A Quick Five or Six Years

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John Kerry is now promising to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq by the end of his first term, while President Bush refuses to say how long the occupation will last. Forget for a moment the credibility of Kerry's promise, and put aside the wisdom of making such announcements. If the war in Iraq had been sold based on the assumption that the occupation would continue for more than five years, how many members of Congress would have voted for it?

NEXT: Kerry "On the Ropes"?

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  1. But, isn’t this part of the grand plan? I believe that some on this forum have suggested that one of the reasons for invading Iraq was to get a geographic foothold for anti-terrorism operations.

    And what could possibly go wrong with occupying a country in an unstable region for several years? It’s not like we’ll inflame people who might respond violently, perhaps attacking the US mainland instead of forces overseas.

    Oh, wait a minute…

  2. “If the war in Iraq had been sold based on the assumption that the occupation would continue for more than five years, how many members of Congress would have voted for it?’

    I’d put the over/under in the Senate at 28, House at 190.

  3. I wonder how many miles away the next Beslan will have to be from your kid’s school before you buy a clue. We are in the middle of WWIV here and you are quibbling on whether or not to surrender. We don’t have any other options left other than draining the swamp in the Middle East, and you carp and piss and moan.

  4. John Kerry is now promising to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq by the end of his first term

    No, he didn’t. He promised to *try* to bring the troops home. That leaves him plenty of weasel room to leave the troops there, blame Bush, and still claim to have been technically honest.

    Anyway, to answer your question: that depends on what you mean by “occupation”. It has always been a given that our troops would be remaining in Iraq for years, and probably decades, just as they have in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. Would we have invaded if we thought we’d still be *fighting* in Iraq in five years? I don’t know. But it’s worth remembering that we’d already been fighting in Iraq for 12 years by the time the war officially started. It is, in any case, a moot point, since it seems quite unlikely that the insurgency will last that long.

    It’s not like we’ll inflame people who might respond violently, perhaps attacking the US mainland instead of forces overseas

    The problem with that theory is that we suffered multiple attacks on our mainland prior to invading Iraq, and have suffered none since. Which doesn’t prove that invading Iraq made us safer, of course, but it does put the burden of proof on you to demonstrate that it’s made us less safe.

  5. Matthew Cromer,

    This is an awfully quiet world war.

  6. Exactly when did we get mission shift?
    Afghanistan was sold as a killing expedition to satisfy domestic blood lust.
    The first hint of shift was when Dubya air-dropped those little food packages in the Afghanistan mountains.
    Now the mission is nation-building/crusading for the lord.

  7. I wonder how many miles away the next Beslan will have to be from your kid’s school before you buy a clue.

    Matthew-

    We don’t need to buy the clue, our fearless leaders need to inform us of this clue instead of “surgar coating” the truth. Bush said something rather refreshing by suggesting the war on terror may never be fully won, but only to later recant and say something completely the opposite. If we are really deep into WWIV, why won’t a politician say so?

  8. No, he didn’t. He promised to *try* to bring the troops home. That leaves him plenty of weasel room to leave the troops there, blame Bush, and still claim to have been technically honest.

    Wow, Kerry uses the same sorts of weasel words that Bush does. 🙂

    It has always been a given that our troops would be remaining in Iraq for years…

    Is that true?

    …just as they have in Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

    The important difference here is that in neither Germany nor Japan were US forces under the sort of fire they find themselves today in Iraq.

    But it’s worth remembering that we’d already been fighting in Iraq for 12 years by the time the war officially started.

    There is a significant difference between the occassional bombing run and deploying some 130,000 soldiers on the ground there.

    It is, in any case, a moot point, since it seems quite unlikely that the insurgency will last that long.

    Given the hawks poor track record on the length, intensity and even existance of the insurgency I will take your comments with a grain of salt.

  9. s.a.m.,

    Yes, that was a classic flip-flop if there ever was one; on par with a Kerry flip flop in fact.

  10. We are in the middle of WWIV here

    Eh? Did I miss Number Three?

  11. [Kerry] promised to *try* to bring the troops home. That leaves him plenty of weasel room to leave the troops there, blame Bush, and still claim to have been technically honest.

    Query whether the purpose of the question wasn’t to stake out a position, but to raise in voters’ minds the question of how much longer American troops are going to be in Iraq, which in turn raises the question of how necessary it was for them to be there in the first place. When voters think about that question, W. does not benefit.

  12. Dan-

    Bin Laden cited the troops stationed in Saudi Arabia as one of his grievances against the US. I suspect that some Iraqis will come to feel similarly about troops in Iraqi if we spend a few more years fighting insurgents over there.

    And I didn’t realize it was a given that we’d have bases in Iraq for decades. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether the strategic advantage fully compensates for the antagonism produced. Don’t assume that the strategic advantage definitely compensates. If the antagonism leads to new enemies attacking us here in the US, those bases won’t be terribly useful.

    Matthew-

    Beslan didn’t happen just because the Middle East is a swamp. Beslan happened because of Russia’s policies in Chechnya. Yes, I heard the reports that some of the terrorists were Arab rather than Chechen, but the motivation was Russia’s treatment of Chechnya’s predominantly Muslim population.

    Imagine if I stick my hand in a hornet’s nest. I get stung. Suppose I then say that I got stung because hornets are feisty insects with stingers. That is indeed true, but I’ve glossed over crucial links in the chain of cause and effect.

    Even worse, imagine that I conclude “Well, those nasty little hornets need to be defeated!” So I go around finding hornet nests, picking them up, and smashing them. I’m completely baffled as to why all these angry hornets emerge and sting me. But I conclude that I should keep doing what I’m doing until I’ve defeated them.

    I think that’s a decent metaphor for Mr. Cromer’s attitude.

  13. I can’t believe Kerry said this!

    Kerry just communicated to our enemies in Iraq that if he is elected they just need to hold on four years and we will leave. He just communicated to our allies that if he is elected we will abandon them within four years. Kerry is just a Nixon flashback. He really is stuck in Vietnam.

    Jumping Jeebus! Game theory 101 says never define a terminal time for a game as it locks in all strategic options. Setting a time goal for withdrawal, even a distant one, alters behavior here and now.

    The insurgency is premised on the idea that a trickle of causalities will cause the US to abandon Iraq just as we abandoned Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia etc. Kerry just played straight into this strategy. They now know that if they can hold out Kerry is committed to withdrawing US troops within 4 years.

    Kerry is clearly a foreign policy amateur. He views all foreign policy only through the lens of internal politics. He seems to have no understanding that the things he says directly influences the course of the war.

  14. Gary-

    Funny how when one points out the sliver in someone else’s eyes, they always overlook the log in theirs!

  15. Shannon-

    Speaking as one of the people bankrolling the war in Iraq (I make my donation to the cause every April 15 :), I appreciate a timetable for this long term project that I’m required to fund

  16. E. Naeher, in many recent academic and military writings on the new geopolitical environment, the Cold War is refered to as WWIII and the GWOT is called WWIV.

  17. “Which doesn’t prove that invading Iraq made us safer, of course, but it does put the burden of proof on you to demonstrate that it’s made us less safe.”

    In calculations of safety, let’s not negelct the 1000 Americans who have perished in Iraq, and the 1000’s who have been maimed.

    Matthew Cromer:

    “We are in the middle of WWIV…We don’t have any other options left other than draining the swamp in the Middle East”

    What nonsense! The option that we ought to take is to drain the DC swamp of neocons. Had we done that before, 1000 Americans wouldn’t have needlessly lost their lives.

  18. Oh yeah, JS, that’s right.

    Members of Congress can’t think for themselves.

    Only take at face value whatever the Executive tells them.

  19. Deep breaths, Shannon. In…out…in…out.

    Here’s Kerry’s quote – “We want those troops home, and my goal would be to try to get them home in my first term,” Mr. Kerry said, speaking to a fellow Vietnam War veteran who asked about his timetable for withdrawal at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania.

    Are you saying that you are outraged that John Kerry is going to try to have the situation wrapped up within four years? Are you saying George Bush, as he fights the evil doers, isn’t going to try to make Iraq safe for the withdrawel of American troops within fourt years?

  20. The important difference here is that in neither Germany nor Japan were US forces under the sort of fire they find themselves today in Iraq.

    In order for the American fatalities in Iraq to equal those from the wars against Germany and Japan the Iraq war will have to last until around the year 2500. Now, granted, we suffered fewer casualties after occupying those countries, but only because we utterly annhilated them first, killing most of their able-bodied men, plus millions of additional civilians, and completely destroying their ability to wage war. We waged the Iraq war in a much more humanitarian fashion, which means there were still troublemakers left alive when we sent in the occupying force.

    Given the hawks poor track record on the length, intensity and even existance of the insurgency I will take your comments with a grain of salt

    As opposed to the doves, who predicted American defeat, tens of thousands of American war dead, the millions of Iraqi war dead, the collapse of the entire Middle East into violent anarchy, the use of chemical and biological weapons, and waves of terrorist attacks on the US mainland.

    Sure, the hawks have been wrong about a few things. The doves were wrong about everything. Yeah, the insurgents are taking longer than expected to put down. But fatalities are still lower than we expected them to be at this point.

  21. “As opposed to the doves, who predicted American defeat”

    WTF??

  22. joe & thoreau,
    Shannon’s comments just sailed right over your heads. Speak to the point: Kerry showed his hand. That’s a dumb way to do foreign policy. In fact he isn’t doing foreign policy, he’s trying to win an election.

  23. Dan, did the liberal in your head tell you that?

  24. yeah, i don’t remember anyone saying we’d be defeated. if anything, it was bemoaning that we wouldn’t be defeated. which manages to be even stranger.

  25. “Here’s Kerry’s quote – “We want those troops home, and my goal would be to try to get them home in my first term,” ”

    It doesn’t matter what Kerry said about it anyway, since he’s never going to have a first term.

  26. ” if anything, it was bemoaning that we wouldn’t be defeated. which manages to be even stranger.”

    I remember one lefty friend hoping that we would lose Iraq War #1, and I don’t doubt there’s a few others of that mindset, but for the most part, that one is way off base too. Try again.

  27. Todd, had Kerry actually set a deadline, I’d be inclined to agree. But read the quote.

  28. Bin Laden cited the troops stationed in Saudi Arabia as one of his grievances against the US.

    Bin Laden cited the presence of infidel troops in the country that was home to Mecca. That’s not a problem with Iraq.

    I suspect that some Iraqis will come to feel similarly about troops in Iraqi if we spend a few more years fighting insurgents over there.

    So what you’re saying is that if resentful Iraqis spend the next few years trying to kill Americans, resentful Iraqis might try to kill Americans? Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty much a given.

    And I didn’t realize it was a given that we’d have bases in Iraq for decades. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether the strategic advantage fully compensates for the antagonism produced.

    With all due respect, thoreau, the question was asked and answered over two years ago. The potential benefits and costs of an American military presence in Iraq were widely discussed, and the potential value of those bases was cited as one of the many good reasons for toppling Hussein’s regime. All that has changed since then is that Iraq has turned out to be less stable than we had hoped it would be — which is an argument *for* long-term bases, not against them.

  29. “Dan, did the liberal in your head tell you that?”

    Perhaps it was all the network anchors claiming that the situation was a quagmire, and already another Vietnam two days after it started.

    There were certainly people (many on the left) saying we would lose the war. It’s always a little mystifying to me what people don’t remember.

    http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=1778

    http://homepage.eircom.net/~gulufuture/news/scott_ritter030325.htm

    http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:Gp9vFQlgoNQJ:www.silent-penguin.com/archives/000861.html++%22lose+the+iraq+war%22&hl=en

    Here’s one saying why it is important to lose:
    http://www.alternet.org/story/16720

    I suppose no one on the left said or says that in your world either.

    By all means, google for “lose the iraq war” or various permutations yourself.

  30. joe,

    Well you gotta admit (or at least I think you should admit) that the less Kerry’s statement counts as a deadline, the more it counts as meaningless. I believe Bush has said the troops would come home as soon as possible. How does expressing the “goal” of bringing them home within a certain time period differ from that in any substantial way if it’s not intended to specify in how long that will be?

  31. “I suppose no one on the left said or says that in your world either.”

    For your broad statements about how this proves “doves” are always wrong, all doves would have to have said this (or at the least, a clear majority) rather than just any.

  32. Correction: “For Dan’s broad statements about how “doves” are always wrong to be supported, all doves (or at the least, a clear majority) would have to have taken these positions rather than just any.”

  33. yeah, i don’t remember anyone saying we’d be defeated.

    Google around for people who predicted that Iraq would turn out the same as Vietnam; that’s a good place to start.

    Certainly it wasn’t the consensus that the United States would lose, just as it wasn’t the “hawk” consensus that we’d win the war in Iraq and only lose a thousand troops in the process. But since it is apparently fair to cite the most optimistic hawks as proof of how “wrong” supporters of the war have been, it is fair to cite the most pessimistic doves as proof of how wrong the anti-war crowd has been.

  34. “Perhaps it was all the network anchors claiming that the situation was a quagmire, and already another Vietnam two days after it started.”

    So basically, whenever you hear bad news about American military operations, you assume that the messenger is hoping for America’s defeat.

    Pretty much par for the course.

    Meaningless in what sense, fyodor? It tells me he doesn’t support the Kucinich “Bring Them Home Now” position the Republicans accuse him of holding. It tells me he foresees a couple, maybe a few, more years of operations. It tells me he isn’t buying into this “we’re about to turn the corner” bs.

    So it’s not a firm statement of future military policy. Some would say presidential candidates shouldn’t telegraph those things, anyway.

  35. JDM,

    The first link is to something written Feb 17 of this year. Sure, he used the terminology of “lose the war,” but he’s obviously talking about the long term results of the occupation, not the military invasion to topple Saddam. If it was the former rather than the latter that Dan was talking about, then I would say it’s no obvious that the doves who say that are wrong.

    Anyway, it seems you just googled on that phrase to find those links, so I probably won’t bother investigating the rest of them…

  36. joe,

    “had Kerry actually set a deadline, I’d be inclined to agree.”

    Kerry is a candidate for President of the United States during a time of war. Nothing he says is trivial. Perhaps he intended this as just a generalized wish along the lines of “ideally I would like everybody home next week” but that is not how it is being reported. It’s easy to read this as an implied 4 year deadline.
    Statements such as this have a way of entering the public discourse and becoming expectation for policy.

    People in Iraq, already hopeful or nervous about Kerry’s willingness to abandon the nation may read far more into the comment than Kerry intended.

    The only responsible statement from a candidate to such a question is “as long as it takes to accomplish our goals.”

  37. Dan, you’re crawfishing now. You brought up “predicted America’s defeat” as an example of what the doves had gotten wrong. If you know it was wrong, then the question must be answered already. On the issue of military operations, America was clearly not defeated, and you are entitled to snicker at those who predicted a military defeat (if you can find any).

    But by bringing up Vietnam, you are claiming that doves were wrong to predict a situation in which the military wins every battle, but we are unable to achieve our political objectives. I don’t think you’re in a very good position to look down on people who made this prediction.

  38. No word on the links of course, which refute your comment utterly. I won’t be expecting any.

    fyodor,

    I take exception to joe’s “liberal in your head” language. There were a lot of lefties saying we’d lose, and quite a few hoping we would. And, importantly, there still are.

  39. What joe said, @ 4:11!

  40. Shannon, “…but that is not how it is being reported.” Perhaps those working for Kerry’s defeat, if they are so worried about the effect of his words on the militants’ mindset, shouldn’t work so hard to spin them as defeatism.

    “People in Iraq, already hopeful or nervous about Kerry’s willingness to abandon the nation…”

    Bwah haw haw haw haw! Have you SEEN any poll of Iraqis that puts “Pull Out Now” at less than 70%? I sure haven’t.

  41. What if we keep whizzing through wars so fast–WWIII, WWIV, etc.–so fast we need to change from Roman to ARABIC!! numbers?

  42. Read the links, JDM. Not a single elected official. Not even a single American “Man in the Street.”

    Your positin is that “many on the left predicted we would lose.” The closest you’ve come is to show that some “German Historians” and Scott Ritter predicted that we would fail to achieve our objectives.

    Yeah, I’m really red faced here.

  43. First, I agree that there’s a trade-off between making the statement meaningful vs. tipping his hand.

    Still, I see nothing wrong with a candidate saying “Well, I think we can get everything stabilized in 4 years, and if that works out then we’ll bring the troops home within 4 years.” He’s making a prediction, not a promise, and saying that if things are stable then, almost by definition, he’ll be able to bring the troops home.

    It’s basically saying “Well, I think we’ll be able to defeat our enemies in the next 4 years. If we do, then we can bring the troops home because our enemies will no longer be there.” It isn’t really giving much away to our enemies, they already knew that Presidents and Presidential candidates think in 4-year intervals.

  44. JDM,

    Well, you shouldn’t have taken his silly joke so seriously.

    Now me? I never overreact, hahahahahaha…..

    Anyway, the question as to whether Iraq will become, in essence, another Viet Nam is still an open one and hardly something anyone could be said to have been “wrong” about, as joe has correctly pointed out. Now, perhaps I’ve underestimated the number of leftists who hoped and/or still hope we will fail, but most of my friends are leftists and that one comment back before Iraq War I is all I’ve ever heard said along those lines, so Google searches notwithstanding, I still say it’s a minority opinion.

  45. Dan,

    In order for the American fatalities in Iraq to equal those from the wars against Germany and Japan the Iraq war will have to last until around the year 2500.

    You were clearly discussing post-occupation scenarios. If you want to now change the time period under discussion that’s fine, but don’t act like this is some “gotcha” on your part.

    You original statement:

    It has always been a given that our troops would be remaining in Iraq for years, and probably decades, just as they have in Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

    We waged the Iraq war in a much more humanitarian fashion, which means there were still troublemakers left alive when we sent in the occupying force.

    Which is beside the original point of course.

    As opposed to the doves, who predicted American defeat, tens of thousands of American war dead, the millions of Iraqi war dead, the collapse of the entire Middle East into violent anarchy, the use of chemical and biological weapons, and waves of terrorist attacks on the US mainland.

    That the doves were wrong does not exonerate the errors of the hawks.

    Sure, the hawks have been wrong about a few things.

    A few things? *chuckle* 🙂 The hawks have been wrong about the entire post-war scenario; they have been complete and utter incompetants as far as that is concerned. Furthermore, since its the hawks who are in the driver’s seat, as opposed to the doves, its their opinions that really count.

  46. “Read the links, JDM. Not a single elected official. Not even a single American “Man in the Street.”

    Again, way to move the goal posts, but my position is that “the liberal in your head” is a ridiculous statement given the number of lefties who are still predicting the US will lose.

    When did every non-elected official exist only in the heads of your enemies? Because that’s what you are now implying.

    As for “man on the street,” do you want me to find people posting to message boards claiming we’d lose, or rooting for us to lose? Do you think it will be difficult? How about some claiming that we already have lost? I’ve seen those too.

    I’m not interested in wasting any more time on the exercise. I’ll concede that no amount of argumentation will allow you to see how foolish your statement is.

    Soon you’ll be pasting non sequitous song lyrics into the thread, and no one wants that.

    fyodor,

    I didn’t really spend a lot of time vetting the links, but if you care to, google for yourself. You’ll find a landslide of them. As dhex points out, you’ll find even more wishing that we would be.

  47. Dan,

    What’s especially disturbing is how weak the war in Iraq has left the US; hell, Iran can simply thumb their nose at us at this point and build a nuclear weapons arsenal and the US can’t do a damn thing about it because we’re stuck trying to control an insurgency in Iraq and we can’t even get Britain to get tough about Iran. From a standpoint of oppurtunity costs, Iraq was a braindead decision.

  48. “..wishing that we would lose.” That should be.

  49. We want those troops home, and my goal would be to try to get them home in my first term…”

    Mr. Sullum, with all due respect, linking the word “promising” to a story about this statement isn?t entirely fair, but maybe this isn?t the only source. Is there another source in which Kerry makes such a promise?

    Many of you are condemning Kerry for making this statement without even wondering about his exit plan, and that isn’t entirely fair either. If Kerry’s goal is to exit Iraq by lobbying our former allies and handing Iraq over to a UN force, perhaps, some of you wouldn?t be so shrill. What if Kerry were to predicate the statement above on a promise to never leave the good people of Iraq in the lurch?

    Kerry has made a host of stupid statements that should be vigorously attacked, but this seems to me like one of the least likely candidates.

  50. It is, in any case, a moot point, since it seems quite unlikely that the insurgency will last that (five years) long.

    dan, i wonder — what makes you say this? if the palestinian insurgency can last 50 years, if the chechen insurgency can last 13 years, what makes one believe that the iraqi insurgency will be shorter?

    do their fundamental issues all get resolved if/when the united states stages an election there? i don’t really think so.

  51. Kerry is a candidate for President of the United States during a time of war. Nothing he says is trivial.

    shannon, wadr, i think that if the first sentence is true, the second sentence must read its opposite. almost by definition, EVERYTHING the candidates say is trivial, ESPECIALLY in wartime. neither of them is likely to say anything that approximates an honest assessment, because the honest assessments are too inconvenient and complex for *ruling* a democracy, much less campaigning in one.

  52. gaius marius,

    Dan has no means by which to demostrate the validity of his statement – except for a whole lot of wishful thinking – which is exactly what the Pentagon did a lot of when it came to the post-occupation plan.

    Larry Diamond (Senior Adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority from January to April of 2004) in Foreign Affairs details the incompetance of the Bush administration in these matters here:

    http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20040901faessay83505/larry-diamond/what-went-wrong-in-iraq.html

  53. gg, there can be no doubt that this was as horribly bungled a job as could be — so awfully on such an important job that my personal opinion is that the current management must be replaced en masse if it is unwilling to replace the responsible heads (which it thusfar has proved to be).

    but i am still interested to know if there is a coheive argument as to why this insurgency should be “short”.

    there’s little *we* could be responsible for that would make it so. willingness to use (un)reasonable force certainly is no argument — if it were, the russians and israelis would have settled their issues long ago. our mantra is that “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” can certainly be quietly compromised, but who is willing to wager that we will do that soon? and the core grievance — that the us is there to stay and will be the man behind the curtain regardless of any election — cannot be resolved for so long as we inhabit 14 or so bases throughout iraq with tens of thousands of men.

    so does it imply that the iraqis will learn to love their occupier?

  54. joe,

    “Have you SEEN any poll of Iraqis that puts “Pull Out Now” at less than 70%”

    How about this one from the first of August?

    Or this one this one? It’s from March 18th but the numbers have not changed radically.


    How Long Should Coalition Forces Remain?
    Until Iraq gov’t is in place 36%
    Until security is restored 18%
    Leave now %15
    Six months or more 10%
    Few months 8%


    As noted, 51 percent oppose the presence of coalition forces ? but that doesn’t mean most want them withdrawn immediately, likely because of security concerns. Fifteen percent of Iraqis say the forces should leave the country now; by contrast, 36 percent say they should remain until a new government is in place; 18 percent, until security is restored.

    If you can find a poll that shows a “pull out now” of more than 20% I will be very surprised. If you subtract the Sunnis from that it will go even lower. Recent drops in support seem wholly related to the Coalition’s perceived failure to control the insurgency not from any increase in resentment toward foreign occupation in general. I think many Iraqi now believe that they could do a better job of crushing the insurgency than the Coalition and they may be right.

    What you do not understand is that moving toward a democratic Iraq requires many Iraqi to stick their necks out and to put themselves and their extend families at severe risk. They are unwilling to do so in part because they believe the US is fickle. They are very hesitant to commit because the believe, not without cause, that we will abandon them. John Kerry statement in my opinion just reinforces this idea.

  55. “As opposed to the doves, who predicted American defeat, tens of thousands of American war dead, the millions of Iraqi war dead, the collapse of the entire Middle East into violent anarchy, the use of chemical and biological weapons, and waves of terrorist attacks on the US mainland.”

    Perhaps Dan is exaggerating here a bit, but I seem to recall that before the invasion, the doves’ fear was that there would be a huge loss of life, humanitarian crisis, the use of chemical weapons, street warfare in Baghdad, leading to thousands and thousands of casualties, stuff like that. Perhaps they didn’t predict or hope for American “defeat,” but I think those who you might call the traditional doves certainly feared an overwhelming catastrophe.

  56. Somebody please tell me when we know we have “won”. The outfit in charge has successfully changed the reasons so many times I can’t keep up.

    At this point I think they’ve settled on knowing when we “win” as there being a Democratic Iraq, a peaceful (whatever that is) Iraq or a peaceful, Democratic Iraq who elects the “correct” people. Islamist or secular is still up in the air.

    It matters little, though. My prediction is that no matter who wins this election, as long as Iraq has oil we will have troops there. It will take a few years but at some point we will declare that an uninterrupted oil supply is in our country’s interest, that we can’t rely on Iraq to protect our interests and we will keep the spigots open at the point of a gun. The American people will buy it, especially when oil is $80 a barrell, we’re being shot at over there and there are other 911’s here.

    But don’t forget; it all started with the biggest lie to the public in American history.

  57. Shannon you wrote: “I think many Iraqi now believe that they could do a better job of crushing the insurgency than the Coalition and they may be right.”

    LOL! Saddam for president, anyone?

  58. On the issue of military operations, America was clearly not defeated, and you are entitled to snicker at those who predicted a military defeat (if you can find any).

    As I patiently explained already, if you’re looking for people who predicted defeat in Iraq, simply look for people who predicted it would be another Vietnam. You claim that that’s not the same as predicting defeat. I’ll just file that under “stupid things said by joe” and try to keep from laughing.

  59. But Dan, as joe and I have tried to explain, Iraq may very well yet turn out to be another Viet Nam. So if that’s what you meant by “defeat,” then doves are not so obviously wrong on the matter.

    Of course, this whole argument is a rather dumb one. I don’t think either “side” has made consistently good predictions about what has transpired in Iraq, to no small degree because each “side” speaks with many mouths and it’s absurd to taint one person’s argument with the predictive failures of someone who happens to be his ally.

  60. Iran can simply thumb their nose at us at this point and build a nuclear weapons arsenal and the US can’t do a damn thing about it because we’re stuck trying to control an insurgency in Iraq

    Oh, please. We easily have the capacity for to bomb their facilities or hit them with cruise missiles. Or, of course, nuke them off the face of the earth if they actually got the weapons and hinted they might be thinking of using them.

    We’re also not “stuck” trying to control an insurgency in Iraq. If we decided we wanted to invade Iran, we’d deprioritize dealing with the Iraqi insurgents and invade Iran. The reason we are not doing this at the moment is that we don’t think we have to, at least not yet.

    From a standpoint of oppurtunity costs, Iraq was a braindead decision

    The only “cost” we paid is that we are temporarily unable to mount an invasion of Iran. Since the American public would not support an invasion of Iran, that’s not a cost at all; we never had the “opportunity” to invade Iran.

    On the other hand, the invasion of Iraq gave us a large, veteran military force on opposite borders of Iran, and replaced a hostile, WMD-producing, terrorist-affiliated regime with a friendly one. That’s an enormous strategic gain for us.

  61. I’m sure those talking about what a wonderful job we’re doing in Iraq noticed today’s news stories in which the military itself admitted that big chunks of the country are now fully under the control of fundamentalists.

    But I also agree with Gadfly that this is primarily due to oil. Maybe the government itself honestly believes that this is about bringing freedom to Iraqis, just as the Inquisitioners and Witch-hunters of the past honestly believed they were doing God’s work as opposed to providing an outlet for their own hatreds, but ultimately both are behaving for selfish reasons, however effectively they managed to delude others and, perhaps, themselves.

    Remember how the administration classified several pages of a state department document showing Saudi links to 9-11? If the Saudis stopped selling us oil, I’ll bet those pages would be de-classified pretty damn quick.

  62. And then we’d go to war.

  63. I seem to recall that before the invasion, the doves’ fear was that there would be a huge loss of life, humanitarian crisis, the use of chemical weapons, street warfare in Baghdad, leading to thousands and thousands of casualties, stuff like that. Perhaps they didn’t predict or hope for American “defeat,” but I think those who you might call the traditional doves certainly feared an overwhelming catastrophe.

    I thought there would be more casualties than there were; I thought there would be a humanitarian crisis, and I thought there would be chemical weapons and street fighting in Baghdad too. I was wrong about all that.

    However, my argument against the war, ultimately, had nothing to do with chemical weapons or the desirability of the Hussein regime. My argument was that the price in casualties, civilian and otherwise, wasn’t worth whatever we were supposed to gain by winning. Now that we have confirmation that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction and that there wasn’t any collaboration between the Hussein regime and Al Quaeda, I’m more certain of that than I was before.

    Before we invaded Iraq, there was another concern I had on the same note, but you didn’t mention it. It involved the likelihood of our invasion and occupation sparking a civil war in Iraq. This is probably a good place to interject that my argument for staying in Iraq now that we’re there is that the price in casualties, civilian and otherwise, isn’t worth whatever we would gain my leaving.

    Even if I was wrong about all the other things you listed, this last concern remains a valid one; I’d hate to see what civil war in Iraq looks like. I’d also hate to see a new Wahabi state emerge in the heart of Iraq. I’d hate to see a new state emerge in the South and the West with loose affiliations with Iran, and I’d hate to see a Kurdish state, already reported to have connections to Al Qaeda, emerge in the North. That would be terrible! If that happened, the Iraq War wouldn’t have made us safer from terrorism; it would have put us in greater danger. But don’t get me wrong; it’s still about the casualties for me, Iraqi civilian and otherwise.

    So I pray that I’m flat, dead wrong about the likelihood of a civil war and its aftermath just like I was about the other things.

  64. Mackey:
    “leading to thousands and thousands of casualties”

    But thousands and thousands did die.

  65. Dan,

    Oh, please. We easily have the capacity for to bomb their facilities or hit them with cruise missiles.

    Iran has so many facilities at this point, in so many places, that this is a foolhardy scheme at best. The Iranians aren’t quite as stupid as the Iraqis were. Indeed, our experience with Libya’s hidden weapons facilities demonstrates how easy it is to hide stuff from us. Indeed, if such an effort were so easily accomplished, one wonders why it already hasn’t been tried, especially in light of Iran’s role in the “axles of evil?”

    If we decided we wanted to invade Iran, we’d deprioritize dealing with the Iraqi insurgents and invade Iran.

    In your wet dreams perhaps. If the US were reduce its strength in Iraq at this point, the militias would control more of it than they do today; indeed, the possibility of an even wider civil war would increase. Sorry, you may you blind yourself to the oppurtunity costs of this Iraqi adventure, but that doesn’t meant that they don’t exist.

    The reason we are not doing this at the moment is that we don’t think we have to, at least not yet.

    No, the reason we won’t do it is because we can’t. Bush simply lacks the domestic support for such an invasion. That’s another thing the Bush administration squandered of course.

    On the other hand, the invasion of Iraq gave us a large, veteran military force on opposite borders of Iran…

    Which cannot be used against Iran; which Iran realizes; which thus allows Iran to treat the US with impunity. Iraq wasn’t a strategic gain; indeed, its a strategic deficit.

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