Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The McCaffrey trip report

General Barry McCaffrey (USA ret) made a trip to Iraq last April 13-20 and set out his observations in a widely circulated PDF summarized in the press reports here and here. While a verbatim copy has not been posted on the Web a reader has been kind enough to send the full text. MSNBC described McCaffrey as skeptic on the war as early as 2003. The New Republic called General McCaffrey Secretary Rumsfeld's "most outspoken critic" in 2004. McCaffrey made an earlier observation trip to Iraq in June 2005 whose findings are summarized in a memorandum to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Therefore McCaffrey's recent 2006 impressions can be directly compared to those of the previous year. And bear in mind that McCaffrey was no fan of the original OIF plan. 

In 2005 McCaffrey believed that the US military was handling the insurgency but the challenge was to build Iraqi civil institutions.

US Military Forces in Iraq are superb. Our Army-Marine ground combat units with supporting Air and Naval Power are characterized by quality military leadership, solid discipline, high morale, and enormous individual and unit courage. Unit effectiveness is as good as we can get. This is the most competent and battle wise force in our nation’s history. They are also beautifully cared for by the chain-of-command --and they know it. ... The Iraqi Security Forces are now a real and hugely significant factor. LTG Dave Petreaus has done a brilliant job with his supporting trainers.

The point of the US war effort is to create legitimate and competent Iraqi national, provincial, and municipal governance. We are at a turning point in the coming six months. The momentum is now clearly with the Iraqi Government and the Coalition Security Forces. The Sunnis are coming into the political process. They will vote in December. Unlike the Balkans—the Iraqis want this to succeed. Foreign fighters are an enormously lethal threat to the Iraqi civilian population, the ISF, and Coalition Forces in that order. However, they will be an increasing political disaster for the insurgency.

But while he had confidence in the military outcome and hope for the political result in Iraq in 2005, he was less sanguine about whether OIF was being won in Western public opinion. With reporters unable to roam freely through the country and unwilling to spend weeks and months embedded with military units the war was in danger of being mis-reported. From his 2005 memo:

The US media is putting the second team in Iraq with some exceptions. Unfortunately, the situation is extremely dangerous for journalists. The working conditions for a reporter are terrible. They cannot travel independently of US military forces without risking abduction or death. In some cases, the press has degraded to reporting based on secondary sources, press briefings which they do not believe, and alarmist video of the aftermath of suicide bombings obtained from Iraqi employees of unknown reliability. ... Military leaders on the ground are talking to people they trust instead of talking to all reporters who command the attention of the American people. (We need to educate and support AP, Reuters, Gannet, Hearst, the Washington Post, the New York Times, etc.)

All the same McCaffrey believed the Iraq state would start to turn the corner in 2006. He stated his prediction in a series of bullet-points given within the context of what he believed were the principal developments to that point. The 2005 memo says (verbatim):

  • The initial US/UK OIF intervention took down a criminal regime and left a nation without an operational State.
  • The transitional Bremer-appointed Iraqi government created a weak state of warring factions.
  • The January 2005 Iraqi elections created the beginnings of legitimacy and have fostered a supportive political base to create the new Iraqi Security Forces.
  • The August Iraqi Constitutional Referendum and the December-January election and formation of a new government will build the prototype for the evolution of an effective, law-based Iraqi State with a reliable Security Force.
  • January thru September 2006 will be the peak period of the insurgency --and the bottom rung of the new Iraq. The positive trend lines following the January 2006 elections (if they continue) will likely permit the withdrawal of substantial US combat forces by late summer of 2006. With 250,000 Iraqi Security Forces successfully operating in support of a government which includes substantial Sunni participation--the energy will start rapidly draining out of the insurgency.

After his return to Iraq in April, 2006 McCaffrey wrote a report in a nearly identical format, making it possible to compare the political and military situations -- and check on the accuracy of his predictions -- directly. Thanks to a Belmont Club reader we can provide long quotes from the McCaffrey 2006 memo. How were the military in 2006?

The morale, fighting effectiveness, and confidence of U.S. combat forces continue to be simply awe-inspiring. In every sensing session and interaction - I probed for weakness and found courage, belief in the mission, enormous confidence in their sergeants and company grade officers, an understanding of the larger mission, a commitment to creating an effective Iraqi Army and Police, unabashed patriotism, and a sense of humor. All of these soldiers, NCOs and young officers were volunteers for combat. Many were on their second combat tour - several were on the third or fourth combat tour. Many had re-enlisted to stay with their unit on its return to a second Iraq deployment. Many planned to re-enlist regardless of how long the war went on.

What about the Iraqi Army in 2006?

The Iraqi Army is real, growing, and willing to fight. They now have lead action of a huge and rapidly expanding area and population. The battalion level formations are in many cases excellent - most are adequate. ... The recruiting now has gotten significant participation by all sectarian groups to include the Sunni. The Partnership Program with U.S. units will be the key to success with the Embedded Training Teams augmented and nurtured by a U.S. Maneuver Commander. This is simply a brilliant success story.

The same high grade, however, could not be given to the Iraqi police. Though some units are good, many units are unreliable or incompetent. They were the key element to future stability; they were improving but still had a long way to go.

The Iraqi police are beginning to show marked improvement in capability since MG Joe Peterson took over the program. The National Police Commando Battalions are very capable - a few are simply superb and on par with the best U.S. SWAT units in terms of equipment, courage, and training. Their intelligence collection capability is better than ours in direct HUMINT. ... The police are heavily infiltrated by both the AIF and the Shia militia. They are widely distrusted by the Sunni population. They are incapable of confronting local armed groups. They inherited a culture of inaction, passivity, human rights abuses, and deep corruption. This will be a ten year project requiring patience, significant resources, and an international public face. This is a very, very tough challenge which is a prerequisite to the Iraqis winning the counter-insurgency struggle they will face in the coming decade. We absolutely can do this. But this police program is now inadequately resourced.

The main problem remains political. But even there -- despite the potential for disaster -- there was hope.

The creation of an Iraqi government of national unity is a central requirement. We must help create a legitimate government for which the Iraqi security forces will fight and die. If we do not see the successful development of a pluralistic administration in the first 120 days of the emerging Jawad al-Maliki leadership - there will be significant chance of the country breaking apart in warring factions among the Sunnis and Shia - with a separatist Kurdish north embroiled in their own potential struggle with the Turks. ... There is total lack of trust among the families, the tribes, and the sectarian factions created by the 35 years of despotism and isolation of the criminal Saddam regime. This is a traumatized society with a malignant political culture. ...

However, in my view, the Iraqis are likely to successfully create a governing entity. The intelligence picture strongly portrays a population that wants a federal Iraq, wants a national Army, rejects the AIF as a political future for the nation, and is optimistic that their life can be better in the coming years. Unlike the Balkans—the Iraqis want this to work. The bombing of the Samarra Mosque brought the country to the edge of all-out war. However, the Iraqi Army did not crack, the moderates held, Sistani called for restraint, the Sunnis got a chill of fear seeing what could happen to them as a minority population, and the Coalition Forces suddenly were seen correctly as a vital force that could keep the population safe in the absence of Iraqi power. In addition, the Shia were reminded that Iran is a Persian power with goals that conflict with the Shia Arabs of southern and central Iraq.

And what about Al Qaeda in 2006?

The foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to the creation of an Iraqi government. Aggressive small unit combat action by Coalition Forces combined with good intelligence - backed up by new Iraqi Security Forces is making an impact. The foreign fighters remain a serious tactical menace. However, they are a minor threat to the heavily armed and wary U.S. forces. They cannot successfully stop the Iraqi police and army recruitment.

The main areas of failure are surprisingly -- for the oldest critic of Rumsfeld -- to be found outside of the Department of Defense. He had particularly choice words for the institutional inability of the State Department to "live and work with their Iraqi counterparts" for extended periods.

The U.S. Inter-Agency Support for our strategy in Iraq is grossly inadequate. A handful of brilliant, courageous, and dedicated Foreign Service Officers have held together a large, constantly changing, marginally qualified, inadequately experienced U.S. mission. ... U.S. consultants of the IRMO do not live and work with their Iraqi counterparts, are frequently absent on leave or home consultations, are often in-country for short tours of 90 days to six months, and are frequently gapped with no transfer of institutional knowledge. ...

The State Department actually cannot direct assignment of their officers to serve in Iraq. State frequently cannot staff essential assignments such as the new PRTs which have the potential to produce such huge impact in Iraq. The bottom line is that only the CIA and the U.S. Armed Forces are at war. This situation cries out for remedy.

Also underreported are his criticisms of detainee policy -- though they are not what you would think.

Thanks to strong CENTCOM leadership and supervision at every level, our detainee policy has dramatically corrected the problems of the first year of the War on Terrorism. Detainee practices and policy in detention centers in both Iraq and Afghanistan that I have visited are firm, professional, humane, and well supervised. However, we may be in danger of over-correcting. The AIF are exploiting our overly restrictive procedures and are routinely defying the U.S. interrogators. It is widely believed that the US has a “14 day catch and release policy” and the AIF “suspect” will soon be back in action.

This is an overstatement of reality, however, we do have a problem. Many of the AIF detainees routinely accuse U.S. soldiers of abuse under the silliest factual situations knowing it will trigger an automatic investigation. In my view, we will need to move very rapidly to a policy of the Iraqis taking legal charge of the detainees in our Brigade Detention Centers--- with us serving a support not lead role. We may need to hire U.S. contractor law enforcement teams at U.S. tactical battalion level to support the function of “evidentiary packages” as well as accompanying prisoners to testify in court in Baghdad.

The final danger was that OIF was running out of money and political support.

CENTCOM and the U.S. Mission are running out of the most significant leverage we have in Iraq - economic reconstruction dollars. Having spent $18 billion - we now have $1.6 billion of new funding left in the pipeline. Iraq cannot sustain the requisite economic recovery without serious U.S. support. The Allies are not going to help. They will not fulfill their pledges. Most of their pledges are loans not grants. ...

There is a rapidly growing animosity in our deployed military forces toward the U.S. media. We need to bridge this gap. Armies do not fight wars - countries fight wars. We need to continue talking to the American people through the press. They will be objective in reporting facts if we facilitate their information gathering mission.

In closing, McCaffrey said:

The Iraqi political system is fragile but beginning to play a serious role in the debate over the big challenges facing the Iraqi state - oil, religion, territory, power, separatism, and revenge. The neighboring states have refrained from tipping Iraq into open civil war. The UN is cautiously thinking about re-entry and doing their job of helping consolidate peace. The Iraqis are going to hold Saddam and his senior leadership accountable for their murderous behavior over 35 years. The brave Brits continue to support us both politically and militarily. NATO is a possible modest support to our efforts.

There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq. Our aim must be to create a viable federal state under the rule of law which does not: enslave its own people, threaten its neighbors, or produce weapons of mass destruction. This is a ten year task. We should be able to draw down most of our combat forces in 3-5 years. We have few alternatives to the current US strategy which is painfully but gradually succeeding. This is now a race against time. Do we have the political will, do we have the military power, will we spend the resources required to achieve our aims?

It was very encouraging for me to see the progress achieved in the past year. Thanks to the leadership and personal sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of men and women of the CENTCOM team and the CIA – the American people are far safer today than we were in the 18 months following the initial intervention.

Commentary

Whatever one thinks of McCaffrey's 2005 and 2006 Iraqi memos, the observation that "armies do not fight wars - countries fight wars" should be non-controversial. One of the themes of the 2005 memorandum, re-emphasized in 2006, was that while military systems have adapted, two key political systems -- the political and economic reconstruction mechanism; and public diplomacy, including the press -- have not. The first failure is manifested by the inability of civilian agencies to deploy personnel able to "live and work with their Iraqi counterparts" in the manner of the military or to adapt to the challenges of providing economic development assistance in a terrorist-threatened environment. The institutional failure of the Press is no less signal. Unable to cover Iraq in the normal way; unwilling to assign its stars for long periods of embedding with the US military, it has been "degraded to reporting based on secondary sources, press briefings which they do not believe, and alarmist video of the aftermath of suicide bombings obtained from Iraqi employees of unknown reliability". And if it is true that countries, not armies fight wars, then it is a depressing commentary that only one of three legs has adapted to the exigencies of combat. "The bottom line is that only the CIA and the U.S. Armed Forces are at war. This situation cries out for remedy."

Whether or not Donald Rumsfeld has been going about it the right way he may have been conceptually correct in emphasizing the transformation of the US Armed Forces even at the expense of accepting certain risks. The question is why other agencies have not followed suit. When Secretary Rice announced her intention to transform the State Department in January 2006, it was given scant coverage and treated largely as a non-event.

Not many would quarrel with the lofty goals, but how was this going to affect American diplomats and the work they do? Rice and senior officials explained what this would mean. There would be a new focus on regional solutions to address such issues as counter-terrorism, drug trafficking and disease. America’s diplomats will be required as part of their career advancement to serve in hardship posts like Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria. More Foreign Service officers will be based outside of our embassies which are located in world capitals (American Presence Posts) and some will do their diplomatic work making contact with foreign nationals by managing newly created Internet sites (Virtual Presence Post).

Rice said we do not now have the right numbers of people in the right places. As an example, she said, “we have nearly the same number of State Department personnel in Germany, a country of 82 million people, that we have in India, a country of one billion people.” Rice concedes these shifts in priorities will be “the work of a generation” but she said it will start this year with a “down payment” by shifting 100 positions, mostly now based in Washington and Europe, to “countries like China and India and Nigeria and Lebanon.”

And that's why they haven't followed suit. Rice's efforts are a testimony to how hard it is to transform an institution as large as the State Department, where it is only possible to shift "100 positions" in a work that will last a "generation". It's reasonable to assume that if the Secretary of State had forced the pace of change in the first year of the war instead of the fifth that there might now be an Ambassador's Mutiny calling for the Secretary's head, because there is a definite tradeoff between changing to meet the future and performing the job at hand. And what of the Press? How has it adapted to covering the news in the terrorist age? Well, maybe General McCaffrey will make another trip to Iraq next year and let us know how they've come along because if countries, not armies fight wars it will take more than just the military to win against global terrorism.

Update

Bill Roggio is leaving for Afghanistan and explains his goals at a podcast interview I have within him over at Pajamas Media. Do listen if you're interested.

136 Comments:

Blogger Ash said...

hmmmm, it seems we've turned the corner once again and just a bit more time and victory will be ours...

I wonder how the average Iraqi views the current government still being formed. Given the Iraqis hostility to foreign powers in their land will they accept this new government as legitimate? Having Rumsfeld and Rice standing by the new PM designate side so quickly may prove to be a problem in this regard. Riverbend certainly doesn't have much respect for the current folks in gov. I wonder how widespread these feelings are in Iraq:

"The Hakims and Badr made their debut, followed by several other clerics with their personal guard and militias, all seeping in from Iran.

Today they rule the country. Over the duration of three years, and through the use of vicious militias, assassinations and abductions, they’ve managed to install themselves firmly in the Green Zone. We constantly hear our new puppets rant and rave against Syria, against Saudi Arabia, against Turkey, even against the country they have to thank for their rise to power- America… But no one dares to talk about the role Iran is planning in the country.

The last few days we’ve been hearing about Iranian attacks on northern Iraq- parts of Kurdistan that are on the Iranian border. Several sites were bombed and various news sources are reporting Iranian troops by the thousand standing ready at the Iraqi border. Prior to this, there has been talk of Iranian revolutionary guard infiltrating areas like Diyala and even parts of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the new puppets (simply a rotation of the same OLD puppets), after taking several months to finally decide who gets to play the role of prime minister, are now wrangling and wrestling over the ‘major’ ministries and which political party should receive what ministry. The reason behind this is that as soon as a minister is named from, say, SCIRI, that minister brings in ‘his people’ to key positions- his relatives, his friends and cronies, and most importantly- his personal militia. As soon as Al-Maliki was made prime minister, he announced that armed militias would be made a part of the Iraqi army (which can only mean the Badrists and Sadr’s goons).

A few days ago, we were watching one of several ceremonies they held after naming the new prime minister. Talbani stood in front of various politicians in a large room in the Green Zone and said, rather brazenly, that Iraq would not stand any ‘tadakhul’ or meddling by neighboring countries because Iraq was a ‘sovereign country free of foreign influence’. The cousin almost fainted from laughter and E. was wiping his eyes and gasping for air… as Talbani pompously made his statement- all big belly and grins- smiling back at him was a group of American army commanders or generals and to his left was Khalilzad, patting him fondly on the arm and gazing at him like a father looking at his first-born!"

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

I can't help that so many reports of ISF forces standing up (even though some won't travel to fight) and things improving with nary a word about Iranian influence from the US side is reason to think that the domestic political situation is driving things as opposed to the reality on the ground.

5/03/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

I'm guardedly optimistic about Iraq. A critical point in the process was the formation of the Iraqi unity government. The four month deadlock over appointing Jafari as prime minister designate had the potential of tipping over the whole apple cart (I suspect Iranian intrigue played a role in that long delay). Once again, it was Sistani who fished Iraq out of the toilet by arranging for Jawad al Maliki to be Prime Minister in place of Jafari. Sistani has a habit of appearing at precisely the critical moment and saving the day.

So the Iraq thing appears to be resolving itself. Unfortunately the Afghansitan thing appears to be unravelling. Michael Yon has some disturbing news about events over there. The Taliban are reorganizing and reestablishing themselves as a viable threat. Also poppy production in Afghanistan is ramping up to becoming a world menace. I suspect within 2 years time the situation will be worse in Afghanistan than in Iraq. It's clear that the Taliban safe havens in western Pakistan are driving events in Afghanistan. Whether or not western Pakistan should be cleaned out is a question of resources and priority (Iran remains a primary focus).

5/03/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I see Porter Goss making changes in the CIA. I do *NOT* see Dr. Rice making changes in State. On the contrary, what I do see, increasingly, is that State has subsumed Condi and she's now mouthing the party line of "Can't we all just get along" when it comes to issues of recalcitrant Palistinians, lying oil ticks, and timid Yurp cartoon non-publishers.

She may be good at flitting around the world, shaking hands and flirting with Jacques's, but when you put what she has accomplished up against what Rumsfeld or Bolton or Goss have made happen, then I would say that, at most, she's in the running with Bill Clinton to take over after Kofi finishes emasculating the UN.

5/03/2006 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

By the way, quoting Riverbend is almost the same as quoting Saddam's exiled daughter RagHead, if you want an unbiased Iraqi point of view. I like Omar and Mohammad at Iraq the Model, but if you must quote Riverbend, at least do us the favor of throwing in any other Iraqi writer as a counterbalance to the poisonous venom about EVERYthing.

5/03/2006 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger John Samford said...

Clauswitz re-discovered.
'War is diplomacy by other means' or something like that. The final arguement of Kings is another way to express it.

Ash, victory IS ours. The mission was regime change. Is Saddam in power? If not then the mission was acomplished. What we have now in Iraq is called mission creep.
This is a political failure, NOT a military one. The mission creep grew from the absurd idea that Democray will spread like some sort of virus. As if Sen. Fist could sneeze on Chavez and have him suddenly turn into a later day President Wilson. If Democracy spreads by majic, Why is the DPRK not a representative government? Why aren't Cuba, China, or any other of several despotic governments surrounded by representative governments?
No, the only sane reason to maintain troops in Iraq is to secure it as a base for regime change in Iran.
As long as Iran is willing and able to funnel money, troops and munitions into Iraq, there will be no peace in Iraq. NO guerrilla has ever been defeated when the guerrillas could secure aid from an adjoining state. Even the US Army with it's 21st century soldiers and warfighting techniques cannot beat guerrillas that have a nearby sancutary to flee to.
The political error here is seeing Iraq, Iran, Syria and the KSA as seperate enities. Our enemy sees them all as part of a greater whole, so we need to look at them the same way. They are all part of the same theater of operations in a Global War. America needs another McArthur, and I don't see one waiting in the wings.

5/03/2006 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Yon is raising a red flag about Afghanistan. However, Yon also sincerely thinks that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war.

At a certain point, you sort of have to think the people of a country have to become responsible for their own welfare. If the Taliban are reconstituting themselves, what does that say about the Afghan population allowing that to happen?

5/03/2006 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

This is truly good news, and I'm glad to see the 10 year timeframe. One of Bush's mistakes was in accepting the implication of doing it quick.

And slow victory is still victory.

But the good general is wrong to support aid, rather than loans. Aid teaches corruption; loans teach responsibility BOTH to the borrower AND the lender. (Which is why 50 years of post-WW II "aid" has failed Africa.)

Loans to elected municipal Iraqis would transfer repayment duty PLUS priority decision making authority onto the Iraqis.

Every Iraqi town & city with elected leaders should be allowed to offer a municipal reconstruction bond of some $1000/per person, which the US gov't will guarantee to underwrite, but with the idea of selling the bonds on an international market.

Modern Investment always means buy today and repay based on successful outcomes.

And yes, the locals need a way of raising tax revenue to pay for the bonds.

5/03/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

"The political error here is seeing Iraq, Iran, Syria and the KSA as seperate enities. Our enemy sees them all as part of a greater whole, so we need to look at them the same way." - John Samford

"...the only sane reason to maintain troops in Iraq is to secure it as a base for regime change in Iran.
As long as Iran is willing and able to funnel money, troops and munitions into Iraq, there will be no peace in Iraq.
- John Samford

John, you reading my book?

I propose that actually listening to GWB's U.N. "axis of evil" speech is exactly the agenda. Imagine, a President that tells the world what he sees, what he is going to do...and does it! The audacity!

The only one left, if Iran is next is North Korea.. It's been off the radar for awhile.

5/03/2006 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

tom grey,

Your 9:30 AM - "Aid teaches corruption; loans teach responsibility BOTH to the borrower AND the lender."

Most excellent point you have made.

One major problem throughout this conflict has been getting non-coalition governments and institutions interested in participation. Loans would certainly help stimulate that interested participation - “Where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also."

5/03/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

Congratulations W., a timely bit of excellent reporting (and comment).

Note that the rot (not intentional, more the soft corruption of permanent bureaucracy unchallenged by life-and-family at risk) evident in 9-11 is/was just not in the intelligence community. All the agencies have equally severe challenges and need major change (and "transformation"). Not one, save perhaps the coast guard (surprisingly, mostly because they were under funded and left alone) were hollow shells. NATO as well (as we have seen).

If there had not been a 9-11 some other tyranny would have seen our weakness and taken advantage. May happen again, as much work remains and the forces of complacency, political constituency and entitlement are terrible counterweights to any that attempt to change the status quo. E.g. ask yourself how we can justify more than 2 or 3 military bases in the interior of the country (other than as jobs programs)? We can likely trade one military base for one new weapons system or one division or one new spy satellite. Or why the largest foreign presence of State department employees is in Europe?

Such is the nature of our system, and it takes persistence, a painful doggedness, to change it (even when death is the clear alternative)

5/03/2006 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

john samford,

Your 9:17 AM - "the only sane reason to maintain troops in Iraq is to secure it as a base for regime change in Iran."

While I appreciate your observations on the whole, I must disagree with the referenced quote. Although Iran is the coming attraction, it must be American policy to maintain an unchallengeable military presence in Iraq for as long as the Straight of Hormuz and the Levant are of strategic importance. In my opinion, that will mean decades.

As US forces settle in for the long haul in the ME, the DoD might insist on the formal training of those troops in linguistics, at the very least. Over the course of the Cold War, millions of American troops passed time in Germany; most left with only the most rudimentary conversational ability. This present opportunity should not be so squandered.

5/03/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

ari tai,

Your 10:01 AM - "Or why the largest foreign presence of State department employees is in Europe?"

You already know the answer, don't you? FUN!!! And on the taxpayers' dime, it doesn't get better than that.

5/03/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Acad Ronin said...

Of course State has lots of people in Europe, and fun is part of it, but not all of it. First, I would like to see a GDP weighting of where we have FSOs, not just a population weighting. Second, what is gowing to draw the people we want into State? Long tours in cities without good opportunities for spouses to have a career, with the kids being sent out of the country for schooling, with a small, perhaps non-existent expat community in which to make friends (few locals are interested in fitting into their already full friendship networks foreigners who are only there for a short time, while expats have left friends and family behind and so are looking for new friends), physical danger in many places (how many Marine guards will we assign to support a one or two person consulate), etc., and all this at a poor salary. A friend went to a CIA recruiting session. The CIA's big point was that its agents were better paid than State's. (The down side to that is that you can always tell the CIA agent under diplomatic cover - they are the ones with the big SUVs.)

So where are we going to get these unmarried, adventure seeking FSOs with language qualifications, etc., eager to work for less money than they can get at CIA, DIA, consulting/contracting, etc.?

5/03/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

Agreed that the State Department is where the fun is.

The thing of it is, however difficult it may be to find people willing to go to Nigeria, I would think that we would be able to recruit scads of good people to work in India. We don't, because the government is incapable of restructuring the way a business would, e.g., by down-sizing European staffs and building up staff in other places. Unlike the military, it sounds as though the FSOs won't just go where they are told, when they are told.

5/03/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Look at the politcians bleating about "diplomacy rather than military force" as the answer to the Iran problem and you will see the real problem.

People in the political community see diplomacy and military force as an "either/or" situation. In other words, if the diplomats fail you send in the military - which means the diplomats see the military as a competitor - and the politcians advocating diplomacy then see military force as an admission of failire.

Even more importantly, the politicans who advocate diplomacy see the use of military force as an indication that they have lost the political arguement. And so, often the diplomats see it the same way.

Look at the current world oil situation and the continuing violent opposition of some politicans to drilling in ANWAR and you can understand that being found to be "Wrong" is the absolute worst thing that many in DC - and the media - can conceive of.

5/03/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger dueler88 said...

Winning has always utlimately been about WANTING to win. The best-equipped fighting force can't win without the desire to do so. Conversely, a "just adequately"-equipped fighting force can defeat that best-equipped force if they have the desire to do so.

For the Western Media, winning is about selling newspapers and airtime. The most effective means of doing so is with PROVOCATIVE, but not necessarily FACTUAL, images and words.

I suppose that goal has not changed much over time. However, "provocative" used to mean finding interesting ways to represent the U.S. Military in a supportive-yet-factual light, because the press ultimately had (and still has) a stake in the success of Liberty. But if the commander-in-chief is politically suspect, then the mission itself suspect, and therefore the people involved in the mission are suspect.

There is no reason for the press to WANT success (i.e. the propagation of Liberty) in Iraq. So we find ourselvesm as a nation not really at War, by Gen. McCaffry's definition.

The only way for the Press and the Left to want to win is for the battle to be presented to them in a very personal way, i.e. a direct attack like 9/11. What will still remain, however, is the perennial goal to remove W from office and regain power.

The Press and the Left want their domestic enemies defeated more than they want their foreign enemies vanquished, and more than they want the ideology of Liberty to supplant the ideology of Fascism. Victory is fine, but only on the fuzzy-semantics political terms that they define.

http://mysandmen.blogspot.com/

5/03/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Forget the UN, replace Rice w/Bolton.
Listening to him answer Waxman and Dennis the Menace Kucinich was a joy.
"If I carry this piece by Seymour Hersh over to you will read it?
Bolton:
Probably not, I don't have much time for reading fiction these days!
"

5/03/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

All,

I'm not saying that State is the place to have fun; I'm saying that the EU is the place to have fun.

As to the military in Europe, some folk have literally spent entire careers there, going so far as to take retirement in place. So many, in fact, that the APO system severely limits deliverable weights. Others would love to spend years in Europe, but some Corps, e.g. the Medical and JAG, forbid consecutive tours.

As to money, Western Europe has always been expensive. Those parts of Eastern Europe recently taken into the EU are fast becoming expensive. Thankfully, Uncle Sam makes the tour worthwhile. And if you doubt that, just try getting one of those "onerous" European assignments.

Again, I say, "FUN!!!"

5/03/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

rwe,

you said - "you can understand that being found to be "Wrong" is the absolute worst thing that many in DC - and the media - can conceive of."

I have found, throughout my career, that this has become the norm not just in DC, but in the business world. To be wrong is to be decimated, then marginalized in the future. I call it the "Guru effect". They (person or organization)must be "guru's" or they are the rabble. I have found this to be true in organizations large and small.

5/03/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

The thing that I am struck by in McCaffery's comments is his perception that politically, at home, we are in a race against time. The frenetic pace of destructive impression-management by the MSM, the dribs and drabs of news about moles inside the CIA destroying our intelligence capabilities, the State Department co-opting Condoleeza Rice, and the emboldenned Iranian regime daily blustering and continuously penetrating the Iraqi political and military establishments - all give me pause for concern.

Within my own circle of family and aquaintances of work and socializing, I ALONE am the only advocate for staying the course. So effective has been the assiduous image-management of the mainstream media that many people simply will not listen to reason and fact. All they have seen is a steady stream of images of Iraqi Arabs damning us, international agencies condemning us for "human rights abuses," beheadings, kidnappings, suicide bombings, foreign governments taking us to task and opportunistically putting us in a corner, et al. There has been the steady drumbeat of innane talking point reiteration by the Democratic Party also playing well in a milieu of cynicism and anger. While our soldiers and Marines bask in the opposite environment, albeit not without its own dangers and losses, our public believes deep in its marrow that we are beaten and outfoxed.

If the Democrats win big in November, time runs out. There will be impeachment and hearings. Maybe even a trail in the Senate. Any intelligent person knows that there will not be a necessary two-thirds to sustain that impeachment, but the picture is one of more self-destructive introspection. Farce can frequently spin into tragedy. A tragedy like this one is too frightening to contemplate.

Once again, militarily victorious and making progress in a foreign land, but once again politically defeated and disastrously disingaged.

5/03/2006 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

First, one must understand Ash's modus. he's not here to provide additional insight or ask thought provoking questions. he's here to insure that we never forget how much he hates us.

the riverbend quote is diagnostic.

Being wrong: it depends, really on what you get paid for. If you get paid for your "opinions" success means you're still getting asked for your opinions. If you're getting paid to produce, it's about batting average more than the outcome of a single choice.

Here's a thought that's been rolling around in my head for a while. In two recent books, Imperial grunts and no true glory the OGA (other government agency) is viewed as performing well.

So I've been thinking this way: suppose the CIA really had two operational "levels" strategic and tactical. bing west gives them kudos for their tactical efforts in Iraq.

but the percieved failures of the CIA at the strategic level seem to be accepted as fact.

is this a valid view? Is the CIA designed differently relative to these functions? Is the CIA the proper agency for the strategic stuff?

As for State, give it some time. condi's busy, some change takes a long time and the press will wait until they've milked the Rumsfeld brouhaha before starting in on the good Dr Rice.

5/03/2006 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

fred,
In case you, or anyone missed this great piece by Steele. Does a great job of explaining the mental illness that is liberalism imo.
(Episcopalians and Methodists are ramping up to cough up reparations! -Medved says if anyone should pay, it should be the Democrat party.)
---
Steele Nails it:
White Guilt and the Western Past
SHELBY STEELE.
There is something rather odd in the way America has come to fight its wars since World War II...

(Intensive Psycopharmacological Interventions needed for Liberals!)

5/03/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Not having read the McCaffrey Report but just the synopsis here it would appear that we are winning. That is good.
However, without another exogenous event such as 9-11 this country will never support a ten year commitment to an operation in the ME.
Our leadership will change, funding will evaporate a la Vietnam and the Chinese and Soviets aren't going to remain static while we attempt to fulfill our missions.
Many of these challenges would be mitigated greatly by an emergency commitment toward building nuclear power plants and alternate energy sources.. hell that's been jawboned to death but it's needed.
We need to withdraw our troops from Old Europe with the exception of GB. They've sucked on our teats long enough and now we have in essence aided in the relocation of millions of Muslims into those countries.
Then, let the word go forth from this time and place, that we will not bear their burdens but that IF an exogenous event happens here's a list of countries we will nuke into rubble a priori any long investigations into who did it...we know our enemies.
Soon this country's political landscape will change through the demographics we see developing now and third and fourth parties will develop, complicating governing this nation.
Our "core" will is a spent force.

5/03/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Governor of Nebraska vetoed a Bill to give In State Tuition to ILLEGALS!
Nebraska Numbskulls overrode his veto!
Reward those who break the law, demean those who try to enforce it.
Smart.

5/03/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Dr Insanity said...

Folks,

Just inadvertantly created a blog so I could comment. Don't know for sure if I want a blog right now, but I digress.

What I wanted to post is Ash is very familiar with Iraq the model. He/she posts there regularly with the same take of the situation.

Nahncee nailed it with his comment about Riverbend. She seems around the bend, eh?

I'm really pleased with the reception given to Ash by the commentors on The Belmont club.

General McCaffrey's input is welcome. His assessment of State and MSM is true, in my opinion. I also agree with his 10 year estimate for the Iraqi Police. It may also apply to the formation of the Officer Cadre of Iraq's Military.

I'm hoping and still optimistic that we continue to progress and fight as a nation.

d i

5/03/2006 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Doug

I read Steele's op ed piece yesterday and I have my own take on it. I have turned it over in my brain for quite awhile and I think I've got a handle on it. In fact, there is an advantage of having been a former Leftist back during the late seventies and into the mid to late eighties. I got an inside view of how this has evolved. David Horowitz is right about how "racism" evolved into the nomenclature replacing the traditional Marxist language of class struggle and dialectical materialism. Sometime during the Cold War the Left finally figured out that it was political suicide to continue to use Marxist terminology. They began substituting "racism" for imperialism and class stuggle, and the acceptability of this substitution quite agreed with academia, putting some safe distance between the truth about what Leftists really thought and the window-dressing that was not quite as threatening. I find this kind of deception nauseating and I saw it at work when I was a grad student of philosophy at Loyola of Chicago. Whenever I went to ISM meetings every now and then I was advised to put away the intellectual categories I had dabbled in inside of my study of the Marxist theoreticians and to adapt less threatening terminology in public. This dishonest substitution has burrowed very deeply into the consciousness of the opinion-making class in our society, and its consequences have been very much intended.

5/03/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Skip what makes you think I hate you, or anyone else here?

I think fred's comment is telling in how stubborn so many can be clinging to the fiction that we are (perpetually) turning the corner and the victory is near. Fred maintains "So effective has been the assiduous image-management of the mainstream media that many people simply will not listen to reason and fact." which suggests a tinfoil hat mentaility; there is a conspiracy in the media to tell lies about the situation in Iraq.

Fred also mentions "international agencies condemning us for "human rights abuses,"" as if no abuse ever occurred. To those that maintain that what abuse was discovered the perpetrators have been punished this quote seems quite apt:

"Amnesty listed a series of incidents in recent years involving torture of detainees in U.S. custody, noting the heaviest sentence given to perpetrators was five months in jail.

This was the same punishment you could get for stealing a bicycle in the United States, it added."

Amnesty: Torture 'widespread' in U.S. custody

The US is not fareing well in the eyes of many in the world (for good reason) and lamenting the MSM's portrayal of the OIF does not change what is occuring in Iraq.

5/03/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Ash

I personally know quite well two soldiers who have served in Iraq during the last two years. One is an E-6, the other a captain. Both have experienced the country in a variety of ways, from combat to reconstruction. Ash, I trust what they tell me much more readily than your unimpeachable sources of fact and opinion.

The tinfoil hat you put on me does not fit my pate; it's your size.

5/03/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Plus, Ash, nothing infuriates Leftists more than former Leftists. I am deemed a traitor and lower than pond scum by the more ideologically rigid former aquaintances of mine. And I don't mind it at all. A very, very clarifying experience.

5/03/2006 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Harold C. Hutchison said...

In other words, we are winning everywhere but in our newsrooms.

5/03/2006 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The one-corner path. One of the problems with the metaphor of "turning the corner" is the hidden idea that in the long tortuous path to victory there is simply one corner to turn. There are a succession. That fact blinds many media commentators into thinking the "corners" which have been successfully negotiated are illusory because there is often another one ahead. For them as for many, war is an L-shaped room with One Big Corner which is turned now and forever.

It was probably LBJ's fault, withi his image about seeing "light at the end of a tunnel". It'a valid comparison but it only goes so far. From the very beginning we knew that the War on Terror -- as opposed to the war in Iraq -- was a generational effort. After Iraq there is much more. It will be possible for critics to say "even after we've secured Iraq it seems we've turned the corner once again and just a bit more time and victory will be ours ..." and still cast that as defeat.

5/03/2006 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

fred, are you not familiar with the problems in relying on a soldiers perspective. Vietnam gave us much information on how the military mis-reported what was actually occurring in country. In addition, take a look at what is possible for a soldier to tell us about Iraq. His lack of language skills, his realtively short tour of duty, and the friction and fear experienced when dealing with the 'haji'. Take a look at this soldiers blog
for a take on the experience a soldier gets when he is 'outside the wire'. Unfortunately redalpha2's blog has dissappeared but turningtables
is still up, though he was in country long ago. All these guys write well and portray the 'fog of war' quite nicely.

Dr. Insanity, yes I do read ITM regularily. Maybe you and Nahncee missed this post by Omar.

5/03/2006 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Actually fred, it is quite remarkable how sooooo many Bush supporters state how they were former leftists. I guess that explains the spend spend spend stuff and the rigid ideological nature of it all.

5/03/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

ash....
Are the first two letters of your name TR? Since trash is your forte I thought it might fit.
But hang in there. You may grow your own cadre and be able to mount a full scale disinformation campaign.
You just missed being voted into the Fabian Society, sorry.

5/03/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

ture wretchard, on corners, but its use appears to be more in line with 'tipping point'. If we really are just turning another in a series of corners then it doesn't tell us much about how many more corners are left before...how are we defining victory today?

5/03/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

It comes down to a simple choice. Just as the Joker said in Batman I, who ya gonna trust hubba hubba?

Here are the options today: I can trust Ash, a persistently negative commenters with no establish bona fides.

or McCafferty a military officer who is widely respected.

the choice seems clear to me, and to the other commenters here. hence the response you're getting.

5/03/2006 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger John Samford said...

This will all come to a head way before November. Either Iran will knuckle under an honor their treaty obligations(which is the issue, NOT nuclear weapons), or the USAF or IAF will put an end to those ambitions.
The plain and simple fact is that underground factories need doors. Block those doors and nothing goes in or comes out, which is just as good as destroying the factory. In Military terms it's called a 'mission kill'.
With the addition of the extended range F-16J, the IAF can now reach most of the sites in Iran. They only need to hit 1 or 2. Spreading out a nuclear program into several parts is stoooopid. Destroy any one of those parts and you break the chain and stop the entire process. Spreading out the sites means spreading out the defenses also. So waht was an impossible mission for the IAF back in December is just a difficuly one in May.
The USAF could do it 12 hours after President Bush said to. The Mad Mullahs cannot do anything about it that they are not already doing.
Rummy is right about several things, one of which was the need to get rid of a lot of deadwood at the upper levels. Clinton put in too many of what Hack called 'Perfumed Princes'. Guys that talked the talk without ever walking the walk.
I am currently struggling thru "The Armies of Ignorance" by William R. Corson. As I read on the history of American intelligence agencies, it has slowly come to dawn on me that the USA might be better off as a nation without a CIA, State Department or a pentagon. All 3 perform pre-20th century missions that are not really neded in the 21st. Instead of an Embassey, why not one guy with a cell phone? Keep local power brokers on a retainer to handle the run of the mill things. The CIA needs to do nothing but analysis. Leave the Cowboy stuff to SOCOM.
The pentagon was built to provide a cordination center for a world wide war involving 90% of americans with 12 million of them under arms. It was needed then, it's not now. close it and you will have 30,000 or so more bodies available for combat duties. Don't want to carry a rifle? Put in your papers. Modern Communications makes the co-ordinating funtion of the Pentagon more of a hinderence then a help. And SOComm has proven that E-Bay will get the troops what they need faster and cheaper then Supply Services.

5/03/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Ash

I have since learned a lot more about Vietnam than the impressions imparted to me back when I was in high school watching the news reports from Saigon. For starters, digging into the military history has helped me enormously to discover just how much I had been lied to - by the press, not the government. I recall being too young to completely understand how people can manipulate information and sources. Plus, when I went into the Army in late 1973 I had the advantage of living with some sergeants and getting to know a few officers who had served multiple tours over there. One sergeant was a very close friend of mine and he spoke Vietnamese, and was married to a Vietnamese woman whose first husband was a deceased ARVN major.

I've learned about how disinformation campaigns are waged, especially given my years on the Left. I feel confident I've been lied to more during that period of my life than I am now. Plus, however narrow the perspective of the grunt on the ground, I've never been lied to by a grunt or engineer company commander (the captain I know).

5/03/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

skipsailing..
McCaffrey widely repected? As Clinton's drug czar?
Let's just say he wrote a recent report on Iraq and let it go at that.

5/03/2006 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I don't think McCaffrey (and I don't want to put words in his mouth) will regard us at the "tipping point" in the War on Terror. I think he would argue, as per his own words that 2006 was "start of the new Iraq".

I've consistently argued that the ancien regime in Iraq was finally defeated at the end of 2005. That is to say the Sunni insurgency. That's a "corner" which has been turned. It's a victory. But it's not The Victory. Does that constitute the Tipping Point in Iraq? In this case, it's hard to say because the political struggle, the reform struggle, the democratization struggle is so important. The military victory against Saddam and the insurgents was a necessary, though not a sufficient condition for eventual triumph. That's an accurate statement, I think, but one which many refuse to accept, largely because they are so committed to defeat.

5/03/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Fred, I wouldn't expect a grunt on the ground to lie, only that his experience is very narrow.

skip, I see 'bona fides' are key to you as opposed to actual logic and rational thought. I presume you take the bona fides of those retired generals who've dared to publicly criticize as being correct. Powell has the most bona fides of all then, so what he says must be true. Is that how it works?

5/03/2006 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

wretchard wrote:

"Does that constitute the Tipping Point in Iraq? In this case, it's hard to say because the political struggle, the reform struggle, the democratization struggle is so important."

I've long maintained that using the blunt force of the miltary as a means of winning this struggle is counter productive toward acheiving victory - I've referred to it as the chinese finger trap.

5/03/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Ash, there's a million ways to be wrong about the same fact. One can disgree with Powell on a given topic, and one can also disgree with a five-year-old on the same topic--though for an entirely different reason.

The use of sophistry is considered a dishonest, or bad-faith, debate tactic.

5/03/2006 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

And you're right about war being counter-productive. I'm certain that with just the right verbal formula, everything in pre-OIF Iraq could've been said to've been just fine. I often fault the other war presidents for not availing themselves of this magical way out.

5/03/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

Mr Stamford,
Whew...block the doors..ok cleanup takes a few weeks. Hit one or two sites...clean up and production back in five-six months.
IDF fly the mission ...they could but WE will.
Your solutions are too anticeptic and narrow. You blow all the known sites with the newly created bunker busters good to a depth of over 150 feet through concrete, not to mention the internal pressure created by the explosion. You hit Qum, Tehran ...you kill millions..that will give them pause to think anew.
Anything less and the Russians and Chinese will have that place running again in less than a year.

5/03/2006 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

"I've long maintained that using the blunt force of the miltary as a means of winning this struggle is counter productive toward acheiving victory - I've referred to it as the chinese finger trap."

Which is why McCaffrey's observations about the conspicuous absence of Our Allies, the Press and Civilian Agencies of Government are so damning. It's not that the Civilian Agencies and the Press don't want to participate it's that they haven't adapted to participate. And not just in Iraq. The problem is general and applies just as validly to Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa or the Sulu Archipelago. For them, the world is still at peace.

Rick: If it's December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?
Sam: My watch stopped.

5/03/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

ash,

Your 1:29 PM - how are we defining victory today?

"There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq. Our aim must be to create a viable federal state under the rule of law which does not: enslave its own people, threaten its neighbors, or produce weapons of mass destruction. This is a ten year task." - General McCaffery

General McCaffery's summation is very much that of Secretary Rumsfeld's standard formulation; something that you and most of the media never incorporate into your analyses. Nevertheless, that is their story (Rumsfeld & McCaffery) and they seem to be sticking with it.

On one point, I would disagree with the General: he is much too optimistic in his ten year horizon. I think that my unborn grandchildren will see American troops firmly implanted in the country of Iraq, just as the grandchildren of WWII veterans see the American military still in Europe. I'd like to think that even a Democrat controlled Congress would not be foolish enough to buy the same milk a third time.

While slightly off topic, for those Americans, Iranians, et al, who think that a change in the Congress or the White House will dramatically affect foreign policy in the short-term, they should think again. Many Democratic voters also support the GWOT. Add those to the Republicans and the voting block is formidable. It is easy to talk about disgracing the United States while out of power, it is quite another matter to try to do so when sitting in the hot seat – two years in office is such a short time.

5/03/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

wretchard,
every situation can't be finessed. we are in the middle of a 1939 replay where blunt force would have saved millions.
i suffer no white guilt that Mr. Steele so eloquently wrote about in the WSJ.
there is no moral dictate that prevents the use of overwhelming blunt force culture ending force, particularly after your advisary has repeatedly warned you that no quarter will be given.

5/03/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Allen,

you said - "two years in office is such a short time."

Absolutlely, but also a lifetime. Look at this timeline. Amazing what a little drive will do..

5/03/2006 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Ash said...
"Actually fred, it is quite remarkable how sooooo many Bush supporters state how they were former leftists." - 1:26 PM

While a misattribution to Churchill, I have always been fond of the observation, "If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain."

Nuff said.

5/03/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Barry McCaffrey is a liar.

He lied constantly to promote drug prohibition.

He intimated marijuana was not real mrdicine. He made fun of those whose suffering it relieved.

BTW he did it for Clinton who did not inhale.

Bill Bennett did the same job for the right.

The drug czar job requires lying. Any one who takes such a job is morally tainted.

Google - McCaffrey drug war lies

There is lots of it out there.

And for whose benefit was he lying?

The War On Unpatented Drugs.

5/03/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

Ash,

If there were a "death sentence" for lying, you'd see a lot less US-bashing from NGOs like Amnesty Int'l et al.

At present there's no price to be paid for lying/false-reporting/ enemy-enhancing spin for the press or for the America-haters like you; except falling stock value. Maybe there won't ever be.

But, you should be aware that another horrific strike on the homeland will cause you to re-phrase much of your spew, or personally suffer for it.

In that event the MSM will burn; there will be payback for seditious behavior.

5/03/2006 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Sorry about feeding the troll...

m.simon,

Mexico...that is your destination...Mexico.

5/03/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Nomennovum said...

It seems to me that all this talk about being in Iraq 5, 10, 20 more years misses the point of this long war. Iraq is nothing more than just real estate. Jihadism is worldwide. We are in Iraq now because that's were the jihadists are. We will go when they go, and go where they go.

It's best we all forget this stuff about fighting nation-states -- because, if we don't, we risk taking our eyes off the ball.

5/03/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Last week, another correspondent and I had a brief exchange about the number of cities and the number of deaths it would take to get Americans to accept that the US is at war. He posited one city and a million deaths. I wondered if he might be too optimistic.

Just now, Mr. Moussaoui, complicit in the deaths of 3,000 Americans escaped the death penalty, through jury nullification, I suppose. Dad was bad, don't you know.

It will take more than one city and/or one million American deaths to convince the public that the US is at war. G-d have mercy on us.

5/03/2006 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

....If we wait and allow Wahabbist jihadism to continue metastasizing without reducing certain real estate and cultures to calcine remains we will leave but a shadow of democracy to future generations.
We have been provoked and attacked for over two decades. Tis time to end the exisitence of the fons et origo.

5/03/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Ah yess!

The poppy menace.

Is Addiction Real?

Nothing like a phantom menace to keep the people in line.

Drug prohibition like alcohol prohibition before it is a price support mechanism for criminals. it is based on a false theory: "drugs cause addiction".

Governments love fighting phantom menaces - there is no limit to the power and control that can be acquired in such a fight? Why? Because a phantom menace can never be defeated.

5/03/2006 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

danmeyers,

Not to worry Mexico is coming to America.

Killing Reporters on the Borders.

It is just a matter of time before this level of violence crosses the border.

All fueled by General Barry's Cocaine Price Support and Gang Finance Program.

Do they still teach alcohol prohibition in the schools?

As to my troll credentials - I have been posting here and at LGF since shortly after 9/11. How long you been here?

5/03/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Why would anyone want good troll credentials?

5/03/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

m.simon--You are making a good argument for laying a mine field along the USA/Mexico border.

5/03/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Fred - The thing that I am struck by in McCaffery's comments is his perception that politically, at home, we are in a race against time.

Perhaps because time is short, Fred.

Poland and Italy are bailing in 2006.

We are pissing away 250 billion a year on the "noble, purple-finger stained, freedom-loving Iraqis". While our government has grown bigger and faster under Bush II, Maximum War Leader, than it did under LBJ with 2.8 trillion in new debt, as opposed to LBJs 300 billion. And reports that we will need aother ten years to "fix" the infiltrated Iraqi police, another year or two until we are down to the low hundreds and low thousands in deaths and maimings inflicted on us by the "noble Iraqi people" who love us so, obviously aren't flying well with the American public.

China is eating our lunch. Latin America is falling to Castroism.
Russia is recovering from the burning it took from crony capitalism funneling all riches and productivity to the Elite Few.

I don't see Beloved Maximum War Leader being trusted to start a 3rd ongoing war with Iran after his bungling in Iraq and failure to finish the Taliban off.

What is a more pertinent question is what the next Congress, then the next President will do.

America might be willing to start a third interminable war if the UN or NATO is with us. It won't happen if Bush and his inner circle want it. Nor will "it's good for Israel" logic carry the day - not even the clout of the Israel Lobby will cause another unilateral US war.

5/03/2006 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"Horowitz is right about how "racism" evolved into the nomenclature replacing the traditional Marxist language of class struggle and dialectical materialism. Sometime during the Cold War the Left finally figured out that it was political suicide to continue to use Marxist terminology. They began substituting "racism" for imperialism and class stuggle, and the acceptability of this substitution quite agreed with academia, putting some safe distance between the truth about what Leftists really thought and the window-dressing that was not quite as threatening. I find this kind of deception nauseating and I saw it at work when I was a grad student of philosophy at Loyola of Chicago. Whenever I went to ISM meetings every now and then I was advised to put away the intellectual categories I had dabbled in inside of my study of the Marxist theoreticians and to adapt less threatening terminology in public. This dishonest substitution has burrowed very deeply into the consciousness of the opinion-making class in our society, and its consequences have been very much intended."

Gramsci was the one, so far as I know, who first came to the realization that economic determinism and strict adherence to Marxist ideology was a loser. Patriotism, religion, etc, were too strong. Even more importantly, marxism wasn't a 'science,' and victory was not assured by the march of history. This idiocy only bred complacency.

He turned it into a question of will and action, a constant battle between the "oppressed" and traditional culture. This meant redefining the Marxist definition of the proletariate from an economic term to a cultural term. In practice, it became anyone who could be convinced to tear down the system.

5/03/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

my troll can beat up your troll


just get yur 'ole ghillie suit and grab one of the M40A3 the Corps uses ... protect US cactus from illegal invaders.

5/03/2006 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Go down the list--it's easy, there's only ten items--Gramsci calls for a reverse, inverted, upside/down, backwards, Ten Commandments.

5/03/2006 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

skipsailing says,

McCaffrey is widely respected.

I would like to respect him. I'd like to believe what he says is so. However, he has lied before. For a government policy that he approved of.

Once a man decides the truth is optional in the service of policy his further prouncements are tainted.

5/03/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Fred,

You ever read anything by Stephen Schwarz?

5/03/2006 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

m. simon,

Sorry, I didn't know.... My apologies...

Now that I've grovelled....

What the h*ll did your post have to do with the original post by our gracious host?

Per wikipedia, it looked like a troll post to me..

Sorry if I offended a long-time poster, but hey, what am I - chopped liver?

[that was supposed to lighten things up a bit :-)]

5/03/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

m simon...
#1 everybody lies
#2 you seem to know "the truth"

On the second point how big was that mushroom you ingested?

5/03/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

bobalharb,

A mine field on the border would be a good idea.

Now what do you intend to do about the Crips and Bloods?

And the police corruption that always accompanies a prohibition regime?

And what about the drug companies who sell a lot of anti-depressants for $1 a dose? Do they really want a plant around that can serve the same purpose for 1/10th of a cent a dose" Why do you think there is a war on unpatented drugs? After all Oxycontin is as "addictive" as heroin. Why isn't heroin legal for medical use? (Hint: the drug companies are not protecting you from "addiction", they are protecting their profits from decline.)

The extreme drug violence has been moving steadily north. Colombia. Mexico. I wonder where it will alight next?

When this rock finnlay gets lifted the corruption will make the Abramoff scandal seem like aldermanic corruption in a town of 2,000.

This whole prohibition thing finances our enemies and is a serious hole in our moral armament. It could easily turn folks against the war on Islamic Imperialism. We need to back away from this stupid policy before it seriously hurts us.

The problem as Milton Friedman has pointed out is moral.

And as Clauzwitz has pointed out: the moral in war is often decisive over material factors.

5/03/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

habu,

A line or two about the importance of the CB1 receptor in PTSD would give me some confidence in your bonafides.

Here is my take:

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

5/03/2006 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

danmeyers,

All I was commenting on was the trusworthiness of McCaffery's pronouncements.

As I have said he has lied in the service of government policy in the past. As much as I would like to believe him, how do I know he is not lying now?

He totally ignored the research on drugs available to him that did not bolster government policy when he was Drug Czar.

How do I know he is not doing the same now?

5/03/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

datelined baghdad, the AP reporters have filed this missive about Iraqi politics

" ... Shiite lawmaker Haider al-Ibadi said he opposes such a compromise. “There are some groups insisting on having more than they deserve,” he said. “This must not be done, and we are resisting any attempt to do it.”

In a speech to parliament, the speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, urged the lawmakers to be “the healers” of Iraq's deep sectarian divisions.

But parliament delayed on Wednesday a discussion of amendments to Iraq's new constitution. A constitutional review was promised to Sunni leaders last fall.

Sunni Arabs oppose several constitutonal provisions, including those establishing regional governments and governing distribution of the country's vast oil wealth.

Shiites and Kurds insisted that formation of a committee to study amendments wait until the new Cabinet has been approved.

“This is the beginning of domination by the Kurds and the Shiites who wrote the constitution,” complained Sunni lawmaker Saleh al-Mutlaq, who was a member of the constitutional drafting committee. “I think the constitution is a done deal and no amendments will be made.” ... "


The byline was by Robert H. Reid as well as
"...Associated Press correspondents Sameer N. Yacoub, Bushra Juhi and Tarek El-Tablawy contributed to this report in Baghdad. ..."

5/03/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I admit I am puzzled by why anyone responds to Ash. She isn't actually interested in discussing this.

5/03/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

m. simon

in one breathtaking paper you proved both my points.

i'd like to believe you but studies by the esteemed Dr. Rothbard P. Escobar disproved your work.
are you saying you never lie?
and are you saying your "truth" is the definitive...if you are go back to point #1.

5/03/2006 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Speaking of the Marxism transformation, Fred - what was the going opinion on Bakhunin's critique of Marx? Amazing how prescient he was, and I know Commies and Anarchists tend to run together, so I was curious to know what your experience was.

5/03/2006 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

m. simon,

I guess your somewhat obtuse reference to an implied pro-legalization(?) of codified illegal drugs threw me.

Or, possibly it was - "He lied constantly to promote drug prohibition.

He intimated marijuana was not real mrdicine. He made fun of those whose suffering it relieved."


Not that I don't know anyone that enjoys a few of "those maryjuana roll-your-owns", but the supposition that his support of our drug policy makes him a liar, well... Link it, source it, whatever.

Oh, BTW - yes, they still teach alcohol "prohibition" in schools. Also, nicotine "prohibition". The issue is not that they "brain-wash" our children, is it?

5/03/2006 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

danmeyers,

It is not his support of porohibition that made him a liar.

It was the unwillingness to deal honestly with counterfactuals. We have a 5,000 year history of marijuana aas medicine. We had quite a few studies in McCaffrey's term showing pot could treat quite a few things, including the fact that the whole drug or components might have serious anti-cancer properties. Most notably lung cancer.

He never dealt with nor refuted any of these arguments.

BTW he did say America's murder rate was twice the American rate because of their drug policy. Actually it is 1/4 the American rate. (drug policy may or may not be a factor). The Dutch Ambassador contacted the General. He never retracted.

Kind of looks like the big lie theory of government.

BTW if drugs do not cause addiction (people with chronic problems - like PTSD - chronically use drugs - duh) then what exactly is the government protecting us from.

And if they are actually just protecting prison guard jobs and big pharma profits there is going to be big hell to pay.

Government will lose its moral legitimacy. Very bad in time of war.

5/03/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

our government has power

it's a bit short on moral legitimacy

but it still lets us be as stupid as we want to be

5/03/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Drug prohibition finances criminals and terrorists, it corrupts law enforcement, it punishes people in need of medical help.

And that is well beyond the $40 a year cash you are paying to finance this mess.

Most folks can't wait to pay in the hopes government will protect their kids from drug abuse.

The #1 cause of drug abuse in America is severe child abuse. Rapes, beatings, severe emotional violence.

Heroin

Of course it serves very well to say to the victims of trauma: "just get over it". However, 20% of the population with different genetics don't get over it.

Genetic Discrimination.

I used to be a legalizer (Libertarian and all that).

My position now is utilitarian.

1. What is our policy
2. What are the profits and losses of the policy
3. Does our policy match our understanding of the underlying factors.

The new head of the NIDA is starting to edge away from the "drugs cause addiction" theory.

The evidence is really piling up against it. We get a significant new piece of the puzzle about monthly.

This is a serious problem and the Rs are going to be blinsided if they don't get up to speed.

5/03/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

habu_1,

Yep, perfection is not a standard, that standard is a fools folly.

5/03/2006 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The General believes it will take "ten years" in Iraq, to modify their behaviour,
This, while not an encouraging word, at least assumes that US will stay in Iraq, 'til then.

This is in direct contratiction to statements made by Iraq's National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie.
"... Rubaie said he expected current U.S. troops of roughly 133,000 to be cut to less than 100,000 by the end of this year and an "overwhelming majority" of U.S. forces should go home by the end of 2007 under a U.S.-Iraqi "roadmap" that calls for progressively handing over security to Iraqi forces.

"We have a road map, a condition-based agreement where by the end of his year the number of Coalition forces probably will be less than 100,000.

"By the end of next year the overwhelming majority of Coalition forces would have left the country and probably by middle of 2008 there will be no foreign soldiers in the country," he told Reuters. ... "


Now this in and of itself would mean little, but when General Casey confirms the first part of the "Road Map" schedule is valid, there is little reason to doubt the rest of Mr al-Rubaie's statement.

Unless the US is engaged in a "Grand Lie" with the Iraqi, there will be no "ten years",
best get a move on.

5/03/2006 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Should read:



BTW he did say America's murder rate was twice the Dutch rate because of their drug policy. Actually it is 1/4 the American rate. (drug policy may or may not be a factor). The Dutch Ambassador contacted the General. He never retracted.

5/03/2006 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Cutler,

No I haven't read anything from Stephen Schwartz. Should I just google him or do you have some recommendations in mind? Suggestions are welcome.

When approaching a topic like McCaffery's report, its context, and how it interfaces with other players in this drama, I just read as much as I can, knowing that I cannot possibly be a master of any of it. I try to see if I can fit any of it into what I have learned about war, Islam, nation building, history, culture - and then try to find the very essence of the problem.

From the time of the wars between Athens and Sparta on through to Rome's struggles against Carthage, democracies and republics face a common problem: you must have the support of the people in order to fight and win a protracted conflict. There is no getting around this. If you lose the support of the people, and your enemy has the greater will, the outcome should be obvious. This is the lesson of history that I fear is lost on our people and our political, military, and media classes. We have never faced an enemy like this before. This enemy is confident that he can outlast us and, quite frankly, he has good reason to be so confident. Will to win counts a lot in war. One has to have an unwavering belief in the necessity of the war's objectives. Against resurgent Islam, the fate of our civilization hangs in the balance, but Americans and Western Europeans do not seem to grasp this. They underestimate this enemy because they cannot imagine technologically inferior, 7th century rustics having any advantage over us. What's worse, many think that these people are like troublesome adolescents who are eventually going to succumb to the blandishments of the material comforts of our way of life. A little less poverty and these rumbling jihadis will come around. They'll eventually give up this 72 virgins thing and want to live instead of dying in the cause of al illah. This kind of corruption and cynicism on our part is deadly - to ourselves, not our enemies.

We have the technology. They have the will and they have the numbers (demographically speaking). We're enervated; they are energized.

We're in trouble.

5/03/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

m simon
.. i believe some of your points are valid.
nixon declared war on drugs about 40 years ago.
i have been of the opinion that you legalize it, control it's distribution and ,of course tax it. then let as much of the population as cares to narco out to their hearts content..
BUT NO GOVERNMENT AID IN REHAB..let them die in the gutters or down south fall off the sides of pick up trucks while passing a doobie. up north freeze in the snow..out west let Barbra take 'em all in for care.
I know Coca Cola never been the same feel good drink it once was...do you have any insight into what DR. SZASZ believes we ought to do?

5/03/2006 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

dr,

Just because we have only 50,000 troops or so in Iraq doesn't mean it is not a 10 year committment.

5/03/2006 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Welcome aboard, fred.
There really is no war.

Sad to say, but the evidence mounts, daily.

We ain't gonna study "War no Mo'"

Manana is not a Policy

nor are "wink & nod" projections

5/03/2006 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

m. simon

Mr al-Rubaie did not say 50,000 or so, he said "None".
Mr Maliki has said "None", before, while spokesman for Mr al-Jaafari.
"None" means "None".
not 50,000.

5/03/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

fred..
it is possible for us NOT to get into a protracted war. we can bomb them back into the stone age contrary to what was said during Vietnam. we just don't have any leaders who,as Abe Lincoln said "Can face the arthimetic"..he finally found Grant who just killed and killed and killed. sometimes there just comes a time for that. now is the time, we have the power.

5/03/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Re:DR. SZASZ,

I have corresponded with him. He would prefer that the moral argument win without refrence to utilitarian question.

He thinks that is a slippery slope. I agree.

However, I think the lessons learned might actually prevent or even reverse such trends.

I'm a pragmatist. I think utilitarian arguments will help my case. I put them out there.

What really worries me is that if the Ds get in front of this train the real war could be in real trouble.

In Vietnam it was racism. The fookin communists were out front on that one. We took a big moral hit because of it. Never recovered in time.

If it becomes widespread knowledge that drugs do not cause addiction and it comes from the Dems the Rs are in trouuble.

However, Bush's new head of NIDA makes me think he is paying attentiion even of this seemingly obscure matter.

5/03/2006 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

desert rat,

That is none in the bye 'n bye.

Translation:

In the near future troop levels will be going down significantly. However, for right now we need all the help we can get. At this time I'm totally committed to no troops at some future date. (TBD)

Ten years minimum.

5/03/2006 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

M simon..
you lost me on the vietnam racist thing..are you saying it was a racist war?

5/03/2006 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cardiakke said...

Nice fantasy. But it won't happen.

They are Arabs, the are Muslims, they are crazy.

Draw down the American troops, they will start killing each other on a massive scale.

5/03/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Drugs don't cause addiction? Really now. Meth? Opium? Heroin? I recall Odysseus had to TIE HIS MEN TO THE MAST to get them out of there. 5000 years of marijuana as medicine? Ok, the evidence of any benefit at all is greatly contested.And there is evidence the other way as well. We have had 5000 years of leech bleeding as well. China kicked its opium habit. Get tough enough we could do the same. Or let them die on the street, I quess, if you don't want the government in it at all. I think I'd get tired of stepping over the dead bodies. So far in all my years I have NEVER seen anyone who was improved by illegal drugs. My daughter went to a funeral about 10 days ago. Some kid she knew a little in high school. O.D. I know it is a complex problem as there is a rainbow of different drugs having all sorts of different effects on different people. I know some law enforcement agencies too are corrupted by it. But I keep thinking about stepping over all the dead bodies. If we go the Netherlands route, the government is still in it, is it not? Endless prescriptions, endless treatment, a citizenery a good portion of which has simply given up. I remember what that square in Amsterdam looked like when I was there in the 60's. Kids laying around zonked out everywhere. The Dutch don't seem to have a lot of will to survive any longer, many people say.

5/03/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

habu_1,

During the Vietnam War MLK was out in the streets agitating for equal rights. So was I.

The opression of blacks in America was proof that we were oppressing the Vietnamese.

"No Viet Cong Ever Called Me Nigger" was a common slogan of the day.

In any case it raised moral doubt.

I'd hate to see us do that again.

5/03/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

bobalharb,

As I asked another earlier. Tell be your take on the connection between the CB1 receptor and PTSD.

Once you know the facts, then we can discuss policy.

Or maybe you might want to tell me about recent experiments by B. Lutz and others on CB1 knock out mice.

Care to have a go?

5/03/2006 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

But OK. I'll bite.

If drugs cause addiction why doesn't everyone who tries them get addicted?

5/03/2006 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Fred,

Schwartz is a National Review/Weekly Standard commentator on radical Islamic ideology. He's also a former fellow traveler who developed a visceral hatred of Communism, and written numerous books on both subjects (including The Two Faces of Islam. Sadly, I haven't yet gotten to his books, but I've read and enjoyed a number of his comments at the "History of American Communism" discussion board, here.

For an example, see here.

Your interests and opinions are obviously pretty parallel, so I thought you might be interested.

5/03/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

m simon...
You said "The opression (sic) of blacks in America was proof that we were oppressing the Vietnamese"

Well dude you're one sick puppy. I'm sure you're highly gratified you marched with the adulterous,plagaristic, and racist pig MLK but then that's what makes horse races.
And the mule thing at the funeral, what a gas. Damn good shot that thar fella made. One shot, one kill. Yep darn good'un.

5/03/2006 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Cutler,

Thanks much for the info about Mr. Schwarz. I'm going to follow up and digest what I can of his work. Ya know, I may have read a few of his columns in recent years, but just spaced it out. Information overload...

5/03/2006 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Because some people have more will power than others. And because drugs act differently on different people. There is a certain type of metabolism that makes some people highly prone to alcoholism, for insstance. Obviously some drugs are much more dangerous than others.Some of it may be a kind of spiritual problem. Some people that have some kinds of spiritual experiences seem to give it up. Don't have all the answers, but if the government is not in it at all you have dead people on the streets. If prohibition, some of the problems you talk about, if legal and the government is the regulator, then all sorts of other problems. Which came first, the abused child, or the drug using parents--the chicken or the egg. With many prescription drugs, people end up doctor shopping. It's a problem, no easy solution.

5/03/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

habu_1,

Actually I didn't say that.

I said it was a common impression that our enemies took advantage of.

We could be setting our selves up for a similar problem re: the opression of drug users.

Not only that but because of our stupid laws our returning troops are not getting the best possible treatment for PTSD:

Cannabis is the Best Medicine.

the Israelis are trying to do better:

Aftermatth

5/03/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

habu_1,

American racism was wrong whether opposed by MLK or Stalin.

I'm trying to give you a flavor of the times and you go all hysterical on me about the moral failings of leaders in general and MLK in particular.

And yes - I do think there is good evidence of his communism.

So what?

All gods have feet of clay.

Bush does look like a chimp. I'm sorry. I do generally like the guy (I liked Clinton too). But Bush can do the chimpy thing without even trying. And where is he on fiscal restraint? And getting the government out of medicine?

Well any way. I still like him.

We will at least survive him and possibly prosper.

===============================

BTW that was why the charge of racism was so devastating even when it came from communists. It was true. It was ugly. It was a matter of not living up to our ideals.

If people see the drug war as a persecution of battered children: god help us.

5/03/2006 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

simon..
if it was a common impression our enemies took advantage of it was because people like you were aiding the enemy in forming that impression.
people like you according to Uncle Ho and Gen. Giap said that you gave them the will to fight on, that they were licked on the field and ready to capitulate but that your kind gave them strength. you are the direct cause of thousands of dead soldiers. the blood on your hands can never be washed clean. you are a traitor to this country and if we ever met ..well best left unsaid.
by the way oppression has two p's in it.

5/03/2006 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

fini

5/03/2006 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

About drugs and addiction...

I know we are supposed to refrain from being too personal here, as Wretchard would prefer it. Still, for illustrative purposes I have to cite anectdotal, personal experience. I think a strong case can be made that the phenomenon is more complex than simple reductionistic arguments. Let me explain. I recently had a right hip arthroplasty. Post op one is put on narcotic pain medications. Five years ago, when I had the left hip done, I was put on percocet first, with morphine boosters if I needed it. When they ran out of percocet at Mass. General Hospital they used oxycontin on me. For the record, I hate narcotic pain meds. They make me sick. Morphine doesn't, and I never acquired an addiction to it. There are people who would kill to get ahold of the leftover oxycontin and percocet I have in my medicine cabinet (I kept them for any just-in-case bad emergency). This time around they used oxycodone on me with morphine boosters if I needed it. I HATE oxycodone too, as the side effects are awful for me (severe hot flashes, constipation, and weird dreams with shallow sleep). As soon as I got home from the hospital I stopped using it and simply relied on extra strength tylenol.

Now, I've known people who have become addicted to pain medications. Why them and not me? Brain chemistry has a lot to do with it. There are psychological factors as well. I tried marijuana many years ago when I was 19 and home on leave from the Army. Didn't do a thing for me, plus I hate inhaling smoke anyway. Now, I come from a family with a mother who has been addicted to nicotine since she was 13 years old and has failed twice to quit smoking. My father had his bouts of problems with alchohol in his younger days and has since gotten it under control. I have a brother who had a bad drinking problem and has since stopped it and his life is much better now. I have another brother who did a lot of drugs when he was in the Army, but he got religion after some time in the stockade and has been on the straight and narrow since. My three other siblings are like me: we drink very lightly and we do not have any addictions.

There is medical evidence that addiction can be triggered simply by the way a particular drug chemically alters the brain in a subtle way. I have known guys who have tried cocaine once and never used it again. Like me, somehow it made them sick and they wanted none of that.

So, as you can see it's a complex thing. On balance, I prefer to err on the side of conservatism and maintain very strict controls over these substances. The damage done to so many lives just outweighs the possible benefits that exist in the minds of those who are libertine or libertarian about narcotics.

5/03/2006 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

wretchard wrote:

"Which is why McCaffrey's observations about the conspicuous absence of Our Allies, the Press and Civilian Agencies of Government are so damning. It's not that the Civilian Agencies and the Press don't want to participate it's that they haven't adapted to participate. And not just in Iraq. The problem is general and applies just as validly to Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa or the Sulu Archipelago. For them, the world is still at peace."

While I would agree that it is crucial for a broad international coalition to be deployed in order for a notion that invade/occupy can lead to democracy I am puzzled by your line "they haven't adapted to participate." It sounds like you are maintaining that only the US has evolved to a point that it is 'adapted' to participate. While this is in fact false, the UK is engaged in Iraq, and quite a large number of nations are engaged in Afghanistan (NATO) and Gulf War I involved many nations. Still, it would be better if even more nations put their shoulder to the wheel backed by a legalistic institution such as the ICC to address international problems, like Iran.

So many nations are not "they haven't adapted to participate." in Iraq because of the Bush admins posture in the lead up to the war (it simply didn't make sense on the core assertion that war was necessary to address the WMD question) and the Bush administration spurning any UN involvement (remember the chain of command discussions/arguments?) after invasion that now it is like a toxic mess for any nation to even consider putting any troops on the ground in Iraq. What nations that are currently engaged are desparately trying to find a way to get their troops out.

5/03/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

habu_1,

I'm sorry. You don't hurt innocent people just because a war is on. The argument you posed was made at the time and rejected.

Racism was wrong and the Dems and Rs. who didn't give in at once (and the Ds were in the majority of the pro Jim Crow crowd) made the pain last longer than necessary.

I can see the same thing happening with the drug thing.

We would have been better off accelerating the change rather than resisting it.

How can you possibly justify persecuting abused children?

If you can't answer that question from a satisfactory moral standpoint your enemies will crucify you.

I'm trying to head off disaster by fixing the problem at once. You propose burying it. Cover up.

That's the ticket. Coumpound the crime so that it costs us even more morally. You can'tget away with that when you have an internet.

I'm telling the folks on the left. I'm telling the folks on the right.

Let us see who makes best use of the information.

5/03/2006 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Allen as another of the many Belmont former leftists,I also thought of the Churchill quote(or whoever said it).My path was a little more convoluted;rage fueled by substance abuse stirred by madness in the air(late 1960's-mid 1970's).Now those on the left are buffoons ,charlatans,cowards.Ash is a good example .Her/His lightly disguised contempt for soldiers as ill informed dolts speaks worlds about how nauseating Ash's worldview is,
So Massaoui was exonerated by a jury of Ash's peers.Z.M. declared "America Lost".Not so fast,Turdbreath.Plenty of us out here and moreso on the frontlines who haven't lost our nerve.At least Massaoui will spend 24 hours a day in solitary.Good preparation for Hell where justice will ultimately be served.

5/03/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

"madness in the air"
Gotcha. It was there, in truth.

5/03/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Terry Gain said...

McCaffrey confirms what one would logically have expected. How do a few thousand insurgents who offer nothing but despair, death, tyranny and destruction defeat 25 million people who want to live free when the latter are backed by the most dedicated, moral and lethal force ever asembled?

Well, of course, they don't -unless they are attacked from within and dis-armed.

How ironic therefore that the first post on this site is that of Fifth Columnist (or mere traitor) who,not prepared to reveal himself calls himself "ash". This is truly sad.

A nation so strong yet not strong enough to stand up to the attack from within.

ash, you and your ilk may get your party elected but you will lose your country to people more determined to secure their objectives than you could ever imagine.

Best post yet is fred's 12:36: post.

Good luck in November from your Canadian friend. That is when this war will be decided. No matter how obvious it may be that you have won, lose the election and the Democrats and their MSM friends will (again) snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

5/03/2006 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

The weakness of the situation in Iraq makes it likely that a military strike against Iran would make things worse in Iraq.

The Iranians have said that if the US attacks them they will retaliate first against Israel. Perhaps that is true but they will surely attack Iraq and US forces in Iraq shortly thereafter.

It's hard to predict what effect Iranian missiles fired on Baghdad will have but it's not likely to be good for our side. Maybe it would bring the Iraqis together. Maybe it would give the US more of a free hand in an attack on Iran. I think it must give us pause though to consider the outcome.

5/03/2006 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

cedarford,

Your 4:17 PM

In your post you raised the issue of national debt, comparing that of 1968 to 2005. While it pains me to admit the possibility, you have a point worth considering in the context of the GWOT.

In 1968, the GDP was about 3,650 billion and the debt about 358 billion. The percent debt to GDP was about 9.8%.
In 2005, the GDP was approximately 11,130 billion and the debt 7,933 billion. The percent debt to GDP was, then, 71.3%.

Using 1967 of base 100, the CPI has risen in this same period to something over 606.

Consequently, neither inflation nor productivity operates to mitigate the staggering level of Federal debt now owed by the people of the United States. Moreover, the time honored argument of “we owe it to ourselves” is neither true nor sufficient.

When the anticipated entitlement costs of the senescence and retirement of the baby boom are added, the projected debt becomes incomprehensible and, frankly, unmanageable.

These numbers are, without doubt, known to our very patient adversaries. It would seem that time is not on our side. On a positive note, perhaps, much of the rest of the developed world is in the same boat.

Interestingly enough, those who control the single indispensable commodity, energy, should continue to profit handsomely, even in the face of a worldwide depression, G-d forbid. This might be the best possible reason for maintaining a militarily strong, long-term, strategic presence in Iraq. It would also be an excellent reason for preventing the birth of another Islamic nuclear power.

I will now retire, while buddy larsen reduces this thesis to pulp. Here’s buddy!

5/03/2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Why me, Allen--I don't like the overloaded unfunded liabilities any more than C4 does.

But do look at the whole picture: USA debt:equity ratio is low @ .15 (of course the 8 trillion debt against 50+ trillion household net worth doesn't even measure the public assets).

Obviously we can't debt-finance forever--only so long as the return on the debt is positive, and at some point the global market will saturate.

But for now we're getting a nifty return on the debt, thank productivity growth and global trade.

The bankers and finance ministers use the yield on long gov't paper as the health checkup--short rates are gov't influenced but the long rate is pure open market. Our long-rate is a little over 5%--very healthy.

We're in a global boom, I hate to say. Why do I hate to say it? Because it sounds like boosterism. But truth is, it's for real.

Bulls are raising the standard of living the world over--phenomenally, while bears are bidding up gold and making regular runs at the Dollar.

The battle so far is to the bulls, making the supply-side case that inflation is a monetary phenomenon (too many dollars chasing too few goods) and the powerful global growth rate--demand-driven--is suppying the goods to sop up the liquidity growth.

However, we have some real economic worries--the three-quarters of the federal budget that is non-discretionery is growing at an unsustainable rate--we have to either grow into it or tax out of it--or change the structure.

The left wants to tax out of it, which will Europeanize the economy, and socialize the nation.

The right wants to grow into it, with the structural changes to market-drive the safety net funding.

We have to decide and pretty soon, what kind of country we're gonna be.

5/03/2006 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

GWB populist?

5/04/2006 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

fred,
Exactly, esp regarding their shading of the language in service of their lies.
I got a close look at the left from a different perspective and came to the same conclusions.

It's sad sometimes to see the assumptions people make who haven't had the benefit of seeing leftists as they really are in the flesh.
Much too much credit given for "Good Intentions" which are in fact non-existent.

5/04/2006 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I second Habu's 2:14 PM.

The absurdity of the world being at risk from this 12th century menance is lost only on the Politically Correct, and those that still waste time addressing their nonsense as tho it has any substance.

5/04/2006 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

"Much too much credit given for "Good Intentions" which are in fact non-existent."

I second that emotion.

5/04/2006 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

Your 11:03 PM - why me

G-d hates you!

No, I expected and got a reasoned response - one that lends itself readily to further consideration and correspondence. You were the person coming immediately to mind in that regard. Your nomination was complimentary.

Thanks.

5/04/2006 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger tiredbeingcool said...

The General played no small part in damaging the political will behind this war. His constant complaining about tactics and strategy on TV fed the media's efforts to hurt public support. It will be interesting to see if he'll change his talking head tune and resist efforts to use his appearances to attack Rumsfeld and the Administration instead of emphasizing points he's made in this memo. Note to Barry: The quickest way to pull the plug on this entire effort is to elect a Democrat President in 2008.

5/04/2006 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

Your 12:27 AM

Thanks for the link to the WSJ. The numbers cited support those I attempted to give to C4 sometime ago, to no avail it seems. This comes as no surprise. There are always those who insist that greed is abhorrent, refusing to acknowledge that wealth creation does, in fact, lift all boats, both absolutely and relatively. For those who deny human nature its due with reference to wealth, they are, I believe, guilty of another all too human trait – envy.

How different the world would have been had Karl Marx simply gotten a job and gone to work, rather than wallowing in self-piteous envy.

5/04/2006 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

The GWoT should never, ever have been politicized in the firast place. To so politicize--under the pressure of the 2004 election--was a terrible, terrible decision.

(PS--thanks, Allen...be sure and save that "GWB populist?" link, for sometime when you need/want that sort of info)

5/04/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Allen--we crossed posts--but I agree, Marxism at the deepest level is an ideology of hatred. It's just a hateful vision of mankind, and an attempt to punish. It has never created anything but misery and death.

5/04/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger milquetoast said...

m.simon wrote:
Why isn't heroin legal for medical use? (Hint: the drug companies are not protecting you from "addiction", they are protecting their profits from decline.)

Because no one wants it for medical use. Heroin(hint: aka diacetylmorphine) is inert until enzymes metabolize it into morphine. Why add an extra step to get the same effect? What if a medical condition has affected the level of enzymes and the heroin won't be converted and therefore won't be effective?

You have no credibility and sound like a loon.

5/04/2006 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Marxism travels well on the "unfairness" of concentration of wealth, because that concentration is for a fact disturbing to the integrity of a polity. But if not allowed, that polity is robbed of incentive (AKA "earthly hope").

Property will not distribute per capita on its own, because people think, work, risk, and yes, luck-out, at different levels. The only non-incentive-destroying, soul killing, answer to the "distribution problem" is progressive income taxation (boy do we have THAT!) and wealth-philanthropy (in which, though we could always do better--for example, google "Ted Kennedy-Fiji"--what we DO do is quite admirable).

Institutionalized equality of outcome leads inexorably to abolishment of property, then political power, then personal liberty--it always has, and all it has ever achieved is further impoverishment and the eventual industrial-scale creation of corpses as the living beings become a drag on the "future".

Marx was one of those characters who was so enamored of Mankind in the abstract that his own dependents were consigned to misery--a familial theme invariably seen in the personal lives of will-to-power Utopians.

5/04/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Milquetoast on Heroin might sound loonish too, if not even perhaps buffoonish.
Holy Milquetoast, Karl, what hath Man Wrought?

Don't Blow it Karl: Get a Job.

5/04/2006 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I always wondered why H always seemed so tame.
Just differently abled in yet another way, I guess.
This time enzymatically.
Shoot the Juice to me Bruce:
I'm Mainlining Moriphine, thanks.

5/04/2006 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

milquetoast,

No doubt you have a point. And yet some claim that heroin is a superior pain reliever.

Which makes very little difference to my main point. "Addicts" are using illegal drugs to solve the same problems doctors use legal drug for. The difference between the two "kinds" of drugs?

The medical cartel does not see much profit potential in unpatented drugs.

5/05/2006 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

buddy et. al.,

Marx was no Marxist. He thought capitalism would hve to run its course.

It is the romantic true believers who want to speed things up at the point of a gun.

5/05/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Graff said...

I don't expect any of the defeatists to listen, but I'd like to make two points.

First, regarding 'turning the corner'.

During Vietnam, this phrase was associated with the point at which things would start getting better. Each year the government would promise that we would 'turn the corner', but each year led to new disappointments and a steadily deteriorating situation. Casualties only began to come down when America began to retreat. In contrast, in Iraq we've already turned the corner. We turned the corner in the battle of second Fallujah, and things have been getting steadily better ever since. Turning the corner doesn't mean that victory will be next week or even next month. It simply means that we've turned the corner, and that the insurgency is past its peek intensity. That is demonstratably true.

Second, on the subject of soldiers reports from the field. It's worth noting that in Veitnam, popular approval of the war was significantly higher than approval of the war from soldiers in the field. Soldiers in Veitnam became convinced we were losing, became convinced that war wasn't worth fighting long before the majority of Americans felt the same way. Soldiers in Vietnam by and large wanted to convey to the public that they wanted to leave, but civilian political leaders and the media painted a far different rosier picture. By contrast, in the second Gulf War, military support of the war and the military assessment of success is much higher than public support of the war and the public's assessment of success. Soldiers in the field by and large want to convey to the public that they wish to stay and complete the mission, but the media paints a different far gloomier picture.

5/08/2006 09:20:00 PM  
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