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VICTORY PAC

| 113 Comments

Q: "What would you like to say to those who want American troops to leave Iraq tomorrow?"

A:

"I can only imagine the tragic consequences that would follow...and the blood... and the price we'd have to pay....a disaster..."

Let's do something about it.

I'm a liberal Democrat (pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-progressive taxation, pro-equal rights, pro-environmental regulation, pro-public schools) who supported and supports the war in Iraq. As I tell my liberal friends "Did I miss the part where it was progressive not to fight medieval religious fascists?"

I've been waiting for four years for the White House to start really explaining the war to the American people, and to do anything sensible at all to maintain the political capital necessary to keep America in the fight - to keep us from withdrawing because the war is too messy, or too long, or just plain makes us feel bad.

During that time I was blogging about the war and issues around it here, felt I was doing my part, and hoped that the leadership of the country would wake up and realize that public support for hard things - like wars - must be earned and maintained.

I've given up, and decided that it's up to each of us to start doing more. To that end, I've decided to start a PAC that will offer support to Congressional candidates of either party who support a foreign policy that doesn't involve wishing problems away. Not necessarily support for the invasion of Iraq, or blind allegiance to White House policies - but some plan that's better than taking our ball and going home and leaving the country and region to become a bloodbath that will assuredly spread to our shores. All I ask is that they have some clue as to what we should do about violent radicalism in the Islamic world other than surrender, withdraw, and hope for the best.

Here in California, defeated Gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides (who I used to work for, by the way...) has decided to raise $10,000 to "send President Bush a message" - among other things he's threatened to use the funds to run ads in districts of anti-withdrawal Members of Congress.

(see here)

I plan to try and raise $30,000 over the next week - it will have to be pledges right now, since I don't have a PAC yet - $10,000 for third-party legal and accounting for the next year (to set the PAC up and do the accounting necessary to make sure that we're in compliance with election laws), and $20,000 to counter Angelides' ads. If we can succeed at that, we'll take it a step further and see if we can raise enough money to rattle some cages in this election cycle.

What we'll be doing is - among other things - running short videos like the one above that I'll be getting from friends in Iraq - I've asked them to simply film a message they would send in responses to Americans who want to withdraw right now.

Next up will be videos from former troops (if you know any, send their contact info my way), military families, and experts on the Middle East.

Once we get over this hurdle, I intend to build a web community of support that candidates we support can use for fundraising, finding volunteers, and reaching out to surrogates - like veterans, military families, and experts on the Middle East.

Go to www.victorypac.org and help out.

Thanks in advance for helping...

Marc "Armed Liberal" Danziger

113 Comments

Marc:

All of that is fine and well but how do you change the failed policies of the current administration? It is a crime against the American people that Osama hasn't been caught and it is fairly clear that until Bush is gone, there will be no rational plan to deal with the threats that face us. While it is possible that the Islamofascists will come streaming toward our shores if we leave Iraq, it is possible that they might not. At least, not in great numbers. If we do stay in Iraq, there needs to be a better sense of what we are doing there and how long we are going to be doing it. The days of the open-ended commitment are coming to a close. If Iraqis want a stable, peaceful country, they need to step up and join the fight. In a meaningful, substantive way.

There are things that need to be done here: Our chemical and nuclear plants need to have their security greatly improved (did you read Art Levine in last month's Washington Monthly?), our airport/airline security needs a major overhaul (has anyone thought of asking the security folks at El Al if they were interested in doing some consulting work?) and we need to lessen our ties to the Middle East by decreasing our dependence on the only commodity they have that we need--oil. And we need to appeal to and empower moderate Muslims to clean up their own house because if we have to do it for them, it will be much messier than if they do it on their own. We also need to demand that our so-called allies in the Muslim world actually act like they are our allies.

And don't you think that as a nation, we need to talk about how we are going to pay for the things we need to do? Other than continuing to borrow the money from China, that is...

Bravo to Armed Liberal!

And wasn't that a whole bunch of "it's not really our responsibility we can't do anything" from Dr. Dave.

"Not necessarily support for the invasion of Iraq, or blind allegiance to White House policies - but some plan that's better than taking our ball and going home and leaving the country and region to become a bloodbath that will assuredly spread to our shores."

There seems to be a whole lot of excuse making going on, that no one has to do anything until after the White House is defeated. No alternate (or parallel) plan or plans need be promoted or implemented.

And screw the Iraqis.

The problem is that Iraq matters, it matters as an attempt to do something about root causes. Half of all brain-power that could be figuring out how to actively address those root causes and how to problem-solve in Iraq has been deliberately sitting it out and doing nothing because they don't like what is being done.

Progressives (and certainly "liberals") shouldn't have a problem understanding that tyranny and oppression and medieval religious fascists do not make up a cutely different culture that ought not be criticized. It breeds anger and frustration and destroys the economic development that might lead to higher standards of living and freedom and equality. It's not that the West has done something and deserves to be attacked, it's that the oppressive regimes need scape-goats to focus the rage outward.

Social justice, equality, and respect for human rights ought to be a place where liberals and progressives can shine.

Unfortunately, multiculturalism killed liberalism.

I wish you the very best of luck. I'm an optimist at heart and I think you can do it.

"I'm an optimist at heart......."

So, Mr. Optimist, how many more years? How many more $ billions, How many more US lives? Are you willing to invest?

And, if there has been no progress after another $trillion, another 20,000 maimed and another 3,500 killed, would you still be an optimist?

If Shiites continue to murder sunnis and sunnis shiites at a rate far exceeding the worst gangland violence in our own country, would you, at some point, conceed that the "plan" is a failure?

Only a degenerate gambler continues to double down until the house and kids' college fund is gone. Rational people may take calculated risks, but they they have a stop loss point predetermined.

Where is your stop loss point? You have thought about this, haven't you?

Marc -- I wish you the best of luck, since your positions probably align with mine (member of Sierra Club, support Abortion rights, gay marriage). But ...

I think DrDave pretty much encapsulates Dem thinking, that of the media, and liberals everywhere. Who have been searching for someone, somewhere, to surrender to.

It might as well be Islam. Ahamdinejad. Osama.

Maddy Albright, the appeaser who let Lil Kim get his nukes, advocates pulling our navy out of the Gulf and appeasing Iran after they've capture British sailors. She's accused GWB of wanting a Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Dems can't even take their own side in a fight. Look at DrDave. Since neither GWB nor America is perfect, he'd prefer to surrender to Iran and Osama.

Reality Check DrDave: Osama in in Pakistan and likely was the first hint of danger. Short of a nuclear war with Pakistan nothing will get him out. Biden offered his supporters the possibility of provoking war with Pakistan to get Osama and they all said no. Given that Pakistan is falling into Al Qaeda control this lack of any plan is pathetic. But then Sen. Levin is more concerned with the Architect of the 1993 WTC bombing and 9/11 (KSM) and his human rights than anything else. Levin wants (no kidding) hearings on KSM's "torture" by the CIA as a prelude to trials no doubt.

Dems are not serious about anything other than surrender. They WANT to surrender. Like Ephialtes in the movie 300, they crave a spiffy uniform and are perfectly happy to kneel. It really doesn't matter to whom they are kneeling.

Even DrDave's rational suggestions will never be done because it would entail profiling: keeping Muslims from driving buses or otherwise involved in schools to avoid another Beslan, wiretaps, summary detentions, a microphone and spies in every mosque, profiling and restrictions on Muslims flying, and no toleration whatsoever for Muslim hate speech, agitation, or even overt displays of religion like veils and burquas. Dem's can't even back the bill to prevent Muslims from intimidating the John Does who reported the Flying Imam's terrorist dry run.

DrDave proposes to secure "things" by searching elderly white women and Congressional Medal of Honor Winners or Vice President Al Gore. Instead of Muslims. He proposes to do this because he's unwilling to face the reality of the war of the peoples: the surrender minded multicultural PC appeasement West vs. the Islamic World with it's suicide bombers, women in burquas and stone cold killers. He can't even name the enemy which is Islam.

This war will go on. Iran will get nukes and to the joy of most Dems nuke Israel out of existence. Except instead of stopping there, Iran will go on to threaten and demand US surrender to Islam. Impose sharia. We may or may not refuse (depending if a Dem is in the White House). And so we will lose many cities. And be required to kill even more in response.

The Democratic Party is sick, rotten to the core. They have taken money (Albright, both Clintons, Berger, and Jimmy Carter) from terrorist funders in the Gulf. They have praised Iran which hangs gays and denies and promises the Holocaust at the same time as the world's most perfect democracy (Clinton). They can't even stand up for the United States like your boss Angelides (who got my vote btw against Arnold) against IRAN.

In order for the US and Western Civilization to survive, the Dem Party of people who burn then literally poop on the flag has to die. Cease to exist. Be ridiculed and attacked at every turn.

With all due respect Marc you are looking for something that is not there. Other than Joe Lieberman there exists not a single Democrat who puts country over appeasement and peace at all costs.

avedis - as long as it's higher than the other guy's you usually win.

A.L.

Avedis --

Consider Saddam and Iran both with nukes. Competing to see who could kill the most Americans. Immune from any threat behind their nuclear shield. Giving Osama or Hezbollah or Abu Nidal or Abdul Rahman Yassin (the only remaining 1993 WTC bomber still at large and Saddam's pet in Baghdad) a spare denialable nuke.

The current situation would look like Paradise to that.

Removing Saddam was worth it. Because Iraq doesn't have nukes. And as long as we stay there they won't. Simple as that.

What's YOUR stop-loss point? Retreat and encourage Iranian aggression? Surrender Iraq to Ahmadinejad and Osama? Lose a few US cities to nukes to preen on moral purity and vanity.

Which is useless in any case because once an American city is nuked the US MUST stage reprisals that kill nations to achieve deterrence.

I now understand the 1930's. How peacenik appeasers appealed to moral vanity and the non-existent "soft power" to appease Hitler and Mussolini and Stalin and Tojo.

A.L.....Like the US in Vietnam? Or the Russians in Afghanistan? Or the French in In Vietnam or Algeria?

You are not comprehending the nature or logistics of third gen. warfare.

"Where is your stop loss point? You have thought about this, haven't you?"

Yes.

Losing isn't an option.

But on your litany of "how long" have you ever thought about what a reasonable expectation would be?

I hear a lot of "it was supposed to be easy" and "Bush didn't plan for an insurgency" but I hear very little about what a reasonable plan would be to take a country that is accustomed to being ruled by fear and tyranny and establish a stable government and an expectation of democracy among the people.

How long, if you had to plan something like that?

If we look at History, how long to accomplish a new government that is functional and self-perpetuating? How long? How much money?

Iraq has a History, I've been reminded today, of trying to pull itself up and into the future only to have their bright new liberal minded leader murdered. It doesn't take a whole lot to derail the hope of people. All it takes is a few thugs who are willing to be utterly ruthless to thwart the will of the whole nation.

With full knowledge and power as King of the World so you could do what you wanted... how long is reasonable? If you were in charge of it, how long is reasonable?

A heck of a lot longer than 5 years. And 3,000 deaths? A single death is a tragedy that approaches the infinite. 3,000 deaths in a war is mindbogglingly cheap. We lost more than that in single battles in previous wars. If a goal is not worthy, ONE life is too much. If a goal is worth one life, it's worth more. Not carelessly spent, but for the hope that Iraq will finally get its chance to be what it wants to be without another tyrant killing his way to power and murdering his way to keep that power.

By giving that up we devalue those 3,000 plus lives. They become worth nothing because their sacrifice is made to be worth nothing. An officer in Iraq said that every day he feels as if he's pushed a small girl from in front of a bus. Callow young men who don't see the point of it get over there and realize that Iraqi people are real people, just like at home.

What is an entire nation worth to you? How much money and how many lives is an entire nation worth to you?

On the humanitarian level it's worth doing. But we even get a political bonus. Victory for those people means a nation in the midst of many who say that democracy is not possible, that dictatorship or tyranny is the only thing these people are capable of, and it will prove them wrong.

There are a lot of people here who agree with those who would condemn Iraq and all her neighbors to nothing but tyranny.

And somehow they see that as a virtue.

I would like to see Avedis say anything negative about the threat of Islamic Radicalism to his own life...

I almost think nature programs some organisms to actively weed themselves out of the gene pool. They act as vehicles for the disposal of genetic waste matter, and sicne humans no longer have natural predators, nature has programmed them to self-destruct instead.

It fits nicely into Darwinism. Call it natural self-selection.

Sounds like a great idea. Iím heading off to the Smokyís to hide from the world. Iíll be interested in learning more when I get back. Donít let Ďem bring you down.

avedis,

Don't be a clown--this is a life or death matter, and wishing it weren't so will not change that. As far as my "stop loss point"? Try The Three Conjectures. That's what we're trying to avoid, and no matter how futile you think it is, it's still worth trying.

"I would like to see Avedis say anything negative about the threat of Islamic Radicalism to his own life..."

Fact is that I'm much more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than by an Islamic terrorist; more likely to be killed by lightning for matter. Same goes for you.

As far as your hysteria about Saddam - or any other Islamic nation - acquiring nukes, sorry, but the cat's already out of the bag and you can't put it back in. Pakistan has nules, Iran will have then soon enough. Though there is no evidence that Saddam was even decades away from a nuclear weapon that could even hit Israel, let alone the US. Ditto just about anyone else excluding China and Russia and - perhaps to a minimal extent - NoKo.

Russia had nukes for years while we were supposed to be implacable "mortal enemies". Yet, we managed to survive without fatal incident. Not the best scenario, but one that is reality and one that will have to be accepted sooner or later. Get over your bed wetting and learn that new approaches to the conflict of interests between us and middle eastern countries that currently exist will have to be worked out in other than miltaristic means. Not all islam is the enemy. Only a small . By re-arranging our relationship with the majority that can be allied, we can defeat the small that is hopelessly radical.

Beyond that....nothing is 100% for sure in life.

And no one likes being invaded and having foreign rule imposed on them (even if it's the white man's burden and it's for the natives own good). Even if the natives were somewhat sympathetic to your obstensible objective in the beginning, after being invaded they tend to turn strongly nationalistic against you; especially after you've overstayed your welcome.

Again, I ask, how much are you willing to invest in terms of blood, treasure and military resources in Iraq? The well is not bottomless after all. There are opportunity costs. You realize this don't you? Money and military personnel don't grow on trees, right?

So you guys all support raising taxes and imposing a draft to reiforce the effort to stave off you turban wearing boogey men, right?

OK, avedis, can you tell us:

1. how small a percentage of Muslims are the problem, and

2. (more importantly) how you determined this figure?

avedis:
Fact is that I'm much more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than by an Islamic terrorist; more likely to be killed by lightning for matter. Same goes for you.

Let me try to explain your error to you. Modern terrorism has had a profound effect on international politics for more than a century - unlike alcoholism, which has killed far more people than terrorism.

The terrorist murder of Alexander II in 1881 changed the course of European history - unlike carriage accidents, which killed far more people in St. Petersburg that year.

Your fallacious logic can make no sense of these evident facts, and serves only to display your callous alienation. I doubt if you would argue that the lynching of blacks by the KKK in the 20s was an insignificant phenomenon, given the number of people who got killed by tornadoes. But then, for all I know you might.

Jim Rockford:

I do not propose "securing things by searching white grandmothers and Medal of Honor winners". 5 1/2 years past 9/11 and our airport security is still a joke. Take a trip to Israel and see how they do it on El Al. No El Al flight that has left Ben Gurion Airport has ever failed to reach its destination unharmed. El Al has the sharpest security screeners in the world. They interview EVERY passenger before they are even allowed to have their luggage screened. And they pull people out for in-depth interviews when they want more info. Then they screen every piece of luggage. In short, they do it right. Their flight deck is behind a secure bulkhead, their flight crews are all military reservists and their flight crews are armed. The 9/11 hijackers would have been dead jihadists at 30,000 feet had they tried to pull box cutters on an El Al flight.

Second, I am all for finishing Iraq if there is a plan to finish it. Putting David Petraeus--maybe the best mind in the US Military on counterinsurgency--was a great move but happened 3 years too late with 150,000 too few troops. (On this McCain and Lieberman have been 100% correct.) So I don't have a lot of confidence that he can fix what is now broken with the tools at his disposal. As such, it seems that an open ended commitment is both unrealistic and foolish. It is a fact that if great progress is not made between now and Election Day 2008, the withdrawal of troops will begin on January 20, 2009 because the voters will elect whomever promises to get us out faster.

Third, our effort to get Osama in 2002 was the first clue. We should have sent >100K troops into Afghanistan and not left until Osama's head was on a stake. Instead, he is still free to produce audio and video messages mocking us. But you are right about Pakistan. With friends like Musharraf....However, if his government falls, the one that replaces it is not likely to be more cooperative than what we now have to deal with.

Dr. Dave:

El Al has the sharpest security screeners in the world. They interview EVERY passenger before they are even allowed to have their luggage screened.

It is not possible for US airlines to have the level of security that El Al has. It is flatly not possible. It takes hours to board an El Al flight, and American air travel is too large and too economically important to handle the slow-down. Passengers will not tolerate it and the airlines could not survive it. So we have a compromise instead.

If you don't believe me, ask the Clinton administration. "Let's make our airlines as safe as El Al" was their Brain-Fart of the Week #679, and it yielded to reality even faster than most of their ideas did.

Yes, as long as it takes.

As far as the statistics of being killed by an Islamists, I consider that the odds go up in favor of an attack when we leave.

Which makes Aevidis' "statist" position unacceptable.

As far as I am aware, I do not know of any drunk drivers crashing and killing 3000 or more people. So, while the instances of attacks may be statistically less than being hit by a drunk driver, the catastrophic affect is quite higher. I consider, without hysteria, the catastrophic effects of the last attack and how much worse it would have been had it been more successful (ie, last plane or more planes hitting government buildings and other populated cities).

They do not have to attack us 100 times, but once, in the right way and the right time. That's not rhetoric, that is the truth, however one wishes to deny it.

Of course, maybe Aevidis thinks a drunk driver is going to crash some air planes into extremely populated areas? Or, blow his truck up in the underground of a high rise?

You see why moral equivolancy doesn't work? You are comparing apples and oranges.

I can't believe I actually have to explain this to anyone.

Well, I should have read Glen Wishard, he explains it quite well, too.

What silly nonsense and pretzel twisting to make a position of retreat and defeat "acceptable".

"Get over your bed wetting and learn that new approaches to the conflict of interests between us and middle eastern countries that currently exist will have to be worked out in other than miltaristic means. Not all islam is the enemy."

I don't disagree with that statement in any way that matters.

So what's the issue of contention? Basically that the demand to find new approaches to dealing with the conflict is accompanied by an absolute refusal to propose any sort of a plan whatsoever or do anything whatsoever to promote success.

What plan?

There is none. Marc brought this up and I laud him for it. There is no plan other than taking our ball and going home.

Statements about something other than a military solution (and I know no serious proponent of using the military who thinks that the military is sufficient in itself) are invariably paired with the bizarre notion that it has to be one or the other. This lets everyone off the hook for anything other than undermining and destroying what gains the military has made because, it seems, they can't do the "right" thing or even bother to come up with a plan of any sort until they get the military out of the way.

And what of the inevitable human disaster that follows? Well, that's not an issue anyone seems to care about and there is no plan of any sort to deal with that either. Is there.

No, not all Islam is the enemy. Quite a lot of it are our allies. See, this lie, this idea that all Islam is the enemy, is disproven by the fact that we're trying to build Iraq, not destroy it.

From the looks of things the only people who seem to care or who are trying to do anything to help anyone else lives in Islamic countries are the militaristic sorts. Others could, but they don't.

I think all the lofty talk amounts to nothing but excuses.

Avedis --

Saddam could have bought lots of nukes from Albright's pal North Korea or Pakistan (AQ Khan). Imagine how much he would have pulled with nukes. He'd have been invincible. We'd have 9/11's all the time until we simply nuked out of existence all 1 billion Muslims in a fury. Is that REALLY what you want cause Dem appeasement is almost deliberately designed to get there.

I find your attitude towards enemies of the US instructive. See AL? This is the Dem Party. They can't even take the side of the US against Saddam or Iran.

Avedis like ALL of the Democratic Party is in deep denial. Still in the mental landscape of the Soviet Union-US rivalry. Unable to comprehend the danger of failed states with non-state actors.

His doubts about the danger of terrorism match Paul Pillar calling terrorism "overblown" or Larry Johnson writing in July 2001 "The Declining Terrorist Threat." When the nature and scope and pace of terrorism due to lack of Western response (massive retaliation) only encourages it. KSM and Ramzi Yusef and Abdul Rahman Yassin (Saddam's pet and agent in the 1993 WTC bombing) wanted to topple one tower into the other to kill 50,000 people. Osama has been open (as has Ahmadinejad) about wanting to kill millions of Americans and nuking cities. Doubtless Avedis and the Dems will consider this a mere triviality.

No Dem at ANY TIME and ANY PLACE is willing to spend money on the military. Use force to confront threats. PUT AMERICA FIRST OVER THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES AND PEOPLE. [The legacy of a deeply feminized, emotion-oriented culture.] Dems really are Rosie on the View spouting her tin-foil conspiracy theories.

The Democratic Party is like an abused woman reacting to foreign terrorists, bargaining "please don't hit us again." Denying that they were hit. Denying the mounting aggression the begging and pleading generates. Denying that the only way to stop the aggression is to smack down the aggressor HARD with overwhelming force.

AL -- Your Democratic Party is Nancy Pelosi, refusing to even consider a resolution supporting Britain in the release of it's sailors. Your Democratic Party is Nancy Pelosi going to Syria to give aid and comfort to Tehran's puppet, a major sponsor of terror against Americans and Israelis and the deliberate cold-blooded assassins of Lebanese politicians, press people, and cultural leaders advocating Lebanese independence. As Avedis so amply demonstrates, there is not an abusive anti-American thug they won't take sides with, and never an occasion Dems will stand with America.

DrDave: I agree that searching the people not the site is the best way to go. However Dems have made that impossible by LAW. It's called Profiling and it's forbidden by statute.

We could have put a million troops into Afghanistan (and have them starve to death due to logistical failure). It would not have made a dime's worth of difference as long as nuclear Pakistan was a sanctuary. Dems talk about Osama but grow closemouthed when asked to go get him in Pakistan because it means war. I'm all in favor of nuking the hell out Pakistan on general principles and for deterrence in the new nuclear proliferation world (where Avedis is right, that's not going to stop).

If nothing else nuking the hell out of Pakistan to get bin Laden and get rid of their nukes would send a powerful deterrent message: play footsie with guys like that and you get dead.

Like we see with Iran's new hostage game. Only overwhelming force works.

However I stand by my assertion: the Dem Party is the modern equivalent of the German-American Bund or Father Coughlin (who Rosie frequently resembles). A menace to America's security.

Father Coughlin (who Rosie frequently resembles).

No, Rosie is ABC's Howard Beale.

If ratings slump any further, though, they'll have to get Moveon.org to kill her.

You're doing this for all the right reasons, Armed Liberal, so I hope it turns out well for you personally.

"They do not have to attack us 100 times, but once, in the right way and the right time. That's not rhetoric, that is the truth, however one wishes to deny it....."

OK. I'll bite.....but you do realize that it was not Iraq that attacked us on 9/11. In fact, no Iraqis were involved. At any rate, how does overthrowing Saddam's govt and replacing it with a govt of and for Iran friendly shiites make us safer? I just don't get it. Maybe you can explain.

"Saddam could have bought lots of nukes from Albright's pal North Korea or Pakistan (AQ Khan). Imagine...."

Sure, but he didn't. Anybody at any point could buy nukes or do almost anything. Like I said, nothing is 100% for sure in life. If you go around shooting up everyone that simply - by some stretch of imagination - could do something offensive to you then we would have a severely depopulated world, but I suppose that has a certain appeal to a paranoid xenophobic bigot.

"See AL? This is the Dem Party"

No. I am not a Dem. I am an independent that used to vote mostly Republican.

"....What plan?....."

We don't have another plan because we have been enduring the presidency of a moron and his foolish imperialist neocon advisers for the past seven years. Previously, there had a been Oslo, etc (scuttled, BTW, by said neocons).

"Yes, as long as it takes...."

Wow. Talk about not having a plan. And what "victory" look like? At any cost? Again, I ask, where is draft to bring more human resources to our military which is breaking under the stain (the report of several recently retired high level generals) of multiple and prolonged deployments in the desert. Where is the tax increase to fund the hundreds of $billions per annum that "staying the course" costs us.

And what could that money have been spent on instead? What are we giving up? How does what we have given up hurt as a nation? Hurt our security?, etc, etc...

"Iraq will finally get its chance to be what it wants to be...."

What it wants to be? It should be abundently obvious to even the intellect of the typical reader of this blog that Iraq is not a unified homogenous entity. Rather it is divided along at least three major fault lines, Sunnis/Baathists, Shiites and Kurds. These groups appear completely at ease with the notion of killing each other and/or dividing the land into three separate countries. As it is, the Shiites - who are friends of another of your boogey men (Iran/Ahmadinejad) - do you really want friends of Iran running Iraq????? - are the majority and will sieze power by killing all of the Sunnis. This can happen today or it can happen tomorrow. The US presence is merely prolonging this event. If we are there 20 years, when we leave this happen.....

BTW, have you asked "Iraq" what it wants to be? How do you know what it wants to be? Or is your perception of what Iraq wants to be something that Ahmed Chalabi and his neocon pals spoon fed you?

Really. Where did any of you get the notion - any notion - of Iraq is, wants to be or will be? So trillions of dollars, countless lives, the compromised viability of the US military as a fighting force that can effectively respond to major crisis around the world.....all on a hunch that you have...a gut feeling...a hope....a prayer???????? about what "Iraq" wants to be?????????????

You people call this planning?

"As far as the statistics of being killed by an Islamists, I consider that the odds go up in favor of an attack when we leave."

Why? The guys who actually attacked us on 9/11 aren't in Iraq. They're in Afghanistan and Pakistan. So I don't see how our presence in Iraq is effecting their ability to attack us.

Also, even if US bound terrorists were in Iraq why would our presence there stop such people from carrying out an attack? Do you suppose that we have the borders so well sealed that a dozen or so terrorists could get out of the country to ply their mischief? Or do you suppose that they are so busy right now that they don't have the time? Seems like a silly logic to me. If they wanted to attack, they would. Events around the world since 9/11 - and since the invasion of Iraq, BTW -have proven their capabilty.

I sure like to have you explain in detail why our being in Iraq deters terrorism. I'd also like to have explain why it might not create more in the long run.

Finally this sentiment about the need to help the poor suffering Iraqis that one hears so much from your crowd would be more believable if you were echoing the same sentiment and demanding the same US committment for various suffering people in Africa, etc. So, I'm not buying into the idea that you people actually give a hoot about anyone else in the world; especially when, in the next breath, members of your club talk about nuking the middle east, killing all arabs, etc, etc (see rockford, et al).

And for Kat......your rational is erroneous.

Many here seem to think that 9/11 was some catastrphic history altering event. It was not all that (well maybe, but due to Bush's reaction of using the event as an excuse to invade Iraq).

Awful as 9/11 was, in scope and scale it was less that what Britain suffered in WW2. Economically, the damage was less than that caused by some recent natural disasters in this country. The economy has fully recovered. Buildings will be rebuilt. Life goes on.

Loss of life on 9/11 was less than what is caused by drunk drivers and, if the resources were dedicated to stopping drunk drivers as are dedicated to Iraq, no doubt many more American would would be saved. I am not at all clear as to why it worse when bad people kill 3,000 all at once or kill 25,000 a year in ones, twos and threes. I suppose the difference could be a. your emotional reaction (which should be irrelevant) b. media coverage (which makes the event more salient) c. the feeling that in the case of 9/11 some foreigners gave the US a black eye (which injurs your pride and makes you want to slap some foreigners back harder.....not the basis of sound policy).

I am not trying to minimalize 9/11, just to put the thing into perspective.

That being said, I was very pro-Afghanistan invasion and am disappointed that Bush elected to attempt that operation on the cheap, allowing Bin Laden to escape. But that is a cost you pay when you decide to divert you military resources to something else (i.e. Iraq).

The problem, Kat, with your way of thinking is that you sit around dreaming up absolute worst case scenarious and then decide that even if there is an iota of a chance of such a scenario occurring that we must act to prevent it.

The real world just doesn't work that way because in the real world there is a scarcity of resources. Therefore resources must be allocated to the most likely scenarios - in the case the greatest and most likely threats - and of those, to interventions that show the highest return on investment. This is where Bush has failed as well.

But hey....what about the likelyhood that an astroid will collide with earth and end all life as we know it? Shouldn't we be launching the "War Against Astroids"?

One problem with your "fund anyone that will fight the war on terror" is that the so-called "Blue Dog" dems who campaigned and won on this issue have already repududiated their campaign promises.

Avedis:

"Russia had nukes for years while we were supposed to be implacable "mortal enemies". Yet, we managed to survive without fatal incident."

It was very close. I was a Naval Academy Midshipman in October 1963 when the USSR tried to put nukes into Cuba.

Did you forget about the proxy wars - Korea & Vietnam? The insurgencies in Africa, South and Central America?

Having nuclear weapons gets you is a set of lines in the SIOP. Also, the russians were chess players. Ahmedinejad wants to see the 12th Imam - the end of the world.

Despite press reports to the contrary, we may be close to the point where the Iraqis can defend themselves. General Barry McCaffrey just returned. He believes the surge is working.
No country enjoys being invaded and occupied. Germany had a low level insurgency for years. Iraq is no exception.

Baathist Sunnis allied with Al Qaeda to oppose the new democratic government and start a civil war with the Shiites. While they succeeded for a time, the Sunni tribes in Western Iraq are having second thoughts. Most wealthy Sunnis have fled to Syria and Jordan. Al Sistani resisted these intentional provocations until they hit the Gold Dome. Shiite militia had infiltrated the Ministry of Interior - State Police - and set up death squads. Many of these have been broken up. Al Sadr and his Mahdi army are being marginalized. The very mention of the surge, sent him packing to Iran. His power base, the Ministry of Health, is being purged.

The recent plan to share oil revenues on a per capita basis has defused a lot of the distrust between Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiites.

In 2005, the Iraqis had about 100,000 trained & equipped security people. That number is now approaching 350,000. We will need to help them with mobility, aviation and logistics for sometime, but our direct combat role will diminish.

The Democrats do have a plan - To achieve political gains by undermining the Bush Administration the without regard of the adverse impact to the national security of the United States.

avedis,

keep fighting the good fight but the author of this site is just another little green football.

what kind of bull is it when someone calls themselves a liberal democrat who loves war? good grief! what the hell does party affiliation have to do with wanting to kill people? it seems the far right likes to think they are manly and strong because they have been successful at killing large groups of people. well far lefties are quite good at it too so they don't have a lock on that at all. probably really burns their ass to know that the lefties have been much more successful at doing it wrt Stalin and his purge.

as long as people blindly support the goals of big business, especially big oil in this case, we will have war. none of the poor bastards going to war to do the bleeding and dying will gain a damn thing from the war, the best they can hope for is coming back alive and all in one piece. of course some do it for the adrenalin rush but we won't talk about that, now or ever.

what a disgusting development this is. the rabid right are now trying to impersonate someone sane to advance their agenda.

good grief, wake up folks

Avedis,

Still waiting for your specific figures, and explanation of how they were derived. How long should we wait before assuming you don't actually have any but were just making it up as you went along?

It's significantly easier to raise morale among the mostly right-leaning types who supported the war originally than it is to undermine pro-withdrawal sentiment among mainstream Democrats. If the PAC is really serious about doing the latter then video statements from several of the Middle Eastern left-wingers mentioned in this article might be rather effective.

(Similarly, if you're serious about appealing to mainstream Democrats then for goodness' sake lose the Baghdad Bob humour, yes? It's as big a political shibboleth as Hillary jokes or Colbert fanboyism. It also says "stuck in 2003" to people who "know" that Americans were promised a cakewalk then. Yes, I know it's only a temporary page-holder, but start as you mean to continue.)

It's beyond my comprehension how people can say to that anything along the lines of "There will be so much bloodshed if they leave."

Marc, are you going to make a video of people responding to those answers? Here's mine:

There's already bloodshed there you inexcuseable nincompoop! A whole friggin' lot of it. Your argument makes as much sense as saying, "We can't leave this burning house - it might start on fire!"

Good god amighty, what is wrong with people.

Tragic consequences.
[padding added by A.L. to move url]
here

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government raised the death toll on Saturday from a truck bomb in the town of Tal Afar to 152, making it the deadliest single bombing of the four-year-old war.

Sorry. I'll try that link thing.
[padding added by A.L. to move long url off page]
Iraq. Today

Synova, I suspect the reason we can't get a straight answer to your question ("What's the plan?") here or anywhere else is a simple desire to sidestep or blank out the probable consequence:

The outcome of pulling out of Iraq and the Middle East now is a civil war that explodes into a wider Sunni vs. Shia and Arab vs. Persian conflict that envelops the whole region. Oil traded for arms used to oppress the people, arm death squads, settle old grudges and rearrange boundaries. A slaughter and exodus that would warm the heart of the most virulent Islam-hater, with SF swooping in to pound the rubble whenever the wogs look like posing a threat to us.

It's a plan of sorts. It's a calculus that's as just as cold and even more cruel than the Third Conjecture. As for being in any way related to the concepts of 'liberal' and 'progressive' that AL or others might recognize from the past? Don't make me puke.

My family is in for $100.00 and if we were rich you would have more. We appreciate your effort to not be blind to the long term threat this beautiful country is and will be under should we leave the front and only an idiot would not see Iraq as the front. Al Queda has said it is and they said in 1996 they were at war with us and lo and behold they were. Dhimmi's will never see this for what it is and only by efforts such as yours can we change those Dems and Repubs who would like to think they know better then the Military will we be in it to win it. I of course do not agree with your liberal ideas however on this issue we are of one mind. I am a conservative however I know that if we do not win in the Middle East all of the things I stand for and oppose you on will not mean a damn thing. I get questioned on voting for Guiliani as a candidate and I always say if the war is not won America will not be fighting for gay-marriage or social security we will be fighting for our very survival. I mean that in both a literal and financial sense.

Petitions to sign:

For military

For civilians
http://www.gopetition.com/online/11574.html

A campaign by active-duty troops asking Congress to drop plans for a withdrawal from Iraq. Lt. Jason Nichols, a 33-year-old naval projects officer who has been in Baghdad since mid-January, said the goal is to keep lawmakers focused on letting the military finish its mission in Iraq, and not prematurely declare failure
Video here, if you haven't seen this yet

I very much appreciate your effort however, I must point out that the world's most eloquent speaker who happans to also be a Liberal could not 'explain the war effectively to his people', that being Tony Blair.

It isn't because of GWB or Blair's lacking resolve(all anyone has to do is read the speeches, they are not difficult to understand) it's the a generation of citizens who have indulged in the narcissism of self-fulfillment that peckky things like reason and commonsense no longer exist to them.

When I left my liberally induced lifestyle directly after 9-11-2001 I knew then and there that this war was bigger than simply satisifying our own needs today.

To win this generational war, Liberalism needs to engage in serious self-reflect and perhaps admit that perhaps our modern day narcissism has played itself out.

And I don't think 'changing the lightbulbs to mercury-laden poison' is going to do it.

Can someone explain just what victory is? We've already lost. No one is talking about a secular, pro-American, anti-Iranian, pro-Israel [!] Iraq any more, and no one is pretending that remaining in Iraq indefinitely will re-create that neo-dupe fantasy. The call to stay, and stay, and stay in Iraq is to see if we can at least influence who will turn out to be the winners: a pro-Iranian Shiite government, a pro-Iranian anti-American al-Sadrist theocracy, a renewed Sunni dictatorship, Al Qaeda, all in some or another proportion. But the law of diminishing returns takes over: our presence is tolerated less and less amongst all the factions (I am excepting Kurdistan entirely), cognizable progress in infrastructure reconstruction is almost nil despite a ten-digit level of expenditure, the security "surge" is just a spiral of more violence in the old familiar places. And we also stay so as to save face for the Bush Clown Show and the war-followers who should have known better. But whether that contributes to American security, any more than insisting the Emperor had great new clothes ensured fairy-tale-land security,is dubious indeed.

As a short aside, domestic air travel in Israel has a level of security less than ours. It's international flights that are secured, and while I don't know if we could bring things up to the level of El Al, I don't see why we couldn't get to the level of other airlines' security at Ben Gurion Airport. The Israelis also have the very convenient system of day-before check in locations in all major cities, where you can check your bags, pass security, and then go straight to the metal detector queue on arrival at the airport. I still suspect we could learn something from them, and I wonder if some of the opposition comes from the use of IDF conscripts as screeners instead of privatized rip-off contracting.

#37 from Andrew J. Lazarus

You don't have to explain what victory or defeat is. You just have to repeat hysterical slogans whether you are a Democrat or republican. The back the slogans with hysterical and extreme scenarios. Then, of course, you don't have to think, you just have to call one another names. The saner people in the Republican party, of which I consider myself one, are now asking for something other than the directionless policy that we are following now. We have not been defeated, but the Neo Con idea of what should have been done in Iraq certainly has.

by Armed Liberal at March 30, 2007 10:34 PM

"I'm a liberal Democrat (pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-progressive taxation, pro-equal rights, pro-environmental regulation, pro-public schools) who supported and supports the war in Iraq. As I tell my liberal friends "Did I miss the part where it was progressive not to fight medieval religious fascists?"

Is this the new basis of our Foreign Policy? What sort of Fairyland are we entering?

Andrew:
No one is talking about a secular, pro-American, anti-Iranian, pro-Israel [!] Iraq any more ...

So you think the Iraqi government is anti-American - and pro-Iranian? Because all those Shi'ites are in it together, right?

The Iraqis know something you don't: that Iran has been arming both Sunni and Shi'ite, because the more Iraqis they kill the more they impress people like you.

We've already lost.

You sure have. And what a shame after all your heroic effort.

This is such a refreshing site! Everytime I hear Reid or Pelosi, et al, say "Americans want to get out of Iraq" without following it with "when the job is done", my blood just boils! Thank you so much for this post. Thank you, Michelle Malkin, for introducing me to you.

I hope that you will check out this site, and read the embedded links. Ignore the "conservative" verbiage, and consider joining the movement; Here's the link:

http://dagneysrant.com/2007/03/31/now-this-is-exciting.aspx

If we could just all get together on this, we could overcome the MSM and make some progress.

If this "PAC" has the intended effect in prolonging our involvement in Iraq, then the young soldiers that die as a result will be partly on your head.

Yet I have seen nothing that even comes close to justifying this on these pages or elsewhere.

Look. I feel terrible for Iraqis like the guy in the video who may (rightly or wrongly) think that a US withdrawal will make things worse for him in Iraq. I'm sure there are also a lot of people (not just "terrorists" either) who think the opposite. Getting the ones you agree with to expound upon this is a clever little propoganda ploy (maybe that expains nutjob Malkin's sudden interest in you?) but meaningless as policy.

It is not in America's best security interest to continue in Iraq. Unless you can convince people of that, why should they continue to suppory this war? Although I do not expect it here, I'd like to hear someone try to argue this cogently without resorting to hyperbole and fearmongering using highly unlikely and basically impossible to justify speculations about the impact on "global terrorism".

As bad as I feel for the Iraqi's, unfortunately the cost of rectifying our historic blunder that put them in this position is far too high.

Why should we be spending so much money on this? And enduring so many casualties? And continuing to let it divide us so sharply here at home? Haven't we done enough FOR bin Laden and his cause already?

There are no "failed policies of the current administration. It is not a crime against the American people that Osama hasn't been caught just as it was not a crime that Hitler or Stalin were not 'caught'.

The rational plan has been presented over four years ago an a year ago. The plan is to kill those who kill us. Same as in World War II with the Japanese. They did not surrender and were a bunch of racist religious fanatics just like these islamo facists.

I'll point out that Avedis is still evading the question: was it wise to "trust" Saddam not to get nukes and compete with Iran in the "Hate America" contest?

Avedis is correct that nuclear proliferation is unavoidable, given North Korea's pass by Clinton, Pakistan's pass by Clinton and Bush, and China and Russia and Western Europe assisting in nuclear proliferation. Yet he seems to believe that letting Saddam alone, intact, with Iran next door racing towards nukes was ...

Cost Free. That's not even a serious response.

Morever he ignores the clear trendline like Larry Johnson, Paul Pillar, and the Dem Party: terrorism gets ever bigger and more dangerous. From foreign hostage taking to spectacular foreign bombings to Beslans and 9/11s.

Avedis answer to can we just sit back and let our cities get nuked is: YES.

That's a total failure of any serious consideration of National Security.

Notmyname: So you are OK with the slaughter of Trade Unionists? Teachers? Women's Rights advocates? Election workers? Doctors? Civil Engineers? Students? ALL that keeps that from happening on a wider scale is the US military.

Pull out and your fondest reactionary dreams: another Pol Pot slaughter or Khomenist mass killing will ensue. "Liberalism" in the classic sense means to transform society for the better, including if required intervention in other countries to build modern, secular societies. In favor of your moral vanity and posturing you condemn those working for progress to slaughter by the Ayatollahs or Osama.

More to the point your Peace Movement and Dem Party is funded by terrorist Oil Sheiks. The same who fund Osama. But that is the Liberal and Progressive elements today: solidly on the side of the enemy of all that is decent and humane. And allied completely with bin Laden and the Ayatollahs.

Andrew: victory has already been achieved. Saddam and his erratic uncertainty removed. Only Iran's nukes and Pakistan's are at issue. We don't have Saddam's which would have been a lead pipe cinch if we'd left him there. That's victory. Even better: we have lots of influence over both Shia and Sunnis in Iraq by favoring one or the other. This allows the US to move events rather than be purely moved by them. You want an ideal state that will never be achieved. I suspect your real desire is simply to surrender to anyone who will take it, hence the unreal demand for perfection. In domestic politics we'd throw out Social Security because it's not perfect.

Independence of action. Given the risk (dead American cities) that's a great victory.

And Israeli domestic air travel pretty much bans Muslims. Good luck trying that here.

Democrats have been taking the enemy's side for so long that it's reflexive. Demanding perfection that's unattainable from the US and cheering atrocities by the other side. I suspect they deeply desire to surrender to anyone who will take it.

I know exactly who attacked us and why I support the war in Iraq.

I see them as both a front in the war. You want to know why I supported the Iraq war in a follow up on Afghanistan? Read my blog archives, I don't feel like explaining the entire thing to you here, again and again, as I have in the past.

For the current situation, I will explain it:

1) al Qaida in Iraq - why would we cede one iota of sand to AQ in Iraq? Or, for that matter, wherever they are, particularly if we are already there? Why would I give them any space to rest, recuperate, consolidate and plan attacks on the US or any strategic ally? Taking into account that they have bombed the KSA, Jordan, Egypt, tried to infiltrate Gaza and the west bank to attack Israel and all of these nations are political, military and economic allies of the US - why would I leave there and allow them to be attacked, much less the US? And yes, I do worry about defending oil producing nations and shipping routes in the area.

If the major oil refinery in Saudi Arabia is successfully attacked, it will be financial chaos. Gas would rise to $5.00/gallon overnight and continue from there until the refinery, if ever, came back on line.

Those who are not concerned about the economic impact from a failed ally should be prepared walk to work, build a "victory garden" for food (because a gallon of milk will cost twice that of gasoline and spinach will be right up there), watch inflation eat your retirement, triple the price for health care, wear your clothes to rags, lose your home due to unmitigated inflation and suffer attacks and economic isolation as our China debt inflates and the value of the dollar is equal to the value of an Iranian Rial (currently $8,000/$1.00). And that does not include the very likely possibility that our military capabilities will be so damaged from the lack of fuel that we are subject to all sorts of invasions on our foreign allies and our economy if not our land.

That's before we even contemplate their ability or desire to get here and damage us directly in order to consolidate their final hegemony over the region and our destruction. Not all war is about how many bullets you shoot, but what resources you control and your enemy does not. In guerilla warfare, destruction of economically important systems and materials are just as damaging to the survival of a government, if not more so, than any number of men, tanks or guns you can put on the ground.

And, don't forget, the Suez Canal, where major shipping goes through to Europe (ostensibly our ally) and the US. Not just oil or natural gas, but food, minerals, metals, clothing and many raw materials that make your daily life go round. One small area of Iraq where they can have respite, consolidate, train small squads without identification and interdiction, where they no longer have to worry about our forces, within hopping distance to this strategic location (through Syria, the West Bank and Gaza - just on this side of the Suez where Egyptian mountain tribes have protected al Qaida/Islamists terrorists and allowed them operate) and you might as well watch Europe die or join alliance with Russia while you start buying loaves of bread for the price of a gallon of gasoline ($5.00)

On top of that, you will most likely lose your job since many companies will not be able to sustain a profit margin and raw materials or products will not make it here for continued manufacturing.

I don't think I am overstating this case. You simply have to be aware of how much shipping goes through the area and its economic impact. We could certainly go around the Suez and the mediteranean short cut, but we are still talking about adding 10 or more days to the sojourn, effectively inflating the cost of goods beyond a normal workers pay check.

One attack on one small section of the Suez. They don't even have to control it, just shut it down for a month or so to do repairs. You'd be standing in line like a Russian at the bread store.

That is the catastrophic effect of one attack.

Then, we'd be hard pressed to defend ourselves, much less 25 million Iraqis that don't deserve to be murdered because they wanted Saddam gone, believe in something else or less than either AQ's Islam or even the Shi'ites. I think of that every day as people demand we leave there and leave it to the Islamists.

2) Iranian Shi'ite Islamists in Iraq - when we have a foreign policy that calls for regime change in Iran, when Iran is in an economic and political crisis (which precipitated the current kidnapping of British Sailors) and would benefit from political, financial and military hegemoy over Iraq, why would we cede one iota of sand to them without attriting them or establishing an effective counter and insuring that they are isolated (soft war, economic warfare, whatever you want to call it)? We are talking about a nation that supports terrorists, advocates the destruction of the US and our allies and would love to have very good political ties with Iraq, a member of OPEC and a bridge to Syria, in order to put economic, political and even military pressure on our allies, thus the US.

They need KSA and other nations to reduce production of oil, send it sky high, so that they can continue to finance their regime (of which 50% of their annual revenue comes from oil) and terrorist organizations that threaten our allies and our foreign trade.

Why would I advocate giving that to them?

Please provide a succinct answer beyond, "we might start a war" or it's all our fault or "if we hadn't gone there" when clearly any nation will do what it takes to sustain itself, particularly dictatorial tyrannies and it has no bearing on the current question of whether we should abandon Iraq to this potential absorbtion (since we can't turn back time).

3) Iraq is the geographic center of the Islamic world. Yes, yes, Saddam was "secular", what's that got to do with he was a murderous scumbag, failed to uphold signed treaties and fired on our men and women repeatedly? He gave us an excuse and we took it in order to get to a strategic geographic location. IE, closer to the enemy, drawing them in without damaging nations that are economically and militarily strategically necessary for the survival of the US?

Why would I advocate giving up that position? That's like Chamberlain (Joshua Lawrence that is) deciding he should give up the high ground on little round top; or Leonidas withdrawing from the "gates of fire", Thermopolyea or abandoning Bastogne, leaving 30,000 Japanese on Okinawa or any other strategic location in any other war in history.

4) And finally, why, after so much work and narrowing the real fighting down to a few, though extremely important, locations (like Baghdad), would I advocate leaving and throwing it to the wind and the chances of genocidal warfare? Why should I advocate, in any manner, for whatever reason, leaving 25 million people to the whims, and obvious lacking in mercy or compassion, of these groups?
Why would I simply throw up my hands and let millions of innocent people die, particularly when we are already there?

Why would I advocate giving them up to radicalization by either the Sunni Islamists or the Shi'ite Islamists or both?

I want an answer to that, by the way. Not one, not one commenter, blogger, politician, comedian, actor or anyone else has addressed these strategic concerns or given me any strategic reason beyond the "Iraq war was wrong to begin with" or "people are dying" or "damaging" our non-existent "love" from foreign nations meme to give up this strategically important position and continuing to defend these people.

If you or anyone else could provide me with a viable, strategic reason and outcome to abandoning Iraq, I might be persueded.

By the way, I am a once upon a time democrat. That is no bull. It did not take the Iraq war to sway me from the ranks. It took about three months post 9/11. I distinctly recall when the realization hit me that I would be forced to support the Republican position: Ted Kennedy called Afghanistan a quagmire and certain democrat congressmen were starting to talk about timelines, withdrawing and hunting bin laden with the CIA and some SF guys. Reducing it, as it were, to "policing terrorists". Some of the far left were claiming we were killing innocent Afghanis and calling Bush (and the US) war criminals.

That was the "good" and "just" war.

I fully believe, without any hyperbole, were we not in Iraq, we'd be having this same discussion about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. It would only have shifted eastward. That is the final reason why I find such anti-war positions on Iraq laughable, naive and down right disingenuous.

Glen, would you care to estimate the odds the Iraq government will voluntarily allow us to use Iraq territory to threaten Iran? I say, zero. Yep, no matter what coalition we end up with, it's pro-Iran.

Jim R., would you mind supplying a source for your remarkable claim that Muslims aren't allowed on domestic flights in Israel?

Glen, would you care to estimate the odds the Iraq government will voluntarily allow us to use Iraq territory to threaten Iran? I say, zero. Yep, no matter what coalition we end up with, it's pro-Iran.

That makes them "pro-Iran"?

Wow, it's easy to be pro-Iran. No wonder Kevin Drum does it so well.

And I'm really sorry that Mr. Unpronounceable and the Iranian Revolutionary Shitbags feel threatened. Why don't they have a Holocaust Denial conference and finish it off by hanging a few 13 year-old girls? That always seems to cheer them up.

Did I miss the part where it was progressive not to fight medieval religious fascists?

Yes, you did. Its the reason I left the democrats 20 years ago. JFK style liberalism died with him.

Marc, not sure yet what the amount will be, but you'll have a donation from me.

http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-2132-.html

Of course it doesn't matter to you freedom fighters that Jalal Talibani - you know, the elected president of Iraq - has stated today that the Americans are an occupying force and that their presence is causing more harm than good.

Get a hint. We're not wanted over there and we throwing good money and kives after wasted ones every day we stay. Worse, we're probably increasing the likelyhood of new terrorists forming up to attack us because of our continued occupation of Iraq.

"Lives"....not "kives" of course

I'm wondering if anyone can identify when the last time was that a drunk driver cost our economy $1 trillion because of an accident.

Thought not.

AL: I offered to donate. Plus help with any web work you might need from someone on the East Coast. Someone's got to get the job done. And if it isn't going to be our leadership, then it needs to be grass-roots.

Sign me up.

#44 Kat - Good Post. Much of this resonates with me.

I think we needed to take down Saddam Hussein. IIRC, and the polls were worth anything, 70% of the US did too in Feb 2003 as the farce at the UN played out. There was no way we could have put the damage of 9-11 in some 'context'.

Thomas Barnett

describes the strategy of toppling Iraq as the 'big bang' theory. I highly recommend the linked post, though it is bitter medicine.

I still agree that we have to try to start a chain reaction to liberalize the Middle East, but I will confess I am somewhat discouraged. The Iraqi's have shown a tolerance for violence while they jockey for position that has perplexed and dismayed me. Both the administration and the Iraqi's are responsible for the lack of progress. The Iraqi's have been fence sitting; many abetting or actively assisting Al Qaeda. Only very recently have several tribes been turning to the US as AQ violence finally bit them too many times. It may be too little, too late.

I have seen reporting by Michael Yon and Pamela Hess that tells the story fairly and shows the soldiers are extremely committed. The soldiers may be the only true believers that the country can be stabilized by counter insurgency efforts and arrive at some version of a liberal democratic government - as opposed to descending into a Iranian sponsored tyranny.

But, my analogy of the dilemma is that the soldiers are like white blood cells combating an infection in an infected, heavily traumatized limb. They see the conflict locally. Each battalion commander (and this has been described as a battalion commanders war) sees a soda straw view of the reality of Iraq.

You are the surgeon. When do you judge the supporting tissue is no longer viable; how do you decide whether to amputate or continue to fight with increasingly expensive and risky therapies.

First of all, aevidis, when the Iraqi parliament passes a resolution requesting our removal and passes it to the UN (where, you know, we are operating under a UN mandate now, in case it escaped your notice for all your caterwauling in the past about not having a clear UN resolution or mandate for force in the past), then I will have to consider his statements as an overall indication of the will of the Iraqi people, since it is the TOTAL elected representative body of the people.

No offense, though, I'd like to see his entire statement to ascertain his exact meaning. I would add, without much rancor, that he is probably upset because the US probably gave him an earful about the passage of the Kirkuk re-organization (ie, "voluntarily" removing Sunni Arabs moved there 15 years ago). We probably don't think that is a good idea at this time.

But, you know, in an insurgency, both sides are bound to say and do stupid things. And, it does take two sides to tango. I am always interested to here folks claim that the US is both stupid and superhuman (ie, should not have made mistakes) as the cause for this continuing fiasco as opposed to certain identity and political groups in Iraq vying for supremacy.

In the end, his comments do not sway me from the strategic necessity to leave. Please provide the appropriate strategic outcome we should hope to reach by withdrawal, keeping in mind my major points above.

Still waiting for the Iraq government to issue a request for the removal of US forces. Then, and only then, will I say it's over and we will have to move to non-kinetic warfare.

Finally, to Jwill, what many propose is that, suffering gangrene of the right big toe, we should amputate both legs up to the hip.

Are you telling me that we cannot sustain the political, economic or human cost of this war in the face of its strategic necessity?

It is the political that is at issue, not economic or human.

kat-missouri,

What I am trying to sort out needs this set up:

1. Differentiate between long and shorter term strategic goals like shrinking the gap, combating Islamism, liberalizing the ME contrasted with remaking Iraq and fixing and engaging AQ.

2. Face the fact that a liberal democracy like the US will not support what appears to be a war of choice for much more than 3 years.

3. Acknowledge and learn from the errors such as insufficient security post invasion, de-Baathification without a plan for the displaced elites, and so on.

4. Take a good look at the state of the regional populations. Assess the dynamic of Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, and Iraq. Answer the question: Are the populations and aspirations stable, or will a re-alignment assert itself in the absence of a sufficiently repressive regime? Look at the examples from the USSR breakup. Civilizations are resilient things, they will try to reassert themselves.

5. Identify the true conflicts (IMO Israel/Iran, Iran/KSA, Syria/Lebanon) and try for some realignment that recreates some deadlock or balance. It may be that some of the regions leaders need to be shown the view into the abyss in order to promote some adjustments.

And then a miracle happens. Or not. I don't think we can allow a major regional flare-up or I would say to let them duke it out. It would seem that stable energy supply needs have dictated policy that supported stasis since the end of WWI. One big pucker factor would be Iran lobbing cruise missiles around the Strait of Hormuz and disrupting 20% of the worlds oil supply. Implicit in my reasoning is a devout desire to avoid any scenario that could bring Armageddon on.

Austin Bay

6. Don't think we can just knock Iran over, Russia, China, and the EU probably won't sit still for that. In any case that would probably be a tar baby move that would overstretch us.

So what to do about Iraq? Is partitioning a possibility? The surge might work if we can give it time AND we get some adjustment from Iran (and Syria).

However, we may have to face up to our screw-up and do some backing down. I would hate to see it, but can you tell me how we can hang on in Iraq when it only takes a few AQ or RG maniacs to blow some people up to keep the region inflamed? Will the American people support a festering wound like this for 5 more years? 10?

I don't have the answers, but we should ask some hard questions about what alternatives we have available if, as it seems, the Iraqi's just don't gel.

Let me see if I understand Kat's views (not presented in the same order as they were listed):

1) It is ok to enter into a war on foreign sovereign territories with so little hard information and much speculation that it would succeed, but it is not ok to exit same war with so much hard information that it has failed.

Because of this, Kat is able to argue that it was acceptable that so many Iraqi civilians had to lose their lives because the cause was judged to be "noble", but if more Iraqis lose their lives because we leave (and this is by no means a given) then that will be unacceptable because it would seem to be admitting "defeat". In other words, Kat's (and everyone else who makes this argument) sudden concern for the well-being of the citizens of Iraq is a farce and a charade.

2) The economic security of Americans is pre-eminent over the physical security of middle easterners, since it is worse for an American to lose a job than it is for an innocent Iraqi civilian to lose their life.

In raising this issue, Kat is essentially arguing that the US is not resourceful or tough enough to do without middle eastern Oil. A very pessimistic and cynical view of America's potential.

3) Saddam was such an evil and dangerous man that billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives needed to be wasted to kill him.

Because of this, Kat can view the struggle as being of epic and mythical proportions instead of one affecting the everyday lives and well-being of millions of real people who are in the middle of this mess.

Why should it be the sole burden of the US, at this point, to bring about a peaceful or at least stable end to the mess in Iraq? Have the Bush administration and their supporters completely forgotten about diplomacy, about involving other nations, middle east and elsewhere, in this? Why hasn't that happened? Do they really want there to be peace in Iraq?

Perhaps another benefit of setting a withdrawal date is that it may force the idiots in charge to get serious about using non-military approaches....because that is where the solution to this situation is going to come from. As much as you may reflexively and irrationally hate the Democrats or mock their proposals, they are beginning to have a positive effect on the administration's approach to the Iraq war in that they have made it clear that the status quo is unacceptable and American's don't want a perpetual middle east war.

Very good points, tcg.

Again, I must remind the reader that now even the President of Iraq has stated that the US presence is causing more violence that it is preventing and that the US must leave ASAP.

Are we to ignore the words of the man who should know Iraq best for the opinion of some California dude who rides around on motercycles that few, if any, citizen of Iraq could even afford?

Cleary A.L, Kat et al aren't concerned with doing what's best for Iraq or even - necessarily - the US. This about something else and I suspect that it is psychological - not rational - in nature.

Avedis, that'd be an interesting quote to link to. I can't find anything on Al Jezzera like that...and I'm sure they'd have covered it.

Nice ad hominem, too...but I'll refrain from the backhand response it deserves.

A.L.

Sorry Avedis - wasn't clear in the above -

The translations I've seen of Talabani's general talk at the summit weren't nearly as specific as you make them. If you've got a better one, a link would be v. educational.

A.L.

"Only a degenerate gambler continues to double down until the house and kids' college fund is gone."

Countering the goals of those bent on destruction and denying Iraqi citizens democracy is gambling?

When cast in terms like that "i.e. we'll pitch money at the problem on the hope of solving it", of course, that analysis makes sense. But pitching the situation as "gambling" is a fundamental and deliberate misconstruance of the situation.

In gambling, the house has the odds advantage, and the rules are inviolate. That does not describe combat.

In gambling, the house has much more money to spend than the gambler. That does not describe this situation; the US has far more resources.

In gambling, the house sets the rules. That only applies to the situation when people carp about the supposed violations of the Americans (Guantanomo, the supposed "starvation" of David Hicks"), and say nothing about the clear and unambiguous violations of others (chlorine gas attacks in Iraq, the Geneva Convention violations Iran is committing in saying they'll try the British sailors with espionage). Or in other words, in gambling, you do play by the house rules. In combat, you create your own. Only those who refuse to try to win try to cast the rules in the opponents favor.

In gambling, if you fail you have the potential to ruin your life, go bankrupt, die poor. In confronting the violence in Iraq, if you fail you have the potential to make permanent the ruination of an entire country and embloden an enemy for decades, affecting future generations.

It's fair to raise questions about the dedication of resources and lives to the actions, but to liken it to gambling is to paint a false picture of the situation. There is a large difference between gambling and what's happening in Iraq.

A.L., let me try.

Avedis, if everyone who disagrees with you on deep and substantitive issues does so out of stupidity or psychological defects, then the very notion of a representative democracy is a farce, by simple extension. We had all better just find the most benevolent tyrant available to run things, since there are so many crazy people running around.

This doesn't mean everyone is right, just that by and large people are both intelligent and sane. Otherwise, democracy is a cruel joke.

You had really better find a template that allows reasonable people to disagree on complex subjects. As evidenced by the widespread civility of this site, other people here have done so. The more emotional the subject is, the more important that template becomes.

I am happy to read your opinions, and see any facts you can bring to light, but try to lighten up a bit on your view of the opposition's intelligence, okay?

Thanks in advance.

-Piercello

tcg:

Because of this, Kat is able to argue that it was acceptable that so many Iraqi civilians had to lose their lives because the cause was judged to be "noble", but if more Iraqis lose their lives because we leave (and this is by no means a given) then that will be unacceptable because it would seem to be admitting "defeat". In other words, Kat's (and everyone else who makes this argument) sudden concern for the well-being of the citizens of Iraq is a farce and a charade.

I know you find it incredible that anyone could sympathize with the purple-fingered Iraqi, who dreams of democracy, freedom, and an Arab government that is (if not "secular" by our definition) neither a theocracy nor a Nationalist-Socialist tyranny. Many non-Iraqis have come to know and sympathize with these people, collectively and even personally in some instances, and you have no right to question their sincerity just because your own blood is cold on the subject. At least, I assume that you are merely insensitive to their aspirations, and not a fan of the foreign-backed terrorists who are trying to murder them.

It's okay to be insensitive. Really. It's possible to practice sound reason and ethics without really caring about other people - any people. It is typically human to care more about one's immediate kin than one does about people in general, and secondarily, to care more about one's own nation or demographic group. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, ideological attempts to abolish these natural human preferences generally lead to bloody disaster. But it is also possible to transcend our petty animal preferences and recognize universal human rights, which must exist and be respected regardless of how we feel about them at any given moment.

Of course, our sympathy with the Iraqis does not make either them or us "right". You can also sympathize with the Palestinians - I sure do - without making Hamas any less noxious.

But just because you and your friends don't give a crap about Iraq doesn't mean that nobody does. And even if nobody did, the universe doesn't stop expanding just because we stop caring. Get it?

So getting back to cold-blooded reasoning, I will point out that you, like so many of the anti-war righteous, find it necessary to continually misstate the character of the war in Iraq - either because you are dishonest, poorly-informed, or are getting emotional in a bad way. The war against Saddam Hussein is long over, and all reasoning people know it. The current war is against the legitimate and sovereign government of Iraq, with the United States as a secondary target. In this conflict we are not the aggressor, and the conflict will not stop just because we go home - on the contrary, the aggressors will have achieved a major goal.

I don't know why this should be so difficult to understand, since the same situation exists in Afghanistan. Most of the soft-core left is strangely silent about Afghanistan, or even bleats occasional approval. (The hard-core left, to their credit, consistently hates everything we do.)

Of course, if we were not fighting in Iraq, all of the arguments used against Iraq would be employed against Afghanistan, and you would be complaining about all the money we spend on those "goat-herders", as the compassionate leftist Alexander Cockburn liked to call them.

Which goes to show you how empty, hypocritical, and false is all the bogus "pacifism" being preached these days, but that's another story.

Yes, pier, if you thought that everyone who disagreed with you was psychologically "imbalanced", it would raise a number of issues, including the one you mention.

But that is decidedly NOT what avedis is saying.

The rest of your post is just a further riff on this mis-perception.

Perhaps a starting point for "reasonable disagreement" should come from trying a little harder to understand what it is your opponent is actually saying...

tcg, here's the last para of Avedis #56:

"Cleary A.L, Kat et al aren't concerned with doing what's best for Iraq or even - necessarily - the US. This about something else and I suspect that it is psychological - not rational - in nature."

Et al.

avedis - as long as it's higher than the other guy's you usually win. A.L.

Ahhh! The Glenn Reynolds strategy!

Hilarious!

Shorter Marc D.

I've been saying for years we need a decades long struggle. The administration refused to come straight with the American people, so I knew it was doomed to failure.

Yet I continued to support it. Once I got my way, I watched for four years as the administration totally bungled the occupation. Yet I continued to cheer them on! I'd mention they needed to change direction when reality absolutely forced me to, but I stayed with the effort.

And now, having made a total fool of myself for over four years, supporting a war, with caveats of course, whether the requirements I noted were met or not, but mostly not, I've had an epiphany!

I'm starting a PAC, cause there's no freakin way they'll make me look like a dupe again!

Talk about the silent bigotry of low expectations.

And all carried out in such a public fashion.

No, Glen, I don't find it incredible that "anyone" would sympathize with Iraqi civilians, only those of you who supported the initial invasion and the subsequent and predicted substantial loss of civilian life on the basis of lies, but now opposing a withdrawal of US forces or any non-military solutions to the problems because of a newfound concern for the average Iraqi, in the face of factual evidence that we cannot provide a military solution to the civil war that arose in the power vacuum that we created.

Your sudden sympathy is, as I said, obviously very selective and disingenuous, and I don't believe it for one stinking minute. There is no good humanitarian solution to this situation, and your efforts to keep raising this issue and pretending that there is seems to amount to nothing more than an effort to play "gotcha" and "shut up" with "pacificst hypocritical Leftys" who disagree with you.

Don't think it has escaped the public's notice, furthermore, that most of the current sympathy from the Rightwing seems to be reserved for the Iraqi civilians but not American soldiers who are being maimed and dying in increasing numbers to implement the failed policy you advocate.

pier--I read what avedis said. Once again, he's not disagreeing with "everyone" on "deep and substantive issues"..he's suggesting (and agreeing with me) that some pro-Iraq war supporters and holdouts tend to see the conflict in mythical or fictional terms rather than realistic ones. At some level of dissociation, this kind of thinking can be classified as "sociopathic". Thus, I do not see his suggestion as being unsubstantiated.

TCG nails it. Like all con men, and then like their deluded marks once they've been had, Glen is talking about the wonderful outcome of his purple-fingered Iraqi dream without making any attempt to see if we can get there from here (leave alone get there with the current guides in charge). No amount of will and determination is going to come up with a trisection of the general angle.

I would be more sympathetic to elmondohummus's dispute about whether "gambling" is a good metaphor for Iraq, except that the war's supporters use the same ideas in a euphemistic guise. What exactly is the "Big Bang" theory of Middle East reconstruction, with those hundreds of thousands of birth (that is, death) pangs of the New Middle East, except a huge gamble? The card game that came to my mind, though, was 52-pickup.

tcg, thanks for illustrating my point. in #66:

1) You have implicitly declared yourself and your side the arbiter of what is realistic and what is mythical or fictional; and

2) You have then insinuated sociopathic tendencies in those who hold those dissenting views, in particular with regard to a "deep and substantive issue" such as the conflict in Iraq. It would be similarly unfair for me to attribute, for example, "the derangement of the Left to their inability to process reality".

Also, your reaction to my first post (#60) was not that we drew different but equally plausible meanings for the intended inclusiveness of the "et al" Avedis used, but that my reading comprehension was flawed. See 1) above.

My larger point still stands; democracy requires certain minimums to be sustainable, among them widespread intelligence and sanity, and to imply their absence in a sizeable portion of the population is to renounce the system as a pipe dream.

If your views represent reality as thoroughly as you believe they do (else why would you believe them?), you should try to persuade rather than denounce. What's the point in the conversation otherwise? Just go a little easier with the rhetorical hammer, okay?

-Piercello

Pretty much everything Avedis is saying doesn't address the point:

What National Security Policy will maximize the US's national security, particularly the growing problem of WMDs plus globalization leading to the nuking of American Cities?

Avedis is in deep, deep denial on the fundamental nature of human nature, our current predicament, and the challenges we face.

He has what amounts to Religious FAITH in dead, incompetent institutions such as the EU, or UN. Transparently unable to protect British Sailors on a UN mission (patrol Iraqi waters authorized by the UN). Interestingly, one of the arguments Bush and Powell made for the Iraq War was to preserve the UN's relevance, i.e. resolutions by the UN mean something other than a "sharply worded letter of regret" watered down by the Russians and Chinese.

The UN has failed as an instrument of international security; at least Bush recognizes how impotent and hollow like the Holy Roman Empire the UN is. Too bad Avedis and the Democratic Party cannot realize this reality.

The EU boasted of it's "soft power" but can't even muster a set of sanctions on Iran for taking British sailors hostage. The EU is as hollow and worthless as the UN. Given that Britain is a member of the EU.

[It is worth noting the Britain no longer teaches the Crusades or Holocaust because Muslims in Britain threaten jihad. THAT is the price of Multiculturalism and Liberalism.]

Transnational institutions such as the EU or UN are dead and rotting. Meanwhile transnational ISLAM is a force to be reckoned with. As Mark Steyn notes, 9/11 was carried out by Saudis, Egyptians, Kuwaitis of Pakistani origin, from organizational bases in Afghanistan, Germany, Spain, and the United States.

Avedis offers for security the dead stinking rot of the EU and UN, our enemies offer Jihad in the name of Allah.

If Avedis were to argue that Iraq is a waste of time compared to the threat of Iran and Pakistan and argue for the only thing that actually WORKS:

Military force in overwhelming measures against those nations

I would support him. Dump Iraq to focus on Iran and Pakistan and bomb/destroy the hell out of them.

Do what Andrei Gromyko did during the 1979 hostage crisis: warn Khomemi that if the Iranians took the Soviet Embassy hostage Tehran would be a glowing crater. That only works however if people are convinced you mean it.

Avedis and the like however are not serious people and like the Dem Party not worthy of consideration: they argue that the US should rely on the mercy, goodwill, and whims of International Islam and beg and grovel not to be attacked.

I would LOVE an alternative to Iraq and the long, ugly, messy, difficult road by doing war on the cheap without the West's strengths of national mobilization and overwhelming force.

However all the Dems offer is a strongly worded letter of regret from the UN.

One more thing:

Avedis and the views the Dems hold are interesting. Fundamentally the Left and Dem Party does not believe that the US or Western values are superior to that of Islam. Fundamentally, Avedis and the Dem Party will not fight for what they believe is a corrupt and doomed society (i.e. Western "Liberal" Enlightenment Democracy). Fundamentally Avedis and the Dem Party don't wish to fight and die to defend Western Values.

This is why they first argue: not enough troops. Now argue: too many troops. At a time when challenges: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, impotent and cowardly Europe, Russia and China all loom large, Dems offer not Defense Increases and what Dems used to best: FDR massive mobilization to "win the war and go home" but defeat and retreat and utter dead letter pacifism.

Not a SINGLE Dem candidate for President has offered increased defense spending to meet the national security challenges we face. Instead they have opposed a free hand for the CIA and Military to interrogate terrorists captured on the battlefield as illegal combatants. Opposed new weapons systems like bunker busters. Called for hearings to charge CIA agents with torture on 9/11 masterminds.

Why?

IMHO Dems/Liberals/Leftists believe any and any culture is superior to America and the West. More "authentic" more "tribal" more "genuine." Decades of wealth and self-satisfaction mixed with let's be honest fat comfortable elitism and a huge dose of cowardice has let them believe any sacrifice at all is preferable for fighting for a country and system they fundamentally don't believe in.

Look at the Military: made up primarily of young white men from the South and West. Lower to Middle Class. Conservative and believing in the values of America and the need for it's defense.

This civilizational rot is far larger than the issues of Iraq. If Dems had anything on offer beyond endless retreat and surrender and moralizing I would love an alternative to the incompetent and fundamentally lazy and compromising policies of GWB.

That however is not on offer. All that is seems to be pathetic and cowardly pacifism.

tcg:

Don't think it has escaped the public's notice, furthermore, that most of the current sympathy from the Rightwing seems to be reserved for the Iraqi civilians but not American soldiers who are being maimed and dying in increasing numbers to implement the failed policy you advocate.

Once again you pose as the expert on other people's feelings. You are oblivious to the fact that you are equally open to the same charge of hypocrisy, since your professed sympathy for the troops follows a familiar political formula, and again does not seem to apply to those who have been killed or maimed in Afghanistan.

All of which is beside the point, because it doesn't matter what you really "feel"; it does not change the facts.

Don't preach your "non-military" solutions, please. Your side has none - except for those whose solution is to work for our defeat so they can exploit it politically. I'll do you the courtesy of assuming that you are not among their number, since I don't have your ability to see into people's hearts.

Andrew:

Glen is talking about the wonderful outcome of his purple-fingered Iraqi dream without making any attempt to see if we can get there from here (leave alone get there with the current guides in charge). No amount of will and determination is going to come up with a trisection of the general angle.

If the "trisection of the general angle" requires overcoming the opposition of the anti-war crowd, then I agree that not even the Indiana State Legislature has enough bad math to do it. The left is irrevocably committed to defeat, emotionally and intellectually, and regardless of what happens they will never accept any other result than defeat. They have staked every last crumb of credibility on it.

Which is why you refuse to recognize that we have gotten very far from where we began, and I think those purple-fingered Iraqis are not as anxious to go back to the living death of "benevolent" despotism as you are.

Incidentally, Andrew, if it is not true that you wish to consign the Iraqis to the ash heap of history, abandoning them to either Baathist or Islamist tyranny, then you must admit that they are currently very far from such tyranny - far enough that it cannot be clamped back upon them in our absence.

And if the situation is hopeless as you claim, than you cannot pretend that Iraqis will magically resolve it after we leave. You must take moral responsibility for leaving them to their fate - because inaction is also a moral choice with moral consequences, and failure to recognize that is the error of all pacifism.

So you must argue that we ought not to care about what happens to the Iraqis ... or better yet, blame Bush for it, in which case the worse they suffer the better for you. You back with the pre-war soft-left position, which was to claim that Iraqis ought to get rid of Saddam themselves - surely the cruelest advice any free people ever gave to another nation, and thank God FDR and JFK were not alive to hear it.

In the meantime you can bitch about expenses, while the Democrats stuff their anti-war bills with outrageous pork in order to keep their Coalition of the Bribed and Corrupt together.

pier...come on...what part of "some" don't you understand?

Glenn said: "Don't preach your "non-military" solutions, please. Your side has none - except for those whose solution is to work for our defeat so they can exploit it politically. I'll do you the courtesy of assuming that you are not among their number, since I don't have your ability to see into people's hearts."

OK, Glenn, now we're getting some where perhaps.

Are you saying that 1) there are no non-military solutions to Iraq, or 2) that "my side" has not proposed any non-military solutions?

Glen---I'd also like to hear a bit more about that "pork" that the Dems stuffed the supplemental appropriation with....I'm against pork as much as the next guy and have much criticized the Republicans in the past 6 years who have taken pork to new levels...so I'd like to know how bad the Dems pork is as well.

Considering you support all the leftist causes you list at the top, its not surprising you support this war, which is essentially leftist in character. The idea of using war to "export the revolution", or export any political system is leftist in origin. In fact, its taking a page right out of the Bolshevik playbook. After all, if you believe, as YOU clearly do, that the state is the answer to all our problems here in the US, why not have the US government be the answers to all problems everywhere? It makes perfect sense if you are into the concept of social engineering and state control over people, which you clearly are. after all, we couldn't let those nasty muslims live the way they want, now could we? NOOOOOOOOOO. Somebody may be "homophobic" or "discriminated against" if we just left people alone.

tcg,

I'd really rather hear you engage the substance of my argument rather than continuing to prove its efficacy.

On the pork thing, try googling democrat pork and see what comes up, if you're serious. Or you can try this for a bare bones introduction, if you're feeling as lazy this evening as I am.

-Piercello

Piercello,

Come on. Try googling Republican Pork and see what you come up with. Give me a break. What passes for intellectual discussion on this blog is juvenile at best.

I find it facsinating, from a psychological perspective that supporters of the Invasion are unable to even substantively address the meat of an opposition argument. Rather they subscribe all sorts of unexpressed positions to an oppononent, erect straw men and try to knock them down with irrational pre-fab. counters. Take this fool Jim Rockfod. When did I ever mention the UN, EU or a dozen other positions that he attributes to me? Answer; never. J.R - and many others here - are, as tcg suggested, attempting to live out a myth. They are divorced from reality.

Additionally, they are bed wetters. They wake up each day in fear that a terrorist will make the US look bad. Of course none can substantiate the belief that Iraq is somehow key to to preventing the nightmares that lead to their soaked sheets. It's just a hunch and if that hunch has one tenth of one percent of ever coming true in the next hundred years, then, in their opinion, then we should break the bank on acting upon it.

That's what I come away from from this discussion with.

It's been really interesting probing the mind of the die hard lunatic right. Interesting, but ultimately dissapointing. Adios.

Mike:
The idea of using war to "export the revolution", or export any political system is leftist in origin. In fact, its taking a page right out of the Bolshevik playbook.

Well, no. The Bolsheviks wimped out of World War I and left their nation's allies holding the bag. If we were to take a page out of their book, we'd make a separate peace with the Islamists and export the war to France.

avedis:
It's been really interesting probing the mind of the die hard lunatic right. Interesting, but ultimately dissapointing. Adios.
What a shame. And just when you were hitting your stride with the pee-stained sheets metaphor. So long, and enjoy your statistical immunity from terrorism.

avedia, I can't say you've been much of an addition ot the dialog. I'd love to see someone with your views who was willing to really discuss them and not just toss random ad hominems and unchallengeable assertions. If you'd bothered the click through, you'd have found that the House & Senate each added some $20+B in domestic pork to the Iraq appropriation/surrender by November 08 so Hillary won't have to deal with the issue bill, and that they acknowledged that it was done to buy shaky votes.

Which managed to combine the worst of corrupt Washington politics and amorality in foreign policy.

Plus I'll note that Obama has just acknowledged that when Bush vetoes the bill, the Senate will simply pass a bill appropriating the funds for the war.

Kos and TalkLeft seem to be unhappy.

A.L.

Avedis, drop by again sometime so we can shout "projection!" at one another, and bandy other philosophical inanities. It's been a pleasure.

Hopefully he'll bring an original insult if not an original thought.

While my interest in the Pork was genuine, I'll have to strongly disagree that it has anything to do with the main issue here....funny how the diversion has garnered more attention than this:

Are you saying that 1) there are no non-military solutions to Iraq, or 2) that "my side" has not proposed any non-military solutions?

Yes, the pork is a red herring!

tcg, I guess my answer is that there are no purely non-military solutions to Iraq (as if it were a problem to be solved), given the geopolitical circumstances, although there is certainly elbow room to debate the precise extent of the legitimately necessary use of the military.

As such, I believe calls to end our military involvement before Iraq has been "solved" render any hypothetical solution unattainable. All well and good if you believe the Iraq problem to be fundamentally unsolvable, and utterly disastrous otherwise.

Again, there is some room to debate the scope of the disaster a failure would entail, as weighed against the costs of continuing our decisive military engagement there.

Where we seem to have the greatest difficulty, argument-wise, is in bridging the incomprehension between those who are passionately convinced we have already failed, or cannot succeed, and those who passionately believe we have not yet failed, and may yet still succeed.

Apologies for the length, but I wanted to address your question fairly. I'm sure you'll let me know whether or not I succeeded!

-Piercello

Say, Glen, after you found "Bush Supporters Calling for an Invasion of Zimbabwe", get back to me on inaction as a moral choice. Your argument continues to assume that American presence in Iraq is creating some sort of better situation. In actual fact, Iraqis (outside Kurdistan) are dying just like they did under Saddam; maybe a little faster. Our own presence has more to do with making a demonstration of "will" against terrorism than saving Iraq, by the more honest arguments of your own side.

Speaking of honest, when does WoC write up the GOP Senators' comic-opera saunter to a Baghdad market? McCain et al forgot to mention that the peaceful, uneventful shopping expedition was accompanied by over 100 armed soldiers, plus cover from three Blackhawk helicopters and two Apache gunships. All this, three minutes from the Green Zone. The very presence of a "Green Zone" bespeaks of a past generations' failed colonial occupations.

What was victory again? And when might we expect to attain it? The American people are no longer buying the theory that victory is not admitting you've blundered and lost, regardless of the situation on the ground.

See?

And along those lines, here's the take of someone knowledgeable who believes victory to be possible, but who hasn't declared it to be certain, if you'd like to explore that mindset more deeply. I'd be happy to be pointed to a good example on the other side of that divide...

Piercello, I ask you the same question: what is victory?

Victory short of a shooting war with Syria and Iran is just not in the cards. But then I am a hopeless romantic fool.

"Stop loss point"?

The white house has tried to explain it to an inmature public. The only reason this country has a navy is because of Moslem fundies. History must be lost on the people of the US. You as a country are spoiled rotten. When your congress thinks we have the ability to luxuriate wars and believes that there is no consequence to inadvertently trying to end one that has been ongoing for 1400 years, you have lost your country.

You follow through with Iraq. That's an order.
You as a nation can make it as hard or as easy on yourselves as you want.

I suggest being patient. If you cannot do that, all the rest will be taken, and fast - lightening fast.

That is all.

1) Aevidis

You are minimalizing 9/11. Don't pretend otherwise with your "well, maybe". Just because you didn't want it to change anything doesn't mean that it didn't.

Frankly, I don't think, left or right of this issue, on the morning of 9/11 I was the only person going through the "check list" of potential sponsors and directors of this attack that didn't have Saddam and Iraq on their list.

What he did or did not do is moot. As I pointed out, and so have others, is that this is the third war for Iraq. Al Qaida is there. How many times do THEY have to say it for YOU to get it.

2) TCG -

a) Before you can secure anyone else, you have to be secure yourself. That goes for a private citizen or a nation. If we are not financially, politically and militarily viable, then neither are our allies, great or small, new or old.

You don't like it, tell your congressman, though I imagine, Democrat or Republican, for all their posturing, knows that, too, so you are likely to go unsatisfied.

For instance: do you really think we bombed the Serbs back into Serbia for purely humanitarian reasons? Sure, Clinton made it sound all nice, warm and fuzzy, but that is not the case. In fact, he stated it more than once, but everyone was too busy looking at the horrific slaughter to note it. It made them feel good that they might be repeating the "greatest generation" and stopping fascist genocide. Which it did. But, more importantly, it cut off a growing civil war that was having a terrible impact on the European economy and, if it spread with Russia supporting the Serbs more fully and the Europeans having to pick sides or watch it overflow into their nations or regional allies, and, more so based on current conflict, the jihadist getting a big war front in Europe (bigger than it was with the KLM), it would have been a disaster for our political, economic and military (NATO) allies. Thus, a disaster for us.

And YOU are the "reality based" community.

I mention this only to point out that there is a balancing and there are benefits that go along with this rather cold hearted sounding concept. But, I will put it to you bluntly again: If the US is not viable, our allies are not viable.

If the US is not viable, neither is the nation of Georgia or Israel or Czekoslovakia or Romania or the Philipines or any other small or great democratic nation. And neither are the Iraqis and an Iraq democracy.

My question: do you know the difference between 30,000 and 1,000,000? Iraq and Rwanda. Iraq today and Iraq by March 2009 if Petraeus strategy doesn't work or we are forced to pull back precipitously.

Don't presume to tell me how I feel about Iraqis.

Still, you have not presented me with the strategically viable outcome for our departure from Iraq.

I don't have time to answer all your points, but I'll take a few:

Oil: Someday, we will not have oil as a major energy resource. someday. But, that day is not right now. And, no one, Democrat or Republican, thinks otherwise, for all the posturing on Capitol Hill. That desire is in fact a gigantic fantasy, Mr. Reality Based Community. Further, this is not just about gasoline for your car or heating oil for your house or even diesel fuel for the thousands of turbines that produce electricity for your home. This is about millions of products that are oil based.

You have to replace all of these products with something else. For instance, if oil was gone tomorrow, millions of people around the world (and, more particularly, in the US), will die from otherwise curable diseases and wounds. Any idea how many medical products have an oil based by product or polymer in it?

Look around your house today. Any idea how many of those products have the same base? Your phone, your cell phone, the computer you keep typing non-reality based things to me, your dishes and glasses, your non-stick pans, your blender, your toaster, your microwave, your oven and even your refrigerator, just to name a few.

Back to your car. You know, those lovely, light-weight panels that they use to mold parts of your car with in order to make it lighter and thus, less gas consuming? Oil based products.

Now, shocker, here's the truth, I actually agree with you that oil must go. I just don't see that happening in the next decade or two no matter how aggressive the public or government sector is in trying to alleviate it. Unless you are harboring some genious chemical engineering background that will discover whole new synthetics to replace all of these items?

Probably not. In the meantime, oil makes the world go round. Yours included. That is reality.

Still, I see no strategic reason or outcome for leaving Iraq from you.

c) Worse case scenarios: This one was pretty funny, I have to say. Exactly how do you think strategic decisions are made? We look into a crystal ball? Get our fortune read by a gypsy? Dream up utopia and pretend not to notice all the bad things that happen while we build a house of straw?

How far from reality are you?

Strategies are based on worse case scenarios. Plan for the worse, hope for the best. Not the other way around. So, yes, I do think about the worst things that can happen and think about the most and the least that we can do to insure it doesn't.

Are you aware that the US, democrat or republican president or congress, gives $2billion in economic and military aid to Egypt? That we have an annual "joint operations" where we practice INVADING EGYPT because we think ol' Muk-Tut is the epitome of a democratic leader? Or, could it be because the destruction or compromise of the Suez Canal would be a disaster economically and militarily for the US and it's European allies?

Or that we routinely renew our political, economic and military ties with Taiwan causing China to get their feathers all ruffled simply because it's a democracy? Or, is it because Communist Chinese control of the China Sea (because, once it claims Taiwan, it can claim territorial waters all around both nations, squeezing shipping lanes, imposing tariffs and threatening naval blockade of the waterway if they don't like us anymore or something we did or simply to defend thier upcoming natural gas and oil pipelines from Iran - you think they are building that navy for nothing?), would cede control of our economically important export/import water routes to China? Is that a good idea in the reality based community?

My point here is that our foreign policy, political, economic and military strategy, is in fact based on "worse case scenario". And, if you are looking at Iraq without considering those "worse case scenarios" then you are NOT living in reality, but dreaming up your own utopian future.

Still, I see no strategic reason, purpose or expected outcomes from you.

Let us, just for a moment, contemplate reality from the Democrat strategy for Iraq and the middle east. I'll make it simple:

1) Cede control of Iraq to Iranian dominated Shia political groups without insuring a moderating political force of Kurds or Sunnis, etc. Taking into account that we already have a similar government in place, such a government without US support becomes a total puppet.
2) Open talks with Iran to hopefully get them to control the Shia militias and politicos because an unstable Iraq is unstable for the Iranians as well (how we will do that when they have clearly helped it remain unstable to their great benefit, I don't know).
3) Understand that the 60% Shia population will most likely continue a very aggressive policy of removal or death of Sunni Arab iraqis in an attempt to drive out al Qaida and other insurgents (how many die is anyone's guess. the important part is that our soldiers are gone and the money we will spend will be "under the radar")
4) If all Sunni and Shia become totally radicalized, then many more will leave Iraq, causing a great refugee issue for our regional allies (because you know that will happen since it is already). These allies we will have to continue to bail out with economic and military aid. The cost of which will go on and on, but you won't see it or care about it since it will under your radar in future budgets years to come. The only difference will be that we will no longer have soldiers' dying and it will not be part of any "war appropriations" bills, highly visible to the public.
5) Open direct talks with Iran to mitigate its worst tendencies towards nukes and economic minefields.
6) Despotic Iran remains intact for another 50 years or so (you won't care because we'll both be old and possibly dead)
7) Set up "friction play" between Shia Islamist Iran and Sunni Islamist Saudi Arabia and hope nobody feels froggy (thus keeping the Sauds in our pockets for "protection).

and, hey, if Iraqis die by the hundreds of thousands, just the price they pay for being unable to fight off vicious attacks. At least WE won't be killing them. AND, the Democrats can play political "finger pointing" games over "whose responsible".

and, in the utopian world, as soon as we leave, everyone hugs and becomes "like brothers" again.

How close am I?

AJL, I will answer your victory question later today when I have time (it'll be most of the day), but in the meantime, would you consider giving your own definition(s) of victory, given that you write as one who has become convinced of its impossibility? It seems to me that might generate some useful conversation, and perhaps a better understanding all around.

I won't get back to a computer for at least ten hours, but I will try to answer your question then in the detail it deserves.

-Piercello

Piercello, I'm cooking dinner for about 20 tonight; your request is very reasonable, but it won't be answered until tomorrow.

Thank you for actually talking sense on this issue. Although we may disagree on how the war is being fought, tactics, communications, etc., the thought of pulling out before a resolution ignores the consequences.

We can certainly disagree on a host of issues, but are we willing to consign teh Iraqi people to something akin to the killing fields of Cambodia? Even if a person disagrees with the war or why we went to war, one should at least hope both sides of the aisle could debate the best way to leave a stabalized Iraq, opposed to simpling leaving them to their own meat grinder.

You will most certainly be demonized and castigated as the left is so good at, but I suspect you have more intelligence to recognize the consequences of surrender more than those who simply want to leave 20 million people to a style of government that could best be described as fascist.

Good luck.

E

What is victory?

We talked about that, vis-ŗ-vis Iraq, in a thread some weeks ago.

Victory in any war - or in any "peace" - is when you succeed in getting the lesser of two (or more) evils; war itself being one of those evils.

War, peace, victory, and defeat are all highly relative terms - relative to each other, and relative to all values that produce human conflict. Pacifism and Militarism (two sides of the same counterfeit coin) both make the mistake of treating these things as absolutes, which have absolute values of good or evil.

So I overheard someone say the other day, "I don't see how anyone can be in favor of WAR." To which the answer might be, "I don't see how anyone can be in favor of Slavery, Nazism, Cicilian Piracy, or Persian Imperialism." Likewise, peace seems a much more desirable thing when Hannibal is at somebody else's gate. And of course, war is always less horrible when somebody else is fighting it.

Specifically in regard to Iraq, survival of the new government - in all its imperfection - is certainly key to any estimation of victory. All sides in this conflict (there are more two) realize that one of the stakes is the ability of an Arab nation to enjoy peaceful self-government, in which the rights and dignity of the individual is respected.

I believe it could happen. The Jihadists and the Saudi oligarchs would definitely prefer it didn't. Whatever happens will be taken as an object lesson for the entire region, and that will make the difference between war and peace for many future generations. A long cold "peace" of tyranny will kill far more people than this war ever could.

So what do you think, Andrew?

In #80, Armed called the Dem legislation the "so Hillary won't have to deal with the issue bill."

Do you really believe that prolonging the Iraq war into the election of '08 is really only going to hurt Hillary? Who do you think the American public blame for the war...the Clintons? Hillary? Please! If you don't think that Republicans are even more anxious to get this huge albatross from around their necks before '08, then you are only exposing yourself to the "Every Republican problem is a Democratic Problem in Disguise" propoganda line that is so pervasive in the media. Look where the strongest pro-Iraq war candidate (McCain) is in the polls...

Is that the best you can come up with? This is very unserious. You effiort to dismiss what the Dems are doing as being nothing more than a cold, selfish political calculation misses the target by the width of one of the chambers of congress. This is how the Republicans operate, obviously.

Then, you said this:

"Plus I'll note that Obama has just acknowledged that when Bush vetoes the bill, the Senate will simply pass a bill appropriating the funds for the war."

So, Obama "acknowledged" this, did he? To your ears maybe. I would strongly doubt that he is in a position to either gauge or influence everyone else's votes on this matter.

What's even more interesting is that your reading of this seems to be the exact opposite to what I think, and have heard, is a more likely possibility: That REPUBLICANS want the war to end before Nov 2008 (for political reasons...ouch!) and may side with the Dems to override Bush's veto. Petraus' little house call to the Republican Caucus was, perhaps, some evidence that this indeed may be the case.

I hope you can do better on the shooting range, because in this forum you are wildy, frighteningly way off the mark...maybe that's why I feel like ducking everytime I come visit!

Wei,

It depends on whether you have already decided the war has failed or not, as described in #84 upthread.

If the war is irretrievably lost already, then it makes sense to blame the president and the Republicans, especially if you believe it was lost specifically through their mismanagement or was unwillable in the first place.

On the other hand, if you believe, as AL evidently does, that victory in some form or other is still possible at this point in time, contingent on effective political leadership, then the Democrats have much to lose. If they are seen to have pulled to rug out from under a potentially winning strategy for reasons of politics rather than principle, they will be despised--unless they can make it look like Bush's fault.

It all depends on where you stand.

Please note that I regard ALL professional politicians as engaging in cold, selfish political calculation, occasionally leavened by higher principles (it's a professional job requirement).

Again, assuming the war is not yet lost but remains the single dominant issue, the politics of the situation seem to be aligned in such a way that the selfish Democrats can only gain further power if Iraq deteriorates and they can blame it on the R's, and the selfish Republicans can only regain power if it improves. For the Democrats to succeed politically, this war has to become moribund soon enough that their current leadership is not seen as a factor, and right now that means resisting the surge without appearing to. This alignment worries me.

Yes, I am painting with a very broad brush...

-Piercello

Thanks for this. I have pledged $100.

#91 Kat

(a) "Before you can secure anyone else, you have to be secure yourself. "

Sounds nice, Kat, but of course there's no way you're gonna convince anyone that invading and occupying Iraq, only one of many middle eastern and foreign countries that produce oil for western consumption (and by no means the largest) is or will make us more "energy secure". Certainly it has not made us more secure from terrorism, unless you want to argue that it is a net positive that there are now perhaps an order of magnitude more battle-hardened America-hating jihadis than there were before we invaded...

What's to stop the terrrorists from disrupting oil flow in a thousand other ways that don't require Iraq? There are pipelines running all over the damn globe....snaking throughout the middle east, russia, china and alaska...do we have troops guarding all of them?

Plus, oil flow out of Iraq was staunched for quite some time during the invasion. Did the US economy collapse? The world economy?

Please...this line of argument is preposterous.

(b)...you seemed to have missed this one, kiddo.

© Not sure what you're trying to say here...this is a rather rambling, stream-of-consciousness set of comments that frequently seems to return to questioning my grasp of reality. I'd hate to be the one to point this out to you, but it seems to me that the people who are the most likely to question other's perception of reality are the most insecure about their own.

"Still, I see no strategic reason, purpose or expected outcomes from you."

I think my position is fairly easy to distill from my comments, but why don't I just make it a little clearer for you:

1) The US should withdraw its forces from Iraq within a year or so. In it's place, we leave a trained Iraqi security force comprising elements from the current government.

2) We GET OVER the fact that we F&*^*&#d it up so badly there, prepare to write off the oil losses if necessary (miniscule and easily done) and get on with the business of trying to disrupt GLOBAL Al Qaeda operations. Hey, we might even be able to help repel their resurgence in Afghanistan.

3) Any further western-style security that the Iraqi government wants can be purchased on the open market using their own or international financlal resources buy hiring private security contractors like the ones that are currently operating in Iraq on the US Taxpayers nickel (and overcharging us criminally in the process).

There you have it.

Marc, your readers may also want to know about Families United:

Sites here and here

Armed Liberal,
Thank you for supporting our troops on the ground. Some of them are mine. I enjoy your post.

I want to point out an interchange - #92 from Piercello and #93 for Andrew Lazarus.

Mutual respect, and a recognition that we are engaging in a dialog among peers - who may deeply disagree.

I just wanted to thank you both deeply and a lot. My goal in doing this blog is - more than anything - to promote exactly this kind of discussion.

Now finish work and dinner, and come out debating...

A.L.

Thank you for what you're doing. I consider myself as someone on the center-right, but I admire the position you are taking, much the same way I've admired Sen. Leiberman's position. What's made me angry, frustrated, and despondent about today's Democrats is they're stuck in a time warp from more than 30 years ago. They think it's Vietnam all over again, that we can just apply the same solutions, and that the same things will happen. In a way, I feel like they're revelling in this. They remember Vietnam as a time of great conflict, but also a great victory for them. I get this sense that they'd like to return to those "glory days", as perverted as that sounds.

What I really wish we'd see from the Democrats is an alternate plan for victory in the War on Terror. I'm all for entertaining ideas. If Bush is wrong, don't just say he's wrong. Put your agenda for victory on the table, and I'll listen. If I think it's good I'll support it. I wouldn't care that it's a Democratic plan. I'm an American first. I don't consider "pull the troops out", and "talk to Iran and Syria" as moves in that direction. Iran and Syria are part of the problem, with the way they've been acting, not the solution.

The reason I've supported Bush as long as I have is because I feel like it's him, some Republicans, and maybe one or two Democrats (including Leiberman) who support the idea of actually winning. The rest are out to lunch. I get the sense that they don't understand the enemy we're fighting, or that we're even in a war. They're more concerned about preserving government resources in the short term. There's no sense of proportion about what's at stake for our country, not to mention the Iraqis.

I, too, have been frustrated with Bush's lack of communication to the American people about this war. He has made efforts to communicate what's going on and why in the past (usually around election time), but he hasn't "closed the sale", as it were, on it. It's almost as if he'd rather not talk about it at all. Maybe that level of persuasion is beyond his abilities, which would be unfortunate. The country needs to be made aware of what's really at stake and why success is necessary, not just a point on a scoreboard.

I get frustrated hearing about the situation in Darfur. I want us to help out with that. I hear some liberals say we should do it, but I suspect some of them are the same people pushing for a pullout from Iraq. I find this terribly ironic. The reality is we are doing the work we would be doing in Darfur, in Iraq now. Our military is helping the Iraqi people, defending peoples lives from militants, and contractors are doing reconstruction work. Pulling out now would not reassure the world that we would do a good job with Darfur. Helping in Darfur could put us in the same "quagmire" as exists in Iraq. All you need do is look at what happened in Somalia in 1993. It didn't get to the point of a "qaugmire" there, but had we stayed long enough it might very well have. These wars are sometimes complicated. It's force of will that wins them.

Given the lack of support for our involvement in Iraq I doubt those who support intervention in Darfur could muster public support for doing it at this point. If people are tired of Iraq, people are going to ask, "Why get involved in another mess?"

#91, I don't think your last 7 points are all that far off. They align with many of the issues I listed in #54. Other posters have addressed some of them (when they got past snarking).

1) Cede control of Iraq to Iranian dominated ...

T for true. Already in place.

2) Open talks with Iran ... because an unstable Iraq is unstable for the Iranians as well ...

And they will work to stabilize once we withdraw. The amount of their complicity is less than some think - see McCaffrey link below.

3) Understand that the 60% Shia population will most likely continue a very aggressive policy of removal or death of Sunni Arab Iraqis in an attempt to drive out al Qaida and other insurgents ...

Based on the link below and other reading, I think AQ's presence is smaller than many think and they are in Iraq because we are. If we leave, they will either leave or be killed once the power struggle resolves.

And a better analysis is; the country is partitioning de facto. Neighborhoods or town where the sects once mixed, intermarried, etc. are now voting with their feet for partition and survival. Once this is achieved you will have something like Lebanon with truces between armed camps. I blame AQ for tipping them over, but re-integration will take a long time and it is better for the Iraqis to have some segregation now.

4) If all Sunni and Shia become totally radicalized, then many more will leave Iraq, causing a great refugee issue ...

What is there to stop refugees returning if each has a base in the country that accepts them?

5) Open direct talks with Iran to mitigate its worst tendencies towards nukes and economic minefields.

We blew that when we invaded Iraq and didn't negotiate with them while the shock and awe was fresh in their minds. I don't have high hopes, we are paying nuclear blackmail to DPRK and I don't see how the EU will avoid it with Iran.

6) Despotic Iran remains intact for another 50 years ...

I don't see any political base with the will to attack Iran. Not sure this Iraq detour has really changed anything. We may be better off isolating them economically and letting their aging demographic tone them down.

7) Set up "friction play" between Shia Islamist Iran and Sunni Islamist Saudi Arabia ...

Concur 100%. Divide and rule. Workable, cost effective, bastardly, but oh well.

While my heart is with you and your argument to hold on, I fear the situation is grim, and we should be analyzing how to cushion a potential fall.

The following is a good non sugar coated analysis.

Barry R. McCaffrey No choice: Stay the course in Iraq

The only problem is, after laying it out, he says stay the course. Basis: None - give General Petreaus till September and we will see where we are.

Fine. But plan for the worst case and accept that it is likely upon us.

AJL, I'm still lacing up my debatin' shoes for a definition of victory, and I'm out of time again--I haven't forgotten! And AL, thanks for maintaining and encouraging an environment in which this kind of conversation is possible.

Avedis: "I am not at all clear as to why it worse when bad people kill 3,000 all at once or kill 25,000 a year in ones, twos and threes."

Firstly, Because when the damage is

1)widely distributed
2)within local tolerance levels at any point, and
3)accounted for by existing social and institutional frameworks

it is not nearly so bad.

What do you think would happen if instead of killing 10,000 people more or less at random across the nation, drunk drivers all got together, had one massive booze-binge, and slaughtered 10,000 people in, say, Miami, over a weekend?

9-11, and the response to it, shut down New York City. The damage to the nation far exceeded a random loss of 3000 people across the country.

Secondly, consider whether or not the threat is static. Drunk driving is a social ill- like many others, it can be forced up or down only incrementaly. Terror, though, comes to us from a foreign movement. It has the capability, if unchecked, to ramp up dramatically. We get all frantic about bird flue when a duck dies- how many Americans have died of it? But we know that a sudden breakout of an epidemic is possible. How many deaths do we have from Global Warming? Yet, we take it seriously, because we recognize the threat is not static.

And no one at all has died in the USA from asteroid impact!

Terror deaths are not simply a statistical background noise, like a dying duck, they can be harbingers of a dreadful change in conditions.

Thirdly, Terror deaths are different from accidental deaths or disease deaths in that they are caused By Someone. That makes it special. When People cause death, it's a crime. When they do so with the prior intent to cause death, it's murder. Society has an obligation to take extreme action, even action that in pure economic terms outweighs the initial cost of the murder, to create a deterrent, or rectify the social conditions that lead to the murder. When a SOCIETY supports these kinds of crimes rather than treating it as a social ill, the entire society is pathological and must be dealt with from the outside. One crucial but undiscussed difference between murder and terror is that a murderer does not have broad social approval anywhere.

Iraq? It is commonly understood that social conditions are an element of crime. Social conditions in the middle east generate terrorism. Saddam, by openly lauding the success of the 9-11 terror attacks, by creating a positive image of a terror-approving, America-defying strongman, was creating a social atmosphere conducive to further attacks of that kind. It could not be allowed to persist in the post 9-11 world, any more than the US government, given the bizarre but rhetorical Miami scenario above, would tolerate a city mayor who openly approved of it, and praised the outcome.

Ben

<#105>

I can easily come up with a definition of "victory" that we have already achieved, making further involvement or withdrawal irrelevant. So what's the point in debating someones use of a very, very open-ended term?

For instance, I think that Victory has already been achieved by many measures. Saddam has been deposed. The US forces are stably occupying Iraq. There is a newly-elected government in place. Iraqi security forces are stepping up. Rebuilding is underway.

Mission Accomplished. Let's get our kids home.

From the kinds of things that some people on this thread are saying, Victory will only have been achieved when a set of circumstances so improbable or impossible to predict are achieved. Hence, we can not "leave" before then or it will be an "admission of defeat"....in their book.

It's nothing more than a game of political semantics, and it's not relevant to the issue at hand: Is it in our best national interest to continue in Iraq as we have been, or should we increase or decrease our involvement?

The sooner we realize that we cannot possibly occupy Iraq or control the ME by military force forever, the better.

Reading some of the defeatist posts I'm hearing the message "Let the ME work this out". To which I say, "What? We don't have a say in how this turns out?" You're kidding, right? There's also a sense that what we're confronting in Iraq is just a natural part of the region. That's a legitimate argument. I've occasionally heard about the history of the Barbary Pirates, which we had to confront not too long after the United States was founded. This radicalism has a long history.

What this view ignores, however, is that this conflict is being driven largely by radical Islamist elements, and governments in the region who benefit from the jihadist political agenda. I don't see it as entirely a grassroots uprising against our occupation.

The whole point of the GWOT is to defeat and suppress radical Islamist elements in the ME that either threaten us now, or could do so in the future, while at the same time providing some space for elements of Islam who are not violently anti-American to gain a power base. We've accomplished this in Afghanistan. We're attempting to do the same in Iraq.

Were we to abandon Iraq before the government is capable of sustaining itself, we would provide open ground for the radical Sunnis, the radical Shia, and the Ba'athists. Granted, they would fight each other, but I don't think we could root for any side to win. In the meantime, we'd force moderate Arabs in the region, by the circumstances, to make a few choices: to pick a side (thereby increasing their strength), die, or leave. Granted, this has been happening, but if we left, it would only accelerate. Us being there has put a damper on this destructive activity. Yes, you heard me right. It would get much worse if we left.

The radical Shia would then have Iran (as they've had since 1979), in whatever state it ends up in, and they would either have Iraq as well, or it would end up in the hands of Al Qaeda (turning it into another Afghanistan--remember, Afghanistan is on Iran's border, too, yet Al Qaeda was able to hold its own against Iran), or it would end up in the hands of the Ba'athists again (Saddam Hussein, The Sequel). The Ba'athist holdouts are a significant part of the Sunni insurgency. In fact, Saddam Hussein's former vice-president, Ibrahim al Duri, is running it for the most part--we still haven't found him. Considering all of these options, I think they're worse than what we have now. I've heard it said by many soldiers who've served in Iraq that we need to stay and fight this out, or else we're just going to have to send soldiers in there to fight and die 10 years from now. There's no avoiding this problem.

Another question that's been asked is, "How do we define victory?" As little currency as President Bush has among most Americans now, I'd use his definition: A country that can sustain and defend itself, and which is a "good neighbor" in the world, as much as it can be. I don't expect that the insurgency will end, and that we'll see an end to terrorist attacks in Iraq by the time we leave. I'm not a perfectionist. I've heard a few say that we should train the Iraqi military and leave them behind to defend their own country, as if we're not doing it now. Hello! That's what we ARE doing! Some provinces have already been turned over entirely to the Iraqi government/military, because they have the strength to do it. My point is, obviously, the job is not done yet.

On Victory:

The highest goal of American foreign policy must be—I don't think this is controversial—the security of American citizens and American property from violence. For this reason, military action against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and their Taliban co-conspirators was necessary after 9/11, and the degree of victory there corresponds to our success in dismantling their network.

Now, a secondary, but still important goal of American policy should (but under Bush has not been) promoting democracy and international respect for the rule of law, both internal and external, because that's the sort of world in which personal security will flourish and terrorism fail. Mind you, this isn't a universal statement: democracy in Egypt would probably be good for anti-American terrorism, and even more so given our inability to root out terrorists in Afghanistan completely.

In this setting, and given (1) no Saddam 9/11 connection and (2) no Saddam WMD, just what "victory" we could achieve in Iraq even from the get-go was problematic. From my perspective, even a "successful" invasion, in the sense of what postwar Iraq looked like, wouldn't have compensated for adopting a policy of regime overthrow that sounded something similar to the USSR's supremacy over the Warsaw Pact. This is not the view of most of the posters here, whose desire squash terrorism with some show of National Will is best encapsulated by the repulsive Goldberg/Ledeen doctrine: Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business. (We are now learning the lessons of the Nazis in Yugoslavia and the Soviets in Afghanistan, that this cavalier doctrine is risky in practice.) I think this explains why so many of the recantations of the originally pro-war are so much more eloquent that those of us who were against the war all the way: expecting bad faith from the Rove/Bush machine and looking at very little upside made the case easy. And the greeted-with-flowers drivel, that I dismissed even before we invaded.

So now that we're in Iraq, what does victory there look like? Well, as I said, although we've lost, like a team out of the playoffs we can still in theory influence who wins. Good news for us is a more secular and less theocratic government (hah!), and a government that adheres to the rule of law with respect to its own citizens (double hah!), and a government able to guarantee this physical safety of its own citizens within the constraints of the rule of law. As far as I can see, our ability to create this, in practice, is close to zero. It would probably have been much higher if our initial occupation had not been so phenomenally maladroit. Even our "surge" does nothing, at this point, but move the killing of Iraqis from one part of Iraq to another. We would do well to re-orient our strategy towards how to make post-occupation Iraq a less hostile place (e.g., reconstruction aid not diverted to US contractors, abandoning plans to establish permanent military bases in Iraq) instead of thinking some 10 percent increase in patrol levels is what's between the current chaos and carnage and successful pacification.

All right--I'm back for more. Lots of great stuff to respond to! I'll try to catch up.

Wei, the point to debating definitions of context-dependent terms like "victory" is to figure out whether our viewpoints are as irreconcilable as they might otherwise seem. It happens often enough that people who are convinced they disagree are in fact talking past one another, and not actually in disagreement at all, so it is worth investigating.

Certainly the United States and our military have been unequivocally victorious over Saddam Hussein's government and military. No argument there. That victory, however, does not in itself resolve the larger strategic threat posed by terrorism, specifically that exported terrorism locally produced and incubated in the greater Middle East.

We won a battle (irrespective of whether it was/is a relevant battle, which is another argument), but we have not yet won the larger war. The strategic consequences of leaving Iraq before it can protect itself sufficiently from the wolves without and within (again, whether or not this is actually possible for it to achieve, and whatever you take "sufficiently" to mean) will be utterly disastrous for the war as a whole.

I'm purposefully trying to be very broad here, because our best chances at meaningful debate come from identifying the specific areas of disagreement.

Rightly or wrongly, we deliberately created a power vacuum in the middle of a terror-exporting region inimical to the US. The way I see it, the overall strategic thinking behind such a move had several components, among them:

in the short term, decisive removal of a bad actor in the region, hopefully also providing the friendly neighborhood terror sponsors with some deterrence on two levels (our willingness to use force before being directly attacked, and the resulting robust US military presence in the region);

and

in the long term, raising up a substantially freer and more prosperous Iraq to act as a societal counterexample to the Jihadist exporters, ideally having its hybrid strength infect their closed societies with liberalizing change, incidentally breaking their governments' ideological stranglehold on their populations' information access. This, by the way, would constitute stunning, decisive, total victory. It can also fairly be called a (very) high stakes gamble, or with some justification a pipe dream.

We've pretty well succeeded with the short term stuff, given as evidence the destruction of Baathist Iraq and the absence of other catastrophic terror attacks in on US interests so far, excluding the war zone; the question now is a) whether or b) to what extent that long term best case extra-rosy scenario can be achieved. There are, essentially, three possible positions for (a):

1) No, we burned that bridge already, so let's cut our losses as shrewdly as we can;

2) We can still succeed, but the path we're on doesn't go to the bridge, it heads off the cliff;

3) We can still make it, and we are headed in essentially the right direction (even if we don't know how far it is to the bridge and are tired of walking).

The second part, the "to what extent," has to do with what's on the other side of the bridge, which we can't see too well on account of the mists. As yet unstated are the costs of failure in Iraq (which I believe to be dire), and a decent weighing of the benefits of success of whatever degree against the expense in lives and treasure, which probably can't be calculated in advance anyway and therefore makes for fuzzy arguing.

I'm not picking up a lot of disagreement on the dire consequences of failing in Iraq, so I won't address that one unless asked to. It seems to me that the nut of the disagreement is centered on whether the Iraq campaign has failed/can still succeed, and I'll return to that tomorrow in a new comment. It's getting late where I am, and this one's too long already!

-Piercello

Interesting stuff, Piercello, and especially:

"the question now is a) whether or b) to what extent that long term best case extra-rosy scenario can be achieved."

That is a question that deserves some thought. If I may, let's define "long term best case scenario" as an Iraqi culture that has adopted contemporary western social norms.

If so, to answer "whether?" with "no, they can't" begs the question of timescale. Does saying "no" mean that never, no how, no way can Iraq adopt modern thought? After all, a great many places that are currently very progressive in outlook were once barbaric, tribal cultures- Scandinavia? Saying "no" then either indicts the entire culture as being beyond hope as some impossibly viral meme for which there is no cure, or implies that it's perhaps genetic.

Does anyone go that far as to beleive that Iraq is at a cultural dead end?

I think that not only the goal, but the time frame we are willing to think over must be considered. If we think in terms of Scandinavian transformation from pirates and raiders to their current culture, how long is too long for this? How much effort is too much?

Ben

All this talk of "stop loss points" is ridiculous. Life is NOT a p0ker game; the only way to "get up and leave the table" is to commit suicide, and there are too many on the left who happily counsel individuals, organizations, and even entire races to do just that... the "greatest expression of pure pacifism" as Ghandi called it.

Games have stop loss points. Life is not a game.

Back to the "Pork" accusation, I thought you'd all be interested in this article.

I've bolded some passages that I think are important.

Dems, Bush skittish over war-money veto
By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - It's a given that President Bush will veto the big Iraq money bill that sets a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops. The question is whether he'll veto the next version if it contains what he calls "excessive and extraneous" non-war spending.

Bush is talking tough, as are Democrats on Capitol Hill. But there are signs that both sides want to avoid a second veto.

While the president and Republicans have criticized both House and Senate Iraq bills for including such "pork" spending as $74 million to help peanut farmers store their crops and $25 million for California spinach producers, those types of easy-to-mock items make up a tiny fraction of the $20 billion or so added by Democrats.

GOP critics have been mostly silent or supportive of add-ons such as $4 billion-plus for medical care for veterans and troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, up to $6.7 billion for more hurricane relief along the Gulf Coast and $745 million to cover shortfalls in providing health care to children of the working poor.

Bush blames Democrats for adding "billions of dollars in domestic spending that is completely unrelated to the war. ... These may be emergencies, they may be problems, but they can be addressed in the normal course of business. They don't need to be added on to a bill that's supporting our troops."

Democrats reply that Bush has routinely accepted non-war items on prior war funding bills, such as a $2 billion border fence to keep Mexicans and others from entering the country illegally.

And last year, powerful Gulf Coast Republicans such as Thad Cochran (news, bio, voting record) and Trent Lott (news, bio, voting record) of Mississippi successfully pressed for billions of dollars above Bush's prior requests for Hurricane Katrina relief.

Bush's veto threats regarding the Democrats' add-ons have been purposefully vague. In official policy statements, the White House doesn't specify which "excessive and extraneous" items would draw a veto, and it won't set a "top line" figure that it's willing to accept.

That's a change from dealings with GOP leaders when Republicans controlled Capitol Hill.

For example, White House statements don't even mention approximately $4 billion in farm disaster aid sought by lawmakers in both parties. Just last December, it vowed to veto a mostly identical plan.

"As we get closer to understanding how the House and Senate come out of this, we'll be in a position to be more specific," White House Budget Director Rob Portman said in an interview with The Associated Press.

On Thursday, the White House took the Democrats to task for focusing on items other than the war. "The Democrats ... spent the last four weeks cobbling together votes, adding $24 billion in spending for spinach and some tropical birds or fish and shrimp, things like that," said spokesman Gordon Johndroe, who was with Bush in Texas.

"The president is crying crocodile tears about the fact that the Congress has not yet passed his take-it-or-leave-it spending request for the Iraq war," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis. "The president needs to stop his huffing and puffing and recognize that he is no longer dealing with a rubber stamp Congress. There must be compromise."

Portman says that most of the non-war-related money is simply a way to use the must-pass bill to get around limits set on the amount of spending otherwise at the control of Congress' powerful appropriations committees.

Items such as heating subsidies for the poor or additional money to combat wildfires "should be dealt with in the normal appropriations process," Portman said. "There's no reason they have to be in the (Iraq) supplemental."

Republican conservatives in Congress are eager for a showdown over spending. More than 150 House Republicans have pledged to sustain a veto issued over the spending add-ons.

It's plain Democrats are hoping to avoid a veto over non-war-related funding. They find themselves already on the defensive to Bush's claim that delaying in providing more money for the war is going to harm troops overseas, even though defense budget experts question that assertion.

The White House criticism is likely to continue as House and Senate Democrats struggle to piece together a compromise bill after the House returns from a two-week recess on April 16.

House Democrats have considered splitting the non-war items from the Iraq funding and sending them to Bush separately as a way to blunt GOP attacks. The idea has met resistance from the Senate and seems to be fading, however.

As Republicans learned many times in their dealings with President Clinton ó starting with the politically disastrous partial government shutdowns of 1995-96 ó a president with a veto pen and the "bully pulpit" is a dangerous adversary.

The outcome in this key test of wills between Bush and the new Democratic-controlled Congress defies easy prediction.

"Usually you can figure these things out and you know what the end game play is going to be," said Tim Keating, top lobbyist for Honeywell International Inc. "I have no clue yet."

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