Arguments And Assumptions

There’s a technique of argumentation I call “burying the answer in the assumptions” where you frame a problem in such a way that the conclusions are forgone. I’m very careful of that style of discussion in my day job, because lots of it involves leading groups of people toward a consensus and I want to make sure it’s a genuine one.

Kevin Drum has a post up on the delusions of the pro-war crowd, and I’ll suggest that he’s neatly buried the answer in his assumptions:

OK, I know this is partly tongue in cheek. But as near as I can tell there are real answers:

1. They don’t believe Bush has fucked up the war. They think that most of the bad news from Iraq is just an invention of the anti-military liberal media.

2. To the extent that we are doing badly, they think it’s the fault of liberals who are undermining morale by criticizing the war.

3. Following up on #2, their biggest complaint with Bush isn’t that the war is going badly, but that it isn’t broad enough and brutal enough. If only we’d take the gloves off and stop fighting like liberal pussies, we’d be doing OK.

Yes, this is delusional. But they don’t think it’s Bush who has screwed up their war, it’s liberals. There is nothing that will ever change their minds about this.

Hmmm. Let me suggest an alternate way of looking at the question.

Why don’t the pro-war folks criticize Bush more? Well, in no small part because we know that any criticism of him will be used by opponents of the war to knock him down, and there is no one standing in line behind him who’s expressed any interest in doing anything except ending the war by giving up.

I’ll also suggest that each of Kevin’s charges really would be the basis for an interesting discussion instead of a backhanded dismissal.

Well, how is the war going? It’s complicated to figure out, and many of the indicators are certainly negative – but there are also positive indicators. How about the question of how it’s going and how we’d know? Kevin et alia pretty consistently dismiss any challenge to the CW on how the war is going as ‘political spin’ and the problem is that when you do that, there’s no way to sit down and try and sort out how to measure what’s really going on.

Well, given that it’s an insurgency, and that public stances matter because in part it’s a matter of convincing a population at risk that we’re serious about protecting them, so yes there is some cost to be borne in the perception of our seriousness because powerful interests are tugging at our sleeve and trying to pull us back from the table. So no, I reject the notion that calling for withdrawal or redeployment or whatever is treasonous or a betrayal – but I also reject the notion that it has no consequences in the conduct of the war.

Finally, well…yes, most counterinsurgencies are won by a combination of brutality and kindness. Do we have the right combination? I’m honestly not sure. I know we can get a lot more brutal, and that many folks – Iraqis in Iraq – are critical of us for not being brutal enough. But to take that question completely off the table once again contains the answer in the assumptions.

And I think that’s a bad thing, and not only because the answer Kevin is pushing for is one I disagree with. The path out of the kind of insane polarization we see in this country isn’t in dismissive handwaving (or flagwaving), it’s in good, solid argument. Let’shave some.

50 thoughts on “Arguments And Assumptions”

  1. There’s a fourth point. It is routinely dismissed without discussion.

    4. As long as foreign nationals are going to Iraq and dying in numbers far in excess of American military casualties, whatever is going on in Iraq is a plus in the War on Terror.

    Not “The War in Iraq”, mind, the more general fight. Zarqawi went to Iraq _specifically_ to fight us. The entire notion “What would he have done if we _had_not_ interfered in Iraq” is speculation. But… the number of things he could have done that come out as good for America are slim.

    We had a decade of tit-for-tat with escalating, successful followup activities every 9 months to a year after the last one.

    Now, instead of responding with a single proportional response, we’ve responded with _two_ _disproportional_ responses.

    You can mention a list of AQ activities (Bali…), but the list of successful targeting of American _civilians_ is undeniably low.

  2. My biggest beef with guys like Drum, as well as the “once-hawks” is their requirement that the war be fought perfectly, by brilliant generals and administrators who have flawless crystal balls and brilliant plans and policies perfectly executed, or we should abandon the field.

    You’ve got guys like Andrew Sullivan, who was a passionate advocate of the war until it was clear that it was not being fought perfectly, and who immediately shifted his stance and became a fervent anti-war zealot. The Economist’s editorial staff is pretty much identical in this regard: their standard of victory requires winning the war without any bad TV, any troublesome issues as to what to do with “irregular combatants”, etc. An aside: it’s clear that we would have done far better media-wise to just shoot the AQ’s we caught in Afghanistan – which would have been permitted under the Geneva Convention – than to imprison them at Gitmo: dead terrorists versus live, oppressed victims of American and Bushie evil.

    My own feeling about wars is they are very different from other “policies”. Once you’re in one, you’re in it. The only way you decide to lose a war is if that’s literally your only option, and this shouldn’t be driven by bad TV.

    Vietnam set a bad precedent in that many regard the abandoning of the field there as having been done without cost, and even interpret this as a sort of “victory”; the war was lost, but their political take on things prevailed. In their mind, this happened with little cost to the US, at least if you pay no attention to history, or take a narrow view that we somehow managed to get past Communism anyway. This is why the “Vietnam Narrative” is so important to opponents of the current war – they have an image that we can abandon the field with little cost. There may be some unpleasantness after we leave, but, yeah, whatever.

    My challenge to those who oppose the war: can you explain why you oppose it without referring to anyone in the Bush Administration? Why is it a bad policy, and why is losing it a better policy?

  3. The pro-war crowd had at least one year, and probably more like two years, when the anti-war crowd was politically marginalized and a lot smaller than it is now. You could have spent some of this time doing whatever you could to counteract the terrible mistakes that we made then and which are most likely unrecoverable from now. And you could have done that without giving such a large gift to the anti-war movement, not the way it would be now. But you didn’t do that. You spent it—you squandered it—in an orgy of Mission Accomplished self-congratulatory unhatched-chicken-counting.

    Rewind the tape.

    Rumsfeld, April 2003:Freedom’s untidy.…Stuff happens.

    David Brooks, April 2003: I’m curious about how all the war opponents are going to react if things continue to go well.… I suspect they will not even now admit their errors. I doubt the people of Europe will say: We were wrong. You really are the liberators of the Iraqi people. I doubt the Arab propagandists will say: We will never spread such distortions again. We will never again be so driven by resentment and dishonesty. Sad to say, human nature doesn’t work that way. The rump 15 percent of Americans who still oppose this war may perhaps grow more bitter, lost in the cul-de-sac of their own alienation.

    Christopher Hitchens, April 2003: So it turns out that all the slogans of the anti-war movement were right after all. And their demands were just. “No War on Iraq,” they said—and there wasn’t a war on Iraq. Indeed, there was barely a “war” at all. “No Blood for Oil,” they cried, and the oil wealth of Iraq has been duly rescued from attempted sabotage with scarcely a drop spilled. Of the nine oil wells set ablaze by the few desperadoes who obeyed the order, only one is still burning and the rest have been capped and doused without casualties. “Stop the War” was the call. And the “war” is indeed stopping.

    And why leave out the New Media?

    Belmont Club, April 2003: Now that the war in Iraq is over,…

    Even at this date, the commenters (although, just perhaps, not the OP), are more interested in indulging violent fantasies than any sort of improvement in American security, and grounded in the same unreality. The idea, for example, that we can afford 1.01:1 loss ratios with respect to foreign fighters in Iraq shows no understanding whatsoever of the potential recruitment of more anti-American forces,n ot to mention the alienation of Iraqi civilians who are dying like flies. Although statistics are hard to come by, we appear to have suffered about as many, perhaps more, casualties in the Revolutionary War than the British, so the entire premise is so much rubbish.

    Memo to pro-war side: you can’t unbreak an egg. You can only clean up the mess.

  4. AJL- We are not the ones doing the killing, Sir. It is their own that are the ones doing the killing of the Iraqis – their own fellow Arabs or whatever they wish to be called. I chose Islamofascist as the way to name the enemy because the definition fits.

    The “pro-war crowd” did not squander those two years. The US won the war whether the anti-war crowd likes it or not. Decisively, I might add. The anti-war apparatchiks just never stopped their constant carping and took over the public meme. They kept up with the ‘we are losing’ or ‘we are going to lose and make many more enemies in the process’ until they hit a point in time when it appeared to be true, then they trumpeted the ‘I told you so’s’ loudly and often. At that point they have kept up the loudness and the repetiveness of the meme until it appears to the casual observer to BE true. The Large Media (MSM) have taken up the cry because it fits their preconceived narrative – the US is losing (which should be interpreted as we want the US to appear to be losing because the party we approve of has lost elections and we don’t like it), the US is making more terrorists (because it is the only narrative that sells to the audience and ‘feels’ good to their fellow travelers which backs up the meme of the US is EEEEVVVVIILLL!) and the Rethuglicans and GW Bush are evil war profiteering neo-nazis because they are not like us, enlightened by our superior education and breeding.

    I may sound shrill but over the last few years that is the message I seem to hear from the DNC power base players, the Large Media bias (and it is plain to anyone with half and ear), the Hollyweird players (the Oprah-Sarandon-Robbins-Penn crowd along with half of the music industry and the Dixie Chicks) and anyone who has drunk from the koolaid chalice of the new Left.

    I am sorry but we are in a battle for the survival of our version of civilization. We did not define it as such the enemy did. That is plain to anyone who will bother to read OBL and Co’s writings with a small invertment of time and from the constant theme coming out of the Wahabbi mosques and the mullahe in Tehran. As to the mullahs in Iran, this has been their constant theme since 1979. Why do we not believe them? We cannot filter their message through our own cultural prejudices, they really do mean ‘Death to America’.

    /rant

  5. Foobarista – – “The only way you decide to lose a war is if that’s literally your only option, and this shouldn’t be driven by bad TV.”

    Yes, Sir! That nails it. It would appear that we (the US) are deciding we have lost (as we did decide in Vietnam). It is a sad day when we have in actuality won but decide we have lost and because of that decision do lose.

    Mayhaps OBL & Co are correct. We do not have the fortitude to be winners.

  6. Some people are unhappy with Bush but give him credit for his tenancy and his willingness to keep trying till he gets it write. Succes in Iraq is what is important not Bush bashing.

  7. I would challenge Drum and AJL to compare the “war” in Iraq as compared to the alternative, Saddam’s Iraq.

    We destroyed Iraq’s regime very quickly. This has positive effects in that it showed that absent nuclear weapons the US not only had the will but the ability to remove hostile regimes decisively.

    Saddam no longer runs Iraq, he’s been hanged. This and the three week war deposing him has had the effect of introducing fear into the calculations of hostile regimes.

    [The post-war uncorking of the Shia vs. Sunni struggle with the Shia inevitably winning is another matter, Saddam was left in place 1991 precisely for this reason as well as being a “counterweight” to Iran.]

    Consider Saddam in power, assiduously pursuing nuclear Weapons as the Duelfer Report said his regime was committed (to this policy); sanctions collapsed and Saddam offering safe haven and strategic partnership with Osama and Iran (as Clinton’s NSC suggested would happen).

    Saddam with the Oil-for-Food kickbacks alone was able to build palaces and ballistic missiles while his people starved. Given that sanctions were collapsing as well as the ability to conduct the no-fly zones, the partnership of Saddam and Osama would be extremely dangerous.

    Saddam had spent 12 years defying sanctions, kicking out inspectors, and conducting partnership with Osama and others who were conducting terrorist actions against the US. He already provided havens to various terrorists, including the one remaining 1993 WTC bomber at large. He publicly offered partnership with Osama (which formed part of Clinton’s DOJ 1998 indictment of Osama).

    Examine the established fact that Saddam had bribed France, Russia, and Germany as his protectors in the UN and sanctions busters. The idea that sanctions could continue given the amount of corruption and payoffs that are well established by Saddam to the leaders of those countries (and others, like the Peace Movement) is laughable.

    Further consider a nuclear race between Iran and Iraq with each offering deniable proxy groups such as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah or other groups nuclear weapons to attack each other OR the US to compete for patronage and influence in the Muslim world.

    The problem with AJL and Kevin Drum is that they do NOT consider the alternative of the war which was an unleashed Saddam.

    Not to mention that given that Saddam is gone, the cost of running away is high. Iran and Al Qaeda will fill that vacuum if the US is gone. Bush’s roll of the dice may not be as much a payoff as predicted, but the alternative was very likely to be even more costly.

    GWB by acting when he did may have bought time to have pushed back the nuking of an American city a few years, by removing Saddam as an object lesson and making the Iranians “go slow” as well as giving Pakistani military legit fears of handing off a nuke to Al Qaeda.

    [Anti-war critics lost credibility for years by predicting first a “bloodbath” defeat in Afghanistan ala Seymour Hersh shortly before Kabul fell, then another “bloodbath” or “Stalingrad 2″ right before Baghdad fell. What we can say is that anti-war critics have zero accuracy in predicting military events. I recall the LAT military correspondent (not sure if it was Arkin) predicting the US would lose 50,000 men in Baghdad alone.]

  8. The idea that the Bush administration had some sort of huge massive momentum that was squandered has been debunked so often that one would think that anyone would be embarrassed to be caught repeating it again, but obviously some people can’t be embarrassed. We see now that a lot of time was wasted in efforts to “legitimize” the invasion of Iraq that have been twisted to delegitimize it. Arguments against the war have been morphed, abandoned, resurrected and abandoned again – all the while chanting that supporters of the war are “delusional”. Again, the hypocrisy would embarrass anyone who had the introspection to be embarrassed.

    The opposition to the Iraq War has been leveraged by those who have anti-American intentions in attacking all American initiatives to ally with those sole goal is political power in America regardless of the harm done to our war against terror.

    Meanwhile, regardless of the course of operational and strategic events, we as a nation have important work to accomplish and actions like that of the House Democrats are the despicable actions of the juvenile.

  9. One of the unexpected side-effects of the liberal carping on (or hope for) a “loss” in Iraq is that the next war will be far more brutal and feature much less attention to trying to stand up a legitimate, democratically-elected government. The press has pretty much taken any long, patient approach off the table. The policy for the 2007-2020 time frame may well be, “screw with us and we’ll simply bomb you back to the stone age so you can’t screw with us again.”

    Of course, if we take that approach, we will indeed create all the hatred that the left side of the debate accuses us of creating as we try to stand up a democracy.

    And AJL – you show an almost complete ignorance of the facts on the ground with your comment about our “1.01:1 loss ratios.” Are you so completely uneducated about what is going on over there that you can make this comment and not be thoroughly embarrassed?

  10. Oh yes and to Jim Rockford – nice comment. The left seems all too happy to live with a happy-talk alternative history to the present course of action. If only we had left them alone, the thinking goes, surely the world would be happier and more peaceful. No mention is made of the fact that we exposed A.Q. Khan’s proliferation network, of Ghaddafi giving up his arms or of Iraq being off the table as a state sponsor of terror.

  11. The notion that “we won” the war, and that the “liberals” somehow have created the illusion of defeat out of our great victory is just laughable.

    Nobody serious, on either Left or Right, doubted that the US military would defeat the Iraqi military. There were some questions about exactly how long it would take, and how much damage the Iraqi military could inflict while going down, but nobody doubted the outcome.

    However, “winning” means imposing control on the territory and its population. We didn’t do that in 2003, and we’re still not there. We haven’t been routed, but neither have the guys we are fighting. That’s not victory.

    And why didn’t we win? In large part because the planners deliberately ignored the difficulty of controlling the country once the military had been defeated. The professional military knew that would be a problem, but Rumsfeld, et al were so consumed with their ability to blitzkrieg the Iraqi military that they ignored the rest of the problem, and it cost them the victory.

    This is not “liberal defeatism”. This is military failure. Malpractice even.

  12. There is also what I consider another BIG question that the pro-war crowd doesn’t seem to feel much like looking at. Is it possible to win a war that a large majority of the American people no longer believe in supporting ?

  13. Ah, Beard, imagine the effrontery of invading a country without a foolproof occupation plan, the entire occupation bureacracy and a complete re-equipped, trained and newly doctrined occupation force already having been created! Why, sheer effrontery to so dare!

    Everyone knows of course that the deployment of forces on a short timetable, and the planning of an invasion operation were certainly not keeping Central Command and associated commands in the office much later than lunch.

    Yes, if they hadn’t “deliberately ignored” the problem of occupation, they would have missed their afternoon naps. Instead, a lot of people worked hard to develop solutions to a lot of problems that had been predicted in occupying Iraq – found that they had solved some, but not anticipated others and that events eclipsed yet other issues.

  14. John Ryan – “Is it possible to win a war that a large majority of the American people no longer believe in supporting?”

    Uh, no. Go read Ralph Peters. The side that decides who won the war/battle is the one who says “Okay, STOP, I lost!” Which is just about what the US with the help of the Liberal Left and a Democrat controlled Congress is to do. So, we are going to withdraw, OBL & Co. are going to say “I told you so! They do not have the stomach for it! We won!” No one from the US is going to dispute that and the Jihadistas will have won in a de facto fashion.

    The really sad part is that I believe they may be correct. The ‘majority’ of the body politic may be in that position.

    The Hobo

  15. How bad is it going? Not as bad as Carrhae. For anyone even vaguely rational, the answer is, it’s going terribly. It has now lasted longer for the States than WW2. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead; the infrastructure of that nation is still in tatters; there’s an ongoing civil war; and the US is achieving nothing much. The only thing Drum got wrong was that he hasn’t noticed that the right is blaming it all on Iran now.

    Still, I expect there were even commentators in Rome who denied that the war in Parthia had gone badly, just as Hitler in his bunker insisted he could still win right up to the day the Russians entered the street his bunker was in. The myth will always be more attractive than reality for some.

  16. Gee, Dr. Zen, nice move – because no one who disagrees with your conclusions (note that few hard facts are on the table) can be “vaguely rational” and thus worth discussing things with.

    A pluperfect demonstration of the point I was making. And no, I don’t know him and he’s not a shill…

    A.L.

  17. #4 from Robohobo: “The US won the war whether the anti-war crowd likes it or not.”

    I think it might be more accurate to say the United States (and allies, mostly the UK) won “a” war. I question whether that was “the” war, the only war.

    #12 from Beard: “However, “winning” means imposing control on the territory and its population.”

    No it doesn’t. In preventive warfare, simply writing down enemy resources is a worthwhile goal. This is why one can have “winning” naval operations like the Grand Scuttle. (This is also why I suggest withdrawing from Iraq: a big Sunni-Shiite war, preferably on the scale of the Iran-Iraq war, if not better, would not give us control of enemy populations and resources, but would write off lots of hostile (Islamic) military resources – a win. And indeed a bigger, more destructive win than anything we can achieve through actions we would be willing to take ourselves.)

    One can win without dominating the population in another way. This is called “liberation”, and it is what George W. Bush is all about. I don’t think it is the wisest policy, because it runs into the intractable realities of Islam and jihad, but the idea of winning through liberating people rather than controlling them is not in itself contradictory.

    #16 from Dr Zen: “How bad is it going? Not as bad as Carrhae.”

    Indeed. There is no Surenas among our enemies, as far as one can see. That’s good.

  18. I’m about halfway through TPM Barnett’s “The Pentagon’s New Map”, and it has given me a way to think about ‘the war in Iraq’ in the context that I have been trying to triangulate for a long time. I use the scare quotes because one of the deepest assumptions that both sides make is that there is an exit strategy in the GWOT. There is none, just as there wasn’t an exit strategy to the Cold War. One side has to win, one side has to lose. But the way the arguments are generally presented, we have Americans believing that America has to lose (in order to win?).

    What hasn’t been articulated by either party is the context to which Iraq is just a very large battle in a larger conflict. Nor has the battle for Iraq been appropriately contextualized with regard to regional affairs. That is why both sides are rather obsessed with reporting on the ground and trying to box the conflict into a nice standalone package (which is either a disaster or ‘yet still winnable’). To talk about Iraq alone is the mistake because then you can devolve questions to the probity of GWBush’s pre-emption. The problem is all of those metrics hang on whether or not we ‘win’ in Iraq. Both sides cannot agree on the terms of victory because both sides just want to be right about Iraq.

    It’s not about Iraq.

    And now that is becoming clear, and the focus has changed somewhat to Iran, the anti-war contingent is suggesting that Bush’s ‘warmongering’ pre-emption is now just casting about for a new target. Iranians believe precisely the same thing.

    What is lost in most of this is the neoconservative geopolitical project, now almost casually dismissed as debunked, which situated the US into the position of nation-building bodyguard for the world in the first place. This debate has been cast aside and no lessons learned really applied to it other than ‘Feith was an idiot’ and ‘Fukyama quit’ and ‘Bremer screwed up’ and ‘Where is Wolfowitz now?’. This failure to answer the fundamental question of what America is doing engaging the world in the first place, leaves all foreign policy decisions at the level of partisan blame. Partisan blame is enough when the long view isnt’ discussed. That’s where we are now – with four year old arguments about WMD.

    It is right to consider what the American strategic vision is with regard to our shared interest in defeating terrorism. And until that is articulated clearly within America, the possibilities of establishing a global coalition are slim. I find that Democrats, would willingly undermine the Bush Administration in order to try to establish almost any diplomatic brownie points outside of the US. The Republicans will gloat over any battlefield victory (or downplay any defeat) in order to justify the Administration’s moves, whether or not they work coherently at a high level. Each party claims to be the true Americans, but neither can agree on American interests. As soon as the argument devolves to body counts and Vietnam codewords, we may as well start talking about Nazis again. (Godwin’s Law).

    I like Barnett’s strategic vision, and it is never too late to talk about strategic worldviews. But until we do that, we do little more than Shi’a and Sunni ourselves, and it ought to be obvious how we are thusly weakening our central government.

  19. I’d just like to point out one thing in particular you’ve said here that undermines the rest of your post, AL, and leave it at that:

    bq. Why don’t the pro-war folks criticize Bush more? Well, in no small part because we know that any criticism of him will be used by opponents of the war to knock him down, and there is no one standing in line behind him who’s expressed any interest in doing anything except ending the war by giving up.

    Are there buried assumptions here? Sure are: that there’s no such thing as constructive criticism, and that the only choice people have is between the Bush approach to terrorism as-is, warts and all, or utter surrender. Here’s a crazy idea, AL, but isn’t it possible that pro-Iraq-war people joining with anti-Iraq-war people to criticize some of the more egregious misteps of the war, especially early on, might have resulted in a better execution of the war? And in turn wouldn’t that have:

    1) Made the US more successful in Iraq than it currently is?

    2) Kept some of the people who are currently against the war’s mismanagement on your side of the argument?

    3) Partially defanged critics of the war by depriving them of some of their more explosive talking points?

    Look, you end your post by decrying insane polarization and urging more “good, solid argument”. But as long as you’ve got this buried assumption that it’s Bush’s way or nothing (shared by more than a few commenters on this thread) then you’re not stepping away from polarization at all – you’re just trying for more rhetorical churn where some people might jump from one side of the knife’s edge to the other, instead of finding common ground in the middle.

    Something to ponder.

  20. Here’s a crazy idea, AL, but isn’t it possible that pro-Iraq-war people joining with anti-Iraq-war people to criticize some of the more egregious misteps of the war, especially early on, might have resulted in a better execution of the war?

    I don’t think so, Chris. Before I explain why I don’t think so, let me place myself in the policy spectrum. I opposed the invasion of Iraq (for a host of reasons including that I didn’t believe that Mr. Bush had enough political support within the country to achieve his stated objectives) but I believe that precipitate withdrawal from Iraq (precipitate defined as before Iraq is more stable than it is now) would be worse by nearly every standard than keeping troops in place there. The ISG Report has a pretty good precis of why this is so.

    The invasion of Iraq had several objectives:

    1) Eliminate Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.
    2) Remove Saddam Hussein’s government.
    3) Replace his government with a stable democratic government friendly to the US.

    We achieved the first two objectives early on. The third objective was unachievable in a timeframe politically possible in the US. The only remaining institutions in Iraq after 30 years of Saddam, once his government had been eliminated, were those of tribe and religious faction. Of course those re-asserted themselves after a year of discovering that there were no other institutions on which to build a society.

    It will take a generation or more of institution-building before the third objective will be possible. We didn’t create that situation; that was the situation as it was when Saddam’s government was no more.

    Perhaps if everything had been done absolutely perfectly—if de-Ba’athification hadn’t happened; if there had been no corruption; if there had been no Abu Ghraib; if there had been no incidents of crimes by American soldiers, and so on;—it might have been a little easier to plant the seeds for new institutions. But the seeds would still have taken far longer to germinate than a fractious American political situation would have allowed.

    But Americans, too, are imperfect and all of those things happened (as inevitably except for de-Ba’athification I think they would) and provided plenty of fodder for all of the people here, in the Middle East, and in Iraq to use against us.

    I don’t see that as having much to do with the difficulty of achieving the third objective.

    But, then, I opposed the invasion to begin with.

  21. I repeat, squandered.

    It’s rather telling that instead of focusing on the screw-ups after the occupation of Baghdad, Robin is talking about some sort of pre-war “legitimization”.

    OK, let’s give a few examples. We could have shot looters. We didn’t (except if they were threatening the Oil Ministry). Funny how pro-war types who wish we’d done more torture, assassination, carpet bombing, and general mayhem shy away from examining this simple example where there weren’t any liberals in the way, there weren’t any JAGs in the way, there weren’t any Geneva Conventions in the way, all that was in the way, AFAICT, was Donald Rumsfeld’s Chauncey Gardiner philosophy that Freedom is Untidy. Here’s another one: We could have sent real experts in public health, instead of vetting their views on abortion. We could have opened up contracting to the whole world, but, no, we blackballed countries that weren’t down with Operation He-Tried-to-Kill-My-Daddy. By the most remarkable coincidence, our infrastructure reconstruction has been a complete failure. We spent billions of dollars, much of it apparently in cash, on various projects, and when we are all done, we’ll find that analogous to Fordyce v. Fordyce, the overhead paid to US-based, GOP-connected corporations drained almost everything away.

    Robin is left with the argument that our planning and execution didn’t squander anything. Well, how the hell do you explain the fact we’re nowhere near the pre-war projection of 5000 USA troops total in Iraq for 2007? Oh, yeah. The liberals and the JAGs, and that powerhouse of American politics, International ANSWER. The American public soured on this war not only because we didn’t attain what most people were the objectives—the WoC crowd talks about how they always knew that our invasion was intended to set off a decades-long guerrilla war in increasingly hostile territory, but even supposing that these self-serving avowals are true, which I doubt [cf. Belmont Club link above], they don’t speak for most of the American people—but also because there is no sense of responsibility to attain goals at the top, either at the White House or at the political echelon of the Pentagon. As I said, for Bush this was the photo-op war, from his enhanced-crotch carrier landing to the Thanksgiving Turkey to the Purple Fingers (so good for GOP electoral chances, you know).

    As the Israelis learned in the 1982 Lebanon War, there is a time dimension to occupations, and even foreign troops who are greeted as liberators eventually wear out their welcome. That’s why it’s so likely that even now that we are sending our A-Team, it’s probably too late. (In this way, the Real World is different from the video games Pres. Bush likes, where pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del after you’ve been owned gives you a fresh start.)

    It’s time to wrap this post up. Let me just state that I once trained as a mathematician, and retain an affection for counterexamples. I didn’t literally claim that our kill ratio with respect to the so-called foreign fighters is 1.01:1, as Wildmonk seems to have read. What I am showing is that the theory that we are “winning” as long as we kill more of them than they kill of us is falsified by the American Revolution. I didn’t even emphasize then how revealing it is that the tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians who are neither Americans nor these elusive foreign fighters (how exactly are we quantifying them, and with what precision?) don’t enter into the calculation at all? What sort of support or even neutrality can be expect from Iraqis for turning them into cannon fodder, unbidden, for our battle with so-called foreign fighters? In my next post I’ll turn to why no amount of “will” in the world overcomes a strategic disaster like that.

  22. I repeat, squandered.

    It’s rather telling that instead of focusing on the screw-ups after the occupation of Baghdad, Robin is talking about some sort of pre-war “legitimization”.

    OK, let’s give a few examples. We could have shot looters. We didn’t (except if they were threatening the Oil Ministry). Funny how pro-war types who wish we’d done more torture, assassination, carpet bombing, and general mayhem shy away from examining this simple example where there weren’t any liberals in the way, there weren’t any JAGs in the way, there weren’t any Geneva Conventions in the way, all that was in the way, AFAICT, was Donald Rumsfeld’s Chauncey Gardiner philosophy that Freedom is Untidy. Here’s another one: We could have sent real experts in public health, instead of vetting their views on abortion. We could have opened up contracting to the whole world, but, no, we blackballed countries that weren’t down with Operation He-Tried-to-Kill-My-Daddy. By the most remarkable coincidence, our infrastructure reconstruction has been a complete failure. We spent billions of dollars, much of it apparently in cash, on various projects, and when we are all done, we’ll find that analogous to Fordyce v. Fordyce, the overhead paid to US-based, GOP-connected corporations drained almost everything away.

    Robin is left with the argument that our planning and execution didn’t squander anything. Well, how the hell do you explain the fact we’re nowhere near the pre-war projection of 5000 USA troops total in Iraq for 2007? Oh, yeah. The liberals and the JAGs, and that powerhouse of American politics, International ANSWER. The American public soured on this war not only because we didn’t attain what most people thought were the objectives—the WoC crowd talks about how they always knew that our invasion was intended to set off a decades-long guerrilla war in increasingly hostile territory, but even supposing that these self-serving avowals are true, which I doubt [cf. Belmont Club link above], they don’t speak for most of the American people—but also because there is no sense of responsibility to attain goals at the top, either at the White House or at the political echelon of the Pentagon. As I said, for Bush this was the photo-op war, from his enhanced-crotch carrier landing to the Thanksgiving Turkey to the Purple Fingers (so good for GOP electoral chances, you know).

    As the Israelis learned in the 1982 Lebanon War, there is a time dimension to occupations, and even foreign troops who are greeted as liberators eventually wear out their welcome. That’s why it’s so likely that even now that we are sending our A-Team, it’s probably too late. (In this way, the Real World is different from the video games Pres. Bush likes, where pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del after you’ve been owned gives you a fresh start.)

    It’s time to wrap this post up. Let me just state that I once trained as a mathematician, and retain an affection for counterexamples. I didn’t literally claim that our kill ratio with respect to the so-called foreign fighters is 1.01:1, as Wildmonk seems to have read. What I am showing is that the theory that we are “winning” as long as we kill more of them than they kill of us is falsified by the American Revolution. I didn’t even emphasize then how revealing it is that the tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians who are neither Americans nor these elusive foreign fighters (how exactly are we quantifying them, and with what precision?) don’t enter into the calculation at all? What sort of support or even neutrality can be expect from Iraqis for turning them into cannon fodder, unbidden, for our battle with so-called foreign fighters? In my next post I’ll turn to why no amount of “will” in the world overcomes a strategic disaster like that.

  23. Why is Iraq failure Beard? As opposed to the alternative to do nothing?

    Unleashing the Sunni-Shia fight in Iraq allows the US more freedom of action. It makes the support of Sunni regimes like Saudi for Osama potentially more costly (as a loss of Saddam as an Iranian counterbalance leaves only the US).

    Yes Iraq is filled with death and carnage. It was filled with it under Saddam too, only CNN did not broadcast it to curry favor with Saddam as they have admitted.

    ALL options sucked, were filled with considerable pain, and had significant downsides. The advantage of taking down Saddam is that it allowed the US to leverage it’s big advantage (conventional military superiority) in a way that let the US not Saddam and Iran dictate the actions.

    If GWB is to be faulted it is for hunkering down and paying the least bit of attention to his Dem critics who predicted: a. “quagmire” in Afghanistan before Kabul fell; b. a “Stalingrad” in Baghdad before Baghdad fell. A more active and “seize the initiative” President who ordered retaliation on both Iran and Syria to disrupt the regimes and disable their ability to project force externally and internally was the big missed opportunity.

    OF COURSE the Sunni and Shia would start killing each other (as opposed to the Sunni merely killing the Shia) once Saddam was gone. That was always the risk and the argument made by James Baker in 1991. Predicted but never happened:

    1991 style oil fields alight and ecological disaster.
    Immediate swarms of 10 million refugees from Iraq.
    Immediate ME-wide war as Saudi and Iran and Turkey all fought over the Iraqi carcass.

    The Sunni are slowly being cleansed from Iraq and will all move to Syria or Jordan. This was inevitable anyway after Saddam died as the Sunni only make up 20% and the Shia 60% of Iraq’s population. War over Iraq’s carcass may indeed occur if the US withdraws. Since Saddam was not immortal that would have happened anyway.

    At least US troops are there NOW and have if DC has the political will, freedom of action to make things happen. To my way of thinking the ability to use conventional military force instead of merely passively reacting is a better options, but Dems nearly always vote for passivity in foreign affairs.

    I am still waiting for a Dem response to the advantages of do nothing over act.

    John Ryan — the alternative to GWB’s policies is “nuke em till they glow, shoot em in the dark” which is IMHO the crowning achievement of Dem policies. Americans no longer believe Muslims worth much of any effort to liberalize them, nor capable of anything but continued slaughter of themselves and others. This makes say pre-emptive nuking of Iran as a threat to us far more likely and indeed quite sensible to most Americans after Al Qaeda and Iran claim victory.

    AJL — I’ll note you cannot address the central issue: is it better for the US to merely react to events and do the min possible after 9/11 or drive events by using conventional military forces instead of “do nothing” until a mass terror attack forces a nuke retaliation?

    I do not expect it ever to be addressed since Libs by definition view the world as the “Small World” Disneyland ride.

  24. “Well, how is the war going? It’s complicated to figure out, and many of the indicators are certainly negative – but there are also positive indicators.”

    It’s because of statements like this, and including the previous Examiner article, that I am confident that this “pro-war” position is going to be more and more dismissed, as time goes on.

    What is ignored?

    Well, the initial reason for going to Iraq, and the false way it was sold.

    Simply based on THAT, the war as such was a failure, since the reasons why we went into Iraq were ephemeral, and the rationale non-existent.

    Second – the initial expectations – set by false claims of cost – “no more than 10 billion” being one Wolfowitz claim.

    So, regarding the original reasons for going to Iraq, they are cynical.

    Now – it IS TRUE, that sometimes cynical reasons offered for an overthrow of who the U.S. considers a “bad guy” are given, but the overthrow goes pretty well, for the U.S.

    Manuel Noriega is an example of this. It most likely is the case, that the U.S pre-emptively overthrew Noriega, and then installed a guy who, luckily, had actually been elected a couple of years earlier – but never took power because Noriega prevented it.

    This is another example of the fine sense of realpolitik which the elder Bush had.

    In one circumstance, elder Bush DOES overthrow, and “right” a bad situation with Noriega (which the U.S. helped to create a decaded earlier).

    But in the 1st Gulf War, Bush, who could have easily gone into and overthrew Saddam, doesn’t do so. Like a good international realist, he recognized the LIMITS of U.S. power, and what the U.S. could do, without the cooperation of the region.

    Cheney, and the younger Bush, did not have this vision.

    So, even judging by a “cynical” interpretation, whereby the ostensible reason we go into iraq – for WMD’s – is known by the elite to be false, or more of a pretext, to advance other U.S. goals, the younger Bush fails again, to realize the limits and consequences of its action, given the witches brew of a society scarred by violence for 20 years, the tribal nature of Iraq’s various interests.

    Instead, we get the tar baby of current Iraq.

    The biggest problem, as alwasy, with A.L.’s postion, is its non-falsifiability.

    Basically, there is NO WAY in his view for staying in Iraq to be a bad thing, no matter how many troops, how much money, how much chaos, happens in Iraq.

    No falsifiability at all. Which means he is out there in an ideologue position, that is not impacted by the facts on the ground.

    But the drumbeat of both U.S. soldier deaths, the chaos of sectarian strife, the news of nearly a trillion dollars spent wears on, the strain on our military, the tatters of our international reputation, most rational and common sense people simply figure out “what they heck are we doing over there?? Get our people out!!”

    That, of course, will only continue. Despite A.L’s longterm view – decades, right? – whereby all bad news is interpreted as “small bumps” in progress, and all goods news is trumpeted loudly (purple thumbs anyone?)

    Even the “Iraq is f%$ked” post, doesn’t challege the strategy. Because, A.L. has his whole self invested in identifying the strategy. So “the strategy” can never be f#$ked.

  25. Dave-

    I don’t think it particularly matters what your original stance on the Iraq war was. However, I will note that believing Iraq couldn’t be turned into a democracy in the time frame GWB was talking about puts you in the company of guys like Matt Yglesias, and pretty strongly against guys like Armed Liberal, at least as far as the underlying theory (as opposed to the current strategic options) is concerned.

    That being the case, I’ll let you argue the theory of transformative warfare with AL, for the most part. As for the rest, if you honestly feel that the competence, or lack thereof, of the prosecution of the war makes essentially no difference on the ground, then you’re welcome to your opinion. If you believe the level of screw-ups we saw from the Bush administration were unavoidable, and we’d have seen similar botches from other people in the White House, you’re welcome to believe that as well. And if you’re comfortable lumping US citizens at home voicing criticism about things like troop levels and Abu Ghraib in with those in the Middle East and Iraq fighting the US in a propaganda war, that’s your right as well.

    I will note, however, that such opinions put you in a pretty sizable minority, even among pro-war people.

    I should also point out that although the ISG report warned that bad things will almost assuredly happen if we withdraw, it was also very clear that what we’re currently doing is not working, and that staying as we currently are is at least as untenable.

  26. Chris – I’ve said that I was pretty wrong about my enthusiasm for the elections(and even contradicted myself – in an old post,I was critical of the notion that democracy could be transplanted like roses…

    But could Iraq have been transformed into a stable in 18 – 24 months? No way I ever said that. I was always in the ‘long war’ camp. And remain there…

    A.L.

  27. bq. But could Iraq have been transformed into a stable in 18 – 24 months? No way I ever said that. I was always in the ‘long war’ camp. And remain there…

    AL, when did I ever say different? What does any of this have to do with my post #19?

  28. bq. *I don’t think it particularly matters what your original stance on the Iraq war was.*

    bq. Sure it does. Because I’m not “pro-war”. I’m anti-chaos.

    Ok, insofar as labels like that are important to you, go nuts. Insofar as they’re used as a shorthand for talking about who you side with as far as Iraqi war policy, it’s something of a distinction without a difference, unless you’re trying to imply that people who _don’t_ hold your views are somehow “pro-chaos”.

    Now, did you want to talk about anything more substantive, like what the ISG report actually says, or what?

  29. Look folks, Americans are turning against the war more and more. I think we can all agree upon that. The question should really be why.

    And the answer is as obvious as the nose on your face.

    Cost estimates at 50 billion dollars upper end. Pie in the sky predictions that most sentient people, like AL, knew were pure lunacy.

    Basically claim after claim, promise after promise, that not only didn’t come true, but that those making the claims knew, or at least should have known, would never come true.

    So just a hint guys. The next time you get an itchin for some regime change. For a monumental foreign policy shift that will take decades or longer to achieve through military intervention. Just tell us all the truth.

    And if you leaders are saying things you know aren’t the truth, step away from them. Object loudly and strenuously. Make it clear that, though you support the policy, you don’t agree with the promises being offered.

    That didn’t happen here. Not with AL, his claims not withstanding, nor with any of the the war supporters.

    So don’t get all down in the face when your country turns on you and says “no way jose”.

    Keep in mind. If you can’t sell the public on a war honestly. You’ll never keep them behind you once you start it.

  30. So just a hint guys. The next time you get an itchin for some regime change. For a monumental foreign policy shift that will take decades or longer to achieve through military intervention. Just tell us all the truth.

    That assumes that the Democrats wanted to discuss things on the level of truth and what is good for the country at a difficult and complex nexus in history, rather than sabotage the foreign efforts for short-term political gain.

  31. That assumes that the Democrats wanted to discuss things on the level of truth and what is good for the country at a difficult and complex nexus in history, rather than sabotage the foreign efforts for short-term political gain.

    Yes, well, if you assume that 49% (or is it 51%) of the country are actually traitors, then deception, authoritarianism, patently unlawful behavior, and torture all become necessary, don’t they? The level of projection here is staggering. We know that Bush and the Republicans were willing to lie and deceive for short-term political gain because that’s exactly what they did from 9/12 to the present day. And then, lo and behold, car bombs started to go off and the Emperor had no clothes. But rather than confront what happened when the American people sussed this out, rather indeed than admit it happened at all, this disastrous policy becomes a pre-emptive strike against the same behavior that might have been done by Democrats. You guys are overfond of preemption. It’s become an excuse to let paranoid ids run free.

  32. AJL,

    If the President didn’t tell you you heard it here plenty of times.

    This like the War with Communism is going to be a multi decade struggle. Here is a Congressman who gets it:

    Congressman Manzullo Against Cut And Run

    excerpt:

    Madam Speaker, I am privileged to be a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Our chairman, Mr. Lantos, has scheduled for March a hearing to discuss the different proposals relating to the handling of the war in Iraq. He has promised a lot of time for debate on all the different bills introduced in the House of Representatives, ranging from those that call for us to pull out of Iraq immediately, to those that demonstrate our presence there as part of a larger war, not against a nation, but against a movement, Islamic jihadis. They are everywhere and are responsible for attacks in India, Jordan, Israel, England, Egypt, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the Gaza, Morocco, Pakistan and in the United States and Iraq.

  33. This like the War with Communism is going to be a multi decade struggle. Here is a Congressman who gets it:

    Yes, all kinds of folks either seem to have retroactively “got it” or just now decided to pipe up about it.

    Can’t let those dominos fall… again. (Huh?)

  34. Oh, and by the way.

    If the President didn’t tell you you heard it here plenty of times.

    Prior to the invasion someone here posted that we should ignore all the claims being made by the Administration and prepare for a 10 year plus war in Iraq?

    Err.. OK. If you say so.

    Got a link to that post?

  35. Uh, Davebo, yeah. Both here and at Amred Liberal (which will be coming back soon!) I posted that the war would take a long time, cost a lot, etc. etc.

    To refresh your memory:

    We’re in this for the long haul. We don’t get to ‘declare victory and go home’ when the going gets tough, elections are near, or TV shows pictures of the inevitable suffering that war causes. The Marshall Plan is a bad example, because the Europe that had been devastated by war had the commercial and entrepreneurial culture that simply needed stuff and money to get restarted. And we’re good with stuff and money. This is going to take more, and we’re going to have to be willing to figure it out as we go.

    There are no good examples of this that I can think of in history. The postwar reconstruction of Japan comes the closest, and it’s not necessarily a good example, because the Japanese by WWII were a coherent, unified, hierarchical society that could be changed by fiat from the top. The Robert Kaplan-esque world we’re moving toward isn’t.

    That was at armedliberal.com in early 2003.

    A.L.

  36. Davebo – Please read the following and report back:

    “This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

    Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a *lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.* It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.”

    From this link:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html

    And one of the reasons I came to WoC was just the viewpoint expressed by AL and many others here. Too often I find the ‘oppostion party’ has no clearly defined views or options to existing policies, just opposition. Dr. Sanity puts it best and named it “Bush Derangement Syndrome”. I did not like GWB the 43rd from the start, but I think he did and is doing an admirable job with the hand he was dealt. The hand he was dealt and it’s causes will be debated for decades to come, I think.

    The Hobo

    (And why the ‘Hobo”? Because if my posts are tracked via IP source you will find they come from all over the map upon occasion. Figure out the Robo for yourself.)

  37. Hmmm. Looking at Robohobo’s datestamp, that long struggle was the War on Terror. I’d be tempted to agree. The struggle for justice and freedom has been going on since Cain and Abel and I don’t expect it to end any time soon.

    I think Davebo (and I) are talking about the particular, misplaced, front we opened, allegedly as part of this war, in Iraq. And we know just how long the U.S. military thought that was going to go on; we have the Power Points. And we didn’t need the Power Points, because we know the rotation-home schedule they had in mind for 2003, with 40,000 troops remaining by Christmas 2003. Another source says Rumsfeld wanted an initial invasion of only 40,000, and after the war began planned for almost complete withdrawal by September 2003. By late 2003, it was 50,000 remaining in mid-2005. W and his codpiece landed on the carrier deck and told America it was Mission Accomplished and “Bring ‘em on”.

    Our “accomplishments” in the actual event are rather different. Besides the continuing need for surging, we’ve killed, I don’t know, maybe 100,000 Iraqi civilians, maybe more, worse than under Saddam. Say, 1,000,000-plus refugees and the near-complete destruction of the secular, educated middle class and the small Christian community? Iraqi living conditions? Electricity, sanitation, water, all stagnant and near or worse than pre-war levels.

    In terms of our own security, estimates are that the number of anti-American insurgents in Iraq is ten-fold greater than three years ago, nor, contrary to the flypaper fantasy, is this because of some exhaustion of the terrorist pool elsewhere in the Middle East. Instead, we have grown the pool. Neither Al Qaeda nor any other radical group has recruitment difficulties, judging from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Lebanon.

    The whole operation was stupid and historians will be trying to understand for decades what ever they could have been thinking. (In some cases we do know: they were thinking Ahmad Chalabi would set up a pro-American pro-Zionist regime, and it’s amazing that the idiots who believed this 4-1-9 scam writ large are still players in the American polity.)

    I can’t imagine how it could have been bungled worse.

  38. The whole operation was stupid and historians will be trying to understand for decades what ever they could have been thinking.

    That if the Arab world’s most secular nation, with a pluralistic populace, some support for women’s rights and the resources of the second largest oil reserves in the world, can’t transition to a state that is compatible with modernity, then there’s no hope anywhere in the Arab world? That if liberal democracy doesn’t work in Iraq, then what options are left? That democratization wasn’t so much a plan as a hope and a prayer because the alternatives are too horrible to ponder?

    But democratization hasn’t worked in Iraq. Perhaps it’s time to start pondering the alternatives…

  39. “That if the Arab world’s most secular nation, with a pluralistic populace, some support for women’s rights”

    Is this really your view of pre-war Iraq? If so, why should we take anything you have to say seriously?

    Saddam may have been “secular” (though one wonders how “Allah Is Greatest” ended up on the Iraqi flag.. someone must have snuck it on there while Saddam wasn’t looking?) but the civil society he and the Ba’ath created was horrific. It’s wonderful that you think the “population” is/was pluralistic.. but the *society* of pre-war Iraq was clearly anything but pluralistic.

    “some support for women’s rights” … talk about damning with faint praise…

    Criminey!

    =darwin

  40. SG, war and invasion is not “transition”. We thought it would be work out to play 52-pickup with another country. It didn’t.

  41. #45

    You’re absolutely right that I’m damning with faint praise. And Iraq’s the best of the bunch. Think about what that implies for the rest of the region….

    #46

    Yup, it didn’t work out. I’m inclined to agree with John Burns’ (you know, from that noted Bush mouthpiece The New York Times) assessment:

    “I think that the instincts that led to much that went wrong were good American instincts: the desire not to have too heavy of a footprint, the desire to empower Iraqis.

    […]

    “And my guess is that history will say that the forces that we liberated by invading Iraq were so powerful and so uncontrollable that virtually nothing the United States might have done, except to impose its own repressive state with half a million troops, which might have had to last ten years or more, nothing we could have done would have effectively prevented this disintegration that is now occurring.”

    It would have been a great thing to have a functioning Arabic, Islamic democracy. It took the 30 Years War for Europe to reach the Enlightenment. Iraq was an attempt to bring Islam to that endtsate while bypassing the horror. It failed. What’s next?

  42. SG, there were a lot of other countries in the Middle East we could have tried to steer towards democracy non-violently. Jordan. Qatar (actually, Qatar was doing pretty well without us). Can you imagine what $1 trillion of investment in Jordan would have wrought? (Oh, yeah, not enough would have flowed back to Cheneyburton.)

    Creating democracy in Iraq wasn’t even Number One on the Administration’s reasons list, and although I suppose we would have been happy to have it work out, it probably resonated in fewer Bushbot hearts than the Goldberg/Ledeen doctrine: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” That didn’t work out, either.

  43. #48:

    Actually, I believe we’ve tried to steer Lebanon toward democracy non-violently, but that hasn’t worked out so well either. $1 trillion in investment in Jordan would have bought a (much) richer version of Egypt. How much money have we poured into Egypt, and with what results? Or for that matter, look anywhere in the world (particularly sub-Saharan Africa) and point out to me the places where dumping in tons of money has effected a fundamental and positive change in the social order? Corruption we can buy, democracy? Not so much…

    I disagree with your assertion that democracy in Iraq wasn’t number one on the reasons list. Look at how much blood, treasure and political capital has been spent over the last three years, and to what purpose. Creating an Iraqi democracy looks like GWB’s white whale; it hardly seems an afterthought.

    And I strongly disagree with the implication that there’s some simple formula that would make the Middle East into anything other than a cesspool. For what it’s worth, creating a regional conflict doesn’t seem like a bad fallback position. Islam may need to have its own 30 Years War, but there’s no reason that we need to fight in it. I don’t think Bushitlercheneyburton is Machiavellian enough to do that, though…

  44. SG, if Bush is so big on spreading democracy, why aren’t we chasing down Robert Mugabe?

    As Paul Wolfowitz breezily admitted, the WMD unicorn quest was the only thing everyone could agree on, so it was Reason Number One. Besides improving the lot of the Iraqi people—one would have guessed we could at least have improved their lot materially over the sanctions-burdened Saddam regime, but the guess would have been wrong—we had the Goldberg-Ledeen Doctrine, the Cheney-Hanson doctrine that Great Leaders Must Have Brutal Wars, the Chalabi Dupes, W’s desire to show up his Dad who let Saddam live, W’s desire to avenge his dad for Saddam’s alleged death plot, Rummy’s plan to show off his military genius (starting on the afternoon of 9/12). You’re reasoning backwards in saying

    Look at how much blood, treasure and political capital has been spent over the last three years, and to what purpose.

    Go look at the title of the thread, and interpret it against the Bushbots instead of the liberals. It’s a sad thing, but all that was spent to no purpose, and a pony will not appear in the middle of the manure just because we spent so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>