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Author Topic: Bush On Iraq
docmagik
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Bush Explains Why Iraq Is Vital To War On Terror
(Also discusses what we've accomplished so far)

Speech.

Summary.

Mp3.

Bush Explains How Lessons From Far East Can Help Us In Middle East
(Also discusses why democracy in Iraq makes us safer)

Speech.

Summary.

Mp3.

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Samprimary
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Bush Explains How Sun Rises In West
(Also discusses how the chariot moves it so fast)

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MrSquicky
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doc,
What's your take on the speeches?

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docmagik
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My first thing is to urge people to read them or listen to them. They're good speeches.

But to me, the biggest thing isn't so much about the actual stuff that the President's saying, so much as just the fact that he's saying it.

I think we've passed that magical moment where everybody's positions have solidified, and those who feel the War in Iraq is a mistake, and/or has nothing to do with the War on Terror have dug in their heels, and no amount of working utilities or captured or killed terrorists will convince them. And vice versa--those who support the war support it, and they will remain tenaciously optimistic even if circumstances didn't give them any reason to be.

What Bush is doing here is, I think, what he should have been doing since the start of the conflict--treating this thing as a war, and taking the case for the war and the nation's progress in the war directly to the American people.

Frankly, I've thought for a long time that the reason the President hired Tony Snow to be the White House spokesman was because he wanted somebody in that spot capable of explaining his positions in a way the American People could understand, and who could handle hostile press with grace and tenacity. While the second part has, for the most part, proven true, the first part never has. There's never been a full-scale effort to go directly and consistently to the people about the continuing mission in Iraq.

Critics of the war will say this is because Bush and company don't care what people think--that they're either oil-hungry or power-hungry or vengeance-hungry and that they're ordering these folks off to die and ruining their public reputations with impunity because all they care about are their schemes.

I doubt it.

So why is there the disconnect?

I'd like to think it was a strategic move. The media thrives on controversy, and by failing to provide a steady stream of soundbites about the war for pundits and politicians to criticize, the White House might be attempting to keep the argument from escalating. By failing to provide new data, arguments, and information for people to rip apart, it forces the pundits and politicians to repeat the arguments against the old stuff over and over, and there's nothing the media tires of faster than old news. The administration leaves it to the pro-war pundits and bloggers to debate the old points.

However, I have a hard time accepting it as a strategy. Largely because I think it doesn't feel like a strategy. It just feels like them doing what they want (or, to be gentler about it, like them doing what they think is best) over there, without giving much thought to "selling" it over here.

And I also have a hard time accepting it as a strategy because I simply think it isn't true. I think Tony Snow tosses new stats and information out there fairly consistently, and that everybody from Cheney to Rice to Bush himself are talking about this.

It's just not the consistent, direct focus on this I'd like to see. It's more slipshod and unfocused.

I think to some degree this is because everybody in the cabinet doesn't have political reasons to self-justify, and that, to a larger degree, this is because many of the groups and organizations these people are speaking to are the people who don't need convincing and who offer steady support and appreciation for what both our Executive Branch and our military are doing.

I’ve long since felt that the President should really be putting Tony Snow to work. Give him a weekly show where he talks about the war. In honest terms. Talks about the shortcomings, talks about the successes. Brings on guests from the pentagon and the Iraqi government to talk about what’s going on. Put it on C-Span on Sunday nights. Or put it on the internet. In other words, do the kind of thing they used to do during past wars, but in a format updated for the media age.

Why don’t they do this?

Could be a couple of reasons. One might be that they’re afraid that such a format would give the American people the impression that this was a “series,” and that, like other “series,” there should be interesting developments every week. And sometimes, in a war, the “best” weeks are some of the dullest. They’re afraid that by conveying the war in that format, the format would become the war in the minds of the American people.

Another reason might be that a war like this is tough to report on progress in. Any public announcement of successes becomes a good place for the insurgents to focus their efforts. Say Snow did a piece about the great new sewer system they’ve finally got going in some town that hasn’t had one in a couple of decades, and a piece about how a certain neighborhood in a certain town has seen a dramatic decrease in the violence in the past two weeks. This list would then become the insurgents “To-do” list, and they’d be able to make it a point to refocus their efforts on that neighborhood, as well as try to go after that sewer system.

(Incidentally, this is why it’s actually pretty bold of Bush and Gen. Petraeus to make such bold statements about the progress in Anbar, the reclaimed Lost Cause. Bragging about it would make it look very bad for everyone if that city was taken back.)

What I hope it isn’t—although I’m afraid it is—is that the administration simply isn’t putting public perception of the war as a priority.

My love for William Goldman notwithstanding, the biggest lesson of Vietnam is not that we should never get into a land war in Asia.

I would argue that one of the main lessons we learned in Vietnam is that what is happening here in the states, both at college campuses and in the halls of congress can cost lives of both soldiers and civilians thousands of miles away.

The domestic attitude about the war is, I think, prolonging the conflict. As the insurgents, terrorists, and Iranians continue to have hope that killing Americans and Iraqis in Iraq will weaken our determination to see this thing through, the greater the chances they will continue to devote time and attention to killing these people. If the United States (or even better, the whole democratic world) had come out united in their opposition to the insurgents, and allowed each unnecessary death to steel their resolve rather than weaken it, I think those we’re fighting in Iraq would be considerably less hopeful and tenacious in their efforts.

As it is, I don’t think the current situation is necessarily the worst case scenario. While the current domestic attitude about the war is far from positive, it hasn’t escalated to the point of crisis as it did in the Vietnam era. Also, those who support the war have a much more obvious voice this time than they did that go around. It gives the terrorists a level of hope that is sufficient to keep them fighting, but not sufficient to make them believe victory is imminent.

Why is this important? Because regardless of whether you think that Iraq was in any way linked with 9/11 at the time we went in, the fact remains that Al-Qaeda was willing to show up and fight their side. And as dirty and as hard as this kind of fighting is, it is at least the kind of fight our soldiers are trained for.

Please note, I am not making the “Better there than here” argument. I do not think the lives of Iraqis are somehow more “expendable” than those of Americans.

I am making the “Better this way than that way” argument. Currently, in Iraq, we are forcing the terrorists to participate in the type of fighting our troops are actually trained for, while we try to increase our ability to fight the types of terrorists who brought about 9/11. Let the terrorists expend their resources fighting us the way we know how to fight, while we learn how to fight the way they’re prepared to fight when we fail to engage them, the way we failed to engage them in the years leading up to 9/11.

Also, in addition to the protests and public disapproval of the war being at manageable levels, the congress is, for the most part, being extremely hypocritical about the war. They’re talking against it, calling for troop withdrawal, talking about de-funding the war, and decrying so-called “domestic” surveillance, but in the meantime, they’re passing funding for the war, not withdrawing troops, and voting in favor of “domestic” surveillance. So while they’re willing to say things that could potentially harm us for their own political reasons, they’re not willing to actually pass things that could potentially harm us for their own political reasons (I know I called this hypocrisy, but I’m actually extremely grateful for it. I believe it was our host who said he’d rather live with people who said wrong but did right than people who said right but did wrong).

So to sum up, my reaction is basically, “We need more of this.”

I don’t think anything in this speech is new. If you care about the war and the facts of it matter to you, you’ve probably already heard these things and found somewhere that the people who agree with you about the war either support these ideas or poo-poo them. And if you don’t care about the facts of the war, and have decided to use something else as the basis of your opinion (such as your feelings (pro or con) about war, your feelings (pro or con) about Republicans, or your feelings (pro or con) about Bush), then you’re not going to bother to listen to what the President has to say about this stuff anyway.

Nonetheless, this is the way the President and the White House should be talking. Talking about facts. Talking about our place in history. Talking about specifics. Talking about the lessons we’ve learned from past conflicts, and why we shouldn’t make the same mistakes again.

This is George W. Bush actually talking like a President, and I’m glad to see it.

I’ve no doubt the speeches will do little good. I can imagine liberal blogs filled with headlines like, “Bush finally admits Iraq is his own Vietnam” and the like. I don’t think people standing on the sides of the aisle get swayed by stuff like this.

But I do think that swayable moderates and those conservatives who have become opponents of the war might not have fled so swiftly if he’d have started talking like this earlier and more often.

As it is, is it too little, too late? Most likely. While I think historians will be kinder to Bush than journalists, the fact is, he doesn’t have much left to build credibility on again. Gen. Petreaus has the unique opportunity when he shows up in September, of being able to take credit if he can bring a good message, and pass the buck if he brings a bad message (although I don’t think anyone will actually get any credit no matter what happens; the number of columns and blog posts questioning Petreaus’s credibility will be directly proportional to how positive his reports are).

Either way, I don’t see Bush reaching the end of any rainbows any time soon.

Our only hope is that the next president be either one of the conservatives who understand the war, or Senator Clinton, who, despite her blustering about the way the war’s being handled, is the only Democratic candidate with enough experience to actually understand the implications of the Iraq situation, and therefore has had the hardest time actually putting herself in opposition to it and calling for withdrawal.

In these cases, the folks in charge, wanting a second term, will actually have more of a selfish reason for trying to help the American people understand the reasons behind what we’re doing, and the ever-changing nature of the conflict. This might lead them to make their case better throughout the remaining years of the conflict.

However, I’m also terrified of what that desire to continue to make short-term gains might cause them to do to that would negatively affect the long term.

Which is why, for now, I recognize that having a President who doesn’t see approval numbers as his top priority isn’t the worst possible thing.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
And vice versa--those who support the war support it, and they will remain tenaciously optimistic even if circumstances didn't give them any reason to be.
This would be you? [Smile]
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docmagik
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No.

Like I said in my post, I think we're leaving out a vital front in this war.

For this reason, I remain what I will call "cautiously pessimistic.”

I only posited one scenario in my post where we win, and that’s one where the next President both

A> Feels that winning in Iraq is important enough to continue the mission

B> Values his or her own political future enough to go to greater lengths to persuade the American people that this is a good idea

I’m actually not all that optimistic that we’ll even get A, let alone A and B.

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Boris
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I'm planning an apocalypse party. I'm stock-piling cheetos and candy bars, and am just gonna watch all the fireworks happen as they happen. You know why? Because both sides have completely lost their minds, and both sides, if they don't grow up and start figuring things out together, rather than laying down a big piece of tape right down the middle of Congress and the Senate, are going to push us right into a great big poof. I'm just looking for a good seat with a view of it all. Anyone want some popcorn?
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Lyrhawn
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Well I read both speeches, and first off the top of my head: $87 billion for Veterans? That's huge! If that were a part of the actual defense budget, it'd grow by almost a fifth! Maybe he should be talking about reducing the cost of health care for the love of God.

Next,

quote:
We're still in the early hours of the current ideological struggle
The early hours? See it's crap like that that pisses me off. Four years ago when we started this mess, Rumsfeld and Bush were talking about the war like it'd be over in weeks, in fact Rumsfeld specifically said weeks. Bush said Mission Accomplished. And now four years later, when we were supposed to have already been done and out of there, we're still in the early hours? How the hell long is this war that he's gotten us into supposed to take, decades? You want to give him credit for being honest NOW, but what about being pissed off over having been LIED TO for four years? It's like the Michael Vick thing, admitting you were wrong and expecting to get off scott free is ridiculous. When you admit you were wrong, suck it up and take the punishment, and KEEP telling us the truth. The truth isn't a magic wand that makes all the lies go away.

Next, his comparisons to Japan are stupid. First of all, we had MILLIONS of people in Japan, a country that's small than Iraq, and we had a concentrated national effort on all fronts, not just militarily, to solve the problem, to say nothing of the efforts of a huge coalition of Western Allies that we don't currently have access to. And that rebuilding took decades, much of it under military occupation before we let them take control of their own country. Also, after they surrendered they didn't spend all their time trying to suicide bomb the hell out of us or their own people every day. Furthermore they were a single people, not separate groups with thousands of years of hatred between them that's only intensified a thousand fold since we got there. To sum up: Japan wasn't in the midst of a civil war when we helped them reform.

And now he is comparing Iraq to Vietnam? After years of saying such comparisons had no validity? Better late than never I guess, but for a lot of us it just confirms that he was horribly and completely wrong.

And he says that if we leave now, they will gain new recruits...uh, more recruits than the war has garnered them in the first place?!

quote:
And that is why millions of Iraqis and Afghans turned out to the polls -- millions turned out to the polls. And that's why their leaders have stepped forward at the risk of assassination. And that's why tens of thousands are joining the security forces of their nations. These men and women are taking great risks to build a free and peaceful Middle East -- and for the sake of our own security, we must not abandon them.
Yeah, except that isn't working. Their security forces aren't allowed to act independently of US forces, they aren't well trained, many of them just don't show up for work on a regular basis if they don't want to. And their leaders aren't working together. They aren't passing vital legislation on major issues, they just sit around and squabble with each other while thousands strong armed militias beat the hell out of each other and kill innocent civilians who just want to get the hell out of there.

quote:
Our troops have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists and other extremists every month since January of this year.
That's an insane number. I'm not calling him a liar, I believe it. I'm saying it's insane that we've captured or killed 12,000 insurgents and there still seems to be no end in sight. And this is four years after the war started, killing who knows how many thousands before. But since this is the first few hours of the struggle, I guess there's more to come eh?

I'm glad to hear him finally talk a bit more openly and honestly about this struggle that's ahead of us, but he is STILL being misleading with the types of comparisons he is making. Plus he's contradicting himself. You can't make grandiose generalizations about this war and how it's the same thing as WWII when you've said in the past that this is a totally new type of war that's unlike anything we've fought before. With one hand you seek to silence critics by saying it's a new war and that old war thinking isn't fair, and with the other hand you try to bring old war triumphs into the discussion as if they were relevant.

Okay, that was the VA Speech, now I'll deal with the American Legion speech:

It's neither here nor there, but Americans haven't died for the flag, they've died for the things the flag represents. There's a difference. And draping the flag over a coffin is a symbolic gesture.

Now, it's nice to see that four years after invading Iraq, President Bush finally seems to have a decent grasp on the differences between Shi'a and Sunni. Glad that didn't take too long.

quote:
Our strategy is this: We will fight them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America.
And it's that kind of thinking that's dooming us. It's goofy. America has more people in it than the entire Middle East combined, and probably doubled, to say nothing of the fact that we probably have the most heavily armed private citizenry, even more so than the Middle East where they have arms bazaars. So what, is the ENTIRE Middle East going to swim over here? Or build a stealth fleet of ships to get them all over here? To have the kind of conflict going on in Iraq happen over here would take some combination of magic and time freezing to occur, because otherwise it defies logic to see how it could. You don't fight them with huge armies, you do it with intelligence gathering, new age police work that the FBI is pretty good at, and Special Operations Forces when you get those other two things to align. Fighting them over there just pisses more of "them" off so more of "them" want to hurt us.

They aren't coming over here en masse. They will come over here in small groups. And killing or capturing 12,000 of them won't matter much if 12 of them get over here, because that's all it takes to kill 3,000 Americans. Actually less than that since one of the planes never hit its mark. The more Iraq style engagement means more funds and more recruits which only gives them more assets to come over here and hurt us. The types of political and moral gains we could have made over there with the money and effort wasted in Iraq could have been enormous. But we'll never know now. Now we have to worry about a poisoned generation of Middle Easterners with easy access to groups who want to do us harm.

I'm not saying freedom for Iraq isn't a laudable goal, it is. But even the generals over there are now asking if it's a realistic goal. And this from the guys who literally wrote the book on counter insurgency. If our stated goal is actually just to make the US safer, I don't see how President Bush's strategy is really going to get us closer to that.

quote:
In 2006, a thinking enemy struck back. The extremists provoked a level of sectarian violence that threatened to unravel the democratic gains the Iraqi people had made. Momentum was shifting to the extremists. The Iraqi people saw that their government could not protect them, or deliver basic services. Many Shia turned to militias for security. Many Sunnis did not see a place for them in the new Iraq. Baghdad was descending into chaos. And one of our military intelligence analysts wrote that Anbar Province -- al Qaeda's base in Iraq -- was lost to the enemy.
Now here, kudos to the President. That was an honest assessment, an honest statement. It would have been great to hear him actually say that when it was happening instead of asserting at the time that everything was hunky dory, but I'll take it a year later rather than never. This is the kind of statement that assumes the people of America aren't weak or cowardly, and that we aren't stupid. It assumes that we're smart and understanding, and that if you give it to us straight, we won't run for the hills, we'll ask "what's next?"

The end of his speech was inspiring, but I have to ask, is it true? I still await the progress report that Petreaus is to give in the Fall, and I await the vote that will happen in Kirkuk on who will control the city. That honest paragraph from the President on the state of the war in 2006 gives me hope that maybe he does understand what is going on, but at the same time, everything else he says leads me to believe he isn't the guy I want in charge. And I don't know if four years of lies and misleading can be overturned by a paragraph in a speech, so I don't think I can trust all the bright and rosy pictures he's trying to paint for me. I hope they are true, but I need to see it to believe it, and no one but him is saying it's true.

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Xavier
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quote:
The domestic attitude about the war is, I think, prolonging the conflict. As the insurgents, terrorists, and Iranians continue to have hope that killing Americans and Iraqis in Iraq will weaken our determination to see this thing through, the greater the chances they will continue to devote time and attention to killing these people. If the United States (or even better, the whole democratic world) had come out united in their opposition to the insurgents, and allowed each unnecessary death to steel their resolve rather than weaken it, I think those we’re fighting in Iraq would be considerably less hopeful and tenacious in their efforts.
This kind of steely resolve is possible only when the American public believes 100% in the cause.

Unquestionably backing a war in which it was America who was the unquestionable aggressor just isn't a pill I am likely to swallow.

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vonk
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I haven't had a chance to read the entire speech yet, but the section quoted above sounds a lot like he's blaming the effects of the war on people that never wanted it to happen.
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Samprimary
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quote:
I’ve long since felt that the President should really be putting Tony Snow to work. Give him a weekly show where he talks about the war. In honest terms. Talks about the shortcomings, talks about the successes.
The administration has downplayed and/or denied too many of their open failures with managing the war. The end result is that Tony Snow realistically can not talk about the shortcomings of the occupation -- especially the first year -- in honest terms, or they break the dissonance floodgates and pit people even more widely and fiercely against the war.

Tony Snow is instead forced to maintain a threshold of incredulity where he distances himself from honest appraisal of how the occupation was won. The typical strategy is to only 'look to the future,' give a cursory gloss-over to contemporary challenges (Maliki, Iran, so forth) and move as far away from issues of confidence-killing incompetence as possible.

If Tony Snow had to talk about the failures of the civilian leadership of the war, the failures of the occupational policy, or the corrupt, inept reconstruction blitz that the administration did nothing to prevent(and, in fact, silently sanctioned what essentially amounted to the torture/ostracization/demotion of any whistleblowers horning in on it!), he would be fulfilling no service to anyone who wanted to continue the war, or to anyone who wanted to assert that the war is still fundamentally winnable.

In the future, in fact, people will be trying to downplay the information contained in my links not to assert that we should leave the war, but to pretend that it was not the fault of the administration that we lost the war, when it really was.

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lem
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quote:
Why is this important? Because regardless of whether you think that Iraq was in any way linked with 9/11 at the time we went in, the fact remains that Al-Qaeda was willing to show up and fight their side. And as dirty and as hard as this kind of fighting is, it is at least the kind of fight our soldiers are trained for.

quote:
I am making the “Better this way than that way” argument. Currently, in Iraq, we are forcing the terrorists to participate in the type of fighting our troops are actually trained for, while we try to increase our ability to fight the types of terrorists who brought about 9/11. Let the terrorists expend their resources fighting us the way we know how to fight, while we learn how to fight the way they’re prepared to fight when we fail to engage them, the way we failed to engage them in the years leading up to 9/11.

The problem I have with this sentiment is that it treats the number of terrorists like a static figure. It is not as simple as drawing them into Iraq where we can drain their resources.

I don't buy it. Also, we not NOT "forcing the terrorists to participate in the type of fighting our troops are actually trained for." We are having to learn how to do guerrilla warfare.

We are spending more money then they are. How much money are we borrowing from China a month to finance this war? A case could be made that they are bleeding our resources, not the other way around. I am also fairly certain that they are inspiring more recruits to their cause then we are to ours.

In short, after 5 years Iraq has cost us close to half a trillion dollars, increased the number of terrorists, and has inspired Al-Qaeda to move into Iraq--a place that was at odds with them pre-9/11. Al-Qaeda is also now as strong as it was before 9/11.

The only republican that has made consistent sense about all of this, both before and during the war, has been Ron Paul.

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BlackBlade
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I've always felt that this administration made the same mistakes the administrations who oversaw Vietnam made. They did not level with the public, and the media took that black out and convinced the public that this whole shebang is wrong, evil, and doomed to fail.

As for more terrorists in Iraq. Well, that's what happens when you take the fight to one location, all those terrorists all over the world recruit and send their guys to that location, hence more terrorists.

I don't think we have good numbers for how many Al-Qaeda operatives are at work right now. And simply having more numbers does not make then, "stronger." The ability to wage war on us is a far better indicator of strength. If we kill off all their inteligent leaders and logitians and say they replace each of them with 100 AK-47 wielding grunts, they are still losing strength.

edit: Also thanks for taking the time to post this Doc. It was facinating, I just wish it was a candor and openess that had existed this whole time.

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Dan_Frank
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Docmagik: I just wanted to say, since reading through this I become increasingly skeptical that anyone else will say so, that I think your post was very insightful.
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Sterling
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I'd agree that it was a thoughtful piece, but that doesn't mean I don't disagree with significant portions of it and enormous sections of the speeches on which it is based.

It's dangerous to cite any war of the past in comparison with wars of the present day; whether the comparison is technological, strategic, political, moral, or some other, it is bound to have tremendous shortcomings.

That said, I can't help but think that two significant ideas did emerge for the civilian populace following the Vietnam conflict:

1. The conviction that, but for an active press, the government will never give an accurate picture of how an armed conflict in which we are involved is playing out, and

2. That the rationale on which we are driven into such conflicts (in one case, the "Domino Effect"; in the other, the presence of "weapons of mass destruction") may well be dead wrong.

Aside from ongoing mistakes in Iraq and previous ones under which we continue to suffer (including the failures to secure explosives and the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of firearms), the willingness to beat the drums with regard to Iran makes a sad case for the failure to learn significant important lessons about our presence in the Middle East. The Taliban and opium trade in Afghanistan are both in resurgance, and articles published in 2004 note that a majority of children there will have their growth stunted by malnutrition. Many people in positions to observe note that no amount of military presence will "fix" Iraq until the government shows an ability to lead. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the country, including an enormous number of the professionals crucial to creating a stable nation. And still we express willingness to lay waste to yet another nation. Perhaps it is just saber-rattling, attempting to get a nation seen as a potential nuclear threat to fall in line. But at this point, how can another attack, at least a unilateral one, possibly be seen as either a realistic or a moral objective?

We are told that withrawl from Iraq will vindicate the terrorists, and yet we have seen little evidence that their tactics or abilities have changed in response to our invasion; only that they grow ever better at penetrating our technology and our tactics. We are told that fighting them in Iraq contains the threat of terrorism, but attacks in Europe and Asia suggest otherwise. We are told that we are fighting those who attacked us on 9/11/01, and yet we are in the process of selling billions of dollars in weapons to the country from which most of those hijackers came, even while we persist in occupation of the country from which none of them came.

We praise the national pride that brings people out to vote, displaying ink-stained fingers, even while we ignore or minimize the national pride that recruits Iraqis to drive out those many see as unwelcome invaders. And when a typhoon gives the U.S. government a chance to show our good intentions toward Islamic nations in the east, we drag our feet in providing aid. (The government, specifically. Many individuals and private charities came through in a far more admirable fashion.)

Putting aside questions about vengeance, power, oil, (...the dollar against the Euro, overall theories of control around the Persian Gulf, etc...), there is little question in my mind right now that the Bush administration is legacy hungry. If they can create a Middle East that is stable, or even negligibly more friendly towards western interests and influence, that could be The Great Work for which this administration would be remembered throughout history. This is blatantly apparent from the somewhat pleading notes made recently about the unpopularity of past presidents now regarded as great statesmen.

Unfortunately, while some small degree of humility and perspective may finally be coming into play in the waning hours of the administration, I think it remains far too tone deaf to accomplish any of its dreams.

I think the questions now are ones of damage control.

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MrSquicky
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doc,
I'm not sure where in there you actually talked about the content of the speeches. Did you do so and I missed it?

I am one of the people who you don't seem to believe exist, in that I would love for things in Iraq to go well and am looking for good news, but I'm not finding things, even in these speeches, that lead me to believe that we're even on the path to having democracy flourish in Iraq and the Middle East.

If you are seeing great news and indications that we really are on the right track in then, I'd love for you to share where you are finding this.

edit: Spelling

[ August 31, 2007, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by docmagik:
Why is this important? Because regardless of whether you think that Iraq was in any way linked with 9/11 at the time we went in, the fact remains that Al-Qaeda was willing to show up and fight their side. And as dirty and as hard as this kind of fighting is, it is at least the kind of fight our soldiers are trained for.

[snip]

I am making the “Better this way than that way” argument. Currently, in Iraq, we are forcing the terrorists to participate in the type of fighting our troops are actually trained for, while we try to increase our ability to fight the types of terrorists who brought about 9/11. Let the terrorists expend their resources fighting us the way we know how to fight, while we learn how to fight the way they’re prepared to fight when we fail to engage them, the way we failed to engage them in the years leading up to 9/11.

The terrorists are actually fighting us in ways that we are not prepared to handle. Our military even acknowledges this. You want the video on Lt. Col. John Nagl (it should be the one that shows up when you click the link but that may change as they add more videos).

Yes, I know it's the Daily Show, however listen to what Lt. Col. John Nagl actually says.

quote:
Our very conventional superiority in war fighting is driving our enemies to fight us as insurgents and as gorillas rather than in the kind of war we're most prepared to fight, which is conventional tank-on-tank warfare.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Threads:
quote:
Our very conventional superiority in war fighting is driving our enemies to fight us as insurgents and as gorillas rather than in the kind of war we're most prepared to fight, which is conventional tank-on-tank warfare.

Man, I hate it when people fight us as gorillas. It gives me horrible visions of our future, when Charlton Heston will inevitably blow up the world.
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docmagik
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Dan: Thanks. Seriously.

Squick: I don't think he said anything all that new, in general, which is why I didn't talk about the things he said so much. On a thoughtful forum like this, that's not really new stuff.

I just think it's new for him to be saying them this clearly, and I think it's a good thing.

He did give hope for the future, as I discussed, but I think a lot of his message was also centered on why hope even mattered--the reasons why we need to stick it out even if there isn't a whole lot of hope.

Threads: While you're listening to Lt. Nagl, you might want to pepper in some of the recent interviews General Petraeus and Major General James Simmons have done on the TV and radio.

I also reccomend the archives of Captain Dale Dye's old radio show. In iTunes, do a search for KFI Sundays and you'll get the podcast of all the sunday shows. If you scroll down to before May, you'll see the last batch of shows before he took his year off. Good stuff from a good Military analyst.

He actually did a great show about the mistakes in Iraq that I was hoping was still there, but it looks like it's not. Although he did talk quite a bit about the situation in Iraq in his second to last show.

(Incidentally, I also reccomend the Jillian Michaels podcast in that same KFI Sunday lineup for anyone with fitness or weight loss interests.)

General Note: Looks like Tony Snow is leaving. There goes a missed opportunity.

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Lyrhawn
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I think he was better than Ari though, since Ari had that smug "You're stupid" tone to his voice whenever he addressed the press, and better than Scott McClellan who always had that void, blank look on his face that made him look like he was giving a 7th grade public speaking speech and was hopelessly lost. We'll see how Dana Perino does.

I really don't think the whole 'why we're fighting the war' thing is new. Though his reasons do tend to change from year to year. Whether it's WMDs, or Saddam and terrorists, or fighting for democracy, or fighting them there and not here, well the reasons always seem to change, but what doesn't change is that no matter what the reason, if we lose we all die in a giant terrorist attack and fall under the hegemony of barbarian rule. Regardless of how utterly ridiculous that is, well, the first one has some validity, the second one utter nonsense, he still comes out with that same old fear mongering tactic every time. Then he tacks hope onto the end, but the only hope you have is to believe and follow everything he says, because anything else leads to ruin. I probably wouldn't even buy a package like that from someone I did trust.

Anyway, Petraeus and the other generals now are saying they no longer have faith that a stable democratic Iraq is a possibility, and that they think we should be aiming towards a stable Iraq perhaps under a different form of government.

Where are these signs of hope? Are they in the cholera outbreaks in northern Iraq because there's no supply of drinking water there? Are they in the largest bloc of Sunnis quitting the government? Are they in the fact that even as we capture and kill more and more insurgents, the death tolls keep hitting record monthly totals the further this war goes on (that's civilian and soldier death tolls)?

I'm not a naysayer for the sake of being negative. I too would be thrilled if Iraq worked, if our efforts there were a dramatic success, and if we could leave Iraq a stable functioning democracy. But I don't see it. And I especially don't see it when Republican congressmen try and fear monger us by saying that if US troops leave Iraq that gas prices will skyrocket to nine dollars a gallon. As if that would honestly be a good reason to stay even if it were true?!

And to whomever said it, the reason the uproar over this war isn't the same that it was for Vietnam is that there's no draft. If we had a draft, I'd bet everything I have that we'd be repeating history in more than one way right now.

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Samprimary
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Tony Snow was the best press secretary they had.

Ari was hapless and even got laughed out of the press room on a couple of occasions. McClellan was worse -- a doughy-faced sputterer with a perpetually lost look whose demeanor indicated nothing less than a crummy attempt to bypass the facts.

Snow was much more composed, went in with a more cohesive game plan, and backed the administration away from strategies it was cashing out faster than you could say 'blame gaming.'

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Dan_raven
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I hate false dichotomies. My number one rule in life is "When Forced to choose between A or B, always choose 3."

President Bush makes a case for "Stay, don't go."

The Democrats and many Republican's in Congress retaliate with "Go. Don't Stay."

I am waiting for the third option. "Win. Don't Lose."

President Bush says that if we leave terrible things will happen and even more terrible things may happen.

Yet as we stay, terrible things are happening and will continue to happen.

Instead of a withdrawal, or a continued surge, what if we changed tactics and did what was successful. What if instead of spending our time and resources winning the hearts and minds of Congress and the American People, we won the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

If a presidential candidate could give us a possible strategy to win the war, not in Iraq, but "The War on Terrorism" then I think they would win the election, regardless of party.

The secret is that the definition of a win would have to be one that everyone could agree on. Turning the US or the world into one big police state is not victory.

There is one other thing.

A lot has been said about comparing the war in Iraq with the war in Vietnam. There was a wise man who mentioned that if the US had not gotten out of the war in Vietnam, it would not have had the resources, monetary and military, to ultimately win the Cold War. I think the same could be said here. If we don't do something about Iraq soon, we won't be strong enough to win the war on Terror.

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docmagik
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Great post, Dan.

And the last paragraph is an argument I've never heard before--thanks for that. I'll have to look into that further.

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Morbo
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Dan, I think it's too late to win hearts and minds of Iraqis. [Frown]
The day Saddam fell, we were greeted as liberators. The problem is, the next day we morphed into occupiers.

I think the analogies to Viet Nam miss the point. Post-Tito Yugoslavia is a much better fit: the civil war between multiple groups, ethnic cleansing, bordering nations accelerating the disintegration, etc.

William S. Lind makes a very logical case for why we need to leave Iraq ASAP in a July essay:
quote:
Our invasion and subsequent blunders, such as sending home the Iraqi army and civil service, destroyed the state in Iraq. Iraq currently has a government of sorts, cowering in the Green Zone, but it is a Potemkin government because there is no state. A stateless Mesopotamia is a huge win for Fourth Generation, non-state forces such as al Qaeda, because they flourish in such statelessness.

Conversely, were a state to be re-created in Iraq, they would lose. That is true almost regardless of the nature and orientation of a new Iraqi state. States do not like competition, and any real Iraqi state would quickly roll up the non-state forces on its territory. The fact that an Iraqi state would almost certainly be Shiite-dominated while al Qaeda is poisonously Salafist makes that all the more certain.

The central strategic question, then, is, how can a state be re-created in Iraq? There is no guaranteed answer; it may not be possible. What is guaranteed, however, is that the United States cannot do it. The problem is legitimacy. To be real, a future Iraqi state must be perceived by Iraqis as legitimate. But anything the United States, as a foreign invader and occupier, creates, endorses or assists automatically thereby loses its legitimacy.

"How to Win in Iraq" by William S. Lind

To me, it's a compelling case: to flush al-Queda out of Iraq, a legitimate state must exist--outside military forces alone cannot do it. Such a state is impossible while we occupy Iraq. Ergo, we must leave to further the war on terror.

And it's not just Iraq where the US has lost legitimacy, it's throughout the Middle East (except Israel, of course.) US backing is seen as the kiss of death in Lebanon, Gaza, Egypt, etc. Part of that antipathy is historical, and part is more recent blowback from the Iraq War and the broader war on terror.

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Lyrhawn
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I wouldn't say that matter of factly. Many in Palestine still consider the US to be the best hope they have of getting a state, but that's more to do with the fact that we have more power to sway Israel than any other nation on Earth, if for no other reason than without us, Israel wouldn't exist. I think that's why you find by and large Americans aren't targetted by Palestinians terrorists. They want us at the table negotiating for a state.

It used to be that anywhere in the Middle East, if you asked them why they hated Americans the answer would be "Israel." Now it's "Israel and Iraq." I think it's true that those of us who say we wasted good will by ignoring Palestine and attacking Israel were right, but what we have to do now is salvage this situation as best we can, and I think the first way we do that is pour all our resources into creating a stable viable Palestinian state. Compared to what we are trying to do in Iraq it'd be cheaper and easier, and would earn us back a lot of the stature we've lost. After doing that we could probably get more international support in solving Iraq, but I agree, we have to leave it to save it.

But still we can't go far. We still need to position forces nearby to ensure that no wholesale slaughters take place. That'd just be worse. We should be letting Iraq fight this war for itself, and for that to happen, we need to change the ROE on the ground there.

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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
It used to be that anywhere in the Middle East, if you asked them why they hated Americans the answer would be "Israel." Now it's "Israel and Iraq." I think it's true that those of us who say we wasted good will by ignoring Palestine and attacking Israel were right, but what we have to do now is salvage this situation as best we can, and I think the first way we do that is pour all our resources into creating a stable viable Palestinian state. Compared to what we are trying to do in Iraq it'd be cheaper and easier, and would earn us back a lot of the stature we've lost. After doing that we could probably get more international support in solving Iraq, but I agree, we have to leave it to save it.

Lyr, I assume you meant "by ignoring Palestine and attacking Iraq" not "attacking Israel."

True, it is overly simplistic to lump the entire Middle East into one group.

As far as the US helping to create a stable Palestinian state, I agree that's a good goal but I don't see this administration getting behind that at this late date. Maybe after '08. When Palestinians elected Hamas that certainly didn't help garner US support, but I see why they did it. Fatah was just too corrupt to hold on any longer.

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