October 25, 2004

It's Kerry Endorsement Season!

Wow, it's getting lonely out there! WaPo. TNR. Drezner. Chafetz. Adesnik. Andrew, likely soon?

Oh, and the Nation and the NYT too (which endorsement is more surprising, one wonders?).

Speaking of the NYT, they are, predictably, in mega-anti-Bush-overdrive-mode right now. There was the Ron Suskind piece--all but portraying Bush as a theocratic fanatic on par with UBL--and clearly aimed at terrorizing wavering secular elites in a city or town near you! There was the Gordon series--which methodically, via three meaty installments, hammered in on many of the Administration's screw ups in Iraq. And, today, this staggeringly awful story (that rings so out and out FUBAR and, in many ways, sums up so much of what went awry with the Iraq occupation). When I read it, my first thought was: "criminally negligent." I went to Sullivan's blog and, lo and behold, that was his exact, verbatim take too. Well yeah, it takes your breath away, really.

And yet--war is a complex and hugely difficult business. What might look like the most critical site in all of Iraq to secure must, in the real world, compete with many other sites for attention (not to mention real, live insurgents trying to kill our forces). We must make sure we are not too wont to carp from the sidelines incessantly--whether from the halls of academia or the editorial rooms--about how our policymakers are so hugely incapable of handling basic tasks that we would have handled so much more swimmingly (of which more below).

Put differently, isn't there something a bit too easy about this rash of elite defections by those who supported the Iraq war? Lawrence Kaplan touches on that here. No true, as people like Dan Drezner (perhaps a wee bit self-defensively) note, this isn't a case of hindsight being 20-20. Critics were pointing out, in real time, the missteps of this Administration in Iraq (yes, B.D. included--particularly re: the fact we never had enough troops in theater--despite being mocked for so contending by 'the Rummy is always right' amen corners of the blogosphere). And, as I've often pointed out, a CFR task force report pre-invasion explicitly warned against Jacobin-like de-Baathification writ large and, more important perhaps, a full-scale disbanding of the Iraqi army.

But still, waging a war of this scope is bound to produce myriad unintended consequences. Major ones. When you support such a mammoth endeavour--you need to be prepared for major problems too. The risks of failure, miscalculation, unintended consequences--all are high. So, let's be blunt. Aren't we seeing, with all these 11th hour Bush defections from war supporters, a bit of the old adage that 'victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan'? At least to some degree, no?

Now, going through old archives playing gotcha is a hugely lame game. And I'm certainly not going to engage in it or (heaven forbid) invite someone do the same to me. But how many of us, way back when, were so absolutely sure that major de-Baathification was a lousy idea? That a wholesale disbanding of the Iraqi army was wholly dumb (there are still smart counter-arguments about why disbanding the army was a good idea)? That our rapid initial victory may, in some respects, have proven somewhat 'catastrophic'? That the U.N. HQ would be blown up minimizing (though this is changing, of which more below) a U.N. role post-conflict? That a rash of beheadings and kidnappings would terrify NGOs and hamper reconstruction efforts? And so on.

Worth noting too, I'm far from sure Laura's right when she writes about the Iraq situation that "(t)his is one of those times when changing horses midstream is the only rational thing to do." Especially, as I've extensively detailed, when the alternative horse doesn't appear to care too much about forging a democratic Iraq.

Folks, let's all stop and take a deep breath for a second. Review Kerry's long voting record (his hyper-reticence to use American forces (or even proxies) overseas whether Desert Storm, Bosnia, Central America and so on--save the uber-safe Kosovo vote and disingenuous Iraq position). Think of how his Vietnam stance reveals much about his worldview. Think of wrong war wrong place wrong time. Ask yourself, will he see Iraq through given such rhetoric? Given his voting record over the decades? Given, as best we can espy it, his worldview? Given his snub of 'parrot' Allawi? I could go on. But I think the answer is pretty clear. It's, much more than likely, a no.

Now, of course, people like Drezner and Adesnik are asking: maybe Kerry's a gamble--but at least he's not a proven train wreck. While Adesnik think "accountability", in the main, is the issue that has gotten waverers on board for Kerry--the real core grievance appears to be best reflected, instead, in this Adesnik graf that Drezner approvingly links too:

As a professional researcher, I think I simply find it almost impossible to trust someone whose thought process is apparently so different from my own.

In theory, I am sure that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld all believe in evaluating the relevant data and adjusting their decisions to reflect reality. Thus, when I say that I object to the way that this administration makes decisions, I am saying that I do not believe that it has lived up to the intellectual standard it presumably accepts. [emphasis added]

Let's put all this in plainer English, OK? What Dan and David are saying, I think, is: When this Bush team effs up (and they have effed up a lot), are they able to (on a bare-bones constitutive level, say): a) even recognize they have effed up and b) then move to redress the eff up?

For David and Dan (and likely Andrew Sullivan too) the answer to both "a" and "b" above appears to be no. I, contra them, think the answer is yes and yes to both (Abu Ghraib, admitedly and importantly, aside).

The greatest misstep of the Iraq war, of course, was that we never had enough troops in theater. But as even the Michael Gordon NYT series points out:

According to United States officials, Mr. Bremer raised the troop issue in a June 18 video conference with Mr. Bush. Mr. Bremer said the United States needed to be careful not to go too far in taking out troops. The president said the plan was now to rotate forces, not withdraw them, and agreed that Washington needed to maintain adequate force levels.

Still the American forces shrank, from a high of about 150,000 in July 2003 to some 108,000 in February 2004, before going up again when violence sharply increased early this year. Some of the troop declines were offset by the arrival of the Polish-led division in August 2003.

General Franks said he had sought to assure Mr. Bremer that he would have enough troops in late May. While Mr. Bremer argued that he could not get Iraq's economy going until the American military made the country safer, General Franks asserted that the slow pace of reconstruction was undermining security. [emphasis added]

A few quick points here. One, note that Bremer ulimately did get an increase from the 108,000 February low. Note too, of course, that the time for a mammoth 350,000 thousand influx of troops was likely at the beginning of the occupation. Real 'shock and awe' (read: boots on every corner) showing Iraqis that America was going to guarantee their security and stability would have been most effective then.

Later, (ie, now) a massive influx of troops could send the wrong message about U.S. intentions in the region--perhaps that we aim to have a permanent Mesopotamian garrison, for instance. Therefore, in my view, we need to focus like a laser on a serious 3-5 year 'train and equip' effort of nascent Iraqi forces--while calibrating our force posture to meet the needs posed by the insurgency, the need to secure the country, the requirements of reconstruction.

That number could yet increase, of course. But does anyone believe Kerry is more likely to increase our troop posture in Iraq than Bush? Or really 'train and equip' better (someone smart on T.V., if there are any anchors so capable, needs to dig in the weeds with a Susan Rice about how, precisely, a Kerry team will train and equip Iraqi forces better than currently underway).

Would the party of Howard Dean go for this? Would John 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time' Kerry authorize the deployment of an extra 50,000 GIs to Iraq (recall, he explicitly mentioned that any increases to the size of our military did not entail increases to our force posture in Iraq). Bottom line: the most critical mistake of the Iraq war, namely that we never had enough forces in theater, is more likely to be effectively redressed by Bush than Kerry.

Another point. Note the fascinating snippet from Gordon's piece re: the Bremer-Franks contretemps (the latter saying slow reconstruction efforts was hampering security, the former saying the opposite). My view, of course, is that Bremer had it right. Security needs to be established first--it is the 'critical enabler' to all that must follow (reconstruction, democratization, etc etc). But here's my point: Bush has empowered John Negroponte to move funds from reconstruction to security. He's doing, to put it differently, what David and Dan think he is unable to do, namely: a) recognizing an eff up and then b) redressing said eff up.

Money quote from a Richard Armitage press conference:

Since the U.S. Embassy opened in Baghdad on June 28, our officials have worked side by side with Iraqis and Coalition forces, to implement this strategic approach. In the past 12 weeks, disbursements of U.S. assistance from the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) have reached $1.217 billion. During this same period, Ambassador Negroponte conducted a comprehensive six-week review of spending priorities under the IRRF to ensure that our spending is directly keyed to our objectives. The Ambassador consulted with his entire Country Team, including Multinational Force-I Commander, General Casey, as well as with the Iraqi Interim Government. The adjustments that I will now outline are based on the recommendations of Ambassador Negroponte's review.

We propose shifting a total of $3.46 billion from sector allocations outlined in the July 5, 2004 Section 2207 report into six key, high-impact areas:

$1.8 billion more for Security and Law enforcement... [emphasis added]

You might scoff that USD2B is de minimis, of course. But, for starter's, note a) it's not an insignificant amount, and, further, it showcases that b) Bush understands that reconstruction cannot proceed, willy-nilly in utopic fashion, without security and c) that he is capable of shifting course to redress such eff ups.

Another example? Drezner pointed to a lack of adequate supplies to prosecute the Iraq war effort. Yep, smells FUBAR, all right. But, in the very article Dan links, we read:

The lack of key spare parts for gear vital to combat operations, such as tanks and helicopters, was causing problems so severe, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez wrote in a letter to top Army officials, that "I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with rates this low."

Senior Army officials said that most of Sanchez's concerns have been addressed in recent months but that they continue to keep a close eye on the problems he identified. The situation is "substantially better" now, said Gary Motsek, deputy director of operations for the Army Materiel Command...

...Lt. Gen. Claude V. Christianson, the senior logistics officer on the Army staff at the Pentagon, said the readiness problems in Iraq peaked last fall but largely have been addressed. He said they were caused by a combination of problems in the supply pipeline and an unexpectedly high pace of combat operations as the Iraqi insurgency flared last year. [emphasis added]

Why, you ask, didn't we have enough spare parts and gear to begin with? Rummy, again? Piss poor planning? No proper preparation? Oh, doubtless such too rosy assumptions played a hand. Or Rummy's cocksure arrogance and hubris. But, as the WaPo article points out, so did things like this:

All of a sudden, at the end of July [2003], the insurgency started to do that IED business all over Iraq," he noted, using the acronym for "improvised explosive device," the military's term for roadside bombs. In response, the pace, or "operating tempo," for U.S. troops jumped, causing them to use their tanks and other armored vehicles at much higher rates than had been expected.

"The tanks are operating at 3,000 to 4,000 miles a year," Christianson said, which he noted is about five times the rate they are driven while being used for training at their home bases. The readiness rate for M-1 Abrams tanks fell to 78 percent last October, he said, compared with an Army standard of 90 percent. Because of the intensity of recent operations, said Motsek of the Army Materiel Command, the readiness rate for the tanks recently dropped from 95 percent to 83 percent.

Readiness rates also generally dipped last spring when insurgents destroyed seven bridges along the main supply route from Kuwait to Baghdad, Christianson said. In some cases, he said, supplies were cut off for "several days."

But he said the supply situation has improved since then, even as the pace of U.S. combat operations has remained intense. The waiting period for critical spare parts in Iraq is now about 24 days, about half of what it was when Sanchez wrote his letter, Christianson said. [emphasis added]

Did Dan and David know that we would face a scourge of IED attacks? Probably not. Did I? No. Should Pentagon planners have war-gamed that out when thinking of their supply/gear requirements? Probably more than was done--but who knows, really? This is a tricky business--but the point here, again is: a) the eff up was noted and kicked up the chain of command and then, b) redressed.

I could go on, of course. Everyone loves to yelp on about Fallujah. We were either a) dumb not to have razed the town to the ground (Kerry would have been tougher!) or b) dumb if we had razed the town (international opinion re: an American Jenin!). No one, it seems, stops to ponder whether a) it was smart to stop when we did (get adequate troops positioned), b) whilst wearing Zarqawi down with air attacks, to c) make a final push later in a manner that might minimize civilian casualties given more time to plan the operation and wear down hard-core insurgents. (Or not--but let's question ourselves a little bit, OK--keeping in mind that policymakers are making decisions in real time, on the ground, with real lives at stake).

Regardlesss, the point, again, is merely to showcase that Bush has shown flexibility in his war tactics. He did so with Sadr (successfully, so far). He did so in Fallujah. He's adjusted forces levels up and down via rotation schedules and the like. He's tried to remedy supply chain issues and getting enough body armor and gear to theater. He make midcourse changes too by bringing in Brahimi to help with electoral modalities. He did so by bumping Garner for Bremer and than expediting Bremer's exit. Some of these changes were forced by events. Some were thought through. Some make sense. Some might prove to have been ill advised. But, again, Bush is not some raging Messiah who believes he possesses the Truth--facts be damned! (There's some pragmatic Harvard MBA in all that born-again evangelicalism!)

Folks, I'm not trying to be a Bush apologist. Regular readers know that I've been hugely angered by some of this Administration's actions. There have been massive mistakes committed (most notably, the assumption that Iraq would be a cakewalk--where are you now Ken Adleman?-helping contribute to the troop lite issue). I've called for Don Rumsfeld's resignation, in this blog, over Abu Ghraib.

But my point here today is to query: a) don't these 11th hour Bush defections (from war supporters like Dan, Josh, and David) feel a bit too easy somehow?; b) is Bush truly incapable, per David, of adjusting his decision-making process to reflect reality in a manner that is, at least arguably, competent?; and c) has Bush's Iraq effort really proven that awful all told?

On this last, go read Chrenkoff (whom I've jokingly referred to as Pangloss!). There's meat in his regular dispatches--true blue good news. It's not all doom and gloom in Iraq. Really. And, if you think he's too rosy-colored, go read Jim Hoagland too.

Money quote:

The big but underreported news on the U.N. front is that efforts by employee unions and some senior U.N. officials to get the world body to pull out of or delay the January elections have been rejected by Secretary General Kofi Annan and his tough-minded elections director, Carina Perelli.

Perelli told me last week that she saw no technical reasons for January elections to be delayed. About 600 registration centers -- including one in Fallujah -- are scheduled to open this week in Iraq.

Cold Warriors such as George Kennan and Paul Nitze, who died last week at age 97, knew how to turn such small events into the stuff of strategy. But the nation's current strategic impatience makes that approach much more difficult.

Ancient Greeks would have seen the timing of Nitze's death as a message from Olympus. If a nation allows speed, superficiality and a quest for novelty to dominate the way it thinks about serious problems such as Iraq and Islamic terrorism, the gods will conclude that country no longer has need of thinkers like Nitze.

We are engaged in an effort in Iraq that will likely prove generational in duration and is of the utmost strategic import. There is far too much easy grousing from the sidelines and wails of despair from those who might demand instant gratification and success. To be sure, massive blunders have occurred in Iraq. But real adjustments in course, contra popular belief, have been undertaken to address them.

Reality check, including for those snidely inhabiting their so-called 'reality based communities' (showcasing a good amount of lock-step group-think in the process)--the U.N.'s top official in charge of Iraq elections sees no reason for delaying Iraq elections. Nor does Kofi Annan--whom is working the issue in conjuction with the (big, bad unilateral) United States.

Now, you can be sure, may of the 600 voter registration centers Hoagland mentions are about to become even more temping targets than Iraqi police recruitment centers for varied insurgents and/or terrorists. Have we planned for that? Will the stations be adequately protected? Or will dozens be destroyed? If so, will the elections perhaps be scuttled? Rendered illegitimate? Or, instead, will we eke out an Afghanistan scenario, if more violent, but in toto nevertheless a giant step forward for Iraq in its voyage towards a democratic future.

We don't know, really, none of us. But we do know Bush is trying, hard. And that he is capable of acknowledging errors and adjusting his policies. Will Kerry try as hard in Iraq? I doubt it. Given that judgment (it's my view, fell free to disagree and tell me why I'm wrong about Kerry), and given my further judgments that a) Bush is not some raging messianic figure wholly divorced from reality and b) he therefore can make cogent, strategic adjustments--I think Bush, at least if your main issue is Iraq and the GWOT, is your "better bet". Contra the WaPo. And, yes, contra good people like Dan Drezner, David Adesnik and Josh Chafetz.

Posted by Gregory at October 25, 2004 12:09 PM
Comments

Get the "good people" to explain to you how they can vote for a pathological liar. I presume you have read the Washington Times story this morning about Kerry's fabricated story of a full-dress meeting with the entire UN security council. Like Christmas in Cambodia, it never happened. Can any serious person really be willng to trust the safety of this nation, and, indeed, the civilized world, to a man who is obviously delusional. Yesterday, John Kerry guaranteed that if he is elected president, America will be safe--no doubt about it. This man is not functioning in the real world. Please let's not agonize over this just to be polite. There is too much at stake.

Posted by: ricksamerican at October 25, 2004 03:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Btw, Congratulations!

Posted by: ricksamerican at October 25, 2004 03:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As usual, the best blog dealing with these issues. I'd like to make a few observations at random:

1) Bush does not deserve re-election due to the level of incompetence he has demonstrated since the "mission accomplished" photo-op.

2) That said, the more overwhelming level of incompetence of the Democratic Party's nomination process requires a vote for Bush -- had they been able to nominate any plausible candidate I would have voted for him. But I cannot vote for a spineless fabulist that denounces our friends and consoles our enemies.

3) Bush is chided for too rigorous de-Baathification -- how would we have gotten Sistani on our side if we had not dismantled the Sunni military structure.

4) What rational postwar planner could have forseen over 125 suicide bombers, a rate continuing even after Saddam was captured. No amount of troops would be able to address this tactic completely, in fact more troops would be blamed for outraging the locals and providing more targets.

5) Twenty years from now, what will the definition for success in this war be. The State of Mississippi in 1930, more than 50 years after the Civil War, was not an acceptable example of democracy. Neither was Mexico under the PRI. Both models would be a vast improvement on Saddam's regime.

Again, truely appreciate your blog.

Posted by: wayneseib at October 26, 2004 09:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I would find it much easier to criticize Bush if his detractors didnīt go on and on about the same points without ever questioning themselves. Take for example the claim that it was a mistake to disband the Iraqi army. Why? The practical problems of this option are rarely discussed (a failure of the imagination perhaps?). Somewhere I read that the army was the "last respected institution in Iraq." I donīt care which Iraqi ex-general said it, I donīt buy it. An army that didnīt have boots and food for their recruits even in 1991? This was a conscription army in a ruthless dictatorship, not a Band of Brothers - except the elite units which were ideologically and tribally loyal and whose main job it was to keep the rest from defecting. Are you sure there were no divisions between officers and (bare-)footsoldiers? To keep the Iraqi army intact, you would have to let them shoot defectors. That would do wonders to unite Iraq.

You needed new commanders, a new structure and mission, new training, but apart from that we could have used the Iraqi army. Iīm sure there were true professionals, many of them sunni baathists. We know that the new security forces are infiltrated - big problem. The old army could well have been worse. How do you vet about four hundred thousand troops within a few weeks or even months? How do you know what some of them are up to? The idea that the US could somehow control them is implausible, especially in 2003. And finding the army in place as a power center could have created problems for the new civilian government. Much better to develop new forces and a civilian government together over time.

Maybe more could have been done about the soldiers returning home - more job-creation measures at an earlier time. But at the required scale, this is probably easier said than done, or you might as well disperse money by dropping it from helicopters. It doesnīt matter anyway because repeating like a mantra that Iraq is a „mess“ or a „clusterf****“ is enough for most people.

Posted by: werner at October 26, 2004 10:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Andrew Sullivan takes the plunge for Kerry:

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?pt=qFFINfAm4eR7PMnY1tkQ2m%3D%3D

Finally.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 26, 2004 11:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I stopped reading right after FUBAR. I don't think you have any basis for assuming NYT and CBS have any inclination to print the truth. This "explosive" story is beginning to fall appart.

Posted by: Ramrod at October 27, 2004 04:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have long thought that Drezner, Chafetz and a few other are overeducated future dwellers of ivory towers. And very conscious of the record they are building. This is what we can expect from them in the next few years:

1) Bush wins, does ok despite inevitable setbacks: "Itīs still a mess. Should have listened to me. "

2) Bush wins, everything goes to hell: "Heīs blowing it. I told you so!"

3) Kerry wins, does ok despite inevitable setbacks: "Bumps on the road are to be expected, but Kerry is doing fine. Ainīt I smart?"

4) Kerry wins, everything goes to hell: "Things are not that bad. Never had a chance from the start. Bushīs legacy. Without hindsight, it was a tough choice in 2004. Sue me."

Of course, it works the other way round, but probably not among their peers.

Posted by: werner at October 27, 2004 08:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think it's interesting that Mr. Djerejian, having had real life experience in the dreaded 'nation building', is cutting the Bush administration a little more slack than the professional researchers. Or at least realizing how difficult a project like this is.

Ok, that was an incredibly cheap shot on my part, and I feel slightly, sort of, bad about making it. Chafetz, Drezner et al may yet be correct.

I am still voting for Bush as one who gets the big picture. I'm not gonna freak or cry or anything if he loses though. I'll just look forward to the changing news coverage. That's a bright spot.

Posted by: MD at October 27, 2004 07:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm not a professional journalist or a political scientist or a Rhodes Scholar. But I have been following politics for years, and I think I know a little bit about the American political system. So, based on my concededly narrow experience, I have one question for Dan and Dave and Josh and Andrew and the rest of the Chickenhawks for Kerry: Are you guys high?!

One reason I supported this whole push into Iraq is because I was persuaded that it was a good idea from the likes of Dan and Dave and Josh and Andrew. Indeed, without Andrew Sullivan's daily exhortations, I don't know if my skepticism over invading Iraq would have shaken. Now -- after 1000 GIs have died (including a friend of mine), thousands and thousands more Iraqis are dead, Saddam is in jail, the Iraqi weapons programs are gone for good, and Americans are systematically isolating and killing jihadists in a shrinking triangle -- now's the time to turn this whole business over to a man who (with the exception of the Kosavar air war) has never, ever, ever supported the use of American guns to advance American foreign policy? I'm sorry, but after persuading me to support the Iraq war, these blogging hawks want me to join their big gamble and bet on a Kerry presidency?

No. That's not what I signed up for.

You Kerry hawks who supported the Iraq invasion have all have embraced Andrew Sullivan's argument that Bush isn't deserving of a second term because he's incompetent. You know what? That's bullshit. B.D., I think, has clearly refuted your underlying premise; Bush has demonstrably learned from his mistakes and adjusted his approach to deal with the facts on the ground. Sure Bush has made some mistakes in Iraq. A lot. And he'll make more over there -- because he won't cut and run. As long as we fight, we'll make mistakes. But we won't win if we don't fight. And all of the evidence screams that KERRY WON'T FIGHT!

I have a theory why you Chickenawks for Kerry are dumping Bush at the last minute: Seeing as how you guys live and work in Hyde Park and in Provincetown and Oxford, it took a lot of guts for you to not only support Bush on Iraq, but to actually take up the pipes and help lead folks like me on the march to war. I bet your leftwing friends and colleagues were beside themselves. You put a lot on the line supporting this war. But now that things have gotten hard and ugly in Iraq, you're embarrassed. You won't concede that it was a mistake to invade. How could you? In your own way, you helped make it happen. So you'll do the next best thing: The policy was right, you argue, but George Bush screwed it up. Bush MUST be incompetent, 'cause invading Iraq was a neat idea, and how could such a good idea turn out so messy?

Yep, you stuck your necks out, Chickenhawks for Kerry, but you won't tell your anti-war friends that they were right about Iraq. Instead, you've concocted this competence straw man. But guess what? Your liberal friends don't care. When Bush listened to you and went forward with the invasion, your friends started to pray that the war would get messy and hurt the President. (I know this. My own liberal friends did precisely this and proudly told me so.) Your friends knew that trouble in Iraq equaled trouble at home for Bush, and they accordingly prayed for trouble. For them, after all, this whole war has been about nothing but getting that man Bush out of the White House. Your friends don't care if you were right or wrong about this war in 2003; hell, they don't care if the Taliban takes over Baghdad in 2005. All they care about is bouncing Bush. And here's the funny part: You're helping them do it.

You've really cornered yourself, Chickenhawks for Kerry. If Kerry wins and starts his withdrawal from Iraq, you'll sputter and shake, but you'll know the writing was on the wall and you chose to ignore it. You'll crap out. If Kerry stays the course in Iraq, you'll have won your bet. Too bad you'll be the only people who voted for Kerry who still support him. If Bush wins...well, who'll listen to what you think?

Posted by: D.J. at October 28, 2004 02:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm still waiting to hear, from anyone, why dismantling the Iraqi Army was a bad idea.

As others pointed out here, we're having big problems with bad guy infiltration of the new forces. What kinds of problems would we have had with forces whose entire command structure was set up by the other team? Do you really think Saddam's Sunni / Baathist / Tikriti officers would ahve loved us just because we saved them from unemployment by not firing them once we conquered their country and removed "their people" from their priviledged place in Iraqi society?

Was it Machiavelli who said "never do your enemy a small injury"? How would that action NOT have violated that dictum?

Or do you think we should ahve left Saddam's power elite in charge of Iraq?

Unless we want to invade every dictatorship on the planet, the only way we're going to win the war on terror is to make them fear us. Destroying the whole elite of a country we have to fight is the best way to do that.

If you just remove the dictator, people around him have no incentive to push him to compromise, or to kill him if he won't.

If, however, you make it clear that they, and their families, will also be hurt by a US attack, you make it much more likely that they're do something about it, and then we won't have to attack.

Screw the CFR. I don't want stability. I don't want "easy", but pointless, victories. I want the US to win. And that means destroying our enemies, however long it takes.

Posted by: Greg D at October 28, 2004 09:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Please now add the Economist editorial board to the hit list in my over-long post above. I'm simply outraged that that publication, along with Andrew Sullivan and Dan Drezner and the rest, helped convince me that the Iraq war was a good idea -- and now they're risking the jettisoning of the whole project just because they don't have the patience or the stones to see the fight through and have been shamed by their accomodationist friends on the Left.

Posted by: D.J. at October 29, 2004 01:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

D.J. - The quality of analysis and writing at The Economist has become very uneven. For about 5 years, I had a feeling sometimes that they are turning into the Guardian for Businessmen. Iīm exaggerating, but I have been a reader since 1991 and I spend barely 15 minutes on each issue now. When the Books section, twice in a month, mentions "Dispatches" by Michael Herr as the ultimate book on Vietnam, something is wrong.

Posted by: werner at October 29, 2004 03:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Werner,

I agree with you. I'm a disgruntled Economist subscriber. I've been a subsciber for 12 years. Used to read the issues religiously. Now I don't read any of it. Just browse it. Can't remember the last time it told me anything interesting. I've all but decided to cancel my subscription.

Posted by: Disgruntled at November 1, 2004 05:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This president is an abomination and has to go .
Go here to see 100 facts why he is unfit for command.
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041108&s=facts

The last straw for me was when it was reported that the Bush re-election campaign had written Alawi's speech before congress proving he is exactly the puppet critics have claimed he is.

Also Bush proved his unfitness for command on 9/11 when he not only sat reading a childrens book stunned while his country was under attack and every minute was crucial. He then like a coward instead of heading for the oval office and giving a speech reassuring the nation he was NOT afraid of a bunch of rag tag terrorists he hides out on a military base and has a nervous breakdown while his handlers put out a smokescreen false story about AF1 being under attack.. The lies and corruption and the religious zealots who comprise the core of this regime have damaged this nation and they have to be removed from office at all costs.

Posted by: John Peters at November 2, 2004 11:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In your NYT article you've expressed your disappointment about Kerry's "disgraceful" handling of Allawi's visit - and denigrating Allawi as a "Puppet".

The fact that he is a puppet is hardly disputed by any self-respecting individual. What is well known is that Allawi is a thug, and has always been one - for those who know him, a CIA-sponsored hoodlum for many years. And now he's running the show for his masters in Iraq. What do your call that?

Don

Posted by: Don Romero at November 2, 2004 04:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Law of Continuity:
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