December 28, 2006
Liberals Are About to Go Apoplectic

There are few true certainties in politics, but it seems quite likely political observers are about to witness the explosion of liberal minds across the country once President Bush finalizes deliberations on a revised Iraq policy, then announces it to the nation. If such changes include some variant of the "troop surge" then I'm not just talking about a garden-variety explosion, I'm talking about a full-bore, Moveon.org rattling eruption of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Keep some earplugs handy.

Stilwell over at the Northwest Progressive Institute gives us a preview. Putting aside the high comedy of a liberal now whining about a prominent conservative criticizing the Bush Administration's handling of Iraq, stilwell actually offers some revealing material. He says, "whatever slim chance there was to build a 'stable, democratic Iraq' is long gone." Further, we have reached the point where "insurgents will decide whether the conlflict escalates...the U.S. has lost all initiative in Iraq." Of course he also says "conservatives are never wrong and never held accountable for their actions in this country by the media." Perhaps he missed the year in politics that was 2006.

Getting back to the defeatism that rules the liberal view of the Iraq conflict, including stilwell's, history shows such a view is only correct if a country lets it be. In other words, armed conflicts are often won by the side that perseveres through the inevitable mayhem and setbacks of war with the greatest vigor and resources.

Michael Barone gives a brief but fascinating analysis in direct contrast to stilwell's tone while recounting in part the "less-than-optimum choices" faced by FDR and Churchill during World War II. That conflict was riddled with severe strategic and tactical challenges that were not without cost. Long before Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, Iowa Jima, and Okinawa rattled the American public, costly battles at Guadalcanal, Tarawa Atoll, Kasserine Pass, and Cassino gave the country serious pause. Through it all political leaders and the military perserved and, as Barone pointedly notes, at times those political leaders pushed the course of the war forward over the hesitancy of military commanders.

That point hits right to the heart of Lowry's argument, stated both in yesterday's column that has stillwell's dander up and in an earlier column as well: Bush has erred mightily in giving too much credence to his military advisors. As Lowry recounts, Bush's fear of falling into LBJ's Vietnam pitfalls has resulted in an over acceptance of military advice, in direct contrast to prosecution of past challenging armed conflict in our nation's history. Beyond FDR, Truman's relieving of McArthur - and disregarding his advice - as well as Lincoln's famous activism in the selection of commanding generals are historically obvious examples.

One would think a liberal like stilwell would embrace a conservative saying such things about Bush, and even conceding the MSM had a notable portion of the Iraq story right . But no, that would mean accepting the notion that more troops are indeed the correct solution, unless one just wants to get out of Dodge now, victory or not.

Lowry accurately points out the weakness of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq, largely because the U.S. military has for a number of reasons, not entirely of its own choosing, not engaged in such efforts with any consistency or sustained effectiveness. Lowry cites The Army and Vietnam to support his conclusion. Tom Clancy's non-fiction account of the Special Forces, Shadow Warriors, also supports the same lesson in its study of what principles did and did not work in the military's counterinsurgency efforts in Vietnam. The short version of the analysis is that the current military, particularly through the vision of Donald Rumsfeld, has failed to adopt the policies necessary to make sure Iraq didn't become what it is today.

In fairness, Rumsfeld will leave a substantial legacy of success. He took on the incredibly arduous challenge of revamping perhaps the most inert organization on Earth, the Pentagon, to face the reality of threats facing the United States in a post-Cold War world. Gone is the focus on heavy combat (Rumsfeld having famously nixed the costly Crusader artillery program), in its place is a focus on more agile forces, nimble enough to move quickly across the world yet with the superior firepower to still decimate today's enemies. Tank-heavy divisions still have their place, but interchangeable brigade formations - including the Stryker brigades - and Special Forces play a greater role in modern conflicts.

The rapid, successful conclusion of the combat phases of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq speak to the power of Rumsfeld's vision. The challenges of Iraq since that time, however, seem destined to haunt his legacy as well.

From a historical perspective, this entire discussion is not at all strange. Civilian and military leaders sometimes disagree about the best course of action in difficult situations. In democratic governments where civilian control of the military is final, the eventual winner of such policy disputes is clear. Moreover, armies are good at breaking things; the U.S. Armed Forces being immensely superior to their modern counterparts on that score. They're not so good writ large, however, at fixing things unless prodded to. Rumsfeld resisted that, as did many military commanders. And President Bush was too slow to overrule that choice.

He seems to have realized the mistake now that Iraqi inability thus far to form a cohesive society has magnified the problem brightly. He further seems inclined to rectify the problem by following the best available advice in attempt to achieve the conflict's goal of a stable, democratic, and allied government in Iraq. The alternatives likewise seeking some semblance of a positive outcome such as diplomacy or merely a modest phased withdrawal are unrealistic and doomed to failure due to the details and dynamics of actually attempting to implement such plans. The alternative embraced by liberals like stilwell (see but two other local examples here and here), is simply a question of how quickly can we get the hell out, no matter what sort of situation we might leave behind.

Sane Democrats realize that isn't a good option, and won't go so far in their own policy announcements. They'll whine bitterly about Bush's policy changes - see Joe Biden's proclamations over last weekend - but they won't call for the rapid pullout their liberal base demands. Thus, a cacophony of left wing angst is nearly a sure bet after Bush's pending policy announcement.

Consider yourself warned. And on a more long-term basis, look for the related evolution of the Iraq war debate to benefit an interesting dark horse in the Democratic field: John Edwards. He has a number of strengths largely overlooked in the current media palpitations over Clinton v. Obama worth exploring at a different time. For this topic, however, he has the most starkly anti-war position of any of the prominent Democratic candidates in the '08 field. Moreover, unlike Obama and Clinton he won't be tied to difficult votes in the Senate during the coming months related to Iraq policy. Once the liberal base is done venting in the wake of Bush's post-New Year announcement, don't be surprised if it gives Edwards a more serious look.

Posted by Eric Earling at December 28, 2006 08:15 AM | Email This
Comments
1. Don't kid yourself. Clinton will withstand the heat. All this "can she or can't she" is all a rope-a-dope orchestrated by the Clintons two years before the election. The shots she is taking now is nothing compared to what a R candidate will get.

I don't like the word "surge". I don't know but it sounds weird with respect to war. Why not call a build-up a build-up of forces.

Posted by: swatter on December 28, 2006 08:20 AM
2. When liberals explode, it's always fun to watch. This should start out the New Year well!

Posted by: Walters on December 28, 2006 08:22 AM
3. We've tried to fight a Humanitarian War by Leftist imposed rules. Unfortunately, instead of saying "screw that", all I expect is an attempt to fine tune those rules and throw more money and people at the problem. (Another typical Leftist response to a program that has failed. "More of the same'll fix it.")

Posted by: Raoul Ortega on December 28, 2006 09:01 AM
4. I must have a sheltered life, I have never heard the label "Bush Derangement Syndrome."

Cool,

thanks,

Posted by: Wally on December 28, 2006 09:09 AM
5. I don't know Eric, I think that head-popping is going to be louder than you think if it includes the 70% of Americans who disagree with Bush's handling of the war or 80% who don't think we should be adding troops.

It's not just generals and pundits who disagree with the idea of escalating the war, it's the American people -- the ultimate bosses here. They spoke pretty loudly less than two months ago. I don't think they are going to take kindly to being so rudely ignored. It may be that this is the only way to finally flush the neocon excess from our political system, but I wish we could find a way to do it without ending or otherwise ruining the lives of thousands more.

Just for the record, what do you think the mission will be for the 10 - 20% more soldiers we add, assuming Bush gets his way? What measurable result can we expect to see 6 to 12 months later?

Posted by: scottd on December 28, 2006 09:51 AM
6. Another little thing that might drive liberals crazy was the posting I saw yesterday on orbusmax.com. They showed a photo taken of John Kerry in Iraq, eating in the military mess, and not one solider sat with him. Story accompanying the photo is pretty amusing, too. Seems nobody wanted anything to do with him, but they flocked to meet O'Reilly that same day. The post is titled "A picture as good as 1,000 Words" or something like that. Serves him right.

Posted by: katomar on December 28, 2006 09:54 AM
7. scott, I agree with the good question in the third paragraph.

I don't agree, however, with the 70-80% figure. When presented with the honest and true facts, Americans support the effort. The problem with a lot of these polls is they ignore the difference between long term and short term. Short term, I, too, would have liked to see more action even going back to ToraBora. I would have liked the John Kerry calvary invade the mountains of Pakistan but I support the politics of not doing so.

And I don't understand your last random thought in paragraph 2.

Posted by: swatter on December 28, 2006 10:02 AM
8. katomar, in the comments section of the article, it appears that the story and picture were made up. But, even so, it makes a good story.

Posted by: swatter on December 28, 2006 10:09 AM
9. Swatter, I think you are in denial regarding polling data. The Bush admin has been attempting to present "the honest and true facts" regarding Iraq for several years. only to see support for its policies dwindle to the levels I cited. I don't think there's anything he could say now that will change that trend.

Right or wrong, those figures represent the feelings of the American electorate, even after hearing the administration's side of the story. I don't think they are going to stand for Bush willfully ignoring them, particularly when he will have nothing to show for his efforts in the coming year. The result is going to be devastating for the GOP in 2008.

The only way we will get out of Iraq is after the neocons are finally and completely purged after the next election and Bush's stubborness just makes that outcome more likely -- so I suppose that's a good thing. My only regret is that thousands more will die in Iraq before we get to that point. That was the point of the second paragraph of my previous post.

Posted by: scottd on December 28, 2006 10:13 AM
10. If the President does this build-up against the advice of the military, the approval of a fair number of citizens, the consent of Republican and Democrat members of Congress, and it doesn't come to a rather swift turn-around of our fortunes in Iraq, I fear he'll be impeached.

Posted by: war weary republican on December 28, 2006 10:27 AM
11. war-weary: Brace yourself. Increasing our forces by 10-20% isn't going to lead to a "swift turn-around." You're just going to see more of the same or worse.

But cheer up, I don't think the Dems are looking to impeach (unless they impeach Cheney first!). I think they are more inclined to let Bush continue to call the shots, so there will be no doubt on who to blame when this whole thing comes to a bad end.

Posted by: scottd on December 28, 2006 10:39 AM
12. stilwell's just torqued because the dems have already kicked his fringe perspective to the curb.

Posted by: Hinton on December 28, 2006 10:55 AM
13. Scottd #5: Those polls you cite are hugely misleading (on purpose?) and insinuate that an answer to the negative is because the respondent is anti-war. I myself answered one on how "Bush was handling the war in Iraq" with a negative because he was fighting the damn thing much to PC. That's a far cry from wanting to bug out. I find it hard to believe that I'm the only person who responded to that question with that in mind. But the polls don't differentiate that. The polls assume that everybody who answers negative is an anti-war protester. No so.

Posted by: G Jiggy on December 28, 2006 10:56 AM
14. Oh please! Liberals live in a state of apoplexy and outrage.

Ho hum, what's new...

hate Bush :: angry libs,

life goes on
nothing new under the sun.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskold on December 28, 2006 10:59 AM
15. War weary: Impeached for what? Ignoring advice? Something criminal has to happen like lying to a grand jury when you swear on a bible that you won’t.

Frankly I hope they DO try,/i> and impeach him. That will put those screwballs so far outside the mainstream they'll never haunt D.C. again.

At this point they have promised the Nutroots of an impeachment play and if they don't deliver a try, those nutbags will go ballistic.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't. Perfect.

Posted by: G Jiggy on December 28, 2006 11:08 AM
16. Jiggy: I only assume that a negative response on Bush's handling of the war means that the respondent is not happy with the way Bush is handling the war. Increasing our troops by 10-20% isn't much of a change, so I suppose people will continue to be dissatisfied.

It's a little more difficult to spin the response to questions that directly ask whether we should be adding more troops. There's always a majority that favor withdrawing -- either immediately or on a timetable. The number that favor increasing the number of troops is quite small -- 12 - 18%, depending on the poll. Oddly enough, that seems to be the way Bush is headed. How well do you think that's going to play out for the GOP, especially when the result is more of the same?

Strangely, nobody has addressed my question of what Bush will do with his extra troops, or what results we can expect.

Posted by: scottd on December 28, 2006 11:13 AM
17. scottd - one would expect your last two questions at #16 would be addressed in Bush's announcement. Absent knowing exactly what course will be taken, the WaPo op-ed from the leading backers of the "troop surge" I linked to in the original post is as good a review of those topics as any. In addition, I agree with you that benchmarks are necessary to explain when the "surge" will end. Revised policy that does not include clear benchmarks for an achievable, positive outcome would be a bad choice.

Also, I would encourage you to ditch the "neocons" label. It's grossly over-used to describe original supporters of the Iraq War, and is now used in a way that in no way fits its original use in describing former Democrats who gravitated to the GOP beginning in the '70's over national security issues. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld do not fit that bill in the least.

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 28, 2006 11:25 AM
18. Nothing Bush does or doesn't do will satisfy the libs.

The "factional conflict" we now see in Iraq is NOT Suni vs Shia it's Persian vs Arab. It's funded and mostly instigated by those from outside Iraq.

The Iraqis call these outsiders "Ali Babas."

It's no longer entertaining to watch the Lib sputter and spout......it's old and frankly annoying. I wish they'd just grow up.

Posted by: Jack Burton on December 28, 2006 11:27 AM
19. Yeah, we liberals will get angry when more American soldiers die to support the Iran-friendly Shi'a regime in Baghdad. (We're funny that way.) We call ourselves 'reality-based'. As opposed to this:

"The rapid, successful conclusion of the combat phases of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq speak to the power of Rumsfeld's vision. The challenges of Iraq since that time, however, seem destined to haunt his legacy as well."

Okay, let's understand the difference between routing a bunch of irregular troops (Afghanistan) or a small, ill-fed army which protects a contained dictator (Iraq), and building a viable state. The former is easy to the Army we once had. (You know, the one Clinton left us with.) Building a viable state, especially after a war, is a very long and ardous process. We had soldiers for years in Germany and Japan-- in fact, we have soldiers there to this very day-- and we had the majority support of those populations. (Even then, we had no picnic. Just keeping Bavaria in federal Germany required years of pleading and incentives. General Clay convened the federal constitutional committee in Bavaria, and at the end, every member of the Bavarian delegation voted against.)
One of the major arguments against invading Iraq had to do with our unfinished job in Afghanistan. The Taliban now tries for a comeback, and the "central gvernment" of that country controls downtown Kabul -- in daylight. If we'd kept our focus in that country, it might now have a working government. Read what the 9/11 Commission's Report has to say on the dangers of failed states in the effort against terrorism. (And, while you're at it, read then-Governor Bush's sneering denounciation of Clinton's "nation-building" efforts in the Balkans.)

"Bush has erred mightily in giving too much credence to his military advisors." They told him to use a larger force in Iraq, and he ignored them. They told him to have Turkey as an ally, and he ignored them. They just told him that more troops will not improve the Iraqi situation. Any bets on what he'll try to do?

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 28, 2006 11:50 AM
20. Eric: Since you've been advocating an escalation in troop levels, I assumed you had some ideas on why that might be helpful; that's why I directed the question to you. Apparently, the depth of your thinking so far is that it must be a good idea because Bush seems to like it. I guess we'll both have to wait until next year to see what Bush plans to do with the troops. Based on past results, I'm not hopeful.

Regarding neocons, I only use the term to include those who have applied it to themselves or to the ideas and policies they have promulgated. I can see why continued use of the term might make you uncomfortable, but I think I'll stick with it where applicable.

Jack:

I don't know where you get your info, but it's wrong. When Sunni insurgents attack Shiite mosques or other gatherings, that's Arab vs. Arab. Same thing when Shiite militias work to ethnically cleanse Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad.

There are very few "Persians" in Iraq. According to the CIA factbook, Iraq is 75-80% Arab, 15-20% Kurdish, with the remainder being Assyrian, Turkoman and others.

Posted by: scottd on December 28, 2006 11:51 AM
21. "Yeah, we liberals will get angry when more American soldiers die." Yea Right! Take your phoney baloney indignation somewhere else. The day I believe that you give two hoots and a holler about anything other than advancing your own pathetic leftist agenda I will also kiss your butt on the fifty-yard line of Qwest Field at half time.

Posted by: JDH on December 28, 2006 12:12 PM
22. scottd - no offense but you're either being dense or obtuse. I provided you with a link to read directly from the advocates of the "troop surge" themselves. Obviously, I wouldn't be linking to them, or Lowry as a leading advocate of such a tactic, if I thought they were morons. Why do I need to spell out what they already have?

As to the "neocons," essentially what you're saying is your comfortable using a wildly incorrect term because it's suits your simplistic definitions. When have Rumself or Cheney or Bush or any number of war backers separate from true neo-conservatives actually embraced the term for themselves? The continued misuse of the term doesn't make me uncomfortable, but it does make me think that people that keep using it incorrectly aren't exactly offering the most astute analysis or clear understanding of the issues at hand.

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 28, 2006 12:14 PM
23. As soon as someone uses "neocon" as a pejorative, it's clear that they're not worth listening to. Same goes for someone who uses "liberals" the same way. Generalizations are not helpful in these discussions, and the sooner we weed out the Kool-Aid drinkers from both sides, the faster we can get to a meaningful discussion.

Posted by: brett on December 28, 2006 12:20 PM
24. Let me make this as secinct as possible. First off, I never stare a lap down by conceeding "good intentions" to leftists. I think that the history of last century alone illustrates what leftists stand for. Take for only example the victims of leftist ideaology, which is nothing other than the Politics of Envy. They number in the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS. Leftists in this country have covered for and made excuses for all of this EVERY time it has happened. The only thing that leftists find hateful about this whole Iraq experience is the thought of an American victory in any way, shape or form. I agree that George W Bush was stupid to get this country involved in Iraq, but only for the reason that I knew that leftists within this country would do everything within their power to frustrate the effort and would in fact make victory practically impossible.

Posted by: JDH on December 28, 2006 12:24 PM
25. > I agree that George W Bush was stupid to get this country involved in Iraq, but only for the reason that I knew that leftists within this country would do everything within their power to frustrate the effort and would in fact make victory practically impossible.

That is the dumbest argument against the war I have ever seen. Congratulations. You win the stupid war.

Posted by: brett on December 28, 2006 12:26 PM
26. scottd,

"Strangely, nobody has addressed my question of what Bush will do with his extra troops, or what results we can expect."

Maybe the reason that nobody addressed your question is that it is actually two questions, posed as one.

What will Bush 'do with his extra troops'? Nothing at all. They're not HIS troops, they're OUR troops. Maybe if you embraced that concept first, this country would be a tad bit more unified.

Unlike Democratic Presidents ~ Republican Presidents are perfectly happy to let their Generals wage war. The reason we conquered Iraq in 3 days and found Saddam hiding in a rat-hole a few months later is because President Bush doesn't control the movements of troops on the battefield. Perhaps if President Johnson wasn't personally directing air strikes and troop movements from the White House, the Viet Nam war would have had a slightly different outcome. But that's a different topic entirely.

As to what results we can expect, I'll let the experts in Washington DC answer that question. But I'll tell you, scottd, that you'll get better results when you don't expect one answer to multiple questions.

Posted by: Larry on December 28, 2006 12:55 PM
27. Eric: No offense taken, we're just two political junkies trying to understand each other. Right?

By the way, I read the links you mentioned. Barone rambled on with a history lesson about tough choices leaders have faced in previous wars and suggested that Bush needs to make up his own mind. I didn't see anything about what the mission would be for added soldiers in Iraq.

Lowry offered his own history lessons (Vietnam and the Civil War). Toward the bottom of one of his columns, he offered the opinion that Bush's "surge" would be useful for improving security for the civilian population. So can I take it that's what you think the mission would be, improve security for Iraq's civilians? I suppose the way to measure that will be to look for a decrease in the number of civilian casualties and attacks on civilians. Maybe we'll even see some of the Iraqi MPs (members of Parliament) who have fled the country return to live among their constituents.

I hope it works, but I'm doubtful. 10 - 30,000 extra troops doesn't sound like much -- even the upper end represents just a 20% increase. At the end of November, we had 140K troops in Iraq. Even if we can scrape together another 30K, that only takes us up to 170K. At various times in 2005, we've had more than 150K troops on the ground, sometimes as high as 160K. I don't recall a dramatic turnaround from those increases, so I don't see how 170K is going to be the magic number.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Posted by: scottd on December 28, 2006 01:08 PM
28.
It’s time for true Conservatives to admit that the Battle in Iraq has ground to a halt and recognize that we should support pulling back militarily from the quag in which it has become mired.

To tweak the metaphor a bit more – the wheels have come off the Neo-Con bus, and Conservatives should be tired of being thrown under it.

The U.S. met its military objectives long ago - with the crushing defeat of Iraq’s military, plucking Saddam Hussein from a spider-hole to face justice (string him up already!), and the long-overdue mission of verifying his ongoing schemes of illegal weapons programs.

But, the Neo-Con mission careened way off track and into the bog when the victory conditions morphed ineptly into imposing peace and harmony throughout Iraq and the region. These new victory conditions of forcing a “democratic” nirvana in Iraq were NOT specified by the force-authorization vote in Congress – which, by the way, was signed by nearly every liberal in Congress (although they lie about it now).

The latter fact notwithstanding, we can write off the Left in this argument – for they would despise Bush no matter what his actions – if he created programs to feed forlorn puppies and kittens, he would robotically be condemned by liberals for favoring the white kittens over the darker ones, and be accused of causing the achievement-gaps among the runts of the litters.

But we must come to terms with the fact that Bush’s Iraq policy, right now, is severely fracturing the Right, and threatens to cripple future Republican prospects into the foreseeable future!

To come to grips with this murky state of affairs, it is necessary to recognize that defining victory in Iraq as forcing peace and harmony (ensuring “stability and security”) and imposing “democracy” through foreign military coercion is sheer Neo-Con fantasy. (Note: Neo-Cons are not Conservatives at all – they are virulently for big-government socialism and coercion – “compassionate conservatism”) Conservatives rightly know that this policy is antithetical to forbidding U.S. military engagements from foreign nation-building, and of the adherence to exclusively protecting our national interest.

It is precisely by this over-reach, the rejection of traditional conservative foreign policy by which Neo-Cons have augered U.S. prestige into a marshy ditch. And it is precisely these morphed, utopian victory conditions which precipitated the fact that the Neo-Con administration can no longer tell you how victory will be achieved because its measure is nebulous at best - not to mention the impossibility of imposing a Mid-Eastern utopia.

Conservatives must ask, and Neo-Cons must answer, the following questions:
1) When in history has democracy successfully been imposed upon other people?
2) From what historical precedent do we believe this is possible in the Middle East?
3) From what authority do we believe that the U.S. Military shall be employed to achieve this?

After our commander-in-chief has polled everyone in sight as to devising his brand new strategy for extracting us from the quagmire, as we sit here poised to endure the Bush administration’s looming “Surge” strategy for victory in Iraq, we must pose the ultimate challenge to our Neo-Con friends:

How large a surge, exactly, in American blood, lives, and treasure is required to achieve “victory” in Iraq? And how exactly will we know when we’ve achieved it!?

How can a successful strategy ever be devised when the definition of victory keeps morphing into something which has yet to be defined (as witnessed by month after month of polling), its measure is vague at best (“stay the course”), its justification has near evaporated (“create democracy”), its authorization is non-existent (coercion “makes us safer”), and its viability has never been proven possible through historical precedence?

Is it not time for true Conservatives to be heard by denouncing this tragic Neo-Con folly in Iraq, and support a rational military pull-back in Iraq – reallocating resources to the larger War against Islamo-Fascism, and securing our national borders from invasion?

Brace yourselves, the Neo-Cons (right-wing totalitarians) will relentlessly howl “surrender”, “cut and run”, and the like when confronted by ANY attempt to detract them and expose their Middle East fantasy. And Conservatives should roundly expose these slogans as Neo-Con Propaganda which, by design, they virulently employ at every turn not only to brow-beat the Left (impossibly), but expressly to shame Conservatives into to continuing to go along for the ride.

Is it not time for Conservatives to stand up and call it like it is in Iraq?

~Jefferson Paine~

Posted by: Jefferson Paine on December 28, 2006 02:04 PM
29. Wishful thinking will not prevent the jihadis from attacking our country again. They did it once with devestating consequences in 2001 before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Prior to 9/11 Afghanistan was the headquarters of Al Qaeda and Iraq was a sponsor of international terrorist activites (witness the terrorist training facility as salman pak). Some islamic regimes in the Near East with a similar mindset as Al Qaeda's are working feverishly to develop nuclear weapons. If we were to run up the white flag and pull out of Iraq, Afghanistan and cut-off all our support for Israel tomorrow, I suspect we would still be on the receiving end of an atomic bomb courtesy of the "religion of peace" during the next few years. These attempted attacks are likely to happen regardless of attempts at appeasement. We can either fight them on their turf, or wait for them to bring jihad to America, again.

Posted by: Attila on December 28, 2006 02:04 PM
30. "Our real problem is not our strength today; it is rather the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow." -- Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States


"Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining
to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important
question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves." -- Joseph Warren (Boston Massacre Oration, 6 March 1775)

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskold on December 28, 2006 02:07 PM
31. "Conservatives must ask, and Neo-Cons must answer, the following questions:
1) When in history has democracy successfully been imposed upon other people?
2) From what historical precedent do we believe this is possible in the Middle East?
3) From what authority do we believe that the U.S. Military shall be employed to achieve this?"

We liberals were asking exactly these questions four years ago, and to this day we get an earful of personal attacks for it. Good luck getting answers, because once you question these people, they brand you a "terrorist sympathizer" who just doesn't share their awesomely great vision. (The same vision that never saw the Sunni insurgency coming, because a toppled elite would never fight to restore its' place, right?) No matter how many American soldiers die, just a few more maimed and killed will do the trick. Really. Just ask the war's suporters.

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 28, 2006 02:28 PM
32. 1) When in history has democracy successfully been imposed upon other people?
2) From what historical precedent do we believe this is possible in the Middle East?
3) From what authority do we believe that the U.S. Military shall be employed to achieve this?"

1) How about the USSR, DDR, Poland, Japan, etc., not to mention Iraq. In all of these countries a group of people in the country wanted democracy and forced it on the dictators and people that wanted the status quo. Iraq followed this with a massive turnout in an election.

2) The question makes no sense. Under what pretense does one assume that we are only permitted to do things that have been done before? How were they ever done the first time?

3) The constitution. This fell under national security, which many Dems supported, and which Dems such as Clinton started the policy of regime change, and Daschle declared Saddam an immenent danger. Bush followed through on this (following 19 UN resolutions) and then didn't just cut and run to let the next dictator take over.

You may still want a neo-con to answer this, but I gave it a shot...

Posted by: Right said Fred on December 28, 2006 02:51 PM
33. Fred,

1) Iraq notwithstanding, the only country you listed where democracy was imposed was Japan - but I'll give partial credit for picking the most successful place where it has been imposed. But why is it virtually the only place on earth where it has been successful? Because: a) The Japanese nation was literally nuked into abject military defeat (fertile ashes), b) Japan's Emperor was exposed as a mortal, rather than a deity, as he broke the spell via radio, c) Japanese culture was ubiquitously obedient and homogeneous, and d) It is an island nation surrounded by oceans which insulated it from destabilizing foreign incursions (especially with the U.S. occupation present). How do these success-factors compare to the modern situation in Iraq?
2) The question makes eminent sense in light of the answer (non-answer) as demonstrated in 1) above. I.e. there is NO historical precedence for successfully imposing "democracy" in the Middle East where we partially control a country filled with factions at each other's throats for centuries, where the borders are not secure from incursions (sound familiar?), where there entire culture is primitive, where theocracies and thuggery are the only politics they understand, etc. Alas, the question does not pertain to "permission to do things" (that's the gist of question 3), but goes straight to the heart of the chances of successfully creating a stable, healthy ally (aka nirvana) out of Iraq.
3) Sorry - there is no authority in the U.S. Constitution, or a section called "national security", which authorizes any U.S. military force to insert itself across the globe, remaking nations in our own image. The Constitution does authorize the POTUS to employ our military at his will - this is his legal authority - it is not the political authority to do anything he wishes with this authority. The authorization of the use of force against Iraq does contain the provision of "regime change" - this was accomplished long ago by removing Hussein and his instruments of power. The authorization by Congress does not state, however, that we will infuse unlimited surges of American blood and wealth in order to ensure peace and harmony among factions within Iraq.

-Jefferson Paine

Posted by: Jefferson Paine on December 28, 2006 04:05 PM
34. Libs like to toss around the term "neo-con," but I doubt most could provide an accurate definition without looking it up.

Swatter, I read the comments that you refer to about the accuracy of the Jawn Carri photo. There's followup on Michelle Malkin's website, and others, that tend to prove that the photo is exactly what shows, that the military personnel avoided Karri like the plague.

Please forgive my spelling and grammatical mistakes, I spent 12 years on active duty.

Posted by: Obi-Wan on December 28, 2006 04:53 PM
35. Wow Eric, if you really think only "liberals" will be upset about a troop increase to Iraq then you've truly not been paying attention to the world outside your local neighborhood.

Posted by: Daniel K on December 28, 2006 08:54 PM
36. Daniel -

No, I don't think that. I think liberals are the ones who will squawk the most though. I could tick off a long list of folks who will be upset: Paleo-cons like Pat Buchanan (and Jefferson Paine in this thread), libertarians like Bruce Ramsey, mainstream conservatives concerned about Republican chances in '08 with a troop increase, etc. And of course, few on your side of the aisle will have anything nice to say about such plans in public. One of my main points was that true, proud liberals will be the most vocally incensed, including some of your peers in the blogosphere.

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 28, 2006 09:29 PM
37. "One of my main points was that true, proud liberals will be the most vocally incensed..."

Darn right we will. We opposed this folly from the outset, and accurately predicted how it could go wrong. "I believe the President would mislead the American people," is how Rep. McDermott phrased it. Events proved his prediction exactly right, at a huge cost of American lives and treasure.

Counter-insurgency is a very slow and methodical process, not amenable to a "surge" (by which we here mean "short-term escalation") of 10-20% in the occupiers' troop levels. Since our invasion created the very conditions which support the insurgency, claiming that throwing more Americans at the problem is just insanity. An insanity which will result in more dead American soldiers. As an American liberal, I'm truly proud to "be the most vocally incensed" about such a profligate waste of American lives.

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 28, 2006 10:22 PM
38. Bush is not deranged, he is just not a very bright man. Like 20,000 extra troops is really going to do anything this is just stupid. Try 500,000 if you want to make a difference.

The US and the Military has lost all confidence in these idiots running the war and the country. Jeez, their fellow idiots in Israel could not defeat Hezbollah either.

To win we you have to actually have to try kill people and damage things, which is something the current administration and the Israelis are not really confortable with .... for example, how many Al Queda terrorists have been put to death since 9/11 Answer: 0. Number of US soliders charged with crimes leading to the death penalty 10+.

Posted by: John McDonald on December 28, 2006 10:48 PM
39. Let me see if I got this right: Eric is celebrating this latest "adjustement to US policy in Iraq of adding additional troops" because it will make the liberals angry, and not because there is any logical reason why it will succeed. Crazy man. And they call us the ones who don't support the troops.

Posted by: Unkl Witz on December 28, 2006 11:07 PM
40. Eric is only 31, still prime fighting age. But of course he's too important (meaning chickens--t) to enlist in the war, and the cause, that he believes in so fervently.

He'd rather quote great military thinkers like Rich Lowry, who would poop his pants if anybody said BOO to him, and talk about how "liberals are going to go ballistic," as if we were the problem.

We were right about this war from the beginning, Eric, and you were wrong, and all your little "gotcha" games won't erase that fact.

Osama is using you chickenhawk warbloggers, not us, as recruiting tools. You 28 percenters are the real "dhimmis," and you're all too "dhim" to get it.

Posted by: ivan on December 29, 2006 08:08 AM
41. 300,000 troops short and 3 years late, but otherwise the logic of actually trying to win a war you start is a great idea.

The numbers afflicted with BDS are reaching startling proportions, aren't they? What would be interesting is a list of those who seem to be immune.

Posted by: Nancy on December 29, 2006 08:55 AM
42. My, oh my. Earling is going full-on wingnut here. Awesome!! I guess Eric and the whopping 11% of the American public who think this is a good idea are pretty sure they're right about it. I think more Americans believe that they've been abducted by UFO's.

Posted by: thehim on December 29, 2006 09:08 AM
43. #33 Jefferson. The part of section 8 of the constitution below - bolding added - is national security, stated as 'common Defence and general welfare of the US'

"Section 8 - Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States>/b>; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"

As far as 2 - you say and re-emphasize the fact that no new thought is permitted, as there has not been an "historical precedence". Personally I think some new action are permitted, even if humans have not yet done it.

Posted by: Right said Fred on December 29, 2006 09:40 AM
44. Fred,

Our founding document, and supreme law states, "Constitution of the United States WE THE PEOPLE...establish this Constitution for the United States of America".

You'll notice that nowhere does it say "of, or for the World".

Yes, Congress has the power to provide financing for our DEFENSE. Again, I'm not disputing the POTUS' legal authority (legal "permission"), I'm questioning Bush' authorization as he sought from Congress for the use of military force in Iraq (political "permission"). Nowhere in the authorization from Congress does it call for an unlimited nation-building project (for our own "defense").

Lastly, historical precedence can and is telling us an awful lot as to the wisdom of creating "democracies" through foreign military interventions with a fraction of the force necessary in a back-assward country.

Posted by: Jefferson Paine on December 29, 2006 12:14 PM
45. Jefferson - I did not (mean) to say that we go in anywhere any time. But Iraq was deemed (rightfully or not) a US national security issue. It was on that basis that we went in.

Posted by: Right said Fred on December 29, 2006 01:57 PM
46. "I could tick off a long list of folks who will be upset..."

It would be much quicker to name every last citizen in the country who wouldn't be upset. And give brief biographical sketches of them. And list their shoe sizes. (And that much smaller number, their I.Q. levels. At least this last would be just a single digit.)

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 29, 2006 04:33 PM
47. I think it will be great fun when Bush does not bow to the Baker Capitulation Commission.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 29, 2006 04:46 PM
48. Puddy Mac,
I think 5-10% of them are in this comment thread. The truly amazing thing is that in order to still believe that there's a military solution in Iraq, it's imperative that you've already bought into a massive pile up BS already. Most people in this country don't pay attention to politics. As a result, the only way you can have 11% support for a particular policy is when the people who aren't drinking the Kool-Aid are unaminously in agreement about it. Think about that for a second. When people who aren't paying attention all come to the same obvious conclusion, what does that say about the people who are (supposedly) paying attention and disagree with that obvious conclusion?

It means they're brainwashed.

Posted by: thehim on December 29, 2006 05:33 PM
49. Bill Cruchon @ 47:

I hope it is a lot of fun for you. It will not be a lot of fun for our fighting men and women whose lives this amoral, incompetent president has wasted on a war that should never have begun, while those who attacked us have gotten away. Have your fun. Laugh, you damn fool.

Posted by: ivan on December 29, 2006 10:17 PM
50. Ivan, the fighting men and women you refer to are volunteers. Maybe you should talk to some of them.

Evidently you support cutting and running. That worked out so well in Vietnam, didn't it?

As for swearing at me, wow, what a tough guy.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 09:53 AM
51. Cutting and running? Like Bush did in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden was and still is, and where the Taliban who supported him, the real "Islamofascists," are on the verge of taking the country back again?

Don't talk to me about "cutting and running." Bush has done that already, with those who attacked us.

Twist yourself into knots trying to support that.

Posted by: ivan on December 30, 2006 10:31 AM
52. I don't get this whole agrument that the War on Terror simply consists of killing Osama.

Well, actually I do. It has to do with the Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 11:15 AM
53. Bush Derangement Syndrome is exactly what it is. We probably define it quite differently.

Posted by: ivan on December 30, 2006 11:23 AM
54. So Saddam should still be in power?

I'm much happier with where his is now.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 11:27 AM
55. I think Eric makes a great point at the end of his post. If Bush defies the pathetic Baker Capitulation Commission's recommendations and calls for more troops he puts the Democrats in a box. Hillary and Obama will be forced to define their positions instead of doing the dance. Edwards, out of office, with his anti-war stance, stands to benefit here. I think the most interesting thing will be to observe how far the left will go to keep Hillary's boat afloat. Methinks it's a sinking ship.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 12:01 PM
56. Don't kid yourself, Bill. Check the polls including this one of the military rank and file. Review the 2006 election results. We've had enough. Bush may get his escalation, but when it leads to more of the same or worse, it'll be the GOP that suffers in 2008, not the Democrats.

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 12:19 PM
57. "I don't get this whole agrument that the War on Terror simply consists of killing Osama."

It doesn't. Today's P.I. notes that the resurging Taliban killed more Alliance soldiers in Afghanistan in 2006 than it had since the fighting of 2001. They want to rule again, and they can then play host to other Islamic extremists -- again. Pat Tillman will then have died for less than nothing. Having defeated the Americans in open battle, the Taliban will inspire even more Islamic terror around the world. What better proof of having Allah on their side could they possibly have, than defeating us militarily?

Bush has defined his entire Presidency in terms of a 'War on Terror' which Congress never declared, and which we're now losing. Our entire imperial military (mis)adventure in Iraq has worked against our efforts on terror worldwide, and any escalation there will just further sap our strength. Why can the President's supporters not see these obvious truths?

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 30, 2006 12:57 PM
58. Why can the President's supporters not see these obvious truths?

Many of them already have -- they're the folks who took Bush's approval ratings from the 60s down into the low 30s.

Many of the people left have the same problem Bush suffers from -- they can't admit to making a mistake no matter how stark the evidence. Maybe that's what they mean by "Bush Derangement Syndrome."

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 01:37 PM
59. scottd @ 58:

Well, that's certainly what I meant by it.

Posted by: ivan on December 30, 2006 02:18 PM
60. I notice my question went unanswered: Would you Bush critics prefer that Saddam have remained in power?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 02:47 PM
61. That should have been "had" remained in power. My bad.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 02:49 PM
62. Don't be silly, Bill. I doubt that you'll find anyone who would have preferred that Saddam Hussein remained in power. He was a bad guy and I'm glad he's gone.

But he wasn't worth 3000 American lives (and counting), nor the mess we've created. Not by a long shot.

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 03:14 PM
63. So scottd, what should we have done instead?

And, just so I understand your position, do you think conquering Germany and Japan was worth all the lives it cost?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 03:22 PM
64. Bill: We should have left Saddam in the box we had him in and concentrated on capturing OBL and making certain the Taliban was finished off. Saddam wasn't a threat to us; OBL had already attacked us and promises to do it again.

If you don't already understand the differences between WWII Japan and Iraq, I'm not going to be able to explain them to you in a few paragraphs. I will give you a hint: One of those countries attacked U.S. territory and had the capacity to do more of the same.

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 03:58 PM
65. You dodged my question scottd. Was conquering Germany and Japan worth the lives it cost?

Another question; would we be safe from muslim terrorism if we captured Osama? Evidently the left thinks that's all there is to it.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 04:12 PM
66. Bill: I joined this thread to talk about Iraq and Bush's failure there, not to answer your silly and obvious questions about WWII -- so that's all you get from me on that one.

On your second question: No. Since I don't speak for "the left", I don't have much to add to your last remark. However, I suspect that the number of mainstream Democrats who think that muslim terrorism can be stopped simply by capturing OBL is approximately the same as the number who think it is a bad thing that Saddam is no longer in power.

Any other questions I can help you out on?

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 04:27 PM
67. What's wrong, scottd? If it's a "silly and obvious" question why can't you answer it?

The truth is you lefties don't have answers for anything. All you have done for the past 6-years is Bush bash.

Your time is running out. You have to come up with some answers and they better make more sense than that idiotic Baker Commission.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 04:40 PM
68. Bill: You don't know anything about me other than that I don't think Bush is doing the right thing in Iraq and I don't think escalating the war is a good idea. That puts me in line with 70% and 80% of the country, respectively. If "the left" has really grown that much, I don't think it's their side that is running out of time.

Enjoy your time in the political minority. Thanks to Bush, I think you're going to be there for a while, especially if he gets his way on escalating the war in Iraq.

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 05:00 PM
69. So what is a "good idea" at this point scottd?

You're full of criticism and talking points but what do you think should be done? Run away? Sit down and talk with that loon in Iran? Partition Israel? Tell us.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 05:24 PM
70. scottd--you're a COWARD for avoiding Bill's direct question.

Ivan aka Jurrasic Crisco: You have an open invitation to get up in my face [after all, you advocate this] and take the same tone with me that you take with several of the posters in this thread. I await with baited breath...

Posted by: YourLifeIsMyFault on December 30, 2006 05:29 PM
71. Bill: I honestly don't know what, if anything, will achieve a good result in Iraq. By that, I mean that I don't know if we can achieve a stable, democratic government that is allied with us rather than, say, Iran. It could be that all we are left with is choosing the best of increasingly bad options. Of course, we can always make things worse. If staying makes things worse than leaving, then we should obviously start planning on the best way to effect that exit. A planned exit leaves us better options than a forced rout although I'll admit, none of the options look very attractive.

Now, I've tried to answer a number of your questions, at least the ones that were on topic. How about being a sport and taking a shot at a couple from me?

Rumor has it that Bush is thinking of sending 15-30K more troops to Iraq for a brief (6 month?) "surge". Bear in mind that this will only increase our forces by 10 - 20%; we would then have 155 - 170K troops in Iraq. We've already had times when our troop strength ranged from 150 - 160K (see 2005), so it doesn't sound like this will really be much different from what we've already seen.

So, if Bush gets his surge, do you think we will see a measurable decrease in violence six months later? Will Iraqi civilian casualties drop? How about US losses? If the violence doesn't drop, what do you think the political climate will be in the US when folks realize that Bush's "double down" gambit has also failed?

Anxiously awaiting your reply...

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 05:52 PM
72. There is a marked difference scottd, between asking questions and predicting the future.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 06:23 PM
73. So, I'll just mark you down for advocating action without considering likely outcomes.

I think I'm beginning to understand how we've come to be in this mess.

It's been nice chatting with you, Bill.

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 06:34 PM
74. "So, I'll just mark you down for advocating action without considering likely outcomes"

Sheesh! So then I guess I will mark you down for advocating non-action without considering likely outcomes.

Again and again you lefties show that you don't know what in the world to do. Your best answer is to have tea with that nut in Iran who just hosted the Holocaust Denial Seminar. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.


Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 30, 2006 07:36 PM
75. "Again and again you lefties show that you don't know what in the world to do. Your best answer is to have tea with that nut in Iran who just hosted the Holocaust Denial Seminar. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic."

Four years ago, Rep. McDermott strongly adovcated against taking the actions which led us here. Citizens flooded the streets of the world's cities, warning of a disaster if we invaded. Americans who'd lost friends or family members on 9/11 -- like my sister had -- urged us to stay focused on the Islamic extremists who had attacked us, and leave the secular despot in his box, where he in turn contained the radical Islamists in Iran.

Now that we've been proven completely right, and all of the war's supporters have been proven completely wrong, a war supporter asks us whatto do -- for the very first time, after years of umitigated failure. Well, doing more of what hasn't worked doesn't strike us as a good idea, and this post existed just to mock us for making that obvious observation.

Of what purpose is there in even asking us? Is the President suddenly going to start listening to us? The Iraq Study Group did not contain one opponent of the invasion or occupation, and the President immediately anounced, in effect, that he'd ignore their suggestions. The only things the new Congress can do is threaten to eliminate funding, and then actually do it if the President ignores them. We liberals -- and not all Democrats are liberals - - thus have one or two blunt instruments to use. Now that the U.S. lacks any good options, you ask us, who might or might not have just the bluntest of instruments, what we'd do. We told you what (not) to do years ago, and you ignored us. Now that you can't fix it, you attack us further for having been right all along.

What I wouldn't give for a few adults around here...

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 30, 2006 08:02 PM
76. What I wouldn't give for a few adults around here...

Good luck on that, Paddy.

Posted by: scottd on December 30, 2006 08:17 PM
77. So are you actually saying that you believe Saddam should have been left in power in order to contain Iran, Paddy?

Please confirm that this is what you believe. Amazing.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 31, 2006 08:19 AM
78. Bill.

What PM was saying is.....

Neeeneer neeeneeer Neeeneer, us Lib's were right. We win the contest of right or wrong.

Sorry PM, War is not black or white.

Kinda like a traffic jam. You drive on a freeway, you get stuck in a jam. You have a couple of options. Stay in the jam until it clears, or pull off to side of road and park it.

It is clear to me, you would park it and walk, leaving your auto on the side of road for someone to tow. I am sure the tow truck driver, named Saddam will tow it home at no charge.

Posted by: Chris on December 31, 2006 08:33 AM
79. Interesting debate here fellas.

I remain intrigued by this idea scottd supports that we could have just left Saddam "in the box we had him in." That box was collapsing, with support for ongoing sanctions decreasing - see Russia, France, & China - while Saddam was gaming the Oil-for-Food program to enrich himself and maintain WMD programs (regardless of the lack of actual stockpiles). All this and a guy who consistently supported anti-Western terrorists aside from al Qaeda. I don't see how under the Bush doctrine of meeting threats before they reach US soil you can leave that situation to its status quo ante.

We can argue all we want about the conduct of the war to this point, and give requisite criticism to the Administration's overly broad rhetoric related to imminent threat (especially from Cheney). But, the basic problem the US faced remains.

Liberals are unhappy with the course of the war, and most Americans aren't too thrilled in totality. Yet, I still don't see those arguing with Bill on this thread putting forward coherent ideas on how Saddam should have been dealt with or what our policy in Iraq should be now. In fact, the notion put forward by Paddy Mac to cut funding for the war reeks of the Vietnam-era retreatist mentality that saddled Democrats with such a bad image in national security that John Kerry was still trying to overcome it in 2004.

With all that in mind, if the above comments are what liberals/war opponents really want, then Edwards will start looking increasingly good. He's actually calling for pulling out 40-50k troops now, no questions asked. No way Obama or Clinton can match that, it would be a flip flop from their past statements. I don't think Bush is giving politics any consideration in his pending Iraq policy announcement, but it will obviously have political implications for the '08 field right away.

Lastly, I should note I think the discussion of Afghanistan here is flawed. The Taliban was harboring al Qaeda, an organization itself which now appears to be a mere shadow of its pre-9/11 self. What critics are calling for is for us to have somehow magically taken care of a long running civil war in Afghanistan between assorted war lords and more extremist Muslims. That conflict still continues (and it appears unless someone can magically calm a restive populace in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have known war virtually their entire lifetimes then what critics are looking for in Afghanistan isn't going to happen). Afghanistan's lack of civil society makes Iraq look like a thriving, stable democracy by comparison. The US goal was to dethrone the Taliban and eliminate a safe haven for al Qaeda. To the degree possible that was done. Don't confuse the continuation of a historical, internal conflict with some sort of rise of al Qaeda again in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 31, 2006 08:54 AM
80. Welcome back, Eric!

The box we had Saddam in after Desert Storm may have had leaks -- we live in an imperfect world -- but it was doing its job. The fact is, Saddam's ability to wage war and trouble his neighbors continued to deteriorate to the point where he was simply not a threat outside of Iraq's borders and certainly not a threat to the U.S.

I'm not sure what you mean by "maintaining a WMD program", because there were certainly no tangible results, which is all that matters. By 2003, Saddam had much less than he did at the end of Desert Storm -- basically, he had nothing except a few rusting shells of mustard and nerve gas that his bureaucracy had lost track of.

Was Saddam's box collapsing? It's true that the leaks in containment were increasing, but it's not clear that would have led to Iraq someday becoming a threat. There's lots that could have happened, including improved cooperation with other nations following 9/11. Either way, it's just speculation. One thing is clear, we had plenty of time to observe what was happening and try less drastic, less costly, and less destablizing tactics. There was no imminent threat so there was no need to rush. The cost and subsequent failure of that rush to battle are now clear to most of us. Regretably, those costs are likely to become clearer as time progresses.

I think you're going to be very disappointed when we finally hear the details of Bush's "new way forward." Latest reports are that Bush will be asking for 17 - 20,000 more troops over our current level of 134,000 -- that may be all he can muster. (My earlier figure of 140,000 troops was for the month of November.) That would put total U.S. strength at 151,000 to 154,000. We've been there before; in 2005 we had several months of over 150,000 troops, peaking at 160,000 -- and we all remember what a banner year 2005 was in terms of reducing violence and increasing security in Iraq! That's not a "surge". Once folks realize that the hyped "new way forward" is actually more of the same, there will be hell to pay. I wouldn't want to be a GOP candidate in 2008. It's not just liberals who have had enough.

Maybe we can discuss this further in later threads. Have a Happy New Year!

Posted by: scottd on December 31, 2006 11:20 AM
81. "So are you actually saying that you believe Saddam should have been left in power in order to contain Iran, Paddy? Please confirm that this is what you believe. Amazing."

Having his hostile regime on their border was a slight benefit to us. We should have left him there because he didn't threaten us. We have terrorists to fight in Afghanistan, who are now resurgent due to our military focus on Iraq. One consequence of removing him has been to strengthen Iran's extremist theocracy.

"In fact, the notion put forward by Paddy Mac to cut funding for the war..."

Bill asked me what we liberals should do. I noted that the Administration has ignored us for years, and has indicated that it will continue to do so. Therefore, the only practical thing we can do is threaten to eliminate funding.

"...reeks of the Vietnam-era retreatist mentality that saddled Democrats with such a bad image in national security that John Kerry was still trying to overcome it in 2004."

When a series of bad executive decisions have left few legislative options, de-funding the effort is one of the most effective. That problem exists so long as we have our system of government, and executives who believe they can ignore all external reality and impose military solutions beyond our means. If this weak 'surge' does go through and fail, I wouldn't want to be a Republican candidate facing security-minded voters in 2008. Polling prior to November 2006 showed that the Republicans had lost their aura of superiority on security matters already. This failed 'surge' might leave them looking weak for a generation or two.

Happy New Year, and may all of our soldiers in Iraq make it home alive and well someday.

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 31, 2006 12:19 PM
82. Are you more concerned about polls, Paddy Mac, than what the future course of action should be?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 31, 2006 01:48 PM
83. Defeatism does not sit well with the American self-image, Eric:

"The US goal was to dethrone the Taliban and eliminate a safe haven for al Qaeda. To the degree possible that was done. Don't confuse the continuation of a historical, internal conflict with some sort of rise of al Qaeda again in Afghanistan."

Afghnistan had a working government and civil society until the late 1970s. There's no law of history which precludes functioning government there. As then-Governor Bush sneered in 2000, nation-building is a very long and difficult process. We were still actively (and heavily) involved on the ground in West Germany and Japan for many years after the Second World War ended. We didn't want to be there, but we recognized the disasters which could happen if we departed prematurely.

2006 was a very bad year for NATO forces in Afghanistan, who, despite the quoted disclaimer, still work to establish a functioning government there. The Taliban is very much resurgent there, and intend to rule again. They could then again harbor terrorists, and claim that their comeback was divinely-borne, their all-powerful Allah defeating the heathen and corrupt America. We don't yet know which consequence of invading and occupying Iraq will prove the most harmful to long-term American interests, but allowing the Taliban a break could be it.

The 9/11 Commission's Report warns about allowing failed states to fester, since these regions will allow terrorists to hide. Routing the Taliban in 2001 will have become worse than useless if we permit them another chance. Which we're doing, and may well continue to do for the next two years, since our Administration ignores all critics and makes no adjustments to reality. In that, Eric, your defeatism is well-founded.

"Are you more concerned about polls, Paddy Mac, than what the future course of action should be?"

That's a question for Eric, who included the issue of political perception (I'm guessing) to preclude the only options available to the Democratic Congress. I've never been a member of any political party, and I won't be a Republican cadidate in 2008, attempting to explain why a party whose leaders have miserably failed to increase our security -- despite spending more than a trillion dollars, and more than three thousand American lives -- should get another chance.

This post existed to mock some loyal citizens, in anticipation that the escalation of an obviously failed military occupation would rouse us to loud protest against such murderously unimaginative idiocy. The author clearly put ridiucule ahead of dialgoue. Effin' Unsound appropriately responded with better ridicule, but a few of us actually tried to engage in dialogue with proponents of a failed policy. If our attempt at dialogue failed, at least we tried.

I honestly don't know which of our dwindling number of unpalatable options would be least painful for everyone, and least harmful to long-term American interests. I do know that any deviation from our failed policies will have to wait for either an unprecedented change of attitude by our Administration, or a new Administration. Barring a near-miracle, nothing we've discussed here will have the slightest effect upon the utter failures to which our Administration ignorantly clings.

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 31, 2006 03:39 PM
84. "Liberals are About to Go Apoplectic"

Some evidently already have, see above.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 31, 2006 04:02 PM
85. '84. "Liberals are About to Go Apoplectic"
'Some evidently already have, see above.'

If the above responses appear 'apoplectic', I can only wonder how the upcoming Congressional oversight hearings will sound. Rep. Murtha has promised twice-daily sessions for at least the next few months, and he's not known for a carefully diplomatic approach. His investigation of a policy which has clearly failed, failed badly, and continues to receive unqualified support from the Administration which concocted it, should provide no shortage of fireworks, especially if the Administration resists his subpoenas.

In sincerely hope that you enjoy your cups of kindness tonight, since they well may be the last such that your fellow Americans hand you for quite a time. One of my New Year's resolutions forbids any future attempts to explain the obvious to the irrelevant; I leave that to the more-talented humorists at Effin' Unsound, whose work I can peruse at leisure.

Posted by: Paddy Mac on December 31, 2006 05:27 PM
86. Paddy Mac - I think you misunderstood my point about Afghanistan. I'm not advocating defeatism as you say, I'm saying we should have realistic expectations about what can be created in the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban post 9/11. If you want to make the argument that Afghanistan was somehow ever a stable, well-functioning society in the past century then be my guest. That's a broader debate we'll have to agree to disagree on.

Also this post was not meant to mock "loyal citizens." It's not a question of loyalty or mockery. I'm simply making the point to SP readers that liberals are going to go bonkers if Bush actually says he's increasing troop levels in Iraq. At the same time I'm questioning the validity of their insistence that withdrawal is what the electorate wants, and that withdrawal is good policy.

scottd - we too will have to agree to disagree about the utility of the "box" Saddam was in prior to the 2003 invasion. I disagree pretty strongly with your position, but I doubt either of us is going to sway the other. Also, I think you're speculating too much on what Bush will do based on press reports that continue to vary wildly in their description of what will or will not occur. I think it best just to wait and see what Bush actually does before rendering judgment further.

Happy New Year all.

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 31, 2006 05:58 PM
87. One of the wonderful things that this blog accomplishes is that on occasion it stunningly illustrates the character of the post-1960's left, (I'm overlooking their very interesting obsession with the f-word that Mr. Goldstein seems to feel is needed for emphasis in nearly every paragraph he writes over at HA. Perhaps that tells us more about the "character" of the left than anything posted here).

If one has the fortitude to review the comments by our left wing friends above it will be clear that the general theme is 6-years of Bush hatred. That tiresome theme overwhelms virtually every single comment by the leftists on this thread. As much as we try to achieve some clarity from leftist commentators in terms of a "new direction" in Iraq or the War on Terror in general, they return invariably to the theme of "it's all Bush's fault". Even if that's so, where do we go from here? They evidently have no idea.

What in the world is the left going to do when the Bush is out of office and they actually have to come up with answers?

And incidentally, bring on the Murtha hearings. I can't wait.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 31, 2006 06:23 PM
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