Democrats & Liberals Archives

Best Case Scenario: A Thirty Year Mortgage On Iraq

100,000 troops for thirty years. This is what a surge supporter considered an acceptable period of commitment. I hardly think most Americans will agree, and with good reason.

Thirty years of occupation is a fantasy. Supporters might point out our persistent presences in Germany and Japan, among other places, but in most of these places, we have some degree of friendly relations with the people there. They have police forces and ground forces of their own that can actually be counted upon to be able to defend their country and keep it in a state of law and order. These are not failed states that we propped up, but successfully rebuilt nations that are economically self-sufficient, even powerhouses now, as is the case in Japan.

Thirty years is the number given by an academic who doesn't have to deal with the logistics of such an extended campaign. It's the number given by somebody who is naive enough to suppose that maintaining our forces in the occupation of a failed state will not be without its own consequences on the geopolitical stage, with the weakness it's creating in our military, and the social, military, and religious impact it would have on the region.

It's the sort of scenario Washington Republicans are relying upon at this time to justify continuing the war. Everything has to go right for the children of soldiers In Iraq right now, and maybe even their children's children to see the end of this. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but rank and file Republicans better accept that too many screw-ups were made too early, and taken care of too late for the outcome most American desired to come about. At this point, we're depending on the Iraqis to hold their own society together.

At this point, it would be best to acknowledge that the pieces of Iraq are not in our hand but at our feet, and we'd do best to deal with those who have the power in the end to pick up the pieces.

That will not be the end of our involvement in the region, or our troubles, but it will let us have some opportunity to undo the damage, military and economic, that Bush's policy have had on this country.

Iraq is a dead horse, and it's time to stop beating it.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2007 12:08 PM
Comment #238683

Stephen, that is not the “sort of scenario Washington Republicans” have ever proposed, much less one that they are using to justify the war.

It’s a second-hand characterization—not even an actual quote— of something an academic, this Biddle, supposedly said as part of a talk.

I’m EXTREMELY suspicious about the accuracy of this characterization of what Biddle said as well because the correspondent who made it calls Biddle a “surge supporter” and one of the “current strategy’s smartest supporters,” both of which are plainly false.

Here is a quote from an interview in which Biddle discusses the surge.

Q: Am I wrong to infer that you agree with sticking with the surge for a while and altering perhaps its military targets? Or am I wrong and you prefer an early withdrawal?

A: If I were in the Senate and I had to cast the vote and I couldn’t be an academic, I would vote for outright withdrawal.

So here you have somebody who would vote for an outright withdrawal from Iraq, an obvious and outspoken critic of the war, but when he talks about the surge you and others decide to identify his positions as examples of Republican policy. This is either dishonest, sloppy, or both.

If this guy is a leading Republican voice on the surge, then I suppose Nancy Pelosi is too. Why not quote her about the situation in Iraq and call them “Republican positions” too?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 19, 2007 1:22 PM
Comment #238684

He’s one of Petraeus’s Advisors. If he was really that serious about being against the surge, don’t you think he would have resigned by now?

What he’s really against is middle of the road approaches. He’s more or less saying get out now, or stay for the next three decades at substantial troop levels, hoping for the best.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2007 1:49 PM
Comment #238687

Stephen, yes, those do seem to be his positions, but they are definitely not the Republican positions you have characterized them as. And they are especially not the points of view of somebody who is naive, ignorant about the logistics of an extended campaign, or any of the other barbs you’ve thrown at him. In fact, if you pay attention to what he’s saying, it’s precisely his concerns with those questions that lead him to favor a complete withdrawal from Iraq.

Patraeus should be commended, I believe, for listening to advisers with a variety of points of views, including those who are sharply critical of his basic strategy. I for one consider that a hallmark of a good military tactician, and something we sorely lacked before Patreaus. What’s more, it’s commendable for someone who is against the basic strategy to nonetheless offer their expertise and influence when asked for it.

Biddle is not in the military and is not subject to the chain of military command. He’s free to be as critical as he likes, say whatever he wants, and that’s precisely what he’s doing. Good for him, but it’s grossly inaccurate to characterize his positions or his projections as Republican policy or to attack him for somehow being detached from reality or naive when his engagement with these questions seems to be extremely serious, well-considered, and not subject in the least to anything a fair-minded person could consider blind partisan loyalty.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 19, 2007 2:14 PM
Comment #238688

Permanent control of Iraqi oil was the motivation for the invasion from the beginning. A 30 year occupation should be expected. The degree of difficulty for such an occupation only depends of how effective any placed puppet regime becomes in controlling the country.

And why not stay? We have already won the war at least 4 times. Just think how many times we could win it in thirty years!Don’t you want us to win?

Posted by: BillS at November 19, 2007 2:16 PM
Comment #238691

In the immortal words of George W. Bush…”Misson Accomplished”…if we accomplished the mission, why are we still in Iraq? A

nd, by the way, which mission was Bush talking about…toppling Saddam Hussein? Bringing democracy to Iraq? Bringing democracy to the Middle East? Fighting “them” there so we’re not fighting “them” here? Keeping the world safe from terrorism???

What the heck IS the mission in Iraq???

Posted by: Rachel at November 19, 2007 3:00 PM
Comment #238692

“What the heck IS the mission in Iraq???”

It’s old news, thats what it is.
So that we may be better informed at the polls, how about giving us the facts on how the next Dem Presidents plan will differ?

Posted by: kctim at November 19, 2007 3:19 PM
Comment #238701

It sure is old news…

Just like Bosnia and Kosovo.

Actually, what we’re doing there is trying to set a new record. Right now, Korea is in third place with 57 years of our troop presence.

Japan is second (by months) and Germany is first place with 62 years of American troops on their soil as a “peacekeeping” force.

When are we ever going to bring our troops home? We don’t need troops in Germany, Japan, Korea, Bosnia and Kosovo.

I hear a deafening roar when it comes to American troops in Iraq, but I also hear a deafening silence when it comes to Germany, Japan, Korea, Bosnia and Kosovo.


Posted by: Jim T at November 19, 2007 5:18 PM
Comment #238703

I believe I’ve read Jack and others making the same argument as this guy for why we stay in there, for this bottom-up strategy.

Judging by our arming of these folks, we’re also pretty much doing what he’s saying. Petraeus isn’t merely listening to him, he’s doing much of what he advises. Bottom-up and decentralized.

The real issue here is why the guy isn’t resigning, but choosing, as he distinctly says in the course of the interview, to simply let Bush decide what is worth risking and what’s not. It’s the very fact that he’s approaching this, being a policy advisor, as an abstract academic matter, rather than giving his real opinion.

There are any number of people who have resigned posts under this president rather than continue being the kind of yes-men he seems to encourage.

This is a guy who’s probably saying what he’s saying to cover his ass. Meanwhile, he’s pretty much authoring the current strategy.

How long do we have to keep playing this game to satisfy Bush’s allergy to criticism?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2007 5:41 PM
Comment #238705

Jim T-
Germany and Japan were not in states of anarchy when we began their occupation. More to the point, their occupation has been over for some time now. We let them govern and have effective forces to defend themselves after we finished their occupation. Our presence, though beneficial to them in that they don’t have to spend so much developing their own military resources, does not constitute an ongoing military campaign in their country.

Korea is the only example, but Korea is in a state of cease fire. It doesn’t remain a shooting war, the way Iraq is.

I have yet to see the argument here that says we are in a long term shooting war anywhere else on the face of the planet, or how protracting a war for a generation would serve America’s interests. It’s weakened America’s ability to respond promptly to attack or military crisis already, with that deficiency set to last five years from when we end this war.

It’s time to stop losing.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2007 5:48 PM
Comment #238707

What facts can you give us that shows the Washington liberals plan will be different than the Washington Republicans plan you speak of and that it will in fact, “stop us from losing?”

Posted by: kctim at November 19, 2007 5:59 PM
Comment #238709

kctim, how can one predict or foretell a fact?

Posted by: Jane Doe at November 19, 2007 6:14 PM
Comment #238711


What the heck IS the mission in Iraq???

Escape responsability for it.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 19, 2007 6:43 PM
Comment #238712
It’s time to stop losing.

Stephen, don’t you want the military industrial complex continues to win and win and win for the next thirty years?!?

What a lack of patriotism profit morality!

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 19, 2007 6:49 PM
Comment #238713

Should have been: “What a lack of patriotism profit morality!”, if I hadn’t fumble my tag…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 19, 2007 6:51 PM
Comment #238714

I said it was time to stop losing. I didn’t say anybody could stop us from losing the war at this time. Defeats are bad. Most Americans, Most liberals don’t want them. But unless you admit them when they have occured, you stand to compound the losing with interest.

As for proof that Democrats will do better? Try the fact they actually got legislation passed that the President had to veto.

The Republicans are not offering any alternatives to Bush, and for good reason. They know the Republican that admits the war is lost will lose the next election. The Democrats, though, only lack certainty. Certainty is easier to find than the courage to contradict a previously stated position.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2007 8:31 PM
Comment #238715

Patraeus said that if we stay in Iraq it would take at least ten years to see whether or not success would even be possible. I’m convinced Bush’s real position is to permanently stay in Iraq. I am also convinced that he is insane.

Posted by: Max at November 19, 2007 8:50 PM
Comment #238718

Why would the US build the largest and most fortified embassy in the world unless the US was planning to stay longterm in Iraq? And why the big and soon to be permanent military bases, too???

Bush doesn’t intend to leave…is there anyone who does and can we make sure that they do what they say they’re going to do…Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich come to mind…

Posted by: Rachel at November 19, 2007 9:59 PM
Comment #238740

Rachel, neither Bill Richardson nor Dennis Kucinich have a prayer of becoming president. There are likely good public and political reasons why that is true.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 20, 2007 4:17 AM
Comment #238741

Max, a smart guy named Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Seemed apropos’.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 20, 2007 4:18 AM
Comment #238744

Once again, you need to update your paradigm. The progress in Iraq since the CHANGE IN STRATEGY has been truly remarkable. Most of the population is indifferent to the U.S. forces. A growing number is becoming supportive. The bad guys can still reach out and murder women and children. They can even sometimes attack Americans. But they do not represent the people of Iraq. They are the past.

Nobody wants to declare success too soon. Progress is remarkable, but still fragile. Dumb decisions in Washington (such as a rapid pullout), Baghdad or other places such as Teheran could still plunge the place back into chaos. Nevertheless, we have clearly moved from the clear to the hold and build stage.

It would be both dumb and immoral to leave the Iraqi people in the lurch at this time. Immoral, because we would be allowing massive suffering. Dumb because we have the opportunity to build on the great success of the last few months. Success in Iraq is the best way to get most of our troops home. Some (not 100k) may well remain for a long time. If that allows the stabile development of the Middle East, as our commitment to NATO did in Europe or our troops in Japan and Korea did in E. Asia, it is something well worth the cost.

Remember that security always must come before development. I regret that the U.S. and its small number of partners must provide service this for a world full of free riders, some of whom are downright petulant and obnoxious, but if the alternative is to let the region go to hell, I figure it is a task we must shoulder.

We are on the way to accomplishing a great thing in Iraq. When work is done, it will be so big that many will just say that it would have happened anyway. I saw the same thing happen at the end of the Cold War, as one after another erstwhile lefties claimed, and actually came to believe, that they had predicted this outcome.

So please, O liberals, continue to voice your fears and trepidations. Put them in writing so that the record is clear. Be loud, be very loud. Just do not cut the ground out from under those who will do the right thing and know that soon, not today nor tomorrow, but soon you will justifiable feel yourselves accursed and hold you manhoods cheap when anybody talks about Iraq and you have to admit that you advocated scurrying off before the work as done.

Posted by: Jack at November 20, 2007 7:41 AM
Comment #238746

The change in strategy, eh? I acknowledge it’s been changed, but towards success? We still have to deal with the political instability, and our own inability to keep the forces in there that the surge has brought. Both factors have the potential, widely acknowledged, to ruin whatever advances we have made.

They have not been taken care of. Simple as that. Moreover, this deployment has made it nearly impossible to do anything else but fight in Iraq. We no longer have even the strength to respond to an emergent threat against our country. Security in Iraq may be a goal that your administration’s unfortunately logistical and geopolitical decisions have put beyond America’s reach.

Our alternatives may be between letting Iraq go to hell, and letting American interests go that way. Which interests would you give up first? I’m sorry for the Iraqis, but then, I’ve been trying to get you folks to get your act together with them from the start. Had you changed your strategy then, rather than waiting until the 2006 elections made it politically untenable, we might have done right by them. As of now, though, we’re propping up an unstable system of fragments that will become more unstable as our strength to keep them apart wanes.

I know you’re in the midst of it, and you take this personally, but you started your journey in a place where the Iraqis had taken care of themselves, where they had decided on their own order. They, though, didn’t have to play nice with anybody else but us to do this. Violence remains high outside of Baghdad and Anbar. Political reconciliation has failed (hence another in a long line of NEW strategies), and once again, the Bush Adminstration is playing games with what it calls victory.

Me? I’m not for scurrying off, I’m for walking away while we still have some strength left, rather than expending it to unify a fragmented failed state that won’t fully heal for another generation.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2007 9:06 AM
Comment #238747

So there is no guarantee liberal leadership will have a better plan or fair any better with Iraq then? And you think liberals will lead better because they are more willing to admit defeat?

You really want people to vote for liberals simply because they have changed their mind about the war?
Sounds a little risky to me.

“how can one predict or foretell a fact?”

In this case, easily.
Dem Presidential Candidate: “This is President Bushs’ plan and why it is not working. Here is my plan, how it is different and why it will work.”

They do that, the people have the facts and can vote based on knowledge of what to expect.

Posted by: kctim at November 20, 2007 9:14 AM
Comment #238749

Admitting a mistake has been made, that failure has occured is the first step to robustly dealing with those failures.

Vote for liberals because they’ll start dealing with the failures, rather than continuing them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2007 9:44 AM
Comment #238751

Which brings us back to my original question Stephen: How do we know the liberals will deal with the situation differently, unless they tell us exactly how they will? How do we know we will like their plan any better?

Don’t just tell us the liberals are willing to admit Bush made a mistake, we already know they are more than willing to do that.
Tell us how their plan would be different and how it will correct it.

Posted by: kctim at November 20, 2007 10:03 AM
Comment #238762

There is no serious anti-war candidate and the best case scenario would be that the war ends before 2013, which neither Democrat frontrunner will commit to doing.

Proof that there is no serious anti-war candidate:

Obama On Iraq War, 2013

Clinton On Iraq War, 2013

Posted by: PaulD at November 20, 2007 12:05 PM
Comment #238767


The Iraqi army and police are developing very rapidly. Marines can start rotating out of Anbar within months because their places will be taken by Iraqi security of police forces.

We never intended to mainatain the surge. As I wrote before, the name surge was a bit of a mistake, since it was not merely more men, but also a new strategy. This new strategy began to work even before the “surge” of men arrived. The surge made it work better and faster.

It is kind of funny that you say that violence remains high outside Anbar and Baghdad. First of all, this is increasingly NOT the case, as the surge gets to the other parts of the country, but consider what you said. Anbar (i.e. triangle of death, i.e. lost) and Baghdad (i.e. hopless). We managed to tame the two worst cases, and now the opponents say it is nothing much.

When we finish the job, the lefties will say that it was easy and inevitable. That is why I am so glad that everybody is writing now.

WE have changed strategy and it is working. Your side is staying the failed course. Ironic.

Posted by: Jack at November 20, 2007 12:25 PM
Comment #238769
The progress in Iraq since the CHANGE IN STRATEGY has been truly remarkable. Most of the population is indifferent to the U.S. forces.

And how much of the Iraqi population is no longer living in Iraq (most are in turbulent Syria!) or dead? What actual percentage of pre-“war” population is actually still in Iraq, discounting, of course, those who have come into Iraq since the US invasion?????

How many of those who remain in Iraq are not capable of political activity or resistence simply because they are too busy finding a way to live…as in finding clean water, reliable electricity, etc.???

Posted by: Rachel at November 20, 2007 12:34 PM
Comment #238770

We’ve publically called for withdrawal, removal of troops within a specific timeframe. Look at the bill if you want specifics about it.

About the only thing keeping Bush’s war going is him and his Republican friends in Congress. Without them, Democrats could gather the votes to make further legislation a reality. With a Democratic President in office, there will be no excuse left for the war to continue. There’s no real political support in the party for its continuation.

Liberals have been willing to admit their mistake in supporting the war, in voting for it. We’ve been willing to be called flip-floppers and worse because we know the continuation of the war is wrong, that the way it was being run was wrong, and we weren’t about to clam up about the fact because it was inconvenient.

Where, may I ask, was this concern with specifics before support when Bush has been calling on you to support the war? Why should America not turn to Democrats, when the Republicans continue to call for people to wait for an underwhelming strategy to work?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2007 12:39 PM
Comment #238771

Stephen said: “Vote for liberals because they’ll start dealing with the failures, rather than continuing them.”

You mean like Comprehensive Immigration Reform and amnesty for illegals - the same promises made with the 1980’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform which has brought us to the present? Hillary and Obama are for Amnesty and neither has offered enforcement of existing laws and securing our borders as the most important first and expensive step solving the problem. They actually want to dilute and diminish those efforts by allocating limited funds to Amnesty procedures, documentation for illegals, and government assistance to help them stay here.

Hillary is taking bribe money from the corporations hand over fist to get elected. Is that dealing with failures or continuing them? She has set up a meeting between her campaign donors and Congress persons for lobbying purposes. Is that dealing with our problems or continuing them?

Hillary has some fantastic ideas on WMD and a nuclear fuel bank. But, simultaneously takes these positions on political campaign finance, lobbying, and amnesty. All I see happening with the election of a Democratic president is a negative image of the Bush Administration. Some things will improve for the sake of power, and other problems will grow to destructive magnitudes.

I had high hopes for the next Democratic president. They have been dashed pdq with the debates and the front runner’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. It appears both the major parties have completely and utterly rejected their dutiful role in screening candidates ensuring only the very best for the meeting the nation’s needs would be championed. Electability and the ability to rake in enormous 100’s of millions of dollars is both the major party’s main function.

Which leaves too many America voters wanting ‘None of the Above’ on the Ballot.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 20, 2007 12:42 PM
Comment #238774

A barrel of oil is hovering in the $90’s and begging for an opportunity to go to $120. The dollar is verging on collapse and it is looking like OPEC may help it along. Chinese government companies are competing with capitalist corporations around the globe and winning more and more. The Middle East has never been more unstable. What more proof is needed that the surge is working?

Posted by: jlw at November 20, 2007 12:47 PM
Comment #238780

David R. Remer-
None of the above is what got us into this crappy situation. When people vote, vote often, and politicians see that their words and deeds matter to them, they will react accordingly out of survival instinct, if not out of some sympathy with the beliefs of their constituents.

If you don’t vote, Then the politicians will satisfy those who do pay attention. Often, this will mean the party faithful, the people who see it as their duty to go out there and elect their party-members and re-elect them.

Call it the theory of political natural selection: politicians live and die according to the pressures of the voting environment. Every environment builds up in parts to it’s general state. In nature, an environment can be cold and dry, cold and wet, it can have thin soils or thick, no seasons, two seasons, or four. It can have other competitors and predators moving about, etc, etc.

When we go “none of the above” we ask to be screwed. Whatever you’re going to do, you say, do it to me, I’m powerless to stop you.

I don’t subscribe to simply voting for the less of two evils. I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure that the choices I have are good, before I have to pick the candidate. And if the choices aren’t the best? I’ll pick the better of the two candidates. If we strive to make our wishes known, if we don’t let up the pressure, the politicians will start getting the message, and start adapting as necessary.

They will adapt when they feel the pressure, but if the pressure is not enough, they will not. They have to start feeling the pressures every day. They have to get the message everyday that your political chances, your political strength depends on you following the wishes of the people.

Which brings me to a point about your hectoring on immigration reform.

You know, if I wanted to be lectured on this subject, I’d watch Lou Dobbs. I believe I’ve been clear on this subject: I’m for improving internal enforcement first. It’s our greatest weakness, not the border. It is what allows illegal alients to stay long term and bring others over. Many will get past the wall, and like any human beings confronted with an obstacle, they will adapt. What they can’t adapt to is constant negative pressure within the interior against illegal aliens. The more difficult we make it to stay, the less rewarding, whatever measures of forgiveness we have for those already here long term, we make entering the country illegally.

I know you’re going to accuse me of just saying that to say it, that I don’t really believe what I say, I know that you’ll point out whatever the politicians are or are not doing, but that is what I believe, and I’d wish you’d act more like your old self, relaxed and able to discuss other subjects than illegal immigration more calmly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2007 1:32 PM
Comment #238782

No need to get all defensive and partisan Stephen. I asked a simple question in a non-political manner.
You can keep harping Bush this and Bush that, but that does nothing to convince voters you have a better plan.

I don’t care about Bush, he will not be the one running the war and is not asking for my vote.
I do not care if liberals want to withdraw right now either.
But, if they expect to get my vote, I do care about their plan for Iraq.

The Dems plan is basically the same as the present one, except the Dems want to add timelines for the public to see.

“Where, may I ask, was this concern with specifics before support when Bush has been calling on you to support the war?”

Two wrongs don’t make a right, do they Stephen? Just because people were not concerned then, does not mean they should forget about their duty as Americans to ensure they elect the right person, does it?

Besides, I did not support the decision to go to war with Iraq and I have not supported the President or the congress in their decision to do so.

“Why should America not turn to Democrats, when the Republicans continue to call for people to wait for an underwhelming strategy to work?”

Probably because their plan is the same plan except they will give “timeframes” which cannot be counted on.
Will every “timeframe” that is not met mean the new Dem President lied to us? That their plan is a total failure?
Or will that be “different?”

Posted by: kctim at November 20, 2007 1:55 PM
Comment #238791

The above link is for those that still do not see that there are more than two people running in the Dem primary.

The Bush policy is relevant because the Rep candidates,except for Paul, offer nothing but a continuation.


What do we win if we win and why is it worth it?They are not a rogue province of the imperium. We got rid of Saddam. Their problems are theirs to deal with. There will be suffering. Not germaine .There is suffering already. At best we will be able to establish a stable stream of oil that is damageing the planet while oil oligarchs get richer and more powerful.Other than that ,what goes on in the entire region is NOB.The threat to the homeland stems directly from American imperial designs. Time to chart a new course. THAT is the moral choice before us.

Posted by: BillS at November 20, 2007 2:49 PM
Comment #238802


About two million Iraqis left the country since 2003. Life is still very hard in Iraq, but it is better and MUCH safer than it was last year. People are returning to their homes. It is still a fragile success, but it is a success.

You guys really need to update your paradigm, I keep on repeating this and I am sorry if it is getting boring, but you are still stuck in last year’s news.

Iraqis are beginning to rebuild BECAUSE they feel more secure and the more they rebuild, the more secure they will feel. It is a good cycle. It would be foolish to do the chicken run now and lose the progress we have finally achieved.

Chaos in the Middle East would be a terrible thing. We need to work to avoid that outcome, and we ARE.


Liberals have always been willing to admit BUSH’S mistakes. They still claim they were fooled by the guy they all claim is so dumb.

When conditions change and more information becomes available, you have to change your outlook. If we knew in 2003 what we know now, we would not have done as we did in Iraq. But that decision was made in 2003. It cannot be changed. All decisions are about the future. Given the conditions we face today and the choices we face today, the smart choice and the moral choice is to finish the job in Iraq.


You need to think a little more about the Middle East stability and update your information about Iraq.


There are lots of bad guys who would like to throw the Middle East into chaos. The Iraqis still cannot fight them on their own, any more than the W. Europeans could have faced down the Soviet Union or, a more apt analogy, the good people in a neighborhood inhabited by violent gangs cannot themselves get rid of the bad guys.

I want to move away from oil and all carbon based fuels, but throwing the Middle East into chaos for a generation is not the way to do it.

Posted by: Jack at November 20, 2007 4:24 PM
Comment #238804

How many trillions is Iraq worth to our economy over the next 30+ years. Even if then next 5 years is 1/2 what we spent on the first 5, and so on…. we are looking at approx. 1.6 trillion more then we just spent. So where is this money coming from, we have not funded the war in Iraq as part of the continuing budget but as emergency funding. The 1.6 trillion is probably a very low ball number. The only thing this war has gotten is more expensive. I want to win as much as you do (I have family that has been their twice already or will be their twice later this year). We have no back up plan for if violance pickes up. 2 months does not a victory make, we have as yet only seen an anomoly. While this may be good how is the country coming together? How is the reconciliation going? are we making POLITICAL progress, the surge is a military TATIC not a STRATIGY, and it is unable to be sustained.

Posted by: timesend at November 20, 2007 4:45 PM
Comment #238817
Iraqis are beginning to rebuild BECAUSE they feel more secure and the more they rebuild, the more secure they will feel.

Oh, real secure with no drinkable water, electricity that works for about an hour a day…and whose money are they using to rebuild? Ours…meanwhile our infrastructure is going to pot …

And, if we hadn’t invaded the country in the first place, they wouldn’t even have to be rebuilding…

Meanwhile, where is all the oil revenue that’s supposed to pay for the war???? Oh, yeah, we’re paying top $$ for it to give even more profits to the oil guys…

Kind of like the old “pray, pay, and obey”…just don’t dissent and keep sending money.

Posted by: Rachel at November 20, 2007 5:56 PM
Comment #238840

I have to say, big props to the NYT; yes, the NYT! They finally (finally!) put good news in Iraq on their FRONT PAGE!!!! So let me just say it now (gulp): THANK YOU NYT! :)

It’s good to see that the surge is (indeed) working; as some have said (back in July & August!) and even the MSM are now acknowledging it.

Posted by: rahdigly at November 20, 2007 9:13 PM
Comment #238855

Are you more interested in ending this war, or in finding reasons to equivocate about what Republicans and Democrats think?

The Democratic base is obviously against the war, and likely to increase their pull on the politician as time goes on. Their base is committed to it, and they won’t take no for an answer with them. The Republicans have nowhere near such commitment on their side. They’ll continue this as long as they can. They’ve shown they’re willing to ignore every sensible bit of advice to make sure that happens.

We admitted our own, admitted the errors of our votes, not merely Bush’s. Though, in all honesty, somebody has to admit them, if he will not.

Even an idiot can fool somebody if they can keep a secret, and Bush has kept plenty. As for Bush’s intelligence? He’s rather intelligence, but his main gifts seem to be in politics, not management.

Because of the mistakes he made, there is no finishing the job for us. We put that out of our reach with our policy. In the end, the Iraqi’s must make peace among themselves, and we are part of what’s keeping them from doing so.

Well, you see, success can make the news, if it’s an overall strategical success.

Unfortunately, for all that benefits Baghdad, The surge has never had the main power to extend that protection past Baghdad far enough to make the decision. Even now, we’re understaffed for the war, and even now, Bush won’t admit that, and neither will you.

Without such admissions, there’s no moving on to better strategy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2007 12:48 AM
Comment #238858


The TOTAL defense budget - including Iraq and Afghanistan - is smaller % of GDP than it was in the early 1990s and way smaller than in most of the post WWII times. Do not get carried away on this.


Clean water is available in many places again and more is coming on line all the time.

The Iraqis have money to pay for what they need, but they currently do not have the mechanisms to PROPERLY spend it, w/o budgeting experience, middles level bureaucrats etc. Under Saddam it was all a top down corruption system. The new organizations are being built. The Iraqi government has around $40 billion for next year.

I think that MOST people need to study a bit on how budgets are made and spent, how a bureaucracy is run and on the complicated organizations needed to run them well. It is hard to spend big money wisely and it takes a good bit of training and experience and some time to develop. IT even took a lot of time in E. Europe, which started from a much higher level of education and experience.

I say again, your view of Iraq is 2006. It is not like that anymore. The new strategy is working.

You can still hate Bush, but do not let that hatred cloud your judgement about what is an American success.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2007 12:57 AM
Comment #238862

Jack said: “The TOTAL defense budget - including Iraq and Afghanistan - is smaller % of GDP than it was in the early 1990s and way smaller than in most of the post WWII times.”

True. However, our generals are warning the public that our military is incapable of engaging another conflict and our defensive posture has been weakened by the war in Iraq. Not exactly appropriate management of either our military or national resources, Jack.

As for Iraq, as has been said for a very long time now and quite accurately, our goals for Iraq cannot be accomplished by our military, those goals can only be achieved by the Iraqis themselves. Reducing violence was never one of our goals for invading Iraq, Jack.

Dispense with the Bush shell game with the objectives in Iraq, will you? Reducing the violence in Iraq gets America no closer to ending our occupation of Iraq, and doesn’t change the coffin of the 40 dead Americans each month still coming home, or regrow the limbs and organs yanked out of our soldiers headed back to medical and rehabilitation centers.

Victory in Iraq was obtained at the end of 2003. This occupation of ours is about something else entirely. A 3 letter word which begins with O. Africa has many unstable regions, but, we don’t occupy countries there because of potential instability. It’s all about the O, Jack.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 21, 2007 1:29 AM
Comment #238867

Jack: The sucess in iraq is spelled twotrillionplus. I suggest a 95 percent tax on the profits of military industrial companies and oil comapnies to pay for the war. That will make them think twice about spilling American blood for profit.

The taxpayers are paying contracted workers two to three times what they are paying our soldiers. Soldiers who reenlist and then get a leg blown off are being told that they have to pay back their reenlistment bonus because they were unable to finish their reenlistment time. Disabled veterans are being told that their wounds are not service connected and therefor do not qualify for service connected pensions. That is how the Bush Administration is holding down costs. That is one hell of a success story.

Posted by: jlw at November 21, 2007 1:59 AM
Comment #238873

I think folks who’re optimistic about doing things bottoms up should read this entry here.

As I’ve said before, America learned this lesson early on: no nation can expect to blend together into one big nation when we go for a bottom-up structure. This is a rather dishonest way of accepting the defeat of the American strategy of a unified Iraq, of the surge’s failure. Instead of coming to the natural conclusion that we’ve done all we can, these people continue to try and convince people that if we just stick with it longer, we’ll win.

But with things like this, all we have left is the claim that if we leave we’ll be abandoning the Iraqis who need our help. And that can’t cut it forever. It’s shameful that we are at this point, but we’re here because people refused to accept things were going wrong at a time when something could have been done about it, when we had room to change. To save face, this Administration refused to do the stitch in time, and now we’re having to sew more than nine.

Our failure here has cost both our countries too much at this point, and the longer we perseverate, the worse the costs will become.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2007 2:52 AM
Comment #238890
Clean water is available in many places again and more is coming on line all the time.

And for this we’re spending trillions of our own tax money.

Posted by: Rachel at November 21, 2007 9:21 AM
Comment #238896


Pumps are usually fairly cheap, often solar powered. Most of the water stations were not damaged by the war. They just need repairs and maintenance.

Let me get this straight, however, you would prefer that Iraqis suffer more and that we lose the war? If some reconstruction help can help bring better health to the Iraqi people and help stabilize the region, is your hatred for the President so perverse as to wish that outcome not come to pass?


Did you make up that leg story yourself or get it from the Internet?

The TOTAL defense dept budget is a smaller % of GDP today than it was in the early 1990s and way lower than it was for most of the post-WWII period when most of us grew up.

Would you prefer to lose this war? Do you think failure is better than success? We are achieving success now, so that talking point is now gone, so you are moving on to what? Welcoming defeat and helping it along?

And nobody is spilling blood for profit. Do you also prefer Saddam or terrorism to stability?


It would indeed be immoral to desert the Iraqis, but that is not my main argument. The main point is that it is in our interests to help them and thereby help create a more stable Middle East.

We are succeeding and I believe we will succeed as long as the fools in Washington (read Dems) do not pull defeat from the jaws for victory and doom their country and the world to decades of instability out of their narrow minded partisan petulance and hatred. THAT would be immoral.

Dems need to start thinking again like Jack Kennedy or Harry Truman and stop listening the current crop of defeatist weenies.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2007 10:05 AM
Comment #238899
Let me get this straight, however, you would prefer that Iraqis suffer more and that we lose the war?

Inferring usually leads to faulty statements…like the one I quoted above.

The Iraqis had clean water and electricity until the US put sanctions on Iraq and subsequently invaded…the Iraqi people have suffered more under US sanctions and US invasion than they did under their brutal dictator…our invasion destabilized the Middle East even more…

The US sanctions and invasions have done nothing for the Iraqis and have nearly bankrupted the US middle class…our grandchildren will be paying for this fiasco for years…

Posted by: Rachel at November 21, 2007 11:22 AM
Comment #238900


And nobody is spilling blood for profit.

Oh please!

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 21, 2007 11:35 AM
Comment #238901


I agreed with you, except for the part regarding US sanctions on Iraq. Sanctions were international, not only US.

And in 2002-2003, another coincidence, the international community were considering ending them, for the reason you said: iraqis were suffering it all, while Saddam none.

Since, they both suffers.

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 21, 2007 11:41 AM
Comment #238902
I say again, your view of Iraq is 2006. It is not like that anymore. The new strategy is working.

Which one? The new new strategy or the old new strategy? Because, you know, I’m lost regarding the long new strategies in Iraq…

You can still hate Bush, but do not let that hatred cloud your judgement about what is an American success.

That an all new definition to the word success.

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 21, 2007 11:47 AM
Comment #238906


So you also opposed the UN sanctions that were the alternative to war? You would just let dictators like Saddam do as they please? Maybe you guys can talk them to death.

A couple of facts you want to remember about sanctions. 1) They were UN sanctions. I thought you guys liked the UN. (2) they ALLOWED the importation of food, medicine and the necessities of life. The fact that Saddam misused them and used the suffering of his people as a propaganda point is shows an important weakness of sanctions.

Iraq, BTW, produced more electricity now than it did at any time under Saddam. Many areas now have their own generation capacity. When people count only the electricity from the grid, they fail to account for that. If you walk through Iraqi cities, you see lots of diesel and even solar generation supplying groups of houses or firms. What has happened is that post-Saddam people have bought a lot more electronic devices (refrigerators, computers etc). Demand for electricity is much higher than it was. Electricity from the grid is FREE. That is why demand for it is almost limitless. I personally think it would be a good idea to charge a little.

The hysteria over the cost of the war is also just silly. The TOTAL defense budget today is a smaller % of GDP than it was in the early 1990s. It is much lower than the post WWII average. It did not bankrupt us when it was several times higher.

Finally, the quickest way to get this problem solved is to achieve success, which we currently ARE doing. Success will be cheaper in terms of blood and treasure than failure. So if you are really worried about the costs, welcome back the the fight. We will win this time.


I have written on many occasions that success in Iraq means a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors. We are well on our way to achieving that. We made major changes in strategy about a year ago. It is working. I wish we had gotten there sooner, but I am not sure it was POSSIBLE sooner.

There is an interesting quirk in war. Sometimes you have to fight until you win and even the loser needs to think he fought honorably. When the Iraqi armies were defeated with such ease in a couple of weeks, those conditions were not present. The Sunnis in Anbar fought hard and realized that (1) they could not win (2) they had fought honorably and (3) AQI was much worse than the U.S. They did not believe these things in 2004. Some war was needed for them to change their minds.

Today, for example, the Sunni sheiks love the Marines, who they see as fellow warriors even though (perhaps BECAUSE) they shed each others’ blood. I am not a warrior. I do not really understand these things, but I can appreciate that they are true.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2007 12:21 PM
Comment #238917

“Are you more interested in ending this war, or in finding reasons to equivocate about what Republicans and Democrats think?”

I am more interested in ending this war. That is why I want to know if the Dem plan will differ or not.
And I am not “finding reasons” as you say, the facts are easily seen.

Supposed “timeframes” or the letter (D) in the same plan, does not make it a better plan.

This is our plan. This is how it is different than the current plan. This is why it is a better plan. This is how it will work.

If they cannot give an honest accessment of the war and tell the people those few things, then why should we vote for more of the same?

Posted by: kctim at November 21, 2007 12:49 PM
Comment #238948
So you also opposed the UN sanctions that were the alternative to war?

Alternative? the sanctions were a war on the children of Iraq!! Obviously, after 12 years of sanctions, they were having no effect on Saddam Hussein…and not enough effect, either, to keep the US from illegally invading a sovereign nation.

The nation with the most marks against it per the UN is Israel…why isn’t the US invading Israel to stop the carnage and injustice by the Israelis??? Why do you think the Palestinians raised for generations now in “camps” still rise up against Israel’s land grab???

Posted by: Rachel at November 21, 2007 4:43 PM
Comment #238966
You would just let dictators like Saddam do as they please?

Except in case of genocide or attack on other country, yes.

We tolerate many dictatorships sovereignty, I don’t get why Saddam should have been such an exception.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 21, 2007 7:34 PM
Comment #238996

Philippe and Rachel

You guys have a very interesting notion of sovereignty, and a bit old fashioned. It is essentially the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia idea that the person in power in a particular country has the right to do what he pleases within it. I wonder if you all will still hold to that idea after Bush has left office.

In your formulation, we had no leverage over Saddam. Sanction cannot be employed and neither can force. I guess we could try to ask him nicely to behave. But in the interests of consistency, you would have to apply that to other countries, including France and the U.S.

BTW – we did not invade Iraq mostly for humanitarian reasons. We cannot take that credit or blame. We invaded Iraq because Saddam was in violation of his commitment related to the cease fire after the first Gulf War and we believed he presented a gathering threat (the President specifically did NOT say imminent BTW. Some of the specifics of this turned out to be mistaken. But I do not think it makes much sense to talk about that over and over again.

BTW2 - in our other thread we are talking about AIDS. It turns out not to be the threat we thought. Some people are saying that it is not the threat we thought BECAUSE we addressed it strongly. We can never know if that is true of AIDS or Saddam or any threat that is addressed before it becomes a catastrophe.

Our decisions now are about the future, not the past. You can argue the we were stupid, craven, greedy, good or bad in 2003, but it is now 2007. What do we do NOW? Now the best course, the moral course and the smart course is to finish the job in Iraq. Success is the best and fastest way to end the problem. We are achieving success now and now is what counts.


Your genocide exception is interesting. Who defines it? In Darfur, Colin Powell called the situation genocide, but the UN has refused to use the term.


I think Palestinians are in camps for generations because it is politically convenient. This crisis has been going on since 1948. Think about that. It was about that time that millions of Germans were kicked out of lands their ancestors had lived for 1000 years. The same goes for Poles, Hungarians and many others. These were much more massive than the Palestinian movements. They were in camps for a while, then they settled someplace else. Today you do not find German suicide bombers in Warsaw or Hugarian terrorists in Bucharest. We would not even consider this. Why are the Palestinians so different?

Posted by: Jack at November 22, 2007 12:46 AM
Comment #239011
Why are the Palestinians so different?

If you don’t know the answer, I would suggest you might want to study Israel’s politics since 1948…

I’m also betting Iraqis (especially those who have had to flee their own country) will remember for generations and generations who it was who ruined their beautiful country by invasion and occupation…there’s a festering sore that provide terrorists with able and willing recruits for decades if not centuries.

Posted by: Rachel at November 22, 2007 9:05 AM
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