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Iraq - National Reconciliation: Slowly, but surely
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ed Morrissey was on a teleconference with Rep. Michele Bachmann who relayed the following news:
[T]he National Assembly passed a pension bill, a critical step in reconciliation. That did not get much mention in the American media, but the Sunnis now have government pensions denied them after the fall of Saddam, which should alleviate much of the hostility.
Another step in the national reconciliation process is underway as well:
The Iraqi cabinet approved a draft law on Wednesday that will offer a general pardon to thousands of prisoners in U.S. military and Iraqi custody, a government spokesman said.

"The cabinet has passed the general pardon law, which will define who is eligible to be freed from all prisons, both Iraqi and American," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters.

The law still needs to be approved by parliament.

Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, said earlier this month that the draft law was aimed at boosting reconciliation between majority Shi'ite and Sunni Arab Muslims, locked in a cycle of violence.
In addition, while the oil revenue law hasn't yet been passed, oil revenue is being shared among the various factions within Iraq. It is, in fact, directly responsible for much of the economic renewal that is happening there as well as many of the much needed infrastructure repairs.

Speaking of progress, another outspoken critic is seeing changes for the better in Iraq:
U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., who has been a vocal critic of President Bush’s policy in the war in Iraq, on Monday visited troops in Iraq and said the situation appears to be improving.

“It’s headed in a much better direction but everything is very tentative,” Boyda said after receiving briefings from war commander Army Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and others.

She said that violence has decreased significantly in the region but that U.S. military and civilian officials don’t want to raise hopes yet.

“What is happening on the ground tactically is very good, and everyone is hopeful that it will continue, but no one is taking anything for granted and they don’t want to overstate things,” she said.
No, you don't want to overstate things yet, but progress has become so obvious now, that even the critics can't ignore it or deny it any longer ... well, except in our comment section.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Achieving victory or success in a war is kinda like driving up a snow and ice covered hill.

It is slippery and messy as hell, sometimes to make progress you have to deliberately slide back or make lateral moves, occasionally you’ll have setbacks which take you back down the hill. Often you’ll gain traction, and make progress, only to loose it from an unforeseen obstacle.

We’re gaining traction and making progress accurately describes where we are right now.
Written By: Keith_Indy
A commenter, eman, over at Ace of Spades had this to say,
Maybe we should acknowledge all the hard work put in by the Left to move the goal posts all year long. We should create "Goal Post Moving Day", and keep changing the date.

Now that’s funny.
Written By: Veeshir
URL: http://
Hey Erb - Remember those small steps!
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Actually, McQ, you’ve never answered the real criticism of your attempt to spin Iraq: That you are trying to pretend that small improvements five years into a fiasco that was supposed to go quickly and relatively cheaply somehow undo the damage done by that fiasco, or make it anything other than a failed policy. You are trying to redefine success down so much that if Iraq is in anything other than all out long term chaos than it’s success. Luckily the media, academia, and the world is not buying that kind of line — that dog don’t hunt.

But there is good news: the end of neo-conservatism and American fantasies that it could reshape the world has yielded a new multipolarity that promises a much better shot at handling world problems.
Written By: Scott Erb
That you are trying to pretend that small improvements five years into a fiasco that was supposed to go quickly and relatively cheaply somehow undo the damage done by that fiasco, or make it anything other than a failed policy.
You can’t believe there is progress after all of your predictions to the contrary.

Take a moment to consider - September, 1945. The end of World War Two. The cost of that war? In todays terms, approaching 9 trillion dollars - and that was just the US portion. The end of a war athat destroyed not one, or two, but ultimatley led to the destruction of three empires - one of them being Britain.

The human cost? For the US - Approximately 450,000 dead. Total up the war dead for all participants and the totals approach 22 million, not counting the wounded, maimed and missing. And that total also does not include civilian casualties or the effects of the holocaust, numbers that would stretch past another 25 million, plus the over 10 million dospossessed and dislocated - which the world was still trying to unravel and relocate well into the mid 1950s.

The physical cost? The world was reduced to rubble from:
In the Pacific North from Mongolia to the borders of Burma and India. East from Central China to Island chains approaching Hawaii.
In Europe: From the rubble of London as a result of the blitz East to Stalingrad and the outskirts of Moscow. North from Murmansk to the outskirts of Cairo.
And over 25 million tons of shipping and material rotting on the bottoms of the oceans and seas of the world.

And with the entire Allied world united at the time, we are in some ways still struggling out from under that catastrophe.

And that whole stink was deemed a success! And now you are sitting on the sidelines throwing potshots at a process you call a complete failure that has the potential to end with the ability of 40 million free Iraqi to determine their own fate - at no personal cost to yourself. And with all of that you say to McQ "you’ve never answered the real criticism of your attempt to spin Iraq."

Who’s spinning who, Erb?
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Luckily the media, academia, and the world is not buying that kind of line — that dog don’t hunt.
Two out of three, Scott. Better than your usual percentage.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Again, SSHiell, this is playing out pretty much like I predicted a year ago, on my January 17, 2007 blog entry. My predictions about Iraq have been pretty accurate (though I didn’t think things would end up going as bad as they did — the depth of the failure was worse than I anticipated.)

I’ve recently predicted on December 10th that despite success at creating short term stability, the long term problems in Iraq suggest it will no time soon become a stable democracy, and in fact ultimately Iran will benefit the most from America’s fiasco in Iraq. But we learned a lesson — we overestimated the ability of military power to shape a political system, and we’ve been taken down a notch in the international system. Now the key is to make sure we extricate ourselves from the situation with a minimal amount of damage done.

And when you try to compare this — an invasion of a tiny, weak country for reasons that turned out not to be true — to WWII, the absurdity of your comparison weakens, rather than strengthens your case. There is a reason why outside of this blog and a few other right wing blogs or media cites virtually nobody seriously considers Iraq anything but a failure and a fiasco. That said, nobody wants it to be in chaos forever either!
Written By: Scott Erb
Oh one more thing about that blog from January 17, 2007 — note my prediction on the early bets for the nomination. I said Obama or Edwards against Huckabee. I may ultimately be proven wrong there, but how many people recognized Huckabee’s potential at that time? My crystal ball was working pretty well that day ;-)
Written By: Scott Erb
So Professor, correct me if I’m wrong - but is the essence of what you are saying that America is in decline? And further, that there will never be any circumstances under which Iraq could be considered a success?

Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Is there some, I don’t know... university website where I could read more about these observations, distilled down to 40,000 words or so?
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Jeff: IMO, the US is in a natural decline from a short period of unipolarity to being part of a multipolar balance of power. Our biggest vulnerability now is economic, and includes our dependence on oil. This doesn’t mean America is collapsing or falling apart. The Iraq invasion was a failure and that can’t be undone. New policies might be successful in trying to improve the situation. I have no problem with labeling new policies successful, so long as no one tries to make the claim that somehow this vindicates the earlier, failed policies. Indeed, I’ve praised President Bush for learning from failure and devising new, more realistic policies, and ditching the style of diplomacy of 2002-03 (less of people like Rumsfeld and Bolton, more of Gates and Rice, both of whom I think have done a very good job.)
Written By: Scott Erb
Those were rhetorical questions.
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Those were rhetorical questions.
But they brought about real answers.
Written By: Scott Erb
My predictions about Iraq have been pretty accurate
The US will be leaving en masse by 2008
You’ve got less than a week left for this to be accurate.

Furthermore, you are on record multiple times claiming the surge would not work in any way, shape, or form.

Save your weasel crap for your students. Everyone here can read right through you.
Written By: JWG
URL: http://

Since you seem to be so precient and us mere mortals must bow to your superior intellect would you mind explaining this from January 12?

"All this ’surge’ means is more people will be killed and nothing really will change"

Yeah, lots more people killed since the surge, right? We have an uncontainable civil war and intractable internicine conflict. The reductions in casualty rates both military and civilian we have observed are just outliers, right?
Written By: D
URL: http://
JWG, if you read the post you’ll see I’m talking about during the year of 2008, not before that. I think we’ll be doing that at a significant level. As for my January 12th post vs. January 17th, you’ll see that my 12th was right after getting back from Italy and it was short snippets. The post five days later gives a more detailed analysis. In essence, five days after I made that snippet, I thought about things carefully and changed my mind, arguing that the surge would likely bring more stability in the short term, and would allow President Bush to declare it a success and bring troops home in 2008 (in later blog entires I guessed it would really start happening at a significant level after March or April 2008). So you can read the blog of January 17th as my taking back what I wrote on January 12th and giving a new, more thoughtful, analysis.

I think in April I had a too pessimistic view of the surge (an entry labeled "surge pessimism" — after a March 2007 entry entitled "Surge optimism") so perhaps there, in April, you can find a better example of me getting something wrong in my crystal ball.
Written By: Scott Erb
I think in April I had a too pessimistic view of the surge (an entry labeled "surge pessimism" — after a March 2007 entry entitled "Surge optimism") so perhaps there, in April, you can find a better example of me getting something wrong in my crystal ball.
So, you were for the surge before you were against it, right?
Written By: D
URL: http://
D, my blog entry of January 17th speaks for itself — I pretty much predicted it would work to create short term stability. Even then, I didn’t anticipate the willingness of the US not to fight against Sunni insurgents, but to tolerate their being armed so long as they were opposed to al qaeda. I praised that decision as well. You see, unlike some people, I don’t see this as a black and white issue. The attack in 2003 was clearly a fiasco and has hurt the US immensely — and caused considerable pain to the Iraqis. But I like it when the policies are adjusted to try to compensate and minimize the damage, and will praise the President when that happens. I follow the action, I’m not for or against any party or particular person. I think that makes me more objective than the partisan bloggers.
Written By: Scott Erb
my blog entry of January 17th speaks for itself
And so does your entry on the 12th in which you summarily dismissed it as destined to achieve nothing save give GWB a fig leaf. Know however that, to this reader anyways, you cannot have it both ways. That is, unless it is your goal to triangulate sufficiently to as to be able to claim your position is anywhere you need it to be.
Written By: D
URL: http://
you cannot have it both ways
But that is the essence of the Erb-weasel.
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
A new book shows Saddam did support al Qaeda and the Taliban:

’Both In One Trench: Saddam’s Secret Terror Documents’
Written By: hypnotoad3000
Scott states:
a fiasco that was supposed to go quickly
Iraqi government and society was supposed to be rebuilt using the same method as Japan after WWII, but with the additional hassle that they write their own constitution. (This concept was made public before the invasion). It took that fairly homogenous population eight years to get to the point that Iraq is at now.
The Iraq invasion was a failure and that can’t be undone
The goals of the invasion were to topple Saddam’s government, and to let the Iraqis create their own government. When you are moving toward the stated goals in a timely fashion, that’s not failure.
Start with a false premise, and it doesn’t matter how rational the argument seems after that. What Erb’s trying to argue is that even if the current tactics succeed, it will be a pyrrhic victory; but he insists that failure to achieve the original goal be assumed as a given.

Which brings me to what I can’t figure out. [I know it’s not my place here to ask questions of the group, so I won’t mind if this post deleted or ignored.]
Starting with bad assumptions that are easily countered by facts seems common among those that those pleading ’withdraw immediately’, AGW and ’jet fuel can’t melt steel’ (If that’s too big an swath, I think it’s certainly true here).
Do you think this is a case of:
A- Not knowing the meanings of the terms used. (policy vs tactics, long-term commitment, etc.)
B- Not knowing the relevant history or current events.
C- Just being intellectually dishonest on the subject. (Reshaping the facts gives you a leg up in any discussion if you get away with it; and it saves pride)
D- A long term result of teaching the theory that to value all people, you must value everyone’s opinion no matter what it’s based on (AKA ’there’s no right answer’ or ’that’s just their perspective’). Appealing to people on an emotional level is more important than cold data, becuase humans are more important than machines.
E- Me having the facts wrong.
F- None of the above.

Written By: Ted
URL: http://
"Those were rhetorical questions."

And you got more rhetoric. What did you expect? He never misses a chance to bloviate or cite himself.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Good question, Ted. But don’t forget the influence of outright delusion. I don’t think the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are intellectually dishonest. I think they’re simply deluded. (A and B don’t apply to them, because there have been any number of rebuttals of their nonsense. They therefore can’t claim simple ignorance.)

To be fair, I wouldn’t put global warming activists and those who deny any benefits from the surge in the same category, because both are ongoing processes. I’d like to hope some of those people could have their mind changed (either way) if evidence becomes clearer than it is today. I don’t necessarily think certain of our commenters are in that group, however.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
The goals of the invasion were to topple Saddam’s government, and to let the Iraqis create their own government. When you are moving toward the stated goals in a timely fashion, that’s not failure.
No, the goal was to remove Saddam’s WMD program. Seems he didn’t have one. It was supposed to go quickly, it was supposed to pressure Syria and Iran, it was supposed to be paid for by Iraqi oil money, and when a Bush Administration official once hinted it might cost $200 billion (a drop in the bucket compared to the real cost), he was pushed aside.

Donald Rumsfeld doubted we’d be there in large force for six months, that was the long term. If someone had predicted that it would be five years and we’d only be this far, it would have been dismissed as insanely pessimistic at the time. This is nothing like what was planned, what they thought would happen, and the cost is immensely greater. Moreover, Iran and Syria have been made stronger, Russia has used this to help become resurgent and a player in the region, and the US has been weakened immensely — the debt has climbed to over 9 trillion. It is dishonest to try to pretend this is anything like what the goal was or what was expected. It’s not.

The good thing is that this has shown America how weak we are in terms of trying to shape other countries, it has soured the public on the use of military force, and forced us to accept that we are not able to reshape the Mideast and in fact are part of a multipolar system where we need to cooperate. President Bush has altered his diplomatic approach, and shifted from trying to defeat the Sunni insurgents — something we failed at completely — to coopting them, while leaving the Shi’ite militias, funded by Iran, alone for the most part. They are powerful, they hold the future of Iraq in their pocket, and assure immense Iranian influence in Iraq in the future. This is one of the biggest strategic fiascos in American history.

You apparently weren’t paying attention in 2002 and 2003 when the war was being debated, and the predictions were being made. We were to be greeted as liberators, met with flowers and candy, embraced especially by the Shi’ites, and Iraq was going to be a modern secular democratic state. Now women are considered worse off than under Saddam, religious fundamentalists run most cities and towns in Shi’ite sections, the government is largely impotent and dysfunctional, and the Shi’ite militias remain quiet waiting for us to leave, while the Sunni insurgents are armed, ready to battle the Shi’ites if necessary. In Iran, the hardliners won elections in 2004 and 2005 as a reaction to America’s foreign policy, and, while I think they will lose in the next election, this clearly was unexpected.

You need to really go back and read about what was going on in 2002 and 2003. Read the books on the history of the decision making, the optimism that they had that the war would go quickly. We cannot allow people to somehow rewrite history to try to deny the obvious failure in Iraq. That would prevent us from learning from our mistakes. Luckily, I think the public knows, and while we all want new policies to try to allow us to leave and Iraq to be stable, this is nothing like what people were thinking would happen when they made the fateful choice to launch an aggressive war.

D - the blog of the 17th is my changing my analysis five days after the first comment based on new evidence and reading. I do change my mind on issues if the evidence warrants. Apparently you think people should always hold the same opinion regardless of the evidence. And given the way global warming deniers seem to try to pretend the evidence is on their side, and war supporters try to deny that the way this has played out is totally different than expected, I guess the way a lot of people are approaching politics is simply to grab a position, defend it and spin it to the end. I refuse to do that; in fact, part of my profession is to try to combat the tendency of some people to allow partisan to trump reason.

Because as much as some in this blog try to construct an alternate reality, it’s clear that the American people know that the choice of launching a war of aggression against Iraq was a blunder that we’re trying hard to recover from. It was immoral and killed a lot of people. A recent report shows extremely low morale and psychological problems of returning soldiers, especially those on their third tour of duty. Divorce rates are skyrocketing.

And America is weaker. This has been a pointless fiasco, a lot of death, destruction, and shattered lives...all apparently justfied in the minds of some people that after five years of horror there is a glimmer of hope that MAYBE Iraq might become moderately stable in the future. The surreal insanity of such a position is obvious. Yet, of course, there are those who live in denial.
Written By: Scott Erb
No, the goal was to remove Saddam’s WMD program.
Prof. Erb — I understand that this is your misunderstanding of the Iraq War. However, if you check the record for our reasons for the Iraq War, i.e. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ RESOLUTION OF 2002 you will see that you are completely mistaken on 22 1/2 out of 23 counts.

As to Saddam’s WMD programs, there is no question that Hussein had WMD programs and WMD for some time before the war, that he had used such weapons against Iranians and Kurds, that he continued to thwart inspections about those weapons, that in the mid-nineties we underestimated his progress towards nuclear WMD, that he at least pretended to have those weapons at the time immediately prior to the Iraq War such that everyone—Europeans, Democrats and Republicans—believed that he had them, that he had not accounted for destroying the WMD and WMD materials he admitted to having, and that he would continue to work to obtain those weapons.

Why this needs to be explained to you, a professor of international relations who speaks out as frequently as you do against the Iraq War, I have no idea beyond that there is something deeply flawed with our academic system and with the intellectual honesty of those who oppose this war.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
This has been a pointless fiasco, a lot of death, destruction, and shattered lives.
Prof Erb — More arrogant, absolutist language that is insupportable. It’s just the drumbeat of propaganda opposing the war. I’ll grant you that it works, that a fair number of Americans have been swayed by this repetitive manipulation, but it is dishonest and I think you should know better.

Pointless fiasco? Again, the majority of Iraqis have consistently said that the war was worth it. How is that a "pointless fiasco?" Or do you know better than the Iraqis?

It’s not perfect in Iraq and there is still a long ways to go, but that’s a very different situation than "pointless fiasco."
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Lot of stuff you have to ignore these days in order to claim that there is "NO PROGRESS" (H/T Protein Wisdom)
Also on their “ignore” list is any public opinion polling suggesting that Iraqis are increasingly adopting secular political values or are nearly unanimous in saying it would be a bad thing for the country to separate along sectarian lines (or that a majority wants the US to remain until the country is more stable).

They must also ignore plans to absorb about 20,000 members of the Awakening Councils and Concerned Local Citizens groups into the security forces, while spending $310 million on jobs and vocational training for other irregular fighters. And reports that the Concerned Local Citizens patrols’ make-up in Baghdad increasingly reflects the ethnic and sectarian communities they are guarding. They also have to ignore “bottom-up” reconciliation in the provinces, the passage of a “Unified Retirement Law” that will allow civil servants from the Baathist government to collect pensions, the de facto oil revenue sharing, the Cabinet’s approval of a draft law that will offer a general pardon to thousands of prisoners in US military and Iraqi custody, and any other news suggesting reconciliation may be slowly occurring.

Instead, Sullivan buys into Cole’s version of Iraq, in which violence is plunging, but it is not due to the US troop surge, Iraqi reconciliation or even Iran laying off on the flow of weapons and training to Shiite extremists in Iraq. Cole, in a rare lucid moment, notes that the decrease in violence in Anbar is due to the Awakening, rather than troop increases, though it has not occurred to him that the US had a role in the Awakening. Sullivan does not even have that explanation, because the fact that the Anbar tribes (followed by others) decided to side with the US and against AQI does not support his thesis that the decrease in violence is merely a lull.
Written By: Keith_Indy
This has been a pointless fiasco, a lot of death, destruction, and shattered lives.
Prof Erb — More arrogant, absolutist language that is insupportable. It’s just the drumbeat of propaganda opposing the war. I’ll grant you that it works, that a fair number of Americans have been swayed by this repetitive manipulation, but it is dishonest and I think you should know better.
Huxley, it is my opinion, based on my interpretation of the evidence. I will certainly defend my opinion when arguments are made to counter it, and will amend it if the arguments are convincing, but to just attack it without substance like you did — essentially lashing out personally — is not persausive. You give me no reason or rationale to alter an opinion on an issue I’ve thought long and hard about.

And if a lot of people share my opinion, maybe it isn’t because "propaganda" is working, maybe the opinion is accurate and you’re wrong. The view that the choice to go to war was a fiasco is widespread in government, the military, the state department, and by experts. Now, all these people may be wrong, but just insulting us for reaching a certain conclusion isn’t going to convince anyone.

Also, you’re right that everyone knew he had old WMD from the Iran-Iraq war and for use against the Kurds — the Europeans wanted tougher action against Saddam in the eighties for that reason. But there was not uniform agreement he had any programs left by 2003. The weapons inspectors were there, the French President said he had not seen any convincing evidence that there were existing programs or any WMD, and the consensus was to give the weapons inspectors time to gather information. We were impatient, and have suffered considerably as a nation because of it. The only good thing is that we’ve learned a lesson in humility, and about the fact that while military power can win wars, it’s usually not very good and shaping political systems. Trying to deny the failures in Iraq would be to refuse to learn valuable lessons from this debacle.
Written By: Scott Erb
By your measure, all wars are a complete failure of policy, and so, it is a meaningless measure.

That decision, to go to war, was made and is done. There were plenty of pro’s and con’s on the decision tree. The Congress agreed that force may need to be used, and left it to the President to decide.

The biggest failure was lack of planning, resources and training for occupation and nation building. WE AS A NATION failed to make that a priority in our government. And that capability doesn’t grow overnight, or within several years. That takes a decade, or decades worth of resources and work. At least to do it with any amount of competency.

Ignoring our past history of warfare, and the inadequacies of our government to prepare for or wage war, is also to ignore valuable lessons.

Now, trying to ignore the current successes and deem the incomplete project a complete failure is refusing to acknowledge reality for what it is...
Written By: Keith_Indy
No, my measure doesn’t make all wars a complete failure, though most offensive wars (Germany’s WWI and WWII, Japan in WWII, etc.) find the aggressor with a failed policy, while those countering aggression succeed, though the policy is often forced on them.

Keith, I disagree that one can simply say the decision was made and is done. We have to learn from decisions, recognize if bad decisions were made and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes. One reason we didn’t have the planning and resources available is because the country would not have supported a major, costly war. The way the war was sold to the public was on the cheap — we were told by various pundits and politicians that this would be quick, that Iraqi oil revenues would pay most of the cost, and people expected something short and effective.

Lesson one: Never try to sell military conflict to the public on the cheap. Make sure the public is prepared for a major, costly affair or don’t do it at all. That was a big mistake, we need to learn it. People certainly weren’t expecting what happened, and thus turned against the President, the war, and even the Republican party in a big way because of the let down.

Second, the war itself was won easily, it was the effort to create a political system and bring about stability in a broken state that was so difficult and may now still fall apart completely. There is a good chance Iraq will end up much worse than if Saddam had continued longer.

Lesson two: militaries are useful at winning wars, poor at shaping political cultures or creating the kind of political situation we would prefer. We also need to really understand a culture before getting so involved, and should not rely primarily on dissidents and defectors for information.

Finally, I think the difficulties the US — which spends 50% of the world’s military budget — has had in Iraq brings into question whether or not militaries of the 20th century model are useful any more. We can overthrow a government, but really countering terrorism or dealing with non-state threats remains a wholly different matter, as does helping states achieve internal stability. That said, I again think that the Bush Administration has done a good of credibly altering policy to adapt to the changes, and redefine American hopes for Iraq and the region.

Maybe if those of you who supported the war can acknowledge that it went much worse at a much higher cost than anticipated, and that we need to learn lessons from that, we can together say "OK, we’re here, let’s learn the lessons, figure out how to get the best result possible given the circumstances, and ask some tough questions about future policy."
Written By: Scott Erb
Maybe if those of you who supported the war can acknowledge that it went much worse at a much higher cost than anticipated, and that we need to learn lessons from that
I am truly at a loss with you Erb. From my own experience, I was not an advocate of the war but felt the war was the lesser of two evils - the other evil would be allowing Sadaam to remain in power.

Nobody here has portrayed this war as having been handled properly - on the contrary - McQ and others, myself included, have strongly criticized the conduct of the war.

No one is denying the cost in blood and treasure that this nation has spent for this conflict. To a man, virtually every one here echoed the call for a change in Iraq.

The difference? We recognized the COIN strategy and the "surge" as that needed change and that it was worth the effort - you did not. Your "change" was for us to partition Iraq and then get the h*ll out. And now when the progress is so obvious you cannot find any further words to denigrate the mission, it is you leading the cheerleaders by stating:
"OK, we’re here, let’s learn the lessons, figure out how to get the best result possible given the circumstances, and ask some tough questions about future policy."
Erb, take a frigging hike.
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Those lessons are lessons we could have (should have) learned a long time ago, but every war, whether it is a win, loss or draw, tends to make us throw up our hands and say, "it’s over, let’s put that behind us and get on with our lives."

You have no disagreement from me that we need to change in our armed forces. I’ve said that before, and my comment said as much. We also need our intel services changed, they aren’t adequate for the job they are tasked for. And you have no argument from me that we ought to be more careful getting into conflicts. But, these are not problems that just suddenly appeared out of no where. They have existed for decades (centuries even.)

We didn’t enter the Revolutionary War with the forces, material, leadership or plan we ought to have in order to ensure a quick and successful war. You can say the same about WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, just to name the big ones.

But, what’s done is done in terms of what we do in Iraq RIGHT NOW. I’m not talking about how we react to future conflicts, or how we prepare our military, and the government for the kinds of conflicts and situations we envision in the future. I’m talking right now in Iraq. No amount of woulda, coulda, shoulda, is going to change one thing about Iraq right now.

McQ, and others, myself included, were primarily against sending more troops. Because sending more troops wasn’t the answer without also changing their mission. And one thing missing in a number of peoples discussions, is that the current strategy, which appears to be working, may not have worked in 2003, 04, or 05. Without a truly defeated population, Iraq was always going to have an excess of tolerance for anti-American attacks.

It’s only now, after the population got tired of being targeted (because American soldiers were to tough a target and our political will wasn’t changing based on the number of soldiers deaths that were occurring) that the population is joining our efforts en mass. While we’ve always had plenty of volunteers for Iraqi security forces, that wasn’t enough. People want their own neighborhoods free of violence, and they know that we are on their side, not al Qaeda, not the Saddam/Baathist holdouts, and not the private militias.

Change a few words around, like southeast Asia to Middle East, and North Vietnam to Iraq, and this could have been read to the Congress in 2002...
Our policy in southeast Asia has been consistent and unchanged since 1954. I summarized it on June 2 in four simple propositions:

1. America keeps her word. Here as elsewhere, we must and shall honor our commitments.

2. The issue is the future of southeast Asia as a whole. A threat to any nation in that region is a threat to all, and a threat to us.

3. Our purpose is peace.. We have no military, political, or territorial ambitions in the area.

4. This is not just a jungle war, but a struggle for freedom on every front of human activity. Our military and economic assistance to South Vietnam and Laos in particular has the purpose of helping these countries to repel aggression and strengthen their independence.


As President of the United States I have concluded that I should now ask the Congress on its part, to join in affirming the national determination that all such attack swill be met, and that the United States will continue in its basic policy of assisting the free nations of the area to defend their freedom.

As I have repeatedly made clear, the United States intends no rash-ness, and seeks no wider war. We must make it clear to all that the United States is united in its determination to bring about the end of Communist subversion and aggression in the area. We seek the full and effective restoration of the international agreements signed in Geneva in 1954, with respect to South Vietnam, and again in Geneva in 1962, with respect to Laos.

I recommend a resolution expressing the support of the Congress for all necessary action to protect our Armed Forces and to assist nations covered by the SEATO Treaty. At the same time, I assure the Congress that we shall continue readily to explore any avenues of political solution that will effectively guarantee the removal of Communist subversion and the preservation of the independence of the nations of the area.

The resolution could well be based upon similar resolutions enacted by the Congress in the past-to meet the threat to Formosa in 1955, to meet the threat to the Middle East in 1957, and to meet the threat in Cuba in 1962. It could state in the simplest terms the resolve and support of the Congress for action to deal appropriately with attacks against our Armed Forces and to defend freedom and preserve peace in southeast Asia in accordance with the obligations of the United States under the Southeast Asia Treaty. I urge the Congress to enact such a resolution promptly and thus to give convincing evidence to the aggressive Communist nations, and to the world as a whole, that our policy in southeast Asia will be carried forward—and that the peace and security of the area will be preserved.

The events of this week would in any event have made the passage of a congressional resolution essential. But there is an additional reason for doing so at a time when we are entering on 3 months of political campaigning. Hostile nations must understand that in such a period the United States will continue to protect its national interests, and that in these matters there is no division among us.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Keith, I’ll reiterate what I said earlier: we need to have a successful policy now, I agree with you on that. We can’t go back in a time machine and make a different choice in 2003. But I don’t want us to lose sight of the fact that tremendous errors in judgement were made about Iraq in 2002 and 2003, and that in retrospect it’s hard to really believe we’d make the same choice knowing then what we know now. The public here certainly wouldn’t support it. I think we need to shift our thinking on foreign policy towards what in my blog yesterday I called the new multipolarity.

I don’t see how we have gained anything worth the price in Iraq, given the costs and new vulnerabilities. But if we learn the lessons and adjust (like I believe the Bush Administration has on many fronts) then we can work with others to forge a more effective policy to handle the numerous challenges of this changed world.
Written By: Scott Erb
Scott, you shouldn’t complain.
The public won’t be sold another war on the cheap for about 20 years now.

Hopefully we won’t need to have another one for longer.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
More evidence of a changed policy: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proclaimed "we are in a multipolar world now." Clearly, the administration has given up on the ’pax americana’ fantasies of the neo-cons, and the move towards realism (or as I said in my blog, from JFK to Nixon) is real. That is a very good thing.
Written By: Scott Erb

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