Democrats & Liberals Archives

Turning-the-Tide Strategy

Exit strategy? Yes, we need to get out of Iraq, but no, we do not want an exit strategy, which implicates us as losers, thus emboldening terrorist groups. How do we get out of Iraq not as victors - an impossibility at this point - but in a manner that puts America in a positive light in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East? With a turning-the-tide strategy that starts with a Middle East Conference.

There is no way to win. There is no way to achieve victory. U.S. planned to get rid of Saddam Hussein and this was accomplished. We got a little too ambitious and decided we would transform Iraq society, and the current civil war is the result. Now, the best thing we can do for Iraq is leave.

Leaving, however, will be interpreted by terrorist groups, and even by mainstream Muslims, as American failure. Osama bin Laden would be worshipped as the man who defied America, the one who made the heretics flee, the Muslim leader who made all Arabs proud to be Muslims. Terrorism would become more accepted, more natural, more prevalent in the Arab world.

The terrorists would achieve a huge propaganda victory. We don't want this. We want a propaganda victory for America. One way to achieve a propaganda victory is by calling a conference of all Iraq's neighbors. The purpose for this Middle East Conference should NOT be to ask these Arab states to help us in Iraq. This approach is filled with negative connotations. No, America is calling the conference because we want to help the Arab states get rid of a cancer in their society: terrorism.

I visualize a conference of 4 parts:

  • OSAMA BIN LADEN: SATAN'S HENCHMAN - Many Muslims consider Osama bin Laden and other terrorists as being highly religious. They are not. They have hijacked Islam for the purpose of making themselves powerful. Those that kill themselves, thereby killing others, are not martyrs, but sinners. The Koran specifically says that taking one's life is a sin. Those, like Osama, who urge others to kill, are not holy. They are murderers. On 9/11, Osama murdered people from 62 different countries

  • OSAMA'S GOAL: OBLITERATION OF MAINSTREAM ISLAM - Osama keeps telling the world that he wants to destroy U.S. because it is filled with heretics. He does this prmarily to build up his stature, since Arabs get a kick out of knowing that somebody is fighting the powerful Americans. But his real goal is to obliterate mainstream Islam, which is tolerant and seeks peace, and substitute an Islamic dictatorship. You can get an inkling of what the dictatorship would be like when you see Osama pronouncing who should die and who should not - acting as though he were God

  • MUSLIMS MUST DEFEAT OSAMA HERESY - Osama and the other terrorist organizations are the biggest problem facing the Middle East. They are destroying Arab life, Arab religion, Arab culture. Arab countries must work together to get Al Qaeda warriors out of Iraq and help make Iraq a peaceful and prosperous country. They must do the same in other Arab countries as well

  • U.S. WILL HELP IN THIS ENDEAVOR - U.S. will leave Iraq and allow its neighbors to help it become a modern country. It will be available to help Arabs militarily, economically and in any other way Arab countries deem appropriate
The Middle East Conference would be the beginning of a great campaign to achieve understanding between Middle East countries and the U.S. It would be an effort to turn the tide in favor of a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East and world.

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 27, 2006 5:43 PM
Comment #200565

Paul, I like you. You’re a nice guy. But what are you on? I’ll have some of that.I can see how the US might like to see such an agenda. But to my mind, the neighbours of Iraq are going to be asking themselves, you know that old radio station - WIIFM? That’s what’s in it for me, to the uninitiated. You think they will not see that this is a desperate attempt by the US to get itself off the hook? And of course Iran and Syria, who are in the sights of the neo cons, are just dying to help the US off the petard it has hoist itself on. And of course Saudi. Ah yes, Saudi. The country most of the 9/11 terrorists came from. The Kingdom that funds Islamic terrorism, pays for the Pakistani Madrassahs, recognised and funded the Taliban ( one of only three countries which recognised the Taliban as the legitimate govt of Afghanistan, the others being Pakistan and the UAE). But of course they’re well got with the Bushs’, of course they’ll play along. Never mind that they run in fear of the Wahabis, doing all that’s necessary to appease them. Let’s see then, who’s left. Turkey? Hmmmm…..a Nato ally. However, they don’t want to see a Kurdish state, and the US seems well disposed to such an entity. Of course none of these countries is concerned about US underpinning of Israeli hegemony in the region. They are just bursting at the seams to help you guys out.

Don’t get me wrong Paul, I do see merit in a mid east conference. Top of the agenda should be the issue of Palestine. The Saudis offered a plan some years ago which was fair. Recognition of Israel in return for withdrawal to the pre 67 borders. A secure state for the Palestinians, with massive injections of aid from the West and Arab countries. If the Palestinians, a courageous and resourceful people, are given hope for the future and a secure homeland to build that future, both they are Israel will know true security and peace. Palestine could be another Lebanon at its best, cosmopolian, affluent and at peace. And Israel would have the security and peace it claims to truly want. Such a settlement could then really transform the mid east.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at December 27, 2006 8:25 PM
Comment #200580

Paul Siegel-
The core idea, that of emphasizing the degenerate nature of Osama’s theology, is not bad.

What’s not going to work is us telling them this. They are going to suspect our motives. The natives of the region constitute the better spokesmen for this point of view.

The big problem of the U.S.’s approach is understanding the audience. I’d say it’s important to consider the audience, because you can send one message given our culture, and they can end up receiving another given theirs. We should also anticipate that they’re going to consider the source, especially along the lines of Bush’s unfortunate behavior and all the implications of that.

I’d say start small, work out from the edges, and hope you’re lucky enough to get an intuitive leap of logic on your side, a culturally teachable moment. It doesn’t matter half as much what we can dream up, as it does what we can inspire them to think for themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 27, 2006 10:47 PM
Comment #200586

Paul S.: I think your idea of a confrence is excellent but the Arab countries are going to want to talk about a lot more than Osama and the terrorists. I imagine we will start having conferences with them sometime after January,2009.

Posted by: jlw at December 27, 2006 11:38 PM
Comment #200599


Paul Siegel,

It’s somewhat more complicated than that. In some ways it’s little different than extremism here in the USA.

We have Fred Phelps (God hates fags), but luckily very few outside his own family follow his perverse doctrine, but he calls it Christianity none the less and he has Leviticus on his side.

Many of America’s most racist groups claim to be Christian although they espouse hatred and violence. Luckily most Americans have been able to see past the BS and we’ve been able to avoid any large movement toward extremism in the US.

Errr, ahhhh, well for the most part! Pat Robertson did basically call for the assassination of Chavez. But no one tried to assassinate Chavez.

The lack of border security and the influx of undocumented immigrants into the US has led to a true hatred toward hispanics in some areas of the USA. Enough so that we have people like Rep. Tom Tancredo labeling Miami a “Third world Country”.

We have organized “Christian” efforts at both the state and federal levels fighting tooth and nail to prevent gay and lesbian couples from enjoying the same rights as other couples.

None of these have resulted in an “Al-Qaeda type” response here in the USA. (not since the OKC bombing, or, uh that crazy Rudolph guy)

So, why have the Islamic extremists been so damn successful? Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia have taken extreme measures to limit the growth of this extremism, and yet we know that many of the most prominant members of Al-Qaeda have either Jordanian or Saudi roots.

Islamic fundamentalism is growing. Our failure in Iraq has shown our weakness. We had no “Marshall” plan for Iraq and that window of opportunity is gone. It appears that a “surge” of troops is almost certain but it wiil, at best, only temporarily quell some of the sectarian violence in Iraq.

At the same time we’re not faring well in Afghanistan. What are we willing to do to save this situation? My idea at this point is to give the “Biden Plan” a chance in Iraq and back up our military effort in Afghanistan.

It really is either that or reinstating the draft and committing ourselves to decades of occupation in Iraq. We should be able to secure all of Iraq’s borders since we’ve done so well with our own. Then there’s that pesky Iranian problem, and Hezbollah, and Hamas…………………

Posted by: KansasDem at December 28, 2006 12:40 AM
Comment #200601

“I’d say start small, work out from the edges, and hope you’re lucky enough to get an intuitive leap of logic on your side”


I like that. That’s why I was so optomistic when the ISG came out with their report. Diplomacy is not a matter of placing ALL of your desires and demands on the table, it’s a matter of starting small and PROGRESSING from there.

In honor of President Ford I present the simple word, “DETENTE”.

To quote the belated President Ford:
“To me detente means a fervent desire for peace, but not peace at any price.”

In those days we knew what diplomacy was. Diplomacy is not something administered at the end of a gun.

Posted by: KansasDem at December 28, 2006 12:52 AM
Comment #200614

Remember, when you say “winning is not possible”, it is a lie.

We only lose wars that we choose to lose. Democracies tend to fight shorter wars. This is due to the selectorate being larger than in a dictatorship, and thus there are more people to keep happy in order to maintain a leader’s winning coalition.

Just remember, we only lose wars that we choose to loose. Next time you say something like that, perhaps offer what you mean, which is: “The price of winning is too high for me to want to pay.”

Posted by: Benjamin Hackett at December 28, 2006 5:26 AM
Comment #200641


I hope you have better luck with that than I did. I tried to make that simple point in another thread and all hell broke loose. Don’t you know Christians are perfect and can do no wrong?

Benjamin Hackett,

You are right, we only lose wars that we choose to lose. This war was lost from the beginning. If we wanted to win this war we would have went in with all our ducks in a row and with all our might. Instead, we went in not knowing who the enemy was or even why we were his enemy. We went in without the support of most of the world. We went in on a foundation of lies and faulty intel. Worst of all we went in to change an entire culture. This war was decided as lost from the get go.

This war in Iraq should have never started, but should have at least ended when we discovered there were no WMDs and Saddam was removed from power. The President should have stuck with his campaign pledge to not become nation builders.

Occupation and the division of land started this whole thing. So, what do we do? We continue to repeat that bad history. People are under the impression that Islam wants to take over the world, but if you understood the religion and the culture you would know that was false. Jihad was declared against the occupiers not because they wished to impose their religion on others. They are defending their land as their sacred texts call for.

Don’t get me wrong, what the terrorists did on 9/11 was at the command of Satan and we should send those involved straight to hell. Short of mass genocide, going in and trying to change an entire culture is just not a winnable strategy. Period.

Posted by: JayJay at December 28, 2006 12:01 PM
Comment #200642
The problem with this Idea is we tried it in Viet-Nam which is why we were attact on 9-11.


Say what? You think they just randomly picked us because they thought we were cowards due to Vietnam? That idea is just dumb. They attacked us on 9/11 because of our support of Isreal. People seem to forget that Isreal is a huge part of this jihad. These people obviously have very strong reasons for what they do, but rather than trying to find ways to resolve those issues, all we are interested in is vendetta. The Muslims have their Jihad and Americans have their vendetta, but what is really the difference between the two? We have been told that this war is different than any other we have fought, and it must be won using methods that are different than any other. Anything less will just result in a perpetual cycle of Jihads and Vendettas. Nobody wins.

Posted by: JayJay at December 28, 2006 12:20 PM
Comment #200648

Any change in culture must come from within. It will never be forced from the outside. If we want to win this war we must engage those that we have commonalities with, which far outnumber those we do not. The old saying is “unite your allies and divide your enemies.” This administration is doing the total opposite, dividing our allies and uniting our enemies. Not only uniting our enemies but growing them with those we should be reaching out to. We should be uniting our allies in the world to fight a unique war that will not be won by conventional means. Instead, we push them away with our arrogance. Is this war winnable? No, not as long as it is a conventional war of force. Yes, if we seize untraditional methods of causing change from within. What this administration has accomplished is to legitimize the cause of the terrorists in their own culture. What we should have done was make the terrorists cultural outcasts.

Although, this is unrealated, it does show the point I am trying to make. Gays and Lesbians in the country have made tremendous strides in this country in just a short amount of time. Views and attitudes about homosexuality are changing at an accelerated pace. This part of the culture war is being fought from within, not through force but through reason. We have identified our allies and united them in this cause. We have identified our enemies and divided them, making them the radical outcasts in their own culture. In the end, I have no doubt that gays and lesbians will win this part of the culture war.

The culture we fight overseas can only be changed by changing it from within, using not force, but reason. Hearts and minds. Identifying and uniting those that want peace and identifying and dividing those that want violence and making them the radical outcasts in their own culture.

The problem is that is hard work. Americans want it done quickly with as little imposition on themselves as possible. Force can be quick, but in this case it is not, because this war cannot be won that way. Only when we say to ourselves, as a people, that peace is a value worth our time and attention will we do the hard work and make it happen.

Posted by: JayJay at December 28, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #200650

Jay Jay
It is more than support for Isreal trhat has gained their emnity. Our need for oil has led us to support oligarchies,notably the Sauds, that have kept much of the Arab world in poverty and dispair.

A better way out is to accept the fact that the American epic in the Middle-east is over. Our chief concern in the region has always been oil supplies. Lets take about half the Pentagon budget and reaseach and develope alternate fuel sources,increase oil imports from Canada and other stable democracies and withdraw from the whole region. It is going to happen anyway so we might as well prepare for it and do it on our terms instead of wasting lives and treasure to fight a losing battle for a resorce that is poisoning the planet.

Posted by: BillS at December 28, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #200654
They understand that some in the U.S. including Leaders of our Government are going to fight for their cause for political gain.This would be folks like John Kerry,Murtha,Charlie Rangle and let us not forget the Media.


Sorry dude, but the only ones using this for political gain are Bush, Rove, and their neo-con cronies. That much is obvious from their campaign of fear.

So our biggest battle is not with the Terrorist but with those who do not beleive that this is a real war that we are in.

This is not a real war. We are not at war with Iraq, we are at war in Iraq. There is a big difference and that difference makes this war different than any other. It cannot be fought and won with force. People are starting to realize that and are demanding change in the way this war is fought. I don’t advocate leaving the mess we have created, I advocate fixing the mess we have created. That can only start when we stop the mess making.

Isreal could destroy Palistein in a matter of minutes if they were the evil people that the Muslum’s make them out to be

I think the situation is a bit more complicated than that.

I’m Assuming that your solution to this problem is to break ties with Isreal,Bring our troops home from around the world and let the problem solve its self.

You’re assumption is wrong. There is no reason to break ties with Isreal if we apply the proper solution to the problem. The solution to this problem is the same solution that Thomas Jefferson advocated for radical Christianity:

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. Let us reflect that it is inhabited by a thousand millions of people. That these profess probably a thousand different systems of religion. That ours is but one of that thousand. That if there be but one right, and ours that one, we should wish to see the 999 wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. ~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
Give Iraq to those who wish to kill us then and only then the U.S. will be safe?

Absolutly not, give Iraq to Iraqis who want her and wish to defend her. We can work within Iraq to make Iraq a country that can stand on it’s own, but this coddling crap is not working.

There is this little thing called Oil and most of it comes from the middle east.Leave it up to some in this Country and after a few years we could be calling The United States Of America the Poorest Country on Earth.Its called Survival.

This is exactly why we need to elect people who are serious about energy independance. We must do whatever is neccessary to foster and promote technology and innovation. Whatever country finds the solution to fossil fuels will be the richest nation on earth, not the poorest.

Posted by: JayJay at December 28, 2006 1:46 PM
Comment #200656

Countries do not choose to lose. It is an interesting idea, but losing in war happens because winning is not a viable option.

In our case, choosing to lose presumes we would win if only we committed endless amounts of lives and resources to a cause; or it presumes that, if only we escalated enough, the other side would cave.

However, we live in a world in which escalation beyond conventional means, to weapons of mass destruction, is no longer a choice. Yes, we could bomb Iraq into the stone age, the way we did to Vietnam way back when, or we could even use nuclear weapons. This assumes that the enemy would not eventually respond in kind.

Would we “win” by nuking Iraq? Would we have “won” if we had nuked Vietnam? Suppose it resulted in a thermonuclear exchange, where China had responded in kind? Suppose Sunni clerics concocted a biological plague in response to the use of nuclear weapons?

So, what does it mean to “win” in a world where MAD can be the eventual result?

Willpower to “win” eventually fails because the cost is too high- whether that cost is financial, lives, or confusion about the original point of the war in the first place.

Today, we occupy another country against its will. Our support for democracy actually taints the Iraqi government.

Did you catch the story from Najaf? An Iraqi Army Brigade (Badr Brigade, Al-Hakim/SCIRI) blew away a Shia cleric (Mahdi Army, Sadr). While SCIRI won the elections and controls the government, new elections today would put the Sadrists in power.

It is a civil war consisting of many different conflicts. Our ability to make sure “our” guys came out on top disappeared a long time ago.

Posted by: phx8 at December 28, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #200659

5 years. A good 20% through conservation. Do not underestimate Americans. We can and must do it. The sooner the better.Are you willing to make make some sacrifices to protect our troops?

Posted by: BillS at December 28, 2006 2:25 PM
Comment #200683

What does all that have to do with independance from fossil fuels and the need to stop supporting despotic regimes in the Middle-east?That is not a retreat. It is just good sense. Sooner or later even the Mid-east is going to run out of oil. Why wait for the crises?
If you are ready to let fear move you toward killing the 1.3 billion Muslums in the world then you are embracing another dark age. No thank you. There is a better way.

Posted by: BillS at December 28, 2006 5:14 PM
Comment #200685

We need to GET OUT NOW!

1. Americans have voted to get out; polls show that the vast majority want out.

2. Who give a f%ck what the terrorists think? And, really, are we worried about them being emboldened? Have they been holding back?

3. The only sure thing we get from keeping this going is more dead Americans and more dead Iraqi civilians. You want to be responsible for that? Is that a good thing to do? Or a horrible one?

Frankly, Congress should cut off funds. Supposedly, this is a losing political move——but a lot of innocent people get to live, which is, I think much more important.

Posted by: Publicus at December 28, 2006 5:43 PM
Comment #200686

I get your point, but we need an exit strategy. We’re impressing no one by “pretending” we are winning.

Posted by: Max at December 28, 2006 5:50 PM
Comment #200701

Benjamin Hackett-
If military force was merely about willpower, we’d have staring contests instead of shooting wars. Motivation is important in a war, but you have to give people something to hang their hopes on. We see the violence increase, the humanitarian issues persist, and the sectarian disorder take over. We can do little to deal with people like Al-Sadr, and contrary to the very stated purpose of this war, our efforts have only so far succeeded in given al-Qaeda a new training ground not taking it from them.

If our plan, so far, has resulted in this, our armies are stretched to the limit, and we’re in serious debt funding this war, just what is it that’s supposed to inspire us, to keep us taking this policy direction?

Willpower is only motivation. Motivation without means for fulfilling it is a recipe for despair. If people are dispirited, it’s not because democras have told them to be, it’s because they’ve given this policy of Bush’s every chance to succeed, and not only has it failed its stated purpose, he won’t take anybody’s advice or take anybody else’s lead in taking a new, more effective direction. He’s going to try and surge our troops, which with our manpower problems is going to shorten the effective lifespan of our fight in Iraq; after a while, we’ll simply be running on fumes here.

I have personal experience with being a bulldog on issues, and I’m the last person to want to quit and leave something undone. I would be ashamed of my country if we left precipitously, if we didn’t try the most we could. But we can’t get all that we want, and when we can’t we’ve got to deal with the situation as it is, because to start from anywhere else guarantees a mismatch of means to objectives and makes defeat more likely.

Bush wants to believe that his policies can still work. To admit defeat on these policies is tantamount in his view to admitting defeat to all his enemies and to the world.

The trick is, even if you do not admit defeat, people can tell when somebody has you beaten. We have hundreds of people dying a week in sectarian bloodshed and insurgency violence that never should have been. We have lost almost 3000 soldiers fighting what could be considered a post-war campaign. We invaded Iraq, took possession of the capital, and presumably took control of the country. If we had done that right, it would have never degenerated into what we see today. We’ve been fighting this hellish conflict for so damn long that we’ve forgotten that this was supposed to be the peaceful time post-war when things were on their way to a lasting end of hostilities.

The fact that it has turned into a full scale war in its own right is a defeat in and of itself.

Now you can deny a defeat, and hemorrhage power, might, and resources fighting a losing battle, or you can accept that the enemy got the better of you, take some time to step back, and figure out a way to turn the tables. In that way, you could redeem the loss, and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. There was no point in Americans acting like Pearl Harbor never occured. They just had to admit that they had been surprised, and that a fleet had been severally damage, and go about the business of dealing with their problems. The Democrats have been consistent in offering a constructive alternative, in suggesting that we seek out the help of allies, especially around Iraq, that we increase forces, that we work towards political ends and not just military in our effort to remake the country. We made a special effort to address the logistical concerns of fighting the war. John Kerry’s infamous vote was to vote for funding new spending on the war by ending Bush’s tax cuts on the rich, to fund our efforts with revenue rather than crippling debt. He’s the one who suggested we bulk up our forces first. The Republicans are doing nothing now that we didn’t suggest long before. Unfortunately, they’re just now doing this having squandered so much time, so much effort, and so much of our strength.

What’s it going to take for you folks to give up on the president’s policies? How much more long-lasting harm is this president going to inflict on us chasing this white whale?

A person who beats their head against the wall until it cracks open shows a great deal of willpower, but they do not show a great deal of sense.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 28, 2006 9:36 PM
Comment #200705

You conflate disagreement with your plan with disagreement with the necessity of defense. Please explain to me why the hell we voted for this war in the first place, for an entry into Afghanistan, if we we weren’t interested in defending our country. It is utter arrogance to assume that only by doing things YOUR way that we will win, and that we are truly willing to defend our country. Democracy demands that we consider more than one set of alternatives.

I mean, hell, if I don’t agree with your approach (which I don’t for rather well-documented reasons), just what kind of an lily-livered fool am I to simply cave to such emotional blackmail? This a free country, damn it! It’s free for a reason. Freedom is there because not every leader is so marvellous as their supporters think, and many of those people, if given the chance, would force their idiocy on everybody else, to the detriment of all. The whole point of this factional approach of government is to get all the idiots to cancel each other out.

Now you may think we have forced our idiocy on the country by winning, but we couldn’t have gotten one seat if we did not succesfully convince people there was a problem, and pushing a majority under the bus like we just did would have been damn near impossible. The fact is, some awful big fools were running your party, your congress, and the policy in the Administration.

Every supporter is going to underestimate the foolishness of their leaders. In a dictatorship or some other non-free government, people would be stuck with such morons, and the fate of their country would go downhill on anything short of armed revolt.

I have the good fortune to be a free man who can drop kick any idea he finds objectionable as he sees fit. You can go around calling people cowards and traitors for disagreeing with you, or you can properly explain to people the premises and logics of your argument, and persuade them by making actual sense to people.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 28, 2006 10:00 PM
Comment #201206

saying, why don’t you listen then to what your troops are saying?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at January 2, 2007 5:35 PM
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