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Author Topic: Senate Adopts 'Exit Strategy' From Reality
Daruma28
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Senate Adopts 'Exit Strategy' From Reality
November 20, 2005
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

The Money Quote:

quote:


Last week, the Republican majority, to their disgrace and with 13 honorable exceptions, passed an amendment calling on the administration to lay out its "plan" for "ending" the war and withdrawing U.S. troops. They effectively signed on to the Democrat framing of the debate: that the only thing that matters is the so-called exit strategy. The only difference between Bill Frist's mushy Republicans and Harry Reid's shameless Democrats is that the latter want to put a firm date on withdrawal, so that Zarqawi's insurgents can schedule an especially big car bomb to coincide with the formal handover of the Great Satan's cojones.

"Exit strategy" is a defeatist's term. The only exit strategy that matters was summed up by George M. Cohan in the song the Doughboys sang as they marched off to the Great War nine decades ago:

"And we won't come back

Till it's over

Over there!"


And that's the timetable, too. If you want it fleshed out a bit, how about this? "The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.'' That's Goh Chok Tong speaking in Washington last year. Unfortunately, he's not a U.S. senator, but the prime minister of Singapore, and thus ineligible to run, on the grounds that he's not a citizen of Blowhardistan. What does the Senate's revolting amendment tell America's enemies (Zarqawi) and "friends" (Chirac) about her will to prevail?

Whether you are for the war or against it; for Bush or against him, we are there. How we finish it will have far reaching consequences for decades to come. The only relevant question we as American people should be dealing with is achieving victory.

Enough of the defeatist rhetoric of Murtha, the DailyKos/DU/MoveOn Democrats and weak-kneed, public opinon poll worrying Republicans.

Enough with crying over how or why the milk was spilled...we need to just worry about cleaning it up.

Unless it is your desire for America to be greatly weakened, lose superpower status and becoming isolationists, there should be no debate on how we finish this war in Iraq specifically and how we finish the war on Islamic Extremists.

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Daruma28
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More from Ralph Peters, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who served in infantry and intelligence units before becoming a Foreign Area Officer and a global strategic scout for the Pentagon. He has published three books on strategy and military affairs, as well as hundreds of columns for the New York Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and other publications:

quote:
QUIT. It's that simple. There are plenty of more complex ways to lose a war, but none as reliable as just giving up.

Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can't win the game if you walk off the field at half-time. That's precisely what the Democratic Party wants America to do in Iraq. Forget the fact that we've made remarkable progress under daunting conditions: The Dems are looking to throw the game just to embarrass the Bush administration.

Forget about the consequences. Disregard the immediate encouragement to the terrorists and insurgents to keep killing every American soldier they can. Ignore what would happen in Iraq - and the region - if we bail out. And don't mention how a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower, the champ who knocked out Uncle Sam in the third round.

Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media. After all, one way to create the kind of disaffection in the ranks that the Dems' leaders yearn to see is to tell our troops on the battlefield that they're risking their lives for nothing, we're throwing the game.

Forget that our combat veterans are re-enlisting at remarkable rates - knowing they'll have to leave their families and go back to war again. Ignore the progress on the ground, the squeezing of the insurgency's last strongholds into the badlands on the Syrian border. Blow off the successive Iraqi elections and the astonishing cooperation we've seen between age-old enemies as they struggle to form a decent government.

Just set a time-table for our troops to come home and show the world that America is an unreliable ally with no stomach for a fight, no matter the stakes involved. Tell the world that deserting the South Vietnamese and fleeing from Somalia weren't anomalies - that's what Americans do.


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Wayward Son
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I hate to admit it, but I agree with you completely, Daruma. We broke it, we own it. We have to fix it before we leave.

The only quibble I have is what is meant by "victory." Obviously, we all ready won the war against the Iraqi government, but that was a given even before the war. So what constitutes a stable Iraq?

A government that stands up for a week? A month? A year? Do we keep troops in there until that time period is up? Do we keep troops in there forever? Will victory ever be obtained?

I would like to see the markers, the conditions when we start withdrawing troops, to the point when we completely withdraw and Iraq is on it's own. And I'd like to see it within a few years. Because I have an eight year old boy, and I don't want to see him drafted and sent to Iraq because of some mistake that Bush made. That would really piss me off. [Mad]

Let's see the reasonable plan and some idea how long it will take.

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Daruma28
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You see Wayward, that's the whole point, to reiterate Steyn's point:

"The only difference between Bill Frist's mushy Republicans and Harry Reid's shameless Democrats is that the latter want to put a firm date on withdrawal, so that Zarqawi's insurgents can schedule an especially big car bomb to coincide with the formal handover of the Great Satan's cojones."

Whatever Bush has gotten right or gotten wrong, I do think he's got this much right at least: as the Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down.

That's the only possible timetable we SHOULD put out.

Wayward, if we do retreat in Iraq, and it falls to the extremists, your son may very well be drafted to fight Islamic Extremists somewhere else in the future if Bush DOES fold to the domestic pressure and make the horrendous mistake of cutting and running now.

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Digger
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"Obviously, we all ready won the war against the Iraqi government, but that was a given even before the war. So what constitutes a stable Iraq?"

I've always maintained that when the Iraqi government asks us to leave, it's time to go. A counterargument to that idea is that the government may never ask us to leave, but I think they will. I think the majority of Iraqis see us as an occupying force, albeit a benevolent one. No Iraqi government will be able to claim legitimacy among its people until the US is out of the picture. So, it is in their best interests to get us out, but not until they can handle things themselves.

Since we want the same things in this regard, it shouldn't be too hard to work out a timeline that we can both live with.

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Daruma28
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More analysis from Peters:

quote:

While we're at it, let's just print up recruiting posters for the terrorists, informing the youth of the Middle East that Americans are cowards who can be attacked with impunity.

This will be the inevitable outcome of a cut and run. It's sickening to see the Democrat party embrace the partisan concerns at the expense of all else.

quote:
The irresponsibility of the Democrats on Capitol Hill is breathtaking. (How can an honorable man such as Joe Lieberman stay in that party?) Not one of the critics of our efforts in Iraq - not one - has described his or her vision for Iraq and the Middle East in the wake of a troop withdrawal. Not one has offered any analysis of what the terrorists would gain and what they might do. Not one has shown respect for our war dead by arguing that we must put aside our partisan differences and win.

There's plenty I don't like about the Bush administration. Its domestic policies disgust me, and the Bushies got plenty wrong in Iraq. But at least they'll fight. The Dems are ready to betray our troops, our allies and our country's future security for a few House seats.

Surrender is never a winning strategy.

Yes, we've been told lies about Iraq - by Dems and their media groupies. About conditions on the ground. About our troops. About what's at stake. About the consequences of running away from the great struggle of our time. About the continuing threat from terrorism. And about the consequences for you and your family.

What do the Democrats fear? An American success in Iraq. They need us to fail, and they're going to make us fail, no matter the cost. They need to declare defeat before the 2006 mid-term elections and ensure a real debacle before 2008 - a bloody mess they'll blame on Bush, even though they made it themselves.

We won't even talk about the effect quitting while we're winning in Iraq might have on the go-to-war calculations of other powers that might want to challenge us in the future. Let's just be good Democrats and prove that Osama bin Laden was right all along: Americans have no stomach for a fight.

As for the 2,000-plus dead American troops about whom the lefties are so awfully concerned? As soon as we abandon Iraq, they'll forget about our casualties quicker than an amnesiac forgets how much small-change he had in his pocket.

If we run away from our enemies overseas, our enemies will make their way to us. Quit Iraq, and far more than 2,000 Americans are going to die.


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Adjudicator
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No political leader can maintain popularity for long in the face of constant revelations from media sources. The power of the mass media to sway opinion is too strong. The ability of the government to keep secrets is too weak. Any long term project will undoubtedly have its share of mistakes, and the problem is that we, the public will end up knowing about most of them. Unless this is balaned with tangible and obvious progress toward a goal most people view as desireable, the long term project is guaranteed to become unpopular.

That leaves politicians with the excellent choices of governing by polls (Clinton) or taking a popularity beating over any long term project (Bush).

Long-term projects are also a hard sell because they require a sacrifice in the present.

I expect that the citizens of the US will only develop some patience after we take a lambasting several times due to shortsightedness. I expect that this lambasting will come in part due to leaving Iraq before it is stable as well as economic idiocy such as a failure to control the national debt and deficit spending. Things like the social security system and many domestic programs will see a huge cash crunch in coming years due to this inability to make realistic long term commitments.

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Adam Masterman
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A couple of points on the exit strategy:

It comes in large part out of recognition of the massive incompetance of the Bush administration so far. A majority of the public is now seeing that Bush and co have handled the war poorly, and Congress is following suit. Add to that the fact that this administration does not like to share its plans with anyone, friend or foe. What we have had is a "trust us" war, where we were expected to trust that our leaders knew what was best, but for security reasons could not share that with us. This idea has been largely discredited in the eyes of the public and policy makers. The request for a timetable is basically a sign that Bush is no longer trusted to run this on his own. Congress and the public want to know the plan ahead of time, so there is a chance to head off potential disasters instead of just waiting for the inevitable.

People are well aware that having a timetable has potential delterious effects on the political process, though not nearly as dire as the hawks would like us to believe. But the fact is that the public has come to see that these potential ill effects are not enough to offset the demonstrable ill effects of allowing the administration carte blanche to run this war. This is a democracy, and anyone who thinks we need to revert to a dictatorship in times of war has little faith in democracy. The president has clearly found the end of his leash, and the sophistry necessary to extend that leash, so far, isn't flying with the public. Personally,I find that very encouraging, though I doubt I've heard the last of this scare tactic.

Adam

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David Ricardo
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I am in full support of winning the war in Iraq. For over two years, I have advocated a tougher and more expansive force deployment in Iraq to achieve rreal victory. So why doesn't the Administration go ahead and win it?

Because they are incompetent. That's pretty much it. This is the world's largest and most powerful superpower, and they have us taking black eyes from a bunch of Middle East terrorists?

There is no excuse for "stay the course, and don't complain." Just win the d**n war against the insurgents decisively, and then I'll stop complaining about how the Administration is screwing up a war that should have been wrapped up a while ago if they weren't so incompetent.

You've had over two years for the unsurpassed U.S. military to crush the fledgling Iraq insurgency. Of course, I should be complaining if you haven't got the job done right after over two years of incompetence.

[ November 22, 2005, 11:37 AM: Message edited by: David Ricardo ]

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Vance
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There was an article in Time awhile ago decrying the administration's fighting of this war - the focus on WMD, the total disregard for the intelligence on the growing insurgency. I've got to agree with David that the administration hasn't really done much to try and win this war. They've done quite a bit to prolong it through their incompetence.

You guys are right though. That doesn't mean we get to leave. We're responsible for the mess over there, and we shouldn't leave until we've done all we can to help. Or until the Iraqi government formally asks us to leave. Certain Iraqi leaders have done so already (I've posted the article in two other threads), but that's not quite the same thing as a formal procedure carried out by the legitimate government (as far as I can tell).

I can't agree with some Democratic leaders that seem to feel that any exit strategy is better than none. We have to leave that country in the exact opposite manner in which we went in - responsibly.

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Digger
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"What we have had is a "trust us" war, where we were expected to trust that our leaders knew what was best, but for security reasons could not share that with us."

Speaking of trust, what I've seen is an opposition party that couldn't be trusted to do the right thing because of their willingness to use any and all tactics in an attempt to discredit the current administration. Beofre the chorus of, "that's what an opposing party is supposed to do" springs up, I'm saying that there are certain things that transcend partisan politics. Call me quaint, but I have always held that politics stops at the shoreline.

We had some degree of unity before the Iraq war in confronting the terrorism problem. But now I see revisionist histories springing up and I personally have very little faith in the Democrats to handle national security in particular and foreign policy in general. I find them absolutely incompetent in those areas (since we're talking about competence as well as trust).

In my opinion, that view of distrust on matters beyond the shoreline was shared by enough of the public to cost the Democrats last year's election and also, in my opinion, will continue to haunt the Democrats until they can put up some credible policy ideas in this arena. While having folks like Murtha call for an immediate pullout may constitute a legitimate point of debate, I think it is continuing to hurt the Democrats.

For reasons I've stated elsewhere, I also believe that the farther Iraq is in the rearview mirror, the better for the Republicans come the 2008 Presidential election. Therefore, I find it ironic that Democrats are trying to short circuit the plan for success there. The longer we stay, the better for them.

Whatever mistakes and failings this Administration has had in fighting the war, and I do think there have been more than a few, I see an Administration forced into secrecy by a pack of partisan hacks who would subjugate our national interests for the sake of an election. Until I see the Democrats do otherwise, I'm going to have a hard time trusting them. I know what the Bush administration wants and what they are willing to do to accomplish their goals in regards to foreign policy. Can anyone say the same of the Democrats right now?

[ November 22, 2005, 01:12 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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KidA
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We need a timetable because we need some kind of discernable plan. I not only see no progress being made, I see no sign that progress can be made with things as they are now.

Most criticisms of the war focus of mishandling - but the premise is equally flawed (that America can turn into a democracy any country it wishes). People often point to post WW2 Japan and Germany, either forgetting or simply not knowing that both countries were democracies before WW2, and had the necessary infrastucture, experience, and values. I'm not saying it's impossible - just that we engage in the task with far too much hubris.

The opposition of Iraqis to our presence is immense - as in, the great majority. Hopefully we've all looked at the Brookings report by now, so I won't have to cite that again.

..and explain to me how democrats are being dishonorable and partisan, when it's the Republicans who intentionally put forth an extreme proposal on immediate withdrawal that was inteded to fail?

Now...leaving all this aside, explain to me how an administration that we all know has failed so badly on so many levels is now expected to be able to accomplish the even more difficult task of "cleaning up" it's own mistake? You trust them now, after all that has transpired....why? Just curious.

[ November 22, 2005, 01:30 PM: Message edited by: KidA ]

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javelin
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quote:
I not only see no progress being made, I see no sign that progress can be made with things as they are now.
What would you consider progress? I believe that it's quite possible to show you progress, depending on what you mean.
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KidA
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Jav,

Busy at work....detailed response to follow in a few hours... [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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quote:

Therefore, I find it ironic that Democrats are trying to short circuit the plan for success there.

Perhaps that's because they're not just playing politics, but instead sincerely disagree with the way the war is being administered?
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
For reasons I've stated elsewhere, I also believe that the farther Iraq is in the rearview mirror, the better for the Republicans come the 2008 Presidential election. Therefore, I find it ironic that Democrats are trying to short circuit the plan for success there. The longer we stay, the better for them
Digger, this makes no sense. Didn't you just say that you thought the democrats were putting partisan advantage above the good of the country? How does that square with the idea that pullng out now will hurt them politically?

Adam

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Digger
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quote:
We need a timetable because we need some kind of discernable plan.
This is a perception that just makes me want to hang my head and cry sometimes. I know you mean it earnestly, and I'm not trying to insult you, but a timeline and a plan are two very different things. You say you can't see the plan, but the plan has been there all along:

* Destroy Saddam's army and take control of the territory of Iraq
* Help the people of Iraq establish a democratic government capable of handling their internal and external affairs
* Help the people of Iraq maintain security over their territory while the above takes place
* Transfer control of Iraqi security matters to the legitimate democratic government
* Leave Iraq in the hands of their new government

In between, there are a lot of details that must be effectively handled. And that's where I see the mistakes have been made. Dealing with those mistakes while maintaining progress on the plan is what the Administration has done.

quote:
I not only see no progress being made, I see no sign that progress can be made with things as they are now.
Again, I think you're being willfully ignorant of progress. There have been two elections so far. A constitution has been drafted, and later this year, elections will be held to install the first Democratic government in Iraq since Saddam took power. That's progress.

quote:
The opposition of Iraqis to our presence is immense - as in, the great majority
Opposition in philosophy, yes. Opposition in practice, no. Iraqis do not want to be dependent on the US for their security any more than we want to sign up for a never-ending role of garrison for the population. But that doesn't mean that the vast majority of Iraqis are participating in, or even support, the insurgency. It just means they want us to leave when they are capable of taking care of themselves. Which is exactly what we want (see my first post on this thread).

quote:
...and explain to me how democrats are being dishonorable and partisan, when it's the Republicans who intentionally put forth an extreme proposal on immediate withdrawal that was inteded to fail?
Ok, here goes. The Rebublicans have been consistent in their support of the war. The fact that you (and everyone else) knew that their proposal was intended to fail illustrates that point. Meanwhile, the Democrats are very split on the issue. Murtha wants an immediate pullout. Hillary says stay the course. In between, there are a variety of opinions and we just saw Democrats vote with the Republicans en masse (even Murtha voted against his own idea) despite what many of them have been saying about the war.

Edited to add this tidbit: 3 Democrats (McKinney, Serrano, and Wexler) voted in favor of an immediate pullout, despite Pelosi's attempt to show party unity in discrediting the Republican motives for the vote and thus continuing the ability of Democrats to avoid taking a firm stand on the issue. All 6 Members who voted "Present", and thus also wouldn't take a stand, were also Democrats.

So, what do the Democrats think? I think it's safe to say that even they don't know. In the meantime, they are trying, pretty much to a member, to discredit everything the Administration is doing in the war. In short, they are trying to have it both ways. That's partisan politics, that's hackery, and that's not worthy of earning trust.

quote:
explain to me how an administration that we all know has failed so badly on so many levels is now expected to be able to accomplish the even more difficult task of "cleaning up" it's own mistake? You trust them now, after all that has transpired....why? Just curious.
I don't hink they've "failed so bably on so many levels". I think they've made mistakes. Mistakes that can be addressed within the larger context of the plan. I trust them because they have been consistent and sincere in their rhetoric, goals, and objectives. They haven't wavered from their stated intent. Until and unless I see the Administration reverse course, I'll continue to give them my trust in the foreign policy arena in general, and Iraq in particular.

[ November 22, 2005, 02:27 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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Digger
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quote:
Digger, this makes no sense. Didn't you just say that you thought the democrats were putting partisan advantage above the good of the country? How does that square with the idea that pullng out now will hurt them politically?
I admit it's a little convoluted, but here goes:

It makes sense if you start with the assumption that the Democrats will put partisan politics above national interests (which I think they have already done, and so doing it again is a given for me). Now, if they are putting partisan politics above national interests, I think they would find themselves better situated for '08 if they could drag out Iraq and make the Administration twist in the wind over public perception of their supposed inability to finish the job.

Edited to add: To elaborate, it's been my impression that if the Republicans don't have a credible 'victory' in Iraq under their belt before the next Presidential election, the country as a whole is going to be tired of Iraq and will be ready to give a Democrat the top job. That's just my opinion, of course, but it's the foundation for my logic.

[ November 22, 2005, 02:07 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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Digger
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"Perhaps that's because they're not just playing politics, but instead sincerely disagree with the way the war is being administered?"

So, they are, in fact, being true to their beliefs that we should intentionally fail in Iraq? Because that's what I see will be the result of an immediate pullout.

[ November 22, 2005, 02:17 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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lessismore
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quote:
if they are putting partisan politics above national interests, I think they would find themselves better situated for '08 if they could drag out Iraq and make the Administration twist in the wind over public perception of their supposed inability to finish the job.
That’s just to depressing on so many levels.

I don’t understand what is meant by “Exit strategy” and how it’s being used. Bush responds with – as the Iraqi’s stand up America will stand down - sounds like a exit strategy to me. The next question that should then be asked is what is the plan for getting the Iraqi’s to ‘stand up’? Followed by is it effective and if not what should change. Jumping to lets just packup now and leave with our tail between our legs (Though I’m sure it will be dressed up better then that)seems like a big leap to me.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
So, what do the Democrats think? I think it's safe to say that even they don't know. In the meantime, they are trying, pretty much to a member, to discredit everything the Administration is doing in the war. In short, they are trying to have it both ways. That's partisan politics, that's hackery, and that's not worthy of earning trust.
Because they don't have lockstep ideological uniformity, they don't know? This is one of the aspects of the democratic party that conservatives rarely seem to understand: we are allowed to disagree. There are no real good options left in Iraq, and people have different ideas about what would work best. That doesn't negate in any way the clear fact the Bush has botched the job. The dems have been saying this as a group for about a year, and the public is now agreeing with them.

You can have ten carpenters all look at a house and agree that it is poorly built. That doesn't mean that they would all have built an identical house, just that its pretty clear that the house in question is pretty shabby. Its not like the country suddenly became 70% democrat, its just that those 70% (give or take) can see the clear reality that Iraq is going poorly. And the number is climbing. And this despite constant rhetoric to the effect that not supporting the Iraq war is a cowardly surrender to evil terrorists. I would say that's pretty good circumstantial evidence that the war isn't going well. But the dems are only saying that for partisan advantage? Hardly. A lot of prominant democrats oppossed the war when it was very unpopular, and would have a very legitimate beef with you complaining about partisanship now that the country has come around. Many others aquiesced with misgivings, which they vocalized and qualified at the time , not after the fact.

I have heard conservatives do the two-step around the rationales for war many times, but I have yet to see anyone tackle the crucial question head on: does anyone in their right mind believe public opinion would have come around on the Iraq invasion without the WMD issue and the 9-11 connection (which a majority of americans once believed existed)? The answer to this question is pretty obvious, regardless of what one personally believes about the war: it wouldn't have. Which leaves us in the current mess: most of us don't support the war based on the premises currently in place. Its a measure of the integrity of the American public that the swing didn't happen immediately after the discovery of no WMDs, but as time goes on, the costs keep going up, and the potential payoff becomes less and less likely. Do you expect people to support sending off their children to die for another 3 years, or 6 years, or nine, when the reasons most of them supported the war initially wasn't even true, regardless of whether it was a "lie" or not.

If the debate over the war had not been hyped, if people did not feel like the war rationale was part of a bait and switch, there would be no fallout now. Bush can't blame anyone else for the demands for an exit strategy.
Adam

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KidA
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quote:
This is a perception that just makes me want to hang my head and cry sometimes. I know you mean it earnestly, and I'm not trying to insult you, but a timeline and a plan are two very different things. You say you can't see the plan, but the plan has been there all along:

* Destroy Saddam's army and take control of the territory of Iraq
* Help the people of Iraq establish a democratic government capable of handling their internal and external affairs
* Help the people of Iraq maintain security over their territory while the above takes place
* Transfer control of Iraqi security matters to the legitimate democratic government
* Leave Iraq in the hands of their new government

I know how you feel. And I agree that these are the stated objectives of the admin. However, I see a total disconnect here.

In the equation as it now exists, "the territory of Iraq" and the "people of Iraq" are in no way congruent. We are presently protecting some of the "people of Iraq" while fighting other "people of Iraq." Many "people of Iraq" don't even want to be part of Iraq!

When declaring that we want "Iraqis to be determing their own future through democracy" makes sense only the the abstract. How do we deal with the fact that those sections of the population who values most reflect our own are, in fact, the minority?

Does helping them establish their own security include preventing civil war? How centralized will power be? A truly democratic Iraq will be dominated by Shias. This is not simply "a problem." It is practically an absurdity. They hate us. They will elect extremists like the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Iran and we'll be worse off than before.

I'm not being wilfully ignorant of progress. I think you are beign willfully ignorant of precedent. The internal tensions in Iraq are at least as bad as Afghanistan in the decades before the Tabilan, and Afghanistan in the 20th century is just one coup, after another, after another...and they were one of the more liberal countries in the middle east.

Why do you think Iraq will be any different? I'm sorry, I see absolutely no way to bring about about a long-term, lasting, stable peace. I think the temporary gains are illusory. We need a much larger and comprehensive military presence - and that is something we don't have. Everyone presently in Iraq should be in Afghanistan, where, focusing on one country, we would have a legitimate chance of really trasnforming a country into something amazing. Instead, we did Afghan on the cheap, and embarrassed ourselves in Iraq.

Please, paint me a plausible picture of a functioning democratic Iraq that doesn't hate us and doesn't vote itself out of democracy in 10 years. And why would a democratic or semi-democratic Iraq be more peaceful, less belligerent, etc.? Where is the evidence of this?

Look, we could stop the insurgent attacks now, immediately, if we had an army five times as large and imposed absolute martial law. That's the only thing that will stop it. Or...do you have another one? Do you think they will run out of bombers eventually? We're just spinning our wheels. Oh, sure, building schools, reparing the electrical grid, etc. "Fixing what we broke"...

I'm sorry this rambles, I must cut-off mid thought and return to work.

More a little later.

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Daruma28
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For all the Bush critics on this thread, I see a common thread here...you all see Iraq as a gigantic failure.

I ask you all, realize that perhaps you are too immersed in anti-Bush media that spins every piece of news out of Iraq in the worst possible light...combined with the media "if it bleeds, it leads" template -- could this not color your overall views on how progress in Iraq is proceeding? I realize that the immediate response to this is that guys like me are immersed in nothing but "feel good" propaganda falsely portraying everything in Iraq as peachy keen. The fact is, I suspect that a lot of you, based on your rhetoric, really do not expose yourselves to anything BUT negative, pessimistic reporting on the situation.

Many of you are the same folks that love to argue that their is no liberal media bias...but I tell you, if you go and read a lot of military bloggers or talk to soldiers who have served in Iraq (I have), you would realize that Iraq really REALLY is not as a terrible, chaotic total warzone as depicted by the media. It's not. That's not to say everything is peachy keen, just that the extensive coverage of every terrorist attack while an almost complete lack of reporting on any kind of progress will definitely skew your view on the "progress."

Throwing out the WMD/justification issue -- which by the way really is the point of this thread -- can somebody tell me what mistakes were made that justify the overwrought criticisms?

Because at this point, it does look like nothing but partisan inspired monday morning quarterbacking.

Tell me, what war has EVER been carried out without mistakes?

What war has ever been conducted that could not have been done better after analyzing the actions with the benefit of hindsight?

Every tactical mistake is siezed upon by the Democrats as proof that the administration is incompetent and untrustworthy -- but in reality, there is NO SUCH THING as a perfect war, free of all tactical mistakes.

That is why so much of the criticisms ring hollow and come across as nothing but partisan hackery by a leftist movement that will say and do ANYTHING to take down an opposing administration, rather than a sober, serious assemssment of how we could improve things and win this thing in a United manner.

Fact is, I too have a lot of criticism with many of the tactical decisions this administration has made (the Sunni triangle should have been given the Dresden treatment 2 years ago in my opinion), but it is the overall strategy that I DO agree with, and that I DO see we are making significant progress in.

So all you critics...tell us what STRATEGICAL errors have been made here.

Would it have been better to leave Saddam in power? Not allow free and democratic elections? Withdraw the troops immediately?

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Digger
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quote:
Because they don't have lockstep ideological uniformity, they don't know?
That's a legitimate rejoinder and I'm glad we can talk about it while remaining focused on the ideas rather than the posters.

No, I don't think it's required for the Democrats to march in lockstep on Iraq. But I do think it's important for them to speak with a consistent voice at least about what the goals in Iraq actually are. How to accomplish them is another matter. I'm all for hearing better ideas about how to move through the task list and accomplish the goal of a democratic Iraq that I posted earlier.

If even some of the Democrats really do think we should leave immediately and suffer whatever consequences arise, why wouldn't Pelosi allow that to shine forth in the vote? It's pretty obvious why, IMHO: if the Democrats show a schism in their views, they weaken their bargaining position on all matters related to Iraq as the minority party. If you're already in the minority, you can't afford additional fracture.

quote:
but I have yet to see anyone tackle the crucial question head on: does anyone in their right mind believe public opinion would have come around on the Iraq invasion without the WMD issue and the 9-11 connection
I'm going to have to say that I always saw the war as justified on much more than just these two ideas. I do concur with you that the administration used these two points in the majority of their consensus building in the preparation for the war, but I don't see that anything that has materialized here since then has altered my initial opinion. I also don't think the administration did anything disingenuous in putting forth what they saw as their strongest arguments in their attempt to garner public support for ousting Saddam. I would expect the same from anyone advocating a position. It certainly worked, so they did something right.

One thing that I do think, which will not be shared by many others, is that we will never know the truth about the WMD's. The fact is that we had over a 6 month period following the vote to authorize the use of force before we actually rolled into Iraq. In that time, many things could have happened to Saddam's arsenal of WMD's (if they did, in fact, exist). Hidden, transferred, destroyed, or never existed in the first place are all possibilities. Unless Saddam does a tell-all with Kitty Kelly, we will probably never know for sure.

I don't think Saddam's Iraq had anything to do with 9-11 explicitly, but I do think Saddam supported terrorism. Just the fact that he was writing checks to the families of suicide bombers is enough proof of that for me.

Just to throw a monkey wrench into this whole discussion, I still see myself more likely to vote for a Democratic President in '08 than I am a Republican. And for me, the farther Iraq is in the rearview mirror at that time, the more likely I'll be to vote Democrat. I know that's the opposite of what I said above, but in this situation, I think I march to a different drummer than most Americans.

Like I said in my "Introduction" thread post, I'm a study in contradictions. [Smile]

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Digger
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quote:
In the equation as it now exists, "the territory of Iraq" and the "people of Iraq" are in no way congruent. We are presently protecting some of the "people of Iraq" while fighting other "people of Iraq." Many "people of Iraq" don't even want to be part of Iraq!
I'll accept that and even agree with it, but it is a given of the situation and there's little we can do to change it, short of partitioning Iraq into ethnic based nations. There's problems with that, too and I think they are larger than the problems we are currently facing. Saddam's method of handling it was a Sunni-based Apartheid. I couldn't stomach that alternative, either.

quote:
How do we deal with the fact that those sections of the population who values most reflect our own are, in fact, the minority?
That's not my impression of reality at all.

quote:
Does helping them establish their own security include preventing civil war? How centralized will power be? A truly democratic Iraq will be dominated by Shias. This is not simply "a problem." It is practically an absurdity. They hate us. They will elect extremists like the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Iran and we'll be worse off than before.
That is a point of view I've seen expressed before (mostly by RickyB here, at least). It's not one I agree with. And even if they do wind up hating us, it will have been a choice they were free to make. Going to Iraq only on the condition that the 'democratically elected government' is also pro-American isn't ideologically sound in my view. They are either free or they aren't. Free only to agree with us isn't free.

quote:
The internal tensions in Iraq are at least as bad as Afghanistan in the decades before the Tabilan, and Afghanistan in the 20th century is just one coup, after another, after another...and they were one of the more liberal countries in the middle east.

Maybe. We'll see. I hope you're wrong, but neither of us has a crystal ball to foresee what will happen in the next decade.

quote:
I think the temporary gains are illusory. We need a much larger and comprehensive military presence - and that is something we don't have. Everyone presently in Iraq should be in Afghanistan, where, focusing on one country, we would have a legitimate chance of really trasnforming a country into something amazing. Instead, we did Afghan on the cheap, and embarrassed ourselves in Iraq.
All valid points and I won't argue with them. I personally disagree, but at least we're both operating on legitimate interpretations of the facts.

quote:
Please, paint me a plausible picture of a functioning democratic Iraq that doesn't hate us and doesn't vote itself out of democracy in 10 years. And why would a democratic or semi-democratic Iraq be more peaceful, less belligerent, etc.? Where is the evidence of this?
I don't think it's possible to paint you that picture. I personally believe that people, in the hearts, want to be free and that free people are less likely to go around stirring up trouble. I think that opinion is borne out in the history of Democracy, but only time will tell if it is an applicable picture of a future Iraq. I'm willing to give them the chance, though.

quote:
Look, we could stop the insurgent attacks now, immediately, if we had an army five times as large and imposed absolute martial law. That's the only thing that will stop it. Or...do you have another one? Do you think they will run out of bombers eventually? We're just spinning our wheels. Oh, sure, building schools, reparing the electrical grid, etc. "Fixing what we broke"...
On this we agree. I won't say what the right answer is, because I have no miltary experience, but I don't think we've handled the insurgency well. I think the administration underestimated the insurgency's size and determination, and we may not be using the most effective tactics against them. That's probably the single biggest mistake we've made in Iraq. If (another big if) we can get a better handle on this one area, I think our chances for success vastly improve.

But, and this is where I go off on some of the Democrats, a divided political landscape here at home is a huge obstacle to addressing this problem. I personally believe that calls for pullouts and the like are helping the insurgents and hurting our troops. I think such calls are irresponsible and downright idiotic.

quote:
More a little later.
Please. I'm enjoying this. I don't get into these discussions very often because they usually just degenerate into name calling and whatnot. But you and Adam (and others) have been putting out good points of discussion. I do appreciate that.

[ November 22, 2005, 03:44 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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A. Alzabo
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Daruma:
quote:
For all the Bush critics on this thread, I see a common thread here...you all see Iraq as a gigantic failure.

Actually, I think we accomplished all our realistic objectives in Iraq(depose Hussein, destroy his regime, end any threat he posed, disrupt all of his plans/programs) and all this "Kill every last bad guy!" stuff is just gilding the lily. We probably need to stay until things are more stable, but the instability is largely something we caused -- not an original justification for the war. There weren't a lot of suicide bombings in Iraq before we invaded.
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KidA
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quote:
I ask you all, realize that perhaps you are too immersed in anti-Bush media that spins every piece of news out of Iraq in the worst possible light...combined with the media "if it bleeds, it leads" template -- could this not color your overall views on how progress in Iraq is proceeding? I realize that the immediate response to this is that guys like me are immersed in nothing but "feel good" propaganda falsely portraying everything in Iraq as peachy keen. The fact is, I suspect that a lot of you, based on your rhetoric, really do not expose yourselves to anything BUT negative, pessimistic reporting on the situation.

I read the Economist, American Consevrative, and a pretty good range of British and European press (not just lefties). I think our military does an astonishingly good job given the circumstance (i.e. the soldiers, the generals, etc. - not the politicians).

quote:
So all you critics...tell us what STRATEGICAL errors have been made here.
Sure, wars involve mistakes. I'm not carping about little details. But there are a few biggies. Like 75,000 troops in the invading force when Gen. Shinseki recommended 200,000+. Launching the invasion before the inspectors had finished, and were able to produce something like a definitive report. Drastically miscalculating the degree to which we would be "welcomed." Declaring "victory" over two years ago. Little things like that.

quote:
Every tactical mistake is siezed upon by the Democrats as proof that the administration is incompetent and untrustworthy -- but in reality, there is NO SUCH THING as a perfect war, free of all tactical mistakes.

That is why so much of the criticisms ring hollow and come across as nothing but partisan hackery by a leftist movement that will say and do ANYTHING to take down an opposing administration, rather than a sober, serious assemssment of how we could improve things and win this thing in a United manner.


This is what you want to believe about the Left. Please try and keep this in mind - were we like this about Afgahnistan? No. Even on the Left, there was a lot of support for invading Afghanistan. Many on the left objected to Iraq, because they were worried about finishing the job in Afghanistan, and loosing worldwide goodwill.

You've got to give us more credit. We're not children.

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lessismore
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quote:
You can have ten carpenters all look at a house and agree that it is poorly built. That doesn't mean that they would all have built an identical house, just that its pretty clear that the house in question is pretty shabby.
I still don’t understand, In this analogy didn’t all carpenters, perhaps due to incorrect information or personal failures of not doing a thorough walk through for them themselves, accept the contract to repair the house? Now that they have stepped back and see that the house is still pretty shabby and not one they indented to build do they get to quit?

All the, if only, could have and should have’s… has nothing to do with Iraq’s problems today. America did what it did and can’t undo it.
If leaving Iraq before establishing some kind of stability can be shown to be the most effective way of restoring stability then fine, however, the American People better be sure, as well as prepared for any consequences. What ever is decided the excuse of if only we knew differently we’d have done differently won’t wash. What is it they say fool me once….
Are their no non partisan people who have clue that can examine the issues, evaluate the pro and cons, present their conclusions from which the American people can evaluate?
WTF

Number one reason for not going to War: I didn’t believe the USA had the brass to finish what they started. I’m still hopping to be proven wrong. At the time I was assured that the American people understood war and would not quit until victory (stable democratic Iraq) was achieved.

[Mad]

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Daruma28
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Alzabo: You forgot the biggest strategic objective - the "domino" theory of instilling democracy in the Middle East...of which having a stable Iraqi government in place before we leave is the biggest strategic effort we are still striving to achieve.

KidA: There was a large contingent of the left that opposed the Afghanistan war for much the same reasons they use now to argue against Iraq. To say otherwise is revisionist history. I put forth Exhibit A as Micheal Moore's F9-11 theory that Afghanistan was only invaded so that the Bush Admin cronies could build a natural gas pipeline through the country. Yes, the Democrats voted overwhelmingly to support the Afghan war...but then they also voted to support the Iraq war as well.

As for Shinseki's argument, I thought Rumsfeld answered the question quite realistically - you know, the one where you go to war with the army you do have, even if it is not as good as the one you'd LIKE to have. Again, that is still only a tactical issue that is certainly open for debate...but it still does not demonstrate the Strategic errors I talked about.

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KidA
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quote:
That is a point of view I've seen expressed before (mostly by RickyB here, at least). It's not one I agree with. And even if they do wind up hating us, it will have been a choice they were free to make. Going to Iraq only on the condition that the 'democratically elected government' is also pro-American isn't ideologically sound in my view. They are either free or they aren't. Free only to agree with us isn't free.

I agree with this. However, the war was launched on two premesis. The first, more specific premise, was that Saddam was a threat because he aided terrorists and stockpiled WMD's. That latter, more broad default premise was that a democratic middle-east would be safer, and less sympathetic to terrorists. Just looking at it speculatively - if we had certifiable evidence that a democratic Iraq would oppose us, and vote for war on our interests, we would have been happy to keep Saddam or someone like him in place. This is not only logically inescapable - unless you assume a level of selflessness on our part that is truly saintly - it has historical precedent (Iran in the 1950's).

Most people in the Middle East know this, know that we are not selfless, and evaluate our motives accordingly. They know we want an "America friendly" democracy. They know our interests in the region. By pre-empting the inspections, we lost legitimacy on the first premise. Of course, there was "evidence," but we deliberately obstructed any possibility of a "conclusion", which leaves our motives, in the eyes of the world open to speculation.

Now, the problem with the broader "War on terror" is that, absent Condi's mushroom cloud, the reaction is not proportional to the threat. I'm not diminishing 9/11. I saw it happen in person, know people who lost loved ones in the WTC, and would've lost an uncle myself if he hadn't, by a stroke of luck, moved his office out of the building only a month before. But the "war on terror" is painted as a clash of civilizations. Our democracy and our "freedoms" are under threat. Which I think is nonsense. Even a catastrophic attack 100 times as powerful (which is no less likely in a Saddam free-world) is only going to amount to mouse biting a lion. There is nothing a middle-east terrorist organization can do on it's own to bring us down. It's simply not possible.

Invading Afghanistan was good because the Taliban was an abomination. Most of the Middle-East wanted them out. They were only going to get worse with time. We were entirely justified because they had a direct relationship to 9/11. And all of the rhetoric that has been so cheapened and rendered laughable post-Iraq really was true for Afghanistan - transforming the middle-east, etc. Contrary to what Daruma says, the opposition on the left to Aghanistan's invasion was a mere whisper, a tiny murmur of unease, a molehill next to Iraq mountain. The fringe-ultra left opposed it, as did Michael Moore - i.e. those freaky third cousins that most of the left would rather pretend does not exist.

Back to the "war on terror." The fact is, tens of thousands of civilians have died, and there is very little evidence that it will add up to anything. We may have an Iraq democracy - but, when you take the full measure of what it's cost, can we be confident that we've saved lives throughout the middle-east, and secured a peaceful future? After treating our fragile relationship to the middle-east so recklessly, have we not made more enemies than freinds we've saved? I see a pyhrric victory in the making.

In the end, I fear that the simple act of invading Iraq, so cavalier and headstrong on our part, was itself the loss. OBL's goal was to provoke us to unreason, and spark an east-west war. I think he knew us better than we realize, and we've played into his hands. He was counting on us to act out of fear, and we did. Now he's got more allies than even he could have dreamed of. This happened because of Iraq, not Afghanistan. The perception of our motives in the middle-east is everything, since it is the middle-east where we want to make freinds. And that part of the war we have fought miserably - the Bush admin conducted the lead-up to the invasion as if that aspect did not even exist.

[ November 22, 2005, 06:11 PM: Message edited by: KidA ]

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A. Alzabo
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quote:
Alzabo: You forgot the biggest strategic objective - the "domino" theory of instilling democracy in the Middle East...of which having a stable Iraqi government in place before we leave is the biggest strategic effort we are still striving to achieve.

That's why I said realistic goals. Now, I think we can buy a little more stability than there currently is and I don't support an immediate withdrawal, but "remaking the Middle-East" was not an "official" justification publicly, for this conflict. Oh lots of PNAC types supported it for that reason, but it was always a bit of a "stealth" reason.

The problem with some of the loftier strategic goals is that they suffered from major contingency chains. And as die-hard "there was no other way" supporters are fond of pointing out, war is fraught with mistakes and errors. This made the neccessary chain of contingencies very, very unlikely. To "democratize the Middle East" by force requires a chain of dependencies (greeted as liberators, factionalism quashed, no grinding insurgency) so unlikely in their serendipity that I think that it's an untenable goal(Note that I don't say that the ME can't become more free -- just that this was a stupid way to try).

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KidA
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quote:
As for Shinseki's argument, I thought Rumsfeld answered the question quite realistically - you know, the one where you go to war with the army you do have, even if it is not as good as the one you'd LIKE to have. Again, that is still only a tactical issue that is certainly open for debate...but it still does not demonstrate the Strategic errors I talked about.
Rumsfeld was talking about the lack of armored vehicles. Not that he wouldn't answer with the same non-answer to the question of troop numbers. What if you only "have" an army of 100? Well, then you wouldn't go to war, would you? The question is: do I have enough troops to have any reasonable chance of accomplishing the goal in the manner we predict? Implicit in the question is the notion that, if you don't, you shouldn't invade, because you'll do more harm than good.

Even if I acknowledge that there were good reason to invade Iraq, I completely fail to see why we did it when we did.

Some one out there answer this: imagine that we waited six months. In six months, the inspections would have probably been completed. Maybe nine...whatever, the exact number's not the point. Saddam was actually cooperating pretty well according to Blix, and the situation was improving. So, if the inspections continued, and they hadn't found any WMDs, which, let's face it, they wouldn't have...should we still have invaded?

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A. Alzabo
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quote:
Some one out there answer this: imagine that we waited six months. In six months, the inspections would have probably been completed. Maybe nine...whatever, the exact number's not the point. Saddam was actually cooperating pretty well according to Blix, and the situation was improving. So, if the inspections continued, and they hadn't found any WMDs, which, let's face it, they wouldn't have...should we still have invaded?
Exactly! This is exactly it! We didn't need to go right away with "the Army we [had]". We could have waited for our forces in transit to arrive. We could have bulked up our presence even more. We could have performed more psyops on the Baathists.

I give the president kudos for the creedible threat of force that caused Hussein to readmit inspectors. That entire situation was festering. But it didn't have to go this way.

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Daruma28
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Alzabo, I just have to reiterate this point I made in the very first post, because so many people seem to be "stuck" on the very argument you just made again here....

"Whether you are for the war or against it; for Bush or against him, we are there. How we finish it will have far reaching consequences for decades to come. The only relevant question we as American people should be dealing with is achieving victory."

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A. Alzabo
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quote:
"Whether you are for the war or against it; for Bush or against him, we are there. How we finish it will have far reaching consequences for decades to come. The only relevant question we as American people should be dealing with is achieving victory."
Then let's kick out the people who have waged it so incompetently? And their enablers in congress who rolled over for them? Why don't supporters demand better?

Just clicking my heels together three times and wishing hard ain't gonna make these guys more competent at prosecuting this thing to the end.


edited for clarity.

[ November 22, 2005, 07:16 PM: Message edited by: A. Alzabo ]

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Digger
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quote:
Just looking at it speculatively - if we had certifiable evidence that a democratic Iraq would oppose us, and vote for war on our interests, we would have been happy to keep Saddam or someone like him in place.
Of course we wanted an ally in a liberated Iraq. That's not even a question. But with Saddam in power, we were guaranteed a continuing opponent/threat in Iraq, by deposing him and helping Iraq acheive a democaratic government, we have the hope of a nation that will be grateful and will maintain good relations with us. There are no guarantees, but I prefer this route, and the possibility of domino type activity as a benefit as well. Some would argue that we've already seen dominoes fall; Syria out of Lebanon, Khaddafi renouncing his weapons programs, etc. that we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

quote:
Now, the problem with the broader "War on terror" is that, absent Condi's mushroom cloud, the reaction is not proportional to the threat.
This is one of the more compelling arguments I've heard against the WoT. But, we are responding not just to one attack on the US, but to a 30+ year history of the use of terror to accomplish political objectives. The problem is, that under some limited definitions of success, terror has worked in the past. To confront it with any hope for success on our part, the actions must be overwhelming and undeniable. We must show that it isn't enough for nations to give tacit support to terrorists while maintaining publicly that they oppose the use of terror. Also, as with any risk/reward scenario, you've got to allow for the, admittedly highly unlikely, mushroom cloud scenario. Iran is at this very moment (IMHO) trying to create a bomb to use as a deterrent to US power. While Iran would be suicidal to use such a weapon directly, it would serve as a shield from invasion that would allow them to support terror operations from a safe haven. If we're serious about a WoT, we can't allow that.

quote:
Back to the "war on terror." The fact is, tens of thousands of civilians have died, and there is very little evidence that it will add up to anything.
I already think it's yielded more tangible results than all other anti-terror initiatives ever undertaken combined. Only time will tell how effective we really are. I think it will be at least 20 - 30 years before any retrospective will do justice to the actions of today.

quote:
the opposition on the left to Aghanistan's invasion was a mere whisper, a tiny murmur of unease, a molehill next to Iraq mountain. The fringe-ultra left opposed it, as did Michael Moore - i.e. those freaky third cousins that most of the left would rather pretend does not exist.
It does my heart good to hear that, because it's often easy to think that the opposition to Afghanistan was of a similar volume as the opposition to Iraq. I know it wasn't, but in retrospect, I don't hear too many people who oppose Iraq go on the record as having supporting Afghanistan. That part of the WoT just seems awfully quiet.

quote:
In the end, I fear that the simple act of invading Iraq, so cavalier and headstrong on our part, was itself the loss. OBL's goal was to provoke us to unreason, and spark an east-west war.
I agree about OBL's objectives, but not with the rest. But, even so, that East-West war hasn't materialized. I can't say for certain that it won't, but I think making Iraq an example of what an Arab democracy could look like could potentially do more to undermine his aims than a more 'measured' response would have. We've been very careful to maintain at least tacit allies in the region (some of which we probably shouldn't have), and as a result, there hasn't been the conflagration that OBL hoped for. But if we had sat back and not taken bold steps, he could have claimed a victory of his own, claiming that America was too weak and timid to enter the Middle East. Who is to say the result wouldn't have been worse than the current situation?

quote:
Some one out there answer this: imagine that we waited six months. In six months, the inspections would have probably been completed.
Six months, nine, two years, I seriously doubt it would have made any difference at all. Inspections were ongoing for several years before they were broken off. The inspections yielded at least as many questions as answers. Because Saddam gamed the process, there was always suspicion that he was up to no good. Suspicion that no one seriously doubted until recently. I never thought Blix had a good take on the situation, any more than I think El-Baredai has a good take on Iran's nuclear program. Asking me to go on his judgement is going too far.

This is all water under the bridge anyway. It doesn't matter at this point whether anyone truly believes we were justified (although I certainly do believe this). What matters is how we proceed from where we are. I'm all for hearing ideas on how to get to the desired end state from here, but I'm not willing to play the recrimination game.

quote:
So, if the inspections continued, and they hadn't found any WMDs, which, let's face it, they wouldn't have...should we still have invaded?
This line of reasoning ignores a couple of alternatives that I mentioned above. Given the time lag between our authorization of the use of force (which Saddam obviously knew about, since was broadcast all over the globe), and the time we actually went into Iraq, he could have hidden, trasferred out of the country, or destroyed his WMD stockpiles in addition to the possibility that he never had them in the first place. The argument that since we never found them means they never existed is very dubious. That it is continuously held up to the public and left unquestioned is unfathomable.

[ November 22, 2005, 07:20 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by A. Alzabo:
quote:
"Whether you are for the war or against it; for Bush or against him, we are there. How we finish it will have far reaching consequences for decades to come. The only relevant question we as American people should be dealing with is achieving victory."
Then let's kick out the people who have waged it so incompetently? And their enablers in congress who rolled over for them? Why don't supporters demand better?

Just clicking my heels together three times and wishing hard ain't gonna make these guys more competent at prosecuting this thing to the end.


edited for clarity.

But again, you're monday morning quarterbacking here with the benefit of hindsight, to criticize tactical errors.

Even IF we followed your course of action, that would mean Saddam would STILL be in power, and whatever you want to argue about WMDs, it was only a matter of time before he did circumevent all of the sanctions -- he had already done so to hoard money from the corrupt French and Russians.

How are we any better off if Saddam were still in power right now? We would STILL be having inspection teams going in and out playing cat and mouse, and he would STILL be financing terrorism with Oil For Food Scandaled $$....

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Wayward Son
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...over 2000 American troops would still be alive, 0 troops would be stationed in Iraq, National Guardsmen would be protecting American soil, billions of dollars would not have been spent, Osama bin Laden might even have been caught...
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A. Alzabo
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quote:
But again, you're monday morning quarterbacking here with the benefit of hindsight, to criticize tactical errors.


Nah, I offerred up some of this advice in real time. The "hindsight" of past wars were available to everyone even at that time.

quote:
Even IF we followed your course of action, that would mean Saddam would STILL be in power, and whatever you want to argue about WMDs, it was only a matter of time before he did circumevent all of the sanctions -- he had already done so to hoard money from the corrupt French and Russians.


Having gathered a force, I wasn't for leaving Saddam in power. He needed to go. There were multiple ways to try and remove him that didn't involve undercommitting ourselves in Iraq and cutting and running from Afghanistan to do so.

quote:
How are we any better off if Saddam were still in power right now? We would STILL be having inspection teams going in and out playing cat and mouse, and he would STILL be financing terrorism with Oil For Food Scandaled $
I would hope that he'd have been removed/neutered by now, regardless, but...
He'd be busy with inspectors running all over the place. Too busy to do much. And imagine how much stronger our case would be if we had substantively brought up the oil-for-food corruption before we invaded. We'd look much better now.

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KidA
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Daruma,

The problem is, still haven't got a hold of what victory means now. Digger's breakdown is as concise and specific as anything I've every seen from the admin and its supporters, but it still leaves too many open questions.

A WW2-style victory, in which we walk across an entire country and bomb the living daylights out of it until it's a wimpering heap of melancholic putty - well that's not going to happen in Iraq. We may have the air-power, but I'm sure you can see why such an onlslaught is counter-productive.

So what is occurring in the absense of that? It's not like we can draw a line on a map and "march-forward." The insurgency comes from all directions - it is in and amongst. It is not one faction but many. How do we determine when they are "defeated"?

Now, I understand the goal is to "train" the Iraqi defense forces. To deal with the insurgency, right? About that insurgency, do they oppose us and only us, or do they oppose the us as well as the government we are helping to establish? If the former, the insurgency will cease once we leave, which would imply we should leave now. If the latter, basically we'd be leaving once we were confident the Iraqi's cought fight the insurgency on their own...leaving them to their own civil war/state of unrest. Hardly a victory

Sadly, I must break mid-thought again. I'm home now, but dinner's gonna be on soon - must be ready for that. I'll try to come back once more this eve...if not, 'twill be tomorrow.

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