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Tilting at Windmills

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April 19, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TOO MUCH JOHN WAYNE....Alan Sharpe, a British brigadier general who helped write the coalition campaign plan for Iraq during a tour in Baghdad in 2004, has a few choice words about the U.S. military's approach to war:

An important part to being a successful American officer was to be able to combine the "real and acted heroics" of Audie Murphy, the "newsreel antics" of Gen Douglas MacArthur and the "movie performances" of Hollywood actors, the brigadier wrote.

While this might look good on television at home, the brigadier suggested that "loud voices, full body armour, wrap-around sunglasses, air strikes and daily broadcasts from shoulder-holster wearing brigadier-generals proudly announcing how many Iraqis have been killed by US forces today" was no "hearts-and-minds winning tool".

That should do wonders for the 'ol special relationship, shouldn't it?

Kevin Drum 1:23 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (136)

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Wimps.

Posted by: IOKIYAR on April 19, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Do YOU want your national healthcare run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard?

Yeah. I thought so.

Posted by: Judy Miller on April 19, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

There may be more to a successful occupation than simply not getting shot at.

While Britain did some good work in the south, and certainly saw less action, now it seems like Iranian-linked militias and others pretty much walked in and ran Basra the way they wanted to.

The endorsement of the Al-Fadila Islamic Party and the Baathists for a particular military style doesn't impress me that much.

As usual, the immmense amount of work America has actually done in the "hearts and minds" area is largely ignored.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 19, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, I think the "special relationship" is just fine, thanks. Britain has said they won't participate in any military action in Iran, and some hawks have given them grief for that. But in my opinion, Britain and Blair have gone far, far beyond that extra mile in backing the U.S. in Iraq, and if they bow out of any action in Iran (which I hope is not necessary), I won't think less of them for it.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 19, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

ran Basra the way they wanted to.

And that's different from Baghdad how?

Posted by: ogmb on April 19, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

As usual, the immmense amount of work America has actually done in the "hearts and minds" area is largely ignored.

How tragic that is. Here's the opening of your propaganda, er, web link:

"In 2003, USAID framed its assistance program for Iraq around the minimum conditions that the country must attain if it were to have a stable government and economy. With a portfolio valued at $5.2 billion, USAID supports the transition of Iraq to a stable, democratic, and prosperous state."

Nice words. Three years later, much more than $5.2 billion later, how are those minimum conditions looking? Not so hot. No, wait, don't tell me - it's a paradise, if only that pesky liberal media would stop telling us about all the dead people.

Posted by: craigie on April 19, 2006 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

the brigadier suggested that "loud voices, full body armour, wrap-around sunglasses,

This is quite funny - it's very redolent of how Brits see Yanks in general (hey! a pun!). Reminds me, in fact, of a favorite joke:

Q: Why do Americans talk so loud?
A: So they can be heard above their trousers.

Posted by: craigie on April 19, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

If we can't win with John Wayne style, then what's the point?

Rhetorical, of course.

Posted by: HRlaughed on April 19, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

There may be more to a successful occupation than simply not getting shot at.

Well I am glad we can admit that we can use the word "occupation" now.

Not getting shot at is a basic necessity for a successful occupation. if you're still getting shot
at, the painting of the schools obviously wasn't up to scratch. And you can't really paint anything else , either.

Iranian-linked militias and others pretty much walked in and ran Basra the way they wanted to.

As opposed to doing what? Provoking Shia forces unnecessarily when you simply don't have the necessary manpower to follow through as US forces did in Apr 2004 with no discernible successful result?

Posted by: AlanM on April 19, 2006 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: While Britain did some good work in the south, and certainly saw less action, now it seems like Iranian-linked militias and others pretty much walked in and ran Basra the way they wanted to.

Hmmm... Wonder how that could have happened? Or why the British haven't been able to keep a lid on things? Here's a clue, from Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, October 2005:

It [Iran] supported renegade Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, beamed anti-American propaganda into Iraq on 42 Arabic-language radio and television stations, and built a network of social services in southern Iraq that bested those provided by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). [emphasis added]
You gotta wonder about the "immmense amount of work America has actually done in the 'hearts and minds' area" when the bad guys do a much better job of providing social services. And how could that happen? Let me count the ways... Face it, the US has a bunch of amateurs running the show, and Sharpe's observations are spot on.

Posted by: has407 on April 19, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter - there's a new superpower on the block - China - and old chums will be forced to band together soon enough.

Posted by: N on April 19, 2006 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

The British have far more historical experience than Americans in both the art of war and in the conduct of war as an instrument of national policy. Frankly, I'm glad that whenever we're in a scrap that they're on our side, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us.

And since we are in a bit of a pickle in Iraq right now, I would think it wise for the Bush administration (and the rest of the mindless "USA! USA!"-chanting right-wing yahoos out there, for that matter) to pay some heed to British counsel on the subject -- instead of constantly getting their collective American flag-print panties in a bunch every time one of our NATO allies doesn't readily agree to follow our lead with no questions asked.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 19, 2006 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

Remember 'Rambo 3'? Rambo and the Taliban kill many many bad Russians.

Posted by: Plastic Turkey on April 19, 2006 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

N: "It doesn't matter - there's a new superpower on the block - China ..."

Well, China's not quite the superpower yet, so let's not jump the gun. However, we would be wise to anticipate all possible scenarios with regard to world geo-political alignments, and begin planning for each accordingly.

But for now, suffice to say that our relationship with China, either now or in the future, does not necessarily have to be adversarial in nature, unless we choose to have it so.

In that regard, American voters would do well to spurn those political factions, parties or leaders within our own country that seem unable or unwilling to function effectively without some sort of bogeyman perpetually on the horizon.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 19, 2006 at 3:46 AM | PERMALINK

Donald from Hawaii
Funny about that old chums thing.
Backlash can take forms not anticipated.
Russia and China are making nice !
Take a look at populations and land masses of the two, remembering Russia has mineral deposits and oil.
Anytime one wants to assume U.S. de facto world domination, those are eyebrow raiding stats indeed.

Posted by: opit on April 19, 2006 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

We had a plan?

Posted by: merlallen on April 19, 2006 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Tony Blair is grateful for trobscz' endorsement.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on April 19, 2006 at 4:41 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone got a link to the original paper?

Posted by: ajay on April 19, 2006 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK

This guy is right on the money. The American military is full of egotistical grandstanders and poseurs, many of whom have never been in real combat situations. I question whether they have the best interests of the United States in mind. Veering slightly off-topic, here is a great column disemboweling Bushs Iran invasion plans.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 19, 2006 at 6:51 AM | PERMALINK

This guy is right on the money. The American military is full of egotistical grandstanders and poseurs, many of whom have never been in real combat situations.

Where do you get this shit from? The voices in your head?

The leaders in this recent go-around pretty much all had experience in either GWI or Kosovo, or did Southern Watch/Northern Watch duty, or Afghanistan. And in Iraq they are going back for seconds and thirds (reenlisting at 15% above expected rates). We've never had a more experienced military than at the moment.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

Best line in the article:

As the Iraqi left he said: "Hey, Mr American, next time before you shout so much you should speak to him. He is British - they know how to invade a country."

Posted by: 2.7182818 on April 19, 2006 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

reenlisting at 15% above expected rates

This is a meaningless statistic. Expected by whom?

Posted by: raj on April 19, 2006 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

Manly men playing war games in Texas:

http://www.nytstore.com/ProdImages/NSAP827_large.jpg

Posted by: dts on April 19, 2006 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Like the U.S. gives a shit about winning hearts and minds.

Posted by: steve duncan on April 19, 2006 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

>Iranian-linked militias and others pretty much walked in and ran Basra the way they wanted to.

"Militas" consisting of, um, Iraqis.

How do they have less right to run an IRAQI city "the way they want to" than Brits or Americans?

Oh, I forgot: brown people. Can't do anything without the Great White Father. Never mind.

Posted by: doesn't matter on April 19, 2006 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

This is a meaningless statistic. Expected by whom?

Expected by past retention numbers. The military keeps statistics on how many folks stay in past their first enlistment. Current numbers for combat units are 15% higher than what past history would lead one to expect. People that are in the fight are staying in.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-04-09-army-re-enlistments_x.htm

The Army has met or exceeded its goals for retention for the past five years, records show. It was 8% over its goal for 2005, and 7% ahead of its targets for 2004. The number of re-enlistments has exceeded the Army's goal by a larger margin each year since 2001.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, it's been said many times, many ways, but your arrogance is stunning.

Posted by: Ace Franze on April 19, 2006 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, I forgot: brown people. Can't do anything without the Great White Father. Never mind.

Yea, brown people. We should have just let them die under Saddam, like we did with the Rwandans and are doing with the people of Darfur.

Is that what you are suggesting?

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

This is a war, Kevin, not a popularity contest.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 19, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

This is a war, Kevin, not a popularity contest.

Which is just as well for you and the other members of The 37% Club. Can you say "hysterical denial"?

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2006 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

FWIW, I don't think that the British army has a rank of "brigadier general." The Brits do not consider a "brigadier" to be a general-rank officer. Brigadier is sandwiched between colonel and major general.

Posted by: Joe S. on April 19, 2006 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

"We've never had a more experienced military than at the moment."

Heh. Experienced at . . . what?

http://www.slate.com/id/2127487/

"Recruiters, having failed to meet their enlistment targets, are now being authorized to pursue high-school dropouts and (not to mince words) stupid people."

Looks like you may be able to enlist now, RSM.

Posted by: Joel on April 19, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Joe's right. Brigadier is a US one-star equivalent; then it goes major-general, lieutenant-general, general, field marshal in ascending order. Minor mistake.

Posted by: ajay on April 19, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

craigie: "No, wait, don't tell me - it's a paradise, if only that pesky liberal media would stop telling us about all the dead people."

You must have missed the nice article in the April 19 NYTimes reporting on what a popular tourist destination Babylon will be in the near future. Rivalling Egypt.

No, really!

"Emad Lafta al-Bayati, Hilla's mayor, has big plans for Babylon. "I want restaurants, gift shops, long parking lots," he said."

"God willing, he added, maybe even a Holiday Inn."

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 19, 2006 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike,you may want to look at how the Army was able to retain so many people. "The Army spent approximately $426 million on reenlistment bonuses in fiscal year 2005 or almost 8 times more than its budgeted amount of $54.3 million to meet its retention goals."
Mercenary Army?
www.gao.gov/new.items/do6134.pdf

Posted by: TJM on April 19, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK


TBROSZ: As usual, the immmense amount of work America has actually done in the "hearts and minds" area is largely ignored.

Rather galling of you to send us running to one of the government's more propagandistic sites on the web. A close examination of the "Accomplishments" page you linked directly to reveals that it hasn't been updated since September 14, 2005 -- more than seven months ago. Not a lot to brag about lately, eh? $5.2 billion to spend (as of that date), and they've got not a word new to say about how they're spending it. But it's nice to know that your heart and mind are appeased.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 19, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how class colors Sharpe's view of the American military officer.

In the UK, being a military officer is an upper class thing--the career choice of many younger sons--and the military culture reflects the values of the English upper class. What Sharpe is describing as a vulgar, upstart military officer--loud, insensitive, parochial, aggressive, boastful--is true of American culture in general. The image of the ugly American didn't start with our failure to win hearts and minds in Iraq.

However, our failures in Iraq are not due to the personal characteristics of our military leaders. The British for all their style didn't do so well themselves in Iraq in the 20s and 30s. Our officers are seasoned and competent.

Our failure in Iraq is because we should never have invaded Iraq in the first place: You just can't bomb people into loving you. The failure in Iraq lies solely with our insensitive, parochial, aggressive, boastful President and his advisors who don't know how little they know about the world and don't care.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 19, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Link above should end with /06134.pdf

Posted by: TJM on April 19, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Britons are not standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States. If you travel to Britain and bring up the subject of Iraq you will find Tony Blair and his inner circle stand alone with Mr. Bush and the neocons, and even they have their doubts. After the trailer trash torture at abu Ghraib and the lawless detentions and legitimized brutality at Guantanamo, the belligerence, the manufactured casus belli, executive government by fiat and secret militias, the fleecing of the public coffer, Americans are regarded as the crudest of imperialists who exhibit a toxic mix of hubris, greed, sheepish servitude, and stunning naivety. Many people from military officers on down use the word fascist without irony. If you bring up the United States in the Era of Bush eyes roll, even the glazed eyes of the staunchest Tories. Frankly, George Bushs folksy foibles and his inability to articulate anything beyond the crudest jingoism give Britons the impression the United States is governed by a profound idiot whose defining quality is juvenile cunning.

It is shocking to think how the American reputation has changing in fifty years.
This is what Isaiah Berlin said about Franklin Roosevelt and the United States in Europes darkest hour:

It all began with the great slump of 1931, which undermined the feeling, perhaps quite baseless, of economic security which a good many young people of the middle classes then had. There followed the iron 30s, of which the English poets of the time -Auden, Spender, Day Lewis- left a very vivid testament: the dark and leaden 30s, to which , alone of all periods, no one in Europe wishes to return, unless indeed they lament the passing of Fascism. There came Manchuria, Hitler, the Hunger Marchers, the Abyssinian War, the Peace Ballot, the Left Book Club, Malrauxs political novels, even the article by Virginia Woolf in the Daily Worker, the Soviet trials and purges, the conversions of idealistic young liberals and radicals to Communism, or strong sympathy with it, often for no better reason than that it seemed the only force firm enough and strong enough to resist the Fascist enemy effectively; such conversions were sometimes followed by visits to Moscow or by fighting in Spain, and death on the battlefield, or else bitter and angry disillusionment with Communist practice, or some desperate and unconvinced choice between who evils of that which seemed lesser.

The most insistent propaganda in those days declared that humanitarianism and liberalism and democratic forces were played out, and that the choice now lay between two bleak extremes, Communism and Fascism- the red and the black. To those who were not carried away by this patter the only light that was left in the darkness was the administration of Roosevelt and the New Deal in the United States. At a time of weakness and mounting despair in the democratic world Roosevelt radiated confidence and strength. He was the leader of the democratic world, and upon him alone, of all the statesmen of the 30s, no cloud rested- neither on him nor on the New Deal, which to European eyes still looks a bright chapter in the history of mankind...

Posted by: bellumregio on April 19, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

loud voices, full body armour, wrap-around sunglasses, air strikes and daily broadcasts from shoulder-holster wearing brigadier-generals proudly announcing how many Iraqis have been killed by US forces today

Hmmm, this reminds me of some line, how did that go?

Oh yeah, "A fool's tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 19, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Stephen:

Veering slightly off-topic, here is a great column disemboweling Bushs Iran invasion plans.

Technically, that would be "Seymour Hersh's invasion plans." As I expected, his article has become irrefutable gospel on the Left.

***

jayarbee:

The index page layout hasn't been updated since then. Try some links, particulary those in the dark blue bar at the right. You did try at least one link on the page, right?

Posted by: tbrosz on April 19, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent catch, jararbee! Wonder if part of the $5.2 bill went to the web"master" there? Maybe they "re-enlisted"!

I wonder if the "stop-loss" program had something to do the rsm's "re-enlistment" numbers?

Also, consider that many of those "over there" had a primary job with the military as secondary. As many companies do not have to keep their jobs available past a certain date (amount of time away), they have no primary jobs to go back to, therefore might as well stay in the military.

Posted by: Sky-Ho on April 19, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Technically, that would be "Seymour Hersh's invasion plans." As I expected, his article has become irrefutable gospel on the Left.


Yeah, it's amazing we keep believing this guy after he got Vietnam wrong and Abu Grab wrong.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 19, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Frequency nails it.

Posted by: lib on April 19, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

The British may have helped us a lot in Iraq, but they are yet to impress me with any substantial contribution to our effort to subjugate the turbanned Iraqis who are out to destroy us. Just yesterday I saw one of those in a gas station in Palo Alto.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 19, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Please, fake tbrosz, give it a rest

Posted by: Botecelli on April 19, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

The British are "occupying" their region, not conducting an active counterinsurgency campaign. Given the unpopularity of British participation in Iraq, their policy is to avoid casualties. Brosz is correct as to the effects of this, which is to give a free hand to unsavory and repressive elements in Basra, with no particular benefit to the inhabitants.

That said, Brigadier Sharpe makes a number of cogent points: What seems to be lacking in the US military is a culture of humility and respect for the "enemy" or the inhabitants of the country that the US operates in. Part of this is due to cultural differences; part is in training (dehumanizing the enemy makes it morally easier to kill them); and part of it is an imbalance between protection vs. communication. US officers should lose the protective gear and side arms when interacting with Iraqis. They will get more respect for doing so.

Brigadier Sharpe should also bear in mind that General MacArthur--for all his ego and preening--was a brilliant strategist, had all the qualities in an officer that Sharpe claims to admire (in WW I, MacArthur led his troops from the front, armed only with a riding crop), and displayed operational flexibility and cultural sensitivity to a degree that today's US military has long since forgotten.

Posted by: Wombat on April 19, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK


TJM: Red State Mike,you may want to look at how the Army was able to retain so many people. "The Army spent approximately $426 million on reenlistment bonuses in fiscal year 2005 or almost 8 times more than its budgeted amount of $54.3 million to meet its retention goals."

When talking about the methods used by the military to retain people, we are remiss if we do not also point out the indentured servitude practices of the Army as they forced 50,000 soldiers to serve beyond their enlistment commitments. Talk about winning hearts and minds.

But the other side of force size is, of course, enlistment. The military will point with pride to the fact that they slightly surpassed their goals for March. But the goal of 80,000 recruits for this fiscal year--which began last October, or six months ago--is only 39% met. This despite reducing aptitude requirements, adding waivers for criminal history and drug usage, large increases to enlistment bonuses, and a 30% increase in recruitment personnel.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 19, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

fake tbrosz: The British ... are yet to impress me with any substantial contribution to our effort to subjugate the turbanned Iraqis who are out to destroy us. Just yesterday I saw one of those in a gas station in Palo Alto.

The British have done a splendid subjugating the turbanned Iraqis. Their strategy has been to ship them to places like Palo Alto.

Posted by: alex on April 19, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK


CORRECTION: In my 10:38am comment above, I inadvertently included an erroneous link to support my remarks. While it addresses the same matter, the corrected link is more specific and recent, and it conforms directly to my remarks. My apologies. The corrected original comment follows.


TJM: Red State Mike,you may want to look at how the Army was able to retain so many people. "The Army spent approximately $426 million on reenlistment bonuses in fiscal year 2005 or almost 8 times more than its budgeted amount of $54.3 million to meet its retention goals."

When talking about the methods used by the military to retain people, we are remiss if we do not also point out the indentured servitude practices of the Army as they forced 50,000 soldiers to serve beyond their enlistment commitments. Talk about winning hearts and minds.

But the other side of force size is, of course, enlistment. The military will point with pride to the fact that they their goals for March. But the goal of 80,000 recruits for this fiscal year--which began last October, or six months ago--is only 39% met. This despite reducing aptitude requirements, adding waivers for criminal history and drug usage, large increases to enlistment bonuses, and a 30% increase in recruitment personnel.

Posted by: jayarbee on April 19, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

I rememeber first moving to texas, it was a democratic state then, yet thats but a name, our teacher, we were 3rd grade Students, Pulled a TV into the Classroom, every day we saw how many helicopters were shot down, the POWS, the Number of troops killed. It was a running scorecard, The world wass full of fear during this time. The Vietnam Police Action finally ended, no one had won this war, after 60,000 americans had died, nothing really changed. The next Years were spent hiding under desks at school, Drills for the Commies that Could Nuke us at any Second, Basements annd Nuclear Fallout Signs Galore, Fear on the Lips of Man Woman and me a Child, I was scared back then and Didn't know why, Today Im not scared and will not cower in Fear because of some "Fear Factor" Reporters such as Judith Miller.
Shut up Judith Miller Shut up, you and the Chicken Littles have run around, CRAZY, for forty Years now. Shut up Shut up Shut Up, you speak like a perosn full of fear and paranoia. You are WEAK.
Pathethic Whiners, The Whole Lot of the Crisis managment media. Shut the feck up. Judy Miller, Perle, Woodward, Pundits of Fear, Chickens Paranoid ALL.

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on April 19, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

I dont see how the comment about the armys 500 years of experience makes it better than the american army though... their 300 years of experience (at the time) didnt seem to help much in the american revolution against an army with 10 yrs experience.

Posted by: supuri on April 19, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

So Drum wants the Alan Alda approach? A more sensitive war?

BWHAHAHAHAA! !!

Posted by: Bark At The Moon on April 19, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Many of my relatives have served in the forces over the decades, My uncle to this day is not 'RIGHT' because of the Time he spent in Vietnam, and in WWI and WW2, My grandmother worked at the higgins in Louisianna, She was a 'Rosey the Riveter' for the War effort, She was a democrat, as if that matters, She and many of mine fought for this country, to find out that Vietnam sigint was skewed to Foment War, that WWII was Fomented by Elitists, that IRAQ war also is now started by Lies, another war Fomented by those whoi will not serve or suffer. No, This shit has go on long enough, The Warmongers and Empire builders created these Wars, mostly for political Ideology, or because reporters such as Judith Miller have Caterwauled relentlessly in the Press their 'Fears' and their opinions, which in the End usually are very wrong, No. This Human, this Former "Demnocrat" Has seen first hand what these people do with their Ideologies, and their Paranoia.
No Damnit No, the Leaders of this country shall not get any more of my families blood and sweat. They simply do not deserve it. Judith Miller and her ILK should burn in hell. And I, Hope they DO, and thats a terrible thing to say...I am not sorry.

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on April 19, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Too much John Wayne?

LOL:

I am the decision-maker see...
I make decisions.
It is hard work see...
Now you pilgrims,
You pilgrims... see...
You pilgrims are decision-followers...see...

Posted by: koreyel on April 19, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK
While Britain did some good work in the south, and certainly saw less action, now it seems like Iranian-linked militias and others pretty much walked in and ran Basra the way they wanted to.

Giving SCIRI and, consequently, the Badr Brigades a major role in running the whole country, and not just Basra, was a part of the US strategery.

Blaming the British for the fact that this had particularly notable results where SCIRI was already strongest is, well, stupid.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 19, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

I know that a lot of the Red state or conservative commentators hate this, but the British general's comments are pretty standard around the world. The American military is very unpopular just about everywhere. US officers are seen as jerks and the soldiers as ignorant slobs. Please note I'm not saying that's true - I'm saying that's how they're perceived.

We don't notice it because there is a constant theme of support the troops. And a celebration of their courage and willingness to serve. But the repitition of that theme completely obscures the fact that pretty much only Americans think so highly of "our boys". The Israelis think we're cocky but not quite as good as them. The Canadians can't stand us, the British wonder what the heck Tony Blair was thinking / smoking, etc. More or less, the ugly American.

And Abu Gharib was just one example. The rapes in Okinawa, the gondola accident in Italy, the jets training in Germany primed the world to believe the worst about American forces. What Iraq has added to that is that now not only don't they like us, they don't respect us much either. And that's a real problem for the neo-con imperial fantasy.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 19, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

koreyel gets to the point i wanted to make: i'm less concerned about generals wanting to be john wayne than i am about presidents wanting to be john wayne.

as for red state mike, it's amazing, isn't it, how right-wingers have no time sense at all. Yes, at one point in time, Saddam was committing genocide (this point would be known, by and large, as the period when we supported him). By 2003, he was no longer committing genocide, and our heroic adventure had nothing to do with keeping saddam from such widespread murder.

Posted by: howard on April 19, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

one eye buck tooth,

Around these parts the Mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq has made a public appeal for other parents of soldiers to send in their 'good news' stories.

She is convinced the media is simply refusing to run the good news stuff and that we are seeing an intentionally distorted view of Iraq. She flat out has said "Don't tell me my son died in vain."

It really bothers me that Bush sold this Mother a bill of goods and yet when the Mother finally figures it out she will blame everyone except Bush.

It should be a crime to use the idealism of youth for political purposes. To those soldiers and parents this wasn't some stupid re-election strategy. They believed the campaign rhetoric. They've made the ultimate sacrifice, and for what?

Posted by: Tripp on April 19, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK
As usual, the immmense amount of work America has actually done in the "hearts and minds" area is largely ignored.

Especially by the target population -- which is an indication that that work, inasmuch as it has occurred at all, has been either done poorly or neutralized by other aspects of the US operation.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 19, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK
Yea, brown people. We should have just let them die under Saddam, like we did with the Rwandans and are doing with the people of Darfur.

Is that what you are suggesting?

I'm not sure how killing them faster is an improvement on letting the die as they were.

But thanks for today's iteration of "we had to butcher the Iraqis in order to save them."

Posted by: cmdicely on April 19, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

I bet there are LOTS of young people in the U.S. who would enlist in our armed forces if the bullying swagger factor could be toned down. Some folks are attracted to a hazing lifestyle, but it's a minority of us, I hope.

Posted by: ferd on April 19, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

bellumregio:

Thanks for that marvelously contextualizing Isaiah Berlin quote on FDR ...

cmdicely:

WTF is "strategery?" One of those insufferably stupid questions that you can't ask because everybody allegedly knows.

But me, apparently. But I'm askin' it anyway :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 19, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

'As the Iraqi left he said: "Hey, Mr American, next time before you shout so much you should speak to him. He is British - they know how to invade a country." '

Yeah, alongside guys named Omar Bradley and Patton.

But next time we need advice about how to extricate an army from a contiinent (while leaving all its equipment behind) we'll be sure to call the Brits. Especially the guy who:

'...was awarded the OBE and the American Bronze Star for writing the "coalition campaign plan" for Iraq during a tour in Baghdad in 2004....'

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 19, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Red State Mike,you may want to look at how the Army was able to retain so many people. "The Army spent approximately $426 million on reenlistment bonuses in fiscal year 2005 or almost 8 times more than its budgeted amount of $54.3 million to meet its retention goals."

Just to help out, since I'm sure Red State Mike doesn't meet or know any real soldiers from his mom's basement, here is what a buddy Guardsman in Iraq has been telling me.

Now near the end of their tour, they have been moved to from guarding Iraqi convoys to escorting Kuwaitii convoys - so they have less recent risk when making their decisions (I'm still grateful for the lowered risk he's in now). They get frequent propaganda from re enlistment officers. They get individual pressure from them as well. They recieve constantly escalating offers to re enlist often exceeding $30,000 if you hold out.

Before the Iran nonsense started, he told me he was strongly considering re enlisting if he could work them up to a full doctoral scholarship. Otherwise, they could find someone else to guard KBR employees getting 20X his pay for travelling the same road in the same convoy. I hoping this Iran idiocy has changed his mind on that.

"So Drum wants the Alan Alda approach? A more sensitive war?"

Hey dummy, here's the thing. This is not WWII. Or WWI. Or the Conquest of the West. This is supposedly a War of Liberation. And it has to be fought differently. You can't liberate people by firebombing their cities. You can't liberate people by destroying their industry. That is what you do to enemies in a war of conquest.

We made the exact same mistakes in Vietnam, killing tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then millions of vietnamese civilians, then wondering why they turned against us and the people we put in place as their rulers.

So yeah, you have to fight a more sensitive war. And that means your soldiers have to be as willing to die for the people they are liberating as they are for native born americans. That means when a bomb hits your convoy, you don't wildly spray fire into the surrounding crowds. That means you don't bomb their infrastructure into the ground, and you don't let their city fall into chaos and looting. You don't round up people on the flimsiest grounds and mass imprison them for months or years. You don't airstrike a house because you don't want to risk soldiers raiding it, because sometimes you miss and sometimes all those people were having a wedding or funeral or a birthday party.

You accept more risk, and you use your casualties to prove how much you care about the liberated people - our soldiers died protecting you. Help them. They have given you more freedom, clean water, 24 hour electricity, and good jobs.

In other words, you do all the things we are not doing, but somehow expect Iraqis to be grateful for anyway. Because this was neither a war for conquest or for liberation, but for transfering vast quantities of american wealth into a very few peoples' hands, and for getting american companies to run Iraqi oil fields. And the idiots running our military still believe "the left" or "the press" resulted in our defeat in vietnam, instead of accepting that we lost because we made enemies faster than we could kill them, in spite of how very good we were at killing them.

Posted by: Mysticdog on April 19, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Please, fake tbrosz, give it a rest.

In case you care, the real one has sunk so low that my humble and flawed and not very successful attempts at mockery seem to be the only response.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 19, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

koreyel gets to the point i wanted to make: i'm less concerned about generals wanting to be john wayne than i am about presidents wanting to be john wayne.

Actually, since John Wayne was a draft dodger who avoided service in World War II for the sake of his movie career I think we already have a president who's just like John Wayne.

And Wayne didn't like horses either, though unlike Bush he wasn't actively scared of them.

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp : If it wasn't for the idealism and naivite of youth war would be more difficult to promote and sustain. Where people die young and the demographics are skewed to youth ( in the Caribbean, say ) simplistic solutions are an easier sell. Of course, the resulting PTSD harms marriages and children : people do train into violence, especially where no visible alternative is promoted.
One eye buck tooth : We used to refer to Emergency Measures Organization drills in the classroom ( for nuclear strike ) as "kiss your ass goodbye" exercises.

Posted by: opit on April 19, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK
WTF is "strategery?"

Its from a SNL parody of Bush speaking style, and its been adopted in a number of different uses by supporters and critics of the administration.

As I used it in the post at issue, it is, roughly, equivalent to using "strategy" with scare quotes.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 19, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

What you tbroszes -- real and fake -- don't seem to be able to keep up with is the extreme level of bovine flatulence which has seeped into every nook and cranny of my bottom drawer and has permanently altered the meaning of the pajamas which I proudly (and *sigh* erstwhile) wore while disseminating my pearls of wisdom to you all, which now must sit constrained in these drab Hanes shorts, too far from the washing machine's comforting thump on the floors of nocturnal contemplation and gassy tumblage, rendering warm and fluffy all my crowding thoughts of erumpent futures for all, family-sized nuke plants in the basement, genetic recompilers bubbling merrily on the bunsen and fond dreams of strong, sure young men in positions of benevolent power *sigh* over us all.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 19, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

WTF is "strategery?"

"Strategery."

Posted by: Windhorse on April 19, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta say, "swivelling sphincter" adds little to nothing to the fine body of work of tbrosz parodies. We should play "rate the parody" sometime. I can't recall the handle of the really entertaining one...I'll watch for it.

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I said: I can't recall the handle of the really entertaining one...I'll watch for it.

Meant to say: I can't recall the fake e-mail of the really entertaining one.

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

You're apparently not much of a fan of Donald Bartheleme :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 19, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick R. Sullivan: next time we need advice about how to extricate an army from a contiinent [sic] (while leaving all its equipment behind) we'll be sure to call the Brits

Talking Points strategery revealed - the British are the new French!

I'd just like to add some helpful points. First, the "English" court and nobility spoke French for several centuries after the Norman invasion. In fact those people are responsible for adding all that French to our good Germanic language. And during the medieval warm period the "English" grew wine grapes.

Hey, there are no end of similarities.

Posted by: alex on April 19, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop : I suspect you're thinking of the "black helicopters" tbrosz.

Posted by: opit on April 19, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

opit, nah...I can't remember. I'll watch for it.

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

as for red state mike, it's amazing, isn't it, how right-wingers have no time sense at all. Yes, at one point in time, Saddam was committing genocide (this point would be known, by and large, as the period when we supported him). By 2003, he was no longer committing genocide, and our heroic adventure had nothing to do with keeping saddam from such widespread murder.

Are you saying it was a good thing we supported him while he committed genocide? Or a bad thing? Or should we have just looked the other way, ala Rwanda? Or intervened ala Kosovo? I'm always confused on that point with liberals. What is your stand, once you get past the cheap "Rummie met with Saddam" snark from the back benchers.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

opit:

conspiracy nut has the patent on black helicopters in his email.

helicalrocket's the most common one. circularstrawman seems to be by popular acclaim (including helicalrocket's) the somewhat sharper one.

My swivellingsphincter's strictly for absurd whimsy. Not to be taken internally :)

I mean shit, I just spent half the night reading William T. Volmann, whaddaya expect?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 19, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, dear. I appear to have dropped a brick. Again.

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

"That should do wonders for the 'ol special relationship, shouldn't it?"

Good Lord, man, what makes you think this represents a change? That's the way they've felt about us for the last 250 years, since the French and Indian War when they sized George Washington up as a commander and found him seriously wanting.

Posted by: Strick on April 19, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

RSM:

The point being, the Republicans were not bothered by Saddam's actions in the 1980s, and suddenly they shamelessly come to Jesus about Saddam's regime when it suits their interests?

Or the party whose leaders criticized Clinton's intervention in Kosovo as unecessary and wasteful, and as a diversion from his ongoing impeachment problems now suddenly and shamelessly promote humanitarian interventions? Give me a f-----g break.

Posted by: Wombat on April 19, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

No worries, dear.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 19, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Er, Bob...

Never mind. Life's too short. The cape and boots await.

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Alan Sharpe is pointing out the envelope of seclusion Americans carry with them when they go beyond their borders and suggests it will lead to imperial failure. This has been noted since at least Vietnam when Moshe Dayan (Sharpe's observations are amazingly similar to Dayan's in Vietnam) pointed out how the Americans, while very brave, patriotic, well-armed and ready to improvise, were isolated in little America enclaves and relied on remote bombing and statistics to understand the events of the war. This Dayan thought was part of the reason why Americans were really losing the war- they did not have accurate and timely tactical intelligence. What Americans are prone to rely on because of the envelope of remoteness is an abstraction of the nature of war, the determination of the resistance and the meaning of the events. Certainly, if we have come to understand anything about the administration it is the true believer syndrome were there are flowers in the streets of Baghdad and the end of the war is just around the corner.

The Green Zone and the fortified embassy are prime examples of America abroad but still at home. Bushs entourage travels in a similar envelope of seclusion and paranoia. It is based on blindness and an arrogant belief that you understand the nature of the world without being part of it, not precaution.


Posted by: bellumregio on April 19, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan tet an extra $225 a month in imminent danger pay, and $200 a month in hardship duty pay. If they regularly serve in assignments considered unusually arduous or hazardous they get at least $150 a month in hazardous duty incentive pay. It is worth noting that these special pays, along with their regulary pay, is tax free while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Further, reenlistment bonuses have been raised to $15,000 for soldiers in about half of its enlisted job categories, $50,000 for senior enlisted personnel in hard to fill jobs and up to $150,000 for senior special ops folks who agree to 6 year reenlistments. The reenlistment bonuses are prorated over the term of the enlistment, but that portion received while serving in Iraq is tax free.

The combination of higher pays and tax breaks is worth thousands of dollars to many service members and while certainly not the only reason for increased reenlistments, it has been an influencing factor.

Finally, military strength planners try to achieve a total force mix of junior and senior personnel for cost and assignment availability and other reasons. Offsetting low recruitment rates with higher reenlistment rates can only work over the short run without causing difficult to manage distortions in rank structures, promotion rates and pay and benefit costs.

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on April 19, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

I dont see how the comment about the armys 500 years of experience makes it better than the american army though... their 300 years of experience (at the time) didnt seem to help much in the american revolution against an army with 10 yrs experience.

Actually, in the American Revolution the British were often fighting against terrorists, combatants who didn't identify themselves as such by appearing in uniform. Also, I think those Yankee terrorists had a lot of help from the French navy.

Yeah, alongside guys named Omar Bradley and Patton. But next time we need advice about how to extricate an army from a contiinent (while leaving all its equipment behind) we'll be sure to call the Brits.

Granted, since the Americans of the day were quite content to watch Hitler win, the British were left to stand alone against an evil and more powerful foe. Still, at the height of their power the British were able to govern many distant and more populous lands. But your vaunted, oh-so-glorious American military can't even pacify little Iraq.

This little Iraq adventure has exposed all that 'pax Americana' stuff as nonsense. Yankee power has been exposed as a complete fraud. That's why Iran, North Korea, etc. get their jollies by taunting America. Get used to it Yanks: nobody's afraid of you anymore.

And for this you can thank Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.

Posted by: loyalist on April 19, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

well, red state mike, wombat has largely answered you, but just to continue on: i hate genocide, and neither does anyone else on the left-liberal spectrum.

on the other hand, i do not think the US is the world's policeman, charged to intervene every time genocide takes place. I'd like to see stronger international institutions take up the challenge of genocide every time it rears its ugly head, but typically, american right-wingers hater international institutions, leaving us without much in the way of options. but there's nothing confusing here. the only confusion is in the minds of right-wing propagandists.

what i also don't like are pompous blowhards (that would include you on this topic, ol' red state) who pretend that they have suddenly ascended the moral high ground by acting as though we invaded in 2003 to halt a genocide that wasn't taking place at the time. it's quite pathetic.

Posted by: howard on April 19, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

ye gods, i half-edited my sentence: i hate genocide "and so does everyone else on the left."

Posted by: howard on April 19, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

American soldiers need a little less swash, and a bit more buckle.

I don't mean it to sound trite. The wrap around reflective glasses and all the techie accoutrements have a deleterious effect. It's hard for the Iraqi man on the street to relate to someone who looks like a large bug.

Posted by: ExBrit on April 19, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wombat
well, red state mike, wombat has largely answered you, but just to continue on: i hate genocide, and neither does anyone else on the left-liberal spectrum.

I know what you meant. So what should be done about it?

what i also don't like are pompous blowhards (that would include you on this topic, ol' red state) who pretend that they have suddenly ascended the moral high ground by acting as though we invaded in 2003 to halt a genocide that wasn't taking place at the time. it's quite pathetic.

What's pathetic is democrats/liberals hide from making any kind of a stand on genocide by saying they couldn't do anything about it anyway because republicans are in charge or just obstructing. Every time the topic comes up it's "Rummie shook Saddam's hand" as the extent of the response. What's that mean? Is that your position on it? Is everything you think posed through the mirror of response to republicans? I think you guys would be utterly lost without the republicans to provide something for you respond to.

where is your moral ground?

on the other hand, i do not think the US is the world's policeman, charged to intervene every time genocide takes place. I'd like to see stronger international institutions take up the challenge of genocide every time it rears its ugly head...


Sounds good, although obviously the international institutions we have suck at this right now. UN definitely. NATO? There's hope. But I thijnk if we know there's genocide going on, we HAVE to do something if we consider ourselves a moral people. Otherwise it's just an en masse Kitty Genovese moment.

But then of course it is, as always, ALL ABOUT THE REPUBLICANS...

but typically, american right-wingers hate international institutions, leaving us without much in the way of options. but there's nothing confusing here. the only confusion is in the minds of right-wing propagandists.

Yes, you define yourself and your moral position completely as relative to republicans. How...weak-kneed.

As for my question, I have no problem as a military guy heading over to Darfur and laying some smackdown on the Janjaweed. I'd love to. Risk my life for it. Good cause. Same for Iraq. Even if GWB had other reasons for doing it.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, to be really argumentative, you could point out that they only respect and respond to strongmen in your various Middle Eastern locales.

Crap. "They only understand force" is the excuse of those who wish to use force, the world over. It's been the standard Israeli line on Arabs and Palestinians for forty years now; apparently they don't "understand" force either, since that approach has been singularly ineffective at getting Palestinians to behave the way Israelis would like them to.

Naturally, when you're commanding people to carry out decisions in which they have no say and to do things you want them to do but which they don't want to do, you'll find that force is the only way to get them to do it. If you're the kind of stupid person who gets yourself into that situation, you're likely to decide that "force is the only thing these people respect".

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 19, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

remember the plywood gilders the c/47's towed into normandy in ww2 ? could we have a PBY built of plywood and towed by a c-130 and let GWB LAND IT ON THE RIVER CLOSE TO ANYTHING. ALONG WITH HIS WHITEHOUSE CREW AS BACKUP.

Posted by: BRASS MONKEY on April 19, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

But then of course it is, as always, ALL ABOUT THE REPUBLICANS...

Well, since the Republicans control all three branches of the government then yes, any discussion of what the government should and could do is going to be all about the Republicans. If the Republican White House and the Republican Congress decide to do or not do something, then that's what's gonna happen. If we HAVE to do something about the genocide in Darfur, it's the Republicans Congress which must pass bills to authorize those plans and Bush who must execute them. What part of that is so hard to understand?

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

What's pathetic is democrats/liberals hide from making any kind of a stand on genocide by saying they couldn't do anything about it anyway because republicans are in charge or just obstructing.

Again, Republicans actually are in charge -- or are you aware of some Democrat who has the authority to order US forces into action in Sudan? Is there perhaps some alternate Democratic-controlled Congress that we don't know about that has the right to pass a Darfur relief bill?

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Well, since the Republicans control all three branches of the government then yes, any discussion of what the government should and could do is going to be all about the Republicans.

Geez, more evasion.

If you hope to win votes of any other than the already committed kool-aid drinkers, take a stand. People won't join you if they don't know where you're going. Is that so hard to understand?

Stop hiding behind, "we're not in charge so our opinions don't matter, so I'm not telling you," BS. There was a self-congratulatory thread a week or so back on how effective dems have managed to be in spite of their situation. Can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

What's pathetic is Republicans/Radicals hide from making any kind of a stand on genocide by saying they couldn't do anything about it anyway because Democrats would complain or are just obstructing. Every time the topic comes up it's "well Clinton did something worse" as the extent of the response. What's that mean? Is that your position on it? Is everything you think posed through the mirror of response to Democrats? I think you guys would be utterly lost without the Democrats to provide something for you respond to.

Where is your moral ground?

But then of course it is, as always, ALL ABOUT THE DEMOCRATS...

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK
If we HAVE to do something about the genocide in Darfur, it's the Republicans Congress which must pass bills to authorize those plans and Bush who must execute them. What part of that is so hard to understand?

Some people like the status of being the majority party, but want none of the responsibility.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 19, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, more lack of comprehension.

If you hope to win votes of any other than the already committed kool-aid drinkers, take a stand. People won't join you if they don't know where you're going. Is that so hard to understand?

What's hard to understand is your continued bizarre claim that Democrats haven't taken a stand on these issue. The position is quite clear -- it's the ability to execute it that's lacking. What's so hard to understand about that for you?

Stop hiding behind, "we're not in charge so our opinions don't matter, so I'm not telling you," BS.

Again there's this bizarre claim that the Democrats are not giving their opinions on issues, when at other times the complaint is that Democrats are giving too many opinons and being obstructionist and undermining the president by not quietly supporting him. You can't have it both ways -- though you continue to try.

There was a self-congratulatory thread a week or so back on how effective dems have managed to be in spite of their situation. Can't have it both ways.

You do understand the difference, don't you, between being effective by managing to hamper the governing party's ability to do harm, on one hand, and between actually being able to propose and implement policy of your own against the wishes of that majority, on the other, don't you? Oh, no, you don't? Well, perhaps ponder it for a bit and it might become clearer.

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

If you hope to win votes of any other than the already committed kool-aid drinkers, take a stand.

Why don't you take a stand and explain what should be done before demanding it from others? So far, all we see from you is whining about how your party that's in charge is being held accountable. It's not evasion, it's a simple fact.

The only time you seem to take a stand against genocide is when it's used to justify the Iraq invasion, even though the genocide and violence against ethnic groups in Iraq had already stopped. The Kurds were protected and prospering in their semi-autonomous region.

Posted by: haha on April 19, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK


Stefan
Where is your moral ground?

Can you read? Here's what I wrote just a few posts above yours...

But I thijnk if we know there's genocide going on, we HAVE to do something if we consider ourselves a moral people...As for my question, I have no problem as a military guy heading over to Darfur and laying some smackdown on the Janjaweed. I'd love to. Risk my life for it. Good cause. Same for Iraq. Even if GWB had other reasons for doing it.
Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Remember Trent "I can support the troops without supporting the president" Lott re Clinton?

Any Democrat who said such a thing now would be accused of treason by Coulter and her wingnut ilk.

Posted by: Ringo on April 19, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

haha
The only time you seem to take a stand against genocide is when it's used to justify the Iraq invasion, even though the genocide and violence against ethnic groups in Iraq had already stopped. The Kurds were protected and prospering in their semi-autonomous region.

I guess you can't read either. At least one child got left behind.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

But I thijnk if we know there's genocide going on, we HAVE to do something if we consider ourselves a moral people...As for my question, I have no problem as a military guy heading over to Darfur and laying some smackdown on the Janjaweed.

if you believe that we have an obligation to act unilaterally with our military to stop genocide anywhere in the world, then you have an issue with the current CIC, not with the minority party in congress.
But then, that would mean you'd have to hold Bush accountable, and you appear to be utterly incapable of that.

Posted by: haha on April 19, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Sharpe's right; we should learn from Britain's experience.

First, let's start up the concentration camps, a la South Africa. Oh, wait, we already did that.

Second, let's shoot into unarmed crowds of demonstraters, a la the Paras in Northern Ireland in 1969. Oh, wait, we already did that.

Well, I guess all that leaves Sharpe to complain about is the way we wear our trousers.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on April 19, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I guess you can't read either.

and how many times have you been told that there was no genocide occurring at the time we invaded Iraq?

One child did get left behind. Is you learning?

Posted by: haha on April 19, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Can you read?

Yes, but only very slowly.

Here's what I wrote just a few posts above yours...But I thijnk if we know there's genocide going on, we HAVE to do something if we consider ourselves a moral people...As for my question, I have no problem as a military guy heading over to Darfur and laying some smackdown on the Janjaweed. I'd love to. Risk my life for it. Good cause. Same for Iraq. Even if GWB had other reasons for doing it.

OK, so then why isn't Bush doing this? Why aren't Republicans bellowing loud and long to intervene in Darfur? Where, again, is their moral high ground? If we simply had to invade Iraq in 2003 to stop a genocide that had already happened in 1988, then why don't we simply have to invade Sudan in 2006 to prevent a genocide that's happening now?

Or perhaps the Republican plan is to invade Sudan in 2021, and hold the excuse of the current genocide in reserve to use it then?

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

if you believe that we have an obligation to act unilaterally with our military to stop genocide anywhere in the world, then you have an issue with the current CIC, not with the minority party in congress.
But then, that would mean you'd have to hold Bush accountable, and you appear to be utterly incapable of that.

So your side is powerless?

I had tremendous respect for Rep. Rangel when he protested at the Sudanese embassy (and was arrested for it!) His comment...

I am not doing this for the people of Sudan, Rangel said before officers from the U.S. Secret Service uniformed division handcuffed him and led him to a police van. I am doing this for myself, to be able to say to my children and grandchildren, if they ever ask, What were you doing when this tragedy was happening?"

Your side is NOT powerless. Lead.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

OK, so then why isn't Bush doing this? Why aren't Republicans bellowing loud and long to intervene in Darfur?

Beats me...I'm not a republican. And I am bellowing.

Moooo.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK


red state mike: And in Iraq they are going back for seconds and thirds (reenlisting at 15% above expected rates).


The Army expects to be short 2,500 captains and majors this year, with the number rising to 3,300 in 2007. These officers are the Army's seed corn, the people who 10 years from now should be leading battalions and brigades.

"We're ruining an Army that took us 30 years to build," Republican maverick Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., told a group of reporters at a recent conference. - 4/6/2006

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on April 19, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

At least one child got left behind.

Heh. That was a nice piece of snark. Admit it. I crack myself up.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Your side is NOT powerless. Lead.

Your side is NOT powerless. Order the troops into Sudan now. All it will take is one stroke of the pen by Bush. Lead.

My God, this mewling attempt to excuse Bush's inaction by constantly trying to divert attention to the Democrats would be comical if it weren't so fucking pathetic and sad. "Mommy Mommmy look over there Timmy did something bad too it's not my fault Mommy it's not my fault!"

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Your side is NOT powerless. Lead.

Shorter Red State Mike: it's the Democrats' fault for not forcing us to do the right thing!

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Stefan: I have no opinion because I'm a democrat.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Red State Mike: it's the Democrats' fault for not forcing us to do the right thing!

lol, now that's good snark.

Posted by: haha on April 19, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

bellumregio: "Britons are not standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States. If you travel to Britain and bring up the subject of Iraq you will find Tony Blair and his inner circle stand alone with Mr. Bush and the neocons, and even they have their doubts. ... If you bring up the United States in the Era of Bush eyes roll, even the glazed eyes of the staunchest Tories. Frankly, George Bushs folksy foibles and his inability to articulate anything beyond the crudest jingoism give Britons the impression the United States is governed by a profound idiot whose defining quality is juvenile cunning."

Actually, British and American public opinion on the subject of George W. Bush are remarkably similar -- so in that regard, we are standinng shoulder-to-shoulder in opposition to this revolting aberration of a president. I can assure you that many eyes are rolling on the west side of the Atlantic, as well.

And way out here in Honolulu, arguably now within range of North Korean missiles -- a very real threat to our security that which the Bush administration so blithely ignores -- our eyes are practically popping out of our heads.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 19, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I will say that Mike's repeated demands for Democratic solutions and leadership amounts to an unwitting admission from a "red stater" that Bush is a complete failure as a leader and a president.

The Democrats must lead because Bush can't.

Posted by: haha on April 19, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

speaking of red states....

according to the new surveyusa.com

bush has at least a 50-percent approval rating in just 4-states:

Nebraska, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on April 19, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I will say that Mike's repeated demands for Democratic solutions...

I'm not asking for democratic solutions or opinions. I'm asking for *your* possible solutions or opinions. Where do *you* stand on the issue. Go back and read my questions.

You are the ones hiding behind, "I can't answer because I'm a democrat, and democrats are competely utterly powerless, and therefore our opinions don't matter."

So pretend you're not a democrat and think for yourself for a minute.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

what makes you think this represents a change? That's the way they've felt about us for the last 250 years. since the French and Indian War when they sized George Washington up as a commander and found him seriously wanting.

Posted by: UOPS on April 19, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

We've never had a more experienced military than at the moment.

Really? What about in 1945?

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan
Really? What about in 1945?

I thought about that. But we've a series of military engagements that span more years than even WWII. So our current Colonels and Generals and senior noncoms got experience in GWI and Kosovo, while the rest in this current fight.

We certainly had more in WWII, though, and spread across all services.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I thought about that. But we've a series of military engagements that span more years than even WWII. So our current Colonels and Generals and senior noncoms got experience in GWI and Kosovo, while the rest in this current fight.

More years, but not more depth and breadth. I think six months in France, Holland and Belgium in 1944-1945 gives you a lot more experience than six years in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Moreovoer, the combat in WWII involved every branch of our forces, while the current war is mainly being run on the backs of the Army and Marine Corps, and we were engaged in every possible type of climate, terrain and fighting conditions across the globe, everything from small unit infantry engagements in the South Pacific jungles to North Atlantic sea battles to massed tank formation desert warfare in North Africa to house to house urban combat in Belgium and Germany.

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, combat experience, while necessary, isn't sufficient (as Iraq clearly shows).

Posted by: has407 on April 19, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Stefan: I have no opinion because I'm a democrat.

Yep, that's what I'm known for, lack of opinions....

Posted by: Stefan on April 19, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, the only way to "win hearts and minds" is to set our brigadier generals before the cameras in jodhpurs with swagger sticks.

Posted by: Dabodius on April 19, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

stefan
Yep, that's what I'm known for, lack of opinions....

That, and membership in the swedish mafia and a penchant for fast stolen cars.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 19, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

It is time, fellow liberals, for an about face. Toughness has been given a full trial and found to be disastrous. Toughness alienated our allies, isolated America in the world, got us into an unnecessary war, caused us to spend vast sums chasing the ghosts of international terrorism and is about to lose the Republicans an election. Watching many Democrats trying to put on a cloak stolen from this dying ideology is sickening.

What goes around comes around and peace-and-love is being reborn as a replacement for toughness even as we watch. Maybe its the time of year, and maybe its the time of man, said CSN&Y, in one of the great lines of the 20th century. The new way has no leader yet. Perhaps someone like Obama can step forward and be its spokesman, or maybe no leader is required.

Let us preach international cooperation, respect for all styles and colors of humans, fairness in wages and health care, respect for the environment. You know, love between our brothers and our sisters, all over this land. (And the world, also.)

Nothing could be more clearly and starkly different from Karl Roves next generation of attempts to exploit our fears. Virtually everyone is sick of the old ways. The media will be with us, even the true Christians are about to realize they have been had.

Ill expose myself to ridicule from the tough guys if you will. And if you are smart, you wont stand in the door or block up the hall. Any takers, Dems?

Posted by: James of DC on April 19, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

Why do Republican voters keep asking for the Democratic solutions to Republican problems? Because the Republican leaders don't offer any solutions of their own. All this "what would you do?" is nothing more than fishing for ideas that would work better than the current Republican plan called "let the killing continue until a Democrat is elected; then we can blame the whole thing on him."

Bush planned to get rid of the WMDs in Hussein's hands. Unfortunately that plan was much like one to take common sense away from Red State Mike - you can't take away what doesn't exist.

Posted by: RSM on April 20, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

> Er, Bob...

> Never mind. Life's too short. The cape and boots await.

"Fickt nicht mit dem Raketemensch!"

--Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow," p. 435 Viking edition.

It's actually kind of amusingly appropos if you
know what Tyrone Slothrop is wearing at the time :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 20, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Fickt nicht mit dem Raketemensch!"

Bad German. Should be "Fick nicht mit dem Raketenmensch!" (assuming that "Mensch" is intended to be singular).

"Don't fuck with the rocket man."

Posted by: raj on April 20, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

raj:

Well, it's not a typo; it's consistently Raketemensch throughout the book.

Gravity's Rainbow is notoriously macaronic, with snippets in Old Dutch, Herero, Argentine Spanish, Latin, various German dialects, French, Russian, Polish, the fictional New Turkic Alphabet which the Soviets imposed on Kirghizstan ...

I've heard tell of minor German mistakes from critics ... heh, this may be one of them I guess.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 20, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

Why do Republican voters keep asking for the Democratic solutions to Republican problems?

If you ever hope to win an election, you're going to need "republican" voters. The ones who voted democrat previously but were chased away by your last lousy candidate. And if you hope to capture these "republican" voters, and you think all problems are "republican" problems, then you had best plan on offering "democratic" solutions to them. Else why switch?

Why do democrats exist if not to offer solutions? Or are you just the same power whores that you accuse the republicans of being? Sure sounds that way, RSM.

RSM = just another special interest power whore. But stupider.

Posted by: Red State Mike on April 20, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yea, brown people. We should have just let them die under Saddam, like we did with the Rwandans and are doing with the people of Darfur.

Is that what you are suggesting? - Red State Mike

Mike, you're forgetting New Orleans. Don't forget New Orleans!

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on April 20, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: save on April 21, 2006 at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK

The Brigadier is entitled to his opinion. And his opinion has some merit. But being a general of Americans often requires a loud personality. And communicating violent intent is a necessary ability in an environment where violence is often considered the only legal tender. Another thing worth mentioning is that the Brigadier is gilding the lilly concerning British military tradition. British arms are famous for numerous virtues. But for generalship they lag. America produced more great Generals in its 200 years (or at least not so terribly horrible generals) than Britain did for the past millenia. Dreadful British generalship dragged out the Hundred Years War, botched the Boer War, the Crimean War, the Revolutionary War, their first and second incursions into Afghanistan, ran with the pack in WW I, and was pretty unremarkable in WW II. But for their great generals (Marlborough, Wellington, and Montgomery) appearing at key times and much greater navy they would have lost their sovereignity long ago. As for counter insurgency, Britain practiced it against the Irish for a millenia before discovering decent strategies and tactics. But not before losing the bulk of Ireland in 1921 to Irish revolt. Their great win against the Communists in Malaysia in the '50s did not translate to Northern Ireland.

Posted by: Eric on April 21, 2006 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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