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False Choices in Iraq
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday, President Bush said...
“You know, I hear people say, Well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.”
I fear this represents the thinking of a great many supporters of the Iraq war; this sense that voting equals democracy and that as long as Iraq has an elected government, then things must be acceptable. And if things break down? That's their problem. "Well," we'll say, "we gave it our best shot, but the poor buggers mucked it up. Tally ho, and all that. It doesn't mean the war was a bad idea!"
If we do not achieve our objectives, then we have lost the war.
Of course, that's exactly wrong. If we do not achieve our objectives, then we have lost the war. It's that simple.

Oh, sure, good things may still obtain. Bad guys may wind up dead, Iraq may wind up with a better class of tyranny, some nations (but probably not Iran) may be more careful with WMDs. Of course, if those were our objectives, there were almost certainly more effective and efficient ways to accomplish them. At the end of the day, the score is:

  • Destroy Saddam's WMDs: No. We merely discovered he didn't have them.

  • End the brutal Saddam regime: Yes. But will it be replaced with something better? Considering the intractable disputes between Sunnis and Shiites and the private militia's that are handling them, it may not be.

  • End Iraq's support for terrorism: Maybe. Again, we'll see.

  • Create a sustainable, non-Islamist democracy in the Middle East? Not yet.

Everything else is details. And some of those details are very ugly right now. The "outgoing British Ambassador to Iraq William Patey" said recently that a "low-intensity civil war in Iraq is more likely than the cementing of a sustainable transition to full democracy". And as Stratfor reported some months ago, the US "cannot really crack down on the Shiites, and the Shiites know it." What's more, that Shiite community "owes that organization to Iran" and "Iran’s goal is simple: Get the United States out of Iraq."

We are no longer 'in charge' in Iraq. At this point, I'm not sure what we'd do with 'more time'. We seem to be a useful agitation for the groups who get their energy from anti-Americanism; we're providing cover for the Shiite militias while they entangle themselves with the Iraqi security and political structure. Our presence gives the Sunni's breathing space to continue their conflict with the Shiites. Perhaps these things will work themselves out over time, but I'm not really seeing how the large US military presence is helping. It seems to me that a calculated (carrot/stick) balance of economic, diplomatic and security guarantees would be more effective at softening tensions and getting Iraqi's to 'buy in'.

Maybe I'm wrong about the utility of a large US military presence, but nobody has really made a convincing case to that effect — and 'don't be a cut-and-run quitter' is not that case.
stopping 'the next Hitler" is perhaps the best recipe possible for that bane of national interest foreign policy: overextension.
The appeasement that led to WWII has come up a couple times recently on this blog. While that's a useful history lesson, I'm not sure that it has universal applicability. Not all tyrants are absolutely undeterrable with anything short of war; in fact, very few are, and a broadly applied goal of stopping 'the next Hitler" is perhaps the best recipe possible for that bane of national interest foreign policy: overextension.

Some things, the heavy hand of government just can't do well. Which brings me to the von Mises quote cited below by McQ:
"The only way for a refutation of Nazism left for foreign nations ... was to defeat them in war."
Just a few sentences after that, Mises went on to write:
"There is no hope of eradication the aggression mentality if one does not explode entirely the ideological fallacies from which it stems. This is not a task for psychiatrists, but for economists."
the problems of the Middle East are primarily a task for capitalists and diplomats
Indeed, these may at times be a task for soldiers, but the problems of the Middle East are primarily a task for capitalists and diplomats. The tools of US soft power are much more capable of effecting genuine, positive change in a society than are the tools of US hard power.

Unfortunately, the state of US political discourse is such that we are mostly presented with false choices...
We absolutely must not abandon Iraq as we did Vietnam, grasping defeat from the jaws of victory.
Mr. Bush’s cheerleading encourages the illusion that it is just a matter of time and American support before Iraq evolves into a stable democracy. The Democratic timetable spins a different fantasy: that if the Iraqis are told that American troops will be leaving in stages, at specific dates, their government will rise to the occasion and create its own security forces to maintain order.
Iraq may still be partially won or lost, but we're past the point at which the US military can guide that process. We absolutely must not abandon Iraq as we did Vietnam, grasping defeat from the jaws of victory. But nor is an occupation without metrics or consequences a particularly effective 'course' to stay.
 
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NOW I see why Jon likes Mona. She is the queen of straw man arguments and Jon is a willing acolyte. Take for instance: Jon says: “Our goal was to destroy Saddam’s WMDs.”
No, our goal was to eliminate the threat of those WMDs. Did we do that? Yes, big time. Is the difference a slight rhetorical difference?
An accident of phrasing by Jon? I don’t think so.
The “Yes, but…” Speaks for itself. There never was a guarantee. You end the bad and do your best to see that the replacement is better. Sometimes, due to events beyond your control, that doesn’t happen. Only act when you are certain of the outcome?
At any rate, the only use one can have for arguments that we have failed to achieve the goals we set when we started out is to discredit those in charge. The real issue is what do we do now. Now you can see the rationale behind getting rid of Lieberman. “Vote for the party that didn’t bring you Viet…sorry, Iraq. Come on , Boomers, quickly review our revised, tested, seamless narrative and our new, greenhorn candidates. Make sense? Vote it.
I have no problem with the politics. I just hate to see it presented as factual information. The bar for replacing current policies should be higher. Vetting the perfect narrative while ignoring or papering over inconvenient facts is a fool’s project.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
And remember Robert, Abu Ghraib is just like the old Soviet Gulags - well, as Jon once admonished me, except for the temperature.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
It’s like buying insurance and being disappointed your house didn’t flood after all.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Bains, I didn’t really understand your comment. Just for the record, let us list the valid reasons for bringing up Abu Ghraib. 1. Political. I presume that is your reason in this context - sort of a "let’s just say the words" thing.
Then there is 2. historical. Also, 3. a response to anyone who says America or its troops never screw up. 4. A reason why someone in the middle east would distrust Americans. Some others.
Perhaps readers need a reminder that the soldiers who perpetrated the crimes at Abu Ghraib were not 100% Republicans? That they were actually people who were likely to be politically uninformed? Politically uncaring? Certainly not MK’s "our boys".
According to some Abu Ghraib was not an aberration. There was.... and ..... hey! and the torture and the ...[fill in the tired tirade of terrible things] Yes, bad stuff happens in war. Unfortunately, bad stuff happens on our streets. And in our homes. So why waste my time saying "Abu Ghraib"? I’ll tell you why. Because it is part and parcel of the narrative that will get Democrats elected. Dupe. You are not getting paid for this.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Of course I agree with Jon’s concluding paragraph. Jon has it right. He just tries to squeeze Democrats [as a class] [by supporting the liberal narrative] in there where they don’t belong and that is irritating.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
We absolutely must not abandon Iraq as we did Vietnam, grasping defeat from the jaws of victory. But nor is an occupation without metrics or consequences a particularly effective ’course’ to stay.
Jon:

I generally agree with your analysis of the problem. But I don’t know what you are advocating as a solution.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Henke wrote:
"But nor is an occupation without metrics or consequences a particularly effective ’course’ to stay."
I can not think why, with Muqtada al Sadr’s compound just raided, you think there are no consequences. I cannot believe you were so dishonest as to imply there are no metrics.

I presume you simply aren’t happy with the metrics being used, and conflate that with there being no metrics?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
David S. wrote:
I generally agree with your analysis of the problem. But I don’t know what you are advocating as a solution.
When he has a plan, I’m sure he’ll let us know.

In the meantime, the plan is to incentive political cooperation with security and cash and disincentivize extracurricular militias by killing them when its within the ROE.

It may take 1 year, it may take 20. It has never failed to work when the greater power is steadfast.
"We absolutely must not abandon Iraq as we did Vietnam"
This implies he realizes we must be steadfast.

All other grousing is for the purpose of increasing letter after elected officials names which he likes better, D’s instead of R’s.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Good thing these reports to Congress provide us with some metrics then...

http://www.defenselink.mil/home/features/Iraq_Reports/Index.html

One score you forgot to mention, liberalizing the Iraqi Economy. May not have been a goal going into Iraq, but it is certainly a goal for trying to stablize the country.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
No, our goal was to eliminate the threat of those WMDs. Did we do that? Yes, big time.
I considered discussing the future tense, as well, but dismissed it because we still don’t really know what kind of regime will stand up in Iraq. The WMD future is uncertain, despite your "big time" pronouncements.
I generally agree with your analysis of the problem. But I don’t know what you are advocating as a solution.
Very generally, I believe we should recognize that the problem is far past a military solution, draw way down in Iraq leaving only a support and training contingent well ’out of sight’ of the population, and offer substantive carrots and sticks to a democratic government. That is, as long as the Iraqi government is roughly democratic, we should offer them economic, diplomatic and security guarantees in order to incentivize useful behaviour. If they’re going to fight for awhile regardless of US interests, then we might as well get out of the way and take steps to ensure that the eventual government is better than it might otherwise be.
I cannot believe you were so dishonest as to imply there are no metrics.
Of course there are some metrics. "We did [X]! Eventually!" But what metrics are combined with what consequences? Since the occupation began, our position has been that these things will happen when they happen. That’s allowed competing groups in Iraq to institutionalize civil war on our dime.
It may take 1 year, it may take 20. It has never failed to work when the greater power is steadfast.
We don’t have 20 years.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Jon Henke wrote:
"We don’t have 20 years."
Post 9/11, we had to have a more proactive engagement in the ME against Wahhabism and it’s offshoots. HAD TO. Feel free to support disagreement with facts and argument.

No matter where we became more involved in the ME, the effort had to be successful. HAD TO. Again feel free to disagree.

I submit that there is no other nation on earth where we had a better opportunity to "involve" ourselves in the ME than Iraq than Afghanistan (which nation is of course fairly well in hand). We had long established casus belli, boots on near ground, and sea lanes for transport of heavy forces which we could keep open.

No such casus belli and relative weakness existed with Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan. When it came to targets, Iraq was it.

Feel free to support disagreement with facts and argument.

Compared to another "Vietnam" in the era of Wahhabism and the Islamabomb, we have 20 years, especially at these historically low rates of loss.

We have 20 years if we need it. I’d guess it will still take no more than 3 to 5 at worst—and may yet be over in 1. We’ve yet to see how Muqtada al’Sadr takes this weekend’s intruction.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Jon,

I don’t buy any of the reason that the administration advocated for going to war with Iraq. I think that the reasons are far deeper than the eye can see.

WMD - We knew before going to war with Iraq that Iraq didn’t have any WMDs, zip, zilch, nada. We have been flying missions over Iraq continously for over 13 years. UN inspectors have been inspecting all potential WMD sites in Iraq and they have pretty much eliminated all WMDs...Just out of curiosity, How many US soliders did you see wear any kind of WMD gear in their push to Baghdad ?? I didn’t see any

Overthrow Saddam - We already had him bottled up and he was no threat to *anyone*, least of all, the US. He was a brutal dictator and all that..But I guess that every administration since GW I, had a tacit understanding that it takes a "brutal" dictator to rule Iraq and keep the nation under control...

So, why did we go into Iraq ?

- Remove our troops from Saudi Arabia. I guess that our presence in that country was indeed offending lotsa muslims (not the OBL type, but the average joe-pack)
- End the Sunni domination of the Arabian peninsula. Shias are the majority in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain. Shias are a significant minority in Saudi Arabia too. They (Shias) are in majority in the oil-rich eastern part.

The end of Sunni domination in the peninsula is what will transform the middle-east going forward. It may not pay-off in the short run, but it will, in the long run..
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Ivan, I saw many soldiers wearing gas masks and protective equipment, hell they even found some iraqi gas masks and equipment. You assertion that "We knew before going to war with Iraq that Iraq didn’t have any WMDs" is delusional.

But I feel like I should add to this discussion the fact that the "cost" of staying in Iraq is getting cheaper as fatalities continue to drop. Hostile deaths in the last few months have been 62, 60, 49, and 44 in july.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
Very generally, I believe we should recognize that the problem is far past a military solution, draw way down in Iraq leaving only a support and training contingent well ’out of sight’ of the population, and offer substantive carrots and sticks to a democratic government. That is, as long as the Iraqi government is roughly democratic, we should offer them economic, diplomatic and security guarantees in order to incentivize useful behaviour. If they’re going to fight for awhile regardless of US interests, then we might as well get out of the way and take steps to ensure that the eventual government is better than it might otherwise be.
I think you are correct.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Post 9/11, we had to have a more proactive engagement in the ME against Wahhabism and it’s offshoots. HAD TO. Feel free to support disagreement with facts and argument.

Whoah. In the face of the impressive facts you’ve brought to support your argument, I don’t see how anybody could disagree. [/sarcasm]
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
It was a non sequitur Robert, as uncalled for as Jon’s opening paragraph.

When one is driven by an intense dislike for another, it’s not uncommon to see gratuitous barbs intermingled within ones argument against the other. I suspect that Henke is developing the worldview prism through which the likes of Mona see things. Not BDS, rather a compulsion to paint Bush and what he is trying to do, in the most negative light.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Post 9/11, we had to have a more proactive engagement in the ME against Wahhabism and it’s offshoots. HAD TO. Feel free to support disagreement with facts and argument.
I agree.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Well Wulf, other than what we had been doing, which permitted 9/11 to happen, and other than what we did do, what would you have proposed?

No sarcasm, what you got?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
My only point, Tom, was only that you called for facts but didn’t bring any. It’s very similar to the argument made by those who believe in Intelligent Design. It just isn’t very persuasive or edifying, even if it is true.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Wulf, the statement of mine which you quoted is self evidently true without evidence.

I assert that, take it or leave it.

My point, if in fact it escaped you, is to hammer home to Jon and anyone reading this that were in fact few if any reasonable alternatives to the course chosen.

I’m fairly sure Jon won’t try to lie to us right while we’re looking at him.

Jon wrote:
"But nor is an occupation without metrics or consequences a particularly effective ’course’ to stay."
There are metrics, and lead on target is the most effective consequence that could be brought to bear. The most Jon can say for himself is that he meant he didn’t like the metrics or consequences he’s seen so far.

Hence the invitations for him to be specific, and to provide evidence.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
You people are a riot. Really. Mona is Greenwald’s acolyte and, as Goldstein puts it with his obsession for distasteful sexual put-down, his "intellectual concubine." In turn, Jon Henke is my acolyte and he is coming to see the world through my "prism."

Acolytes Anonymous, Jon and I are coming.[/sarcasm]

Jon Henke and I do not, by any means, agree on everything. Nor do I and Greenwald. All three of us are independent thinkers who, on some issues, have come to some proximate accord. See Svengali machinations afoot in that if you like, but that is simply delusional.

You might try trashing the ad hominems and engage what we actually argue, but I suppose it is more fun to attack our motives and claim we are in thralldom to one another. Whatever.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
that were in fact few if any reasonable alternatives to the course chosen.
No? So we couldn’t have pushed on for just a few more months at the Security Council, or called for another vote as Bush promised? We couldn’t have continued the policy of containment vis a vis Iraq, and pursued an alliance against Iran? We couldn’t have made the Israel/Palestinian conflict our first priority? Hell, we could have even made a bargain with Saddam, opened Iraq up to more trade and used them as a bulwark against Iran.

I’m not necessasrily advocating those choices, but let’s not pretend that we only had the "invade and occupy Iraq in early 2003" option.

As far as metrics go, I think you’re confusing "accomplishments" for deadlines and consequences. At every step, we’ve subsidized the Iraqi’s own project, rather than letting them bear the consequences of failure. That is, inclusively, a leadership failure from the administration. The US electorate would be more likely to support the project if the President gave clear outlines of what to expect and when, how we would react if that failed, and who would pay the price for failure. CEOs don’t give their teams instructions to "get it done, you know, whenever"; nation-building should not be virtually open-ended.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Mona:

Jon Henke wrote:
"Iraq may still be partially won or lost, but we’re past the point at which the US military can guide that process."
Could the US forces in Iraq be drawn to essentially 0 within the next week or not? Should they be increased by 100% or even 10% or not in a month’s time? Should they stay essentially the same over a month’s time? Are the metrics Jon claimed (at best hyperbolically) don’t exist good ones or not?

If not, which metrics do you like better, whether in addition to or in place thereof?

What consequences for good behavior do you like better than construction, cash, and a reliable military force? What consequences for bad behavior do you propose a military at war should offer other than lead and detainment?

If you have a decent argument, it’ll stand on its own whether or not we’re a riot.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
My only point, Tom, was only that you called for facts but didn’t bring any. It’s very similar to the argument made by those who believe in Intelligent Design. It just isn’t very persuasive or edifying, even if it is true.

Written By: Wulf


IIRC, 9/11 was a fact. As was the US ME diplomacy/action leading up to 9/11.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
You people are a riot. Really. Mona is Greenwald’s acolyte and, as Goldstein puts it with his obsession for distasteful sexual put-down, his "intellectual concubine." In turn, Jon Henke is my acolyte and he is coming to see the world through my "prism."

Acolytes Anonymous, Jon and I are coming.[/sarcasm]

Jon Henke and I do not, by any means, agree on everything. Nor do I and Greenwald. All three of us are independent thinkers who, on some issues, have come to some proximate accord. See Svengali machinations afoot in that if you like, but that is simply delusional.

You might try trashing the ad hominems and engage what we actually argue, but I suppose it is more fun to attack our motives and claim we are in thralldom to one another. Whatever.
Mona/Hypatia:

You and your puppeteer Greenwald have squandered your credibility with independent-minded people. Stop whining and wrapping yourself in victimhood. It’s no one’s fault but your own. Greenwald is probably beyond hope but if you want your status to change, cease acting as a sychophant to self-promoting frauds like Greenwald. And, please, stop insulting the intelligence of people who see through the machinations of the Grand (But Temporary) Alliance between Democrats and libertarians (which you have been deputized to further).
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
So we couldn’t have pushed on for just a few more months at the Security Council, or called for another vote as Bush promised?
To what point?
We couldn’t have continued the policy of containment vis a vis Iraq, and pursued an alliance against Iran?
The ’containment’ that worked so well (I recall a UN scandal involving Russia and France)?

We could have done that, of course, but we had less basis for an alliance against Iran.
We couldn’t have made the Israel/Palestinian conflict our first priority?
That worked so well for Clinton’s legacy.

Really, diplomacy with the Palestinians is doomed to fail without a big stick hanging over their heads. I frankly see no point in involving in this conflict except to aid Israel. Everything else is just pandering for a peace prize and a lull to the next infatada.
Hell, we could have even made a bargain with Saddam, opened Iraq up to more trade and used them as a bulwark against Iran.
Post GW1, this was probably off the table. Absent that, it might make some sense.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Jon and Mona, are you having fun?

The fallacy of total control: the limitations of fear, pain, and threats in ensuring a stable world/beneficial outcomes/even one’s own survival: the ability to differentiate between hostility and genuine threat: these things are the baseline. People attracted to conservative blogs don’t understand these concepts, don’t want to deal with them, and don’t *have* to deal with them in our virtual-reality world.

Tom Perkins:

the best option would have been to never have invaded Iraq. It remains an inherently destructive and radicalizing action. In order to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior - and more specifically, avoid consistently punishing behavior that is, in the available spectrum of the average ME citizen, less than as bad as it could be, less than threatening - we could easily have hunted whatever terrorists that existed in Iraq using incursions from Kurdistan. The effective equation is to kill people shooting at us or actively involved in planning to blow us up, and nobody else. We’re not following it.

However, since we can’t go back in time, a great strategy to use in Iraq right now would add both leverage and coherence - something we have neither of right now. A good strategy would involve ""agreements"" between Shiites, Sunnis and ourselves to stop the immediate carnage and total disintegration of the state. It would certainly involve the end of US action against the Sunni insurgency, which we have not defeated and have no plans to defeat, and probably the withdrawal of US forces to Kurdistan, in exchange for a Shiite promise to end the death squads, and a Sunni promise to end aggressive actions against either the US military in Kurdistan (unlikely anyway) and Shiite civilians.

It’s not complicated. Everyone stop shooting at everyone, with the carrot of US withdrawal and the stick of the situation continuing as it is. Like most cease-fires, it would probably break, and we’d have to patch it up, maybe more than once. At this point, it may also be too late to avoid partitioning, a la Berlin, Dublin, or the West Bank and Israel.

But we will never see a cease-fire to the civil war in Iraq unless we are willing to cease fire ourselves. And we will never build any form of state there under the current carnage.

Most of the conservatives here hardly remember the need to actually build a state here at some point. Stopping the violence is the first part of that. It seems we can’t stop the violence by killing people until they stop killing us and each other.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I assert that, take it or leave it.

Again, that’s not a very compelling "argument". Your metric for success is dead insurgents, based on your “lead on target” comment. My metric for failure is live insurgents. But this does not in the least mean that we must agree on how to proceed, especially in the long term. Our military is very good at flinging lead and winning battles, but it is not self-evident that this is our only course available. I don’t imagine it would be very useful to argue about it, considering your ID position on Iraq. Take that or leave it.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
David, sometimes you seem to be a reasonable person, but you’re really a psycho when it comes to Greenwald. People bring him up because they like his arguments, and they don’t really care about your personal vendetta. Trying to herd people to Never Speak His Name Again is a waste of time.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
The effective equation is to kill people shooting at us or actively involved in planning to blow us up, and nobody else. We’re not following it.
So, who has ever followed that ’equation"?
A good strategy would involve ""agreements"" between Shiites, Sunnis and ourselves to stop the immediate carnage and total disintegration of the state. It would certainly involve the end of US action against the Sunni insurgency, which we have not defeated and have no plans to defeat, and probably the withdrawal of US forces to Kurdistan, in exchange for a Shiite promise to end the death squads, and a Sunni promise to end aggressive actions against either the US military in Kurdistan (unlikely anyway) and Shiite civilians.
Sounds like the succesful diplomacy of Jimmy Carter. We stop shooting and the promise. Cute.
It’s not complicated. Everyone stop shooting at everyone,
It has always been that simple. Somehow it never quite works out.
with the carrot of US withdrawal and the stick of the situation continuing as it is.
Or the stick of US withdrawal and the carrot of the situation continuing as it is, as the case may be.
But we will never see a cease-fire to the civil war in Iraq unless we are willing to cease fire ourselves.
We better not elect that stupid cowboy Reagan. He might provoke the Soviets.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Some things to think about:

The origins of Al-Quieda: a brief primer

General
a) Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalism
b) failure of economic development & political liberalization in Arab states

Specific
c) Muslim Brotherhood torture at the hands of Egyptian secret services
d) indiscriminate and wanton "total war" strategy of USSR in invasion of Afghanistan
e) long-term guerilla war in Afghanistan


Jon Henke draws the conclusion - the same conclusion the George Bush fuzzily grasps in trying to set up a democratic government in Iraq - that long guerilla wars and excessive brutality against civlian populations both in and out of said wars is a catalyst for psychotic terrorist groups.

He then goes onto suggest that we are no longer effectively leading away from chronic instability/guerilla war and excessive brutality in the ME - we’re egging it on.

He’s right.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. It’s an old rule, and it’s almost always true, historically.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
David, sometimes you seem to be a reasonable person, but you’re really a psycho when it comes to Greenwald. People bring him up because they like his arguments, and they don’t really care about your personal vendetta. Trying to herd people to Never Speak His Name Again is a waste of time.
Glasnost: I guess that means I’m reasonable when you agree with me, huh? I guess that also means you think highly of Greenwald. Well, here’s the deal: If you like Greenwald’s "ideas" go to his blog and read all about them. I come here to Q&O in part because I don’t like liars and frauds. If you are one yourself, I won’t like you either. And I will let you know. Freedom of speech, you know.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
It has always been that simple. Somehow it never quite works out.

Historically incorrect.

We better not elect that stupid cowboy Reagan. He might provoke the Soviets

He didn’t invade Iran, either. Nor Lebanon. Hey, not Libya, either. Nor did he, as I recall, invade the Soviet Union. But hey, I’m sure George Bush’s approach is working a whole lot better. Ask anyone... wait. Never mind. Learn the difference between "provoke the Soviet Union" and "create armed chaos en masse across the world" and get back to me.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Indeed, these may at times be a task for soldiers, but the problems of the Middle East are primarily a task for capitalists and diplomats. The tools of US soft power are much more capable of effecting genuine, positive change in a society than are the tools of US hard power.
We face serious problems with Muslim radicals in England and Western Europe. This leads me to think that your ideas on soft power will not solve the problem, at least not very quickly.

The same can be said of the neocon bring-democracy-to-Iraq approach. In fact, with respect to Iraq the invasion might be a necessary precurser to a US soft power approach, so you might be closer to Bush than you think.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
that were in fact few if any reasonable alternatives to the course chosen.
No? So we couldn’t have pushed on for just a few more months at the Security Council, or called for another vote as Bush promised?
Which would have accomplished ... what, exactly?
We couldn’t have continued the policy of containment vis a vis Iraq, and pursued an alliance against Iran?
Advocating "containment" while more decisive options are on the table strikes me as a prime example of confusing bugs with features. Why "contain" what you can eradicate? During most of the Cold War, we had no choice; the USSR was simply too big and too powerful for anything but containment to be a realistic option. That obviously wasn’t the case in Iraq, so I’m not sure why anyone other than Saddam himself would prefer containment to regime change under the circumstances.

That issue aside, I don’t think indefinite containment was a real option anyway. Pressure was already mounting to lift the sanctions on "humanitarian" grounds, and had been for years. They weren’t going to stay in effect forever, and probably wouldn’t be in effect by now. Once they were gone, Hussein would have swiftly reconstituted his WMD, and we’d be back to the status quo ante.
We couldn’t have made the Israel/Palestinian conflict our first priority?
We didn’t exactly ignore Israel and Palestine at the time. Besides, Saddam was one of the major contributors to Palestinian murders of Israelis, so taking him out of the picture surely couldn’t have hurt the effort. What exactly could we have done about Israel and Palestine in 2003, but didn’t do because we were bogged down in Iraq?
Hell, we could have even made a bargain with Saddam, opened Iraq up to more trade and used them as a bulwark against Iran.
We tried that once before, and the results were, to put things lightly, less than stellar.
I’m not necessasrily advocating those choices, but let’s not pretend that we only had the "invade and occupy Iraq in early 2003" option.
No one’s pretending that. Tom didn’t say invading Iraq was the only option. At most, he suggested that it may have been the only reasonable one. Citing two unreasonable options, an unworkable one and a fourth that ignores Iraq entirely does little to refute that.
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/
Jon Henke’s post is in block quotes:
No? So we couldn’t have pushed on for just a few more months at the Security Council, or called for another vote as Bush promised?
You’d need to refresh my memory of the wording of that "promise". Then you’d have to show how further Security Concil debate would have profited us.
We couldn’t have continued the policy of containment vis a vis Iraq, and pursued an alliance against Iran?
You mean like we are having to do now out of relative weakness (forces being profitably occupied elsewhere, they have nukes now, and then Ahmadinejad wasn’t heard from yet)? When absent our going into Iraq, there was little enough recent history to think we were serious? When in fact "multilateral" action via the UN is reasonably synonymous with unseriousness? Isn’t going in multilaterally without the UN what we did?

And no, we could not have morally maintained the embargo against Iraq. Invading them was a more moral choice.
We couldn’t have made the Israel/Palestinian conflict our first priority?
The best and most immediate casus belli lay with Iraq. Or do you propose we in fact dispense with international law? Do you propose we’d have an easier time patrolling Gaza and Damascus than Baghdad? Or Karachi and its mountainous hinterlands? And then—going into Palestine—we’d actually be responding to 9/11 in such a way as to make Al Qaeda’s recruiting job very easy.
Hell, we could have even made a bargain with Saddam, opened Iraq up to more trade and used them as a bulwark against Iran.
I can’t believe even you are so unstrategic and immoral as to propose this.
I’m not necessasrily advocating those choices, but let’s not pretend that we only had the "invade and occupy Iraq in early 2003" option.
You are either pretending we had other, probably better choices or you aren’t. So which is it?
As far as metrics go, I think you’re confusing "accomplishments" for deadlines and consequences.
I think deadlines of the sort that have been discussed are idiotic and consequences of the most grave sort possible are in effect.

What are your deadlines, what are your consequences?
At every step, we’ve subsidized the Iraqi’s own project, rather than letting them bear the consequences of failure.
I rather think the death toll they’ve seen so far, relative to the gains it has brought them, have brought the Sunni chiefs into the political process. Only a few religiously motivated holdouts remain, and we’ve begun to hit them. Only incentives and disincentives can work, and frankly our absence removes the most effective disincentive we can bring to bear on the issue. What do you call "letting them bear the consequences of failure" which is also a win for us?
That is, inclusively, a leadership failure from the administration. The US electorate would be more likely to support the project if the President gave clear outlines of what to expect and when, how we would react if that failed, and who would pay the price for failure.
Clear outlines of what to expect and when to expect it cannot be had. If the President were to give them, then he would either be a liar or a fool. Instead of timeline and deadlines, goals and pass/fail judgements are a better way to look at this.

And all the while, the Iraqi people are bearing the price for their onging if improving "failure". I don’t know there are higher prices than what they are paying, it’s certainly higher than the price we’re paying.
CEOs don’t give their teams instructions to "get it done, you know, whenever"; nation-building should not be virtually open-ended.
If you can show the goals and associated pass/fail judgements are inappropriate, please do so. If you can show how deadlines are not an invitation to the enemies there to lay low and build resources until until their "Tet", please do so.

CEOs work in an environment where human life and property are respected, and success is measured by a balance sheet.

I think an idiot named McNamara tried to bring such bean counting to the Pentagon’s efforts before.

I do not want his success reified in Iraq.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
That issue aside, I don’t think indefinite containment was a real option anyway. Pressure was already mounting to lift the sanctions on "humanitarian" grounds, and had been for years. They weren’t going to stay in effect forever, and probably wouldn’t be in effect by now. Once they were gone, Hussein would have swiftly reconstituted his WMD, and we’d be back to the status quo ante.
Right. And spending billions of dollars, the loss of going on 3,000 American troops, the maiming of tens of thousands more, all to install a Shiite mullahcracy that may well end up a satellite of Iran, that was the wisest course possible (and those who warned this was the likely result remain defeatist traitors whom we should continue to dismiss as such). We have 140,000 troops in a Middle East that is poised to go up in regional conflagration, in part because the Lebanese Cedar Revolution — purportedly a benefit of our invading Iraq — is now destroyed.

Obviously introducing guns and bombs and deposing Islamic tyrants engenders results that are in this nation’s interest. As they like to say at NRO, "faster, please." We are getting so much safer and at so little cost or risk.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Historically incorrect.
For example?
He didn’t invade Iran, either. Nor Lebanon. Hey, not Libya, either. Nor did he, as I recall, invade the Soviet Union.
He did send Marines to Lebanon, invade Granada, and support wars in Afganistan, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.

But your talking points so remind me of Carter that Reagan sprang to mind.
Jon Henke draws the conclusion - the same conclusion the George Bush fuzzily grasps in trying to set up a democratic government in Iraq - that long guerilla wars and excessive brutality against civlian populations both in and out of said wars is a catalyst for psychotic terrorist groups.
Historically, the best way to deal with insurgents has been brutal crackdowns. That worked with the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, the Palestinians in Jordon, with the cult of the Assasins, and throughout history as applied by the Romans, Soviets, Mongols, Spaniards, etc.

We have trouble with it, because it involves activities we deplore, but in fact it is historically effective.
Live by the sword, die by the sword. It’s an old rule, and it’s almost always true, historically
Of course—historically almost everyone lived by the sword. There are exceptions, like Ghandi’s disasterous advice that Hindus not resist Muslim violence (resulting in many, many deaths).

Live by the sword—die by the sword.

Live in peace—die by the sword. Just sooner.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"Our military is very good at flinging lead and winning battles, but it is not self-evident that this is our only course available. I don’t imagine it would be very useful to argue about it, considering your ID position on Iraq."
I have no "ID" position in Iraq, go build your strawman somewhere else. It is evident you have no argument of substance to make.

To pick apart your idiocy in brief, when people are using high explosives in quantity in politics, you don’t get anywhere with only police.

And first you have to have the police.

An army can keep enough of those police alive while they are being trained for them to begin to be effective. They can also follow up tips dropped by people tired of washing what’s left of children off of sidewalks.

Post Saddam, that army was going to be our army—hence today.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Right. And spending billions of dollars, the loss of going on 3,000 American troops, the maiming of tens of thousands more, all to install a Shiite mullahcracy that may well end up a satellite of Iran, that was the wisest course possible (and those who warned this was the likely result remain defeatist traitors whom we should continue to dismiss as such). Mona
I don’t think anyone thought it would be a low cost undertaking. Whether it works out well or not remains to be seen.

Those opposed to the undertaking generally have, at a minimum, their heads in the sand with respect to the threats we face. The result is that I don’t see a viable alternative to the Bush administration.

This is not to say Bush’s invasion was the right thing to do. Rather, it’s to say that his detractors have no viable plan, at least none I’ve seen.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
If you can show the goals and associated pass/fail judgements are inappropriate, please do so. If you can show how deadlines are not an invitation to the enemies there to lay low and build resources until until their "Tet", please do so.
Tom, just as the situation before us is not in many salient respects analogous to 1930s Europe, neither is it to Vietnam. The Prime Minster of Iraq — the benficiary of the democracy we’ve spilled much blood to install — yesterday severely denounced the United States military for its attempts to control the Shiite violence in Iraq. Said Shiites marched in the tens of thousands last week in Baghdad, demanding "Death to America." These are the people we supposedly liberated, who have repeatedly gone to the polls, and who were supposed to be to be supremely grateful for it.

Over at Iraq the Model, Mohammed just wrote that his family has caved in and paid a sectarian militia for security. He himself is daydreaming about how he might have to kill people to defend his family, something he has never done before. The violent, chaotic state of affairs in Baghdad is driven by sectarian animosities, and we cannot kill them all. Well, we could, and call that "victory," but there would be no Iraq left in any meaningful sense.

 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
I seem to remember quite a lot of deadlines and accomplishments that have been accomplished on the political track.


Election of Transitional Assembly
Referendum on Constitution
Elections
Forming the elected body.

Those were all laid out in a plan, with dates on which to accomplish them. Now, except for the last one, the Iraqis did meet every goal.

And Tom has it right, the Iraqis live and die daily, with the consequences of our collective failures.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Right. And spending billions of dollars, the loss of going on 3,000 American troops, the maiming of tens of thousands more, all to install a Shiite mullahcracy that may well end up a satellite of Iran, that was the wisest course possible (and those who warned this was the likely result remain defeatist traitors whom we should continue to dismiss as such). Mona
I don’t think anyone thought it would be a low cost undertaking. Whether it works out well or not remains to be seen.

Those opposed to the undertaking generally have, at a minimum, their heads in the sand with respect to the threats we face. The result is that I don’t see a viable alternative to the Bush administration.

This is not to say Bush’s invasion was the right thing to do. Rather, it’s to say that his detractors have no viable plan, at least none I’ve seen.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The Prime Minster of Iraq — the benficiary of the democracy we’ve spilled much blood to install — yesterday severely denounced the United States military for its attempts to control the Shiite violence in Iraq. Mona
I recently read some posts from a USMC officier just back from Iraq. His position is that civil war in Iraq would be a good thing, and what we need to do is let the Shiites go to work on the Sunni insurgents.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Glasnost is wrong in large things and wrong in details, for example.

"He didn’t invade Iran, either. Nor Lebanon. Hey, not Libya, either. Nor did he, as I recall, invade the Soviet Union."

He did little to Iran, which has permitted them to develop into the threat they are now. Nevertheless, I think he appropriately rated his priorities, Sovs first.

He did invade Lebanon. He gave the Marines idiotic ROEs which got us driven out after a few hunded pounds of explosives killed a few hundred Marines. This failure of Reagan’s is part of the chain of failed policies and approaches to the Islamist threat which Pres. Bush is not continuing.

Libya, he bombed. He killed Q’Dhaffi’s six year old daughter, if I recall. Libya did not come to the table until GW’s term.

And he didn’t need to invade the Soviets because we beat them, in part because he made it credible that if push came to shove, he would invade them. Heard of the Lehman Doctrine?
It has always been that simple. Somehow it never quite works out.

Historically incorrect.
Actually, there has been a winner and loser in most wars in history, at least, in real, actual history. I don’t know what you imagine, glasnost.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Dubya -
"You know, I hear people say, Well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box."
For years I argued against those who thought Bush was a shallow idiot incapable of letting the facts change his opinions.

No more.

Who exactly does he think the death squads are that are drilling holes in the heads of the carbombing noble purple-fingered Sunni other than the Islamist Shiite militias that flocked to the polls because a vote was the 1st stage to ethnic cleansing??

Yet Jon says:
Iraq may still be partially won or lost, but we’re past the point at which the US military can guide that process. We absolutely must not abandon Iraq as we did Vietnam, grasping defeat from the jaws of victory. But nor is an occupation without metrics or consequences a particularly effective ’course’ to stay.
If a full Civil War breaks out, we should step to the side if we have to by recognizing the American involvement in Iraq went tremendously bad due to American ignorance, ineptitude, and fighting war on the cheap. The last thing the American public wants at this stage is more troops in Iraq or using our guys as sacrificial cannon fodder by interposing them between lunatic Shiite barbarians and butchering fanatic Sunnis to "save their noble, democracy-loving, freedom-hungry" asses.

Hate to say it, but Hillary is right. Rumsfeld should go. We need a fresh team at Defense, one immunized from Cheney and the surviving neocons.
Ivan, I saw many soldiers wearing gas masks and protective equipment, hell they even found some iraqi gas masks and equipment. You assertion that "We knew before going to war with Iraq that Iraq didn’t have any WMDs" is delusional.

But I feel like I should add to this discussion the fact that the "cost" of staying in Iraq is getting cheaper as fatalities continue to drop. Hostile deaths in the last few months have been 62, 60, 49, and 44 in july.

Written By: ChrisB
No WMD threat. Anyone that still asserts otherwise is a blind ideologue. We didn’t know before the war, but anyone still asserting "vast, hidden stockpiles" by July of 2003 was an idiot.

Iraq is NOT getting cheaper. We are seeing monthly expenses increase in what is already the 3rd most expensive war in US history next to WWI and the Civil War. American deaths using your own numbers are at 213 a quarter, 852 a year...hardly down at all, and a focus only on death also masks the grievous maimings where armor prevents death, but not loss of eyes, limbs, brain function. The 22,000 casualties include over 2400 one-hundred percent disabled Vets.

We are not winning.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
WWII, not WWI.

And, another 8 months and it will be the longest war America has ever been in next to Vietnam.

It already is if you consider 9/11 the starting point.

And it is unique as the only war were Americans were told to shop, make no sacrifice, AND enjoy huge tax cuts if they were in the uppercrust strata.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Who exactly does he think the death squads are that are drilling holes in the heads of the carbombing noble purple-fingered Sunni other than the Islamist Shiite militias that flocked to the polls because a vote was the 1st stage to ethnic cleansing??

. . .

If a full Civil War breaks out, we should step to the side
I mentioned this elsewhere, but a Marine officier just back from the sandbox was of the opinion that the Shiite militias were just doing jobs Americans don’t want to do, and that we should indeed step out of thier way. Not sure if he’s right, but he does have more firsthand experience with this than I do.
No WMD threat. Anyone that still asserts otherwise is a blind ideologue.
Perhaps shipped to Syria, like the Iraqi air force guy claims.
Iraq is NOT getting cheaper. We are seeing monthly expenses increase in what is already the 3rd most expensive war in US history next to WWI and the Civil War.
Adjusted for inflation?

Aside from that, when you consider loss of life, etc (not just direct $$$) I suspect it is rather inexpensive.
And, another 8 months and it will be the longest war America has ever been in next to Vietnam.
Looking at the cost/year basis, compared to other wars and adjusted to inflation might put it in better perspective.

Bringing civilization to barbarians is typicaly expensive. And it usualy fails.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Don says something truly amazing:
I recently read some posts from a USMC officier just back from Iraq. His position is that civil war in Iraq would be a good thing, and what we need to do is let the Shiites go to work on the Sunni insurgents.
Riiiight. The Shia would carefully target only Sunni "insurgents."

Now look, I’m all for making lemonaide from lemons, but this is reaching heights of absurdity I can hardly believe. And in your view, Don, this would constitute a "victory" worthy of the billions and blood spent? Please go post that at Iraq the Model. I’m sure the Sunni brothers there would be utterly delighted with your casual endorsement of completely unleashing the Shiites on them.

March on, march on, to victory via civil war in Iraq. Unbelievable.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Don says:

Bringing civilization to barbarians is typicaly expensive. And it usualy fails.


Then why are we spending billions of dollars and incurring death and severe maiming of our troops to try it? Should the geniuses who didn’t operate from your assumptions remain in power to make our foreign policy decisions?
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Fine, Mona.

What you propose to stop it?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
We didn’t know before the war, but anyone still asserting "vast, hidden stockpiles" by July of 2003 was an idiot.
No, we sent in UN inspectors months before the war to confirm that there were indeed no WMDs in there. Only after that the ground war started. Lack of WMDs sealed Saddam’s fate. Kinda explains why Iran is pursuing the Nuclear option now and how we get China to ’negotiate’ with N. Korea...
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Mark A. Flacy writes:
What you propose to stop it?
I’m with Gregory Djerejian, that the first thing to do is dump Rumsfeld and install someone competent in the Sec of Defense position. I further endorse that Republicans should be demanding that George Bush utterly reject The Weekly Standard crowd and he should listen to realists like Brent Scowcroft. Perhaps the realists can mop up the disastrous consequences of the neocon, nation-building project, and avoid the war with Syria and Iran that so many neocons are demanding.

If I were seriously ill and sought treatment from the New Age quack down the street, and only got sicker, I think I’d decide to try a medical doctor. You know, the people who actually know what they are doing because they generally operate from reason and accurate factual assumptions, rather than faith.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Mona, on what to do to stop it - here’s the answer, boiled down to a talking point -


However, since we can’t go back in time, a great strategy to use in Iraq right now would add both leverage and coherence - something we have neither of right now. A good strategy would involve ""agreements"" between Shiites, Sunnis and ourselves to stop the immediate carnage and total disintegration of the state. It would certainly involve the end of US action against the Sunni insurgency, which we have not defeated and have no plans to defeat, and probably the withdrawal of US forces to Kurdistan, in exchange for a Shiite promise to end the death squads, and a Sunni promise to end aggressive actions against either the US military in Kurdistan (unlikely anyway) and Shiite civilians.

It’s not complicated. Everyone stop shooting at everyone, with the carrot of US withdrawal and the stick of the situation continuing as it is. Like most cease-fires, it would probably break, and we’d have to patch it up, maybe more than once. At this point, it may also be too late to avoid partitioning, a la Berlin, Dublin, or the West Bank and Israel.

But we will never see a cease-fire to the civil war in Iraq unless we are willing to cease fire ourselves. And we will never build any form of state there under the current carnage.

Most of the conservatives here hardly remember the need to actually build a state here at some point. We are in no way on a track to do this.


 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
WWII, not WWI.

And, another 8 months and it will be the longest war America has ever been in next to Vietnam.

It already is if you consider 9/11 the starting point.
Well, technically it started in 1979 when Iran overthrew the Shah and held our people hostage.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Historically, the best way to deal with insurgents has been brutal crackdowns. That worked with the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, the Palestinians in Jordon, with the cult of the Assasins, and throughout history as applied by the Romans, Soviets, Mongols, Spaniards, etc.

Right, sure, those overwhelmingly historically successful regimes, the Syrians, the Soviets, the Spanish empire - you care for a common thread for those regimes?

They f*cking collapsed.


We have trouble with it, because it involves activities we deplore, but in fact it is historically effective.

It’s not about "deplore", it’s about the end of our fuc*ing civilization. Civilization works. Barbarianism strategically fails, over and over, regardless of its tactical success.

Advocates of "total war" are a fifth column for Osama Bin Laden in destroying us as a global power.



There are exceptions, like Ghandi’s disasterous advice that Hindus not resist Muslim violence (resulting in many, many deaths).

Could you stop recycling idiotic memes and think? Ghandi’s waged a campaign of civil disobedience that ended British rule in India. Separately from that fact, Hindus and Muslims bought into "total war" theories (instincts, as well) when India began to partition and slaughtered each other by the millions.

Your strategy is as follows:

Problem: terrorists come from f*cked-up countries.
Solution: f*ck them up until they stop being f*cked up.

Where is the alternate reality where this makes sense?



 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Perhaps the realists can mop up the disastrous consequences of the neocon, nation-building project, and avoid the war with Syria and Iran that so many neocons are demanding.
So, Mona, what exactly are you willing to give up in order to achieve peace with Syria and Iran (the main source of instability in the Middle East)???

What price peace?

Peace at any cost?
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Keith in Indy asks:
So, Mona, what exactly are you willing to give up in order to achieve peace with Syria and Iran (the main source of instability in the Middle East)???
1. What is it that you think I (and I assume youmean all of us, as Americans) own that I could "give up"? (I cannot answer your question until I understand it.)

2. Do you advocate deploying our military against Syria and/or Iraq?
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Riiiight. The Shia would carefully target only Sunni "insurgents."

Now look, I’m all for making lemonaide from lemons, but this is reaching heights of absurdity I can hardly believe. And in your view, Don, this would constitute a "victory" worthy of the billions and blood spent?
Mona, I’m simply posting what a USMC vet wrote. He seemed to have a clear picture of what he was talking about, and had a very different view of the Shia death squads operating in Iraq.

I’m not claiming he’s right, but he has first hand knowledge that I (and I’m pretty sure you) lack. He’s also a smart and level headed guy, to judge by his postings.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Right, sure, those overwhelmingly historically successful regimes, the Syrians, the Soviets, the Spanish empire - you care for a common thread for those regimes?

They f*cking collapsed.
You have a problem with causaulity.

The Syrians cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, and they did not in fact collapse. They are not an empire (and wern’t when the craked down on MB in, IIRC, ’82), of course, but for the moment they are still around.

The Spanish empire was very good at suppressing rebellion. The Spanish empire collapsed because Lord Nelson destroyed the combined French and Spanish fleets, allowing Latin American independence movements success. Latin America owes more to the Royal Navy than to Bolivar.

The Soviets were also good at suppressing rebellion. As they did in Russia in the 20s, in Germany in 1946, in Hungry in ’56 and so on. They collapsed because socialism fails: the economic calculation problem of the socialist economy combined with competition from the US under Reagan.
Could you stop recycling idiotic memes and think?
Now, that’s ironic.
Ghandi’s waged a campaign of civil disobedience that ended British rule in India. Separately from that fact, Hindus and Muslims bought into "total war" theories (instincts, as well) when India began to partition and slaughtered each other by the millions.
Yeah, his civil disobedience worked against the British. But he also tried to apply it against Muslims, and it resulted in the mass murder of Hindus engaging in "civil disobedience" against those who were more than willing to engage in mass murder. He also recommended that Jews practice civil disobedience against Nazis.

Here is an analysis of Ghandi’s failures:

http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.com/articles/fascism/gandhimistake.html
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Ghandi’s waged a campaign of civil disobedience that ended British rule in India. glasnost
False:
It is simply not true that India’s Independence was the fruit of Gandhian non-violent agitation. He was close to the British in terms of culture and shared ethical values, which is why sometimes he could successfully bargain with them, but even they stood firm against his pressure when their vital interests were at stake. It is only Britain’s bankruptcy due to World War 2 and the emergence of the anti-colonial United States and Soviet Union as the dominant world powers that forced Clement Attlee’s government into decolonising India. Even then, the trigger events in 1945-47 that demonstrated how the Indian people would not tolerate British rule for much longer, had to do with armed struggle rather than with non-violence: the naval mutiny of Indian troops and the ostentatious nationwide support for the officers of Subhas Bose’s Axis-collaborationist Indian National Army when they stood trial for treason in the Red Fort.
from:

http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.com/articles/fascism/gandhimistake.html
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
What price peace?
I suspect wearing a burka is part of the deal . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Don, thanks for the link. I’ll try to step back from where I was- fairly angry. But your analysis is weak. The Soviet Union wasn’t destroyed by force. It collapsed, and its totalitatian planned economy was interrelated to its totalitarian political system was interrelated to its totalitarian answer to dissent abroad, which was massive force and telegram stop. It never captured any permanent loyalty in its clients, populations, or neutral states. It ruled by greed and fear at best, and it died.

The Spanish empire was very good at suppressing rebellion. The Spanish empire collapsed because Lord Nelson destroyed the combined French and Spanish fleets, allowing Latin American independence movements success.

Again, weak analysis. The Spanish empire collapsed because it went bankrupt, first and foremost, and followed by sinking into civil war and facism.

Your link is, I’m sorry, very slanted and dishonest. Ghandi didn’t control the Hindu population during partition, and no neutral historian portrays it as a slaughter of Hindus by Muslims. It was a slaughter of Hindus by Muslims and of Muslims by Hindus, and it got everyone involved nowhere, and Ghandi’s pacifism was nowhere followed or even remotely involved.

Moreover, what’s your response to:

Problem: terrorists come from f*cked-up countries.
Solution: f*ck them up until they stop being f*cked up.


How does your and your USMC’s proposed "solution" differ from this? Do you disagree that this is what you propose? What makes you think it will work?




 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
the problems of the Middle East are primarily a task for capitalists and diplomats.
Yes. There needs to be a strong reason for Iraq to stick together as opposed to being driven apart by Sunni and Shia extremists. The most obvious economic tool is the oil revenue. It is currently wasted and siphoned. Also the Shia and Sunni extremists are sponsored by governments that are more than happy to see Iraqi oil production crippled - it drives up their own oil revenues. This means a catch 22 exists that the Iraqi government needs revenues to solve the problem of foriegn actors that are stifling revenues.

In an ideal world this would not be a problem. Indeed in a world where America were able to realistically threaten Iran and Saudi it would be a much smaller problem. But neither of these worlds exist and so it is up to the Iraqi’s to find the internal strength of will to create their own country.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
How does your and your USMC’s proposed "solution" differ from this?
The USMC’s "solution" is to have America stop interfering in the Iraqi’s internal disputes and it will work out in the end with the Shia winning because they are stronger. And have America stay in Iraq.

Glasnost’s "solution" is to have America stop interfering in the Iraqi’s internal disputes and it will work out in the end with the Shia winning because they are stronger. And have America get out of Iraq.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
The Soviet Union wasn’t destroyed by force. It collapsed, and its totalitatian planned economy was interrelated to its totalitarian political system was interrelated to its totalitarian answer to dissent abroad, which was massive force and telegram stop. It never captured any permanent loyalty in its clients, populations, or neutral states. It ruled by greed and fear at best, and it died.
It is your analysis that’s weak.

The Soviet Union failed because of the economic calculation problem, coupled with the fact that it faced competition from the US under Reagan. It was an inefficient system that, without competition, could have continued for a extended time.
Again, weak analysis. The Spanish empire collapsed because it went bankrupt, first and foremost, and followed by sinking into civil war and facism.
The Spanish empire collapsed because of the destruction of the Spanish fleet in 1805. That allowed Latin America to gain independence over the next several decades.

Civil war and facism came a long time later.
Ghandi didn’t control the Hindu population during partition, and no neutral historian portrays it as a slaughter of Hindus by Muslims. It was a slaughter of Hindus by Muslims and of Muslims by Hindus, and it got everyone involved nowhere, and Ghandi’s pacifism was nowhere followed or even remotely involved.
Ghandi never really controlled the Hindu population, but that wasn’t what was argued. Further, he often failed at leading a pacifist movement, as they often decended into some level of violence, but with respect to partition Ghandi’s tools were simply useless.
Moreover, what’s your response to:

Problem: terrorists come from f*cked-up countries.
Solution: f*ck them up until they stop being f*cked up.

How does your and your USMC’s proposed "solution" differ from this? Do you disagree that this is what you propose? What makes you think it will work?
Are you referring to the solution of my USMC contact? His solution was to let some elements in Iraq solve the problem. I’m not sure how much, if any, US support he suggests.

Myself, at this point I’m inclined to follow the Bush solution, of attempting nation building. It’s ambitious and I’m skeptical of it working, but we are not ready to go Roman on the bas**ds yet. However, I think we should apply harsher methods towards our enemies.

Note that terrorists don’t always come from "f*cked-up countries". As we have seen in England, they can come from "f*cked-up communities" within otherwise somewhat decent countries.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Doesn’t matter what country, or societal background a terrorist comes from, look at the Badher-Meinhoff(sp?) group from the 70’s. Straight from the heart of Germany if I recall correctly.

Terrorists come from f’ed up ideologies...
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
It was an inefficient system that, without competition, could have continued for a extended time.

It was an inefficient system that was sparked under the carnage of the First World War. Its trends towards conquest, brutality and repression accelerated both internally and externally in simultaneity under Stalin. Its inefficiencies were not only related to its command economy, but also its militarized society and its extremely expensive and protracted military conflicts around the world. Its conflict in Afghanistan was fought with nothing resembling mercy or restraint in any form, and this did not prevent the conflict from carrying on for more than a decade. Nor did it prevent the USSR from losing. Brutality is overrated and not particularly efficient. There’s no way in which having to kill most of a country’s population to silence its armed fragment can be considered efficient.


Myself, at this point I’m inclined to follow the Bush solution, of attempting nation building.

I’d love to see some nation-building. If I thought that that was what was happening, I’d be in favor of it. Bush’s rhetorical support for nation-building is the best part of his policy. His total incompetence and obsessive reliance on force as a tool of said nation-building is the worst.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Unaha, I have to admit I wasn’t looking at it that way. It was funny. But I’d suggest actively leveraging the possibility of our withdrawal to attempt to negotiate a compromise between the sectarians, up to and including partition if neccesary.

Failing that, the shiites and sunnis will indeed sort it out themselves, and the less we’re involved to paint bullseyes on ourselves to no strategic end, or be painted as the supporter of one side’s atrocities against the other, the better.
our presence is not only a cause of violence generally, but also stalemate in the civil war and political paralysis in whatever negotiation track might exist.

Of course, in our complete absence, the civil war will become Iran vs. Saudi Arabia. Which is also better than than both of them against us in separate proxy fights, as seems to be the case right now.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
As far as I can tell, the objections to my "other potential courses" point is simply that other courses were also risky. Thanks and all, but that’s hardly a helpful insight. At the end of the day, we chose to go into Iraq (a move I supported) because we thought it was in our national interest and would end up well for us. It’s very, very far from clear that it has helped us. So, if you want just one possible alternative, how’s this: we could have not invaded Iraq.

What else should we have done? Probably some diplomatic bargaining, the application of trade pressures and other forms of soft power, and carefully constructed alliances of our own built to pressure non-performing regimes. Maybe not enough John Wayne for you, but perhaps more efficient and effective.

If you’re looking for rock solid guarantees that a course of action will work, you won’t find them. Case in point: the Iraq war.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
You’d need to refresh my memory of the wording of that "promise".
LINK:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, I don’t think — it basically says that he’s in defiance of 1441. That’s what the resolution says. And it’s hard to believe anybody is saying he isn’t in defiance of 1441, because 1441 said he must disarm. And, yes, we’ll call for a vote.

Q No matter what?

THE PRESIDENT: No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It’s time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Jon, that wasn’t a promise, that was his position at the time. He changed his mind.

He gets to do that.

Yoda says: A liar again, you are.

And too BDS’ed to know the difference.


Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Jon,

I’ll tell you what.

I’ll admit I made an overly categorical statement when I said you lied.

You have BDS, I shouldn’t expect better of you than to make overly categorical statements about Bush’s overly categorical statements.

But I think you have to admit you haven’t shown he spoke falsely, knowing he wouldn’t attempt to force a vote at the time he said what you’ve quoted.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Failing that, the shiites and sunnis will indeed sort it out themselves, and the less we’re involved to paint bullseyes on ourselves to no strategic end, or be painted as the supporter of one side’s atrocities against the other, the better.
Glasnost,
Though sectarian war would be violent and bloody and quite distasteful, there are strategic ends to following through with the Marines version that may outweigh the appeal of disinvolvement.

Are you familiar with the scene from the movie LA Confidential where after he has killed half of LA’s finest Ed Exley fronts up to the chiefs of police with a smile on his face? He is smiling because he knows that the police need a hero to rally around and the only survivors are him and Bud. For the same political reasons the opposite applies in Iraq. After any sectarian war the victor will need to scapegoat, a villian to be made responsible for the slaughter. If America is there and holding up the victors hand, then that someone is likely to be either Saudi Arabia or Iran painted as anti-democratic forces messing in Iraq. If America is not there, it will be America who is blamed and vilified.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Its (Soviet) inefficiencies were not only related to its command economy, but also its militarized society and its extremely expensive and protracted military conflicts around the world.


Military conflicts where it was in competition with us. It’s not like they were shadow boxing . . . both sides paid a price for the arms build ups and brush wars that made up the Cold War.

We prevailed because our economic system was more efficient.
Its conflict in Afghanistan was fought with nothing resembling mercy or restraint in any form, and this did not prevent the conflict from carrying on for more than a decade. Nor did it prevent the USSR from losing.
The USSR lost because the Red Army was largely road bound (since it was very tank centric), and lacked iniative at lower levels.

When Reagan began sending weapons like Stingers (Carter had also sent arms), the most effective Soviet weapon in Afganistan, the Hind helicopter gunship, was compromised.

You are correct that brutality did not prevent the Soviets from loosing; but they lost despite it, not becuase of it.
Brutality is overrated and not particularly efficient.
Overrated by whom? Perhaps in some places, but it is underrated in the West, particularly the US. And it is actually efficient, one of the reasons it is so common.
There’s no way in which having to kill most of a country’s population to silence its armed fragment can be considered efficient.
You don’t have to kill most of a country’s population if you are brutal; that’s the point.

Sometimes it does backfire, as Soviet brutality in WW2 resulted in fierce German resistance on the Eastern Front, while on the Western Front German resistance collapsed. But this was unusual, and it was based on two things: German fighting efficiency (and will), and the fact that the Soviets provided no "out" for German citizens (particularly the women who faced mass rape). However, once the German Army was destroyed, Soviet brutality was very effecient in maintaining order.

The Mongols, by contrast, would offer good terms to those who surrendered, and horrific terms to those who resisted. Their brutality was quite efficient.

On another level, I do agree that free societies are stonger than caged societies; this is rooted in the fact that war is based upon economic capacity, and free markets offer greater economic power than closed societies. Free societies don’t always win out, they can loose in a short term war (they almost seem prone to loose short term), but they have a significant advantage in protracted conflict.

Rome probably is the best example of success and brutality. But the Spartens were another example: warriors with the goal of controlling their slaves (fellow Greeks), it was said that no Spartan women saw the campfires of the enemy for 600 years. Of course, the Spartans are no more so I guess that doesn’t count! Same for the Romans?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
As far as I can tell, the objections to my "other potential courses" point is simply that other courses were also risky. Jon
Most of them had already failed. That’s risky all right.
What else should we have done? Probably some diplomatic bargaining, the application of trade pressures and other forms of soft power, and carefully constructed alliances of our own built to pressure non-performing regimes. Maybe not enough John Wayne for you, but perhaps more efficient and effective.
Actually, sounds like what we did between GW1 & 2, and which didn’t work. IIRC, what we know about "non-performing regimes" (I assume you mean France, Russia, the UN, et al) we learned from intel gathered in the invasion. We probably had a clue prior, but hard evidence?

So, essentially, you are saying we should do what didn’t work, but apply pressure to the likes of France based on info we didn’t know and wouldn’t know without the invasion. Or am I getting this wrong?
If you’re looking for rock solid guarantees that a course of action will work, you won’t find them. Case in point: the Iraq war.
The war may still work.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Some other "promises" from President Bush’s speech...
In the event of conflict, America also accepts our responsibility to protect innocent lives in every way possible. We’ll bring food and medicine to the Iraqi people. We’ll help that nation to build a just government, after decades of brutal dictatorship. The form and leadership of that government is for the Iraqi people to choose. Anything they choose will be better than the misery and torture and murder they have known under Saddam Hussein.
And history does show, we were working towards a vote in the Security Council, which was stymied by France and Russia.
United Nations — The United Kingdom, United States, and Spain said March 17 they would not call for a U.N. Security Council vote on their
draft resolution on Iraq in the face of a threatened French veto. U.K. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, making the announcement on behalf
of the draft resolution’s co-sponsors, said that "in the last few hours we have had to conclude that council consensus will not be possible in line with resolution 1441. One country in particular has underlined its intention to veto any ultimatum no matter what the circumstances."

"That country rejected our proposed compromise before even the Iraqi government itself and has put forward suggestions that would roll back
the unanimous agreement of the council in 1441. Those suggestions would amount to no ultimatum, no pressure, and no disarmament," Greenstock said.

"The co-sponsors reserve the right to take their own steps to secure the disarmament of Iraq," he said.

...

"We advocated a second resolution because a united council would have shown it was intent on enforcing resolution 1441 and disarming Iraq,"
Negroponte said. "We believe that the vote would have been close. We regret that, in the face of an explicit threat to veto by a permanent member, the vote counting became a secondary consideration," he said.
Oh, and I found that this site has an excellent database of news about Iraq http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/index.html
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://

 
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