Third Party & Independents Archives

Stay the course? What course?

The President recently told us that as long as he’s president we’ll be staying in Iraq until the job is done, thus again telling us to support staying the course. You have to ask yourself though exactly what course is he talking about (course differentiated from plan) — the current one that seems to be an irreversible sink hole or a plan yet unstated to alter the current course. I have to say that either would be a breath of fresh air — a stated course or plan, or something that at least seems thought out and has a chance of working.

I've stated before that while I've always been dead set against going into Iraq from the beginning, it is a mess we're responsible for fixing and that leaving before it's fixed would have grave consequences. Yes, hard to believe graver consequences are possible. But in recent weeks I'm beginning to rethink that position (gee, what a novel idea...rethinking positions as circumstances warrant) and am getting closer and closer to feeling that we're headed toward the graver consequences whether we have our troops there getting killed and injured or not.

"Well, then you're just telling the terrorists 'we quit and you win.'" Exactly what terrorists might that be; an insurgency upset that we're there or those fighting a religious civil war? Am I the only one sick and tired of being told anyone who fights against what we (careful with that "we," Zeb) want is a terrorist? Think for yourself for once and ask yourself why that's the word of choice from this administration to describe seemingly any enemy, any combatant, any disagreer. We had the Secretary of Defense recently imply that those of us who are against this "war on terrorism" are akin to Nazi sympathizers; and the President, though in softer terms, echoed that sentiment. Well, if you put those things together, are we not far from being told that we who oppose them are the enemy?

Then you have the likes of Ken Mehlman on Hardball the other night making the case that we need to stay in Iraq because Ayman al-Zawahiri has said al Qaeda wants to turn Iraq into another Afghanistan with training bases. If you nut jobs hadn't invaded Iraq and opened it up like a can of worms, we wouldn't be worried about them setting up training bases there. This kind of backwards, fill-in-the-blanks-later, illogical, keep-our-butts-in-office-at-any-cost rhetoric is what peeves me off more than anything.
You bungled a mission that you cherry-picked the evidence to support, and then your reason for staying there is essentially "We screwed it up so bad we have to stay to keep the terrorists out, and you have to reelect us because we're the party that'll keep you safe." Safer? I don't feel safer. "Well, we haven't been attacked since 9/11." Gee, I forgot it was an everyday thing before 9/11.

You want to make me feel safer? How about you deal with al Qaeda, bin Laden, The Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. There's a course, nay a plan, I could support.

Posted by Zeb Pike at September 7, 2006 12:00 PM
Comments
Comment #179604

Zeb,

Absolutely right on. Great Post.

I think we’re gonna be embroiled in conflict with radical islam factions for some time to come. How we respond to this will be a critical success factor going forward.

Iraq was a war/incursion/occupation of choice. We knew that going in. What we’ve done now is gotten ourselves involved in a situation that has made the overall middle east less stable as a result. We’re seeing the fruits of these actions start to emerge with Afghanistan starting to go sour again. Iraq was a mistake. It’s time for us to admit it, get the Iraqi military as trained and ready to assume responsibility for the country as possible and get the hell out of there. There are going to be more battles for us to fight and they won’t be in Iraq.

Posted by: Dennis at September 7, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #179608

Zeb - if you think our war in Iraq stirred up the radical islamists, and destablized the region, you are mistaken. And, if you think we are not dealing with the other threats - NK, Iran, Osama, etc., by prosecuting this war, you are mistaken.

We could withdraw into- or have stayed within - a shell, and hope they could be reasoned with and would go away. How would that work? Well, not too good, as history demonstrates time and again.

Posted by: Seminole 6 at September 7, 2006 1:25 PM
Comment #179610

Seminole, why on earth are those the only options (I advocate neither)? Because a ration middle doesn’t support what’s already being and been done.

And please enlighten me (trust me, I have an open mind and always want to learn) how prosecuting this war of liberation in Iraq deals with North Korea or Osama or Iran.

Again, how about if we didn’t go into Iraq but stayed until the job was finished in Afghanistan, since that most certainly was the center of al Qaeda and bin Laden, thus the center of the war on terror and those who attacked us? I spent 8 years in the Marines; it’s not necessarily my nature to go into a shell and hope the enemy leaves me alone. But I’m not going to attack something that wasn’t my enemy, thus turning my back on my enemy.

Posted by: Zebster at September 7, 2006 1:36 PM
Comment #179611

Yes, I think the war stirred up the radical islamists and destabilized the reqion. No, I do not believe we are adequately dealing with other threats. Any reason we should believe contrary to what’s going on in front of our eyes? Iraq was less of a threat and would have remained so had we not invaded.

Posted by: Max at September 7, 2006 1:36 PM
Comment #179616
This kind of backwards, fill-in-the-blanks-later, illogical, keep-our-butts-in-office-at-any-cost rhetoric is what peeves me off more than anything.

Yeah, it’s sad. We have to parse and dissect everything to see the obvious motivations. I wonder if Bush is now going to reveal that WMD really was found in Iraq (not just a few drums of mustard gas, and no way to deliver it, etc.).

Entering Iraq was either:

  • based on a lie about WMD and the threats.

  • Or, an honest mistake (i.e. massive negligence and incompetence).
Either way, it was a mistake. Take your pick. Lies or incompetence (or maybe a little of both).

Afterward, the case is being made that war in Iraq is making us safer. That is extremely weak, if not just plain wrong. It overlooks the possibility that it made things worse (and less safe), since most other nations now know there really was no WMD (nothing of significance; not even forensic evidence of anything of significance), we were mistaken about that, and that may be creating increased worldwide hatred. Abu Graib, secret CIA prisons, torture (just ask Spc. Sean Baker about that), and war crimes don’t help, but that’s what happens in war, and all the more reason to make damn sure the reasons for starting it are accurate and justifiable.

The sad part is, now that we screwed up, do we have a moral obligation to make Iraq safe? Maybe, but we have done enough, and it is time to start leaving. Otherwise, it is “nation building” and that is a misuse of the military.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 7, 2006 1:51 PM
Comment #179617
Max wrote: Yes, I think the war stirred up the radical islamists and destabilized the reqion
I agree, and the justification is highly questionable, since there was no WMD of any significance.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at September 7, 2006 1:53 PM
    Comment #179619

    Zeb - if you think our war in Iraq stirred up the radical islamists, and destablized the region, you are mistaken. And, if you think we are not dealing with the other threats - NK, Iran, Osama, etc., by prosecuting this war, you are mistaken.

    We could withdraw into- or have stayed within - a shell, and hope they could be reasoned with and would go away. How would that work? Well, not too good, as history demonstrates time and again.

    Posted by: Seminole 6 at September 7, 2006 01:25 PM
    —————————

    Ok, please explain to me how 150k soldiers bogged down in Iraq and attempting to qwell sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni militia’s is dealing with other threats like Osama, North Korea and Iran. I just don’t see it.

    As potrayed in yesterday’s news about Pakistan pulling back from Waziristan and essentially yielding this region to the Taliban, our efforts and focus on Iraq have allowed the Taliban to gain strength in not only Afghanistan, but now Pakistan as well. I don’t see how this is progress.

    Posted by: Dennis at September 7, 2006 1:58 PM
    Comment #179618

    Good Post Zeb, and I don’t think Seminole is going to answer your reply. Looks like he comes from that state that is run by another bush.

    Most republicans seem to think Iraq is the front for war on Terror but all it is now, is a civil war that we are in the middle of. Stay the course, sounds like the same bs as during Nam.

    You know bush says we are going to stay there as long as he is in office, well hopefully only a couple more years of his bs. I wonder if it is so important and the military is looking for people, why doesn’t his daughters join up, show the rest of the country how patriot they are, and sign up for duty in Iraq. Yeah right they are probably drinking and have a good time, like their daddy did.

    Posted by: KT at September 7, 2006 1:58 PM
    Comment #179626

    Nice post, Zeb. It amazes me how Bush and the GOP maintain that they are the party that will keep our country safer when they no longer care about going after bin Laden, as Bush has stated. Utter incomptetence.

    Further, this administration fails to realize that we will never win the war against terror through purely military means. Radical Islamist terrorism is based on religious ideologies, not political platforms or governmental hatred. What’s more, those who cry jihad are not afraid to die. They want to die. In this regard, military force alone is not a strong enough deterrent. That’s this administration’s first of many mistakes in fighting a war we cannot win if all we do is “stay the course.”

    Stay the course is a slogan, not a plan. And you are correct in noting that their slogan has increased, not decreased, the level of threat among radical Islamists. Earlier this week, CNN had a report from Iraq, where over 2,000 civilians were signing up as volunteer suicide bombers. Would thay have had that story to report on had we not invaded Iraq unnecessarily? I think not. 2+ more years of this idiocy is almost too much to bear.

    Posted by: Mister Magoo at September 7, 2006 2:23 PM
    Comment #179629

    I think we can rely on the Pakistani military to bring in OBL.

    Oh damn…. never mind.

    Posted by: tony at September 7, 2006 2:25 PM
    Comment #179631

    Zeb,

    I agree. The mess in Iraq is a major problem. Unfortunatly I don’t see a way out. The three ethnic groups are not going to come to a comprimise. No matter how long we stay there, we will never be able to stop some sort of civil war from starting as soon as we do leave. If we stay indefinitly, we take the chance of alienating more of the people due to “occupation”. I’m starting to see this as a no win situation and we will not be able to regain the trust of middle eastern countries for a long time. Not that many trusted us to begin with.

    Posted by: Dwayne at September 7, 2006 2:34 PM
    Comment #179633

    Spot on, Zeb. Well done.

    Posted by: Adrienne at September 7, 2006 2:50 PM
    Comment #179634

    Dennis,
    Yep, add Pakistan to the list of worries … largely a result of losing focus on Afghanistan.

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 7, 2006 2:53 PM
    Comment #179646

    This just in from Lou Dobbs:

    Citizens of 27 countries are able to enter the United States
    with just their passports – no prescreening or scrutiny from
    consular officials. Terrorists Richard Reid and Zacarious
    Moussaoui are perhaps the most famous terrorists to exploit the
    Visa Waiver Program, but recent terror arrests in Denmark and
    Britain again raise concerns about how easily it is for
    terrorists to come to this country. How vulnerable are we?
    We’ll have that report tonight.
    —-

    Gosh. Those Republicans really ARE good at protecting us!

    Posted by: Mister Magoo at September 7, 2006 3:45 PM
    Comment #179659

    Zeb - KT - Dennis - Suppose the Taliban and Saddam were still in power in Afghanistan and Iraq and Al Qaeda was not in hiding. Do you really think they would stay home and hate us from across the world? Or would they be inundating us with suicide bombers, smuggling nukes, blowing up schools?

    I think that history tells us that evil will spread. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, et. al., wanted to rule the world did they not? Well, so do the present evildoers.

    Better to preempt, which is what we have done in large measure. Iran and NK know that we will fight when necessary and they are unsure because of it. Osama? Marginalized and isolated at least - what would he be doing if he had free rein? Take away their funding, training bases, stand up a (relatively, I will admit) free country in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula - that is worth doing.

    Maybe I am wrong, there is that possibility, but I think we will always disagree on the worth of the GWOT.

    Posted by: Seminole 6 at September 7, 2006 4:30 PM
    Comment #179669

    Seminole, first, I’m not sure why I’m being asked to suppose we didn’t go into Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda and bin Laden. We should have and did, though I feel we left too early and didn’t finish the job.
    I feel al Qaeda is the enemy and that Iraq had no correlation to that enemy…only now after the Iraq war do the two have any relationship.
    Rule the world? Not sure I agree that’s their motive but their motive is irrelevant…they are the enemy.
    I don’t necessarily disagree with being preemptive; but if you understand that I’ve always felt Iraq had nothing to do with 9/ll, et al, then you’ll understand why I disagree with this particular preemptive measure.
    I think this administration has done some good things in the war on terror that any administration should have done, and there have been results. I don’t agree that Iraq is a part of that, quite to the contrary and that’s why I’m not convinced we’re safer.
    Their motives IMO were to set up that free nation in the Arabian Peninsula in the hopes it would make a huge difference in the reason. I’ve never thought it would work and still don’t. I would’ve disagreed if they’d stated that was their motive at the outset (which again, I firmly believe it was) but at least they’d have credibility.

    Posted by: Zebster at September 7, 2006 5:13 PM
    Comment #179672

    Seminole 6, Perhaps had our focus been on securing our borders and not on a grudge match with Saddam, the terrorist would not have been able to gain acess to this Country and do it harm. The recent plot in Britain causes one to think that perhaps the terrorist are not fooled by us being in Iraq and will continue to target the “Homeland” for attack.

    Posted by: j2t2 at September 7, 2006 5:26 PM
    Comment #179678

    “Suppose the Taliban and Saddam were still in power in Afghanistan and Iraq and Al Qaeda was not in hiding.”

    OK - except for Saddam being replaced with a pro-Iranian leader… this is all pretty much the case, right?

    Posted by: tony at September 7, 2006 6:20 PM
    Comment #179680

    Maybe I am wrong, there is that possibility, but I think we will always disagree on the worth of the GWOT.
    ——————-

    Seminole, yes, we disagree on this. I also would contend that we aren’t in a global war on terror so much as a global war to protect our economic interests. I don’t see that label as very sexy, so o.k., let’s talk about GWOT.

    We’re focused on Iraq primarily. What’s happened in Iraq is a strengthening of Shia militants who will cozy up to Iran. Someone posted before on the ethnic difference between Persians and Arabs and said this wouldn’t last. I don’t buy that for a minute. This level of religious secterianism (is that a word?) has over-shadowed ethnicity.

    What I believe has happened is we’ve for all intensive purposes abandoned Afghanistan in an attempt to pacify Iraq and establish a beach head against the radical islam movement that people like Al-Sadr are espousing. This isn’t a “war on terror”, it’s a containment strategy to quiet down the region and keep the oil flowing.

    If we had a true war on terror, which I think you can’t, because you can’t have a war on a tactic, we’d be in Sri Lanka fighting the Tamil Tigers and in Indonesia fighting the Islamic radicals there. We’d be rooting out the next generation of “Timothy McVeigh’s” in this country (there here, I promise you).

    Terrorism is a tactic used by groups who typically aren’t statists, but focused on something like religion or ethnic differences.

    As to Osama made marginal, why does the media and the administration still have him as the “poster boy” for terrorism if he is so marginal?

    It seems to me we need to take a page from the Israeli handbook and put together a small squad of special forces to go find Osama and bring his head out on a platter. That would be a blow to the Islamic radicals because their godfather would have been caught.

    A fight against someone like Saddam had no effect on staunching terrorism. It in fact enabled terrorism as a tactic to flourish inside Iraq.

    This whole adventure is upside down. You don’t fight a war on terrorism, you fight people who use terrorist tactics. Today, that’s radical muslims. Thirty years ago, it was Bader Meinhof, the Red Brigade, the IRA and Black September.

    Tomorrow, who knows? Perhaps it’s the drug cartels in Columbia and Mexico. Anyone who uses terror to attempt to achieve there objectives is by definition a terrorist. We don’t have a war on terrorism. We are fighting radical muslims. Interestingly enough the most radical of these seem to come from our allies in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When do we invade those countries?

    Posted by: Dennis at September 7, 2006 6:37 PM
    Comment #179683

    “Interestingly enough the most radical of these seem to come from our allies in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When do we invade those countries?”

    How’s next Tuesday for you?

    Posted by: Tim Crow at September 7, 2006 7:08 PM
    Comment #179695

    Zeb, I mostly agree except I just think Israel should fight it’s own wars and so should China and Japan. Why do we have troops in S. Korea for the last 60 years? Is that the plan in Iraq? How does that serve America? Does it stop the dominos? Puuullease!!!!

    Bin Laden, Afghanistan and Pakistan, I understand.

    Energy independance I understand. If we are securing oil, why haven’t we attained the oil output of pre-war Iraq? Is Kuwait paying it’s share? How about Saudi Arabia?

    Posted by: gergle at September 7, 2006 8:10 PM
    Comment #179709

    Zeb, great post.

    Dwayne said: “The mess in Iraq is a major problem. Unfortunatly I don’t see a way out.”

    This is how discombobultated our leadership makes our thinking. The way out is easy, withdraw. It really is that simple. We can decide before or after we exit how much and what kind of logistical and border support we can give the country. But, the way out, is to just vacate the boundaries of Iraq.

    See, that was simple. Too simple, that is why the administration and pundits want to confuse the hell out of the situation, lest the public recognize the obvious.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 7, 2006 9:56 PM
    Comment #179714

    Seminole there is no evident that Al Qaeda was in Iraq and that they were working with Saddam. If bush would have used the resources to go after Osama I think that the majority of Americans would have stood behind bush, but he lied to the people of the US when he said Saddam had WMD, was working with Osama. If he was so worried about WMD then he should have went after Iran or N. Korea. Now he is just brushing aside Osama as not important, yet his own Generals are saying we need more troops in Afganistan.
    We are now involved in the middle of a Civil War in Iraq and no matter how long we stay, when we leave the warring parties will go at it. It takes more then a few year to change centuries of ill feelings between people.
    We are not the police of the world, we can not make everyone be like us or like us and we (US) should not force our way of life and government onto others.

    Posted by: KT at September 7, 2006 10:39 PM
    Comment #180494

    Zeb,

    Great article. Enjoyed your sense of humor… You are coming to the same place that I have gotten to. I was also opposed to the war from the start, but thought that it was important for an imperial power such as ourselves to win the wars that we get into. Losing will embolden our enemies. As I have said before: Elections have consequences. Wars have consequences too. When you elect an idiot gunslinger; you lose wars. Our enemies will know that we can be beaten. Our friends will know that they cannot depend on us. The terrorist will have a safe haven (now they have a safe haven and a live combat training ground against the most powerful army in the world - priceless). But when you have lost, you have lost. To bury your head up inside of the deep dark sand and continue to fight a lost cause just to protect the President’s legacy is not going to change reality. We have lost. The consequences are bad, but will only get worse the longer that we stay in denial about reality.

    Posted by: Ray Guest at September 11, 2006 4:18 PM
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