Thursday, April 8, 2004
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Open Iraq thread
No time for substantive blogging -- but comment on the mounting insurgency from radical Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq here. In particular, will international cooperation over Iraq be eroded as a result?posted by Dan on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM
The whole Iraq crisis has been a losing battle ever since 1991. If you fight and invade you risk alienating an entire nation against you. If you do not, you are seen as weak and invite future aggression. This was true when Saddam was in power, and now we see it played again with several "mini Saddams" (Sadr and his ilk). Unfortunately, this seems to be something deeply rooted culturally.
Unfortnately, it is a microcosm of the War on Terrorism in general. Fighting it may fan the fuel of hate, not fighting it suggests weakness and invites more attacks.
Seems like all options are bad now.posted by: Narmer on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
"Unfortnately, it is a microcosm of the War on Terrorism in general."
I reject the premise that Iraq is part of any war on terror. We should have really put resources into getting Al Qaeda (and bin Laden) in Afghanistan, and making Afghanistan work -- that really is part of the war on terror.
But we're in Iraq now and have to fix things -- I only hope that the civilians in DC (read Rumsfeld, especially) get their noses out of it and let the military run things in the way they now have to. That includes more troops, as Shisecki said back before the war, which resulted in Rumsfeld humiliating him publicly and pushing him out the door.
Of course, such treatment made it really uninviting for Generals to say they needed more troops. But they really do need them now.
Kposted by: keef on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
What "international cooperation"? The invasion of Iraq was not neccessary. However, to be carried out successfully would have absolutely required widespread international solidarity, European and Islamic-Arabic. The fig-leaf that we substituted for a true consensus was basically a bluff. The administration could still attempt to really explain themeselves and bring the other half of the country on board. (I mean what are we sacrificing our kids for? I still don't know!) Otherwise, this turns out to be just another naked aggression for profoundly particular interests...doomed to failure and moral exhaustion.posted by: comenius on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
The sky is always falling for some people.
It's always the same people.
And they're always wrong.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
I am glad this thread was started. I have been reading a few things about how the Iraq economy is being structured:
Is all of this really true? It seems that we are putting their country up for the highest bidder. No wonder they are pissed.posted by: Kat on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
I basically concur with Keef's position here. I wasn't too sanguine about our entry into the Iraq war back in March of 2003; I opposed it both b/c I saw it as a diversion of resources from the al-Qaeda fight (our scarce supply of Arabic interpreters and qualified intelligence agents among them) and a big negative on the cost-benefit ledger, in that even with a successful transition to democracy in Iraq, so many Arabs would perceive a foreign intrusion and humiliation that moderate voices in the region would have far more difficulty airing themselves. But we're in now, and it would be catastrophic to sink into despair and decamp precipitously from Iraq, considering the state of affairs prevailing there now-- it's a bloody civil war itching to break out, which (considering the ethnic mix in the conflict-prone oil-rich regions like Kirkuk) would likely draw Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and who-knows-whom-else into a disastrous brawl.
In truth, despite the downward spiral of the past week, there have been some tangible accomplishments over the past couple months, particularly in infrastructure repair (electricity and water supply back up to semi-civilized levels) and the partial restoration (and protection) of the oil pipelines. I'm not so pessimistic as to claim as a foregone conclusion that Iraq will degenerate into a 1914 Sarajevo-like powder keg. But I wouldn't bet a horse on the farm on anything too rosy; the ethnic fractiousness and pent-up resentments are just too smoldering.
IMHO we need more troops in there right now; for better or worse, the US for the time being is the only effective police authority, and an inability to stem the militias would give rise to the dreaded civil war once the militias are set free to tear into each other. As far as the June 30 date-- best to keep expectations modest and just try to introduce a "half-a-loaf" compromise government with substantial autonomy for the Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish regions. A chronic flaw in the whole Iraq conflict has been the desire to do far too much too soon (dismissal of the entire Iraqi army for "de-Baathification," gutting of the civil services for similar reasons, too hasty a training period for the police forces in an attempt to provide large numbers of them). June 30 won't be a shining success story under any circumstances, but it doesn't have to be a disaster; if we just provide some structure to provide a pause, to get the militias to go home for a while and at least give the new system a try, that'll at least furnish a bit of breathing room. And if it's clear that the country will be in no state to hold elections that day, just call a spade a spade and move the date.
The Spanish Armada: Myths and Factsposted by: Wes Ulm on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
"I have been reading a few things about how the Iraq economy is being structured... Is all of this really true? It seems that we are putting their country up for the highest bidder." -- Kat
posted by: Carl on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Of course, selling stuff to the highest bidder is kind of the capitalist free market way. See also Coase, Theorem of.posted by: R C Dean on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
First, let's dispell one nonsense comment noted above;
As I look at the lay of the land, there, I'm not seeing this 'resistance' to have any great support among the Iraqi people. Indeed, the indications are now that a large percentage of the supporters of Sadr, are in fact from outside Iraq. Polling sugegsts Sadr's support running at about 1%. Of course we know that's all it takes to screw things up. But that was always our task,; allowing the majoity to thrive over the criminal minority.
Specificly, if anything, our people are being too gentle. Sadr knows we won't make too big a mess if the target involves a Mosque, so he goes there. I get the idea our treading lightly around those places of worship is appreciated by most Iraqis, (It looks better if in the proces of freeing the country, we don't destroy the holiest of their shrines) and this will help in the long term... but I wonder if we're not costing ourselves needlessly. Time will tell on that point. Encouraging, though to hear even Cistani (SP?) speaking in more glowing terms than you'd expect, or our actions there...
It should not be understated though, that Sadr is a criminal who is wanted for a brutal murder and is being aprihended, not a 'resistance fighter' regardless how he wants to label himself as such, or how much he fancies himself a military leader.
What this resistance is fighting against is the rule of law, the establsihment of which is crucial to any goverment, particualrly new governments. If rule of law is to be set in place by the 30th of June, or by ANY date for that matter, Sadr needs to be taken out.
The balance act... the one we're already attempting, is not to tee off too many Iraqis in the doing. We seem to be doing well in not alarming the majority of Iraqis, but the answer we don't have yet is, will that leave us enough effective force to get Sadr?posted by: Bithead on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
I think Bush -- er, Bush's people-- is working behind the scenes to move the date. That may be easier to pull off while he's away from the Washington fishbowl. But, really, he needs some Iraqi support for this step. Sistani may actually have to take a friggin stand for once, and the Bushies may need to work a deal with the guy.
It would not surprise me if Colin Powell pulls out UN support for a transfer of date.
One thing I don't see is the US just pulling out. Withdrawing and admitting failure is (i) abandoning the terror war (ii) killing 650 US men for NOTHING (iii) leaving Iraq to the tender mercies of an unstable little religion boy with a gang that more resembles the Crips than a real army. The US will probably command respect if they defeat this uprising, and be in a better position to deal.
Of course, I do think a viable negotiating position is to threaten to give the Kurds Kurdistan, and move our troops upthere. This seems to be Sistani's worst nightmare, and the US needs to give the guy a nightmare or two,to bring him on board.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Both al-Jazeera and DEBKAfile are reporting negotiations with Sadr.posted by: Brian Ulrich on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Sadr is entirely a creature of Iran's mullahs. Follow the money.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
I think seeing Sadr as an Iranian puppet is too simplistic. He's had ties to Iran since last year, when he basically went and found an Iranian ayatollah to give him religious credibility. However, he and that ayatollah have subsequently feuded over who is really in charge of his followers. I lost track of that story a long time ago, but we shouldn't rule out the idea that Sadr is seeking to increase his own profile at the expense of his Iranian links.posted by: Brian Ulrich on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
“leaving Iraq to the tender mercies of an unstable little religion boy with a gang that more resembles the Crips than a real army. The US will probably command respect if they defeat this uprising, and be in a better position to deal.”
Exactly. The main thing is that most Iraqis are sitting on the sidelines. They do not back these religious extremists. This so called insurrection is relatively modest---and not growing. We must never forget that the coalition troops were not allowed by the Turkish government to invade from the north. This allowed the hard core American haters to sneak back into civilian sector. Sistani needs us as much as we need him. I expect increasing cooperation from this game playing cleric. Previously, he thought that he held all of the cards. The young nut balls probably scare him far more than they scare us. As far as we can tell, Sistani definitely did not authorize the violence. This means that the insurrectionists are essentially giving Sistani the middle finger. Lastly, please note that the Dow Jones is up this morning. The consensus opinion of the investor class is that this problem is a minor one.posted by: David Thomson on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
I tend to agree at a gut level. et all we can operate from in this case is what we know.. and that is he's a criminal with an arrest warrant issued against him, and he's resisting arest through use of force, with apparent indiffernence to the lives of the people in the area inclduing those serving said warrant.
posted by: Bithead on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
The comments of the defeatists above are hilarious. We're winning the war in a big way, but all they see is loss, loss, and more loss.
Total coalition combat deaths in the first year of INVASION and occupation are about the same as Chicago's annual murder count. Total civilian loss of life for that same year is less than the total number deaths from the failure of the French welfare state during one month's heatwave last year. Ergo, all of Iraq is safer than the city of Chicago, and less deadly than France.
Should we have neutered the Sunni Ba'athists who had held onto their minority powerbase through political terrorism (cf, industrial plastic shredders)? Wouldn't the defeatists have complained that we were unnecessarily antagonizing a people that we should have co-opted? We allowed those people to live, to return home, and to figure out a way to adapt to the new reality... we were far too gentle with some of them it seems. Now that those knobs have openly sided with the jihadists and AQ factionaries, we have been given the opportunity to kill only the ones that refuse to adapt. That's not a problem in my book, it is least death for maximum reward.
Sadr is an opportunist who has sided with Hezbollah and Iran for the purpose of establishing a theocratic islamofascist state, and is also an enemy of democratic reform. If anything, I'd say that we have purposely provoked him into attacking us so that we have political cover to wipe out his movement. It is far better that he attacked us, and it is far better that we crush his movement before the transitional period where he could have done the most damage through acts of political terrorism that would have destablized the new government.
This time next week, everybody will wonder what the fuss was all about.
Got evidnce for your statement that, at the momemnt, we're winning in a big way?
My guess is that we are at a turning point here, and I think we have a good chance of turning it into a big win. But it's surely not there yet.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Tommy G had a post last week about rotation in our 10 division army. I'm curious whether the Statragy Page posters on this board think we need more boots on the ground or do we have enough to get the job done in a timely fashon?posted by: TexasToast on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
As to the remarks regarding any kind of disconnect or distraction from the WoT, consider the following:
Our fight against AQ in Fallujah is not disconnected from our fight against AQ in Afghanistan -- they are two fronts in the same war.
Our fight against radical islamofascists in the south of Iraq is not disconnected from our strategic interest of thinning the herds of other radical fundies, and in fact is a pre-emptive strike of sorts against the Iranian theocracy.
The use of Arabic translators does not in any way affect our supply of Urdu and other translators.
If OBL and other radicals saw the US as a 'weak horse', then having Saddam poke his finger in our eye contributed to that perception. Letting him violate the terms of the cease-fire agreement was no longer an option. He violated it on several fronts, including WMD development (explicitly prohibited), lying in his declarations (even Hans Blix said that much), long-range missiles, oppression of his people, violation of sanctions, and more, all of which has been proven. The only thing not yet found are stocks of pre-made weaponized kit, but it is a matter of factual history that he did have them, and so the only real question there is "what happened to them?"
Leaving the region to itself simply means that the craziest people win -- being the craziest, they kill the most people and end up on top (cf, Saddam's rise to power through the security service, and a final consolidation through mass assassination). Those people end up being the ones who invade their neighbors, pursue WMD programs, and otherwise contribute to long-term instability.
Democracy is in our strategic interest, since it allows the citizenry to choose leaders according to policy preference, not at the end of a gun. Democracy also allows the down-trodden to work towards changing their own reality -- the Arab people as a whole are locked into a culture that provide no social mobility, economic mobility, cultural mobility, or spiritual mobility -- which means at the least that they can direct energy inwards instead of outwards.
Iraq has the most modernized society of all the Arabic nations. They have the best chance of developing and sustaining a democracy. Removing a genocidal tyrant who invaded and threatened every one of his neighbors, who used WMDs against his neighbors and his own people, who violated the terms of international law, and who actively supported terrorist groups and acts (including Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal and the ANO, Abu Sayyaf, the Abu Etceteras in Palestine, and who likely provided support for AQ factionaries such as Ansar al-Islam and Zarqawi),... that is all bonus.
Removing Saddam did not distract form the WoT ongoing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, nor the ongoing activities in the Philippines and the AP region, nor the ongoing activities throughout Africa. In fact, it is a necessary front in the short-term and critical to the long-term strategy.
Apalled, was there a specific point you are challenging? I laid out the broad case, and if you need some 'evidence', then please name the point you are questioning.
Iran's mullahs are trying to slow down their impending overthrow by American armed forces. I have money on our invasion starting by November 2005.
Sadr would be nothing without Iranian money, as in piles and piles of it. His Iranian controllers will kill him when he is in danger of capture - to keep him from talking - and blame it on us.
It is serious error to consider events in Iraq out of context of the overall war on terror. Iran is next. Iran has been next since Saddam's statues went down. It's just a question of when. The mullahs would rather that be later than sooner. This is what the timing of Sadr's uprising is all about.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
All I see in your post is that is concrete is that there aren't a whole lot of casualties on our side. That's not victory. That's not even winning. I don't think France's casualties in the Fall of '39 were all that large, but they sure as heck weren't winning that war.
On the ground, right now, there's chaos, and an enemy militia that, given its way, would impose a Iran-style theocracy, with a baby fascist at its head. I'm pretty confident that the militia won't be around two weeks from now.
Guess I'm looking for proof that this Sadr thing in the process of being defeated.
I find myself mildly amused, in some ways by those seeking to grasp defeat from the jwas of victory, and really ticked off in others.
Hank Ketchum, years ago drew a cartoon called "Dennis The Menace". One Saturday, he released a cartoon with Dennis getting ready for his bath, with his Mom helping him.
"See?" says Dennis, pointing at his chest... "Right there.... isn't that a hair?"
I wonder, however if such people have considered the larger, and possibly deadly implications of their constant wailing about minutiae.
posted by: Bithead on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
“Got evidnce for your statement that, at the momemnt, we're winning in a big way?”
Yup, I most certainly do. What are the headlines in the major media outlets? They, the implacable foes of President Bush, would be screaming holy hell if the campaign was going poorly. The stock market is also not taking a bath. Thus, the consensus opinion seems to indicate that the last few days are not going to destroy the rebuilding of Iraq. This is merely a small bump in the road.posted by: David Thomson on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
The term is "OBE" - Overtaken By Events.
TV news has for so long engaged in relentless overhyping of whatever story might attract eyeballs at the moment, for the sake of short-term ratings, that they have effectively turned viewers off through sheer fatigue. Look at the TV market share for news. Partisanship is only part of the reason for that.
The lefties have been so consistently wrong about events in the war on terror that their non-stop Sky Is Falling cries will get them tuned out. They haven't been right once yet.
You'll know this is happening when Leno and Letterman start making jokes about it.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
It's all scaremongering. There is no massive insurrection in Iraq. It is a struggle between Shiite leaders for supremacy over all Shiites. Al Sadr (helped by Iranian supreme leader Khamenei) is fighting Al Sistani over Najaf's holy shrines and over supremacy in the Shiite faith. Not more, not less. America should help Al Sistani against his rival Al Sadr, which Bush is doing. I wrote an in depth article about it on my blog. If you wanna know the background read it. If you wanna cry Wolf, bring our troops home, go ahead. Bush will finish the job of democratizing Iraq.posted by: Ricky Vandal on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
All I see in your post is that is concrete is that there aren't a whole lot of casualties on our side. That's not victory.
It's certainly not defeat. Are you claiming that it is stalemate, and thus not victory?
On the ground, right now, there's chaos, and an enemy militia that, given its way, would impose a Iran-style theocracy, with a baby fascist at its head.
Guess I'm looking for proof that this Sadr thing in the process of being defeated.
Is there any question about who will win? He will either be arrested or dead by this time next week. The worst possible outcome would be for the calls for peace to be heeded, since that would allow him to regroup and try again later.
What about the developing alliance between radican Sunnis and Shi'ites?
Also, RV, what do you make of Sistani's ruling condemning the coalition as well as as-Sadr? You're right Sadr has gone after Sistani in the past, but do you really think al-Khoe'i was a rival to Sistani? That seems bizarre. I'm not saying the religious rivalry is playing no part in all this, but your analysis seems to require fine-tuning. Iranian foreign policy in places like Lebanon has a lot of other stuff involved with it, like Iran's perceived national interest.posted by: Brian Ulrich on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Very nicely said, Mr. Vandal.
Texas, reference our '10 Division Army'. The point was to dispell 'Oldman's' lunacy regarding our shepherding a Secret Army. Anyone who care to can go back and read his 'conspiracy' and my response at the bottom of the "VP and NSC" Thread, downspin from this one.
And thanks for bringing it up, as it's just as effective against the scare-mongers at the top of this thread. To wit:
There isn't enough thread in our textile mills to be sewn into the necessary uniforms for an Army that would subjugate 26 Million people against their will.
So we can stop with the leftist nonsense about their caring that we do not have enough troops in theater.
Tom? Dave?posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Seems to me that we are getting two versions of the facts. Phil Carter seems to think the Iraqi insurrection is far broader than you seem to think it is. I haven’t figured out whether to believe John Burns and Phil Carter or Austin Bay and the “its only 2000” crowd.
I don’t see that we have any choice but to suppress the insurrection, no matter how large it is. I don’t have the warm fuzzies that we (as in, civilians) are getting the straight dope on how large a problem this really is. It seems that everything has been hyped/warped/polyannaed to death. Go back and read Wolfowitz's pre-Iraq statements. It’s kind of depressing.
I support our efforts to finish the job in Iraq now that we have started it, but I just wish the administration would tell us what the job really is. Your assertions that the next step is an invasion of Iran does not give me any comfort. Iran is a much larger and it would seem a more difficult place to "pacify" with no real intermational support. If Iran is the real target, is the “democratization” of Iraq argument just PR?
'Democraticization' is the platform from which we will topple Iran. We can't kill their mullahs, but we can help their people to overthrow the mullahs, and the social pressure of a thriving democracy next door to their collapsing theocracy would be a big part of that effort.
All the Iranian citizenry really need right now is for the Iranian police and army to not stand in their way.
"If Iran is the real target, is the “democratization” of Iraq argument just PR?"
Ouch. Good question. And you know what, I'm not sure I have an answer yet, either.
lol. Think through this.
Killing the ayatollahs in Iran is not an option. How do you overthrow a government that you cannot kill? You do it by changing the rules of that government...
The Iranian people are already fed up with the theocratic rule. All that's needed is for a popular uprising that forces a change in the government, such that the theocrats are moved from their head-of-state position into an advisory role. Once the legislative and executive branches decide that they need to reform, there is the possibility for a bloodless coup.
Not promising that's how it will happen, but it's clearly the strategy -- use democracy in Iraq as a platform for leverage against the theocracy in Iran.
Numbers games are silly in this context. Sadr is just a useful tool for the mullahs. They'll kill him when he is no longer useful. This is not a local insurrection - it was made in Iran.
I'm not concerned. If you are, go somewhere without news or computer access for a week, decompress, and find out what the next big thing is in falling skies when you get back. I recommend this place (picture is exactly where I will be a week from tomorrow - there's a 50" waterfall on the ocean side). I grew up in the area before it became a park. http://www.nps.gov/pore/
If you think we can win the war on terror without Iran, I can sell you some Enron bonds dirt cheap.
Conquering Iran won't be a problem save for in-country logistics - it is bigger and more mountainous than Iraq. Iran's short-term pacification will make Iraq look like a walk in the park, and easily require 200,000+ occupation troops. Long-term pacification of Iran will be much, much, easier than in Iraq as Iran does have a functioning civil society and we won't have to disband its army - the mullahs don't like 'em either.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Oops, Alamere Falls is 50 feet (') high, not 50 inches (") high. http://www.faustian.net/hike/images/alamere/3.html
Iran is not the real objective and neither was Iraq. Security at home is the real objective. Means are not ends. There are other, more drastic, ways of securing our real objective, but we're trying lesser means first.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
My money's with Ursus. I see no evidence to suggest that this is other than a ragtag urban straggler force that the Marines will have little difficulty routing over the next several days. Bring it on. Destroy the fascists. The American people, like their professional soldiers, do not share the defeatism and hysterical tendencies of the bi-coastal pseudo-intellectual and media crowds.posted by: tombo on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Have fun at Point Reyes, Tom. Am trying to find a nice beach along the Gulf Coast myself.posted by: tombo on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
This is not a widespread revolt, but the indirect support / tolerance for it as a protest against American administrative shortcomings is quite large. I'm not sure in what world most of the other conservative posters are in, but the idea of invading Iran while no doubt tempting to politcons and neocons is not exactly sounding like a great idea to this realcon. Digesting Iran after we're still having indigestion in Iraq doesn't sound so great.
Most of the Iraq blogs I've read indicate that while the educated Iraqi bloggers dislike Sadr, they also grant that he has a fairly large following. In addition, the way the US administration there is playing this the process is lessening our legitimacy among them.
This is the real reason why Sistani has been playing both sides on this issue, he's using Sadr to burn us and obtain more concessions.
Of course many of the same posters here who advocate expanding regime change policy, also haven't come to grips with the failure to find substantial WMD in Iraq. I wonder if a complete collapse happened in Iraq, would they then finally admit that they were mistaken?
Or would they just keep on going refusing to acknowledge they might have been in error?
As for Holsinger, the sky does "fall" once in a long while. That's why we're here and not the dinosaurs. Actually, America suffers a military or foreign policy debacle about once a decade ever since Vietnam.
So actually, we're about due. The idea of America as invincible is quite false. We are very powerful, but time and time again incompetence or overreaching at the top has undone us. Anyone with a clear eyed view of modern history would acknowledge this.
Incompetence at the top seems poised to do so again.posted by: Oldman on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
“Of course many of the same posters here who advocate expanding regime change policy, also haven't come to grips with the failure to find substantial WMD in Iraq....Or would they just keep on going refusing to acknowledge they might have been in error?”
I could care less about WMDs. Actually, Bob Kerry said it better than me:
“Tom Maguire notes a more sensible Bob Kerrey from November of 2001:
So can you give me some scenarios that you think are sensible, that put some meat on the bones of how we’re going to take on Iraq? What do we mean by this?
---Thanks to Instapundit
We'll conquer Iran next year. Claims that we lack the means are asinine.
Iran to Build Reactor That Can Produce Plutonium
VIENNA, April 7 -- Iran will start building a nuclear reactor in June that can produce weapons-grade plutonium, diplomats said Wednesday. Although the Tehran government insists the heavy-water facility is for research, the decision heightens concern about its nuclear ambitions.
We are going to conquer and occupy 3 south Asian countries for the foreseeable future without any real international support and change their societies? That sounds like a 20-year commitment to me. Are we really going to commit to something like that?
PS Enjoy the vacation. I'll keep watch on the sky till you get back.
One thing that you and me may agree on is that military force may be the necessary and only means capable of preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and giving it to our foes, but you're insane if you don't think that the situation in Iraq is not politically and militarily degrading our ability to take on Iran.
If you haven't noticed, this is still a democracy. You still have to convince the citizenry to die. Or have you dispensed with that little nicety also in your mind?posted by: Oldman on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
The pacification of Iran will be much shorter and livelier than that of Iraq. Iraq requires a long-term commitment because it has no civil society, though IMO we'll take more casualties during @ 6-12 months of occupation duty in Iran than in 5-10 years in Iraq.
Afghanistan does not require significant American resources. We're still there only because Iran, and Pakistan's ISI, have given Al Qaeda sanctuaries in their countries.
The real resource strain will be taking down Pakistan, but only if we do that before we're nuked at home.
Concerning your first point:
"Main Entry: as·i·nine
As for your question, I thought you were a Dean supporter. You should already know the answer. [evil, evil, grin]posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Gee, I guess I'll just have to join the company of Robert Kagan, Newt Gringrich, Bill Kristol, and ...
Hint, the title is:
If Perle has turned, and you're still clinging to dreams of conquest then I submit it is you that are "marked by inexcusable failure to exercise intelligence or sound judgment".
You've also failed to answer my last point - you know the one about this still being a democracy and you having to convince the citizens of these wars you want to wage. Or is addressing that beneath your notice?posted by: Oldman on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
"but you're insane if you don't think that the situation in Iraq is not politically and militarily degrading our ability to take on Iran.
Look who's calling people "insane":
"In fact, I would argue that the journalists are missing a huge story and are being fed misinformation. According to the basic troop numbers I've seen, there is no reason for a strain in Iraq (except in certain speciality areas like MP's, linguists, etc.) in terms of raw numbers. Nor should there be a supply shortage, especially since procurement has had a year to handle these issues.
Indeed the logistical numbers any person can do on the back of the envelope indicate that the only reason why we would have a troop or supply logistics problem in Iraq, is that we were having a military buildup elsewhere.
Where that elsewhere is of course, is the real interesting question. What classified set of activities could be taking so much of the slack out of the armed forces?
Curious, don't you think?
Posted by Oldman at March 31, 2004 06:28 PM on the VP & the NSC" thread "
posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Several persons on this blog have noted that we have more troops than we are using in Iraq, many more - Kelli, Holsinger, and myself among them. It's simply a question of numbers.
However, numbers alone do not win a war or start one. If things are going badly in Iraq, how likely are Americans to support another war?
My critique of the media for adhering to the stupid line of "we don't have enough troops" and my critique of Holsinger that somehow Iraq is boosting instead of detracting from our ability to take on Iraq are not in opposition at all.
Even if we have more troops, it's clear that if things escalate in Iraq that will suck up more of them. And the increased combat operations will suck up more supplies. And the increased losses will drain morale, back home and in our troops.
If you can't understand that these factors might play as an important a role as absolute numbers, then you are the one that needs help TommyG.posted by: Oldman on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
You are conflating apples with oranges. The security of our rear in Iraq is not the same as the force levels required to invade Iran. We have the forces to simultaneously hold down Iraq by force, as if that will ever be necessary, and invade Iran, particularly if we are willing to be nasty.
Risks are sometimes necessary, notably where nutball regimes and nukes are concerned. If the only question is where the nukes go off, better there than here.
You assume that insecurity in Iraq requires deployment of such additional large forces as to impede our ability to invade Iran. That just is not the case. If Iraq is insecure, more forces won't improve the situation. The key is whether the Iraqis can handle their own problems.
But Iranian intervention is not something the Iraqis can presently handle, which is what is going on with Sadr. Then the security problem originates elsewhere and the solution lies elsewhere.
As for your question, consider that Iranian intervention is answering it - the term is causus belli. Or, if you prefer, Iranian intervention in Iraq is creating the pretext President Bush will use next year to justify the invasion of Iran.
But mostly you seem ignorant of history. The invasion or Iraq was a cakewalk as campaigns go. The occupation of Iraq is a cakewalk as occupations go. We're just being nice. We don't have to be nice. Given the culture, we shouldn't be.
And we'll get over that.
"War is the ultimate moral solvent" - George F. Will.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
"If Iran is the real target, is the “democratization” of Iraq argument just PR?"
In my book, neither Iraq nor Iran is the "real target" - the real target is the whole Middle East. The only way to definitively end terrorism is to raise the whole Middle East out of the muck of totalitarianism, extremism and poverty in which it currently wallows. The dysfunction of these societies is not something we can ignore, because we now live in a world where the anger of a small group of people raised half a world away can explode in downtown Manhattan. As tall an order as it is, we NEED to fix the Middle East, not for their sakes, but for ours.
Now clearly, we can't just invade the whole Middle East and fix it by force. No matter how strong our military, we definitely don't have the capacity for that. So what to do? Iraq was a strategic gamble to start that process of democratization. Having our troops so near the border puts a little bit of pressure on the regimes in Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia and maybe encourages the democrats there AND if we do Iraq right (still far from certain) it provides a model for Arab democracies. Why start with Iraq? Well, because we had a history with them, and we could. I don't know if the eventual use of military force is the proper response in Iran or anywhere else - time will tell - but we've started a process here that is absolutely essential to winning the war on terror, not in the short-term, or even the medium-term, but in the long-term.posted by: Nicole Griffin on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
"As for Holsinger, the sky does "fall" once in a long while.... Actually, America suffers a military or foreign policy debacle about once a decade ever since Vietnam.
So actually, we're about due. The idea of America as invincible is quite false. We are very powerful, but time and time again incompetence or overreaching at the top has undone us. Anyone with a clear eyed view of modern history would acknowledge this."
It does no one any good to predict which encounters will be failures. Actually, let me rephrase that - it does no one any good after the battle has already started, certainly before the battle, one should try to predict the likelihood of success. But once the battle has begun it behooves the whole country, unless you WANT to see more of our soldiers killed or Iraq to become the new Al-Qaeda headquarters (and I'm not suggesting that's the case), to throw their energies into figuring out the best way to win and if they are going to criticize, say that the president is doing it wrong, rather than continuing to debate whether we should be there at all. We're there. We should not be considering failure an option, and no one should be suggesting at this point that we are doomed to failure. You're right, we're not infalliable as a nation: we can be defeated in war. But the chances of that decrease substantially if the national will is behind the war, and we face the inevitable obstacles with in attitude of "how do we best overcome this?" rather than "the sky is falling! the sky is falling! let's all run! see, I told you we shouldn't have done this if the first place!" which is more or less what I hear from the left.
"The polling data said that 1% of the populace considers him as a leader of any kind, and his militia is roughly 2000 people out of 25 million."
Sadr presently controls Najaf, Kufa, and Kut. Najaf alone has a population of 500,000. In addtion, Sadrite forces are fighting in several other cities. If his militia is a mere 2,000 men and has no popular support, then those 2,000
"We have the forces to simultaneously hold down Iraq by force, as if that will ever be necessary, and invade Iran, particularly if we are willing to be nasty."
Iran has a population of 60 million and is the size of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico combined. Its military, while inferior to U.S. forces, is not insignificant. It has an airforce, tanks, and a medium range rockets and missiles. It would not be easy to take, and if we were to maintain our occupation in Iraq while so doing, would require a draft.
We could nuke it, but then we'd be committing a genocide.
"But Iranian intervention is not something the Iraqis can presently handle, which is what is going on with Sadr. Then the security problem originates elsewhere and the solution lies elsewhere."
Sadr and his father reject the Iranin school of jurispudince, and have made it an axiom that the Shi'ite leadership in Iraq should be Iraqi-born, and denigrate Sistani for his Iranian roots. Both stayed in Iraq and openly opposed Saddam from there, and have contemp for foriegn based groups like the SCIRI and the Dawa. The SCIRI and the Dawa were both based in, trained by, and funded by Iran for upwards of twenty years. Leaders of the SCIRI and the Dawa sit on the Governing Council. Why would Iran move through
1) I am curious. What moral authority gives Bush supporters here the right to go to the other side of the world and use military force -- with the death of over 10,000 Iraqi civilians so far-- in order to set up a puppet government? Especially when those supporters are obviously deeply ignorant of Iraq?
But overthrowing Hussein was not enough -- we now have you little armchair dictators willing to spend the lives of our soldiers to carry out your ignorant schemes.
5) I highly doubt the Iranian people will be stupid enough to support a CIA coup. They remember the CIA overthrow of Mossadagh--the legally elected prime minister-- in the 1950s. They also remember that the US puppet shah let Houston steal the oil wealth of Iran in exchange for kickbacks -- and that the Shah's Savak tortured and murdered anyone who resisted.
6) They -- and the other people of the Middle East -- know that their deep poverty has occurred because US government has always created and propped up oil dictators in the Middle East -- in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE and now in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. They know that damm few of the Kuwait people have liberty or share in Kuwait's oil wealth 12 years since Dick Cheney and Bush1 "liberated" them.
7) One of the more hilarious questions the right wind pundits asked after Sept 11 was "Why do they hate us?" The answer's obvious: Because you are hypocritical bullies --sycophants who support the aggressive imperialism of US plutocrats. Al Qaeda hates you. I hate you. If the American people knew the truth, they would hate you. You are the common enemy of mankind.
8) You spill blood for the sake of money. I hate you because some of that blood is American. I hate you because Bush is paying for his global imperialism by stealing $Trillions from the Social Security accounts of the common Americans while giving US plutocrats $Trillion dollar tax cuts.posted by: Don Williams on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
What moral authority gives Bush supporters here the right to go to the other side of the world and use military force
with the death of over 10,000 Iraqi civilians so far
in order to set up a puppet government?
The rest of your arguments are equally malformed, ignorant, and prejudicial.
A correction to my post above. When I said
Re number of Iraqi civilians killed by Bush's invasion, one estimate is over 10,000. See
The Associated Press counted roughly 3240 civilian deaths in one month alone -- and noted that this was only a partial count -- see
Bush, Rumsfeld, and his subordinates are careful to duck the question -- as is the corporate owned US news media.
Human Rights Watch has argued that at least several hundred of the deaths could have been avoided by not using cluster bombs in urban areas -- see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3311705.stm
I do not blame the US soldiers on the battlefield for using all means possible to protect themselves. Some of the above deaths resulted from Hussein's tactic of using human shield and paramilitaries in civilian clothing. But I do blame Bush and his wealthy patrons. The larger point is war always kills civilians -- which is why someone who starts a war for any reason other than self defense is a murderer and a criminal.
Where you been hiding, Williams? Sure missed your brilliant commentary lately.
500 Miles? Try 500 FEET. And probably half that for Holsinger. But what does that prove? Except that you don't have any idea what you're talking about.posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
My father was air force during Vietnam, my youngest brother is a marine right now, and several other family members have been voluntary enlistees.
What branches have you and your immediate family served in?
Good post – I can agree with almost all of it. We have a strong national interest in reforming dysfunctional Islamic societies in a world where suitcase nucks are feasible. After 9/11, this strategy becomes politically possible because the sky actually did fall on us that morning.
As you say, however, it is a very tall order. The military conquest of Islamic countries from Pakistan to Syria (complete with an invasion of Iran before the end of 2005) strikes me as the wrong way to go about it. With no real international support, we need to devote our resources and attention to making Iraq a stable and sustainable society before we take on new obligations. This could change if Iran gets close to developing its own nucks, but until that time, an attack of Iran, while militarily feasible, seems like a large overreach. Tom seems to think Iranian reconstruction would be easy, but I’m not quite as confident as he seems to be. If you recall, Iraqi reconstruction was supposed to be a “cakewalk” as reconstructions go (to borrow Tom’s phrasing) but it seems we underestimated the cost, the force and the planning necessary to accomplish the objective. Its true that all plans are radically adjusted after contact with the enemy, but it seems that we now know just how difficult “pacification” can be and we ought not ignore what I hope we are learning.
I disagreed with the decision to attack Iraq as a strategy (its focus on states seems misplaced) and particularly disagreed with the “selling” of that strategy, but I agree with you that that argument is now moot. I was not then and am not now advocating a “let’s all run” response. Instead, lets learn from our experience in Iraq and look before we leap into a commitment to “manage” BY OURSELVES Islamic lands from Islamabad to Damascus for the next 20 years.
What you mean "we," White Man?
I love this "we underestimated the difficulty of invading, occupying, and establishing a new social order in Iraq" bit I'm hearing.
"We" didn't underestimate anything.
There were a LOT of people trying desperately to point out the difficulties, the sheer FOLLY, of Le Dauphin's Excellent Iraqi Adventure. A lot of them were Mid-East experts, Islamic culture scholars, and even our very own military professionals.
If I remember correctly, many of the same people now saying "Gee, we had no idea how hard this wouldbe" are the ones who said then "You're just a bunch a lefty peacenik pantywaists; shut the hell up and let us show you how Real Men remake the world."
"We" indeed.posted by: Ciel on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
sorry, no sale.
Yeah. They were.
Oh, wait. You still buy that "Saddam was a clear and present danger" stuff?
Aww. That's so sweet. Even the Bushies don't peddle that one anymore.posted by: Ciel on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Ciel - Name one military professional that was pointing out the 'FOLLY' of a combined arms advance against Saddam's military.
Oops, Sorry - Professional(s). Start naming the members of this 'body', in order that you may have an ounce of credibility.posted by: Art Wellesley on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
"We" are all US citizens. In a representitive democracy, "we" made the decision through our representatives to go to war in Iraq. Collectively, despite the opposition of people like Robert Byrd, and despite the warnings of officers like Gen. Shenseki about the difficulties and the need for a larger force, "we" invaded.
Now that we are there, we have an obligation to make the best of it.posted by: TexasToast on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
I'll stand by you on that, Texasposted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Ralph Peters and I both said today that Iran is at war with us right now whether or not we want to be at war with Iran.
Peters' column in today's New York Post is here:
"IRAN and Syria are at war with the United States. In Iraq. Now.
Washington refuses to admit it. The Bush administration claims that the struggle in Iraq is about the future of the entire Middle East, but won't concede publicly that other countries in the region are extensively involved. And the outcome they seek is exactly the opposite of what we hope to achieve.
The bloody combat throughout Iraq this past week didn't only involve Iraqi Ba'athist insurgents and al Qaeda. The Iranians vigorously prepared and supported killer-cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's "Mahdi" militia. Iranians are active agents in the widespread terrorism in southern Iraq. And, according to intelligence shared exclusively with The Post, approximately 30 al Qaeda executives have been allowed to operate from Teheran, feeding agents into Iraq with the collusion of the Iranian government..."
Mine is here:
Iran's mullahs have attacked us in Iraq. We are at war with Iran whether we want to be or not. Iranian forces are shooting at our troops. Iranian agents are kidnapping our civilians. We are killing Iranian forces as they cross the border between Iran and Iraq.
Questions about us invading Iran at this point are as silly as questions about whether we really want to "attack" the Japanese after Pearl Harbor.
You don't win a war with defense only. The only way to stop Iran's nutball regime from continually attacking us in Iraq is to invade Iran.
Re North Korea: I expect it to collapse next winter. See my "Reunification of Korea by the ROK" at the Prediction Market on Strategy Page. Also check out my "American Invasion of Iran Officially Commences" and "Next Use of Nuclear Weapons In Anger".
The first two are related. I expected us to invade Iran after North Korea collapsed. Now I think we'll go in regardless of what happens in North Korea.
Here's the URL:
http://www.strategypage.com/prediction_market/default.asp?sort=ed"posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Am, Art...I think Texas Toast very nicely and serendipitously answered your demand that I, ahem, establish my credibility.
As Tom Holinger's post: Are you out of your freskin' mind, or what? US soldiers are up to their asses in alligators in Iraq,and you want them to go invade *Iran*? Man, you are one brave mofo...withother peoples' lives and bodies, that is.posted by: Ciel on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
I'm sure you would have thought us foolish in entering World War Two after Pearl Harbor. Your definition of war seems to be only us fighting them, but it's not a war if they fight us.
And you'llbe shagging your butt down to the recruiter office when, exactly, Tom?posted by: Ciel on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Tom Holsinger's comments remind me of Bob Sheffer in this Onion spoof:
Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?
Tom, if american soldiers weren't dying it would be almost funny. It's like you live in some alternative reality where things in Iraq are going well.posted by: GT on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Your quote is actually from the finale of the 1986 cartoon movie, An American Tail, when the rat nose and ears disguise on the cat villain fall off as he addresses the by then suspicious and alarmed mice.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Which quote, the lying eyes?
No, that's from Groucho Marx.posted by: GT on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
What, in *the* hell, are you talking about, son?posted by: Doug Reynolds on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
I don't see that you've answered my very simple question. What are readers to assume from that?
posted by: Art Wellesley on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Well, actually, my recollection of the cat villain's statement is: "Who're you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?" The last might have been, "Me, or the evidence of your own eyes?"
All my kids' movies are in storage boxes in the garage so I won't try looking it up.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
What's with all the putzing around...
Ciel: Which Military Professionals?posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Oh, wait. You still buy that "Saddam was a clear and present danger" stuff? Aww. That's so sweet. Even the Bushies don't peddle that one anymore
Vitor Davis Hanson did today, and his point is directly responsive to your argument:
In fact, it didn't matter that they were united only by a loose and shared hatred of Western liberalism and emboldened by a decade of democratic appeasement. And our fathers, perhaps better men than we, didn't care too much for beating their breasts about the exact nature of collective Axis strategy or blaming each other for past lapses, but instead went to pretty terrible places like Bastogne, Anzio, and Okinawa to put an end to their enemies all.
Now, in the middle of this terrible conflict, unlike the postbellum inquiry after Pearl Harbor, we are holding acrimonious hearings about culpability for September 11. And here the story gets even more depressing than just political opportunism and election-year timing. After eight years of appeasement that saw repeated attacks on Americans, Pakistani acquisition of nuclear weapons under Dr. Khan, and Osama's 1998 declaration of war against every American, we are suddenly grilling, of all people, Condoleezza Rice — one of the few key advisers most to be credited for insisting on using our military, rather than the local DA, to defeat these fanatics.
Looking for exact professed cooperation between an Islamic fascist and the rogue regime that finds such anti-Western violence useful is like proving that Mussolini, Tojo, and Hitler all coordinated their attacks and worked in some conspiratorial fashion — when in fact Japan had no knowledge of the invasion of Russia, and Hitler had no warning of Pearl Harbor or Mussolini's invasion of Greece.
In fact, it didn't matter that they were united only by a loose and shared hatred of Western liberalism and emboldened by a decade of democratic appeasement. And our fathers, perhaps better men than we, didn't care too much for beating their breasts about the exact nature of collective Axis strategy or blaming each other for past lapses, but instead went to pretty terrible places like Bastogne, Anzio, and Okinawa to put an end to their enemies all.
Now, in the middle of this terrible conflict, unlike the postbellum inquiry after Pearl Harbor, we are holding acrimonious hearings about culpability for September 11. And here the story gets even more depressing than just political opportunism and election-year timing. After eight years of appeasement that saw repeated attacks on Americans, Pakistani acquisition of nuclear weapons under Dr. Khan, and Osama's 1998 declaration of war against every American, we are suddenly grilling, of all people, Condoleezza Rice — one of the few key advisers most to be credited for insisting on using our military, rather than the local DA, to defeat these fanatics.posted by: Bithead on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Note: Entire post for the start of the VDH quote, is in fact, VDH.. I screwed up the editing. Sory. Copyrights and all that.posted by: Bithead on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
The American Tail quote was copying (parodying?) the very very famous Groucho Marx original.posted by: GT on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Homage, GT, it's an homage.
"Ciel, Your stunned silence is verr-ry reassuring"
Although, it is also from the Kid's video bin.posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
"Name one military professional that was pointing out the 'FOLLY' of a combined arms advance against Saddam's military." -- Art Wellesleyposted by: Carl on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
When you personally volunteer to parachute into Iran, I will begin to take your policy prescriptions seriously. Until then, you should begin to deal with the fact that you've lost Bill O'Reilly who's warning that Iraq might cost Bush his reelection.
If you've lost Bill O'Reilly as far as toughing it out in Iraq much less invading Iran, I think your ideas about what will happen will remain eerie object lessons about the dangers of intellectualism whose thinking remains curiously untouched by anything remotely resembling any understanding of how real human societies work.posted by: Oldman on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Retrospectives are good for one reason: to see who has learned from their mistakes and who hasn't. Trusting people who don't learn from their mistakes to do better in the future, is bad policy on the face of it.
As for what should be done in Iraq I've posted easily some fifty different ideas on my blog. The fact is there are plenty of things that can be done. But none of them will be accomplished by those who fail to "get it" even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight much less ongoing situations.
Iraq is not Vietnam, but would you trust someone to manage things who is claiming that the present occupation is a cakewalk?
Hardly. Should it be necessary to invade Iran, it will be precisely someone who can handle Iraq and acknowledge the real difficulties there instead of dismissing them that would be the best choice. A clear eyed view of reality is important to predict problems, make choices, and fix bad situations.
It's not about blame. It's about having someone in charge who knows how to get things done without creating debacles - or deluding themselves into dismissing difficulties.
Texas Toast said: "I disagreed with the decision to attack Iraq as a strategy (its focus on states seems misplaced) and particularly disagreed with the “selling” of that strategy, but I agree with you that that argument is now moot."
I'm just curious. If you agree that democratization of the Middle East is a necessary component of fighting the WOT, how do you propose doing that without focusing on states, at least to some extent? (I agree states certainly aren't the whole picture) Also, I agree that the war wasn't "sold" properly - Bush's focus on WMDs in the run-up to the war undermined the best reason for it.posted by: Nicole on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Fair enough. The Bush administration has not done a good job of owning up to past mistakes, or on selling its case for the war in general, on that we wholeheartedly agree. But neither have the democrats done a good job proposing useful alternatives to Bush's strategies. They seem more interested in blaming Bush for the fact that we are in Iraq at all, prognosticating doom, fingerpointing over 9/11 (both parties are guilty of that), and a hundred other useless things, rather than having a substantive debate about what to do now - which is critical. Retrospectives can be useful to a point - if they are used to evaluate where you went wrong so you won't do it again in the future. They are not useful if they are simply used to assign blame to score partisan points. I supported the 9/11 commmission before it happened, in the naive hope that it would be the former kind of retrospective; instead, it has become the latter. To me that shows the dangerous mentality of both parties right now. We as a nation need to have a substantive debate about where to go next - not fingerpoint over the past. But there is so much acrimony toward Bush and his actions coming from the democrats and the administration is so defensive, that it seems impossible to do this.posted by: Nicole Griffin on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
In the article you cite, Zinni gives a near impossible laundry list of reasons, which ,if met, he clains he WOULD support the war (remarkably, they were). So you’re incorrect to assert that he was a voice calling the case “Folly”. As to his credibility – Well for a former Combatta…er, Commander-in-Chief to have this little certainty about the ability of our Army to be victorious…
By the way, I’m sure the men and women of the 2d Division would be shocked to learn that “By the way that's the sum total of transformation, we have [only] changed the lexicon”
I hope everyone links to your Zinni post, his tenor is quite telling. And if you know how to read such things, his dangerously bloated sense of self worth (not exactly a prized quality in your general officer) is on display in his mental anguish over such an obvious quibble: There can be only one Commander-in-Chief.
Someone who claims, yet can't, figure out troop rotation levels and presonnel accountability causing him to jump to irresponsible claims that a secret army is unaccounted for is now lecturing on what constitutes a successful occupation. Great.
Tom was right when he told you: "But mostly you seem ignorant of history. The invasion of Iraq was a cakewalk as campaigns go. The occupation of Iraq is a cakewalk as occupations go."
Apples to Oranges again, eh Post-Mover?
Then again, if you bothered taking the advise you dispense to others:
"Trusting people who don't learn from their mistakes to do better in the future, is bad policy on the face of it."
We wouldn't ever be hearing from you again.posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
As to the inclusion of Mr. Webb, a "... former Cabinet member under former President Ronald Reagan" - on your esteemed body of...two. Let's be serious. Otherwise you leave yourself open to retorts such as this:
So, in order to not be a liar, Ciel's post should now read..."and even 1 of our very own military professionals."
The plural modifier (s) appears not to be necessary here, considering the none-multiple-like nature of singularities, but let's remember that it identifies the several hundred thousand body of current and recent American military professionals, NOT the 1 man citied in opposition.
Which gives us:
posted by: Art Wellesley on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
You are forgetting Shenseki and you are ignoring the fact that activly serving general officers, as a rule, don't address issues like this in public. Go read Bob Novak's last column. He is a friend of the President, and he describes the generals as hopping mad.posted by: TexasToast on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
The Bush administration did not focus on Iraqi WMD. British Prime Minister Tony Blair did because of Labor Party politics. Those who opposed the invasion project Blair's statements onto Bush. They lie. They always lie.
It will be obvious what a cakewalk the occupation of Iraq is when the occupation of Iran begins. The latter will be trouble. Not real trouble, but trouble.
There will be much worse areas for us to occupy than Iran, and we'll get to those eventually.
But the lefties will never make comparisons because they have the attention spans of two year-olds. Whatever is going on at the moment means the sky is falling. Their sky is always falling.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Re Tom Holsinger's comment above, I would point to one of Bush very rare public speeches (he usually ducks the press).
In his address in Cincinnati on October 7,2002, Bush focused heavily on the threat from Hussein's WMDs. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html . Some excerpts:
By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique. As a former chief weapons inspector of the U.N. has said, "The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime, itself. Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction." "
In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions.
We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas. Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September the 11th.
And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons. Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has or makes is a direct violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet, Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons despite international sanctions, U.N. demands, and isolation from the civilized world.
Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles -- far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations -- in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. And, of course, sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.
And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein's links to international terrorist groups. Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.
We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.
Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.
Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. And he cannot be trusted. The risk is simply too great that he will use them, or provide them to a terror network.
Terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil. Our security requires that we confront both. And the United States military is capable of confronting both.
Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem. Before the Gulf War, the best intelligence indicated that Iraq was eight to ten years away from developing a nuclear weapon. After the war, international inspectors learned that the regime has been much closer -- the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993. The inspectors discovered that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a workable nuclear weapon, and was pursuing several different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.
Before being barred from Iraq in 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities, including three uranium enrichment sites. That same year, information from a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to continue.
The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed. Saddam Hussein would be in a position to blackmail anyone who opposes his aggression. He would be in a position to dominate the Middle East. He would be in a position to threaten America. And Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists.
Some citizens wonder, after 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now? And there's a reason. We've experienced the horror of September the 11th. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing, in fact, they would be eager, to use biological or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.
Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. "
I think people are starting to catch on to who is lying -- it's not the "lefties" and it is not people like myself-- a NRA member and charter subscriber to Pat Buchanan's "American Conservative".posted by: Don Williams on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Texas - I'm up to here with said Generals and Admirals on a weekly basis. No one seems to be hopping mad.
What would they be mad about?posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Great Speech, Williams. What's your point?posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
"Skyfallers", huh? - ain't it the truth? It's never enough for these people, things can only be the way they see it, and yet they always seem to be the miserable one's.
Pathetic. Guess what kids - The world is run by those who show up. What's the matter - Parents forget to tell you?
Hussein Kamel said two significant things:
1) Iraq destroyed their weapons stockpiles
2) Iraq did (1) to end sanctions so they could restart the programs and rebuild stockpiles
The discrepancies about numbers was window dressing. The reason Kamel was tortured and killed, the reason sanctions stayed in place, and the reason we finally went to war, is (2). There have been some reports from former regime members that Iraq had small stocks of WMD-equipped warheads as late as 1999 but if we find any I'll be surprised.posted by: polyphemus on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
The Bush administration did not focus on Iraqi WMD. British Prime Minister Tony Blair did because of Labor Party politics. Those who opposed the invasion project Blair's statements onto Bush. They lie. They always lie."
Donny, you're being dishonest.
The case for war, by this administration, was made - at the UN, no-less - by attempting to get that august body to hold the old Iraqi regime accountable to the UN's resolutions.
Those are the facts of the matter, and they are not in dispute.posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
He is playing the usual "disprove this here negative" game. His secret definition of Bush not making WMD the focus of the many reasons for invading Iraq is that Bush must not have said anything at all about Iraqi WMD.
You already know what he is. Why waste our time reading your responses to him to find out who you are responding to? I and probably others check to see who the poster is before reading a post further. I ignore him but not you, and would rather not have to read all of one of your posts to discover that is just about him.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
1)I hardly see how Colin Powell's speech to the UN supports Holsinger. Much of Powell's speech was an attempt to gain UN support by arguing that Hussein had WMDs. Plus, let us recall that Bush invaded Iraq without UN support, without there being an imminent threat to the US , and hence violated the most fundamental law of the UN --that one nation does not attack another unless in self defense.
How to Unite the American People
In his April 7th NYT column, William Safire announces that it’s time for the American counter attack. He goes on to say:
"But we must impress on the minds of millions of Shiites that there is no free ride to freedom. We should keep the heat on Shiite ditherers by holding fast to the June 30 deadline for the delivery of sovereignty to Iraq's three groups. It's less about the U.S. election than demanding that Iraqi leaders and U.N. facilitators live up to their promises."
Friends & family are tired of me repeating, “There are liars, damned liars, and William Safires.” What do we all know? We know that when they say it’s not about money, it’s about money. When they say it’s not about oil, it’s about oil. And when William when says it’s not about the election, it’s about the election.
How To Unite the American People
If William wants unity at home, here’s how he gets it. Get George W. Bush to resign. He doesn’t have to admit that he was misled around by the nose by his better educated and more dogmatic advisors. He doesn’t have to cop to all of his lies and prevarications. All he has to do is say, LBJ-style, for the good of the nation, ‘I will not seek, nor will I accept, re-nomination for president’. William needs to understand that Bush really is the issue of this campaign. Thanks to the colossal blunder he and his crowd – with William's cheerleading – have led us into, we will be in the Iraqi ‘quagmire’ for years to come, way past June and way past our November elections. Although there will be differences on the diplomatic level, there’s a good chance a Kerry administration might not stray too much from what’s now being done on the ground in Iraq. But what Americans are increasingly realizing is, whatever has to be done in Iraq, the very last thing they want to do is reward the surly Neocon crowd with another four-year term. That’s a prescription for endless disaster if ever there was! As long as the re-election of the Great Divider is a faint possibility, there can be no unity at home.
But of course, as you and I know perfectly well, for two reasons there can be no Bush abdication. One, there is not a bone of creativity in Bush’s head. Two, he’s not in charge of his presidency, like LBJ was; Cheney and Rove are. He won’t be allowed to suggest stepping aside. And so we will plod on through the quagmire and the mounting casualties.
In politics, resolution. Some one tell William it is about the election.posted by: Vigilante on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Dear Nicole Griffin,
I am curious about how the acrimony of the Democrats prevents Bush and co. from fixing things in Iraq. Republicans have control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency.
Until recently, a majority of Americans approved of the Bush Administration's handling of Iraq. They could have, and could still, implement any plan that they like.
While I don't like whining Democrats any more than any one else, their whining certainly didn't stop Bush from going to war. I am curious how anyone can claim that their whining is stopping him from fixing things now.
Why do we need to have a 'national conversation' about what to do to fix Iraq? Many ideas, including Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek have been put forward. Why can't the Commander and Chief merely pick the best ideas already floating out there and just implement them?
It's not like anyone could stop him, or would want to.
No, this failure is a failure of imagination of the Bush Administration. They have no ideas how to proceed and they won't let anyone else give it a try either.
If GW Bush would offer me the head of civilian operations in Iraq as well as completely responsibility for fixing things - I would pack my bags tonight. However I have no illusion that the Bush Administration will let anyone fix Iraq or fix it themselves.
As long as that is true, your reasonable statement about how we need to have a national conversation about how to fix Iraq is naive, idealistic, but unfortunately a waste of time. They undoubtedly don't even think there is a problem at all, and have no intention of fixing the situation.
I don't know if Art's still here, or even if it matters, but here's a Washington Post article from July 2002.
Ultimately, noted a senior administration official, "the military has limited influence in this administration."
At a July 10 meeting of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory group, one of the subjects discussed was how to overcome the military reluctance to plan innovatively for an attack on Iraq. "What was discussed was the problem with the services," said one defense expert who participated in the meeting. His conclusion: "You have to have a few heads roll, especially in the Army."
If you're still wondering why so many troops are needed, here's the best explanation I've seen, from Edward Luttwak.posted by: Carl on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Thanks Carl - great post. For someone who claims such expertise on the matter, the Oldman is seriously deficient when it comes to reasoning and logic.posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
Sorry for the oversight -Good point on the "heads will roll" post as well.
Dunigan said it best in his Classic "Quick and Dirty Guide to War". Several of these types accumulate during peacetime - and they're usually the first to be pushed aside when things start getting serious. Clark AND Zinni come to mind. You'd think that this line of work would self-select against control freaks - since we manage chaos, and are seldom in control of anything. But you're article demonstrates that this is not always the case.
BTW - Please try and stick around. We need some credible doubters around here. The incredible we have in spade's.posted by: Tommy G on 04.08.04 at 12:03 AM [permalink]
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