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"Chaos Overran Iraq Plan in '06, Bush Team Says":
Today's New York Times has this fascinating piece about how the Bush Administration's Iraq policy worked — or, as the case may be, didn't work — in the last year or so. From the conclusion:
Mr. Bush still insists on talking about victory, even if his own advisers differ about how to define it. "It's a word the American people understand," he told members of the Iraq Study Group who came to see him at the White House in November, according to two commission members who attended. "And if I start to change it, it will look like I'm beginning to change my policy."
Randy R. (mail):
And seeing how Bush has such a winning strategy in Iraq, why change anything at all?
1.2.2007 11:30pm
Speaking the Obvious:
Am I the only one touched by the irony of President Bush being concerned he speaks in words the American people can understand?
1.2.2007 11:36pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Victory?? What is it?? Will someone tell me what it means to achieve "victory" in Iraq? I don't think Bush knows, except that he equates "leaving" with "losing." He is so out of touch that he doesn't realize that 80 percent of the American people in fact do not understand what victory means and that's why only 11 percent (11 percent!!!) support his plan to escalate the war.
1.2.2007 11:36pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Anything the NY Times says about Iraq should be viewed with suspicions. I dropped it from my favorites when it started misquoting people as a matter of policy.

Here you need only consider economic growth in Iraq overall to realize how untruthful and deceptive this article's assumptions ("chaos in Iraq") are. 90% of the violence is occuring in areas with Sunni Arab majorities or significant Sunni Arab minorities, and the solution has been ethnic cleansing of them by the Shiite majority. The areas where the Kurds rule, or where the Sunni Arab proportion of the population is under 5%, are booming economically, and this has resulted in major growth for Iraq overall.

There is NOT chaos in Iraq. There is only about the same amount of violence as we've had in the previous two years, and in the same places - a clear minority geographically, and demographically. There is little violence in Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq, and not much in Shiite-controlled areas. Almost all the violence is in areas where the Sunni Arabs comprise a majority or a significant minority of the population, and that level of violence hasn't changed much. What has changed is that the Sunni Arabs are now doing most of the dying.

I repeat, almost all of the problems in Iraq are due to die-hard violence by the Sunni Arabs, particularly the really nasty types who were enforcers for the Baathist regime. The latter are facing extinction at Shiite hands and know it. The ones with money have almost all fled to Jordan.

Look at the population statistics. A third of Iraq's pre-war Sunni Arab population have already fled. The rest are running away at a rate of about 100,000 a month, and this number is increasing monthly. The body count from terrorist violence (by Sunni Arab die-hards and their Al Qaeda allies) is a fraction of the quite unreported body count inflicted on Sunni Arabs by Shiite death squads and militias (plus some Kurdish ones).

Iraq's Sunni Arabs had their chance to make peace with the Shiite majority. They rejected it because they are domninated by guilty, bloody-handed, extremists who know their only choices are death or permanent exile.

So too bad for Iraq's Sunni Arabs. It couldn't happen to a more deserving group.

We're winning because our Shiite allies are ethnically cleansing Iraq of Sunni Arabs. All we have to do is what we are doing now - keep the Sunni Arabs from forming organized combat groups capable of resisting Shiite militias and death squads, and it will be over in about 18 more months.

I predicted this ending more than three years ago.


"The one absolutely crucial objective in reconstructing Iraq seems to have already been achieved - securing a firm alliance with the Shiite Arab majority (we had one with Iraq's Kurds prior to the invasion). The media/press are clueless about this. They have no idea what the important stories are. Our relations with the various Shiite Arab tribes are the most important story in the occupation. I've paid close attention to the details emerging here. It looks like we've won. They're slowly dealing with their own crazies and the Iranian trouble-makers. Sometimes they need some backup from American forces, but we haven't had to actually take any action ourselves.

The differences between us pacifying Iraq's Sunni Arab tribes, and not doing so, will chiefly be these:

1) how many Sunni Arabs remain in Iraq once we leave. Note that the Iraqi armed forces are being rebuilt with an all-new, i.e., non-Sunni, cadre. Unreconciled Sunni Arabs in Iraq will have the following choices once our occupation ends - (a) becoming reconciled, (b) becoming gone or (c) becoming dead.

(2) whether there is a significant prosperous and peaceful Sunni minority in Iraq to serve as a model for reconstructing the Sunni majorities in other Arab countries. It will be much more difficult for us to succeed with the latter if we don't."

1.2.2007 11:56pm
OrinKerr:
Tom,

I realize that to some people bad news can only prove liberal media bias, but I believe that the Times piece was based on the views of Bush Administration officials, including Stephen Hadley.
1.3.2007 12:00am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Compare Iraqi economic growth statistics to the term "chaos in Iraq".
1.3.2007 12:01am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
It's only "chaos" when our enemies are doing most of the dying.
1.3.2007 12:02am
Tek Jansen:

90% of the violence is occuring in areas with Sunni Arab majorities or significant Sunni Arab minorities, and the solution has been ethnic cleansing of them by the Shiite majority... It couldn't happen to a more deserving group... We're winning because our Shiite allies are ethnically cleansing Iraq of Sunni Arabs.


Wow. Just wow. As a general rule, I tend to be anti-genocide, but maybe that's just me. And hey, at least it's only the poor Sunnis that are getting killed.
1.3.2007 12:05am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
One would normally think that, when our enemies are doing most of the dying and ALL of the running away, that we're winning.

But, for those who want us to lose, it is "chaos" when our enemies are doing most of the dying and ALL of the running away.

Even when the absolute amount of dying overall is the same. Even when prosperity and economic growth are booming in the vast majority of Iraq, where not coincidentially, our enemies are absent.

We're winning in Iraq, which is why the NY Times says there is "chaos in Iraq".
1.3.2007 12:08am
OrinKerr:
Tom,

Why do you think the New York Times hates America?
1.3.2007 12:11am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Tek,

Welcome to the Middle East. It's more like Men in Black than Blazing Saddles.

Bart: [the townfolk aren't happy to find out that their new sheriff is black. They begin to load their guns and point them at him. Bart then points his own pistol at his head] Hold it! Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!
Olson Johnson: Hold it, men. He's not bluffing.
Dr. Sam Johnson: Listen to him, men, he's just crazy enough to do it!
Bart: Drop it! Or I swear I'll blow this nigger's head all over this town!
Bart: Oh, lo'dy, lo'd, he's despit! Do what he sayyyy, do what he sayyyy...
[the townfolk drop their guns. Bart jams the gun into his neck and drags himself through the crowd and towards the station]
Harriett Van Johnson: Isn't anybody going to help that poor man?
Dr. Sam Johnson: Hush, Harriet, that's a sure way to get him killed!
Bart: Oooh! He'p me, he'p me! Somebody he'p me! He'p me! He'p me! He'p me!
Bart: Shut up!
[places his hand over his mouth, drags himself through the door into his office]
Bart: Ooh, baby, you are so talented! And they are so DUMB!

Bug: Place projectile weapon on the ground.
Edgar: You can have my gun, when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.
Bug: Your proposal is acceptable.


The Sunni Arabs say they'll fight to the death to regain power in Iraq, thinking we'll fall for that like the white townsfolk in Blazing Saddles.. The Shiites say this proposal is acceptable, as did the Bug in Men in Black.
1.3.2007 12:17am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Professor Kerr,

Because the President is a Republican.
1.3.2007 12:19am
OrinKerr:
Tom,

So if I understand you correctly, the New York Times has hated America since early 2001? And before that from 1980 to 1992? I'm curious, what does the New York Times think of America during Democratic Administrations?
1.3.2007 12:24am
Tek Jansen:
I am opposed to ethnic cleansing. If our strategy includes ethnic cleansing, then I hope we lose barring dire circumstances. If that makes me unamerican, then so be it.

Your strategy of ethnic cleansing Sunnis promotes a pro-Iranian government in Iraq, which would mean that the war actually hurt our interests. A funny victory that would be.
1.3.2007 12:43am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Dare I ask for a cite to your 11% stat, CrazyTrain? I'd like to know how they phrased the question...
1.3.2007 12:46am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Professor Kerr,

You don't like what I said so you are taking it to extremes that I did not say. This is a classic straw man game. It shows disrespect for others besides me. This is your board and your thread, so I will say nothing further on this subject.

Tek - go here.
1.3.2007 12:47am
fishbane (mail):
*Makes some popcorn.*
1.3.2007 12:49am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"We're winning because our Shiite allies are ethnically cleansing Iraq of Sunni Arabs. All we have to do is what we are doing now - keep the Sunni Arabs from forming organized combat groups capable of resisting Shiite militias and death squads, and it will be over in about 18 more months."

Ethnic cleansing... As a matter of US policy... There you have it folks.

"One would normally think that, when our enemies are doing most of the dying and ALL of the running away, that we're winning."

I hate to tell you this, but a great number of the people who are dying and running away are not so much our enemies as innocent people.

In your mind, does the fact that someone is Sunni make them our enemy? Even if they're a child, or never picked up a gun in their lives? And for merely being born into a particular religious sect, it's acceptable for them to be cruelly killed or exiled?
1.3.2007 12:56am
OrinKerr:
Tom,

Sorry, but I thought you said that the New York Times hates America "because the President is a Republican." (see comment at 12:19am) I assumed you meant that the New York Times hates America whenever the President is a Republican; I gather from your response that you do not think this is always true, only that it is true right now.
1.3.2007 1:01am
Mahan Atma (mail):
BTW, Mr. Holsinger, you really ought to take a look at some of our Shiite "allies". Many of the Shiite leaders want to rule Iraq as an Islamic dictatorship, not some kind of elightened democracy. Their military ranks are largely composed of death squads, militias, and warlords.

For this, do you think it was worth killing thousands of U.S. soldiers and who-knows-how-many innocent civilians?
1.3.2007 1:09am
Randy R. (mail):
"Because the President is a Republican."

But didn't the NY Times fully support Bush on his war in Iraq? Didn't Judith Miller print front page stories that were pretty much verbatim reports from Scooter Libby? how can the NY Times hate Bush but unconditionally support him at the same time?

And let's not forget all those US soldiers. Any soldier who is fighting in Iraq, or did, and sees us as losing, as many of them do, must also hate George Bush.

I guess if you are against the war, you hate Bush and hate Republicans. But wait! A majority of Republicans think we are losing the war, and want us out too. They must hate George Bush too.

Poor man. so misunderstood. Why can't he just kill those Sunnis in peace?
1.3.2007 1:23am
Informant (mail):
You see? This is exactly the kind of confusion President Bush is trying to spare us all from. Now let's all clap our hands and repeat, "I do believe in victory in Iraq" three times!
1.3.2007 1:27am
fishbane (mail):
You don't like what I said so you are taking it to extremes that I did not say. This is a classic straw man game.

Actually, Tom appears to never have encountered the Socratic Method, and also to misundrepresent it by conflation with common, flawed rhetorical tactics. Orin soley questioned words Tom used, in an attempt to draw out understanding. There was nary a strawman to beat.

Arguing from logical principle requires understanding the fallacies, link added as a service. Not knowing them can lead one open to having latinate terms used against you, such as "p0wnz3d".
1.3.2007 1:46am
r78:
Yes, Tom you are right, we are winning in Iraq. That is why I was so puzzled when I heard George Bush say that "We are not winning but we are not losing". Why in the world would he say something like that.

Doesn't he, of all people, know that we are winning?

I suspect that you are right, the president must be reading the New York Times and all their lies and he is starting to believe it.

I hope Cheney can set him straight while there is still time.
1.3.2007 1:55am
BobNSF (mail):

So too bad for Iraq's Sunni Arabs. It couldn't happen to a more deserving group.


Some people, under the guise of being "realists" and knowing "how the world works", are capable of remarkable callousness.

I guess I'm just not in tune enough to see the big picture, but if our goal is, and always has been, destroying or running off the Sunni population of Iraq, what do we suppose Sunni Saudi Arabia is going to think of that, assuming they figure it out...
1.3.2007 2:02am
Ramza:
The Media Graphic is telling of the situation.

It shows the US Military Deaths, Sectarian Attacks, and Sectarian Executions by month with circles of varying area based off the amount of people killed in those months.
1.3.2007 2:35am
fooburger (mail) (www):
I'm a bit with Tom on this one. Just deciding the conflict is 'lost' to America because you don't like certain highly visible aspects of what's going on in Iraq is oversimplifying the point. As Tom points out, violence in Kurdish and Shia dominated regions is really not a big problem. There are certainly incidents, but it's nothing like the bombings which have migrated to Baghdad.
I think part of the reason the media has particularly soured on the topic is that the administration has been retreating from discussing it.
I also think Orin doesn't like what Tom has to say, so he deliberately picked apart an inconsequential detail in Tom's comment (about NYT being slanted against this republican administration).
Regardless of whether you are excited by attempting to find fallacies in trivialities surrounding Tom's argument, you didn't address the more relevant, less rhetorical parts. Maybe you had some other point, I don't know, but that's how it came across, as nit-picking silly avoidance of arguments you didn't want to address.

I'm not for genocide, but if a culture only gives its enemy the options of kill-or-be-killed, there aren't many alternatives. I don't doubt that most Sunnis are not on-board will this 'until you wipe us all out' mentality, but if they can't stand up to those calling the shots, again, I don't see that there's much to be done.
That said, let's not pretend Iraq wasn't already in full-fledged genocidal rampage mode prior to 2003.

The US has always been open to reasonable dialog with any of our enemies. There are plenty of rational people in the world ready to negotiate with us on these issues, but unfortunately none of them have the power and authority to actually implement any kind of agreement.
1.3.2007 2:38am
fishbane (mail):
I'm not for genocide, but if a culture only gives its enemy the options of kill-or-be-killed, there aren't many alternatives [...] The US has always been open to reasonable dialog with any of our enemies.

Wow. Can I take a hit off that, too?

More seriously, One should look at situational politics. Why might a culture, as you call it, feel backed into a corner? The revolutionary (yes) change in Iraq is intense - it might feel like flowers and oil in the U.S., but even putting aside the drill bits and bullets, it is a major change. The U.S. would fair pretty poorly too, I suspect, to a massive industrial upheaval, political restructuring, and the random bombing or two per day. Put aside finding tortured corpses in New Jersey.

I'm reminded of how hard it was (and how fragile it is) for the resolution of the Irish revolt. That was Catholic vs. Protestant, surely closer than Islam vs. Christian, but not by much.
1.3.2007 3:26am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Mock his words all you like, Bush is literally correct: the moment he changes ANYTHING, the media will rush to portray it in the worst possible light.

And it's amusing that all these people who criticise him for not admitting mistakes never themselves admit that for years now, a very high percentage of 'questions' at WH conferences have the express and only purpose of getting an answer that that can be properly spun into a 'mistake' for the headlines.

Bush is merely following the common-sense dictum: don't feed the sharks. Especially not with your arm, and most certainly not because a couple of know-nothing internet chuckleheads decide that not feeding the sharks means he's dumb and can't learn from mistakes.
1.3.2007 3:52am
GregD:
Where did Tom H. go?
1.3.2007 4:37am
Enoch:
I am astonished that there are people who appear to think it possible to fight a war without killing, or even inconveniencing, the enemy (that being "unAmerican", you see).
1.3.2007 6:00am
omarbradley:
All these people against ethnic cleansing must not follow hostory. The fact is that wars tend to end with ethnic cleansaing/consolidation/large transfers of populations.

Look at Greece and Turkey, the mass expulsion and transfer of German after WW2, exchanges elsewhere. Throughout history, population transfer has been a useful tool to separate warring factions and sustain a peace.

By contrast, when you have warring populations that aren't separated and remain in close proximity and intermingled, you have continued violence(see Yugoslavia, Israel, Iraq, Africa, N. Ireland, etc...

Tom is largely correct in his assertions and the exodus of the Sunnis is a good thing for the future of Iraq, much like the mass expulsion of the Germans was good for the future of Europe, much like the exchnage between Greece and Turkey was good for Asia Minor, and much like an exchange/separation would have been beneficial for Yugoslavia and Israel/Egypt/Jordan.

The more sunnis that are killed and the faster, the more success we'll have in Iraq. Just like we had more success in WW2 when the Japanese dead started mounting and we had more success when the German dead starting mounting. Or perhaps Okinawa, the Falaise Gap, and the activities of the USAF over Germany and Japan were too indelicate and unAmerican for some posters? In war, killing the enemy en masse and driving him form the field, destroying both his capacity and his will to make war is how you win. Some might not like the humanity of it, but as Sherman said, war is anything but humane, it's hell.

I imagine some VC posters would have been decrying FDR's and Truman's brutality and calling for them to sit in the dock at The Hague. They were much more indiscriminate and bloodthirsty than Bush has been(and I'm not even going into Truman in Korea).

Orin, while I don't want to speak for Tom, I don't think you can dispute the notion that the NYT is ideologically opposed to the Bush administration, against the War in Iraq, and no stranger to portraying the administration in a ngeative fashion and seeking to undermine its policies. That's true for the GOP in general. There's a reason the NYT hasn't endorsed the GOP since 1956. They endorsed McGovern, Carter in 1980, Mondale, Dukakis-all andiadtes soundly defeated with over 425EV. They're out of touch with most of America. And they admit it so I don;t see why you try and pretend it doesn't exist. Can you honestly say with a straight face that the NYT doesn't oppose the GOP. I won't go so far as to say they "hate America". But they clearly don't like the GOP's America, and they haven't for 50 years.
1.3.2007 6:24am
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Someone who says this: The more sunnis that are killed and the faster, the more success we'll have in Iraq.

Has the cojones to say this: They're out of touch with most of America.

Revolting on every level.
1.3.2007 6:43am
omarbradley:


THE PUBLIC EDITOR; Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?

By DANIEL OKRENT
Published: July 25, 2004

Of course it is.

These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed.

Start with the editorial page, so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.

Times editors have failed to provide the three-dimensional perspective balanced journalism requires. This has not occurred because of management fiat, but because getting outside one's own value system takes a great deal of self-questioning.


As a side note, when did the President become "MR"? I don't recall the NYT referring to Mr. Clinton, it was always President Clinton. I stand corrected. I just checked the NYT and apparently they did refer to him as Mr. Clinton when he was in office. I still think it's disrespectful. The man has a title. Mr makes him seem like just another guy on the street.
1.3.2007 6:49am
omarbradley:
Ship Erect,

Forgive me for stating the obvious.

If I had said in Jan 1945 "the more japanese that are killed and the faster, the more success we'll have" I guess you would have said the same thing

If I had said in Jan 1945 "the more Germans that are killed and the faster, the more success we'll have" you would have found it revolting.

Perhaps I could have been more clear and stated "the more sunni terrorists and fighters", but that's not how war goes. Not every Wehrmacht soldier was a Nazi. Not every German was a Nazi. Not even every Nazi was a true believer. But in war, you aim at the defeat of the enemy and you have no remorse. You aim and don't let up until, as the Japanese God Hirohito did in August of 1945 or the German General Jodl did in June, the enemy bows before a mere mortal and prostrates himself and his nation in submission.

Do you mourn the German civilians the United States slaughtered wholesale? Do you cry for the German children Franklin Roosevelt burned alive? Do you yearn to avenge the Japanese women and children that Harry Truman incinerated and the multitudes more he condemned to slow death by cancer? Do you find Roosevelt and Truman revolting? I don't. And I find your comments revolting. Unfortunately, your comments represent the prevailing view in the US today. Fortunately it wasn't back in 1945.

Don't worry, though. Clint Eastwood will surely shoot a movie glorifying the Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Iranian/Pasdaran terrorists as well. Letters from Fallujah or maybe Postcards from Ramadi.
1.3.2007 7:00am
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
If I had said in Jan 1945 "the more japanese that are killed and the faster, the more success we'll have" I guess you would have said the same thing

If I had said in Jan 1945 "the more Germans that are killed and the faster, the more success we'll have" you would have found it revolting.


Yes, I find statements supporting mass murder of nationalities/races/sects revolting, because I am against genocide. You are apparently not. To each their own perversion of power, I suppose, but you have forgotten that WWII was in fact lost by people who believed as you do, not won.
1.3.2007 7:18am
ReVonna LaSchatze:


My sincere prayer is that all the Tom's out there who verbally support the way, all the InstaLump's constantly cheerleading the losing administration's game, are still around in 20 years and putting their loyalties then where their mouths and bragadoccio are now.

There'll be an awful lot of Veteran's Administration bills caring for those young men who survive today and don't add to the death count so often hyped compared to former wars.

Those kind of life-shattering injuries don't disappear though when this war loses its cheerleaders and they're content to call it a "victory" and go lie on a beach celebrating.

Mental health funds should be budgeted -- now -- for the difficulties these men and sometimes women will face forever in the future. Otherwise they will be old war-scarred vets living on America's streets.

Look ahead, look ahead war cheerleaders. If the ethnic cleansing and killing of innocents doesn't bother you because you had specific groups in mind when you vowed "Never Again", look at the troops that are giving it all to serve you, and expect you will remain loyal to them and their families, even once you admit "victory" in war is only a cheerleader's trophy.
1.3.2007 8:08am
go vols (mail):
Omar Bradley,

Assuming we accept the characteriture of realism you have left out for us (including a Kissingerian sneer at wussy liberals who aren't as comfortable wading in blood as you seem to be), perhaps you can tell me how the wholesale genocide of Sunnis in Iraq 1)will bring us "victory," since, clearly, the US wanted nothing more in 2003 than to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to create a Shiite state that is as likely to oppose our interests as support them, and 2) seems as likely to destabilize the region as bring stability. Moreover, the United States seems openly committed to keeping a lid of the violence, if not successful at curbing it--does the Bush Administration simply not have the clear-eyed understanding of the value of genocide that you do, or are their actions unfortunately constrained by the liberal media?

Yes, some truly horrific acts of violence were committed in WWII against civilians by the Allies. Yes, some of those acts may have helped hasten the end of the war. We debate them still--if you think it's "obvious" that we could not have won the Western Front without firebombing Dresden than I'm not sure you've thought about any of this very hard. All that said, those acts of violence were undertaken for the goal of forcing an odious and dangerous enemy into unconditional surrender. By contrast, you are encouraging genocide to faciliate the creation of a fundamentalism Islamic state. I don't think your contrast holds.
1.3.2007 8:20am
nrein1 (mail):
As other commentators have noted, killing Sunnis in no way guarantees victory in Iraq. All that would likely do is set up a Shia regime. Based on the actions of Shia leaders in Iraq so far, I do not believe that regime would be any more open to the values of democracy that are reason the US claims it went to war.

One can ignore this fact all they want, but the Sunnis are not teh only group attacking US soldiers in Iraq. Killing all of them won't stop all attacks on US troops.
1.3.2007 8:36am
Bill Woolsey (mail):
What is victory? Doesn't that depend on what were the aims of the war?

The speechwriters in the White House described grandiose war aims. Iraq was to be a shining example of free market democracy in the middle east. It was to provide an example for the rest of the region, resulting in mass movements for similar change in the other states. Being free market democracies, they would be allies of the U.S. and friends with Israel. No longer would they need to use Israel as a scapegoat for their domestic failings. Etc., etc.

By that standard, victory has always been unlikely. I don't believe that "shining example" is a useful description of victory by ethnic cleansing. How many Sunni Arab states will seek to follow the example of Iraq?

If, on the other hand, the purpose of the war was simply to remove Saddam from power permanently, the U.S. has won. Saddam was removed from power some years ago, and he cannot possibly return to power because he is dead.

If the purpose was to remove the Baath regime permanently, the U.S. is "winning." While it is conceivable that the Baath could return to power in Iraq, it doesn't seem all that likely. Unless they get a lot of outside help and the Shia/Kurd alliance is cut off by everyone, what hope do they have? I think Tom is correct that ethnic cleansing will decimate the Baathist (and Sunni Islamist) support base. The Shia/Kurd alliance is "winning." And since they aren't the Baathists, then the U.S. is "winning" if our goal was permanently removing the Baathists from power.

I would note, that if this is "U.S. policy" then our leaders are lying. While I am not sure that U.S. policy is very coherent, ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population isn't an official position of the Iraqi government, much less the U.S. government. Support for reconcilliation and demands that the Shia militias doing the enthic cleansing be stopped appear to be major portions of the official positions of both the Iraqi government and the U.S. government.

Most importantly, the "realist" opposition to the war in Iraq was generally a notion that Saddam was bad, but things could be worse. And, the Shia/Kurd alliance could be worse for the U.S. While we may be "allied" with the Shia for the purposes of keeping the Baathists (and Sunni Islamists) from returning to power, once the ethnic cleansing is more or less complete, why will the alliance last? Why isn't it more likely that Shia Iraq won't become an ally of Iran, in an effort to promote Islamic Republicanism on the western side of the Persian gulf? Why would anyone think that Shia Iraq will ally with the U.S. against Iran? These are the reasons why the U.S. left Saddam in power after the first Gulf War.

Making Iraq a shining example of free market democracy was an unrealistic war aim. Simply getting rid of Baathist rule was very realistic and not too difficult, but it was a foolish war aim.

Was there a realistic war aim that would actually improve things for the U.S.? That is the real question. And can in be achieved? Is it being achieved? Are we winning?

That the Shia are ethnically cleansing the Sunni provides no evidence that the U.S. is winning any kind of sensible war aim.
1.3.2007 8:50am
PersonFromPorlock:
It ought to be pointed out that victory in Iraq is pretty much irrelevant; the extended conflict there -- and here -- has guaranteed that win, lose or draw, there will be no further 'big' actions on our part.

The question now is whether the War on Terror can be successfully prosecuted with diplomacy, the development of a Western security state and such small forces as politics will permit. I'm inclined to think it will become institutionalised, with harrassing attacks on both sides punctuating a great deal of empty rhetoric, and will come to no conclusion.
1.3.2007 9:05am
Anderson (mail) (www):
The Iraqi blogger Riverbend was reporting an attitude I'm sure many Iraqis share -- that the occupation was botched on purpose.

Surely, they reason, the U.S.A. could not screw up anything this badly by accident. They're not that stupid or ignorant or reckless.

It's a sad feeling to step up and defend America, as I must, and say, "no, actually, we are that stupid and ignorant and reckless ... sorry about that."

One day, people around the world will lose the residual faith and confidence in America that makes them think we must've been trying to screw things up, and then their hatred of America will be replaced by contempt.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Congress. Thank you, New York Times and Washington Post and all the other cheerleaders for going to war.
1.3.2007 9:09am
sk (mail):
Socratic method or strawman?

"Tom,

Why do you think the New York Times hates America?"

Note that Tom never said this. He didn't catch it when you brought it up (1.03.2007, 12:11 am), and has been paying for it ever since.

Steve
1.3.2007 9:19am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Do you mourn the German civilians the United States slaughtered wholesale? Do you cry for the German children Franklin Roosevelt burned alive? Do you yearn to avenge the Japanese women and children that Harry Truman incinerated and the multitudes more he condemned to slow death by cancer? Do you find Roosevelt and Truman revolting? I don't.

You sir, are a disgrace to your pseudonym. As a matter of fact I do mourn the German and Japanese civilians slaughtered wholesale by the morally and strategically questionable strategic bombing campaign. And for one who assumes the name of a WWII general you seriously misstate history.

During WWII in Europe, it was the British, not the Americans, who pursued an area bombing campaign. The Americans remained committed to a precision daylight bombing campaign and often criticized the British for their nighttime area bombing campaign. (Even the British maintained the legal fiction that they were "dehousing" workers and not targeting the workers in the houses themselves.) Granted, the technology of the day guaranteed that "precision strategic bombing" was an oxymoron, and considerable collateral damage was inevitable, but the goal was there to minimize civilian casualties. In Japan it was an entirely different story and Curtis LeMay's campaign to completely destroy Japanese cities is probably one of the most questionable acts ever carried out by this country.

As for Iraq. I just love how some posters on this site seem to forget that one of the many shifting reasons for invading Iraq was to depose a vicious dictator who had slaughtered his own people. Now that we are there, these same posters seem to have no problem with participating in or actively supporting a government that will slaughter its own people.

I guess irony is truly dead.

Oh, and btw, southern Iraq is hardly stable. More stable than Central Iraq, yes. But it has been taken over by competing factions of fundamentalist Shiites who have set up strict Islamic law and rule with an iron fist and are funded by stealing oil. The British had to raid the police headquarters in Basra a couple weeks ago to release a bunch of prisoners who were being held in appalling conditions and had clearly been tortured.
1.3.2007 9:27am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It's a sad feeling to step up and defend America, as I must, and say, "no, actually, we are that stupid and ignorant and reckless ... sorry about that."

Don't include me in that "we". I predicted exactly this outcome from day one. I have been against this war from day one exactly because I envisioned this outcome. This president is so completely incompetent and stubborn this outcome was inevitable.
1.3.2007 9:31am
omarbradley:
go vols,

an odious and dangerous enemy? are you talking about the Nazis or the Russians? The Russians(our valued ally)were orders of magnitude worse than we were and we kept them in business throughout the war. Do liberals like yourself ever feel a tinge of sadness for the millions of German women raped by Stalin's FDR funded and supported Red Army? Didn't think so. FDR is a liberal God. A democratic icon. By any objective definition, the man was a war criminal. But the liberal Bush Bashers never mention guys like FDR, or Truman, or their prince JFK who got himself killed messing around with Castro and expanded US presence in Vietnam by more than 1000%.

That's right, liberals never mention that good old Frankie DR cozied up with a true monster in Djugashvili and slaughterer of tens of millions. Then, he and his haberdasher VP cozied up to Koba some more and handed him Eastern and Central Europe on a platter(along with its millions of citizens)to create a fundamentalist communist regime that ultimately created the worst mass murderer of the 20th century in Mao, Mao's protege Pol Pot, and wars in Korea and Indochina not to mention tyrants like the Kim family in the DPRK. Boy, FDR and Truman really were making the world safe for democracy, weren't they? Yet they're the liberal/democratic heroes. I wonder if the hundreds of millions around the world who were delivered into bondage feel that way?

You did use an interesting phrase, though, Go Vols(We Are Penn State by the way). "Unconditional Surrender"/ That is what I am looking for. The unconditional surrender of Al Qaeda, of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its armed forces, of the Duce in this case Bashar Asad. I don't think genocide is necessary. The Allied actions in Germany or Japan hardly rise to the level of genocide. By comparison with true genocides like those if the Jews and in Cambodia, they were nothing. I want President Bush to get on TV, and like FDR did, state that the war will not end until the unconditional surrender of the 3 aforementioned combatants. And then prosecute the war to achieve those objectives, like FDR and Truman did.

You don't and that's fine. I actually agree with liberals that we should leave Iraq because if Bush isn't willing to pursue that goal, our presence there is pointless and the sooner it ends the better.
1.3.2007 9:34am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I want President Bush to get on TV, and like FDR did, state that the war will not end until the unconditional surrender of the 3 aforementioned combatants. And then prosecute the war to achieve those objectives, like FDR and Truman did.

And of course that will mean raising taxes to WWII like levels, a draft, and real sacrifices--especially gasoline rationing, because the best thing we could do is immediately stop all oil imports. Are you ready for that?
1.3.2007 9:40am
omarbradley:
JF Thomas,

You know better. THE USAAF was an intimate parter with the RAF. We were involved heavily in bombing raids in Germany and in Japan. Not to mention France where we killed tens of thousands. Further, the US basically kept the RAF and RN in business throughout the war so to say it was a British OP is terribly naive. It had the full approval and and sanction of FDR, Eisenhower and the rest of the US command.

You can continue to mourn for dead Nazis. I believe there's a cemetary at Bitburg you could visit.

Coincidentally, neither Germany nor Japan has since made so much as a peep on the world stage. I wonder why?
1.3.2007 9:48am
omarbradley:
JF Thomas,

You bet I am and I called for it on 9/12/01. DO you think the country is? Do you think the NYT is? The dem caucus? The GOP caucus? Bush has utterly failed as a wartime leader. He's tried to fight his on the cheap and his mistakes are unforgiveable. He needs to be removed. Along with much of the uniformed brass, who've also failed miserably(Abizaid, Casey, Sanchez, etc...) If Clinton was in office the past 5 years, the GOP would have been calling for his head, but with W they let him slide. If Bush had called for total war and unconditional surrender that day, things would be a lot better off by now.

PS: FDR as you know, was incredibly racist, as was US propoganda during WW2. Just take a look at some of the posters, literature, pamphlets, speeches, etc... Use of terms like Japs, Nips, Huns, bucktoothed slant eyes, it was really horrible stuff. But W says the word "islamo-fascist" and he's a bigot. If Bush even got anywhere near FDR's rhetoric he would be branded as the American Fuehrer by the NYT. Ironic, in a way.

PPS: I apologize for that Bitburg comment. I meant it in a flippant tone, but I now see that it could be taken the wrong way. No offense intended, and I certainly didn't mean to tag you as a Nazi sympathizer. It was more of a "botched joke" as John Kerry would say and in any event it was uncalled for.
1.3.2007 9:57am
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
So you don't think genocide is "necessary" (how generous!), but you want Bush to get on TV and "demand the unconditional surrender" of a non-state terrorist group and two nations with whom we are not at war. I can't think of something that would make the U.S. seem even more impotent. Good luck fighting WWIII.
1.3.2007 10:01am
Just an Observer:
Gen. Casey seems to be set up in Hadley's remarks as a scapegoat for the failed Iraq strategy. As one of the generals who has resisted suggestions for escalated troop levels, he is out of sync with to the neocons' new drumbeat for escalation.
1.3.2007 10:10am
Shad:
OrinKerr:
Tom,

Why do you think the New York Times hates America?
1.3.2007 12:11am


No one said that the New York Times hates America. It is, however, clear that they're both willing and able to fabricate and publish compelling lies that advance the Democrat agenda.

Perhaps you could explain why you equate supporting the Democrats with hating America, Orin?
1.3.2007 10:10am
Ken Arromdee:
Honest commentators do not pretend to
We're winning because our Shiite allies are ethnically cleansing Iraq of Sunni Arabs. All we have to do is what we are doing now - keep the Sunni Arabs from forming organized combat groups capable of resisting Shiite militias and death squads, and it will be over in about 18 more months.


May I ask what you're going on about here? Someone who actually thinks the NYT is being deceitful would never claim that one side is causing the problems and then use phrases like "ethnic cleansing" or "death squads" to describe the other side.

This smacks of guilt-by-association. Instead of arguing that the Times is actually correct, you just try to smear people who argue that it is wrong by claiming they support ethnic cleansing (when in fact it's your caricature that supports ethnic cleansing).

You're just a troll. And everyone else should know better than to think you're for real.
1.3.2007 10:22am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
FDR as you know, was incredibly racist, as was US propoganda during WW2. Just take a look at some of the posters, literature, pamphlets, speeches, etc... Use of terms like Japs, Nips, Huns, bucktoothed slant eyes, it was really horrible stuff. But W says the word "islamo-fascist" and he's a bigot. If Bush even got anywhere near FDR's rhetoric he would be branded as the American Fuehrer by the NYT. Ironic, in a way.

And the American Military was segregated throughout the war. At POW camps in the south, German POWs were allowed to shop at "white commissaries and often ate their meals in the "white" mess hall with their white guards while their black guards ate separately and were forced to shop in inferior facilities. So what? Are you saying that was a good thing or we should return to those days? We are a much better and more enlightened society now.

You overstate the ruthlessness of the American Military in WWII, especially in Europe, and understate the conflict between the RAF and the USAAF. Even during the war there was great doubt and debate about both the morality and effectiveness of the strategic bombing campaign against Germany as it diverted resources from tactical airpower with questionable results (and stunningly high allied casualties until late 1944).

Furthermore, there is no doubt that our (and our western allies') treatment of German soldiers and civilians saved tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of lives, both allied and axis, in Europe during 1944 and 1945. You need only look at the number of people, both civilian and military, who died in Eastern and Western Europe, in the last year of the war to see this is true. On the eastern front, German soldiers fought to the death until the very last day of the war rather than surrender to the Russians while in the west they were surrendering in droves by April of 1945. Casualties on the Western Front remained level throughout almost the entire campaign even though troop levels went from about 500,000 in June '44 to almost 5 million a year later. The Russians probably suffered their worst casualties in the push for Berlin. As late as the end of April '45, German units were literally trying to fight through Russian lines just so they could surrender to the Americans.
1.3.2007 10:24am
omarbradley:
Ship Erect,

I guess a man in a wheelchair delivering an address calling for the unconditional surrender of the world's two mightiest militaries at a time when they controlled much of hte globe would have really been impotent? FDR must have had a good supply of Cialis? Only Lucy Mercer and Missy LeHand know for sure.

We just disagree, I want the unconditional surrender of our enemies and think that will bring us peace and security. You obviously have a different feeling. No biggie.

BTW, the Islamic Republic of Iran declared war on the US on Nov 4, 1979 when it invaded sovereign US territory. It has been at war with us ever since. Much like Osama declared war on the US during the Clinton administration, way before 9/11. The fact that we haven't responded to their declaration is to our detriment. Syria has declared war on us through their pact with Iran and through their actions in Iraq. They are a belligerent.

As for General Casey, there is joy in Baghdad today, as Casey's finally struck out. Goodbye and good riddance to an ineffective and failed General.
1.3.2007 10:24am
Ken Arromdee:
My sincere prayer is that all the Tom's out there who verbally support the way, all the InstaLump's constantly cheerleading the losing administration's game, are still around in 20 years and putting their loyalties then where their mouths and bragadoccio are now.

I repeat, he's a fake.

He can't actually argue that the Times is being accurate or that Bush is wrong, so instead he preemptively smears those who would oppose him on those issues by claiming they support ethnic cleansing.

And you suckers believed him.
1.3.2007 10:25am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Again, I think it'd GREATLY improve the comments around here if they could be limited to one comment per person per hour. Every thread seems to be degenerating into an unreadable flood by a few um... dedicated... posters. A post limit would eliminate the back-and-forth bickering and force people to put more thought into what they say.
1.3.2007 10:38am
omarbradley:
JF Thomas,

The NYT and other liberals and dems hold up WW2 as the good war and the greatest generation, in contrast to Bush. I was simply pointing out how in their zeal to canoninze liberal saints, they overlook a few things that if Bush did them, they'd call for his impeachment.

We disagree as the the impact of US force in WW2. You say I overstate it. You say I understate US/UK disputes. Unfortunately, this is one of thsoe things that historians will still be debating 100 years from now. We'll have to agree to disagree.

The larger point is that over or understated, the US military was far more ruthless in WW2 than in Iraq. This all started because an earlier poster was appalled by the violence in Iraq and the possiblity that a great many Sunnis may be killed.

My point is that when there's a war, a great many people are killed. That's usually what a war is. Generally, the way you achieve victory is by killing the enemy, destroying his war capacity and will to fight People seem to have forgotten that to win wars, the US killed MILLIONS of people. That's what war is. The more effectively we kill the enemy and destroy his will and capacity to fight, the sooner we achieve peace and go home.(or stay for 60 years as we have in Germany and Japan). Right now, we're not doing a very good job.

And these people who are appalled at the enemy dead are just hopelessly naive. I just never see these same people calling FDR or Truman a warmonger, demanding that the US military end its permanent bases in Germany or Japan, posthumously try FDR for crimes against humanity, etc... Perhaps Bush should surrender to Merkel and Abe to redeem our nation?
1.3.2007 10:46am
ReVonna LaSchatze:
real sacrifices--especially gasoline rationing, because the best thing we could do is immediately stop all oil imports. Are you ready for that?

The scary thing is... I was reading an article the other day. You know who is telling his people this, and actively working and showing signs of sacrifice and reducing outside oil dependence? Armj. of Iran. Say what you will about the "madman", but to write him off as a loony with no intelligence is not the right route. He is scary because he actually demonstrates strategic understanding like this.
1.3.2007 10:51am
Elliot Reed:
We did horrible things in World War II. Some of them, such as putting the entire population of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps and giving German POW's better treatment than our own black troops, were wholly unjustified and certainly would have justified impeachment. Other acts, such as firebombing Dresden and nuking Hiroshima, can be regarded as justified, if they even were, only in relation to the extraordinary nature of that war, where we faced an alliance of tyrannical, genocidal dictatorships set on taking over the world and (unlike Islamism) a serious chance of doing so.

Some have been arguing that "victory" in Iraq is only attainable on similar terms. Remember that this is a war we started, purportedly as a humanitarian intervention to liberate the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant. Even if the massive targeting of civilian populations some have been calling for would give us "victory," it would not provide anything cognizable as a success. Rather, it would be the utmost failure: destroying the country in order to save it.

Incidentally, there's no way al Qaeda and the like can surrender. Islamist terrorism, including alQ, is a highly decentralized movement of loosely connected cells. There's no single leader or command center who could order the rest of the movement to lay down their arms. If you don't understand that you have no idea what you're talking about.
1.3.2007 11:02am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
As for General Casey, there is joy in Baghdad today, as Casey's finally struck out. Goodbye and good riddance to an ineffective and failed General.

I just love how the Bush administration is setting itself up to blame everyone else for its failures in Iraq. Today the president has a letter in the WSJ to Congress that basically states he will blame them if they don't back him on the war. Yesterday's article in the post made it clear the Administration is going to blame the debacle of the last year on Casey.

So much for supporting the troops.

demanding that the US military end its permanent bases in Germany or Japan

Our bases in Germany in Japan were not there after the early fifties to prop up governments and in fact the status of forces agreements with Germany and Japan strictly prohibited the U.S. forces from interfering with their sovereignty. I worked for the U.S. Army in Germany (as a civilian) in '95--'96 and as far as I am concerned we should have pulled our troops out of Germany (except for a token force) when the Russians left. The waste, fraud and abuse that was going on in Europe was just appalling.
1.3.2007 11:07am
OrinKerr:
Shad,

I don't understand. To recap, I believe that Holsinger said at 12:08 that the New York Times wanted the United States to lose the war. Wishing that a country loses a war normally implies that one doesn't like that country: If you like a country, normally you would want them to win wars, right? I was then trying to figure out where Holsinger was coming from, and decided to see how far "out there" he was by assuming the most extreme view and seeing if he was there. His response at 12:19 indicated that yes, he was in fact there. When I pushed him on the implications of his views, he accused me of setting up a "straw man" and disappeared from the thread.

Omar Bradley attempts to change the topic into whether the New York Times is a liberal paper. But no one was arguing that, of course; the question was whether the New York Times "hates America," and thus whether any bad news about American interests that is reported in the New York Times should be viewed with suspicion. Tom Holsinger's view seems to be "yes" on both counts (see 12:19 am and 11:56 pm comments). I would like to find out more about his view, and I hope Tom is up to defending them.
1.3.2007 11:08am
Ken Arromdee:
When I pushed him on the implications of his views, he accused me of setting up a "straw man" and disappeared from the thread.

As I said, because he's a fake.
1.3.2007 11:12am
Randy R. (mail):
So I guess now the only way the US can win in Iraq is to become as ruthless as any other thugs on the international stage. This is what America has become -- just another thug who will kill whomever to get what it wants.

Hurray! So much for the shining city on the hill, or all that crap about bringin democracy to the world. The sunnis didn't ask for us to invade them, and they certainly didn't ask for us to wipe them out with ethnic cleansing.

From this day forward, any country in the world should be suspicious of our real aims and directions, since we will apparently kill anyone who stands in our way, without a second though, and certainly without regard to any international treaties or the Geneva Conventions.

And for what purpose? Please -- someone tell me what the purpose is to winning the war in Iraq, if that is even possible. If you are going to say to stop terrorism, I will just laugh. Anyone naive enough to believe that terrorists exist only in Iraq is pretty damn stupid.
1.3.2007 11:22am
Randy R. (mail):
And if our policy is not to utterly wipe out any Sunnis, then we have just create a whole new category of terrorist. Why would any sunni NOT become a terrorist against the US?
1.3.2007 11:23am
uh clem (mail):
I think I have to agree with you here, Ken. "Tom Holsinger" is a troll. No real person could be that obtuse. Check out these gems:

The New York Times is "misquoting people as a matter of policy."

"prosperity and economic growth are booming in the vast majority of Iraq"

"We're winning in Iraq"

The NYT hates America "Because the President is a Republican."

"We're winning because our Shiite allies are ethnically cleansing Iraq of Sunni Arabs."

1.3.2007 11:31am
sk (mail):
"the question was whether the New York Times "hates America," "

Hilarious. You remain the only person who has said this (twice!). Yet the question that Tom must have been thinking (which he never said) was why the New York Times 'hates' America. And you don't post straw man arguments.

"Omar Bradley attempts to change the topic into whether the New York Times is a liberal paper."

so what? you attempted (successfully) to change the topic into whether the New York Times 'hates' America. The difference between you and Omar is that you got away with it.

Tom screwed up-he didn't catch your sleight of hand the first time you tried it.

Sk
1.3.2007 11:38am
Caliban Darklock (www):
Hey, news flash, people.

War sucks. People die. Most of them don't deserve it.

Now go read some Kipling.
1.3.2007 11:40am
Stating the Obvious:
Orin, it IS possible to love one's country and still hope it loses a war.

For example, if one feels wars are in general bad for one's country (leading to higher taxes, loss of civil liberties, military drafts and militarization of civilian life, government growth, federal deficits, etc.) and therefore should not be fought unless one's way of life is seriously (not merely rhetorically) at risk, and if one notes the government tends to foment and get into wars for reasons that turn out to be deceitful and dishonest, then one might hope it loses a war or two, so as to make it less likely to enter other unnecessary wars in future.

Loving one's country does not require support of every war its government manages to start.
1.3.2007 11:50am
Adeez (mail):
Great point Stating the Obvious! But ironically, and sadly, your point is far from obvious to far too many.
1.3.2007 11:54am
OrinKerr:
sk, stating the obvious,

Tom Holsinger is a frequent commenter: If you're right, I hope he will come back and say so to clarify his views.
1.3.2007 11:55am
Porkchop (mail):
Fishbane,

Please pass the popcorn. Thanks.
1.3.2007 12:15pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It is possible to blame NYT howlers on "mistakes". Such as being so stupid as to refer to an medal awarded for being wounded as a "purple star". The we're-not-crooked-we're-ignorant defense could be stretched to include that. Would have to, now that I think about it.

However. The NYT did, in fact, deliberately misquote two people I know of. One was an officer recalled to active duty who wrote a sort of op-ed. The NYT twisted it to make it look extremely negative, which was not its intent. The guy complained so vociferously that Calame looked into it. A really screwy answer, but the point was that this was done on purpose. Not a matter of the reigning ignorance, but deliberately.
The NYT later cut a letter from a dead soldier, leaving in the negative part and excising the positive, which was considerably more extensive. Their response, when called on it by the family, was that they'd left the positive stuff in other letters from other soldiers. Which, when examined, makes you wonder why it was necessary to run yet another letter, if what had been previously published was sufficient.

This is deliberate. An action which takes effort. Not a matter of omission.

The NYT colluded with CBS on the al Kaaka ammo dump hoax, and had planned to hold it until too late--close to the election to be refuted--but, as the story goes, they accidentally let it out a week too soon, ruining CBS' next attempt at rathering the political process.

It is close to impossible to prove a motivation, however obvious it may be, if the standard is to get the other party to 'fess up.

So I don't bother trying to prove anything. I just keep score.

Calame, it should be said, has retracted his initial defense of the NYT's leak of the Swift program, saying he found it to be legal, secret, effective, and that there was no evidence of abuse.

You can speculate about the NYT's motivation, but the record is that you shouldn't trust them when what they report has some bearing on Bush or republican efforts.
1.3.2007 12:35pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oh, yeah.

Kerr's "why do you think the NYT hates...." straw man, planted axiom, words-in-another's-mouth was dishonest, vile and, unfortunately, worked.
So I expect we can see more of the same tactic.
1.3.2007 12:37pm
Jeek:
it IS possible to love one's country and still hope it loses a war... one might hope it loses a war or two, so as to make it less likely to enter other unnecessary wars in future.

No. The proper remedy is not to hope for defeat, but to insist on an improved intelligence process and more robust legislative oversight of the executive in the future.
1.3.2007 1:02pm
Mr. T.:
This is what Holsinger should have said is: "Well, I wouldn't say the Times hates America, but what I am saying is ..." What Prof. Kerr said is perfectly acceptable in the give-and-take of an argument. By keeping his head and responding smartly Holsinger could have put the ball right back in Kerr's court. By melting down and fleeing in the face of such a mild challenge, Holsinger betrayed a lack of confidence and possible a weak understanding of his own beliefs.
1.3.2007 1:14pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Mr. T.

Kerr's response was to impute that Holsinger said something that Holsinger did not say. That's called lying.

Now, if Holsinger had replied that he hadn't said it, etc, he would have been playing the second stage of Kerr's game, explaining why he hadn't said the NYT, etc.
Kerr, of course, wouldn't have accepted a bald statement of correction, but would only accept a lengthy explanation of why Holsinger doesn't really think....
That would put Holsinger on the defensive over something he hadn't said.
That way, Kerr gets the discussion off the original subject, which was the goal.
Kerr knows the steps to the dance, and it's unfortunate Holsinger didn't bust his balls for the attempt.
1.3.2007 1:28pm
Francis (mail):
According to the President, victory consists of the formation in Iraq of a:

stable, unitary, democratic, secular, pro-western state.

now, the best case appears to be the formation of a loose federation of a pro-Iranian Shia state in the south, with oil, a restless Kurdish state considering declaring independence in the north, with oil, and a displaced impoverished Sunni state in the west, without oil but near Saudi Arabia.

so, measured against the President's own criteria we get:

partial success, failure, likely failure, failure, complete failure.

This is not a win.
1.3.2007 1:48pm
Houston Lawyer:
Does anyone here think that the New York Times wants us to win this war? Their reporting is designed not to improve the prosecution of the war but to hinder it.

I believe that we could make more progress in Iraq by relocating our troops East to Iran.

One of the reasons our troops are currently suffering the number of casualties that they are is our soft prosecution of this war. By attempting to limit casualties on the other side we place our own troops at risk. If we used the tactics employed by my grandfather's generation in WWII we might be more successful.
1.3.2007 1:48pm
omarbradley:
JF Thomas,

Early 50s you say? That would be 6-8 years after VE and VJ day. So the US should have no problem with at least another 5 years or so in Iraq in permanent bases I guess

And we weren't propping up govts? All those guys who trained on the Fulda Gap and Reforger must be asking a lot a lot of questions right about now.

Orin Kerr: Wishing a country loses a war in no way implies that one hates the country. I hoped that Iraq lost the Gulf War in 1991. I didn't hate Iraq. I question whether the US should have lost WW1, that doesn't mean I hate America.

Also, the definition of "lose" is not the same as "surrender". For the NYT losing in Iraq is a withdrawal of troops and basically ending our involvement there. That's a far cry from having us capitulate to the enemy a la Japan on the USS Missouri. I don't think the TImes wants the US to surrender in Iraq. I do think the NYT wants the US to lose in Iraq, they've said as much themselves if you've paid attention to their editorials.

That said, I do think the NYT dislikes the America of the GOP, paticularly its Conservative wing. Hate might me a strong word, but it's often used to mean disagree or oppose and chosen for its rehtorical value.

I really don't think that's even up for debate.
1.3.2007 1:53pm
Jeek:
By melting down and fleeing in the face of such a mild challenge,

Maybe Holsinger is, you know, working or something instead of trolling blog forums. Like I should be doing - and probably you, too, mister! =)
1.3.2007 1:59pm
omarbradley:
Houston Lawyer,

Great point. I wonder if the NYT editorialists know about their hero FDR's War Censorship Board?

The First War Powers Act conferred on the President the powers of censorship. He had to decide how and by whom these powers would be exercised.

President Roosevelt established the Office of Censorship on December 19, 1941, by Executive order under the authority of the First War Powers Act.2 In announcing the establishment of the Office of Censorship and the appointment of Byron Price, Associated Press executive, as Director of Censorship, he said:


All Americans abhor censorship, just as they abhor war. But the experience of this and of all other nations has demonstrated that some degree of censorship is essential in wartime, and we are at war.
The important thing now is that such forms of censorship as are necessary shall be administered effectively and in harmony with the best interests of our free institutions.

The order read in part as follows:


The Director of Censorship shall cause to be censored, in his absolute discretion, communications by mail, cable, radio, or other means of transmission passing between the United States and any foreign country or which may be carried by any vessel or other means of transportation touching at any port, place, or territory of the United States and bound to or from any foreign country, in accordance with such rules and regulations as the President shall form time to time prescribe.

If Bill Keller and Gail Collins tried to pull some of this stuff in the 40s, they'd be rotting in Leavenworth or Marion right about now. Maybe they could say hi to Rick Ames or Zacharaias Moussaoui
1.3.2007 2:02pm
OrinKerr:
Richard Aubrey,

I'm afraid you don't understand my goals or my perspective. I was really just taken with Tom Holsinger's remarkable asides and couldn't help myself from inquiring; I am fascinated by what I take to be Holsinger's views, and I really want to know more about them. Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to somehow distract anyone from his points; if you think about it, getting into an extended exhange with a commenter -- or rather, trying to anyway -- is a strange way for a blogger to try to draw attention away from a comment. In any event, it's unfortunate that Holsinger doesn't feel comfortable participating in the thread.
1.3.2007 2:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
OrinKerr.

To put words in somebody's mouth is a strange way to keep on the subject. We should presume the subject is what he was talking about, not what you pretended he was talking about.

There is no practical use for the waste of cyberwhatsit involved in this straw man other than to obfuscate the subject and put him on the defensive.
What would be the utility to the discussion of requiring him to deny--at length and with apologies--that he really doesn't think the NYT hates the US?
Wouldn't that be a waste of time before you and he could get to the subject?

There are a number of dance steps involved in such discussions and they are organized for various purposes. We expect the other party to react as planned, which would be useful.
Instead of asking Holsinger why he thought the NYT hated the US, you might have tried a different dance and said his views smacked of racism. That's an oldie but still there are a few folks who reflexively allow themselves to be distracted and start apologzing and insisting they aren't racist and making sure never to say anything that you could possibly use to say smacks of racism.
It's a dance and it takes some effort to break the step and say, for example, "Racist! That crap wore out, sport. Try something else."

Holsinger should have said something like, "Don't be an idiot. Read what I said. Show me where I said anything like that. While you're looking, my points are as follows...."
1.3.2007 2:19pm
OrinKerr:
Richard Aubrey,

Just for the heck of it, let's go over this one last time. Tom's very first comment was this: "Anything the NY Times says about Iraq should be viewed with suspicions." He then indicated in a quick spurt of comments that he thinks that the New York Times wants the U.S. to lose the war, and is intentionally misrepresenting the facts. I then jokingly asked why he thought the Times hated America, and he responded with apparent seriousness "because the President is a Republican." Maybe Holsinger was in on the joke, and meant his response to be facetious? It could be that Holsinger's persona is fake, as Ken suggests; I don't know.

In any event, you'll recall that the original post was about the Bush Administration's internal assessment that the 2006 strategy didn't work. Holsinger didn't want to engage with this self-assessment; his approach was to dismiss the credibility of the source and ignore it. In any event, what do you think about it?
1.3.2007 2:34pm
SeaLawyer:
Orin,

Anything the NY Times says about Iraq should be viewed with suspicions." He then indicated in a quick spurt of comments that he thinks that the New York Times wants the U.S. to lose the war, and is intentionally misrepresenting the facts.


Do you actually disagree with this?
1.3.2007 2:39pm
Mr. T.:
Speaking of dance steps, notice how the conversation has been skillfully redirected from the merits of Holsinger's and Aubrey's arguments to the alleged mendacity of Orin Kerr.

Jeek:

How right you are. How right you are.
1.3.2007 2:42pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It was, to put it mildly, a dumb question.

I've worked with people--not as a matter of employment but in advocacy--who do really want bad stuff to happen to the US. They claim not to "hate" the US, but to want it to be better, and, apparently, they want me to think that, say, anarchy is an improvement. Command economy is an improvement. Inability to protect ourselves is an improvement. Confining the working class to some kind of rabbit warren (see an old Tom Wolfe on this) is an improvement.

Nope. They love the US. They just want it different.

Since the NYT isn't going to say anything about its motivation that is believable--if they have nefarious aims, they wouldn't admit it--asking them is useless. If we got their collective wrist up between their collective shoulder blades, they might admit they love the US but have a different dream. See Sulzberger's apology during a graduation speech for a hint.

If working to see the US lose in Iraq will move them toward this different dream, it isn't because they hate the US. Et tedious cetera.

And, like many liberals, they think their actions will not have consequences FOR THEM. Never have in the past.
So if we have another Killing Field in Iraq after precipitate withdrawal, it will be Bush's fault, not theirs. The GWOT can be lost in one theater and another and yet another but the results will never come home to them.

But hate the US? Perish the thought.

Time to paraphrase Orwell. People working out their BDS favor the Islamofascist.
1.3.2007 2:54pm
Ken Arromdee:
By melting down and fleeing in the face of such a mild challenge, Holsinger betrayed a lack of confidence and possible a weak understanding of his own beliefs.

... unless his statements weren't his own beliefs to begin with and his intent was to place words in his opponents' mouths and make them look weak and lacking in confidence.
1.3.2007 3:01pm
Stating the Obvious:
Me: it IS possible to love one's country and still hope it loses a war... one might hope it loses a war or two, so as to make it less likely to enter other unnecessary wars in future.

Jeek: No. The proper remedy is not to hope for defeat, but to insist on an improved intelligence process and more robust legislative oversight of the executive in the future.

---

If Jeek is right, then the following hypothetical is correct. We didn't go to war against Iraq, and now 3 years later we know everything we know now: that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, had no role in 9/11, and that removing him by force would lead to chaos and civil war in Iraq, that we'd be bogged down their for years if we went in.

And at this point, Bush decides to go in. Jeek opposes this, but Bush is the commander in chief. The troop have hit the ground. And now Jeek, knowing all he does, still has to support the war and hope the US "wins," meaning...?

I think the point is clear: if there's a good reason to oppose a war in the first place, there is often a good reason to get out as quickly as possible, even if this is defined as "losing". (Please note my careful use of the word "often" in the last sentence.)
1.3.2007 3:02pm
uh clem (mail):
Like many liberals blah blah blah New York Times blah blah blah nefarious aims blah blah BDS blah blah Islamofascist blah blah Hate America.

Do you really expect to change anyones opinion by spouting mindless slogans?
1.3.2007 3:07pm
sk (mail):
Orin-
Your overall tone suggests to me that you don't like Bush (our current president) or the Republicans (roughly half of the electorate). I have to ask; why do you hate America so?

Sk
1.3.2007 3:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Clem.

They aren't mindless slogans. They are, for the most part, direct experience.


Your nonsense syllables cover up the meaning. Too bad you weren't in a position to address the meaning.
1.3.2007 3:16pm
Jeek:
It should be obvious that it is immoral and odious to hope the US loses a war, especially when the true reason behind that hope is petty partisan spite.

if there's a good reason to oppose a war in the first place, there is often a good reason to get out as quickly as possible, even if this is defined as "losing".

There is no logical connection between the two, not least because intervention itself creates a fundamental change in the facts of the situation. The decision on whether or not to remain must be based on current reality and US national interest, not yesterday's stale political debate.

In short, we have a compelling interest in being victorious whenever we go to war, for whatever reasons (good, bad, subsequently invalidated, you name it).
1.3.2007 3:30pm
uh clem (mail):
Richard, you make me laugh. This stuff is pure comedy gold:

"Time to paraphrase Orwell. People working out their BDS favor the Islamofascist."
1.3.2007 3:36pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Clem

Glad I could cheer up your day.

What, though, is incorrect about the paraphrase of Orwell?
1.3.2007 3:50pm
Stating the Obvious:
Jeek: I generally find arguments that begin "it should be obvious" to often lack much in the way of substance and explanatory power.

Given your position--essentially "my country, right or wrong", the last refuge of...some people--let me ask you the following simple question:

Should a non-political innocent Iraqi citizen have also hoped when the US invaded his country three years ago that the US would win?

If so, then it is not the case that "we must always support our country in war" is a principle, unless the principle is (as I suspect) American exceptionalism.

If not, then presumably you can also imagine examples where a non-political innocent American citizen might hope the US wouldn't win.

If Bush and the Congress announced we had to reinstate the draft to win, would it still be supremely important that we win?

If they decided we had to imprison all members of the Muslim faith in Dearborn for the duration of the war on terror, would it still be supremely important that we win?

If they indicated a newly formed War Board would determine what industry you would be assigned to work in while the war went on, would winning it still matter more than anything?

If Bush and Congress decided on a war tax re-establishing WWII tax levels to cover costs, would winning be all that mattered?

Are you just not a serious person, or merely one with no imagination and difficulty thinking in principles?
1.3.2007 3:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Stating:

During the Cold War, we could afford to lose one or two--Southeast Asia comes to mind--and sit others out. But we could not afford to lose them all, lest we find ourselves tied up and in a position to lose or kick over the board, sometimes known as going nuclear. See Fehrenbach's "This Kind of War" for an extended discussion of the process.

The same is true in the GWOT. The question about Iraq is whether it is vital in the GWOT. The problem with that is that a good many opponents claim to think that the GWOT is solely a matter of arresting OBL. Or doing something or other to al Q. Or selling out Israel. If these are taken as true, Iraq is not vital. But few would, if given sufficient sodium pentothal, insist they really, really think arresting OBL would be the end of our troubles.
If we are truly in a war against Islamofascism, a GWOT, then what is the place of Iraq?
And if Iraq is vital, then, yes, your conditions would not change the need to win. They may change the mood in the country, but not the need, which is different.
In my opinion, Iraq is vital for the GWOT.
Part of the reason I am not particularly interested in going further with the argument is that most opponents of the Iraq venture will or have opposed whatever other ventures Iraq is supposedly distracting us from. That flip-flop indicates bad faith.

For example, I was talking to somebody who gave me the usual we're-ignoring-whatever on account of Iraq. I pointed out that we have one thing or another going on in over eighty countries and that Centcom will shortly be splitting off Afcom to be a separate command. He was horrified that we would be interfering in so many places that didn't want us. So, clearly, the we're-ignoring piece was just smoke. He didn't want us to do anything, or if he did, he couldn't think of what.
1.3.2007 4:03pm
uh clem (mail):
What, though, is incorrect about the paraphrase of Orwell?

Would you care to point out which Orwell quote you are parphrasing? I figured it was just a non-sequiter, but I'm actually curious which quote you are mangling.

Maybe I'm not reading your "People working out their BDS favor the Islamofascist." comment correctly, but you seem to be saying that those who criticize the President's policy on Iraq are consumed with Bush-Disfunction-Syndrome and support "Islamofacism" (whatever that may be). Is this what you mean, or would you care to elaborate?
1.3.2007 4:07pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
And we weren't propping up govts? All those guys who trained on the Fulda Gap and Reforger must be asking a lot a lot of questions right about now.

I didn't realize that our troops were in Germany to prevent civil war there and that the government would have collapsed if not for the presence of our troops. I always thought they were there to keep the Russians out and that the West Germans were our allies and created one of the most stable and prosperous democracies in western Europe after WWII. I stand corrected. Same with Japan.

He was horrified that we would be interfering in so many places that didn't want us. So, clearly, the we're-ignoring piece was just smoke. He didn't want us to do anything, or if he did, he couldn't think of what.

It's not my fault you talk to idiots. Of course Iraq (which wasn't part of the GWOT until Bush decided to make it part of it) has distracted us from more important fronts. Most importantly, it left Afghanistan unfinished, where we also went in with too few troops, left the fighting to a bunch of thugs and warlords, and left before the job was finished. Now we are paying for it with the rise of Narcoterrorism and the resurgence of the Taliban. And in Somalia, we backed the Ethiopians invading. They are going to cut and run in a couple weeks, leaving that country in total chaos. That will turn out to be a huge mistake. Maybe we could have paid more attention to that and the genocide in Darfur if we weren't tied down in Iraq.
1.3.2007 4:43pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Clem.

Just before WW II, Orwell noted that "objectively, pacifism favors the fascist". Perfectly clear. The pacifist has far more influence in a free society than in a fascist society.
Between the pacifists' public statements and the success, actual or perceived, in weakening the free society's ability to defend itself, the pacifist tilts the odds toward the fascist society. The fascist might be tempted, overemphasizing the effect of the pacifist due to wishful thinking, to start a war. Win or lose, the pacifist would then have an incremental responsibility for starting the war.
The survivors of the Oxford Union debate of 1933 showed up at the half-century re-enactment and begged The Kids to fail the resolution. They learned, at some price, I guess.
Orwell was using the term "favors" in the more Brit sense of enables or facilitates without the ingredient of intent. For example, rain favors farmers, although that is not its intent.

Orwell went on to insist he didn't mean pacifists actually liked fascists and were deliberately trying to make them win. It was, objectively, a result of their work, intent being irrelevant.

Today, protestations of honorable intent are like cheese sauce; used to cover up all manner of stuff we don't like.
It is not necessary to take them seriously, or believe them, but in Orwell's case, he felt intent was not part of the equation and didn't affect his conclusion.

There are people who make honest, although in my view erroneous, objections to the Iraq war and want us to leave instanter. There are others who hate everything Bush stands for--I have a relative who thinks Bush is responsible for the excessive Texas high school football culture and anything else she doesn't like--and therefore hate the Iraq venture. The latter case is working out BDS and favoring the Islamofascist. You can figure out Islamofascists on your own, I presume.
One objective result of protesting the war is to aid the other side in thinking if they just hold on long enough, we'll quit and they'll win. That result is independent of intent. They have Viet Nam as a lesson.

I would ask what would be wrong with every public figure howling for insurgent blood. Senators having to be physically restrained from assaulting a general who says something about rules of engagement. Statements that we will not flag or fail for the decades it takes to kill every last son of a bitch who even looks at us cross-eyed.
If words mean nothing to our enemies, then there should be no objection. If words mean something to our enemies, then there should be no objection to wondering of some of them damage our cause. Including encouraging the enemy.
1.3.2007 4:46pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
JF. Tanks don't do so good in Afghanistan. So taking armored formations and mech Infantry to Iraq didn't make a difference in Afghanistan.

The idiot I talked to is representative of a good many, but the case I was making is that they are actually lying. They use the distraction issue as if they believed it, but when working out the alternatives, they are forced to admit they want to do nothing.

So I presume you'd like to see a couple of more divisions in Astan. Right? And another hundred thousand guys will stop poppy production. Right?

I don't call you an idiot. I do say your "distraction" argument is bogus.
1.3.2007 4:50pm
uh clem (mail):
I would ask what would be wrong with every public figure howling for insurgent blood. Senators having to be physically restrained from assaulting a general who says something about rules of engagement.



A truly modest proposal. Thank you. Drive through.
1.3.2007 5:07pm
OrinKerr:
sk,

You aren't a very good guesser.
1.3.2007 5:25pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Man... this went on for 100 comments? I was amused by this part:

"Where did Tom H. go?" - 1.3.2007 4:37am

FOUR THIRTY AM??? Where do you THINK he went?
1.3.2007 6:40pm
Sk (mail):
"You aren't a very good guesser."

Oh, but I wasn't guessing. Just setting up a strawman argument (or not, depending on your perspective...)

Sk
1.3.2007 7:47pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
So I presume you'd like to see a couple of more divisions in Astan. Right? And another hundred thousand guys will stop poppy production. Right?

No, the time for a couple more divisions was in 2002 when we were getting the government in Afghanistan up and running. It is much too late now. Just like the time for getting all the boots on the ground that Shinseki rightly said we needed was in 2003, not now. This President does the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place. Always a day late and a dollar short. You gripe about your liberal friends and their BDS. You need to look at yourself. What possible immediate threat did Saddam pose that justified the treasure and lives we have expended there? Can you really believe that the intelligence was so bad that Cheney really believed there was "no doubt" that Saddam had reconstituted his WMD programs or that Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda? Or that Rumsfeld knew "exactly" where the stockpiles of WMD were even though we were telling the inspectors where to look but they were finding nothing.

Face it, the invasion of Iraq was an incredible strategic blunder in the GWOT and everything George Bush has done in the last four years has only made it worse. Now, he apparently plans to send another 30,000 troops or so into Baghdad. That will fix absolutely nothing. The only plan I can see he has is hold out another two years and pass the whole mess off to his successor so he can go fish on his ranch.
1.3.2007 7:56pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
JF. Can you explain what has changed in Astan that more troops would be ineffective? If they're out there fighting, they'd have some effect, right? Why would that effect have no effect?

You might want to be looking at the translated docs captured in the initial invasion.
Unfortunately, you can't. The NYT complained that one of them was entirely too detailed a plan to make a nuclear bomb. So the feds stopped letting the docs out. That the doc came from Iraq is a detail the NYT can depend on people like you to ignore.

I can believe the intel was so bad. Remember 1998, a good year. All those dems speaking stoutly about the WMD and Saddaam's threat and so forth.
Kaye and Duelfer are firm that the programs were ready for reconstitution as soon as the sanctions were off and the inspectors gone.

And so forth. So, yes, I can believe it.

What is "immediate", anyway?

How "immediate" does something have to be to justify action?

Stopping the German occupation of the Rhineland in 1936 didn't seem to be an immediate threat to anybody, did it?
1.3.2007 9:07pm
Shad:
Shad,

I don't understand. To recap, I believe that Holsinger said at 12:08 that the New York Times wanted the United States to lose the war. Wishing that a country loses a war normally implies that one doesn't like that country: If you like a country, normally you would want them to win wars, right? I was then trying to figure out where Holsinger was coming from, and decided to see how far "out there" he was by assuming the most extreme view and seeing if he was there. His response at 12:19 indicated that yes, he was in fact there. When I pushed him on the implications of his views, he accused me of setting up a "straw man" and disappeared from the thread.


I appreciate your direct answer, Orin. You think that the New York Times hates America because by making up stories to bolster Democratic talking points it's trying to make America lose the war.

Do you think that all of the pro-Democrat propaganda from the New York Times counts as proof that the hate America, or would you limit it to only the demonstrably false stories they publish?

(Wow, building these strawmen is almost as much fun as building snowmen! Maybe with some luck, these repeated cartoonish mischaracterizations of what you said will cause you to lose interest in the conversation and disappear from this thread — at which point, I can proudly tout your leaving as proof that these buffoonish strawmen statements were accurate representations of what you were really thinking!)
1.3.2007 9:57pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It's conceivable that the NYT doesn't want the US to lose the war. They want Bush to lose the war.
That this means the US loses the war is either irrelevant or a bonus.
1.3.2007 10:03pm
Enoch:
I generally find arguments that begin "it should be obvious" to often lack much in the way of substance and explanatory power.

Ironically, this is clearly a play on your own tagline (Stating the Obvious). So everything you say lacks substance and explanatory power, since you always begin with the phrase "Stating the Obvious". Right?
1.3.2007 10:16pm
Speaking the Obvious:
No, dear Enoch. Things I say are obvious only after I explain them. :-)

And, flattering though it is to think Jeez was plahing on my tagline, arguments that being "it should be obvious" have a long, if inglorious, history, which clearly predates my tag.
1.3.2007 11:48pm
OrinKerr:
Shad,

You have misunderstood me completely, and I am delighted to take this opportunity to set things straight. The New York Times is a "they," not an "it." It doesn't make sense to talk of it "hating America," I think, and I don't have any reason to think that any individual person at the Times hates America. If you're still unclear about this, please let me know.
1.4.2007 12:49am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
OrinKerr.

Given the NYT's record, do you have any reason to think any individual person working there hates Bush? And hates him enough to skew the news so as to damage Bush without being concerned about other effects of the skewing?
1.4.2007 6:20am
Jeek:
Given your position--essentially "my country, right or wrong",

No, my position is that military victory has an inherent value to the United States, regardless of how the war starts. Moreover, once we are committed, we owe it to the people fighting it, to the Iraqis, and to ourselves to win it if we can. Note that, despite all your idiotic straw men, the statement that "victory has value" does NOT mean that the value of victory trumps all other values. It does mean that we should assess our interests (which include being victorious as well as many other things) in light of the situation NOW, without reference to the moot point of whether or not the war started for "valid" reasons.

the last refuge of...some people

Well, if you're going to start name-calling (or name-implying), there is a word for people who hope their country loses a war. That word is not "patriot", however much you protest otherwise.

Should a non-political innocent Iraqi citizen have also hoped when the US invaded his country three years ago that the US would win?

Depends on that person's assessment of Iraq's national interests. In principle, that person could argue either way with validity. There would not be a conflict in Iraq now if all Iraqis agreed that the US should win, or if all Iraqis agreed that the US should lose.

If so, then it is not the case that "we must always support our country in war" is a principle,

"We have a compelling interest in victory" is not the same as "we must always support our country in war."

unless the principle is (as I suspect) American exceptionalism.

Wow, does this mean you have figured out that all countries are not the same?

If Bush and the Congress announced we had to reinstate the draft to win, would it still be supremely important that we win? If they decided we had to imprison all members of the Muslim faith in Dearborn for the duration of the war on terror, would it still be supremely important that we win? If they indicated a newly formed War Board would determine what industry you would be assigned to work in while the war went on, would winning it still matter more than anything? If Bush and Congress decided on a war tax re-establishing WWII tax levels to cover costs, would winning be all that mattered?

Heh, all this nonsense from a person who accuses me of not being serious. Truly, I am amused.

Previously, you argued that why the war started should decisively affect whether or not we continue the war and seek victory. This is clearly not true. Now you are arguing that how the war is fought should affect whether or not we continue and seek victory. This is true - but I have already said this ("The decision on whether or not to remain must be based on current reality and US national interest"). Since none of your hypotheticals here reflect current reality, and US national interest does not require doing any of these things, they need no further discussion.

Are you just not a serious person, or merely one with no imagination and difficulty thinking in principles?

I think I am MUCH more serious than you. You seem to think war is some sort of game, and that defeat won't matter to ourselves, to Iraq, or to the world. We can just restart at the last save point, and it's no big deal. You also think that whether or not BUSH LIED in 2002-2003 is more important than a clear-eyed evaluation of our national interest in 2007. In my view, all this is the very acme of short-sightedness, lack of imagination, and lack of seriousness.
1.4.2007 8:35am
Jeek:
Incidentally, yes, I deliberately started that other post with "it should be obvious" in order to play on your tagline.
1.4.2007 8:36am
Shad:
Orin,

Since you invested the time and effort to make things clear on your view of the it/they newspaper distinction (which you didn't seem to follow in your original effort to put words in Tom's mouth), I couldn't help but notice your intentional avoidance of explaining why you equate supporting the Democrats with hating America? (Perhaps now that you've had a few days to think it over, you're embarrassed to have admitted such a thing publicly and would like to take this opportunity to deny it.)
1.4.2007 7:34pm
OrinKerr:
Shad,

Once again, I am delighted to clarify. Contrary to your understanding, I do not equate supporting the Democrats with hating America. Indeed, I take as a given that all of us -- Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians, Greens, you name it -- we all love our country. We simply have different views as to what is in our country's best interests. I hope you will join me in taking that view.
1.5.2007 12:52am
Shad:
Orin, please accept my apologies. Let's face it: I have been an obnoxious ass in this thread, and you deserve much better. Again, please accept my apologies.

(N.B.: Edited creatively by OK)
1.5.2007 3:38pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

You sir, are a disgrace to your pseudonym. As a matter of fact I do mourn the German and Japanese civilians slaughtered wholesale by the morally and strategically questionable strategic bombing campaign. And for one who assumes the name of a WWII general you seriously misstate history.


I used to joke that the reason conservatives compared every war to WWII when talking to liberals was that Hitler was the last villian the left could agree was actually a villian. I see now that this joke didn't go nearly far enough to match the despicable reality.
1.5.2007 10:25pm