Aug 10 Sources: Strategic Patience in Iraq

Some of my sources explore developments in Iraq. CSIS’ Anthony Cordesman describes our options, making the case for strategic patience. Cordesman remains a critic of Iraq policy, but says leaving too soon is a bad idea and not a real option. He is less hopeful than the experts in my Iraq victory post, but has the same advice. We gain more by giving the strategy time to work than by a quick retreat.

Sources are below.

Iraq

The Turn - Defeatists in retreat.

Discontent Simmers over Iraq - In Washington, dialogue between the Bush administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress on funding the Iraq war is on summer hiatus. In Baghdad, Iraqi lawmakers have stopped work for a recess of their own, even as Sunni politicians continue to abandon the government (al-Jazeera).

Press Briefing: Anthony Cordesman On Iraq - Anthony Cordesman, who holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS, recently returned from a trip to Iraq. Cordesman briefed the media on his trip. He also has released a new report, The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience in Iraq: A Trip Report

The United States Should Reassess Priorities and Consider Next Steps in Iraq - Approaches that the U.S. government can consider in its efforts to reduce sectarian violence and stabilize Iraq, recommendations to increase the likelihood of success, and possible next steps to take.

The Tenuous Case For Strategic Patience In Iraq: A Trip Report - The US now has only uncertain, high risk options in Iraq. It cannot dictate Iraq’s future, only influence it, and this presents serious problems at a time when the Iraqi political process has failed to move forward in reaching either a new consensus or some form of peaceful coexistence.

My Favorite Taxes

An Energy Tax Policy for the Twenty-First Century -What is wrong with current U.S. energy tax policy? What kind of policy is appropriate for the twenty-first century?

The Merit of a Carbon Tax - In defense of a carbon tax.

Energy & Environment

Facing The Hard Truths About Energy - Discussion of the findings of the recently released National Petroleum Council (NPC) study

Future Air Pollution Levels and Climate Change: A Step toward Realism - What can we make of a new study on the effects of climate change on future air pollution?

U.S. Society & Culture

Internet News Audience Critical of News Organizations - Some of the harshest indictments of the press come from the growing segment that relies on the internet as its main news source.

Voters Won't Hear the Cry - The GOP is unlikely to benefit much in the 2008 elections from the claim that Congressional Democrats have been too heavy-handed.

Democrats Address Gay Community - On Thursday night six Democratic candidates for president came together for a debate on issues important to the gay community.

Sports Diplomacy Is the New Comeback Kid - Now U.S. sports diplomacy is enjoying a comeback of its own. With strong support from Under Secretary Karen Hughes, the Department of State's budget for sports grants and sports programming has climbed from a lowly $600,000 to roughly $5 million in just five years.

Tech President – Ron Paul is the most popular Republican politician on FaceBook and MySpace. These are the new metrics in measuring the success of a presidential candidate, but in just two days these new metrics will collide head on with an older, more traditional gauge.

The White House's Immigration Initiative - The Bush Administration announces an immigration initiative that starts the ball rolling on real immigration reform.

Born American: Reflections of an Immigrant Patriot - Each generation has to be educated in our principles of right, the natural rights that stem from those principles, and our constitutional soul, which gives these rights their functional order. As Madison put it, "liberty and learning always have to be attached." In this unique country, citizens have to be made because it is not enough that they be born.

Numbers: Congressional Democrats, the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse, and More - Brief analysis of current public opinion on Congressional Democrats, the Minneapolis Bridge collapse, and more.

Changes in How Americans View Different Industries- This year’s annual Harris Poll ranking industries on how well they serve consumers finds that the supermarket industry does the best job according to U.S. adults.

Sicko's Box Office Numbers Are Fuzzy, Too - You might be surprised at which documentaries have actually earned the most.

Security & International Relations

Religion and International Diplomacy: A Ten-Year Progress Report - Experts discuss the successes and shortcomings of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Are U.S. national interests advanced by the act, and should they be?

Attitudes on US Role in the World – A comprehensive analysis, or ‘digest,’ of polling on Americans’ attitudes on the US role in the world. This draws on virtually all public domain polls conducted in recent years. The digest includes footnotes with the actual question wordings as well

Countries Most Widely Seen as Close U.S. Allies - Great Britain retains its position as the country most widely viewed as a close ally (70%). Canada is still in second position (57%) followed by Australia (54%), Israel (42%) and Japan (38%).

One Europe, Many Terror Policies - The strongest criticism against European efforts concerns lack of cohesion among EU member states.

Pakistan at the Crossroads – Part I - Stability depends on restoring democracy and bringing prosperity to Pakistan

Pakistan at the Crossroads – Part II - In an exclusive interview, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto offers both warnings and plans for her country

Pakistanis Increasingly Reject Terrorism...and the U.S. - As American leaders from George W. Bush to Barack Obama talk tough with Pakistan about terrorism, Pakistanis themselves express fear and loathing of the United States, but reject terrorist tactics.

The US and India: Nuclear Bonding - The just-concluded nuclear agreement opens the door for deeper strategic cooperation in an uncertain world

After the Elections: Washington's Turkish Dilemma - The party that leads Turkey's government, the AKP, is not the steadfast U.S. ally that its predecessors often were and threatens to turn Turkey from the U.S. and the West and toward its Islamic neighbors.

Working-Class Fight - Solidarity with Iranians.

Russia's Race for the Arctic - Russia's attempted grab of Arctic resources is a cause for concern, and the U.S. must engage its allies--especially Canada and the Nordic countries--to formulate a strong response.

Thawing Arctic's Resource Race - This summer, a team of Russian explorers, including two members of parliament and more than one hundred scientists, went north to prove that an Arctic underwater ridge the size of Western Europe is connected to the Siberian continental shelf.


Posted by Jack at August 11, 2007 11:05 PM
Comments
Comment #229070

Jack,
The title of the Cordesman article is “The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience in Iraq: A Trip Report.”

In summary, he says: “… The US now has only uncertain, high risk options in Iraq.”

As Cordesman points out, there has been one development in our favor, one which has nothing to do with the surge. Of all the factions in the civil war, the most unpopular ones are the Sunni religious nutjobs- Al Qaida in Iraq, foreign jidhadists, and their ilk. They are the only group more unpopular than the US military. Most Iraqi Sunnis are, relatively speaking, secular, at least compared to those guys. These were the supporters of Saddam Hussein. These are the Sunni nationalists; the “ex” Baathists.

The irony is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Having deposed Saddam Hussein because he supposedly supported terrorism, we have come to the belated realization that the Baathists are far preferable to the people Saddam Hussein repressed.

It has been reported that Maliki & Petraeus have engaged in screaming arguments over the US arming of the “ex” Baathists. Maliki is from the Dawa party, a group protected in exile in Iran during the Saddam Hussein years. The Iranian backed parties of Dawa and SCIRI control the Iraqi government, such as it is. They really, really do not want to see arms provided to the Sunni nationalists.

There is one other piece of luck, if you can call it that. The Sunni nationalists share a common goal with the Shia Sadrists: both want to see a unified Iraq which shares oil revenues. If someone can overrule the Neocons, and allow the Iraqis to nationalize their oil industry instead of selling it western Big Oil, that might allow a national revenue sharing, and cut another strand from the Gordian Knot that is Iraq.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Here is a very negative article on the state of the US military in Iraq, reported in the major UK liberal paper:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2147052,00.html

And as several people have already commented, General Lute, the Iraq Czar for the administration, has said we should consider a draft.

My 22 year old son will not be drafted to go to Iraq. Period.

I think you underestimate the awareness of young people when it comes to Iraq. The ones I know think Iraq is a mistake, that serving there is a horrible experience, and they are not about to go. Forget it. Like the five sons of Mitt Romney, most young people have other plans.

It is safe to say the GOP has lost the support of the upcoming generation for decades to come.

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 2:07 AM
Comment #229078

Phx8

Cordesman is a critic of the Iraq policy, as I said. He is not optimistic. But he understands that we have limited options and that we cannot just run away from the problem and consider it solved.

Perhaps the GOP has lost young people for a generation. Much of the public hates the war. There have been significant mistakes in carrying out the conflict. All that may be true, but it does not change the options we face today. We can proceed only from where we are, not from where we might have been or where popular opinion prefers we be.

Whether through luck, design, strategy, hard work or a combination all of these things, we have a chance to improve our prospects. If we throw it away for the sake of domestic political gains (with, BTW, are the ultimate in ephermal)or because we are too fearful to do the right things, it will pile a bigger mistake on those already made. Sometimes the right thing is not the popular one and it rarely is the easiest option. Hard options are unpopular.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 8:27 AM
Comment #229097

Jack,

I recently watched Cordesman on C-span and I’ve read his recent report. Something I thought he was woefully loath to mention was actual sustainability of troop levels. You might want to read his July 2005 Senate testimony, take special note of how many times he uses the words “magic wand” in reference to “surging” troop levels or otherwise redefining their mission:

http://tinyurl.com/2477oq (in pdf)

Well, the only “magic wand” that Bush and the Pentagon had (and still have) is increasing the duration and frequency of deployments or reinstating the draft. Our ground forces are at the breaking point as displayed by phx8’s link. And reinstating the draft at this point will never fly because public support for the war would plummet.

For any supposed “expert” to rely on “magic wands” and to fail to address the very real logistics of sustainability lead me to the conclusion that Cordesman is as full of crap as a Kansas City feedlot. I’ll grant you he makes some good recommendations, not the least of which is for us to leave when the Iraqi government requests we do so, but his failure to address the true sustainability of our current strategy amount to little more than me imagining how I might spend the money if I won the lottery.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 12, 2007 1:48 PM
Comment #229099

Well, Jack, you and Cordesman are wrong in so many ways about improved benefits with patience to stay in Iraq.

First there is the opportunity cost for the 12 billion a month, which denies infrastructure repair spending, improved education spending, and securing our borders spending.

Second, is the now obvious and many times documented fact that our presence in Iraq is contributing to the destabilization in the Iraqi region and growth of al-Queda type fundamentalist organizations.

And third, is the escalation of tensions and ever closer engagement of conflict between US forces and Iranian operatives supporting their Shiite allies in Iraq as the US backs Sunni forces in al-Anbar Province and other areas.

If this shoe were on the other foot, and Russians were moving missiles into Cuba for Cuban defense, we would react EXACTLY as Iran is now. In fact, we did, as an historical fact, during the JFK administration.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2007 2:09 PM
Comment #229101

Jack,
There is one other thing going right in Iraq: some of the right people are in the right places. Ambassador Crocker, General Petraeus, and SECDEF Gates command some respect, which is more than can be said for their predecessors.

It took the 2006 midterms to force the Bush administration to make those changes. There has been a consistent policy of placing Bush loyalists in positions, rather than removing incompetent people and instating competent ones.

Unfortunately, Cheney is the in position, and he continues to spout absolute drivel. Neocon propaganda continues to flood the media. In the case of Cordesman v O’Hanlon/Pollack, here is a list of outlets who covered the latter:

CBS Evening News, CNN Newsroom, CNN Situation Room, MSNBC Tucker, NPR Talk of the Nation, CBS Early Show, Fox News Special Report, MSNBC Hardball, Fox News Sunday.

Here is a list of those who covered Cordesman:

C-SPAN, UPI, CNN.

Between the OVP and media, the American public continues to be grossly misinformed about Iraq by people with a proven track record of being wrong, people like Cheney, Pollack, and O’Hanlon, people completely lacking credibility.

Condi Rice recently wrote an op-ed piece about Lebanon which was little more than a Bush propaganda article. It was so lacking in merit, not one major media outlet would publish it.

The success of the few competent people in high places is hamstrung by the continued presence of so many incompetent ones. In Iraq, Generals Bergner and Caldwell continue to spew nonsense in their attempt to drum up support for an attack on Iran.

The governor and police chief of Qadisiya province, the capital of which is Diwaniya, were assasinated by an IED explosion. Those guys were Badr Brigade supporters, a faction supported by Iran. It is inconceivable that the Iranian government would intentionally supply explosives to take those guys out. Yet Cheney, Bergner, Caldwell, and others keep insisting Iran is the driver behind the violence in Diwaniya.

Meanwhile, British Defense officials are really pissed at Cordesman:

http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1267552007

Developments in southern Iraq are going south. Usually, the Bush administration pretends that part of the civil war does not exist. As a result, the Brits have taken it on the chin. Again, they are pissed. Here is a disturbing quote from General Sir Tony Walker, a former deputy chief of defence staff:

“The Americans wanted to disband the existing security forces and we went along with that. We have suffered terribly since then, because that single move was the most destabilising act in the whole post-war operation.”

So where do we go from here? The current “tenuous” “high-risk” strategy is little better than a Hail Mary pass.

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 2:26 PM
Comment #229103

When I was young, I took a snow mobile safety course which featured a slide show with a picture of a guy in the middle of what looked like a thawing lake. The instructor said that the ice was breaking and asked what the guy should do. Some kids said that he should speed up; others advocated slowing down. There were lots of suggestions. Then the instructor weighed in. He said that the guy should not have gone out on the ice. His was a correct, but not a useful answer if the situation were a real one.

Like this guy on the lake, we are where we are. It is not helpful to wish we were someplace else. We have only the options to go from here. You can criticize the messengers, but all they are saying is that our best option is NOT to try to get out too soon and that in fact a quick exit is not even a real option.

Re Iran - I do not believe that a war with Iran is desirable nor do I believe that Bush is seriously entertaining that possibility. You guys are the ones who keep on bringing it up. It is the same, BTW, with the draft. Sure you can find some people who say such things, but generally the talk is just a lefty creation designed to scare people.

Re changes in leadership - I agree and wrote in my previous post that the midterm elections had the salutary effects of pushing the president to make changes. He did. Now we have a new team, a new strategy and a new implementation that seems to be showing some progress. If you were interested in a change in course in Iraq, you got it. If by change is course, you meant that defeat Harry Reid so confidently talks about, we are not there yet. For me, defeat is not a top option. Maybe that is why I am not a Dem.

Re the money we spend in Iraq - it is big money. But it is a stretch to say that if we were not spending money in Iraq we would be using it for roads, border or name the good thing.

RE infrastructure - there is really no lack of money. It is just spent poorly and has been for a long time because it is a political process. I was looking at some forest land in W. Virginia. You would not believe the nice highways they have there. Robert Byrd sees to it that you can drive practically all by yourself on a wide highway with great bridges over all the local hollows. The big Clifford Hollow bridge makes the trip from Baker to Nestorville a pleasure. Although the discovery of evidence of the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel, made necessary environmental investigations throughout the 10-mile area between Parsons and Davis in Tucker County slowed construction.

I am not saying that connecting small mountain communities of W. Virginia is not our country’s most urgent highway priority. Nor am I saying that we should not spend millions of highway dollars to protect a possible family of flying squirrels or maybe building a badger underpass, but you see the problem with road projects funded by the Feds and funds distributed according to patronage.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 3:02 PM
Comment #229105

“Cheney is the in position, and he continues to spout absolute drivel”

phx8,

I preferred Cheney circa 1994 (very brief video):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BEsZMvrq-I

Always the good soldier?

Posted by: KansasDem at August 12, 2007 3:17 PM
Comment #229106

Jack,

I’m glad you posted a link about the “hard truths” we must face in regards to energy. Most on the Right and the Left do not really understand the issue — thus we get wishful proposals to eliminate coal from the Left, and … well, not much from the Right.

Here’s a link to the National Petroleum Council. The link to the report, Facing the Hard Truths About Energy, currently is on the PCN’s homepage. Nothing in the report is particularly new — the EIA has been saying the same thing for many years — but it does discuss the issue in a broader context than the EIA is wont.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 12, 2007 3:23 PM
Comment #229109

Jack,

I agree with your analogy about finding yourself on thin ice, just tell me how long we can maintain current troop levels in Iraq.

Beyond that date what’s the maximum number of troops we can maintain in Iraq?

And how long before we’re forced to reduce those levels?

Then what level can be maintained?

These are purely logistical questions. Good intentions and plans based on ideology don’t mean anything without the actual resources to achieve the plan. I personally do believe that we COULD achieve a “success” similar to that in South Korea if we pursued a true occupation of Iraq.

Of course we’d have to marginalize the elected Iraqi government, reinstate the draft and increase troop levels to at least one million, militarily confront (code words for BOMB) Iran and Syria, and be prepared to “rinse and repeat” ad nauseam for several decades.

Rather like sending more and more snowmobiles out on the ice until all of the ice is gone. The ice will lose eventually unless we run out of snowmobiles. Of course if you’re seeking snowmobile Armageddon it’s all good.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 12, 2007 3:55 PM
Comment #229112

Jack said: “I agree and wrote in my previous post that the midterm elections had the salutary effects of pushing the president to make changes. He did. Now we have a new team, a new strategy and a new implementation that seems to be showing some progress.”

Pure Bullcrap. The purpose of the surge was to permit the Iraqi gov’t. to take control. The Iraqi government is not taking control. Sunnis walked out Congress. Ergo, the surge is serving no useful purpose. It simply continues to waste American lives and treasure. 5 more died just in the last 24 hours. For what? NADA! Nothing. Iraqi warring groups and sects are not willing to reconcile their differences to preserve the integrity of Iraq. Our role there is futile.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2007 4:34 PM
Comment #229116

“The purpose of the surge was to permit the Iraqi gov’t. to take control.”

David,

Bush recently redefined that a tiny bit: we’ll stay until Iraq emerges as an ally in our war against terror. Note: that’s not a direct quote, but darn close.

In the meanwhile we already have a Sunni crying “genocide”!

“Arabs, your brothers in the land of the two rivers and in Baghdad in particular are exposed to an unprecedented genocide campaign by the militias and death squads that are directed, armed and supported by Iran,” [Adnan] al-Dulaimi said.

http://tinyurl.com/23ld6p

You and I both know that Saudi Arabia will not tolerate a Persian Shiite takeover of Iraq. We’ve unleashed the whirlwind………now what?

Posted by: KansasDem at August 12, 2007 5:35 PM
Comment #229117

Oops:

“we already have a Sunni LEADER crying “genocide”!

Posted by: KansasDem at August 12, 2007 5:37 PM
Comment #229118

Instructor Cheney: I want you to walk across this frozen lake.

Citizen: OK. But I am from Phoenix. To tell the truth, I do not know much about frozen lakes.

Instructor Cheney: Never mind. Start walking. We know terrorist snowmobilers, if you will, have been dumping salt on the ice.

Citizen: Hey, the ice is slippery. Umm, I do not see any snowmobile tracks.

Instructor Cheney: That is because they went to the other side.

Citizen: What?

Instructor Cheney: I paid a guy to tell me that, so it must be true.

Citizen: But there are no tracks. I am pretty far from the shore now, and I can see the whole frozen lake, and there are no tracks.

Instructor Cheney: You lack the proper context. That is merely what you call “flawed intelligence.”

Citizen: Yikes! The ice is cracking!

Instructor Cheney: Keep walking. Those cracks are dead-enders. This is going remarkably well!

Citizen: What if I fall through? Maybe I should distribute my weight- crawl on my belly, stay off my feet.

Instructor Cheney: Defeetist! [sneer]

Citizen: Omigosh! I can see through the ice! I”ve had enough. Why don”t you do this?

Instructor Cheney: No, no, I have plans for later. Besides, you volunteered.

Citizen: But… but… [loud cracking sounds] It is breaking up!

Instructor Cheney: Now listen! You can stabilize the ice with a surge of force directly perpendicular to its crystalline structure. You can do this by jumping up and down. Jump!

[CRACK]
[SPLASH]
[GLUB]

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 5:58 PM
Comment #229119

Strategic Patience in Iraq, hmm? I guess what’s been going on for the last four plus years doesn’t measure up as patience for Bushies.

Several problems with this—Americans have no problem doing the economic/imperial thing, as long as it doesn’t slide into, well, what we have now. When they have to be reminded of their imperialist tendencies day after day, it’s hard on their collective consciences. Tsk, tsk. Shock and awe, Jack, quick in, beat the bad guy’s brains out, quick out. Key word: OUT.

Trouble is, it never seems to work that way, and Americans are beginning to wonder what they’re really getting for their $600 billion ‘defense’ budget. Can’t say that I blame them. Six hundred billion dollars—that’s alot of bridges and health care and college scholarships.

What’s funny about these weighty conversations about Iraq is the prevalent notion (seemingly shared by both sides of the political spectrum evidently) that the US is still ‘the decider’, that we will decide how things will unfold in the coming years in Iraq.

Sorry, people, we are no longer the deciders. Tell you what will decide things and when we get out though.

The Iraqi people. (Hard to believe, I know.)

The collapse of the dollar, and, if we’re really lucky, a moderate to severe recession in the next 8-12 months. If we’re not lucky….

The price of oil has risen 55% since 2000. So far, the world economy has limped along, as have the American worker, who has suffered through stagnant wages and soaring energy, food and housing costs. A sudden spike in oil prices (say $100-125/ barrel) is going to make a stupid war downright unpalletable. It could happen before the end of the year—it could happen at anytime.

Investors are already heading for the exits: they smell blood in the water, and the Fed is out of tricks. Leave interest rates where they are? Not likely. Drop interest rates? And freak out foreign investors that have paid for our national largesse these past five years? What to do?

Frankly, I think if there’s another large, destructive terrorist occurrence in the US, I think we should declare war on Venezuela. Much closer than Iran, and it stomps on that socialist bastard Chavez who’s causing so many problems in Latin America.

A twofer, so to speak.

I’ll leave the floor now to you really heavy thinkers, both the Bush haters and the true patriots alike.

Posted by: black & red at August 12, 2007 6:07 PM
Comment #229121

Jack,

Lets restate your points:

1. All the experts say we should not leave Iraq anytime soon.

Baloney.

2. The left has made up the rumor about a possible draft.

Baloney.

3. Democrats want defeat.

Deeply insulting.

4. If we weren’t spending our money in Iraq, environmentalists, etc. would just be wasting it.

Just lame.

Posted by: Max at August 12, 2007 7:02 PM
Comment #229124

Black & Red,
You write: “Investors are already heading for the exits: they smell blood in the water, and the Fed is out of tricks. Leave interest rates where they are? Not likely. Drop interest rates? And freak out foreign investors that have paid for our national largesse these past five years?”

The US, French, & German Federal Reserves have poured money into the banks to ensure liquidity, which is good. The US Federal Reserve has one more trick up its sleeve, which is to cut the Federal Funds interest rate. Almost overnight, investors have come to the realization that a cut will happen soon.

And no one knows if the added liquidity and rate cut will do the trick.

It seems we are entering a different kind of economic slowdown. Much of the recovery from the First Bush Recession was fueled debt, by consumers refinancing their houses, and some of those refinancings took the form of variable rate mortgages. But now, banks are “re-evaluating risk,” which means they will not offer refinancing unless their risk is covered by higher interest rates. A large number of mortgages are in the next two rates will see interest rates jump, reflecting risk. This results in more foreclosures, too many houses on the market, and not enough buyers willing to finance at higher rates, which causes housing prices to drop, which removes refinancing from the picture, which means consumer spending drops, which means the economy slows.

In addition, corporate borrowing has already come to a standstill.

From what I have read, this type of recession takes longer to develop, lasts longer, and takes longer to recover from. The current downtrend started last October, and these types of slowdowns take a year to bloom. We are just coming to the realization that something is going very, very wrong. If past patterns hold true, we are still months away from the nadir.

Some very large, ugly chickens are coming to roost. The federal debt requires foreign financing, but with dropping federal funds rates and a plunging dollar, it makes foreign underwriting of US debt less attractive.

An economic slowdown will also result in falling tax revenues.

It came about because of the failure of the Bush economic program. A shaky recovery required low interest rates, easy money, which fueled a housing boom, which fueled consumer house refinancing, which fueled consumption. And now we see the contraction, only the onus of various kinds of debt are weighing us down.


Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 7:42 PM
Comment #229125

Kansas

Nobody wants to keep the high numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq for very long. No matter what happens in the next months, we will begin to draw down in early 2008. The difference is only that if we move our troops according to conditions we have a better chance of achieving success.

David

As I wrote in the other post, the macro-political results have been very disappointing, but we are building the infrastructure of stability. We are buying some more time.

Max

Most experts believe we cannot leave Iraq very soon w/o creating much worse results.

Re draft - officials in the Bush administration have rejected the talk of a draft. Democrat Charlie Rangel is its big proponent. Military leaders virtually unanimously reject the idea of a draft. It IS primarily a Dem idea.

Re defeat - I have never said that Dems want defeat. I think most are patriotic Americans who wnat the best for their country. I do believe, however, that some Dems think of this as Bush’s war and erroneously think we can just leave when we want and that some Dems believe we are defeated already. Harry Reid really annoys me with his defeatist rhetoric. He should just cut it out and if you guys won’t tell him that, you cannot blame me for drawing logical conclusions.

Re spending - if we were not spending in Iraq I do not believe we would just be spending it usefully in domestic things. The infrastructure, for example, is NOT under funded. The funding is just misused on bridges to nowhere or other pork barrel projects. I was making fun of the impressive HWY H project in W. Virginia because it is an amazing amount of infrastructure for a small, rugged area and it is mostly high quality pork.

It is a fallacy to think money can just be moved around as you guys imply. I have some experience with government budgets. Congress sometimes earmarks money. They toss it into a project or onto the bureaucracy, which often cannot absorb it usefully. It does not have the staff, skills or capacity.

It is sort of like watering and fertilizing a plant. At some point, more manure will not make it grow faster and after that it will begin to do harm. The law can “mandate” that the pine tree grow 25 feet a year forever. It can give it enough fertilizer and water to accommodate such a growth rate, but it cannot make it happen.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 7:48 PM
Comment #229126

Phx8

The first “Bush” recession? Is that the downturn that started in March of 2000 and ended in 2003? Bush sure is a magician, as he can start the economy going down nearly a year before he even takes office, and a year and a half before any of his budget priorities begin to be enacted.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 7:52 PM
Comment #229127

“I’ll leave the floor now to you really heavy thinkers, both the Bush haters and the true patriots alike.”

nice. i’d have gone with something like bush-o-phile for the latter, tho.

“[CRACK]
[SPLASH]
[GLUB]”

a far more apt, and humorous analogy.

“He said that the guy should not have gone out on the ice. His was a correct, but not a useful answer if the situation were a real one….”

is this jack actually admitting that the war in iraq was a mistake? that he was wrong? that, oh my lord… that BUSH WAS WRONG!?!?!.. without having the gumption to say it outright, of course. eh, how unpatriotic. that’s aiding and abetting the terrorists, bud.

i spose we may anxiously await, four or five years after the war ends (give or take), jack finally conceding defeat. it’s naysayers like you, jack, that lost us the war! “…should not have gone out on the ice.” how else would we have liberated the fish?

Posted by: diogenes at August 12, 2007 7:52 PM
Comment #229132

diogenes

I cannot predict the future very well, nor can I even predict the past if we make hypothetical changes in the scenarios.

There were plenty of mistakes in the Iraq conflict. If we had the ability to go back, we would have avoided some of those mistakes, while making some others.

In 2003, getting rid of Saddam seemed a good idea. In 2007, it still looks like a good idea. Other details, however, have not worked out as we hopped or planned.

In any case, like our guy on the ice, we are in the place we are today. We cannot go back, but if we are smart, able or just lucky, we might make it to the other side. We can go forward, or we can go under. Pretending that we can just will ourselves off the ice is not helpful.

Posted by: Jackj at August 12, 2007 8:15 PM
Comment #229134

phx8:

“Some very large, ugly chickens are coming to roost. “

In more ways than one I’m afraid. Can you say Ajustable Rate Mortage boys and girls?

Several years ago (2002, 2003? Can’t remember) mortgage rate increases were something like $2 billion for the entire year. These ARMs will be coming online at the rate of $30 billion per month for the next three years or so.

Man, I’m sure glad the country did something about this trade deficit and national debt. I think we really showed the world our courage and maturity by taking care of those problems. We’ll be much better able to handle what’s coming down the pike, don’t you think phx8?


And all that leveraged, bundled ‘risk’ the morons on Wall Street have been peddling to ‘investors’—well, nobody knows what’s around the next bend in the road. Maybe Bear Stearns was just the tip of the iceberg. The rapidly melting iceberg.

I hate being so negative. I’m sure all this will blow over. After all, I have it on good authority that God is on our side.

Good thing.

Posted by: black & red at August 12, 2007 8:36 PM
Comment #229137

“Nobody wants to keep the high numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq for very long. No matter what happens in the next months, we will begin to draw down in early 2008. The difference is only that if we move our troops according to conditions we have a better chance of achieving success.”

Jack,

Can you not see your own contradiction:

“No matter what” ……….

“according to conditions” ……….

That’s kind of like saying I’ll stick to my diet unless I get really hungry.

Did you watch the 1994 Cheney video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BEsZMvrq-I

Cheney has been a good soldier, always supporting his boss, no matter who the boss is!

Even if the boss is an idiot. I’ve been there and done that!

Posted by: KansasDem at August 12, 2007 9:05 PM
Comment #229138

Black & Red,
The ARMs are coming due, and nothing was done about debts & deficits, so we are pretty much locked into this situation. Congress has ability to implement a stimulative fiscal policy. The Federal Reserve is the only hope- “Help me Obi-Wan-Bernanke”- but they have already made their move providing liquidity, and they can only do so much about cutting interest rates. In real terms, the economic recovery only applied to corporations and the wealthy. Everyone else stayed even, at best, and the spending that came from consumption came from debt, from refinancing. Jobs were never created in adequate amounts, and many on the ones that were created were low paying, or government jobs. The recovery just never reached enough people to save us.

That was nothing more than the result of a bad economic philosophy… Tax cuts for the rich, rather than ones aimed towards creating stimulative spending through the middle class… Corporate tax cuts, divident cuts, permitting massive outsourcing of jobs… Untargeted stimulative fiscal policy through an undisciplined Republican Congress… A disastrous war paid for entirely with debt…

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 9:11 PM
Comment #229139

Phx8
There is another “trick” available to the federal government. Fannie Mae could be allowed to buy up more morgage notes.They want to do it. So far Bushco has opposed it.

Jack
Yes we have to move forward from this point in Iraq. Trouble with that truism is the the same incompetant is running the show.A new incompetant strategy,incompetantly implemented, is no better than an old one.

Posted by: BillS at August 12, 2007 9:11 PM
Comment #229140

“is this jack actually admitting that the war in iraq was a mistake?”

diogenes,

It doesn’t matter. We are where we are. Hopefully we learn from our mistakes, but we are where we are now. Jack is a glass half full kind of guy. At least while a Republican is holding the glass.

I happen to think our last, best chance now is to aggressively pursue the Biden - Gelb plan:

http://planforiraq.com/

But I doubt that will still be an option in January 2009. Time is limited! It may already be too late.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 12, 2007 9:23 PM
Comment #229141

BillS,
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were my first thoughts as a way out of the mess. Unfortunately, Bush has ruled them out:

“Despite mounting concern over the downturn in the housing market, he dismissed proposals advanced by prominent Democrats to grant government-chartered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac more freedom to buy mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. And he ruled out any taxpayer bailout of lenders threatened by the subprime home-loan crisis.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/08/AR2007080802468.html

Bush is utterly incapable of addressing emergencies and unforeseen contingencies. He has earned a reputation for incompetence for good reason.

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 9:29 PM
Comment #229142

jack, while i appreciate your patronizing banter (at least for what it is), you’re (as always) missing the point (intentionally?).

we are where we are because of this piss-poor excuse for an administration… and it’s die hard loyalists, such as yourself. didn’t your daddy teach you about the boy who cried wolf? when i was a wee lad… i’ll spare you the boring, loosely related childhood analogy.

…but, to bring your own back into play;
the first thing an intelligent, logical man would do upon finding himself on thin ice… would be to jettison the unnecessary dead weight that had landed him in the situation. the sled, jack, the sled. now, in this analogy, who do you suppose is the sled?

i would suggest (and i think most would agree) that it is in fact your crowd that is attempting to “will [yourselves] off the ice…”, and (as previously noted) you wish the rest of us to slide on out there with you, regardless of the risks.

Posted by: diogenes at August 12, 2007 9:55 PM
Comment #229143

apologies.

looking back, i see i rather slaughtered your analogy (sled/snow mobile and what not).

but then, i reckon it was more of a mercy killing at any rate.

Posted by: diogenes at August 12, 2007 10:02 PM
Comment #229144

If you should go skating
on the thin ice of modern life
Dragging behind you the silent reproach
of a million tear-stained eyes
Don”t be surprised if a crack in the ice
appears under your feet
You slip out of your depth
and out of your mind
With your fear flowing out behind you
As you claw the thin ice

Pink Floyd, “Thin Ice” The Wall

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 10:12 PM
Comment #229149

Kansas

What I am saying is that our general goal has been and remains to hand off as much as we can to the Iraqis themselves. It just makes much more sense to respond to conditions than to decide in advance that we are defeated and must leave on a certain schedule.

Re the Biden-Gelb plan (or any other) it is fine to have plans. We may disagree about them. But the only valid plans start from where were are now. I also happen not to believe that we are already defeated.

Diogenes

I remember the wolf story. If you remember in the end, the boy was telling the truth. The moral of the story is that the kid got punished. I know that is what you want for Bush. In the real world, it would have been better for the villagers to come and deal with the wolf that really was out there after all.

Analogies aside, we are in the situation we are in today. The only valid strategies are those that are forward looking. It looks like conditions today are more promising than they were six months ago. I think we should try to take advantage of the possible opening rather than declare preemptive defeat.

We changed the SecDef, the generals, the diplomats, & the strategy in Iraq. I know that many of you do not want to give Bush credit for anything. You do not need to do it. Give credit to the new general, new strategy, new SecDef, new diplomats etc if you want. Give it a chance.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 10:50 PM
Comment #229153

Jack,

I hate to bring this up, but some of the generals that were fired told the truth about Iraq. A truth that Mr. Bush refused to acknowledge, and worse yet, didn’t want to hear.

My question is;
What will take longer, the time it will take us to subdue Iraq and the violence stops, or if we left Iraq how long will it take before the violence stops?

Whether we like it or not, Iraq is a violent place, and our guys are in the middle of it.

Are we truly helping to quell the violence, or are we merely prolonging it?

Posted by: Rocky at August 12, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #229154

now would you allow that boy to plan your war strategy? i just bet you would (…and already have).

for your own moral education, the lesson of the story was not that the boy was punished for being previously caught in a lie (though that is a quaint interpretation), it was that he got screwed for misleading people. certainly brings into question your own beliefs on prevarication, and thusly… everything you ever have or ever will utter.

i shall certainly not give your “new” “plan” a chance. it was failed before it was begun.

if i were to suggest we put saddam back in power, and that you give it a chance, would you? that’s how moronic i find the current “plan.”

fortunately for you, i have no say in what is done. you win, we all lose.

now excuse me whilst i practice attempting to derive some minute degree of pleasure from the phrase, “i told you so.”

Posted by: diogenes at August 12, 2007 11:22 PM
Comment #229158

diogenes

The problem for our country is that the “boy” doesn’t get screwed. Our country is on the hook for it all. So your pleasure should be short if you care more about your country than you do about punishing the president for his mistakes.

We can make choices only in the present about thing that will happen in the future. The only criterion should be whether an action makes us better off. I perceive that we have an opportunity and that we can be better off if we do not declare defeat too soon.

Rocky

I think we are helping to dampen the violence. I think the prospects have improved in the past six months and that we should take advantage of the shift.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 11:43 PM
Comment #229160

Rocky,
Funny you should mention that, about the US military harming more than helping:

“There is growing disquiet, including within the military, that its presence is hindering rather than helping Iraq.”

This is from an article entitled:

“US ‘surge’ in Iraq ‘likely to fail’: British lawmakers “

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/iraqusbritainmilitary

Posted by: phx8 at August 13, 2007 12:02 AM
Comment #229161

this is a recurring theme with you, as though you were saying something new, that wasn’t patently obvious. ‘we are here now. not there then. and we must make choices here and now, rather than make choices in the past or future.’

thanks. now i understand the difference between the past, present, and future.

“The problem for our country is that the “boy” doesn’t get screwed. Our country is on the hook for it all.”

it almost sounds as though you’re getting it… and then, you’re gone again. the problem is that our fear-ful leader led us into a trap. rather than oust the ass and replace him with someone remotely resembling competent, you choose to go down with the ship, as it were. and worse, you wish us all to emulate you.

the problem is exactly that this pathetic, imbecilic, lying little… boy, has got the wolf devouring us all. and you wish us all to pay for his mistake, as if it were our fault we believed his devious lies. you would have the wolf devour the village to maintain the illusion of the boy’s innocence.

and he’s still spewing lies as he goes. but that’s ok by you, i know. you said as much in your prior post.

‘so long as you don’t get caught, you don’t get punished.’ that’s your morality, your code.

you claim my sole aim is to right the wrong that bush has done and see that he’s held accountable under the law (as if that were a contemptible goal) - the truth is, *your* goal is to *cover* up the lies, and claim that the wolf was always there - we just couldn’t see it because we, for some incomprehensible reason, want it to eat us.

“So your pleasure should be short if you care more about your country than you do about punishing the president for his mistakes.”

my loyalty is not in question here. mine is to america, yours is quite obviously to bush.

… what care have you shown for america recently? that this war has brought us to the breaking point? that far more have died in this war than by the alleged cause of it? by your account, it is clear that bush is the only one of us you are willing to defend.

my pleasure is taken only in the knowledge that you and yours will be shown for the …type of people… that you are, and that by this terrible tragedy we may never suffer the likes of you again.

Posted by: diogenes at August 13, 2007 12:13 AM
Comment #229162


Yes, we certainly are helping to dampen the violence. Last week it was announced that 190,000 Soviet style weapons, paid for by the American taxpayers just disappeared in Iraq.

This week, the Italian government announced that anti-mafia investigators had uncovered a 40 million dollar arms deal between members of the mafia and get this, representivatives of the Iraq Interior Ministry. The deal was for 100,000 Russian made ak-47’s. It is alleged that the deal was sanctioned by both the Iraq and American governments. However, the Associated Press anounced that the deal was made by Iraqi officials without the knowledge of the American Iraq command.

As of July 26, the United States has supplied 701,000 weapons to the Iraq army and police at a cost of 237 million dollars. Neighboring countries say that Iraq is swamped with weapons and they are spilling over their borders. I guess the American people should send over a few more planes filled with hundred dollar bills so the Iraqis can buy more weapons to furthur dampen the violence.

Posted by: jlw at August 13, 2007 12:23 AM
Comment #229167

diogenes

You dislike Bush. I understand. That makes no difference to the decision at hand. I believe our interests are better served by trying to take advantage of an opening we have in Iraq rather than declare defeat and quickly leave.

If you believe we are already defeated, we disagree. If you believe that we should quickly leave Iraq, we disagree. If you believe that we have a difficult way ahead, but that we have a chance to succeed in helping create a reasonably democratic & stable Iraq that is not a threat to its neighbors, we agree. I do not believe there are more any other major reasonable points of view. So which of these or which combination is what you believe? Simple question is what do we do now? Nothing else really matters very much, does it?

In this post and in my previous post on the similar subject, I did not defend president Bush. Bush will be out next year. He cannot run again and nobody from his administration is in the race. When he is gone, we will still be here and America will still be involved in Iraq. My purpose is to discuss choices that will help the U.S. get the best possible result in Iraq given our current situation.

Posted by: Jack at August 13, 2007 12:46 AM
Comment #229168

Meanwhile, it turns out the O’Hanlon/Pollack op-ed piece was the result of a staged tour, and O’Hanlon readily acknowledges it in an interview:

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/08/12/ohanlon-greenwald/

In an interview with the New Yorker, “Everywhere he went, the line Pollack heard was that the central government in Baghdad is broken and the only solutions that can work are local ones.”

So O’Hanlon & Pollack get a dog and pony show in Iraq, write their piece, and in classic echo chamber fashion, Cheney cites their op-ed piece from a staged tour as evidence things are going well:

“Look at the piece that appeared yesterday in The New York Times — not exactly a friendly publication — but a piece by Mr. O’Hanlon and Mr. Pollack on the situation in Iraq. They’re just back from visiting over there. They both have been strong critics of the war, both worked in the prior administration; but now saying that they think there’s a possibility, indeed, that we could be successful.”

And as I have proven in a previous thread, neither O’Hanlon nor Pollack are “strong critics of the war.” In fact, both have a long history of being cheerleaders for it. Cheney told a flat out lie.


Posted by: phx8 at August 13, 2007 12:47 AM
Comment #229169


“Simple question is what do we do now? Nothing else really matters very much, does it?

Jack: What we do now really doesn’t matter either unless you are willing to help get Bush impeached.

Posted by: jlw at August 13, 2007 12:53 AM
Comment #229178

phx8, yeah, Cheney is consistent. He lied about WMD and the al_Queda connection too! He even kept lying about it long after the lies were disproven. He is the best of Republican models, a person whose beliefs will not be shaken by proof, fact, or demonstration of reality. A model Republican.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 13, 2007 2:46 AM
Comment #229181

jlw

Hating Bush does nothing. Impeaching him is just silly. Even if you hate him and assume he is the problem, he will not be around that much longer. Impeaching takes more time than you have re Iraq.

Face the fact that you will never “get” George Bush in the way you want. He will leave office. That is what presidents do. Bush hatred is not very useful even now and in a very short time will be completely OBEd.

The question still remains about Iraq, what would you want to do? If you want to get out quick, how and what do you think is the likely result?

Posted by: Jack at August 13, 2007 7:42 AM
Comment #229194

“You dislike Bush. I understand. That makes no difference to the decision at hand.”

no, you misunderstand. i don’t trust bush, and that is due to the fact that he has proven himself untrustworthy and incompetent. that makes all the difference to the decision at hand… he should not be the one making it. if he were to actually defer judgment to those who are competent and trustworthy, then we might have a chance. failing that, we have none.

it’s not a matter of declaring defeat, it’s a matter of recognizing a failed policy. switch it now (actually switch it, don’t just rename it and double up efforts on it), and allow someone with some inkling of how to wage war draft the new plan.

then, and only then, may we still have some small chance of success. if it sounds rational, i might support it. keep bush as far from it as possible. his mere presence will tarnish the credibility of any new plan and anyone involved in it. that’s his fault, not mine.

it seems that you are more concerned with keeping up images than victory. you want to win? show that you are willing to do what it takes, whatever it takes, rather than continue to follow in lockstep with this failed administration.

Posted by: diogenes at August 13, 2007 10:25 AM
Comment #229199

Jack

The question still remains about Iraq, what would you want to do? If you want to get out quick, how and what do you think is the likely result?

What is so difficult about leaving. I would like to see us give notice to the Iraqi’s that we will be instituting a withdrawal within 6 months. A controlled but steady withdrawal. This will give time to allow any truly concerned countries to step in help out militarily and economically if indeed they deem Iraq to be that important to them. It will also give the Iraqi’s the motivation to help themselves. Why should they seriously pursue a direction when they have us to monitor their problems, fund their rebuilding, and supply arms to every pissed of radical Muslim in the region. As it stands our presence is doing nothing more than forestalling serious Iraqi commitment, fueling a civil war, supplying arms and energizing motivation for terrorist groups.

It is obvious that the desire of this administration is to establish a permanent presence in Iraq. It is also quite obvious that we are not welcome in the region. Do you honestly believe that we as a nation have the patience, funds, military personnel and the passion to outlast the duration of a civil war in order to establish a permanent presence. I don’t believe we do. We can not continue to endlessly require our troops to return to this hell hole. At some point, and it is approaching soon, there will no longer be enough troops to sustain the revolving door strategy of deployment. Are we ready to reestablish the draft? Are the wealthy of this country ready to watch their young ones be involuntarily sent off to war and die? Sorry Jack, but I don’t see it happening. The American people after four years are already at the breaking point with this conflict. A draft, years of military devotion and the prolonged massive funding necessary to sustain this conflict, at the expense of ignoring our domestic problems, simply are not worth the effort to pursue what is far from a sure bet. At some point we will have no choice but to let the cards lay where they fall and deal with the consequences. Nobody can predict with precision what those consequences will be. It will all depend on what approach the regional powers take once they are aware that we are serious about leaving.

Can you tell us with any confident precision why we should forestall the inevitable?

Posted by: RickIL at August 13, 2007 10:48 AM
Comment #229208

Jack

Most experts believe we cannot leave Iraq very soon w/o creating much worse results.

Maybe, but let’s not twist that into all experts saying we should stay and strategically invest. Most are talking about how to best leave as soon as possible.

Re draft - It IS primarily a Dem idea.

It’s commonsense that if we continue fighting indefinitely there will have to be a draft.

Re defeat - Some Dems believe we are defeated already.

So do a lot of Republicans. So do most people in general.

Re spending - if we were not spending in Iraq I do not believe we would just be spending it usefully in domestic things…. I have some experience with government budgets. Congress sometimes earmarks money. They toss it into a project or onto the bureaucracy.

One example of how you’re wrong: Money was earmarked to be spent on fixing the dams in New Orleans, and this money instead was spent on the war.

It is sort of like watering and fertilizing a plant. At some point, more manure will not make it grow faster and after that it will begin to do harm.

If our education and other programs were trees they would be dying of thirst.

Posted by: Max at August 13, 2007 12:06 PM
Comment #229218


Jack: I am under no illusion that Bush will be impeached. You are right, when this term is over, Bush and the boys will just wipe their hands and walk away to count their misgotten millions. Impeachment is the only way to obtain justice and it won’t happen.

“The question still remains about Iraq, what would you want to do? No Jack, this question does not still remain. Debating the Iraq issue is a waste of time. The President knows what I would do. For more than two years, Bush has known what the American people want to do about Iraq. He doesn’t give a damn. He is going th follow failure with failure until he leaves office.

Posted by: jlw at August 13, 2007 12:52 PM
Comment #229272

“If we pull out of Iraq now the country would be overrun! By Iraqis!”——-Mark Russell

Posted by: BillS at August 13, 2007 6:43 PM
Comment #229284

Diogenes

I support the changed strategy. It seems to be working. You guys wanted a change in strategy, leadership and implementation. You got it. If your only real goal was to get rid of the president, that is just something you cannot have.

I am not defending the president in this post. I am merely trying to avoid defeat or failing that mitigating its effects. I am concerned with the image only to the extent that it helps with this goal.

RickIl

You are honest. You want to get out. I believe that the dangers of leaving too soon or in the wrong way are greater than staying longer and trying to do it right. But we have an honest disagreement. I have given my reasons and linked to experts on this subject. I have nothing to add.

I agree with you re the fear that Americans will not have the patience to carry on. That is why Cordesman gave his essay the title that he did. I believe that we have to show some significant results soon. The American people are not fundamentally anti-war, but they are anti-defeat. They will support the war if they think there is a good chance of winning.

Max

I would like to leave as soon as possible too. The experts are all looking for ways to get out while achieving our goals. One of the big criticisms of Bush early on was that he was in too much of a hurry to get out and did not properly prepare for a longer term. Now the roles are reversed. I suspect if Bush called for a quick pull out, many Dems would be fretting about leaving too early.

BTW - what would be the Dem timetable for retreat?

Re draft - we want to draw down. We cannot maintain the surge levels, but we could maintain a presence for a long time if we had to w/o a draft. Draft produces lots of soldiers, but not so many good ones.

Do you have a link about that Dam in New Orleans? I have not heard of that. Besides, if you read what I write, you know that I do not think that investment in protecting the below sea level parts of New Orleans is a waste anyway.

Re education etc, we (the U.S.) spends more per pupil than almost any other country in the world. Interestingly, the worst school systems (such as DC or NYC) spend the most. We do not have a funding problem. We have a management problem. Throwing more money at the failed system seems to do more harm than good. There is no correlation at all between money spent per pupil and results. That is one of the big unmentionables in the education community, but study after study finds it is true.

Many things are exactly like my pine trees. They can only grow so fast and so high no matter how high we pile the manure.

How about an even better government analogy: vitamin C. Once you have enough, you just piss away the rest.

Jlw

Cheney already had millions before he got the job. Bush also is rich, although not as rich as guys like Kerry or Edwards. I doubt that making more money motivates them anymore. Money motivates people when they do not have much.

Personally, I like money. But there are many things that I would not do to make more. I am sure it is even more the case for rich guys like Bush and Cheney. If Bush et al were just in it for them money, there are lots of easier ways to make it. They took big pay cuts when they went to work for the USG.

Posted by: Jack at August 13, 2007 8:59 PM
Comment #229290

“It seems to be working.”

no, it really doesn’t. never has. but if you look long and hard enough, i bet you could find the upside of hell, too.

“You guys wanted a change in strategy, leadership and implementation. You got it. “

we got none of the above, as i’ve said over and over and over and over. your consistent answer? well you don’t answer, you just restate…

‘we changed strategy and leadership, and it looks like it’s working, we need more time.’

rinse, wash, repeat.

Posted by: diogenes at August 13, 2007 9:14 PM
Comment #229291

diogenes

We both just repeat. We see things differently. If you cannot see the change in strategy, I cannot show it to you. For you it is exactly as before? There is none so blind…

Posted by: Jack at August 13, 2007 9:18 PM
Comment #229292

uh… lather, rinse, repeat. whichever. you’re hopeless. i’m done.

Posted by: diogenes at August 13, 2007 9:19 PM
Comment #229336


Jack: I doubt if anyone wants to be president for the salary. But, neither Bush or Cheney are taking a pay cut. You don’t hand out the taxpayers money in the form of no bid contracts to your frends without expecting something in return. It does take quite a lot of money these days to build and maintain a political dynasty, just ask your candidate Romney.

Bush and Cheney didn’t go into Iraq for the money. Nor did they do it because Sadam was a grave threat to the United States or even because terrorists were a grave threat. They did it because of their Pax Americana ideology which is a grave threat to America.

Only a true believer can shut his eyes to the lies and rationalize progress in the midst of chaos.

Posted by: jlw at August 14, 2007 1:23 AM
Comment #229339

Max,

I suspect if Bush called for a quick pull out, many Dems would be fretting about leaving too early.

If he unilaterally made a boneheaded plan to pull out than yes, but he refuses to even talk about how to pull out.

Re draft - …we could maintain a presence for a long time if we had to w/o a draft.

Well, I guess you could stay until every penny was drained from this country, but I doubt that would be that long a time.

Do you have a link about that Dam in New Orleans? I have not heard of that.

2004: Army Corps Warned Of A Levee Breach. In 2004 Corps’ project manager Al Naomi noted, “When levees are below grade, as ours are in many spots right now, they’re more vulnerable to waves pouring over them and degrading them… We’re not below storm-surge elevation yet, but we will be if we stop raising our levees as they subside.” [New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6/8/04]

2004: Emergency Management Official Said Levees Couldn’t Be Finished Because Money Diverted To Iraq. IIn June of 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish told the Times-Picayune: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.” [Editor and Publisher, 8/31/05]

2004: Bush Funding Cuts Stopped Necessary Construction On Levees. Until 2004, construction on the Lake Pontchartain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Project, the levee system whose failure cause the massive flooding, had been ongoing for 37 years. But due do lack of funding from the Bush Administration, construction was halted in 2004. [Knight-Ridder, 8/31/05; New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6/8/04; New Orleans City Business, 6/6/05]

Besides, if you read what I write, you know that I do not think that investment in protecting the below sea level parts of New Orleans is a waste anyway.

I think you meant to say is a waste? How could it have been a waste when an ounce of prevention could have stopped that hundred billion dollar disaster that killed thousands of people?

Re education etc, we (the U.S.) spends more per pupil than almost any other country in the world. Interestingly, the worst school systems (such as DC or NYC) spend the most. We do not have a funding problem. We have a management problem.

Of course there are management problems. We spend more on healthcare as well. Just because the system is screwed up doesn’t mean money isn’t needed for drug research, equipment, etc. It can probably be done better and cheaper, but well spent funding will always be a part of the equasion. If you had ever visited a public inner-city New York school, you would know that not one dime of the money you are talking about is reaching those kids. Either fund them somehow or figure out the management problem or do a little of both.

Btw, do you apply your theory of after a certain point more money doesn’t help to this war? Are you on board with cutting funding immediately?

Posted by: Max at August 14, 2007 2:09 AM
Comment #229347

Jlw

I believe Saddam was a menace. I agree in broad outlines that we went into Iraq as part of what you want to call Pax Americana. It might have been an overstretch, but attempts to shore up world and U.S. security are not bad things and not corrupt or craven. You may disagree with the effectiveness of even the possibility, but I think you have come around to the truth that Bush entered the war with noble goals and for noble reasons. The argument should be whether his goals and reasons were possible to attain.

Max

Re education funding. I agree that the all money spend is not reaching the kids. That is the point. It is poorly managed. Giving these guys more money would not get more money to the kids. Many less funded school systems do a much better job. Money does not buy happiness for individuals nor good management for government institutions. More money thrown into failing schools will only enable the bad managers to make them worse.

Re New Orleans - we should not be doing all that work in Louisiana. We spend lots of money there and each fix requires other fixes. Our efforts have destroyed wetlands and contributed to the destruction. We have allowed and encouraged people to build homes and businesses in places that are naturally unstable and wet. The problem was so bad in New Orleans not in SPITE of, but BECAUSE of our best efforts. Spending more w/o a basic change in philosophy will only make the situation even worse faster.

Posted by: Jack at August 14, 2007 8:15 AM
Comment #229355

Jack,

“I agree in broad outlines that we went into Iraq as part of what you want to call Pax Americana. It might have been an overstretch, but attempts to shore up world and U.S. security are not bad things and not corrupt or craven.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BEsZMvrq-I

Apparently in 1994 Cheney thought going into Baghdad and deposing Saddam would lead to America being stuck in a quagmire.

Go figure.

Posted by: Rocky at August 14, 2007 10:19 AM
Comment #229363

Jack,

Re education funding. I agree that the all money spend is not reaching the kids. That is the point. It is poorly managed.

No argument that this money is being spent poorly, but doesn’t mean funding is not a part of fixing schools. I think our disagreement is that I would like to see better management and more money spent on schools. On the other hand, I am horrified by what we’ve spent on this war. You seem to think America has bottomless pockets in this regard, which I find a little strange. Education is pebble next to the mountain of debt incurred by Iraq.

The problem was so bad in New Orleans not in SPITE of, but BECAUSE of our best efforts. Spending more w/o a basic change in philosophy will only make the situation even worse faster.

I disagree. The necessary fixes for the dams were in plan, and therefore manageable and predicted. It was not a case of best effort; it was a case of neglect due to the need to pay for the war. The gamble did not pay off, and now we are paying in spades, not to mention the horror of the catastrophe. Again, it seems odd to me that your solution is to walk away and do nothing in these cases, especially in light of this post, where you are asking people not to do that in a situation many feel has been given it’s due and proven hopeless.

Posted by: Max at August 14, 2007 10:58 AM
Comment #229402

Jack and miscellaneous hangers-on to the Iraq theory of progress…………….
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070814/ts_nm/iraq_bombings_dc_2;_ylt=Aqkn7YhnkSKbJ7ZMtR4DisIE1vAI
“Todays death toll highest since November”…per MSNBC news.
Go on Jack, and tell us more about how good the surge effort is, and will be….. Do you happen to have within yourself a number…a death toll, that when reached, you will give up your insatiable need to stay in Iraq, and the perception that it is working ???????

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 14, 2007 5:37 PM
Comment #229420

Sandra

Do you believe the Iraqi death toll will go down if the U.S. makes a quick exit? If you were one of the bad guys, what do you think you would be trying to do right now?

Posted by: Jack at August 14, 2007 8:47 PM
Comment #229442
Do you believe the Iraqi death toll will go down if the U.S. makes a quick exit? If you were one of the bad guys, what do you think you would be trying to do right now?
No Jack…I don’t, since the prevailing opinion is that this is a civil war ! And our pulling out is not going to have an immediate impact on that, but our military will be coming home and not remaining as prime targets for the insurgents and many of the residents. They don’t want us there, Jack…..they want us to get out of their country and their business, and strange, but that opinion seems to coincide with a prdominance of what people here feel,too. Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 14, 2007 11:58 PM
Comment #229470

Jack asked: “Do you believe the Iraqi death toll will go down if the U.S. makes a quick exit?”

Are you arguing Jack, that the U.S. has an obligation to enter any nation in which conflict occurs and lives are lost which can be reduced by the sacrifice of our own soldiers and treasure? That is implied by your question’s rationale for staying in Iraq. By that rationale we are remiss for not invading Sudan, Ethiopia, Liberia, Chechnya, and Rwanda. Your question to Sandra belies a contradiction in your own standards for foreign policy and rationale for staying in Iraq, I suspect.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2007 3:28 AM
Comment #229472

Max, you make a great point. The first and primary need for many poor quality schools is security and policing. Learning cannot take place in a climate of fear. At least not academic learning. And attitudes toward learning and teachers won’t be positive if young students must wade through a sea of criminal elements and bad influence on the way to and from school and in their neighborhoods, with all manner of drop outs enticing them with much faster rewards for effort, and security in belonging to the gang.

Quality education is predicated on a number of preconditions which must first be met, like nutrition, rest, discipline, positive role models encouraging education, and security from coercion and enticement by those who hold nothing but contempt for education. These are the issues America must first address with tax dollars and policy before investments in school classrooms can achieve the desired and expected result.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2007 3:35 AM
Comment #229475

David & Sandra

My point is very specific re Iraqi deaths. Some people are mixing their arguments. If the argument is strictly to avoid American casulties, you can advocate a pull out. I do not happen to think it will lead to fewer American deaths in the long run, but that is an arguement for a different place.

What you cannot do is use Iraqi deaths as an arguement for U.S. withdrawal. It is very likely that more Iraqis will die is we make a quick retreat.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2007 8:08 AM
Comment #229501

Okay Jack, so throw the onus back here…I’ll take it. The bottom line is, you can’t have it both ways…..and either way, we lose!!! We are there now serving no aparant greater purpose than target practice. “When the Iraquis stand up, we will stand down”….but that isn’t frikkin’ happening! So are we now designated as nothing but shields for the do-thing Iraquis? You know, I’m sorry that Iraquis are dying, but I’ll be a cold, insensitive bitch and say that I care a lot more for our military!! It is past time for them to start coming home….period.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 15, 2007 1:16 PM
Comment #229558

“We are there now serving no aparant greater purpose than target practice.”

…that, or the neocon version of population control.

Posted by: diogenes at August 15, 2007 11:05 PM
Comment #229657

Top general may propose pullbacks


Administration and military officials acknowledge that the September report will not show any significant progress on the political benchmarks laid out by Congress. How to deal in the report with the lack of national reconciliation between Iraq’s warring sects has created some tension within the White House.

Despite Bush’s repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

During internal White House discussion of a July interim report, some officials urged the administration to claim progress in policy areas such as legislation to divvy up Iraq’s oil revenue, even though no final agreement had been reached. Others argued that such assertions would be disingenuous.
“There were some in the drafting of the report that said, ‘Well, we can claim progress,’ ” the administration official said. “There were others who said: ‘Wait a second. Sure we can claim progress, but it’s not credible to … just neglect the fact that it’s had no effect on the ground.’ “
Posted by: womanmarine at August 16, 2007 4:16 PM
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