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Iraq: an "F" for domestic political support
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ralph Peters runs a column which reviews the progress in Iraq. He claims that although you wouldn't know by the headlines, we're actually winning.

A couple of quotes that caught my eye:
Our enemies are far from giving up, of course. But they realize now that Americans won't quit after suffering the first dozen casualties. That came as a shock after the cowardice of past presidential administrations.
Leaving aside the political shot, I always find it interesting how enemies perceive the US and it's military. We see talk about how we've misjudged certain things pertaining to Iraq, but if any worse misjudgements were made they were by al Queda and Iraq. Both were convinced the US was a decadent society with little stomach for fighting or casualties. They believed that all they had to do was get us in extended combat and they'd eventually win. To some extent a portion of the political establishement here is attempting to prove that latter part to be true. But if there is one thing Iraq should do for tin-pot dictators and terrorist leaders alike is it should put the military "paper tiger" meme to rest once and for all.

Much of that meme stemmed from North Vietnam's success in finally taking South Vietnam and the myth that the US had been militarily defeated there. Heck the US military wasn't even in Vietnam when the end came (they'd been gone for 2 years). But I'll never forget an NVA general's reaction to a question about what surprised him most about American troops. I paraphrase, but he was surprised by the ferocity with which they fought and their willingness to fight to the death. Nothing has changed.

Even in a war as unpopular as Vietnam, our military performed well. That is the lesson which should have been taken from VN. But, as many accuse this administration of doing, our enemies decided to take other lessons from that 10 year fight. It has cost them dearly in Iraq. One hopes that this lesson won't be lost on others of Saddam and bin Laden's ilk.
Still, any fair-minded review of the last several years of American engagement abroad would conclude that, despite painful mistakes, we've changed the world for the better. The results have been imperfect, as such results always will be. But the bewildering sense of gloom and doom fostered my many in the media is as unjustified as it is corrosive.

Our global report card right now? A for effort. B for results. C for consistency. D for media integrity. And F for domestic political responsibility.
I might throw a few minuses (-) in there but in general I agree with the grades he's put up there. Again the lesson to be learned here is in the realm of "media integrity" and "domestic political responsiblity". We've seen this before. And like some dictators and terrorists we seem to have drawn the wrong lesson from it. The lesson should be that once the debate has been waged and the decision made (properly and Constitutionally) to go to war, we should put partisan bickering aside and wage that war as a nation.

That's not to say you can't criticize the effort. Every effort is going to have unforseen obstacles and problems. Every effort is going to need to be tweaked and corrected.

But there are constructive ways to do it and destructive ways to do it. The lesson should be we owe it to those we put in harm's way to carry on a constructive conversation to help them better do their jobs. And we need to be sure that mixed messages, such as those from Vietnam, aren't again sent out to potential future enemies. All it does is cost American lives as we again have to prove we aren't "paper tigers". I think that point is getting through concerning the military. However it would appear in the political realm, paper tigers are still rampant.
 
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Some people are more interested in re-fighting the lead-up to the war, as if hindsight is the best judge of the facts and conditions as we knew them then. As if, this or that footnote on such and such a report, should have outweighed all the rest of the information and estimates.

They are the ones dragging us back to the question, should we have gone to war, when the important question today is, what is the best way to achieve our goals in Iraq.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
That came as a shock after the cowardice of past presidential administrations.
I don’t see it as a chaep political shot....because it applies to every president from Carter to Clinton.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I don’t see it as a chaep political shot....because it applies to every president from Carter to Clinton.
I didn’t call it a "cheap political shot", I just didn’t see it as germane to my point.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
After meeting with the leaders of Vietnam after the war. Robert MacNamara has pointed out that:

1. The vietnam war was completely unnecessary
2. Had we kept fighting there we would still be fighting there today.

Victory was never an option. He really ought to know. It was his idea in the first place.

 
Written By: cindy bravo
URL: http://
In Iraq, american resouces are lost every day that we stay. American credibility is hurt every day that we stay. Islamic fundimentalism grows stronger every day that we stay.

The idea that a Sh*te controled Iraq will be an American friend in the middle east is just absurd. That we are going to spend a trillion dollars and kill thousands more "staying the course" to make Iraq safe for Iranians is tragic.
 
Written By: cindy bravo
URL: http://
2. Had we kept fighting there we would still be fighting there today.
That’s not true. The NVs were on the verge of negotiating peace on several occassions as they have admitted. One was when we arbitrarily stopped the bombing of Hanoi during Christmas (and for the life of me I can’t recall the year off hand). They had decided to end it at that time, and our unilateral decision to stop the bombing caused them to decide against quitting.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Yeah, you’re right, Cindy B. We should just forget about Islamic Fundamentalism. It’ll just go away, eventually. I.F. will eventually just morph into the status quo.

"That we are going to spend a trillion dollars and kill thousands more "staying the course" to make Iraq safe for Iranians is tragic."
I thought lefties didn’t care for such material things, like money. Oh, wait, the Me Me Me! Free Health Care crowd is all about the Benjamins....
 
Written By: 1849ers
URL: http://
It is extremely germane that previous administrations projected cowardice to the enemies of the US. Why? Because the next administration stands a good chance of reverting to cowardice projection unless the US public understands the issue and the stakes involved. Thicker skin, please.
 
Written By: Melinda
URL: http://
It would be nice if MacNamara didn’t gloss over the fact that South Vietnam was a continuation of the proxy war between the ’West’ (US & allies) and the ’East’ (Soviet Union/China).

What was inevitable was that it would have sprung up someplace else, as it did on the African continent, and attempted to do in Central and South America.
You can fight them to a stand still when you’re seriously fighting a war and are willing to take it to their territory.

But ignore history and context CB, because it’s always more convenient.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
People like Cindy B can’t escape the Vietnam prison they continually box themselves into
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Criticizing the war is not criticizing the soliders. Wars are fought for political ends and there is nothing wrong in criticizing wars. Even if you criticize soliders, what is the harm in that ?? The fact that the Armed Forces being subservient to the Civilians (and the fact that the citizens pay for the Armed forces thru taxes) means that one can criticize the Armed forces without their patriotism being called into question. Nobody can dictate what is constructive/destructive criticism. People are free to criticize in any which way they feel like as long as it is done in a lawful manner...
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Carter did very little in regards to Iran, or the Soviets invading Afghanistan (other then pushing them into invading Afghanistan through early support of the mujahdin.)

Reagan had a hand in it when we left Beruit (probably shouldn’t have gone in the first place.)

Bush I had a hand in it when we left Saddam in Iraq.

Clinton, well Black Hawk Down left a sizable impression with al Queda.

So, while the bookends might be Democrat, the Republican Presidents between them, didn’t help matters.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Nobody can dictate what is constructive/destructive criticism. People are free to criticize in any which way they feel like as long as it is done in a lawful manner...
This can only hold true, if you believe that such criticism doesn’t have real and concrete consequences...

But it does, whether that criticism is from potential Presidential candidates, members of Congress, the "elite" in this country, or the natterings of people like us, some criticism does do harm to our efforts, and the people trying to accomplish them.

Sapping our political will to win in Iraq, is harming our ability, and giving comfort to the enemy, who certainly reads the headlines and editorials against the President, and against this war. And they certainly take heart when they see such obvious division in our country. And you can bet they think, if only we can hold out a little longer, the American public will force the government to get out of Iraq.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Keith, one reason "some people are more interested in re-fighting the lead-up to the war" is that we are trying to establish who is or is not qualified to contribute to the discussion of "what is the best way to achieve our goals in Iraq."

Frankly, I don’t trust those who were catastrophically wrong in conducting the lead-up to be honest about 1) what our goals are now (remember, the Administration has provided at least 20 separate reasons for the invasion of Iraq), and 2) how to best achieve those goals.

Call me cynical.
 
Written By: farmgirl
URL: http://
Bull****, McQ.

You’re a good guy who feels loyalty to the armed forces and thinks that they don’t deserve to be criticized because they try real hard for our country. Actually, I basically agree with that - on the grunt level. Make no mistake though, generals are politicians. Donald Rumsfeld is a politician. President Bush is a politician. If you think that we should all play nice with your and Donald Rumsfeld’s feelings when the lives of millions of truly innocent people are at stake, I will not respect your request.

Your foolish and destructive paradigm of "question our basic goals, methods and strategies and you serve our enemies" is something I see as the primary threat to the long-term stability of our republic - kind of like how you see the "lack of political support" as the same long-term threat.

Try to absorb this: If me and the anti-war left, not to mention the anti-empire right and middle, are correct, your mentality - not mine - is going to end up handing the entire ball game - and I do care about winning that ballgame - to our enemies. If this war in Iraq basically served Osama Bin Laden - and I believe that with deadly seriousness - then the anti-war left are patriots for trying to drag our country away from its personal game of Russian roulette.

Me, I think Iraq is a much better incubator and creator of terrorists and extremists than it was five years ago. I blame the war in Iraq for casting a shadow over our general success against Al-Quieda that may eventually grind our progress in that war to a halt and reverse it.

We’re not the only ones willing to fight to the last drop of blood. In fact, that is one area where armed nonstate actors will always have an edge over democracies.

So if you think that our little five-year swing in Mesopotamia has helped keep America safe, congradulations. I don’t. Can you prove it? No. So you go out on a pretty d*mn wide limb when you equate my active hositility to the war and its executors with losing the general war on terror. I think your active support for the war in Iraq, and the militaristic approach in general, is losing the general war on terror.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
There’s a similar phoenomenon in Israel, where rightist newspapers produce editorals on an almost weekly basis for excoriating the public relations efforts and diplomatic departments within Israel for failing to "sell the war".
State Departments and PR firms come and go, and yet they all do a miserable job.

This is sort of a clue that the problem isn’t with the State Department, the PR company or, for that matter, Ehud Olmert - or George Bush’s selling job. it isn’t the media’s fault that this war is unpopular and people want out and think it was a mistake. There’s no conspiracy. The simple facts of the situation overwhelm any attempt at spin.

Ralph Peters is a joke. Next you’ll be making casualty comparisons to WWII.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Glasnost: the conceptual leaps you make are truly staggering.
If you think that we should all play nice with your and Donald Rumsfeld’s feelings when the lives of millions of truly innocent people are at stake, I will not respect your request.
Who said anything about "playing nice?" I said if you have a beef, make a constructive case. And I gave two good examples of what I meant. There’s a difference between standing on the sidelines and throwing rocks at someone trying to build a rock wall and showing them that perhaps stacking the rocks differently might have better results.

Yes, be my guest, throw all the rocks you want to, but don’t expect me to not say anything about it. If you insist on the right to throw them I have an equal right to condemn you for doing so and to explain why I feel you’re engaged in destructive behavior.
So if you think that our little five-year swing in Mesopotamia has helped keep America safe, congradulations. I don’t. Can you prove it? No.
You sound like a 5 year old, for heaven sake. Prove what? Some contention I didn’t make? We call those strawman... and I’m not taking the bait.
Ralph Peters is a joke. Next you’ll be making casualty comparisons to WWII.
[chuckle] Well of course he is ... and with a hand-wave, glasnost deserts the field.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Some people are more interested in re-fighting the lead-up to the war,
You are presupposing an honest debate was had in the lead-up. I’m not, and I think I have evidence on my side.

McQ, yours is a prescription for foreign policy by the bootstraps - without any meaningful consensus (and I don’t think that ’consensus’ based on the not-entirely forthright sales job wRT Iraq counts as such) an administration can drag the country far afield by simply sticking it’s toe through a small gap and saying "look, we’re here now, we’re all in this together. PULL EVERYONE!" Democracy at work? Hardly.
 
Written By: Pooh
URL: http://sethyblog.blogspot.com
McQ, yours is a prescription for foreign policy by the bootstraps - without any meaningful consensus (and I don’t think that ’consensus’ based on the not-entirely forthright sales job wRT Iraq counts as such) an administration can drag the country far afield by simply sticking it’s toe through a small gap and saying "look, we’re here now, we’re all in this together. PULL EVERYONE!" Democracy at work? Hardly.
Well Pooh, this might come as a surprise to you, but foreign policy is mostly the purview of the executive branch. What I’m suggesting is there should be a debate, and a lively one, among all branches and the people. But I’m also pointing out that once we decide, as democratic republics do that sort of thing, we ought to then get behind the effort 100%. I also point out that doesn’t mean you can’t critisize the effort if you think it is going wrong. But constructive criticism is much more useful than rock throwing.

What is so horribly wrong with that? That’s how we’ve won wars in the past? And not doing that is how we’ve "lost" them as well. Which do you prefer?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Both were convinced the US was a decadent society with little stomach for fighting or casualties. They believed that all they had to do was get us in extended combat and they’d eventually win."

This seems to be a common misconception about the US. The Germans, Japanese, and assorted others have made this same error in judgement.

" Robert MacNamara has pointed out that:..."

Bobby Mac is hardly a reliable source of anything, especially his own actions. At one time or another he has said just about everything. That and his failed policies, including those not related to VN, do not speak well of his judgement.

"The NVs were on the verge of negotiating peace on several occassions.."

I thought they were negotiating peace in Paris for several years. How long did it take to agree on the shape of the table, I forget? And since when did peace negotiations prevent communists from waging war?

"This can only hold true, if you believe that such criticism doesn’t have real and concrete consequences..."

Tough. That’s the price we pay for having a 1st amendment and free speech. That’s why we have armies in the first place. It may be a paradox that we can be harmed by the very freedoms we fight for, but that’s the price.

"There’s a difference between standing on the sidelines and throwing rocks at someone trying to build a rock wall and showing them that perhaps stacking the rocks differently might have better results."

What if your opinion is that the wall is not necessary in the first place?


 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"What is so horribly wrong with that? That’s how we’ve won wars in the past?"

That and occasionally a little government censorship and sanctions.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
People are free to criticize in any which way they feel like as long as it is done in a lawful manner...

True. But just because one has a right to do something does not make it right to do.

One reason so much of the anti-war criticism is so wrong is that it is based on those persistent myths - "Bush Lied," "Saddam had no ties to al Qaeda." Criticism based on fallacies is never OK.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
This can only hold true, if you believe that such criticism doesn’t have real and concrete consequences...
Well, I criticize so that there be a consequence...I wouldn’t bother to write on this board if I thought that there might be no consequence..
But it does, whether that criticism is from potential Presidential candidates, members of Congress, the "elite" in this country, or the natterings of people like us, some criticism does do harm to our efforts, and the people trying to accomplish them.
On the contrary, the criticism being leveled now will help to us stop digging ourselves further into a hole (Just like what the anti-war people did in Vietnam). Whether we like it or not, the Iraq War has not been a victory for us. It has become a stalemate. And a stalemate in this kinda conflict usually means.......
Sapping our political will to win in Iraq, is harming our ability, and giving comfort to the enemy, who certainly reads the headlines and editorials against the President, and against this war. And they certainly take heart when they see such obvious division in our country. And you can bet they think, if only we can hold out a little longer, the American public will force the government to get out of Iraq.
Yeah, but the headlines and the editorials also put pressure on OUR government to do something about the quagmire. Imagine that we don’t write any editorials/op-eds on the newspapers, do you think there would have been any political progress (whatever little) in Iraq ? We don’t have to prove how united our country is when there is an external attack on us...It was proved beyond doubt in the aftermath of 9/11.
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
wWell I support BOTH the War in Iraq and the GWoT and see the former as a front in the latter. But I will say this, "Domestic support" for US wars has varied wildly, and I think that you will find:
Pro-Glasnost (in a way):
Almost EVERY war the United States has fought has had significant domestic opposition. The Revolutionary War saw the Tories. The War of 1812 saw the Federalists, IIRC, meet at the Hartford Convention in 1815. One of the proposals was a separate peace for new England and New England secession from the Union. Whilst those positions were rejected they were debated. The Mexican American War saw the penning of Thoreau’s "On the Right and Duty of Civil Disobedience", I might note written, in part whilst in jail-something later day protestors oft forget. US Grant did not believe the war just, even though he and RE Lee both fought with distinction in it. The Civil War saw the "Copperheads" and McClellan’s 1864 Peace Campaign in opposition to Lincoln’s continued support for the war. The Spanish-American War and its aftermath in the Philippines resulted in significant Liberal opposition to US Imperialism, with many "reports" of "atrocities" being committed by US troops-not all of which were true OR untrue, it can be argued that the Laws of War, such as they were, were broken by the US Army in the Philippines upon occasion. World War I saw Schenck v. United States, "Clear and Present Danger" Test. Schenck being opposed to the war and the imposition of the draft. The US Army deployed troops to break strikes at copper mines, the striker being Leftist Union workers in opposition to the war.

ONLY the the Second World War has had pretty much UNQUALIFIED support by the public, thru the fortuitous nature of events. Until June 1941 the Left opposed the war because the USSR opposed the war. It was not until the attack on Pearl Harbor that the Right supported the war. The Draft was sustained by fewer than 10 votes in 1941, a coalition of Leftists and Rightists opposed its continuation. If the Japanese and Hitler had been smarter they MIGHT have kept the US out of the war, certainly their actions unified the US more so than it might have otherwise have been unified.

Bottom-line: Glasnost is right. He follows in a LONG tradition of Americans in opposing his nation in this particular conflict, Iraq. Americans have pulled for the other side in almost every one of our wars or wished to end the war on almost any terms if you prefer. I would hazard a guess that on the average 15-40% of the US populace has wanted "the war" to end on almost any terms, to include the defeat of the US Government’s stated objectives for that particular war. So McQ’s contention or request that we all pull together certainly doesn’t fly in the face of US history.

McQ’s side, if you will:
The fact that lots of Americans had the right and exercised their right to oppose the US Government in war time doesn’t make them RIGHT. As one Representative told Oliver North, "Colonel the People of the United States have the Constitutional Right to be WRONG." Glasnost, you have the RIGHT to oppose, BUT YOU’RE WRONG. You may follow in a long line of folks, but you follow in a long line of folks who were WRONG. In almost everyone of those cases I listed the opponents to the war were wrong and their victory would NOT have been good for the US. So Glasnost a word of caution, you stand in the company of a host of losers, well-intentioned losers, but losers nonetheless. You might want to reconsider your position.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"There’s a difference between standing on the sidelines and throwing rocks at someone trying to build a rock wall and showing them that perhaps stacking the rocks differently might have better results."

What if your opinion is that the wall is not necessary in the first place?
Then have a revolution and overthrow the government because apparently a constitutional republic isn’t something you particularly care for.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
That and occasionally a little government censorship and sanctions.
I must have missed the lesson where they said "war and peace are synonyms".

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Consider that the political successes in Iraq have been:

A) under-reported

B) derided as unimportant

C) lost to the next car bombing for space on the front page

D) there importance minimized

Even now, the usual suspects are lining up to say that the Iraqis forming a government means either, nothing, or that we should pull completely out.

The media and the sanctimonious cries of "QUAGMIRE" (which I will remind everyone were yelled first 2 weeks into the conflict) are playing a negative role in events. They are not informing the public about what is occuring in Iraq, only about certain peoples pre-judged opinions about what they want to see in Iraq.

And unfortunately, there is need for some to play revisionist with history, in order for them to appear correct.

But, somehow, very important political events happened roughly on the schedule that was set out for them.

1) the hand over to a temporary Iraqi government

2) the first round of elections

3) the drafting of a constitution

4) the ratifying of the constitution

5) the forming of a sovereign Iraqi government

Not to mention the hundreds of local elections of governing councils, mayors and what not, that didn’t receive anything more then a passing mention (if at all) from the MSM.

Plenty has been happening despite all the negativity in the press.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008415
The president misled Americans to convince them to go to war. "There is no question [the Bush administration] misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq," according to Ted Kennedy. Jimmy Carter charged that on Iraq, "President Bush has not been honest with the American people." And Al Gore has said that an "abuse of the truth" characterized the administration’s "march to war." These charges are themselves misleading, which explains why no independent body has found them credible. Most of the world was operating from essentially the same set of assumptions regarding Iraq’s WMD capabilities. Important assumptions turned out wrong; but mistakenly relying on faulty intelligence is a world apart from lying about it.

...

The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments. ... his myth is shattered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s bipartisan Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. Among the findings: "The committee did not find any evidence that intelligence analysts changed their judgments as a result of political pressure, altered or produced intelligence products to conform with administration policy, or that anyone even attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to do so." Silberman-Robb concluded the same, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community’s prewar assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs. . . . Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments." What the report did find is that intelligence assessments on Iraq were "riddled with errors"; "most of the fundamental errors were made and communicated to policy makers well before the now-infamous NIE of October 2002, and were not corrected in the months between the NIE and the start of the war."

Because weapons of mass destruction stockpiles weren’t found, Saddam posed no threat. Howard Dean declared Iraq "was not a danger to the United States." John Murtha asserted, "There was no threat to our national security." Max Cleland put it this way: "Iraq was no threat. We now know that. There are no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons programs." Yet while we did not find stockpiles of WMD in Iraq, what we did find was enough to alarm any sober-minded individual.

Upon his return from Iraq, weapons inspector David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), told the Senate: "I actually think this may be one of those cases where [Iraq under Saddam Hussein] was even more dangerous than we thought." His statement when issuing the ISG progress report said: "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities" that were part of "deliberate concealment efforts" that should have been declared to the U.N. And, he concluded, "Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and other insiders who worked in his military-industrial programs, had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction."

...

Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization. "The president now says that the war is really about the spread of democracy in the Middle East. This effort at after-the-fact justification was only made necessary because the primary rationale was so sadly lacking in fact," according to Nancy Pelosi.

In fact, President Bush argued for democracy taking root in Iraq before the war began. To take just one example, he said in a speech on Feb. 26, 2003: "A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America’s interests in security, and America’s belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq. . . . The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. And there are hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East. . . . A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region."
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Who said anything about "playing nice?" I said if you have a beef, make a constructive case. And I gave two good examples of what I meant. There’s a difference between standing on the sidelines and throwing rocks at someone trying to build a rock wall and showing them that perhaps stacking the rocks differently might have better results.
Constructive criticism is helpful only if those at whom it is directed are willing to listen to it. The Bush administration is not. Indeed, this is a hallmark of the Bush administration.

And make no mistake: When we "lose" in Iraq, and we will, it will be the fault of the Bush administration. And no one else’s. The media did not decide to go in with too few troops. The media did not go in without a plan for the post-war. The media did not go in without a realistic plan to train the police. The media did not fail to understand the sectarian strife that was bound to arise in a security vacuum. The Bush administration is responsible for these failures. No one else is. And no amount of rah rah cheering on the home front is going to make the Bush administration any more competent. None. Zip. Nada.

Peters is from the "stab in the back" school. According to his kind, wars are never lost because of poor planning or execution, or because of superior enemy firepower, or enemy will, or any of those variables that most sane people think of when analyzing the reasons that a particular conflict ended a certain way. According to Peters, they are lost because of lack of domestic support on the homefront. It’s the same argument Hitler made in explaining Germany’s loss in WWI. It’s the same revisionist argument that is now made about Vietnam. It’s the same argument that is being made now about Iraq.

There is a great article in the current Harper’s about the "stab in the back" school of thought. The article traces the history of the phenomenon in the United States post WWII. If you really want to understand Peters and his twisted way of thinking, read the article. There is nothing new about what he is saying. It’s a tradition that goes back decades. It’s baseless, of course. But for those diehards who are not willing to admit that the current leadership is responsble for losing the war, it’s a useful out.

BTW, here is what Peters has to say about Iraq:
The mainstream media said it couldn’t be done, so the Iraqis did it: Under new Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, they formed a permanent government based on free elections


Notice how he doesn’t quote a source? Did the NYT say that? No. CBS? No. ABC? No. CNN? No. No mainstream media outlet has ever taken the position that the Iraqis couldn’t form a government. Peters is a liar. But then that is the essence of the "stab in the back" school.

Moreover, there is no permanent government without a permanent interior minister. The number one pressing problem in Iraq now is security. The interior ministry is responsible for that. But it has no permanent minister. And there doesn’t appear to be an acceptable one on the horizon. The same goes for the ministries of defense and national security. Basically, the permanent government of which Peters speaks has not only failed to deal with the most pressing problems, it doesn’t not even have anyone in place for the job in the first place. It has simply kicked the problems down the road.

And it gets worse. From the Council on Foreign Relations:
Forming a cabinet is only the beginning, however, as a battle looms over proposals to amend the constitution. Iraq’s three major ethnic groups disagree over revenue sharing, federalism, and the role of religion in Iraq’s political and judicial discourse. Sensitive among Kurds is the future status of Kirkuk, an oil-rich city that is ethnically mixed but claimed by Kurds.

Continuing discord between Shiites and Sunnis also bodes ill for bringing calm to Iraq and hurts prospects of an early exit for the 130,000 U.S. forces in Iraq. As the security situation worsens, Iraqis tell the Los Angeles Times they lack faith in their new leaders, who are viewed as isolated behind the Green Zone’s closely guarded walls and checkpoints. Journalist Nir Rosen, speaking recently at the Council on Foreign Relations, put it more bluntly: "I think the events in the Green Zone have always been irrelevant for what’s really going on in Iraq and more of a show for us back here perhaps."
Exactly. A show for Peters and for McQ too. Indeed, according to Peters’ "logic," the problems in Iraq would go away if the American media really got behind the war effort. Peters really seems to believe this. Apparently McQ does too.

Deluded to the bitter end.


 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
"There’s a difference between standing on the sidelines and throwing rocks at someone trying to build a rock wall and showing them that perhaps stacking the rocks differently might have better results."

Ah yes, if only we stacked the rocks a bit differently everything would be OK.

I recall a blog post recently that perfectly dealt with this angle.

I can’t recall where I saw it so I’ll paraphrase.

Imagine the CEO of a corporation changes strategy and decides to take the companies cash reserves to Vegas to gamble, for the company.

A stock holder might complain that the House always wins and such a strategy is insane!

McQ would reply that unless the stockholder had an idea to improve the CEO’s odds of winning, he just isn’t being "constructive".

Yes, if we only tried putting lipstick on that pig.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
Deluded to the bitter end.
I do wonder what you’re going to say if it all works.

Well, not really. I already know. It’s going to be a chorus of crickets.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Then have a revolution and overthrow the government because apparently a constitutional republic isn’t something you particularly care for."

When have we, or any other constitutional republic, been 100% behind anything? And why is it necessary? I am not even sure it is desireable.

"I must have missed the lesson where they said "war and peace are synonyms"."

Sorry, you have lost me.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
McQ, what is "works?"

I could plausibly argue that it’s already worked. Just define a set of values. If all you care about in the world is the removal from power of Saddamn Hussein, it worked. End of story. We can all go home.

Or, h***, if you judge that the security of american citizens demands promoting democracy, right now, no matter how many people we kill to do it, then you can say it’s worked. We’ve probably promoted democracy in Iraq.

If I thought that less people dying = works, I could argue that Saddamn Hussein’s government worked by comparison to what’s happening right now in Iraq. Saddamn killed a hell of a lot of people - hundreds of thousands in the 1980’s and early 90’s. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, he killed, it seems, in the hundereds and single digit thousands. In 2003-2006, we’re back to 10,000 deaths a year. Therefore, Saddamn’s government worked, right?

Obviously this isn’t true. Right? How many times in international politics do we forgive mass murderers do that mass murder does not continue? The answer is: more often than we bring them to justice. It’s a sad state of affairs, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to pursue justice down a road paved that vastly increases deaths.

So, whatever happens in Iraq, I’m sure it will be ambigious enough so that everyone will proclaim it "worked". You can claim that Mao Zedong’s China "worked" too - it used to kill millions of people, and now we have a state that, again, kills a lot less than that. For that matter, the US government used to kill a lot more people more regularly than it does now, so I guess the U.S. government "worked", as well. Generous of me to admit, eh?

The instinct is to claim all of these cases as baloney, but:

when less people die than were dying previously, that is what works, to me.
I also think that Iraq will basically be basically stable and not killing very many people in 2016. Does that mean that the war in Iraq "worked", to me, by my own rules? Well, something will, in the end, work.

That isn’t really an answer, or even the same question, as "was America better off going to war in Iraq, or not?"
Or, the grimmer question, "are the citizens in Iraq better off?"

Better off than what? Who the heck knows what Iraq would have done without our armed intervention in 2016?

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I’d be happy to make the argument that the war in Iraq worked, if that would lead to the policy changes I think make sense. What’s the difference between the argument "The war worked great, let’s go home", and "we’re making things worse, let’s go home?" Basically, semantics and value judgements.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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