Friday, November 10, 2006

Strategy in Iraq

Tommy Franks, Stephen Biddle, Peter Charles Choharis, John M. Owen IV, Daniel Pipes, Gary Rosen and Dov S. Zakheim discuss what victory may look like in Iraq at the National Interest. For some discussants the answer to the question all depends on what is meant by "victory". For Franks, the problem is one of expectations: "In Iraq, has too much emphasis been placed on achievement of secondary objectives or preferences as the benchmark for victory? After all, the primary objective—the removal of a hostile regime—has been achieved."

For Steven Biddle the problem was that America got switcherooed. It came in to fight terrorists and did a good job on the targets it expected to find. Then somewhere along the line the mission changed to making a multiethnic Iraq work. "But Iraq is not. The underlying conflict in Iraq is not between competing ideas of legitimate government; it is between ethnic and sectarian subgroups fighting for self-interest and group survival."

DNC strategist Peter Charles Choharis does not offer any definition of victory. (He served as the executive director of the 2004 Democratic Platform). But he is convinced that if intervening foreign countries are left alone to dialogue with sectarian groups now fighting internally they will come to a workable understanding. Somehow. All that's needed is for America to leave.

"Iraq is beset by regional interference ... One need not assume benevolence on the part of Iraq’s neighbors in order to believe that an ongoing forum for these actors, the Iraqi government and representatives from the coalition forces will lead to some common ground. Even if cooperation and compromise prove elusive on many issues, such a forum would at least allow for clearer communications and a chance for mutual progress on some matters. Maliki’s trip in September to Iran, and the prospect of more economic deals between the two countries, may encourage greater Iranian cooperation."

"Finally, there is the fate of the militias. With a more revitalized political process tackling tough internal and external challenges alike, thereby shifting power from the streets to the Parliament, the Iraqi government can start to disarm militias ... Except for the disarmament of militias, which would include military action, these goals can be achieved politically—without the use of U.S. hard power and the expansion of violence."

John Owen IV defines victory as establishing a stable successor state that does not seek nuclear weapons — and can serve as a counterweight to Iran. "An American victory in Iraq would entail the establishment of a stable regime that does not develop Weapons of Mass Destruction, support terrorism, export radical Islamism, seek the destruction of Israel or tilt the balance of power toward now-ascendant Iran."

Daniel Pipes thinks that the concept of victory in Iraq was pitched too high. American rule should have begun with an American puppet and then civility should have been slowly ground into the Iraqis. "Had the U.S.-led coalition pitched its ambitions lower, aspiring only to a decent government and economy while working much more slowly toward democracy, Iraq’s progress over the past four years would be more apparent. The occupying forces should have sponsored a democratically minded strongmanto secure the country and eventually move it toward an open political process; and this approach would have the benefit of keeping Islamists out of power at a moment of their maximal popular and electoral appeal."

Gary Rosen argues that civility should be forced on the fractious Iraqis, if necessary, at the point of an M-16.

We need a more achievable, concrete goal, one that would point unmistakably to progress and, ultimately, to a way out. My suggestion? A concerted effort to turn the Iraqi capital into a model city—or at least into a livable, functioning one. Call it “Baghdad or Bust.” ... Making serious headway in Baghdad would not be just a symbolic victory, a way to generate less dismal news coverage and bolster support at home. An orderly, well-governed Baghdad would give Iraqis a glimpse of what their national future might look like and would provide some breathing room to those genuinely devoted to pluralism and political reconciliation.

Dov S. Zakheim thinks the important thing is to leave Iraq in one piece, with integral borders. Anything else would be a plus. If it takes accepting a strongman, then so be it.

Can success be postulated in terms of the creation of a democratic Iraq? That approach certainly has its vocal advocates. But it is an increasingly difficult position to defend. On the contrary, it is arguable that democracy as it is understood in the United States is simply not the highest priority of the ordinary Iraqi. What Iraqis, like most people, desperately seek is stability, preferably coupled with certain freedoms—to pray, to earn a living, to live in peace.


The most interesting thing about this discussion is that the real world debate over Iraq was never about choosing between Bush's vision and say John Owen's, or Franks', or Zakehim's. It was always between choosing between Rumsfeld and the position articulated by Peter Charles Choharis which increasingly looks like it is the strategy — if the word may be applied to it — of a certain wing of the Democratic Party. It was always possible to bring some reasonable critique to bear on the Bush administration's conduct of the war. Possible but politically irrelevant. The comparison may never have been between cheap apple cider and fine wine but between cheap apple cider and Drano. Who will lay odds on which of the discussants above most clearly articulates the coming American policy? Unless there are second thoughts.


Blogger gumshoe said...

"For Franks, the problem is one of expectations: "In Iraq, has too much emphasis been placed on achievement of secondary objectives or preferences as the benchmark for victory? After all, the primary objective—the removal of a hostile regime—has been achieved."

not to pile on for the other side,
but if the discussion were serious,
I think Franks might want to address the reality of a gov't run by al Sadr,backed by Iran,
and sliding towards Sharia.

Yes,one hostile regime has been removed.

What replaces it defines "victory".

11/10/2006 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger JAF said...

Normally, Im just a lurker, but I saw something a while ago and was reading about it. Just thought it was interesting and would pass it along.

"11-Nov-1939: The Swedish author Ture Nerman´s anti-Nazi magazine "Trots allt!" is confiscated. The charges were that the magazine contained negative statements about Hitler and Germany. Nerman was charged and sentenced in Stockholm to three months in jail."

Apparantly this guy was a socialist, but saw that Nazi Germany was threat, but was shushed by the appeasing Swedish authorities for speaking out.

I bet if we looked, that we could find modern day 'Ture Nermans' out there.

11/10/2006 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe said...


have a look at Paul Belien and his wife
who run the Brussels Journal.

the EU has them under very close tabs,and harrasses the family over their decision to home school their children(ie out side the state-run,EU agenda schools)...
both the Beliens hold advanced university degrees and i believe one child has recieved a university degree and is employed now.
The harrassment includes threats
of removing child-custody rights.

Belien's Brussels Journal has had a running commentary on the EU project for several years now,
with articles on the death of the nation state,the lack of representation for
EU citizen/serfs, and the bureaucratic/unelected make-up of the closed circle of the EU parliment caste.

offhand,I can't think of a better contemporary example to fit your anecdote.

11/10/2006 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger JAF said...


Excellent suggestion for a modern day Ture Nerman. I even sent a nasty gram to the Belgian embassy awhile back.

I found some more information on Ture Nerman on Wikipedia, but I also found this on a Norwegian 'anti-communist' website.

The author and politician Ture Nerman was one of the most well-known political activists in his time. For very long he was a ”red hero”. When Lenin passed Stockholm on his journey from Switzerland to Petrograd and the Revolution in 1917, the young Communist Ture Nerman was one of those who took care of him in Stockholm. Today Ture Nerman is best known as the editor of ”Trots Allt”, the paper that always caused furour at the German Embassy during World War II. During his later years Ture Nerman turned into a staunch anti-communist, a warm friend of the United States and an advocate of Swedish membership in NATO.

11/10/2006 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Who is killing the Iraqis? Why the "insurgency" of course. Who is this insurgency? It is the military arm of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The American military is at the top of their game. The minds that pulled off 911 have a plan to defeat the American military using the US public. Osama stated after Somalia that Americans are weak. Now Osama has influenced the elections to his favor. Even generals are redefining victory to allow for retreat. Is Osama right?

11/10/2006 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe said...


I've always wondered if muslim
(sunni vs shiite) civil war in Iraq
weren't Plan B.

11/10/2006 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Orginal post:
"Iraqi government can start to disarm militias ... Except for the disarmament of militias, which would include military action,"

There's a reason why the militias haven't been disarmed and/or destroyed - they aren't the problem. Besides, you don't disarm militias, you engage them in the political process.

The problem is the Al Qaeda- directed insurgency. The insurgency provided the bloody raw material for our salivating media to broadcast at dinner time, and elect a cut-and-run Congress.

11/10/2006 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Give Bush credit: he has wanted to replace "Jihad" with "Democracy."

The USA has folded, and can hardly wait to get out of this 'quagmire.' Pity the Iraqis who believed the American Message. I expect they should understand, though, that 'quagmires' are boring, and it is much better to follow the likes of George Clooney on a dance to perdition.

Bush has been ill-served - by the CIA and State; and by his own deep desire to 'get along'. Thus, he did not fire Tenet and everyone in leadership positions in the CIA and State.
For future joy: Waxman can hardly wait to hold 'hearings' on the malfeasance of Bush and co. Harmon is not going to be running Intelligence, instead it will be that corrupt ex-judge, in order to keep the Black Caucus happy. This next two years looks to be a not-very-slow-motion trainwreck.

And in the meantime, our friends the Jihadis are marching on. Towards us.

11/10/2006 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

cedarford opined:

Must be great being stuck in 2003, still talking about how "Al Qaeda" is behind all the attacks made by a few dead enders as US soldiers look for "vast secret buried quantities of WMD" in an area as Big As California!

Al Qaeda had moved their military arm to Iraq in 2003.

I would be a little leary of absorbing too much Iraq news from the MSM - Iraq is bigger than a few districts of Baghdad.

A quick browse of Wikipedia revealed 72 specifi Al Qaeda attacks between 2003-2006 (18 in 2006). I grew weary of trying to count the deaths.

Al Qaeda is by far the biggest element of the insurgency.

11/10/2006 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"The war was underway.

Sweden was desperately trying to remain neutral - knowing the Nazis could take them with ease and that Germans rarely bothered to respect the neutrality of those in their way. Germans were taking Denmark and Norway and the Swedes really didn't want to join them as a conquered nation.

Sweden had an agitating idiot who admitted later in life he was unheedful of the danger the Nazis were to Swedist neutrality in the face of provocations. They dealt with him to avoid any perception they backed his sentiments. Sweden, like most democracies, has no guarantee of free speech, though they think it an important, if not paramount freedom.

Guy was lucky it was only 3 months. Portugal or Spain would have asserted their neutrality by shooting the guy. Switzerland would have locked him up for the duration."

"11-Nov-1939: The Swedish author Ture Nerman´s anti-Nazi magazine "Trots allt!" is confiscated. The charges were that the magazine contained negative statements about Hitler and Germany. Nerman was charged and sentenced in Stockholm to three months in jail."

In November of 1939 Germany couldn't touch Sweden. They didn't take Norway until Spring of the next year. If guys like Nerman had had their way, they wouldn't have been able to do it period. And without Swedish iron ore the British and French blockade stood a much better chance of working.

No, I think that this is a case of a cowardly government. It was only due to their cowardess that their situation got so desperate later.

11/11/2006 01:42:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Bah *cowardliness*

In November of 1939 Germany couldn't touch Sweden.

Exaggeration on my part. Obviously, the Luftwaffe could, but Sweden proper was safe from any sort of German invasion until the Germans captured Norway and wormed their way into Finland. Specifically the former.

11/11/2006 01:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Under Rummy THREE more RULES added to the RULES of WAR. See JP 3 updated with three more rules which I strongly disagree. one is the word restraint; meaning-the emotional discipline of Self restraint handcuffs, shackles and other forms of physical restraint the act of employing physical restraints. The Joint Staff made the change is nothing more than a gov bureaucracy. Hey, I've got a new one, how about adding the rule WINNING a war.

11/11/2006 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

dla wrote:

The American military is at the top of their game. The minds that pulled off 911 have a plan to defeat the American military using the US public.

I should hope the American military is subservient to the US public, and not the other way around.

11/11/2006 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Wretchard said . . .
It was always possible to bring some reasonable critique to bear on the Bush administration's conduct of the war.

Possible?! Vital. The worst option during the past three years would be to claim, as Wretchard did, that we were winning, that, on balance, all was well in Iraq, to proclaim each new step as "victory". Those halcyon days of delusion are over. Check out the incoming Sec Def's perspective below.

Unless there are second thoughts.

Second thoughts now rule among the incomining brain trust. Iraq was a mistake and a distraction. That is the basis of belief for the incoming team, and you can't get far in analyzing where we go from here without accepting it.

From the Ol' Gray Lady we learn a bit more about Gates and the group of adults behinds him intent on spanking the neocons:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 — Robert M. Gates, President Bush’s choice to become defense secretary, has sharply criticized the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war and has made it clear that he would seek advice from moderate Republicans who have been largely frozen out of the White House, according to administration officials and Mr. Gates’s close associates. . .

A close friend of Mr. Gates’s described him as having been “clearly distraught over the incompetence of how the Iraq operation had been run.” The friend said Mr. Gates had returned from a recent visit to Baghdad expressing disbelief that Mr. Rumsfeld, whom Mr. Bush ousted Wednesday, had not responded more quickly to the rapid deterioration of security and that the president had not acted sooner to overhaul the management of the war. . .

Inside the White House and the State Department on Thursday, officials were already speculating about the informal advisers Mr. Gates was expected to bring in with him, talking about them as if they were the cast of an old television show that suddenly developed a new life in reruns. Among them are moderate Republicans like Mr. Scowcroft and Mr. Baker who worked for the president’s father, including those who regarded Iraq as a “war of choice” that distracted the United States from bigger terrorist threats.

"Clearly distraught"?! Wretchard, weren't you claiming as late as this Spring that the Sunni insurgency was crushed? How to reconcile that sunny Sunni analysis with the present thinking? When did Iraq take a turn south in your book? When did the whole project begin to "drift sideways"?

Without addressing these analytic errors, and the points at which they originated, you could easily repeat them.

11/11/2006 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Somebody said:

Real nice jab on Veteran's Day, woman catholic.

If the US public decides to pull out of Iraq, and the US military does not do it, then the US public is subservient to the US military and it could be construed as a defeat of our democracy. If they do pull out in accordance with the will of the US public, then the US military is subservient to the US public just like the Constitution provides for, and it could not be construed to be a defeat of the military. The implication that I am besmirching my own day is not worthy of comment.

11/11/2006 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger gumshoe said...

it's also a bit odd
to call Veteran's Day
"my own day".

thanks for your service,WC,
but there were and are
a few other people involved
as well.

and i agree with catherine's comments.

and Iraq defeat is a victory for jihad,and not a victory for American or Iraqi democracy.

11/11/2006 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

ricpic wrote:

We must absolutely not let Iraq be a second Vietnam!

It already is a second Vietnam, but with a volunteer military and a lower body count. We must relearn these lessons and hopefully not let America get involved in a third Vietnam someday.

11/11/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

gumshoe1 said...

it's also a bit odd to call Veteran's Day "my own day".

I am a Navy of one.
Oh wait, that's the other branch.

11/11/2006 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Catherine gets it perfect:
But our own civilians can affect and hurt, even defeat, the military when words and actions support the enemy and embolden and inform, as in giving away info on our secret programs that makes our foes smarter.

The public can demoralize our troops and undermine their efforts by saying what they're doing is illegitimate or that they torture helpless captives. When news outlets beat the drum of negativity and give the enemy hope to hold out longer (which he does by killing more soldiers with news cycles in mind and putting out false charges of brutality, etc.), our forces get attacked more and lose the cooperation of locals, etc.

You said it much better than I. I firmly believe that Osama has thoroughly studied America and is actively manipulating our media. As much as I would like to recognize the superior intelligence of those leading America's war efforts, I am somewhat dismayed that American leadership has not blunted and/or countered Al Qaeda's public opinion efforts.

11/11/2006 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

woman catholic wrote:
It already is a second Vietnam, but with a volunteer military and a lower body count.

It already is a cow except that it has an opposable thumb and swings from a tree...

Any conflict that involves long-term sacrifice from the American public can be called a "vietnam". I think perhaps the term is overused.

11/11/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Consul-At-Arms said...

I've linked to you here:

11/11/2006 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

dla wrote:

You said it much better than I. I firmly believe that Osama has thoroughly studied America and is actively manipulating our media.

If you think the military is controlled by the media, then it is already defeated. If the policy is controlled by the media, then it the policy is already defeated, but that is only a defeat for the policymaker, not America nor her military.

11/11/2006 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

9:14, a distinction without a difference, CW.

11/11/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

woman catholic wrote:
If you think the military is controlled by the media, then it is already defeated. If the policy is controlled by the media, then it the policy is already defeated, but that is only a defeat for the policymaker, not America nor her military.

Actually I prefer to think of our media as tools (pun intended) that smart people use to influence public opinion.

Osama correctly sees our media as the single weapon he can use to defeat the American military. As history has shown, when the American public gives up, our military will be withdrawn.

Osama's been thinking....

11/11/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger hamint said...

Many commentators have observed that the now persistent civil conflict among Shia and Sunni communities in Iraq was substantially aggravated by flashpoint events caused by Al-Qaeda insurgents such as the destruction of the Shia mosque in Samarra early this year. Today, it seems that asymetic warfare is being conducted by two disparate groups against coalition forces and one or more parts of the Iraqi people and their military and police forces. While first world countries are generally incapable of winning asymetic conflicts, the traditional successful exit strategy, if achieved, has been for the first world country to establish a stable military force based on the local population. (i) The US succeeded in doing so in Vietnam as of the Spring of 1972 when the NVA main focres were defeated by the ARVN with assistance from US special forces advisors and airpower support (a la the later Afganistan war of 2001-02) (Of course, when the Democratic post-Watergate Congress barred the Ford administration from providing significant financial and materiel support to the ARVN in 1975, the NVA armored units coould not be stopped.) (ii) One of the most intriguing aspects of the Clinton administration is that the US trained the Croatian officer corps and turned a blind eye on the military supply that the Saudis and Iranians provided to the Bosnians (via Zagreb), a significant part of which was given (as a quid pro quo) to the Croatians. When the Croatian army were finally able to stand up to the ethnic Serb forces, they readily defeated the Serbs, and within a short period of time, all sides came together to resolve the conflict at Dayton. (iii) I don't know much about the Malaya successes that the British achieved, but I assume that they were able to cut off supplies to the Communists (a much easier task there than in Indochina and the Middleast) and to stand up a stable military from within the Malay states. Compare (iv) the mother of all asymetic wars that will be played out over Israel in the near and intermediate future (Debra notes that Israeli intelligence reports that Hamas has been supplied with Russian state of the art anti-tank weapons like those that Hezbolah used against the IDF and that the Gazans are now building subatantial underground facilities from which to conduct rocket and other warfare against the first world country next door).

11/11/2006 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The first rule of war has always been that war cannot be declared won until the invading foot soldier subdues his enemy and verifies all resistance has been completely eliminated. If this time and experience proven rule is still considered valid, then America, indisputably, lost the war in Vietnam and is losing in Iraq. The Iraqi insurgency is just as strong now as it was one, two or three years ago. However, that said, "The United States and coalition forces, in my personal view, will not be the thing that will defeat the insurgency," winning or losing is not the issue, in my view, in the traditional, conventional context of using the word 'winning' and 'losing' in a war,".

Although there are many able minds in the military who can offer a variety of valid-sounding excuses why we're in Iraq, there is only one simple truth. And that is the nature of combat over the last half-century has changed dramatically and America's military has failed to change with it. The common grunt is doing remarkably well in Iraq even though they have one arm tied behind their back. It's 4 star leadership which has failed in planning, assessing, adapting and killing the enemy.

We're losing in Iraq because our Army wasn't adequately trained and prepared to fight an insurgency war. The grunt has been left with the menial and lonely task of securing the battlefield but 4 star leadership, the White House, SECDEF and the Joint staff have led this war about like the response in Katrina (total Incompetence)

News Flash example

Al Anbar province, an area in northwestern Iraq ... It's about twice the size of the state of Texas. have 18,000 Marines/Army on patrol

18,000 on patrol in a combat zone where they hate Americans and it's twice the size of Texas vs. 13,000 Peace Officers on patrol on so called Friendly ground in Texas and that only includes about 50 percent of the police force in Texas.

11/11/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

dla wrote:

As history has shown, when the American public gives up, our military will be withdrawn.

And my thesis is that that tendency of the military to do what the American public wants it to do is a good thing. Would that we had withdrawn from the Vietnamese civil war before losing more than 50 thousand troops propping up a regime in the south that didn't have the fire in the belly to defend itself. Maybe the American public is saying it thinks Iraq is deja vu all over again, and it wants to cut our losses.

11/11/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

clausewitz 100 wrote:

We're losing in Iraq because our Army wasn't adequately trained and prepared to fight an insurgency war.

Any Army concievable by man would lose if it was relegated to the hopeless role of policeman, ending all violent crime in a Muslim country the size of California.

11/11/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Clauswitz100, not that it much affects your general point, but the entire nation of Iraq is about the size of Texas, so you're off a few orders of magnitude on the Anbar area estimate.

11/11/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

WC, it is not automatic that defeat follows from a lack of "fire in the belly". Did the EOJ or Germany lack "fire"? How about the Alamo, or Thermopylae?

ARVN had many excellent units, and died in the hundreds of thousands fighting for *something*. The NVA just had more of them, I guess. But you and C4 are just entirely too profligate with your MSM-derived sneering at S. Vietnamese "corruption". Is there anything more corrupt than communism?

11/11/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

sirius_sir said...

And what better way to rectify a mistake than to leave it for somebody else to tend to. We did it with the S. Vietnamese, we did it to the Shia and the Kurds post Gulf War I--after encouraging them to rise up--and if some have their way we will do it again.

But what of the geoplolitcal consequences in doing so?

Well go ahead and answer the question Sirius: what were the geostrategic consequecnes of pulling out of Vietnam and not tipping Iraq over to the Shiite Islamofascists in '91?

Did we lose the Cold War? Did the dreaded Vietnamese/Chinese alliance sweep through Thailand, South Korea and Japan or did they fight one another? Did Saddam take his vaunted military and reinvade Kuwait or Saudi Arabia? Or, was he boxed in and rotting? Just what were the consequences?

11/11/2006 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

woman catholic wrote: Maybe the American public is saying it thinks Iraq is deja vu all over again, and it wants to cut our losses.

And this bolsters my point that Osama is a brilliant adversary.

First of all, Iraq is not a Vietname. Not even remotely close.

Second, factually, American losses are tiny. American victories are huge. And Iraq is much bigger than the subburbs of Baghdad.

I don't know how to convey what I feel Osama is doing to the American public via the MSM, so lets try a little object lesson (this probably won't work when read, but you can get a laugh by pulling it on someone else):

Spell "silk"
What do cows drink?

9 out of 10 right-brain dominant people will immediately utter "milk". An equal percentage of left-brain types (I've done this on a lot of engineers) will give a long pause and then say "water".

Our perception can be manipulated easily when we lack countering information. After all, lot of people actually believe what they see on the check-out stand tabloids.

11/11/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"Racism" and "Corruption" are THE two attack lines of communism vs capitalism.

Neither charge is slogan-answerable, as open societies will have open racial tension (closed societies will have closed racial tension, silently), and there is not a free exchange of goods under the sun or moon that a commie can't call "corruption".

The allure of the dialectic must be rejected.

11/11/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

"WC, it is not automatic that defeat follows from a lack of "fire in the belly". Did the EOJ or Germany lack "fire"? How about the Alamo, or Thermopylae?

ARVN had many excellent units, and died in the hundreds of thousands fighting for *something*. The NVA just had more of them, I guess. But you and C4 are just entirely too profligate with your MSM-derived sneering at S. Vietnamese "corruption". Is there anything more corrupt than communism?"

Good post. Worth considering.

11/11/2006 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Personally I'd like to see all these New Left types to focus a little more one explaining why they backed the most ruthless insurgency this side of Algeria's FLN.

11/11/2006 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

sirius' link just above is to this must-read *Nov 03rd* VDH.

11/11/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Alas, I don't think we'll know whether what we've accomplished (and in my view we have accomplished much) in Iraq should be labeled "victory" or "defeat" or "something-in-between" till we have observed, over the next few months, what our new overlords, the Democrats, really have in mind.

Jamie Irons

11/11/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Good point Jamie. And I further wonder if the lack of domestic Al-Qaeda attacks is the result of Al-Qaeda's decimation, or is Osama just leading us to believe we are on the right course? Need to think about this further.....

11/11/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I think we're safe in the USA so long as we have a spearpoint a sandline away from Tehran and Damascus. Their own secret policing of the underground terror world will see to that.

The Madrid Bombings did a regime change in Spain, but regardless of America's miserable signal in the recent election, the enemy knows we have a presidential in two short years, and that a mass attack stateside will send votes to the war-party.

Meanwhile, tell your congressfolk you want the military budget to go back to the 50s-60s era, when we had a better margin-for-error in regards to the stuff to fight with.

I like carriers and SSBNs, personally. fight from the air and sea, so that there is less enemy-premium on the evening news front.

11/11/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

That, and Russian antitank weapons--of Leb2 notoriety--are smuggling into Gaza. Search [russian anti tank gaza].

11/11/2006 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Sirius_Sir said. . .
But surely our standing in the world was ill served by the way we concluded our SE Asian adventure?

Our standing was damaged by jumping into the unwinnable quagmire of Vietnam in the first place. It was the continuation of an anti-Imperialist war started under the Japanese and continued under the French. South Vietnam was too corrupt; too dominated by the hated, upper class French speaking Catholic minority; and riddled by VC infiltrators to ever survive. That is was capable of standing with just a little help from Uncle Sam in '73-'75 is a myth.

Would it not have been better to stand by our commitment to both the South Vietnamese and the Kurds than to be seen by the world as weak and even perfidious allies?

Those commitments should never have been made in the first place, and tellingly you omit our commitments to the Islamofascist Shiite uprising in '91. Obviously we should never have promised them succor either, for they are our enemy.

Tell me you don't sincerely believe that affecting a posture of feckless timidity is preferable to being seen as strong and resolute and reliable?

Again, those commitments should'nt have been made in the first place. America shouldn't engage in democratic crusades, for many cultures are not ready for democracy. What of our democratic commitment to Palestine, Sirius? Have those harmed our standing in the world? Bush is the first President to call for a Palestinian state and has been a strong supporter of democracy for that benighted land . . . until he saw the results. Stop being such a blatant hypocrite and speak a little louder for the democratic rights of Hamas.

It took us until Reagan to even begin to get over the so-called 'Vietnam Syndrome'--and to suggest that did not come at some geopolitical cost is telling.

Vietname syndrome was a loss and a tragedy, no doubt, but what was its geostrategic costs? You have yet to list them. Geostrategy is more than just national psychology, it is also balance of power. Did we lose the Cold War? Did the Vietnamese keep capitalism out of their country and SE Asia forever? You claim that Reagan banished Vietnam Syndrome . . . so your saying that it lasted for five years?

Your constant advocacy for a return to that Kissingerian realpolitic suggest to me that, in regard to this issue, you are incapable of learning a thing.

You afford me all the delights of a stern teacher with a slow learner. It is why I don't charge you for my tutelage. It is not my advocacy that is determinant, for I'm hardly that powerful or cogent, it is the tide of history. We have returned to Kissingerian realism, just read the papers. We have done so because once again, America learned nothing from its past experiences and over-reached on a liberal, and extremely foolhardy, democratic crusade. A crusade that swept you up in its fevered tide and deposited you a rocky shore. Look around Sirius, and ask yourself when the good ship Neocon first sprung a leak. The we can talk about learning lessons from history.

11/11/2006 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

What set the good ship Neocon to float? "911".
What enabled the enemy's 911 confidence? "Vietnam Syndrome".

Broad strokes, but true.

11/11/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Buddy Larsen said...
What set the good ship Neocon to float? "911".
What enabled the enemy's 911 confidence? "Vietnam Syndrome".

Hmmm, but didn't Reagan put an end to "Vietnam Syndrome" as Sirius claims?

11/11/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Dan, "(Kill Sadr)"

Immediately, if not sooner. Then Nasrallah. Get the flashpoints out of the way and then the weeding continues.

11/11/2006 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

reocon, yes--from our own point-of-view.

11/11/2006 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

...and obviously, somewhat temporarily, as far as a voting majority is concerned.

11/11/2006 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

The American hubris in all this is misquided notion that we can fix Iraq, that it is in our power to make it happen. More troops, smaller footprint, Imperial pen drawing Iraq into three states. Alas, making Iraq into a successful place is not something we can do with our military.

11/11/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

reocon wrote:

Hmmm, but didn't Reagan put an end to "Vietnam Syndrome" as Sirius claims?

Absolutely not. The first suicide terrorist attack in modern times, Lebanon, October 1983 and the pullout of Marines thereafter was a little repeat of Vietnam. After that Reagan did a splendid little takeover of Granada, which is about the size of Gilligan's Island, and he did an airstrike on Libya. It wasn't until the First Gulf War that America shook off the "Vietnam Syndrome", and that feeling lasted all of 12 years.

11/11/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Ash wrote: Alas, making Iraq into a successful place is not something we can do with our military

That is not American policy anyway. Establishing a new Iraq is a job that requires our military, but that is only a small part of the overall process. Bush's team has understood and articulated that many times.

Now what is interesting is whether the cut & run Congress will be allowed to disrupt the process. Will John Kerry come out and admit that he doesn't feel Iraq is worth the effort? If he does, America will be reminded how fortunate it is that Kerry lost.

11/11/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

We're all prone to selective amnesia in discussions of this sort.

The link to Hanson's column provided by sirius_sir is an excellent recap of the Goldilocks-like political expediency which has animated thinking on the use of U.S. military force over the past quarter century or so.

These past few years, it's been as interesting to hear progressive idealists sound like cynical Kissengerian pragmatists as it has been hearing gimlet-eyed conservatives, normally distainful of social engineering projects, talk optimistically about prospects for democracy in the middle east.

11/11/2006 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

dla, what are these 'other parts' you refer to. The reconstruction which is having very little success? Most of the reconstruction monies have been exhausted and/or diverted to security. There is very little new money in the pipeline. Isn't the mantra now that Iraq must be secure before it can be reconstructed? Somehow we are supposed to make the place secure (the very act of doing so increases the resistance) and then show the 'people' what wonderful things we bring so the don't resist. Its a mugs game.

11/11/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

And 'ignoring' that 'lesson' is just where the sin starts--where it ends nobody knows. We have faded the bet, and we're in, like or not. Words will never change it, nor will bluster.

OTOH, the enemy has problems, too, right? What if we wear HIM down?

Lincoln had to jail a few "copperhead' newsmen. Oh, he didn't HAVE to, but we didn't have to avoid balkanizing into a hundred Bosnias, either.

11/11/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Yes, we won the Cold War despite Vietnam. But . . .

The repercussions of Vietnam were not limited to the genocide and tyranny which followed our departure. Throughout the 70's, our Cold War adversary advanced through proxies in Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Coups, civil war, the 'disappeared,' death squads and corpses stacked mountain high.

I'd argue that rolling all that back was made more difficult by our failure in Southeast Asia -- and may not have occured at all had the Soviet Union been more than, as Reagan rightly perceived, Upper Volta with missiles.

Indeed, Nixon's and Kissinger's on-again-off-again bombing, designed to keep Hanoi at the barganing table, also signaled Moscow about our potential for ruthlessness.

This time, the repercussions will be far more severe. FDR's guarantee to the House of Saud underwrote 'stability' during the Cold War, but the world has paid a price since with the export of violent pathologies and the day-after-day exposure of the jugular vein of the global economy.

China seeks to implement its own Monroe Doctrine in east Asia. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and others for whom China has become or will become their largest market may do what is in their economic interest and avoid reliance upon a fickle Washington.

Western Europe triangulated during the Cold War, but its political leadership understood the threat. And as the Soviets eyed Western Europe, they knew American cities were ransomed to a nuclear exchange with Russian cities should the Red Army have blasted through the Fulda Gap.

Now, after decades of U.S. subsidized atrophy, Europe faces a threat far more ruthless and unconventional than Soviet tanks. A Muslim-dominated 'Vichy' Europe -- acquiescence in exchage for oil and no violence might be the best we could hope for.

What would such a swift downgrade in U.S. authority around the globe -- not because we aren't powerful but because we refuse to use it -- do for dollar-denominated assets?

In short, we face disaster of a sort that would make us wish Iraq really was just another Vietnam.

11/11/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


I do business in Vietnam and I can assure you, Vietnam is 'capitalist' is the same way, say, Zimbabwe is capitalist. It's easier doing business in China which is less oppressive and somewhat less corrupt.

11/11/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Ash, the security plan for Iraq has always been to enable the Iraqi's ability to control themselves. Nothing new.

Pretty clear that Al-Qaeda isn't interested in Iraqi success.

Can you honestly say that you know what is really going on in Iraq from the MSM? Trying to understand Iraq from the MSM is like trying tell the time by watching the second hand on a clock.

11/11/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


Absolutely. We worry far more about what our enemies can do to us than making them fear what we can do to them. This enemy games our media and our fundamental decency . . . and we let them get away with it.

11/11/2006 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Cosmo, as many have pointed out, Nov 7 made the enemy's play. Now, if somehow that bunch of incoming ward-heelers can come to their senses, and USA can make a war-face again, we still have a chance to make this thing work out in the best interests of the globe.

11/11/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

kevin said:

Catholic Woman:

1. The military is answerable to the President and he,in turn is answerable to the American people.
Regardless of what the American people want, the President decides when the troops come home.

When, but not if. And when can be hurried along by the House refusing to cut checks. In other words, the leader is needed for time-critical tactics, but the will of the American people defines the overall strategery.

While pulling out of Vietnam did stop the bloodshed by and of American soldiers, it did not lesson the bloodshed of the Vietnamese (or other SE Asians) by any means.

I refuse to accept moral responsibility for the actions of thugs who move in after we move out of some operation. How many times have we sent Marines to Haiti, only to pull them out and get another Poppa Doc, Baby Doc, whatever the Doc?

11/11/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Charles Choharis' view is flawed because it assumes that Iran is interested primarily in economics - therefore a vibrant Iraqi economy and immediate Iraqi stability should be in its interests.

I do not think that economics is the primary interest of the mullah who rule Iran. Iran is primarily interested in spreading a violent Shiite Islamist ideology. If it had been interested in its economic well being it would have never alienated the United States (or would have reversed course many years ago). Instead Iran has happily sabotaged its economy in pursuit (successful pursuit at that) of its viral ideology.

Iran wants conquest. Iraq is to be one of its Shiite minions. For that plant to succeed, the united states must be pushed out and the Shiites must subdue the Sunnis. Lebanon will soon be another Shiite minion with the installation of the approaching Nasrallah government.

11/11/2006 05:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wretchard: ...which of the discussants above most clearly articulates the coming American policy?

Hmmm... Maybe "Baghdad or Bust" is closest, if only because it's hard to speak of a meaningful Iraqi state with less than a successful Baghdad.

Actually, I think I'd modify that moniker to "Baghdad & Barrels or Bust". I mean, without robust oil revenue, the Baghdad experiment withers to hard-scrabble charity; so a minimal policy success must protect both the Baghdad federal core and the revenue that makes it the core.

Rosen writes: The declared aim of American policy is an Iraq that can “govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself.” That is a fine definition of long-term success, but in our present fix, it is too abstract...

Baghdad & Barrels is certainly a more concrete (and limited) near-term goal, and one arguably still in alignment with the long-term policy. I'd say it's in much better alignment than a strongman-puppet policy, which seems unnecessary at this point. I mean, so long as our troops are in-country for the purpose of executing a Baghdad & Barrels policy -- well, the need is provided for, isn't it? We would need a strongman there only if our own Armed Forces' strong men and women were incapable of implementing the policy themselves. If forces can be apportioned to match the policy requirement, well, no strongman required, right?

Plus B&B produces highly visible successes, which will be important in 2008, politically. So I'd guess B&B is the most likely near-term policy -- or I would, if I didn't see things happening on the ground in and around southern Iraq that may well blow the policy's calculus assumptions sky-high, and soon. The coalition has been, let's say, "protecting the oilfields from terror" since 2003; but is that now just a very polite way of saying that coalition protects the federal state's financial artery from the Iranian claw? As of Nov. 2006, I think that's what the words really mean.

But curiously... British troops are now exiting southern Iraqi districts, leaving them principally to Shiite tribal control. (Y'all see the same thing?) This could free troops for labors elsewhere, but I wonder if, in the potential interregnum between present policy and B&B, the oil artery won't throb at the surface, most tantalizingly exposed...


Wretchard: Peter Charles Choharis does not offer any definition of victory. (He served as the executive director of the 2004 Democratic Platform).

Ooooooh, that's gonna leave a mark. How droll, Wretchard. :-)


11/11/2006 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"...protecting the oil from the Iranian claw" --the planet could do woise, y'know.

11/11/2006 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


"incoming ward healers"

Another of your priceless turns of phrase.

My guess is the next two years the Dems will be more interested in showtrialing the President and his party, with the aid of a compliant media in an attempt to keep the Republicans out of power for the next decade.

After all we've seen a comeback in 70's fashions, and the Left has worked hard to portray Iraq as Vietnam, stir up racial animosity after Katrina, and create a new civil rights movement out of illegals.

The only thing missing to bring back the whole salad days experience for boomers is to turn Bush into Nixon.

11/11/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

One observation on the consistant, forceful application of U.S. power:

Anihillation of our enemies and occupation with confidence and conviction gave us Japan and Germany -- the second and third largest ecnomies in the world, respectively, and model global citizens.

Letting our enemies up off the mat -- in the only two wars 'approved' by the UN -- gave us a 50-year Korean stalemate and the unfinished business of Gulf War I.

11/11/2006 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"The greatest enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."

-- the realClausewitz

11/11/2006 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/11/2006 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cruiser: Iran wants conquest. Iraq is to be one of its Shiite minions.

Mm-hmm. Anyone who doesn't see the desire in Ahmadinejad's beady eyes just isn't looking. (Seriously, it's like Lenin after the stroke.)

I think some people (perhaps some here?) imagine that although the will is present, the act is somehow infeasible. But it's not. The conquest is infeasible only if Iran plays by the rules of western warfare -- which Iran most certainly does not. I'm thinking for example of the way Iran has imprisoned Iraq's Shiite leader Sistani in his own home:

From Debka-Net Oct 20:

Iranian interests have bought up all the buildings surrounding Sistani’s residence in the holy Shiite town of Najef south of Baghdad. This is a gentle description of how the Iranians operated, according to sources in Baghdad and Najef. In fact, Iranian thugs drove hundreds of families out of their homes for derisory purchasing prices and have lodged in their place 500 Iranian intelligence ministry agents, imported with their families.

These agents have set up armed checkpoints around Sistani’s dwelling. Iranian officers detain and search the grand ayatollah’s visitors and often bar their entry. The eminent Shiite cleric is today the virtual hostage of Iranian intelligence.

His plight is no secret in Baghdad or Washington, but no one has moved to release the cleric from siege for fear of harm coming to him.

It's a subversive, proxy-deniable Machiavellianism for which the west has yet to find counter. (And the B&B policy idea -- hereby trimmed to a pithier "BB" cuz, well, "BB" implies "targeted but small, very small" -- BB ignores all that. It ignores the quiet strangling, so as not to broaden the scope of necessary operations once more, and thereby send us back to the policy-too-big-troops-inadequate-it's-a-quagmire-of-Vienamese-proportions circus. Um, again.)

Give Iran cover of the bomb, and you can multiply the subversion many times, throughout a wide swath of the Middle East. The strangling will then be complete. End of BB, or any other US policy of consequence, in Iraq.

I reckon.

11/11/2006 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


Good point -- and the current war is taking place in scores of countries, involving intelligence agencies, special forces, training and advisors, financial transaction forensics, aid and diplomacy.

The difference is, for many Americans, that the loss of our bravest is not accompanied by enough progress to make it worth the cost. I understand this, but disagree.

11/11/2006 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Yep, epictetus, gonna be awful hard for the Dems to keep up the "Nevermind" chant for 2 years, even if they are conducting a showtrial of some sort. It is the genius of our system.

11/11/2006 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Cosmo, you got it.

Brushing your teeth and combing your hair can be made into fraud and mismanagement, with an adroit enough hostile presentation.

Anything. Over six years, a few secretaries have taken a few pencils home, and "the American People have been systematically defrauded by a corrosive pattern of financial mismanagement".

Tighten your seatbelt.

11/11/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


Have you read the Constitution lately? To point out the US-Armed Forces are subservient to the people is no insult, its fact.

When a soldier is inducted into boot camp they swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution.

The whole idea of our government is the government answers to the people. Yes, it does cause fickleness.

11/11/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I find myself agreeing with Mr. Pipes more and more. Jonah Goldberg has also talked about the fetishization of elections.

What is special about Western society is not so much we elect our government but we hold liberal attitudes.

In a debate, with Marc Reuel Gerrecht about this very same thing. Mr. Gerrecht was arguing for unconditional democracy and Mr. Pipes argued against it citing how it was a bad idea to give terrorists control of a state.

Marc made an interesting comment There can not be a Thomas Jefferson without a Martin Luther. which means it is not yet time for Dar es Islam to play with Democracy (which goes counter to his stand in the debate).

Victory in this case is not going to be noticed, in any event it will be a lot less noticeable than defeat. A slow winding down of the violence that one day will subside to the random noise of crime. Al Fuqrah a small city outside of Baghdad (imaginary) will have Adam Al Taylor and Hamdan Abu Fife as their LEOs.

Defeat will be broadcast on all of the major tv networks and via the Interenet.

11/11/2006 06:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a twist on John Kerry's "last man to die in Vietnam" speech. Hamas's warning to the Iraqis can be translated as "Who wants to be the last Iraqi to die for the Americans?" Hamas, and others, can smell the stench of betrayal and retreat in the air, and everyday Iraqis are left wondering if Osama judged Americans correctly as lacking the will to sustain a fight.

Iraqi collaborators with the Americans have been warned, and, were I an Iraqi with a family to protect, would hesitate to cast my lot with the Americans. It's not often that you get to see history repeated twice in a lifetime (i.e., betraying South Vietnam and betraying Iraq), but I'm sure the lesson is lost on the Iraqis (or others in the Middle East).

11/11/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

A Vietnam like defeat or situation in Iraq is only saying that the American Public is discouraged enough to not stop their Congressional Representives from saying lets stop this war and we are not going to pay for it any more.

That is the only part of this comparison that is correct.

I was in S. Vietnam (and a couple of other countrys) in 67-68. I was there when the Viet Cong were not only defeated but wiped completely out during and after the Tet Offensive.

But that victory, was wiped out by one man, one nationally known journalist and one other man who was weak and heart sick...the President.

They both gave up, allowing the anti-war groups and politicians to defeat our own military, our own troops, our own flesh and blood.

I will never forgive them for that or for what they did to the millions of S. Vietnamese.

We have accomplished a lot in Iran, more than most people know unless they read what the people that are there say. The media, the politicians and the ignorant public are making the same mistake again.

With even worse consequences.

No one learns it seems from history. No one listens to those of us who have been there and know the mistakes that were made.

We have lost many good men and women in this battle in this long war. But that is all Iraq battle. Iraq is not the war.

Iraqis will have to either learn how to survive under their brand of democracy or slide back into the Arab Muslim hell that we pulled them out of.

We tried to teach them how to fish, rather than just give them one.

But we must stay long enough to secure their borders and kill or imprison those from without that want Iraq and it's massive treasures.

After all, even we took twenty years to form our government, can't we give them the time and our treasure until they do?

One more useless comment in the ether....but it did me good to post it.

Papa Ray
West Texas

11/11/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

reformedemocrat, of course that has been the major underlying problem all along--the rhetoric issuing from the American left bollixed from the get-go any wholesale Iraqi sign-up for the New Deal.

Elections notwithstanding, the American "get out NOW" rhetoric is in every Iraqi home every night, courtesy Ted Turner.

Back to Lincoln, "a house divided against itself cannot stand".

11/11/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

and, Papa Ray, yes, it was JFKerry who started it up again this time, with his primary campaign for the Dem nomination for the 04 election.

If the man is not a traitor, i would hate to see a traitor. Pardon my rudeness.

11/11/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

kevin said:

It is totally irresponsible to tell someone you will support them against the thugs and then when things get tough, say "Never mind" and leave them holding the bag.

In this country, a President LBJ could tell someone he will support them against thugs, and then 5 years later a President Tricky Dick could tell those same folks that he's getting out. I'm sure a President would LIKE to make his policies live on after he is out of office, but this does not put a legal or even a moral burden on the decisions of the next President who comes in after him. Otherwise, we hamstring the executive with precedents that are perfectly fine for the judiciary but are not practical in the ever-shifting seas of foreign affairs.

11/11/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

reformeddemocrat wrote:

...everyday Iraqis are left wondering if Osama judged Americans correctly as lacking the will to sustain a fight.

Normally that would induce in me a twinge of guilt, but a recent Gallup poll conducted in Iraq indicates that over 70% of these "everyday Iraqis" consider American troops to be occupiers who must leave. Well, libs, which is it, do we stay or do we go now? If we stay there will be trouble, if we go it will be double.

11/11/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

C4, granted that colonialism had created a lot of grief in the peasantry, but reform was halted by a decades long campaign of ghastly assassinations of village leaders by the communist neighbor, seeking to conquer the capitalist nation and SEATO signatory next door.

This communist terror campaign is what neutralized the countryside and defeated the anti-VC peasantry.

and USSR & PRC aid to N Vietnam was how the NVA fought the war.

The American & S Vietnamese military was not defeated except by the American street and DC.

You know all that, I do not know why you romanticize the commies as you do, an aggressive ideology demanding conquest and incapable of a compromise peace.

Your eco fears, again, how long have you and I made the same speeches at each other?

Our numbers are fine--so long as we fix entitlements in the near future.

Using the nominals and ignoring percentages is a way to argue our own growth against us.

When (if) we start getting in bad shape, the first signal will be our long bond rates--you know that. They closed Friday at 4.7+%, very low historically. Foreign central banks love our bonds--no fear from the moneymen of our long-term. Why?

The GWoT is costing one percent of GDP. What will it cost to lose it?

11/11/2006 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

cosmo said:

After all we've seen a comeback in 70's fashions, and the Left has worked hard to portray Iraq as Vietnam, stir up racial animosity after Katrina, and create a new civil rights movement out of illegals...

All we need now to complete the "I Love The 70's" flashback is sky-high gas prices, a huge mid-term pickup for Democrats after a set of scandals, an Arab-Israeli war, an uppity Iran, and Russia moving against a 'Stan. Oh...wait!

11/11/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


You write: "Weak and feckless nations like Switzerland and S Korea that avoid war beyond their borders or proxy commitments have done rather well."

Largely the result, I'd say, of a group of nations willing to -- as Keegan or Kagan (can't remember) would argue -- keep one foot outside the door of Switzerland's Kantian paradise to deal with the demons spawned in the more Hobbesian neighborhoods of our fair planet.

Or, to paraphrase Mark Steyn, we can't all be Switzerland.

That goes double for South Korea, which wouldn't even exist save Western intervention.

This may sound corny, but I believe every generation or so, those of us ex-peasants lucky enough to have wound up in the Anglosphere's dominions are asked to assume the burden referenced above, in exchange for all the blessings we've received.

Yes, of course, let's quarrel and bicker about how we should go about taking out the world's garbage, but let's agree that our future -- and that of so many around the world -- depends upon our success and that, in the long run, there is no avoiding these fights.

11/11/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

C4, here's a fun link just appeared courtesy Allen @ BC's li'l bastard offspring, the Elephant Bar: "It's Not Your Father's 1972"

Gosh, look at them entitlements. USA is not caring for its needy?

11/11/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

woman catholic:

Well said. I thought I was going paranoid when the overhead music at the grocery store -- everytime I visited for several months earlier this year -- was a mix of jukebox-in-hell hits from the 70's.

Wait a minute . . . there's a noise under my bed . . .

11/11/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Buddy writes, "The GWoT is costing one percent of GDP. What will it cost to lose it?"

Din, ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.

11/11/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

cosmo said:

Well said. I thought I was going paranoid when the overhead music at the grocery store -- everytime I visited for several months earlier this year -- was a mix of jukebox-in-hell hits from the 70's.

The final straw for me is the new disco version of "I Go Crazy" originally written by Barry Manilow and sung by Paul Davis.

11/11/2006 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Barry Manilow is my favorite "make-you-forget-Kenny-G" artist.

11/11/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

The US GDP is about $13 trillion. 1% is $130 billion. The CBO says we've spent about $342 billion so far.

If I made $100K/year, $1000 wouldn't be much (~$85/month) to invest.

I think the US could make this kind of investment for a very long time.

11/11/2006 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

cedarford wrote:

I am reading another book on WWI diplomacy and how nations with no intent on distastrous war were sucked in because they felt they would look weak and fecklessly timid if they did not commit their sons lives to making up for other nation's blunders or lack of fire in the belly.

It said on the news there's only between nine and fourteen living doughboys in America now. One is 108 years old and lives in Portland, but none of them will be with us much longer. Soon there will only be history books and newsreels about the Great War, and no living memory of the first time Americans went out to save the world.

11/11/2006 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Reocon-Vietnam may have been a loss, but it bought time for the rest of South East Asia to get their economies up and running, sufficient to defeat any commie insurgency. Nobody wants a revolution when capitalism is filling their bellies and providing education for their kids.

If the US did not counter commie initiatives in Vietnam, then Indochina would have fallen far faster, and China would have easier/closer access to commie insurgencies in Thailand and Malaya. Given the porous border, it would have far easier to sneak supplies through to the red commies in Malaya, who were by then stealing chickens from my grandma's farm.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Iraq may prove to be the same. Not a clear-cut victory, but perhaps even a discouraging loss that can buy time for more people to awake to the fact that militant Islam is a problem, and for moderate muslims to realise that something is wrong, particularly the near-inevitable bloodbath once the US departs. Who are they going to blame that one on then? They have only themselves, the sorry bastards.

11/11/2006 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


"Is there anything more corrupt than communism?

Obviously there is, . . ."

Yeah, well, maybe. Show me an example, even in an early "pure" infant socialist revolution or society, of any equivalent to the relatively transparent call to justice of people in capitalist societies like Ivan Boesky, Bernie Ebbers or the Enron execs.

And I'm not talking about the ideology-driven persecutions of Kulaks in the Soviet Union or 'landlords' in China.

Where are the checks and balances or accountability in feudally-oriented socialist and communist societies?

They simply don't exist, except in the form of factions using 'the law' to denounce and showtrial their enemies.

The truth is that redistributionist philosophies might get traction in societies where oligarchs and injustice prevail. But they are all just so much snake oil, sold to the people by hucksters and charlatans who always (name an exception) end up fleecing every society they get their hands on.

11/11/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

woman catholic:

Good God. Barely man-enough, er, Barry Manilow. The whole unisex, David Cassidy thing is coming back to me in an entirely non-acid flashback.


11/11/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

an aside, re WWI diplomacy, and pertinent to today, the 1912 elction of Woodrow Wilson was enabled by a split vote, like last Tuesday. In the 1912, the split was between the GOP's Taft, and Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose party. Just like Tuesday, a large (anti-Taft) protest vote put the Dem in office, and the protest voters' goals even further away than had they backed Taft and kept a place in the caucus. Just sayin.

11/11/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...


Sorry 'bout dissing your boy Barely, er Barry.

Your 'protest vote' point is valid. The Pubbies and their natural constituents will be punished now far more by their opponents than they ever were at the polls by themselves.

The 'politics of petulance' -- the take-my-ball-and-go-home, elections-were-stolen, my-country-but-not-my-president high-chair banging non-sense we usually get from the Left -- is annoying enough in the best of times. It could prove suicidally selfish at this point in history.

11/11/2006 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

A child's game being played amongst ravening beasts, alright.

Listen, Barry, he got rhythm, man--you just gotta get DOWN wit it.


11/11/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Very interesting discussion.

Anyone know what Saudi Arabia and Egypt want US forces to do?

11/11/2006 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Iraq is far, far better off since we liberated it. The formerly-oppressed Shiites and Kurds unanimously agree, and only the Sunnis who were in Saddam's inner circle of power would feel otherwise.

We won the war, and won it quickly. The peace will also be won.

The only thing that has been lost so far is a political communications battle within the united states. For two years now President Bush has allowed the Democrats to monopolize the debate, just standing silently while the wacky moonbat conspiracy theories just got wilder and wilder.

I think General Franks is right in a tactical but not strategic sense about the achievement of secondary objectives. We need make clear both to ourselves and the world that the Iraqis have the ultimate responsibility for whether they have a civil war or not, whether they shoot at each other or not.

Right now we seem to have taken on the responsibility for preventing the Iraqis from shooting at each other. It would be rather like if, during the middle of the US civil war in the 1860's, the combined armies of the world invaded both parts of the US and tried to prevent the North and South from fighting.

I absolutely don't think we should leave Iraq, but we also shouldn't allow ourselves to be lured into taking responsibility for their civil war (which they have been fighting for decades), or to standing between the Iraqis while they are shooting at each other.

Perhaps we should keep almost all of our forces in hardened Iraqi bases where we don't take casualties, and let the Iraqis kill each other until they get tired of it. That would remove the idea that they can just outlast us.

11/12/2006 05:08:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Fresh-faced Ivy League "Democratic Strategist" strumpet on MSNBC a short while ago, when shown a poll saying 78% of the American people fear that the Democrats will make us get out of Iraq too hastily says, "I'm a populist, BUT, the American people don't necessarily know about how we should withdraw from Iraq.", or words to that effect, and then goes on to speak of the wisdom of Jack Murtha's "strategic redeployment".

11/12/2006 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Well 3case, you know elections are only cool when Dems win, and are stolen when they don't, or the public was duped, or their message didn't get out, blah, blah, blah.

They'd really rather dispense with the whole process altogether, Brussels-style; rely upon media-driven polls and such instead.

Similarly, interpretation spin is up to the whim and caprice of party elites. The votes were cast for whatever reasons they wanted them to be cast.

Manufactured mandate.

11/12/2006 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Here's a FreeRepublic post on the take over of small cities in LA county and elsewhere in the south west by Mexican drug cartels.
Here's the video that tells the tale.

11/12/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Corruption in South Vietnam was primarily a factor during the insurgency phase, not after Tet.

Political reformation could have nipped the insurgency in the bud in the 1950s or early 1960s. Nonetheless, by the end of American involvement it wasn't so critical.

Exhibit A: All the talk about the corruption in South Vietnam supposedly dooming the enterprise ignores the Korean War. The corruption and brutality of Sygman Rhee’s government in Korea surpassed the RVN, and yet the South Korean government still won a conventional war in 1950, defeated a limited insurgency in 1968, and survived continued disgruntlement towards autocratic rule until its democratization in the late 1980s.

The lesson here is that people will rally behind even a decrepit regime given an awful enough alternative.
There is evidence to suggest that the well-publicized [in Vietnam] massacres in Hue, and the increasing predominance of the North over the effort in South Vietnam, prompted a similar rallying of non-Communists to the South Vietnamese government’s colors.

To quote Lewis Sorley, an ARVN with over a million men under arms and “four million members of the People's Self-Defense Force, armed with some 600,000 weapons, represented no threat to the government that had armed them; instead they constituted an overt commitment to that government in opposition to the enemy”. Moreover, these numbers do not include the families of the men, nor the civilian participation in the government itself. They suggest a population with a stake in its government.

By the 1970s, 80% of VC cadres consisted of NVA troops, not Southerners. The vast majority of rural South Vietnam had already been removed from NVA/VC influence. It was two conventional invasions, supported by billions of dollars of Soviet arms, that beat South Vietnam. This was preventable.

11/12/2006 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

As for the second conventional invasion - well, it is kind of hard to make use of your manpower when, for example, your artillery units are reduced to a few available rounds per day.

11/12/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/12/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"Egypt, Morocco, KSA, UAE, Algeria, and Tunisia also recently announced a coaltion to pursue peaceful nuclear power - mostly to avoid burning expensive oil and gas for electricity and desalinization - but also to counter if need be - an Iranian nuclear program gone bad or the secret Israeli WMD stockpile of nukes and biologicals."

Fact #1: Israel has had nukes for almost four decades.

Fact #2: Iran is going to get nukes.

Fact #3: Said countries decide to go nuclear.

In spite of your intrinsic need to blame the Israelis [read Jews] for everything possible: It seems that Fact #2 is the driver of said countries' newly announced nuclearization, not fact #1.

Now, I expect you'll attempt to blame Israeli nukes for the Iranian program.

Fact #1 Iran is not an Israeli neighbor.

Fact #2 Iran is not an arab country.

Fact #3 Iran picked a fight with the Israelis, not vice versa.

Fact #4: The self-declared Iranian need for nuclear weapons to balance the Israelis, is therefore circular.

Personally, I think that Iran's desire for nuclear weapons, like the North Korean's, has more to do with regional aims than fear of the Israelis.

As for the existence of Iraeli nukes in the first place. They exist owing to the Muslims' unending desire to destroy them. Remove that catalyst and there's no need for them.

11/12/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


American Conservatives,

Consider this possibility:

Perhaps President Bush has a hidden agenda ... whose goal is to GENUINELY defeat the Mideast Isolamofascists ...

What is Bush and Rumsfeld decided months ago that the Iraqi Shiites were playing the US for a fool, i.e. achiving Sadam's Removal at a cost of tens of billions and thousands of US casualties, WITHOUT the Iranians having to spend hardly a dime ...

... and then, Bush and Rumsfeld wanted to send these Iraqi Shiities a clear message that they're in the Seventh Inning, and better get their act together (play ball with Washington) ... or face a US exit from Iraq that would give the Sunnis and Kurds a chance to exterminate the Shiities ?

After all ... Bush was interviewing Gates the Weekend BEFORE the election, and Rumsfeld's mature (adult) enough to serve as Bush's "set-up sacrifice" to what the Whitehouse KNEW would the Democrat-controlled Congress and Senate.

Furthermore, what better "psy-ops" to use against Iran than to "publicly" trot-out Baker's ISG for all the world to see ... including Tehran ... suggesting US surrender to Iran's demands ... just before the (forthcoming) "out-of-nowhere" combined U.S. Isreali strike against Iran's nuclear facilities ...

Bush's political base might be eroded ... but MANY conservatives (not me) stayed home because we HAVEN'T carpet-bombed Tehran and Damascus ...

And don't forget those Christian Evangelicals, who'd LOVE and support Bush's support of an Israeli strike against Iran, simply becuase Bush is supporting Israel.

In conclusion, Bush's "publicized" talks with Baker
s (The Kurd's version of Janet Reno) might simply be an incredible geo-political ruse ... to be successful as McArthur's Inchon Landings in Korea ..

After all, I BELIEVE that President Bush is the genuine Winston Churchill of our time, and he KNOWS that Western Civilization and Christianity are in the fight for their VERY EXISTENCE.

And it was Churchill and Eisenhower that "worked very hard" to plant the rumor to the German High Command that Patton would lead the French Invasion from Calais ... exclusively for ensuring Eisenhower's (ultimate) success at Normandy ...

I have faith that President Bush will lead us to victory ...


"May God and His Angels Guard Your Sacred Throne, and May You Long Become It."

Shakespeare, Henry V, Act I, Scene II

11/12/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sir:

I appreciate your bringing to your readers' attention The National Interest Symposium on Iraq.

However your description of my thesis as "if intervening foreign countries are left alone to dialogue with sectarian groups now fighting internally they will come to a workable understanding. Somehow. All that's needed is for America to leave." is grossly inaccurate. Nowhere do I propose such a preposterous thesis. Nor do I even address whether and when U.S. troops should withdraw as you mistakenly suggest.

I trust that your readers will read the article themselves and come to their own, more accurate understanding.


Peter Charles Choharis

11/12/2006 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Bravo 2-1 said...

Was General Franks even aware of a second objective after the primary one? His war-planning indicates not.

11/13/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger High Power Rocketry said...

: )

11/16/2006 06:59:00 PM  

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