Hari vs. Liddy

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Johann Hari, the bright young liberal-hawk columnist from London's Independent newspaper, locks horns with G. Gordon Liddy. Excerpt:

"So—where do we begin?" he says. I try to smile back and say as sweetly as I can, "How about with Adolf Hitler?"

Then later:

While the Nixon administration was spraying tonnes of napalm and poison over Vietnam, he complained the policy was "too soft." He says now, "I wanted to bomb the Red River dykes. It would have drowned half the country and starved the other half. There would have been no way the Viet Cong could have operated if we had the will-power to do that." […]

So all of the conventions created in the wake of the Second World War—the Geneva Conventions, the very concept of war crimes—these are all just polite fictions to be crumpled? "Of course. The Seventh Infantry Division in 1945 used to drive their tanks around with the heads of defeated Japanese solders displayed proudly on the front. That's what we need to train our present-day soldiers to be." […]

"The war in Vietnam was fought on the streets of America too," he says. "It was lost here at home, by people who didn't have the Will to win. We had to get the people who wanted America to lose." Including killing columnists? "If they were traitors as Jack Andersen was, directly helping the enemy, then yes."

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  1. Hari was doing OK until he bluntly declared global warming “the most important issue in the world.”

  2. Thirty years later and we’re still claiming we could have “won” Vietnam. And you know what? When we bail out of Iraq, the same idiots will blame the “enemy at home” for “lacking the willpower”.

    Doesn’t fucking occur to them, of course, that LYING YOUR WAY into the war, then spending a year or two LYING ABOUT THE PROGRESS of the war and then — just for giggles — FUCKING UP EVERY ASPECT OF SAID WAR might have a lot to do with lack of tolerance for American casualties in Iraq.

    I mean, let’s face it: We were promised a cakewalk that would knock off a nasty man, secure some nasty WMD’s, and result in a flowering democracy.

    Needless to say, they were a BIT off mark.

  3. Why does anyone pay attention to Liddy anymore? Why did anyone pay attention to him in the first place? He’s like a right-wing Barbra Streisand.

  4. I’m nitpicking here (well, not really), but I’ve heard this statement bandied around too often:

    I mean, let’s face it: We were promised a cakewalk that would knock off a nasty man,

    By whom? Show me one instance where an administration official ever said, or implied that Iraq would be a cakewalk. I actually recall it differently: every time that issue came up the administration, whether it be the Sec. of Defense, State, the Prez, VP, etc., always warned that it would be a difficult, long term mission. The only people pimping the “cakewalk” line were the media.

  5. Uh, I might be wrong, but isn’t taking a city house to house with 50 casualties a cakewalk? Isn’t rolling up the second largest army in the modest in a few weeks a cakewalk?

    What do they want, open and free elections before a year is out? Hey, wait a minute….

  6. This isn’t rhetorical. So read it with a smile, and answer politely. What would have winning in Vietnam been? Would it have meant occupying the country, and protecting the government until it was stable? Would it have meant identifying and cleansing the country of all the Viet Cong?

  7. Thirty years later and we’re still claiming we could have “won” Vietnam.

    I’ve yet to hear any coherent explanation for why we couldn’t have, given that all that was required for victory was for the North to stop invading the South. The South Vietnamese themselves were winning, even without our troops, until we cut their support.

    In any event, we’d have won by default when the Soviet Union collapsed; without them funding the invasion effort, North Vietnam would have had to agree to a Korea-style cease fire. The only question is whether victory would have been worth the expense.

  8. cakewalker:

    “Isn’t rolling up the second largest army in the modest in a few weeks a cakewalk?”

    second largest army! are we talking about Iraq’s army? The one that has been fighting for twenty years and more than a decade of arms and economic sanctions?

  9. Nathan
    “”I mean, let’s face it: We were promised a cakewalk that would knock off a nasty man,””

    “By whom? Show me one instance where an administration official ever said, or implied that Iraq would be a cakewalk”

    Read this:
    http://www.time.com/time/world/printout/0,8816,461462,00.html

    To quote:
    For obvious domestic political reasons, the Bush Administration going into the war had downplayed the scale and duration of a post-war occupation mission. When then-Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki told legislators that such a mission would require several hundred thousand U.S. troops, his assessment had been immediately dismissed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as “wildly off the mark.” Wolfowitz explained that “I am reasonably certain that (the Iraqi people) will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down.” Six weeks ago, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was still suggesting the U.S. force in Iraq could be reduced to 30,000 by the end of the year.

  10. a: yes, Iraq’s army. I’m pretty sure it was the second largest in the mideast, after Turkey’s. I’ll look for a confirming link.

    So since you changed the point of the discussion, I guess you argee that we did a cakewalk on them?

  11. carewalker,
    Have you seen the armies in the MidEast? Heck, Israel took 3 on at the same time in 6 days. Doing it in a few weeks is a tad slow. 🙂

  12. “When we bail out of Iraq, the same idiots will blame the “enemy at home” for “lacking the willpower”.

    I suspect that when we bail out of Iraq, we’ll leave it in the hands of a Grand Ayatolla, and we’ll call it a Democracy.

  13. Chris

    Uh, that still doesn’t meet the definition of cakewalk. There are (and will continue to be) serious discussion about what troop levels are needed, etc, but I still stand by my assertion that the administration never sold the jaunt in Iraq would as a cakewalk to the public. They have always stated it would be difficult and troops would be there for the long haul.

  14. Grand Ayatolla? Which one?

    The Ayatolla of Rock and Rolla? I always wanted to see what Humongous would do with some oil wells backing up his band of marauders.

    Or Ayatolla Usoe who posts on this board? Perhaps he’d hire the Reason staff to be his cabinet and try out some free minds and free markets in Iraq.

  15. In re “cakewalk”: That term was used by Defense Policy Board member Kenneth Adelman in an article that was originally published in the Washington Post on Feb 13, 2003, i.e., immediately prior to the invasion of Iraq. It was also reprinted on neocon-slanted TechCentral Station, still available here: http://www.techcentralstation.com/021502C.html

    Here’s the exact quote:

    “I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they’ve become much weaker; (3) we’ve become much stronger; and (4) now we’re playing for keeps.”

    Adelman was appointed to the DPB by Donald Rumsfeld: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20030327.shtml

    Also, bonus material from Richard Perle, also appointed to the DPB by Rumsfeld:

    http://www.vakkur.com/hx/perle.htm (Money quote: “Now, it isn’t going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn’t going to be months either.”)

    So suck it, warwhores.

  16. “Grand Ayatolla? Which one?”

    Job’s up for grabs. Slight name change and it could be yours! That’s right, Iratolla Weatheral.

    Say, anybody see Natalie recently? She seems to have departed but she didn’t take the gay guy with her.

  17. “Grand Ayatolla? Which one?”

    I’m not sure, but I don’t think it’ll be the Ayatolla of Rock and Rolla.

    If I said Al-Sistani, that would imply that I think we’ll be out of Iraq before he dies of old age. If I said some other Grand Ayatolla, it would imply that I don’t think we’ll be out of Iraq for a long time. However, if I just leave it as some Grand Ayatolla, it implies that whoever the Ayatolla is when we leave, Iraq won’t be much more Democratic than he wants it to be.

    …kinda like Iran.

    P.S. I think Grand Ayatolla Usoe and the Reason staff might be an improvement on what we have now, but, alas, I don’t think any of them want the job.

  18. I had a lot invested in winning in Vietnam, so I was very disappointed.
    Winning in Vietnam should have been a cakewalk in comparison to winning the War on Terror, so it’s even more discouraging to see people thinking we can win the War on Terror after we lost Vietnam.

  19. cakewalker:

    “a: yes, Iraq’s army. I’m pretty sure it was the second largest in the mideast, after Turkey’s. I’ll look for a confirming link.”

    You said nothing about the middle east in your first post unless that is what you mean when you wrote “the modest”. May be it was a typo then. Like Mo said, even if it is true that Iraq’s is the sencod largest army in the middle east that is not saying much.

  20. So, we have one member of one board who said “cakewalk”, and perhaps a few others here and there who said “this aint gonna be that tough.” Fair enough.

    It military terms, it hasn’t been that tough. The cakewalkers were certainly a lot closer to the mark than those predicting catastrophe, for example. A fair sampling of Bush administration statements shows that the top dogs were consistently saying this is going to be a tough slog, requiring years of commitment, etc. (with Rummy occasionally going off the reservation), which has actually pretty much proven to be the case.

    I would even say that, if Turkey hadn’t denied us a northern front, the current crypto-Baathist uprising would have been strangled in its crib and the more rosy scenarios would be looking pretty prescient right now. In other words, optimism dating from before the Turkish betrayal was not necessarily irrational or mendacious.

    Still, complaints about cherry-picked statements by mid-rankers in the administration doesn’t change the fact that the administration’s strategy still looks like the least worst alternative to me.

  21. We cakewalked over Grenada!!!!
    Didn`t they have the 3rd largest cigar smoking army in the world?

  22. The US Military DID win the “war” in a cakewalk — but partly because the Saddam forces were preparing for guerrilla action.
    Which the Bush folk perhaps failed to be adequately prepared for. On the other hand, the USA can never win in Iraq — only Iraq can win. The US can insure that the Iraqi Police win every battle Alawi decides to fight — but it must be, increasingly, an Iraqi Police/ Iraqi National Guard fight.

    And it seems like, seemingly slowly but much faster than a maple tree grows, turning police power over to the Iraqis is working.

    Winning in Vietnam would have required the Viets to be flying the US helicopters, and the Vietnamese to be using napalm on the N. Viet positions. LBJ tried to “win” Vietnam as if it was WWII, or Korea. Nope.
    Nixon tried a little Vietnamization, but where where the trained and supplied S. Viet troops in the 68-72 time frame?

    An Islamic influenced semi-secular democracy, with fairly good support for human rights and minorities, is the likely outcome in the upcoming Jan. elections. It will almost certainly become the BEST Arab Islamic democracy. And any critics should be honestly asked — where is Arab Islam better? That may be a “low” standard, but that’s how the most realistic progress happens — one rung higher than the next. Up the never-ending ladder of progress.

  23. Can anybody find the exact quote from the guy who insisted that Iraqis would be throwing flowers at our soldiers? Do any of the hawks here remember that? Or the guy who insisted that within a year of the invasion there’d be a public square in Baghdad named after Bush?

  24. i can’t believe that i have to be the first to express some dismay at liddy’s obvious mental disturbance. that interview shows him to be a seriously deranged person in need of help.

    instead, half the country holds him up as some kind of pundit.

    that says everything that needs to be said about this politically diseased nation. we need to start looking for a cure for our ailing polity, folks, or things are going to get abysmally violent and awful. political extremism seems to be feeding upon itself in a sort of vicious retributive cycle that could easily end in bloodshed.

  25. Here’s the exact quote: “I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk”

    Yes, but that quote was correct. Demolishing Hussein’s military power and libertating Iraq *was* a cakewalk. It’s the nation-building part that’s been harder than expected — although, quite frankly, we still haven’t lost nearly as many troops as I’d expected us to lose in the liberation alone.

    Can anybody find the exact quote from the guy who insisted that Iraqis would be throwing flowers at our soldiers?

    Given that they did, in fact, throw flowers and dance in the streets (facts documented in, among other places, that notorious tool of the neo-conservative agenda, the New York Times), I’m afraid that I don’t see why you think digging up that quote would help your case.

    Or the guy who insisted that within a year of the invasion there’d be a public square in Baghdad named after Bush?

    Nobody insisted anything of the kind.

    But if you’re talking about the guy who, several months *after* the invasion, said “A year from now I’d be surprised if there’s not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush”, his name was Richard Perle, and he had retired from his position on the Defense Policy Board six months earlier.

  26. “A year from now, I’ll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush.”

    –Richard Perle, September 22, 2003.

    Whew! What a beautiful stinker.

  27. I grew up on Liddy. He is like most, a few jems in a pile of crap.

  28. “Given that they did, in fact, throw flowers and dance in the streets (facts documented in, among other places, that notorious tool of the neo-conservative agenda, the New York Times), I’m afraid that I don’t see why you think digging up that quote would help your case.”

    The only place I’m aware of that they threw flowers was in Sadr City, and they aren’t doin’ that anymore. Indeed, I’m not a military man, but I wouldn’t advise our soldiers to stop and smell anything anyone in Sadr City throws their way.

    The prediction of flower throwing was assumably intended to suggest that there would be support for American troops once we got there, and if Sadr City is your example, Dan, then I don’t know why you would cite it to help your argument.

  29. Another good one, from the House hearings before granting Bush authorization for military action, from NPR transcript, Weekend Edition Sunday (1:00 PM ET), September 29, 2002:

    Ms. Jessica Tuchman Matthews (President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace): We’re talking about urban warfare. A great many innocent Iraqis will die. I don’t believe that is going to be looked upon as a wonderful event by Iraqis any more than an invasion of the United States under what any conditions would be felt that way by Americans. The only–if…

    Representative Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California): And I think that there is some type of a fundamental misunderstanding that you have about what people who live under such tyrants really feel. Because if you lived under this kind of tyranny, and you saw some Americans working with Iraqis to get rid of Saddam Hussein, I think you would be doing what they will be doing when we liberate Baghdad, and that is they will be dancing in the streets, waving American flags, thanking us for ridding themselves of this gangster who’s been murdering their own people for so long.

  30. Couple of observations:

    Number of soldiers is no longer a good metric for measuring the effectiveness of an Army. Try looking at the $$$ they spend on defense. We spend more than the rest of the world combined (ref:www.globalsecurity.org).

    That’s why one of our M1A2 tanks can destroy 12 of their T-72’s in under one minute before the Iraq’s even know we are near. That’s why we can go a whole war without losing any fixed wing aircraft to enemy fire (only two lost due to friendly fire).

    Unfortunately all that money we spend on defense doesn’t cut it when we try to fight an insurgency house to house our military isn’t budgeted (technology not manpower) to do that.

    Luckily our soldiers are well trained and in most cases well equipped. There would be plenty more deaths without our body armor and our soldiers are well trained, but its tough to say whether or not the people of Iraq can be taught democracy…

  31. The only place I’m aware of that they threw flowers was in Sadr City, and they aren’t doin’ that anymore.

    I forget — who was it who predicted that most of Iraq would erupt into a multi-year festival of flower throwing and dancing in the streets?

    Come on, Ken. We kicked the Nazis out of France and it took the French less than a year to start being complete dicks to our troops. People can only dance for so long.

    The prediction of flower throwing was assumably intended to suggest

    Which prediction of flower throwing was that? Please link to the quote in question.

    I think you would be doing what they will be doing when we liberate Baghdad, and that is they will be dancing in the streets, waving American flags, thanking us for ridding themselves of this gangster who’s been murdering their own people for so long.

    Again, that quote came true. Where’s the problem? Even after over a year and a half of occupation the Iraqis are *still* grateful that we got rid of Saddam. They’re just fed up with the occupation itself.

  32. I don’t know much about Gordon Liddy, aside from vaguely understanding that he is a nut who used to work for Richard Nixon. And he used to test his willpower by seeing how long he could hold his hand over a candle flame. (Hell, even I’ve done the latter, though not very successfully.)

    After reading Johann Hari’s interview, I’m still of the opinion that Liddy is a nut, although maybe I understand some of the reasons for his nuttiness a little better.

    But I am even more firmly convinced that Hari is an ass. He spends most of his write-up either putting words in Liddy’s mouth, or missing the point of everything that Liddy actually says (or at least everything Hari actually quotes).

    He is also an ignorant ass. Exhibit A: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (a strange, obsessive focus of hate on the American right)

    This would be because ATF combines prohibitionism, nanny-statism, gun control, and murderous police tactics (as in Waco) all in one.

    Exhibit B: He also, for some reason, violently despises airbags, which he calls “killers.”

    This might be because airbags can kill kids and short-stature adults who sit in the front seat. There is this poignant story from Sept. ’99 Car and Driver:

    Last year, Dwight Childs, 29, ran a red light, resulting in a 10-mph crash. It was exactly the sort of mistake airbag supporters have always said “you shouldn’t have to die for”. Childs’ two-month-old son, strapped into a rear-facing child seat on the passenger side of a 1997 Ford F-150 pickup, was killed by the airbag, and Childs was charged with vehicular homicide.

    The man’s crime? He didn’t switch off the airbag.

    I’ll boil it down for you. First, government forced this man to buy airbags, because bureaucrats in Washington know better than he what’s needed for his well-being. Then, when he failed to deactivate the safety feature he was compelled to buy, (the government) sent him to jail.

    And more at:
    http://www.mises.org/fullstory.aspx?control=114&id=74

    This stuff isn’t exactly secret. What kind of Lefty cocoon is Hari living in?

  33. As for the dominant topic of this thread (as distinguished from the post that started it):

    Maybe it’s just in comparison to the carnage of the Vietnam War that was the constant backdrop to the first 10+ years of my life, but by my lights, Gulf War 2/the Iraq War has been a cakewalk — very much so. The march on Baghdad went much faster than I expected. The assault on Falujah went much, much faster than I expected.

    Of course, this may be due to the way my expectations were conditioned beforehand. I kept hearing all these arm-flapping prognostications from the hysteria-based community, that every military action taken in Iraq would = Normandy Beach x Vietnam. Maybe that just lowered (or raised) my expectations, and makes the real outcome seem relatively rosy.

    As for the occupation and hand-over, a whoooooolllle yearrrrrrrr and a half after the war began, I’m sure it seems really long and messy to MTV-generation punks. But hell, in 1946, the NY Times was running articles about the failed occupation of Germany. Get some perspective, people!

    (Although, come to think of it, we still haven’t got all our troops out of post-WW2 Germany. Hmmm.)

    Man, I’m extra crotchety today. You guys are making me old.

  34. I don’t believe global warming is the most important problem in the world – neither does Hari. He *knows* it. Certainly others here agree with him. Since he did not offer proof of this certainty how about some links? Not to theories, postulates, or intriguing data. No. Show me the proof. Then show me the proof that Liddy is, as Hari says, “tiny”. Those are just two things Hari has written in this small piece that I call unsubstantiated. Welch’s assertion that Hari and Liddy “locked horns” is just laughable.

  35. Tom Grey said:
    “Nixon tried a little Vietnamization, but where where the trained and supplied S. Viet troops in the 68-72 time frame?”

    I was in VN during that time frame so this reminded me of a problem I’m sure has echoes in Iraq.

    The people entrusted with fighting any limited war like this are the “lifers.” From their point of view, there are not enough wars to ensure their advancement up the ranks. Wars are their rare opportunities to make hay while the sun shines. With that mindset, do you think they want to share any glory with indigenous soldiers? Indigenous troops could be the equivalent of US Marine Recons, and the US officers on the scene still have the strong incentive to nudge them aside or sabotage them.

  36. It was Chalabi who predicted that US troops would be greeted with flowers and candy; leading up to the war, Wolfowitz referred to Chalabi’s statements often and, on the Sunday morning talk shows, Cheney referred to Chalabi’s statements repeatedly. Wolfowitz and Cheney don’t appear to have mentioned flowers specifically (as if that matters), they just parroted him and said that the Iraqi people would welcome us as liberators.

  37. Wolfowitz and Cheney don’t appear to have mentioned flowers specifically (as if that matters), they just parroted him and said that the Iraqi people would welcome us as liberators.

    The Iraqi people did welcome us as liberators.

    So your complaint is, then, simply that an Iraqi exile overestimated the extent and duration of the Iraqis’ flower-throwing and street-dancing? That’s pretty weak.

  38. I just saw Lehrer quote a statistic; a hundred and one American soldiers were killed this month. Welcome to Iraq. If you don’t think the Bush Administration misrepresented the extent of Iraqi opposition to US occupation, then you’re delusional.

  39. Re: Cakewalk
    If the “liberation” of Iraq has been such a “cakewalk”, why has there not been a troop reduction (a year and a half after “mission accomplished).
    Why are there instead plans to *increase* troop levels ?

  40. If the “liberation” of Iraq has been such a “cakewalk”, why has there not been a troop reduction (a year and a half after “mission accomplished).

    You sound like you’ve confused the liberation with the reconstruction. The liberation — the “cakewalk” part — ended in success over a year and a half ago.

    Nobody claimed the reconstruction would be a cakewalk — the administration and the high-profile “hawks” have repeatedly maintained that that will take years. But it appears that the administration was overly optimistic about how small a force they could accomplish this nation-building task with — that is why more troops are needed.

    If you don’t think the Bush Administration misrepresented the extent of Iraqi opposition to US occupation, then you’re delusional.

    I haven’t made that claim. I see no reason to, since you can’t actually be bothered to cite any examples of them misrepresenting it.

    I do think that most hawks were overly optimistic about the ease with which we would be able to pacify and stablize Iraq. And certainly the administration downplays the difficulties we face, just as people like yourself (and, for that matter, the major news media) exaggerate them. But a sober look at the facts reveals no insurmountable obstacles, so why panic?

  41. Personally, the only thing I disagreed with Libby on in his interview was his stand on the war on drugs. I don’t know much else about his views since his show isn’t carried where I live. But, he’s certainly right about one thing and that’s we won’t be winning any war on terror unless we get serious and start doing some major killing of the muslim population. While Bush is right that Islamic terrorists only account for a small percentage of the muslim population, he’s wrong in not understanding that the terrorists receive widespread support of mainstream muslims. If we are to win this war it must be with the intent to win and to hell with what’s PC.

  42. Sorry to interrupt a debate on a fresh issue that I’ve NEVER heard before, but I feel I must. After reading that article, two things come to mind:

    1. I can’t figure out which is the “nutcase”.
    2. “locked horns” is a poor description of the events. Hari went off on his own agenda, mischaracterized most Liddy’s responses, and ignored the rest. Then he decided to throw in his outlandish liberal worldview comments in for good measure when doing the writeup.

    I can’t believe I’m defending Liddy.

    Sheesh, when the left can’t even make Liddy look crazy, they’re hurting.

  43. Dan,

    Actually, the South Vietnamese weren’t winning; indeed, our efforts in Cambodia – where we used South Vietnamese troops liberally – undermined the South Vietnamese military by spreading them rather thinly, and thus undercutting one of the advantages of the South Vietnamese – short internal lines of supply, communication, etc.

    In the end, what kept them in power after American ground forces started to be withdrawn was American air power; when that failed to come through, South Viet Nam collapsed.

  44. Dan:
    “You sound like you’ve confused the liberation with the reconstruction. The liberation — the “cakewalk” part — ended in success over a year and a half ago.”

    You’re right that toppling Sadam was a cakewalk, but I would argue that *liberating” Iraq means more than just toppling Sadam. And how can you argue that we’ve gotten to the reconstruction stage? We are still in the “trying to subdue” stage.

    “But it appears that the administration was overly optimistic about how small a force they could accomplish this nation-building task with — that is why more troops are needed.”

    What you call over optimism, I would call *gross incompetence*. The Powell Doctrine was just tossed out the window, and experts in the Pentagon ingnored when they suggested higher troop levels would be needed.

  45. You’re right that toppling Sadam was a cakewalk, but I would argue that *liberating” Iraq means more than just toppling Sadam. And how can you argue that we’ve gotten to the reconstruction stage? We are still in the “trying to subdue” stage.

    Well I’m not going to argue the semantics of the word “liberate”. Bush, and pretty much all the hawks I’m aware of, use the term to mean “getting rid of the fascist dictatorship that used to rule the country”, and that’s what we’ve accomplished so far.

    I “argue” that we’re at the reconstruction stage because we’re reconstructing Iraq. Yes, we’re still fighting some terrorists and Ba’athist remnants, but I wouldn’t say that we’re in the process of “subduing” Iraq.

    What you call over optimism, I would call *gross incompetence*. The Powell Doctrine was just tossed out the window, and experts in the Pentagon ingnored when they suggested higher troop levels would be needed.

    If you want to talk “gross incompetence”, the Powell Doctrine a good place to start. It has no real successes to its name, and one glaring failure: the first Gulf War.

    In any event, you’re committing a logical fallacy here — that because we’ve run into trouble, the people who said “you need more troops, or there will be trouble” must have been right. I’m not aware of any polls or research suggesting that the Iraqi people are sitting around saying “gosh, we sure do wish there were three or four times as many foreign soldiers stomping around the place.” The force we have right now dramatically outnumbers the apparent enemy forces we face. Putting more boots on the ground isn’t necessarily going to help matters, because the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people aren’t our enemies. What is needed is for the Iraqi people themselves to take more of a hand in dealing with these thugs — and it appears, at this point, that that’s just what they’re starting to do.

  46. I didn’t know that 99 percent of enviro scientists believe global warming is the most important issue. I guess I learned something new today.

    Maybe 99% of research grant hustling enviroscientists think global warming will be measured and debated for so long they can make a lucrative career out of it.

  47. One funny thing is that had Hari actually ever listened to one of Liddy’s shows he would know that it’s not exactly wall to wall “hate radio”.

    Typical Liddy hour:

    Roll Miami Vice theme.

    Liddy reads from the newspaper (Washington Times) for 30 minutes.

    Liddy takes callers.

    Caller 1: “Liddy, my neighbor’s tree is dropping acorns in my yard and he won’t cut the branches hanging into my property. What legal recourse do I have?”

    Caller 2: “Liddy, how is your Chevy Silverado holding up? Is that Duramax engine superior to a Ford PowerStroke?”

    Caller 3: “G-man, should I get a .40 Caliber Walther P99 or go for the 10mm?”

    Caller 4: “Dr. Liddy, how can I be more comfortable giving presentations in sales meetings?”

    Liddy has country music artist on the show for a softball interview.

    Roll Miami Vice theme.

    The end.

  48. If you want to talk “gross incompetence”, the Powell Doctrine a good place to start. It has no real successes to its name, and one glaring failure: the first Gulf War.

    i’m always astonished at how easily history is rewritten for ideological purposes on this board.

  49. I “argue” that we’re at the reconstruction stage because we’re reconstructing Iraq. Yes, we’re still fighting some terrorists and Ba’athist remnants, but I wouldn’t say that we’re in the process of “subduing” Iraq.

    do you then, mr dan, deny that we are fighting ordinary iraqis who despise the united states and its occupation simply on its own merits — without being islamist jihadis or the former beneficiaries of saddam’s largesse and sunni predominance?

  50. Gaius,
    That depends on what you call “ordinary Iraqis”.
    I know that many Iraqis really love us. I know that a substantial portion of Iraqi people wish we were as harsh as Saddam was, to quell these guys.

    Just yesterday an Iraqi of a minority that was pesecuted by Saddam said “Saddam was aweful, but his police were strong, you had to respect them, if you Americans were more like that you would not have these problems”

    Also, I haven’t talked to any of the ones fighting us, but what I am getting is that they fall into the following categories: Baathists trying desperately to hold onto their old power, foreign (non iraqi) terrorists, and Shi-a fundamentalists trying to ensure that they have the lions share of the political power, and trying to prevent secularism from taking hold (I can only assume that is because they percieve us to not have the will of Saddam to defeat them, or that they are trying to establish a dominance for when we leave).

  51. I used to really like to listen to G.G Liddy, back in the early 90’s. Then they took him off the air where I was and put that moralizing chick. She sucked, I couldn’t stomach her.

    Liddy used to talk to hot sounding chicks and give them sex advice. He used to talk about what a bunch of thugs the ATF are. He would argue with a competent well spoken atheist on whether God exists or not. I loved his show.

    He wasn’t as informative as Rush, but he was as entertaining. That dude Hari should have listened to Liddy more, he might find himself weirdly enjoying the show. Either way I would guess that his interview and analysis would have been better.

  52. Chris M —

    You’re exactly right about “liberation”. I’d argue that we need to see what kind of regime actually replaces Hussein before we talk about whether we’ve liberated anyone. If we replace him with a failed state, or a Shiite theocracy that half the country regards as illegitimate, well, that doesn’t sound like “liberation” to me.

  53. I know that many Iraqis really love us. I know that a substantial portion of Iraqi people wish we were as harsh as Saddam was, to quell these guys.

    indeed, mr kwais, that is what i’ve come to think as well. and i think your assessment of the different motivations may approximate the reality, although i also suspect there is an underlying fourth motivation — beyond ba’athist tenacity, panarab islamist jihad and shi’a empowerment — which in a sense binds these three in common cause: insurgency against western imperial misrule, whether real or perceived.

    i know many americans have a hard time accepting that they are the indirect imperial ruler of the mideast, but it seems to be common knowledge to the arabs. many in the west have too conveniently ignored this aspect and placed primacy on islamist fundamentalism because that’s easier for us to demonize. but all of this — from the 1960s forward — is in many respects a war of rebellion against the west.

    in any case, taking the harder line presents us with the basic paradox we’re faced with (which mr dan touched on a bit):

    politically no one wants more troops, yet more troops may be the likely solution to the problems; more violence on our part may be the only way, but it is anathema both to the west and to the muslim world and may also be our undoing.

    so we’re faced with the desperate need for something like ‘artful’ violence — effective but restrained — something the american occupation has shown no aptitude for so far in dropping 500-pound bombs in urban areas, thanks to our casualty phobia.

    this unwillingness to die has plagued american military operations for decades now. we too often drop bombs and fire missiles instead of go room to room with men. we are unwilling to risk great american casualties; so we instead inflict the great civilian casualties and indescribable destruction that often dooms the mission to be indistinguishable from barbaric rampaging.

  54. I don’t think that more troops would be the solution, I think more troops would do more harm than good. I think that more troops would be more stepping on Iraqi toes, and a bigger target for the bad guys.

    I think that anymore troops in this country have to be Iraqi. Little by little they have to take over the fight. Right now the bad guys are much stronger than the good guys, and they have a better network and stuff. But that is why we are here as training wheels for them. The troops that we have right now can defeat anyforce the bad guys put together. But a whole lot more troops can’t put an end to determined insurgency (maybe they can, but we can’t stop killings in DC, our own capital).

    Little by little if the Iraqi army and police start winning small battles, more and more they will be seen as the authority by the populace. (They are currently rounding up bad guys). The question is if the fundamentalists surrender the battlefield, will they win in the polls?

  55. Dan:
    “If you want to talk “gross incompetence”, the Powell Doctrine a good place to start. It has no real successes to its name, and one glaring failure: the first Gulf War.”

    Oh I see, since the first Gulf War was based on the Powell Doctrine, it *must* have been a big failure, while this Gulf War has been a stunning sucess!

    “I’m not aware of any polls or research suggesting that the Iraqi people are sitting around saying “gosh, we sure do wish there were three or four times as many foreign soldiers stomping around the place.”

    But they are saying “gosh, it sure would be nice to be able to go to the market without worrying about being shot or blown up, and gee it would also be great if i could send my kids to school without them running the grave risk of being kidnapped”.

    If enough troops were sent to be able to provide security to the iraqis, then America would regain it’s legitimacy.

  56. On the subject of troop strength, here is an excellent article:

    http://vialardi.org/IRAQ/iraq_security.html

  57. But that is why we are here as training wheels for them.

    indeed, mr kwais. do you think from your perspective that a sufficient police force will volunteer and be trained and endure? as i understand it, destitution is quite severe and could force many into the service for want of a paycheck — but i’m unsure what such men would be worth under fire.

    The question is if the fundamentalists surrender the battlefield, will they win in the polls?

    i’m also reticent to characterize the insurgents as ‘fundamentalists’. surely there are some among them, but in the main? i recently saw a bbc report from the border with syria (still largely unguarded from either side) in which many men from the border towns had gone to fight against the americans in iraq. plainly i don’t know them, but i wouldn’t have characterized their families as fundamentalist ideologues consumed by religion any more than i would most rural folk in kansas — well… maybe they are fundies, hm? 🙂

  58. There are too many variables to know if the Iraqi police will endure. I think that as they have more successes (if they have more success) then more poeple will want to join. If they conduct themselves in a proffessional manner, and if Iraqi’s can learn to see the police as a valuable ally in their future, instead of a bully big brother.

    I can only hope. I hope Iraq becomes a thriving liberal democracy like Germany and Japan, and perhaps a little more libertarian (they seem to have the 2nd Ammendment down pat).

    I don’t think increasing our troop strength in the country is going to help us or Iraq in the long run.

  59. I don’t think increasing our troop strength in the country is going to help us or Iraq in the long run.

    you may be right, sir. doing so would certainly present both problems and opportunities, and which outweighs the other is hard for me to say.

    I can only hope.

    indeed, so can we all. the odds, i fear, are against them. democracy is notoriously unstable and carries a very high failure rate over any timeframe, regardless of who attempts it.

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