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The price of playing politics with war
Posted by: mcq on Friday, February 02, 2007

I have less and less respect for Howard Dean each and every day. Not that I've ever been a particular fan of his, but he continues to find ways to lower even further my already low opinion of him.

Speaking about the Warner/Levin Senate resolution about the surge he said:
"You're going to see a unified vote, I think you're going to see unified Democrats," Dean told CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the party's support of the compromise resolution sponsored by Sens. John Warner, R-Virginia, and Carl Levin, D-Michigan.
Other than the fact that I think these resolutions are bad for the country, fine, not much there except to tout a unified effort by members of his party. Then:
"The resolution is not watered down," Dean said. "They changed a few words; I think this is a very smart move on the part of Harry Reid. If we can get significant numbers of Republicans to repudiate the Republican president's policy, which is about to — about what's about to happen, then I think that's very, very positive."
Yeah, screw the damage it'll do, repudiation of the plan is a "very, very positive" thing, isn't it, Howard? Politics and party over anything else. If it is very, very positive politically for Democrats (repudiation without actually doing anything), then it must be good, regardless of the possible negative cost to a war effort.
 
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The resolution is not watered down," Dean said. "They changed a few words; I think this is a very smart move on the part of Harry Reid. If we can get significant numbers of Republicans to repudiate the Republican president’s policy, which is about to — about what’s about to happen, then I think that’s very, very positive."
I expect that from Dean and the Dems. Not a one of them actually cares about the country or anything besides their own power. But here’s the thing- I’d have voted GOP no matter what when they were in the majority to keep people like Dean from ever having any measure of power. But now they’re not in the majority, if they’re going to pull gutless sh*t like this, I don’t see myself voting for them to get the majority anytime soon.

Again, I’ll see the GOP caucus reduced small enough to meet in a broom closet if it means getting some of these guys out (Hagel 1st please)

My respect for Bush grows more. In a town of eunichs, at least he sticks to his guns (to a fault to be sure, but there’s something to be said for that as opposed to being a poll-driven Clintonista)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Last night, while watching a Fox News segment on the demographic makeup of probable future voters, I finally grocked the appeal of the line the Democrats are taking (bear with me). The numbers cited (as opposed to mere opinion) indicated that there are a growing number of single women who are voting. Now scream “sexist” if you are a liberal, but did you ever watch Leno interview single women on the street? For the most part, single women are not your political junkies who are well-informed about matters political.
For some time I have been wondering where the Democrats were coming from with their 100% support for the Liberal Narrative. Yes, it was very consistent (once one gets over the inherent contradictions embodied in it). It is fairly easy to understand if taken in small doses limited to the issue at hand. It sounds very intellectual and carefully reasoned - much better than the “we’ll have to wait and see” “we have no way of knowing” “we don’t have all the answers” neo-con stuff. And finally, it can turn on a dime. If the narrative is off the track, simply announce that, due to “nuance” yesterday’s narrative is no longer operative and the new, improved narrative is: (whatever is needed to disagree with the Republicans at that time.) Pointing out that it is inherently inconsistent, historically inaccurate, or feckless in the real world is a waste of time. It isn’t designed for the real world. It is for getting the votes of single women.
Historically, single women relied on the opinions of others (father, brother, mom, female political junkie in the garden club, etc.)in making up her mind on how to vote. Now they are empowered and can read the NYT and quite easily see the best policies for the country - and the party and candidates that best represent those policies.
Well, you might say, that is all very well for political campaigns, but what about the overall long-term good of the country? Well, now you are being old-fashioned. What one says to get elected has nothing to do with what one does in office. Once you are in power you can ignore the Narrative and do whatever. The Narrative is just for getting elected. History shows that one need not govern in accordance with whatever policies one runs on in a campaign (see Bush administration on limited government, lowering spending, etc.).
In order to be elected, given the Fox-disclosed demographics of voters, one needs a narrative that appeals to single women. Remember that they will not devote a great deal of time or thought to political issues. Think sound bites. Keep it simple. For instance, bring the troops home. Simple. Heart-warming. No casualties. Trooper runs across tarmac to embrace spouse and children.
What happens in Iraq? “We can use diplomatic means” - to keep all that stuff in the back pages where it won’t be annoying us any more. News will then be about new child care initiatives, the glass ceiling and the Fall fashions. All in all, a much better world than all of this neo-con assertive trouble-making, confusing, scary stuff.
Take any political behavior on the part of Democrats (those who are plugged into their national think tank system) and run it through the above filter. All of a sudden it makes sense, doesn’t it?
“You’re going to see a unified vote, I think you’re going to see unified Democrats...”
Young female office worker: “Well, if they all agree on it, it must be the right thing. The Republicans can’t seem to agree on anything.”
“If we can get significant numbers of Republicans to repudiate the Republican president’s policy... then I think that’s very, very positive."
Spinster: “Even Republicans are agreeing. It must be the right thing.”

If you doubt my thesis, take a few minutes and buy a single woman a cup of coffee (ignore the dating aspects of this procedure) and discuss politics for a few minutes. Ignore the specifics and observe how she describes her views and what she finds appealing in today‘s politics. Now contemplate what the future of America will be like when the Democrats really get the Narrative honed in on her preferences.

Australia still admits immigrants.
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Yeah, screw the damage it’ll do, repudiation of the plan is a "very, very positive" thing, isn’t it, Howard? Politics and party over anything else. If it is very, very positive politically for Democrats (repudiation without actually doing anything), then it must be good, regardless of the possible negative cost to a war effort.
If you believe as Dean and most people do, that the "war" is unnecessary, and continuing it has a severe negative cost to the country, anything to try to force the President to alter course is a good thing.

There is no reason for anyone to believe your conclusion if they don’t believe your assumptions. Most Democrats and many Republicans don’t believe your assumptions. The "war" was won in 2003, the social engineering big government program of trying to shape Iraqi politics is a failure. A political, military and moral failure on the part of the US. And perhaps its good that we learn a lessons about the limits of our power before the cost is too high. The American people have already turned against this "war" in Iraq.

Open your eyes, McQ. This IS political, it is the most important political issue at this time, and people will, whether you like it or not, have different views.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
If you believe as Dean and most people do, that the "war" is unnecessary, and continuing it has a severe negative cost to the country, anything to try to force the President to alter course is a good thing.
Assuming, of course, that the negative cost to simply walking away is less than the negative cost of continuing.

That remains to be seen. I think the negative cost to our walking away from SVN was greater than the negative cost of following our commitments.

(I didn’t realize that the window for social engineering success or failure was less than a decade.)
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Professor Erb continues pushing the Narrative that we are immoral for being in Iraq.
"A political, military and moral failure on the part of the US."
Not everyone (especially those not committed to pushing to LN) sees it that way.
“We have made a lot of mistakes in Iraq. But when Arabs kill Arabs and Shiites kill Shiites and Sunnis kill all in a spasm of violence that is blind and furious and has roots in hatreds born long before America was even a republic, to place the blame on the one player, the one country, the one military that has done more than any other to try to separate the combatants and bring conciliation is simply perverse.
It infantilizes (sic) Arabs. It demonizes Americans. It willfully overlooks the plainest of facts: Iraq is their country. We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war.”
Yeah, that is a good word for your Narrative: perverse
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
That remains to be seen. I think the negative cost to our walking away from SVN was greater than the negative cost of following our commitments.
To Whom? To Dr Erb and his ilk, no cost whatsoever...in fact the BENEFITS outweighed the costs, after all had we "succeeded" in SVN or in Iraq he’d be discredited.

For the South Vietnamese and the Iraqi’s the cost was/will be high, but they really don’t count, because they just become "victims" of Bush’s War and one more lesson for the likes of Dr Erb to "instruct" us about.

So Doc, I guess you ARE a libertarian... the Big Government/ Social Engineering thing is a turn-off? Or is it that Social Engineering can work in the US, but not outside of it? Some elucidation please.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Don’t believe me about the Liberal Narrative? Check this:
“... the AP scored big on the Bush administration with a deceptive story about the nation’s savings rate. After-tax savings rate, that is. The rate that does not include 401Ks and other pre-tax savings plans.
But [the] report led to the headlines sought, like this one in the Columbus Dispatch:
“It is the Depression all over again to the liberals who run big-city newspapers.”
Of course, in the real world (outside the Liberal Narrative):
136 million people have jobs.
exports are at an all-time high.
We have $3.2 trillion socked away in 401 K-style plans.

As disclosed in this quote (from the NYT recently, of all places):
“...the loose confederation of well-regarded economists, who have not been working in concert, say their research points to the startling conclusion that many Americans are saving too much, not too little.”
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Sorry. The link to the Columbus Dispach headling did not work (and I cannot make it work) as I had hoped. In a freudian slip, the headline in my comment is the one I would probably have liked to see. You all saw the headlines about the depression in your local liberal rag, so I won’t repeat it here.
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
So Doc, I guess you ARE a libertarian... the Big Government/ Social Engineering thing is a turn-off? Or is it that Social Engineering can work in the US, but not outside of it? Some elucidation please.
Hear hear! I’ll second the motion for the good Dr to address the question posed by the honorable Joe.


A common liberal refrain from our little venture in SVN was "I’ll enlist when the NVA/Vietcong is/are attacking New York!"

In more current times, I gather the liberal narrative is a bit different with regard to Islamic fundamentalists attacking New York. The defensive line they’ll establish now probably begins at their own front door, maybe as far forward as the beginning of the front walk, possibly out to the curb in front of the house, regardless of the risks such an exposed position might entail.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Looker, the old "chicken hawk" thing has been done. Besides, everyone knows that the military are too focused and busy to study these issues; it takes an ivory-tower type to really understand them and be in a position to educate us. Thank God we have Professor Erb’s perspective to keep us informed on what some liberals think. I mean believe. No, I mean "say that they hope will bring about the political result they desire."

I second the request for elucidation:
"Or is it that Social Engineering can work in the US, but not outside of it? Some elucidation please."
This is one of the disconnects in the LN. You see, SE is just great for America, but not for Iraq. (Syllabus note for course on LN: Never discuss these two concepts in the same discussion. Just say: They are two separate issues and walk away. If further imprtuned to elucidate, insist that the questioner has no nuance and is incapable of understanding this issue.)
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Let’s have an "all skate" out there. ANY liberal care to undertake this one? The problem is impossible. The two issues just won’t go together. Either you go one way and SE should be workable in Iraq, or you go the other way and it ism’t workable in the U.S. or Iraq. Fitting them together takes way too much "nuance"; one has no choice but to obfuscate. While this is workable in academia (should I say overworked?) blog comments just won’t handle it.

Big deal. So we have discovered one of the disconnects in the LN. No matter. Early pioneers in the liberal think tanks discovered that the attention span of their intended targets did not require any real dealing with disconnects like this. If all LN practioners maintain uniformly that this is not a problem, viola! it will not be. Only the misguided wingers will continue to question it and who listens to them? Simply move on.
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
If you believe as Dean and most people do, that the "war" is unnecessary, and continuing it has a severe negative cost to the country, anything to try to force the President to alter course is a good thing.

There is no reason for anyone to believe your conclusion if they don’t believe your assumptions.
Actually that doesn’t follow at all, and that isn’t even addressing the objections others have raised. It is both possible to oppose the war and not do things which merely harm the war effort without helping substantively in ending it. For example, you could vote with Russ Feingold to defund the war. That would be the course Dean, assuming he actually really agrees with you, could take. It accomplishes something at least.

Instead he takes the cowards way out, argues for a resolution that undermines the mission and the troops without actually doing anything. Feingold is showing some actual courage, because there are major risks to politicians advocating what he is advocating. Dean, Hagel and others are showing they can read polls and hedge bets.

I also assume you didn’t actually mean "anything" in bold up above.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
The Senate runs on consensus. Also, the democrats have no intent of getting shivved by stab-in-the-back arguments in 2008. This means that procedurally the Senate moves much more slowly than the House. While I’m not a die-hard Senate watcher, it’s my understanding that the Senate regularly votes on sense-of-the-Senate nonbinding resolutions so that sponsors of the underlying real bills can get vote counts. Republican senators with an unhappy constituency may well want to vote on nonbinding resolutions first, to see how that plays with constituents, before moving more aggressively to end the war.

It’s easy to take cheap shots at our elected representatives. Many don’t have a whole lot of backbone and follow the tide. But they are also just reflecting what they hear from their constituents. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
It’s easy to take cheap shots at our elected representatives
.

Yep, at least 7 years of taking cheap shots at the guy who represents us to the rest of the world has taught you a lot hasn’t it?
We have met the enemy, and he is us.
Correction - we have met the enemy, and he is you.

Pogo could tell the difference.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
You guys don’t get it. Foreign policy in Iraq has failed. We aren’t protecting Iraqis, we aren’t stopping the killing, and we don’t have the capacity to bring them peace. Staying there longer does no good, the predictions of the anti-war side have been consistently correct. This is an unwinnable war (see my blog today about social engineering and on January 29th for why we can’t "win" — the war was won, we’re in a true quagmire now). I don’t believe things will be worse for Iraq if we leave; after all, we really messed up their lives and situation by invading. We aren’t a force for good in Iraq, we got Saddam but brought chaos which has been consistently deteriorating since 2003. At least people have given up their "steady progress" mantra. Reality can only be denied for so long.

And yes, I’m against government as a social engineer. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to be as active as possible to undercut this "war" effort and end this immoral foreign policy.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
but brought chaos which has been consistently deteriorating since 2003
Oh joy, exactly what does chaos deteriorate to? There’s a level below chaos?

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
looker: since i am a voting American citizen not in the pay of anyone except my very Republican employer, perhaps you should clarify.

Are you actually accusing me of being a traitor? Remember: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

If not, you can feel free to apologize.

[a little help from the refs here — what are the accepted limits on the scope of debate when one is accused of being the "enemy"?]
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
It is both possible to oppose the war and not do things which merely harm the war effort without helping substantively in ending it. For example, you could vote with Russ Feingold to defund the war. That would be the course Dean, assuming he actually really agrees with you, could take. It accomplishes something at least.

Instead he takes the cowards way out, argues for a resolution that undermines the mission and the troops without actually doing anything. Feingold is showing some actual courage, because there are major risks to politicians advocating what he is advocating. Dean, Hagel and others are showing they can read polls and hedge bets.
I would vote to defund the war, but I think Hagel, Dean and others are concerned that we extricate ourselves from this mess carefully. Also, I think you’re being unfair to Hagel (though perhaps not to Dean, his job is to play a political game). I am impressed that Hagel follows what he believes and seems not to be worried about politics — he’s been skeptical for some time, and most of what he worries about seems to happen. So I’m looking for a Hagel-Snowe ticket in 2008...
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Liberal Lalaland:
”You guys don’t get it.”
Real world:
“If further importuned to elucidate, insist that the questioner has no nuance and is incapable of understanding this issue.”
Lalaland:
” …Iraq has failed…Staying there longer does no good…unwinnable…we can’t "win"… quagmire …I don’t believe things will be worse for Iraq if we leave…We aren’t a force for good …we … brought chaos… deteriorating…undercut this "war" …”
Real world:
”Simply move on.”


Oh, and reprise all of the LN talking points as you exit.
“And yes, I’m against government as a social engineer.”
This one stopped me. I took a look at Professor Erb’s blog to see if, like most liberals, he was a social engineer. To my surprise, he is not. So he is off the hook on that one. And he may be a libertarian. He definitely is an odd duck.

Professor Erb’s blog on June 20, 2005:
”How do we get out? [of Iraq.] I want to first go over some options…
Option 1: Leave. Just pick up and go. …From a policy stand point… this option is a non-starter. …First, it would be an absolute admission of defeat. . It would be read throughout the world as trumpeting American weakness… Option 2: Enhance the troop levels, and seriously go for victory. … attempting to push it could significantly hurt the GOP… Option 3: Stay the course. …Most insurgents are Iraqi, and would not care about the US if we weren’t there. …Al qaeda and like organizations are gleeful about American policy. …For the record, I prefer a quicker withdraw (closer to option 1).”
How he got from that to:
”… anything to try to force the President to alter course is a good thing…. I would vote to defund the war”
is anyone’s guess. Maybe this is the reason (from his blog):
”Juan Cole is a must read.”
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
"So I’m looking for a Hagel-Snowe ticket in 2008..."
And I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Talk about a ticket to Hell...(snort!) Jeebus Christ! A Hagel-Snowe ticket?

Yes, I know you weren’t serious.
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
"When all the fools die, the neighbors are going to be a long way apart"
 
Written By: darohu
URL: http://
You guys don’t get it. Foreign policy in Iraq has failed. We aren’t protecting Iraqis, we aren’t stopping the killing, and we don’t have the capacity to bring them peace.
Actually, Scott, we do. What we lack, as you’re writing clearly demonstrates, is the will. And why would that be?

The truth of the matter is, that the left in this country is rather heavily invested in America’s defeat. Their political position cannot withstand an American victory in Iraq. They are desperate to prevent such a victory. Every action they take, every claim they make, is aimed at that one goal…. Defeat for America, and the west. Your writings mesh rather nicely to that goal.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
And I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Talk about a ticket to Hell...(snort!) Jeebus Christ! A Hagel-Snowe ticket?
Well, that would probably get me to vote Republican...
This one stopped me. I took a look at Professor Erb’s blog to see if, like most liberals, he was a social engineer. To my surprise, he is not. So he is off the hook on that one. And he may be a libertarian. He definitely is an odd duck.
Thanks — I don’t mind people criticizing me for what I really think, it just get tiring to be thrown into the "typical liberal" stereotype.

*QUACK*
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Thanks — I don’t mind people criticizing me for what I really think, it just get tiring to be thrown into the "typical liberal" stereotype.
Then, Mr. Erb, my advice to you is to stop writing things that lead people directly to that conclusion.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Actually, Scott, we do. What we lack, as you’re writing clearly demonstrates, is the will.
You are high on political slogans, but out of touch with reality. Iraq was clearly a mistake, the vast majority of the country believe it, and violence has been going out of control. It’s not in our national interest to stay there. But keep up your political slogans and "left-right" simplistic view of politics. I guess that makes you feel good. But look around. Reality bites. Hard.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I have looked around, and your version of ’reality’ would be laughable, were it not so tragic.

And isn’t it odd, how each time you get called out for your anti-americanism... and there’s no other description for it... your Kerry-esque counter charge is we’re not nuanced enough to figure you out? You’re predictable, I’ll give you that. Always wrong... Usually, vehemently so.











 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://

I have looked around, and your version of ’reality’ would be laughable, were it not so tragic.

And isn’t it odd, how each time you get called out for your anti-americanism... and there’s no other description for it... your Kerry-esque counter charge is we’re not nuanced enough to figure you out? You’re predictable, I’ll give you that. Always wrong... Usually, vehemently so.
I was right about Iraq. You were wrong. In fact, you seem to have been wrong about most things in recent years. You stick to your "left-right" propagandistic rhetoric, trying to deny reality in order to promote your political bias. But it’s not working. Too bad for you. Luckily, you’re not in a position to be able to do real harm.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I was right about Iraq. You were wrong.
The issue is in doubt, primarily because of the domestic political success of attitudes like those held by Scott Erb. We can maintain this deployment at this level of expense indefinitely, so long as the morale of the troops holds at the very positive level it is at—even if the situation on the ground remains at this status quo—and the American populace does not betray that realistic optimism by ending our very good chance at eventual total success by withdrawing.

Withdrawing now is a near total loss.

At the level of cost to us our opponents can generate, we can only lose if we leave.

There will be a "surge" in Iraq. If General Petraeus is correct in his theories of COIN and he is personally able and not interfered with politically in executing his theories competently—with new, more lenient ROE’s and harsher attitudes towards our enemies—then the surge will lower the cost of staying to a point that even if we stay in Iraq for many decades, we will have no more have lost in Iraq than we have lost in Germany or Japan, or that matter (and a better analogy) than we had lost in the Phillipines circa the 1930’s.

If the surge works, we will win by any historically reasonable definition of winning. This would be a disaster for the left. That’s okay, they deserve all the disasters that they can set themselves up for—and America does not deserve the disaster the left wishes would befall us.

Of course, we already know Scott Erb has no reasonable view of history.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
The issue is in doubt, primarily because of the domestic political success of attitudes like those held by Scott Erb. We can maintain this deployment at this level of expense indefinitely, so long as the morale of the troops holds at the very positive level it is at—even if the situation on the ground remains at this status quo—and the American populace does not betray that realistic optimism by ending our very good chance at eventual total success by withdrawing.
The policy has already failed. It was supposed to be cheap (paid for by oil revenues), we were to be hailed as victors, have a stable democratic American ally, and re-shape the Mideast. That was folly, and it has crashed and burned. The war will be over a trillion dollars, has weakened the US on virtually every front, and serves no national interest. It is pointless to continue, every American death there is in vain, and we have unleashed more suffering in Iraq than even Saddam had, save his disastrous choice for war against Iran.

The "surge" is just getting troops back to their 2005 point, it’s not significant, and certain to end up failing, just like every other attempt. The reason is that we won the war in 2003. We are now engaged in a big government social engineering effort of the kind that almost never works. And you can’t compare it to Germany and Japan because those were wars against real powers; this is just folly, a social engineering experiment gone bad, an example of how big government trying to shape culture doesn’t work. It’s pointless, all we’re trying to do now is save face.

Gen. Odom is right: this is the biggest strategic disaster and fiasco in American history. Wake Up~
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The policy has already failed.
No, this is counterinsurgency, undertaken by a major power, with the insurgents dependent on arms from outside minor powers. If we don’t quit, we win. That is how that has worked out since the beginning of the 18 century, and power projection became something other than armed migration.
It was supposed to be cheap (paid for by oil revenues), we were to be hailed as victors, have a stable democratic American ally, and re-shape the Mideast.
We never went to war for their oil, we were hailed as victors, and initally liberators, stability is quite doable—certainly stability of the sort Mexico enjoys, and going into Iraq was supposed to begin the re-shaping of the Middle East, not be the end-all-be-all of it. Turning a wrong course that’s been traveled for 1500 years will take longer than a generation. Why are you so inconstant or foolish to expect it should already be accomplished?
That was folly, and it has crashed and burned. The war will be over a trillion dollars, has weakened the US on virtually every front, and serves no national interest.
The course maintained for the last several decades, which led to 9/11, that course was folly. You embrace folly and do not know it’s face. A trillion dollars is not much compared to what going on as before would cost us, and has at worst confirmed weaknesses that were suspected, enduring, and of a historic character that could not be avoided by the Bush or any other prospective administration. You don’t expect him to travel back in time to shoot Truman so MacArthur can swim the Yalu, do you? The disposition of our strength abroad is the result of decades which cannot be undone to better effect. You work with what you have unless, like you’ve a problem with, reality cannot be recognized.

Given our dependence on allies willing to let us use their territory for basing, that we maintain the credibility that sticking with the elected government of Iraq provides us with is a must. Nevermind that unless we change the Middle East, we’ll have to keep on doing this. Unless you have some persuasively better idea, of which we’ve had no indication.

The strategic goals of the American nation in Iraq will be realized if we kill the enemy when we see him while doing good works for the people in Iraq. We’ve been too hesitant with the first part of that formula. There is no flaw in the formula, the flaw is in you, in your faintheartedness.
It is pointless to continue, every American death there is in vain, and we have unleashed more suffering in Iraq than even Saddam had, save his disastrous choice for war against Iran.
The deaths of our people in Iraq can only be in vain if we forsake them. You propose we forsake them. Why?

Why do you think that unlike every other insurgency, many of which are undertaken with far worse ratios of force, that this one is unique and unwinnable?

Heh. I may as well ask why you think the Vietnam war was a "mistake." I’d’ve as much sense from you.

And no, it is quite unlikely we’ve unleashed any particular hurt on Iraq that could be avoided by anything except either leaving Saddam in place, or setting up a similarly autocratic successor. Either course would be abhominable, it surprises me not at all that an passive-aggressive enabler of the Khmer Rouge would find one of them preferable to the current course.

If the Sunnis and Shiites are determined to go at it hammer and tongs, then while killing the armed partisans and sometimes being killed by them is tragic—it is better the boil is lanced now. It would be wrong either to have let it alone or to leave it unaddresed.

The does leave alone the question of the degree of hurt we’ve unleashed, which is greater then Saddam’s sins only in the most fevered hash dreams of the left.
The "surge" is just getting troops back to their 2005 point, it’s not significant, and certain to end up failing, just like every other attempt.
In 2005, we were working up against AlQaeda, which is now a shell of it’s former self in Iraq, a pathetic remnant with little respect and fewer trigger pullers. We beat them. Did you know that?
The reason is that we won the war in 2003.
No. We fight the war successfully when we blow up AlQaeda when and where we can. But that is ultimately a palliative, stop-gap measure. We haven’t won the war until the Dar Al Islam doesn’t care to make a demarcation with the Dar Al Harb anymore. We begin winning that goal by staying in Iraq until it is just this, a stable limited government democracy, or two of them, or three of them, either way.
We are now engaged in a big government social engineering effort of the kind that almost never works.
Human societies evolve, they change over time in response to forces. They do so at a range of rates, and do so to be more compatible with human nature and the sum of their circumstances.

Liberal social engineering far too frequently tries to cause societies to change faster than they can without undue stress, they try to cause societies to evolve without due regard to the laws of economics, and they even attempt to cause expressly retrograde evolution—descent into totalitarianism to try to focus the force required to produce the undue stress.

What was aimed for in the Enlightenment as the founders of the American republic saw it, that is evolution in keeping with human nature. We move Iraq towards that best by staying, not by leaving.
And you can’t compare it to Germany and Japan because those were wars against real powers;
Two counterpoints:

1) That they were wars against real powers is of no relevance. That the people of the surrendered powers would stay surrended was just as in question in ’45 as it is in question whether the Sunnis and Shiites will reject annihilating each other while abjuring the rule of law. A bad outcome is far more likely if we leave than if we stay, and we if stay, we will outlast them—and we need only outlast the worst of them. They will run out of them long before we run out of us...
...unless we just run out, which is what you want.

2) I see you have no objection to my bringing up the Phillipines as an example of a fairly modern counter insurgency which we won. We won that by killing the enemy. If Petraeus will take that course here, all will be well enough, and far better than if we go.
this is just folly, a social engineering experiment gone bad, an example of how big government trying to shape culture doesn’t work. It’s pointless, all we’re trying to do now is save face.
I do not expect this will take less than years, why are you so naive as to expect anything else? As for saving face, you’ve made no progress towards explaining how abandoning our investment in Iraq saves any face at all, let alone how it improves our strategic position.
Gen. Odom is right: this is the biggest strategic disaster and fiasco in American history. Wake Up~
If Odom really said that, then he is a fool. The biggest strategic disaster and fiasco in American history was how long it took to find a general who would kill the Rebs until they quit, second biggest would be our abandonment of Vietnam, not doing more to prevent Saddam Hussein from reasserting control of Iraq in ’91 comes to mind.

The Iraq Occupation ranks above the War of 1812 only if we leave, because if we stick it out we win.

But that’s an actual historical perspective on the issue, I expect you want your want your unmeasured, unlearned hyperbole reflected back on you, it’s all your fit for countering.

I cannot oblige you.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I apologize in advance for the length of this, but Tom’s post is thoughtful and deserves a full response I think. We disagree, but I appreciate you explaining your position rather than just attacking.
No, this is counterinsurgency, undertaken by a major power, with the insurgents dependent on arms from outside minor powers. If we don’t quit, we win. That is how that has worked out since the beginning of the 18 century, and power projection became something other than armed migration.
The policy has failed in looking at original goals to the reality; few expect now that even if Iraq is stabilized that it will be a strong western style democracy closely allied to the US, a model for the region. But it was supposed to be fast, oil revenues were supposed to pay the cost, and it was not supposed to drag on. Experts on the region predicted this, that was dismissed by an administration that was convinced that if we got rid of the bad guys then threw money at reconstruction, we’d win Iraqi hearts and minds.

I also have to take issue with the claim that the insurgents are really the major problem. They aren’t. The insurgents are destined to lose whether we stay or go. The major problem is the ethnic violence of Shi’a vs. Sunni. Most of this has little to do with the US, and our presence does little to reduce that violence. This could turn into a regional conflict that would be very messy. Anti-American terror organizations benefit from the instability, but they are not really the ones doing much fighting in Iraq. Even the Sunni insurgents and general population doesn’t like al qaeda, and the Shi’ites want to destroy it. Counterinsurgency isn’t enough to "win" in Iraq. That’s the point.
We never went to war for their oil, we were hailed as victors, and initally liberators, stability is quite doable—certainly stability of the sort Mexico enjoys, and going into Iraq was supposed to begin the re-shaping of the Middle East, not be the end-all-be-all of it. Turning a wrong course that’s been traveled for 1500 years will take longer than a generation. Why are you so inconstant or foolish to expect it should already be accomplished?
Most Iraqis want us gone, anti-Americanism is intense, even amongst Shi’ites. Most Iraqis think violence against Americans is legitimate. Mexico worked into stability over decades; Iraq’s political culture has been one of violent and brutal repression under the Ottomans, instability under British attempts to bring order (a similar story to our current situation), chaos, then order under a repressive Baathist regime. You don’t go from that kind of culture to democracy, that just doesn’t happen. Japan and Germany after WWII had already modernized and had efforts to liberalize. Mexico was on that path since before their revolution. Moreover, democracy is a process. Mexico took almost a century to move away from one party rule. The US had slavery and no women voting for huge chunks of its early democracy. It would be naive to expect Iraq to be able to do more than make short steps towards the goal.

The course maintained for the last several decades, which led to 9/11, that course was folly. You embrace folly and do not know it’s face.


I did not support that course, which found the Reagan Administration trading arms for hostages, Reagan and Carter both arming Islamic extremists to fight the Soviets (groups which later became al qaeda and the Taliban), US intervention that spurred anti-Americanism in Iran and throughout the Arab world, support for authoritarians, support for Saddam in the eighties...that was a bad path, we set ourselves up for this in decades of bad foreign policy choices. But I see this policy as continuing and even extending those bad policy directions, creating a worse future for us than if we hadn’t chosen war against Iraq. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and Al qaeda has reorganized there and Pakistan. But we’re so stuck in Iraq — where most fighters are not part of a terror group that would at all be concerned with the US were we not there — we can’t address the real threats.
A trillion dollars is not much compared to what going on as before would cost us,


I’m not arguing for ’going on as before.’
and has at worst confirmed weaknesses that were suspected, enduring, and of a historic character that could not be avoided by the Bush or any other prospective administration. You don’t expect him to travel back in time to shoot Truman so MacArthur can swim the Yalu, do you? The disposition of our strength abroad is the result of decades which cannot be undone to better effect. You work with what you have unless, like you’ve a problem with, reality cannot be recognized.
Actually if Truman hadn’t chosen to move North, that war would have ended in 1950 with far less death and misery, and perhaps it could have set up reforms in North Korea.
Given our dependence on allies willing to let us use their territory for basing, that we maintain the credibility that sticking with the elected government of Iraq provides us with is a must. Nevermind that unless we change the Middle East, we’ll have to keep on doing this. Unless you have some persuasively better idea, of which we’ve had no indication.
I do not believe we have a chance do change the mideast. Our popularity is so low that the idea Iraq would allow us bases when this is done is wishful thinking. We can’t change the Mideast. That is a feat of social engineering that no government can accomplish, it is idealistic dreamland. We need a dose of reality: our national interest requires stability in the region so oil markets are not prone to shock. That is also the interest of most Arab states, and most of the industrialized world. So we have to work out a way to make sure that we avoid disruptions. Our policy, I argue, has worked against that interest and in fact has set up a chance for a major regional crisis that could harm our economy and our interests immensely. Our military is stretched too thin to do much about it, so we’re left now trying to save face and extricate ourselves from this mess before it does us more harm.
The strategic goals of the American nation in Iraq will be realized if we kill the enemy when we see him while doing good works for the people in Iraq. We’ve been too hesitant with the first part of that formula. There is no flaw in the formula, the flaw is in you, in your faintheartedness.
That is naive, I believe. Most of the violence is not from one "enemy," but differnt groups with different interests. There are a number of battles going on over there, and a few clear enemies, but other uncertainties. Al Sadr, for instance, is supporting the surge and the Maliki government. To kill him as some suggest would only assure a large Shi’ite insurgency alongside the Sunnis. But the insurgency isn’t the main problem, it’s the sectarian violence — as the NIE report says, calling this a civil war would make it sound better than the actual conditions there.

The deaths of our people in Iraq can only be in vain if we forsake them. You propose we forsake them. Why?
1. It is in our national interest to extricate ourselves from this sectarian mess, and manuever a move to multilateral and regional efforts to prevent a spread of this war and try to stabilize the situation.

2. US presence makes matters worse by giving extremists an emotional appeal — fight the outside invaders, evoke images of Haditha, Abu Ghraib and numerous civilian deaths, and seduce young Iraqis to hate the "imperialist invader." We do ourselves more harm than good by staying.

3. The situation cannot be "won." The war was won in 2003; this is not a war any more, this is trying to socially engineer a culture to something it is not in a position to achieve. It is an impossible task.

Why do you think that unlike every other insurgency, many of which are undertaken with far worse ratios of force, that this one is unique and unwinnable?
The insurgency is not the main problem. The violence is far more widespread than that.

Heh. I may as well ask why you think the Vietnam war was a "mistake." I’d’ve as much sense from you.
It was not in our national interest, and gave the Soviets an easy way to bleed us and divide the country by cheaply supplying the North while America suffered. Even if we had "won" the price extracted would have been greater than what we would have gained. The idea communism was going spread like dominoes falling was unrealistic; communism never had a chance to survive more than a few generations at best.
And no, it is quite unlikely we’ve unleashed any particular hurt on Iraq that could be avoided by anything except either leaving Saddam in place, or setting up a similarly autocratic successor. Either course would be abhominable, it surprises me not at all that an passive-aggressive enabler of the Khmer Rouge would find one of them preferable to the current course.
Our actions in Vietnam made it possible for the Khmer Rouge to come to power; without our intervention there and especially our atrocious behavior in Cambodia there would have been no killing fields. I think you underestimate the damage done by massive killing and destruction by an outside force, we’ve unleashed the equivalent of hundreds of 9-11s on them — is it any wonder we’re despised?
If the Sunnis and Shiites are determined to go at it hammer and tongs, then while killing the armed partisans and sometimes being killed by them is tragic—it is better the boil is lanced now. It would be wrong either to have let it alone or to leave it unaddresed.
Interventions from outsiders usually make things worse, especially if it is a world power with dubious reasons for acting, and which is acting against the will of the UN and most of the world. The only possible way interventions can succeed when situations turn horrendous is if they are multi-lateral, with a moral imperative based on general world consensus. Otherwise, stick with national interest and avoid making this worse by going and killing and destroying in far off lands.
In 2005, we were working up against AlQaeda, which is now a shell of it’s former self in Iraq, a pathetic remnant with little respect and fewer trigger pullers. We beat them. Did you know that?
Not true — Al Qaeda was never a major player in the Iraqi insurgency, and has almost always been disliked by most Sunnis. Foreign fighters have always been a tiny minority. Moreover, pre-2003 they weren’t operating in Iraq hardly at all. It never was a powerful former self, it has always been a ’shell’ in Iraq. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the other hand, they have grown more powerful and orgnaized. That’s the real problem; we let them off the hook there.

Destroying al qaeda in Iraq isn’t meaningful because they aren’t a meaningful presence. They are not the real problem there.
Human societies evolve, they change over time in response to forces. They do so at a range of rates, and do so to be more compatible with human nature and the sum of their circumstances.

Liberal social engineering far too frequently tries to cause societies to change faster than they can without undue stress, they try to cause societies to evolve without due regard to the laws of economics, and they even attempt to cause expressly retrograde evolution—descent into totalitarianism to try to focus the force required to produce the undue stress.

What was aimed for in the Enlightenment as the founders of the American republic saw it, that is evolution in keeping with human nature. We move Iraq towards that best by staying, not by leaving.
OK up until the last sentence. The Iraqis will kick us out at some point, Maliki knows he has to in order to have credibility. But I think the founders realized too that we can’t force systems on countries not ready for it, especially not by killing and destroying. I’m all for helping support the evolution, and stopping the support of other authoritarians in the region. Those things are not in our interests, I believe that our national ideals and our interests are in line with each other because they reflect human nature. I think we’ve drifted towards militarism because we have such a big military, and we’ve neglected to take into accounts the weaknesses and limits of military power, as well as the backlash killing and destroying others can have.

(As to your Phillipines example — note that the US drift back towards isolationism away from imperialism by Wilson’s Presidency was in part a response to our problems there — it may not be the best example for your case).
If Odom really said that, then he is a fool. The biggest strategic disaster and fiasco in American history was how long it took to find a general who would kill the Rebs until they quit, second biggest would be our abandonment of Vietnam, not doing more to prevent Saddam Hussein from reasserting control of Iraq in ’91 comes to mind.

The Iraq Occupation ranks above the War of 1812 only if we leave, because if we stick it out we win.

But that’s an actual historical perspective on the issue, I expect you want your want your unmeasured, unlearned hyperbole reflected back on you, it’s all your fit for countering.
Odom’s said it and repeated it many times. And I agree things need to be looked at historically. Think about the British in Iraq after WWI, look at the history of the region, look at the Sunni-Shi’ite rivalry, look at how little we are able to penetrate that culture, look at the history of great powers overstretching, in part because of getting stuck in meaningless conflicts like Vietnam and Iraq (or even Kosovo, which was a failure that Clinton sold as a success). Consider how wrong the pro-war arguments were, and how right the experts on Mideast politics were about Iraq in the run up before the war.

No, we need an historical perspective, but I do not believe that leads to your conclusions. Also, note that democracies have to take into account the domestic political impact of policies — you cannot continue something like this unless you have significant public support, and once a "war" loses support, that support doesn’t return.

You assert that if we stay, we win. You say it’s just a counter insurgency, you ignore the sectarian violence and other factors. You don’t say how we win, or what victory is, expect a vague sense that Iraq stabilizes and becomes our ally. But given the continuous deterioration since 2003, the lack of reconstruction due to security problems, and the intense violence, that sounds very vague, almsot like wishful thinking. Without more substance, I find it unpersausive.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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