Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PETRAEUS'S DRAWDOWN....This slide from Gen. David Paraeus's testimony today is a work of art, isn't it? It looks like some kind of timeline for withdrawal, but all it actually says is that we'll withdraw five brigades by next July, something we already know is driven not by strategic considerations but by operational realities, and that eventually — someday — we'll draw down to five brigades. Could be tomorrow, could be ten years from now, but hey — the slide shows troops levels going down, and that's the graphic that counts.

And the target date for deciding whether the actual date is tomorrow or 2017? March of 2008, exactly six months from now. Sometimes these guys make Atrios's job too easy.

Kevin Drum 2:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (82)

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I just made the point over at Yglesias' blog. It's a classic example of how to misuse Powerpoint--Tufte can include in his next book.

Posted by: ArchPundit on September 10, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Establishing a timeline just lets the terrorists know how long they have to hold out for until the Democrats force a surrender. By keeping our response to the situation fluid and dynamic, we avoid that problem. The past few years of steady progress suggest we can probably withdrawal by 2010, assuming a president who is committed to victory in Iraq is elected. I sincerely hope a Democrat committed to victory wins the nomination, because that means the 2008 general election will be between two patriots.

Posted by: Al on September 10, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Is it just me, or do I detect a Laffer curve in there.....?

Posted by: Stefan on September 10, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

i assume the brilliant wingnut statisticians and epidemiologists will give this report the same thorough attention they been giving the Lancet report for the past three years... right?

that the data and the methodology are classified should only be a small problem to all those hard-nosed Conservapedia Browns. check the kerning!

Posted by: cleek on September 10, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Oooooooh, look at all the pretty colors!!
Let's give him another Friedman Unit.

Posted by: Congress on September 10, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

How does March '08 come both before and after July '08?

Granted, I am no master at the use and construction of timelines, but don't they have to at least work within the parameters of, umm... time?

Posted by: John Cole on September 10, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

One is a decision point in March 2008. The other is a decision point sometime after July 2008, the date of which will be decided no later than March 2008.

Posted by: treetop on September 10, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

John: The second reference to March 08 says only that the date of the second drawdown will will be determined in March 08. It's the actual date of the drawdown itself that comes after July 08.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 10, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Pretty colors!

It is teh awesome!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 10, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

There should be civil penalties for such abuses of software.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 10, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Petreus probably has his own timetable: Carry the water for the Republicans through 2008, then retire to the private sector for the really big bucks.

Where should he go? A government contractor like Halliburton? Some private equity firm like Carlyle? Some think tank like AEI? Oh, the possibilities!!! Oh joy!!!

All he has to do is read from the colorful charts produced by the spinners and marketing types in the Bush administration and he's got it made.

Posted by: ESaund on September 10, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin- I see it now. Working on a laptop and it was super small and I could not figure out what on earth it meant.

I see now that the date is an undetermined number of Friedman units away, but that undetermined number will be determine no later than March of '08.

Much clearer, now. I need a drink.

Posted by: John Cole on September 10, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think that one way to respond to the slide is to copy it over exactly as is, except that one makes the question marks about ten times larger.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 10, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

I like the nice stair-step effect.

The ponies can climb up it to meet us.

Posted by: snoey on September 10, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Establishing a timeline just lets the terrorists know how long they have to hold out for until the Democrats force a surrender. -AL

The Democrats never talked about a surrender AL, that yout projectionist emotional belief. Its Al crying wolf.

. we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment[read reduction AL] of our forces ... We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, ...
www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/01/05/dems.letter/index.html

Posted by: Ya Know... on September 10, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Al on September 10, 2007 at 3:38 PM

Bush said, AL, "As The Iraqi Troops Stand Up We Will Stand Down"

What does that mean, AL?

Posted by: Ya Know... on September 10, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Prize so far goes to snoey.

Best laugh yet.

Posted by: notthere on September 10, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Echoing sentiments expressed over at Matt's place: I keep reading this chart but for the life of me can't locate Rainbow Brite or the Unicorns of Eternal Happiness. I know they meet somewhere in Anbar Province but Patraeus is being suspiciously vague as to the exact location.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 10, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

I second Arch -- this is a classic for saying with visuals what it does NOT say with facts.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 10, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I was out running errands at lunch and caught just a bit of Crocker (or is it Crockof?). Perhaps this was a rebroadcast of earlier testimony, but if I'm not mistaken, he pinned the Sabra and Shatilla massacres on our "reassignment of the Marine's mission" or some such nonsense, then goes on to link this to the rise of Hamas. The idiot congressman from NJ, a Rethug I believe, didn't bat an eye at the omission that the massacres were carried out and overseen by erstwhile U.S. allies.

Congressional testimony thy name is obfuscation. Complete waste of time.

Posted by: JeffII on September 10, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

1) Surge troops
2) ?
3) Profit!

Posted by: Gregory on September 10, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory - I know the underpants gnomes cliche, but

1) Surge troops
2) Profit!
3) ?

...is more accurate.

Posted by: anonymous on September 10, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Day-um. If I ever presented such a weasely graphic I'd be laughed out of the meeting room.

Posted by: idlemind on September 10, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

How treasonous of Mr. Drum to publicize this graph. Now the terrorist will know the what events to engineer and in what precise sequence so they can force us out. This is a very grave security breach.

Posted by: gregor on September 10, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Well the chart is mystifying if you did not to listen to Petraeus as he briefed it. Petraeus, like many others, does not agree with those who think a date-certain deadline for withdrawal makes sense:

"In view of this, I do not believe it is reasonable to have an adequate appreciation for the pace of further reductions and mission adjustments beyond the summer of 2008 until about mid-March of next year. We will, no later than that time, consider factors similar to those on which I based the current recommendations, having by then, of course, a better feel for the security situation, the improvements in the capabilities of our Iraqi counterparts, and the enemy situation. I will then, as I did in developing the recommendations I have explained here today, also take into consideration the demands on our Nation’s ground forces, although I believe that that consideration should once again inform, not drive, the recommendations I make."

In other words, Petraeus wasn't trying to be sneaky or make the chart say something it didn't. In fact, he explicitly rejected the notion on "target dates" but did commit to deadlines by which he will assess the possibility for further troop reductions.

But impugning Petraeus with a quick cheap shot is clearly easier than, you know, actually listening to him.

Posted by: Hacksaw on September 10, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Of course is Petreaus' critics were really smart, they might have pointed out that this chart presumes that even under the best case troop reduction scenario, we would still have a division or more of soldiers in Iraq in perpetuity in an operation or strategic overwatch role. But maybe reading the slide closely is every bit as difficult as actually listening to Petraeus.

Posted by: Hacksaw on September 10, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus wasn't trying to be sneaky or make the chart say something it didn't.

That's good, because the chart says nothing. It's worthless, meaningless.

Posted by: ckelly on September 10, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw has a point - There is so much more for Gen Petrock to accomplish in Gaul.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 10, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Just to be mean as a thought experiment, if this had been a Democratic administration with a General presenting this graph to a Congress with a Republican majority:

1) The misleading specifics would be identified immediately, and a wide range of sources would promptly attack each one. There would be NO news cycle in which the story "Petraeus testifies..." would be the news.

The Weekly Standard would focus on the refusal to state what decisions would be made as an obvious attempt to mislead the Congress and the public.

National Review would start reporting how the Pentagon was over-ruled and the graph was actually a product of the White House communications office.

News reports from CNN and ABC, not to mention Fox, would all be after whether the White House had deliberately altered the General's original testimony, for which the graph was simply a clumsy cover up: the REAL scandal was how the White House politicized military advice.

Within a week, conventional wisdom would have hardened around the Notion that somehow, the White House HAD changed the General's testimony in some fundamentally phony way -- the vague unprovability of the charge would be proof how sneaky it was; and of course since the decisions about when we leave haven't been made: viola!

2) Disciplined attacks on misleading specifics (it seems to say we're getting out, but actually the commitment is open-ended) would be jumping off points for bigger and harsher criticism, e.g., the White House is trying to cover up a radically changed policy (that only changed because of its critics), which PROVES how the White House campaign of disinformation that unfortunately involved a respected general has only political motivations, which in turn require an open-ended commitment to a war with no rational purpose or goal in sight...

Tom DeLay would have been the point man for the further out wingnuts in Congress (but more astute than MoveOn -- he'd have said something like "they want to betray us so they've sent us Petraeus"); and of course talk radio and the like would have been in high gear.

There would be a clear message from the Right, across the board.

So, how come we can't do that? Cuz as progressives, collectively, we've got an infantile compulsion to confuse what we want and how we get it.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 10, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

The administration is asking Congress for funding. In order to supply the funding on a rational basis, doesn't Congress have to know how long troops might be in there? If it is content free, with no values, they should give the report an Incomplete, and send it back for more work.

I mean, crikey, without some mission parameters, it's just marketing fluff.

Posted by: MobiusKlein on September 10, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: No, not Laffer. The Laffer curve is a humped curve, with an optimum point where tax rates provide the most revenue. After that, suppression of business activity makes for less revenue despite higher rates. Technically the LC must be true, but argument goes on about the place beyond which higher tax rates must be counterproductive, and whether it applies more to overall rates or even the marginal rate as well.

Posted by: Neil B. on September 10, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Prize so far goes to snoey.

Agreed, but I also enjoyed Gore/Edwards '08.

Hacksaw, you crack me up. There really isn't any length you won't go to to defend this dishonorable man and his masters.

Posted by: shortstop on September 10, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I third snoey's nomination as humorist of the day.

The monotonically decreasing ladder graph sure will provide lots of nice spots for cats to snooze on. Kevin, maybe you should do a fresh laundry for each step so that Inkblot can be really comfortable?

Posted by: optical weenie on September 10, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Thank God the Democrats sent all of their charismatically-challenged deep south Congressmen out there to ask inane questions that had no point.

What's the point these days? Did they plan to look like clowns and dumbasses? Did they sit down with goddamned Steny Hoyer and plan how to make it all look like the most incompetently run goat rope of a show so that the Republicans could sit back and tut-tut about how unserious the anti-war movement is? It's a microphone lead. It goes from the microphone to the device which amplifies the voice. It ain't fucking rocket science.

Do you think hiring someone to figure out who the Code Pink freaks were would have been a good idea? Hello? Crazy lady wearing pink--dead giveaway.

Thanks, Democrats. Thanks a lot. Why not just send a drunken Ted Kennedy up there with no pants on. Would have been just as effective...

Some days, I wonder what it's all about.

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 10, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Make no mistake, we are watching Petraeus pull a Colin Powell. He is on the stage of history spewing crap that just ain't so. People are left to wonder to what degree he really believes his own words and to what degree he is just lying.

Same ole line: Al-Qaeda, al-qaeda, al-qaeda. What a disgusting crock.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 10, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly - the chart says more than nothing. It describes Petraeus concept for how the US pull away from more direct missions (leading / partnering) into a more detached but enduring role (overwatch). If you read the chart closely, you will understand how Petraeus assesses the the current and near-term assignment of brigades in Iraq to various mission and how increased Iraqi capabilities (if and when they occur) will impact the number of US forces in Iraq. Finally, he commits to decision points where he will reevaluate the possibilities for further future reductions. Please understand, I'm not saying this is the greatest of all PowerPoint slides, but it is far from meaningless.

shortstop - I'd reply but you didn't really say anything. Shame on you for calling Petraeus dishonorable though.

Posted by: Hacksaw on September 10, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Funny thing about that slide: its actually Petraeus' argument to Bush about why he should be given a 5th star to wear on his pretty uniform -- it has nothing to do with a troop drawdown at all!

Posted by: The Fool on September 10, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Rather than add a comment with no value to a discussion with no impact about a presentation with no honor, I will merely question whether the true spelling of the possesives shouldn't be Atrios' and Petraeus'?

Posted by: lahke on September 10, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus' recommendation to drawn down forces by next summer is akin to promising to have the sun rise in the east and set in the west. That's what already was going to happen by necessity. He's not offering us anything different.

Posted by: Realist on September 10, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw: enduring role
I think Hacksaw has given the mission its new, proper name:
Operation Enduring Role

Posted by: thersites on September 10, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus dreams in color!

Posted by: hollywood on September 10, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Fair enough, thersites, but it sure beats Operation Immediate Surrender.

Posted by: Hacksaw on September 10, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "I sincerely hope a Democrat committed to victory wins the nomination, because that means the 2008 general election will be between two patriots."

Wow, what an admission! Guess that means you are "sincerely" ready to be told what to do and think by any available father figure.

Why don't you be a man and just admit that you don't care how many Americans (or Iraqis) die between now and "whenever", just so you don't have to admit that you have been wrong, wrong, wrong at every turn.

Posted by: Kenji on September 10, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

... and then there's Operation Hacksaw: Enduring Troll.

Posted by: junebug on September 10, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Hack: Shame on you for calling Petraeus dishonorable though.

I'm funny that way. When people spin and lie for years to promote a political agenda at the expense of human life, I'm kind of a harsh critic.

lahke: Style choice. AP would go with Atrios', Strunk and White with Atrios's, Chicago with Atrios's; I can't remember the rest right now.

Posted by: shortstop on September 10, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

**

Posted by: mhr on September 10, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: No, not Laffer. The Laffer curve is a humped curve, with an optimum point where tax rates provide the most revenue. After that, suppression of business activity makes for less revenue despite higher rates. Technically the LC must be true, but argument goes on about the place beyond which higher tax rates must be counterproductive, and whether it applies more to overall rates or even the marginal rate as well.

Uh, yes, I know that. I was making a (perhaps feeble) joke based on conservatives' tendency to see a Laffer curve in every graphical projection of tax data.

Posted by: Stefan on September 10, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK
Leading to Partnering to Overwatch (Tactical to Operational to Strategic)

That’s the brilliant line at the bottom of the graph.

This graph reminds me of rushing to get some kind of answer down on a military science quiz in my first ROTC course in college. Everything produced by the Bush administration reminds me of such.

BTW, this graph says the exact same thing that Petraeus said in his 2004 editorial in support of the reelection of George Bush. There was no meaningful timeline in that editorial either.

Let’s just do war. We know we’re the good guys, so God will let us win eventually.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 10, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Reminds me of the pretty charts the missile defence people used to put up, as an alternative to working antimissiles.

Posted by: James Wimberley on September 10, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Shame on you for calling Petraeus dishonorable though.

Oh no! The shame! The shame! The shame of actually calling a liar a liar!

Posted by: Stefan on September 10, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Operation Immediate Surrender.

This is bullshit and you know it. You are just being intellectually dishonest to the kth degree.

Withdrawal of an occupation is not surrender. It is simply...withdrawal. We are not at war with a state, there is no group with whom to hold peace talks, there is no surrender to be had. It is semantic bullshit and it is patently dishonest and only the most fervent foam-flecked loons are even willing to walk that far out on the desperation limb.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 10, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

another slight of hand... most slides only covered the period of Aug 06 to the present. So while it looks like violence is down, its only returning to the enormously violent mid-2006 level

Posted by: dartvader on September 10, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hoo-boy! It pays to be alert. I finally caught mhr's remarks before they got *-ed. I feel like the guy who finally spotted the jack-a-lope... or, in this case, the jackass-a-lope.

Posted by: junebug on September 10, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

or, in this case, the jackass-a-lope.

It's like spotting a Yeti, isn't it?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 10, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK
....It describes Petraeus concept for how the US pull away from more direct missions....Hack at 5:26 PM
Powerpoint slides like this describe nothing. They are made of air. This slide is a description of faint hope because there is no data supporting it.

For example, if violence is really down where troops levels are up, what will happen when troop levels go down as they must because of overextended tours of duty?

In this occupation, American military controls the ground it stands upon. Only that and nothing more.

.... it sure beats Operation Immediate Surrender. Hack at 5:37 PM
Having met all the announced goals of the invasion, leaving equals surrendering according to Fighting Keyboarders.
The American people do not want the likes .... liberals deciding the war.... meathead republican at 5:41 PM
Actually, 63% of them do. Perhaps it's time you went over to Iraq and won the war for your itty biddy buddy Bush? He just has a boy named Petraeus. Posted by: Mike on September 10, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

You read my mind BGRS. I've been saying that for a couple of years, always thinking that the logic was obvious.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 10, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Leading?
Partnering?
Overwatch??

I found it necessary to make a few clarifications in Mission lingo. Here's a more understandable version of the good General's honorable vision of the future.

Posted by: along on September 10, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

BG: It's like spotting a Yeti, isn't it?

Yeti keeps posting, doesn't he?

Posted by: thersites on September 10, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

That's the gayest-looking graph I've ever seeen.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on September 10, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

You know, if you step back and squint a bit it looks like a graph of Bush's year by year approval ratings....

Posted by: Stefan on September 10, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

"ckelly - the chart says more than nothing."

Not really. There is not a single substantive point to be learned from that chart.

"It describes Petraeus concept for how the US pull away from more direct missions (leading / partnering) into a more detached but enduring role (overwatch)."

Nope. It simply says that we will do this (or, more accurately, that we hope we will be able to do this). It says not one word about whether, how, or when we will be able to accomplish any of this, much less what "this" really consists of or the metrics that we will use to measure the various options. It's meaningless blather designed to fool idiots like you.

The only data we get from the chart is data that we already knew -- that they have to draw down the troops in a few months because if they don't, the army may well be screwed.

"If you read the chart closely, you will understand how Petraeus assesses the the current and near-term assignment of brigades in Iraq to various mission and how increased Iraqi capabilities (if and when they occur) will impact the number of US forces in Iraq."

No, actually, you won't, because no such data is there. The fact that you're seeing data where none exists says a lot about you.

"Finally, he commits to decision points where he will reevaluate the possibilities for further future reductions."

And again, no, he doesn't. He makes no commitment of any kind other than the March, 2008 commitment which was already on the books.

"Please understand, I'm not saying this is the greatest of all PowerPoint slides, but it is far from meaningless."

Alas, you are, as usual, 100% wrong.

Posted by: PaulB on September 10, 2007 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Helpful additions to the graph, Along, I hope we see a lot of take offs on this particular staircase of the poinies.

Posted by: Emma Anne on September 10, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Withdrawal of an occupation is not surrender. It is simply...withdrawal. We are not at war with a state, there is no group with whom to hold peace talks, there is no surrender to be had."
_________________________

Very true, but we'll still be fighting this particular non-state even after we withdraw from Iraq and it won't just be with policemen. How we leave is bound to affect how well we do elsewhere.

Then too, if we leave Iraq too soon, we might very well get that state-to-state war everyone seems to prefer over the current insurgency. We might get it no matter how much we'd like to ignore what happens to the Iraqis.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 10, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

oh wow, Emma Anne, that's a perfect idea...

Posted by: along on September 10, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Very true, but we'll still be fighting this particular non-state even after we withdraw from Iraq and it won't just be with policemen.

Why?

We did not, for example, continue fightint the Vietnamese after we withdrew from Vietnam. The Soviets, for another example, did not continue fighting the Afghan mujahideen after they withdrew from their failed invasion, and they even shared a border with that country. So why would we continue to fight Iraqi rebels fighting against our occupation after we end that occupation?

Posted by: Stefan on September 10, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Then too, if we leave Iraq too soon, we might very well get that state-to-state war everyone seems to prefer over the current insurgency. We might get it no matter how much we'd like to ignore what happens to the Iraqis.

Why only "if we leave Iraq too soon" but not "if we leave Iraq too late"? Be specific. Show your work.

Posted by: Stefan on September 10, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Very true, but we'll still be fighting this particular non-state even after we withdraw from Iraq and it won't just be with policemen.

You and I were both attached to the Air Force when Bader-Meinhof was active. Rome Airport, 1985 make the hair on the back of anyone else's neck stand up? The Europeans have been dealing with the threat of terrorism effectively with common sense security and law enforcement for decades.

We got into this mess using militaristic thinking. We are not going to get out of it with more of the same.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 10, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer: I didn't realize inanimate, non-reproducing graphics had a sexual preference. Wow, the things you can learn from reading comments!

Posted by: David in NM on September 10, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

he explicitly rejected the notion on "target dates" but did commit to deadlines

Brilliant! I do believe that Hacksaw just out-Petraeused Petraeus.

Btw, I would just like to confirm that I explicitly reject the notion of skunks, but I am fully committed to polecats.

Posted by: Disputo on September 10, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: "We did not, for example, continue fighting the Vietnamese after we withdrew from Vietnam."

However, we were obviously still fighting the Vietnamese within our own collective heads until well into the 1990s:

* The Reagan administration supported the Khmer Rouge rebels in their guerilla campaign against Vietnam's occupation of Cambodia.

* Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone made millions off their right-wing jingoistic Missing in Action and Rambo movies, in large part by falsely implying that Vietnam continued to hold American POWs well after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

* On the opposite end of Hollywood's political spectrum, Oliver Stone won two Oscars for directing Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July.

* Republicans by and large opposed the Clinton Administration's decision to normalize relations with Vietnam in the 1990s.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 10, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

When the Iraqi army stands up we will stand down.Are we knocking them off there feet on purpose then?

Posted by: john john on September 10, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Along, here's another one already, with ponies!

http://ok-cleek.com/blogs/?p=1899

I want one with the underpants gnomes plan to profit next.

Posted by: Emma Anne on September 10, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Europeans have been dealing with the threat of terrorism effectively with common sense security and law enforcement for decades. Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.)

Except for the poor Brits. Heathrow is a fucking nightmare by all accounts and Gatwick isn't much better. Part of it is that both places are reportedly poorly run (though didn't used to be, I guess). But you would think after all the years of dealing with the IRA that the Brits of all people would have sensible anti-terror measures for airports.

Then again, if Blair hadn't been such an idiot and committed Britain to Iraq . . .

Posted by: JeffII on September 10, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "As The Iraqi Troops Stand Up We Will Stand Down"

What you mean WE, white man?

Posted by: Kenji on September 10, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Petreus probably has his own timetable: Carry the water for the Republicans through 2008, then retire to the private sector for the really big bucks.

Where should he go? A government contractor like Halliburton? Some private equity firm like Carlyle? Some think tank like AEI? Oh, the possibilities!!! Oh joy!!!"

A prediction - he'll resign during the transition period, between Nov 08 and Inauguration Day. No matter who wins, because things are f*cked under a GOP president just as much (well, far, far more).

If it's a Democratic president, he'll leak some BS lie about disagreement on how to run the war, and make it look like he was forced out. That'd fit neatly into the theme of 'we waz winnin' 'till the Evul DemonokRats surrendered!'.

Posted by: Barry on September 10, 2007 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Busybusybusy has updated Petraeus' chart:

www.busybusybusy.com/images/PetraeusPlan005.jpg

Posted by: lazylazylazy on September 10, 2007 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Busybusybusy has updated Petraeus' chart:"

Knee-slapper!! Oh the kids these days are so creative :)

Posted by: Captain on September 10, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw,

Sorry, there simply is no plan there. It's an invented scale with unspecified time periods (which, other than March 2008. could well be decades) that shows what is desired but nothing about how to do it beyond "keep doing what we've been doing." How do these progress levels relate to the actual sectarian strife that is occurring? Petraeus' explanations simply don't tie this jello salad to what is actually happening.

Posted by: idlemind on September 10, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Very true, but we'll still be fighting this particular non-state even after we withdraw from Iraq and it won't just be with policemen."

Which "non-state" would that be? al Qaeda? Yeah, right.... As with the Bush administration, you give them far too much credit and influence.

If we're "fighting" al Qaeda with anything other than intelligence and policemen, we'll be fighting the wrong war and playing their game, just as we did in Iraq.

"How we leave is bound to affect how well we do elsewhere."

That same tired argument has been used over and over for decades. It's just not that simple and it's foolish to pretend that it is.

"Then too, if we leave Iraq too soon, we might very well get that state-to-state war everyone seems to prefer over the current insurgency."

ROFL.... My goodness, but sure you are a scared lad. Grow up and get real.

"We might get it no matter how much we'd like to ignore what happens to the Iraqis."

Monkeys might fly out of your butt, too, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

Posted by: PaulB on September 10, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

The surge is merely a tiny battle in a lost cause. Typical administration smoke and mirrors trying to make this a test of progress. There is a lot of Iraq outside of Baghdad.

Bush's mistake is that he didn't pick out a one block area and put 40,000 troops in that block. That would have been impressive! With hindsight, Baghdad was too large an area to demonstrate a success.

Posted by: Luther on September 10, 2007 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

We might get it no matter how much we'd like to ignore what happens to the Iraqis.

"What happens to the Iraqis" is a result of the war you support, Trashy, launched by the Party you carry water for, on the basis of a tissue of lies you condone.

"What happens to the Iraqis" has been going on for four years while assholes like you were yammering about painted schools. Sure, now, like Kevin said, Chaos Hawks like you admit that the last three years have been a mess, as if we'll forget how you approved of Bush's war then just as you do now (although it's true, the so-called "liberal media" can be counted on to forget).

Spare us the crocodile tears about "what happens to the Iraqis." If you truly gave a damn, you'd call for Bush and Cheney to be tried in the Hague. Instead you give them a free pass, so you can take your concren trolling and shove it.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Wow. Even more colors than in the Homeland Security Advisory System. (Is that pistachio or new chantreuse?)

Posted by: "Q" the Enchanter on September 11, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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