Victory in Iraq

I am encouraged by the recent report by two Brookings scholars about the improved situation in Iraq. Their fellow Democrats greeted the revelation that Iraq is a war we might just win with tepid enthusiasm, but any American who puts his country ahead of politics hopes that they are right.

Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack are very circumspect in their analysis. They do not say that the war HAS been won, or even that it WILL be won. They simply point to the remarkable change that has taken place all over Iraq since their last visits. Their conclusion is that we CAN win. This conclusion is in contrast to what they have been writing as recently as a few months ago. Their article creating quite a stir among the chattering classes and making some people wonder if they declared defeat too soon.

I think we can thank the Dems and even the nut-bar left wing of the party for helping force conditions that led to the change we see today. I admit that I did not properly appreciate what was happening back around the mid-term elections. President Bush stubbornly refused to make the necessary big changes in personnel and strategy required to improve the situation in Iraq. The November election and the changes in the congress forced his hand and he did the needful things soon after. Now it is the Democrats who do not properly appreciate what has happened.

Many of you will find my use of the v-word strange, maybe even offensive. I understand that apprehension. After years of going sideways or even losing ground some apprehension – and a lot of caution – is in order.

Some people are not even sure that we “deserve” to win because of perceived manipulation & miscalculations made going into the war followed by mistakes made in the implementation of a postwar solution. With these people I strongly disagree. A stable, reasonably peaceful and relatively democratic Iraq is in the best interests of everybody except regional despots and terrorists. Even if you believe President Bush does not deserve to win, the Iraqi and the American people clearly do and the package is inseparable. We – the president, the American people and the people of Iraq - go on to victory or defeat together.

When I consider the probable alternatives, working to finish the job in Iraq looks like the best option. I believe that a precipitous withdrawal would lead to much more carnage, in the short term for Iraq & the region and in the longer term for the U.S. I bellieve a abrupt pullout from Iraq would be worse than our redeployment from Vietnam, and that had really bad consequences. America’s defeat in Vietnam created the conditions that facilitated the Iranian revolution, Soviet adventurism in Angola, the Horn of Africa & Afghanistan as well as the leftist revolutions in Central America. Many of our current problems are linear results of those things, and that is not to mention the biggest things of all. The power vacuum in Indo-China resulted in millions of deaths and refugees heading out to the open sea in very small boats. An American defeat in Iraq would create similar ripples and probably also some big waves.

The war in Iraq is costing the U.S. a great deal in blood & treasure, but it is a price we can afford to pay and if we can be successful, it will be well worth the cost.

There are many hopeful signs in Iraq today. The strategic momentum is now on our side. A few months ago, this was not the case. We are making significant progress on the micro-political front. We are succeeding in training Iraqis in both the civil skills needed to build democracy and the self defense skills needed to defend it. For example, provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) are being staffed and deployed around the country and/or embedded with U.S military. The Brookings article emphasizes their importance. Before anything else works in a society, you need to establish security, but to maintain security you must soon develop the local community. Now we are doing both.

The biggest remaining challenge is at the macro-political level. Finding consensus in the Iraqi parliament is hard. A lot is at stake. We should not under or overestimate the meaning of this, however. Governments can change. Besides, our own Congress has been unable to tackle contentious issues such as the explosive growth of entitlement spending or the immigration mess, and we have a stable country, a robust economy and more than 200 years of experience and tradition in the democratic process.

As a matter of fact, one of the problems with Iraqi reconstruction has been that the country has been over-centralized. One reason so much is at stake is because everybody assumes the center will have great authority to make detailed decisions for people all over the country. As we build legitimate local institutions, a less centrally planned economy and local reliance on legitimate local authority, the vicissitudes of politics and caprice in Baghdad become less troublesome to the daily life of the people.

In summary, I think the proper metaphor is a glass half full and gaining. This is in sharp contrast to the situation a few months ago, when it was losing. Back then I HOPED the new strategy would bear fruit, but my experience told me that the chances were not good. We certainly have NOT achieved victory in Iraq. Success still might elude us in the end, but now both my hope and my experience are telling me that we have a way forward.

Here is some recent background in Iraq, FYI

Stability in Iraq: A War We Just Might Win - Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.

And Now a Diplomatic Surge - With U.S. forces in Iraq having recently reached “surge” levels, President Bush has intensified a diplomatic offensive, dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to visit U.S. allies in the region.

When Do You Know You're Winning? Combating Insurgencies - Past, Present, and Future

Advancing Freedom in Iraq - A secure and stable Iraq is in America's national interest, and Iraq's best chance for long-term stability is to develop democratic institutions that protect the civil, political, and human rights of the Iraqi people. Congress should not interfere with ongoing military efforts to secure and stabilize Iraq or legislate restrictions on the use of U.S. military force.

The Iraq Index - Economic, public opinion, & security data, providing updated information on various criteria, including crime, telephone and water service, troop fatalities, unemployment, Iraqi security forces, oil production, and coalition troop strength.

Public Opinion on the War with Iraq - Comprehensive data regarding public opinion on various aspects about the war in Iraq including the build-up, the use of force, stability in the region, and what should be done from here on out.

Disengagement From Iraq: Political Cover for Whom? - Will tomorrow's narrative be that the strategic military situation in Iraq was starting to improve in 2007 but Congress pulled the plug anyway—emboldening Islamist extremists throughout the region and demoralizing all our friends?

Posted by Jack at August 6, 2007 7:23 PM
Comment #228546

You must be kidding.
The authors of the primary article, O’Hanlon & Pollack, were among the primary cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq. While the Brookings institute may be relatively moderate, these two jokers are anything but. They have been wrong and wrong and wrong, again and again and again. They are utterly lacking in credibility, and no one should listen to these people.

Here is an article in which extensive quotes allow O’Hanlon to impeach himself:

Pollack is, if possible, even worse.

The military solution is not improving, and it is absurd to pretend otherwise.

Iraq is having country-wide power outages now. One large city, Karbala, went without water for three days. And remember, temperatures of 117 degrees make such outages a horrendous experience.

The political situation has deteriorated even further. As of today, there are NO Sunni representatives in the Iraqi cabinet. The government is at a literal standstill. General Petraeus & al-Maliki are having screaming arguments, because Petraeus is arming the Sunnis. Al-Maliki is less worried about Al Qaida in Iraq than Sunni militias coming full bore after the Shias.

Well, I could go on and on. But it is a terrible problem when the actual state of Iraq is so grossly misrepresented to the American public.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2007 8:15 PM
Comment #228549


So you have declared defeat already?

Iraq is in a terrible state. The terrorists have systematically worked to make it so. Their goal is to destroy anything that might improve the situation. These guys are the enemy. These guys are the ones we need to defeat.

Those terrible things you mention re Iraq today will get worse if we leave too soon. There ultimately is no military solution alone. That is why I mention the other things going on. But security always preceeds progress in other areas. So a security solution is a necessary, but not sufficient step.

We all agree that a U.S. defeat in Iraq would be terrible for Iraqis, Americans and everybody except terrorists and local despots. As long as we have a chance to prevent that, I am willing to take it. The information I am hearing makes me believe it is possible.

Posted by: Jack at August 6, 2007 8:29 PM
Comment #228551

So you have declared defeat already?


Posted by: Max at August 6, 2007 8:33 PM
Comment #228555

QUOTE: “While the Brookings institute may be relatively moderate”


And the Pope may be “relatively” Religious…..

(and Hillary Klinton and be “relatively feminine”)

Posted by: Firstteam1 at August 6, 2007 8:51 PM
Comment #228558


Nobody is rooting for an American defeat.

That said, when will we actually do what it takes to win?

Posted by: Rocky at August 6, 2007 9:09 PM
Comment #228560

QUOTE: “That said, when will we actually do what it takes to win?”

While it’s been glossed over in the MSM, it’s in the process as we speak….

Unfortunately, decisiveness can’t be packaged for the short attention span of the average liberal…

(although defeat may not come in time for the 08 election….((((cringe)))))…….

Posted by: Forrest Gump at August 6, 2007 9:19 PM
Comment #228561

I “declared defeat” two years ago, in writing, in comments on Watchblog, and explained why. I have been proven correct right down the line, which certainly cannot be said for Pollack & O’Hanlon.

It is not a matter of optimism or pessimism. It is simply assessing the situation and making an accurate judgment.

Will the situation get worse? How? There is almost no water and almost no electricity. The police are corrupt, the Iraqi Army nearly non-existent- we do not even hear the “when they stand up we will stand down” line anymore, we no longer even bother to pretend- and the most effective security forces are militias. Without electricity, Iraq has a cash/barter economy, with unemployment running somewhere between 30 - 70%. Over 600,000 Iraqis have died violent deaths as the result of the invasion, and that number is a year old. Two million have fled, and another two million are internally displaced.

Ethnic cleansing in Baghdad is continuing at the same pace. Between one to three dozen tortured bodies show up on the streets every morning. Yesterday, a mass grave containing sixty bodies was found, people executed recently. How many more have disappeared without counting? No one knows.

The situation is a little like chess. One player immediately loses the Queen, a Bishop, & a rook in exchange for a Pawn. The outcome is inevitable. It may take a while, but the seeds of defeat have already been planted.

Of course, we are not talking about chess pieces. We are talking about human lives lost, families torn apart, hundreds of billions of dollars down the rathole, the alienation of allies…

Meanwhile, Cheney lied through his teeth again today, doing his best to confuse Americans about the nature of the war. Does he lie because he is deluded? Who knows? Cheney wants everyone to think we are fighting Al Qaida. He wants Americans to believe we are fighting terrorists. But that is not correct, not at all.

It would be much more accurate to say that Americans are fighting the people of Iraq, and that factions of the Iraq people are fighting with one another. It is a civil war. Al Qaida in Iraq and the Sunni Islamic Salafists small factions with no- I repeat, NO- chance of taking over Iraq.

We should withdraw, immediately. Barring that, we should pursue an outside in strategy: use American troops to seal borders, prevent other foreigners from entering, and prevent the war from spreading, while the Iraqis work out the bloody denoument.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #228562

Just wondered if any of the political experts in these parts are familiar with this quote…

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Sounds an awful lot like Iraq doesn’t it?….The Bathist regime was removed [not] for light and transient causes, however the people are indeed unaccustom to life without tolerable, evil sufferage and therefore resistant to any change…(even at the promise of liberty)….

Either way, I believe it’s called opportunity with difficulty….

Hint: the quote is from a document dated July 4,1776

Posted by: Forrest Gump at August 6, 2007 9:45 PM
Comment #228563

Phx8, if you have been right since your prediction 24 months aqo, congratulations on foreseeing the good news that is coming out of Iraq. And enough good news to consider Jack’s broader strategy (not your tactic) of serious considering more effort in September.

I can imagine a similar statement about Bunker (Breeds) Hill during the Revolutionary War. Based on that action … then Valley Forge … etc. The war should have ended before we became the greatest nation in history.

Posted by: Edge at August 6, 2007 9:51 PM
Comment #228564

We do not hear “when they stand up, we will stand down” because that was part of the strategy that did not produce the desired results. We are no longer using that strategy you criticized two years ago.

We all understand that the situation was not good and had deteriorated. Then the strategy changed and conditions have begun to change. In any conflict, there are many mistakes, adjustments and readjustments. This adjustment seems to be achieving what we hope.

Very few outcomes in war are inevitable. Chess is a very simple game with a limited number of gambits. We can accurately program them into a computer that is guaranteed to win every time. Human events are a lot more complicated. We allowed the forces of terror and disorder to get out of hand, but our capacity has not been significantly damaged. We did not lose any big chess pieces (to take your metaphor); what we lost the was the initiative and that is now what we are regaining.

I find it very interesting that you use Iraqi suffering as an arguement against the U.S. and then a few lines later you are eager to consign them all to a hell of civil war and destruction AND even advocate sealing their borders so that none can escape.

I think it is worth the effort to avoid defeat for ourselves and the good people of Iraq. I think there is a chance. The new strategy has given us a new beginning.

Posted by: Jack at August 6, 2007 9:58 PM
Comment #228567

QUOTE: “Barring that, we should pursue an outside in strategy: use American troops to seal borders, prevent other foreigners from entering, and prevent the war from spreading, while the Iraqis work out the bloody denoument.”

Why do liberals with absolutely no military experience proffer such nonsense….LOL….Seal the border?…Hahahaha….OK…Let’s start the process tomorrow…Of course we’ll either need to make a deal Iran, Syria and Turkey to allow us to resupply our troops from THEIR side of the border…Barring that, we’ll first need to build bases and airfield large enough to handle the logistics for a large force…(which would take…gee…weeks and thousands of dollars…LOL)..Or we could always try and resupply the troops from our centrally located existing bases and airfields..(thru enemy infested territory) while the insurgents exacted huge tolls against sitting duck convoys….

Why do I even start these rant with ithat haven’t a clue?

Hahahaha…Shame on me…

(Anybody here ever serve in a war zone?)

Posted by: Forrest Gump at August 6, 2007 10:08 PM
Comment #228569

Careful about your assumptions. I served honorably as an Air Force Officer, a B-52 bombardier. But to your point, my experiences do not compare with the experiences of veterans who have fought on the ground. Occasionally, some of those people post comments. They will have to speak for themselves.

You forget the control of US borders are limited by the restrictions of posse comitatus. We would be under no such restrictions in Iraq.

US troops along the Turkish/Kurdish border would be tremendously useful as a buffer, keeping the two sides apart.

The Iranian border would require some troops, but the Shias are not the source of the problem. They obtain their weapons through the Maliki government, and Shias do not have much of a history of terrorist acts in Iraq… Well, some, but it is more of a reaction, a tit for tat ethnic cleansing, Death Squads, destruction of mosques, and so on. But over 80% of US casualties come at the hands of Sunni insurgents- especially ex-Baathists and the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades, nationalist groups who have no use for the religious fundamentalists.

The key would be sealing the Saudi/Syrian border. Nomads cross back and forth at will, as do smugglers and worse. That has to be stopped.

Before dismissing the idea out of hand, consider the benefits. The most unpopular faction among Iraqis are the suicide bombers, the foreign jihadists. Most Iraqis believe only foreigners would resort to suicide bombing. If the US committed its resources to stopping their entry, it might make Americans more popular with Iraqis. Americans would be seen as there to help, rather than occupy & effectively annex. Because right now, next to the foreign jihadists, US troops are the second most unpopular faction among Sunnis and Shias, and the vast majority of both groups want us out of their country.

But the most common cause of violent death among Iraqis are not suicide bombers- most die by gunshot wound. And the people who are shooting are mostly Sunnis & Shias, and these two groups will need to make their own peace.

What good news?

Argh, I deserve getting skewered for using a chess analogy. Analogies almost never work. Oh well.

I do believe we have a moral obligation to prevent genocide. I have seen polls of Iraqis which suggests they are optimistic about the results of an American withdrawal. I think it is definitely worth running the risk, the risk of negative consequences. However, an outside in strategy could be more advantageous than the Murtha “over-the-horizon” strategy. Think about it.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2007 10:35 PM
Comment #228570

Funny how some of you react to the two brookings scholars; trying to dismiss their article b/c they are telling the truth about the surge. Many of you (and you know exactly who you are) argued for years that the (bad) news coverage in Iraq was accurate and indicative of the reality Iraq. You downplayed the democracy of the voting that Iraq had since 2005; you constantly marked the bombings and failures inside the “green zones”, almost to the point of cheering. Many of you also said that you support the troops and that when there is good news, then you’ll admit it. Well, here you go. Yet, the same bunch of you are failing miserably in taking this good news; news from people (reporters) who actually went there. And, this is just the begining, this surge will continue to show the effectiveness & success of the new strategy and the success of the US military and the Iraqi people.

The more you deny it, the more you are just going to debunk yourselves. Hell, even Democrat politicians (who have been over there recently) are seeing the results; especially the only first MUSLIM politician.

Rep. Keith Ellison made a weekend trip to Iraq, where a pair of sheiks urged Congress’ only Muslim lawmaker to help in countering al-Qaeda’s vision of Islam.

Posted by: rahdigly at August 6, 2007 10:49 PM
Comment #228577

Your sources do not come from reporters in Iraq. They come from the US government “multi-national force.” There are only about a dozen American reporters actually on the ground in Iraq, and those reporters are pretty much restricted to the Green Zone. Travel outside the Green Zone requires armed escort, and it is simply too risky for western journalists to attempt very often.

Apparently the irony of supplying ex-Baathists with arms… you know, those followers of Saddam Hussein… as an effective method for suppressing fundamentalists, has escaped you.

I have advocated negotiating with insurgents- insurgents that red column commenters usually refer to as “terrorists”- for at least two years, and I have been criticized for it. And please note, this was NEVER part of the strategy behind the surge, it was NEVER one of the eighteen administration benchmarks; but the fact is, this approach works- after a fashion.

Far better to buy & bribe our way out of the mess, rather than fight our way out. In the past, negotiating with the ex-Baathists, the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades, and other Sunni nationalist groups failed because their precondition for negotiations was American withdrawal. They are willing to make an alliance of convenience today, because: 1) they are nationalists, and they are relatively secular, at least compared with the anti-historical jihadists, and 2) the alliance gives them weaponry and autonomy to brace for the day when Americans do withdrawm because 3) they have no intention of allowing themselves to be ruled by the Shias. Not for a moment.

And they still want us out of their country.

A person would have to be out of their mind to believe the Sunni nationalists are now our friends. They are the enemy of our enemy, nothing more. These groups are far from unified. Sunni attacks continue against US troops, because there are something like 30 different Iraqi factions mixing it up.

Rahdigly, I will believe the situation in Iraq is improving when independent sources in-country begin reporting it.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2007 11:45 PM
Comment #228579

I am sitting here in Baghdad, wondering where this progress is.

Posted by: yossarian at August 7, 2007 12:07 AM
Comment #228582

Phx8, dude the good news from the NY Times article. Oh wait, dat don’t fit with your predictions and view of the war.

Phx8, why not look towards American victory and argue for the here and now, rather than your predictions.

To believe that every … piece … of … evideence from Iraq is rediculous.

I’ll accept that it is more your way … more bad than good … but have the courage to be objective in the interests of the country bloke.

Posted by: Edge at August 7, 2007 12:39 AM
Comment #228588

Why yes, it’s going swimmingly:

A total of 17 ministers, nearly half of Maliki’s cabinet, have now quit or are boycotting meetings at a time when he is under growing pressure from frustrated U.S. officials to make demonstrable progress in reconciling Iraq’s warring sects.
The cabinet boycott means Maliki sets off on Tuesday for visits to Turkey and Iran this week, with signs he is losing control of his government back home.

Then there’s this:

Why do liberals Presidents with absolutely no military experience proffer such nonsense?
Posted by: womanmarine at August 7, 2007 1:05 AM
Comment #228590

The NYT article is an op-ed piece. And the NYT hardly has a sterling reputation when it comes to reporting on Iraq. Remember Judith Miller?

I can appreciate that people want a good outcome. I can appreciate patriotism. We all can.

But I do not appreciate an administration which misleads us. The Bush administration says it wants victory, but just what does that mean?

The actions behind all those fine words- words such as democracy, and freedom, and liberty-reveal that victory has nothing to do with self-determination for Iraqis, and everything to do with controlling oil, establishing permanent bases, and treating the war as if it were merely somthing for domestic consumption in order to gain political advantage.

There are ways to achieve victory, but it will not have anything to do with military conquest.

1) Conduct a national plebiscite. Do Iraqis want to remain united in a loose federation?

2) The answer will almost certainly be yes.

3) Outside in. No more urban presence for US troops. Secure borders, and keep our hands off the Iraqi political process.

3) Hold new, UN supervised elections. Grand Ayatollah Sistani and the CPA rushed the first elections, and only the Iranian-allied parties were sufficiently organized to win. Next time, it will be very different, and we need to…

4) Accept the outcome. Al-Sadr factions will win, and so will the ex-Baathists. Oddly enough, they share a dedication to remaining united. The Sunnis do not have oil fields, and Al-Sadr has his power base in central Iraq, which also lacks oil. On this account, sharing oil, they will cooperate. But otherwise, Iraq will be effectively partitioned.

We need to forget about forcing the Iraqi Parliament to sign over their oil to Exxon, Shell, and BP. We need to forget about establishing permanent bases. And we need to stop pretending Iraq is a matter of fighting terrorists.

In the long run, the real win is a victory of ideals. It means seeing groups like the Mahdi Army, Ex-Baathists, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and others co-opted, by absorbing them into the political process.

That will be pretty ugly in the short run, but that is what victory will look like. And until we have an administration willing to assert US ideals at the expense of short term domestic political gains, militarism and imperialistic exploitation…

Posted by: phx8 at August 7, 2007 1:14 AM
Comment #228597

What a sick joke.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 7, 2007 2:59 AM
Comment #228599
There are many hopeful signs in Iraq today. The strategic momentum is now on our side.

LOL! The Iraqi Parlaiment is on vacation, all the Sunni’s are boycotting Maliki’s cabinet, three-quarters of attacks on US troops now come from Iranian-trained Shiites and the Turks are massing on Iraq’s northern border. Things couldn’t be better, Jack. :)

I am sitting here in Baghdad, wondering where this progress is.

Posted by: yossarian at August 7, 2007 12:07 AM

I just thought that post was worth repeating, since nobody acknowledged it. Keep your head down, yossarian. Jack says victory is coming. Remember, only 40 years ago Democrats thought Vietnam was lost. Boy do they look silly now.

Posted by: American Pundit at August 7, 2007 3:18 AM
Comment #228603


You cannot negotiate with THE insurgents because there are a variety of them with different goals. Negotiation with Al Qaida is useless. BUT we are negotiating with some former insurgents. That is the policy you criticized above when you implied we were giving arms to former Baathists.

You say that they want us out of their country and we want to leave, so we probably have some common ground there. Nobody, except terrorists (not insurgents) or local despots wants chaos and disorder that would come with a retreat too quick.

Some of your suggestions are sensible and I expect some variation might be possible, but not yet. Before you can take the next step, you have to establish reasonable security and help build local legitimate institutions. The UN is unreliable in this case. They can supervise elections only if we establish the environment that permits it.

Re hands off the political process. A functioning democracy is more than an election. I agree that we made a mistake by calling elections too soon. The elections worked, but the democracy did not work as well. We should learn from that and work on the infrastructure needed for democracy, which we are now doing.

Nobody is advocating that the Iraqis sign over their oil to Exxon et al. The Iraqis will retain their rights to sell it (or not) as they wish. This is just a bogus concern.

You know that when you call for a precipitous retreat you ARE asking us to give up our ideals and roll the dice for a quick fix.


As I mentioned, the macro-political climate remains a mess. They are as only about successful in passing continuous legislation as our congress. We are working to establish a secure environment with strong and legitimate local institutions. This will not be enough in the end, but it is a necessary step. We certainly have not won yet, but the trend has turned in our favor.

All Americans should be happy about this. I understand that you, Phx8 and the others would be happy, but you do not believe it is true. In that case, we will all have to wait for more evidence.


Re Vietnam - that started off as a Dem run war and it was lost as long as they ran it. Then there was a change of strategy. By 1972, Creighton Abrams had crushed the insurgency, but many Americans remained locked in the 1968 mindset. We pulled out with the promise to support the South. Later, when the North invaded, with armored columns and air support (this was not an insurgency) we stayed out. The Democrats thought we were defeated and it became a self fulfilling prophecy.

When President Ford annonced the fall of Siagon, some people cheered. Let’s hope we have indeed learned the lesson of Vietnam. Wars are political and sometimes that politics is American.

Posted by: Jack at August 7, 2007 7:47 AM
Comment #228610


I will believe the situation in Iraq is improving when independent sources in-country begin reporting it.

Good! You will be held to that quote! Because good news (already) has and will definitely be coming out of Iraq in the near future. It will be interesting to see if some actually will admit it and/or how others will (continue) to spin it. It is (indeed) there to admit now (somewhat) if some can ever be cured of their B.D.S. (Bush Derangement Syndrome).

Posted by: rahdigly at August 7, 2007 10:44 AM
Comment #228613
By 1972, Creighton Abrams had crushed the insurgency

LOL! The insurgncy was never crushed, Jack. Nice try. What happened was, Nixon declared victory and we pulled out. 40 years later, Vietnam has most favored nation trading status with us and the government is kicking farmers off their land to build golf resorts for rich Chinese entrepreneurs.

There’s you most likely scenario for Iraq if we pull out.

A functioning democracy is more than an election…The elections worked, but the democracy did not work as well.

Gee, ya think Jack? We told you that all along. You thought elections without democratic institutions was a great idea.

We should learn from that

Jack, none of this was rocket science. We have a massive foundation of state building experience from the 90’s. There are tons of books and manuals and case studies written about it. But it was all was ignored because Republicans don’t do state building — or read books, apparently.

You guys ignored every lesson and had to learn them all over again the hard way because you hate Clinton and the UN.

Fighting an insurgency isn’t rocket science either. We’ve known how to defeat an insurgency since the early 60’s when the British defeated the Communist insurgency in Malaya. Again, a sea of ink was used to write down what works — hell, the Marine Corps’ Small Wars Manual from the 1930’s spells it out in great detail — but it was all ignored.

Jack, it’s absolutely embarrassing for you to be taking this tone in your article. YOU derided every single alternative to Bush’s failed strategies in Iraq — alternatives based on decades of experience. In a small way, as an opinion leader, you helped bring about the failure in Iraq.

And now you’re just going to shrug it off and say, “Who knew?” WTF? Have you no shame?

Posted by: American Pundit at August 7, 2007 11:29 AM
Comment #228631

The Iraq war came along right when this nation needed it. When you have a cunning but not intellegent President, the best thing to do is let him get bogged down and occupy his time in some war in a little nation. I know it has been tough, especially on our troops and their families. But, just imagine what mischiefs this President would have done if the Iraq War had ended in 2003.

Posted by: jlw at August 7, 2007 1:11 PM
Comment #228632

“I think there is a chance. The new strategy has given us a new beginning.”

thanks for so concisely encapsulating what is wrong with the neocon movement (and this administration).

sorry bud, there are no political mulligans, nor do overs in war. “new beginning” is on par with “new conservative” - ridiculous oxymorons, the both.

soon now, the dems will retake the fed, and the conservatives will retake the republican party… which is good, because given your attitude (and moreover, that of this administration), i would put far more faith in the dem’s ability to win this war than the current administration’s… in other words, yes, we lose.

if we have any chance of winning this war, it rests solely with bob gates… and unfortunately, it seems obvious that he was put in place merely to assuage dissatisfied conservatives, rather than to effect any substantial, meaningful change in the course of this sad excuse for a ‘strategery.’

“wait, wait…now we’re winning… no? ok, what about now?! … ok, well now we have to be… let’s just wait a bit longer… still waiting… well, you have to give it a chance to take… almost there… any day now… now!…er, hold on a minute more - alright, perhaps we should change our strategy - from a ‘surge’ to…uh…a ‘temporary military presence accretion’… now we’ll just require a bit more time to ‘change gears’…”

it’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Posted by: diogenes at August 7, 2007 1:31 PM
Comment #228633


I,for one,have utter confidance in this administartions ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,even if you and Broohings are correct.
You apraisal of the results of our defeat in Vietnam is unsupported and frankly bizarre. For example,the leftist insurrections of Central America was a response to economic disparity,a wealthy ruleing class supported by US corporations and a populace ground into poverty.Also there was and is the legacy of Spanish colonoialism that left most of the land in the hands of a few.
The instability of 40 years of warfare,the destruction of the regions infrastructure and economic embargos had a much more significant adverse effect on Vietnam than our withdrawel.Had we never entered the conflict and abided by international accords the region would be much better off today and Nike would still be making shoes there.

Posted by: BillS at August 7, 2007 1:39 PM
Comment #228639

“WTF? Have you no shame?”

AP, haven’t you’ve been reading Jack’s articles and comments long enough to know the answer to that question?

“it’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.”

Indeed. It’s a tragicomedy of truly colossal proportions.

Look at all the “Victory” in today’s news:

BAGHDAD, Aug. 7 — Iraq’s political crisis deepened Monday as five more ministers withdrew from cabinet meetings, delivering a major blow to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s fractured unity government and efforts to reconcile Iraq’s warring parties.

Hours earlier, a truck bomb in a Shiite village near the northern city of Tall Afar killed 31 people and wounded scores more, striking an area that was once hailed by President Bush and U.S. military commanders as an oasis of stability, following U.S. operations against insurgents there. Six children were among the dead, police said.

The U.S. military also announced the deaths of nine American soldiers, including four killed in an explosion Monday in volatile Diyala province, where U.S. forces are engaged in a major offensive against Sunni insurgents. The blast injured 12 other U.S. soldiers, the military said in a statement.

One soldier was killed by a sophisticated roadside bomb in west Baghdad on Monday, and another was killed during combat in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, the military said. Three soldiers were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb struck their convoy south of Baghdad, the military announced Tuesday.

Here is the link:
Iraqi Crisis Deepens as 5 More Ministers Quit Cabinet Meetings
U.S. Announces Deaths of Nine Soldiers, Four Killed on Monday in Diyala Province

Oh, and here’s another “victory” laden headline:
As British Leave, Basra Deteriorates
Violence Rises in Shiite City Once Called a Success Story

Perhaps Jack’s “Scholars” are holed up inside Dick Cheney’s bunker in an undisclosed location, unable to get an internet connection.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 7, 2007 2:23 PM
Comment #228646

The link on conditions in Basra is especially revealing. A civil war between Shias does not fit into “victory” narrative in any way, shape, or form. It has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

Another front in the civil war will heat up later this year and early next year, when decisions are made about the disposition of Kirkuk. It has not even started to get interesting. Last I heard, elections in Kirkuk scheduled for this fall have been postponed.

Posted by: phx8 at August 7, 2007 2:53 PM
Comment #228658

phx8, you know I agree. And look at this: Yet another retired four star Army general has gone public to say that Bush’s wars have been a complete failure.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 7, 2007 5:06 PM
Comment #228660

Defeat is more than a state of mind, and the enemies and dissenters are not the only folks who can lose a war for a nation. Has it occured to you that the road to hell can be paved with good intentions? That your efforts might actually be failing to do what they need to do? That’s what the evidence is saying.

Unfortunately, you and the others don’t care about what’s in the here and now. You’re always talking about what will happen if we leave, always telling us that if we stick to it, we will win. Regardless of that, after two thirds of a year of raised troop levels, things don’t seem to have improved terribly much. In fact, violence against civilians is worse. In fact, we have a major Sunni Faction splitting off from the executive branch and the others incapable of controlling the armed forces as a unified government.

The interim report was incredibly lackluster. What we have here is more shift of the goalposts, with the addition of more of the same diversionary tactics to avoid admitting that we’re still in a situation where the desired changes we want to make aren’t happening, and won’t be likely to happen, if things continue as they are.

Let me emphasize on important point: it doesn’t matter how well we surpress the violence, how well we seem to get along with the factions ourselves in Iraq. What matters is whether these people reconcile to each other, and that is not happening. Everything else will be but a temporary respite, if that reconciliation doesn’t happen.

If our efforts are not yielding that important change, it’s against our interests, and theirs, for us to remain. The long we remain, the worse things will get. I will not profess to know whether Iraq will settle down, or become a bloodbath. I’d just as soon we work out options to help head that off. However, the longer we wait, the more those kind of options become lost to us.

What is the truth about the surge? The truth is, it hasn’t lived up to the hype, and this is just more hype from people who were big supporters of the war beforehand.

The trouble here is that we can’t disagree with you on any count, even with good factual back-up, without you making the claim that we’re just disagreeing with you for the sake of partisanship.

This isn’t good news, this is punditry.

As for Ellison? The article says he still disagrees with the war.

I think what you misunderstand is the degree to which Democrats want this to end well. You act like we’re withdrawing out of fear, when it’s concern for our country and the Middle East that dominates our reasons. We don’t think this war is helping things. You should note that despite the get-tough rhetoric of your side, what’s winning in Ramadi is respect and calm, giving people control over their own lives. Perhaps if we start leaving, the Iraqi’s will grow more independent. They’re certainly not doing so while we stay.

The insurgents aren’t the kind of enemy one defeats by attrition. They are the kind of enemy we defeat by appealling to the best interests of their supporters and getting out of their way.

Ultimately, to win in the broader sense, we have to find ways to wean Iraq off of us. Staying or bulking up forces at this point in the game will not do that. We can’t continue this war and win the overall game in the Middle East. The military efforts to force Iraq to remain politically unified have failed, and are unlikely to succeed. The political and diplomatic efforts, though, might be able to do, where our military’s ability was compromised by bad planning and management of the war. That’s honestly what I want.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2007 5:17 PM
Comment #228661

Forrest G., the choice of word “seal” was not appropriate, but the concept is. We have satellites and aerial capacity to monitor troop and supply convoys coming across Iraq’s border. That can be used to interdict incursions by neighboring nations.

Apparently, your comment’s target is not the only one who fails to keep up on war technology, strategy and tactics capacity.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 7, 2007 5:39 PM
Comment #228663

The key to any decent outcome ,as the ISG suggested,is involvement of nieghboring countries,notably Iran. Although I commend the fledgling talks it appears that Bush is more interested in confrontation with Iran than progess. The reports of Iranians arming insurgents are at best suspect. Karzi of Afganistan says the Iranians are being helpful. After an amount of blathering Bush says they are not.Face it. Iran is more democratic than most of our Muslum allies,the exception being Turky.They will be part of the outcome in Iraq. They have to be.They live in the region.Bushcos continued beligerence is one more example of stubborn incompetance that has marked this regime and threatened world peace. I do appreciate you appreciation of the Dem push on Bush to open his eyes and change policies. I fear it is not enough to convince him to abandon his basic goal of controlling oil supplies with a permanent occupation of one sort or another.

Posted by: BillS at August 7, 2007 5:59 PM
Comment #228675


Iraq is the most democratic of the Arab countries.

Even if they WANT to come to some kind of agreement, Iran’s current rulers are uncertain partners. They are currently hanging and stoning lots of dissidents but they still have a problem with dissent. Their economy is near collapse, despite the high oil revenues. The Iranian government chances of survival are not better than the current Iraqi one.

That is one of the great unknowables about the current Iraq situation. ALL of the players are subject to change. They are all weak reeds and leaning on them too much would be unwise.


I know that you are saying what you do out of concern for your country. So am I. We disagree about what would be best.

I think we are all in danger of confirmation bias. When anybody holds a strong opinion, he tends to emphasize the evidence that confirms that opinion. I recognize that I could be wrong, as I know you do, but I still have to go with what I think is right.

What I believe strong war opponents are missing is that there has been a significant change in strategy. The use of the term “surge” was a mistake. It implies that we are just reinforcing our efforts, when in fact we are deploying a significantly different strategy that involves holding territory, NOT moving too fast, following with political and development efforts, co-opting some former opponents and accelerating training of Iraqi forces. This seems to be working better. Will it work? I think that is currently unknowable, but I believe the risk of giving it a chance is much less than the risk of pulling out too fast.

Insurgents are not the kind of enemy you defeat by attrition. You defeat insurgents by depriving them of support and safe zones. That is what we are doing now.

Posted by: Jack at August 7, 2007 8:43 PM
Comment #228676

Phx8, thanks for those points. I don’t agree that it is a loose federation. The persumes, IMO, that the majority of Iraqis are in one camp or another. I think that the majority of Iraqis are in the camp of democracy and self rule. Representative groups distort this along with the media.

I won’t argue about moving the troops to the border. I did not always agree here. I wonder what our troops would be able to do in drying up those that walk across the border to cause problems.

Posted by: Edge at August 7, 2007 8:44 PM
Comment #228678


The truth is, it hasn’t lived up to the hype, and this is just more hype from people who were big supporters of the war beforehand.

That is complete and utter Bullsh*t, Stephen. the surge in Iraq is working; you just have to take off the “hate Bush” blinders.

I think what you misunderstand is the degree to which Democrats want this to end well. You act like we’re withdrawing out of fear, when it’s concern for our country and the Middle East that dominates our reasons. We don’t think this war is helping things.

Wrong Stephen. The democrats have put themselves in a position that: what is good for our country (success, victory in Iraq) is bad for them and what is good for them is bad for our country (retreat and defeat). If you do not believe me then just look at what this democratic congressman said recently:

Interviewer: What do Democrats do if General Petraeus comes in in September, and says, “This is working very, very well at this point. We would be foolish to back away from it”?

CLYBURN: Well, that would be a real big problem for us, no question about that.

Why (the heck) would that be a problem for them?!! If they want to win and General Petraeus says the surge is working, then why would it be a “Big” problem for them?! The answer is that success in Iraq, at this point for the Democrats, is “Bad” for them. Yet, success in Iraq would be good for the US.

As for Ellison? The article says he still disagrees with the war.

That is fine. The point of the surge was not to change people’s opinion of whether or not we should have gone into Iraq; it is to complete the mission! The point of the article, which you obviously missed, was that a war critic went to Iraq (recently) and, being the only muslim in US congress, he was “urged” by two sheiks to help them in in “countering” al-Qaeda’s vision of Islam. They are “reaching out” and “dialoguing” with us; paraphrasing some of the things you have been saying on this blog. That should be a good thing for you.

Posted by: rahdigly at August 7, 2007 9:12 PM
Comment #228687

Could anyone actually define for us of what “victory” in Iraq would consist? Is such a “victory” worth the $$$ and lost lives?

Posted by: Rachel at August 7, 2007 10:21 PM
Comment #228689
That is fine. The point of the surge was not to change people’s opinion of whether or not we should have gone into Iraq; it is to complete the mission!

Which mission are we trying to complete? Getting rid of Saddam Hussein? Bringing “democracy” to Iraqis (2 million of whom have fled the country, most to Syria, which will be another whole story quite soon!)? Fighting “them” over there so we don’t fight “them” over here?

Just what the heck is the mission…seems to me, Bush already told us it was accomplished long ago standing on the deck of the Lincoln in San Diego harbor!!

Posted by: Rachel at August 7, 2007 10:31 PM
Comment #228690

I don’t know what to say to what you’ve written in your latest response. Honestly, I find the inability of your party to allow itself to be nailed down on just what it’s saying about the war, and what it means, to be one of the most frustrating parts of all this. Are we surging, with a temporary increase in soldiers, or are we not? If not, Bush lied to us to get support for a longer war. If so, then what’s all this talk about protracted wars into the indefinite future.

This seems like a bait and switch to me, one which unfortunately puts more soldiers in harm’s way for uncertain benefit.

What’s more, like I said, even if the surge can bring peace to Iraq, we can’t win unless peace remains there when we leave.

I think you should reference what most Democrats have said about how they want the withdrawal to proceed. The majority of Americans favor a gradual withdrawal, and most Democratic candidates are happy to get on that bandwagon.

On the subject of your last paragraph, I’ve said it before. However, I don’t think you’re taking into account the current troubles with political neutrality of the armed forces and their management, the tendency of some within the forces to flip to the other side, taking their American training and equipment with them, and the continued control and governance of many parts of Iraq by nongovernmental militias and figures of power.

I’d love for it to work. Only trouble is, there seem to be, as before with other strategies, a real vacuum of concern for these parts of the equation. If government primacy cannot be guaranteed throughout the country, then the support and the safe-zones will continue to be a problem. Moreover, if we can’t get the Sunnis back, it’s not going to work. Hell, its already not working. Most of our casualties, and the casualties upon Shia Iraqis, are being inflicted by Sunnis unaffiliated with al-Qaeda. The terrorists aren’t the only ones who don’t want Iraq to work. They never have been. The most important role they’ve had to play was kicking off the mayhem. Since then, it’s largely sustained itself, especially lately. Civilian casualties are up for the month.

If you can’t answer how we stop the worst of this, if Bush’s policy is nowhere on this, even the positive developments which are real, stand to do little to win us this war. We cannot win, if we cannot go home without creating chaos.

The Cincinatti Enquirer article reads more like an op-ed than an article, and as general policy, I rarely consider them evidence of anything but somebody’s opinion. It’s more incestuous amplification of the same think-tank abstraction.

Hanlon has long been an advocate of the war. Any impression you’ve got that he had a road to Damascus conversion is wrong. All of a sudden, with bad things coming in about the war, we suddenly have this article touted everywhere and anywhere as proof that things are going well.

As for what Clyburn said? He’s splitting the difference, in true political fashion. First, Petraeus has to come out with a very positive report on the progress of the surge. We’ve got the breaking away of the Sunni governing block and the continued problems as laid out in the interim report hanging over September. You have a member of the senior staff saying “wait, it’s going to be more like November or December until we’re really ready.” Then we have the statistics on the number of neighborhoods held, and we’re badly behind on this.

Yes, it would be a problem for the Democrats if it all went well, but that doesn’t mean that we’d seek to sabotage it. The more likely approach would be a jump on the bandwagon, which is what the man is indicating would happen.

Because you’re so confident about the war’s improvement, you read into it your very biased impression of our motives and plans. But you fail to not the logical conditional, the hypothetical nature of the question, and all the things that would weight down on Petraeus’s report, given ongoing events in the war.

You’re clearly underestimating the work, the effort, the scale of the change necessary to redeem the war. We tried telling you there was a problem, but as before, you saw what you wanted to see, that being Democrats being traitors and backstabbers. You can’t get cooperation from people you’re not willing to deal with respectfully. That’s just asking too much.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2007 10:45 PM
Comment #228695


We have a choice going forward. I believe the risk of a precipitous withdrawal is greater than the risk of staying longer. There is no cost free alternative.

Victory in Iraq would mean a stable, reasonably democratic Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors. That would be worth the blood and the treasure.


The surge increased the number of U.S. troops. More soldiers was designed to help create conditions that would allow the other parts of the different strategy a chance to work. There is a necessary sequence. Security proceeds political development, but political developments are necessary to consolidate security. Right now we are trying to do both. It is a hard task, but it seems to be working.

This is a sound strategy being implemented by the guy who wrote the book on countering insurgencies. I do not know if it will succeed. Right now that is unknowable. But I believe it a risk we should take.

Re being mean to Dems, I do admit that I was a bit offended by Harry Reid’s preemptive surrender and I do hope he will have to eat those words. That was a terrible thing he did.

Posted by: Jack at August 7, 2007 11:26 PM
Comment #228703

Do not be too harsh on Reid. With the benefit of hindsight, the war was lost in the summer of 2003. We know that now. The mistakes made back then were too serious for allow for recovery.

There are a number of good books on the topic. For anyone with taste for military history, “Cobra II” is an excellent read. Although the book ends with events that happened shortly after the invasion, the concluding summary of the major mistakes made at that time delineatess the arc that has led us into our downward spiral. “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” gives also gives an excellent sense of the situation during the CPA administration. The absurdity of a poorly planned attempt to impose Republican ideals upon Iraqis, the ineptitude, the incompetence, the corruption… well, we know how that ended.

Counterinsurgency is a battle for hearts and minds. That battle ended when the American liberation of Iraq came to be perceived as a permanent occupation by a foreign power, and that transition occurred in the summer of 2003.

Furthermore, the more we rely upon a military solution, the more we unintentionally undermine the Iraqi government, such as it is. Caught between being perceived by Iraqis as an American puppet- by American demands that its Shia majority adopt a secular form of rule- and by American demands for oil legislation highly favorable to Exxon, Chevron, & BP; while simultaneously trying to please a variety of vying secular, religious, and ethnic factions, has resulted in the paralysis of that government.

American military occupation and a functional Iraqi government are now mutually exclusive. The vast majority of Sunnis and Shias do not want us in their country. Again, that possibility disappeared in the summer of 2003.

Posted by: phx8 at August 8, 2007 12:32 AM
Comment #228715

I believe you underestimate Irans stability.Their president is unpopular. is ours. Bottom line is there is no force to that threatens their stability. Their military are national loyalist,tempered by our old friend Saddam,and are unlikely to mount a coup. If the secular aspect of their government fails utterly the Ayatollahs will step in. It should be noted that unlike all other democracies in the world,the president is not the CIC. The Grand Ayatollah is.There are no monarchs the CIA can prop up this time.A good look at the extent of influence the Persians have had in the whole region,especially Afganistan will show you. Iranian cooperation is the key not only to Iraq but Afganistan and the broader war on Islamic terrorism.It might not work but aproaching them with threats and beligerance surly will not.
Pure speculation on my part but given known history I think it is a solid assumption the CIA is busy busy busy trying to undermine the government of Iran.If correct ,that has the makings of another great mistake by that distinguished agency.If they win the Islamist gain power. If they fail,especially if they are found out,the Islamist gain power.

Posted by: BillS at August 8, 2007 1:37 AM
Comment #228716

You guys literally waited four years too long to deal with these issues, and it isn’t as if you can simply ask the Iraqis to forget everything that’s happened.

Regardless of everything, your plan requires the Iraqis to cooperate, an if you read your own interim report, you’ll find that’s not really happening in the ways that matter. The politicians are putting undue influence on the military. The Iraqi Army is full of turncoats. The Militias aren’t disarming. The Sunnis remain political hermits, and are even now pulling out of the Maliki government.

At some point, we have to ask ourselves what kind of influence we really have on gaining this victory. The harder that is, the less likely it is that we will win. I know you guys like to think of defeat in the abstract, where the willpower to refuse to believe in it is sufficient to win, but there is a such thing as defeat, even for those who never give up.

If you define defeat as the inability to attain the desired objectives, then Iraq can only be seen as one. We let the terrorists and the insurgents panic this country into a civil war, or something worse, as the NIE would state.

The real tragedy of Iraq is that so much of it was a self-defeat, born of its supporters. We didn’t go in with the proper numbers, strategies, resources or knowledge. We went in thinking that we could remake Iraq through sheer willpower and a surefire plan, and were proved devastatingly wrong. The failure to nip the insurgency in the bud, to secure the country and do the kind of intensive rebuilding it needed can only be fairly laid at the feet of those who lead us into that war.

But of course, to admit failure is to admit defeat, and we don’t do that, right? Problem is, realities are stronger than perceptions. If the opposite were true, then everything you said for the past four years would have come to pass. It did not.

I am dubious of our success by experience. It would take some major shifts towards better times to convince me this war really has a good chance to succeed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2007 1:38 AM
Comment #228727
Victory in Iraq would mean a stable, reasonably democratic Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors. That would be worth the blood and the treasure.

Why are we not demanding that Saudi Arabia become a stable, reasonably democratic state? Or Pakistan? Or China? Or any of the myriad of other countries with awful human rights records, dictators, civil wars??

I’m sorry, Jack, but you’ve swallowed the entire gallon of Kool Aid that Bush, Cheney, et al. gave you…

The rest of us take pride in being able to deal with reality instead of hollow promises.

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 7:47 AM
Comment #228728
Re Vietnam - that started off as a Dem run war and it was lost as long as they ran it.

It actually started with the sending of military advisors by Eisenhower…a Republican…

Eisenhower also gave the OK for the CIA to unseat democratically elected president Mossadegh in Iran and seated the hated & violent Shah and his Savak…messing up Iran for over 50 years now…

What were those Republicans thinking!!!

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 7:50 AM
Comment #228730


Whether you know it or not, you are still using the chess analogy. There is no inevitability about events and history shows many remarkable changes of fortune. In the middle of 1864 a lot of people would have still bet on the South.

The strategy that successfully won the war against Saddam did not work well in the post-war. The bad guys took the initiative. It looks like we have it back.

I repeat, however, that we are not relying on the military solution. The military establishing some order is the necessary step in the process, but we are following with developing local capabilities. The older strategy relied on big projects, the kinds of things you might do after a conflict. The new strategy is more local, the kinds of things you would do to win the conflict. The Petraeus strategy is a marked departure and so is his implementation of it.

We do not seek a permanent occupation and we are not after Iraq’s oil, BTW. The bad guys work overtime trying to convince people of that. We should not travel that road with them. The best situation for both these things would be an Iraq that did not require U.S. troops and an Iraq that was free to sell its oil as it saw fit to the benefit of the people of Iraq.


I know lots of Iranians and I like most of them. I have confidence in the long term prospects for the Persians. But I do not think their current government has much of a long term future. They are virtually bankrupt, a notable achievement given the high price of oil. They have stepped up the stoning and hanging of dissidents, which is a sign of weakness, not strength. The Shah’s government looked really stable a couple of years before it disintegrated, as did the Soviet Empire. It is hard for us to predict the stability of such authoritarian states.

There is good news and bad news re Iran. It is a despotism, but the lazy kind. People are enjoying more freedoms and the power of the center is slipping. It could go either way. It is possible that the religious leaders allow power to slip. They maintain some authority but are no longer the deciders. Iranians dislike their government, but they are very nationalistic. This nationalism is not necessarily a bad thing for us.

However, in the next couple of years, actually dealing with Iran is a big problem both because their current rulers do not see any particular common interest with us and because the whole place is unstable.

AND you know if we deal with them and the government falls, everybody will blame us for “supporting” them. It might be better to stand a little back from that potential collapse to avoid getting hit by the depris.


I think of defeat in very specific terms. Defeat in Iraq, IMO, will set back our interests for a long time (as happened post Vietnam), embolden our enemies and may consign that whole region into chaos, death and destruction for a decade. The civil war in Lebanon was bad enough, but they were much smaller and not sitting in the middle of the world’s biggest oil supply. In that sense, BTW, it is about oil, but not our taking it, rather protecting the resource for the world. Oil will also fuel the conflict. It will literally throw oil on the flames making any fight many times more destructive.

If we stay, we run the risk of still having these events happen and being in the middle of them. But we also have the potential to mitigate them. It is worth the risk. We can leave at any time, BTW. It is not like there is a train leaving the station that we will either be on or miss.

Dems are way to eager to embrace defeat. That day might come, but it is not today. It is not when for the first time since the Iraqi elections, it looks like things are moving in the right direction.

Posted by: Jack at August 8, 2007 8:04 AM
Comment #228732


Very simply ………… all I can say is, “I hope you’re right”. My position hasn’t changed and I’m pessimistic as hell, but I truly do hope you’re right.

Maliki’s central government appears to be headed into the crapper and there appears to be some “soft partitioning” underway whether we like it or not. Just maybe some of these perceived “negatives” will turn out to be the catalyst for positive change.

I’d be very happy to say, “boy, was I wrong”, regarding this mess.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 8, 2007 8:39 AM
Comment #228736
Victory in Iraq would mean a stable, reasonably democratic Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors.

I’m guessing that lots of people in the world would like to see the US as a stable, reasonably democratic country that is not a threat to its neighbors!!

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 10:08 AM
Comment #228739

“Victory” is an outmoded term in speaking of war…it is useful only for sporting games in which one team comes out with a larger score. In war, everyone loses, even the “victor”…

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 10:34 AM
Comment #228742


Yes, it would be a problem for the Democrats if it all went well, but that doesn’t mean that we’d seek to sabotage it. The more likely approach would be a jump on the bandwagon, which is what the man is indicating would happen.

And, are the democrats jumping on board?! Will they?!! Why did they position themselves to the point that good news in Iraq would be a problem (“big problem” according to Clyburn) for them?!!! I truly believe the answer is b/c losing in Iraq or routing for the “mission” to go badly falls back on the President; failure makes him look bad, puts the burden on he and his administration. That is politics and that is a terrible position to take when our (all-volunteer) military are in harms way. They chose to enlist and re-enlist to complete their mission and (damn it) they will indeed complete that mission; as I have said on several different occasions, we will win with you, against you or in spite (some) of you. This country will win. That is not “blind” patriotism; that is the American spirit! That is why many of us will not give up or concede failure, b/c we know that we can win and that we will. We are not “Bush loyalists”, “neo-cons”, “Bushbots”, etc. We are Americans that want to succeed and know (indeed) we can and will. Don’t take offense to this position; b/c I am certainly not calling the opposition (in this case) un-American. I’m just saying there is a big difference between dissidence and hatred. I disagreed with my (then at the time) Commander in Chief (Clinton), yet I never (ever, ever, ever!) wanted us to lose in Somalia and in Kosovo. I never routed against our military b/c of Clinton; I still wanted us to succeed b/c we are Americans and that is what we do. Big (big, big) difference!!

These Democrats and many of you (and you know exactly who you are) are not routing for us to win in Iraq. The dems should not have taken this position, it was a bad move on their part b/c we are going to have more and more success in Iraq; and it is a shame they will not be able to cheer that on. Bad choice.

Posted by: rahdigly at August 8, 2007 10:55 AM
Comment #228750

Is there such a thing as historic inevitability? Are ensuing events cast in stone, based upon decisions made today? This gets into a free will v determinism debate, which I will take a pass on for now.

But there are likelihoods, probabilities, and of course that includes elements of uncertainty.

When informed individuals predict outcomes, & recommend actions, & actions are taken based upon those predictions, & the predicted outcome comes to pass- which has been the case with opponents of the invasion & occupation of Iraq- and those predictions come to pass, those individuals have credibility. Their predictions and recommendations deserve attention.

The same cannot be said for individuals whose predictions and recommendations turn out to be wrong. People such as O’Hanlon & Pollack have consistently been wrong. They have no credibility.

If this were merely a game, being wrong would not matter. But it is no game. Being wrong has horrendous consequences.

I am appalled that Cheney continues to present the American public with such a distorted view of Iraq.

Because of people like O’Hanlon, Pollack, Cheney, and Bush, the American people have been misled. 41% of Americans now believe Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11. This percentage has actually increased, even though this is factually wrong.

Bush intentionally misleads the American people by trying to confuse the War on Terror & the Al Qaida of Osama bin Laden with the War in Iraq and Al Qaida in Iraq.

Of course, lying to the American public is not illegal. But it is immoral, and it deserves condemnation. And as long as most Americans lack an accurate picture of what is happening in Iraq, and just how bad it actually is…

Posted by: phx8 at August 8, 2007 12:22 PM
Comment #228754
However, in the next couple of years, actually dealing with Iran is a big problem both because their current rulers do not see any particular common interest with us and because the whole place is unstable.

Do you think Eisenhower’s OK on the CIA dumping Iran’s democratically elected President Mossadegh and installing the hated Shah and his brutal Savak might be in Iranian’s memories? How about the US arming Iraq in its “war” against Iran??

Funny how unstable countries can become once their democratically elected officers are violently deposed by outside forces…ramifications last for decades and centuries…

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 1:09 PM
Comment #228755


Which mission are we trying to complete?

Securing Iraq so they can run their own country and defend their sovereignty.

Getting rid of Saddam Hussein

Yes. Oh, and he is dead by the way; along with is terrorizing, rapist sons!!

Bringing “democracy” to Iraqis (2 million of whom have fled the country, most to Syria, which will be another whole story quite soon!)?

Yes, Democracy is a good thing. And, the 2 million people, this was addressed in another post.

Fighting “them” over there so we don’t fight “them” over here?

Yep. Unless you want the war in your backyard. Now, if the anti-war/Bush crowd keeps up their hatred; that is exactly what could happen.

“Victory” is an outmoded term in speaking of war…it is useful only for sporting games in which one team comes out with a larger score. In war, everyone loses, even the victor…

Ahhh, Chamberlain would have been so proud.

Posted by: rahdigly at August 8, 2007 1:10 PM
Comment #228756

How funny. Like the mugger saying,”Give me your wallet so I can protect it for the rest of the world.” at gunpoint.

Bushco may have given up any plans for a permanent occupation or other colonial control method at this point but I doubt it.There is still talk of baseing US troops there for 40 years etc.To deny that our invasion and occupation was about anything other than control of oil is an Owellian leap of faith. The rest of the world knows better,not just our enemies. There is some speculation that Bush went for it out of a personal grudge but he got permission from the grownups because of oil.

So none of Romney’s five sons is in the military. Do any of the Rep candidates that support the war have any relatives in the conflict or is this one more batch of chicken hawks?

Posted by: Bills at August 8, 2007 1:20 PM
Comment #228757

Rahd…I suppose you want to stay in Iraq so killing over 3,000 of our sons and daughters “makes sense”, too…

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 1:20 PM
Comment #228758

Rahd…I suppose you want to stay in Iraq so killing over 3,000 of our sons and daughters “makes sense”, too…

You stated that at least 3 “missions” have been accomplished…we’ve had so many “missions” stated, it’s hard to tell what the real one (if, indeed, there really is one, other than oil and turmoil and $$$) might be! Kind of funny (in a bad way) that Bush has had to change the “mission” so many times…wonder how many of our soldiers know what their “mission” is???

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 1:23 PM
Comment #228759

By the way, the Kurds cut a separate deal with Turkey for their oil.

“Iraqi Kurds forced renegotiation of the national hydrocarbon law, fearing that it gave the federal government too much control over oil exploration, revenue-sharing and negotiating contracts with foreign companies.”

The Iraqi federal government has stalled oil legislation because the deal would offer western oil companies too much, at the future expense of Iraqis. Most Middle Eastern oil is owned by the state. The Bush administration demands Iraqis turn their resources and businesses over to foreign, multinational corporate control, and has actively worked to bust unions in Basra.

Posted by: phx8 at August 8, 2007 1:42 PM
Comment #228760
So none of Romney’s five sons is in the military. Do any of the Rep candidates that support the war have any relatives in the conflict or is this one more batch of chicken hawks?

Tancredo has two sons that served in Iraq. Any other (smart-aleck) questions?! You know, some of you do not even have a clue when it comes to the military. It is an ALL VOLUNTEER military; no one is drafted and no parent if forced to send their ADULT child to go off to war. It is a CHOICE. It a choice that many of you have not made; yet, you think you are “courageous” by speaking for the soldiers (who have made that choice!!), well you are not. The soldiers are fighting for this country; what are some of you doing speaking for them?!

You ought to spend more time listening to the news about our military (who are over there trying to complete their mission), rather than speaking for them. It has to s*ck for some of you that chose this position. Oh well, choices in life…

Posted by: rahdigly at August 8, 2007 1:53 PM
Comment #228763

Correction. That is Duncan Hunter (not Tancredo) that has two sons; 1 of them is a Marine that served two tours in Iraq.

Posted by: rahdigly at August 8, 2007 2:02 PM
Comment #228766


really, now.

Think - What would it really be like if we WON in Iraq?

Think it out logically, Jack.

Winning is losing in Iraq, Jack.

Posted by: RGF at August 8, 2007 2:08 PM
Comment #228769


Soft partition. We really do not have a dog in that fight. It depends on precisely what that entails. Iraq should be decentralized. How much, I do not know. If it works, I am for it.


There is a big difference between winning and losing in war more than in games. You are correct in the belief that war should be avoided when practical. But once involved, winning is an important goal.

Re U.S. arming Iraq. We supplied around 0.47% of Saddam’s weapons. If he had fought the Iranians with his American arms, his armies would have lasted around ten minutes.

Re Mossadeq - that was in 1953 and much more complicted than a dozen CIA officers dominating millions of Iranians. Iran developed considerably and changed a lot from then until 1979 and it was a generally very stable country. The current instability results from the limits of the current rulers. My point re the current situation is that it might not make very much sense to deal with these guys because they may not (1) have the desire to cooperate with us and (2) may not have the capacity to carry out their agreements.


There is no such thing as historical inevitability. What happens tomorrow is the result of choice we make today. Sometimes we mistake constraints for destiny. But history has too many examples of turn arounds. Historians make the story seem logical in retrospect, but that is an illusion.

People believe Saddam was involved in 9/11 because he was involved in terrorism generally. You are right that it is factually wrong. The President has pointed this out on many occasions. Lots of people believe the U.S. build up Saddam too, which is also factually wrong. We deal with lots of myths, legends and conspiracy theories.

Al Qaeda was in Iraq before the war, but only in small ways, however they are in Iraq now. They came because they figure it is a front line in their struggle against the modern world and the U.S. I hate them, but I agree that they have correctly assessed the situation.

Re Kurds - I have always liked the Kurds and even wrote a whole post saying how they should be protected. Lately I am coming to appreciate the Sunnis too.


Saddam would have sold us all the oil we wanted at a low price. You do not have to have a military in a place to gain use of the oil. Our friends, BTW, do not give us a good deal on these things. Oil prices are determined by world demand and what producers can squeeze.

BTW - our “friend” the Shah always pushed the price of oil as high as he could, while our enemy like Saddam kept it lower. This whole blood for oil thing just does not fit the evidence and has not since the end of WWII.


If we “win” in Iraq, the region will be more stable and prosperous. It will be a win for us, the Iraqi people and free people everywhere, just like our “victory” in the Cold War brought E. Europe out of the purgatory of communism and success in the Balkans stopped the killing there.

On the contrary, our “defeat” in Vietnam set that region back three decades (and still no democracy) and resulted in millions of deaths. Our defeat in Somalia did the same thing there on a smaller scale. Our inaction in Rwanda cost many lives and our inablity to get the UN to do something useful in Darfur has killed 200,000 and counting.

It makes a difference.

Posted by: Jack at August 8, 2007 2:44 PM
Comment #228778
In the middle of 1864 a lot of people would havestill bet on the South.

Jack, you have just as good an understanding of the Civil War as you do Iraq.

The South was doomed from the start. They had no manufacturing capability, no navy, a much smaller population base and no agriculture other than cash crops. They had to import food.

Some things are inevitable, Jack. One of those things is that more troops in Iraq produces more security. Another is that we cannot maintain the current number of troops in Iraq beyond this year.

If the Iraqi government can’t get its act together in the next six months then everything that came before it is good lives and money thrown after bad.

The Iraqi Parliament’s gone fishing and all the Sunnis and Allawi’s secular block have walked out of Maliki’s government, leaving just the Shiites (minus al-Sadr’s bunch).

It’s like that chicken guy’s song, Jack: “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…”

I’d like to play poker with you, Jack. I need the money.

Posted by: American Pundit at August 8, 2007 4:38 PM
Comment #228782

Again a total miss- read. We went to Iraq to CONTROL oil,not obtain it. Look at the big winners,the Sauds and Big Oil.Even many of your rabid brethren that think the war was a good idea because we got to kill a bunch of “sand niggers” realize that oil was the real reason.I must admit you have come a way,at least giving oil some import instead of claimming a grand and noble expansion of democracy,WMDs and the like.In fifty years the history books will place this war as just one more in a string of oil wars occuring in the late 20th,early 21st centuries. I hope we will have learned better by then.
Another total miss-read on Vietnam.What set the region back was our precence there ,not our withdrawel. You should visit some time. They like Americans. They just do not like our government.One still sees rows of bomb craters where highways used to be with dirt roads next them. Small ferry boats where bridges once stood. There are still lots of causualties from unexploded ordinance and mines. There is lasting damage from agent orange not only on those that came in contact but children born many years later. Millions killed?I assume you mean after we killed millions. Yes after Pol Pot came to power in the caos we created in Cambodia by among other things,dropping more bombs on that small country than were used in Europe in WW2. And who put a stop to Pol Pot? The Vietnamese we were targeting.

Posted by: BillS at August 8, 2007 5:20 PM
Comment #228783


If Lincoln had lost the election in 1864, as well might have happened had the military situation not shown signs of improvment, the Democrats would have made a peace with the South. It is actually very similar to today. You are right that there was no way that the south could have won a military victory, but they were looking for a weakening of will and a political one.


You know that I never hear anybody use those sorts of terms except liberals.

Re SE Asia, I mean the millions in Cambodia, the hundreds of thousands in Vietnam, as well as the many refugees. Someone who takes to the open sea with his family in a small boat usually does not think his options back home are very good. It was a general disintegration. The parties came to blows with the communist Vietnamese fighting the communists Cambodians and the communist Chinese fighting the communist Vietnamese.

I am not sure we could have won, but losing set all hell loose. Not to mention that the Vietnamese still do not trust their people enough to hold a free election.

Posted by: Jack at August 8, 2007 5:40 PM
Comment #228784

Smart aleck question? Duncan Hunter,then is the only one that supports the war that is not a chicken hawk then. Of course their relatives cannot at this point be compelled but if it such a good war they could perhaps encourage them to sign up. Point is that it is easier to justify this stupid war when it is only working class kids paying the price,now isn’t it? What hypocrits.

Posted by: BillS at August 8, 2007 5:48 PM
Comment #228785

Actually, Jack, it’s very much like a train, only more complex. Good government, whether occupational or domestic, is about catching the worst problems at the best times, preventing them from developing into bigger problems and crises.

The four years that your people spent telling America to stay the course wasted time, and lost us many opportunities that cannot be replaced. It’s likely lost us the war.

I’ve noticed lately that Iran and al-Qaeda are being foregrounded as the big threats in Iraq. Truth is, they’re nothing of the sort. The vast majority of the violence is domestic and Sunni, and it continues to be a problem. This is part of why the Boycotts and resignations are such a bad sign.

And no, don’t blame me for bringing up a bad sign. Republicans like you think the problem is that the dissent is discouraging people. Truth is, much of the early dissent, and still a great deal of the current dissent focus on relevant problems. However, folks don’t bring these things out, typically, to be discouraging. Often, the underlying message is “Fix this!”

It is, more than anything, the unwillingness and sometimes inability of the Bush adminstration to fix big, obvious problems that has people putting so little faith in it, and in the war.

For all the good news lately, We’re still faced with a whole lot of bad news that doesn’t seem to be going away, that Bush’s policies aren’t resolving.

If we can’t fix what is probably the most critical element of our troubles in Iraq, then any victory we claim will be a sham. What’s worse, the soldiers necessary to keep this surge going can’t stay forever. There is a window of opportunity, a time limit to how long Bush can keep this amount of soldiers in Iraq.

Which brings me to another point: the Bush administration has consistently pushed these logistical systems to their limit, and even beyond.

As it is, the Bush administration has wrought havoc with the readiness of our forces to keep soldiers in Iraq this long. To keep them past April 2008, he’s going to have to extend tours of duty again, and that’s going to make it difficult to keep people in the army, in addition to punting the problem down the road where it will have to be resolved anyways.

People like me haven’t been so emphatic on this issue for our health. We recognize that these are the kinds of problems that only get worse if you don’t face them in the near term. This has been what the Republicans, in their antagonism towards us over our dissent, have missed.

It’s only now that we’ve politically triumphed over your party that you even discussed a real change in policy, and to what end? An policy our forces are being committed to sustain, even though we can’t properly sustain those forces.

What gets me is that even as you folks keep saying we need to stay in their as long as necessary, your policies, of the past and of the present, have failed to lay the groundwork to give you the opportunity to do that. You might see this problem as just one more to gut out, but unfortunately it’s going to gut us out instead, if nothing changes.

Has it occured to you that defeat is more than just a state of mind, an admission that indicates a failure of willpower?

A defeat doesn’t need to be acknowledged to exist. No matter how strong or bold a policy is, if the means and the plans cannot attain the object of that policy, it is a defeated policy. The current plans might have been good policy for the beginning of the war. Hell, they’re what we wanted in the first place. Unfortunately, though, the Surge did not sweep away the consequences of the four years that preceded it, and those are going to limit its success. Already now, we see most other participants in the government, particular the Sunni and Shia blocs we wanted to reconcile with everybody else, boycotting it. That lack of political reconciliation is a critical failure, and if it is not corrected, we cannot win this war.

Besides the aforementioned April 2008 deadline, we also have another issue. Interim reports indicate that Iraqi forces have not been bulked up at the necessary rate, and that our clearance and holding of territory has fallen far short of expectation. This is not surprising given one critical fact: despite the surge and everything, we are still short on manpower, especially for trying to clear and hold at this late date in the war. We’re still stretched thin.

Fortune is having to favor us, to grant us many of the successes, and a great part of that fortune lies in the hands of the Iraqis, who are not cooperating as we need them to do.

It’s probably in the interests of many parties, by themselves, that we stay. Iraqis probably do need our help in keeping the peace. However, like most human beings, they aren’t going to double up on a particular function if they see others are performing it. In other words, Iraqis will not see securing their own country as a serious, do-or-die issue unless they are convinced we will not remain around forever. In a way, the Iraqis are better suited than us to make the peace. Our policy, though, tells them to just continue things as they are, because we’ll be there to put out the fires.

There’s also something to be said for the perils of making America indispensable to Iraq’s security. We cannot stay forever, not unless Bush is willing to raise taxes to cover his war. Even then, our forces are being ground to the nub sustaining this fight. Sooner or later, we have to go, and then what becomes of Iraq?

What’s our endgame?

Democrats like myself want an endgame. We want the war to be over under the best possible circumstances. We believe ending the military part of the campaign sooner rather than later is necessary for that to be successful, that the Iraqis will only face up to the responsibilities of securing their country and keeping peace between themselves if those are their responsibilities and not ours. We can’t keep handing Iraq fish. Iraq has to learn to fish for itself.

I don’t know, not when you put so many punctuation marks at the end of one sentence.

Seriously, Clyburn was just saying it’d be a dilemma for us if and when a glowingly positive report came out. And let me tell you, to throw the Democrats back, it’d have to be one hell of a positive report, with no glaring errors or contradictions.

What I’d say is that the Democrats, though have a fallback position: whatever works. Your fallback position has been continuing to beat the same dead horse, in the hopes that it’s merely resting, or pining for the fjords.

You might want to consider something when you talk about these people re-enlisting: one reason they do so is to stay out of Iraq. See, it works like this: if you get out of the army, you get kicked to the reserves, and the reserves are often getting called up nowadays to fight in Iraq. Reenlist, though, and there’s a strong likelihood you get shipped somewhere else. You have to realize that once a persons in the Army, they’re choices and freedoms are limited, and if they don’t play their cards right, they could spend another year or two in Iraq, having just come back from there.

Things are not always what they seem, and cherrypicking the facts to get the conclusion you want is a good way to be faced with a reality you’re hardly prepared for. The reality is, there are some who hate Bush for what he represents, and there are many more whose negativity towards the man is born of what he’s done on the job.

Question for you: if they hate Bush for what he’s done, just what will their response be to somebody who says that their dislike for them is just partisan rancor, especially if they never answer their real concerns about the issue?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2007 6:02 PM
Comment #228789


Hillery voted for the war, but I don’t see Chelsea enlisting. Stop being so damned one sided.

Even many of your rabid brethren that think the war was a good idea because we got to kill a bunch of “sand niggers” realize that oil was the real reason.

This line is just sick. The war makes me glad I’m not a conservative. Posts like yours make me glad I’m not a liberal.

Posted by: Allen at August 8, 2007 7:43 PM
Comment #228791


It is temping to say, but an invalid argument that only those who actually participate in the conflict have the right to comment on it. If we were to take that to its logical conclusion, only those who actually have gone to Iraq could comment on it or broader, only those who have been in our nation’s conflicts should have a say in questions of war & peace.

The U.S. military today is broadly representative of the U.S. population. The poorest quintile is significantly underrepresented and the upper quinitile is somewhat under represented. But it broadly looks like America.


We disagree about future prospects. The strategy has changed significantly. The leadership has changed significantly. The new strategy under the new leadership shows some promise. What happened in the past is useful experience, but each day we are confronted by the realities of that day and must make choices about the future. We should not “stay a course in order to justify past loses, nor should we abandon an effort to atone for past errors. Our choice every day is whether what we will do will make us better or worse off.

I believe the trend in Iraq is now on our side. It would be foolish not to take advantage of this just because previous trends were not so good.

Posted by: Jack at August 8, 2007 8:28 PM
Comment #228792

The disintegration , turmoil, and dispair that drove people into the boats could have been avoided,not by us contiueing the war but never invadeing. Had we and the French simply honored the treaty to allow a plebicite by the Vietnamese about their own future so many lives and so much treasure would not have been wasted and the region would be much more prosperious now.
I agree the Vietnamese government should hold fair elections but lets not be hypocritical. So should the Saudis,so should Singapore,so should Pakistan,etc. When the Palistinians held an election we did every thing possible to change the results.

Posted by: BillS at August 8, 2007 8:55 PM
Comment #228795

That is not what I said. I hold a great deal of comtempt for those more than willing to sacrifice the lives of other peoples children to pursue unnecessary wars. It is a class thing and always has been in this country. With a few notable exceptions the upper class starts wars and the working class fights them. This time it is also the working class that is going to pay for it also.At least in the Civil War the rich could hire somebody to take their place. A guy could at least make a buck.

Good thing the Iraqis are starting high level talks with Iran. Lets hope Bushco does not ruin that opportunity also.

Posted by: BillS at August 8, 2007 9:26 PM
Comment #228799
Re Mossadeq - that was in 1953 and much more complicted than a dozen CIA officers dominating millions of Iranians. Iran developed considerably and changed a lot from then until 1979 and it was a generally very stable country. The current instability results from the limits of the current rulers. My point re the current situation is that it might not make very much sense to deal with these guys because they may not (1) have the desire to cooperate with us and (2) may not have the capacity to carry out their agreements.

Still not reading much history, hey Rahd??? Not even current history…these people have looooooooong memories! Unfortunately, most Americans do not…nor do they care to learn anything about how others think or feel or act…and the reasoning behind their actions…the US is always right, huh, Rahd???

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #228801

Since when is running a political campaign as good as serving in Iraq?? Supposedly it is if you’re a Romney son!!

Romney thinks his son’s campaign help is “patriotic” as those being killed in Iraq

These Republicans are such hypocrites!!

Posted by: Rachel at August 8, 2007 9:47 PM
Comment #228804


Your link doesn’t work.

Posted by: Rocky at August 8, 2007 10:08 PM
Comment #228807


These people?

I agree that history is a burden to some people. Osama bin Laden still holds the “Andalusia debacle” against us, and that was in 1492, before our country was founded.

Nevertheless, “those people” do not seem to have any particular problem making deals when it is in their interests. Do not overestimate the extent of their hatred. The current history of Iran is that the current government probably has neither the desire nor even the capacity to be helpful in Iraq. It is just a pipe dream to believe otherwise.

There is nothing wrong with talking with the Iranians and we are doing it, but you cannot expect much to come of it and the implication by the Dems that somehow if only Bush talked to the Iranians that everything would be better is just silly.

Posted by: Jack at August 8, 2007 10:25 PM
Comment #228812


“There is nothing wrong with talking with the Iranians and we are doing it, but you cannot expect much to come of it and the implication by the Dems that somehow if only Bush talked to the Iranians that everything would be better is just silly.”

Have you ever thought that this Iranian thing might be a reverse Carter/Reagan thing and they might get serious after Bush has moved on?

Posted by: Rocky at August 8, 2007 11:25 PM
Comment #228814


I do not think they CAN get serious. What can we give them? AND if we find something CAN they carry out their end? Their government is very unstable. It is worth talking with them, but do not expect very much from them. They have little incentive to help and probably have little capability.

BTW - I take your point re capability, hence the subtle change in vocabulary.

Posted by: Jack at August 8, 2007 11:28 PM
Comment #228815

The realities of today are created by the realities of yesterday. If the reality of today is that you can’t keep ready forces at this level past April 2008, then talk of maintaining the surge, much less winning with it is awfully premature. And if the number of soldiers in the Surge and among the Iraqis are not sufficient to take that territory, talk of the Surge being the key to winning the war is premature as well.

It’s also premature to talk about victory when you have this open sore of an unresolved political issue out there with the Sunni and the Shia Extremists dealing themselves out of the Malaki government. This whole thing doesn’t work unless you have Iraqis under a peaceful, or trending towards peaceful unified government.

This whole “anything’s possible if we believe” attitude is taking our eye off a number of balls, and it’s excuse to continue blindly insisting that victory will eventually come of a strategy that so far hasn’t answered the crucial strategic questions with a working solution.

Signs of hope can be seen even in the midst of the most dysfunctional war, but they do not necessarily add up to an overall victory.

If the Republicans were not so busy convincing themselves that everything is alright, perhaps they’d be quicker to respond to the issues that are dragging the war down to defeat. Unfortunately, you guys would rather do what it takes to reinforce your willpower than accept that sometimes there’s good reason to be discouraged about a plan, good reason to accept negative news at face value. Otherwise respectively, you won’t change from bad plans, and you won’t react properly to the failure of them, or to the unexpected problems that the bad news can indicate.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2007 11:39 PM
Comment #228816


Point is that it is easier to justify this stupid war when it is only working class kids paying the price,now isn’t it

And, to think, all one has to do for these “kids” is support their mission. They didn’t check with you before they joined; they made their decision on their own. They don’t need the BDS crowd’s selfish, hateful viewpoints to speak for them. Especially, when they are having success over there. Jeez, a little good news really rips some of you apart; it may be time to reconsider your stance.


What I’d say is that the Democrats, though have a fallback position: whatever works.

Huh…what?!!! “whatever works”?!!! Clyburn said, if General Petraeus comes back with a good report, that could be a “big problem” for us (democrats). They put themselves in a position that good news in Iraq is bad for them and bad news in Iraq is good for them. And, your response is “whatever works”! Uh, ok. It truly is amazing how some of you are clinging to the democratparty when many of them are going to be fleeing like rats from a sinking ship. I hope it was worth it…

Posted by: rahdigly at August 8, 2007 11:43 PM
Comment #228817


It is premature to talk about victory, but it is even more premature to talk about defeat.

Dems like Harry Reid are way to eager to embrace defeat. He declared defeat before the new strategy even started. Makes you wonder about his motivation.

We have a ways to go, but momentum is on our side now.

We probably will not need to maintain the surge until April. We hope to be able to bring some troops home sooner. Bringing American troops home is our goal. We agree with Dems. We just prefer victory to defeat.

We have not proclaimed victory yet. The outcome is still unknowable. I am sorry the Dems have declared defeat already.

Posted by: Jack at August 8, 2007 11:46 PM
Comment #228826

What will we hear in September? That the surge is somehow succeeding is a given, of course; it will just need a little more time. Hmmm.

Mission accomplished.
Only a few dead-enders.
Turning the corner.
Winning (repeat 14 times).
Last throes.
Together forward.
Remarkably well.

No, no, those have already been used. How about:

A momentous change in the attitude of the Iraqi people… Or maybe a sea change. Significant progress? No, something punchier. Oh, I know!

“Vast strategic maneuver- perfect coordination- utter rout- half a million prisoners- complete demoralization- control of the whole of (Iraq)- bring the war within measureable distance of its end- victory- greatest victory in human history- victory, victory, victory!”
George Orwell, “1984”

Posted by: phx8 at August 9, 2007 2:00 AM
Comment #228828


It is very simple. You guys are looking backward; I am looking forward. I admit the possiblility of defeat, but want victory. You guys expect defeat and have long ago rejected the possibility of victory.

Either of us could be wrong. More likely both of us will be right and wrong to some extent. I do not know about that. Neither does anybody else. But I do know that defeat often becomes a self fulfulling prophecy and we should never be eager to declare our country defeated or to defend the defeatist idea with so much enthusiasm.

You guys think this is Bush’s war and that his defeat would be a reputiation of his policy. You are right. But it would also be a defeat for America. In less than 2 years, Bush retires to Crawford, never to enter public life again. If we are defeated, America lives with that a lot longer.

A Bush hater can reveal in self indulgent anger at this point. A good person works harder to try to avoid this outcome.

Posted by: Jack at August 9, 2007 8:08 AM
Comment #228834

Romney sons avoid war…fight campaign for dad instead

Hope this link works this time…it’s definitely worth reading…it shows the real hypocrisy present in Romney’s flip-flop campaign…

Posted by: Rachel at August 9, 2007 9:09 AM
Comment #228837

Still in Baghdad…still waiting to see this victory and progress your talking about in the states.

Posted by: yossarian at August 9, 2007 10:11 AM
Comment #228838

What’s so fricking complicated about “whatever works?”. Clyburn might be freaking out about the prospect, but you know something? Most of us would greet positive developments in Iraq with relief. In fact, that’s what this current PR offensive by the Republicans is about, what it hopes to play upon. However, I’m waiting for substantive reasons to be relieved, not merely local improvements that cannot endure our necessary departure from Iraq.

Whatever works means, that even if I have to admit such developments with a bit of chagrin, I do so. You want to say that I’m going to run around like a chicken with my head cut off if things get better, but the fact of the matter is, that’s really what I’ve wanted all along, believe it or not. If you take a good look at my positions along the course of this war, you’ll noticed that much of our dissent was in the form of pleas for a change in policy working towards a victory. Then, when we lost faith that the war could be won, we still sought out options, including a graduated rather than precipitous withdrawal, that would leave Iraq better off; we would be leaving because our presence denies Iraq the opportunity to settle down, to become self-reliant.

If, somehow, Bullwinkle finally pulls a rabbit out of his hat, I will welcome the long-delayed end of this nightmare. But I’m not holding my breath. Just because the Republicans have decided to take a hardline stance against leaving doesn’t meant that Democratic policy is the complete and exact opposite.

It’s not premature to talk about defeat when fundamental measures of victory have fallen short nearly the entire war, even when set in Administration friendly terms.

It’s not premature to voice doubts when our army is on the verge of being too played out to continue the troop levels Bush insists are necessary to maintain this war into the indefinite future. It’s not premature to say we’ve lost if this surge, which was meant to give breathing room for political reconciliation, has not only fallen short on military grounds, but has also failed to produced the desired reconciliation. Since I don’t see any real plan on the Bush administration ‘s part to bring peace between the factions, and the violence has in fact increased, I don’t see how we win this, and neither do a lot of military folks out there.

Your opinion to me is the triumph of hope over experience, and ambitions over means and delivered results. I prefer victory to defeat myself, but I prefer well managed failures that are cut short in good time to ones protracted to the point where things fall apart and create a crisis, which is what’s happened time and again with this President.

The whole problem is, your people are concentrated on damage control and not damage prevention. You hoped for the best, didn’t prepare for the worst, and as a result, you’ve lead America into a war with a self-defeating policy. You failed to prepare for an outcome that wasn’t ideal, failed to see policy in Iraq in terms that would allow you to positively affect the situation there, instead opting for plans that ran smack dab into realities on the ground. You failed to admit mistakes while you had time to correct them, failed to be transparent with the American people, failed to address their concerns and fix the problems that brought on the practical concerns.

The past is prologue. If there is any side here that’s living in the past, it’s those who see fit to deny it, who aren’t willing to acknowledge the severity of what’s happened since 2003. Your party is the one that keeps on trying to rewrite history to say that Saddam had WMDs, and that the terrorists were there in Iraq all along. Your party is the one that keeps on appealing to voters and Iraqis to start everything anew, rather than acknowledge and deal with what’s happened both domestically and in Iraq since then. Your party is the one which will not acknowledge that events in Iraq have changed the nature of the country in ways that make reconciliation by our further military intervention a dubious prospect at best.

Living in the present is not denying the pasts hold over you, it’s acknowledging the past and acting appropriately to change from where it actually is, rather than from where we wish it was.

I have few illusions about what this war’s failure has done to our standing in the world. Note I say “has done” rather than “will do”. In many ways, Iraq’s already a defeat. The terrorists have been given the opportunity to regroup and regenerate, using our war, ironically enough, to pull it off. If we define Iraq as a central front in the war on terrorism, then the policy has failed, because it’s not weakened al-Qaeda, but brought it back to pre-9/11 levels.

From the looks of things, the pro-al-Qaeda element in Iraq’s Sunni areas isn’t that popular. We don’t necessarily have to stay to close off Iraq as a terrorist hotspot along those lines. If we stop waging this counterproductive war, the bottom will likely drop out, and al-Qaeda will stop getting a free ride from us on training, recruiting, and financing at taxpayer expense.

The anger against Bush is not self-indulgent hysteria. It’s founded very much on the failures of his policies. This is not about defeating Bush politically, this is about ending a self-defeating policy before it defeats our purposes even worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2007 10:27 AM
Comment #228843

The “whatever works” position doesn’t fly in the democratic party; their position (some bloggers too!) has been calling for withdrawl and timetables, not victory or success. So, turn and face the reality here, they are in trouble whenever good news comes out of Iraq: The Dems Get Surprised on Iraq.

Posted by: rahdigly at August 9, 2007 11:11 AM
Comment #228846

stephen, you’re making entirely too much sense. let’s start this conversation over again. i feel certain that, given a “redo,” the bushies will easily discredit your facts with their hopeful, misplaced, unshakable faith in the power of positive thinking, coupled with their convoluted, circuitous… well, let’s call it logic.

long after this whole debacle has devolved into all-out massacre (with or without our assistance), the bushites will still be decrying the unpatriotic defeatists and proclaiming that victory is just around the next corner. such is the nature of blind faith.

Posted by: diogenes at August 9, 2007 11:49 AM
Comment #228847

… i’ve met a few who think that, if not for defeatists such as yourself, we could have been closing in fast on a victory in vietnam right about now. you quitter.

Posted by: diogenes at August 9, 2007 12:06 PM
Comment #228850

The longest serving unit in the Iraq War came home yesterday…they are a National Guard unit (not “regular” Army!) from Minnesota…they’ve been serving in Iraq since 2005…

Where the heck’s the “regular” Army??? Why is the National Guard serving so long on the front lines (they were in Fallujah)…??

Why is campaigning on a bus throughout Iowa considered service equal to these National Guard personnel (several of whom were killed)??

Posted by: Rachel at August 9, 2007 12:24 PM
Comment #228851
If Lincoln had lost the election in 1864, as well might have happened had the military situation not shown signs of improvment…

Oh, c’mon Jack! You acknowledge that a Union military victory was inevitable and then say, But if it wasn’t then Lincoln might not have been reelected and Democrats might possibly have made peace with the South. ???

You are so far off into Fantasy Land there that you probably also believe we won the Vietnam War. Oh that’s right, you do.

My advice: A nice long vacation from spinning bad news and twisting facts. Preferably on a sunny white sand beach somewhere far away from all the think tank articles. A little alone time to do some gut checks on what gets written.

And since a think tank article is the subject of this post, I’ll point out how those things get written: Someone comes in with a conclusion and a really big check. The think tank’s job is to cherry pick and spin facts to fit the conclusion.

Stay away from them — left and right.

Posted by: American Pundit at August 9, 2007 12:26 PM
Comment #228852

Are you looking forward? Optimism is fine, but the situation demands realism. The consequences of choices made today are very real.

What happens if the US withdraws? Many people think a bloodbath will follow. It is possible, we all know it. Some people, like myself, are a little more optimistic about what will happen in Iraq. I suspect we will have the chance to find out.

Pardon me for looking backward, but history shows most civil wars end in decisive military victory. In some cases, a negotiated settlement ends the fighting, but even then, those settlements sometimes break down, and fighting resumes.

The only way out of this result would be partition into a loose, oil-sharing federation of three states, and hope a negotiated settlement holds.

In a way, the surge represents a version of that, of ending a civil war with a decisive military victory, but by US troops, rather than an Iraqi faction. In theory, it will allow the Iraqi government breathing room to pass legislation, which in turn will encourage reconciliation.

And there is almost no chance of that happening. The very presence of US troops undermines the legitimacy of the government which we seek to prop up.

No one wanted Bush to go into Iraq, and lose. Many people thought it was a terrible idea to go into Iraq in the first place. The lessons of The Powell Doctrine, the decision & reasoning to not occupy Iraq after the First Gulf War have been ignored ignored.

So defeat for the US is bad. We all get that. But is it a good idea to saddle another administration with this disaster? The topic of Iraq already sucks the oxygen out of the room…

Posted by: phx8 at August 9, 2007 12:32 PM
Comment #228858
My advice: A nice long vacation from spinning bad news and twisting facts.

There wouldn’t be any “Blue column” bloggers left if you did that. :-)

Posted by: rahdigly at August 9, 2007 1:14 PM
Comment #228859


Al Qaida is no longer popular in places like Anbar. One reason it is publicly unpopular is the presence of U.S. troops. The bad guys in these places murder teachers, mayors, local leaders and anybody who stands up against the chaos and medieval ideas. We should respect to courage it takes to stand up to the bad guys and protect those courageous people so that they can continue to speak and their numbers can continue to grow.


What is wrong with giving Bush a “redo” if it is possible? Surely preventing an American defeat in Iraq is a laudable goal that Democrats share. Most wars are a series of mistakes and “redos”. We should do our best to win. This is not a game where we make sure the players only get the chances they deserve.


I am saying that until the middle of 1864, a Union military victory was not clear. The Democrats were calling for a negotiated peace. They would have redeployed out of Georgia or S. Carolina if they had been in power. Lincoln did not think he would win reelection. He was saved by good news coming out of the South. The Democratic candidate McClellan, who avoided fighting when possible, downplayed those victories and pointed to the immense costs. If the election had been held a couple months earlier, he might have won and put his program into place and you would need a visa to travel from Washington to Richmond. Wars are both military and political. There is no doubt that the U.S. can win a military victory in Iraq. The question is whether the politics will support it.

Re bad news, I am never the one to bring up the bad news. It is the Democrats who embrace defeat and depression.


The trouble in Iraq is not a civil war likes ours. In Iraq you have sectarian strife and mixed populations. A nice clean sectional conflict would be much easier to handle.

We have a chance to win in Iraq. There is no reason not to take the chance offered by the change in strategy and the turn of events.

Posted by: Jack at August 9, 2007 1:33 PM
Comment #228860

Jack et al
Historical speculation is subjective and futile,as you know.It is fun though.

Not much mention of Afganistan here. A big drawback in keeping our troops in Iraq is we could be faced with two defeats. Even the Brits are critical of our use of air strikes in Afganistan. Yes they work but we are killing too many civilians. As the Brits point out,that is no way to win over the hearts and minds of the populace. It is pretty hard to support people that are dropping bombs on you. Why our reliance on air strikes? We do not have sufficient troops on the ground to do the job.

Posted by: BillS at August 9, 2007 1:47 PM
Comment #228868
Not much mention of Afganistan here. A big drawback in keeping our troops in Iraq is we could be faced with two defeats.

Wow, you mean we can actually lose two wars now!!** Maybe (just maybe) Pakistan will go the fundamentalists too and then we will truly be screwed; however, that will show everyone that Bush messed up!!*** Here is to hoping for a Trifecta!****


Posted by: rahdigly at August 9, 2007 2:37 PM
Comment #228873

“What is wrong with giving Bush a “redo” if it is possible? “

it is not possible. for an explanation of why this is so, google “time.” you might throw in “einstein,” for a more in depth analysis.

what we could do is give him additional time, as we already have time and again. his record thus far speaks definitively against his ability to wage war effectively, efficiently, and competently - and thus, giving him more time would simply be a waste of time. it is more than a matter of desert, it is a matter of confidence.

as an employer yourself, i’m sure you can come up with a dozen instances offhand of when an incompetent employee begged you for “just one more chance,” when he had had several already, and yet demonstrated no ability whatsoever to improve… although i doubt any of them had the unmitigated gall to suggest that you think of it as a “new beginning.”

“Surely preventing an American defeat in Iraq is a laudable goal that Democrats share.”

you share far more in common with democrats than i, and thus i would readily defer to your assessment of what laudable goals you share with them.

“Most wars are a series of mistakes and “redos”.”

mistakes, yes. redos? come back to reality jack. it’s a long hike, so you’d better start walkin. reality is not always pleasant, but it’s a step up from an insane asylum.

“We should do our best to win. This is not a game where we make sure the players only get the chances they deserve.”

i have heard no one suggest that this is a game at all, save yourself in this sentence… but what is deserved is exactly our purpose. it should be yours as well. bush seems to think that all the peoples of the world deserve freedom, even if they refuse to work for it. you seem to share in this misguided sort of thinking. well, we’ve done our best (or don’t you agree?) even if bush has been holding back. we handed them freedom, and they handed it back. now what? international welfare, i reckon.

considering the exorbitant costs that we, the people, have endured for bush to miserably execute this absurd war, i think we are deserved of a victory many, many times over. problem is, bush cannot deliver that victory. neither can you. frankly, given the circumstances at this point, i’m not sure anyone could. but especially not bush.

defeat is not the end of the world, jacko. even the best teams lose from time to time… but the best teams are also capable of recognizing defeat, and learning from their failures. your “team” can’t even seem to find it’s way off the playing field.

Posted by: diogenes at August 9, 2007 3:49 PM
Comment #228880

“The longest serving unit in the Iraq War came home yesterday…they are a National Guard unit (not “regular” Army!) from Minnesota…they’ve been serving in Iraq since 2005…”


My community has also just had some troops return after serving continuously since October 2005. They were also National Guard —— Kansas B Battery, 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery to be specific. October 2005 through July 2007!

Would someone please explain just HOW we’re going to maintain our current troop levels in Iraq? And remember, according to Bush, this is going to fit the Korean model of prolonged occupation.

Draft maybe? Or just keep extending deployments? Opinions be damned, I’d like some real logistics.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 9, 2007 4:59 PM
Comment #228883

First, a distinction must be made: just because somebody claims to by part of an ancient heritage, doesn’t mean they actually have real roots in that.

Al-Anbar’s power structure, which both we and al-Qaeda have run afoul of, is actually much more ancient than what the quite modern al-Qaeda movement claims to be. It’s over a thousand years old. The Shiekdoms of that place have been the authority for quite a long time. What we did wrong was trying to junk that medieval power structure when it was what people trusted and wanted. That’s not to say the place couldn’t change, but if we were going to do it, it would have been better to have their cooperation, than to do what we did.

Al-Qaeda, by the way, has run afoul of the very same power structure. They are seen as intruders and usurpers, outsiders trying to horn in on the legitimate authority. Our success in al Anbar, to the extent we have it, comes more from the locals just reasserting their sovereignty.

Which means, rather than standing up to the old fashioned evil, flocking to our waiting arms for our protection, that we really have is an ancient political structure giving the intruders on its territory a run for their money. Meanwhile, the Sunnis still account for most of the chaos and violence. al-Qaeda might no longer be on the way up there, but then again, most of our casualties have come from these people, and they have been the contentious heart of our problem from the get-go: the people for whom a Shia dominated Iraq is unthinkable and unwanted.

And the thing is, this is part of why, however many redo’s the American public gives Bush, we’re not going to get much further in Iraq towards what we need to do to leave military victors. There are all kinds of olive branches that could have been extended to the Sunni community, but which the Bush administration failed to extend, in its zeal to cleanse Iraq of the Baathists. They should recall history: even the allies could not cleanse Germany fully of former Nazis, since that party, like the Baathists, was required membership for many who ran the bureaucracy. In the end, it would have been better to just remove the zealots and leave the Sunnis with their stake in the game.

My sense of bad news, really, has often been that you listen to the bad news so you can do something about it. It only gets depressing when it seems you can’t do anything about it. What’s depressed many about the War in Iraq is how stubbornly and inflexibly Bush has handled it, and how unwilling he is to heed the will of the majority of the citizens who are his constituents.

By going into denial about the bad news, you let it fester, and you frustrated those who were concerned about it to the point where they no longer felt they could support it.

As for being saved by good news? Well, the problem is, it’s think-tank articles rather than reconciliations and met goals that you’re calling good news. The trouble with that is that people can convince themselves of anything. Only real progress forms a substantive basis for political redemption through good news. Everything else is just cheerleading. I don’t embrace defeat or victory, I embrace awareness of the facts, and planning in response to them.

I wrote an article essentially saying we should leave Iraq in order to redirect resources towards salvaging Afghanistan. You know, that place where we actually found terrorists, actually found a rogue government harboring terrorists, harboring the folks who committed the atrocities on 9/11? If we had kept our eye on the ball there, Terrorism and al-Qaeda might not be the major concerns they are now.

Unfortunately, Bush had to be impatient, had to declare victory not once but twice before he really had it. It would have been better for your party to have been less eager to claim victory, and more thorough about ensuring it. Everybody has their ups and downs, but those who don’t allow themselves to plan for contingencies, ultimately end up have some serious downs.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2007 5:49 PM
Comment #228884

Talk about damned if you do/don’t-rockandahardspot question, KD.
Opinions, logistics….either or neither….pick a number..any number…and subtract from it. Keep repeating that until you are left with nothing. If the number isn’t repleted from time to time, you still have nothing.
I don’t think we have much of a choice, or a chance, unless the draft is reinstated, but at what cost? We’ve tossed this around more than once, and it is still political suicide. So, unless Mitt’s campaign workers, aka sons, are willing to enlist and take friends with them, we gotta give these battle weary troops some relief and fresh, strong replacements.
Maybe the issue should be put to ALL the candidates in one of these “debate” forums.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 9, 2007 5:58 PM
Comment #228886

So in Bush’s news conference today, he says, essentialy, that he doesn’t care what Patraeus says…or anybody else, next month or any time, that he has no intention of moving out of Iraq until, and unless, they have acheived a working democracy.
And, what that tells me is that once again, he has stalled….lied….evaded and avoided being honest with all of us. Make up bullshit statements so that he gets what he wants from Congress, then neener neener…..f**k you all!!!! (Big surprise, right?? NOTTTT)
Are we really going to sit back on our dead asses and just wait for elections to get rid of this moron?????

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 9, 2007 7:28 PM
Comment #228887

Now you sound like the Republicans in 1998; all they wanted was Clinton out of office. It looks like both sides are definitely not immune from partisan politics. Politics sucks! Now, suck it up for the next year and a half and urge your congressmen (and fellow bloggers) to quit the whining and get behind their country, we have work to do!!

Posted by: rahdigly at August 9, 2007 7:42 PM
Comment #228889

“The members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division had been deployed for 22 months — including 16 months in Iraq.

The Red Bulls were supposed to be gone 18 months, but their deployments were extended. The Red Bulls served longer in combat than any other Minnesota unit since World War II and were the longest-serving U.S. military unit of the Iraq War. “

So is Bush going to call these guys and gals back when no one else is available???

Posted by: Rachel at August 9, 2007 8:25 PM
Comment #228890

Wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve already been told not to get too comfy Stateside……….

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 9, 2007 8:35 PM
Comment #228892

Rah…our work starts right here by trying to get something…anything accomplished that will get us the hell out of Iraq, and quit the endless slaughter of our military over there. It is blatantly obvious, and more so as time goes by, that this idiot doesn’t give a s**t about anythig but his own demented legacy.
And it’s interesting to see, when you don’t have a legitimate argument, it’s just back to the “quit whining” response. How many of you red-siders on here have demanded and yelled and preached that we needed to give the “surge” a chance, and to wait for Petreus’ report in Sept. before putting together legislation to “bring ‘em home” ? Are you going to support W’s latest pack of lies? You got screwd right along with the rest of us……..

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 9, 2007 8:47 PM
Comment #228894

I know it is fun for you all to hate the President. I know you want to blame him for Iraq and you have a point. But the question is not was or even what is, but rather what choices we will make about the future.

It looks like the momentum has changed in our favor. Some of this is due to a new strategy and some is the result of luck. It doesn’t really matter. This is what we are and where we need to go from.

The ONLY thing that matters now is whether our choices NOW make us better off or worse off.

No Democrat will pull out of Iraq now or by the end of the year or even by the end of next year. Their posturing is just BS. It would take around two years to withdraw our troops in reasonably good order that would protect their lives and not allow their equipment to fall into the wrong hands. Talking about rapid pull out is harmful if it gets in the way of decent choices.

We all want to draw down when we can. Let’s stop the silly talk about doing it before it is time.

Posted by: Jack at August 9, 2007 9:10 PM
Comment #228895

Believe it Jack….there is NOTHING fun in regards to the imbecile in charge. And what in the world makes you think talking about ending this fiasco is silly??? And polls still indicate that more feel it is way PAST TIME to get out. What is funny though, is that you could possibly perceive that there is a chance of $$$ or weapons falling into the wrong hands over there……………………………………………………………………….
and KD….in response once more to your draft scenario….check this out. Now these kids are being tempted with the $ for their widow/widower to buy a home with this incentive carrot.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 9, 2007 9:29 PM
Comment #228897


In this case, it does not matter what a majority of people think at any particular time. Withdrawing 160,000 troops, various civilians contractors, and our military equipment all while protecting our own people, our friends and allies takes a certain amount of time. Even if it starts today. No matter how much and how fast Murtha, Reid or Pelosi want to scamper off, things take time.

Posted by: Jack at August 9, 2007 9:49 PM
Comment #228898
… i’ve met a few who think that, if not for defeatists such as yourself, we could have been closing in fast on a victory in vietnam right about now. you quitter. Posted by: diogenes at August 9, 2007 12:06 PM

Diogenes: I won’t ask you to clean my monitor, this is the best laugh I have had in a long time!!

Posted by: womanmarine at August 9, 2007 10:02 PM
Comment #228899

thanks. i’ll be here all week.

“The strategic momentum is now on our side.”

“We have a ways to go, but momentum is on our side now.”

“It looks like the momentum has changed in our favor.”

yet another conversational reboot.
who keeps hittin alt-ctrl-del on jack?

stephen, perhaps you could just copy-and-paste your prior posts in response to save some time.

Posted by: diogenes at August 9, 2007 10:21 PM
Comment #228900
our work starts right here by trying to get something…anything accomplished that will get us the hell out of Iraq, and quit the endless slaughter of our military over there. It is blatantly obvious, and more so as time goes by, that this idiot doesn’t give a s**t about anythig but his own demented legacy.

It has already started; it is called “COMPLETING THE MISSION” and “DEFEATING THE ENEMY”!!! And, it is the Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) crowd that does not give a sh*t about anything but their own viewpoint: Good news for America (completing the mission and defeating the enemy in Iraq) is bad news for them; Bad news for America (withdrawl or defeat in Iraq) is good news for them. It is a lose, lose situation for America with the BDS crowd!

How many of you red-siders on here have demanded and yelled and preached that we needed to give the “surge” a chance, and to wait for Petreus’ report in Sept. before putting together legislation to “bring ‘em home” ?

It is a good thing that the “red-siders” demanded/yelled/& preached to give The SURGE a chance! Yet, the BDS crowd still has another month to hope surge does not work and more and more of our troops get killed.** That is a sick position, people!

Posted by: rahdigly at August 9, 2007 10:34 PM
Comment #228901


If only wishing it made it so…

I wish Iraq would become a peaceful, stable, and prosperous democracy tomorrow, or in ten years but it won’t make it so.

I continue to wish as I did in 2003 for success and limited loss of life for our American soldiers but it doesn’t make it so.

Your hateful and despicable rants accusing Democrats of wanting defeat in Iraq because we hate Bush is offensive to the core. I’ve never wanted that and I’ve seen very little evidence of that in my fellow Democrats. Bush will take care of himself, he certainly can’t take care of Iraq.

Why don’t you take off those rose-colored glasses with their own virtual reality supercomputer off for a little while and look around at what would truly benefit the United States of America and Iraq. If you continue to think it is simply a lack of will then I don’t know what to say…

Posted by: chris2x at August 9, 2007 10:53 PM
Comment #228903


I repeat it because it is true. You guys keep on talking about the past. I have to keep on looking to the future.


You believe a quick retreat from Iraq would be good for the Iraqis and Americans?

Posted by: Jack at August 9, 2007 11:19 PM
Comment #228905

You keep on saying that: the momentums going in your favor. You haven’t made a positive case, though, for improvements in the critical elements. Why? One should follow from the other.

The Polls indicate that the movement is mostly within your own party. I think you folks were looking for a reason not to despair of the war, but weren’t finding it. Outside of your party, among those not invested in keeping faith with the wisdom of the GOP in most things, though, nobody’s buying it.

If the rest of the country isn’t seeing it, perhaps what you’re seeing is simply confirmation bias, intentionally fed by those who are in s***-shape if they don’t get you to stick with them.

This war’s been given eighth and tenth chances. How many good faith tries does it take to get this crap right?

I find it rather selfish that the right insists on everything being a personal problem with Bush. It’s just one more layer of denial on top of all the others concerning the quality of this leader. It’s this hard-headed refusal to entertain doubts or differing opinions about the war and foreign policy that set the stage for the current failures. If you weren’t so busy trying to prove yourselves right you’d perhaps get on the ball about things at the start, rather than wait for things to move beyond the point of easy repair and resolution.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2007 11:40 PM
Comment #228906


I’m not in favor of a quick retreat, withdrawal, strategic redeployment or whatever you want to call it. Are you in favor of a drawn-out retreat?

If I saw real progress in Iraq I might be persuaded to support our presence there for many years. As messy as it is I agree with Powell’s Pottery Barn Rule. But none of the supporters of this war can point to any real progress. Of course our military can clear an area but can the Iraqi’s keep it? I know giving Iraq a chance would take time and I never expected a quick fix but Iraq is making no progress whatsoever. Besides, giving Iraq time to come around is perpetual and will perpetually cost us American service men and women and hundreds of billions of dollars.

If Petraeus, who this administration’s PR machine has incessantly made out to be THE authority on Iraq, can tell us the Iraqi forces will take over all combat operations in two years and Iraq’s stability will improve because of our presence until then I could support continued operations in Iraq. If the situation is as more accurately described by PHX8 then we should start withdrawing, focus on containing the civil war to Iraq alone, and put our resources towards attacking Al Qaeda and strengthening our response to terrorism at home because Iraq or not, we will get attacked again.

So, Jack, how long would you stay in a quagmire trying to put a heavier lid on a civil war?

Posted by: chris2x at August 9, 2007 11:54 PM
Comment #228907

Rah, Jack….Bush has an itchy trigger finger without the brains to keep it under control, and right now, he has it pointing toward Iran. Why is it that you can’t see that he has plans and itches, and really bad want-tos aimed there next. Ahmadinejad isn’t wrapped real tight, either, so how long do you think he is going to tolerate Bush’s rants and threats against him before he’ll get pissed off enough to start really flexing muscles, too?
Maybe that’s what this whole thing has been about..just sitting back and stirring the pot to the point where he (has no choice) can push the button to make that pretty mushroom cloud. Now, THAT…would be a legacy.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 10, 2007 12:13 AM
Comment #228908

Ah, Bush hatred. Start one little war based on lies, lose it because of incompetency & corruption, and the next thing you know, people hate you. Sheesh!

How often do we hear this talking point? That people dislike Bush because they are irrationally partisan, as if issues had nothing to do with it. It is what you might call the ad hominin defense; dismissing complaints as emotional reactions & attacks upon the man, rather than valid objections to disastrous policies.

Meanwhile, the credit markets are “re-evaluating risk.” This ought to be fun.

And as the issue of Iraq sucks the oxygen out of the political room, more important issues like Global Warming take a back seat. Here is an amazing animation of arctic sea ice minima.

It is like watching an Oliver Stone movie about the JFK assassination on the Zapruder film. Poor Earth. Back and to the left. Back and to the left…

Meanwhile, a climate model has successfully backed in predictions to 1982. For the future, it predicts a few more years with normal, natural oscillations, followed by a huge upward spike, and consecutive years of record setting temps.

Posted by: phx8 at August 10, 2007 12:17 AM
Comment #228909

i shan’t deny my mind. i don’t like bush. but more… i detest him as surely as i’ve ever detested anyone. i don’t hate the man himself, per se, but i do hate virtually all that he stands for outside the office he holds, representing our great nation.

i would venture to say that he’s the worst thing that’s happened to us since the last would-be king george (the III, you know the one of whom i speak) had a go at us. in his defense, i think he is a blundering idiotic marionette whose strings are being pulled unbeknownst to him, from every which angle - but ignorance of the law is never a valid excuse in the eyes of the law.

nevertheless, should he pull out a victory, i will personally hasten to recant all that i’ve thus far spoken about this, his greatest of atrocities, the war *on* iraq. now the question is, should the future bear out my predictions, and the effort prove an utter, dismal failure… will you, oh apologist apostle of the administration, swear a diametrical oath?

which is greater - your loyalty to your kinsmen… or your king?

Posted by: diogenes at August 10, 2007 12:25 AM
Comment #228910

…and i issue that same challenge to all neorep bushies.

ask yourselves.

with whom do your loyalties lie?

Posted by: diogenes at August 10, 2007 12:41 AM
Comment #228911


What the polls indicate is a lagging indicator. Positive things are happening on the ground in Iraq. The American people are not yet aware of them and Dems are trying hard to keep it that way.


Petraeus is a career military man who literally wrote the book on counter insurgency.

We had a significant change in strategy since January. We had a change of leadership at the DoD with Gates. We had a change in the diplomatic team in Iraq. We had a change in the military leadership of the war. And we had a turn in the momentum.

You guys wanted a change in course and you got one. I guess you did not mean change of course if that did not mean defeat.

Re withdrawal – this is a red herring. We CANNOT withdraw by spring. A quick retreat, even if we decided it was necessary, would cost many more lives as the force protection would suffer.

Maybe we all should be realistic. If things do not show signs of improvement by next month, we should START to withdraw. If things look better, we should plan to stay a bit longer and finish the job. In either case, we want fewer U.S. troops deployed in Iraq next year than this. But it is not possible that all, or even most of them will be home by next summer.


I have written on many occasions that I would oppose a war with Iran AND I do not believe one is on the way. This is mostly a liberal fantasy. If the President invades Iran, I will be in the opposition. I am not worried about it happening, however. I think a much more likely scenario is a collapse of Iran.


I do not care if you guys hate Bush. But do not get Bush hatred mixed in with things that harm our country.

Re global warming - anybody serious about the problem backs a carbon tax. I do. Everything else is just hot air.

Re global warming 2 - anybody who believes in global warming opposes new building at or below sea level, which means we do not rebuild any more of New Orleans.

Re Global warming 3 - there is enough greenhouse gas in the air already that the earth will warm no matter what we do. We have to move to adaption phase. The only ones who seem to understand this are the Russians, who are busy claiming arctic real estate.

Posted by: Jack at August 10, 2007 12:51 AM
Comment #228912


It sounds like Petraeus is the right man for the job and that is cause for hope. I hope he is not as dumb as Powell was and let Iraq get hung around his neck. Still, the way this administration sold this war and the way they are selling Petraeus sure makes me uncomfortable. At any rate, sounds like he is saying the right things.

I’m all for being realistic. I’m not sure you answered my question. Are you saying if Iraq isn’t progressing in the next month, or two, or six we should withdraw? If things are clearly worse in September will you chalk it up to a deadline inspired insurgency or should we start withdrawing?

You see how the fuzzy goals mean we can just go on forever moving the goal posts while Americans continue to die there to the tune of billions of dollars don’t you? That is why I’d like to know exactly what the supporters of this war are supporting. Is that so much to ask?

Posted by: chris2x at August 10, 2007 1:14 AM
Comment #228914

“Are you saying if Iraq isn’t progressing in the next month…[we should] start withdrawing?”

don’t expect an answer (at least not a straight one)… you’ll be less disappointed that way.

“Is that so much to ask?”

in a word, yes.

be it so noted; jack, for one, has refused to even acknowledge my challenge… so you know the likes of to whom it is you speak. bush incarnate.

(in my book, pretermission is tantamount to concession. what do you think? can i interest you in some kool-aid?)

one has to wonder… if we exported bush to iraq, then wouldn’t all the members of cult bush finally be compelled to enlist and follow suit, in order to better defend and revere him abroad?… or did i just blow… your… mind…

Posted by: diogenes at August 10, 2007 1:34 AM
Comment #228915


A lot of people on the left are reasonably upset with this administration and sick of this war. I would like a change in strategy to succeed myself. The question is, am I a fool for thinking the administration who sold this war, screwed up the occupation, dragged its feet on changing strategy, really has changed and is doing what is necessary? Just because Rumsfeld is gone doesn’t mean Bush is seeing clearly now.

So don’t tell me the only change in strategy I’d accept is defeat. That’s horse shit. You war supporters just can’t be held accountable.

Posted by: chris2x at August 10, 2007 1:37 AM
Comment #228917


You are too funny. The question I have is “who is the kool-aid drinker’s next American idol?” If the change in strategy doesn’t have the intended effect will they all flock to McCain or will they tear their hair out while the other candidates start talking about an honorable end to the war in Iraq?

Of course (are you listening Rah?), I hope I’m wrong and I get to hear Mitt Romney give his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention announcing his running-mate, General Petraeus, the hero of Bagdhad. I really do.

Posted by: chris2x at August 10, 2007 2:05 AM
Comment #228921

Jack said: “I know you want to blame him for Iraq and you have a point.”

How gracious of you Jack. Do you really believe these folks would NOT have preferred that Iraq either never happened or was handled in a way as to have brought about reconciliation 2 or more years ago? Are you implying they are happy with the way events in Iraq unfolded just to satisfy their desire to fix blame for something upon our President?

Preposterous! And yes, the blame is justified and would be justified regardless of which party this president came from. Iraq has been an American nightmare, just as Viet Nam was. The people turned and fixed blame on Johnson and Nixon both at that time. It was not partisan. It was just a nightmare created by our Presidents’ botched job as Commander in Chief and President of the U.S.

If the exact same history of our invasion of Iraq had unfolded under Clinton’s presidency, you and your Republican friends would have been blaming him as well. Lacking anything so monumental, you all sought impeachment for lying about a private sexual relationship. Leaves no doubt Bush’s Iraq performance assigned to Clinton would have had you all pulling out the stops to blame him for Iraq. And justified you would have been.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 10, 2007 5:16 AM
Comment #228922

Even more preposterous:

Calling Iran a “very troubling nation” that must be isolated, Bush warned during a White House news conference: “When we catch you playing a nonconstructive role (in Iraq), there will be a price to pay.”

Sabre rattling at its worst, by the president who did more to destabilize Iraq than any other single person in the entire world! Does he need two failed “wars” [AKA “invasions of sovereign nations that have not attacked the US”]…isn’t one enough? Our country’s economy is in near shambles…and yet the man (?) insists on his own misguided “plans”, no matter what the actual situation…Cheney has a hand in this, too…more than a hand…and Rumsfeld may be “gone” but you know he’s active behind the scenes…not to mention Kissinger who’s a “regular visitor” and whose advice is “treasured”…

Good grief, Americans…wake up and take your country back before it’s gone!

Posted by: Rachel at August 10, 2007 7:58 AM
Comment #228924

Ever seen a more childish “blame the other guy, not me” president??? Guess he forgot Colin Powell’s dictum “you break it, you buy it”…just like a little kid, Bush is trying to blame his difficulties (!) in Iraq on someone else…

The Bush administration has launched what appears to be a coordinated campaign to pin more of Iraq’s security troubles on Iran.

And yet you think this shows “victory”???? Guess again…it’s admitting defeat on the part of the president…

Posted by: Rachel at August 10, 2007 8:04 AM
Comment #228925

Chris2x & Diogenes

Progress does not mean that things are getting uniformly better. On June 10, 1944 a lot more men were being killed than on June 1. As always, outcomes were uncertain, but progress was being made.

Goals are fuzzy because the situation is fuzzy AND because we are dealing with an enemy that is intelligent, adaptive and reactive to our actions. War is a complex human endeavor. It is not an engineering project; it is not science. Prominent among the strategies of our opponents is to weaken our political will to fight them. This is always important in any war, but more in this kind. There is no way we could lose this militarily. But at some point we may decide the outcome is not worth the cost. The enemy wants us to do that before it is justified. We do not want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory because it looks bad.

So I am not sure I can answer your question because you are asking about something that is unknowable. Any answer will be subjective and based on the conditions of the time. In September we need to attempt something nobody can do: predict the future. We need to guess which of our actions will make us better off a year or two from today. All the options will entail short term costs. None of the options are perfect and some of the “best” outcomes we can achieve are not even good. It is a judgment call. But we should not preclude our options or allow politics, wishful thinking or defeatist impulses to blind us to our options.

One thing that does not matter is whether or not our actions will hand Bush a victory he does not “deserve”. The best outcome for us is a stable and reasonably democratic Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors. Republicans, Democrats and all Americans should work toward that goal and abandon it only when it is clearly no longer attainable. I do not know if it is possible, but I want to keep the option open as long as possible. Somebody like Harry Reid is too stupid or too partisan to recognize his human failings when he calls for defeat before we have tried the most promising options. That kind of thing annoys me. I wish he would just stop.


I have always found that I can get a lot more done if I am not too preoccupied with fixing blame or credit. When faced with a problem, I like to think about what we can do to solve it, not who to blame for causing it. There is time enough for recriminations when the crisis is over. Sometimes blame is important because you need to change personnel. I understand where Dems are coming from on this, but they do not have the option they want. The person on the top will remain unchanged until 2009. We all know that is the thing that will not change. BUT most of the people on down, from the DoD to the general in charge, to the diplomats in Iraq ARE different and the strategy they are employing IS different and it looks like that strategy is showing good results. There is not indication that the President is interfering significantly in how the military is handling the war. He is already blamed. He will not get much credit if it turns around. But all of us will be better off if it does.

Re Clinton - I have written many pages of comments re Clinton. Have you ever seen anything I wrote about him that you consider blatently unfair?

Posted by: Jack at August 10, 2007 8:08 AM
Comment #228928
Progress does not mean that things are getting uniformly better.

If things are marginally better in one area while deteriorating in another area, that’s not progress, either…and that’s exactly what’s happening in Iraq…as soon as one area is “secure” and the US soldiers leave it in Iraqi hands, the situation deteriorates…it really is “whack a mole” played out in large scale on the American citizens’ dimes.

Posted by: Rachel at August 10, 2007 9:25 AM
Comment #228931

“If the change in strategy doesn’t have the intended effect …”

i would say, expect the remaining support for this war to dry up when bush leaves office. mccain is a fool - he’s going nowhere. it’s too bad cuz i liked him, but when is loyalty shifted from the people to the president, mine shifted away from him.

the “change in strategy,” as you call it, is already having the intended effect… it is buying them time. not sure how, exactly… who really believed that given this latest “last chance,” bush would finally acknowledge his failure when september rolled around.

ironically, it is for once just as jack says. our continued presence will always be justifiable to the same extent that it is now (it couldn’t be any less justifiable). sure, bush would like to have a victory - but is he so naive as to believe it is possible?

i don’t think anyone really believes that anymore. i’d wager that the great majority of that small number who still support him fully recognize his ulterior goal… sloughing off responsibility for this catastrophe on anyone and everyone it’ll stick to. the iranians, the iraqis, the democrats, disloyal republicans, the next president, the constitution… he’s taking aim at everyone in the hopes that you will believe at least one of them is at fault for his failu…er… lack of success.

“Goals are fuzzy because the situation is fuzzy AND because we are dealing with an enemy that is intelligent, adaptive and reactive to our actions.”

goals are fuzzy because the president refuses to define them (or is incapable), the situation is confusing because the president obfuscates, complicates, and often just outright lies about it. you and your ilk, in turn, disseminate and propagate those lies.

as for our intelligent, adaptive and reactive enemy - what exactly did you expect? if they were not all of these things and more, it wouldn’t be a war, it’d be a slaughter.

this enemy is no different from the many others we have faced in the past, and you should know it. i’m rather surprised that you don’t… and have to wonder why given this sad fact, anyone would even consider your evaluation of the situation in their own.

“There is no way we could lose this militarily.”

right. you’re the authority on this matter, captain jack.

“But at some point we may decide the outcome is not worth the cost.”

i believe the last election demonstrated that the rest of the country has been there for some time now… but that’s in the past, which you routinely dismiss as insignificant. you must be very surprised and confused every morning when you wake, having absolutely no recollection of the prior evening or how you got there… or does that kind of thinking require an unacceptable degree of self-reflection?

“The enemy wants us to do that before it is justified. We do not want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory because it looks bad.”

ha! hahahahaha “snatch defeat,” “jaws of victory.” honestly, you should take that act on the road.

Posted by: diogenes at August 10, 2007 10:00 AM
Comment #228933

Jack said: “I like to think about what we can do to solve it, not who to blame for causing it.”

But, we have here a situation where the solution is rejected by the person in control. By refusing to fix blame on Bush/Cheney, Republican supporters deny the source of the problem. And no solution is possible without knowing the source of the problem.

Your quote is an obvious example of how cognitive dissonance finds relief in rationalization. Can’t get comfortable with a poor choice in the last election? No problem, argue that blaming the results of that vote is unproductive, and defend no solution as the only solution.

The surge was necessary ONLY if it could create an environment in which the Iraqi government itself could take control. The Iraqi government does not wish to take control as we define it. Hence, the surge serves no purpose. But, rationalize away that the tactic/strategy was the goal all along if it reduces stress. But, most Americans know and accept the fact that this war is all about negative stresses that won’t go away until our role in furthering the war goes away.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 10, 2007 11:02 AM
Comment #228939

Yeah, you keep on saying positive things are happening on the ground. You’ve always been saying that American’s have been kept ignorant of positive developments and that we and the MSM, working on our behalf, are at fault for that.

I see the conclusion, I don’t see the premises that merit it’s support.

You have two Reagan appointees also questioning the policies there. Apparently, you’re not being told much by your fellow Republicans about what’s going on in Iraq.

The truth is, the Shia of Iraq are not the folks we have to worry about, in terms of their needing protection. In fact, our main concern should be protecting the Sunni and ourselves from them! In any Civil War, the Shia will likely win out of sheer numbers.

What kind of job are we seeking to finish here? Empowering the Shia to beat up on everybody else, in country and in the region?

The reason to leave should not be simply whether things start getting better or worse. Ups and downs can be found in any war, even in a losing one. The real question is whether what progress we made contributes to a situation in which Iraq is unified, the factions pacified and living under one functional government that can defend itself. If that is not happening, and if we have no real plans as to how to change the current situation so that it would happen, then it’s staying the course (that’s what it would be, would it not? The course of the new and improved surge, yes?) which we could call the red herring.

Withdrawal is what makes sense. You could argue it comes at a price, but if staying the course doesn’t help things, are we really avoiding it, or making that price higher?

Here’s what will happen, you see, if we stay: If we stay, we end up running into the end of our supply of soldiers. We either end up draining them away from someplace else, or we drain them from Iraq. Draining them from Iraq might provoke things to go out of control. Draining them from elsewhere could hinder our other commitments, and embolden enemies elsewhere. It really is a no- win situation, and one that the Democrats really can’t be blamed for in terms of some opposition of the Bush policy. Bush, as I’m sure you note with some glee, doesn’t let us get in the way of his decisions.

At the end of the day, one of three things happen:

1) we somehow manage to keep soldiers in Iraq and fulfill our commitments abroad, or do more with fewer soldiers in Iraq, but the failure of the surge to keep things together precipitates a massive revolt against the central government.

2) The surge successfully tamps down some violence, but as the April 2008 date looms, the army is forced to bring back forces from the front, and strength bleeds from our forces there. Everybody who had disappeared swarms out of the woodwork.

3) The surge successfully tamps down some violence, but in order to keep the numbers up to retain the success, we have to withdraw soldiers from elsewhere to meet those commitments in Iraq. A leader elsewhere pulls a
Saddam Hussein and goes on a land grab or sea grab. We’re left with two options: withdraw from Iraq to take care of it, or prove how impotent Iraq has made us by letting it go.

Or we can withdraw of our own accord, doing so as strategy, and not a reaction to events beyond our control. In that fashion, we could at least make arrangements to minimize the inevitable negative impact, rather than being powerless in one way or another to prevent the situation from getting away from us.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2007 12:39 PM
Comment #228945

Jack said,

Goals are fuzzy because the situation is fuzzy AND because we are dealing with an enemy that is intelligent, adaptive and reactive to our actions. War is a complex human endeavor.

Remember when Clinton was president and the Republican Congress was continuously attacking him on Yugoslavia and Somalia? They were all saying how important it was to have a well-defined mission and an “exit-strategy” or we shouldn’t go in at all. Remember how criminal they made it sound to put our servicemen in harm’s way without that? How is it any different now?

And remember who has fought this war on the cheap. I say this not to blame but to point out we likely already lost this war. Unless the services sign up an incredibly unlikely number of people or we reinstitute the draft next spring the troops will have to be reduced. What then? Why did it take the last election to change strategy? Was it because this administration didn’t realize “war is a complex human endeavor?”

Jack, you have to admit, this surge is greater parts vanity than victory. If we cannot sustain it for more than a total of 15 months do you really think it will work? We should be realistic, not maybe.

It seems to me a reasonable position for a reasonable war supporter would be the Iraqi’s have until Spring to be able to secure Bagdhad on their own. They have until then to put aside their considerable differences when so much is at stake. If they don’t, they have failed their country and we wash our hands of it. This point should be made loud and clear because if the Iraqis don’t pull together we can’t do it for them. We should pull back and focus on keeping the strife within Iraq. We cannot do any more than that.

That is not snatching defeat, that is protecting American lives by doing what is possible, not wishing otherwise.

Posted by: chris2x at August 10, 2007 1:17 PM
Comment #228949


This wars been given eighth and tenth chances. How many good faith tries does it take
to get this crap right?

Until it is complete! Take a look at the article, linked at the bottom of this comment, that quotes a military historian that can answer your question.

“In a wider sense, the war is as most wars: an evolution from blunders to wisdom,” says military historian Victor Davis Hanson. As in the Civil War, World War I and World War II, “the key is the support of a weary public for an ever improving military that must nevertheless endure a final storm before breaking the enemy.”

I find it rather selfish that the right insists on everything being a personal problem with Bush.

YES! FINALLY!! It is a “Selfish” viewpoint that the BDS crowd has been doing for years now. The BDS crowd’s hatred is so extreme they have pigeonholed themselves to the point where: Good news for America (completing the mission and defeating the enemy in Iraq) is bad news for them; Bad news for America (withdrawl or defeat in Iraq) is good news for them.


I would like a change in strategy to succeed myself…If I saw real progress in Iraq I might be persuaded to support our presence there for many years.

See Stephen’s comments about being “selfish”! Here is your (real) progress with The Surge! Let’s all hope (and pray) this is acceptable to YOU!**

After an eight-day tour of the war zone, they wrote a New York Times op-ed that had to give an extra-strength Maalox heartburn to Sen. Harry “this war is lost” Reid…they saw “a potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory,’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqi’s could live with.” They said morale is high under Gen. David Petraeus; civilian fatalities are down by a third since the “surge’ of 30,000 additional troops began in mid-June; former allies of al-Qaida have turned against the terrorists; Iraqi military and police units are reliable and effective.

“For all the soldiers and their families who believe in the mission, the hasty exodus of Iraq-war political deserters has been as chilling as winter at Valley Forge. But they said George Washington was crazy too.”

Posted by: rahdigly at August 10, 2007 2:01 PM
Comment #228950

A third person accompanied O’Hanlon & Pollack on their trip, Center for Strategic and International Studies military analyst Anthony Cordesman.

“I did not see any dramatic change in our position in Iraq during this trip. Many of the points, the problems which exist there are problems which have existed really since late 2004, if not earlier. I didn’t see a dramatic shift in the ability of the Iraqi’s to reach the kind of compromise that is almost the foundation of moving forward. […]

But I also want to stress another thing. I did not see success for the strategy that President Bush announced in January.”

Cordesman is a conservative. Here is a brief bio:

By the way, I would suggest dropping comparisons of Iraq with George Washington & Valley Forge. The American revolutionaries were “insurgents.” The British were “occupiers” with a superior military force & a long line of supply.

Posted by: phx8 at August 10, 2007 2:36 PM
Comment #228951


I’m not sure if your retort is some school yard rhetorical flourish but Stephen is saying the right is being selfish. You are the selfish one. Unfortunately it is American servicemen and women who will continue to pay. You can’t keep a lid on this civil war forever. Have you been paying attention to what is happening in Basra?

Hanson thinks as you must we can defeat the insurgents militarily. Even General Petraeus says otherwise, that it is the Iraqis who must politically come together. There is no “final storm” nor “breaking the enemy” anywhere in sight. Our military is already stretched thin and must start drawing down next spring. What then?

I am glad our great military is having some success in Bagdhad. I hope it leads to greater stability, peace, and prosperity for the Iraqis. But unless you believe our forces should be there indefinitely sacrificing American lives and treasure, I’d like to see progress where it counts, among the Iraqis.

Iraq is a quagmire and we have supporters of the war like you to thank for it.

Posted by: chris2x at August 10, 2007 2:44 PM
Comment #228955

The evolution from blunders to wisdom? First, we had a great deal of experience from campaigns before the war that was blatantly disregarded by folks who thought they had a new paradigm set up. So it wasn’t exactly like we had to start out with things the way they were, in order to learn better.

Second, this weary public has been asked to be patient not with a war that started out difficult, and which needs an extra kick to get it won, as in the Civil War and WWII, but instead a war that started out pretty easy, pretty low in casualties, and then degenerated into something far worse. It’s one thing to ask people to be patient with difficulties, quite another to ask them to be patient with failure and incompetence that lets things get out of control. In the case of both wars above, they were all done with at this point after their beginning. You guys want us to keep this war going indefinitely, until its won.

That’s not the way you win wars. That’s the way you lose them, when they’re foreign affairs. As Sun Tzu said, nobody ever protracted a war brilliantly.

Yet that is just what you’re trying to do. Let me clue you in on something: when fighting long wars in foreign countries, it’s typically the foreign fighters, who have to transport and keep fresh troops far from home, isolated from friendly support, who drop first. We don’t even have the advantage of being true colonialists, using the countries resources to further our aims. Iraq is a money pit, and your side wants to keep on throwing in more good money after bad.

As for selfishness? You guys are screwing up left and right, yet you and your party’s pundits make everything about whether people have done the rational thing and decided to like, nay, love you. Has it occured to you that Bush might have to earn his love, his good name, and that people might doubt it for some very good reasons?

This is a Democracy. Parties, politicians, and presidents are not entitled to respect or love. They have to earn it. You real question should not be why we are so deranged as not love Bush, but why people have such reason to hate him. You’ll find there’s plenty of rational reason to dislike the man, and what he’s done to our country.

You want us to support this war based on op-eds, not reliable reports. You want opinions from tourists, not reports from experts. And why not? You’re looking for political support, and that means that the article you present have one common denominator: they agree with you.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2007 3:54 PM
Comment #228956

Here you go Rah….
Bush and Maliki…what a pair to draw to.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 10, 2007 4:03 PM
Comment #228957

Phx, so you went with the one that gave the negative critique; go figure!* And, the comparsions of Iraq to The revolutionary war was to the “soldiers and their families” who “BELIEVE IN THE MISSION!”; some of you can’t even stand to here that!!

Posted by: rahdigly at August 10, 2007 4:05 PM
Comment #228974

See the link on the first comment for this thread. O’Hanlon & Pollack are utterly discredited. They have been wrong again and again and again. Why would anyone listen to them?

Posted by: phx8 at August 10, 2007 6:05 PM
Comment #228982

Man, this BDS is really kicking into high gear when (any) good news out of Iraq is mentioned. Sorry, BDS(ers); you all chose the wrong viewpoint. Always bet on America; no matter who is in charge!

Posted by: rahdigly at August 10, 2007 7:22 PM
Comment #228986

Less rah, rah. More thought please.

Posted by: chris2x at August 10, 2007 8:09 PM
Comment #229015

And now, finally, the new “War Czar” says we might want to consider reinstating the draft:,2933,292949,00.html

Posted by: KansasDem at August 11, 2007 9:50 AM
Comment #229021

“Since January, each month we have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al-Qaida terrorists and other enemies of Iraq’s elected government,” George W. Bush, weekly radio address, 08/11/07.

Defining success with “body counts”? Deja-vu?

Posted by: KansasDem at August 11, 2007 12:50 PM
Comment #229026

Okay KD….best case scenario.? How long to reinstate the draft….then to start seeing results and training camps starting to fill…training period to ship-out-time..? We’re probably looking at all this under a new administration, which I’m not condemning, by any means. Maybe that’s the root of this, which is irrelevant because we’ve got to fill the need.
Look out Romney boys….you can run, but you can’t hide.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 11, 2007 1:48 PM
Comment #229028


Well, I expect Bush to refuse to even consider it, but it will add a new element to the ongoing debate in Congress. Just how long can we sustain the current troop levels? I expect we’ll be demanding some pretty darn specific answers come September.

It did little good for a Democrat to even mention the idea, the war czar gives it some weight. How will the public respond? Or will the MSM even make sure the public hears about it? It’s hardly even being talked about.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 11, 2007 2:39 PM
Comment #229039

check this out.,2933,292949,00.html

i wonder how many 18yr old males still even bother to register ?

Posted by: dbs at August 11, 2007 7:46 PM
Comment #229041

Sandra et al
No way we will have a new draft unless they can figure out a way for rich kids to get out of it. Bush has even ruined the National Gard scam he used to dodge Vietnam.I doubt the old standby college deferments will be allowed this time either. Perhaps we should go back to the Civil War system where rich people could get out by paying someone else to take their place. That way at least a guy could make a buck.

Posted by: BillS at August 11, 2007 7:57 PM
Comment #229053


I’ve read reports that only about 3 out of 10 draft age (18 to 24?) Americans would even qualify for service largely due to low graduation rates, obesity and ADHD, ADD, etc.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 11, 2007 10:45 PM
Comment #229058

No water, no gas, no electricity, no peace, millions have fled to other countries, bodies piled on corners, bombs ripping through human flesh constantly, a trillion dollars, nearly 4000 dead US soldiers and you believe progress is being made? Seriously? Cmon, do you honestly believe that or are you just doing a spin job because youre a republican? We all know thats what youre doing. Obviously.

Posted by: Keith Miller at August 11, 2007 11:32 PM
Comment #229060

I posted some more sources re Iraq in a new post above. Nothing more to see here. Why don’t we all move to the new post. We can still talk about Iraq, but I hope you all read the Cordesman article.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 12:08 AM
Comment #229062

BillS…the old way of keeping kids out of service worked good enough for Bush, so I’m sure it can be recycled for this generation. Ya..and the being rich part works fine, too.
KD, I just don’t get a feeling that draft age kids are paying much attention to this “war”. Not like Viet Nam and the protests. We’ve had postings about this some time ago, and it doesn’t seem to have changed. Does anyone else see anything like this, or am I way off base??? Maybe that isn’t fair, either , because having spent a few years in a really little town, and losing 3 boys from there, it keeps the awareness level pretty high.
Frustration level is at maximum overload right now….sorry.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 12, 2007 12:57 AM
Comment #229102
Goals are fuzzy because the situation is fuzzy AND because we are dealing with an enemy that is intelligent, adaptive and reactive to our actions.

I have always had the understanding that when faced with complex and confusing situations it is more important to have clear goals, rather than less. We see this in our intelligence community: each agency has their own goals and jurisdiction. By keeping their goals clear and separate we avoid scope creep. We also avoid reduplication of effort. The NSA will not wake up one morning and find that they are tasked with performing the CIA’s job, nor vice versa. Moreover, because their goals are clear, the organizations involved may devote time and energy towards making a variety of plans which will allow them to reach their assigned goals. You seem to be confusing the role of goals with the role of tactics. Tactics certainly should be fuzzy enough to adapt to any given situation. But keeping the goals themselves fuzzy means that no real plans for ever reaching those goals may be made, and that their fuzziness can always be pointed to as a justification for why they have not yet been reached.

Posted by: Jarandhel at August 12, 2007 2:39 PM
Comment #229104


One of the big problems before 9/11 was that our intelligent organizations were too focused on their own turf. Your comments are so 20th century.

You are correct that I am mixing goals a bit with tactics. I can say that the goal is a stable, reasonably democratic Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors. But the way of getting there will change.

It is like climbing a mountain that has not been mapped. We see some promising trails. Some will turn out to be the right ones. But we can expect some mistakes.

We face a dynamic situation. I think this is the fundamental problem with how it is understood by opponents.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 3:16 PM
Comment #229110


Sharing data between intelligence organizations does not mean that both intelligence agencies are doing the same jobs and trying to achieve identical goals. For the same reason, police are different from the FBI, but they can can share data between one another. The scopes are different. The goals are different. That doesn’t mean they can never work together.

Using your mountain analogy, the goal certainly is to get to the top. And the path one takes to get there may indeed change. But when we consistently find that the paths are taking us lower and lower on the mountain, and show no signs of turning upward again, we don’t just say “oh well, now our goal is to make to the bottom instead.”

That’s the situation we find ourselves in with Iraq… we keep changing the goals, the reasons we are there. It started out with removing WMDs, then suddenly turned into liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein, then to supposedly fighting terrorists there so we don’t have to fight them here, now to a stable “reasonably” democratic Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors… next week, will it be to a stable unreasonably democratic iraq that might threaten its neighbors but just ones we don’t like? We’ve abandoned the goal of standing down as the Iraqis stand up, mainly because the Iraqis aren’t standing up. When is it time to admit that our goals in Iraq are simply unattainable, rather than moving the goal yet again?

Posted by: Jarandhel at August 12, 2007 3:55 PM
Comment #229133


President Bush laid out our reasons for action in Iraq in his SOTU speech of 2003. He mentioned the WMD, general threat of Saddam, human abuses. For example, “the dictator who is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages - leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained - by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.”

The goal is and remains a stable, reasonably democratic Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors.

And you know that when you climb a mountain, you sometimes need to do a lot of bushwacking and switchbacking to get to the top.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 8:25 PM
Comment #229146


Certainly you sometimes need to switchback to reach the top when climbing a mountain. But you don’t reach the top by jumping off every cliff you come to along the way. What progress have we made in Iraq? What upward trends are we seeing? What indication that we will ever reach the top via the path we are currently taking?

In the state of the union which you quote, Bush presented a very clear reason for us to be in Iraq: “We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.” That was the goal, to disarm him. A goal which has been abandoned since then, and many others offered in its place.

Most recently, Bush has said: “It’s a new mission. And David Petraeus is in Iraq carrying it out. Its goal is to help the Iraqis make progress toward reconciliation — to build a free nation that respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law, and is an ally against the extremists in this war.” How does this goal mesh with the fact that nearly half of Maliki’s cabinet is no longer participating in meetings? Will we admit we are failing to acheive our goal now, or will we simply change the goal again? The answer already seems clear:

Colmes asked, “General, is the surge working?”

Petraeus answered, “It is. We are making progress. We have achieved tactical momentum in many areas, especially against Al Qaeda Iraq and to a lesser degree against the militia extremists. We are also heartened by the number of Iraqi tribes and local citizens who have rejected Al Qaeda. We cannot attribute that to the surge but the surge certainly enabled that to move much more rapidly, we believe, than it otherwise would have. Now, having said that, there are innumerable challenges and, obviously, an enormous amount of hard work remains to be done.” [-News hounds

Posted by: Jarandhel at August 12, 2007 10:22 PM
Comment #229152


We have disarmed Saddam, right. The war against him was successful. If that was all we needed to do, we were done. But we were presented with new and changing conditions. The goal of a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq that is not at threat to its neighbors is a valid goal,

The general is telling the truth that we are making progress but that there is a lot of hard work ahead. Do you disagree? Where would you suggest we go from here? Do you really want to just be defeated and quickly run off? Do you think it is POSSIBLE to just leave?

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 11:04 PM
Comment #229200

We did not disarm Saddam, we removed him from power only to find he was already disarmed. We then tried and executed him, leaving a power vacuum behind that could easily have been anticipated. That is the new and changing condition you’re trying to claim. But it was a natural result of our previous goal, one that was never planned for. As for a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors being a valid goal, well the fact is that Iraq was not a threat to its neighbors before we invaded. We’ve caused the only modern threat by our destabilizing influence in the area. And the actual factions living there don’t seem too interested in our ideas of what is a reasonable democracy, since they have already enshrined Islam as the source of all laws. Sounds kind of similar to Iran’s idea of a democracy, really, and we’ve called them part of the Axis of Evil. And that’s not even taking into account that Maliki himself is a member of the Islamic Dawa party, a terrorist group that has struck US facilities in the past, and was specifically the head of their Jihad Office in Damascus during the 80s. Putting him in power has NOT advanced US interests in the region, particularly interests relating to the War on Terror. Given all of this, what real progress are we making? The general said that our main progress with the surge is in fighting Al Qaeda, who weren’t even in the region before we went in. What political progress is being made? He’s said in another interview that the key military victories have come from our troops staying in communities. “After our guys are in the neighborhood for four or five days, the people realize they’re not going to just leave them like we did in the past. Then they begin to come in with so much information on the enemy that we can’t process it fast enough.”[1] What is going to happen in these neighborhoods when the troops leave again? And they will have to. “The extended deployments, meanwhile, have severely strained the US military and analysts say the surge cannot be sustained beyond April without either extending tours of duty or calling up brigades that have been home less than a year.”[2]

I suggest it’s time to admit we are not advancing our interests by staying in that region. That we jumped off the cliff already and now need to worry about recovering from breaking every bone in our bodies rather than trying to reach the top still. YES it’s possible to just leave. What do you think is going to happen if we try to pull out, other than civil war? Frankly, if they want to shoot each other, let’s let them. We’re not “defeated” if we leave, we’re just admitting that there’s nothing to be gained by staying. There is no military objective anymore. You can’t liberate the people from themselves. You can’t militarily IMPOSE democracy. What is there to be gained from staying there anymore? How do you think we can, in any sense, still “win”?

Posted by: Jarandhel at August 13, 2007 10:54 AM
Comment #229261

What would it look like if we won in Iraq?

There would be some sort of regime that we approve of set up and that regime would be a forma government set up by us for our purposes!

That is how the Iraqi people would see it.
That is how the religious leaders in Iraq would see it.
That is how the Islamic world would see it.
That is how outside terrorist groups like Al Qeaida would see it as well.

It ultimately doesn’t even matter how true or false it is.
That is how it would be seen throughout the world.

The result would be an Iraqi government perceived to be pawn of the U.S. and regarded as a puppet regime and thus a target for international terrorist organizations. Those organizations would attack both U.S. and Iraqi interests both in the middle east and here.
In other words -

There is no winning in Iraq. Not possible.
It is not possible to impose democracy.
Like the values it purports to support -
The democratic form of government must itself be chosen by those who will be governed by it.

This very simple, basic concept seems obvious to most but still, somehow, seems to elude those few remaining label-loyalist republicans who refuse to get it.

Posted by: RGF at August 13, 2007 4:21 PM
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