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Resurecting the "paper tiger"?
Posted by: mcq on Friday, November 03, 2006

I've spoken many times here about the potential future results of pulling out of Iraq before the job is done. I've pointed to quotes from Osama bin Laden and others which have characterized the US as a 'paper tiger', and all anyone has to do is commit to a "long war" and we'll eventually quit. I've attempted to argue that is dangerous perception to leave out there because it gives our enemies hope as well as an expectation of victory. And that translates into less hesitancy to take on the US.

To those who found this argument wanting, some special guests to talk about that theory:
Muhammad Saadi, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, said the Democrats' talk of withdrawal from Iraq makes him feel "proud."

"As Arabs and Muslims we feel proud of this talk," he told WND. "Very proud from the great successes of the Iraqi resistance. This success that brought the big superpower of the world to discuss a possible withdrawal."

Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the policy of withdrawal "proves the strategy of the resistance is the right strategy against the occupation."

"We warned the Americans that this will be their end in Iraq," said Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department. "They did not succeed in stealing Iraq's oil, at least not at a level that covers their huge expenses. They did not bring stability. Their agents in the [Iraqi] regime seem to have no chance to survive if the Americans withdraw."

Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam.

"[The mujahedeen fighters] brought the Americans to speak for the first time seriously and sincerely that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam and that they should fix a schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq," boasted Abu Ayman.

[...]

WND read Pelosi's remarks to the terror leaders, who unanimously rejected her contention an American withdrawal would end the insurgency.

Islamic Jihad's Saadi, laughing, stated, "There is no chance that the resistance will stop."

He said an American withdrawal from Iraq would "prove the resistance is the most important tool and that this tool works. The victory of the Iraqi revolution will mark an important step in the history of the region and in the attitude regarding the United States."

Jihad Jaara said an American withdrawal would "mark the beginning of the collapse of this tyrant empire (America)."

"Therefore, a victory in Iraq would be a greater defeat for America than in Vietnam."

Jaara said vacating Iraq would also "reinforce Palestinian resistance organizations, especially from the moral point of view. But we also learn from these (insurgency) movements militarily. We look and learn from them."

Hamas' Abu Abdullah argued a withdrawal from Iraq would "convince those among the Palestinians who still have doubts in the efficiency of the resistance."

"The victory of the resistance in Iraq would prove once more that when the will and the faith are applied victory is not only a slogan. We saw that in Lebanon (during Israel's confrontation against Hezbollah there in July and August); we saw it in Gaza (after Israel withdrew from the territory last summer) and we will see it everywhere there is occupation," Abdullah said.
Now we can argue all day long as to whether or not the invasion was a good idea, how well or badly the post-invasion has gone or the morality of it all. But those have become academic arguments now. What you see above is reality, and it is the price of failure in Iraq. It's not so much what will happen to Iraq or in Iraq as much as what it provides other terror groups outside of Iraq in terms of propaganda. It reinforces the reemerging "paper tiger" meme and emboldens them. And as I point out in another article, Somolia is again looking like a terrorist target.

There are some serious issues here which those who wave-off the "paper tiger" meme will be content to ignore. But to those quoted above, it's not a non-issue or an academic exercise. It's reality as they see it. And it is their reality which will drive their future actions whether we agree or not. Don't believe me? Check out the new location of the goal posts:
Saadi stated, "Unfortunately I think those who are speaking about a withdrawal will not do so when they are in power and these promises will remain electoral slogans. It is not enough to withdraw from Iraq. They must withdraw from Afghanistan and from every Arab and Muslim land they occupy or have bases."
Or they'll simply "resist", commit to the long-war and we'll eventually withdraw. A formula of success from their POV. And any immediate withdrawal from Iraq without some measure of success will simply reinforce their perception.
 
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Comments
Maybe it’s better to fight them here rather than in Iraq. I’m sure that’s what the ACLU wants, right? The Army deployed in every shopping mall across the USA, people living in fear of suicide bombers in the Heartland. But it will show that icky Bush and those eveeel repugs if we retreat from Iraq (and that’s most important!)
 
Written By: Time
URL: http://
"...the potential future results of pulling out of Iraq before the job is done."

The future looks awful no matter what we do.
We are stuck.

The important thing is to decide how exactly ’the job’ can realistically be defined.

It’s no good going back to play the ’if only we had done this’ game. We can’t turn the clock back.

I thought for awhile that partitioning was a good idea, but recent reading made me realize that it would create problems for several neighboring states. That could mean more interference.

Today I’m leaning towards the notion of ’stable’, no matter what it might be necessary to accept to achieve stability.

Tomorrow, who knows?

Then, too, as Maliki flexes his muscles, where does he come into defining ’the job’?
So, now, today, ralistically, what is this job?


 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
The minute we decided to invade Iraq without the right amount of troops or an exit strategy, we handed a rhetorical win to the jihadists right out of the gate.
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
So we have to keep pouring hundreds of billions if dollars and thousands of lives into a failed policy because if we don’t, some jerk in Jennin will feel “proud”?

What a ridiculous standard.
 
Written By: Louis Joliet
URL: http://
It is academic, what is happening today is exactly what one should expect to have happened based on the way we went in.

Why do you think Rumsfeld didn’t want the troop levels needed to deal with post war Iraq? Because the American people were not going to accept the idea of occupation. Sure, you’d have to have been an idiot to think that you can have a war, win it, topple a government, and do anything BUT occupation, but by sweeping it under the rug, the government gained approval from the American people.

Maybe the country would have been widely opposed to this war if it was presented as war, occupation, nation building, and years of large numbers of troops in Iraq. But if the administration had presented it this way, the American people would not have turned away.

Cake walk, 6 days, 6 weeks, not 6 months.

This is what pisses me off more than anything. We made the jihadists right, but not because opposition to the war, but rather because the administration refused to recognize that this opposition would absolutely materlialize if the plan did not go perfectly. (and it could not have gone much farther from perfect).

It was always risk-reward - Best case, a stable pro-America democracy in Iraq. Worst case, a failed state and terrorist haven PLUS the psychological gift to the jihadist that they can beat us by just keeping up the fight.

The failure here was that the likelihood of success was misjudged. The administration acted like we were holding aces in the hole when we really had 7 2 off suit.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Now we can argue all day long as to whether or not the invasion was a good idea, how well or badly the post-invasion has gone or the morality of it all.
Is anyone still arguing about any of this?

But I’ve gotta agree with Louis above. I don’t want or foreign policy directed by the statements of Osama or some guy in Jenin or "the Iraqi people". I’d prefer that Cheney have no say in our foreign policy either but there’s not much that can be done about that at this point.

It’s interesting that pulling out of Iraq allegedly makes us a "Paper Tiger" but staying in Iraq and showing the world we are incapable of dealing with an insurgency somehow makes up appear powerful. That’s some twisted logic.
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
But to those quoted above, it’s not a non-issue or an academic exercise. It’s reality as they see it. And it is their reality which will drive their future actions whether we agree or not
So, therefore, McQ, since you’re quoting a leader of a Palestinian terrorist group, therefore, if we pull out of Iraq, we can expect Palestinian terrorist bombings in the US to begin soon, right? That’s the clear implication. Yes?

If not, then we have nicely provided the immediate counterpoint that makes the paper tiger argument so misleading.

Obviously, regardless of whether it makes Muhammad Sadi feel hot and bubbly that we’re getting our a** handed to us in Iraq - a sentiment probably shared by one billion muslims and a couple ten million europeans - this is in no way a predictor of future behavior.

To make it a little more obvious, Saddamn Hussein, not known for being a paper tiger, nevertheless faced a persistent Kurdish insurgency for decades. The Iranians, similarly unencumbered by wimps and leftists, face their own insurgent problems. This sort of meme demands some sort of impossible bar where the US must crush all opposition everywhere or else.. the emboldening of our enemies! doom!

There was no level of either savagery or victory in prior conflicts that would have prevented Osama Bin Laden. The continuance of troops in Somalia would not have prevented Osama. The marching onto Baghdad in 1991 and removal of Saddamn would not have prevented Osama. Osama is a product of reactionary Islam, oil wealth, and development failure, and his perceptions of American weakness were pre-destined and not particuarly subject to influence by any one set of facts.

I don’t think you could or would really point-blank deny the likelihood of that.


 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Indeed, we didn’t have an exit strategy. It was never on the table for us to WIN. I’m not sure how that is a victory for the anti-war Left, since they have advocated defeat from the get-go. This is Vietnam all over again. A nation thrown to tolitarians because of a fifth-column who had sentiments in favor of our enemies.
 
Written By: Time
URL: http://
Maybe the country would have been widely opposed to this war if it was presented as war, occupation, nation building, and years of large numbers of troops in Iraq. But if the administration had presented it this way, the American people would not have turned away.

Cake walk, 6 days, 6 weeks, not 6 months.
No one ever said the WOT or the Iraq was going to be easy and fast. Lying makes Baby Jesus cry.

 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
Sure, you’d have to have been an idiot to think that you can have a war, win it, topple a government, and do anything BUT occupation,[...]
Never heard of a "punitive expedition", have you? In fact, there are a non-trivial number of people who thought that was exactly what we should have done to Iraq.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Never heard of a "punitive expedition", have you? In fact, there are a non-trivial number of people who thought that was exactly what we should have done to Iraq.
Because....why?
 
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
Mcq yesterday:
This, unfortunately, has become obvious to Iraq supporters such as myself, even without the access Peters had. Maybe it’s my years in operations in the military, but I saw nothing which resembled a comprehensive plan or strategy reflected in our effort. It has been a poorly conceived and poorly executed effort which has mostly been reactive and has only offered piece-meal solutions which many times have been overcome by events when they’re finally implemented.

That, folks, is a leadership failure. And that leadership failure lays in only one place.
Mcq today:
I’ve spoken many times here about the potential future results of pulling out of Iraq before the job is done. I’ve pointed to quotes from Osama bin Laden and others which have characterized the US as a ’paper tiger’, and all anyone has to do is commit to a "long war" and we’ll eventually quit.
So we’ve failed, because of Bush, and our failure makes our enemies bolder. This adds up to only one conclusion: Bush has made the US less safe. Welcome to reality. Thanks Bush voters, thanks a lot.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
No one ever said the WOT or the Iraq was going to be easy and fast.
Since we are not talking about the WOT, I’ll address this...
No one ever said deleted obfuscation Iraq was going to be easy and fast.
Liar!

Here are a few of them and what they said...
Wolfowitz, 3/2003. Iraq: "can really finance its own reconstruction."


Adelman, 2/2002. "Liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk."

Cheney: In weeks rather than months
Mar. 16, 2003Dick Cheney
"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . [in] weeks rather than months." —on NBC’s Meet the Press


Adelman: Liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk
Feb. 13, 2002Ken Adelman
"I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” - Washington Post


Perle: days or weeks — this will be a short war
Mar. 25, 2003Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board
I can’t tell you exactly how many days or how many weeks. But by
historical standards, this will be a short war

Rumsfeld: I Doubt Six Months
Feb. 7, 2003Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
"It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." —to U.S. troops in Aviano, Italy
Lying makes Baby Jesus cry.
You just made baby Jesus cry


Americans were not prepared for a difficult war and occupation in Iraq because the administration didn’t want people to think that would happen. They were afraid, probably correctly so, that if the American knew what this could become, they would not have supported it.

It’s not rocket science, but then again, the administration are obviously not rocket scientists.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
It also isn’t rocket science to figure out that, what we are not currently engaged in, is a war with Saddams regime. Certainly, there were some dead-enders who fought on, and probably continue to fight on, thinking they can revive that regime. But the conflict today, is not the conflict we engaged in when we started engaging Saddams army.

Which was over in WEEKS, not months, or years.

Which was a "cakewalk" as compared to many wars to defeat a regime.

Which was historically a short war.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
Wow!

So their really is someone still using the term "dead enders"!

 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Which was over in WEEKS, not months, or years.

Which was a "cakewalk" as compared to many wars to defeat a regime.
So... which is it, they said it was a cakewalk and it was, or no one ever said it would be easy?

You guys need to get your talking points straight.

So addressing this alternate universe post, thank you for confirming my assertion, that the administration said this would be easy, and they carefully avoided discussions about the part that was not going to be easy, the post war occupation.

That worked for selling the war, but my whole point is that unless the post-war occupation was a cakewalk, the administration was going to see the precise American response we see today, namely opposition to the war and a feeling among the populace that they were mislead.

My larger point is that it is delusional for war advocates to blame war opponents for what was virtually assured of transpiring, the evaporation of political will to complete a mission that the American public did not realize they were embarking on.

And baby Jesus is still crying

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
I have no doubt that what mcq says is correct: precipitously leaving Iraq without "victory" will embolden our enemies and present a propaganda victory to the very people we are fighting against. Yet mcq doesn’t consider the other side: what are the costs of us remaining in Iraq? Is "victory", by any reasonable standard, attainable? Do our struggles to manage Iraq not also constitute defeat and a propaganda victory for our enemies?

In any case, I believe whether we stay or go is out of our hands, anyway. al-Maliki, under pressure from al-Sadr, will eventually ask the US to butt out of Iraqi affairs entirely and that will be all the justification necessary to withdraw.
 
Written By: matt s
URL: http://www.nobordersnolimits.typepad.com
So, therefore, McQ, since you’re quoting a leader of a Palestinian terrorist group, therefore, if we pull out of Iraq, we can expect Palestinian terrorist bombings in the US to begin soon, right?
Glasnost I’ve come to expect much better than this from you.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Yet mcq doesn’t consider the other side: what are the costs of us remaining in Iraq? Is "victory", by any reasonable standard, attainable? Do our struggles to manage Iraq not also constitute defeat and a propaganda victory for our enemies?
Actually I have and I’ve written about it extensively. But you have to look for it. Try the search engine.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Glasnost I’ve come to expect much better than this from you.

You quote the leader of a Palestinian insurgency, and then say that our retreat will impact our enemies’ decisions. Wouldn’t the parallel to the Osama/Somalia causal link be that the people you’re quoting are going to be inspired to attack the US, since we left? Hey, if you’re not saying that, my mistake. Put it on record one way or the other.
If your point is *not* that people are going to be inspired to attack us because we withdrew from Iraq, well, then, why should we care if Islamists gloat?

If you didn’t like that quote, then you had some more text to work with (I’ve even spruced it up a little):
To make it a little more obvious, Saddamn Hussein, not known for being a paper tiger, nevertheless faced a persistent Kurdish insurgency for decades. The Iranians, similarly unencumbered by wimps and leftists, face their own insurgent problems. This sort of meme demands [ ed -if we wish to avoid the attack-inspiring pullouts, that is] some sort of impossible bar where the US must crush all opposition everywhere or else.. the emboldening of our enemies! Leading to more attacks! Of course! The argument is always available that our enemies are being emboldended by some imagined lack of greater policy belligerence.


There was no level of either savagery or victory in prior conflicts that would have prevented Osama Bin Laden. The continuance of troops in Somalia would not have prevented Osama. The marching onto Baghdad in 1991 and removal of Saddamn would not have prevented Osama. Osama is a product of reactionary Islam, oil wealth, and development failure, and his perceptions of American weakness were pre-destined and not particuarly subject to influence by US performance in any one conflict. He has quotes about being inspired by Israel’s indiscriminate, totally uncompromising invasion of Lebanon as well as by Somalia.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Not entirely sure the self-esteem of Arab terrorists needs to be taken into consideration.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
My suspicion is that the end in Iraq is going to put the US firmly on the same path that Britain followed roughly 50-100 years ago. We’ll retain the world’s finest navy, barring some major conflict with a nuclear armed power, but have an army that will almost never be used. The US appears to have reached the point that, barring direct, obvious to a 4 year old, threats to the homeland, usage of ground forces is no longer politically feasible. Oh we may have one or two more last hurrahs, but Iraq seems to be the beginning of the end.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not predicting the breakdown of the entire US military. I’m simply stating that despite our continued military superiority over the rest of the world for at least the next few decades, our actual will to use land-based forces (except perhaps small-scale special forces) has just about disappeared. Americans do not have the stomach for casualties unless there is a demonstrable threat to the continued existence of the nation. In World War 2, for example, we took daily, horrific casualties from terrorists (kamikaze pilots). While certainly not happy about the situation, the American public accepted the casualties because they knew that the war needed to be seen through to its conclusion. Iraq, OTOH, is not, at this point in time, a demonstrable threat to the US. Casualties are seen as unnecessary and have become unpalatable. We cannot any longer define our reasons for being there in two complete sentences that a child would understand. In future, any administration, R, D, or otherwise will not have the political willpower to commit ground forces. That is the lesson of Iraq. The US is now nothing but a sea power. We are impotent on land, because we cannot bear the thought of casualties.

The paper-tiger argument misses the point here. The real issue was never OBL, or Hamas, or Hezbollah, or any other terrorist group. It wasn’t about showing that the US military was still capable. It was about demonstrating the US national willpower to sustain a state of continuous, ground war for a prolonged period of time. Unfortunately, the writing appears to be on the wall. We can no longer support ground warfare for a period beyond, at best, 90 days. A combination of impatience, perfectionism, zero tolerance for casualties, and anti-war sentiment has combined to produce this result. I don’t think that blame can really be placed on either party. Certainly both could have stepped up and done a much better job of leading this nation through the war in Iraq, but given that we elect people that we wouldn’t even associate with publicly, I’m not terribly surprised.

The national conversation on Iraq, like the war itself, is winding down. Further partisan bickering over whether we should have gone or not, why we went, and whose fault the whole situation is serves only those who enjoy name-calling and scoring cheap political points at their opponents’ expenses. The more I continue to read of this garbage, the more I’m convinced that those doing this type of arguing are the sort of people who put real faith in statements like, "Republicans are warmongering, inbred redneck idiots," or, "Democrats are cowardly, emasculated, pinko traitors." It’s time to face the reality that we are in Iraq. We have learned that we cannot remain there and cannot handle another situation requiring the use of US ground troops (unless it’s one that involves clearcut national survival). We now have to face the reality of how and when to leave Iraq. And once that conversation is over, it’s time that we take a very good look at what we, as a nation, have become and what that means for us in the future.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
We can no longer support ground warfare for a period beyond, at best, 90 days. A combination of impatience, perfectionism, zero tolerance for casualties, and anti-war sentiment has combined to produce this result.
While you’ve rolled that ball right up the right alley, I’m not sure the conclusion is what you suggest. But damn, you’ve got the circumstances right.

Personally, what I think needs to happen, and what I hope does happen, is that after the elections Bush starts making speeches directed at the Iraqi people. I’d like to see him telling them that their behavior is pathetic, and that perhaps they need someone like Saddam to beat the crap out of them in order to have anything that resembles an orderly society. And I’d like to see him specifically exempt the Kurds from such remarks, and congratulate them for getting with the program and enjoying peace, stability and profit for it.

It’s about time that the responsibility for the problems in Iraq be placed where it belongs: on the stone age barbarians that insist on blowing up civilians. I understand that this is an honor/shame culture.

Time to bring the shame, Mr. President. And perhaps the suggestion that if they’re going to act like rabid animals, maybe we should treat them like rabid animals.

As for the partisan bickering, that is indeed unwinnable. Nothing that happens, no matter what it is, will ever be construed as a success on the left side of the aisle. Success is not an option for them.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Omar hit the nail on the head.

The whole discussion about "we need more troops" is nonsense argument and compeltely misses the point. The troops we have there now aren’t being used for their designed purpose: to utterly destroy an opposing army, because there isn’t one. The troops we have there now could end the terrorism and sectarian violence "problem" by killing anybody they even suspect has an idea of doing anything wrong, which is what Saddam Hussein did to keep these various groups from revolting and fighting amongst themselves all those years. But we are too worried about world opinion to do that (maybe rightfully so).

I’m not saying that we SHOULD use the troops on the ground for that, just that adding more troops that can’t be used anyway, for fear of negative world opinion, makes it a non-issue.

The ultimate conclusion is that there is no reason to have the biggest, baddest military force in the world if we are un-willing to use it.

The American people are un-willing to be a military power that intervenes and polices the world any longer, and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe we should acknowledge that the American military can’t solve all of the world’s problems. Bring every sodier home, line them up on the borders and crush anybody who tries to invade the United States. Let Germany, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc.,etc.,etc. form their own armies and defend themselves for a change.

America spent almost whole the 19th century without involving itself in the world’s problems and while the world may have been worse off, America was better off for it. When we started getting involved in other people’s wars all we did was make more problems. World War I would have eventually ended in a stalemate if it wasn’t for America, and probably would have spared the world the whole Nazi problem that resulted. In the cold hard light of being 60 years removed, our entry into WWII rid the world of Nazi’s and paved the way for 50 years of communist monsters(who killed way more people than Hitler). My pet theory is that if America had stayed out of WWII Hitler and Stalin would have destroyed each other and the world would have been a better place for it. But we’ll never know.

The point being that American interventionism over the past 100 years has caused as many problems as it has solved and we should treat it as a learning experience.

You can make an argument that during the WWII and Cold War era there was a good reason for America to be the world’s policeman if you want. It’s hard to make that argument any more, and I think we’re all tired of it. Iraq has been a good lesson in the falacies of Wilsonian foreign adventurism, I think its time for some good old-fashioned Jacksonian, isolationist foreign policy for a while.

I think can officially shovel dirt on the idea of using the US military to force other people to be democratic. It just doesn’t work that way.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://

 
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