Tuesday, December 13, 2005

On the eve of the Iraqi elections

Readers may want to listen to an NPR broadcast describing what will probably be heavy turnout of voters in Fallujah and throughout the Sunni triangle. Or read a post by Captain Ed called Has The War Turned The Corner ... At Home?. Alastair Macdonald of Reuters now talks about what experts foresee may be irritants of long term US basing agreements with the new Iraqi government. Closer to the ground the Mesopotamian tells us which candidate he will probably vote for, and why, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The discussion has shifted almost unnoticed from the question of whether the US will win in Iraq, a goal recently denounced as impossible by Howard Dean, to a debate about the consequences following it.

Some pundits will now qualify their past analysis to say that predictions America would be defeated in Iraq did not really mean a military defeat like Vietnam, when NVA tanks rammed down the presidential palace gates in Saigon, but a more subtle political defeat, still certain, yet to come. One of the nice things about discussing post-modern warfare is that definitions of defeat and victory have become so elastic that the one may be impersonated by the other. Yet historical revisionism cannot amend the fact that once doubt has entered into the church of defeat there is no return to perfect faith. Honest men of the Left must recognize that the US might actually have already won the military battle, a horror in itself; and even worse, might actually win the political fight ahead.

David Ignatius of the Washington Post is still uncertain about the wider victory. But he is no longer doubtful, if he ever was, about the wisdom of the fight. He wrote, in his emotional salute to the recently assassinated Lebanese politician and writer Gebran Tueni:

The shame for America isn't that we have tried to topple the rule of the assassins but that we have so far been unsuccessful. ... it's still there, in the shadows of the shadows. George W. Bush gets a lot of things wrong, but he knows that he's fighting the assassins. On days like these, I'm glad that he is such a stubborn man. ... Amid the Bush administration's mistakes and lies about Iraq over the past three years, it's easy to lose sight of what is at stake in this battle. But this week brings it back to square one: It's about breaking the power of the assassins. ... People like the Tuenis who refuse to be intimidated should inspire the rest of us. So should the millions of Iraqis who will vote tomorrow. They are trying to break the culture of intimidation and death. Americans should feel proud to be on their side.

And what he feels, apart from pride I think, is a resurgence of hope. The most lasting achievement of enemy propaganda in Vietnam was to destroy hope; to eliminate any possibility of the conception of victory, so that in the end it became, as it did for Howard Dean, a bad word. For that reason it necessary to rescue the idea of victory from its fallen state, not to revive it as gaudy triumphalism, but to restore it as a real measure of achievement; and to recognize in it the fruit of sacrifice. There's a distance yet to go, but -- and let no one deny it -- a long road behind.


Blogger Das said...

Yet even Ignatius can't resist a dig at the administration's supposed "lies" and "mistakes". The anti-war mantra about Bush's "mistakes" has always bothered me; as though a close parallel world next door to ours exists, handily observable, and is changing its Middle East reality - an outsized, monumental task - and doing it smoothly compared to us. I have given up asking: don't Bush's opponents see the colossal nature of what we are doing?

Reading the memoirs of WWII Lt. General Albert Wedemeyer - he records in awful detail the blunders of his superiors, the waste, the shortsightedness and plain cockeyed decisions. Even so, you never get the sense that any of the players - high or low - questioned the goal of stomping out world fascism.

Unlike today.

12/14/2005 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger StrategyUnit said...

"Some pundits will now qualify their past analysis to say that predictions America would be defeated in Iraq did not really mean a military defeat like Vietnam, when NVA tanks rammed down the presidential palace gates in Saigon, but a more subtle political defeat, still certain, yet to come."

Wretched, I dont even see this coming around yet as a mainstream media opinion. When it does, I'll welcome the change - its an improvement.

Its too quick to say what is going on, in the context of the recent elections - we would have to wait a lot longer to see changes or even a shift from the media.

Let's not jinx this by calling it too early.

12/14/2005 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

The discussion has shifted almost unnoticed from the question of whether the US will win in Iraq, a goal recently denounced as impossible by Howard Dean, to a debate about the consequences following it. -Wretchard

Some would call that back-peddling, changing course in midstream, or just flip-flopping.

Where have I heard that from before? Murry, Slurry, oh that's right! Kerry.

Next, will come the "I could have done it better if I were in power." And, "If we only could have gotten the French onboard our boy's would have been home six month's ago."

12/14/2005 01:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Purple finger download:
Interview with a 77-year-old Iraqi woman who says, "Anyone who doesn't appreciate what America has done in Iraq ... what President Bush has done ... can go to hell."
hat tip hugh hewitt
Fineman and the audience ranged over a variety of topics, but the first question an audience member asked him was what is perhaps on the forefront of many minds today: The war in Iraq.

Answering a question about why a particular story about the war was not picked up by more news outlets, Fineman said that many American editors tend to think Americans care little about "foreign news."
"I think they are underestimating the American public
," Fineman said.

Much of the rest of the discussion focused on the news media and journalists themselves.
"The news about news is really bad," Fineman said.

. Fineman on the State of the News Media

12/14/2005 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger Barry Meislin said...

I don't know, Wretchard.

- to reject the idea of good vs. evil,
- to amplify our own faults (inventing them where they ain't) while downplaying, if not totally ignoring, all the faults of those we are fighting,
- to painstakingly ignore our own achievements and then categorically deny that they occur,
- to hysterically blame ourselves for acting and then hyper-moralistically blame ourselves for not being able to achieve anything,
- to dismiss all others who don't agree with us, especially those on the ground who insist that they're benefitting
- to advocate perfectionism, and express irritation when it seems not to occur,
- to question--and doubt--one's culture,
- to be nuanced,
- to insist on looking at "all sides of the question, really",
- to be even-handed,
- to repeat ad infinitum the soothing (and controlling) mantra of mea culpa,
- to be defeatist,

are all such obvious and irrefutable signs of intelligence, wisdom and sophistication, why should anyone dare--or want--to express anything else?

12/14/2005 02:04:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Owning up to one's faults and recognizing defects is generally accounted to be a plus. But it's equally important to recognize one's strengths. Not being able to check off items that are truly done is functionally equivalent to paralysis.

It's important to recognize what's gone right. And that is not, I don't think, equivalent to indulging in adolescent fantasy provided there's a factual basis for the claim. Even Tookie Williams is said to have put some runs up on the board. What runs has the US put up in Iraq? There would be some who'd argue none. Or even tote up a negative score. Honestly, is this so? Is it even possible? Just wondering.

12/14/2005 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Truth On the Ground .
By Ben Connable
Wednesday, December 14, 2005; Page A29 Washington Post

When I told people that I was getting ready to head back to Iraq for my third tour, the usual response was a frown, a somber head shake and even the occasional "I'm sorry." When I told them that I was glad to be going back, the response was awkward disbelief, a fake smile and a change of subject. The common wisdom seems to be that Iraq is an unwinnable war and a quagmire and that the only thing left to decide is how quickly we withdraw.
This false impression that has led us to a moment of national truth.
The proponents of the quagmire vision argue that the very presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is the cause of the insurgency and that our withdrawal would give the Iraqis their only true chance for stability. Most military officers and NCOs with ground experience in Iraq know that this vision is patently false. Although the presence of U.S. forces certainly inflames sentiment and provides the insurgents with targets, the anti-coalition insurgency is mostly a symptom of the underlying conditions in Iraq. It may seem paradoxical, but only our presence can buffer the violence enough to allow for eventual stability.

12/14/2005 02:36:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It's been argued for example, that the US has succeeded in creating an Iraqi state, only the wrong one: a Shi'ite dominated state or one that will ask America to leave or one that will ask America to stay despite the 'anger' of the Muslim street. Whatever. And this meme will run alongside arguments that a civil war is imminent; that Zarqawi (remember him) controls Iraq by night; that he and Sadr have a secret deal, etc.

Now one of these scenarios might be true but they can't be all simultaneously true since some are obviously in conflict with the rest. But in a debate over Iraq they all happily coexist like peas in a pod without apparent contradiction.

There's been a lot in the news lately about 'secret' CIA prisons about which practically every European government hosted. It's a situation which reminds me of a scene in Casablanca:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Renault: I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

A croupier comes out of the gaming room and hands Renault a roll of bills.

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Renault: Oh, thank you very much. Everybody out at once!

The audience could at least be relied on to spot the contradiction.

12/14/2005 02:38:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The tortured workings of the leftist MSM Journalist's mind were on display when Hugh Hewitt interviewed Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times columnist and journalist.
(Radioblogger.com will have transcript, it is currently down.)

"Agenda-driven partisans afraid to reveal their biases, even though these are obvious to anyone with eyes and ears,
quick to hurl slanders and accusations,
even quicker to take offense.

Incapable of moral judgment, and unwilling to do much other than posture.
Obstinate in admitting error, and prone to many of them as a result."

Truly obvious and irrefutable signs of intelligence, wisdom and sophistication!
(but are liberals ever really happy?)

12/14/2005 02:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

New Army Rules May Snarl Talks With McCain on Detainee Issue .
Pentagon officials are concerned that Senator John McCain would be furious at what could appear to be an effort to circumvent his push to ban cruel treatment.
. Kidnapping Study Tends to Fault U.S. Agents

12/14/2005 03:20:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

I love the old woman's quote, "they can go to hell."... Sounds like something W.'s fellow Texan, Ann Richards would say. Yeah Right!

This is a hopeful post but I can't allow myself to celebrate more than just a pause because I know that with each new day and the death of more American soldiers (God Bless them) comes a new round of Democrat lies, smears and propaganda. Throughout the war the Democrats have blown their own country apart with a constant barrage of bombast. With their little intifada, they have stoned the war effort and sniped at the President every step of the way. Sinking to partisan lows not seen in America since Vietnam, they have said and done the unforgivable and have ripped opened a wound to America that could fester for years after we are out of Iraq.

Democrats are wild donkeys of men.

12/14/2005 03:29:00 AM  
Blogger Milan Oskoryp Sr. said...

Greatness of GBW is his understanding
of continuation of 1400 years long war and serioznost situation if continuation of that long war will not be stopped by victory of west-democracy.Liberal ass licking to mullahs must not change our run to that historic goal.

12/14/2005 03:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

When did Capt Ed come up with
"Exempt Media,"
...and what's he mean by that?

12/14/2005 03:36:00 AM  
Blogger emdfl said...

Doug - exempt media as in exempt from the mccrap-finecrap "campaign finance reform" bill.

12/14/2005 03:49:00 AM  
Blogger Milan Oskoryp Sr. said...

Gates of Vienna, even Iraq are I am afraid only battles of war.So is Balkan.There are three walls against enemy of West.Those walls must be supported not destroyed/see Clintons`s stupid actions\.War on side of enemy should be taken as support of enemy and treason.One of these days this is going to be understood and dealing with"useful idiots",be it prezidents or farmers universit.profesors or whoever else will be seen as tiefs of horses of last century.Than sooner than more effective.

12/14/2005 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger EddieP said...

The defeatocrats have powerful people on their side. Both Zawahiri and Zarqawi are in lock step with the whiners, quitters and losers in the US Congress. US forces out now! Z&Z are unhappy that their plan to kill as many Iraqis as possible in their push to civil war keeps being impeded by those infidel americans.

The MSM is ever so slightly altering their positions as it becomes clear that Iraqis are more focused on their nation than on tribal or religious traditions. They want to be in the position of I told you so when they proven wrong over the next 12 to 24 months.

12/14/2005 05:28:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The really interesting thig, to me, is the Military and how it has handled the Iraqi conflict. This piece in the New Republic outlines in broad brush the Army's failings in developing a counter insurgency strategy, quickly.

Ny not adapting quickly to the altered conditions, post Saddam's defeat.

Lawrence F. Kaplan
Now I know doug you may not agree with Mr Kaplan, but he is saying what I was adament about a year ago.
It is a short coming in the tactics, not the overall strategy, that many have a challenge with.
A smaller, quicker, more Iraqi centric policy would have been more effective, it we had begun it sooner and whole heartedly.
Current results show the greater effectiveness of the Iraqis in dealing Iraq. The Iraqis are much better suited for fighting and winning a counter insurgency War in Iraq than the US Military is.

Mr Kaplan makes the point that in Vietnam, losing the War was due to losing the home front, but that the Army shied away from that responsibility then, as Mr Rumsfeld does today.

12/14/2005 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

The military fight is not over, yet. If the adminstration's strategy works, the Iraqi Security Forces will increasingly bear the brunt of it while some coalition forces depart the country as others patrol the borders in greater numbers or standby in 911 mode.

As for the political transition, we are at the proverbial end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. And many Americans will be shocked at the increasingly hard-to-ignore instances of blatantly antidemocratic behavior exhibited by this or that Iraqi faction.

Today, President Bush will give his fourth major address in two weeks on Iraq. If this speech is consonant with the previous ones, it will contain a heaping dose of reality. The administration is already briefing key congressman that we might not see the new Iraqi government in place until April 2006.

Next comes the negotiations over amending Iraq's constitution, a process that will require the accommodation of some Sunni Arab demands without alienating the Shiites and Kurds. File this one under the "doable but very difficult" category.

As all of this is going forward, the administration will be tempted to withdraw a token number of U.S. brigades ahead of the November 2006 U.S. congressional elections, if only to "demonstrate" to an increasingly skeptical American electorate that progress has been achieved. One does not have to be a geostrategic genius to forecast how certain Iraqi factions might react to this maneuver.

All that said, the Bush Administration is approaching the challenge with a greater degree of sobriety and realism than normal. Read the speech President Bush delivered in Philadelphia a few days ago. The optimism is still there, but warnings about the difficulties ahead abound.

It appears the administration has finally learned from its earlier failure to properly manage public expectations (i.e., "mission accomplished).

As for Ignatius, he doesn't write for the masses so much as he writes for his pals in the Washington power game, particularly in the Washington foreign policy establishment--an establishment that was never enthusiastic about the Iraq intervention to begin with and downright hostile to it in some cases (see the pushback from Scrowcroft, Brzezinksi, et al).

On the eve of the Iraq war, Ignatius waffled, saying the risks of the Iraq intervention were evenly balanced between success and failure. Translation: Opinion in offical Washington was mixed at the time. Over time, as the foreign policy establishment grew increasingly upset with the course of the war for various reasons, Ignatius dutifully reflected that sentiment in his op-eds.

When Ignatius opines about Iraq these days, he's not writing about the Iraq that really exists, but about the one that exists in the collective imagination of the people he hangs with on a daily basis. If he didn't say harsh things about the Bush Adminsitration's handling of the war, he'd probably get kicked out of the club.

At least he now understands the simple reality of the Middle East that President Bush figured out years ago: There are only two ways to make the Bad Men stop. Kill them. Or capture them. Diplomacy can only buy time.

The war on terror will not be won until the regimes in Syria and Iran are defeated. In this sense, we are at the end of the beginning in the Middle East. It's going to be a long war.

Damn, I'm late for work again.

12/14/2005 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

I'm proud and happy for the Iraqis. It is moving to see them voting and taking risks to do so.

12/14/2005 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

there are just a couple of things you fail to mention in your post.

The US is not at war with either Syria or Iran. The Congress refused, to date, to Authorize the use of Force in either locale.

Perhaps the US should be at war with either or both of those countries, but we are definately not, today.

Second you mention capturing the Bad men. US troops do that with regularity it Iraq. Theses detainees are released within months of capture, to return to the fight.
Mr Yon's vivid description of the shootings and maimimg of LTC Kurilla is illustrative of the Policy, but is not a isolated incident.
Again, a practicle example of the War we are not fighting in Iraq. When Prisoners are not held for the duration, but released to fight again.
You beat the drums of War, but are out of time with the Conductors choice of tunes.

12/14/2005 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Doug: First, I saw that Iraqi woman you quote on FNC yesterday evening. She was quite emphatic and was waving her purple finger in the air! Come to think of it, a good response to anti-war critics would be for Pres Bush, VP Cheny, the SECSTATE and SECDEF and so forth would be for them to dye their middle fingers purple and then display them in a suitable fashion.
Second, relative to your later post about the U.S troops serving as a buffer.
Consider this. The U.S. kept thousands and thousands of troops in Europe after WWII, and did so even after the Soviet threat had disintegrated.
The reason for keeping our troops in Europe after the USSR folded up was to "ensure stability."
When Pres Bush announced plans to pull troops out of Europe last year, a certain Mr. Kerry even said it was a bad idea.
So some would have us believe that we need troops to "ensure stability" of a peaceful Europe but not in a wartime Iraq?

12/14/2005 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I for one hope there is some sort of victory parade for these guys sooner than later. It's been well-observed that, even if we were proper imperialists, the country will have to revert to more or less complete Iraqi rule sooner than later; eventually we will pull back, and unless some horrendous thing happens tomorrow we will have midwifed a true national revolution from above that most Iraqis seem to be participating in sincerely. That is amazing, and is, with some caveats, exactly what we set out to do. I for one was pretty freaked out - sometime this summer I think, or maybe it was last summer. But I'm proud of our country, and I think we have done a very good thing indeed. And by all means - let us have a troop parade!

12/14/2005 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Desert Rate,

You are correct about the legality of the situation, but the reality is simple: We are in a protracted conflict with the regimes in Tehran and Damascus. Both are intensely opposed to the U.S. intervention in Iraq. Granted, both regimes are constrained by the reality of U.S. power in the region from escalating their opposition into open warfare.

However, both are backing or at least enabling surrogates to attack/harass U.S./coalition forces in Iraq. So, while we may not be legally at war with them, they are clearly at war with us, if only in the shadows.

And make no mistake about it, the aim of U.S. grand stratetgy is to engineer the greater economic and diplomatic isolation of both regimes. In a sense we are laying in a long siege while we sort out the Iraq situation.

And by making the bad men stop, I was thinking more of the Assads and Ahmadinejads than I was the rank and file guys, of which there seems to be an awfully large supply these days.

12/14/2005 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Our military has performed magnificently and deserves to be recognized. I think Bush has tried to do that.

As Wretchard has stated in previous posts, the engagement in Iraq is won militarily. The left continues to be in denial about our military success and they are heavily invested, with few exceptions (Leiberman), in viewing the whole expedition as an embarrassing defeat.

It will be interesting to see how the left spins these events. The survival of many (MSM) depends on their successful portrayal & definitions.

Perhaps conditions in Iraq will worsen when we eventually pull out. There is no guarantee that the Muslim influence there is at all compatible with a democratic governance.

Interesting times.

12/14/2005 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

the Syrians & Iranians, the Governments at least, are at War with US. That has been apparent for decades, now. The US is not at War with them.

The Rat that Roared
If it were not for their fleas, infected with the Black Death, the rats are almost comical.

Assad and the Mad Mullahs are only figure heads. Just as Politicians here are. There will always be another Mole popping up, needing to be whacked. Unless, of course, there is a Sea Change in Mohammedan culture.

The attempt to transplant Liberty into the heart of the Enemy is idealistic and noble.
I would not discount the words of the most successful tyrant of the 20th Century, though.
"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun".
Read that for the first time, well over 35 years ago, it was true then and it is true now.
It will be true in both Syria and Iran, we also can see the truth of it in Iraq.

12/14/2005 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger Super 6 said...

desert rat said...
"Second you mention capturing the Bad men. US troops do that with regularity it Iraq. Theses detainees are released within months of capture, to return to the fight.
Mr Yon's vivid description of the shootings and maimimg of LTC Kurilla is illustrative of the Policy, but is not a isolated incident."

Are there any good links to this info or is this something that will be repeated until it becomes the conventional wisdom? I am interested in some hard data if any is available. It may be worse than we think.....

12/14/2005 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

enscout: Following Desert Storm the MSM had to deal with a legacy of years of reports on "Our equipment does not work" and "Our troops can't fight."
They handled it very simply. They stopped doing those kinds of stories for a while.
The columnist Fred Reed said that he noted that the people who had done those kinds of stories were still to be found in journalism but they were not doing stories on the military any more. One would suspect that their reassigment was not voluntary.
Then other stories crept back in. First, it was the true horror of our attack on the Iraqis, the "highway of death" and the fact that we attached bulldozer blades to tanks and buried tens of thousands of Iraqis in the trenches where they were positioned. Our equipment no longer failed to work; it worked too well, was too deadly.
Then there was the failed Shia uprising to report on. Not one seemed to think to mention that if the Highway of Death they found so horrible had extended all the way to Baghdad, then the Shia uprising would not have been defeated.
Then there was Gulf War Syndrome; our troops were not heroes, they were victims.
But, like Saddam, the MSM never really recovered from the blow dealt them by Desert Storm.
Ignoring their own false reporting and trying to change the subject worked only to satisfy themselves.
They will do the same thing this time. And once again they will never quite recover - except in their own small minds.

12/14/2005 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

prior to the Iraqi Constitutional Referredum 1000's of Sunni detainees were released.
It also occured, enmass, during the past summer, '05.

I assume if you google it you'd find any number of stories, about the releases, not the consequences to US troops of those recycled Insurgents.
The Insurgent prisoners, all rested up and well fed, their US funded R&R over, head back to the fight in the legitimate (per Cairo Conference) battle against the "Occupation" of Iraq.

Iraqi detainee release, should give you plenty of background.

trish had some good links, a few threads ago.

12/14/2005 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Bush gets a lot of things wrong, makes a lot of mistakes and tells a lot lies. Lots of luck!

How can anything Iggy says be taken seriously?

12/14/2005 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...


I suspect, in addition to the MO you described, the continuation of the WOT in other theaters will provide them a handy diversion from their vitriole about Iraq.

12/14/2005 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

enscout said:
As Wretchard has stated in previous posts, the engagement in Iraq is won militarily. The left continues to be in denial about our military success and they are heavily invested, with few exceptions (Leiberman), in viewing the whole expedition as an embarrassing defeat.

To which I would say, their view and their "do" are often miles apart, especially for the politicians. When the Republicans finally turned around and bit back on Murtha, calling for an up-or-down vote on withdrawal from Iraq, the vote was 403-3 against withdrawal.

Though they often seem oblivious to anything but the chant of their own mantra, this vote proves otherwise. The Dems know they have to go home and face the folks. This vote proves that they already know what the folks are saying. These people may be opportunitsts in thrall to an out-moded world view, but they aren't stupid -- the first order is re-election.

The grandsons of the "Greatest Generation" are pulling in the superlatives themselves. Here is a letter in the Buffalo papers from an Iraqi soldier who tells Murtha what he thinks of his ideas...

What the infantryman said is more important than the emanations and adumbrations falling out of the mouths of pundits:

The American soldier cannot be defeated on the field of battle, only by the failure of the political class to stomach the hardships of combat.

What I wonder is who convinced the obscure Murtha to play the canary in the coal mine? What payback does *he* get for being buried under "The Pile of 403?"

Wretchard, your return to careful optimism is a balm. You are never so insightful as you are when you tackle the clouds of unbeing that billow forth from the death-obsessed Left...(and, yeah, before someone takes it to heart, the metaphor about "tackling clouds" was deliberate. It's called dry humor)

Thank you, Wretch...I am heartened.

12/14/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Much has been written and said about our mistakes and failures in Iraq. Much has been said about the negative results these failures have produced, as if the ledger was completely written.

I know things have not gone as intended. Events, as they often are, were contemptuous of our efforts at control.

Control, Intent: we have seen failure on both these fronts.

It would be ironic if we, through mistake, mismanagement, and a failure of vision, created the conditions for a lasting victory that would have otherwise been fleeting. Ironic, but I believe it is so.

Without the violence and mayhem, where would the Iraqis find the urgency to participate, the urgency to change? Where else would they have found necessity if things had gone according to plan? How else would they understand courage, if they weren't first made to understand fear? How does one understand resolve without first understanding difficulty, or understand victory without sacrifice, or mercy without pain?

Our inability to crush the insurgency in Iraq supplied the Iraqis with the two things we were incapable of providing: a Hobbesian decision, and a Comrade slope.

Eisenhower once said, "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." American leadership, American mistakes: in the end they were the same. The Iraqis are free.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

God bless the Iraqis, and God bless America.

12/14/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Did anyone really seriously think that the US could be defeated militarily in Iraq? I don't believe so (well a few - Baghdad Bob being a prominen member of that group), however victory can only be acheived based on what criteria you lay out for it.

Saddam is deposed. Victory. WMD poetential defanged, victory. Impose democracy....

The Bush administrations opinion, it seems to me, is that if the US military were to withdraw then some group will overthrow the elected government, assume power, and democracy will be gone. Therefore we stay on in an open ended contract until we feel that there will be peaceful successions of government determined by the electorate supported by a non-partisan Iraqi military.

This strikes me as a recipe for 'quagmire' because the goal that determines whether our troops stay or not is beyond our control, it is something the military can NOT solve, rather the only ones that can solve this is the Iraqis as a society.

12/14/2005 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ash - "imposed democracy."

I) Saddam Hussein took power along with the rest of his Ba'ath party in a military coup in 1969. The result was a military dictatorship of Stalinist oppression and war.

II) Democracy is by its nature - everyone one vote, political representation, rule of law, civilian control of military, protection of minorities - not "imposed." Knocking the dictator out and saying to everyone "Ok! Now it's everyone's turn to rule themselves!" is not an "imposition" in the manner of "You will be a Sunni Tikriti member of the X tribe or you will be a slave and chattel of Sheikh Saddam."

12/14/2005 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

...peaceful successions of government determined by the electorate supported by a non-partisan Iraqi military.

This is a quagmire?

A man once said, "What we do in life, echoes in eternity."

But he was an actor. What did he know?

Kennedy once said:

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty...

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich...

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

Or will you call it a quagmire?

12/14/2005 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Let us be thankful that war is uncertain and such a long slog, that we don’t take on such endeavors with a light heart. War being the last resort must be undertaken with the solemn understanding that brave men and women will lose their lives in the furtherance of liberty and those unfortunate enough to get caught in the cross fire shall perish as well.

On the other hand, the truth will soon dawn on the leaders of Iran and Syria, North Korea, as it will their youthful populations who suffer the ills that we aspire to mend.

12/14/2005 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Aristides, it is a laudable goal, but can it be achieved militarily?

12/14/2005 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

The whole “mistakes” meme is premised on the notion that the average person could have easily made better decisions about how to prepare the battle space and how to manage a post bellum reconstruction. Regardless, the “short attention span” media is incapable of seeing beyond the event horizon of their news cycle. Everyone loves a quick fix, the TV generation demands a tidy resolution by the end of this evenings’ episode.

History is comprised of many small details folded into time.

12/14/2005 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

With the military as part of the package, yes it is a goal to which the US can aspire.
There are other ways to spread our Revolution. We should use what ever means are required to further the rights of all individuals to life & liberty. Pursuing property is not everyone's definition of happiness.
But Property Rights are the foundation of economic prosperity.

12/14/2005 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...


First heard of the Cairo Conference at The Corner, where some blessed soul expressed his say-it-ain't-so incredulity.

Here was Juan Cole's take:

"It struck many observers as very strange that the government of Ibrahim Jaafari... acquiesced in the principle that guerrilla attacks on US troops were legitimate as a form of resistance to foreign occupation...(It seems to me unprecedented for a government fighting a guerrilla movement actually to acknowledge the legitimacy of the guerrilla group's attacks on it and its allies!)..."

My response to this is that if the host govt has granted legitimacy, sanction, to armed anti-US resistance - "in principle" or in fact - the US CinC is morally obligated, to his own country and countrymen, to withdraw tout suite the forces he has committed to that theater. Or to set about unseating another Iraqi govt.

I'd be glad to hear other takes on this.

(Keep in mind: The occupation has been extended until JAN 2007.)

12/14/2005 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...


Thanks for the reminder. You and Jack lift us up, turn us around and put our boots on solid ground.

Damn shame what has happened to the Democratic Party.

If we aren't careful, if we don't subscribe to the beleifs of our founding fathers, we will become highjacked as well.

12/14/2005 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I’ll bite. Seems that the Iraqi government must acknowledge the Sunni’s as their brethren if Iraq as a nation is to survive. Foreign Jihadists are a different matter, but no sense to impugn one’s countrymen when they are in the tenuous first steps of a new government. In short, a government, if it is to last, must first appease those with legitimate political decent.

12/14/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger sfrcook said...

I emigrated to this country thirty years ago from what is now known as FYROM. I love my adopted home and its people. I have never been more proud to call myself an American. Victor Davis Hanson calls this our finest hour, I whole-heartedly agree. God Bless the USA and God bless GWB.

12/14/2005 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

annoy mouse
But then, the Insurgents would have to lay down their arms, which is not happening, yet.
So instead of a legitimizing of the resistance as part of a overall peace plan or cease fire, the Iraqis have a legitimate ongoing resistence to a legitimate occupation, the UN Sanction of which is terminating at a date certain in January '07.

The prisoners taken during the conflict are neither criminals or prisoners of war, but detainees that can be released within months of capture, right back into the legitimate Insurgency.

Perhaps post election the Sunni will cease their rejectionist insurection, that is Mr Bush's assertion and hope. Heard him state it this morning.
But if this election follows the example of the US election of 1860, instead of 1960, well, reach for your socks, cause the US Military is not ready for that scenario, today.

12/14/2005 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger david bennett said...

We are in a protracted conflict with the regimes in Tehran and Damascus. Both are intensely opposed to the U.S. intervention in Iraq.

The Iranians are the biggest cheerleaders for the New Iraqi government in the middle east. They have praised the constitution. There have been a host of agreements and last summer we had to nix a military one. The new government of Iraq has promised that Iraq would not be used to attack Iran.

Saddam and his threat to Iran are gone. The Iranian trained Badr brigades are a major power.

A common belief especially in the middleast is that the war is over and Iran won. Certainly Iran seems to be blustering with insane confidence.

12/14/2005 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger oldgranny said...

Well, the moonbats got their way at last and Bush admitted going to war on faulty intel. Their glee will short lived, I'm afraid, because he must have some intel they won't like on how and why the intel was faulty.

The moron strikes again.

12/14/2005 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I am not convinced that the undoing of the ancient Iraq-Iran standoff is entirely unintentional. The whole Iraq exercise seems to be clearing out the remains of generations of failed American cloak-and-dagger foreign policy throughout the Middle East.

12/14/2005 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

confidence to be sure.
insanity, well now that is something else entirely.

The question of disarming the Iraqi militias keeps getting kicked down the road.

How can a Government be "safe & secure" when armed militias roam the country sides and city scapes?

After the Sunni militias stand down, if they do, why would they be persuaded to disarm? When their cousins to the north and south do not.

12/14/2005 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

David Bennet said: "A common belief especially in the middleast is that the war is over and Iran won. Certainly Iran seems to be blustering with insane confidence."

I recently heard a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia tell an audience that the Iranians are running wild west of the Zagros Mountains and the Saudis, not to mention the Gulf Arab states, are most concerned.

This is nothing new.

King Hussein of Jordan has openly stated his worries about an Iranian dominated "Shiite crescent" running from Iran to Lebanon (never mind that Shiites are a distinct minority in Syria).

There is no doubt (in my mind at least) that Iran wants to turn Iraq into a compliant Shiite-dominated buffer state. Iran also definitely wants the U.S. military out of Iraq, not to mention the Persian Gulf.

However, if Iran gets too heavy-handed in convincing U.S. forces to leave, it runs the risk of severe U.S. military retaliation, which could easily be directed at its precious nuclear program.

Moreover, Tehran is already dealing with substantial unrest in the Kurdish northwest, as well as occasional bombing attacks in the oil rich, Arab-populated Khuzestan province.

Someone appears to be tapping Tehran on the shoulder, and according to Tehran's recent complaining, that "someone" is the United States and Great Britain.

If Tehran encourages the Shiite militias, like the Badr Organization or the Mehdi Army, to go on the warpath, it runs the risk that violence and instability on its side of the border could grow even worse, perhaps courtesy of the CIA and MI6.

That said, the White House recently authorized the resumption of direct U.S.-Iran discussions--solely on the Iraq issue--in Baghdad.

Given this backdrop, what we may be looking at is not so much an Iranian victory as the Gulf Arab states see it, but a standoff between Washington and Tehran over Iraq. That plays to our advantage, at least for the time being.

However, if Iran decides to commence uranium enrichment, all bets are off on the standoff continuing.

I think your observation about Iran acting with "insane confidence" may be an exxageration, but not by much. Iran's religious regime seems reenergized, as I see it, by sustained high oil prices and the religous conservatives' success in reclaiming the presidency and parliament from Khatami and his reformist allies.

Yes, some of that confidence is also the result of U.S. difficulties in Iraq and on the home front, but it's not yet clear that Tehran has decided to unleash greater trouble in Iraq to drive the United States out.

Time will tell. If Tehran is smart, it will indeed act as if it has already won and patiently await the drawdown of U.S. forces over the next couple of years. If it isn't, there could be hell to pay.

12/14/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I think the Cairo Conference is just more evidence that "bad faith" is not that much of a talking point in that part of the world. Remember hudna, for example. "You're attacking mosques!" says the al-Mahdi Army from its position within the Imam Ali Mosque's minarets. "We have destroyed all our WMD." "Headpanties is torture!" says the former electrocutioner. And so on. Everything is a weapon.

Also, how about Ahmedinejad denying the Holocaust outright? HA! I love this guy. Why is that we have to stay out of this game? It seems fun as hell to me. No fair.

12/14/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Desert Rat wrote: "The question of disarming the Iraqi militias keeps getting kicked down the road. . . .
After the Sunni militias stand down, if they do, why would they be persuaded to disarm? When their cousins to the north and south do not."

That's a very good point. President Bush has publicly acknowledged the problem of armed militias (meaning the Shiites). This suggests that the administration is going to pressure on the next Iraqi government to disarm them.

It is at that point that the militias and their Iranian backers face the prospect of either "using it or losing it," the "it" in this case being the capacity to gain greater political power through "the power of the gun," as you put it in an earlier post.

12/14/2005 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Just wasted a bunch of time looking for something for you, hope you appreciate! ;-)
...It was a non Bush bashing magazine that said something similar to the two bashers below, and in particular mentioned Negroponte era and the "Cooling Down" period as a crucial mistake. ...we had the momentum going, and we let it go.

I hate to blame the military for too much of anything when the record clearly shows constant Dept. of State involvement, INTERFERENCE, and frequent "MISTAKES".
haven't read later comments yet.

Keeping Covenant With Iraq .
Over the last 2 1/2 years, the American leadership teams in Iraq have turned over almost completely four times. The initial group was replaced after one month — in May 2003 — by J. Paul Bremer, the head of the CPA. In June 2004, he was supplanted by U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte.

Negroponte served nine months, returning to Washington in March to become the national intelligence director. His successor, Zalmay Khalilzad, did not assume his duties full time until August.

A senior U.S. official acknowledged that "if you kept people there longer, you'd build up more expertise, more knowledge and better rapport with the Iraqis."

12/14/2005 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Sure thing Rat, the Shiite militias will be the last to lay down their arms because the Coalition Forces are rightfully focused on cleaning up the Euphrates rat lines through the Anbar Province. If Coalition Forces succeed in pacifying the wild west, then a political solution will be easier to negotiate with the militias. Not that that will necessarily be a ‘cake-walk’.

12/14/2005 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I debunked the whole Cairo conference mis-reporting more than a month ago, obviously some here were not impressed.
...let's just believe Juan Cole and the NY Times, and go from there!

12/14/2005 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

One hope is that the majority of Sunni's have the brains to see that a Civil War is not in their interest.
Seem's obvious enough to me, but 'Rat wants a cake walk.
Could you order one on Bush's tab?

12/14/2005 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Iran The Model - Ledeen

12/14/2005 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I agree with Aristedes and 'Mouse 8:44 AM post.
But then I don't make them, so easy for me to say about other mere mortals.

12/14/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


12/14/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

by almost any measure, it has been a cakewalk, in Iraq.

The way I described the solution a year ago is what is playing out on the ground, today. There are timelines to the Occupation, it ends in a year, according to both the Iraqis & UN.

You didn't debunk Cairo, you tried to explain it away. They held the meetings, made the statements. It was a prelim to the post election conference. It is their country, they can handle their Insurgents themselves. If we catch 'em & the Iraqis release 'em, we obviously are in the wrong place, doing the wrong things.

That cannot be part of a strategy for "Complete Victory".

If Mr Bush is correct and the Sunni rejectionists join the Federalists, there will be absolutely no need for US Military skill sets, in the numbers there now.

We should be discussing basing and equipment deployment & storage, unless Iran comes to a head, very quickly. Mr Sharon is reported to be setting a March timeline. If that is accurate, our guys will be in theater, with nobody home for Christmas '06.

12/14/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I guess if they were PROMISING to Nuke us, even we might be forced to face the issue.
...then again.

12/14/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The reporting as always conflated statements off the record, annonymous sources as FACTS.
...as in CNN on the ausie white racists, and the NY Times most recent Gas Tanker Full of ballots.
Defend their lies, or use them as facts I won't.
...my point is that going along with the daily news templates leads to mass de-motivation, and Vietnam II.
...Which is their motivation to start with.

12/14/2005 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I read the quotes from the Iraqi Interior Minister, they were direct and to the point.

It is not the same same as Aussie land, there are no USMC types in Aussi land. The video is live feed or tape delay. That there is selective editing, by Aussie camaramen and video editors, I don't doubt.

But that is not about a legitimate resistence to foreign occupation. It gives the Sunnis an oportunity to seperate themselves from the aQ.

When the truth hurts it is time to look into the reasons why.
We are fighting the Mohammedans with the wrong Army, granted it's the one we've got, but in three years we could have built the correct skill sets. But then deployments would have to be longer, years instead of months. We'd have to acclimate to the culture and have a few guys "go native".

Read the New Republic article, they supported the invasion.

Where is Osama?
Does Porter Goss still know?

12/14/2005 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Times article had guys going over there for four months! (1 year minus prep time etc)
...This was true both for the State Dept and some service other than Army.
Porter Goss has bigger enemies inside the CIA than the (deceased?) bin Laden.
Eliminate State, CIA, Senate staff over 25 people, and the UN, and we'd be better off.
...but that's no more likely than you being able to reform the Pentagon.

12/14/2005 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Porter Goss has bigger enemies inside the CIA"

The CIA certainly seems to be undergoing some kind of...um... meltdown.

Funny: Their military counterparts used to regard the Agency with something approaching awe.

Wasn't that long ago, really. But it seems like light years.

12/14/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

rwe at 7:22am = nice post on Desert Storm.

The success was so obvious, some people were crazy enough to vote for a third party candidate! Bush seemed such a lock for re-election ... how could he ever have lost so soon after the fantastic victory that "ended the Vietnam syndrome."

Hubris among 18% of crazies who went for Perot.

We lost our way so badly then, when the Cold War had just been won and ended. Pity.

12/14/2005 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Off-Topic (Way OFF)

rwe, exhelo, anyone else: which plane would create more turbulence, a worse air wake - an F-4 Phantom or an SR-71 Blackbird?

At about 1,250 ft. MSL. You know, passing through the biplane furball around King Kong atop the Empire State Building.

Based on that flight profile, both planes would be at the slowest corner of the envelope.

Parenthetically: this week's AWST has an article on Airbus screaming about the ICAO's separation rules for the new monstrous A380. They say there must be a minimum separation of 10 mi. between any aircraft trailing a 380, 15 mile separation at cruise (that's a big wake! at 40,000!), and three minute separation on takeoff.

Sorry to go so far way off topic.

12/14/2005 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I thought it was a hypothetical, with both the F-4 and 71 operating at the other end of their envelopes!
4 k plus vs what?
Ah well to be realistic, I'll just have to hope that the SR taking off at full thrust w/burners on will win this Kong fly by.
Also off topic, but worth a laugh from last thread, and connected to Bush's conduct of the Iraqi War:

iotm said...
I agree, death penalty for murderers. So when is Bush going to be executed for killing by his own admission 30,000 Iraqis, and in reality more like 200,000?

Oh wait, yet another contradiction.

Ho hum, logic scores another point against savagery
1:03 PM
At least the folks in the 60's saying things like that were on Acid!

12/14/2005 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

I'm sure it would be the SR71, considering it's size. I don't know what it's top speed would be at that altitude, though. It would be considerably less than up at 70K

12/14/2005 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...


On Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq, didn't we all go through the 2004 Presidential election on that question?

The US had the largest voter turnout in history, and Bush was re-elected by a 4M margin with the highest vote total to date.


The libs still think Gore won in 2000.


So, for arguments sake, let's say both the Phantom and the Blackbird somehow find a way to fly through the biplane swarm around Kong at 500 mph. Which one makes the bigger wake?

12/14/2005 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

annoy mouse said:

"Seems that the Iraqi government must acknowledge the Sunni’s as their brethren if Iraq as a nation is to survive. Foreign Jihadists are a different matter, but no sense to impugn one’s countrymen when they are in the tenuous first steps of a new government. In short, a government, if it is to last, must first appease those with legitimate political decent."

Not when that "legitimate political dissent" blows a crater in the road and sends US body parts flying. Look, the Iraqi govt can appease whomever it damn well wants to, but not at our expense. If we didn't have troops there, I wouldn't care if the Iraqi govt put every Sunni insurgent on a stipend and promised them breakfast in bed for a year. It's THEIR country. But as long as it's OUR boots, it's outrageously, screamingly wrong.

Is this even really debatable?

12/14/2005 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

No. It is not debatable. The US forces are there to stay until they can stand up an Iraqi government and more importantly, some bad asses with rifles and boots to keep the peace however provisionally, those two entities are strangely related, the government and the armed forces. We don’t want our asses shot off by a bunch of so called ‘freedom fighters’, but divide and concur, separate the Jihadi’s from their brothers in arms and take the initiative while we can. The way out is forward, and the way forward is to politically disengage as much as we can. We can’t do that while parsing grievances. To date, we have avoided the numerical and technical superiority method to destroy the bastards, hell, we have nearly captured the hearts and minds of a majority Iraqi’s and, if not that, they’re getting the idea that we are not going anywhere real soon…. Exploit it!

12/14/2005 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Text of President Bush's speech on the Iraq war Wednesday:

We can expect that the elections will be followed by days of uncertainty. We may not know for certain who's won the elections until the early part of January – and that's important for our citizens to understand.

The work ahead will also require continued sacrifice. Yet we can be confident, because history has shown the power of freedom to overcome tyranny.

President's Text

12/14/2005 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"they’re getting the idea that we are not going anywhere real soon…."

And you think this is not a problem.

No, not the kind of problem spoken of by the Left, but the kind of problem that ought to be spoken of on the Right.

Let me explain:

There's another recent quote from an Iraqi govt official stating that some needed Iraqi military operations, approved by the Iraqi security services, have been nixed by the Americans. The Americans are still in charge of the Iraqi military, even in those areas from which they've departed and in which Iraqis are operating without direct supervision. And there's at least one more year of this unfortunate set-up.

So on the one hand, violent Sunni rejectionists (those who direct their violence at us, anyway) are sought to be appeased, and on the other, the Iraqi military is kept on a leash, for fear of international political fall-out. And how does either side extricate itself from this at the end of 2006? 2007? 2008?

You tell me "the way forward."

12/14/2005 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The real question is, could either plane take off, and/or land at the Zyport” airstrip?

Ringo the Gringo at lgf said,
If you drive down that dirt road for about 4 miles you'll find a beautiful old ranch and mineral springs.
It's a hidden secret.

12/15/2005 02:55:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

The way forward is to eliminate the enemy by all means possible… you’d consider political sublimation an unsuitable means?

Now as far as keeping Iraqi units from engaging the enemy… I not sure what the wisdom of that is, but it is best to marshal your forces and to put all your set pieces into position before stirring a stick in the snake pit.

Let ‘em know that we are making our own time table…they can come out and fight and be killed, vote, or become the detritus of history.

12/15/2005 08:04:00 AM  

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