The Day We Lost The War

and a tale of two scapegoats

By streiff Posted in Comments (102) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Donald Rumsfeld leaves the Pentagon

November 8, 2006. A decade or so from now when a rational post mortem on the Iraq War is written, rather than the noxious and counterfactual hit pieces churned out by the Washington Post’s allegedly unbiased reporters, this is the day that will be pegged as the day we lost the war. It’s amazing how easy it is to do this in hindsight. I think most historians would agree that June 22, 1941 was the day that Nazi Germany lost the war. Some might quibble and contend it was February 2, 1943. But you can’t get to Stalingrad without Operation BARBAROSSA. You can’t get to Midway or the atom bomb without passing through Pearl Harbor.

The sacking of Don Rumsfeld yesterday will become obvious in the days and weeks to come as the day on which President Bush decided that winning in Iraq was just too much work and the sacrifices made in blood and treasure in Iraq, when stacked up against the forlorn possibility of appeasing the new majorities in the House and Senate, simply do not matter. He decided that a fig leaf of respectability could be attained by replacing an active and loyal cabinet secretary with a gray little man, a creature of his father’s consigliore, who will offer political cover as we conduct a full-Murtha under the guise of the soon to be released “bi-partisan Iraq Study Group” report. Most likely a Murtha-plus because at some point the Democrats will discover that we no longer have basing rights in Okinawa and we’ll base the troops really “over the horizon” in the United States.

Read on.

Make no mistake about it. The placement of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense is nothing more that Bush completely repudiating his own national defense strategy and retreating to the era in which James Baker and his kindred souls on both sides of the aisle – Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Lugar – worshipped at the false idol of “realism” and “stability.” An ideology that never met a despot it couldn’t do business with so long as that despot kept a tight grip on the political aspirations of those in his thrall. This is the policy that gave us the Shah in Iran. It has produced Hosni Mubarak. It is the policy that has kept North Korea propped up. It is the policy that has let the Saudis set our Middle East strategy for 40 years. It is the policy that has kept the Assad family in power. It is the policy attempted against the very tide of history to allow the Soviet Union to continue in existence for fear of instability.

I understand why President Bush is afraid of the coming two years and the non-stop issuance of subpoenas and convening of congressional investigations. He saw his father dragged through the Iran-Contra affair and the laughably silly October Surprise investigation brought on by the presciently named Gary Sick. No sane man would willingly go through this.

There is no doubt that dissatisfaction with the War in Iraq contributed to the electoral defeat on Tuesday, however that dissatisfaction is rooted an much in the feeling that we are not prosecuting the war vigorously enough as it is in the feeling that we should not be there at all. To say the War in Iraq was the cause and not the selling out of the conservative base, and Harriet Miers, and immigration amnesty, and pork barrel spending, and Bob Ney, and Jack Abramoff, and Mark Foley, and the near nonchalance in dealing with Hurricane Katrina, and the “rules don’t apply to me” attitude exemplified by Denny Hastert’s ludicrous defense of Rep. William Jefferson (D-Fridge), and on and on is simply to mark oneself as idiot. The war was not going well in 2004 and President Bush won a clear majority of the votes and we gained seats in the Congress.

I desperately hope that two years from now I can be called out to eat my words, but from where I stand today what President Bush did yesterday was as shameful a piece of political opportunism as I have witnessed in my adult life.

He is scapegoating a loyal public servant and a righteous military campaign as the causes for an electoral defeat. He is attempting to win some short term breathing spell for his Administration by abandoning the most significant US foreign policy venture since the onset of the Cold War, the eradication of islamofascist based terrorism.

He is substituting a clear American strategic defeat for the possibility of a clear American strategic victory.

And most of all he is breaking faith with the tens of thousands of young Americans who have served in Iraq and who will live with their own legacy of being forced to loose a war that they should be allowed to win.

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I said this in a post responding to a troll, and I will probably say it again and again. The Iraq war is the most efficient and most moral war the U.S. has ever fought. Any number you look at, in terms of total soldier deaths or soldier deaths per troops deployed, will be extremely low especially compared with any other war the U.S. has ever fought (and probably most any other war any other country has fought). Sure we had some bad people amoung our military, but they have been or will be brought to justice by our side. Here is the bottom line. If we as a country do not have the stomach to fight this battle, we should save ourselves billions of dollars and just shut down the whole department of defense. If we cannot fight this battle, then there is nothing worth fighting.

absolutely correct. 2800 dead in 3.5 years, compare to 29,000 british (bef) dead in the first day of fighting at Somme, or 6800 dead in 36 days of Iwo Jima. I could go on and on. Rumsfeld was the architect of what will (or at least should) go down in history as one of the most successful campaigns ever fought. I am not sure of the timeline, but in Iraq itself, from the time boots hit the ground to the time that Saddam was caught and his sons killed was phenomenally short.

I have a sneaking suspicion that James "f- the jews" Baker is behind Rumsfeld's departure.

This is the same Baker that said he didn't want to get involved in a civil war in response to the US policy towards the kurds and shiities after we told them to take matters into thier own hands.

IMO, Bakers only purpose is to formulate and exit strategy that saves the US face.

This whole thing with GW going to his father reminds me of Robert the Bruce in Braveheart. Rummy happens to be William Wallace.

I think Bush has just be so beaten down that he has no fight left in him. 9/11, 2 wars, katrina, elections losses, constant pummeling by the media, the preception by the media that he is one of the most hated men in the world... I am surprised the guy has ANY fight left in him.

The whole thing doesn't look good to me.

It also makes me fear that conduct of the war will become exclusively a matter of domestic politics rather than a goal of total victory. If that happens, there is no reason to linger there. I understand many troops, who like Rumsfeld, were demoralized by his sacking coupled with the election results. Was this even considered yesterday? Even more than the election results, the president's craven opportunism frightened me even more.

Bush and his administration have shown courageous and undying support of the troops under RELENTLESS and unfair persecution from the Dems. I can understand the drop in morale of the troops with just having Democrats in control. They and their families have been sacrificing so much, with little thanks except their supporters...and President.

If we shift to a losing perspective in Iraq, it should be clear the President is doing what the people/media/Dems wanted. And if we watch in living color the brutal murders of Iraqis who joined the government, military, or even voted, and tried to make a go of it, it should be repeated...Ms. Pelosi, members of the MSM, and those wanted less bad news on your screen, you got what you wanted.

Good, Accountable Leadership

If we shift to a losing perspective in Iraq, it should be clear the President is doing what the people/media/Dems wanted. And if we watch in living color the brutal murders of Iraqis who joined the government, military, or even voted, and tried to make a go of it, it should be repeated...Ms. Pelosi, members of the MSM, and those wanted less bad news on your screen, you got what you wanted.

I am afraid these images are precisely what the MSM and the more radical elements of the congressional Democrats want. As Moe pointed out, reasonable Democrats don't want to lose, either. But I have seen no sign they can restrain the extremists in their party.

To too many on the other side, Iraq was simply a political issue. Now that the election is over, some will do nothing but carp and tacitly accept the Administration's actions there. Others will want an Iraqi collapse to correspond with the 2008 elections so the images you described can be televised as the parties prepare to do battle again. Remember, their congressional majorities are small and in very vulnerable districts. Further, I submit their presidential bench is quite weak. That mindset almost is too sick to contemplate but it is quite real. They literally want to recreate the scenes of helicopters on our RVN embassy to shore up their shaky hold on power.

I am afraid the president's ill-timed dismissal of Rumsfeld will embolden the Democratic Left to force a withdrawal or pulldown that will produce the nightmare scenario, which will be telecast with glee. Also, given his tone I'm not sure the resolve you described is there anymore.

Sorry to be so pessimistic but this has much more to do with yesterday than with Tuesday.

This was up at The Corner blog at NRO.

"""""(AP Story excerpt) ....But while setting timetables may have helped Democrats win votes, they may have a tough time pushing their plan through Congress. Democratic incumbents are divided on how soon to pull troops out of Iraq, and the party risks being held responsible by voters in the 2008 presidential elections if an abandoned Iraq collapses into a full-blown civil war."""""

The above is a plausible prediction depending on the circumstances. If the Dems hadn't repeatedly claimed the ability to have done everything better in Iraq, then this would be less likely.

And if they take action in Iraq and fail in some way, it could make Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney seem like they may not have been perfect but at least knew what they were doing. Which would settle for a long time whether they would be trusted to lead when it comes to military matters.

The reason they look good to people now in the middle of the war is the contrast between their fantasy plan and Bush's reality. If there is a disaster in Iraq or even a worse mess due to Democrat actions, heck, people might even start glowing about some things such as Iraqis willing to lose their lives to vote. (Now I'm talkin crazy!) But as far as I can tell they are not willing to stick their necks out that far and walk their talk. It's the holding Bush accountable thing...so they'll have the option of either taking credit or BLAMING him some more.

Good, Accountable Leadership

I agree that it looks bad, but I am of the opinion Mr. Rumsfeld was ready to go and felt his staying on would be counterproductive to the administration, his health, and quality of life.

Mr. Bush has remained steadfast through 6 years of constant attacks and baseless smearing, I think he has 2 years left.

_________________________________________________________
Thou art the Great Cat, the avenger of the Gods, and the judge of words...-Inscription on the Royal Tombs at Thebes

I am not sure why this move by Bush warrants such smearing. This was absolutely coming. Bush has stood by his decisions through thick and thin and there is no indication that he is betraying us.

I'd wait longer to see what develops with the whole Baker commission before blasting Bush.

"To discuss evil in a manner implying neutrality, is to sanction it." AR

I agree, and would add that I think the biggest problem of all from Bush is the ability to lead by communicating, to lead by confidently saying what he is doing and why.

For example, instead of looking dazed and confused in the press conference Bush could have confidently and firmly made points like:

We are not retreating in Iraq
We are not retreating in the war on terror
As commander in chief and president he has the right to change his cabinet any time he wants, and he chose to do so with Rumsfeld
He made the choice for his own reasons, and held it off until after the election because it was the proper thing to do

If those things are really true, and Bush had said them like he was the President of the United States, confidently, firmly, and in charge, then there would be no fears of retreat in Iraq, and much less talk about Rumsfeld's removal.

But Bush did all this out of weakness, and without proper explanation. That is a great danger to America, as well as to Bush's party.

Reagan had to serve as president with a Congress in opposition, but can you imagine Reagan bowing down to the democrats simply because they controlled the legislature?

If Bush thinks he's going to save or protect his legacy by caving to the Dims on everything from a minimum wage increase to the war in Iraq (just a few of the things he said yesterday that he could "work with the Dems on"), he's crazy.

If he allows the Dims at this point to turn Iraq into another Vietnam, his administration will ultimately be a complete failure, coming at the cost of the blood of the troops who've fought in the Middle East as the Dims allow victory to slip into a quagmire of American defeatism.

--------------------Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils.--------------------

He campaigned on getting rid of the Dept of Education for one thing. Ended up tossing lots more money into it.

In his case, it was the price of rebuilding the military and being able to confront the Soviets. It was a price worth paying. Heck, the death of Communism without a nuclear war or a large scale conventional war was easily worth twice price Reagan paid the Democrats.

The problem today is that if Bush caves to the Dems (and I think he will) we will get absolutely nothing in return.

_______________________________
If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"?

Reagan didn't have to spend money to bring down the USSR - It was dying anyway, but Reagan increased Govt spending on that and everything else.
Reagan's alleged revolution was never actually implemented. None of the things consevatives have been advocating for the past 25 years have come to pass.
Nothing.

The last time this country had something approaching what conservatives would call a "perfect government" resulted in the Stock Market crash of 1929.
After that it was big D's for years, but when Reagan came along in 1981 did he actually change things?
No. He cut funding for tiny programs like the arts and student loans and welfare which accounted for about 1% of the Fed Budget, and unnecessarily doubled spending on the military, which already accounted for 30%. That wasn't conservative.
The next period dominated by truly "conservative" economic and budgetary policies was during the rule of a very popular Democrat, Bill Clinton.
But G W Bush was very lucky, and got appointed by a partisan Supreme Court. He got very lucky again when 9/11 happened and rallied around him.
And while the GOP ruled all branches of the govt for 6 years, did those core conservative principles become enacted?
No.
Are these consevatives "different" than the "Reagan" conservatives?
Of course not.
They are practically the exact same people.

Why did the GOP get beat so bad the other day?

Because for 25 years they have promised Americans a self-contained philosophy of government which would supposedly fix everything. And Americans believed them.
But that philosophy can't and never will fix anything in the future.
The reason is simple:
If your government advocates drowning itself in the bathtub, as Mr Norquist says, don't be surprised if that government gurgles, chokes, and dies. As the government goes, so goes the nation. Dead in the water.

Conservatives profess to hate government.
Why should Americans vote for someone who hates the place they work?

Americans LIKE their government, as long it is run competently.
Liking the government is, well, patriotic.

That's what happened to the Reagan Revolution.

Q:If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"
A: CONservatism

Does that Known Fact™ Machine hurt when it makes your lips move?

I can only assume you weren't there and are letting your machine, obtained from your local University of the Socialist Republic, do your talking or you wouldn't spout such bunk.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

is in its 24th year. The USSR started dying one minute after it was born, but it killed millions in its death throes. The USSR had a dangerous military advantage in 1980 and was on the move to enslave more people to keep it medicated to kill millions more. Gorby and his associates are on tape admitting that Reagan's build up and esp the threat of star wars drove then to surrender, knowing they couldnt compete with us if we actually competed. All governments are dying, some faster than others.

http://gamecock.townhall.com and www.race42008.com
"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan

I see you have been banned. It's just as well, since I was about to ban you myself.

We do not mind people expressing their feelings around here, provided that the feelings are not phrased in the form of facts. For example, you stated that Reagan "unnecessarily doubled spending on the military, which already accounted for 30%." I'm sure you feel that way. The problem is, it isn't so. By this I mean that Reagan didn't double military spending — the claim is preposterous on its face — and military spending didn't already account for 30%. In fact even after Reagan had increased military spending as much as he ever would, it still did not account for 30%. This sort of thing is easily checked; it took me about 1 minute to find this.
You could have found it as well, but you didn't care to. That's because you were not dealing in facts, you were telling us about your feelings. We undertand that.

Reagan didn't cut welfare, either. People from the feelings-based community are always saying that, because you feel that it's true. But it isn't.

Anyway, people who phrase their feelings in the form of facts-that-are-not-so get banned. That's because such people cannot be reasoned with.

Drink Good Coffee. You can sleep when you're dead.

Rumsfeld's full time job would've been testifying before congressional committees. Running the Department of Defense, he'd have to do in his spare time, between preparing for committee testimony. Rumsfeld's quitting so that SOMEONE is available to run the Pentagon. The Democrats in Congress will see to it that it's not going to be him--title or not.

rationalization, I get lectured on it at Mass every week.

Why wouldn't the hearings be an opportunity to defend the strategy and policy. Rumsfeld could do that. Let's face it, Ollie North demonstrated that a good spokesman can defend a very bad set of facts. Rumsfeld would have the advantage of having a very good set of facts.

In the late '80s, the broadcast networks still covered hearings, out of a sense of duty. Today, if you don't watch Fox News or C-SPAN, how would anyone know that Rumsfeld is winning the day? The New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, ABC, and NBC are certainly not going to let Rumsfeld present his case, unvarnished and unmolested.

that no conservative or Republican program is defensible because the media won't cover it "unvarnished and unmolested" then we should just fold our tent and go home.

--
If you're seeing shades of gray, it's because you're not looking close enough to see the black and white dots.

If the Democrats drag him before Congressional committees next year, Rumsfeld might actually be stronger in his testimony, because he wouldn't have to worry about the day-to-day managing of the war, and could speak the truth without worrying about his job or President Bush's poll numbers, which are totally meaningless now. He could devote himself to these debates full-time, and make Jack Murtha look really bad.

The bad news: Conservatism is hard to sell. The good news is that it works.

It was under SecState Baker's tenure that we encouraged, and then shamefully abandoned, a revolt against Saddam Hussein after the first phase of the Gulf War. And, believe me, that caused a third of our problems right there.

Moe

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC.

That was one of many reasons I gave my support to Ross Perot instead of Bush Sr. in 1992. And I still don't regret it.

I'll give Clinton this much; at least he did something useful with the no-fly zones. I'd have vastly preferred actual regime change, but you play the hand that gets dealt you.

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC.

It's hard to give Bush credit for much of anything right now. But I think he's clear-eyed enough to know that our commitment (military and otherwise) in Iraq is not a short-term thing. It would have taken twenty years of sustained presence there to achieve a lasting strategic victory, including the creation of a regionally-dominant free Iraq tightly allied to us. Bush may have realized that after Tuesday he has no hope of leaving office with the commitments in place for this longer-term strategic mission.

I think the American people got tired of the all-disaster-all-the-time story line being reported out of Iraq, and they voted primarily to change the movie. I think you're right that a convincing plan for fast military victory would have gotten more votes than the "gradual redeployment" non-strategy that actually carried the day. But it would have ultimately been no less dishonest about the real commitment that is needed to win in Iraq.

Ten years from now, we'll be saying more than "this was the day we lost the Iraq War." We'll also be saying this was the day that Americans voted to end the Truman era of forceful, engaged foreign policy. I would go even farther and say that the American Empire ended yesterday. And I'm mourning it.

The postwar (post WW2) period has just ended, and the prewar period has just begun.

We set up a democracy in Iraq, let them make a constitution and have valid elections, and have knocked the Sunnis down to the point where they can't take over the country by force. What more can we do?

This is very different from Vietnam, where we had a goal to destroy one side of the civil war. Here we have said that the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds must all survive and share in power. So I don't see what more force would do, or what it would be directed at.

The reality is that we now have a special forces guerilla war, not a conventional war. We don't need to lose it, just finally start trying to fight it the right way, with less force instead of more.

We get the conventional troops into hardened bases in Iraq and nearby, and let the Iraqis stand in front of the bullets they are shooting at each other. Let them bomb each other.

If we have to win a 20 year war, then we need to start fighting that way. The enemy won't cave in until they see we can out last them, by fighting a lower cost war in terms of both casualties and money.

We can sign a defense treaty saying that we will defend Iraq if another country invades, and back that up with troops nearby. But ultimately if democratic Iraq decides to fight a civil war, that's their problem.

We set up a democracy in Iraq, let them make a constitution and have valid elections, and have knocked the Sunnis down to the point where they can't take over the country by force. What more can we do?

This is not a win in my eyes, and never seemed to be a legitimate rational for the engagement anyway. The Iraqi form of government, their constitution, their elections, and whether or not they like each other all have very little to offer America, in and of themselves, that would justify what we spent (time, money, lives, perhaps other intangibles). If the payback for America is just going to be a lot of do-gooder feel good buzz about how nice we are spreading liberty to other nations, then it's been a real fiasco.

To me, justifiable end goals were twofold: permanent military bases in the middle of the Middle East, and secure access to oil via a pro-American trade partner. To get and keep both these you do need some form of government (a dictatorship works just as well), and you do need to ensure that you've installed a sufficiently pro-American regime there who are themselves secure enough to not be thrown out by an anti-American regime. So to some extent, I can see where our ancilliary efforts at reconstruction may provide some stability and some assistance to what I hope is a pro-American regime. But it's unclear to me that we'll achieve either of these goals yet, and stopping short and calling victory because we replaced a government and left does nothing to enhance or extend American superiority.

Perhaps idealism got in the way here. Believing we had to worry about freedom and liberty for Iraqi citizens, and prioritizing that above the future prosperity of American citizens, would be gross negligence. But it's reasonable to allow that the administration felt they needed to promote and pursue the liberty angle to help sell the overall engagement. It's nice if they had this kind idealism, but I'd prefer cold rational logic when it comes to protecting America's future interests and its place as the single superpower.

We get the conventional troops into hardened bases in Iraq and nearby, and let the Iraqis stand in front of the bullets they are shooting at each other. Let them bomb each other.

Yes, this would be fine. But I'm not convinced there's a sufficiently pro-American regime in place - if we think there is, I'm not convinced they can last. To me that's required if you're going to get to the actual end goals and call this a win - at least if we define win as an outcome that increases future American superiority and prosperity. Right now, the situation still seems very able to go one direction or the other.

...has done absolute wonders for the USA over the last two decades.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't think of our interests; I'm just saying that propping up failed states like SA's - and it's a failed state - isn't in our long-term interests.

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC.

I had to look up 'realpolitik'.

Let's just say that I am happy having leaders who are motivated by lofty principles and driven by their desire to increase a "net good", and to be "good neighbors". But I expect the managers of the country, of America, to consistently set aside ideology where it could negatively affect American prosperity and superiority, in favor of, I guess, a realpolitik/realistic assessment of the situation. In my opinion, you don't play chance with American lives and cash in order to maybe help the people of a foreign nation. You play chance because the risk/reward ratio suggests that the positive outcome for the American nation so outweighs the potential costs as to make it the necessary course of action. You can do both. But the latter calculation is what I hope we base go/no-go on, rather than ideological vision.

To the case in point and Wu's comment that prompted my reaction, I could see an argument like his that says we went in with the primary goal of disarming Iraq and removing a threat to America, and thats been done, so we've won. I could see an argument that says after we disarmed Iraq, our secondary goal of installing a government with a constitution shifted to the primary goal and now thats been done too, so we've won. But clearly the administration hasn't made moves to disengage from Iraq after "we've won", so I suspect in their eyes we havn't really achieved the goals we were after. Is it only because we're trying to be extra nice and make sure they don't kill each other? Is it because we fear the current government will be overthrown, and if so, by who - seems extremely likely it will be other Iraqi's and not a foreign Al Qaeda usurper (can't imagine Iraqi's would accept rule by a foreigner), which really isn't any different than what we have now, a bunch of Iraqi's in their parliment and an Iraqi PM. So why would it matter which Iraqi's rule if our definition of winning was simply holding elections and putting an Iraqi government in place?

So I have to wonder why we're still staying, and my speculation is that our administration had end goals that actually work to further American superiority and prosperity well into the future, particularly, as I've speculated, in light of a potential Chinese bid for super power status. I suspect we're staying to ensure that whatever regime lasts is a pro-American regime, and not because that's the end goal itself but because of the other gains it would enable.

All very speculative and armchair, I grant you. But for the sake of discussion.

Yes by Wu Wei

Yes, the two steps were exactly what I was thinking of. We went into Iraq to enforce the UN resolutions, including being sure that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. This was also because shooting at our planes in the no-fly zone was an act of war, since they were authorized by the UN. And of course the unwritten reality was that we were also liberating the Shiites and Kurds.

The second step is that according to the rules of war, as summarized by Colin Powell, "You break it, you fix it", we had to stand up a government.

So one question various people are asking, including conservatives such as myself, is what the hell are we doing there? No that we should "cut and run", absolutely not.

But from my limited knowledge of this, it seems to now be a special forces war. It also seems that not only has the civil war in Iraq gone hot, but that the two sides, Shiite and Sunni, are trying to use us as pawns in their battle for control of Iraq. They shoot at each other hiding behind us, or try to trick us into fighting the other for them. They are trying to grab as much territory as they can, before the war cools and moves back to politics.

I realize that scattered in there are terrorists with their own agendas, and which are our enemies. Yet there are terrorist in Pakistan and other countries too. We fight them with covert ops.

Nobody in Iraq really wants to mess with the Kurds, although some want some of their territory. I have to believe that if the main line Sunni and Shiite groups made peace with each other, that the terrorist groups would be cleaned up pretty quickly. Either the Iraqi militias would do it, the local would slit their throats while they sleep, or they'd give us actionable intelligence to do it.

But as long as the Shiites and Sunnis keep fighting, I don't think we should be in the middle. We shouldn't set a goal of breaking up the civil war, and we shouldn't give up on Iraq either. So if that happens we need to be able to ride it out.

It should be possible to fight a mostly special ops war, and it is important to try, because I thought that was the whole concept of the long war on terror. 99 of 100 battles would be fought in the shadows by special ops, while classic invasions like Iraq and to some extent Afghanistan would be the rare exception.

So if I'm missing something, feel free to say. I just don't see what we need massive quantities of troops for, and it seems time for a new strategy not to give up, but to win. I don't think a special forces war is something to be ashamed of, or a defeat.

As General Patton said:
No poor soldier ever won a war by dying for his country
He won the war by making the other soldier die for HIS country
-------------------------

WU: So I think the point in Iraq is we need to set things up so that we can keep killing terrorists without getting killed ourselves.

What do you mean by "win"?

That's not a flippant question - it strikes at the strategic heart of the matter.
How does the US define victory now that
1. We got rid of Saddam
2. Determined that there were no WMDs.
3. Helped the Iraqis set up their own democratically-elected government.

Aren't those the stated reasons for going to war in the first place? Or not?
That's why this war was such a muddled concept from beginning to end. There was never any attempt at thinking about an exit strategy and no way at all to define "victory". They still haven't figured out what to do.

And, in what appears to be a lifelong pattern, Dubya screwed everything up AGAIN, and now Daddy And His Texas Oil Friends will have to come along and fix it.

The neocons thought that "market forces" revolving around Iraq's oil production would assert themselves immediately after the Baathists collapsed and return the whole country to normalcy almost overnight. THAT was their exit strategy. Oh, and "greeted as liberators".
That's why you had Joe Albaugh's New Bridge Strategies, AEI and other "capitalists" all gung-ho about it. They thought there was Big Bucks to be made there not only by enterprising Americans but also by Iraqis as well. (That's what the neocons mean(t) when they said "bring freedom to the Mid East". They meant "Bring 100% free-market capitalism unfettered by OPEC or any other restrictions on oil flow to the US")
Which is not neccessarily an awful thing, but when the looting started, and Rumsfeld wouldn't stop it, and the Iraqi Army was disbanded by Bremer, all hell started to break lose.
Those 20-something Christian abortion activists and Heritage Foundation scolarship business school students hired by the WH to run Iraq's economy suddenly found themselves under mortar attack in the Green Zone every day.
The war's backers never considered just how EASY it would be for a small group of determined people to cause Permanent Total Chaos in a modern city like Bagdhad.
So what is the Bush (41) Team gonna do now?

was a big success, too.

I agree that we won the "war" part of the Iraq engagement, long ago. We also have helped the Iraqi people make the first tentative steps toward self-rule. What is needed for real success is the kind of long-term commitment we made in Germany and Japan, that has economic and political dimensions as well as the purely military ones (which you summarized far better than I could). If we want the Near East to be a region which creates strength and benefits for the US instead of something else, we need to step up and help the Iraqis build something that has never existed on the Mesopotamian plain: a modern self-governing nation with strong non-governmental institutions.

I don't intend to re-open the debate about whether such a thing is possible in the rocky soil of a non-English speaking culture. On the other hand I won't let anyone get away with saying that we have no moral right to make the attempt. If anything, we have no moral right not to try.

But all these questions are academic now.

I agree that we should help Iraq build a strong economy, if they let us. But I don't see what that has to do with keeping tens of thousands of troops there, sitting in the middle of a civil war. The issue is that the problem is not JUST isolated groups of terrorists, but some of the major groups which are part of the government fighting each other.

I don't think there is anything which the US can do militarily about that, or should do. Since we don't want to totally destroy all sides but one, we can't win this by force. We need the main groups in Iraq to decide to settle things peacefully. If they do that, and are well armed, then they, together with our help if necessary, then they can deal with the smaller, rogue groups.

The way I see it, the only reason the "resistance" is fighting is because we are offering ourselves as targets, and giving them an incentive to fight. That is, we seem to see this as all or nothing, that either we achieve total peace in Iraq with every gun quiet, or the US withdraws totally (which would be a victory for the resistance).

Instead we just need to redefine the rules, that we aren't abandoning Iraq, but we also aren't making it our goal to stop their civil war. In other words, instead of seeing this "resistance" as fighting the US, we should show them that it really is just stupidly fighting themselves.

So basically what I'm saying is that we say to Iraq, "Look, we are pulling back to within our hardened bases on your soil. If you want to spend another five years shooting at each other, that's your problem. In the meantime we're going to keep our casualties low, and we'll make sure no one invades this country and that no Iraqi faction wins by force. Then when you eventually want peace and prosperity instead of civil war, we'll be waiting right here to help you."

...but as an investor I will say this: I wouldn't even think about putting capital into the ground in Iraq, not so much as a penny, until all of the instability is long gone. The first thing you need before you invest is enforceable contracts. If we're still talking about keeping people from shooting at each other, we're years away.

In terms of the military strategy, it sounds like you're suggesting we hold our perimeter, secure the frontier, and wait until the Iraqis decide to play nice together in the sandbox. What do the other military types here think about that? What would Adenauer think about it if he were here?

And to keep this on-topic, none of the above is possible without some kind of long-term commitment extending through the next Administration. Is it too vain to hope that the Democrats will be grown-up enough to see this and work with us on it?

Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid will no longer be idle observers of the next attack. They will be policy shapers. They will have to look at everything we know and decide that retreat is the way to go. In the last analysis, I suspect they won't have the guts to act on their cynicism, and that the fight will continue with only cosmetic changes. As a concrete example, in at least one of her comments, speaker-in-waiting Pelosi implied that we hadn't sent enough troops.

The deeper question is: Will the White House truly go back to the Cold War cynicism of Bush I and co.? Does Baker agree with Brent Skowcroft about the Bush Doctrine? Moreover, does the decider in chief still have the courage of his convictions? You are right that firing Rumsfeld now is not a good sign in that regard, but I suspect your misunderestimating the resolve of this president. One way to take the firing is that it was a typically stubborn refusal to use Rumsfeld as a political pawn. He does things like that.

One of the very worst side effects of Bush derangement Syndrome was the failure by the left to acknowledge (with a few brilliant exceptions Martin Peretz of TNR) that Bush was doing exactly what the progressive movement had been begging America to do for decades -- adopt a foriegn policy based on idealism. Maybe the left will now co-opt that message and pretend that it's a change.

--
"It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race." - Chief Justice John Roberts

[You forgot: the Joooooos, depleted uranium, MIHOP/LIHOP and The Handshake. I know that your side... well, I know that your side hangs around the side that just won, but, really: don't phone these screeds in. Professionalism, neighbor, progessionalism. - Moe Lane]

"One of the very worst side effects of Bush derangement Syndrome was the failure by the left to acknowledge (with a few brilliant exceptions Martin Peretz of TNR) that Bush was doing exactly what the progressive movement had been begging America to do for decades -- adopt a foriegn policy based on idealism. Maybe the left will now co-opt that message and pretend that it's a change."

If Bush's foreign policy is driven by "idealism" as you suggest, why didn't the US Military stay in Afghanistan to properly rebuild the country and MAKE SURE the Taliban was thoroughly destroyed? Why didn't he demand Musharraf clean up ISI and put an end its continued, not-so-covert support of the Taliban? Why didn't Bush put any REAL pressure on the Saudis to cut off funds to terrorists?
Why hasn't Bush done a damn thing about the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict if he's such an idealist?
Why hasn't he or Dr.Rice lifted a finger to help end the situation in Darfur? Why didn't Bolton or the GOP-controlled Congress do anything at all to help the UN and AU there? Why didn't Bush go after any one of a half-dozen Bloodthirsty Muslim Tyrants in Africa with ties to Al Qaeda?

Why did he choose IRAQ of all goddam places to take revenge for 9/11? Even Cheney himself declared in 2000 that Saddam was contained and officially Not A Threat anymore. (But that was when Cheney was still running Halliburton, and trying to get sanctions lifted so they could sell Saddam parts for his oil wells and the Iranians could get their nuclear reactor components, too.)

Why hasn't Bush done any of these "idealistic" things?

Because Bush's foreign policy is not driven by "idealism" - it's driven by "oil".

There was only one real reason for going into Iraq, and that's America's long term geo-strategic interest in Iraq's oil. As soon as everybody just admits it, this issue might be cleared up a bit. Instead, we have Bush and the neocons pretending they care about "freedom" and "democracy" for everyone in the world, which is baloney, and everyone in the world knows it. There are a few folks who just can't admit the world is a strategically tough place, however, and who instead believe that Great American Idealistic things like invading distant countries on phony, trumped-up charges of terrorism in order to "spread democracy" as if it were margarine is what the US of A does best. Sure the reasons were terrible, but hey! We're spreading democracy!

Yes, the world is a difficult and dangerous place for America. Why? Because most of the world's oil happens to be underneath countries that don't really like us very much: Iran, Russia, Venezuela, SE Asia, even our good pals the Saudis have been known to shut off the spigot now and then.
And then there was Iraq....
It's not hard to figure this out, really.
Cheney ain't the smartest guy in the world, but he does know that the US needs a steady stream of oil. It's not like we'd have to steal it or anything - we'd pay for it at normal market prices - it's just that it has to be guaranteed. For a looong time.
That's why we went into Iraq, and why we probably won't leave anytime soon.

if we are going to play this game of tracing a war's loss back to it earliest roots--22 June 1941, for instance (and I doubt the historians are in as much agreement about this as you think*)--then we lost the war before we even invaded.

Why? Because while our invasion was nothing short of brilliant--and Rumsfeld always had the right general idea about a more nimble, post-Cold War force--our leaders, including the Sec. of Defense, failed to realize the war was not only about the initial defeat of the Iraqi military and the toppling of the Iraqi leadership, both of which were done reasonably well, but the occupation and rebuilding as well. That's the part our leaders paid relatively little attention to, but which proved to be more important than the invasion.

* for instance, what if Germany had not invaded Yugoslavia prior to invading the USSR; what if the 1942 German offensive had been more limited in scope; what if the Germans had not terrorized the Ukraine; etc, etc.

then we lost the war before we even invaded.

[...] but the occupation and rebuilding as well. That's the part our leaders paid relatively little attention to, but which proved to be more important than the invasion.

If your facts are stipulated for the sake of argument only, I don't see how you can arrive at that conclusion. As long as we are there we have the opportunity to rectify errors albeit at a higher cost. That is where we are today. That only becomes a real key point in the analysis if we make the decision to leave because conditions have not improved rapidly enough and those conditions can be traced to the initial planning (btw, I don't think the difficulties were are facing today could have been rectified by any plan or any imaginable number of troops).

As to World War II, I guess you can find a historian to take any point of view you wish. I think the general consensus of opinion is that the invasion of the USSR was the key date from which the demise of the Third Reich can be gauged. As to Yugoslavia, it is only a relevant factor if the USSR were invaded. Were the USSR not invaded Yugoslavia would simply have been one more conquered state.

But I don't want to threadjack my own story so let's leave that part of the conversation where it is with your objection to my view of history noted.

But my point is we paid too little attention to what was going to happen after we defeated the Iraqi military and toppled the leadership. Because this was an elective war--we were not attacked--this failure was a grave mistake, I think. I understand it is extremely difficult to plan for everything in war and its aftermath, but I've seen nothing on any blog or in any speech, news report or book that convinces me that we made a serious effort to prepare for the occupation and rebuilding. No, I don't have the solution, but that's the whole point: If we didn't have a serious effort about what to do during the occupation and rebuilding, we should have had serious second thoughts about going in there in the first place, given we were not attacked or, in my view, in clear, immediate danger.

I realize that even in wars with a clearer purpose and more popular support--say, WWII--postwar planning is difficult. Witness the debates over what do with Germany and Japan after their defeats. Still, I think our leadership should have done a lot more prior to the 2003 invasion, should have been more open to scenarios in which the Iraqi population and foreign troublemakers make the lives of our troops and administrators much more difficult. This failure of imagination on the part of our leadership is one reason I think the Iraq war was lost even before the first troops started firing.

And yes, I do think the war is lost, if one defines victory as having a stable Iraq that will not provide even more fertile ground for terrorists or Iranian-backed groups. (One problem of this war is that there is no single, enduring defination of victory, not even from our leaders.) I think the popular will for this war is gone for good.

Re: I think the general consensus of opinion is that the invasion of the USSR was the key date from which the demise of the Third Reich can be gauged.

A key date certainly. However Dec 6 1941 is also a key date. Without the US in the war, and hence the ability to engage Germany on two other fronts (Africa/Italy and eventually France) the war on the Eastern Front would have ground down to a bloody stalemate and it's unlikely the Nazi regieme would have endured, at least until one side or the other got its hands on atomic weapons.
The opposite is also true of course: Without Russia in the war the western front would have been an impossible struggle.

It will, however, be lost if - I say 'if' because I am currently being assured by mainstream Democrats that this will not happen* - the Democratic Party manages to end or curtail to meaninglessness the American military presence in Iraq.

Moe

PS: OOC, if the defeat of the Iraqi military and leadership was merely done reasonably well, what was the actual part of the invasion that you thought nothing short of brilliant?

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC.

*Some of them have been quite frantic about this reassurance.

Then it was lost long ago.
Please be serious.

I took away from his OP, with which I largely agree, that he means we have lost the War Against Islamists, not the narrow and specific battlefield of Iraq:

Make no mistake about it. The placement of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense is nothing more that Bush completely repudiating his own national defense strategy and retreating to the era in which James Baker and his kindred souls on both sides of the aisle – Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Lugar – worshipped at the false idol of “realism” and “stability.” An ideology that never met a despot it couldn’t do business with so long as that despot kept a tight grip on the political aspirations of those in his thrall. This is the policy that gave us the Shah in Iran. It has produced Hosni Mubarak. It is the policy that has kept North Korea propped up. It is the policy that has let the Saudis set our Middle East strategy for 40 years. It is the policy that has kept the Assad family in power. It is the policy attempted against the very tide of history to allow the Soviet Union to continue in existence for fear of instability.

And with this, I have to agree. I have always supported Bush for his visionary willingness to throw "realism" out the window as a failed foreign policy. Now it may be back. That is not good news.

-TS

"What is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you'd like it to mean?" - Justice Antonin Scalia

because you've been here a long time.

Read the story carefully like this

The sacking of Don Rumsfeld yesterday will become obvious in the days and weeks to come as the day on which President Bush decided that winning in Iraq was just too much work and the sacrifices made in blood and treasure in Iraq, when stacked up against the forlorn possibility of appeasing the new majorities in the House and Senate, simply do not matter.

or this

He is scapegoating a loyal public servant and a righteous military campaign as the causes for an electoral defeat.

So I'm not saying what you're attributing to me in any way, shape, or form.

Please, don't do that again. I'm willing to defend my position but I'm not going to have you attribute a position to me.

And I am serious.

or did Bush seem to throw up his hands and surrender to the Democrats in his press conference. I know that he is usually a very unarticulate man but he looked completely lost answering those questions. I know we have to give him a chance to show us what he is going to do but if he does what he talked about in his press conference then we are in for some horrible times. All he talked about was what he was going to work on with the Democrats and if I was listening carefully I didn't hear any stong conservative issues that he would be working on. I know, I know, he can't do much now that congress is lost...BS...a true leader will stand up for his beliefs and find ways to make things happen. Lets hope that Bush isn't as moderate as he looks or the result will be some very bad policies for the next 2 years.

Liberal thinking, if followed, will eventually be the demise of America.

Reagan was able to work with the Democratic controled house because there were enough conservative and moderate Dems to add to the GOP in some cases to get his bills passed. However, Tom Delay and his crap about only letting things come to the floor of they were supported by the 'majority of the majority' now means that we have no room to complain if Nancy will only let out bills that are supported by the majority of the Dems.

I think we'll be paying a price for Tom Delay and all his crap for years. I rank him the same as Jim Wright. I have no use for either of them.

The Democrats are way too focused and good at politics to ever let meaningful Republican legislation see the light of day. They passionately believe in their cause, and many of their politicians eat, drink, and sleep victory, with every breath focused on winning.

One reason Delay was a big part in the Republicans winning Congress in 1994 is that he is as tough as a Democrat. That's why they hated him and Gingrich so much.

The Democrats often remind me of Apocalypse Now, their will to win:

And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God... the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that... these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment. For it is judgment that defeats us.

Regardless of what the Dems thought - I hated Tom Delay. Not because he was 'tough' or any crap like that - but because he saw power as the end game rather than the means to an end. I loved Gingrich - who did play hardball - because he was a true leader. When he got toppled, so much went wrong in the GOP house.
And under Tip O'Neil meaningful stuff did make it onto the floor - Reagan's tax cuts for one thing. Under Delay, the GOP did the same things that we screamed about the Dems doing - holding votes open for hours for example.
And I don't give Tom Delay any credid for 1994 - Gingrich was the architect of that victory.

I don't know what the problem with DeLay is. He seemed like someone who really believed to me.

As far as leaving the vote open, if someone is stuck in traffic, what is wrong with giving them time to arrive? The only reason why the Democrats screamed was because they lost.

If they had closed rules with no democrat amendments allowed, that wan't only DeLay's doing. The speaker and Rules committee chair had more power over that than he.

Bush can get his stuff to the floor too, by negotiating with the Democratic congress as Reagan did.

There were never corruption charges against Delay, unlike other Republicans. The charges were some sort of technical violation of DeLay giving money TO SOMEONE ELSE, a campaign contribution that was from a PAC charted to do exactly that.

If the Republicans still had someone with the guts of DeLay in the House leadership during the last couple of months, we might not have lost, or at least wouldn't have been pushed around so easily by the Democrats.

Really what it looked like was that the Republicans only had Boy Scouts left in the leadership, and they were going against a motorcycle gang, and so got their clocks cleaned.

I don't know how old you are (I'm 39) so it's quite possible that you were young enough not to be paying attention pre 1994. The GOP screamed when the Dems held the vote on Clinton's tax bill open way past the time alloted to vote - I watched on C-span as a few Dem moderates were strong armed into voting for it. Newt and his guys raised hell - as well they should. But then the GOP did the same thing. Of course the Dems raised hell - good for them in that case.

I think if Delay was still in the picture, we would have done worse. The guy was a power broker like Wright or Tony Cuello. I think he did more damage to Newt's dream than any Democrat did. Newt had guts - Delay was a nasty bully plain and simple.

-------------
"I don't know." -- Helen Thomas, when asked by White House spokesman Scott McClellan, "Are we at war, Helen?"

what goes on behind the scenes..."Dear Mr. President, here is your list of things to do, along with a script for your press conference. If you fail to do any of the above, also included is a list of the idictments. Love, Nancy P. ps: let's have lunch tomorrow

I mean as idealistic as we're all being...the Dems are in charge now and it IS politics. (and they did promise this)

Good, Accountable Leadership

Regardless of what the liberal media's polls say, there is absolutely no doubt that the American people trust Bush to fight terrorism better than the Democrats.

All Bush needs to do is finally communicate about Iraq, the way he communicated when he picked up the megaphone at the 9/11 site and said "...and the ones who knocked this building down are going to hear us".

He needs to say it strongly and confidently like he is the President (instead of a scared politician). That doesn't mean raw arrogance of do-it-because-I-said-so, but because he is the superman that Americans deep down think their President is.

Bush is really only going to get one chance to say this right, and knock the Democrats back on their glasses. So he has to say exactly why we are there, why we need this many troops, and what the exit plan is.

It absolutely will not cut it to merely say "We are fighting the war on terror". All along we waited for the consitution and constitutionally elected government to take place. Iraq has done so. What's next?

I did a search last night and accidentally came across a liberal website which said something like: Bush found his voice again, the President of 9/11 is back, watch out!

That's really all Bush would have to do. Start leading again. But instead of being strong and confident, for the past two years he has alternated between sounding like a scared rabbit or someone snapping out orders to a plebe.

De Opresso Liber

This is the third time in my life I witnessed this country turn away from a bloody overseas conflict; conflicts it coulda, shoulda won - but quit during the process.

When I joined the Army I was taught, trained and commanded by some WWII veterans. The same for a number of slightly younger Korean War vets. My war was the Vietnam conflict. One of the first Team Sergeants I had as a young officer in Special Forces had made every combat jump with the 82nd Airborne Division during WWII, and the combat jump with the 187th RCT in Korea.

In about the third month of his second full-year tour in the northern mountains of Vietnam, he turned to me one night and said something like this: "F**k this S**t, captain. Those people (in America) ain't taking this war serious . . . I don't need to be here." He pulled strings. Less then a week later I was heaving heavy sighs and gulps, feeling fairly vulnerable in a very scary place - and without the best NCO I ever served with. (True Story) His first name is Douglas. His last name is F*********. I hope he reads this.

Somewhere along that time line this country either forgot how to fight to win (not the military - the politicos), or forever forfeited the knowhow for political expediencies.

I lost my father in the last successful war fought by this country; and my naivete during the next three. Whatever this country became after WWII, it no longer remains. When men like Doug and my father and hundreds of thousands of other young Americans can be betrayed almost at the stroke of the pen, something is seriously amiss with the central core of our country.

I have become convinced (and not because of last night's elections) that this country may well have become unable to fight - even for self-survival. I think that opinion was conceived a couple of years ago when we began witnessing ghouls and scabs and other filth harassing families at the funerals of their dead young soldiers, just back from the long tour in Iraq.

I think there are other far more dangerous elements in the world who have just come to that same conclusion.

Those spolied, dirty, shabby kids back from the 1960s who burned flags, spat on vets., hurled stones at police, burned cities and took over campuses - have now taken over Congress.

I think this country is in for a long, dark winter. How will we ever again get young Americans to risk theirs lives for people who don't give a crap? Especially now? Especially in this world?

GB

Liberal thinking, if followed, will eventually be the demise of America.

Re: When men like Doug and my father and hundreds of thousands of other young Americans can be betrayed almost at the stroke of the pen,

Just how have these men been betrayed? I certainly hope they are fighting for the United States-- not for a Secretary of Defense, and, no, not for a president or a political party. If so, the fact that some political jobs have changed hands is no more betrayal than Lincoln replacing Cameron with Stanton (a former Democrat!) was a betrayal of the Union troops of that day.
This has been the problem with this war from the beginning: too many people have treated it as a partisan issue, not an American one, the Right being no less guilty than the Left.

The GOP is guilty of the same 60 year war ignorance as most citizens which manifests itself mostly in senators playing armchair CINCs 24/7 on MSM and in not being willing to call out Dems for rhetoric that emboldens the enemy, but I am unaware of the GOP being partisan on the war. I am aware of the dems being totally irresponsible and the GOP pointing it out. But I see no equivalent of bushlied, abu ghraib and gitmo obsession, etc

http://gamecock.townhall.com and www.race42008.com
"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan

De Opresso Liber

Each other, of course. As always.

Go back and review my comments; Then ask me wherein lies the betrayal.

I did mention that this is the THIRD war in my lifetime entered into with relatively firm political/civil support: Then abandoned.

The Korean War is STILL NOT concluded; and in the middle of a continuing nuclear weapons controversy provoked by a mad man. Many US forces under UN control/influence: Nearly 60,000 dead Americans - and for what! This was a Democratic War; ended after severly hamstringing the military, returning to the status quo ante, and the Congress and country grown weary.

The Vietnam War was sabotaged by the MSM and radical Dems - the same who did support the war in Iraq - before they didn't. You might wish to go back and check House and Senate votes about this war and the Iraq War, prior to Bush undertaking it, then talk to me about partisanship. The time to become anti-war is NOT after having voted for it - and the killing begins. Wars are not simply 'turned around' or ended upon the whimsey of faint-hearts, or political reversal.

Let me be very direct: ANY war in which young Americans are sent to be sacrificed is a war that must NOT be abandoned. Unfortunately Korea, Vietnam and soon, Iraq, will be in that category.

Any political element party or group that sabotages an underway American war effort either by damaging the effort politically, or financially or aiding and abetting the enemy - are TRAITORS.

Any section or group of the American public that turns their back on Americans in the field, underfire - do not deserve to enjoy the social, cultural, political benefits bought by America blood.

That a clear enough meaning of my view of betrayal?

> ANY war in which young Americans are sent to be sacrificed is a war that must NOT be abandoned. Unfortunately Korea, Vietnam and soon, Iraq, will be in that category.

I don't agree because what happens is that the definition of war changes. So I have no obligation to agree to one war, then be told that I have to agree with a totally different war that has the same name as the first one.

Like in Korea the original war was to fight the North Koreans. Agreeing to that didn't mean agreeing to the wider and unexpected war of fighting red china to the death, which is what it would have taken to achieve the goal of not "abandoning" Korea.

Likewise these were the exact reasons we agreed to fight in Iraq, the authorization of force resolution:
http://www.c-span.org/resources/pdf/hjres114.pdf

There's nothing in there about fighting in an Iraqi civil war, trying to force Iraqis to stop shooting at each other, or using our troops as the police force of Iraq.

So as far as I'm concerned we already won the war in Iraq, the one the American public approved. I haven't given my buy in for any new and totally different war, and more importantly President Bush refuses to explain it to anyone.

It would make more sense to me to tell the three groups in Iraq: Look, we're not leaving here until there is peace, even if that takes decades, so get used to it. We'll use special forces when we decide to take out terrorist targets, and will keep our conventional troops in hardened Iraqi bases where they won't take any casualties. We won't let any foreign country invade Iraq, but otherwise the choice is up to you whether you want to keep shooting at each other or make peace.

Once the Iraqis do finally make peace with each other, the foreign terrorists won't last long.

De Opresso Liber

My Words:
"ANY war in which young Americans are sent to be sacrificed is a war that must NOT be abandoned. Unfortunately Korea, Vietnam and soon, Iraq, will be in that category."

Your Words:
"I don't agree because what happens is that the definition of war changes. So I have no obligation to agree to one war, then be told that I have to agree with a totally different war that has the same name as the first one."

I do not dispute that the nature of any given war might change. I do dispute that the definition of war Does change. However, these points are not relevant to mine.

To the serviceman or service woman facing the fire, there is absolutely no significance in whatever difference you, I or anyone might make about the nature of the war that is killing them.

According to your logic the quarter million (+) Americans killed in WWII, and the 60,000 (+/(-) kiled in Korea and the 50,000 (+) killed in Vietnam and the 2000 (+) killed already in Iraq all died for flexible partisan political reasons.

WRONG!!

They all died because they either volunteered, were drafted but certainly were ordered to go into harms way for what they had every right to believe were inviolable national security reasons - not some flexible, negotiable, revokable partisam political cock fight.

American warriors enlist to go into harms way for their own reasons - usually a well-articulated threat to their country, or an attack upon it like Pearl Harbor or 9/11.

An American warrior going off to war is NOT the same as that same American falling on a hand grenade, or advancing in the face of machine gun fire, to charge that machine gun. American Warriors to THOSE THINGS for their buddies and for themselves. They are THERE at that place and that time of their deaths for the benefit of their country. They die for the benefit of their buddies.

Tell THEM and their families that their sacrifice is only as good or as valid as the prevailing partisan political position. Partisanship has no place at Arlington Hall Cemetery. Partisanship has no place on the battlefield - regardless of how anyone defines the war or senses it has morphed into something other than it's original intent and description.

I hope to C****t it is never necessary for you to convince yourself of your own argument during the rifle salute at the military funeral of one of your own.

> To the serviceman or service woman facing the fire, there is absolutely no significance in whatever difference you, I or anyone might make about the nature of the war that is killing them.

That is exactly why the president needs to get public approval for each war, because if the president is wrong then our soldiers might die. That is why the public needs enough information to be able to correct and judge their elected commander-in-chief, because otherwise his mistakes and cover ups could lead to more US casualties. (I mean any president, not Bush specifically.)

It is for the sake of our troops that I would never give any president, whether President Bush or President Hillary, a blank check to fight wars anywhere they want, with no explanation at all except saying "I'm fighting the global war on terror".

We won the war we set out to fight, and I don't think what is going on now in Iraq has anything to do with the original mission. It is an Iraqi civil war, with foreign terrorists and Iranian & Syrian aid being used only as long as they help Iraqis fight the civil war. If Bush wants us to be involved in the civil war or police Iraq, then he should make his case to the public.

I think if Bush made it clear that we aren't leaving Iraq and we aren't fighting in the civil war, that peace between the Iraqis would come sooner. Then they would know they can't outlast us.

De Opresso Liber

Your Words:

"That is exactly why the president needs to get public approval for each war, because if the president is wrong then our soldiers might die."

Absolutely Not! Completely Wrong? The 'public' is as much aware of the realities of its national security as it is permitted to learn by the MSM, and after the Commander-in-Chief's political enemies spin those lies. Even then, the public would be incapable of understanding whatever it is they think they know about their security.

How long was required until 9/11 faded deep into the public memory? Or was morphed into some flaccid characature of its reality?

When was the last time in American history the public voted to go to war - or was even asked? None. 9/11 came about as close at it ever came to that. Ponder that, then - see me comments above. You are completely naive in your views on this matter. If the American public had to give its approval to go to war - we would still be an English colony.

Also, every service man or woman wearing the American uniform is a volunteer. They knew what they might be getting into when they signed on. They obeyed their Commander-in-Chief's call to war. He knows more about the dangers to this country than any locally elected moron.

Finally, and to refresh your memory, or nourish your view: How many US Congressmen and Senators voted to give this president the power to wage war? How many of them subsequently voted to continue the war? They either subsequently lied about it or changed their minds after the killing began?

Did they specify where and with whom he may go to war, and where and with whom he could not? Would he have been requred to adhere to Congress at any rate - since the US was already at war?
I think not.

Your views are the reasons why a monstrous attack on the US homeland can be forgotten, and a national support for war can be subverted by partisan politics and a treasonous MSM.

In fact, people with your views are the grist for MSM lies and propaganda, and partisan politicians feeling of confidence about lying about their initial support for war, minimalizing the threat to this country after an attack by its enemies and ceaseless threats to continue the slaughter in our homeland, as well as give aid and comfort to enemies abroad killing our servicemen.

Don't bother responding to this. I've had enough of your foolishness, and you would neither understand nor appreiciate any additional comments I may make on this topic. Your plantive arguments are too much an echo of past justification for no-win wars, and/or trivializing the honorable deaths of tens of thousands of Americans who answered the call.

Tell it to Murtha. He was once a Marine much like Gollum was once Smeagle the Hobbit.

Good Bye!

GB

Whether we think it is good or bad, the public through its power to vote controls the president and the congress. The congress through its power to control where money is spent and pass legislation can stop a president from fighting a war, as they did by restricting spending in Vietnam. Unpopularity prevented LBJ from running for reelection, meaning he lost the power to run the war.

Bush is causing problems for everyone by refusing to communicate. It's not my fault, it is his.

> Your views are the reasons why a monstrous attack on the US homeland can be forgotten

It's amazing why there is so much misunderstanding, even if there is disagreement. No one has forgotten 9/11 or weakened on it. (The liberals never wanted to fight in the first place, so no change.)

It is precisely because I see the danger of 9/11 that I expect the president to communicate, and to allow the congress and people to be involved. It looks to me like the civilian high command is screwing up by defining the wrong goals in Iraq, and expanding the war in directions which don't make sense. When politicians go silent, they are usually covering up a mistake or have such a weak argument that they are afraid to speak, it is not because of national security.

This is exactly what the Congress and public authorized as the war in Iraq:

The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to—
(1) defend the national security of the United States against
the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council
resolutions regarding Iraq.

http://www.c-span.org/resources/pdf/hjres114.pdf

There is nothing there about "nation building". There is nothing about us being the police force of Iraq. It does not say that we must prevent Iraqi civil wars, or take sides in them. It does not say that he can invade other countries. It does not say that the president can do whatever he thinks is necessary to fight the global war on terrorism.

Screw something up beyond all recovery, and then call in Daddy's friends to fix it up.

The mistake in Iraq was going in. When did Japan lose WW2? When they bombed Pearl Harbor. Sometimes you lose the war at the inception by picking the wrong fight.

Nothing has happened in Iraq that was not foreseeable - and predicted by the war's critics - before the war began. Sure, it was made worse by idiotic moves like leaving weapons depots unguarded and having people in charge who prefer ideology to reality, but the idea was flawed from the inception.

Stay in Afghanistan until 2050 if that is what it takes to stamp out the last member of the Taliban? All for it. Hunt down Osama bin Laden until he's in chains? All for it. Spend billions, tens of billions, hundreds of billions, on our intelligence agencies so that we have people inside radical Islamic groups and technology monitoring their every move? All for it. Work to overthrow the regimes in Iran and Syria, which have supported terrorism and constitute a real and active threat to the US?

But Saddam? You know, much as it hurts to say it, Clinton was right. Saddam wanted very much to do bad things, but he was contained, and was not our top threat.

Iraq was a frolic and a detour. We lost the war on radical Islam the day Bush went after Saddam rather than vigorously pursuing our most threatening enemies.

You get to do a 1,500 word essay on American military strength in the Middle East, circa 1999-2003; with a emphasis on disposition of forces, mission statements and reasons for deployment. Please concentrate on deployments on Saudi soil, including foreign and domestic criticisms of same.

Write it up, send it in and we'll turn you back on.

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC.

Clinton was right. Saddam wanted very much to do bad things, but he was contained, and was not our top threat.

The danger with quoting Clinton is that he's not much of a judge of what is right.

If you hop into Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine to early 2002 you find that the big issue in the UN was removing sanctions from Iraq because of the oodles and boodles of Iraqi chillen who were starving to death. The US was the only member of the UNSC in favor of retaining sanctions.

So while Saddam might have been "contained" in some way through sanctions and the N0-Fly zones that was coming to an end. The idea that he would have been "contained" in any way without sanctions is just silly.

""""Nothing has happened in Iraq that was not foreseeable - and predicted by the war's critics - before the war began.""""

More True: There was very little that was NOT predicted by the war's critics prior to the invasion. And plenty were clearly wrong.

Further Correction: As much as we know now, there is more we'll never know because it involves the path not taken. For example, invading Afghanistan & not Iraq has been supported by many who opposed Iraq. But we'll never know if the country bordering Afghanistan (Iraq) being in Saddam's hands would have changed the face of that battlefront considerably.

Predictions are not as concrete as you think. You are just being selective.

Good, Accountable Leadership

The War isn't over until the enemy says it's over.
They'll say it's over when the US lay in a smoldering ruin and not before.
Some in the US may not want to fight,but it might be a good thing to remember that the enemy ain't dead yet and they have Millions more Americans to kill before they're done.
Sheesh...take one butt whuppin in an election and you're all ready to pull the covers over your heads.
Like the man said.."Buck Up".

"You never need a firearm,until you need it BADLY!"

I said "lost".

The English fought for 40 years after the French took Ponthieu but that was when they lost the Hundred Years War.

Again, this story has nothing to do with losing the elections, per se. What it has to do with is how the war in Iraq is being used as a scapegoat for that loss and how the will on the American government to win that war has vanished.

Re: They'll say it's over when the US lay in a smoldering ruin and not before.

Or when they finally get it through their thick heads that this goal is about as impossible as suns rising in the West. Yes, they're a pretty thick-headed bunch, but their cause is really quite hopeless if the above is their goal. The corollary of "nothing succeeds like success" is that nothing fails like failure. Sooner or later even idiots will realize that attacking ultra-powerful nations whose response is to smash them in return is not a path to any sort of victory.

I'm a big Rumsfeld fan. He's courageous, brilliant and overseeing a difficult war in which a critical part of a successful strategy (making Iran and Syria pay a heavy price for their abetting the murder of Americans and Iraqis) was unavailable to him.

In yesterday's press conference, Bush reiterated a commitment to victory in Iraq. Mere words? Rumsfeld took the bullet yesterday, and he did it willingly to ensure that the Iraq war will continue to be fought.

I think Gates is a little man, but it's hard to see who would both take the job at this stage and have sufficient inoffensiveness to fend off the Democrats. Remember, the only weapon they have is appropriation. If Bush gets his money and Gates whispers his bureacratic nothings, Bush has the ability to continue this war. Bush also gets Gates this year, while the Senate is still ours.

2008 will start in less than two months and the Democrats won't stay unified. Political campaigns are about standing out from the alternatives. Clinton, Edwards, Obama ... they're going to need to hit partisan differences hard. Senators up for re-election like Pryor and Johnson and Landrieu are not going to go in for de-funding the troops.

Bush bought himself some time. And a gray man like Gates gives our side's presidential contenders a chance to spell out what they would do. Perhaps Bush will disappoint, but I wouldn't bet on it.

and I really hope you are right because if you are I'll kiss your butt at high noon in public and give you an hour to draw a crowd.

But good points that I should have considered. Well done.

Unfortunately, I don't believe it will pan out that way.

But here's to hoping I'm wrong.

thanks for the kind words, but I think we can avoid the public displays of (mutual) humiliation! :)

The war is not "lost" yet!
It's only lost if we do give up the fight,turn tail and run home.
It's too soon to be making dire predictions. We have to wait and see how this all pans out.
The election is over..the fight against Islamic Radicalism is not.
F3

"You never need a firearm,until you need it BADLY!"

then I wouldn't be able to say "you read it here first" or, I hope, "gee, what a boneheaded thing to say" and, more importantly, you wouldn't be reading it.

Thank you for a very interesting diary. I always enjoy your diaries as they speak to the larger issues rather donkeys and elephants.

Having said that I think you might be declaring defeat before the battle has even been determined.

The President understands the political reality of US politics. And these are not to be confused with the alleged reality of realpolitik. These are very clear and very certain realities. The President cannot snub his thumb at the Democrats. He must, really for the first time, work with the Democratic leadership to create a sound foreign policy in the Middle East that neither accepts complete withdrawal and capitulation nor does it simply drive on with the same strategy that has been pilloried for the past 3 years.

The Democrats, for their part, must show that they can eat at the grown ups table. If Pelosi wants to stay Speaker of the House in 2009 then she needs to realize that she, and the rest of the Democratic leadership, cannot kowtow to the anti-war base.

I personally think that the next 2 years will usher in a season of bi-partisan rarely seen. Not because either side wants to be bi-partisan but because both sides want to APPEAR bi-partisan.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

He must, really for the first time, work with the Democratic leadership to create a sound foreign policy in the Middle East that neither accepts complete withdrawal and capitulation nor does it simply drive on with the same strategy that has been pilloried for the past 3 years.

Actually he doesn't. Reagan had a foreign policy in regards to the Soviet Union and communist expansion in Latin America and Africa that was diametrically opposed to that put forward by the Dems. He is choosing to abandon his strategy out of expediency. Not very manly in my view.

she needs to realize that she, and the rest of the Democratic leadership, cannot kowtow to the anti-war base.

As she and the leadership are the anti-war base I don't see why she would change.

I personally think that the next 2 years will usher in a season of bi-partisan rarely seen. Not because either side wants to be bi-partisan but because both sides want to APPEAR bi-partisan.

Oh pul-leeze. Through virtually all my life the Dems have owned the House and Senate and the Republicans have had the presidency outside the anomalies of the Carter and Clinton administrations. There is no such animal as bi-partisanship because parties are partisan. And there is enough bad blood over the past six years that the next 12 months, before the 2008 campaign starts, aren't going to change that.

"I personally think that the next 2 years will usher in a season of bi-partisan rarely seen. Not because either side wants to be bi-partisan but because both sides want to APPEAR bi-partisan."

Apparently you did not see Nancy Pelosi on Nightline last night. She said that Bush is "incompetent and simplistic", needs to be treated like a child and she is going to use her "mommy voice" with him.

Hardly a bipartisan attitude, is it? No. Nancy thinks she has just been crowned Queen.

I started to watch the video on nightline, and it was actually titled the "queen of the hill". I couldn't bring myself to do it however. If that's exactly what she said, it must be for a reason. She is too fanatical and disciplined to let hatred slip out publicly, unless she has a reason. It must be to bait Bush, to get him to snap out and explode.

Of course the liberal media would say nothing about Pelosi making a comment like that, but they would call even a milder comment from a Republican "mean spirited".

A few comments (End of American Empire, End of Post WWII start of pre next war, do we have the will to defend ourselves) reminded me on some thoughts I had when the woman was burned on the bus in France.

I fear we may be looking at the sunset of western civilization, not just the end of the american empire. Europe's soul/desire to live died after WWII. They want to celebrate their golden years, live a life of lesiure and fade away. Like a dutiful child caring for an enfeeble parent we have tried to prop them up. We followed their advice and sought their approval no matter how self destructive. Now it is rubbing off on us. We want a rest, we want peace. We have gotten soft. We are three almost four generations removed from a time when survival was not assured, when you worked hard or died hungry. Then long life was assumed, but you worked hard to live well. Now living well is assumed and we all demand a life of leisure and don't want to work for it. We have tried to tame life and make it conflict free. Most all dogmas of social progressiveness (affermative action, PC, Animal rights, environmnetalism) are designed to remove obstacles or resolve conflict(where the finding always goes against the human, male, or non-hispanic white depending on the parties involved). We want to take the uncertainy and chaos out of life, rather than embrace it and let it make us stronger. How does a society whose basic principal is conflit avoidance fight for its survival?

(I used to think I knew a fair amount about military history-then I started reading redstate. So not to sound silly but is it widely accepted there was NO way for the Nazis to win in russia? If stalingrad had been isolated and bypassed and the push to the caucasus(oil) made as originally planned, would they still have lost? (therefore a vote for feb 1943) Could they win the war and NOT invade russia? If no barbarossa then do we assume resouces put in place for sealion or do they take the W and quit after France? This is fun. My 2 cents is the decisions to bleed to death at stalingrad>than barbarossa itself. A lot had to go wrong (weather, stalingrad, etc.) for the plan to fail, doen that mean the implementation of the plan was the wrong decision or the reaction to the unforseen variables sealed their fate. (Kind of a similar question in Iraq))

...lemme set up a blog post for that. :)

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC.

Re: I fear we may be looking at the sunset of western civilization

In a sense, yes, because our technology and economy is making distinct civilizations obsolete. Euroepan civilziation (a term I prefer to "Western" since Russia and Eastern Europe are very much part and parcel of it) is gradualy going to merge into a global civilization. Not overnight, not in our lifetimes. But absent some great calamity plunging us back into the Dark Ages, in two or three centuries cultures (and populations) will be inextricably, though not always peacefully and happily, mixed together. Europe in fact actually started this process a few centuries back by conquering so much of the globe and aggressively exporting European culture to the ends of the globe.

I don't believe for one moment that GWB has decided to forfeit the War in Iraq because of the election results because no one on this planet understands the dire consequences of losing better than he does, but if he had done so, the conservative doommongering here and elsewhere would constitute a plausible justification. Even the FRENCH show more sticktoitiveness than we do all too often.

I have my doubts about Bush succeeding in getting Democrat buy-in to victory now, too, but he HAS to try if only to make it possible for attitude adjusted Republicans to clean their clocks over it in 2008.

Bush understands what most Democrats and all too many conservative doomsayers do NOT:

We HAVE to win this war.

We KNOW that Democrats are unlikely to cut Bush any slack now.

Why the Hell won't we?

he'll think that buying into the Dem's program is OK. It's not. NOTE: see immigration reform; see Harriet Miers.

_______________________________
If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"?

Oh, RIGHT, mbecker908, one narrow election setback will convert GWB into a Democrat clone because as we ALL know, he has no stomach for any sort of political fight. HINT: see Iraq War; see tax cuts; see judicial nominations; see immigration reform; etc.

As for Harriet Myers, whatever one thinks of the merits of her selection, it WAS an attempt by Bush to sneak a person he firmly believes is a judicial conservative (because she has, like, helped him select all of those OTHER judicial conservatives) past unwary Democrats. One can certainly argue with the idea of submitting stealth candidates when you have a six-seat majority in the Senate, but NOW THAT DEMOCRATS CONTROL THE SENATE, I'm thinking that nominating another Bork MIGHT not work so well at the moment.

As for immigration reform, whose fault is it we didn't get a much tougher compromise bill than Democrats will ever pass when we had the chance? HINT: not GW's.

with his pronouncement that "stay the course" did not mean "stay the course." Bush got tangled up in tactics vs strategy in trying to clarify this -- the former can change, the latter is the goal....but he understood that the support for the current tactics (basically using our troops in police functions in support of the underperforming Iraqi army) is gone.

What was lost in the election was the unified, federal democratic Iraqi state. It was lost partly through our own mistakes (this is where Rumsfeld comes in) but mostly because of failure on the part of Iraqis. It was a worthwhile goal, as was removing Saddam Hussein from power. However it's not a necessary goal for success in the war.

Success in the Iraq war depends on three goals being achieved:

1. Removing Saddam Hussein from power. Done!

2. Establishing a base for our continued military operations in the Middle East. This means withdrawing to Kurdistan and establshing our base there. The Kurds are very pro-US and great fighters. Also (see #3) lots of oil!

3. Securing the oil reserves of Iraq (I believe about 25% of total world supply) and ensuring they don't fall into terrorist hands. This requires dealing with Iran (sigh) and securing an agreement through which we control the oil in the north and the Iranians control the south through their stooge Al Sadr. A dimilitarized buffer zone rump Iraqi state set up in the Sunni area (this is where the insurgency is most active). Yes, it has the makings of a failed state and will be a magnet for terrorists, Al QAeda, etc, but it will be a very poor one, because they have no oil. So their ability to damage us will be limited.

The alternative to this scenario is to put in a much bigger force -- atleast 500,000 troops -- and truly occupy and pacify the country, by killing everyone who tries to resist us. And while I'd be OK with that, it's not going to happen -- didn't happen under Bush and not going to happen now. The other alternative is the Dems bowing to their base and beginning the funding cutoff, troop withdrawals, hearings etc that their base will force on them. We have a small window here.

I'd like to see Iraq wrapped up and Bush use his last two years to move to other fronts in the WOT -- especially the Afghan-Pakistan border area. Pakistan is potentially a dangerous situation -- large seething Muslim population...with nukes. I'd also like Bush to show some leadership and call for and set up a multinational force to go into Darfur. We can do it and no one else can.

...in a long, slow, tragicomic series of blunders, missteps, lost opportunities, and futile gestures over the last several years, not in a single day.

To say this war was lost Nov. 8th presupposes that it wasn't already lost by Nov. 7th and that our forces are capable of effecting a positive change against the myriad forces of chaos that confront them. I see no reason to believe that this is the case. Our recent operations with the Iraqis to secure Baghdad have failed, with pitched battles returning to areas previously "cleared", and the effort essentially dying with a whimper the day al Sadr effectively commanded American troops to abandon checkpoints on Sadr City via his proxy Maliki.

If you think this war was wasn't lost on Nov. 7th, let's review the situation. Militias roam freely, torturing and slaughtering with impunity. Government troops we trained and equipped do the same. Ministries of the government fight pitched battles in the streets against each other. Maliki has declared, even when pressed directly by Negroponte, that he will not restrain militias any time soon, and Sunni politicians have explicitly responded with the threat of mass civil war. Bechtel and other critical reconstruction contractors are leaving, bloodied and forced to abandon the power plants whose output once more only reaches Baghdad in a trickle due to attacks.

Need I go on? Yes? Very well...torture, including that by forces associated with whatever resembles a government there, is surpassing levels under Saddam. We've not succeeded in securing the borders with Syria and Iran, allowing cash, arms, and fighters to flow. Even Sadr's own forces are spinning out of control, fighting with one another and devolving into criminal gangs. The Kurds no longer even bother flying the Iraqi flag and refer to Maliki as President of the Green Zone. Attacks against our troops escalate steadily as their mission seems to be redefined each week. At least a half million Iraqis are displaced within the country due to rampant ethnic cleansing now spreading to the countryside, and more than a million have abandoned the country entirely, including its best and brightest.

Not only was this war lost well before the election, it may melt down a great deal more before this new crop of Dems can even take office. Approval of Gates must be pushed through quickly to avoid any power vacuum at a time when escalating civil conflict could explode and threaten our troops and contractors. We need to face the grim reality that our control of the security situation is severely limited and redouble defense of our bases and supply lines.

And we need a Defense Secretary who will not cow those around him into silence or complicitly out of fear or careerism; rather, someone who will face mistakes and adjust with a dynamism far exceeding that demonstrated by Secretary Rumsfeld.

Let us pray that Gates is that man...

Some people here think Rumsfeld is blameless, or nearly so!

"Nothing works like freedom, Nothing succeeds like liberty"
Kyle

We won the war. Iraq is a Democracy. What happens here is not our problem, like any of the other internal conflicts being fought around the world.

If someone in the high command said it was our job to fight Iraqi civil wars, they need to admit they were wrong and move our troops out of the line of fire.

If they want to fight, let them fight. We'll make an alliance with the winner. We're not running, just not standing in the path of them shooting themselves.

...the real point was to strike a blow against terror (more particularly state-sponsored terror). You could argue that we've succeeded because there hasn't been another 9/11, but you could also argue that if we don't stay in and pacify Iraq, there will be one. Of course the Left argues that the terror threat never had any basis in Iraq, and America's voters appear to agree.

I don't see how these original goals are advanced by your strategy of permitting the contending forces in Iraq to fight it out, therefore I don't see how the Administration would embrace such a strategy.

It will be easy enough to declare victory in Iraq as long as you define the goals low enough. To me, the essential fact remains that we are going to walk away from an opportunity to help Iraq create a strong and free new nation. My conclusion from the whole affair is that people don't naturally coalesce into free nations and if we want that to happen (and we should want it to happen) then it takes a lot of outside help. We'll be arguing these questions for years to come.

What will (or would) the Democrats do? They want more than anything to set about their true agenda of bringing back "Government with a capital G." To them Iraq is a distraction to be hustled away from the front pages as soon as possible. Win, lose or draw is immaterial to them.

In a funny way it reminds me of Vietnam. From reading Johnson's documents, the main reason he stayed in Vietnam was because he was petrified that the voters would flay him if he showed weakness. A true liberal, he wanted more than anything to get back to "doing things for the cities." But he just couldn't get Vietnam off the radar, and it ended his enterprise. Something similar just might happen to the Democrats if bad things start happening in Iraq after we start to pull out.

> I don't see how these original goals are advanced by your strategy of permitting the contending forces in Iraq to fight it out

Because that's the only way anything good will happen, when the Iraqis decide voluntarily to stop fighting each other.

Because making it our goal to prevent the fighting lets the terrorists define the war, which raises our casualties, and so gives them the chance to outlast us.

Because its not our fight. They were fighting each other decades before we got there. There is no reason to spill our blood to take sides between the Shiites and Sunnis.

Most importantly, because the Iraqis aren't trying for peace. The main bodies in the government are shooting at each other.

side with the elected govt and their forces against the Baathist-al Qaida coalition?

http://gamecock.townhall.com and www.race42008.com
"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan

I don't know that there is an actual Baathist/Al Qaeda alliance, but I did read that the Maliki government was possibly going to reinstate "thousands of members" of the Baath party to their old jobs.

So the question in my mind is increasingly, at what point does the burden of sovereignty shift to Iraq? Hopefully we've done all we could to install a pro-American regime, but the time to do that was probably limited, so we have what we have. If we think we have the regime we wanted, it makes sense to protect it, ala Green Zone, to some extent. What doesn't make a lot of sense is engaging with the Iraqi civilian insurgents who are primarily raising arms against each other, outside of our vested interest in protecting the regime - which, being Shiite dominated, in a majority Shiite populated country - ought to be able to outlast any Sunni uprising.

There will be Al Qaeda in Iraq for years, decades, just as there will be in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, England, and maybe still in the United States. The idea that we're going to draw them all in like flies and kill them in Baghdad isn't really logical. I don't even think that's a serious claim thats been made by the administration to justify our being there, that we can somehow defeat Al Qaeda by operating in Iraq. I think it's good to point out no Al Qaeda operations on American soil since 9/11, but clearly they are out there, outside of Iraq, making and executing terrorist operations like the one that was uncovered this summer. Our being in Iraq had nothing to do with the foiling of that plot, to my knowledge: it didn't keep it from being planned or initiated, it didn't help the Brits stop it.

Basically, I don't think the number of kills we can score against Al Qaeda operatives inside Iraq, by itself, is enough to justify what we're doing there. I think there has to be a greater goal in mind (e.g. permanent bases, oil-rich trade partner).

Does the sovereign Iraqi government still want us there? It would seem so, but I'd be curious what they really want. Protection for themselves, until their power is secure enough to go alone? Are they looking to America as a long term ally or a short term means to their own end? I'd hope the former, but recent Maliki moves like breaking our siege on Sadr City suggest that they may start doing things more and more in line with their own goals, as opposed to ours.

more clear. I think we must finish the job of getting the Iraqi security forces and police capable of securing the country. We are bonded as allies with the free Iraqi people in the war against islamo-facists and to make sure that the saddam deadenders cannot retake the country. If the govt is getting former baathists to agree to lay down arms, then thats great. Once Iraq's police and army is up to speed, then they can clean out al qaida.

But beyond that I consider it essential that when we begin to leave, that it be obvious that we have succeeded and that we are not leaving in retreat due to weakness. This is non-negotiable. For this to happen Bush and Lieberman and the GOP must sell it to the public and if the dems wont agree then they must be harshly denounced in public.

Moreover, I think that we must maintain forces there for a long time for the larger war and I suspect that we will have to base there for probable action against Iran and Syria.

The point is that we are in a world war that will last a long time, and the talk about leaving strikes me as loony.

http://gamecock.townhall.com and www.race42008.com
"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan

...we won the regime change phase of the war. It's not like Saddam's army defended Baghdad and forced us to retreat to Kuwait. What has gone wrong is the nation building part.

Now that the Dems have what they think is a winning issue you can count on them to let the War last at least until 2008.

 
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