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Iraq is F**ked, part I

| 161 Comments

Yes, it is. Not yet as horribly as it may be, but badly enough that the influx of returnees has become a flood of refugees. People are voting with their feet, and they aren't happy feet. I'm distrustful of the quality of reports and reporting coming out of Iraq - on all sides these days - so I'm always looking for some basic indicators. Real estate prices are up? Doesn't happen in disaster areas, and it was recently happening in Baghdad - but not any more. Deaths and violence? Horrible, but not to the level of a full-scale internal war like Lebanon. But the local folks know what's going on and what's coming better than I do, and they are headed to anywhere that they can get out into. So yes, I'll stand up say that Iraq is simply f**ked (asterisks to make sure this gets through nanny filters at work).

Is it a complete humanitarian and military disaster as claimed by many? No, not yet. But it could be, and it could be soon, which means we'd better deal with this issue, and not keep hoping it just goes away. But it is clear that our overall strategic direction (as I - a reasonably well-informed citizen - know it) is wrong, and needs to change.

Let me talk first and foremost about what to do. Then a little bit about what I see is happening. And then in retrospect about how I think we got here.

I'll talk more in Part II about why, but simply put and as hard as things may be, I continue to believe that we have no choice but to succeed. A bogus "declare victory and leave" solution, as appealing as it may be to many of us in terms of domestic politics, will only result in a bloodbath within Iraq, will embolden the exact movement we went into Iraq and Afghanistan to push back, will strengthen the hand of the anti-American forces within Iran, and will almost certainly lead to a wider and bloodier set of wars within the Middle East - either with the United States as a participant, or with Israel if they are left on their own.

In early 2003, I wrote:

We're in this for the long haul. We don't get to 'declare victory and go home' when the going gets tough, elections are near, or TV shows pictures of the inevitable suffering that war causes. The Marshall Plan is a bad example, because the Europe that had been devastated by war had the commercial and entrepreneurial culture that simply needed stuff and money to get restarted. And we're good with stuff and money. This is going to take more, and we're going to have to be willing to figure it out as we go.

There are no good examples of this that I can think of in history. The postwar reconstruction of Japan comes the closest, and it's not necessarily a good example, because the Japanese by WWII were a coherent, unified, hierarchical society that could be changed by fiat from the top. The Robert Kaplan-esque world we're moving toward isn't.

Nothing has changed that view in the last three+ years. If it makes you better to call this "we broke it, we bought it", so be it - although one of my points is that Iraq was f**ked before we invaded, and had been so for a long time. We're now a party to the f**king, though and so have to own up to our responsibility.

So now the question is what to do.

In my mind, there are three legs to the problem. Iraqi, Domestic, and Foreign.

In Iraq, the military leg is the easiest. From Phil Carter at Slate:
This violent weekend proves that America needs to radically change its course in Iraq, while some form of victory still lies within our grasp. First, the U.S. military must reverse its trend of consolidation and redeploy its forces into Iraq's cities. Efficiency and force protection cannot define our military footprint in Iraq; if those are our goals, we may as well bring our troops home today. Instead, we must assume risk by pushing U.S. forces out into small patrol bases in the middle of Iraq's cities where they are able to work closely with Iraqi leaders and own the streets. Counterinsurgency requires engagement. The most effective U.S. efforts thus far in Iraq have been those that followed this maxim, like the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar, which established numerous bases within the city and attacked the insurgency from within with a mix of political, economic, and military action.

Second, the United States needs to reinforce the most successful part of its strategy so far - embedding advisers ($) with Iraqi units. Our embedded advisers achieve more bang for the buck than any other troops in Iraq; one good 12-man adviser team, living and working with an Iraqi unit, can bolster an entire Iraqi battalion. Without these advisers, Iraqi army and police units remain ineffective - or worse, they go rogue. However, these advisers are drawn primarily from the reserves and the staff ranks, not from America's military elite, so they represent the B Team of today's military talent. The military needs to invest its best people in the job. If necessary, it should shatter existing units to cull the best officers and sergeants - those selected for command positions - for this critical duty. And the United States cannot afford to lavish advisers on the Iraqi army alone, as it has largely done since 2003. It must extend the embedding program to the police and the Iraqi government, down to the province and city level, to bring critical services like security, electricity, and governance to the Iraqi people.

At the same time, we must recognize the limitations of our strategy to raise the Iraqi forces - it is a blueprint for withdrawal, not for victory. At best, it will enable us to substitute Iraqi soldiers and cops for American men and women. But simply replacing American soldiers with Iraqi soldiers and cops will not end the insurgency; it will merely transform it into a civil war where the state-equipped army and police battle with Sunni and Shiite militias, with Iraqi civilians frequently caught in the crossfire.

To combat the insurgency, America must adopt a more holistic approach than simply building up the country's security forces. We have the seeds of this in Iraq today - the State Department's Provincial Reconstruction Teams. I worked closely with the PRT in Diyala to advise the Iraqi courts, jails, and police, and I saw their tremendous potential. However, having been hamstrung by bureaucratic infighting between the State and Defense departments, these teams now lack the authority, personnel, and resources to run the reconstruction effort effectively. America should reach back to one of its positive lessons from Vietnam, the "Civil Operations and Rural Development Support" program. There, the United States created a unified organization to manage all military and civilian pacification programs, recognizing that only a unified effort could bring the right mix of political, economic, and military solutions to bear on problems.

Although we copied some parts of the CORDS model in Afghanistan and Iraq when we created the PRTs, we did not go nearly far enough. It has become cliché to say that the insurgency requires a political solution; in practical terms, that means subordinating military force to political considerations and authority. Today's PRT chiefs need to have command authority over everything in their provinces, much as ambassadors have traditionally exercised command over all military activity in their countries. We must also empower the PRTs to actually do something besides diplomacy - that means money. Like battlefield commanders, PRT chiefs need deep pockets of petty cash (what the military calls the Commander's Emergency Response Program fund) to start small reconstruction projects and local initiatives that will have an immediate and tangible impact.

The Iraq Study Group led by James Baker will reportedly propose many significant adjustments to our diplomatic strategy and our relationship with the nascent Iraqi government. Failing that, the panel will recommend a strategic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. I believe that there is still time to secure Iraq and stave off what some believe is an inevitable civil war. Bolstering Iraq's security forces and our own reconstruction efforts may not be enough, but these practical fixes represent our best hope for pulling Iraq back from the precipice. We must act quickly, though, before more cities explode like Balad and Duluiyah.

This meshes perfectly well with the Boyd work on counterinsurgency that I read and wrote about some time ago (from Boyd's "Patterns of Warfare" (pdf) presentation, available at the DNI site):
[Slide 108] Action:

Undermine guerilla cause and destroy their cohesion by demonstrating integrity and competence of government to represent and serve needs of the people - rather than exploit and impoverish them for the benefit of a greedy elite.*

Take political initiative to root out and visibly punish corruption. Select new leaders with recognized competence as well as popular appeal. Ensure that they deliver justice, eliminate grievances and connect government with grass roots.*

Infiltrate guerilla movement as well as employ population for intelligence about guerilla plans, operations, and organization.

Seal-off guerilla regions from outside world by diplomatic, psychological, and various other activities that strip-away potential allies as well as by disrupting or straddling communications that connect these regions with the outside world.

Deploy administrative talent, police, and counter-guerilla teams into affected localities and regions to inhibit guerilla communication, coordination, and movement; minimize guerilla contact with local inhabitants; isolate their ruling cadres; and destroy their infrastructure.

Exploit presence of above teams to build-up local government as well as recruit militia for local and regional security in order to protect people from the persuasion and coercion efforts of guerilla cadres and their fighting units.

Use special teams in a complementary effort to penetrate guerilla controlled regions. Employ (guerillas' own) tactics of reconnaissance, infiltration, surprise hit-and-run, and sudden ambush to: keep roving bands off-balance, make base areas untenable, and disrupt communication with the outside world.

Expand these complementary security/penetration efforts into affected region after affected region in order to undermine, collapse, and replace guerilla influence with government influence and control.

Visible link these efforts with local political/economic/social reform in order to connect central government with hopes and needs of people, thereby gain their support and confirm government legitimacy.

Idea:

Break guerillas' moral-mental-physical hold over the population, destroy their cohesion, and bring about their collapse via political initiative that demonstrates moral legitimacy and vitality of government and by relentless military operations that emphasize stealth/fast-temp/fluidity-of-action and cohesion of overall effort.

*If you cannot realize such a political program, you might consider changing sides.

(emphasis and footnote his)

This ties closely into the CORDS model (pdf), and the kind of warfighting that Phil Carter proposes above.

It also hits on the need for us to live and project some level of moral superiority - one of the key justifications for my opposition to torture as a practice. Boyd said it again:

[Slide 118]Observations Related To Moral Conflict

No fixed recipes for organization, communications, tactics, leadership, etc.

Wide freedom for subordinates to exercise imagination and initiative - yet harmonize within intent of superior commanders.

Heavy reliance upon moral (human values) instead of material superiority as basis for cohesion and ultimate success.

Commanders must create a bond and breadth of experience based upon trust - not mistrust - for cohesion.

I'll come back to this when I talk about domestic issues.

So the short version is that we need to get the troops out of the huge bases and into the villages where they can interact with the Iraqis; we need to combine military, political, and humanitarian efforts in ways that have been done - successfully - but somehow have not become widespread policy. In part, I'm guessing that a big piece of this is the military and political leadership's desire to have an "uncontroversial" war - a decision driven largely by the desire to make no political waves at home.

Politically - within Iraq - we have also made some serious mistakes. Potentially much bigger than our military ones. The biggest error was our over-focus on elections as a metric of success - and I was a more-than willing participant in the hype.

The reality was that while the elections were good metrics for the sentiment of the Iraqi people - their desires - that they were in fact a Potmekin event, designed mostly to support the belief that we were almost done in Iraq and could start preparing for success.

I'm bitter about this, because my own feelings were so high about the elections, and because I was so swept up in the enthusiasm - as were so many others.

And more, because we created a kind of cargo-cult around the appearance of democratic institutions, rather than their substance, and sold it to the Iraqis when we - and they - should have known better.

Should we have focused on elections? Or should we have focused on nation-building - on building infrastructure, institutions, the sense of a nation under laws?

Elections are sexy and easy. Infrastructure, institutions and laws are boring and hard. Was it misguided idealism that led us to this choice, or the desire for stage settings for domestic politics? I wish I knew.

I do know that domestic political considerations have driven far too much of the war policy. One reason I'm not unhappy about the results this week are that they now dramatically shift the political ground underpinning the war, and remove the apparent desire by the Administration to keep the war off the front pages so that the Republicans won't have to risk much in the elections.

OK, that problem's out of the way.

And now that the Democrats have the keys to one branch of Government, we'll quickly see what I expect to be a sharp argument over what to do with them. My guess, and hope - and the place I'll stand in line to help push forward - is that there will be a faction advocating departure and reparations and one advocating finding a way to win. I'm obviously on the latter side.

That's the lead in to the Domestic part of the piece, which I'll get to tomorrow if I can.

Note that while I'm convinced that winning in Iraq is central to winning the larger conflict, when I say "win" I'm talking about the war, not the battle. Wars are seldom won by losing battles, but it's equally true that losing a battle does not equal losing a war. The possibility still exists to do both.

161 Comments

Very well put A.L. I think you accurately captured the frustration and sense of impending disaster that many of us feel.

Unfortunately we have a new set of problems this far along in Iraq- so the criticisms of the past dont necessary translate into a focus for the future. In other words, not repairing the electrical infastructure with a crash US industrial overhall may have screwed our pooch, but fixing it now wont necessarilly save it at this moment in time. The damage may be done.

So where do we begin, purely looking forwards? If I'm Bush i meet with the Democrats and say- look, lets hear what you guys got. It won't be much so its a good opportunity for Bush to change course without losing too much face. He can just claim its a compromise the country asked for.

1.Negotiations should began with the Iraqi powerbrokers (NOT the Iraqi government per se) to establish a withdrawl timeline- not based on dates based, based on metrics. Needless to say this should have been done years ago. It will also make the Dems happy and they can claim it as their victory.

2.A single individual should be chosen to go to Iraq and act as our Proconsul, with full political and military authority. This is something else even Bremer never had.

3.That individual will quickly decide what the top critical projects the US must accomplish will be to help ensure a stable Iraq. Whether it is locking down Baghdad by flooding it with troops, or taking down Sadr, or fixing the infastructure- someone needs to decide, make it the priority, and announce such.

4.At that point- all US resources need to be focused in a wartime footing to accomplish those goals. If it means calling up our entire Army reserve to lock down Iraq for 6 months, so be it. If it means nationalizing GE to turn out high voltage cable- whatever.

5.We accomplish those metrics by whatever means necessary to such an extent we can claim that we did our best by the Iraqis and now its up to them. We withdraw according to our timeline.

All easier said than done right?

Armed Liberal: "Is it a complete humanitarian and military disaster as claimed by many? No, not yet. But it could be, and it could be soon, which means we'd better deal with this issue, and not keep hoping it just goes away. But it is clear that our overall strategic direction (as I - a reasonably well-informed citizen - know it) is wrong, and needs to change."

No, this is Iraq's problem, and Iraqis should deal with it, not us.

Armed Liberal: "I'll talk more in Part II about why, but simply put and as hard as things may be, I continue to believe that we have no choice but to succeed. A bogus "declare victory and leave" solution, as appealing as it may be to many of us in terms of domestic politics, will only result in a bloodbath within Iraq, will embolden the exact movement we went into Iraq and Afghanistan to push back, will strengthen the hand of the anti-American forces within Iran, and will almost certainly lead to a wider and bloodier set of wars within the Middle East - either with the United States as a participant, or with Israel if they are left on their own.

-

(1) There's nothing bogus about declaring victory. We did win.
(2) There's nothing wrong with leaving. This follows victory.
(3) The implication that my opinions one and two - shared by others such as Diana West and Hugh Fitzgerald at Jihad Watch - are based on domestic American partisanship at the expense of addressing the external enemy is unfounded.
(4) The "bloodbath" bit is only a way of saying that without infidel targets to focus on, our enemies - Sunni and Shi'ite both - will focus on killing each other, not us. This is a Good Thing.
(5) We went into Iraq for dozens of good reasons, not for the single reason of pushing back an "exact" movement that you never specify.
(6) The hand of anti-American forces in the Islamic Republic of Iran is already as strong as it needs to be. The state is founded on anti-American Islamic militancy.
(7) Wider and bloodier wars between our implacable enemies, along the lines of the Iraq-Iran war of blessed memory (1980-1988) are desirable, or even vital to our hopes of prevailing in the greater contest between global jihad forces and everybody else including us. Holding back these wars is beneficial to our deadly enemies and thus harmful to us.
(8) We are already a participant in the jihad wars whether we like it or not, so the threat that we may be a participant in wars of jihadis versus jihadis (fought with their blood at their expense as much as possible) rather than in wars of all jihadis against us is toothless.

We did not break Iraq and we did not buy it. Rather, Islam has bought a fight to the death with us, and we should break it. But since we are too soft to do so, and Muslims seem eager to get on with the job themselves, we should let them.

A posting of this nature should start with the sentence, "You can rely on my opinion on this matter because ______________________".

If you can't fill in the blanks with a good reason, then it's best to go write about something else, like astrophysics. I am getting really really annoyed at everybody having an opinion based on zero actual knowledge or experience. Every writer seems to want to emulate Tom Friedman of the NY Times. That is, offer endless analysis and prognosis, which turns out to be 100% wrong, but just keep serving it up nonetheless.

Anybody who wants to tell you how to defeat an insurgency, or build a nation, should first tell you how many insurgencies they've defeated, and how many nations they've built. And quoting other authors (who also have zero experience in the matter) does not let you off the hook.

So, wilbur, how'd we ever leave medevial times? The reality isthat no one in America has defeated an insurgency since the Phillipines. Does that mean we just all tuck tail and go home when threatened by one?

And thank you, while I'll gladly yield the floor to expertise in the hard sciences, I've met many of the senior people in the academy and in government who make policy (I've been one, but not in insurgency, obviously) - and I'll take a well-informed citizen's opinion alongside theirs with great pleasure.

So sorry I'm not willing to join your guild. Let me know how it works out for you.

A.L.

Wilbur do you understand how stupid that sounds?

What? I've got to be a firefighter to talk about how much to fund the fire department? I've got to be Napoleon to talk about military matters?

I've got news for you. On Tuesday a lot of people who don't know jack squat went to the polls and attempted to change the direction of this country. It's analysis: you don't have to be an astrophysicist. Perhaps A.L. is 100% wrong, sure. But maybe parts are insightful in a way that is helpful to other commentators. Every time a mind takes all the information available to it and attempts to find patterns, that's a great thing. I have my own criticisms of A.L's post, but it certainly isn't that he shouldn't be attempting analysis. To say that is just dumb.

I agree that the election moment was exagerated as an end point, but clearly a moment needed to be arrived at where Iraqis made the government legitimate. And going to the voting place, under threat of violence, is exactly the kind of event you need to make Iraqis stakeholders.

And BTW/ judges and lawyers did go to Iraq and lecture judges, lawyers and civil servents on the rule of law. I'll admit that I'm not seeing good outputs on that. Lecturing gets you only so far. The U.S. military stands a much better chance of teaching the rule of law when they stand side by side and do it. If that's the case, we might be moving toward a Turkish model.

David B - you seem to be accepting as a given the worst case that I can see - a true conflict between Islam and the West. I don't think we're nearly there yet, and I still see lots of room to avoid it without surrendering.

If I believed as you do, I might agree that withdrawal was the best thing to do. Because I don't, I'm convinced that withdrawal makes the worst case more likely.

A.L.

Re: #3 from wilbur smith:

What qualifications do you have to decide how democracies should conduct the constant internal debates that are indispensable for their healthy functioning? Did you build a new state on a better system of your own devising, and how is it going?

In other words, if demands like the extreme ones that you make are applied to you, do you come off better than those you dismiss? Or can I and others dismiss you as cheerfully as you dismiss Armed Liberal?

-

#3 from wilbur smith: "A posting of this nature should start with the sentence, "You can rely on my opinion on this matter because ______________________"."

Instead, I think a post like Armed Liberal's should be consistent with a Western tradition in war that Victor Davis Hansen has discussed. Debate and opinion are not confined to a narrow elite, and the results on the whole are better than if they were, and have been for a very long time.

I think Armed Liberal is acting like a Greek or a Roman debating with the public interest in mind, and as such I see him as doing his bit to win the war, regardless of whether the positions he is arguing for are mine or the opposite of mine as in this case.

I thank all those who are discussing and debating in the proper spirit for the good of our common cause.

"The reality isthat no one in America has defeated an insurgency since the Phillipines."

Actually your forces (along with the SVA) pretty thoroughly defeated the Vietcong insurgency after a hard slog, but then they left pretty soon afterwards and let the NVA undo all that good work. It doesn't mean the VC wasn't mauled and ineffective by the early 70s.

There may be other examples too but I'd have to do research to find them. I do know the Marine Corps was pretty busy throughout the 20th century fighting smaller insurgencies here and there.

Nicholas - I don't disagree - but we only won in the battlespace. In themedia, and in the political space, we got spanked.

A.L.

#7 from Armed Liberal: "David B - you seem to be accepting as a given the worst case that I can see - a true conflict between Islam and the West."

I think the conflict is between Islam and the rest, or Thailand would not be having problems.

But the Americans have been picked out for special hate as the Great Satan, and we are the West, so I do think the war we are in is Islam vs. the West. (Give or take India and Russia.)

#7 from Armed Liberal: "I don't think we're nearly there yet, and I still see lots of room to avoid it without surrendering."

We differ.

#7 from Armed Liberal: "If I believed as you do, I might agree that withdrawal was the best thing to do. Because I don't, I'm convinced that withdrawal makes the worst case more likely.

A.L."

That's as clear and reasonable as anything could be.

Another problem with 'Potemkin elections' that points directly at a strategic flaw: We never made sure the Iraqis were asked if they wanted to be a nation together. Whether it was 'realism' or just not thinking, we assumed that we and they had to solve the problem within the confines of the existing borders and the Westphalian system. That produced a strategic vulnerability that we are paying for every day.

Maybe it's time to ask them?

[ This post caught in the spam queue for an hour: include a maximum of 2 hyperlinks to avoid that fate. -- M.F. ]

I'd just like AL to explain, before anybody takes him too seriously here, why he thinks he as any credibility left on political or foreign policy issues? Consider:

- He broke with the Democrats over Iraq, and especially after the '04 elections, wasted no time on slamming them on why they lost... nominally for their own good, of course, but he made no bones about the fact that he didn't think they could win until they took his advice, and that they wouldn't be worthy of his support until then.

But, hey, the Democrats completely ignored him and recently won a huge electoral victory. So let's take a moment and note how out of whack AL's prediction last year that Dems would pick up at most one or two seats in Congress is with reality.

- He's consistently dismissed the concerns of those who have criticized the US prosecution of the war, and totally ignored anybody making the point that Bush is incapable of making the changes necessary to improve that prosecution, irregardless of how bad or good Kerry might have been.

And now, after nearly 4 years of cheerleading the Iraq war, AL's starting to recognize how bad the situation is (as is Max Boot)... but somehow it's still winnable if we follow his advice. However, given that he's been so very wrong so far, why should we listen to AL rather than, say, Matt Yglesias, who, for all his faults, has been proven right about the war far more often than AL has?

I'm honestly curious here - and I'll admit I gave up on arguing with AL a while back, and I've only returned to enjoy some post-election schadenfreude. But the points I'm making are valid ones, and even racking my brain to give the guy as much credit as possible - he writes well and passionately, and he was right about Lieberman - he's still got a massive credibility deficit, and a real problem with realizing when reality is out of line with what he thinks should be the truth.

It seems to me at this point that intellectual honesty should compel someone in his position to admit his mistakes and take a good long time to reconsider his worldview in light of the past 4 to 6 years of experience... but I'm not holding my breath. Rather, I expect he'll fall back on insisting that whatever's happened in the past, fighting to make a democratic Iraq is the right and good thing to do. And it is, but believing that such a thing is possible at this point can only be achieved through the magical pixie dust thinking that got us here in the first place.

Thoughts, AL?

The opinions expressed by people supporting the war on Iraq are not worth much. Who cares what they think? They first cheered on an illegal invasion of Iraq. Then they cheered on the use of torture. Now they cheer on staying and killing more innocent Iraqis because they cannot accept that they were wrong.

Their opinions are based upon cowardice. They are afraid of an enemy whose ability to harm America exists mostly in their imagination.

The sooner we get out of Iraq the better. Three years later, no one will care.

ken, chris - the door's over there. If you're looking for bodice-ripping contrition, you won't find it here. I'm trying to figure out what to do, and want to talk to other folks who have ideas - who may or may not agree with me - to see what we can come up with.

For the record, and as I've said a bunch, I thought Iraq was a good bet, given certain conditions - one of which was our clear commitment to stick it out and get the job done. It'shighly questionable that we met that condition - but there was no way of knowing that in advance. Additionally, the presumption was that an act of belligerence on our part would shock Iran and Saudi Arabia into modifying their behavior.

It may or may not have been a good bet for a variety of reasons. We won't know until it's over - that's why the call it "history" and not "television".

A.L.

A.L. - Absolutely, I'm just pointing out that in that case it wasn't the counterinsurgency aspect of the war which failed (which, IMO, is the hard bit). It was a lack of commitment, a lack of good information channels keeping the public informed enough to make decisions, and a whole bunch of other factors. I am sure those factors can all be mitigated—however I honestly don't know how.

It's clear in my mind why this fight is worth it for multiple reasons, and I've read very eloquent explanations of why those are. The problem is they don't seem to reach enough of the US population to generate the necessary level of commitment. The people who are actually in harm's way are for the most part committed, and the Iraqis have no choice in the matter at this point. The financial cost is not really all that high, not when you consider (a) the cost of giving up and (b) all the intangibles that come with it, such as an all-veteran military (which is an amazing thing to have) and being able to test all your weapon systems in real combat. So what's the argument for giving up? I think it has to be a very selfish one.

At this point I think your country will stick it out for another year at least, which will probably be long enough to smoothly hand over control to the sufficiently advanced Iraqi military. But I could be proven wrong. I hope I won't be. The damage to the USA's reputation if you're defeated by a bunch of hoodlums with AK-47s inflicting a historically tiny number of casualties could be irreparable.

It's terrible for the families who lost people fighting but it will be even worth if it was for naught.

AL, The war on Iraq was 'over' the day it was started. America will not support a war based upon lies. Without support - no war. Period.

Call it a victory if you want, call it a loss or call it redeployment, it doesn't matter. We, that is we Americans, are done with it.

We are not afraid of the monsters under your bed. Give it a few years AL and even you will grow beyond the fear.

Um, I meant "even worse". Geez now I have a speech impediment when typing?

AL-

I'm trying to figure out what to do, and want to talk to other folks who have ideas - who may or may not agree with me - to see what we can come up with.

And my point is that, absent any understanding of the mistakes you've made thus far, you're highly unlikely to figure out the right thing to do. GWB needs to learn this lesson as well... but it seems you're both equally unlikely to develop intellectual rigour and honestly at this point.

And that's a shame for all of us.

Ken:

I second AL. Have a nice day... ...somewhere else.

If you're really spot on, correct to the last syllable, I can wait three years to hear from you.

Chris,

Good post. Hits all the correct notes about A.L.'s credibility, or lack thereof. Still, hey, didn't expect to come to Winds of Change and see "Iraq is f**ked", even if it is 2 years after the RBC figured it out.

Now, A.L. citing Phil Carter - that is something that I pay attention to, b/c Carter is smart, reality-based, and does his best to know his s**t. (Still, A.L'.s offhand "it's easy..." grinds my teeth - Carter's article is not a "sure thing", so "easy" is totally inappropriate.)

I think that Carter's solutions would work militarily, but again, you would deal with not enough troops for that solution, and not enough to grab currently. But again, he knows more than me.

But also politically - we can't impose a solution anymore. Not to mention, I don't think the Army would do what Phil is asking - too much kickback from the brass, as well as kickback from Sunnis and Shiites.

Also, this would mean continuing to fund the Iraq Reconstruction at current levels.

So I thank Carter for his suggestions - and if it wasn't the current crop in power, maybe it could get done (with Cheney out of the way, I almost get my hopes up...), but I doubt it.

"he was right about Lieberman".

Hell, I was right about Lieberman too.
I was also right about Schwarzenegger.
I was also right about the Iraq War.

Not that the three are related.

Oh my God! Pay me money for my opinion!! I'm losing a fortune, all because you people ignore my genius!!

Hey, Chris, did you make Shinseki repent for his post-9/11 support of the Crusader artillery system before you championed his frank truthiness about troop levels? I mean, afterall, building Crusaders would have meant, ceteris paribus, less armor for Humvees and fewer bullet-proof vests. Not to mention that the shortage of both would have been exacerbated by the increased numbers of ground troops.

What am I saying?! When creating abstractions people only take the facts they like. Forget I said anything.

It's funny that hypocrisy mentions 3 kick backs to Carter's suggestions ignoring the one closer to home. Most of his suggestions would lead to captured personnel. Don't believe me go peruse the FMSO interviews with Afghan fighters from the '80s. It will happen...much more often than twice in 3 years. Cut back on force protection while extending patrols and that's a recipe for snuff films galore. Honestly, if anyone thinks the crew who gave us this past election would not kick back long, hard, and loud you're positively fucking insane.

AL, there's an additional factor that I didn't see mentioned in the body of your post. We will continue to have interests in the region after we leave Iraq and securing those interests will be more difficult and costly if we leave Iraq in the state it's in now.

Tim Oren: We never made sure the Iraqis were asked if they wanted to be a nation together. . . . Maybe it's time to ask them?

I just don't see that working and I'm not sure how it could have worked earlier. Asking Iraqis whether they want to divide begs the question of where the dividing lines would be. It raises questions of who was where first and whether they arrived their legitimately. The lines also appear to go through the location of key natural resources (particularly oil and water) and through urban areas. All I can see is blood.

Iraqis did have an opportunity to reject the national Constitution.

One thing that is not in A.L.'s list that I've seen discussed a lot is whether the U.S. should engage a significant diplomatic initiative with the neighboring countries. I personally don't see how Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia help with the democracy project, but I'm all ears.

#25 from PD Shaw: "One thing that is not in A.L.'s list that I've seen discussed a lot is whether the U.S. should engage a significant diplomatic initiative with the neighboring countries. I personally don't see how Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia help with the democracy project, but I'm all ears."

That is interesting.

The case that there is not a true conflict between Islam and the West, and that we're not even nearly there yet, might look a lot like the case that we have no true conflict with Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, all of which we are formally at peace with. (Assuming "we" are not Israelis of course.)

The friendly diplomatic engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Syrian Arab Republic and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a project in which American blood is being shed and American dollars are being spent abundantly to strengthen the power of Islam and Arabs in Iraq may logically follow.

It's all a bit "through the looking glass" from my point of view, but it does no harm to at least consider the implications.

A.L. has had his come to Jesus moment.

Late, as one of the commentors above noted, and even now dragging about six months or so behind the creeping disaster curve, but enough that I can now withdraw my repeated accusation that WoC had become Winds of Denial.

Admitting it's f**ked is the first step to unf**king it.

We're now engaged in a salvage operation in Iraq. What can we save? A free Kurdistan, hopefully. Maybe we can avoid a full-scale civil war. Maybe we can keep Anbar from becoming a pre-911 Afghanistan. Maybe if civil war becomes more explicit we can keep the KSA, Jordan, Iran and Syria out of it.

The dream of turning Iraq into Vermont is over. But maybe we can still salvage a few things. Maybe even make this fiasco a net plus.

PD #24: I'm unclear whether 'none of the above' or 'ask another question' was an alternative offered during the Iraqi constitutional vote. Regardless, as we should know, unless there's a critical mass of the people willing to go the limit to 'preserve, protect, and defend', it's a piece of scrap paper. I'm not yet - quite - ready to say we should act if that's the case, but it's time to consider the possibility that this is another Yugoslavia - another unsustainable relic of empire, and that by trying to hold it together we are bleeding ourselves, the locals, and giving strategic advantage to our enemies. And think through some implications if that's true.

I make no claims that the outcome would be pretty if we went down the devolution path. But I'm going by AL's "less f**ked" ground rules here. Baghdad and Mosul particularly have overlapping populations with no clean separation lines. Those border zones are bleeding anyway. If our alternative appears to a slow-mo ethnic cleansing led by death squads and rogue police and troops, maybe it's better to make it official? If so, we should be thinking twice about how powerful a coercive force we put into the hands of the nominal Iraqi government, because it will be just another instrument of power to be fought over.

I thought Iraq was a good bet, given certain conditions - one of which was our clear commitment to stick it out and get the job done. It'shighly questionable that we met that condition - but there was no way of knowing that in advance.

Let's call this what it is Marc. Bullshit.

If we were entering into a 10 year 2 trillion dollar enterprise, you could have mentioned it.

But no, the deal was, 3 or 4 months, Oil pays for reconstruction, greeted as liberators, no history of ethnic strife here.

If you wanna move the goal posts, fine. But don't call us idiots with this history rewrite. The Internets are still out there, and for now so are the WOC archives, painful as they are to negogiate.

Hey, Chris, did you make Shinseki repent for his post-9/11 support of the Crusader artillery system before you championed his frank truthiness about troop levels? I mean, afterall, building Crusaders would have meant, ceteris paribus, less armor for Humvees and fewer bullet-proof vests. Not to mention that the shortage of both would have been exacerbated by the increased numbers of ground troops.

Frontinus, tell you what, if you can point me to where on the web Shinseki's still arguing that the nation's security would have been enhanced by manufacturing a grotesquely oversized, overpriced artillery system, I'll be happy to condemn him for that as well. But the thing is, Shinseki was proven right about troop levels. AL hasn't been proven right about hardly anything.

What am I saying?! When creating abstractions people only take the facts they like. Forget I said anything.

First off, I made an argument, not an abstraction. Get it right. And if you want to knock holes in my argument by showing how AL's preductions have been proven right over the past few years, go nuts. But snidely attacking straw men doesn't do anything to improve AL's credibility, and until you start saying something substantive, I'll be more than happy to ignore the rest of your remarks.

And, hypocrisyrules, yes, you're right, Carter's a fairly smart guy, and it's not theoretically possible that if the country suddenly got 100% behind the war, sent about a quarter-million more troops over to Iraq in the kind of deployment Carter describes, we might have a fighting chance. But even aside from Bush's complete incompetence making such a thing highly unlikely, the political will needed to do such a thing is totally nonexistent after an election that's widely seen as a rebuke of the Iraq war. Sad but true.

I disagree with both the fundamental analysis and the prescription.

The analysis seems to me to ignore the fundamental reason for the violence:

The breakup of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire (see Yugoslavia; Turkey-Greece, Armenia-Azerbaijan). Various tribes and sects that hated each other were cobbled together by now long-gone imperial powers (the Turkish Sultans) and now the settling of accounts is happening. US failures to do this or that are irrelevant, as long as people who hate each other are living next to each other there will be violence until one or the other is crushed. [Either Wretchard or Tigerhawk's insight, but I agree with it]

No, we can't all just get along.

The Boyd proscription is even WORSE. IMHO. It would work fine for a single, unified ethnicity such as Malaysia (small Chinese minority regularly pogromed) but is a disaster in multi-ethnic and sectarian Iraq.

The ethnic cleansing of Sunnis is by all accounts a "success." A success in that when the Sunnis are gone, driven out, the violence between Shia majority and Sunni minority will cease. Ugly but the transfer of populations by this process is what largely settled the Balkans Wars, and other conflicts coming out of the end of old Empires.

Westhawk at westhawk.blogspot.com has more on this, seems the only sensible approach. Get as many Sunnis as possible ethnically cleansed out (by organizing convoys etc. so they can get out of Dodge with their lives and some money) and retaining a presence and influence to block Iranian Empire-building of their own.

Also, destabilize Iran by funding insurgencies over their, particularly among the Baluchis. Make them too busy fighting their own insurgency to do anything about us. And make clear that the Baluchi Liberation Front could mysteriously acquire and use (in Tehran and other major Iranian cities) nukes that would make theirs look like firecrackers.

Ken: "Their opinions are based upon cowardice. They are afraid of an enemy whose ability to harm America exists mostly in their imagination.

The sooner we get out of Iraq the better. Three years later, no one will care. "

So I can quote you when one of the soon to be 17 (that's SEVENTEEN) nuclear powers (existing: US, UK, Russia, France, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, and IRAN joined by just announced: Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi, and thought-to-be UAE, Jordan, and Turkey) slips Al Qaeda a Nuke and blows up say, Dallas.

HOW exactly do you Dems propose to stop this? Clapping hard and wishing really good with the magic crystals in Sedona? And if GWB's "illegal War" and belief that Democracy and Freedom are alternatives to Al Qaeda are thrown away in "realism" then isn't the alternative Hosni Mubarak or the Saudis? How much do you support the House of Saud (all you're left with if Freedom and Democracy are replaced with realism).

I'd say your comments reveal a moral vanity. You'd rather preen about how moral and status-laden you are, then make hard choice ALL OF WHICH SUCK about how to prevent nuking of American Cities.

Iraq is hardly "screwed up." The killing is LESS than under Saddam (just the Sunni minority getting it now) and the place was hardly stable in the first place: Iran - Iraq War, Kuwait, a hotbed of Jihadist terrorists etc). Indeed you could argue that we are in better shape with Iraq then ever before because we have lots of troops near Iran and have neutralized Iraq as a regional power. How do you think Saddam's mass graves were filled?

davebo, horseshit, pure and simple. Go read what I wrote and come back to us...

A.L.

Geez Marc,

I believe I made some points here. Horseshit is not much of a repudiation is it?

Sure, you knew all along that we'd be in for years and trillions.

I'll make a deal with you. I owe one hundred bucks to your favorite charity on the Lieberman race even though you've tried to extract yourself from it. I'll cover.

And I'll do it regardless of your ability to produce a post on this decade long trillion dollar enterprise in Iraq you spoke of. In any medium. Or your complaints about the adminstration's refusal to come clean with America about the likely costs of this adventure.

You can't. Can you?

...if you can point me to where on the web Shinseki's still arguing...

He has to still be undermining his boss in 2006 for his mistake in 2001/2 to be a mistake? Gotcha.

Shinseki was proven right about troop levels.

Has he? Regardless, given what you people claim to believe today Shinseki's views just prior to his heroic proclamations are anethema. But like I said, you, just like every partisan of every stripe constructs his reality as if with tinker toys.

First off, I made an argument, not an abstraction. Get it right.

I did get it right. All counterfactual histories are abstractions. By definition. Saying Shinseki was right is counterfactual. But I'm going to bet that is simply one more thing of which you are ignorant.

And if you want to knock holes in my argument by showing how AL's preductions have been proven right over the past few years, go nuts.

Why would I do that? Ask AL. I've spent most of my time/energy here pestering him about a months-old entry he posted. I did it just a while ago in fact. While praising a lefty blogger no less. I've defended him once, I think, on the Drum post. Your problem is that you mistook an attack on you as a defense of AL. Far as I know I'm 1 and 1. Entirely uninvested. You should try it sometime. It makes people nervous.

But snidely attacking straw men doesn't do anything to improve AL's credibility

No. But it makes you look like an ignoramus. What can I say...I content myself with the little things in life.

I'll be more than happy to ignore the rest of your remarks.

Probably a good idea on your part.

that's widely seen as a rebuke of the Iraq war.

Sonofabitch! I read through all that only to find your opinion is based on perception and acclamation? I thought you'd wrest one nugget out of that brain box of your's. I should know better by now.

Davebo, I've cited this a whole lot, and I can't believe you missed it..."January 12, 2003":http://www.armedliberal.com/archives/000553.html
We’re in this for the long haul. We don’t get to ‘declare victory and go home’ when the going gets tough, elections are near, or TV shows pictures of the inevitable suffering that war causes. The Marshall Plan is a bad example, because the Europe that had been devastated by war had the commercial and entrepreneurial culture that simply needed stuff and money to get restarted. And we’re good with stuff and money. This is going to take more, and we’re going to have to be willing to figure it out as we go.

A.L.

Oh - davebo - what does this mean?

"I owe one hundred bucks to your favorite charity on the Lieberman race even though you've tried to extract yourself from it. I'll cover."

Want to help me understand where I tried to extract myself from it?

A.L.

Hopeless is what you people are. Running to build schools and sever lines before enemy is killed.
This is what happends when you let sever-works
interfare with killing enemies.

#37 from Gxx: "Hopeless is what you people are. Running to build schools and sever lines before enemy is killed.
This is what happends when you let sever-works
interfare with killing enemies."

You are not alone in your opinion. (link)

#22 from frontinus: "I mean, afterall, building Crusaders would have meant, ceteris paribus, less armor for Humvees and fewer bullet-proof vests. Not to mention that the shortage of both would have been exacerbated by the increased numbers of ground troops."

Yup.

And a bigger army would have been, on average, a less expert army.

Even before I registered that Iraqis are in fact hostiles not friendlies, when I was still gung ho to win this war, I thought Rumsfeld's priorities were right.

#22 from frontinus: "It's funny that hypocrisy mentions 3 kick backs to Carter's suggestions ignoring the one closer to home. Most of his suggestions would lead to captured personnel. Don't believe me go peruse the FMSO interviews with Afghan fighters from the '80s. It will happen...much more often than twice in 3 years. Cut back on force protection while extending patrols and that's a recipe for snuff films galore."

I couldn't agree more.

Not to pile on, but if you are interested in generating some constructive discussion of the options (all awful, but maybe some less awful than others), you could start by admitting that, until this post, you've been consistently and drastically wrong about the way things have been going, and asking whether the people who (you now implicitly agree) have been right all along might have something to offer.

hypocrisyrules (#29) said "Oh my God! Pay me money for my opinion!! I'm losing a fortune, all because you people ignore my genius!!"

I can't help but agree. Send me next week's winning Lotto numbers, and I'll split it with you.

Like hypocrisyrules, I feel as if I have some special insight here. Probably not. But I think much of our problem in Iraq, from day one, has been around how we define our mission. If our mission, and the mission of our DoD, is to topple governments and destroy infrastructure, we've been blazingly productive. If our mission is to project the overwhelming perception of troops in a city, support a democratic government forming, do humongous-scale training, help change a societies mores, and rebuild infrastructure, we suck.

There you go. But in fairness, I think the military was always wanting to do #1 and NEVER wanting to do #2. Heck a lot of Rs and a lot of Ds never wanted the U.S. to get into nation-building. But as Rummy says (sort of), you fight the war you get, not the one you wanted to get.

Continuing this line of thought, A.L., I believe, owes us a clear and definable "victory" if we are to win anything. What is it? No homicide attacks for a year? Only ten a week? Seriously, if I don't have a clear-cut goal there is no way I can talk about what we need to do to get there. And assuming there is one forthcoming, is it the Iraqis' goals as well, or only the ones we decided they should have? There's a big difference there.

Strategically, we can't have even more oil money flowing into the hands of terrorists, and Iran cannot be allowed to make Iraq a client state. As I've said before, it should be the national policy of the United States to destroy any oil facilities that have funds that directly move into terrorists hands, whether or not that hurts the global economy or not (and whether or not we have UN approval or not) If you take away the money-machine, the other problems become much more tractable, in my opinion. Call it strategic bombing if that helps any. Plus, it totally destroys any kind of BS line-of-reasoning that we're only doing things because of oil.

Could somebody let me know if this thread ever gets around to its original intent?

Theories on how we got where we are in Iraq seem to be of the following types:

(1) Conspiracy theories involving Jews, either the Jew direct (Mel Gibson style) or via chains of implication - the Likud Neoconservative axis, that sort of thing. Believers in these theories are convinced they were right all along.

Haliburton, blood for oil, fnord! I just thought I'd sneak that in there.

(2) Conspiracy theories not involving Jews. These still involve those at the top of the American scene having acted dishonestly, maliciously and in bad faith all along. Armed Liberal seems to have raised something of this sort - it was all the kulturkamf, and excuse to grab for pork, a partisan plot and so on. Armed Liberal is a star example of someone of this sort being willing to modify his thinking in response to new and important facts. So there is a radical difference in approach here compared to the type ones. The difference is all in favor of the type twos.

(3) Error theories not involving any information not known when we went to war. In this case, the war is seen as a game of open information, like chess, but the player can be stupid or biased and miss what was in front of his eyes. Ralph Peters seems mostly to think like this. He has blamed Donald Rumsfeld for everything as though it was possible to see everything in advance. But I can't remember Ralph Peters ever having suggested that even Donald Rumsfeld didn't really want to win the war. It was just that, being a total incompetent, he wasn't going to, despite his best efforts.

(4) Error theories involving information not known at the time we went to war. Jonah Goldberg has adopted this view. He agrees it was a mistake to go to war. If we knew then what we only know now, we would never do it. But we didn't know then. A theory of this kind may not call for any blame to be put on anyone.

(5) Theories that say the war was well advised, even in hindsight, and when we began it victory was possible, though it may not be possible now. Charles Krauthammer seems to have stuck to his guns and still be thinking along these lines. It was a long time ago that he said the time for Iraqis to stand up is now. (And no such standing up has occurred.) When he said it, he surely believed that some standing up was possible, and that victory was still within reach if it happened. A theory like this likely does imply that someone should be blamed for a needless defeat, though it is an open question who the culprits might be and in which country. It is an open question if the culprits were malicious, incompetent of just very unlucky.

(6) Theories that say the war was well advised, or not so badly advised as to be hopeless from the outset, and victory is still possible. Phil Carter and Victor Davis Hansen seem to have different notions of what is going on that both fall into this box. Victor Davis Hansen doesn't want to assign blame for defeat in a war he's not convinced we've lost yet - which is very reasonable.

(7) Theories that we are winning, or that in some sense we have won, and this is being concealed from the public. I'm sure there are people still saying that, but no examples leap to mind. In this case we may be back to some form of conspiracy theory. Not necessarily though. John Derbyshire thinks we won when we removed Saddam Hussein, and everything since then has been wasted motion, but it's not a conspiracy, just irrationality. He thinks irrationality is pervasive, so there's no need to fix on one bad guy.

(8) Theories that define the global situation, desired outcomes, and thus "victory" so differently that they're not on the same map with the rest of the discussion at all. Hugh Fitzgerald has such a theory. This does not involve a conspiracy or people maliciously wanting to lose a war for their country, but I'm sure others with fundamentally different ideas on what "victory" would be do have grand conspiracy theories.

I think the least useful people to have a discussion with are those who think they have been right about everything in this war all along. They are, too often, wedded to a conspiracy mentality, and willing to subdue facts under their theories.

Those who avidly seek facts, and who boldly say what they think and who change their thoughts when new facts emerge, are the most interesting people to talk to.

Armed Liberal is one of them. I don't think he has to make a comprehensive apology for being this kind of guy.

If he does feel he should apologize to people who think they were never wrong about anything, he should start by apologizing to Pat Buchanan and his supporters, and asking for their wise guidance on all matters, since they never seem to be wrong. I won't hold my breath while I wait for that to happen. :P

Armed Liberal: "Let me talk first and foremost about what to do. Then a little bit about what I see is happening. And then in retrospect about how I think we got here."

#42 from Mark Buehner: "Could somebody let me know if this thread ever gets around to its original intent?"

I've addressed all Armed Liberal's points seriatim, covering in some detail what I think should be done and how fast, the context in which my suggestions make sense, and how I see the different views on how we got here. I had a perfectly nice meeting of minds with Armed Liberal, and we are not on the same page at all. And that's about all there is to say on that at the present time.

You also replied thoughtfully and on topic, in the first post. Nothing resulted from this.

I think if the idea was to get a couple of on topic replies to the first post, we should declare victory and quit the field. :)

Armed Liberal wrote:

"A bogus "declare victory and leave" solution, as appealing as it may be to many of us in terms of domestic politics, will only result in a bloodbath within Iraq, will embolden the exact movement we went into Iraq and Afghanistan to push back, will strengthen the hand of the anti-American forces within Iran, and will almost certainly lead to a wider and bloodier set of wars within the Middle East - either with the United States as a participant, or with Israel if they are left on their own."

My guess - it will get worse before it gets better:

Nancy Pelosi - Interview 11-10-2006 (Real Player)

Nancy Pelosi - Interview Transcript 11-10-2006

MARGARET WARNER: Now, the president said today also he wanted to work in a bipartisan way on Iraq. But then he repeatedly defined the goal as "victory." And he said at one point, you know, speaking of the troops, "I want them home, too, but I want them home in victory, not leaving behind an Iraq that's a safe haven for al-Qaida." And he said repeatedly that victory was leaving an Iraq that was self-sustaining and could defend itself.

Now, can Democrats work with him and embrace that as the goal?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: I mean, the point is, is that our presence in Iraq, as viewed by the Iraqis and by others in the region, as an occupation is not making America safer. We are not even honoring our commitment to our troops who are there, and we are not bringing stability to the region.

So what is being accomplished by our being there? A responsible redeployment outside of Iraq, at the same time disarming the militia, amending the constitution, so that more people feel a part of the new government, and, again, building diplomatic relationships in the area to bring stability and reconstruction to Iraq is really a path we have to go down.

The president -- victory is elusive. Victory is subjective. What does he mean by "victory"?

That is an excerpt from last nights Jim Lehrer News Hour. Read the entire transcript or listen to the real player interview very closely. What I hear is no plan and sounds of helplessness that suggest only the executive branch can solve the issue. Expect more of the blame game and no action.

#43 David:

That's a terrific summary of thinking on this war. But I think you are being overly generous to A.L. Had A.L. had his breakthrough at some point before the election I would have endorsed your generosity.

But I find it awfully convenient that A.L. only gets it after an election that repudiated his point of view, and after Rumsfeld was thrown under a bus, and after it became clear that the administration was likely to turn strategy over to Mr. Baker and the rest of Dad's "realists."

Suddenly the clouds break and the sun shines on A.L. and he discovers that Iraq is fu**ed.

Has the situation on the ground changed in the last three days? No. The only new fact is that if A.L. stuck to his position he'd have been left even more alone than before.

I've been accusing this site of abandoning its mission of providing foreign policy analysis. I've said that WoC was in a state of denial. (And been denounced rabidly for this lese majeste by people who have been wrong in every detail so far.) I suppose more accurate would be to suggest that WoC was in a stall, waiting on the election, waiting to learn whether Mr. Bush himself would in effect abandon A.L.

Now that Mr. Cheney has been sidelined and Rumsfeld fired and even Mr. Bush can no longer keep a straight face when assuring us that all is well, A.L. suddenly gets it.

I too remember when this thread was engaged in "foreign policy analysis" but someone f**ked it up.

Sadly, I'd half written the post a week before the election (when I posted that I was working on one) but didn't finish it until yesterday, after I delivered the presentation I've been working on for two weeks.

I explicitly stayed out of this election - except for supporting Bowen here in California - if it's interetsing to people, I'll try and explain why later on.

Nice theory though...and interesting in the context of the ad hominem that's dominated the thread. Most people - when someone with opposing views steps back from positions they've held, try and induce them to change their mind.

A.L.

Gxx -

The problem is that it's hard to kill enough people to stop an insurgency unless you're Saddam or Assad. we're not - and that's a good thing.

because if you kill any number of people less than the number necessary to cow the population into submission (and that's typically a big number), you just create more insurgents.

You defeat an insurgency just as Boyd set it out - you pry the neutral civilians away from the insurgents by building sewers, schools, and the rule of law, thus minimizing the insurgent's freedom of operation, then you find the insurgents and kill enough of them that the remaining ones decide to become a political party.

Otherwise you might as well just cluster-bomb the whole country - and that's the outcome I'm trying hard to avoid.

A.L.

Just a quick note [work, work...busy, busy].

takhallus, the last three days? Has anyone besides me noticed that it's been rather quiet in Iraq since the election results?

Has anyone besides me noticed that the reported comments by those interested in killing us are quite chipper these days?

There are times when you (should) rush about [significant quantities of kinetic projectiles in your general direction is a good example...], and are times when you remain still and assess what's going [or NOT going...] on around you.

For some of you latter would be a better option. Investigate, observe, listen. It does wonders for your decision-making process.

Cultivating a sense of calm helps too...strong emotions tend to spoil your aim...and cloud your judgement.

Just a thought.

Nice theory though...and interesting in the context of the ad hominem that's dominated the thread.

AL, ad hominem? Hardly, we're comparing your past arguments and predictions against present reality. That's pretty much the opposite of an ad hominem attack.

Most people - when someone with opposing views steps back from positions they've held, try and induce them to change their mind.

Seems to me that's what people are doing - the left by saying it's politically and practically infeasible for the US to fix Iraq at this point, the right by saying that the fault lies with those darn incorrigible Iraqis. We're not being particularly nice about it, but the intent is the same.

#47 PD Shaw,

"I too remember when this thread was engaged in "foreign policy analysis" but someone f**ked it up."

HA! That gave me a laugh - thanks!

Hey, back in the day before conservatives were captured by ideology, that was the type of joke I always could get from a conservative. But he was willing to say it on himself as well.

The thing is, one of the typical conservative mindsets - gruff, pragmatic, suspicious of bulls**t, wanting to get on with things and get things done - you guys have abandoned it, in the political world at least. Because "good" conservatives are just as suspicicious of their OWN bulls**it as others bulls**t (at least in my opinion).

So I could just as easily say,

"I too remember when [conservatives] was engaged in "foreign policy analysis" but ideology, belief in Bush, "the democrats are always worse", f**ked it up."

this might not be about you PD - but you definitely have contributed your share to Winds Of Denial, instead of Winds of Change, not recognizing bullS**t and calling it what it is, on your side.

And guess what? Calling B.S., and then having the denialists say "it's the sweet smell of roses, the sweet scent of perfume". Well you may think so, but I'm not living in that odor, if ya know what I mean.

But, back to your point - if you DO want to engage in serious foreign policy analysis discussion re: Iraq - a couple of links.

The Biden-Gelb plan.

That plan as policy can actually work in accordance with the Carter plan as tactics, in the regions where U.S. troops stay. Definitely not a perfect fit, as the best Carter plan would infuse 100K more troops, but I think that is a complete no-go now.

This also insures that as the U.S. withdraws forces, we play a buffer of a sort from the "all-out" civil war. (That might be coming down the pike anyway...)

Also, we will see what the Iraq Study Group has to offer. I have a feeling it will echo some of the Biden-Gelb plan.

Never before have I seen so much energy put into arguing about whether or not we are arguing about a topic.

It's kafkaesque I tell you.

And what is this "Iraq Study Group" anyway? Sounds like a bunch of kids staying after school trying to get extra credit.

I think when one side says "there are no goals", the other side knee-jerks and says something like "cut and run!" Perhaps, as CPT. Charles points out, we just sit back and wait. Observe. What are our goals for Japan? Yet we have forces stationed there. I am perfectly happy with just giving it some time. However -- and this is a big however -- it needs to be considered part of our normal Department of Defense operations. Not a special excursion. And the loss of life needs to be understood as the cost of doing any kind of business in that part of the world. Neither of those two things are happening.

How sad is it that all we have is Carter's inanity, Biden's list of platitudes and some faint, desparate hope in the ISG?

Hope it works out for you. You've got atleast one cheerleader.

If people believed half the things they spew in public I might actually listen to them more often. If Rummy's micromanaging was the issue then guess what...problem solved. The military heirarchy is now free to implement the policies previously hindered by the Pentagon. Oh...what? The problem wasn't solely Rummy? Well, then, you've got a pat excuse for the next 2 years. I can hear it now..."Our Congress can't do anything because Bush has Rummy's 7,000 mile screwdriver!!" Throw in the fact that the same people who now champion strong-arming of the Iraqi government were the same ones who used to cry "Puppet!" at every suggestion based on U.S. interest. What does the implementation of the Biden plan involve? Does he want to deploy U.S. troops to guard the Iraqi Oil Ministry? Haha. So pathetic.

Sorry folks, but just got a call and have to travel.

Sadly, what I hoped would be a discussion of whether Phil Carter's plan and John Boyd's theories could still work has turned into rock-throwing.

Sorry, as noted no bodice-ripping contrition is headed your way. If you need that to be interested, as I've said before - the door's over there.

I'm hoping that when I dip back into the thread Monday, we'll have some substance to talk about. I trust that I'll get the Domestic part of this up - which doubtless make me even more popular with hypocracy and ken...

A.L.

Has anyone besides me noticed that it's been rather quiet in Iraq since the election results?

I'm pretty sure the families of the 14 US service members killed in the past 3 days haven't noticed.

But then they probably just don't posses the "courage to believe" that you do.

They're the cool kids, Daniel. And everyone knows the cool kids have all the really cool ideas.

Like diplomatic missions to Assad, Ahmad-i-nejad, and Abdullah. If that doesn't work we encourage federalism. Not partition mind you. Just federalism based on ethnicity. Or wait. The Sunnis and Shi'a fighting are Arab so ethnicity can't be an accurate descriptor. Sect? Nope, sorry. The Kurds and middling Arabs are Sunni yet one of them isn't killing Shi'a. So it can't be based on sectarian lines. Ethno-sectarian lines. There we go. But no ethnic cleansing. Shit. Wait. The ones killing each other are of the same ethnicity. Well, golly, no cleansing of any kind then. It's a stepped procedure. Good government. If that fails--less good government based on identity politics. The Iraqis are going about it by blood. Biden wants to do it by reason. I like Biden's approach. Me likey Biden.

AL, what is there to discuss? Carter's suggestions are counter to the political realities in THIS country. They were fantasies 3 years ago thanks to the domestic hand wringers chortling away about body counts. And Boyd gives nothing more except platitudes. How would Boyd go about reassuring Iraqi citizens as to the benevolence and competence of their government? By clamping down on death squads? Disarming the militias? So before the government can convince the people they are benevolent and competent the government has to be, at the very least, competent and powerful enough to confront the evil doers. And how is that done again? More U.S. troops? More advising by U.S. troops? Riskier deployment of U.S. troops? Sheer fantasy. So that is why no one is discussing Carter or Boyd. It's circular, self-assuring intellectual masturbation. The one solid answer to all the problems is "more trained Iraqis" and that is something that is going to happen regardless of what the pin heads discuss. That's not rock throwing...that's ramming a Unimog into your living room. The rocks are just a byproduct.

Criticism of the Biden Plan:

1. Keep Iraq together by giving its major groups breathing room in their own regions. A central government would be left in charge of common interests like defending the borders and distributing oil revenues.

As I mentioned earlier (#24), the problem with using borders is that it will provoke fights over the borders. Iraq is not like Yugoslavia or the Indian subcontinent where there were pre-existing internal principalities and duchies. We would have to draw the borders. This would draw into preconceived ideologies that the Middle East is screwed up because the West created artificial borders that keep it weak.

The Biden plan seems to place a lot of trust in the idea that oil revenues are a source of insecurity that is driving the violence. I simply disagree. The source of violence is the lack of security. Arguing over borders and distribution of oil revenues actually seems like an additional source of conflict. And the Biden plan seems to assume that we could reason our way through the inherent disputes while drawing down.

2. Secure the support of the Sunnis -- who have no oil -- by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenue.

It was in the Sunnis' rational self-interest to align with the U.S. to protect against Shiite dominance. Didn't happen. Groups are not always rational . . ..

Sunni share of oil becomes a bigger problem when we try to divide the country on sectarian lines. My ideal would be that Sunnis in the Baghdad area look to a mayor that represents both Sunnis and Shiites and not a warlord based out of Fallujah. What is to happen to the Sunnis on the border with Kuwait, do they get their share of oil revenue from Fallujah, or are they supposed to leave their homes for the North? Is the U.S. going to provide security for mass migrations? Biden is proposing 20% of revenues to the Sunnis as a rough equivalent to their population proportion. If the Lancet study is correct, Sunnis are down to about 10%. The incentives aren't good.

3. Increase, not end, reconstruction assistance but insist that the oil-rich Arab Gulf states fund it and tie it to the creation of a massive jobs program and to the protection of minority rights.

Carter also wants to increase reconstruction assistance. The part about Arabs paying for it smells like an election year free lunch.

4. Hold an international conference to enlist the support of Iraq's neighbors and create a Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.

Sounds nice. Does anybody think this would accomplish anything?

5. Begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year and withdraw most of them by the end of 2007, with a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest and to strike any concentration of terrorists.

So, we divide Iraq internally, giving Sunni and Shiite warlords oil money, tell the neighboring countries to take responsibility, and we maintain a force sufficient to attack the terrorists that are created by grievances over unfair boundaries and oil sharing and by weak governments, until such time as the Iraq government tells us to leave.

(Note: I don't have a problem with oil sharing; it is certainly a hedge against the rise of a military police state. I have a problem with sharing the money between the different sects.)

Sorry, as noted no bodice-ripping contrition is headed your way. If you need that to be interested, as I've said before - the door's over there.

This repeated use of the term "bodice-ripping" is just weird - what are we, in a Harlequin romance?

It's also a cheap way to dodge the real criticism being leveled at you, AL - this isn't about seeking official absolution from the Orthodox Church of Liberalism, although I understand why your conservative pals here would like to see it that way. Rather, it's simply the case that rational people make decisions based in part on the past performance of ideas and people. Your track record in this respect is very poor, and you don't show any sign of recognizing that or, more importantly, figuring out ways to avoid those kind of errors in the future. And mischaracterizing fair criticism that's being leveled at you as ad hominem attacks or demands for "contrition" just undermines how seriously people should take you even further.

Look, at the end of the day, this isn't about feeling good because you stood up for the right things, it's about making a positive change for the better. You can continue to insist that people suggesting you revisit your past thinking are being unfair to you, and keep trying - and failing - to put together substantiative discussions on the topics you'd like. Or you can reexamine what's led you here, rethink some of your core assumptions and thought patterns, and start coming up with some new ideas that are more closely in tune with reality. Even if the liberals still don't listen to you, your ideas themselves will be better, and that'll be better for everybody, in the long run.

#55 from Armed Liberal: "Sadly, what I hoped would be a discussion of whether Phil Carter's plan and John Boyd's theories could still work has turned into rock-throwing."

#58 from frontinus: "The one solid answer to all the problems is "more trained Iraqis" and that is something that is going to happen regardless of what the pin heads discuss."

frontinus and myself both addressed the question, and our answer is no. We even agree on a lot of why our answer is no. So it's not that your issue hasn't been addressed.

Do you want longer, more numerous and detailed posts on the theme "Carter and Boyd don't have the answers"?

Or to have the discussion you want do you need at least some people saying, "yes, Carter and Boyd do have the answers, and I have other idea that go with that"?

If that's what you want, I can play devil's advocate.

Davebo, in part I was referring to media silence that had descended upon all matter Iraq.

As to your snarkiness, stow it. Belief in something larger than myself led me to join. I knew what it might cost me; I accepted that.

Not all military families are 'Cindys'; you'd do well to remember that.

Believe? The Republic, the Constitution, the fundamental goodness of America and it's place in the world. Believe? Damn straight I believe.

One last thing, I suggest you go out tomorrow and honor those who've given you the luxury to be as foolish as you wish.

Oil revenue sharing already exists. It was written into the constitution and delegated to a commission appointed by the elected government. It is democratic. If the anti-democrats would rather it be "fair" than "democratic" then that's simple enough. Just keep paying off the Sunni representatives until they are happy. Chances are, however, the people suddenly getting less than their "fair" share will get all uppity and shiznit. Out of the frying pan so to speak.

But let's atleast be honest about what's on the table. Arab Sunnis despise federalism because of the oil issue. Same reason Kurdish Sunnis and Arab Shi'a love it! So you better make damned sure you enlighten them completely about the more-federalism-for-governance...less-federalism-for-funds issue. And when I say "them" I mean all of them. Not just the leaders. Because tinkering with money may placate the average Joe and Jane for a bit but every time you delegate authorities to the regional(federal) governments the Arab Sunni demagogue will start banging his drum to gin up unrest. Same as they do now. Then what are you going to do? Make believe and prostrate yourself on the floor of Congress? Try to fool them again into to thinking you care about democracy?

And that is what is all comes down to. We're either there for democracy or not. Deal with that question before we talk about anything else. If stability is the goal and democracy of lesser import then the course is much, much easier and can be outlined over lunch. Although you might find it hard to get the evil oil companies to pony up the estimated $33,000,000,000 to modernize and exploit those oh-so important fields. Although Kurdistan would probably still have a long enough history of stability to draw atleast enough dollars in to do their end. Of course, the growing desparity in revenues would probably just dredge up the same old issues all over again. Oh, what am I saying? Fina, BP, Exxon, etc. don't worry about such petty things as the nationalization of industry..........Ajax? What?

Maybe we better stick to sloganeering. Onwards to Damascus. We've got diplomats to fete.

i Davebo, in part I was referring to media silence that had descended upon all matter Iraq.

Well, then you should have said that rather than offer the inane claim that "things have quieted down in Iraq.

i As to your snarkiness, stow it. Belief in something larger than myself led me to join. I knew what it might cost me; I accepted that.

The same with me. And with my Dad as well. The Marine Corps decided it cost him roughly 75% of his abilities. I got lucky.

i One last thing, I suggest you go out tomorrow and honor those who've given you the luxury to be as foolish as you wish.

I do every year, it's a veteran thing.

Look, don't get pissy with me (and try to claim you didn't say what you obviously said) just because you look silly.

But do enjoy Veterans Day.

Sorry for the screwed up tags.

I'll take somebody who had the courage to make a stand and champion some ideas that proved not to pan out over a pure contrarian any day of the week. At least the first guy might have learned something from the experience.

(#66) -- My thoughts exactly, Mark.

Man, I can't keep tracks of who's on first, what's on second, and I don't know's on third, anymore.

First off, we've got A.L., maybe, finally, coming to grips with "crazy little thing called reality".

Ken, Chris, myself, are finally glad there is some measure of reality here at Winds of Denial (WoD), and from a different plance entirely, Talkalhus is maybe willing to call WoD WoC again.

At the same time, I'm willing to consider Carter's ideas, but don't have a lot of hope, and detail why.

From another address, Daniel and Frontinus SEEM to think there is no hope, pouring on the sarcasm and snark, - but sure think that Chris and I are worthless, at the same time A.L.'s post is worthless. Kisses back guys!!

A.L. gets all immature, when asked to take some responsibility for earler work - like all spoiled kids, he doesn't like admitting when he is wrong. (I wonder what A.L. would do if his son, when called to account for not taking responsibility of some sort - let's say confronted for bad grades - said,

"If you're looking for bodice-ripping contrition, you won't find it here. I'm trying to figure out what to do, and want to talk to other folks who have ideas - who may or may not agree with me - to see what we can come up with, to have some grade impact analysis."

Don't think A.L. would be please, but - who knows? Different strokes for different folks and all.)

Meanwhile, all the while, Daniel and Frontinus rip harder on the plan, but A.L. decides to swipe at me - even though I'm the one somewhat considering what he is saying!

One last thing A.L.

Learn how to spell - it's not that hard.

It's hypocrisy

Not hypocracy

You've been mispelling that for at least 3 months now - it's not as if right on the screen, ya know?

hypocrisyrules (#68)

I've re-read my remarks, and if I sounded like the situation was hopeless I was misunderstood. This discussion might very well be hopeless. And I certainly wasn't trying to be snarky at all. Whether you and Chris are worthless or not might be outside the scope of this discussion. BTW, I'm still waiting on those Lotto numbers.

This discussion is about tactics and strategies in Iraq. If somebody can give me a clear and measurable definition of what we are trying to achieve, I'd be glad to talk about which tactics or strategies might help in that goal. Without knowing exactly what the goal is, talking about the details seems kind of bass-ackwards to me.

Our military has done everything that we have clearly requested them to do. The fault is our own.

#60 from Chris: "It's also a cheap way to dodge the real criticism being leveled at you, AL - this isn't about seeking official absolution from the Orthodox Church of Liberalism, although I understand why your conservative pals here would like to see it that way. Rather, it's simply the case that rational people make decisions based in part on the past performance of ideas and people. Your track record in this respect is very poor, and you don't show any sign of recognizing that or, more importantly, figuring out ways to avoid those kind of errors in the future."

Is Armed Liberal's track record of errors and non-acknowledgements very poor, comparatively speaking? I doubt it.

Desire of appearing wise often keeps us from becoming so. Refusing to acknowledge errors, let alone dwell on them, saves face and keeps you in play as a guru, but leads to bad decision making. So does a habit of making Delphic predictions, slippery with jargon and hedged about with flexible provisos. So does a habit of making emotive statements that seem to say more than they ever quite commit themselves to. On the other hand, making highly falsifiable statements in public and exposing yourself to criticism, then dealing with your errors - though not all at once and all the time of course - leads to improved thinking, if it doesn't lead to public shaming and depression first.

I do not think that Armed Liberal is a worse prophet than others, he just writes more clearly and boldly and acknowledges his errors more.

(Not "more" compared to the mighty Jay Cost, who does it all as well as it can be done. Few of us will ever attain his standard, in writing on how he jumped the shark in this election. But "more" compared to many bloggers and many people in general.)

For example the theory that the Democratic Party had to fundamentally alter its ideas or it was doomed! on demographic and other grounds was pushed by a lot of other people, including Donald Sensing. How silly, in retrospect. A party that can nearly win even with a candidate like John F. Kerry is mighty, and can look to victory from just normal political campaigning. Try, try and try again, that's all. I always said this.

And by the way, how is the theory that mainstream media domination by liberals is an advantage to Republicans because it makes Democrats complacent looking at this point?

Now, am I looking to collect statements like gee, David Blue, you were so right and I was so wrong from everyone who was bold and clear enough to think the Democratic Party needed to change to win and who said so clearly enough to be unable to fudge their statements later? Or just a big oh I'm so sorry from Armed Liberal?

The answer is I'm not looking for climb-downs from anyone, and least of all from Armed Liberal.

Because that kind of behavior is rude, stupid and counterproductive.

Smart people like the rev. know they goofed. They will do their own processing, and later I'll hear their new, improved ideas with interest.

I'm not interested to drive up the costs of bold and clear expression and of revising ones opinions to conform to new facts. I'm more interested in attaining similar standards of clarity, boldness and alertness to the full implications of unwelcome facts myself.

Let's call off the festival of shaming those who prefer to learn from unexpected events rather than explain them away, and attend to the topic of the thread.

Daniel,

9, 33, 40, 23, 19, 15, 27. Have a go!

Why? Well, each pair adds up to one of my favorite numbers, the point of one of my favorite book series.

so why not?

By the way, quick question - is anyone finding my posts here somewhat amusing, even if disagreeable on the content (that d**n leftie-commie-hippie-liberal-sf-elite - shut up!), or am I just wanking myself?

Excise the 40 out from the previous number sequence. Out, damn 40, out!

You have a lack of insight, hypocrisy. I'll wait a moment for people to get back in their chairs.

.
.
.

I have no problem letting things run their course given a couple provisos.

1) forget the petty crap Biden, Carter, Dean, Baker, etc. put forward and just keep training Iraqis for the various security forces. If you are a democrat(the small d was intentional), like some of us, you're going to need them to bolster the government since it assuredly must make some unpopular decisions. If you are not a democrat, like some of you, you're going to need them to extirpate opposition to your, uhmmm, puppet(I guess).

2) stop preaching democracy while at the same arguing whether or not to dictate orders to the Iraqi government. You can't have it both ways. If you want it both ways go hang yourself now. Life sucks. You'll thank me later.

The reason I snark is because I'm allergic to idiots. Ken is an idiot. As is Chris. You...I don't well enough yet.

When someone says "meet with Syria/Iran/Saudi Arabia" my natural response is "IDIOT!" I can't help it...I'm less ignorant than their target audience. If anyone thinks the minority rule of the Alawite Syria wants democracy next door then they are an idiot. Think Iran and their Revolutionary Guard wants a neighboring Shi'a who can vote for whomever they wish? You're an idiot. Think either the House of Saud or the ulema already once approached for coup support want their eastern-province Shi'a within spitting distance of shiny, happy Shi'a? You're worse than an idiot. For fuck's sake just think back to all the doomsayers when the federal system was first proposed for Iraq. What did they say? "Turkey won't stand for it!" If Turkey hates Kurdistan how do you think the others will feel about Shiastan? Geez. Suggest more casualties, more deaths to a populace that recoils at 2.5-something a day you aren't worth listening to. And if you want to strong arm a government filled with purple-fingered saints who made you tear up and whimper a month ago then you're an idiot and pond scum. If you believe in any of those things and dislike being called an idiot then keep scrolling down when you see: # from frontinus.

I've never hid the fact that I loathe politicians but I absolve them of some responsibility. The Democrats didn't need a plan for Iraq not because they are craven invertebrates but because people would vote for them simply to feel better so no plan was necessary. I've talked to dozens of people and posted on all the blogs I frequent(I'll be surprised if I'm not banned from atleast one by day's end) and I've yet to find a single proponent of change who can rationally discuss what they want done. It's always emotion, vagueness, "what can I do about that?" crap. Someone says one of the above fantastical things and I call them an idiot..oh dear..poor wittle precious caring soul got his feelings hurt. See it doesn't matter if what they say is practicable or not. The status quo is, by acclamation, bad. They are against the status quo, QED, they are good. But what they want won't work? Well, atleast they care. And I can sleep at night because I care too. Frankly, the people get what they deserve. And if the Ameican people are salved by bumpersticker catch phrases politicians give them then they can keep crying into their sleeves while the cameras roll. I'll be the one laughing.

No, I don't find you funny or elite :)

I joke all the time and no one ever seems to laugh with me. I tell myself it's the internet's fault. Kind of like you tell yourself it's the Republican's fault....

And more, because we created a kind of cargo-cult around the appearance of democratic institutions, rather than their substance, and sold it to the Iraqis when we - and they - should have known better.

It seems to me that this is the identical problem as that faced by the decolonizing powers in the 1950s and 1960s, and their successor states: the appearance of institutions which masked the nonexistence of their substance.

This observation doesn't give me much hope for Iraq in the medium-term, as very few of the post-colonial states seem to have figured out how to solve the problem.

What can I say, HR? Humor is tough to do. At times I've found myself and other posters a little too enamored with our own voices and pompous. Any attempt at humor is appreciated.

Thanks for the numbers. It was a great answer. Now if I only knew the question.

Regarding frontius versus the forces of idiocy: my money is on the idiots. In the end, the American public will figure it out. But it'll take a long time probably. We all just want to know where we can buy our next I-pod -- all of that official-sounding FP stuff is for the wonks.

Aprhael made a great point -- how much "preparation" does a culture need to become democratic? Japan was totally changed in WWII, wasn't it? I think there is a certain amount of pain that has to happen for people to wake up. The middle east isn't there yet. Right now they just want their I-pods too (along with shariah law) and "death to America!"

The internet is changing things in a very unusual manner that is unlike the 50s.

My money is on the idiots too. I'm a L who doesn't do drugs...the idiots are all I have.

It's the age of nuance. You can't discuss how to make a society democratic without first defining 'democratic'. Needless to say(saying it anyways), I don't understand the quote in the above post about "appearance of democratic whatever". Does something only have "appearance" unless pristinely democratic? Or does it become "democratic" when the poli-sci department say it does? It's subjective drivel. I'll argue India is not entirely democratic if I feel like it. Ditto the United States. And you can, very effectively I imagine, argue the exact opposite. So does it merely come down to persuasion? If so then it's pretty pointless. If, however, there is no nuance and it simply means people selecting their government then it's pretty impervious to fakery, right? I know it's popular to slap a "Don't blame me I voted for X" sticker on the Yugo but it's still your government whether you voted for it or not. It doesn't only appear so until you happen to pick a winner. Anyways, I have no idea what AL meant by that and since he's traveling I guess I'll have to wait.

While Iran technically isn't part of the Middle East, I don't doubt for a second that even the people who voted for Ahmed-i-nejad cherish that right as much I do. If they didn't then the powers that be would just do away with the charade and get on with business. Now are those voters undemocratic simply because their government restricts the list of candidates? Either humans yearn to be free or they don't. I don't think you can yearn to be free and undemocratic.

Your argument is much like the concepts being postulated by Thomas P.M. Barnett in the concept of "leviathan" and "SysAdmin." I"ve been reading the guys blog for a while now and think his ideas are well reasoned, presented and logical. I have not fully grasped the totality of the picture he paints; I should probably purchase one of his books, to get the full picture but the wallet squeaks right now and I still like to eat. Having perused his posts I think I am grasping it and he thinks along the these lines.

Next time someone comes up with an idea for a war like this, we should start by asking then if they speak the language. The only way anyone can say the situation is not already a military and humanitarian disaster is by raising the threshold for disaster to Nuclear conflict levels or by sticking their head somewhere.

#4 A.L.

The reality is that no one in America has defeated an insurgency since the Phillipines.

That is just flat wrong. We defeated the insurgency in Vietnam.

It was Northern Divisions that won the war for the commies with the help of the Democrats who withdrew support from our allies in the South.

And what did the American voter do, Simon?

Unless my copy of the Constitution is outdated the people bear ultimate responsibility. Surely if the Democrats went against the will of the people(stupid though they are) they paid for it dearly? Denied donations? Marched against? Burned in effigy? Anything?

....

#17 Ken,

Do you think America will better support a genocide based on lies? i.e. How much worse could it be if we leave?

======================================

What do we do now? Keep training the Iraqi Army and Police.

Up the electrical supply in Iraq.

Keep doing this until the Democrats make us quit doing it.

i.e. no change in policy. Civil wars and insurgencies take time to resolve.

With all the Blue Dog Democrats elected I don't see the Democrat party actually winning the argument on the war if the party proposes anything other than cosmetic changes to current policy. Which is why Bush can be so bi-partisan. A lot of elected Democrats are DINOs on the war. Take Joe Lieberman. He is in a liberal state and his main difference with his opponent was about the war. Joe says that we have no choice and losing is not an option.

He won. In a liberal state where the anti-war theme predominated Lamont.

Americans just don't like losers. In particular they don't want to be losers.

One Vietnam in my lifetime is enough.

Thanks for the link, Pisc.

Leviathon and SysAdmin sound like workshop crap. The stuff you have to listen to for hours on end at corporate seminars. But he gets bookmarked for this alone...

I surf Monday night and see that Kos guy paired with Frum [Mr. Axis-originator] on Larry King and I could stand them collectively for only about 30 seconds, they’re such a pair of cartoons--all sputtering with their extremist rage and so collectively useless in actually transmitting anything approaching a strategic thought to the viewers

Nice small group of commenters too. A few practical experience types for whack-a-mole duty.

#77 from frontinus: "While Iran technically isn't part of the Middle East, I don't doubt for a second that even the people who voted for Ahmed-i-nejad cherish that right as much I do."

I do. The American love of democracy is remarkable, not universal.

#77 from frontinus: "If they didn't then the powers that be would just do away with the charade and get on with business."

There's more than two notches on that dial, more options that total love of democracy and willingness to die for it or else total indifference and disregard even for appearances.

#77 from frontinus: "Now are those voters undemocratic simply because their government restricts the list of candidates? Either humans yearn to be free or they don't. I don't think you can yearn to be free and undemocratic."

It's normal to want to be fee in some sense, and lately it's normal (though not universal) to want democracy to some extent, or at least say you do.

It's also normal to want things in tension with democracy.

If the tension is great, and the priority on those items is high, and the priority on democracy is not so high, then democracy is in a lot of trouble even if many people say in opinion surveys that they are in favor of democracy, among other things.

From the earliest days of the occupation, this was a problem in Iraq. The opinion surveys indicating that people wanted (a lot of things that meant death for democracy, like an Islamic state, and) DEMOCRACY!! did not mean what Western optimist wanted them to mean.

And when people soft-soaped that, saying it would be democracy but not exactly like in the most peaceful Western states, the soft soap got very slippery indeed. If what you want is domination for your tribe and faith, and jihad, and no law to have force unless it agrees with sharia, and to enjoy the prestige and wealth that seems to go with being a democracy, it could be said that you are a democrat but not in exactly an American or a British sense, but this is to evade the point.

A constitution that guarantees rights, in the sense that the government is denied the power to interfere with these rights, and a constitution that has the same sorts of ringing phrases but always with the proviso "except according to law" are different things. Different mentalities and values underlie these different sorts of constitutions.

David Blue (#70)

Is Armed Liberal's track record of errors and non-acknowledgements very poor, comparatively speaking? I doubt it.

You might want to reread my comment #13: You yourself admit that the idea that the Democratic party had to follow certain reform ideas is silly, but that's been one of AL's major themes here at WoC - probably the major one.

And as for whether expecting a "climb down" is rude or counter-productive, not at all. Smart people do know they goofed, and manage to communicate that in various subtle ways, ways we have largely failed to see from AL. That being the case, pointing out that someone still seems to be plugging along in the same old rut seems quite valid. For comparison's sake, look at conservatives turned Democrat boosters like Greg Djerejian, Andrew Sullivan and John Cole - they didn't publically beat themselves up for supporting Bush, but they do frankly admit the error and expect others to. The same principle applies here.

And, for AL's future edification, we have this snippet of frontinus' post (#73)

The reason I snark is because I'm allergic to idiots. Ken is an idiot. As is Chris. You...I don't well enough yet.

See, that's an ad hominem attack. When someone starts doing that, you have every right to dismiss them, just as I blow off frontinus' ramblings. But please do note the substantive differences between that kind of thing and what hypocrisyrules and myself have been saying.

I do. The American love of democracy is remarkable, not universal.

Voter turnout notwithstanding. I know what you mean and I agree with you that we cherish our system of government of which voting is a part. Iranian's probably value their system, in toto, less. Less freedom = less value. Makes perfect sense. The act of voting though I wouldn't take too much offense if someone wanted to say they cherish it more. People are dying in prisons there for more of that right and, on occassion, openly confronting apparatchiks in a land saturated with secret police. But, anyways, it's not worth arguing about.

There's more than two notches on that dial...

Are there? Is it like like taxes or pregnancy? Can you be a little bit in favor of suffrage? Anyways, the IRG/Basij wouldn't hesitate to crush opposition. But even the clerics know there's a limit.

It's normal to want to be fee in some sense, and lately it's normal (though not universal) to want democracy to some extent, or at least say you do.

I can't imagine a person yearning to be servile. A sick person maybe....

From the earliest days of the occupation, this was a problem in Iraq. The opinion surveys indicating that people wanted (a lot of things that meant death for democracy, like an Islamic state, and) DEMOCRACY!! did not mean what Western optimist wanted them to mean.

I have no problem with an Islamic state as long as it is democratic--protects the rights of minorities, universal suffrage..the usual stuff. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. Well, I lie. There is a problem I have with Islamic democracies that I've brought up elsewhere. It lends credence/respectability to the agitators for harsh sharia. The Islamists are turned into political activists in effect. It's happening practically everywhere now(Malay, Indonesia..even Turkey) and I've yet to see one moderate Muslim explain why I shouldn't care about that. But that's a whole 'nother story.

If what you want is domination for your tribe and faith, and jihad, and no law to have force unless it agrees with sharia

Well, sure. Retrograde Islamists can't be democrats. Like I said...sick people can want to be servile.

but always with the proviso "except according to law" are different things.

The Iraqi constitution certainly has those...in abundance.

Different mentalities and values underlie these different sorts of constitutions.

But it works for vastly different societies. And I think the basic underlying explanation for that is human nature. A Sikh can be a good democrat or a Protestant or Muslim even though their idea of democracy fits within their framework of religion. We used to have blue laws not so very long ago.

See, that's an ad hominem attack.

So, you're still reading?

By the way, it's not ad hominem. The jibe was out of the blue and not in response to anything you said...since you said nothing. After you figure out the intricacies of "counterfactual history" you can work on your fallacies.

By the way, you got the idiot tag for the following:

Frontinus, tell you what, if you can point me to where on the web Shinseki's still arguing....

In response to:

Hey, Chris, did you make Shinseki repent for his post-9/11 support of the Crusader artillery system before you championed his frank truthiness about troop levels? I mean, afterall, building Crusaders would have meant, ceteris paribus, less armor for Humvees and fewer bullet-proof vests. Not to mention that the shortage of both would have been exacerbated by the increased numbers of ground troops.

I'm guessing you didn't even know what the hell the Crusader was.

#81 frontius,

You have uncovered my shame. I supported the Democrats at the time. (No secret actually, I've mentioned it several times here and elsewhere).

Well you know how it is. Some people out grow their stupidity, others prefer to relive it.

#85 from Chris: "You might want to reread my comment #13: You yourself admit that the idea that the Democratic party had to follow certain reform ideas is silly, but that's been one of AL's major themes here at WoC - probably the major one."

I did reread your post.

#85 from Chris: "And as for whether expecting a "climb down" is rude or counter-productive, not at all."

Much depends on timing and manner. Also relevance.

I said I'm looking forward with interest to what Armed Liberal, Donald Sensing and others will say later. Rethinking takes time. I assume there will be threads to discuss their new ideas and how they were arrived at.

Hijacking a thread on an important topic to use it as a session of "pin the error on the Democratic donkey" and thereby have some nasty fun whoile attacking the original poster's credibility is something else.

#85 from Chris: "And, for AL's future edification, we have this snippet of frontinus' post (#73)

The reason I snark is because I'm allergic to idiots. Ken is an idiot. As is Chris. You...I don't well enough yet.

#85 from Chris: "See, that's an ad hominem attack. When someone starts doing that, you have every right to dismiss them, just as I blow off frontinus' ramblings."

I agree. I know I'd dismiss anyone who spoke to or past me like that, without apology.

There is also the issue of being on or off topic.

I have a quirk - a pardonable one hope. I like on-topic discussion.

#13 from Chris: "I'm honestly curious here - and I'll admit I gave up on arguing with AL a while back, and I've only returned to enjoy some post-election schadenfreude."

That's not it.

I'll provide an example.

What do you think of people leaving as a piece of evidence for what is going on in Iraq? How important is it? What does it signify to you? What questions does it raise?

I see no reason to doubt the evidence itself. I assume this is happening.

For me, this is important evidence, but I've already shifted my views on the war, so it's not that big a deal. I think our democratic transformation effort is hosed, so I'm more interested in information that would make me question that, rather than in additional confirmations.

I see this as part of a pattern of soft (or not so soft) ethnic cleansing going on rapidly throughout the Muslim wold. That is usually directed at infidels, but not always. Losers are being purged. (And Islam consistently makes infidels losers.) Surging Muslim demographics easily replace the liquidated or expelled populations. I bundle this news with the baby boom in Iraq. It is another part of one colossal global event.

Who are these people leaving? How many are Sunnis? Will their influence throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world be like that of Palestinians, especially those expelled from Kuwait? If the opportunity for a really colossal and long-sustained fratricidal Shi'ite Sunni sectarian war in Iraq passing, never to return? Who is moving in to the areas these people are leaving, and on what legal and social terms? Who becomes boss where these population shifts are happening?

I think that's all on topic, though later Armed Liberal said he wants to focus on Boyd and Phil Carter, so that would be even more on topic except I feel I've already beaten it to death.

Instead of thread-hijacking schadenfreude, consider at least attempting to post on topic.

So, you're still reading?

Skimming, yes. Taking seriously, no. That qualifies as "ignoring" for me.

By the way, it's not ad hominem. The jibe was out of the blue and not in response to anything you said...since you said nothing. After you figure out the intricacies of "counterfactual history" you can work on your fallacies.

You might want to work on your own reading comprehension first - the ad hominem bit was the idiot remark, as was abundantly clear from my last comment. Your original attack was textbook straw man, which was asinine in its own unique way.

By the way, you got the idiot tag for the following:

Frontinus, tell you what, if you can point me to where on the web Shinseki's still arguing....

See, Front, here's the thing - the gist of my original comment was that AL was continuing to make the same bad arguments without reexamining how reality had proved them wrong. Eric Shinseki, to the best of my knowledge, is not continuing to argue that the Crusader artillery system is a vital component of American security. Therefore, insofar as Shinseki's mistake was analogous to AL's (which you've pretty much admitted it wasn't, but I was giving you the benefit of the doubt at the time... not a mistake I'll make again) the fact that Shinseki was not still arguing his earlier mistake was quite germane to the point I was making.

And hey, while we're doing the whole rhetorical pissing contest, allow me to go back and eviscerate some of your original paragraph:

I mean, afterall, building Crusaders would have meant, ceteris paribus, less armor for Humvees and fewer bullet-proof vests. Not to mention that the shortage of both would have been exacerbated by the increased numbers of ground troops.

Well, no, it wouldn't have meant less money for Humvees, etc., because Bush and the Republican congress showed absolutely no inclination, post-9/11, to put any kind of limits at all on borrowing money for defense purposes. Likewise, you're basically assuming that the budget would have remained a zero-sum game had extra troops been added to the military, and/or that production of military gear couldn't possibly have been expanded. Presumably, in such a scenario, you foresaw the army sending its troops to Iraq naked, unarmed, and without food and water because they would have kept their supply logistics for the same fixed number of troops as before the war.

Brilliant thinking, really. (And to forestall your inevitable response, yes I know what ceteris paribus means. No, it still doesn't follow that absolutely no adjustments for the additional cost of the Crusader, or the additional logistical demands of more troops wouldn't have been accommodated.)

I'm guessing you didn't even know what the hell the Crusader was.

Actually, I did... but that doesn't really matter to you, does it? We both know there's no realistic way for me to prove that over the Internet, and any reasonable person wouldn't have made that assumption one way or another. You're bringing it up here because, for all your pretensions of keepin' it real, non-partisan style, you're basically just a spiteful little troll who's trying to provoke an argument. Fortunately, I kick trolls around for fun, so if you really want to get in to the days-long post/counter-post argument this seems headed towards, bring it on. I'm actually quite curious as to how many out of context sentence fragments you're gonna cut this current post into, all in a pathetic effort to score rhetorical points. My current guess is 10 - 20, but I guess we'll see what happens.

Armed Liberal: "Elections are sexy and easy. Infrastructure, institutions and laws are boring and hard. Was it misguided idealism that led us to this choice, or the desire for stage settings for domestic politics? I wish I knew."

Score yet one more for the paranoid partisan style in American politics.

-

Armed Liberal: "Politically - within Iraq - we have also made some serious mistakes. Potentially much bigger than our military ones. The biggest error was our over-focus on elections as a metric of success - and I was a more-than willing participant in the hype.

The reality was that while the elections were good metrics for the sentiment of the Iraqi people - their desires - that they were in fact a Potmekin event, designed mostly to support the belief that we were almost done in Iraq and could start preparing for success.

I'm bitter about this, because my own feelings were so high about the elections, and because I was so swept up in the enthusiasm - as were so many others.

And more, because we created a kind of cargo-cult around the appearance of democratic institutions, rather than their substance, and sold it to the Iraqis when we - and they - should have known better."

-

So when you believe something that comes straight out a grand tradition of American democratic idealism, it's an honest mistake at worst - but the people right beside you saying the exact same things and acting the same way ... they may have been doing it for phony, partisan domestic political reasons. And you wish you know more about this.

This has nothing to do with winning the war, even in your terms. What people did is an open book, and the situation that we are in and must fight our way out of has nothing to do with the possible illegitimate motives that so interest you.

It has to do with a hunger to reshape and reinterpret the past to make domestic political opponents villainous, and to nurse negative attitudes to them - your countrymen - in your own heart.

Would that I was knocking you personally. I'm not. It's pervasive, wholly bipartisan (oh bitter irony...) and tragic.

The pervasiveness of this grinding paranoid partisan bitterness and inner dishonesty may contribute to the short-windedness of the Americans in this kind of war.

The enemy that really interests you lives next door, and says and does the same things as you do. You are interested in imaginary inner evils in this enemy - wrong motives that even if they existed (and there is not a shred of evidence for it) had no real world consequences that simple and sincere belief in the same things you believed would not have had.

On the other hand, from my point of view you resist the identification of very obvious external enemies as real enemies.

Externally, you see someone with a purple finger and you see a saint, even if that person may insist on killing an apostate from Islam "in the worst possible way". Internally, you see people with lives dedicated to real democracy, and eagerly conjure up phantoms of paranoia.

Maybe you should stop being concerned that America will be perceived to have limited staying power, and simply accept that because of pervasive American attitudes - so common that you can see them in yourself too, despite your desire to be above paranoid partisanship - it's true. Americans are too paranoid against each other, too harsh in interpreting each others' motives, and far too indulgent and trusting toward their real external enemies. Therefore the ability of Americans to work together to defeat external enemies is diminished. It is a short-term, sometimes thing.

The enemy knows this - they announce it! - and they can work the system.

You need to fight aggressive wars of choice, quickly in, quickly out, and not stopping to fix anything.

You need to work with non-Muslim allies who will do everything except striking the big American technological hammer blow. And you need to let them do what they're going to do without trying to supervise them. Because you will soon turn to tearing yourselves apart politically if you stay to help.

That's how your politics and culture work now. (And as your diversity increases, I think your trust with further decrease. So this is not something you can bluff your way through or ride out. This is a reality you are going to have to live with indefinitely.)

I'm not saying this as an insult, to America or to you personally. I'm like a trainer telling a boxer he loves: You are strong as hell, kid, but you've got no wind. Go out throwing bombs and get this over in the first round, first three tops, and don't kid yourself about holding back anything for later. For you, there is no later.

Phil Carter thinks America can intensify its military efforts and come out of its crouch, swinging, now? Get real. Even if this was a good idea - and I think it's a terrible idea - you can't do this.

Whoever tried it would be torn apart by paranoid partisan politics. Look in the mirror, and you can know that this is true.

Even if people did now exactly, precisely what you say they should, announcing the same reasons that you believe in, you yourself could be one of those contributing to bringing them down later. Was it misguided idealism that led us to this choice, or the desire for stage settings for domestic politics? I wish I knew.

There's just too much Michael Moore in America, and not just out there but in little doses in many, many hearts, in wrong attitudes, in trust corroded and corrupted.

So let's discuss planning for the rest of the fight in Iraq realistically in the context of America's self-hobbling.

We need plans that will work despite that - not fake plans that suppose your political gridlock isn't as bad as all that.

David Blue-

First off, thank you for an exceedingly polite, civilized response.

I said I'm looking forward with interest to what Armed Liberal, Donald Sensing and others will say later. Rethinking takes time. I assume there will be threads to discuss their new ideas and how they were arrived at.

Hijacking a thread on an important topic to use it as a session of "pin the error on the Democratic donkey" and thereby have some nasty fun whoile attacking the original poster's credibility is something else.

I think this is primarily a question of assumptions. You seem convinced that AL will realize where he's been wrong without any prompting, and make the necessary adjustments. I've seen AL's previous attempts to regroup and really do some detailed analysis on the war fizzle before, so I'm a bit more sanguine about the prospects. I also think that doing a mental recalibration is a necessary precondition before proceeding further - he seems stuck at the "if we want it enough, we can make it happen" stage, which just doesn't work. And as long as he's stuck there, the threads he starts will also remain stuck.

That said, you're probably right that I've said about all I can say on this subject - people listen or they don't. For the record, I did point out that my original comment had a bit more than pure schadenfreude behind it, but I've gotten that bit across as best I can, and if you honestly think you can generate any new and interesting ideas, good luck and I'll leave you to it.

#21 from hypocrisyrules,

Make no mistake. What the Democrats plan is a retreat.

What does a good army do when the other army is retreating? Pursue.

You can see the dynamic in the lead up to WW2. Every time the democracies retreated the fascists pursued.

When dealing with bullies weakness invites attacks.

It will be interesting to see how hard the Ds need to be kicked before they know they are in a war (and my hat is off to AL who joins such august company as Hitchens, who despite his ignorance of economics gets the clash of civilizations). My apologies to the kickees. I voted straight R, right down to the dog catcher.

My policy still is Electricity.

Subversion through the advance of technology.

It is 1.5 bn muslims against 4 bn not muslims.

We need to raise the world standard of living at once and at low cost.

I'll write up my idea and get back to you.

I sometimes wonder why it was that I thought some macro approach could possibly work against a microcentric insurgency. The Israelis have done considerable research into understanding terrorist networks, and decided that the nodes follow familial ties pretty closely. But apart from revenge the only thing that unifies these local familial constructions is the macro-identity of Islamism or the similarly constructed fascistic concept of Palestinian nationalism.

Perceiving this weakness Jordan's king recently reconstructed the country's system of political representation such that representatives were directly elected by very local constituencies. Since the Islamofascists have no real grasp of issues at this level of aggregation, power has begun to slip from their grasp. They no longer dominate the political discourse of dissensus. They are therfore no longer the "shadow state".

I've often felt that the nation-wide proportional representation system foisted on the Iraqis by the UN "advisors" was fashioned to deliberately scuttle democracy in the Middle East, because the effect is to factionalize the population along these lines of macro ethnic and religious divisions, reinforcing them with socioeconomic divisiveness. This is a recipe for disaster.

The error must somehow be undone.

The problem is that adopting this more constituency-based package of tactics (not by itself a new strategy) will create more, rather than fewer, US and Iraqi casualties in the short run. Where could we find the leadership to convince the public that this is an appropriate strategy? How in the world will a public already impatient with the casualty and death rate in Iraq manage to tolerate an even higher level?

It can only happen, I think, if the stakes are brought home to Americans... either by some extraordary leadership or by the enemy.

#94,

I'm betting on the enemy. Actions speak louder than words.

BTW here is my grand idea: A Neighborhood Development Package

#93 from M. Simon: "What does a good army do when the other army is retreating? Pursue."

Not always, but usually. In this case we can count on it. The jihadis tell us their intentions, and history proves they are not kidding.

#93 from M. Simon: "When dealing with bullies weakness invites attacks."

Truth.

And bullies look for good victims, and these bullies long ago picked us out at good targets because we are too troubled and conflicted in ourselves to fight back with full and united force. They have counted on this, mostly with success, and justifiably they will continue to do so.

The recent American legislative elections have confirmed them in their beliefs, and they boast of our weakness of will and our defeat. (link)

"The American people have taken a step in the right path to come out of their predicament, they voted for a level of reason," said Ayyub al-Masri, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq. In a recording posted on jihadi Web sites, he called Bush a "lame duck" and accused Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of "rushing to escape."

Pursuit follows.

After delighting in the Democrats victory and Bush's capitulations, Masri added: "We haven't had enough of your blood yet."

"This issue [the elections] is not purely a domestic issue for America, but is a defeat for Bush's hawkish policies," said Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "This defeat is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation."

Pursuit may follow.

This week, Iran is completing military exercises in the Gulf, testing a new long-range missile. It continues to develop atomic weapons, offer safe houses to some 500 al Qaeda terrorists (including three of bin Laden's sons, one of whom has married the daughter of a Revolutionary Guards general) and supports the Iraqi insurgency with money, bombs and men.

I think a general war in the Muslim world over whether Shi'ites or Sunnis dominate the land of the two rivers would be just the think to diminish the resources of all these guys. Since I despair of their goodwill, I think resource reduction makes the most sense as an overall policy.

However, if that policy is thought to be too unfriendly, then yes we need a new fighting doctrine, based on Boyd, or Phil Carter, or ... something. So I think we should consider this further.

-

#93 from M. Simon: "My policy still is Electricity.

Subversion through the advance of technology.

It is 1.5 bn muslims against 4 bn not muslims.

We need to raise the world standard of living at once and at low cost."

If that was the solution, then in the West, in Europe and in Great Britain, where Muslims get all the electricity they want, 24 hours a day, and a subsidized standard of living, Muslims should have become friendlies. The opposite has happened and is happening.

Following [are excepts from] the full text of a speech delivered on November 9, 2006 by Eliza Manningham-Buller, Director-General of MI5, on the terrorist threat facing the UK: (link)

We now know that the first Al-Qaida-related plot against the UK was the one we discovered and disrupted in November 2000 in Birmingham. A British citizen is currently serving a long prison sentence for plotting to detonate a large bomb in the UK. Let there be no doubt about this: the international terrorist threat to this country is not new. It began before Iraq, before Afghanistan, and before 9/11.

In the years after 9/11, with atrocities taking place in Madrid, Casablanca, Bali, Istanbul and elsewhere, terrorists plotted to mount a string of attacks in the UK, but were disrupted. This run of domestic success was interrupted tragically in London in July 2005. Since then, the combined efforts of my Service, the police, SIS and GCHQ have thwarted a further five major conspiracies in the UK, saving many hundreds (possibly even thousands) of lives.

What I can say is that today, my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we don�t know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas. The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were justified. What we see at the extreme end of the spectrum are resilient networks, some directed from Al-Qaida in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it, planning attacks including mass casualty suicide attacks in the UK.

And, chillingly, we see the results here. Young teenagers are being groomed to be suicide bombers. We are aware of numerous plots to kill people and to damage our economy. What do I mean by numerous? Five? Ten? No, nearer��. thirty that we know of. These plots often have links back to Al-Qaida in Pakistan and through those links Al-Qaida gives guidance and training to its largely British foot soldiers here on an extensive and growing scale.

Al-Qaida has developed an ideology which claims that Islam is under attack, and needs to be defended. This is a powerful narrative that weaves together conflicts from across the globe, presenting the West�s response to varied and complex issues, from long-standing disputes such as Israel/Palestine and Kashmir to more recent events as evidence of an across-the-board determination to undermine and humiliate Islam worldwide. Afghanistan, the Balkans, Chechnya, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Kashmir and Lebanon are regularly cited by those who advocate terrorist violence as illustrating what they allege is Western hostility to Islam.

The video wills of British suicide bombers make it clear that they are motivated by:

* perceived worldwide and long-standing injustices against Muslims;
* an extreme and minority interpretation of Islam promoted by some preachers and people of influence;
* their interpretation as anti-Muslim of UK foreign policy, in particular the UK�s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Killing oneself and others in response is an attractive option for some citizens of this country and others around the world.

These people are not our friends. They need to be rolled back as much as possible, and globally, since they are networked globally and the demographics and population flows that underpin their successful jihads are global. That of course will confirm them in their paranoid view of us, but they were confirmed in that view long before.

Even if all we wanted in the world was not to be hated so much, if there are more people like this, we will be more hated regardless of the moral merits of our actions, and less hated if there are less of the people intractably inclined to hate us.

I am inclined to allow them to kill each other and cancel out their military resources, which they are eager to do as soon as our soldiers get out of the crossfire between their sects and tribes.

But if the doctrine is that morally we have to offer up our soldiers to Ares to prevent Muslim civil wars and confer on our enemies benefits they will only hate us for, then we need a new fighting doctrine. Fighting, as in hitting.

Not "fighting" as in electricity 24 hours a day at our expense, as though our enemies in Iraq already lived in London.

OK, my previous comment, with only two links, is pending, as the thread is so old. So I'll wait for Armed Liberal's next thread on doctrine in Iraq.

I think there should be more discussion on Boyd and the war in Iraq.

"Should we have focused on elections? Or should we have focused on nation-building - on building infrastructure, institutions, the sense of a nation under laws?

Elections are sexy and easy. Infrastructure, institutions and laws are boring and hard. Was it misguided idealism that led us to this choice, or the desire for stage settings for domestic politics?"

Bingo. I always thought the elections came too soon. My memory is that Sistani & Co were pushing for them very hard, and floating the meme that if we didn't hold elections it meant we were nasty occupiers who didn't really want Iraq to become a democratic soveriegn nation. So we held elections to keep on Sistani's good side and to counter that perception. (It wasn't just to placate the left, we also had to show the Iraqis).

we were between a rock and a hard place. We should have kept ruling them for another few years, but I don't know if that was politically possible.

Damn the media for misreporting what we're doing.

Damn the Democrats for demagoguing this and saying anything to feed their power jones.

Damn the Republicans in Congress for corruption and pork barrel spending in a time of war-related deficits and for trying to insert themselves into the lobbying business. They were supposed to be leaders, which means that you make tough decisions and make the case to the people and get them to follow you. Lest they blame Bush, I would remind them that he WON his last two elections.

And damn the "conservatives" and "libertarians" who put their personal pique at Republicans ahead of national honor.

Demosophist -- "I sometimes wonder why it was that I thought some macro approach could possibly work against a microcentric insurgency."

To me this sounds like words of wisdom.

AST -- "And damn the "conservatives" and "libertarians" who put their personal pique at Republicans ahead of national honor."

I'm a Libertarian who voted for my Rs not because of national honor, but because I thought they were the best men for the job. After Vietnam, I understand your point, but there is no Watergate on the horizon, and nobody wants Iraq as a haven for terrorists. Our war on terror is a national war, not a Republican one. Let the Dems work it for a while. It's a freaking 50-year fight, we need smart people on all sides working and owning the problem. I don't think the Ds want anyting to do with it, but you don't always get what you want.

Terrorism is a real threat and is here to stay no matter how many Howard Deans are on your television set. That's really what makes it so funny -- so many Dems thought that this election meant something, when really in the big scheme it doesn't mean much at all. I hate the thought that we switch strategies so easily, but we've learned in the long run that it really screws up our enemies.

Dan:

I'm not talking about changing strategies, just changing how we complete the mission. If I were into changing strategies I'd suggest we do what Murtha wants, and stand off. Except we might as well consider what that would mean. The objective would be to facilitate a civil war in Islam, with an eye either to allowing a reformist movement to prevail, or at least allowing the two primary Islamist factions to war against and either weaken or kill one another. At the end we might have to take on the winner, but we won't be constrained to the type of limitted war we have to fight now. That's tricky, and it sure doesn't seem very humanitarian, but if we can't create the vanguard for a liberal/democratic Arab world then it's time to get cynical. Now that would be a change in strategy.

But compared to that the so-called mess we have in Iraq looks like my fastidious sister's highschool bedroom. It's all relative.

Demosophist -- I understand you are not talking about changing strategies. But by understanding that we are talking too much in macro terminology when we should be going neighborhood by neighborhood, I believe you are outlining what is wrong with the discussion. Whatever your goals (won't go there), unless you want to loose holy heck on the Iraqis, you gotta go little piece by little piece, not some big pie in the sky plan. "Democracy for Iraq" is so much BS. Peaceful neighborhoods with approximately the same violence as Palistine and regular elections -- now that is measurable. You do it a little bit at a time. (BTW I would not support that goal, as it seems unreasonable to foist on a nation that is unsure of it's internal boundaries)

gotta laugh reading a lot of these comments from u americans,the majority of you seem to think you can "win"in iraq,others advocate various types of military scenarios/hardware to achieve this victory.The only "winners"are the haliburton et al shareholders creaming off vast petrodollar profits on the back of their phony war.
Truth of the matter is Iraq had nothing to do with your precious 9/11,saddam hated those muslim fanatics and the feeling was mutual.No you entered a no win"war" to steal their oil and(heres the beautiful part)use the oil to pay for the rebuilding of their infrastructure which u of course destroyed.You knock it down,then u build it back up again,perfect!
The only problem is "the natives are revolting"and good luck to them,who can blame them.You cant leave like in vietnam because theres still an ocean of oil underground,and you cant let the iraqis have it,besides haliburton havent reached optimum profitability yet!
So,another fine mess youve gotten into,and george dubya and cheney will have to put any military fantasies they have concerning iran onto the back burner.
Meanwhile,sitting in his safe house in Pakistan,osama bin hidin negotiates with pakistani sympathisers in their military regarding the purchase of an A-bomb(everything has a price in pakistan(and russia)laters

peppermintpaddy,
Odd that you've allowed so many tinfoil hat conspiracy fantasies color your thinking.

Basically I don't think we can let go thinking about the macro-institutions. For instance, the system of voting in Iraq is contributing to the problem because it's not constituency based. Proportional representation is recognized as relatively unstable on its own. (Think Italy prior to their decision to constrain PR, with something like 200 governments in 40 years.) But having a national PR system is the worst of all possible worlds, especially in a society composed of three distinct ethnic groups.

Somehow that system has to be changed. It's poison. There's no way things can work under such a system.

And coupled with that constituency based system of representation you have a locally based system of security that kills or incarcerates the bad guys wherever they're found. That means more US soldiers in harms way, at least in the short run.

I realize we have to detach at some point, but not until we get a handle on this insurgency and nascent civil war.

Since Iraq already has held elections and has its own government, we don't quite have the latitude to go in and change what we want. A lot of coulda woulda shoulda needed to have been done when we ran the country, not the Iraqis, i.e. Oil Trusts, Killing Sadr, disarming militias, etc.

What's left is how to create something less than a Germany but hopefully more than a Sri Lanka out of the ashes.

Reduce our force levels in Iraq, leaving only intel, special ops, and advisors. (Boost up those advisors, good idea.) and maybe 1-2 infantry divisions fire brigade.)

Large numbers of US troops will never be the solution to a serious civil war in Iraq. Imagine the US invading Yugoslavia just before it split up, and trying to put humpty dumpty back together again...Iraq will be having sectarian violence until it burns itself out or we help one side win an ethnic cleansing game (not gonna happen.)

One good thing about Iraq having its own elections means that they too have domestic pressure to perform. Even the average Shia must get sick of death squad body counts every day...who knows.

Also, to the criticism that the US war effort was geared more to the US domestic election cycle - well, you got to war with the electorate, the opposition party, and the media you have. We should be timing our wars...and if this one had been planned better and implemented better, who knows.

Also, does it seem to me that the Sunnis are the one's attacking our soldiers, but they are also the ones getting cleansed by the Shias?

Sunnis attack USA

Sunnis attack Shia
Shia attack Sunnis

How can we get that dynamic to pressure the Sunnis to stop attacking our forces? If we could stop that alone, we'd be better placed to deal with the shia / sunni militias. Any ideas?

the U.S. military has performed superbly in Iraq, under all kinds of debilitating, “politically correct” restraints, such as the need to kill as few of the enemy as possible, and to entirely avoid collateral damage, even to the people actively sheltering them in the Sunni Triangle.

And you people prefer to build sewers.

#107 -- yes, the military has performed admirably.

The best COIN starts isolating the people from the insurgents. Since it seems like Sunnis want to kill Shia and vice-versa, isolation by religious ethnicity combined with hold and clear looks best going forward. Of course that has to be tied to having some kind of functioning infrastructure. What do you want, to solve every problem in the world with a rifle?

Aaron reinforces the point: it's not our game any more. We keep acting like we own Iraq, when we're just there in a support role, folks. Get over yourselves already. The Dems don't need to think of Iraq as a "problem that needs solving, not a war that needs winning" -- they should rather think of it as a promise to a new ally. How much do we mean it when we promise?

peppermint seems to be dancing all over any supposed problems we have. Odd, that. But he's figured out the most important thing: that we really wanted to steal all of that oil. I know I was very happy when my 55-gallon drum of sweet crude showed up from UPS last week. I'm also expecting some axle grease and 10W-40 later this month. Can't wait for that.

peppermint may seem wacked out, and he probably is.

But don't underestimate the effect of Iraq's oil in our own decisions going forward. It's a crucial element and if you don't believe it then you should just listen to our leaders.

As I said in post #41, Davebo, as long as the world (not just us) believe we must have oil from people who are using the money to hurt the rest of us, we're in one of those cycle-of-violence deals. It's great to have a national energy program and all of that, but it may be better to have $10 gasoline and no oil money or infrastructure for terrorism. After all, we can outbid most of the rest of the world for the remaining oil anyway, and higher prices just push innovation faster. The impact on the economy would be awful, but politically I think more folks would support taking out oil facilities, in theory, than any kind of protracted war. Once the price changes, well heck, it's a different tune. But of course by then it would be too late. As David Blue in #91 tells us, we're strong up front but lack wind -- if that is the hand we got, let's play it.

i,ve been reading all your blogs and i wonder if any of u guys have read any of the blogs coming out of iraq,written by iraqis?If you have u will know that prior to the stealtheoil/regime change gig,there was no animosity between sunni and shia,they were co-existing peacefully.
There is great opposition from both sides against the puppet government installed by the americans and wouldnt last 2 minutes if u pulled out.
Ihad to laugh at the tinfoil hat(what is that)comment.No conspiracy theory,which was the only iraqi deptbuilding not targetted by your"smart bombs"??you got it -the Ministry for oil.Check it out.Truth of the matter is,you boys have got yourself in a helluva mess,and it serves u right for voting in that borderline retard Bush(twice),a man who says nu-cu-lar instead of nuclear(just like homer simpson)a man who can barely read the autocue,still no need to worry u republicans,arnold schwartzennegar(hope i didnt spell that correctly)is waiting in the wings and he can,t pronounce anything correctly,hasta la vista baby.PS i,ll be back

#111 -- peppermintpaddy. I want you to do me a favor. Right now, go down to where you got your education, that one room schoolhouse or that expensive school, and ask for your money back. They ripped you off.

Remember not to spend all of that money at the racetrack.

Because I feel sorry for you, I will attempt to answer your questions. I just visit here a few times a week.

"i,ve been reading all your blogs" -- that's amazing. You must have a lot of time to read.

"i wonder if any of u guys have read any of the blogs coming out of iraq,written by iraqis" -- yes. I read a couple a month. I know others who read much more. Some recaps, I believe, are posted here periodically.

"there was no animosity between sunni and shia,they were co-existing peacefully." -- obviously there must have been a vulnerability there, as evidenced by recent events.

"There is great opposition from both sides against the puppet government installed by the americans and wouldnt last 2 minutes if u pulled out." -- call it what you wish, but Iraqis voted. They can keep voting, or they can fight. Up to them, really. I believe my point in this thread was that by isolating Shia and Sunni, they can do both.

"which was the only iraqi deptbuilding not targetted by your"smart bombs"??you got it -the Ministry for oil" -- and your point is that military strategy for over sixty years is to target oil production facilities? I'm not understanding you. Are you that in the dark about how a strategic bombing campaign operates? If so, just read up a bit and stop looking so ignorant. Simple, really.

"you boys have got yourself in a helluva mess,and it serves u right for voting in that borderline retard" -- So you are saying that innocent American kids deserve to die because you think the president is retarded? And you think this is in someway funny or just? First, Bush flew jet fighers -- more than you can do, by looking at your grammer and spelling (Confession: mine sucks at times too, somnetimes purposefully). Second, the system voted Bush in, he's just the guy in charge. We all put him there, even those that didn't vote for him. Lastly, Arnold can never be president as he is not a native-born American.

Aside from the fact that every sentence in your comment was inaccurate and/or misleading and dumb, I congratulate you on your desire to "mix it up" with us poor losers. The current topic is not, however, "You Americans are so stupid, your president is stupid, and you deserve what you get", it is how to help the people we made a promise to, the Iraqis. Have anything to say on that?

peppermint.

I apologize. I read your sentence backwards. I thought you wondered why we attacked the oil ministry, instead you wondered why we didn't attack it.

It looks, from this wiki article , that the goal was not strategic bombing, but a quick strike to leave as much infrastructure in place as possible (leaving behind enemy units and taking out command elements). Perhaps others can answer your question to a better degree. I know that in "normal" warfare, you take out as much strategtic infrastucture as possible. I think our plan here, however, was to create an employeed army of hundreds of thousands who had military skills and lots of free time.

#112 from Daniel Markham: "The current topic is not, however, "You Americans are so stupid, your president is stupid, and you deserve what you get", it is how to help the people we made a promise to, the Iraqis. Have anything to say on that?"

I have something to say on that.

What was this promise, and what promises did we get, or expect to get, or what commitments did we get or assume we were getting in return, and how well do that go?

Hat tip to Instapundit: (link) "The encouraging thing here is how convincingly Maliki talks about imposing "the authority of the state," and he shows a pretty nuanced view of the danger the militias pose outside state control, and the role they can play if properly regulated. He also makes a point I had never thought of, which is that the United States and the Coalition have an obligation under Security Council resolutions to maintain security in Iraq until Iraqi security forces can take over."

I am tired of these one-sided obligations to people who favor our enemies such as Moqtada Al-Sadr.

If this is an adult deal, I want to know our side of it, that it is worth it and that it is being honored.

If this is a charity case, I'd like to press the claims of oppressed Christians and Animists in Africa, or for that matter sad-eyed baby seals and smiling dolphins, which at least don't try to kill us on a regular basis.

David (#114) -- not a charity case. I think it's an adult deal, as you say.

We had an obligation to maintain order through the transition. One could argue (and I do) that the transition has already taken place. Currently, our promise is not about the invasion. That's one of the reasons I find some of these comments so silly. The invasion and occupation is over, get over it. The question now is: to what degree do we support our new ally Iraq in the region? Do we whine and complain about Bush and the price paid and abandon them? Or do we come to some kind of level of support that we would give any our allies in the same situation (that would be in our interest)? How would we treat Saudi Arabia if they were in similar circumstances?

I'd like to add that the answer is "What's in it for me?" Maliki's ideas aside, now is the time for the Iraqi government to start bidding on what they want to give up to keep stability for a while. What, exactly, is their part of this alliance? Cheap oil? Bases? Dedicated muslim anti-terrorist forces at our disposal? Nothing?

There is an elected government. The country was stable enough to select it and to create a constitution. Unless somebody can point to some other real, tangible thing we're supposed to do as conquerors, now is the time for them to put up or shut up. We're willing to be allies, and allies will sacrifice for each other, but it's a two-way street.

So d markham(112)doesn,t know if i went to an "expensive school or a one room schoolhouse"Typical extremist thought,either black or white,you,re either for us or agin us.One thing they did teach me was comprehension,and how to read between the lines.Not to eat up whatever BS that fox news decides to feed me,with a big spoon in your case DMarkham.The point is about not bombing the oil ministry in baghdad,is that they needed that infrastructure intact from the get go,unlike the fresh water,electricity,sewage water etc etc that they destroyed(dont worry,haliburton will fix it)Yes,i have absolutely no idea how a "strategic bombing campaign works" and thank god for that!Life is much too short for such BS,Dmarkham or is it General?How many stars???So,at least the iraqis can vote,big deal.Thats some consolation for being confined to their house during curfew,having no services,frightened to go to the market for fear of being blown to bits by a suicide bomber.So d markham,you say you read 2 blogs a month from iraq,you should read more than 2.Thats why a euphenism for intelligent/knowledgeable is "well read"As for george dubya being a fighter pilot,there was no chance of him being anywhere near vietnam,multimillionaire daddykins pulled those strings so he never saw any combat.And No,im not saying innocent American kids deserve to die...Bush is with his phoney BSwar(didnt see his daughters there,did u?)And finally"we all put him there,even those who didnt vote for him...)how does that work exactly...how can u be guilty of voting him in if u didnt vote for him?at least if u didnt vote for him u can always say"i told you so"PS there was talk recently of changing the "native american born president" thing to "naturalised american"so that would include arnold Schwartzenneggar,so dont worry America,theres another retard waiting in the wings,hasta la vista baby,i,ll be back

peppermint. Was there a question or a point in there anywhere?

Peppermint,
I'm looking forward to your references to Coalition forces attacking water and sewage infrastructure. It should be interesting. Some electricity distribution was attacked initially as many military systems, like air defense centers, utilize it. But little of the generation capacity was actually destroyed.

Otherwise, your rant seems to bear little relation to actual events.

yesre 118 dmarkham,comprehend.Look it up.It means to understand the nature and meaning of something.Understand what is happening in iraq.Understand the nature and meaning of your government.When they say"liberate the people of iraq blah blah"they mean. subjugate and enslave ."bring democracy blah blah.."means vote in our puppets which we will then prop up with whatever military force is needed,and if you dont vote in our puppets,we wont recognise your government.eg hamas in palestine."Rendition" means kidnap (suspected )terrorists in foreign,countries fly them to secret locations around europe/asia and torture them to your hearts content."fight for freedom and democracy"means overtly(iraq Afghanistan) or covertly(Congo,Chile,El salvdor,Nicaragua,Iran,etc etc)means install or overthrow any government not to your liking.Saddam Hussein was part of a cia-backed hit squad ,to kill the monarch of iraq in 1958,indeed Saddam was your big buddy until he disobeyed your orders and invaded Kuwait.How many times did Rumsfeld meet him ,4 wasnt it?So d markham,you can sit in front of your laptop and play pocket generals ,but your boys are getting a good kicking from the towelheads and it serves u right.Thats what happens to bullies,they get their comeuppance,hasta la vista baybeeeee

So the answer is no? You have no point or question?

As an aside, I have a weakness for trolls. I think I enjoy the way they put together words in the language without actually getting anywhere. Look at peppermint here, in his last two posts I have learned how bad I am and he's done nothing but repeat various incomplete accusations he's heard mixed in with clumsy banter. Is that sufficient for discussion? Does peppermint feel like "hey, if I only insult that dmarkham fellow enough, I've made a contribution to society"?

I can understand the anger and confusion, especially for the education-challenged among us. But I'm still trying to work out what a troll like this is trying to accomplish. Do they suppose that reasoned discourse is like a bunch of 12-year-olds trying to think of the worst insult to hurl at each other? Should I respond "Neener neener!" and make an ugly face? It's simply fascinating -- both linguistically and sociologically. It's almost mechanistic, but in between the forumulaic phrases, an intellect lurks. At least I hope.

Apologies for feeding the troll. They say if you feed them, you can never get rid of them.

re 119:-SPQR;Wasnt spqr the sign for imperial Rome,perhaps you would like an American empire to rival it<a freudian slip there spqr.With the Bushes as the Imperial family,Dear me George dubya would be a perfect cl-cl-claudius.
The references to other services being destroyed you wont see on fox news,there,everything in the garden is rosy and it all ends happily ever after.No if you look at the news around europe(BBC is good)you will get a broader view.You can also see Aljazeera in english online.The idea of destroying the water sevice and sewage treatment plants was possibly not deliberate(but i bet it was)but perhaps some of those "smart"bombs werent so"smart" after all(dubya bombs perhaps)At least you had the balls to indulge in some debate spqr,unlike d markham who is probably even now,fantasising about world domination from his bedroom in boise idaho,hasta la vista baby

Skimming, yes. Taking seriously, no. That qualifies as "ignoring" for me.

I don't know why I'd expect you to redfine only a few words. Keep up the good work.

You might want to work on your own reading comprehension first - the ad hominem bit was the idiot remark, as was abundantly clear from my last comment.

I wasn't arguing with you. I was arguing with hypocrisy and he was the one not called an idiot. Now if I had called him an idiot in that post that would be ad hominem. I hope you are taking notes.

Your original attack was textbook straw man, which was asinine in its own unique way.

Actually, no. My original argument was about consistency and was framed quite nicely(which you conveniently ignored by the way). And since you didn't answer it I'm guessing it bothered you. Mission accomplished as they say.

See, Front, here's the thing - the gist of my original comment was that AL was continuing to make the same bad arguments without reexamining how reality had proved them wrong. Eric Shinseki, to the best of my knowledge, is not continuing to argue that the Crusader artillery system is a vital component of American security. Therefore, insofar as Shinseki's mistake was analogous to AL's (which you've pretty much admitted it wasn't, but I was giving you the benefit of the doubt at the time... not a mistake I'll make again) the fact that Shinseki was not still arguing his earlier mistake was quite germane to the point I was making.

Crusader has been dead since 2002 and so has Shinseki, figuratively, of course. Which is why I laid out the time frame for you. Here, I'll bold it so your partisan eye can see....

Hey, Chris, did you make Shinseki repent for his post-9/11 support of the Crusader artillery system before you championed his frank truthiness about troop levels?

See? That puts the time frame from 9/12/01 to sometime in '04 when Shinseki's words became scripture.

The only difference between Shinseki and AL is that one was definitely an error. I'd love to see Shinseki's thoughts on Crusader today. He certainly was for it on 9/12/01 and May '02 and February '03(when he became your side's hero). The guy worked on the project for a decade so I know what I'd wager.

And hey, while we're doing the whole rhetorical pissing contest, allow me to go back and eviscerate some of your original paragraph:

Let me guess...'eviscerate', in your world, means to dance about gingerly?

Well, no, it wouldn't have meant less money for Humvees, etc., because Bush and the Republican congress showed absolutely no inclination, post-9/11, to put any kind of limits at all on borrowing money for defense purposes.

Ceteris paribus, Chris. Another phrase you might want to earmark in your crusty old Encyclopdia Britannica. Well, Shinseki met with Republicans from Oklahoma about fighting for Crusader. Despite the fact his bosses considered the case settled. I wonder what happened? The Republican Congress must have...wait for it...limited something. To the everlasting scorn of your god no doubt.

Likewise, you're basically assuming that the budget would have remained a zero-sum game had extra troops been added to the military, and/or that production of military gear couldn't possibly have been expanded. Presumably, in such a scenario, you foresaw the army sending its troops to Iraq naked, unarmed, and without food and water because they would have kept their supply logistics for the same fixed number of troops as before the war.

Nice bit of hyperbole. No, they'd have had clothes, arms, food, and water...though they'd have had an even more pronounced shortage of...armor. You know...those things you guys were weeping over for 2 years.

Brilliant thinking, really. (And to forestall your inevitable response, yes I know what ceteris paribus means. No, it still doesn't follow that absolutely no adjustments for the additional cost of the Crusader, or the additional logistical demands of more troops wouldn't have been accommodated.)

No adjustments were made for tax cuts. SHIT! Wait a minute.....There must be a gene for consistency that some people were born without.

Actually, I did... but that doesn't really matter to you, does it?

I like to think people have atleast some redeeming qualities. Even if they don't give me any reason to expect they exist.

We both know there's no realistic way for me to prove that over the Internet, and any reasonable person wouldn't have made that assumption one way or another. You're bringing it up here because, for all your pretensions of keepin' it real, non-partisan style, you're basically just a spiteful little troll who's trying to provoke an argument.

If you'd responded reasonably the first time you'd have gotten a different response. But you didn't. I give people want they deserve. If they want an honest debate they get that. I can treat AL like a grown up despite our passed differences.

Fortunately, I kick trolls around for fun, so if you really want to get in to the days-long post/counter-post argument this seems headed towards, bring it on.

Sure. I'm actually now regretting spending Saturday drinking beer and eating fried pickles. Who knew you'd be more fun than a bunch of men in lederhosen?

I'm actually quite curious as to how many out of context sentence fragments you're gonna cut this current post into, all in a pathetic effort to score rhetorical points. My current guess is 10 - 20, but I guess we'll see what happens.

I prefer blocking the context. Now that you properly understand my first post to you maybe you'll do me the favor of addressing it. Thanks in advance.....

Yes, peppermint, I chose a nickname solely to indicate my desire for American hegemony of the world. Sheesh. You are not becoming more coherent, but it is amusing that you can't find any support for your wild claims outside of Jihad TV.

So, we're for democracy as long as it results in a government we like and that is aligned with out interests? If we help them become a democracy and they vote for theocrats and thugs then we'd prefer an autocrat?

Sorry, that's Cold War lunacy redux. Even if Iraq turns into Iran's little brother atleast we'd have a readily indentifiable bloc against which to work. I never thought I would be telling others this but...don't be so pessimistic. We win either way as long as there is democracy there. It's the best attack we can make against the neighbors including our double-plus good ally, Saudi Arabia.

Isn't 'SPQR' still stamped on the manhole covers in Italy? Stay away from there, peppermint, lest your head explode.

SPQR -- I guess now you can't wear that centurion hat around the house any more.

SPQR;-of course you didnt choose that name on purpose,thats why its called a freudian slip...doh,crypto-fascists choose names like that,and what was all that "troll"mumbo-jumbo about dmarkham,you must have taken some serious drugs in your time!So frontinus,you see everything in your world as a conflict scenario,youre all complete gung ho nutters.As for Saudi Arabia as an ally,call that a democracy.It has 30,000 members in its royal family,repeat 30,000.And the rest of the people live in poverty.No wonder 17 out of the 20 9/11 boys were from Saudi Arabia.Funny that ,how u never invaded them.By the way frontinus(another Roman name?)SPQR is not imprinted on the manhole covers in italy,only in Rome.Thats probably understandable you making that mistake,because you are far too insular.Is it true that less than 10% of Americans own a passport?You should get out more!Travel broadens the mind!You wouldn,t be all sat at home like nerdy Dr Strangeloves if you had actually travelled further than the mall.Asfor my "wild claims" re destuction of service infrastructurein Iraq,perhaps you could investigate first before dismissing them,and since when has the BBC been jihad tv?By the way guys,is this a crypto-fascist site,do i have to adopt a "roman"name ,suggestions please on a postcard,hasta la vista baybeeee

Peppermint, crypto-fascist? I'm puzzled, do you actually know what kind of ideology that is? And how do you relate it to the website? Or is that just your namecalling epithet of the day?

Daniel,
The wife will be happy that I won't be able to wear the greaves any longer.

I would like to acknowledge once and for all, that I do not know what a crypto-fascist is, and I am fairly ignorant of manhole configurations in the nation of Italy.

I do however have a passport, and I have traveled across the pond on several occasions. Next time I go, I will be sure to check the manholes and watch more BBC. I would watch it here, but I have more respect for myself than that. The most I can do is a little NPR in the afternoons, and that's when I'm not studying.

frontinus is exactly right. It's a win-win. Leave it to us to expect both perfection and zero-wait when comitting troops. Any voting will start sorting out the issues over there. The more they vote and fight, the more things get sorted out. By "jumping ahead" to whatever we think the solution is going to be, we a) cheat the Iraqis out of solving their own problems, and b) insist that somehow the entire world work out according to our wishes. Neither of those two seem reasonable.

#115 from Daniel Markham "We had an obligation to maintain order through the transition. One could argue (and I do) that the transition has already taken place."

I agree.

#115 from Daniel Markham "Or do we come to some kind of level of support that we would give any our allies in the same situation (that would be in our interest)? How would we treat Saudi Arabia if they were in similar circumstances?"

I don't regard Saudia Arabia as an ally. Should America support it the way it should support a real ally, like the United Kingdom or Poland? No.

So guys,none of you seem to know what crypto-fascist is,ok then how about closet nazi?I see that none of u seem to want to answer any serious point(s)i made,and try and deflect them with humour(you are about as funny as letterman)instead.Seriously,dmarkham,you say you would watch the BBC,but you think far too much of yourself.What does that mean?Explain please.Also frontinus,what about bringing DEMOCRACY to your"double plus good ally"Saudi Arabia.The ruling cabal there,keep their people in poverty and women cannot vote,beheading is still official execution mode(women also,for adultery).Some ally.If it wasn,t for the 100,000 us troops there,the royal family would be overthrown tomorrow.Some serious debate please

"If it wasn,t for the 100,000 us troops there,the royal family would be overthrown tomorrow.Some serious debate please"

Smirk. Somebody please explain to this trodgolyte that there arent any US troops left in Saudi Arabia and havent been in over 3 years. Now what were you saying about serious debate?

Peppermint,
I have never been in the closet. And if that was supposed to be one of your serious points, it got lost on the way to the Forum. Hint: calling people nazis is neither serious nor debate.

Hrm... you cut my 6 paragraph reply into 12 different segments. Looks like I was right on the money, frontinus!

Skimming, yes. Taking seriously, no. That qualifies as "ignoring" for me.

I don't know why I'd expect you to redfine only a few words. Keep up the good work.

Funny, "to reject as unfounded" is still a legitimate definition of ignore, according to Merriam-Webster. But wait, those damned dictionary people must be in league with me, changing word meanings behind your back! Those bastards! Time for you to write them a bitchy email telling them what idiots they are, frontinus!

I wasn't arguing with you. I was arguing with hypocrisy and he was the one not called an idiot. Now if I had called him an idiot in that post that would be ad hominem. I hope you are taking notes.

Ah, so it's not an ad hominem if you weren't directly addressing me. Wow, good thing I know you'd never attempt to redefine words, or else I'd have to point out that you're thrashing around ridiculously to cover up your nonsense arguments.

Your original attack was textbook straw man, which was asinine in its own unique way.

Actually, no. My original argument was about consistency and was framed quite nicely(which you conveniently ignored by the way). And since you didn't answer it I'm guessing it bothered you. Mission accomplished as they say.

Your original argument was an attack that assumed I held certain positions on a matter largely unrelated to what I was saying to AL. As I said, textbook straw man. And as to whether I answered your post, I did indeed do so in my response #30, and gave further elaboration in comment #90. The fact that you declare it not to be an answer doesn't make it so.

Well, no, it wouldn't have meant less money for Humvees, etc., because Bush and the Republican congress showed absolutely no inclination, post-9/11, to put any kind of limits at all on borrowing money for defense purposes.

Well, Shinseki met with Republicans from Oklahoma about fighting for Crusader. Despite the fact his bosses considered the case settled. I wonder what happened? The Republican Congress must have...wait for it...limited something. To the everlasting scorn of your god no doubt.

The program was cut, but there's no indication that they wouldn't have borrowed just as much money for other defense projects had it gone forward. There's no reason to assume otherwise, pedantic whining about ceteris paribus aside.

Nice bit of hyperbole. No, they'd have had clothes, arms, food, and water...though they'd have had an even more pronounced shortage of...armor. You know...those things you guys were weeping over for 2 years.

Pray tell, why, frontinus? What was it about the Crusader that would have prevented the production of Humvee armor and/or bulletproof vests, while not hampering the procurement of clothes, arms, food and water? Was the Crusader to be made of the mysterious element unobtainium, which was also desperately needed for bulletproof vest manufacture?

Brilliant thinking, really. (And to forestall your inevitable response, yes I know what ceteris paribus means. No, it still doesn't follow that absolutely no adjustments for the additional cost of the Crusader, or the additional logistical demands of more troops wouldn't have been accommodated.)

No adjustments were made for tax cuts. SHIT! Wait a minute.....There must be a gene for consistency that some people were born without.

Ah, you're saying Bush slowed spending because of tax cuts? Do tell! As for consistency, I'll just go back and reread your explanation of what is and isn't ad hominem, and reflect on pots, kettles, and other things of a black nature.

We both know there's no realistic way for me to prove that over the Internet, and any reasonable person wouldn't have made that assumption one way or another. You're bringing it up here because, for all your pretensions of keepin' it real, non-partisan style, you're basically just a spiteful little troll who's trying to provoke an argument.

If you'd responded reasonably the first time you'd have gotten a different response. But you didn't. I give people want they deserve. If they want an honest debate they get that. I can treat AL like a grown up despite our passed differences.

Ah, so because I didn't fall down groveling at your feet over the brilliance of your straw man argument, you took that as justification to troll out. Oddly enough, I also give people what they deserve - I think AL's in a state of delusion, but oddly enough, my comments to him, while harsh, are still far more civil than my responses to you. He, at least, has good intentions - all you've got is bile.

I'm actually quite curious as to how many out of context sentence fragments you're gonna cut this current post into, all in a pathetic effort to score rhetorical points. My current guess is 10 - 20, but I guess we'll see what happens.

I prefer blocking the context. Now that you properly understand my first post to you maybe you'll do me the favor of addressing it. Thanks in advance.....

Please tell me, frontinus, why I should bother to address your ridiculous argument any more than I already have? You call me an idiot, you spew nonsense about what a logical fallacy is, you accuse me of manufacturing "counterfactual histories" without providing any evidence to the contrary, and you happily admit you're ignoring my arguments and you're just trying to goad me. Why should I, or anyone else, ever treat you as anything but a loathsome little slug?

My father-in-law was stationed in Saudi Arabia in the 40s. I blame Bush.

No wonder 17 out of the 20 9/11 boys were from Saudi Arabia.

Yes. No wonder. I have to give props to KSM or OBL or whoever was responsible for that decision--they certainly read their target audience correctly.

Funny that ,how u never invaded them.

Invading Saudi Arabia? So you think like the al Qaeda thinkers. Kudos to you. Of course, deposing the House of Saud would have meant what exactly? Let's see...what other power center resides in the Kingdom? Hrmmmmm...Who was it again that Sultan asked for help when Abdullah was named heir? It's on the tip of my tongue.

If you honestly wanted to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the roster of 9/11 jihadis you'd be supporting Iraq. It's be best option for toppling the monarchy down south. Course, you don't care...If toppling the HoS helped the U.S. in any way I'm sure you'd find some way to oppose it. Sucks to be you.

>blockquote>By the way frontinus(another Roman name?)

Yeah, he wrote about the management of aqueducts. Surely a fascist as well.

SPQR is not imprinted on the manhole covers in italy,only in Rome.Thats probably understandable you making that mistake,because you are far too insular.

And Rome is in Italy, no? So your knee-jerk 'fascist' reaction to the poster named SPQR doesn't apply to real Romans because why exactly?

Hrm... you cut my 6 paragraph reply into 12 different segments.

12>6. But don't let that discourage you from accusing me of omitting context.

Funny, "to reject as unfounded" is still a legitimate definition of ignore, according to Merriam-Webster.

So you have issues with 'unfounded' as well? You're going to be a busy boy, Chris.

Ah, so it's not an ad hominem if you weren't directly addressing me. Wow, good thing I know you'd never attempt to redefine words, or else I'd have to point out that you're thrashing around ridiculously to cover up your nonsense arguments.

What was nonsense about pointing out Shinseki's role in Crusader? It's inconvenient for your nonsensical revisionism but it's hardly nonsense on my end. And, yes, ad hominem is a logical fallacy. I can call you any combination of derogatory words while not debating you. It's called being rude...not illogical.

Your original argument was an attack that assumed I held certain positions on a matter largely unrelated to what I was saying to AL. As I said, textbook straw man. And as to whether I answered your post, I did indeed do so in my response #30, and gave further elaboration in comment #90. The fact that you declare it not to be an answer doesn't make it so.

You wanted AL to repent before taking him seriously. I asked if you did the same to Shinseki. It's not a straw man. You can't answer it...but that's not my fault.

The program was cut, but there's no indication that they wouldn't have borrowed just as much money for other defense projects had it gone forward. There's no reason to assume otherwise, pedantic whining about ceteris paribus aside.

Then why wasn't Crusader kept? If money was no object and Shinseki and the Oklahoma Congresspeople were right then where'd it go? It was only a few billion. Besides, paying for it has nothing to do with my argument. Shinseki lobbied for $10-20 billion for Crusader...not useable armor. That was obviously a mistake given what transpired.

Pray tell, why, frontinus? What was it about the Crusader that would have prevented the production of Humvee armor and/or bulletproof vests, while not hampering the procurement of clothes, arms, food and water? Was the Crusader to be made of the mysterious element unobtainium, which was also desperately needed for bulletproof vest manufacture?

You can deploy men and women without armor as your side has taken much glee in pointing out. You cannot deploy them without uniforms, weapons, food, and water

Ah, you're saying Bush slowed spending because of tax cuts? Do tell! As for consistency, I'll just go back and reread your explanation of what is and isn't ad hominem, and reflect on pots, kettles, and other things of a black nature.

No, I'm repeating the left's argument that Bush's tax cuts should have been paid for. They weren't. So no adjustments were made for a few hundred billion dollar program...what is there to lead one to believe adjustments would be made for a few billion dollar program? Ultimately, I think, your need to believe is all there is.

Ah, so because I didn't fall down groveling at your feet over the brilliance of your straw man argument, you took that as justification to troll out. Oddly enough, I also give people what they deserve - I think AL's in a state of delusion, but oddly enough, my comments to him, while harsh, are still far more civil than my responses to you. He, at least, has good intentions - all you've got is bile.

Now you know how AL feels. Too bad he didn't cry quite like you did.

Please tell me, frontinus, why I should bother to address your ridiculous argument any more than I already have?

Were you sitting near a mirror when you typed this? You can address my argument whenever you feel the list bit of shame. Until then you can create as many different standards as it takes for you to sleep at night. It's not really my problem.

The rest of your little spiel would serve as the perfect illustration of "counterfactual history"...in case you're still in the dark on that one.

SO,no american troops in saudi arabia,for the last 3 yrs,well theyve only moved over the border,and theyll be back in two ticks ,should they be needed.The point is still valid though.They r still there to protect the "royal"house of saudi.Frontinus,you really r the boy in the bubble.The question as to why you didn,t invade the KSA was a rhetorical one,Why on earth would u do that when you have that corrupt crowd in charge,guaranteeing your oil needs for as long as.Still,its interesting though,you adopting a Roman name,and spqr of course,definitely a theme there.By the way,what was the point of the rome/italy thing.There is a difference of course.Would u say that new york was the same thing as america?Apologies to spqr,i wasn,t calling You a nazi,I was however suggesting that yourself and indeed most contributors to this blog ,have a definite tendency to express standard fascist thinking to most problems,ie might is right,the end justifies the means,the cult of the leader etc.If i am wrong about that spqr,double nay triple apologies.

No, Peppermint, your point is not valid. In fact, your "point" is illustrative that you don't have any idea what is actually happening but insist upon opining upon it nonetheless.

Please don't feed the trolls.

Funny, "to reject as unfounded" is still a legitimate definition of ignore, according to Merriam-Webster.

So you have issues with 'unfounded' as well? You're going to be a busy boy, Chris.

You, um, do realize this is pretty much a non-sequitur response to what I said, right?

Ah, so it's not an ad hominem if you weren't directly addressing me. Wow, good thing I know you'd never attempt to redefine words, or else I'd have to point out that you're thrashing around ridiculously to cover up your nonsense arguments.

What was nonsense about pointing out Shinseki's role in Crusader? It's inconvenient for your nonsensical revisionism but it's hardly nonsense on my end. And, yes, ad hominem is a logical fallacy. I can call you any combination of derogatory words while not debating you. It's called being rude...not illogical.

Actually, the nonsense argument was that you weren't pushing an ad hominem earlier... which is something you seem prepared to keep pursuing. First it wasn't because you weren't addressing me, now it's because this isn't a "debate"... I'm really interested to see how many spurious ways you can justify yourself.

Your original argument was an attack that assumed I held certain positions on a matter largely unrelated to what I was saying to AL. As I said, textbook straw man. And as to whether I answered your post, I did indeed do so in my response #30, and gave further elaboration in comment #90. The fact that you declare it not to be an answer doesn't make it so.

You wanted AL to repent before taking him seriously. I asked if you did the same to Shinseki. It's not a straw man. You can't answer it...but that's not my fault.

Ah, here's the purest distillation of the "point" you think you're making we've yet seen. So let's break this down:

- I never said AL had to "repent"; I simply questioned his current credibility based on how most of his past arguments - arguments he's made in a sustained fashion for years, going against the people whose side he's nominally on - had been proven incorrect. This is hardly an irrational argument to make.

- An analogy between Shinseki and AL is meaningless because, as you point out, Shinseki is figuratively dead, and AL is still posting. Furthermore, the analogy would only work if you assumed that I hated the Crusader (it seemed pretty run-of-the-mill to me, military boondoggle-wise) worshipped Shinseki's "truthiness" about the troops (actually, at the time I was more worried about Saddam setting the oil fields on fire) and thought that the Crusader would have endangered a whole bunch of liberal pet peeves, such as armor for the troops. (Which is A: nonsense, as I've argued above, and B: further ridiculous, since the question was never about affording the armor so much as it was Rumsfeld's failure to increase production of those items in a timely manner.)

- That said, insofar as you're asking (in a highly obnoxious manner) why his support for the Crusader shouldn't have discredited his arguments about troop levels, the answer is that Shinseki's credibility (or lack thereof) was based on more than just the Crusader system - he did pursue it with great enthusiasm, but becoming a 4-star general and Army Chief of Staff means he has a lot more on his resume than just endorsing a military boondoggle. In contrast, AL, especially here at Winds of Change, has been defined almost entirely by two things: the need for Democratic "reform", as defined by him, and his support for the Iraq war. History has arguably proven him wrong on both counts, as the recent elections and the title of this very thread suggest. AL's credibility is therefore way more shaky than Shinseki's was at the point he made his remarks about several hundred thousand troops.

This is, of course, the third time I've addressed this question. I doubt you'll find this any more of an answer than my previous comments, but it's fun to watch you repeatedly insist that I'm not addressing your arguments, even as they pile up in front of you.

The program was cut, but there's no indication that they wouldn't have borrowed just as much money for other defense projects had it gone forward. There's no reason to assume otherwise, pedantic whining about ceteris paribus aside.

Then why wasn't Crusader kept? If money was no object and Shinseki and the Oklahoma Congresspeople were right then where'd it go? It was only a few billion. Besides, paying for it has nothing to do with my argument. Shinseki lobbied for $10-20 billion for Crusader...not useable armor. That was obviously a mistake given what transpired.

Why wasn't the Crusader kept? I don't know for sure, but I can think of some possible reasons: because it pissed off Don Rumsfeld to be buying huge unwieldy tanks when the military was supposed to be becoming "nimble and responsive", because cutting it at least gave Bush the appearance that he was dealing with the deficit, or maybe because it really was a bad, overpriced, overdesigned system. (Sometimes the system works!) "We have to kill this so we can afford armor" doesn't make sense - it was never an either/or decision. Speaking of which...

Pray tell, why, frontinus? What was it about the Crusader that would have prevented the production of Humvee armor and/or bulletproof vests, while not hampering the procurement of clothes, arms, food and water? Was the Crusader to be made of the mysterious element unobtainium, which was also desperately needed for bulletproof vest manufacture?

You can deploy men and women without armor as your side has taken much glee in pointing out. You cannot deploy them without uniforms, weapons, food, and water

Well, you can deploy them any way you like. But you're still not answering my question of why there's this zero-sum tradeoff between the Crusader and armor. If money was no object - and it wasn't really - we could have built one or the other, or both, or neither. You're trying to use this to prove the irrationality of political viewpoints I haven't even argued here, not because you believe it but because you think you're smarter than me... and you're just proving the opposite.

Ah, you're saying Bush slowed spending because of tax cuts? Do tell!

No, I'm repeating the left's argument that Bush's tax cuts should have been paid for. They weren't. So no adjustments were made for a few hundred billion dollar program...what is there to lead one to believe adjustments would be made for a few billion dollar program? Ultimately, I think, your need to believe is all there is.

Um, you do realize that proves my point, frontinus? GWB effectively gave money away, but military operations weren't significantly curtailed. Had the Crusader gone forward, that would have basically been a similar give-away to General Dynamics... but again, there's no reason to think that military operations would have changed much. We'd have just borrowed more from the Chinese.

Now you know how AL feels. Too bad he didn't cry quite like you did.

Frontinus, the only tears I'm crying are tears of laughter from your wonderful "logic".

The rest of your little spiel would serve as the perfect illustration of "counterfactual history"...in case you're still in the dark on that one.

Hrm. Well let's look at "the rest of my little spiel" and see how well I can support it with those pesky things called facts:

You call me an idiot...

Your comment #73, 'nuff said.

...you spew nonsense about what a logical fallacy is...

Your comments trying to explain away your ad hominem at #87, #123 and #138, among others.

...you accuse me of manufacturing "counterfactual histories" without providing any evidence to the contrary...

Your comment #34, where you said "Saying Shinseki was right is counterfactual." without any corroborating evidence.

...and you happily admit you're ignoring my arguments and you're just trying to goad me.

Your comment #34, where you said "No. But it makes you look like an ignoramus. What can I say...I content myself with the little things in life."

Myself, I content myself with tirelessly pointing out holes in your bs. Until next time, frontinus!

Well what a sad bunch you lot are!!Verbal diarrhoea from Frontinus and Chris,arguing back n forth about military hardware!Are u guys rejects from military academy?.GET A LIFE.
Better still,why don,t u join up and turn your military fantasies into reality,get your red necks over to iraq and kick some arab ass!(most of em won,t fight back,theyre women n kids)
You can check out the latest hardware and test the armor on the humvee,interesting the tank is called a "crusader"(that should win a few hearts n minds).No,i don,t think u will somehow,i think you,ll stay as far away from iraq as your beloved George dubya did from Vietnam .Or perhaps you could get a truck drivin job with Haliburton,apparently they get paid 3 times the salary of a pvt soldier.Nice to know where your tax dollars r going isn,t it.Anyway guys ,keep up the good work,score points off each other with your p*****ng contests,meanwhile,you still haven,t got osama bin hidin and as i said earlier,he,s negotiating with pakistani secret service(isi)over some wmd(yes folks,they do exist,but not in iraq)hasta la vista babes

David (#132) "I don't regard Saudia Arabia as an ally. Should America support it the way it should support a real ally, like the United Kingdom or Poland? No."

I'm with you most of the way, David. You lose me when you use the term "real ally". It's not a real or fake question. We have certain strategic interests in common with KSA. We have strategic and cultural ties with GB and Poland. Are cultural ties stronger than strategic ones? Look, if you're keeping score, perhaps Poland gets more "freebies" than KSA. I believe that the amount of sacrifices we're willing to make is an ongoing negotiated process with every ally. What's the old saying? Among nations there is no such thing as friends, only shared interests.

KSA lacks a democracy. That means, as we've seen, that there are some explosive elements lurking there for the region. The world needs to deal with that. But right now? Maybe in a few years more resources will be available. I think it's a fair thing to say that the royal family in KSA do not represent the people -- a consideration to make in dealing with them. Eventually, the world is going to have to deal with every population that is not represented by it's people. If we could all live in a box, that would be different (and I wish it were).

I think as long as we're clear to the region that the Iraqi oil wells are not getting into the hands of terrorist funders (or we'll destroy them), that changes the game immensely. The factions in Iraq are playing scorched earth because they think the "earth" is valuable to us. We can play scorched earth too, and taking out the oil wells is really easy for us to do. We can even play that game in surrounding countries overtly or by stealth. I believe it is in our best interest, and the interest of the Iraqi people, to reduce their attractiveness to terror. That doesn't necessarily mean "run away". I think the question now is: what does Iraq want to trade? We've got a pretty good hand, let's play it.

re #145,Hey danny boy,back in town huh?Tell me danny,what sacrifices are u willing to make for the great war effort?Probably the same amount of sacrifice that george dubya and his millionaire chums(and their families) are making,ie None.No siree,the only sacrifices being made are by poor american kids(and their families)and by the iraqis in their droves(or dont they count?)BY the way,another 100 iraqis kidnapped today,probably dead by tomorrow(was it on fox news?)Thats what you get when you open pandoras box.Or to put it in Forrest Gump speak"War is like a box of chocolates,you never know what your gonna get"By the way dannyboy,you havent explained why you won,t watch the BBC,after all thats the tv service of your great ally,what about the special relationship?ps i,ll be back

Hey, peppermint-

You're welcome to come here and make arguments, but I'm still looking forthem in your generalized (and badly-punctuated) spews. You're on the edge of being shown the door by the management; our goal is to provike interesting conversations - especially among people who don't agree - and you're pissing in the punchbowl and making those conversations less likely.

So take a few minutes and decide whether you want to stay or go. You're welcome to stay, if you can get beyond namecalling and yob-talk. Make a case, set out some facts that aren't on the front pages. Just be kind of interesting, will you?

A.L.

Hey ,great to hear from you Armed Liberal,well the thought police are alive n well n thriving in the "land of the free and the home of the brave"
So,you,re threatening to throw me out if i dont toe the party line huh?Well to paraphrase groucho marx,i don,t wanna be part of a club that would have me as a member anyway.I didnt know it was a mutual admiration society.I,m sorry about the punctuation(but i can pronounce nuclear)but at least i disguise my swearwords with a few as**risks so as not to provike(sic) u any further.By the way,apparently,none of my facts are on the front pages,otherwise you would all know that the water,electricity and sewage treatment plants were destroyed as a matter of course when u " liberated " IRAQ.Perhaps your blogsite should be called the "George Dubya appreciation society" and then i would not have joined in,No,instead u called it Iraq is Fu***d,so i thought that was what you were discussing.Pardon me for pi***ng in your punchbowl,i promise to be good.Publish and be damned(hope my punctuation has improved)ps maybe i,ll be back

#145 from Daniel Markham: "Among nations there is no such thing as friends, only shared interests."

I think that's one of the world's worst memes, up there with "diversity" and "We have met the enemy and they are us."

It has no foundation. (Like "diversity" which for an academic doctrine stands on an intellectual basis of empty air. And like "they are us" which was just a line in a cartoon.) It's based on a misquotation of an original quote which was highly specific and made sense only in the intended context.

And it prompts people towards suicidal diplomacy, by encouraging people to treat lightly and disdainfully, even exploitively, the permanent natural friendships (and alas enmities) which so often are the life and death of states and nations. (E.g. if not for the solidarity of the Latin League what would have become of Rome?)

With those three shallow, false and destructive ideas or repeated catch phrases unchallenged, any amount of harm may follow.

I do not recommend:
1. Disdaining and effectively throwing away true friendships and alliances.
2. Encouraging the expansion of hostile cultures and ethnic Balkanization.
3. Preemptively redefining real, external enemies as really being "us", with "us" always to blame, and navel-gazing and pursuit of domestic quarrels being the default solutions.

I think Sun Tzu would agree that if you can get people repeating the catch-phases and acting as though those three points are good ideas, all you need is deck chairs, popcorn and cool drinks while you enjoy the show.

What could be better than to destroy the enemy's strategies and disrupt his alliances? Only to have the enemy believe he should toss away his own alliances as things of slight value, aid his foes, and build strategies that define himself as the or a legitimate target.

I can't over-stress how much I am not buying this.

"Hey ,great to hear from you Armed Liberal,well the thought police are alive n well n thriving"

Why dont you try providing a coherant thought before worrying about who's policing them.

Yikes David! Me! The thoughtless meme-spreader. (grin)

Who wouldda thunk it?

I believe when you say "it has no foundation" you mean that it is nonsense, in the technical sense -- that is, the words have no definite meaning. I'm only guessing, however, as I am unclear exactly the nature of your distress.

Surely you are not buying that old canard that countries are just giant versions of human beings, eg, The Body Politic? I mean, there are 300 million people in this country, who have all kinds of opinions about everything. Even with a representative government, we have hundreds of representatives, which we change up all the time. Congress is almost constantly changing, and we switch up executives every four years or so.

So while I believe I understand your troubles as some version of misunderstanding utilitarianism -- that is, if we only measure "the greater good" in petty terms it's stupendously bad. Let's just apply a practical thought experiment, shall we? Looking back in history, all sorts of different cultures have sucessfully interacted and protected each other to some degree when their interests suited. Native Americans and Pilgrims, Spanish sailors and South Pacific Islanders, heck even Islamic Caliphates and Crusaders made deals, continued trade, fought common enemies, and found ways to co-exist. Now you can argue that none of these were "true" allies, but I think the burden is on you, not me, to explain what you mean in better terms than simple exasperation. I'll remind you, as an example of the problems you're going to face, that after World War I the War Department made contingency plans for a new war with Great Britain code-named War Plan Red, because that's where they felt significant danger lay. (I've heard that the perception was greatest immediately after The Great War, but plans were still alive for invading and attacking Britain as late as the 1930s)

Comment flush requested in aisle 7 -- too many links.

Also, I seem to have picked up something on my shoe. Some kind of mint-smelling substance. Apologies if I tracked it in.

Awesome post!

I suggest that the fundamental mistake which the US made following the defeat of the Hussein government was the attempt to create a national government, rather than grow political institutions from the local level up.

To be sure, there would have been problems with a three-part or four-part division of Iraq (relating to the uneven distributin of oil resources), but those pale in comparison with the problems created by the winner-takes-all contest implicit in a national government.

I am not reasurred by the firing of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld or the by attention paid to one of history's greatest failures, Bush I's State Department Secretary James Baker, who fumbled the historic opportunity which President Reagan handed his successors, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and who mangled the aftermath of the first Gulf War.

#151 from Daniel Markham: "Yikes David! Me! The thoughtless meme-spreader. (grin)"

(grinning) I was just speaking loosely, for easy communication in a blog comment.

I don't really believe in memes. Too often, the concept is just a way of contrasting the things I believe for good reasons with the irrational thoughts you have because your brain is infected with a meme. It's a rhetorical device, and not a good one. I did not mean it that way. I meant it only the way we mean when we chat about ideas, catch phrases and so on percolating away on the Internet, like with "all your bases are belong to us."

-

Daniel Markham: "I believe when you say "it has no foundation" you mean that it is nonsense, in the technical sense -- that is, the words have no definite meaning. I'm only guessing, however, as I am unclear exactly the nature of your distress."

I tried to say what I meant, that is, that when you look at the warrants for these statements, it's misquote, a line from an old cartoon, and a word hallowed by constant use in academia, and lately by tactical use in American law, but with no real theoretical, well, foundations. I did not mean to say that these are not comprehensible English sentences. They are. But that is all they are.

-

#151 from Daniel Markham: "Surely you are not buying that old canard that countries are just giant versions of human beings, eg, The Body Politic?"

No. The analogy soon breaks down. Which people would be the fingernails and which the hair of the Body Politic?

-

#151 from Daniel Markham: "So while I believe I understand your troubles as some version of misunderstanding utilitarianism -- that is, if we only measure "the greater good" in petty terms it's stupendously bad."

I am familiar with pushpin and poetry, and qualitatively superior pleasures.

-

#151 from Daniel Markham: "Let's just apply a practical thought experiment, shall we? Looking back in history, all sorts of different cultures have successfully interacted and protected each other to some degree when their interests suited. Native Americans and Pilgrims, Spanish sailors and South Pacific Islanders, heck even Islamic Caliphates and Crusaders made deals, continued trade, fought common enemies, and found ways to co-exist. Now you can argue that none of these were "true" allies, but I think the burden is on you, not me, to explain what you mean in better terms than simple exasperation. I'll remind you, as an example of the problems you're going to face, that after World War I the War Department made contingency plans for a new war with Great Britain code-named War Plan Red, because that's where they felt significant danger lay. (I've heard that the perception was greatest immediately after The Great War, but plans were still alive for invading and attacking Britain as late as the 1930s)"

People make diverse alliances and enmities without strict rules but also not randomly. Culture matters, and so do geographic and other arguments that remain stable.

This not strictly determined but non-random bit is important and relatively stable, and it is a good basis for statecraft.

You can see the same people getting on well or badly (like the Greeks and Jews of the Ancient World) for long periods of time) and lining up with or against each other over and over, and this matters immensely and ought to be persuasive to statesmen.

The British interest in not seeing the continent fall under the hegemony of any one power was served by shifting alliances with whoever resisted the most likely dominant power at the time. In that context, it made great sense to say (loosely) we have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. But a good, pithy description of one nation's policy in one context is not a universal law.

To suppose that nations in general should forget who their true friends and enemies are and treat each other all indifferently and with expedient ephemeral alliances, as the British treated the states they were playing off against each other, would be, in my opinion, an immense folly.

A debate on this would take us far from the purpose of this thread. I just want not to be misunderstood. I do not think the United States of America and Iraq are natural allies in the way that, say, America and Canada are. And I do not regard Saudi Arabia as an ally at all, regardless of formalities. Whether I'm right or not, that's what I'm saying, on grounds of culture and geography.

You, um, do realize this is pretty much a non-sequitur response to what I said, right?

No, I don't.

Actually, the nonsense argument was that you weren't pushing an ad hominem earlier... which is something you seem prepared to keep pursuing. First it wasn't because you weren't addressing me, now it's because this isn't a "debate"... I'm really interested to see how many spurious ways you can justify yourself.

There's only 1 way...the way I've done it to this point. It was a comment to hypocrisy. If it was in response to you specifically then it could be ad hominem. But it wasn't. Really, you have to be willful to not get that point.

Ah, here's the purest distillation of the "point" you think you're making we've yet seen. So let's break this down:

Try not to speak for "we" if you please. Figure things out for yourself then you can recruit a peanut gallery.

- I never said AL had to "repent"; I simply questioned his current credibility based on how most of his past arguments - arguments he's made in a sustained fashion for years, going against the people whose side he's nominally on - had been proven incorrect. This is hardly an irrational argument to make.

No, you've just judged him to be lacking in credibility based on what exactly? Acclamation of voters that he is wrong. The same flimsy logic underlying my question to you. I recognize it for what it is but have to resort to it because that is the ground you've chosen. So, anti- people have acclaimed Shinseki to be right or credible about troop strength ignoring his track record on Crusader. That is why it's a matter of consistency. You hold one person you disagree with to a different standard than you hold one with whom you agree. Illogical partisan hackery. It's a common ailment these days so you should blend into the crowd.

- An analogy between Shinseki and AL is meaningless because, as you point out, Shinseki is figuratively dead, and AL is still posting. Furthermore, the analogy would only work if you assumed that I hated the Crusader (it seemed pretty run-of-the-mill to me, military boondoggle-wise) worshipped Shinseki's "truthiness" about the troops (actually, at the time I was more worried about Saddam setting the oil fields on fire) and thought that the Crusader would have endangered a whole bunch of liberal pet peeves, such as armor for the troops. (Which is A: nonsense, as I've argued above, and B: further ridiculous, since the question was never about affording the armor so much as it was Rumsfeld's failure to increase production of those items in a timely manner.)

You want to expand the analogy because you think it becomes meaningless. The analogy gets to be drawn by me since I'm the one who made it. Let me be explicit since you've failed(as expected) to address the point:

1) You claim AL was wrong, hence, not credible now
2) Shinseki was horribly wrong on Crusader

Yet somehow:

3) You've held Shinseki right/credible on the troop-level statement

You see? It does not require appropriations or budget analysis. All that's required is inconsistency. On your part if you are still fuzzy on things.

- That said, insofar as you're asking (in a highly obnoxious manner) why his support for the Crusader shouldn't have discredited his arguments about troop levels, the answer is that Shinseki's credibility (or lack thereof) was based on more than just the Crusader system - he did pursue it with great enthusiasm, but becoming a 4-star general and Army Chief of Staff means he has a lot more on his resume than just endorsing a military boondoggle. In contrast, AL, especially here at Winds of Change, has been defined almost entirely by two things: the need for Democratic "reform", as defined by him, and his support for the Iraq war. History has arguably proven him wrong on both counts, as the recent elections and the title of this very thread suggest. AL's credibility is therefore way more shaky than Shinseki's was at the point he made his remarks about several hundred thousand troops.

"Great enthusiam" That's an overly kind way of saying borderline insubordination if I've seen one. He did more than endorse the boondoggle. He worked on it for a decade. I've defined AL based on the AT&T outburst. For once, atleast, a definition is subjective. But I understand your devotion to the cause now. "Arguably proven him wrong" You are funny, Chris. But you're atleast becoming less absolutist. Progress I guess.

This is, of course, the third time I've addressed this question. I doubt you'll find this any more of an answer than my previous comments, but it's fun to watch you repeatedly insist that I'm not addressing your arguments, even as they pile up in front of you.

I'm guessing here again your perspective is different than mine.

Why wasn't the Crusader kept? I don't know for sure, but I can think of some possible reasons: because it pissed off Don Rumsfeld to be buying huge unwieldy tanks when the military was supposed to be becoming "nimble and responsive", because cutting it at least gave Bush the appearance that he was dealing with the deficit, or maybe because it really was a bad, overpriced, overdesigned system. (Sometimes the system works!) "We have to kill this so we can afford armor" doesn't make sense - it was never an either/or decision. Speaking of which...

Woooahhh. Did you just call the program Shinseki devoted a decade of his to "bad, overpriced, overdesigned"? Maybe he was even less worthy of your credulity in 2003 than even I had suspected. Funny stuff, Chris.

Well, you can deploy them any way you like. But you're still not answering my question of why there's this zero-sum tradeoff between the Crusader and armor. If money was no object - and it wasn't really - we could have built one or the other, or both, or neither. You're trying to use this to prove the irrationality of political viewpoints I haven't even argued here, not because you believe it but because you think you're smarter than me... and you're just proving the opposite.

I already explained that. There is a bare minimum required to field personnel. Beyond that is discretionary. You can say "we could have done Crusader AND armor" all day but it's meaningless. Shinseki wasn't meeting with Republicans-who-wanted-pork for the Crusader AND armor. I'd mortgage the house for that smartness bet but so far all I'm arguing is that you aren't consistent. I don't need to argue relative to anything of mine.

Um, you do realize that proves my point, frontinus? GWB effectively gave money away, but military operations weren't significantly curtailed. Had the Crusader gone forward, that would have basically been a similar give-away to General Dynamics... but again, there's no reason to think that military operations would have changed much. We'd have just borrowed more from the Chinese.

Actually, it proves mine. You said adjustments would be made if Crusader was kept. I pointed out a much, much more expensive project for which no adjustments were made. If you want me to believe your adjustments would have been made then you've got some 'splainin' to do.

Frontinus, the only tears I'm crying are tears of laughter from your wonderful "logic".

You know...I'd disbelieve that if you hadn't shown repeatedly you have such a shakey grasp of what 'logic' actually means.

Hrm. Well let's look at "the rest of my little spiel" and see how well I can support it with those pesky things called facts:

Yes, let's.

Your comment #73, 'nuff said.
#73 from frontinus at 12:20 am on Nov 11, 2006 You have a lack of insight, hypocrisy.

Not ad hominem. 'Nuff said.

Your comments trying to explain away your ad hominem at #87, #123 and #138, among others.

And they were all correct.

...you accuse me of manufacturing "counterfactual histories" without providing any evidence to the contrary...

In order to believe Shinseki was right you have to rely on counterfactual hisory. Generally they follow the script of "If had happened, then ." If we'd have listened to Shinseki then things would be better. Abstraction. Counterfactual. Check to both.

Your comment #34, where you said "Saying Shinseki was right is counterfactual." without any corroborating evidence.

See above. Sad that even such an obvious comment would need to tediously explained.

...and you happily admit you're ignoring my arguments and you're just trying to goad me.

I said I was ignoring you? Never. Why would I ignore you while goading you?

Your comment #34, where you said "No. But it makes you look like an ignoramus. What can I say...I content myself with the little things in life." Myself, I content myself with tirelessly pointing out holes in your bs. Until next time, frontinus!

If only you'd have persued your studies with comparable dilligence.....

Now again, point out why AL being 'wrong' merits treatment different than that received by Shinseki. We can do the less pressing matters at a later time.

Peppermintpaddy: If you ever bother to come back, I suggest you try reading the Winds of Change comment guidelines.

Otherwise, I hope you weren't injured by the door hitting you on your way out.

Hey nortius maximus,see u got the old "roman "name sthtick,who was he the court jester? Im like p***ing myself here ,with your urbane wit.You anothe r of those armchair generals who are really brave from thousands of miles away?Why dont you do the world a favor and enlist?Best of luck

Peppermintpaddy,

We've got standards for discussion here on Winds, and you're dragging them down. For a guy typing from Britain, you'll want to clean up your posts so they use the language recognizably. Things like paragraphs, having a clear argument, organizing it, etc. You appear to have the capacity to do so, but you also seem to be showing a lot of sloppiness and classic troll behaviours.

We're happy to debate with people who don't agree with us here, but it has to be an an intelligent debate among adults. We're asking you, nicely, to start conforming to that standard.

If you'd rather not, then please let us know ASAP.

I won't miss peppermint if you ban him; I can look for comrades elsewhere.

For Peppermintpaddy's edification, here's what "troll" means in Internet-speak... .

Much fun as it would be to engage in little ripostes indefinitely, it's probably best if we just get to the core issues here:

There's only 1 way...the way I've done it to this point. It was a comment to hypocrisy. If it was in response to you specifically then it could be ad hominem. But it wasn't. Really, you have to be willful to not get that point.

The point is nonsense. An ad hominem attack can be made indirectly - AL was, earlier in this thread, accusing me of just that, even though my post was far more directed at the general audience than it was at him particularly. (Although, of course, my post wasn't insulting him, just questioning his credibility based on his earlier arguments.) Likewise, if I told you that "George Bush is an idiot," that would likewise be an ad hominem dismissal of the man, even though I'm not addressing him directly or "debating" him.

No, you've just judged him to be lacking in credibility based on what exactly? Acclamation of voters that he is wrong.

Yes, because AL's claimed insight into the minds of the voters is exactly what was in question. This really has nothing to do with whether the voters were right in the recent elections (though they were) - AL claimed that the Democrats would not win without following his advice. He has been proven wrong. Simple as that.

Let me be explicit since you've failed(as expected) to address the point: 1) You claim AL was wrong, hence, not credible now 2) Shinseki was horribly wrong on Crusader Yet somehow: 3) You've held Shinseki right/credible on the troop-level statement

You see? It does not require appropriations or budget analysis. All that's required is inconsistency. On your part if you are still fuzzy on things.

Let me be equally explicit:

1) I claim AL was wrong on both of the major points that he himself has identified as his major themes here at WoC.

2) Shinseki backed a boondoggle. That does not fully define the man. As a modern-day analogy, there are many credible military people who've been pushing for a missile defense shield for far longer than the Crusader was on the table. Such a shield is an even bigger boondoggle than the Crusader, and makes even less sense, since most people agree that the current big threat from nukes is having them smuggled in by terrorists, leaving us without a target to hit back, while an ICBM launch is a big arrow back to the point of origin.

3) However, just because those people are wrong on the missile defense shield doesn't mean they're not credible on other military matters. Unlike AL, they have not entirely defined themselves on issues that have been proven wrong. There is a substantive difference there, even if you'll never admit it.

You said adjustments would be made if Crusader was kept. I pointed out a much, much more expensive project for which no adjustments were made. If you want me to believe your adjustments would have been made then you've got some 'splainin' to do.

I said adjustments would be made to keep armor supplies at existing levels if the Crusader was kept. You can play semantic games all you like, but the point still stands - from the beginning, you've been making the point that the Crusader would have meant less armor for the troops. You then short-circuited your own argument by noting that it didn't matter how much money Bush gave away - other spending remained more or less untouched. I'm sure all this seems perfectly logical in your head, frontinus, but believe me, it's pretty laughable from the outside.

In order to believe Shinseki was right you have to rely on counterfactual hisory. Generally they follow the script of "If had happened, then ." If we'd have listened to Shinseki then things would be better. Abstraction. Counterfactual. Check to both.

Shinseki has unquestionably been proven right that the number of troops we went into Iraq with was far too few. He may not have been proven right that 400K+ troops would have made everything sweetness and light, but people on both the left and the right have since agreed with that line of thought... and even if he wasn't right about that, he was still right about ~150k troops being far too few, which puts him ahead of Bush and company. None of that is abstraction or counterfactual, regardless of how important it makes you feel to throw those words around.

As always, waiting to see how you'll dig yourself in deeper, frontinus...

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