Obama's Flawed Exit Strategy for Iraq

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In his official remarks about the end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, President Obama told an assembly of troops:

The war in Iraq will soon belong to history. Your service belongs to the ages. Never forget that you are part of an unbroken line of heroes spanning two centuries—from the colonists who overthrew an empire, to your grandparents and parents who faced down fascism and communism, to you—men and women who fought for the same principles in Fallujah and Kandahar, and delivered justice to those who attacked us on 9/11.

You’d never know that a signature of Obama’s 2008 campaign was his assertion that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a terrible mistake. (Actually, it was a crime, but let that go.) This was the main way he sought to distinguish himself as a candidate from his rival, Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize George W. Bush to use force against the Iraqi people on the thinnest of pretexts. True, you didn’t have to scratch very deep before discovering a waffle: At one point in 2008, Obama said he didn’t know how he would have voted on the authorization of force had he been in the Senate at the time.

Nevertheless, it is remarkable to see Obama talking about an aggressive war this way. It is also remarkable he could praise the troops without acknowledging the mind-numbing mess Iraq has been left in. It is estimated that over 100,000 Iraqis died direct violent deaths from the war. And Lancet has attributed a million excess deaths to the invasion, war, and occupation. Over four million Iraqis are refugees, about half of whom left the country and have yet to return to their homes.

Obama noted the American casualties but, of course, omitted any mention of Iraqi casualties. They don’t matter.

War crimes abounded, like the ones in Fallujah, Haditha, and Abu Ghraib. These horrors will be remembered forever—if not in the United States then certainly throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds—as will the U.S.-supported sectarian cleansing of Baghdad.

Obama concluded his remarks with the standard pabulum about sacrifice and American exceptionalism:

You will know that you answered when your country called; you served a cause greater than yourselves; you helped forge a just and lasting peace with Iraq, and among all nations.

Nonsense. The “country” didn’t call. It was just a hack politician with an agenda on the line. I’m reminded of a scene in Paddy Chayefsky’s antiwar movie, The Americanization of Emily, when the protagonist says, “We … perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices.” Portray war as noble, and many will be eager to be sent—and the country’s “misleaders” will be eager to send them.

There was no great cause: American hegemony is not a great cause. Many people died and otherwise had their lives ruined, and Iraq has been left a shambles; sectarian violence is again erupting. To be sure, Saddam Hussein was a nasty dictator, but left in his place is a state divided by sectarian violence and ruled by an authoritarian prime minister under a constitution that bears little resemblance to any protection of freedom.

Even in the American empire’s own terms there’s nothing to brag about. Unsurprisingly, the Iraqi government is aligned with Iran. The U.S. military got none of the permanent bases it wanted, and even the American oil companies lost out on the loot.

Obama will campaign on how he ended the war—which began not in 2003 but in 1991; the U.S. government tormented the Iraqi people for 20 years!—and conservatives will attack him for it. Both sides will conveniently forget that (1) the U.S. government was obligated to leave on Dec. 31, 2011, under an agreement signed by Bush, and (2) Obama tried his damnedest to get the Iraqi leaders to ask the U.S. military to stay. (Contrary to claims, not all troops have left.)

And let’s be clear: An exit from Iraq hardly constitutes an exit from the Middle East. The troops moved down the road to Kuwait, “repostured” for future use.

Meanwhile, sabers are being rattled in the direction of Iran and Syria, where covert warfare is already being waged.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. This article originally appeared at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Game Theory||

    Prisoner's Dilemma. Libertarians should study it.

    The Prisoner’s Dilemna provides the logical foundation of why civilization must always continue to grow. Each society faces a choice: do we continue to intensify production, adopt greater complexity, and increase the size or scale of our society, or do we happily accept the level we’re already at? If you choose not to intensify, you will be out-competed by those who do–and your lower level of intensity and complexity will become a resource they can absorb to fuel their further acceleration, whether by outright conquest or more subtle forms of economic or cultural exploitation.

    This is the underlying logic of Joseph Tainter’s argument concerning collapse in peer polities in The Collapse of Complex Societies. If one peer polity does choose to collapse, that region becomes a resource that can be exploited by its neighbors. Whoever conquers it first will have an advantage over the others in the continuing race of escalation.

    23 October 2005
    Thesis #12: Civilization must always grow.
    by Jason Godesky
    http://rewild.info/anthropik/thirty/index.html

  • GILMORE||

    Zero sum bullshit that fails every possible confrontation with reality outside of some fucking liberal arts seminar

  • Neo-Cons aren't Liberals||

    And they understand Game Theory.

    They understand the prisoner's dilemma WAY better than fucking liberals.

    And that's why we have to get our oil from under their sand.

    If not, BRIC will do it in a heartbeat.

    P.S. Only a libertard economist would think that oil isn't ZERO-SUM. Is DinoJesus making it for you, fundie-boy?

  • Libertards are good at poker||

    Not "prisoner's dilemma." We never even heard of that shit. It's not like we read Tainter and that hard stuff.

  • GILMORE||

    Fundie boy?

    If one is not an anti-civilizationist / primitivist gamboler, that makes one a fundie?

    Actually understanding how capitalism is in fact mutually beneficial, and creates added value rather than simply *exploiting* value from others, is "fundie" compared to your neo-malthusian nonsense?

    Please go fuck off and die already.

    P.S. Only a libertard economist would think that oil isn't ZERO-SUM

    Scarcity does not provide any basis for validating zero-sum theories economics. It simply suggests there will eventually come a day when the price of something is too high to justify its continued use in a given application.

    Also, you're a total fucking idiot


    • 1882 -- Institute of Mining Engineers estimates 95 million barrels of oil remain. With 25 milliion barrels per year output, "Some day the cheque will come back indorsed no funds, and we are approaching that day very fast," Samuel Wrigley says. (Pratt, p. 124).

    • 1919, Scientific American notes that the auto industry could no longer ignore the fact that only 20 years worth of U.S. oil was left. "The burden falls upon the engine. It must adapt itself to less volatile fuel, and it must be made to burn the fuel with less waste.... Automotive engineers must turn their thoughts away from questions of speed and weight... and comfort and endurance, to avert what ... will turn out to be a calamity, seriously disorganizing an indispensable system of transportation."

    • 1926 -- Federal Oil Conservation Board estimates 4.5 billion barrels remain.

    • 1932 -- Federal Oil Conservation Board estimates 10 billion barrels of oil remain.

    • 1944 -- Petroleum Administrator for War estimates 20 billion barrels of oil remain.

    • 1950 -- American Petroleum Institute says world oil reserves are at 100 billion barrels. (See Jean Laherre, Forecast of oil and gas supply)

    • 1956 -- M.King Hubbard predicts peak in US oil production by 1970.

    • 1966 - 1977 -- 19 billion barrels added to US reserves, most of which was from fields discovered before 1966. (As M.A. Adelman notes: "These fields were no gift of nature. They were a growth of knowledge, paid for by heavy investment.")

    • 1978 -- Petroleos de Venezuela announces estimated unconventional oil reserve figure for Orinoco heavy oil belt at between three and four trillion barrels (More recent public estimates are in the one trillion range).

    • 1979 -- Oil price spike; supply restrictions due to Midde Eastern politics.

    • 1980 -- Remaining proven oil reserves put at 648 billion barrels

    • 1993 -- Remaining proven oil reserves put at 999 billion barrels

    • 2000 -- Remaining proven oil reserves put at 1016 billion barrels.

    *Note: these expanding estimates of reserves were increasing at a time that rates of consumption were ALSO increasing way faster than inflation+pop growth.

    Despite this, the ratio of reserves to production/consumption has been flat for the last 30 years

    http://chartsbin.com/view/t3t

  • ||

    Ohhhhahahahahahaha! HEEehehee. He said "libtard" again... HAhahahahah!

  • chris||

    ++^ Gilmore

    Haven't seen a KO like that since mid nineties Roy Jone Jr.

  • chris||

    Jones -- keyboard getting old.

  • rather||

    Speaking of exits; A Canadian used his I-Pad as a electronic passport to enter the US
    http://news.smh.com.au/breakin.....1plji.html

  • Paul||

    Proof we need a border fence in the north.

  • McKenzie Brothers||

    Are we north?

  • Paul||

    No, you're hosers.

  • finally||

    Flawed? He got us out didn't he?

    Something your boy Bush couldn't do.

  • CalebT||

    Ron Paul comes in third, and the anti-libertarians come out to gloat.

  • ||

    Funny, I thought Bush did get us out. That was his timeline and his agreement Obama was carrying out.

  • ||

    Got us out?

    That is like a rapist telling a woman to be thankful that he pulled out.

  • Paul||

    Isn't that exactly what Obama is doing?

  • finally||

    Bush got us in there on outright lies in the first place.

    And never got us out.

    It took someone with the conviction and leadership of Obama to save us from Bush's monstrous illegal tyrannical invasion of a peaceful democratic nation.

  • Zeb||

    You are keeping up well. But the humor and novelty is wearing off. Try something else for a while.

  • Urkobold™||

    YES. ASCII PORN.

  • chris||

    Such a thing exists?

  • ||

    DO. NOT. GOOGLE.

  • wareagle||

    so obtaining not just a Congressional authorization to use force along with a UN resolution constitutes "monstrous illegal tyrannical invasions"? Just stop. Whatever one thinks of the Iraq invasion, EVERY Dem from Bill Clinton forward favored ousting Saddam. Why do liberals hate facts?

  • liberal consensus ||

    They are often used against us in ways that are very hurtful.

  • Mitch||

    koolaid taste good?

  • Barry||

    Thanks....I needed that. Oh..I left something on your face.

  • Dude!||

    Did you RTFA? The agreement to exit was made by Bush. I don't care that you hate him But deal with reality.

  • ||

    Hello, Dude!

    The agreement was to tentatively exit with a timeline from Bush. But ultimately, it was never going to come to fruition with congress wanting to keep the machine going.

    What got us out of Iraq, was Iraq denying any more immunity to prosecuting troops for war crimes going forward. Nothing more, nothing less.

    If that had not been done, we would still be there for the next century.

  • Almanian||

    If that had not been done, we would still be there for the next century

    Yes, the certitude of "what might have happened"

  • Mitch||

    We will either be back in Iraq in a few years, or come this year have a shooting war with Iran. (to help teh wuns reelection)

    teh wun just followed the withdrawel agreements that were settled in November 2008 so it was going to happen anyways whether teh wun was in office or not.

  • CalebT||

    I wonder if Obama was thinking "Yeah, I thought about being a Marine. Semper fi, devil-dawg."

  • Ice Nine||

    Laughable. It always makes me ill to watch him - and especially, Slick Willie - return the Marine's strack-ass salute with one of their manifestly insincere, limp-wristed numbers.

  • ||

    Obama will campaign on how he ended the war—which began not in 2003 but in 1991;

    Can't be said enough: we were at war with Iraq since the first Gulf War. Hussein regularly violated the cease fire; there were semi-regular exchanges of ordnance throughout the '90s.

    Its dead easy to argue that the second AUMF was legally unnecessary.

  • ||

    Most of our post-Gulf War destruction came from the air. Which, as this administration has taken many pains to point out, isn't war, killing, or anything triggering due process of law.

    Ergo, we weren't at war during the intervening years.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I wonder if Obama would have shrugged off Pearl Harbor. "All they did was bomb us a little."

  • ||

    No boots on the ground, after all. And we had it coming.

  • ||

    ""Can't be said enough: we were at war with Iraq since the first Gulf War.""

    How do you define the end?

    If a cease fire isn't enough, then we are still at war with Vietnam, and Korea.

    You can throw in how do you define a start of war? If bombing is enough, the count Yeman, Pakistan, Libya as wars.

    What other country is fighting more wars than we are?

  • ||

    How do you define the end?

    A peace treaty. Traditionally preceded by a short cease fire, to allow the paperwork to be drawn up.

    You can throw in how do you define a start of war?

    When one country's army crosses the border into another country without permission.

  • ||

    Bonus Question: define the Owebama presidency and how it relates to current world peace.

  • Paul||

    Many people died and otherwise had their lives ruined, and Iraq has been left a shambles; sectarian violence is again erupting. To be sure, Saddam Hussein was a nasty dictator, but left in his place is a state divided by sectarian violence and ruled by an authoritarian prime minister under a constitution that bears little resemblance to any protection of freedom.

    And on that note I remember the Halcyon days of the 90s when all of my liberal friends, to the last, bitched non-stop about how we needed to send troops to Rwanda to police the situation unfolding there.

    Then came George Clooney and our shameful cold-shoulder to Darfur.

    Then documentaries about both followed.

  • ||

    There is no international or domestic problem that can't be fixed with a three hour documentary that no one who doesn't already agree with the premise will see.

  • ||

    It's called "caring", and it makes people feel good about themselves, which is what matters. You should try it some time, jerk.

  • I Care||

    If caring about something makes you feel good about yourself...doesn't that make careing a selfish act?

  • Paul||

    The pattern that's emerged as I see it: Republican starts a war, liberal bitch about how we're not the worlds cop. Republicans refuse to go to war, liberals make documentaries about how we "permitted the suffering".

  • ||

    isn't there a part about famous Hollywierd types organizing a huge benefit to raise money that ends up in some dictators pocket?

  • Kristof||

    Read my latest column. Sean Penn is a better human being than you.

  • Mitch||

    Don't know about being a better human....but Penn does make the better douchebag.

  • ||

    Was Obama supposed to tell the troops the truth? That the war had been a big waste of time and 4400 of them had died for nothing?

    Now Libya, that is the way to take out a despotic terrorist leader. Help his own people kill him without leaving a footprint from a US soldier (if you have to do something like that).

  • Paul||

    Now Libya, that is the way to take out a despotic terrorist leader. Help his own people kill him without leaving a footprint from a US soldier (if you have to do something like that).

    Just bombprints.

  • Mike M.||

    Democrat bombs are super-special and only kill the bad guys.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Take out a despotic leader and replace him with militant Islamists. Success!

  • ||

    "Militant Islamists" is redundant.

    It will take one of those shitty countries years to form another oppressive government - much less a decent military.

    Egypt is more likely to weaken while flailing around fighting each other.

  • wareagle||

    "Militant Islamists" is redundant.
    ---------------------------
    while the above is true, it is also worse than Qaddafi. Ditto for Mubarak. But almighty Obama knew what would follow each man, which makes him malevolent. Not knowing would simply make him grossly incompetent, which he has already shown on the domestic front.

  • ||

    ""Obama knew what would follow each man""

    How would Obama know? As an executive he relies on other people to tell him what the deal is. They are government workers and I hear government workers are the worst and very incompetent.

    Kidding aside

    What would follow was largely unknown beyond a generalized understanding.

  • ||

    circa 1950. who'd a thunk it?

  • Mitch||

    His actions were predicated on "educated guesses" about what was thought would happen. Which so far has not gone according to said "educated guesses." Either it was dumb or retarded actions or in worst case scenario it was, as mentioned in wareagles post, malevolent actions created to cause further trouble for the US.

  • intrepid demise||

    "Help his own people kill him without leaving a footprint from a US soldier (if you have to do something like that)."

    Because that worked out so well for us in Iran. And Argentina. And Cuba. And the Philippines. And a dozen other countries around the world. "Blowback" is real, folks. When the citizens of other countries find out we've been fucking with their politics, they're usually pretty pissed. Sometimes they're pissed enough to attack our embassies. Other times they're pissed enough to attack us on our own soil. There is no easy way to get rid of a dictator, but heaven forbid we should allow another country to do it themselves.

  • Robert||

    This is what Sheldon should keep in mind. He's the president of the United States, he's not going to tell the troops they've been a waste. Come on, Sheldon, this comes with the job. People need to be buttered up. It's silly to complain that they do that.

  • Mitch||

    Troops know when they are being buttered up, and for the most part didn't have a choice in suffering through the speech.

  • Mitch||

    Yep we are gonna pay for the results of our invovlement in Libya given time, hopefully we won't have to send troops when teh wun's crap bites us in the ass.

  • Mitch||

    So should we take out Syria's oppressive leader now? He seems to be a lot worse than Gaddaffi at the moment.

    What about Azanababnutjob from Iran? That government too is brutal and oppressive to its citizens.

    Or do we just bomb those with weak defenses?

  • illini||

    No such thing as a complete exit. Need to set realistic expectations with the American public. Military is still in Germany, Japan, Korea all over 50 years after the fact. We aren't leaving Iraq and we aren't leaving Afgy.

  • kinnath||

    I believe that is one of the fundamental points that Ron Paul has been trying to make.

  • ||

    How that working out for him?

  • chris||

    More important, how is that working out for us?

  • Daniel||

    Dumb article.

    Basically he's railing against Obama for saying nice things to the troops and not calling them out as war criminals when addressing them.

    Otherwise it pounds on a bunch of strawmen, "sabre rattling" against Iran and Syria and having troops in Kuwait.

    Reason usually has very interesting articles and commentary. Oh well, nobody bats 1.000.

  • Paul||

    Basically he's railing against Obama for saying nice things to the troops and not calling them out as war criminals when addressing them

    No one is calling the soldiers who fought in a politician's illegal war, war criminals.

    And you can't see the forest for the trees. You don't think he could have crafted that speech any differently, thanking the troops for their sacrifices when their country called (read politicians) without making an explicit tie-in to 9-11?

  • Daniel||

    Oy vey. The article and your response to my comment, turn an innocuous speech to the troops into... well I'm not quite sure.

    And while we're splitting hairs here, he merely said that the troops' sacrifices were important and that they fought the good fight like the USA always does. Oh the humanity!!!

    Presidents say patriotic things to the troops when addressing them. Get over it.

  • Paul||

    And apparently they do patriotic things too, like start new conflicts and continue the old ones.

    Hope and change: Glad you got over it.

  • Daniel||

    Nice to see that you picked up where the author left off. Again, the article cites things that have absolutely nothing about Obama's Iraq strategy or policies, to wit, an innocuous speech, bad things that happened under the watch of another President, and things that have no connection to the Iraq war at all such as sabre-rattling viz other countries and stationing of troops in Kuwait. The author, and you for that matter, might as well have claimed that Obama's handling of the Iraq war is flawed because he hasn't pulled troops out of South Korea. The whole thing is a non-sequitur.

    And on your ad hominen attack, I didn't vote for Obama (in fact, sat out the last election) and have yet to purchase my very own hope and change t-shirt.

  • ||

    I don't think you understand. Here at Reason, we must take a side and rage against who ever is currently in power.

    We don't serve your kind here.

  • Mitch||

    I guess the resolutions in 2003 authorizing use of force were authored by the troops and voted for by the troops.

  • Mitch||

    The left sees the military as war criminals, baby killers, murderers, or when they try to be halfway positive maybe victims.

    As in the vein of Clinton....they "loathe" the military.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...to you—men and women who fought for the same principles in Fallujah and Kandahar, and delivered justice to those who attacked us on 9/11.

    Obama's teleprompter is a war hawk. What can you do?

  • Paul||

    No, his speechwriter is a Union man with seniority.

  • kinnath||

    I got hooked on Boss (Starz) last fall. I kept imagining Barak Obama as an aging, corrupt Chicago politician with a degenerative brain disease.

    The last three years suddenly made so much more sense to me.

  • ||

    This article is terrible, and filled with unsubstantiated climes and hysterical rhetoric
    No war crimes occured in Haditha, nor Fallujah as you postulated. Haditha was certainly questionable, and an investigation was performed, and the suspected Marines were cleared. While you could argue a cover-up, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree that it's likely, just because a military ruling is extremely questionable does not give intellectual or ethical licence to then make basis accusations afterward. You need to provide credible evidence that any war crimes were committed in Haditha before you can use this as a talking point. That is, if you actually want credibility.
    As to the Fallujah accusation; I thought that line of reasoning was limited to the tin-foil hat types. (Maybe it still is?).
    I was there, right in the middle of things, and have a chunk of steel embedded in my forehead to show for it. I prayed to the Flying Spaghetti Monster to be allowed to call in white phosphorous, but sadly (yes, sadly. War is supposed to be awful. That's how you win. Whether we should have been there or not is moot during combat) not only was it unavailable, no conventional artillery or mortar units are even issued any aside from illumination rounds (which cannot provide significant tactical support aside from illumination), nor do any troopsget training in how to effectively and/or safely employ such rounds. Exactly like we get zero training on how to use Napalm. It is no longer a weapon in the US arsenal, and it hasn't been for decades.
    Once again cite a source. A credible one, with evidence. Trace amounts of phosphorous won't be sufficient either, since every illumination rounds contains phosphorous to make it, you know, illuminate.

    Your numbers of deaths for the war are vastly inflated from anything else I've seen from credible sources. Again, please show us where this data comes from. Furthermore, how many of those were inflicted by outside organizations or domestic Iraqi terrorist groups? The US certainly bears a not small measure of responsibility for creating the near anarchy that allowed those groups to take root and thrive, but it bears NO responsibility for their unconscionable behavior. Same as Israel bears a significant amount of responsibility for the horrible conditions they inflict upon the Palestinian terrorities, but bears no ethical responsibility for the indiscriminate killings the Palestinians frequently resort to in an attempt to achieve... whatever is they're trying to achieve that week.

    From the the wikipedia entry (!) you used to defend your own claims, 4th paragraph:
    " The Lancet surveys are controversial because their mortality figures are higher than most other reports, including those of the Iraqi Health Ministry and the United Nations, as well as other household surveys such as the Iraq Living Conditions Survey and the Iraq Family Health Survey. The 2007 ORB survey of Iraq War casualties estimated more deaths than the Lancet due to the interval between surveys but is otherwise consistent with the Lancet findings.[5] Out of all the Iraqi casualty surveys so far, only the Lancet surveys and the Iraq Family Health Survey were peer-reviewed. The Lancet surveys have triggered criticism and disbelief from some journalists, governments, the Iraq Body Count project, some epidemiologists and statisticians and others, but have also been supported by some journalists, governments, epidemiologists and statisticians.[6] "

    "I’m reminded of a scene in Paddy Chayefsky’s antiwar movie, The Americanization of Emily, when the protagonist says, “We … perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices.” Portray war as noble, and many will be eager to be sent—and the country’s “misleaders” will be eager to send them."

    Yeah whatever Walt Whitman. Here's something you probably already know if you're honest with yourself. Everyone knows war is awful. Every kid who enlisted and selected a combat arms MOS post 9/11 knew what he was getting himself into. We all watched Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, etc etc We got hundreds if not thousands of lectures from our parents, teachers, and politicians about the horrors of war. If they ever existed at all, the days where war was viewed as some grand adventure are long dead. But here's something you don't know. Even though war is just as horrible and worse than everyone told us it would be, or maybe because of that actually, it is simultaneously the most wonderful and glorious thing a human can partake in. It's also extremely boring, miserable, hilarious, loud, exciting, etc etc.
    It's life turned up to eleven. And despite what people like you and our parents told us, people who'd never actually seen combat I'd like to point out, many, if not most people who actually fight (read: less than 20% of the deployed US forces) end up loving the job, the terrors included.

    None of that justifies a foreign invasion of course. On that we don't disagree. I take issue with your hyberbolic near-screaming and hysterical ranting. Nonsense like this article only serves to push people further from libertarian ideals and candidates like Ron Paul. Your gross exagerations and questionable claims don't further the cause you're trying to support. They shoot holes in it just waiting for everyone else to point out how silly they are, and thus lend discredit upon the ideals themselves. I love Reason, and am sad that this article got front page treatment.

    tl:dr grow up

  • Team Red Warmongerer||

    You wrote all that to say you get war boners?

  • Tman||

    Whenever I read an article that contains the line "To be sure, Saddam Hussein was a nasty dictator, but" I pretty much skip the rest because I then know that the author is a total fucking asshole.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I liked the bit about how killing people for baseless causes is the most glorious event in his life. Pretty sad, but scary--in a budding sociopath way--at the same time.

  • Tman||

    Did you see Restrepo? There's a scene after a firefight where one of the soldiers talks about the "high" of getting shot at and how there is nothing else like it. He's then asked what he's going to do when he gets home after experiencing that kind of high.

    He answers "I have no idea". Chilling.

  • chris||

    I have a cousin, a complete retard in my estimation (for other reasons), who just reenlisted this week, for pretty much the same reason. The most meaningful moment in his life was when shrapnel tore through his shoulder in Afghanistan a few years ago. He served a tour after that one ended his first one. Got out last August. Got a job making furniture that pays pretty well. Hates civilian life and is now going back. A complete retard.

  • ||

    He's a complete retard for enjoying something you cannot fathom as being a positive experience?

    You said for other reasons initially, then apparently used his fondness for his job to support that assertion.

    So why is he a retard?

  • k2000k||

    Not as uncommon as you think. From what I have heard there is a draw to that type of lifestyle. While the entire conflict might be mired in ambiguities on a large scale. For the soldier it is much simpler. There are people you kill and people you don't. Not to mention that civilian life is more chaotic, in the non comabt sense, than military life. A lot of guys have a hard time adjusting, its the top brasses fault frankly.

  • ||

    No it isn't. The adjustment back to the 'real world' (one that I'm failing at as we speak, I might add) is as ancient as war itself.

    Professional troops do the job because they love the job. They always have.
    it's not really all that mysterious if one just removes all the hype, positive and negative, associated with warfare.

    Carpenters do the job because they love the job. If a man who had dedicated 10 years or more of his life to carpentry was told his love of that occupation was immoral and weird and terrible after everyone had just spent a decade paying him for the product he was producing and telling him how much they appreciate what he was doing, would it really be any surprise he had difficulty adjusting to an entirely different line of work?

  • Mitch||

    Well its a good thing we are cutting the military...that way we can have more people on welfare at a cheaper rate. Its not like there are any jobs at the moment and if teh wun is reelected unemployment will remain high.

  • soupwell||

    Carpenters don't abdicate their moral judgment to "superiors". Carpenters don't intentionally kill people in their own homes.

    I agree that we send our troops mixed messages, but that doesn't make the actions those troops choose moral or immoral.

    I have great sympathy for people who join the military at a young age, then come to realize they don't agree with the things they are asked to do. I came very close to joining the military myself before I developed a clear understanding of my moral foundations. If I had gone through with it, I would be struggling today to reconcile myself with the things I would have been asked to do. I do not envy others in that position.

    However, there are those such as yourself who think that "Even though war is just as horrible and worse than everyone told us it would be, or maybe because of that actually, it is simultaneously the most wonderful and glorious thing a human can partake in."

    That someone else (or even a large number of somebodies) encouraged you and your colleagues to do the things you did does not excuse you from the moral responsibility for those actions.

    I'm sure it is exhilarating to be shot at. I'm sure the adrenaline rush accompanying shooting another human being is intense. I hope I never have to experience it first hand. I encourage you to find another way to get that rush and find whatever glory you require.

  • Mitch||

    Thats a fucking movie numbnuts...you think hollywood is gonna show reality?

  • Tman||

    Hey dummy, did you see Restrepo?

    It wasn't filmed in Hollywood.

    Here stupid- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DjqR6OucBc

  • Mitch||

    My bad...I was thinking of redacted.

  • Mitch||

    Might have been a documentry but doesnt mean the thing doesnt has structural biases of those who made it like other hollyweird products. Why go to Sundance or let it be nominated in the Academy awards, or theatrically release the film? So it was tangentially a hollyweird product.

  • The Left||

    Good point Montani...all soldiers are sociopaths,babykillers, and murderers.

    Its ok to say that cause we on the left are always correct in our assumptions.

  • ||

    I detest unwitting moral relativists and "EVERYTHING AMERICAN IS FUUUUUUUUUUUU" liberaltarians as much as anybody can, but do you think Iraq was worth it?

  • ||

    absolutely not.

  • Mitch||

    Team Blue only supports Team Blue wars.

  • Daniel||

    Even if all the stuff the author says is true, it has nothing to do with what the apparent thesis of the article is, namely that Obama's Iraq strategy was flawed. Rather, it's just another laundry list of bad things about the Iraq war, because no one has ever engaged in that exercise before.

    It's a poor piece of writing.

  • DJF||

    """it is simultaneously the most wonderful and glorious thing a human can partake in.""'

    So you kill for thrills. But why should I pay for it and why must you do it in my name? Next time you want to destroy a city to save it, do it on your own and don't drag the rest of us in on it.

  • ||

    I don't "kill for thrill."
    You and some of the other posters may be surprised, but war is complicated, and the associated emotions and motivations for it are as well.

    furthermore, I made it clear in the long winded rant that I do not believe the invasion was justified, so any childish 'neener neener' bullshit that you and a few other threw out only serves to make you look even more foolish.

  • k2000k||

    Not to mention the oil companies thing. Whenever there is an allusion about war and oil it brings me closer to having a stroke. Iraq was never about oil, ever. It was simply this. The US goverment wanted to exert more influence in the middle east, afgahnistan is too isolated from the rest of that part of the world to matter, and they saw toppling a dictator a way to do it. Whether or not the war was a great victory or a disaster did not matter, both outcomes were acceptable to the goverment. Iran doesn't gain as much as people think from Iraq being somewhat in their influence, and the other arab nations are brought closer under American influence because of their fears of a growing Iran. Even without Iraqi bases the US has increased its influence with the regimes in the area. 4000 American lives, hundreds of billions of dollars, and the fact that we would have been fine if we never went into that nation means nothing to it (it being the goverment).

  • Mitch||

    Next time you want to enslave people to a broken welfare system leave me out of it.

  • ||

    This reflects many of the statements from most of the (combat) veterans from Iraq with whom I have spoken. It's one thing to question the reason for going to war, the execution of said conflict by the politicians and generals (often the same creatures with different titles), but this article appears to me to accuse the US of unleashing a mob of deranged lunatics upon the quivering innocents of Iraq.

    It's always tempting to try to make the emotional appeal exposing the terrible results of war into the basis for the argument against it. Ultimately, though, ignoring the principles behind opposing this war in favor of pandering to visceral responses to the harm caused to civilians, criminal or unintentional, which occur in EVERY war, hurts the credibility of the initial principle of military engagement for defense purposes only.

    Worst of all, painting our soldiers as criminals, or pawns in a pointless war, cheapening the risk taken and the sacrifices made, alienates our soldiers from the country they are supposed to be defending. And it guarantees the supporters of this tactic a solid place on the fringe of public discourse. Right between the smelly dreadlock guy and...

    "Before Team America showed up, it was a happy place. They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles." - Sean Penn.

  • ||

    Or, what Daniel said, but A LOT wordier. Crap.

  • GILMORE||

    See, Obama needed to get elected in 2008 = so he opposed the war as an outsider who'd end this foolish waste of resources initiated by his evil GOP predecessor!

    Now Obama needs to get re-elected in 2012, so he supports the troops who've been enforcing *his* policy, which fails to differ in any material way from his evil GOP predecessor!

    it makes sense, really! basically,

    TEAM BLUE MOTTO: ITS OK WHEN WE DO IT

  • ||

    TEAM BLUE (INSERT NAME HERE) MOTTO: ITS OK WHEN WE DO IT

  • ||

    what

  • Blacksmithing||

    We've always been at war with Eastasia.

  • ||

    "There was no great cause: American hegemony is not a great cause."

    Forceful American hegemony attained and maintained by military might? In that case, I agree. American cultural hegemony (or, theoretically, even political hegemony achieved by voluntary subordination) peacefully achieved? No.

    The candid, no-bullshit summary of my take on this: I never have, do not, and never will give a shit about Iraq, and wasting civilizational amounts of resources and sending thousands of Americans to their deaths for Iraq is morally and practically unjustifiable. Fuck interventionists, and fuck Iraq.

  • k2000k||

    Thats perhapes the most frustrating thing. America doesn't need to invade other nations to exert a hegemonic influence. It's status as a cultural and economic behemouth does that alone. I mean even with all the terrible things that have been done in the middle east there are many young individuals in that part of the world that are drawn to our culture and lifestyle. Frankly, if hegemony or spreading our way of life is the goal, military action only hinders that progress.

  • ||

    Alexander the Great knew how to civilize that part of the world: kill the men, and marry off their women to your guys.

    Since we're not willing to do that, we shouldn't even waste our time trying.

  • ||

    Fuck me, the Colin Farrell 'Alexander' movie blew so many balls. So awful.

  • Paul||

    Oliver Stone should stick to interviewing Castro. Or better yet, deconstructing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

  • kinnath||

    That's roughly the same approach that the US took with its indigenous populations.

  • GILMORE||

    Meh, not technically. We killed the women too, mostly.

    And in the 1838-39 forced relocation of eastern tribes, there were a number of communities of "modernized" Indians - who spoke only English, attended university, and knew almost nothing of tribal life - who were rounded up and sent packing to the reservations as well. Shacking up with squaws was losing popularity even in Lewis & clarke's time. And we really only started killing em in earnest later. And given that in early parts of the Indian wars, mercenaries would get bounty pay for scalps... Well, a scalp is a scalp is a scalp, if you see what I mean. Hard to tell apart. And Indian killers were not noted for their chivalry

    Neither here nor there.

  • seguin||

    And Indians, when capable, would visit some pretty brutal horrors on settlers...considering they're the ones who originated scalping.

    Frankly smallpox did the vast majority of the killing. Indian-American relations of the 19th century were WAY more complicated than your typical professor is willing to teach.

  • Gojira||

    And his empire lasted about 10 minutes after his death. Sure, the ruling families of several of the broken-apart factions remained in power, but they became more "oriental" in their outlook than their subjects became occidental in their culture.

  • first||

    There is something other-worldly about Ryonen. It’s got a lot to do with her flawless milk-white complexion.

    Mostly it is her eyes that captivate us. They are like pools hinting at mysterious depths. Let’s not forget the rest of her though. This petite 21 year old girl is rich in sensuous curves and perfectly formed in every way. Swimming and yoga keep her gorgeous body in peak condition.

    Ryonen’s talents have many facets. She is a student at university in her home town of Portland, Oregon. She is devoted to fashion and all aspects of art nouveau, as well as off-beat photography. Her interest art is wide ranging and original. “I love strange and interesting poses” she tells us “and I love to create images of beauty and terror, joy and sadness.” Studies of the nude form have always fascinated her.

    Now it’s time for the practical.

    http://www.hegre-art.com/models#action=show&id=222

  • Almanian||

    Have we won in the Korean peninsula Viet Nam Somalia Bosnia Iraq Libya yet?

    I'm counting Germany in the #WINNING column now that Berlin is back together.

  • Andy||

    Not also to mention the number of civilian "contractor", err private security company, deaths. They do not have to be reported in the total number of US forces killed. For the first time in history, The US is essentially replacing who would be allied nations in our coalition forces with these companies. Can you imagine your nation not just being occupied by soldiers serving their duty to their country, but also "contractors" who are being paid to be there?

    I'm all for free markets, but for some reason I see these private military companies as much more capable of restricting liberty than US servicemen and women serving the constitution. Perhaps I'm just paranoid.

  • ||

    Your articile is as shallow as your comments section - given length by poor references, overly opinionated drivel, and political science 101 terminology. The truly stupefying idea is that ANY president would go to our troops and not thank them for what they have done because he did not support the decisions that led to this useless war. Demoralizing the troops would be the only alternative to the methods Obama did use, which you decry. Such garbage you write. . . .

  • Pants||

    Ummm...you spelled article wrong. Unless its a new spelling that just came out.

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