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Tilting at Windmills

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April 11, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

CIVIL WAR IN IRAQ....Michael Yon reports from the UAE on the facts of life in conservative talk radio:

Last week, in America, a radio producer for a large syndicated program in the United States called me requesting that I go on the show, a show that has hosted me many times and where Ive been referred to as, Our man in Iraq. But when I said Iraq is in a civil war, that same producer slammed down the phone and, in so doing, demonstrated how much he reveres truth....When the receiver slammed into the phone, the producer revealed himself naked; he was not supporting the troops, nor the Iraqis, but the President.

....I checked my website to see if the United Arab Emirates had shut me down for saying Iraq was in a Civil War. They had not. More interestingly, though a few military leaders politely disagreed with the statement that Iraq is in a state of civil war, a larger number of Iraq-experienced military officers agreed (off-the-record) that Iraq is in a civil war, and thanked me for saying it.

So whose opinions should we respect on matters Iraq? Smart combat veterans who have graduated from top schools in the United States and who have faced bombs and bullets and bled in Iraq, or a radio producer who has never been there and who cannot control his temper in the face of words? Its time we listened to our combat leaders.

It's worth noting that although Yon believes Iraq is engaged in civil war, he doesn't think this is reason for us to withdraw. However, it's also worth noting that if our officer corps largely believes that Iraq is engaged in civil war too, they need to be willing to say this publicly, not just off the record. If Iraq eventually falls apart and the American public comes to believe that our military leaders were unwilling to speak candidly about events on the ground due to political pressure, the result will be a loss of faith in the military similar to what happened after Vietnam. That would be a very high price to pay.

Kevin Drum 7:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (84)

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Comments

Glad Kevin is finally following Michael Yon. Odd, how Kevin waited until Yon said something negative about talk radio.

Posted by: Bark At The Moon on April 11, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

If Michael Yon says "civil war," he's got my attention. Still one of the best sources in Iraq I've ever seen, and I'm glad he's going back.

I'd love to know which talk show host blew him off.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 11, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq is a regular Bali Hai and anybody who disagrees is a Homosexual.

Posted by: Al's Mom on April 11, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's naive to expect active military to contradict the script being written in DC. They pick people like Murtha to speak through. And I don't think it will be the military whose credibility suffers. It'll be the civilian leadership's, and maybe that's not such a bad thing if it prevents imperial catastrophes like this.

Posted by: david mizner on April 11, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yon has been on Hugh Hewitt's show a few times. Was it Hewitt's producer who couldn't bear to hear the words "civil war"?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on April 11, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

I have been unambiguosly concerned about the 'genie
let loose from the bottle' for some time now.

Anyone who has seen "Lawrence of Arabia" has a keyhole to modern day Iraq. Little has changed
culturally since that failed attempt to form
the Arab tribes into a united force against
hegemony from without. I thought for a while
the blade of enmity might be tempering to allow
some discourse and compromise amongst the key
players in Iraq. I could be wrong again.

Posted by: Semanticleo on April 11, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I'm curious about the identity of the radio producer too. Yon should name names!

Posted by: Kevin Drum on April 11, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

civil war
n.
1. A war between factions or regions of the same country.
2. A state of hostility or conflict between elements within an organization: "The broadcaster is in the midst of a civil war that has brought it to the brink of a complete management overhaul" Bill Powell.
3. Civil War The war in the United States between the Union and the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. Also called War Between the States.
4. Civil War The war in England between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists from 1642 to 1648.

There are broad definitions for Civil War. There are narrow definitions for Civil War. Until we can agree on a definition, this debate is utterly meaningless.

Of course, we can also discuss the merits and acceptability of the current security and political situation in Iraq, and what can and can't be done to try to change that situation, and the effectiveness of what currently is being done.

But why bother when we can continue to waste time (and money, and lives) bickering over what exactly "Civil War" means?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on April 11, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a military officer. I most definitely would not say Iraq is in a Civil War in public. To do so would be to interject myself ***as a representative of the US Army*** into a political debate, since to say "Iraq is in a Civil War" is to clearly imply "President Bush and Sec. Rumsfeld are delusional fools." They might well be, but its not the place of an officer to express political opinion or take part in public policy debate.

We offer technical advise to leaders on military policy while its being made, and carry out it out once its made. That is what we do.

Posted by: jake_o_germany on April 11, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Two things:

1. Rummy has made it perfectly clear that even slight dissent will end your military career. Period. Since he cashiered Shinseki, the rest of the officer corps has fallen in line--and you don't hear any of them speaking up about even the most egregious abuses, atrocities, and Rummy-inspired idiocies. They might quietly retire and write a limp-wristed op-ed and few years later, but nobody has stepped forward to uphold military honor.

2. The real test might well be Bush ordering a first-strike nuclear attack on Iran. If the military goes along, the American people will rightly lose all faith in both their political leadership and the military. Sadly, I do believe that officers more concerned with their careers than with crimes against humanity would push the buttons to make that first strike.

qu'elle domage!

Posted by: Derelict on April 11, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I'm advocating "a loss of faith in the military similar to what happened after Vietnam" per se (and CERTAINLY not that the Dems do so) ... but ... following that "loss of faith in the military similar to what happened after Vietnam," we didn't get into any disastrous civil wars/wars of attrition for, oh, about 25 years, did we?

Posted by: The Confidence Man on April 11, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Also, Murtha does not talk for me nor any officer I know.

Posted by: jake_o_germany on April 11, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Denying the obvious is the entirety of Republican genius. By being so aggressively oblivious they try to sow doubt in the listener, as when the 'pro-life' crowd targets an easily victimized subset of people, young girls who need abortions, victimizing the victim.

Posted by: cld on April 11, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, I do believe that officers more concerned with their careers than with crimes against humanity would push the buttons to make that first strike.
Posted by: Derelict on April 11, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

I *do* have more faith in our military than that. This wont happen without some resistance. I'm pretty sure of that. But I'm also pretty sure it WILL happen. I fear it's inevitable. Rummy's got a hard-on to demonstrate his proof-of-concept for the modern, mechanized, automated warfare. He's been on this kick since the 1980's. Nobody will stand in his way. Nobody will stop him. If Rummy had his way, he'd eliminate the government military altogether, and privatize it, and put it under the command of the boards of directors of the Fortune 500. And try to make it into a profit-center.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on April 11, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Being a hero in a war is being a victim of being trapped in that war, and the Republicans attack them because of it, or they mutter contemptuously about "a Jew who somehow survived the Holocaust".

Posted by: cld on April 11, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

If he got blown off live a few other people should know about it. Al?

Posted by: toast on April 11, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

f Iraq eventually falls apart and the American public comes to believe that our military leaders were unwilling to speak candidly about events on the ground due to political pressure, the result will be a loss of faith in the military similar to what happened after Vietnam. That would be a very high price to pay.

I have opposed the iraq War from Day One but I could not disagree more.

This would undermine military submission to civilian rule - even Bushfuck Republican Haliburtun rule.

Posted by: Thinker on April 11, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

jake-o-germany:

I've heard various credible reports that people in the military, probably in the Pentagon, picked Murtha to air their concerns. In any case, Murtha would never have gone out on the limb the way he did without getting the goods from his military contacts.

Thanks for your service, by the way.

Posted by: david mizner on April 11, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Saw something odd on CNN just now. General Pace defending Rumsfeld.

His defense appeared to be to say that Rumsfeld works hard (cue hard working bush video).

Is anybody saying Rumsfeld is lazy? Sure people often say Bush is lazy, but do people say that about Rumsfeld? The criticism is that Rumsfeld is routinely and stubbornly wrong and Pace aparrantly has nothing to say about that.

Posted by: jefff on April 11, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, jake_o_germany is right.

The only option for active duty officers is to speak very-off-the-record on political matters. (But don't underestimate the power of the off-the-record rumblings.) It is fundamental that our military is commanded by civilians.

Officers also have the option of resigning and shouting out whatever the hell they want.

It is we civilians who have fallen down in our duty to hold our politicians accountable.


Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on April 11, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

The only option for active duty officers is to speak very-off-the-record on political matters. (But don't underestimate the power of the off-the-record rumblings.) It is fundamental that our military is commanded by civilians.

Officers also have the drastic option of resigning and shouting out whatever the hell they want.

It is we civilians who have fallen down in our duty to hold our politicians accountable.


Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on April 11, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

It's as if they've just discovered Michael Yon. Funny, that!

Posted by: Birkel on April 11, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

I really wish Yon would name the producer and show in question. I highly suspect it is Hewitt's show, given that Hewitt's rhetoric is pretty much a mirror image of the discourse that is common in this forum.

Posted by: Will Allen on April 11, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

It's as if they've just discovered Michael Yon. Funny, that!

Posted by: Birkel on April 11, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

More accurately, Michael Yon has discovered what we already know. The right-wing media machine is not interested in the truth, or in the good of the country.

Posted by: Wombat on April 11, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

If Iraq eventually falls apart and the American public comes to believe that our military leaders were unwilling to speak candidly about events on the ground due to political pressure, the result will be a loss of faith in the military similar to what happened after Vietnam.

Actually, I think the US could use a healthy dose of this. Americans "value" and "respect" the military far too much, when in reality the US military has little to do with defending the US. It exists primarily to project power, to serve as a sort of global hit squad.

The faster Americans come to grip with this fact and repudiate it, the better.

For elaboration, see Bacevich, Andrew.

Posted by: Bill on April 11, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum, I thought you said you read Packer's New Yorker article. Iraq has fallen apart. Our military 'leaders' are unwilling to speak candidly about the war due to political pressure. Faith in the military should be an oxymoron.

Posted by: Hostile on April 11, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

The quote Kevin offers isn't found on the link he used. Where is it to be found? I'd like to share it with some wingnut hacks I know.

Posted by: Sebastian on April 11, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Yon is supposed to be taken as a credible journalist despite thinking that, even though he believes civil war is raging in Iraq, withdrawal is not to be considered an option? As General Odom has logically written: "Iraqis are already fighting Iraqis. Insurgents have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. That's civil war. We created the civil war when we invaded; we can't prevent a civil war by staying". He goes on to say that ..."the sensible policy is not to stay the course in Iraq. It is rapid withdrawal..." When does the esteemed Michael Yon think that the U.S. should finally leave Iraq? After 10,000 Americans have been blown up? How about 58,000? Do I hear 100,000 that might satisfy his blood lust? Perhaps Yon fails to recollect that the Vietnamese were going to continue to fight the Americans in the jungles of Vietnam as long as they could breathe. The Iraqis will continue to do the same until the invader is driven from their homeland. 26 million Iraqis vs. roughly 136,000 Americans. Tennyson's phrase "into the valley of death" never seemed more appropriate as it does in Iraq. If Iran gets attacked, expect to see more Americans dying all, as Burt Lancaster said in the film The Professionals [1966], for a lost cause.

Posted by: Erroll on April 11, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

The quote Kevin offers isn't found on the link he used. Where is it to be found? I'd like to share it with some wingnut hacks I know.

Scroll down a bit to the "Dubai" part. Look under the insert example that says "Site Blocked."

Posted by: tbrosz on April 11, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK


"If he got blown off live a few other people should know about it. Al?"

Probably a program that comes on after Al's bedtime.

Posted by: m on April 11, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

D'oh! Sorry, it's been a long day at a keyboard...

Posted by: Sebastian on April 11, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Great article...Michael Yon has serious street cred.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 11, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Former Gen. George Joulwan was on CNN and said any active four star general that doesn't stand up to Rumsfeld doesn't deserve four stars (here). That's pretty much my sentiment. Joulwan predicts that more military personnel will be standing up to Rumsfeld in the near future.

Posted by: gq on April 11, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Most of Michael Yon's writing about Iraq has been hopeful and upbeat. Even calling the conflict a "civil war" doesn't make him despondent or make him think we should withdraw. It seems typical of your reportage that you have ignored almost all of his other work on the subject, or all of it and not just most of it.

The problem is that the phrase "civil war" isn't very definitive. We have not seen in Iraq the scale of slaughter that followed in France following the rebellion against King Louis XIV, and we have not seen the scale of slaughter that occurred in Russia in 1918-1922, or that occurred in the US in 1861-1865. Of other "civil wars", it is most like the civil wars in Cyprus and Greece; the first of those ended in partition of the country, wall included; the second of those ended in triumph for the semi-fascist anti-Communists, with transition to Democracy in the early 70s.

It's a curious sort of "civil war", since the "soldiers" kill mostly unarmed civilians of the opponents, and avoid killing the combatants of the opponents. At least that is so unless the armed Shi'ite gangs are mostly killing former Baathists who were those responsible for oppressing the country under Saddam Hussein -- I think this is something that is not known for sure.

The monthly death toll of this "civil war" is less than the monthly death toll of "peace" under the Baathist regime. The Baathist regime wasn't "civil war" because all of the killing was done by one side.

In the US we distinguish between "Bleeding Kansas" and the "Civil War". Iraq now is more like "bleeding Kansas" than it is like the US "Civil War".

Posted by: republicrat on April 11, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd love to know which talk show host blew him off." - tbrosz

No wonder they can't forget about Clinton, going on 10 years now.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on April 11, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

I most definitely would not say Iraq is in a Civil War in public. To do so would be to interject myself ***as a representative of the US Army*** into a political debate, since to say "Iraq is in a Civil War" is to clearly imply "President Bush and Sec. Rumsfeld are delusional fools."

Well, this is interesting, jake-o-germany. You make a fair point, given the way that Bush and Rumsfeld have chosen to lay down their rhetorical positions. But they're the ones who chose to commit themselves to a rhetorical position that is indefensible because it's a flat misstatement of truth and an Orwellian abuse of language. Is it the responsibility of technical advisers to go along with whatever perversions of truth and language their clients or commanders adopt?

In Vietnam, for example, when Johnson and McNamara began declaring for political reasons that we were winning the war, was it the responsibility of the military leadership to parrot that line in public? Even those who knew it was untrue? Of course, Westmoreland suffered from the same delusions they did; but wasn't it honorable of people like John Paul Vann to air their strategic doubts in public?

And for you acknowledge here that Bush and Rumsfeld "may well be" delusional is to tip your hand. How can you expect the public to continue to trust anything the military says in a press briefing if it knows that in private, those same officers may consider what they're saying to be pure bull***t?

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 11, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

It's a curious sort of "civil war", since the "soldiers" kill mostly unarmed civilians of the opponents, and avoid killing the combatants of the opponents.

1. Bombing of Iraqi Army and police recruitment stations; killing of police officers by the hundreds. 2. "kill mostly unarmed civilians": Sarajevo. Srebrenica. Viet Cong vs. ARVN. Spanish Civil War. Russian Civil War - mass executions of villages sympathetic to other side. Northern Ireland. Tamil Tigers. Algeria. Biafra. Par for the course.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 11, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

If he got blown off live a few other people should know about it.

Sounds like he got rejected at the phone call stage, not on the air.

BTW, those interested in Yon's work should check out this new site he's set up.

Not much there yet, but should be good.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 11, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

If there is a civil war in Iraq it is because the U.S. created it.

Posted by: NeoLotus on April 11, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

NeoLotus-

Good point. See my comments at 9:52 p.m. which covers this same subject.

Posted by: Erroll on April 11, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, "peanut" on another thread has solved the linguistic problem for us:

Iranian activists involved in a classified research project for the U.S. Marines told the Financial Times last month that the Pentagon was examining the depth and nature of grievances against the Islamic government, and appeared to be studying whether Iran would be prone to a violent fragmentation along the same kinds of fault lines that are splitting Iraq.

It's not a civil war - it's a "violent fragmentation"! I have no problem with that.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 11, 2006 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

If there is a civil war in Iraq it is because the U.S. created it.
Posted by: NeoLotus on April 11, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Aw hell. I wouldn't say that.

The US didn't create it. Britain, I reckon created it in the wake of WW1 and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and their brain-dead drawing of borders (or maybe it was intentional; keep your enemies fighting amongst themselves?).

Saddam supressed it, by fairly uncivilized means.

But the US's intervention wasn't going to change the fact that there are sectarian differences within the borders known as "Iraq".

I've always been a fan of the concept of "Kurdistan" - but more and more, lately, especially after Turkey's lukewarm support, I think I would enthusiastically support an independent and sovereign Kurdistan. I'm actually not sure that I care about what happens to the rest of Iraq anymore, frankly.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 11, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's a curious sort of "civil war", since the "soldiers" kill mostly unarmed civilians of the opponents, and avoid killing the combatants of the opponents.

Hardly curious at all. In fact in most civil wars it's the civilians, rather than the combatants, who get it in the neck, as the fighters find it easier to terrorize the native population rather than fight each other. See, for example, the numerous examples of Colombia, Biafra, present day Congo, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, China from the 1930s to 1940s, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Russian Civil War, the Greek Civil War, the Spanish Civil War, Algeria, the Irish Civil War, etc. Anyone who was sentient during the 1990s and observed Bosnia should be familiar with the fact that the civilians, who can't defend themselves, take the bulk of the casualties.

The American Civil War, with its large, well-supplied armies and two separate functioning governments, is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to civil wars, but most Americans, rather woefully ignorant of history, don't know that.

The monthly death toll of this "civil war" is less than the monthly death toll of "peace" under the Baathist regime. The Baathist regime wasn't "civil war" because all of the killing was done by one side.

False. This is a claim that has been debunked here again and again. The claim that more people died under Saddam than during this war is true only by comparing deaths today to deaths in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Saddam, with US support, was actively engaged in his campaigns against the Kurds and Shiites, rather than to deaths in the immediate pre-war period from 2000-2003, and also by claiming deaths due to combat with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war as being deaths directly due to Saddam. It's dishonest, to say the least, to retroactively justify our invasion by claiming that we're somehow preventing deaths that already occurred in the 1980s.

Posted by: Stefan on April 11, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

jake-o-germany is absolutely correct. It is not the business of military officers to get involved in politics. They have a duty to report candidly to their superiors, but not to make public statements.

Try it the other way. Suppose the President were trying to negotiate a diplomatic solution to some crisis. Would you want military officers declaring that the only sensible thing was to go to war?

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on April 11, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

"The claim that more people died under Saddam than during this war is true only by comparing deaths today to deaths in the 1980s and early 1990s"

huh? So more people did die under Sadaam, but the timeframe was somewhat longer? That's good to know. you are also discounting how many people would be dead had Sadaam stayed in power, or even worse, those two sick fuck children of his had taken control.

Posted by: BlaBlaBla on April 11, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Now that it has been proven to all but the rabid Bushitas that the justification for the war was bogus, and that it was deliberately and knowingly so, the only type of discussion on the war that is sensible and legitimate is one that focuses on how we extricate ourselves from this mess without causing more harm to Iraqis and our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. All other types of discussions, whether on semantic hairsplitting on the definition of terms like civil war, or on what should one political party or the other do to benefit the most from the process, only serve to extend the unnecessary destruction of life and Iraqi infrastructure that this fiasco has caused.

Posted by: lib on April 11, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

If they are having a civil war then they need separate uniforms and separate training. The American military should have special training to help in civil war matters, they seem to know every other kind of war.

I mean, Americans are good at this stuff, we invented the modern civil war. With simple single shot rifles, pistols and mules we were able to slaughter as many as 30,000 in single battles.

We are gonna have to get some black people to free, because having a civil war over who is the tenth or first immam is kind of stupid. We need a larger issue to fight over.

Also, someone needs to secede, I mean, we gotta have some rebs and yanks.

And is there a Richmond we can burn? Do we have a Sherman? Do we need to bring Saddam out of retirement?

Posted by: Matt on April 11, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Right, Matt. This must be what Rumsfeld means - it isn't a civil war unless they're fighting in Virginia. So until the Badr Brigade starts attacking the Sunni militias in Manassas, it's still just...um...insurgency? No, they didn't want to use that one either. Terrorism! Right, terrorism.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 12, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

huh? So more people did die under Sadaam, but the timeframe was somewhat longer? That's good to know. you are also discounting how many people would be dead had Sadaam stayed in power, or even worse, those two sick fuck children of his had taken control.
Posted by: BlaBlaBla on April 11, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wha? Yes. Mortality rates are the basis of the Lancet study - and yes, it's a pretty valid comparison of overall "quality of life" and "likelyhood of dying from a cause other than prostate cancer or car accident". Am I likely to die of falling off a ladder while painting my house? Or of being in the wrong place when an IED intended for US troops goes off? Am I more likely to die of old age, or of "collateral damage" from a B-52 strike? Am I more likely to die of colorectal cancer, or starve to death because my monthly food allowance just went bad in the fridge because the power won't stay on for more than 3 hours a day? Am I more likely to die by slipping and falling in my bathtub, or from cholera because too many dead bodies were floating in the river that supplies my village's water supply? Am I more likely to die when some idiot runs me over in a crosswalk, or getting pulled off the street and beheaded in an ally by salafist whackjobs who didn't like the fact that I had shaved my beard off? Am I more likely to die choking on a mis-swallowed piece of chicken, or from a stray bullet when insurgents ambush a group of US troops down the street from my house?

All of these are valid measures of quality of life. Everybody dies. But some people die sooner and more violently than they otherwise would, had Bush not brought chaos and lawlessness to Iraq. Would the average Iraqi be better off under Saddam? The average Iraqi would be far more likely to die later, and by nonviolent means, under Saddam. The Lancet study proved that.

And I seriously doubt Saddam's sons would have been able to inherit his reign. There were some pretty ambitions senior Baathists that were better positioned to take over. Both of Saddam's sons were sadistic sons of bitches. Neither would have made a competent dictator. Neither would have lasted 6 months. Uday was a cripple, and brain damaged, and would have been a puppet, and had only barely survived several assassination attempts. Qusay was a playboy, and not well connected with the Baathist elite in the military. But to tell you the truth - I was very happy the day they were killed. It wasn't worth the collateral damage (especially the cost to US taxpayers - paid to the war-profiteers) - but it was a good thing those pieces of shit were killed.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe: So until the Badr Brigade starts attacking the Sunni militias in Manassas, it's still just...um...insurgency?

Not even then. First Manassas: keep denying. Second Manassas: Well, maybe we have a problem.

tbrosz: I'd love to know which talk show host blew him off.

The self-proclaimed research expert couldn't find this in three seconds of googling?

Posted by: shortstop on April 12, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

jake_o_germany >"...its not the place of an officer to express political opinion or take part in public policy debate...and carry out it out once its made. That is what we do."

Thanks for uncloaking & adding to the discussion

jake_o_germany >"...Murtha does not talk for me nor any officer I know."

If you are company grade then I can understand that but if you are field grade or above I think you`ve lost your way and that you need to really, really rethink your perception of reality

(no need to risk letting us know BTW)

One of the things that allowed me to make it through my time in the military (1965-69) with my mind/sanity was that everyday I was able to hear what the "ordinary" military thought & realize how different it was from the official line that was being broadcast/printed for those outside; even the lifers knew it was bull & admitted it

As a one time Marine I think Peter Pace is a disgrace to the uniform he wears & that it is time for him to turn it in; Iraq is NOT Vietnam & we don`t have the luxury of continuing to make the mistakes we are making like we did there

I`m sure you will disagree; no problem & thanks again for uncloaking

"War is the easy part" - Anthony Zinni

Posted by: daCascadian on April 12, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

We've fallen far when making an observation regarding the relaity on the ground can be considered to be making a policy statement.

The civilian leadership issues orders to the military. The military carries them out. The civilian leadership does not tell them to believe that 2+2=5.

From this perspective, Yon's statement that we shouldn't withdraw is simply "toeing the line" of the civilian leadership in public. Stating that Iraq is in a civil war is not more controversial than stating that the sky is blue. Simply because Bush says the sky is green does not obligate any members of the military to repeat this statement.

Posted by: Constantine on April 12, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

If Iraq eventually falls apart and the American public comes to believe that our military leaders were unwilling to speak candidly about events on the ground due to political pressure, the result will be a loss of faith in the military similar to what happened after Vietnam. That would be a very high price to pay.

Like Bill upthread, I am confused as to why a loss of faith in the military would, in fact, be a bad thing.

Wouldn't it be worse to have a loss of faith in the judiciary, the government, the education system, or the health system?

Oh, wait...

Still, why would a loss of faith in the military be bad?

Is respect for the military that ingrained in the national psyche of the US that it must be kept unviolable?

That seems pretty odd, frankly.

Posted by: floopmeister on April 12, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Try it the other way. Suppose the President were trying to negotiate a diplomatic solution to some crisis. Would you want military officers declaring that the only sensible thing was to go to war?

Sure, why not? cf US military wingnuts 1945-1960. With their help, the "nuke 'em till they glow" school of diplomacy was pretty well discredited, but I'll grant you it was close at times.

Posted by: bobbyp on April 12, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

floop,

It would appear to me that the military is all too aware of the true extent of their capabilities, and the knawing costs of this war. They learned the lesson of Viet Nam well (don't fight these kinds of wars, buy lots of shiny expensive hardware instead). Sadly, it is the civillians currently in command who have ignored these lessons (well, they still buy lots of shiny expensive hardware).

Posted by: bobbyp on April 12, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

The self-proclaimed research expert couldn't find this in three seconds of googling?

I looked. The information is not on the internet. Yet.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 12, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

Its gotta be Hughie Hewtwitty. Look at Yon's radio /tv appearances - Hughie's the only multiple radio wingnut show he's been on.

Posted by: anon on April 12, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Would the average Iraqi be better off under Saddam? The average Iraqi would be far more likely to die later, and by nonviolent means, under Saddam. The Lancet study proved that.

That's an interesting point of view. If not very many people are hauled off into the night, and your complete obedience ensures that you probably won't be one of them, then you're likely to live to a ripe old age. At least if you're not a Kurd, religious Shiite, Marsh Arab, or someone who believes they have a right to a political opinion.

This kind of destruction of the human spirit has been quite widespread in communist nations and other tyrannies.

You know, now that I think about it, if everyone had just surrendered immediately to the Third Reich and Japan in WWII, you could probably make a good case that the eventual overall loss of lives would probably have been considerably smaller. France surrendered quickly, and Paris and other cities survived instead of being smashed to rubble. I've been to Paris. I'm glad it's still there.

During the Cold War, this pragmatic point of view was called "Better Red Than Dead."

Posted by: tbrosz on April 12, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

bobbyp,

You're right - but I was actually asking one of those 'annoying-as-all-hell' Devil's Advocate questions...

It's not a matter of knowing the extent of military's capabilities, but why the military is so revered within America.

That might sound like a heretical question to an American (but maybe not to you?)- but then I'm asking why that is a heretical question.

Why would it be a bad thing for Americans to have a loss of faith in the military as an institution within US society?

I notice this because everyone here ties themselves in knots about not criticising the armed forces when they critique the war in Iraq and how swimmingly it's going(!)

I don't mean criticising the troops - they're there for many reasons, and they should be supported, as citizens doing a dangerous and difficult job.

It's more the reverence to the military as an institution that comes through in Kevin's question.

Other countries don't exhibit this to the same extent - hell, the whole 'Commander-in-Chief' thing is so, well, American.

Why is that the most important role of a President?

Posted by: floopmeister on April 12, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

anon:

Hugh is a good guess. I'd put him at the top of the list. It'll come out sooner or later.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 12, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Also, it's a bit striking that mr. jake_o_germany finds it stranger that Won would used unapproved terminology that contradicts thatstatements of Rumsfeld than the fact that a radio-producer hung up on Won when he made a statement that was not sufficiently obsequeious to Bush.

Posted by: Constantine on April 12, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

...but its not the place of an officer to express political opinion or take part in public policy debate.

Also, Murtha does not talk for me nor any officer I know.

I see.

Posted by: enozinho on April 12, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Erroll, I posted before I saw yours and yes you covered it well.

Posted by: NeoLotus on April 12, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

floop,

The US of A was founded by organized armed insurrection. Our first president was the general who led that war; We "won" most of the west with an easy victory against poor, ill-equipped Mexico; we fought a bloody Civil War that is celebrated to this day--even the losers admired for their "military spirit"; We "won" more of the west by slaughtering Indians, sometimes even using organized military units; we won our imperialist spurs against the hapless Spanish "empire".

And then we went "over there" twice, but all this was just the kernel that grew mightily under the threat of nuclear war known as the Cold War. We drove ourselves over the edge on that one--a real threat coupled with the flames of fanned paranoia.

Hey, you get scars when you save the world from communism, and thus the worshipful place in American society for the US military. Even Joseph Heller was unable to stem this tide of militarism and its associated worship of force.

Prior to 1941 this definitely was not the case, but the seed had been planted.

Posted by: bobbyp on April 12, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz above.

How laughable can a person be.

Posted by: lib on April 12, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Would the average Iraqi be better off under Saddam? The average Iraqi would be far more likely to die later, and by nonviolent means, under Saddam. The Lancet study proved that.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 12, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

No. The study proved that if you extrapolated mortality in the Battle of Fallujah nationwide, people would die earlier. An extrapolation so unrealistic that it proves a point.

Academia gets stupid over politics.

Posted by: McA on April 12, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Try wikipedia - full article on it.

I'm not sure how survey based methodology works in Saddam's Iraq. It didn't strike me as a place where people answered foreign surveys correctly - so I'm not sure what the pre-war used was - but it must be ridiculous.

Posted by: McA on April 12, 2006 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

bobbyp - well, that's a good answer!

BTW, the link that Bill posted above to the article by Andrew J. Bacevich at Tomdispatch was great. Another conservative like Chalmers Johnston (and Ike!) who has seen that 'seed' you mention sprout.

My major was in Classical history - damn, but the echoes with Imperial Rome are just getting louder and louder...

Imperator originally meant Commander(-in-Chief), you know. It was chosen because it was more acceptable to Republican Rome than the hated Rex.

Only later did it take on the connotations of Emperor.

Militarism is a dangerous mistress for any republic or democracy to flirt with.

Posted by: floopmeister on April 12, 2006 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

I have a question: If Iraq is in bad shape 5 years from now, who are the American people going to blame?

a) Bush / The Right
b) The Media / The Left
c) The Iraqis

I say c) by a wide margin.

Posted by: enozinho on April 12, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

I say c) by a wide margin.

Well, it's always easier to blame the foreigner. Just ask the Mexican immigrants...

Posted by: floopmeister on April 12, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

A loss of faith in the military would be a very good thing. Why, oh why do we need an offensive military? The world has changed tremendously since the cold war-Korea days.

Look back on the history of the last fifty years. When has a battle-ready, hair-trigger military helped us in any way? Gulf war? A United Nations effort could have done the job. Same with Afganistan.

The corallary is, how has it hurt us? Vietnam and Iraq come to mind. A strong military is a danger. We have seen just how much that bunch of gung-ho fighters is itchin for war. If we get a government that does not know restraint, we get disaster.

How about a doing-good force instead of a killing machine? A strong, battle ready disaster relief force. The U.S. is first on the scene in the next sunami. Thats how to win friends and influence people and to give our kids something to believe in.

I had to laugh as I read my post. The entire political establishment is snidely sniping at soft power peace and love Democrats (tonights Charlie Rose show), but I sure dont see any of them in the blogs. I must be the only one. Jeez, I didnt know I had such influence. If there is another one one out there drop me a line. Well go to lunch someday.

Posted by: James of DC on April 12, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

A strong military is a danger.

Yep, because at some point you gotta use the damn thing.

A related issue is the apparent reliance on military Keynesianism - four major military companies/combines, with the Pentagon as prime customer.

As brooksfoe mentioned in a thread a while ago, there's really only one other Western industrialised country that has relied on military Keynesianism at one point in it's history in order to getitself out of a depression.

Unfortunately, Godwin's Law bars me from mentioning the name of that country.

Posted by: floopmeister on April 12, 2006 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

Gulf war? A United Nations effort could have done the job. Same with Afganistan.

Well, that's not really true, in the first Gulf War. But that war was the Last of Its Kind: tanks confronting each other in massed formations, fighting to control territory. We'll never see another war like it, unless China freaks out and invades Taiwan, or N Korea decides to go for Seoul. Neither of which are very likely.

Afghanistan we basically won with Special Forces and air power. So, yeah, we could have a smaller military and still pull that off. But it would still be an offensive military. And getting rid of the Taliban was necessary.

We don't need to get rid of the military. We need to refocus it on peacekeeping and counterinsurgency, and integrate it better with the State Dept and USAID (sometimes), so it can do a better job of putting countries like Afghanistan back together. And we need to find some way to institutionally prioritize collaboration with like-minded democracies and discourage unilateralism. Finally, we need to completely eliminate the neoconservative view that it is productive to destroy enemy governments without putting anything in their place. In the aftermath of 9/11 I remember someone talking about "ending states that support terrorism". I remember thinking at the time, "Ending states? WTF? It's never a good idea to end a state. That's how we got Al-Qaeda in the first place - we ended the Afghan state." Then we went ahead and ended the Iraqi state, and here we are. What we need is a military that doesn't think its job is to end states.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 12, 2006 at 4:20 AM | PERMALINK

"We shall beat our swords into plowshares".
Peace Corps. Marshall Plan.
.............................
"Pre-emptive strike".
......................
How times change.

Posted by: opit on April 12, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

obf: "The claim that more people died under Saddam than during this war is true only by BlaBlaBla: comparing deaths today to deaths in the 1980s and early 1990s"

huh? So more people did die under Sadaam, but the timeframe was somewhat longer? That's good to know. you are also discounting how many people would be dead had Sadaam stayed in power, or even worse, those two sick fuck children of his had taken control.


one thing is for sure....

more americans have died in iraq...since...saddam was captured

than in all his time in power....


Posted by: thisosaceavailable on April 12, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

OBF: Until we can agree on a definition, this debate is utterly meaningless.

It is impossible to agree on a definition with conservatives because their definitions change to fit the situation and the meanings of words become whatever is necessary to further the delusions arising from their Bush Infatuation Syndrome.

Posted by: Advocate for God on April 12, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

AFG: Bush Infatuation Syndrome.

I've to think of it as the Bush Idealization Syndrome, borrowing the psych term, idealization, that speaks of a compulsive neurotic tendency of adult children to tenaciously defend the idealized love object and more deeply pathological than a passing fancy.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 12, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, yeah, yeah - and than the Washingtonpost editoral goes off and makes suggestiongs for Bush to follow.

CAN THIS PRESIDENCY be saved? President Bush's approval rating has plummeted to a dismal 38 percent, according to the latest Post-ABC News poll. Democrats will rejoice at their improving prospects of recovering a majority in Congress. But a damaged president governing for nearly three more years in a dangerous world is no cause for rejoicing. With that in mind, we offer Mr. Bush, at no charge, some advice on a fresh start.

The president's two largest handicaps aren't going away. He's spending most of his political capital, as he noted recently, on the war in Iraq. He's right to do so: As long as there remains a chance of achieving a political settlement in Iraq, that must be the president's first priority. He could be more engaged and more open to fresh thinking; he could, for example, embrace the new bipartisan commission on Iraq policy established at the urging of Congress -- especially of Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) -- and led by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former representative Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.). But nothing he does on Iraq is likely to do him any good in the polls.

If only little Bushie could EVER listen to dear old dad and good friend James Baker the III instead of Paul Wolfowitz.

Shouldn't we consider impeachment at long last see as Bush has no morality and can't listen to imporant facts?

Bush can't be saved because Bush NEVER listens to anyone except Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. The bubble boy is NEVER coming out of his little bubble and with things the way the are shouldn't the nation consider a change of leaders for sack of security.

I'd like to offer the MSN and the Washington Post, at no charge, some advice on a fresh start. If in fact the Dems are set to take back control of congress - perhas the Washington Post should see the writing on wall - Bush has only one place to go -that's down. NO if and's or buts about it.

There is no saving this presidency so the WP should stop kissing dubya royal rear-end. It's only making the WP look bad and like this newspaper is unable deal squarely with public.

Posted by: Cheryl on April 12, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Does he think military leaders should have the courage to publicly state Iraq is in civil war? One can not help but notice he does not have the courage to name the radio hack who hung up on him.

Posted by: Layne on April 12, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Let's gradually replace the troops with trolls and talk-show hosts and producers.

Posted by: Kenji on April 12, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Hugh Hewitt should be ashamed of himself -
as should Dennis Prager,
Micheal Medved -

the whole host of them -
along with the cast of Fox news -

Posted by: christAlmighty on April 12, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

[The Lancet study] proved that if you extrapolated mortality in the Battle of Fallujah nationwide, people would die earlier. An extrapolation so unrealistic that it proves a point. Academia gets stupid over politics.
Posted by: McA

Well, isn't this a wee bit deceptive?

In actuality, the Lancet survey excluded Fallujah, which popped up in its random sampling. If the findings from the city were taken into account, the most likely figure of excess deaths would have been about 268K, not 98k.

BTW, good article on the shameful reaction to the Lancet report, here.

(sorry if this is somewhat offtopic)

Posted by: Bill on April 12, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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