Democrats & Liberals Archives

Slowly Coming Around

The Marines consider Iraq’s al-Anbar province lost to the Sunni insurgency, according to a new assessment. When the Marine commander in the area was asked for comments, he said something surprising: “My mission out here, along with the rest of the force, is to develop the ISF (Iraqi security forces), and I think we have the appropriate force levels to do that.”

"Now, if that mission statement changes -- if there is seen a larger role for coalition forces out here to win that insurgency fight -- then that is going to change the metrics of what we need out here." Fascinating. The Marines' mission is not to fight the insurgents.

...And rightly so. Our military is finally facing the reality of waging a counter-insurgency campaign -- the insurgents and their supporters among the population are not the enemy; they are the prize. "For lasting progress to take place, comparably effective advances must be made in the development of governmental and economic institutions at the local, provincial and national levels. Only then, will the people of Al Anbar be able to realize their goal of long-term security, prosperity and confidence in their government," said Marine Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer.

I say, Hallelujia! The military finally gets it. They finally identified the center of gravity in this war -- the Sunni population -- and altered their tactics to match the battlespace: Not a military defeat of the insurgency -- an impossible task -- but facilitating a lasting political solution to Iraq's sectarian violence. And it's no mistake that's the strategy Democrats have been pushing for years, most recently in their Real Security Act of 2006:

The Real Security Act begins the transition of U.S. forces to a more limited mission of training and logistics support of Iraqi security forces, protection of U.S. personnel and facilities, and targeted counterterrorism activities. This legislation does not establish a timeline for withdrawal. Rather, it urges that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces begin before the end of the year.

The crucial battles in Iraq will be fought over the negotiating table between Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders. Victory in Iraq will be a political -- not a military -- victory We must draw down our regular troops, and deploy more Special Forces to train the Iraqi military -- a task they're specifically trained to accomplish -- and subordinate the remnants of our regular forces to supporting Civil Affairs teams training Iraqi police, rebuilding infrastructure and creating democratic institutions -- a task CA units are specifically trained to do.

The regular Army is trained only to destroy things -- a task for which it is superbly trained, but which is counterproductive in a counter-insurgency campaign. They are now part of the problem and Democrats are right to call for their redeployment. (For more info on winning a counter-insurgency campaign, google 4GW. "The Sling and the Stone" and "The War of the Running Dogs" are also excellent and very readable references)

It's been said that only liberals can win the war on terror. I believe this to be true. It's a fact that the war on terror -- the struggle for democracy in the developing world and for the hearts and minds of its people -- will be won in the socio-political and economic arenas, not on the battlefield. This is a war that Democrats are inherently suited to win. This is also obvious to al Qaeda which endorsed George W. Bush's re-election in 2004,

It is not possible to find a leader, "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom. Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization. Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

Well, the terrorists got their wish and we got a further two years of failed policy in Iraq. But even though President Bush can no longer achieve the goals he set out at the beginning of the Iraq War, it looks like our military's strategy and tactics are finally aligning with that of Democrats. If our political leadership has the competence and ability to follow their lead, Iraq may not end up a complete loss and we can change course to victory in the war on terror.

Posted by American Pundit at September 13, 2006 12:22 AM
Comment #180982

Seems it would have been appropriate to credit Bill Clinton with the concept of the people being the prize, which Bill so eloquently elaborated on 9/11 on C-Span, and which he in turn credited to a writer and book he read. Bill Clinton was awesome in his mostly non-partisan analysis of the situation in Iraq. He gets it. He gets it because he reads voraciously. Bush, he doesn’t get it. He scans books introduction pages so he can claim to have handled 20 books in his lifetime.

(A little exaggerated, but, not much). Try asking Bush who wrote Theory of Moral Sentiment. Then try asking Clinton. Dollars to joebagodonuts Clinton will answer Adam Smith, and Bush will answer, GOD!

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2006 2:18 AM
Comment #180987

The real traitor, and it is time to use strong words, is Bush. Whether it be his stupidity, his lack of a real education as opposed to a frat boy’s cheat notes, his climbing into bed with fascist cronies, or his bullying which disguises his basic cowardice - I do not know for sure. I suspect the place we find ourselves as a nation is brought on by a combination of all of the above.

Lately, I often feel like one of the informed few in pre-Nazi dominated Germany. Like Keith Olbermann and his commentary about the unconsecrated 9/11 ground, we who possess some ability to discern must, absolutely must, stand up and be counted against this mad man who is leading us to hell while claiming quite falsely to be divinely inspired. Take note and wake up or it will end up with the Bush fascists leading us to a place that even the ultra right wing will finally recognize as a place unlike the America we have cherished in the pre-Bush past.

By the way, I do not expect most Bush supporters to understand this commentary. Their nearsightedness is astounding.

Posted by: Stephen Brockway at September 13, 2006 5:24 AM
Comment #180988


Now before all the trolls come out and spew their usual nonsense and daily Rovian talking points allow me to explain:

What is the motivation, what is the ultimate goal of OBL and his supporters? Many of you will no doubt say the total destruction of our nation, and the establishment of an Islamic theocracy in its place. While he may have fantasies of such things, I doubt OBL really believes he could ever be capable of such a feat. In reality OBL wants the entire muslim world to unite under the strict version of Islam that he and his people teach, and the only people with the knowledge and so called moral fortitude to lead such an entity is of course OBL and his direct supporters. His people tried to achieve this through political means, but most of the citizens thought they were whackos and told them to get lost. It was then that OBL and his supporters realized that what was preventing their religious/political takeover from materializing was the corrupting influence of western culture. The people didn’t want to give up their TV, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Disco music, and other amenities of the modern industrial world, nor did they want to give up their liberties to a one party oppressive theocratic state. Granted, most of them were already living in one party oppressive states, many we helped create, but at least they had their TV’s and Disco music so it wasn’t entirely bad.

If the muslim people would not willingly give up the western culture they had come to embrace then OBL would never achieve his goal, so he set about a new plan to destroy the image of western culture, which would in turn galvanize the people to reject all things associated with the west, most importantly its ideologies. By making the west appear as all things evil and the deliverer of destruction in the eyes of muslims, OBL and his followers would in contrast be seen as all things good and the leaders of a righteous cause. While previous attacks had failed in their mission to enrage the populace of America, the attacks of 9/11 were meant to be of such an enormous magnitude that there would be no doubt that we would scream for revenge. Instead of having to deal with the usual response of covert retaliations, and good old police methods, OBL knew we would be playing right into his hands with a full scale invasion, and an occupation of the region. Instead of using precise tactics and eliminating only the enemy we invaded with full force which inevitably lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. Most of us were either too blinded by bloodlust or too busy to care about the loss of innocent life on the other side of the world, and it is with that callous disregard that we continue to lose the hearts and minds of the muslim world everyday. The actions of our country over the last five years has tarnished the image of our once glorious nation, and turned a generation of muslims against us and our culture, and sent them right into the open arms of an evil prophet.

That is why Osama Bin Laden is winning.

Posted by: bushflipflops at September 13, 2006 5:29 AM
Comment #180991


I disagree.

I would submit that OBL has already won.

When the right in this country decided that anyone who disagreed with this nebulous creation called “The War on Terror”, was a traitor and their words treasonous, OBL could have, and should have, declared victory.

Posted by: Rocky at September 13, 2006 6:06 AM
Comment #180993

AP, I agree that the approach recommended by the Marine Corps commander is the only intelligent one to pursue. I just wonder if the political infrastructure in there in Iraq to rebuild a nation. It seems that are few if any leaders who seek to build Iraq as a nation of all of its parts. They all seem to only want the ascendancy of their own particular tribe/religious group.

Meanwhile, Pakistan withdraws from Waziristan and effectively gives free rein to the Taliban/Al Qaeda alliance to do what it wishes. This is where the hard core of the terrorist ideology and organisation and inspiration is situated. In all likelihood, this is where Al Zawahiri and Bin Laden, if he is still operational, are based. Surely if Pakistan is ceding control of this region to these people and is therefore not prepared to take responsibility for it, then the onus is on the US is to take the battle there?

The war on terrorism will not be won in Iraq. It can only be won by effective policing guided by effective intelligence. From time to time, hard military resources will be needed where no effective civilised government can or will act, such as in waziristan. George Bush said there would be no hiding place for Bin Laden or Al Qaeda, and yet they can thumb their noses from there. Is anyone seriously suggesting that the US could not clear out this nest of vipers, if the will was there to do it? That leads me to two possible conclusions, either GW Bush is too stupid to see it, or else his puppetmasters who control his strings ( and whisper into his earpieces to keep him on message ) don’t actually want to win the war on terror. For their own nebulous reasons, they want to see unending conflict and never ending war. Truly, the Beast is stalking the shadows of the stage and many of those who think themselves good Christians are his faithful dupes in the march to Amageddon

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at September 13, 2006 7:00 AM
Comment #180995

This was on CNN. Pretty disturbing.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 13, 2006 7:50 AM
Comment #180998


Posted by: m at September 13, 2006 7:58 AM
Comment #180999

Amamzing do you know that this blog will block you if you try to say something anti liberal or democrat - well whats new they have controlled the vast amjority of the media for the last 20 - now they are doign it here!!


Posted by: m at September 13, 2006 8:00 AM
Comment #181006

David Remer:

I am glad that my presence, or even the mere thought of my presence, has immersed itself in your spirit, so that you find it not necessary, but perhaps desirable to mention me in a thread that didn’t include me.

Dollars to joebagodonuts Clinton will answer Adam Smith, and Bush will answer, GOD!

I am truly honored. :)

Clinton, in my opinion, had his chance to deal with Iraq in a proactive manner. He preferred to not deal directly with the problem to an extent that produced lasting results. He launched a pre-emptive military bombing attack on Iraq that had some effect, but he did not have the desire or stones (you decide which) to follow up on it. Perhaps he was too busy reading books to take decisive action.

Bush on the other hand took very decisive action. Perhaps too decisive, some would say. But he faced the problem head on that had festered for 12 years.

Part of defeating a group like Al Queda is weakening them, tightening the noose around their finances and putting a crimp in their communications networks. Another part is strengthening the Iraqi forces to enable them to deal directly with the war on the ground. That we have done both of these things is a good thing—both areas need much further work.


Truly, the Beast is stalking the shadows of the stage and many of those who think themselves good Christians are his faithful dupes in the march to Amageddon

I tire of the oblique references to Bush attempting to bring on Armageddon. If one believes in the Bible and therefore in Armageddon, then the thought that man alone can bring on Armageddon by his own doing is silliness. If Armageddon occurs, it will be by the will and hand of someone far more powerful than mere men. Bush, as do other world leaders, has the power to bring war to the world, but no man has the power to bring about Armageddon.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 13, 2006 9:21 AM
Comment #181008

Sorry to bust your bubble “m” but no intelligent posts get blocked.
Just try a intelligent post once [or even a close to intelligent]

Posted by: TheSavage at September 13, 2006 9:25 AM
Comment #181015


What you seem to be ignoring (perhaps I am mistaken) is that we made Iraq a battle zone for fighting Al Qaeda. It was not originally one. Please keep this in mind, when you state your strategy for defeating Al Qaeda as it is important to remember that they are there because we are. I will concur with the statements made by you and AP that NOW one of the keys to victory in Iraq (and only in Iraq) is the training of their ground forces, and I give kudos to the individuals who have known this all along and have been pushing for it.

However what must also be acknowledged is that Bush’s decisive action weakened us in the Middle East in our dealings with Iran. No doubt you are aware of the many times the US used the confrontation in Iraq and Iran to its own benefit, allowing these two nations to keep each other in check. Now we have occupied/liberated (whichever you prefer) Iraq and Iran is stronger than ever. Granted there are other reasons for this too, but without another challenge to the Middle East, Iran has carte blanche in the area, and has been known/still is known to support terrorist activity. An independent, democratic Iraq will aid in this, but how far away is that from being accomplished?

Just some thoughts.

-Tom B

Posted by: Tom B at September 13, 2006 10:24 AM
Comment #181017

Tom B:

You raise a good point about Iran. They see where our assets are being used, and they are pushing forward in part because of that. That shows how ineffective the rest of the world is in keeping nuclear weapons under control. The UN, without the military support of the US, is a crippled dog with no teeth. I’m not sure just letting the situation remain dormant would have improved things much, but at the present time, Iran is certainly a concern.

I recognize that we chose to go into Iraq. I’ve thought all along it was the right choice, given Saddam’s 12 years of thumbing his nose at the UN and the US. We could have just gone after the Taliban, but I don’t think we’d have had much impact on Al Queda as a whole. But it certainly was an option on the table.

I think the real danger that Saddam posed was his intention to undo the sanctions. If he managed that, and he was working hard on it and had much support even here in the good ole US of A (remember the 50,000 children who were dying annually who have now been forgotten), then the world would have been a much more dangerous place. Its dangerous now too, so there was no zero sum option, in my opinion.

I hope that the Middle East stabilizes as a result of our actions. Remember, the tide is always lowest just before it turns. The MidEast has gotten worse, but the “turn” is there.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 13, 2006 10:52 AM
Comment #181045
Remember, the tide is always lowest just before it turns. The MidEast has gotten worse, but the “turn” is there.

…somewhere. The question is, how do we get to the corner. For the last three and a half years the Bush administration’s been telling us things are as bad as they’re going to get, but we’re turning the corner — but things keep getting worse.

The Marines are now fighting the counter-insurgency war that Dems pushed for (though still with the wrong force mix), but a successful counter-insurgency operation is primarily political and is always be run by a civilian commander. I don’t see the Bush administration putting the political component into play in Iraq.

This may be the “turn”, but if the Bush administration doesn’t recognize it and won’t listen to Democrats who understand the nature of this war they’ll go careening off into defeat.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 13, 2006 12:36 PM
Comment #181101


if you really believe this site is liberally censored, surely you would not want to aid in this site’s popularity by participating on it, eh?

Posted by: Managing Editor at September 13, 2006 3:16 PM
Comment #181109

JBOD, there are two kinds of war we can fight. Defensive action in which we are attacked, which brings the nation together and drives victory against our enemies if effective leadership and coordination can guide the people’s defense.

The other kind is where politicians decide to fight another nation overseas which has not attacked us. That will leave our nation divided and lacking the backing and full resources of the people to win. Viet Nam and Iraq are two explicit examples.

Also remember, this latter kind of war is one in which politicians think “Oh yes, let’s you and them fight”, for it is not the politicians that enter the battlefield but the people. Clinton knew better than to divide our nation invading Iraq. Bush missed history class when teaching about the Viet Nam war.

It really is that simple. There was no way this country was going to unite around invading Iraq and making the U.S. responsible for all the consequences of that action. And it hasn’t. And it WON’T. The lesson was learned in Viet Nam. The nation is paying for Bush having to play catchup on his education.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2006 3:41 PM
Comment #181124


We disagree on your conclusions but not on some of your points. You are correct that the nation would never be united in fighting Iraq. Neither was our nation united over fighting in Viet Nam, Korea, WWII or even the Civil War. War divides people, yet sometimes it is necessary. Even in a war considered just, namely WWII, there were loud and vocal opponents of war who wanted the US to stay out. In that war, they were a great minority yet they were there. Every war has divided our country, not just the last two.

Second point: Can you name a war in which the politicians fought? I can’t, unless you are referring to the children of politicians. And I would prefer a time such as during WWII where fighting for one’s country was considered an honor, rather than a stupid decision.

My opinion is and has been that Saddam Hussein without sanctions was far more dangerous than we could afford. We don’t know what he would have done, since he wasn’t allowed to get there. Therefore, that path is a theoretical one, yet not one that should be discarded, nor one that should be assumed to be free of danger.

The problem is that many see the picture as Saddam never having attacked the United States, never having had a nuclear option, never fighting openly against us—-their reason is that he HAD not done it and their assumption is that once free of the sanctions, he still never would do it. But logically, that’s a faulty premise. Truthfully, we don’t know what he would have done, because we didn’t allow him to put that choice on the table.

That’s where you and I disagree. I think Saddam was a true danger IFFF he got rid of the sanctions. You don’t seem to think so, or you think he would not have gotten off the sanctions. I believe it is there that we disagree.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 13, 2006 4:59 PM
Comment #181218

I think that Saddam knew that taking on the US would be a mistake, and hence, even if he got rid of the sanctions he still wouldn’t have been a danger. At least not as much as Iran still, and because the two countries were opposition to each other, one always needed to be friendly to the US. But this is mere speculation, and debating it is most likely pointless.

Suffice it to say, I think we all agree that what’s occuring now in Iraq is the right way forward, regardless as to who is responsible for the direction.

-Tom B

Posted by: Tom B at September 14, 2006 9:58 AM
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