Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

2010 OR BUST....The Washington Post editorial page has been the target of plenty of chin scratching over the past few years from people who wonder just what's going on in Fred Hiatt's shop, but today's effort really outdoes itself. If I hadn't clicked the link and read it for myself, I think I would have figured it was an Onion parody or something.

Kevin Drum 1:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

Only 4 Friedmans till everyone gets a pony!

Posted by: Paul in KY on July 23, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

My first thought was McCain should buy the rights to this editorial and distribute it at every opportunity in his campaign travels. Hand one to everyone attending a rally. Blow it up to a 20' X 50' banner and lash it to a wall at the convention. Joe Lieberman couldn't have said it better. I agree, Fred has "Onioned" Obama.

Posted by: steve duncan on July 23, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "... plenty of chin scratching over the past few years from people who wonder just what's going on in Fred Hiatt's shop ..."

Sigh. It's not very hard to figure out. Like pretty much all of the mass media that is owned and controlled by a handful of giant corporations, the agenda of "Fred Hiatt's shop" is to promote the agenda of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc.

Can "sensible liberals" please drop the pretense that the corporate-owned mass media is some sort of impartial, public-interest enterprise rather than the right-wing corporate propaganda machine that it is? You'll be a lot less puzzled by their blatant lies about and character assassination of Obama and their equally blatant water-carrying for McCain, if you do.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 23, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Dumbass can't count, can't read.

No wonder he's a Republican.

Who does his typing?
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 23, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Check the comments section on this editorial, it's brutal.

Posted by: RollaMO on July 23, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I know that my opinion is not respected on this site, but I don't understand why well educated people, even if they are liberal, can not understand the problem with a set timetable for U.S. withdraw.

I believe that the best goal for Iraq is that the Iraqi Defense Forces be able to demonstrate that they can provide their own security going forward. A set timetable for U.S. withdraw makes this "demonstrated" capability impossible.

This is relatively simple to understand.

If we give a date when our troops will be pulled out, it makes it very simple for the enemy to schedule their next offensive. They simply go into preservation mode and just lay low waiting for the U.S. to withdraw. Things look peaceful before withdraw, and then disaster comes after the U.S. pulls out.

Now you may argue that this is the plan of our enemies already, They are just waiting for us to leave so they can attack the weaker Iraqi Defense Forces. This very well may be their strategy, but giving no time table for withdraw, makes it difficult for the enemy to maintain this strategy, and gives a realistic chance for U.S. field commanders to assess Iraqi army true capabilities. And the enemy will have a much harder time staying with the "lay-low" strategy due to their splintered non-central command structure.

OTOH - some may just want U.S. out of Iraq no matter what thinking that will "end the war". As Tom Maguire likes to point out, this is similar to saying there is no war in Darfur. I don't think isolationism is a good philosophy whether it comes from the left or the right.

OTOH -some others may argue, that the what the Republicans really want is to stay there with 100000+ troops permanently. All I can say is you have a very warped sense of what Republicans want and I can't help you. But if you have to base your arguments on a distorted view of your opponents, it would indicate that you don't have a very strong argument yourself.

Posted by: John Hansen on July 23, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

makes it very simple for the enemy to schedule their next offensive - John Hansen

John,
Just who exactly is the enemy? Can you identify a specific group?

Posted by: optical weenie on July 23, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

John

The surge and a lot of other things have worked well enough that Iraqis voters and politicians think they can take it from here. Time for us to go. Why can't you get that simple truth through your head.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 23, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sure seems that Hiatt is "in the tank" for McMain. Hansen, who are OUR enemies that would be lying low?

Posted by: keith g on July 23, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I wrote a comment on this at Matt's blog and some more in-depth stuff on the media, Maliki, and the Iraq war on my blog.

Posted by: Swan on July 23, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Gee Swan, you're up early today. Kinda unusual, suffering from insomnia?

Posted by: optical weenie on July 23, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you John Hansen. I think our real disagreement is over how long we stay, not over any timetable. For all kinds of reasons, military and economic and diplomatic, I think it imperative that we leave soon. Since we are leaving soon, I think there is little downside to saying about when, which is all Obama (and the Iraqi government) propose. If we limit ourself to no more than 3 Friedman units the benefits you see in not announcing when we're going are really insignificant. We can only do so much to shore up the "Iraqi army" and the contending parties can certainly wait us out with no problem. (Your belief that the "enemy" has a "non-centralized" command structure is quite wrong; the reason things are quiet there is largely that the Sadrists have decided to, as you put it "lay low." That was a centralized decision.)

But you, clearly, would be willing to stay much longer, to hinder the "enemy." That would be folly, I think. The Sadrists and other groups will not remain quiescent forever. The current government has no real legitimacy, and the various insurgents will begin their attacks again. (Actually, those attacks have not stopped; the Iraqi death toll is not so much different than it was two years ago, though it may have had worse periods in between. The violence goes in cycles, and this is a down cycle, but temporary.) And when the insurgents decide to attack us again, we will just be back where we were before -- in a bloody and expensive mess. And people like you will be saying, "Now we have to stay, to make things better." And so it will go. And the price in money, lives and prestige will get higher and higher.

This war has been one god-awful mistake, and prolonging it would just be another. Time to go, and no point in not saying when we're leaving.

Posted by: David in NY on July 23, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote: I know that my opinion is not respected on this site

You make it so easy, Hansen.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I wish just once, one goddamned time, someone opposed to a modestly framed goal of leaving would quantify and vividly describe what "winning in Iraq" is and why we can't leave until that happens. WTF, exactly, is victory? Be precise. One metric I've read is the ability of Iraq to independently defend themselves from enemies both within and without. The Middle East is a viper's pit of competing factions all armed to the teeth with weapons bought from all over the planet. Medium range missiles, advanced fighter jets, heavy mechanized artillary and even nuclear weapons. Is Iraq's ability to fend off an attack from Syria, Iran or Israel a benchmark needing achieved before we leave? How damn long would that take? Are we willing to let a democratically elected Iraqi government use oil revenues to send several hundred billion dollars off to China, Russia and France for advanced weapon systems? And would we agree once they possessed those weapon it was no damned business of the United States what their capabilities or technical workings consisted of? Again, someone define victory and explain how a sovereign nation doesn't fit that description once we've left.

Posted by: steve duncan on July 23, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Optical weenie - now that the war has gone on for quite some time, the enemy is getting pretty easy to identify. The allies are those who are tolerant enough to stand for a strong democratic Iraq. They do not want one party rule. This includes many who were first in doubt of U.S. intentions - and so were against us initially. They have seen that it is much better being a friend of the U.S. than a friend of AQI, or jihadists so they are now for us.

The enemy are those who profit from the collapse of the current democratic government of Iraq and want to create chaos so that either a single party (theirs) can take autocratic control, or a way is opened up for a religious centered theocracy. These militants feel so strongly about one-party rule that they are willing to blow up innocent Iraqis to achieve their goal. They are the enemy. This includes some radical Shiites (sp?), Sunni, and just plain misguided terrorists. My belief is that this enemy is not the majority of Iraqis, who I believe, will find a way to live under the cooperation of democracy because they have first hand seen the benefits of it.

Posted by: John Hansen on July 23, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, good Ford, the irony! John Hansen wrote: if you have to base your arguments on a distorted view of your opponents, it would indicate that you don't have a very strong argument yourself.

You don't say.

And then, as the icing on the cake, Fat White Guy posts next.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Swan,

Will you stay in your own blog, for pity's sake? You know we're understaffed, and I can't cover three blogs at once.

Now bend over, this will only hurt for a moment.

Posted by: nurse ratched on July 23, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote: now that the war has gone on for quite some time, the enemy is getting pretty easy to identify

The ones we aren't paying off?

And just to clarify, John Hansen, are you implying that the US doesn't blow up innocent Iraqis in pursuit of its goals?

Truly, it's mystifying why someone who regurgitates bullshit from dishonest right-wing -- but I repeat myself -- blogs (you gave away the game when you cited Tom Maguire, John) as if it were Gospel truth wouldn't find respect.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

The enemy are those who profit from the collapse of the current democratic government of Iraq and want to create chaos so that either a single party (theirs) can take autocratic control, or a way is opened up for a religious centered theocracy. These militants feel so strongly about one-party rule that they are willing to blow up innocent Iraqis to achieve their goal. They are the enemy.

Got it. So the enemy is the Republican Party. Thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by: Stefan on July 23, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

There are many possible interpretations besides "Maliki agrees with Obama."

Maliki could be lying. He could be playing up to a possible future president. He could be tweaking Bush's nose. He could be pacifying part of his constituency. There could be subtle qualifiers untranslated or unrecognized.

Posted by: Luther on July 23, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen: Do you expect the Shi'ites, even our Shi'ites who not control the government, and the Sunnis to cease their conflicts? How do you expect the Kurds and the Iraqis to settle the question of who controls the oil in the north? And so on.

Your picture of Iraq as a proto-Western democracy is lovely, but it is what we here call a "pony." The gift you'll never get, because it doesn't really exist. Yours is the same problem that got us into this terrible, costly disaster -- the failure to understand that the Iraqi people would not greet us with flowers, but with roadside bombs. By enormous majorities, they want us to leave. Why do we not do what they ask? Isn't it their country?

Posted by: David in NY on July 23, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

meant "shi'ites who now control the government"

Posted by: David in NY on July 23, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Got it. So the enemy is the Republican Party. Thanks for clearing that up.

I'm sure you noted, Stefan, that Hansen failed to be specific, as optical weenie requested -- he essentially said "the enemy are those who oppose the US agenda in Iraq."

Well, duh.

My belief is that this enemy is not the majority of Iraqis, who I believe, will find a way to live under the cooperation of democracy because they have first hand seen the benefits of it.

Yeah, a collapsed economy, slaughter in the streets, foreign occupation, ethnic cleansing, intermittent public services, rampant corruption, millions of refugees exiled, widows turning to prostitution, kids dying from preventable illnesses and just for laughs Blackwater mercenaries machine-gunning civilians at random intervals and getting off scot free -- what's not to like?

There's a certain wistfulness to Hansen's postings, isn't there? He's so desperate to believe the US is doing the right thing in Iraq that he ignores the entire neocon agenda -- how long they've advocated invading Iraq, and their reasons -- and the wholesale death and destruction Bush's incompetence and tyranny have visited on the country, all the while continuing to insist that other people's kids die in Iraq to maintain his illusions.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

How, exactly, could we possibly draw down 100,000 troops without everyone in the world who is paying attention knowing ahead of time that we were about to do so? Do we really have the option of keeping that a secret?

Please explain

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 23, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY

Thank you for a reasoned response. I would agree that there is a distinct possibility that when we leave, Iraq will descend into another civil war until a strongman from one of the factions grabs power and becomes Sadaam II. If that happens I will truly say this war has been a grave mistake.

But though I believe, that it has been soundly demonstrated that the neocons were wrong in thinking you can do nation-building on the cheap. I think that now that we are close to the point of victory it would be foolish to abandon Iraq.

I am ambivalent as to whether the Iraq war was a mistake. I hate to see people suffer as the Iraqis did under Sadaam, so I am not sorry to see him go. OTOH - I will never again accept some group's insistence that we can easily go in and plant democracy in some country. Nation building is an arduous task that is very, very, risky. Nevertheless, I think that after working our way through some of the worst mistakes, we have found in David Patreaus (sp?) a leader who is up to the tough task before us. I think it foolish to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" just because you disagreed with the original premise of the war.

My question is, what is now best for the Iraqi people. I think it best that we give this current government a chance to evolve to as stable a democracy as you can get in the Middle East. I think we are getting close to victory on that scale. To destroy that by giving a time table for leaving would be undoing some of the good that has been done. It would be a mistake.

I believe the good thing to do is not to hold to some - get out the sooner the better - philosophy, but to go forward with the current strategy while we are making the great gains we currently are making. We may end up leaving by 2010, I would be happy if we could leave with victory sooner. But I think providing a firm time-table now actually reverses the gains we have made. Its not an error in hopefulness, but it is a gross error in strategy.

Posted by: John Hansen on July 23, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

@2:22, Stefan wins the thread!

And @2:25, Luther proves himself a desperate, straw-grasping, apologist hack!

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 23, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Luther wrote: There are many possible interpretations besides "Maliki agrees with Obama."

Of course, since Maliki explicitly said he agrees with Obama, that is the most apt interpretation. Though since it pretty well sinks McSame's whole raison d'etre, you can bet dishonest Republicans -- but I repeat myself -- will grasp at any straw to find an alternate interpretation.

Oh, looky here!

Maliki could be lying.

Which would raise the question of why, but even so, only a fool or a liar would take CENTCOM's claim he didn't mean it over Maliki's own words.

He could be playing up to a possible future president.

Which wouldn't actually, necessarily mean he doesn't agree.

He could be tweaking Bush's nose.

No responsible head of state would make embarrassing statements deliberately just to indulge in a fit of pique. Oh, wait, there's Bush, but I did say no responsible head od state...

He could be pacifying part of his constituency.

...in which case a statement to a German magazine, as opposed to Iraqi news agencies, seems an odd venue. But even so, it doesn't lessen the impact of Maliki's publicly siding with Obama. Indeed, if Maliki perceives that he needs to embrace a US withdrawal sooner rather than later, it'd indicate that things aren't as rosy as the GOP would have us believe.

There could be subtle qualifiers untranslated or unrecognized.

Actually, no, there couldn't be, since Maliki brought it up, mentioned it three times, and approved the translation.

No sale.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Well, John H., you're just wrong about an indefinite stay in Iraq being a good idea -- unless you want permanent bases there to control their oil, the Cheney game. You're wrong for the reason I stated and you ignored, the current govenment has no real legitimacy and the violence will begin again.

And really, the better case is that now is the ideal time to leave, even leaving out the likelihood of renewed violence if we don't. Far better for us to leave at a time of relative peace, when the Iraqi public may decline to support those who want bloodshed after we are gone. But if we stay and bloodshed begins again, we are likely to be forced out at a humiliating moment that leaved the Iraqis in worse shape than they are now. If we remain, the Iraqi people will be far more willing to side with insurgents than if we stay.

John Hansen, if you were really on the side of the Iraqi people, you would do what they want, and get our troops out now. To do so risks an even worse disaster. Right now 60% of the American public wants a timetable for withdrawal and the Iraqi public wants us gone by a far greater margin. If we stay, and if violence breaks out again, we will be forced to leave in awful circumstances. Now is the time.

That you do not seek our early withdrawal makes me suspect that you do not, as you protest, have the interests of the Iraqi people at heart.

Posted by: David in NY on July 23, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote: Thank you for a reasoned response.

Translation: Thank you for not treating my bullshit with the contempt it deserves.

there is a distinct possibility that when we leave, Iraq will descend into another civil war until a strongman from one of the factions grabs power and becomes Sadaam II.

Let me get this straight -- thousands of Americans dead, many more thousands greivously wounded, many more tens of thousands of Iraqis dead and maimed, Ford knows how many billions of dollars pissed away, America's reputation and moral standing greivously harmed and after so many long, bloody years a hack war cheerleader like you admits "there is a distinct possibility that when we leave, Iraq will descend into another civil war until a strongman from one of the factions grabs power"? There's a swell cost/benefit ratio!

If that happens I will truly say this war has been a grave mistake.

Thay you aren't saying so now marks you as a fool or a liar.

it has been soundly demonstrated that the neocons were wrong in thinking you can do nation-building on the cheap.

Let's not forget you were wrong for believing the neocons, Hansen. So what makes you right to believe them now?

I think that now that we are close to the point of victory it would be foolish to abandon Iraq.

Define "victory," please.

I am ambivalent as to whether the Iraq war was a mistake.

After all, those aren't your kids dead, and Bush lowered your taxes, and Republicans used the war to win elections, so it's win-win, right?

I hate to see people suffer as the Iraqis did under Sadaam, so I am not sorry to see him go.

You support, however -- or more accurately, ignore -- the suffering they've done since Bush invaded a nation that posed no threat to the US.

OTOH - I will never again accept some group's insistence that we can easily go in and plant democracy in some country.

So when we attack Iran, it'll just be airstrikes. USA! USA!!

I think that after working our way through some of the worst mistakes, we have found in David Patreaus (sp?) a leader who is up to the tough task before us.

Bamboozling Congress.

I think it foolish to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" just because you disagreed with the original premise of the war.

Note that Hansen is participating in the Dolchstosslegende, which is now in full swing.

Again, what victory? How does one win an occupation, especially one conducted under false pretenses?

My question is, what is now best for the Republican Party.

Fixed.

I think it best that we give this current government a chance to evolve to as stable a democracy as you can get in the Middle East.

Remember when dishonest conservatives used to pretend that liberals didn't belive that Arabs were capable of democracy?

Anyway, if the government depends on American troops to prop it up it will never be stable.

I think we are getting close to victory on that scale.

Based on what? And again, what is "victory"? If we can't leave until the government is stable, and it can't be stable as long as we are propping it up, we can never leave.

To destroy that by giving a time table for leaving would be undoing some of the good that has been done.

What good?

Your parroting of the Bush Administration line -- haven't you learned better by now, Hansen? -- that a "timetable" is destructive is bullshit anyway. We have to leave eventually; the Iraqis don't. They can wait until we leave regardless; a prospect you yourself admit.

And the Bush Administration has been forced to accept Maliki's demand for a timetable -- excuse me, time horizon -- anyway.

It would be a mistake.

I hope you can come up with a more convincing argument, because your assertion that the a stable democratic government is at all likely to spring from a foreign occupation isn't very persuasive.

And again, the Bush Administration appears to embrace that "mistake," as Maliki himself has now demanded it.

I believe the good thing to do is not to hold to some - get out the sooner the better - philosophy

Yes, because a philosophy that results in less loss of American lives and treasure can't be good.

Oh, but again, it isn't your life and treasure at risk -- you have your tax cuts, so you can advocate for your Party instead of your nation.

but to go forward with the current strategy while we are making the great gains we currently are making.

What current strategy? The "surge" is over. What gains? Even McSame admits the relative security gains -- that Iraq is merely violent instead of Hell on Earth -- is "fragile."

We may end up leaving by 2010, I would be happy if we could leave with victory sooner.

Anything to save the decades-long branding effort of the Republican Party as strong on defense, instead of the incompetent nitwits they've proved themselves.

But I think providing a firm time-table now actually reverses the gains we have made. Its not an error in hopefulness, but it is a gross error in strategy.

Your repetition of this assertion -- your parroting it from neocon propaganda, more accurately -- makes it no more convincing.

We get it, Hansen. Republicans have equated "leaving" with "losing" so long, you don't want to leave. But a stable Iraqi government cannot evolve while it is perceived as a US puppet, and no other government can exist in Iraq while the US occupies it at an enormous cost in blood and treasure.

The American people are sick of bearing that cost, on the basis of years of lies, and rightly so. Republican strategy has failed, and failed, and failed, and even if violence is down somewhat, even the surge has failed the very goals Bush set out for it (which is why you and your ilk moved the goalposts yet again). Like it or not, Hansen, we're getting out, and to hell with the Republicans' reputation. Your transparent efforts at Dolchstosslegende won't work -- the American people know Bush and the Republicans created this bloody mess, and won't trust the GOP with national security for a generation.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY wrote: the current govenment has no real legitimacy

This point can't be emphasized enough: not only does the Vichy Iraqi government, elected under the auspices of a US occupation, inherently lack legitimacy (which is why, after all, the insurgency continued -- remember the claims the election itself would stop the voilence?), but also the government utterly lacks the ability to maintain civil order, barricaded as it is within "the heavily fortified Green Zone" abnd dependent as it is on the US military to provide security.

Again: There can be no legitimate Iraqi government while under US occupation, and therefore no end to the political turmoil that grips the country. The continued assertions of war cheerleaders like Hansen, who showed such poor critical thinking skills in the runup to the invasion, are hardly persuasive.

Though they are a useful preview of the cosnervative Dolchstosslegende. Shame on you, Hansen.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

My question is, what is now best for the Iraqi people. I think it best that we give this current government a chance to evolve to as stable a democracy as you can get in the Middle East. John Hanson

I guess you believe deeply in the old white man's burden. We have to take care of our little brown brothers. We can't let them fail.

I have news for you Maliki is western educated. We put him in power. He has proved to be a pretty durable politician ever since. He even got himself elected. The elected Iraqi leaders have made it abundantly clear that they think we can safely leave by 2010. I am more than willing to listen to them. It is their country, after all. If they are right, we shouldn't stay a minute longer. If they are wrong, well shit happens.

Sorry John but your visions of NeoCon world empire are as full of crap as those of all the resource empire builders before you. If you want to steal oil, at least man up and admit you are a thief.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 23, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY

Your comments that the Iraqi people want us to leave is disingenuous at best. Sure the Iraqi's want to be self-governing, and as any proud citizenry they would want it unnecessary for there to be a foreign army providing security. But I don't know of an honest poll of the Iraqis which clearly demonstrates that they want us to leave yet.

You may suspect all you want that I don't really want the best for the Iraqi people, but that only makes sense if your position was intuitively obvious and my position was stupid and could only be held by either ignorance or evil intention. Of course that is a problem I have with many people on the left. Generally, they tend to think of themselves as informed, and their opponents as dumb. It certainly does not make for interesting debate, and is not a mature way of looking at things.

Posted by: John Hansen on July 23, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote: "My question is, what is now best for the Iraqi people."

Self-determination is best for the Iraqi people, and according to every poll on the question, the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people want the USA to withdraw all of its troops now.

Of course by your definition, that makes the Iraqi people "our enemy" and thus makes defeating the will of the Iraqi people the "victory" that you and John McCain seek.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 23, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

John

What do the American people think about your and John McCain's argument. Well according to MSNBC an NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll says "(w)ith the news that Iraq's prime minister wants the US to set a timetable for withdrawal, 60% of registered voters believe it's a good idea for the US to set such a timetable, while 30% say it's a bad idea." Interesting that the percentage of Americans who are opposed to Obama and Maliki almost exactly equal the last remaining Bushie dead enders.

The world has moved on. John McCain might be too old to realize that he is no longer relevant. What is your excuse?

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 23, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote: "Of course that is a problem I have with many people on the left. Generally, they tend to think of themselves as informed, and their opponents as dumb."

The content of your posted comments indicates that you are uninformed, unintelligent, and at times deliberately dishonest.

John Hansen wrote: "But I don't know of an honest poll of the Iraqis which clearly demonstrates that they want us to leave yet."

Considering the numerous polls of the Iraqis, conducted by different independent polling groups, all of which have shown that clear majorities of the Iraqi people want the US occupation to end and US troops to be withdrawn now, please explain in regard to each of these polls exactly and specifically why you don't believe they are "honest".

Alternatively, acknowledge that you don't know what you are talking about.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 23, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote: Your comments that the Iraqi people want us to leave is disingenuous at best.

Yes, the Iraqis have run a years-long insurgency against the US presence to show how happy they are to have us invading and occupying the country.

as any proud citizenry they would want it unnecessary for there to be a foreign army providing security

Especially if that foreign army, you know, invaded their country, and under false pretenses, yet.

You may suspect all you want that I don't really want the best for the Iraqi people

Given how neatly what you claim to want dovetails with what's perceived as good for the neocons and the Republican Party, such suspicion is only natural.

but that only makes sense if your position was intuitively obvious and my position was stupid and could only be held by either ignorance or evil intention.

Well, yeah. Your point?

Of course that is a problem I have with many people on the left.

...that they so consistently fail to be persuaded by your repeating bullshit Republican talking points.

Generally, they tend to think of themselves as informed, and their opponents as dumb.

Our respective statements in this thread don't do much to challenge that assumption, Hansen.

It certainly does not make for interesting debate, and is not a mature way of looking at things.

You aren't here for "interesting debate," Hansen. You are here to assert Republican talking points and are only interested in "debate" inasmuch as it validates your premises. Since I and others here believe these premises to be false, that is unlikely to happen.

Meanwhile, of course, you haven't responded to any of my challenges. So much for debate.

You use the word "disingenuous," Hansen. I don't think it means what you think it means. I'm positive that the statements of the Iraqi people and now the Iraqi leadership that they want us gone don't mean what you think they mean. I do think you're putting on a good demonstration of why your comments here aren't respected, though, so thanks for that.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on July 23, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

what is now best for the Iraqi people

We are not the Iraqi people's nurse-maids.

We should help people when we can, but that does not mean that we have to try to help people we can't actually help.

We've got no more a moral obligation to fix Iraq than we do to transform the Moon or Mars into habitable environments for future generations to escape to if earth gets too messed up- it's too big a task. There are other people we can help a lot more and a lot more easily (like people in America, or people abroad who are impoverished but live in less violent areas than Iraq) and if we were truly acting humanistically, those are the peole we would be helping, not squandering lives and resources in Iraq.

Iraq might benefit from a far more limited presence (that is dedicated solely to getting bad guys when they get violent) but our massive presence there is perhaps even provoking more violence than it is preventing. In any event, even if our presence makes some areas of their country safer, it is a real waste (in terms of how much good it does and how lasting that good is likely to be) compared to the good the money and manpower could be doing somewhere else.

Posted by: Swan on July 23, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Swan wrote: "We've got no more a moral obligation to fix Iraq ..."

On the contrary, the USA has an enormous moral obligation to Iraq, for the vast death and destruction and displacement and impoverishment that CheneyBush's war of unprovoked aggression based on lies has visited upon that country.

However, the ongoing US occupation has nothing to do with "fixing" Iraq and everything to do with establishing a permanent US military presence to enforce US corporate control and profits from the exploitation of Iraq's oil.

The occupation should be ended and the US should pay appropriately large reparations to the Iraqi people.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 23, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hansen, et al about Obama's presumptively "rigid" timetable: I don't think his timetable really is that rigid, but in an honest way that does not contradict what he said earlier. If something hits the fan during the phased withdrawal then the pace of it might have to change - but it is taken for granted that a "plan" might have to be changed in the face of challenges (any business plan, for example); that doesn't even have to be made explicit.

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 23, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist, Swan almost surely meant we had no obligation to go in to begin with; his comment does not really contradict yours about aftermath obligations (but Swan has the last word on his own intent.)

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 23, 2008 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

OTOH -some others may argue, that the what the Republicans really want is to stay there with 100000+ troops permanently. All I can say is you have a very warped sense of what Republicans want and I can't help you.

Oh really? Looks like the Iraqi government has that same warped sense of what Republicans want -- based on the demands of this Republican administration:

Abadi and other Iraqi officials said that assertion is undercut by the U.S. request to maintain 58 long-term bases in Iraq. The Americans originally pushed for more than 200 facilities across the country, according to Hadi al-Amiri, a powerful lawmaker who is the head of the Badr Organization, the former armed wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the country's largest Shiite political party.

Iraqi officials said the U.S. government also demanded the continuation of several current policies: authority to detain and hold Iraqis without turning them over to the Iraqi judicial system, immunity from Iraqi prosecution for both U.S. troops and private contractors, and the prerogative for U.S. forces to conduct operations without approval from the Iraqi government

58 bases, 200 facilities, immunity from prosecution, the right to imprison Iraqis without trial, and the right to launch a war against Iran without Iraqi consent.

Perhaps you're living on a parallel earth.

Now you may argue that this is the plan of our enemies already

"We" don't have any enemies in Iraq except perhaps those who are a little upset that we invaded and destroyed their country, which probably includes most living, breathing Iraqi citizens. In what melodrama are you living that you think we have enemies in Iraq plotting against us?

If we give a date when our troops will be pulled out, it makes it very simple for the enemy to schedule their next offensive. They simply go into preservation mode and just lay low waiting for the U.S. to withdraw.

Really?!? So the Republican plan is that we give no timetable, and then one morning the Iraqis wake up and all the American troops are gone along with all their armor and equipment, having all boarded jets undre the dark of night?!? Great plan!

This is about the most cartoonish analysis possible. It will take about a year to get everyone out. I'm pretty sure your imagined enemies will have a pretty good clue that we're leaving as they watch the endless convoys roll by and the cargo planes flying over twenty-four seven.

Posted by: trex on July 23, 2008 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

More amazing analytical acument from John Hansen:

This economy is going really well, and only those who want to find some reason to not think that worry that the supper rich are getting richer.

Posted by: John Hansen on October 29, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK


The feeling of pessimism in the country is due to a overwhelmingly liberal press which irrespective of the true statistics seeks to downgrade the economic news when a Republican is in office - something conservatives are against.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 28, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Do not disturb. Conservative genius at work.

Posted by: trex on July 23, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

A commenter on another blog mentioned that Michael Gerson has been hired onto the Post editorial board, which would only intensify the Republicanism and willed stupidity of the group.

Can anyone confirm, and might this particularly crappy editorial have been the inaugural effort from the new guy?

Posted by: Nell on July 24, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Here to me is the most mealy-mouthed, dishonest line in the editorial (italics mine:) "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes, made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010."

So he's a politician with "a history of tailoring his public staments for political purposes" -- as opposed to, say, every other politician on the face of the earth?!?! As if this is somehow wrong, or suspect, or dishonest on its face, rather than merely being part of a politician's job description???

Obviously they threw in that clause as a backhanded way to attack his credibility, but is there any politician they couldn't write that about? And yet you know that when writing about McCain they'd never dare to say he has "a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes," even though McCain flops around more than a beached flounder.

Posted by: Stefan on July 24, 2008 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

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