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| 97 Comments

97 Comments

That was a pretty slick move, I have to admit. I hope it inspires the troops.

I was watching the newscasts. Many did find it inspirational. Good!

A move like this isn't likely to come from staffers, who would be very cautious of proposing something so "out there" lest they be branded as idiots and lose influence. It was also kept so tight that apparently even The First Lady didn't know, which means it went through almost no links inthe chain of command.

This initiative has all the hallmarks of coming right from the President himself.

MoveOn et. al. are welcome to keep thinking that Bush is an idiot. I've never met the man or seen the inner workings of his administration, so I can't say. But I CAN say that if an idiot is handing you your head, consistently, the implication is not complimentary.

Baghdad was the center of the caliphate for nearly 500 years.

Take that Usama.

"But I CAN say that if an idiot is handing you your head, consistently, the implication is not complimentary."

Thanks for this one, Joe. ;)

This is the second time the President has made a pilgrimage to the troops. That shows his respect for them.

Actually, Joe, I read that Andrew Card proposed the idea to Bush a few weeks ago.

I think the trip was a fine idea, but it's getting a little overblown. From Instapundit link:
WHAT CAN PRESIDENT BUSH DO IN BAGHDAD THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN CAN'T? Appear in public. If that doesn't send a message to the Ba'athists and their would-be allies, I don't know what does.
Except, Bush didn't appear in public. That's a sign of how messed up the situation is. Bush spent two-plus hours in a heavily guarded hangar at the heavily guarded airport. It's not like Clinton in Kosovo, who really did go out and address the Kosovars (who cheered him).

The world had 3 things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Huessien , and George aW.ol Bush, all had to spend the day in hiding in the Middle East under US military security because of there nefarious conduct.

Well, INDEED!

Itís lonely to be a deployed G.I. on Turkey day and Christmas, I know and I gotta tell you, this president is a class act from top to bottom.

I was watching on CNN and saw him serving up chow. Itís been a tradition for decades for commanders to serve chow on special days like these.

Watching the reaction of the common G.I. (you canít B.S. them, theyíll see through it every time!) and the respect they show makes it very clear to me this man is worthy to be Commander in Chief.

Cheers,

Jim H, CMSgt USAF ret.

P.S. The liberals went nuts over the carrier landing, I canít imagine what this will do to them!

These troops seem just as happy to see Clinton on T'giving 1999. So I guess he was a great Commander in Chief too.

Re carrier landing: I notice there wasn't any Mission Accomplished sign this time. I wonder why.

I was in the hangar, and we were were both genuinely surprised, and genuinely grateful that the President, our Commander in Chief, would go out of his way, and put himself in harm's way, to be with us on Thanksgiving. Only a week or so ago, a plane was hit by a SAM here, and pilots employ all types of countermeasures landing here. the troops here spend a lot of time filling sandbags, and keep out body armor close at hand when we aren't wearing it to convoy outside the wire. Let me tell you, the threat is real, and we know the risk the President took. I, for one, am grateful, as are many of my comrades.
No, Andrew J. there was no sign, but better than a sign, our presence here, and we will stay here until we can say "Mission Accomplished!"

As someone who served under Clinton, I can tell you this:

Clinton was NOT respected by many in the armed forces. We never even considered him our commander-in-chief, we never will.

Bush, on the other hand, is higly repsected. We are so extremely blessed to have some of his calibre to lead this nation.

Wow, the traffic this website gets sometimes is really interesting. To all you troops out there, thanks a ton!

"Re carrier landing: I notice there wasn't any Mission Accomplished sign this time. I wonder why."

Really? Well, not everyone can grasp the obvious, even with so much time to mull over it. I'll therefore try to be as simple as possible:

The sign referred, as did the President himself during his speech at that event, to the end of the major military operations that entailed the conquering the Iraqi military. That mission, of winning what we would generally term a 'war,' (when the official, uniformed armed forces of two or more countries fight each other) was at that point accomplished. Hence the sign.

Am I going too fast for you?

Now we are in the much more difficult period of, if you will, winning the peace. This involves seeing a stable, peaceful democratic government established in Iraq. In the longer run, it means seeing a series of such governments established throughout the entire region.

This greater accomplishment will, even in the most optimistic scenarios, probably take decades, much like our ongoing presence in Europe during the Cold War.

Unfortunately, this means that President Bush will not be able to declare "Mission Accomplished" during his eight years in office. Instead, as did President Reagan, he will have to take satisfaction in seeing a future president finish what he started. However, I don't think this will bother him much. Unlike his immediate predecessor, he doesn't believe all events revolve around himself.

Hope that helps.

Specifically, the sign referred to the mission of the USS Abraham Lincoln being accomplished. It had been at sea for a good deal longer than had originally been planned, and was finally heading home. It's mission really was accomplished, and they had every right to fly that banner.

"Unfortunately, this means that President Bush will not be able to declare "Mission Accomplished" during his eight years in office."

What I should have said, of course, is that President Bush won't be able to declare "Mission Accomplished" a second time, in regard to the larger issue.

Curious. The president flies into Baghdad to visit American soldiers fighting Americaís war on terrorism on Thanksgiving Day Ė and the troops cheer Ė and the Angry Left predictably splits a spleen. Bushís detractors can find absolutely no good in the man or anything he does - and are therefore utterly unpersuasive. Yet, undoubtedly, they'll blame everyone else for his re-election - when their blind, raging hatred for Bush will not only nominate the weakest Democrat Ė it will ultimately drive many swing voters away from their candidate as well.

Unfortunately, I can hardly wait to read the "Democratic Underground" forum late Tuesday evening, November 2, 2004 as they commiserate over Bush's landslide. While my growing anticipation of schadenfreude is nearly uncontrollable; I can only hope the Angry Left continues to marginalize itself so that I donít worry about them any more than I do Communists, Naziís and the confederacy.

"It's not like Clinton in Kosovo, who really did go out and address the Kosovars (who cheered him)."

I somehow doubt that the Serbian Kosovars were among them.

To SFC Ski:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for serving.

Make it home safe, soldier.

Points to ponder:
I served in the USMC from August 1970-May 1972, and remember how good I felt when visited by a CO (from platoon commander to Commandant). Even if you are not singled out for a personal word, you get the feeling that the man giving the orders cares about YOU. Despite the fact that only 600 were actully there, the rest of the troops in Iraq know that the President was visiting them too. Despite what the chattering classes say about this, the troops love for this President will continue to increase.

re: the Left's comments that he flew into "a heavily guarded blah blah blah". Aren't these same Leftists saying that "Iraq is a quagmire, its too dangerous, our troops are at risk constantly"?? News flash- they sell that stuff by the wagonload, and it works great for growing alfalfa on the south forty. Be consistent with your objections, or you will find yourself marginalized and ignored.

Re: the comments about Bush appearing in the "heavily guarded hangar" in Baghdad, for the record --that was the main mess hall in Baghdad. It's made out of plastic. A mortar, rocket and small arms fire will penetrate it like going though a piece of paper. There were three security people there. Last, you're an idiot.

It is impossible for the left to just accept the good this does for the guys in Iraq. Even the Iraqi bloggers are happy.

Andrew, and J, give it a rest. Stop telling those guys in Iraq how Bush shouldn't have gone. You know you don't give a crap for the troops. I was in San Fran and saw the signs that said, "We support the troops when they kill their officers". You MoveOn losers should just do that, move on.

... It's not like Clinton in Kosovo, who really did go out and address the Kosovars (who cheered him)...

You can bet they didn't go into that mess hall and strip all the ammo out of each troop's firearm as they did on many occasions when Clinton visited troops in foreign locations. This had been documented at the time.

1. Too bad seemingly intelligent persons swallow the "Mission Accomplished" cover story. The White House admits they made the sign (they claim at the ship's request). They also had the ship change course to get the best photo ops for Bush. Face it, Bush counted his Iraqi chickens before they hatched.

2. Perhaps SFC Ski (good luck, guy) and Rick H. can discuss offline whether Baghdad is really dangerous or whether the President only needed three security people. I'll take winners.

3. Capt Joe, if you read carefully, the first sentence I wrote on this subject was "I think the trip was a fine idea, but it's getting a little overblown." It's a free country and ANSWER can put up whatever obnoxious flyers they want to, but I'd appreciate it if you take what I write as a more valid expression of my views than something you saw on the sidewalk.

4. I notice none of the knee-jerk reactionaries saw fit to reiterate the incorrect assertion that Bush appeared in public.

5. Anyone who thinks that politically this one trip will matter compared to our success, or lack of it, in reconstruction Iraq is dreaming.

This had been documented at the time.

At snopes.com?

Landing and taking off in Baghdad is inherently dangerous. Just a few days ago a DHL plane was attacked after it took off. There was always the chance at some point word would get out of his presense and draw attackers. In addition, the soldiers at the airport don't think they are completely shielded from attack.

This was not fake. It was a calculated risk that was well managed. His affection and appreciation for the troops was genuine. I am sure this will be put to political uses, but to claim that a sitting President with over 50% approval rating will risk his life for a photo op is ludicrous.

Knee jerk reactionaries? That would include people that misinterpret a carrier task group with "Mission Accomplished" proudly proclaimed.

Time to bring PETA's attention to Andrew's beating of a dead horse.

Anyone who thinks that politically this one trip will matter compared to our success, or lack of it, in reconstruction Iraq is dreaming

Andrew,

I don't understand what the point is here: no one, as far as I can tell, is taking such an idiotic (strawman) position. Plus, why are you assuming that such hypothetical people are thinking "politically" about this matter? Is it not sufficient that it might matter, for even one day, to thousands of troops and millions of Americans who might want to see their president show his support and commitment, regardless of party affiliation?

Second, your points about Iraq being dangerous, Bush's Mission Accomplished sign (even your forced reference to Clinton not being so bad), etc., I am sure that there is some substance to your concerns, but why here, why now? I already know about all of those concerns. Bush has perhaps screwed up in many ways. Is he screwing up here, in making this trip? What is your point? Mindless criticism of Bush? I don't get it: It sounds like immature caviling. (Yes, I noted the "fine idea, BUT blah blah blah " formulation.)

Finally, in the ordinary sense of the term "in public", Bush appeared "in public". Happy? What have you gained or lost now?

Still don't understand...

The Army teaches its officers to make decisions based on the following priorities:

My men,
then, my mission,
and only then, myself.

Bush's trip had a real impact on many of the soldiers serving in Iraq. One young enlisted man who was interviewed on TV laid it out clearly: we are here in harm's way and without our families on a major holiday. The CINC chose to leave his family and put himself in harm's way to be with us, and that's appropriate.

Everyone in uniform understood that Bush was acknowledging and honoring the sacrifices our troops in Iraq have made and will continue to make. Even LTGEN Sanchez was moist-eyed at the visit.

Joe,

I have a hard time preventing myself from gloating when I see the Bush hater's reaction to fulfilling the cerimonial duties of his office to give honor to American soldiers.

They are stone deaf to how "Back Away...Slowly" weird they sound to non-partisan Americans.

In public.

Reporters. TV cameras. Questions asked. Observations made.

Compare Bush's "public" to Saddam's.

Gabriel, I'm sorry if my positions got confusing in the crossfire.

I think the Bush trip was fine, praiseworthy. Sure, it had political implications. So does the ribbon-cutting at a new bridge. His speech was sensible, too.

What I don't like is how this trip is taking on almost mythic qualities. I don't think this is "going out in public", any more than Osama holding a taped meeting with his followers in a giant cave would be "in public". The claims that the entire visit was a closely-guarded secret held in a restricted, secure location not open to public access and that it was "in public" are mutually exclusive. (Hillary, and others, are on a truly public visit to Baghdad.)

Second, there seems to be the idea that the visit is some signal of success in the transformation of Iraq. An Instapundit reader, quoted there, says
One of the things that people seem to overlook is that the United States has the capability to take the leader of our country (I wanted to say "Free World" - ed.) - under constant scrutiny from the world's press - and insert him - ON A 747 NO LESS - inside Iraq, without people finding out until he was airborne en route on the return trip to the US....Quagmire my ass."
Does this syllogism make much sense to you? Didn't Saddam visit his defense perimeter when it was about to collapse?

Third, on other blogs I've encountered the idea that with this bold move, Bush is sure to crush the Democratic opposition. "These lefties are pissed because they realize that they now have the fact bush for another 5 years." I'm glad you think this is an invalid argument and I've constructed a strawman, but I think you may be giving us too much credit.

fine fine fine, he didn't go out in public.

but he went to baghdad and came back in what? 24 hours, give or take?

what kind of awesome power is that--not of HIS, but of the United States--that it has that kind of logistics, that kind of ability to just make a decision and put it into action, for its military to be told to adapt, for it to have planes fueled and loaded, to have enough food, weapons, intelligence, steel, gasoline, paper, and pen to make that happen.

America is an immense force. A force that can respond so quickly, so immediately. To act like that is not something that people most nations can achieve. it is not something conceivable to the "it is written" crowd.

Why I love George W. Bush

To watch these the goofy liberals go absolutely freaking nuts because he is doing a good job is just a thing of beauty.

Thanks guys. Your bitterness is only overshadowed by your delusions.

I love bitter, whiney liberals. (hmmmm is there any other kind?)

Paul

Folks, There's a long way to go between now and the 2004 elections.

Yes, the trip was smart. Very smart. Yes, the risks were quite real. Yes, the incident and its reactions from the Democratic candidates are a good illustration of why the Democrats seem determined to lose (note choice of words there) in 2004, and possibly damage themselves in important long term ways as well.

No, the visit does not in and of itself accomplish either goal. No, the visit doesn't mean America is winning (though it does very slightly improve the odds).

And yes, it's fun watching people complain about it. If I can use an analogy that may have resonance with my opposite numbers on the liberal side, have you ever heard someone talk about gays in terms of a grand conspiracy to seduce our children into their lifestyle, etc.? Well, the left-libs going on about Bush's visit and trying to run it down sound kind of like that to the non-partisan and right-leaning crowd in the USA.

On which note, I've just added the phrase "back-away-slowly weird" to my lexicon. Thanks, Trent.

Can someone explain why Bush is popular with the troops? I've seen aggresive moves under his watch to cut soldier pay and veteran benefits.

Rosco do you actually WATCH the news or do you just troll your days away on the internet...

sigh

The president's visit came the day he signed a $401.3 billion defense authorization bill that included a 4.15 percent pay increase and improvements in other benefits for soldiers.

http://durangoherald.com/asp-bin/article_generation.asp?article_type=news&article_path=/news/03/news031125_4.htm

You liberals really are said.

Paul, here's a trip down memory lane.
Unless Congress and President Bush take quick action when Congress returns after Labor Day, the uniformed Americans in Iraq and the 9,000 in Afghanistan will lose a pay increase approved last April of $75 a month in "imminent danger pay" and $150 a month in "family separation allowances."

The Defense Department supports the cuts, saying its budget can't sustain the higher payments amid a host of other priorities. But the proposed cuts have stirred anger among military families and veterans' groups and even prompted an editorial attack in the Army Times, a weekly newspaper for military personnel and their families that is seldom so outspoken.

Congress did in fact overrule this decision. I'm not sure whose idea the latest pay raise is.

Bush just said 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' in Arabic - and everybody knows it.

Any candidate who proposes that we pull out 'early' will be recognized as having no stomach for the responsibilties that the Presidency carries; He/She'd begin their term as a lame duck, with a public image as being insufficent for the office. [ cue slideshow of the Carter Presidency ]

Our shoe is now nailed to the floor in Iraq, to the terror and dismay of everyone who wants to see us gone. Bush can't pull out - and every candidate ( and Iraqi opposition leader ) knows that Bush is willing to stay for the long term.

Bush just said 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' in Arabic - and everybody knows it.

Gee willikers, I missed the part of the trip where Bush stood on the banks of the Tigris and spoke to the assembled masses...I also missed the part where Bush reversed all those troop redeployments, and where Bremer stopped getting reamed by Sistani...

This was a morale booster for the troops and for the country. To those ends, it was the right thing to do, and it was damn effective.

But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that it was for Iraqi consumption, nor that it was announcing a change in policy.

Andrew Lazarus here is a trip to common sense.

Legislation was set to expire. Congress renewed it. That is a good thing since they put the time limit on it in the first place!

You folks are really pathetic and sad.

You want to say that an issue of paperwork supports:

"I've seen aggresive moves under his watch to cut soldier pay and veteran benefits.

See my first post above:

"To watch these the goofy liberals go absolutely freaking nuts because he is doing a good job is just a thing of beauty.

Thanks guys. Your bitterness is only overshadowed by your delusions.

Thanks Andrew for playing the part of the delusional, bitter liberal.

Don't forget, the Iraqi governing council, and Paul Bremer were also in attendance at this same meal. For the President to not recognize their presence, and their importance, and to recognize that Iraqis have a vital role to play in stailizing and rebuilding their own country would have been wrong. There were several Iraqi press persons in the mess tent that night, and they reported the President's speech, they would have reported his omission of the Iraqis. No, Pres. Bush did not stand in the middle of the 14 July bridge and make a speech in the middle of crowds of Iraqis, that would be dangerously stupid in light of the situation, but he did come to baghdad, and he did make his speech with Iraqis in attendance, including the press. The purpose was served.

Here is some cold hard reality to consider; the Iraqis who work with the Coalition are threatened, even killed for doing so. When no US soldier is available, they kill Iraqi policemen, or civilians who work with us. Still, Iraqis are working with us, in the hopes that we will stick around to get rid of the thugs and insurgents. We must stay the course, to bolster the Iraqis who are trying to rise above 25 years of oppression, and that speech does give them hope to continue, knowing we will be there to help. The Iraqis I talked to are impressed that the President came, and with his speech, so it serves a purpose.

I don't recommend anyone enlist and come over here, but anyone who thinks they have a better solution should contact the Red Cross or some other NGO, and come on down. Otherwise, you are just sitting safe at home, playing Monday-morning quarterback.

"But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that it was for Iraqi consumption, nor that it was announcing a change in policy."

How can you say it was NOT for Iraqi consumption when he addressed 4 GC members face to face and spoke directly to Iraqis in his speech?

With sentences like this:

"I have a message for the Iraqi people: you have an opportunity to seize the moment and rebuild your great country, based on human dignity and freedom. "

Luncy

Paul, you're the perfect Bush radical (NOT conservative): vicious and eagerly self-deluded.
Legislation was set to expire. Congress renewed it. That is a good thing since they put the time limit on it in the first place!
What you have refused to admit to yourself, even though it was in plain English in the news story I quoted above, is that the Bush Administration was against the renewal of the extension of the higher pay. Congress renewed it anyway. Game over. Ski, I'm cool with
I don't recommend anyone enlist and come over here, but anyone who thinks they have a better solution should contact the Red Cross or some other NGO, and come on down. Otherwise, you are just sitting safe at home, playing Monday-morning quarterback.
as long as you apply it equally across the political spectrum. In harm's way, as you are, you have the props to say that. Hope you got a chance to see Hillary too (purely for balance). Did you know Bush planned his trip only after hers was announced?

>"...the Bush Administration was against the
>renewal of the extension of the higher pay.

You left out the part about "...without additional funding to finance it."

The Defense Department has to draw on the same operations budget for both payroll finance and operations and training in the field. Given the realities of Afghan and Iraqi operations, the additional combat pay would steal vital training budgets from the troops intended for rotation into Iraq. To not fight that extension of the pay bonus without additional money to pay for it would condemn newly activated reservists to unnecessary death and injury.

The funds for the additional combat pay bonuses were in the defense supplemental appropriation bill.

To my knowledge, Hilary was not on this base. Sure, I'd go see her, I'd like to hear what she has to say.

Honestly, I don't really care if the President planned his trip before or after HRC's, I just appreciate the fact that he made the trip.

As a soldier, I try to keep to the apolitical example, because I have to follow the orders of the CinC no matter what. The difference between the current CinC and the previous one is that Pres. Bush seems to have a genuine affection, concern and respect for his troops, as well as a manner of conducting himself as someone soldiers can respect.( Of course you may not agree).

Andrew the only "game over" you have to worry about is in '04.

You twisted the facts and got nailed doing it.

And that is the reason I love George W Bush... He makes you whack job liberals self destruct.

Trent and Paul, do you still deny that the Administration wanted to or needed to cut military pay and benefits, or do you want to admit they did and say they had a good excuse? I don't follow you here. Let's just suppose there was a budget problem—what does it say that it was combat pay that had to be cut? Veterans' benefits too. [LINK]

I think you may find in 2004 George Bush isn't the only political campaign to be misunderestimated. Reality is catching up to you.

Andrew,

Life is more complicated than your "When did you stop beating your wife" gotcha games.

Congress mandated a military benefit without funding for it. This is what Congress likes to do when chances of pay out are small. Well, reality in the form of the bill for a large number of troops in combat in Iraq has arrived without the money to pay for it. The Defense Department, as the fiduciary executive custodian, said to Congress "we either lose the benefit or get troops killed unnecessarily -- your choice." Congress finally paid up in the supplemental appropriation.

Democrats like you have spun and gotten on soapboxes to grandstand this to mean the Bush Administration was "screwing troops out of combat pay."

Had Defense paid the benefit and let troops get killed for lack of training when it could have been prevented. Your ilk would have condemned Bush's Administration for being -- rightfully had they done it -- "criminally negligent" rather than "heartless" and "out to screw the troops."

There is no pleasing some people.

Sigh

It doesn't matter what I type.

No matter the answer you would find some other whack job thing to whine about. People like you always do.

You are just pissed as hell that Bush is doing a good job. The trip made you see red. You are far more interested in your goofy political dumb shit than you are having this country prosper.

I stated at the beginning I loved Bush because he made you whack jobs go nuts. You jumped up and proved me right.

So rave on to someone who has the energy to attempt, however in vain, to disabuse you of your delusions.

I personally have tired of trying to reason with the irrational. The reason your party keeps losing elections is that more and more it is dominated by a sect that eschews reality.

I really don't need to prove you are one of them. Reading this thread, you have done a fine job yourself.

That of course was to Andrew.

Trent types faster than me I guess.

"You are just pissed as hell that Bush is doing a good job."

"Iraq's deadliest month"

Just out of curiosity, what would a bad job look like?

(As far as the benefit cut, I understand you to say out of all the items in the DoD budget, combat pay was the one to hold hostage for a supplemental appropriation. Well, that speaks for itself. Incidentally, does it make sense to spend more money without raising more money?)

Andrew, this may be news to you, but we are at war. You can expect deaths. As Bush said, it will be a long, hard struggle.

Please, look at the big picture. Look at the ramifications of the past's strategy of appeasement. Look at what would lie before us if we didn't prosecute this far in an offensive stance.

This is the cold war turned hot. Accept that. With that in mind, what would you consider a viable alternative? No ANY dems provide a viable alternative to the appeasement of yesterday and cold/hot war of today?

I'm sorry. I've got to elaborate here. And I'm not as eloquent on military matters and foreign policy as the rest of you WoCers are. But I've got to say this while it is on my mind. So please bear with me.

Andrew, when I say "cold war" I'm attempting to call to mind the length of time of the struggle. Face it. We will be battling terrorists for AT LEAST a decade. I've got a 17 year old. I fully expect that he could be dealing with this after I'm gone. If not the actually struggle, at least the aftermath.

To be highlighting the death toll for this week, or any week, is disingenuous. People will die. THAT's the HOT part. We have been dragged into a civil war between Muslims who wish to modernize sociologically and Muslims who don't. Those who don't will do all they can to prevent us from helping, in any way, shape or form those who do want to be a part of the modern world community.

If you have not prepared yourself, psychologocally for these facts, you are in the camp of the deluded.

All the folks who fancy themselves "anti-American" have aligned themselves with the enemy. Those anti-war protests that bitch about globalization, anti-Bush, anti-trade, anti-anythingrelatedtoAmerica...they are simply aligning themselves with our enemies, personifying the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" motto.

Some ridicule Bush for his "with us or against us" diatribe. And maybe they have valid points. BUT in this case, for this cause, he was absolutely correct.

Unless you are a fool, you will accept these things:

Our people will die. Here and abroad.

Our ideology will be persecuted.

Our way of life will be attacked.

Our freedoms will be infringed.

Don't misunderstand me. Any and every soldiers death is horrific. But that is what they signed up for. And we are at war.

You have to decide. Is this a cause worth fighting for? Do you believe that our ideology is better than the ideology of our enemy?

Moreover, is that ideology worth fighting for?

Recently, my 17 year old has expressed an interest in joining up. He believes in our ideology. He's far more intelligent than I was at his age. And I reiterate, he is my only child.

I tell him, No. Not you. Not this time. Not now.

But in my heart, I know, if not him, someone else's son. And if it came down to it, I'd let him go. Right now, I believe he has more to offer in the realm of fighting ideologies than he does in the realm of bearing arms against the enemy.

I, myself, only just turned 40. Were it not for my son, I would have signed up before I reached that ineligable age.

You seem a reasonable man. And I'm not quite immersed in the intelletual eruditions of this forum. But, some things are clear to me. I'm surprised they are not clear to you.

You, my friend, can either accept the facts that we are in the war of our lifetime, that will probably last our lifetime, or you are denying the obvious and on the verge of (not totally but not stalwart enough to suit my taste) being a fellow traveler.

Lunacy

Andrew, this may be news to you, but we are at war. You can expect deaths. As Bush said, it will be a long, hard struggle.
It would have been nice if we were down to one division in Iraq now and a total U.S. bill for reconstruction of $1.7 billion, wouldn't it? [RELATED LINK] Like we heard before the war. But I'm forgetting, it's not polite to say anything that would suggest that whether this war was somehow justifiable or not, it's being prosecuted by self-deluded fanatics having a most unpleasant reacquaintance with reality.

I'll summarize my view briefly.

(1) Wesley Clark nailed it when he said the Iraq War was a sideshow to the War on Terror. The only people Saddam was capable of injuring, under the circumstances that existed before the war, were his own subjects. Hence, positing "appeasement" as the (only?) alternative, is mere false dichotomy. We should be finishing the job against Al Qaeda in conjunction with our very willing allies.

(2) If you are playing chess and sacrifice your Queen for no very good reason, even a Grandmaster won't be able to save the game in your place. Having made the colossal blunder of diverting our resources to Iraquagmire, Bush leaves us in the situation where we don't have that many good moves. I think here, too, [LINK] Clark had the best-articulated plan I have heard (and I am not one of his supporters), with specific steps how to get more Allies to participate, including allies with more counterinsurgency and failed-state reconstruction experience than we have.

(3) I don't think you were trying to suggest that the increasing number deaths in war (nine Allied officials killed today) are a sign of a job well done, were you?

"suggest that whether this war was somehow justifiable or not, it's being prosecuted by self-deluded fanatics having a most unpleasant reacquaintance with reality. "

See, you can say this without a twinge of guilt. There is absolutely nothing fanatical about the notion that Iraq could be a major coup in regard to sociological evolution in the region. That Iraq could be a major defeat in the war of ideologies. THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE YET TO RECONCILE with.

Wesley Clark is deluded if he think we can't look at a map and see that Iran is directly between Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The only people Saddam was capable of injuring, under the circumstances that existed before the war, were his own subjects."

You state this as if they don't matter. All that claptrap about republicans not caring for brownskinned peoples has suddenly fallen back on you and your ilk. The "only" people, as though they don't matter. Let me tell you this. If America were to decide to "create the breeding ground for democracy" across the globe, I would stand tall and cheer!

You go on to say, "Hence, positing "appeasement" as the (only?) alternative, is mere false dichotomy".

Please, I'm surely not as erudite as you. How does Clark's statement alleviate the notion of appeasement? You do understand France's stance? Germany's stance? Russia's stance? China's stance? No where does Clark offer an alternative to appeasement.

You are aware they all of these countries had financial ties to Saddam that they knew could not be honored if the US intervened?

Where, again, does Wesley's assertion disprove appeasement?

Appeasement is NOT a false dichotomy. If Wesley and others want to A: win an election, B: want to one up Bush, they need more than platitudes to extend their position.

(2) If you are playing chess and sacrifice your Queen for no very good reason, even a Grandmaster won't be able to save the game in your place. Having made the colossal blunder of diverting our resources to Iraquagmire, Bush leaves us in the situation where we don't have that many good moves.

Ahhh, you make me remenisce on YES. Has the queen been reliquished?

Honestly, I don't see where Clark's plan deviates from Bush's. With one excepttion. Bush is objective driven. Clark is time driven.

"with specific steps how to get more Allies to participate,"

Ahhh, yes. He suggests getting neighbors to help out. Lovely notion. Syria and Saudi Arabia and Iran and Jordan will be our willing and loyal playmates in the sandbox. Completely disregarding the islamist/anti-american syllabus they've thus far adhered to. Only in utopia.

For the record, we have a good number of other countries involved. None of them have the wealth and power that we do. Remarkable in this is that many are from the form Eastern Bloc. Now what is it that would make these former Eastern Bloc countries decide that Iraq freedom was worth while?

As to the rest of Wesley's plan, he suggest involving regular Iraqis. Well, Bush never woulda thoughta that?!?

Why do you suppose we are spending millions of dollar training the IP? For shits and grins?

Seriously. You never answered the real question. Are you ideologically in sync or opposed to our cause in the wider war on terrorism?

I don't expect you to anwer. This is a personal question. But it is one you should reconcile yourself to answer.

RE: Involving other nations. This is something else you must accept or be on the wrong side of history. Our traditional allies (France, Germany, etal) There is nothing that would bring them to the table. You must decide, if they stood up and said, "Fuck you America, we hate your power and your ideology, and we won't support you" would you still be adamant on including them? I ask because that is basically what they said at the time.

And to your opening passage:

"It would have been nice if we were down to one division in Iraq now and a total U.S. bill for reconstruction of $1.7 billion, wouldn't it?"

It would've been nice if Islamofacists hadn't bombed the fuck out of us on 9/11, but that didn't happen.

Forget utopia. Deal with reality.

Lunacy

And now that I've closed that post, I must ask again, Andrew, are you with us in regard to ideology, or not:?

See, this partisanship crap on dillutes the wider issue.

A: If you are in agreement that we are in a war of ideologies, you have two choices...agree with our ideology or don't.

A1: if you don't, we can all write you off as a lost cause now, foregoing any further discussion.

A2: If you do, why not stand beside us and say appeasement sucks and you're not gonna take it any more.

The fact that you and Pratike (excuse the spelling) and other like you, visit this blog, tells me that you haven't completely made up you minds on this issue.

Well, let me help you out a bit. This is not about politics as we know it. THAT is why the dems are so woefully behind the curve. It IS about the big picture.

If even one Democrat had stood tall about their commitment to this hot/cold war, we, the moronic puclic, would listen. But they don't. Leiberman tried, but he failed under poll ratings et al.

Look, I've always voted dem. I won't next term. I'll tell you why. The dems don't sufficiently appreciate this war for what it is. They either disraard the intricacies as unimportant or they are absolutlely ignorant of the long term ramifications.

I submit to you again:

Please, look at the big picture. Look at the ramifications of the past's strategy of appeasement. Look at what would lie before us if we didn't prosecute this far in an offensive stance.

Excuse my rough language here, but this is free expression and all...

I tell you there is a war here that will no go away into your utopian fantasies and you give me Wesley Clark. This is the same WC that in July 2001 stated that Bush was the be all and end all. The same man that voted R when he really meant D.

Look. These partisan labels aren't all-important to me. Give me a realistic plan and outlook.

Them dems, to my knowledge, can't.

And I've been looking. I thought Leiberman was my man. But none of them, like you, really get it.

You will likely die before this conflict is settled. You have to decide, are you in sync with our ideology or not. Because that's what it is, even in socioEU. Do you believe in America and what our consitition, bill of rights represents, or not.

You have YET to answer this.

Lunacu

Hey, I put a disclaimer in the previous post and never took advantage of it.

So... I will here.

Andrew, you and all those other ultrapartisan dem, have got to decide. I'm not just pulling out Bush's rhetoric here, although it is quite useful.

A: do you accept that there is a broad war of ideologies?

B: do you accept that your children, my chldren, perhaps our children's childlren, may be adversely affected by this wider war?

C. If you accept these things, how the fuck can you be so partisan? Why can't you evaluate in your own mind what strategy would truly benefit this wider war and accept that it MAY coincide with Bush's strategy.

Maybe you don't have children. Maybe you don't foresee grandchildren.

I do. And I know full well what kind of like I've lead. The benefits I've had. The freedom I've known.

I didn't know it then but I know full well now that R. Reagan's predecessos did what they had to do to ensure my freedom, and in extension, my son's freedom.

G-d bless Reagan and G-d damn those of you who don't see the whole deal here.

I don't know what Time Zone you're in, Lunacy, but I couldn't keep up.

There's a line in the movie "Body Heat" I've always liked, where the sheriff tells his friend (whom he's just starting to suspect of murder), "People always lookin' for reasons the rules don't apply to them." For you, 9/11 and the War of Ideologies (note, not a war on terror groups!) has provided the reason.

First, the inadequacy of our casus belli. So what if Saddam had no WMD, no delivery system, no role in the 9/11 attacks on America, and only the most tenuous connections to Al Qaeda. Here War of Ideologies trumps all previously-accepted ideas of justified war. And, moreover, the hallucinatory dream of what reform in Iraq just might do trumps any rational analysis of what size mess we were more likely to end up in. [That vision of pro-US pro-Israel Iraq is how convicted fraudster Ahmed Charlatan Chalabi sold the war: con men always tell the mark what he wants to hear.]

Second, the bizarre idea that the onlyalternative to the War on Iraq was "appeasement". Suppose instead we had started a war with Saudi Arabia or had invaded Western Pakistan. Would you be saying that people who disagreed and supported a war with Iraq were "appeasers"? You offer two choices: unconditional support of George Bush and the dumb-ass sideshow war he got into, and appeasement. This makes no sense to me. (I'm willing to accept appeasement arguments in respect of the far-left fringe that opposed the Afghan War, but I am not a member.)

Third, I reject the idea that criticizing the manifest incompetence of this Administration in the conduct of both the Afghan War and the Iraq War is unpatriotic. Is this what you think of the British public, who demanded the replacement of Neville Chamberlain, not, as you recall, over Munich, but over the military reverses of the first nine months of the war? The 30,000 troops and $1.7 billion reconstruction are, of course, post-9/11 claims about the impending Iraq War. Would you trust an auto mechanic whose estimates were so unreliable? And now you demand a "realistic plan and outlook" of us?! When your side's plans and predictions lie every one in ruins?! Tu quoque!

Fourth, I'm a parent. We're about the same age. I'd like my children to grow up under our Western freedoms. I'd also like them to grow up in a country that doesn't start wars under false pretext. And a country that doesn't abandon Afghanistan to warlords and even the Taliban when a sexier battle looms up. And a country governed by men and women of both vision and judgment, not just the former.

And finally, I comment here in the hopes of showing scared moderates that this idea that the Democratic Party has been taken over by cowards waiting to surrender to Osama bin Laden is just more of the con job that our current feckless Administration is trying to put over.

--"First, the inadequacy of our casus belli. So what if Saddam had no WMD, no delivery system, no role in the 9/11 attacks on America, and only the most tenuous connections to Al Qaeda. Here War of Ideologies trumps all previously-accepted ideas of justified war. And, moreover, the hallucinatory dream of what reform in Iraq just might do trumps any rational analysis of what size mess we were more likely to end up in. [That vision of pro-US pro-Israel Iraq is how convicted fraudster Ahmed Charlatan Chalabi sold the war: con men always tell the mark what he wants to hear.] "
--

I don't believe there was inadaquate casus belli. I think 17 unheeded resolutions and an ignored cease fire agreement were sufficient. Evidence of Saddam's WMD desires (see Kay's report, afforementioned resolutions, etc.) and obviously ties to terror (see funding Hamas et al, see Stephen Hayes), coupled with Saddam's prior behavior were further cause for war.

On top of all this, perhaps you should consider how it might seem to would be terrorists that the UN's appeasement in these matters, and Clinton's non-action on Cole and other matters, would give them reason to hope.

The "hallucinatory dream" doesn't trump rational analysis. The rational analysis stands on its own. But, yes, the "hallucinatory dream" only makes that analysis all the more appealing to those who truly believe that people of all walks can govern themselves given the opportunity. If your partisanism can't allow you to see the casus belli and/or the merits of democracy in the region, I can't help you. You choose to be willfully blind to the obvious. THAT is why your camp will lose come next November. If ANY in your camp had a clue we wouldn't be discussing this now, in this manner.

--"Second, the bizarre idea that the onlyalternative to the War on Iraq was "appeasement". Suppose instead we had started a war with Saudi Arabia or had invaded Western Pakistan. Would you be saying that people who disagreed and supported a war with Iraq were "appeasers"? You offer two choices: unconditional support of George Bush and the dumb-ass sideshow war he got into, and appeasement. This makes no sense to me. (I'm willing to accept appeasement arguments in respect of the far-left fringe that opposed the Afghan War, but I am not a member.)"
--

Attack Saudi Arabia? Yeah, that would bring the international community to our side in a hurry. THAT would make it clear we weren't mad crusaders hell bent on erradicating Islam. Attack an Islamic nuclear powered Pakistan. Now who's being hallucinatory? Your 3rd and 4th choices are non-starters. It's not that they'd be appeasers. It's that they'd be delusional. Realistic alternatives are welcome. These two don't fit that description. You can only say, "Don't do that" so many times before it becomes fitting that you should at some point say, "Do this."

As to my unconditional support of Bush, that's not true. If Leiberman were a potential candidate, and showed the balls to do the job, I'd consider him. NONE of your other dwarves have demonstrated that they have what it takes.

--"Third, I reject the idea that criticizing the manifest incompetence of this Administration in the conduct of both the Afghan War and the Iraq War is unpatriotic. Is this what you think of the British public, who demanded the replacement of Neville Chamberlain, not, as you recall, over Munich, but over the military reverses of the first nine months of the war? The 30,000 troops and $1.7 billion reconstruction are, of course, post-9/11 claims about the impending Iraq War. Would you trust an auto mechanic whose estimates were so unreliable? And now you demand a "realistic plan and outlook" of us?! When your side's plans and predictions lie every one in ruins?! Tu quoque!"
--

I don't believe I said you were unpatriotic. Only unreasonable and irrational. Comparing Chamberlain to Bush only exemplifies this. You're automechanic analogy is lose. If he gave me an estimate because I slammed my fist on the hood and demanded one before he'd even looked, then he adjusted it after having driven the beast, I suppose I'd expect that there might be some deviation between estimate 1 and estimate 2.

--"Fourth, I'm a parent. We're about the same age. I'd like my children to grow up under our Western freedoms. I'd also like them to grow up in a country that doesn't start wars under false pretext. And a country that doesn't abandon Afghanistan to warlords and even the Taliban when a sexier battle looms up. And a country governed by men and women of both vision and judgment, not just the former."

Lucky for you, you and your children live in a country where wars aren't started under false pretext, where western freedoms are protected. If you have chosen not to read the resolutions and cease fire agreements, if you chose not to study the debate in congress prior to the vote for this war, I can't help you. I did. I decided then that the pretext was just and had been clearly documented. Afghanistan is not being abandoned. I know many on your side secretly wish it were only because you're so desperate to pin something heinous on Bush. It doesn't matter how detrimental it may be for us, as long as there is some foundation to the claims the this admin is a "miserable failure/manifest incompetence." I've read this on numerous occasions too. It's not so. When and if they do turn their backs on Afghanistan, I only hope some other politician with power has the balls to bring the matter to rights. None have been forthcoming in the lineup to "defeat Bush".

Just so you'll know...I didn't vote for Bush. I voted for Gore. In fact, I've always voted Democratic, because they generally reflect my centrist position on domestic issues. I'm not haranguing you from a partisan stance. However, you should know that when you make unfounded claims about hallucinations and non-starters like attacking Mecca, and you, clearly being a reasonable man trapped by his party's vehemence, you don't make it hard for centrist swing voters like me to make a choice.

You guys are like the cuckoo. Ever fouling their own nest.

--"And finally, I comment here in the hopes of showing scared moderates that this idea that the Democratic Party has been taken over by cowards waiting to surrender to Osama bin Laden is just more of the con job that our current feckless Administration is trying to put over."
--

I'm ready to accept reasonable alternatives, when presented. I'll not hold my breath. Clark, Dean, Kerry, et al, are not, in my opinion, reasonable alternatives.

You want to know what I like most about Bush? He's not worried about the opinion of the masses. He wasn't swayed by France and the British chattering class. He's not waffling his position because the wind changes direction. I know, this is probably why most of your party can't stand him. To you it means he's out of touch. To me it means he's got a clear goal that he won't be wavered from. At least that is my hope. Because, whether we were justified in this battle of Iraq or not, we're there now. The only right thing to do is see it through, despite the hardships, money and casualty rates. Anything less would be immoral and disastrous.

So, you go ahead and nip away at the heals of this effort. But please be mindful that there is a line between constructive criticism and destructive harping. And when you and other dems cross that line, you're pushing someone else further from your cause and revealing just how ugly American partisanism can be.

Lunacy

"Second, the bizarre idea that the onlyalternative to the War on Iraq was "appeasement". Suppose instead we had started a war with Saudi Arabia or had invaded Western Pakistan."

Say what? Is there anything about failing to comply with 18 UN resolutions or feeding your people into a meat grinder or invading your neighbors that might indicate that Iraq was a special case? Really cruisin' for a bruisin' as my Grandma would say.

Lunacy,

I repeat: "There is no pleasing some people."

The causus belli of this war is that surrender terms were agreed to after the first Gulf war and were not obeyed. The fact that we had a talkative coward in the White House for eight years does not change the fact that Iraq remained a threat to the world economy. Our only tool in the interim were pin prick strikes and and sanctions. As you will recall, liberals were calling for a lifting of of those cruel sanctions, which everyone else knew would bring us back to Saddam as usual.

Bush knew that the solution to 9/11 was to forcibly open a window in the Arab world and let some light and air in. Thanks to the dilly-dallying of Powell and Blair, Saddam had plenty of time to bury his WMD so as to make Bush look the fool.

We haven't yet found Saddam. Does that mean he never existed?

Thanks to the dilly-dallying of Powell and Blair, Saddam had plenty of time to bury his WMD so as to make Bush look the fool.
Just who is irrational here? Just who is unwilling to face up to the facts? We have access to the entire country, we've captured and interrogated most of their senior scientists, and it isn't that Bush was dead flat wrong, it's Powell's and Blair's fault. There is no Santa Claus, and there are no (or almost no) WMD left in Iraq.

To you, it's not really about our physical security. It's about "balls" and masculinity. I guess there's a little Clinton in all of us. The adrenalin rush has short-circuited your brain into getting behind a group of fools who didn't have the vaguest idea what they were getting into. [LINK to pro-war professor on the poor planning; LINK on Hayes/Feith; LA Times on exaggerations in Kay Report (did you know that hemmorhagic fever research we were so sure is a bioweapon is on a disease endemic in Iraq?)] Now we're waking up from your guys' collective wet dream, hundreds of lives lost, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, no end in sight, and little likelihood that we are any better protected from Islamic terrorists, whose numbers grow by the day, than before the war. We really showed them!

Andrew, did you read any of those resolutions? Blix's reports?

In them, it declared that Saddam was responsible for proving he'd eliminated any noncompliant weapons. It was not the inspectors place or the US's place to prove this. It was Saddams responsibility.

He didn't do that. He could have, but he didn't.

Even Blix's reports list a plethora of unaccounted for items that Saddam was charged to eliminate and verify said elimination.

So, where are they now? They were there. They did exist. They were well documented by the inspectors as late as 1998.

It's possible they are still there. It's possible they were moved to Syria. It's possible that Saddam did eliminate them and failed to tell any one. Someone knows but its certainly neither you nor me.

That's all beside the point though. The war was justified on many levels. WMDs were only the most popular and popularized rationale.

--"To you, it's not really about our physical security. It's about "balls" and masculinity."
---

You're partly right. Demonstrating our willingness to fight, as opposed to our previous willingness to turn the other cheek or take half hearted measures (a la Clinton) is ALL about our physical security. Just what do you read? Have you read Osama's declaration of war? Any of his writings? You've heard the infamous "paper tiger" comparison?

As for me, I only have balls in the metaphoric sense.

--"Now we're waking up from your guys' collective wet dream, hundreds of lives lost, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, no end in sight, and little likelihood that we are any better protected from Islamic terrorists, whose numbers grow by the day, than before the war. We really showed them!"
---

Again, you're only partly right. There is no end in sight. That's what I've been trying to tell you. Hundreds and billions more will be spent and more lives before we are done. We cannot win this without assisting in the social modernization of the ME. Their political condition foments our enemies. Our previous lack of resolve (or lack of balls) encouraged them. Our previous blind eye to political oppression facilitated our enemies. Those days are gone, and rightly so.

Those who would do us harm will not be persuaded by civil discussion. They will not cease to wish us ill as long as they are captives to barbaric and misguided governments that indoctrinate them in the hopes of deflecting blame from their own flaws. Islamofascists will not tire of attempting to recruit misguided, mal-educated young men, which are aplenty in those regimes. They will continue to be numerous until those regimes are altered, one way or another.

I'm not sure how you know that terrorist numbers grow by the day. This could be true. However, I'd like to contrast your conjecture to the fact that we are catching terrorists daily. And by we, I mean Italy, US, Germany, UK, etc.

No, we haven't "shown them" yet. We're still working on it.

Lunacy

Yowzers, it's gotten ugly in here...

In general I don't come to this blog to read about the past...I come here because most of the discussion centers around what to do about the future (which, in some ways, relates to the past).

So what's to do? Well, for instance, we could talk about what the CPA should do with Sistani, which is much more interesting at this point than the WMD debate.

We could talk about how the administration is bringing failed market fundamentalist policies to Iraq that the IMF has itself rejected.

We could talk about how to reform the UN Security Council and NATO, so they can deal with crises like Rwanda in a timely fashion. We could talk about what the long-term implications might be for a world without the UN, as China and the European Union develop as counterweights to the US both economically and militarily.

We could talk about what the United States could do to beef up its nation-building knowledge and create learning institutions, rather than forcing a military that isn't fundamentally interested in it to handle the job.

In fact, this website, as it understand it, is much more about discussing how to bring capitalism and democracy to other areas of the world than rehashing the past.

Jeebus, people. I'm so unbelievably tired of the psychosexualizing of policy - the demeaning trope that issues of use fo force always are about "dicks" and "balls." Andrew, while we don't agree on many issues, I think you're raising questions that have to be answered as we go through this; but as soon as this argument comes out, I just switch off - and lots of other people do, too.

There are deady serious issues which we are trying to come to a resolution about - about the place of this country in the world, and about what the threats out there look to be - and you're reducing them to Bush's insecurity about his dick size.

Sorry, it just doesn't wash.

A.L.

1. Is it really necessary to bash Bill Clinton to advance the argument that Bush's handling of the War on Terror is the right approach? Wasn't 9/11 pretty much a collective political/ intelligence / military failure? Did Bush campaign on a platform of "Stop the appeasement now!"? Don't think so. The Bill Clinton/Tony Blair no fly zones-missile strikes-and-sanctions policy was, at the time, viewed as fairly aggressive, and was also notably opposed by our allies, including in particular France. Aside from a few bumps in the road ("Both the policy and the timing are suspect"), my recollection was that Clinton's approach was pretty much the bipartisan consensus.

Those who criticize Clinton as a supposed appeaser undermine their credibility and good faith.

2. There seems to be some confusion on two separate issues: The first is whether the Iraqi intervention was justified. I think it unarguably was. The second is whether, being justified, it was judicious. I happen to think that it was the only proper course, even with the benefit of hindsight and especially without that benefit, ie at the time and in the circumstances considered. Nevertheless, the wisdom, as opposed to the justification, of the intervention in Iraq is a perfectly legitimate matter of debate. Some have argued in good faith that it was not worth the cost in blood and treasure, that our resources could have (and should have) been better employed elsewhere, that the destabilizing effects would outweigh the beneficial effects.

I don't happen to agree with these positions, but I can't dismiss them out of hand as either off-the-wall or irrelevant to real concerns that even I have felt myself and I certainly wouldn't characterize them as reflective of appeasement. This is not the same as the Bush-lied/It's-all-about-oil hysteria. To that extent, I think it's unfair to characterize Andrew's comments as "appeasement".

3. Of course, the ballgame has changed now and I can think of no grounds for cutting and running in Iraq. I also have trouble laying much blame on Bush for his handling of the post-war situation. But the man is certainly not beyond error, is he?

Sorry guys. I'll retreat.

I just get so sick of the partisanship. The Clinton haters made me crazy and the Bush bashers do even more so. Especially when so much is at stake here. I am especially disgusted with the politicizing of soldiers' deaths. I'm thoroughly sickened by the almost palpable thrill some seem to get when they can toss another American death on their bash Bush bonfire. This is how I interpreted Andrew's post linking to the news item. I should've resisted responding to it.

I'm done. I never should've started.

Lunacy

Also, re: the remaking of the Mid-East,

I think that the neo-con domino theory of the Iraq war is much overhyped. It also leads simple-minded people to question the war effort on the mistaken grounds that they don't believe (or have faith) in the domino theory. Iraq as a problem predated 9/11. 9/11 made the war more compelling, but much more as a matter of greater urgency and seriousness in demanding compliance with WMD (especially after 17 UNSC resolutions) than with implementing a grand transformational scheme. If reform in Iraq does have that effect, which is by no means predictable or guaranteed, so much the better. This was however hardly a major reason (and really didn't come to the fore as a "cause" in the war until around February, as I recall).

Second, you don't need a Middle East transformation theory to get to the establishment of sound democratic government, guaranteeing popular participation and basic rights. It's not as though we are trying to foment a dictatorship in either Bosnia or Kosovo. The successful democratization of Iraq frankly stands on its own as the only sensible course for the Iraqi people and U.S. policy in Iraq, independent of creating a political model to be generalized, even if that benefit has become more compelling.

Well, I thought I was done, except that now I believe I owe Gabriel a response.

I agree almost completely with what you say. Except that those 17 resolutions (or a good portion of them) were over the 8 years of Clinton's presidency. The retreat of the inspectors was in 1998.

Moreover, I believe Clinton's failure to respond adequately to the Cole bombing and our embassy bombings emboldened our enemies.

Apeasement is too strong a word to apply to Andrew or Clinton. It is not too strong a term to apply toward a good portion of the international community and the UN.

NOW, I'm done.

Lunacy

The Clinton haters made me crazy and the Bush bashers do even more so

I second that. The Clinton haters were despicable at the time (apparently some still haven't gotten over it). But at least they had the excuse of abandoning judgment and balance on an entirely frivolous trifles, whereas the Bush-haters bring their lack of judgment to matters of considerably more gravity.

Lunacy,

As long as your done, I agree (essentially). My point is that we all sort of learned that the policy was inadequate after the fact. Clinton was hardly alone, fairly muscular as Democrats go (remember the Democratic vote in Gulf War I - what a joke!) and, as I recall, considered pretty aggressive at the time for the bit he did do.

Yes, the post-event vision does seem to clear things.

And, in fairness, although I'm not thrilled with every aspect of the Kosovo issue as it unfolded, I admired Bill for that one too. He was muscular for his day.

But while we are thinking of present vision vs post vision, I was indeed rather appalled at the time by the Cole issue. I'm not sure what he could have done or what I would've expected him to do but to me it was a clear attack on our military and I felt it was rather ignored. I didn't pay as close attention to such things back then as I do now. Maybe there were some behind the scenes responses that I'm wholey unaware of.

Lunacy

As I said before, the prior bungling has left us with difficult choices, none of which seems particularly promising. I could very easily be persuaded that we will need more personnel in Iraq, and this may involve having to increase the size of our army or training civilian experts in reconstruction tasks. This will not be cheap; perhaps we can't really afford another tax cut next year. The task also requires restructuring our forces to encourage significant European participation.

Notwithstanding all of the truculent Bush rhetoric (None of you care to defend "Bring it On", true?), this position appears to be to the Administration's right. [LINK] Josh Marshall has a great post on the present confusion in our postwar "plan",
The essence of the story is that the plan for a political handover that we announced just weeks ago is already on the fast-track to dead letterhood.

[large snip]
On the homefront, the president is shaping his political campaign around the notion that we shouldn't show weakness and we can't cut and run. Meanwhile, it's clear to pretty much everyone in Iraq that we're doing both.

Time isn't reversible, and the blunders we made under Jay Garner and right up until the present day aren't necessarily reversible, any more than losing pieces in a chess game. Jack Balkin speaks for me on this:
What Friedman has not explained is what liberals should do in this crucial six month period given that Bush seems to show no signs of wanting to listen to anyone but his own advisors. It's one thing to say that liberals should work for a more democratic Iraq. It's quite another to support a President who will not listen to what they say and is likely to mangle the situation as badly as he has mangled the previous six months. If Friedman is correct, by the time the Democrats regain the White House (if they do!) it may well be too late. Bush may have ruined the possiblity of a democratic Iraq for years to come. And Democrats will be left to clean up the mess created by this most unwise adventure in world domination. What infuriates many people on the left, I would suggest, is that given Bush's track record so far, they do not believe that he is really serious about making the tough choices necessary to democratize Iraq, particularly with an election coming up in less than a year. For Bush is above all a political animal, who will do what it takes to win reelection. Even if he is defeated in 2004, Democrats will inherit a much more dangerous world and a financially strapped government as a result of his bad policies.

[Snip]
Back before the war, in September 2002, I argued that Bush was the most dangerous person on Earth. Not because he was evil, or bad hearted, or opposed to freedom, but because he was a gambler, cocksure, arrogant, and altogether convinced of his own rectitude. He and his Administration are the last people we should be trusting to handle this most delicate moment in American foreign policy. The war was unwise because it made us less safe, and weakened our hand in the war on terror. Now we must make the best of a bad situation. The first step is voting the person who made this terrible mess out of office as soon as possible.

Now, taking a deep breath to be civil (I assume Armed Liberal has noticed that the phrasing he objects to in my post was quoted from pro-war comments upthread), here are three points I would like to see some further comments on:

(1) Employing Mr Gonzalez's very useful distinction between justified and judicious, it would seem to me that for the invasion of Iraq to have been judicious, it would be necessary for the transformative goals to be attainable through the invasion as the means. As events are unfolding, that doesn't seem to be the case. Doesn't that imply that we made a bad situation (very bad for most of the citizens of Iraq) even worse, particularly with respect to our own security?

(2) "Liberal" (ex-)hawks (also extending to Prof. Drezner, who is not a liberal, and to Dan Darling of this blog, who isn't either) are shaking their heads in amazement and dismay at the insanely optimistic predictions [LINK] about post-war Iraq, which more and more seem to have arisen from a scam run by Ahmed Chalabi and endorsed by the DoD Office of Special Plans. Why do so many of you have no interest in understanding the gross errors in strategy, settling for bromides about how no plan is ever perfect? Why aren't you demanding that these officials, prima facie incompetents, be removed, and what ever makes you think they are doing better this time?

(3) Trying to avoid too much psychology, isn't it true that the quality Balkin called cocksureness in Bush is one reason so many of you have faith in his conduct of the war? This is what I meant by vision without judgment. Pearl Harbor was a bold, audacious move (did the Japanese have a doctrine of pre-emption?), and it was also reckless, stupid, and ultimately catastrophic. We are turning into the flies, not the paper.

Andrew,

You make some valid points. What I find difficult to take seriously is the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't attitude reflected in particular by the quotes from Marshall's unbelievably lame commentary on Bush. "The president is shaping his political campaign around the notion that we shouldn't show weakness and we can't cut and run. Meanwhile, it's clear to pretty much everyone in Iraq that we're doing both". Bush is "a gambler, cocksure, arrogant, and altogether convinced of his own rectitude", yet "Bush is above all a political animal, who will do what it takes to win reelection". This is mindless, gratuitous, and inconsistent partisan drivel: If Bush were a political animal he probably wouldn't have done anything as politically risky as liberating Iraq.

Mathew Yglesias is barely out of diapers. Marshall has no excuse.

Other than with the huge benefit of hindsight, what exactly are you proposing? Joint administration with the French? On what planet?

Andrew, I can only speak for myself here.

--Trying to avoid too much psychology, isn't it true that the quality Balkin called cocksureness in Bush is one reason so many of you have faith in his conduct of the war?
--

The "cocksuredness" isn't about conduct of the war, it reflects Bush's willingness to make unpopular but correct decisions. I also believe it reflects his willingness to finish this business in Iraq as opposed to leaving the deed undone.

And, that Darling link doesn't work. Could you provide it please?

And Gabriel, the larger snips Andrew posted aren't from Marshall, they are from Jack Balkin at http://balkin.blogspot.com/

Lunacy

Andrew has no serious proposals, never has.

The Washington Post has a headline
"Leading Cleric Calls For Elections in Iraq,"
which would be above-the-fold news for a week in any other Arab country, and Marshall writes it off as "our impotence" (A.L. - Marshall's metaphor, not mine).

The Post article doesn't read all that differently from the White House needing a fatwa from Kennedy on an education bill. And if Sistani's fatwa didn't make sense in that country, there would have been other fatwas to cancel it out.

Whether or not the war was a good idea in the first place is going to be topic A until the Democratic presidential candidates decide it shouldn't be.

Wait a minute, here. The war was popular. The peace-keeping is not. Let's be clear about this.

If going to war was bold, it was only because the unpopular problems that we're experiencing now were foreseeable. But since they weren't foreseen, then going to war wasn't bold at the time.

Staying and finishing the job--now that would be bold.

Praktike, what makes you think "... since they weren't foreseen..."?

And I'm not sure who you are claiming thinks peacekeeping is unpopular. It's not unpopular with me. It was a given when we began this thing. I can't account for why anyone who paid attention wasn't prepared for a "long hard slog". Change of this magnitude is never quick and easy. If common sense doesn't reveal that than history does.

And what makes either you or Andrew believe that we will not follow through?

I read Marshall's piece and his assertion that "On the homefront, the president is shaping his political campaign around the notion that we shouldn't show weakness and we can't cut and run. Meanwhile, it's clear to pretty much everyone in Iraq that we're doing both." How can Marshall make this ascertion about the Iraqi people? Or does he mean our soldiers? Or both? He's not very clear.

Nor is Marshall very convincing here, even with his piggybacks from the WaPo.

Lunacy

I can't account for why anyone who paid attention wasn't prepared for a "long hard slog".

Me neither. May want to ask PW, DF, DR, and some others that very question.

BTW, Sistani has a pretty interesting website, www.najaf.org. There's even an "Ask the Imam" link!

"Me neither. May want to ask PW, DF, DR, and some others that very question."

Gee, you're even more convincing that Marshall. And in fewer words, too.

L

Praktike is absolutely right on popularity. I don't think I can get images to work in comments, but [LINK] these graphs show very big jumps for Bush's approval rating in April 2003. I don't think the start of the baseball season was the reason. (You might also consider that the last acts of the Argentine and Greek military juntas as their domestic support faded were starting wars.)

Lunacy, I didn't link to Darling, but we had a most amicable exchange down HERE. I believe the link you are having trouble with is from today's NY Times HERE. (If your browser is still unhappy, the headline is "Iraqi Leaders Say U.S. Was Warned of Disorder After Hussein, but Little Was Done".)

I am 100% mystified what Pres. Bush has done that justifies such confidence in him. Bush is very good about ramming through the tactics that he wants like tax cuts and the war, but his record on achieving his professed noble strategic aims (retention of budget surplus, job growth, establishment of democratic Iraq, transformation of the ME) is not good at all.

I already linked approvingly to Clark's white paper on Iraq. If it weren't for the seriousness of the matter, I would be laughing about the objections that it isn't sufficiently detailed and it isn't a guarantee of success. The Administration is on, by my count, its fourth major plan, without any guarantee of success, and to the extent the previous plans were fleshed out, they relied on expectations that were completely false. The fact that we thought Iraq could produce 12 zillion bbl of oil and because of poor maintenance and sabotage it is only seven is one type of error, and understandable; the belief that an internal resistance movement, not yet visible, loyal to an exile who had never spent a moment of his adult life in Iraq (minus the Kurdish region) would take over the administration of the country including most security responsibilities was not understandable in modern Western terms. It would have to be compared to the something like the Sioux Ghost Dance.

On May 3, the NY Times reported
DATELINE: BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 2 The Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military presence to less than two divisions by the fall, senior allied officials said today.
The on-background official appears from other quotes in the story to be Rumsfeld. He wasn't saying anything about slog back then.

The same incompetent planners. Perverse reasoning that more casualties shows success. Elementary fallacies that terrorist attacks in Baghdad imply fewer elsewhere. Is there anything that would shake your faith?

<Is there any possiblity of a better link color? Not, I hope, a partisan request?!>

I'll look into the link color. And hmmm, I can think of some good questions for Sistani. Might make for an interesting feature if he responds.

Andrew,

Praktike mentions popularity. He doesn't make clear whose opinion he's refering too. I'm aware of the polls, but thanks for the link. He doesn't mention who thinks peacekeeping is unpopular with. The polled? The dem line up? All the beltway players? The iraqis? The soldiers? If its the polls, I'm unconcerned. If it's the Iraqis, the soldiers, the Bush admin, it matters to me.

Clark's whitepaper is all well and good except for the fact that he bases it all on bringing Europe into the mix. And the EU doesn't want to play with us. He also bases his plan on making concessions. He doesn't say Kyoto but he implies it with his reference to "climate change". He also suggests we cede on the ICC issue. I don't think either of these things are wise.

Would the EU change their minds for Clark's benefit? With US concessions on Kyoto and ICC? Possibly. But we'll never have the chance to find that out, as Clark isn't likely to win the nomination.

So, again you seem to be advocating the impossible in a realm unlike the reality we are living in now. As Gabriel said, on which planet?

And if he did win, do we really want to play another round of "debate France" or any other nation, for that matter? I don't think we should. I don't think it is in our best interests to play pandering games with France et al. They aren't honest brokers.

--"The Administration is on, by my count, its fourth major plan, without any guarantee of success, and to the extent the previous plans were fleshed out, they relied on expectations that were completely false."
--

Did you expect a guarantee of success? Would Clark's plan "guarantee success"? Can one plan for every contingency simultaneously? Are you sure you're not expecting too much from mere mortals? Would any of the dem lineup have a better crystal ball than Bush does?

As to the "slog", I'm not sure we are talking about the same things. I'm not refering strictly to military actions but the entire process of creating political structure. Any body who thought this would be a cake walk was wrong. Did any body actually use the term "cake walk" in reference to this whole regime-change process? I'm not sure. Maybe one of the beltway chatterers, but I do a good job of ignoring most of them.

As I've mentioned before, I don't agree with Bush on many domestic issues. But back to the polls for a moment. As I've mentioned before, I don't think Bush is poll driven. This is why I trust him more so than the dem lineup. If peacekeeping is unpopular with the general population, we can't afford to have someone in office who is poll-driven.

You've provided evidence for your case that planning may have been bad, could have been better. I appreciate that.

You didn't answer my other question, and I think it is more serious than looking through the past for ShrubFlubs (you can thank me for this term later. I'm sure they'll love it on your more left leaning haunts).

"And what makes either you [Praktike] or Andrew believe that we will not follow through?"

If there is any evidence to base Marshalls and your supposition that Bush will walk off, I'd like to see it.

L

Andrew,

Our faith is not in Bush, it is in democracy. That faith is based on evidence from Western and Eastern Europe, Japan, and S. Korea.

Incompetent planning by government beaurocrats is another article of faith for conservatives. When we see government mismanagement there is not the same sense of disillusionment that a liberal feels. We are simply more patient about what it takes to transform a nationalized economy and dictatorship into a capitalist democracy. We are also, based on recent evidence, more accepting of the notion of shedding life in the name of liberty. Sorry if all this is consistent with the usual stereotypes and thus treads on a sore spot for so-called liberals.

Massachusetts State Motto:
"Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem" "With the sword, she seeks peace under liberty"

In my mind the recent tragedies in Iraq are separate from the war. This is now police action against thugs who are attempting to regain their turf. We could leave now as victors, but we are staying to transform the ME. "Bring 'em on" means send your troublemakers to us. It's taken a while for us to find the right tactics, but hopefully today's spectacular success signals a shift.

Lunacy, I think that if you look at what Cheney ("we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators, Tim"), Wolfowitz ("Hard to imagine", "in relatively short order"), Garner ("90 days"), Natsios ("1.7 billion") were saying before the war, you'll see that they did think reconstruction would be relatively easy. Bush did not say anything like that, that I can recall, but he certainly didn't step in and say things like, "Hey Rumsfeld, I'm overruling Cheney here--put Warrick on the team, because we need his expertise."

The word "cakewalk" was Ken Adelman of PNAC and the Defense Policy Board, and he was referring to the military conquest, which largely was a cakewalk. However, the strategic goal of the war, which was to create a stable, Democratic Iraq that didn't threaten its neighbors, has not been a cakewalk.

I differ from people who say that Bush invaded because of poll numbers. He clearly invaded because he thought it was the right thing to do.

All I was trying to say above was that if the definition of "boldness" as a President is to do something politically unpopular, then invading Iraq does not meet that test. The overwhelming majority of Americans supported the invasion. Hell, I nearly did for a while. I don't have any poll numbers at my fingertips right now, but clearly Bush's popularity has gone down to about 50% because of the continuing casualties. That suggests to me that the nation-buiding is unpopular, no?

But this is all past; what's important is what we're doing now.

I differ from Andrew in that I think it's too soon to tell (the A.L.-Cordesman position) whether we're winning or losing in Iraq. I tend to be discouraged by news like the horrible events in Mosul (which seem to have been misreported) and the fatwas of Sistani, yet encouraged by news like today's killing of 46 fedayeen. I am worried about our economic policies, because I fear that the "shock therapy" approach to market liberalization has been demonstrated to fail in places like Russia, Bolivia, and Argentina. I am discouraged when I hear reports of Iraqi subcontractors hiring South Asians instead of Iraqis.

I am encouraged by stories about local councils forming and trying to serve their communities; I am discouraged by what looks like a bunch of chumps on the GC. I am encouraged by all the great stories I hear about troops improvising and showing leadership when dealing with Iraqis. I am discouraged that we haven't sent the forces--military or civilian--to help them do their jobs.

By the way, Joe, I sent Sistani a question about Islamic banking, and how he felt about the banking reforms the CPA and the GC had been making. The IMF has done some interesting things with Islamic banking in places like Pakistan, so I think it's possible to have a hybrid system in Iraq--although I'm sure Sistani is going to say that Allah doesn't like interest.

BTW, Lunacy, the worry about the follow-through is based on the troop levels, for the most part.

We aren't saying anything that Bill Kristol, Tom Friedman, and Armed Liberal haven't said already.

But I actually agree that Marshall's position on Sistani is kind of incoherent. My position is that we need to do everything in our power to both create a democracy and prevent an Islamic theocracy from developing.

This will involve playing the different factions against one another just enough to create a balance of power, but not enough to spark a civil war. For me, it should not involved creating an Iraqi strongman, because that's exactly what we said we weren't doing anymore, and because history has shown that it doesn't lead anywhere, with the lone exception of Attaturk.

My list of who's naughty and who's nice shows Bush spending the Christmas holiday at a well protected family gathering in the US. The terrorists who might see the thanksgiving visit as a 'bring it on' style challenge for the Christmas meal should kindly refrain from attacking random mess tents in the hopes of bagging the US CinC. He won't be there.

It was primary, first and foremost for the troops. In that sense it was a great thing to do for them.

Secondly, it is good politics, it does play well with the folks you really support the troops and their mission in Iraq. The left can barely support the troops and in no way support their mission, which as I understand, a lot of them see as necessary.

Third, it did play to the Iraqi people. They found out about it, via local and international news. I have been reading some of the Iraqi blogs and they were stunned, surprised and hopeful about the future. The biggest fear they have is that Saddam will come back, and they fear that if Bush loses next year, the new president will pack up, leave and let Saddam return to power. They know Bush will stay, till Saddam is captured or dead. And going to Baghdad, he said just that.

Like a lot of things in life, there are a lot of reasons for doing a particular thing.

It was primary, first, and foremost for the president.

I'm not left, but I am suspicious of the motives of any politician, Bush included. How much more is this than the bare minimum? He doesn't get an 'F', but he doesn't get an 'A' yet either. If it's about the troops, Bush, or Cheney, could be there for Christmas, but somehow I doubt it.

The more we improve the security so Bush can visit and Wolfowitz can sleep the night in a hotel, the more I'll trust that we are improving the security for the Iraqis.

The pessimist in me recognizes that it is good that the glass is not empty, but the glass isn't full either.

Ben, do you think English-speaking bloggers are a representative sample of Iraqi opinion?

Hmm, Turns out that the turkey Bush was holding was a poser. The turkey from the steam trays was for eating, the photographed turkey was for display, and Bush picked it up for the image. Mission Accomplished? GoogleNews

The President was also behind the steam tables serving food. Damn, dig deep to find something to criticize.

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