical boogeyman ('genocide when we leave!') or, more honestly, protecting America's prestige, or the self-esteem of the people involved in the project. Another US $100,000,000,000 is a conservative estimate.

And in two years, when things are still violent, dysfunctional, and inconclusive, we'll be asked for two more years. Petraeus is smart, hedges his bets, and says ten years.

I for one, am tired of being asked to underwrite incompetent social change at gunpoint. For any serious antiwar advocate, it's time to stop blogging and get into the streets. The last man, Iraqi or American, to die for our fallacy of control - i.e., a mistake, could come a lot earlier, otherwise.

Posted by: glasnost at August 30, 2007 06:43 AM

Patience isn't one of our best qualities as Americans. But it is worth pointing out that this country we live in didn't exactly just pop out of a box and start up in 6 months. It took years to draft and ratify the constitution. And that was from citizens willing and understanding of what it means to live in an independent, democratic nation. I don't see how we can even argue about Iraq taking too much time to get its feet off the ground.

Posted by: Jen B at August 30, 2007 07:15 AM

Well, any study of counter-insurgency as run by an occupying force would show Petraeus has the more likely numbers. Since Mao, insurgencies know to hit when they can and disappear when they need to. If we 'pacify' Baghdad and reduce troops, it's likely that the whole mess will simply restart. That's how insurgents fight. Ten years is probably a very good bet.

The problem we have here in the states is one of honesty. The supporters of Bush and the NeoCons can't admit that the Administration, Pehtagon, State Dept and Congress really screwed up. Thinking that we could take Iraq with a handful of soliders, have no concern about insurgency and pay for the war via Oil Revenue was naive, to say the least. Millitary games had been played out and the recommendations (from a year earlier) were completely disregarded in favor of something the American people would buy (fast, cheap and easy). The American people are turning against the war, because it's not fast, cheap and easy.

So now we have the same group that told us it would be fast, cheap and easy (as well as full of WMD's), telling us that we must be patient and that things are improving. yet, this is the same bullshit like that they've been selling for two years. Two years ago we heard "Things are getting better in Iraq, the media simply isn't reporting it!!!" Now, two years later, more people are dying than then. So instead of saying "Sorry, we were wrong, maybe we need to look for other options..." the group remains steadfast in their path. Steadfast in a path that has yet to be right on any count. Wrong on the cost, wrong on the response of the Iraqis, wrong on the WMD's, wrong on the level of violence, wrong on the "imrpovements". On top of that, we have corporations profiting from the war and money being grossly mishandled. Leaving Iraq now would probably result in a horrific massacre, but if the American people can't trust the leadership to be honest and right at least some of the time... there will be a withdraw and a massacre.

Mabe its time that the neo-cons decide if they're going to sacrifice their pride for the good of the Iraqi people... or if they're going to refuse to admit their mistakes as Iraq descends into madness and the American people turn to the liberals.

Ewwww

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 07:28 AM

A speech from an Iraq Vet;

http://www.mnblue.com/brendan_day_story

excerpt;

"I learned to be extremely wary of the Iraqi soldiers and police officers. They had outposts all over the city, but some how they never saw or heard anything when we were attacked. At some point the decision was made to station Iraqi army regulars on our base. For some reason the mortar attacks we endured every few days became more accurate and many of the raids that we went on with them were exercises in futility because the targets seemed to know that American soldiers were on the way before we ever left the wire."

another;

"I learned how to cope with the torment of suicidal thoughts, and that I’m not alone in that. A handful of guys from my unit confessed to me that they are plagued with the same thoughts. If that’s not bad enough, a few developed a nasty little habit known as cutting. If you’re unfamiliar with the term I’ll outline it for you. When someone experiences severe emotional trauma or is put in a position where they must numb themselves from life they may seek to feel something else. Sitting alone in a room with a knife, they cut themselves, and they feel something else."

Posted by: semanticleo at August 30, 2007 07:39 AM

I don't think this author understands that Saudi Arabia is a far richer and far more powerful nation than Iran is. For example, Saudi Arabia spends about $30 billion annually on their defense budget, whereas Iran spends about $9 billion. That's over three times as much as Iran. And Iran is the most powerful nation in the Middle East?

Saudi Arabia spends more money on defense, but their standard military defenses are remarkably weak. Iran's standard military defenses are also weak. As Mark Steyn said, the combined military forces of the Arab armies make Belgium look butch. Their offical military forces are so weak, they're irrelevant. Probably the strongest Islamist military force in the area is Hezbollah.

The only power these weak states have is in their terrorist paramilitary forces, like al Qaeda and Hezbollah. They use these paramilitary forces to create 'insurgencies', 'separatist' movements and 'militant' actions in nations like Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, India and Thailand. That's how they're fighting their war against the world. If we invaded Iran, we could easily win, but we'd have to deal with the resulting 'insurgent' war. That's why I don't support any overt military action against Iran.

I'm not overreacting about Iran. The White House wants war with Iran. The White House must be stopped.

The administration seems to have finally caught on to the paramilitary/insurgent tactic (it took them long enough), and they seem to be dealing pretty well with Iran's bloviations. There are some bloggers and pundits who are calling for military action against Iran, but the administration's actions don't indicate that they're planning to do anything overt. Any war we fight against Iran will probably involve intelligence agencies, diplomatic wrangling and the use of our unreliable Saudi allies.

Of course, Iran and Saudi arabia are playing their own games, and they're perfectly willing to work together against us when they have to. Their goals are the same as the terrorists they support. The administration apprears not to have caught on to this, and I don't think they ever will.

But, you say "the White house must be stopped?" Most Democrats and the Republicans plan to continue to play the same foreign policy games. How would you plan to "stop" the white house?

Posted by: mary at August 30, 2007 07:41 AM

"Maybe its time that the neo-cons decide if they're going to sacrifice their pride for the good of the Iraqi people... or if they're going to refuse to admit their mistakes as Iraq descends into madness and the American people turn to the liberals.--Tosk

Ah, Tosk. How I wish you had not used the neo-con thingy. It sounds so 'crass' coming from you. Almost like slumming .

I would probably classify myself as neo-connish, and I am perfectly willing to admit mistakes. I am ,in fact, just reading a book by Ali Allawi --- 'The Occupation of Iraq. Winning the War, Losing the Peace.'--- which sets out many of the 'mistakes' that were made. I'm sure that EVERYONE now understands the errors involved, but in recent memory have you heard ANY politician own up to mistakes unless faced by 8×10 glossies on the front page ? That would take a courage and a set of principles that none of them seem to possess.

I agree with you that what Bush should do is simply say quite plainly that the 'process' was screwed up. Tell it precisely as it was and is. But despite all the carnage(and I REALLY blame the exact Middle-East dysfunction that was one of the reasons for the thing in the first place), the old was every bit as bad as the new and the old had no chance of ever being anything but bad. 'Stability' was not a per se a 'good thing'. So to say that the 'present' invalidates the thing is to ignore the thing that was there in a prior life. According to polls 'most'(by a large margin) Iraqis are still pleased that Saddam and his spawn are feeding the demons as we speak. What they are now pissed about are the exact same things WE are pissed about.

But the foundation problem is as you have stated it --" The American people are turning against the war, because it's not fast, cheap and easy."

It's perhaps not only the 'Administration' that lacks 'honesty'. And Administration 'honesty' at this point would not make things 'fast, cheap, and easy'.

Fast,cheap, and easy is the only way a significant portion of society can handle its reality. That's probably partially why the system is a 'representative' form of rule, and not a more 'direct' form of 'democracy'. It has never trusted those 'fast,cheap, and easy' people to DO anything worthwhile.

Anyhoo, the situation will now trundle on for better or worse until at least 2009. My concern is much more that a system that spends I believe something like 400 BILLION each year on defense, cannot supposedly sustain a 'small' war beyond mid-next year without 'breaking' its boots on the ground components.

What Bush could do for the future is ensure that for 400 BILLION the USA gets a military that can sustain itself even if it means fewer new toys. Toys that will never get used except in a major war which will not occur before the toys become obsolete and become mere hand-me downs.

ps-- I would not have a problem with REAL 'liberals' being turned to by the American People. But there are seemingly none available. Just 'progressives'. Turning to them for foreign policy in a time of crisis, is indicative of a death wish. And you will get what you pay for. Except the payments will be on the installment plan.

Posted by: dougf at August 30, 2007 08:18 AM

"because it's not fast, cheap and easy."

NeoCon mistake #1. All the things they promised.

Posted by: semanticleo at August 30, 2007 08:28 AM

I'm one of those internationalist interventionist liberal hawks who was in favor of this war, so I suppose in the minds of e, Dan, Glasnost and a few others I ought to have the decency to STFU or possibly even defenestrate myself, but before I consider those options I would like to remind everyone that this is 2007, not 2003, and at this point the only question that really means half a shit is just how soon we will settle for abandonment and a bloodbath. And I have little doubt that is indeed what we will do. I don't have any brilliant ideas of how to avoid it, and I don't know how to avoid the conclusion that abandonment would be an ineradicable stain on the souls on ALL of us, and the end of any chance at international help for victims of genocide or totalitarianism for a generation or two. But I wish the people who keep advocating it would put at least a little energy into thinking of some alternatives, and for a certain subset of those who keep advocating it, I wish they would have the decency to at least feel bad about it.

Posted by: Gene at August 30, 2007 08:39 AM

I would not have a problem with REAL 'liberals' being turned to by the American People. But there are seemingly none available. Just 'progressives'. Turning to them for foreign policy in a time of crisis, is indicative of a death wish.

Uh, doug? The ME is currently an inferno due to the incompetent and ham-fisted foreign policy thrashings of the conservative crowd. It's pretty ballsy to indicate that liberals (or "progressives", the new mot du jour) are bad at it.

C'mon man. Politicians aren't the only ones who won't admit mistakes.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 08:42 AM

Mary,

But, you say "the White house must be stopped?" Most Democrats and the Republicans plan to continue to play the same foreign policy games. How would you plan to "stop" the white house?

The only thing you can do, continue the pressure on Democrats and Republicans in power. Continue educating Americans of the wrongness of a war with Iran. Eventually, when enough Americans are against it, politicians will have to pay attention because they will lose their positions of power. Heck, we might have another situation as before the Civil War, where the Whigs were relegated to history and transformed into the Republican party because they couldn't keep up with the times.

Short of a full revolution there isn't much more we can do.

Posted by: Dan at August 30, 2007 08:44 AM

But I wish the people who keep advocating it would put at least a little energy into thinking of some alternatives, and for a certain subset of those who keep advocating it, I wish they would have the decency to at least feel bad about it.

I opposed the war, but now feel a great deal of reluctance to advocate anything but escalation, primarily to prevent a humanitarian disaster and a major crisis in the Middle East. But even that, I think, is inevitable at this point.

US troops will probably be coming home in the next year or so, and there will be a bloodbath in Iraq. I hope not, and I hope that the influence of the US is not permanently crushed in the region.

The only bucket of gasoline that remains to be tossed into the flames at this point is whether Bush intends to bomb Iran. I suspect that he does.

In short, I feel really bad about what has happened to Iraq, and worse about what is to come. And alternatives? What alternatives?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 08:51 AM

Gene,

Your comment seems to indicate that a bloodbath is all but inevitable. No one is sure of it. Heck, don't we currently have a bloodbath in Iraq? I mean, when you have thousands of Iraqis die each month from violence, that, to me, qualifies as a bloodbath.

Who knows, mayhap Sunnis and Shi'ites won't go after each other with the ferocity some claim once we're gone. We won't know until it happens, of course.

The point is, however, that we're talking about what may happen or not happen in Iraq, but we're completely forgetting about the most important point of our mission in Iraq, and that is our soldiers. Come next April, our Army will no longer have any fresh troops to send over to Iraq. Why are we not talking about that? What will happen when next April comes around? Are we going to force our soldiers to stay for an even longer tour? Why are we not preparing them now for that near inevitability? Does not this exhaustion of our best line of defense weaken us from other threats? Is the mission in Iraq worth the cost of not being able to handle other hot wars that might pop up while we're heavily involved in Iraq?

Our soldiers are not machines. They are human beings. If we truly support them, we must talk about how we are using them. We need a strong military. If we keep expending them in an endless mission in Iraq, well, that to me is a complete waste of a most priceless resource: our military. If there is no clear end in sight (and at this point there is no clear end in sight), then there is no point to this mission.

Iraq is now for Iraqis to deal with. Iraq is now for its neighbors to deal with, and yes that means Iran too. We cannot pretend Iran doesn't have a vested interest in what goes on in Iraq. We also cannot pretend to try and prevent Iranian influence in Iraq. It is inevitable. They are neighbors. They share many similar cultural eccentricities. They will be close. Americans cannot do anything about that.

Posted by: Dan at August 30, 2007 08:52 AM

dougf,

I didn't intend neo-con to be a slur. I was referencing the group of conservatives that planned, promoted and executed this war. They call themselves neo-conservatives, I just used their term.

Otherwise, I think we agree on pretty much all the other points. IF Bush, or even if senior senate republicans simply said "American people, we screwed up. We misjudged. We made a very big mistake in the planning and execution of this war... However, if we leave now, there will be horrible bloodshed." Maybe, just maybe if the American people heard honesty for once from Washington... maybe they would be willing to listen to options. Right now, though, the people who backed the mistakes are still the people backing the current plan... that doesn't really give me a good feeling.

The mistakes we made in this war weren't huge revelations. We haven't broken new ground in some futuristic war. I don't know if it was hubris, naivety or simply bad planning... but the planners failed and its the same planners who now back a surge (again crafted to appear as a quick, easy and cheap fix). If anyone expects the American people to stick with this mess (and stick with the Republican party as leaders), someone has to come clean about the whole mess. That means publicly admitting screwups and publicly stating (as our General already has) that this "surge" isn't fast, cheap or easy... in fact, if we hope to succeed in Iraq (whatever the hell that means at this point), its going to be expensive, slow and difficult. Maybe honesty will make up for some of the errors. Then, they're going to have to convince the American people that a slow, expensive and painful process for Americans is worth it.

That's gonna be a hard sell, because as our Commander in Chief once said:

"Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 09:01 AM

Your comment seems to indicate that a bloodbath is all but inevitable. No one is sure of it.

No, we're not. An accord might be hammered out between the various factions that avoid it. The removal of the US training wheels might push the Iraqis into a position of greater compromise. Enough democratic infrastructure might already be in place to allow a relatively peaceful settling of issues.

But Iraq is and always has been a society under tension. It's currently a humming wasp nest, and the democratic institutions are imposed and new. There isn't much reason to be optimistic.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 09:09 AM

"C'mon man. Politicians aren't the only ones who won't admit mistakes.--dpu

Hi guy. We have been down this road before methinks. So rather than beat the poor horse again I will merely say, that NOTHING that has been learned about ME society/government/attitudes SINCE the Invasion has altered my conclusions that the place was a MESS long before 2003.

Yes the more obvious destruction now evident IS absolutely resultant from the 2003 Invasion, and as you say "the incompetent and ham-fisted foreign policy thrashings of the conservative crowd". I personally think I could have done a better job than Bush in 'deciding' how to react to events. But sometimes I get delusional so I cannot really confirm that suspicion.

But there remains the question of whether the issues relate to the 'What' or to the 'How'. I still believe in a form of the 'What', although I disdain almost ALL of the 'How'. So I can't really admit my 'mistake' as you urge. The 'process' was absolutely flawed and run by 'idjits'. I accept full responsibility for not seeing earlier how INCOMPETENT they really were.

But the 'thing' that the 'process' was intended to accomplish ---- still not at the , Whoa, that was a truly BAD idea, man.

You seem to think that Iraq is the CAUSE of ALL the obvious problems in the area. I tend more to believe that Iraq is more like a window INTO the problems of the area. Careless and incompetent 'process' has allowed the contagions to become more virulent in much the same way as poorly accomplished surgery will allow infection to grow. But the infection was growing under the surface anyway. Just more slowly and out of sight. It was still as deadly but on a different time frame.

Bush's incompetence has perhaps acted as an 'accerlerant' but the tinderbox was there in place patiently waiting for its time. It was not going away.

Anyhoo, nice to hear from you again after all this time.

ps--- Did you notice that poll that indicated that Muslim support for 'terror' and 'suicide killings' has gone down dramatically over the last 2 years in virtually EVERY region. Except in Palestine of course(colour me surprised). Coincidence ? Perhaps this too is one of the 'results' of 2003 as are the results in Anbar. Maybe allowing the monsters to come out and play in full sunlight is having some 'good' if unintended side effects. Maybe the monsters are losing precisely where they can most ill afford to lose.

Just a thought.

Posted by: dougf at August 30, 2007 09:20 AM

The 'process' was absolutely flawed and run by 'idjits'. I accept full responsibility for not seeing earlier how INCOMPETENT they really were.

Good. That was at least one point of contention a few years back.

You seem to think that Iraq is the CAUSE of ALL the obvious problems in the area. I tend more to believe that Iraq is more like a window INTO the problems of the area.

This is a bit like watching a guy whack a wasp's nest at a picnic with a stick, then say that the resulting sting-a-thon was a pre-existing situation and that the stick-whacking was merely a window into the nature of the wasps.

I just that's a bad idea to go around hitting wasp's nests like that. It doesn't mean that I'm rooting for the wasps, or that I think that wasps are not dangerous, or that I think hitting other things with a stick is always bad.

Did you notice that poll that indicated that Muslim support for 'terror' and 'suicide killings' has gone down dramatically over the last 2 years in virtually EVERY region.

Gwynne Dyer says in his latest book that the best way to end support for al Qaeda would be to let them take over every nation they want to. I think they'd all be hanging from meat hooks within a month.

But do you really think the mess in Iraq is the best way to get that across?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 09:35 AM

DPU,

Uh, doug? The ME is currently an inferno due to the incompetent and ham-fisted foreign policy thrashings of the conservative crowd. It's pretty ballsy to indicate that liberals (or "progressives", the new mot du jour) are bad at it.

I suppose all those people trying to create Arab racial hegemony or a fundamentalist Islamic Caliphate had nothing to do with the problems? What about the uneducated and impoverished tribal thugs of every race and religion in the area who kill people when their cultural norms are violated?

The Middle East was a basket of snakes before Gutenberg invented movable type, not the pristine wonderland of adaptive and tolerant innocents you assume. The cultures that survive at the source of all cultures are by definition intractable. All the toxic wastes of ten thousand years of civilization reside in this place and have nothing to do with the last six years of American unwillingness to serve as international punching bag.

The incompetent and ham-fisted accommodation of the liberal and realist herds did nothing to stop the violence in the Middle East, either. Rather the opposite.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 30, 2007 09:41 AM

"Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." ---Tosk

Hmmm, I put this particular verbal effort down to overdosing on the 'Who' at one point in time. ---:-)

What concerns me more than the verbal 'incompetence' which frankly any of us might have if we had to speak out all the time, is the 'hands-off'(to the point of uninvolvement) style of management. That is what,IMO, got us into this mess. As I said to DPU, I have delusuions that I might have done a 'better' job. I'm SURE that you could have. That's pretty sad. I don't care if the President merely grunts his orders as long as he knows what orders to grunt,and can SEE the reality on the ground as it is.

Posted by: dougf at August 30, 2007 09:42 AM

"But do you really think the mess in Iraq is the best way to get that across ?"---dpu

But it IS the way it is getting across, is it not ? Surely the 24-7 coverage of events there has to be considered the 'prime' factor behind this astonishing turn around in 'opinion'. Without the 'window', how could anyone see the 'view' ? Can you think of something else that might be behind the 'shift' ?

ps --This must be a flying pigs day. I actually find myself in agreement with Dyer on something other than the time of day. Maybe on this basis we should just then 'overthrow' ALL the 'moderate' regimes and trade short-term pain for long-term gain. Is that what you were getting at ?--- :-)

Posted by: dougf at August 30, 2007 09:53 AM

This must be a flying pigs day. I actually find myself in agreement with Dyer on something other than the time of day.

Surely not that surprising. You are a conservative, are you not? So is he.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 10:06 AM

The Middle East was a basket of snakes before Gutenberg invented movable type, not the pristine wonderland of adaptive and tolerant innocents you assume.

Patrick, I get really annoyed when people imagine what I think about something that has not even been discussed, and then state it as though it were coming out of my mouth. I haven't said a word about the tolerance and innocence of the Middle East. You just made that up and presented it as something I said.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 10:11 AM

But it IS the way it is getting across, is it not?

A better way would be encouraging democracy in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, all US allies. It's likely that an Islamist paty would come to power in at least one of those states, and then we'd likely see a quick flagging of support for them in the region.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 10:14 AM

A better way would be encouraging democracy in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, all US allies. It's likely that an Islamist paty would come to power in at least one of those states, and then we'd likely see a quick flagging of support for them in the region.

There was a quick flagging support for the Iranian mullocracy in the region after they took power. They're still in power, and no one has any coherent plans to do anything about it.

Islamist parties rule through fear and intimidation, and once they get power, they keep it. They don't need popular support, they've got petrodollars. If al Qaeda or their Muslim Brotherhood financiers gained real power, they would keep it until someone bigger and stronger got them out.

That thankless and costly job would fall on our shoulders, and all the while we'd have to listen to 'conservatives' like Dyer whining about what horrible warmongers we are. Thanks but no thanks.

Dyer is being a prat, as usual.

Posted by: mary at August 30, 2007 10:31 AM

Hmmm, I put this particular verbal effort down to overdosing on the 'Who' at one point in time. ---:-)

LOL

What concerns me more than the verbal 'incompetence' which frankly any of us might have if we had to speak out all the time,

Oh, I wasn't really trying to make a big deal out of Bush's lack of verbal skills... I mean, there's no need to shoot fish in a barrel. Besides, verbal skills do mot make a President. They might keep a President popular (see Clinton), but a person could be a good president in spite of their lack of public speaking skills. In the long run, I think history will judge Bush on more than his speeches... and I think it will not be a friendly historical view.

I agree with your assessment of Bush's "hand's off" approach. In fact, I think, if anything, Bush has shown us that the government shouldn't be run by a CEO. Hands Off management usually works pretty well in corporations, but a government is not a corporation and the President is not a CEO.

I don't care if the President merely grunts his orders as long as he knows what orders to grunt,and can SEE the reality on the ground as it is.

I couldn't agree more. I still see no sign that Bush sees reality now, he seems as caught up in the spin as ever. I'd love to trust my President, but not with a blind trust and right now, I don't see how anyone could trust Bush without simply covering their eyes, ears and shutting off their brain.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 10:35 AM

Good stuff, as always Mike!

The problem with telling the anti-war groups to "wait" (although I agree, we SHOULD wait), is that it doesn't satisfy their need for immediate results....err, make that, it doesn't satisfy their need for the immediate results they WANT.

If something CAN be cherry-picked and twisted into what the anti-war groups want it to be, they will do it. That means that "waiting", will be twisted, by them, into meaning "more dead troops" and "more iraqi civilians killed by our troops" and "more money for this war, and not for hand-outs to illegal immigrants"....etc etc etc.

:-\

The anti-war groups make it up as they go along. Historically, that's the way it's always been with them.

Posted by: LisaV at August 30, 2007 10:38 AM

Islamist parties rule through fear and intimidation, and once they get power, they keep it. They don't need popular support, they've got petrodollars. If al Qaeda or their Muslim Brotherhood financiers gained real power, they would keep it until someone bigger and stronger got them out.

So, democracy in the region is a bad idea? Or good? This is getting quite confusing.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 10:38 AM

..and encouraging an Islamist regime to take over Jordan?? Is Dyer high? This lunatic suggestion totally insults our intelligence.

Posted by: mary at August 30, 2007 10:40 AM

Sorry, still can't figure it out. Democracy good? Or bad? Jordan was making strides toward more democratic reforms for a while, and now has retreated slightly. Is that a positive thing or not?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 10:42 AM

Mary,

Islamist parties rule through fear and intimidation, and once they get power, they keep it. They don't need popular support, they've got petrodollars. If al Qaeda or their Muslim Brotherhood financiers gained real power, they would keep it until someone bigger and stronger got them out.

Every nation belongs to the people. The future of every nation belongs to the people. Until the people decide that there will be change, effective change will simply not happen. Not in Iraq, not in Iran, not anywhere. We need only look to northern Iraq for evidence of this.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 10:44 AM

LisaV,

The problem with telling the anti-war groups to "wait" (although I agree, we SHOULD wait), is that it doesn't satisfy their need for immediate results....err, make that, it doesn't satisfy their need for the immediate results they WANT.

You know, that's a very interesting position to take. Would you agree then to "wait" on Iran? Or do you wish to see "immediate results?"

Interestingly war proponents demanded from liberals back in 2002 that we shouldn't "wait" for a smoking gun. That we needed "immediate results." Now that you guys have F.U.B.A.R.ed this beyond repair, you desire that WE wait. For what exactly? You guys were wrong the first time. Why should we believe you now?

Posted by: Dan at August 30, 2007 10:45 AM

So, democracy in the region is a bad idea? Or good? This is getting quite confusing.

The purpose of war should be to win victory over one's enemy. After the enemy has lost power, a Marshall plan can work.

I never thought that installing a Marshall plan in the Middle East would work, since Islamist groups were gaining power in the area and we had no real plans to deal effectively with them.

Posted by: mary at August 30, 2007 10:46 AM

So, democracy bad then?

You're being quite unclear on this.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 10:48 AM

Every nation belongs to the people. The future of every nation belongs to the people. Until the people decide that there will be change, effective change will simply not happen. Not in Iraq, not in Iran, not anywhere. We need only look to northern Iraq for evidence of this.

The Kurds were able to gain power and create a stable society because we helped them do it. If you've read Michael's descriptions of life in Libya, you'd see how authoritarian regimes stay in power without popular support. The 'people' have no say at all in these countries.

Take Iran for example - if 'the people' did manage to overthrow the regime, and if they did try to install a nice, happy, secular democracy, Syria, Hezbollah and every other Islamist paramilitary group in the area would send in the insurgents. In a short time Iran would look just like Iraq.

Just having 'democracy' doesn't guarantee that a nation can defend its borders. Democracy is a good thing, but it's not a weapon of war. Only real weapons, and the will to use them, can defend a nation from a determined, genocidal, supremacist aggressor

Posted by: mary at August 30, 2007 11:02 AM

I don't care who is in the white house, not even Edwards would want to go down in history as the dumbass that pulled out of a country so a bloodbath can start. Despite all the rhetoric, the actual policy of whoever is elected next year won't be much different than any of the other candidates, it'll just sound different.

Posted by: cb at August 30, 2007 11:04 AM

Well, it's still unclear, but from what I can gather, Mary is off the "democratic lynchpin of the Middle East" bandwagon. The spread of democracy now seems a lesser consideration in the region.

I, however, still have high hopes for it, and think it an overall resilient form of government. I'm also opposed to all dictatorships in the region, not just the ones unfriendly to the US.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 11:10 AM

"So, democracy bad then?" --dpu

Liberal(or even quasi-liberal) Democracy --- Good.
'Islamic Theocrat Run' Democracy --- Not so much.

'Democracy' comes in several flavours. Some of which are not only 'unpleasant' but actually actively noxious. Simply because 'most' support an idea does not make that idea worth supporting. And you appear to 'forgetting' that Islamist groupings like the Muslim Brotherhood are seemingly altogether too close to the 'one man, one vote, one time' theory than is comfortable. It is merely 'prudent' for supporters of 'democracy' to wonder if such groups should be allowed to achieve power. As Mary says about Iran. Once in --- never out.

Posted by: dougf at August 30, 2007 11:20 AM

Simply because 'most' support an idea does not make that idea worth supporting. And you appear to 'forgetting' that Islamist groupings like the Muslim Brotherhood are seemingly altogether too close to the 'one man, one vote, one time' theory than is comfortable.

Extremism thrives when there is no peaceful alternative that allows change. If a reasonable constitution is in place, it makes it difficult to overthrow the structures of democracy. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood would likely find that it is one thing to be an expression of frustration with the local dictator, and quite another to try and get popular votes based on floggings and bans on booze and sex.

If the fear is that they would overthrow a dictatorship and replace it with another, well, that is always possible. It does not require a democracy to occur.

As Mary says about Iran. Once in --- never out.

Surely that statement would only be relevant if the Iranian regime had come to power through a democratic election? And the Iranian regime is always vulnerable to the growing youth demographic, which seems to find politics and religious fundamentalism less relevant than other more worldly pursuits. They are not a generation that was forged under opposition to a Shah. I wouldn't count them out unless we repoliticize them through a bombing campaign.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 11:32 AM

So why did we invade Iraq?

I recall once, that someone said it was the WMD's, but many people here corrected me last year and said it was actually to bring democracy to the Iraqis. I think I (and dpu and others) quoted Jefferson and others, in an attempt to point out that the Iraqis may neither want, nor be ready to handle democracy. I believe the response was to accuse us of being racist.

Now, suddenly democracy may not always be a good thing?

Is it really that much of a surprise that many citizens are just tuning out the supporters?

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 11:42 AM

I recall once, that someone said it was the WMD's, but many people here corrected me last year and said it was actually to bring democracy to the Iraqis. I think I (and dpu and others) quoted Jefferson and others, in an attempt to point out that the Iraqis may neither want, nor be ready to handle democracy. I believe the response was to accuse us of being racist.

I was actually just laughing about this, and was about to post an almost identical comment.

My position, along with others, was that while democracy is a powerful and flexible system of government, it was difficult to install from without (right-wing response at the time - "what about Japan and Germany", etc). Iraq lacked the preferred precursors to a democracy, like a healthy economy, a large middle class, a liberal tradition of tolerance and compromise for a greater good (ight wing response at the time - "you guys are racist"), and that a suddenly and externally implemented democracy in Iraq would likely result in a religiously fundamentalist and Iran-friendly elected government (R.W.R.A.T.T. - "you guys are racist").

Now that we are in the same position, that democracy is a desirable system of government in the Middle East, but needs to be implemented strategically and through reform, we're told by the same people that democracy is undesirable.

Odd, and quite funny.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 11:49 AM

Dan,

Yes...we should wait on Iran. Why? Glad you asked.

Because the anti-war groups have twisted what once was common sense regarding protecting one's nation and security. Now, because of their hold on the who/what/when/where/why regarding our own defense, we MUST wait until nearly the last possible second to go to war. Perhaps even wait until blood has been shed.

So yes...we must wait....because THAT is the place the anti-war zealots have backed us into.
My only question is...are THEY going to be the first to volunteer to lose that blood that must be spilled, so that we can then justify going to war? I'm not suggesting that's something I want...merely stating that the anti-war groups seem to believe that THEY will not be the ones on the losing end of things, if we wait one moment too long, and allow American blood to be spilled. They forget that all kinds of people died on 9/11, and the jihadi thugs didn't first ask "are you a republican or a democrat?".

So...when I say "yes, we must wait"...its ONLY because we now HAVE TO. Thanks to the anti-war groups.

I'm also fully prepared for the backlash of "why didn't we go in sooner"? from the same crowds, if/when we ARE hit again, all because we DIDN'T act fast enough.

No no....This is THEIR anti-war bed they've made, so I don't want to hear any complaints about the sheets when they crap them after the next attack comes.

Sometimes...that is the only way to teach the willfully ignorant a lesson. They will not "get it" until then.

Posted by: LisaV at August 30, 2007 11:51 AM

Gene:

You made some good points, i.e., "alternatives? or least feel bad."

"defenestrate myself" - typo? invented word?
Had to look it up: funny!!
"Throw myself out a window" - wonder where that word came from? Anyway, learned a new one today.

Tom in South Texas

Posted by: Tom at August 30, 2007 11:54 AM

LisaV,

You have got to be kidding, right?

You don't seriously believe that load of baloney you just dumped into a comment, do you? Our footing in Iran is all because of the anti-war people... none of the need to wait has resulted from the mess in Iraq, the fact that we're gonna be out of soldiers within the year or the fact that we've lost the respect of most, but not all other nations on the planet?

Further, 9/11 did kill all sorts of people. However, the leader of the group responsible is not in Iran. He's not in Iraq. So why bring it up? Oh I get it... you're gonna tie 9/11 to Iran since that tactic worked so well with Iraq, right?

We won't be invading Iran, because the American people got led into a mess with misinformation, bad planning, bizarre rationalizations and the people that led us there still haven't realized their mistakes. What do you expect people to do, blindly follow incompetent leaders?

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 12:00 PM

Now, suddenly democracy may not always be a good thing?

I've always said that we couldn't install a Marshall plan until we got rid of the fascist groups in the area. I've been saying that since 2004.

It wasn't a case of the Iraqis (or the Germans) not being able to 'handle' democracy, it was just a question of doing things in the right order. You don't paint over rotten wood and expect it to stick. You don't remove a wasps nest until the wasps are dormant.

I've also been saying that we invaded Iraq following the Carter Doctrine, which stated that we will take military action to preserve 'stability' in the area. According to Bob Woodward and Richard Clarke, that still is true:

Bob Woodward of the Washington Post has written one of the most thorough journalistic accounts of the Iraq War. He describes a "top secret" Bush administration memo entitled "Iraq: Goals, Objectives and Strategy," which specifically states that one "key goal" was "to minimize disruption in international oil markets." Woodward details a conversation between Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and President Bush in which Bandar seeks to get Bush to finish off the historic step begun by his father in 1991, by getting rid of Saddam. A letter from Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah was delivered at the same meeting with the same request.

Moreover, Richard A. Clarke, a subsequent Bush administration critic who was exposed to internal White House thinking about the Iraq War until March 2003, has concluded that most of the rationales for the decision to go to war reflected "a concern with the long-term stability of the House of Saud."

We can prattle about democracy all we want, it won't change the direction of American foreign policy. Whether there's a republican or a democrat in office, the only thing that changes is how the policy is sold to the public.

Posted by: mary at August 30, 2007 12:07 PM

Ratatosk,

If one cannot justify the defense of their nation on taking the battle TO their enemies (that have already attacked several times in the past decade), no matter where they are...then exactly WHAT should we use to justify our defense?

You don't understand our enemy...that much is plain. A jihadi is a jihadi. No matter where they live. Now, keep in mind, I did NOT say a "muslim is a muslim". I am very aware that not all muslims are terrorists. However, jihadi islam is what motivates jihadis....nothing else. YOUR problem is that you don't understand that. Do your own research, and you'll find that out.

To jihadis, blowing themselves up and taking 50 odd "infidels" with them, is like a Christian praying in Church on Sunday. It is a form of worship for them. It is how they prove to allah that they love him.

The sad part is...the folks caught in the middle are those who we call "moderate muslims", or just plain ol' musilms who do not practice violent jihad. In truth, the islamic faith needs a "Martin Luther". It must reform, and split from within. If it doesn't, alot of innocent people are going to be marked "jihadi", when we all know that isn't the case.

Iran WILL use their weapons...eventually.
If you're comfortable with waiting, that means you either don't believe ANY war is justified, or you're not in israel. (And keep in mind...nuclear materials don't always come in the form of a missle...they can easily be transported in a suit case, and find themselves on our shores. If you think al-queda and the Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen wouldn't work together to destroy "the great satan", then you willfully ignore the reality of the situation. Our enemy LOVES naive people.)

Posted by: LisaV at August 30, 2007 12:13 PM

We can prattle about democracy all we want,...

Or prattle about Saudi machinations, or prattle about terrorist boogymen, or prattle about bombing Iran. That is what we do here on the bloggosphere, isn't it? Prattle?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 12:16 PM

DPU,

Patrick, I get really annoyed when people imagine what I think about something that has not even been discussed, and then state it as though it were coming out of my mouth. I haven't said a word about the tolerance and innocence of the Middle East. You just made that up and presented it as something I said.

If all the blame for conditions in the Middle East rests squarely on the shoulders of post-9/11 conservatism, the only explanation is that the area around the original Garden of Eden was until very recently exactly the Garden of Eden in fact. Nothing is cut and dried in the Middle East, except apricots and figs. You made an asinine over-generalization assigning blame and I called you on it. If I did so in a way that irritates you, perhaps you won't do so in the future.

Success has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan. Except that the disaster of the Middle East really has a lot of factors involved in its manifold failures. It does not serve your views to express them in such an absolutist manner. You don't have the standing to make such generalizations and the ones you are making do not stand up to scrutiny, besides.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 30, 2007 12:20 PM

Or prattle about Saudi machinations, or prattle about terrorist boogymen, or prattle about bombing Iran. That is what we do here on the bloggosphere, isn't it? Prattle?

True. But if we all, simultaneously prattled about the crappy, crumbling foundation that our foreign policies are based on, prattling might accomplish something.

Posted by: mary at August 30, 2007 12:28 PM

Patrick,

Blame isn't really important now that Cheney and the neocons are champing at the bit to bomb Iran. It would be unquestionable the most fool hardy and evil undertaking in US history.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 12:32 PM

You made an asinine over-generalization assigning blame and I called you on it. If I did so in a way that irritates you, perhaps you won't do so in the future.

Bullshit. You seem unable to actually argue with what I have stated, so you make shit up. It's intellectually dishonest and lazy, doubly so when you rationalize it as teaching me a lesson. All it's really doing is encouraging me to mentally classify you as an idiot who is unable to make arguments stand on their own merit.

It's the equivalent of me stating that your position is that current US foreign policy is perfect in every regard, and that Bush is a god-like figure unable to do wrong. I doubt that is your position, but it would be easy to make the same sweeping generalizations that you just did.

If this is the nature of debate that you are comfortable with, I'd be happy to oblige.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 12:33 PM

Glasnost:

You wrote: "For any serious antiwar advocate, it's time to stop blogging and get into the streets."

If that is your sincere belief, then get your fat butt off the couch and into the streets. I doubt that too many will be joining you, unless the draft is reinstated. But hey, best of luck with your little rebellion.

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at August 30, 2007 12:34 PM

But if we all, simultaneously prattled about the crappy, crumbling foundation that our foreign policies are based on, prattling might accomplish something.

And we all might ride unicorns too. Seriously, do you think that the greater flow of opinion that the internet provides would result in everyone thinking the same way?

We aren't about to prattle in unison ever, barring North Korean-style oversight of the web.

And now I'm stuck with the phrase "prattlesphere" in my head.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 12:49 PM

"We aren't about to prattle in unison ever..."--- dpu

Oh I don't know.

Vee haf vays of making you prattle. In unison also, maybe. --- :-)

Posted by: dougf at August 30, 2007 12:54 PM

And we all might ride unicorns too. Seriously, do you think that the greater flow of opinion that the internet provides would result in everyone thinking the same way?

As far as I can tell, everyone is unhappy about our foreign policy. Focusing on the core problems would probably be more useful than having the same old left vs. right arguments, but what do I know.

Posted by: mary at August 30, 2007 12:58 PM

Blame isn't really important now that Cheney and the neocons are champing at the bit to bomb Iran. It would be unquestionable the most fool hardy and evil undertaking in US history.

That will not stand, sir. What about Operation Northwoods, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, and Operation Menu?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 12:59 PM

Mary has a point. Any things better than watch the MSM drone on with neocon talking points. There will be little difference this time around. Knowledge and 'prattling" are helpful.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 01:00 PM

I haven't been following the comments on this site for a while, but it's discussions like this one that always make me wait with baited breath for someone to quote Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men as some kind of justification for why we had to go into Iraq and why we have to stay there.

Has is happened already and I missed it?

Posted by: Naha at August 30, 2007 01:02 PM

As far as I can tell, everyone is unhappy about our foreign policy. Focusing on the core problems would probably be more useful than having the same old left vs. right arguments, but what do I know.

The arguments we're having are not actually left vs. right, although they've become handy labels for the opposing arguments. There are plenty of conservatives who opposed invasion and lots of liberals and leftists who supported it.

But yes, I see your point.

At this time, however, there isn't a lot remaining to discuss. I think there is a certain amount of inevitability that is now in play, and I'm not sure what foreign policy arguments may be made that will greatly change the outcome one way or another.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 01:03 PM

Yearly budget for US military is around $630 billion (about 5% of GNP)

Yearly budget for US Entitlement Programs (ie Social Security, Medicaid, funding puppety art etc, ad nauseum) is $1 trillion, 360 billion (around 15% of GNP)

It is creepy, actually nasty to hear how those who receive so much are always bitching that they are not getting enough goodies.

Disgusting, vile and nasty is the 'gime' socialist mindset. It is sick at how so many Americans are really selfish bastards.

Posted by: syn at August 30, 2007 01:07 PM

Patrick,

Why drag the whole Middle East into the question of whether we should stay in Iraq or not?

We are occupying Iraq.

Anything that happens there is our responsibility.

If we don't want the responsibility...we should leave.

Posted by: e at August 30, 2007 01:07 PM

syn,
don't knock puppetry, bush wouldn't know how to act.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 01:14 PM

e says:

"We are occupying Iraq.

Anything that happens there is our responsibility.

If we don't want the responsibility...we should leave."

And yet, if we do leave, it will be argued (possibly by you) that whatever bad happens there will still be our fault. At least if we stay we have a chance to actually influence events.

Posted by: MartyH at August 30, 2007 01:29 PM

If one cannot justify the defense of their nation on taking the battle TO their enemies (that have already attacked several times in the past decade), no matter where they are...then exactly WHAT should we use to justify our defense?

I have not in this forum, nor have I ever said anything of the sort. I fully supported going after our enemies that attacked us. I stood against a lot of my friends with my position on Afganistan in 2001. I was not happy with the invasion of Iraq, because I thought we should be focused on the Muslim extremists, something that Saddam (for all of his horrible faults) was not.

You don't understand our enemy...that much is plain. A jihadi is a jihadi. No matter where they live. Now, keep in mind, I did NOT say a "muslim is a muslim". I am very aware that not all muslims are terrorists. However, jihadi islam is what motivates jihadis....nothing else. YOUR problem is that you don't understand that. Do your own research, and you'll find that out.

I haven't posted on here much lately, so I'll let this pass as you not knowing me.

Iran WILL use their weapons...eventually.
If you're comfortable with waiting, that means you either don't believe ANY war is justified, or you're not in israel. (And keep in mind...nuclear materials don't always come in the form of a missle...they can easily be transported in a suit case, and find themselves on our shores. If you think al-queda and the Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen wouldn't work together to destroy "the great satan", then you willfully ignore the reality of the situation. Our enemy LOVES naive people.)

You truly have low reading comprehension skills if you interpreted my posts to somehow support the nonsense you just wrote.

Iran is our enemy, no doubt. Iran is likely building a nuclear stockpile. Iran poses a huge potential threat to the region and our interests there. However, because of 6 years of incompetence, misdirection, lies (intentional or not), mistakes, bad ideas and flawed implementations... we aren't in any position to attack Iran. The American people won't support it and that, more than any PATRIOT act, is probably the single most dangerous thing that Bush's presidency has caused.

What you don't seem willing to admit is that you side fucked up and now your side gets to hold the bag on Iran. If we hadn't invaded Iraq, there wouldn't be an Anti-War crowd. If we'd had a sane plan when we invaded Iraq, the anti-war movement would be small and powerless. If we had an President that could honestly admit mistakes and be willing to listen to multiple points of view, then maybe more than 30% of the population would trust him.

I'm with you on the danger Iran poses. I think your whacked out on the reasons we can't attack them.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 01:31 PM

The thing about our sudden need to bomb Iran that I don't get is why we just don't try to have better diplomatic relations with Iran. The pressure worked on Saddam and could work even better on Iran. The more moderate Iranian president before Ahmadinejad wanted talks with us too and Cheney nixed it. The fact is, every time Cheney and Bush talk about bombing Iran the worlds oil prices go sky high and Ahmad. get million of extra dollars and public approval.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 01:31 PM

DPU,

Uh, doug? The ME is currently an inferno due to the incompetent and ham-fisted foreign policy thrashings of the conservative crowd. It's pretty ballsy to indicate that liberals (or "progressives", the new mot du jour) are bad at it.

This is an asinine overstatement assigning blame. You need to back down from this. You cannot sustain this statement under scrutiny. Your position does not explain why the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, which was a much bloodier debacle by any conceivable measure, occurred. This is the relevant yardstick for butchery in the Middle East, and it makes the current unpleasantness look like heaven by comparison.

People in the Middle East are perfectly willing and capable of harming each other viciously without US interference or involvement. Assigning blame to the conservatives over difficulties in the Middle East is like blaming the weather on weatherman, emotionally satisfying and intellectually vacuous.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 30, 2007 01:38 PM

Ratatosk,

Do you think then we should just go for the Nuke sites, some of which I don't think we know where they are and are 75 feet below ground or, as rummer has it, try to destroy the whole nation and cause an uprising, (an incredible stupid idea).

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 01:40 PM

Assigning blame to the conservatives over difficulties in the Middle East is like blaming the weather on weatherman, emotionally satisfying and intellectually vacuous.

In other words, the Bush administration is totally competent, has made no mistakes, or at least no mistakes with any negative outcome in the Middle East of any note, and the current situation would have come about regardless of the Bush administrations foreign policy exercises.

Good to hear.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 01:42 PM

"And yet, if we do leave, it will be argued (possibly by you) that whatever bad happens there will still be our fault. At least if we stay we have a chance to actually influence events."

Marty,

We can always bribe Maliki to ask us to get our troops out if you're worried about the "blame."

Posted by: e at August 30, 2007 01:46 PM

Your position does not explain why the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, which was a much bloodier debacle by any conceivable measure, occurred.

What helped make it so bloody was our giving arms to both sides, and our meddling in both countries politics.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 01:46 PM

Russ,

Do you think then we should just go for the Nuke sites, some of which I don't think we know where they are and are 75 feet below ground or, as rummer has it, try to destroy the whole nation and cause an uprising, (an incredible stupid idea).

I think we should step back and try to get out of this with at least a shred of dignity. No scenario in Iran is workable at this point, our invasion of Iraq has placed us in a completely indefensible position in the region. If Iraq had never happened, maybe things would be different and we could sanction or cut off Iran, maybe get assistance from the surrounding nations to ratchet up the pressure, or in a worst case scenario... military action. However, at this point we have none of those options available to us.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 01:49 PM

Ratatosk-

You mention friends who were opposed into going into Afghanistan. Are they still opposed? Or has Afghanistan become the "good war" while Iraq is the "bad war."

My point is that many of these people form the nucleus of the anti-war efforts and would have directed their messaging and energy toward getting us out of Afghanistan if we did not invade Iraq.

Posted by: MartyH at August 30, 2007 01:49 PM

Ratatosk,

Why don't we have those "options"? We are the world power. When the Ayatollah sent waves on young men to die in the Iraq war, he found it necessary to tell the women in Iran to populate and they did. Consequently, you have a very large and young, pop loving, generation of Iranians who dread seeing what happened to Iraq with sanctions.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 01:58 PM

I've got to go pick up my kids from school. Thanks for the debate.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 02:04 PM

Consequently, you have a very large and young, pop loving, generation of Iranians who dread seeing what happened to Iraq with sanctions.

Sanctions without the support of China and Russia are meaningless, and unlikely to occur.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 02:05 PM

MartyH,

You mention friends who were opposed into going into Afghanistan. Are they still opposed? Or has Afghanistan become the "good war" while Iraq is the "bad war."

Eh, most of them think all war is bad and everything can be solved through diplomacy. I think all war is unfortunate and should be a last resort... but sometimes its necessary. In Afghanistan, the Taliban provided sanctuary to OBL. They refused to turn him over and I think military action was justified. I think we've done a pretty bad job there since 2003, but I still think invading was the right thing to do.

Russ,

Why don't we have those "options"? We are the world power.

I suppose that, if Bush were to simply call out the military to attack... then that option would exist. However, if he goes to Congress (like some old documents like the constitution claim he should) then he won't get backing. He won't get backing from Congress, because most of the country doesn't like him or Congress and they don't have the stomach for more war (not until another attack I daresay). The power of this World Power lies with the people. Thus, I say those options are closed to us, because the people won't support it. Further, I doubt there are any other nations (except maybe Poland and now possibly France) that would support any action we would take against Iran.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 30, 2007 02:17 PM

DPU:

You wrote:"Extremism thrives when there is no peaceful alternative that allows change. If a reasonable constitution is in place, it makes it difficult to overthrow the structures of democracy."

Not necesarily so. Hitler's rise to power is a perfect case in point. You will undoubtedly recall that Hitler was appointed Chancellor, not elected to the post. Weimar Germany had a reasonable democratic constitution which Hilter and his Nazi brown shirt thugs subverted and destroyed largely through violence and intimidation. Aside from reliance on violence, the Nazis took advantage of the fractious nature of Weimar politics and the political discontent generated by the weak economy to rise to and consolidate their power.

The current status of Hezbollah in Lebanon is another case in point. It is a militant group that is attempting to use a combination of the following tactics to subvert a flawed democratic state: political patronage, threats, intimidation, and militia action. It is not a lack of political flexibility in the Lebanese system that fuels Hezbollah, but rather the toxic mix of long held political, social and economic greivances many Shia harbor against Sunni or Chritian elites combined with the military strength that Iranian money and weapons provide. I strongly suspect that, once in power, Hezbollah will tolerate little, if any, political dissent. Given the grudges many Shia still hold, a triumphant Hezbollah would have great difficulty resisting the post-revolution Iranian example of the viciously persecuting regime opponents (show trials resulting in thousands of executions).

According to Linz and Stepan, the transition from the type of totalitarian/sultanic state (similar to that found in Iraq) to a stable democratic state is the most difficult to accomplish without a determined foreign commitment. The link to a summary of their book, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, can be found at http://www.beyondintractability.org/booksummary/10368/ .

I too favor democratic reform in both hostile and allied middle eastern states, but pretending that such reforms do not present substantial short term risks of further destabilizing the region is fool hardy. As the United States has little political credibility with the majorities in most midddle eastern countries, it will be forced to act in a cautious manner in applying pressure to allied regimes to bring about any kind of political reform.

Lastly, I do love the term "prattlesphere." It captures the essence of this hobby for us amateurs. Of course, the kind of on-the-scene war zone reporting MJT does is on a very different plane.

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at August 30, 2007 02:26 PM

Ratatosk-

My point is that these people would focus on how "horribly" Afghanistan is going, regardless of the actual situation on the ground. How casualties are too high, our international standing is gone, Bush lied us into war, too few troops on the ground, history of sectarian violence, Aghanistan should be partitioned into seven countries, blah, blah blah blah...

If we had not gone into Iraq, the stage would be different (Aghanistan instead of Iraq), but the anti-war play would still be the same.

Posted by: MartyH at August 30, 2007 02:52 PM

Let's not forget that Operation Enduring Freedom covers more than just Afghanistan, marty.

It's also covers, among other countries, Somalia, which is actually going worse than Iraq and Afghanistan (if that's possible).

Posted by: e at August 30, 2007 03:05 PM

Hitler's rise to power is a perfect case in point.

Perfect? Germany was in a severe financial crisis, largely due to the crippling war reparations. The nation was humiliated by the armistice condition, and politics was fragmented by numerous parties of a variety of extreme political positions. You mention this in your comment, so I'm not sure why you would consider this a perfect example.

I strongly suspect that, once in power, Hezbollah will tolerate little, if any, political dissent.

Again, this isn't even an example of a contrary argument. From what I understand, Hezbollah has not strayed outside the Lebanese constitution yet. Should they take power, there are more than a few minority opinions that could upset the apple cart, so they would have to tread lightly to maintain power. If the attempted something outside their constitutional bounds, there would likely be strife in the streets.

Depending an what happens, it may be an example of what I was talking about. Democracies have a moderating influence.

As the United States has little political credibility with the majorities in most midddle eastern countries, it will be forced to act in a cautious manner in applying pressure to allied regimes to bring about any kind of political reform.

Considering that the US invaded one country supposedly to influence democratic reform, and the current spin on a proposed Iranian attack is to allow democratic revolution there, forgive me for jaw-dropping amazement at the suggestion that the US needs to do this cautiously.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 03:17 PM

DPU:

Your statement was it was inflexible governments which lead to extremism. This is an "extreme" oversimplification. The Weimar republic had a quite flexible, democratic governmental system with ample mechanisms for political change short of violence. It was the weakness of the state, along with the political unrest and polarization which you described which allowed the Nazi's to use violence and intimidation to gain control. The political radicalism was largely a reaction to the dire economic conditions in Germany.

As to political reform in the middle east, cautiously, if the U.S. hopes to have any chance of success in encouraging political reforms in the region in the mid to long term.

As to Iran, regime change via military conquest is out of the question, unless the draft is reinstated in the U.S., since current troop levels can't be maintained for an extended period per Petraeus.

Early this year, Hezbollah enforced a "strike" that was extra-constitutional by any reasonable definition of that term. It shut down the entire country with milita patroled road blocks and flaming tires. Do you deem such behavior to be within the bounds of the rule of law or legitimate political protest? It was only after Sunni groups, enraged by Hezbollah's attempt at a soft coup, took to the streets and confronted Hezbollah in force that Nasrallah backed down.

As to other groups balancing Hezbollahs' theocratic political instincts, this same argument was made in favor of the Iranian revolution by its western fans (particularly those among the leftist French intellgensia). However, once in power, the mullahs rapidly proceeded to consolidate power and then to eliminate thousands of secularist politicians who had been their allies against the Shah.

In time of political transition and/or chaos, small well armed and disciplined groups have often gained control of the levers of state power. When their political philosophy includes strong totalitarian sentiments, they have frequently turned violently upon their former allies as soon as they have consolidated power.

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at August 30, 2007 04:52 PM

Your statement was it was inflexible governments which lead to extremism. This is an "extreme" oversimplification.

No, I said that extremism thrives when there is no peaceful alternative that allows change. But I take your point, and yes, this is a simplification. This is the prattlesphere, simplifications are need to communicate.

Early this year, Hezbollah enforced a "strike" that was extra-constitutional by any reasonable definition of that term.

To my recollection, there was nothing unconstitutional about that strike

Do you deem such behavior to be within the bounds of the rule of law or legitimate political protest?

Yup. And if Hezbollah takes power and acts in an innapproriate manner, I hope the opposition will take to the streets in the same manner. Strikes and protests of this sort have a long tradition in most democratic nations.

However, once in power, the mullahs rapidly proceeded to consolidate power and then to eliminate thousands of secularist politicians who had been their allies against the Shah.

Again, as the Iranian regime did not come to power through a legal or democratic process, I'm not sure what the point is in bringing them up. I said earlier that a constitution is required to avoid any group illegally taking power. I would amend that to a constitution and a sizable proportion of the society ready to take to the streets to defend that constitution.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 05:05 PM

dpg,

I think Russia and China would agree to sanctions more redily than you think. ( This is a late response, I know.)

On October 6, 2006 Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the U.S, and China met in London and agreed to discuss sanctions against Iran. U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said, “The decision has been made—we’ll go for sanctions; the question is what the extent of the sanctions will be.” The terms of the sanctions will likely be discussed next week, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told CNN that she expected the sanctions to be economic—and she stated that she was “quite, quite certain” that the UN would approve them.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 06:33 PM

I think Russia and China would agree to sanctions more redily than you think.

The sanctions that you speak of were pretty mild (bans on technology that would contribute to their nuclear program), and were an attempt to appease the US by Russia and China in order to avoid a military confrontation. I doubt very much that there will many more attempts with any meat to them, particularly if the actions taken by the US are military in nature.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 30, 2007 06:53 PM

dpu,

Thanks for your response. That really isn't good news.

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 06:58 PM

dpu,

I did a little research and found an article you may not be aware of. It suggest other ways to deal with the nuke threat than sanctions.

Nor should Washington rely exclusively on UN sanctions, which might not work. Instead, the U.S. government must dig into its diplomatic toolbox and offer -- in conjunction with China, Russia, and the EU-3 (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) -- contingent security guarantees to Tehran.

http://www.nytimes.com/cfr/world/20060901faessay_v85n5_sagan.html

Posted by: Russ at August 30, 2007 07:32 PM

Russ,

Iran already has observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_cooperation

Any guarantees of Iran's securiy would most likely come through the SCO.

Europe and America would become rather irrelevant in Asia if that happened.

Posted by: e at August 30, 2007 07:48 PM

Patrick's right that the ME was not a bundle of joy prior to 2003 and that our pre-911 policies were not working well. I think he's caught DPU exaggerating in that quote. From someone who usually agrees with DPU.

Not that the fact that the ME was not a bundle of joy prior to 2003 doesn't me we can't have made it worse. I think the case for what's happened in the region is ambiguous, with positives and negatives. The only thing I feel I know the war was bad for was the Iraqis and the Americans.

That's what usually happens in modern wars - the participants all lose power relative to the non-participants.

Posted by: glasnost at August 30, 2007 11:19 PM

Good, short piece.

I see these Iraqi question(s) being passed on to the next administration in DC in 2008.

Posted by: erik at August 31, 2007 04:53 AM

My point is that these people would focus on how "horribly" Afghanistan is going, regardless of the actual situation on the ground. How casualties are too high, our international standing is gone, Bush lied us into war, too few troops on the ground, history of sectarian violence, Aghanistan should be partitioned into seven countries, blah, blah blah blah...

If we had not gone into Iraq, the stage would be different (Aghanistan instead of Iraq), but the anti-war play would still be the same.

Err, are you from the same country I am? From 2001 to 2003 I recall seeing exactly one peace rally with a handful of people. Most of my friends didn't like the war, but didn't think it was any more or less wrong than any other war. Then we invaded a sovereign nation that had not attacked us (except in retaliation for attacking them). Using flimsy reasons, bad planning and civil leadership that apparently had no clue as to the difference between their red ivory towers and reality. Since 2003 anti-war protests have grown and now my friends do go to them, because the see this war as illegal and the leadership as incompetent.

If we would have stayed on task, Bush could have defended himself. We did not stay on task, we implemented a rather silly plan that has had terrible results. Don't fool yourself into thinking that the "anti-war crowd" is some static set of people who just protest any war.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 31, 2007 07:26 AM

If we had not gone into Iraq, the stage would be different (Aghanistan instead of Iraq), but the anti-war play would still be the same.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that the "anti-war crowd" is some static set of people who just protest any war.---tosk

Ummm, I think that between point 'A' and point 'B' lies a vast area of probabilities.

It could be argued that the 'support' for Afghanistan was a function of 'timing' and 'scale' not at all of 'conviction'. After 9-11 the 'usual suspects' kept their heads well down for quite obvious reasons, but as time elapsed and memories have faded they have become more obstreperous as is their wont. And let's be honest here --- Afghanistan is SMALL SCALE, and you are comparing a small apple to a very large orange and attributing motivations on the basis of that comparison. It simply does not 'pay' to whine about Afghanistan.

It the 'left' in the US is even vaguely close to similar to the 'left' here in Canada, they DO NOT support the effort in Afghanistan except in some feel-good impractical sort of way. A 'why fight' feel-good impractical kind of way. Afghanistan might merely make a 'convenient' alternative to the Bush War in Iraq in the minds of US 'liberals'. It is 'good'(if at all) only because it is NOT Iraq. In Canada, according to those same types, it is merely Bush's War. Period. Therefore ipso facto it cannot be 'good'.

I surely can't speak for your friends as after-all they are your friends, but I find this picture of bucolic, well-intentioned but betrayed 'supporters' of THE 'legitimate' War, to be hard to digest.

But maybe its just the state of my teeth.

Posted by: dougf at August 31, 2007 07:48 AM

dougf,

I surely can't speak for your friends as after-all they are your friends, but I find this picture of bucolic, well-intentioned but betrayed 'supporters' of THE 'legitimate' War, to be hard to digest.

Well, I would never call them supporters of any war. They weren't protesting it, mostly because they didn't feel strongly against it... Iraq they feel strongly against.

As for betrayed, I think that may fit my feelings rather than theirs. I thought Bush was making a good decision to go after OBL in Afghanistan. I thought taking out OBL this time around might make the fuckers think twice next time. I was, for once, happy we had a Texan in the White House. Sadly, that didn't last long. I think I almost hit that point where a young liberal becomes and old conservative... but this experience reminded me strongly that both sides are equally full of incompetent fools.

So in a sense, I'm kind of glad that Bush invaded Iraq, I might have joined the Republicans if he had continued to act like a leader... ICK! ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 31, 2007 08:25 AM

So in a sense, I'm kind of glad that Bush invaded Iraq, I might have joined the Republicans if he had continued to act like a leader... ICK! ;-)--tosk

Well to every cloud a silver lining I suppose -- :-)

ps --" Well, I would never call them supporters of any war".

I accept this as 100 digestible, poor teeth or no. Which I think more or less 'confirms' the original point that you were arguing against in this thread. It is ONLY the scale of Afghanistan that prevents it from being the subject of 'anti-war' activity. 'Any war' is pretty much self-explanatory, is it not ?

pps-- liberal / conservative --- who cares. I devide people into thinking / not-so-much. Thinking = good.
Not-so-much = not so much.

Take care,

Posted by: dougf at August 31, 2007 08:39 AM

I did a little research and found an article you may not be aware of. It suggest other ways to deal with the nuke threat than sanctions.

Russ, I have hopes that diplomacy would be the first tool out of the box on this one. But from the beginning of this crisis, it has appeared both that Iran would like to flaunt the fact that the US military is tied down in Iraq, and that Bush is not interested in diplomacy with a nation that he has labeled part of the axis of evil.

I wish the grownups would yank the choke chain on both parties.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 09:07 AM

Patrick's right that the ME was not a bundle of joy prior to 2003 and that our pre-911 policies were not working well. I think he's caught DPU exaggerating in that quote. From someone who usually agrees with DPU.

If my kitchen catches on fire, and a firefighter messes up so badly that my whole house and both neighboring houses also catch fire, surely it is not an exaggeration to state that the conflagration is the fault of the firefighter? Or is it okay to shrug and say "Well, it's not his fault, the kitchen was already on fire"?

Yes, the Middle East has been a tinderbox for years, which is why it needs to be handled very carefully. Are we going to argue that Bush's policies have had no hand in the current mess?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 09:12 AM

If my kitchen catches on fire, and a firefighter messes up so badly that my whole house and both neighboring houses also catch fire, surely it is not an exaggeration to state that the conflagration is the fault of the firefighter?--dpu

Oh I dare say that it is indeed a bit of a stretch, my good man. Lawyers to the contrary. The fire supposes the need for a fireman but you posit the existence of a 'competetent' fireman as an ideal whereas in fact the truer alternative would be no fireman at all.

I think this anology and indeed the situation it is intended to describe, speaks more to time-frame than it does to results. The most you can allege is that the 'wrong' action has 'accerlerated' the conflagration,already in process, not that it would not have at some later point consumed the 'collateral damage' anyway.

Turning over the rocks does not magically change the character of what was lurking underneath. It merely exposes that character for all to see. In a DIFFERENT time frame.

Bush can rightly be blamed for not having a plan other than eeek to deal with the rock creatures he exposed. He can't be blamed for them being there. Sooner or later they were going to push up the rock themselves and come out to play.

Bush has enough to answer for without adding more. An effort by the by which serves mainly to obscure the real existential problem.

Posted by: dougf at August 31, 2007 09:34 AM

I don't understand this continual myopia regarding diplomacy with Iran.

We have been using diplomacy with the Iranians for nearly thirty years!

The continual pattern from them is to make trivial, non-durable concessions to get us off their backs, and meanwhile to proceed with their larger program in whichever manner is expedient.

This pattern is not exclusive to Muslims, though the tradition of the hudna does seem well-established. FARC in Columbia and the Maoists in China did the exact same thing. You can find the theoretical underpinnings for it in Mao's On Guerrilla Warfare.

If the opposing party fundamentally intends on conflict, then diplomacy is ineffective. Indeed, it becomes a weapon in the hands of the enemy.

The Iranians have not convinced me in any manner that their intentions are benign.

I would demand at minimum the following from them before I were to briefly consider trusting them:

Call Hizballah to heel.

Build a civilian nuclear plant that can actually use the uranium that they are enriching! (They have none. The only use to which they can now put their uranium is military, full stop.)

Make peaceful overtures to Israel. (Their inability to even pretend to do so, as has Saudi Arabia, is damning.)

Posted by: Mastiff at August 31, 2007 10:00 AM

These poor Democrats... They're stuck between their own Scylla and Charybdis. On one hand, the American left finds it difficult as Americans to hope for failure in Iraq. No one who claims a shred of patriotism could ever sanely pray for U.S. defeat at the hands of a ragtag bunch of islamic extremists, whose stated goal is the annihilation of all things Western and all things American. Doing so is painful. It is so painful, they have already declared the counterinsurgency a failure:

"Now I believe myself that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). "Johnson did not want a war loss on his watch, so he surged in Vietnam. After the surge was over, we added 34,000 to the 24,000 who died in Vietnam."

Such statements spare their owners the pain of having to hope for defeat. But hope for defeat they do. Why?

Because hoping for a successful outcome in Iraq is a political anathema to them. To do so is to pray for the political success of the much hated George W. Bush and much more hated Dick Cheney, whom they allege is the mastermind. When America succeeds in Iraq, Bush will leave office as the President who brought democracy to both Iraq and Afganistan, giving the middle east two bastions of freedom for the first time in history of the region. It results in two peaceful, stable and productive allies of the United States. For Iraq, it would place a large chunk of the world's proven oil reserves in the hands of a friendly nation and represent a regional influence with which to check the radical islamists in Iran. Those would be historically significant developments for the United States and southwestern Asia. And, they would provide a formidable legacy for Mr. Bush.

But such developments would also cause serious damage to the Democrats' hope to regain the White House in 2008 and add to slender majorities in the US House and Senate. That is the overarching goal of the left's opposition to the war in Iraq. If they can damage Bush politically, they will damage the Republican Party candidates who hope to succeed him. Their best opportunity to damage Bush is to declare defeat in Iraq, bring the troops home in a hot retreat, and lay the blame for the ensuing chaos on Bush. Make no mistake about it--if we were to pull out of Iraq at any time in the span advocated by the defeatists, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis will perish and radical islamists will swoop in like vultures and live on the carcasses.

Would the left would willingly sacrifice those lives and risk giving Al Qaeda a failed state to move into? Would they risk the safety of our allies and our citizens just to win an election? It looks like it, doesn't it?

Shame on them. Shame on them all.

Posted by: Dave at August 31, 2007 10:10 AM

Make peaceful overtures to Israel. (Their inability to even pretend to do so, as has Saudi Arabia, is damning.)

When we're discussing the influence of diplomacy and our long-standing foreign policies, I have to ask - we know that these 'peaceful overtures', peace processes, "recongizing Israel", etc. are never followed by a reduction in terrorism or by any genuine steps towards peace.As long as we continue to accept these lies at face value, we'll continue to receive them and action never will be taken.

Saudi Arabia pretends to make peaceful overtures, Fatah pretends to make peaceful overtures, and we know they're lying. We know that they're lying when they say that they don't support terrorism against Israel. The lies are so obvious, they don't even contain symbolic value. But when they create these lies, we don't just 'get off their backs', we reward them with money and influence. If we're talking about firemen making a fire worse and burning a neighborhood down, this is a great example.

Posted by: mary at August 31, 2007 10:16 AM

Michael, conciseness in this case worked out very well. This is a good article that condenses a great deal of information into 650 words.

Posted by: Ken Silber at August 31, 2007 10:21 AM

Dave, I can only say your opinion of some 70% of Americans isn't accurate. No one hopes that Iraq will fail for political reasons, but rather want a sane solution to the "cracked egg" we created. The quagmire that is Iraq has hurt us in many ways and has increased terrorism. Think of this, the bombing of Iran could very easily put the M.E. in a revved up radicalism unbefore seen. It could mean the end of a rational nuklear Pakistan, in the hands of the very people we are at war with.

Posted by: Russ at August 31, 2007 10:26 AM

Russ,

Dave, I can only say your opinion of some 70% of Americans isn't accurate.

I'm pretty sure that Dave is talking about the committed left of the Democratic party, a number substantially less than 70% of the country. Unless of course the committed left of the Democratic party goes out on election day and shows their disappointment with the process by unstuffing ballot boxes. I'm sure that isn't happening in King County, Washington.

There was a high water mark a few months ago of people who had serious doubts about the war in a telephone poll. That number was about 67%, and it has changed direction of late.

There are asshats on the far, far right who hate America because we do not sufficiently hate gay people. Those idiots want us to lose the war because we aren't executing homosexuals. Federal legislation had to be passed to keep them out of servicemen's funerals. These people are real.

Why you find it difficult to believe that there are not similarly shameful morons on the Left eludes me. Dave's contention is that the Left's shameful idiots are better positioned to influence policy, or just happen to reside in a political space that is advantageous to the aspirations of the party machine. He makes an important point that there are some opportunities you let pass by for the greater good of the country, and the long term goals of the party.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 31, 2007 11:21 AM

Oh I dare say that it is indeed a bit of a stretch, my good man. Lawyers to the contrary. The fire supposes the need for a fireman but you posit the existence of a 'competetent' fireman as an ideal whereas in fact the truer alternative would be no fireman at all.

You guys do realize that you are saying that foreign policy can never be in error, right? All foreign policy is created to deal with a pre-existing state.

Which makes it difficult to understand, Doug, why you would think that liberal foreign policy is any worse then conservative foreign policy.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 11:36 AM

To Dave, Patrick, et al: why is it that you folks have such a hard time believing that people advocating withdrawal from Iraq could be motivated by something as pedestrian and un-political as saving lives (and dollars) that would otherwise be squandered trying to achieve a goal that is unattainable with the U.S.'s current commitment of resources.

To Dave: are you suggesting that it is remotely possible for Iraq AND Afghanistan to be wrapped up in time for the 2008 U.S. presidential election?

To Patrick: are you comparing elected officials that belong to the democratic party to a lunatic, fringe, far-right, fundamentalist group? I don't want to put words in your mouth, but in your defense of Dave, you basically compared Harry Reid to Fred Phelps. That's pretty nutty.

Posted by: Naha at August 31, 2007 12:23 PM

To Dave, Patrick, et al: why is it that you folks have such a hard time believing that people advocating withdrawal from Iraq could be motivated by something as pedestrian and un-political as saving lives (and dollars) that would otherwise be squandered trying to achieve a goal that is unattainable with the U.S.'s current commitment of resources.

Here's one particularly cold-blooded political reason to not withdraw from Iraq right now: a withdrawal will probably result in a bloodbath, and the Republicans could then blame that on the Democrats during a presidential election. Alternatively, going into a presidential election with an unpopular war hanging around the neck of the Republicans would certainly give an edge to the Democratic candidate.

One would hope that politicians of both the left and right are not this cold-blooded.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 12:35 PM

What really bothers me is the sort of desperate, non-logical arguments coming from the pro-war group . If this keeps up I think they'll drive all the moderates away and we'll have a liberal House, a liberal Senate and a liberal President. That will be just great :(

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 31, 2007 12:37 PM

If this keeps up I think they'll drive all the moderates away and we'll have a liberal House, a liberal Senate and a liberal President. That will be just great :(

If it's any consolation, most of your liberals are actually right-wing.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 12:46 PM

If it's any consolation, most of your liberals are actually right-wing.

Heh, the problem DPU is that I don't trust either party to hold all three branches of the government. I'd be just as sad if it were all red, rather than blue. I fear we'll go from a permissive Republican congress that failed to do its duty to the American people... to a permissive Democratic congress that will fail to do its duty to the American people.

Eight years from now, their supporters will be the ones making idiotic arguments in a desperate attempt to salvage their ego from any more bruising. ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 31, 2007 01:04 PM

Mastiff pointed out:

I don't understand this continual myopia regarding diplomacy with Iran. We have been using diplomacy with the Iranians for nearly thirty years!

What you must understand is that many on the left have their own set of faith-based beliefs that are as impervious to evidence, facts, logic and history as anything touted by the most ardently religious zealot on the planet. Regarding foreign policy, here are a few of the left's articles of faith:

1) International diplomacy, UN resolutions, sanctions, etc. are the only practical way to deal with totalitarian regimes and military threats.

2) Unilateral military action is wrong.

3) The United States is acting unilaterally if it doesn't have the approval of the U.N., even if it has 30 or more other allies involved in the conflict.

4) Sovereign nations have a right to govern their people however they wish, and we have no right to mettle in their "internal affairs".

5) Attacking another nation will cause the people of that nation to rally behind its leaders, no matter how disaffected the people may be before the attack.

6) Attacking another nation will cause its military to fight even harder and more tenaciously and will result in many civilians joining the military to fight.

7) Attacking another nation without U.N. approval makes the attack "illegal".

8) Using military force to kill terrorists only creates more terrorists.

9) Since all cultures are morally equal, all people have the "right of self-determination", i.e. they have the right to select whatever form of government they please, up to and including a totalitarian theocracy if that is what they want.

10) Increasing the US military beyond its present size will require the military draft.

11) In any conflict involving the United States and Israel, all civilian casualties are the moral responsibility -- one way or another -- of the U.S. and Israel.

12) Military spending (and/or the Iraq war) and tax cuts are the cause of recent budget deficits.

13) The Bush administration has stifled dissent over the war. (My personal favorite.)

14) The war in Iraq required us to remove military assets from the conflict in Afghanistan and that allowed al-Qaeda to rebuild in Pakistan.

15) War never solved anything.

That is not an exhaustive list, just some of the claims I hear fairly frequently. It doesn't matter that these claims are generally presented without evidence or substantiation -- articles of faith don’t have to be logically supported. Nor does it matter that every one of these claims may be easily refuted -- since they are articles of faith, they are immune to reason.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 31, 2007 01:04 PM

Michael Smith makes a very good point. However, its not just the Liberals that have a faith based political platform. The GOP seems just as clueless.

I honestly think the problem lies in a lack of political philosophy among the parties. Rather than building a political platform on a cohesive and coherent philosophy, both parties build their platform on whatever hot button issues they think will garner votes. Both parties act with unthinking obedience to the talking points that get spewed from DC, quickly becoming Dogma.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 31, 2007 01:14 PM

Regarding foreign policy, here are a few of the left's articles of faith:

I love it when those more obsessed with the left than with the foreign policies being discussed post the truth about positions of "the left" and get them wrong. I'm on the left, I don't agree with a single one of those points in any kind of absolute fashion.

For example, number 8: Using military force to kill terrorists only creates more terrorists.

Sometimes it does, and sometimes it does not. It certainly isn't an absolute, and depends on the circumstances. And number 7: Attacking another nation without U.N. approval makes the attack "illegal".

As "illegal" is a subjective concept depending on an external accepted framework, what makes any invasion "illegal"? For that matter, what makes a dictator's treatment of a nation's people illegal?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 01:14 PM

Michael Smith makes a very good point.

Where?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 01:16 PM

DPU:

You said: "To my recollection, there was nothing unconstitutional about that strike."

You apparently have either a very poor memory or a very broad definition of the level of acceptable civil disobedience in a democracy. Nothing in the Lebanese consitution allowed Hezbollah to declare a "general strike," set up barricades on nearly every strategically important road throughout the country, refuse to allow any Lebanese citzen to pass through the barricades to go to work, set fire to tires to deter those attempting to pass through their illegal barricades, and enforce their will at such barricades with either violence and/or threats of violence.

While Hezbollah is a political force which represents much of Shia masses, it is not merely a benign political party. As you know, they have a heavily armed and well organized militia. What you are either unaware of, or are unwilling to admit, is that Hezbollah utilized that militia to enforce their illegal "general strike" (so much for the canard that Hezbollah would never use their weapons of "resistance" against fellow Lebanese).

It was only when angry Sunni youth took to the streets in response to Hezbollah's militia backed "general strike" that Nasrallah backed down. In my view, Nasrallah had been persuaded by his own party propaganda that the rich, soft Sunni elite would not fight back in the face of armed intimidation by Hezbollah. Auon and Nasrallah had hoped that this would have lead to the soft coup which would place them in power. It turns out they were wrong.

The Hezbollah "strike" was no mere "protest;" it had much more of the flavor of a slow motion armed rebellion. It was clear from its onset that its real purpose was to facilitate a coup. This was made clear by Suleiman Franjieh, a Christian opposition leader, when he told Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV the next steps "will be nothing compared to what we saw today" if the government does not respond to the opposition's demands. Or as another Aounist was widely quoted in the press, "Today, we escalated. Tomorrow we will escalate more. And we will continue until the fall of the government." A link to one widely carried AP story is http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1167467793409 .

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at August 31, 2007 01:24 PM

Nothing in the Lebanese consitution allowed Hezbollah to declare a "general strike," set up barricades on nearly every strategically important road throughout the country, refuse to allow any Lebanese citzen to pass through the barricades to go to work, set fire to tires to deter those attempting to pass through their illegal barricades, and enforce their will at such barricades with either violence and/or threats of violence.

Where in the Lebanese constitution is it forbidden to call a general strike?

While Hezbollah is a political force which represents much of Shia masses, it is not merely a benign political party. As you know, they have a heavily armed and well organized militia.

Unlike any of the other political groups in Lebanon.

The Hezbollah "strike" was no mere "protest;" it had much more of the flavor of a slow motion armed rebellion. It was clear from its onset that its real purpose was to facilitate a coup.

Yes, a armed coup would be unconstitutional. Was there one?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 01:32 PM

Naha,

To Patrick: are you comparing elected officials that belong to the democratic party to a lunatic, fringe, far-right, fundamentalist group? I don't want to put words in your mouth, but in your defense of Dave, you basically compared Harry Reid to Fred Phelps. That's pretty nutty.

Cynthia McKinney: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_McKinney

Even though I never said anything about the elected officials, I think the demon Cynthia speaks volumes as to the susceptibility of elected officials to take up residence in Crazytown. Defending the morality and integrity of long term incumbents is a fool's game. But if you want to back Mugabe's spokeswoman in the House, I'll let you. Some people would consider that "nutty", though.

Seriously, Reid's surrender last month was cold-blooded opportunism, even if it wasn't a full endorsement for the policies of "Screw Them" Kos. The problem is that the Crazytown wing of the Democratic party's opposition to the war is advantageous to, and difficult to differentiate from, the opposition to the President.

Traditionally in the United States there is a gentleman's agreement to back the President during wartime, at least with regards to the conduct of the war. The cold-blooded political reason for this is that traditionally the families of deployed soldiers took it amiss when politicians failed to provide utmost support for the boys over there. This disappointment usually took the form of pushing in the faces of the politician in question's supporters, burning his campaign offices to the ground, and other unmistakable indications of displeasure. Since that sort of thing started getting prosecuted, the soldiers have received less unanimous support. A litigious society is not necessarily a more civil society...

Rev. Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Sturmabteilung remain unlynched as proof of our commitment to Constitution, not theirs. My point is that there are people out there who hate this war because if it is successful it will be of benefit to the politicians currently in office. These people take meetings with and allow into their protest rallies people who genuinely hate this country and are doing their inept best to destroy it. That's a real problem, and needs to be dealt with by the Left or it will destroy them further.

I am willing to concede that some people see this war as a great expenditure. Some people are penny wise and pound foolish. We are fighting this war on the cheap in terms of lives and treasure both. If you look at the numbers as a percentage of our population and Gross Domestic Product, instead of how many times it would pay off your mortgage, this is a cheap war.

If you want to look at a ruinously expensive war, you have to look at the First World War. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_war_one#Economics_and_manpower_issues
This is the comparison that has to be met before you can run around screaming your head off. The United Kingdom came close to 50% of the GDP in government expenditures. We are currently spending less than 2% of our GDP on Iraq.

It's not that we're not spending a lot of money, it's that we can easily afford it. If we couldn't afford it, why are our elected officials still stuffing themselves at the earmark trough?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 31, 2007 01:40 PM

It's not that we're not spending a lot of money, it's that we can easily afford it.

That's the Conservative spirit! Hell, we can waste the money... lets do it!

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 31, 2007 01:45 PM

Which makes it difficult to understand, Doug, why you would think that liberal foreign policy is any worse then conservative foreign policy.--dpu

Tell me DPU, in 10 words of less, what precisely is the 'liberal'(far-left / progressive) attitude towards the current 'War' in Afghanistan ? I don't ask you to answer for the US left, which is a largely bizarre collection of souls with which you bear little kinship, but the Canadian left will do nicely.

And in another 10 well chosen words, what alternative Afghan policy do they think would be just 'peachy-keen' as part of a 'liberal foreign policy' ?

We can thus compare and contrast, and see how 'real' an alternative might be offered to that poor 'incompetent' fireman you castigate.

Posted by: dougf at August 31, 2007 02:10 PM

Tosk,

That's the Conservative spirit! Hell, we can waste the money... lets do it!

What on earth makes you think I'm a conservative? I am proud of my gay brother and his husband. My politics are not determined by my religion. I support going to war well before the enemy has their knives to our families throats as well as just to stop genocides. I think women should be able to make their own reproductive choices and get naked in strip bars.

I am on the right because they look for converts while the left looks for traitors. The right tolerates me because I can articulate their positions publicly better than they usually can and because I really believe in making this country work at home and abroad.

Also there is a question of returns. We saved a lot of money in 1993 by not kicking ass and taking names after the first World Trade Center attack. Pity that investment in restraint delivered such limited returns.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 31, 2007 02:25 PM

We can thus compare and contrast, and see how 'real' an alternative might be offered to that poor 'incompetent' fireman you castigate.

As the argument that you are making is that no foreign policy decision can ever be bad, I don't see what relevance your suggestion has. Surely the results of pulling out of Afghanistan or staying in Afghanistan are irrelevant as the country was screwed up in the first place anyway, and the Afghans are responsible for their own situation.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 02:29 PM

Patrick, with all the talk of McKinney and mortgages, it seems as if you are creating points, pretending they are mine, and then refuting them.

I will concede that you may not have been specifically referring to elected officials (though this concession is rendered somewhat moot by the fact that you brought them up in your follow-up). But please tell me specifically who it is that you are referring to (elected or otherwise) who is in any meaningful position of influence that is as weird as a guy that believes the Iraq war is God's punishment for the U.S. taking it too easy on the gays? Otherwise I'm tempted to chalk it up to the same kind of Bush/Hitler hyperbole used by leftist activists/comment-board posters.

Regarding the other point...so, if the U.S. can so easily afford this war in terms of dollars (a debatable point), can we also afford it in terms of lives? My main contention here is how you and others are ready to commit lives and dollars to a cause that can't be won at the current level of commitment said lives and dollars (wars are relatively cheap to not win) and then assume the motives of those not similarly brazen to be political opportunism (to the practical exclusion of all other motives).

Sorry for all the parenthetical notation. I blame it on the Lisp.

Posted by: Naha at August 31, 2007 02:30 PM

Patrick,

Could you posit a single credible scenario where radical Islamists take over America?

Posted by: e at August 31, 2007 02:57 PM

I am on the right because they look for converts while the left looks for traitors.

Most people are on the right or left because of deeply held opinions about how the world works best. Otherwise political affiliations have no more meaning than which sports team one supports.

And maybe that is all the politics has become in certain societies.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 03:01 PM

As the argument that you are making is that no foreign policy decision can ever be bad..--dpu

No it most assuredly is not. However did you manage to so misconstrue my remarks to mean THAT? The least you could do is share some of that good West Coast 'stuff' if you plan on indulging while writing. I was hoping that your initial recitation of this canard was merely the result of poor communication, but since you persist in misconstruing my position and grossly misreading my actual words, I must reconsider my 'generous' reaction.

I was NOT saying, implying, or even by remotest chance suggesting that " no foreign policy decision can ever be bad " ; I was stating in PLAIN TERMS that the left has zero, nada, zilch, bupkis to offer as a viable alternative to even an incompetent fireman. Thus the no fireman analogy. As your careful dancing on Afghanistan tends to prove, I hardly stand corrected. In fact, I believe that I stand more firmly than before.

The left's position can be summed up as this:

There is no fire but--
Even if there might be a fire, it is merely there for the 'others' to toast some marshmallows in good fellowship, but--
Even if the fire is looking problematic --- It's BUSH's FAULT. And the joos.--
And everything the 'fireman' is doing to fight the (perhaps) fire is making it worse--
And we should simply leave the room, close the door, and everything will be aces.

I happily stand correction of my actual values and assertions. It's the fictitious ones assigned to me by others that tend to aggravate me. If I recall someone else recently on these threads was incensed that his words and thoughts were being distorted for effect by another. And said so. One would have thought that someone would have been 'above' using virtually the same 'technique'.

My illusions are dashed once once again.---- :-)

ps-- "What on earth makes you think I'm a conservative? I am proud of my gay brother and his husband. My politics are not determined by my religion. I support going to war well before the enemy has their knives to our families throats as well as just to stop genocides. I think women should be able to make their own reproductive choices and get naked in strip bars."--Patrick

Amen, brother, amen !!!

Posted by: dougf at August 31, 2007 03:04 PM

I blame it on the Lisp.

(That(explains(a lot))).

And I think that not many other here would get that reference. Thank you Brief macro editor.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 03:05 PM

Patrick,

I am on the right because they look for converts while the left looks for traitors.

When 95% of Americans say they approved of going into Afghanistan, it tells me that most feel ready to do what it logically takes to go after terrorists. Its the Bush admin. that tried all it could to stop an investigation in to the whys of 9/11 and abused the public's trust in describing it as a war against folks who hate our "freedoms." I respect your right to side with whoever you feel is right but to characterize the opposition as "traitors," is just Limbough rhetoric and has no bases of reality.

Posted by: Russ at August 31, 2007 03:08 PM

No it most assuredly is not. However did you manage to so misconstrue my remarks to mean THAT?

It is in context with the discussion with Patrick above, sparked by your original remark. To whit:

You - liberal foreign policy is worse than conservative

Me - given the disaster in the ME at the hands of the Bush administration, that's rich.

Patrick - (with too much snark) it's not the fault of the Bush administration, the ME was fucked up before.

Several members - Hear hear!

Me - lame incompetent firefighter analogy, expressing that even if the ME was fucked up before, it's still possible to fuck it up even more through incompetence.

Several members - Oh! Oh!

You - picking apart lame analogy.

Which brings us to the present.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 03:11 PM

dpu--

"Me - lame incompetent firefighter analogy, expressing that even if the ME was fucked up before, it's still possible to fuck it up even more through incompetence.

Several members - Oh! Oh!

You - picking apart lame analogy.

Which brings us to the present.

.....

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

That was damn funny. The whole thing. Made me laugh. Your writing and 'fairness' is always a pleasure.

Thanks,

Posted by: dougf at August 31, 2007 03:17 PM

You realize that only readers of Hansard would get those "Several members" references, right? Only fair after Patrick's obscure Lisp reference.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 03:29 PM

DPU, you crack me up. That was a terrific synopsis of this thread.
Just a few corrections:
It was Naha's obscure Lisp reference,not Patricks.
Patrick is the Right leaning non-conservative who is proud of his gay brother(as he should be), which I figure should make the folks who were shrieking ‘Anti-gay Bigot' a few weeks ago calm down. That was ridiculous nonsense.

Posted by: lindsey at August 31, 2007 04:44 PM

It was Naha's obscure Lisp reference,not Patricks.

You're right, I don't know how I missed that. Stupid whaddayacallit. Brain.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 05:11 PM

DPU:

You said: "Yes, a [sic] armed coup would be unconstitutional. Was there one?"

Hezbollah aborted their attempt at a slow motion armed coup when they realized it would be forcefully resisted. The result was that a handful of people died and hundreds were injured in the street violence by which the coup attempt was thwarted.

By the logic of your defense of Hezbollah, if a group of military officers attempt a coup against a democratically elected government (in which people die and many are injured), they would be blameless in your eyes unless they actually succeeded. Are you saying that any illegal, immoral, threatening, violent act can be justified as long as long as it can be somehow passed off as "political protest," which stops short of overturning a democratic government. What do you call this peculiar brand of political ethics, "Democratic Militant Anarchy?"

You said: Where in the Lebanese constitution is it forbidden to call a general strike?

Are you implying that blocking all the roads in a country with burning tires is expressly permitted by the Lebanese constitution?
It is obviously not the "calling" of a general strike that is illegal or extra-constiutional. If such a thing is done and citizens are free to participate, or not, without threat or coercion, the strike would have been perfectly legitimate. But barricading roads with burning tires and threating any that might not wish to honor your "general strike," as Hezbollah did, is both illegal and immoral. It is particularly reprehensible when done in conjunction with threats to escalate the use of force day-by-day until your political opponents capitulate.

You said: Unlike any of the other political groups in Lebanon. (Referring to Hezbollah's armed militia)

Are you being disingenuous? The scale is completely different. Please name another politcal party in Lebanon that claims to have a militia armed with 20,000 rockets. Hezbollah also claims that it can easily out gun the Lebanese army. DPU, when did you become such a big fan of Nasrallah and his band of theocratic enforcers?

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at August 31, 2007 05:30 PM

In order for Iraqi military to effectively control country with 20 million people it neeeds about at least 4-5 tank divisions and 200 fighter planes, and 400 military helicopters. Pentagon is scared to provide these weaponry to Iraqis, since it can be turned against US forces. Without these weapons however, no national military can control such vast country. So, US is simply stuck there for many years.

Posted by: eric at August 31, 2007 06:18 PM

In order for Iraqi military to effectively control country with 20 million people it neeeds about at least 4-5 tank divisions and 200 fighter planes, and 400 military helicopters. Pentagon is scared to provide these weaponry to Iraqis, since it can be turned against US forces. Without these weapons however, no national military can control such vast country. So, US is simply stuck there for many years.

Posted by: eric at August 31, 2007 06:19 PM

With all due respect, the answer is not more waiting. The surge is a military solution to what essentially is a problem of politics. No amount of pacifying by American forces is going to turn around the hatred of the Sunnis against the Shia and the Shia against the Sunnis. That will take at least a generation while all the bitter haters die off.

Not to mention it is not as if the American public hasn't been waiting long enough already. We are not far from the fifth year and half a trillion dollars of this slow train wreck.

Someone earlier in comments compared this to WWII. How's this for a headwrecker? After just 4 1/2 years of WWII: US is attacked at Pearl Harbor, US declares war on Japan, Germany declares war on US, Germans level Coventry, Allies level Dresden in return, US and Allied forces launch D-day invasion , Germans surrender, Japan gets nuked and also surrenders.

This is an entirely different war, one that hasn't required much public support and one that had no clear objective. Or should I say, the objective constantly changed. At first I thought the objective was to clear Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, and free those oppressed by Saddam, and have free elections. Well Mission Accomplished. Somehow the objective changed in that we need to have a unified Iraq whether Iraqis want that or not.

It is time to start thinking about dividing the nation up. The people of Iraq can't all live under the same tent. Let them divide how they see fit. If one of the new states becomes a terrorist haven, we'll bomb the snot out of it like Afghanistan. The Kurds almost certainly don't want to be part of the Sunni/Shiite mess. Let them secede.

Posted by: Graham at August 31, 2007 07:20 PM

Graham:
With all due respect, the answer is not more waiting. The surge is a military solution to what essentially is a problem of politics. No amount of pacifying by American forces is going to turn around the hatred of the Sunnis against the Shia and the Shia against the Sunnis. That will take at least a generation while all the bitter haters die off.

To add to the point: the Sunnis and the Shia have been at each others throats since the 7th century. If the current administration and their cheerleaders think they can solve that problem (among others) by waiting 'just a few more years' to see if the surge might work, then they are even more naive than I thought. I doubt very much if it will take a generation for the hatred to die off.

Posted by: EmbersFire at August 31, 2007 08:23 PM

How do I paste a comment on here???

Tom in South Texas

Posted by: Tom at August 31, 2007 08:57 PM

e,

Could you posit a single credible scenario where radical Islamists take over America?

I wrote about 450 words on this when I realized that you wanted to read a science fiction novel that I did not want to write. If you want to buy me a lot of drinks and engage in pointless speculation, pick any of the McMenamins franchise here in the Northwest and we can do this. If you are interesting and your pockets are deep, I'll see if I can bring along some of my friends who do SciFi for a living. Or you can go to the baen.com website and download some of the free e-books they have there.

Russ,

The Constitution makes it a giant pain to punish someone for treason as a deliberate act of risk taking by the founding fathers. It is a good risk to take, because searching for traitors leads to all kinds of unpleasantness. Nevertheless, there are people in this country who hate this country. The overwhelming majority of them never do anything serious (in any context whatsoever), but some of them are willing to.

I grew up in the Anti-War movement. My contempt for it is based on my intimate knowledge of the community and the people who compose it. One of the hardest things my father had to do as a leader and organizer of the anti-war movement was to keep the anti-Americans, like the communists, out of the anti-war activities. When my father left the movement in 1971 because it was killing our family, it became easier for the anti-war movement to become suborned. Our phones stopped getting tapped, and people with no integrity took over from my father.

Please don't tell me that there aren't traitors in the anti-war movement. I grew up with them.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 31, 2007 09:05 PM

Patrick,

If you can't come up with any way that radical Islamists could take over America, then kindly stop using it as an excuse to continue the Iraq fiasco.

The idea that we're in Iraq to somehow prevent an invasion of America by Al Qaeda is right up(or down) there with the idea that we're in Iraq to bring about The Rapture.

And for the record, I'm not "anti-war," I'm just anti-incompentence.

Posted by: e at August 31, 2007 09:56 PM

e,

If you can't come up with any way that radical Islamists could take over America, then kindly stop using it as an excuse to continue the Iraq fiasco.

1. Not your blog, not your rules to make.
2. Radical Islamists couldn't take over Ireland in 1780, did that make it alright for them to be taking slaves?
3. USS Cole...oops!

The idea that we're in Iraq to somehow prevent an invasion of America by Al Qaeda is right up(or down) there with the idea that we're in Iraq to bring about The Rapture.

Just so you know, the people jumping from the World Trade Center on 9/11 were not being carried bodily into heaven. Nevertheless, Al Qaeda did have operatives in the United States six years ago. Just because AQ is insufficiently funded and insufficiently competent to conduct large scale coordinated military operations, does not make them safe to share the world with. They can still hurt us.

And for the record, I'm not "anti-war," I'm just anti-incompentence.

Then stop opposing our competency building. The only way you get competent is to go out and learn by doing. We now have tens of thousands of exceptionally competent people with years of experience in the field. This is not just in the military, I've met people from the State Department in Iraq who were out doing nation building.

Unless you were talking about anti-incompetence for AQ? Those boys are taking some serious hits to their core competencies every time we catch a bomb maker, which is pretty often. Is it just coincidence that your policy allows Al Qaeda to recruit and train back up to strength?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at August 31, 2007 10:46 PM

Patrick,

The U.S. military is training "Al Qaeda in Iraq" far better than they could have trained themselves.

We're doing a much better job of training the insurgents than the job we're doing training the Iraqi security forces.

Nothing builds competence faster than engaging the U.S. military in an actual war.

We will never be able to train the Iraqi security forces to the level we're training the insurgents of Iraq to.

Just one of many reasons we should leave Iraq...now.

Posted by: e at August 31, 2007 10:56 PM

DPU, when did you become such a big fan of Nasrallah and his band of theocratic enforcers?

I don't know, probably around the same time your brain moved to your ass, I think.

If you want to continue to converse, please try to restrain the impulse to imagine that because I don't agree with your opinions that I'm a theocratic fascist, okay?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 10:58 PM
How do I paste a comment on here???

Tom in South Texas

What do you mean, Tom? If you mean include someone else's comment as I did with yours above, just copy and paste it. To make it italic, surround it with italic tags.

<i>Like this</i>

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2007 11:08 PM

double plus ungood wrote:

I love it when those more obsessed with the left than with the foreign policies being discussed post the truth about positions of "the left" and get them wrong. I'm on the left, I don't agree with a single one of those points in any kind of absolute fashion.

If you read carefully, you will see that I did not claim that everyone on the left believes those articles of faith. I said that many do.

Nor does my post demonstrate that I am “more obsessed with the left" than the "foreign policies being discussed". Among the "foreign policies being discussed" was the issue of diplomacy with Iran. Mastiff expressed frustration over the fact that the advocates of such diplomacy are ignoring that we've been trying it unsuccessfully for nearly thirty years. I merely pointed out that such facts are irrelevant because these positions are held as a matter of faith, i.e. they are held in defiance of reason or evidence or historical facts.

As to these points being "all wrong" about the left's foreign policies, you need only read a few of the comment threads here or at the Huffington Post or Daily Kos or Glenn Greenwald or anywhere else the war is discussed to hear leftists asserting these things.

In this thread, for instance, you’ve already had Dan claiming that our present forces cannot sustain the war much longer, which he suggests can only be cured by reinstating the military draft. This is an example of faith-based claim number 12. It ignores the fact that as recently as 1991 we were able to field an army of over 550,000 soldiers -- without a draft.

You’ve also had Dan arguing that any overt response to what Iran is doing will only make things worse by “goading” Iran into doing more, so that if we really want peace, we must not fight back against Iran, but, instead, passively accept what they’re doing. At root, the premise behind this is a combination of faith-based claims 1, 5 and 6. It ignores the long, inglorious and uniformly disastrous history of the practice of ignoring the saber rattling of tyrants in the hope that if they are ignored, they will eventually stop. See Chamberlain, for instance.

DPU repeats variations of this argument with the assertion that bombing Iran will be tossing “buckets of gasoline into the flames”. This ignores that fact that there are examples in history where bombings put the fire out.

We’ve had “e” advance this argument:

Maybe we should wait until another freeway bridge falls down before we discuss whether we can "afford" to bet another $180,000,000,000 on Iraq next fiscal year, okay?

This is a variation on faith-based claim number 12, the claim that the war and/or tax cuts are responsible for budget deficits. In this case, it is the implication that war spending has diverted money from other crucial functions, like bridge maintenance. It ignores the fact that federal spending on transportation under Bush has gone from $41.5 billion in 2000 to $65.7 billion this year, an increase of 58.3% While it is possible that this money was spent on the wrong things in "transportation", it is obvious that spending on the war in Iraq played absolutely no role in reducing bridge maintenance, if such reduction occurred. NO ROLE. NONE.

This is just in the first one-third of the thread.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 1, 2007 04:32 AM

e said:

Nothing builds competence faster than engaging the U.S. military in an actual war.

This assertion is a variation of faith-based claim number 8, that using military force to kill terrorists only creates more terrorists. Here "e" claims not that we necessarily create additional terrorists, but that we create more competent terrorists. This ignores the fact that there are many examples in history where "engaging the US military in an actual war" led to utter devastation and defeat, not to greater competence.

Furthermore, according to the logic of "e's" assertion, police should not apprehend criminals because doing so will merely result in ever-more competent criminals.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 1, 2007 04:47 AM

Michael,

DPU repeats variations of this argument with the assertion that bombing Iran will be tossing “buckets of gasoline into the flames”. This ignores that fact that there are examples in history where bombings put the fire out.</>

One has to just think of London in WW II to see that bombing rarely puts "out fires." It just royally pissed them off all the more. The bombing of Iran would bring a surge of loyalty to the radical Iranian government and entrench them more than ever. This Pandora's Box will bring a Maelstrom only a Hagee could love.

Posted by: Russ at September 1, 2007 05:26 AM

Patrick Lasswell: I think women should be able to make their own reproductive choices and get naked in strip bars.

Um...I think they'd rather be assured the right to vote, not be discriminated against in the workplace and not suffer domestic abuse.

The "right" to "get naked in strip bars" sounds like a pretty male idea of how women should exercise their rights.

Posted by: Edgar at September 1, 2007 05:28 AM

Nice straw men, Michael.

Too bad you can't train them to fight.

At best, the Iraqi security forces will have a annual budget of $8 billion a year and they won't have attack helicopters or fighter-bombers or $50 million drones to back them up.

There is no way they will be able to defeat an insurgency that the U.S. military, with a budget of $650 billion a year and trillions of dollars worth of high tech toys, couldn't defeat.

Same goes for Afghanistan, where we're coming up on year seven there and another year of record casualties.

Posted by: e at September 1, 2007 06:34 AM

Michael Smith, resolute punisher of straw men:

If you read carefully, you will see that I did not claim that everyone on the left believes those articles of faith. I said that many do.

How many? Got a list of lefties who have endorsed your 15-point platform?

I'm pretty much a libertarian myself, so I probably can't speak as a member of the "left". However, I presently reside in the "People's Republic of Eugene" (Oregon) and even here, nobody subscribes to those principles as you've articulated them.

It's still a frustrating place to talk politics, but that's because so many Eugeniks are exactly like you: they demonize their opponents and insist on engaging only caricatures in debate.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 1, 2007 07:53 AM

In this thread, for instance, you’ve already had Dan claiming that our present forces cannot sustain the war much longer, which he suggests can only be cured by reinstating the military draft. This is an example of faith-based claim number 12. It ignores the fact that as recently as 1991 we were able to field an army of over 550,000 soldiers -- without a draft.

Dan's stream-of-consciousness anti-war talking-point compendiums may contain many objectionable items, but this isn't one of them. The "surge" is not sustainable. It will be followed by an "ebb". I thought this was common knowledge.

To put 160,000 soldiers on the ground we've had to extend tours from 12 to 15 months. We're going to have trouble keeping more than 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 1, 2007 08:48 AM

As to these points being "all wrong" about the left's foreign policies, you need only read a few of the comment threads here or at the Huffington Post or Daily Kos or Glenn Greenwald or anywhere else the war is discussed to hear leftists asserting these things.

Sure, and you only have to read a few lines at Red State or LGF to see a contrary view. Yet I doubt there is much point in typing up a left-wing perspective of right-wing views based on that in the same way.

Or is there?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 1, 2007 09:22 AM

Sure, and you only have to read a few lines at Red State or LGF to see a contrary view.

LGF isn't the biased, right-wing site people try to pretend it is. Here are a few lines at LGF praising a Swedish socialist.

Here are a few lines praising leftie Democrat Barbara Boxer.

LGF has its problems, but bias usually implies that a group dislikes another group for what they are, rather than for what they do. As far as I can tell, LGFers don't like other groups for what they do.

If anyone can find a few lines on Kos praising 'wingnuts' or republicans, it would be interesting to see them.

Posted by: mary at September 1, 2007 09:35 AM

DPU (or is it D+U?):

Thanks for trying to help with the "cut & paste".

I'll be more specific: From Totten's main web page, when I click "comments(156)", my browser opens a new smaller page containing the comments, but the new smaller page has no editing capabilities at the top.

Tom in South Texas

Posted by: Tom at September 1, 2007 09:56 AM

I'll be more specific: From Totten's main web page, when I click "comments(156)", my browser opens a new smaller page containing the comments, but the new smaller page has no editing capabilities at the top.

Okay, now I'm really confused. That's what we all see, and the edit box is at the bottom of the page. As you must know, because you are entering comments.

What exactly are you trying to do?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 1, 2007 10:01 AM

If anyone can find a few lines on Kos praising 'wingnuts' or republicans, it would be interesting to see them.

Here.
John Cole is one of the few right-wing pundits I read regularly. Sure, he's a conservative, but his positions are consistent and his military experiences give him a perspective sorely lacking on the right side of the blogosphere.
Here.
Wow. A right-winger's perspective, but a harsh perspective toward the President. The same harsh perspective we've been seeing out of Scarborough, Tucker Carlson and even Bill O'Reilly.

Now, with his resignation, RedState (unfortunately for the national debate) will become just another Little Green Footballs or Free Republic, but with Scoop.

That wasn't hard.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 1, 2007 10:09 AM

Tom,

Select "Permalink" or open it in a new tab and you get the full page experience with comments. Most people's postings don't run to such encyclopedic lengths, and so the pop-up comments section is valuable.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 1, 2007 10:37 AM

e,

Nothing builds competence faster than engaging the U.S. military in an actual war.

Which is why Saddam did so much better the second time in the field?

Actually your comment would make sense if we followed your disastrous policy and left without assuring AQ was substantially defeated.

Unlike real wars, AQ is engaged in trifling with somebody else's insurgency and they do not appear capable of learning the primary lesson, which is cooperating with the locals. Go read Michael Yon, then spend some quality time growing up.

I don't suppose you've ever actually been through Iraq, but they have traffic stops everywhere. These generally work like a champ in the Kurdistan region, but elsewhere they are a bit spotty. Nevertheless, AQ has now got to exfiltrate their competent troops outside the country past those check points. Now they can't go North through Kurdistan, they can't go West through Anbar, and they can't go South or East through the Shia districts. Some will get through, but they are not getting out of Iraq with the bulk lessons they learned.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 1, 2007 10:45 AM

As an a person with some 1st hand information about Iraq.
1) Iraq is a synthetic imposed products of three or four Ottoman land divisions. Probably a federation enforced by the UN is a decent solution, but Iran will object.
2) Iraq can not be compared to India or China. It has all the land, all the water, all the oil-energy that one can think about, and is underpopulated. Notice that in all this mess there is no food shortage at all.
3) Basically Iraq economy is well diversified and was often ballanced. Agriculture, Energy, small manufaturing that now, as in whole world, was killed by China. Ski in the North a real hot house in the south, probably can export Ag. products to the whole world, China? India?. Agriculture production can be doubled or tripled in less than ten years. Put a fence around it make peace and in ten years it will be better economically than either Cal. or Florida.
4) compare to most ME countries it did have, since the 1920s, a very active and industrious middle class, well educated and even at times, as in WW II, expanding. These people were very aware polically, very many political parties.
5) If Iraq will fall to Iran or be under Iranian influence the whole ME will change no saying what way. The energy market of the world too. The kingdom of SA may spent zilions, they and the other occupants of the gulf will not and can not stand against Iran, automatically the Shiaa minorities there will become uptidy and then no body knows what will happen. What will Turkey do if the Kurds of Iraq will be under Iranian control or semi control? What will the Muslim nations of central Asia do? (much oil there !!!) Russia? Afganistan? Syria? Egypt ? Hopefully some body is thinking about that.
Thank you for your time and attention.

Posted by: Anonymus at September 1, 2007 10:59 AM

The Iraq invasion: A very bad idea, very poorly executed. Both of these descriptions were valid in 2003 and for the same reasons, still valid.

You can't force unity on a country where the major groups hate each other and want the other groups not to exist. There is simply no basis for a unified government. That's the bad idea part. The poorly executed part is this: You can't hope to invade and hold a country if you cannot control the country and you can't control a country if the borders are undefended. How our generals signed off on the invasion plan is beyond me. It's really criminal. Imagine if at the end of WWII, Germans, Nazis, had access to huge arms caches, the borders of Germany were totally unguarded, and hostile forces constantly infiltrated, attacking our soldiers. We would still be fighting there.

Sure the "surge" (what a stupid name; who comes up with these bizarre terms, surge, shock and awe, homeland security? They are all so fucking infantile, but that is another thread) works because if you have a shitload of soldiers in a few places, armed to the teeth, there will be a lessening of hostilities. At least, while they're there. But then what? How long do we stay? What would the criteria be for leaving? Do we think the Shia and Sunnis will give up their 1400 year old animosity because George Bush asks them to? A country comprised of groups whose loyalty is to the clan and religion, not the country, cannot become a nation, absent a strongman, like Hussein. What is their incentive to make space for minorities?

What Congress should do, and for reasons I cannot fathom it won't, is to defund the war immediately. Whether we stay an extra six months or six years, apart from the cost of it in money, and lives, the result will be exactly the same.

I have zero respect for the moron in the White House but I would at least pause and consider what he says if he would admit that the Iraq invasion was a major blunder and a continuing disaster. Until then, as far as I'm concerned even his ands and thes are lies.

Posted by: Seymour Paine at September 1, 2007 11:02 AM

Anon,

If Iraq will fall to Iran or be under Iranian influence the whole ME will change no saying what way. The energy market of the world too. The kingdom of SA may spent zilions, they and the other occupants of the gulf will not and can not stand against Iran, automatically the Shiaa minorities there will become uptidy and then no body knows what will happen.

You may be right but what of these considerations. One, Iran has one ally in the ME, Syria, and they are pro-Sunni Iraq. Once the US where to lesson its presence would be against Iran. Two, Iran isn't really all that powerful, what kind of Air-force do they have? Not much. Also, Iran is oil rich but refinery poor and are actually having gas riots. Three, Iran has many of the same divisional problems Iraq has, unhappy kurds, rouge tribal chiefs, and a large Sunni population.

Posted by: Russ at September 1, 2007 11:26 AM

Mary:

If anyone can find a few lines on Kos praising 'wingnuts' or republicans, it would be interesting to see them.

I'm stunned that you apparently thought that would be difficult. Seriously.

Just as I'd have been stunned if I seen someone on the left write the same post, reversing LGF and Kos.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 1, 2007 11:45 AM

I'm stunned that you apparently thought that would be difficult. Seriously.

I didn't say that it would be difficult, I just said it would be interesting to see them. I haven't read Kos lately because their focus on domestic politics/infighting is kind of boring.

It's nice to know that they're not filled with knee-jerk bias either. Thanks, dpu for the links.

Posted by: mary at September 1, 2007 11:56 AM

Ahhh...permalink, that's what that is for.

Thanks, Patrick & DPU

Tom in South Texas

Posted by: Tom at September 1, 2007 12:06 PM

Patrick:

Which is why Saddam did so much better the second time in the field?

Funny

Tom in South Texas

Posted by: Tom at September 1, 2007 12:19 PM

The purpose of the surge was to:

(1) Decimate AQ
(2) Test the Iraqi Army (expertise & loyalty)
(3) Minimize a Tet offensive
(4) Reduce "rogue" militia activity
(5) Provide more security to Iraqi citizens
(6) Bring about a degree of stability in Iraq

It was also designed to
(7) Piss off Pelosi & Reid
(8) Ensure Repubican victories in '08 elections.

The main goal of the surge was to give the Iraq government time to judge which way the wind was blowing during their summer vacation (as in the U.S.). A trial baloon was launched recently by Maliki et.al., to test reactions to some concessions. (The first reaction by the Sunnis was "It's not enough").

After reading Bill Roggio's Fourth Rail for the last month or so, I think #1 is working.
The others are a wait & see. But if the surge continues to accomplish its goals, especially pissing off PR and dividing the Demos, I'd say give it more time.

Tom in South Texas

Posted by: Tom at September 1, 2007 12:49 PM

Patrick,

Saying that "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is the main enemy in Iraq is just a way of lowering the bar for success there again.

A rather weak talking point.

As for Saddam, it's true he didn't do well in either of his wars.

The people who took his place seem to be much better at it.

I bet Israel wishes the hapless PLO were still in charge, too, instead of Hamas and Hezbollah.

Posted by: e at September 1, 2007 01:20 PM

"John Cole is one of the few right-wing pundits I read regularly. Sure, he's a conservative, but his positions are consistent and his military experiences give him a perspective sorely lacking on the right side of the blogosphere."--dpu

Just purely in the interests of 'reality' and not at all to start a conflict here, but I do read more than 1 'right-wing' site on a regular basis and they HATE John Cole. He is hardly considered a 'conservative' at this point in time or rather is a conservative in the Andrew Sullivan mold. Which is to say ---- not at all except as self-described. And purely apart from his 'ideology' I find him totally shallow, petty, and virtually unreadable. But thats' just one person's opinion. If you compare his output to MJT's it is like watching a deviant and 'special' child finger-paint all over the screen. Badly.

Just FYI and all that.

ps --- If you think that Cole caters to a 'conservative' crowd, your should read his comments sometime. I find wading through the morass to be much too heavy lifting but just once should do the trick for the newcomers. Not a 'conservative' in the bunch, but the mouth-breathers are usually very well represented indeed.

Posted by: dougf at September 1, 2007 02:06 PM

...but I do read more than 1 'right-wing' site on a regular basis and they HATE John Cole. He is hardly considered a 'conservative' at this point in time...

Doug, with respect, this is idiocy. John Cole is a conservative, and has been a conservative for the several years that I have been reading him. What would make him not right-wing?

The fact that he is now critical of the handling if the US occupation in Iraq maybe?

That is NOT what defines conservativism, Doug. And as someone who was educated in poli-sci, you should know that.

If you think that Cole caters to a 'conservative' crowd, your should read his comments sometime.

I've been reading him for years. Go back in his archives and look at his comment section when he
was still popular with the pro-invasion crowd. Now that he is critical of the administration from a conservative viewpoint, he's shunned as an apostate, despite the fact that he has not changed his ideology.

Like I said earlier, politics in America seems to be being relegated to a consumable product with no more reason for partisanship other than team loyalty. Otherwise, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would consider Sullivan and Cole to be not conservative.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 1, 2007 02:25 PM

DPU-- Let's just say then that Cole is not 'my' cup of tea and I would NEVER recommend him as reflecting the type of 'conservatism' I favour. Or as a 'conservative' read.

I further find him UNREADABLE and BOORISH. Period. He comes across as a lout and his camp-followers are unbearable. But each to his own. Each to his own.

If you are recommending a 'conservative' site to the uninitiated, perhaps Jeff's site would be far more 'germane'. Much more 'conservative'(IMO) and FAR more intellectual. Recommending Cole as a constructive read is like recommending Kos. Won't read Kos either, but I will touch base with Marc Cooper because he tries hard to be intellectually honest. And he THINKS.

Protein Wisdom.All The News That Drives 'Progressives' Insane.

But in this as in many other things I guess, great minds will have to differ. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt here, my friend. ----- :-)

Posted by: dougf at September 1, 2007 02:42 PM

"Favour", dougf?

Are you American?

Posted by: e at September 1, 2007 02:53 PM

Are you American?---e

Are we having citizenship day today, and nobody told me ?

Both DPU, and myself are from your quasi-friendly neighbour to the North. He is from BC and I am from Ontario. But US politics tends to be FAR more interesting, and 100% more germane to the WORLD than the Canadian variety so we meet here to annoy each other on a sporadic basis.

And others as is required by events.

Posted by: dougf at September 1, 2007 03:01 PM

Haha, dougf.

No offense intended.

I just spent a very pleasant week in the world's most livable city (Vancouver).

Can a conservative in the land of gay marriage and socialized medicine find common cause with conservatives to the south, though?

There are some international aspects to America's occupation of Iraq...but the cost and the blame are purely ours.

Posted by: e at September 1, 2007 03:21 PM

Which is why Saddam did so much better the second time in the field?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Saddam actually did do far better the second time round, if you discount the first few weeks of the war and focus instead on the 4 years that came after. The main lesson Saddam and his followers learned from Gulf War I was to switch the emphasis of Iraqi forces from conventional to asymmetric warefare - something the US army has always been bad at dealing with. Saddams paramilitary Fedeyeen force and his former officer class have been running much of the insurgency quite effectively for the last 4+ years with the aid of billions of cash, plenty of unsecured explosives to make IED's and an endless supply of usefull idiots in the form of brainwash foreign jihadis, criminal thugs and patriotic Iraqis. Granted his Shia enemies have also played their part contributing the looming US defeat, but by any objective analysis, Saddam and his former colleagues are no where near as ineffective as they were in Gulf War I.

One of the blowback effects of the US stalemate in Iraq is that the Jihadis now have a template they use to fight any western army to a standstill. This has only encouraged their Muslim brothers in Afghanistans that western forces there can also be defeated. The only way the US could win in Iraq now would be to expand the army, send in 500,000 troops and keep them there for at least a decade. The problem with that is no US politician, conservative or liberal, is prepared to accept the political cost of those actions. It would almost certainly required a draft, which would result in a interesting social experiment demonstrating how quickly a conservative faux patriot would turn into a liberal as soon as he was required to put his ass on the line for his own country.

Posted by: EmbersFire at September 1, 2007 03:53 PM

I further find him UNREADABLE and BOORISH.

That would be his personality and/or writing style that you are talking about, not his political philosophy.

Did you feel his writing was that way a couple of years ago when he was still politically correct?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 1, 2007 04:14 PM

I just spent a very pleasant week in the world's most livable city (Vancouver).

What a coincidence, I just spent forty years there.

Glad you liked it. And Ontario sucks.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 1, 2007 04:15 PM

Can a conservative in the land of gay marriage and socialized medicine find common cause with conservatives to the south, though?--e

Aye, there's the rub, indeed. Sometimes I just have to stand back and stare at some of the things that 'your' conservatives appear to seriously believe. But then I am not really at all a 'so-con'. Live and let live tends to suit me more than a fixed set of rules.

As I said before, I am of the 'neo-con' peruasion and despite the bad press lately, remain convinced that the core message was the correct one to deal with what I think is a REAL problem.

I think every rational person must now HOPE that Iraq stabilises to something much better than its prior life. I have so many fingers and toes crossed that I believe I have done myself a permanent injury. The 'turning' against the Al-Queda types is however a very GOOD thing in itself,whatever it leads to in the future.

Glad you enjoyed your trip North, and hope to meet you in the virtual world here in the future.

My truly best guess (hope) is that by this time next year, there will be significant and highly visible improvements on the ground in Iraq. If not then it's going to be a bumpy ride for a long time into the future. And no-one is going to be a happy camper. Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative --- not going to matter.

My hope is that both you and I can look at the same situation next year at this time and honestly say--- 'Well that's at least OK. Could be better but could be a hell of a lot worse. I would have done things differently but that's OK.'

That to me would be ---- Victory. For everyone.

Posted by: dougf at September 1, 2007 04:16 PM

Glad you liked it. And Ontario sucks.--dpu

Well I never !!!

Now that's just plain RUDE. Typical 'lefty' behavior ( behaviour). ----:-)

I now will wander off in a snit. So there.

Posted by: dougf at September 1, 2007 04:21 PM

By the way, note that I try to use American spellings on American blogs (favor, labor, neighbor,). Saves the "u" on my keyboard.

I have a hard time converting to your bizarre measurement system. A car gets five hogsheads to the furlong, add a peck of flour to a firkin of milk, etc. Give me metric any day.

Doug is a raving Canadian nationalist though. That's why he refuses to twist the Queen's English just for the benefit of upstart breakaway colonialists. :-)

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 1, 2007 04:23 PM

dougf,

One thing about our domestic conservatives:

They claim to loath "foreigners" telling America what to do, but I'd guess nearly half of the remaining support for the occupation of Iraq online and in the press comes from the Mark Steyn Light Infantry Batallion.

Yet they still want to build a wall and a moat along the world's longest undefended border.

Wacky crowd.

Posted by: e at September 1, 2007 04:58 PM

EmbersFire,

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Saddam actually did do far better the second time round, if you discount the first few weeks of the war and focus instead on the 4 years that came after.

Yeah, as long as you don't count that whole "getting lynched by your worst enemies" thing. Or the part where he got dug out of a hole by American forces. Or the part where his heirs were blown up. Or the part where his political party completely disintegrated. Or the part where he completely lost everything.

Other than that he scored some serious debating points during the trial.

Saddams paramilitary Fedeyeen force and his former officer class have been running much of the insurgency quite effectively for the last 4+ years with the aid of billions of cash, plenty of unsecured explosives to make IED's and an endless supply of usefull idiots in the form of brainwash foreign jihadis, criminal thugs and patriotic Iraqis.

Except that they didn't. Nobody is calling themselves Fedayeen today. Nobody with any power is expressing any loyalty to Saddam. The Sunni dallied with Al Qaeda but are dispensing with them now. The Shia are pursuing their own agenda, but have nothing to do with Iraq.

Saddam lost, utterly, and not just because he got his neck stretched while surrounded by thugs in a lynch mob. No policy of Saddams survives his fall from power, as long as "everything is screwed up" is not a policy. Pulling the pillars down on top of yourself makes a great myth, but nobody boasts of being as strategically gifted as Samson.

The problem with your analysis is that you have not changed it since 2003. You might want to look at what is actually going on instead of reading old copies of Newsweek.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 1, 2007 05:08 PM

The problem with your analysis is that you have not changed it since 2003. You might want to look at what is actually going on instead of reading old copies of Newsweek.

Oh don't get me wrong, I agree that the insurgency has long outlived Saddam and is further complicated by the civil war and Iran's medling in Iraq. The main point I was making was that Saddam wasn't quite as ineffectual or as stupid as people made him out to be. Saddam may be long since dead, but the US and Iraqi government forces are finding in increasingly difficult to extinguish the fire that he helped start. Interesting that Saddam, George Bush, and Al Qaeda for that matter, have all lost the war in Iraq and while their common enemy, Iran, is destined to be the real winner.

Posted by: EmbersFire at September 1, 2007 05:28 PM

EmbersFire,

I think that any gains made by the Islamic Republic are going to be hard for Iran to capitalize on in the long term. You should be aware that the current theocracy government in Iran is not clearly acting in the long term interests of the Persian empire they occupy. There are a hell of a lot of their neighbors who are really angry at Iran just now. Additionally, you can only go on irritating the most powerful country in the world for so long before it comes back at you.

Remember that the enemy has problems, too.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 1, 2007 06:28 PM

We can only hope the West's enemies screw up more spectacularly than we do. That may be our only saving grace.

Posted by: EmbersFire at September 1, 2007 09:03 PM

Patrick:

Regarding our earlier comversation about Iran targeting, have you seen this recent article?

Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran

THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.

Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.

http://patdollard.com/2007/09/02/%e2%80%9cthey%e2%80%99re-about-taking-out-the-entire-iranian-military/

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 2, 2007 09:45 AM

Tom,

I had not seen that, but I disagree with the plan. Iran is a conscript military in a deeply troubled political situation. You do not have to grind them into the dirt, you just have to delaminate the military from the ruling class.

There is a ritual with naval ships passing each other that they dip their flags in salute. For quite some time now the rule is that everybody else dips their flag first, and then the US Navy dips their flag. (For details why, read any history of the Second World War.) Lately, the Iranian Navy, but not the Revolutionary Guard ships, have been properly observing naval courtesy. Somebody in the Iranian Navy has decided that they are Persian, and inheritors of an ancient civilization. The Revolutionary Guard still thinks like a bunch of fascist thugs.

We certainly have the capacity to eliminate most or all of the strategic mobility of the Iranian military without killing a bunch of conscripts. One of our best decisions in each of the Iraq wars was to beat the tar out of the Republican Guard. As long as our enemies continue to invest so heavily in elite political troops, I think we should be obliging by beating the hell out them. Military machines are operated by men, and if you take away the motivation to operate the machines, you can do more damage than if you tried to chase down every truck, tank, and bulldozer.

I do not object to eradicating the air defense system in Iran as part of a plan to foment revolution.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 2, 2007 10:36 AM

Patrick:

A link in one of the comments of today's Pat Dollards post, led me to an interesting article:

http://www.saneworks.us/Part-I-Is-there-a-viable-military-strategy-for-disarming-Iran-article-450-59.htm

The article, "Part I: Is there a viable military strategy for disarming Iran?" (By Colonel Thomas Snodgrass (USAF retired) Sun, June 10, 2007, 2:21 pm), also advocates a massive air campaign.

But in the comments, he added:

"I saw an interesting thought in Amir Taheri’s column today that might convince me to drop one of my targets from the list. #9 in my targeting list is the Iranian Army (because it is least threatening to us). Taheri suggests that if we destroyed the main SS-type supports of the Mullahcracy, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, while leaving the Iranian Army, the opponents of Khomeinism might team up with the army and displace the mullahs. It is an interesting idea to ponder."

I think this fits right in with your thinking.

But is there any way to determine whether a ship is Revolutionary Guard or Iranian Navy?

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 2, 2007 02:11 PM

So we're gonna bomb yet another country into "democracy?"

Let's hope President Hillary swaps the people behind it for all the downed American pilots that will be sitting in Iranian prisons.

Posted by: e at September 2, 2007 02:22 PM

e,

So we're gonna bomb yet another country into "democracy?"

If commentary is beyond your comprehension, as military discussions appear to be, please refrain from oversimplifying them down to your level of comprehension. In this thread and elsewhere, you have repeatedly misread and oversimplified my commentary and others as well as indicated a grave lack of understanding about military matters. This is annoying and does not serve your intent.

Unless it is your intention to annoy people who understand the situation better than you do, please take some time to learn about the successful counter-insurgencies of the United States. Also, take some time to talk with the Iranian revolutionary groups, I have and am remarkably optimistic about their intentions and chances. The Iranian peoples are remarkably cultured and are broadly educated despite the barbaric character of their current government. With a little bit of help at certain crucial junctures, they have a very real chance of obtaining democracy on their own.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 2, 2007 09:22 PM

Patrick,

Outside the Phillipine-American war, where we brutally suppressed a group of people who thought we were going to liberate them from the Spanish, I can't think of another successful counter-insurgency America has fought.

We bomb Iran and its "cultured and broadly educated" citizens will rally around their current government...and America will cement its reputation as a violent, stupid and impotent thug of a nation.

Posted by: e at September 2, 2007 10:19 PM

Also, take some time to talk with the Iranian revolutionary groups, I have and am remarkably optimistic about their intentions and chances.

There was a similar air of optimism among those who talked to Iraqi revolutionaries prior to the Iraq invasion. Forgive me for having doubts that this will work out any better.

Your arguments for regime change in Iran seem to have a large element of hope in them, Patrick, and not much else. That seems foolhardy, especially with the number of lives that would be put at stake in this enterprise, not to speak of the tremendous loss of influence that the US would face in the region in the event of failure.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 2, 2007 10:50 PM

e,

Outside the Phillipine-American war, where we brutally suppressed a group of people who thought we were going to liberate them from the Spanish, I can't think of another successful counter-insurgency America has fought.

This is where you show a lack of comprehension and study of history. The counter-insurgencies in Haiti, Dominica, and Nicaragua were successful, as well as the Phillipine actions. While violence is a part of any insurgency, describing our actions as brutal without placing them in context is yet another way you show your viewpoint to be superficial and essentially flawed.

Perhaps you have some evidence that show that Moro tribesmen or Haitian cannibals were actually proto-Ghandian pacifists. I doubt that you do because none exists, and your utter lack of clarity regarding the realities of insurgency is wearing more than a bit thin. Let me spell this out for you, sometimes civilized people have to fight barbarians. Usually the process of suppressing the barbarians is messy. Always the barbarians object. Occasionally, the barbarians are able to object poetically and at length. They will still cut your throat and rape your women if you let them.

It is worth analyzing our behavior to prevent unnecessary atrocity and the barbarians who side with us from taking over. But unless and until you do so honestly and with integrity, the difference between objection and psychotic babble is nil. Your objections are insufficiently informed to qualify as honest or stated with integrity. Even worse, they are so trite as to be insufferably dull.

Go read Michael Yon and grow up.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 2, 2007 11:03 PM

Patrick,

Yon announced he was putting aside impartial reporting to become a full time cheerleader for our continued occupation of Iraq.

I still find his stuff interesting, though.

As for Haiti, it's still a violent mess.

Posted by: e at September 2, 2007 11:11 PM

However, the leader of the group responsible is not in Iran. He's not in Iraq. So why bring it up? Oh I get it... you're gonna tie 9/11 to Iran since that tactic worked so well with Iraq, right?

Posted by: Lawyer at September 3, 2007 01:20 AM

Lawyer,

Not even America's dumbest knuckle-dragging simpleton thinks Iran had anything to do with 9/11.

Did you make those kinds of arguments in law school, or did you save them up for your career?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 3, 2007 01:29 AM

Patrick,
"With a little bit of help at certain crucial junctures, they have a very real chance of obtaining democracy on their own."

A little bit of help with our hands would only backfire. You know they hate right? We helped along the 1953 Iranian takeover, that did a lot to bring 1979/444 days. We helped Saddam come to power, little mistake there. Given Ahmadinejad's popularity, he will be voted out of office in the next election, if we don't bomb them of course. Also, why the big rush to bomb Iran, elections coming up? They are at least 5-10 years away from actually even getting a bomb.

Posted by: Russ at September 3, 2007 06:08 AM

Not even America's dumbest knuckle-dragging simpleton thinks Iran had anything to do with 9/11.

Quite a few people believe that Iran is allied with al Qaeda. I'm not sure if they're all knuckle-draggers or not.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 3, 2007 08:25 AM

Russ,

A little bit of help with our hands would only backfire. You know they hate right? We helped along the 1953 Iranian takeover, that did a lot to bring 1979/444 days. We helped Saddam come to power, little mistake there. Given Ahmadinejad's popularity, he will be voted out of office in the next election, if we don't bomb them of course. Also, why the big rush to bomb Iran, elections coming up? They are at least 5-10 years away from actually even getting a bomb.

What are next Wednesday's winning powerball numbers? If you have such absolute intelligence on the progress of Iran's nuclear arsenal, you have to be able to look closely at the numbered ping-pong balls and tell me what they will be on Wednesday?

Or perhaps, given that you believe that elections in Iran reflect the popular will, you are just freaking delusional.

Seriously, my conversations with real Iranian revolutionaries who have experience in overthrowing Iranian governments indicate that the Mullahs are able to be overthrown by a popular revolution. This is different from what happened in 1953 in Iran and 1979 in Iraq. I don't suppose you want to let facts get in your way, though.

Why did we want to spend the next 5-10 years praying that Iranian genocide specialists don't have a breakthrough, again?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 3, 2007 01:36 PM
What are next Wednesday's winning powerball numbers? If you have such absolute intelligence on the progress of Iran's nuclear arsenal, you have to be able to look closely at the numbered ping-pong balls and tell me what they will be on Wednesday?

...

my conversations with real Iranian revolutionaries who have experience in overthrowing Iranian governments indicate that the Mullahs are able to be overthrown by a popular revolution. This is different from what happened in 1953 in Iran and 1979 in Iraq. I don't suppose you want to let facts get in your way, though.

Shorter version - if anyone else expresses an opinion regarding what might happen if Iran is attacked, they're craaaazy. If Patrick does the same, then he's a very serious analyst.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 3, 2007 01:54 PM

I'm not much for guessing.

May 19, 2007 22:06 | Updated May 19, 2007 22:06
IDF: Iran will have bomb only in 2010

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1178708639046&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Iran has set up several hundred centrifuges to enrich uranium, a process that can yield both nuclear fuel and weapons-grade material. But analysts say that Iran is behind schedule on plans to install 3,000 centrifuges to produce enriched uranium on a larger scale.

Last year Ernst Uhrlau, the head of German intelligence, said Tehran would not be able to produce enough material for a nuclear bomb before 2010 and would only be able to make it into a weapon by about 2015.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/ae2d5d24-badd-11db-bbf3-0000779e2340.html Financial Times

Iran Is Judged 10 Years From Nuclear Bomb
U.S. Intelligence Review Contrasts With Administration Statements
By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; A01

Do you offer a source that says Ahmadinejad's election was a hoax? Please share. You know a more moderate was in there and helped us in Afghanistan and even helped get AQ people, why the smoke?

Facts in my way? Thats all we have, lets debate there. Now, if we want to sponsor democracies, maybe it would be easier in our palls's backyard, Oman, ect..

Posted by: Russ at September 3, 2007 02:02 PM

If Bush wanted to trigger a crisis big enough to allow him to suspend American elections next year, bombing Iran might do the trick, but I doubt China and Russia would take the bait.

Still, it would probably drive oil prices up to the $100+ a barrel range, a nice parting gift to Bush's oil industry pals.

I doubt he's willing to risk being tried as a war criminal for them, though.

Posted by: e at September 3, 2007 02:13 PM

e,

If Bush wanted to trigger a crisis big enough to allow him to suspend American elections next year, bombing Iran might do the trick, but I doubt China and Russia would take the bait.

You know, that is easily the stupidest thing you've written this thread...and that's saying something.

Accusing a third generation political aristocrat of taking a literally unprecedented step to usurp the entire political process of the United States is just beyond the pale. Lincoln did not suspend elections, Roosevelt did not suspend elections, and Johnson did not suspend elections. All of these presidents faced substantially greater threats to the security of the United States and still adhered to the Constitution. The Bush family will never overthrow the system because it is working for them.

Thank you for excusing yourself from the conversation, you have stepped over into Crazytown, and we don't have to pay any attention to you any more. (If this is actually Frank J. pulling my leg, please take off the mask and we can all have a big laugh.)

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 3, 2007 03:40 PM

It may be out there, Patrick, but not as out there as the idea that we can bomb Iran into loving us.

Posted by: e at September 3, 2007 04:48 PM

e,

It may be out there, Patrick, but not as out there as the idea that we can bomb Iran into loving us.

Iraqi's have greeted me as a friend because I am an American. They have greeted me as a hero because I am in the US military (as a reservist). This is why you are not significantly in touch with reality. The nation on earth most severely bombed by the US is Iraq. The thing is, we aren't flying B-17's and dropping bombs within a mile of a designated target. We are now dropping bombs within inches of the designated target, at times using concrete instead of explosive bombs because all we need to do is squash instead of detonate.

I am describing reality I have experienced in Iraq and you are describing reality you presume in Iran. One of us is right and the other one is crazy, but I've got pictures backing my vision of reality. Pictures of me in Iraq, with grateful Iraqi's.

Your model for reality is not working. Continuing to insist that it does work in the face of extensive evidence to the contrary is insanity.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 3, 2007 05:54 PM

Patrick,

I'm glad you were treated well in Iraq, but if the Iraqis were really happy with our bombing/occupation of their country...we wouldn't be discussig this now, would we?

Posted by: e at September 3, 2007 06:25 PM

Ahmadinejad told academics in a speech that elements inside Iran were pressing for compromise in the nuclear standoff with the West over fears the United States could launch a military strike.

“In some discussions I told them ‘I am an engineer and I am examining the issue. They do not dare wage war against us and I base this on a double proof’,” he said in the speech on Sunday, reported by the reformist Etemad Melli and Kargozaran newspapers.

“I tell them: ‘I am an engineer and I am a master in calculation and tabulation.

“I draw up tables. For hours, I write out different hypotheses. I reject, I reason. I reason with planning and I make a conclusion. They cannot make problems for Iran.’”

The rest of the article is here

This guy is fruity.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 3, 2007 06:51 PM

This guy is fruity.

Fruity with a bad case of open mouth disease.

But as mentioned earlier, he doesn't control either Iran's foreign policy or nuclear technology. And barring an attack on Iran, he probably won't be likely to be re-elected due to his disastrous performance on domestic issues.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 3, 2007 06:55 PM

...he probably won't be likely to be re-elected...

Feb. 2008?

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 3, 2007 07:40 PM

he probably won't be likely to be re-elected due to his disastrous performance on domestic issues.

He's not doing so hot on international issues either.

And his opponents are who?

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 3, 2007 07:51 PM

And his opponents are who?

Last election? Or the next one?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 3, 2007 09:06 PM

If you were referring to the last election, he had six opponents in the first round of voting, and a single opponent in the second.

Feb. 2008?

His term ends in August, 2009. Elections will likely be in June 2009.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 3, 2007 09:14 PM

He's not doing so hot on international issues either.

True, and there seems to be significant electoral backlash on that issue as well. Which is why I hope the trend is not disrupted by US bombs falling on voters.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 3, 2007 09:21 PM

"are you American"

Typical leftist hypocrite, gets a sudden onslaught of hyper-nationalism when he sees a chance to make an infantile debating point over someone's spelling. Too bad dougf turned out to be Canadian.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at September 3, 2007 09:27 PM

Typical leftist hypocrite,...

Wow, someone's been taking crazy pills.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 3, 2007 09:36 PM

Victor Davis Hanson says For now, we should avoid a smoking Tehran

..So we should continue with the present path — and not bomb or have surrogates bomb Iran. That option is still down the road. For as long as it is possible, the best-case scenario is not a smoking Iran, but a humiliated theocracy that slowly implodes before the world, displaying in their disgrace what the mullahs did to themselves — and perhaps a small reminder of those helpful shoves from us

Posted by: mary at September 4, 2007 06:20 AM

What a load of nonsense, Mary, I ...

Oh wait, that's my position too. This is going to take some getting used to, I'm not used to being on the same side of an issue as you.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 4, 2007 07:44 AM

Just noticed your comment about 650 words as opposed to 10,000 and had to laugh...I just returned from an embed in Iraq and I've been selling stories to a variety of newspapers. While I'd love to publish a decent 3,000 word article that I think could more effectively capture the mission and the soldiers, the reality is newspapers top out around 1,500 words - often less. It makes it very difficult to explain things in anything but a very broad manner (and like any writer I have to complain about newspaper editing...haha). Yes, the Internet does spoil a writer, but there's something to be said about getting one's work on front pages across the country. It's a tough thing finding the balance...

Posted by: Nathan Webster at September 4, 2007 08:07 AM

DPU:

I did a quick search & came up with 2 items:
(1) There was an Iranian election in Feb. 2000.
(2) Ahmadinejad's term of office is 4 years.

Using my highly perfected mathematical skills, I assumed the next election was Feb. 2008.

If his term doesn't end until Aug. 2009, it would probably be too early for him to have election opponents.

I think it also means Bush won't be able to wait to see if his replacement is more moderate. I believe Bush is determined to deal with Iran before he (Bush) leaves office.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 4, 2007 09:36 AM

DPU:

Mary just quoted Victor Hansen's position, she didn't say she agreed with it.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 4, 2007 09:42 AM

Mary just quoted Victor Hansen's position, she didn't say she agreed with it.

Well, I do agree with what he's saying. If the current regime is violently overthrown, by us or by some outside force, or even by the Iranians, our enemies in the area will send in the insurgents, as they always do. The resulting 'insurgency' will take advantage of the chaos, and after thousands of people die, the Islamists or some equivalent brutal/totalitarian regime will be in power.

In the case of the current Iranian regime, it's better for us to cripple the enemy than to kill them. As Hansen notes, that seems to be what the Administration is trying to do. We may have learned from Iraq.

Posted by: mary at September 4, 2007 10:47 AM

...our enemies in the area will send in the insurgents, as they always do.

You think that al Qaeda in Iran will do well, then?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 4, 2007 11:21 AM

You think that al Qaeda in Iran will do well, then?

You think al Qaeda is the only Islamist paramilitary group in existence?

Or are you trying to say that the violent overthrow of the Iranian government will not be followed by the growth of an insurgency?

Posted by: mary at September 4, 2007 11:38 AM

You think al Qaeda is the only Islamist paramilitary group in existence?

Hell no. I'm just trying to figure out which one you think the Saudis will send in.

Or are you trying to say that the violent overthrow of the Iranian government will not be followed by the growth of an insurgency?

Actually, I doubt the Iranian government will be overthrown in the near future. If an invasion took place (impossible at the moment, but hypothetically) then yes, there would be an insurgency, but I don't see why it would need any outside assistance.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 4, 2007 12:08 PM

If his term doesn't end until Aug. 2009, it would probably be too early for him to have election opponents.

Several potential candidates are listed here. Keep in mind that the Iranian "Guardian Council" disqualifies anyone they think un-Islamic enough, so that is a tentative list at best.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 4, 2007 12:20 PM

I believe Bush is determined to deal with Iran before he (Bush) leaves office.

Tough to say. I'm beginning to think that he doesn't have the reins at this point. The talk in the last few weeks may be a bit of brinkmanship to get Europe, Russia, and China to put some pressure on Iran. I think that the consequences of a bombing campaign on Iraq would be enough to give pause at the Pentagon.

And Iran may know this, which is why Ahmadinejad keeps making farting noises and funny faces at the US. He knows it's just talk.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 4, 2007 12:31 PM

Hell no. I'm just trying to figure out which one you think the Saudis will send in.

The Saudis aren't the only bad guys in the neighborhood.

If an invasion took place (impossible at the moment, but hypothetically) then yes, there would be an insurgency, but I don't see why it would need any outside assistance.

Insurgencies in the Middle East always get outside assistance. That's how they fight their wars.

Posted by: mary at September 4, 2007 12:33 PM

The Saudis aren't the only bad guys in the neighborhood.

The Iraqis?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 4, 2007 01:19 PM

The Iraqis?

Oh, come on. The next insurgency will be funded and supplied by the some but maybe not all of the people who brought us the insurgencies/militant actions/separatist movements/civil wars in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Nigeria, Mauritania, the Sudan and beyond, in Kashmir, Chechnya and Thailand.

It's a booming business.

Posted by: mary at September 4, 2007 02:13 PM

The next insurgency will be funded and supplied by the some but maybe not all of the people who brought us the insurgencies/militant actions/separatist movements/civil wars in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Nigeria, Mauritania, the Sudan and beyond, in Kashmir, Chechnya and Thailand.

I thought that was the Saudis.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 4, 2007 04:11 PM

I thought that was the Saudis

If there's an Islamist terrorist attack anywhere in the world, guessing that the Saudis were involved is like guessing that the sun will rise in the morning. But they're usually not the only ones involved.

Posted by: mary at September 4, 2007 05:55 PM

"I thought that was the Saudis."

Yes - and the Iranians.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at September 4, 2007 11:41 PM

Russ said:

The bombing of Iran would bring a surge of loyalty to the radical Iranian government and entrench them more than ever. This Pandora's Box will bring a Maelstrom only a Hagee could love.

There's that old faith-based claim again. Hey, all you people accusing me of attacking a straw man. The above is not a straw man.

Incidental question: What happened with Japan after we bombed the hell out of them? What happended to decades of militant, fanatical Japanese Imperialism? What happened to the blind allegience to an Emperor held to be divine? And what arose in Japan in the aftermath?

Second incidental question: If attacking a country inevitably produces a groundswell of support for its leadership, why didn't the Iraqis unite behind Saddam when we invaded?

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 5, 2007 10:02 AM

Creamy Goodness said:

How many? Got a list of lefties who have endorsed your 15-point platform?

I've already given you numerous examples. I just gave you one more.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 5, 2007 10:06 AM

Creamy Goodness said:

Dan's stream-of-consciousness anti-war talking-point compendiums may contain many objectionable items, but this isn't one of them. The "surge" is not sustainable. It will be followed by an "ebb". I thought this was common knowledge.

To put 160,000 soldiers on the ground we've had to extend tours from 12 to 15 months. We're going to have trouble keeping more than 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008.

You missed the point. The article of faith involved is not that the surge is unsustainable -- it's the notion that the only way to increase the number of troops we can field is via the military draft. As I said earlier, we fielded 550,000 without a draft in 1991.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 5, 2007 10:11 AM

EmbersFire said:

The only way the US could win in Iraq now would be to expand the army, send in 500,000 troops and keep them there for at least a decade..... It would almost certainly required a draft...

There it is again.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 5, 2007 10:16 AM

"e" said:

Outside the Phillipine-American war, where we brutally suppressed a group of people who thought we were going to liberate them from the Spanish, I can't think of another successful counter-insurgency America has fought.

The Viet Cong was a guerrilla insurgency in
South Vietnam that was quite active in harassing US forces and terrorizing the local population. It was defeated and destroyed when it foolishly decided to take on American forces in the TET Offensive. After TET, the Viet Cong was not a significant factor in the war.

So that is both an example of the US defeating an insurgency as well as being another example of how fighting insurgents did not "train" them to be better insurgents.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 5, 2007 10:25 AM

What happened with Japan after we bombed the hell out of them? What happended to decades of militant, fanatical Japanese Imperialism? What happened to the blind allegience to an Emperor held to be divine? And what arose in Japan in the aftermath?

Are you under the assumption that there was a popular revolution in Japan due to allied bombing?

As a matter of fact, even after two nuclear attacks, it still took the Emporer making a direct order (highly unusual and untraditional) to get the government to start making arrangements for an unconditional surrender, and there was still a coup attempt after that that tried to prevent it.

Not really a good example to use, IMO.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 5, 2007 12:14 PM

dpu said:

Are you under the assumption that there was a popular revolution in Japan due to allied bombing?

No, there wasn't a popular uprising. There was unconditional surrender.

And yes, the emperor addressed the nation. And in that address, he specifically mentioned the bombing: "The enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage"

It's a perfect example to prove that bombing another country does not always result in it fighting harder.

Another example is the so-called Christmas bombing campaign against North Vietnam in December of 1972 -- a bombing campaign in which the US Air Force was permitted to do what it had wanted to do for years. In 11 days of unrestricted bombing of the North, the US Air Force destroyed all of the North's air defenses -- Hanoi was utterly defenseless and we could easily have bombed North Vietnam back to the stone age. Far from convincing them to fight on, it convinced them to stop the fighting before they were completely destroyed. Instead of fighting on, they signed a peace treaty.

Sure, they planned all along to resume the fighting against the South after we left. But the point is, the bombing did not convince them or encourage them to keep fighting us -- it convinced them to give up against us.

That same bombing campaign could have been done years before, and much more easily since the North's air defenses were not built up at that time. Many, many American lives could have been saved.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 5, 2007 12:49 PM

It's a perfect example to prove that bombing another country does not always result in it fighting harder.

So then you're advocating incinerating a couple of million Iranians?

If that question seems to miss the point, remember that what is being discussed is the likelihood of a popular uprising in Iran based on a highly selective bombing campaign. We're not discussing whether burning two million Iranians alive would cause the country to unconditionally surrender. I'm pretty sure it would.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 5, 2007 01:04 PM
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