Tuesday, May 11, 2004
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Should Rummy resign?
In the wake of the ever-widening prisoner scandal (see the heretofore secret Red Cross report here and the Washington Post story about it here), a lot of people are calling for Rummy's head. The Economist wants him to resign -- as does Megan McArdle. President Bush maintains that he's "doing a superb job." As Kevin Drum documents, those who supported the war are growing ever more disgruntled with the administration in general and Rumsfeld in particular. Andrew Sullivan puts it well:
Actually, one could argue that the administration has in fact shifted a fair amount on how to handle postwar Iraq -- it's just that the shifts have amounted to mere tinkering given the lack of troop strength, the absence of border protection, and the abject failure of the Iraqi statebuilding project. In other words, they shifted on everything but the big things.
A year ago, I wrote the following about Rumsfeld's obsession with slimming down the military:
We're down the road now. The administration never really resolved that dilemma, and I'd say we've hit trouble with a capital "T".
This is certainly not only Rummy's fault -- though he should have been asking tough questions on Iraq instead of letting others ask fluffy ones. The man residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shoulders the bulk of the responsibility. Bush's job prospects will be decided in November, however (and since I was undecided back in January -- when foreign policy was Bush's strength -- imagine my current preference ordering). In the meantime, it seems inescapable to me that Donald Rumsfeld should resign as Secretary of Defense. It's not just Abu Ghraib -- it's the whole damn Mongolian cluster-f#*k of the postwar occupation.
I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise -- but the arguments better be really, really, good ones.
UPDATE: Some of the commenters seem to be confusing my disdain for Rumsfeld with a desire to get out of Iraq. That's just wrong. It's precisely because I want the U.S. to stay in Iraq, to help build institutions that resemble a liberal polity, to demonstrate that the words "democracy" and "Arab" can be combined in the same sentence, that I want Rummy to go.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This commenter prudently suggests that I can't support Rummy's removal without a suitable replacement.
OK. My suggested replacement would be retired Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki.posted by Dan on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM
Oddly enough, I feel less strongly about Rummy going at this juncture. He should have been fired when this scandal first broke, mostly because of the whole %^$# cluster thing, but also because it might have salvaged something out of this whole prisoner scandal.
Now, what does firing Rummy accomplish, really? There are no more troops to send to Iraq, as far as I can tell. If they exist, there is no political will to send them. Frankly, an early firing of Rumsfeld might have made Bush look like Harry Truman firing McArthur, determined to right policies gone wrong. Now, he'd just look like circa 1979 Jimmy Carter, looking weak while trying to act strong.
With regret, because I don't like Kerry or his general policy thrust, I've concluded that the only way to fix much is to allow the President's contract to expire in November.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
John Kerry can be counted on to do nothing which requires any political will, courage, or convictions. He straddles every difficult position.
What on earth are you guys thinking considering this man with no political guts to deal with the war on fascist terror? What's the message you want to send -- if you stick your neck out to do what's right, but make any mistakes along the way -- we'll punish you? Is this how Chamberlain got elected?posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
It is obvious that the chattering classes don't have the backbone required for any sort of military campaign that lasts longer than a couple of months. Fortunately, the American people themselves seem to have much stronger backbones than the people who occupy their time telling the rest of us what to think.
The idea that Rumsfeld should resign is evidence that the chattering classes in America suffer from the same paralysis that makes Europe the military superpower that it is(n't). It's one thing for purely partisan media types and politicans to want his resignation, that's their job. For people who supported the war and it's goals to turn tail and knuckle under to this sort of polictical intrigue is just plain disturbing.
What did you think, that conquering and rebuilding a middle eastern government at the epicenter of Islamic terrorist activity was going to be quick and easy?
I'm glad none of you were around during the first years of WWII.posted by: DSpears on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Of course, this makes the assumption that the situation in Iraq is as much of a cluster f*#% as you describe.
I contend that notwithstanding many serious problems, there are many things going right in Iraq, and in the last month things have actually gotten better on the ground in Iraq. The much hoped-for Shiite rebellion did not materialize, and the US strategy of using military force AND political pressure is steadily driving Muqtada al-Sadr into the ground and alienating him from his own power base. While I wish that we had conquered Fallujah outright, I am OK with the military's chosen strategy of putting an Iraqi face on their containment of the town.
However, if you subscribe to the police blotter mentality of the press reporting on Iraq, then it is not surprising that you consider Iraq to be a disaster. If the sole reporting of the news from California consisted of the daily homicide reports from every city, we would be led to believe that California was an anarchist nightmare. It isn't. And Iraq isn't. And if we lose heart now and bail out, that will be the cluster f#$&, not anything else.
And regarding the specific decisions made and mistakes made - everything is very clear in hindsight. Please note the disasters that did NOT happen with the war - millions dead, millions of refugees, mass starvation, destructive urban warfare... all of which were gleefully predicted and which were successfully avoided by no other than Rumsfeld and his team.posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Folks, can someone please explain why we should be so gosh darn horrfied by this prison "scandal"? The Red Cross report cites two incidents, neither of which I think we should lose any sleep about - 1) They made the prisoners get naked and stay in a dark room, 2) they sometimes put women's underwear on their head while they did this. On the scale of torture, this sounds like Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition.
People, these guys were political prisoners who were apprehended either firing on coalition troops, building car bombs and other stuff to blow up civlians, or were caught red-handed associated with terrorists. And the worst thing we did WAS PUT UNDERWEAR ON THEIR HEADS.
Ok, maybe they also made them get into a naked human pyramid, for some reason I can't fathom. I have no idea what was going through the minds of the guards to do that. However, this was dealt with in the chain of command, the offending guards are facing reprimand or court martial, have been removed, and we are moving forward.
I don't thing the American people care at all about this, and I think the so-called "Arab street" is laughing at the stupidity of it all. BTW - has anybody asked where the last Red Cross report on Abu Gharib is, you know, the one documenting 30 years of actual real torture there?posted by: Don on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Even though Andrew Sullivan's observations are sharp, his position is ridiculous.
--It is Osama's dream propaganda coup....
--a brutal, imperialist, racist occupation, designed to humiliate another culture.
Instapundit has said something that I consider priceless:
In the past, America has never sent such messages, but in the past, America has never been so vulnerable. In WWII, Nazism was a stronger enemy than Islamism is now, but Islamists' way of fighting is way dirtier and more cowardly (still talking about Geneva convention, you nerds of The Economist?).
It's all about which side America would rather err, and it's time to reverse the trend Instapundit has described. Unless Americans make that change in their culture, they risk losing that culture altogether, along with their nation.posted by: Ivan Lenin on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I'm glad none of you were around during the first years of WWII.
Amen to that. During WWII, we lost hundreds of soldiers to combat every week. Our total combat losses for the war were 300,000. Was that too many? Or too few compared to the British at 500,000? Or the Soviets at 10 million?posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I am inclined to think that The Donald should go. He could even make a big 'big stops here' noble speech and say this is how we do it in America yada, yada, yada.
But mostly I am interested to hear from Dan and perhaps others here who (whom?) they might suggest as replacements. I really have no good ideas off of the top of my head and was hoping that some of you might make some suggestions.posted by: Jason on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Hell, the Allies lost 53,000 dead in the invasion of and campaign in Normandy alone. Perhaps Roosevelt should have resigned, and we should have gotten on the boats and headed back home.posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Although I am not normally wildly sensitive to this sort of thing, what's with the Mongolian-bashing?posted by: Tom Maguire on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
This is not about the number of dead or wounded. This is whether the current administration can ever achieve its objectives in Iraq. This would be a secure military base in the middle east and, secondarily, a democratic Iraq which has the potential to be a model for the rest of the region.
To achieve the first objective, we will either have to act at variance with our values as a country, or attempt to re-win the hearts and minds of Iraqis who are tired of our inability to provide some law n' order. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's going to be a little difficult without some personnel changes.
The second possibility seems a little remote right now.If it happens,it will be because of the Iraqis, not the Americans. And, quite honestly, we've probably increased the chance that a successful democracy will have a strong anti-American component.
And, as for the WWII comparisons, they are beyond bogus. Or maybe I missed the speech where Bush demanded that all Americans, rich and poor, old and young, contribute their blood, toil, tears and sweat to the defense of the homeland.
If we're truly at war, it might be nice for our President to actually act like it.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
There is a petition for those who favor keeping Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense:
63,375 since yesterday
Rummy should stay.
I don't recall Mr. Nixon being blamed for Lt. Calley's actions, do you?
Appalled Moderate wrote:
But if you look a little closely and see past the constant negative reporting from Iraq, a civilized Iraq is slowly starting to emerge from the chaos. If you wrongly believe that Iraq is a cluster f#$%, then every opinion that you have is colored by that mistaken assumption of fact.
And why are the WWII analogies inappropriate? War is a serious business. Everyone understands that. You seem to be saying that the President has misrepresented that. He hasn't. On the contrary, he has warned of a difficult road many times. It is the chattering classes who expect a picnic and run for the hills at the first sign of trouble.posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
As the saying goes, timing is everything.
In terms of PR here and overseas, Rumsfeld's resignation when this story broke might have done some good. His resignation now after the President made such a show of defending him would send a message of weakness.
It wouldn't be a false message, either. I can't think offhand of a Defense Secretary who has had as much authority delegated to him as Rumsfeld has, not even McNamara. And the authority Bush has delegated to him stretches well beyond the traditional bounds of the SecDef's purview. If Rumsfeld left now, Bush would either have to delegate the same level of authority to someone he did not know as well (which he is unwilling to do) or become vastly more involved himself in the implementation of national security policy (which he is unable to do).
In another administration Rumsfeld would surely have to resign or be fired, and most likely would have been before now. An administration headed by a President as weak as Bush is can't afford to lose the mainstay of its foreign and defense policy any more than the politically crippled Richard Nixon could have afforded to lose Henry Kissinger in the spring of 1974. This is all quite apart from questions of political impact, or the fact that Rumsfeld's interim replacement would probably have to be his No. 2, Paul Wolfowitz -- the one man in Washington with less credibility than Rumsfeld right now.posted by: Zathras on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
If it were just this prison mess, OI would not worry about Rummy. Everyone is entitled to even a big mistake,if you are generally effective.
The problem is that Rummy is instrumental in the fact that the occupation of Iraq is undermanned. This is the root cause of just about every problem we're having there. The jailers at Abu Ghraib were inadequately supervised, inadequately trained, and left to their own devices. Is it any great surprise that evil got the better of some of our soldiers under these conditions?
Right now, Rummy is taking the Janet Reno approach to responsibility. You know, mention the word in a Congressional hearing, thump your chest twice, and make damn sure you never suffer any consequences.
It's enough to make a Mongolian blush....posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
At this point, firing Rummy is just a surrogate action for firing Bush and electing Kerry. What's the point, other than to repudiate the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I do not think that Secretary Rumsfeld should resign over Abu Ghraib.
However, I am open to persuasion on the question of whether the Administration has created a clusterf**k in Iraq. If you ever have the time to write it, I'd be genuinely interested to read a thorough statement of why you consider that to be the case.
The key to such an analysis will not be "there are lots of problems" but rather, given the resources and alternatives available at the time, what choices did the Administration make that were seriously wrong.
For example, to take just one issue in this question of how well Iraq has been handled, I realize that you (among many others) think that we should have sent more troops to Iraq. A rational discussion of that issue will require addressing several questions:
1) Was there a meaningful number of trained troops available to send? (I suspect that a lot of poorly-trained troops probably would do more harm than good -- viz Abu Ghraib.)
2) Would sending more troops really have helped significantly, or would they just have been more sitting targets? (For example, the Israelis cannot stop infiltration by suicide bombers without a physical barrier: do you really think that the Israelis have too few troops devoted to securing their borders?)
3) Given the other challenges that the US faces worldwide (particularly including Iran and Korea), could it not have been a rational trade-off to accept somewhat more difficulty in Iraq in order to allow us to keep troops in reserve out of Iraq as a sign that we retain have the capability to deal with other threats if forced to do so? (While we can't afford to lose in Iraq, we do not want North Korea to get any more out of hand, either.)
4) Was it so clearly a mistake to fire the Baath-dominated army? How can we be sure that keeping much of it in service would not have seriously alienated the Shiites, who are clearly more important than the Sunnis in creating Iraq's future?
5) Even if you decide that the Administration made identifiable, significant mistakes, would things have been much different if it had made other choices? (If you had told me last year that, 15 months after the invasion, we'd have 700 dead, no civil war, no humanitarian/refugee crisis, and be close to turning over some form of sovereignty to Iraqis, I'd have said that you were wildly irresponsible in your optimism.)
I do not have the factual basis to answer these questions, and the news media have shown no interest in seriously addressing them. Mostly, what I see in the media and in blogs is snarky point-scoring rather than meaningful analysis of the choices that the Administration faced and how well it made them.
I'm not criticizing you for your generalization that the Administation has made a clusterf**k (you're certainly entitled to your opinion). However, I think that you could help a lot by going beyond what has become conventional wisdom in the media, by trying to put these questions into some more meaningful framework.
R. Woodposted by: RWood on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I'd like the armchair generals to explain why it is, exactly, that Iraq is "undermanned", how they know it, what the "correct" number of troops is, and how they would know if there were too many rather than too few troops, and what exactly good things they expect with more troops that they don't get today with "too few".posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
In another administration Rumsfeld would surely have to resign or be fired, and most likely would have been before now.
I forget, was the Secretary of Defense fired by then President Clinton or did he resign when US troops were bombing refugee caravans in the Balkans?posted by: Thorley Winston on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
R. Wood wrote:
Well said. My mind boggles everytime I hear someone (not necessarily Dan Drezner) say that we should have kept the Iraqi Army intact and used it to enforce law and order. Yes, that would be the Ba'athist dominated institution composed of reluctant and sulky conscripts, with plenty of Shiite, Kurdish and even Sunni blood on its hands. If, as is likely, it had incompetently and brutally attempted to enforce law and order, we would now be hearing about how it was a huge and stupid mistake to keep it intact. The headlines would read:
"US-supervised Iraqi army commits atrocities in Najaf"
"4 women raped and murdered by suspected Iraqi Army in Karbala - did Bremer hush it up?"
"Iraqi Army officers charged with arming insurgents in Fallujah"
At the end of WWII, we disbanded all the military forces of Germany, Japan and Italy, and reconstructed them from scratch. It was painful, but it was the right thing to do then and it was the right thing to do now.posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Thorley Winston wrote:
No, it was Janet Reno who resigned after the raid on Waco.
Oops, sorry, confused the alternate reality with the real one... :-)posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Eugene Volokh has done some research on resignations of high-level Government officials:
I'm not an armchail general, nor do I pretend to be one. International law does mandate that when you a conquer a country, you become responsible for its security. We have not done such a fine job. For the consequences on Iraqis in skilled professions (our natural allies)see:
For the link between undermanning in Iraq and the prison horrors, see:
These are anecdotal, and I think the proprietor would fry me if I used these in a contra-outsourcing post. Nonetheless, they are pretty damning, particularly as both sources are hardly anti-war nuts. And one thing I never see is evidence that we absolutely have the right number of troops in Iraq. Maybe you can show that to me.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Appalled Moderate: What is the "right" number of troops that we should have in Iraq? As a reference point, we currently have about 135,000, although that number will change in a few months. Please post your opinion of the correct number that we should have.posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Democratic and Arab can go together. But can Democratic and Islamic majority?posted by: Thomas Doubtful on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
The Healing Iraq blog refers to an upsurge in kidnappings. Solving kidnappings is generally not something at which infantry troops are particularly good at, even if they spoke the language. We have raised and equipped tens of thousands of Iraqi Police for this purpose. Should we:
Tangible solutions, please.posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I'm not a military expert, so I can't give you a number. I think the 250,000 number was floated by army brass before the invasion. I don't have time to find that link, so I post with full anticipation I will be found to be wrong.
My challenge to Kevin P and Matthew Cromer -- why are the security problems that exist inevitable regardless of the number of troops?posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Appalled Moderate wrote:
Nothing is inevitable. However, throwing bodies and / or money at a problem does not necessarily result in solving it. There is usually a point of diminishing returns. In this particular case:
a) Soldiers are trained to destroy the enemy, not to perform ordinary police work.
b) They don't speak the language and don't understand the culture, both essential to successful police work.
c) The current fighting in Iraq is an insurgency, which requires the use of a scalpel, not a broadsword. More troops may only get in the way or present more of a sitting target.posted by: Kevin P. on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
International law does mandate that when you a conquer a country, you become responsible for its security. We have not done such a fine job.
As other posters have so correctly pointed out the fighting and the abuses in the prison are the exception rather than the rule, in which case, unless one expects some unprecedented level of perfection, it would seem that we are doing a pretty good job already and will probably do a better job in the future.
Kevin P, Matthew Cromer, This was a war we chose to fight. Nothing demanded that it begin when it did. Contrast Gulf War I, when many months were spent gathering troops and equipment before invading. Senior military officers advised that more troops (250,000) were needed going in, not because it would take 250,000 to make it across the desert to Baghdad, but because having a large force at the beginning would have enabled supply lines to be secured and disorder to be brought under control. The decision to low-ball the needed troops was clearly Donald Rumsfeld's, together with the PNAC coterie of Wolfowitz, Feith, et. al. After that blunder, the subsequent problems were inevitable.posted by: cafl on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Consider that your assumptions concerning Rumsfeld might be in error, and the implications of that.
This facile focus on Rumsfeld says much concerning your judgment.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
It is amazing how Drezner picks the conventional establishment line without missing a beat. All his opinions are carefully calibrated conventional PC tripe. A bland conventional establishment hack he is.
Are you saying we should have waited until the heat of summer to invade with our troops in sweltering hot chemical protective gear?posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
"Some of the commenters seem to be confusing my disdain for Rumsfeld with a desire to get out of Iraq. That's just wrong. It's precisely because I want the U.S. to stay in Iraq, to help build institutions that resemble a liberal polity, to demonstrate that the words "democracy" and "Arab" can be combined in the same sentence, that I want Rummy to go."
What you say you want - and I have no reason to question your sincerity - WON'T be what happens if Rumsfeld resigns. Kerry's "solution" for Iraq (NATO and/or the United Nations riding to the rescue & good things resulting) has the same flaw .... it'd never happen.
Rumsfeld's critics aren't particularly interested in how prisoners have been treated - by and large, they're opportunists who see Rumsfeld weakened and wish to take advantage of it to damage our efforts in Iraq. They aren't interested in a democratic Iraq & they aren't interested in fighting a war on terror; their inclination would be to sue for peace on the terrorists terms. They want us to "accept defeat" and abandon the Iraq effort, and they believe running Rumsfeld out of office would advance that goal - it'd be sold as a "defeat for the NeoCons who got us in this stupid war".
You can't placate Kennedy, Michael Moore, et al.
We're already in far too much danger of going Wobbly; day by day, we hear more and more tidbits which suggest we're losing our nerve. That simply can't happen. Rumsfeld stays.posted by: BradDad on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
What's magic about summer? There was no threat. The war was optional. Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda and we needed the resources to pursue unfinished business in Afghanistan.posted by: cafl on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
CAFL - "there was no threat"
I'm sure many of the folks at Cantor Fitzgerald thought the same way before the burning jet fuel and flying glass ended their lives in a few moments of nightmarish hell.
The old way (your way) of ignoring threats and hoping they go away is one we cannot afford anymore. When the nuke goes off and we lose DC, perhaps the left will finally shut up and get serious about the war we are in.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Bush would cut and run as soon as possible after his reelection was secured. It would be the politically smart thing to do. He might continue to pour money into the country, but a graph of troop commitments after November (assuming Bush wins) would look like they dropped off a cliff.posted by: elliottg on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Mr. Cromer. I will repeat. Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Afghanistan had a lot to do with Al Qaeda. We essentially bailed from Afghanistan to go to Iraq, which now has BECOME a recruiting ground for Al Qaeda due to the disorder resulting from the debacle of invading Iraq with no plan. Try applying a) facts and b) logic.posted by: cafl on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Shinseki, Dan? More than your judgment is now at issue.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I think our host has just answered the question on how many troops he figures needs to be in Iraq by his SecDef nomination.
(Excuse the propaganda site -- the NYT link is long gone.)posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Everyone who keeps saying that the occupation is a cluster-*$%! seems to assume that there was some path that would have produced a better outcome, and that that path is reasonably obvious.
Since every occupation in history has run into similar problems to those that we are facing in Iraq, even though they were handled differently, I don't understand why everyone is assuming that there was a better path.
Of course there was a better path; I'm just suggesting that the standard suggestion, more troops, wouldn't have obviously solved the problems we are having in Iraq; or, if they would have, wouldn't have created other, equally difficult, problems.posted by: John on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Shinseki would be a knowledgeable choice, but I believe not eligible. Isn't there a statutory requirement for a ten (?) year gap between military service and appointment to SecDef?
However, he clearly knew how many troops were needed.
Mr. Cromer, btw. if a nuke goes off and we lose DC, let's hope it isn't because of the lapses in homeland security caused by spending $200 billion on the war in Iraq. And if it's a dirty bomb, let's hope the materials didn't come from the looted nuclear waste sites in Iraq, unguarded because insufficient troops were sent in during the invasion.posted by: cafl on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Not enough troops is just the current meme (and if I hear "boots on the ground" one more time I'm going to puke) flying around. Nearly no one who uses it really appreaciates what exactly what kind of troops are needed in Iraq. We need police and peacekeepers, exactly the kind of troops we've never had, ever. The modern army is not an imperial army, we don't have the ability to police a possession, and that's a good thing.
There also seems to be this idea that a soldier is as good as any other soldier, that we can use a grunt like a cop like a supply clerk like an intel asset. That isn't remotely true and until people come to terms with the idea that the modern army has at most 40-60 thousand ACTUAL COMBAT TROOPS and the rest are in support units, then can we actually discuss this subject halfway compently.posted by: Tollhouse on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Not sure we need to equate Rummy's removal with leaving Iraq, but some posters here think it's clearly the intention of Rumsfeld's critics.
*Even if you decide that the Administration made identifiable, significant mistakes, would things have been much different if it had made other choices? (If you had told me last year that, 15 months after the invasion, we'd have 700 dead, no civil war, no humanitarian/refugee crisis, and be close to turning over some form of sovereignty to Iraqis, I'd have said that you were wildly irresponsible in your optimism.)*
Isn't one of those "identifiable, significant mistakes" the fact that this Admin., with Rumsfeld's participation, didn't share your view, but rather sold a significantly rosier outcome to the American people?
*...I think this is the right message to send to the enemy: Yes, we can be brutal, and we will humiliate you the way you humiliate your women, if that's what we need to do in order to win.*
This idea may be valid, but it flies in the face of the message we tried (and possibly are still trying) to sell.
Forgive me, John, but your reasoning could be used to support any policy directed at any problem, no matter how badly it was going wrong.
Now, my personal view is that the time when more troops would have had decisive impact is long past. But from the beginning of the Iraq war administration spokesmen -- especially Donald Rumsfeld -- have insisted that there were things we did not know, and things we did not know we did not know, hence we couldn't plan for them and the warnings of those who argued that we should plan for them could be disregarded. Of course other policies than the ones being followed now would have their own drawbacks, but focusing on what these might be is only wise if the policy being followed is succeeding. There is reason to doubt this where Iraq is concerned; therefore, it seems to me, changes in policy should at least be considered.posted by: Zathras on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Carol Farlow Lerche wrote:
Mr. Cromer. I will repeat. Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda.
Untrue, there were confirmed reports of meetings between high-ranking members of both Al-Qaeda and the Baathist regime in Iraq. The Al-Qaeda chemical weapons factory that we blew up in the Sudan was linked to the director of Iraq’s chemical weapons program. Clearly the two had links.
Afghanistan had a lot to do with Al Qaeda.
So do Pakistan, the Sudan, and quite a few other nations. Al-Qaeda is a multi-national problem and it is short-sighted to link it to only one country or to think that battling it would begin or end with Afghanistan. Moreover, as the POTUS made clear, this is not merely a war against Al-Qaeda or UBL but a war designed to deal with the threats of WMD proliferation and international terrorism (both State-sponsored and non-State).
We essentially bailed from Afghanistan to go to Iraq,
which now has BECOME a recruiting ground for Al Qaeda due to the disorder resulting from the debacle of invading Iraq with no plan.
Try applying a) facts and b) logic.
Follow your own advice.
1) in WWII, why did we not focus all of our efforts on the Japanese? Why did we go after the Italy and Germany? Those countries did not attack us at Pearl Harbor.
2) Why did the Al Qaida cell that tried to destroy WTC the first time flee to Iraq for refuge?
3) Just what were the Al Qaida training camps in Iraq for?
4) What will make Americans safe? The end of Al Qaida, or the end of islamic fascism of all sorts, including the attacks against our embassy in 1979 in Iran, our Marine Barracks in Lebanon, the invasion of Kuwait, the Saudi Madrassas, etc?posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Re Afghanistan, you may want to listen to this interview (scroll down this page to the Monday May 10 interview with Sarah Chayes.posted by: cafl on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
*We need police and peacekeepers, exactly the kind of troops we've never had, ever. The modern army is not an imperial army, we don't have the ability to police a possession, and that's a good thing.*
But I hear the U.N. does.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
TW, my search results:
Saddam not involved in 9-11, Bush says
Wolfowitz: Iraq Was Not Involved In 9-11 Terrorist Attacks, No Ties To Al-Qaeda
The ludicrous notion that we can somehow prevent a nuclear device from entering the United States by spending more money on "homeland security" is the epitome of the WRONG mindset on how to keep us safe.
We will be safe when the meme of islamic radicalism is dead and arms suppliers like Kim Jong Il are under the soil.
Bush's plan is to move the middle east from a place that breeds terrorists because of oppressive governments, state-funded Madrassas teaching hate for jews and America, and lack of opportunity into a part of the world community from the standpoint of human rights, economic rights, and the rights of minorities to exist. At that point the people of the middle east can become successful and won't have time to waste on hatred and obscurancy.
The alternative is a REAL war, along the lines of WWII, where vast numbers of innocents are slaughtered. Nobody wants that. But when they start nuking our cities, I'm afraid that's what will happen.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
TW - Re Al Qaeda recruiting:
Mr. Cromer -- Really, can you please post some evidence that what we are doing in Iraq has some bearing at all on "nuking our cities"? Iraq had nukes and no delivery system for nukes. We aren't at war with North Korea, and they aren't Muslim as far as I know.
That should have been "no nukes and no delivery system..."posted by: cafl on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Saddam not involved in 9-11, Bush says ">http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2003/09/18/WorldNation/Saddam.Not.Involved.In.911.Bush.Says-468829.shtml
In which the POTUS says that ''[t]here's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaida ties.'' It also points out the fact that no one from the administration said that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 but (contrary to the misleading headline you provided) says that the evidence was inconclusive as opposed to “Saddam was not involved in 9/11.”
Wolfowitz: Iraq Was Not Involved In 9-11 Terrorist Attacks, No Ties To Al-Qaeda ">http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4372.htm
Which is an editorial BTW and an inaccurate one at that. It cites an interview that Wolfowitz did on the Laura Ingraham show and here is the relevant portion
Q: And when did you start to think that perhaps Iraq had something to do with it?
This was a fun little exercise but what really was the point? No one claimed that Saddam Hussein ordered 9/11 (nor was that ever part of the argument in favor of liberating Iraq). The question I addressed was to ties between Al-Qaeda and the former Iraqi dictatorship unless you think that in going after Al-Qaeda we were supposed to limit ourselves only to those members and supporters who were involved with 9/11 and leave the rest alone. Or more to the larger point, that we are supposed to only deal with Al-Qaeda and its supporters without trying to change the paradigm in how we deal with State-supporters and sponsors of international terrorism and WMD proliferation.posted by: Thorley Winston on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
In Don's little fairy world, it's fine to allow dictators to mass-murder their own citizens but if someone gets killed in a war of liberation, that's evil. He'd rather have ten times as many killed by Hussein and his sons rule in terror forever.
It's clear that if we don't clean up the hellholes of the world where anti-american islamic fascism grows we are going to keep getting attacked. Iraq most certainly had ongoing nuclear programs. The islamo-fascists will eventually get their hands on a nuke, and there goes DC or NYC. The only thing we can do is try to make that part of the world join the community of nations through democracy and capitalism so the Madrassas become irrelevant and unwanted.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Thank you for starting to share your thoughts on our current situation in the world. I am looking foward to understanding how the events of the last 14 months have changed (or not) your views on the proper role of America and American power in the world.
To the crazies,
Your day is over. You have all lost touch with reality. Denying that we have problems in Iraq is not going to make them go away. Your voice is going to be marginalized just as the left-wing "no blood for oil" crazies have been marginalized. You had your chance, things didn't work out, time for the adults to start cleaning up your mess.
To the person who noted that getting rid of Rumsfeld is just a proxy for getting rid of Bush,
That is pretty true. I personally would like to see Rumsfeld go, but it won't make much of a difference. Politically Bush cannot change course, so it will be more of the same regardless of who is in charge. We are stuck with the current policies, or some version of them for the rest of 2004, and after that point we might have a chance to start cleaning up the mess.posted by: Rich on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
...7...posted by: TommyG on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Thorley and Friends:
Simple question for you -- Has Rumsfeld and his defense department done a good job in prosecuting this war? Is there anything (beyond the obvious not torture prisoners) that should have been done differently?
If Iraq is going reasonably smoothly, why do Iraqis seem to be turning against us. (I refer to recent polling data, not the rent a irate Iraqis that litter big media Iraq stories.)
Just my small effort to bring this thread back to the topic.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Matthew Cromer writes:
No they didn't.
And Bush utterly failed to secure the crumbling nuclear facilities and waste dumps that Iraq DOES have.
Which means that, thanks to President Bush, toxic radioactive material is more easily obtainable for Al Qaeda - material with which they could craft any number of dirty bombs.
If their nuclear programs were such a threat, Matthew, why was so little effort made to secure them?posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Oh the places you’ll go…
“More and more authority is being handed over to the Iraqi people every single day, as we move closer and closer to the formal handover on June 30th. Iraqis will not assume all authority then; some of it they're already beginning to assume, and part of that effort has been the handover of ministries, which began on March 28th.
And the following ministries have already been handed over for daily operational management to the Iraqi people: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Displacement and Migration, and today, the Ministry of Water Resources.
And the things that you’ll see…
The most important thing I'd probably like to mention, however, is that if we look to the period since September all the way up until present, there have been more Iraqi police, ICDC and army personnel killed in the line of duty fighting for a new Iraq than there have been Americans. And this is something that should not be lost on any of us.
And while it is difficult for them to stand up to some of the challenges and the intimidation of former regime elements, it is, nevertheless, important for all of us to understand that ultimately the battle for Iraq will be won by Iraqis.
Thorley, you dare quote Paul Wolfowitz as an authority?
The man who, testifying to Congress recently, thought Iraq casualties were in the 500s, not the actual 700s?!
(And it wasn't a combat/non-combat mistake. He stated combat and non-combat death totals, both were significantly lower than reality)
The man who, testifying to Congress before the war, said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq?! (Ignorant of, or ignoring the history of Kurdish vs Shiite vs Sunni strife and friction.)
The man who believes tinfoil hat conspiracy nut Laurie Mylroie?
Is this really someone you want to quote as an authority?
Matthew Cromer writes: "Bush's plan is to move the middle east from a place that breeds terrorists because of oppressive governments, state-funded Madrassas teaching hate for jews and America, and lack of opportunity into a part of the world community from the standpoint of human rights, economic rights, and the rights of minorities to exist. "
Then why didn't we attack Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?
The Saudis are the ones who have been funding the spread of radical Wahhabism for decades, not Iraq.
Pakistan is the nation that was selling nuclear technology to a variety of states, not Iraq.
Matthew Cromer writes: "1) in WWII, why did we not focus all of our efforts on the Japanese? Why did we go after the Italy and Germany? Those countries did not attack us at Pearl Harbor."
Because Germany declared war on the US after we declared war on Japan. That's why.
Had we not engaged Germany and Italy, they would have been attacking us, sinking our ships and otherwise acting to support Japan's war efforts against us.
You need to brush up on your history.posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
If Shinseki hasn't been out of the military long enough, how about General John Shalikashvili, who retired in 1997?
He succeeded Colin Powell as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Jon, you're such a disengenious little filth.
So you propose that we attack and occupy Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, then? No?
Then wise up , genius - there's a direct line between your line of thought and Saturday's severed head.posted by: Fred Rodgers on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
> Bush's job prospects will be decided in
Don't you Bush apologists have any response to Drezner's announcement that, tenatively, he is voting for Kerry?posted by: goethean on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Fred writes: "So you propose that we attack and occupy Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, then? No?
Then wise up , genius - there's a direct line between your line of thought and Saturday's severed head."
So if we can't invade them, we have to invade someone else, regardless of the fact that it's absolutely useless and likely to cause more problems than it solves?
What kind of rank idiocy is that?
Has there ever been one day when the left felt that the war was going well? Wasn't quagmire thrown around at the first thunder storm? How do the people who have had nothing positive to say about the war expect to be taken seriously now? It always something and you won't shut up even when its all over. You've thrown everything you have at this effort. You're not honest in your criticisms. Even when you make real points who will listen to you now besides ANSWER?posted by: Ptolemy on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I think we all need to watch this and think long and hard whether or not civilized people can coexist with this cultural, moral, and spiritual cancer which is so clearly shown in the video I link below.
It's clear to me that we are at war, and our only safety is the defeat of our enemies.
All you "Rumsfeld must go" folks -- look into the face of pure evil, and ask yourself what really needs to be done.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Jon, you're clearly insane. Do you not understand the reasoning *in your own argument*?
You hate so blindly that you attribute your thoughts to others - in notable turn-around time, I might add. Congrats!
Way to go on getting that kid killed.posted by: Fred Rodgers on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
"Way to go on getting that kid killed."
Hey, if I'd had my way, we wouldn't have invaded Iraq, he wouldn't have been in Iraq, and he'd still be alive, along with 700 other Americans.posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
"I think we all need to watch this and think long and hard whether or not civilized people can coexist with this cultural, moral, and spiritual cancer which is so clearly shown in the video I link below."
You mean like the Texans who dragged a black man until his body broke in half? That kind of cultural, moral, and spiritual cancer?
And are you saying that it's morally superior to behead someone by dropping a bomb from 15,000 feet?
How about blowing the arms off a 12 year old boy? Is that a symptom of a cultural, moral, and spiritual cancer? Or is it okay, because the people who did it didn't see him and didn't really give a shit about who they were killing?
I wish there was a way I could make money from the doomies.
The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!
One of nice things about Google's advanced search is that it archives these responses. So next year I can search for, and find, the following statement:
Daniel Drezner, I told you so.
And I will.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Now we know you would not have fought WWII to liberate the jews from the death camps.
If you don't know the difference between what's on that video and an accidental death in war (and our way of fighting war is to minimize civilian casualties) then yours is the morality of surrender to evil.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
As for the folks who dragged a black man to death -- yes they are consumed with exactly the same kind of spiritual cancer as the Islamo-fascists.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
One more point
At some point, if we cannot win this war by forced reform in the Islamic world, we will suffer the attacks we cannot bear. Then our morality will be lost -- we will fight total war, the way we fought world war II, targeting civilian populations. And when we fight that way our morality truly does depart us.
OK, Matt, I'll take your quiz:
1) in WWII, why did we not focus all of our efforts on the Japanese? Why did we go after the Italy and Germany? Those countries did not attack us at Pearl Harbor.
We declared war on the Germans after Pearl Harbor because they first declared war on us. (Ahh, remember the good old days when presidents actually declared war, and didn't try to end run the Congress with secret little dirty wars.) Plus, I would imagine the fact that the Germans occupied nearly all of Europe at the time had something to do with it.
2) Why did the Al Qaida cell that tried to destroy WTC the first time flee to Iraq for refuge?
Despite what Laurie Mylroie says, there is no evidence that this "cell" fled to Iraq. Indeed, IIRC, most of the perpetrators of this attack, and the blind Sheikh ringleader, were apprehended by the Clinton FBI and are now serving long sentences.
3) Just what were the Al Qaida training camps in Iraq for?
The camps of which you speak were located in the northern no-fly zone, meaning Saddam could have had no control over them. We and the British did. I guess we should have invaded Britain, huh? I do know one thing: those of us Americans who opposed this war were certainly attacked with a vengence.
4) What will make Americans safe? The end of Al Qaida, or the end of islamic fascism of all sorts, including the attacks against our embassy in 1979 in Iran, our Marine Barracks in Lebanon, the invasion of Kuwait, the Saudi Madrassas, etc?
While I agree that islamic fascism is as good a sobriquet as any for our true enemies in this struggle, I would caution that Saddam's Iraq was a secular fascist state with absolutely no concern for worldwide conversion to Islam. His aim was always to aggrandize himself, not Allah.
Look, guys, I feel as though I'm witnessing a medical miracle in this comments thread, for it seems to me that many of you have just awakened--simultaneously, keyboards in laps--from a two-year coma. Please allow me to bring you up to date on what has transpired while you were having your diapers changed and your bedsores lanced.
When the invasion of Iraq was first floated, many people saw right away that without significant international cooperation, it was a potentially disastrous proposal. Who were these people? Well, many of the military brass; the President's father and his whole national security team, but Cheney (who to his credit didn't like the idea 14 year ago); many progressives, whose reasoned arguments were met with smears about our patriotism; most other nations and their citizens; and, apparently, the Secretary of State. And this was at a time when most people assumed--even Saddam himself, it now appears--that Iraq had WMD. It was a cost-benefit argument & has been all along.
Once the inspectors--who too were typically maligned as incompetent or worse (by the soft bigoted supporters of the most incompetent administration in living memory)--started to reveal that our assumptions about WMD were wrong, and the AQ/Saddam connection having long since fallen into disrepute (which is why it so interesting to see it raised here and now), we rushed in anyway, despite having Iraq utterly contained & slipping, on the wings of democratization and lies. We lied about WMD, we lied about the Iraqi reception and we lied about having plan for the occupation. Perhaps we even lied about the intention to democratize, for anyone with any sense could see that that would require many years and would likely result in our being booted out at the first moment of Iraqi sovereignty. It's time for the liars, each and every member of the self-styled accountability administration, and the stooge in chief, to be held to account themselves. If you don't believe me, just pour through Dan's archives and watch as the catastrophe unfolds.posted by: Bloggerhead on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Matthew Cromer writes: "Now we know you would not have fought WWII to liberate the jews from the death camps."
We *didn't* fight WW2 to liberate the jews from the death camps. That's just historical fact.posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
“Hell, the Allies lost 53,000 dead in the invasion of and campaign in Normandy alone. Perhaps Roosevelt should have resigned, and we should have gotten on the boats and headed back home.”
Better yet, look at Abraham Lincoln’s problems defeating the Confederates. There has never been a perfectly fought war. This one in Iraq has been overall successful! We have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and things are looking fairly good. The recent screaming and yelling is grossly exaggerated. From a historical perspective, the coalition forces have lost very few soldiers. Eric Shinseki reminds me of George McCellan. He would have found every excuse not to invade Iraq.
"’Way to go on getting that kid killed.’
Hey, if I'd had my way, we wouldn't have invaded Iraq, he wouldn't have been in Iraq, and he'd still be alive, along with 700 other Americans.” I encourage everyone to closely read the comments of Jon H. He truly represents the mindset of the liberal, if not even the mainstream, of the Democrat Party. Does he represent your perspective regarding Iraq and fighting the war of terrorism?
How many people agree with this sentiment? Let’s get to the nitty-gritty: this is the question each and every one of us must answer. Do you think the invasion of Iraq was necessary? I am convinced that it was. If you disagree---then you should vote for John Kerry, a wimpy man who will flake out at the slightest bit of trouble. The same individual who disgraced himself during the Vietnam era and did not back Ronald Reagan during the Cold War. Kerry is not a pig in a poke. He has a solidly established record of appeasement and finding excuses to do nothing. Our enemies want John Kerry to win the elction. This fact alone should give one pause.
Last but not least, I am growing increasingly ecstatic over events in Iraq. We have turned the corner. Moreover, the Iraqi people are learning to trust us more. Am I overly optimistic? Does anyone else agree with my rosy outlook?posted by: David Thomson on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Take off the blinders. Saddam clearly cooperated with islamic terrorists. What was Abu Nidal doing in Baghdad, and how and why did he manage to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head 3 times? What do you call support of Hamas suicide bombers? I suppose we should have just trusted Hussein not to pass on his chem-bio technology despite his willingness to assassinate a US president. Get real.
John H, I agree the US didn't fight the Nazis to free the jews. I'm saying that YOU wouldn't do it.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I don't have a rosy outlook. It is looking more and more like Iraq's Sunni Arabs will suffer the fate of Croatia's Serbs. While both richly deserve this, the chances of avoiding the really drastic solution to Arab and Arab-fostered terrorism will be diminished if we can't save Iraq's Sunni Arabs.
Scores of millions of Arabs will die in the next ten years from violence plus civil disorder related causes such as disease, exposure, starvation, etc., no matter what we do. Their tribal culture is thoroughly psychotic, and is being shattered by social and technological changes. Basically they have a de facto civil war going on. Many wealthy Arabs tried to target that towards us, but now we're driving the nutballs back into Arab countries where their violence is taking worse and worse forms, as in the recent unsuccessful attack in Amman, Jordan.
This is part of winning.
Losing means we up the body count by a factor of about ten through the eventual use of nuclear weapons to shatter their civil infrastructure as well as foster their social collapse. That would produce a much uglier and more dangerous world for us than the alternative we're trying now. We have a moral duty to do what we are doing now, which will also dramatically reduce our feelings of guilt should that fail and we end up resorting to nuclear weapons.
We also have to, absolutely have to, take out every nutball regime, especially Arab ones, which try to develop nuclear and biological WMD. Otherwise there will be a truly brutal spasm the first time those things are used on us.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
"In the meantime, it seems inescapable to me that Donald Rumsfeld should resign as Secretary of Defense. It's not just Abu Ghraib -- it's the whole damn Mongolian cluster-f#*k of the postwar occupation."
"it's the whole damn Mongolian cluster-f#*k of the postwar occupation."
Don't think Genghis Khan would appreciate the racist/ethnic slur, if he were alive, do you Mr. Drezner?
Which "postwar occupation" do you allude to here, Mr. Drezner?
'Recent' "postwar occupation", or from OUR (U.S.) Revolutionary Days?, Civil War Days? Europe?, Japan?, Korea?, Bosnia?, Kosovo? Afghanistan perhaps?
What "postwar occupation" has gone the way, ALL would want or planned?
How many Secretaries of Defense should be tarred with your brush? How many Presidents?
Wasn't the U.S 'occupied', PRE WAR, by terror elements prior to 9/11/01? '93 WTC bombing?
Isn't the U.S. still being 'occupied' by terror elements?
How many should we, (the U.S. citizenry) hold to blame, past and present?
Honestly, had I viewed things first hand such as, IED'S killing my friends and comrades in arms OR four of my fellow citizens being killed, roasted and hung off a bridge, I may have gotten a little testy with prisoners, some of whom could have had part in such things.
Let's get by the extremist ghouls and sympathizers of the world blaming the U.S. and place the blame squarely and directly. Religious Extremist Ghouls! Lets get the damn job done and stop worrying about whom HERE is to blame. The blame lies elsewhere.
posted by: Mongolian on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
“Rumsfeld, and the rest of the Bush administration's foreign policy team, face a clear choice. It can outsource peacekeeping functions to the United Nations or close allies, at the cost of some constraints on foreign policy implementation. It can minimize the U.N. role and develop/train its own peacekeeping force. Or it can do neither and run into trouble down the road.”
The above comment is most peculiar. It is premised upon the fatuous notion that our Old European allies and other wimpy socialist nations give a fat damn about fighting the war on terror. On the contrary, these folks have little interest whatsoever in performing “peacekeeping functions.” They are appeasers and prefer to evade their responsibilities. Dan Drezner needs to realize that we were inevitably going to “run into trouble down the road” unless we wished to sit around and do nothing. Waiting for our contemptible allies like Germany, Canada, and France---means that you are willing to wait until hell freezes over. Is that what our host unwittingly desires?posted by: David Thomson on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
David Thompson writes: "The above comment is most peculiar. It is premised upon the fatuous notion that our Old European allies and other wimpy socialist nations give a fat damn about fighting the war on terror."
Well, David, we're in no condition to be fighting the war on terror. We've got our hands more than full trying to keep Iraq's shit a little bit together.
If we're this busy and over-stretched in Iraq, then who *is* fighting the war on terror?
We've got some desultory efforts in Afghanistan, but that doesn't seem to be getting anywhere and US troops are still dying. And we're still relying on our oh-so-dependable friends, Pakistan, the "nuclear shopping mall" to watch the border.
Gosh, it'd be nice if we could be fighting the war on terror, and not worrying about Sadr and Iraqi oil production and painting schools, the rest of the irrelevant bullshit in Iraq.
Matthew Cromer wrote: "John H, I agree the US didn't fight the Nazis to free the jews. I'm saying that YOU wouldn't do it."
Did you support action in Bosnia and Kosovo?posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
David Thompson wrote: "The same individual who disgraced himself during the Vietnam era "
No, that would be the cowardly George "What, me see combat?" Bush, who pissed away his duty to his country.
One candidate is carrying shrapnel from combat. It's not George Bush.
Hell, even Jacque Chirac had the balls to serve in combat, in Algeria, where he was wounded.
Bush has no balls whatsoever. He's a crying, mewling coward.
He'd piss and shit his pants if he had to see combat.
Bush is a coward.posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I fear this dialogue has reached the levels of public hysteria - on both sides. On the right wing side we have responses ranging from denial, advocation of genocide, and viewing equally the threats of Iraq and WWII. On the left, there seems to be a willful willingness to in fact either openly cut and run, or advocate steps that would politically be tantamount to the same. Liberals seem to have lost all dimension of reflection on how big a failure Iraq would be if we failed to follow through. Conservatives seem to have no idea how close to failure we are if we fail to change course.
Poor Dan is being caught in the middle, unable to please either side.
My position is simple - I am in favor of what is best for the national security interests of the United States of America. If that meant personally babysitting Rumsfeld, feeding him the right ideas, and telling him when and how high to jump - and letting Rummy and Bush take all the credit for a victory not of their making - then I would be in favor of doing that. Bush's and Rummy's fates are irrelevant when compared to the stakes for this nation. They may have gotten us into this, but we've all got to get out.
On the other hand, people who are either wallowing in thoughts of genocide or whining about the tough press that is hurting the cause or think things are just swell when the uniformed military is starting to turn on this project (see Washington Post) ... well I have say: grow up.
I don't favor Kerry to win in November, indeed if we let this situation fester until January it may be totally fubared. It's not unwinnable yet, but it's rapidly approaching that point. If GWB would let somebody decent fix this, I'd head up a relection committee for him myself.
I am an old-fashioned torture-advocating, civil-rights-violating, racist, assassination-approving, Kissinger-fan, discrete-death-squad-using, military-hawk style conservative. However what's going on in Iraq is not good, and it's getting worse. According to the government's own report, electricity levels are declining. There are serious problems on the ground and we're losing political viability not gaining. The "good news" is that our position has been so weakened is that in order to pacify Fallujah we had to reconstitute Saddam's soldiers and generals flying his flag while driving down mainstreet Fallujah. Flying Saddam's flag!
We are in a serious position of hurt here, and if the President doesn't straighten out and get somebody to fix it then hell yes I will vote for Kerry - not because I have faith in Kerry but because personal accountibility still should mean something. Bush screwed this pooch, and he can stand by it or fall by it. On the other hand, if the President can put somebody in charge who knows what they're doing, then my vote is up for grabs.
The truth is that this situation will probably be sold up one way or another by the end of the year and the odds on success are looking longer by the day.posted by: Oldman on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
David Thompson writes: "Kerry is not a pig in a poke. He has a solidly established record of appeasement and finding excuses to do nothing. "
No, that would be Dick Cheney, who "had other priorities" than serving his country in Vietnam, and received a series of deferments.
Or maybe it was most of the other Republicans.posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Every right winger and conservative and neocon here ought to read this column and take it to heart. We are on the verge of failure, not because of a military defeat but because of political mismanagement.posted by: Oldman on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
David Brooks is grossly exaggerating. There are a number of Iraqis who will honor the insurgents---but they are not the majority. I spend many hours a week keeping abreast of the situation in Iraq. How am I coming to the exact opposite conclusion than so many others? Is there something in the water that I’m drinking? I’m just not getting all this pessimism. It seems that the worst is definitely behind us. Am I ready to declare total victory? No, but I remain very optimistic.posted by: David Thomson on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Look DT, not even Holsinger is backing you up on that one. He's just saying not to think of Iraq as a screw up because according to him we'll end up killing tens of millions of muslims before we're done in that region anyway. Maybe he's right, but I'd like to think there are still options at this point besides declaring failure okay because we'll do things that make that failure seem like spilling milk at the dinner table.
I don't know what kind of meds you are on, but if you think things are getting better when Newt Gringrich, George Will, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, a whole bunch of Pentagon and military officers (according to the WaPo), and David Brooks are starting to get nervous I suggest you check your Thorazine dosage because it might be a tad bit on the high side.posted by: Oldman on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Anyone remember "brutal afghan winter"? Didn't think so. Just more rabble-rousing from the peanut gallery. Some people have no stomach for what it takes.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
DT: "Is there something in the water that I’m drinking?"
Probably not, but the naturally-produced substances and metabolites in your cerebrospinal fluid are probably verrry interesting.posted by: Jon H on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
To summarize the right-wing crazy view, please correct me if I am getting any of this wrong:
"George Bush is a hero.
The man has shown courage in facing down the evil Sadaam Hussein. Sure he has more balls than brains, but what are brains needed for anyway?
Brains are just things that the chattering classes try to tell us we need. Everyone who is not a pansy appeaser Hitler lover pacifist fool will tell you that we had to invade Iraq. After all we are at war against Islamofacists. And if they look the same, hell, you know they are the same.
We need to look the other way when our nation's ideals are being destroyed because...well...because we are at war. And we didn't choose this war. Some monsters from Saudi Arabia, funded by Saudis, trained under the protection of Afganis decided to pick a fight with the USA. So clearly we had no choice but to invade Iraq.
They are all the same you know, these Islamofacists, and the only way we can win is by sacraficing our ideals and getting down to the dirty business of killing them all."
IS THAT ALL ABOUT RIGHT? Thank you right wing crazies for destroying my faith in democracy.posted by: Rich on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Three newly formed Infantry Divisions
PS: Rummy should Stay!!!posted by: Steve Read on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
'Am I overly optimistic? Does anyone else agree with my rosy outlook"?
For whatever its worth DT, I do.
Fallujah--it's not the way I'D a done it--but so far it looks like Bush just may have duct-taped and bailing-wired that situation into stability. Joint Iraqi/American patrols beats the hell out of Vietnamization in that it puts Iraqis in between bullets being aimed at Americans(Vietnamization had segregated forces). Homey now has additional motivation to turn in insurgents AND Iraqis get to take credit for the resulting stability.
I'll be more hopeful after Sadr breaks his sacred word of honor and ignores the deadline for turning himself in, the fifteenth of this month. Then US forces can take him out with the blessing of Shiite leadership which has already called for his removal.
Some things aren't happening that should be happening if things were going really wrong.
For one, there have been no stories about reconstruction not going on as planned. If the situation were really out of hand it would be fairly easy to mess that up--it isn't happening.
Secondly, we're not hearing reports of Iraqis fleeing from their home towns. Everyone is pretty much staying put. If the situation were unstable, that wouldn't be the case.
Finally, all we heard about was quagmire and chaos until the prison story broke, then nothing on that once the agenda-focused press had another horse to whip.
Gee, if things were really that bad you'd think the press could report both. Why didn't they? Because they know the quagmire stuff is a dog and they figure their prison story is better. Now it looks like the Berg execution story will neutralize that because the press that has been demanding full disclosure of all the evidence relating to the prison scandal is not gonna have an easy time giving equal time to the Berg execution.
I predict that the press will soon immediately return to the quagmire and chaos gig, but with less credibility. I'm waiting for the Sadr deadline to pass. Also I think those joint patrols started yesterday. If they are sucessful AND Sadr goes down on the 15th or soon thereafter, that will be a major corner turned.
In response to "Rich," the view that President Bush has no brains is associated with left-wing crazies, not right-wing. So is the view that we have to destroy our ideals if we are to fight the war on terrorism. The view that the invasion of Afghanistan never happened is associated neither with the left nor the right. It seems to be peculiar to Rich.
"When in doubt, panic" seems to be the name of the game here.
Though there's some mighty eloquent well-considered reasons to be panicky; which can pretty much be summed up as, "It ain't going the way I thought it oughta be going. And it sure ain't going perfect-like."
As for me, I'll dance with the gal who brung me...and thank the powers that be each night and each day that George W. Bush is serving as President of the US of A.posted by: Barry Meislin on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
...6...posted by: Tommy G on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Mr Meslin - great post, thanks
Mr. Matthew Cromer...Brilliant. And with respect, Professor, this is the "UPDATE" quote that you need to post on the subject header. It answers your absurd query.
"One more point
At some point, if we cannot win this war by forced reform in the Islamic world, we will suffer the attacks we cannot bear. Then our morality will be lost -- we will fight total war, the way we fought world war II, targeting civilian populations. And when we fight that way our morality truly does depart us.
Posted by Matthew Cromer at May 11, 2004 06:56 PM"
posted by: Arthur Wellesley on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
While "a pox on both your houses (left and right)" might feed the beast of "moderation", it's a bit to facile for this situation.
I've heard very few voices on the right saying Rumsfeld should get a medal for abuse of these prisoners, or that it's nothing at all to be concerned about. The issue is perspective - while this demands disciplinary action, it does NOT justify abandonment of the War on Terror.
To a great extent, the argument about Rumsfeld is NOT about how to win the war, but between those who believe the war should be fought and won and those who do not believe it should be fought at all.
For those arguing for a greater role for the United Nations ... I'm not aware the United Nations had demonstrated a record of success in dealing with matters such as this, and I don't see how giving a body in which Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, et. al - all governments which rule by controlling their peoples - would have an interest in seeing any sort of democracy arise in Iraq.
For those arguing for a greater role for Europe - meaning (I suspect) "Old" Europe - I don't see how giving states who are hostile to the United States (and who have much to gain by being more friendly to the Islamofascists than we are) a role in creating a new Iraq enhances our security.
If the current policy is in error, tell us how to attain its goals more efficiently.posted by: BradDad on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
D.T. and Rocketman,
Things are clearly getting better with the Shiites, who will determine the success of our occupation of Iraq. They have rejected subversion financed by Iran's mullahs. I said last year that the Shiites were the strategic center of gravity of our occupation campaign in Iraq.
So we'll achieve our goals in Iraq. My point was that Iraq is only one campaign in the war on terror, and that the doom coming for its Sunni Arabs will impede our democratization of the Sunni Arab majority elsewhere. This is hardly a sure thing either way, and there is something to be said for the benefits of a horrible example of the price of not cooperating with Americans.
The moaning and groaning here arises either from partisanship or a Hollywood view of reality. I warned Drezner he was going off the rails.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I think "the Old European allies and other wimpy socialist nations" do give a damn about the WOT. You would think Spain certainly does. By pulling their troops out of Iraq, aren't they just joining the ranks of Sullivan, Drezner & others who support the WOT, but no longer think the Bush team is the most competent architect of it?
(Moqtada is turning himself in on "fishing opener"? Not buying it.)posted by: wishIwuz2 on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
I beleive the phrase is Royal Mongolian cluster-f#*k, or RMCF for short. That is all.posted by: Chris Janak on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
Wrong Wrong Wrong!
The UN/international call you made ...well i just think you dont get that other relevant countries have diferent interests. The UN call will be a giant Moghadishu or a Rwanda because US will have had 80% of the troops and every country will have a veto to any US military operation. The "hornet nest" that will be a UN govermnement will be amazing with envoys making deals with Iraqui factions, or instead a paralyzing beaurocracy where troops have stupid ROE´s
posted by: lucklucky on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
\"Chattering Classes\" is a poor description of the international socialists.
A more succinct description is that they are bristly, sedentary, insecure, spineless, hermaphroditic, bottom dwelling annelids, which survive by sucking effluent into their oral orifice, leaching what paltry nutrition they can obtain, and spewing the remaining nutritionless crap out their anus.
Unfortunately many naive and/or brainwashed westerners commonly mistake these worms anal orifices for their mouths.
you can find more info on the annelids at appropriately enough, UC Berkley
and here is a site with pictures of the paranidae familia
"Yawn - are we still talking about this?
Oops. waitaminute: Incoming message.
Posted by Tommy G at May 6, 2004 09:31 PM"
posted by: Tommy G on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
...4...posted by: Tommy G on 05.11.04 at 11:18 AM [permalink]
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