Democrats & Liberals Archives

America Ends Combat Mission in Iraq

The last combat troops have left Iraq.

Enough said. Enough done. Let’s go home. My thanks to all the troops who have risked their lives and given their lives in this fight.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 18, 2010 9:05 PM
Comment #306265

One time we can agree Stephen

Posted by: MAG at August 18, 2010 9:10 PM
Comment #306272

Yes. We won.

thanks to all who made that possible.

Posted by: C&J at August 18, 2010 9:57 PM
Comment #306277

No, we didn’t win. I don’t want that to be our takeaway here, because while our soldiers did a great job, and things have improved, our original ambitions were dashed, and Iraq is not the country it once was.

Make no mistake, that was never what I wanted.

My second post, on the 17th of January in 2004, was on Iraq War Casualty lists, or the lack thereof, as I could find them. Since then, I must have done a huge number of posts on it. But at the start, say, about 2004-2006, I really did believe that victory acceptable on the original terms, or something close, was possible.

Then all hell broke loose. For me, it’s a bitter regret. I have long taken pride in American military victories, and never wanted this one chalked in the loss column.

But if we are to avoid the problematic tendency to whitewash bad behavior, we must admit our failure in succeeding at our original ambitions. We must also admit, that in a very real way, because of the failure of the Bush Administration to build a legitimate case for war that would bear scrutiny in the real world, there was never a real way to fulfil our original purpose in fighting this war: protecting America from the Terrorists.

We were sold a fantasy, and suffered for the sake of our disillusionment. I had hoped, though, we could put this war behind us, fulfill the mission of reforming Iraqi society to leave it better off, but I believe our failure to prevent the sectarian schism of the country has left things worse off than when we got there. I wish we could say otherwise.

We need to learn from this, not repeat these mistakes. We don’t need to create another Vietnam myth to paper over terrible policies that cost us dearly. We need to let the sunlight in and have the courage to face our defeat on this matter with some kind of clear-eyed dignity, and we need to do that so we can win next time, not merely protract a loss over several years.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 18, 2010 11:00 PM
Comment #306278
Yes, we won…

……I think

Posted by: gergle at August 18, 2010 11:05 PM
Comment #306280

A memorial was erected for the fallen of our last Unnecessary War in Viet Nam. Nothing less is acceptable for the fallen in this latest Unnecessary War.

In fact, it should be called, The Unnecessary War Memorial, in order to remind future generations of the terrible loss and folly that can be so easily and readily undertaken in the absence of an informed voting public.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 18, 2010 11:09 PM
Comment #306284


Saddam is gone. Iraq, for all its flaws, is the most democratic of the Arab countries. We crushed the local insurgency and we beat them on a battlefield of their choosing in the heart of the Middle East. Our forces scared the crap out of the bad guys. We left the county when we decided to leave. This is not very different from our “original” ambition. None of this looked possible in late 2006. We turned the situation around in 2007, but I think our perceptions remain frozen in December 2006.

Call it what you want. I know I cannot change your opinion and I don’t know what arguments you could bring up to change mine. We could still mess it up, but I think the trajectory is okay.

I have written on many occasions that I believe it was probably a mistake to undertake the war in 2002. But once committed, we needed to finish the job. We did.

BTW - we did learn how to defeat an insurgency … again. I don’t think the lesson takes well because we don’t like it. We seem to need to relearn the lessons that it takes a network to defeat a network and you have to be prepared to work it for a while.


Someday there will be a memorial for those who fought and died in Iraq. I hope that those who actually were there have a big voice in determining its form.

Posted by: C&J at August 18, 2010 11:29 PM
Comment #306286

David, It may have been an unecessary war but to errect a memorial and call it that would be a slap in the face to all that served. By the way David all wars are unnecessary as long as the leaders who started the fight, fight it out among themselves.

Posted by: MAG at August 18, 2010 11:35 PM
Comment #306288

George Bush may have avoided World War III by invading Iraq.

Instead of waiting until the region was engulfed in war, as was Europe in 1941, G.W. changed the senerio. Perhaps for the best. Perhaps not. Perhaps not because he did not prepare our country for a protracted engagement. Perhaps for the best because he gave the people of Iraq the chance his father and Bill Clinton didn’t. He gave the people of Iraq the chance to secure their freedom.

I think George Bush avoided a protracted engagement that would be known as World War III by invading Iraq. G.W.Bush gave Iraq a choice. It’s up to Iraq now, and I think they will do what they need to do to secure their freedom.

Posted by: Weary Willie at August 19, 2010 12:29 AM
Comment #306289

By avoiding World War III, George Bush also derailed the Democratic’s plan.

The Democratics are using FDR’s New Deal Play book and the World War was supposed to be at the end of the depression! G.W. preempted WWIII but the Progressives are still sticking to their gameplan. They think they can repeat the 1930’s and instead of the New Deal they’re substituting Obamacare.

Everything that is happening now happened in the 1930’s. It’s a repeat. Except…

The Democratics were hoping a World War would pull us out of this depression, but GW fracked it all up by making WWIII a non-event.

What’s left? (Pun intended!)

Jam it down our throats before they get voted out?

Posted by: Weary Willie at August 19, 2010 12:56 AM
Comment #306290

WW, you need to share that s**t you’re smokin’ !

Posted by: jane doe at August 19, 2010 12:58 AM
Comment #306292

Here ya go, beeyoch!

Posted by: Weary Willie at August 19, 2010 1:14 AM
Comment #306293

MAG, to lie and hide the fact that it was an Unnecessary War is a slap in the face of those who died and those who will die in another Unnecessary War in the future for the lack of such a memorial.

If my son died in Iraq, I would NOT want that fact lost to the those in the future in owe him their honor for serving his country, right or wrong.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 19, 2010 3:24 AM
Comment #306294

Weary Willie, your perspective is pure BULLCRAP, partisan apologetic propaganda. Saddam Hussein was NO THREAT to the region, nor the U.S. His military capacity was paltry, designed to keep his people in tow, not other nations. Those facts have been well documented. It was an an entirely Unnecessary War and one founded on FALSE pretenses. That too is now historical record.

An American president has a solemn duty to insure that when he orders our soldiers to their deaths, that his reasons and intelligence are sound. There was no imminent danger from Iraq precluding Bush taking the time to get the intelligence right. His administration’s decision was a rush to war for political and personal reasons, followed by cover-up and illegal outing of a CIA operative for revenge for her husband exposing that cover-up.

Iraq posed no danger to the world. You, LIKE BUSH JR, confuse Iran with Iraq. Get a frickin’ education and dump the partisan blinders.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 19, 2010 3:31 AM
Comment #306299

War, killing, battling for territory are all human instincts that were a part of survival of early man. We are probably slowly evolving away from that as there are many in society who have little interest in it. But for now, any war that doesn’t escalate and serves as an outlet for our societies’ needs for an enemy has its purpose. There will always be an enemy; if not Iraq or some other external source, the war hawks will be happy to turn certain politicians into the hated enemy.

Posted by: Schwamp at August 19, 2010 8:25 AM
Comment #306300


Saddam WAS a threat to OPEC and Saudi Oil fields.

Posted by: gergle at August 19, 2010 8:35 AM
Comment #306322

Hail to the heroic men and women who have served our nation well in Iraq and the 50,000 left behind to provide support for the Iraq nation. We all can hope that by prying the window open just a little in Iraq that freedom will flourish and perhaps become contagious in the region.

I watched a video yesterday which showed George W. Bush and Laura welcoming home returning service members at DFW in Dallas last week. My heart was lifted as I saw these men and women with huge smiles on thier faces greet the president and embrace family members.

As a member of the American Legion we, and others, meet and welcome home service members at our small local airport.

I eagerly await the day when all our service members from all around the world come home to this blessed land.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 19, 2010 11:59 AM
Comment #306326

I’m amazed at the people from La-La land posting here. This war was about oil plain and simple-you can dress it up anyway you want-a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. To send our servicemen and women to fight for Dick Cheney and the oil companies is disgusting. Had the draft been instituted for both males and females-this war would have NEVER happened. A good way to control our war urges is to tell every American with an eligible daughter or son-your child will go-that would change everything. Doesn’t matter how much money you make, whether college is in your child’s future-they are eligible they must go.

I am happy that the combat troops are home. We still have men and women who are still there and until the last soldier steps foot on American soil-I can’t be fully happy. Will this end up being another Korea, Japan, so forth-where we continue to have a presence forever.

Let’s don’t forget that now we have 7,000 civilians doing our bidding in Iraq. You can change blackwaters name but what they have done and can do in Iraq won’t change.

It will be years before we know whether Iraq will be able to keep it together.

Yes, I am glad for the soldiers that have come home but I can’t be truly excited until the last one has left.

Posted by: Carolina at August 19, 2010 12:33 PM
Comment #306331

Fox just released to results of their propaganda blitz.

18% of Americans think Obama is a Muslim. Not hard to figure out which side of the political equations those 18% are on. Cognitive abilities on display.

An example: “The Democrats were hoping for a World War would pull us out of this depression,”

WWIII without nuclear or biological weapons? WWIII without those great bastions of liberalism, like Huston, being fried? WWIII will end the depression?

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hal le lu jah, George Bush saved the world, hal le lu jah.

Weary Willy, why hasn’t Obama attacked Iran, North Korea or Venezuela? Not enough time in office? It seems to me that he has plenty of time to get the show up and running. Those combat troops could have gone straight into Iran instead of Kuwait.

Halliburton is having no trouble supplying the oil fields, Exxon is having no problems getting the oil and the revenue out, more than 50,000 troops remain to guard the oil fields.

Posted by: jlw at August 19, 2010 1:30 PM
Comment #306340

Weary Willie-
It might surprise you to know that I favored regime change from the beginning. I had no love for Saddam Hussein, or anybody like him.

But even when was much younger, I knew that when you slay a dragon, you do so in such a way that another dragon won’t come and take its place.

Bush prosecuted his war foolishly, at a bad time, and that is why I opposed his policies. That’s also why I opposed the Surge. I later would accept the results because they were more towards what I was aiming for in the first place, to allow us to leave this mistake of a war without causing utter chaos.

As for what you imply? What crap. The Stimulus would be more like what we were aiming for, suggesting. We don’t need a war to pump up defense spending and defense contracts, we already have two. Additionally, most Democrats, if you care to actually read what they say, do not support continuing the wars, much less continuing them as a means of stimulus. If they cite the role that WWII had in stimulating us out of the Depression, they do so purely to sing the praises of government intervention, not the positive economic effects of a World War.

You would also have to pardon me if I don’t think that the way Bush ran these two wars did much to benefit the stability of the region.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 19, 2010 3:09 PM
Comment #306341

jlw there was more to that survey 18% Muslim, 34% Christian and 43% don’t know. What side are the 43% who don’t know or the 34% who think he is Christian? It sure ain’t all Reps.

David If I had a son who died in Iraq and some idiot proposed a memorial calling it the Unnecessary War memorial I’d be highly pissed off. Only and ignorant idiot with no heart would want to memorialize our troops with a memorial like that. It was no fault of the troops who had to be there, you having been in the Military should know they only follow orders of the idiots who are running this country. By the way I served in one of those Unnecessary Wars you talked about,Viet Nam. Maybe we should make a monument to the a—hole idiots who put us in these unnecessary wars instead.

Posted by: MAG at August 19, 2010 3:11 PM
Comment #306344

I will admit the situation is better than it was in 2006, and 2007. That is the main reason why I tempered my dissent on the war. But we didn’t win the war as conclusively as you say. We had a lot of help from groups that were formerly of the insurgency, from Iraqis who we reached out to. We did a number of things right that we failed to do before.

But that doesn’t change the fact that our original intention, to cut off the head, and put another in its place, failed miserably. We let the country get out of control, causing permanent damage to both the culture and the country.

We shouldn’t have had to learn to defeat an insurgency. We should have prevented it in the first place by not letting the country get so badly out of control.

We didn’t have to fight a seven year war to get to the place where we are now. Hell, we could have fought a much shorter war to a better end, if we had just changed our policies early, and actually measured success by results instead of empty symbolism.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 19, 2010 3:25 PM
Comment #306365

The oil contracts between Saddam Hussein and the Russians/Chinese/French oil companies have been replaced with contracts between the current puppet government and the American/British/Dutch oil companies. Nice. And the current Iraqi government, such as it is, is arguably the most corrupt in the entire Middle East. It can’t be considered a democracy, since the country is STILL occupied by over 50,000 foreign- that is, US- troops.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, uncounted wounded, millions of refugees, and the US economy reeling from the financial costs. It was perhaps the most despicable war in American history. Good riddance, and a pox on those who caused so much suffering and bloodshed, whether they be Muslim, Jewish or Christian.

Posted by: phx8 at August 19, 2010 5:17 PM
Comment #306385

I will second that, Royal Flush. And third!

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 19, 2010 7:06 PM
Comment #306388

Let’s send all those homebound warriors to Manhattan to fight off all those Muslim terrorists who want to build that Community Center/basketball court a few blocks from ground zero.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 19, 2010 7:28 PM
Comment #306389


Finally someone with perspective…thanks.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 19, 2010 7:29 PM
Comment #306399


I know about these former insurgents. We were lucky in that Al Qaeda in Iraq were such complete savages that the locals got sick of their murder, rape & shariah and embraced our forces.

We could not have won w/o the help of these Iraqis, but w/o our help the people of Anbar would have been murdered and terrorized by Al Qaeda and the bad guys would have hung on. We and our Iraqi Muslim friends physically removed most of the bad guys from the battlefield and it was good.

I agree that we let the insurgency get out of hand. We should have been a both a little more flexible and little tougher at first. But I have to point out that the Anbaris (I know less about the others) consider themselves warriors. There probably had to be some bloodshed before they could honorably work with us. I know that us peaceful people hate to recognize this.


The war was about oil but not for oil. If it was a war FOR oil we would have the oil. Personally, I think we should have used oil revenues to support the rebuilding part of the mission, instead of using our own money.

BTW - Unfortunately, American firms didn’t get most of the oil. The Chinese and Russian are still getting a lot.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2010 8:34 PM
Comment #306406

Yes we won and the surge worked!

Posted by: Edge at August 19, 2010 9:10 PM
Comment #306414

I still don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. In any case I am glad to see the conflict come to an end that is satisfactory with regard to our national security needs.

The perspective of how long it has taken is startling. I have friends from school who are serving in the armed forces right now. We were in middle school when the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan began. When the wars began we had no idea that the burden would end up on our shoulders.

Nevertheless, I must thank the work of everyone who served. Especially David Petraeus and the others who realized three and a half years ago that these wars are not won by blowing things up and breaking things. You need to engage the community and build a network of allies square inch by square inch until the populace is on your side. It is impossible for a freedom-loving nation such as ours to occupy a people if they do not support our presence.

Posted by: Warped Reality at August 19, 2010 9:59 PM
Comment #306429

“China and Russia are still getting a lot.” Yes, and American taxpayers have been subsidizing them as well.

New players like Royal Dutch China and Exxon Beijing.

This new Iraqi government seems to be fully capable of matching or exceeding Saddam in corruption.

Posted by: jlw at August 20, 2010 12:21 AM
Comment #306436


The Iraqi government is much like governments throughout the Arab world in that respect. Where it differs is that it is more of a democracy. I kinda like democracy, but that is just my opinion.

The problem with Saddam was not corruption. It was his deadly aggression. We can doubt lots of things, but we should be in no doubt that it is better w/o him.

re the Chinese and Russians, you are right. I don’t like that situation. It does prove, however, that it was not a war FOR oil. As I implied, it might have been better if it had been, because then we would have the oil.

Posted by: C&J at August 20, 2010 7:56 AM
Comment #306441

I don’t think there needed to be bloodshed. Just a sense that we were in control, or at least not the biggest threat to their sheikdoms.

On the subject of Sharia law, they probably didn’t like the extremity of al-Qaeda’s notion of it, but they probably run some version of that software, so to speak. It would be as hard to escape from that, as it would be to have escaped from Christianity in the European laws of the 1800’s.

The real problem is that we lacked the manpower to actually occupy the place, and the leaders already there often lacked the sense of how Democracy worked that was necessary to be assets to the plan. What we also lacked was an American government whose thinking was flexible, and whose focus was on getting the job done right, rather than getting stubborn in order to show their political enemeies back home who’s boss.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 20, 2010 8:33 AM
Comment #306453

“It does prove, however, that it was not a war FOR oil.”

No it just means we lost that war.

Posted by: womanmarine at August 20, 2010 11:22 AM
Comment #306455

People see higher gas prices and say ‘we’ did not benefit, since ‘we’ are paying more for oil. They are confusing ‘we’ the American people with ‘we’ the corporations. The Big Oil corporations did fantastically well under Bush and the GOP, better than any other industry under any other administration in the history of the United States.

A few benefit a great deal from war. They make tremendous profits. Most suffer.

For the price of the invasion and occupation of Iraq to date, Americans could have provided themselves with cradle to grave health care for every man, woman and child. For the total cost, Americans could also have provided a college education for every citizen who wanted it, as well as lowered the retirement age.

And yet, these same people who talk about how the US ‘won’ the war in Iraq will also condemn national health care and public education and a lower retirment age as some sort of ‘entitlement,’ as if it were undeserved- a pernicious form of socialism- even as they cheer on the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis as a ‘win’ for the United States.

Posted by: phx8 at August 20, 2010 11:58 AM
Comment #306459

I am glad that this “combat mission” is over however 50k troops in that country is still a lot. I am glad that all of my friends that served over there made it home safely. I wish I could say the same for the families and friends of the thousands of Americans killed or wounded. I wish I could say this for the families and friends of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who’s lives were shortened in one way or another.

It sickens me when people declare “we won!” Nope, not even close. What did we win? Nothing. We are broke. Our citizens were killed and seriously wounded, perhaps more than 100,000 will be dealing with the psychological effects of combat for the rest of their lives. Iraq is about as close to being a “free” country as it was under Saddam - just going to be run by a different group of thugs. We changed the balance of power in the Middle East in favor of Iran. Smart move. Wars are sad and the ultimate failure on all sides. What’s worse was that there was nothing pressing to commit such an act of violence. It was a war of choice and a bad choice.

Iraq had nor has no national movement toward democracy. There are no Thomas Jeffersons, John Adams, or George Washingtons in that country. There are sectarian leaders but no national leaders that have risen above being a representative of their ethnic group - nor do I see any with the desire to be. Iraq was not ready for what we forced upon them. It would’ve been different if we were supporting an internal struggle to oust Saddam. He was a bastard and I would have welcomed his removal by his own people. We did it all for them. They did not fight for this or earn this. They suffered viciously from collateral damage from both sides but did not make this fight their own. Thus they did not put themselves on the line to earn their chance at freedom it was forced upon them. That is neither the path to success nor what a free country should ver do to another people. We acted badly from a political perspective.

Our troops did the job they were sent to do as well as it could have possible been done given the gross incompetence of leadership in the early years of this boondoggle. They should be celebrated as heroes and be treated better in the aftermath of this war than they will likely to be given our history with returning veterans. They political machinations were not theirs. They were put in a dangerous situation and fought for each other and to keep each other alive not for a political reason. They made great sacrifices for each other some made the supreme sacrifice. It won’t be wasted if we learn the lessons of this folly.

Preemptive war is a horrible idea.

Posted by: tcsned at August 20, 2010 12:47 PM
Comment #306469

Wow is it hard to win a war!! Even when America wins a war the left wants to make certain to make it’s points.

“Ok we won a war, but let’s make absolutely certain, Bush was still 100% wrong in every way, and the Republicans are the way to hell.”

Is there ever a time (I know the answer) when we can simply say, the war in won, let’s have a parade and thank the men and women in uniform who served?

Iraq is a better place today than it was under Sadaam. We can thank the men and women in uniform for making that happen.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 20, 2010 2:04 PM
Comment #306473

Craig, we shouldn’t have to spend years spinning lies into justification for a war. And perhaps it is a better place today, but in who’s opinion? Has anyone bothered to ask the people who live there after their lives (if still blessed with ones) have been turned upside down for over 7 years?
I’m just sorry that nearly 5,000 uniformed men and women had to die for such an egregious debacle to sate the greed and drive of a handful of idiots. And that doesn’t even get close to the civilian loss who suffered by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As far as thanking those that “made it happen”….the uniformed participants …I thank them every chance I get, just as I continue to thank the VietNam veterans. Unfortunately, as long as greed and stupidity live together, that uniformed populace will continue to bear the brunt, and pay the price for it.

Posted by: jane doe at August 20, 2010 2:31 PM
Comment #306480

Craig, that war cost America 800 billion dollars, and will continue to cost America for many years to come with 50,000 troops remaining there.

The reasons for invading were wrong and false. The cost put Americans nearly a trillion dollars more in debt. And you want to try to make the argument that it was a worthwhile adventure for the American people? And yes, it was Bush Jr.’s and Cheney’s war. It never would have happened without their lying and jumping the gun on the intelligence. Just a fact, Craig. Nothing partisan about facts. They are what they are. It matters not whether a lefty, righty, or independent acknowledges these facts. They remain facts - TO BE LEARNED FROM, hopefully.

Republicans led this country to adding more than 5 trillion dollars to our national debt in 8 years. A fact. It has a pedagogic function for anyone wishing to learn and be responsible as a citizen of these United States. It is no partisan to acknowledge facts and respond appropriately to them in future decisions.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 20, 2010 4:00 PM
Comment #306482

Let’s pretend that we won by winning the war. Let’s not talk about what it cost us and is continuing to cost us.

C&J, you are right, the Iraqis now have a government more like ours, corrupt to the core.

“It was deadly aggression.”

Yea, and George Bush sure got Saddam’s goat by proving that when it comes to deadly aggression, we are far more efficient although much more expensive as well.

The Iraqis are not better of because Saddam is gone. They may be better of because of his removal, after they rebuild their country with their 25% cut of the oil revenue and if their politicians don’t steal it all or give it to the corporations.

tcsned, excellent comment of supporting an Iraqi revolution as opposed to doing it for them. We had that opportunity and turned it down.

phx8, cradle to grave health, college educations and lower retirement age? Apparent ExxonMobil’s $48 billion in profits is more important than those things and will continue to be so as long as the people want to remain ignorant.

Posted by: jlw at August 20, 2010 4:03 PM
Comment #306489


Your argument assumes that we were not spending any money in the middle east before the Iraq war, and have not ever had any troops there. It also assumes that the United States and the Security counsel would have made no changes to the existing policies at the time.

The fact is that we had a serious problem with Sadaam. The “no fly zone” and “food for Oil” policies were falling apart. Congress was pushing for a regime change.

Had Bush not been president, another action against Sadaam would have been created an enforced. We will never know if that action would have resulted in a better or worse outcome.

What we do know is that the war has been won and whether the Iraqi people can make it a success or not, it is in their hands and not the hands of a dictator.

Your financial figures do not count the cost of enforcing the “no fly zone” and the “food for oil” policies. Nor does your 50,000 figure count the number of troops we have had in the middle east since WWII. You are assuming that they are all new troops to the region. You are also assuming that we will keep them there indefinitely.

Actually, I don’t even know your thoughts on your Iraq solution would have been back in 2003? Was it status quo?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 20, 2010 4:49 PM
Comment #306491


I agree that we don’t have to spend years lying to justify a war. There is no need for lies on the left or the right.

I am very glad that the left was wrong and the war was not lost after all!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 20, 2010 4:58 PM
Comment #306516

Stephen and others

You are thinking like a rational Western man of the 21st Century. That would be my opinion too, but I saw the other. I remember a particular incident when our Colonel met a tough Iraqi former soldier. The Colonel had fought in the of Fallujah and his exploits were well known in Western Anbar. The Iraqi looked at us and said (through the translator) “My brother was killed by Marines in Fallujah. He fought bravely. You did too. Maybe you killed him. You are both men.” I interpreted his expression as pride. We had a good working relationship with these guys and their colleagues. We ate with them, walked with them and sometimes lived with them. There were certainly times when they could have killed me if they wanted to. Instead they helped kill our mutual enemies (and often did a really good job.)

I am was just a simple kid brought up in the Midwest. Violence was rare where I grew up. We weren’t warriors. I don’t understand the all the parts of the warrior ethos, but I recognize that it is there and that it has its own set of requirements and behaviors. As I said, I cannot speak for the whole country, but I got to know the tribes and people of Western Anbar fairly well and that is what I saw there.

Re democracy – I think we have to recognize “consent of the governed” and not be very precise in the form that it has to take. Again, I am not trying to say that I am an expert on Arabs or Iraqis or even Anbaris, but I had a year of up close and personal contact with people trying to make sense of a changed system. We helped reestablish courts and councils. The people wanted these things, but they required enough protection to let it happen. The bad guys would kill and maim people who tried to make things better. I probably previously wrote about the man and his eleven year old son who they beheaded and threw in a ditch because they tried to sell food. Many of the first Iraqis who stood up to the insurgents suffered similar fates. Security always and everywhere must precede other developments and nobody can scare away bad guys better than the USMC.

Anyway, the councils are traditional. We didn’t invent them or introduce them. Even with the translators, I could never tell what was going on. There was a cacophony, everybody talking at once, sometimes literally twisting arms. But then a consensus could be reached and stuff could happen. It is not my kind of democracy, but it is a kind of democracy and I respect that it is their kind of democracy.

The Iraqis are an intelligent and resourceful people. Before the lost decades under Saddam, they had been among the best educated people in the Arab world. They have an excellent system of roads and an outstanding rail network. If this rail network is ever connect to the Med, it will vastly improve shipping time to the Persian Gulf. There is enough sweet water in the Tigris and Euphrates (even with all the dams) to produce wonderful agriculture on some very fertile soils. With modern methods, they can also reclaim those soils, destroyed by saliniztion and thousands of years of misuse. We helped make plans for the restoration of a string of oases - I called them the emerald necklace - that would help slow the wind and catch the sand. The “desert” in many places is really a steppe and can support vegetation if treated properly. You are from Texas. Think Llano Estacado. In pre-Saddam times they had rows of date palms, olives and pistachios that protected cities and actually improved the local climate. These also went into ruin during the dark times. It is truly sad to see what was, but inspiring to imagine what can be again. Saddam even drained the marshes to punish his opponents who were hiding there. They can be restored. They are being restored. The Iraqis have plenty of money and good land. If they have a reasonably good government, it can become a great country.

I know you disagree with me, but I am proud that we have given Iraqis this change. It was indeed at great cost to us, in both blood and treasure and I don’t know if it will ever be “worth it” to us. But maybe in a generation, when things are working well and everybody says that is the “natural way” it should be, somebody will remember the kick start (yes it took a kick) we gave them.

As I think you know. I invested a year of my life in the Western desert. I was lucky. I got there just when, I know in retrospect, we turned the situation around and things started to get much better. Nevertheless, conditions were generally not pleasant and sometimes dangerous. But working with great people - American, Iraqi and others - and doing what I think was good work made it worth it. I know that people have read a lot about what happened there and many people had a harder time. But I am telling you what I saw, heard and felt. Others can answer as they wish. I think we did good.

Posted by: C&J at August 20, 2010 9:24 PM
Comment #306529


Thank you for sharing your experience. Thank you also for serving your country.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 20, 2010 11:16 PM
Comment #306538

Craig Holmes-
We never found WMDs. We never found the terrorist presence that was supposed to pre-exist that invasion.

These were the two reasons to distract ourselves from Afghanistan. These were the two threats that would have proved the war necessary.

They never proved true. By logic alone, this was never a necessary war.

Afghanistan, with the problems of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda there, was a much more necessary war. But it got short shrift in the wake of the Iraq invasion, and that didn’t get better as the war got even more out of control.

The war getting out of control also did not help our aims, which was to make Iraq a beacon of Democracy, a beacon of enlightened, republican self rule, an Arab counterpart to Israel’s Democracy.

Once things broke down with the destruction of the Golden Mosque, we were basically defeated in those aims.

Instead, since then, we’ve been trying to win the fight to leave Iraq without it blowing up in our face. That’s what the Surge was about.

Maybe fortune will smile on us, and as we leave, Iraq will remain in one piece. But if it doesn’t, it won’t be because Obama set a firm timeline for getting out. It will be because Iraq got so screwed up that all the King’s Men and all the King’s Horses couldn’t put the damn thing back together again.

We had bigger fish to fry, unless he actually was stupid enough to try and exploit our situation. If he attacked us while we were reeling from 9/11, or attacked a neighbor, he would have found another coalition parking its tanks up his ass. All this talk about Mushroom Clouds being the smoking gun was fine if you had the evidence, but if not, then your imagination was taking you on a magical mystery tour of a wild goose chase, and that at the time you were having to deal with the Terrorists.

You say it would have cost more. Can you show me the budget figures for that? I find it hard to believe that several years of active warfare, with all the fuel, ammunition, troop logistics, mechanical maintenance and other costs would have been equalled by a relatively low key patrol environment, with a few tens of thousands of soldiers kept in play nearby just in case.

And what did we intervene to do? Leave a country we’ll be nervously glancing at over the shoulder?

Damn it, don’t you realize that this was part and parcel of what I dissented early on to prevent? You guys saw victory as some sort of body-count game, and hoped that the Bad guys would run out of quarters.

People were telling the Bush Administration left and right what needed to be done, and the bitter irony is that they ended up doing it anyways in the end, four years late, after they had trashed and questioned the loyalty of those dissenting, after things fell apart so viciously.

This is not like a movie, where all the bad stuff just goes away if you defeat the bad guys in the end. Or rather, it’s not like those unrealistic movies where irreversible consequences aren’t part of the game. Sooner or later, we will pay a price for this unnecessary war that went badly. There was going to be a time and a reason to fix that dictator’s wagon but good, but that time and reason we choose was a poor one.

If you guys can’t recognize strategic missteps when you see them, you’re going to get a lot of good men and women killed for nothing. I mean, consider this: You are celebrating the finish of a war that was begun in the first term of the previous president. Sun Tzu said it well: Nobody ever brilliantly protracted a war.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 21, 2010 1:10 AM
Comment #306557


I think your memory is selective. People were telling Bush lots of things, left and right. One of the things they were telling him was to get in and out of Iraq as fast as possible and to turn it over to Iraqi control quick as he could. And to pull out as fast as possible. These were not good ideas.

In 2006, he stood almost alone in favor of the surge, which ended up finishing the conflict on terms favorable to us (I call that victory, but I know the word is offensive to some). I am morally certain that if we had not done the surge, which included more men and a new & development diplomatic initiative, the Middle East would be a bloody mess today and the terrorists would indeed be knocking at our doors.

We do have some real enemies who need to be defeated. sometimes you just have to win.

Re Iraq - I am proud of Obama that he is following almost exactly the same trajectory envisioned by the Bush team. It shows he abandoned all that silly talk of 2006-7. When you are actually in charge, things look different.

It is a myth that Bush ran over the desires and opinions of most Americans and most Democrats. Things looked different in 2002 than they did in 2006 and then the do in 2010.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2010 12:57 PM
Comment #306560

Morally certain?

“It is a myth that Bush ran over the desires and opinions of most Americans and most Democrats.”

That may be true, but it is not a myth that the Bush Administration and specifically Cheney used unsubstantiated claims, outright lies and innuendo to influence public opinion. I am morally certain that we were lied to.

Posted by: jlw at August 21, 2010 1:44 PM
Comment #306562


Cheney advocated for what he thought was the right thing based on his interpretation of the facts. It is the same thing FDR did in 1940.

You may be morally certain that you were lied to, but you are probably mistaken.

Also, please look to the term moral certainty. Your reaction indicates you may not be working with the right definition.

Moral certainty is a concept of intuitive probability. It means a very high degree of probability, SUFFICIENT FOR ACTION, but short of absolute or mathematical certainty.

I took action in 2007 based on my own moral certainty. That is what I meant.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2010 2:01 PM
Comment #306575

I know this is off topic, but democrats, progressives, liberals whatever you want to call them are really starting to irritate me. Especially some of the liberals on this site. Stop making logical and reasonable arguments. It doesn’t work. Just attack and put the republicans and conservatives views out in the open and continuously repeat your message. It is exactly what they do even when they know they are outright lying. (See birthers, Obama is a Muslim, Death panels etc…..)They force democrats to constantly defend their position which puts them in a position of weakness.

Seeing that I started it, here we go:

Conservatives hate middle class people, especially firefighters and police officers. They also especially hate average working people. They voted against extending unemployment benefits so that ordinary people could simply get by. Why do they hate the average man so much and always support the privileged few?

Posted by: Jill at August 21, 2010 4:19 PM
Comment #306576

Also, Republicans want to take your social security money from you. They also want to abolish almost all public institutions including your public library, your parks and your schools. Did I mention they are planning on trying to privatize water. Destroying our fresh water resource is a good thing for them. It will just raise the price that much more. Getting thirsty my friends. Too bad it will cost you $10. Don’t have it? Too bad it will be a painful death. Your preexisting condition of dehydration won’t cover you this time.

Posted by: jill at August 21, 2010 4:32 PM
Comment #306579

Jill, you’re either new here, or posting under a new and different name. Either way is fine…. and you obviously aren’t timid or afraid to voice your beliefs and convictions. Speaking of which, that was a great retort you posted to the new bully of the pack, Stephen A. !!
Many on here have been around for a very long time….and deal with the coming and going of new people for whatever reasons, often. Just because we don’t spew fire, brimstone, intolerance and general hate, doesn’t mean we don’t have internal fortitude. That, and the ability to spell correctly and having a pretty good relationship with the English language and its’ use remains constant. There are the occasional outbursts, such as during the Bush fiasco years…the J half of C&J, better known as jack…can attest to that. It becomes wearing after years of the oral insults and virtual attacks, so you’ll have to be a little tolerant if the repelling isn’t quite as forceful as you wish it might be.
Welcome, and enjoy.

Posted by: jane doe at August 21, 2010 5:04 PM
Comment #306580

Thanks Jane. You are right. It simply angers me when people spout off about anything and then some liberals on this site try to answer the accusation coherently and tactfully only for the next response to be just as bad. Republicans have been doing this now for the last 20 years and it has grown worse especially in the last few years.

The sad fact is that the strategy works. Democrats constantly find themselves in the position of defending even moderate stances on issues especially from the right wing media. (Which by the way is clearly right wing and not left. It has simply been repeated so many times that the media leans left that people tend believe such nonsense when it is clearly the opposite.) I’m tired of it and want to go on offense. It is long overdue.

Lastly, Democrats need to stick together. I can’t believe how some are angry with President Obama and are openly saying how they are against some of his policies. What?? He is a Democrat and some may not always agree with everything, but he is a winner pure and simple. Democrats have to stick with him, stick together, and start going on offense immediately. Thanks for the welcome.

Posted by: Jill at August 21, 2010 5:40 PM
Comment #306587

Jill, I think most of us on here agree with you completely, and infuriating is closer to what I feel about the verbal abuse and attack of principle.
I support Obama totally and I often feel the way you do now in my interpretation of his complacency on issues. I find myself wishing to see him kicking ass and taking names, while at the same time I can just imagine what the headlines would be following that kind of an action. The man would be the subject of a hanging party and would be characterized as rabid and evil. He kind of can’t win for losing…..either way he goes will be interpreted as ineffective or rabid. The comment he made the other day was pretty astute, IMO.. He said he would rather be a great one-term President, than a mediocre two-term one….or words to that effect. The man is FAR from dumb..he gets it, but is hamstrung by the ignorance and belligerence of those who oppose him.

Posted by: jane doe at August 21, 2010 6:17 PM
Comment #306591

I agree Jane. It seems like it is all up to President Obama. Where are his advisers? When Bush was President every Sunday morning talk show had a republican on pushing the administration’s agenda. They would use the same lines almost down to using identical phrases. This would happen all week long and lasted throughout his entire presidency. Although I found it creepy and sad,it was pretty effective in pushing for the Iraq war and other agenda items. They were basically a PR machine with Cheney pulling the strings and Bush reciting the administration’s message. It almost seemed like our government was being run by an ad agency trying to manipulate every image and every word.

Posted by: Jill at August 21, 2010 7:21 PM
Comment #306597


I understand your politic position does not permit you to celebrate in our military winning in Iraq.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 21, 2010 8:09 PM
Comment #306600

Tell us again, Craig, what there is about a 7-plus (and still adding up) year occupation that equates to a “win”?
Most of the people are still without housing, clean water…power for sometimes more than a couple hours a day.
Do you suppose the Iraquis are overjoyed at this win?? Partying in the streets and mass celebrations have certainly been scarce.
The numbers and all the data just don’t equal a win. And I’d be willing to bet that the survivors of the more than 5,000 lost military personnel would not call it a win.
I wonder how well Bush/Cheney have slept all these years?

Posted by: jane doe at August 21, 2010 9:07 PM
Comment #306603

Jill and Jane Doe,

I float around here a little make some comments and then leave for a while and come back to find everything is the same. I too am sick of democrats being on defense. I wish one of them other than Alan Grayson had some backbone and would stand up each time a republican brought up: illegal aliens, mosques, 14th amendment and would instead refuse to discuss those issues. Instead I would like to hear them say, “I am here to discuss real issues. The only way to change a topic is to refuse to discuss the one being brought up. When Harry Reid and even Howard Dean feel a need to get into the Mosque issue it only makes it more important and gives the MSM one more day to discuss it.

I find the same argumentative posters from the other side continually spouting off insults, half-truths, and outright lies. As long as people continue to respond to them, they will continue to come back. It also lends legitimacy to their illogical arguments. Not all posters presenting the other side do this. Some are able to post their opinions and discuss rationally. But others like Weary Willy or whatever the name is a prime example of someone who needs to be ignored.

As for Obama I continue to be disappointed. I worked to get him elected. I feel that he has gotten a lot done but I feel that if he was more aggressive and pushy with his agenda that much of it would not be watered down by congress. I am more disappointed in the senate and Harry Reid in particular. I think he needs to push the repubs, get out the cots, and make them filibuster. The dems give and give trying to get repub votes, bills get watered down and then repubs still refuse to vote yes. I am tried of democrats being afraid of repubs and letting them set the agenda.While I am off topic-Where the heck is Tim Kane and why isn’t he out there everyday preaching the democratic message-unfortunately-we democrats don’t have a message.

As for the war in Iraq, I posted earlier that until all the troops are home it is a halfhearted yea! from me. Anyone posting here proclaiming victory is so far off in La-La land that I see no need to even try and discuss the Iraq war with them. There isn’t even a starting point with someone that is so clueless.

Posted by: Carolina at August 21, 2010 10:35 PM
Comment #306604

Jane Doe:

Thanks to our military, the future of Iraq is in the hands of it’s citizens instead of a dictator.

The men and women in our armed forces are to be congratulated!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 21, 2010 10:35 PM
Comment #306607

Jill et al

You are working from that Journolist playbook. You recall, the liberal group. The quote I like (and you may support is below:

” I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

“And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them—Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares—and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.”

Problem is that it doesn’t really work on this blog. We will just have too much fun with you if you do it. But we will not directly insult you … at least not so you can tell.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2010 11:38 PM
Comment #306608

Well Carolina and Jill….we are in agreement! I’m just sick of the crap being spewed, which is primarily baseless and significantly untrue.
Craig, nobody is arguing with you about the men and women in the armed forces……go back and re-read all I said if you have doubts. I very succinctly named Bush/Cheney. Quit trying to spin everything.
And as far as the citizenry goes, it’s dubious as to whether they’re aware of having any power to control anything. Rachel Maddow spent several days over there and did live broadcasts from inside homes and businesses…… was pathetic at best. But, oh ya….you wouldn’t have wasted your time to get first-hand information from a (GASP !!)….liberal news network.

Posted by: jane doe at August 21, 2010 11:42 PM
Comment #306609


I don’t know what Rachel saw. I indeed don’t waste my time watching here. But I have plenty of first hand information.

I suppose you can find what you are looking for.

Posted by: C&J at August 22, 2010 12:14 AM
Comment #306611

jack, it’s too bad that you feel seeing first-hand what the conditions are for most of the people over there is beneath you just because she doesn’t work for one of the Faux providers. You haven’t been “over there” for nearly two years, and do ya suppose things might change? And just as one can find what they’re looking for…….it’s as easy to produce what one wants people to know.

Posted by: jane doe at August 22, 2010 1:26 AM
Comment #306617

Jane, If you want a liberal view on the news you watch people like Ed Shultz, Olberman and Maddow. If you want a conservative view you watch Fox. But if you want the truth you go and see for yourself.

Posted by: MAG at August 22, 2010 10:25 AM
Comment #306621


I don’t watch Rachel Maddow for the same reason you probably don’t watch Glen Beck. Plenty of journalist have been to Iraq. Dozens of people I know personally have been there. I was talking to a guy yesterday who came back two weeks ago. I have been there, as you say almost two years ago but that still gives perspective because when I was there I recall news reports that were wrong. I recall a 60 minutes Report re Hadithah. I used to go there a few times a month and walk around in streets. 60 Minutes described Hadithah as a smoldering ruin. I wrote to them and even sent them so recent pictures. Never heard back.

I just don’t need additional information from Rachel Maddow. I just don’t have the time to study all the reports and Rachel Maddows is not among my trusted sources.

Let me give the nuance. Iraq sucks. It is better than it was under Saddam and much better than it was in 2006, but compared to lots of other place in the world, it is not nice. It never was and I suspect it never will be. But a journalist could go to Egypt, Saudi … and find unhappiness and poverty in places where there hasn’t been actual war for a couple hundred years.

MAG makes a good point re news. I bet I watch more MSNBC than you watch Fox. This doesn’t mean either of us is wrong, but we are consuming the news programs we think keep us best informed. It is good to consume a variety of news sources as reality checks, but it is hard to do because of time constraints.

BTW - Most of my sources these days are not “partisan” and many are not even American. I read “the Economist” every week and every day I have been watching an hour of Brazilian news. I don’t have time to add Maddow. She just isn’t good enough.

Posted by: C&J at August 22, 2010 11:33 AM
Comment #306623

Is Iraq better off without Saddam Hussein?

Iraq created the dictator Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein did not create Iraq.

Bush #41 and his administration did not topple Hussein and the Baathists in the First Gulf War because they believed Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship was better than the alternative: an ungovernable country with its Shias allied with Iran, and an independent Kurdistan creating chaos among the Kurdish minorities in Turkey and elsewhere.

Today, Iraq appears to be ungovernable. The Kurdish region is essentially independent, the Shias are close to the Iranians, and the Sunnis are about the same, only now Saddam Hussein and his sons are dead. The Baathists have been renamed ‘Awakening Councils’ and re-armed to face down the Sunni & Shia fundamentalists.

Iraqis are better off in the sense that they are free- that is, able to exercise self-determination for their own region. That is true for the Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis (ignoring the presence of 50,000 foreign occupiers). Iraqis are worse off in the sense that hundreds of thousands have died, torture occurred on a scale never seen under Saddam Hussein, there are millions of refugees, and there is no prospect for stability as a unified country.

Bush #41 was proven right. His son was proven wrong.

C&J, thank you for sharing your personal experience.

Craig, I recall a child of yours serves in Iraq. I wish your family well.

Posted by: phx8 at August 22, 2010 12:06 PM
Comment #306626

One of the most insane comparisons in the history of Watchblog—Rachel Maddow & Glenn Beck. I’ve watched and listened to both, and Beck for reliable accounting and commentary of current events, history and predictions of results of same, would not form a pimple of Maddow’s buttock.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 22, 2010 12:40 PM
Comment #306627

Dude Most conservatives could claim the same Maddow wouldn’t make a pimple on Beck’s butt.

Posted by: MAG at August 22, 2010 1:05 PM
Comment #306630

No, it was a great idea to get in and out as quick as possible. And, in fact, my memory is not so selective as to have forgotten that the Bush administration said we’d be back down to fifty thousand seven years ago at this point.

They knew that the political clock would start ticking on the war. The Bush Administration did not plan on protracting the war.

It just didn’t plan it well enough to finish it off when it should have. It let events get out control out of a misguided trust that technology could make up for using less manpower to that great of an extent. And really, what compound that problem was that they not only didn’t have a back up plan, but for political reasons, they refused to let one be formulated. They successfully played the political games that shut other people out, and as a result, they didn’t have alternatives available to them, or the people to think them up.

You make much of the fact that the Democrats didn’t much change the Bush Strategy of 2006-2007. The irony of such an argument is that Democrats and more moderate Republicans suggested many of the same things early on, but were roundly rejected and shut out. That includes troop increases and the bargaining with the Anbar Sheiks and other insurgents that produced much of the results. What makes this irony worse is that we could have headed off the worst of the problems had the same people been given a chance earlier.

I cannot claim to know what avoiding the Surge would have done, but if you’re “morally certain” that it prevented a worse outcome, I’m “morally certain” that we could have either avoided this war, or finished it off quicker if the Bush Administration hadn’t been so stubborn about the war, so eager to politicize it.

Bush didn’t run over people’s desires. He went with them. But he channelled them. He stoked them. He didn’t leave them alone, didn’t leave them to push him towards what was natural. His people deliberately decide against limiting the War on Terrorism to actual al-Qaeda targets. He played up a possible terrorist connection, pushed a factually sketchy story of Saddam reconstituting stocks of chemical weapons, and led us into a war it turns out we didn’t have to fight. There would have been no bloody mess at all, no terrorists knocking at our doors (as if they haven’t been knocking lately. The Undabomber? The Time Square Firecracker bomber?)

As for Rachel Maddow? She’s highly partisan, and that’s obvious, but she’s also a much better reporter of the facts than Glenn Beck. That’s what she pins her stories on, rather than just on the loathing and resentment of conservatives.

I don’t watch her too much of the time; I’m more news-oriented than opinion oriented. I can understand jill’s point, jill’s frustrations, but I would say you have to fire on both cylinders for greatest efficiency. If you only work from the opinion standpoint, like Glenn Beck, you end up on a nice trajectory towards journalistic psychosis, where your logic, unimpeded by countervailing thoughts or opinion, just spin out into fantasy land.

If, as a commentator, you only work from the facts, well folks are emotional, and they can be swayed by somebody who gives out their BS with great conviction and passion.

As far as sources go, it’s not merely the sources, but your attitude towards them. The Republican attitude of discounting sources in the mainstream media has probably made it much more difficult to hold Conservative politicians accountable, and performance has suffered. When you have a sympathetic audience and a sympathetic network or site that flatters the ideology, the theories you like, you don’t get the sources that can help you avoid the political tunneling effect that such a positive feedback loop creates.

Many body systems have mechanisms that trip when the body gets beyond a certain desired range. We call this homeostasis, and the mechanism by which it often words negative feedback.

The Republicans have disabled their negative feedback, and only really work with sources that push what they believe.

Since nobody’s perfect, even if everybody were good and kind and well meaning, and nobody was corrupt or incompetent, this would eventually get out of hand.

People need folks willing to tell them they’re wrong.

But, here’s what I would also say: the criteria must be one that people can hold and test in common, by which we can determine the relative truth and value of the given policies or the given statements of fact.

Only if we inhibit and excite the public’s interest based on realities and facts do we really do them the service of granting them real self government, do we really respect their intelligence and respect the will of the people.

The Republicans have put themselves in a position where they’re working off the fumes of their former glory, their former credibility. Apologetics for the Iraq war is one way to try and get back glory, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Most people regard the Iraq war as a bitter failure. Maybe not one that ended as bad as it could, but still a failure. And now their hopes aren’t that high for Afghanistan either, and that saddens me the most, because I wanted that to be our unalloyed victory in the War on Terrorism.

Until the Republicans acknowledge what they’ve done wrong, they will feel free to repeat the mistakes. After all, they would say, “we won!” If they have to accept the reality instead, they might not do the things they did here, might not commit the same mistakes. If Republicans don’t allow themselves to be held accountable on the war’s great errors, they will never learn the lessons.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 22, 2010 1:40 PM
Comment #306633


We had a problem with reality. Getting out as fast as possible would be a good idea, but it was not reality based. And the fact that we pursued it after it was not working caused us the problems until 2006.

re the surge - Democrats advocated the surge the way that Jules Verne did space flight. They made some suggestions but they didn’t get the real meaning of it.

We had the shameful Democratic performance in Sept 2007 when they attacked General Petraeus for telling them the truth. They didn’t come around until it was too hard to ignore. They even attacked their own, such as the analyst Michael O’Hannlon, who dared tell the truth in summer 2007.

I am glad many Democrats have come around. Obama is now president and they can claim credit for the success on their watch. But don’t try to change the history.

Bush did the surge with little support from Republicans and active sabotage by most democrats. He made lots of mistakes, but this was his finest hour, a true profile in courage that gave us the chance we have now.


Your opinion is based on your point of view. It is understandable.

I don’t watch much of Glen Beck or Rachel Maddow. In fact, I think I saw more of her, since she used to be on during my lunch hour and the TV in the chow hall was tuned to her. But she really is no better informed than Beck and IMO less entertaining.

BTW - we used to have a kind of game at the chow hall. Sometimes we couldn’t hear the TV over the noise. We would watch Maddow and guess from her body language who see was talking about. When she scowled or looked angry, you could be sure that the next pictures would be Bush or McCain. A cheerful look would be followed by a Democrat. Turn down the sound on your TV and try it yourself.

Posted by: C&J at August 22, 2010 2:02 PM
Comment #306640

Democrats shouldn’t try to change history, they should let you and other conservatives do that.

The Dude gave his opinion and you gave yours.

Madow is a biased opinionator. Beck is a biased revisionists. One day it is Ike the kike, the next day it is Ike the Father of desegregation. He revises history to make it sensitive to his message, A message that a tiny fraction of the population swallows hook, line and sinker. Most conservatives, moderates, liberals and progressives have other things to do than listen to political pundits. They could care less who is the pimple and who is the….

Posted by: jlw at August 22, 2010 4:37 PM
Comment #306645


We had a problem with reality. Getting out as fast as possible would be a good idea, but it was not reality based. And the fact that we pursued it after it was not working caused us the problems until 2006.

It wasn’t reality-based the way you were doing it. I saw the first hints of it when the looters came and we couldn’t do a thing to stop them. In my memory of warfare, a good occupation meant being able to keep law and order in an area. If you can’t, you really don’t have military control of an area, now do you? You went in with far fewer soldiers than you were advised to, deprived the State Department of its typical role, which it had more experience with, and gave it all to the Defense Department

You disbanded the Iraqi army, again against advice, then, when four Blackwater mercenaries got killed in Fallujah, invaded that city, took heavy casualties, and sensitive to the political damage it was doing, withdrew without having pacified the city, inviting the enemy to make the whole region a danger zone for Americans.

Sometimes, doing things right takes more time, but sometimes things take longer because you’re screwing it up and are therefore unable to make progress.

You weren’t making progress. The Golden Dome didn’t get blown up because of some freak accident. I remember how nasty the violence was, and how violent it got. I remember how things went down, for the most part, so don’t you tell me I’m revising history.

Quit buttering Bush up. It took losing in 2006 to get an effective break from the policy that came before. Until then, it was stay the course, stay the course. I remember what the sides were saying, even if you don’t I remember what was rotten with the Iraq war a lot better than you remember what was nice and wonderful.

Craig Holmes-

I understand your politic position does not permit you to celebrate in our military winning in Iraq.

Then you misunderstand it.

You’re trying to shove me into this box here that says “defeatist”

I was never a defeatist. I wanted us to win. But I’m not going to say we win simply for the old school spirit. I’m a supporter of the troops, but not a cheerleader for the policy that sent them there.

What binds me from calling this a victory is my good memory. I remember what we went there for, I remember what results we got, I remember what Bush’s dumb policies cost us. I remember the goals we set, even if you don’t, and how the goalposts were moved.

I am not going to subscribe to this Calvinball version of politics, much less strategic thinking. What you and C&J are engaged in here is the steady rationalizing away of all sense of guilt or disappointment in the results of this extraordinarily long military operation.

I remember what we were supposed to do. I remember that we didn’t achieve that. That we didn’t achieve the goals we set after that. Only by a gradual process of wittling away at ambitions do we find ourselves basically saying, we leave and declare victory.

Do I say this to take glory away form the Soldiers out there? Well, I wasn’t aware that a bad policy would necessarily take the glory away. I mean, look at the Charge of the Light Brigade. Great soldiers, ****ty policy. They did the best they could with the mission and the orders they got.

Our soldiers performed amazingly well, having to deal with a decentralized insurgency and guerilla campaign as an enemy. I say this even as I acknowledge what happened at Haditha. Our soldiers performed amazingly well considering the stop-loss policies that had them in and out of that place multiple times. They performed very well considering the profiteering, the literally criminal negligence on the part of some contractors, who built buildings that leaked sewage and electrocuted soldiers in the shower.

They performed wonderfully, despite the burden placed on them of being targeted because of what happened in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. It was an injustice that they had to be shamed and endangered by those blantant violations of human rights.

Long story short, I believe our soldiers peformed marvellously, but our government failed them, and that’s why the war is a failure. It’s got nothing to do with the quality of the people who fought the war.

The question is not so much whether person is biased, or an opinionator. The real question is, who is right and who is wrong. Resolve that, and you have a true independent basis for knowing who to support, rather than just a free-floating dislike for all the politicians.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 22, 2010 5:51 PM
Comment #306650


And I am saying that our military won the war in Iraq which should be celebrated.

You have put yourself in a political position where you cannot be a part of the celebration.

Long story short, I believe our soldiers peformed marvellously, but our government failed them, and that’s why the war is a failure. It’s got nothing to do with the quality of the people who fought the war.

No, the war in Iraq was not a failure. But I understand from your political situation you must call Iraq a failure.

Our military won a victory and we should celebrate with them. Job well done!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 22, 2010 8:32 PM
Comment #306654


The Iraqi army disbanded itself. Most of the conscripts just went home.

Re the looting - it probably would have been a good idea to shoot looters, as you do in martial law. But I don’t think world opinion would have supported that.

It is really easy to second guess, but the first guesses also have consequences. Imagine taking firm control and shooting looters. It would have produced a different result and a different set of problems.

Historians re-fight all the great battles of history and they almost always do better in their minds than the guys on the field. America is an amazing place. All the great generals evidently write for newspapers and blogs.

I sometimes think that I cannot make anything clear to you. I said many times that Administration made many mistakes and the 2002-2006 periods was one of many lost opportunities. Just because I don’t engage in your Bush hatred, it is not the same as excusing all. I just don’t see the black and white as you do.

BTW - Abu Ghaib - do you know what really pissed off the Iraqis about that? It was NOT the “torture”. This is something they did all the time and worse. What pissed them off was that a woman seemed to be in charge of the prisoners. This insulted their manhood. We kept on apologizing for the wrong things.

Re Gitmo - that is mostly a red herring.


People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.

Posted by: C&J at August 22, 2010 9:24 PM
Comment #306662

I don’t think you understand what happened. The US increased its number of troops during ‘The Surge’, but that is not why ‘The Surge’ worked. Initially, more US troops in the field merely meant more casualties. It worked when the US troops stayed on their bases. It worked when they stayed out of the conflict because the US military did not know enough about the locals; instead, the US re-armed Saddam Hussein’s people, and Saddam’s people settled the hash of those who dared oppose them. We called those Baathists ‘Awakening Councils,’ but the fact is, the people we overthrew- the Sunni Nationalists, the Baathists, Saddam Hussein’s people- were precisely the best people to crush opponents, especially religious fundmentalists. Do you understand? We invaded and we kicked out the Baathists, only to turn to them in the end because it turns out they really were the best people to run that part of Iraq after all. They were NOT allies of terrorists or Al Qaida; that was just a Bush administration lie; by the standards of Iraq, the Baathists were relatively secular, and they did NOT like the Sunni or Shia religious fundamentalists. There is a good reason most of the Shia fundamentalists spent years in exile in Iraq, and kept trying to assassinate Saddam Hussein. It is ironic we allowed the Shia fundamentalists to hang Saddam Hussein. He died with the change of ‘Al-Sadr’ ringing in his ears.

The troops can be praised for executing orders under extremely tough conditions; however, the orders and the strategy were wrong from the beginning. Personal honor is not the same as the honor and reputation of our country, and our national honor and reputations were badly betrayed by those who were in charge at the time.

Posted by: phx8 at August 22, 2010 11:41 PM
Comment #306666

Thanks phx8……it doesn’t seem to penetrate Craig’s mind no matter how many times we say this. The troops, all the military personnel in every classification, position and assignment there is(was), performed the way they were trained to do. Nobody here has ever questioned that, or challenged it, or negated it in any way!! Quit! trying to twist the statements made so it looks like that’s what we’re doing. That is just an extension of the way the “right side” spins most things. Take a fragment and shred it, then reshape it into a totally different context.
The (Conservative) newspapers, websites, blogsites, news agencies all have the same creative commentaries that they throw around, day in and day out, and the Faux programs should be in the running for the best fictional material being aired.

Posted by: jane doe at August 23, 2010 1:31 AM
Comment #306687

Craig Holmes-

And I am saying that our military won the war in Iraq which should be celebrated.

Oh, I cannot be part of the celebration. That just sucks!

The Iraq war is ending better than I feared it once would, but it’s political happy-talk believing that it ended like it should, that we came out better. At best, the Iraq war is like Apollo 13, a successful failure.

I have a decently long memory, and I remember what folks like you had us going in to do, what folks like you said would result from our going in, and what folks like you said every month as violence escalated and discord spread.

We didn’t find the terrorists already there. Our policies on the occupation would let them in.

We didn’t find WMDs, the one thing that could justify our pre-emptive fight on the substance, regardless of whether the terrorists came in or not.

We took a major hit on our reputation to do this, a major hit economically to pay for it (or at least we will as the bills come due on the treasury bills.)

We have done damage to our armed forces that will last decades, in terms of equipment, manpower, and morale.

We did not leave the kind of Democracy with the kinds of freedoms we planned in Iraq, What we have in place is a travesty of what we were originally planning.

It is what I remember, and do not forget, that leaves me unable to celebrate. In truth, I was celebrating myself when Saddam’s statue came down, and we won so quickly. But winning that fight alone was not enough to win this war, and after Several years of this war, I don’t see it as a net positive, strategically, for America. It’s a much gentler defeat than it could have been, but it’s still a defeat.

Do I say this to take anything away from what should be celebrated, like the service of our soldiers? No. Do I say this to further a Democratic Agenda? No.

I say this, so when the inevitable next battle comes, we don’t repeat these mistakes, and cause further harm and humiliation to this country. Bush’s war has squandered so much of our pride on this matter, put us to shame. I’m not going to join in your happy talk so I can just see this happen again.

The next war we fight, we won’t be trying to re-fight Iraq, to vindicate your political party’s incompetent policies, not if I can help it.

We told them to go home and await instructions. We dropped leaflets on them to that effect.

On the looting? You stopped in the crosswalk on that one. I said nothing about shooting looters. What I talked about was having the presence on the streets large enough or powerful enough to keep those looters home.

When you don’t have the presence to even intimidate the looters, to declare martial law, you don’t have real control of the environment. If you’re occupying a country, doing it half-assed just ends up encouraging people to undermine you, to send you chasing around, trying to use limited manpower to do everything.

But that wouldn’t have been such an issue if Paul Bremer hadn’t issued the order disbanding the military. You already had a ready-made organization, which your folks have ended up having to remake at great cost. Because we sent them home, these trained soldiers were free to turn around and aim their guns at our soldiers, rather than being hired back as allies. Most of that vaunted surge was making up for your earliest mistakes, three or four years too late to keep us from having to handle the consequences.

As far as making things clear to me?

Look, I don’t really hate Bush. I just think his policies and policy process was just appalling. He kept trying to be the daring maverick who did what everybody else thought was foolhardy and succeeded, but most of the time he proved everybody else right.

About Abu Ghraib and Gitmo? First, we made ourselves clear that we were better than those we took down. That’s one thing. Another is, it’s a matter of difference between a government lead by your own doing things, as opposed to some invaders coming in and doing. The standard isn’t necessarily a regard for universal human rights, rather its something else, something that I would think includes what you talked about but is not exclusive to it: humiliation.

Don’t underestimate the dark stain of humiliation that those two places have left on the Arab and Muslim psyche.

I do see things with pretty clear distinctions. But so do many other cultures. If what they saw there was orderly, clean, humane, it would have been easier to avoid tripping that. But showing Arab men stripped, covered in their own crap, attacked by dogs, and yes, being humiliated by a Woman (not merely watched over, humiliated, as in the infamous photo), that surely must have been a shock to the system of many people in that part of the world.

Gitmo’s not been much better, especially when we’re talking about proceduries coming from Gitmo to be used in that place.

This was a trip to the dark side we never ought to have taken. It gained us little, and cost us many lives as it threw fuel on the fire of our enemy’s rage.


I think it should bear saying that when I hear arguments like this, when I hear all these claims trying to minimize what happened, I don’t think it helps. Maybe you can convince yourself it didn’t matter much, but if you can’t convince anybody else of that, what’s the point?

Republicans have dulled themselves to any sense of error so they wouldn’t lose debate points to Democrats by admitting they were wrong. Unfortunately for you and them, they ended up losing debate points anyways, because people bought what people argued from reality, rather than than buying their denials of error.

Republicans need to improve policy, not make excuses for bad policy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 23, 2010 1:29 PM
Comment #306690

C&J said, “People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.”

That rule only applies to non conservatives otherwise known as socialists.

Stephen D, as Jack suggests, why not deal with facts rather that the opinions of paid performers. The fact is that both political parties have joined forces to trash America on behalf of corporate greed disguised as global competitiveness. The voting records of the politicians of both parties prove this out. The Republicans aren’t the only ones in denial.

It took a year into the Obama Administration for the people to learn that the corporations are still running the government regulatory agencies.

A hell of a choice for the people, far right or not quite so far right.

I am sure that all of America is waiting for the day when our workers can make a Nike tee shirt in less than six minutes and for less than the eight cents their competition is earning for making one.

I think I will stick with my free-floating dislike for all politicians.

Posted by: jlw at August 23, 2010 2:40 PM
Comment #306691

Exactly what is your alternative?

Pardon me if that sounds rude, but while I respect somebody who says we need an alternative, it would be nice what you would proposed to do instead, and how you think it could be realistically done.

My fear is that by being too picky about alternatives that are not quite good enough, we’re eliminating the possibilities that come only after people have moved back to the center on policies.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 23, 2010 3:24 PM
Comment #306700


It’s a much gentler defeat than it could have been, but it’s still a defeat.

Just to help here is what defeat looks like:

I am vey proud of our military and what they have accomplished. Iraqi’s are in a far better place than they were 7 years ago.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 23, 2010 6:16 PM
Comment #306701


“Iraqi’s are in a far better place than they were 7 years ago.”

I hate to bring this up, but we’re not.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at August 23, 2010 6:57 PM
Comment #306703


Don’t believe that Arab-Muslim outrage crap. They do worse to each other any day of the week than we did all year at Abu Ghraib. Their argument would have to be “we thought you were way-way better than us, and now we see that you are only way better.”

This is used instrumentally.

It is right that the thing that makes them the maddest was the fact that women were involved. It wasn’t the torture that bothered them. They didn’t like women in charge. But they don’t like women in charge in general. This is how our cultures differ.

Anyway, they have no right to judge us. Think of what Imam Faisal said. We have no right to judge Muslims by the actions of terrorists acting in their names. He is right. That means that we can expect the same.

I am just tired of this one-way street. I am tolerant of other beliefs. I don’t care what people do as long as they don’t try to hurt me or make a mess. I expect the same consideration from others.

This victim stance is annoying. After 9/11, our president called Islam a religion of peace. High officials attended Muslim services. Muslims remained safe on most American streets. We paid for Imams to go to Middle Eastern countries. All this after an unprovoked attack on our country by people saying that they killed in the name of Islam. Boy, are we good.

If the world cannot recognize this, I think the world might have problems. But I think they CAN. I have traveled in Muslim lands after 9/11 and talked to people. They know the truth in their hearts even if they sometimes don’t recognize it in their rhetoric. Muslims know that they are safer here than back home. Everybody knows that. The denial is a giant game of the Emperor’s new clothes. It is time we called the game instead of sheepishly pretending we see it that way too.

One of my friends is an Iranian-born-American who loves country music. He goes to all those red-neck concerts all over Virginia and the Carolinas. He always comes back talking about the nice people he met and the friends he made. This is all post 9/11. This is America.

Let’s do the substitution. How safe do you think you would be on the streets of Saudi or Iran the day after 19 Americans attacked a national symbol and killed thousands of Muslims?

Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if the rest of the world was even almost as tolerant as we are?

Posted by: C&J at August 23, 2010 8:54 PM
Comment #306704

Craig Holmes-
So basically, you would quote me as saying,

“OMGWTFBBQ! It’s just like the Fall of Saigon!”

No. I said it’s a gentler defeat. Not being like the Fall of Saigon certainly qualifies Iraq for that distinction.

Quit trying to pump jingoistic sunshine up my Keister. We’re certainly in better shape than we were four years ago, as far as this war goes, but Iraq is not the stable Democracy we’d promised everybody it would be. We fell short on this war, and if we don’t want to make a habit of this kind of BS, we’d better learn our lesson.

We can’t learn such lessons if we’re too busy whitewashing and sanitizing the war, like some did with Vietnam.

I think one of the fundamental problems with this war was that people were trying to vindicate the governments approach to the Vietnam War, the attempts to control information, to keep embarrassing details from the public.

But what they didn’t figure on was that the Vietnam media policies were a mistake, a divisive, trust destroying mistake that scored political points for some, but only managed to keep the problems under wraps long enough for them to metastasize as a cancer on the war itself. Accountability has its charms, and one of them is people seek to create actual results instead of spinning themselves silly trying to justify failing policies.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 23, 2010 9:07 PM
Comment #306711

Stephen, my alternative would be for all progressives to boycott the elections. Workers should do the same thing. Neither has a voice in government so they have no reason to support a rigged election process in which alternatives are in no position to compete.

Posted by: jlw at August 24, 2010 12:37 AM
Comment #306736

Don’t take this as a personal cut against you, but that is the stupidest idea I have heard in a long time.

We’ve sat out enough damn elections.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 24, 2010 2:10 PM
Comment #306737


I am not trying to do anything of the kind. Every war is messy. We learn much from every conflict.

After WWII we learned about Nuclear war. Truman’s decision was questioned (still is questioned) for a long time.

WWI was questioned because of how it ended. Lesson learned, finish the job.

Of course like every conflict there is much to learn from the war in Iraq. That is stating the obvious.

You are just simply wrong to say that the war in Iraq was a military defeat.

Joe Biden gave a great speech about Iraq this week to VFW!

Obviously, like in every war, we can and need to learn, but this one will go down in history as a war our military won.

(Unless of course the far left writes the book!!)

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 24, 2010 2:21 PM
Comment #306743

Craig Holmes-
When the Right applied its learned lessons to this war, it essentially said to itself that what loss the Vietnam War was a loss in morale triggered by a hostile media. So, they set to keeping things secret, tightly under wraps. They set to manipulate coverage, bury scandals, attack reports in the media that contradicted their rosy pictures.

They kept on applying that lesson right until 2006, when the Golden Mosque got bombed, and all hell broke loose.

The real lesson? They failed to realize that they did the exact same thing that the Johnson Administration did with the media, that they were recapitulating the failed media strategy, and worse, were encouraging a very dishonest and opaque approach to information. Both helped turn people against the war, because the media doesn’t like being lied to, and neither do the citizens of this country.

The real lesson, which is one of integrity, and of taking care of strategic matters instead of trying to paper over things with lies, was lost on those who simply wanted to slap a coat of whitewash on the war.

Iraq was a military defeat, not a victory. We succeeded in damage control, putting Iraq on a possible path to recovery, but there’s a lot of that which is simply going to get left to chance, because of what the failures that came before make that necessary.

Actually, right now, your sort of happy talk is a bit premature. Nixon had us out by 1973, and undoubtedly folks could still say that his Vietnamization policies could work.

That is, until 1975.

It’s easy to push a narrative of a war won, now that Iraq is better in control and we’re heading out of it without much incident. But what did we fight this war to do? We had much greater ambitions in mind. These are the ambitions we settled for so we could go home. Things could very well end badly.

Things could turn out better, of course, but then, in my mind, that’s not what you should base military policy on. A military policy that hopes for the best-case scenario is useless in the real world.

It was a defeat. But acknowledging that means we acknowledge our ability to fall short. Acknowledging that means we can plan against falling short like that again. It also means, we can keep enough humility to avoid the kinds of mistakes of hubris that have left us leaving this war, in uncertainty, after several years, instead of a more sane timeline. I mean, if this is your idea of victory, then I don’t think we can handle too many more of them.

I guess what I’m saying is that as long as we call this uncertain conclusion to a misbegotten war a victory, we’re giving positive reinforcement to a hell of a lot of bad policies.

I’d just as soon acknowledge the successes, the efforts and professional excellence of the vast majority of the soldiers, the potential for things to work out on their own, but not celebrate a war whose effects on foreign policy, our economy, and the overall morale of the country has been negative as a victory. I don’t believe the substance supports such happy-talk.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 24, 2010 4:50 PM
Comment #306746


You are the one talking about the policies etc. I am talking about the US Military.

The US military has won the war in Iraq, fair and square. What the politicians decide to do with this victory we shall all see.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 24, 2010 5:30 PM
Comment #306748


I guess what I’m saying is that as long as we call this uncertain conclusion to a misbegotten war a victory, we’re giving positive reinforcement to a hell of a lot of bad policies.

That is like saying if the coach of the super bowl makes some bad decisions the win doesn’t count and the players don’t get to where the super bowl ring.

I would rather you and people from your political bent would say “inspite of this war being misbegotten, our military pulled out a victory.”

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 24, 2010 5:45 PM
Comment #306749

Kind of like the operation was a success, but the patient died, huh Craig?
Incredible how you can continue the spin and still not acknowledge the truth.
The military did their part, absolutely and without a doubt. Nobody has tried to refute that! Their actions and ultimate sacrifices have not been questioned, challenged or diminished by any of us. But they are not the rule-makers, just the ones sworn to accept, follow and obey.

Posted by: jane doe at August 24, 2010 5:51 PM
Comment #306754

jane doe:

No the patient is alive and has a brighter future.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 24, 2010 6:23 PM
Comment #306776

It is an impossibility for an honorable ‘victory’ to be assumed from a dishonorable venture. The troops don’t realize the ‘victory’, even though they may have been victorious. The nation at war can claim ‘victory’, but in this instance (Iraq) that becomes an impossibility. The school bully can kick the little girl after he knocks her down, and he can claim that he won the fight, but ‘victory’ is out of his reach. “Victory’ denotes and honorable conclusion in your favor. Iraq ain’t it. Viet Nam wasn’t it. And since Afghanistan was lost when we reduced the necessary resources in order to do the dishonorable thing in Iraq, ‘victory’ cannot be claimed there, no matter how it turns out. We can no longer claim that the al Qaida we were fighting against had anything to do with the reason we are still there. If that were the reason, we’d never have pulled out of there to go to Iraq in the first place.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 24, 2010 11:08 PM
Comment #306777

The US Military is not a school bully that knocked down a little girl.

The US Military removed a dictator and gave the people of Iraq a chance to govern themselves.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 24, 2010 11:14 PM
Comment #306793


“The US Military removed a dictator and gave the people of Iraq a chance to govern themselves.”

This is all well and good, but in the process of doing so we have also put America in a serious predicament.

To start off where did the money come from to fund this excursion?
We didn’t pay for it by raising taxes, of rationing items deemed important to the war effort, hell Bush cut taxes.

Where are we going to find the money to pay for the promises we made to those that came back from Iraq injured, or even worse, dead?
We have over 4,000 dead and more than 30,000 of our troops injured, some catastrophically.
How are we to afford making these people and their families whole again?

Do I need to remind you that the then Soviet Union cratered after their loss in Afghanistan?

Let’s all hope that the same doesn’t happen to America after our “victory” in Iraq.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at August 25, 2010 11:48 AM
Comment #306799

Craig Holmes-
Victory would have been finding the WMDs, finding terrorists there to begin with, and defeating them. That, first and foremost, because otherwise we invaded for no good reason, and ended up, yes, removing a dictator who was terrible, but no, not serving the larger interests of the War on Terrorism, and the war against the Taliban.

You should remember what the point, the stated purpose of the war was in the first place. If all we wanted to do was depose Saddam Hussein, well, we won that battle, didn’t we?

But if our purpose was to hurt al-Qaeda, the war was counterproductive, and if our purpose was to counter a threat of WMDs hitting our cities, or being smuggled over, the war never had a real threat to justify it.

Even if our purpose was just to set up a Democracy, a stable government with some kind of integrity, the outcome is dubious.

If you’re saying we won the battle to calm down Iraq, and get it back to some semblance of order, that’s a battle that at least so far we’ve managed to win.

The war was not successful at it’s stated goals. It did not help us against the enemies we really needed to be focused on at the time. It was a distraction. It was a defeat in the War on Terrorism, a setback in confronting al-Qaeda.

We don’t need to be calling what wasn’t successful a triumph. We need to have the strength of spirit and character to examine what we did, and not let the desires of politics get in the way of our owning up to our mistakes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 25, 2010 1:27 PM
Comment #306801


We all have our measuring devices for victory. We also have our frame of reference.

My frame of reference is the United States Military. A lot of the subjects you bring up are policy decisions by politicians. Politics is your frame of reference.

The US Military just follows orders. They were ordered to combat by a President, and the overwelming approval of the US Congress. (28 Democratic Senators!!)

The US Military won a victory in Iraq as they accomplished their mission.

You are talking about a broader vision as to America won, or whether “we” won. I have not entered into that discussion.

Politicians mess up getting us into wars, and after the war is over mess up the peace. For instance when our covert war against the Soviets was won in Afghanistan, politicians lost the peace with terrible results.

I fully understand that Congress and our current President can mess up Iraq.

However, the US Military won in Iraq. They were given a job to do and they accomplished their mission.

Iraq has a brighter future today that before 2003 thanks to our military. It might be added, that the military accomplished this victory inspite of our politicians, and our politicians might still take the victory and turn it into defeat. (Like in Vietnam).

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 25, 2010 2:04 PM
Comment #306802


You bring up excellent points. The effects of this war will be with us for the rest of our lives.

On my heart are the military families that are falling apart because of the multiple deployments.

Three years ago we started a military support group. You can visit our website at

We do what we can. We go to the airport and greet soldiers as they return from deployment, and go to funerals with Patriot Guard and stand with flags etc. We send packages overseas to the troops and do what we can. It all seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the need.

We had a request recently from the front lines Afghanistan for 100 soccer balls to give the children. This is a long and ugly conflict. Nine years next month. These families need us all to help them recover from the sacrifice they have made.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 25, 2010 2:10 PM
Comment #306804

Our military were NEVER given a goal in Iraq, they were fed pablum and garbage. No one here claims our troops, as a fighting corps, are anything BUT honorable and dedicated. Some here confuse what it means to WIN a war or a conflict. Our troops have come out of a bad situation after having achieved some of the things they were sent in to do. But they never achieved what they were initially engaged to accomplish, so to say they have been ‘victorious’ is to be disingenuous. As a nation, we lost Iraq at the moment it was discovered we were there on a false premise from the beginning. ‘Victory’ is not ours, because victory can only be achieved when the goal is met, and the goal can never BE met, because it was never a goal as it was stated to be.

The hell our military can not be a bully. It was a bully during the Boxer Rebellion, the Mexican Wars, the Spanish American War, Viet Nam, Panama, Grenada and the Iraq fiasco. It will likely end up a bully in Afghanistan. A ‘bully’ goes after a weaker entity without a honorable reason for doing so.

Some here confuse ‘victory’ with getting one’s way.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 25, 2010 2:24 PM
Comment #306806

Craig Holmes-
The higher-level failures of the Bush Administration made life tougher for the soldiers fighting the war. They prolonged the war, intensified the suffering for those in combat, and forced choices on those soldiers they shouldn’t have had to face.

Fact of the matter is, in this country, we have the military under civilian control. The question is, are our politicians held accountable for what they order, for what strategies they pursue? If not, the mistakes will only get worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 25, 2010 2:51 PM
Comment #306809


The politicians in both parties made it harder for our soldiers to fight the war.

Remember Harry Ried? “The war in Iraq has failed?”

The war would not have happened without both political parties. It is the nature of our political system.

That is how all conflicts start with both political parties.

The US Military however just follows orders. In spite of both politcal parties, and a UN Security Counsel that reminds me of the bar scene on Star Wars, the Military won the war.

As citizens we should give them an even louder ovation. They won inspite of our politicians.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 25, 2010 3:37 PM
Comment #306812


Our military were NEVER given a goal in Iraq,

You don’t consider getting rid of Sadaam a goal?

You changed language on us. In one post you used and illustration of a bully and a small girl and related it to Iraq.

Then, in the previous post you said,

The hell our military can not be a bully

Anyone or any group in power can be a bully. However your illustration of a bully and a small girl to characterize our military in Iraq is one I take exception to.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 25, 2010 4:10 PM
Comment #306821

The naming of Saddam as a goal in the Iraq fiasco was an after thought. It was not a goal until the naming of a goal became imperative for continued funding and press support. To determine that Saddam was even a remote reason for our dishonorable invasion is to kick the dog to distract from the real crime. Think about all the worse dictators there were in the world at the time of the invasion. Why did we not take out any one of those? Saddam had control over an almost uncontrollable populace, did we actually do Iraq a favor by getting rid of him?

Posted by: Marysdude at August 25, 2010 7:49 PM
Comment #306829

Craig Holmes-
Why is it that whenever I bring up a Republican mistake, the response of conservatives is suddenly point out that both parties did things wrong?

It’s fortunate that I don’t have to yield to such confusing standards.

The policy sucked. Whoever supported it was mistaken.

Yes, the Soldiers did their absolute best, and (we will see over time) they may have succeeded in at least bringing the Iraq war to a calm close.

But really. This just strikes me as revisionist history by those who are desperate to rehabilitate Bush’s legacy, now that his failures aren’t front and center in the public consciousness anymore.

I can calmly accept both what went wrong, and what went right in the war, because war is not a thing of infinite reducibles. The interactions are what matter most. It’s not to say that things are perfectly relative, but there aren’t laws of war like there are laws of physics. Instead, we can look at it in terms of some basic principles.

I take the broader view because we had to start this war for some reason. If we succeed at those broader aims, or found good, broader aims to replace them, we would not have to settle for more modest successes, or worse, for mediocre outcomes. People only revise history and move goalposts because they’re afraid of admitting failure.

But if the war is largely over, the time is not here to double down on the partisan positions. The time has come to relax. It’s a legacy. It’s in the past. Bush’s reputation is shot, you Republicans might as well learn how your next President is going to avoid Bush’s mistakes, rather than hiding from his failures with glowing plaudits for a war won. Just like I can get some perspective on Clinton’s economic policies, as I have done in my subsequent post to this one, you can get some perspective on Bush’s foreign and military policy.

Politics sometimes has a tendency to capture us, to hold us prisoner in a cage of policies we must support to feel like we’re being loyal to party and candidate. It’s a tendency everybody has to fight, because by necessity, political rivalries often define themselves the exaggeration and polarization of differences.

The world isn’t built that way. Our political rivalries are an overlay on the facts. Sometimes they trace the path of real facts, sometimes they are a projection and nothing else of what people in a party think.

I have long built my philosophy on not relying on that overlay so much as the facts I can learn and dig up I’m not perfect, but I have discovered that when I can make my mind up on the facts, and do it myself, I experience a freedom and a sense of agency that I do not have when I simply just say black to the Republican’s white.

The Iraq War is a matter I heavily researched, and that research is what leads to my mixed/negative/tentative verdict. I don’t have pure feelings about it. I emphasize the price of denying the negatives because I feel that this sort of panglossian approach to their policy was a big part of what destroyed the Bush Adminstration’s ability to react to problems in the war on a timely, helpful basis. They were more interested in vindication, watching for things to turn out as they hoped they would, than they were in observation, watching for signs of the policies not having the desired effect and putting back-up plans into operation when those first plans didn’t pan out.

You ought to read David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest. That book is a magnificent portrait of what went wrong with the War in Vietnam, and the parallels to what went wrong in Iraq are just chilling.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 25, 2010 9:02 PM
Comment #306837

Little girl

Saddam was an evil man who remained in power by virtue of being meaner than the next guy and by building a power structure that maintained control over disparate peoples. But, he was to America, merely a saber rattler. A little girl who crossed the school grounds at the wrong time, and in defiance of the bully who had told her not to.

America was looking for a reason to nibble a foothold in good oil rich earth of the Middle East and saw Saddam once too often cross the school grounds. It was time for the bully to pounce, and he did. Not only did he beat the hell out of the essentially harmless little girl, but then kicked her while she lay crying on the ground (hung her by the neck until she was dead)

Bully was much bigger than the little girl, plus bully as bullies will do, created a gang to back his play against the little girl. Little girl was helpless against bully and his gang, so she ended up on the short end of the stick, as have others who have defied the bully.

Moral of the story…if you are a little girl, on the playground, don’t mess around with the bully.

Someone on here wants to make heroes of our soldiers who have fought valiantly in a misbegotten war. A war that was perpetrated by a bully, and the same bully shamelessly used those valiant soldiers to inflict harm on the little girl who had the chutzpah to defy the bully. It is not difficult to see how the outcome might be construed as a ‘victory’ by admirers of the bully, but for those who just wish the bully would handle things in a way that is more honorable, it can NEVER be referred to as ‘victory’.

If youse don’t like the way this story came out, make something of it and I’ll knock yer block off (especially if you are a little girl).

Posted by: Marysdude at August 25, 2010 11:09 PM
Comment #306879


The naming of Saddam as a goal in the Iraq fiasco was an after thought

Removing Sadaam was the official policy of the United States starting in 1998.

Here is Bill Clinton expressing these thoughts well.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 26, 2010 4:39 PM
Comment #306880


Saddam was an evil man who remained in power by virtue of being meaner than the next guy and by building a power structure that maintained control over disparate peoples. But, he was to America, merely a saber rattler.A little girl who crossed the school grounds at the wrong time, and in defiance of the bully who had told her not to.

Evil men = little girls?

So what was Hilter?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 26, 2010 4:43 PM
Comment #306883

I hate to repeat my clichés, but Saddam would not make a decent pimple on Hitler’s buttock. Saddam was the little girl on the school yard.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 26, 2010 5:50 PM
Comment #306888

Puzzled look.

Your point in comparing evil men to school girls in a school yard is??????

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 26, 2010 6:48 PM
Comment #306895


“Removing Sadaam was the official policy of the United States starting in 1998.”

Yes it was, however, the American military actually invading Iraq to depose Saddam was not a part of that policy.

H.R.4655 which Clinton signed was very specific about what we would and would not do;

Everybody on the right kept pointing to Clinton’s policy on Iraq in the rush to convince people that we should invade. At the time Clinton signed it this was considered a wag-the-dog distraction away from Clinton’s legal woes.

To this day I remain sceptical as to whether the Bush administration, or the pundits that lined up behind it to beat the war drums, even bothered to read the “Iraqi Liberation Act”, or paid a whit of attention to what was known as the “Powell Doctrine” before the invasion.

There never was a formal declaration of war against Iraq. Just as in Vietnam, there was a military “authorization” for troops for questionable reasons, but no declaration.

Go figure.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at August 26, 2010 8:08 PM
Comment #306922


There is no question there was a breakdown. Many very good people around the world were certain Sadaam had WMD.

As far as the declaration of war, I think it’s a mute point. Congress overwelmingly approved the action against Iraq. Bush had very strong Congressional support.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 26, 2010 11:38 PM
Comment #306925


Bush had overwhelming Congressional support because of the fact his administration had just spent an entire year scaring the bejeezuz out of the American people.
People that didn’t support his grand idea for invasion were called traitors. Words like treason and sedition were bandied about like so much confetti. We were all to build a totally airtight room in our houses (the dumbest idea ever) to escape the chemical warfare that was, theoretically at least, going to take place right in our neighborhoods.
They investigated the Quakers for *&^*’s sake!!!
Oh, and by the way, in the end it seems that Iraq was no threat to America after all.

Craig, the point is that yes, Saddam was a bad man. He deserved what he got and more.
However, the Iraqi Liberation Act was very specific. It stated that America would support with money and weapons, any faction that wanted to take Saddam down, and wouldn’t support any faction that supported Saddam.

Now, whenever I ask who gave America the right to preemptively invade a sovereign nation to depose Saddam, I am told that we were authorized by the UN to do so.

Now let me get my head around this.

The UN, which is abhorred by virtually every conservative in this country.
The same UN of which John Bolton said, “There’s no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference”.
The same UN whose every decision is derided and laughed at by conservatives, said it was OK to invade Iraq, and all of a sudden, red blooded Americans everywhere were cool with that.

That UN?

America has been involved in numerous “wars” since WW2. All of them undeclared.

This is hardly a moot point.

Is it possible that our fighting men and women have been treated like mercenaries by the very CICs that have sent them out to fight these undeclared wars?

Our American fighting men and women haven’t seen a ticker tape parade on their return since 1945.
Could it be because we Americans, other than the families of the troops, haven’t been asked by our leaders to make any sacrifices in support of the war effort like our parents were in WW2?


Posted by: Rocky Marks at August 27, 2010 1:24 AM
Comment #306952

Anyone who thinks our invasion of Iraq was honorable or even necessary has rocks in their sox. If it was not honorable or necessary, and the invader was a thousand time stronger than the invaded, then we can rightfully say it was a bully move, hence, bully attacks and then kicks little girl on the school grounds, and did so with his bully henchmen behind him.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 27, 2010 1:29 PM
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