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What Problem?
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bruce linked to Washington Post story earlier today, but didn't comment on it in any detail. I'd like to take a second look at it.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq by Army Gen. David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war.

Clyburn, in an interview with the washingtonpost.com video program PostTalk, said Democrats might be wise to wait for the Petraeus report, scheduled to be delivered in September, before charting next steps in their year-long struggle with President Bush over the direction of U.S. strategy.

Clyburn noted that Petraeus carries significant weight among the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. Without their support, he said, Democratic leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting a timetable for withdrawal.

"I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us," Clyburn said. "We, by and large, would be wise to wait on the report."
"It would be a problem for us." meaning, of course, Congressional Democrats who have been pushing for a withdrawal timetable for Iraq.

Let us assume that Gen. Petraeus returns from Iraq with a positive report that indicates we are defeating the insurgency there, and that we can, if we continue to pursue the current strategy, leave behind a stable, relatively liberal, democratic, peaceful Iraq, i.e., accomplish all of our stated goals.

Obviously, no matter how good Iraq might be when we leave it, there's no guarantee that Iraq will remain that way. At the end of the day, as we've repeated for years, whether Iraq will remain a successful state is up to the Iraqis. The best we can do is leave them with the elements necessary to create a functioning, stable country. They may just piss it all away after we leave, and there's not much we can—or should—do about it.

But if we can deliver on our stated goals, and leave behind a functioning country when we depart, this raises a number of interesting questions.

First, why is it a problem if Gen. Petraeus delivers an honestly positive report on the surge's success? I mean, if your argument is that the US effort in Iraq is doomed to failure, and Gen. Petraeus delivers solid evidence that you're wrong, I can see why it might be embarrassing to you to be presented with evidence that you are mistaken. But why is that "a problem"?

After all, doesn't it mean that the US may achieve a far-reaching success in installing a relatively liberal—in mideastern terms, anyway—stable Iraq, and in defeating both the Ba'athist and al-Qaida efforts there? Isn't that a good thing?

I suppose, if you want to argue it, that it is a bad thing if you believe, as a matter of principle, that our entire effort there was illegitimate, and you fear that success there will be used as an excuse for further imperial military adventures elsewhere. But on balance, isn't that a rather theoretical fear, opposed to the objective results, if we are successful:
  • The elimination of the Hussein regime, which was, no matter how you cut it, one of the nastiest on the planet.
  • The elimination of any possibility of Iraqi state-sponsored involvement in terrorism or WMD proliferation.
  • The creation of a stable, liberal Iraq, instead of the usual run of kleptocracies and autocracies that run the rest of the mideastern Arab states.
If Gen. Petraeus delivers a positive report, then the Democratic caucus in the house may face 47 defections from the "withdraw now" policy. Again, how is this a bad thing? if our current strategy is successful, why on earth would we want to withdraw with the job half done? Wouldn't that be somewhat similar to ordering Gen. Eisenhower to withdraw all our troops from Normandy because the 10,000 men lost in the Normandy invasion was too high a price, just as we were blasting the Germans out of the Falaise Pocket?

I can understand if the withdrawal policy was predicated on a belief that the Bush Administration had proven itself so incompetent, that it could never deliver success in Iraq. But if that proves to be—finally—not the case, isn't the appropriate response not to worry over losing the ability to withdraw from Iraq, but rather to change your estimation of the probability of success there, and pursue what seems to be a successful strategy, rather than abandoning it?

How much of the "problem" stems from political calculations, I wonder? Is it simply that any acknowledgement that the Bush administration may be right in the end, and the Democratic caucus' wrong is distasteful? Is it a fear that the electorate—changeable and unpredictable as they are—may see it as evidence that the Democrats are not willing to do the hard work necessary to pursue victories in America's interest, and may further damage the party's standing as it pertains to their seriousness about national security?

But even if all those political calculations are true, isn't an American victory good for the country? And if so, isn't that more important than the temporary electoral success of any party?

War, as Clemenceau once said, is a succession of disasters culminating in victory. The Bush Administration has had more than it's share of disasters. Both Bruce and I have been proposing a strategy like the current one since 2004. The last three years have been a disaster of George W. Bush's making. But if, at long last, we've finally landed upon a strategy that is working, why would anyone, of any party, decline to pursue it, and choose defeat?

That simply doesn't make sense to me.
 
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a) The war in Iraq "is lost", bring home the troops

b) The war has achieved our goals, bring home the troops
These are ultimately the two options.

If the goal is to bring home the troops, isn’t "option b" better for everyone ?
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
But if, at long last, we’ve finally landed upon a strategy that is working, why would anyone, of any party, decline to pursue it, and choose defeat?
Because they have spent so much time spinning Iraq into a loss their base believes it with their heart and soul. Members of congress probably don’t. They have merely been pandering (Terms form prostetution and pimping seem appropriate when speaking of politicians) to their base.

They made the "We’ll never win" crowd, and it now has a life of it’s own.

For it to be honestly, frankly, completely told that it is 100% wrong would do one of three things:
A) cause heads of nutroots everywhere to explode
B) the absolute abandonment by their base.
C) the abandonment of those who bought the "Iraq is lost" line just enough to vote democrat in the last election.

They would all lose their elections. They would be out of power.

THAT is the trouble. Loss of power.

To a Democrat, that’s worse than death.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
b) The war has achieved our goals, bring home the troops
If the goal is to bring home the troops, isn’t "option b" better for everyone ?
Agreed! Lets see plans for removing our troops... from Germany.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
That simply doesn’t make sense to me.
I think you’ve got the wrong goal. Your view of the possible goals no longer includes what I believe is the true goal of the D party. I’ve reached the point where the goal no longer appears to me to be anything but to acquire power.

I’ve said a few times lately that I no longer trust either party, but if the R’s are out to get money for their benefactors that will likely effect my freedom less than those who are out to garner control of the decisions I’m allowed to make any my choices for their benefactors.

Perhaps I’m having a bitter night because I’m getting sick just before a vacation.
 
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://
Clemenceau also said "war is too serious a matter to entrust to military men."
 
Written By: J
URL: http://
Its akin to if some of the comprehensive health care reforms happened and actually were workable, how would people at QandO respond?

Some of the people who keep saying its impossible to win really don’t know much about history...they just picked up the meme that the guerillas from the national liberation front always win. It’s also convenient that if the USA loses, we can go back to domestic navel gazing for 20 years again - most Democrats don’t actually like foreign policy or military stuff. Plus its natural for them to seek some sort of psychic punishment for those who voted for Bush. See, if you don’t elect Democrats we end up with horrible horrible lost wars. (See also Kerry calling Vietnam "Nixon’s War.")

I will admit that if, say fully nationalized health care failed miserably, I would get a little satisfaction / schadenfreude.




 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Petraeus cannot win by defeating al qaeda. Unless there is Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation, a stable democracy in Iraq is all but impossible. Unless corruption is countered, a stable democracy is all but impossible. Those are real facts that can’t be hidden by the tactical success against al qaeda.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
That simply doesn’t make sense to me.
That’s because you’re not doing this situation through the lens that they are. They’re looking down the road, and see that they’re going to have to come up with some kind of an explanation for why they were calling for a defeat, and working toward it. As we have discussed in other threads, the American people are beginning to see that those calls were premature, and politically motivated. The questions aimed at the democrats, and frankly, yes, their patriotism, have already begun. They know that a victory in Iraq is going to turn into a full fledged anti Democratic party rebellion here at home. McGovern’s defeat in 72 will look like a cake walk, by comparison.

Everything, and I mean everything to these people, comes down to rectally to whether or not they will be elected. Nothing else, and I mean nothing else matters to them. This is about power. Their power. To make the current administration look bad, they are willing to sacrifice our victory. Indeed they are very desirable some of our defeat. That is why our victory is such a problem... A victory in Iraq now would make the democrats totally powerless for decades. You wouldn’t be able to get a democrat elected to the position of dogcatcher. Nobody would trust them with it.

The reasons were expressed rather well by general George Patton; the thought of America losing is hateful to real Americans. And yet, that is precisely what the democrats have been working toward with all their collective effort.
Petraeus cannot win by defeating al qaeda. Unless there is Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation, a stable democracy in Iraq is all but impossible
Speaking of working for our defeat, Erb, you take the cake.

The conflicts of which you speak of been going on for thousands of years, and independent of which borders they were fought between. And yet we have had fairly stable regimes all through those years. Why were you not declaring failure back then?

Even on a more recent scale, we went into Bosnia for pretty much the same set of conditions. Religious conflict. There has been very little in the way of reconciliation between the warring factions there, and yet I’m willing to bet you consider Bosnia a roaring success by comparison. Why? We’re going to be there for generation and longer, and yet I see no effort on your part to demand a pullout. Is your differing reaction because in this case, there was a democrat in the White House at the time it started?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Let us assume that Gen. Petraeus returns from Iraq with a positive report that indicates we are defeating the insurgency there, and that we can, if we continue to pursue the current strategy, leave behind a stable, relatively liberal, democratic, peaceful Iraq, i.e., accomplish all of our stated goals.
Let me parse this.
Let us assume that Gen. Petraeus returns from Iraq with a positive report
Undoubtedly, he will. But a self-inflicted lack of credibility is a large part of the Adminsitration’s problem. And a democracy cannot fight a war without popular support.
we are defeating the insurgency
What is "the insurgency"? Iraq is a non-country in the grip of a factional, religious war. Just who are we defeating? Your Bush-speak incantation of words like "victory" and "defeat" — as if those things are black and white in this context — is just the kind of simplistic thinking that has delivered us into this mess.
we can, if we continue to pursue the current strategy, leave behind a stable, relatively liberal, democratic, peaceful Iraq
How? It’s up to the Iraqis, not us, whether they will have one country, or three, or thirty. Our military "success" — however loosely defined — has led to no political success in the Iraqi government. In September, there will be 2 parts to the benchmark report: Petraeus on the military, and Crocker on political reconcilation. Let’s see how much political progress Crocker reports. Remember: the surge was supposed to buy breathing space for the Iraqi government to work-out their political differences. At least, that’s how the surge was "sold." Likely, that will turn out to be similar to using WMDS and mushroom clouds to sell the war in the first place. (See above.)

Your analysis is fundamentally flawed: 1) You fail to explain what "military success" means; 2) You fail to explain how (or when) military success — however defined — will result in Iraqi political reconciliation; and 3) You fail to acknowledge the costs of the effort to the U.S..

The American people think this war was a horrible mistake and that we are digging ourselves into a bigger and bigger hole every day at enormous cost to us. The American people think we should get out. I am one of them.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Shaughnessy writes:
Your analysis is fundamentally flawed:
Actually, his analysis is pretty sound, to the extent that any analysis can arrive at a future determination that will ultimately be shaped by real events.
1) You fail to explain what "military success" means;
Military success is when the military has very little to do in the immediate sense. Their presence in the theatre moves from kinetic force to potential force.
2) You fail to explain how (or when) military success — however defined — will result in Iraqi political reconciliation;
That’s easy enough. The potential violence of civil society, where a government monopoly on force, under law, subsumes factional violence into parliamentary, institutional, and governmental forms. This might require a very authoritarian regime, but it is the means by which all countries reconcile political factions.
and 3) You fail to acknowledge the costs of the effort to the U.S.
This war has been a bargain for the U.S. We’re currently running deficits that as a percentage of GDP are slightly lower than the app. 30-year average. As I noted yesterday, I think, Bush could be criticized for spending too little, for running a bargain basement war instead of one that is simply a bargain.
The American people think this war was a horrible mistake
Well, think of the tremendous effort that has been put into getting them to think that.
and that we are digging ourselves into a bigger and bigger hole every day at enormous cost to us.
Actually, the "hole" is a shallow one that we can leave anytime we stop caring how many people are killed in the aftermath and what the costs to our security and the security of the region are. And, as I pointed out, the costs to us now are not that great. This is a major minor war, not a catastrophe, not a fiasco, not the worst foreign policy mistake in history.
The American people think we should get out. I am one of them.
Well, the American people can change their minds, particularly if they get a clearer conceptual picture of what Iraq really is, instead of the unrelentingly negative one they’ve been getting. And you are entitled to your opinion, of course.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
This war has been a bargain for the U.S.
I’m sorry, but I can’t take this seriously. Next.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
The media is reporting today: a) the Sunni bloc is leaving government, leaving reconciliation efforts in tatters; b) civilian Iraqi deaths have been up a third in July, as insurgent violence moves outward from Baghdad and other areas where the surge is active; and c) there is in general increasedd skepticism that the surge can work, given Iraqi political stagnation. The surge was never meant to achieve victory, after all, only to give the government room to create reconciliation. That seems to be failing.

So I have to ask myself what to make of all this. I want to believe the Q&O bloggers that the surge has a chance to create the ability to extricate ourselves from this with a stable Iraq. But there is a disconnect between what is being generally reported and the almost euphoric atmosphere about the surge being posted here. I myself have become more optimistic, but perhaps I’m letting myself get too much persuaded by the posting here. There is a clear picture though:
1. The surge is directed at al qaeda
2. Sunnis are participating with the US to help defeat al qaeda
3. Iran is arming Shi’ite militias
4. Sunnis are no closer to reconciliation with the Shi’ites than before, and receiving aid and assistance from the Saudis.
5. Iraqi deaths continue, violence seems unabetted in the country.

So my question to those who claim the surge is working: how do you move from a very good development — Sunni cooperation against al qaeda — to reconciliation, dealing with the Shi’ite majority aided by Iran, and the ability of many insurgents to move away from areas where the surge is operating and continue to incite violence? How do you get from this tactical success to strategic victory? The only way I can see is partition, but that brings a host of other problems.

The strategic position of the US is at a low ebb right now. The only possible way to parlay this situation of small but real tactical success into strategic gains is through diplomacy and political developments in Iraq. But a lot of that is out of our hands.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

So my question to those who claim the surge is working: how do you move from a very good development — Sunni cooperation against al qaeda — to reconciliation, dealing with the Shi’ite majority aided by Iran, and the ability of many insurgents to move away from areas where the surge is operating and continue to incite violence? How do you get from this tactical success to strategic victory? The only way I can see is partition, but that brings a host of other problems.
The answer is time.
And, commitment.
Two words the left in this country seems to have a great deal of difficulty with, particularly when they can use the events to attack the party opposite.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
The answer is time.
And, commitment.
Let me break some bad news to you: The United States is not omnipotent. More bad news: Sometimes things get worse — not better — with "time" and "commitment." Just because we want something really really bad doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Particularly when there is the minor issue of Iraq being someone else’s country, not ours.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
As I just pointed out in another thread, David, the source of the unrest is not the Iraqis, themselves. Rather, we’re talking about people from all over the region, who wish to see a change in Iraq. Syria, Pakistan, etc..

When I suggest time, and commitment, I am not suggesting that we are operating within a guarantee. Indeed, the only guarantee, here, is that of failure, if we withdraw. Vietnam, seems the lesson there.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Shaughnessy comments on my comment that the Iraq war "has been a bargain for the U.S.":
I’m sorry, but I can’t take this seriously. Next.
Compare our casualties in Iraq over four years to our casualties in our more serious wars. Take a look at what happened, for instance, on Okinawa in just a couple of months during WWII. Or just the first days of the Normandy invasion.

And, as I pointed out, our budget deficits are currently running slightly below the recent 30-year average.

We have also gained many advantages from this war, not the least of which is sharpening a new officer corps and building a new knowledge base for 21st Century warfare. We are fighting in a war of the kind that will be one of the only kinds of war that can be fought against us.

So, what you can’t take seriously is the importance of this conflict, the relative bargain of its costs, and the benefits derived from it.

Being "antiwar" requires a most considerable conceptual shutdown, one that "antiwar" types can’t by definition get beyond and one that supporters of this war should not submit themselves to. So, Next.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
As I just pointed out in another thread, David, the source of the unrest is not the Iraqis, themselves. Rather, we’re talking about people from all over the region, who wish to see a change in Iraq. Syria, Pakistan, etc..
Ultimately, though, if you don’t get Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation, there won’t be stability. There is real unrest between these groups. Also, it merges with the states you mention. Iran is arming and supporting Shi’ite militias, the Saudis are helping Sunni groups.

When I suggest time, and commitment, I am not suggesting that we are operating within a guarantee. Indeed, the only guarantee, here, is that of failure, if we withdraw. Vietnam, seems the lesson there.
President Nixon left Vietnam because it was in the national interest to extricate ourselves from that debacle. Sometimes accepting failure on one policy is necessary to assure overall foreign policy success. Also, it’s pretty clear that the American public is not committed to this, and not giving the government much time. Blame the left if you wish, but public opinion changes only slowly, and it would take a dramatic turn around — far more than optimism about the surge — to fundamentally alter the public mood on Iraq.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb writes:
The strategic position of the US is at a low ebb right now.
No it’s not. Not even close.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
the source of the unrest is not the Iraqis, themselves. Rather, we’re talking about people from all over the region
To the extent this is relevant, I disagree. Iraq is a non-country because the people living in Iraq have not decided that they want to be Iraqis. We are fighting everybody because there is no country. Largely, though, the point is irrelevant to the question whether the U.S. should stay or get out.
the only guarantee, here, is that of failure, if we withdraw. Vietnam, seems the lesson there.
I absolutely disagree. Ever since the fall of Baghdad we have been in position to declare victory and get out. Sure, that has become more difficult due to the inept political leadership in the U.S., which has incessantly raised the stakes on a losing hand. But it can still be done if handled properly. We can work to find a way out that is best for us, for the people living in Iraq, and for the region. Then we can re-group and find another AQ battle to fight on a more promising front. As for Vietnam, well . . .
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Boris Erb writes:
President Nixon left Vietnam because it was in the national interest to extricate ourselves from that debacle.
Nixon left Vietnam because it was a minor major war that could no longer be justified on the basis of the return that success might bring, even though success was achievable. It was a battle on the periphery of a larger war that we would shortly, in historical terms, win. Unfortunately, Vietnam was left as a fallen brother on the battlefield and suffers from our abandonment to this day.

Iraq is a major minor war that is at the very center of a larger war — against Islamic instability, ideology, and aggression — that is well justified on the basis of the return that success will bring. It is a principal battle in that larger war.

But the greater enemy than Islamic instability, ideology, and agression, and the reason for this Islamic assault on the West, is Western decline, and Western decline is led by the Left, which is determined to undermine the Western identity, and annihilate it from within. (See: Western universities and the fools who teach at them, for a principal aspect of that effort.)
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Then we can re-group and find another AQ battle to fight on a more promising front.
Pakistan/Afghanistan/Detroit?
As for Vietnam, well . . .
Yeah for the Vietnamese it was a DISASTER, but who really cares about a bunch of Yellow People thousands of kilometres away anyway?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
As for Vietnam, well . . .
Yeah for the Vietnamese it was a DISASTER, but who really cares about a bunch of Yellow People thousands of kilometres away anyway?
Ridiculous. Warmongerers going touchy-feely. As if we were there to help the Vietnamese. We do what we do because it is in the best interest of the U.S. Yes, I care about Iraqis (and "Yellow People thousands of kilometers away" too). But I care about America and Americans more. Don’t you?
Then we can re-group and find another AQ battle to fight on a more promising front.
Pakistan/Afghanistan/Detroit?
Probably Afghanistan and Pakistan. Which is where we should have been all along. But if AQ comes to Detriot, we’ll fight them there, too. What’s your point?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Then we can re-group and find another AQ battle to fight on a more promising front.
Pakistan/Afghanistan/Detroit?
Probably Afghanistan and Pakistan. Which is where we should have been all along. But if AQ comes to Detriot, we’ll fight them there, too. What’s your point?
My point being AQ thinks that IRAQ is the central front right now, you know the place you want to leave. So, after we leave Iraq and embolden AQ we’ll have to fight REAL hard in Pakistan and Afghanistan, won’t we, after all we lost in Iraq. AND now there are Democrats calling for a withdrawal from Afghanistan, too. So I figure we’ll just have to fight them in Detroit...though it’s better to fight them not in your own country, you can ask the French, Russians, or israeelis about the wisdom of that.
Ridiculous. Warmongerers going touchy-feely. As if we were there to help the Vietnamese. We do what we do because it is in the best interest of the U.S. Yes, I care about Iraqis (and "Yellow People thousands of kilometers away" too). But I care about America and Americans more. Don’t you?
Oooh "Warmonger" so you’re a Peace-monger, even if you’d fight them in Detroit...Yeah I care about Americans and I figure it’s better to continue a a fight we’re winning IN IRAQ, than to terminate that war and fall back to a new position, weakened and start again, better for ME and the Iraqi’s.

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
AQ thinks that IRAQ is the central front right now
Even if true, who cares what AQ "thinks"? We should pick our battles wisely, not because the enemy desires us to be in a particular venue. Besides, maybe it’s just me, but to the extent AQ "wants" us in Iraq, that suggests that we’re better off elsewhere.
after we leave Iraq and embolden AQ we’ll have to fight REAL hard in Pakistan and Afghanistan
We are supporting AQ with our misadventure in Iraq. Al Qaeda could not have found a better president to further its aims that George W. Bush. He has played right into their hands.
a fight we’re winning IN IRAQ
Sure, we are.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Ever since the fall of Baghdad we have been in position to declare victory and get out.
You are right and ever since the fall of Berlin, we have been in a position to declare victory and pull out. You can add Japan and Korea and a host of others to your list. And your point is very simple - there is nothing in this world that is worth any expenditure or effort to you. The best you can offer anyone is to fall on your knees and expose your neck to your next master. Inshallah!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
there is nothing in this world that is worth any expenditure or effort to you. The best you can offer anyone is to fall on your knees and expose your neck to your next master
Uh-huh. You got me.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Even if true, who cares what AQ "thinks"? We should pick our battles wisely, not because the enemy desires us to be in a particular venue. Besides, maybe it’s just me, but to the extent AQ "wants" us in Iraq, that suggests that we’re better off elsewhere.

So if AQ lists Detroit as a central front we should abandon it, too, using your logic?
We are supporting AQ with our misadventure in Iraq. Al Qaeda could not have found a better president to further its aims that George W. Bush. He has played right into their hands.
How so, until recently it was next to impossible to sustain a large number of troops in Afghanistan, David. The forces in Iraq were NEVER going to be deployed to Afghanistan/Pakistan.
a fight we’re winning IN IRAQ
Sure, we are.

I’m glad you agree. We have had three rounds of voting and the insrgents haven’t stopped any of them. The insurgents have never moved past "armed propaganda" never having established a safe haven or created regular combat forces, all a part of the Maoist guerilla strategy. Even by those standards they have failed. And yet we’ve lost....care to explain why, David? Because you want it to be so?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
So if AQ lists Detroit as a central front we should abandon it, too, using your logic?
Um, no. Detroit is in Michigan, which is part of the United States. A bit different.
The insurgents have never moved past "armed propaganda" never having established a safe haven or created regular combat forces, all a part of the Maoist guerilla strategy. Even by those standards they have failed.
I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Who are "the insurgents"? Who are we fighting for? Who are we fighting against? Everybody? Iraq is a non-nation in the middle of a civil war stoked by centuries of ethnic and religious enmity. What in god’s name are we still doing there?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
The insurgents are AQ in Iraq and the Sunni Ba’athists, none of whom has achieved any degree of sussess as a guerrilla force. we are THERE to attempt to create a multi-ethnic pluralist state, akin tot he one the US has...you know to "transform" the Middle East, rather than leave it the festering boil of anger, autocracy, and kleptocracy that it currently is.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The insurgents are AQ in Iraq and the Sunni Ba’athists
What about the Shi’ite death squads that leave bodies on the streets of Baghdad every morning? Aren’t we against them, too?
we are THERE to . . .to "transform" the Middle East
Hey, let’s invade Iraq! Wait, the Neo-Con Best and Brightest already thought of that.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
we are THERE to . . .to "transform" the Middle East
Hey, let’s invade Iraq! Wait, the Neo-Con Best and Brightest already thought of that.
And I’m in support of it Dave.
What about the Shi’ite death squads that leave bodies on the streets of Baghdad every morning? Aren’t we against them, too?
Yes, but they’re not "insurgents".
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Ultimately, though, if you don’t get Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation, there won’t be stability
Wrong.
I’ve already answered this often used mumbling point, but I suppose I’ll have to do so again. The Sunni-Shi’ite conflict has been going on for hundreds of years, and in places other than Iraq, and yet these others seem in relative stability.

I absolutely disagree... Ever since the fall of Baghdad we have been in position to declare victory and get out.
(Dryly) Gee, you know, I’ve never guessed you would have taken that position. And, of course, when the place descends into chaos, that works out rather well for the democrats, now, doesn’t it? Your "analysis" is rather transparent, David.
I really don’t know what you’re talking about.
We agree. You don’t.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
And, of course, when the place descends into chaos, that works out rather well for the democrats, now, doesn’t it? Your "analysis" is rather transparent, David.
I’m not a Democrat so try another Talking Point
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
The insurgents are AQ in Iraq and the Sunni Ba’athists
What about the Shi’ite death squads that leave bodies on the streets of Baghdad every morning? Aren’t we against them, too?
Yes, but they’re not "insurgents".
So, let’s see, we’re fighting the Sunnis, the Shi’ites, and AQ in Iraq (which didn’t even exist until we got there). That about covers non-Kurdistan Iraq. In other words, we’re fighting everybody. Thank you for making my point.
we are THERE to . . .to "transform" the Middle East
Hey, let’s invade Iraq! Wait, the Neo-Con Best and Brightest already thought of that.
And I’m in support of it Dave.
It was a mistake. See above.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
No it wasn’t Dave, see Einstein’s definition of insanity and then tell me how expecting anything different from an unchanged Middle East was anything short of "insane."

AQ WAS in Iraq, they were there as a planning cell to begin operations against the US, BTW....They transitioned from planning to combat after the invasion.

And no we’re not fighting everyone UNLESS you’re willing to grant that the US needs to redeploy from NYC to Okinawa because the cops are facing, whites, blacks, latinos, asians, and Pacific islanders, in short everyone in NYC, as well...after all there are criminals from all these groups are there not?

Simply saying SOME that Shi’i and Sunni’s and foreigners are shooting at US troops, does not mean ALL are. Nice verbal sleight of hand, but it doesn’t wash, Dave.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
My point being AQ thinks that IRAQ is the central front right now, you know the place you want to leave.
They want to pick the battlefield which takes us away from Pakistan/Afghanistan and gives them opportunity to expand their reach. They want us in Iraq. This military is going to likely cost over a trillion, it has created extreme dangers in the region, has weakened the US dramatically, has strengthened Iran’s strategic position and allowed the Taliban and al qaeda to both regroup in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve fallen into a strategic trap.

That said, how we extricate ourselves from it is important. If the surge succeeds in assuring Sunni opposition to al qaeda (we know the Shi’ites oppose al qaeda) then the ground is set to try to set up a departure that is replaced by a regional agreement to prevent a large scale Iraqi civil war that could lead to regional war. States in the region, including Iran, have reason to want to avoid that. Partition is a possibility.

Bithead: You even disagree with Gen. Petraeus and the Administration if you think that political reconciliation is a necessity. And to see it isn’t because Shi’ites and Sunnis get along elsewhere is silly — that’s like saying there’s no need for reconciliation in Northern Ireleand because protestants and Catholics get along in other places without a problem. Context matters.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Simply saying SOME that Shi’i and Sunni’s and foreigners are shooting at US troops, does not mean ALL are. Nice verbal sleight of hand, but it doesn’t wash, Dave.
Good catch. Bravo. Still, it doesn’t bode well when an occupying force is fighting (at least some of) all the major factions in the country. Sounds like a civil war to me. Sounds like we have no business there.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Uh-huh. You got me.
I figured as much!
I’m not a Democrat so try another Talking Point
No, you are something far lower down the food chain.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Good catch. Bravo. Still, it doesn’t bode well when an occupying force is fighting (at least some of) all the major factions in the country.
Why, not everyone I know is too keen on the US Gov’t; doesn’t mean the US should allow us to secede.....

Sounds like a civil war to me. Sounds like we have no business there.
Or in NYC, then for that matter...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Why, not everyone I know is too keen on the US Gov’t; doesn’t mean the US should allow us to secede.....
Sounds like a civil war to me. Sounds like we have no business there.
Or in NYC, then for that matter...
Are you seriously equating political conditions in the U.S. with those in Iraq? Please. NYC is not comprised of organized ethnic and religious factions engaged in a deadly struggle with one another. Besides, NYC, like Detroit, is the U.S. We have to deal with it; it’s not optional.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Are you seriously equating political conditions in the U.S. with those in Iraq? Please. NYC is not comprised of organized ethnic and religious factions engaged in a deadly struggle with one another. Besides, NYC, like Detroit, is the U.S. We have to deal with it; it’s not optional.

We have to deal with Islamo-Fascism David, it’s not optional...it wants us dead and it is currently homeported in a region with 50% of the world’s oil?

And I think it is as reasonable to think Iraq is populated by groups that are UNIFORMLY opposed to the US as it is to think that NYC or Detroit are either...or have you missed the Sunni tribes turning on AQ?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
We have to deal with Islamo-Fascism
Absolutely, The question is where and how so that we may have optimal effect. Iraq is not the time or place.
the Sunni tribes turning on AQ
Proof that AQ in Iraq would be squashed once we are out of the way. If not, and if AQ in Iraq poses a danger to us, we’ll come back.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Proof that AQ in Iraq would be squashed once we are out of the way. If not, and if AQ in Iraq poses a danger to us, we’ll come back.
Sure just like we returned to Vietnam after the NVA invaded the country...as my foreman once said, "Try to tell lies small enough at least you’ll believe them."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Big difference though: there is real reason to believe al qaeda will be squashed if we leave, since the Sunnis and Shi’ites both hate them. And unlike Vietnam, where the North posed no real threat to us, al qaeda is a threat. I thought you guys didn’t like Vietnam to Iraq analogies?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
just like we returned to Vietnam after the NVA invaded the country
The NVA didn’t kill 3,000 American civilians in an attack on American soil.

Thanks for the discussion, Joe. I have to run.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Wouldn’t that be somewhat similar to ordering Gen. Eisenhower to withdraw all our troops from Normandy because the 10,000 men lost in the Normandy invasion was too high a price, just as we were blasting the Germans out of the Falaise Pocket?
Well that’s the question isn’t it. Is it more similar to order Eisenhower out of Normandy or ordering Paulus out of Stalingrad? A pointless waste of resources desperately needed in the larger war whose greatest value for either side is in propganda?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Boris Erb comments on the quote in italics:
"My point being AQ thinks that IRAQ is the central front right now, you know the place you want to leave."

They want to pick the battlefield which takes us away from Pakistan/Afghanistan and gives them opportunity to expand their reach.
That is the silliest goddamned thing I’ve ever heard from you, Boris, and that is saying something.

Bin Laden has rallied his cause to Iraq. That is al Qaeda’s reach, to achieve a victory over the U.S. and be able to hold that up to the entire Islamic world and say "See, we are mighty and they are weak." Sitting up there in the caves in a remote tribal region of Pakistan isn’t doing him or al Qaeda any good. He’s placed his bet on Iraq, and if we were to leave on that day he would be catapulted to a status in the pan-Islamic world greater than any leader has achieved in centuries.

Your equally silly theory, that if we leave al Qaeda will be routed, has so many things wrong with it, just in the unexamined premises department, that in a just world the next time you went to your office in the political science department you’d find the locks changed and your stuff in a cardboard box with a note that said "Get out, you’re fired."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
I’m not a Democrat so try another Talking Point
Hmmm.
Let me guess.... they’re not far enough to the left for you?
Like I said... transparent.



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
there is real reason to believe al qaeda will be squashed if we leave
Erb, upon what empirical data are you relying on to prove this point. Show me where the Sunnis have stood up top Iraq without the support of the US. Without the US support, Al Anbar would still be AQ! The Sunni’s are dependent upon our presence to assist them in removing AQ. They, the Sunni, fear we will leave. And when that happens AQ will come back in force and those that worked against them are first in line ripe for the slaughter pens.

 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell: Use logic. The Sunnis hate al qaeda, the Shi’ites hate al qaeda, and the Kurds despise al qaeda. They are a tiny minority in Iraq, able to stir things up in large part because of the chaos unleashed by the American invasion and the sectarian violence. But unless you think they have superhuman capacities, it seems unreasonable to believe they’ll survive with the whole country against them.

Going into Iraq was a gift to Bin Laden and al qaeda. The arguments before the war reflected a surreal idealism: we’ll spread democracy, reshape the Mideast, and be the unquestioned superpower expanding American values as democracy and freedom will spread. Illusions. Now al qaeda is actually in a position where it is much stronger than it should be. It is hated in Iraq, every government in the Mideast despises it, and public opinion has turned against it due to its horrific tactics. If the US leaves Iraq al qaeda in Iraq — which is relatively small — can be crushed by the Sunnis and Shi’ites (with help from regional powers who hate al qaeda as well), and attention can turn to its core: Afghanistan and Waziristan. We’ll also not need Pakistan as a nominal ally near as much if we can extricate ourselves from Iraq. This seems to be the direction the Administration is heading too.

One has to wonder, though, what Bush might have done if not for Iraq. Could he have worked towards an "opportunity society," would there have been major changes in American domestic politics, could the budget have been balanced, the dollar stronger, and America still respected and effective abroad? Iraq sucked up his Presidency and dominated it, meaning the GOP missed a chance to try to fundamentally alter American domestic politics.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The American people think this war was a horrible mistake
Well, think of the tremendous effort that has been put into getting them to think that.


Written by: Martin McPhillips
Effort, you say!?
You don’t really believe that the Bush administration actually tried to bungle every step in the Iraqi theatre, do you?
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
PogueMahone writes in response to my comment:
Well, think of the tremendous effort that has been put into getting them to think that. [In re: The American people think this war was a horrible mistake]

You don’t really believe that the Bush administration actually tried to bungle every step in the Iraqi theatre, do you?
I don’t think that the Bush administration "bungled" anything. Wars are about mistakes made by each side in a lethal contest of wills. And hindsight is always perfect, of course. War is always miserable, and so the war planners have always done miserably, by definition.

I do think that the far Left found its opening into the Democratic nutjob base, which inflicted its influence on the Democratic mainstream via Deanification in late ’03 and early ’04, and the war became intensely politicized. A tremendous effort was put into making that happen, to the extent that the political divisions in this country are now virtually irreconcilable. I’ve made a commitment to not talk about what that has a potential for, but I would point out that Iraqi Sunni and Shi’a probably have more in common now than the Left and Right in this country.

When you have a Senate majority leader calling a war "lost" while troops on the field of battle are in the middle of a major military operation to retake the initiative, well, I call that treachery, of the lowest kind.

Iraq is a major minor war meant to remove a rogue regime whose case had been thoroughly adjudicated over a dozen years through the world community’s collective security apparatus. The goal in the aftermath of removing that regime was to establish a reasonably modern civil society, and the Iraqi people and their new leaders laregely cooperated in that. Into that came the car bombers and murderers reflecting medieval sensibilities, ready to kill anyone, anywhere, in order to stop the establishment of a reasonably modern political order.

And so it turned into a tougher war than anyone expected, that has been politicized, by thoroughly rotten idiots.Aand in what is still a minor major war in which it is vitally important for us to attain our still reasonable goals, the "loyal opposition" party is now engaging a "defeat at any cost" political strategy.

This is not Vietnam, pal, and when it is over, it ain’t gonna be over.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Use logic.
I have, Erb. You made a statement that
there is real reason to believe al qaeda will be squashed if we leave
And I ask you once again
Show me where the Sunnis have stood up to Al Qaeda without the support of the US.
I do not doubt that ____ (fill in the blank) hate Al Qaeda. That has not been enough for ____ (fill in the blank) to rise up against AQ where they have taken root without the direct support of the US. So again I ask you
upon what empirical data are you relying on to prove this point.
If this is opinion, then so state - but it is not a given truth just because you believe it! It is just as possible that AQ will run roughshod over the region if we leave. (Note: I did not say they would, I just said it is just as possible.)
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
This is not Vietnam, pal, and when it is over, it ain’t gonna be over.
I agree with you, Martin. The Democrats, in order to regain power, have desperately parlayed the security of this country to attain that goal. Whatever becomes of Iraq does not end the current conflict but is nothing but one step in the greater war against Islamic fanatics.

And that war will continue against us, whether we acknowledge it or not. I have seen a lot of comments lately about why we are reacting to Al Qaeda’s intentions. Because to ignore and enemies intentions is to invite disaster. You counter then, you do not ignore them.

Hitler wanted to take Cairo. You counter that. You prevent that success. And in so doing, you defeat him. Al Qaeda has called Iraq the center of their war against the west. You counter that goal and by doing so - defeat them. You walk away - they win and continue the fight elsewhere, again on their terms. As Martin said, "When it is over, it ain’t gonna be over."
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell, Sunnis were standing up to al qaeda in various parts of Iraq before the surge (and without US support), and when I get time I’ll search for a news report on that. But logically, why wouldn’t they? Al qaeda is also an enemy of the Saudis (whom we are arming — even Israel doesn’t oppose that out of fear of Iran), and the Saudis are helping the Sunnis. Al qaeda has no allies in Iraq, without us there as the outsider infidel, any appeal they have will vanish. Their only hope would then be to inspire a Sunni-Shi’ite civil war. What we have to do when we leave is set up conditions to avoid that.

I think you’re vastly over-estimating al qaeda and Islamic extremists and what they can do. I see no possibility that they can ride roughshod over the whole region, they are not that strong. Even in 2001 with bases in Afghanistan the were very weak overall; that’s why they used terrorism, it’s a rational strategy for the weak to try to overcome their disadvantage and use fear to get others to act in self-destructive ways. They can only really hurt us by getting us to hurt ourselves, and that’s what’s happened in Iraq. Now we have to extricate ourselves from this policy, but do so in a way that prevents regional disintegration. That’ll be a tough process, and actually I get the sense that the Bush Administration finally has a plan to do that and may be approaching the right course. We’ll see.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Martin McPhillips writes in response to my comment:
I don’t think that the Bush administration "bungled" anything.
Have you seen any unicorns lately out there in never never land?
Wars are about mistakes made by each side in a lethal contest of wills. And hindsight is always perfect, of course. War is always miserable, and so the war planners have always done miserably, by definition.
Incorrect.
There have been many operations throughout history that was planned and executed near flawlessly. Must we list the countless battles and wars that fall into that category?
The outcome of any given war is almost always dependant one side making fewer mistakes than the other. However, there are always constant variables that cannot be predicted and is often absent within the initial considerations. The weather, foreign intervention, social climate, just to name a few.
But this…
And so it turned into a tougher war than anyone expected,
Is horribly wrong.
Many, many people have touted the vast complexities within Islamic society that could – nay, would – enter the fray. And these heralds have proven to be prophetic. And to suggest that these warnings were never heard is laughable.
Fact is, the Bush administration and others in the peanut gallery dismissed these forewarnings much to the detriment of our agenda in fighting extremists.

In my book, that is clearly a “bungle”.

The majority of the American people have now come to the realization that the war was a mistake. Even a proprietor of this publication has conceded to this. The debate as to this war being a mistake is largely over.
When you have a Senate majority leader calling a war "lost" while troops on the field of battle are in the middle of a major military operation to retake the initiative, well, I call that treachery, of the lowest kind.
Fair enough. But I would remind you that these comments came after the 2006 elections. Not before. So it is clear to me that the American people have, for some time now, desired a shift in policy. And irresponsible comments made by opportunistic politicians not withstanding, the die is now cast.

The debate to what we do now, however, is still in full swing. And many here have made considerable arguments for their respective camps. I enjoy these honest debates, always have. Which is why I keep coming back to QandO for an in depth analysis of the situation at hand.

But what I cannot abide is the suggestion, as you have made, that the American people are ignorant and gullible to false propaganda made from the same people you describe as “treacherous”. Give them a little more credit, man.

And lay blame where it is most deserving.

The bungling from those in charge of this operation… from the start.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
The Financial Times has an excellent article on the necessity of political reconcilation. As usual, FT avoids political spin and gives a straight forward account.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I think you’re vastly over-estimating al qaeda and Islamic extremists and what they can do
Just as I think you have vastly underestimated their barbarity. Take a look at Al Anbar province, Ramadi, even Fallujah of 18 months ago. How does a civilized man counter the beastiality of AQ. You don’t without resorting to pure brute force.

Remember, these people have been under the lash for generations. They understand the lash, they do not understand defiance. In their lexicon, defiance results in death and destruction not only for you but your entire family and even your tribe. When AQ settles into an area, they do so with brute force. Tribal leaders, who may oppose them, are eliminated early and publicly. They are the initial examples and there are a host of others that soon follow. The people are herded like sheep and slaughtered in the same manner when they do not kneel properly to the sword.

You have examples of
Sunnis were standing up to al qaeda in various parts of Iraq before the surge (and without US support)
You are going to have to show me quite a bit to reinforce your concept of an Iraq that can rid itself of the influences of the extremists on its own.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Some imbecile wrote:
There have been many operations throughout history that was planned and executed near flawlessly. Must we list the countless battles and wars that fall into that category?
Here’s a list: American Revolution, War of 1812, U.S. Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, First Gulf War.

Regale me with the the flawlessly executed plans for these wars.

The American Revolution itself was a hundred times more desperate than the current war. The commander-in-chief did virtually nothing but run from the enemy for the first year. In the War of 1812 the enemy burned Washington D.C.

In fact, much like the First Gulf War, the U.S., using its vastly superior conventional force in Iraq in 2003, handled its conventional chores with great efficiency. Then, as often happens in wars, a different scenario began to unfold, one involving an asymmetrical insurgency.

That development and the various responses to it do not represent "bungling," they represent the need to adapt your force and tactics to the enemy’s. We can win any war we want if we can compress all of the action into a week. The very point of this sort of insurgency is to draw out the trouble until a chorus of blame starts up, on the Left, in the U.S.

"Someone disturbed our need to have our wars packaged and tied up with a ribbon! Bush lied! Bush bungled!"

Should Eisenhower be retroactively accused of "bungling" for the horrible results of things that went wrong on D-Day?

The fact is that this is a low-intensity, stretched=out conflict, in which the enemy counts on the erosion and perversion of the war auditing skills of a democratic nation. Instead of deliberate, stoical resolve to adjust strategy and tactics, you have imbeciles talking like men with paper a**holes about very serious matters and resulting in the complete mischaracterization of a major minor war that we have to win.

AND, you have the spectacle of one of the two major political parties having aligned its political interests with losing that war.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/

 
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