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A Framework for the Iraq Debate
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, November 21, 2005

I don't claim any unique insight into The Truth of the debate about pre-war intelligence, but I do want to lay out some of my guiding assumptions, tendencies and beliefs. I'll probably dissent from a great many people on both sides of the fence in the course of this post. That's fine. I've been laying back on a lot of the questions surrounding the war, pre-war intelligence and exit strategies because I find the main arguments put forth by Republicans and Democrats intellectually unsatisfying.

So, with that said, a framework...

  • The pro-war side genuinely believes we are winning: Assuming that premise, it is reasonable to consider the anti-war desire to withdraw quickly nigh on treasonous. If we're really winning, then leaving quickly before stability is achieved really is "cutting and running" and likely to both render our sacrifices worthless and, indeed, provoke more trouble for the US in the long run.


  • The anti-war side genuinely believes we are losing: Assuming that premise, it is reasonable to consider the pro-war "stay the course" strategy murderous and counter-productive. If we're really losing, then withdrawing quickly would at least salvage the lives of soldiers and the cohesion of the US Armed forces.


There is some evidence for each point of view, but—at this point—it is impossible to tell which view will ultimately obtain. My own opinion is that, bloody and messy as it may be, we are winning. Each electoral landmark is a positive step in the right direction, and the balance of powers within Iraq is such that only remnants and outsiders will see any utility in a violent solution. Ultimately, imperfect as it may be, political—not military— bickering will lead to an Iraqi democracy that reflects the balances of power in Iraq. And that will be a victory.

With that said, though, I should also note that "stay the course" is a cliche, not a strategy. Training Iraqi troops until they can take over the defense of their country is a strategy, but it's not sufficient. There are political considerations, as well, and it's not terribly apparent that a trained Iraqi security force will be subservient to the central democratic government, rather than to sectarian leaders and prejudices.

More:

  • Representative Tom Murtha is not a coward. Rep Murtha genuinely believes that the war is now "unwinnable" and that the optimal solution still available to us is to bring the troops home over the course of 6 months after the December Iraq election.


  • Suggesting that Rep. Murtha is a coward/un-American/unpatriotic because his calculation of the possibility of success or failure in Iraq differs from our own is intellectually dishonest. (see: logical fallacies)


  • Suggesting that Rep. Murtha is wrong, and wrong in a way that will hurt the United States is perfectly reasonable.


  • Rep. Murtha's military experience is honorable and to be admired. It is not, however, relevant to the quality of his ideas; nor is the military experience of Cheney, Bush, Senators Warner and McCain relevant. The same goes for of any supporters or critics of the war. Appeals to prior service are designed to distract from the content of the ideas.


  • Until recently, I despised the people who claimed the administration was "questioning their patriotism". Not only had it not actually happened, the only prominent politicians who had done it were Democrats. Recently, though, prominent Republicans have been treading awfully close to that point.


  • It's wrong to reject the notion that withdrawal of US troops would eliminate some of the tensions that cause violence in Iraq. It's also wrong to pretend it would solve those tensions. In between the polarized "withdraw now!" and "stay the course!" debate, there are answers that could incorporate the advantages of both while minimizing the dangers.


  • Until Congress stops playing Political Gotcha and starts taking back their Constitutional responsibility to excercise oversight, we probably won't hear many middle-ground solutions.


  • The Frist and Warner sponsored Amendment to "demand regular reports from the White House on the course of the conflict and on the progress that Iraqi forces are making in securing their own country" has been much-maligned, and for the life of me I can't tell why. This should have been present from the very start. One of the great failures of the Bush administration has been its reluctance to actually set and enunciate metrics for success and measurements to determine whether we are, in fact, meeting those metrics.


  • Congress has been complicit in that failure, by not holding the Executive feet to the fire.


  • Vietnam may be a useful historical analogy for the Iraq war. Or it might not. It doesn't have to be, though; that template is not pre-ordained. We will determine how closely Iraq tracks Vietnam right here at home.


UPDATE: Ok, a couple more things:

  • Yes, the Democratic decision to close the Senate to force the Republican's hand on the pre-war Intel investigation was a stunt. So what? It might have been a stunt, but it was a useful stunt.


  • Yes, the Republican-forced vote on immediate withdrawal from Iraq was a stunt. So what? Democrats were eager to put Bush in a difficult political position with Murtha's quick-withdrawal proposal. The Republicans simply turned the tables on them, forcing them to admit that "no, we don't really want to withdraw that quickly".


  • Until the Democrats come up with a coherent, consistent Party position, they can expect Republicans to continue pointing that out.
 
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Until recently, I despised the people who claimed the administration was "questioning their patriotism". Not only had it not actually happened, the only prominent politicians who had done it were Democrats. Recently, though, prominent Republicans have been treading awfully close to that point
.


Well, I DO question their patriotism. I’d like to illustrate my point with a story and an analogy.The Nazi’s wanted march in Skokie Illinois. Skokie objected and wouldn’t let them march, IIRC. The ACLU filed suit on behalf of the Nazis. The Nazis acted because they wanted attention, recruits, money and to publicize their cause. The ACLU acted to uphold the First Amendment. In short, their motivations and public statements differed. The ACLU didn’t march with the Nazi’s or by silence assent to their racial rhetoric. I could differentiate the ACLU from the Nazi’s.

Now, the anti-war side. Ward Churchill, Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Tom Hayden, ANSWER are NOT anti-war, THEY’RE FOR THE OTHER SIDE (To Quote Glenn Reynolds.)!! These people want the US to lose, believe the US SHOULD lose in Iraq. When anyone marches with the likes of them, I question their patriotism. To refer to my analogy, it would be as if the ACLU sided with the Nazi’s and made no other arguments. If that’s what had happened in Skokie, I’d call the ACLU Fascists, and rightly so. The ACLU didn’t and so they aren’t, but if YOU, whoever you are march with the likes of Moore, Sheehan, Hayden or ANSWER and you don’t contradict their positions, if you don’t advance an alternative, then by silence you assent to being for the other side. And that is proof of your disloyalty!

Now by my argument Representative Murtha is NOT disloyal or unpatriotic, however 95% of the anti-war movement is! I believe the phrase is "If you lie down with swine, you will soil your cloak." I have no problem questioning the patriotism of many of my opponents. They have aligned themselves with people who want the Nazi’s to win. I preferred the 1970’s Radicals, at least they could say, honestly, "Alienation is when your country is at war and you want the other side to win." Today’s Left can’t bring itself to say that, yet. But give them time.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Wow. Common sense.

This bipartisan bickering is very upseting. We’re all in this together and we’re on the same side. Debate and discourse is fine, but where’s the sense of priorities and consequences?

I don’t believe REP Murtha is a coward. I do believe he is a staunch realist who opposes OIF because it’s not a realist kind of mission.
 
Written By: Eric
URL: http://www.learning-curve.blogspot.com
Well Eric,
What would BE a "Realist"kind of mission in Iraq? Let’s move set the "Way Back Machine" for 1942, what’s a Realist mission for the United Nations Forces in Europe? I mean Italy wasn’t really MUCH of democracy, and Poland wasn’t one at all, and Weimar Germany was the first democracy Germany had ever had, so mayhap democracy really isn’t for Germans. How about this? Mr. Hitler steps down or appoints members of the Conservative parties to his cabinet, and Germany withdraws, pretty much, to it’s 1939 boundaries? Sure they can keep Gdansk/Danzig and Alsace-Lorraine, and the Sudetenland and Austria, and the Nazi’s could still be in the government, but they wouldn’t be the SOLE governing party. How’s that for a realistic mission to Europe? IS that good enough?

So back to day... how about a Sunni strongman for Iraq? Would that be a realistic mission? Sure, he’d be an SOB but he’d be OUR SOB, right? I mean who cares about the needs or wishes of 85% of Iraq. Let’s have STABILITY! Realism is oft’ times just another name for short-sightedness. Sure Wilson was a FOOLISH dreamer, but mayhap FDR was just a Dreamer, a dreamer who’s dream could come true. I don’t see why democracy is just something for white people and a few yellow people. And until someone can present a clear and convincing genetic/cultural argument as to why only Koreans, Japanese, Taiwanese and Anglo-white boys can run democracies I’m really going to be suspicious of "Realists" who seem to oppose its spread. Sorry, fundamentally I consider the arguments of Murtha to be no more than defeatism, mixed with partisan politics, and tinged with racism....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Representative Tom Murtha is not a coward

Sure he is. He’s afraid of losing his seat to someone who could outflank him to the left
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Recently, though, prominent Republicans have been treading awfully close to that point.

How do you reconcile that with this (just posted by McQ):


Peters again refelcts what I’ve come to believe about this entire charade being put on by the Democrats—it all centers around political victory at the expense of the best interests of the country. Sen. Joe Lieberman, bless his heart, was very forthright about his concerns that the opposition now being mounted by Democrats is purely partisan


Is McQ treading "awfully" close to that point? Because if what he’s noting doesn’t fall under the category of questionable patriotism, I’m not sure what does.

And is it wrong to call Harry Reid and those pushing the Joe Wilson/Bush Lied meme unpatriotic?

The Frist and Warner sponsored Amendment to "demand regular reports from the White House on the course of the conflict and on the progress that Iraqi forces are making in securing their own country" has been much-maligned, and for the life of me I can’t tell why

That’s based on the circumstances of it’s passing. The way it was passed served as a political victory for the Dems and ceeded the terms of the debate to them.

One of the great failures of the Bush administration has been its reluctance to actually set and enunciate metrics for success and measurements to determine whether we are, in fact, meeting those metrics

Fair enough, but then again, I seriously have my doubts they would ever be able to get that message out. The media can’t even get simple stories right, like Murtha "suddenly" having an "on the road to Damascus" conversion on the war.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Thank you, Jon. This kind of sanity is in short supply at a time when we desperately need it.
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://conjecturesandrefutations.net
The Frist and Warner sponsored Amendment to "demand regular reports from the White House on the course of the conflict and on the progress that Iraqi forces are making in securing their own country" has been much-maligned, and for the life of me I can’t tell why. This should have been present from the very start. One of the great failures of the Bush administration has been its reluctance to actually set and enunciate metrics for success and measurements to determine whether we are, in fact, meeting those metrics.

Raises eyebrow. Oh? Like the successful metrics that we employed in VietNam? What if the metrics that you first attempt to use turn out to measure the wrong thing? Can you change them without political cost? Will the meeting on paper of the metric targets then become more important than actually meeting the strategic goals of the operation?

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
There is some evidence for each point of view, but—at this point—it is impossible to tell which view will ultimately obtain. My own opinion is that, bloody and messy as it may be, we are winning. Each electoral landmark is a positive step in the right direction, and the balance of powers within Iraq is such that only remnants and outsiders will see any utility in a violent solution. Ultimately, imperfect as it may be, political—not military— bickering will lead to an Iraqi democracy that reflects the balances of power in Iraq. And that will be a victory.
Each electoral step is a positive step in the right direction? What planet do you live on? The Interior Ministry - you know, that branch of the Iraqi government charged with maintaining security in Iraq - has basically been taken over by Shia militias. The same militias are now conducting a kind of dirty war that should look familiar to wingers - remember El Salvador? The idea that the current government is any way representative of the Iraqi people or has the potential to be has ZERO basis in fact. The evidence is completely to the contrary.

From yesterday’s London Observer:
Baghdad’s Medical Forensic Institute - the mortuary - is a low, modern building reached via a narrow street. Most days it is filled with families of the dead. They come here for two reasons. One group, animated and noisy in grief, comes to collect its dead. The other, however, returns day after day to poke through the new cargoes of corpses ferried in by ambulance, looking for a face or clothes they might recognise. They are the relatives and friends of the ’disappeared’, searching for their men.

And when the disappeared are finally found, on the streets or in the city’s massive rubbish dumps, or in the river, their bodies bear the all-too-telling signs of a savage beating, often with electrical cables, followed by the inevitable bullet to the head.

In a new twist in the ongoing brutality of this country, Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence is escalating dramatically.

Last July an Observer investigation reported that Iraqi police commandos were running secret torture units, and last week there was international outrage when an Iraqi government bunker was found being used as a makeshift prison. American forces found 173 half-starved prisoners being held in dreadful conditions. Most were Sunnis.

The new trend in violence is one that Dr Alaa Maki of the Iraqi Islamic Party is familiar with. A month ago his bodyguard, Alaa al-Azawi, was taken from his home with his two brothers by police at midnight. The family were told the men were being taken for investigation. The following day his body was dumped in the street.

Eight days ago, another of Maki’s friends was being treated in the Yarmouk Hospital, Iraq’s second- biggest, in the western suburbs of Baghdad. His relatives, Muamir Saad Mahmoud and Ali Mahmoud, went to visit him. Instead they met men in the uniform of Iraq’s police waiting for them.

Ali was later released in the vast Shia slum of Sadr City after a violent beating. Muamir has not been seen. Dr Maki and the family are now waiting for his body to turn up.

And it is not just in Baghdad. The home of Khalid Ahmad Harbood, a resident of the Alkadisia neighbourhood of Madain city, was raided at midnight on 13 October by the Alkarrar brigade, commandos of the Ministry of the Interior. Harbood was detained at their base. Transferred to the ’Panorama building’ in the town, he was tortured so badly over the period of a week that he died and his badly battered body was dumped in Sadr City.

As is so often the case in Iraq these days, the details are difficult to corroborate, but they fit a pattern.

According to human rights organisations in Baghdad, ’disappearances’ - for long a feature of Iraq’s dirty war - have reached epidemic proportions in recent months. Human rights workers, international and local, who asked not to be identified in order to protect their researchers in the city and their organisations’ access to senior government officials, told The Observer last week that they have hundreds of cases on their books. They described the disappearances as the most pressing human rights issue in a country that is in the midst of a human rights disaster.

....

The emergence of a culture of pernicious violence at Iraq’s interior ministry blossomed in the face of repeated warnings to US and UK officials over the past year and a half, under an apparently deliberate policy by London and Washington to avoid public criticism of the country’s new institutions.

It is a silence that persisted despite compelling evidence provided by human rights organisations, journalists and Iraqi officials that, from the very moment of the hand-over of sovereignty, violent abuses were being committed in the Ministry of the Interior building - the results of which have been witnessed by The Observer

Then, as in last week’s discovery of the starving prisoners, the abuses were only uncovered during a raid by American military police who had been tipped off that prisoners were being beaten in a ’guesthouse’ in the ministry’s grounds.

It was, in retrospect, the beginning of a pattern of behaviour that would only worsen as the months went by. The Observer has gathered a catalogue of mistreatment by the elements of the very police forces that Washington and London have been counting on as the front line in the fight against insurgents and terrorists.

Among those to be confronted early in the interim government with the way in which policing in Iraq was going was a senior British police officer, involved in mentoring the new Iraqi Police Force, who described to this paper how he had entered the room of a deputy minister and found a man with a bag over his head standing in the corner.

In retrospect, it would turn out to be a minor abuse in comparison with what would follow. Instead, the roots of the human rights catastrophe that has enveloped the ministry were to be found in the simmering sectarian conflict of tit-for-tat assassinations that had taken hold in Baghdad’s vast suburbs.

There, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Badr Brigades, had begun a campaign of revenge attacks against former members of the largely Sunni secret police, the mukhabarat, tactics that would be imported wholesale into the Ministry of the Interior when SCIRI - and the Badrists - took control of it after the elections.

By the early months of this year, a militia widely accused by Sunnis of a campaign of assassination had become integrated into the newly emergent Special Police Commandos under the command of the ministry, led by a senior member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Bayan Jabr. The Badr Brigade’s campaign would become integrated into one of the Iraqi government’s most powerful ministries.

’The origins of what is going on now go back to the period from April to May 2003,’ said a British security source. Then members of the Badr Brigades returning from exile in Iran began a vendetta against Baathists, largely former members of the mukhabarat. It is a campaign that has widened as it has continued and what is worrying now is the extent to which it is tacitly sanctioned.

....

It is a view echoed by Dr Maki of the Iraqi Islamic Party, which last week called for an international investigation of the human rights abuses by Ministry of the Interior forces following the discovery of the secret detention facility in Jadriya.

’We blame the government for these events, and no matter how often we have complained there has been no investigation. I have spoken to the UN. I have handed over a dossier of what has been going on.

’We have been trying to persuade the US and UK governments for the past two years about what has been going on. It has taken until now to convince them that this is real.’

In the meantime, as the disappearances have escalated in recent months, so whatever small faith Sunnis had in Iraq’s judicial process has increasingly collapsed, falling back instead on the tribal code permitting revenge killings.

And so the violence in Iraq continues.
Do you hear wingers talking about any of this? No. But then when have wingers ever been in touch with reality?

Please explain to me how the situation as outlined in the above article is going to change? You have to be pretty far gone to believe that somehow after December 15 the dirty war is going to end. To the contrary, as the Shia consolidate power over the government (which they will), it will only grow worse. What in the world would cause it to change? What’s the Interior Ministry gonna do - hire a bunch of Sunnis to somehow make it more representative? Ha ha ha

Remember, the death squads you see at work now are the very forces that we are supposedly going to rely on to fight the insurgency. The forces of "Iraqi Democracy."
There are political considerations, as well, and it’s not terribly apparent that a trained Iraqi security force will be subservient to the central democratic government, rather than to sectarian leaders and prejudices.
What? Not terribly apparent? Again, what planet are you on? The central government and the sectarian elements are one in the same. You think the current government does not know exactly what is going on and approving of it? Do you think for one moment a Shia politician is going to stand up and demand some accountability from these death squads? Not on your life.

Wingers simply don’t get - there isn’t going to be a central government that is representative of the Iraqi people. There isn’t one now and there won’t be one in the future. Do you really think the Badr Brigade and their ilk are going to willingly enter some kind of power-sharing arrangement with respect to the domestic "security" forces?

Wonder why things are the way they are? From Newsweek, January ’05:
Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.

This is the reality of today’s Iraq - Salvadoran style death squads acting as Iraqi police.

"We’ll stand down as they stand up."

Oh, we are doing that alright. And look what is happening. Disappearences, torture, bodies being dumped at the side of the road.

But as Jon says, we are winning.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
I point out that there are cogent arguments on both sides of this debate, and MK drops in to say that I’m wrong because he can make an argument that we’re losing.

I won’t get into the tall grass with you, MK, except to point out that El Salvador is a Democracy.



 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
MK,
You forgot the civilian abuse, a whole village was terrorized by US troops, murders and rapes. Also, the prisoner abuse, PoW’s or EPW’s were marched, by their captors, into hostile territory, unarmed, and massacred by the natives! Then there is the use of enemy troops as guards and enforcers of local politics, rather than the use of indigenous peoples!

Of course, these are all examples from the Second World War... the village a mass rape in Italy, the PoW’s massacred by Dacoits whilst in the custody of the Australians, and the British employed the Japanese to police Vietnam and Borneo at war’s end.

My point being, MK, in war bad things happen, but do these incidents mean the Second World War was a failure and that we ought not have fought it? Or because Walter Cronkite was in FAVOUR OF THIS war, the media just never got around to reporting these events. Nowadays, they’d be front page news on the LAT and the NYT. And would the world be a better or worse place for it?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
But then when have wingers ever been in touch with reality?
Sigh.

I suppose we should join forces with the left. They are definately in touch with reality.

Does anyone have the phone number for these people?

Friends of Mkultra
These people are so in touch with reality that they don’t even need to wear pants. Wahoo!
Which one is Mkultra?
 
Written By: Derek
URL: http://
Do you hear wingers talking about any of this?

Well since we’re routinely referred to as "wingers" by you, I’ll ask, how’d you miss this MK?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Well since we’re routinely referred to as "wingers" by you, I’ll ask, how’d you miss this MK?
Touche’!
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Well since we’re routinely referred to as "wingers" by you, I’ll ask, how’d you miss this MK?
Miss what? Your post mentions nothing about the make-up of the Interior Ministry. You mention nothing about death squads, kidnappings, Shia militias, Iranian backing, or anything like that.

Someday, way in the future, you will finally get it: every US soldier who died in Iraq did so to increase the power of Tehran in Iraq and the power of Shiite Militas over the Baghdad government.

It is too hard for you to admit it now.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Your post mentions nothing about the make-up of the Interior Ministry. You mention nothing about death squads, kidnappings, Shia militias, Iranian backing, or anything like that.

Typicial disingenuous moobat argument. Says something and then try to move the goalposts.

You asked this question:
Do you hear wingers talking about any of this?
Then you answered it.
No.
You were wrong.

And all your sputtering attempted denials to the contrary won’t change that.

Now go play elsewhere like a good troll.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Another category?

As the 2008 Presidential Nominations come round there will emerge pro-War Republicans who infer that America is winning the WoT. They will need to differentiate themselves from the President (and his low numbers) and an pro-War, uber-hawkish postion is a way to to this.

Already Sen. McCain has made several attempts to increase troops in Iraq.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
Please accept my apologies for the above:

As the 2008 Presidential Nominations come round there will emerge pro-War Republicans who infer that America is not winning the WoT. They will need to differentiate themselves from the President (and his low numbers) and a pro-War, uber-hawkish postion is a way to to this.

Already Sen. McCain has made several attempts to increase troops in Iraq.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
What exactly is the point of a naked protest? Either onlookers are NOT looking at the sign, or they are looking away!

I don’t get it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Now go play elsewhere like a good troll.
Oooooh - troll. Good comeback.

When I said "this," I guess I should have been more clear. I was talking about the security forces in Iraq - yes those vaunted forces to whom we will hand over power someday - are nothing more than Iranian backed and trained private armies bent on torturing and killing as many Sunni Arabs as possible.

I will ask again: Tell me why having the interior ministry run by Shia militias is a good thing.

Why, McQ? Why is handing over the Iraqi government to a bunch of Iranian trained and backed militamen a good idea?

C’mon - give it the old college try. You know you want to. Or do you just want to name call.

Why can’t you do both?
I won’t get into the tall grass with you, MK, except to point out that El Salvador is a Democracy.
So is Lebanon. Remember Lebanon? Reagan brought the troops home from there - pulled them out. Now it is a Democracy.


 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
When I said "this," I guess I should have been more clear.

Seemed pretty clear to everyone but you.

Nice try though.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Lebanon is possibly a democracy, mk, the jury is still out. To the extent that it is so now, mk, it is because we went into Afghanistan and Iraq. After we pulled out of Lebanon, Iranian puppets Hezb’ Allah and Syria went in and destroyed the remnants of the previous government there by finishing the job the civil war they encouraged.

We need to be seriously considering military action in both Iran and Syria; probably going to Syria first.
 
Written By: Charles D. Quarles
URL: http://spaces.msn.com/members/cdquarles/
Representative Tom Murtha is not a coward.

Is it possible for a non-coward to advocate a cowardly idea? Or does the very fact that a non-coward advocates the idea mean that the idea is ipso facto non-cowardly?
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
Is it possible for a non-coward to advocate a cowardly idea?

Sure it is.
But that’s not what Murtha’s doing, IMO.
He’s advocating an idea that the situation is futile. And I happen to agree with him.

Because if we are winning, and we are building a great house of Democracy, I fear that house will prove to be a house of cards. And when we take our hand off of the last card, it will come crashing down. The insurgents, terrorists, islamofacist, or whatever description pleases you, will stop at nothing to see the demise of whatever government we help install. Even if it proves to be a secular democracy, it will be seen by those who hate us as a symbol of western culture brought by the infidels. It will continue to be a hotbed of violence and death. Then, throw in a dash of religious divide and a pinch of oilfield rights and you have a recipe for civil war.
I believe that continuing this effort would be a tragic waste of lives and treasure. What I believe we need is a set of solid calendar benchmarks to facilitate withdraw, and get the fuck out.

But I admit I could be wrong.
Rep. Murtha’s military experience is honorable and to be admired. It is not, however, relevant to the quality of his ideas; nor is the military experience of Cheney, Bush, Senators Warner and McCain relevant. The same goes for of any supporters or critics of the war.
Indeed.
It does, however, go along way to parry heckles of, “coward”.

I don’t have any military experience;
(save my brief but honorable tour in the paramilitary group known as the Cub Scouts of America. I served proudly until, while pursuing the prestigious rank of Webelos, I was “swiftboated” by my arch-nemesis, nine year old R.D. Plunk. He questioned my loyalty to the Scouts soon after I had disproved allegations of cookie theft. The ordeal took its toll, so I walked away. It was either that or I was distracted by little league. Whichever.)

Having no military experience doesn’t, necessarily, disqualify.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Representative Tom Murtha is not a coward
The manacted and fought honorably while in uniform. I respect those actions.

Since then, alas, Murtha seems to have misplaced his spine.
He has become a coward.

I have no respect for the man today.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
MK has requested an explanation:
Tell me why having the interior ministry run by Shia militias is a good thing.
One example of a modern counter insurgency campaign that actually worked is the British success against the Communists in Malaysia. It is often cited as an example by supporters of the Americans in Iraq, but I had feared that the Americans would be too caught up in the trappings of "democracy and freedom" to allow the neccessary tactics to be used.

The use of Brit troops then and American troops now is in attacking the existing insurgents. This is not enough to win on its own and must be coupled with local action.

In Malaysia the British granted power to the local Malay (muslims) to persecute the conflict against the local Chinese (buddhists) who made up the bulk of the Communists. There were several massacres, lootings, beatings of Chinese civillians which the Communists were not able to stop. The Communists were made to look weak and their support dwindled.

If America is to follow this path they must grant leeway to the Shia to harrass the Sunni in the same way. It is for this reason alone that it is positive that the Shia are now torturing Sunni in basements in Iraq. It is the first step in a long process that will eventually lead to the Sunni accepting that rebellion is futile.


McQ is unlikely to agree (because he values freedom & democracy) but the news is better than good, this is the best news to come out of Iraq since the fall of Saddam. It is the one thing that has caused me to reassess my opinion of the conflict, so that I now think the Americans might actually win.

And McQ after the war is won they can get all the freedom and democracy they want.


MK please note: the Shia Iraqis and the Shia Persians like each other about much as the Catholic French and the Catholic Germans - not very much at all.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
You say that "stay the course" is a cliche and not a strategy. But if we assume there is a current strategy in place—I do, and I believe it’s why we’ve been meeting our deadlines on time—then staying the course is a strategy—the continuance of the current one. "The president has no plan" has become the real cliche.
 
Written By: Freeven
URL: http://mentalhiccups.blogspot.com/
You know, everything that is said to antagonize people who don’t agree with you, on both sides, doesn’t help. The problem here is that everyone has retreated so deeply into their "side’ that they refuse to acknowledge things that don’t match their opinion. I wish both the far left and the far right would just listen to cooler heads instead of name calling each other. This Iraq thing is a problem, a major problem. And we aren’t making progress toward a solution. Why? We are just yelling "talking points" at each other. Bush may be the best or worst president ever, but we need to make progress regardless. Lighten up, people.
 
Written By: Koolau Kid
URL: http://
This Iraq thing is a problem, a major problem. And we aren’t making progress toward a solution.

That’s interesting. What’s your definition of progress? It doesn’t appear to match mine.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
[Murtha is] afraid of losing his seat to someone who could outflank him to the left.
I’m afraid I don’t share your paranormal ability to divine the inner workings of your opponents minds. I’m forced to argue the issue on its merits. Shame, really.
How do you reconcile that with this (just posted by McQ):
I’m not in the business of trying to reconcile my opinion to that of my co-bloggers. I disagree with McQ on the need to infer intent from the dissent. I believe the debate is much more useful when we assume sincere intentions.
And is it wrong to call Harry Reid and those pushing the Joe Wilson/Bush Lied meme unpatriotic?
Generally speaking, yes. Their patriotism has nothing to do with the merits of the argument. I don’t consider myself particularly patriotic. I no more understand the notion of "patriotism" than I understand the notion of allegiance to an alma mater. I have an allegiance to ideas and ideals. My allegiance to the US extends only so far as it stands for those ideas and ideals.

And none of that has any bearing on the quality of my ideas.
As the 2008 Presidential Nominations come round there will emerge pro-War Republicans who infer that America is winning the WoT. They will need to differentiate themselves from the President (and his low numbers) and an pro-War, uber-hawkish postion is a way to to this.
Good point. Though, I’d point out that Democrats already tried to position themselves as ’more serious about the WoT than Bush’ and recommended increasing troop levels in Iraq. Absent another significant event, I’m not sure that "more hawkish" will fly. Come 2008, what will there be to propose we do?
Is it possible for a non-coward to advocate a cowardly idea?
Yes. But whether Murtha’s idea is "cowardly" depends entirely upon your assumptions. Using Murtha’s premises, his idea would not be cowardly.
I don’t have any military experience;
(save my brief but honorable tour in the paramilitary group known as the Cub Scouts of America. I served proudly until, while pursuing the prestigious rank of Webelos, I was “swiftboated” by my arch-nemesis, nine year old R.D. Plunk. He questioned my loyalty to the Scouts soon after I had disproved allegations of cookie theft. The ordeal took its toll, so I walked away. It was either that or I was distracted by little league. Whichever.)
Shameful. However, if it’s brought up in a campaign, I can provide you with papers (whose provenance is beyond reproach!) proving that a young McQ stole cookies from Girl Scouts in 1963. I have the original .JPGs of the incident.
then staying the course is a strategy—the continuance of the current one.
Yes, that’s why I wrote: "Training Iraqi troops until they can take over the defense of their country is a strategy, but it’s not sufficient."

The problem here is that everyone has retreated so deeply into their "side’ that they refuse to acknowledge things that don’t match their opinion.
Exactly!
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Shameful. However, if it’s brought up in a campaign, I can provide you with papers (whose provenance is beyond reproach!) proving that a young McQ stole cookies from Girl Scouts in 1963. I have the original .JPGs of the incident.
Boy, wait until I get ahold of Mary Mapes.

I told her to hold those close!
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The Warner Amendment was more specific. Nevertheless, it seems apparent that Congress wasn’t even demanding the reporting they were due.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Saying that the country can’t win the war; that it isn’t worthwhile to try; that our enemies have peaceful intentions and can be trusted to respect a unilateral cease fire by our troops; calling for US forces to immediately abandon a theater of operations against the enemy, and asking for Congress to strip the President’s powers to direct such a withdrawal or negotiate its terms with foriegn governments, is not just voicing an opinion. It is disloyal behavior designed to bring about an American defeat, and should be denounced as such—as once it was. Joseph P. Kennedy and Charles Lindbergh both resigned their offices and commissions under the federal government after FDR rebuked them for defeatism.

As Rumsfeld said, the Congress has been getting regular reports from the Pentagon. And the President has repeatedly said that our military would work with the government of Iraq on troop training, and if they’re now up to 212,000 troops and security personnel like the Central Command says, they’ve been making good progress over the last 18 months. The Wagner Amendment was a disgrace because it was written to suggest that the Administration hadn’t done any reporting or expression of war aims; that the Senate was competent to impose deadlines on a foriegn government’s performance in wartime; and implied that the Senate would reconsider America’s commitment after each quarterly report. Us "wingers" smell a Democrat policy of incrementalism. Just as the Dems who voted to start the war are now hollering for a pullout, we suspect that the Senators who voted to give Iraq the whole of next year, would abandon the effort after one unpopular quarterly report.
 
Written By: The Yell
URL: http://www.tanhorizons.blogspot.com
My basic view is:

a. We are winning.

b. As in any war in the Mid-East, it will take us "forever" to accomplish our war aims. I define forever, loosely, to mean in our lifetimes.

c. Given the stakes, forever is a reasonable amount of time to be fighting.

d. A "forever" war was completely forseeable at all points in the process. See further, any history of the Crusades, or if you don’t like to read, Lawrence of Ararbia, starring Peter O’Toole.

e. This Administration did less than nothing to prepare the country for a "forever" war.

f. The Administration’s misrepresentations on the time it would take to fight the war (they would greet us with open arms, etc.) are going to prove more damaging, ultimately, then any misrepresentations that may or may not have occurred due to WMD intelligence.

f. It all adds up to the withdrawal of a critical mass of troops before the next Congressional eletction.

g. And if we do that, if we stay in Iraq for less time than "forever," we never should have gone in the first place.
 
Written By: B After The Fact
URL: http://www.bafterthefact.blogspot.com
My basic view is:

a. We are winning.

b. As in any war in the Mid-East, it will take us "forever" to accomplish our war aims. I define forever, loosely, to mean in our lifetimes.

c. Given the stakes, forever is a reasonable amount of time to be fighting.

d. A "forever" war was completely forseeable at all points in the process. See further, any history of the Crusades, or if you don’t like to read, Lawrence of Ararbia, starring Peter O’Toole.

e. This Administration did less than nothing to prepare the country for a "forever" war.

f. The Administration’s misrepresentations on the time it would take to fight the war (they would greet us with open arms, etc.) are going to prove more damaging, ultimately, then any misrepresentations that may or may not have occurred due to WMD intelligence.

f. It all adds up to the withdrawal of a critical mass of troops before the next Congressional eletction.

g. And if we do that, if we stay in Iraq for less time than "forever," we never should have gone in the first place.
 
Written By: B After The Fact
URL: http://www.bafterthefact.blogspot.com

 
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