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Lying about Iraq
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I think this passage from Phil Carter, quoting an interview with President Bush, is important to see...
RADDATZ: All during that period — April, May, June, July [of 2006] — when things were really going downhill, people were talking about there being civil war. [...] You were saying, 'We're winning. We have a plan for victory. We are winning,' up through October.
[...]
BUSH: Well, yes. I think we — and I wanted — that's as much trying to bolster the spirits of the people in the field as well as — look, you can't have the commander in chief say to a bunch of kids who are sacrificing either, "It's not worth it," or, "You're losing." I mean, what does that do for morale? I'm the commander in chief of the military as well, obviously, as, you know, somebody who speaks to the country. And if you look at my remarks, they were balanced. They weren't Pollyannaish. [...]
There you have it folks. The president of the United States admitting that his own certainty about the mission was more important than telling the truth to the American people.

I was in Iraq during this time in 2006. I remember well how the violence spiraled out of control after the Samarra mosque bombing in February 2006. How every single indicator pointed in the direction of doom; how all our advisory efforts seemed to produce little to no security improvement; how we felt like spectators watching a civil war engulf Iraq, with too few troops to make a difference, and no political direction to do so.

All through this period, I remember the president, his senior aides and senior military commanders toeing the party line that things were going swimmingly. The dissonance between the rhetoric from Washington and our experience in Iraq was stark. We knew the ground truth. Being deceived by our senior political leaders certainly didn't change that, nor did it help morale at all. If anything, it hurt morale by undermining confidence in the chain of command. Put bluntly, if you can't trust your generals and political leaders to tell you and your families the truth, how can you trust them at all?

It's disappointing to hear now, two years after the fact, that the president was knowingly bull——ing us the whole time. And that he justified such dishonesty in the name of supporting the troops and protecting their morale. That's an insult to America's men and women in uniform (and their families), who deserve to be told the truth by their political leaders about what's going on. It's also an insult to us, as voters, who deserve the truth so we can make the right decisions in the voting booth.
 
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I think this passage from Phil Carter, quoting an interview with President Bush, is important to see...
Care to explain why you think this?
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I think the quote and the response from a soldier who had been serving in Iraq during that time is more interesting and informative than anything I could add to it. If you think it’s unimportant or factually inaccurate, feel free to explain why.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Yeah, I’m a little lost on this one too.

Much like the Carter quote you’re defending, it is certainly reasonable to believe that when Bush says you don’t say "It’s not worth it," or, "You’re losing" it doesn’t necessarily mean he thought we were losing. Instead he means that’s not what any commander says to troops he’s sending into battle even if things aren’t going as well as he might like. You boost their morale and perhaps you do that by overstating the positive.

If they’re "losing" then it is his job to pull the plug and get them out of there and I don’t believe he every contemplated that because I don’t think he has ever thought we were.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I concur with much of what Mr. Henke writes in the previous comment with one important exception; if you’re "losing" you only "pull out", or give up, if winning isn’t worth the cost. Otherwise you find a way to turn things around to your advantage.

Apparently, our military has been able to do that to an astounding degree.
 
Written By: stevehva
URL: http://
To restate:
I’m not disputing it as unimportant or inaccurate. All I am asking Jon, is why you find this piece noteworthy. The way you posted it is quite cryptic. Where does Jon Henke stand on this issue?
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Well, yes. I think we — and I wanted — that’s as much trying to bolster the spirits of the people in the field as well as — look, you can’t have the commander in chief say to a bunch of kids who are sacrificing either, "It’s not worth it," or, "You’re losing." I mean, what does that do for morale? I’m the commander in chief of the military as well, obviously, as, you know, somebody who speaks to the country. And if you look at my remarks, they were balanced. They weren’t Pollyannaish. [...]
I’m not sure how that translates into Bush was lying?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
He didn’t have to say "we’re losing". He could have said, "We do have serious problems, but we’re working on them". But he didn’t. Therein lies, shall we say, the oddity.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
There you have it folks. The president of the United States admitting that his own certainty about the mission was more important than telling the truth to the American people.
Therein lies the false premise. The President wasn’t speaking to "the American people" but instead to the whole world ... including our soldiers and our enemies. Why on earth would the CiC claim that we were losing? Who does that help? As McQ said, if he really thought that his job is to pull out, not announce we’re losing.

And I’m with bains: why do you think it’s so important, Jon?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Jon, do you find that being a complete idiot interferes at all with your day to day life?

I mean, Christ, man, of course the CinC doesn’t come on TV and say "things suck." First of all, there’s very little better as a way to ensure that things really suck than doing something that hits the morale in the field like that. In fact, it’s been a while, but wouldn’t that, in a junior officer, have some pretty severe UCMJ consequences? Something about "Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline"?

Secondly, and in this case probably more importantly, to a very large extent the fact that Bush was committed to keeping on was, in itself, a major reason to expect eventual success.
 
Written By: Charlie (Colorado)
URL: http://explorations.chasrmartin.com
Yeah, I’m puzzled how Jon insists we’re not to take Carter literally (see other post) and yet in this case Bush is to be taken as literally as possible and thus was lying. Without any additional information to provide clarification, and given Bush’s well-known lack of ad-hoc spoken eloquence, I don’t see how anyone can so easily conclude he lied. There are more plausible options.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
You guys are arguing that he shouldn’t have said "we’re losing", but Carter addressed what he *did* say. The President was saying "we’re winning" when he knew that wasn’t even remotely true. He could have said a lot of things, but he chose to say we were winning. And that we had a "plan" for victory. Which was flatly untrue.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Gee I wonder what you think FDR should have told the American people about the Battle of the Kasserine Pass.

"My fellow Americans. We’ve just had our asses handed to us by the Germans. Our Generals are inept, our troops are not ready to fight. I have decided to pull all our troops out of North Africa and leave it to the Germans and British to fight it out."
 
Written By: Jay
URL: http://
Bush was blowing smoke up our asses. He freely admitted that he was blowing smoke. And blowing smoke can easily be seen as lying.

Mr. Henke finds it important to note that our leaders blow smoke up our asses. I agree. Crazy idea for libertarians, I know.

McQ, MichaelW, and others, are basically saying that the CiC is justified in the blowing of the smoke. I’m not so sure, but nevertheless it is a different subject matter entirely.

Bottom line remains the same… Bush blows smoke up our bottom.

To suggest otherwise is simply foolish.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
The President has three choices: (a) lie and say "we’re winning", (b) candidly but incautiously say "we’re losing", or (c) say something else.

I understand why the people here would suggest that (b) is a bad option, but it’s depressing that this post is being criticized for suggesting that (a) is also bad.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Jon, for God’s sake, the statements "we’re winning" and "we have a plan" are subjective. What exactly is the definition of "winning" in the middle of a war? What is the universally accepted definition of a "plan"? Claiming that these subjective statements are lies requires a contextual baseline. Bush probably did think we were winning and that there was a plan. Perhaps he thought it was looking bad but that we would win eventually and thus his statement. I sure as h*ll don’t know, but it isn’t as black and white as you and the soldier you quote would like to think. Without question, Bush could make far better choices when it comes to his speaking and I’m certainly not a fan of the guy, but this black and white lying line is BS.


 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
The problem I have is that we weren’t really loosing. We just weren’t really winning either.

How does one explain that in a sound bite that wont be endlessly replayed on our own national media as the war is lost, and thus embolden our enemies.

If the goal is to achieve victory, then commanders must stay on a message that will help us achieve victory. Defeatism can be viral and sap our own will to achieve victory.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
The President has three choices: (a) lie and say "we’re winning", (b) candidly but incautiously say "we’re losing", or (c) say something else.

I understand why the people here would suggest that (b) is a bad option, but it’s depressing that this post is being criticized for suggesting that (a) is also bad.
Jon, I understand your point, I really do.

First, I don’t accept the premise that (a) is or was a lie. I’ll get to that below.

But actually being on the receiving end of (b) in a war zone, I can tell you it is devastating to morale.

I know I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about such things, but it comes from experience - the experience of the entire political structure up to and including presidents claiming exactly that. Even worse, you could look around and know that was pretty much nonsense and what was really being lost was political will. The only difference this time is the loss of political will resides on only one side of the political spectrum.

In many cases the job of a commander - at any level - is to do the same thing a coach would do in that position. The game isn’t over but your team is behind. What you don’t do (unless you really believe it, and then you should simply forfeit the game or surrender the AO) is tell your team "man, we’re getting our a$$ kicked, we don’t even belong on the same field as these guys, we’re losing badly".

You say, "we can do this, we’re as good as they are, and we can beat these guys, we can win". And then as a commander/coach, your job is to come up with the strategy/series of plays to make that happen.

Saying that is only lying if you think you are in fact losing, don’t have a chance and don’t belong on the same field as the enemy/other team.

I don’t think George Bush has ever believed that.

The thing is, neither you, I or Carter know that for certain, so throwing around "lie" is, at best, an unsubstantiated opinion.

As I understand it, Bush recognized things weren’t going well and in fact said he wasn’t satisfied with the progress there, changed SecDefs and strategies. That doesn’t at all point to someone who was pretending it was all unicorns and rainbows over there.

But I don’t think he ever thought he was losing. I think he always believed we were winning, but was dissatisfied with the cost in blood and treasure.

I don’t know where Carter was at the time, but I certainly remember all of that. So in essence, (b) has been stated, in various forms and forums, but unlike VN, Bush changed strategies instead of bailing. That points more to the coach who believes his team can win the game than the coach who really believes that his team doesn’t belong on the same field.

Pep talks, morale boosting, all those effect the will to fight and persevere. If your CiC is playing the "oh, woe is me" game, it will definitely have a negative effect at every level within the military. I’ve seen it and it isn’t pretty.

So, I don’t fault Bush at all for the attempt to boost morale during the more dark days in Iraq.

That’s his job as CiC. If that involves what some want to characterize, incorrectly in my estimation, as "lies", then so be it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
And part of this whole "winning/loosing" debate is the very complex nature of the conflict we are in.

Bush, his administration, and the generals have all tried to state how complex it is, but the media and opponents continue to try and simplify it.

Congress made benchmarks that the Iraqis must meet.

So what do we get in the latest round of hearings, now that the Iraqis are meeting those benchmarks, that the benchmarks aren’t a good way for making progress.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
The problem I have is that we weren’t really loosing. We just weren’t really winning either.
And since we HAVE been winning subsequently, it would seem the judgement of Bush was in the end, the correct path, whatever might be argued about his logic in getting to that point.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Here blow this smoke...

From the NY Times March 14,2006

Yet Mr. Bush acknowledged that the conflict that began three years ago next week, when he ordered the start of an invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, had taken on a different complexion with the recent acceleration of sectarian violence. Twice he used the words "civil war" in his speech, but only to describe the objectives of Sunnis, Saddamists and members of Al Qaeda seeking to keep a new government from forming, rather than to characterize the current state of events.

"I wish I could tell you that the violence is waning and that the road ahead will be smooth," Mr. Bush said in a speech before the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an institute created after the Sept. 11 attacks that has been supportive of Mr. Bush’s agenda. "It will not. There will be more tough fighting and more days of struggle, and we will see more images of chaos and carnage in the days and months to come."
Darn, Bush for painting such a rosey picture and lieing to the American public about the reality on the ground.

 
Written By: ODY
URL: http://
There will be more tough fighting and more days of struggle, and we will see more images of chaos and carnage in the days and months to come."
Media/Leftist translation: We won, yay! Mission Accomplished! Free Oil! Saddam killed Nelson Mandela! Plastic turkeys, yum! Rosy lenses make Jesus happy!
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
In 1942 the Allies were getting slaughtered. Should FDR and Churchill have declared on the radio that we are losing and there is no hope. During any conflict, there are times when you are "losing". Does that mean you should stop at that point?
 
Written By: Paul
URL: http://
People here are making the strawman argument that Bush should not say ’we’re losing’. Rather than continuing to struggle mightily with that strawman, let’s all agree that saying "we’re losing" would be a bad idea and move on.
As I understand it, Bush recognized things weren’t going well and in fact said he wasn’t satisfied with the progress there, changed SecDefs and strategies. That doesn’t at all point to someone who was pretending it was all unicorns and rainbows over there.
Except for those times when he said "we’re winning" and when he said we had a "plan for victory" - both of which occurred during 2006 when we were not, in fact, "winning" and when we did not, in fact, have anything like a "plan for victory". In late 2006, they developed the surge strategy, which was an implicit acknowledgment that we were losing. But even as they were casting about for a new plan, they were saying we were "winning" and had a plan that would lead to victory. Neither of which were remotely true. You might argue that those are "subjective" judgments, but even Bush doesn’t make that argument - instead, he argues that he was just trying to make people feel good.

Also: those weren’t merely examples of Bush being a bad extemporaneous speaker. They were from speeches.

It’s one thing to avoid pessimistic talk, but you’re arguing that it’s ok for a President to make flatly untrue claims.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Saying that is only lying if you think you are in fact losing, don’t have a chance and don’t belong on the same field as the enemy/other team.
This is plausible McQ, if one hasn’t gone back and read the transcript. Here’s the bit two questions before the excert Jon gave us.
RADDATZ: You said you worried any time you think it will fail. Did you think it would fail?

BUSH: I thought it was failing, yes, I did, and that’s why — and I listened to a lot of opinions. And as you remember, there were like all kinds of opinions.

There was the pull back and, you know, let Baghdad take care of itself, and guard the borders, and there was the — there’s all kinds. And obviously, one opinion that was brought forth by people inside the administration and in the Pentagon was to send 30,000 more troops — or more troops, and 30,000 was the number they arrived at.
Maybe he didn’t think we had no chance, but he himself says he thought we were failling.

Full transcript is here.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Yes, we are arguing that, in times of war, it may be necessary for the Commander in Chief not to be completely honest with the public.
All through this period, I remember the president, his senior aides and senior military commanders toeing the party line that things were going swimmingly. The dissonance between the rhetoric from Washington and our experience in Iraq was stark
I guess the onus should be, which statements is he talking about?

I personally remember 2006 as a time when the President had to stave off continued calls from the Democrats for a precipitous withdrawal of our troops, regardless of what consequences that would have.

I’ve yet to find a speech by Bush where he said "we’re winning," so that in itself may also be a straw man.

Even in June, when Zarqawi was killed, he was very somber, not triumphant.

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Politics/Story?id=4633561&page=2
Zarqawi is dead, but the difficult and necessary mission in Iraq continues. We can expect the terrorists and insurgents to carry on without him. We can expect the sectarian violence to continue. Yet the ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders.

...

On Monday I will meet with my national security team and other key members of my Cabinet at Camp David to discuss the way forward in Iraq. Our top diplomats and military commanders in Iraq will give me an assessment of recent changes in the political and economic and security situation on the ground. On Tuesday, Iraq’s new Ambassador to the United States will join us, and we will have a teleconference discussion with the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet. Together we will discuss how to best deploy America’s resources in Iraq and achieve our shared goal of an Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself.

We have tough days ahead of us in Iraq that will require the continued patience of the American people. Yet the developments of the last 24 hours give us renewed confidence in the final outcome of this struggle: the defeat of terrorism threats, and a more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren.


And I also remember, and it continues to this day, that if you aren’t harping on the negative news, you are seeing things through rose-colored glasses, and can be dismissed out of hand. Bring up any positive development and you’re out of touch with reality.

I’ve made the continued argument that only looking at the negatives, doesn’t let you arrive at a balanced view anymore than only looking at the positives do.

And I will ask anyone here, if you think you are failing at something of vital importance to yourself, do you just quit?
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Part of our success has been the slow build up of Iraqi forces. That was happening in 2006. Part of our success has been killing AQ leaders, like Zarkawi (killed JUne 21, 2006.) Part of our success has been elections (Jan. 20, 2006.)

Meanwhile the enemy has a vote. They were bombing mosques and wreaking havoc. Though you have to wonder how much that really helped them except to weaken US public morale, which is only one front in the war. They actually lost Arab public opinion doing that. They lost support among the Anbar tribes doing that, and sowed the seeds of the awakening which was probably as important as the Surge.

Think about 1942-1943. We may not have been winning many battles (losing some instead) but we were ramping up production of war materials massively and doing many other things that would ultimately lead to victory.

Frankly, I am not so sure we couldn’t find all manner of the "lies" that Henke and Carter have "discovered" if we were to review, say, Lincoln’s speeches in 1861, or any other leader. Show me a Johnson comment after Tet that explained that we were losing (but wait, we actually won Tet militarily, so what should he have said?)

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
This is plausible McQ, if one hasn’t gone back and read the transcript. Here’s the bit two questions before the excert Jon gave us.
Retief once again shows a complete lack of comprehension.

McQ’s point is confirmed by the Bush quote; in particular the decision to back the surge.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Except for those times when he said "we’re winning" and when he said we had a "plan for victory" ...
But again, that doesn’t mean we weren’t "winning" (at least as he saw it) and he didn’t have such a plan. Your opinion of the circumstances at the time don’t bind him to your opinion.

Back to that sports analogy - you’re leading the game but it has cost you your starting tight end, your quarterback and your right offensive guard.

You might decide that the plays you’re calling are costing you too much and look for a different way to continue what you’re doing - winning. So again, saying something isn’t going well doesn’t mean you necessarily think we’re losing. Saying you have a plan for victory, doesn’t mean it won’t be tweaked or changed.

Enemies, or opposing teams, aren’t static entities, and war in general is a series of adaptations, usually with whichever side adapts the quickest and the best winning. AQI had adapted (and attempted to spark a civil war). COIN (strategy)was our adaptation to AQI. The surge(tactics) was our means of putting it in place and getting it functioning.
In late 2006, they developed the surge strategy, which was an implicit acknowledgment that we were losing.
No, it wasn’t. And any general, and especially Petreaus, would tell you the first cardinal rule of warfare is you don’t reinforce failure. Ever.

What you are claiming is they did precisely that.
But even as they were casting about for a new plan, they were saying we were "winning" and had a plan that would lead to victory. Neither of which were remotely true.
That’s your opinion which you are trying to project on people who obviously didn’t share it.

Again, Petreaus isn’t going to reinforce failure because he simply becomes the man who ends up going down with the ship. Not many generals are going to raise their hand and volunteer for that.

So it is apparent they didn’t think they were losing (although they obviously weren’t happy with the results at the time), didn’t believe they were reinforcing failure (or they wouldn’t have committed to the surge) and thought the new strategy (COIN) would speed up victory (and it seems that may be true).
It’s one thing to avoid pessimistic talk, but you’re arguing that it’s ok for a President to make flatly untrue claims.
Well that’s the realm of opinion vs. fact and you’ve not made a very compelling case that your opinion is factually sound or that what was said was flatly untrue.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Not to mention this whole argument relies on the idea that without the surge, things would not have improved in Iraq. Maybe not as quickly, but I suspect the Anbar Awakening would have happened regardless.

p.s. If I have to choose between a leader who to exhort us on to victory "lies" versus leaders who "lie" and say that the surge failed even before it occurred, etc., then I guess its not a hard choice.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Here’s another part of that transcript not mentioned:
RADDATZ: .You were saying, ’We’re winning. We have a plan for victory. We are winning,’ up through October.

BUSH: Well, there was — I also recognized — I think if you’d go through the — kind of fully analyze my statements, I was also saying, "The fighting is very tough, it’s — you know, the extremism is unacceptable. The murder is unacceptable."

And you know, it’s very important to be realistic.
It’s important for all of us that at any moment, if we’re reading someone else’s account, we are seeing a filtered account of the facts.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Also look how hard the reporter is trying to pin down the President on the issue of withdrawing troops.
RADDATZ: So you’re not saying it would be just 45 days, or will it go beyond 45 days. You just don’t know.

BUSH: I don’t know. But on the other hand, I did say that my hope is that conditions will enable us to continue return on success.

RADDATZ: Because Secretary Gates was much more specific in his testimony, saying that he hoped there would be more of a drawdown in the fall. Are you hoping to do more of a drawdown in the fall?

BUSH: I couldn’t have been more specific in my speech. I said, "I hope conditions will enable us to continue return on success." That’s what I hope.

RADDATZ: Can you imagine, given how it’s going now — and you’ve had setbacks in the last few weeks — that we could possibly get to 100,000 troops by the end of the year?

BUSH: I can’t...

RADDATZ: See, this is what frustrates people on the Hill. It frustrates the American people, that there are...

BUSH: Well, I hope it doesn’t frustrate you, because you understand. You follow this very carefully — that for the president to speculate on what a troop level will be, and then conditions change, and then the troop level’s not what it is.

In other words, I don’t want to get expectations up to the point where conditions dictate another response. The question is, "Are we going to have the troops in place that will enable us to succeed?" And the answer is we will, so long as I’m the president.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
This is plausible McQ, if one hasn’t gone back and read the transcript.
Geez ... you and trouble with words. "Failure" in this context is about strategy. Not whether or not the war is being "lost". What Bush realized is he had to change the strategy because the one he was pursuing was failing. If he didn’t, the possibility existed that the war could be lost. So he began exploring options. Again, that doesn’t mean he thought we were "losing the war".

He actually did what commanders are supposed to do. Assess the situation (strategy failing), come up with a number of courses of action (see above about guarding the borders, etc), review the pros and cons of each in light of the mission, choose one which would best accomplish that mission and executed it.

He did that and his change of strategy seems to be succeeding.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
One thing I’ve found interesting is that, although I’ve only dug through 3 pages, I’ve yet to find any mention on qando about Iraq and winning, in the context of Bush saying it. Surely you guys would have noted it.

I found this thread interesting.

http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?Entry=4128
Phase I (2006-2007) Stabilization

Phase II (2007 - 2008) Restoration of Iraqi Govt authority

Phase III (2008-2009) Iraqi Self-reliance
Seems like we are tracking along this time table, even if the methods aren’t as expected.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Seems like we are tracking along this time table, even if the methods aren’t as expected.
Sure looks like a plan to me. And from a pre-surge post in 2006.

However, to be fair, what didn’t happen is this:
General Casey is anticipating, if stabilization proceeds as planned, to have that down to 10 in December of 2006 and to 7 or 8 brigades by June of 2007.
And we all know why. And that why is what ended up driving the change of strategy. But obviously, such a draw down being planned at the time wouldn’t seem to me to indicate anyone thought we were losing the war.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
McQ please. What is the aim of our strategy in Iraq. Is it not winning the war? (However that gets defined.) Are you sure you want to pretend that if our strategy to acomplish the goal of winning the war is failing then that doesn’t mean we we’re failing to win the war? Just go read the transcript.
BUSH: I was worried. Look, I’m worried any time it looks like we’re going to fail in Iraq. I’m driven by a lot of things. One is strategic concerns about Iraq. I mean, if Iraq fails, it’s going to affect the security of the country, and it’s going to create great turmoil in the Middle East. It will embolden Al Qaeda.

I’m also concerned about leaving our soldiers behind — in other words, having the deaths and the sacrifice they made go in vain. I see parents all the time of, you know , people are mourning the loss of a loved one.

And they want to know whether or not the president is going to make the decisions necessary to accomplish this mission. And so I’m driven by a lot of concerns, but those are the two main ones.

RADDATZ: You said you worried any time you think it will fail. Did you think it would fail?

BUSH: I thought it was failing, yes, I did, and that’s why — and I listened to a lot of opinions. And as you remember, there were like all kinds of opinions.
As Jon noted, not even Bush is pretending that he wasn’t lying here, he just says he had good reasons for it.

You’re quite right that he did what commanders are supposed to do and changed strategies, because what he was doing wasn’t winning.
He did that and his change of strategy seems to be succeeding.
Well it couldn’t have done much worse than the original 2003 strategy of hand Iraq to the INC and Chalabi, or the 2004/2005 strategy of sit in our bases and hope the horse sings, or the 2006 encourage-Shia-death-squads strategy, now could it? Just pause and think for a minute how you’d react to news that, say, Hugo Chavez was using government troops (and US forces when his own got their keisters handed to them) to crush a rival political party in the run up to an election. Smells like success, huh?

Harun, you and everybody else using WWII analogies can just cut that out until you can figure out how it is that we’ve not won the war yet in January 1947.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Geez ... you and trouble with words. "Failure" in this context is about strategy. Not whether or not the war is being "lost". What Bush realized is he had to change the strategy because the one he was pursuing was failing.
And yet, he said we were winning. And that we had a "plan for victory". He said that before the surge was considered....when our plan was "failing".

This is sorta like how we’re winning the war on drugs. Sure, it’s failing. But we’re winning. Saying otherwise would hurt out chances at winning.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
And yet, he said we were winning. And that we had a "plan for victory". He said that before the surge was considered....when our plan was "failing".
And you don’t reinforce failure.

So militarily, we weren’t doing as well as he thought we should be doing and he thought we should change. That doesn’t mean we weren’t winning, nor does that mean that the military portion of any plan comprises the entire "plan for victory".

Competent real world military doesn’t send in more troops if the cause (war) is lost. That leads to the same result with a higher body count.

Consequently, anyone who understands military operations and the laws of war, knows that the surge and COIN were not done because we were losing or a failure. It was an adaptive strategy to counter another adaptive strategy.

You can argue your opinion until you’re blue in the face but it doesn’t make a convincing argument that someone else lied just because you disagree with their conclusion.

For instance:
This is sorta like how we’re winning the war on drugs. Sure, it’s failing. But we’re winning. Saying otherwise would hurt out chances at winning.
Not even close. It’s not sorta like that at all.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
McQ please. What is the aim of our strategy in Iraq. Is it not winning the war? (However that gets defined.) Are you sure you want to pretend that if our strategy to acomplish the goal of winning the war is failing then that doesn’t mean we we’re failing to win the war? Just go read the transcript.
Good grief Retief, I did. Look at what you highlighted:
I’m worried any time it looks like we’re going to fail in Iraq.
Could he be alluding to the fact that conventional wisdom driven by the press had painted Iraq as something that was being lost? "[I]t looks like ..."

Does that say to you "we’re losing"?
I thought it was failing, yes, I did ...
What was failing? The military strategy? As you read on and note that he listened to "a number of opinions" and you realize, yes, that was his concern. He had to do something about the military strategy while he had the opportunity to do so. If he waited too long (here’s that inconvenient law of war that says you don’t reinforce failure again) it might get to the point where he couldn’t do so.

So what did he do? He changed it (COIN) and implemented the tactics (surge) to give it the foothold it needed. It changed the game, and it swung the momentum to our side and put AQI back on the defensive.

That’s war. And if you don’t think your winning or don’t think you can, then you have no business waging it.

At this very point, I’d bet if you asked AQI they’d tell you they weren’t losing, just going through some rough times. Now you may not believe them, but my guess is that’s what they believe. You might think they were lying. But they certainly wouldn’t. Consequently what you might believe has little relevance how they see their status in the war.

And if you’ve been watching the news, AQI is again adapting its strategy. It is now relying on more and more suicide bombers and attacking gas, oil and powerlines.

Move, counter-move.

War.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
And yet, he said we were winning. And that we had a "plan for victory". He said that before the surge was considered....when our plan was "failing".
The reporter said that, but is that what Bush actually said?
Harun, you and everybody else using WWII analogies can just cut that out until you can figure out how it is that we’ve not won the war yet in January 1947.
Why? Why does the anology fail due to the different time span?

The situation in Iraq is much different than WW2. Yet the anology is still applicable. Just ’cause you lost some battles doesn’t mean you lost the war.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
We already knew that President Bush stands out for his inelegant, even blundering, PR skills. We also know that the SecDef was relieved and the OIF strategy was radically changed. How do Bush’s actions, highlighted here, compare to past Presidents who faced dark times during war?
 
Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
"Put bluntly, if you can’t trust your generals and political leaders to tell you and your families the truth, how can you trust them at all?"

Welcome to the wonderful world of adulthood, where things are not always as they seem and you have to cope with complexity, uncertainty, well intentioned lies, and dishonest truths. There ain’t no tooth fairy either.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
You can argue your opinion until you’re blue in the face but it doesn’t make a convincing argument that someone else lied just because you disagree with their conclusion.
I understand the argument that you’re making, but I don’t find it persuasive. Bush acknowledged that we were failing and that he said what he did to bolster moral. I understand the desire to rationalize that into something other than a lie - we called that sort of thing "nuance" in ’04 - but I find Carter’s read much more persuasive.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I understand the argument that you’re making, but I don’t find it persuasive.
Fair enough. That’s pretty much where I am with yours as well. Appreciate the discussion.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
McQ, if you insist on reading "fail in Iraq" as something other than failing in Iraq, you are, cf course, free to do so. Or you could have a little pride.

You keep repeat the mantra that one doesn’t reinforce failure as if the fact of reinforcments proves the mission in Iraq can’t have been failing. This is crazy. The existance of a military dictum in no way garuntees obedience to it. Do you really want to call in the flying monkeys of military history to find the many many examples of real militaries really reinforcing failure? Do you really want to try to argue that the fact that a mission is reinforced means it can’t have been failing? Pure silliness.
Just ’cause you lost some battles doesn’t mean you lost the war.
Hillary, is that you?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
How does Bush’s admission of expedient, policy-reinforcing speech-making in 2006 related to Iraq compare to Clinton’s expedient, policy-reinforcing speech-making related to Rwanda?

If Bush was reinforcing failure of American policy in Iraq, then does that mean Clinton reinforced a successful American policy in Rwanda?
 
Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
McQ, if you insist on reading "fail in Iraq" as something other than failing in Iraq, you are, cf course, free to do so.
Believe it or not, I figured that out years ago, Retief.

And, of course, the reason I read it that way is that seems both the most plausible and reasonable reading of it ... for someone who doesn’t suffer from BDS.
You keep repeat the mantra that one doesn’t reinforce failure as if the fact of reinforcments proves the mission in Iraq can’t have been failing. This is crazy.
Not if you know what you’re talking about it isn’t.

And as has been obvious for quite sometime, no one will confuse you with someone who knows what he’s talking about.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Does Bush have BDS too? No even the president reads himself that way. That’s why he offers the morale explanation for the discrepancy between what he was seeing and what he was saying. He must be self-hating.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
The question I still haven’t seen answered in this thread (or maybe I skimmed too quickly) is, how do President Bush’s statements in 2006 about OIF compare to past Presidents’ statesmanship during dark times in war or even dark times during avoidance of war (hence, my Clinton Rwanda comparison)? Lincoln and FDR would seem to be the obvious candidates for comparison. Maybe, a better comparison is President Truman. The Korean War was at least as controversial as OIF, its dark times dwarf those of OIF - during 2006 or any other year - and its outcome was deemed a failure or undecided at best for decades.

Only 3 months after the disastrous defeats in north Korea, which included the brutal retreat at the Chosin Reservoir, with US/UN forces still locked in large-scale vicious combat with north Koreans and ’Red’ Chinese across a devastated country and populace, Truman relieved GEN MacArthur of his command. Truman was sending men and materiale into a meat-grinder of a war that many fervently believed wasn’t our business to fight in the first place and imposing a controversial limited strategy for geopolitical reasons that many also believed was militarily foolish. At arguably the darkest period of the Korean War, in his speech firing GEN MacArthur on the April 13, 1951, President Truman said this (bold-face added by me):

"It is right for us to be in Korea. It was right last June. It is right today…

The question we have had to face is whether the Communist plan of conquest can be stopped without general war. Our Government and other countries associated with us in the United Nations believe that the best chance of stopping it without general war is to meet the attack in Korea and defeat it there.

That is what we have been doing. It is a difficult and bitter task. But so far it has been successful…"


I haven’t read other Truman speeches about the Korean War. So, for anyone who has read his Truman, how do Bush’s 2006 statements about OIF stack up to Truman’s statements regarding Korea?

 
Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://

 
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