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Not Getting it Done
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, October 11, 2006

At the moment, I'm reading Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, by Thomas Ricks.

There's nothing, really, in the book that we didn't already know. And nothing, really, that we haven't complained about here over the past couple of years.

But there is something about reading it all condensed into a single volume that just prompts outrage. The truth about Saddam Hussein, the conditions in Iraq, and the state of WMD progress there came out in dribs and drabs over several months. As such, the outrage one felt was really rationed over time, preventing any single thing from prompting cries of, "What the f*ck were we thinking!"

When it's all condensed into a few pages that can be read in one sitting, it's hard yo escape that outrage, however, for two reasons.

First, it makes the whole US Government, not just the Bush Administration, look utterly incompetent. For instance, there's a scene where Colin Powell is preparing his Iraq presentation to the UN. George Tenet is also there. Whenever Mr. Powell asks, "How solid is our sourcing and confidence for this bit of intelligence?", Mr. Tenet gets on the phone, and asks some CIA flunky how solid the intelligence is. Then he responds to Mr. Powell, "Oh, we're sure. 100 percent." And Mr. Powell incorporates the intelligence into his UN presentation.

Of course, we know now that we weren't 100% sure. Indeed, we weren't sure at all. All of the low-level analysts were saying to the CIA and DIA, "We can't find any evidence of ongoing WMD work at all." Yet, when the intelligence "analysis" got to the DCI level, it was all "slam-dunk" when it came to Iraqi WMDs. All of the low-level analysts just assumed that the big boys at CIA and DIA were seeing intelligence to which they weren't privy, when, in reality, that wasn't true.

Yet the 2002 NIE, submitted to the president, was full of scary Iraqi WMD activities that weren't, in fact, taking place. Somewhere between the low-level analysts and the NIE, the analysts saying, "We don't see any evidence of Iraqi WMD activity" got transmogrified to ""We don't see any evidence of Iraqi WMD activity, which is proof the Iraqis are hiding something!"

How does that happen?!

The problem apparently isn't that the Bushies manipulated the intel. The problem was that, despite what the analysts were saying, the intel that was reaching the DCI level was wildly incorrect, so that, when Mr. Tenet told the president that Iraqi WMDs were a "slam-dunk", he was relating a picture that had nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

Moreover, even if he had been relaying reality, who would've believed it? It was, after all, the CIA that estimated Soviet GDP was seven times what it actually was, and who were stunned into stupefaction when the Warsaw pact cracked open like an over-ripe egg.

And that's not an inconsequential consideration. As Peggy Noonan put it last week,
Here I add something I have been thinking about the past year. It is about the young guys at the table in the Reagan era. The young, mid-level guys who came to Washington in the Reagan years were always at the table in the meeting with the career State Department guy. And the man from State, timid in all ways except bureaucratic warfare, was always going "Ooh, aah, you can't do that, the Soviet Union is so big, Galbraith told us how strong their economy is, the Sandinistas have the passionate support of the people, there's nothing we can do, stop with your evil empire and your Grenada invasion, it's needlessly aggressive!" Those guys from State—they were almost always wrong. Their caution was timorousness, their prudence a way to evade responsibility. The young Reagan guys at the table grew up to be the heavyweights of the Bush era. They walked into the White House knowing who'd been wrong at the table 20 years before. And so when State and others came in and said, "The intelligence doesn't support it, we see no WMDs," the Bush men knew who not to believe.
It's a perfect example of the Human Factor. The State Department guys are always weasels, so screw them. As it turns out, that was correct in the Reagan Era, but not correct in regards to Saddam Hussein. In the latter case, the State guys actually were right. Although, like the boy who cried wolf, they were right at the wrong time—too late for anyone to believe.

But there were many of us—me, included—who thought that those guys were just as wrong about Iraq as they had been about the USSR. All of the striped-pants, lace-panty boys at State were creaming themselves to make nice with the Sovs, so why listen to them? They were a bunch of appeasers, right? So the thing to do was to ignore their warnings and invade Iraq.

Except, this time, they were right. Assuming that the containment policy of the Clinton Administration was working, we could've, with some inconvenience—kept it going indefinitely. On the other hand, if the containment regime of the UN was failing—as it surely was—Iraq could've been in the position under Saddam Hussein to restart its WMD programs in earnest.

So the truly frustrating thing is the knowledge that this leaves us...where?

To be fair to myself, of course, I didn't much care about Iraqi WMDs. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was ample enough of a goal for me. I always felt that, being on active duty in 1991, we were cheated of victory. I wanted to see the Ba'athist regime finally done in.

But Ricks makes it clear that we also didn't do any serious planning for post-war Iraq either. And that lack of planning got several senior military people PO'd.

McQ criticized Marine Lt. Gen Geoffrey Newbold back in April, saying,
That, of course is second-guessing, and, frankly, I think his reasoning is incorrect, but if he felt it was that big of a mistake, why didn’t he put his stars on the desk? Newbold was the guy who was in charge of the planning which went into the Iraqi invasion. And while I appreciate his candid comments now, where were they then?
Well, according to Ricks, they were, in fact, the reason for his resigning in protest over what he felt was Donald Rumsfeld's lack of concern over the post-war phase of Iraq's occupation.

But, even knowing that, where does that leave us?

I dunno.

Whatever happened in 2002, the only relevant question is where we are now in Iraq in 2006, and what do we do in the future? And who do we trust in, say, 2009, when President Clinton (H.), or President Giuliani declares we must attack Iran? How do we know they have any more insight than the Bush Administration did in 2002?

You know, there used to be the idea that, no matter how incompetent the government was at re-distributing income, or other domestic policy activities, we could at least trust the government to figure out when and how to kill foreigners correctly. Now, it appear that government can't even figure out how to do that.

And that's a real problem, even at the trigger-puller, bullet stopper level I used to inhabit.

At the enlisted level, there's an unspoken agreement. We don't expect the officers to save our lives. Indeed, we expect them to expend us if necessary. But we also expect that they have an overall strategy to ensure that they don't spend our lives in vain. That they will expend us only to the extent that it brings our national strategy to realization.

And, really, at the enlisted level, we don't really expect to be expended in any case. We tell ourselves, "Yea, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I am the baddest motherf*cker in the valley. And that's a mental attitude that tends to stick with you. (Even today, when I walk through places like Long Beach, which a lot of people find...scary...I still assume I'm the baddest motherf*cker on the street. Which, I suspect, means that it's fortunate I rarely get up to Long Beach, especially as the years go by, and I get older.)

But what happens when that trust is broken? When, in fact, no one at a policy level actually does have a plan with any meaning?

I dunno.

And what happens when people like the Democrats do have a plan, but it consists of nothing other than..."run away!"?

I dunno about that either.

Increasingly, though, I don't know which side is right, and which is wrong.

And I don't know what to do about that, either.

As far as I can tell, bad people want to kill us, and neither party can be reliably trusted to navigate the shoals between "stop them from killing us", and "Go out and kill them."

Which leaves us where?

I dunno.
 
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Man, it only took you four years to get to where some of us already have been for a loooooong time. It’s kind of funny you seem to have written this without being intentionally funny: "But Ricks makes it clear that we also didn’t do any serious planning for post-war Iraq either."

NO? REALLY? YER KIDDIN’!
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
Man, it only took you four years to get to where some of us already have been for a loooooong time.
I’ve been there for a long time, too, ass.

It just happens that I’m reading a history of it now, and it occasions some comments.

But let’s not pretend that your guys have any solution other than saying, "F*ck it!" and walking away.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
"And what happens when people like the Democrats do have a plan, but it consists of nothing other than..."run away!"?"
Smart people, I think, dedicate themselves to upsetting the applecart. The best way to do that at this point is not to vote for the candidate who best reflects your personal views—because if you are of a libertarian or constitutionalist stripe, there aren’t enough people who agree with you.

If you recall, I’m quite sure the problem is the two parties of our two party system. So get rid of the current parties. There are reasons for first past the post that are good enough I think we should keep that.

Parties exist to fufill the needs of their constituencies, and of the two, the Democrats are doing by far a worse job of it. If they were to fail to gain a significant majority in 2006, and lose again in 2008, non other than James Carville has said the premises of the party would need to be rethought.

Vote Republican until the Dems go down.

Then the Reps can be fractured, and in fact their three big constituencies have little reason to stay together.

I could easily stand it if either kept the same name, but either a reconfigured Democrat or Republican Party, or an entirely new party—possibly two—would result.

As you are realizing, we could scarcely do worse than we are now.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Oh, and McQ, splitting the legislative control between the two parties is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Your efforts at explaining how that’s improvement then and since are pathetic, worth about $2.50.

I’m Paypaling you the money today.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
In most of our wars, I would assume there were equally vast levels of incompetence, poor weaponry, awful planning, etc.

However, this war we started, i.e. we could pick and choose the time and place more so than in our other wars. That means there is no excuse for poor planning.

Except maybe that there was insufficient information to plan correctly for some contingencies, or that the strategy used, failed. (For example, lack of true info on Iraqi power plants’ capabilities, or the "go light" strategy.

Still, there should have been way better planning regarding the majority of problems, like Iraqi army, possible insurgency, etc. Or do you then worry about Clarke levels of all planning and no action?

Nah, gut feeling must be right that if we could choose the date of our attacks, we should have been able to prepare much better than we did. I’ll have to read the book when I am in a better mood.



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
You are now witness to the effects of propaganda, even though you haven’t identified them as such, Dale. It’s easy enough to fall into that. But...Your first indication of this should have been when Willis showed up in the Amen section.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
The problem is hubris — the leaders had an excessive amount of confidence and certainty in their theory, and thus assumed the details would work themselves out. They reasoned, logically in a kind of ivory tower sense, that the only way to truly defeat terrorism and the myriad of threats it could pose in the coming decades was to alter the political landscape by spreading capitalism and democracy. Iraq was key; it was doable, the Iraqis had a modern secular (if also authoritarian) tradition, Iraqi dissidents were assuring them that Iraqis would welcome the change, and the new Iraq would be more friendly to Israel, meaning peace would be easier between the Israelis and Palestinians because another major enemy of Israel would be removed. Pressure could then be put on Iran, Syria and a mix of American will to use force and the fact America has the largest military in the world (a ’unipolar power’ as Krauthammer observed) meant that we were in a unique position to have the power to shape the 21st century, if we had the courage to use it.

That’s why intelligence gets manipulated, and the war gets sold: the key was not WMD or even Saddam but the need to start this grand and bold experiment. The trouble was, if they had paid attention to experts on the region and history they should have realized that their plan was fantasy. Democratic capitalist systems are difficult to build, and require that corruption be reduced, a spirit of compromise and tolerance of different opinions develop (meaning political competition is not holy war), economic stability/growth, and security. They assumed throwing loads of money at reconstruction would bring this about, but Iraqi political culture is corrupt, has deep divisions, and conditions there are currently working against stability and democracy at every level. Iraq won’t "stand up" because it can’t stand up, it’s not the leaders, they are dealing with a political system so divided and weakened that it isn’t something they could accomplish if they only had the will. The foreign invaders have already failed and at best can be drawn into a lengthy insurgency that can only weaken us. In short, the top levels — Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney — believed their theories so much that they didn’t truly consider that they might be wrong. What we see now was probably inevitable, even if planning had been much better; by focusing on theory, leaders and strategy they overlooked the way that political culture, history and social structures shape possibilities.

And, of course, Iraqi civilians, American and coalition soldiers, and many others suffer the consequences. Our nation suffers the consequences.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I haven’t read the book-only your comments and those of Victor Davis Hanson. His view on this style of psuedo-history is less embracing than yours.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Victory Davis Hanson is unpersuasive. Of course sources will be anonymous if a story is told as it is happening — but that doesn’t mean reporters shouldn’t tell the story nor does it mean that reporters should be distrusted. The books he mentions, as well as Ron Suskind’s book "The One Percent Doctrine," and others tell similar stories and paint similar pictures of how the Administration operates. Woodward’s trilogy about the Bush administration shows good sides and bad sides. I think what we’re seeing is a process where a lot of people are being forced by reality to confront the fact that their beliefs and expectations about this war were wrong. Either they can: 1) (as many Republicans, Democrats and conservatives have) admit they operated under false assumptions or analysis, and re-assess; 2) seek out whatever information is not contrary to their ideas, and then try to discredit or attack information and evidence that suggests they were wrong (i.e., do whatever possible to avoid cognitive dissonance); or 3) accept that things didn’t turn out well, but rationalize the reason without confronting errors made.

Unfortunately the shrill nature of the debate has added emotionalism to this; if someone admits error, it’s like they are giving in to hated opponents. That makes it hard politically (opponents will jump all over someone who is honest and admits error) and personally. The problems we face are too important to let that prevent a true discussion of the consequences of various forms of action, and to learn from this all.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The main articles on QandO are thoughtful and well done. I often experience an amount disagreement, sometimes a lot, which I expect.

The comments typically fall well below the articles, to the point I don’t often click to see the responses. The lack of solutions attributed to this adminstration is dwarfed by the lack of solutions given in the comments. I am left with the impression that very few here could manage a hotdog stand, much less deal with the ebbs and flows of the world.
 
Written By: Ed on West Slope
URL: http://
Dale, good post. Very honest and reflective. I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s clear you’re trying to approach the situation honestly. If more people did that, the quality of our political discourse would improve dramatically.
 
Written By: Anonymous Liberal
URL: http://www.anonymousliberal.com
You know, there used to be the idea that, no matter how incompetent the government was at re-distributing income, or other domestic policy activities, we could at least trust the government to figure out when and how to kill foreigners correctly.

Really?

What made you think that we could do that so well? I don’t see any reason to think that the US government can do military things any more competently than it does non-military things - is there an a priori reason to think that?

I mean, where do you think the term "SNAFU" got started?

The government is composed of people. And people screw things up. Even important things. That doesn’t mean, though, that we shouldn’t do military things. There’s no reason to think that NOT doing something will turn out any better than doing something. We just ought to dial down the expectations a few dozen notches.
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
I’d like to see somebody propose a definition of "incompetent" that encompasses the pieces United States Government that planned and executed the war, but does not encompass every government, every major corporation, and pretty much any grouping of people above about 100 or so.

Our government is incompetent. Our military is incompetent. All of the private contracters involved come from incompetent corporations. All of our allies governments are incompetent. All of our allies militaries are incompetent. The Iraqi goverment that is going to form will be incompetent.

Moreover, none of these people have any sort of valuable plan going forward, because A: They’re incompetent and B: Any plan they may make will be invalidated before it can be put into effect by changing or unpredictable conditions.

Fortunately, the goverment of Iran is incompetent, North Korea is incompetent, and Al Qaeda is incompetent, and what plans they have are unrealistic and irrelevant as well.

I’m coming to see "incompetent" as a null criticism, not because it’s false, but because of course it’s true. Incompetence in the face of a complicated universe is the normal state of affairs. The question is, what could realistically have been done better, and what realistically might have been the better outcome?

Most people answer this question by invoking either psychic powers of prediction, or the psychic power of 20/20 hindsight. Clearly, the standard being applied is that of course everybody should have been competent, and they should have made one and only one plan which accurately forecast the conditions on the ground, responded to them, and obtained the optimal results, but that’s not realistic in the slightest.

Note that this is not a defense of anybody’s actions; it’s a call for more realistic standards. There’s no way out of this (and there never was) where suddenly there’s no more killing and everybody lives happily ever after in perfect peace and harmony. Leaving now doesn’t lead to that result. Neither does never having invaded. Neither does "staying the course". The question isn’t how we get to that point, it’s what the best way forward is.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
I wonder how much ideological anger boils down to the firm and incorrect belief that "I had a path to ’no more killing and perfect peace and harmony on Earth’, but those bastards disagreed with me and prevented it from happening."
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
Professor Erb, (I’m guessing) as I said I haven’t read the books but from VDH’s article I think he’s saying that it’s too anonymous and therefore cannot be verified. That puts it in the class of hearsay. Historically the books don’t matter because of that. People will be drawn to the arguements because they’re predisposed to accept it. When I read a newpaper that contains the "according to an unnamed State Department source" I generally quit reading.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Dale, you’ve now come around to the idea that the execution of the whole affair has been a mess, soon you’ll realize that yelling "victory!" is no path to victory, and that the only way to salvage this is to get out of Iraq.

DALE RESPONDS: You don’t actually read my stuff much, do you, Oliver?

I "came around" to that idea a couple of years ago. Try to keep up with current events for cripes sake.

As for the remainder of your comment, it simply proves my point. And you wander why I consider your party to be the party of "retreat, withdraw, surrender", and why my contempt for it knows no bounds.
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
A. Most of Long Beach is totally safe. It’s being rapidly gentrified.

B. Thru history at some point every invading army has had to look around and say that it’s time to go home. Since this country clearly does not have the will or ability to do in Iraq what we did after WWII, now is as good as later.

C. There are a number of middle grounds between doing nothing new and retreating to the US. We can, for example, station substantial forces in Kurdish Iraq and/or Kuwait.

D. The idea that the next administration would tolerate any country becoming a safe haven for AQ seems pretty silly to me for now. And to the extent that AQ forces come out of hiding, they are that much more vulnerable to attack.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Dale, you’ve now come around to the idea that the execution of the whole affair has been a mess, soon you’ll realize that yelling "victory!" is no path to victory, and that the only way to salvage this is to get out of Iraq.
What is that supposed to salvage, Oliver? Your self esteem?
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
A.S. is absolutely correct. For some unfathomable reason, Conservatives assume that the military and police departments are models of efficiency compared to other branches of government.

Second, maybe those of us who have always been against the war should impugn your patriotism, Dale, in the same way that ours has been assaulted by the GOP. I won’t, but I’d like to. Careless-thinking people got us into this mess and now their reaction is "Oh sorry, we screwed up, but we are stuck there now." The pro-war people have gravely hurt the United States, far more than any antiwar protesters, by getting us mired down in this quagmire and lessening the fear of our power to commit resources in the future.
 
Written By: william
URL: http://
Dale, you’ve now come around to the idea that the execution of the whole affair has been a mess, soon you’ll realize that yelling "victory!" is no path to victory, and that the only way to salvage this is to get out of Iraq.
What is that supposed to salvage, Oliver? Your self esteem?
At best he imagines it will salvage the lives of a few hundred soldiers and the money that would have been spent on keeping them and their cohorts in Iraq.

In fact, they and that material would then have to be spent in Somalia, or Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, or North Korea, if having them in uniform is to have any good effect at all.

Of course maybe he thinks there is no good reason for having them in uniform at all, and he proposes to disband all or several of those brigades.

I could never accuse Oliver and the like of clear thinking.

Jeremy Bowers has the more realistic view of it:
"The question is, what could realistically have been done better, and what realistically might have been the better outcome?"
And I think the best answer to be had is still for Iraq to be the focus of any attempt at preventing the Ummah from becoming a sheet of glass in the course of the next few decades. The best approach to take in making that attempt is to use force and the threat of force to prop up the concepts of the rule of law and of the disutility in the abstract and the unhealthyness in the specific of the use of extralegal political violence.

The only way we can lose is to go home too soon.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
The pro-war people have gravely hurt the United States, far more than any antiwar protesters, by getting us mired down in this quagmire and lessening the fear of our power to commit resources in the future.
Wait a minute! I thought we destroyed the place? People should run like hell when they see us even thinking about coming their way, shouldn’t they? Nobody wants to live in a quagmire!
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
A.S. is absolutely correct. For some unfathomable reason, Conservatives assume that the military and police departments are models of efficiency compared to other branches of government.
Not even slightly so. Conservatives do take note of the fact that the military and police departments are in fact authorized to exist in the relevant documents of organic law (US and State constitutions, county and city charters, et al), and therefore the are supposed to do these things whether or not they are models of efficiency.

Unlike the majority of the (at the national level) programs enacted by FDR, Johnson, or Part D by Bush II (who at least had in mind trading that for real SS reform, too bad the Congress was too gutless to go for it); these programs have no excuse for existing.
"Second, maybe those of us who have always been against the war should impugn your patriotism, Dale, in the same way that ours has been assaulted by the GOP."
If in fact you are patriotic in any sense, which I really do doubt sometimes, you have patriotic feelings for a mythical nation which does not, will not, and can not exist.

Modern Liberal America is not possible, because the modern liberal view of the proper relationship of the governed, the governors, and the governemnt is too deranged from what human nature can in fact support.

You have patriotism, if at all, to a dream which can only be a nightmare to the extent you can attempt to make it a reality.
"The pro-war people have gravely hurt the United States, far more than any antiwar protesters, by getting us mired down in this quagmire and lessening the fear of our power to commit resources in the future."
Make a case for there being some place other than Iraq which is in fact the main chance.

Oh wait, you represent the party with no new idea since the 1930’s, and no good ideas since the 1830’s. Maybe not then either. Enforced agrarianism = poverty.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Increasingly, though, I don’t know which side is right, and which is wrong.

And I don’t know what to do about that, either.

First of all - I second A.L. Bravo to you, Dale. It not only takes guts, but requires a certain level of virtue to strive for objectivity - to assess the results of events from a consistent frame of reference, and to acknolwedge when reality doesn’t track the real picture. By starting with acknowledging your personal confusion, you build a path to greater clarity.


The larger answer to the question is to look away from Democrats and Republicans, and say to yourself again, "What should a smart US foreign policy look like? What should a smart GWOT strategy look like?" - and then reassess the political choices again as of how they relate to that.


Secondly, for Pete’s sake, don’t rely on the comment boards to answer. For that matter, don’t rely on either the Democratic or Republican parties. Politicians and politically parties sound wrong and stupid in their arguments even when they are basically correct about what to do. Politics is a sausage maker and turns coherency into political hash. Only two things survive - demagogic, simplistic, over-aggressive bull, and vague, wishy-washy, overpassive bull.

Look at the intellectuals on each side, because the intellectuals shape the environment that the politicians take options from. No democratic intellectual is proposing a renouncing of the use of force in international affairs. It’s more like a general liberty-friendly argument that using too many hammers and not enough scalpels is counterproductive to a global nascent Islamic terrorism insurgency. The current obvious example of this is the genuinely pointless hot war on Anbar province we’re still conducting, on inertia and stubbornness alone.


As an aside, it’s true that the WMD was overhyped and that the Department of Lace was right. But, you still have another box to think your way out of - WMD itself is just a convenient deus ex machina to introduce when we’re feeling like we want to kick some a**. Chemical weapons aren’t any more lethal than conventional ones. They’re illegal because they were considered a subjectively nastier way of dying by Europeans in 1920 during a strong pro-international-law era. And the case for that is mediocre as well.

Biological weapons could theoretically be more lethal than conventional ones and cause massive second-order casualties, but most of the conventional BW programs actually in existence, same deal. Local weapon. Not worth invading people.

Nuclear weapons are the only bite in WMD - and even then, it’s clear that we can’t, won’t, or aren’t going to invade every state that wants nuclear weapons to stop them.

A lot of people wanted to get Saddamn for the same reasons as you - we already went to war with him, and he was an a**hole. Fine. So be it. We’re all human, and we all want to punch the a**hole threatening to sue us about something on the street, or maybe even, if we’re violent people, put a cap in the teenage vandals down the street.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t pay for it. Well, we’re paying for it. Unfortunately, nations learn even less well than individuals.




 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
The problem apparently isn’t that the Bushies manipulated the intel. The problem was that, despite what the analysts were saying, the intel that was reaching the DCI level was wildly incorrect,

So how do you fit the Dick Cheney’s Office of Special Plans into this picture, Dale? You know it existed, right?


There’s a reason why the DCI level intel was wildly incorrect. The political/ideological axis centered around Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld - with Bush’s passive support - demanded it. There have been plenty of first hand stories. Ron Suskind and, for all his fallibility, Dick Clarke.

I understand it takes a long way to work up to that conclusion from where you started, but people wanted Saddamn as a megathreat. This level of disconnect doesn’t happen by accident. It wasn’t a genuinely accidental process. Why they wanted it is a genuinely murky question and always will be. My answer is politics and expediency, but we’ll never know.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I have been reading this site for a long time, just a month or so ago you were arguing in favor of increased viciousness on our side in Iraq. Is this whole thing with you guys about pride? Oh no, we can’t retreat because we might look bad. That’s the kind of stubbornness exhibited by someone driving over a cliff and the other people in the car not yelling "stop" because it might be impolite.

The Republicans are the party of screwing up in Iraq. The Democrats are the party of unscrewing us.

The salvaging I’m talking about is American lives. The only blow to my self-esteem is that our leaders are too filled with pride to do what’s right.
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
That’s the kind of stubbornness exhibited by someone driving over a cliff and the other people in the car not yelling "stop" because it might be impolite.
Versus the stubbornness of someone who is trying to do the right thing despite the mewling and farting of the naysayers.

Some of us have memories of the ’70s.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Oh right, the "we just need to lose another 100,000 lives in Vietnam" strategy for "Victory!"
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
Actually, I think he was referring to the millions of people who were murdered in Southeast Asia as a proximate result of our withdrawal.
...just a month or so ago you were arguing in favor of increased viciousness on our side in Iraq.
No, I wasn’t. The fact that you think I was indicates your utter unfamiliarity with either my position, military affairs in general, or both.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Let’s just get Oliver on record saying that he’d like to vindicate the Al Qaeda leadership that has all along motivated its fighters by insisting that America is a paper tiger, that we’ll pull out if we get a bloody nose, and has used (among other conflicts) Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia as evidence of such. Let’s get Oliver to say, "I’m fine with them adding Iraq to that list."

Not that I care particularly one way or another whether he does or not. Heck, he’s probably made his peace with the idea, if not explicitly. Just want to be clear here.
-=-=-=-=-=-
glasnost:
This level of disconnect doesn’t happen by accident.
This is commonly known as the animistic fallacy. "These things don’t just happen! There’s always somebody behind the curtain, pulling the strings!" Correlates rather well with tinfoil-hattery.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
The Democrats are the party of unscrewing us.
How do you figure? Have you seen a plan that I haven’t seen?
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Dale: Those people were going to die one way or another, and while its sad for them I’m glad we didn’t add any more American dead on to the pile in order to prolong a futile action. (and this is the entry where you advocated for us to be more vicious in Iraq)

Others: Yes, because in order to prove to some mythical public opinion held by terrorists, we should stay in Iraq and get killed. The minute we went into Iraq we proved the terrorists rhetoric correct, as the Bush administration continued to apply the screw job, the rhetoric of those who hate us continued to be validated. The idea that we should keep doing something stupid because idiots will say bad things about us is one of the more retarded justifications for our current policy I’ve seen.

"How do you figure? Have you seen a plan that I haven’t seen?"
Yes, it’s called strategic redployment. Say you don’t agree with it, but don’t deny it’s existence.
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
(and this is the entry where you advocated for us to be more vicious in Iraq)
Like I said, you misunderstood it. What I called for in that post was sending in more troops to demilitarize the area around Baghdad, and provide additional security. What I said was:
Now, the nexus of the problem is Baghdad. It’d be nice if the Iraqis could take care of the problem, but they can’t. The police are useless. Yes, there’s a problem with police corruption, and tribal loyalty, but the basic problem is really much deeper: Police officers have to live and work in the community. Any police officer, Sunni or Shiite, who arrests an insurgent, does so at the risk of his—and his family’s—life. To survive, you have to go along to get along.

The Army, on the other hand, is still small, and stretched thinly. And the central government is, for a number of political and military reasons, too fearful to commit the forces necessary to demilitarize the city’s various militias. That means the task must necessarily fall to us.

But little has changed in the past two years, apparently, because the Bush Administration seems unwilling to do this. As I mentioned last week, the number of military options is limited. As Lt. Gen. Sanchez remarked in 2004, we need two divisions to secure Baghdad. That implies an additional commitment—as much as 35,000 soldiers—of troops to Iraq. Alternatively, we could shift to a conditions-based commitment strategy, as some Brookings scholars have suggested, forcing the Iraqis to do it.
That is a call for clearing and holding the city, not engaging in direct combat, although one assumes that some combat would inevitably result at some point. But the combat, if it occured, would be incidental to the incremental demilitarization and securitization.

I then went on an extended riff about how people like you would call that a Kill More Iraqis, George strategy. Which, of course, you promptly did. I then further explained that a Kill People strategy is not illegitimate.

But the nexus of my my post was that at every stage, the Bush Administration has waged war—and peace—halfheartedly in Iraq. What is required now is securitization, not a bunch of combat, and still, the Bush Administration refuses to commit the forces required even to do that.

I assume that your lack of military experience is what led you to misunderstand my point.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
You just repeated the point ("I then further explained that a Kill People strategy is not illegitimate.") - I shouldn’t have to explain your own writing to you. It doesn’t take a second of military experience to recognize that something is FUBAR.

Of course they’re not going to put any more troops into Iraq. They thought they could do the whole operation on the cheap like Afghanistan, but didn’t think that unlike Afghanistan we would have to occupy an entire nation. Again, no military experience required to see that. There’s no political capital left to increase troops in Iraq, certainly not from the Democrats and not with the majority of Republicans. Our nation is tired of this war and the betrayal to our history in the way it’s been executed.

You seem to at least agree with some of that, yet you want to shoot down folks who say so and have been saying so (It’s not a coincidence that I happen to have supported every major military engagement from the Gulf War to Afghanistan, but opposed Iraq from before the first shot was fired).

It doesn’t take any military experience to understand these things and see something for what it is. I’m glad you served, and respect that, but it doesn’t give someone a free pass from being wrong.
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
This is commonly known as the animistic fallacy. "These things don’t just happen! There’s always somebody behind the curtain, pulling the strings!" Correlates rather well with tinfoil-hattery.

Ornery, I understand the animistic fallacy just da*n fine, thank you. Its existence does not dictate that no series of events is ever purposefully caused by anyone, thank you.

The U.S. government is often errant about all kinds of things, intelligence predictions included, and gathering info from totalitarian societies is hard, yadda yadda yadda, but the U.S. intel agencies are rarely as completely wrong as the incredible disconnect between what the public figures were telling us in 2002 and what the story was. Dale’s story is another demo of that - the low-level analysts were not actually hysterically misinterpreting a couple of aluminum tubes as a fully-functional nulcear-weapons program. That was the boys at the top who already knew what they wanted - they wanted a dangerous Iraq - and simply ignored the meaning of the contrary evidence.

The dot that Dale has yet to connect is his seeming placement of a (Chinese) firewall between the "DCI level" and the leading appointed ministers of the Bush Administration. That firewall doesn’t exist. George Tenet didn’t make this up due to his own personal slavering hankering for Saddamn’s head. He made it up to please his boss and keep his two-fingers-thick hold on his job. Read Suskind. Dick Cheney’s OSP was breathing down his neck.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Yes, it’s called strategic redployment. Say you don’t agree with it, but don’t deny it’s existence.
Okinawa is not a plan. Abandonment is not a plan. Surrender is a strategy...for losing. THAT would validate the terrorist rhetoric.

Much of the non-jihadi mistrust of America and it’s policies stems from our previous abandonment of numerous contingents of Iraqis which was also an Afghani complaint. We left them and Saddam slaughtered them.

Under the "strategic cut and run" plan, what happens when we leave? Got any ideas?

Does Cambodia ring a bell?
They thought they could do the whole operation on the cheap like Afghanistan, but didn’t think that unlike Afghanistan we would have to occupy an entire nation.
Is the Kurdish north part of your strategic redployment plan? Is that still in Iraq?
The minute we went into Iraq we proved the terrorists rhetoric correct, as the Bush administration continued to apply the screw job, the rhetoric of those who hate us continued to be validated.
Which rhetoric is that? You seem to want to prove this rhetoric correct.
We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier. He is ready to wage cold wars but unprepared to fight hot wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions, showing they can run in less than twenty-four hours. This was then repeated in Somalia. We are ready for all occasions, we rely on God.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
What happens when we leave? American soldiers stop dying for no good reason.
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
What happens when we leave?
If we leave before the job is done, then what chaos happens that we might have forfended is our responsibility, also, it will never be an area we can trust, will not be a fertillized seed bed of problems until the rule of limited, popular law is established—if we leave before we’re done, then we’re not done there.
American soldiers stop dying for no good reason.
That’s just it. They are dying for a very good reason, and one that’s good enough for them at that.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"The Democrats are the party of unscrewing us."

BS Willis. The Democrats are the party of opposing Republicans for the sake of gaining power. And then they’ll screw us in their own ways.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://

 
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