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Iraq as an election issue in 2008 - thoughts based on Michael Yon’s reporting
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Monday, October 22, 2007

I was reading this Michael Yon post when an idea occurred to me. Yon said:
"No thinking person would look at last year’s weather reports to judge whether it will rain today, yet we do something similar with Iraq news. The situation in Iraq has drastically changed, but the inertia of bad news leaves many convinced that the mission has failed beyond recovery, that all Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, or are waiting for us to leave so they can crush their neighbors. . . .

"Today I am in Iraq, back in a war of such strategic consequence that it will affect generations yet unborn—whether or not they want it to. Hiding under the covers will not work, because whether it is good news or bad, whether it is true or untrue, once information is widely circulated, it has such formidable inertia that public opinion seems impervious to the corrective balm of simple and clear facts."
Yon is concerned here about a serious disconnect between reality on the ground in Iraq and the "Iraq is a total failure" mantra exhibited by those opposed to the war. He wonders, as do I, how something can be such a total failure when the progress in the last six months or so has been so dramatic. And he apparently thinks it’s possible that the "Iraq=failure" narrative is sufficiently established that no amount of evidence will quash it.

He may be right. Certainly there is a segment of the left that will never, ever let go of an idea that fits their ideological predispositions. (Otherwise, there would be no Communists on the left.)

Unfortunately, I consider many journalists to be in the "never let go" camp. Journalists put down their take on a situation in a form that endures forever, which makes it quite hard for them to reverse their opinion without admitting that they were wrong. Many will offer no more than faux apologies over minutia, never being able to confront a significant error in evaluation or judgment.

But that’s not all journalists, even among those on the left. I recall Molly Ivins' apology when she got the numbers way wrong when comparing deaths from our Iraq invasion to deaths under Saddam. {Ed. Your best example is dead? Me: Well, yes, but maybe our commenters can find some more...} Some are quite capable of admitting they were wrong. And that’s what got me thinking.

Right now, the “cone of silence” on Iraq has descended. As Yon says:
America seems to be under a glass dome which allows few hard facts from the field to filter in unless they are attached to a string of false assumptions.
This could last indefinitely. But let’s suppose, just for argument, that it does not. And let’s assume that the dramatic drop in violence continues and, at least at the local level, Iraq’s governing entities continue to make progress. (I don't think any of these are far-fetched assumptions.)

The longer the cone of silence stays in place before the mainstream media confronts such changes, the more the change will be evident. And the closer we will be to an election.

It's possible that Iraq will turn out to be an election issue in a very different way than the Democrats intended. If events unfold with some of the hypotheticals above, then we may see the GOP candidate pounding mercilessly on the Democratic candidate for being short-sighted, using footage that every single one of them has placed on record on their desire to withdraw, and thus lose.

We know how the mainstream media exhibits pack behavior. It's quite possible that they'll all start highlighting just how successful Iraq has become around the same time, and despite what some right-wing conspiracy types believe, the media doesn't always time things to benefit the Democrats.

If a hypothetical flush of victory takes place at the right time, the Democrats could pay some serious consequences for their lack of judgment and their desire to use issues as political weapons regardless of reality or the best interests of the American people.

If so, I will have no sympathy for them whatsoever. Even if you put aside considerations of whether they wanted their country to lose a war just for their own political advantage, they still screwed up tactically. With any brains at all, the Democrats could have turned the entire issue into a "heads we win, tails you lose" situation, and I even told them how to do it.

{As always, in an information war, you can help buy the ammunition.}
 
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Billy Hollis comments:
If a hypothetical flush of victory takes place at the right time, the Democrats could pay some serious consequences for their lack of judgment
I wouldn’t count on that. If you watch Hillary, she’s testing the waters of taking all positions, and seems to be getting over with it. By election day 2008 she might well be running as the equivalent of Dwight Eisenhower, having convinced the voters that she is the reason victory is nigh in Iraq.

"While George Bush dawdled, we did what we had to do and defeated the insurgency in Iraq and we want to continue that victory here at home."

I’m not joking. The Clintons have long veered from rationality. Nothing they have ever said has made any sense, so why would they drop a winning strategy?

Remember, Bill Clinton didn’t have sex with Monica Lewinsky which was why he had to defend the Constitution against the vast right wing conspiracy? Why tamper with a winning formula of irrationality, or the necessary attending lies?

I’ll even wager that Hillary will send a personal representative to the conference that I predict will be held in downtown Baghdad (at which participants will tour the city in convertibles and dine at the fine new restaurants) the subject of which will be "How the United States failed in Iraq."

Hillary will say something like: "We want to find out how the Bush administration failed in Iraq so that our success there can be better understood."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
I’m not joking. The Clintons have long veered from rationality. Nothing they have ever said has made any sense, so why would they drop a winning strategy?
But Bill had charisma and charm. Schrillary has neither. There is no ’likeability’ to her. I do not think she will have as much wiggle room as Bubba.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
3,500 dead servicemembers and no WMD won’t disappear overnight. This "success" in Iraq sounds a lot like the "success" in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and 2005 and 2006.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
. Certainly there is a segment of the left that will never, ever let go of an idea that fits their ideological predispositions
Called.....
3,500 dead servicemembers and no WMD won’t disappear overnight. This "success" in Iraq sounds a lot like the "success" in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and 2005 and 2006.
....and answered!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Some ignorant fool wrote:
3,500 dead servicemembers and no WMD won’t disappear overnight. This "success" in Iraq sounds a lot like the "success" in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and 2005 and 2006.
The disappointment with success is almost as palpable as the absence of any historical perspective on war.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
I wonder if Murtha is thinking along these lines - even he recognized the damage the Ottoman genocide resolution could do to relations with Turkey and the potential for that to affect our situation in Iraq.
I was pleasently surprised he wasn’t willing to go there.


Oliver - 2003 - 2006, difference being even people who have long been hostile to our efforts in Iraq have recognized a difference between those years and 2007.
But you can keep hoping for bad news Ollie. We know American successful failure is important to you, maybe Santa will be deliver. Ask him for more Iraq Schaden to go with your Iraq failure freude.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
meagain writes:
But Bill had charisma and charm. Schrillary has neither. There is no ’likeability’ to her.
Oh, you haven’t seen the personality transplant yet. I caught a glimpse of it on C-SPAN at one of the usual staged rallies, this particular one in New Hampshire. She’s clearly gone under the knife and had a new personality grafted onto her old one.

But, just to reassure you that it’s still the old Hillary, I’m predicting that the specialist they brought in who had to tell her about everything that was wrong with the way she behaved will be found in a ditch somewhere.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Let’s get one thing straight: Iraq is by every definition a policy failure already. What you’re talking about now is whether or not we can manage to find a way to get out that leaves Iraq in an acceptable state. But the predictions before the war, the plans and projections were all way off, and the cost in human life, dollars, and American prestige/national interest has been far higher than almost anyone calculated.

IF the pro-war side could admit that, come clean that the policy was a bad choice (as a few have done), and that we need to learn the lesson that using invasion as a foreign policy tool is very dangerous and yields vast unintended human and political consequences, then it would be easier to find a common point to discuss the war. The slide I oppose is those who think that if we can somehow stabilize Iraq that this will negate the fact that opponents of the war were right in almost every prediction and warning, and in fact often under-estimated the difficulty and negative consequences.

Of course, at this point the idea that Iraq is somehow going to become stable is very speculative, and seems to defy the reality of a lack of political reconciliation, the strong Iranian presence and support for Shi’ite militias, the massive ethnic cleansing which has taken place, and the continued problems which recently caused some military people in Iraq to say things were so bad that we should either leave or have a draft.

But unless the pro-war side admits they were dead wrong in their expectations and policy predictions, and recognizes that this war has already had an immense human cost, weaking the US and risking regional civil war, don’t expect anyone to be overly rosesy if we simply find a way after five years to get out with relative stability. War is a human form of evil which one sometimes must engage in due to human nature and the need for self-defense. When it’s used aggressively as a foreign policy tool, it is evil by choice, and that should never be tolerated, nor should the human cost be swept under the rug.

However, I’m convinced that now, as in the past, you are letting wishful thinking cloud your judgment.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb tries this lie again:
Let’s get one thing straight: Iraq is by every definition a policy failure already.
Only if World War II and the Cold War were "policy failures," Boris.

The problem with your sing-song protestations about the Iraq "fiasco," Boris, is that you have close to zero understanding* of two important matters: history and war.

Add into that mix your silly "policy" prejudices coupled with your misunderstandings of Iraq, the U.S. role in the world, the purpose of the United Nations, and the Middle East, and it’s pretty clear why you sound like a wind chime in front of a fan.

* When I say "close to zero" I’m not necessarily talking about something on the positive side of zero.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"Let’s get one thing straight: Iraq is by every definition a policy failure already." Man I am glad your a theater teacher and not a current events professor. Your insight is so clouded by your narrative you render your comments worthless.
 
Written By: coater
URL: http://
3,500 dead servicemembers and no WMD
June 21, 2006 (CNSNews.com) - Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) announced Wednesday the discovery of more than 500 munitions or weapons of mass destruction, specifically "sarin- and mustard-filled projectiles," in Iraq...

"The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction is in fact false," Santorum said. "We have found over 500 weapons of mass destruction and in fact have found that there are additional chemical weapons still in the country."
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Misconceptions of Iraq? Hmmmm. From the NYT:
Some conservative political groups, seeking to continue the policies of the Bush Administration, are capitalizing on the murky understanding of some voters about who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and why the United States went to war in Iraq.

One such group, Freedom’s Watch, which has ties to the White House, ran television ads in the Philadelphia market and others around the sixth anniversary of the attack — when Gen. David H. Petraeus was also delivering his report to Congress on the progress of the war — suggesting a connection between the war in Iraq and the terrorist attacks. [. . .]

One of the most striking poll findings is the number of people who continue to think Saddam Hussein was behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Depending on how it is asked, more than a third of Americans say Saddam Hussein was personally involved in those attacks. In a New York Times/CBS News Poll in September, 33 percent of the respondents said Saddam Hussein was “personally” involved. In June, when Princeton Survey Research, polling for Newsweek, asked if “Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in planning, financing or carrying out the terrorist attacks,” 41 percent said yes.

There was a time, though, when a majority of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. In a Times/CBS News poll in April 2003, just after the war began, 53 percent of Americans said Saddam Hussein was personally involved. That wide perception didn’t last. By September of that year, 43 percent said Saddam Hussein was involved.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
3,500 dead servicemembers and no WMD won’t disappear overnight.
Correct. But neither will the desire of the average American voter to win instead of lose. And that’s what the left and the major Democratic candidates don’t seem prepared for.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Certainly there is a segment of the left that will never, ever let go of an idea that fits their ideological predispositions
Called.....
Let’s get one thing straight: Iraq is by every definition a policy failure already. What you’re talking about now is whether or not we can manage to find a way to get out that leaves Iraq in an acceptable state. But the predictions before the war, the plans and projections were all way off, and the cost in human life, dollars, and American prestige/national interest has been far higher than almost anyone calculated.
And answered again!

So Erb, you’re hedging your Iraq bet? Before it was all "there’s no way we can win in Iraq blah blah" now it’s just a "policy failure" LMFAO

These people are running scared.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Iraq is by every definition a policy failure already. What you’re talking about now is whether or not we can manage to find a way to get out that leaves Iraq in an acceptable state.
You know, you should just prepackage these, and label them - arguments #’s 1 thru (n), save you time typing it over and over.
But unless the pro-war side admits they were dead wrong in their expectations and policy predictions, and recognizes that this war has already had an immense human cost, weaking the US and risking regional civil war, don’t expect anyone to be overly rosesy if we simply find a way after five years to get out with relative stability.
No one gives a flip, so please don’t hold your breath waiting for everyone to fall down on their knees and shout mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
We don’t give a flip who’s rosy about the fact we might ’get out’ with relative stability.

We’re interested in the stability part. You’re worried ’we’ admit to, etc etc etc. Grow up. That ain’t what this is about any more, it’s about fixing something that we understand is broke, that we understand could have been done better, but in the long run we’re interested in seeing fixed, instead of bailing and coming home with our tail stuck up our butts while the Middle East descends into the next level of hell, presumably so you get to stand on the fence rail at dawn crowing about how you were right.

I don’t think we’re much interested in your happiness on this, or Pelosi’s, etc.

If it comes out stable, policy wise that WILL be a success. It’s how it ends that matters (see the US Civil War and the successes of the ANV between 1861-1863 vs the side that won the war in 1865).

We’re interested in seeing that we fix the problem, some of which we certainly did cause. You’re focus is about history, and firmly fixing the blame.

As the Clinton’s would say, MOVE ON.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Personally, I don’t remember a single war opponent claiming we’d have trouble democratizing Iraq because the people were corrupt, lazy and used to living under the thumb. I heard that America was too corrupt to sell democracy. I even heard that it had never been done—a laugher, that one—but I never heard anybody predict what the real problem would be in Iraq. Which is that Saddam killed Mandela.

Did Filet-O-Fish get that one right? Erb?
 
Written By: spongeworthy
URL: http://
We’re interested in seeing that we fix the problem, some of which we certainly did cause. You’re focus is about history, and firmly fixing the blame.
Because there is an election coming, duh!

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Misconceptions of Iraq? Hmmmm.


Is this supposed to mean something when there are truthers out there -
http://911review.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9/11_conspiracy_theories

I should worry about people who mistakenly think Saddam was behind the 9/11 conspiracy while there are idiots who think it was really the President?

You know, some people believe we never landed on the moon.
Others are convinced LBJ killed JFK.
Lots of people buy the National Enquirer.
Clowns like you are convinced Rush Limbaugh called American soldiers who disagreed with him about Iraq ’phony soldiers’.

What’s your point, that people can be wrong?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Because there is an election coming, duh!
If he gets his way, it WILL be a failure, no question about it.
He’s part of the 1st regiment of Schadenfreude.
You’re focus is about history, and firmly fixing the blame.
And my english writing is sometimes not so looking good I’m think!
’You’re’?
heh - mea culpa.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Hollis thinks this denial will disappear in the face of the fact. It’s one reason I’ve always liked Billy; the boy is eternally optimistic. As an interesting side discussion, Billy worries about the effects of the transition :

This could last indefinitely. But let’s suppose, just for argument, that it does not. And let’s assume that the dramatic drop in violence continues and, at least at the local level, Iraq’s governing entities continue to make progress. (I don’t think any of these are far-fetched assumptions.)

The longer the cone of silence stays in place before the mainstream media confronts such changes, the more the change will be evident. And the closer we will be to an election.
I hate to burst your bubble, Billy... but I doubt it. In all likelihood that transition twenty facts will never occur. I give you Vietnam an example. The Communists military leaders have since told us that we were three to six weeks away from winning the thing. A point that the left has never admitted, even 30 years later.

Even if by some miracle, the left finally came around and admitted that they were wrong, and the press started actually reporting this stuff, (Again, I doubt it) they’d wind up waiting until after the election... Remember; that one major reason for their taking this position of denial in the first place, is the obtaining of political power . Why would they admit that they were wrong, until such time as that power was achieved?


And by the way, I’d label that aside discussion, because the main part of it for me, was almost a throwaway for Yon:

In places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Britain people hardly seemed to notice that success is being achieved in Iraq, while in the United States, Britney was competing for airtime with O.J. in one of the saddest sideshows on Earth.
Yon’s comments about the willful denial of the facts already established, reminded me of nothing quite so much as the jury nullification in the O.J. Simpson case which he unconsciously ties to in his piece. Each exists, for many of the same reasons.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Let’s get one thing straight: Iraq is by every definition a policy failure already
Ummm No.... not unless the policy failure of which you speak was as regards the policy which through mid to late the 90’s led up to the war...

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Let’s get one thing straight: Iraq is by every definition a policy failure already
Indeed not. In fact, it was a roaring policy success. If you remember, the stated policy of the United States was Regime Change in Iraq.

Accomplished!

At any rate, it is absolutely hysterical that after of weeks of crying about unwinnable military situations etc etc, the first thing Erb busts out is "policy failure"

L
O
L

@

E
R
B
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Indeed not. In fact, it was a roaring policy success. If you remember, the stated policy of the United States was Regime Change in Iraq.
No, that wasn’t the whole of the policy. Hint: don’t confuse slogans for policy.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So, the law was a slogan, Scott?
Seems to me Shark’s not the one who is confused.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Boris Erb hints:
No, that wasn’t the whole of the policy. Hint: don’t confuse slogans for policy.
So that’s two sentences. In the first you say that regime change wasn’t the whole of the policy, implicitly admitting that regime change was at the least a part of the policy (clearly it was the policy which in its essence implied standing up a new government). Then, in the second sentence you suggest that an actual concrete policy, regime change, is but a slogan. Well, anyway, at least you’re consistent in your banality.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
These statements aren’t contradictions:

"The war was a policy failure."

"We’re going to win if we stick it out."

The key word is "policy". Thousands of Americans and many times more Iraqis are dead with millions of refugees. The war has cost many times the predictions. Saddam’s WMD program was defunct. The US assumed that Iraq would resemble Afghanistan rather than Beirut and had no plan B. It took us nearly four years to develop and implement an effective strategy. It revealed critical flaws in our intelligence, post-conflict capabilities, and military spending priorities.

However! Iraq now looks (to Osama and war supporters both) like a huge defeat for al Qaeda. Not only have they been unable to establish their caliphate, they’ve totally alienated their base of support in Iraq and helped convince 10s of millions of Muslims elsewhere that violence is not the way. AQI is now the one who needs a new strategy.

Politically the press is doing the Republicans a huge favor by ignoring the sea change. That’s because the closer to the election that the public becomes aware of the imminent victory, the less time the good news will have to dissipate - helping Republican war supporters. If the press was smart, they’d be doing everything in their power to turn success into "old news" so they could "move on" to more important matters (those that favor Dems.)
 
Written By: Larry
URL: http://
You are right that policy failure and "we can win" are not contradictory. But...
However! Iraq now looks (to Osama and war supporters both) like a huge defeat for al Qaeda.
I’m not sure how it looks to Osama, but I suspect if it looks like they’re losing Iraq, they are still glad Iraq came along, took the focus away from Afghanistan, and gave them a chance to bleed America on the cheap. It bought time for them to regroup, and kept American assets involved in Iraq (Arab speakers, military, etc.) Al qaeda could recruit regionally (Syria and other places), so they didn’t dip into their pool of recruits that could train for missions in Europe and the US. So they may think, "hey we pulled this gig off for four years, that’s even better than we expected.

helped convince 10s of millions of Muslims elsewhere that violence is not the way. AQI is now the one who needs a new strategy.
Al qaeda never had a lot of popular support, even those who were glad Bin Laden hit the US weren’t supporting the extremism of Bin Laden. I suspect the emotion of the war, innocent Iraqis killed and the images on television has actually helped al qaeda overall. The good news is that al qaeda has never been a true threat to the US — they can hit us with terror attacks due to the nature of our globalized system, but they can’t really threaten the foundation of our state or society.

However, Larry, don’t be surprised if things only appear better in the short term for Iraq — the ethnic divisions, corruption, Shi’ite militias, and even Sunni groups now willing not to attack Americans could easily start turning on each other again, and the most extremist elements could use dramatic attacks to awaken the passions of all sides. Ethnic violence like this is hard to put back in the bottle once unleashed. And Iran has agents throughout Iraq, in Iraq’s government and in Shi’ite groups to assure they will have considerable influence (and knowledge of American actions).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
However, Larry, don’t be surprised if things only appear better in the short term for Iraq — the ethnic divisions, corruption
You do keep trying to hold out hope for a failure, don’t you?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Great to hear that things are going so well fellas. Now who’ll venture me a guess as to when it will be going so well that we can leave? McQ, looker, shark, anybody?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
I don’t know, Retief. Under policies put in place by a Democratic president (Truman), we’re still in Germany and Okinawa 60 years later. I’d be happy if we’d shift those troops in Germany into the Middle East, since I think that’s a much more obvious place to exert influence over our national security interests.

If folks with your attitude had been in charge sixty years ago, the entire European continent would now be recovering from Soviet occupation instead of just the eastern half of it. Assuming that the free world minus Europe would have been able to hang on and force the Soviets to stress their system until it crumbled.

Exactly what part of the "Long War" don’t you get? Islamofascism is going to be with us a while. You’d rather just bug out and let them bring the conflict here, I suppose? I’d really rather it be over there if you don’t mind, hopefully finding a way to wind down this conflict (which we didn’t start!) without death on a mass scale.

I want it to be over too, but reality is that it won’t be until those Islamists who want to kill Americans by the thousand or hundred thousand realize that we’re serious is stopping them.

We don’t really want to be there. If they want us gone, all they have to do is act like adults.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Scott, of course things could turn back in the wrong direction. And this being the ME, the right direction is usually not all that right anyway. But once tired of violence, people don’t tend to turn back towards it.

My expectation is that Iraq will remain a mess for a long time, but a less violent, more democratic one, with a growing economy (underpinned by oil). Turkey may invade, but they’re not after territory, and so will leave again. Iran has influence but it is likely to wane, because the Shi’i don’t really need them at this point and let’s face it, Arabs and Persians don’t mix that well. The most important indicator now other than attacks and killings is what the refugees do. Millions of long-time Afghan refugees went home after the Taliban collapsed. If Iraqis do the same, this thing is over.

I mention Osama because his most recent tape laments AQI’s failures rather than lauding its achievements (the ones you mention are pretty stony soup if you ask me.) AQ has been stunningly ineffective outside of Iraq in recent times. Even in their other beachhead in Pakistan, I don’t see AQ running things. Unlike AQI, the locals appear to be in charge.
 
Written By: Larry
URL: http://
Why would leaving be a priority, Retief?
We still have bases in Japan and Germany, and Italy, after all.

And Kosovo, if I’m not much mistaken.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Great to hear that things are going so well fellas. Now who’ll venture me a guess as to when it will be going so well that we can leave? McQ, looker, shark, anybody?
Thank you Billy, Bit - especially that Kosovo deployment thingie we did under the auspices of Clinton the Male (all goodness flows from him).

You guys left out our Invasion of England back in 1942 - have we ever withdrawn from there. I know they’re essentially peaceful, and have a basically stable government and all, but I guess we still have to keep bases there to keep the colonists in line.
I wonder when we can leave.


It’s called growing up Retief.
Try it.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Exactly what part of the "Long War" don’t you get? Islamofascism is going to be with us a while.
No - the fascists trying to subvert Islam is a tiny minority, and you see what’s happening to them in Iraq. The term "islamofascism" is misleading because it’s really a subversion of Islam by a small group who ultimately can’t succeed, let alone fight some kind of ’long war.’ Don’t get paranoid. A few terror attacks are dramatic, but terrorism is a strategy of the weak, not the strong. There’s no comparison with the Soviet Union or the Communist bloc.

People too often conflate Islam with the weak extremist cults trying to defy change and progress, and thus fantasize that a small, weak, marginal enemy is some kind of existential threat. That is simply wrong.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Larry, I generally agree about al qaeda; their agenda is too extreme to win the hearts and minds of average Muslims, and by now even the slight pride in hurting one of the superpowers that gave them a residual of support has faded as their tactics against fellow Muslims become well known.

I think that for your prediction on Iraq to become true we’ll need partition. Historically ethnic conflicts like that heat up again at even slight provocations, and given the lack of true political reconciliation and the continuing violence (even if less than 2006 levels, still intense) I don’t see the different groups living well together, or forming a functional democracy. Partition is not usually a good idea, but I think the options now leave little choice.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
No - the fascists trying to subvert Islam is a tiny minority...
Perhaps. But if that "tiny minority" manages to gain access to weapons that allow them to increase their terrorist death toll by an order of magnitude or two, exactly what comfort is it that tens or hundreds of thousands of people were killed by a "tiny minority".

At this point, I’m not worried about an existential threat, though I do think that in the longer term that’s not as preposterous a notion as you seem to think. I’m much more concerned about the world that would result from a terrorist use of nuclear or biological weapons. You can write any number of scripts based on that scenario, and most of them are pretty horrific.

The only way to stop that is to engage the problem in a more constructive way. There’s plenty to criticize about the Bush administration’s approach, but sitting back and waiting for the sh!+ to hit the fan would have been far stupider.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
So Billy Hollis, you pretend that our occupation of Iraq is like our "occupation" of Germany and Okinawa? Pray, do tell. Tell us all the ways that Iraq is like Frankfurt. Do tell us about the combat patrols rounding up German insurgents last week. Please, tell us about the hundreds of thousands of German detainees we’ve got locked up there becasue we’re afraid to either let them go or turn them over the German government to be abused. Tell us how the invasion of Iraq was just like World War II.

Are we to understand that your guess as to when the Iraqi government can stand on its own so we can leave is more than 60 years from now? Good luck selling that.

looker, heal thyself.

Bithead, Your CinC Bush says we’ll leave when we’ve won. Per you that’ll be never. Again, good luck selling that.
But if that "tiny minority" manages to gain access to weapons that allow them to increase their terrorist death toll by an order of magnitude or two, exactly what comfort is it that tens or hundreds of thousands of people were killed by a "tiny minority".

At this point, I’m not worried about an existential threat, though I do think that in the longer term that’s not as preposterous a notion as you seem to think. I’m much more concerned about the world that would result from a terrorist use of nuclear or biological weapons. You can write any number of scripts based on that scenario, and most of them are pretty horrific.
You’re just going to have to learn to live with your fear without invading countries that don’t have any such weapons to give anyway. To prevent the possibility of terrorists using Nuclear of Biological weapons you’d have to eliminate either terrorists or Nuclear (and Biological) weapons. Neither of those is possible, so get out from under the bed and live with it. Meanwhile Bush’s alledgedly more constructive use of our resources has both increased the number of terrorists and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Retief, if that’s the best you can do, you may be on the verge of giving in to the dark side. Go read this, if you think you’re up to it.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
To prevent the possibility of terrorists using Nuclear of Biological weapons you’d have to eliminate either terrorists or Nuclear (and Biological) weapons. Neither of those is possible, so get out from under the bed and live with it.
Saying that since you can’t reduce the risk to zero, it’s therefore a bad idea to try and reduce the risk at all is a pretty silly claim, don’t you think?
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://

At this point, I’m not worried about an existential threat, though I do think that in the longer term that’s not as preposterous a notion as you seem to think. I’m much more concerned about the world that would result from a terrorist use of nuclear or biological weapons. You can write any number of scripts based on that scenario, and most of them are pretty horrific.
Why? I mean that seriously. We’ve had a holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, Rwanda, two world wars...during the Cold War the threat wasn’t a terror attack, but destruction of the planet in all out nuclear war. So why would a terror attack using WMD be so horrific? It wouldn’t be good, but they’re capacity is limited.

My answer to the "why" question: our reaction. Terrorism can cause fear (that is their goal), which then causes reactions which could undermine our own freedoms, and inadvertently help the terrorists who know they can’t get the kind of ’culture war’ they want unless outside attackers can rachet up the anger. So our first concern needs to be to make sure we don’t let fear be our guide, and we recognize that one can attack the roots of terrorism (why is it that people become convinced this is a rational policy?) and create a solid foundation for making terrorism an unacceptable choice, even among those who oppose the West. We do need effective counter terrorism, and there is a military role in that. But that doesn’t seem to me to entail so much a ’long war’ as a sustained policy on diplomatic, cultural, political and sometimes military (and police) fronts.

So yeah, we need to be constructive. I agree there — I just think we also need to have a clear picture of the entire context, too often it seems the discussions get fear-driven, and that can lead to miscalculations.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Billy Hollis, am I to understand by your silence that you’ve stopped pretending Iraq is just like WWII? Good for you.
Saying that since you can’t reduce the risk to zero, it’s therefore a bad idea to try and reduce the risk at all is a pretty silly claim, don’t you think?
Of course it is. That’s why I don’t suggest that, rather I suggest that your favored course of action has been counter-productive. And that your fear of such risks is an irrelevant argument WRT Iraq.

I read your link, but if you listen to Conferderate Yankee Iraq has been unalloyed success ever since he started blogging.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Billy Hollis, am I to understand by your silence that you’ve stopped pretending Iraq is just like WWII?
Show me again where I said Iraq is "just like" WWII. All wars have certain things in common, and all have differences. You seem to think there’s nothing to be learned from comparisons. I think there are many things to be learned.

Have you read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich? If not, you should. The general concept of stopping a serious threat while it’s relatively easy to stop is worth spending some time on.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Retief thinks all the NAZI’s were dead at the end of the war (Course I know Germans who will, tongue in cheek, make that claim).

I doubt he even has a clue about how long it took the allies (Western Allies...) to repatriate Wehrmacht forces when the war ended.
Or the number of Allied troops who were killed AFTER the war ended during the early occupation years.
I doubt he’s aware there were even restrictions on what animals (if any) the Germans were allowed to slaughter for food, etc.

Don’t have a clue what it took to rebuild Germany and how long it took or how many men we lost to the ’peaceful’ Germans do you Retief.
All just happened by PFM and the diagram for making Germany whole had a little cloud in the middle where it said -

Miracle occurs here.

Not at all like rebuilding Iraq, right Retief?




 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Don’t have a clue what it took to rebuild Germany and how long it took or how many men we lost to the ’peaceful’ Germans do you Retief.
If you had any such clue, you’d post those numbers instead of imagining them.
the diagram for making Germany whole had a little cloud in the middle where it said -

Miracle occurs here.
You’re thinking of the Iraq phase four plan. But no, that wasn’t the plan for Germany, the initial plan was to transform their economy into one based on agriculture and light industry, to degrade their capability as a military threat.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
One real lesson I hope people learn from this war is the danger of using analogy to predict political results. The analogy of Iraq to Germany and Japan after WWII was seductive, it got people to think that if you overthrow a dictatorship and defeat it in war, then all you need is the will to reconstruct and provide democracy to reshape the societies. Instead, people should have thought about how different Iraq is than either Japan or Germany. Both Japan and Germany had tried democracy, both were modern and industrialized, both were relatively homogeneous, and each had an economic capacity to achieve quick economic success. More importantly, each had a tradition of rule of law and the mechanisms to avoid too high a level of post-war corruption.

The post-Ottoman culture of the Arab world was built on much more difficult terrain. They lacked basic civil society structures necessary for democracy, corruption was immense, and violence as politics had continued through a bloody 20th century. The post-Ottoman world scores lowest on levels of freedom, in part due to the legacy inherited from that conservative, brutal, dictatorship. Islam was used to rationale Ottoman rule, embracing a very conservative form of the faith, meant in part to keep out western ideas (and did successfully stop Ottoman reform attempts in the 19th century). Challenges to this interpretation and the power of the clerics (the ulama) would open ruptures in Islam between those willing to reform and change, and those wanting to hold on to the conservative, fundamentalist traditions. Add to that the Sunni-Shi’ite-Kurd split in Iraq, and no one should have ever thought for a second that the analogy to post-WWII reconstruction had any validity.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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