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Post-Petraeus thoughts on Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, April 10, 2008

First, a good and necessary move:
President Bush plans to announce today that he will cut Army combat tours in Iraq from 15 months to 12 months, returning rotations to where they were before last year's troop buildup in an effort to alleviate the tremendous stress on the military, administration officials said.
3 months may not sound like much, but in the big scheme of things, it is. However, it is only a small step toward what is necessary to put the Army back into the shape it needs to be in to meet its current missions and be prepared to take on any contingencies.

Of course, pulling the 5 surge brigades is another.

Again, it should be understood, for those who say that isn't enough, that their removal is a 25% reduction of force. In fact, it's a bit more than that as the Marine Expeditionary Unit in Anbar is leaving as well. Such reductions require a pause to consolidate, adjust and assess. With their removal, the available force is 15 combat brigades. The hope, obviously, is to be able to make the assessment and find room to pull a few more out of there soon afterward.

A lot of that depends not so much on the military situation, but on the political situation. I do not disagree with Democrats who made the point during this round of hearings with Petraeus and Crocker that the Iraqis must step up more. What I don't agree with the the contention they've made no progress in that area at all which seems to have been the universal preface to every Democrat's opening statement.

And I obviously don't disagree with Democrats who made the point about the stress Iraq deployments have placed on the Army and Marines. That has to be addressed, and that means further reductions are necessary (the force expansion isn't going to be ready soon enough to relieve that pressure) down to a 10 brigade level in Iraq. I think that's achievable in the next year.

Another point of agreement with Democrats is the need for a diplomatic surge. As far as I'm concerned, with the exception of Amb. Crocker, the State Department has been mostly AWOL in this effort. I think it was Gen Barry McCaffery who first noted the problem a year or so ago. I've seen or read nothing which has me believing the situation has improved. I don't find it particularly surprising that the career State Dept. personnel have been tepid in their support of this endeavor from the beginning, but find that attitude unsupportable and unacceptable given the sacrifices the military has made there. Any progress on diplomatic/government side in Iraq has mostly been the work of one man - Amb. Ryan Crocker.

Much more emphasis needs to be made in this area if we're serious about ending our sojourn there successfully and in a timely manner.

Where the Democrats and I diverge is the script they've written about Basra. For all intents and purposes, they and much of the news media have found their "Tet" and have tried to convince everyone that Basra was a disaster and that al-Sadr "won" and that somehow indicates our efforts in the country are all for naught.

Nonsense.

Gen. Petraeus very succinctly summarized Basra to those who were listening:
"Recent operations in Basra highlight improvements in the ability of the Iraqi Security Forces to deploy substantial numbers of units, supplies, and replacements on very short notice," he said. "On the other hand, the recent operations also underscored the considerable work still to be done in the areas of logistics, force enablers, staff development, and command and control."
Those deficiencies are the very same ones I talked about while the situation was unfolding. You can't expect your first large operation to go smoothly when you've never run a large operation before. So there are lessons to be learned here in the areas he notes. On the other hand, consider what they were able to do.

For instance, one of the biggest hurdles to Iraqi units taking the lead has either been solved or is well on its way to a solution. Logistics. As Petraeus notes, they not only moved a significant number of troops on short notice, but were able to supply and support them as well. That's huge.

The Iraqis began the Basra operation with a force of 8-10 thousand (the 14th Iraqi Division) and the local police force. Within a few days they had a force of 25 to 30,000 on the ground, supplied, supported and ready to fight. That is a very difficult thing for any army, much less one that new, to do. And that force successfully shut down the Iranian border crossings and, as was reported, saw militia units running critically short of ammunition. And, while some want to argue about the source of the cease fire, the fact remains that at this very moment, it is ISF forces who control the streets of Basra (and continue to serve arrest warrants there).

As to the "1,000 desertions". Two facts that have gotten little play. One, most of the desertions were among local police forces. These forces live in and among the people of Basra and have connections with the militias as well as having families living there. It is an acknowledged weakness of the system that has to be rethought. However, if the militias are eventually disarmed, it then becomes much less of a problem. The rest of the desertions came from a brand new brigade recently formed within the fairly new 14th Iraqi Division. They hadn't even finished their training yet. It was a mistake to commit them and the desertions were a sign of that mistake.

However the rest of the 25 to 30,000 man force didn't have that problem. No one is suggesting that the entire force is at the same level of training, but it is a mistake to assume the force is represented by those who deserted.

So what do I want to see happen now?

1. I want to see more ISF operations in which they take the lead as they did in Basra. However, I also want to see those operations better planned and executed than the Basra operation was.

2. I want to see the Iraq government pick up the vast majority of the bills we're paying (another point of agreement with the Dems, but it should be noted that the Iraqis have, for the first time, executed a fiscal budget this year).

3. I want to see much more participation by the State Department (a surge, if you will) and a real push to get the government functioning as it should. This is an area that requires immediate attention and should be the highest priority.

4. I want to see us draw down our combat troop strength to 10 brigades as soon as the situation allows. That will allow for the mending which needs to take place within the Army and eventually put it back in the shape it needs to be to fully serve the national interest, but leave sufficient combat power there to ensure continued progress incountry.

I agree with Ryan Crocker's assessment that while success in Iraq isn't guaranteed, it is now at least possible. Whether you are a supporter of the war or not, whether you were for it from the beginning or not, the fact is we're there, we have a situation to remedy and the faster we remedy it, the faster we can get out of there. You'd think that would be something everyone could get behind.
 
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Here you are getting emotional about Iraq again, McQ. I’ve told you and told you and told you: no good can ever come out of Iraq.

It’s good that you actually admit that your Democrat betters have some points, but you might as well just go all the way and admit that we wise anti-war folks had it right all along. Otherwise, I’m going to come here to QandO and post and post and post, I don’t care how many times I have to repeat myself. Iraq isn’t worth it, will never be worth it, and wouldn’t be worth it even if we had only spent our annual budget for potato chips on it. No one can provide any evidence to the contrary. That is, no one can provide credible evidence, where "credible" is defined as "something the entire left wing in America says is reasonable."

Instead, you’re just spinning and spinning and spinning. I live in a world where only facts and logic count, and I never spin anything. Because the fundamentals of post modernism assert that facts that back up a left wing point of view are always valid, so they don’t need to be spun, and logic is whatever rhetoric is needed to bolster the left wing point of view.

Why can’t you accept these post-modern principles, McQ? Join us, and I’m sure Salon will give you a blogging job next week. I can see the headline now: "Former right-wing, militaristic blogger now says Iraq is a complete failure, currently blogging at Salon." Then you could turn your responsibilities at QandO over to me, so I could explain to your deluded readers at length how wrong they are. They would either convert or give up in disgust and stop doing anything political, which means I would win either way!

But for your own sake, stop this "Iraq is making progress" meme. It isn’t. We in the political science world long ago decided that it was too late for Iraq, and that we would do whatever’s necessary to assure failure the only course was to pull out immediately. You don’t get a vote. Neither do the Iraqis. You should give up the debate, and they just give up trying to create a stable, open society and subject themselves to being ruled by the Iranians.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
Why? Seriously, why is Iraq worth continued effort. Give me a cost-benefit analysis.

Clearly leaving has to be orderly, but it seems to me the most efficient way is to open talks with Iran and other regional powers, start an orderly withdrawal, and tell the Iraqis that it’s been five years since Saddam fell, this is their country and they are responsible. We can say we tried to do what we thought best, but after five years we can’t really play a productive role if the Iraqi people don’t want to reconcile and form a stable system. Then leave. What would we lose? What exactly is the point?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Why? Seriously, why is Iraq worth continued effort. Give me a cost-benefit analysis. And I mean with benefits I will accept as valid. Which, of course, means you won’t find any. This long-term, stability stuff and how that might eventually win some "long war" is such obvious hoo-hah. Islamists just are not that big a threat. So what if they blow up a few thousand more people and cause a few trillion more damage. We can afford it, and it’s well worth it if it teaches us how awful and bad and icky military intervention can be.

Clearly leaving has to be orderly, but it seems to me the most efficient way is to open talks with Iran and other regional powers, start an orderly withdrawal, and tell the Iraqis that it’s been five years since Saddam fell, this is their country and they are responsible. That way, Iran would breeze in, dominate most of the Iraq in a few months, and a Sunni-Shiite civil war would break out and kill tens or hundreds of thousands, and we anti-war folks could have a big party in which we mutually congratulate each other on our superior reasoning and perceptions. Surely you would not deny us that pleasure?

We can say we tried to do what we thought best, but after five years we can’t really play a productive role if the Iraqi people don’t want to reconcile and form a stable system. The fact that it took the Kurds ten years to get their society organized is beside the point. Ten years just isn’t worth it - we need to throw away our investment right now. Now, do you hear! We need to leave, just in case there’s a ghost of a chance the whole thing might work, because the consequences of that for America’s left would be disastrous.

What would we lose? Sure, no country in the world would ever take us seriously again, and regimes like Iran would get away with murder because we have been shown to fold like an accordian when the going gets tough, but that’s exactly the point! We anti-war leftists have been working our whole lives for that!
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
Boris:
Why? Seriously, why is Iraq worth continued effort. Give me a cost-benefit analysis.
Or, as the North Korean psychological warfare officer said to the American troops over the loudspeaker system in Pork Chop Hill:

"Why you silly American boys fight here just to die. Don’t you know you cannot defeat great [Shi’ite militias and car bombers]. This is so obvious to everyone. Even small children understand futility of dying for oil imperialists and failed foreign policy fiasco of [Bush] and his gangsters. What you boys doing here where you don’t belong. Silly soldiers of America."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
The points you bring up are legitimate, McQ.

Logistics is always the most difficult of the military sciences to master. You can only learn by doing and the lessons learned form Basra, if properly applied, will pay dividends in future operations.

As you pointed out, one very much overlooked success of the operation was the success of the Iraqis in closing down the border with Iran and preventing any reinforcement and aid from that quarter. Continued success in this area will effectively strangle the Sadrists in place in future operations.

I would also like to point out that units that have defections/desertions are not, in the long run, that much of a negative. As I have pointed out previously, the time to determine the willingness of the Iraqi troops to face hostile fire is now while you have the US there as a backstop. More and more untested units will face their own trial by combat as these units have. And within a fairly short period of time, more and more units will be able to stand on their own. The sooner these tested units can do this, the sooner our own units can be relieved and rotate back home.

Basra may have been a singular defeat but in the long run, with lessons learned in hand, it could turn into an overall victory for the Malicki govenment.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Whether you are a supporter of the war or not, whether you were for it from the beginning or not, the fact is we’re there, we have a situation to remedy and the faster we remedy it, the faster we can get out of there. You’d think that would be something everyone could get behind.
Wow, I agree completely.

Does this forbode the apocalypse?
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Seriously, why is Medicare worth the continued effort. Give me a cost-benefit analysis.
What cost is freedom worth?

Seriously, from here on out, don’t feed the trolls.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
What cost is freedom worth?
If your philosophy doesn’t value freedom, not very much.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Wow, I agree completely.

Does this forbode the apocalypse?
I don’t know but I think I just saw a pig fly by my office.

(Note: And my office ain’t got no windows!)

Oops, Sorry - my bad. It was just the new intern we hired.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Does this forbode the apocalypse?
Yup, there’s the fourth horseman now - "consensus".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Yup, there’s the fourth horseman now - "consensus".


next there will be global warming. isn’t that what happens after consensus?
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Yup, there’s the fourth horseman now - "consensus".
next there will be global warming. isn’t that what happens after consensus?

No then there will re-apportionment, every ten years we take a consensus and we redistrict...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Why? Seriously, why is Iraq worth continued effort. Give me a cost-benefit analysis.

Erb Version
Cost of defeat:
some young idiots who ought to have known better get killed, but they weren’t going to take any of my classes any way. Certainly not get a PhD in Poli Sci.

Benefits:
As Scerb points out I’ll be "proven" right so you all can just S*CK on it and my friends and I will be able to high five each other in the faculty lounges and pontificate over white wine and brie cheese at all the best social gatherings

Cost of victory:
My head explodes or I give myself a serious neck/back injury as I twist and turn and spin to make the "victory" a defeat or that I make multiple lengthy postings, with quotes showing all the weasel words I used in previous postings to demonstrate that I kept an "open mind" and did not call for, expect, or hope for US failure in Iraq.
The Leftist cause is set back by 20 years and we end up much like the Conservatives in the 1950’s and 1970’s having to explain our failures Some of us driven, quite likely, to adopt outré conspiracy theories to demonstrate that malign and Dark Forces conspired to establish conditions for our defeat.

Benefits of victory:
Pfui...a few million Iraqi’s enter an unknown era of prosperity, dialogue and freedom...demonstrating to a few million other woggish types that, yes, Arabs, and quite possibly Persians, too, could establish stable, peaceful, prosperous, multi-ethnic democracies, thereby demonstrating the failure of various Marxist/Fascist-inspired ideologies and nostrums....in short, in the words of the Black Lectroid, "So what? Beeeg Deel."

Bottom-line: Defeat in Iraq, good for me, you have to S*CK it, victory bad for me, good for a few million rag-heads...so isn’t it obvious which course is better. yes, I thought so, all brought about unemotionally, without personal attacks or hysteria...Defeat is good.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I don’t find it particularly surprising that the career State Dept. personnel have been tepid in their support of this endeavor from the beginning, but find that attitude unsupportable and unacceptable given the sacrifices the military has made there.
I seem to recall an almost outright rebellion over at State recently over foreign postings.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Why? Seriously, why is Iraq worth continued effort. Give me a cost-benefit analysis.

Clearly leaving has to be orderly, but it seems to me the most efficient way is to open talks with Iran and other regional powers, start an orderly withdrawal, and tell the Iraqis that it’s been five years since Saddam fell, this is their country and they are responsible. We can say we tried to do what we thought best, but after five years we can’t really play a productive role if the Iraqi people don’t want to reconcile and form a stable system. Then leave. What would we lose? What exactly is the point?
This is the kinda analysis I expect if Kimberly, the freshman coed, logged on to her profs computer after he passed out after sex and booze.

Kimberly, it isn’t polite to impersonate a professor.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
In 1950, Korea was not an important economic or political power. Looking back, I am sure there were Scott Erb’s telling us that such a backwater should not be defended. It had no history of democracy, no cultural to economic ties to the West. Who cares if it becomes a communist dictatorship? In fact, the Korean people are used to dictatorship - that’s all they’ve ever had under their own kings or under the Japanese occupation (almost said Ottoman, sorry.)

Anyone think that would have been a smart move now?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Who cares if it becomes a communist dictatorship? In fact, the Korean people are used to dictatorship - that’s all they’ve ever had under their own kings or under the Japanese occupation (almost said Ottoman, sorry.)

Korea had a strong tradition of democracy, that’s what differentiates Korea from Iraq...the other that differentiates Korea from iraq is that it is obvious the US won that war of social engineering and so Dr Erb willnot touch it, with a 3.3 metre pole. In fact, the US victory is what so differentiates it from Iraq, where victory is still defeatable and therefore worth debating, whereas Korea is a lost cause.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe,

Please enlighten me on when Korea had a strong tradition of democracy.

My understanding was that they were a kingdom until Japan colonized them.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Joe,

Please enlighten me on when Korea had a strong tradition of democracy.

My understanding was that they were a kingdom until Japan colonized them.

One they did...almost all of them opposed the Japanese Occupation, and that my friend is DEMOCRACY...to deny it is to be unreasonable and to question my logic is to be hysterical. Simply put Korea HAD democracy before we got there, we did not in any way support it’s establishment...

But Harun, you failed to see the fundamental difference, the US, now, can be seen to have won that social-engineering "War of Choice" and so it makes a bad battle ground for me. As Iraq is more in doubt, i.e, defeat can still be snatched from the jaws of victory, then Iraq is FUNDAMENTALLY different from Korea, and please don’t dispute this.....

I would be open to a discussion on any evidence that you might have that supports the assertion that Iraq and Korea are in any way equivalent, but I will simply ignore it or dodge around it.

Bottom-Line: because Korea MUST be different from Iraq, or otherwise my position becomes untenable, Iraq IS different from Korea, to include it’s long-standing democratic tradition, fostered in part, by the collective resistance to the US and Japanese Occupation(s).

I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions that you may have harboured.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions that you may have harboured.
Ott Scerb - Is that really you?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Ott Scerb - Is that really you?

No, but Ott seems to be involved in erdicating the Emotionless Robot Bloviator from UoMn’s IT systems, so I thought to step in. As a very poor, pale imitation, as Garth and Wayne proclaim, "We’re not worthy."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Wow, still no one can justify the costs of the war. You’re getting shrill with attempts to insult and ridicule, but that exposures your lack of real argument. I’ll take that as an admission you know you can’t defend the Iraq war as being worth it. Otherwise, you’d be able to!

SShiell, you like to talk about how you’re a veteran. I had a public talk today and had the pleasure of talking to some members of Veterans for Peace, who also talked about recent testimony by veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan in Washington who told some horrific stories involving children and war (which was the subject of my talk — I go into that a bit in my blog today). It’s clear that a lot of people in the military oppose this fiasco, and aren’t afraid of dealing with the human cost. But since you guys don’t even try to defend it, I guess I’ll continue to focus my energy on public talks and efforts to convince as many people as I can to tell Washington: NO to continuing this fiasco, this social engineering experiment. The children and war talk is effective, it gets to the human misery that war causes, and cuts through the silly abstract rhetoric of "success, victory, prestige" and all the way people try to avoid confronting the fact that perhaps we have done more evil than good.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
In 1950, Korea was not an important economic or political power. Looking back, I am sure there were Scott Erb’s telling us that such a backwater should not be defended.
On the contrary, I wouldn’t f***ed it up like Truman did. The US had a UN resolution to enforce international law, and did so. If we had stopped after kicking the North Koreans out, the war would have been over in a few months. Instead we had the horrendous decision to try to "roll back" communism, ended up in a much longer war with an immense cost to civilians in Korea...and ended up right where we would have been had we ended the war earlier. Irving Janis used this conflict to study how groupthink causes fiascos.

I notice that people aren’t even trying to defend the policy in Iraq on Iraqi terms, they’re saying, "well...we had troops here and there for a long time..." That’s not a rational argument, it in fact shows the bankruptcy of the argument that we should stay in Iraq — they can’t even defend it talking about Iraq!

Freedom is a value worth defending. But we can’t go trying to force other countries to operate under what we consider freedom — when you kill people and cause misery, you undermine your effort. That’s why we weren’t greeted as liberators, that’s why anti-Americanism is so high, and that seems to be a very obvious point a lot of you want to remain in denial about. Luckily, I don’t think those ideas here represent most Americans’ views.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Wow, still no one can justify the costs of the war. You’re getting shrill with attempts to insult and ridicule, but that exposures your lack of real argument.
Because no matter how many facts you have thrown up or will throw up, my mind is made up....What is it to me, if a few million folks come out of bondage? What is it to me if a revanchist/irredentist regime that killed several million folks and endangered 50-60% of the world’s crude reserves is displaced? Nothing! Does it increase my chances at tenure? Does it increase my peer review? Does it net me more students-scratch that, who cares, students are a pesky annoyance! Does it get me more grant money? Does the so-called success and liberation of millions provide me more opportunity to publish in academic journals, NO! In fact, were the US to succeed in Iraq it would make my life less tenable...the students would begin to question me, my fellow academics might begin to doubt my judgment, heck I might even begin to doubt me...

Dr Erb we only laugh at you, because you continually advance these inane "arguments"...
"All swans are white"
"No, here is a black one"

-six threads later-
"All swans are white"
"No here’s a black one"

-twenty threads later-
"All swans are white"
"No, here’s a black one"

Dude, you simply don’t accept evidence...mayhap Justin Case wasn’t just kidding...mayhap you ARE an advanced Turing Experiment gone awry.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
But we can’t go trying to force other countries to operate under what we consider freedom — when you kill people and cause misery, you undermine your effort.
I mean look at Germany, Japan, Italy, and teh Confederate States of America...no, I mwan wait..no, no I mean, ....I’ll try back later.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
On the contrary, I wouldn’t f***ed it up like Truman did.
I would have stopped on the 38th Parallel giving the North Koreans time and opportunity to re-equip with Russian equipment and possibly Chinese volunteers and then they could have prosecuted the war some more. I would have ceded the imitative to the aggressor, allowing them a refuge in North Korea and letting them dictate the time, manner and place of the war...oh that’s just as good as Truman F*cking it up...

And people wonder why Wilson was the only Political Science Professor ever elected POTUS?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
What evidence don’t I accept. Be specific. You don’t have evidence supporting your position, otherwise you could post it. All the time and effort trying to dance around and accuse could be replaced by a few sentences and links making a clear case. If I rejected that, it would be obvious to everyone. You apparently can’t do that.

North Korea was defeated, Joe. If we had ended the war then, we’d have easily held that border and avoided one of the most humiliating retreats in American history. You don’t honestly think that Russia (who was lukewarm about the war anyway) could have somehow given the North Koreans magic bullets to be able to take on the UN force if it dug in at the border? Come on, don’t be ridiculous.

And, of course, the result you criticize is exactly the result we got three years later, at a much higher price. Think through these things, Joe!

Seriously, stop trying to play spin games and actually talk about the issues and consider evidence.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Wow, still no one can justify the costs of the war. I mean, I ask and ask and ask, and all you do is mock me, as if my opinion doesn’t matter or as if I’m just impossible to deal with or something. You’re getting shrill with attempts to insult and ridicule, but that exposures your lack of real argument. Yes, that’s right. My refusal to take any evidence you put forth does not expose my lack of real argument, because all I have to do is assert something, and if you disagree, then it’s your responsibility to prove to my satisfaction that I’m wrong. But no one has ever done that here. I’ll take that as an admission you know you can’t defend the Iraq war as being worth it. Otherwise, you’d be able to! You’d be able to convince me! But you can’t! Ha! Ha! Ha! And you never will! Because with my godlike powers of political science, it’s all a game anyway, in which I knew from the beginning that I and my anti-war buddies had it all figured out and your dense righties were complete idiots. And you’ve proved it because you can’t justify the costs of the war under my eminently reasonable conditions of me being the ultimate judge of your argument. And no, that’s not a conflict of interest or unfair debating or any of that. Stop laughing, it’s really not!

SShiell, you like to talk about how you’re a veteran. I had a public talk today and had the pleasure of talking to some members of Veterans for Peace, who since they are a leftwing group should be given far more weight that any of you dense righties. They talked about recent testimony by veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan in Washington who told some horrific stories involving children and war, which just proves how icky war is because children suffer from it. Yes, war is not healthy for children and other living things, which was the subject of my talk — I go into that a bit in my blog today. So go over there and read it, and weep for all the innocent children affected by this war. And don’t start up with the children starving under Saddam, I won’t have it, I tell you! It’s just not fair to argue that way, because it offends the delicate sensibilities of those on the left that know intuitively that they care more about children than you do, you right-leaning, militaristic meanies.

It’s clear that a lot of people in the military oppose this fiasco, and aren’t afraid of dealing with the human cost. Of course, the vast majority of the military supports the effort, but the few that don’t are the real heroes, because they understand how icky war is and how enlightened the American left is. But since you guys don’t even try to defend it, I guess I’ll continue to focus my energy on public talks and efforts to convince as many people as I can to tell Washington: NO to continuing this fiasco, this social engineering experiment. But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to post and post and post here, even though it’s become obvious that none of you will listen to me. And it’s not because I get pleasure from posting condescending comments and gleefully dismissing counter argument with my godlike powers of political science. No, it’s because I care. And you don’t. Just admit it, you righties. You don’t care! You’re so mean!

The children and war talk is effective, it gets to the human misery that war causes, and cuts through the silly abstract rhetoric of "success, victory, prestige" and all the way people try to avoid confronting the fact that perhaps we have done more evil than good. Yes, even if we make a Iraq a paradise for children in the future, these children are suffering right now. And you heartless, mean righties ought to be ashamed, and if you had any intellectual honesty, you would bow down before your betters on the left and admit your sins of meanness against the Iraqi children, so that this war could end right away, and the children of Iraq could all have cuddly puppies. The ones that are left after the resulting civil wars kill a hundred thousand or so, I mean.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
What evidence don’t I accept. Be specific. And be prepared to accept any rationalizations I throw out for why your evidence doesn’t count. That’s my right, because I’m a good post-modernist and we are the only enlightened souls on the planet, so you just have to accept my judgement on this. You just have to, do you hear me!?! You don’t have evidence supporting your position, otherwise you could post it. Yes, and all that stuff people have posted in the past that I’ve ignored or dismissed with a wave of my hand doesn’t count, because it was all contaminated by being from Yon or Totten or Roggio or somebody like that who is obviously biased because they are right in the middle of the military effort, so they can’t see the forest for the trees. Only we wise leftists can do that, do you hear me!?! All the time and effort trying to dance around and accuse could be replaced by a few sentences and links making a clear case. If I rejected that, it would be obvious to everyone. The fact that everyone here already says it’s obvious to them doesn’t count! Because I decree it!

North Korea was defeated, Joe. That’s just the end of the argument, because my godlike powers of political science say so. If we had ended the war then, we’d have easily held that border and avoided one of the most humiliating retreats in American history. Yes, I know we could have, and any argument you have to the contrary that there would have been an offensive after regrouping just doesn’t count! They would never have done that, you hear me!?! Because they’re leftists just like us, and they would never have done anything that mean! You don’t honestly think that Russia (who was lukewarm about the war anyway) could have somehow given the North Koreans magic bullets to be able to take on the UN force if it dug in at the border? Come on, don’t be ridiculous. And don’t start with that World War I trench warfare stuff, either. You hear me! Just don’t start with that!

And, of course, the result you criticize is exactly the result we got three years later, at a much higher price. Think through these things, Joe! And accept that my godlike powers of political science allow me to understand everything about war and politics much better than you dense righties! Just accept it!

Seriously, stop trying to play spin games and actually talk about the issues and consider evidence. Stop laughing. No, I’m not the one spinning and ignoring evidence. No, sir! No me! Only you dense righties to that. Because you’re mean.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
But since you guys don’t even try to defend it, I guess I’ll continue to focus my energy on public talks and efforts to convince as many people as I can to tell Washington: NO to continuing this fiasco, this social engineering experiment.
Excellent, Scott. You go do that.

That does mean that you’ll stop coming around here pretending you want to hear evidence that you might change your opinion, doesn’t it? Because obviously if you are going out on public talks, it means your mind is made up.

Of course, we all knew that long ago. It’s just time for you to accept it and stop pretending otherwise.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Joe to Boris:
Dude, you simply don’t accept evidence...mayhap Justin Case wasn’t just kidding...mayhap you ARE an advanced Turing Experiment gone awry.
Boris is insulted by evidence. Nothing upsets him more. But the evidence that upsets him most is the evidence that demonstrates that he almost never knows what he is talking about. Boris isn’t even right as often as a stopped watch.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Hollis to Boris:
That does mean that you’ll stop coming around here
Now, now, Billy. You don’t want to scare the entertainment away. Do you know how much it can cost to hire a clown like that for a kid’s birthday?

Your blog commenters get to come squeeze that grapefruit-sized nose for free.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/

That does mean that you’ll stop coming around here pretending you want to hear evidence that you might change your opinion, doesn’t it? Because obviously if you are going out on public talks, it means your mind is made up.
Billy, you made an obviously fallacious argument, I wonder if you will own up to it. You argue that if someone gives public talks, then their mind is made up for good and they won’t listen to evidence. By that logic, all people who give public talks on anything are judged to be unwilling to look at evidence.

No, it’s pretty obvious. I’m patiently and politely asking if anyone can justify the continued cost of being in Iraq (let alone the cost we’ve already paid — as have the Iraqis). What is worth this? If you make a good argument, even if you don’t convince me I at least will have more information on how the policy can be defended, which I’ll also present. I’m amazed that no one seems able to defend this policy...I think that’s telling. Instead, some of you rachet up the silly insults, which actually says more about you all than me. Anyway, I’m patiently waiting if anyone can defend this, and how. (Obama seems to have the most interesting plan at this point — both McCain and Hillary seem stuck on talking points).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m wondering about that last "Erb" post.

Scerb, are you now using Erb’s name and challenging the rest of us to figure out who the real Erb is?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
O.K., O.K., so here’s the test.

Only the real Erb can answer this question:

In what country can you get fresh vegetables "right out of the ground?"

Don’t anyone peek at the answer key, where the answer is spelled backwards.

ANSWER KEY:

aissuR
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Billy, you made an obviously fallacious argument, I wonder if you will own up to it. You argue that if someone gives public talks, then their mind is made up for good and they won’t listen to evidence. By that logic, all people who give public talks on anything are judged to be unwilling to look at evidence.

So your larger point that people who do public talks are pretty convinced of their position and would be hard to talk out of it is just not relevant. And I am too willing to listen to evidence! Am too! Am too!

No, it’s pretty obvious. I’m patiently and politely asking if anyone can justify the continued cost of being in Iraq (let alone the cost we’ve already paid — as have the Iraqis). What is worth this? And I have patiently and politely shot down every single argument and piece of evidence that anyone has put forth. The real contest is to see if anyone can get past my godlike powers of political science, and I’m completely confident that no one can. That’s why I’m willing to come here and post the same questions over and over and over and over, begging someone to engage me. Because it’s a win-win for me if anyone takes the bait. I get to use ex cathedra pronouncements to dismiss any evidence, and when someone complains that I’m doing that, I just use another ex cathedra pronouncement to say that I’m *not* doing it, and that their evidence is really no good, and that they are intellectually dishonest for not accepting my ex cathedra pronouncements. Don’t you see how it works, Billy? Pretty slick system, eh? All I have to do is pretend to listen to arguments, and put up strawmen such as the one I started this post with, and I can have a never endless supply of people to use my godlike powers of political science on, and I am not either addicted to doing it, or obsessed or anything like that. Stop laughing!

If you make a good argument, even if you don’t convince me I at least will have more information on how the policy can be defended, which I’ll also present. Assuming I accept the argument, which of course I never have to this point and there’s no prospect I ever will, but I get the advantage of pretending that I might someday accept someone’s argument while knowing that with my godlike powers of political science, I really never will.

I’m amazed that no one seems able to defend this policy. No, none of the commenters that have posted dozens of comments supposedly defending it count. I decree it! None of them put forth any arguments that I, with my complete objectivity and godlike powers of political science, was willing to accept. I think that’s telling. Instead, some of you rachet up the silly insults, which actually says more about you all than me. And the fact that dozens of you do it, and I’m the only one who doesn’t get the joke doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me! Stop laughing, I said! Anyway, I’m patiently waiting if anyone can defend this, and how. And I’ll patiently wait until the end of time, posting and posting and posting the same flaccid arguments over and over, because if you guys stopped responding to me and I didn’t get my daily fix of being smug and condescending, I don’t know what I would do.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
And he misses he point again. Why do I even try? Why do any of us even try? It’s like trying to explain calculus to one of those dolls that talks when you pull its string.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Now, now, Billy. You don’t want to scare the entertainment away.
Martin, the problem is that I think Ott Screb will run out of jokes before Scott Erb runs out of drivel.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
It’s like trying to explain calculus to one of those dolls that talks when you pull its string.
Math class is hard (/end Barbie voice)
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Hollis:
Martin, the problem is that I think Ott Screb will run out of jokes before Scott Erb runs out of drivel.
Well, there’s a point.

It’s not likely that Chatty Erb will go silent anytime soon.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
No Russian magic bullets in Korea, what would those been Dr Erb, 7.62 Sov Bloc, 9mm Parabellum, 82mm mortar rounds, 120 mortar rounds, 14.5mm PTRD rounds..oh YEAH they DID supply those, in abundance, and they hurt the UN forces, a LOT...You being a PhD in Poli Sci (IR) you might have missed that. Me, being an MA in Poli Sci (National Security) I didn’t...Oh yes, those magic bullets really existed. And of course a Stalinist Police State with strong powers of coercion and political motivation was going to have no trouble in producing an army with which to use those magic bullets.

As to who will run out first Erb or Scerb, I’m betting it’s a stand-off, the beauty of Scerb is that he just parodies Erb...and as long as Erb talks, he’s parody-able...Heck sometimes Erb himself is a lampoon of the Progressive Professor.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"Scerb, are you now using Erb’s name and challenging the rest of us to figure out who the real Erb is? "

Yeah, eerie, isn’t it? I am starting to remember a Twilight Zone episode where the ventriloquist is really the dummy, or something like that.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
No Russian magic bullets in Korea, what would those been Dr Erb, 7.62 Sov Bloc, 9mm Parabellum, 82mm mortar rounds, 120 mortar rounds, 14.5mm PTRD rounds.
They used 7.62x54 and the 7.62x25 pistol round, no 9mm to my knowledge. But I think they also used quite a bit of US hardware, Garands, etc., we sent to Mao during WW2 (during WW2 we supported future enemies much much more than we ever did bin Laden or Saddam even in the most feavered imaginations of the left).

I’m not sure if the Soviets had 14.5 mm back then, but they sure had 12.7 mm.

The T-34/85 tanks, with the 85 mm gun caused quite a rucus, as did the MiG-15 jets.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Incidently, the 7.62x25 mm pistol round was used in SMGs like the PPS-43 and PPsh-41. I always wanted a PPsh-41; looks like fun. I’ve seen photos and video of our troops using several PPsh-41 in Iraq, one fitted with a light and EOtech. 71 rounds @ 900 rpm, baby . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Don, I said no MAGIC bullets. Of course they had Russian munitions, that’s obvious. But there was no reason to expect those to somehow have allowed them to storm south against the UN coalition forces. And if they had, then why wouldn’t that have been just as true after 1953? Truman blundered big time by trying to move north and causing a huge, embarrassing American retreat, ultimately allowing us after three years to get what we could have had with a lot less death and civilian suffering three years earlier. Do you really deny that? Seriously, are you honestly saying you believe that if we had ended the war in 1950 the North would have been able to come down south?

And he misses he point again. Why do I even try? Why do any of us even try? It’s like trying to explain calculus to one of those dolls that talks when you pull its string.
You don’t communicate well, Billy. I responded exactly to your post, which makes it sound that if someone speaks publicly they won’t take into account new evidence. That’s an absurd point and if you don’t have the integrity to admit it — and in fact worse, to try to insult me to deflect from your error — than I really feel sorry for you. An honorable person isn’t afraid to admit error, even if they don’t like the person who notes the error.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris:
You don’t communicate well, Billy.
Well, Boris, he doesn’t have Ott Scerb ready to make his meaning clear.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Boris:
Truman blundered big time by trying to move north and causing a huge, embarrassing American retreat,
Boris is referring to the Korean War, about which he knows nothing, of course.

The point here, Boris, is not that Truman "blundered," it’s that the enemy (the Chinese, in this case) kept its intentions and its positions hidden. There was what we think of now as a fairly standard U.S. intelligence failure. Truman saw what he thought was an opportunity to save North Koreans from people like you. But the Chinese counter-attacked from carefully disguised positions against American forces whose leaders were not expecting it.

Truman’s response? To not escalate the war further by, for instance, using nuclear weapons, which he had not been reluctant to use to end the war with Japan. Why not use them here? He feared another and catastrophic world war.

This was to be the pattern of so-called "proxy wars" throughout the Cold War, which the U.S. won, by the way, in significant part because of the contrast between partitioned countries, i.e., the success of South Korea vs the squalor of the North. The success of West Germany vs the repulsive police state in the East. The rapid ascent of American prosperity vs the disability of your average hack Marxist college professor who shills KGB propaganda deep into his 40s and closing on two decades past the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
You don’t communicate well, Billy.
I’m a professional speaker in constant demand on the conference circuit, and have books that sold as many as 30,000 copies. I’m being asked right now to write a new series of magazine articles.

So I don’t need you to tell me whether I communicate well. The people with checkbooks already do that.

Yet more denial on your part. It’s always someone else’s problem with you, isn’t it? Goodness forbid that any confusion be due to the brilliant Scott Erb. Thank goodness everyone here has figured you out already, so we don’t have to even pretend to take you seriously.

 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Hollis:
So I don’t need you to tell me whether I communicate well. The people with checkbooks already do that.
Well, Billy, you’ll never be forgiven for that.

Expect the cat to come purring, for a moment, and try to sit in your lap.

When you shew it away, I’d be surprised if this thread didn’t go on for the next five days. You’ll need to learn how the market for your services means very little, and about what was sacrificed in order to be able to teach others...the important things. And, of course, how gatherings of the simple-minded greet very free talks enthusiastically.

Your eyes need to be scratched out.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Arrogance
Main Entry: ar·ro·gance
Pronunciation: \ˈer-ə-gən(t)s, ˈa-rə-\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions - See Erb.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Don, I said no MAGIC bullets. Of course they had Russian munitions, that’s obvious. But my point was that only magic bullets would have actually enabled the North Koreans to hurt anybody, because all those bullets you are talking about were clearly inadequate. There was no reason to expect those to somehow have allowed them to storm south against the UN coalition forces. That’s just the way it is. I decree it. And since it’s a hypothetical about the past, you’ll just have to accept it, because my godlike powers of political science give me abilities to determine what would have happened in the past under different circumstances, and you don’t possess my powers.

And if they had, then why wouldn’t that have been just as true after 1953? I mean, sure, Eisenhower threatened to use nukes if they didn’t find a way to end the war, but that’s just beside the point. Truman blundered big time by trying to move north and causing a huge, embarrassing American retreat, ultimately allowing us after three years to get what we could have had with a lot less death and civilian suffering three years earlier. Do you really deny that? Do you really deny my godlike powers to determine what what have happened? Seriously, are you honestly saying you believe that if we had ended the war in 1950 the North would have been able to come down south? Even with all those Chinese that supplemented their forces after that point? Well, you’re just a dense rightie to even think that.
And he misses he point again. Why do I even try? Why do any of us even try? It’s like trying to explain calculus to one of those dolls that talks when you pull its string.
You don’t communicate well, Billy. Yes, I know you are a front page blogger here at a site that gets a hundred times my traffic, but because my godlike powers of political science include communications capabilities, I am uniquely qualified to tell you that when it comes to communications, you suck. I responded exactly to your post. I posted a perfectly good strawman and ignored your main point about people who speak in public generally feeling strongly about their subject, and being bad candidates to change their minds. My godlike powers of political science allow me to turn that into some pedantic absolute - that if someone speaks publicly they won’t take into account new evidence. That’s an absurd point, and even though you may claim it wasn’t the point you were making, it’s the best lever I’ve got, since you caught me pretty good by noting that if I’m out trying to convince people in public to end the war then my mind is pretty made up and my requests here for contrary evidence is just posing. But I insist that my interpretation is correct, and if you don’t have the integrity to admit it — and in fact worse, to try to insult me to deflect from your error — than I really feel sorry for you. Yes, I feel sorry for someone who doesn’t possess my godlike powers of political science. An honorable person isn’t afraid to admit error, even if they don’t like the person who notes the error. I realize that by your terms, that means I’m not honorable, because that’s exactly what I do, but I pronounce ex cathedra that you are wrong, so you just have to accept that you are an dishonorable miscommunicator. Admit it!
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
So I don’t need you to tell me whether I communicate well. The people with checkbooks already do that.
Methinks thou doth protest too much. Let’s look at the details, see if you have the honesty to actually deal with this.

You wrote:

That does mean that you’ll stop coming around here pretending you want to hear evidence that you might change your opinion, doesn’t it? Because obviously if you are going out on public talks, it means your mind is made up.
You last line says "if you are going out on public talks, it means your mind is made up" and that came after you said I was "pretending to want to hear the evidence." By any logical measure, you’re saying that going out on public talks proves I don’t want to hear the evidence and won’t take it seriously. From that it follows clearly that people who go public aren’t willing to hear or consider new evidence (perhaps that’s you?)

That is clear from what you wrote. Do you have the integrity to actually deal with that, or you are going to dodge and weave?

The point stands: nobody seems able to justify the cost of staying in Iraq. If you give evidence and I ignore it or dismiss it, you’ll have a case that I am unwilling to consider evidence. But when you give the lame-o "you won’t listen to evidence so we won’t even try" excuse, you’re proving my point.

So I’m looking you in the eyes and saying "do you have anything, or are you just greasy?"
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Link.

Good grief ... root it out yourself you idiot. It’s only been talked about here for 5 years.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
So I don’t need you to tell me whether I communicate well. The people with checkbooks already do that.
Methinks thou doth protest too much. Methinks I use the word "methinks" a lot, but since you nailed me pretty good on that one, I had to pull it out again. It sounds really sophisticated, don’t you think. Anyway, let’s look at the painfully pedantic details, see if you have the honesty to actually deal with this. Well, honesty according to my definition, and since I lie through my teeth constantly on this forum, I guess that doesn’t count for much. But since you responded, I get to post and post and post, and I’ll eventually get the last word because I will never let this go no matter how much you claim a different interpretation. I mean, if someone pins me to the wall, I simply say "I disagree" and move on, but oh boy, I’ll never do that with anyone else. And I don’t either have a problem with my compulsion to post on this board in the face of universal ridicule! Stop saying that! And stop laughing!

You wrote:
That does mean that you’ll stop coming around here pretending you want to hear evidence that you might change your opinion, doesn’t it? Because obviously if you are going out on public talks, it means your mind is made up.
You last line says "if you are going out on public talks, it means your mind is made up" and that came after you said I was "pretending to want to hear the evidence." By any logical measure that I’m willing to accept, you’re saying that going out on public talks proves I don’t want to hear the evidence and won’t take it seriously. And I refuse to hear any other interpretation, do you hear! I refuse! You just can’t look at it any other way, because I need this pedantic point to argue with you! Stop laughing, I said. From that it follows clearly that people who go public aren’t willing to hear or consider new evidence (perhaps that’s you? Don’t you love how I claim to be above it all, but I just love the little digs I get in?). But heck, I speak in public all the time about stuff that I’m totally unsure about, though why I stand in front of people and confidently tell them things I doubt is a question that I never have to answer, because it’s a complicated post-modern thing.

That is clear from what you wrote. Do you have the integrity to actually deal with that, or you are going to dodge and weave? You aren’t just going to ignore me, are you? Please don’t! I need you to come back and argue with me! Don’t you want to have an argument? I’ll buy the full series of ten, if you’ll just come back and argue!

The point stands: nobody seems able to justify the cost of staying in Iraq. Nobody at all, anywhere in the world. If you give evidence and I ignore it or dismiss it, you’ll have a case that I am unwilling to consider evidence. Well, actually, I have done that many times. But I have a pretty convenient memory for such things, so I can pretend right now that no one has ever done it. So when you give the lame-o "you won’t listen to evidence so we won’t even try" excuse, you’re proving my point. That’s right. When I’m dishonest and you don’t accept it, you’re proving my point. It’s a post-modern miracle of logic!

So I’m looking you in the eyes and saying "do you have anything, or are you just greasy?" I’m not even sure what that means, but it sounds insulting, and I can’t come right out and call you a nasty name or something, because that might eventually get me banned even under the liberal policies of this blog, and goodness knows I’ve searched so long for a place that will let me satisfy my compulsion for pointless argument that I don’t want to repeat that.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
Good grief ... root it out yourself you idiot. It’s only been talked about here for 5 years.
But, McQ, none of that counts. I decree it! My godlike powers of political science allow me to dismiss any evidence I don’t like. Heck, I can even claim that the evidence was never presented, as I just did a couple of comments ago! As I told Hollis, it’s a miracle of post-modern logic, and you just have to accept it. You all do! You must! I’m not a dishonest hack who never accepts anyone else’s argument! I’m not, I’m not, I’m not! I’m a brilliant political scientist who just wants to educate everyone here using my godlike powers of political science! I don’t have a compulsion to post drivel to satisfy my own need to prove self-worth! I don’t, I don’t, I don’t! Stop laughing!!!!
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
Boris:
Do you have the integrity
What possible good would it do him vis a vis you, Boris

For more than a decade I’ve watched people from every conceivable point of view catch you lying, dissembling, bragging about yourself, missing social cues, associating with elemental imbeciles who flattered you, and not knowing a thing about what you were talking about.

What good does someone having integrity have when interacting with you, other than allowing them to feel a certain sense of gratitude for not being like you??
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Boris:
The point stands: nobody seems able to justify the cost of staying in Iraq.
That’s nonsense, Boris.

Briefly, for less than one percent of GDP, in a very minor but immensely important war, we are endeavoring, and succeeding, in bringing stability to the most unstable country in the most unstable region in the world, which happens to have outsized strategic importance.

The trend line isn’t five years. It’s fifty years. A hundred years.

It’s an attempt to pre-empt catastrophe by introducing modernity into a lagging pre-modern region so troubled and so poor that it threatens to suck modernity itself down into it.

Now, you gutless, mindless little twerp, does your pussy hurt bad enough yet?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/

 
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