April 10, 2008

The Senate hearing on Iraq.

Summarized.

64 comments:

Larry J said...

It seems the biggest difference between the Democrats and the Cub Scouts is that the Cub Scouts have adult leadership.

Sloanasaurus said...

It is amazing to see that just 7 months ago both Obama and Clinton basically wanted to surrender in Iraq without even trying to obtain victory through the surge. Now it is clear that the surge worked and that we will win.

Pogo said...

In which the Senate proves Cicero's maxim "Politicians are not born; they are excreted."

Meade said...

Excreted like rancid cream puffs?

vet66 said...

In the twisted logic of Hillary and Bill Clinton, they can always be correct by stating either: "I was for it before I was against it," or "I was against it before I was for it!"

This is moral excretion (Apologies to Pogo) from so-called "adults" who should know better.

MadisonMan said...

Now it is clear that the surge worked and that we will win.

You are premature. The surge has helped. To say it has worked and that we will win is a little optimistic.

If the surge worked as you say, we could leave.

Sloanasaurus said...

If the surge worked as you say, we could leave.

Well, not really. You can win and then squander your victory.

We won World War II. But a quick departure from Germany and Japan, would have made the victory hollow. But, maybe I am wrong. Maybe Obama would have exited out of Japan and Germany right after the war ended to save a few bucks for more food stamp programs.

Exiting the scene after World War I is problably one of the biggest policy blunders of all time. The direct result was World War II. After World War II we were smart not to make the same mistake. Hey, but I could be wrong, maybe Obama has a different angle on it or maybe he hasn't read any history on World War I, people seem to ignore that boring stuff these days.

Freder Frederson said...

Now it is clear that the surge worked and that we will win.

You talk about "winning" Sloan, but you never can be pinned down on what winning means.

Did you even listen to what Patraeus said? "no corners have been turned, there is no light at the end of the tunnel".

As I have repeated over and over again, the President, in his speech announcing the surge, set specific goals for what the surge was meant to achieve. Using those--the President's own--goals as a benchmark, the surge has been an abject failure.

I am constantly accused of moving the goalposts. This has been the greatest example of goalpost moving ever. Well, not really, the entire war in Iraq has never had any clearly stated goals--the rationale for it changes regularly. Poor McCain can't even keep the Shiites and the Sunnis straight and which theocracy supports which.

It must be nice to completely ignore what happened in Basra, where Sadr beat Maliki's forces and forced him to negotiate a cease-fire.

Was it yesterday that some idiot claimed that up to 30% of the U.S. forces in WWII deserted? Because that is what happened in Basra. And I think someone claimed that the Iraqi Army has similar desertion rates to the U.S. Army in WWII. What a jerk!

Freder Frederson said...

Exiting the scene after World War I is problably one of the biggest policy blunders of all time. The direct result was World War II.

You really don't know the first thing about European or American history, do you?

Invisible Man said...

We won World War II. But a quick departure from Germany and Japan, would have made the victory hollow.

The major difference between WWII and Iraq is that some type of realistic "victory" was actually achieved. Reducing violence for a time period isn't the same as actually winning. Israel has reduced violence against the Palestinians over 10x for extended periods, and look what good its done them. And as the last battles have shown, even your reduction in violence is probably due more to the politics on the "enemy's" side than any establishment of dominance by the "surge".

These comparisons to WWII don't really help your arguments, but I'm guessing that GWB has used it so often, and in such a highly confused fashion, that its now just conditioning.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

That Senator Bayh sure is dreamy. I wonder where Hillary's been hiding him?

Sloanasaurus said...

Reducing violence for a time period isn't the same as actually winning.

It can be done by eliminating strategically the greatest instigators of the violence - that being Al Qaeda in Iraq and the organized insurgency. We can achieve this and then turn the entire country over to the Iraqi army even if continued pockets of violence contine.

John Stodder said...

Since, unlike Japan or Germany, the forces we are fighting in Iraq will never negotiate a surrender, the petulant "are we there yets" of the war's opponents are inapt.

The biggest of Bush's many mistakes earlier in this war was his administration's crazy determination to declare victory at various points, all of them absurdly premature.

The reality is, a war like this will fade away, not end. We will see a continued reduction in violence, increased security, reconciliation and stability, and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems appear in response to opportunities that we can prepare for but not plan for. As all that unfolds, we'll be able to draw down our troop levels, but we have to be mature enough to recognize the truth that commentators like James Fallows observed years ago: The US will be involved in Iraq for a long time.

The Democrats' toe-tapping insistence on specific timetables are really, really dumb. If they'd wanted to avoid this situation, they should have coalesced against the war back in 2002. They would have been wrong, but at that point we could have stepped away from the brink with perhaps manageable consequences. But having failed to exercise the the most minimal courage of their "convictions" in 2002, they really have no right to be so impatient now. And they look like hell.

Sloanasaurus said...

Poor McCain can't even keep the Shiites and the Sunnis straight and which theocracy supports which.

This is truly Obama-esque.

Who knows more about Sunnis and Shia? Freder who reads blogs on the internet, a reporter that follows the McCain campaign around to towns in Pennsylvania and asks him silly questions, or John McCain who has been to Iraq a dozen times in the last few years.

rhhardin said...

Who is the audience for this crap, is my reaction.

Freder Frederson said...

But having failed to exercise the the most minimal courage of their "convictions" in 2002, they really have no right to be so impatient now.

Of course we have the right to be impatient, because we were promised a maximum of a six month war with immediate tranistion to a Jeffersonian Democracy where the Iraqis would pay for their own reconstruction and we would be greeted with flowers and chocolate. (Not a half trillion dollar, five year and counting commitment with no end in site)

Not only that, we knew "exactly" where the vast stockpiles of WMDs were and there was "no doubt" that Saddam had restarted his WMD manufacture, biological weapons and nuclear weapons program which would demonstrate that Saddam was an immediate threat to the U.S.

Oh yeah, and Bill Kristol assured us that it was silly to think that the Shiites and the Sunnis couldn't get along. Only idiots would think that.

What a bunch of morons. I didn't believe it then. What is happening now is exactly what I predicted would happen.

Freder Frederson said...

or John McCain who has been to Iraq a dozen times in the last few years.

For some unknown reason, me apparently.

Sloanasaurus said...

It must be nice to completely ignore what happened in Basra, where Sadr beat Maliki's forces and forced him to negotiate a cease-fire.

We know now that this is not true. Nice Obama try at distorting the truth.

Was it yesterday that some idiot claimed that up to 30% of the U.S. forces in WWII deserted? Because that is what happened in Basra. And I think someone claimed that the Iraqi Army has similar desertion rates to the U.S. Army in WWII. What a jerk!

The problem with the NY Times article is that they used the term "desertion" to describe units that broke. According to the article 1000 "deserted" amounting to 2.5% of the force. The other 30,000 Iraqi troops stayed and retook the port of Basra among other things.

There were plenty of times in WWII where entire companies of US Soldiers broke and turned tail. During Kasserine Pass and the Battle of the Bulge, entire divisions broke and ran.

Sloanasaurus said...

Oh yeah, and Bill Kristol assured us that it was silly to think that the Shiites and the Sunnis couldn't get along. Only idiots would think that.

It is silly to think that. Why would you think they couldn't?

Simon said...

I have to agree with MM, Sloan, at least in part. It's clear that the surge has worked in the sense that it has created the space for the politicians to sort things out. And it's clear that arguing that the surge has failed because said political reconciliation is slow to come (or not happening at all) is untenable. But it's not at all clear that we will win (to me, at least). Optimism is good, but I think you overreach. I think we'll prevail if we keep at it, but I think it's overly optimistic to hope for such by next January, whereupon there is a non-discountable chance that whatever our chances might have been, the elections will produce failure and dolchsto├člegende. And you can blame Bush for that - he has shown himself incapable of managing the war and incapable of carrying the American people with him in terms of support for the war, and in a democracy (or even a federal republic with democratic characteristics), you can only do that for so long before the people reassert themselves.

Freder Frederson said...

We know now that this is not true.

Describe the "truth" as you know it. As for desertions, entire units of Iraqi police and some Army units from the Basra area switched sides early in the battle (up to 30% of the initial force). There were very few cases in WWII of American units donning Wehrmacht uniforms and fighting for the Germans. Extra units had to be brought in.

After a week of hard fighting, government forces controlled only a 1/4 of the city and the Iranians brokered a ceasefire (the talks were held in Iran) between Sadr and the government. You can paint it any way you want, but it is patently dishonest to claim that it was anything but a crushing defeat for Maliki--who promised to root out the criminals in Basra.

Freder Frederson said...

And it's clear that arguing that the surge has failed because said political reconciliation is slow to come (or not happening at all) is untenable.

Why is it untenable to judge the success of the surge on the standards set by its architects?

John Stodder said...

Of course we have the right to be impatient, because we were promised a maximum of a six month war with immediate tranistion to a Jeffersonian Democracy where the Iraqis would...

You promised! (Sniff) You so promised!

Please. This is the politics of childishness. First of all, no such thing was "promised." Secondly, are you suggesting the Democrats based their vote on this expectation? If so, they were ignoring the intellectuals and experts in their own party, who forecast a long engagement (hence my citation of Fallows' piece in Atlantic, which ran before the war). This is the politics of childishness.

No war goes like it's supposed to. When people like you can't hear them, thoughtful leaders like Obama and Clinton recognize this. Hence Samantha Power's comments about Obama's "promise" to withdraw all troops in 16 months: "Best-case scenario." A truthful statement that helped get her fired. You people would rather hear the spin than the truth, then whine and hold your breath til you turn blue when the truth overcomes the spin.

Sloanasaurus said...

but it is patently dishonest to claim that it was anything but a crushing defeat for Maliki--who promised to root out the criminals in Basra.

Whatever. There is no point to arguing with you about something neither you or I really know about. We shall see what happens there in the future. my bets are on Malaki.

AllenS said...

oooooooooo

I see Admiral Freder is here to talk military.

Sloanasaurus said...

entire units of Iraqi police and some Army units from the Basra area switched sides early in the battle (up to 30% of the initial force).

I have not seen this statistic anywhere. But I am curious as to what constitutes the "inititial force?"

MadisonMan said...

Who is the audience for this crap, is my reaction.

That's a very interesting question. I think political theater is staged mostly for campaign contributors.

knoxwhirled said...

You people would rather hear the spin than the truth, then whine and hold your breath til you turn blue when the truth overcomes the spin.

wow, well said

Freder Frederson said...

You people would rather hear the spin than the truth, then whine and hold your breath til you turn blue when the truth overcomes the spin.

"you people"?! Give me a freaking break. All the right has done is spin this war from day one. First selling it as a costless, quick, painless adventure. Then continuing to do so for five long years.

Even now, you are trying to spin the clear words of GEN Patraeus, who concedes we haven't turned any corners and don't yet see the light at the end of the tunnel, into words of victory.

And when I try to judge the success or failure of the surge on the goals that the President himself set for it, Simon says that is "untenable".

Just ignore (no don't ignore it, forget that he ever said it) what the President actually said, he didn't mean it.

TMink said...

John Stodder makes some really good points.

The war against terrorism is like the fight against crime. You cannot eliminate either, but you can and should hold them in check. We do not (well, those of us who are capable of rational thought do not) berate our police by asking them when they will eliminate crime. We look for progress and the vector of crime growth as a measure of where we stand.

This is different from saying that we should stay in Iraq for eternity! We need to stay there until the legally constituted government is invested in and capable of keeping the Islamofascists from having free reign on their own.

This discussion reminds me of the "War on Poverty" in that many of the same caveats apply. Eliminating poverty is a foolish goal that says more about the people that are naive enough to hold it than it does the possibility of achieving it. But we should indeed make poverty less attractive while removing barriers to success so that poverty is in relative decline.

Trey

peter hoh said...

That Senator Bayh sure is dreamy.

I was thinking the same thing about Lindsey Graham.

Any of you pro-war types want to argue the idea that Iran has gained influence over Iraq (and in the region) over the past 5 years?

Freder Frederson said...

We do not (well, those of us who are capable of rational thought do not) berate our police by asking them when they will eliminate crime.

But we could and should berate our police if they invaded an almost crime free city (because they thought the government of that city was corrupt and knew it had huge stockpiles of drugs and weapons, intelligence that turned out to be completely bogus). Threw out the government, destroyed the infrastructure, and then when chaos ensued and crime rates soared, claimed: "Oh, this was the plan all along, we meant to do this. We actually took over this city to draw all the criminals from other cities here so we could fight them here rather than in our own city. And as proof that their brilliant plan is working, they say that there hasn't been a mass murder in their city since they invaded."

former law student said...

voinovich was the only one who was talking sense:

1. There are no goals
2. There is no timeline
3. (1) and (2) are intolerable.

John Stodder said...

Freder,

Bush's conduct of the war, especially the Bremer phase, is indefensible. But get over it! It's 2008, not 2003. Some good came out of it, and much good is coming out of the phase we're in now.

A historic arc such as Iraq's also applies to the Civil War and WWII, our "good wars." It should only surprise the childlike among us that, what ho!, war in Iraq would be different, just because they thought they were promised a predictable outcome.

Freder Frederson said...

1. There are no goals
2. There is no timeline


Oh, there are goals and timelines. Admitting them however would necessitate the President revealing his selfishness and narcisscism.

The goal is and always has been, since it turned out Rumsfeld's and Wolfowitz's plan of a short war was doomed, was to make it to Jan 20, 2009 without Iraq completely falling apart and then let the next president figure out what to do.

Bush doesn't care what happens after he leaves office. Not his job anymore. He just hopes "history" doesn't blame the debacle on him.

Sloanasaurus said...

The war against terrorism is like the fight against crime. You cannot eliminate either, but you can and should hold them in check.

I agree, you can't eliminate terrorism. However, we can defeat the radical islamic movement as a strategic threat that uses terror as their main weapon. Just as you can take out a mob organzation that uses crime. The more Al Qaeda loses, the more discredited the movement becomes and the less likely they will be able to recruit followers or copycats.

People claim they are doing better than before because of some recent gains in Afghanistan/Pakistan, yet there are no attacks to speak of outside of Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan. Therefore, worldwide opinion of potential jihadists do not see gains in Afghanistan as success. If Al Qaeda was doing so well, world wide attacks would be a lot more common. The evidence (no attacks) says they are doing very poorly.

If we lost in Iraq to Al Qaeda, it would be a devestating loss that would refill the coffers of al qaeda both with money and with popularity. Right now they are at their most unpopular ever. This is why a total defeat in Iraq will be the nail in the coffin for them and will end Al Qaeda as strategic threat forever.

The great thing about fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq rather than Afghanistan or somewhere else is that we have 150,000 Iraqi soldiers fighting Al Qaeda with us, and unlike some other countries, the Iraqis fight.

Sloanasaurus said...

A historic arc such as Iraq's also applies to the Civil War and WWII, our "good wars."

True. If FDR would have said fighting Germany would cost us 300,000 dead and 100% GDP, public opinion would have been totally against fighting Germany at all. Freder would have been the first one out to picket the White House.

Freder Frederson said...

True. If FDR would have said fighting Germany would cost us 300,000 dead and 100% GDP, public opinion would have been totally against fighting Germany at all.

Again, your ignorance of history is astounding. Where is your evidence that the cost of WWII was held from the American people or that we (each and every one of the citizens of this country) didn't have to make significant sacrifices to win that war.

WWII was financed with borrowed money and extremely high marginal income tax rates, along with wage freezes. More than half of the money borrowed to fund the war came directly from the American people in the form of War Bonds. For the first time ever, this country had a truly universal draft.

When has Bush ever demanded the least bit of sacrifice from the American people for this war? Never! In fact he has cut taxes and just urged people to act as though nothing is happening.

Freder Frederson said...

True. If FDR would have said fighting Germany would cost us 300,000 dead and 100% GDP, public opinion would have been totally against fighting Germany at all.

Oh and btw, we really didn't have a choice about going to war with Germany. They declared war on us.

Freder Frederson said...

yet there are no attacks to speak of outside of Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Except for London, Madrid, Bali . . .

peter hoh said...

John Stodder wrote:
Bush's conduct of the war, especially the Bremer phase, is indefensible. But get over it! It's 2008, not 2003. Some good came out of it, and much good is coming out of the phase we're in now.

A historic arc such as Iraq's also applies to the Civil War and WWII, our "good wars." It should only surprise the childlike among us that, what ho!, war in Iraq would be different, just because they thought they were promised a predictable outcome.


Some good came out of the Bremer phase? I'm scratching my head over that one.

Shouldn't the set of people who thought there would be a predictable outcome include the likes of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and the rest of the architects of the "indefensible" Bremer phase?

Freder Frederson said...

Some good came out of it, and much good is coming out of the phase we're in now.

But the point I have been trying to make (which Simon claims is untenable) is that by the very goals the President set for the surge, it has not succeeded.

So if we are not allowed to use the President's own goals to judge the success of the surge, then how do we judge success? Reducing violence was not the purpose of the surge--that was a given according to the administration. The purpose of the surge was to allow the Iraqis to achieve political progress. They have not done that.

Fen said...

The war against terrorism is like the fight against crime. You cannot eliminate either, but you can and should hold them in check.

Wrong.

There are still communists, but the Soviet Union will no longer threaten Western interests in pursuit of their empire.

Of course you can't eliminate all terrorists. But what you can do is overthrow rogue nation states that support them finacially and militarily. Of immediate importance is breaking up the triangle of 1) rogue states that 2) support terrorists orgs and 3) pursue WMD development for anonymous proxy attacks against the West.

Its irresponsible and dangerous to ignore that.

peter hoh said...

FLS: Yes, Voinovich was making sense. I was surprised to find out that he is not up for reelection this fall.

Sloanasaurus said...

Oh and btw, we really didn't have a choice about going to war with Germany. They declared war on us.

And why do you think that happend? We could have avoided a war with Germany if we wanted to.

John Stodder said...

When has Bush ever demanded the least bit of sacrifice from the American people for this war? Never! In fact he has cut taxes and just urged people to act as though nothing is happening.

No one who makes this argument ever explains specifically what sacrifices Bush should've asked for but didn't. Because I'm certain the American people would have done anything asked of them to aid the war effort.

Is it just a nostalgia thing? Hey if you want to save scrap metal and bacon grease, no one's stopping you.

Or, is it your view that public opinion would turn against the war if sacrifice was demanded? Kind of like Charlie Rangel's call for a draft. Wishful thinking.

Sloanasaurus said...

Some good came out of the Bremer phase? I'm scratching my head over that one.

Some things we don't know. For example, was disbanding Saddam's army the right thing to do? I think the jury is still out on that one.

Sloanasaurus said...

The purpose of the surge was to allow the Iraqis to achieve political progress. They have not done that.

You don't call solidarity by the Malaki government with the other main ethnic leaders in Parliament to go to war with Sadr political progress? What else whould you call it then?

Fen said...

Sloan, any progress that justifies the surge is redefined as ZERO by the Left. They could honestly argue that not enough progress has been made, but they're not really interested in the reality, just the revisionism.

peter hoh said...

they're not really interested in the reality, just the revisionism

True of both sides.

Freder Frederson said...

No one who makes this argument ever explains specifically what sacrifices Bush should've asked for but didn't.

Simply not true. The one sacrifice I advocated from Sept 12 when it was obvious that part of the cause of this whole debacle was our addiction to oil was a sharp (at least a dollar, maybe even two) increase in the federal gas tax to fund an Appollo type effort to change our transportation habits and develop alternative fuel sources. It would have also helped pay for the war in Afghanistan. Of course, the war in Iraq was completely unnecessary so that is kind of a moot point.

Just think of it, gas would cost the same as it does today, but instead of the money ending up in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Venezuala and Iran, it would have stayed in this country and helped us break our sick dependence on the irretreviably corrupt governments of the oil states.

John Stodder said...

Some good came out of the Bremer phase? I'm scratching my head over that one.

Capturing Hussein and putting him on trial?

But actually, I wasn't referring to the Bremer phase per se, but the entire pre-Petraeus phase, which I generally think was poorly managed. But much was accomplished.

Freder Frederson said...

They could honestly argue that not enough progress has been made, but they're not really interested in the reality

Oh that's rich. Sloan started out this thread claiming "it is clear that the surge worked and that we will win."

Apparently, he doesn't even bother to listen to what Patraeus said.

Freder Frederson said...

You don't call solidarity by the Malaki government with the other main ethnic leaders in Parliament to go to war with Sadr political progress?

Uhh, no. Sadr's allies withdrew from the government months ago. Everybody left in the central government hates him for one reason or another.

Sloanasaurus said...

Oh and btw, we really didn't have a choice about going to war with Germany. They declared war on us.

And why do you think that happend? We could have avoided a war with Germany if we wanted to.

Bruce Hayden said...

I find it interesting that Freder, citing imaginary facts, can call the Surge a failure, ignoring the drastically reduced death rates esp. of civilians, but also of Iraqi and U.S. military. And, also of the many parts of Iraq that were very dangerous a year ago, and are now safer than some U.S. cities today. But, of course, if you limit yourself to the view from within the Green Zone and from former Baathist sources, then, yes, progress has not been as great.

The goal remains as it has been, for the Iraqis to be able to handle their own security. Are all units ready now? No, as was discovered in Basra. But many more units stood up and fought and fought well than didn't.

The political progress metric has really always come from the left, for the simple reason that that is where there has been the least progress. But progress there has been. For one thing, the Sunni Arabs have come around and are now trying to participate in the government.

But it is always interesting getting Freder back. He has an amazing ability to find and cite bogus facts that initially usually sound credible.

Bruce Hayden said...

Oh that's rich. Sloan started out this thread claiming "it is clear that the surge worked and that we will win."

And Freder essentially claimed that it has failed. It has worked. The problem is that we still might not win, if those like Freder get their way, and squander our progress, as they did in Vietnam.

chickenlittle said...

FF said: "You really don't know the first thing about European or American history, do you?"

You're right- we left Hemingway in Paris after WWI.

The video makes Obama look like the foreign policy lightweight he is- thank you TPM!

Original Mike said...

... to fund an Appollo type effort to change our transportation habits and develop alternative fuel sources.

Good Lord! The man who demonstrated an utter lack of understanding of freshman physics is now a world class engineer. (And BTW, it's Apollo).

Freder Frederson said...

The political progress metric has really always come from the left,

I didn't realize you considered President Bush part of "the left".

Go back and read his speech announcing the surge. It wasn't the left who set the political progress metric.

Freder Frederson said...

Oh here is that famous leftist George W Bush, establishing the political progress metric:

"A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November [2007]. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year [2007]. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution."

Richard Dolan said...

Looking forward, what are the alternatives to remaining in Iraq for the foreseeable future? From Pakistan to Morocco, the nation-states of the Muslim world are either dominated by fundamentalists or threatened by those forces. As Kissinger wrote the other day, the borders of most of those states are artificial, having been drawn by outside powers for their own reasons without regard to ethnic or linguistic divisions. Instability is an inherent, and probably long term, condition of many of the Muslim nation states. Yet those countries sit on an essential resource, without which the industrialized countries cannot survive economically; some already have, and others will soon have, nuclear weapons; and that instability will present a continuing, long term threat to the US, Europe and Israel.

Iraq is in the middle of the most volatile, and unfortunately the most important sector, of that region. So what would be the impact on pulling out of Iraq, either immediately as some want, or pursuant to some fixed timetable? It's hard to imagine anything positive. If, as Petraeus said, the situation on the ground is fragile and reversible (no one seems to disagree with him on that), an American pull-out is bound to increase the fragility, and increase the chances that the reverses the General was warning about will occur. The main "reversal" that could come about is that Iraq would disintegrate.

An American pull-out would also provide a practical demonstration of how to push the Americans out of the region -- just make it costly enough and last long enough that the Americans will get "fed up," to borrow Sen. Voinovich's phrase. After all, if Iraq is not important enough to warrant a continued US commitment after the investment of blood, treasure and prestige at this stage, given its importance in a critical region, why should any other country in the same region think it would be treated differently by the Americans? The level of American "frustration" would become the determinant of American policy, rather than some rational foreign policy goal based on the interests of America and its allies.

It may well be that there is some better policy than that currently guiding American actions in Iraq and the region generally. But before we adopt any such new and different policy, it would be essential to ask how it would impact on those issues. Obama and others prefer to offer empty assurances ("I will negotiate with the Iranians directly") or foolish proposals ("I will invade Pakistan and hunt down OBL") that no one takes seriously. Apart from such posturing, I think Obama and those who agree with his pull-out policy are really saying that the region is neither so dangerous nor so fragile as Petraeus and others suggest, and that some level of American disengagement is possible without substantially increasing the risks to the US and its allies.

Having no crystal ball, I can't say that their guess as to how future events will unfold is wrong. But they are urging the US to base its policy on a tremendous gamble, and the stakes are very high. It is all well and good to wish for an "endpoint" so that we can be free of the burdens of a troublesome region. But that strikes me as a self-defeating policy, one that invites a larger and even less manageable problem. I would not take that gamble.

former law student said...

Yet those countries sit on an essential resource, without which the industrialized countries cannot survive economically; some already have, and others will soon have, nuclear weapons; and that instability will present a continuing, long term threat to the US, Europe and Israel.

1. I would have said "Japan," not Israel.
2. If the threat is real, why are we doing 95% of the sacrifice? The dollar has dropped so much that Europeans are lighting their Gauloises with them, as they push past me in our National Parks. The "Coalition of the Willing" has essentially bailed out.
3. On second thought, maybe it is all about Israel. Iraq becomes our forward base from which we can protect the-only-democracy-in-the-Middle-East-and our-strongest-ally-and-best-friend, or toditmeaosaabf, for short.

Bob said...

Freder - "Was it yesterday that some idiot claimed that up to 30% of the U.S. forces in WWII deserted? Because that is what happened in Basra. And I think someone claimed that the Iraqi Army has similar desertion rates to the U.S. Army in WWII. What a jerk!"

Well I guess I'm that jerk and it would help if you had some grasp on real facts. First, I didn't suggest a desertion rate of 30%. Army desertion rates in the European Theater did come pretty damm close to the Iraqi experience in Basra (about 1,000 out of 17,000 or 5.8%). Its not often discussed because back then we censored our press. Read The Boy's Crusade by Paul Fussell. Ike had one Private Slovack shot by firing squad when desertions got so bad in winter of 1944. Some units resolved their desertion problems by shooting fleeing soldiers. But Army didn't want that publicized because it was felt it was bad for morale. Did Americans don German uniforms - No. Instead GI's simply hid out in rear areas.

This is not a new US problem. During the Civil War Desertion rates for both Union and Confederate armies were probably over 30%. Truth is desertion rates are always higher when you fight near your home because you have some place to run to. Deserters in both armies were executed to reduce the problem. And both armies employed roving patrols to round up deserters. Washington had several Continental troops executed for desertion.

One can mention truthfully if sarcastically that the Iraqi desertion rates in Basra represent a remarkable Iraqi improvement as compared to their Army's performance in Desert Storm I or II.