February 01, 2005

Philly's Enfant Terrible Espies an Elephant

The elephant in the living room is of course the high probability that even if things work out wonderfully, and the security situation improves, the Bushies still intend to maintain a significant permanent presence in Iraq. Is that true? I don't know. But it's time for somebody to start asking.

Duncan Black, clumsily and transparently moving goalposts, all the while displaying an ignorance that truly impresses (policy planners are bent over backwards trying to figure out an exit strategy--Duncan Black decides it's time someone start pondering whether we are plotting a "significant permanent presence" in Mesopotamia). And, easily impressionable, he approvingly links a blogger advocating a pre-determined timeframe for withdrawal. The better to signal to our foes how long to wait us out--and thereby very misguidedly suggesting that such a course will prevent insurgents from declaring victory because we 'chose' the timing of the (premature) exit.

This is why so many center-left Democrats simply can't be trusted with the apparatus of national security policy making. They just don't get it. A telegraphed exit is stupid policy, of course. And does anyone seriously believe we are going to scuttle our wider war aims in the conflict against radical Islam--by leaving sizable bases in Iraq after they are no longer needed (handing a propaganda victory to jihadists and conspiracy mongers through the region)? The reality, of course, is that forces will be needed there for a good while yet. But, if we are lucky enough to stabilize Iraq as a unitary, democratic polity--I have no doubt the vast majority of our forces will leave and that we won't leave permanent garrisons behind. Black is merely, and very amateurishly and obviously, setting up his next line of attack (neo-colonialist aggression! perma-bases dude!) because he can't rant on quite as much about some Tet on the Tigris after yesterday's setback to the insurgents. Sad.

P.S. Memo (second) to Duncan: The "elephant in the living room is of course" the hugely significant election that just took place in Iraq--as every serious observer realizes in spades. Sorry, because we try to pretend we're high-brow over here, and keep the snark on the down-low, but again: Get. Head. Out. Of. Ass. Fast. Cuz you're making a fool out of yourself pal.

Posted by Gregory at February 1, 2005 06:05 AM | TrackBack (11)
Comments

clumsily and transparently moving goalposts

That's a funny comment to spring from the mouth of a Bush-backer. Remind me why we're in Iraq again. Is it to take dismantle Hussein's WMD program? Or is it to punish him for his role in 9/11? Or his close ties to Al Qaeda? Or to make sure that Freedom Is On the March ? Or is to free the Iraqis from a brutal rular (NB: IIRC, somewhere respectable reported that some Americans in Iraq refer to Allawi as Saddam-Lite).

Pick any three, and let me know.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim at February 1, 2005 07:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you want to know Bush's reason's for liberating Iraq and toppling an enemy of America, just re-read his 2003 State of the Union address. It's all right there. Not a huge secret.

As I remember, SomeCallMeTim, somewhere respectable some 60 million plus American's referred to Democrats as unfit for office. If the politics of failure, retreat and isolationism of Democrats were acceptable to the American people, the man that said he delivered arms to America's enemies in Vietnam last Sunday on "Meet The Press" would be in office and the Iraqi elections would never have happened.

While the Blacks of the world run around and call people "Wankers" to develop cred with the cool kids, the adults in the room supporting and spreading freedom. Cheer up though, Howard Dean will become head of the DNC, YYYEEEAAARRGGGH!

Posted by: soy_bomb at February 1, 2005 01:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Pick any three, and let me know."

All of the above, and more besides.

Greg, I just assumed we would keep bases in Iraq like we did in Germany and S Korea, and for basically the same reason: to keep an eye on a dangerous region. No?

Posted by: Yehudit at February 1, 2005 01:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

why we're in iraq, somecallmetim:

1) to eliminate WMD capabilities and any stockpiles.

2) Remove the saddam threat

3) bring freedom to iraq

4) reform the mideast

Posted by: john marzan at February 1, 2005 02:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

5) eliminate a base of terrorism

6) put pressure on neighboring tyrants to back off and reform

7) put teeth behind UN resolutions whether the UN wants to or not

Posted by: Bolie Williams IV at February 1, 2005 02:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'Remind me why we're in Iraq again'

Only the blind, want-to-know-nothing lefties are simple-minded enough to ignore all of Bush's pre-war statements, and many of his speeches, could make an idiotic statement like that.

This is why nobody takes your side seriously anymore.

Posted by: people call me tim sometimes too at February 1, 2005 03:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, because we try to pretend we're high-brow over here, and keep the snark on the down-low, but again: Get. Head. Out. Of. Ass. Fast. Cuz you're making a fool out of yourself pal.---

Someone has to at least pretend to take the 'high-road',I guess,but it is so hard when dealing with tendentious and malicious simpletons.
Thank you for at least trying so the rest of us don't have to ---- LOL

Posted by: dougf at February 1, 2005 03:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think that there needs to be some sensible strategic reality in the Iraq exit discussions. The real keys are progress and time. No one wants to remain there any longer than necessary- but the goal is not tactical; therefore, "necessary" is likely to be a bit longer than a lot of us wish were the case in our utopian dreams.

Responding to the phrase: "by leaving sizable bases in Iraq after they are no longer needed"- what is the definition of "needed"?

We went into Iraq, in reality (as George Friedman noted in "America's Secret War"), not because of imminent WMD concerns (as Bush pointed out over and over again from the beginning- WMD was the UN focus), but because it is the single most strategic country in the most problematic part of the Middle East. It is right in the middle of the bubbling cauldron that has Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia as the troubled periphery, and Jordan and Turkey as the other two neighbors. In other words, all the troublemakers are right there within arms' reach.

Thus "needed" is not going to be- by consensus of the Iraqi government AND the US- when that government APPEARS to the NYT and Howard Dean to be stable, but when it really IS stable- which can only occur when at least two of the primary remaining troublemakers are neutralized.

That means when Iran is opened up, Syria has become "Libyanized" by whatever means are necessary, and the Saudis have pulled their heads out of the sand and recognized that their stability requires ending the pact with the Wahhabi radicals to keep the public "quiet". (some "quiet")

If you think about it, those really are the conditions that permit Iraq to be stable and progress.

But the military presence won't look anything like it does now- instead, there will most likely be division-sized tripwires, a la the Korean DMZ, on the Western and Iranian borders, far away from the cities and very discreet, like the German bases have been for 60 years. Those numbers run in the range of 30,000 troops or so, which roughly matches the best guesses of the likely increased size of the Army.

Posted by: Duane at February 1, 2005 03:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Duane, the reason why the discussion of an "exit strategy" is so ridiculous is because the factors involved are out of our control.

We can think about leaving when the insurgency is reduced in effectiveness that the Iraqi army and police forces can take over. We're working on this as fast as we can, but this cannot be plotted on a calendar.

We can also think about leaving when the Iraqi government asks us to leave. That seems so obvious as to not be worth mentioning. They're in charge, it's their country. If they asked us to leave today, I suspect we would, even though we know that would leave them vulnerable to attack. Fortunately, they know it as well.

And the worst thing we could do to our cause is telegraph a date we're leaving. That gives the insurgents something to focus on ("just hang on until July 1 and then we'll strike"). But if we're resolute, if we say "we're not leaving until this government is capable of maintaining security without falling into another dictatorship, until the people of Iraq want us to leave," we will succeed.

If the Democrats really wanted to set themselves up as an opposition party worth admiring, they would be willing to back the goal of instilling a democratically elected government in Iraq as fast and efficiently as possible. They'd ask the hard questions about the failures to do so, and offer advice on making it work faster and better.

Posted by: Bill Peschel at February 1, 2005 03:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Den Beste's Strategic Overview is still highly relevant.

Posted by: sammler at February 1, 2005 04:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

FOUAD:

"We got used to seeing them [Iraqis] in a foul mood. We didn't see enough gratitude on the ground in Iraq."

Americans do not have a crystal ball that allows them to see into the hearts and minds of Iraqis.

THE NEGATIVE IMAGES WE GOT WERE SOLELY DUE TO THE MSM's BIAS AGAINST BUSH AND AGAINST AMEIRCA.

Bush's vision of Iraqis was and remains less cynical that of the MSM: he believes that Iraqis are like you and me: they want personal autonomy and a government that permits as much of it as possible.

It is the universalist attitude that enables Bush - and war-supporters like me - to have confidence in the ultimate outcome of the march of democracy and liberty, on elections, and the GWOT.

Democracy is still the most revolutionary and powerful and liberating idea in all of human history. What we are seeing in Iraq - BECAUSE OF BUSH'S CONFIDENCE IN HUMANITY - is a REVOLUTION!!

Those who oppose it are merely counter-revolutionaries.

I support Bush and the war against totalitariansim in all it's forms: Marxist/Baathist/neojihadist.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Posted by: reliapundit at February 1, 2005 04:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"SomeCallMeTim" and other moronic lefties exemplify why the American people know the Left is absolutely untrustworthy on national security issues.

Besides which, it doesn't take much reading of Atrios, Kos, DU and other such cesspools to come to the realization these folks aren't exactly patriots, assuming that wanting your nation to win its wars is one significant test of patriotism (I concede the Left would aggressively debate this assumption).

Posted by: Tim at February 1, 2005 04:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Speaking about taking one's head out of one's ass, all you commenters that are talking about WMDs need to see the LA Times article on how the CIA has released a report saying, yeah, there was no chemical weapons program in Iraq since 1991.

CIA corrects its assessment

If you want to go down John and Bolie's list, that kills number 1.

2) Remove the saddam threat - What threat? Militarily he couldn't invade any country, let alone take on the United States.

3) bring freedom to iraq - and maintain it for $80-100 billion a year and 100 American deaths a month for how many years?

4) reform the mideast - yeah, that's going to happen. Hey Saudi Arabia? We need you to hold democratic elections or YOU'RE NEXT baby.

5) eliminate a base of terrorism - despite the fact that Saddam sponsored no terrorist groups in Iraq

6) put pressure on neighboring tyrants to back off and reform - like Russia, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Syria? tell me how that all works out.

7) put teeth behind UN resolutions whether the UN wants to or not - because being the number one superpower means you never have to say you're sorry when your justifictions all turn out wrong.

Now I will wait for all the witty comments about "moronic lefties" and "MSM bias" and "freedom on the march..."

Posted by: J. at February 1, 2005 05:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is a bit much, Greg. I don't agree with Atrios on much about foreign policy, but you could be charitable enough to admit that there have been a lot of conflicting signals sent.

And I also wonder: why do you hate the noted leftists Eli Lake and George Friedman, among others?

Posted by: praktike at February 1, 2005 05:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you want to know Bush's reason's for liberating Iraq and toppling an enemy of America, just re-read his 2003 State of the Union address. It's all right there. Not a huge secret.

Isn't this the relevant document?

March 18, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Sincerely,

GEORGE W. BUSH

Hard to tell who's being most disingenuous.

Posted by: jimbo at February 1, 2005 06:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Praktike - the only conflicting signals going on were the ones in lefty echo chambers - if you read the State of the Union speech in its entirety (Jimbo - I always thought that the State of the Union speech was a bit longer than a form letter) you'll see that the reasons for going to Iraq were many.

You may or may not disagree with some reasons, but please, don't repeat the same old memes over and over again about there being only 1 reason. As you can tell by the above postings, the people who were for this war had no problems understanding why we went to war - it's not that difficult to comprehend.

TV (Harry)

Posted by: Inspector Callahan at February 1, 2005 06:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What was our "exit strategy" after we replaced fascisim with democracy in Germany and Japan? We still have forces and bases in both countries. And every time we try to close a base in Germany, the locals complain.

Posted by: Steve at February 1, 2005 07:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To J., another lefty missing the obvious:

1)WMDs - uh, chemical weapons are 1/3 of the WMD equation - you forgot biological and nuclear. Actually *read* Kay's interim report and Duelfer's final report and you will learn a few things about what Saddam had in place and his intentions once his toadies in France and Russia had succeeded in getting sanctions lifted. One. More. Time. - intelligence agencies from multiple countries believed he had usable weapons, as well as did Clinton, Gore, Kerry, etc.

2) Remove the Saddam threat - he was always interested in expanding his borders (ex: Kuwait) and spreading his influence in the region and the world through bribes, oil contracts, propaganda, etc. A neighborhood bully becomes everyone's problem if left unchecked.

3) bring freedom to Iraq - putting a price tag on freedom just shows little you understand its true worth. Take a look at those Iraqis in line to vote despite bombings and death threats and you'll get an idea.

4) reform the mideast - it's happening already. Elections in Iraq, anyone? It takes time and patience and vision, not defeatism.

5) eliminate a base of terrorism - again, read the 9/11 Commission report and the Security Council's report to learn something about Saddam's connections to terrorists (and, no, they don't say he was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, thank you). Does providing $25,000 in "trophy" money to suicide bombers' families count as "sponsoring" terrorism? You betcha.

6) put pressure on neighboring tyrants to back off and reform - remember Libya? I don't see North Korea doing much beyond a lot of saber rattling (if recent reports are true, it may collapse from within sooner than anyone expected). We have yet to see how the Iraqi elections and the aftermath will affect other countries.

7) put teeth behind UN resolutions whether the UN wants to or not - being the number one superpower means we have the capacity to bring about positive change in the world even if the UN doesn't have the cojones to do it. What is the UN doing passing resolutions they won't enforce anyway?

Go do your homework and finishing your reading, like a good lefty.

Posted by: inmypajamas at February 1, 2005 07:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Inspector Callahan, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by: praktike at February 1, 2005 07:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Praktike,

Hey, I admire your thoughts on this topic as much as anyone, but what exactly is it that you have trouble understanding in Inspector Callahans post?Maybe I am missing something, but it was awfully clear to me. How much it applies to you is a good question, but I think I understand what he was saying.

Posted by: Lance at February 1, 2005 10:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As Tammy Bruce says, I'm so glad I'm no longer a leftist, as it means I can be optimistic about the world

Posted by: jeff at February 1, 2005 11:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J -- the reasons for Iraq are much the same for Afghanistan.

After 9/11 America would not tolerate hostile regimes ruled by unpredictable folks who had no patron states or diffuse internal power centers acting as controls.

We demanded that Afghanistan turn over Bin Laden. They refused, and also denied any responsibility for 9/11; or bin Laden's responsiblity for the same, and required us to "prove" our allegations through international law. Bush replied with invasion.

Saddam refused to co-operate with inspectors, made provocations by publicy hosting Zarqawi and celebrating 9/11; refused demands to extradite Zarqawi, other terrorists, and made threatening statements about his intent while locking onto our planes with radar in violation of his signed truce agreement. Saddam gambled he could force the issue, make sanctions go away, hide *WHATEVER* he was hiding (it sure was something) and make Bush look like the loser while he looked like a winner. A resonable assumption if it was 1998-99 and Operation Desert Fox under a pre-9/11 President. One dangerously flawed in the post-9/11 America and Saddam paid the price.

Saddam could have avoided the war by extraditing Z-Man and admitting the inspectors. He chose not to, for his own reasons. Hence the war properly belongs on his doorstep.

Post 9/11 the cost of allowing even a very poor state (Afghanistan) that was profoundly hostile to America and pussyfooting with it's enemies was very clear. Saddam was even more dangerous than Mullah Omar since he sat on lots of oil, allowing him to buy (and pass on) anything he wanted to whoever he wanted. I suspect that even Bush had 9/11 not happened would have passed on Iraq.

Kos, Atrios, the rest just don't live in the real world, and have not processed 9/11, pretending it doesn't exist. They ignore the costs of taking Saddam's word for it; because they don't really believe that there are people in this world who really hate them just for being Americans and would gladly vaporize them and everyone they knew for their own political/religious ends.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at February 1, 2005 11:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jim, it isn't that they haven't processed 9/11. It's that they haven't processed it the same way you have.

Look back at WWII. People still argue about whether FDR knew about pearl harbor. Looking back it's hard to imagine him not knowing. We had their codes that said what they were going to do. The japanese fleet had disappeared -- who else were they going to hit if not us? We may have thought they were going to hit the philippines, where MacArthur gave orders that left us sitting ducks. Either we knew, or we were utterly incompetent. If that had been proven at the time there would have been calls to have FDR impeached for treason. But looking back from 60 years later, the world needed us to fight WWII and it would have been a very bad thing if we'd delayed, and tricking the US public into it with pearl harbor was probably the only way to do it.

Sixty years from now will people understand that 9/11 was necessary and good? Right now it looks ludicrous. The entire arab world has a collective GDP less than spain? They're a threat that has to be handled immediately? Because maybe they'll get nukes, and give them to terrorists who'll blow up a US city -- and the terrorists don't care that we'll blow up a muslim nation in return? So I guess then some muslim nation with nukes will give the terrorists *another* bomb to blow up another US city knowing we'll blow up another muslim nation? The whole scenario depends on them being crazy. But we think they are crazy, so we have to kill them before they kill us. And the public evidence that they're that crazy is 9/11 and pretty much nothing else.

But maybe the real evidence is secret. Maybe it's completely necessary and the stupid stories are all stupid cover stories. It might be 60 or 100 years before we find out. And meanwhile the guys at Kos etc are looking at the idiotic cover stories and going "You must think we're real real stupid" and you guys are going "It all makes sense to me.".

Posted by: J Thomas at February 2, 2005 01:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The obsession with a quick "exit strategy" has been, in my opinion, one of the absolutely most disastrous developments in American diplomacy. It signals a fundamental lack of seriousness and of commitment on the part of the US.

Posted by: Robin Goodfellow at February 2, 2005 04:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Robin, you're right. The US has a fundamental lack of seriousness and commitment to the multi-year iraq war. This is entirely appropriate.

If Bush wanted us to be more committed to his war he should have explained better reasons for it before he started it. Or maybe he should have ended it quicker. Lack of commitment wasn't an issue for grenada, or panama, or the gulf war. Even though the rationales behind grenada and panama were absurd, people didn't object too much because they were over quick.

Posted by: J Thomas at February 2, 2005 09:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You simply cannot publicly cite every reason for strategic action. And large republics forget long term struggles very quickly unless they are tragically reminded of the reason "why" again and again. The catch-22 is that when you are tactically successful at deterring further tragic reminders (as in preventing further domestic attacks) you enable the public to forget and demand more attention reverting to domestic payola.

Thus, Bush does about the only thing he can under these circumstances- periodically emerge and make his points, depend on allies in the commentariat to stress the points in opposition to the MSM mischaracterizations, and simple leave those who will never get it, the "willful blindness America sucks" coalition to yammer into the wind.

Sunday shut up the few who have some common sense, and Kos will always be Kos.

I'm still waiting for some of them to rip Wesley Clark for his piece last week saying that it is time to go back into Kosovo, whether the UN approves or not.

Posted by: Duane at February 2, 2005 04:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Duane, Bush doesn't have to limit himself to making occasional speeches to buck up the war fervor. Another splashy terrorist attack would do more than any number of speeches.

At any rate, we should check back on iraq in a few weeks and in a few months. The elections didn't make a material difference but they may have made a fundamental immaterial difference. It's like, the crucifixion of Christ didn't make much material difference in the world, the romans were crucifying at least thousands of people a year, what's one more? But it could be argued that it changed everything.

Maybe the elections have changed everything. If the iraqi government forces are ready to buck up and kill iraqis while under US command because of the elections, that would be a big change. Or if the new iraqi government tells us to go away that would be a big change too.

We should see how much difference it makes, and what kind of difference.

Posted by: J Thomas at February 2, 2005 07:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A telegraphed exit is stupid policy, of course.

While a non-telegraphed exit can be spun as expulsion and defeat: see Lebanon, Israel's withdrawal from.

Your point was? Oh, I forgot, it was the pot calling the kettle.

Posted by: ahem at February 2, 2005 08:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dude, Atrios is a fucking genius compared to you.

Do you reallly believe that BushCo doesn't intend on having military bases in Iraq for a long, long time to come?

Otherwise, what was the point of invading?

Oh yeah, I forgot: "Liberating the Iraqi People!"

If you believe that one ...

Posted by: GP at February 2, 2005 08:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't know where to begin with this post, since it's wrong in so many ways:

1) to eliminate WMD capabilities and any stockpiles.
None found. Check.

2) Remove the saddam threat
To be replaced at a later date by an equally foul dictator. Just you watch.

3) bring freedom to iraq
The freedom to wait in line for food, for gasoline, to sit in the dark because the electrical grid is still in shambles. The freedom to worry about whether or not one's next trip out of doors will be one's last because of crossfire, because U.S. soldiers might mistake you for an insurgent etc. etc. etc.

4) reform the mideast
Successful. Now everybody hates us, instead of just half of them.

Posted by: john marzan at February 1, 2005 02:15 PM
5) eliminate a base of terrorism
Check. There were no terrorists before, but now they're running around everywhere. Shooting at our soldiers. Can anybody say 1,400 dead Americans?

6) put pressure on neighboring tyrants to back off and reform
Yup, that worked so well the Iranians sped up their nuclear program

7) put teeth behind UN resolutions whether the UN wants to or not
Ah, nice, we're the world's dictator while the UN is the world's democracy. Who are you going to trust to lead you to democracy?

Posted by: johnny ryall at February 2, 2005 08:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

6) put pressure on neighboring tyrants to back off and reform
Yup, we're working really hard to get reform in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, aren't we?

Posted by: johnny ryall at February 2, 2005 08:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Look, I'm a Republican:

"nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven nine eleven..."

Get over it, losers.

WOw, 3000 people died. More people than that die from choking on their food.

We've already killed way more people than that in Afghan. and Iraq.

More people have died in traffic accidents. From smoking. From drinking. etc. etc.

I swear, the GOP has a fetish for 9/11. It was more than three years ago, nothing like it has happened since. GET A FUCKING LIFE.

Posted by: GP at February 2, 2005 08:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nation Building: 2000: Bad
Nation Building: 2003: Good!

Keep those goalposts moving boys and girls....

Hypocrites Credo: It's ok if WE do it.

America would just be grateful if you this admin could do anything well.... other than convince (or pay) morons to rally around idiotic policies that they would be screaming at if it was implemented by anyone else.

Posted by: Guy at February 2, 2005 08:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lance

"How much it applies to you is a good question, but I think I understand what he was saying."

Well it didn't apply to what I was saying, which is why I got snippy. The point I was making is that several prominent prowar hawks seem to be confused about long-term U.S. plans in the region, so I can understand why Atrios might be as well.

Posted by: praktike at February 2, 2005 08:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To make a larger point, perhaps the elections were successful. Perhaps not. Is it good that they had elections? Sure, although stealing from the Ohio Republicans playbook doesn't actually give me much faith that this isn't going to spin into civil war very quickly.

But the larger point is this: All along the way--the toppling of the Saddam statue, the handover, and now the election--has been heralded as some great big step forward toward freedumndemocracy, but it just seems to get worse after each one.

D'y'all think they didn't have elections in Vietnam that were heralded the same way?

Posted by: johnny ryall at February 2, 2005 09:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sen. Kerry on Meet the Press last Sunday was pretty interesting. He rejected Sen. Kennedy's call for a timetable to withdraw US troops from Iraq. He did say we needed to train Iraqi troops and police in greater numbers and faster and to do so should take advantage of offers from other countries like Egypt and Jordan. He also said that it would be unwise to leave US troops in Iraq, indefintely.

My own opinion as to length of the US military stay in Iraq is that the US will start major troop withdrawls within two years and that most of our troops will be out within four. Why, because the Army and Marines are too small to permit a longer occupation. They are straining themsevles to the breaking point or past it, in keeping the current number of troops in Iraq. In order to avoid wrecking our ground forces we have to withdraw from Iraq in the next two to four years. Of all the half hearted, on the cheap ways that Bush & Co. have fought the war on Islamic Terror, the refusal to expand the Armed Forces, especially the Army above the peace time strength of the 1990s, along with not re-starting our Cold War public information services aimed this time at the Middle East, have been the most destructive ones of our goals.

Posted by: David All at February 2, 2005 11:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Following soy_bomb's suggestion, I just reread the 2003 State of the Union address. To summarize, there was one reason for going to war: to disarm Iraq of WMD. There were, in turn, two reasons for wanting to disarm Iraq: to prevent Saddam from threatening his neighbors and to prevent him from supplying terrorists with WMD.

Earlier comments on this thread suggest that one of our reasons for going to war was to bring democracy to Iraq, but nobody has provided any citations to support this claim.

Posted by: Kenneth Almquist at February 3, 2005 04:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kenneth, Bush didn't have to actually *mention* a reason for the war, to make it be a reason for the war.

So for example he's never come out and said that getting control of the oil was a big reason for the oil.

Remember that when Bush talks he's basicly an advertiser. He wants to say whatever will get people to buy his product, independent of anything else. So he uses the reasons that his marketing research says people will like. For all we know he deeply cared about iraqi freedom even before he was elected and he only told us he didn't believe in nation-building because he thought that's what we wanted to hear.

They *did* name it Operation Iraqi Freedom instead of Operation Iraqi Liberty, though.

Anywey, we have enough experience now that we shouldn't be arguing about what Bush says. It's pointless. Follow Nixon's advice. "Don't listen to what he says, watch what he does."

Posted by: J Thomas at February 3, 2005 01:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kenneth,

I'll supply a citation. Check out the resolution our senate voted on authorizing war. WMD's was only a part of it.

In addition check out the three pillars speech he gave in London. There are many more, but that should do.

Posted by: Lance at February 4, 2005 05:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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