September 20, 2004

Jaw-Dropping Fare Indeed

Via Sully, this (almost) unbelievable Novak piece:

Whether Bush or Kerry is elected, the president or president-elect will have to sit down immediately with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The military will tell the election winner there are insufficient U.S. forces in Iraq to wage effective war. That leaves three realistic options: Increase overall U.S. military strength to reinforce Iraq, stay with the present strength to continue the war, or get out.

Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush's decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a withdrawal.

Getting out now would not end expensive U.S. reconstruction of Iraq, and certainly would not stop the fighting. Without U.S. troops, the civil war cited as the worst-case outcome by the recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate would be a reality. It would then take a resolute president to stand aside while Iraqis battle it out.

I have grave doubts about the accuracy of Novak's story. I think it might be some Wolfowitz enemies leaking it so that the resulting firestorm forces people in the Beltway to see that Wolfy is radioactive and not confirmable as SecDef. (There are also doubtless people trial-ballooning Condi at the 7th Floor and Steve Hadley succeeding her at the NSC).

I'm also very dubious about Novak's reporting that Bush has pretty much decided he will pull out of Iraq in '05. Still, what makes me think there may be more than a smidgen of truth to it?

This part of Novak's piece (which you need to read in full):

This messy new Iraq is viewed by Bush officials as vastly preferable to Saddam's police state, threatening its neighbors and the West. In private, some officials believe the mistake was not in toppling Saddam but in staying there for nation building after the dictator was deposed.

I can see, just maybe, Bush falling for this line of argument, ie. that evil sonafabitch Saddam is gone--so we are leaving something better in our stead (and Iraq will be hobbled by internal dissension and not able to threaten neighbors like Saudi Arabia and Israel). What the hell--let Allawi sort it out with his new Army--we aren't a stabilizing factor over there anymore anyway.

What a massive, breathtaking and morally defunct abdication of American leadership that would be! I would have to hold my head in deep shame for having supported this Administration's Iraq war. Say it ain't so!?!

Well, I think not. If it were, why would Kerry be attacking Bush on supposedly hiding plans to send reservists to Iraq post-election?

As part of a strategy to sharpen differences with Bush, Kerry told voters that the president refuses to come clean about growing problems in Iraq and a hidden strategy for a post-election deployment. ``He won't tell us what congressional leaders are now saying: that this administration is planning yet another substantial call-up of reservists and Guard units immediately after the election,'' Kerry said. Bush is trying to ``hide it from people through the election, then make the move.''

Doesn't sound like a guy who is going to cut bait, does it? Meanwhile, back in mondo Kerry--it's pretty amateur hour:

The Kerry campaign, realizing that its only hope is to attack Bush for his Iraq policy, is not equipped to make sober evaluations of Iraq. When I asked a Kerry political aide what his candidate would do in Iraq, he could do no better than repeat the old saw that help is on the way from European troops. Kerry's foreign policy advisers know there will be no release from that quarter.

Yeah, Kerry is aiming to get out soonest--that's pretty clear.

But Bush too? If I see convincing evidence that this is true--I'll have to go all Dan Drezner on you and start fence-sitting. Or, more likely, abstain and hope and pray for real leaders with sincerity, honor and courage in '08.

As Powell told Bush--re: the Pottery Barn rule--you break it, you own it. And so we do. Now, and therefore, we damn well owe the Iraqis a real, full-blown effort to forge a viable state there. Let's not B.S. ourselves. If we leave that country (at least within the next 18 months) all hell is going to break loose. We need to guarantee that the Shi'a don't engage in massive score-settling with the Sunnis. That the Kurds and Turks don't get into a major firefight. That internecine warfare doesn't erupt between fundamentalists and more secular-minded Sunnis. And so on. This is generational stuff, people.

And does anyone really believe that a nascent Iraqi Army (probably busily being infiltrated by Iranian agents and radicalized Sunni fanatics as we speak) is going to do the trick? Er, no f'ing way. Bottom line: We need to be there for a while, folks--if we're serious. If we're not serious--well, why the hell did we go in the first place?

Commenters are invited, in particular, to evidence as much as possible why they feel comfortable that Bush will keep a significant troop presence in Iraq well into '06--only then beginning to gradually scale down our presence there. Or, alternately, to tell me the reasons Novak is right...Smart money is still on the former, I'd wager.

Posted by Gregory at September 20, 2004 06:23 PM
Comments

I am wondering why we went in the first place. As a mother with draft age sons, I am unwilling to send them to die in a useless, unending war. The middle east is a tarbaby indeed.

Posted by: la at September 20, 2004 06:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If Bush cuts and runs, I will be ashamed indeed. For my party and for my country.

My assumption has always been that he believes two things fundimentally:

Things will be improved within a few years.

A few years are going to go by anyway, whether we try to improve things or not.

If we leave a failed state behind. We will have created a new Afghanistan. I just can't believe that that is the plan.

Posted by: Moptop at September 20, 2004 07:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I hope that this isn't true but I can't help remembering an interview with Condi Rice in which it was clear that she regarded the overthrow of the Taliban as an end in itself and didn't seem to regard the establishment of a stable Afghanistan as a responsibility of the US. The fact that an invasion of Iraq was carried out in the face of the huge work to be done to put down the roots of a workable Afghanistan, with the diversion of forces and focus which that entailed, speaks to the possibility that the Bushies measure success in their interventions by different markers.

Posted by: gdab at September 20, 2004 07:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Regardless of who wins in November, it is hard for me to imagine either 1) U.S. troops staying in Iraq after an elected Iraqi government asks for their removal, or 2) U.S. troops leaving in Iraq despite an elected Iraqi government's fervent pleas for them to stay. If you can really convince me that my candidate intends to pursue option #2, then I'll change back from pro-Kerry to undecided.

I recall an internet theory a few months ago that the Bush Administration's sensible statements that U.S. troops would not stay in Iraq without Iraq's permission constituted a face-saving plan to cut-and-run before the 2004 election. Well, this didn't happen: the Iraqi interim government is not composed of fools. I suspect the elected interim government will also be sensible, so U.S. troops will stay until Iraqification is succeeding.

Posted by: Arjun at September 20, 2004 07:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There's a reason he was nicknamed "no-facts." Consider the source.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at September 20, 2004 07:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dear God, I hope this isn't true!! It would be a moral and international relations mistake. How dare we abandon the Iraqis AGAIN! And what to you think this would say to terrorists??!! I would be truly ashamed of my President and my country. It would definitely be enough to keep me at home on election day, and might be enough to make me take a good look at voting for Kerry.

Posted by: Beth at September 20, 2004 07:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Very doubtful, IMO. Novak was either being spun or spinning. I think he was pretty adamantly against the operation in the first place.

Posted by: Chris at September 20, 2004 08:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Irony of ironies: this posting makes me feel nervous -- about my candidate! It's very easy to point to the President's daily stay-the-course campaign rhetoric, which refutes Mr. Novak's allegation. As for my candidate, I agree with almost all of his criticisms of the course we're on. However, I haven't really heard anything from his advisors that would guarantee that he wouldn't take what I described above as option #2.

Posted by: Arjun at September 20, 2004 08:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Once Iraqi elections produce a new government, I can see Bush prematurely declaring the new state fit to handle its problems alone and pull out. Then, the ensuing chaos could be blamed on the new government and not on the security vacuum.

I'm not sold that Bush has a real commitment to Middle East democratization; and it would probably make sense for him politically (after his re-election, of course) to end his quixotic mission in Iraq by claiming success and getting the hell out.

Posted by: DudeAbides at September 20, 2004 08:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Of course, I'm not confident Kerry will do any better: there just don't seem to be any good options left in regards to our Iraq policy.

Posted by: DudeAbides at September 20, 2004 08:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This article needs to see a little bit more daylight before we start weeping and gnashing our teeth (though both weeping and gnashing will be justified if the events in the article come to pass).

Unfortunately, my own tepid, qualified support for Bush only survives on what I hear (or, more accurately, don't hear) from Kerry. I just don't think the prudential argument for staying involved has much traction anymore among Bush's advisers, so the best evidence I can offer in support of Bush's intentions to stay in Iraq is his need, as I see it, to be the liberator that he imagined he'd be when the war started. In other words, if we succeed in Iraq, it will be because of Bush's oft-ridiculed messianic zeal, and because he must validate his own belief that U.S. power is intrinsically good and wholesome. That's the only thing that can drown out the cut-and-run arguments at this point, I'm afraid.

That sure sounds like psychobabble, but it's all I've got these days. God, I hope Novak's wrong.

Posted by: Matt at September 20, 2004 09:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Given the lack of planning for the reconstruction in the first place, one could very reasonably assume that the effort to bring democracy was never serious.

Kerry has outlined his plan, but only in broad strokes. But they are critical strokes: restoring credibility and competence to the US mission there are the essential ones.

Outside of the US, nobody on the planet trusts Bush. There used to be a time when Americans wanted their president to be the leader of the free world, instead of its laughingstock.

Posted by: Geek, Esq. at September 20, 2004 09:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

No way.
This is a trial balloon.
If anything, I think Bush is dying to get the election behind him and then let the troops finish the job properly. Then, no more Mosque's as a refuge for the terrorists and house to house combat will be the order of the day.
There are many US troops in Israel right now training in urban fighting against terrorists and I think they are there as the first phase of a new war in Irak. This will be the war to rid the country of foreign terrirists and hold the governments of the countries who are supplying these terrorists responsible.
I think things will change starting Nov 3rd...

Posted by: Andre at September 20, 2004 09:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Given the lack of planning for the reconstruction in the first place..."

What kind of moron believes that a serious effort at planning for what will happen after a war is fought, made before the war is fought, would be anything other than a waste of time and resources?

Can you give an example where such planning took place before a conflict was useful afterwards? Was the aftermath of WWII planned in detail? WWI? The Mexican War? Did Clinton have a great plan for getting us out of Kosavo? Are we out of there yet?

I would really like an honest answer.

Posted by: Moptop at September 20, 2004 10:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My uninformed theory is that some right-wing Iraq war opponents like Robert Novak and Patrick Buchanan are unable to stomach voting for Mr. Kerry, so they cling to rumors that Mr. Bush will miraculously metamorphize into a paleo-conservative after the election.

Posted by: Arjun at September 20, 2004 10:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory, I agree with your take on the Novak scoop. Someone is feeding Novak some bad intell. How could anyone suggest a retreat from Iraq when the Iran nuke matter is perking up?

Frankly, I must have given Bob Novak more credit than he deserves in watching his bull shit meter.

By the way, the Democrats are running an absolute ruse with the hand wringing over Iraq. These people are hyping the Iraq matter, damaging the country (as they did during the Vietnam War) in a vain attempt to win an election.

Posted by: Capt America at September 20, 2004 10:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This comment is a little off-subject.

U.S. Senators from both parties, including two of my favorites, Joseph Biden and John McCain, are wrongly advising the President to "Take Fallujah Now". The Iraqis are not ready to participate in such a mission, and they should participate in such a mission, because it's their country and they are a sovereign nation.

I've praised Senator Biden more times than I can remember, but I'm annoyed at his accusation that the President is irresponsibly delaying necessary military action until after the U.S. election for political reasons. If the military action to retake Fallujah proceeded today, wouldn't some other Democrat claim that the President was rushing into unnecessary military action for political reasons before the U.S. election?

Posted by: Arjun at September 20, 2004 11:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Moptop,

Yes, some degree of detailed and well reasoned post war planning should be a part of all pre-war planning, especially when the likelihood of rapid military success is strong.

World War II and I are not good examples because there was less control for America over the situation, in the case of World War II we were attacked by Japan, and above all, the scope of the conflict was so enormous, that post war planning was a distant exigency. There was, of course, more post war planning as the war began to wind down.

As for Kosovo, the post-war planning may not have succeeded in extricating us from the region, but there has been considerably less violence and unrest and US soldiers are not engaged in regular combat. Certainly some of this is because of the region (not as traditionally hostile to the US as the Middle East), but some is also a result of a decent plan for governance (if not termination of our presence).

As for Iraq, there was an exhaustive compilation of post war planning conducted by all levels of the government. It was entitled the Future of Iraq Project, and it was a collaboration of the efforts of the Army War College, the State Department, the CIA, and other intelligence analysts and policy experts. Greg has mentioned this report on more than one occasion.

This work contained plans for contingencies such as looting, lawlessness, insurgencies, ethnic conflict, etc. It also had sage advice for overall strategy such as counseling against disbanding the Army and conducting low-level de-Baathification.

Unfortunately, Donald Rumsfeld rejected this work in its entirety, even going as far as to request that Garner and his team not read the findings. He also asked Garner not to include an analyst in his coterie because of ties that analyst had to the Future of Iraq Project.

In its stead, Rumsfeld and Cheney's office produced a series of plans that were based upon the premises that there would be no looting, no insurgency, no ethnic conflicts, and that the population would be accomodating and appreciative. Instead of planning for contingencies and problems, they built their strategy around the best case scenario. That is not a good way to plan for an event, such as war, that almost always leads to the worst case scenario.

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 20, 2004 11:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Taking Moptop at his word:

Germany and Japan were enemy nations that had declared war on the United States and were threatening to take over the entire world.

#1 priority and goal: Saving the world from totalitarian expansionists who had declared war on the free world.

If we are to believe Bush, the main goal in Iraq was not the overthrow of Saddam himself, but rather the establishment of a democratic and stable Iraq. Military victory was assured, and was not the major consideration. The free world was going to survive if Saddam remained in power.

#1 priority and goal: Establish a stable and democratic Iraq to reduce global terrorism.

Now, if Japan had descended into anarchy, defeating it would not have been considered counterproductive to US interests, given all considerations.

In Iraq, the post-Saddam era is THE ENTIRE POINT of going in there in the first place was to reduce terrorism and make the US safer.

An Iraq that resembles Afghanistan is more of a threat to the US than Saddam was. Therefore, if the end result is an instable Iraq that is a breeding ground for terrorism, than the entire war effort was not only wasted but ultimately made us less safe.

That's why this immature attitude of not caring about the reconstruction is so deeply unserious and harmful.

Posted by: Geek, Esq. at September 20, 2004 11:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you check-out http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq_orbat.htm you can see the order of battle for OIF-3. That is, the DoD is planning on cycling in a new group of combat units -- a Marine Division, a National Guard Division, the 3rd ID and few independent battalions. That means that they are planning on maintaining essentially the same strength in Iraq (maybe 10,000 fewer troops than now) through until next summer/fall. I think the main question is -- what happens then? It seems unlikely that we can sustain the same level of force indefinitely -- and that we will have to at least reduce the troop level after about Sept 2005. I think the Bush DoD plans on supporting the current troop strength for another year or so, with a hope that things calm down enough, or that the Iraqi army gets strong enough, that we can cut our troop strength.

Posted by: Guido Sandulli at September 20, 2004 11:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It seems to me, based on the excerpts I saw, that Mr. Kerry's speech on Iraq today was pretty good. His four-point plan -- get more help, train Iraqi troops, reconstruct Iraq, hold Iraqi elections -- makes a lot of sense to me.

(It may be objected that Mr. Kerry's plan is not earth-shatteringly different from the President's. Good!)

Posted by: Arjun at September 21, 2004 12:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Geek, where, in your post, is the example of a plan created before a war which then was executed in an effective fashion after the war?

"Military victory was assured, and was not the major consideration."

Really, military victory was just another tick box on an MS Project plan? How convenient for your argument.

Posted by: Moptop at September 21, 2004 01:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

--Now, and therefore, we damn well owe the Iraqis a real, full-blown effort to forge a viable state there. --

We've owed it to them since 1991.

We still owe it to the Vietnamese.

We will never learn.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 21, 2004 01:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So I guess what you are saying then Geek, is that it was known that it would be a "cakewalk?"

One mistake that Bush has acknowledged is that he did not expect Saddam's army to surrender and melt away without taking a lot more of a pounding. It seems like in retrospect, he should have, but hindsight is always pretty good. Judging a leader who has to make decisions based on what he knows at the time based on hindsight is intellectually dishonest.

Posted by: Moptop at September 21, 2004 01:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Count me as doubly skeptical. Given Robert Novak's role in opposing the intervention in Iraq, and in the resulting Plame/ Wilson fracas, I would suspect that the list of "well place sources in the Bush Administration" and the list of Bush Administration officials who are willing to talk to Bob Novak (even on background) is probably mutually exclusive.

Posted by: Sean at September 21, 2004 01:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have to agree with Sean. Novak is toxic to the Bush administration and even the lowliest staffer would give this hack a wide berth.

How many times does Bush need to state the obvious? "We will stay the course in Iraq". Bush says what he means and means what he says. There is no contrary evidence that anything has changed.

Despite Democrats wishful dreams of "black ninjas" and French Legions riding to the rescue we will do the long, hard work to stand up an elected government and security force in Iraq.

How can a few thousand primitive barbarians undermine the effort of the most powerful nation that ever existed on the face of the earth? It can't...unless the people of that nation waver, lose the will to go on and run home like cowards.

Most Democrats, mainstream media and girlie-men have decided that civilization is not worth saving. They seek appeasment with barbarians to avoid war, but will get war regardless. Stiffen the upper lip gentlemen, we are living in interesting times.

Posted by: lugh lampfhota at September 21, 2004 02:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The most likely reason GWB would keep the troops in Iraq post-05 is to minimize bad PR. He doesn't want the last helicopter taking off from the Green Zone on his watch, with Al-Jazeera doing the play-by-play - "look, he only invaded to get re-elected, they're going now, we drove out the evil Zionist-lackey-running-dog-infidel-yadda-yadda-yadda." (Of course, they'll still bitch about our imperialist plot to steal their oil even after we've gone...)

Bush wants to get out because his advisers are telling him the same thing; more troops or this is the way the next 5 years will go. (Numbers approximate) 70000 in Germany and 50000 in SK go in. If we rotate home long-serving units, we're net only up about 20000. Still not enough. And it leaves absolutely no reserve for anything else (like Iran).

The situation depends more on Iraqis than us. If they can get their s*** together (down to 1 car bomb per week) and pull off elections with only a couple hundred deaths and 25% fraud, GWB can use that to claim "OK, NOW the mission is accomplished, congrats, guys, we'll just see ourselves out, don't be a stranger, OK?" If they can get it together, we have enough troops. Without that, we're in Limbo.

Posted by: Tina at September 21, 2004 02:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tina? Tina? Sorry, not buying it.

Posted by: Moptop at September 21, 2004 02:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think we are getting out of Iraq anytime soon. In fact I think a large number of our troops are going to be there for the next 10 years. Look how long we stayed in Europe. Bush would never pull out and I don't even think Kerry will either.

This of course all depends if civil war doesn't break out which is still a real possiblity. The whole country may become three in the end.

Posted by: Lawrence at September 21, 2004 02:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Say it ain't say, Nov.

I don't think it's true. I pray it isn't true. Now Bush seems to be allowing the military to clean out the Sunni Triangle F'ING FINALLY; and, if we left, there would be such a bloodbath there that the US, not to mention the Republicans, would be finished, toast, the laughingstock of the universe. Not to mention that Iran would immediately take over southern Iraq and go nuclear to boot-- why not, what would they have to fear? The UN Security Council?

Perhaps it's time for the right wing to have a More War march? Sign me up.

Posted by: Pj at September 21, 2004 03:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

typical republican- sign up for a more war march- make sure W brings the pom-poms while real patriots do the fighting

Posted by: cutter at September 21, 2004 04:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Personally I think that the State Department, as well as the President, knows that if we cut and run, we'll be damned forever. The only reason we've been pussyfooting around the last few months, is because of the election. Once Bush gets re-elected, (if there is a God), we will be going after the insurgents like there was no tomorrow. No more worrying about anyones "sensibilities". Just flat out, hell bent for leather, our way or 6 feet under, shotgun diplomacy. I imagine the President will really turn the Marines loose, once the election is over. The call up of the National Guard units, will probably consist of mostly Engineers to rebuild some of the neighborhoods we will be flattening.

Posted by: Brad Morgan at September 21, 2004 04:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You have to remember Novak was one of the few voices opposed to going to war in Iraq in the first place, so he is looking for vindication of that view. More troublesome to me is the recent apostasy of Lugar and Hagel. At least McCain coats his pessimism with a "we must knock the hell out of them" solution. Lugar and Hagel seem to offer nothing but carping, which gives aid and comfort to the Kerry campaign. They should have the decency to wait 42 days, at least. (Fortunately, Kerry has totally imploded despite Lugar & Hagel.) No, to answer your question, I do not see Bush pulling out next year, and I think his chief reason will be because his father stupidly allowed Saddam to murder Shia wholesale after the 1991 victory. If the Baath people rise to power again all those who have valiantly cooperated with our coalition will be murdered--George W. will never stand for that, because he assured them it would be different this time and they believed him. Imagine how long loathing for America would persist in Mesopotamia if we allowed this TWICE! From here on it is in the interests of the United States to pay a much higher price than suffered already, if necessary. The die is cast.

Posted by: exguru at September 21, 2004 04:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I believe this rumor was taken from my posting of a couple of days ago.
Your key graf - "We need to guarantee that the Shi'a don't engage in massive score-settling with the Sunnis. That the Kurds and Turks don't get into a major firefight. That internecine warfare doesn't erupt between fundamentalists and more secular-minded Sunnis. And so on. This is generational stuff, people."
Answer this. If we do guarantee a democracy what happens when the Shiites vote themselves a Sharia-based government? Remember that Hiler came to power after a democratic election. We cut and run and there's civil war. We stay and do our "generational" duty and there's civil war. I still maintain the best bet is to kill unmercifully, split the country into 3, keep a base in the eastern desert and let them fight it out for the next generation. Final sobering thought - If the Irish can't peacefully resolve their small issue how do we expect to succeed at nation-building from the ground up in Iraq? I can't put this politely. You are not thinking rationally.

Posted by: Jack at September 21, 2004 05:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jack, you make solid rational sense. However, due to sheer luck you might be wrong.

All parts of iraq benefit from a federal government that doesn't intrude too much on their regions. The kurds need allies against turkey and who else besides iraq and the USA might do that? The sunnis need oil revenue, and how can they get any unless the kuds or shia agree? The shia face the LBJ problem. "Would you rather have them inside the tent pissing out or outside the tent pissing in?" Of course if the sunnis are stupid that turns into "Would you rather have them outside the tent pissing in or inside the tent pissing in?". But everybody has some incentive not to be stupid, whether they can follow that incentive or not.

We have been far too weak to provide security but strong enough to keep anybody else from providing security. Iraqis have had a good look at how bad it can get. Maybe they'll negotiate to prevent a bloodbath. I can't be sure they will, but can anyone be sure they won't?

If some towns and some provinces take up sharia law and let the ones who don't want to live by some secular law, that wouldn't be the end of the world. The USA has Louisiana whose laws are descended from the Napoleonic Code and we live with it OK.

The iraqi forces we keep training keep being unreliable. I suggest: Turn them over to Allawi's chosen general, and when we use them treat them as allies who have to be consulted etc. They might be more loyal if they aren't serving under americans. There's the possibility that Allawi would misuse them. But what other choice do we have? We could wait for an elected prime minister before we hand over the iraqi troops.

There's no possible way we can force a good outcome. But we might luck into a good outcome if we don't forcefully prevent it. I hate to depend on sheer luck for my hope, but it's better than no hope at all.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 21, 2004 07:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Er, I wonder if Kerry sees this as another opportunity to flip-flop and accuse Bush of trying to "cut-and-run", while he takes on a more "hawkish" position in iraq?

Posted by: john marzan at September 21, 2004 09:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This piece had some definite astonishment factors. Plus, Novak's a paladin of the GOP from back in teh day when GOP meant "Lose Gracefully".

As to Jack's comment, we stayed in Germany to provide a quiet veto to any nuttery the Germans might come up with. The German equivalent to our Bill of Rights was the base at Ramstein.

We will probably do the same thing in Iraq which is placed in an excellent position to threaten our enemies.

And in 2006, we're likely to have a peacekeeping mission of Marines land in Tehran to stabilize teh country after teh US assisted rebellion which followed the Israeli bombing of the Mad Mullahs nuke center.

We'll also be messing with the Norks as we continue to do, but probably at a higher intensity. They probably collapse.

As to why this war, why now? There is no choice. We either clean up teh planet, and make our selves safe from WMD's, or we bow the neck to the terrorists. There is no place to hide or run.

But there won't be a draft. We need quality more than quantity. Although, and this is my one disagreement with Rumsfield, we could use a couple more divisions. But the recruiters are turning away volunteers last I heard, so that's not a problem.

Novak is talking crazy talk.

Tadeusz

Posted by: Tadeusz at September 21, 2004 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There used to be a time when Americans wanted their president to be the leader of the free world, instead of its laughingstock.

Posted by: Geek, Esq. at September 20, 2004 09:13 PM | PERMALINK

CLINTON'S SEXCAPADES ALREADY ACHIEVED THIS!

Posted by: Wanda at September 21, 2004 08:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As one commenter said, Nader is on the Florida ballot. As a European and British, this is nothing to do with me, but as Christopher Caldwell argued in the FT (11 Sept), Nader's campaign forces Kerry to adopt a more anti-war line, so as not to lose votes to him. Pure political opportunism ? Of course. I remember James Rubin in a Foreign Affairs a year ago writing that we might have had to go to war, but waiting to autumn (fall), getting wider international backing and a 2nd resolution; and in the buildup to war, arguing in a British TV debate, very much along the lines of leaked British documents (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/09/18/nwar118.xml) "The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programmes, but our tolerance of them post-11 September." (Is Rubin one of the less than adequate prospective 6th floor appointees at State that Greg mentions, I wonder.)
Having said that, if Kerry is elected, he might manage to get a little more European support. He would be able to say : 'I didn't want this mess any more than you did, put now we're in it, it would be a disaster if we didn't sort it out...' It's not much, but it is something.
As for the options now, Arjun (20 Sept 07:35 PM ) is right to say that what Iraqis want is key, but I'm less confident than he that this will allow foreign forces to stay for as long as is needed. If an Iraqi government is truly sovereign and representative, it could ask US troops to leave. The occupation was very unpopular and, rightly or wrongly, many Iraqis see the foreign troops as the problem not the solution.
In the short term, more troops, more activity on the ground, are probably needed. Trying to deal with the terrorists / insurgents from the air is a disaster in PR terms. There was a rumour a few months ago that 3000 more UK troops were to be sent. Nothing came of that, but it may still be under consideration. A hard sell ? Yes.

Posted by: DavidP at September 21, 2004 10:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

2163 http://www.e-texas-holdem.info

texas holdem

Posted by: texas holdem at October 13, 2004 02:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Inasmuch as I tend to be inherently hard-core conservative, altogether traditional and did serve as an officer within the U. S. Navy for no less than 24 years, including 19 collective months in Vietnam, as well, varying rotations which included the Gulf War, for all of same I'd like to think that I am at least partially better qualified than most to lend opinion as to what Bush (II) & Co. have manifested within Iraq......., some, nevertheless, might choose to dismiss my remarks.

When day's end came to close on September 11th, I can assure anyone, especially someone who is not American, that my heart and soul were ruptured beyond measure. Moreover, my rage and desire to annilhilate anything even remotely associated with whomever was responsible for the butcherings - slaughter (not "passing" or "loss", thank you) of over 3,000 innocent souls, to a greater extent those related in any manner who go on "living" could not be adequately measured. My feelings are still no less nor will they ever be.

From a standing U. S. president (Commander-in-Chief) I expect(ed) nothing less than outright violent and genocidal retaliation, without ANY consideration whatsoever toward anything or anyone, period. But, if you are going to create a war, you most certainly must create a full plan, inclusive of exit and make even more certain that your tropps ARE protected in ever pragmatic manner. A Commander-in-Chief must never allow his troops to be exposed in any manner. Johnson and his cabinet exposed U.S. and aligned troops in Viet Nam, thank God Nixon was elected is all I have to say.

What I, as an American and today, a retired O-6 in the Navy have been witness to is without question, perhaps the greatest con game against so many as to beggar description, to the point of making Vietnam pale by comparison.
Within the trappings of the Bush & Co. administration is a collective of the worst example of any Executive Branch cabinet, ever. And, in lieu of the Johnson, Carter and Clinton administrations, two of which I served under, that is saying a great deal.
As a "staunch conservative", I would like to support what Bush and his gang of four have manifested. But, I cannot. I dare to always see the truth. This woeful cabel is nothing more than a group of altogether ignorant, chippy, insolent, arrogant idealogues whose real game is to pretend to go after Islamic terrorism, when, in fact, it really is all about controlling commodity with Dick Cheney so v. well at much of the helm, with that absolute idiot and fraud-liar Condoleeza Rice calling more shots than most would remotely begin to comprehend. The American people and people of other nations have been altogether lied to. That so many Americans still refuse to see the truth is beyond sad.

As a former warrior, I feel most tragically sorry for all the armed force(s) member who have perished, as well, been permanently disabled and injured. To their families and loved ones I extend my highest respects and grieve for their loss, either full or partial. These young and innocent souls are Bush & Co's. greatest violation and time will validate what I am saying. In time, the truth will no longer be able to be played with, just like what Johnson and his administration did in Viet Nam.
As of today, I cannot hold any respect for this failed president who has done nothing for this nation other than drag it back by an immeasurable degree and create more problems than 10 future presidents will ever be able to mend. You are witness to history of the worst kind being made.
I will not lend my precious vote to this president and his wretched cabinet in the upcoming election and I pray that our nation (and free world) will realize surcease from their corrupt persecution.
I hold no desire to ever negotiate with any enemy, nor forgiveness. But if anyone is of the impression that any degree of honesty or truth has ever eminated from 1600 Pennsylvania since George W. Bush has come into power - along with his despicable cabinet, with the utmost deference to you, whoever you are..........., your decency, honesty, integrity and trust have been violated.

Posted by: J.J. Ryan at October 18, 2004 04:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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