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Tilting at Windmills

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March 27, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MAKING THINGS WORSE....Is a continued U.S. presence in Iraq necessary to prevent full blown civil war? Over at MaxSpeak, Barkley summarizes the latest bunch of botched military operations and concludes exactly the opposite:

I have had some sympathy with the idea that maybe, just maybe, US forces were necessary to prevent a complete degeneration into a full-scale bloodbath. But if this is the sort of stuff our troops are going to do, for whatever reason, then they should get the hell out as soon as possible. They probably should anyway, but this insanity is simply the final straw. Even the supposedly pro-US parts of the media in Iraq are enraged. Get out now!

Can I ask something very politically incorrect? There's no question that the fiasco in Iraq is primarily the fault of our civilian leadership primarily George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld but what about our military leadership? Conventional wisdom suggests that we should all refrain from criticizing "the troops," but surely this stricture doesn't apply to the senior officer corps, which even now, 30 years after Vietnam and three years after the beginning of the Iraq war, appears not to understand how to fight a counterinsurgency. Or, for that matter, to even universally accept the fact that we are fighting a counterinsurgency.

Why? Either we're fighting this war very badly, in which case our military leadership deserves criticism, or else the kind of large-scale counterinsurgency we're fighting in Iraq is simply impossible for a country like the United States to win. Which is it?

Kevin Drum 7:59 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (168)

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I'd vote for near-impossible for a large wealthy sedate nation to defeat a counter-insurgency half a world away.

Posted by: Zoombaba on March 27, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Where on Earth have any army succeeded against local counterinsurgency ?
Only total destruction can prevail.
We should have never invaded in the 1st place.

Posted by: remi on March 27, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody "wins" against a large-scale insurgency. It's hard enough to "win" against a David Koresh-like insurgency.

The military is filled with hubris. Everybody knows it, but nobody seems to ever do anything about it. Maybe if they thought about what "honor" means they would get it right. Hint number one: It is not honorable to follow bad orders.

If more people started standing up for what they know is right, then the few that still do wouldn't have it so rough. They have the real corage; not the fat and dull men who sit in planes shooting people on the ground.

Posted by: KosReader on March 27, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: you neglect the fact that any senior military men who disagree with Rumsfeld's version of events have been shown the door. So I would not fault the military as a whole, but the corruption of the senior leadership that has transformed the Joint Chiefs of Staff into a confederacy of careerist syncophants who will do or say whatever the Secretary of "Defense" wants them to do or say.

Posted by: chuck on March 27, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

"There's no question that the fiasco in Iraq is primarily the fault of our civilian leadership"

No. The fiasco in Iraq is primarily the fault of those Iraqis who choose to perpetuate it.

Both Iraqis and Westerners are moral actors and there is no legitimate reason why you should hold Iraqis to lower standards than Westerners.

But you do hold Iraqis to lower standards - we see the evidence for that right here. It would be worth a post or two examining the reasons for this, wouldn't it?

Posted by: ronb on March 27, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

To 'win' against a large-scale insurgency renders the insurgency invisible. Saddam Hussein won against a large-scale insurgency: you can tell, because it didn't exist. I imagine Mubarak is doing the same. Probably not all rare, in fact.

Posted by: adam on March 27, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Ron, it's the Iraqis' fault.

They demanded we invade and occupy their country in contravention of all domestic and international laws regarding the legitimate use of force.

Basically, it's the Iraqis' fault for not conforming to the occupiers' wishes. You know you're politically and morally (to say nothing of strategically) bankrupt when you fault a country for resisting invasion and occupation (you know, because "WE'RE the moral actors," after all).

Posted by: chuck on March 27, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Zoombaba: That's my vote too. I haven't seen much evidence that makes me think a big Western power can defeat a serious local insurgency.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on March 27, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Are you saying, ronb, that the government of the United States of America does not have any moral authority which is lacking in radical Iraqi clerics? They have equivalent claims on our moral attention?

Posted by: adam on March 27, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Either we're fighting this war very badly, in which case our military leadership deserves criticism, or else the kind of large-scale counterinsurgency we're fighting in Iraq is simply impossible for a country like the United States to win.

Probably a little of both. But my guess is the latter is a more salient factor, especially when the country in question has a tiny army, and can only commit fraction of the forces that might make victory possible.

Posted by: Harry on March 27, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I would criticise the senior officer corps for not speaking out against Rummy. I'm sure there are officers from the Joint Chiefs on down who have some brilliant ideas on how to win (or at least stalemate) against the insurgency. But Rummy has made a number of things vitally clear:

1. HE is in charge. Period.

2. He will not hesitate to micro-manage field operations from Washington.

3. Officers who disagree with either 1 or 2 will quickly find themselves cashiered or commanding a weathher station in Greenland.

We have had another Secretary of Defense who operated exactly like this. His name was McNamara, and I think we know how HIS conflict worked out.

Posted by: Derelict on March 27, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Why? Either we're fighting this war very badly, in which case our military leadership deserves criticism, or else the kind of large-scale counterinsurgency we're fighting in Iraq is simply impossible for a country like the United States to win. Which is it?

Uh, both?

There are several forces at work here:

(1) Ideological. Radical Republican ideology demands that any talk of a "rebellion" or "insurgency" be downplayed -- remember that it took Rumsfeld months to even acknowledge that we were in a guerilla war. Officers who fail to toe the White House line on this have their careers destroyed, a la Shinseki.

(2) Structural. The US Army is not set up to fight insurgencies. Its force structure, revolving around heavily armed and armored units, is designed to smash and shock the enemy as fast as possible, not to fight a long, grinding guerilla campaign. In boxing terms, we're the big bruising heavyweight, when what is needed is a spry and agile flyweight.

(3) Careerism. Officers don't get promoted for counter-insurgency work. Ever since Kennedy instituted Special Forces as a separate unit within the military, the conventional officer corps has had a disdain for the snake eaters. You get promoted for commanding a tank brigade, or an artillery unit, not for slogging it out in jungles or deserts where no one can see you. It's not a glamour job.

(4) Military procurement. The Pentagon works hand in glove with deep pocket defense contractors. Defense contractors, by the nature of their work, would rather sell the military fancy jets and tanks and weapons systems rather than the low-tech gear needed to fight an insurgency. This also encourages officers who want a career with the contractors after they leave the military to encourage those sorts of purchases in order to endear themselves to their future employers.

(5) Culture. To fight an insurgency well, you have to be able to live among the people, to get to know their language and customs, as Lawrence did, for example. The British and French, when fighting their colonial campaigns, had the advantage that most of their forces involved in those campaigns were already living full time in the colonies, knew the culture and language and history. US forces, by contrast, generally are ignorant of this.

Posted by: Stefan on March 27, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Both. The short answer.

Posted by: Kenji on March 27, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

That's my vote too. I haven't seen much evidence that makes me think a big Western power can defeat a serious local insurgency.

Oh, sure, it can happen. But it requires (simplification alert!) either (i) a familiarity with the local culture and a willingess to adapt (the British in Malaya against the Communists, and in Kenya against the Mau Mau) or (ii) a large degree of ruthlesness (again, the British in Kenya).

In Iraq, we lack both. We have no idea about the culture at all. We're also ruthless and cruel enough to enrage and embitter the Iraqis, but not ruthless enough to actually cow them (to do that, we'd basically have to commit low-level genocide, which would rather put paid to all our happy talk of democracy and freedom).

Short answer? While someone could theoretically do it, we can't.

Posted by: Stefan on March 27, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

If your favorite baseball team were making a total mess of the season, you would feel free to criticize not only the front office, the manager, and the coaching staff but also the players. How is the military any different?

Posted by: focus on March 27, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Either we're fighting this war very badly, in which case our military leadership deserves criticism,

There's also the problem that the mad rush to Baghdad, as detailed in the Times last week, caused the Army to leave large pockets of well-armed and well-supplied fedayeen resistance fighters behind its lines.

And then, of course, we poured several tens of thousands of fighters into the resistance when we disbanded the Iraqi Army. We may as well have put a bow around these men with a sign that said "Free Gift!" to the resistance.

Posted by: Stefan on March 27, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

or else the kind of large-scale counterinsurgency we're fighting in Iraq is simply impossible for a country like the United States to win.

Let's also not forget that when the resistance began in the spring and summer of 2003 it was not "large-scale" but consisted of only a few thousand men. Rumsfeld, however, preferred to deal with it by closing his eyes and pretending it wasn't happening, so when we finally got (relatively) serious it had mushroomed to several tens of thousands.

But really, the list of mistakes is almost endless. Which is astonishing, because it's not as if the methods to deal with an insurgency are some sort of cultic secret knowledge, known only to a few mystic initiates. It's out there, and has been well-known for decades. Yet somehow we never seemed to pick it up.....

Posted by: Stefan on March 27, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think the quality of American units in Iraq is highly variable, and anyone who has lived near a US military base abroad (say in Germany), and seen the different units rotating through, would probably support me on that.

In Mosul the 101st did a fantastic job, only to have a successor unit unravel much of the progress with cultural incompetency. Likewise the unit operating in Tal Afar has an excellent reputation, but others never seem to get off their bases.

Is the senior brass partially at fault for this? Of course they are. It's their job to ensure that the entire military is positioned in an appropriate way to do its job. Instead we have "Raptors" and "Strikers" and stealth submarines.

BUT, that does not mean that turning the country over to the beheaders and death squads will make Iraq more governable. The two are separate questions, and they need to be debated as such.

Posted by: Jonathan Dworkin on March 27, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

good thing for us there were no mistakes in WWII. We'd probably still have troops in Germany.

but Korea gave us the Chosin Reservoir fiasco, and American troops are still in S. Korea, ostensibly to prevent another civil war.

Posted by: republicrat on March 27, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

The one thing you have to love is conservatives falling all over themselves insisting that Shiites and Sunnis should show restraint in responding to attacks on their respective groups because those attacks are intended to escalate the violence necessary for continued civil war, while at the same time counseling Americans that we should show no restraint in responding to 9/11 and other terrorist attacks also designed to escalate violence for the continued perceived (by the Right and the Islamic fanatics) religious war.

Yet another example of the conservative tendency to adopt different sets of rules for themselves and for others.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 27, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

I think that such criticisms end up being criticisms of the civilian leadership. It is the civilian leadership that has made hiring and firing decisions such as letting General Shinseki go, ignoring General Zinni, etc.

The Army under Clinton was able to handle peacekeeping/counterinsurgency just fine. Now, there are some procurement issues wrt armored Humvees and a cold-war mentality that are still unsolved in the army.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot on March 27, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

The obvious answer is both.

You might want to check out a front page article from the Wall Street Journal 1-2 weeks ago about the military changing doctrines. Mentioned an ex-Army fellow who had written a book criticizing the Army's Vietnam strategy prior to 1969 (conventional army thinking vs. insurgency) that was very influential now. Can't remember the authour's name, but if you are an eSubsriber you could probably pull it up. Point of the article is that the Army made the same mistake for the first 1-2 years in Iraq, but had been changing over the past year.

Posted by: tarylcabot on March 27, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

If they would just stop that infernal fighting from behind trees and wear red coats like us, we'd whip 'em.

Posted by: stupid git on March 27, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Ho Chi Minh explained it to us long ago, yet we Americans still don't seem to get it:

You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours, but even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.

I seem to recall Gen. Giap saying something similar. I can't find the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of that the Americans could stay ten years, or a hundred, or a thousand, but we would eventually leave. And when we left, if there was still one Viet Cong alive, they would have won.

And why doesn't the American military and political leadership understand that while we were fighting the Vietnamese, the rest of the Third World was taking notes? Actually, I think they do understand - they just want the American people focused on the cultural and geographic differences in order to keep people from seeing the tactical similarities.

We also are not allowed to acknowledge that one of the pioneers of this strategy was none other than George Washington himself. Washington quickly understood that the British were the ones who had to win the Revolutionary War - all the colonists had to do was survive. Washington therefore focused most of his energies on keeping his troops alive, instead of winning battles. But point this out to a war supporter, and they just explode with angry rhetoric about "moral equivalency". Which suggests to me that war supporters, including many in the Bush Administration who are running this war, are blind to the practical considerations because to them, the Middle East situation is just a small piece of some cosmic struggle between good and evil, and the Bushies have deluded themselves into thinking they're the good guys.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 27, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Another factor at work is that US commanders are (rightly so, partially) committed to force protection, i.e. to reducing their casualties to an absolute minimum. So US troops ride around in heavily armored vehicles, wear body armor and helmets, intimidate shoot at any Iraqi that comes close to them, etc. This does a fantastic job of keeping American soldiers alive, but a terrible job of endearing them to the local populace. Insurgencies are beaten with information, but the scowling, heavily armored American pointing a rifle at your family is not the sort of figure most Iraqis want to walk up to and chat with.

The British, by contrast, who have much more experience at fighting insurgencies than we do, think this is approach is insane. They generally patrol on foot, wear berets instead of helmets, shun sunglasses so they can actually make eye contact, etc. Their calculus is that by making themselves more vulnerable in the short run they'll be safer in the long-run because the local populace will befriend and help them.

It's national character, partly. Americans want to eliminate all possibility of risk, even if it turns out to be ultimately more dangerous. Think of it this way: Americans would rather ride in the big SUV which, while it's more far more likely to get in an accident, offers more protection when the accident happens. The British, on the other hand, would rather ride in the agile little sports car which, while offering less protection, is less likely to crash at all because it has better handling.

Posted by: Stefan on March 27, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

The senior officer corps, at least the joint chiefs and those running the show in Iraq, Gen. Pace et al., appear to be nothing more than extensions of the Bush administration's spin machine when it comes to assessing the situation in Iraq. They correctly see that any statements that run counter to Rumsfeld and the president will get them into the same hot water Gen Shinseki found himself in.

There's no independence in the miliatry leadership or separation from the administration, in policy or politically. When Bush says he will send more troops if the generals want them, they know better than to ask.

Posted by: DevilDog on March 27, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

good thing for us there were no mistakes in WWII. We'd probably still have troops in Germany.

How many troops have been killed in combat in Germany since May 1945? About zero, I believe?

C'mon, you're not even trying with that lame false equivalency....

Posted by: Stefan on March 27, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's clear that, given Bremer's book, that when George Bush was asked for more troops, he wouldn't provide them. In that sense, yes, the officer corp should've have been more vocal. Nevermind that the administration wouldn't provide the number of troops necessary in the first place (if they were even available, a big "if").

And, no, there was no way to win that kind of counterinsurgency with the number of troops that were committed in the first place. It's two different views of the same issue.

Note how Bush plays up his Commander In Chief role for ratings, but when it comes to actually making hard decisions about force requirements, or lack thereof, the blame is laid at the military's feet. Nice sleight of hand there...

Posted by: FuzzFinger on March 27, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

All hail Stefan!

But you are too good as the focus should focus on Point 4 of his post.

If you want to change the Military, then change the contracting rules.

Once you retire from Federal Service: YOU CAN NEVER WORK FOR THE FEDS AGAIN IN ANY CAPACITY!

This would stop it all! DC is and has been the most corrupt and incompetent place I have ever been and that cancer is spreading througout this country.

If you want the point by point about how we will lose valuable knowledge, I say bullshit! Getting ride of the people that made the same stupid decisions is better than paying them double to stick around. It is.....well it is Rome at its zenith!

Posted by: Greg Hunter on March 27, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to recall Gen. Giap saying something similar. I can't find the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of that the Americans could stay ten years, or a hundred, or a thousand, but we would eventually leave. And when we left, if there was still one Viet Cong alive, they would have won.

Well, yeah. US soldiers all want to go home more than they want to win. The Iraqi rebels are already home. Guess who's going to last longer?

Posted by: Stefan on March 27, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

"(3) Careerism. Officers don't get promoted for counter-insurgency work. Ever since Kennedy instituted Special Forces as a separate unit within the military, the conventional officer corps has had a disdain for the snake eaters. You get promoted for commanding a tank brigade, or an artillery unit, not for slogging it out in jungles or deserts where no one can see you. It's not a glamour job."

This is an excellent point, and the only one that is valid in the thread. We are learning, though. Later than optimal but the Annapolis graduating class has just had 1/3 opt for the Marine Corps, the first time in history this has happened.

The rule of Political Animal is working. When you lefties become certain that we have lost and feel it OK now to attack the military, I know we are very close to winning.

Al Qeada and the recalcitrant Sunnis now know they have lost and are leaving the country. The IA and US advisors are now taking on the Sadr militia. The end result will be another Turkey with the army the hero and guarantor of the national freedom. The politicians may take 50 years, as they have done in Turkey, to reach true democracy. The army will be the force for stability. It is happening and can be seen in the Ignatius article in the WaPo last week. You just can't see it but your blindness is another symptom of Bush derangement syndrome.

Posted by: Mike K on March 27, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's entirely appropriate to blame General Myers and General Franks for acting like lackeys of Rumsfeld and making some egregious military decisions. But I don't know that I would really go much further down the chain than that, given the extraordinarily short leash that the top civilians at DOD have had the senior officer corps on.

Posted by: Armand on March 27, 2006 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Later than optimal but the Annapolis graduating class has just had 1/3 opt for the Marine Corps, the first time in history this has happened.

Really? That's quite interesting. Makes sense, though, as that's where the combat action and hence the opportunities for promotion are. Not too much happening in the deep-water Navy these days.

Posted by: Stefan on March 27, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

to the winner of the iraqi civil war goes an oil-rich nation to rule over. could the stakes be any higher?

Posted by: travy on March 27, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Military is in an impossible situation. Rumsfield has the brass by the balls because he makes every general report to him before he/she gets promoted. This was criticized when he first took the Secretariat because it would politicize the military. After Schinseki was sacked the Brass got the message and has been toeing the line like a good soldier. Rumsfield's been running roughshod ever since.

Anyone who blames the fighting forces for this fiasco is an intellectual fat *ss.

Posted by: Jon Karak on March 27, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

The latter. George H W Bush's decision not to go to Bagdad looks smarter every day.

Posted by: Big Red on March 27, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Few insurgencies in history have been as well-positioned as the Iraqi insurgency. The Iraqis have in hand more munitions than they could use in fifty years! Unemployment is in the double-digits everywhere. There exists no institutional army or police to oppose the insurgency, only ragtag "militias"; all of the most experienced and well-trained police and military leaders are on the side of the insurgency!

The U.S. has too few troops, to provide security. It has no moral credibility. The failed reconstruction means that the U.S. has no economic credibility. The U.S. has very limited language or intelligence resources on the ground.

Within some bounds there is a strategic tradeoff between resources and tactics, in policing. If you lack numbers, you can still maintain control by upping the intensity of the violence you employ. It is not pretty, but, within bounds, it works, sort of. An insurgency is making use of that tradeoff, too; if both sides attempt to make up for what they lack in quality of organization and quantity of manpower, the level of violence can only escalate to horrific levels.

If the goal, however, is to suppress the insurgency, then increasing the intensity of violence will only work if the numbers available to support the insurgency are very limited. That's clearly not the case in Iraq.

Since Bush is not willing to commit a million to a million and a half men to policing Iraq (what I guess it would take, at this point, to take control of the security situation, without increasing the level of violence), nor is the Administration willing or able to make the reconstruction work, in any of its particulars, Iraq is lost.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on March 27, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

"...or else the kind of large-scale counterinsurgency we're fighting in Iraq is simply impossible for a country like the United States to win."
It's NOT impossible for an industrialized Western power to prevail in a counterinsurgency. It's been done in a few places, notably by the British in Malaya in the 1950s. It's just INCOMPATIBLE with our other priorities. Like our president saying our military presence will be drawn down, if at all, by his successor, suggesting a long-term occupation. Like our military investing massively in fourteen large and permanent military bases in Iraq, signalling quite clearly our intention to have a persuasive voice in the nation's destiny for the foreseeable future.
And how, you might ask, did the Brits win out
in fighting an insurgency in Malaya? Good question. By letting the conflicting ethnic groups in that country, whose internal conflict was fueling the insurgency (sound familiar???), that as soon as stability returned to the country, with the rights of all ethnic groups secured, the British would hand over the keys and grant independence:
"In Southeast Asia, another example can be
drawn from the Malayan insurgency that spanned
the period from 1948 to 1960. Although the
insurgency was directed and controlled by the
Malayan Communist Party (MCP), its roots were
in the deep-seated historical problem of
communal relations between the indigenous
Malays and the immigrant Chinese, who were
systematically excluded from participation in
the civil administration of the country. The
MCP, which traditionally drew its membership
from the Chinese community, exploited the sense
of social isolation experienced by the Malayan
Chinese...
To combat the insurgency, the British
instituted a number of counterinsurgency
measures, NOT THE LEAST EFFECTIVE OF WHICH WAS
THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT GREAT BRITAIN INTENDED TO
GRANT SELF-GOVERNMENT AND INDEPENDENCE as soon
as order was restored and a common Malay
citizenship and government established. The
widespread publicity accorded the British
avowal reduced the appeal of the MCP to the
Chinese community and lessened the latters
support of the MCP."
http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1971/jan-feb/Russell.html

So, in an insurgency fueled my animosity and mistrust in the relationship between conflicting
ethnic groups, a Western industrialized power has achieved success, in large part by stating (credibly) at the outset that its motivation is not to colonize or occupy the country, but instead to withdraw as soon as order prevails.
So who is it in this Administration who will announce that the U.S. has no intentions of remaining in Iraq over the long term?

Posted by: shystr on March 27, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

I've never understood why anybody thought the U.S. had such a vaunted military to begin with--all we have is a lot of expensive hardware, that is now useless. They attacked a laughingly-referred-to country because it would be a pushover. It still took them 3 weeks to get to Baghdad--compared to a month for Hitler to overrun Poland and shortly thereafter a month to overrun France--both real countries, and the latter had an army that withstood the Germans for all of WWI. I'd say Shock 'n Awe was a pale candle compared to Blitzkrieg. The U.S. as a powerful military? Don't make me laugh.

It was unfair to critize the troops during Vietnam because they didn't have a choice. But in the Iraq War everyone is a volunteer, so they take responsiblity for every bad thing that's happening.

And the Generals--how low can you go? They're so scared of Rummy, they have to wear brown pants to hide the stains.

Support the troops? Surely you jest.

Posted by: anonymous on March 27, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

When you lefties become certain that we have lost and feel it OK now to attack the military, I know we are very close to winning.

Me, I would look to what's actually happening in Iraq on a day to day basis to determine whether "we" are close to "winning" or not. (Might also be helpful to define what you mean by "we" and by "winning" in order to make such a judgment.) But you're free instead to divine your conclusions through reverse-inference from posts by progressive bloggers - or by reading tea leaves or pigeon entrails, for that matter.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 27, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

By letting the conflicting ethnic groups in that country, whose internal conflict was fueling the insurgency (sound familiar???), that as soon as stability returned to the country, with the rights of all ethnic groups secured, the British would hand over the keys and grant independence:

Given that we've already transferred sovereignty to the Iraqis, that strategy doesn't seem to be working.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 27, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

ronb: "But you do hold Iraqis to lower standards - we see the evidence for that right here."

And who are we to set such standards? Iraq's people have been around for thousands of years. Therefore, they have infinitely more experience at fucking things up than we do.

Remember -- if we leave Iraq,then the Iraqis win.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on March 27, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty hard to improve on Stefan's four point diagnosis, but the overwhelming share of the blame goes to Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. That said, a four star ordered to undertake a mission he's sure will fail has an obligation to speak up.

Also, check out the comments of Eric Haney, a founding member of Delta Force here

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on March 27, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Even generals must follow orders at the Pentagon. They do not typically resign and forfeit any further advancement. Be glad we are not in Pinochet's Chile with a coup in the cards.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on March 27, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

you act as if the Generals can do any little ol' thing they want. They act on orders. If those orders come from clowns, what do you think will happen?

All the good generals have already been fired for speaking up and saying how bad the plan was.

HTH,

D

Posted by: Dano on March 27, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

ronb: "But you do hold Iraqis to lower standards - we see the evidence for that right here."

Right, Donald. This comment borders on insanity. "We came to Iraq to help the Iraqis, and it's their fault that they're preventing us from helping them, so we have to stay there to force them to let us help them even if we have to kill them to do it." Let the GOP take that slogan into the '06 elections!

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 27, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Also, of course a counter insurgency can succeed. But you need a plan and overwhelming force. If we had gone in with the 350,000 troops Shinseki thought necessary, established law and order, rebuilt the infrastructure, and put all the Iraqis to work rebuilding their country, the counter insurgency would never have developed to major proportions. If we had had a plan, we would have developed Iraqi democracy from the ground up and the top down, like McArthur did in Japan. Rumsfeld, Bush, and Cheney had no interest in the post conquest occupation, and no clue as to how to run it. Fools do foolish things.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on March 27, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

MikeK: a standard authoritarian fantasy -- all power to the snake-eaters and the Army as the instrument of national salvation -- but pretty much belied by the facts at hand, don't you think?

The Iraqi Army as it is presently constituted is not going to hold Iraq -- or what used to be Iraq -- together; it's going to pull it apart.

The US is now saying officially that the number-one problem in Iraq is not the Sunni inurgency, it's the Shiite militias. Leaving aside for the moment how quickly the Bush people changed their tune -- hypocritical flim-flammers every one of them -- the Shiite militias ARE the Army! And they're already instituting ethnic cleansing on a country-wide scale.

And sorry, Tom Clancy, but no number of stealthy snake-eating US superheroes is gonna be able to do much about it.

And back on topic, remember, in this country the uniformed military is completely subordinate to the civilian leadership. Other than misconduct that rises to the level of war crimes -- which is pretty rare -- fault MUST be laid ONLY on the civilian leadership. Sure, that maybe lets some uniformed people "off the hook" -- although the ones who also deserve blame are the courtiers who will fall with the politicians anyway -- but that's the tradeoff we accept to keep them from becoming a political force in their own right.

This disaster is Bush's, Cheney's, Rumsfeld's, Wolfowitz's, and Rice's fault. And that's how history will remember it.

Posted by: bleh on March 27, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Is the game plan to support the troops until the anti-war movement gains political power then second guess troops in difficult situations with hindsight and treat them like Vietnam Vets?.

What a suprise!

Posted by: McA on March 27, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K:

> Al Qeada and the recalcitrant Sunnis now know they have lost
> and are leaving the country.

The "recalcitrant Sunni" live in Iraq -- unless you mean by that
the foreign jihadis. It remains to be seen, but Zarqawi seems
to have taken a lower profile of late. But if you think that the
Shia kidnapping random Sunni and drilling their heads, splashing
acid in their faces and dumping them in garbage cans is a good
sign that they're cracking down on "Sunni recalcitrance,"you're
out of your effing mind. We need the Sunnis on board; they're
among the most well-educated and secular leaning people in Iraq.

> The IA and US advisors are now taking on the Sadr
> militia. The end result will be another Turkey with
> the army the hero and guarantor of the national freedom.

This is entirely wishful thinking. There's exactly zero evidence
that the ISF hold a higher loyalty to the idea of Iraq than they
do to their sects, and the police force in particular is heavily
infiltrated. Notice how we still don't know who kidnapped those
35 Kurdish contractors two weeks ago. They were in the uniforms
of the Interior Ministry. No one else claimed responsibility.

> The politicians may take 50 years, as they have done in Turkey,
> to reach true democracy. The army will be the force for stability.

There has to be an organic military culture united around strong
leaders. There is a howling political vaccuum atm, and even Iraqi
generals are getting assassinated fairly frequently. However, there's
extreme sectarian loyalty to Moktada or to Badr or to the pesh merga.

> It is happening and can be seen in the Ignatius article
> in the WaPo last week. You just can't see it but your
> blindness is another symptom of Bush derangement syndrome.

It can be inferred by things like the ISF not splintering
after the Samarra mosque bombing. As if the lack of a
worst-case outcome is an argument for progress ...

Before anything else happens, the idea of Iraqi nationhood has to sink
in among the three major factions. Iraqi nationhood was imposed by
Saddam (and it privileged Arabs). It cannot be imposed by competing
sects, all with claims of legitimacy in a unified government.

Stefan:

Excellent synopses of the fundamental military issues.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 27, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Based om the French in Indochina and especially Algeria, and the Israelis in the occupied territories, I'd say it is impossible for a relatively humane, democratic government to put down a popular insurgency. De Gaulle realized that when he disengaged from Algeria. Too often the only way to put it down militarily seems to involve torture, great loss of civilian life and, ultimately, atrocities. Sure, you could do it, but at the cost of your mortal soul, and the soul of your country. In short, at the cost of your democracy.

I believe this was discussed by Thucydides.

Posted by: Mimikatz on March 27, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I don't want to let the Generals completely off the hook, but bleh has it right. We have a very valuable tradition of civilian supremacy in this country, and that's the last thing we want to lose. Still, a few resignations in protest might have been in order.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on March 27, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Great posts Stefan, in particular the one at 8:21 PM which lays out the many different factors (reality !)

I agree with many of the commenters that the real answer is BOTH; PLENTY of blame to go around

As the only one of the Bush Handlers, Inc. Cabal to actually serve in the military, Rumsfeld is more to blame than the others since he should know better

[personal rant]
CJCS Peter Pace is a disgrace to the uniform he wears; he has let his ego override his professional judgement/knowledge & should be stripped of his rank and discharged at the rank he entered the Corps

Semper Fi
[/personal rant]

"You don't prevent anything by war except peace." - Harry S. Truman

Posted by: daCascadian on March 27, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is a smart, reasonable guy who is almost always weak on anything he says related to military matters.

He now asserts that the miliary does not "understand how to fight a counterinsurgency."
The he poses, which I suppose to his non-military mind is the question: "Either we're fighting this war very badly, in which case our military leadership deserves criticism, or else the kind of large-scale counterinsurgency we're fighting in Iraq is simply impossible for a country like the United States to win. Which is it?"

What does Kevin know about fighting an insurgency? Are the options he stated really the only options? What is the factual basis for Kevin's view.

Why can't he and others accept the fact that the problems are the result of the brutality and evilness of the Bathists and Terrorists? And that our miliary is doing a good job, but cannot defeat terrorists over night. I understand that politically Kevin and others here hate President Bush and allow that hatred to shape their perception of all things Bush. But why the anti-military slant, without any relevant experience or facts to back it up.

Posted by: brian on March 27, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

At least try to check out the sources and information on these things.

Whatever this building was that was attacked, it contained a hostage and caches of weapons. I've seen the pictures. This was no "accident" or screwup.

Juan Cole (Barkeley's source) and the news releases I read state that a "mortar shell" landed near Sadr's house. Sadr up and claims this was a U.S. attack, and suddenly this is gospel? Does a single "mortar shell" sound like a U.S. attack to you, or does it sound like one of many random attacks between various groups, which often use that method?

Where is the source of the information that the raid on the Ministry was a dud? None of Cole's links say so. This is the same Ministry implicated in torture in an earlier prisoner raid, remember?

In fact, go through all these stories and see what the actual sources are. Which police are we talking about here? The ones in photos who were riding down the road with the posters of Sadr on their police car? Which factions are saying what? How much of what you are reading is sourced directly to Sadr and his people?

Right now, the Shiites in the current government are attempting to deflect the formation of a new government that looks to reduce their power considerably. The media is a convenient tool for this.

By the time Barkely gets hold of Cole's story, and then finally Kevin at the tail end, all these things have become undeniable truth.

Videos of shell casings on the floor? Good grief.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 27, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well, its major media so they they just followed the nearest anti-American line hook, line and sinker. Its what they want to here.

Does anyone seriously believe that the only Shiite armed retaliation is interior ministry?

Plus if there is any Al-Sadr is the key suspect.

And the kind of person to arm shrines or mosques.

And the kind of person to claim anything is a bomb attack.

This is a Shiite play, to see if the US will lean towards out, so they can put more pressure on the Sunni's and the Kurd's.

Remember that the Shiite's are currently bargaining over the next government.

Posted by: McA on March 27, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Mimikatz - I believe this was discussed by Thucydides.

Do you recall where Thucydides said that? I don't recall much about immortal souls.

France in Algeria and Israel in the occupied territories were bent on dispossesing the original inhabitants - at least initially. That can only end in defeat or genocide. If your aim is instead to establish democracy and leave, the task is not so hard, as we demonstrated in Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on March 27, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

US forces were necessary to prevent a complete degeneration into a full-scale bloodbath

As opposed to mediium-scale bloodbath currently underway....

The only option is to not write checks your a** can't cash...

Posted by: justmy2 on March 27, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't he and others accept the fact that the problems are the result of the brutality and evilness of the Bathists and Terrorists? And that our miliary is doing a good job, but cannot defeat terrorists over night.

Why do you assume this to be the case? What is the evidence for your contention that our military is doing a good job? It's politically impossible to say anything else, of course, because we all want to support American troops and not give them the sense that America doesn't appreciate their dedication. But as disinterested observers, what evidence do we have that the US armed forces are doing a good job of counterinsurgency in Iraq? They certainly didn't do a very good job in Vietnam until late 1968 or so, and only to some extent after that - the good tactics (ambushes, deep small-unit infantry patrols, some well-run aid efforts and land reform) were counteracted by the bad (indiscriminate bombing and shelling of the countryside, badly run aid efforts).

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 27, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Let me frame the question about withdrawing from Iraq in a different way: Why is it up to the United States to decide when Iraq, a sovereign nation, is "ready" to govern itself?

If our "mission" was to take down a brutal dictator (Hussein), why didn't we invade Saudi Arabia? Because they didn't nationalize their oil resources and are willing to play pattycake with Big American Oil?

If our mission was to prevent a brutal Mideast regime from having WMDs they might use on innocent people, why didn't we invade Israel?

Nothing the Bushies says makes any sense when you take the long view. They pick and choose which dictators they like and which ones they don't. They let the Israelis proliferate nuclear weapons in the Mideast and the Pakistanis in southern Asia and prohibit Iraq and North Korea from having them in NE Asia.

The neoconservative foreign policy makes no sense and is self-contradictory and dangerous. These people are a threat to the entire world and need to be removed immediately, and our troops need to come home tomorrow.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 27, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Especially given America's combination of incuriousness about and feelings of superiority towards the rest of the world, it's doubtful that any of our institutions could take enough interest in what's out there to be of much use in countering a counterinsurgency.

Because that's the first thing: you have to be willing to start with a deep understanding and respect for the realities of the country you're going into. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the neocons didn't care to learn; Jay Garner had seven weeks to prepare; Bremer, ten days. (Not that a year would have prepared an economic zealot like Bremer any better. Four days in country, and he disbands the army and gets rid of the top 35,000 Ba'ath Party members in the bureaucracy, essentially demolishing all the country's institutions and starting at zero.

And of course, they believed they could make their own reality. Oops.

Maybe if Gore had won in 2000, we'd be going down a different path today, with no 9/11, and the military slowly assimilating nation-building lessons from Bosnia and Kosovo. But we're in the Bush nightmare come true, and there's no waking up. The GOP has done what it does best - put Americans back in touch with their most primitive fears. It's gonna take us a good long while to grow up again enough to care about yellow and brown people.

That said, the top generals should have kept on challenging the civilians, even after Shinseki. It might mean a quicker retirement, with one less star than hoped for, but after they cashiered the second general for speaking the truth on behalf of his soldiers, it would have been devilishly hard for them to can the third one who spoke up: America would start to wonder why the hell Rummy kept firing generals for telling him what they believed to be the truth, and might start to see a pattern here. One or two more top generals willing to 'take one for the team,' with the 'team' being the soldiers they're responsible for, as well as the civilians they're responsible to (which doesn't mean telling them what they want to hear, anyway), and this thing might've been stopped in its tracks.

Posted by: RT on March 27, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

bleh - This disaster is Bush's, Cheney's, Rumsfeld's, Wolfowitz's, and Rice's fault. And that's how history will remember it.

I suspect that all history will remember is that a weak and stupid leader (Bush) surrounded himself with fools and blundered into disaster.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on March 27, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

Try his view on the incident. Intresting comment about burning cars in the video.

------------

US forces were necessary to prevent a complete degeneration into a full-scale bloodbath

As opposed to mediium-scale bloodbath currently underway....

The only option is to not write checks your a** can't cash...

Posted by: justmy2 on March 27, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, deaths of even a few hundred a week are small relative to pre-war amnesty international estimates of starvation from UN sanctions (with corruption as an added factor).

And there really is a mass scale of bloodshed.
Remember when you left Vietnam. Hear about killing fields?

Well, the anti-war movement pretended that wouldn't happen either.

Posted by: McA on March 27, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't he and others accept the fact that the problems are the result of the brutality and evilness of the Bathists and Terrorists?

And such Awesome Evilness they have, too. Those Evil Bathists and their Awesomely Evil Bath tubs...

Of course, the fact that the US illegally invaded their country is really ireelevant, isn't it.

And that our miliary is doing a good job, but cannot defeat terrorists over night.

Over day time, of course, they are doing swimmingly.

I understand that politically Kevin and others here hate President Bush and allow that hatred to shape their perception of all things Bush.

All Things Bush! Is that a lifestyle magazine for the Fighting 33% ?

But why the anti-military slant, without any relevant experience or facts to back it up.

Yeah, because we all know it's anti-military to ask questions about military tactics and performance.

Brian, does your head hurt all the time trying to come up with 'logic' to justify your 'argument'?

Posted by: floopmeister on March 27, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

If your aim is instead to establish democracy and leave, the task is not so hard

Depends on the country. It's this kind of hubris that got us into trouble in Iraq. It's not just Bush incompetence that made failure in Iraq; it was also a monumentally risky undertaking.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 27, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think this was a political move.
To hit Al Sadr's guys as well as a Sunni secret police back-op on the same day.
We bash both sides...

But Al-Sadr is responding with propaganda and
the Sunni's turned out to have a legal basis for their secret facility.

Posted by: McA on March 27, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraqi insurgency has given me a lot of data for processing. I've always thought that the Second Amendment whack jobs were whistling in the wind when they maintained that they needed firearms to defend against the power of the government. I didn't think that an automatic rifle would be all that useful against government tanks and missiles should the situation be reduced to force.

Of course, at the same time, I didn't imagine that our federal government could ever possibly in my lifetime put itself in the position to be opposed by force of arms -- rule of law and all that stuff. Now, however, that the only president we have feels obliged to explain why he's exempt from laws passed by Congress whenever he signs one I feel a lot less secure that things won't get out of hand.

The feds still aren't about to impose martial law so far as we know (though the rumors of their building concentration camps is worrisome), but should they, I'm convinced that armed citizens could actually give them trouble, especially now that our armed forces are spread so thinly abroad that they can barely do their jobs there. And there's no guarantee that the troops would back up the government rather than the insurgents.

Posted by: Marie on March 27, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

We bash both sides...

Who's 'we', peranaken?

Posted by: floopmeister on March 27, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

CapitalistImperialistPig - a lot of people still remember McNamara, Walt Rostow, and the Bundy brothers.

Posted by: RT on March 27, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

There is clearly something terribly wrong with our military leadership. We have females in the military terrified of being raped by their comrades. We have some of the highest friendly fire rates in the industrialized world. Our soldiers can not refrain from acting poorly against the native inhabitants of the territories we occupy. These are basic problems of Discipline. Soldiers do not obey like they should, clearly the punishments they could suffer are either too lenient or too rarely invoked.

Posted by: soul on March 27, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't he and others accept the fact that the problems are the result of the brutality and evilness of the Bathists and Terrorists?

Did you figure this out all by yourself? A counterinsurgancy is in response to an insurgancy, and not something armies do on a lark for no reason. Who knew?

Apparantly you're the first person on this entire thread to figure it out, including Kevin. If only he had your insight, he would have mentioned this for the benefit of the rest of us who would never have grasped this concept on our own.

And that our miliary is doing a good job, but cannot defeat terrorists over night.

Or a thousand.

Posted by: Boronx on March 27, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

BF - It's not just Bush incompetence that made failure in Iraq; it was also a monumentally risky undertaking.

Not to say foolhardy, pointless, and absurd. But Bush compounded a strategy of folly with the tactics of incompetence and corruption.

Somehow, I almost feel sorry for our trolletariat. They truly are gluttons for punishment.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on March 27, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

boy, the bitter enders are something else, aren't they? apparently, it still hasn't crossed what is said to be the minds of mike k, brian, mca, and tbrosz that iraq as a nation was an invention of the british, and that the loyalties within that "nation" are much higher to ethnicity than to a "nation state" as such.

meanwhile, it's not clear what the us military is actually doing at all in iraq, and that's, quite frankly, an inescapable corollary to the fact that there is no strong force for a multi-ethnic iraq. so what exactly can the US military hope to accomplish?

there has always been precisely one parallel between vietname and iraq: in neither country is there something for the US military to "win." and in the absence of something to "win," there's really nothing for the US military to do but suffer casualties.

as for the leadership, this was supposed to be the generation of military leadership that learned the lessons of vietnam: overwhelming force, clear objectives, exit strategy before you start (you know, the "powell doctrine"). yet it appears that only a handful actually thought those lessons more important than careerist objectives. what a shame.

Posted by: howard on March 27, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow, I almost feel sorry for our trolletariat. They truly are gluttons for punishment.

Like all Regime Deadenders*

*This term is copyright of Field Marshall Von Dumbsfeld

Posted by: floopmeister on March 27, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Politically incorrect to criticize military leadership? Fuck that! Criticizing them for a basic failure to understand the nature of the insurgency is quite different from calling our troops baby-killers. And I for one have heard plenty of criticism of how they've been fighting this insurgency since almost day one of the occupation, at least among those who follow military strategy and tactics over there.

I don't think it's a matter of it being politically incorrect to criticize them. I think it's that many people, even well-educated bloggers, not themselves knowing or having enough interest in military affairs to either know something's wrong, or have anything to offer in the alternative. But I don't think you have to be a student of military theory to suspect that things are wrong when our military is a)conducting air campaigns on insurgents that kill civilians b) losing control and blasting civilians after a roadside bombing and c) raiding mosques when they appear to not know who's inside of them. So no, I don't think it's politically incorrect to criticze the military's handling either...criticize away. God knows we need more than military strategists saying something, as that doesn't appear to be doing anything.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on March 27, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK
No. The fiasco in Iraq is primarily the fault of those Iraqis who choose to perpetuate it.

Both Iraqis and Westerners are moral actors and there is no legitimate reason why you should hold Iraqis to lower standards than Westerners.

Er, I don't.

The people who make the decision to invade and occupying someone else's country without provocation or a plan with reasonable probability of success bear principal responsibility for the bad results naturally expected from such an action.

If Iraqis had invaded the US, it'd be their fault.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 27, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

France in Algeria and Israel in the occupied territories were bent on dispossesing the original inhabitants - at least initially. That can only end in defeat or genocide. If your aim is instead to establish democracy and leave, the task is not so hard, as we demonstrated in Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Well, if you overthrow an unpopular repressive regime after a long war which has left the population exhausted, and you have the moral position which comes from having a clear -- or at least credible -- case of having been the victim rather than aggressor, sure.

Most of those conditions do not apply in the US operation in Iraq.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 27, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

iraq as a nation was an invention of the british

Can we stay more nuanced than this? Most post-colonial nations combine elements of artificiality with elements of genuine political coherence, sometimes derived from ancient pre-colonial history, sometimes simply from the cumulative effects of post-colonial independence. There was (and is) an Iraqi sense of national identity, just as there is a Nigerian sense of national identity, despite the fact that both nations were stitched together out of 3 (actually more) different religious/ethnic regions by the British as they departed. But it's not as strong as the sense of national identity in places that have been integral units for a thousand-plus years, like Vietnam, or that have had a really successful post-colonial period of national integration, like, uh, the US.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 27, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Since Kevin asked,I think the foul-ups were the civilian troika.Cheney because he wanted to invade,Bush because he listened (he's much too much the figurehead to resist,besides which Bush has a history of screwing up while screwing off) and Rumsfeld because as chief architect he cowed the military into a too thin invasion plan. He simultaneously won the internecine battle in the administration to be allowed to handle the post-war period. Gen. Garner in the SIGIR October 05 report notes that as the administrator,he was charged in February for a March event. The other department heads ignored or refused to fill the several thousand billets in Iraq.
As a result,the initial civilian Iraq administration was filled with energetic,Republican election workers who had much enthusiasm but no experience. They were short half the required personnel because Bush wouldn't order the Cabinet heads to fill the posts with experienced people (i.e. State Dept led).
The military could have made any number of poor tactical decisions,but they wouldn't have been a major issue if the Garner/CPA had been able to refrain from listening to Rumsfeld.
Bremer is now trying to save a shredded reputation while Condi has been handed the mess,three years too late,and told to clean up.
This is a Cheney,Bush,Rumsfeld debacle all the way.
What CEO in full possession of his faculties keeps a senior executive like Rumsfeld around with this track record?

Posted by: TJM on March 27, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe, between you and me, i'm happy to be more nuanced.

with respect to the bitter enders, it's a waste of time: they're caught up in the purple finger moment of doughty iraquis desperate to bring their country into a democratic status so that their inner nascar dads and soccer moms can be released.

that's why i take it down to the terms i do.

Posted by: howard on March 27, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Makes you wonder what our troops know when the Iraqis tell them the insurgents are those guys over there. We shoot first and find out later we got played? makes you wonder

Posted by: k on March 27, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Makes you wonder what our troops know when the Iraqis tell them the insurgents are those guys over there. We shoot first and find out later we got played? K

Yeah, and now extrapolate with regard to the increasing use of air power as a way to both reduce US casualties and 'hand over control of the fight' to Iraqi forces.

Who's going to be identifying targets and calling in the airstrikes?

Hersch has been reporting on disquiet within the US command over this issue. Which side of the civil war will the US airforce be on?

Posted by: floopmeister on March 27, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Marie >"...The feds still aren't about to impose martial law so far as we know (though the rumors of their building concentration camps is worrisome)..."

I`ve been of two minds about this :

1) "They" could be planning on martial law but, as you suggest, might have a real hard time following through with it given the actual situation

2) All those HalliburtonTowns are actually for the "illegal" immigrants "They" are getting ready to round up once the new Labor Control laws get passed

I think #2 is the more likely scenario

My thinking might change a bit since I watched "V For Vengeance" yesterday...

"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." Edward R. Murrow

Posted by: daCascadian on March 27, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

How many seats in Congress will "civil war" in Iraq win the Democratic Party? Or is there some other reason for the obvious joy that liberals in Big Media take in reporting every car bombing they can find? Reportage on Iraq these days is guided by one priniciple: how can the daily atrocity be presented in such a way that undermines our efforts there?

Some clever people ---like Michael Duffy with Time magazine ---think that the news is only about reporting the aberrant event. Okay. But if car bombings and murder are all that happen in Iraq, then what is so aberrant about them? If it's so damned important for the anti-Bush media to flood the market of our perceptions of this war with images of death, why can't they be bothered to present to us the context of that destruction? What else is going on Iraqi society besides the ubiquitous explosions and dead bodies? Surely there's some value in that.

It should be the role of the press ---even the sewage farm attendants running Big Media--- to educate its consumers on the facts in Iraq. They want to scandalize us? How about showing us how the other [half] lives?

Posted by: Toby Petzold on March 27, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think a resounding "Yes" is the proper response to both of Kevin's possibilities.

Unlike, say, the British, our officer corps is not even trained to fight an insurgency, and they (with exceptions about which I have read) aren't really interested in doing it.

But more importantly, what are the precedents for a successful counter-insurgency by an outside occupier? None. Nada. Aucun. Nessun. People still refer to the British in Malaysia or thereabouts, I think, but that was one of the few cases in which the insurgency was itself run by "outsiders," ethnic Chinese and the British were the lesser of two evils. As Stefan noted above, absent some ability to deal with the local culture and/or the willingness to use brutality of Nazi-like dimensions (and maybe not then), the insurgency wins.

Actually, forget what I said and read Stefan's comments above.

Posted by: David in NY on March 27, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Now from the the reports I saw, the "bomb" was a mortar round launched from a nearby building. Some local bloggers have a different view of the incident
Sadr seems to be backed by Iranian interests. So don't you think that he would be against the formation of a multi party government as it would reduce his power and influence?

Posted by: Meatss on March 27, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Toby -- can you read, you idiot? This is not a thread about the 2006 elections. No one but you has mentioned them. We liberals don't believe in making every issue into one of electoral politics. The question here, should you wish to address it, is why the American army has been unable to whip the counter-insurgency?

Posted by: David in NY on March 27, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Toby Petzold >"...It should be the role of the press ---even the sewage farm attendants running Big Media--- to educate its consumers on the facts in Iraq..."

You are sooooo uninformed

Listen to and watch Lara Logan tell you how it is on the ground in Iraq

"Squeezing off a few rounds of automatic weapons fire here in Baghdad is the equivalent of honking your horn in America." - Borzou Daragahi

Posted by: daCascadian on March 27, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

But if car bombings and murder are all that happen in Iraq, then what is so aberrant about them?

Oh, good point. So we need some stories about schools being painted, because they are the aberrant event? The MSM is only showing us the everyday truth in Iraq now, by showing car bombings?

Such circular logic you have, Toby.

If it's so damned important for the anti-Bush media to flood the market of our perceptions of this war with images of death, why can't they be bothered to present to us the context of that destruction?

I'm sorry, but this is, as you said, a FUCKING war. Images of death are what wars are all about.

If you want to watch marching bands and the USA winning unequivocably and simply, watch the Olympics. Wars are not like superbowl, Toby. People die, and it doesn't end just in time for the ad break.

The US is losing this war - in fact it's already lost. Don't like my opinion? I'm sure you can think of some creative ways to blame the majority of us who thought the war was a stupid idea for that loss.

Hey - why don't you blame the media? That'll work!

What else is going on Iraqi society besides the ubiquitous explosions and dead bodies? Surely there's some value in that.

Come on. We have had hours of shots of purple fingers and the falling Saddam statue. Remember the falling statue?

Such happy memories...

Fox News played the initial bombing attack with a fucking soundtrack, Toby. Three years later, and all the cheerleading is sounding hollow.

Well, suck it up. Iraqis and US troops are dying - it's the least you can do.

Posted by: floopmeister on March 27, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

is there some other reason for the obvious joy that liberals in Big Media take in reporting every car bombing they can find?

The people who you say exhibit "obvious joy" in reporting car bombs are the very same reporters who triumphantly led the cheers during the US invasion in March 2003. They are the same reporters who literally pumped their fists and cheered when the TV monitors in the briefing rooms showed US tanks rolling into Iraq, according to subsequent accounts by some reporters who were there.

What has happened is that the story has changed. Reporters look for the story. That story isn't always, or often, a sociological representation of the existing state of being of a given polity; if it were, the headlines every day in American newspapers would start with "95% of US labor force gets up and goes to work again", followed by "Consumers purchase 8 billion gallons of gasoline", "35% of US married couples had sex last night", etc. The story is a sort of trendline of where a society is headed. That's why the story in March 2003 was US tanks rolling across the desert, not Iraqi kids flying kites; while the storyline today is people getting slaughtered every single day by mysterious death squads and insurgents. That is what is happening in this society. That's the story.

And if there is a certain insistent enthusiasm in the reporters' relaying of the latest car bomb, it's because they are insistently standing up for their prerogatives as reporters, against an administration that is trying to get them to shut up and report something that isn't the real story.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 27, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Toby, even by the standards of the dead-enders, your opinion is amazingly stupid.

by your logic, the focus of the news in america on September 11, 2001, should have been that 290M americans weren't killed, that millions of buildings weren't destroyed, that virtually all of our major cities did not suffer an attack.

apparently, you don't understand that even during the American Civil War, most of the time in most of America, there were no battles going on.

apparently, you don't understand that even during World War I and World War II, most of the time in most of Europe (and Asia in World War II), there were no battles going on.

I am sure most Iraqis would be very happy if the violence went away, but it is the baseline of everyday life in Iraq. Remember, America has a population 12x that of Iraq: everytime you read about 30 beheadings, think about 360 beheadings taking place in america somewhere. think that wouldn't shake a few people up?

of course, i'm sure you would be offended if there were a news report about 360 amnericans being beheaded in some city. think of the millions who weren't.

Posted by: howard on March 27, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe, if 35% of married couples had sex last night, that would be a headline story!

Posted by: howard on March 27, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Alternate Toby--

"If it's so damned important for the anti-Kerensky media to flood the market of our perceptions of this war with images of death, why can't they be bothered to present to us the context of that destruction? What else is going on Russian society besides the ubiquitous explosions and dead bodies? Surely there's some value in that."

"If it's so damned important for the anti-Jeff Davis media to flood the market of our perceptions of this war with images of death, why can't they be bothered to present to us the context of that destruction? What else is going on Southern society besides the ubiquitous explosions and dead bodies? Surely there's some value in that."

"If it's so damned important for the anti-UN media to flood the market of our perceptions of this war with images of death, why can't they be bothered to present to us the context of that destruction? What else is going on in Bosnian society besides the ubiquitous explosions and dead bodies? Surely there's some value in that."

Posted by: kokblok on March 27, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Cascadian, if I watch Lara Logan, I'm not going to learn anything about the stuff happening in the background. You know: right behind her spot on the hotel balcony.

Now, as for her tasty neck, I am all in favor of Lara Logan.

Thank you.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on March 27, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Floopmeister, since Big Media is a commercial enterprise, why can't these losers come up with some American Idol-type programs to get Middle America interested in a renascent Iraq? What's wrong with that? Maybe they can make an Iraqi Trading Spaces for our domestic consumption.

I want to see them enjoy their democracy, whisky, and sexy, you know.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on March 27, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Howard:

I am sure most Iraqis would be very happy if the violence went away, but it is the baseline of everyday life in Iraq. Remember, America has a population 12x that of Iraq: everytime you read about 30 beheadings, think about 360 beheadings taking place in america somewhere. think that wouldn't shake a few people up?

I'm so glad that Duncan Black could help get that meme rolling. There's safety in numbers, after all.

Of course, mention that our losses in the War for Iraq are very low, historically, and next thing up is a barrage of charges of chickenhawkery and insensitivity.

I don't mind if you use a double-standard, sir. Just don't pretend that you aren't.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on March 27, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Toby does stumble into an important point, though - for the Republicans, everything is about the next elections. Success or failure in Iraq is secondary to the GOP; their main concern this year is picking up seats in Congress, and all policy will be considered in that light.

Toby assumes the Democrats think the same way. Sadly, he may be right...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 27, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Tony Petzold:

Why do our losses *need* to be any larger than they are?

It's not like Iraq, you know, attacked us or anything.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 27, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

I would like for CBS News to talk about how the Iranians are propping up Muqi and how the Mahdi Army are causing a lot of trouble again.

Why can't they put some good old-fashioned Mike Wallace into it and find out what's going on politically? It's a black hole because what really matters is that a goddamned car exploded somewhere.

Maybe the reporters are remembering what price Steven Vincent paid.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on March 27, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Floopmeister, since Big Media is a commercial enterprise, why can't these losers come up with some American Idol-type programs to get Middle America interested in a renascent Iraq?

What makes you think the American Idle will be interested in anything in foreign parts? Middle America is interested in a quick victory in Iraq, so then they can switch channels and watch Disparate Horsewives. The attention span is too short.

More to the point, what makes you think Iraqis are the least bit interested in appearing on US TV? Don't forget, the 'liberation' of Afghanistan has done wonders for Bollywood's sales there - don't overestimate the global appeal of second-rate US celebrities and washed up B-grade singers, Toby.

Maybe they can make an Iraqi Trading Spaces for our domestic consumption.

Sure, and the US family can get beheaded, live on TV, with product placements by The Gap.

I've got a better idea - the Green Zone is obviously the Big Brother House - disconnected from the outside world and full of infighting. Why not show us all what's really happening in there - at least before the bombers inevitably find their way within?

Posted by: floopmeister on March 27, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm so glad that Duncan Black could help get that meme rolling. There's safety in numbers, after all.

That's true Toby looks like your numbers are starting to dwindle. Sucks to be a conservative these days, even God is turning his back on the movement. How's Rush gonna spin that. Must be the media.

Posted by: Neo on March 27, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter. We're building permanent military bases in Iraq. Our troops aren't going anywhere. Iraq has become the 51st state. This isn't conspiracy theory crap, my own red state (Texas panhandle) newspaper carried an AP article on it just a couple of weeks ago. If things ever calm down a bit, look for Bush to stage some kind of 9/11 style attack on America, blame Iran for it, bring back the draft, and then he will attack Iran. Don't think Bush is capable of it? Don't we already know he wanted to stage a fake shootdown of a U.N. plane to justify invading Iraq? Bush knows we need that oil. We're "addicted" to it, remember? And he'll take it by force, if need be. That's just realpolitik.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on March 27, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

I would like for CBS News to talk about how the Iranians are propping up Muqi and how the Mahdi Army are causing a lot of trouble again.

Hey, why don't you travel back in time three years and read on this blog and others how people were warning that Iran would be the big winner of any Iraqi invasion?

Why can't they put some good old-fashioned Mike Wallace into it and find out what's going on politically?

Because the press can't leave their guarded hotels, because it's too damn dangerous.

Posted by: floopmeister on March 27, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK
You just can't see it but your blindness is another symptom of Bush derangement syndrome. Posted by: Mike K at 8:53 PM
Bush Derangement Syndrome is characterized by overwhelming sycophancy to an incompetent, inarticulate leader who institutes policies inimical to his county's interest and welfare.
Sure, you could do it, but at the cost of your mortal soul, and the soul of your country. In short, at the cost of your democracy. ...Posted by: Mimikatz at 9:40 PM
That is a price that Bush is eager to pay.
Right now, the Shiites in the current government are attempting to deflect the formation of a new government that looks to reduce their power considerably. ...Posted by: tbrosz at 9:45 PM
You are failing to see the simple fact that the Shi'a are a majority. The government is theirs. Why is it that the Right is so blinded by its preconceptions that it can't see a situation before their eyes?
Remember when you left Vietnam. Hear about killing fields? ... Posted by: McA at 9:55 PM
The Killing Fields were in Cambodia thanks to Nixon. It shows the folly of the war- mongering right to get involved in wars of re-unification like Vietnam and Korea and to launch wars of aggression like Iraq.
Is the game plan to support the troops until the anti-war movement gains political power then second guess troops in difficult situations with hindsight ...Posted by: McA at 9:37 PM
The anti-Iraq war movement was correct; the pro-war demagogues have been revealed as liars and fools. It is the Bush government that is cutting veteran benefits.
I've always thought that the Second Amendment whack jobs were whistling in the wind when they maintained that they needed firearms to defend against the power of the government. ...Posted by: Marie at 9:58 PM
In addition to not being able to read the the Second Amendment, those whack jobs support the authoritarian take over of the United States.
France in Algeria and Israel in the occupied territories were bent on dispossesing the original inhabitants ...Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig at 9:48 PM
Both committed brutal atrocities in their attempt. De Gaul finally realized that the Pied-noirs were fighting a hopeless battle; the Israelis haven't yet.
...It should be the role of the press ---even the sewage farm attendants running Big Media--- to educate its consumers on the facts in Iraq. ...Posted by: Toby Petzold at 10:55 PM
Since there is less electricity, less fuel, less water, less sewage and less security under Bush's occupation then there was before, you have no valid basis for writing what ever your silly propaganda regards as "good news."
I want to see them enjoy their democracy, whisky, and sexy, you know. Posted by: Toby Petzold at 11:26 PM |
Yes, and the best way to do that is to go there and see for yourself. Kindly report back the result of your travels in Baghdad and other areas.
Of course, mention that our losses in the War for Iraq are very low, historically, Posted by: Toby Petzold at 11:32 PM
The actual casualty rate is in line with Vietnam and other wars. Posted by: Mike on March 27, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

I want to see them enjoy their democracy, whisky, and sexy, you know.

They had whisky under Saddam. I doubt any more people can afford it now than could then. For those who can now, they better enjoy it quick - they might lose it in a year or so if the Sharia-heads take over.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 28, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

toby, what an ignorant putz you are. i've been pointing out the 12x formulation about iraq's population to america for three years now, and you can look me up, you asswipe.

meanwhile, if you had a couple of brain cells to rub together, you would know that: a.) american casualties are low in part because of advances in battlefield medicine mean more survivors with horrendous injuries who would have died in the past; b.) i was talking about iraqi deaths and how they are reflective of the baseline reality in iraq that the media are quite legitimately reporting. what do american casualties have to do with what i said?

the arrogant know-nothingism of the tobys has been, of course, the heart of the problem with out excellent little adventure in iraq, because the bush regime is filled with people who think (i use the term advisedly) in just as limited and mindless a fashion as toby does.

the "background" is that a high level of ethnic violence was so obviously the likely outcome of dethroning saddam that millions of people like me predicted it. we take no pleasure in being right, but the least we ask is that the morons who thought this disaster was going to be a cakewalk have the decency to shut their frickin' mouths at long last.

as toby demonstrates, though, that is too much to hope for: the toxic combination of self-righteous hatred and stupidity that animates the tobys of america is just too potent a brew.

Posted by: howard on March 28, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Reading this thread I was reminded of the complaints about Michael Moore showing a kid flying a kite in pre-war Iraq. Remember the hoopla that resulted in rightwingville and among other war supporters? Here's Hitchens:

"In this peaceable kingdom, according to Moore's flabbergasting choice of film shots, children are flying little kites, shoppers are smiling in the sunshine, and the gentle rhythms of life are undisturbed."

Here's Jeff Jarvis:

"The most offensive sequence in "Fahrenheit 9/11"s long two hours lasts only a few minutes. Its Moores file-footage depiction of happy Iraq before the Americans began their supposedly pointless invasion. You see men sitting in cafes, kids flying kites, women shopping. Cut to bombs exploding at night.

What Moore presumably doesnt know, or simply doesnt care about, is that the building you see being blown up is the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in Baghdad. Not many children flew kites there. It was in a part of the city that ordinary Iraqis werent allowed to visiton pain of death."

Here's the national Review in 2005: "In Iraq, they've found new mass graves, holding about 5,000 of those happy, kite-flying subjects Michael Moore depicted in his movie."

The Moore criticism is exactly the opposite of their criticism of the media in Iraq of course. Now they want the kite-flying, but before it was a lie. Objectively it seems pretty obvious that it was safer to fly a kite for the 3 years before the war then the 3 years after. Some enterprising journalist should run a story comparing kite flying pre and post war.

Posted by: kj on March 28, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

In the last week or so our troops have been accused of three massacres (one in November): even if none of the allegations are true, it's destructive to our mission to have millions of Iraqis thinking that we're shooting infants and old folks in the head and claiming we were in a firefight when all the bullet holes are on the inside of the building, none on the outside.
The shit has hit the fan and it's blowing this way.

Posted by: Brian Boru on March 28, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

There are two types of military brass, kiss-ass types who'll say and do anything to please their leaders, and there are the types who will tell their bosses the truth.... Guess which kind has been getting promoted the last 6 years.

Posted by: anon on March 28, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

To defeat an insurgency, you need two things above all... (1) sufficient force to fight it, and (2) a viable and/or effective political alternative for the general populace to choose over the insurgency...

We have neither.

Posted by: anon on March 28, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

If we're looking for someone to blame for the mess in Iraq, we could also include the clueless American voters who put GW Bush in office (twice, yet).

If we are going to call ourselves a democracy, we have to take responsibility for the actions of our government.

Posted by: gator on March 28, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

Howard:

toby, what an ignorant putz you are. i've been pointing out the 12x formulation about iraq's population to america for three years now, and you can look me up, you asswipe.

Sorry. Wouldn't want to deny you the [credit] for that.

meanwhile, if you had a couple of brain cells to rub together, you would know that: a.) american casualties are low in part because of advances in battlefield medicine mean more survivors with horrendous injuries who would have died in the past;

Okay. So long as you do concede that American casualties are, relatively speaking, "low."

b.) i was talking about iraqi deaths and how they are reflective of the baseline reality in iraq that the media are quite legitimately reporting. what do american casualties have to do with what i said?

American casualties are relevant to the issue. They are not mutually exclusive with the question of proportionality between Iraqi and American civilian death rates (expressed in real numbers).

Posted by: Toby Petzold on March 28, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

One of the great revelations in this war is the American Left's exposure as the anti-democratic pro-Islamofascist ideology it truly is.

Y'all are as authentically democratic as Turd Kennedy's dad was in the face of Nazi Germany.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on March 28, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

"One of the great revelations in this war is the American Left's exposure as the anti-democratic pro-Islamofascist ideology it truly is."

Huh? You must know the American Left through the crazies on the Right. The Right should consider reporting some of the positive kite-flying stories from the American Left, then maybe you wouldn't get the wrong impression about us.

Posted by: kj on March 28, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

Toby troll: Y'all are as authentically democratic as Turd Kennedy's dad was in the face of Nazi Germany.

And every bit as authentically democratic as Dubya's grandfather, Prescott Bush, who was a director of companies that profited from the financiers of Nazism and Hitler... and whose assets were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act... and "civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz" some 60 years later.

Go Cheney yourself.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 28, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/03/us-mahdi-forces-clash.html

Apparently, one of the Arab bloggers has translated the cameraman on the tape as admitting he was covering up Shiite weapons.

-------------

We bash both sides...

Who's 'we', peranaken?

Posted by: floopmeister on March 27, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

True. You guys are doing all the fighting while Asia's economies are booming. I take that back, you bash both sides and take the blame.

----

The Killing Fields were in Cambodia thanks to Nixon. It shows the folly of the war- mongering right to get involved in wars of re-unification like Vietnam and Korea and to launch wars of aggression like Iraq.

Posted by: Mike on March 27, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

So no Communist purges in Vietnam? Its amazing how people can edit history, to hide their guilt.

Plus Vietnam invaded Cambodia. So Vietnam caused the killing fields in the same way that you think the US caused the killing fields.


-----------------

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

The actual casualty rate is in line with Vietnam and other wars. Posted by: Mike on March 27, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

This is a stupid link, comparing one battle to one battle in Vietnam for the final conclusion.
Fallujah was probably as bad as some Vietnam fights but its probably the worst battle of Iraq being compared to some typical battle in Vietnam.

No matter how you cut it for medical technology, or population exposed, there is no comparison.

Vietnam killed several thousand troops per year. Hitting 50,000 dead and 150,000 wounded. Iraq might end up killing 5,000 for the entire war.

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Y'all are as authentically democratic as Turd Kennedy's dad was in the face of Nazi Germany.

Careful now, or else we'll have to throw Prescott Bush and Henry Ford in your face...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 28, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Careful now, or else we'll have to throw Prescott Bush and Henry Ford in your face...

Looks like somebody already did. Heh.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 28, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

"It should be the role of the press ---even the sewage farm attendants running Big Media--- to educate its consumers on the facts in Iraq. They want to scandalize us? How about showing us how the other [half] lives?"
--

The other half? The half left after the suicide attack?

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on March 28, 2006 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

Hm. In reading the comments I was struck by the thought that what is happening in Iraq is a smoke screen for something far more nefarious. We ARE building permament military bases in Iraq. I read there are 4 of them and they are supposedly massive. We also have one in Israel. I have the feeling the place is going to get nuked to bring on The Rapture. Think I'm nuts? Google Dominionism.

What bugs me most though is all the depleted uranium we are using and the human and environmental cost we will all pay.

Posted by: NeoLotus on March 28, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

We are doing fine in Iraq. Troop drawdowns this year will be proof of that. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 28, 2006 at 4:12 AM | PERMALINK

So no Communist purges in Vietnam? Its amazing how people can edit history, to hide their guilt.

So no tiger cages and mass executions of suspected Communists in South Vietnam during US support for that regime? It's amazing how people can edit history, to hide their guilt.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 28, 2006 at 4:16 AM | PERMALINK

:(

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 28, 2006 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

I would have thought having a standing army that was untrained to handle the long-term occupation of a foreign country that never attacked you, and to defeat a popular insurgency, would be something in which Americans would take pride. This is your Department of "Defense" we're talking about, after all.

Your founding fathers didn't even want a standing army that was competent to attack and invade far-away countries that posed no threat, let alone one competent to billet itself on the local population. They wanted a citizen militia, personally armed and ready to defend itself against an invader (gosh, that would be like an insurgency, wouldn't it?). Well, you ignored their wishes on that, while conveniently keeping the amendment that was designed for it, and now you have a "defense" force of paid military professionals armed to the teeth with offensive munitions.

Maybe that's for the best in the modern world, and it's just an unfortunate fact of life that such a defense force is also well-equipped to conduct force projection in pursuit of presidential policy. But you should hardly be ashamed that one of the things it still can't yet do is be an effective imperial oppressor. You should rather resolve not to try to use it as one.

Posted by: derek on March 28, 2006 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

derek:

Quite on-point, mate. Kind of telling, though, to see a Brit having a better grasp of our history than the goddamn American trolls here :(

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 28, 2006 at 5:32 AM | PERMALINK

McA--
No, actually, Vietnam STOPPED the killing fields by invading and overthrowing the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. Give credit where credit is due.

Prior to Johnson's escalation of the war into Cambodia the Khmer Rouge were marginal players, who were actually in conflict with North Vietnam (remember, the Khmer Rouge were allied with China).

Posted by: kokblok on March 28, 2006 at 7:30 AM | PERMALINK

One of the great revelations in this war is the American Left's exposure as the anti-democratic pro-Islamofascist ideology it truly is.

Hey, look at me! I'm pro-democracy!!

I've got some fighter jets, big-ass bombs, tanks, machine guns--armor piercing uranium enriched rounds, man--and lot's of balls-ass soldiers.

LET'S GET TO WORK!!!

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 28, 2006 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

No, actually, Vietnam STOPPED the killing fields by invading and overthrowing the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. Give credit where credit is due.

McA's stupidity goes beyond the call of duty.

You're a disgrace to humanity, McAsshole.

Posted by: Uncle Penis on March 28, 2006 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

A couple of thoughts...

1. I agree with ronb that the insurgency is primarily the fault of the Iraqis who perpetuate it. I agree that I don't get why they aren't also regarded as moral actors who should be held accountable for right and wrong.

2. Our military isn't perfect by any means.

3. It kicks everyone else's butt, though, in an infinitude of ways. What they've done in Afghanistan is amazing, did what the Russkies couldn't do, and did it with minimal manpower. What they did in Iraq was also amazing.

4. They weren't geared up for a counter-insurgency. But they are learning fast. The next generation of senior military leaders, aka the guys that will truly fight the GWOT, will be very experienced in counter-insurgency.

5. The military does look inward for self-criticism. Case in point the Parameters journal out of the Army War College. Navy has similar.
http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/06spring/contents.htm

6. Most of the people here have as much credibility criticizing the military as I do criticizing women on abortion. Not to say that criticism isn't deserved, just that you're not qualified. Democrats often make the criticism of Bush and cohorts that they have no military service and aren't qualified to lead. That argument cuts both ways. Wesley Clark is smart and experienced...I'll listen to him. But the list of democrats with military street cred just about ends right there.

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

The Moore criticism is exactly the opposite of their criticism of the media in Iraq of course. Now they want the kite-flying, but before it was a lie. Objectively it seems pretty obvious that it was safer to fly a kite for the 3 years before the war then the 3 years after. Some enterprising journalist should run a story comparing kite flying pre and post war.

Yes, I've wondered how the rightwingers handle their psychic disconnect when they try to have it both ways.

On one hand, Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, on the other, it's a happy wonderland full of painted schools and a booming economy that's absolutely safe.....

On the one hand, the media collaborates with the terrorists when they show the beheadings and car bombings, on the other hand, the media covers up for the terrorists' evil deeds when they don't show the beheadings and car bombings.....

On the one hand, the terrorists are at war with us, on the other hand, the Geneva Conventions governing the conduct of war don't apply to our conflict with the terrorists....

On the one hand, we have to fight them there so we don't have to fight them here, on the other hand, things are going so well that we're going to withdraw our troops back here....

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

1. I agree with ronb that the insurgency is primarily the fault of the Iraqis who perpetuate it. I agree that I don't get why they aren't also regarded as moral actors who should be held accountable for right and wrong.

I agree that the insurgency is primarily the fault of the Americans who invaded Iraq and obliged the Iraqis to protect themselves against a foreign invader. I don't get why the Americans aren't also regarded as moral actors who should be held accountable for right and wrong.

3. It kicks everyone else's butt, though, in an infinitude of ways.

Well, except for the Vietnamese.

What they've done in Afghanistan is amazing, did what the Russkies couldn't do, and did it with minimal manpower. What they did in Iraq was also amazing.

What, get bogged down in a multi-year guerilla war against a few ten thousand rebels, three years after Bush declared major combat operations over? Or was it "amazing" to defeat the decrepit, disorganized Third World Iraqi military?

6. Most of the people here have as much credibility criticizing the military as I do criticizing women on abortion. Not to say that criticism isn't deserved, just that you're not qualified.

Sure they're qualified. Anyone who can educate himself about the issue, read the news, study history, etc. is qualified. This isn't some sort of arcane knowledge. You have to address the substance of the criticism head on, not fall back on an appeal to (lack of) authority.

Democrats often make the criticism of Bush and cohorts that they have no military service and aren't qualified to lead.

No, the argument isn't that they're not qualified to lead, the argument is that they're cowards. You don't need to be a veteran to serve in government -- that's why we have civilian control of the military after all. Our argument, instad, goes to their lack of moral character -- they all claimed to support the Vietnam War, but they were all too cowardly to volunteer and fight in it.

That argument cuts both ways. Wesley Clark is smart and experienced...I'll listen to him. But the list of democrats with military street cred just about ends right there.

Eh, I'll stack my list of Democrats with military credentials and/or combat experience, (Clark, Gore, Kerry, Murtha, Daschle, Inouye, Rangel, Cleland, etc.) against a comparable list of Republicans any day. Or perhaps we should hear about the military street cred of Bush, Cheney, Lott, Santorum, Frist, DeLay, McConnell, Rove, Gingrich, etc.?


Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Oh Kevin, you're still so hung up on accountability.

Posted by: tomtom on March 28, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

No, the argument isn't that they're not qualified to lead, the argument is that they're cowards. You don't need to be a veteran to serve in government -- that's why we have civilian control of the military after all. Our argument, instad, goes to their lack of moral character -- they all claimed to support the Vietnam War, but they were all too cowardly to volunteer and fight in it.

Well there you go showing some of your ignorance. Flying a single seat supersonic fighter jet known as a lawn dart is not a sign of cowardice. And Rumsfeld was also a naval aviator.

And millions of military served during the Vietnam war but not in Vietnam. My father was in the Navy, an "East Coast sailor", who never went to Viet Nam. Served in ASW squadrons, and then spent four years rotating through Antarctica. It's where his country asked him to go. They lost 5 planes with crew during his tenure. He supported the war. Was he a coward for not going? Were the astronauts who went to the moon? Everyone on ballistic missile subs or in silos, or playing cat-n-mouse with the soviets? Give me a break.

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Eh, I'll stack my list of Democrats with military credentials and/or combat experience, (Clark, Gore, Kerry, Murtha, Daschle, Inouye, Rangel, Cleland, etc.) against a comparable list of Republicans any day.

They're almost qualified to carry McCain's baggage.

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Well there you go showing some of your ignorance. Flying a single seat supersonic fighter jet known as a lawn dart is not a sign of cowardice.

There's a difference between flying over the skies of Texas and flying over Hanoi. Bush claimed to support the war, but when Bush was asked if he wanted to be sent to Vietnam he checked the box that said "no." He was not willing to fight for what he claimed to believe in, so he is a coward. The same goes for Cheney, DeLay, Gingrich, etc., all men who made a big show of their "patriotism" but were never willing to back up their talk with deeds.

And Rumsfeld was also a naval aviator.

Yeah, I know he was.

And millions of military served during the Vietnam war but not in Vietnam. My father was in the Navy, an "East Coast sailor", who never went to Viet Nam. Served in ASW squadrons, and then spent four years rotating through Antarctica. It's where his country asked him to go. They lost 5 planes with crew during his tenure. He supported the war. Was he a coward for not going? Were the astronauts who went to the moon? Everyone on ballistic missile subs or in silos, or playing cat-n-mouse with the soviets? Give me a break.

Transparent attempt to change the subject. Was I taking about any of those men? Was I talking about anyone who actually enlisted or was drafted in the military? No, I was plainly not, and you're attempting to smear me by attributing to me statements I never made. I am speaking specifically about the chickenhawks in the Bush regime, and their Republican apologists, who all claimed to be in support of the war but who did not volunteer to fight in it.


Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute. Now the Republicans support McCain? But when he was running against Bush in the primaries they said McCain had committed treason while a prisoner of war, and had fathered a child by a black prostitute
That "the Fag Candidate's" Bangladeshi daughter was actually black, that McCain was both gay and cheated on his wife, and that his wife Cindy was a drug addict.
Strange. Now he is a great war hero. Go figure

Posted by: Botecelli on March 28, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

They're almost qualified to carry McCain's baggage.

How qualified are Bush and Rove, who smeared McCain as a mentally unstable "Manchurian candidate" who had fathered an illegitimate black child, to carry his baggage?

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Transparent attempt to change the subject.

No. Plenty of military supported the war in Viet Nam but checked other boxes and did other things, so to speak. Again, my father supported it but chose to go to Antarctica instead. Coward by your definition. Did Neil Armstrong support the war? If so, he was a coward since he just walked on the moon instead of fighting in Viet Nam.

There's plenty of arguments to make against repubs, and the one you make possibly sticks against Cheney, Delay, Gingrich, but not against Bush.

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute. Now the Republicans support McCain?


I don't speak for the republican party. I still hold a grudge against Bush/Rove for South Carolina.


...they said McCain...fathered a child by a black prostitute

Well hell, haven't we all?

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Fair Enough

Posted by: Botecelli on March 28, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I agree that the insurgency is primarily the fault of the Americans who invaded Iraq and obliged the Iraqis to protect themselves against a foreign invader.

Yea, those Kurds really put up a fight. The shia too!

Fact check: 80% of the population at worst stood aside while we entered.

I don't get why the Americans aren't also regarded as moral actors who should be held accountable for right and wrong.

I could quote probably 10,000 posts on this blog that say that we should be held accountable for right and wrong, and a handful that say similar for the brave Iraqi insurgents who spent the years prior to the invasion brutalizing the other 80% of their population and invading their neighbors.

And since when has blowing up children taking handouts of candy been an approved tactic?

Why do you excuse their behavior?

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

No. Plenty of military supported the war in Viet Nam but checked other boxes and did other things, so to speak. Again, my father supported it but chose to go to Antarctica instead. Coward by your definition. Did Neil Armstrong support the war? If so, he was a coward since he just walked on the moon instead of fighting in Viet Nam.

That's complete nonsense. You can't actually defend the actions of the men in the Bush regime, so you attempt to divert the subject to by stretching my words to a ridiculous length. Neil Armstrong, for fuck's sake. Care to get back on topic?

All those other men were in the military. They put themselves in harms way. Did the Navy ask your father if he wanted go to Vietnam and did he say "no"? I doubt it, but that's what Bush did. Bush had his rich daddy pull strings to get him into the "champagne unit" of the TANG and then didn't even have the integrity to finish his service, blowing it off so he could go play hooky in Alabama.

There's plenty of arguments to make against repubs, and the one you make possibly sticks against Cheney, Delay, Gingrich, but not against Bush.

"Possibly" sticks against them? Why possibly? Did they or did they not pull strings to avoid serving in a war they supported?

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Conventional wisdom suggests that we should all refrain from criticizing "the troops,"

This is why massacres happen. The troops hide behind the popular platitude they are so precious/righteous they can do no wrong. This results in the mass killing of civilians, who are then degraded as being less than human beings. The troops should have laid down their arms and arrested their commanders when given illegal orders to invade and occupy Iraq. That they did not belies their willingness to engage in warlike behavior. This willingness to become the best you can be by learning to kill is a terrible thing, which leads to inevitable horrible inhuman acts.

Posted by: Hostile on March 28, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

All those other men were in the military. They put themselves in harms way.

Bush was in the military. He put himself in harm's way.

There were thousands of other much less risky jobs he could have taken. Or not served at all. Frankly, being a desk REMF in Viet Nam would be far safer than flying an F-102. It is safer now to be stationed in Iraq in a rear area supporting unit than it is to be a Navy flight instructor. Champagne unit or not, flying single seat single engine fighters is dangerous now, and it was far more dangerous then.

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

How many seats in Congress will "civil war" in Iraq win the Democratic Party? Or is there some other reason for the obvious joy that liberals in Big Media take in reporting every car bombing they can find? Reportage on Iraq these days is guided by one priniciple: how can the daily atrocity be presented in such a way that undermines our efforts there?

"Obvious joy," huh? Care to offer some evidence for this allegation, big fella?

Some clever people ---like Michael Duffy with Time magazine ---think that the news is only about reporting the aberrant event. Okay. But if car bombings and murder are all that happen in Iraq, then what is so aberrant about them? If it's so damned important for the anti-Bush media to flood the market of our perceptions of this war with images of death, why can't they be bothered to present to us the context of that destruction? What else is going on Iraqi society besides the ubiquitous explosions and dead bodies? Surely there's some value in that.

You sound just like the moron from RealClearPolitics who was on TV the other day and took a smackdown from Peter Daou on this very topic. Daou quoted Walter Cronkite: "We're not in this business to show all the cats that didn't get stuck in trees." Because "everyday life" goes on in many parts of the country, that's supposed to be broadcast as a sign that things really aren't all that bad? You do realize that "everyday life" was similarly placid for many people under Saddam as well, right?

See Stefan's remarks above, too. On the one hand you want the media to show the terrorist beheadings and bombings and so forth, so that Americans will rise up in rage against their barbarous tactics - but on the other hand you want the media to focus less on the terrorists because it might be inferred that we don't have a good handle on things over there.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on March 28, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly, being a desk REMF in Viet Nam would be far safer than flying an F-102.

Yes, but then he wouldn't have had access to all that fine Mexican cocaine.

Even the desk REMFs in Vietnam were expected to show up for duty. They couldn't fuck off to party in Alabama and Harvard Business School the way Bush did, or not show up for service for a year and a half.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Support the troops, absolutely.

But yeah, if a new administration takes over, one of its first jobs will be clean up the DoD. A lot of generals and senior officers have an awful lot to answer for. It's not completely far-fetched to think that some big shots like Sanchez, Miller or Boykin could see the insides of court martial upclose.


Posted by: Fifi on March 28, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Semper Fifi.

Posted by: on March 28, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

i see we've got the witless red state mike on duty today (a true schizophrenic, sometimes red state mike actually makes sense, but this isn't one of them), but time is short, so i'm going to back to my ignorant putz pal toby, who remains a total asswipe.

first, just to get the intellectual point out of the way, "islamofascism" has absolutely no meaning whatsoever. anyone who uses it demonstrates that they are a moronic purveyor of instanitwit type sloganeering. "fascism," toby, is a problem of modernity: islamic fundamentalist jihadists hate modernity. the most generous term we could use for them is theocrats; the most accurate term is murderers; the most irrelevant term is fascists.

as for the issues at hand: the level of american casualties is completely irrelevant to either the question of whether american troops are doing anyone any good in iraq or to the question of why the media covers the extent of everyday violence in iraq.

Posted by: howard on March 28, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Howard, that post was positively scotian in its bloated, empty prose.

Islamofascist is a great term, and anyone who disagrees with me drinks camel urine for breakfast. They are islamists, and they believe in what sounds exactly like the orginal definition of fascism by Mussolini if you replace "state" and "Italy" with "islam", etc...

Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of life or death....

Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect....Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage...

...The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality -- thus it may be called the "ethic" State....

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike, as i say, it's your stupid self on display today. I could go on at Scotian-like length in showing you how witless your supposed explanation of why "islamofascism" is a "great" term is, or i could simply say that if you replace the "state" with "islam" you are talking about two entirely different matters.

and even if you weren't, no, if every time i read the word "state" in this quote i substitute the word "islam," it still doesn't in the slightest sound like Osama Bin Laden.

Posted by: howard on March 28, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

if you replace the "state" with "islam" you are talking about two entirely different matters.

When Sharia is the law of the state? When Mullahs run the state? When there is no separation between state and religion? You're not so bright today Howard.

and even if you weren't, no, if every time i read the word "state" in this quote i substitute the word "islam," it still doesn't in the slightest sound like Osama Bin Laden.

Sounds like the Taliban to me. And like the folks in places like Fallujah that set up their little Islamofascist hells on earth.

It's your failure to se t he connection, not mine.

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

you know, red state mike, life is short, and wasting it on your childish obsession that "islamofascism" is a meaningful term isn't a productive use of it. I don't "see" a "connection" because there isn't one. The term for states that operate under religious law is "theocracy." The term for states that operate under a principle that there is a superior class of government, military, and industrial leaders who know best is "fascist."

These aren't the same in the slightest: go study up some and learn a few things, why doncha?

Posted by: howard on March 28, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

you know, red state mike, life is short, and wasting it on your childish obsession that "islamofascism" is a meaningful term isn't a productive use of it.

Heh. And yet you just HAD to post about it.

Must....get...last...word...IN!

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

P.S....how's the camel urine?

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but the quoted excerpt is in and of itself very naive. Sure, the U.S. presence is engaged in pushing back a counter-insurgency, but the fact that it possesses a monopoly on the instrument of violence means that in its absence, there would be a severe power vacuum, which would make things considerably worst--both for Iraq and for us in the long-run.

Posted by: z1shy on March 28, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Bwwwwwaaaahhh! I wanna go to the big dance but I'm sca-sca-scared!

Bwwwwwaaaahhh! Bwwwwwaaaahhh!

Insults cover up I'm pi-pi-pissing my camo.

Bwwwwwaaaaaaaahhh!

I don't wanna be a REMF!

Bwwwwwaaaahhh! Bwwwwwaaaahhh!

Posted by: Red State Mi-Mi-Mike on March 28, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bwwwwwaaaahhh! I wanna go to the big dance but I'm sca-sca-scared!

Been twice, moron.

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Bwwwwwaaaahhh! Bwwwwwaaaahhh!

Don't ma-ma-make me go back!

Bwwwwwaaaaaaaahhh!

I'm a moron and an asshole.

Bwwwwwaaaahhh! Bwwwwwaaaahhh!

Posted by: Red State Mi-Mi-Mike on March 28, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK
Sure, the U.S. presence is engaged in pushing back a counter-insurgency

A number of people in this thread seem badly confused as to the terms "insurgency" and "counter-insurgency".

Though, I suppose, it might be accurate to say that the US presence is emboldening the insurgency, and thereby "pushing back a counter-insurgency".

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage...

Well then, this is nothing like Islam, because Islam emphasises the essential equality of all believers, and that all faithful Muslims stand on the same level in the eyes of God.

Frankly, to me this reads more like the party platform of the modern Republican Party....


Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike--

I don't care if Bush was in the military or served honorably or whatever. I mean, he himself is obviously somewhat ashamed of his record and knows that it's not the stuff of great heroes, since he usually tries to avoid talking about it.

He was braver than a Camp Lejeune supply clerk, less brave than Kerry. Who cares? If "bravery" is what you're into, then we should hand over the reigns of power to the bravest people in the world, those horribly ill-equipped Iraqi conscripts who tried to stop our advance and paid with their lives. I can tell you it takes a lot of bravery to sit there with a Kalashnikov while A-10s thunder overhead and US technology shows its full face. Remember those battles where we would report 200 enemy casualties to none of our own? That's bravery!

Maybe it's just my Catholic tendencies coming through, but my response to all the macho posturing I hear from men in the service and out of it is and always will be: "If you're so brave, how come you're not dead?"

Posted by: kokblok on March 28, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

He was braver than a Camp Lejeune supply clerk, less brave than Kerry. Who cares?

You should have this discussion with Stefan, then, since he's the one I responded to.

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 28, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's just my Catholic tendencies coming through, but my response to all the macho posturing I hear from men in the service and out of it is and always will be: "If you're so brave, how come you're not dead?"

I once met a World War II vet who denied that he was a hero because "the heroes were all my friends who never made it back home."

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

What if it's neither? What if both the civilian and the military leadership are actually engaged in provoking violence in Iraq? Why is that so hard to imagine?

Posted by: Bill on March 28, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: good article on March 30, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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