Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 4, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE BITTER END....It's a common refrain among liberals that the best way to "support the troops" is to get them out of Iraq and bring them home. In the current issue of the Monthly, Spencer Ackerman says plainly that this is rubbish:

Haunted by Vietnam, Democrats are determined to express support for the troops. This is admirable. The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight.

....Democrats have made the decision — rightly, I think — that withdrawing from Iraq is the least bad of many bad options. But they shouldn't kid themselves into thinking that a majority of the troops doing the fighting agree with them. For soldiers like Lieutenant Wellman, this will be hard to accept. As he told me of war doubters back home, "I don't want them to just support the troops. I want them to support the mission." This matters, because pretending that in ending the war they're doing the troops a favor hurts Democrats politically. They risk looking condescending, and, worse, oblivious — which has the broader effect of undermining public trust in the Democrats to handle national security. More basically, it does a disservice to those who serve. For soldiers who are optimistic, being told that the war can't be won is bad enough. But to be told that politicians are doing them a favor by extricating them from a mission they believe in is downright insulting.

This is God's own truth. Ditto for the Democratic obsession with using better body armor, higher GI pay, or the quality of military medical care as proxies for "supporting the troops." As with leaving Iraq, these are all good things to support. But they're good things on their own terms, not because anyone in uniform will be fooled into thinking that voting for them means you support the military. It's the equivalent of Democrats who thought that John Kerry had automatic credibility on national security just because he was a Vietnam vet.

Telling the truth, as usual, is better: we need to leave Iraq not because we think the troops need rescuing, but because we think that leaving is what's best for our national security. And in the future? Our message should be that we'll support the troops by making sure that we send them into war only with proper leadership, proper planning, and when the national security of the United States is genuinely at risk. On all these counts both the civilian and uniformed leadership of the military has let down the troops in Iraq. We need to promise that we won't do the same on our watch.

Kevin Drum 1:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (149)

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Kevin, I generally agree with your analysis. However, if most of the troops (who volunteered) want to "win" something that may not be winnable, isn't this just a tad expensive for us taxpayers who are funding all of this futility? We've created plenty of enemies to complicate national security for years and years, but the money$$$?? This just isn't paying back.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 4, 2007 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

I don't support the mission.

The mission, the occupation of a nation that has done us no harm, is fucked up in the first place.

So, sorry troops, you were sent on a bad mission by a cabal of idiots and monsters.

That may not be a pleasant truth to face, but it's the truth.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on June 4, 2007 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Military policy is not yet decided by the troops, or even their commanders. That should never be, as it has never been, in this country. The military is a tool, which by its very nature, is biased almost irrevocably in favor of what they are doing; they are like a team conditioned, as they must be, to succeed.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on June 4, 2007 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK


Frankly, that's bollocks. They don't swear an oath to a mission.

What the troops want is not necessarily the best thing for themselves and definitely not necessarily best for the country.

We need the troops to be intensely committed to the mission. But we can't just let them loose like a power saw with the trigger taped down. That may just result in a burned out, depleted military.

We at home need to have the courage and wisdom to know when to pull them back, no matter what they want - which, in fact, may be warped by being in the heat of battle or the desire for retribution.

I'm sure there were soldiers at Dunkirk who thought for sure they could beat the Germans if they hadn't had to get on the boats. Could they have? No. Would it have served any purpose? No.

It isn't even combat-specific: There have been plenty of hopeless IT projects where the engineers were damned sure they would finally ship this time, and damn the management for canceling it!

Posted by: Jon H on June 4, 2007 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the Doctor. I can't support something that is wrong from the get-go, that harms our standing in the world at large, and would be advancing bad principles even if it were "winnable", whatever that means. We don't send troops to fight and die simply to "support" them, but for specific causes. And this one stinks. Big time.

Posted by: Kenji on June 4, 2007 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

There is truth to these arguments.

At the same time, no account arguing for withdrawal will "support the troops" in the way described. Taken too far, this would amount to delegating foreign affairs to the active duty forces abroad. Clearly, you're not arguing for that. But you shouldn't kid yourself that your account is any more "supporting the troops" than the one the Democrats currently are offering.

Further, one benefit to the current approach is that it is VERY difficult to paint the Democratic Left as anti-military. Compare this situation to Vietnam - the leftist position was often explicitly anti-military, and everyone knew it. Today, even the wingers mostly argue that the Left is insanely anti-Bush - they don't claim we're anti-military.

Posted by: MDtoMN on June 4, 2007 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that there are many soldiers who want the mission to be supported. But the large number of soldiers who recently wanted to ask Joe Lieberman "when are we going home" wanted to know "when are we going home".

So declare victory and go home. Praise the troops for defeating Saddam Hussein, and turn the fight over to the Iraqis.

Posted by: Joe Buck on June 4, 2007 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK


Consider this:

Lt. Wellman's dedication to 'the mission' would, I'm sure, evaporate if Venuezuealan tanks and planes were invading Texas and Arizona across the Mexican border.

Why, I'm fairly certain his attitude would quite quickly shift to "why am I wasting my time here in Iraq when my country is being invaded?"

Well, that's what we need. A redeployment to a critical new mission on the home front, a crucial mission of R&R, retraining, and rebuilding.

Posted by: Jon H on June 4, 2007 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

This concept of supporting the mission, regardless of how messed up it is, reminds me of my neighbor, an old Viet Nam vet.

He clings to the belief that we could have won in Viet Nam and that we should have stayed until we did. The number of Vietnamese we would have killed if we had stayed is irrelevant to him. (He won't do business with Vietnamese here in America, to give an idea of his mindset.) Personally, I think he needs to believe that his buddies died for a mission that wasn't a lost cause. And maybe more importantly, he needs to believe that he didn't kill some number of people for effectively no reason at all.

Troops don't set military policy, civilian leadership does. And I think part of the reason it has to be that way is that, at some point, military people will continue a lost mission because their personal honor is at stake, regardless of the cost in lives and treasure.

Posted by: Wapiti on June 4, 2007 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

"The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight."

This is probably not true. Even back in December, this Military Times poll of active duty personnel was only slightly kinder to Bush than the general population was.

I think an emotional note about taking care of the troops has to be struck, but not in isolation. It can't be presented as the rationale behind the decision. However, if the emotional manipulation in alleging that Democrats do not "supporting the troops" is unanswered by an equivalent emotional appeal, then we're not presenting the argument as well as we should and can.

Posted by: Wagster on June 4, 2007 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

"I don't want them to just support the troops. I want them to support the mission."

What kind of babies are these people?

They're brainwashed babies.

You can't take the views on what they're doing of soldiers in combat seriously, they're cutting ears off as trophies. But Republicans, universally, want us to think the conditions of soldiers in combat reflect normal life.

Posted by: cld on June 4, 2007 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Telling the truth, as usual, is better: we need to leave Iraq not because we think the troops need rescuing, but because we think that leaving is what's best for our national security."

Who the heck thinks the troops need rescuing. Has anyone ever said that, Kevin?

Believing that the troops are dying for no good reason and that they should not be held in that position is not the same thing as saying they need to be rescued.

It's not 'rescue' if the situation they're in is entirely under your control.

Posted by: Jon H on June 4, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

The troops may want to "win" the mission, but they certainly do not like it when their stays are extended. The 60 minutes episode last weekend was rather telling. Interestingly, the extensions required for the surge coincided with the military sharply limiting internet/email usage.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 4, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Look! A majority of the troops supported going into Iraq in the first place. Did that make it the right thing to do? No. Obviously.

War is not about what the troops think is right.

Not only was the going into Iraq a bad decision at that time, continuing to think you are waging a war now -- and doing so -- is the wrong thing at this time.

As I've said before, framing the present as a war brings the situation into the wrong focus.

Iraq should have been put under civil control after Saddam was toplled. It's taken the Army 4 whole years to start admitting that it's politics on the ground as well in the airified Green zone that counts.

And we could all go on and on about the littany of mistakes made and the lack of awareness and direction from the top, but putting this in the refeerence of a military win or lose option is excusing the politicians from the responsibility they should be taking, and that the media should be exposing them on.

This is a political solution situation and the troops need to come out over a relatively short time in an orderly manner.

And this could all have started 4 years ago if the present incumbent had had an honest agenda that he had made us all aware of and could get behind. Hell! I really don't think they've had a plan or know what they are doing since it all gang aglie in May '03.

There will be no actual solution until there is a new commnader as the Demopcratic party are not going to force his hand unless the Republicans help them.

Wooses.

Posted by: notthere on June 4, 2007 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin. Also, I think the Democrats' focus caused them to lose sight of what might have been both a good policy and devastating rhetorical strategy: to advocate sending the troops NOT home, but to Afghanistan (I don't literally mean sending all of our troops there, but that Democrats could have advocated a surge in Afghanistan made possible by a drawdown in Iraq). Democrats might have transformed the whole anti-terrorism issue as not being about whether to keep fighting, but about WHERE to fight, where to surge. The point would be that Republicans are soft on Afghanistan, which ties in to the original failure to find Bin Laden at Tora Bora because Bush pulled troops out to get ready for Iraq.

But Democrats instead preferred the arguments that we should relieve our soldiers of fighting, which foreclosed this possibility. There are compelling reasons to relieve our soldiers of the burden they've been carrying, but I don't think this policy is ultimately the best.

Posted by: RiMac on June 4, 2007 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

Wagster,

One slight disagreement with the Military Times Poll that you site. Just because they disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, or they say we should not have gone in the first place, is not the same as "wanting to leave Iraq." I think that what the Ackerman article is saying is that the troops might not like the war, or how it's going, but they will stay until "victory" is achieved - whatever that means.

Posted by: adlsad on June 4, 2007 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin. Also, I think the Democrats' focus caused them to lose sight of what might have been both a good policy and devastating rhetorical strategy: to advocate sending the troops NOT home, but to Afghanistan (I don't literally mean sending all of our troops there, but that Democrats could have advocated a surge in Afghanistan made possible by a drawdown in Iraq). Democrats might have transformed the whole anti-terrorism issue as not being about whether to keep fighting, but about WHERE to fight, where to surge. The point would be that Republicans are soft on Afghanistan, which ties in to the original failure to find Bin Laden at Tora Bora because Bush pulled troops out to get ready for Iraq.

But Democrats instead preferred the arguments that we should relieve our soldiers of fighting, which foreclosed this possibility. There are compelling reasons to relieve our soldiers of the burden they've been carrying, but I don't think this policy is ultimately the best.

Posted by: RiMac on June 4, 2007 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

"But Democrats instead preferred the arguments that we should relieve our soldiers of fighting, which foreclosed this possibility. "

Nobody has suggested pulling out of Afghanistan.

If we pulled out of Iraq - and stopped sending so many fresh troops to Iraq - there'd be plenty of troops to increase deployments in Afghanistan without sending much of anyone directly from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Posted by: Jon H on June 4, 2007 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

To put it another way, RiMac, there are over 5 times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan. We could probably bring everyone in Iraq home, and only deploy people to Afghanistan after a decent break (or as fresh recruits on a first tour), and easily double the deployment there.

Afghanistan probably doesn't have the infrastructure to support much more than that.

Posted by: Jon H on June 4, 2007 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin and most of the posters on this discussion board. However, I would like to make two comments.

First, I think that most Democrats, the Democrat leadership, and most progressives in the U.S. sincerely support the troops, even though they don't support the war. I think that most progressives (and this is through anecdotal evidence) have learned lessons from the Vietnam era and have made a concientious effort to be nicer and more respectful to the men and women of our armed forces.

Second, I think that one additional thing I want to add to Kevin's post is that I think Democrats should also focus on resource allocation of the Department of Defense budget. When Republicans say, "let's support the troops by increasing defence spending," it is my understanding that most of that money does not go to "the troops." Instead it goes to developing weapon systems, purchasing aircraft carriers, etc. It does not go to health services, body armor, or things to help the soldiers on the ground. If there is someone who has more information and more knowledge of military affairs, that can back this up, the information would be helpful. I think allocating more resources to help the troops as opposed to the military industrial complex, might help our image with the military.

Posted by: adlsad on June 4, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

We must demand that Al Gore run. The realistic alternatives are Hillary, who has tremendous negatives and is hardly economically liberal, and Obama who has an undistinguished and limited record(forget the South). I'm assuming Edwards can't
get the nomination and as soon as I say that I think that he has it sans Gore(I picked Carter for the nom REALLY early). There you go place your bets.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on June 4, 2007 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

A good post, KD.

Some Democrats are still stuck in a 1975 mindset. "Support the troops, bring them home" seems to be their attempt to make amends for 30 years of anti-military, anti-war hostility; But the mindset is reactionary, set on righting the injuries of an old war rather than confronting the reality of this one.

Posted by: PTate in FR on June 4, 2007 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Any statistics to back up the claim that most of the troops want to stay in Iraq?

Also, if anything is condescending, it's this statement:

Telling the truth, as usual, is better: we need to leave Iraq not because we think the troops need rescuing, but because we think that leaving is what's best for our national security.

Did the troops order themselves to Iraq? I don't think so. They are the tools - not the arbiters - of foreign policy. That is why they have to obey the orders of the civilian leadership. It's that leadership that sent them to Iraq, and it going to have to be that leadership to order them out. The fact is that getting them out DOES rescue many who would otherwise lose life, limb or sanity AND it's the best thing for our national security.

Honest.

Posted by: chuck on June 4, 2007 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

The all volunteer military is a bad idea. It's a mindless, obedient tool apparently. Draftees and their parents would have gotten us out of Iraq years ago.

Washington would have difficulty using a citizen army against the people in the future, but seeing how obedient the armed forces are to the chain of command in this loony war for imaginary WMD fomented by Israel loyalists makes me ruminate if they aren't too much a tool of government.

I'm sure they are a much finer fighting force than a draft army, but with 10,000 nuclear warheads, exactly who is going to attack us militarily? And to be objective, the primacy of our armed forces comes from the engineering staffs of the defense contractors (at great and unnecessary expense) and not from the cannon fodder, brave as they may be.

Posted by: Luther on June 4, 2007 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

Put a pillow in front of your head before your read on....

Listenin to BBC. China is making pills to sell throughout Asia that are placebos. Free unregulated market play; seems like it to me.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on June 4, 2007 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

Hogwash. Please, everyone - just stop. This entire topic is a Republican tar baby; no matter how you touch it, you're going to get stuck.

First, the premise is suspect at best; in all likelihood it's just flat wrong. I think most of the troops do want to go home (you can guarantee that support for the extended tours is slim to none). The military didn't put a vice clamp on access to the internet because the troops are being upbeat about the war.

Second, the premise is contrived to bait people into agreeing with staying in Iraq indefinitely or risk appearing as though they, you guessed it, hate the troops (or are at least a condescending elitist Liberal who discounts them).

The question sidetracks legitimate issues (is the war winnable, when should we bring the troops home, etc.) with a misleading and loaded premise that troop support for the mission is a relevant factor to be taken into account when addressing these issues.

The premise is loaded because troop support for any mission is going to be very high as a function of their professionalism, motivation, sense of duty, and other reasons.

The soldiers at the Alamo supported the stand even though they knew it was suicide. The troops at Little Bighorn were so over-zealous in their support of the mission that they recklessly divided their forces over and over again to bring that mission to a hasty conclusion (Custer's motivations may have even been political, as he was considered a contender for the presidency).

When someone insults your intelligence with a ludicrous argument like this, turnabout is fair play: accuse them of hiding behind the troops.

Or if you're a little more bold, accuse them of using our military personnel as political meat shields for their failed policies, e.g. gross mismanagement of the war, endless deceit about why we're there, and their willingness to sacrifice the lives of our military personnel for the sickeningly craven purpose of delaying the inevitable outcome beyond Bush's presidency, to minimize the harm to that worthless human being's image and possibly even to push the blame for the eventual loss on Democrats.

Posted by: Augustus on June 4, 2007 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

Be a little more organized Augustsus. Perhaps u dont know this:. Say what u r going to say, then say what you are saying(the heart of your argument), then say what you said.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on June 4, 2007 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK

Veteran of Omaha Beach says No to War

I just spent two days in a Veterans Hospital. For the record, the care was AAA excellent. My roommate, who also has cardiac issues, was an Omaha Beach veteran.

I saw him watching FOX News, and my being of the ilk that I had just marched on the Pentagon, I approached him warily.

Imagine my joy and surprise when he said that the cartoonish GOP bagman Sean Hannity made his blood boil.

His summary of Bush and Iraq was resignedly profound and bespoke his witness of slaughter as a youth..

"I simply do not see how killing other humans ultimately benefits the human race. There has to be a better way", he said

My point here is that we need a peace plan for the Middle East. To match the complexity of the tribal, religious, cultural divide existing between Islam and secular and Christian capitalistic forces extant elsewhere the plan has to be a hundred year plan.

This plan would feature cultural exchanges, guest worker visas (both ways), peace corp initiatives, student exchanges, etc. to accomodate rapproachment. A hundred year plan to accomplish peaceful co-existence should be "the Mission."

Without a clear vision of what the U.S. and others want to accomplish in the Israel-to-Iran region, staying in Iraq and leaving Iraq are equal. Both moves have no merit for the future of global peace and community without such moves being taken in the context of a century's long plan for peace.

Posted by: craig johnson on June 4, 2007 at 3:47 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget you can also accuse anyone who presents you with similarly absurd, loaded Republican talking points. Try insinuating they're blind supporters of Bush's cult of personality in a way that almost demands they deny it (much the way Republicans used to counter any opposition by accusing people of being 'Bush haters'), e.g.

You're not one of those 'true believers' who supports Bush blindly on everything, are you? Of course not...

The Bush administration has mismanaged every stage of the war, and been wrong about every prediction about the war. The troops deserve better, don't you think? Of course they do...

We've been in Iraq longer than it took for us to win WWII. Unless or until Bush can articulate a dramatic, new plan to win the war, it's not fair to the troops to support a continuation of these failed policies.

Well, you get the idea.

Posted by: Augustus on June 4, 2007 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

1. What's the right thing to do? (Withdraw from Iraq.)
2. Will the Democratic Party benefit from supporting withdrawal from Iraq? (Yes, within its constituency, and among the majority who don't vote; no, within the hard-right Republicans and their propagandists.)
3. Will the Democratic Party get more support within the military from supporting withdrawal from Iraq? (Never while you have a professional military; professional militaries are naturally conservative and breeding-grounds for extremism.)
4. Should the Democratic Party be worrying about seeking support from the right-wing military and currying favour with extreme right-wing propagandists? (No.)
5. Is the Democratic Party seeking support from the right-wing military and currying favour with extreme right-wing propagandists? (Yes.)
6. Is this a problem?

Posted by: MFB on June 4, 2007 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

"...many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight...
According to what survey? Oh right, it's another MSU moment in journamalism. (making s**t up)

Posted by: mikey on June 4, 2007 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

Do you have confidential survey data on this? Anecdote is not data (so why anecdote). Kevin - please write your story on the basis of facts.

Posted by: reason on June 4, 2007 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, of course this is just a slogan, a shorthand way of countering the republican's ridiculous notion that doing anything other than continuing the occupation in any way other than the way Bush wants to continue it is failing to "support the troops," that opposition to the war is a failure to "support the troops."

This kind of concern trolling would be a lot easier to take if we had had a series of columns on the fatuousness and dishonesty of republican sloganeering in place of policy-making. Starting with "global war on terror," skipping ahead to "we'll stand down as they stand up," stopping for a moment at "we have to attack them there so they can't attack us here," and on and on and on.


Where are the articles that say pounding this global war on terror message is going to backfire, because there isn't and can't be a global war on terror. Where is the commentary pointing out that attacking Iraq there has nothing to do with attacking anything here?

It's astounding. TNR types bitch about the democrats being in disarray and unable to stay on message, and then, when they do stay on message, they deride the message as not true. Where have they been as the republicans have spent the entire administration reducing complex policy discussions to irrelevant, or even flatly false phrases?

Oh, and while I'm on this rant, what the hell is Blitzer doing demanding yes or no answers to questions like "Isn't this an amnesty program?" That's a straight nativist wingnut talking point that is essentially meaningless. It's part and parcel with this nonsense--the idea being to make immigration policy choices being between amnesty (bad!!) and not amnesty (goood...).

It's infuriating to see democrats criticized for failing to have clear, succinct messages, and then ripped again when they develop clear, succinct messages as content-free as the republicans.

Posted by: jayackroyd on June 4, 2007 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

That doesn't make any damn sense Kevin. The troops are supposed to believe in the mission, whether they actually do or not, that's a given. If the mission is fucked up, it's not their job to oppose the mission. Democrats don't need to "save the troops", that's stupid shit. That's obvious.

You don't make your message, your points, based upon attacks by your opponents. You don't make some big hurrah about "supporting the troops" by bringing them home. You bring the troops home because the mission is fucked and the troops are friends, family, loved ones.

The whole fucking thing is dysfunctional to me how stupid this messaging thing is going. Ackerman used to have a level of intelligence that was impressive. Now he sounds like a fucking idiot.

Wake the fuck up and realize the mission is fucked and it's all a pack of lies. Then you'll do the right damn thing and hold the feet to the fire and get our loved ones the hell out of there, while also stopping the murders and mayhem we're responsible for over there (just a part of it, not all of it, there's resisters and jihadis also doing their own part in the violence over there, as well as the Saudis, Iranians, etc.).

The sooner we drop the "pretend" naivete the better, because this is all about domination of natural resources and there's not an idealistic root in any of this.

Posted by: Jimm on June 4, 2007 at 5:16 AM | PERMALINK

Augustus: "Custer's motivations may have even been political, as he was considered a contender for the presidency."

I don't think George A. Custer was seriously considered for that post by anyone other than perhaps himself. New York Gov. Samuel Tildon had the Democratic nomination pretty much in his hip pocket by June 25, 1876, and there is no way President Ulysses Grant would have ever allowed Custer the GOP nomination (which eventually went to Ohio Congressman Rutherford B. Hayes).

Nevertheless, it's probably fortuitous that events that summer afternoon at the Little Bighorn River proved Gen. Custer to be both a reckless fool and quite mortal, and thus thankfully precluded even the remotest possibility that either major political party would ever entertain such an absurdity.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on June 4, 2007 at 5:30 AM | PERMALINK

Well, here's a little fact that no one wants to ever acknowledge - some of the people in the U.S. military are sick, sadistic perverts who enjoy killing and hurting other human beings. Anyone who has served in the military knows this. That's why I don't grovel in the dirt to worship the military like many Americans.

This is likely even more true now that we have an all-volunteer (read, mercenary) army. Reinstate the draft, and you will have a lot more soldiers that want to come home and not want to continue slaughtering innocent human beings, not one of which had anything to do with 9-11.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 4, 2007 at 5:33 AM | PERMALINK

Since when did "support the troops" mean "fight the war the troops want to fight"?? That's nonsense.

Giving soldiers the equipment that makes them safer while conducting a mission IS supporting the troops, period; I can't see where there's an argument. And if and when we realize that a given mission is a lost cause, then it's the antithesis of "supporting the troops" to leave them in the kill zone, to get wounded and killed for nothing.

Whether they realize it at the time doesn't matter. But part of our moral contract with the troops is that when we spend their lives, we won't waste them. Once we believe their mission is doomed, we owe it to them to do our damnedest to bring them home.

They may well disagree at the time, but they will trust us in the long run far more if we do that, than if we leave them to fight and die for nothing.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist (formerly RT) on June 4, 2007 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

Two legs ba-a-ad, for legs go-o-od. Suppo-o-ort the tro-o-ops. Suppo-o-ort the tro-o-ops. If the Democratic candidates can't find a way to bust this mindless slogan they're do-o-omed.

Posted by: ogmb on June 4, 2007 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

The "optimistic" ones who still think the mission can be accomplished are kind of dumb. And it's pretty hard not to condescend to dumb people.

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 4, 2007 at 6:07 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think "support the troops" was ever intended to mean "let the troops fight the war if they want to". In any case, we don't have "rule by military" in the US.

Posted by: Whispers on June 4, 2007 at 6:31 AM | PERMALINK

"I don't want them to just support the troops. I want them to support the mission."

and exactly what would that be?

in the big picture the mission of the military is to enforce policy. that's why bush's mantra about not overriding the opinions of the "troops on the ground" (except when they disagree with him) is bullshit, and that's why it's nice if col. gungho wants us to support "the mission", but we shouldn't listen to either of them.

gung-ho soldiers are a good thing because morale is very important (or to put it another way, if morale is gone you are well on the way to losing the war whatever it might be), but being dedicated to "the mission" does not confer the right to decide what "the mission" is. the day the military starts dictating policy we are well on the way to not being a democracy anymore.

Posted by: supersaurus on June 4, 2007 at 6:32 AM | PERMALINK

Being in Iraq doesn't help America and the last time I looked the troops were still under civilian command. What the military thinks it can or can not achieve is relevant input in a just war that achieves larger ends. It is totally irrelevant to an unjust war that diminishes America. End of story far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 4, 2007 at 6:41 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin got something half right: it's true that a Democrat gets no automatic credibility on national security for being a veteran (as it should be). It is simply untrue, however, that a Republican gets no automatic credibility on national security for being a veteran. Your liberal media at work.

Posted by: Anarch on June 4, 2007 at 7:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ackerman is off base these days and it's no longer "God's truth" Kevin.

The polls NOW show that a majority of the troops believe we're losing in Iraq these days. Their own eyewitness accounts ALONG with the observation of our war correspondence - of late we have read accounts of our militray members finding Iraq police among the dead of insurgencies whenever our military have had to defend against guerilla attacks, the very same people that our troops have trained, so that, you know, the Iraqi would stand up - while our military stood down.

It ain't going to happen, and its not like our miltiary members don't know it. The FACT is now that most our military members have come to this sad but obvious conclusion.

Both Kevin and Ackerman's observation would have been correct half a year back, but of course now it's not.

The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight.

That is no longer the case.

Of late Kevin, local families who have family members die in this war, particular a parent whose son recently died in Iraq reported that his son had told him that he was fighting ghost. Our military members in Iraq no longer know who the emeny is, and just because our miltiary members do not want to leave comrade in arms should not be confused with wanting to stay in Iraq.

Bush's back-door draft is most definitely taking it's toll.

When anyone thinks about how Bush handled this war, well, it should infuriate every American citizen out there. Bush's fortifying a green zone, putting all his man power resources into building his billion dollar military bases without trying to secure Baghdad, and when the war correspondence tell us that the only building left unscathed was the oil ministry building, and that repainting the schools is nothing since Bush didn't bother providing security so that students could attend, the stench of public sewage, the fact that our military seems to have sat idly by whenever insurgency attacked the different Baghdad neighborhoods without intervening showed the Iraq people all they needed to know. That the overwhelming fact is that Bush was just there for the oil, has hence it has been the start of unrest, the insurgency we witness today. Bush never gave a damn about the Iraqi people, and Iraqi people figured it out.

Ditto for the Democratic obsession with using better body armor, higher GI pay, or the quality of military medical care as proxies for "supporting the troops."

Gee, well the GOP surely don't seem to give a damn about these things either.

What was it David Broder said about Republicans and their so-called "affinity" for the military?

What "affinity would that be?

I don't think Bush gives a damn about those his back-draft fighting men and women that Bush uses like so much toilet paper. Stange how the Republican's so-called Christian rightousness never provides for better body armor, higher GI pay, or the quality of military medical care.

I guess there nothing wrong with Dems supporting these "proxies" since certainly the GOP isn't going to do it. It's so much cheaper to talk about flag burning.

And sure, there is nothing wrong with providing better leadership, because certainly our militaries dumb *uck Commander and Chief has never provided anything but one lie right after another along with his horrilble stupid piss poor isolationust style of leadership.

Posted by: Me_again on June 4, 2007 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

"The troops" will never be fooled into believing that liberals support them. They know that liberals applaud every American setback, and are dismayed by every American success. The troops are committed to bringing democracy to Iraq, and will stay the course until the mission is accomplished. God bless them for that.

Posted by: Al on June 4, 2007 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

Let's just find out how much our troops support the war. Have the Dems pass legislation that unless they declare war in Iraq the President cannot extend deployments or keep the troops in the military beyond their enlistment dates. THEN we'll have a truly voluntary military, and we'll see just how much they support the mission.

Posted by: jussumbody on June 4, 2007 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

Anarch: "It is simply untrue, however, that a Republican gets no automatic credibility on national security for being a veteran. Your liberal media at work."

Okay, the combination of logic and syntax, that double negative, confused me.

Are you were makng the following point? Thanks to our national media, a veteran who is a Democrat will get no automatic credibility for national security; The anti-war reputation of Democrats will neutralize his or her experience as a vet. Conversely, a non-veteran who is a Republican is always awarded credibility for national security because Republican breast-thumping tough-talk trumps experience.

If so, good point!

Posted by: PTate in FR on June 4, 2007 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

Oooooh! That has to hurt. That was a tremendous takedown of Dennis Kucinich and Grandmother's for Peace.

No better way imaginable to frame a foreign policy debate.

However, I have to take issue with the part tacked on the end about telling the truth and having a reality based foreign policy that takes the nation's interests into account. What's that about?

Posted by: B on June 4, 2007 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

"As he (Lieutenant Wellman) told me of war doubters back home, "I don't want them to just support the troops. I want them to support the mission."

The problem is that most of the soldiers that want to stay still think "the mission" is about 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. A recent 60 minutes program illustated this fact. The soldiers need to understand that not only is the Iraq War NOT about 9/11, in reality it weakened our response to 9/11 by shifting our focus away from Afghanistan and bin Laden's base of operations.

Posted by: lamonte on June 4, 2007 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

I really don't understand Kevin's post, Ackerman, or many of the comments.

As pointed out above, a good number of the troops do want to get out of Iraq (e.g., reports that Lieberman was deluged with questions from the troops about when they are coming home). Most Americans want us out too. It is worth pointing out that the Dems support troop withdrawal (or redeployment) and the Reps will keep them in Iraq on a worthless mission forever. I don't think the troops will be insulted because Dems want to end the mission. Many if not most will be relieved when it happens.

Look, there is a propaganda war going on about "support for the troops." Dems have been attacked since before the war started for not supporting the troops. (Often it has just meant the Dems haven't given Bush all he wants.) But it is important to say that the Dem position is the one that really does support the troops: don't have them fight worthless wars, find a better mission for them, pay them, and get them what they need like body armor. These really are better ways to support the troops than anything the Reps have done in the last decade.

Posted by: JJF on June 4, 2007 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, for Pete's sake...of course getting out of IRAQ supports the troops...they may not agree that it does but WE don't need their approval to think it best for ALL that we leave (Iraqis, troops,America)...way too much time spent on niggling all these points. Soldiers are SUPPOSED to, at least try to, believe in the mission otherwise how could they get up and go out and do what they're asked to...WE DON'T HAVE TO!!! Perhaps some of them should read A LONG WAY HOME by Ismael Beah and get another view of belonging to a group of "right thinking people" who ORDER you to do what they say or shoot you if you don't...there are other points of view informed by experience despite all the pontificating done by armchair experts.

Posted by: Dancer on June 4, 2007 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Kevin for the reality check I always get by reading this comments section - I was flirting with the idea of voting for Obama, but now I'm back to being a Fred Thompson Repub thanks to the unvarnished honesty of your readers. "Sadistic mercenaries lusting for one more mission" -- thanks guys.

And why does Spencer think oblivious is worse than condescending?

Posted by: minion on June 4, 2007 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, please shut up. You proved a long time ago with your cheerleading for the Iraq war (and your subsequent attempts to softpedal that support) that foreign affairs just aren't your bag. Why not stick to what you're good at -- some nice domestic policy analysis or photographing your cats. Kay?

Posted by: Pat on June 4, 2007 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

As a conservative poster, I am awestruck at this thread. It is shocking to see this level of intellectual honesty on the WaMo website.

I kept waiting for Kevin to pull a complete 180, and declare that the article was written in sarcasm.

I am being totally serious when I say that reading an article like this makes me think about the Democratic party as a viable option in 2008.

Of course, you only have to read the commentary to be reminded how far 'out there' the views of the leftist base are. Basically, the comments all follow the same formula: "The troops and commanders may be out there on the ground right in the center of the conflict, but somehow they don't understand it as well as Joe Liberal does sitting at home in his basement behind a computer monitor."

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 4, 2007 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

Read The Conservative Deflator's post at 5:33 or brooksfoe's post at 6:07 to see how liberals REALLY view 'the troops'.

By the way, U.S. military personnel understand this quite clearly. That's why they overwhelmingly vote Republican.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 4, 2007 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Very strange post by Kevin.

Telling the truth, as usual, is better: we need to leave Iraq not because we think the troops need rescuing, but because we think that leaving is what's best for our national security.

Why can't it be both?


In any case this is the usual quibbling over what is essentially a triviality in the big scheme of things that reinforces liberals' image as a querrelsome bunch like a group of three year olds.

Posted by: gregor on June 4, 2007 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight.

Then let those who want to "stay and fight" join the Iraqi army. And let the Iraqi government pay them.

The US should not deploy its military into a conflict just because the soldiers want it to.

Posted by: raj on June 4, 2007 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see where any of these Dem arguments has anything to do with convincing the troops.

It is the public perception via the CW that says that doing these things represents supporting the troops and conversely getting the troops out is abandoning them.

The need to penetrate the great fog machine in getting the end-the-war message out - not the need to convince the troops - is what is driving the Dems jump through these political (and logical) hoops.

Posted by: paolo on June 4, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

KEVIN---The first three words in your last paragraph
" Telling the truth " reminds me of this. " If they ask you why we died , tell them that our fathers lied . " RUDYARD KIPLING
The forces that are fighting are our ( NATIONAL GUARD ) not REGULAR ARMY . They are being treated as if they are THE AMERICAN FOREIGN LEGION . Sure the Romans and French had their FOREIGN LEIGONS , but do we really need that sort of
-----BULL SHIT ??
QUESTION ---How is it that these Generals can appear on t. v. with all that crap pinned to their uniform . it does not impress the fathers and mothers of those young men wearing a wheel chair or artifical arms and legs .
Those will be the medals they will wear for the rest of their life.
WAKE --UP THIS IS NOT A GOD-DAM HOLLYWOOD
MOVIE OR MOVIE SET.



Posted by: OLE OLD TIMER on June 4, 2007 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, it is kinda hard, sometimes, to help those in abusive relationships.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on June 4, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Read The Conservative Deflator's post at 5:33 or brooksfoe's post at 6:07 to see how liberals REALLY view 'the troops'.

So you're claiming what he says isn't so?

That none "of the people in the U.S. military are sick, sadistic perverts who enjoy killing and hurting other human beings"?

Because he didn't say 'most', or even 'many'...

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 4, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Let me add one more thought then it's off to work - I remember the final days of the Viet Nam war, when the guys knew they were left to die on the vine. There was mass insubordination, fragging, a complete collapse of the military. I enlisted in the Air Force a few years later and they were still trying to recoup from that disaster. These mindless gung ho zombies that you guys envision are straw men, the real live troops are not ignorant, and they're not brainwashed - if the mission in Iraq was as hopeless as you guys so desperately want it to be, they would not be willing to continue it.

Posted by: minion on June 4, 2007 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

To add to brooksfoe's comment:

The "optimistic" ones who still think the mission can be accomplished are kind of dumb. And it's pretty hard not to condescend to dumb people.

It's also pretty hard, if you're a shyster of some sort, to not use said dumb people to your own advantage as ruthlessly as possible. P.T. Barnum is credited with a phrase expressing the sentiment which birthed that strategy.

I think, getting to my point, that brooksfoe's statement needs some qualification.
Most "dumb people" can't articulate the mission that they are optimistic about - ask three of them and you'll get at least two different answers. They furthermore have an understanding of how possible the mission that they believe they are supporting that ranges from minimal, through negligible, right on down to the sqr rt of -1.

Posted by: kenga on June 4, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

A few points:

Troops are voters, too. And we can't afford a rift between the military and the next commander-in-chief, like WJC had.

The troops believe in the mission, of course. They aren't supposed to be objective, it isn't their job. But what they appreciate most of all from political leadership is straight talk and courage. They don't want to be left in limbo.

The troops most definitely need to know that their buddies didn't die for no good reason, and that they didn't kill people for no good reason. They did what they were asked to do, and no blame assigns to them. They need to be told this. Repeatedly.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on June 4, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Al, I'm calling double-plus bullshit on you.

"The troops" will never be fooled into believing that liberals support them. They know that liberals applaud every American setbackliberal, nor is Bill Kristol) that applauded the election in 2004 of George W. Bush to be POTUS.

Posted by: kenga on June 4, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Support the mission?

The riddle of our system is that we have "civilian control" and military execution. When there is misguided control by the civlians and poor leadership by the military how do we correct it?

The military's oath requires obedience to the civilian decisions, so we won't hear much from them about poor leadership. Thus I'm not surprised at the lieutenant's declaration of support for the mission.

In fact, most now agree that the decision to invade was wrong on every issue--WMD, democracy, occupation, understanding the Shiite/Sunni rift, reforming the Middle East, etc. Adding to the chaos was the choices our military leadership made. Small force, no realistic plan for the aftermath, not a clue that there could be post war opposition--despite many warnings.

The Lieutenant wants support for a misguided mission. He needs his head examined.

Posted by: Cycledoc on June 4, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

This comment and the Spencer Ackerman comment that it is based on are foolish and simplistic (oh let's go all the way...just plain stupid). The attitude of troops in Iraq is not uniform; many of them would like to complete their mission (whatever that is), many feel the situation is FUBAR and want to get the f*** out; many think the whole war was wrong,stupid, misconceived, and duplicitously launched. Worse yet, their ideas are not fixed and are always in flux. The snapshot now is quite different than in 2003. So what? Getting our troops out supports our troops. It certainly supports the ones that want out. It certainly does not hurt the troops who want to continue whatever it is they are doing (it does not hurt THEM. It hurts their desire to continue) But just as a cumpulsory education aids those who do not want to learn or stay in school even as it clearly supports those who view education as a step to advancement, there is great (overwhelming) truth that education supports our children. And there are innumerable variants of this analogy.

Posted by: della Rovere on June 4, 2007 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Support our Mission

Thought that was the new NeoCon children's recruiting show which ends with the Big Bad Wolfowitz leading the children around the set singing, "It is the War that never ends, it goes on and on, my friends, we started fighting it, not knowing what it was, and we'll continue fighting it Forever, just because.......".

Donald from Hawaii,

Yes, Custer was a reckless fool, but no ChickenHawk - But, can't really see Shrub on a mountain tricycle leading troops down the long gully - Results are becoming more similar, though.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on June 4, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

So, the Democrats want military personnel to love them, huh?

According to Military Times . . .

83% of military personnel describe themselves as conservative or moderate, one percent describe themselves as very liberal.

13% are Democrats, 56% are Republican

Only 23% believe gays should be allowed to serve in the military

81% believe the news media has their facts wrong (guess they share that with liberals).

You want military personnel to vote Democratic? Then make Zell Miller the head of the party.

Posted by: Dicksknee on June 4, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I completely disagree, Kevin. As a mother of an 18-year-old son, I think your analysis and that of Ackerman's is just intellectual claptrack. What exactly is "the mission" in Iraq? What is the actual goal that is remotely realistic at this point? Wanting to bring the troops home, to prevent them from dying or being badly injured for no good reason whatsoever, is something Democrats should strongly advocate. Democrats should not worry about saving troops'lives will be characterized by a bunch of useless pundits. Bring them home. This war is a fraud.

Posted by: Jan on June 4, 2007 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

"Telling the truth, as usual, is better: we need to leave Iraq not because we think the troops need rescuing, but because we think that leaving is what's best for our national security."

Oh, so it's an "untruth" to say that Democrats/progressives/liberals support the troops? I think it is fine to say that the most effective strategy for countering the "support the troops" line is to make the case that the best thing for national security is to pull the troops back (how far back is important to elucidate as well), but to cast in terms of "truth" is not helpful, IMHO.

"Support the troops" may be an emotively effective slogan, but - like most slogans - it is so vague that it falls apart under careful logical analysis. This can be seen in the "analysis" Ackerman tries to make. He seems to be unaware that he has obfuscated the two distinct intentions in the way the phrase is used. One is that "supporting the troops" means upholding their take on the war (or what is assumed to be the take of a majority of the soldiers in Iraq). The other intended meaning is to do what is in the best interest of the soldiers. Because the way Ackerman has placed these these two notions in conjunction to each other without making a clear distinction between them he is led to an emotional rather than an analytic conclusion that doing what is in the best interest of the soldiers is tantamount to "doing them a favor" - or in Kevin's more unnecessarily provocative terminology "rescuing" them.

The purpose of any slogan is to evoke an emotional response. That the slogan can be deconstructed by logical analysis doesn't really matter because the reality of the politics of large groups is that the emotion evoked by a slogan will almost always trump a logical analysis of it. That is why it isn't necessarily a bad idea to co-opt the slogan - even though that co-opting is just as open to logical criticism as was the original intent. Kevin wants to "sidestep" the issue of "supporting the troops" by appealing to another widely shared paradigm - "do what's best for our nation". Okay, there's a solid case to made for that approach. But to say that that approach is somehow more "truthful" than the approach of co-opting the slogan is much too much of an oversimplification (if not outright wrong) and does not benefit the discussion. For myself, I think that Democrats/progessives/liberals can effectively use both approaches. I think we can show that what is in the best interest of the nation is also in the best interest of the troops and that what is what we mean when we say that we support the troops.

Posted by: TK on June 4, 2007 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Minion of the US Air Force,

Let me the first to congratulate you on helping restore duty, honor, country and dignity to the Permanent Latrine Orderly MOS. Well done, Sir!

Posted by: stupid git on June 4, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, correcting spellchecker typos! I completely disagree, Kevin. As a mother of an 18-year-old son, I think your analysis and that of Ackerman's is just intellectual claptrap. What exactly is "the mission" in Iraq? What is the actual goal that is remotely realistic at this point? Wanting to bring the troops home, to prevent them from dying or being badly injured for no good reason whatsoever, is something Democrats should strongly advocate. Democrats should not worry about how saving troops' lives will be characterized by a bunch of useless pundits. Bring them home. This war is a fraud.

Posted by: jan on June 4, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Do the troops themselves, if this is indeed a fair characterization of their appreciation of the war- and I doubt it is, understand the political origin of “The Mission”? Or do they see any mission sent down the pneumatic tube from the White House as right, correct, desirable, in the interest of the country and winnable? If so, perhaps we need a better informed citizenry and a better educated military.

Are Democrats so susceptible to the charge of lack of patriotism that they have to speak in soft tones about Dick Cheney’s Middle East pacification war? Never in the history of the American Republic, and there will be a huge literature on this subject, has an American administration attacked so many fundamental rights and been so presumptuous in matters of power. The war was predicated on lies and has been ruinously prosecuted. Herein lies the problem. Any gang of ambitious men with enough money can get into the White House and make up the war they want. Because they can charge their critics with lack of patriotism, and this will cost elections, everyone will respect their war and in one way or another get behind it or shut up. This has long been the ultimate danger to Republics and is the inverse of the parliamentary spirit.

What should end is the culture of deference. George Bush’s classic abuse of power reveals how under-serving and dangerous this culture is.

Posted by: bellumregio on June 4, 2007 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

This argument will go round and round and round for ever.

"Support the troops" is almost as meaningless as "war on terror".

The only thing that matters is the fact that the invasion and occupation were and are WRONG and there should be no troops there. Their presence in Iraq is endangering U.S. national security by encouraging anti-American sentiment everywhere.

That's the reason to bring them home.

Posted by: JB on June 4, 2007 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

"And we can't afford a rift between the military and the next commander-in-chief, like WJC had."

Uhhhh... why not, exactly?

We could do a lot worse than 8 years of peace and prosperity. Come to think of it.....

Posted by: semper fubar on June 4, 2007 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Is their a record of any mission (apart from the one in the later yearsf Nam) that the soldiers on the ground did not support?

Posted by: gregor on June 4, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK
Democrats are determined to express support for the troops. This is admirable. The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight.

This appears to me to be largely a game of semantics about the meaning of support and express.

Democrats may want to "express" support for the troops, but what is far more important is to actually support the troops. Words are nice, but deeds are far more important and this analysis appears to me to turn that on its head and put expression over action.

The next move is to distort the meaning of support from one in which involves meeting the concrete needs of the troops and ensuring they are not needlessly killed is again made somehow less important than supporting their individual subjective opinions and desires.

This is not and never has been as far as I know about supporting individual troops preferences. Whether or not most troops want to stay or not doesnt address the issue, its not a matter of taking a poll of the troops and supporting what most of them want. That is not and should not be the role of Congress.

Ditto for the Democratic obsession with using better body armor, higher GI pay, or the quality of military medical care as proxies for "supporting the troops." As with leaving Iraq, these are all good things to support. But they're good things on their own terms, not because anyone in uniform will be fooled into thinking that voting for them means you support the military.
This appears to get it backwards. Democrats I know support these things precisely because they are good in their own terms. You seem to confuse a response the GOP and Bush politics as the basis for the action. They are not trying to "fool" anyone. It is doing whats right and saying so. What exactly is wrong with that? You seem to be pose a catch 22, if you do what is best for the troops, then you dont actually support them and if you dont do what is best you dont actually support them.

Perhaps you should define exactly what you mean by support the troops rather than use this shifting construction. I have never seen this as a play to get soldiers to vote for them. This is to do whats right for America and right for the nations armed forces and not as some form of bribe. What basis do you have to support such a construct?

Posted by: Catch22 on June 4, 2007 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

What is the mission?? The military routed Hussein and exposed the fraud under which the invasion was launched by finding zero WMDs.
A stable Iraq is something the Iraqis must solve.

If the mission morphed to prevent civil war, it was a fool's errand.

I posit that the real mission was one of oil interests, Israel and a permanent American presence in Iraq. I doubt the troops, the GOP, or any American would support this "mission." Truly supporting the troops means taking care of their needs before and after the battle. Not wasting lives and treasure. That kind of thing. We have an "all working class" military more than an all volunteer military. Many of our over worked personnel joined for medical care and job training. Wal Mart is a recruiting station every time it kills wage increases. So spare my the freaking sermon on who cares for the troops. A non dysfunctional society would HAVE to draft young people.

Posted by: Sparko on June 4, 2007 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, good job for showing the disconnect between Democrats and the troops. If once again, as in Somalia, the Democrats succeed in withdrawing our military when the military does not believe they had been defeated, you will see the collapse of the volunteer service. Then a Democrat president will be in the position of the French in May 1940 if another crisis arises. They will have no force when it is needed. The conscript army collapsed after Viet Nam. This would collapse the volunteer military. Pacifism would then be your only option. That appeals to most of you anyway. Good luck.

Posted by: Mike K on June 4, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

This has to be the most inane post of Kevin's in a good long while.

What's condescending is to lie to the troops about the mission they are being sent to fight. I've seen recent interviews with soldiers in Iraq who still claim that they are there to revenge the attacks of 9-11. How about telling them the truth?

Most of the people dying over there are 18 to 20 year old kids who believe what their president and their commanders tell them - much to their own detriment.

Posted by: zeke on June 4, 2007 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

It is precisely this fear of calling this mission what it is that got us into this mess in the first place. The Congress and the press were intimidated and cowed into not speaking the truth about this so-called "mission" and have been for 4+ years.

This man's primary mission is to support the people of the U.S., and that means 100% of the people, whether they agree with his notions of mission or not. It is dangerous when one party, whether Republicans or Democrats, whips up hostility among the military towards any segment of the population and doesn't recognize that missions are determined by the elected representatives and not the military and executives.

Posted by: Chrissy on June 4, 2007 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 nailed it. The cited article made sense; the responses not so much.

Dicksknee quotes a poll as showing that 81% of the troops believe the news media has their facts wrong. The troops in Iraq see first-hand what's going on. They see the media downplay good news. They can see that few in the media have military expertise. The troops are right. The media does get it wrong.

Even if the media did their job, first-hand experience is usually best. But, given the weak media coverage, what makes you think you understand the war better than the troops who are there?

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

mhr:

Bin-Ladin believes that he and his gang were the ones that brought down the USSR.

That's why I left Osama alive see...
So that little pricks like this...
Can advance the argument see...
In other words catapult the propaganda,
That what... see...
Osama thinks and says see...
Is more important see...
Then what the rest of the world thinks and knows...

Never misunderestimate me see...
My minion of pricks don't...

Posted by: President Bush on June 4, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you and Ackerman seem to have confused the claim by many on the left that these positions are the best way to support the troops with the idea that they are a way of politically pandering to the troops. They are not.

They serve many purposes, political and substantive, but pandering to the troops or claiming to be pandering to the troops is not one of them. They serve to underline the hypocrisy of the Right (including the Administration) claiming it is "supporting the troops" when it neither supports any consistent, articulated mission (shifting justifications and definitions of victory as conditions change), nor supports the welfare of the troops (failing to provide necessary resources, cutting benefits, etc.), nor supports the troops in any other way, merely chants "support the troops" while sacrificing their lives with no realistic vision of what is to be attained by that sacrifice except avoiding political defeat for themselves and their cronies.

Further, while Ackerman is able to find a couple of individual military officers to quote to support the picture he is trying to paint of the opinion of the troops in Iraq, he's got little else to support it. He attempts to cherry-pick the Military Times poll to find some support, while at the same time minimizing the year-over-year trend since the peak of support in 2004 of falling support for the war among the troops shown in that poll by claiming the poll isn't scientific because it relies on self-selected responses to a mailed questionnaire.

Had he been genuinely interested in what troops in Iraq think and looking for polls conducted by random sampling, rather than looking for excuses to select the results he liked and disregard those he didn't from the Military Times poll in order to paint a pre-conceived picture with which to bash fellow Democrats, he might have found the Zogby poll from early 2006 in which 72% of troops in Iraq (ranging from 58% of marines to 82% of National Guard and 89% of Reservists) thought US troops should be withdrawn by the end of 2006. (from Stars and Stripes)

Of course, had he done so, he might be hard pressed to explain the unsubstantiated assertion on which his entire piece rests, that is, that the majority of US troops support an open-ended continuation of the war in Iraq. Because without that, even taking (as he and you both seem to) "support the troops" to mean simply "advance the policy most troops support", there is little support for his argument that ending the war is somehow not the right way to do that.

In short, I see no reason not to see this as anything but the kind of dishonest, fact-averse, bashing of liberals we've come to expect from the establishment wing of the Democratic Party that has no values or ideas of its own, but exists only to get media attention by inventing superficially plausible reasons to claim that liberals are wrong.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 4, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Our message should be that we'll support the troops by making sure that we send them into war only with proper leadership, proper planning, and when the national security of the United States is genuinely at risk.

That sounds *exactly* like what John Kerry said over and over and over during his 2004 campaign. And what he's demanded in umpteen speeches since the election. One could argue that it's been the Democratic message for a few years now.

Posted by: Noisy Democrat on June 4, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

I think we all know there's no love for the military/troops from us, progressives. The US military represents: gingoism, racism, sexism, homophobia, nationalism, captialism, patriotism... The only reason we bother at all to say we support the troops, is that a large number of Americans have been brainwashed (by Bushitler/Halliburton) into thinking the military has any redeeming value.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 4, 2007 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

We need to leave Iraq because the invasion was an immoral and unjustifiable enterprise designed for political and economic gain by a venal and corrupt band of war pigs and their malicious little stooge. Many thousands of noncombatant Iraqis are dead because of the war.

I don't give a fuck whether one or all of the servicemen and women in Iraq want to fight a war. The war is wrong if every last one of them wants to fight it. If "supporting the troops" means kissing the ass of people who want to continue an immoral war, I don't support the troops.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on June 4, 2007 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Speak for yourself, Freedom Fighter! Many of us have genuine admiration for the military. My father served in the Navy during the Korean War, and he's only one of the many people I admire who served. The military represents service, self-sacrifice, and the willingness to put the good of your country ahead of your own little interests (a concept which the current Administration, alas, does not remotely appear to grasp).

I suspect you may be a Republican pretending to be a progressive and mouthing what many on the Right want to *think* we think. In any case, you don't speak for me.

Posted by: Noisydemocrat on June 4, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

I think a lot of people in this thread are missing the larger point. Almost everybody here agrees that the war was a huge mistake and runs against protecting our national security. Almost everybody agrees that we need to get out. These things are not in contention (at least not in a Washington Monthly thread and certainly not in my mind).

IMO, what Kevin is talking about here is the framing of the narrative. What the troops need to hear is that they are being pulled out because their efforts in Iraq are no longer needed for our national security. Further, when the nation feels they are needed again, they will be called back into action without hesitation because they are the baddest ass military in the world. They do not need to hear that they lost, prefaced by a bunch of feel good "it's not your fault - the civilian leadership screwed up" crap. It doesn't matter one iota whether or not this is true.

Democrats, who I personally think tend to have much greater empathy than Republicans, should be able to consider this argument from the perspective of a soldier in the field. Even if they are not outwardly expressing these feelings, most soldiers are probably perfectly well aware that this war was a mistake, the goals are unclear, and under these circumstances it is impossible to even define winning and losing. For a politician to say, "we lost and we are pulling out" is just so unbelievably stupid it makes my head hurt. Emotionally, these soldiers are in very deep - they do not need to be pulled out because they lost, they need to be redeployed for national security reasons.

Posted by: HungChad on June 4, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Our message should be that we'll support the troops by making sure that we send them into war only with proper leadership, proper planning, and when the national security of the United States is genuinely at risk.

In other words, lie again.

Posted by: Mike on June 4, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

If once again, as in Somalia, the Democrats succeed in withdrawing our military

Factual correction: it was the Republicans who supported cutting and running from Somalia while the Clinton Administration wanted to stay. Here's Glenn Greenwald on the subject:

After the U.S. troops were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, numerous conservative senators and representatives -- mostly Republican along with some conservative Southern Democrats -- demanded that Clinton withdraw all American troops immediately, insisting that the U.S. had no interest in Somalia and that not one more American troop should die there. They gave speeches stoked with nationalistic anger and angrily demanded immediate withdrawal, and even threatened to introduce legislation to cut off all funding for any troop maintenance in Somalia.

Clinton -- along with Democratic senators such as John Kerry -- vigorously argued against immediate withdrawal, in part because of the concern that America would look weak by panicking and abandoning its mission at the first sign of trouble (just like President Reagan did in 1983 when he immediately withdrew U.S. forces from Lebanon after the attack on U.S. Marines). Clinton had to virtually beg to be allowed to keep troops for an additional six months (and he even increased American troop levels) to stabilize the situation, demonstrate U.S. resolve and a commitment to the mission and, most of all, avoid a panicky, fear-driven retreat.

Republican senators attempted to force an immediate withdrawal and then ultimately compromised on a compelled withdrawal in six months. As but one example, from a Senate floor speech by Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, on Oct. 6, 1993: "The United States has no interest in the civil war in Somalia and as this young soldier told me, if the Somalis are now healthy enough to be fighting us, then it is absolutely time that we go home ... It is time for the Senate of the United States to get on with the debate, to get on with the vote, and to get the American troops home." Sen. Robert Dole, in a Senate speech, on Oct. 5, 1993: "I think it is clear to say from the meeting we had earlier with -- I do not know how many Members were there -- 45, 50 Senators and half the House of Representatives, that the administration is going to be under great pressure to bring the actions in Somalia to a close."

Contrary to neoconservative myth, the U.S. did not run away from Somalia at the first sign of violence. Rather, we stayed six months and even increased our troop levels, but only because President Clinton fought and battled to do so in the face of right-wing demands that he cut and run immediately.

http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2006/09/25/clinton/index.html

Posted by: Stefan on June 4, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Boy I couldn't disagree more with this post. Somehow supporting higher GI pay and effective body armor (which actually saves lives) are mere "proxies" for supporting the troops? And continuing to support a mission which has been run like the Keystone Kops, has absolutely no chance to succeed, and is only resulting in the needless deaths of more and more US soldiers is in fact supporting the troops?

Posted by: Neil H. on June 4, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Our message should be that we'll support the troops by making sure that we send them into war only with proper leadership, proper planning, and when the national security of the United States is genuinely at risk.

This is naive. It's one thing to criticize the current administration's leadership, planning, etc. But, the Dems will need more than a few nice words to convince people that they'll do better.

A more realistic reason to support the Dems is that they will undermine any Republican war effort. Republicans won't undermine Democratic wars in the same way. So the the country can be unified in war only if it's led by Democrats.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin the frustrating part is that the Republicans, who intentionally made this war a divisive election issue, who did not plan for the post-invasion, and who were reducing combat pay bonuses, not providing armor and cutting per troop VA funding, ARE apparently supporting the troops.

It may be that mission support is one important factor, but lets not pretend that the faux support of the right is supporting the troops.

Posted by: BobPM on June 4, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

"We need to leave Iraq because the invasion was an immoral and unjustifiable enterprise designed for political and economic gain by a venal and corrupt band of war pigs and their malicious little stooge. Many thousands of noncombatant Iraqis are dead because of the war."

Absolutely! The worst case scenario is our troops actually suceeding in Iraq. This would only encourage and give license to future immoral militaristic and gingoistic advantures. If the military cannot be made to leave Iraq, then we should actively undermine the war for profit effort at the home front.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 4, 2007 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: There are no Republican wars. There are no Democratic wars. There are just, legal wars and there are unjust, illegal wars. What we have here is an unjust, illegal war perpetrated on an innocent population.

The mission in Iraq is corrupt and a diversion from what the entire military should have been focused on - getting OBL.

Posted by: Chrissy on June 4, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

"Telling the truth, as usual, is better: we need to leave Iraq not because we think the troops need rescuing, but because we think that leaving is what's best for our national security."

So are you saying that democrats have been lieing to us. Thought only Bush did that.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on June 4, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Dicksknee quotes a poll as showing that 81% of the troops believe the news media has their facts wrong. The troops in Iraq see first-hand what's going on. They see the media downplay good news."

The media is not downplaying good news at all. How can the killing of 650,000 Iraqis be good news? How can the sucess of a gingoistic war for profit be considered good news?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 4, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

"So are you saying that democrats have been lieing to us. Thought only Bush did that."

But it's lying for a good cause. Just as sometimes you have to twist the truth a little, or exaggerate a little to get the public's attention.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 4, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

So now "support the troops" means supporting what ever it is the military wants them to do instead of supporting what's in the best interest of the people in it.

People in the military are cultured to want to meet every mission goal. They are trained to kill or be killed in order to succeed at the task given to them. Moreover, whatever the current mission is, they are steeped in propaganda to make the mission seem worthwhile. Right now the Pentagon has turned this mission-at-all-costs tendancy towards staying in Iraq. They are quite capable of shifting it in another direction.

Posted by: Boronx on June 4, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

In other words, lie again.

This is a fatal and devastating indictment of the liberal posters here by a supporter of the truthtellers who so very genuinely wanted to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq that they engineered the death of hundreds and thousands of Iraqis and caused a few million of the citizens of Iraq to leave their country altogether.

Posted by: gregor on June 4, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK
IMO, what Kevin is talking about here is the framing of the narrative.

And that is exactly what Kevin doesn't understand, because he doesn't understand the emotional charge or meaning of "support the troops" when used either by Republicans or Democrats. It doesn't mean obey the troop, it means to have a decent respect for their commitment and sacrifice. When the Republicans try to identify their policy with "supporting the troops", that's what they are trying to sell (and, when unanswered, what they succeed wildly in selling).

And when Democrats respond that our policy is the best way to support the troops, that is what Democrats mean by it, as well. And, pace Kevin and Ackerman, the suggestion is not that it is the only reason to support the policy, but ratehr that the policy which ought to be supported, as the left has argued for the beginning, for all the "alternative" reasons Kevin and Ackerman inaccurately suggest have been overlooked by the left, should not be rejected on the mistaken premise that it fails to "support the troops" because, in fact, it does not fail to do so.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 4, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

I refuse to support, even for one moment a "mission" that is impossible to complete. Period. The best you can do is quell some of the violence for some time. The right, so desperate to be proven correct will grab any minor progress, amplify it x100 all the while continuing to ignore how much more unsafe and weak we are now as the result of this administration.

Iraq is fucking paradise for Al Qaeda recruiting and training, for God's sake.

Mr. Bush has insured that there will be no success. It has been so badly mis-managed that I almost think there was intent. Intent intended to create sustained instability such that the war money keeps flowing.

The sheer ignorance to the region, its history and strong arm tactics will not bring them around to Western style democracy.

Follow the money. This adventure is beyond the pale, disgusting and offensive on so many levels.

Posted by: Simp on June 4, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bullshit. Let me elaborate:

In his article, Ackerman appears to massage the facts he presents in order to fit his conclusion "that arguing in the name of the troops isn’t going to work" to bring about a change in the stalemate-ed US occupation of Iraq.

- 50% of active-duty respondents to an informal Military Times poll (down from 83% two years ago) does not mean 'most', or that Democrats "shouldn’t kid themselves into thinking that a majority of the troops doing the fighting agree with them."

- Do "post-deployment retention rates of 124 percent and 136 percent of their respective targets" include the percentage of stop-loss orders or any mention of the increased bonuses given for re-enlistment?

- What chance is there that an active-duty soldier is gonna say something negative about Iraq policy on the record to a reporter to be quoted in a magazine?

If Ackerman had written something along the lines of "Support of Troops by Withdrawing Them from Iraq a Tough Sell to the Military" or something like that, then he'd be saying something that his article could maybe support.

It's sad to see Drum and Ackerman buying into the well-worn "If you support the troops, you have to support the President" argument regurgitated ad infinitum from the right-whinge...hell, the whole support-the-troops meme was concocted by the Right as emotional blackmail used to further their FUBARed policies. Now you two are bitching because a few Dem congresscritters choose to use the same phrase against their detractors in an attempt to put an end to the US occupation of Iraq?...Christ.

Oh, and Kev? Nice cheap shot at John Kerry:

It's the equivalent of Democrats who thought that John Kerry had automatic credibility on national security just because he was a Vietnam vet.

A decorated veteran who actually served in a war probably knows more about war - i.e. is more credibile - than someone who didn't. Oh, and just how much do current actions (talking with Iran, more troops, etc) sound like Kerry, circa 2004?

Posted by: grape_crush on June 4, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK
A more realistic reason to support the Dems is that they will undermine any Republican war effort. Republicans won't undermine Democratic wars in the same way.

Um, ex-liberal, you might want to review the history of United States military action and domestic political responses from 1993-2000, paying special attention to Somalia, Kosovo, and Clinton's efforts against al-Qaeda. After that, you might, if you were honest, consider rather substantial revisions to your comments here.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 4, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

And then there is the enormous cost of the war. (Yes, wars cost money).

Rather than going to war in Iraq, for reasons still unclear, we could instead have rebuilt every high school in the country, including those that do not need rebuilding. This is not to advocate rebuilding all the schools, but just to point out the enormous cost of the war in understandable terms.

For a relatively few billion dollars we could have rebuilt New Orleans. We could have secured our southern border. We could have secured our ports. We could have rebuilt our crumbling infrastructure. We could have bought and paid for intercity transportation expansion and improvements in our nation's most crowded cities. We could have financed health care for all children. We could have retrained every single one of our secondary schools science teachers to better reflect advances taking place. We could have subsidized the purchase by every American of fuel-efficient cars ETC, ETC, ETC. (Make your own list).

Or don't you folks care about the money spent on this war and what it might have financed at home?

Posted by: getthefacts on June 4, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom Fighter: How can the killing of 650,000 Iraqis be good news? How can the sucess of a gingoistic war for profit be considered good news?

Most of the killing is being done by the terrorists. The good news is our troops' success against the monsters who are killing these people.

E.g., a couple of weeks ago our troops rescued 41 people who were imprisoned and tortured by al Qaeda. They also found a horrifying al Qaeda torture manual

The success of this raid and the details of the torture manual received very little media coverage.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the killing is being done by the terrorists.

False. Most of it is being done by insurgents and b/w Iraqi factions.

Posted by: haha on June 4, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

海南租车

Posted by: lanhai on June 4, 2007 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

haha, the insurgents and Iraqi factions are also terrorists. People who use as a tactic mass murder and torture of innocent civilians are by definition "terrorists".

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, Ackerman spoke to a handful of junior officers and, wow, what a surprise, they gave him the rah, rah, we can do it, talk. If Ackerman had spoken to more enlisted folks, like the one NCO who dreams of Hawaiin bikinis, he would have heard a much different tune. That's not to say that all enlisted are against the war and want to get out now or that all officers are gung-ho cheerleaders, but in general, I'm pretty confident his advice to Dems is based on a rather small and imbalanced sample.

Posted by: Bragan on June 4, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight.

Utter crap.

Soldiers are punished, quite literally, for expressing opposition to the war and their access to information on their leaders and the war is limited and they are subject to a constant barrage of propaganda.

No one knows what their feelings would be if they were fully informed and allowed to express their true feelings.

I know someone who is being sent there. I don't want that person killed. I want the war to end to save this person's life. In addition, the war is immoral, unproductive, and run by idiots and partisan fools. But the most important thing is that our soldiers not be squandered for a war that serves no national interests, or even the interests of the Iraqi people.

Posted by: anonymous on June 4, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

haha, the insurgents and Iraqi factions are also terrorists. People who use as a tactic mass murder and torture of innocent civilians are by definition "terrorists".

most of the insurgents aren't doing that, therefore most of the killing isn't being done by "the terrorists". You're wrong again.

Posted by: haha on June 4, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 12:41 PM:

People who use as a tactic mass murder and torture of innocent civilians are by definition "terrorists".

Umm...you realize that your 'definition' applies to Dubya, don't you?

Actually, there's no globally agreed-upon definition of terrorism, 'tho this was interesting:

Edward Peck, former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq and ambassador to Mauritania:
In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us — this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group — they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities. After the task force concluded its work, Congress got into it, and you can google into U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331, and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says — one of the terms, “international terrorism,” means “activities that,” I quote, “appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.” Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another. And so, the terrorist, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.
Posted by: grape_crush on June 4, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, Kevin, I said that as soon as you posted the link for the whole set of soldiers' articles, and blogged about that, too.

I know it was subscription drive time, but, running the blog post focused on Ackerman a week earlier would have been good.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on June 4, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Most of the killing is being done by the terrorists."

"False. Most of it is being done by insurgents and b/w Iraqi factions."

Gosh, Dick Cheney tells us that most of the killing is being done by our troops - i.e we are winning the battle. What gives, guys?

Posted by: lamonte on June 4, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

"...What's condescending is to lie to the troops about the mission they are being sent to fight. I've seen recent interviews with soldiers in Iraq who still claim that they are there to revenge the attacks of 9-11. How about telling them the truth?

Most of the people dying over there are 18 to 20 year old kids who believe what their president and their commanders tell them - much to their own detriment."
Posted by: zeke on June 4, 2007 at 10:43 AM

That probably is changing quite a bit. Bush admitted there was no Saddam/AQ connection a few months back (of course I don't think there was much headline hullaballo about it) Most recently, George Tenet admitted this about three weeks or so ago. Also, coincidentally about that time the information firewall between the troops and the rest of the world had been tightened up. The revelation of the "leadership" clarifications about the justification for the mission have to be sinking in on some level. The backdoor draft and extension of tours was probably the biggest mistake the administration could have made with respect to morale.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 4, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ackerman asserts: "The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight."

Notice the weasel words in bold. This whole article is hung on a few anecdotes, assertions of fact contrary to actual evidence, and an admittedly unscientific poll. What-the-fuck ever. This site is TNR-lite - worthless on foreign policy and military matters...unless you like liberal-hawk-jock-sniffers and legitimizing conservative frames.

Posted by: luci on June 4, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

I wrote People who use as a tactic mass murder and torture of innocent civilians are by definition "terrorists".

grape_crush responded Umm...you realize that your 'definition' applies to Dubya, don't you?

What in the world are you talking about, grape_crush? American troops seek to kill enemy combatants. They take pains not to kill innocent civilians. That's one reason why we take so many casualties. If we didn't care about innocent civilians, we could just bomb any area like Fallujah where insurgents are entrenched.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

God's truth? I don't know about that. But I know that as far as the actual evidence is concerned, its simply not true.

The only thing lacking in Spence's analysis is facts to back it up. He claims to know what the troops think about leaving -- but he has no real evidence.

Zogby did a poll a while back among almost 1000 actual soldiers in Iraq and asked them their actual feelings about the actual question at hand: should we stay or should we go?

AN OVERWHELMING 72% MAJORITY SAID THEY WANT OUT WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR.

Think about that the next time you present Ackerman's fact-free analysis as God's truth.

Posted by: Disturbance on June 4, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 1:28 PM:

What in the world are you talking about, grape_crush?

You know exactly what I am talking about, 'ex-lib'. Your 'definition' of terrorism, like most definitions of terrorism, can easily be read to include the 'good guys' as well as the 'bad guys'.

It's hard to participate in tactics of 'mass murder and torture' and be considered a good guy, however.

American troops seek to kill enemy combatants. They take pains not to kill innocent civilians.

Conservative estimates from the Iraq Body Count project estimates that between 2003 and 2005, 24,865 civilians were reported killed:

- 30% of those deaths occurred during the invasion phase before May 01, 2003. (7460 civilian deaths)
- 37% were killed by US-led forces. (9200 civilian deaths)
- Or, if you wanted to mix the two together - .37(.3*24865) - 2760 civilian deaths caused by 'Shock and Awe'...

And that's the conservative estimate based on reported information. If you look at The Lancet study, the number of civilian deaths go up.

Yeah, US troops don't 'seek to kill civilians', but somehow civilians ended up dying as a result of Dubya's policy decisions. Your 'definition' still applies, ex-lib.

That's one reason why we take so many casualties.

Yup, and our troops are to be lauded for being, for the most part, decent and professional. But a cluster bomb dropped in a Baghdad neighborhood doesn't have the ability to discriminate targets like a human being does.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 4, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

E.g., a couple of weeks ago our troops rescued 41 people who were imprisoned and tortured by al Qaeda. They also found a horrifying al Qaeda torture manual. The success of this raid and the details of the torture manual received very little media coverage.

Ex-lib, great post at 12:05. That captured Al Qaeda torture manual that you linked to is chilling.

You can bet they aren't over there squabbling among themselves about whether waterboarding should be allowed, or making sure every prisoner recieves a proper religious diet and designated prayer times.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 4, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Disturbance,

I was just going to post the same info about the Zogby poll. Ackerman's basic premise, that US troops support the mission, appears to be false.

Last weekend I was doing some shopping at Sears. When the customer in front of me at the cash register was asked for a donation to support the troops in Iraq he replied that he had already made a huge contribution, that his son had served there. When I said that things must be horrible in Iraq, he said, 'You can't even begin to imagine how horrible."

Posted by: nepeta on June 4, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

"If once again, as in Somalia, the Democrats succeed in withdrawing our military

Factual correction: it was the Republicans who supported cutting and running from Somalia while the Clinton Administration wanted to stay. Here's Glenn Greenwald on the subject:"

Which sock puppet of Greenwald are you quoting ?

This is utter nonsense. But, if you get your facts from Greenwald...

Posted by: Mike K on June 4, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is what do the Iraqi solders think. I suspect they think 160,000 US troops are not enough to do the job now and the number is only going to get less, not more, so they better pick sides in the real fight.
Whatever we do, short of bombing the place further back into the stone age, doesn't really matter anymore.

Posted by: brodix on June 4, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is what do the Iraqi solders think. I suspect they think 160,000 US troops are not enough to do the job now and the number is only going to get less, not more, so they better pick sides in the real fight. In that case, what are our options?

Whatever we do, short of bombing the place further back into the stone age, doesn't really matter anymore.

Posted by: brodix on June 4, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 on June 4, 2007 at 2:12 PM:

You can bet they aren't over there squabbling among themselves about whether waterboarding should be allowed...

That 'squabbling' you refer to is what makes us the good guys. We're supposed to think that torture is morally abhorrent and that we respect religious practices. That's supposed to be the difference between them and us.

Instead, it's the difference between me and you.

Mike K on June 4, 2007 at 2:15 PM:

This is utter nonsense.

Then you should be able to prove that Greenwald's wrong. Bet you can't.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 4, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK
American troops seek to kill enemy combatants. They take pains not to kill innocent civilians…ex-lax at 1:28 M
You and all your fellow spinmeisters will not convince one single Iraq of that blatant misstatement. Read the Lancet Report, Bush's invasion is responsible for over 500,000 extra deaths in Iraq. Having a leader with so much blood on his hands is a disgrace to all real Americans.
The Demo candidates apparently believe that it is advisable for US troops to leave Iraq and proceed to Afghanistan where they concede Al-Quada is…mhr at 1:52 PM
Bin Laden is reported to be in Bush ally Pakistan, the Taliban are trying to retake Afghanistan. We've seen from recent reports from al Anbar provience, that the Sunni's are more than happy and willing to kick al Qaeda out. You fight your enemy were he is, not were he isn't, unlike your Dear Leader, who may want to attack some random country next.

US can't link Iran to Iraq
U.S. says can't link Tehran to Afghan arms flow
Mon Jun 4, 2007 9:49AM EDT
By Kristin Roberts
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates voiced concern on Monday about a flow of Iranian arms to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan but said he had no information linking Tehran to the supply of weapons.
On his second visit to Afghanistan since taking over the Pentagon in December, Gates met Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who also said there was no evidence Iran supplied the Taliban.
"There have been indications over the past few months (that) weapons are coming in from Iran," Gates told a news conference with Karzai at the national palace in Kabul.
"We do not have any information about whether the government of Iran is supporting this, is behind it, or whether it is smuggling, or exactly what is behind it."
"But there clearly is evidence that some weapons are coming into Afghanistan destined for the Taliban, but perhaps also for criminal elements involved in the drug trafficking coming from Iran," he added.
U.S. officials accuse Iran of meddling in Afghanistan, and the Pentagon's top general said on Sunday that Iranian-made weapons had been found inside Afghanistan.

Posted by: Mike on June 4, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

"The real question is what do the Iraqi solders think. I suspect they think 160,000 US troops are not enough to do the job now and the number is only going to get less, not more, so they better pick sides in the real fight. In that case, what are our options?..."
Posted by: brodix on June 4, 2007 at 2:16 PM

Maybe we help them carve up the country with a little help from the UN? Hmmm.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 4, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK
…That captured Al Qaeda torture manual that you linked to is chilling….sportsfan79 at 2:12 PM
Are you sure it isn't a translation of some CIA manual? No matter, according to all the precepts of American exceptionalism:

…The basis most commonly cited for American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States and the American people hold a special place in the world, by offering opportunity and hope for humanity, derived from a unique balance of public and private interests governed by constitutional ideals that are focused on personal and economic freedom[citation needed]. It is therefore used by United States citizens to indicate a moral superiority of America or Americans…

The US is supposed to be better than its enemies, not stooping to the lowest of the low and the worst of the worst, unless you consider Republicans to be the moral equivalent of torturers, murders, crooks and liars.

This is utter nonsense... Mike K at 2:15 PM

You could check the record. It's not hidden

Posted by: Mike on June 4, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

grape_crush: That 'squabbling' [about whether waterboarding should be allowed] is what makes us the good guys. We're supposed to think that torture is morally abhorrent and that we respect religious practices. That's supposed to be the difference between them and us.

This is popular sentiment, but it's wrong. First of all, grape_crush, please read the entire al Qaeda torture manual at
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0524072torture1.html

The al Qaeda torture is a thousand times worse than water boarding or any other technique used by the US.

Second, we are morally superior to Radical Islam in every respect imaginable.

It's fine to focus on keeping America's moral standards up. However, when our moral preening allows Radical Islam to make inroads into more areas, what have we accomplished?

The correct moral position is to do whatever is necessary to thwart Radical Islam in Iraq and everywhere else it rises up.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 2:49 PM:

This is popular sentiment, but it's wrong.

It's a sad thing that you feel that way.

The al Qaeda torture is a thousand times worse than water boarding or any other technique used by the US.

So? The degree of severity of US torture relative to Al-Qaeda torture doesn't justify the practice.

..we are morally superior to Radical Islam in every respect imaginable.

When we perform the same sort of actions we condemn in others, we are morally inferior, due to the added charge of hypocrisy.

However, when our moral preening allows Radical Islam to make inroads into more areas, what have we accomplished?

Wow. And here I thought that, since Dubya and Gonzales gave the green light to torturing people, the incidence of global terrorism and growth of 'Radical Islam' - whatever that is - has actually gone up. If that were the case, then your above statement would be, well, bullshit.

Oh wait. Global terrorism has increased since the US invaded Iraq, given the okay to torture, et cetera.

The correct moral position is to do whatever is necessary to thwart Radical Islam in Iraq and everywhere else it rises up.

And within "whatever is necessary" is the spot where you lose your soul, ex-lib.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 4, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: They take pains not to kill innocent civilians. That's one reason why we take so many casualties. If we didn't care about innocent civilians, we could just bomb any area like Fallujah where insurgents are entrenched.

Liar.

Second, we are morally superior to Radical Islam in every respect imaginable.

Bush is morally superior to no one and neither is Cheney or you.

The correct moral position is to do whatever is necessary to thwart Radical Islam in Iraq and everywhere else it rises up.

Exactly the position taken by the radical Islamists. Anything is justified by the righteousness of our cause.

Thanks for providing the enemy with a justification.

Thanks for showing your true bigoted colors.

Again.

However, when our moral preening allows Radical Islam to make inroads into more areas, what have we accomplished?

It has been Bush's abandonment of our moral principles that has allowed radical Islamists to make inroads into more areas.

Radical Islamists had an insignificant presence in Iraq prior to 9/11; now there presence is significant and Iraq has allowed them to enhance their funding and recruitment.

Bush has done more for the terrorists than bin Laden could ever have done by himself.


Posted by: anonymous on June 4, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Mike K on June 4, 2007 at 2:15 PM:

This is utter nonsense.

Then you should be able to prove that Greenwald's wrong. Bet you can't."

Look, Greenwald is a proven liar. You could look up the exchange between Patterico and him about sock puppets last year. The Clinton administration pulled the troops out of Somalia after a battle that the Rangers thought they won in spite of the Sec Def denying them tanks because they would be too "provocative." It was Clinton who expanded the mission from food relief to trying to capture Aidid. I'd suggest you read "Blackhawk Down" and see what Bowden says. Then, while you're at it, you might read his new book, "Guests of the Ayatollah" to see what Iran is like and how much chance we have to negotiate them out of their nukes. And what they plan to use them for.

I will say one thing, a nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel would help global warming. The dust cloud would probably stop a lot of sunlight for a few years as all the world's oil goes up. After all, that's all that matters to you guys, isn't it ? Global warming ?

Posted by: Mike K on June 4, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

This post highlights something I never noticed before, which is the ambiguity of the word "support." In fact, Mr. Drum has focused on the meaning that never occurred to me. I believe "supporting" the troops means doing what is best for them, starting with not killing them for no good reason and continuing through better pay and health care, etc.

It never occurred to me that it meant "support their point of view." If that latter meaning is the one ascribed to it by those who want to support the troops, then it is an awful idea. In a democracy, the "troops" are not suppposed to be opinion leaders and policymakers. I frankly don't give a damn what the troops think, though I do care a great deal about keeping them alive. I also care a great deal about keeping the people of Iraq alive and thriving. The best way to do that is to get out of there.

By the way-- full disclosure-- I am a Muslim of Palestinian descent, a Sunni, also a practitioner of Zen, someone who cannot even begin to recognize in American discourse the faith I know, and whose personal contacts in Iraq convinces me that 1) when the US goes, the Salafi foreigners ("Al Queda") will collapse 2) the insurgency ends-- it is the US they are fighting, after all-- did the French Resistance keep fighting after the Nazis were gone? and 3) the factional fighting will resolve more quickly than if the US stayed. Ideally, the US would admit it owed a ton of money and assistance to Iraq, but the US cannot seem to understand that "helping" another country is not the same thing as controlling it. so all we can hope for is a quick exit.

Posted by: Jake on June 4, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Getting the troops out of Iraq is absolutely supportive of them whether the troops understand it or not. Mr. Ackerman's arguments that you insult the troops if you tell them the war is lost is stupid and nonsensical on many levels. First off, how does Mr. Ackerman happen to know what the troops think? His conversation with one gung ho Lieutenant? And even if it was true that the troops do think they should stay in Iraq in order to "win", something which I think is an utter falsehood, the troops' presence in Iraq doesn't give them some special privilege to endorse the Bush Administration's terrible lies and war crimes in putting American troops in that country. Unfortunately the troops are victims of Bush's crimes, but Democrats can't concern themselves with the the troops' possible bad reaction to being pulled out before the "mission" is accomplished, as it were. The "mission" in case Mr. Ackerman has forgotten, was based on lies, violations of international law, violations of U.S. law, and can only be rectified by withdrawal. The troops feelings on this are irrelevant.

Posted by: Bob C on June 4, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK
It was Clinton who expanded the mission from food relief to trying to capture Aidid…. Mike K at 5:15 PM
That's irrelevant, chum. The fact is that Republicans opposed it, voted against it, and also declined to support it while troops were at risk. The liar is Patterico.
….we are morally superior to Radical Islam in every respect imaginable. …ex-lax at 2:49 PM
You have to show it to the world, not use empty rhetoric to make unsubstantiated claims. Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and other gulags, the massacre of Haditha and others Posted by: Mike on June 4, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Wow I didn't realize there was a full moon out tonight. Do leftwingnuts howl like banshees all the time or only when their lithium gives out.

I really love the moral compasses on display here. "Empty rhetoric to make unsubstantiated claims, etc" wow spoke like someone who has served (on the midnight shift at McDonalds) and has travelled far and wide (at least as far as his sandals would carry him) and devoted years to national security work (it must be exciting reading Rosie's latest memo!)

The amazing lack of analytical skills and judgement (of course the US killed 650,000 people) never mind this would mean the US is responsible for the death of about one in twenty Iraqis or that each American killed three Iraqis. Unfortunately the morgues and hospitals would bear evidence of such a blood letting but never mind the facts when they get in the way of your theories or tantrums.

I do lkove it when the especially demented here believe themselves to better judges of the cause the troops are fighting for than the troops themselves because of their superior:
a-contact with the enemy
b-daily experience in dealing with Iraqi culture and people
c-being able to access the Daily show and worship at the fount of all wisdom.
d-putting themselves at risk by speaking truth to other leftwingnuts and trolls.

I am really, really learning that Americans are the equivalent of radical jihaddies according to the trolls here. Res ipsa loquitur trolls.

Its also amazing that we see the young ones here speaking about Vietnam, the same ones who couldn't find it on a map speak about Iraq in the same incredibly informed way the high school freshmen inform you about the future of the DOW average in the next five years. Such refreshing chant.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson on June 4, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Wow I didn't realize there was a full moon out tonight. Do leftwingnuts howl like banshees all the time or only when their lithium gives out.

I really love the moral compasses on display here. "Empty rhetoric to make unsubstantiated claims, etc" wow spoke like someone who has served (on the midnight shift at McDonalds) and has travelled far and wide (at least as far as his sandals would carry him) and devoted years to national security work (it must be exciting reading Rosie's latest memo!)

The amazing lack of analytical skills and judgement (of course the US killed 650,000 people) never mind this would mean the US is responsible for the death of about one in twenty Iraqis or that each American killed three Iraqis. Unfortunately the morgues and hospitals would bear evidence of such a blood letting but never mind the facts when they get in the way of your theories or tantrums.

I do lkove it when the especially demented here believe themselves to better judges of the cause the troops are fighting for than the troops themselves because of their superior:
a-contact with the enemy
b-daily experience in dealing with Iraqi culture and people
c-being able to access the Daily show and worship at the fount of all wisdom.
d-putting themselves at risk by speaking truth to other leftwingnuts and trolls.

I am really, really learning that Americans are the equivalent of radical jihaddies according to the trolls here. Res ipsa loquitur trolls.

Its also amazing that we see the young ones here speaking about Vietnam, the same ones who couldn't find it on a map speak about Iraq in the same incredibly informed way the high school freshmen inform you about the future of the DOW average in the next five years. Such refreshing chant.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson on June 4, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Wow I didn't realize there was a full moon out tonight. Do leftwingnuts howl like banshees all the time or only when their lithium gives out.

I really love the moral compasses on display here. "Empty rhetoric to make unsubstantiated claims, etc" wow spoke like someone who has served (on the midnight shift at McDonalds) and has travelled far and wide (at least as far as his sandals would carry him) and devoted years to national security work (it must be exciting reading Rosie's latest memo!)

The amazing lack of analytical skills and judgement (of course the US killed 650,000 people) never mind this would mean the US is responsible for the death of about one in twenty Iraqis or that each American killed three Iraqis. Unfortunately the morgues and hospitals would bear evidence of such a blood letting but never mind the facts when they get in the way of your theories or tantrums.

I do lkove it when the especially demented here believe themselves to better judges of the cause the troops are fighting for than the troops themselves because of their superior:
a-contact with the enemy
b-daily experience in dealing with Iraqi culture and people
c-being able to access the Daily show and worship at the fount of all wisdom.
d-putting themselves at risk by speaking truth to other leftwingnuts and trolls.

I am really, really learning that Americans are the equivalent of radical jihaddies according to the trolls here. Res ipsa loquitur trolls.

Its also amazing that we see the young ones here speaking about Vietnam, the same ones who couldn't find it on a map speak about Iraq in the same incredibly informed way the high school freshmen inform you about the future of the DOW average in the next five years. Such refreshing chant.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson on June 4, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: "...when the US surrenders to him in Iraq with the help of US liberals he will no doubt believe that Al-Quada defeated the United States. Why liberals want that is something that this ex-lib finds impossible to explain."

Truest words you've ever spoken. So why do you keep trying?

Posted by: Kenji on June 4, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

re Thomas Jackson 7:47PM: "...believe themselves better judges of the cause the troops are fighting for..."
It's something known as civilian control of the military. The troops are in Iraq because the U.S. government sent them there. If the U.S. government decides to remove them from Iraq, they go. The military is the original top-down, no-questions-allowed, autocratical pyramid. I'm very glad that the "troops" think they can "win". Doesn't matter. The troops work for me and I want them out!
Our military occupation of Iraq has us bogged down in the wrong place, fighting the wrong type of war at the wrong time. But, the military doesn't run the show - we civilians do. And I'll back my knowledge of national security, geopolitics, and morality against any member of the armed forces serving in Iraq or anywhere else.
As for sounding condescending - how would you like to be 25 years old and told you have to live in the barracks because you're only an E3? Ask permission to get married (no matter your rank)? The U.S. military condescends to the troops all the time.
The best way Democrats can show their "support of the troops" is to be honest about what we want to do about Iraq. Most members of the military are adults and can take the truth - if they don't like what the Democratic Party wishes to do, they are free to exercise their right of suffrage.
D.E. Stamate
USN (ret)

Posted by: Doug on June 4, 2007 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Quoted: "But to be told that politicians are doing them a favor by extricating them from a mission they believe in is downright insulting."

Kevin: "This is God's own truth."

Let me see if I understand the full foolishness of this argument.

If I try to get my daughter to stop taking speed, I mustn't claim that I'm trying to support her, I should just stick to the idea that it is a good idea to stop doing speed?

Because my daughter holds an incorrect belief, I cannot support her if I disagree with that belief and do everything in my power to stop that behavior and change that belief?

Really? Or did I just miss the sarcasm in your post? Do I not support the troops if I disagree with "many... perhaps even most" of their beliefs regarding women's and homosexual rights, or tattooing? Go ahead, pull the other one.

A rational person might argue that all the things you mentioned, body armor, better pay, and a just and realistic mission, are not "proxies" for supporting the troops, but vital components.

Even on its own ridiculous terms, Ackerman's argument that "many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight" is simply embarassing. Given the poll he cites, using active duty (not National Guard or support personnel) respondents from December (50% likely success, down from 83% two years ago), shows that the argument can be turned on its head with no effort. How can the Republicans claim to support the troops when "many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them," do not want to stay and fight? Or better yet, how can Democrats fail to claim they support the troops by pushing for withdrawal, when "many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them," do not want to stay and fight. What is the value of an argument that has no meaning? I know my answer, but yours apparently is that it is "God's own truth."

If you or Ackerman want to argue that Democrats are not supporting the troops' MISSION, then have at it (this is not a particularly controversial position), but to claim that Democrats must stop claiming to support the troops because they believe the mission is unjust is simply ignorant, and unworthy of someone (Ackerman) who pretends to be a senior correspondent and national security correspondent.

As for you, perhaps you should be given leeway if you are expected to say nice things about correspondents working for your employer. But it is still extremely disappointing, as the argument is complete junk.

Posted by: mere mortal on June 4, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Least we forget, many of the troops in Iraq have been diagnosed with psychiatric (DSM lV) illnesses. As a nation, this is no longer a problem, as the military believes that it is perfectly ethical to send mentally ill people back to Iraq with medications which can be studied at length, because these folks are volunteers, not draftees.

We can thus support our war efforts, our troops, and the mentally ill at the same time.

Posted by: Johnny Doughey on June 5, 2007 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas Jackson: Its also amazing that we see the young ones here speaking about Vietnam, the same ones who couldn't find it on a map speak about Iraq in the same incredibly informed way the high school freshmen inform you about the future of the DOW average in the next five years. Such refreshing chant.

What's even more amazing is seeing idiots like Jackson dismiss the thousands of troops that oppose the war and have the same experience as those allegedly "supporting" it and insisting that privates in the field should be making US foreign policy decisions and ignore the fact that the troops are bound by military protocol which requires a different outlook that has nothing to do with broad foreign policy concerns and that foreign policy is the equivalent of military discipline and policy.

And he also ignores the opinions of most of the retired generals, many of whom have served in or during the Iraq war, who oppose the surge and continued US presence and he ignores the fact that Bush had to delve into lower-ranking officers to find one to be in charge of his Iraq misadventure because all the qualified ones told him to shove it and that instead of listening to expierenced and competent military leaders, Bush has cast about for yes-men looking to promote their military careers by publically agreeing with him.

But hey Thomas don't let any facts get in the way of your opinions.

Posted by: anonymous on June 5, 2007 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

The troops are trained to want to kill. What a simple truth, but few people in supposedly civilized America will admit it. The army even uses video games to overcome the troops’ natural aversion to killing. What fun it is, mowing ‘em down!

When we spend vast sums on a hair trigger offensive force laden with shiny toys designed for the joy of killing, should we be surprised if the guys can hardly wait to use them? Does supporting the the troops mean assenting every time they have an itch to kick some butt?

Hey liberals, in our lust to regain power we have lost our way. We used to support cutting our troop strength—making our troops into defensive forces only. What a better world we would have today if we had succeeded in our mission!

Posted by: Jagadeesan on June 5, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Telling the truth, as usual, is better: we need to leave Iraq not because we think the troops need rescuing, but because we think that leaving is what's best for our national security.

I like to believe I am telling the truth when I say I want us out of Iraq mostly because I don't want another soldier's life lost in an strategically and morally flawed war. That's the main reason. And that's the truth. I think there's probably some value to at least thinking about Ackerman's point -- that the troops don't equate my concern for their lives with "support" -- but it is the real reason I support withdrawal, sorry Kevin.

Frankly I find Kevin's post somewhat mystifying -- he suggests that it's not "the truth" to say that wanting to put an end to the killing of soldiers is the reason to leave Iraq. I think he's confused about what he means by "the truth." I think he has it backwards. He doesn't want to offend, and turn off, the troops by seeming condescending when he's honest about why we need to get out. Fine. There's a lot to be said for being careful about such concerns. But don't invoke "the truth" when what you really mean is "the most expedient argument."

One more thought. I fear that this is giving into the right wing framing of the issue -- that supporting the mission is the same thing as supporting the troops, and it's not "the truth" to say you support the soldiers who are fighting and dying and killing if you don't support the mission. We shouldn't accept this trope. It's not true. Anyone who's bought into it is plain wrong -- and, unfortunately, that includes any soldiers who have bought into it. What's truly condescending is to pretend we agree with them just because they're soldiers.

Posted by: part time hustler on July 7, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

To address the argument about how, because terrorists torture, we should be allowed to do it too... Well, first there's the moral question. I happen to believe it's immoral, no matter what anyone else does. But it's hard to win a moral argument, damn near impossible when you have different 'morals' from the person you're arguing with.

But it seems that some of the pro-torture posters on this thread are trying to make a pragmatic, rather than a moral, point: since "al Qaeda" (whoever that really is) uses torture, we aren't fully equipped to confront them unless we use it too. But I don't see how that follows. What's this special value that the bad guys are getting from torturing people, aside from some sadistic satisfaction and an abstract sense that they're doing "whatever is necessary" for their cause? Are they getting some strategic advantage over us that can only be counteracted by torturing our own captives?

Put aside the debate about whether torture is even an effective interrogation technique. Has al Qaeda used torture to get crucial information out of our guys? I haven't seen any evidence of it. (That they have tortured people is not convincing proof that they've gotten key information from them -- who have they captured who would have such info?) But if they have, is it really true that our war against them is less effective, because they use torture, if we don't use torture? I've never seen that position explained.

Listen, I'm not even saying that that position is wrong, I'm just saying I don't get how it matches up -- what is the added advantage to our using torture that we get specifically because the other guys use it?

Posted by: part time hustler on July 7, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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