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"Is the War in Iraq Lost?":
The Washington Post posed the question to "some key figures in the Iraq debate," and today's paper reports their answers.
Paddy O. (mail):
Powerful way to end that article. Thanks for posting this.
4.29.2007 10:21pm
Mark Field (mail):
When I click the link I only get 2 of the 9 opinions.

Personally, I think "failed" is a better term than "lost".
4.29.2007 10:28pm
curious:

When I click the link I only get 2 of the 9 opinions.



Follow the "Continued" options on the bottom right.
4.29.2007 10:34pm
Dave N (mail):
I agree with Paddy O--the last comment was the most compelling.
4.29.2007 10:44pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Almost everyone who said the war was not lost compared it to some other situation where things looked bleak and then got better. I'd be happier relying on more than analogy....

I think the first comment was the best. The war is not "ours" to win or lose.
4.29.2007 10:51pm
Enoch:
Outlook asked some key figures in the Iraq debate whether Reid is right.

With the possible esception of Hadley, I would not describe any of the people asked for opinions as "key figures in the Iraq debate".
4.29.2007 10:53pm
DougS (mail):
What does win mean? Answer that and you can answer the other question.
4.29.2007 10:57pm
Curt Fischer:
The Washington Post article quotes Victor Davis Hanson as saying:


The war is not lost -- no more than it was in winter 1776, July 1864, December 1945 or November 1950.


I don't get the reference to December 1945. Can someone enlighten me?
4.29.2007 11:09pm
byomtov (mail):
I don't get the reference to December 1945. Can someone enlighten me?

1. Hanson is an idiot.

2. He is probably referring to the Battle of the Bulge, in December, 1944.
4.29.2007 11:13pm
tjvm:
I didn't find the last comment very insightful. Even if the war is not "inherently unwinnable" (which I doubt it is), you still have to ask whether it can be won with a reasonable commitment by the US. Will it take another 5 years? 10 years? 15? 10,000 more casualties? 20,000? Another 500 billion dollars? A trillion?

I'd certainly like to see a real victory of some sort, but the value of a victory is not infinite.
4.29.2007 11:27pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Since the opposition lacks air support or artillery, they are utterly incapable of driving US forces from the field by force and thus the US can't lose militarily but only on the US political battlefield.

The DemonCats could lose the war but the Pentagon can't.
4.29.2007 11:55pm
Justin (mail):
tjvm, war supporters are going to find the last statement powerful because it can justify the war effort for the next 8000 years, regardless of how bad it gets. It's rhetoric that works in the face of whatever facts you throw at them. But most important, given that we are going to lose the war, it sets up the right to place all the blame on the left for losing a war that in all likelihood was never "winnable" (whatever that means, as the right has never elaborated) in the first instance. Another Vietnam, if you will.
4.29.2007 11:55pm
Justin (mail):
Duncan, you capitalized the wrong letter. Learn how to be insulting correctly, will you?

And yes, the Pentagon, so long as they are given unlimited resources and recruits from the United States, cannot lose this war. The fact that they cannot *win* this war either is probably irrelevant to you, as long as the United States is willing to spend $10,000 per person, per year, on "not losing" a war, indefinitely - and accepting the loss of US and Iraqi lives in order to preserve your ego.
4.30.2007 12:03am
BGates (www):
[Deleted by OK on civility grounds. C'mon folks: I know you're all incredibly confident that truth, justice, and the American way are on your side, but please be civil to the unenlightened that somehow disagree with you.]
4.30.2007 12:19am
Mark Field (mail):

Follow the "Continued" options on the bottom right.


Doh! *Slaps forehead* Thanks.
4.30.2007 12:22am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I don't think that this article changed anyone's minde. But I was struck by this from a member of the Iraq Study Group:
Yes We persist in applying a conventional military mindset to an unconventional war. The "surge" is more of the same. Until we change our approach and reduce our big footprint, Iraq's future is as bleak as Iraq's present.
I think that this says more about the Iraq Study Group than about the situation in Iraq right now. After all, the biggest change in the last couple of months is precisely that, that Gen. Petraeus has switched the U.S. from fighting a holding action to counter-insurgency. Bruce Hoffman, of Georgetown University, and the Iraqi Study Group, appears to be oblivious to that.
4.30.2007 12:47am
Randy R. (mail):
So -- how many more years, how many more lives, and how many more billions to Halliburton until we can declare victory and pull out? Any takers?

At least people are being just a tiny bit more honest. Bush and Co. assured us that war would be over within a few months, and that the costs would be completely borne out of Iraqi oil revenues. It would be a free war! Now we see it's much worse than that.

Another thing: The next time Bush or someone else wants to go to war, will you folks PLEASE let other voices speak up, and not shout them down as unpatriotic traitors? There *were* people who said this war would last a very long time, and would be costly, but their voices were ignored by everyone, including the press. Perhaps we can learn a lesson or two about vigorous open debate?

I'm not holding my breath on that, though, based on the comments I see here.....
4.30.2007 1:34am
Michael B (mail):
The WaPo's question is explicitly asked in the wake of H. Reid's condemnation of the Pres. and the continuing problems in Iraq. I do not recall the last time Reid condemned al Qaeda, sectarian militants and Iranian and other foreign sponsored "insurgents" in Iraq, together with their macabre tactics, with such unalloyed vitriol, vigor and banal certitude. In fact, I don't recall the last time Reid or the Left/Dems did so vis-a-vis similar factions and tactics in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, ever politically invested, Reid decries Bush in a manner expected if the issue were a domestic political fight, together with prospects for political prizes - i.e. absent any depth and absent any articulation of what to expect in the wake of withdrawal.

Do agree that Makiya's statement was the most compelling, even if his concluding sentence is too much of a summary statement and needs to be generously interpreted to include Iraqi commitments. Makiya does warrant such a generous interpretation however, his lengthier commentaries support such an interpretation as did a recent statement of his on Charlie Rose.

Too, John Burns of the NYT, one of the least beguiling reporters and commentators on Iraq and hardly a shill for the Administration, as interviewed by Lauer recently: "[The jihadists and insurgents] know the political dynamic in the United States is moving in a direction that is probably going to be favorable to them."
4.30.2007 2:54am
Kovarsky (mail):
why on earth do we have to frame the debate this way? it's not "lost" versus "not lost." it's what are the cost of the various strategies that would achieve our objectives versus the benefits those objectives secure.

who cares if it's "not lost," if it is going to take infinity resources to win it. of course the war is not lost if we institute a draft, or if we demand longer tours of those currently serving, or if we are willing to alienate europe even further, or if we are willing to sacrifice the lives of more americans, or any of those things. of course we can "win" the war, whatever that means anymore. the question is whether the cost is worth any benefit that can reasonably be achieved.

the patriotism card is about the lamest thing anybody can break out. leave it to us to allow a war of guns abroad to precipitate a war of manners domestically.
4.30.2007 2:59am
Kovarsky (mail):

I do not recall the last time Reid condemned al Qaeda, sectarian militants and Iranian and other foreign sponsored "insurgents" in Iraq, together with their macabre tactics, with such unalloyed vitriol, vigor and banal certitude.

(1) I am a Houston Astros fan. I grouse about the Astros constantly. I do not care about the Toronto Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I have nary a word to say about the Arizona Diamondbacks. That does not mean I like the Blue Jays more.

(2) Is vitriol ever alloyed?

(3) How is what Reid said both freakishly unusual and "banal." Pick one meme or the other.

In fact, I don't recall the last time Reid or the Left/Dems did so vis-a-vis similar factions and tactics in Afghanistan.

That probably means Reid wants "them" to win. His scrutiny of the administration probably reflects a desire to lose the war rather than, say, recognition of the political entity in which he participates as a senator.
4.30.2007 3:16am
Michael B (mail):
(1) So the Astros vs. the Blue Jays is an apt analogy with the Administration vs. the jihadists, salafists, etc.? The sports analogy certainly comports with Reid's lack of gravitas, a lack which was underscored with the note that "Reid decries Bush in a manner expected if the issue were a domestic political fight, together with prospects for political prizes - i.e. absent any depth and absent any articulation of what to expect in the wake of withdrawal."

(2) Word games; but yes, there can be and in fact are degrees of vitriol.

(3) Yes, sarcasm and snark. But no, no one is suggesting Reid positively and consciously is rooting for al Qaeda, sectarian insurgents, foreign operatives, etc. (E.g., no one suggested Chamberlain, at the time of Munich, was positively rooting for Hitler either - though some during that era were.) And again, see #1 directly above - that Reid is scrutinizing the Administration there is no doubt and there is no problem with that either, obviously enough. That is not the complaint. What Reid and other Left/Dems lack however is any responsible scrutiny and articulation vis-a-vis those insurgents, jihadists, etc. in the wake of a withdrawal - a scrutiny which additionally risks some measure of accountability.
4.30.2007 3:53am
Beem:
I'm sure that, were one honest enough to check, there are truly hundreds and hundreds of statements by Senator Reid made against both terrorism and terrorists. The hysterical insinuations that our Senator is a terrorist-lover or a Chamberlain, because, god forbid, he questions the wisdom of our Dear Leader's incoherent policies, is preposterous and pathetic. I suppose that when you are out of rational responses, the last refuge is blatant character assassination.

That point is Michael B, that a person who is honest and intelligent would never think that Mr. Reid does not condemn terrorists. Perhaps if you spent less time regurgigating drek from talk radio, you would realize that.

And incidently, calling terrorist names will not stop them. It is a particular obsession of certain wingnuts to obsess over lame branding like Islamofascists, as if "terrorists" was too simple a concept to grasp. Perhaps Mr Reid is more interested in action rather than trite words, which is about the only damn thing beyond their stroking their ego Bush conservatives seem good for these days.
4.30.2007 4:33am
Kovarsky (mail):
Michael B,

(1) So the Astros vs. the Blue Jays is an apt analogy with the Administration vs. the jihadists, salafists, etc.? The sports analogy certainly comports with Reid's lack of gravitas, a lack which was underscored . . .

Michael, you might choose to respond to the analogy, which I can only continue to assume that you understand. We more carefully scrutinize those institutions that we care more deeply about, that we feel we have some capacity to influence, and about which we anticipate some disagreement. I promise that Reid, the "lefties," the "dems," the "abortionators," the "pinkos," and any other pejoratively named group will stipulate to the fact that the terrorists/insurgents are awful people. It seems that you expect that stipulation to be articulated at the expense of all other discourse. Talk about banal.

(2) Word games; but yes, there can be and in fact are degrees of vitriol.

I'm making the broader point that a grown man should be able to engage other human beings - either orally or in writing - without using the term "vis-a-vis" in every sentence. I suppose pithy-but-polysyllabic superlatives might play well for the bowtie set, but I guess I just don't know.

(3) What Reid and other Left/Dems lack however is any responsible scrutiny and articulation vis-a-vis those insurgents, jihadists, etc. in the wake of a withdrawal - a scrutiny which additionally risks some measure of accountability.

O I see. The lefty/dems/weenies are not attuned to the grisly reality on the ground in Iraq. They are unwilling to face the grisly truth about the enemy. I presume conservative voices saying the same things that Reid is don't fit so conveniently into your model, so let's just ignore 'em.
4.30.2007 4:45am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I find this entire exercise rather silly. If you're going to go to all the trouble to ask supposed experts of one sort or another about their views on Iraq, shouldn't you publish more of those views than the Onion publishes of its fake man-on-the-street surveys?

What is the value of a one or two sentence response from anybody to the question posed? Perhaps if they were asking candidates, it would at least give us a tiny glimpse into their proposed approach to Iraq from now on. (It still would be pretty worthless, but it would have a tiny glimmer of sense to it.) But since none of the people asked are running for office, why do we care what their soundbite answers to the question are? If we knew why they felt that way, perhaps we might learn something and we could have a slightly more informed approach to deciding our own views on the subject (*). But so what if Hadley and Hanson say yes and Hoffman and Dallek say no? Now what?



(*) On the infinitesimal chance that there is someone whose views aren't locked in stone at this point.
4.30.2007 7:30am
PersonFromPorlock:
Curt Fischer:

I don't get the reference to December 1945. Can someone enlighten me?

Presumably a typo for "1941."
4.30.2007 8:31am
Jeek:
The hysterical insinuations that our Senator is a terrorist-lover or a Chamberlain, because, god forbid, he questions the wisdom of our Dear Leader's incoherent policies, is preposterous and pathetic.

"Questioning the wisdom" of the administration is fine and dandy. Yet where are the Democratic proposals for a viable, responsible, and superior alternative strategy? Pretending that "the war will be over" and everything will be hunky dory once we pull our troops out is not only irresponsible but is truly preposterous and pathetic. And the "reasoning" I've heard so far - that nothing truly bad will happen if we abandon Iraq - is equally irresponsible and unconvincing to say the least.
4.30.2007 9:34am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
I have a coherent narrative:

I Support Democracy In Iraq

or if you are interested in a more animated version:

I Support Democracy In Iraq - The Animation

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. - John F. Kennedy
4.30.2007 9:57am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
why on earth do we have to frame the debate this way? it's not "lost" versus "not lost." it's what are the cost of the various strategies that would achieve our objectives versus the benefits those objectives secure.
Ask Senator Reid.
who cares if it's "not lost," if it is going to take infinity resources to win it. of course the war is not lost if we institute a draft, or if we demand longer tours of those currently serving, or if we are willing to alienate europe even further, or if we are willing to sacrifice the lives of more americans, or any of those things. of course we can "win" the war, whatever that means anymore. the question is whether the cost is worth any benefit that can reasonably be achieved.
But that is never the way the debate is phrased. And, yes, it is probably a much better way of doing so.
the patriotism card is about the lamest thing anybody can break out. leave it to us to allow a war of guns abroad to precipitate a war of manners domestically.
I should ask then why Dean's DNC talking points are quite often the place where this is asked, as a straw man arugment. Almost always, when it is alleged that someone on the pro side of the war has attacked someone's patriotism, we find that in fact, no such claim had been made. Rather, it was a throwaway strawman trotted out to deflect criticism of those suggesting cutting and running.
4.30.2007 9:58am
mishu (mail):
It is a particular obsession of certain wingnuts to obsess over lame branding like Islamofascists, as if "terrorists" was too simple a concept to grasp.

The goal of al Quaeda is to restore a nation state that imposes salafist Islamic rule upon the people. Elections are considered "haram" and women have 1/4th the rights of man. Gays are hanged for being who they are and adulterers are stoned to death. If this is not fascism, what would you call it?
4.30.2007 10:02am
mishu (mail):

who cares if it's "not lost," if it is going to take infinity resources to win it. of course the war is not lost if we institute a draft, or if we demand longer tours of those currently serving, or if we are willing to alienate europe even further, or if we are willing to sacrifice the lives of more americans, or any of those things. of course we can "win" the war, whatever that means anymore. the question is whether the cost is worth any benefit that can reasonably be achieved.


Do you think we should pull U.S. troops out of Germany? Japan? South Korea?
4.30.2007 10:04am
Ken Arromdee:
I am a Houston Astros fan. I grouse about the Astros constantly. I do not care about the Toronto Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I have nary a word to say about the Arizona Diamondbacks. That does not mean I like the Blue Jays more.

There is no equivalent in baseball to gaining political capital from telling people how bad your team is. There's also no such thing as having an ideology about how baseball should not be played and exaggerating the failings of your team as a result (while remaining silent about a different baseball game that's so popular that exaggerating your team's failings in it will marginalize yourself).

That probably means Reid wants "them" to win. His scrutiny of the administration probably reflects a desire to lose the war rather than, say, recognition of the political entity in which he participates as a senator.

There's a whole spectrum of positions between "supports the administration" and "wants the enemy to win"; accusing him of political bias doesn't mean accusing him of wanting the enemy to win.
4.30.2007 10:45am
rarango (mail):
Without trying to revive the whole debate about Iraq and links with terrorism, I would have wished that the question be: Is the war on terror winnable? I believe how one answers that question will also answer the question about the war in Iraq. It could be that the acts of terror could wind down and end up rather like the "troubles in Northern Ireland," with sporadic acts of violence throughout the UK--I havent seen too much on that conflict as an exemplar of the Iraq situation, but I suspect it could be useful.
4.30.2007 10:46am
Stacy (mail) (www):
After all these years, the antiwar crowd still seems to hang its hat on snarky one-liners and conspiratorial references to Halliburton. Not very compelling, guys.

Anyway, the comments in that Post story seem like a broad survey of attitudes toward the war. The ISG member's blanket comparison to Vietnam thoroughly undermines my opinion of that bunch, while the various for- and against- pundits' opinions seemed vaguely half-hearted, probably because they've been arguing the issue literally for years and are tired of repeating themselves. The soldier's-eye views were predictably local and and optimistic even if they thought it was going badly. Soldiers are like that -- I wish the rest of society was, too. And did anyone else notice that the first and last comments were basically the opposite of each other? The American chattering class says our will doesn't matter, and the Iraqi says it's the only thing that matters. We'll see who's right...
4.30.2007 10:47am
Rich B. (mail):

It's up to you The Iraq war is lost or won if the American people choose to lose or win it. With the way things are going at the moment, I perfectly understand why they might choose to give up on the war. But that is not because the war is inherently unwinnable by a country as great and rich and powerful as the United States.



The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics strikes again!
4.30.2007 10:49am
Eli Rabett (www):
Logic defeats those who will not admit that the Iraq invasion was a thing done at the wrong place at the wrong time when the US was under threat and has gone downhill from there. Had the resources spent on Iraq been used against the Taliban and Al Queda they would have been defeated completely. Instead they went to ground and are coming back at us.

If an army finds itself fighting a losing battle, the sensible strategy is to retreat and regroup. The WWI strategy is to throw more troops onto the killing fields so they can be killed for the honor of the generals and presidents.
4.30.2007 10:51am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
If an army finds itself fighting a losing battle, the sensible strategy is to retreat and regroup. The WWI strategy is to throw more troops onto the killing fields so they can be killed for the honor of the generals and presidents.

Yep. This is so like WWI. Tens of thousands lost in every battle. Thousands dying every day.

Why last month alone America lost 100 troops and the Iraqis something like 1,000 to 2,000 civilians.

Defeat is at hand. Time to give up the Iraqi democrats to the head choppers. It's the Democratic thing to do.

===

I Support Democracy In Iraq
4.30.2007 11:06am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Pretty much the expected lines, though their inclusion of Hanson's pitiful rhetoric makes you wonder how many other people wouldn't return the reporter's phone calls.

We had our chance in 2003, once we routed Saddam's army, to go in with plenty of boots on the ground, begin training the (non-disbanded) Iraqi Army in earnest, &set about instilling the rule of law. Democracy could be expected to follow, maybe, if we were lucky. It was always more likely to fail than not, but we could have given it our best effort.

Instead, we sat back and watched the looting of Baghdad &elsewhere, destroyed our credibility with the people we supposedly came there to save, told all the soldiers to take their guns and go home, and didn't start taking training seriously until 2005.

Now it's 2007, and people say "but look at the terrible things that will happen if we leave." They are already happening while we are there.

I take very, very seriously the argument that, having wrecked the country, we have an obligation to its citizens. But I just don't believe we are competent to fulfill that obligation. And if we're not, then all we're doing is sacrificing American kids' lives on top of the Iraqi lives.

That's why I think it's time, and past time, to get out. My opinion could be mistaken, but I cannot take seriously anyone who treats it as ridiculous, etc. Because the ridiculous people are the ones who cheered Bush and Rumsfeld on as they screwed up time and again -- the Victor Davis Hansons, for instance.
4.30.2007 11:50am
Nate F (www):
A friend of mine, who spent much of his childhood in Switzerland, asked me last night whether I thought America would have to go through bloody war upon bloody war, as Europe did, to finally draw the conclusion that there are some things more important than pride. I didn't know how to answer him.
4.30.2007 11:54am
Kovarsky (mail):
Do you think we should pull U.S. troops out of Germany? Japan? South Korea?

Goodness.

(1) I support Democracy in Iraq; (2) I support swift, powerful military action when necessary either as a reaction to an attack; (3) I support swift, powerful military action when necessary to preempt an attack; (4) I think terrorism are loathesome creatures, incomparable in moral character to any of their adversaries; (5) I think cutting and running, in the sense of leaving Iraq entirely, is ridiculous.

It's is amazing to me how what should be one of the less controversial statements on this thread - we should persist in the war only if its costs, however measured, exceed its benefits, however measured - can be pilloried as "anti-war."

If that statement is one of an "anti-war" sympathizer, then the only way not to be "anti-war" in the pejorative sense used by most commenters, is to decide to stay in a war where we know we will be incurring greater costs than we will be securing benefits. I've never thought of myself as anti-war, but if that's the case, then I guess I am. That defines pro-war, of course, as a mindless devotee of a quixotic military interventions doomed to failure. If that is what pro-war means, then I am not that either.
4.30.2007 12:04pm
Randy R. (mail):
"Yet where are the Democratic proposals for a viable, responsible, and superior alternative strategy? "

Translation: We Republicans don't know what to do, so now we will through it in the lap of the Dems to figure a way out, and if they can't then they should just shut up.

Look, Bush hasn't said many good things either. How many times have we 'turned the corner' on Iraq, only to find ourselves deeper and deeper in a quagmire? Bush actually said during the presidential debates that he isn't concerned about Bin Laden! So, using the logic of the war defenders, he must want the terrorists to win, since he doesn't think it is important to catch him.

So let's put all this rhetoric aside as see where we are. I notice that not one person offered to answer my question, which is How much longer? How much more money are you willing to pile on? How many years? The fact is that after about six years of this war, Bush has no idea how to get out, when we will get out, or how much longer this will take.

Nate: Thanks for the insight. Would that Bush read some Greek tragedies....
4.30.2007 12:05pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Ken,

How is Reid playing partisan politics when he's espressing the views of many Republicans as well? Aren't we past the point where we continue to keep pretending that it's just democrats that feel this way. In a related matter, we can stop calling those who do not favor a surge the "anti-war" "crowd." That expression connotes a minority status, but since that is a tactic disfavored by over 70% of the country, find some other silly term.
4.30.2007 12:07pm
rarango (mail):
Randy R: I will take a stab at answering your question: Until some duly elected Iraqi government asks us to leave.
(I would have answered "as long as it takes" but I do believe we are obligated to be responsive to a soveriegn Iraq).
4.30.2007 12:18pm
rarango (mail):
even a sovereign Iraq!
4.30.2007 12:24pm
Kovarsky (mail):
rarango -

that's your definition of when we have lost or when we should leave?
4.30.2007 12:35pm
Jeek:
We Republicans don't know what to do, so now we will through it in the lap of the Dems to figure a way out, and if they can't then they should just shut up.

Incorrect translation. The Republicans do know what they want to do, and are doing it. They are not abdicating responsibility to the Democrats in any way. It is the Democrats who argue that we need to change course, and for that to be a responsible proposal, they need to say what they would do that's better. However, the fact is they don't have any viable, responsible suggestions (and "pull the plug" is not such a suggestion), so they should indeed shut up.

Bush actually said during the presidential debates that he isn't concerned about Bin Laden! So, using the logic of the war defenders, he must want the terrorists to win, since he doesn't think it is important to catch him.

He was right. It is not important to catch OBL. The War on Terror is not an international manhunt for Dr. Evil, and will not end neatly at the end of the 2 hour movie when Dr. Evil is caught or killed.

How much longer? How much more money are you willing to pile on? How many years?

Answer, as long as it takes.

The question is not sensible, because the enemy gets a vote, too. How much longer are the jihadis willing to fight in Iraq? Only they can tell you that, not the Bush administration.

The fact is that after about six years of this war, Bush has no idea how to get out, when we will get out, or how much longer this will take.

Wow, you only just figured out that counterinsurgency takes a long time?

The idea that we can - or should - put a date on this war ("we will get out next October!") is just infantile. You get out when the enemy is defeated and you are victorious, no sooner.

"Hey, let's tell the enemy exactly when we're going to quit, so they know exactly how long they have to hang on" is precisely the sort of irresponsible absurdity that is disappointingly common in lefty circles.
4.30.2007 12:38pm
rarango (mail):
Kovarsky--my definition of when we should leave.
4.30.2007 12:58pm
rarango (mail):
Kovarsky: you got me thinking (it happens sometimes). I suppose I would have to say if a duly elected Iraqi government asked us to leave before the situation there was stable, we could count that as a loss.
4.30.2007 1:10pm
Dan Hamilton:
I do believe that Bush told everybody that this wouldn't be a short war. The GWOT is going to tae a long time. Yes we defeated Saddam quickly. We then started fighting terrorists in Iraq. It has become the FRONT Lines of the GWOT. The Second Front is in Afganistan.

For all of you who wish us to leave Iraq. Please note what that will mean. Afganisstan will then become the Front Lines of the GWOT. Most of the fighters in Iraq will move to Afganistan to continue the war. Iran will move the majority of its support there also. Weeks after we start to leave Iraq, the fighting in Afganistan will increase. The people who now say we have lost in Iraq. Will then say we have lost in Afganistan and call for us to leave. They won't care about what would be happening in Iraq. The Afgans would. we would find ourselves without any allies let alone friends. So as you would wish we would be forced to pull out of Afganistan.

You could now all chear Bush LOST. He has been defeated.

BTW Pakistan would be next. With Afganistan, Iraq, and Iran plus the terrorists inside there is no way that it wouldn't fall.

Oh happy days for you. You go back to teating terrorist as criminals. Yes, you will enjoy your time in the sun. Basking in Bush's defeat which is ALL you care about. Until of course we lose a city. Then YOU WILL BLAME BUSH FOR LOSING THE WAR AND ALLOWING TERRORISTS TO GET THE BOMB.

Liberals all emotion. I do wish you would tink more and emote less.
4.30.2007 1:39pm
Michael B (mail):
"I'm sure that, were one honest enough to check, there are truly hundreds and hundreds of statements by Senator Reid made against both terrorism and terrorists. The hysterical insinuations that our Senator is a terrorist-lover or a Chamberlain, because, god forbid, he questions the wisdom of our Dear Leader's incoherent policies, is preposterous and pathetic. I suppose that when you are out of rational responses, the last refuge is blatant character assassination." Beem

No. You, as with Kovarsky, miss the import entirely, which was not to call the terrorists names, not to call Reid a "terrorist-lover," most certainly not to refrain from questioning the Administration or any other strawman conception. (In fact the Chamberlain reference was invoked to stress this very point as well.) The point - repeatedly emphasized - was for Reid and likeminded others to supply, in addition to criticisms directed at the Admin., some type of viable, coherent, responsibly formulated alternative, one in which a substantial degree of accountability inheres as well. Virtually all of what was said vis-a-vis Reid was stated to emphasize that very point.

If that's "character assassination," desiring to hold an elected public official responsible, to hold him/her accountable for his prescriptive counsel and actions and the ramifications stemming from those actions, then the irony is that it's you, Kovarsky and likeminded others who desire Reid to be treated as some type of "Dear Leader," someone above scrutiny and accountability.

Whether formed with uni-syllabic or poly-syllabic terms, your strawman arguments and leveling contempt is not an adequate substitute for that accountability. Same with Reid; alternative conceptions and accountability are central to all that was said. Raising Reid to the status of Dear Leader is not an adequate substitute for that accountability.

Seems we disagree. I believe accountability should inhere to high offices, you, Kovarsky and others seemingly do not.
4.30.2007 1:55pm
Nate F (www):
Dan Hamilton,
Your post is, how shall I put this, Coulter-esque. If you really think we would lose in Afghanistan the way we lost in Iraq, you underestimate the US military to the point of insult. Things are in much better shape in Afghanistan than in Iraq even now, despite the far smaller security presence. If even a third of the troops in Iraq shifted to Afghanistan, I believe the country could be righted pretty quickly. Also, I am not sure what makes you think Iran loves terrorism so much?
4.30.2007 3:05pm
mishu (mail):

Also, I am not sure what makes you think Iran loves terrorism so much?


Ummmmm, they support Hezbollah?
4.30.2007 3:14pm
Anonymous Reader:
Everyone who knows or studies the art of warfare should know that counterinsurgencies take time. Granted, we did not start fighting the war in Iraq as an insurgency because at the time, there was no insurgency!! Now that there is a living, breathing, thinking insurgency, we must act to stop their violence.

Now, I want verifiable proof that Bush said that this war would be over in a short period. I wish you luck, because I distinctly remember Bush saying that this will be a long hard fight. But, I shall sit here and wait to be proven wrong. And don't give me this, "turn the corner" or "last throes" nonsense. You kill one enemy, another pops in their place. That is why it's called an asymetric battlefield. There are no defining lines, no DMZ, no borders, etc. You shake one man's hand one day, the next day you find out he was an insurgent. That's what we're dealing with today.

I really wish those critics who pooh-pooh our tactics, would at least bother to study some counterinsurgency topics. Here's a good book: "Learning to Eat Soup with a knife" by John Nagl. At least it's a start!

Anonymous Reader
4.30.2007 3:18pm
Hattio (mail):
Michael B states,


If that's "character assassination," desiring to hold an elected public official responsible, to hold him/her accountable for his prescriptive counsel and actions and the ramifications stemming from those actions, then the irony is that it's you, Kovarsky and likeminded others who desire Reid to be treated as some type of "Dear Leader," someone above scrutiny and accountability.



Repeat after me Michael. Accountability applies on both sides of the aisle. Accountability applies on both sides of the aisle.

It may be true that Reid is not talking about what will happen in Iraq when we leave. But the question isn't whether leaving will make Iraq magically into a functioning stable democracy. The question is will the situation be better with our army here than there. If you disagree, then say so. Expecting Reid to either support the president, or be prepared to tape the egg back together is unreasonable. Bush broke the egg, and scrambled it. The question isn't whether the Dems have a plan to put the egg back together, but rather whether we have a possibility of putting the egg back together. If we don't, we should leave before more of our troops get killed.
4.30.2007 3:20pm
Colin (mail):
Michael, your comment is fully as well-reasoned and sensible as Dan's, which doesn't speak well of either of you. (You do have marginally better spelling, although you missed Kovarsky's joke when he pointed out that vitriol can't be "alloyed." Iron can be alloyed, but vitriol is only allayed.)

If that's "character assassination," desiring to hold an elected public official responsible, to hold him/her accountable for his prescriptive counsel and actions and the ramifications stemming from those actions, then the irony is that it's you, Kovarsky and likeminded others who desire Reid to be treated as some type of "Dear Leader," someone above scrutiny and accountability.

Is it ironic that you find irony there, or hypocritical? You're accusing Kovarsky of Dear Leaderism, because they support criticism of President Bush. Reid can't make such criticisms, you contend, unless he also supplies a "viable, coherent, responsibly formulated alternative, one in which a substantial degree of accountability inheres as well." Why doesn't the legislation Reid supported carry such a burden? In any event, it's farcical to insist that he tout alternatives each time he criticizes the administration. By ignoring the alternatives he has proposed you've elevated Bush (to use your inaccurate and clumsy idiom) to Dear Leader status: criticism of Bush isn't just wrong, it's immoral or unethical because the critic hasn't also made certain qualifying statements. With such selective and partisan requirements for ethical criticism of politicians, I'm dubious that you "believe accountability should inhere to high offices." Perhaps it depends on the party of the occupant of that office?
4.30.2007 3:23pm
Anonymous Reader:
Nate, and others,

You obviously are very ignorant of some of the cultures we're dealing with.

People, STOP LOOKING AT THIS THROUGH AMERICAN LENSES!! Think about the culture, their way of life, etc. I would encourage you to talk to someone who is from a former Soviet bloc country or some other third world country. Find out how the majority of the people in those countries think or operate. There's no such thing as a scandal in some of those countries. There's no gentleman's agreement to follow and obey all laws. Please, think about what you're saying. Wishing it were so is not a tactic!! Perspective means everything! Let the professional military do what it can to provide conditions suitable for a political solution.

Anonymous Reader
4.30.2007 3:24pm
Anonymous Reader:
Colin,

Please tell us what strategy Sen Reid would have us follow? I may not be the most politically astute individual, but whenever (in my limited experience) a Democrat is asked about our strategy, they quickly seque into a Bush this, Bush that theme. Interesting thing is that I have yet to hear another strategy proposed. But please, if you know something else, please inform us.

Anonymous Reader
4.30.2007 3:30pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Now, I want verifiable proof that Bush said that this war would be over in a short period.

"Mission Accomplished" ring any bells?
4.30.2007 3:34pm
Colin (mail):
Anonymous,

This is the first Google result: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18269912/

Reid has sponsored legislation that sets out a definite and particular set of actions to be taken. How is that not a strategy? The fact that you don't like it is irrelevant.
4.30.2007 3:38pm
Anonymous Reader:
Anderson,

I won't rehash the whole argument about that banner. But that's a good point. I guess "Mission Accomplished" could apply to the fact that the carrier's mission was complete, or that the Saddam regime was deposed, or like you imply, that our job was done.

A "mission", in military usage, is not an end of itself. Now there can be an overarching mission, but there can also be smaller missions that can be "accomplished" by several different units. So, although you provide a possible example, it leaves too much up to interpretation. To the uninformed, the Iraq War is Mission Accomplished!! To those who are a bit more informed, it could mean a myriad of things.

Anonymous Reader
4.30.2007 3:45pm
rarango (mail):
Colin: I am not sure I would call Reid's legislation a strategy as much as a tactic for withdrawing US forces from Iraq; not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily, but by doing that, Senator Reid is saying, in effect, that he does not see the need to address the situation in Iraq as a function of the war on terror.

If you want to delink Iraq from the war on terror, OK--thats a judgment call; if you think the war on terror is a real thing, then perhaps getting out of Iraq may not be a tactic conducive to strategic success.
4.30.2007 3:50pm
Anonymous Reader:
I guess I should have been a bit more specific, I am on a lawyers blog... I meant a strategy for long term success domestically and abroad. Remember, if we retreat, our allies will think twice about supporting us in the future.

Anonymous Reader
4.30.2007 3:52pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Michael B,

If that's "character assassination," desiring to hold an elected public official responsible, to hold him/her accountable for his prescriptive counsel and actions and the ramifications stemming from those actions, then the irony is that it's you, Kovarsky and likeminded others who desire Reid to be treated as some type of "Dear Leader," someone above scrutiny and accountability.

Huh? Who said that? I said that whether the war was lost was beside the point. That's hardly an endorsement of Reid's position. I just think it's a silly way to frame the debate.

And no, I'm not "missing" your point about accountability. I responded to the substance of it once, and you responded with your typical navel-gazing latinate prose, nested in 40 dependent clauses. After parsing what on earth it was you were actually trying to say in your verbiage, I realized that you were just repeating the argument you made the first time, without responding to me, so I didn't really feel it necessary to respond to you again.

You are free to operate under the assumption that everyone you engage on a given topic is a caricature, but that is at your own insistence. Reid is publicly accountable for his remarks, which is to say that he's made himself more available for political fallout than the throngs of Republicans that agree with him but won't say it publicly. I also doubt seriously that any of this is an attempt to avoid presenting an alternative since, ya' know, they've done that.
4.30.2007 3:57pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Rarango,

Colin: I am not sure I would call Reid's legislation a strategy as much as a tactic for withdrawing US forces from Iraq; not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily, but by doing that, Senator Reid is saying, in effect, that he does not see the need to address the situation in Iraq as a function of the war on terror.

Are you guys reading the same legislation that I am? Doesn't it provide for residual military assets to contain and extinguish any terrorist threats in Iraq?
4.30.2007 4:00pm
Michael B (mail):
Colin, your typical smarm, presumption and incomprehension is noted. As to the metaphor, yes I understood Kovarsky's intent; I disagree, it's a "alloyed" was used metaphorically, but onward. As to the remainder, you fail to comprehend and reasonably apply what was previously indicated.

"It may be true that Reid is not talking about what will happen in Iraq when we leave. But the question isn't whether leaving will make Iraq magically into a functioning stable democracy. The question is will the situation be better with our army here than there. If you disagree, then say so. Expecting Reid to either support the president, or be prepared to tape the egg back together is unreasonable. Bush broke the egg, and scrambled it. The question isn't whether the Dems have a plan to put the egg back together, but rather whether we have a possibility of putting the egg back together. If we don't, we should leave before more of our troops get killed." Hattio

No one is talking about "magic" and inherent in everything that's been said it is perforce and blatantly obvious I and some others disagree. As to who broke the egg, that repairs more fundamentally to the reign of Saddam-&-Sons, along with other factors still. The Administration, Bush and Co., made mistakes along the way and those can be variously critiqued as well, nothing to the contrary has so much as been suggested. Still, the general situation in terms of al-Qaeda, the indigenous insurgents and factions, the imported "insurgents," the bandwagon effect of criminal activity, etc. does not conveniently reduce to "Bush lied" or some other pious reduction.

As to your snark, repeat after me Hattio: read and comprehend.
4.30.2007 4:08pm
rarango (mail):
Kovarsky: Perhaps I need to go back and reread, but isnt the Reid legislation calling for a complete pull out by April 2008? (My understanding) the residual forces operate between the time legislation is passed, and prior to April 2008 to train Iraqi forces and conduct targeted counter insurgency operations.

If there is legislation that provides for residualt assets to contain and extinguish any terrorist threats in Iraq, thats a loop hole big enough to drive a 250K army through!

But its an empirical question about the legislation, and I will go to the Congressional Record, forthwith.
4.30.2007 4:10pm
rarango (mail):
Kovarsky: you are correct: the bill that came out of the conference committee specifies troops to remain in Iraq to protect US facilities, train Iraqis and conduct counter terrorism ops. (awfully big loopholes, IMO)
4.30.2007 4:17pm
Colin (mail):
Rarango,

I think the separation between "strategy" and "tactic" is probably subjective at that level, at least for non-professionals such as us. I agree with your characterization, and I believe that Reid probably does not see Iraq as a serious component in the war on terror. Or, to add some nuance to it, he may see Iraq as a component of the war on terror only insofar as we make it one with our continued presence, and not as a component that we have successfully managed. In other words, insofar as Reid sees Iraq as part of the GWOT, he likely sees leaving it as the most productive option. Frankly, I disagree, but too much of the criticism of Reid's position has been advanced on nakedly and largely irrational partisan bases.

Anonymous Reader,

Speaking of naked and irrational partisanship... Once again, Reid's policy proposals are "a strategy for long term success domestically and abroad." There is a difference between your belief that his strategy will fail and your argument that he hasn't bothered to present such a strategy. Frankly, yes, you are on a lawyer's blog, and people notice that sort of thing.

And while you argue that "if we retreat, our allies will think twice about supporting us in the future," it's worth considering that our allies largely don't support us now. That is partly the fallout from the administration's rush to war despite the counsel of more prudent domestic and allied voices. I don't see how historical revisionism will win us back the support of allies and domestic critics who were, we're now learning, right all along about the true costs of the war.


Michael,

As to the metaphor, yes I understood Kovarsky's intent; I disagree, it's a "alloyed" was used metaphorically, but onward.

Is English not your first language? I would be embarrassed to have poked fun at your terrible prose in so many threads if it's not. God knows that I can't write very comprehensibly in my second language. This sentence, though, is pretty opaque. "It's a alloyed was used metaphorically"? I assume that you meant that "alloyed" was used metaphorically. I doubt that's accurate; I think that spellcheck failed to correct your misuse of the word. I'm amused that it's worth your time to deny it, and I'm so amused that I'm going to spend my own time on it.

So let's go to the instant replay:

"I do not recall the last time Reid condemned al Qaeda, sectarian militants and Iranian and other foreign sponsored "insurgents" in Iraq, together with their macabre tactics, with such unalloyed vitriol, vigor and banal certitude."

A little shorter than your average sentence, but still twisted and leaden. Let's simplify:

"I do not recall the last time Reid condemned al Qaeda . . . with such unalloyed vitriol."

You're claiming that you used "unalloyed" "metaphorically." How? What is the metaphor? What would "vitriol" be "alloyed" with? "Allay," however, is perfectly appropriate for that sentence. Compare "unmitigated vitriol" with "vitriol that has not been mixed with some other thing." Because there's no other thing in the sentence with which vitriol could be "alloyed," think you made a simple error.

If you provide a mailing address, I will mail you a thesaurus and a writing style guide at my own expense. It would be my gift to you, and more importantly, to all of your readers.
4.30.2007 4:45pm
Michael B (mail):
"why on earth do we have to frame the debate this way? it's not "lost" versus "not lost." it's what are the cost of the various strategies that would achieve our objectives versus the benefits those objectives secure." Kovarsky

Precisely, that is the debate. One aspect being how much longer to give Petraeus, specifically the present "surge" strategy more time. No one is suggesting an "infinity," though that makes for good caricature and dismissiveness.

"Why doesn't the legislation Reid supported carry such a burden? In any event, it's farcical to insist that he tout alternatives each time he criticizes the administration." Colin

The legislation is so vague as to represent little more, at least potentially, than a fig leaf of cover for a more decisive and complete withdrawal. Not at all dissimilar to referring to the legislation of the '73 and '75 Congresses as representing something more than withdrawal, forsaking our promises, etc.: a fig leaf only, then the mass murders, genocide, etc. followed, the deluge. Perhaps not, but I have not heard or seen it cogently argued.

Too, no one is referring to "each time he criticizes the admin.," the reference is to this particularly decisive time and the results that are likely to ensue.
4.30.2007 4:50pm
Dan Hamilton:

If you really think we would lose in Afghanistan the way we lost in Iraq, you underestimate the US military to the point of insult.


The US Military has NOTHING TO DO WITH LOSING IN Iraq OR Afganistan. Only the Left in the US, the Democrats, will lose the war in Iraq. Just as they will try and lose the war in Afganistan.

Why do you think they will be any different in Afganistan???

They lost the US the war in Viet Nam, they are trying to lose the war in Iraq and they will continue to work against the US winning any wars. BTW I saw their propaganda throughtout Viet Nam. They are following the same playbook today in Iraq. The enemy is counting on them just as North Viet Nam did. Don't believe me. Wait and watch the Democrats and Lefties make it happen again.
4.30.2007 4:58pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Precisely, that is the debate. One aspect being how much longer to give Petraeus, specifically the present "surge" strategy more time. No one is suggesting an "infinity," though that makes for good caricature and dismissiveness.

Actually it's the easiest illustration of the idea that it's silly to talk about won/lost because there are scenarios (infinity cost) where even guaranteed victory wouldn't be worth it. I'm sorry I was not able to drag that explanation out for 23 sentences for you.
4.30.2007 4:58pm
Michael B (mail):
Colin,

Time not so well spent. Firstly, "allay" is obviously apt, not as metaphor, but certainly apt. And you caught a sentence with two or three typos, congrats; I too often fail to edit my comments, hence applause there as well. As to "unalloyed," it's hardly a major issue, very much to the contrary, but given your dedication and enthusiasm, the following:

alloy: c. an admixture that lessens value; d. an impairing alien element; e. a compound, mixture, or union of different things

So, in terms of the metaphor, had in mind the "admixture," the "alien elements," the "compound, mixture, or union of different things." E.g., mixing vitriol with substance and content would have the effect of lending more meaning, more import, to what is being said. By contrast, most Rosie O'Donnell styled vitriol, as with Reid's in this instance, is not mixed with much that is substantive or credible in terms of accountability.

Too though, simple fact is, I don't particularly like it as a metaphor, reflecting upon it, but I don't like my typos either. So?

But for the address and your gift, I can in fact supply a (temporary) address, valid for another month or so. Your email address is valid and you will in fact follow up with the "gift"? I'd positively treasure it and would be sure to use it one sheet at a time, to help the environment - a la Sheryl Crow's recent advice. But more seriously, use my email addr if you care, I can in fact send a temp address.
4.30.2007 5:36pm
Dan Hamilton:

And while you argue that "if we retreat, our allies will think twice about supporting us in the future," it's worth considering that our allies largely don't support us now. That is partly the fallout from the administration's rush to war despite the counsel of more prudent domestic and allied voices. I don't see how historical revisionism will win us back the support of allies and domestic critics who were, we're now learning, right all along about the true costs of the war.


I and others are not talking about our fair weather allies that you are. I am talking about the Iraqs that will be murdered for working with us if we pull out early. We betrayed the Kurds and Iraqs after the first Gulf War. That is why they didn't cheer us. They didn't trust us. We have built trust. If the Democrats get their way we will betray the Iraqs just as we did South Viet Nam. After we bug out of Iraq. Who will believe that we will support them? Who will believe that we will fight? They will see us as a paper Tiger.

Everyone will Know - Just keep fighting the US for a few years and they will give up and go home.

They aren't to be feared. Don't pay any attention to them. They run a Fast mile but have no stomach for a marathon.

Yes that is the signal that we want to send to the terrorists. Just keep at it we will give up. Or at least the Democrats will and they will stop the others from doing anything.
4.30.2007 7:39pm
Michael B (mail):
Stepping back, for some scope within which the Iraq and related debates can be assessed, the National Security Strategy, originally stamped exactly one year after 9/11, continues to be the chief touchstone and foundational.

Too, the speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln was variously derided above and it's also more interesting, once we step beyond Harry Reid-like soundbites. It was given in the immediate wake of the overthrow of Saddam-&-Sons' (idyllic kite-flying) regime and there are certainly some phrases, in hindsight, that could have been more cautiously worded. Still, some excerpts are revealing in a contrarion fashion,

"We have difficult work to do in Iraq."

"We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous."

"We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes."

"The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq."

And yes, there's also statements such as "[m]ajor combat operations in Iraq have ended." and mention of the then newly initiated hunt for chemical and biological weapons and WMD in general. Much made of this, obviously, but even in terms of this regrettable intel misstep, by virtually all relevant Western intelligence agencies, we at least now know we don't have a WMD threat from Saddan and sons, Uday and Qusay.

Most fittingly there's this, reflecting on a primary purpose of the speech, acknowledging those and the families of those who sacrificed the most, including those among the broader coalition forces:

"Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment -- yet, it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it."

Well, am not a big "rah, rah" type, but that's a salient fact nonetheless. In turn that "thanks" was a salient reason for the speech in the first place, even if Reid-like opportunism would reduce the entire event to a preemptive declaration of victory, which it wasn't. Still, that final excerpt at least strikes a more positive note and frame of reference.
4.30.2007 8:03pm
Randy R. (mail):
Well, now, here's a problem. William F. Buckley, who is the dean of traditional conservatism, recently said:

"It is simply untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq. ...
It was four years ago that Mr. Cheney first observed that there was a real fear that each fallen terrorist leads to the materialization of another terrorist. What can a "surge," of the kind we are now relying upon, do to cope with endemic disease? The parallel even comes to mind of the eventual collapse of Prohibition, because there wasn't any way the government could neutralize the appetite for alcohol, or the resourcefulness of the freeman in acquiring it.

General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure. But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he cannot win against it." From the New Republic.

When you read his whole article, you find that you have a leading conservative who believes that the war was a mistake and that it can't be won.

You can't call him a Democrat or a liberal. He is one of you. And he is at the opposite end of this question. So, either you must dismiss him as an idiot, and thereby dismiss much of his life's work on the behalf of conservatiives, or admit he's got a point, and thereby admit that opposition to this war is across the board.
4.30.2007 9:09pm
Anonymous Reader:
Randy R.,

I would be childish to try to play those games of "well, so and so said so... and he's a blankety blank..." Can we stop the foolish games? What kind of knowledge does Buckley have on counterinsurgencies? What makes him more of an expert than the man who wrote the US manual on counterinsurgency? Give me a break. You've got to be kidding me if you're trying to bring some pundit into the discussion and claim that he has some kind of knowledge about warfare.

Please, let's stick to the facts of the situation.

Anonymous Reader
4.30.2007 9:51pm
Enoch:
"[m]ajor combat operations in Iraq have ended."

This was true then, and is true now. Major combat operations ended in April 2003, and there have been none since then.

we at least now know we don't have a WMD threat from Saddan and sons, Uday and Qusay.

Yeah, and according to Tenet on 60 minutes, Saddam wouldn't have had them until at least 2007. Gosh, that means we could have put off the invasion until last year!

Which is the better 2007 - the one we have now, or the one in which Saddam remained in power and just tested his first nuke?
4.30.2007 9:56pm
Randy R. (mail):
Anon: You mean childish comments such as this from Dan Hamilton: " Only the Left in the US, the Democrats, will lose the war in Iraq. Just as they will try and lose the war in Afganistan."?

I'm not the one who is calling Harry Reid and the Democrats names. I've heard them called traitors, defeatocrats and many other things, but it didn't come from me, certainly.

SEcondly, I've been the one saying, yes, let's put name calling aside, and casting blame, and let's figure out what we should do now. I've asked how much longer will this war last, how much more costly in terms of money and lives, and not one single person dares even venture a guess.

Okay, so you don't think pundits know anything about the war. Then how about George Tenet. He was the CIA director at the time that we invaded Iraq, and Bush gave me a medal of honor. Here's what he has to say in this week's Time: Whenever you decide to take the country to war, you have to know not only that you can defeat the enemy militarily but that you have a very clear game plan that will allow you to keep the peace. There was never any doubt that we would defeat the Iraqi military. What we did not have was an integrated and open process in Washington that was organized to keep the peace, nor did we have unity of purpose and resources on the ground. Quite simply, the NSC did not do its job.

Finally, we launched a war in Afganistan, and we ousted the Taliban, remember? Then how come AP's headline is this: NATO Launches Offensive Against Taliban: Hundreds of British troops swept into the lush poppy fields of southern Afghanistan drawing hostile fire at the start of a NATO operation to expell the Taliban from a valley stronghold.

You mean that after six years of war, the Taliban are back in force? That we haven't actually defeated them? Who's fault is that? I'm Dan will blame the Democrats.

The war is going BADLY. And Reid is right -- if we don't change course and do something different, we will certainly lose the war in BOTH countries.

Now, I'm not really a fan of immediate withdrawal, or even a quick withdrawal any time soon. But at some point, you guys gotta admit that our country has done a pisspoor job for the last six years, and we either do it right, or we leave.
4.30.2007 11:08pm
Anonymous Reader:
Randy R.,

In terms of time: Can anyone say how long anything will last? We're fighting a nonstate actor. They have no interest in land or power or heiarchies. Who knows how long we'll be there? Not that you did, but you can't compare this to WWI or WWII. We were fighting on a linear battlefield with clearly delineated "fronts" and "rear areas". The same cannot be said about Iraq or Afghanistan. To answer your question about how much longer, how many more people, money, etc? Well, the ultimate question should be: is our short term sacrifice worth it in the long run? If it is, then we should hunker down and fight. If you don't think so, then the politicians who "purport to speak for the American people" should put their careers on the line and stop funding now.

I have not read much about Tenet's new book or what he's been saying lately to drum up book sales, but how much credibility are you giving the guy who couldn't predict, the Khobar towers, the USS Cole, 9/11... If Tenet just "knew" that Iraq would turn into an insurgency, I can only hope that he briefed that fact to the powers that be. But, maybe his credibility was shot with his previous failures, but then again... a stopped clock is right twice a day. Take that for what it's worth. Hindsight is 20/20 so for someone to come out now, in 2007, that X, Y, and Z should have been done, looks like a case of "4 years later quarterbacking" (Yes, I'm going to trademark that phrase).

As for Afghanistan, what exactly is the Taliban? Is it a particular force with defined orders of battle? Or is a type of movement? Can you name me the actual leaders of the Taliban? It's more akin to a hydra, where you cut one head off and others spring into it's place. Using your logic, the mafia shouldn't exist anymore. We've been fighting/investigating them for decades. Yet, there always seems to be some big federal task force designed to defeat them.

War is not a high dollar meal, where you decide what you want to eat, the chef cooks it, and the waiter serves it all neat and tidy (presentation is everything!!). Sometimes you order lobster and it comes out looking like hamburger. You can only guess what the enemy is likely to do. I am tired of the "need to change the strategy" canard. First of all, enlighten me, what was our previous strategy? With GEN Petraeus, what is his new strategy? To say that there is no new strategy is to reveal our ignorance of warfare. It's a nice soundbite, delivered via the press. It has no basis in fact. Can't they at least spell out what "other" strategy they would prefer we follow? I mean, they seem to know better than anyone else, I would hope they provide constructive criticsm to the commanders in the field as to how they should conduct the fight.

Sorry for the long post, got a little long winded there.

Anonymous Reader
4.30.2007 11:27pm
Randy R. (mail):
Anon: I appreciate your comments, and they strike me as far more responsible that most defenders of this war.

"In terms of time: Can anyone say how long anything will last?" I agree. But before the invation, then why did Rumsfeld make a point of saying in an interview that he would measure this war in days or weeks, and certainly not months or years? Either he was lying to us at the time, or he was, by your own definition, woefully incompetent.

All your points are good ones, but it seems very clear from all the evidence we have and heard, from George Tenet, to Woodward's books, quotes from various people, and so on, that this administration didn't do even the minimum amount of reflection that you state in your post. and they aren't doing it now, either. Or perhaps they are, but it's just too little too late. Yes, what exactly IS the Taliban? Can it be eradicated? Is it a good idea to try that? What will you replace it with? All these questions are good ones, but they should have debated BEFORE any military invasion, right?

What gets me frustrated is that when you point this stuff out, as many people do, both on the left and the right, only the left gets vilified. Why is that?
5.1.2007 2:09am
Randy R. (mail):
Another point which drives me up the wall: A few years ago, people were starting to clamor to leave Iraq. But war supporters said that we CAN'T leave, or else the place will erupt into civil war.

So we reached the point of civil war about a year, even though we stayed!

Now, people are saying that we can't leave now, because otherwise there will be a bloodbath. If the past is any indication of the future, than I predict that if we stay, within a year, the place will devolve into a bloodbath.

Question: Two years ago, we had a choice, either leave or stay. Subsequent events have proved that *regardless* of our decision, Iraq devolved into a civil war. Is it not possible that *regardless* of whether we stay or leave right now, Iraq will nonetheless disintegrate even more than it is now? If true, then we are damned if we stay, and damned if we leave, but if we leave, at least we save American lives.

Perhaps this is a simplification of what actually happened. But the fact remains: The people who said that if we leave Iraq, a civil war would occur implied that if we stay, we would avoid said civil war. They were competely wrong, and I have yet to hear anyone admit that they were wrong. And now we are supposed to follow these same leaders who have been so wrong in the past? Can you understand our frustration just a little bit?

Usually when you are so spectactularly wrong, you admit it and let someone else take over. Or, that used to be the honorable thing to do.
5.1.2007 2:21am
Anonymous Reader:
Randy R.,

I'm not sure why people on the left get villified the most, but it's probably because the anti-war people are on the left. So just like "everyone" on the right is generally made out to be one big group, "everyone" on the left is too.

Not to quible, but the major combat operations did not take very long at all. The overthrow of Saddam's regime was over and done with in a relatively short time. That was against an easily identifiable enemy that wore uniforms, had an established heiarchy, etc. What we are dealing with now is an insurgency. This is probably the hardest enemy to deal with because they can have such an impact on the civilian population. Imagine if the German's during WWII didn't wear uniforms and fight on a linear battlefield? Who would we know is sympathetic to our cause and who was our enemy. The population would be terrorized because they'd know that if they said anything, they'd probably find themselves and their families lying in the ditch somewhere. Maybe Rumsfeld was a bit arrogant. I know that his big push for technology didn't solve and I'd hazard to guess, won't solve the insurgency problem.

As for the civil war problem. Look at it from the enemy's point of view. They absolutely KNOW that the US does not want to get involved in a civil war. We go round and round and round going back and forth about whether it is one or that it depends on your definition, etc, etc. So, they do everything in their power to try to foment a civil war. Why? Because to them, if they can succeed in having us call what's going on in Iraq a civil war, then they know that popular opinion will shift away from the war.

Now, do I think it's a civil war? No. In a true sense of the phrase, I do not think it's a civil war. Yes, the fights are sometimes viewed by religious lines, but it's not to the level of a civil war, in my humble opinion. When the Shia and the Sunni openly fight one another, ala the North and the South during the American Civil War, then my opinion might change.

Everyone I've spoken to who's there or recently returned have said how much progress we are making. It's a tough road, as all counterinsurgencies are, but we are making progress. The iraqi police and army are making huge strides to take over the control of their provinces and our efforts are paying huge dividends. One interesting note, the iraqi army is from around the country. They get "stationed" or whatever, in different places than where they live. The iraqi police, on the other hand, live and work in their same hometown. So imagine having to arrest or get into a gunfight with your neighbors? Or your neighbors seeing you in a police uniform and then coming after your family? That's some pretty harsh stuff! But the important thing is is that they are actively working to get rid of that bad influence. We need to give them time to get there. An American face won't win the war, it has to be an Iraqi face. The British learned that fact in Malaya. All we can do is train and provide a security structure that allows them to improve their tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Anonymous Reader
5.1.2007 6:53am