Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 22, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

LOSING THE WAR....Max Boot is a smart writer. Like any good neocon, he wants to convince us that we need to stay in Iraq. Unlike the sophomoric warblogger crowd, however, he opens his pitch today by spending several paragraphs acknowledging that the war has gone worse and lasted longer than anyone anticipated. Then, after softening us up with his reasonableness, he tells us what we should do:

Instead of talking about how quickly we can get out, the administration should be talking more about how we can win this war. That may actually require sending more troops perhaps an extra division or two to help secure Baghdad and Anbar provinces. The administration's continuing unwillingness to adequately police Iraq, or to increase the permanent size of the U.S. Army, suggests the need for a thorough spring cleaning at the Department of Defense.

If President Bush announced that he was firing Donald Rumsfeld, limiting Dick Cheney's future activities to attendance at foreign funerals, and sending a couple more divisions to Iraq, even I might be willing to grudgingly concede that there was at least a slim chance of winning the war. But this is fantasyland. Bush thinks Rumsfeld is doing a great job, we don't have a couple of divisions to ship to Iraq, and Bush quite clearly doesn't think we need to do that anyway.

Given the reality that Boot thinks (a) the war is going very badly and (b) Bush is clearly not willing to do the things he thinks are necessary to win, why continue to support it? Does he just enjoy watching people die pointlessly? Or does he lack the guts to admit that Bush is an unserious clown who ought to be impeached for wartime malfeasance? Inquiring minds want to know.

Kevin Drum 12:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (101)

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Comments

So what if Max Boot thinks GW should fire Rumsfeld??

Whoop tee doo.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 22, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Max Boot is a smart writer."

*cough*

I have a riding lawnmower that puts together smarter columns than Das Boot.

Posted by: bill on March 22, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Because it takes humility to admitt you're wrong and that's the one critical component that is missing from George Bush and co.

Posted by: ELR on March 22, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Does he just enjoy watching people die pointlessly? Or does he lack the guts to admit that Bush is an unserious clown who ought to be impeached for wartime malfeasance?

Why not both?

Posted by: craigie on March 22, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Um, "The War" is over. That ended once we destroyed Iraq's regular military force, something that didn't take much time at all. This isn't a war, it's an insurgency, and even doubling the number of troops in the country probably wouldn't make a difference. Could the state of California be pacified with 130,000 troops?

We are this this sad situation because people DO see this as still a war, where the measure of winning is how many people we kill. That didn't work in Vietnam. That won't work here.

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on March 22, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I listened to Bush's press conference.

Bush is determined to see this through to the end. And yes, he knows the cut-and-run caucus have already abandoned him (and Iraq). Yes, he knows he can't count on the Dems. He even acknowledged some Republicans are getting skittish.

But Bush is listening to the generals on the ground, not blow-hard politicans, and not bloggers.

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 22, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

The President must be supported at all times in all situations ... unless he gets a blow job.

If you people had supported him, thousands of troops would still be alive today, and freedom would be flowering for all! And Al would have saved every single blastocyst that has failed to grow up to be a Republican!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 22, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think the trouble the warbloggers are having is that there is NO option that won't result in MORE chaos and bloodshed, and they can't quite bring themselves to advocate more chaos and bloodshed.

Not that they had any trouble advocating it before, of course, but that was in the service of a Noble Cause.

Now they're stuck. And if the only way out is through the magic wardrobe into fantasy-land, well, they're just following their Leader.

(Their other dodge seems to be, "well what would YOU do?" To which of course the answer is, "this is YOUR war; *I* said from the beginning we never should have got into it.")

I'm finding it awfully hard to feel sorry for the poor warbloggers these days.

Posted by: bleh on March 22, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Don't take it so seriously. Boot's just doing his prep work for the "who lost Iraq"/"stab in the back" phase. "As I wrote in March 2006, we'd have won if only . . ."

Posted by: penalcolony on March 22, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Per Glenn Reyolds we must "Win". How about it Glenn? More troops? If so, why don't you join up? "What, my blog is an essential wartime service. I am the General of the Army of Davids!".

Posted by: lk on March 22, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Das Boot (Boat) stills believes he has a few torpedoes left before his return to Brest,er the Potomac. His glorious leader may still award him with the Iron Albatross and Medal of Futilitydom.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 22, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

FrequencyKenneth: maybe so, but to WHAT end? How many more dead Iraqis, and dead and wounded Americans? How much more money? And for what -- a twin of Iran?

It really does matter what you're working toward, not just that you're determined to "see it through."

Posted by: bleh on March 22, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

"TURN ON THE GENOCIDE MACHINE"

Posted by: R.L. on March 22, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Could we start by defining exactly what "the war" and "win" mean? The Radicals love to natter on about 'moving the goalposts', but I have never been quite sure exactly what field we are on much less the victory conditions. So Kevin - what is your definition of "winning"?

Cranky

Perhaps then you could go on to explain how a 'few divisions' more infantrymen could bring that about.

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 22, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative writers are hired by the big media **as conservatives** -- to represent a point of view. They're not hired for their knowledge, their experience, or their good judgment. They're like Soviet political commissars, or mobster officers of a corrupt union local. They don't report to the publication they "work for", but to someone else, perhaps Norquist or Rove. If they were to change their minds, the accusations of liberal bias would start up all over again.

That's why David Brooks is so bad at the Times. He doesn't really work for the Times.

Posted by: John Emerson on March 22, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Not longer than anyone anticipated, Kevin. Maybe longer than you anticipated. Certainly longer than Boot and his comrades anticipated. But not longer than anyone familiar with Iraqi history and the history of insurgencies generally anticipated. I have never understood what made people think that the Iraqis would want a western-style, secular democracy, or that they would want it imposed by the US. This was absolutely nuts from the start and the result was utterly predictable.

And you are nuts to even contemplate that we could "win" this unwinnable situation absent imposition, with triple or quadruple the number of troops we have sent, of a police state there for the next ten years or so. But wasn't that why we got rid of Saddam? And would it be "winning"?

Posted by: David in NY on March 22, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK
The administration's continuing unwillingness to adequately police Iraq, or to increase the permanent size of the U.S. Army, suggests the need for a thorough spring cleaning at the Department of Defense. blockquote>

Since in order to keep the Army at its current size it has proven necessary to radically boost incentives and lower standards, I think "ability" is more important than "willingness", here.

As long as Iraq is going on, the only way to significantly boost the size of the Army is to abandon the all-volunteer force.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 22, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

You know Kevin, I've decided what we need to do is bring back the Court Jester position. In the middle ages many Kings and maybe Queens saw the need for one honest soul in the room who could tell His Highness the truth. Let's make it a semi cabinet level position and see if we can't turn this thing around.

Posted by: ELR on March 22, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

...[I would]....grudgingly concede that there was at least a slim chance of winning the war.

Victory for these guys does not mean what you think it means.

Posted by: lib on March 22, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Post-impeachment, he ought to be shipped to the Hague.

Posted by: Name on March 22, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Max Boot is a "smart writer"? The only intelligent, if sleazy, thing I know of him is stealing the title of Alastair Horne's magnificent history of the war of Algerian independence, A Savage War of Peace for some tract of his own. He's really just the missing third man of the Boots of Evelyn Waugh's great satire of journalism, Scoop.

Posted by: James Wimberley on March 22, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Why not both?

craigie, my love, good to see you. Kiss kiss (in the most effete limousine liberal way).

lib: Victory for these guys does not mean what you think it means.

Bingo.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

John Emerson's point about who David Brooks works for is spot on. Max Boot is paid not to merely offer his opinions, he's paid to skew opinions the way the Republican's Mighty Wurlitzer wants them skewed. The Los Angeles Times has to know this, but they choose not to care because it's just business.

Posted by: David W. on March 22, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

FrequencyKenneth (and all other trolls for that matter):

It's not that lefties like me want Iraq to be lost.. That's absurd. We have family members in the military also, y'know.

The problem is that this president cannot define for us what victory would be. To be honest, I doubt that even he knows. Clearly, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight was so busy BS'ing us on WMD that they didn't prepare for the postwar, and now it's coming back to bite them.

Posted by: mmy on March 22, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin?

Where is Max suggesting that we GET those "extra few divisions"??

Where do YOU think we could get an extra division or two?

'Cause it seems to me that there really ain't no mo' 'less you and Max, and a bunch of other folks are willing to enlist right about...NOW!

Posted by: RedDan on March 22, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't heard much srious discussion of what the term 'winning' really means in Iraq.

1)Killing or imprisioning all Iraqis resistant to foreign occupation and/or opposition to what they perceive as a puppet government?

2)Creating some sort of stable society where Sunni/Shiite/Kurd aren't engaged in secular/tribal infighting?

3)Creating some sort of regime compliant to US control with plenty of military bases for future use in the region?

4)Creation of an democratically elected Islamic Fundementalist state politically aligned with Iran?

5)Permanent destruction of Iraq as a functional nation that could potentially challenge US interests or allies (read Israel).
(Well, mission accomplished on this one)


Posted by: Buford on March 22, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

If the US is willing to put 500,000 soldiers in Iraq, spend sums that make today's spending look like microscopic droplets, and be willing to keep the troop and spending levels up for at least a decade, we MAY emerge from Iraq leaving behind something resembling a competent and representative democracy in Iraq. Any takers?

Posted by: Wombat on March 22, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

To increase troop strength in Iraq would almost certainly require a draft. That would be asking personal sacrifice from a large segment of the populace that has heretofore had not felt the impact of the war. Bush may have once had the political capital to ask that of the American people. He no longer does. Demonstrations like those against the Vietnam War would immediately ensue.

Posted by: NeilS on March 22, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Here is the official motto of the Democratic party:

"When in danger, when in doubt, run and scream, jump and shout."

Posted by: BigRiver on March 22, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Lost me entirely here: "Max Boot is a smart writer."

Ugh.

Compared to what exactly? Our trolls?

Posted by: CFShep on March 22, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody above asked what "the war" and "win" mean. Frankly, I would like to the identity of "the enemy." GWB uses the term freely in every public utterance, but he never seems to be clear on exactly who he means. Could somebody tell me? Please.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 22, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Wombat - count me as a No vote.

Posted by: lk on March 22, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

kevin: why continue to support it?


well for boot and the few dead enders left, its easy..

party over country....

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on March 22, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Bush is an unserious clown who ought to be impeached [emphasis mine]

He said it! Yeah, it's an afterthought to a post in which the main complaint is against someone else. And likely, Kevin doesn't see a critically acclaimed role for impeachment in his "political theater." But glory be! he said it! Combined with his criticism of capitalism last night, Kevin Drum is in danger of losing his membership card at the DLC.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 22, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

After what has happened will we have "won" in Iraq?

(Is that a koan like 'Except for what would you have never heard the word "justice"?')

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 22, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The war is illegal. The right thing to do would be impeach and remove George Bush and Dick Cheney. And send them and the rest of the Administration responsible to the Hague for war crimes.

THAT is the responsible thing to do.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 22, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Can't happen sooner, regardless of the number of boots on the ground. The only right answer is to teach the Iraqis to maintain security for themselves, not to do it for them.

Posted by: Yankee Sailor on March 22, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Not longer than anyone anticipated, Kevin. Maybe longer than you anticipated. Certainly longer than Boot and his comrades anticipated. But not longer than anyone familiar with Iraqi history and the history of insurgencies generally anticipated."

That's correct. Lefties had been gleefully predicting 50,000 American death before the invasion. So, we would still have about 57 more years to go.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 22, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

If President Bush announced that he was firing Donald Rumsfeld, limiting Dick Cheney's future activities to attendance at foreign funerals, and sending a couple more divisions to Iraq, even I might be willing to grudgingly concede that there was at least a slim chance of winning the war.

No. If this had happened in June 2003, it might have meant we had a slim chance of achieving a stable and democratic multiethnic Iraq. By now, that goal is long in the past. Boot's like the RAND guys who were still trying to win Vietnam in 1971. It's over. The civil war is on.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 22, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

-- unserious clown --

Kevin, I like that!

Posted by: troglodyte on March 22, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

He said it! Yeah, it's an afterthought to a post in which the main complaint is against someone else. And likely, Kevin doesn't see a critically acclaimed role for impeachment in his "political theater." But glory be! he said it! Combined with his criticism of capitalism last night, Kevin Drum is in danger of losing his membership card at the DLC.

jayarbee, I've had rather harsh words for you in the past, sir, but that post rocked.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

... limiting Dick Cheney's future activities to attendance at foreign funerals


And always dressed up like this ;-)

Posted by: glopk on March 22, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Winning" in Iraq requires that Iraq have a--preferably--democratic government (loose federation) that functions effectively at all levels; an infrastructure that is able to ensure that all Iraqis can access the goods and services that are required for their private lives and employment; law enforcement that is capable of maintaining order without fear or favor; political violence reduced to an "acceptable" level.

Get out your checkbooks!

Posted by: Wombat on March 22, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

I wasn't kidding. I want to know how the administration defines "win." I want to know how the administration defines "the war." Mostly I want to know the identity of "the enemy" as that term is used by President Bush. I will even accept answers from trolls.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 22, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody above asked what "the war" and "win" mean. Frankly, I would like to the identity of "the enemy." GWB uses the term freely in every public utterance, but he never seems to be clear on exactly who he means. Could somebody tell me? Please.

Democrats. Seriously.

Posted by: David W. on March 22, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, your never going to get it because that would leave them open to unambiguous criticism. A list of clearly stated goals only allows their incompetence and lies to be clearly identified.

That's something they're willing to kill to prevent.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 22, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

That's correct. Lefties had been gleefully predicting 50,000 American death before the invasion.

I love that one. First, I don't know where you got the figure 50,000 and I don't know who "Lefties" means. 2 guys named "Lefty"? You don't say. Nobody ever does.

But that's not the reason I love it so much. I love it so much because Bush (and the Right) asserted that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction. Weapons that could kill millions. He didn't, of course, so there couldn't have been a use of them upon our soldiers. Fortunately. So, taunting people with an expectation that would be lots of deaths due to the invasion of Iraq is the equivalent of saying, "Sucker! You sure are stupid to have believed us!"

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 22, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

"That's correct. Lefties had been gleefully predicting 50,000 American death before the invasion. So, we would still have about 57 more years to go."

The war won't be over for me until French Fries goes over there himself and get his ass blown to bits by an IED.

Posted by: brewmn on March 22, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I should be more forthcoming about why I answered Ron B's question as I did. To be succinct, what prompted Bush's latest press conference was not the situation in Iraq, but his falling popularity here at home and the threat the Democrats pose in this fall's Congressional elections. Bush wouldn't be out there saying shit to reporters otherwise, even if the situation in Iraq was going to hell. The enemy isn't the terrorists, it's US.

Posted by: David W. on March 22, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Like many Americans, I suspect Mr. Boot enjoys watching Arab peoples die pointlessly.

Posted by: Hostile on March 22, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Life is cheap to the Bush crowd, even American lives. Except when speaking at political rallies.

Posted by: coldhotel on March 22, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

BigRiver - You forgot the last part of the Democratic Party motto.

Here it is:

"When in danger, when in doubt, run and scream, jump and shout. Then blame Bushitler."

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 22, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Given the fact that many Iraqis are fighting the occupation, does it make sense to say that sending MORE troops will help? More troops would have helped 3 years aog. We're past that point now.

Also, our strategy now seems to be to keep our guys in base as much as possible and let the Iraqis do the dying, so again, how does sending more troops help?

Posted by: tomeck on March 22, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Q. Given the reality that Boot thinks (a) the war is going very badly and (b) Bush is clearly not willing to do the things he thinks are necessary to win, why continue to support it?


A. Because the alternative is worse.

Posted by: Fitz on March 22, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

All the worst case scenarios I've read have basically already come to pass. The case for staying in Iraq has got to be even dumber than the case for invading Iraq in the first place. "If we leave Iraq, al Qaeda wins! If we stay in Iraq, al Qaeda keeps winning!" This only works of the "liberal media is hiding the good news from Iraq" crowd, and they're a complete loss anyway.

Who knew that acting exactly like Saddam would piss so many people off?

The basic problem here is the low quality of the people involved at high levels.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on March 22, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Good ol' Freedom Fighter quotes me (without attribution) when I said that the war hadn't lasted any longer than an informed person would have predicted based on the history of Iraq and of insurgencies generally. His best shot is that some people predicted 50,000 casualties and that this would still take 57 years to achieve. Man (or woman) doesn't know a non-sequitur when one hits him in the nose. Even if some people predicted 50,000 casualties (and were wrong, so far) that doesn't detract from those numerous folks (like me) who just thought we were heading into a Viet Nam-like quagmire once again.

If you remember, FF, lots of people predicted a "quagmire," and they were right. That is, while you were cheering our "Mission Accomplished," little was being accomplished at all, except the destruction of Iraq and its probable replacement by three antagonistic regimes, one allied with Iran. Some accomplishment -- hope you're really, really proud of yourself and the President.

It's no wonder FF is in the minority of Americans and that the majority believes we should have left Iraq well enough alone.

Posted by: David in NY on March 22, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"When in danger, when in doubt, run and scream, jump and shout. Then blame Bushitler."

Ah, we can always count on our friends on the right for substantive contributions to the discussion.

So while we're running, screaming, jumping, &c., perhaps you'd like to answer the question: What exactly does it mean to "win" in Iraq?

Posted by: Boots Day on March 22, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

"the RAND guys trying to Viet Nam in 71"

The RAND guys and gals would have been better off spending more time at Chez Jay's than "thinking" at RAND.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 22, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

""When in danger, when in doubt, run and scream, jump and shout. Then blame Bushitler."

Wait a minute? Why would anyone equate Bush with Hitler?
Hitler was far better at making the trains run on time than Bush could ever hope to do.
Maybe a better comparison would be Bush and Urban the II.
Oh wait, no, Urban was far better of garnering support, something Bush has yet to do.
Dam, really can't compare Bush to any past historical monster.
My guess is that Bush is blazing new ground, and will be used as a comparison for some future President with a penchant for screwing the pooch.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on March 22, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Freedom Fighter won't believe me about people correctly about this, so I reprint here, the prediction of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of March 20, 2003. It nails the situation exactly:

"A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said the impending attack on Iraq by the United States could result in long-term negative domestic and international consequences, even if the conflict unfolds as planned.

The statement by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said: "As we approach the start of a war with Iraq, we should all pause to examine the potential negative and unintended consequences that may arise from even a quick and successful attack.

'In the international arena, any attack on Iraq will almost certainly lead to the unnecessary death of Iraqi civilians and American military personnel, further destabilize an already unstable region, harm long-standing international alliances and treaties, and set a dangerous precedent for unilateral intervention in the affairs of other nations. The chaos caused by a war could also provide cover for even greater Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.

'An indefinite occupation of Iraq will fuel anti-American sentiment and would thereby harm our nation's image and interests in the Middle East and around the world. Such an occupation could quickly turn into a political and military quagmire.

'On the domestic front, a war and occupation will drain much-needed financial resources from our struggling economy and could fuel a backlash against innocent American Muslims, Arab-Americans and those perceived to be 'Middle Eastern.' A conflict could also be used to justify further erosions of our civil and religious rights.

'No one in the American Muslim community supports the brutal dictatorship currently imposing itself on the long-suffering people of Iraq. But distaste for the Iraqi regime's murderous policies is not sufficient justification for an invasion of that country.

'Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitute a serious threat to humanity. The possible use of such weapons by Iraq, North Korea, Israel, and other nations is of great concern to all Americans. But the elimination of banned weapons possibly held by Iraq should be dealt with through the United Nations, not through precipitous unilateral action by the United States.

'It is clear that America has decided how it will prosecute the war, but it is less clear that our nation has determined what policies will be pursued on the day after the conquest of Iraq. Real and lasting change in any society can only come from within. Democracy cannot be imposed at the point of a gun."

CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans."

Posted by: David in NY on March 22, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

A. Because the alternative is worse.

The Israelis told the Palestinians they were leaving Gaza at Date-X. Why shouldn't we be able to do the same thing?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 22, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

What is it we think another 150,000 US troops are going to do in Iraq, at this stage?

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 22, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

While the reporting of the latest fatalities from the IEDs dominates the news,the destruction of the infrastructure comprises the majority of attacks. There's a reason for the electricty situation in Baghdad (3-7 hours /day depending on whether you read the USAID web-site or the State Dept. Weekly Report)and the rest of the country;the reason oil exports remain well below pre-war levels and production is below those levels as well. These people know that crippling the infrastructure results in inconvenience and uncertainty in daily living.
Would that change if the coalition (okay,the US) troops withdraw? The Iraqis have trained part of the ISF to guard the electrical lines and pipelines but to little effect. But US troops aren't able to provide any more security than they are.
Unless our troops do withdraw,how will we know if it would work? Empirical evidence shows that staying there isn't working,so how exactly is the mission degraded by leaving?
Freedom and Democracy,baby,Freedom and Democracy.
Who's against that?
No parameters,no measurements,just staying the course. OK,sounds like a winner.

Posted by: TJM on March 22, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

That was supposed to say I was sure FF would not believe me that people correctly predicted the outcome of an American invasion. Clearly CAIR made the right prediction. Too bad Bush, FF, and their ilk didn't listen.

Posted by: David in NY on March 22, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Max Boot is a smart writer.

OK, right there's where you lost me.

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of people worried about a quagmire:
Trudy Rubin in the Phila., Inquirer:

"I think such a strategy [unilateral invasion] will fail and drag the United States into a postwar quagmire. The occupation of Iraq will be messy and more likely to strengthen Islamists than produce Mideast democracies."

These people should get some credit.

Posted by: David in NY on March 22, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

That may actually require sending more troops perhaps an extra division or two to help secure Baghdad and Anbar provinces.

An "extra division or two" is anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 soldiers. Given that we're at about 130,000 right now, this would put us up to only about 145,000 tops, which is where we were about last year when we were still unable to control Bagdhad and Anbar province. So why does he or anyone else imagine this would make any noticeable difference?

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

That may actually require sending more troops perhaps an extra division or two to help secure Baghdad and Anbar provinces.

And where exactly would these extra one or two divisions come from? Right now most combat troops are either on their way to Iraq, in Iraq, or recovering from being in Iraq.

Hey, perhaps we can borrow a few divisions from the Chinese?

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"February 22, 1965 - General Westmoreland requests two battalions of U.S. Marines to protect the American air base at Da Nang from 6000 Viet Cong massed in the vicinity. The President approves his request, despite the 'grave reservations' of Ambassador Taylor in Vietnam who warns that America may be about to repeat the same mistakes made by the French in sending ever-increasing numbers of soldiers into the Asian forests and jungles of a 'hostile foreign country' where friend and foe are indistinguishable." (From "The Vietnam War," http://www.vietnamwar.com/timeline65-68.htm)

Where's Ambassador Taylor when we need him?

Posted by: BobH on March 22, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

We don't have another division or two to send. We are tapped out. We can't even maintain the troop levels we have there now. We are drawing down by the end of the year because we have to regardless of the conditions on the ground because nobody bothered to plan for a long war.

This grossly incompetent administration has broken the Army and the Marines. That alone is sufficient grounds for impeaching the whole group of them.

Posted by: Freder Frederson on March 22, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe asks:
What is it we think another 150,000 US troops are going to do in Iraq, at this stage?

They're going to follow the new policy we had to learn and apply in Tal Afar. Go in with lots of troops to rout out the insurgents. Win the trust and support of the people, so they'll co-operate with the unified Iraqi government (soon (2 and a half years?) coming to a Baghdad near you) rather than the insurgents. Then the U.S. troops stay forever, and all is well.

Posted by: cowalker on March 22, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

But, but, but wouldn't you rather have a President who watched "Mary Poppins" instead of "Stalingrad" or the more pertinent "Battle for Algiers"? Geez, such downers.

Posted by: stupid git on March 22, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK


from david in n.y. Trudy Rubin in the Phila., Inquirer (before the war?):

"I think such a strategy [unilateral invasion] will fail and drag the United States into a postwar quagmire. The occupation of Iraq will be messy and more likely to strengthen Islamists than produce Mideast democracies."

"We are not killing them faster than they are being created." - Brig. Gen. Robert Caslen, the Pentagon's deputy director for the war on terrorism. 3/2/06

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on March 22, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I agree. Bush is nothing like Hitler.

Here's who George Bush is like.
http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2006/3/21/53726/7400/58#58

George Armstrong Custer.

No scholar.
Showboater.
Reckless with other people's lives.
Liar.
Mixed up in government corruption.
Unwilling to let reality intrude on his plans.

We all know how he ended up.

Custer had ambitions to be president, but we lucked out back then. Custer had one virtue--personal courage--that is lacking in Bush. Custer's personal courage led to his death on a poorly chosen battlefield. Bush was able to use his Daddy's money and influence to avoid the natural consequences of his nature.

Posted by: cowalker on March 22, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, thisspace, that Trudy Rubin quote was from the week before the war. And now Gen. Caslen pretty much agrees with her, doesn't he?

I was incensed by Freedom Fighter's argument that opponents of the war were as wrong as everyone else, because they all based their opposition on massive American casualties that never occurred. In fact, many of those who opposed the war predicted exactly what has happened: loss of American influence in the world, destabilization of the region (Hamas anyone?), strengthening the Islamic radicals, a prolonged quagmire, and so on.

Posted by: David in NY on March 22, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK


david...looks like she was on the mark...

cowalker.....your comment reminded me of this...

"Stop comparing Bush to Hitler. Hitler was a decorated war veteran who saw front line combat." - Bill Maher

Posted by: thisspaceavailble on March 22, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Lefties had been gleefully predicting 50,000 American death before the invasion. So, we would still have about 57 more years to go.

Would the painfully stupid 'Freedom Fighter' provide a citation for this claim? Or is he merely a delusional, paranoid victim of his own auto-castration?

Bush was able to use his Daddy's money and influence to avoid the natural consequences of his nature.

Fate can be so very unjust...

Posted by: obscure on March 22, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Max Boot is a Jew - FIRST AND FOREMOST.

Sorry - but its time we were honest about dual loyalties. Everytime a Jew speaks of war, we must question his loyalty.

Jews want us to die in THEIR war on Islam. THAT is why they infiltrate the power slots of government, media and academia.

Jews advance Jewish causes without identifying their ethnic bias.

If Max Boot were a Muslim ... the board would be filled with snarky comments on his de facto ethnocentric bias.

Why not for Jews?

Jews will destroy this country if we don't identify them as sometimes agents for a foreign government.

Nobody has mentioned that the Larry Summers brohaha was also about the power of Jews at Harvard to stifle debate on Israel, and the influence of Jews on our foreign policy.

Hooray for Harvard.

Posted by: Christine on March 22, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Christine,

THANK YOU, THANK YOU - Must stop watching Seinfeld reruns - No more Curb Your Enthusiasm - Must burn all Mel Brooks DVDs - You have really saved me from myself.

Now, where did I put that Protocols of Zion book? Ah, there it is under that red and black armband in the dresser.

Sieg, baby!!!

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 22, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Christine:

Your anti-Semitism is getting in the way of your judgment.

It's true that some of the influential neocons behind this crazy war, and indeed the whole PNAC thing, are Jewish. But keep in mind that other important players such as Bush and Cheney, are not. Nor are all the signatories to the PNAC document.

I am not Jewish, but was married to a Jewish man for 20 years. And I know lots of Jewish people. I do not know a single one who is in support of the Iraqi war or the ideas put forth in the PNAC document. I have not seen a poll of Jewish people in the U.S., but I'd be willing to bet that the majority, who tend to vote Democratic by the way, are opposed to what the Bush government is trying to do.

Painting all people with a broad brush of impressions derived from a few, benefits nobody and only muddies the waters of human interaction. Saying the THE JEWS are responsible for this whole mess is equivalent to saying all Christians are nutcases and ready to bomb Murrah buildings, just because Timothy McVeigh espoused a form of Christianity.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on March 22, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

People may belong to an ethnic group or subscribe to a political ideal, but that does not mean their word or deed represents the group they are associated with.

Max Boot may be Jewish, but he does not represent Jews.

Many bankers are Jewish, but bankers do not represent Jews. Bankers make decisions based on what is best for banks, not what is best for their ethnic or religious group.

I am often called a liberal, but I do not represent liberals (which I am sure many liberals are glad to read).

However, nationality does infer responsibility upon the individual for their nation's behavior. Americans should be denounced for the international and domestic crimes their president and military and secret police have perpetrated.

Israelis should be denounced for what their nation has done and still does to Palestinians.

If someone has dual loyalties, it is to another nation, not a religion or ethnic group. Denounce Paul Wolfowitz for dual loyalty to the US and Israel. Denounce Richard Perle for dual loyalty to the US and Israel. Denounce Max Boot for dual loyalty to the US and Israel. Condemn Jonathan Pollard for his loyalty to Israel above his loyalty to the US. Do not condemn or denounce them for their ethnicity or religion.

I denounce George W. Bush for his crimes against humanity as president of the US. I do not denounce George W. Bush for being a Christian.

Posted by: Hostile on March 22, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

wartime malfeasance -- AND lying his ass off.

Posted by: The Fool on March 22, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

BigRiver got it wrong.

"When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout" actually comes from Reefs and Shoals, the rulebook for cadets at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. This dates back to at least the late 20s.

If it's good enough for the U.S. Navy, it's good enough for me.

Posted by: serial catowner on March 22, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well to be fair, if enough of his conservative allies in the press and the pundit-ocracy were inclined to say the same things, Bush might just consider seeing reason on this. Even I can't quite bring myself to admit defeat just because I don't trust Bush to do the right thing; I figure if we can just hang in there, we can survive this godamn stupid administration and get some competant Democrats in office.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on March 22, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Max Boot is a smart writer."

I think Kevin calls him smart because he can construct a logical argument from a faulty premise. Personally, I think a smart person should manage to actually be right a little more often.

Posted by: C.I. Dreyfus on March 22, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

I watched Bush's press conference.

Bush is on drugs. Probably some kind of speed, I would say. He was hyperactive and responded to questions unnaturally quickly and often would speak several words in a spot in a sentence as if trying to choose one.

Weird.

Posted by: Archie on March 22, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

You know I actually wrote Boot one time, and got a response in turn. I respectfully challenged him on several points he made in an LA Times op-ed on Iraq, and he responded by calling me a "Bush-hater" and reminding me that Bush isn't a liar. So, maybe on second thought he really is an asshole.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on March 22, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Its reprehensible. Here you Bush saying the risk and consequence of failure in Iraq is enormous, Cheney in Illinois yesterday said Western Civilization hangs in the balance. With risks and consequences like that, they send in 150,000 troops when their Generals were recommending 400,000? With risks and consequences like they suggest they should have sent in 1.2 million troops.

Where would he get those you ask? From the draft he should have called on 9/12/2001. And from our wall of allies from around the world who see global islamic terrorism as a problem.

Why didn't he do this? Because a draft and alliances would have limited his options, he would have been accountable for his actions, and his movements and policies would have to make sense and not be the equivalent in physics of saying water runs up hill.

Neocons are fascist, and fascist hate alliances, they want freedom of movement, at their own perogative, at the expense of other egoist.

When Bush went on his wide world tour before 9-11 telling all our allies that they could fuck off, despite their putting their troups at our disposal for virtually token diplomacy, I said to myself, uh-oh, this guys a dangerous wackjob - I was unpolitical until then.

When Bush didn't call for a draft on 9-12 I thought, huh? How does he know that this won't be an area wide war like WWII, or a multi-theatre war like WWII, we just had a stand off with China over the South China Sea incident?

When Bush once again told are allies to fuck off after 9-11 I said "double uh-oh, this guys an insane lunitic." When I hear on the radio talk of invading Iraq while the Afghanistan invasion was still going on in January or February of 2002 I thought this guy is insane moron beyond any moral reckoning. It's only gotten worse from there.

Posted by: Bubbles on March 22, 2006 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

While watching Bush on TV fighting back today I happened to converse with a colleague who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. He went back to visit his family and reported that his old neighborhood has been unbelievably radicalized against America. Most notable was the bus station, where dozens of Saudi youth board every day to travel the highway up to Baghdad to become suicide bombers and such.

Of course, a lot of these eager recruits are going to be caught by Iraqi militias and their bodies will turn up scattered here and there. A few of them will hook up with the various terrorist organizations and manage to kill some few people before they die.

In a way, this whole arrangement is like a safety valve for the Saudi monarchy. Pretty clever game they are playing, letting the Wahadis fire up radical youth enough that they go off somewhere else to die for Allah.

And Bush is correct, the game is working for Americans as well. Oil flows unimpeded from every major producer, including Iran. A lot of Americans are realizing that Bush was right on the Dubai deal, because good Arabs do exist and the worst possible policy is to dump on them.

My friend mentioned that religion now plays a much more public and pervasive role in the poorer neighborhoods of Saudi Arabia than it did in the 1980's. But off in their enclaves the rich, Western-educated Saudi elites serve premium scotch and cognac from their private bars and entertain themselves sexually however they see fit.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 22, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of Americans are realizing that Bush was right on the Dubai deal

I am sorry, but Bush was wrong, and you are wrong.

The issue isn't economics or religious or ethnic xenophobia, its just simply one of sovereignty. We shouldn't let anyone other than ourselves manage our ports, not British, not Arabs.

(As Rooney said, Are we too stupid to do the job ourselves? How does a foreign invester get their $5 or was it $15 billion return from the investment?)

We don't let foreign owned operators engage in domestic airline travel. Nobody in the global trading community faults us for that - its our country, its our soveriegnty.

The people in Dubai understand that: they won't let Jews or even commerce related to Israel to cross over their boarders. Its their sovereignty. But what about the Jewish American Port worker?

The real problem with that deal is the Neocons are in community with Petro-Elites around the world and dissassociated with America. They thought that our sovereignty was just something they could buy or sell. Just like the lives of some 2300 Americans in Iraq. And by the way, that Oil is not flowing too well and that is putting upward pressure on oil prices. By summer time gas will be $3 a gallon. Triple what it was when Bush came into office. Man he's done a number on American's. But the Petro-elites, are dancing all the way to the bank.

Posted by: Bubbles on March 22, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

There is one area in which Bush and Hitler are exactly alike, and one WWII/Iraq analogy that absolutely holds up:

Opening an unnecessary, unrelated second battlefront before you've secured your first is a witless, incompetent strategic blunder that will cost you victory on both.

Posted by: HR on March 23, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is on drugs. Probably some kind of speed, I would say. He was hyperactive and responded to questions unnaturally quickly and often would speak several words in a spot in a sentence as if trying to choose one.

Weird.
Posted by: Archie

My best guess all along has been Ritalin for ADHD.

Posted by: CFShep on March 23, 2006 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

While watching Bush on TV fighting back today...

"Fighting back?" What is it with you people and your projection of courage and honor onto this cowardly stoat of a man? Bush is babbling reality-challenged happy talk and credibility-free "stay the course" rhetoric about Iraq for any TV camera he can find because he -- the president who boasts he doesn't pay attention to polls -- knows that even his base is now beginning to perceive his incompetence in Iraq and question the cost in lives and treasure of Bush's excellent adventure there. Bush isn't "fighting back"; he's engaged in a despearate rearguard action to sway a few precious percent of his truest believers -- alas, the sort most likely to be fooled by his phony, strutting image -- from abandoning him. He isn't going to convince anybody at this stage except perhaps a few wavering true believers, and that, I doubt, for very long.

Bush's polls are so low that it's indeed possible he might see some increase in approval, but the cruicial factor is that he's lost his credibility with the American people, and he's never, ever going to get that back.

Posted by: Gregory on March 23, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

But what about the Jewish American Port worker?

THERE WON'T BE ONE.... ARABS WILL EXERCISE THE SAME POWER AS THE JEW.... ONLY THERE ARE MORE ARABS THAN JEWS....

ISLAM WILL FINISH WHAT GERMANY STARTED AND DIDN'T FINISH....

AND NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON.

Posted by: karen on March 23, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

wolfdaughter...

Jews never show their hand... they get others to do it for them....

but you'll notice the Dems have no VIABLE anti war candidate...

THAT is the evil hand of Jews.

Wake up honey... these bastards are evil --

and deserving of what's comin

Posted by: mike on March 23, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Pass the popcorn, please. I'm having a good'ole time watching the warmongerers squirm, choke and turn themselves into pretzels trying to rationalize the flaming wreckage that this "War for Democracy" has become.

Posted by: Doofus on March 23, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Bubbles, what about the Chinese owning a few American ports and strategic ports on either side of the Panama Canal? Are they OK, but Arabs aren't?

Dear Doofus, when I left Vietnam in 1972 the Viet Cong were decimated and basically powerless. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) had been bombed into a stalemate.

It wasn't until Nixon got himself into political trouble over Watergate and resigned that the US guarantee to defend South Vietnam one more time became worthless. At that point the NVA forgot all about its vaunted "guerilla" warfare and simply came right down the highways from the north with tanks and trucks in a thoroughly conventional invasion. (Which worked precisely because the South Vietnamese army was deployed to stop a dispersed guerilla campaign.)

Had they been ordered to attack it, our aircraft would have blown that 1975 NVA offensive to bits. While it was at it, the USA may well have prevented the Cambodian holocaust as well. South Vietnam would be a democratic nation today, much more prosperous than it is, and I wouldn't have the delicious doughnuts in the morning baked by Vietnamese boat people now Americans a long time hence.

Doofus, you pronounce Iraq is a "flaming wreckage" with great conviction. I've heard of reservists returning from Iraq who have never once seen a dead body in their tour. Most days in Iraq the total death toll runs about the same as the US and Mexican crime rate combined.

Perhaps the power of mass suggestion is operating a bit too strongly in certain American constitutencies. You can fool all of the people some of the time, etc, but you can't really make your own weather when it comes to reality on the ground. Iraq is not in a civil war and they ain't headed there. Quite the opposite.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 24, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

HR, that was an excellent point above.

Just imagine that we had sent 150,000 troops to Afghanistan, built bases which could have been used to continue to control the no-fly zones over Iraq, eradicated the poppy production, maybe found Osama Bin Hiding, actually defeated the Taliban instead of letting them come back strong and supported by the people, oh, all sorts of potential good things.....but that opportunity has certainly been pissed away now due to Junior's reach exceeding his grasp.

Posted by: Mike on March 24, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

The far-fetched possibility that these guys are still lying doesn't get much air-time.
I mean that they lied before yeah, but not now.
They lied about WMD's, about Saddam, about Al Qaeda, about you-name-it, but not about the "war".
We're going to continue to engage them at the level of their overt discourse, so that the question is and will remain winning or losing the "war".
They create reality, we deal with it.
Everyone's as comfortable as they can be, under the somewhat dire circumstances.
That the "war" was never meant to be "won", but only served as an excuse to decimate Iraq, so that the current circumstance is an accomplished goal and not at all the result of incompetence, though the beard of incompetence Bush wears so well will serve to move things into the next phase, as he's discarded and replaced - that's absurd.
Unthinkable.

Posted by: rollo on March 24, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

act

Posted by: ghf45 on March 26, 2006 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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