Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 2, 2007

CASEY UP TO BAT.... The New York Times' front-page account of the Bush administration's unraveling policy in Iraq is easily today's must-read, for more reasons than one.

The article, on its face, is fairly devastating. At every key moment in the conflict, the Bush gang has been a couple of steps behind where they should have been. It includes too many familiar phrases, such as administration officials being "taken by surprise" and failing "to take warnings seriously."

That said, Josh Marshall is right to scratch just below the surface of the article, and explain that the article subtly identifies a scapegoat for the White House's problems. It's about playing the blame game, and Gen. George Casey is losing.

According to the White House, the person to blame for Iraq is Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., the top American commander in the country. And Casey's so bad that President Bush is probably going to can him before his current tour concludes this summer. Probably as soon as next month.

In so many words, Casey's policy (which, reading between the lines, it's pretty clear Casey thought was Bush's desired policy) was maintain current troop levels and 'standing down as the Iraqis stand up'. You may have thought that was the Bush policy. But apparently not. "Over the past 12 months," the Times now tells us, "as optimism collided with reality, Mr. Bush increasingly found himself uneasy with General Casey's strategy."

In fact, the Casey policy left the White House so wrong footed that they were "constantly lagging a step or two behind events on the ground."

This isn't entirely new; just two months ago, then-House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said "generals on the ground" were to blame for conditions in Iraq, not Rumsfeld, and certainly not the president.

Still, this New York Times article is a more blatant example of throwing Casey under the bus. From the article: "[A]s Baghdad spun further out of control ... Bush grew concerned that General Casey, among others, had become more fixated on withdrawal than victory."

Ah yes, the subtle smear the White House favors most. Either you're for an ambiguous, impossible-to-define "victory" or you're against it.

But if "Casey's plan" fell out of favor, and there was too much "fixation" on withdrawal, why not overhaul the policy sooner? According to the Times, the White House couldn't -- because there were "political calculations" to worry about.

Many of Mr. Bush's advisers say their timetable for completing an Iraq review had been based in part on a judgment that for Mr. Bush to have voiced doubts about his strategy before the midterm elections in November would have been politically catastrophic.

It's good to know the Bush gang never lost sight of its priorities. Better to worry about a political catastrophe than an actual catastrophe, right?

Steve Benen 5:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (138)

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Comments

Just a question: what if Bush simply intends to surge troop levels until the middle of next year, then withdraw 'em all, cuz it didn't work?

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 2, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

The wheels on the bus go round and round and spit out Generals.Hey, by the way aren't the Generals troops also,So now it's OK to dump on the troops.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 2, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

"The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me as I look back was it was a political war. We had politicians making military decisions, and it is lessons that any president must learn, and that is to the set the goal and the objective and allow the military to come up with the plans to achieve that objective. And those are essential lessons to be learned from the Vietnam War."

GWB 2/8/2004

b.t.w, anyone else hear that Bush is still trying to come up with a plan for all those Escalation troops ?

no? hmm. i guess it was just me, imagining that Bush is making military decisions instead of the military people.

Posted by: cleek on January 2, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

That's correct Reid and Pelosi are not the President and Vice President. So lets look again and the Bush/Cheney plan........................................................................................................................... What do you mean there isn't a plan.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 2, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you have this all wrong. When the only thing you care about is politics, at the expense of policy, then there is nothing worse than a political catastrophe. After all, winning is for winners, but governing is for nerds.

Posted by: CKT on January 2, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Everybody talks and talks and meanwhile the deaths and maimings and destruction continue unabated. Grab yourself a fiddle, put your feet up on a stool and warm them by the fires.

Posted by: steve duncan on January 2, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

None too "subtle" an attempt to blame Casey IMO. But don't worry, he'll get a Medal of Freedom out of it. Remember George Tenet?

In the meantime, I guess we should forget all about how George was going to "listen to the generals" and send them troops "if they ask for them."

And for sure we should forget about General Shinseki, who DID ask for more troops, BEFORE we even invaded, and was promptly undermined and then cashiered.

What's next? Blame the enlisted men and women for a failure to accomplish the objectives of the mission?

There really are no depths to which this administration won't sink.

Posted by: bleh on January 2, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

EXTRA EXTRA read all about it.Preident comes up with plan for Iraq, Shift the Blame. See, Bumper sticker slogan.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 2, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

for Mr. Bush to have voiced doubts about his strategy before the midterm elections in November would have been politically catastrophic.

Yes indeed, as opposed to what actually happened in November. Mission Accomplished!

Posted by: craigie on January 2, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

And The Times inspiration for its story was . . . Karl Rove?

Posted by: richard on January 2, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

The Bushistas are playing a very stupid game that could very well mark their end.

For the past 4 years, the generals have kept their grumbling inside the Pentagon or off the record but if Bush tries to deflect the blame on them (who the hell does he think he's fooling ?), the generals are going to come out and bring all the shit to light, all the screwups, all the insane orders, the torture, giving up on Bin Lean, everything. If they feel threatened, they are going to go for his throat. They are going to blame him for everything (including their own many mistakes). That dude is fucked.

You never fuck with the brass. You never do that. The last one who tried was Joseph McCarthy. Red baiting propelled him all the way up until he started to attack the military. Then, it was over for him. His career was fucked and he died 3 years later.

It takes a very desperate man to do something that stupid (and that's "stupid" by Bush's standards, which means a lot). No fucking way that guy lasts in the WH 'till January 2009.

Posted by: Fifi on January 2, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, The New York Times hasn't been right on anything important for, what, 50 years? 75 years? Since the death of Ochs?

Posted by: buford on January 2, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush doesn't believe he can make a mistake, so if Iraq isn't working, then it's someone else who is at fault. Remember this bushism?

"I'm the commander — see, I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." —as quoted in Bob Woodward's Bush at War

I guess being "commander" only applies to selected situations. The problem Americans have is that this clown actually believes he doesn't have to explain anything to anyone. Let the hearings and education of GWB begin!

Posted by: SouthWest Bob on January 2, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me that Bush did try for quite a while to let the generals determine how to handle the war. But he:
(a) didn't clearly define victory (pace Mr. Benen, it's not undefinable, just undefined by Bush. At least to the public.);
(b) didn't ensure no-one (Rumsfeld? Rove? Cheney?) was giving the generals different instructions off-camera; and
(c) didn't ensure the generals were getting adequate feedback about the Administration's increasing anxiety levels.

Bush's principle failings, in my view, are his limited imagination, his overinflated perception of his own judgment, and his inability to communicate effectively to many people. All three were in play for a-c above. Bush really did stick to his guns for the (in my view correct) principle of minimizing civilian intrusion into military affairs. But he did so without making proper arrangements to give the military proper objectives and proper feedback.

Posted by: Shelby on January 2, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

I see, this article appears in the lie-beral NTY, and some it becomes the "administration" looking for a scapegoat.

The true scapegoat here is the Demo-craps in Congress, who have consistently vascillated and ruminated and wrung their hands over such niceties as "full legal rights for terrorists."

Don't think the terrorists follow this closely. Every chink in the appearance of unity and support of the troops is another victory for the terrorists.

The LIEberals are handing the terrorists vicotry on a platter.

That said, Casey undermined this policy. Remember, Casey first found favor in the Clintonian Bosnia theatre in the 90's.

I tremble for my country.

Posted by: egbert on January 2, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

bleh: for sure we should forget about General Shinseki, who DID ask for more troops, BEFORE we even invaded, and was promptly undermined and then cashiered.

and who, in an NYT op-ed this morning, said he had reconsidered his opposition to gays in the military and now thinks they should be allowed unconditionally. His reasoning is that military people are less freaked out by gays than they were 13 years ago. I think it would have worked in 1993, too, but at least this is a guy who can change his mind on policy when he sees new information. Maybe he would consider coming back and replacing Casey.

Posted by: anandine on January 2, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

The General Staff has buttered up to the Bush Administration from the beginning. Now it's getting its due reward.

Posted by: samuel on January 2, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Operation Blame the Troops will now commence.

Blog accordingly...

Posted by: AkaDad on January 2, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert,
How many times do you have to be told? Or do you think Steve is just Kevin's sockpuppet?

Posted by: Ghost of Tom Joad on January 2, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

anadine,

SHALIKASHVILI wrote today's piece, not Shinseki.

Posted by: Tigershark on January 2, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Bush did accomplish one thing recently - he snuffed the one witness that could have put his dad, his VP, and his former SecDef behind bars for the rest of their pathetic lives. Saddam Hussein.

You'll recall that under Bill Clinton, when dictator Slobodan Milosevic was captured, Clinton turned him over to an international tribunal for trial. Why wasn't that done with Hussein?? Simple - a trial in a truly open court would have exposed the Bush family to embarassing revelations about Bush Sr. being an accessory to the mass murder of the Kurds at Halabja and giving Saddam the green light to invading Kuwait in 1990.

Nasty people, those Bushes...

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 2, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK
General Shinseki....and who, in an NYT op-ed t anandine at 5:32 PM
The op-ed was by John Shalikashvili. Different guy but Shinseki may well agree Posted by: Mike on January 2, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK
In so many words, Casey's policy (which, reading between the lines, it's pretty clear Casey thought was Bush's desired policy) was maintain current troop levels and 'standing down as the Iraqis stand up'. You may have thought that was the Bush policy. But apparently not.

It may not have been the Bush policy, but it is what Bush kept saying was his policy.

But its not surprising that when the policy that Bush so publicly embraced for so long has shown to be an utter failure, Bush blames someone else for it rather than admitting error.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 2, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen quotes: "... for Mr. Bush to have voiced doubts about his strategy before the midterm elections in November would have been politically catastrophic."

It is important to remember that the Bush Administration really has one, and only one, actual project, which is to consolidate all of the income, wealth and power of America -- and as much of the rest of the world's wealth as they can get their hands on through the corrupt misuse of America's military -- in the hands of Bush's already ultra-rich and ultra-powerful cronies and financial backers in the tiny, hereditary, neo-fascist, corporate-feudalist ruling class of the military-industrial-petroleum complex.

Thus their only concern is to ensure that Bush has the "poltical power" to advance that project as far as possible during his time in office, however long or short that time may be.

As it turned out of course the midterm elections in November were a significant setback for them, although probably not a "catastrophe".

The Democrats may enact some measures that the ruling oligarchy -- a.k.a. the "top one percent" a.k.a. "Bush's base" -- won't like, such as raising the minimum wage, making college loans affordable and thus and thus higher education more accessible for ordinary non-rich people, or rolling back a few of the recent, and enormous, tax cuts for the oil industry, but it seems unlikely that the Democrats will do anything really big, like roll back all of the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-rich, or institute single-payer nonprofit universal medical insurance, or impose a carbon tax, or impose aggressive fuel-efficiency standards on cars, etc.

The fact is that the Democratic Party of today is basically a center-right party, which is just as beholden and obsequious to the ultra-rich corporate ruling class as the Republican Party, albeit in a "kinder and gentler" way. They strongly believe that the rest of us should get table scraps from the rich folks' banquet, rather than just the crumbs that fall on the floor.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 2, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

It is about time W. Bush started treating the generals like enlisted men.

Posted by: Brojo on January 2, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I have had Monday 05 February in the "when will Casey get fired?" pool for a month now. (Seriously.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 2, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

In a recent op-ed, General Shalikashvili says:

When I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I supported the current policy because I believed that implementing a change in the rules at that time would have been too burdensome for our troops and commanders. I still believe that to have been true. The concern among many in the military was that given the longstanding view that homosexuality was incompatible with service, letting people who were openly gay serve would lower morale, harm recruitment and undermine unit cohesion. [...]

The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this policy serious reconsideration. Much evidence suggests that it has.

Hear that, Al? We can finally join together in time for the 'surge'!

And I don't just mean the surge in your pants!

Posted by: Al's Gay Lover on January 2, 2007 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

"..become more fixated on withdrawal than victory." Kinda like Hitler and Paulus at Stalingrad...Paulus wanted to survive, Hitler wanted victory at any price.

Posted by: Michael Gardner on January 2, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

it's really great to see that a new year does nothing to improve the thought processes of the likes of egbert, frequency kenneth, and buford.

unable to address any issue on its merits, they continue to treat national security as a playground game.

meanwhile, in terms of the actual article, what i find most fascinating is the notion that bush ordered a policy review in...september. how many people believe that?

as for casey, my attitude is that we have a host of generals who, in theory, seared by the vietnam experience early in their careers, supposedly all believed in the powell doctrine as the way to avoid such disasters in the future.

and yet, when push came to shove, starting with powell, not a one of them, not a single god-damned one, put country above career (you could, i suppose, argue that shineski kind of did, but even he didn't resign in disgust). it's not fair to make casey the scapegoat, but casey and his fellow generals are all guilty of letting down their country and their troops by enabling the boy king instead of resigning on principle and letting it be known.

so if casey is about to get smeared by the thugs around bush, i feel badly for him individually, but not so badly as to really care: the cost in blood and treasure of his enabling is much too high....

Posted by: howard on January 2, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

SouthWest Bob: "I'm the commander — see, I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." —as quoted in Bob Woodward's Bush at War

"I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things." - GWB 6/4/03


"One thing I won't do is get in the way." - GWB 9/23/05 (specifically Katrina)


Posted by: mr. irony on January 2, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Steve - glad you appreciated portions of this article, but check out Brad DeLong who is opining that the authors let the White House hit job on Casey go untouched.

Posted by: pgl on January 2, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

No one could have anticipated any of this.

Posted by: ConDee on January 2, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

The real devastating irony here is that "Casey's" strategy, with a few tweaks around the edges, is the only sane one left for the US -- everything else is an open-ended military committment to "victory" (what?), which is the true prescription for abject failure.

"Casey's" strategy also maps cogently onto the recommendations of the ISG, as outlined by the Times piece. And I think its general thrust is still supported by the majority of the brass, because its backbone is putting the Iraqis in charge of their own country, based on the thoroughly sane, reality-based assessment that the American military can't solve Iraq's problems.

I think if you scratch just a little harder below the surface here, what's *really* being thrown under the bus are the core recommendations of the ISG -- especially by planting the outrageous meme that Casey was "more fixated on withdrawal than victory."

Now of course something *did* go horribly wrong here vis a vis the "Casey"/Bush strategy: The ISF didn't/couldn't "stand up" in the numbers and competency necessary to hand over the security mission -- which of course produced last year's volte face on beefing up a US presence in Baghdad. But that's not a flaw of the underlying strategic thinking; more like death by a thousand tactical cuts.

All other roads lead straight back to "stay the course" -- the current flavor du jour being the idotic proposal for a "surge" in US troops.

In any case, it's a case of twisting the ultimate reality-based assessment -- that our troops cannot by definition win a war for the nation of Iraq -- into a *denial* of that very reality.

The issue here is hardly that Casey didn't acknowedge how badly the ISF were performing. The responsibility for *that* denial is Bush's and Bush's alone.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Finally some accountability, or is it? Did Casey overrule the civilian leadership and impose this strategy?

Or is this a way of announcing that Casey has earned the Medal of Freedom?

Posted by: Cycldoc on January 2, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

...what if Bush simply intends to surge troop levels until the middle of next year, then withdraw 'em all, cuz it didn't work?
Posted by: theAmericanist on January 2, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is; what lame-ass excuse will he use when it becomes obvious this is the case?

I tremble for Casey's hapless replacement.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 2, 2007 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

I tremble for Casey's hapless replacement.

That might be a tough billet to fill these days.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 2, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed, the war-mongering Republican administration "failed to take seriously, including from the Baghdad ambassador, warnings that the sectarian violence could rip the country apart..."

Just like they ignored intelligence warnings of the September 11th attacks, and sought to avoid accountiblity by the very citizens they failed to serve and protect by blatantly obstructing investigations into 9/11. Yet another accountibility moment for this administration.

With incompetence rewarded and intelligence simply ignored or derided, their overly optimistic views of progress in Iraq all year amount to more inexact conclusions, i.e. lies.

Recall Cheney in his Defense Policy Guideline Report from 1992 -- "Our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the (Middle East) region and preserve US and Western access to the region's oil."
Does Halliburton also have the contract for designing adaptive equipment and prostheses for severely injured soldiers? I am beyond cynical at this point.

More soldiers died so Republicans could hold the House and the Senate in the 2006 mid-term elections? This admission is an impeachable offense and a huge scandal for the Republican administration.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 2, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Can the President trust his commanders on the ground to tell him what is necessary? That's really one of the questions.

In other words, if you say, I'm going to rely upon their judgment, the next question is, how good is their judgment; or is my judgment good enough to figure out whether or not they know what they're doing? And I'm going to tell you I've got great confidence in General John Abizaid and General George Casey. These are extraordinary men who understand the difficulties of the task, and understand there is a delicate relationship between self-sufficiency on the Iraqis' part, and U.S. presence.

http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/electioncentral/2007/jan/02/flashback_bush_repeatedly_gushed_with_praise_over_general_casey

Posted by: George W. Bush on January 2, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bush & Cheney:

Egg-fucken-zakley.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Can the Emperor trust his apprentice on the ground to tell him what is necessary? That's really one of the questions.

In other words, if you say, I'm going to rely upon their judgment, the next question is, how good is their judgment; or is my judgment good enough to figure out whether or not they know what they're doing? Or should I just use the Force to find out what I need to know? And I'm going to tell you I've got great confidence in Lord Vader. Lord Vader is an extraordinary Sith who understand the difficulties of the task, and understand that fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this Battle Station, which is now the ultimate power in the universe.

I think Lord Vader gives it to us straight in terms of what he thinks he needs...I'll give him whatever resources he thinks he needs. And my experience with Lord Vader is he's a first class Sith, and he tells us what he wants.... or I'll simply find out by using the Force. I spent some time as President of the Old Republic myself. The men that we've got serving at the upper levels of the Imperial military today I think are some absolutely outstanding individuals. If they screw up, they know I'll just send Vader to crush their windpipe. Lord Vader sort of has the lead responsibilities in Crushing the Rebellion and for that reason -- is an outstanding Sith. He knows the rebels very well. Vader can use the Force, or sneaky strategems to lure them into revealing the location of their hidden rebel bases. He is, I think, a very good advisor to the Emperor, and he's the guy on the ground who has to, in fact, execute on the policy. With a Lightsaber.

Posted by: Emperor Palpatine on January 2, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

"I tremble for Casey's hapless replacement." - Extradite


Suck it up extradite. Thankfully there's better men on this planet than you.

Posted by: Jay on January 2, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

what i find most fascinating is the notion that bush ordered a policy review in...september. how many people believe that?

Not. For. A. Second.

Actually, I'm pretty amazed that given the numerous times the White House has demonized and trashed the NYT, the Times always seems to be standing ready when there's history to be re-written.

Posted by: Stranger on January 2, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the central issue here is that Casey and Bush have two entirely different sets of priorities. Casey's strategy is that training the ISF -- no matter how difficult, no matter how many setbacks in the short term -- is simply the *only* correct thing to do in Iraq, based on what's best both for the idea of Iraqi nationhood and the US military. That assumption is as correct today as it was a year ago -- no matter how practically difficult it's been to implement. Going backwards into what has407 has called "do over" mode with more US troops is only going to prolong the inevitable recokning.

Bush translates it on the stump to "as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down." That's the "strategy" he can present to the American people to make it look as if he's got a clue.

Then what happens? Training the ISF becomes apparent to all honest observers that it's a much harder, much more long-term task than initially envisioned -- especially after the Samarra mosque bombing: the Sunni insurgency morphs into cross-sectarian vengance killings.
The ISF, the Interior Ministry, are complicit in the atrocities.

Does this change the fundamental truth of the so-called Casey strategy? Quite the contrary -- it only makes proper training of the ISF that much more imperative, even if it means a short-term increase in US troops to get the violence under control in the capital city.

But meanwhile, it makes Bush look like a *stone-idiot* on the stump. Train the ISF? In what -- more effective use of Craftsman cordless drills on human skulls?

So because Bush uses "Iraqis stand up / we'll stand down" on the stump much longer than its shelf life (many months past the Samarra bombing), when it appears contradicted by US troop movement into Baghdad -- Bush decided to blame this on the general in charge.

The general in charge, btw, who never gave an overly optimistic assessment of ISF training progress, which Bush might plausibly (if lamely) use as an excuse for his pollyanna political rhetoric.

Like ER, I pity the poor boob they get to fill Casey's boots while we're "surging" to yet more abject failure.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Something is seriously wrong with this story.

General Casey devises a plan that depends on Iraqi forces that are either A) non-existent or B) incapable of the mission.

Somewhere along the chain of command, there has to have been an intelligence analysis of Iraqi force availability and capability.

Did Casey get bad intelligence? Did Casey get good intelligence but ignore it? How could they have been so wrong about the Iraqis that they made them a keystone part of the plan.


Version B- Casey was told to clean out the insurgents and then try out the Iraqis to see what they could do? no matter what intelligence was telling him? So he tries anyway hoping he might have a pony? No pony, so they tried to backfill by pulling in troops from other parts of Iraq?

Version C- Given the constraints of no more troops to be had and a desire to try a new tactic of cleaning out insurgents and providing security for a change, the only way to get the numbers was to hope that Green, poorly trained, untested Iraqis would learn fast enough?

It was never very likely to work but was the best option that Bush would approve at the time??

There is some combination of bad intelligence/bad planning in the latest fiasco.

Posted by: bakho on January 2, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Suck it up extradite. Thankfully there's better men on this planet than you.
Posted by: Jay on January 2, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Like you.

Only, it doesn't bother me that you're better than me at being a fucking moron.

Train the ISF? In what -- more effective use of Craftsman cordless drills on human skulls?Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Well, you see, they already covered that - that's why Negroponte was sent there before his National Intelligence czar gig. Because it worked so well in Nicaragua. (Given Ortega's recent election).

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 2, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

It seems significant that Bush 41's grandparents were heavy participants in military contracting/war finance during the first world war. And Bush 41's father as a US Senator got the ball rolling for Halliburton profiteers. Bush head of the the CIA, then as Bush 41, has his war in the middle east in the 90's. Cheney being CEO of Halliburton prior to his vice presidency with Bush 43. And they are both involved in a war in the middle east in this century.
Read: The House Of Bush by Eric Bates,issue 940,1/22/04 rollingstone.com

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 2, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency Kenneth: "OK, Steve, maybe it's time to take a second look at the Pelosi/Reid Plan. Oh, I forgot. There isn't a Pelosi/Reid Plan."

"It’s long past time to heed the calls of Congressman Murtha and redeploy our troops over the horizon in a time frame and manner that addresses their safety." -- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (March 16, 2006)

"My position on Iraq is simple:
1. I believe we should start redeploying troops in 4 to 6 months (The Levin-Reed Plan) and complete the withdrawal of combat forces by the first quarter of 2008. (As laid out by the Iraq Study Group)
2. The President must understand that there can only be a political solution in Iraq, and he must end our nation's open-ended military commitment to that country.
3. These priorities need to be coupled with a renewed diplomatic effort and regional strategy.
I do not support an escalation of the conflict. I support finding a way to bring our troops home and would look at any plan that gave a roadmap to this goal." -- Sen. Harry Reid (December 19, 2006)

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 2, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

cwa;
Never mind the fact that bin Laden's dad was also on the board of the Carlyle Group, and that the bin Laden group is also a major construction concern (made their fortune building grand palaces for the HoS), and the two families have close ties via common oil business dating back to Arbusto.

Yeah - that smell you smell isn't the local fishing boats coming in to port.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 2, 2007 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: "Thankfully there's better men on this planet than you."

That's exactly what the electorate said to the Republicans on November 7, 2006.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 2, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

bakho:

A combination of B and C, I think.

I've seen no reason to seriously doubt Casey's judgment as a general. Maybe some exists somewhere, but until I see it, I'm going to take what I've read of his assessments at his word. I don't think the problem was bad intelligence, but rather this:

Generals are given a mission and think about it practical terms. If that means making lemonade out of months-old, rotten, squashed lemons, that's what they try to do. And in this case, all the more imperatively, because no sane observer believes that the US military should provide security to Iraq forever. Training the ISF -- no matter how much they suck, no matter how green they are -- is simply *not* an option.

Politicians, OTOH, think normatively. About what *should* happen. They're responsible for evaluating the plans presented by their military advisors and deciding which strategy is the most effective. And so what Bush did here is of a piece with what he did with the prewar WMD intelligence. He tweaked and selectively read all the assessments of the state of the ISF until he could massage it into something that would support the "we'll stand down as they stand up" message he would sell to the American people.

And that's why Abazaid had to go before the Congress at the end of the summer and stone-facedly tell the American public the straight poop.

Whosever problem this is, it's decidedly not the generals' on the ground IMHO.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Those ideas aren't plans, Donald from Hawaii, because they don't use the word Victory.

Posted by: Dub on January 2, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's never George's fault
It's never George's fault
No matter what happens
It's never George's fault

Posted by: Thlayli on January 2, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hey - the sock-pupper loser is back! What's up Kenneth? Havlicek and Frazier gonna be around? Loser.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 2, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

And Frequently Kennel-dog just gets the usual credit for being a wingnut troll existing in an argument-free zone.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency Kenneth.
Grasping at straws again.
What a fart smeller.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 2, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

This is the essence of the vaunted Bush "loyalty". The moment anyone becomes inconvenient, he's tossed aside -- though if The Family can get a little more use out of him by making him a scapegoat, they'll leap on the opportunity. The Bush family is a cancer.

Posted by: sglover on January 2, 2007 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

What's the frequency kenneth? There is always an annoying troll at PA. We feed them too. You can hardly help it, with their inane, distracting commentary.

Posted by: consider wisely on January 2, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Frequency Kenneth:

[with his fingers stuck in his ears...]

"NAHNAHNAHNAHNAH I CAN'T HEAR YOU! NANANANANANH!! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!! NANHNAHNAH!!!!"

Posted by: D. on January 2, 2007 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

huhuhuhuh ... huhuhuh ... he said "withdrawl," Beavis ... huhuhuhuh ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Dub: "Those ideas aren't plans, Donald from Hawaii, because they don't use the word Victory."

Rumor has it that President Bush had a revelation last night, and now wants to replace Gen. Casey with Boise State's football coach, Chris Peterson.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 2, 2007 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Keith Olbermann is speaking of the Casey matter on MSNBC now, i.e., Bush views most of his problems in terms of public relations.

Posted by: consider wisely on January 2, 2007 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

consider wisely:

'Zakley.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

That "zakley" is cute!

Posted by: consider wisely on January 2, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

3003

Posted by: R.L. on January 2, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

That is the tragedy--real lives snuffed out forever.

Posted by: consider wisely on January 2, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

consider wisely:

Wouldn't The Zaklies be a great name for a cover band of nerdy, early-80s new wave? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

rnck1: Absolutely. Good call

Posted by: consider wisely on January 2, 2007 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Bush epiphany:

"I wanted sycophants but all I got was dead wood."

Posted by: obscure on January 2, 2007 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

consider wisely:

Of course you prolly don't wanna know where that expression came from, at least in my family (but wot the 'ell, I'll share it anyway).

It was my dad's rather sexist mid-70s expression for an incompetent driver.

"Jeez, that guy's got a real case of the zaklies."

I'll let you, umm, infer the rest ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

How do you ask a soldier to be the last person to die for Bush's public relations?

Posted by: consider wisely on January 2, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: we posted at the same time almost! I never got a chance to tell you--your posts are always thoughtful ones. You're one of my favorites

Posted by: consider wisely on January 2, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

consider:

Oh, well thanks. I enjoy yours a lot as well.

But don't go saying stuff like that too often -- or else the trolls will start calling you my sock puppet :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't entirely new;

Should say, "This isn't entirely true", because IF Bush fires Gen. George Casey, blame will only fall on Bush. The firing Rummy and then the firing of the General will only reflect on how badly Bush is running around, trying hard to find a scapegoat. Bush is the DECIDER and Casey merely the stupid "yes-man", every American knows that fact.

Anyways, as I was watching PBS Newshour tonight, I noticed David Brooks was fairly spitting at Pelosi and her new role. Someone should ask David "why he hates Nancy so much".

And Mark Shields, stupid moron that he is, says Nancy can save Bush, but frankly, that just setting Nancy up for failure since it is quite clear Bush can't work with anyone, hell Bush can't even work with James Baker and other conservative so how is Nancy going to work with Bush. She can't, nobody can. This why Nancy should not have talked about impeachment being "off the table" since it's clear Bush has no intention of working with anyone in congress. The more push comes to shove, the nasty Bush will get.

This will give cause for Republicans to declare that Nancy is partisan since Bush won't do a damn thing she ask no matter how may she tried to work with Bush.

Nancy will either effect change or she will not, but merely give in and wait out the next two years with a worthless track record while being label a partisan by 2008.

Impeaching Bush will be the ONLY option in the end. There is no doubt in my mind, that Bush is completely incapable of cooperating, he will only desist and become an even ugly person than he is now.

So I wonder, will Nancy crack Bush, because Bush hates it when people point out his lies. It wouldn't take too much for people to see really the truely nasty side of Bush on national TV. The side that hides right behind Bush cheap talk about GOD.

Posted by: Cheryl on January 2, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Time for another spin of "the buck stops here." Casey. Liberals. Hillary. Big Dawg. Media. Evil-doers. New Orleans Mayor. France. The Poor. Bad Intelligence.

I saw a political cartoon on blah.3.com a year ago or so, with Dubya sitting at his desk, reaching up to spin the wheel of a big board blame game, with the arrow saying "the buck stops here." thought I'd add Casey's name....latest way to spin Dubya's current problems.

Posted by: consider wisely on January 2, 2007 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK
Better to worry about a political catastrophe than an actual catastrophe, right?

From the NYT: Mr. Bush still insists on talking about victory, even if his own advisers differ about how to define it. “It’s a word the American people understand,” he told members of the Iraq Study Group who came to see him at the White House in November, according to two commission members who attended. “And if I start to change it, it will look like I’m beginning to change my policy.”

Posted by: Alfred E. Newman on January 2, 2007 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

bakho -- I think parts of everything you describe were involved. However, there's a more fundamental disconnect, as illustrated by the following quotes:

  • Marine Lt. Gen. James Mattis: “The military has one duty in a situation like this, and that is to provide security for the indigenous people. It’s the windbreak behind which everything else can happen.”

  • President Bush: “The principal task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists, and that is why we are on the offense.”
Or, as Kenneth Pollack stated:
Our efforts to “take the fight to the enemy” and mount offensive sweep operations designed to kill insurgents and eliminate their strongholds have failed to eradicate the insurgency so far, and likely will continue to do so, as was the case in Vietnam and other lost guerrilla wars. Moreover, by emphasizing offensive operations we have also committed the cardinal sin of stability operations—ceding control over much of the population to militias and other forces of anarchy.


p.s. Pollack was principal author of a report issued last February A Switch in Time: A New Strategy for America in Iraq. (I think Kevin posted about it, specifically in reference to Pollacks ressurection of the "ink spot" strategy.) Interestingly, he was also at an AEI event earlier this month to discuss Kagan's "surge" proposal (see here; strange bedfellows, it would appear).

Posted by: has407 on January 2, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

There is always an annoying troll at PA. We feed them too. You can hardly help it, with their inane, distracting commentary.

I know, and I get so tired of having to deal with them. They attach themselves to you and follow you around, nipping at your heels and driving you batty. It's best to just ignore them and hope that some intrepid young poster will come along and beat them senseless with a string of profanities.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 2, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hey - the sock-pupper loser is back! What's up Kenneth? Havlicek and Frazier gonna be around? Loser.
Posted by: Global Citizen on January 2, 2007 at 7:49 PM

Frequency Kenneth.
Grasping at straws again.
What a fart smeller.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 2, 2007 at 7:55 PM

Sockpuppet trainee.
Can't handle real boxing gloves.
Bam! Down goes Frazier.

Up pops another,
Havlicek stole the ball 'cause
FK lacks a pair.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 2, 2007 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

has407:

And the dissonance between Lt. Gen. Mattis' comments and Bush's reveals the essential conundrum of training the ISF: Do we want them to be a primarily defensive, protection force (to allow our military to go out and do the heavy lifting against insurgents) or do we want them to become essentially the Iraqi arm of the US military?

My guess would be that Bush hasn't the tiniest clue of the difference between these two vastly different missions.

Hint to Bush: It's a helluva lot easier to instill loyalty in the idea of a supra-sectarian Iraqi nation while training for the former rather than the latter.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen,

I'm confused as to the trool's cast of characters. Were you speaking about Incontinent Kenneth? Discharging waste products with frequency?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 2, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

You know, you liberals were AGAINST General Casey before you were FOR General Casey.

Pick a surrender monkey and hitch your wagon to him or her; at least be consistent when you find someone who is a perfect foil to reinforce your own derangement against the President.

I mean, the only military men you are FOR are the ones who say something AGAINST the President and you don't seem to be ready to admit that there might be a militarial feasible answer that lies somewhere between the two black and white, yes or no, up or down answers. Either you want it to be an answer that destroys the policy or an answer that does not destroy the policy becomes something for you to attack.

Fortunately, we have never fought wars based on public opinion polls--at least the ones we have won, anyway.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I have to submit a new E-mail address--please, moderator, take note: while you all seem to allow everyone to spoof me, I have had to set up a new E-mail address to ensure that my many fans will have the opportunity to speak to me privately.

NRogers_Princeton65@hotmail.com is a working E-mail address and I am beginning to think that if I set up my own blog and charged liberals $29.99 per year to read it, it might become a new phenomenon.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, just 8.2 cents a day - Did not know baloney was that cheap - Nor hot air.

Or I could send away for a Bass-o-matic at only $29.95.

Posted by: stupid git on January 3, 2007 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

You could have the best generals in history on the ground and Iraq would still fail. The reason is, no matter how much progress we make while we're in there, Iraq will fall into civil war right after we pull out. No amount of military force can make the Sunnis and Shiites, who have hated and killed each other for a thousand years, set down their guns and start acting like a bunch of Mahatma Gandhis.

Bush, however, will never realize this, because if he did, he would have to realize he made a mistake that has costed hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money and the lives of three thousand American heroes. Bush has never had to confront the fact that he has made a mistake in his life; whenever he would fail at something, such as running an oil company, those around him would simply kiss his ass and tell him it wasn't his fault. After all, doing so is a good way to keep Junior's friendship and, as a result, get closer to George H.W. Bush. Bush has never been confronted by the realization that he has made mistakes throughout his life; he will never realize that invading Iraq was a mistake.

As a result, we will, unless the Democrats exercise their Constitutional authority as leaders of Congress, see a troop escalation (not a surge, as it has been called). Our troops will probably not leave Iraq when Bush leaves office, undoubtedly believing he is Harry Truman. What to do about Iraq will be left to the next President, and blame for inevitable defeat in Iraq will probably be forced on the next President as well.

Posted by: brian on January 3, 2007 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

has407- Fundamental disconnect is a nice way to put it.

Who does Bush have advising him that has military experience other than the JCS? The GOP leadership since Ike is not exactly known for military service.

After "mission accomplished", Iraq war became Iraq occupation. We seem to still be using mlitary tactics in a police situation. It won't work. We don't have near enough troops trained for police work and we don't speak the language, a critical part of any police. Imagine if our cities had no police, only army? How well would that work? Duh. What is wrong with these people?

This is the fault of the politicians, not the army. The politicians are asking our army to do missions our army is not designed to do without proper staffing or proper equipment. Worse for all of us is they don't want to listen.

Posted by: bakho on January 3, 2007 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

bakho,

The JCS do not advise the President - Under the reorganization in 86 by the Goldwater-Nichols Act, the advice was split between the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - However, Rumsfeld cut the "and" portion - Only the SecDef advises the President - Perhaps Gate will restore the "and" - Stay tuned.

Rumsfeld said that he changed this wording of the act because he was concerned that there should be more civilian control over the military.

Gen Casey was on a direct path to become Chief of Staff of the US Army - He now is on a direct path to an exclusive country club.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 3, 2007 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Norman":

I really shouldn't bother responding to you because you're not posting here in good faith, but I want to address your point. There is a small fraction of the left who are pacifist and philosophically anti-military. These are the folks who protested against our invasion of Afghanistan and in '04 they made up Dennis Kucinich's core support -- but not Howard Dean's. There are one or two voices here who represent that viewpoint, but hardly more.

The vast majority of objectors to Bush on Iraq are not knee-jerk anti-military. These people run the ideological gamut, in fact, from isolationist libertarians and Republican realists all the way to hardcore peaceniks; there are a lot more of the former than there are of the latter. The left avoided its signal mistake in Vietnam -- much to its credit -- by objecting to Bush's war without demonizing the troops or even the top brass. The military has a job to do.

So we on the left take the generals on a case-by-case basis. In the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, it was obvious to most that Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski was railroaded out of command for speaking the truth. But when the three-star Ricardo Sanchez was shunted off his career path because Abu Ghraib happened on his watch, nobody on the left objected.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

I really shouldn't bother responding to you because you're not posting here in good faith, but I want to address your point. There is a small fraction of the left who are pacifist and philosophically anti-military.

Virulent hate for the military has crippled the Democrat party for decades and consigned you to electoral hell. Thank you for acknowledging it. Rarely does a liberal air their dirty laundry in public; I commend you.

These are the folks who protested against our invasion of Afghanistan and in '04 they made up Dennis Kucinich's core support -- but not Howard Dean's. There are one or two voices here who represent that viewpoint, but hardly more.

Dennis Kucinich? Core support? That's hilarious! The man rarely found himself with more than a handful of supporters, few of which could speak clearly to the dangers facing this nation!

When you put on your own personal surrender monkey costume, do you have plastic poo to fling about the premises?

Liberals--always eager to tell you exactly why they are wrong for America!

I'll deal with your other comments later--I must pause and wipe tears of laughter from my eyes at your wooly-headed analysis. What the deuce is wrong with you sir? No real effort to try to win a debate anymore? Has the New Year left you without your faculties?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

"Norman":

As I say, you're not posting here in good faith. And I'm going to speak the truth about it despite the risk of being moderated. You're not a parody, "Norman" (Al's Mommy is a parody). If you were, you'd play the grandiosity for yucks. Instead, you argue without substance; the grandiose personal putdowns are the *only* things in your posts you mean seriously. That's something a little darker and, IMHO, more destructive than mere mockery of a conservative persona.

Case in point: The Democrats didn't just squeak by in November, they produced a seismic realignment in both houses of Congress. And they did it with candidates like Webb, Tester, Heath Schuler and others who, despite their adamant positions against the war, don't exactly fit the hippie peacenik stereotype.

Mocking the anti-military New Left of 40 years ago was amusing when you first started in on it. I'll confess that the Altamont reference made me laugh out loud -- and kudos for that. But it's since become a tired schtick, and needless to say leads to nothing resembling a reasonble or substantive argument.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,
You are beeing too logical and kind with an emotional ideologue whose very soul, his very sense of self would crumble into a million little pieces if he had to see the world as it is rather than as his ideology tells him too. He can't live without his good and evil, his love and hate. He is like an old school SA street fighter or a naive RAF member, he only understands the world through a polluted ideological filter. It's all facts in, garbage out with Norman. And to top it off I believe he is either a highly respected right wing professor or the graduate student of the same. Such is the power of piss poor ideas, ask the Russians, they lived through it and now we too must live through this ideological idiocy that calls itself "conservatism" but is anything but.

I mean, the only military men you are FOR are the ones who say something AGAINST the President and you don't seem to be ready to admit that there might be a militarial feasible answer that lies somewhere between the two black and white, yes or no, up or down answers. Either you want it to be an answer that destroys the policy or an answer that does not destroy the policy becomes something for you to attack.

Red Herring. Liberal opinion on individual generals is besides the point. You throw character assasination at us by calling us anti military which besides being false has deep dark irony as the Iraq War, that 'glorious' conservative republican enterprise for 'freedom', is grinding up and degrading the American Army a little more every day. The real issue is the War in Iraq and the fact that it is a complete strategic catastroph for the USA and her armed forces. But you can't deal with that, so you have to accuse us of having bad faith for not 'compromising' with you in between withdrawl and escalation. Well guess what, on some problems you can't fudge. You can't be a little pregnant. You can't be 1/2 slave and 1/2 free. Sometimes you gotta make a choice. So quit equivocating and defend your choice instead of attacking who we are and what you think our intentions are, which frankly are irrelevant to the facts on the ground. The issue is Iraq and choosing the best next step for America. We have a plan. We made a choice. You can't deal with it. Liberals who don't bend and cowar behind your typical conservative verbal shit storm. Too bad Norm, your Gods are false and their days are numbered.

Fortunately, we have never fought wars based on public opinion polls--at least the ones we have won, anyway.

It's all about necessity and honour. When America fights wars of necessity with honor, there is no sacrifice too great. When America fights wars of choice with dishonesty there are no acceptable casualties.
Conservative ideologues have broken the sacred trust between the President and the people, repeatly, by involving the United States in decietful wars of choice. The result is a suspicious and resentlful public. The Pentagon vowed never to repeat the lie that was Vietnam again and the conservative ideologues forced them to break their oaths to We the People. The American military will never trust conservatives and the Republican Party again. The GOP-Pentagon romance (typified by Patton, Ike and General MacArthur) is over Norm. Democrats are the good guys, Republicans are the sons of bitches. Come on over Norm, do a David Brock, reject darkness and embrace the light. We may be liberals but we do believe in redemption.

Posted by: Nemesis on January 3, 2007 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Nemesis:

Actually, I think you're wrong about ol' "Norman" here. It's my view (and the view of a substantial number of others here) that "Norman" is actually a fairly well-respected lefty Political Animal poster, so obviously "Norman" doesn't believe a word of what he writes -- the reason his arguments are so substanceless and cliche-driven.

"Norman" isn't, though, a typical parodist like the fake Als and the fake egberts, producing one-off reductio ad absurdums on conservative jerks. "Norman's" intent, rather, is to suck thoughtful liberals like yourself into writing long posts refuting his "arguments" so he can pat himself on the back for being such a skillful textual chamelion.

Some people admire this and cheer "Norman" on. I personally find it distasteful, and so I like to blow the whistle on it.

YMMV, of course.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Just what we need more immigrants. Except that some of these immigrants may have grudges (accidents of war) or become future victims of Rep Goode style anti-Muslim rhetoric. Anybody remember how the South Malaccans "repaid" the Dutch for their "hospitality" after the South Malaccans were forced to flee their homeland after backing (& fighting for) the "wrong horse" in Indonesia's "war of independence"?

Posted by: Ray Waldren on January 3, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Ray Waldren:

Well, this is one of the great downsides of being a former imperial power: You have an obligation to resettle former subjects from countries who hated you while you ruled them. One of the reasons there's a huge problem of unassimilated Muslims in Western Europe and virtually none in the US (aside from the mere population density difference) is precisely for this reason.

As the US increasingly takes on the trappings of de-facto imperialism, as the occupation of Iraq continues to stretch on, then this issue will increase accordingly.

Note that in moral terms, this doesn't change our obligation to displaced Iraqis anymore than it did for Britain regarding Pakistanis.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

The twin pillars of the coming Bush approach to Iraq appear to be a "surge" in U.S. force levels combined with the sacking of the generals opposed to it.

For more, see:
"Surge and Purge: The Bush Strategy for Iraq."

Posted by: AngryOne on January 3, 2007 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

I love the fact that Bush would rather save face - "And if I start to change it, it will look like I’m beginning to change my policy” - rather than change his strategy. It's the equivalent of a football coach whose team is down 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter sticking to the run because "that's my game plan."

Good grief.

Posted by: ny patriot on January 3, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

OK, Steve, maybe it's time to take a second look at the Pelosi/Reid Plan. Oh, I forgot. There isn't a Pelosi/Reid Plan.

No, wrong again, but you are too stupid to realize it. There is a Democratic plan, with some details not yet finalized.

1) Withdraw troops.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 3, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1, Nemesister:

"Norman's" intent, rather, is to suck thoughtful liberals like yourself into writing long posts refuting his "arguments" so he can pat himself on the back for being such a skillful textual chamelion.

The word is chameleon, son, and no, I am no parody. YOU are a parody of an anti-war lefty. No sane person would cite "Dennis Kucinich" on a blog thread discussion and emerge unscathed. Merely citing the name of the Left's most unhinged loser is enough to warrant a chuckle.

"Blow the whistle" means you actually have to have the whistle in hand, and no, you have no whistle, nothing other than your own instincts, which are dead wrong.

Were I indeed a parody, my posts would be deleted--haven't you been paying attention?

And you liberals love me; I say things you would not normally get to say and I give you a reason to post. My initial point that the only military men you liberals listen to are the ones who are AGAINST George W Bush is well made and well intact; pity you have no rejoinder for it.

But allow me one final observation--anyone who can oppose you at length and with substance and with any kind of intellectual heft MUST be a parody because of your own preconception that all conservative/wingnut/Republican trolls MUST be less intelligent than yourselves.

I'm sitting in a four million dollar home, comfortably retired with a few business interests here and there, safely provided for and without a care in the world--and you have what? What do you have in this world, other than your own bias and your own cloying, pathetic need to pronounce everyone with whom you cross paths with a fraud and an inferior to yourselves--and WHAT do you have? You have nothing! I have been posting here for years--what do you have to show for it? You know, I am a bit of a fan of Mr. Drum, very sensible at times when he calls out the lefty fringe. A welcome diversion this is for me, and a reinforcer of my own belief that the majority of liberals are more fascist than anything else.

Certainly not proof or evidence of anything other than your own silliness, I might add...

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Final hilarity, rmck1:

Well, this is one of the great downsides of being a former imperial power: You have an obligation to resettle former subjects from countries who hated you while you ruled them.

Sorry, son. The US of A has not been an "Imperial Power" since the days of Teddy Roosevelt and the Great White Fleet.

Pity you know everything about "parodies" and nothing about this great Republic of ours.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

I am beginning to think that if I set up my own blog and charged liberals $29.99 per year to read it, it might become a new phenomenon.

This made me laugh immoderately. Hell, I'd pay 30 bones if I didn't think I could manage to wangle a discount somehow. But Paolo's Bass-o-matic sounds pretty good, too.

Posted by: shortstop on January 3, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, I'd pay 30 bones if I didn't think I could manage to wangle a discount somehow.

No, it would have to be cash. I realize you liberals do everything with the barter system, but I'm not accepting chickens or goats in lieu of payment. I am a businessman, and when I separate you from your cash, I can assure you, you will STAY separated from your cash and I will hang on to it.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Norman":

You read neither my Kucinich nor my imperial power references -- intentionally, I'd surmise -- in context. In both cases I've said it once, and that's quite enough for me.

As for generals -- once again (sigh), Ricardo Sanchez was shunted aside from a CentCom command after Abu Ghraib. Since he was the three-star in charge of Iraq at the time -- no lefty commentary of which I'm aware called the move scapegoating by the administration.

As for everything else -- more ad-hom bloviation.

Finally -- you're not being deleted because you're not posting under another identity with the same IP. The mods obviously can't determine whether or not you're whipping up a fake persona. I could lie to everybody and pretend to have experienced a conversion to rock-ribbed Republicanism, completely contradicting all my previous posts. As long as I did it with a consistent IP, it'd be my sovereign right.

Retarded and transparent, maybe -- but no cause for moderation on those grounds alone.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Blah blah I'm a Republican Blah Blah!

Oh, look! My butt's on fire! Blah blah blah!

Posted by: Mr. Flappy Pants on January 3, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

Finally -- you're not being deleted because you're not posting under another identity with the same IP. The mods obviously can't determine whether or not you're whipping up a fake persona.

Well, sir--I just gave them proof! They can look above and guess which "spoof" post I undertook to prove you wrong!

And I did read your posts in context; they were good for a laugh. As is your analysis of things--good for a belly laugh.

What the deuce do you know anyway? You're just another one of these anti-war liberals who'd rather screech about things than get something accomplished.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Nonsense, Norman. You'll take a card from me and like it, and I'm not giving you the three-digit code, either.

Posted by: shortstop on January 3, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Norman":

Mr. Flappy Pants is not a deletable spoof post with the Norman email, duh -- just like stupid git isn't a deletable sock puppet with thethirdPaul's email.

I guess your game here is to mangle all context. Shame on me for indulging it.

Helpful hint: assertions aren't arguments. Minion of rove, republicrat, tbrosz, even rdw and Steve White have provided sold moments of ad hom free, occasionally elucidating point-by-point exchange with genuine conservatives.

Then again, I've never had cause to wonder if those personas were fake, either.

Don't you find this just a tad boring, btw?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

The vast majority of objectors to Bush on Iraq are not knee-jerk anti-military. These people run the ideological gamut, in fact, from isolationist libertarians and Republican realists all the way to hardcore peaceniks;

"Republican Realists" are NOT anti-military, regardless of what you think. This is typical of your blase analysis--it is lazy and flies in the face of reality. A Republican who differs from the policies of George W Bush is lost in the weeds and merely wrong; they are NOT anti-military. There is no anti-military wing of the Republican party, and you cannot cite evidence otherwise. There IS an anti-military wing of the Democrat party, and they are regularly interviewed and quoted. Do you not recall the Clinton administration staffer who refused to speak to the uniformed military?

there are a lot more of the former than there are of the latter. The left avoided its signal mistake in Vietnam -- much to its credit -- by objecting to Bush's war without demonizing the troops or even the top brass. The military has a job to do.

Except that the left DID demonize the troops and conflated Abu Ghraib into something larger than it was. To date, many of the hysterical screechings of the left have not been proven. Abu Ghraib was perpetrated by a handful of soldiers who are now in jail, sir. Do you understand what that says about America? We are so confident in our mission and in the fact that we are a nation of laws, we will investigate, try and convict then sentence our own soldiers to prison for war crimes--no other military in the world does that the way that the US military does.

And yet, the liberals screech about the military.

You point about Dennis Kucinich reminds me of another man I knew, and you may be too young to have any recall of this, but Kucinich reminds me of a friend named Harold Stassen, who is long deceased but who I knew from volunteering to work on campaigns back in the late 60s and early 70s. Harold used to make a pilgrimage to Manchester, New Hampshire every four years to make some speeches, eat some free pie, and generally get trounced in the primary season. A good man, always right, but a fringe candidate, nonetheless. Kucinich is always wrong, a smarmy man, and very much your own Harold Stassen.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Sins on the Seine

Reviewed by NOAH POLLAK

DAVID PRYCE-JONES
Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews
Encounter Books, 2006, 171 pages


David Pryce-Jones notes that France’s position over the last century and a half as a self-styled puissance Musulmane, a Muslim power, has been not just a strategic failure, but a betrayal of France’s national identity as a champion of democracy and human rights (although one must observe that France has always been notably absent among the nations who actually take French national values seriously).

*********************

Just a small clip from the review> The rest can be found here. http://www.azure.org.il/magazine/magazine.asp?id=350

France has been a most trecherous ally for quite a long time. It's time to celebrate the fact GWB had broken this alliance.

I call your attention to this because I am sure you haven't a clue as to the level of treachery nor regarding how well documented it all is. You may be assuming that if it isn't covered by the MSM it isn't covered. One would think 2004 would have changed that assumption.

Those who think the rift with Western Europe is a temporary function of GWB are in for the shock of their lives. The world is shifting rapidly my friends and it's right in front of your eyes. The Imperial powers are collapsing. They are literally breeding themselves out of existance while their former subjects take over.

And for the 1st time in 100 years there's no USA to bail them out. There is zero support for France.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Then again, I've never had cause to wonder if those personas were fake, either.

Good luck telling the real from the fake. A hint to you sir: the moderators are doing that for you. I myself saw a post that purported to "spoof" me today get deleted in a manner of minutes.

But what does stand is my refutation of what you said. As much as you would like to claim I am some kind of "parody" the fact remains, I have bested you in this debate. Now, on to other pursuits.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

As the US increasingly takes on the trappings of de-facto imperialism

Pure nonsense. There's no trappings and never has been even the suggestion of trappings.

The US doesn't have the problems of Europe because we're not stupid. They have two parties. The left and far left. The US has a strong, authentic two-party system based on a constitution with democrative rights and free market capitalism.

The leftist ideologies of Europe never took root in America and never will. France backed Palestine. The US backs Israel. Look at the result. The per capital income of Palestinians in Israel is 30x's the levels of per capita income in the West Bank. In 10 years it will be 60x's and in 20, 120x's.

Old Europe is a decaying society. They are no reproducing. They are weak militarily and weak economically. They are facing welfare state demands they cannot possibly meet while well into the 1st phase of a demographic disaster.

The US is strong. Stock Markets are setting new highs and energy prices dropping. Americans reproduce and creat massive wealth.

The Iraqi's have a responsibiity to stop killing themselves. We own them nothing. We owe the Kurds our defense shield and they'll get it. We'll soon leave Iraq. It will remain muslim killing muslim. The libs will blame the USA as they always do. The conservatives will mock the libs as they always do.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Soooo tired - Eyes can not stay open - Must rest - Very Long YAWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.

Don't forget Kyoto, Woot.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 3, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Bush: "It's not my fault. I drove straight. It is the damn road that turned underneath me."

Posted by: Tripp on January 3, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

energy prices dropping.

Hold the phone. What the hell? Which energy? Dropping from, um, what, and for how long?

Cause, ummm, y'know the energy I personally use is getting more expensive over time.

Posted by: Tripp on January 3, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sitting in a four million dollar home, comfortably retired with a few business interests here and there, safely provided for and without a care in the world--and you have what? What do you have in this world, other than your own bias and your own cloying, pathetic need to pronounce everyone with whom you cross paths with a fraud and an inferior to yourselves--and WHAT do you have? You have nothing! I have been posting here for years--what do you have to show for it? You know, I am a bit of a fan of Mr. Drum, very sensible at times when he calls out the lefty fringe. A welcome diversion this is for me, and a reinforcer of my own belief that the majority of liberals are more fascist than anything else.
Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. You are one smug self satisfied prick.
The arrogance of comfort and the illusion that your material success means that you must possess superior judgement on moral matters, political matters and social matters.
It's called the kings conceit and it was as untrue when we overthrew George III as it is today. Thank the lord that all things have their season ...

Posted by: Nemesis on January 3, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Oh geez ... between the Sylla of Norman and the Charybdis of rdw ...

rdw:

I choose not to engage your anti-European bloviation. It's just too tedious for words.

"Norman":

1) Of course realist Republicans aren't anti-military. That was part of my point. The true anti-military wing of the left (and hardly all far leftists are pacifists by a long shot) is a miniscule fraction of what it was when this nation faced a draft in Vietnam. But hey -- if you can fill out a CO form during Selective Service registration and recieve that status honestly -- then I have nothing but the highest respect for you. However -- very, very few people object to violence so consistently that they'd eschew it in matters of self-defense and defense of a family member.

A young Clinton staffer or two aside, there are no "anti-military" elected officials (how could they represent military people in their districts?); Kucinich's position is a tad more nuanced than what you'd like to paint it to be. *Everybody* supports the toops -- regardless of how little they'd ever deign to use them. Some would argue that using them as sparingly as possible is precisely what supporting the troops means. However, what few anti-military types there are out there were attracted most to Kucinich's campaign. That's all I meant by bringing him up.

2) If Abu Ghraib wasn't a deep stain on America's honor that rose to the very top -- then why did Donald Rumsfeld tender his resignation at the time, for that reason? (Bush, of course, didn't accept it.)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget Kyoto, Woot

Not today.

Today is a day to celebrate another stock market high and a $2.50 drop in Oil. It's also good to see unleaded and natural gas prices drop so much as well.

Last year averages prices were $66. Today they're $58. That's a 13% drop which will of course result in lower inflation and then lower interest rates. All to the good for the economy.

You've really got to link to the book review above. I don't think you comprehend the utter comtempt conservatives and many independents hold for France. It's much like your contempt for GWB except ours has nothing to do with personality or election strategy.

It's been fascinating watching the trajectory of public opinion in the US regarding France, the EU, the UN, Fidel, slcialism, multi-culturalism etc., since the emergnce of the conservative medidal. Rush has been around 15 years but talk radio has only been this competitive for 5 or 10. Fox started near 1998 and the interent really gained political influence 5 to 7 years ago. The now powerfulc onservative book circuit was advanced by all these things.

GWB will leave office in 2009. The conservative media is forever. France is toast.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's just too tedious for words.

That's why there's a link. I'm just trying to educate you here. The conservative press is very, very influencial. You should try to understand the world as it is and not as you want it to be. Don't take my word for it. Read the link.

The state department just released cables proving Arafat authorized the assassination of two US diplomats back near 1971. They also knew about it all along and lied. France of course also knew about it and became Arafats 2nd best freind next to Bill Clinton. They even held a state funeral on his death and said some very, very nice things.

It's always important to know who your friends are and more important to know your enemies. France is clearly our enemy.

If you don't think this new data on Arafat's treachery and French support for them won't be very useful you are clueless.

Chirac is as useful to the right in mocking liberalism as is Castro.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nemesister:

It's called the kings conceit and it was as untrue when we overthrew George III as it is today. Thank the lord that all things have their season ...

No, it's called proof that America is the greatest country on the face of the Earth. And the Lord God, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, made it so.

Too bad you can't get off your duff and work for a living. Perhaps waiting for a government handout has made you bitter and upset--don't blame me for your problems.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

Since I am a parody to you, kindly debate yourself. I'd rather talk to people who can think clearly.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Next to Marshall he will be without question the most powerful and effective Defense Secetary ever.

No, I believe Cheney's efforts to take advantage of the Peace Dividend make him one of the best and are what fueled much of the economic growth of the 1990s (much to the chagrin of Liberals who think Bill Clinton had something to do with it) but you may differ with me on that point, if you like.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 3, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Norman:"

Norman, like everyone else here, you're *text* to me. Since you responded to my points (relatively) in context, I provided a rejoinder.

I'll just take that petulant piffle as a concession of those points on the merits :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

The very fact that he offered a resignation at all refutes "Norman's" point that Abu Ghraib was merely the work of "a few bad apples." To the contrary, Ricardo Sanchez lost his career over it.

And refuting "Norman" was all I was after in the reference.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

You pretty much nailed it. These guys have always focussed on PR versus performance, and at this point the Iraq policy is driven by the vanity of Bush, Cheney, the neocons and their cheerleaders.

Posted by: Batocchio on January 3, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

but you may differ with me on that point

I think Cheney was terrific but his task was far easier. A post-USSR drawdown was pre-ordained and had wide political support.

Rummy was selected for total transformation and bureaucracies hate change above all else. He started before 9/11 and so had Afganistan, Iraq, NATO, Korea, Japan, India to follow.

The peace dividend was a factor in the 90's recovery but not significant. The US is essentially been in an expansion since 1981. GHWB suffered the shortest and weakest recession in history due largely to a banking crises as well as other imbalance that creep up after along expansion. The same is true of the 02 recession which was due to overly restrictive fiscal and monetary policy during the latter Clinton years. This recession replaced the 91 recession as the weakest ever.

The period of economic growth from 1981 thru 2006 represents the greatest period of wealth creation in all of human history and as we can see from the stock markets this will continue in 2007 and beyond.

It is this fantastic wealth creation that has created the rift with Western Europe as they despise our exceptionalism.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

John Keegan in today's Telegraph opinion piece thinks that a 50K surge could work. However, he also mentions that if a withdrawal is to be successful a surge in forces would be desirable as well.

"In any case, the sending of such force will be a necessary preliminary to any reduction in strength, since it would be necessary to cover the withdrawal. Retreat is a complicated operation of war which paradoxically always involves far more troops if it is to be brought off successfully. The reason for that is that the spectacle of withdrawal tempts the enemy to interpret the time of withdrawal as an indication of weakness, and so risks infliction of passing shots and the launching of farewell attacks. It is vastly important to have additional troops on hand at such a time."

"The surge reinforcements may therefore have a dual purpose to cover the reduction and also to deal final blows at the source of the disorder prior to departure. American commanders certainly will not wish to leave Iraq, tail between legs. We may therefore confidently expect to see the number of American troops in the theatre increase suddenly from 150,000 to 200,000, if only for a short time."

Perhaps we are doing this to "take out" the Mahdi army militia and then get out?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 3, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Abu Ghraib was merely the work of "a few bad apples." To the contrary, Ricardo Sanchez lost his career over it.

You really don't get it.

Abu Grahib was a few bad apples and was a frat party compared to other wars by other armies. Sanchez was fired because in this era generals have to manage PR as well as they manage troops. Look at Wesley Clark. He became a Presidential Candidate by being at NATO while Kosova was faught. It was an airforce videogame war he had little to do with and he was fired by Clinton.

It's PR and politics and generals know the rules just as well as any Senators.

My point stands. Rummy's paperwork was purely political. He was hired because he was a shrewd and devastating political player. His job was to find and fire the political generals and find and promote the ones ready to fight the next war. The reason there are so many pissed off ex-Generals is because Rummy pissed them off. They fought him. They lost. They're bitter.

Abu Grahib is not a stain on America. Liberals in hysterics is not a stain on America. It's just liberals in hysterics. It was a poor attempt to drag down the general respect the American public has for the Amrican soldier. Ala Kerry in 1972.

This is so not 1972.

It's was interesting in looking at the coverage of Fords burial. As President he was dumb as all GOP Presidents and Jerry had clumsy to add to the reputation. Reagan and Bush get the same treatment. You are so predictable and cartoonish Ford was only an eagle scout, all american center at Michigan and 3rd in his class at Yale Law. Yet he was the dumb bufoon.

Thinking you'll be writing the History on Rummy and GWB. Think again!

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we are doing this to "take out" the Mahdi army militia and then get out?

It's far more likely we will take out the Sunni militia. The problem has always been the sunni slaughter of innocent Shites. Al Qaeda are sunni freaks who consider the shites apostates. The old Saddam crowd wants power. Syria wants to help the Sunni while Iran is helping both sides kill each other.

In 1991 we left Saddam with enough power to slaugher massive numbers of Shires and Kurds. We will not repeat that mistake. The Kurds are fine. We will not degrate the ability of the shite to defend themselves. The days of Sunni control of Iraq are over.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Doc at the Radar Station:

Dunno what to think of your point -- but luv yer handle :)

"You might think this is the finest pearl
But it's only cardboard balls
Seamed in glue
Overwhelming technique ... "

--Don Van Vliet

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

Such a shrewd and devastating political player that he was fired in the middle of the war he oversaw.

Most people would call that resigning in disgrace -- but however you'd like to spin it quite okay with me.

You're too much, Wooten.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Bob. I'm just speculating about the Mahdi army as the primary target for any offensive operations that might be associated with the "surge". They just seem the most likely target. The Sunni resistance is more dispersed and they don't have clear leaders. I still feel that the troop increase is ultimately directed at finding a "graceful" way to withdraw. Keegan's piece just confirmed my suspicions. This also buys more time for a possible partition or loose federation-hopefully less bloody than more.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 3, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

How dare you guys make disparaging remarks about the Decider blaming Generals.

After all, the Decider was a First Lieutenant, a Deserter when serving in the ANG. Casey and his peers are ONLY 4-star generals

Posted by: ronhohn on January 3, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK
The problem has always been the sunni slaughter of innocent Shites. ... rightist dim wit at 4:15 PM
You do realize, don't you, that the Shia are the more fundamentalist sect? That the Shia of Iraq support Hezbollah and Hamas? That the Shia of Iraq are regarded as Iranian pawns? That the Saudis summoned Bigus Dickus for a "consultation " and ripped him a new one, promising to intervene if Sunnis were not protected? Posted by: Mike on January 3, 2007 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

The problem has always been the sunni slaughter of innocent Shites

Tell me, you broken tool, what exactly is the name of the drug you are currently on?

Jesus fuckin' \Christ. You are one stupid, make that willfully stupid, sumbitch.

Now go enjoy natures splendor in high-def you silly fuck.

Posted by: Professor Chaos Switched the Soup on January 3, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Mike:

Your posts are generally well-sourced and I find little to dispute in them -- but this time I'm afraid you're way off the mark on several things.

First, you can't talk about who's the "more fundamentalist" of the two major (but not only) divisions of Islam. It's like asking which "sect" is "more fundamentalist," the Catholics/Orthodox or the Protestants? Obviously, it depends on which subgroup, church or even individual congregation you're talking about.

I could write paragraphs on the differences between the hierarchically organized Shia and the more imam-dependent Sunnis -- but you're a good googler; I'll only ask you to do some research on it. I'll say briefly, though, that radical Sunnis seem to be the more religiously intolerant of Shia than the reverse (google or wiki takfir), and remind you that al Qaeda's brand of Islam is Sunni. Also, I don't know of any Shi'ite suicide bombers at all -- save for the Hezbollah attack against the Lebanon US Marine barracks in '83, but none since then.

This being said, enozinho is a Sunni Muslim and he describes Sunni extremism as "cold blooded" but Shi'ite flavors as "just nuts." I need to ask him about it, but I'd guess it has to do with the long tradition of Shi'ites as being the oppressed minority underdog. Like Catholics, Shi'ites worship deified saints (which is why Sunni extremists consider them "polytheists") -- members of Muhammad's family -- who were martyred during the battles in the early history of Islam that gave rise to the two main divisions (Shia believe that the line of succession from Muhammad should be hereditary while Sunnis believe it should come from Muhammad's closest spiritual counsellors). So some Shi'ite traditions during days commemorating saints involve mass self-flagellation to the point of blood. Granted, seeing a bunch of guys in white garments going down a road together, wailing loudly and beating themselves in the head, face and torso with swords and chains probably *would* seem a little "nutty" to a moderate Sunni.

Hamas is a Sunni organization in the Occupied Territories. Hezbollah is a Shi'ite organization in Lebanon. While Iran funds both -- it is much closer to Hezbollah; its support for Hamas is more political/ideological than religious, for the sake of opposing Israel.

Which flavor of martyrdom-seeking extremism is more dangerous, more virulent in the world? Well, I'm not expert -- but I'd say Sunni, definitely. It's hard to proselytize Shi'ism, because it's hierarchial and dependent on a number of established schools of religious thought. For instance, Khomenism, the "rule of the jurist" theocratic flavor is distinctly Persian -- they couldn't export it to Iraqi Arab Shia even if they wanted to; Sestani's "quietist" school, so prevalent in southern Iraq, has an entirely different orientation to politics.

While Shi'ism is like Catholicism, dependent on a pope (Grand Ayatollah) and a bunch of bishops (mullahs), Sunnis are more like Protestants -- where anybody can interpret the Scriptures for themselves. Sunni extremists are kind of like freelance non-denominational "Bible Christians" (not coincidentally, where most Christian radicals come from) -- strip the doctrine down to the bare essentials and let it assimilate various cultural traditions. This is why the fundamentalist Salafism taught by Saudi-funded Wahabi madrassas has taken root all over the world, in places as far-flung and disparate as Chechnya and Indonesia.

Damn, I *said* I wasn't going to write paragraphs on this stuff ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Most people would call that resigning in disgrace

No one with a brain. The Defense Secretary will be judged on how well he carried out his mission for the services. He won't be judged on the politics of why he resigned. Especially since he's been the longest serving defense secretary of all time.

You are confusing Presidential Politics with Cabinet service. They are two very different things.

The most important thing he's done and it's been a magnificant acheivement is the transformation of the military. By itself an amazing legacy. That he did so by conducting two historic invasions and a major continental shift of forces out of Europe is simply amazing.

The invasion of Afghanistan was a work of art. Using an entirely different set of skills and strategy he did in 3 weeks and with few losses what the Soviets could not do after 30,000 lives. Moreover Afghanistan has been flourishing for 5 years with little residual terror. The recent efforts by the taliban from Pakistan have been cartoonishly inept. Our kill ratio is over 50 - 1. It's a test bed for the most advanced technology in the world and will serve to further wide the military gap between the USA and it's closest allies (Israel, Japan, Australia) and the rest of the world.

The invasion of Iraq was just as spectatular with the USA crushing th worlds 4th largest army as if it did not exist. THe military has been performing magnificantly ever since.

This is in no way like McNamara's Vietnam debacle. There is no spitting on soldiers. I ever see some liberal dickhead spit on a soldier either the lib or I will be going to the hospital. Mush of that is due to Rummy and his brilliant and professional management of our forces. They have pride in themselves and we have pride in them.

You are thinking Rummy is going to be responsible for the political decisions in Iraq. He won't be. His role was vastly different than McNamara's.

One of the more interesting sidebar tidbits of the Iraqi invasion is that every liberals favorite Cabinet member, Colin Powell, will be the one coming up short. Because he wasted so much time at the UN, was so completely outclassed by France, and then lost Turkey as a launch point, Rummy had to change on the fly. He did so brilliantly enhancing his moment while highlighting the repeated failures of the State Dept and Colin Powell.

Liberals always get their hair on fire. It was comical watching the Ford funeral and hearing the liberal commentators babble on. When Ford was President he was like all GOP Presidents, stupid, as well as a clumsy oaf.

In front a new generations of Americans hearing he was a buy scout, all-american center at the U of Michigan, war hero and 3rd in his class at Yale Law school they decided calling him stupid would make them look stupid.

The clowns at the NYTs think they write the 1st draft of History. They've never written ANY draft of history.

Rummy will he the most comprehensive and positive legacy of ANY cabinet member since Marshal. Kissenger was one of the most major figures of the last 40 years but his detente policy was a disaster. Schultz has a positive legacy but was less a leader and more a follower of Reagan. Kissenger had great influence. Reagan ran his own foreign policy. McNamara was obviously a dominant figure but a loser. Clintons only famous cabinet member is Sandy Berger for the wrong reasons. Baker will be famous but unaccomplished.

Think about it. If you are going to list famous and consequential cabinet members Rummy has to be at the top

Posted by: rdw on January 4, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

they couldn't export it to Iraqi Arab Shia even if they wanted to;

Actually they already have and Sestani is not the only religious leader in Shite Iraq. Your summary is very well written but I think you under-estimate the reach of the Shites in Iran to export their violence around the world. A large number of Islamic scholars trace the serious spread of Islamic radicalism to the 1970's when Carters fecklessness led to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and then France and Carter conspired to remove the Shah and install Kohmeni. Since that time the religious wars have been brewing with increasing intensity. Iran has been 'brilliant' in often funding, supplying and training both sides in a dispute as they have in Iraq.

It is Iran working to destabilize Palestine and eradicate Israel and it will be Iran fermenting the unrest in Europe certain to come. They have the perfect model to confront the liberal world. By funding radical terror groups posing as the oppressed and ignoring any rules of war the UN and Old Europe are utterly defenseless. Their rules of engagement are a suicide pact. Not that they would fight anyway.

Iran merely needs to be able to defend itself while sending it's terror groups on missions. There is literally nothing Western Europe can do when Iran decides France, for example, needs to compromise on Sharia law. A dozen or so attacks on the Paris metro would bring Paris to it's knees. France can't attack anyone. The UN can't help them. The US won't help them.

Russia proved in Chechna what must be done. They ended the Islamic insurgency by killing the insurgency. Russia was not about to follow UN Guidelines. France has no choice.

In summary Bob the shites in Iran might not be as individually voilent as the Sunni. That just means they're a lot smarter. For just that reason they're a lot more dangerous.

Posted by: rdw on January 4, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

If you didn't keep getting your blessed basic facts wrong all the time ...

Jimmy Carter did *not* "conspire with France to remove the Shah." Where do you *get* this unmitigated crap from? What Carter did which offended the Iranian revolutionaries was to *accede to the Shah's request* for state-of-the-art medical treatment for his cancer in a New York hospital. You know -- something that any American president would've done for a longstanding ally. And then he died in the hospital.

The leftist critics at the time bashed Carter for making that decision. Obviously, it pissed the revolutionaries off to no end and served to remind them of how close the Shah was to America. So they expressed this by storming the American embassy and holding our hostages.

As for the rest of your post, Wooten -- I was speaking about the historical and theological reasons why the Shi'ite branch of Islam isn't amenable to global domination. Iran wants regional *parity* and *respect* from its majority Sunni neighbors -- not as a way of asserting a religious hegemony that the Iranians know full well they'd never accept. Saudi Arabia controls Mecca, for crying out loud.

The Universal Caliphate ideology which makes up the core of fearmongering about "Islamofascism" is strictly a *radical Sunni* preoccupation. Islam has never, in all of its history, had a Shi'ite Caliphate.

Shit, Wooten, you really don't know Shi'ite from Shinola, do you.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 4, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK
While Shi'ism is like Catholicism, dependent on a pope (Grand Ayatollah) and a bunch of bishops (mullahs), Sunnis are more like Protestants -- where anybody can interpret the Scriptures for themselves.

I thought it was more the other way around: While Sunni theology sees early extra-scriptural tradition (Sunna) as an important and binding component of the basis of religious faith, much as Catholics do, Shi'a holds to a Qu'ran-only view similar to the sola scriptura doctrine of many Protestant faiths. The Shi'ite grand ayatollahs, ayatollahs, and mullahs are not, as I understand it, much like the Catholic heirarchy with its shared, absolute head or anything approximating the Catholic idea of infallibility (either in its personal/papal or institutional/ecclesiastical forms).

Then again, its probably of limited value to view the divisions within Islam through the lens of analogy to the divisions within Christianity.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 5, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Well, this is needless to say an extremely loose analogy, meant to walk a guy like Wooten -- whose knowledge of Islam seems to be entirely subordinated into rationalizing ways to sabre-rattle Iran -- through the baby steps. Obviously, there are more differences between Shia/Sunni and Catholic/Protestant than there are similarities.

But I will say a few words on the similarities:

First, every flavor of fundamentalist religion is inevitably colored by interpretation after the fact from their founding scriptures. The Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews have the Talmud and other bodies of rabbinic commentary. Even literalist "Bible Christians," who claim to adhere literally to certain specific translations of the Bible, produce congregations that can vary greatly on what they teach. Naturally this is true of fundamentalst Wahabi/Salafi communities as well; some of them are entirely peaceful while others fervently embrace the political/violent aspects of jihad.

But the Shia take a step to heterodoxy right out of the box by glorifying Muhammad's family, and raising their historical imams to the level of quasi-deified saints. Orthodox Sunnis -- expecially takfiri Salafists -- consider that tantamount to a violation of the first of the Five Pillars of Islam (which are universal across the faith), that there is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.

I would say that their glorified imams resemble Catholic saints in significant ways -- not least because Martin Luther thought that glorifying their images was tantamount to worshipping graven images.

Also note that most flavors of Sunni fundamentalism arose later, in direct response to some of the jesuitical commentary that was spinning around Islam, to purify it by going back to the earliest traditions of the communities Muhammad spawned. No surprise that one of the gravest doctrinal errors among Salafis (the word become tantamount to a slur) is "innovation."

The Sunnah -- the traditions of the Prophet -- is not exclusive to Sunni Islam, although Sunnis restrict its meaning to those of the Prophet only while Shia extend it to include the traditions of the twelve imams. Both were elaborated in the hadiths, and for a long time in Islamic history, the two were conflated. Suffice it to say that the Sunnah is more a record of the individuals in question while the hadiths -- since grown to a huge body of often contradictory writings over the centuries -- is, like the Talmud, commentary after the fact and heavily disputed among different Islamic sects.

So in the sense of sola scriptura, it would be more accurate to call the Sunni more Protestant-like in that they adhere most strongly to the traditions surrounding the Prophet only as their secondary source of the faith, beyond the divine words of the Koran.

Note also that there's a movement of Koran-only Muslims which, by definition, would be neither Sunni nor Shi'ite and would probably most closely resemble "Bible Christians."

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 5, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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