Monday, September 18, 2006

The Necromonger Way

Think Iraq was a mistake? What about Iran? Or is everything a mistake? The McClatchey Newspapers reports (hat tip, Winds of Change):

Washington - In an echo of the intelligence wars that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a high-stakes struggle is brewing within the Bush administration and in Congress over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program and involvement in terrorism.

U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials say Bush political appointees and hard-liners on Capitol Hill have tried recently to portray Iran's nuclear program as more advanced than it is and to exaggerate Tehran's role in Hezbollah's attack on Israel in mid-July.


The challenge of Iran is forcing Washington to face the same type of questions it faced in 2003, before OIF. How should it act in Iran or has that now become an impossible question to answer because of the controversy over Iraq? One way to dodge the issue is to argue that any position toward Iran has been precluded by Iraq. Or put another way, confronting Iran would have been possible if only we didn't ruin everything by first getting involved in Iraq. This is a specific version of the more general belief that the West is precluded from acting on anything because of its historical burden of guilt. Got it wrong for the start and therefore need to earn the right to begin again. Therefore the crazy emphasis in modern politics on expatiation as a way of acquiring the "moral authority" to act in the world. How this moral authority can be acquired without actually doing anything becomes a recursive problem. It also reduces politics to a kind of perverted theology. One day people may discover liberalism is actually a primitive form of Necroism, after a fictional religion in the Chronicles of Riddick Universe. "The Necromongers practice a religion known as Necroism. The primary belief of this religion is that life in this universe is a mistake which must be corrected." And so the Necromongers go through the galaxy destroying everything because it's all tainted in the hopes of eventually attaining the Underverse, where everything gets recreated perfectly.

But unfortunately for us, we are midway through the test of life. Are we all ready to tackle question No. 4, however we fared in question No. 3? Or should we throw it all away because we didn't do it perfectly? But how can we say that if we don't the correct answers yet? That's history's trick question.

51 Comments:

Blogger James Kielland said...

"confronting Iran would have been possible if only we didn't ruin everything by first getting involved in Iraq."

In a sense, I think you're quite right here. The lies, the sheer BS that our administration put forth in order to make the case for Iraq have, quite simply, devastated the administration's credibility and the credibility of the United States. There's really no getting around this.

And you can't blame the left for this. Nor the UN. Nor clueless Europeans. Ultimately, the responsibility for the outcome of Operation Iraqi Freedom lies only with the administration.

And in this sense, Operation Iraqi Freedom has been a catastrophe. A catastrophe that goes far beyond the tens of thousands of dead, the thousands of limbs blown off, and the rapidly approaching $1 trillion dollar price tag. Beyond all of this, the US has been left with very little credibility.

When you run around on the world stage and kill a lot of people and juice it all up with fine sounding phrases about bringing democracy and human rights or ridding the world of dangerous weapons... and you do NONE of those find sounding things BUT manage to destroy tens of thousands of lives... people do tend to become skeptical.

And so now, when confronted with the spectre of a nuclear Iran the chickens really come home to roost, don't they? Now, it would appear as if a country REALLY IS persuing WMD and we might want to do something about it. But after Iraq, why should Europe or anyone else want to listen to this administration's claims about WMD? Why on Earth would any Americans, for that matter?

Historical burden of guilt has nothing to do with it. The invasion of Iraq was, by all appearances, a fundamental raping and pillaging of one nation by another for the financial benefit of a small number of American corporations. It may have been for other reasons, but there is certainly no evidence of that.

Let's look at the evidence: friends of the administration got lots of money. None of the original war aims were achieved.

And now, when we look at Iran, we can believe the administration's unsubstantiated BS about uranium enrichment. Or, like the rest of the world, we can take a look at all the glorious business opportunities awaiting us in the Caspian basin. And if we look purely at the track record of Iraq, what are we to believe is the real motive in all of this talk about Iran?

9/18/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

james kielland wrote:
"The lies, the sheer BS that our administration put forth in order to make the case for Iraq have, quite simply, devastated the administration's credibility and the credibility of the United States."

I know. I lie awake at night trembling that the Congolese & the Sudanese & the French may no longer trust the US.

There is only one answer -- OJ showed us how the guilty ought to behave. Under the leadership of the New York Times & their political arm, the US should take the US hostage. Get those nuclear-armed bombers in the air; turn those nuclear submarines around to face the US-- then tell the world that the US will nuke the US unless they all start playing nice.

9/18/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

If I had a dollar for every time intelligence got it wrong, I'd be a rich man. Hitler's WMDs. The poor eyesight of Japanese pilots. The safety of Seoul in 1950. The unwillingness of the Chinese to cross the Yalu. The safety of the Pueblo in International Waters. The safety of Marines in Beirut. The unlikelihood Saddam would invade Kuwait. The power of the Shi'ites to rise against Saddam. The Sudanese aspirin factory. The location of Osama Bin Laden before firing 100 cruise missiles. The impregnability of Manhattan. The statesmanship of the Hezbollah.

And when does a mistake "wear off", if mistake there was? Unfortunately the pitcher keeps pitching and you have to keep swinging, or leave the game.

9/18/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Ed onWestSlope said...

The comment by jk leaves me nearly speechless. Actually, astounded by the abilities of jk to throw out complete sentences which are divorced from reality. WOW!

9/18/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

Liberals were always able to get 'do-overs' from their teachers... they can't believe that the Mullahs won't give us the same chance, if we're nice to them.

Duh.

9/18/2006 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

And if we look purely at the track record of Iraq, what are we to believe is the real motive in all of this talk about Iran?

James,

The answer is obvious- Cheney and Halliburton want to corner the market on Persian rugs and pistachios. Of course they're going to steal the oil, too. When the world discovers there wasn't any nuke program there, after all, they'll just say oops.

Memes like this that started even before OIF began have undercut our ability to blunt real risks to our security and economy. Several years after 9-11 and no major attacks here (thanks to luck and some intel/security measures), we're all ho-hum about the Islamist threat/what threat? Recriminations over Iraq are more important to partisans than the Mullahs getting the Bomb and Ahmadinejad cooling saying crazy genocidal things. Yawn.

9/18/2006 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

There's really no use even talking to someone like JK, he's chasing ideological ghosts.

9/18/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Ed:

I'm sorry you're speechless. I was going rather light, merely reiterating what many people around the world feel to be true.

Wretchard,

You make a great point in bringing up the previous intel failures. I sympathize with the case I believe you're trying to make when you ask, "when does a mistake wear off?" And unfortunately, what I think or how I would respond to that really doesn't matter.

Due to how the administration pitched and handled this war, it lost credibility. We might be able to insist that the rest of the world was unfair in their judgments. But I suspect that, increasingly, in our contemporary world fueled by hyperactive global communications, that the management of public opinion will continue to be an exceptionally important strategic arena. It probably won't matter how many enemies divisions are destroyed, how many bad guys are tortured, or how many potential nuke sites are set back a few years... if you find yourself more isolated and less free to act then when you started.

There seems to be a certain insistence in many of your posts that the Left is just too demanding or the Europe doesn't get it, and that if only we could overcome their crazy ideas of moral equivalence or whatever, we'd be free to act more effectively.

But the left, or liberals, or public opinion in European countries is a strategic reality. They are, quite simply, an actor in the contemporary battlespace. Sustained warfare requires diplomacy and alliances. The best and most capable allies are democracies. Democracies require high levels of leadership and trust in order to gain cooperation. The administration appears to have entered into a war without much of a plan on how to deal with this strategic reality which is really as elemental as the weather.

As you of course know, war is an extension of politics. But war, and politics, are also extensions of technology and values. The vast body of military history does not tell us how to lead hyper-connected democracies through highly trying times. Once, we had censors and limited methods of communication. Once, no one knew what was going on in other countries or what the real reasons for war were. The management of public opinion was a simple affair, the establishing of alliances could be managed by diplomats simply making good deals behind closed doors.

That's just not how it is anymore. War has become much more complicated than many on the right seem to be willing to face. The real face of network centric warfare isn't found in such things as FCS. It's found in places like Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, and all of these other places. Unfortunately, it's a domain where nothing sold by Raytheon or Lochheed seems to help us.

9/18/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

JK,
Saddam was in violation of 12 UN resolutions (of course they profited by this) and violated the terms of a cessation of hostilities. The WMD issue was window dressing for the Europeans and knuckleheads like you. It wasn’t lies. It was a waste of time because the administration does not owe the likes of you an explanation.

The party that got egg on it’s face was the CIA who proved, aside from being inept, to be a bastion of partisan whores. The president doesn’t actually run the spy agency. Doesn’t analyze the data. Who would have expected that the agency entrusted with giving every administration since the fifties an intelligence briefing was incapable of doing just that. A total failure. Where is the breech of confidence? In your demented mind no doubt.

The CIA has no credibility but Saddam got what he deserved… unfortunately the Iraqi’s are not getting theirs, which is a big fat nothin’.

9/18/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Some people are just plain prejudice… so we must cater to their sordid outlook just to play nice.

JK your strategic alliances could as easily be made with al Qaeda. Why don’t they like us? Who cares, the EuroSnobs are pissed because they couldn’t affect the outcome of our elections and won’t be happy until we reasonably elect Hillary. The Jihadists wont be happy until we elect Hillary and she dons a Hijab.

Al Jazeera, CNN, and the BBC will respect us about the same time as Al Qaeda will respect us.

9/18/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Cas said...

Now, it would appear as if a country REALLY IS persuing WMD
All evidence found (and we're still digging it out of Saddam's extensive files) indicate that he HAD WMD programs, he hid them from inspectors, and planned to start them up as SOON as sanctions were lifted.
The mullahs don't even have to wait; too many countries, (especially Russia, China and Venezuela) are only too willing to sell them whatever they need to finish their programs.
My greatest fear (and I realize it's irrational) is that the huge amount of publicity concerning Iran's "nuclear" option conceals their successful chemical or biological weapons program. If you want to wipe out a certain group of people (i.e., Jews) then these are much more affordable options, and they also make for easier cleanup afterwards, to allow you move your friendly "Army of G-d" into the vacated area when finished...

9/18/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb5 said...

The way this is phrased,
"Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program and involvement in terrorism. U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials say Bush political appointees and hard-liners on Capitol Hill have tried recently to portray Iran's nuclear program as more advanced than it is and to exaggerate Tehran's role in Hezbollah's attack on Israel in mid-July. "
says exactly which side this media group is pulling for and hopes to help win the "high-stakes struggle".
No bias in that report right?
So who are all these officials? Without names attached this is junk reporting. I have seen too much garbage peddled as fact by anonymous "officials".

BTW Why are you all feeding the troll by responding to him rather than to Wretchard's post?

9/18/2006 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

Iran can be and should be held to it's words.

Iran states that israel should be wiped off the face of the map, as the USA should as well. We should declare war asap based on that and only that.

Once the infrastructure of iran is laid waste, we ask, "can you live in a world with the usa and israel?"

If they say no, then more bombing.

if they say yes, we stop bombing

If at anytime iran does anything, including using hezbollah or issuing fatwa's, bombing will commence.

Once every electrical device, dam, bridge, and any building over 1 story has been destroyed a complete mining of all borders will commence.

rinse and repeat with any country that will not grant the right to the usa and israel to exist in peace as per the UN charter.

any country that will do murder to destroy the usa or israel as of october 1st 2006 will be destroyed.

sounds harsh?

listen to the president of iran and his words

listen to the mullahs of arabia

listen to the mullahs of britian

take iran at their words and NOTHING else.

9/18/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

James, James, James.

For you and your party affiliates, GWB lost his cred when he won an election in 2000.

Three words.... Get over it.

W is the first world leader to show the cajones to actually recognize a war that our enemies have been waging against us for decades.

They continue to get stronger.... one day they will have the ability to wage nuclear war unless something is done.

You differentiate between Iraq & Iran. The jihadis do not. they are one agianst the great and the little satan.

Save your energy for the real enemies of civilization.

9/18/2006 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

James Kielland continued to write:
"It probably won't matter how many enemies divisions are destroyed, how many bad guys are tortured, or how many potential nuke sites are set back a few years... if you find yourself more isolated and less free to act then when you started."

That gets it exactly backwards. The more isolated the US becomes, the freer the US becomes to act independently in its own narrow best interests. And those narrow best interests could take the form of pre-emptive nuclear attacks on perceived threats, or of simply walking away.

The almost deliberate inability of all those big brains in Europe (a.k.a. "the world" in New York Times theology) to recognize this simple fact suggests that some of those big brains are not functioning so well.

Remember that the EU imports just as many barrels of oil as the US -- and imports more of them from Middle East. The EU gets most of its gas from Russia & Algeria. The EU imports much of the coal it uses. The EU is very, very exposed -- which may explain their doctrine of pre-emptive surrender and their distaste for US willingness to face up to threats in this world.

Now, remind me why the US should be concerned about getting isolated from the Europeans?

9/18/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

You're talking about cultural pessimism- the belief that our culture is so bad that it would be better for it to be destroyed than to save it. It's got a long history all the way back to Plato, via Oswald Spengler, Nietzsche, Marx, etc.

An organic view of society often leads to the idea that a problem is so bad that you cannot solve it without changing the whole society.

A mechanistic view is that problems are seperate entities that can be solved, and that society is a collection of individual people, whose attitudes can be changed without the whole society needing to be transformed or rebuilt from the ashes.

Americans tend to be mechanistic in their outlook, and thus are far better at solving problems than people who can't confront a problem without condemning their whole society first.

9/18/2006 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

The ropes that JK is trying to wrap around the United States are the last tactics of the left. They have lost every single debate and election and now must hope that the United States will hobble herself by worrying about world opinion.

9/18/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/18/2006 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Pierre,

It's really striking to me how you and so many others have missed the basic point. You insist that I'm a part of the Left and that I'm necessarily trying to hobble the US. And that this is somehow a "last hope" strategy on my (or the Left's) part.

And yet, implicit in Wretchard's post is the notion that the US has indeed been hobbled. Certainly I, nor the left, need not take any additional action here.

And the fundamental problem that many other people on this thread haven't grasped is that I'm merely giving voice to an opinion which is quite common throughout the world. And since few people here seemed to have understood it, I'll say it again:

Operation Iraqi Freedom has 1) cost more than it was advertised as costing, 2) hasn't come anywhere close to achieving the promised results. This is widely believed by many people around the globe and to make a strong case for it all one need do is take the comments/promises/predictions of various Bush administration appointees or defenders and compare them with the reality on the ground.

Secondly, and quite related to the above, the way OIF was carried out, from the basis on which is was sold to the continuing outcome, resulted in a significant drop in popular feeling towards the US in several regions around the world.

The previous paragraph is fairly evident and I would say that it's hard to refute. If the US's credibility and esteem was high, there'd be little worry about the world taking the US seriously in regards to Iraq. Unfortunately, it seems clear that many, many countries around the world, as well as many populations, are essentially unmoved by Washington's claims regarding Iran's nuclear program.

I would argue that the Administration's handling of Iraq has led to the PR problems that we are now facing and will continue to face in Iran. And on that basis I would consider the Iraq campaign to be, at this time, a "loss."

Perhaps I'm completey wrong. If that were the case we would be left with the notion that somehow the US's esteem, credibility, and diplomatic/military power are now greater than they were prior to the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I find that viewpoint tremendously hard sustain.

Kinauchdrach insists that the US need not be concerned about being diplomatically isolated from Europe and that being diplomatically isolated would lead to greater freedom of action. I would argue that there is more than Europe involved here. Secondly, an individual, state, or organization's power is largely shaped by the network it forms. Other nations have things that they can offer us in the fight and it's not at all necessary to assume that constraints imposed by various relationships must make the relationship a net loss in capability or freedom of action. I'll simply refer you to John Boyd.

Secondly, some seem to have taken an amusing offense to my suggestion that various members of this administration and their supporters profited handsomely from this war. I believe that is indisputable. Let us take a close look at those individuals officially in the administration and those who were operationally close to it. Let us look at their claims for this war. Let us realize that for the most part they were completely wrong. And then let us recognize, with a large sense of disappointment, that many of those individuals profited greatly from this war. And, it seems, were the only people to profit from this war.

Readers are free to dismiss such things as coincidence or even free to deny them. But these things have been quite documented by the global media even if the US media refuses to cover it. You might like to believe that the vast profits made by those close to this administration were purely coincidental. Unfortunately, many people around the world are not so sanguine. And the fact that they do believe it is, in and of itself, a strategic failure on the part of this administration if you believe that it is important for the US to act as a global leader in regards to WMD, Islamic Terrorism, and so forth.

Perhaps I'm completely wrong. Maybe the rest of the world actually does believe the line spouted by Fox News. But then again, if the world did have more trust in the US then we most likely wouldn't be engaged in a thread dedicated to a post which explicitly addresses how events in Iraq are limiting our options in Iran.

9/18/2006 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger j willie said...

jk writes:
...an opinion which is quite common throughout the world
This is widely believed by many people around the globe...
...drop in popular feeling towards the US in several regions around the world
...there'd be little worry about the world
...many, many countries around the world
...documented by the global media
...many people around the world
...if you believe that it is important for the US to act as a global leader
...the rest of the world
...if the world


as Possumtater might say, "i reckon dis heah knucklehead gotta be one of dem trans-whatchamacallem's. you knows what i be's talkin bout, one o dem fools what's tinks de rest of de world be votin' heah. i jus aint got time to ejucate his junkie ass bout dat not bein de case, so les some otha possum be willin ta do it, i guess we gone havta let him keep on makin a fool outta hisself.

9/19/2006 01:04:00 AM  
Blogger wlpeak said...

JK has it essentially correct.

As Lebanon has recently shown, if you do not act to control the Memeosphere you cede the narrative that shapes the diplomatic landscape and thus the nonmilitary goals of the conflict. Now if you are just a thug you don't really care about diplomacy. You don't plan on having extended dealings with others on terms you have to negotiate. Conflict is just how you get the things you want. But if you are a large modern democracy then you do care and you lose the narrative at your own peril.

The Bush administration has IMO reacted to the post 9/11 world generally well, but they have failed miserably to control the narrative. It is not enough in a democracy to be right. You must also be heard and this is where they have consistently fallen flat. To those of us obsessed with the details and principals of the conflict, the whole narrative issue seems ephemeral. But to most people it is all they have to frame their opinions. Therefore it is vital to address, though repugnant to contemplate, the fact that we are in a propaganda war without a plan, without an army, and without a propagandist-in chief.

9/19/2006 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Kielland - Outside the fever swamps of the Partisan Left, the more realistic critique is of Bushie bumbling, horrendous judgement, refusal to listen, and what appears to be a general officer corps conditioned to lie about "having as many troops as they need". But the Partisan Left has tried to make the case about "Bush Lies!!!" going into Iraq in the prewar.

If Bush lied on WMD, he had lots of company, including the intelligence product of some of the now rabid critics - France, Germany, and Russia - plus the intel of Jordan, China, Israel, Turkey, UK, KSA. It was a global intel failure, not just Bush's, but all parties were badly burned, and Iran's exact nuclear status is similarly opaque.

To be fair, there is evidence that Iraqi exile groups manipulated people, and the PNAC crowd and neocon Doug Feith's little cabal worked to hype any theory into fact to "strengthen the PR case".

But for much of the public, war with Iraq was not based on WMD, but on being fed up with Saddam and Iraq defying 17 UN Resolutions, then the deadline. It was felt it was time to get rid of the guy..not transform into a 500 billion nation-building project. And to be honest, 2/3rds of liberals voted for what they protested later - not so much on WMD - but strong, strong pressure by the Israel lobby that war "would be good for Israel".

*********************
Leaving us with the neocon remnants agitating in near hysteria about the urgent need for "action on Iran", otherwise everyone is an "appeaser" and "It's Munich all over again"....but the "take-out", they say, will be easy. A surgical bombing strike. And more tax cuts for the wealthy! No sacrifice! A cake walk!

The problem is that the American public is in no mood for another major simultaneous war based on nebulous conjectures and what the remaining neocons, Israel want. The reasons why a major preemptive war against Iran is unlikely go well past the Iraq fiasco:

1. This is where the Israel Lobby actually runs into limits...some of their most reliable supporters have staked their careers on demonizing Bush as unfit to run any war. They can't flip after 3 years of anti-war stridency.

2. We have burned out our reservists and have 70% of our ground combat forces committed to current conflicts.

3. We have deferred spending on replacement equipment destroyed or burned out ever since Bush insisted on losing hundreds of fighter jets from flying donuts above cities no one thought threatened - to today - where several hundred pieces of mobile armor have atritted in the wars. Replacement bill is 95 billion, with 3 years to get back to 2001 strength once spending is authorized.

4. Our intelligence is suspect, our reliance on "exile groups" will never be the same, as trusting, again.

5. We have major fractured alliances that must be rebuilt before any new war.

6. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are worsening.

7. Trust in Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to lead well in another simultaneous war are quite low, even trust in that matter by his "values Republican" base.

8. Relations between Team Bush and members of both parties is abysmal.

9. The public may not want it, but after being told to shop and enjoy their tax cuts and no sacrifice would be asked, "heroes" will keep them perfectly safe - they are hung
up on mixed messages. A. We are in the defining conflict of our lives. B. But don't worry! Buy more stuff at ChinaMart. The "lessons of 9/11" have been largely undone - by telling Americans life for them is normal, no war will trouble them or cost them anything, and by refusing to name the enemy or protect the Bosrders. It will take another attack or another President to get them out of the complacency they were deliberately cocooned in.
For the American people, who also have great domestic concerns about major issues like collapse in health care plans, immigration, fiscal recklessness, DC corruption, trade, loss of our place as a cutting edge economic nation.....the next to last thing they want is another open-ended major "elective" war, the last thing being Team Bush leading it.

*********************

9/19/2006 02:37:00 AM  
Blogger Daniel McNerney said...

As the Iranian government continues to develop nuclear technologies that can be weaponized what will our allies fear more: the possibility of an Iran with nuclear weapons and missiles that can reach Europe, or an America that has not met their expectations. I disagree with many, but not all of your points, but what ever sins the US has committed pale before the risks posed by Iranian missiles with nuclear warheads. I’ll mention a few. A nuclear arms race between Sunni ruled countries and Iran, nuclear warfare between Iran and Israel, or the use of nuclear weapons to threaten countries that are dealing with large scale rioting by Muslim youths. This list of threats is of course not exhaustive. Now assemble a list of all the failures that the US is capable of making. We live in a time where there are no easy answers.

9/19/2006 04:33:00 AM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt and Cedarford discuss "the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’."

9/19/2006 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger The New Guy said...

Wretchard,

I'm normally pretty impressed with your cultural references. It's not just that you've read a lot of famous books ("literature"), it's that you remember them. But The Chronicles of Riddick? Anyone with as little imagination as the people who wrote that movie shouldn't be writing science fiction. I can't believe there was no other evil villian(s) who wanted to kill everything in existence that you could have mentioned.

9/19/2006 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

What the US should do is take the skeptical view and force the EUtopians to cook the intelligence and sell us on the idea of going to war. After all, it's their neighborhood. But they couldn't even take care of a little mess in Kosovo without the Americans leading them all the way.

9/19/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger hyperborealis said...

Kielland does not distinguish reality from talk about reality. Indeed, for him, public opinion about reality is itself a crucial part of reality, so much so that it is the core test by which modern war can be measured. He is quite explicit. As long as we lose the "exceptionally strategic area" of "public opinion," then "[i]t probably won't matter how many enemies divisions are destroyed." Kielland is an idealist, of the party of Bishop Berkeley.

Such lack of discrimination is foolish. The US has actual interests it will actually defend and pursue. How other people will think and talk in reaction to our actions on behalf of those interests is to us finally trivial.

As regards Iraq, Kielland ignores the main point. The US decisively prevented Iraq from gaining WMDs. That strategic goal is settled.

It is only an extraordinary narcissism that could find that achievement of no moment as compared to his own opinion about American policy.

Kielland had better imitate Samuel Johnson and kick a rock, and soon, lest he find himself refuted one fine morning by an Iranian rock kicking him.

David Joslin

9/19/2006 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kaptaan said...

The end goal of intervention in Iran is regime change. Who says there has to be any other stated reason? Tell the American people, that a tyrannical regime exists in the region and is waging war on America through its proxies ever since the Embassy takeover under Carter. The Administration should make the case that its been over 25 years since then and 'enough is enough'. We are going in to give the majority of Iranians who are under the age of 20 an opportunity to enjoy a free society and at the same time end this war against the USA and its allies by a fundo regime of Muslim Fascists. End of story. NO need to talk about WMD, or anything else. These people want you dead and have declared war already. Whether you like it or not, their War WANTS YOU!

9/19/2006 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger NavyDoc said...

I think that certain things Mr. Kielland says are irrefutable. First, Iraq has not gone as hoped. Second, Our credibility has suffered. On the other hand, it's not reasonable to say that the administration lied in order to get us into Iraq. The intelligence was simply wrong;George Tenet's "slam dunk" sealed the matter.

Does anyone ever stop to think that if we had known beforehand that Saddam didn't have large quanities of chemical weapons for example, how easy it would have been to plant some there, and avoid looking stupid afterward? We've got many thousands of tons of this stuff. If you look at our most recent defense budget, we still spend a lot of money destroying chemical weapons. The intelligence was merely wrong. No one lied.

Second, loss of credibility in the eyes of others does not absolve a President of his responsibility to act to protect us from threats, a nuclear armed Iran being a serious one. The President has really gone the extra mile diplomatically with Iran (and North Korea for that matter). If diplomacy ultimately fails, as it currently appears to be failing, then he will need to act to protect us, using military means if necessary. At that moment, the opinions of other countries will represent secondary considerations to his primary duty.

I do believe that the media and public opinion embody important "battle spaces" in the current war. Clearly we could do better in these areas. However, if one looks at history, it's difficult to find other great nations or empires that didn't have public relations problems. Athens, Rome, Russia, France, Germany and Britain-none of them were univerally loved. In fact, they were hated by many. We're not necessarily going to be popular. That can't prevent us from acting when necessary. We need to get over this.

Finally, Iraq has not been a catrastrophe. We've spent a very small portion of blood and treasure on this war compared to previous one. The outcome has yet to be determined. Strong backbones and stomachs are called for.

9/19/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Das said...

James Kielland is a hoot. The world hates America? How does he know this? He reads the newspapers?
You can bet on the laziness of people who throw out the trope that "the world hates America!"

America-hatred has been standard fare for European and 3rd-world media and intellectuals since after WWII.

Meantime the world (the world that hates America, remember?) is screaming to get over here to live and work.

With a tiny bit of effort JK could go over to the US Citizenship and Immigration website and look up the statistics of the peoples and nations granted US citizenship over the past ten years (hint: the numbers go up). And keep in mind: behind those granted citizenship are millions of applicants waiting for citizenship, and behind those applicants are millions of applicants for permanenet residency (the famous Green Card).

JK, lower the footrest on your mental easy chair and haul your bloated easy-chair moulded intellectual carcass outside for some excercise...

9/19/2006 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

"Sustained warfare requires diplomacy and alliances." -JK

Why? I don't buy it, and never have. Why the insistence on holding so tightly to the idea that we must have our allies along for the ride whenever we act? It's nice, to be sure, but are we never to act without months or years of trying to cobble together some sort of coalition first?

"Democracies require high levels of leadership and trust in order to gain cooperation."

I don't believe this is true either. All a democracy needs to cooperate is a foe that is clearly identified. Our nation was fractious over WWII until we were attacked. Many would argue we had strong leadership then, but didn't cooperate on the issue of war until a clear foe presented itself. Unfortunately, our greatest ideological foe is currently being played with the soft hand by the media, clouding our perception of an enemy that most certainly does exist, and which is most urgently seeking our destruction, and the destruction of our allies.

9/19/2006 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Mr.Atos said...

As Necroism states, "You keep what you kill!" And perhaps its time we retain the trophies of this bloody and unneccessary conquest. The virtue of Empire was that it resolved cultural divides by eliminating them. The fear of tempting the ogre of Empire was enough to beg deference beyond the frontier. When the Incas, for instance, conquered a region, they enslaved the adults and transported the children to another region and made them citizens. I submit that if we are forced to kill the serpent that is radical Iran, we keep it! Then we'll see how Syria, Lebanon, and Venezuela resolve their belligerent committments.

9/19/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

JK, lower the footrest on your mental easy chair and haul your bloated easy-chair moulded intellectual carcass outside for some excercise...

That's quite a picture--thanks. Saved a lot of words, and is *exactly* right.

9/19/2006 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

6+weeks and Hassan Nasrallah is still in hiding.

If Bush had any balls Ahmadinejad would be arrested in NY and sent to gitmo.

9/19/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

yep, we got a chance at Hitler.

9/19/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wipeak - Therefore it is vital to address, though repugnant to contemplate, the fact that we are in a propaganda war without a plan, without an army, and without a propagandist-in chief.

Agree. We are in a war of ideology. The US response since 9/11 has tried to avoid naming the enemy even, and persist in the delusion that high tech wondertoys in the pipeline will "make us victorious".

Teresita - force the EUtopians to cook the intelligence and sell us on the idea of going to war. After all, it's their neighborhood.

NATO was formed to have the strength to collectively confront a threat to Western Europe. That was from 1946-2002, our main mechanism to face collective threats, not unilateral US action to save Europe from themselves. It required the diplomacy and constant attention to commincations and controlling the narrative - that we have ignored too long. The case that we must spend 100% of the treasure and 100% of lost, maimed, and sorely put upon lives to "save" Europe + "moderate" Muslims + our Special Friend is a sterile one.

Hyperborealis - As regards Iraq, Kielland ignores the main point. The US decisively prevented Iraq from gaining WMDs. That strategic goal is settled.

Not really. Saddam had no WMD. The succesor government(s) may very well pursue WMD either for fighting their Civil War or as Shiite radicals aligned with Iran. Mohammed Sadr has already mentioned WMD may be needed to protect the New Islamic State from the Sunnis of the Gulf.

Kaptaan The Administration should make the case that its been over 25 years since then and 'enough is enough'. We are going in to give the majority of Iranians who are under the age of 20 an opportunity to enjoy a free society and at the same time end this war against the USA and its allies by a fundo regime of Muslim Fascists.

OK, given that 70% of the US ground strength is tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you propse to "liberate" Iran's people like we "liberated" Iraq's people and "freed Afghan women from their burquas"...We will need a Draft. Where are the politicans running on resurrecting the Draft, and raising taxes to fund an elective Iranian war? Given "liberating" Iran will take an invasion force of 400,000-600,000 troops to locate and neutralize the 800,000 Special Guard, the 60,000+ trained suicide bomber corps loyal to the clerics, and convice the majority of Iranians deeply supportive of a strong Iran with a civilian nuke power program in place once the oil and gas run out (20 years reserves).

The US has formal alliances with Europe, Japan, S Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Iran is not engaged in a Proxy war with any of those countries. America has no formal alliance or self-defense mutual assistance treaty with Our Special Friend.

Navydoc Finally, Iraq has not been a catrastrophe. We've spent a very small portion of blood and treasure on this war compared to previous one. The outcome has yet to be determined.

The previous one, The Gulf War, cost us under 700 casualties and accountants say Bush I was so good at getting other Nations to share the costs and pay us for securing their oil supply we actually MADE 4-6 billion off that war. The current conflict has cost us 24,000 casualties and 550 billion so far, making it the 3rd most expensive war in US history after the Civil War and WWII in current dollar cost.

DAS - Meantime the world (the world that hates America, remember?) is screaming to get over here to live and work.

With a tiny bit of effort JK could go over to the US Citizenship and Immigration website and look up the statistics of the peoples and nations granted US citizenship over the past ten years (hint: the numbers go up).


Well of course they go up! Even if no prosperous advanced nation's people want to go to the USA anymore, the 3rd World from Africa, Caribbean, Arab villages, poor Asia, and Latin America wants to flood in to one of 3-4 countries still taking in the billions of unskilled and uneducated who will be lucky enough to get all the welfare services and income multipliers if they care to work - if they get in.

It's hardly an advertisement of "how good we must be" - by being stupid enough to have Borders open to billions of "wretched refuse from other teeming shores". Even China, Mexico, and Russia guard THEIR borders and jobs from the billions of wannabes trying to get in to those relative Paradises. Australia, Europe have largely rolled up the welcome mat and all have ended "birthright citizenship".

9/19/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger fred said...

What exactly are we supposed to be "negotiating" about with respect to our scorned "allies" in Europe? The French government has just concluded successful negotiations with Iran on banking, natural gas, and oil business contracts and activity. I would say that is deal breaker for us, if we are supposed to patiently wait for France to approve of the destruction of Iran's WMD programs. If you want a hint of what the outcome of this courtship is going to be, please note the determined action of the French to stop the IDF in place and preserve and protect Hizb'allah in Southern Lebanon.

JK, how would you propose we go forward in this scenario? After all, the very survival of one ally nation in the Middle East hangs in the balance, and our "allies" would prefer that this triffling matter not get in the way of business as usual.

9/19/2006 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger sfrcook said...

c4 said:
"But for much of the public, war with Iraq was not based on WMD, but on being fed up with Saddam and Iraq defying 17 UN Resolutions, then the deadline. It was felt it was time to get rid of the guy..not transform into a 500 billion nation-building project."

Clearly, this is not true. WMD WAS, unfortunately in my opinion, the major casus belli of OIF. Both as it was perceived by the public, and more importantly, as it was advanced by the Administration. Secondly, even a casual review of the President's speeches, going back as far as immediately after 9-11, will reveal that not only was it a nation-building project, but a region-transforming project. And while the invasion of Iraq WAS a "cakewalk," nobody believed(save C4 apparently, given his incessant whining that it hasn't been) that transforming the region would be.

Furthermore, there is nothing left to "conjecture" with regards to Iran's WMD. They readily admit to it. The only question that remains is whether to reconcile one's self to the reality of a nuclear Iran, or to prevent it from becoming a reality. So instead of filling volumes with tedious, repetious cut&paste rants about the difficulties and shortcomings of OIF and its aftermath, why not illuminate us with which side of the aisle you come down on. A nuclear Iran or not? Judging by your previous posts, I expect to get a long winded answer, that ultimately, will answer nothing. Or better yet, reassurance that a nuclear Iran can certainly be contained and I should get used to the idea. If it's the later, I certainly hope that your philosophical acolytes in the Democratic Party run on that platform. Then we shall see exactly what the "mood" of the American public is.

9/19/2006 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Warner said...

Take note of the increasingly popular Iraq war.

9/19/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger NavyDoc said...

Jk-the war costs us about 1% of GDP-it's miniscule. We've lost less than half the KIA in this war that we lost on D Day alone. We lost more guys in the Philippine insurrection than in Iraq. And yes,I served there (Iraq, not the Philippine insurrection). :)

9/19/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Warner said...

The Opinion Dynamics poll two weeks ago showed 51 percent of Americans support "the U.S. war in Iraq."

A majority supports the war.

The new Gallup poll shows that 49 percent of Americans do not believe the Iraq war was a mistake. 49 percent also call it a mistake, but this is the first time since December that the percent calling the war a mistake was not a majority.

9/19/2006 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

great posts, sfrcook & navydoc. And thank you for your service, Doc!

9/19/2006 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Warner said...

Doc, I think the Philippines insurrection was the closest thing to the Iraq war today. 1906 and 2006 are eerily similar.

It wasn't pretty, taking on the Philippines. Rudyard Kipling admired the project, but Mark Twain called it imperialism.

With U.S. help, the Philippines, which easily could have been swallowed up by the aggressively imperial Japan, had the first elected parliament in Asia. Unfortunately, independence and full democracy took decades.

Let's hope it all comes together faster in Iraq.

9/19/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

sfrcook - With 70% of America's ground forces tied up in war, to start a new war to help a Special Friend we have no defense treaty with will require:

1. A Draft to fill the 7 or so divisions we would need in Iran to take out 700,000 religious guard and 60,000 suicide bomber volunteers, and protect US assets elsewhere from Iranian attack. Forget talk of "the Reserves"...their eligibility has been largely burned out in Iraq at least until 2009...unless we shaft them and change the rules.

2. End of the tax cuts, and a tax hike. To fund the Iran War. Our bankers - China and Japan - have said no way they will put wastrel America on the credit plan as they did for Iraq.

3. Bush to finally spend the money and replace the significant attrition in equipent "called war reset" in prep for war with Iran - smaller fleet, less fighter jets, tankers, less tanks, Bradleys - ever since he began using fighter jet inventory up flying donuts over US cities 24/7 - he was told were unthreatened.

4. Convince over half the public, Congress - and every nation on Earth that they must support a major elective war to "save Israels secret WMD stockpile monopoly" from those understandably seeking strategic parity against the nuke warheads Israel has on missiles aimed at them. And convince them that we deterred other nations like the Soviets and China but "Iran is undeterrable with our 15,000 thermonukes..."

Lots of luck!

Bush has no options. He decided that the only way the public would support war after 9/11 was if he avoided asking any sacrifice, the path for partisan victory was borrow more money from China to pay out as "tax cuts" for his wealthy donors... No Draft, no rebuilding the military, no money wasted on "touchy-feely" strategic communications or diplomacy or being encumbered by any ally other than what the Bible and CZ's said was his Special Friend. And raising taxes is heresy with the Bushies.

That leaves the neocon saber-rattlers the conclusion that all their saber rattling of "Onto Syria, Onto Iran, Onto Saudi Arabia!!" is coming to naught, and their desperation is showing.

Bush knows it too, hence his mealy-mouthed UN speech that implicitly recognized he and the US have lost enormous amounts of influence and international clout since 2003.

At National Review, the original writer of "Axis of Evil" has declared it "inoperative" - given Bush's many mistakes and ensuing diminishment.

David Frum - ..but they are out of the game. America's dwindling list of Iran options has dwindled further to just two: unilateral military action without any semblance of international approval to pre-empt the Iranian bomb program - or acquiescence in that program.

And I'm guessing that the option to emerge will be: acquiescence.


The best solution is to make the ME a WMD free region - like Africa and Latin America - and have final Borders set and Guarantors set. Not for America to somehow feel it is obligated somehow for nothing America did in the past - to engage in endless wars without other's support to keep it's "Special Friend's" (and great liability's) regional WMD monopoly intact.

Other options exist, but they are very unpalatable to either the Zionists or the Arabs. Or the Christian Zionists. Or the West. But they may come to pass if we don't solve the Palestine problem and impose a solution on both the enormously powerful Jews inside and outside Palestine and the inexorable numbers and will and strength of the Arabs...

9/19/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Can all the arguments.A casus belli has been found.The slaying of naval hero CPO Popeye by spinach poisoning has been traced to Iranian provocateur,Hassan Al Bluto.Al Bluto is described as obese with the typical Muslim fullbeard.He is accompanied by the mysterious Miss Olive Oyl.

9/19/2006 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Olive Oyl was considered in some quarters to be CPO Popeye's "special friend"

9/19/2006 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Warner said...

And remember when Bluto became Brutus? What was that all about?

9/19/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

More redundant Cedarford drival:

"enormously powerful Jews inside and outside Palestine and the inexorable numbers and will and strength of the Arabs". Sounds to me like things are already balanced. Why would you want to weaken Israel more while while its sworn enemy is seeking the capacity to anhilate it in one moment in time? Hmmmm.... I wonder why???? Using my average IQ it's crystal clear to me. With friends like you who needs enemies... or wait you described the Arabs as having "inexorable will and strength"; you're not even a bad friend but simply following the "enemy of my enemy" concept. Guess what C4 explain to my why you don't have to be a Jew or Christian Zionist to consider Israel a friend, like myself? Guess what, I don't care what kind of skewed stats you may be able to drudge up from your well, there are more pro-Israel, non-Zionists than you think (yeah, you can be pro-Israel without being a Zionist).

9/20/2006 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Drivel"

9/20/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

Meant to do that because i knew you would go out on a limb with your input.

9/20/2006 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger JC said...

So far, I've seen great reasons for going to war with Iraq coming from conservatives or right-wingers here, and I meant that with in a sardonic tone.

Iraq violated UN resolutions. How the hell does that justify a poorly planned and poorly executed invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq? If you consider yourselves realist, then that's a pretty poor standard for a casus belli, without taking into account that states like Israel and the US have also violated UN resolutions (the former more than any other state).

And you don't compare reality with a trivial game. Wake up children. Reality is much more complex than baseball or any other sport. You have had too much O'Reilly spin up your...

And I'm not even going to start with the mentality of the left. The left aren't exactly great at grasping reality either. Alliances. Pfft. It's not the end all be all of international politics.

The fact is, Iraq is and was and will always be a mistake. And seeing as you right-winger consider explaining the motives of the Iraq war to the left to be pretty much a waste of breathe, so do I consider trying to enlighten you why the Iraq war is a mistake to be a waste of time too.

BUSH SHOULD HAVE GONE AFTER IRAN, NOT IRAQ.

4/06/2008 10:01:00 AM  

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