Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

May 29, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

FOUR YEARS....Julian Barnes reports in the LA Times that Gen. Petraeus and his staff are already trying to dial down expectations for the surge:

U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.

....Military officers said they understood that any report that key goals had not been met would add to congressional Democrats' skepticism. But some counterinsurgency advisors to Petraeus have argued that it was never realistic to expect that Iraqis would reach agreement on some of their most divisive issues after just a few months of the American troop buildup.

These unnamed "counterinsurgency advisors" would be right if nobody had been working on any of these key goals until February 2007. In fact, though, they've been key goals for a long time. The problem isn't that we won't have any progress to show after six months, the problem is that we don't have any progress to show after four years. Another Friedman or two isn't going to change that.

Kevin Drum 12:09 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (108)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

interesting report from Michael Yon:

http://www.instapundit.com/

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 29, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

and are seeking ways to redefine success.

If Bush and Cheney actually leave office in Jan 09, I'll call that success.

Posted by: craigie on May 29, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry Matthew, but I draw the line at clicking on instaclown. Even assuming there's something new there, which history shows is pretty unlikely.

Posted by: craigie on May 29, 2007 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Another Friedman or two isn't going to change that.

You are right.

But is it true that they are seeking ways to redefine success?

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 29, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

But is it true that they are seeking ways to redefine success?

If the answer weren't "breathtakingly blatantly obviously YES," you'd be affirming the opposite rather than asking that question.

Posted by: bob on May 29, 2007 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

And if anyone wants the "interesting report from Michael Yon" without going through Instawanker to see it, here it is without the pictures. Some of the lines are picture captions.

A MEMORIAL DAY EMAIL FROM MICHAEL YON, with photos:

Iraqi Policeman at a meeting today

Glenn,

Another day has passed without my having seen a shred of combat. The area around the city of Hit, in Anbar Province, has mostly fallen silent. A dust storm swept in late yesterday, and as normal, the enemy used the storm for cover to seed a few small IEDs on roads. The bombs were small and were discovered without incident.

I am becoming very interested by the city of Hit and surrounds; the fighting turned-off abruptly in February after Task Force 2-7 Infantry arrived. Why did the fighting end so suddenly?

The commander of Task Force 2-7 Infantry, LTC Doug Crissman, circulates the towns in his area each day. Today, we spent about twelve hours driving to or conducting various meetings. The most interesting meeting revolved around tribal politics.

Meeting today in Anbar Province with Police and sheiks

Three of the five sheiks present

During this meeting, three Iraqi Police lieutenant colonels, and five tribal sheiks, talked for perhaps two hours with LTC Crissman about the shape of the emerging Iraqi Police in this area. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior allocated 576 slots for new police in this area of operations. LTC Crissman is trying to distribute slots reasonably equally among the tribes and towns, while each tribe makes a grab for as many slots as possible.

Tribal intrigue and politics surface as a dominant factor in Anbar Province.

The sheiks want more police openings, and since many “police” have been working without pay for more than two months, one sheik proposed an idea to cut the already-meager pay in half, so that twice more police can be hired. A stream of such proposals come at LTC Crissman during every meeting, and each time I ask myself, “How will the commander field this one?”

Iraqi interpreter talking to the sheik.

I would like to write more candidly about what Crissman faces, but Internet is available in the towns here, and I wish to avoid unnecessarily affecting local politics during this sensitive time. I will say that over a period of more than two years, I’ve attended countless such meetings in Baghdad, Baqubah, Mosul and other Iraqi cities, but never have I seen an area where fighting ending so abruptly.

After the meeting: Kabobs, baked chicken and vegetables.

Iraqis have told me many times that the larger part of this war is not about religion. Fanatical groups such as al Qaeda surely have wreaked havoc, but a huge part of the war is about business, influence and resources. The American Commanding General, David Petraeus, has said repeatedly that money is ammunition in this war. The meetings I attend with local leaders around Iraq are never about religion. Religion is seldom if ever brought up. The meetings are about security, electricity, jobs, water projects. The meetings often are about influence, and politics fit for a novel.

Everything I see at these meetings indicates that those Coalition officers who say that money is ammunition in this war, are right. Al Qaeda is proving itself to the Iraqis to be bankrupt morally, and financially. There is a chance to fill the vacuum.

Posted by: bob on May 29, 2007 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Over the last six months, military leaders have pointed to the success of Army Col. Sean MacFarland in negotiating with tribal leaders in Ramadi to bring relatives into the local security forces and win their support against Al Qaeda insurgents in Al Anbar province.
...
Kagan said commanders in Diyala, Salahuddin and Babil provinces have been working on similar deals.
...
"The whole Anbar thing has snowballed," Kagan said. "A lot of people want to play."

Well. I am all for snowballing, but that's a terrible metaphor for June, July, and August in Iraq. Everything good could all melt away as Petraeus is flying back to brief Congress in September.

bob: If the answer weren't "breathtakingly blatantly obviously YES," you'd be affirming the opposite rather than asking that question.

No. I just hadn't read the original yet.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 29, 2007 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

"... and are seeking ways to redefine success."

Sure sign of an empire entering senescence...

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on May 29, 2007 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

(Sigh.)

Clearly, you don't support victory.

Why are you so opposed to liberty, against terrorism?

It's just like Vietnam. You people are undermining America's plan for victory.

If it weren't for you, we would be victorious over Osama bin Laden.

You -- and your readers -- are traitors.

Aiyeeee!

Posted by: bleh on May 29, 2007 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

They have been redefining success right from Aug '04 when the UN head qtrs were blown up. They have been dramatically ratcheting down expectations every now and then, but matters continue to get worse, not better. It is sad to see that BushCo is sparing no expense (life and money) to try to save face. They are too far away from reality to realize that there isn't a face left to save, but their handpicked minions will try anyway they can to declare "victory."

Posted by: rational on May 29, 2007 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

Oops, I meant to say "Aug '03" -- that was when the UN was bombed in Baghdad.

Posted by: rational on May 29, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

possibly copycat reporting, but now it's in the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-070527anbar-story,1,785371.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

modest progress in al Anbar province.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 29, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

I know Instawank is a master of disingenuousness. It makes him tiresome to read, unless you're a wingnut in which case you desperately crave a spin that let's you avoid admitting that Bush is a massively incompetent f-up who never has had a plan to win in Iraq and now certainly never will.

But the Yon letter gives a bit of insight into the kind of blinders needed to accomplish this. The last line:

Al Qaeda is proving itself to the Iraqis to be bankrupt morally, and financially. There is a chance to fill the vacuum.

Certainly true. You can lots of liberal pundits and bloggers saying exactly the same thing. AQ is not wanted in Iraq, by most Iraqis. The only thing sustaining them is that many others who are not AQ supporters also want the US out of Iraq. So if the US were out of Iraq, remaining support for AQ would collapse.

But you won't see Instawanker connecting those dots.

Second, to sustain the Instawanker view of the war you have to focus on AQ as if it were the main source of violence in Iraq. But it's not, the barely-suppressed Shiite/Sunni civil war is, and even if AQ were rooted out we'd still be sitting on top of that civil war.

Posted by: example on May 29, 2007 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

bob: If the answer weren't "breathtakingly blatantly obviously YES," you'd be affirming the opposite rather than asking that question.

mrm: No. I just hadn't read the original yet.

There was no need to read the article to know that they are seeking ways to redefine success. The alternative would be for them to come up with an actual, implementable plan for winning, and they've never even made that a priority. They've been coming up with plans for postponing failure, and finding ways to redefine success, almost from the very beginning.

Posted by: bob on May 29, 2007 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

for those of you who want some more of the bad news, here's some:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6698093.stm

car bomb kills 20 in Baghdad.

bob: There was no need to read the article

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 29, 2007 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

The Surge is just a final, desperate laetrile treatment to save Bush's credibility.

No one believes in it but the most intimate family and friends of the soon to be departed.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 29, 2007 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

Matthew, it's not a matter of "wanting" bad news. I'm happy to see the good news for the sake of the Iraqi people, and sad to hear the bad news.

The bad news you don't want to hear is that Bush doesn't have American troops there to end the bad news. He's never had, or made even a token effort to pretend to have, a plan for winning. The surge was rejected by the Joint Chiefs. It's not a plan for winning, it's a plan for keeping Bush's polling numbers out of the single digits.

And what you make such a rigorous effort not to understand is that this doesn't make bad news welcome, it makes bad news all the more painful. American lives are being sacrificed for no good reason, and the only thing left holding up the facade is that there are enough people like you who are desperately clinging to half-truths in order to try to save a little political face.

Just in case that might sink into your subconscious if you take a moment's rest from overwhelming your cognitive processes with Fox and Instapundit and others who sell the White House spin on the war to a willingly gullible audience, here it is again:

American lives are being sacrificed for no good reason, and the only thing left holding up the facade is that there are enough people like you who are desperately clinging to half-truths in order to try to save a little political face.

Posted by: bob on May 29, 2007 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

What I don't understand is why any, any good journalist talks to signed up PNAC-nuts at all. At all!

They have all been totally discredited, have their feet firmly planted in unreality, and do not have the best interests of the US as their primary concern.

Other than that, the goal posts have shifted just as the reason for invading: continuously.

The "surge" is a political expedient papering over the paucity of the campaign's direction. As a reminder, from May '03 at 173,000 troops, the total has undulated down and back up, repeatedly peaking: February '05 180,000; November '05 183,000; September '06 162,000; and soon, June '07 perhaps, at about 175,000 or so.

The fact that it has taken the US military 4 years to find out that politics is local -- and tribal! -- probably points up that 1) nobody is reading their history, and 2) why, after Saddam's defeat, there should have been a civil, State department authority in charge, not military.

It is unconscienably immoral, not to say a dereliction of duty, to have the troops in harms way with no plan or intent either for success or to extricate them.

Unfortunately the dereliction part is the one area that the US commander has some experience.

Posted by: notthere on May 29, 2007 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

A couple o' Freidmans is just what they need to pass the buck to the next administration. THAT is all they care about at this point.

Posted by: joe on May 29, 2007 at 5:39 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently, the problem all along is we've never had a proper definition of "success", thereby making the proper formulation of strategy impossible.

Posted by: Jimm on May 29, 2007 at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK

Bush lied about the size and cost of “surge”, so why wouldn’t he lie about it’s “success”?. The nutless Democrats aren’t going to hold him accountable for anything and the media will not challenge anything he says, so why would he start being truthful now?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 29, 2007 at 6:41 AM | PERMALINK

to those poo-pooing the intersting post on instapundit, well we fail ourselves when we don't consider all information from all possible sources. As to the post, the author points to a localized improvement involving the reassertion of power by local tribal leaders. It is nice to see that somebody realized that the key to calming down the insurgents is to talk to people who have influence over them, and the key to taking down the radical fundamentalists is to work with people who have an ongoing stake in the community after America leaves.

The Instapundit piece actually gives me reason to believe that if America leaves Al Qaeda in Iraq will not inherit a damn thing. Those local leaders are going to deal with the foreigners pretty rudely as they return their community to some kind of normalcy. Remember in Bin Laden was a guest in Afganistan. Without the Taliban acting as a shield the locals would not have tolerated the foreign fighters. Why? Because they are foreign.

The bigger problem is the growing clash between the Sunni and the Shia. Unless a political settlement can be reached there is going to be a major civil war between the two groups. The local shieks in the instapundit article have to fear that civil war more than anything else. The newly empowered Shia community doesn't plan on sharing anything with anybody and the Sunnis don't know how.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 29, 2007 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, good Ford...Marler cites Michael Yon and provides Instahack as a link. And yet he seems to want to be taken seriously as a good faith commentator. The irony is just too rich...

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Marler wrote: modest progress in al Anbar province

You don't get it, Marler...you war fans have always been able to point to "modest progress" to justify the buckets of other people's blood that's the price of Bush's failud adventure in Iraq (or Vietnam, for that matter...).

"Modest progress" isnt's good enough. The "surge" means Bush has less than a Friedman Unit to achieve total victory in Iraq -- to make it as peaceful as a small town Sunday afternoon.

Needless to say, that simply isn't going to happen. Surge or no surge, whack-a-mole in Anbar or no whack-a-mole in Anbar, we don't have the troops to secure Iraq, and never did, at Bush's insistence. That's why you point to your "modest progress" -- it lets you blind yourself to the overall lack of progress. And you pretend to be a honest commentator who's right more often than not. Shame on you, Marler.

Oh, but wait -- I spoke too soon! Marler also wrote: for those of you who want some more of the bad news, here's some

Not shame on you -- a hearty "fuck you" is all you deserve, you scumbag toad.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Not shame on you -- a hearty "fuck you" is all you deserve, you scumbag toad.

Seconded.

And Gregory put the "modest progress" tactic into nice perspective. Good job.

Posted by: trex on May 29, 2007 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

to those poo-pooing the intersting post on instapundit, well we fail ourselves when we don't consider all information from all possible sources.

I disagree -- we fail ourselves when we don't consider the source of information. Reynolds's pretense as a nonpartisan libertarian may have flown five years ago, but he's long since established himself as an intellectually dishoenst Republican tool -- but I repeat myself.

The risk of flinging dishonest partisan bullshit is and ought to be a total lack of credibility, which is why no one takes anything the likes of Instahack (not to mention Marler, "ex-liberal" and the rest of the GOP apologists) have to say at all seriously. No one's forcing them to make dishonest partisan arguments, so being exempt from consideration -- even on the rare occasions when they may be honest and/or informative -- is the price they choose to pay. I see no reason they should be given a free pass for their long and shameful record of partisan dishoensty.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, the experts at lowering the bar. Now could they just finally get around to defining "success" as reducing Iraq to a civil-warring, terrorist-breeding, resource-sucking quagmire, so we can declare victory and go home? It's this incremental approach that's really killing us.

Posted by: DrBB on May 29, 2007 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Fuck you, 'gentleman contrarian'" has the right ring, I think. With due credit to trex, of course.

You really are a piece of work, Mr. Marler. "Disingenuous" doesn't begin to cover it...unless, of course, you've actually convinced yourself that you're operating in good faith. In that case, an entirely different set of adjectives would apply.

Give me the backwashers, the 30-percenters, the dead-enders who still openly defend Bush, for they exhibit a higher level of honesty than MatthewRMarler/spider's.

Posted by: shortstop on May 29, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

A couple o' Freidmans is just what they need to pass the buck to the next administration. THAT is all they care about at this point.

Exactly so. They're spinning out the last 18 months at this point.

Posted by: shortstop on May 29, 2007 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Melissa Blankensop says:

"We must continue to attack the insurgents. We must fight them in the deserts and the cities. We must allow them no place of succor or warmth. We must hunt them down in the mountains and their kiosks. We must fight them in the swamps and in the stately Baghdad gardens. We must never relent!"

Too bad I'm engaged, cause this gal has it nailed.

Posted by: egbert on May 29, 2007 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Have Petraeus & Co. shared their revised casualty projections with anyone?

Posted by: zoooological on May 29, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

...the problem is that we don't have any progress to show after four years. Another Friedman or two isn't going to change that.

Yeah, but three more Friedmans and you're almost into the next presidency. Isn't that all that's really wanted at this point?

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 29, 2007 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

I see my point's already been made and in better fashion; I should read comments first.

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 29, 2007 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Military officers said they understood that any report that key goals had not been met would add to congressional Democrats' skepticism.

Oh those doubting Democrats. They are beginning to suspect that all is not going according to plan in Iraq. Perhaps, just maybe, they will request some sort of accountability from this administration.

(/snark)

Who writes this stuff, anyway? Julian Barnes? Here, let me fix that for you...

Military officers attempted to frame their failure to meet key goals as nothing but a political football.

Posted by: Pooleside on May 29, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Melissa Blankensop says:

Bold words (as well they might be, cribbed as they are from Churchill). But this Blankensop person, whoever she may be, ought to take her complaints about "not allowing" the insurgents this or that to Bush, whose failure to provide -- no, whose insistence on not providing -- enough troops to secure Iraq is directly responsible for providing the insurgents all the haven they can use.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

I love the idea of Bush trying to save his reputation. He doesn't care about his reputation.

If he cared about such things as a reputation he'd have gotten receipts for the tons of money they took to Iraq on pallets. Gosh, it just disappeared. Billions. Gone. Wonder where it went.

The greatest heist in history.

Reputations are for schmucks. Big timers always chose money.


Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on May 29, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack on May 29, 2007 at 9:59 AM:

..you're almost into the next presidency. Isn't that all that's really wanted at this point?

I'm hearing a whole lotta management of expectations, which is not suprising considering that the last two months have seen some of the heaviest monthly troop losses of the past five years. The plans being floated now sound a lot like what various Dems have proposed...over-the-horizon peacekeeping forces, engaging regional support, et cetera...same ideas, only this time stamped with a GOP seal of approval. It will be interesting to see the comparison of what detractors said in 2005-2006 about getting out of Iraq to what they say in the fall of 2007.

What I can't figure out is this: With Republicans like McConnell and Sessions making noises about jumping off the HMS Dubya in September and all of the 'dailing down of expectations' going on, what are the reasons for staying?

Senator Levin is right:

"Why wait until September?" Levin asked. "We've got men and women dying in Iraq right now."

At this point, it's the War to Save Bush's Ego.

Posted by: grape_crush on May 29, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Who the hell is Melissa Blankensop? Sounds like a white-trashier version of Melanie Morgan.

And egbert, I still have that link to the Marines. You are probably so far gone even they can't make a man of you, but the thought of you in Marine boot camp is all I need to collapse in paroxysms of laughter.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 29, 2007 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Bush failed. Nothing that happens in Iraq will make his failures look better.

Posted by: freelunch on May 29, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Who the hell is Melissa Blankensop?

I don't know either but what's with all the "We" shit? She needs to get her "We" talking ass over to Iraq pronto.

Posted by: ckelly on May 29, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

So, eggy, does being "engaged" absolve you of your responsibility to put your body where your mouth is? Who is supposed to do all this glorious fighting anyway? Or are you a cowardly sack of you-know-what?
And are you engaged to mhr?

If you don't answer, we'll just take that as a sniveling confession of abject humiliation.

Posted by: Kenji on May 29, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Oh please, egbert, hang around today. I woke up in a mood this morning, and don't want to inflict my wrath on decent folk - but you I will eviscerate with glee and wild abandon, and call it therapy. Please hang around, you cowardly, sniveling piece of merde.

Pummeling the piss out of you is cheaper than shoe-shopping.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 29, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

We need to get the fuck out of Iraq. Bush has shown no progress in Iraq in 4 years. You need to get your ass over there if you continue to believe We need to die for this cause.

Posted by: ckelly on May 29, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Who the hell is Melissa Blankensop?"

Didn't she use to work the VIP room at the Bada Bing?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 29, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK
...The whole Anbar thing has snowballed," Kagan said. "A lot of people want to play." Well. I am all for snowballing...modest progress in al Anbar province. MatthewRmarler at 12:39 AM & 12:27 AM
Chopper attack, bombs kill 8 U.S. troops in Iraq POSTED: 10:47 a.m. EDT, May 29, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) – Eight U.S. troops were slain in Iraq on Monday in a deadly chain of events that began when a U.S. helicopter crashed, apparently shot down by small-arms fire, according to a U.S. military official.
A military vehicle rushing to the helicopter crash site was hit by an exploding roadside bomb, and a second "quick-reaction force" vehicle also was hit, the official said.
The two pilots of the Kiowa helicopter were killed in the crash; six soldiers died in the bombings of the two vehicles, and three others were injured.
The eight Memorial Day deaths occurred in volatile Diyala province between Baquba and Muqdadiya, the U.S. military announced on Tuesday....
U.S. commanders have expressed concern about a rise in violence and the growing presence of al Qaeda in Iraq militants, who have fled to Diyala from other regions of the country.
The U.S. death toll for May has risen to 112, making it the deadliest month so far this year....

Posted by: Mike on May 29, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I am struck by the certainty of the comments here. Some folks have an almost religious faith in the conclusion that things will be better if the US withdraws from Iraq. It's like a prayer meeting of the Church of Withdrawal.

People of faith do not need to weigh details such as the improvements in Anbar and whether they can be replicated. No need to consider which insurgent leaders and followers have been killed and which ones are still fighting. No need to evaluate any specific details Petraeus's plan. They have God-like certainty.

Adding insult to injury, members of the Church of Withdrawal assert that they think more deeply than those who do make the effort to fairly evaluate the successes and failures in Iraq, like General Petraeus. It's comparable to creationists claiming that they have a more balanced view than the scientists.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I may not always be right, but I am always certain. What US withdrawal means is Americans will not be killing Iraqis anymore. No progress in Iraq is worth the taking of one Iraqi's life by any American.

Posted by: Brojo on May 29, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa.

Got projection ex-lib?

Posted by: ckelly on May 29, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo: No progress in Iraq is worth the taking of one Iraqi's life by any American.

Really? Even if the Iraqis killed by the Americans are terrorists who are murdering thousands of innocent Iraqis?

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly: Got projection ex-lib?

No. I read Iraq withdrawal supporters, like this blog and the New York Times. OTOH some posters here refuse to read Iraq war supporters, not even liberal ones like "Instapundit", who was an Al Gore campaign worker.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" is back -- got the Memorial Day weekend off, did we? -- to post mroe dishonest neocon apologia: I am struck by the certainty of the comments here.

Here's a certain comment" "ex-liberal" certainly posts in bad faith and seems to actively prefer dishonest argumentation.

Some folks have an almost religious faith in the conclusion that things will be better if the US withdraws from Iraq

Care to back that one up with a cite? I know, I know, that's a mug's game. But after all, if "ex-liberal" didn't have dishonest straw man arguments, he/she/it wouldn't have any arguments at all.

What the commentors here seems unanimous about is that Bush's failure in Iraq has created a chaotic bloodbath regardless of what the US does -- and indeed, as I pointed out earlier, Bush ionsists on not providing enough troops to have a hope of securing the country.

So we have a bad situation no matter what, but withdrawal does avoid the costs in Ameican blood and treasure to maintain this pretense until Bush can pass the buck.

Of course for the neocon "ex-liberal," American blood and treasure is primarily good for advancing the interests of the State of Israel. How frustrating it must be that the american people have concluded, inevitably, that Bush's failure in the middle East isn't worth wasting more American lives.

You fool no one, "ex-liberal," except possibly yourself. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

liberal ones like "Instapundit"

Behold, ladies and gentlemen, "ex-liberal"'s most blatant and insulting lie ever -- despite some stiff competition on this very thread (you gotta love -- no, you don't, really -- "ex-liberal"'s snide condemnations of the war critics' acquaintance with reality).

No one mistook you for a good-faith commentator, "ex-liberal" (or Instahack, for that matter), but if anyone did, that transparent falsehood flushed your reputation once and for all. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

"I am struck by the certainty of the comments here."

Dear heart, considering that we have been right and you have been wrong on damn near ever Iraq issue of the past four years, I think that a little "certainty" is justified, don't you?

"Some folks have an almost religious faith in the conclusion that things will be better if the US withdraws from Iraq."

No, dear, we don't, which is why you cannot find a single quote on this thread to support this silly strawman argument. You and Marler, on the other hand, have "an almost religious faith" that things will be better in Iraq in another Friedman or two. And you continue to have this "almost religious faith" despite the fact that you've been proven wrong over and over and over again.

"People of faith do not need to weigh details such as the improvements in Anbar and whether they can be replicated."

Whatever you say, dear. I'll simply point out that much of what is being said about Anbar now was said about several other areas in Iraq previously, most notably about Basra.

"No need to consider which insurgent leaders and followers have been killed and which ones are still fighting."

Dear heart, we're the ones who are pointing out that the Bush administration's simplistic pronouncements about who we're fighting are sadly misinformed.

"No need to evaluate any specific details Petraeus's plan."

Since Petraeus's own book shows that he is not even remotely close to being sufficiently staffed to carry out his vaunted strategies and since he has himself privately admitted that there is only a 25% chance of success, and since the "specific details" about Petraeus's plans aren't that radically difference from what has been tried before, all facts that you are unable to cope with, forgive us if we refuse to take you seriously.

"They have God-like certainty."

LOL... Oh, the irony...

"Adding insult to injury, members of the Church of Withdrawal assert that they think more deeply than those who do make the effort to fairly evaluate the successes and failures in Iraq"

ROFL... And with your every post, you confirm this assertion of ours. Nice try, dear.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

"OTOH some posters here refuse to read Iraq war supporters"

Only the dishonest and/or ignorant ones, dear heart.

"not even liberal ones like 'Instapundit'"

ROFL.... No comment necessary. You really shouldn't make it so easy to discredit you, dear.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

"People of faith do not need to weigh details such as the improvements in Anbar and whether they can be replicated."

Add Mosul, formerly occupied by Petraeus, to the list of "success" stories in Iraq whose "improvements" were supposed to be "replicated."

As for Petraeus, while I'm willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, in addition to Mosul, let's look at his other former assignment in Iraq, the expansion and training of the Iraqi Army and security forces. How did that work out for you?

Even if you assume that Petraeus is the genius savior that the Bush administration and war supporters desperately hope he is, there is still no reason to be optimistic. Petraeus's own manual on these tactics indicates that he lacks the manpower to do the job, he himself is privately pessimistic about the chances of success, and, something that is commonly forgotten, he is not the author of "the surge." Petraeus was brought in after "the surge" had already been decided on and told to do the best he could with it.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Iraqis killed by the Americans are terrorists

Who makes that determination, W. Bush, Al, Charlie, ex-liberal, Karl Rove, Jeff Guckert, me? Iraqis are quite capable of determining who is a terrorist killing Iraqis and dealing with it themselves. Iraqis do not need me, W. Bush, you or General Petraeus to inform them who is killing them.

Posted by: Brojo on May 29, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Let me just say that I am truly enjoying the thorough fisking of ex-lib and Marler by the other commenters here. While I'm sure it wasn't meant in this way, I consider it a personal gift. Thanks to all.

Posted by: trex on May 29, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

In late 2005, I wrote a post here about all the ways we had "turned the corner" since the war began. The post was in response to crowing about the high turnout in Iraqi elections. It's worth reposting, I think, to remind the war supporters about the reasons for pessimism.

1. We turned a corner when Baghdad fell. That it fell so easily and quickly was "proof" that the Bush administration had been right all along and that this really was going to be a cakewalk.

2. We turned a corner when Saddam's sons were killed. This was supposed to be proof that the U.S. meant business and this was going to intimidate the insurgents. Plus, they were undoubtedly leading the insurgency, so their loss would leave the insurgency leaderless.

3. We turned a corner when the insurgency bombed the UN headquarters in Iraq. This was supposed to be a sign of how desperate they were and how they were nearly at the end of their rope.

4. We turned a corner when Saddam Hussein was captured. This was going to be another big blow to the insurgency, since Saddam was, theoretically, leading it, and even if he wasn't, he must have known something about it, and even if he didn't, it still was very symbolic and would take the wind out of their sails. [When Howard Dean told the precise and predictable truth that we were no safer, he was excoriated by war supporters, using much the same language now being used against Murtha.]

5. We turned a corner when we handed over sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government. This was supposed to show everyone that we really weren't there to occupy the country and when the insurgents realized this, they'd drop their attacks. Or maybe it was that when the Iraqi people realized this, they'd go after the insurgency themselves. I'm not too sure, really.

6. We turned a corner when the insurgents started going after Iraqi security forces. Since the insurgents were now attacking other Iraqis, the idea went, that showed how "desperate" they were. [The fact that this was actually the first signs of a low-scale civil war didn't seem to have occurred to the war supporters.]

7. We turned a corner when we launched a full-scale assault on Fallujah. This would show the insurgency that we meant business. We'd kill 'em and drive 'em out of their stronghold and be all manly and stuff and they'd simply whimper and cower down in fear.

8. We turned a corner when we re-elected Bush. And yes, I'm serious. There actually were a few war supporters who quite seriously argued that if Bush were re-elected, the insurgents would just give up and go home.

9. We turned a corner when the Iraqi people voted in January for the transitional assembly. The insurgents were "desperate" to prevent that election, since it would mark the beginning of the end for them in some [unspecified] way. And since they hadn't prevented it, that was a sign that they really were through.

10. We turned a corner when the U.S. launched "Operation Lightning," a joint exercise with Iraqi forces to take back control of Baghdad to make it more safe. Nearly 50,000 troops and police were involved and (depending on which news source you believe) anywhere from 800 to 1700 people were arrested. A relative cessation of terrorist activity in Baghdad for a few weeks after the operation was trumpeted far and wide as a sign of complete success.

Unfortunately, the operation more resembled the "rounding up of the usual suspects" scene from the movie "Casablanca" than it did a serious counter-insurgency, with the overwhelming majority of those arrested quietly released in the weeks following, and with violence quickly returning to its former levels.

11. We turned a corner when a new Constitution was approved, this despite the fact that it was guaranteed to piss off the Sunnis, that it enshrined Islamic Law into the Constitution, that it essentially split the country into three autonomous regions, and that it was nothing like what the Bush administration had wanted and had predicted.

12. We turned a corner when that new Constitution was approved, even though the Sunnis overwhelmingly rejected it, further inflaming the deep divisions already present.

13. And we will turn another corner when the Iraqis vote in national elections again.

There were other things that weren't quite corners, too, including Basra. Now Basra was supposed to be a model city -- pacified, quiet, under control -- the model of what all of Iraq would one day be. Alas, Basra was pacified and quiet solely because the Shiite militias had taken over almost complete control of the city, with the British unable to exert much influence and with the police chief admitting that he was not in control of his own men.

In every single one of these instances, one or more of the war supporters on this blog and elsewhere trumpeted the "turning the corner" meme and scoffed at our skepticism, accusing us of "wanting Bush to fail" and "ignoring the many good things happening" and "not supporting our troops" and all those other mindlessly partisan statements that have been tossed around here and elsewhere. And in every single one of these instances, the skeptics were shown to be correct, while the war supporters had to wait for the next "corner" to turn to go through the same ceremony again.

Now maybe [this surge] truly will mark the turning of a corner, but why on earth should I believe it when none of those other "corners" meant diddly-squat to the insurgency, to the violence, or to the future and security of Iraq?

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

There are a few other reasons to be pessimistic about the progress of "the surge." One is the story that began this thread. Another is that the U.S. has been caught fudging the casualty statistics (e.g., by omitting car bomb casualties) in its reports on violence in Iraq. And a third is that the Iraqi government is flatly refusing to supply casualty figures anymore. If there were reason for optimism, we wouldn't need to "dial down expectations," we wouldn't need to lie about casualty statistics, and we wouldn't need to hide the true casualty figures.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB: Dear heart, considering that we have been right and you have been wrong on damn near ever Iraq issue of the past four years,

Paul, liberals haven't been right about that much in Iraq. Most leading Dems, including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Sen Rockefeller, etc., wrongly said that Saddam had stockpiles of WMDs.

Bush was right and liberals were wrong when they said the US would have great difficulty defeating Saddam. Anti-war folks pointed to Saddam's huge army, his military stockpiles, his chemical weapons, and the difficulty of fighting in the desert heat.

Bush was wrong, wrong, wrong about how to handle the post-war occuation. However, I recall few liberals being right about this issue. What libs predicted in advance the insurgency? The ones who look smarter now are the hawks who called for more trooops at the start.

What were liberals focused on right after Saddam's overthrow? Not the insurgency. Liberals were going on endlessly about the alleged looting of some museum artifacts. Seems pretty minor compared to the problems that have arisen.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

And two finals reason to be pessimistic about "the surge": it has been proposed and is being executed by many of the very same people who have been wrong about, well, everything regarding Iraq from the very beginning of this ill-advised and ill-fated endeavor and it's being executed by a Bush administration that has displayed stunning incompetence in executing everything concerned with this war and its aftermath.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB: As for Petraeus, while I'm willing to give him the benefit of a doubt...

That's all I would ask. Your list of disappointing developments is fair. I don't blame anyone for being pessimistic. But, let's give Gen. Petraeus the benefit of a doubt and keep an open mind until Semtember to see what the surge has and has not accomplished.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Paul, liberals haven't been right about that much in Iraq. Most leading Dems"

ROFL... I said "we," meaning the commenters here, and "you," meaning, well, you. Your tired old stories about Clinton, Kerry, et. al, most of whom relied on erroneous security reports propagated by the Bush administration, are irrelevant.

"Bush was right and liberals were wrong when they said the US would have great difficulty defeating Saddam."

Dear heart, few, if any, liberals said that the U.S. would have any difficulty defeating Saddam. And I don't think a single regular commenter here said anything of the kind.

"Bush was wrong, wrong, wrong about how to handle the post-war occuation."

No shit, Sherlock. He was also wrong to go to war in the first place.

"However, I recall few liberals being right about this issue."

Dear heart, your inability to look outside your own little fantasy world is your problem, not ours. The problems we are facing now were both predictable and predicted. The fact that you didn't read those predictions and were unable to come up with them on your own is entirely your failing.

"The ones who look smarter now are the hawks who called for more trooops at the start."

LOL... Still delusional, I see, as was your last point. Nice try, though. Got anything real or substantial to add to this discussion?

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib, this is one of those posts you write filled with "I don't remembers" and "when did liberals say X?" that, in truth, is too stupid to respond to on its own merits, but maddening enough that someone will undoubtedly hand you your own ass.

As much as I would like to be that person, I'm in the car posting on a Blackberry and can't research and post and drive, tempting as it is.

Posted by: trex on May 29, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

"That's all I would ask."

No, dear, you are asking considerably more. Petraeus is just one man; even were he the genius you hope he is, he lacks the resources to do the job. You're asking us to pretend that the events of the past four years never happened, that the Bush administration is finally going to show some competency, that there will be a miraculous change in Iraq, in Iraqi politics, and in regional politics. It's not going to happen, dear. Deal with it.

"Your list of disappointing developments is fair."

It's also unanswerable, which is why you have been putting up such a lame showing on this thread.

"I don't blame anyone for being pessimistic."

Yes, actually, you do. Frequently. It's one of your trademarks, dear, arguing that we want America to fail or that we are rejoicing in its failures or that we hate America or blame America or whatever the meme of the day is.

"But, let's give Gen. Petraeus the benefit of a doubt and keep an open mind until Semtember to see what the surge has and has not accomplished."

Dear heart, nothing is going to change between now and September. That's why the Bush administration is trying to lower expectations and why they are trying so hard to fudge the true casualty statistics.

This "one more Friedman unit" meme is getting very old and very tired. We won't know any more in September than we do now: the Iraqi government will not have met its goals, the violence will still be there, the Iraqi and regional political issues will still be there, there will be a few new stories for folks like you to pounce on and hinge your hopes, and even more stories for folks like me to show that "the surge" isn't doing a damn thing.

All that will really happen in September is that you will be back here begging for another 6 months.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK
...liberals haven't been right about that much in Iraq...ex-lax at 2:20 PM
The initial looting was taken as a clear sign that there were not enough 'boots on the ground,' in the then phrase, to prevent trouble.

Your ilk loves to bring up the irrelevant and tired old canard about the prevalence of belief in WMD, ignoring the critical facts that only Bush used it as an excuse to invade and that the weapons inspectors actually on the ground and in the know, were finding that all the American intelligence was erroneous. All of it. None-the-less, Bush invaded.

As to the conduct of the war itself, it is irrelevant. Iraq was a third world nation crippled by over a decade of sanction. Many warned of possible dangers, but none doubted the eventual outcome. It's the occupation that is important.

More Americans have died in the occupation than in the war.

Why give someone the 'benefit of the doubt' when the occupation is such a disaster? It's foolish and immature to waste more American lives on an immoral cause.

Posted by: Mike on May 29, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal", ever eager to insult us with his/her/its dishonesty, wrote: Bush was wrong, wrong, wrong about how to handle the post-war occuation. However, I recall few liberals being right about this issue.

"ex-liberal," no one mistakes you for an honest commentator or someone who posts in good faith ("the liberal Instapundit" -- really!). What you claim to recall or not isn't worth a bucket of piss.

What libs predicted in advance the insurgency?

Well, I for one pointed out that Bush the Elder and Colin Powell noted the risks of the need to occupy a conquered Muslim country back in 1991, and noted that no war supporter -- not one -- had a response other than "greeted as liberators" wishful thinking. It was then that I realized the inherent dishoensty and delusion of the pro-war faction and that our efforts were doomed.

As for the rest of "ex-liberal"'s bullshit -- such as conflating Bill Clinton's pre-Desert Fox claims with Bush's -- it's been debunked time and time again, but that doesn't stop "ex-liberal" from pissing on the floor again. Besides realizing you're a lying neocon toad, "ex-liberal," no one mistakes you for a civil commentator either.

What were liberals focused on right after Saddam's overthrow? Not the insurgency. Liberals were going on endlessly about the alleged looting of some museum artifacts.

Liverals were correct -- and correctly appalled -- at the failure of Bush and Rumsfeld to establish a minimum of civil order in Iraq -- a fact that the nascent insurgency took advantage of. But you know that, you lying toad.

let's give Gen. Petraeus the benefit of a doubt and keep an open mind until Semtember to see what the surge has and has not accomplished.

Irony alert: "ex-liberal" calling for keeping an open mind.

Bullshit, "ex-liberal." Your calls to give Petraeus the benefit of the doubt until September is nothing more than a tacit admission that things look mighty bad right now, despite the US's investment of blood and treasure on the so-called "surge". And given your history of bad faith in this dicussion, it's only right to note that you, like Marler, will no doubt poitn to some bullshit, weak-ass "signs of progress" and ignore the fact that the US has failed to restore order to Iraq, failed to train the Iraqi security forces to keep order and failed to infuence the feckless Iraqi leadership to govern themselves. In short, you're laying the groundwork for more disingenuous calles for enough Freidman Units to punt this mess into the next President's lap so you can rpetend Bush didn't lose Iraq.

That dog won't hunt, "ex-liberal." Petraeus has til September, all right -- to succeed, not to "make progress." The American people have already decided this disaster isn't worth any more American blood and treasure -- not that you care -- and they also know that the disaster in Iraq is to be blamed squarely on Bush, the neocons, and their Republican enablers. The Republcian Party won't be trusted with national security for a generation. Suck on that, "ex-liberal."

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter "ex-liberal": Repeating a lie makes it the truth...at least I hope so.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

What's most interesting about this exchange is that we've come up with any number of reasons to be pessimistic about "the surge." Dear little ex-liberal, on the other hand, has not been able to come up with even one single reason why we should be optimistic, why there is any hope at all that anything will be different in September. All he has to offer is the same old long-discredited talking points and ad hominem attacks.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB wrote: All he has to offer is the same old long-discredited talking points and ad hominem attacks.

Are you kidding? That's all "ex-liberal" ever has.

"ex-liberal"'s posts are such blatant, dishonest necon propaganda that it's tempting to consider him/her/it a performance artist out to discredit the neocons with such lame "advocacy." (What compels -- or motivates -- "ex-liberal" to ensure that the dishonest neocon position is represented on Kevin's blog is something I'm not privy to. I do suspect that the moderators let his/her/its comments stand as just such a discrediting tactic.

But no -- the obvious relish "ex-liberal" takes in insulting the commentors here with such mendacious, repeptitive drivel is too revealing -- indeed, "ex-liberal"'s very handle is a deliberate insult. It's true "ex-liberal" avoids profantiy, in keeping with the right's dishoenst definition of "civil" discourse, all the while dispensing the vilest insults, but it's amazing he/she/it ever fooled anyone as a "civil" comnmentator, let alone an honest one.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Are you kidding? That's all 'ex-liberal' ever has."

True, in general; I was simply referring to his dismally lame performance on this thread. Hell, I could argue his side far more convincingly than he has been able to do thus far. I was really highlighting the fact that he seems to be just phoning it in.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Dear little ex-liberal, on the other hand, has not been able to come up with even one single reason why we should be optimistic...

Yes. It's as if Some folks have an almost religious faith in the conclusion that things will be better if the US [stays in] Iraq.

Posted by: ckelly on May 29, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB: has not been able to come up with even one single reason why we should be optimistic, why there is any hope at all that anything will be different in September.

PaulB, I'm not terribly optimistic. But, there is some hope that things may be different in September, because of

-- Petraeus's expertise,
-- the new plan,
-- additoinal troops,
-- different Rules of Engagement,
-- the dramatic improvement in Anbar, and
-- the moderate improvement in Baghdad

If real, substantial improvement isn't visible in September, I think the US will throw in the towel. But, I intend to wait until then to make up my mind.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I was really highlighting the fact that he seems to be just phoning it in.

Oh, I know; it seems as if "ex-liberal" has been doing so for a while now. And small wonder, given how ever more discredited the neocon position is as time passes.

And yet, "ex-liberal" seems to be compelled -- or motivated -- to repeatedly post bogus neocon propaganda. One wonders why...

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: there is some hope that things may be different in September

Of course, "ex-liberal" glides right over the fact that he/she/it is asking -- no, insisting -- that American families sacrifice their loved ones and treasure in pursuit of this "hope". Which is surprising, in a way, because "ex-liberal" has already gloated about the fact that none of his/her/its blood or treasure is at stake.

because of blah blah blah

Of course, "ex-liberal" glides right over -- yet again! -- the point that there aren't enough troops in the so-called "surge" by Petraeus' own previous estimations, as well as the surging violence elsewhere that offsets the marginal improvements he/she/it points to -- because we don't have enough troops -- as well as the fact that, again, US service members are dying at an increased rate in this so-called "surge."

In short, "ex-liberal"'s post is already a stinking compost heap of dishonesty, and we aren't even halfway through.

If real, substantial improvement isn't visible in September

Again -- "improvement" isn't good enough. Of course, this point has already been made, and once again "ex-liberal" ignores it.

I think the US will throw in the towel.

Way to phrase that, "ex-liberal." But not so fast! No one cares what you "think" the US will do -- even here you're implying that you'll disagree with this course of action, despite your efforts in this very comments to pretend you're some kind of reasonable, commentator.

(That's okay, "ex-liberal," no one believed you anyway.)

But, I intend to wait until then to make up my mind.

No one believes you about that, either.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

"PaulB, I'm not terribly optimistic. But, there is some hope that things may be different in September, because of"

"-- Petraeus's expertise,"

Already covered above, dear, in several points that you have yet to acknowledge, much less respond to.

"-- the new plan,"

It's not really new, dear; it's just more of the same. There have been half a dozen "new plans" in Iraq over the past four years and every single one of them has just more of the same -- variations on a theme.

"-- additoinal troops,"

We've had this many troops in Iraq before, dear, several times. How well did that work out?

"-- different Rules of Engagement,"

You know, I keep hearing about this but it's amazing how difficult it is to find any specifics on just what, if anything, changed. Lots and lots of rhetoric about how much "tougher" the new rules are, but a most interesting lack of detail, and a distressing lack of any real discussion on how these new, "tougher" rules of engagement are actually supposed to help matters in Iraq, as compared to, say, pissing off those who were on the fence and making more of them into enemies.

"-- the dramatic improvement in Anbar, and
-- the moderate improvement in Baghdad
"

Already covered above, dear, in several points that you have yet to acknowledge, much less respond to.

"If real, substantial improvement isn't visible in September"

... you will be right back here spouting the same old tired arguments and ad hominem attacks, and insisting that we give "the surge" a real chance to work.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory: Of course, "ex-liberal" glides right over the fact that he/she/it is asking -- no, insisting -- that American families sacrifice their loved ones and treasure in pursuit of this "hope".

That decision has already been made by George Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

What I'm asking is for people to keep and open mind when they receive the September evaluation.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: That decision has already been made by George Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Bullshit. Congress gave Bush the funding he insisted on, but only after Bush made crystal clear that he would never accept any withdrawal language. But Bush could withdraw the troops at any time -- the responsibility for this clusterfuck is his and his alone.

You really do take a sick pleasure in lying here, don't you?

What I'm asking is for people to keep and open mind when they receive the September evaluation

Yeah, yeah, so you said, and yet you ignore my point about how ironic it is for you to be asking for an open mind, you ignore the many indicators that -- despite some perennial, isolated data points cited as "progress" -- all we're getting for our lives and treasure wasted in Iraq is chaos, you ignore the repeated point that "progress" alone isn't acceptable and not grounds for asking for the continued sacrifice of American lives and treasure to salvage Bush's legacy; you ignore, indeed, my point that the price you ask for -- no, insist on -- is families losing sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands and wives, and you ignore the many, many points from me, PaulB and, oh, everyone else about how your dishonest rhetoric so far leaves no room for optimism that you'll post honestly in the future, so your deal is a mug's game.

Indeed, "ex-liberal", your latest dishonesty -- both in what you said, and in what you failed to say -- is further evidence that the only thing we'll get for our lives and treasure is more dishonesty from you. No, thanks, "ex-liberal"; you've utterly failed to demonstrate that your critics here are less credibile than you in evaluating Bush's failure in Iraq; indeed, you keep providing evidence of your own lack of credibility.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB, here's a fascinating article about how things are different in a particular section of Iraq.

http://www.outsidethewire.com/blog/outside-the-wire/kharmah-awakens.html

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: here's a fascinating article about how things are different in a particular section of Iraq

Funny...after being told I don't know how many times told that isolated data points of "progress" amid a larger picture of disastrous, bloody, costly failure are not just not convincing but unconvincing, "ex-liberal" provides yet another isolated data points of "progress" amid a larger picture of disastrous, bloody, costly failure -- as if he/she/it had any credibility at all, no less!

You really do take a sick pleasure at commenting here in bad faith, don't you, "ex-liberal"?

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

"PaulB, here's a fascinating article about how things are different in a particular section of Iraq."

Sigh... This is nothing new, dear; in fact, the story about the Sunni's getting tired of al Qaeda predates "the surge". Moreover, it's almost entirely unrelated to any talk about our chances of success in bringing an end to the civil war in Iraq.

The post you cite has its own cautionary notice built right in:

"But many [people] think after a five-day-junket and a few power point presentations they can make sweeping pronouncements that they understand Iraq. Which makes them fools and possibly liars."

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, whether or not the cited article is convincing, it is informative and fascinating. Please read it.

http://www.outsidethewire.com/blog/outside-the-wire/kharmah-awakens.html

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

"That decision has already been made by George Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."

Nice try, dear heart, but this is Bush's war and Bush's war alone. Pelosi and Reid have nothing to do with it.

"What I'm asking is for people to keep and open mind when they receive the September evaluation."

No dear, you're asking people to ignore history and reality. And you are, of course, lying about what will happen in September.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Gregory, whether or not the cited article is convincing, it is informative and fascinating."

Dear heart, it is neither new nor particularly informative, not to anyone who has been paying attention for the past four years. Nor is it particularly fascinating, unless you are as easily moved as a child.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB, yes I was moved by tragedy and heroism in the battle. (description copied below) If being sympathetic to Iraqi bravery and suffering makes me childllike, so be it.

The explosion from the semi-tractor-trailer bomb was heard miles away as a pillar of dust and smoke rose over Shiabi on cool February day.

"It rocked OP Delta and Camp Fallujah 5 clicks away," said Captain Matthew Gregory, Commanding Officer of Able Company of the 3-509 Airborne.

AQIZ had attacked the village of Shiabi.

The men of the village saw the tractor trailer rig as it rumbled down the dirt road. There was no reason for a tractor trailer to come through Shihabi. After it ran a small check point they opened fire and the tanker full of gasoline and HME exploded into a ball of flames.

The awakening survived its first test.

The paratroopers of Able Company went to the village of Shihabi that day. The Company's main focus was on the east side of the Kharma road near Subayet and were taken by surprise that a neighborhood watch had sprung up on their western flank.

"They were just working Shihabi #1 then," Gregory explained. "Their fighting positions were small and weak. After looking at what they were trying to do I offered them support to build up their check points and gun positions but they declined then."

Over the next few months the relationship between Able Company and the leadership of the neighborhood watch grew but the men of Shihabi still declined much of the assisstance Captain Gregory offered--until May 7th.


J.D. with members of the Shihabi PSF at one of their check points
near Kharma)

"We received a radio call to be QRF at the Kharmah IP station and OP 3. As we made our way north on the Kharmah road we encountered a set of IEDs. As we cleared the IEDs we saw a half dozen IP pickup trucks heading for us. We couldn't figure out what was going on," Gregory said.

The IPs, some of whom have deep tribal ties to Shihabi knew what was going on--AQIZ was executing a complex attack on Shihabi #1 and #3.

The check point at Shihabi #3 was overrun and AQIZ gunmen were executing men and blew up a house.

In Shihabi #1, a full on fire-fight was raging as AQIZ entered the town with two DshKa anti-aircraft machine guns mounted on Bongo trucks.

"They came to kill everyone and destroy my home," one of the men who fought that day said.

As Able Company and the IPs raced down the Shihabi road they encountered more IEDs.

"We met up with the Regimental QRF from Team Tank and cut across the desert," Gregory said.

Two suicide bomber on foot raced toward General Sadoon--his standing up to AQIZ was unforgivable to the terrorists.

One blew himself up but failed to kill the General. Another was gunned down.

"We entered the village and spotted the two Bongo trucks. They saw us and tried to get out of town fast."

The two trucks were cornered near a palm grove when the tanks and the Paratroopers caught up with them and decisively engaged the AQIZ gunmen.

"After that half victory the militiamen were shooting

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: whether or not the cited article is convincing, it is informative and fascinating.

Again doubtful, given that "ex-liberal" is neither convincing, informative nor fascinating. It'as amusing, though, to see "ex-liberal" continue to pretend that his/her/its endorsement is worth more than a bucket of piss.

But again, whether one Marine unit is experiencing local successes is irrelelvent given Bush's abject failures on the strategic level. By insisting on not sending enough troops to capitalize on these successes, Bush undermines whatever so-called "progress" is made -- as we've seen, as Paul and I (among others) have remarked to you in this thread, and as you continue, dishonestly, to ignore.

No one questions that you dishonest neocon war supporters will be able to point to some isolated data point of "progress." Indeed, we predicted it -- and here you are, proving us right again. In your desperation to justify the continued loss of lives and treasure based on the "hope" that the political legacy of Bush and the neocons won't be as discredited as you do to yourself here on a constant basis, you're just jumping the gun a bit.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB, yes I was moved by tragedy and heroism in the battle. (description copied below) If being sympathetic to Iraqi bravery and suffering makes me childllike, so be it.

The thing is, "ex-liberal," no one here believes you. For one thing, you've proven that you're perfectly willing to ignore the Iraqi suffering brought about as a result of Bush's disastrous war, except when it allows you to make a cheap, last-ditch appeal to emotion.

Thanks for admitting, tacitly, by your feeble attempt to change the subject to your mawkish and insinciere appeal to emotion, that you have no cogent response to your critics in this thread, and so you hide behind the blood and suffering of men whose boots you aren't fit to lick -- as if you weren't too busy licking Bush's, you pathetic, disgusting, dishonest neocon toad.

The thing is, "ex-liberal," we already knew you didn't have an honest answer, and you'd rather give a dishonest one anyway. Shame on you for once again living down to your sullied reputation.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

"PaulB, yes I was moved by tragedy and heroism in the battle."

ROFL... Oh my... This is just too funny. I wonder if the dear little fellow realizes just how transparent his attempts are or how many logical fallacies he's committing or how silly he sounds?

"If being sympathetic to Iraqi bravery and suffering makes me childllike, so be it."

ROFLMAO... Ever the drama queen, dear? Careful, you'll end up taking Charlie's crown away from him and he won't like that.

Oh, and dear heart, I'm not making fun of the Iraqis nor of our servicemen, I'm making fun of you. Do try to understand the difference before you reply.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, dear heart, I'm still waiting for you to address any of the points I raised in this thread. You can begin with this one about that story that you found so "moving" in your childlike way.

This is nothing new, dear; in fact, the story about the Sunni's getting tired of al Qaeda predates "the surge". Moreover, it's almost entirely unrelated to any talk about our chances of success in bringing an end to the civil war in Iraq.

You can then move on to a discussion of Petraeus's capabilities, his past history, including his failures, who proposed and is responsible for "the surge," and all the other reasons why pessimism is warranted in Iraq, not to mention the documented fact that the U.S. government and the Iraqi government are colluding to lie and/or hide the real data about what is currently occurring in Baghdad.

We'll be here, dear, but trust us, we will not be holding our breaths.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

My house is not a dump truck!

It's a layer cake baked on Veco's dime!

Posted by: Ted Stevens on May 29, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

"...making progress in al Anbar...."

Seeing how these guys never leave mommy's basement I was wondering if they might mean Ann Arbor.

Anyway, the best part of that article was the sheiks' suggestion. Halve security force pay, double their numbers. No mention of equipment costs, etc.

I don't know what the US official interpretation would be, but I see that as the sheiks trying to maximize their own forces and a prelude to even greater violence. Hope we've gone beyond the naivity of arresting all the Sunnis that Shias tell us are insurgents; and vice versa.

I haven't heard much follow on to increasing the security force and police numbers, but if they can't be trained to be non-sectarian or discliplined to the government, the bigger the forces the more the violence coming down the road.

Today I was listening to a US general talking about having to give the Iraqis all the support and ancilliary capabilities.

Bigger Lebanon SNAFU, anyone?

Posted by: notthere on May 29, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't know what the US official interpretation would be, but I see that as the sheiks trying to maximize their own forces and a prelude to even greater violence"

I wouldn't go that far, but it certainly highlights the fact that every bit of "good" news has multiple interpretations and that there are any number of landmines still waiting in the road ahead. For the former, consider that it's perfectly reasonable for tribal leaders of all stripes to want to maximize their power, regardless of the potential outcome in Iraq. If "the surge" should have some impact on the violence, they'll come out ahead with their cooperation. And if it should fall by the wayside, as every other effort has, they'll be better prepared to deal with the chaos and protect their own turf. In fact, I regard the most likely outcome in Iraq to be on the order of things we've seen in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Lebanon -- a fragmentation of the country into bickering interest groups and warlords (absent another Saddam, of course).

For the latter, consider that one of our biggest Catch-22s in Iraq is the issue of equipment. On the one hand, the Iraqi security forces legitimately need all the equipment they can get to maintain order. Without such equipment, including at least some of the advanced weaponry and vehicles that we use, their task is made incredibly more difficult, perhaps even impossible. On the other hand, we simply do not, and cannot, trust the Iraqi security forces to keep that equipment out of the hands of the militias, meaning that it could, and likely would, be used against us.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

It takes a true artist to create as pernicious an atrocity as George Bush's Iraq. Like a Chinese finger trap it was only too easy to get in. Now, Bush is not entirely wrong to say that the consequences of our leaving "would be catastrophic." At least he tacitly cops to creating a hellish nightmare.

Still, leaving appears the best of bad choices.

I found it devastating to read at TPM over the weekend about Douglas Feith's 1-minute job interview of Patrick Lang. Lang had outstanding expertise with Arab language and culture and was rejected by Feith explicitly on account of that expertise. All of a piece with--to take another example--Lawrence Wright's observation (seen in an interview he did with the Huffington Post) that 6 and a half years after 9/11 there are only 12 Muslims employed by the 38,000-member FBI.

Posted by: obscure on May 29, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

5 and half years. Sorry.

Posted by: obscure on May 29, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting report from an embedded journalist at http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/05/featured_report_from_1.php

This report tries to be balanced, although I think it's a bit more negative than positive.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

This report tries to be balanced, although I think it's a bit more negative than positive.

Huh, I wonder if this author who admits that things are bad in Iraq but that we should shoulder anyway on was pushing a point of view? According to his biography, he is a born again Christian who has appeared on the following shows:

Gartenstein-Ross frequently appears on TV and talk radio to discuss terrorism and religious radicalism. Recent media appearances include al-Jazeera, Hannity & Colmes (Fox News), Paula Zahn Now (CNN), Glenn Beck on Headline News (CNN), Your World with Neil Cavuto (Fox News), The 700 Club (CBN), ABC News Now, PBS, ABC News Now NPR, The Laura Ingraham Show, The Radio Factor with Bill O’Reilly, The Dennis Prager Show and The Michael MedvedShow.

Anyone see a pattern there? Seems like there's something I just can't put my finger on....

Posted by: trex on May 29, 2007 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Still can't deal with the points we raised, faux-lib? What's the matter, weren't they on your sheet of talking points this morning? LOL....

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Anyone see a pattern there?"

It's also worth a visit to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies website, since that reporter is a senior fellow with that organization. The What They're Saying About FDD page is particularly telling.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Still, leaving appears the best of bad choices."

Ah, there's the rub. We simply do not have any good choices left when it comes to Iraq. We are well and truly screwed, which is why the Bush administration is trying to lower expectations for September and why folks like faux-lib will be back here then calling us all the usual names, pointing to some limited and ephemeral success stories, and insisting that we need more time.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

The What They're Saying About FDD page is particularly telling.

Great catch, Paul! That list of commentators praising FDD reads like a Who's Who of felons who should be variously:

a)impeached
b)fired
c)exiled
d)brought up on profittering charges
e)tried for war crimes, or
f) all of the above

Posted by: trex on May 29, 2007 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that dear little faux-lib still cannot acknowledge, much less address, is that I can easily find dozens of similar stories to the two he's cited, going back three years or more.

Every new operation in Iraq has yielded another round of positive stories, another round of, "well, we're really close now and we just need to give it a little more time," another round of, "in six months, we really should know whether we're succeeding or failing," another round of stories about "average Iraqis who just want to get on with their lives," and on and on and on.

And every single one of those "success stories," touted at the time by faux-lib and those like him, proved to be either irrelevant, bogus, or short-lived. So why should the "success stories" referenced by him today prove to be any different? He has no answer because there is no answer. And the fact that he has been wrong every single time he's posted about these "success stories" never seems to occur to him.

So no, faux-lib, neither you nor the Bush administration get the benefit of a doubt any longer. We've been here before. We've seen the results. And our country has paid the price in any number of ways, a cost you have never been able to bring yourself to talk about.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Great catch, Paul! That list of commentators praising FDD reads like a Who's Who of felons who should be variously:"

In all honesty, the piece itself isn't bad and the reporter sort of acknowledges the limits to his knowledge of and information about Iraq. I'd regard it as written from a partisan viewpoint but with an effort to be somewhat fair. Probably its biggest problem is that it relies too heavily on propaganda, something that we saw far too much of from most of the embedded reporters. It also doesn't really address any of the objections that most of us have when it comes to "the surge."

And, of course, what it does not deal with, what none of these reports deal with, is the cost of staying.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Great catch, Paul! That list of commentators praising FDD reads like a Who's Who of felons who should be variously:"

The various senior officials of the foundation are rather interesting, as well. While there are indeed some Democratic names in the list, this is pretty clearly a neocon organization.

And, hell, any organization that lists Victoria Toensing as a Senior Fellow has pretty much blown its right to any serious consideration right there.

Posted by: PaulB on May 29, 2007 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Your points are well taken.

And, of course, what it does not deal with, what none of these reports deal with, is the cost of staying.

I'd also argue that it appeals to the "complexity" argument so often employed here by the 28%-ers, to wit:

"The occuption of Iraq is a really complex situation so we have to ignore the undeniable downward trends in the hopes that out of some future complexity a solution will arise that redeems both Bush and our support of him and that will absolve any and all costs arising from this holy endeavor."

Posted by: trex on May 29, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'd agree with that. Also, the "there is some good news" argument:

"The surge has yielded a few positive results so we have to ignore the fact that every operation in Iraq has yielded a few initial positive results only to falter when a new wave of violence hits or when the insurgency adapts to our new tactics or when the insurgency abandons one location only to pop up in another."

Been there, done that.

Posted by: PaulB on May 30, 2007 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting report from an embedded journalist http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/05/featured_report_from_1.php

This report tries to be balanced, although I think it's a bit more negative than positive.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 29, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Effing, fucking brilliant.

This journalist, reaching the end of his embedded tour, takes a strategic analysis, time to Iraq taking over, from...wait for it...a

staff

sargent.

!!!

Now, these guys are the salt of the earth. But he and I are laughing still.

Never-ever, you are such an ass. You don't even know.

And then you think the report is too negative! But no reasoning.

Well no. Of course not. Never-ever never ever has any reason. Just prejudgement.

Posted by: notthere on May 30, 2007 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting report from an embedded journalist blah blah blah

Good Ford..."ex-liberal" simply ignores the criticism and posts yet another link -- to billroggio, yet! -- and his/her/its worthless opinions sbout "balance".

You really do take a sick pleasure in posting in insultingly bad faith here, don't you, "ex-liberal"?

Posted by: Gregory on May 30, 2007 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

PaulB wrote: The thing that dear little faux-lib still cannot acknowledge, much less address, is that I can easily find dozens of similar stories to the two he's cited, going back three years or more.

Every new operation in Iraq has yielded another round of positive stories, another round of, "well, we're really close now and we just need to give it a little more time," another round of, "in six months, we really should know whether we're succeeding or failing," another round of stories about "average Iraqis who just want to get on with their lives," and on and on and on.

Precisely. Note that "ex-liberal" has completely and dishonestly ignored the thrust of the responses to his/her/its posts: No one is denying that the war supporters can point to some spurious, isolated data point of "progress"; indeed, you, me and several others have noted that "ex-liberal" has done so in the past and predicted that he/she/it will do so in the future. And "ex-liberal" has proven us right in this very thread, without addressing the meta criticism that his/her/its posts are worthless (but then again, he/she/it never does...).

Obviously, "ex-liberal" isn't trying to be persuasive, but instead is simply posting neocon talking points.

Posted by: Gregory on May 30, 2007 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly