Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Open Post on "Victory In Iraq"

The White House has laid out its Strategy for Victory in Iraq, whose overview may be viewed by following the link. One of the interesting things about the debate over Iraq is that the emotional reaction to President Bush's policies has driven some of his opponents to effectively advocate defeat in Iraq, though some realize that it must be given the appearance of victory. (See the Win Without War coalition website) That's not to say that some of his critics throughout the political spectrum are not equally committed to genuine victory, though they may have deeply felt criticisms over the way the war has been run to date.

The military situation in Iraq has certain attributes -- casualty rates, areas controlled, enemy weapons seized, enemy casualties inflicted, Iraqi Army units deployed, etc -- which are fairly objective. The struggle now is to take those attributes and paint them with either the colors of defeat or victory. Consider the question of troop withdrawals. The withdrawal of US combat units and their replacement with Iraqi forces has been a goal of OIF from the beginning. Yet it will be depicted as a 'failure' or a 'success' according to the political standpoint of the narrator. Which is it then? Which is it really? That's the subject which I hope readers will express their opinions on. One point of view, which I think is corrupt, is that defeat or victory is entirely a matter of perception. That is, that victory or defeat can be disconnected from the reality on the ground. According to that school of thought reality is fundamentally created by news coverage. I don't think that's right. But I may be wrong.

131 Comments:

Blogger wretchard said...

I feel pretty strongly about the issue of perception management because a number of 'truths' have been established by constant repetition. One of them is that Iraq is somehow a dirty war, replete with torture chambers and other human rights abuses. While war is always dirty, the war in Iraq has almost certainly been waged to a far higher standard than World War 2, the "Good War". Other 'truths' come to mind. Iraq is a battlefield failure, a war for oil, etc.

In each of these cases there is a certain element of truth. It is undeniable that certain human rights abuses have occurred in Iraq; that certain battlefield failures have likewise happened; that the geopolitics of oil play a role in Middle Eastern policy. But the real accomplishment of certain publicists has been to enlarge these elements out of all proportion so that nothing else remains.

11/30/2005 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

Is victory achieved by making Iraq free?

Let us suppose that by a magical stroke of luck Iraq was turned immediately into a free society—as free as Israel is today. What would happen? How would its neighbours react? Would they view their freed Arab neighbours different than their free Jewish? Or would they also consider this a lethal aggression on the ummah (as Israel is considered today) and act accordingly? Would Iraq, like Israel, suffer border incursions by Iranian-funded Hezbollah and continue to be hit by suicide attacks in its streets? I don't see how the existence of a free Iraq would dispose its neighbours more kindly to the ideals of peace and liberty. Israel is a free nation today and has had no success during its 57-year old existence to influence its neighbours towards democracy or freedom. To the contrary, it has suffered countless aggressions and has been the target of numerous (regrettably successful) smear campaigns during its whole existence.

I don't think a free, stable Iraq in itself will influence its neighbours to gravitate to freedom and secularism.

11/30/2005 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Westhawk said...

Wretchard, thank you for bringing up a very important topic. We have written about this subject numerous times, most lately with

Talking like McCain, doing like Kerry.

It will take the world ten years to know how America's venture in Iraq turned out. That will be how long it takes for all of the normal realities of regular life to wash away the posturing and spinning of today's politicians and pundits.

The problem for the Bush administration, and the larger political class for that matter, is that even as the U.S. gradually and successfully (?) turns over security responsibility to the Iraqis, there will still be sufficient newsworthy video mayhem to supply the skeptics with "proof" that the war was a failure. The U.S. administration and the military will plead that the orderly withdrawal is a victory parade, not a rout. But they will have to redouble their information war op-tempo in order to make sure observers believe that.

And it is crucial that observers do believe that it is a victory parade, otherwise American credibility in future crises will be questioned.

Westhawk

11/30/2005 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Of course we've won.
By any standard of measure. Even if we were to withdraw as rapidly as possible, which we will not, aQ and mini Z could not take over Iraq. They could not establish mini Calphates within Iraq cities. The Iraqis won't allow it. We have come quite a ways since Fallujah and 2004.
They will hold their elections in two weeks, over 65% of those eligible will vote, success by any definition.
The Sunni should swing into the Federal system with the December election, as promises of payoffs, jobs and eventual US withdrawal, after spending even more cash wins over the tribal elders.
As Mr Rumsfeld and the Military Brass said early, but not often, the "suiciders" are squat, militarily. They can run wild for a while, but when the Jordanians and Iraqis work together to shut the "criminal" element down, they'll eventually go DOWN.
There just are not that many of them, that without Sunni support, they'll last for long, if active.

If Mr Bush loves the photo op as much as I think he does, just wait for him to visit the Green Zone in January '06. That will be a historical image that could not be revised.

Victory's light has been seen for over a year, you just had to know where to look.

11/30/2005 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Well put, Wretchard.

The quibbling over whether some are calling for an 'immediate' withdrawal or not is an argumentative cul de sac.

The importance difference is between those who think withdrawal should take place (whatever the timetable) because we have failed or because the cause is lost (Murtha's position), and those who think withdrawal should take place when we have stood up an Iraqi government and itsd ability to defend itself.

Also missing is something Bush alluded to today with his reference to NATO troop preparedness: How many of the nations in which the U.S. garrisons troops (or has alliances) are capable of defending themselves without U.S. backup?

11/30/2005 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

radical
Just look to Lebanon to see the start of a shift in regional thinking.
Then look at the last few days, where Hezbollah has been striking Israel along the border. Largest artillery and rocket attacks in years. All in an effort to reformat the matrix, back to the Crusaders & Zionists. Didn't work for the terrorists in Jordan, Lebanon is now up for grabs, it was not 2 years ago.

The War is won in Iraq, the Peace is in hand. The Region is in turmoil, with a new strong horse pulling the war wagon.
The people of the middle east will follow the strong horse, Osama is right about that.


Why not Osama, now, and be done?

11/30/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

desert rat:

Why not Iran, and quicker, please?

Iran Nuclear Race Reaches Point of No Return

11/30/2005 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

What is "Reality" Department:

via Hugh Hewitt

And, via Left Coaster, I find that Jeffrey Feldman at Daily Kos and I had the same reaction to official Democratic response to the speech:
According to John Kerry
, the problem with the President's
"National Strategy for Victory in Iraq"

was that it made the claim that the U.S. military belonged to the President's policy and not to the American people (hang on, here, it's hard to explain Kerry's arguments).
He then went on to explain that Democrats are not calling for a time table for leaving Iraq, but were instead calling for a time table for success in Iraq which would allow for the U.S. military to leave (See the difference? Yeah...me neither).

---
OT,
USMC_Vet is now posting at Threats Watch dot com along with Bill Roggio and Marvin Hutchens.

11/30/2005 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

radical
A harder nut to crack, is Iran.

Where is Shah Jr now a days?
Government in Exile and all that.

Iean is the real reason 100,000+ plus troops will still be in Iraq in December '06. The situation in Iraq does not call for the US Force Structure that is staying behind. The Regional needs, however, are different, indeed.

Watch for the status of the four hundred Saddam era T-72's that can be refitted. The Irais have already taken delivery of the 70 plus tanks from Hungary.

450 T-72's is a formidable force, one to be reckoned with, Regionally.

It may not be US troops garissoning Iranian oil fields, after all.

11/30/2005 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Doug,

Regarding the "timetable for success in Iraq..." Beyond simply saying, "We're done here" and leaving, did Kerry happen to offer a Democratic definition of success?

11/30/2005 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Fred K said...

A difficult question to answer: what is the definition of "winning" in Iraq.

I would start with defining Iraq as a battlefield. There were many battles in WWI that were won but the war raged on. The salient point being that there may not be an end to hostilities in and around Iraq even though the battle to liberate Iraq is clearly a fate acompli. Shades of "end of major combat operations".

However, we can measure several important accomplishments that demonstrate that the battle for Iraqi Freedom has succeeded.
* A standing and functioning democratic gov't that controls its territory and resources such that they are not used by terrorists, dictators or other persons to distablize western civilization.
* A list of terrorist casualties
* A key new ally in the region and culture

I believe this definition is also true in reverse; if there is NOT a functioning gov't controling its territory then we have failed to reach our objective.

Note that having troops in or out of Iraq does not figure in this definition. We still have troops in Japan and Germany as well as Kosovo.

My Blog

11/30/2005 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Doug:
Kerry has been as ambivalent about the prosecution of the war as the entire Democratic party on everything from soup to nuts. They don’t really stand for anything, merely the party of opposition. Set a standard, remain consistent, they will find fault. It’s what they do.

Wretchard:
I remember the eve of the “Shock & Awe” bombings, visiting my brother & his family in FL. My first reaction was, “It will be interesting to see if those people can embrace political change”. After all they’ve been through, it must seem like a new life to participate in the birth of their new nation – evidence, the two recent elections.

I agree with others that it will take time to assess. We could leave on what seems like a logical time table with what looks like a completed mission only to have the whole thing blow up shortly after we leave.
The ME continues to be a dangerous place and will be so in spite of whether we see our brief foray there a success, a failure or anything between.
My hopes and prayers are with the Iraqis.

11/30/2005 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"I was for withdrawal in defeat,

But that was before,

I was for a time table for success in Iraq which would allow for the U.S. military to leave."

11/30/2005 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

sirius sir,
Are you Serious?
;-)

11/30/2005 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I'm with 'Rat on the regional needs requiring the US Force Structure staying behind.
(And I'd put my bets on the Iraqis over the Saudis, as have we.)

11/30/2005 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Aetius said...

The issue in the Mideast is not one country it was and is 4 countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, & Saudi Arabia.
We have already won in Iraq. The Sunni engagement in the constitutional election was the marker. The continued transition of Sunni Sheiks supports this factually.
For the future, the situation goes very bad if Iran takes over Iraq and links up with Syria. It holds even if Iraq stays independent and rocks along even if only like Pakistan in a marginal condition. The question is which country is next and how to we deal with it.

Offense! Offense! always Offense! You rarely win in defense.
Has the US offensive capability been lost?? Can we still take down Syria or Iran. Will the American public allow a President a pre-emptive attack ever again? OR do we wait 10 years, while the initiative moves to the enemy.
Syria seems like the next target for Bush.

11/30/2005 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Red A said...

The Dems have been weaselly clever in creating lies and myths and twisting things to their advantage.

Now, say if we had faster than planned progress and could pull troops out in March, that would be a good thing, right? No, because the dems have painted things to suggest that would be a "defeat."

What about if we have to hang around and extra 3 months past the plan? Bad.

They have carefully made this about 2006 elections so that becomes a defacto deadline...before the elections and its' a retreat a failure...after the elections, it's quagmire.

I would say that since the plan never, ever envisaged colonizing Iraq, that means there eventually has to be a troop withdrawl. The only way it would be a loss, would be a withdrawl under fire with a regime change in Iraq (i.e. the 'puppet' regime would fall.)

Anything else is just a level of victroy.

11/30/2005 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

In the long run whether we turn out to have won or lost, while significant, is not the most important issue. The most important issue is that we show that we tried, because this is a necessary backdrop to our eventual use of WMD.

One can take different views on how likely it is that this will prove necessary, perhaps the suicide bombers will come to their senses in time, but personally I'm not noticing that the radical Islamists are any more persuadable than the Japanese were in 1945. Most Americans will conclude, exactly as they did 60 years ago, that nuclear weapons are a justified response to continuing suicide attacks.

11/30/2005 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Perception of victory can be a powerful thing, even if the facts don't quite support the perception. Two historical events provide examples.

The first is the Yom Kippur war, particularly the Egyptian/Israeli front. The Egyptians caught the Israelies off guard and made quite significant gains accross the Suez peninsula before Israel got their stuff together, driving the Egyptians back (and in some cases making short incursions [further] into Egypt accross the Suez canal).

It was a close-run thing for a while (though closer in the goal v. Syria), but Israel beat back the Egyptians. Ask any Egyptian, though and they will tell you it was a great Egyptian victory. Partially, this comes from having made some gains, even if temporarily against the Israelies. Certainly it convinced the Israelies to eventually hand back the Suez to the Egyptians in a negotiated settlement. So eventually the one of the main goals was met (the other, Israel's destruction).
However, this sense of victory, however false or self-delusional, had an upside for Israel. It made it possible for Egypt to make peace with Israel, pride intact. (except for the minority fundamentalist, who killed the peacemaker and provided the foundation for todays world-wide jihad - but that would have happened anyway).

The other example was the expulsion of the Soviets from Afghanistan, an effort achieved with lots of help from the USA and Pakistan. However, the foreign volunteers, the 'Afghan Arabs' gained from the experience a heighted sense of their power. "They" had driven out the great super power (and in their estimation the mightier and scarier of the two). Surely if they could do that to the Russians, then the U.S. would be no match. If no super power could stand up to them, then the autocratic regimes in the ME stood no chance.

So, even if perception does not equal reality, it can affect reality.

11/30/2005 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Vietnam cemented the idea that War is Bad. No shit. Who don't know that?

Vietnam also confirmed that we can surrender in a war, and sure enough, we stop suffering annoying casualties.

Vietnam also confirmed that we can ignore our allies' casualties, if we lose interest in a war. As if we are freekin' gods on Olympus, and can throw in our pieces in the game.

In Vietnam we had much less to lose than we do here. Vietnam was part of the World Game of the superpowers, and it would always remain contained in SE Asia. Sure enough, after we bailed, Communism only killed a few million there. We were out of that war.

If we pull that same loss of courage again, you can apply the map overlay. Instead of distant and dispensable SE Asia, we'll lose the gas pump of the Global Economy.

Or fight a hell of lot more than we are now to maintain stability.

The PERCEPTION that All War IS Bad, and every war is Vietnam, is especially WRONG in this time in this multi-decade global war. We can not retreat from this one.

In the Cold War, there was a rational framework. No more.

We must restore that framework for our fellow citizens. Hey buddy! Wake up - there's a war going on - and you can't change the channel!

Look around you. The Web is a perfect place to find the Truth. We have to instill a hunger for the Truth. America was designed for an Informed Public.

Word.

11/30/2005 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony,
I agree, and so do these folks:

. "We're fighting a political war folks, and reality is our artillery."

11/30/2005 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

For those who care, my definition of victory is summarized in my post: Winning the War on Terror

Basically, in my opinion three subjective objectives (nice twist, eh) must be met:

1. We needed to break the Crescent of Terror
2. We want to give Iraq the chance to Reform Islam
3. And provide a Shining City on the Hill for the rest of the Region

I think we are moving smartly in the right direction. Soon we will see the mavens of the ignorant Left trying to declare their victory in a battle they did not fight.

My biggest concern is that the total victory required in the GWOT will not be met in Iraq. A diplomatic cease fire with Japan was not good enough to guarantee freedom - complete and total victory was. We must fight this to the end.

11/30/2005 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

eb said: "So, even if perception does not equal reality, it can affect reality."

Tony also developed that War=Bad, Casualties=Quit, Vietnam=Surrender.

Who controls, shapes, shades or manufactures those perceptions?

Media, politicians and the fanatic liberals of the world.

Can we control those three?
How...threaten jail like FDR's administration did during WWII, threaten closing the media offices, threaten and bribe?

No, we have come too far in the decending plunge of PC and personal courage to do those things.

So they, and only they will decide, if the U.S. will win or has ever won or lost and who's fault it was.

How does that go...our greatest enemies are from within?

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

11/30/2005 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

oops, hat tip
Flames into Darkness

11/30/2005 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Words ought to be slightly wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking"

J M Keynes

11/30/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger wyliedog said...

Although clear to any 12 year old who has played capture the flag that pronouncing an "Exit Stategy" is the surest way to lose, I feel the need to illustrate.

Lets suppose that I am head of a relatively small group trying to take over a country by "terrrorizing" (beating, raping, gasing, beheading, burning alive, etc.) the population. This works out great until "occupying" forces from large, powerful nation with a crazy notion that all people want to be free decides that they have had enough of my regional bully tactics and my "support" of fellow bullies worldwide. These freedom nuts move in and start to destroy everything I have worked so hard to take by force. They keep killing everyone I can convince to fight them. This is really bothersome because to get people to fight, I have to promise a huge reward in the next life and provide plenty of drugs in the current life. The only strategy I can hope for is to get the freedom nuts to leave of thier own will while I am still alive ('cause, damn them, I cannot kill hardly any of them - I have had 2 years and over 100,000 targets everyday and I have barely killed 2,000) . Luckily, they are not too smart and some of them want to tell me when they are leaving. Once I know when they are leaving I can just lay low, wait for them to leave and then take over. Even if they do not set a date, but just tell me what needs to happen before they'll leave I am O.K. with that. I can stop beheading folks or blowing up cars for a few months if I need to, after all, I will need my rest if I am going to fill the gap when they leave.

Giving any emeny the timetable or conditions under which we will withdraw (other than out right victory) is giving our enemy a monumental strategic advantage. In the past 7,000 years of warfare, countries have killed to keep secrets that gave a 1/100th of the advantage that this would give them.

Explain to me why this is not so?

11/30/2005 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger neo said...

I'm deeply saddened by the resolute anger to Bush's speech today as displayed throughout the blogosphere by individuals who wish to see the end of the the current administration regardless of the cost to the long term interests of this country.

The nature of war in Iraq is so complex that in attempting to dumb it down to a few quick sound bites, the opposition has managed to produce exactly the kind of negative resonance in the fabric of debate that they've spent the past 5 years accusing Bush of doing, just as Bush is making a serious attempt at actually explaining what he's doing to the American public.

How pathetic!

11/30/2005 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger wyliedog said...

Although clear to any 12 year old who has played capture the flag that pronouncing an "Exit Stategy" is the surest way to lose, I feel the need to illustrate.

Lets suppose that I am head of a relatively small group trying to take over a country by "terrrorizing" (beating, raping, gasing, beheading, burning alive, etc.) the population. This works out great until "occupying" forces from large, powerful nation with a crazy notion that all people want to be free decides that they have had enough of my regional bully tactics and my "support" of fellow bullies worldwide. These freedom nuts move in and start to destroy everything I have worked so hard to take by force. They keep killing everyone I can convince to fight them. This is really bothersome because to get people to fight, I have to promise a huge reward in the next life and provide plenty of drugs in the current life. The only strategy I can hope for is to get the freedom nuts to leave of thier own will while I am still alive ('cause, damn them, I cannot kill hardly any of them - I have had 2 years and over 100,000 targets everyday and I have barely killed 2,000) . Luckily, they are not too smart and some of them want to tell me when they are leaving. Once I know when they are leaving I can just lay low, wait for them to leave and then take over. Even if they do not set a date, but just tell me what needs to happen before they'll leave I am O.K. with that. I can stop beheading folks or blowing up cars for a few months if I need to, after all, I will need my rest if I am going to fill the gap when they leave.

Giving any emeny the timetable or conditions under which we will withdraw (short of all out victory) is giving our enemy a monumental strategic advantage. In the past 7,000 years of warfare, countries have killed to keep secrets that gave a 1/100th of the advantage that this would give them.

Explain to me why this is not so?

11/30/2005 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger hank_F_M said...

Sometimes the Presidents communications isn’t where it should be.

I published this last February. An event Table not a Time Table

It still seems to be the policy. I would guess running on the low side of acceptable. I would bet a significant withdrawal by the 2006 election. All but training and logistics missions (mostly contactors) by 2008. At some point along the line it will be announced that Iraq is now able to stand on it’s own except for normal aid missions.

11/30/2005 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Wow, its even better when you post a link that works:

Winning the War on Terror

Like Desert Rat, I see the marginalization of Zarqawi, al Qaeda, Saddamist, etc... I can also read a map - and would not like to be in the shoes of the chumps running Iran or Syria. Finally, we have seen the region shake up. Stuff is happening. If we stay engaged we can be part of the solution.

11/30/2005 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Gersh said...

The reason that this debate continues to thrive is that the Bush administration refuses or is unable to communicate to the people just exactly what victory means. The "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" posits a political outcome, something which has always been unattainable by military means. Militarily, we won this thing years ago. The enemy has been unable to achieve a tactical military victory of any size since the day the attack began.

America's fifth column is creating this confusion, and the Bush administration is to be blamed for allowing it. Now the democrats are following Charles DeGaulle's advice, which was "anticipate the inevitable, and support it." Democrat calls for a phased withdrawal are nothing more than that, as Bush never intended to stay in Iraq forever. But Bush's incompetence, plus the media's agenda, allow many, if not most people to see the democrat fantasy construct as truth.

11/30/2005 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Only a nation that never felt real subjection could attempt the luxurious act of deciding whether a given set of events was a 'victory' or a 'defeat'. The idea that the New York Times could arbitrate the meaning of Iraq is in a way proof, in and of itself, that the armed forces have kept the nation safe for such a lunatic debate.

Real defeat, not just defeat in newspaper headlines, is a pitifully obvious thing. It means daily humiliation, fear, want and a host of other things which very few in the United States really know. I mean really, really know. The Moveon.org people are playing at defeat, like it was a game. And I wonder sometimes if they are not courting poetic justice.

11/30/2005 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

There is a different point of view about "victory" in Iraq, and that is, it will be a long time coming. Granted they will have a form of democracy and considerable freedom under their newly elected government, but in my view they are still very Muslim, very Arab, and will continue to be corrupt, duplicitous, and untrustworthy as an ally.

We will have to keep considerable forces in Iraq for years to come, if only to ensure that they remain at least neutral in the follow-on conflicts in the region, and to ensure that they are not overcome by Iran.

It is also highly likely that we will be ordered out of Iraq by the "legitimate" government within a few years, which leaves them on their own for sure. What then?

To me, it is not at all clear that we will have achieved our objectives at that point, and could declare victory with a straight face. It is not at all clear that free Iraq will be a friend to the US, a staunch ally, and a champion of democracy once our troops are withdrawn.

Perhaps years down the road they will have proven themselves to be worthy allies, defenders of democracy, and very moderate Muslims. Then again, perhaps not.
Gratitude is a very perishable commodity. Do not count on their gratitude in the future.

11/30/2005 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Remember that "defeat or victory" occurs in more than one venue here. One is in Iraq, the others are everywhere else in the world. IF the Democrats can convince enough people that we were defeated, or at least "non-victorious", the ultimate results here, as they relate to the struggle against the Islamo-Fascists, will be disastrous. No matter the real situation on the ground is. The same applies to any other nation that helped us, or thought about helping us. If this is portrayed as a defeat, fat chance that they will ever help us again!
The same applies to all the other MidEast nations. If Al Jazeera can convince them that we failed, you think many Egyptians or Saudis are going to be demonstrating for improvements in their political process? Not likely!!
Remember Desert Storm? Saddam came out of that a winner, as far as the Arab world was concerned.
SO I strongly disagree that victory or defeat is NOT a matter of perception.

11/30/2005 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

desert rat said...
"Of course we've won.
By any standard of measure. Even if we were to withdraw as rapidly as possible, which we will not, aQ and mini Z could not take over Iraq. They could not establish mini Calphates within Iraq cities."


How can dr be so egregiously ignorant? Rat, who REALLY won the elections of January 30th? Right, right the Iraqi people. Wrong. 2 Parties won big enough to grab the reins of gov't a give few crumbs to the Kurds. SCIRI and Da'wa.
Question for the Rat. What does SCIRI stand for?
Question 2: What relationship does SCIRI and Da'wa have with Shiite insurgent Moktada al Sadr?
Question 3: How many Americans has Sadr killed?
Question 4: Shiite Theocracy. This is victory?

11/30/2005 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

WTC:

The very idea of an American president going before the UN to beg permission to actually ACT upon the situation in Iraq is ultimately surreal.

Futhermore, for the commander-in-chief to be expected to explain to his public and his politcal opponents how any war will play out is shear madness.

How did we ever get to this point?

Pandering to the Left.

There will be a price to be paid for our ambivilence as well.

11/30/2005 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Brenegar said...

Perception isn't reality. Perception becomes reality when you act upon it. And perception does have to managed. I watched John Boorman's Hope and Glory with my kids today, both home sick. What was so interesting was that everything stopped with Churchill came on the radio. This is the sort of thing Bush should be doing. Every time he speaks about the war, it affects perceptions. For those who are generally supportive of the country and the president, are not consciously ant-war, are sitting on the fence, his strong defense of why we are there, and why we can't cut and run, affects their perception. Every time the cut-in-run crowd speaks, it affects perception. When Bush speaks, and the C-N-R crowd reacts to emotionally, it solidifies the average American's perception that we should at stay the course.
Good discussion.

11/30/2005 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

...and I strongly disagree that
"The reason that this debate continues to thrive is that the Bush administration refuses or is unable to communicate to the people just exactly what victory means."
---
To me that is simply the Template driven down people's throats for months by the Dem/MSM/etc Cabal.
As Wretchard notes "they are people that are playing at defeat, like it was a game."
---
The fact that the admin has been less than perfect at defusing these suicidal nuts is a fact, but does not mean that they are deserving of all blame.
Look how much difference just a little bit of light, sanity, and reality can make as it did when Joe Liebermann spoke up.
(Or a year or so ago when Zell Miller did.)
At least it did for me, and I hope millions of others.
Winning the War of Words cannot be made solely the responsibility of POTUS.
Unless we accept defeat.
Sane, patriotic Democrats should be encouraged, as well...

11/30/2005 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

enscout,
Agree that POTUS treating domestic adversaries better than his Allies has been a problem.

11/30/2005 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Doug said...
...and I strongly disagree that
"The reason that this debate continues to thrive is that the Bush administration refuses or is unable to communicate to the people just exactly what victory means."

Does victory mean a government in which Moktada Al Sadr is a major participant?!! Sadr who has killed scores of American's and is a Shiite terrorist? Make up your mind now, 'cause Sadr is on the Shiite house ticket for the elections on the 15th, and his polling numbers look good.
Does victory mean a Shiite theocracy? And if you say no, then ask yourself -- who runs the current Iraqi gov't?

11/30/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

It looks like a good plan. But, I would like to see one other item on the Presidents executive summary:

- Expediently try Saddam and hang him for his brutal crimes.

Saddam's presence just bolsters more terrorism and intimidation in hopes of putting him back in power.

11/30/2005 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Is Iraq a fully sovereign nation? Or will it be after the Dec 15th elections? If it is a fully sovereign nation and the duly constituted and elected government of Iraq asks us to leave, will we? What happens if we do? What happens if we don't?

Previously, a good many people have scoffed at the idea of the Iraqis themselves asking us to leave. But lately, some Iraqi officials have said -- much as Murtha has said -- that the insurgency is hotter because of the presence of coalition troops.

Maybe, maybe not. But if the new Iraqi government is willing to see the coalition troops leave in the hope that the insurgency cools down, should the coalition troops leave? Would we have the authority to stay -- especially if the Iraqis set about having the UN mandate rescinded?

I find the talk about perception management odd. It seems we keep forgetting that the Iraqis have the ultimate say in this, irregardless of the newly issued National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.

11/30/2005 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Idiot Master said...

manning hit the nail on the head.

militarily, the war is being won at an accelerating pace.

huge political risks in Iraq could undo the military victory.

In Turkey, the army is the guardian of secular democracy and has taken temporary control of the government at various times when the politicians have gone whacky. Maybe this is a workable model for Iraq. I don't think the U.S. Military can play this role over the long term.

11/30/2005 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Reocon,
Please provide a link to the polls that show Muqtada doing well. I'm sure he and the other Persian cat's paws will do well in Basra (through fraud) and maybe Sadr city. However, he has ceased to be a threat to the central power of the real Iraqi government. (or atleast a threat that they cannot handle themselves).
Indeed, he might be the treat that is being withheld for a later day. Certainly his power is much diminished since his last uprising and he has given up on denouncing the election.
As for religious parties, outside of Basra, they are slipping popularity due to their performance in the current government. They will be a problem down the road, but it will be Iraq can and will deal with.
If we (the US) are to do anything, I would that we could find a way to deal with their sponsors.

11/30/2005 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Wretchard,
Your comment about playing at diplomacy without ever having to experience true defeat is spot on. It explains the actions of many for whom the thought of Bush as their president brings such dread to them that they talk of facist takeovers, having no idea of the bottom of the gut feeling of fear that tonight may bring a knock at the door from the Mukarabhat or that their fortune may disappear at the whim of political enemies.

It's not just that they are spoiled. (May we all be that way). It's that in their arrogance, they don't realize how spoiled they are.

+++++
One of my younger brother's-in-law came home last year parroting his teacher about how Bush is sending boys to Iraq to die and ruining America. They sat him down and explained to him what it meant to sneak around Bibles in the Soviet Union, from whence they came, and to practice a faith in a land that was militantly atheist, among other things.

11/30/2005 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Elam Bend said...
"Reocon,
Please provide a link to the polls that show Muqtada doing well. I'm sure he and the other Persian cat's paws will do well in Basra (through fraud) and maybe Sadr city. However, he has ceased to be a threat to the central power of the real Iraqi government. (or atleast a threat that they cannot handle themselves)."

http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40D13FC355B0C7B8EDDA90994DD404482

Ruling Iraqi Shiites Agree to a Joint Election List
*Please Note: Archive articles do not include photos, charts or graphics. More information. October 28, 2005, Friday
By EDWARD WONG; ABDUL-RAZZAQ AL-SAEIDY CONTRIBUTED REPORTING FROM BAGHDAD FOR THIS ARTICLE.

If not Sadr/SCIRI/Da'wa then who do you believe is best poised to win in 15 days? Allawi? Not doing well at all. Chalabi, give it up.

"They will be a problem down the road, but it will be Iraq can and will deal with."

Oh, and what if they ARE Iraq? The current gov't is composed of a triumverate of secessionist Kurds (who are already on their way out the door), SCIRI and Da'wa. Let's be clear: as a conservative I do not support Islamic Revolutionary governments. Do you?

11/30/2005 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Reocon,
As Elam Bend I do not support tyrants, autocrats, plutocrats, or theocrats; of any stripe.

As for the Shi'ite parties forming a list, I say they do it from a position of weakness. They hate each other, especially SCIRI and Sadr. They would only join if they thought they couldn't win alone, and the minute one of them did think they could do it they would turn on the other in a heart beat. The religious parties did well in the first round of elections, but I'm not sure they will do so well in this round, particularly with much more Sunnis participating this time. I don't they'll vote the Ayatollah ticket, do you?
Past that, what do you suggest should be the strategy to confront and weaken them? [no fair saying we should've killed Sadr in the summer of 2004, sadly it's too late for that]

11/30/2005 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Elam Bend said...
"I don't they'll vote the Ayatollah ticket, do you?"

They did last time. Since Desert Rat hasn't had time to chime in; SCIRI stands for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. They are currently the dominant party in the Iraqi gov't, a gov't we are committed to support with our own blood, sweat and treasure. Unbelievable.

What drives me mad about this empty chatter of "victory" and "staying the course" is that it refuses to pay even scant attention to the political forces that won the election of January 30th. SHIITE THEOCRATIC parties with strong ties to IRAN. That is where the "course" leads.

What can the US do to "confront and weaken" them? Good question. What we can not do is simulataneously confront AND support these Islamofascists as they win electoral power. For those false conservatives who claim that elections are the solution to Islamofascism, I suggest you study Islam. And fascism.

11/30/2005 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

All organizations require both operational and sales capabilities. A lack of either capability is unsustainable - all the great operational skills are wasted if there are no customers to serve, and you can only sell what you can ultimately deliver.

By almost every objective standard, the operations of OIF have been a success. The sales aspect has been a dog's breakfast. This is kinda like an organization with great engineers going bankrupt because they just assumed that the customer would buy what they have made - after all, it is the best damn widget in the whole damn world: why wouldn't you buy it?

I have often experienced this type of attitude from real engineers in the real world. They can't understand why they are failing. But failing they are.

Overcoming this failure requires a acknowlegment on the part of the operations folks that sales does matter, and they can't do it without those slick, sleazy sales people. It may not be fair to the engineers of the world (like me), but to simply curse the world for being a place of bounded rationality is a waste of our valuable time here on earth.

Sooooo, reality is a necessary, but not sufficient condition. Perception is essential as well. The goal of leaders is to make sure perception and reality are consistent with one another.

A simple example from business will illustrate. When relational databases were a relatively new concept, there were a number of competing systems. In particular, there were two who had ambitions to become the dominant RDBMS: Oracle and Sybase. Technically, Sybase was superior by almost every metric (at least early on). But Oracle had a sensational sales organization, led by an extraordinary salesman. It promised the world, was relentless in their sales efforts (Always Be Closing), even though it couldn't deliver on most of those promises at the time of sale.

In the end, however, Oracle won enough customers and revenue that it was able to improve its system fast enough after the fact to keep those customers. And once they were sold, it was very difficult to switch. Simply put, Oracle won by outselling Sybase.

The Bush Administration is in grave danger of being Oracled: their competitors are promising the world (Win Without War), selling like hell, and closing as many "sales" as they can, hoping to build momentum and a sense of inevitability. Then, after the competition wins, they will simply implement the very operational plan already in place and take credit for having won the war.

If this comes to pass, it would not be fair. But it would be just. Any organization that is incapable of maintaining its customer base, especially with the advantage of superior execution skills, does not deserve to survive.

So, in answer to the question: Victory is achieved when there is a stable, functioning democracy in Iraq, and we perceive one to exist. The tree must both fall and be heard. Both of which are happening.

Timmmberrr!!!

11/30/2005 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger CapZap said...

Any attempt to separate "perceived" victory and actual victory on the ground only depicts the difference between losing and winning.

War is a human abuse -- the argument is where "rights" might fit into the equation. You shoot and kill an Islamofascist you have given him the only right he understands -- death. Israel learned this in 1948.

I was born just after WWII. Somehow I don't think the leftists were quite as well entrenched in the media then. Life had been harder during the depression and manifested the need to make hard decisions and stick by them.

Nothing will satisfy the leftists except our defeat and humiliation.

11/30/2005 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Leo said...


"So, in answer to the question: Victory is achieved when there is a stable, functioning democracy in Iraq, and we perceive one to exist. The tree must both fall and be heard. Both of which are happening."

Leo, does an Iraqi gov't run by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq constitute a functioning democracy?
Is Khomeneism a democratic creed? Talk about perceptions and reality.
Whose actually governing the "functioning democracy" in your fantasy Iraq?

11/30/2005 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger dune runner said...

If we are able to withdraw troops and leave behind a democratically elected government which represents the will of the majority of Iraqi people, then we have really succeeded, at least as far as Iraq is concerned. Other issues in the ME await of course, but wretchard asked about troops leaving Iraq.

Note this does not mean a government that we necessarily approve of. Our stated goal was to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. So yes, reocon, if they freely and democratically choose to become a theocracy under al Sadr, (which I think is unlikely but anything is possible I suppose), it is still victory for us in the context of meeting our goal of a free Iraq.

If we fail to respect the freely expressed will of the Iraqi people, or leave before they are stable enough to express that will, then we have really failed in Iraq.

11/30/2005 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Leo,

Wonderful comment and I think, mostly right. But consider the complementary problem: a sales organization with nothing but vaporware in the inventory. Oracle, in the end, had enough of a product to cash the salesmen's promised checks. But if it didn't ... remember the End of History, the invincible European Union, the Worker's Paradise all of which had the best salesmen imaginable? As the millenium turned the world was on the way to a new era of eternal peace. The biggest problem then was the Millenium Bug. And now we get Win Without War. Great product. Conditions apply.

11/30/2005 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger rasqual said...

OK, posting before reading others. IMO, there are victorIES, not just one victory. An optimal alignment of many factors could be construed as a single victory, but I think it's more useful to think of an enumeration of discrete accomplishments.

OTOH, this also means that discrete defeats may be enumerated -- they don't disappear into an overall "win" that absorbs bad news. But that's as it should be. Reality's never a monadic victory or defeat.

I appreciated Bush's speech today, though I think some conciliatory rhetoric toward his detractors would have been worthwhile. Not necessary -- but it'd be an extra mile trodden for their sakes.

11/30/2005 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

reocon -

To me, one of the critical indicators of a functioning democracy is the ability of the people to change their leadership through an election.

As far as I'm concerned, the Iraqis can elect whoever they damn well please. It's their country, not mine. Hence, they should be given great latitude to make that decision, and have been so far. I have some confidence (based on history) that a system that allows for regular, peaceful changes of government is less likely to be a threat to the US. Not a guarantee, mind you, but playing the odds. If they later turn out to be a threat, we deal with it then. But we should still make the smart bet, and that's with democracy.

Perhaps a better, more precise definition of victory would be this: the first time the Iraqis elect a different governing party/coalition: a peaceful change in government.

If I was selling for the Bush Administration, I'd try to make the case that such a change will occur on 15 December. As it is, we will probably have to wait another election cycle. Whatever.

Regardless: purple fingers = victory.

11/30/2005 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Wretchard -

Absolutely agree.

Pure sales organizations never survive long-term. That's true both for polities (Maoism) and businesses (Enron). In the absence of reality, you are forced to lie. First a little, then a lot, until finally you get to the point where you can't tell the difference between truth and falsehood. This is followed by collapse because the truth eventually finds a way out and ends up killing the lies (and the often liars).

Problem is that managing reality and managing perception are both expensive, and require effort, specialized skills, and experience. In a world of limited resources, choices have to be made. Unless both are given the proper resources, risk of failure will dramatically escalate.

Frankly, the more dangerous situations are where there is some kernel of truth, some reality underlying the perceptions, but the image has become so distorted that it becomes, in effect, a lie.

Two examples:

1. Socialism is a just form of government.

2. Donald Trump is a good businessman.

Both have some truth to them. Both are fundamentally lies. A good salesman knows the difference. So does the customer. Eventually. But there can be a lot of pain and disappointment in the mean time.

Caveat emptor.

11/30/2005 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Tomorrowist said...

I just had a fit of pessimism. As other have alluded, this really is a war for the heart and soul of Islam and the Middle East.

There are many powerful people (Iranian Mullahs and Saudi Wahabists) that are threatened by democracy. These bad guys are sitting on huge resevoirs of oil wealth and can fund an endless proxy war against freedom in Iraq. To them, Iraq is a problem at which they can afford to throw oodles of money for a long time.

Also, there are hate filled thugs everywhere just looking for an excuse to kill and maim others. We seem them in the ghettos of the US and France. We seem them wearing bomb belts on the streets of Isreal and Iraq.

Democracy is a challenge. Dead people have a long illustrious tradition of voting in Chicago. Theft and graft is common in US politics. Motor voter is a threat. If we're having so much trouble maintaining an operational democracy under peaceful conditions, think of how difficult it will be to build a democracy under violent conditions. With scandal filled politics and terrorism killed economics; with no history of political comprimise to temper their passions; I'm afraid that common Iraqis will elect their own silver tongued despot such as Hitler, Lenin, or Chavez in a fit of desperation. From there, we will have lost.

For us to win the war in Iraq and give peace a chance, I fear that we will have to clean Iraq of the evil paymasters in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and who knows where else. I don't see the political will to do that.

11/30/2005 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

This is a 150+ year war.

You'll know when we've won it -

(1) Islam will have imploded and the ME will be yet another heir to the Greeks.

(2) We will have found the vocabulary to defeat Leftist/PC/Self-hating crap.

(3) All the oil will have run out, and we're on Nuclear energy.

Let's continue with the tactics.

ADE

11/30/2005 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/01/2005 01:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld has already made up his mind as to the results of OIF:

For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men.

But is it really the most foolish war in 2014 years? It all depends on what one sees as the true ultimate goal of US grand strategy. I felt these paragraphs from Mr. Van Creveld’s piece even more telling:

First and foremost, such a presence will be needed to counter Iran, which for two decades now has seen the United States as "the Great Satan." Tehran is certain to emerge as the biggest winner from the war — a winner that in the not too distant future is likely to add nuclear warheads to the missiles it already has. In the past, Tehran has often threatened the Gulf States. Now that Iraq is gone, it is hard to see how anybody except the United States can keep the Gulf States, and their oil, out of the mullahs' clutches.

A continued American military presence will be needed also, because a divided, chaotic, government-less Iraq is very likely to become a hornets' nest. From it, a hundred mini-Zarqawis will spread all over the Middle East, conducting acts of sabotage and seeking to overthrow governments in Allah's name.


World oil supplies at stake and only the US capable of protecting them, well this is exactly the type of situation that Emmanuel Todd, in his book After the Empire, said the US would need to create in order to convince the rest of the world to keep financing its consumer credit card binge.

French demographer Todd (The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere) cites Paul Kennedy's theory of imperial overstretch and Michael Lind's notion of the American overclass to paint America as a "predatory" but weakening empire, its unilateralism and militarism a sign of frailty, not strength. Misguided free trade policies, he contends, have hollowed out America's industrial base and decimated its working and middle classes, polarizing the country into a society of plutocrats and plebeians. Dependent on imports, America has degenerated into a parasitic, Keynesian consumer-of-last-resort, injecting demand into the world economy while producing nothing of value. To mask its decline, America pursues a foreign policy of "theatrical micromilitarism," picking fights with helpless Third World countries like Iraq to convince the world's real power centers-Europe, Japan and Russia-of its military prowess and validate its spurious image as global policeman.

By Mr. Todd’s standards then OIF is a great strategic success for the United States since it increased the likelihood of a regional conflict threatening world oil supplies, no one will be cutting the US’s lifeline of easy credit anytime soon.

Doug wisely mentioned Jeffrey Feldman’s very important post Feingold Now Leads Democrats but really left out the most important part, yes Feldman certainly rips Kerry a another well-deserved new one, but from the rest of the article we can see that trying to define victory or defeat in Iraq all depends on how you frame the question. Here is an extended quote:

Kerry made a series of statements where he attempted to parse the difference between his position and President Bush's statements. According to John Kerry, the problem with the President's "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" was that it made the claim that the U.S. military belonged to the President's policy and not to the American people (hang on, here, it's hard to explain Kerry's arguments). He then went on to explain that Democrats are not calling for a time table for leaving Iraq, but were instead calling for a time table for success in Iraq which would allow for the U.S. military to leave (See the difference? Yeah...me neither).

Kerry was confusing, he was overly patrician. He was unclear. After listening to him speak for five minutes, it was not clear what his ideas were.

Feingold was the exact opposite.

Interviewed by Nora O'Donnell on MSNBC, Feingold was asked a series of questions where he was supposed to respond to the President's attacks on his position. Rather than answer those false charges, each time he reframed the debate. Each time he did this--he was fantastic. FANTASTIC!

Feingold made several points that were crystal clear.

First, he said that the President's strategy should not be "Victory in Iraq," but "Victory Against Al Qaeda." That was a very good point. He held up the President's document and said, essentially, the title of this document is wrong. Very clear. Our goal is to stop Al Qaeda.

Second, he said that just because the President made the mistake of confusing the war in Iraq with the fight against Al Qaeda, doesn't mean that we should make that mistake over and over again. We must refocus the war on the real enemy: Al Qaeda.

Third, he said that winding down the mission in 2006 would not mean that America had 'cut and run' from Iraq, thereby giving the terrorists a victory. He explained clearly that the American presence in Iraq--our military occupation of Iraq--was the single largest factor fueling the terrorists in the world, today. He said that the President was mistaken or confused in his understanding, and that key generals and Iraqis themselves had said that the most important factor that his helping Al Qaeda is the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Fourth, he used a chessboard metaphor to explain that the fight against Al Qaeda is taking place in dozens of countries around the world. Therefore, what the President is advocating, according to Feingold, is that we fight only in "one square" and not on the whole board. It was a very clear way to frame this discussion. And one that has legs, I believe.


If we framed the question of who won the Korean War by limiting our vision to the years 1950-53 it would be hard to declare a clear victor; if however we accept Phillip Bobbit’s framework of an epochal “Long War” (1914-91) then it is clear that Korea was just one battle in a long and mostly successful (China and North Korea still use a Marxist-Leninist organizational structure) epochal war. Iraq will ultimately be seen as a diversion from the real battle, the epochal war against militant Islam, and if we are able to refocus on the real targets, I have no doubt that we can ultimately win. The only hesitation I have is the rather large handicap we carry of a parasitical upper class that not only refuses to lift a finger to help, but insists on flaunting their incredible riches while the working class families of soldiers serving our nation struggle financially to supplement the shoddy equipment our political elites (both Republican and Democratic) insist on sending our soldiers to war with.

12/01/2005 01:14:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Augustus lost 3 legions in Germany, commanded by Varus. That was 18,000 KIA on a miniscule population base. It's often forgotten that the Romans went back under the command of Julius Caesar and defeated the Germanic tribes -- at least for a time.

Crevald's main premise is that by toppling Saddam, the US has destablized the Middle East. Better it were for the US to have left things alone. I think Crevald has made one fundamental mistake. The Israelis cannot seize and hold because they are fighting a zero-sum game over territory. The US does not require any territory in the Middle East and therefore it can seize and someone else can hold. So they aren't quite playing the same game.

Yet where Crevald may have a point is this. Iraq has shown up how divided the West is. If the object of OIF was to demonstrate resolve and strength it has demonstrated strength and irresolution. In the end the barbarians -- the comparison is implicitly Crevald's -- will be both encouraged and discouraged. Dismayed by the strength of America; heartened; immensely heartened by the dissent from within.

12/01/2005 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I agree Van Creveld is exagerating a bit.

But if there is one lesson from history that is undisputable, it is that the American / Western tradition of skepticism and questioning of authority is undoubtedly the best organizational model for any society to follow. The authoritarian philosophy of “follow the leader at any cost” is highly dependent on having highly competent leaders; history shows most leaders to be middling at best and incompetent at worst. The self-correcting mechanism of American skepticism is exactly the attribute the Islamists fear most about us. Their societies, more than any others, have tasted the bitter fruit of incompetent leadership. Their people have yearned in vain for a self-correcting mechanism that would rid them of their tyrants, only to find that the respect for authority that their cultures impose on them is the very thing that binds them to slavery.

I have great faith in the wisdom of the American people; I have no faith in politicians of any stripe. I don’t believe there is a huge media conspiracy to deceive going on here; I do believe that we are seeing the self-correcting mechanisms, that we owe our freedom to, kicking in here. When the Islamists start going down the wrong track, their slavish obedience to authority will not allow them to correct their course to oblivion.

12/01/2005 02:21:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Kevin,

There's a great deal of wisdom in your observation. But the self-correcting mechanism you refer to lies in the debate -- in what we're doing right here -- not merely in the questioning. Skepticism is directed not only at the leadership but also at the skeptics themselves. Out of that adversarial procedure comes the truth, or as near to it as we can get.

12/01/2005 02:28:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Feingold made several points that were crystal clear.

First, he said that the President's strategy should not be "Victory in Iraq," but "Victory Against Al Qaeda."


Kevin,

Feingold has it wrong. The President's strategy should be neither of the above. His objective should be "Defense of the West". That just might make people see AQ, 9/11 as attackers/an attack on us; self haters from the MSM might be more clearly seen as traitors.

When you're under siege (as we are), things can go on for a lot longer. Victory in Iraq will be seen as just a defensive sortie, possibly, even, a chance to show the world that we're nice guys, and that the inevitable nuking of Iran was not our preferred style.

ADE

12/01/2005 02:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Wretchard,

Skepticism is directed not only at the leadership but also at the skeptics themselves.

Wise words indeed. The internet is acting as a force-multiplier for our greatest asset.

I really wish Van Creveld would have placed his article in a forum that would have allowed realtime questioning, commenting, and feedback.

12/01/2005 02:51:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Kevin,
"tradition of skepticism and questioning of authority is undoubtedly the best organizational model for any society to follow."

But it's the worst way to fight a war. Most of us in the west don't realize the severity of the situation yet.

12/01/2005 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger NN said...

desert rat:

A harder nut to crack, is Iran.

Somewhere along the line I think that the concept of "unconditional surrender" will be introduced as the measurement of victory. There will be no question about bad media coverage then. The incompatibility of the West and the Islamic world will pull us in this direction. Bush is still unwilling to stress this polarity, although he has now said Radical Islam is the enemy. The mushy side of his Christian ethics is probably what prevents him from seeing this. It's a pity Bush is regarded as a Hawk, when in fact he is really not.

Is South Korea influencing the North? Did West Germany influence the East? NO, becuse the main source of evil was still intact. Assuming the goal is to stabilize the entire region and thereby neutralize its Islamic heritage, at what point will the scales tip over? Taking one country at a time demotes OIF to one partial goal achieved, which is perhaps all it was meant to be from the start. But there are no signals I am aware of indicating that this is the overarching US plan, so it feels a little like stopping midair, regardless of the outcome in Iraq.

One big thing the US should do and still can do to improve Iraq's chances of a peaceful development is to disband all militias. This I see as a clear signal that the participants in the political process are at best distrustful of the it and want to be able to fall back on their own muscle should worst come to worst. At worst this is precisely what they intend to do, should the political process reach a point where no agreements can be reached.

Oh, and yes, about Moqtada al-Sadr's influence. If this article is to be believed, he is very influential, playing the political game for the time being, but still carrying his Mahdi army in his pocket.

Sadr used his leverage to get 30 of his candidates on the Shiite coalition's slate. This was as many as the number allotted to each of the two main governing parties, the Dawa Islamic Party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution Iraq. Sadr's aides have already negotiated with those parties for executive offices and ministry posts in the next government.

Iran, Iran, always Iran.

12/01/2005 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

By declaring Iraq an American "Varian Disaster," Martin Van Creveld chained his reputation as a brilliant, if maverick, military historian not to reality, but to perception.

He has, perceptually speaking, just made himself a prisoner to a predicted outcome--American defeat followed by a massive civil war--that is possible, but not all inevitable.

Iraq, at this point, is neither a victory nor a defeat, but an unfolding expirement in counterinsurgency and nationbuilding.

In time, the ultimate reality of Iraq--either as victory or defeat--will emerge. And when it does, the reality will betray someone's deeply held perceptions of the situation.

12/01/2005 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

dune runner said . . .
"Our stated goal was to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. So yes, reocon, if they freely and democratically choose to become a theocracy under al Sadr, (which I think is unlikely but anything is possible I suppose), it is still victory for us in the context of meeting our goal of a free Iraq."

Did the Iranians "freely and democratically" choose Khomeini? The false conservative Bush has far greater goals than just "freedom and democracy" in one country: Iraq was to be the model in a bold new doctrine of democratic globalism. Bush is drunk on Wilsonian idealism if he thinks that the civil war in Iraq is appealing to other Arab regimes.
And if dune runner thinks it unlikely that the majority of Iraqi's would choose a theocracy that will curb (Western conceptions) of freedom, then he should find out what sort of parties actually won the elections of January 30th.
All of this talk of victory can not face up to the true nature of the government we are foolishly helping to attain power.

12/01/2005 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

leo said . . .

"Not a guarantee, mind you, but playing the odds. If they later turn out to be a threat, we deal with it then."

Well if that happens, then our current "victory" will look a bit suspect.

As to "Regardless: purple fingers = victory. "
How about the electoral successes of South Vietnam? Ngo Dien Diem, Thieu, Big Minh? How about the elections won by the Ayatollah Khomeini and Adolf Hitler? How about the delegates in the current Iraqi assembly pledged to Moktada Al Sadr?

12/01/2005 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff Medcalf said...

Feingold said that the strategy should be victory against al Qaeda rather than victory in Iraq, exactly one day after he said that the President should release a strategy for victory in Iraq. Sure it's brilliant, if your memory is nonexistent.

In fact, it occurs to me that the anti-war folks and the anti-Bush folks and the anti-American folks (there is overlap, but the sets are not identical) all rely on lack of memory for their arguments: they only point out the past where it suits them (often twisted beyond recognition in the process) and ignore other events.

Take, as an example, the current debate: if you don't realize that the strategy the President is now talking about has been the one he's been talking about for three years, it's a lot easier to buy the position that the administration has been fighting ineptly. Since the Democrats and their MSM allies and cohorts have been burying the strategy statements (every time Bush speaks about strategy, the Democrats and MSM a week later are saying there's no strategy and the President has to lay one out) all along, it's easier for them to jump on the bandwagon and claim that it was their strategy (as they are apparently starting to do, now).

And reocon, I don't pay more than passing attention to the political infighting in most of our allies; why should I pay attention to the political infighting in Iraq? If Iraq turns into a theocracy through free and fair elections, we have not lost, but we will probably end up with Iraq as an enemy again at some future point. If we control who the Iraqis can elect to govern themselves, as the Iranian ayatollahs control who the Iranian people can elect, then we have lost.

12/01/2005 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger NN said...

reocon said

leo said . . .

"Not a guarantee, mind you, but playing the odds. If they later turn out to be a threat, we deal with it then."

Well if that happens, then our current "victory" will look a bit suspect.


Here the confusion between what we're really fighting to install in Iraq becomes deadly. Is it democracy? Is it freedom? If democracy is some form of majority rule, then as some have pointed already, the Iraqis should be allowed to vote themselves into theocracy, and we should only nod sagely and say vox populi.

I think "freedom" as protected by a republican constitution and "democracy" in the above sense are used interchangeably today, with both meanings attached to them, to suit the speaker.

I love it when they say in Attack of Clones I think, "We must keep faith in the Republic. If we stop believing in democracy we will lose it." Aaah, I shall not be troubled by such petty trifles as contradictions! Send in the clones!

12/01/2005 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Jeff Medcalf said...
"And reocon, I don't pay more than passing attention to the political infighting in most of our allies; why should I pay attention to the political infighting in Iraq?"

But of course you don't. And I assume you're too young to be paying attention to the "political infighting" of our good ME ally, the state of Iran. Boy, that Shah is steadfast, and don't the people just love him?

"If Iraq turns into a theocracy through free and fair elections, we have not lost, but we will probably end up with Iraq as an enemy again at some future point."

Perhaps you also haven't been paying attention to the doctrine of "democratic gloablism" that Bush has been talking about for the past 2 and 1/2 years. Iraq is to be the model for the rest of the ME, and this is more than a fanstasy but a STRATEGY. Turning into an enemey "at some future point" is not a victory if that point is in the near future.

Many a true conservative raised the concern that this democracy in Iraq dream was foolish and that given a chance the Shiites would elect a majority. In rebuttal the Trotskite Neocons produced Chalabi, Kanan Makiya and Fouad Ajami to tell us that NO, LIBERALS would win in Iraq. They would promote freedom and religious tolerance and look towards the West.

January 30th has proven them wrong but the conservative movement has yet to catch up. SHIITE THEOCRATIC PARTIES won the elections and are on course to win in 14 days. This is not a victory . . . for us.

12/01/2005 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Note that the issue of "what constitutes victory." is not that abnormal a discussion in itself. Near the end of WWII there were those that said that victory over Nazi Germany would be realized by Germany becoming a purely pastoral society, with no industry of any kind.
There was a huge discussion among the Allies over whether the Emperor stepping down was an absolute requirement to victory over Japan. One reason for the dropping of the atomic bombs was the ambiguity associated with this issue.
Victory in Korea before and after the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir consisted of two separate concepts.
The Left have tried to present the outcome of Desert Storm as a defeat for years - with Gulf War Syndrome, the failed Shiite uprising, and Saddam remaining in power as their evidence.
But in none of these cases did a group in the U.S. see that ensuring actual defeat was a personal objective - as some do now.

12/01/2005 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It is important to remember that there is no War on Mohamendans.
Only select individuals.

The President and Congress have not yet agreed there is a wider Mohammedan War.

Yes, the South Koreans have an effect on the North. The South, however, DOES NOT want radical change in the North and will not promote such change. The example of Germany is enough, perhaps rightfully, to make the South wary of reunification.

The US is not at War with Iran. Perhaps we should be, but we are not.

And yes, if the people of Iraq choose a political course that is not to our choosing or liking, but do not reconstitiute a threat to US, then yes. Sadr can play a role.
Unless we announce different War Goals, which is not in the cards.

When the Government of Iraq asks US to leave, we leave, or we start a REAL War in Iraq.

After WWII the Eastern portions of Germany and the rest of Eastern Europe fell under the control of the Soviets. WWII is still considered a Victory for US, regardless. So it could be in Iraq.

Until the true enemies of US are proclaimed, by US, to be our enemies, it is impossible to combat them effectively.

12/01/2005 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger JSAllison said...

Osama has gone to ground, literally, I suspect. Zarqawi and his minions are tasting the ashes of defeat as his Sunni fellow travellers start to turn on him and themselves.

Our military is doing the hard job, successfully, over there, not here.

The Aging Aquarians and their get are passing off the stage into the long sleep.

What's next? Tehran or Damascus? Eenie meenie miney moe...

12/01/2005 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

The New York Times comes through! In their editorial today on Bush's speech at Annapolis yesterday, they delivered this surprising, insightful "analogy:"

But after watching the president, we couldn't resist reading Richard Nixon's 1969 Vietnamization speech. Substitute the Iraqi constitutional process for the Paris peace talks, and Mr. Bush's ideas about the Iraqi Army are not much different from Nixon's plans - except Nixon admitted the war was going very badly (which was easier for him to do because he didn't start it), and he was very clear about the risks and huge sacrifices ahead.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/01/opinion/01thur1.html

(Just have to choke past the part that Bush "started" the war in Iraq. Remember, History began on 1/20/01.)

Too bad they didn't flesh out the analogy further. After we won the war in Vietnam militarily, and our enemies sued for peace in Paris, the Democrats in Congress withdrew our support and defaulted on our obligations, just like Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha are proposing we do now.

12/01/2005 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger NN said...

desert rat said ...

And yes, if the people of Iraq choose a political course that is not to our choosing or liking, but do not reconstitiute a threat to US, then yes. Sadr can play a role.
Unless we announce different War Goals, which is not in the cards.

When the Government of Iraq asks US to leave, we leave, or we start a REAL War in Iraq.

After WWII the Eastern portions of Germany and the rest of Eastern Europe fell under the control of the Soviets. WWII is still considered a Victory for US, regardless. So it could be in Iraq.


But the outcome of WWII was largely successful for the US because they went straight for the jugular, destroying Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. They did not dither calling it a War Against Kamikaze, or, a War against Blitzkrieg, or invading Hungary but leaving Germany intact. And the US did specifically not let the defeated parties hammer out their future on their own. With a firm hand the US de-Nazified Germany, and I believe the Japanese constitution that general MacArthur wrote secured individual rights in a Japanese context.

And Sadr, by all evidence being rabidly anti-US, should not play a role in the future of Iraq. But these are one of the sad consequences for thinking democracy is what the Iraqis need.

12/01/2005 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

js
einny meanie minee moe the US will be staying home.

The US is in no way ready, politically, for another round of preemptive conventional war. Neither against Iran or Syria.

10% military & 90% "soft power", that is the presribed antedote to the Mohammedan threat.
Advocate for the 90% and then the US MAY begin to field an appropriate response to the REAL threat. The ideology of Jihadist Mohammedanism, not their military strength, is the threat.

Proxy players and covert funding of Resistance in Iran and Syria will have to suffice, unless of course the Mohammedans can find a way to strike US at home, in an effective way.

Unless of course the CIA leak about the ten years to nuclear capability for Iran is as accurate as their "Slam Dunk" on WMD in Iraq.

The Paki's have nuclear weapons, today. Is Pakistan ten years from another coup? That would be, I think, a record for them.

Where is the REAL military threat?

If Osama is in a grave and not a cave, let US go and dig him up. If he is in a cave, not a grave, let US remedy that.

Sooner is better

12/01/2005 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But half of Germany and the whole of Eastern Europe was lost.
Hitler was defeated, as was Saddam.
The evil that arose from the ashes of WWII, was an extension of that WAR. Totalitarian States still ruled much of Europe and constituted a MUCH LARGER threat to US than had the NAZIs of Germany.

WWII did not end until the defeat of the Soviets in Germany in the 1990's.
Or was that a different WAR?

If it was different, so then are the different Phases of the Mohammendan Wars.
The Iraq Phase was to remove Saddam, enforce complience with UN Resolutions and support an emerging democratic Iraq. We have moved from "emerging" to "secure & stable".
Beyond those Goals there are still none.

The US has no War with Mr Sadr, or he'd be dead. That was decided, by US, years ago, now. The US has decided Mr Sadr can and should be part of the "new" Iraq.
Sorry if that bothers you.
Perhaps YOU should have advocated your position earlier, with more vigor.

12/01/2005 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Damn it, Tony, you're OT. :)

But that Times piece really WAS too good to pass up.

The Times writes, "Substitute the Iraqi constitutional process for the Paris peace talks . . ."

And that's where this latest incantation of all-wars-are-Vietnam breaks down.

The United States, unlike in Paris, is not a party to the Iraqi constitutional process. Neither are the insurgents. The Consitution is not a negotiation to cease hostilities; nor does it deal with 'timetables' for American withdrawal. I could go on . . .

By incessantly trying to slam a square peg into a round hole, the Times sounds more and more like some geriatric crank who steers every conversation back to the same hobby-horse complaint.

12/01/2005 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

I suppose the battle of Iraq is won or lost to the extent to which it is not or is a contributor to the Islamic madness. There are several measures one could use, say five years after withdrawal: Is it serving as a jihadi incubator, as Afghanistan did (and the banlieues soon will)? Is it plagued by pathological conspiracy theories and hatred of the infidel, particularly Jews? Is consensual government holding?

I am cautiously optimistic that these questions will be answered the way the civilized world wants them to be. There was this extraordinary scene recently, a day or so after the "dungeon" with 174 prisoners was revealed. A senior Iraqi minister had to sit there and explain this, and take hostile questions from both Iraqi and foreign reporters. He looked just like a harried press secretary in any Western government, a scene familiar to all of us. We take this for granted, but it would've been unimaginable in any Arab country two years ago. I hope that enough Iraqis have now crossed the mental bridge to normalcy - they are turning their backs on indispensable strongmen, on suicide bombing, and the other repellent aspects of so much of the Muslim world.

It is true that there are still a seemingly limitless supply of people willing to car-bomb schoolchildren, but I sense that they speak for almost no one in Iraq other than unappeasable Sunni Arabs and foreign jihadis. The key question is whether the Irqi authorities can keep the portions of Iraq most prone to it from going nutty, and therefore creating the sorts of people who created 9/11. As others have pointed out, the idea that Arabs too can be consensually governed seems to be spreading, and unless you are a cultural pessimist (and I admit this is a respectable position), that is an environment where the jihad does not take root.

12/01/2005 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

If we manage to leave Iraq in the hands of competent Iraqi forces, capable of maintaining their own country's security, we will have acheived every goal set out at the beginning of the conflict.

Isn't that the very definition of victory?

Eventual withdrawal was always a stated goal. Only those who already held a predominantly negative view of our nation's intentions (both at home and abroad) would even consider an argument otherwise.

12/01/2005 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger NN said...

desert rat:

WWII did not end until the defeat of the Soviets in Germany in the 1990's.
Or was that a different WAR?


Now, that's revisionism, methinks :o)

Yes, pink Roosevelt's trust in Stalin was disastrous. You could argue that it would have been advantageous for the US to let Soviet Russia and Germany slug it out until none of them could stand, sending just as much material to keep the Soviets going, and then go in and pick up the pieces. Another great "what if" piece of history.

The Soviets--brutal, repressive, murderous--could nonetheless be counted on to have a certain measure of self-preservation.

President Ahmajinedad (sp?) on the other hand says he felt a halo of light around himself when he spoke in the UN recently. Earth calling the president ...?

12/01/2005 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I think we should focus not on the definition of victory but on the definition of defeat.
We will emerge victorious in Iraq when there is no doubt from anyone, anywhere that both the Batthists and the Islamofacists in Iraq have been soundly and decisively defeated.

12/01/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

desret rat said . . .
"The US has no War with Mr Sadr, or he'd be dead. That was decided, by US, years ago, now. The US has decided Mr Sadr can and should be part of the "new" Iraq.
Sorry if that bothers you.
Perhaps YOU should have advocated your position earlier, with more vigor. "

This claim, if viewed through the promise of a "liberal" Iraq", is obscene. How many US soldiers died in Sadr's two uprisings? What does Sadr want for Iraq and for relations with the US? What happened to the warrant for his arrest? Should all of this simply be forgotten as Sadr helps to govern? The US may not have a war with the Sadr but he certainly has a war with us. Al-Qaida declared war on the US in 1996 remember.

Anyone claiming victory in Iraq needs to take a very close look at the Shiite house that is the dominant political force in the assembly. Is this a "competent" government, a "functional" democracy?

12/01/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Wretchard wrote, and I think it is a very important point about War:

“Only a nation that never felt real subjection could attempt the luxurious act of deciding whether a given set of events was a 'victory' or a 'defeat'.

Snip

Real defeat, not just defeat in newspaper headlines, is a pitifully obvious thing.”

I think you make a very important point here. We are not, nor have we ever been in jeopardy. So, what are we trying to accomplish in Iraq?

We are trying to colonize Iraq. We are trying to install a government that reflects our mores, our traditions; a secular, democratic, government with an independent judiciary and protections for minority rights. Is this not like the British in India trying to bring enlightenment to the heathen? I grant there are differences but is this not our goal?

Success would be, as the Bush administration now maintains, that we stand down as they stand up. Are we not on a fool’s errand here? Lofty goals, and we clearly have not attained them, nor does it look possible to achieve these goals through military occupation. In fact there is a serious downside risk in setting back any move to democracy, in both Iraq and the Middle East in general. We have not created a good example in Iraq.

So, as to a direct answer to the question; we’ve not won the war in Iraq, nor are we likely to.

12/01/2005 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Rizalist said...

Did anyone here happen to read pages 7 and 8 of the Plan for Victory: Our Strategy is Clear: We will help the Iraqi people build a new Iraq with a constitutional, representative government that respects civil rights and has security forces sufficient to maintain domestic order and keep Iraq from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. To achieve this end, we are pursuing a comprehensive approach that involves the integrated efforts of the entire United States Government, the Iraqi government, and Coalition governments, and encourages the active involvement of the United Nations, other international organizations, and supportive regional states."

I cannot see how any strategy can be clear that involves the UN. And if you read it again, it sounds an awful lot like the strategy of France and Germany before the invasion of Iraq when the thing was in the UN. Thanks if this has been covered already. Just thought I'd point it out. At least it's not Cut and Run. It's Cut and UN.

12/01/2005 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Mannning said...

One of the unspoken objectives of our Iraqi strategy, I believe, is the establishment of a few permanent bases in Iraq for US military forces. If this does not happen because of Iraqi insistance on total removal of US forces, then we have lost this "square" to a Muslim majority, and may have to repeat the war all over again some time in the future.

We do have Kuwait to base ourselves in, and several Gulf states, as well, but having a potent US force and logistics near Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia and their oil fields is even better.

It seems to me to be important for us to insist on the bases, and to show force to get them established on a permanent basis if necessary.
This would set up a home for the US in the middle of the ME for the next half-century--perhaps for 60,000 well armed and well provisioned men.

12/01/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Rizalist of Earth said...
"Did anyone here happen to read pages 7 and 8 of the Plan for Victory: Our Strategy is Clear: We will help the Iraqi people build a new Iraq with a constitutional, representative government that respects civil rights and has security forces sufficient to maintain domestic order and keep Iraq from becoming a safe haven for terrorists."

This is where Bush's hollow rhetoric clashes with his putative democratic goals. Sadr has representation in the Iraqi assembly, is probably headed for more seats in the next elections, and has killed scores of our nation's finest soldiers and marines. The largest party in Iraq's governing coalition, SCIRI, has its own militia, the Badr brigade that was trained by the Iranian padrasan. They're the one's who were operating the torture house that our soldiers were so recently horrified to discover.

If democracy is a solution to terrorism then what has happened to India? No terrorism there, right? Even Iran has Presidential and Majlis (parliamentary) elections -- have they given up terrorism? There can be no "victory" by any criteria unless American conservatives get real about where we are in Iraq and how we got there. The Neocon era of illusion may be repudiated, but it is not over.

12/01/2005 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

Can we only claim victory if everything goes our way? Yes, Sadr will likely participate in the government of Iraq. Yes, he doesn't like us. Yes, his band has killed US soldiers. All of these things and others, stated here by respondents, are true.

I don't believe they bar the way to victory. I don't believe our goal is, or should be, to create a 'colony' in Iraq, or a government in our own image. Whatever form of democratic government is created there has to work for Iraq. Resemblance to our own society as a whole does not necessarily apply to this goal. It's like trying to shoehorn a square peg in a round hole. One sure way to defeat is to tie ourselves to an unacheiveable goal such as this.

The mere presence of a democratic government in Iraq, even if the various religious sects are strongly represented, and even if they don't always agree with us, accomplishes the goal of showing the various countries of the middle east that a democratically elected government can work for them too. Moreover, it's all the administration pledged to accomplish in the first place

12/01/2005 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

yashmak,

I guess we could lower the bar to saying we would accept simple democratic peaceful transitions of power. They hold elections, the government changes, and the army doesn't overthrow the government. Would that be acceptable? Iran fits that model now.

12/01/2005 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

Wretchard -

It was Germanicus Caesar who returned to Germany. Julius Caesar preceded Augustus, who was emperor at the time that Varus lost the legions in the forest.

(I must have read I,Claudius about 20x)

12/01/2005 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

ash:
If we don't leave it up to the Iraqis to choose their own leadership, then how have we left them with a democracy in the first place?

We have stated the goal of providing them with a democratically elected government. We will have to rely on the relatively secular society of Iraq to ensure that it doesn't become another fundamentalist theocracy. And even should that come to pass, and religious groups hold most of the power, if that's what the people want so be it. We promised them the chance to choose their leadership, not a chance to choose their leadership only if it be to our liking.

12/01/2005 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

yashmak,

we've done that. Should we claim vicotry and leave?

12/01/2005 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

ash:
Certainly not, because one of our other stated goals, that the fledgeling democracy there be able to stand on its own two feet, is not yet accomplished.

12/01/2005 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

yashmak & ash:

Could you agree that if the democracy in Iraq remains intact and if the democratically elected government is and remains dedicated to ousting terrorists and eliminating violence from their country that it would be a US victory?

Those are big "if's" and we could argue about a time frame at length.

12/01/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

enscout said...
yashmak & ash:

"Could you agree that if the democracy in Iraq remains intact and if the democratically elected government is and remains dedicated to ousting terrorists and eliminating violence from their country that it would be a US victory? "

And what of Shiite sponsored terrorism and violence? Sadr has ties with Hezbollah and has already shown he can kill Americans. Rumsfeld complained three months ago about potent new IEDs coming in from Iran . . . were they delivered to the Sunni insurgents, or the Shi'a? My guess is the Shi'a.

As with Hezbollah in Lebanon, democratic representation is no guarantee against terrorism, or its export to other countries. If we want to stop Iraq from becoming a safehaven from ALL terrorism, then the US must crush the Shiite theocratic parties and their militia, not support them in their quest for democratic legitimacy. The Bush doctrine is straining from a cognitive dissonance that it ignored for too long.

12/01/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

reocon,
That is a good point, but crushing these other groups could result in a backlash with the rest of the Iraqi public, generating more of a problem than Sadr currently poses.

The art to this will be in finding the balance that creates the most stability. Remember the old addage, that you can tell a good compromise when none of the parties involved are completely satisified with it.

enscout,
Yes, I would consider that a victory.

12/01/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Harkonnendog said...

If Iraq is a democracy and ally 5 years from now we won.

12/01/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Victory is measured by results. Results are measured by how well they comport with our Strategic Objectives.

The context for victory is the War on Terror.

If we went into Iraq to make the world comfortable with American power, we have failed. If we went into Iraq to make peace with our enemy, we have failed. If we went into Iraq to stabilize the region, we have failed.

If we went into Iraq to destablize the troublesome status quo, we have succeeded. If we went into Iraq to validate Saddam's disarmament, we have succeeded. If we went into Iraq to force Al'Qaeda's ideology to compete with ours--in reality and not just in the abstract--we have succeeded.

If we went into Iraq to deter nation-states from harboring or supplying terrorists, I think we have succeeded. The message sent to the world is this: if America is attacked, the attackers will be hunted down and destroyed, and the next biggest actor on our shit list will be destroyed, too. Being an enemy of the United States is much more hazardous after OIF. Perhaps not in general, but in the specific situation of "America having been attacked", I think everybody has digested the imperatives to not be involved, not even tenuously, and not be coy about cooperating with American demands afterwards.

Iran's ability to manipulate the current situation to their advantage is predicated on America not getting attacked again, and I think they know this. If we are attacked again on our soil, we will see a massive system reboot of American resolve and all the data our enemies think they learned from our debate on Iraq will be wiped clean, and our user interface with the rest of the world will revert back to America v.2001. America v.2005 is only possible in an environment of smug safety. The fact that we have gotten to v.2005 is itself a victory of sorts.

People around the world may say that OIF has demonstrated American lack of resolve in staying to finish the job. Good, fine, let them believe that; that is not the only lesson of the war.

To leaders of enemy nation-states that may have thoughts of helping the terrorists, the biggest lesson of the Iraq war was Saddam being dragged out of the spider hole and put on trial. Yes, we may not stay behind next time to install democracy. We may instead just use bombers or special forces and let the pieces fall where they may. Our tactics on the ground may have been modified post-OIF, but I think we have demonstrated pretty definitively that, if we are attacked, we can and will take you out.

It is a small comfort for a dictator waiting to be hanged that America is having trouble stabilizing a country he no longer runs. I think I am not the only one to have noticed this.

12/01/2005 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

yashmak,

But what does it mean for a democracy to stand on its own two feet?

They vote in a government, that government passes a law that Islamic clerics shall vet all candidates for future elections. The army, like in Iran, acts at the behest of the government. They are standing on their own two feet, they vote, they have democracy, however imperfect in our view.

My point is this. We are trying to colonize the place. We are not accepting whatever they choose, we have many conditions. This is a game we will not win militarily.

12/01/2005 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger johnh said...

Q: Under what circumstances would our departure from Iraq indicate our military defeat?

A: While there is more than one way to be militarily defeated, one sure way is to abandon the battlespace while leaving our enemy in control of it; that that would constitute a military defeat.

This is why Bush’s plan is designed it yield a military victory: it denies the al Qaeda death squads any opportunity to gain control of the battlespace by withholding the withdrawal of American forces until they can be replaced by Iraqi forces.

This is also why Murtha’s proposal was simply a way to snatch a military defeat from the jaws of victory: his proposal to withdraw American forces without regard to the tactical situation would have resulted in the al Qaeda death squads in control of their areas .

12/01/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Aristides wrote:

"but I think we have demonstrated pretty definitively that, if we are attacked, we can and will take you out"

I fail to understand why you persist in the fiction that Saddam attacked us on 911. Similariy your whole argument about the war in Iraq is based on the war on terror, this is another conflation. They are two entirely different wars. Sure Al Qaeda has seen fit to join in in Iraq but that is it, they've joined the fray after it has started and they are relatively minor players in the Iraq war (less then 6% or so of the fighters). Al Qaeda is also a relatively minor player in the world of terrorism (bigger proportionally maybe, then in Iraq). Terrorism is certainly a problem, especially when practised by suicide bombers, but this in not something we can fight in a traditional military sense, occupying territory ect. and the Iraq war is not a war against a tactic.

12/01/2005 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Military violence is an end in itself. No state acts for the purpose of showing universal brotherly love. If there is to be a rule of law, such law must be enforced by the threat of force. If such force is threatened for 12 years, or so, and the state remains intransigent and uncooperative, then somebody with a big stick must be willing to met out the appropriate blows. The leftist meme seeks to defeat the certainty of punishment, tempting states to work towards more belligerent acts of brinksmanship. Dr. Strangelove would be delighted that the left has worked to diminish the probability of consequences. It likens the odds that the conflict will be concluded with a global thermal nuclear war.

12/01/2005 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq describes the enemy as mainly rejectionist, Saddamist and terrorist. Everybody's keeping track of US dead but is there any source on the web who keeps the tally on the number of attacks and who the perpetrator was? This could be indicative of trends within Iraq: Sunni-Shi'a violence, frequency of foreign terrorist attacks.

12/01/2005 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

On the question of perception and sales, one must ask who the target audience is. Are we trying to sell democracy, decency, and the rule of law in the Middle East to ourselves, or to Iraqis and the other potential cannon fodder of Al'Qaeda?

The answer may be both, but one is much more important to our cause than the other. The lefties from San Francisco and Europe may be selling, but it is worth noticing that the market for democracy is bullish in the Middle East.

It is also worth noting that the past two years have demonstrated that public opinion over here can exist independent of the facts on the ground. I cannot imagine the same goes for public opinion in Iraq, and that is the center of gravity where victory will be defined (for the particular objective of Middle Eastern political revolution).

When the target demographic directly experiences the consequences of the facts on the ground, propaganda by deed is sufficient. For those whose opinions are only affected by TV spots and advertising campaigns, yes, we need to do better marketing.

12/01/2005 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Ash,

There are two kinds of people here. One sees America using the attacks of 9/11 to settle some longstanding family business and feels embarrassed on behalf of the world. The other sees this Godfather-like montage, pumps his fist, and thinks, "Good-riddance."

There is no evidence that Saddam was involved in 9/11. There was ample evidence that Saddam had to go, and his demise is an absolute good for the world. I don't wring my hands over his poor luck, and I don't worry myself to death over how it looks to our faux-allies. A world without Saddam is a world less insane, and that is enough for me.

Whichever person you are, you must agree that OIF was an explicit lesson in why it is a bad idea to be a strategic enemy of the US after we have been attacked.

Kerry says our credibility in the world has diminished, which is an odd thing to assert. When one does what one says he is going to do, he may diminish his likeability, but it is beyond my ability to comprehend how such a one has hurt his crediblity.

Saddam was part of the War on Terror because the lesson imparted by his demise greatly affects the War on Terror. Can't you see that?

12/01/2005 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Aetius said...

Perception is everything in the short run.
And, Murtha is a politician.

So he speaks the speech of soldiers redeploying (simply a mimic of the Defense Dept)
And then warps it in a Democratic party anti-war label.
He is now out in front of the parade and can claim to be leading it.
For Bush to "withdraw" with a victory in Iraq becomes a loss in the US, so will go Democratic party spin. But in history, he ultimately wins.

Just think how positive and nostalgic everyone will be concerning this period after President H. Clinton melts Tehran & Bushehr with atomic weapons because of the mushroom cloud over pick one or two - London, Paris, Tel Aviv.

12/01/2005 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

To nit-pick, Ash, Saddam did attack us on 9/11. His was the only country in the world to fire on our planes during the fateful day.

If you can find where I ever said Saddam attacked us in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, or had anything to do with it, I'll give you a quarter.

12/01/2005 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

In addition to the deterrent effect of taking out Saddam and the Taliban, democracy and freedom in Iraq will add another great victory for us in the War on Terror. Even more so now that Al'Qaeda took the bait and rose to the challenge.

I think the burden of persuasion, Ash, is on the person who insists Iraq is not part of the War on Terror.

Think nuance.

12/01/2005 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

the radical:

You hit an important point that I blew over: democracy (as I use the term) presupposes liberty (or freedom as you said). Thx for the refinement or, dare I say, nuance.

12/01/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Aristides:

I'm convinced.

Please send resume to: 1900 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC

enscout :)

12/01/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Oops, try 1600 PA Ave.

Unless you want to work for the Int'l Monetary Fund??

12/01/2005 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Art V said...

I know it's a cliche, but the recent 'fightback' by the Bush administration has really triggered a nakedly partisan (or rather nakedly anti-warSlashBush) response from the media. I'm f***ing sick of it. Why can't we have some damn balance??

12/01/2005 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

ash:
"They vote in a government, that government passes a law that Islamic clerics shall vet all candidates for future elections."

That's one possible outcome, by no means the only one. If we considered an action a defeat unless there was no possibility of a negative eventuality arising at some point in the future, victory would be altogether impossible to acheive in ANY venture.

I believe that what we are attempting to do is sell democracy to the middle east, to the Islamic world, and we want them to buy into it. We cannot afford to force only those forms of democracy we most admire down their throats. If we do, it won't take root. They won't buy, and your predictions of a theocracy arising in Iraq becomes even higher, perhaps splitting the chances evenly with the equally unnatractive option of a military dictatorship.

You see a possible negative outcome in giving the Iraqis the chance to choose for themselves, and I see the only alternative to two likely negative outcomes if we don't.

As aristides has said, I am also of the opinion that we have already enjoyed minor victories as a direct result of our actions in Iraq. Our direct action to enforce the threats and rhetoric put forth by the leaders of the western world proved beyond a doubt the credibility of a threat by the USA to take action. The attempt by Libya to placate the west, movement towards democratic elections in various other Islamic nations, etc. etc., all of these things seem to stem directly or indirectly from following through with decisive action, rather than an endless flow of words.

12/01/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Aristides said...

"I don't wring my hands over his [Saddam's] poor luck, and I don't worry myself to death over how it looks to our faux-allies. A world without Saddam is a world less insane, and that is enough for me."

This is a good example of the fallacy that an authoritarian country/region will improve if only we topple the dictator. It neglects the end-state of the regime for simplistic justice and fairy tale endings. Yes, often the overthrow of a dictator is a precondition for advancement, but it does not guarantee the end-state in and of itself. Russia lost its Czar; Iran its Shah; Haiti its Duvaliers and Zaire its Mobutu. Are these cases, aristides, "less insane"? Do you subscribe to historicism?

12/01/2005 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

"Aristides said...
In addition to the deterrent effect of taking out Saddam and the Taliban, democracy and freedom in Iraq will add another great victory for us in the War on Terror. Even more so now that Al'Qaeda took the bait and rose to the challenge."

Have the elections in Iran brought freedom? How is Russia doing in its inevitable progression towards liberal democracy? Are the Palestinians who voted in a Hamas municpality excersizing their "freedom"?

Does an Iraqi state run by pro-Iranian, pro-Hezbollah, Shiite theocratic parties like SCIRI, Da'wa, the Sadrist, Fadilah and the Iraqi Hezbollah mean an American victory in the WOT?
Tell me, Aristides, what does SCIRI stand for?

12/01/2005 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Reocon, you are picking on the wrong correspondent in Aristides, 10,000 words will come your way soon.

In general, Belmont is not a bicker blog, unlike most others.

But, the "elections" under the mullahcracy in Iran are like voting for the Mayor of Vatican City.

12/01/2005 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Iraq will be, at best, the first, best opportunity for a Muslim-majority country to become democratic. The result will determine the compatiblity of the two (democracy and Islam).

I'm usually an optimist, but I really don't believe the two are congruent.

The thing, after victory or defeat has ultimately been determined by US in Iraq, that can be said with confidence is that without our intervention, democracy would not have been given an opportunity to flourish; that we invested, amongst much else, the lives of our heroes and patriots to effect positive change for an oppressed majority, and in the end, we were the last best hope for the liberty from tyranny for millions in the greater ME.

12/01/2005 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

reocon
We won the moment Saddam no longer had capacity to arm terrorists. That was the objective of the Iraqi intervention.
Read the Law that Authorized the Use of Force in Iraq, it explains the Goals quite clearly.

You seem to have a challenge with the Shia in Iraq and their past and present connections with Iran and the Government there.

The US is not at war with the Mohammedans in Iran. They may well be at War with US.
While the US has imposed econonic sanctions on Iran, there is no embargo, blockade or state of war between the two countries.

While I believe Iran is the major terror sponsor and should be taken to task for their past and present behaviour, that does not mean, however that military action will be required or is unavoidable.

US Iranian relations has no bearing on the conflict in Iraq, nor victory there. Occasional roadside ambushes and explosives not withstanding, those being militarily insignifigent actions.

With US it takes more then winks and nods, or 'understandings' to move the Nation. The US is still ruled by Law, and that, with US is all important. Read the Authorization.

We only 'lose' if the goal posts keep moving. As in picking their Representitives for them. We could have just handed the country to Mr Chalabi two years ago if we had wanted to do that.
Elections and free representation that was what we have defined Victory as. Not the quality of the candidates.

12/01/2005 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

reocon,

d'Rat is right. You need to allow Iraqis to make their own mistakes. We can only watch and hope that after such mistakes there will still exist some kind of a democratic infrastructure to allow for a political shift, going from a highly pronounced Islamist agenda to one less so. But it's really up to the Iraqis.

12/01/2005 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Perception management - I call it critical thinking and I blame digital technology for the 'perceived' decline in the skill set - and only partly in jest.

The digital tools permit lightening fast production - the kind of repetitive calculation or motion that was prohibitively time-consuming in the past. Now it is easy, fast, - and almost hypnotically addictive. Look outside the office or the factory production warehouse to the vast number of people - of all ages - parked in front of the slot machines in grocery stores and malls - literally obsessed with the repetitive engagement. Not to mention the hand-held Game-Boy things.

Digital production exerts a similar hypnotic effect in the workplace. Those chores/assignments that cannot be easily put into production mode tend not to get done. My suggestion - and this is a blatant free-association take-off from Leo's comment in another thread - is that the fixation with the button-pushing of production has encroached on the capacity for critical thought, which is more difficult, requires more practice, and, as suggested by another commenter elsewhere, often benefits from the psychological feet being closer to the ground - which is to say, incentivized by real fear of real loss, which is no longer the norm for many/most people in western countries.

Critical thinking is more than distinguishing objective information from subjective opinions/impressions. It is a complicated form of cognition that integrates the objective/subjective distinctions with judgment, instinct, empiricism and memory, conscience, biases, and beliefs.

We don't see as much of it as we used to. Political correctness and talking points are just media forms of mass production.

12/01/2005 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Desert Rat, I'm curious, if it is as you state, we've won, why do we need stay there? If victory is already ours, who the hell are we fighting with?

12/01/2005 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

desert rat said...
"reocon
We won the moment Saddam no longer had capacity to arm terrorists. That was the objective of the Iraqi intervention."

Arm them with what exactly? If "capacity" was the criteria then we won in 1994.

As to a war with Iran, I'm sure you recall Rumsfeld complaining two months ago about Iran sending IEDs into Iraq to kill our soldiers. Who then has the "capacity" to arm terrorists? "Capacity to arm terrorists" is a nonsensical criteria for victory in war, otherwise we'd be at war with Pakistan over A.Q. Khan.

"US Iranian relations has no bearing on the conflict in Iraq, nor victory there. "

Really? Who trained SCRIRI's militia, the Badr brigades? Where did Da'wa seek sanctuary during Saddam's repression? For whom was Ahmed Chalabi recently accussed of spying?

"Elections and free representation that was what we have defined Victory as. Not the quality of the candidates."

Read the President's latest speech. Bush says the mission will be complete "when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy," and he adds, "I will settle for nothing less than complete victory." That is a very high standard. In addition, the President and his underlings have repeatedly expounded a doctrine of inverted Trotskyism, that is democratic globalism. Iraq is not just about elections, but the export of a bright and fungible form of liberal democracy throughout the ME. Just read some of the uncritical amens added by commentators on this blog. That is an extraordinary standard for victory. I submit that a government of Shiite clericalism (a distinct possibility given current parliamentary composition, present party tickets and the crappy constitution) will not be an attractive model for the Sunni majority ME.

"We only 'lose' if the goal posts keep moving."

Funny, you start with claiming we've already won ("capacity to arm terrorists")and then conclude with moving goal posts. If the goal is now what the President calls "complete victory" then the posts have moved out of the stadium.

12/01/2005 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Emphasis said...

>>According to that school of thought reality is fundamentally created by news coverage. I don't think that's right. But I may be wrong.<<

If you read the report by General Fred C. Weyand, United States Army Chief of Staff dated April 4, 1975, you will note that after we left Vietnam on April 1973, the ARVN (South Vietnam’s army) continued fighting against North Vietnamese divisions which were better armed and supplied than they were, the report states in part that immediately after the signing of the Paris Agreement on January 27, 1973, the North Vietnamese began a build-up that included among other things, rebuilding the Ho Chi Minh Trail into a major all weather supply artery, building pipelines extending 330 miles into South Vietnam, quadrupling their field artillery, greatly increasing their anti-aircraft capability, sending six times as much armor into South Vietnam as they had in January 1973, and increasing their troop strength by almost 200,000 men. All of these actions were in violation of the Paris Agreement.

By contrast, the US ignored the violations, and did not fulfill its obligations to maintain South Vietnamese equipment and materiel levels as was authorized under the Agreement. Thus, their ground ammo declined by 30% and shortages of fuel and spare parts curtailed operations of the South Vietnamese Air Force by 50%.

We were not defeated in VietNam, but the press coverage created that perception and it then went on to provide cover for our failure to live up to our commitments. It is harder now a days to provide this cover do to the existence of blogs, cable and specially radio, things which did not exist or had the credibility and/or audience that they presently enjoy, however, if you consider what the press has done with what is unquestionably a success in Iraq, you wonder.

If every night when you get home after a hard day’s work your wife meets you at the door complaining about the kids, the bills, the neighbors, your salary, your mother etc., one day you will not be back. This is the equivalent of what our mainstream media does to us on a daily basis; there are never any good news from Iraq, it is all doom and gloom, so don’t be surprised when the people decide they no longer want to go home.

12/02/2005 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

reocon
How the President defines Victory and how I do are worlds apart.

We are not at war with the Badr Brigades.
I have often said, here, that the militias would have to be disarmed for the Iraqi Government to have a monopoly of force.
But monopoly of force for the Iraqi Government does not equate to Victory in Iraq for US.

The President's speach, only in that he begins to address the issue of Victory is important.

The Goals of the War are set out in the Authoriization of Use of Force. Those Goals have been fulfilled, we've won.

If we add the disabling of the Badr Brigade to the list of Goals, you've moved the Goal Posts.

Defeat of Iran is not part of the war. Any more than the defeat of the Soviets was part of WWII.
If infiltration of a border was cause for war, we'd be in Mexico City

12/02/2005 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Karl Maher said...

I had similar thoughts in anticipation of Bush's speech.

12/02/2005 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

reocon says: Arm them with what exactly? If "capacity" was the criteria then we won in 1994.

I said: If we went into Iraq to validate Saddam's disarmament, we have succeeded.

There is quite a difference between saying "Saddam has no weapons", and saying "He never will." OIF validated the latter. 1994 was a singular point in time. It was not going to last forever. 2003, on the other hand, will (for the narrow point that Saddam is permanently disarmed).

One must be able to hold several thoughts at once to properly digest the import of everything that has, will, and might happen in Iraq and the broader War on Terror. Our Strategies and Objectives must be analyzed in layers, some parallel, some intersecting, if one is to have a firm grasp of our Geostrategic Position in 2005.

reocon said: Have the elections in Iran brought freedom? How is Russia doing in its inevitable progression towards liberal democracy? Are the Palestinians who voted in a Hamas municpality excersizing their "freedom"?

While I enjoy a straw-man argument as much as the next guy, you must see the differences between Iraq and the examples you give (not to mention the difference between elections and freedom--after all, Saddam had elections, yet something tells me these latest ones are of a different kind). One large difference between your sample group and Iraq might be, oh, I don't know, 150,000 American troops on the ground in Iraq?

Let's stick to comparing apples and apples, if that's alright, and not get lost in the jungle of genus-swapping. The apples we are analyzing have these characteristics: US invasion, US occupation, US rehabilitation, US departure. While there are plenty of sub-traits, these will suffice for our comparative purposes.

I think you will find it difficult to find more than a couple historical failures if you limit your research to the above criteria. Empirically speaking, probabability is on the side of angels in Iraq, if we can stay and see it through. (I mean, it's almost like there is an innate desire in humans to be free from oppression or something.)

As to your comment about the possible negative make-up of a democratic Iraq, your examples surely encompass a worst-case scenario for success, but a success nonetheless.

The problem in the Middle East was that local oppression forced the people to look outside the polis for relief from frustration. Islam, Jew-hatred, and anti-Americanism were the only players in town for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised. Now freedom, self-determination and equality under the law compete in that arena, and they are not untested nor unworthy on the field of battle. A better dynamic than before, yes?

And yes, whatever comes after Saddam will be better and less insane. To argue otherwise is sophism.

12/02/2005 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Back to the top, Feingold's points sound strong but they are built on a quick shift of words: Al Qaeda for Iraq.

The speech was about Iraq, since 9/11 the Prez has been clear that we are fighting a single, amorphous enemy around the world.

Feingold is going straight back to the "chew gum and think at the same time" argument. This false premise fatally weakens his points.

So, first Feingold is the one who makes the mistake, second F is the one who accuses the Prez of his own mistake, third he trumpets the Firetrucks Cause Fires logic that the Dems apply to terrorism, fourth, he went back and pointed to his original Deception that the Prez is ignoring Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Sorry, just had to rebut that bit of circular infantilism.

12/02/2005 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger proceso said...

Excellent discussion. Several of these posts have crystallized for me long-held suspicions re our “strategy” in the GWOT.

1. We have been making this up as we go along. Nothing really wrong with that, since we don’t have a lot of experience with this sort of thing.

2. The initial strategic objectives were clear: work with friendly governments to root out the Al-Qaeda network, disrupt or destroy unfriendly governments suspected of sponsoring, harboring or making common cause with Al-Qaeda.. Demonstrate that we are not to be messed with, as so eloquently expressed by Aristedes.

3. Afghanistan was the “easy” win: plenty of local allies of convenience, strategically isolated, no serious consequences if the country descended into chaos, noncontroversial links to Al-Qaeda. A good ice-breaker.

4. Iraq comes next: known bad actor, known intent to possess WMD, local allies in the Kurds and Shiites (thanks for the hot tip, Chalabi!) Initial objectives: decapitate, destroy state power, and gain a location for defensible long-term military presence (per Mannning) to enforce what might be called the Pax Aristedes on the ME. Yes, Sen. Feingold, we also get to play chess by plunking a queen down right on the middle of the board, daring all the pawns to come after us; we kill them in detail, without the bother of having to go out and look for them. So far, this is pretty damned smart for making this up as we go.

5. Now it gets messy: rather than just do it, we needed to sell it. And like Leo’s Oracle sales force, we WAY oversold it: existence of WMD, links to Al-Qaeda and 9/11, roses in the streets, you name it. User pushback is a bitch, and now we have to keep the users from de-installing.

6. Then it gets even messier. Rather than decapitate and retire to some safe spot in the Western desert, build a big, defensible base, wait to see how the Iraqis sort it out, and intervene when necessary, Colin Powell got to W: “If you break it, you own it”. “Hoo boy! Didn’t think about that.” I am guessing that the Cheney/Rumsfeld plan was essentially as I outlined, and the Powell/NYT crowd put a guilt trip on the president. The nation-building/democracy for Muslims objective was grafted on just about the time they put Gen.Garner on the plane home.

7. Then we disband the Iraqi security forces, and start from scratch. Probably necessary for nation building, but a huge distraction for a 100k highly-mobile force that was supposed to be in the desert by now. Of course we are now locked into overselling how fast we can rebuild and have Iraqis stand up as we stand down. Our forces are exposed and undermanned, and we spend the next 18 months seemingly chasing our tails. However, local commanders start experimenting, and eventually they come up with the strategy that the president unveiled yesterday.

8. The good news is that this strategy has been working all year, and like all good strategies was put into place before it was put on paper. Now the sales force has something we can sell the hell out of.

9. So, after considerable delay, the Iraqis are standing up in force, and we are getting ready to decamp to the desert. Sounds like a fairly typical Oracle installation to me. And just maybe, if Evan is right, the extra expense, to say nothing of the blood spilled, will be worth the delay. But, as harsh as it sounds, a stable democracy is not a necessary condition for victory; contained chaos is all we require.

10. The president can’t set a timetable for total withdrawal because we aren’t leaving. Once the casualties abate, much of the steam will go out of the debate, and Iraq will bump Afghanistan off page A18. We won’t be an occupying force because we are not in the Iraqi’s faces in the cities and because the Kurds want us there and will exercise a veto to keep us there. Deep down, both the Shiites and the Sunnis want us there as well, because we will on occasion reach out and touch the Baathists and the Badr Brigade, as well as enforce border security.

11. Meanwhile, we can influence events in Syria and Iran. That should be easy in Syria’s case, pretty damned hard in Iran’s case. I don’t believe full scale invasion is in the cards. But the presence of 60K+ troops, naval assets and killer technology might be enough to convince the mullahs, politicians and maybe even citizens to restrain their nut-job president.. Again, not a bad strategy for making it up on the fly.


Sorry for the bloviation, but the writing process helped me, and maybe the end result will help someone else.

12/02/2005 04:58:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger