The Iraq Civil War and American Foreign Policy

     Latest word is that over 100 Iraqis per day are dying violent deaths in Iraq.  To my untrained eye, Iraqis appear to be killing Iraqis at an increasing rate and American troops are trying and failing to keep the peace.  Somehow, America will be blamed.  And, in truth, America has not been able to fill the power vacuum that resulted from their invasion.  If this is not a civil war, it will do until one comes along. 

     One popular red-white-and-blue liberal bumper sticker says “These colors don’t run . . . the world.”  It does seem like we do make a mess of things when we try to.  So, is there a Civil War going on in Iraq, and what, if anything, can we do about it?  One reason I opposed going into Iraq is that we had no idea how we were going to get out.  We still don’t.   We’ve had some interesting exchanges in the Bookwormroom about where we go from here in Iraq.  But perhaps the more important question is how can American foreign policy be made more effective.  We are the last remaining superpower, yet seem entirely unable to translate that power into success in the rest of the world.  This goes far beyond the Middle East.  It covers everything from our failure to win allies in the United Nations and in the rest of the world generally to our mammoth and ever increasing trade deficit (caused in part by our inability to sell our goods abroad).

      Let me throw out a few suggestions and ask you for your ideas.  We should refocus on America itself:  put our financial house in order by balancing our budget (the attitude must be that if we are not willing to pay for it, we should not do it); rediscover our shared core values; regain the ability to conduct our political discussions in the respectful manner the Bookwormroom tries very hard to nurture; quit arguing about which is best and develop every possible form of American energy (solar and wind and nuclear and geothermal, etc.); make “illegal resident” an oxymoron (figure out who can be here legally and deport everyone else, keep deporting those who try to come back, prosecute those who employ them); protect our borders; support American business in their efforts to sell abroad (and it wouldn’t hurt to buy American, either); make education a priority not by throwing ever more money at it but by developing a culture that values learning; and do no delude ourselves about the international situation (the enemy has declared war, believe them and act like we are at war).

     Please share your ideas with our visitors.   

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  • Skippy-san

    I think the last remaining super power moniker may be a misnomer. The world has overtaken the old paradigm. Thanks to the glpbal economy the world is more competitive and in the next 50 year I predict the US will still be a strong power, but it will be one of the powers, not the power. (ALbeit strong and with nuclear weapons…). India, China, Russia, et al no that don’t have to be superior all over the world, just in the area of interest and concentration.

    It may be in fact that a civil war in Iraq will be a part of its national evolution. And finally when they get tired of it, they will get a strongman who can unite the country. The real question is why does the US have to be stuck hanging around for it. Throw them into the deep end of the pool! They’ll either swim or drown, but they will not be able to blame the US for it.

    As for the rest, the US needs to balance its budget and all the rest you suggest. However we need to breed a new type of politician to do it. The Democrats in particular need wholesale euthenasia of the current crop and then grow some new ones who are not so beholden to wacko’s……..

  • Ymarsakar

    If people are willing to have Americans shoot looters and execute criminals on sight, among other various heavy handed tactics, then American can fullfill the power gap. So the problem I see is not that America doesn’t fill the power gap, but for some reason American and the American leadership will not fill the power gap.

    We are the last remaining superpower, yet seem entirely unable to translate that power into success in the rest of the world.

    Well, when people think that America should not use our power because it is bully, it is sort of hard to translate that power into usable work. Both the power and the resources are there. The military can do many times if you just order them to do it, ala Katrina. America does not suffer from a lack of money, power, or skillsets. America suffers from Command and Control problem, in that right orders are not being given. Nobody told the soldiers after the invasion to invoke martial law and shoot looters on sight. Result? Chaos and looting, obviously.

    This stuff should like be obvious, and it is, but still the American leadership, for whatever reason, focuses more on “how things will look” then what they know will work. Bush included.

    The get out strategy Bush is using, is apparently instead of the US filling the power gap, we get the Kurds and the Iraqi government to fill the power gap. Why do you, Don, say that this plan is not a plan to get out? Or are you just refering to the lack of a get out plan that you agree with?

    If the criticism is that American forces will still be there, not “all gotten out”, then I answer with so what. We’re still in Korea and Germany. I’d like to pull those troops out and put them in Iraq, but we all can’t get what we want, now can we.

    (caused in part by our inability to sell our goods abroad).

    I think it is caused by China undercutting their own money so that things are cheaper when we buy from them and more expensive for them to buy from us. Google and Yahoo are in China after all, it is not a difficulty in how we compete.

    Let me throw out a few suggestions and ask you for your ideas. We should refocus on America itself

    i don’t approve of the isolationist philosophy or strategy, you already know that Don so I won’t reiterate it.

    (the attitude must be that if we are not willing to pay for it, we should not do it)

    Public opinions and “will” is mercurial. It changes. Basing long term planning on the whims of fate is… sub-optimal to say the least.

    We could pay for it all in one lump sum, and then say if it goes over budget, we get out…. but that would not satisfy Don’s requirement of financial balance. It wouldn’t be a good way to plan a war either.

    rediscover our shared core values;

    Well, do you think we can rediscover our shared core values by looking inward at our navel, sort of like superman on guilt? Or do you think as I do, that fresh blood for America in terms of ideas and vitality comes from the barbarian crazy people out in the boondocks of the savage world? I know, rhetorical questions, but it does outline the differences in philosophy. I see Iraq and Afghanistan as contributing to the core strength of America, you see it as a drain and distraction, am I not correct, don?

    quit arguing about which is best and develop every possible form of American energy (solar and wind and nuclear and geothermal, etc.);

    That’s fine, so long as you can tolerate the pork barrel corruption and the imbalanced financial budget. I mean ya, you can have balanced budget or you can have your pet projects, but not both at the same time.

    Please share your ideas with our visitors.

    I’m not so much interested in the ideas of our visitors, as I’m interested in your views on the subject, Don.


    Throw them into the deep end of the pool! They’ll either swim or drown, but they will not be able to blame the US for it.

    You think all the Arab dictatorships and what not that we’ve “let swim or sink” don’t blame us? I don’t think you have the right model in terms of human and national behavior here, skippy. Carter let the Shah sink or swim and look what happened. They will be able to blame the US for it, because they already do here and now. They don’t care what’s true or not, that’s their propaganda brainwashing power. Their ability is based upon religious fanaticism and religious will power. Anything is possible for them, including heaven.

    As for the rest, the US needs to balance its budget and all the rest you suggest.

    Right, same thing I was talking about; application. How are you going to balance the budget and also pay for every pet project energy pork barrel under the sun? We all know how the appropriations work. If the government says “come get the money” for energy development, they’ll come for it all right. If you balance the budget and you can’t pay for all the energy projects, don’t you have to choose which to cut? If you cut something, then you obviously can’t do what Don recommended, which is to get all energy sources funded, quit the argument.

    I don’t think politics can quit the argument if you want both balanced budgets and funding for those energy projects.

    The Democrats in particular need wholesale euthenasia of the current crop and then grow some new ones who are not so beholden to wacko’s……..

    While I favor getting rid of the Democrats, I just don’t see how you can actually do other than a military coup of course with Spec Ops branch assassination squads.

    I’ve done the criticism, so I’ll provide an alternative.

    Since we more or less have the same goals, Don Quixote, there’s not much I need to add. Just that the way I think to invigorate the American spirit is to pour enough willpower and power into Iraq, that we end up annihilation our enemies there, and producing a victory that will bolster American self-confidence. The genkai, the limitation is that America fears to use her powers, or the leaders fear to use it lest they be called bullies or whatever. Americans fear talking about using our power because like Tancredo and the radio operators, you will be punished by the ACLU and CAIR. If you defeat the enemy in Iraq, then ex post facto nobody can say anything once you have victory. Everyone likes a winner, but you first have to win.

    All these initiatives to improve America rests upon one crucial and vital component. The will and spirit of the American people themselves. If the people do not give, then America will not lose. But if the people are dispirited and lost, then they will elect bad leaders or just wont’ care and let the Demos elect bad leaders.

    A victory in the world, will raise America’s vision of herself. And that matters far more than what the UN thinks of us or France.

    This is the renewed vigor we want. And we can get it by improving the lives of other people in this world. The power of America, cannot be sustained just by using it on ourselves. That was not how it was achieved, do you not recall? The power of America is like a muscle, it must be used, or it will atrophy. We acquired this superpower in WWII, by war, liberation, conquest even, and also winning the Cold War. If you focus inwards, Don Quixote, then you will have to accept a curtailment of America’s power. I don’t think that would be a good path to trod given the enemies we have now.

    The reason, I think is simple yet complex. America felt a renewed vigor after our victories in each instance. We felt called to Duty, and we excelled at that duty. If we do not have a duty to accomplish in this world, if we just look at our own interests and desires, then our willpower will shatter and drain. Remaking America is quite an ambitious project, but remaking the world… is the most ambitious project yet.

    It’s a difference of philosophy, Don Quixote. Between you and I, me and skippy. I don’t believe a nation’s power or success comes from focusing in on how to protect themselves and worry over how to make their own lives better. I think the power of a soldier, a warrior, or a human being surpasses the limits because they seek to protect other people, because they care and love people who would otherwise not be loved or cared for.

    It’s not a weepy, noblesse oblige philosophy, that I have. But one based upon nothing more than human liberty.

  • Ymarsakar

    P.S. I do recognize that there are private types of tax break programs for the government to use to get energy up and running. But again, there’s always going to be pork barrel with those kind of legislations. Someone will want something for their whatever constituents, in return for allowing this or that corporation to have this or that tax break.

    Since we’re talking about all the energy to be developed by priviate incentives, we’re talking about a lot of government legislation. Everyone will want a slice. If you are willing to tolerate all the corruption and pork that may imperfectly result, then sure I guess you can have a balanced budget. But it’s probably not going to be as clean as you think. The political process never is.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi folks & thanks for your comments. I don’t necessarily mean government funding of programs, pork barrel or otherwise. Much could be done privately if the government would just get out of the way, especially in nuclear power. I agree we need a different kind of politician, one that will inspire, rather than pander. The main question is whether the American public is capable of being inspired.

  • Scott in SF

    We go to Iraq and try to create a democracy. They hate us. Anything we try to do they, even if it’s good for them–they try to sabatoge. So I suggest Bush Go to Israel and hold a press conference where he Admits that we intended to start a civil war in Iraq all along (by the way I had Palestinians tell me that was our plan in 2004 so conspiracy theorists will eat it up).
    Then they will stop fighting just to spite us!
    By the way, it is in our interest for sunni’s and shiite’s to fight it out.
    What have we got to lose!

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  • Ymarsakar

    Right, Don. I re-analyzed your position, which was why I put in a Post Scriptum about privatization, instead of government contracts. I favor privatization, but even then, I would forward the position that there will still be a lot of that “nasty” political horsetrading to get it going. If people can tolerate the problems, and not have too high of an expectation, then they can probably get something going in terms of energy. How to convince people in Congress or the President, is of course, independent of whether the plan is a good one or not.

    There are different ways of getting good government, good citizenry, and inspiration amongst the general population. A lot of it has to do with propaganda techniques, ala Reagan’s speeches, JFK’s speeches, even some of Clinton’s inspiration speeches. Even if the potential is in America, as I do believe it is, without the right leader, like Teddy Roosevelt, that potential will remain untapped. This will cause a chain reaction in that it will prevent good leaders from being elected or good citizens from choosing to be good leaders.

    The Executive Branch is there to execute the policies of America, to apply things in reality and to create applications, not theory. Without a strong, wise, and apt Executive Branch, you really cannot get any thing going amongst the general American population in terms of reform or excitement.

    The Electoral College has proven very useful in making the best out of bad choices in terms of Presidents. It’s not hopeless, if you don’t like Bush or despair of having a stronger Executive. It just, happens to be based upon a lot of luck for some reason. Meaning, which Presidents (good ones and bad) get elected or not is based upon luck predominantly. Teddy Roosevelt got into power cause the Prez died. Lyndon Johnson, with Vietnam. I always wondered what would have happened there if JFK was in power, you know.

    If you’re a big believer in destiny and Christian faith, then I suppose you can rely upon that for the future of America given historical precedents.

    Many people who disapprove of Bush’s policies are not Democrats, but Republicans and Jacksonians. They complain that Bush isn’t inspiring enough. The potential is quite there, Don Quixote. If we could have all of Bush’s appointees, judges and CIA staffs as well as advisers, combined with Clinton the personality, I think it would be a workable hybrid. Just unrealistic. We can’t have the best of both worlds, both Hollywood propaganda and Engineering pragmatism at the same time. The best we can do is choose a President that is balanced, with a little bit of both, so that he won’t have any obvious deficiencies our enemies may take advantage of as they take advantage of Bush’s compassion and multilateral kindness. Bush is a gentleman, but in a war, you might perhaps want more of a ruthless mofo like Harry Truman or Franklin Roosevelt.

    The reason why a lot of the reforms and actions related to America’s future, hinges upon the Executive Branch is in my view, because the Presidency focuses and harnesses the power of 300 million Americans into usable power and force. Without that focus, we could not use the power that America has. You see it even now. Iran and Syria, Venezuela. The ruthlessness and hate of America for those who hate us, is chained, but it is there and it is building. You don’t see it expressed in policy because Bush refuses to channel that power of America, or maybe he just doesn’t know it is there. Bush channeled the rage and anger on 9/11, and you saw the power he wielded, the power of his inspiration then. That is the true height of the Presidency, to channel the power of each individual in America, all 300 million of us, into one single coherent beam of annihilation and creation.

    The President becomes invulnerable then, nothing could get in his way. Not even Bush’s death would have saved the enemies of America from the focused energy that the President had already channeled on the ruins of the WTC. If the President is out of step with America however, like with borders or the propaganda war, then we have a problem of disunity and disharmony to deal with first before we can deal with constructive future goals for America or the world.

    If I had to decide who was limiting America’s progress more, the Democrats or President Bush, I would have to go with the latter. Simply because the Democrats are just obstructing because of a childish desire for power. Bush is the adult, he should know better than to do unwise things like buddying up with France+UN and various other things. But he doesn’t, for some reason. I did give him the benefit of the doubt, I’m no hater of Bush after all. But after 2-3 years, it is quite apparent that the disharmony wasn’t just “temporary” you know.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Scott,

    I wouldn’t go that far, but one good by-product of the war in Iraq is that the suicide bombers are too busy over there to spend much time blowing things up here.

    Hi Y,

    I agree about the power of a soldier, though I think all else being equal I’d use that power less than you would. My point here, though, is that we need a solid base (a concensus of shared values, a sound financial base, etc.) here at home before we go sticking our noses in elsewhere. In spreading our values to others we must speak with one voice and practice what we preach.

  • Ymarsakar

    I don’t think you could ever get people to agree to do something unless you could convince them that everyone would win together or at least the benefits outweigh the risks. Since there’s two possibilities, the choice must then be do you try to get a consensus first or do you try to get a victory first. Either consensus leads to victory, or victory leads to consensus in the causality lines.

    If it is the one, victory leads to consensus, then if you try to get consensus first, you won’t get anywhere because people won’t band together without a proven concept. People have to have a reason for taking risks. If they don’t have a reason to take the risk in Iraq now when things are going moderately well, Don Quixote, why do you think people would ever have a reason to take the risk in Iraq?

    If they won’t join the fight when things are moderately successful and positive, would they join the fight when defeat is at hand? Perhaps they would, as Churchill said and lived it. However, I would prefer not to risk that scenario where people are forced to fight not by their choice, but because annihilation is at hand.

    The argument, summarized from my position, then becomes is it the correct means to get a consensus first or is the correct means to get a victory regardless of the public opinion?

    Roosevelt had the same problem. Does he aid, committ, and otherwise setup the battlefield for tomorrow against public opinion and “consensus”. Or, does he attempt to convince the public before doing anything at all?

  • Oldflyer

    This is a recurring theme that the USA should withdraw (more or less) from the world and tend to our own affairs. I have often shared the sentiment. But, I realize this posture is impossible and likely to remain so. Sadly, since WW1 at least, the world will call on us when things go to hell–then many will blame us because we don’t achieve a perfect outcome. For the most recent examples; anyone remember Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo? Remeember why we had Blackhawk helicopters in Somalia to begin with? We had no National Interest involved in any of these problems. But the “world” called for help–and we responded. That is what we do; and we cannot escape our destiny at this point. Face it. In any given crisis, part of the world will detest us if we act; and the rest will despise us if we don’t.

    I believe the best we can do is to pick our fights with care. And, once we commit the nation to a conflict, whether it is purely diplomatic or whether it involves military action we must use every resource, ruthlessly if necessary, to resolve the problem quickly. Neither our own citizens, nor the world at large, have the attention span for extended conflict.

    So far as changing our domestic culture. I don’t see a foundation to build a consensus on serious questions. As a nation, we have lost our faith; and we don’t know what to subsitute. Worse yet, if we continue much further down our present path we won’t even be able to communciate in a common language.

    Upon review, these are fairly pessimistic comments. At this stage of life I am, in truth, rather pessimistic about the future for my grand-children. My one ray of hope is the knowledge that the country has muddled through hard times in the past, and perhaps will continue to do so.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Oldflyer,

    The world didn’t call for help in Iraq (or Afganistan or Vietnam or many others). We invaded Iraq out of our own self-interest. In fact, one of the reasons I opposed the invasion was that we had done a wholly inadequate job of building world-wide support before acting. Sadaam was no immediate threat to us and we should have been more patient. Unfortunately, I agree with most of your analysis. I’m pessimistic as well. Only time will tell whether a dozen 9/11’s will bring us together or make us fall apart completely.

    Hi Y,

    Roosevelt could not act until Pearl Harbor gave him the concensus support he needed. I know this is a vast oversimplification, but WW II and (to a lesser extent)Korea are what happen when you have a concensus; Vietnam and the current mess in Iraq are what happen when you do not. I am curious, though, on what basis you say things are going moderately well in Iraq when the Iraqis are killing each other at the rate of a hundred a day in sectarian violence.

  • jg

    DQ and oldflyer: Enjoyable discussion.

    OFlyer observes: “Neither our own citizens, nor the world at large, have the attention span for extended conflict.”

    You’re referencing the dominant power and influences of the worldwide MSM. Unfortunately, the MSM is no longer living in the real world. It’s not acceptable as means of determining facts and the nature of conflict. It can’t even allow examination of issues, much less debate.

    We lie, much as Gulliver, imprisoned in the MSM cords. World events will change that.

    The West must engage in a long, protracted battle with Islam, worldwide, as we have shown signs of being willing to do in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas, whether we desire so or not. Militarily, but more importantly politically and culturally. The actions of the Left/MSM have been suicidal in the cultural area, denying the mingling of civilisations the President envisioned as a better choice.

    The PResident has been willing to recognise and engage the enemy, no matter how we criticise his campaign. No other leader in America will. The next wave of terrorist attacks will shake, maybe shatter America. We will either adapt to reality, or lose.

    The West as a whole will either 1/ engage the Islamic world from a single, united basis. Only Benedict seems to be striving in that direction.
    2/disintegrate into factions (we’re well on our way) and fight/make our surrender with Islam on separate bases.

    We will travel the road to sharia, with a world ruled by the cruelty of Chavez, China, Russia– all sharing in the rule of the Caliphate. American Hegemony will be replaced by Islamic Peace. We will not be free.

    I hope there are other –realistic– choices.

    I have left out the threat posed by the larger military exchanges, a future which Iran opens as the first of Islamic ME countries seeking nuclear weapons. Our Western internal disorder brings that horrible future closer.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I am with you on this one, JG. Don Q, you aren’t going wobbly on us, are you? There is no such thing as Fortress America any more and the asymmetric war with Islamo-fundamentalism, like the Cold War, will be a long, protracted war for hearts and minds. So, we might as well buckle down and get on with it or, alternatively, opt to surrender our civilization.

  • ravana

    How do you balance the budget and not raise taxes in a situation where economic growth is not very high? You stop spending, right? So then you need to decide what you want to stop spending on : the military perhaps?

    Personally, I think leaving Iraq prematurely will be disastrous. It is going to lead to breeding ground for terrorism.

    The only option seems to be to raise taxes.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Uh,Ravana, how is the situation today one where economic growth is not high. Although it may seem counterintuitive, Reduced taxes spur economic growth, leading to higher tax revenues. This has been demonstrated repeatedly by JFK, Reagan and Bush II. On a personal level, more money in your pocket translates into more spending (or saving). This, in turn, creates jobs, to make the products your buy, or, alternativesly, provides capital for growth. Both result in increased tax payments to the government. Currently, the U.S. enjoys one of the highest economic growth rates and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the developed world, thanks in part to the Bush tax cuts. There is still a lot of room for further tax cuts (i.e., tax revenue enhancements) in the economy.

  • Ymarsakar

    But Roosevelt did act, Don Quixote. He did many things, not only to the Japanese in terms of oil embargos and diplomatic brinkmanship, but also solidfying an actual nonCongressional approved alliance with Britain. This was in addition to allowing volunteers to fight in Manchuria. The government actually set up a mercenary corporation and used “actual on duty” pilots, and sent them to China and Chiang Kan Shek (sp) to shoot down Japanese bombers over Chinese villages.

    This is not nothing, Don Quixote, you must admit.

    As for the other part you said, Don. Well, let’s just say that on a scale, we’re about in the middle more or less. There are a couple of factors in determining who will win a war, guerrila wars are included as well. Most of them are sourced from Sun Tzu. Discipline, the Moral Law, spycraft and deception, logistics, and so forth. We have a lot in most of Sun Tzu’s dictums in terms of who will win. Our generals and soldiers are better, more motivated, smarter, and more lethal. On a one to one fight, a Spec Ops Weapons Sergeant can kill more often than not at hand to hand with a terrorist armed with a knife. That’s an advantage, along with improved discipline and better Moral Law on our side. The ones we are deficient in is spycraft, propaganda, and in certain aspects, logistics. Not our logistics, our supply convoys are speeding along quite handily. But not disrupting the enemy’s logistics, is a terrible mistake. The enemy’s logistics being in Syria and Iran.

    So we are doing moderately well because we are winning on a tactical and strategic level, but in the long term the logistics issue of the enemy has to be dealt with. No enemy can be destroyed utterly without breaking their logistical framework and infrastructure. Oil was a big weakness to the Axis powers, Japan and Germany. Bombing those were a lot more useful than blowing up train tracks. Not all logistics are oil, but it is usually better to bomb the source of logistics than the path they use to take it.

    In wars that you don’t take out the enemy’s logistics base, you have stalemate or even defeat, as with Vietnam and NOrth Korea. Without the ability to destroy America’s Marine logistical base at sea, and without the willingness to destroy China’s capital, who won was who agreed to stop fighting. In Vietnam, who won was who agreed to take a loss. When logistics are secure on both sides, the only thing that matters is willpower.

    Not even the greatest warrior and soldier can turn willpower to food after all, or ammunition.

    The other reason we are doing moderately well is because we have secured the public support of Iraq against the terrorists, and have had many friendships and various solder-Iraqi interpersonal relationships. This was not because High Command in their infinite wisdom gave the right order, but because of the personal initiative, compassion, and wisdom of American soldiers.

    Given that this is a guerrila war, it has an importance belying the actual strategic, logistic, or tactical considerations. We’re not at the level where the locals are as supportive as the Kurds, but we’re getting there. So long as we are getting there, and not losing on that front, I would say we are doing moderately well.

    One of the problems Vietnam always had was that US forces did not go and take towns, then hold them against terrorist forces. So whenever the Americans would come and try and get some inter-personal relationships going on with our medical care, the Vietcong would come in after we left and hack off the arms of those we helped. Great technique, if I may say so myself, quite effective. But not exactly compassionate, you see.

    Americans in Iraq are holding towns and teaching the locals to hold towns. The north is our stronghold, not the Vietcong’s in this instance. The Kurds are like a stonewall, stonewall Jackson.

    Vietnam’s Vietcong obliterated themselves in Tet. Guerrilas are only effective against conventional forces if they hide and hit in only small units, if they gather together, then they can be destroyed together. Given that conditions in Iraq are vastly improved over Vietnam (with the exception of the logistic issues), we’re still ahead given Tet would have given the US the win had not domestic sabotage succeded.

    Therefore logically, if you want some kind of victory Don, you have to worry more about domestic sabotage than whatever you hear going on at the battlefield. The battlefield is handled by the military and the soldiers, I have faith in them, far more faith than I have in the Congress or the Democrats. If it was a choice between giving support to the soldiers and trying to placate and beg for “consensus” via politicians, the path for me is obvious.

    Sadaam was no immediate threat to us and we should have been more patient.

    Any more patient and Saddam would have had 2 years to have a heart attack in anticipation of the infamous planned American invasion that he would Black Hawk Down.

    The facts just don’t support your claims that the US wasn’t patient, since the US spent too much time talking. As with common sense, do you tell the teacher you are going to observe, that you are coming to observe 5 days in advance or do you just drop in at a moment’s notice? Surprise is far better for victory than any time spent diplomating.

    I am curious, though, on what basis you say things are going moderately well in Iraq when the Iraqis are killing each other at the rate of a hundred a day in sectarian violence.

    Those Iraqis don’t matter. Meaning the Iraqis interested in sectarian violence are those we needed to kill and purge anyways to make Iraq a success. We were going to deal with them one way or another anyways. It is better to get them out of the way now, than have them taint the nation later. After all, America got rid of the British Loyalists by shipping them back to Britain and sending them to Canada. Getting rid of people who aren’t on the same boat is a “good idea” in my view, otherwise the future of your nation won’t be very peaceful.

    Those Iraqis you are refering to, also don’t matter because they would be powerless once we removed the Shia Iran support and the Syrian Baath support. Without secure outside logistical forces, the “sectarian Sunni and Shia thugs” would be crushed in record time.

    In guerrila wars, Don Quixote, a lot of the stuff you see in the media are called “fronts”. Fronts for popular revolution sometimes, but most of the time it is fronts for other nations trying to destabilize a specific country.

    Guerrila warfare has been historically popular for destabilizing a rival nation. Send some funds and support to a rebel group, have them cause some violence, then “go in and liberate the country for their own good”. Syria and Iran would love that, would they not.

    How do you balance the budget and not raise taxes in a situation where economic growth is not very high? You stop spending, right?
    yes, ravana, Europe stops spending. But what does this have to do with the US and Iraq?

    Currently, the U.S. enjoys one of the highest economic growth rates and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the developed world, thanks in part to the Bush tax cuts.

    What world are you living in Danny? Don’t you know the US is in economic recession and is barely feeding her many homeless children? Come on, get with the deal Danny.

  • Ymarsakar

    Dean made this point just recently, unconnected with Bookworm of course. Or maybe not, who knows how these quantum effects work. Bookworm and Neo both write about the same things for instance, at times…. Chocolate and petite sizes comes to mind!

    I believe that in 1991, one of America’s greatest shames occurred. And it happened on George Herbert Walker Bush’s watch as President. You know, our current President’s father? I seriously think it was one of America’s most shameful moments. In the last 225+ years of this Republic, it was truly one of our most awful moments.

    After we had driven Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, we openly encouraged Iraqis who hated Saddam to rebel. The President even said so publicly. Then we sat and watched from the sidelines while Saddam’s forces cut them down like a hot knife through butter. And, except in Kurdistan, we sat there and did nothing. He gassed them and cut them down with machine guns. We did nothing, because we were afraid of offending our Arab allies.

    And in Afghanistan, around the same time? They had driven the Soviets out, but we did almost nothing further to support them. It is almost as if we left the Free French to die on the beaches of Normandy.

    This is probably why I remain a staunch supporter of the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Because it’s a promise we made. How shameful, how selfish to abandon such promises.

    I cannot express how deeply I love my country. And yet I can think of few instances where we so betrayed our principles as Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 1990s.

    Dean’s not a leftbot, but he also ain’t a Bush Republican you know. But then, the same can be said for me.

    Dagon once was amazed and incredulous that I would say that Bookworm was a “liberal”, he meaning fake liberal and I meaning true liberal. Irrespective of that, he just could not understand the differences between conservatives as we have known them for the last 50 years and classical liberals, who have only joined the Republicans recently.

    Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference because we are more or less on the same page in terms of what goals we want to end up at. Success of America, victory, and so forth. But how classical liberals and conservatives get to that end goal of a good America is very very different. A classical liberal person, who feel more of an affinity to that philosophy than regular conservatism, would agree with Dean’s remarks in a very spiritual sense. It doesn’t make conservatives heartless of course, but it does delineate the differences between someone like skippy and Don, with me and Danny, Bookworm, and Neo neocon.

    We won’t go into the Jacksonian thing of course, but you might say that those who are for Iraq full steam are 100% Jacksonians. Jeffersonians prioritize homeland security and civil rights, somewhat oxymoronic in a way but still. Wilsonians prioritize international accord and diplomacy. Hamiltonians prioritize economic budgets and monetary concerns.

    Classical liberals, are in a way, a very very weird hybrid between Jacksonians and Jeffersonians. Righteous liberators, you may term it. The driving motivation being duty, not convenience or even pragmatism.

    I have to make a disclaimer that I am basing my analysis on Bookworm via the very few, very few, instances she has said something or implied something concerning her core beliefs. She doesn’t seem to want to get in on the war strategy debates with Don or others, so the percentage in error of my analysis is grossly greater than say, that for Neo Neocon.

    I don’t know whether she agrees or disagrees with Don. She might have in the past and I forgot it. But I will go out on a limb and say she does disagree with major parts of what Don advocates. If she doesn’t, then I would like to hear her reasons of course.

  • Ymarsakar

    One of the ways you can tell Jacksonians from classical liberals, is if they are 100% for winning in Iraq, but complaining about how the Iraqis aren’t standing up. Just saying you know.

  • Danny Lemieux

    For the record, DQ, the U.S. actually has a good record in fighting asymmetric wars. We did well against the Barbary pirates, the Phillipine Moros and the North American Indians. One could argue we also did very well, militarily, against the Viet Cong (albeit not as well politically). The key was our resolve and the ability to resort to harsh tactics, when necessary. Our big problem in Iraq is political – militarily, the Jihadis and Islamofascists are losing…they cannot forever sustain the current kill ratio. What keeps them going is their conviction that the West’s resolve will collapse because we have no longer have the stomach for protracted conflict. If our will does collapse, we can be sure that they will bring the conflict to us. If you doubt me, be patient. I suspect that the Europeans will provide us with a case in point, before too long. Islam cannot succeed against healthy societies, because Islam itself is the product of and catalyst to societal failure (if you disagree, then provide an example to the contrary) Islam, can only succeed against societies that are rotting from the inside out.

  • dagon

    sheesh don,

    that sounds like something i might write. well done.


  • Ymarsakar

    To supplement Danny’s list of positive, morale boosting American accomplishments. Here’s something about MacArthur’s troops.

    Under a strategy prepared by General George Marshall and Admiral Harold Stark, in case of a world conflict involving Germany and Japan, the United States would concentrate first on the defeat of Germany. Foreseeing Japan’s aggression on the Philippines General Douglas MacArthur devised his War Plan Orange which called for Filipino and American forces to retreat to Bataan at the entrance of Manila Bay and resist the invaders until reinforcements would arrive from the United States. MacArthur has been earlier requested by President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth to form a modern Philippine armed forces. This force composed of Filipinos was soon combined with American forces in the country as the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) in 1941.

    So very modest, for so much suffered.

    From here they marched to the prisoner of war camp O’Donnell. Earlier on March 10, General MacArthur escaped from Corregidor to Australia leaving the USAFFE forces under the command of Lt. General Jonathan Wainright. On May 6, Wainright surrendered all of the remaining USAFFE units all over the Philippines.


    Even while fighting was taking place in Bataan and Corregidor, Filipinos started forming groups to fight the Japanese. The guerrillas fought to protect the way of life of the Filipinos. Others refused to surrender their allegiance to the Japanese invaders. Many of them were victims of their injustices.

    Wrainwright… how I wish he would have died or the Japanese assassinated him. Surrendered? Should have gotten shot for cowardice in the face. This is independent of Bataan, which were composed of Wrainwright’s troops. No, this guy is bad in my view not because of who was captured, but because of who fought on with the Filipinos. US soldiers fought with Filipinos in devastating and cruel guerrila warfare, WITHOUT Wrainwright’s forces. Total Bull Shit.

    The fact that the US-Filipino forces HELD OUT until MacArthur returned is not a testament to Wrainwright the coward’s generalship, but to the hardcore endurance of US and Filipino freedom fighters.

    It must have been a funny and sad joke to MacArthur, to make a pledge to his troops that he would return if only they would hold out against the japanese, to have their CO give the order to surrender after macArthur was gone.

    Nevermind, this isn’t about Wrainright, even though that.. freaker deserved more than he got.

    Among the first resistance groups was the one founded by Governor Wenceslao Vinzons of Camarines Norte. His group captured the town of Daet early in 1942. In Manila cadets from the Philippine Military Academy and ROTC programs from various colleges led by Miguel Ver formed the Hunters ROTC guerrillas which operated in the city as well as in the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite and Tayabas. In Central Luzon, peasants formed the People’s Anti Japanese Army better known as Hukbulahaps. This group harassed Japanese units and eventually became one of the main resistance groups in the region. Other groups were the Marking’s Guerrillas; President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas and many others. Some guerrilla groups were led by former local government officials like Roque Ablan of Ilocos Norte and Alfredo Montelibano of Negros Occidental; USAFFE men or by American residents like Robert Lapham, Claude Thorpe, Russel Volkman, Hugh Straughn, Charles, James and Walter Cushing, and others.

    Those were some hardcore people. The Japanese were not playing around. No Gitmos. You do something they don’t, the Japanese killed you. That’s called not playing around. Wars aren’t games after all, it’s not about the moral high ground.


    Filipino guerrillas fought both Japanese and their Filipino collaborators. They kept in touch with Gen. MacArthur’s headquarters in Australia which they provided with intelligence information about the strength and location of Japanese forces in the Philippines.

    I wonder if any Filipino guerrila asked MacArthur “What happened to the army you left here?”

    Ya, right. Sure.

    The point is, of course, Danny and Don. Americans have the fortitude, do not doubt that. It’s the witless cowardly leaders I’m setting my eyes on.

    LT General Mattis is in the mold of MacArthur. He doesn’t play around in war. Did the Bush Administration defend him when Mattis was being slapped around in the media? Hell no. If Bush ever wonders why his polls are dropping, all he can do is look back at the people he supported (Ted Kennedy) and the people he didn’t (General Mattis and stories of SpecOps burning taliban alive, too bad it wasn’t true) for the answer.

    The guerrilla war phase

    As of 1900, Aguinaldo ordered his army to engage in guerrilla warfare, a means of operation which better suited them and made American occupation of the Philippine archipelago all the more difficult over the next few years. In fact, during just the first four months of the guerrilla war, the Americans lost nearly 500 men who were either killed or wounded. The Filipino resistance fighters began staging bloody ambushes and raids. Most infamous were the guerrilla victories at Pulang Lupa and Balangiga. At first, it even seemed as if the Filipinos would fight the Americans to a stalemate and force them to withdraw. This was even considered by President McKinley at the beginning of the phase.

    The shift to guerrilla warfare, however, only angered the Americans into acting more ruthlessly than before. They began taking no prisoners, burning whole villages, and routinely shooting surrendering Filipinos. Much worse were the concentration camps that civilians were forced into, after being suspected of being guerrilla sympathizers. Thousands of civilians died in these camps. In nearly all cases, the civilians suffered much worse than the actual Filipino guerrillas.

    The subsequent American repression towards the population tremendously reduced the materials, men, and morale of many Filipino resistance fighters, compelling them in one way or another to surrender.

    Aguinaldo Captured; downfall of the Philippine Army

    The Filipino Army continued suffering defeats time and time again by the better armed Americans when fighting conventional warfare, forcing Aguinaldo to continuously change his base of operations, which he did off and on for nearly the length of the entire war.

    General Frederick Funston was able to use Aguinaldo’s poor security against him, when Funston on March 23, 1901 in northern Luzon, faked capture with the help of some Filipinos who had joined the Americans’ side. Once Funston and his “captors” entered Aguinaldo’s camp, they immediately fell upon the guards and quickly overwhelmed them and the weary Aguinaldo. On April 1, 1901, at the Malacañang palace in Manila Aguinaldo swore an oath accepting the authority of the United States over the Philippines and pledging his allegiance to the American government. Three weeks later he publicly called on his followers to lay down arms. “Let the stream of blood cease to flow; let there be an end to tears and desolation,” Aguinaldo said. “The lesson which the war holds out and the significance of which I realized only recently, leads me to the firm conviction that the complete termination of hostilities and a lasting peace are not only desirable but also absolutely essential for the well-being of the Philippines.” [22]

    The capture of Aguinaldo dealt a severe blow to the Filipino cause, but not as much as the Americans had hoped. The less competent General Mariano Trias succeeded him, but surrendered shortly after.

    Command then fell to the highly regarded General Miguel Malvar, who originally had taken a defensive stance against the Americans, now launched all out offensives against the American-held towns in the Batangas region. Though his victories were small, they were a testament that the war was not yet over.

    In response, General J. Franklin Bell performed tactics that countered Malvar’s guerilla strategy perfectly. Forcing civilians to live in hamlets, interrogating suspected guerillas (and regular civilian alike), and his execution of scorched earth campaigns took a heavy toll on the Filipino revolutionaries.

    Bell also relentlessly pursued Malvar and his men, breaking ranks, dropping morale, and forcing the surrender of many of the Filipino fighters. Finally, in April of 1902, after barely escaping capture, Malvar with his sick wife and children along with some of his most trusted officers who stood with him until the end, surrendered. By the end of the month, nearly 3,000 of Malvar’s men also gave into the inevitable and surrendered.

    With the surrender of Malvar, the last truly capable general of the Filipino Army, the Filipino fight began to dwindle even further. Command changed hands frequently, as each general, one after another, was killed, captured, or just surrendered.

    The United States declared the insurgency officially over in 1902. The Filipino leaders for the most part, accepted that the Americans had won.

    However, some Filipino nationalist historians consider the war to have continued for nearly a decade, since bands of guerillas, quasi-religious armed groups and other resistance groups continued to roam the countryside, still clashing with American Army or Philippine Constabulary patrols. These groups, which included Macario Sakay, a senior Katipunan member and general who attempted to form a new Tagalog Republic, and the pulajanes, colorum or Dios-Dios groups of assorted provinces, were dismissed as bandits, fanatics or cattle rustlers. [

    This is from Wiki, and the author is obviously pretty anti-ruthlessness in terms of military tactics, he portrays it as more than it actually was.

    A lot of people believe that American will is weaker now than it was during those times. I disagree. The will is the same, it is actually stronger now than before. The reason? Simple. For them to do those things back then, required no particular fight against a world wide media. They didn’t have to feel guilty or worry about lawyers and what not. If courage is acting in the presence of fear, they had not the presence of the media to incite true will power. Here, we had Vietnam and the world wide web with the world wide media, and we are still going at it. Without the media, anyone could be ruthless, he would just let things take their course. With the media, you need far more will on the part of the leaders to effect some of the same policies as used in the dawn of the 20th century by America.

    In summary, if you try to fight America, you will always lose since the odds are stacked against you. Even if you win, as the Vietnamese did, they still lose. Because Vietnam is a crap place compared to Korea, Japan, and Germany. You know, the people who “lost” to American occupation more or less?

    and have never been able to get at the bottom of the origin of our antagonism to the natives. I thought we should act as their protector — not try to get them under our heel.

    The above was by mark Twain. They didn’t want you as protectors, Mark. The South didn’t want the North’s “protection” either. Defeat must come first, before Japanese anime shows can get to America you know.

    We were to relieve them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of their own, and we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was not to be a government according to our ideas, but a government that represented the feeling of the majority of the Filipinos, a government according to Filipino ideas. That would have been a worthy mission for the United States. But now — why, we have got into a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of extrication immensely greater. I’m sure I wish I could see what we were getting out of it, and all it means to us as a nation.”

    Don’t worry Mark, be happy. The Iraq Conflict is so much easier to understand, and it’s a lot better than your Filipino thing.

    Water cure (also known as water torture) is a form of torture which is intended to make the subject feel the sensation of drowning. In the most common variation, the torturer pours water down the throat of the subject to inflict the terror of drowning and the pain of stomach distention without causing the subject to drown. In another variation, the subject is tied or held down in a chair, his face is covered with a cloth or plastic sheet, and water is poured slowly or quickly over his face to encourage him to talk (see “waterboarding” for more detail).

    Often the victim has his nose closed with pincers and a funnel forced into his mouth. The victim has to drink all the water (or other liquids such as bile or urine) poured into the funnel to avoid drowning. The stomach fills until near bursting, and is sometimes beaten until the victim vomits and the torture starts over. Sometimes water torture victims are raised upside down with water in their stomachs, pressing against the intestines, resulting in incredible pain and sometimes death.

    Sounds like Americans love water… bottled water, and other kinds…

    Can you imagine how much of this Osama Bin Laden, Zarqawi and all the other headchoppers could take before they are begging us to give them to jihad land?

    U.S. attacks into the countryside often included scorched earth campaigns where entire villages were burned and destroyed, torture (water cure) and the concentration of civilians into “protected zones” (concentration camps). Many of the civilian casualties resulted from disease and famine. Reports of the execution of U.S. soldiers taken prisoner by the Filipinos led to savage reprisals by American forces. Many American officers and soldiers called war a “nigger killing business”.

    As I said, war ain’t no game people. It’s not about being nice, nice is for after you win. Funny that, weren’t US forces fighting with Filipinos in WWII?! Who has a greater standard of living, Hawaii or Filip?


    In the south, Muslim Filipinos resisted until 1913— the so-called Moro rebellion. They were never part of Aguinaldo’s movement. During this conflict, the Americans realized a need to be able to stop a charging tribesman with a single shot. To fill this need, the Colt M1911 Handgun was developed for its larger .45 caliber ammunition (45 ACP), resulting in additional stopping power.

    Is Bush calling for us to adopt a bigger round than 5.56mm NATO? Bad PR Bush, even worse leadership. It’s not like history isn’t staring this guy in the face telling him what should be done.

    Just remmeber if you use .45 ACP or the 1911 .45. The gun was first designed to kill Muslims. Kind of gets out the argument of “let’s restrict hunting” eh? Handguns are not used for hunting they say, they should be banned they say. Okay, I digress.

  • Ymarsakar

    The leaders of the U.S. occupation — Elwell Otis, Arthur MacArthur, and William Howard Taft — presented elaborate theories on America’s racial mandate to rule. Experts on military science, experienced in the Indian wars of the American West, justified the destruction of villages and regarded the resulting civilian deaths as regrettable but unavoidable. By the time the hearings closed in June 1902, U.S. military efforts had achieved near-complete success and domestic criticism of U.S. policy in the Philippines had subsided. On July 4, President William McKinley declared the insurrection over. Nothing came of the hearings. 1

    There is no substitute to victory. I don’t pay much attention to the atrocity charges. They would say that about America after all. The point is, when you win, most people won’t care what you did to win. Human truism, can’t do anything about it.

    In so doing, they were able to engage in behavior that they would have considered barbaric if carried out against whites. Their writings allow us to see how Americans constructed an understanding of Filipinos, first as unfamiliar allies, then as wards, then as rivals, and finally as enemies.

    This backs the thesis that America, or at least Bush, no longer engages in such ruthless reprisals because Bush is a compassionate conservative that holds all races as equal.

    America is more cosmopolitan. But that ain’t always a positive thing you know. Cosmopolitanism has also lead terrorists to be treated as American soldiers and POWs. Well, not American soldiers emprisoned by Arabs, but just American soldiers treated by the US.

    So it isn’t as if you can have a “balanced” thing going on where you can have ruthlessness in the morning and mercy in the afternoon.

    The thing about atrocities is, when people apply it to America, is that they don’t know what “real atrocities” are. They are just ignorant. At the same time they say that japanese treatment of Filipinos is “harsh”, they say that America did atrocities. It’s for a simple reason after all. The japanese don’t care if you accuse them of committing atrocities while America does. Chink in our armor you might say.

    When Wainright surrendered, the American troops still wanted to fight. I know, they told me via interviews on the History Channel. Primary Source. Same for Wake Island. Why do you see again and again, the willpower of individual Americans remain unbroken in Vietnam and other places, only to have their “leaders” surrender their forces to hell?

  • Don Quixote

    Thank you all for the interesting posts. Just a few notes if I may:

    Danny, what a terrific closing line! You are right that civilizations rot from the inside out, and America is rotting. We must fix ourselves from the inside out.

    The image we present to the rest of the world is one of a strong arm and a weak heart. Among ourselves, the internal concensus of shared calues has totally broken down. Until we correct our internal problems we will not correct our external problems.

    Ravana, I don’t care if we raise taxes or lower spending, so long as we adopt the principle that we do not spend that which we do not have. Running a national deficit is nothing more or less than borrowing from our kids (who will get stuck with the bill). To me, this is a moral issue; we have no right to take from our children and a compelling duty not to. As for leaving Iraq prematurely, when will it not be premature? I do not believe we can accomplish our goal of installing a peaceful, democratic society there in 100 years. What can we accomplish, and will it be enough to allow us to leave?

    Dagon, good to see you are here. Hope you’ll join in the discussion.

  • jg

    “I do not believe we can accomplish our goal of installing a peaceful, democratic society there in 100 years”

    You may be right. But this is only part of the US goal. The whole goal is ‘carrying the fight to the enemy.’ In THEIR heartland.
    ONE of many Arab genocidal maniacs is gone. But there are more.

    I believe that STAYING in THEIR heartland is part of the only realistic answer. Sorry. It’s the oil. Even our Leftist friends love the luxury of an oil based economy.

    WEre the West, except Russia (who is playing many games), to invest more manpower on the ground in the Middle East, some stability might be assured. Of course, all Islamists HATE such a threat. They have nothing to fear as long as Europe and others play the game of ‘coexistence.’

    Soothe your conscience, then, by saying that we are balancing things in that troubled part of the world. Despite the ‘manufactured bad news’ from Iraq, think of the last 30 years. It’s certainly true that the MEast has been MUCH WORSE in the past. As Y has said, US Forces are living next to Iran. And in some way that holds for the present what no one wants: Israel attacking Iran, which surely Israel desires.

    For the moment. Can any one doubt that Iran plans a nuclear exchange sooner or later?

  • Ymarsakar

    People’s hearts are for caring about others, not for themselves. A strong heart comes from caring greatly and hating greatly as well. There will be little strength you can find from an already weakened America. There would be no reason to have a stronger heart, when there are no important people to care for.

    I don’t think you can correct the internal problems of apathy and “don’t cares” by therapy and psychoanalysis. It also doesn’t make people more cosmopolitan and enlightened about the world, when they are too busy looking after themselves. You’ll never get the support you want for foreign wars, in Filipines or Asian peninsula, unless the public believes it to be truth it. As Mark Twain once wrote about his own personal doubts. And you can’t convince people that it is worth it, when they all care about is domestic concerns and their own fractured political factions. So that’s why unlike Don, I favor solving external problems first, once external wars are won, internal problems disappear automatically. Everyone likes a winner, automatic unity. A common enemy also brings automatic unity, for a time.

    As for leaving Iraq prematurely, when will it not be premature?

    When the threat is over. Real example is Germany. Threat’s over, time to go. People still there however, and most people don’t care cause nobody is dieing in Germany. Serves as a logistical stop, so inertial keeps them there to feed the new war front.

    You can have logistics any here, so it is not premature to leave Germany now. And it was only 50 years, and this included two threats, Nazi and Stalin regimes. So halve it down, and it is more like, democracy in one generation. The time table I predict is also at play right now in Iraq. One generation.

    Dagon, good to see you are here. Hope you’ll join in the discussion.

    You can hope, I suppose.

    If it meant going into deficits to win a war, how would it be morally just to refuse to spend money and lose by Don’s standards? So, really, what we are talking about is a deterministic and unreliable standard, this moral principle of the deficit. It’s not the deficit that is the problem, it is the future of children that is the end goal. If that is the end goal, then anything that improves their lot is moral and anything that does not, is immoral. So the debate should be about what improves the future of children, not trying to decrease the deficit because you believe it to be immoral.

    You’re assuming that the deficit isn’t using short term resources for long term goals. That assumption is not questioned, instead, only the assertion that the deficit is immoral by the standards given. By the standards given, it is not that clear why current Bush policies is so wrong.

    This whole thing about leaving, Don, is inconsistent and nonsensical given your priorities. Your priority is domestic, losing or even trying to get out in Iraq will cause your domestic policy to fail defacto. So why the focus on getting out and arriving at a resolution in Iraq? If you are going to get there anyways, why not just use my priorities? They end up at the same place, Iraq first, then domestic problems as a priority.

    If you are prioritizing domestic first, foreign external latter, then you have to realize that you can’t include the victory of Iraq in your plans. Given that victory foreign wise, is not a prioritized resolution. Since it isn’t, the ramifications of that should be taken into account.

    Of course it would take more than 100 years, you’re looking at it and prioritizing everything from a domestic standpoint. Obviously that’s not going to produce a high power efficiency in the rest of the world.

    The more you want to get out, the longer Iraq lasts. The longer Iraq lasts, the more difficult it becomes to get any so called “shared values going” with a war dividing the nation, and no victory to unite it.

    The very act of focusing on domestic issues is presenting more of a weak heart to the world. Does it not prove that America is world weary and sick of it? Does it not prove that people like Don no longer believe in the power and efficacy of the military to accomplish miracles in one generation?

    The weakness is already here, it can no longer be contained by Don’s priorities in my view.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Y,

    I think we do fundamentally disagree. The military can work only certain miracles. What it cannot do is fix the rotting core of American morality and shared values, any more that fixing the Superdome can fix all of New Orleans’ problems (far less, in fact, since the military is hugely expensive and the Superdome brings in money once fixed). The problem with Iraq is that it is unwinnable. The threat will never be over and we will end up in a quagmire that, if your view is accepted, we will never get out of. You admit it will take more than 100 years and if you really believe America is willing to stay in Iraq for over 100 years you and I share such different views of America as to be unreconcilable. As for the balanced budget, I could see in extreme circumstances, where the continued existence of the civilization depends on it, unbalancing the budget. Three problems, though. First, Americans have a history of not balancing the budget even in good times. Second, I don’t think we are in that kind of extreme situation now, even given that we are at war with radical Islamists. Three, under your analysis, there is no limit on how much would be spent, it will go on for the next 100 years (and more) and our society will lie in complete fiscal ruin even if you ultimately prevail. Whatever else that is, it is not an answer to our problems.

    Hi jg,

    I like your point about keeping them busy in their own backyard and in dealing with Iran (if we do so), but the problem with the oil is that we aren’t taking advantage of it. We even are spending billions to rebuild Iraq and rather than making the Iraqis repay us with their oil money (or with the oil itself) we are place the bill on the back of our own children. This is madness.

  • ravana

    Danny – Yes, you are right about the economic growth rate. I’m a bit out of touch.

    Nevertheless, my point I think is still valid. I don’t think that at the current rate of economic growth, the current rates of taxation are going to generate enough tax income to finance the deficit, ceteris paribus. How do you propose to reduce the budget deficit? Or, are you unconcerned about it?

    Don Quixote – No argument with you, my man. I agree on the deficit. Good post by the way. One of the two sensible ones I’ve seen on this site. (The other being the last one on Unions – I think that was Bookworm’s).

    Yamarsakar – Being in Iraq costs money. Spending money means greater pressure on the deficit. Is it a tradeoff you are willing to make, or would you rather raise taxes, or cut spending elsewhere, or find some other solution?

  • Danny Lemieux

    Ravana- there doesn’t seem to be much choice about the deficit in the short term, except to “grow” the economy (GDP) in order to reduce national debt as a percentage of GDP. U.S. debt currently stands at about 65%, slightly below France (66%)and Germany (67%), but well ahead of the U.K. (42%) and the Scandinavian countries. Other measures, reform the entitlement programs (esp. Medicare and Social Security) and remove Congressional budget earmarking. Two things that I really fault Bush for are: a) creating a pharmaceutical entitlement program for all citizens and b)bungling the selling of and giving up on his Social Security initiative. If pigs could fly! The good news is that the U.S. still maintains the economic flexibility to create new jobs and grow the economy, something which, unfortunately, our European cousins lack. All being said, I nevertheless agree with you that there is plenty to be worried about, tempered by a recognition that our country has a tremendous capacity for course corrections when necessary.

  • jg

    DQ: Can you vision an alternative past where the 70’s Oil Embarge DIDN’T happen? OPEC no more than an acronomyn? The thousands upon thousands killed in Arab caused violence, lived? Peoples no longer mired in the worship of death and destruction,i.e. the Palestinians?
    A past/present where petro dollars made the AVERAGE ARAB better off? I have read that Qatar represents some of the above.
    Maybe Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey do, as well. That was the vision the President went for in deposing Saddam. It’s a vision the president of Iraq (who spoke yesterday about permanent American bases)says he seeks.

    Imagine: Seeing petrodollars as a BOON for those to whom the oil belongs. Are those riches available today to the masses of Venezuela, Nigeria, Russia (perhaps), much less the Middle East? Would Al Qaeda be other than a gang of thugs without the Western supplied wealth of Saudi Arabia? Ask the ghost of OBinLaden.
    To remake the Middle East for those who live there..

    By providing a basis for sanity.

    I think Bernard Lewis has counselled such. Maybe Bush saw Japan and Germany’s past rebirths as incentives.

    Perhaps to do better than that first attempt of the Allies after the first World War.
    Quixotic dream, we are told.
    Indeed, no one in the MSM even will discuss actually engaging Muslim culture; except Benedict. But there are dire consequences for not dreaming.

  • Ymarsakar

    The problem with Iraq is that it is unwinnable.

    That is a self-fulling prophecy in my view, Don. The statement is backed up by itself, circular logic.

    Things are different if this gordian knot is untied.

    The threat will never be over and we will end up in a quagmire that, if your view is accepted, we will never get out of.

    For one thing, I don’t want to get out of Iraq until the threat of Islamic Terror is fundamentally reduced to an acceptable level, meaning acceptable like Nazism is right now. Just as I did not think getting out of Germany was a “good thing” back in 1985, theoretically anyways. Having a forward base in a war is necessary, it’s not something you can decide based upon a whim or based upon your belief that something is unwinnable. Without a foward logistics base, it will be unwinnable.

    The only reason why a forward base would be a bad thing, Don Quixote, is if we accept your premise that Iraq is unwinnable. Then it’d be just a waste of time, a lot of money spent on Germany that could have been used to build fallout shelters because the Cold War was unwinnable, everyone would be dead sooner or later. That’s the premise historically transfered to the Cold War.

    You admit it will take more than 100 years and if you really believe America is willing to stay in Iraq for over 100 years you and I share such different views of America as to be unreconcilable.

    Actually, you misread. I said it would take more than 100 years if I used your priorities, i.e. premises. Meaning, if I believed Iraq was unwinnable, if I believed that I should focus on domestic concerns, then it would make sense that Iraq would take 100 years because it would take 100 years when you are starving Belisarius of military reinforcements cause your priorities are different. To use a historical metaphor, if you will recall Belisarius and Emperor Justinian.

    I said at the end, if I am not mistaken, that Iraq will take one generation (my own analysis), comparable to Germany and Japan once you remove the Cold War component. 50 years divided by 2, is more or less a generation. Someone born in 1950 will be 25, an adult, producing a whole new generation to take the lead. One generation to me, is not 100 years.

    Yamarsakar – Being in Iraq costs money

    Wars usually cost money, Ravana. That’s nothing new under the sun.

    . Spending money means greater pressure on the deficit.

    Spending money on the military is what the government is for, it is why it exists. Even Libertarians would agree with that.

    Is it a tradeoff you are willing to make, or would you rather raise taxes, or cut spending elsewhere, or find some other solution?

    Do you know what the total GDP/PPP of the United States is, Ravana? Off the top of your head that is? Do you know how that compares to other countries? I’ll tell you, in general. The United States makes so much money, that the military spending is a drop in the bucket compared to the total output capacity of the US. It’s not about a choice between going broke and spending money, it’s about a choice between spending money on pork projects or spending money on the military, I favor the latter.

  • Ymarsakar

    Of course we fundamentally disagree about the methods needed to arrive at an end goal, Don Quixote. I’ve said as much in the past. I’ve said the same about Skippy over at Sala’s site as well. That Skippy isn’t a Leftist, even though Leftists might agree with him, but rather that the arguments Skippy makes in contrast with others on the Republican side is simply this. An argument bewteen two Generals, one interested in Belisarius/Hannibal Barca approach, the other general interested in the big hammer approach based upon the book of warfare.

    Is it a fundamental difference, in their arguments? Perhaps. While they seek to accomplish the same goals, the generals have almost diametrically different means of arriving at that goal. So much so, that one precludes the other. Meaning, only one can be the right path. The other will lead to ruin. Thus you will have big and loud arguments between the two generals, because each believes himself correct, and each believes the other’s method will lead to ruin. The test will be based upon wisdom and reality.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Y,

    Let’s try not to have loud arguments, anyway. I think you have the cart before the horse. It looks like you think my cart doesn’t have any horses at all. As you say, reality (and time) will tell.

  • Ymarsakar

    Dean posted something about Iraq and three parts.

    I recommend people read it for more background on the debates here. It’s not going to convince Don Quixote, in my view, because it doesn’t come from inside America. So the matrixes are different.

    To Don,

    it ends up more or less like that, yes.

  • Ymarsakar

    BAGHDAD An average of more than 100 civilians a day were killed in Iraq last month, the highest monthly tally of violent deaths since the fall of Baghdad, the United Nations reported Tuesday.

    btw, from the article, nobody from the New York Times knows who is a civilian or a fake civilian in Iraq. Whatever estimates they have, are fallacious and specious.

    Not least of all because they state it as fact and do not explain in a Bookworm/Neo Neocon manner their methodology.

    The death toll, drawn from Iraqi government data, was an unusually precise count of civilian deaths and represented a dramatic increase over daily media reports.

    Their methodology probably looks something like, one guy misinterprets Iraqi gov figures, UN takes it, misinterprets it again, then reporters take it and misinterpret it thrice over. Ending up with what we got.

    UN officials also said that the number of violent deaths had been steadily increasing since at least last summer. In the first six months of this year, the civilian death toll jumped more than 77 percent, from 1,778 in January to 3,149 in June, the organization said.

    Why does the UN official report of “civilian death tolls” agree with the Iraqi one? Do people really think the UN or the New York Times knows a civilian from a non-civilian? They could not have found a correlation in Iraqi records unless they either misinterpreted the data, or simply were fed the wrong data by insurgent agents in the Iraqi government.

    Kufa is a stronghold of Moktada al- Sadr, the powerful Shiite cleric who has an enormous following among the Shiite poor and dispossessed in Baghdad and southern Iraq.

    Usually back in Byzantine times, people had to pay to get propaganda support like this, but now a days…. different times it seems. Dispossed and poor, sounds like some revolutionary slogan or lead up to one.

    Najaf, because of their largely Shiite populations and tight control by Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated security forces, have been largely spared the sort of sectarian violence that has ravaged mixed cities like Baghdad and Baquba.

    For the cosmopolitan New York Times, casting mixed Shia-Sunni areas as bad mojo, must have had a very bad strain on their consciences. Just kidding of course.

    But the attack Tuesday, coupled with several other recent suicide attacks in both cities, suggested an ominous deterioration in security, even among Iraq’s demographically homogeneous populations

    Crash. Did you see that one? They tried to lift your morale by saying Al Sadr was getting good security with his Shia thugs, and then (crash) not even that was true after they plugged in the but.

    Not very good propaganda, but at least they try.

    The attack underscored the futility, at least in the short term, of the government’s recent efforts to short-circuit the vicious cycle of sectarian violence that has defined life in Iraq.

    Since Don Quixote agrees with the “futility” lines, he wouldn’t find anything wrong with it. What the attack really underscores is how guillible and open to manipulation the media reporters are, when they think these attacks are to destabilize the iraqi government. No. These attacks are for their benefit, because when media reporters write about it, the attacks become worth while, even considering the negative reactions from the Iraqis.

    You don’t attack Al Sadr’s forces to “destabilize the government” (for one thing, he isn’t thje primary government), you attack him to promote an image of “sectarian strife”. An image doesn’t do any one good if nobody sees it. And they see it by reading, as Don Quixote here did, from the New York Times and other media outlets.

    UN officials said they had based their figures on tallies provided by two Iraqi agencies: the Ministry of Health, which collates violent deaths recorded at hospitals around the country; and Baghdad’s central morgue, where unidentified bodies are delivered.

    Wow. That’s like a judge asking the lawyers whether their clients are guilty or not, and basing the guilt and innocence of a person based upon which lawyer he trusted more. Something’s not right about that.

    Iraqi employees of The New York Times contributed from Kufa, Falluja, Kirkuk and Mosul

    Did you know that Iraqi interpreters and Iraqi police usually have death threats leveled at their families? And these are the people with power behind them, protected on base and by American troops. Why aren’t the terrorists targeting iraqi “employees”? Should be an easy mark after all, nobody protects them, it is rather easy to find out just by asking the reporter who his stringers are. Very easy to infiltrate as a stringer, to get the names of the other stringers. Journalists are not operators, after all, they don’t think in cloak and dagger lines. So why aren’t the insurgents putting a terror hold on Iraqi employees of the New York Times?

    Why should terrorists attack and hamper their greatest ally? No reason at all.

    In the greater scheme of things, Iraqi interpreters and Iraqi police pose more of a danger to terrorists than reporters and their stringers. If Truth was as important, as real, and as lethal as the journalists claimed it to be, why are terrorists not afraid of the truth unless it ain’t the Truth?

    The psychology going around here is pretty interesting.

  • Ymarsakar

    There’s also this one, about just some General strategy stuff.

    hattip to Neo Neocon.

    In one of its early paragraphs, the estimate notes progress in the struggle against terrorism, stating the U.S.-led efforts have “seriously damaged Al Qaida leadership and disrupted its operations.” Didn’t see that in the NYT article.

    Or how about this statement, which–in part–reflects the impact of increased pressure on the terrorists: “A large body of reporting indicates that people identifying themselves as jihadists is increasing…however, they are largely decentralized, lack a coherent strategy and are becoming more diffuse.” Hmm…doesn’t sound much like Al Qaida’s pre-9-11 game plan.

    The report also notes the importance of the War in Iraq as a make or break point for the terrorists: “Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves to have failed, we judge that fewer will carry on the fight.” It’s called a ripple effect.

    More support for the defeating the enemy on his home turf: “Threats to the U.S. are intrinsically linked to U.S. success or failure in Iraq.” President Bush and senior administration officials have made this argument many times–and it’s been consistently dismissed by the “experts” at the WaPo and Times.

    And, some indication that the “growing” jihad may be pursuing the wrong course: “There is evidence that violent tactics are backfiring…their greatest vulnerability is that their ultimate political solution (shar’a law) is unpopular with the vast majority of Muslims.” Seems to contradict MSM accounts of a jihadist tsunami with ever-increasing support in the global Islamic community..

    The estimate also affirms the wisdom of sowing democracy in the Middle East: “Progress toward pluralism and more responsive political systems in the Muslim world will eliminate many of the grievances jihadists exploit.” As I recall, this the core of our strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq.