The War in 2006 – Michael Yon’s Magisterial Take

Michael Yon writes – far more eloquently and intelligently than I could – the post about Iraq that has been working through my brain for the last three months.

It’s magisterial, in the sense of

Of, relating to, or characteristic of a master or teacher; authoritative: a magisterial account of the history of the English language.

and we should be taught by him. Here’s a small sample:

But what I saw (and see) as the biggest threat to the outcome was not the increase in sectarian violence among Iraqis. The biggest threat to this mission, and by extension to the future stability of this region and the long term security of the United States and our allies, is and always has been the inability to see, hear and communicate the truth to the American people and our allies. In the final analysis, it is not going to matter if the French support our mission in Iraq, but once Americans turn away from their soldiers in the field, we’ve lost.

In order to fund my own fact-finding in Iraq and Afghanistan, I asked my attorney last week to look into selling some of my photos. His response, in part, which came to me yesterday:

Sadly, what I am hearing is that the demand for material from both countries is way, way down. The market has dried up and the competition from almost free AP photos and US Army material means most agencies do not want to take on someone whose work is primarily war-related at this time.

We have gotten our troops into combat and now we are ignoring them. It’s little wonder that Americans would be angry at me for calling a civil war a civil war. Most of them have no idea what is going on! But this is not the sole fault of the media: if there were great demand for information from the wars, they would dispatch legions of journalists. It is the people at home who are ignoring our people at war.

I cannot strongly enough encourage you to read his piece.

35 thoughts on “The War in 2006 – Michael Yon’s Magisterial Take”

  1. But this is not the sole fault of the media: if there were great demand for information from the wars, they would dispatch legions of journalists. It is the people at home who are ignoring our people at war.

    Well, that darned citizenry. They were promised roses and “the occupation will pay for itself,” and “the WMDs are west of Baghdad, and north and south and east…” and what did they get? Three years on, lots of dead fellow-citizens, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, Abu Ghraib, and no end in sight. No call for any collective sacrifice, no spending discipline, no clear path to bringing the boys home. Maybe an extension of the adventure into Iran, though. That should buck up the home front.

    We had a major turning point last December. Remember? That election? Lots of purple fingers. Where is the government that can begin to take over from our Army?

    Yon blames the media, and the American people, for the failings of the nation’s leadership. Pathetic.

  2. Stickler,

    This is one of those posts that doesn’t say quite what you expect it to say, the kind that makes you look kinda stupid when you comment without reading it.

  3. Armed Liberal…I complete agree with you!

    And please see what can be done about unbanning text string b l o g s p o t .dot c o m

    I can’t leave my URL because of that. And many others who are not spammers have been unable to post comments with that same string in their url.

    Thanx!

  4. Huntress… in answer to your question, people hosting on blogspot need to harass Google and explain their problems, until they stop being such a haven for automated spammer blogs that leave hundreds of spam trackbacks here. We don’t have all day to spend dealing with their toxic effluent.

    A second, better option is to get your own domain and have Blogger publish to your hosting account. TANSTAAFL, as they say.

    We now return y’all to Michael yon’s most excellent article, and discussions thereof.

  5. I’ve posted this about the dreaded blahgspot URLs, but it may be worth one (and only one) repeat:

    Use the service at TinyURL (“http://tinyurl.com”:http:/tinyurl.com) to convert your problematic web address to one that can be left here safely.

    (The service works by taking a URL and assigning a redirect link to it from their own site; the link itself if tiny — hence the name of the service — and obscures the ultimate target from a site such as this.)

    Take a look at my link; clicking it takes you into Google’s Mordor-ish blog domain, without having to go through that nasty spider den.

  6. What is “The Truth” that Michael Yon (and presumably, you) think needs “communicating” to the American people?

    And why do you think that, once transmitted, this will more likely cause us to “support THE MISSION” (what is that, btw? Stickler’s comments are enlightened on this wrt pre-war claims vs. outcome) rather than turn against it?

    I would argue that neither you, nor I, nor Michael Yon is necessarily in possession of any Ultimate Truth (I think you often deride this as “received wisdom”) about not only what is going on in Iraq right now, but more importantly where this will naturally lead with or without the involvement of outside forces…be they military or political (a big influence) or virtual (Americal public sentiment, likely to be a VERY SMALL influence).

    Thus, “THE TRUTH” could work against what I am guessing is your preferred outcome.

    Unless, of course, you mean to define “Truth” as “whatever selective facts are necessary to steer public opinion in favor of events, regardless of their underlying relationship to objective reality”?

    I am continually taken aback by your one-dimensional thinking.

    Me, I want our young men and women out of that mess ‘o’ potamia ASAP, and I want Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush to be held accountable for lying to them and us about their mission, and failing to support them with a clear objective and proper strategies. They’re the ones who suffer for their…and your….folly.

    If I were in your Pro-Iraq war camp, I’d be begging them for forgiveness, and I’d be ashamed to look them in the eyes until I did so.

  7. I read Michael Yon’s article. “Magisterial” is an excellent term, and it’s very thought provoking for all sides.

    Yehudit wanted Michael to explain and validate his characterization of “civil war,” and said she’d be reading with interest. I’d say that he has done so, and done so in a way that comes from a maximally credible source and wins the argument.

    He also has this to say, of course:

    bq. “The Civil War did not start subsequent the invasion; it was already underway. The former Iraqi regime had slaughtered unknown thousands of civilians and buried many of them in mass graves that are still today being discovered and catalogued. If anything, the previous Civil War has merely changed shape, the advantage has clearly shifted, and now that Americans and Europeans are in the combat zone, the war gets more complicated.”

    As it did in Bosnia. And this:

    bq. “There is a human tendency to ignore certain information while magnifying other information. We all know this. It’s not a disease that infects only people of certain parties or professions, it’s in our nature. In this complicated world, in this excruciatingly complicated world, we must make hard decisions as individuals and collectively as nations. When it came to invading Iraq, as persuasive as I found those official statements about WMD, I also knew some things that the average American would not be in a position to know. Every Iraq-experienced Special Forces veteran that I spoke with before the latest invasion of Iraq—every one of those veterans—opined that Iraq would devolve into chaos and civil war. But when I asked those same veterans if they thought the former regime was a threat to world security, they all agreed that it was, for they knew well the evil of the former Iraqi regime. Tough choices.”

    Add the fact that pushing an approach of ethnic partition to head this off ran straight into the fact of Turkish opposition and even possible intervention, as well as expected Iraqi backlash everywhere except Iraqi Kurdistan. Again, tough choices in the real world.

    Is Libya’s abandonment of WMDs worth the resulting risk? How about Lebanon’s “Cedar Revolution,” or steps toward democratization around the Gulf? Beyond, Iran waits, harboring al-Qaeda, aiding Afghanistan’s jihadis, and building nukes, as Saddam will too once sactions are gone. Iran cannot be invaded instead if Saddam’s Iraq is left unconfronted at your back. But we’ve still got to choose, the clock is ticking, and “ignore/evade the problems” isn’t an option. That approach will bring the American death toll into the tens or hundreds of thousands in relatively short order.

    So, here we are.

    Michael Yon has much more to say, of course, and it’s all worth reading. We need folks who are willing to report in depth, have the background to understand what they are seeing, and will tell the truth. Michael Yon is one of the few, and that’s what makes him so very worth listening to and learning from.

    No matter who you are, prepare to have some of your perceptions shaken if you read his article with an open mind. And that’s a good thing.

  8. “Me, I want our young men and women out of that mess ‘o’ potamia ASAP, and I want Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush to be held accountable for lying to them and us about their mission, and failing to support them with a clear objective and proper strategies.”

    Translation: My need for revenge against Bush Co. far outweighs the vital objectives of the United States in the Middle East, much less the future of the Iraqi people. All wars are to be conducted with perfect prescience, any intelligence proving faulty will be considered lies and their purveyors punished.

    I’ll go out on a limb and also assume the future suffering of the Iraqi people due to our abandonment, particularly those such as the Kurds that have supported us most strongly, will be laid at Bush’s feet as well.

  9. Wiz, a better example of circular logic would be hard to find.

    First, you make the (woo-hoo! here we go again!) post-modernist assertation that Marc, Yon, or yourself can never know the “Ultimate Truth”. Then you imply that they Marc and Michael claim to know the “Ultimate Truth” (or are willing to lie about what it is) which you deride mightily, and then you screed into

    I want Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush to be held accountable for lying to them and us about their mission, and failing to support them with a clear objective and proper strategies.

    There’s a heap o’ evidence that no one lied (read the UN reports, and the travel iteneraries of Iraqi officials going shopping for what must have been goats from Nigeria), there is a Bush Doctrine (wrong-headed or not), and please notice that for a country without a strategy, we’ve been remarkably conisistent in how we approach three “hot” situations (Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Korea) and that our handling of each situation has been differernt. That doesn’t fit the “feckless and reactionary” theory of American foreign policy.

    I have no problem at all with the idea that any one person’s understanding of the world situation is likely to be incomplete; what I do mind is the quick jump from there into mindless and largely groundless partisan talking points.

    That’s not debating, that’s proseletyzing.

  10. How silly it would be to write a story that goes

    bq. Hurricane Katrina, sensing the Civil Defense preparations in the Florida Panhandle, redirected itself to the mouth of the Mississippi, knowing that low-lying New Orleans was vulnerable to its winds and surge.

    This is hardly less absurd than frame of stories about American soldiers and Iraqis being subject to IED explosions, gunfire, and mayhem, where the violence is part force-of-nature, and part the fault of the U.S.

    The enemies of the West are well-equipped with insights, strategies, and tactics. They are intelligent and resourceful, and try to strike where it does the most damage. They are also ruthless, towards the ummah as much as anyone else.

    This doesn’t imply that Iraq is the right fight, or the wrong one. Just that the battle space isn’t nearly as gentle as most of those focused on Bush-hatred seem to naively suppose. The enemy, alas, gets a vote.

  11. “This doesn’t imply that Iraq is the right fight, or the wrong one. Just that the battle space isn’t nearly as gentle as most of those focused on Bush-hatred seem to naively suppose. The enemy, alas, gets a vote.”

    The intellectual problem you describe is from my perspective not something specific to this war or policy, but a general flawed outlook on the part of the modern left which at the same time it denigrates America was the major source of evil in the world, nonetheless contains an inherently racist and demeaning undertone with regard the rest of the world. It’s not just that they refuse to recognize that the enemy gets a vote, its that they refuse to recognize that native populations enemy or otherwise get a vote and that chiefly thier stories are about them and not about us.

    The modern lefts narrative of history invariably has the rest of the world doing things solely in responce to US policy. The US itself never seems to do anything in thier narrative except for, as they would have it, naked racism and imperial ambition. Native populations never control thier own destiny. Rather, they act solely in responce to US manipulation, and I should say solely in ways that the left claims are predictable and logical responces to US manipulation. Whenever a coup or change of government occurs, no matter how tenuous US support of that change is, no matter how compelling the reasoning of local leaders (whether compelling self-interest or actual idealism), the mere fact of US approval changes the US to the major actor in the local politics. Local populations never decide for themselves, except when they choose anti-Americanism and this too is only in responce to American influence.

    Having lived in the third world, this whole narrative that we are central to everyone’s history and everyone’s decision making strikes me as utterly and reprehensibly racist and ignorant. The fact of the matter is that most of the world moves for reasons of its own according to the policies and social forces internal to the politics of the region, and largely does so entirely beyond US ability to control no matter how well-meaning or ill-intentioned our desires.

    I remember arguments with otherwise well educated people who would argue that events like the Boxer Revolution were the result of US imperialism, as if the internal politics of China had nothing to do with what was going on and as if the US was anything but a minor player with no real ability to influence events in China – especially compared to the Germans, English, French, Japanese, Russians, and most importantly the Chinese themselves. I find this narrative utterly bizarre, as the real events seem to indicate to me that the US policy – whether because of idealism or political reality or a fortitous combination of both – was anti-imperial. Likewise, my impression of Chinese history at the time, and the impression I get from Chinese nationals, was that European imperialism in China was as much or more the result of decisions and circumstances in China as it was of European ambition. But you never get that sort of narrative from a leftist. You only get a narrative of the rest of the world as victims of US decision making, as if the rest of the world had no mind, will, leaders, or culture of its own. It’s ridiculous.

  12. Not to get too far afield, but the leftist mentality goes something like this:

    -The world is full of problems, most (if not all) of which are fixable.
    -Fixing these problem would be relatively simple, except that…
    -There are nasty people (mostly here in the US) that have greedy ambitions and stand in the way.

  13. Something worth considering is as much as support for the war might be flagging in polls, opposition to the war is also flagging in the streets. Anti-war Protests have decreased in number and size dramatically.

    What all that says to me is there’s an atmosphere that while many people don’t like that the war is still going on, they are resigned to the fact that there’s no easy out, and it will continue until the end. People with an attitude of “I accept it, but I don’t have to like it” aren’t going to want to be constantly reminded that they don’t like it, or constantly told that they should like it; Thus the lack of a market for Mike’s pics. It’s human nature.

    But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it means despite the griping to pollsters, even the discontent do accept the fact that we have to see this though, which means we will see the job though.

  14. Yes, Michael Yom is great, and his post is great.

    Now …

    I have confidence in Michael Fumento. His book on the myth of heterosexual aids (not that it exists, it does, but the book is on the politicisation of matters best discussed by epidemiologists) was good. I assume if he could report, he would be an honest voice, like Michael Yom. But, following an Instapundit link, I found Michael Fumento is not effectively getting at the truth to report it. (link)

    Apparently, the armed forces don’t put sufficient priority on helping good guys get the truth out. And/or, our doctrine for media war is utterly broken.

    (The same is true in Israel – I can hunt for a link to support that if required. Media management by the Israeli Defence Force is far inferior to – less practical and effective than – that practiced by Palestinian terror organisations.)

    This puts into a different context the image of an ideal army anguished by the people back home who don’t know what they are doing and are not a good market for the truth.

    If you put this in the context of the mainsteam media consistently reporting terrorist media operations at once and with full credulity, while the military puts out the truth tardily and with little effect, I think it’s pretty shameful.

    The media struggle over Iraq is “fixed,” rigged by a dishonest mainstream media – but the military has no liberty to “resign” it. It’s still part of the greater war, it still has to be fought, and it can be fought well or badly. A merely formal, un-serious media effort is bad fighting.

    Military guys keep saying they totally get this, but they keep acting like they don’t.

  15. David: _”Military guys keep saying they totally get this, but they keep acting like they don’t.”_

    You are talking about information war. They do get it, but the military can only use it against ‘others’ not ‘us’. And even then their actions in the theaters of war have been hit hard by the MSM and other idiots.

    As far as at home, they can not, and we really really *do not* want them to. So who is supposed to? I posted this at mudvillegazette …

    Not every reporter is supposed to be a fashion/opinion writer looking for a pulitzer typed in the safety of their living room. Aren’t people supposed to take risks for the ideas of freedom? Soldiers, Police, EMS, etc. all put their lives on the line for our culture and its values. Why not reporters?

    One of my favorite photographs is of my daughter standing and reading the following at President Ike’s library …

    _Sustained by faith in the cherished ideals of true democracy each American works in his daily task at plough or forge or machine or desk knowing this nation will forever stand one and indivisible in devotion to the cause of liberty for all mankind._

    So whose responsibility is it? Ours … *Each American.* We must get back that attitude. Not to become like those in Europe who Sean describes as not willing to defend themselves against an attack even from Mars.

  16. Let’s try again:

    What is “The Truth” that Michael Yon (and presumably, you) think needs “communicating” to the American people?

    And why do you think that, once transmitted, this will more likely cause us to “support THE MISSION” rather than turn against it??

    And what exactly is “The Mission”?

  17. “The” truth? Michael Yon of course knows a lot larger percentage than I (or you) ever will, he being a chickenhawk without the chicken part. But I think the part of the Truth that isn’t getting out much is the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The bad we hear about; the good, not so much.

    I think if there’s one truth most of us understand implicitly (because its true so much of the time from the media) it is that the picture is a lot more complicated than most people get to see. Yon is great, because as a content provider he provides not only high quality (he sure as hell isn’t uncritical about what he observes) but large quantity. (For what its worth, I trust his observations because where they overlap with my own — for instance, about Thailand — they seem very accurate.)

    In other words, simply calling Iraq “Mess’o’potamia” and writing it off strikes me as, shall we say, unnuanced. And as such, inherently farther from “the” truth.

    As to what the “Mission” is, again, it depends on what scale you want to work on. (That’s why the whole “Mission Accomplished!” piling-on was so disingenuous. For the men and women serving on that aircraft carrier, who were coming home at the end of a deployment, the mission was accomplished. Welcome to partisan point-scoring 101.)

    But on the scale I think you mean, the Mission is to help establish a functioning Democracy in the heart of Arabia.

    Scaling up, the bigger mission is to starve Terrorism at its roots by (a) eliminating safe havens (b) providing a local sociopolitical alternative to Islamofascism; and (c) not trivially, showing those who would follow Bin Laden and other would-be Caliphs what a strong-and-pissed-off horse really looks like.

    Scaling up again, the reason we want to do all that is because the West depends on the energy resources found in the region, and the region is rich enough that if someone there crazy enough gets the technology, jihadis could go nuclear/biological on our asses. And waiting for that to happen before doing anything about it strikes this Administration as supremely stupid. So the biggest mission is to keep our asses warm, but not glowing.

    Anybody here disagree with any of that? Again, all this “mission” stuff has been repeated on a pretty regular basis by people in the Administration, IIRC. Frankly, those who claim the Bush Administration lacks strategic vision are engaging in the worst kind of projection.

  18. Wizener: _What is “The Truth”_

    If you are “literate”:http://www.michaelyon-online.com/ and have the ability to “reason”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/ then you can find the answer to that question. If not, there is nothing anyone can do for you. We can not rewire your brain.

    Wizener: _What is “The Mission”_

    I’ll let Yon answer that …

    “They will kill us. They will not stop until we stop them. I might be anti-war, but I am much more anti-terrorist.”

    Wizener: _”support THE MISSION” rather than turn against it_

    I don’t know if that is possible. I’ve taught mathematics and logic for to long to not have seen the rapid decline in our culture’s ability to reason. It does not matter how much we talk about the difference in Truth and Emotion. More and more I see people like Wizener who will only believe what ‘feels’ true to them. Where every statement is an axiom.

  19. _What is “The Mission”_

    I’m suprised there’s so much apparent ambiguity about this, but as a matter of record, the operational goals the military’s tasked with are (basically) facilitating the establishment of a representative government and effective security force.

    Simply put, removing Saddam and his henchmen meant removing the government and military. A nation can’t exist without a government and military. So, replacing those (in a more acceptable form) is part of the job: An obligation we accepted when we removed the ones they had.

  20. From Michael Yon’s article: “But this is not the sole fault of the media: if there were great demand for information from the wars, they would dispatch legions of journalists. It is the people at home who are ignoring our people at war.”

    I am hesitant to write this because it will sound incredibly arrogant to say but I’m not sure I agree with the brilliant Mr. Yon on this point. There may not be an overwhelming demand from every American for information and pictures from the war, but I believe there is substantial demand that is not being met by the liberal media that refuses to see any demand, let alone meet it.

    Let me ask you this: Do you believe there is a market for Hollywood movies supporting the war? I think there is. In fact, I believe Bruce Willis’ movie on the Deuce Four, the group with which Michael Yon was embedded, will be big at the box office.

    The American media is foolish to think that most Americans deplore the war and our warriors. They are projecting their attitudes onto the rest of us, and it is their ratings and wallets that are suffering as a result.

  21. ‘m suprised there’s so much apparent ambiguity about this, but as a matter of record, the operational goals the military’s tasked with are (basically) facilitating the establishment of a representative government and effective security force.

    What if the representative government selects a Prime Minister we don’t like? Say, for example, a guy named Ibrahim al-Jaffari? What if the representative government decides to increase the profile of Sharia law?

    What if the ‘effective security force’ is mostly made up of Shiites loyal to or still clandestine members of Shiite militias?

    Simply put, removing Saddam and his henchmen meant removing the government and military. A nation can’t exist without a government and military. So, replacing those (in a more acceptable form) is part of the job: An obligation we accepted when we removed the ones they had.

    We didn’t have to do this, though. L. Paul Bremer disbanded the existing 400,000 man Iraqi Army in 2003. It was a choice: was it necessary? What have been the costs of this? And what is this stuff about “acceptable forms?” Who decides this? Our procurator in the Green Zone? Or some actual Iraqis elected by other Iraqis?

  22. I found some “Truth” for you all.

    “The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found.”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/19/AR2006041902594.html

    I find it almost incomprehensible that there are people who think this is even close to being worth it.

    Or who don’t recognize that the right of other citizens to decide on how best to spend the people’s money (for both public health and national defense purposes) has been totally usurped by those supporting the Iraq war “mission”.

  23. “The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found.”

    Wow. I cant believe we’re spending that kind of money. I suppose we should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. Thats what you’re saying right? Of course it was also costing billions to ‘contain’ Saddam, so that should probably be subtracted out.

    “I find it almost incomprehensible that there are people who think this is even close to being worth it. ”

    Yes, our return on investment is just not what was expected. We should surely be turning a profit by this point. Because thats why we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe we need a new business model.

    “Or who don’t recognize that the right of other citizens to decide on how best to spend the people’s money (for both public health and national defense purposes) has been totally usurped by those supporting the Iraq war “mission”.”

    Nothing has been more entertaining in the Bush years than liberals new found love for fiduciary responsibility. The party that kicked everybody into SS and medicare at the point of the governent sword is complaining about being forced to spend money on something they dont want. Ah, irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

  24. “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money”.

    Everett Dirksen (1896-1969), Illinois Republican Senator, civil rights proponent.

    But at least you brought real data to the table. Thanks!

    Seriously, I don’t think anybody believes the Iraq Project should be self-funding. (Now that would make it Imperialism.) If in the end we have to write the money off, well, in the world of International Finance (Hi, you-know-who!) that would be called “taking a big haircut”. But if in 10 years’ time Iraq looks more like Turkey than Syria, I for one will call it money well spent.

  25. Wizner: _I found some “Truth” for you all._

    Wow. Our country is spending less than half the amount that the country spends to entertain itself.

    Hmmm. I wonder how much of that money would have been spent with the military sitting idle and going through war games. Oh well, I’m sure you factored the real added cost of the war in your opinions. For example from the article you linked …

    _Defense officials and budget analysts point to a simple, unavoidable driver of the escalating costs. The cost of repairing and replacing equipment and developing new war-fighting materiel has exploded. In the first year of the invasion, such costs totaled $2.4 billion, then rose to $5.2 billion in 2004. This year, they will hit $26 billion, and could go as high as $30 billion, Kosiak said. On the other hand, at about $15 billion, personnel costs will drop 14 percent this year._

    Interesting. I wonder if we would have developed ‘new war-fighting materiel’ without actually needing them and testing them. I wonder if all that new tech and training will help if we do need to go to war with Iran, North Korea, etc. Personally I’m OK with this spending to get the kill ratio that we do.

    Now if you were talking about redirecting those funds into stuff that *you* think we should be spending money on. Well, can’t help you there. Sorry.

    Can you give me some examples of where the projects you are interested in have been _cut_ to pay for the war?

  26. Seriously, I don’t think anybody believes the Iraq Project should be self-funding. (Now that would make it Imperialism.)

    Oh. Really?

    I seem to remember a guy named Paul Wolfowitz, who said something like this:

    “There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” [Source: House Committee on Appropriations Hearing on a Supplemental War Regulation, 3/27/03]

    Oh, and there was a guy named Donald Rumsfeld, who said:

    “I don’t believe that the United States has the responsibility for reconstruction, in a sense…[Reconstruction] funds can come from those various sources I mentioned: frozen assets, oil revenues and a variety of other things, including the Oil for Food, which has a very substantial number of billions of dollars in it.” [Fortune Magazine, August 2002]

    Or Wolfowitz again:

    Enlisting countries to help to pay for this war and its aftermath would take more time, he said. “I expect we will get a lot of mitigation, but it will be easier after the fact than before the fact,” Mr. Wolfowitz said. Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high, and that the estimates were almost meaningless because of the variables. Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. “To assume we’re going to pay for it all is just wrong,” he said. New York Times, Feb. 2003.

  27. I didnt know Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz set official US policy- could have sworn that authority came from Congress and the President. They were asked and gave their opinions on what they thought would happen- they were wrong. That doesnt mean anything we did was predicated on those projections.

  28. Do we split costs between “Reconstruction” (i.e. rebuilding domestic infrastructure) and traditional military materiel costs? We may be mixing apples and oranges.

    On the other hand, until a functioning government exists in Iraq that is able to ethically fund its own reconstruction, I’m good with the U.S. bearing the burden one way or the other.

    To get all left-wing touchy-feely, its just the right thing to do.

  29. I don’t think anybody believes the Iraq Project should be self-funding.

    Why not? The first one was. The second one was sold as self funding, at least the reconstruction part.

    Of course it’s not really looking like anything that it was sold as. But don’t you dare call that a lie.

    How many billions for the Mother of all Embassies or the huge and quite permanent US bases.

    And consider that for just a moment. Spending billions on permanent bases without a SOF agreement or even a government to negotiate one with. Sheer folly. And should an Iraq government form and decide it doesn’t want a permanent US military presence what then? Withdraw?

    Don’t even think of being that naive.

  30. “The second one was sold as self funding, at least the reconstruction part.”

    To your mind, perhaps. I dont recall that ever being official policy. Who the heck is Paul Wulfowitz aside from the left’s boogieman? If the undersecretary for the interior told somebody he was going to seek the help of the Ents to shepherd the forests, is that suddenly official US policy?

    “How many billions for the Mother of all Embassies or the huge and quite permanent US bases. ”

    We should have spent more and built our own bases right away. Taking over Saddams palaces to operate out of was an idiotic blunder from a hearts and minds pov.
    That being said i’m not about to argue we havent squandered billions, and generally ineffectivley in reconstruction.

    “And should an Iraq government form and decide it doesn’t want a permanent US military presence what then? Withdraw? ”

    Yes. Are you really suggesting that if the Iraqi parliment/prime minister demanded the US leave Iraq asap we would stay? Are _you_ really that naive? We’ve had a blood letting with less than 1/5th of the population fighting us. You think we could stay if 3/5th more turned on us, not to mention the rest of the world? Of course we would leave, maybe breathing a sigh of relief that some fool had given us a clean out.

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