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Judgment Deferred, The Consequences Remain

We have spent more time running the war in Iraq than we have fighting World War II. We administered the recovery of half a continent, and the rehabilitation of two enemies with nowhere near the bloodshed and chaos we have had in Iraq. The administration of the latter war imperfect, but it’s results justify the time, the expense, and the bloodshed necessary.

Moreover, we had a good plan at the end to make sure that war was done. I just love it when our friends in the White House and the Republican party start waving the flag of WWII at us, trying to justify continuing the war, and in order to intimidate those who don't want to look like defeatists.

Let me have a crack at this. Those who read my posts over the course of my three and half years at Watchblog know that only lately have I considered the war an entirely lost cause. Sure I had problems with the way the war was being waged, but I was willing to let the war continue, provided we smartened up about how we were waging it. The continual breakdown of Iraq, and the parallel refusal of the Bush administration to admit that their strategy was failing, became a discouraging factor.

This is not a failure of guts, really. I've never been one to give up on a war easily. I know that wars have their difficult periods, whether or not we win. But this is not a difficult period. Difficult periods end, and you have not-so-difficult periods tha follow, where things show improvement. I know I sound somewhat sarcastic here, and to an extent I am, but I'm also point out what should be common sense: If the Bush administration strategy is succeeding, things should improve. The progress is not at all satisfactory.

They want more time. Originally the goal was to get things done by May. Now the goal is to get things done by September. The senior commanders and Bush administration officials are trying to push things to December. The Bush administration is continuing this war the way a junkie tries to defer having to do something serious about quitting. We'll be winning by June, Winning by September, Winning by December. The CEO president is waging this war by quarters. The short term is enshrined blindly as the goal, the long term ignored.

His mandate was to end the war, the message sent loud and clear by the crushing defeat of the Republicans in the last election. Instead of ending the war, Bush wants to keep it going indefinitely. It's Korea, now. He wants the stalemate to continue forever. Unfortunately, That benefits our enemies, and will continue to benefit them for some time to come if Bush and his foreign policy team have their way.

Video Games and action movies reduced winning wars in many folk's minds down to destroying the enemy. The reality is, we wage war for a purpose, and that purpose is what determines whether we win or lose. Bush has backed down from one goal after another, and now he wants us to remain sitting on a wall keeping this stalemate going, serving as the unwitting training tools of our worst enemy with not even the hope of fully rehabilitating the degenerate condtion of the country. It's worse than diminishing returns. We're trying to save face by not admitting the failure of this war, yet we make the real-world failure of the war worse with every day we stay in Iraq.

The Iraq war has not made our enemy despair for their prospects. It's not depleting their ranks. It's not limiting their range. It's providing legitimacy to these people among their target audience, legitimacy for their poisonous ideas. There's no quick fix to this problem, but one thing is certain: continuing the war only helps them. Leaving Iraq, we'll have made an awful mess of things, and there will be consequences to our departure. Staying, though, ensures that the end will be much worse. Leaving now will make it far easier on us to sort through the mess and try to recover from the consequences.

The time has come and gone for us to give the Bush administration the time to redeem this mess. We've given them years to solve their problem. Now things are worse, and justifiably, the patience of most American is at an end. There should be no more extensions, come September, offered to the Bush administration's policy. The Democrats in Congress should give a firm no to further involvement in this war.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at June 4, 2007 11:05 AM
Comments
Comment #222242
The Iraq war has not made our enemy despair for their prospects.

In fact, it’s shown our enemies the limits of American conventional military power. The administration’s handling of the occupation increased our enemy’s recruitment rates even as ours declined, if not in numbers than in quality — 40% of our new recruits score below average on military aptitude tests and almost 20% have a criminal record.

It’s going to take decades to repair the damage President Bush wrought on our military.

Excellent article, Stephen. Those who’ve followed my columns here over the last three years know I also came late to the conclusion that our goals in Iraq are unattainable.

But when the Bush administration failed to commit the resources necessary for victory, it was time to stop throwing good lives and money after bad.

And that was also the chief criticism of this surge: too little, too late. The progess (or lack there of) report you linked makes it clear we were right. The administration once again failed to commit the resources necessary for victory.

Posted by: American Pundit at June 4, 2007 12:46 PM
Comment #222243

Stephen

“His mandate was to end the war, the message sent loud and clear by the crushing defeat of the Republicans in the last election.”

this is inaccurate. while the war played a part, the biggest factor IMO was the constant scandels, ie abramoff, foleygate, etc. many of the blue dog dems that beat repubs were anti illegal imigration, and pro-gun, they were middle or just right of center. let us also not forget the spending problem. if the dems push to hard on the war issue, and go back thier politics of gun control, class warfare, and allow this amnesty bill disguised as copmrehensive immigration reform through, they could again find themselves in the minority again in the near future.

Posted by: dbs at June 4, 2007 12:48 PM
Comment #222247

Stephen,

“The administration of the latter war imperfect, but it’s results justify the time, the expense, and the bloodshed necessary.”

(Today’s) media and anti-war crowds (certainly) don’t justify the (WWII) times, Stephen. The people were behind the Administration during WWII and they considered the enemies the (real) enemy; not their own administration. Also, the (US) media wouldn’t dare out secret programs or give in to the enemy proproganda like they are doing today with the terrorists. And, you are correct, the adminstration in WWII was imperfect and the only reason that the time; expense; and bloodshed was (indeed) necessary was b/c the “American people” were behind the US Military AND THEIR MISSION!!!!


Posted by: rahdigly at June 4, 2007 1:39 PM
Comment #222250

rahdigly, I think the correlation has more to do with goals. Germany is a country that could be crushed through rather straight forward methods. Our enemy in Iraq is hidden and among our allies.

To put it another way, it is the nature of the war that makes it harder to win. I would like to know what popularity with citizens has to do with how effective the war is run.

Posted by: Zeek at June 4, 2007 2:30 PM
Comment #222251

Stephen,
Good article. Here is a quote from the linked NYT article:

“The American assessment, completed in late May, found that American and Iraqi forces were able to “protect the population” and “maintain physical influence over” only 146 of the 457 Baghdad neighborhoods.

In the remaining 311 neighborhoods, troops have either not begun operations aimed at rooting out insurgents or still face “resistance”…

What the heck! That is just amazing! I figured it was worse than what we are being told, but… What is going on over there? Is it really that bad?

Posted by: phx8 at June 4, 2007 2:38 PM
Comment #222255
(Today’s) media and anti-war crowds (certainly) don’t justify the (WWII) times, blah, blah, blah.

rah, I am so glad Republican’s weren’t in charge during WWII. Judging by the way you guy’s F’d up Iraq so bad, we’d all be speaking German.

After Pearl Harbor, you guys would have said “F’ Japan, now’s our chance to take out Canada!” and then came up with a series of wacked out rationales for doing so.

As it was, Roosevelt had to drag the GOP kicking and screaming into our struggle against global fascism and even had to put a bunch of Republican’s out of business for trading with and supportig Hitler.

Do yourself a favor and give up on the WWII analogies. That’s another battle you guys can’t win.

Posted by: American Pundit at June 4, 2007 3:37 PM
Comment #222262

Stephen, Al Qaeda could not have come up with a better bit of Anti US propaganda. I think you can always get a job in the middle east as a “Tokyo Rose” if you need it.

Posted by: Stephen at June 4, 2007 4:28 PM
Comment #222270

Rahdigly-
Why should we have to prove ourselves worthy of a war? The war is fought to serve America, to serve Americans, and if they largely disagree with it, what’s the purpose of perpetuating it? Regardless of the right or wrong of individual cases, the power to wage war should not be merely the province of one man.

With one man, the vanity and error of one man can become the bane of all. We distribute the power to wage war to congress for a reason, and put an elected official at the head of the military that fights it for much the same reason.

Bush is not supposed to be a free agent. He is not a King or an Emperor, or a General with virtually unchecked power. He is our servant, and servants are supposed to heed their masters.

The Media is not their to serve the war, but tell us the truth, bring us the information that is meaningful to our lives. Again, they serve the country as a whole, not merely one man or the war he perpetuates against the will of the people.

This war is doing the exact opposite of what it was intended to do, and is even failing at what Bush said we would do with the surge at the beginning. This is no joy for me. It’s a constant, annoying headache. I wish I could say things were getting better. I’d get use to the fact that it helped Bush. Unfortunately, I’ve seen Bush fail too many times, and know too much about what’s going on their to believe that his current efforts, however well-intentioned are going to work out.

The problem here is not a lack of support for fighting in the name of a good cause, for our country. We aren’t seeing a lack of support for the troops. They remain as honored as ever. nearly everybody lines up to do them honor, left and right. No mainstream politician of any party wants to be caught saying anything that could even be construed as derogatory to them.

The problem here is that the people pushing this war have tested the patience of the American people to their limits, and right on past them. They lost sight of who is in charge. They lost sight of the fact that the goal of war is more important than a strategy. Bush wanted his war, his way, but never considered that others might have a better approach, and that his own might be counterproductive.

Bush had his chance, and many others to make this war work. He has been given so much of our resources, our time, and our patience to get this war done right. The time has come to put this war out of our misery.

Stephen-
Funny thing is I never said one cross word about my country. In fact, my point implies that we can do much better than this, that there is a right way to go after our enemies. And yes, I do believe I said the terrorists were our enemies.

You’ve sold yourself so relentlessly on this war that you now fail to imagine that anybody could dislike it and not also dislike our country. Such a failure of imagination, though, is your problem, not mine.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 4, 2007 7:45 PM
Comment #222290

Stephen
I question your assumption. The war has been a resounding success. Oil prices have never been higher and the MIC is in high clover. The trick now is to keep it that way and the only logical course is permanent occupation if we cannot beef up the puppet Iraqi regime to hold the fort for us.

Posted by: BillS at June 4, 2007 10:27 PM
Comment #222293

Bush is not a king, general, or unchecked agent.

He’s merely one individual among many, many others (including a great many Democrats, several of whom are currently running for President) who have been party to fighting the war in Iraq the way it is being fought. The failure of our entire nation to take responsibility for our approach to fighting wars and resolving conflicts is being pinned (by some like Stephen) entirely on Bush when the responsibility actually lies swith everal successive American administrations, including Bushe’s, and the world at large, including but not limited to the American public.

This talk about Bush not being a king, emperor, general, etc is pretty silly considering that he could be stopped cold by the Democrats any time they actually decided to do so.

Comparisons to other wars never really make sense because in every case the differences are vastly more pertinent than the similarities.

But if you got a dollar for every time a Republican compared Iraq to WWII, you’d still be a pauper compared to the guy who got a nickel for every time Democrats or members of the media compared it to Vietnam.

Personally, I think we’re in global situation actually more closely resembles the period between WWI and WWII, when passivity, appeasement and denial caused the world to essentially go to sleep and refuse to deal with gathering threats.

Bush’s main pastime will be clearing brush on his ranch in Crawford soon enough, and neither Iraq or the rest of the world’s problems will go away just because Bush does. In fact, those problems are likely to get far, far worse… especially if any of the current Democratic frontrunners think they can just assume Bush’s former office and declare “Peace in our time.”

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 4, 2007 10:48 PM
Comment #222296
when the responsibility actually lies swith everal successive American administrations, including Bushe’s, and the world at large, including but not limited to the American public.

Pure BS. The decision to invade Iraq and all the subsequnt bad decisions were made by “the decider”. In fact, he’d be mad as hell that you’re trying to take the credit away from him.

Posted by: American Pundit at June 4, 2007 10:51 PM
Comment #222298

Yes, we have nowhere near the death in Iraq that we had in WWII. WWII was the most destructive war in human history. It took tens of millions of human lives and left the enemy completely devastated.

Iraq was hardly destroyed at all in comparison. More people died in single days in WWII than in four years of war in Iraq.

Had we unleased that sort of destruction on Iraq, it might be a lot more peaceful now too. The comparison makes no sense. The actual analogy might have been if the British and French had preempted Hitler in 1937. The occupation might have been a little rougher.

Posted by: Jack at June 4, 2007 11:06 PM
Comment #222299

American Pundit, you’d have to be completely blinded by a singe-minded obsession with Bush to say that ALL the decisions, good, bad, or indifferent about Iraq were made by Bush and Bush alone.

How about the CIA’s bad intelligence? Just Bush’s fault? How about, say, the VERY numerous statements about the need to take out Saddam issued by prominent Democrats? Some of whom—like John Kerry, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton actuatlly VOTED to authorize the action that they now supposedly now deplore? How about the American public who reelected Bush (and Hillary Clinton for that matter) after the advent of the Iraq policy? How about that Democratically-controlled Congress who now condemns the war on one hand while voting to fund it?

I’m not, nor have I ever been a George Bush fan, especially when it comes to his prosecution of the war in Iraq. But as Stephen points out, Bush is not a general, and the actual events on the ground in Iraq have been carried out from the beginning by actual generals. There’s fault here for Bush. There’s fault here for those generals, for Congress, for the American public and the international community.


Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 4, 2007 11:09 PM
Comment #222300

Another thing about post WWII. We had a good common enemy. The Germans hated and feared the Soviets with great passion. When the Soviets came into eastern Germany, they raped every woman they could find, killed civilians and generally struck terror. No Germans wanted that, so cooperation with the more civilized Americans, Brits or French made much more sense.

Another important variable was that the Germans had been a developed people. They HAD been advanced. Germany had been one of the most advanced countries in the world. All they needed was the material to come back. Iraq was and remains a developing country. The task is different. It is like the difference between getting a champion athlete BACK in shape versus making that 98lb weakling into a champion athlete. It may be possible to do, but the task is different.

Posted by: Jack at June 4, 2007 11:17 PM
Comment #222305

Jack
I recall reading some Eisenhaur letters where he said that one of the reasons the Russians should take Berlin was so that they would do just that. At other times he regreted the percieved neccessary extermination of the Germans becouse he thought highly of some of their culture.

I doubt many Iraqis would agree with your characterization. They were reading and writing when our ancesters were painting their asses blue and worshiping rocks.Not that you are incorrect,its just that yours and my standards of developement are very different from theirs in many ways.Nationalism for example was an imposed concept. Tribalism appears to be the default setting of many societies under long term stress and may in fact be the oldest and most natural societal organizing principle(Mead).I found it interesting that some tribal leaders were asking help from the Marines to fight Al Quiada. They were seeking an alliance with the strongest tribe in the area,no more,no less.

Posted by: BillS at June 4, 2007 11:42 PM
Comment #222306

LO
Trumans famous sign,”The buck stops here.”
Bushes sign,”The buck stops anywhere else”
Must make you proud.

Posted by: BillS at June 4, 2007 11:46 PM
Comment #222309
How about the CIA’s bad intelligence? Just Bush’s fault?

First of all, the intelligence wasn’t bad, it was cherry-picked by the administration and the summary sent to Congress had all the caveats and dissenting opinions removed.

Second, we just found out that the CIA briefed President Bush on the problems of occupying Iraq, and Bush apparently dismissed it. Certainly he never planned for any of the problems outlined.

How about, say, the VERY numerous statements about the need to take out Saddam issued by prominent Democrats?

What about them? None of them called for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. That was pure Bush.

John Kerry, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton actuatlly VOTED to authorize the action

…in order to present a united front to Saddam so that the inspectors would be allowed back in. Bush promised he’d let the inspectors finish the job, then broke his promise.

How about the American public who reelected Bush (and Hillary Clinton for that matter) after the advent of the Iraq policy?

I thought your narrative was that the close vote (Bush won the election by only about 100,000 votes in Ohio) was due to people hating Kerry, not loving Bush’s Iraq policy. there’s also the precedent of a sitting war president.

But the fact is, less than 50% of Americans favored invading Iraq. The number only went up to 63% if the invasion was part of a UN operation.

How about that Democratically-controlled Congress who now condemns the war on one hand while voting to fund it?

That’s just dumb. You know we weren’t going to defund the troops. It had nothing to do with the policy and it doesn’t surprise me at all to hear you playing politics with our military like that.

I’ll give you this, though. Apparently Bush didn’t know Bremer was going to disband the Iraqi army. That went directly against the plan and the President’s wishes — so Bush awarded Bremer a medal. :/

Posted by: American Pundit at June 4, 2007 11:58 PM
Comment #222327

Stephen, very good article but it stops short the same way the Democratic Congress once again acquiesced (this time in the majority) to this continued Bush lunacy.

I wish I could find my archived post that was part of the discussion about the supposed new strategy—troop surge. In it I discussed why putting more American troops in harms way in Iraq would make absolutely no difference. A Troop surge has no effect on roadside bombings, suicide bombings, Iraqi “army” complacency and incompetence, sectarian killings and the like.

To end this madness requires a hard-line not euphemizing the facts for the sake of politeness, or politics (in the case of our elected officials).

Stephen, you commented on Bush needing to “smarten” up about his war strategy. Bush “smartening up” is an oxymoron.

You also made the analogy of Bush denial and Junkies avoiding treatment. Junkies only hurt themselve. A better analogy would be that Bush is sending men and women off to slaughter like cattle on a ranch being prepared for the marketplace (i.e. DEATH).

Another point that really needs some an eye-opening discussion is that “stalemate would benefit the enemies of the US (namely jihadist and “radical” muslims). The INVASION OF IRAQ was when Bush elevated the influence of our enemies—let’s make no mistake about that fact because you see the consequence. The apologies of many “war-supporting” democrates is noble, but I would have preferred that they took an intelligent look at the consequence of an Iraqi invasion (Bush has no intelligence so to expect him to consider overwhelming obstacles is pointless). Remember the USSR invasion of Afghanastan? What was the end result for the second most powerful army in the world (at that time)? They withdrew after 10 YEARS! Remember Palastine? What is the consequence for Isreal? More than 30 years of continued conflict and loss of life. Has the Isreali military “crushed” the palastinians as they so easly could do? No.

The most essential factor that should have been considered by anyone seeking to wage war in muslim countries is THE NATURE OF MUSLIM CULTURE and how they respond in times of war. Unless you crush them and eliminate them, they will always come back, they will always mobilize more “fighters,” they will always use strategies such as suicide bombings, promote and facilitate the destablizing caotic “sectarian” violence. Yet most of our politicians overlooked these factors. Bush is a moronic idiot fascist who, among other things, needed a way to ensure he would be “democratically” elected in 2004 so I am not at all surprised he ignored everything that predicted what we see in Iraq today—including the insights and advice of Arab nations in the region.

Bush and his corrupt administration are the only ones in denial. Democrats are scared of the political liabiltiy of being branded “unpariotic and not supporting the troops” so they continue to make excuses about their cowaring at the feet of a fascist while he (Bush) continues to propose and extend arbitrary time points for “success.”

A final “soft” lobb at the Bush war, Stephen, is when you comment about it taking years to solve the problems that exist in Iraq. BUSH CREATED THIS ENTIRE PROBLEM! The fact that he has never been accountable or made to give account to the American people for the unbelieveablely stupid decision to invade Iraq is the very reason he can now use this pathetic excuses to continues his abuse of the American armed forces.

Mark my words, the next excuse come September, is that more troops will need to be sent because of the heavy casualties sustained by the American troops over the summer—“We new it would be tough, but there are signs of progress.” Does this phrase have a familiar ring to it?

Bush will continue to use the same political bullshit to once again get the Democratic Congress to acquiesce. This cycle will continue until the Constitution goes into affect, and this fascist is forced to reliquish his grip on our federal government.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at June 5, 2007 10:13 AM
Comment #222330

Comparisons of the Bush Iraq War to WWII are ludicrous no matter if you frame the debate from the right or the left. No credible comparisons, beyond the very superficial, can be made in this situation.

Consider these questions?

1. Why did the US enter WWI? Why did BUSH invade Iraq? (For those of you that still believe it was because Saddam had WMDs, you may disregard those questions.)

2. Under what circumstance and eminent foreign threats did FDR decide to enter WWII? Under what circumstances and eminent foreign threats did Bush decide to invade Iraq? (Again if you bought into the WMDs and “intelligence” support for them—this debate is not for you).

3. Who (based on what they did) posed a greater threat to the world, Hitler or Saddam?

4. Who invaded more countries, Hitler or Saddam?

After pondering those questions, now come up with credible WWII and Bush War analogies in the frame of reference of either the “left” or the “right”. You will notice that I left out questions regarding the nature of War against a “Western” culture versus that of a “Muslim” culture.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at June 5, 2007 10:33 AM
Comment #222343

I thought this article was interesting, as it comes from a section of the country I haven’t heard anything from. As far as the future of Iraq and its’ potential to become a viable and contributing part of the world,this is telling. The educated, trained and prepared youth and just more of the list of victims that continues to grow.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/05/world/middleeast/05college.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at June 5, 2007 2:05 PM
Comment #222356

Loyal Opposition-
The idea of bringing the war to Iraq originally had people scratching their heads. This was a war sold to the American people on the authority of the Bush Administration, sold as a necessary element in the War on Terrorism. No other President justified a pre-emptive strike, nor did any other president’s policy require it of him. They even called this position of striking first The Bush Doctrine. The Democrats went for it not because most of them really wanted this war, but because most of them sensed that they would not win the political battles it would take to get in the way of this. Pretty chickenshit, but that’s the extent of the responsibility we bear.

Bush has been busy with folks like John Yoo alleging that among other things, that he doesn’t need an authorization to go to war (it merely “recognizes” his authority), that he doesn’t need warrants to spy on American citizens, or charges to hold an American Citizen. He believes that through his signing statements, he has the authority to rewrite and reinterpret the laws of our land. He justifies all this under his authority as Commander in Chief, a position he takes past being merely in charge of the military, to having almost total power as long as his term lasts. What I’m saying is not silly. What I’m saying this Administration has argued itself, and tried to get the GOP, as a body, to rationalize with him.

There is a lot of evidence out there that the CIA told Bush what he wanted to hear, and that he and his staff made it very clear what they wanted. They even were asking for raw reports to bring up so they could run their own little analytical farm. A government watchdog agency recently condemned such an operation by Douglas Feith as being inappropriate and approaching illegal. Even if he didn’t intend to decieve, he intended to focus on getting information to justify an action, instead of looking through the information to find out what he needed to do.

I did point out that Bush is not a general. He is Commander in Chief though. The war was his idea, not theirs. The policy, too. The interference of Rumsfeld was nothing short of incredible. This has not been a hands off war.

This war was Bush’s choice, as was the way it was waged. We blame Bush because Bush is the highest ranking responsible agent in this whole thing.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 5, 2007 4:15 PM
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