Send in the Troops? They're Already There

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In the latest pulse-pounding issue of Conservative Two-in-One (featuring William Kristol or Rich Lowry or possibly both as Ben Grimm), the editors of the Weekly Standard and National Review teamed up earlier his week in the Washington Post to call for, wait for it….more troops in Iraq:

More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. This means the ability to succeed in Iraq is, to some significant degree, within our control. The president should therefore order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq, with the additional forces focused on securing Baghdad.

There is now no good argument for not sending more troops.

Daniel Benjamin and Michele A. Flournoy at Slate think they have one: We don't really have more troops to send.

In fact, there are no more troops to send to Iraq.

That is the unmistakable message of an Army briefing making the rounds in Washington. According to in-house assessments, fully two-thirds of the Army's operating force, both active and reserve, is now reporting in as "unready"–that is, they lack the equipment, people, or training they need to execute their assigned missions. Not a single one of the Army's Brigade Combat Teams–its core fighting units–currently in the United States is ready to deploy. In short, the Army has no strategic reserve to speak of. The other key U.S. fighting force in Iraq, the Marine Corps, is also hurting, with much of its equipment badly in need of repair or replacement.

The Slate piece is detailed, sobering, and worth reading in full, painting a vivid picture of history's most expensive and vast military crumbling away in the desert sands.

NEXT: Narc of the Matinee

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  1. So many mistakes, it’s tough to know where to start, so let’s think big.

    The Republicans still don’t understand the nature of the terror problem we’re facing. They are too obsessed with their state-centric view of the world, and haven’t learned from the handful of men with box cutters and pepper spray that states and their capacities aren’t our biggest problem anymore. They made the same mistake in the Cold War, assuming every local peasant uprising was really an expression of Soviet foreign policy, and now they’re doing the same thing.

    Two days after 9/11, Donald Rumsfeld says “There are no good targets in Afghanistan. There are plenty of good targets in Iraq.”

    As the commanders at Tora Bora were forced to hire a Taliban ally to guard the back door, there were 30,000 American troops garrisoning Kabul.

    Of course there’s the decision to call the ballgame in Afghanistan once the government’s forces were military defeated, weaken the hunt for bin Laden, and concentrate on regime change in Iraq.

    And now, as Anbar province is basically in the hands of Al Qaeda linked international jihadists – an area the size of New Hampshire existing as a stateless land, available to operate freely and set up camps – Serious Thinkers(TM) have decided that the really important battle is to defeat the Iraqi Sunni insurgency in the capital, in order to secure the government.

    Bush, Rice, and Cheney sneered at Clinton, Berger, and Albright when they said that Al Qaeda was the biggest national security threat, because they were more interested in great power jousting with China, competition with the European Union, and other geopolitical statecraft. The only change the attacks on Washington and New York made in these people’e way of thinking – attacks which required just $200,000, less than two dozen volunteers, and a plan – was to change the states they decided to focus on.

    It’s great to dream big, and try to buy the world a Coke. Democratization should always be the touchstone of our foreign policy. But they’ve got a job to do – fighting Al Qaeda – and they just aren’t interested in doing it.

  2. You mean Lowry & Kristol forgot to count their toy soldiers before they started to play “war”? What bad boys–no ice cream for them tonight.

  3. The military model of going after Bin Laden has worked so well, we should send more troops! If that stupid Path to 9/11 movie is to be believed, the law enforcement model at least got close to Bin Laden, had contacts and leads, had enough info to create an opportunity. Bush’s military model hasn’t come anywhere near the law enforcement model. Yes, yes, Clinton got a blowjob and didn’t kill Bin Laden. Clinton and the FBI/CIA got a hell of a lot closer than Bush and the Army.

  4. There are five important words in the Slate’s article, “making the rounds in Washington”. The Army wants billions for the future combat system and billions more to maintain a legacy force. You can’t always trust what the Army or the generals say. They want money will always plead poverty. Please go find me one time in history the Army, or any federal agency for that matter, claimed to be fully funded and in no need of additional funds? You won’t find one.

    The military is not melting into the sands. Not that it couldn’t use more money, but you cannot take its claims of poverty at face value, no matter how happy it makes you or how much it fits into your agenda.

  5. There are five important words in the Slate’s article, “making the rounds in Washington”. The Army wants billions for the future combat system and billions more to maintain a legacy force. You can’t always trust what the Army or the generals say. They want money will always plead poverty. Please go find me one time in history the Army, or any federal agency for that matter, claimed to be fully funded and in no need of additional funds? You won’t find one.

    The military is not melting into the sands. Not that it couldn’t use more money, but you cannot take its claims of poverty at face value, no matter how happy it makes you or how much it fits into your agenda.

  6. If only they opened their eyes and actually looked into what would be necessary in the ways of intelligence, supplies, and manpower to combat terrorism correctly, instead of jumping headfirst into this shallow pool, we wouldn’t have this debacle. There were a ton of mistakes made by the previous administrations of the last 20-30 years in the area of combating terrorism, so it is not completely the current administration. This is an ignored problem by both democrats and republicans.

  7. Lamar,

    I really think Bin Laden is dead. More importantly and depressingly, he is just that important. If you look at Bali, London and Madrid, the real threat is not some CHAOS like Al-quada, but free lance cells operating independently all over the world. If the U.S. had killed Bin Ladin in 2001, while it would have been nice to seem laying on a marble slab, it wouldn’t have prevented any of the attacks that have followed.

  8. If you look at Bali, London and Madrid, the real threat is not some CHAOS like Al-quada, but free lance cells operating independently all over the world.

    In your assessment, what is the best way to deal with independent freelancers?

  9. I dunno, you may be right. But if killing him doesn’t change anything, why would they work so hard to give off the impression that he’s still alive?

  10. In your assessment, what is the best way to deal with independent freelancers?

    Use their own religious cant against them. Do the things to their families that will deny them entrance to Paradise. Then the freelancer will have to ask himself, is my suicidal-martyrdom worth condemning ALL of my family to eternal torment?

    You have to speak to people in a language they understand.

  11. Henry,

    They did not count their toy soldiers; now they are losing this ?game? of war, so they are pounding their fists on the table for Daddy to buy more soldiers. When they lose this little game, they will blame Daddy for not buying enough (or the right kind) of soldiers.

  12. John, “Please go find me one time in history the Army, or any federal agency for that matter, claimed to be fully funded and in no need of additional funds?”

    When the Republican Congress passed a bill authorizing the construction of another destroyer at a shipyard in Trent Lott’s district, which the Pentagon said it didn’t want. This was 2002 or 2003.

    “If you look at Bali, London and Madrid, the real threat is not some CHAOS like Al-quada, but free lance cells operating independently all over the world.” Core Al Qaeda have already proven how dangerous they are. You don’t leave a bank robber safe in his house just because he hasn’t robbed a bank lately, because you just know that he’ll rob one as soon as he gets the chance, and his probably looking for a chance.

    Not to mention, when people look at a strong horse and a weak horse, they naturally like the strong horse. The fact that bin Laden is still at large makes us look like a weak horse.

  13. You have to speak to people in a language they understand.

    “The only language these people understand is…”
    That phrase is a classic prequel to atrocity.

  14. The Army wants billions for the future combat system and billions more to maintain a legacy force.

    Maybe they want money for bullets that have been in short supply. Or VA Benefits which have been slashed. Or body armor which has not been provided – or been provided but doesn’t pass military specs.

    Maybe they think it’s stupid to maintain large carrier and submarine fleets when our future military engagements are looking like land-based affairs. Maybe they think it’s silly to send their men and women to war when the current administration is gutting the provisions in the Geneva Convention that they feel might protect them.

    Maybe they object to administration-endorsed intelligence operatives committed to the practice of torture, which only serves to make the job of the military left to pick up the pieces harder.

    In other words, maybe the military is essentially on strike…unwilling to commit more troops and resources to a foolish idealistic boondoggle that show little chance for success and in which their taskmasters seem to have little invested.

    And maybe they’re trying to force a tin-eared president and his cronies do something they’ve failed to do for the past 5 years….shut up and listen.

  15. In your assessment, what is the best way to deal with independent freelancers?

    Mine would be the same as the way you deal with theft or rape. Realize you’ll never get rid of it and use law enforcement to fight it. Don’t make it the top issue election after election when a terrorist hasn’t touched a hair on an American’s head on American soil in five years.

  16. joe

    If the Democratic party elects 70 Senators and 400 House members this November, they would NOT send the American contingent in Iraq to Afghanistan…so why talk horseshit?

    It’s over. The Jihadis kicked our ass in Iraq, and they can kick it in Afghanistan (as they will demonstrate, presently).

    And it’s all Bush’s fault, and I hope he will die of a very painful ass-cancer, and spend eternity in hell. Feel better now?

    So what do we do? Go home.

    Why go to Afghanistan? Is that a better place to fight Jihadis? Maybe not…and if we “win” there, what do we win? After we withdraw from Iraq, how do we “save honor” by catching Bin-Ladin, or whatever? Who would be impressed in the Arab world, after we beat feet in Iraq?

  17. joe

    If the Democratic party elects 70 Senators and 400 House members this November, they would NOT send the American contingent in Iraq to Afghanistan…so why talk nonsense?

    It’s over. The Jihadis kicked our behind in Iraq, and they can kick it in Afghanistan (as they will demonstrate, presently).

    And it’s all Bush’s fault, and I hope he will die of a very painful ass-cancer, and spend eternity in hell. Feel better now?

    So what do we do? Go home.

    Why go to Afghanistan? Is that a better place to fight Jihadis? Maybe not…and if we “win” there, what do we win? After we withdraw from Iraq, how do we “save honor” by catching Bin-Ladin, or whatever? Who would be impressed in the Arab world, after we beat feet in Iraq?

  18. “When the Republican Congress passed a bill authorizing the construction of another destroyer at a shipyard in Trent Lott’s district, which the Pentagon said it didn’t want. This was 2002 or 2003.” – joe

    Dude, bad example. The military still wanted that money, they just wanted to spend it on something useful rather than a pork project to buff up a sagging state’s economy. Don’t confuse political pork nonsense spending with the DoD actually claiming they need less money. They’re just begging that it not be ear-marked for boondoggles.

  19. “When the Republican Congress passed a bill authorizing the construction of another destroyer at a shipyard in Trent Lott’s district, which the Pentagon said it didn’t want. This was 2002 or 2003.” – joe

    Dude, bad example. The military still wanted that money, they just wanted to spend it on something useful rather than a pork project to buff up a sagging state’s economy. Don’t confuse political pork nonsense spending with the DoD actually claiming they need less money. They’re just begging that it not be ear-marked for boondoggles.

  20. First, if I knew the real readiness of various Army units, I couldn’t say because that information is classified. The report may be true. All I am saying is never take what generals tell Congress at face value. They are always going to underplay readiness and overplay needs. That is what federal agencies do.

    Further, the Pentegon loves to build armies but it is loath to use them. If they had their way, we would have a gold plated trillion dollar army that we would never use under any circumstances. There is more than a little of this going on in the Powell doctrine. The Powell doctrine in some ways is general speak for “don’t send us to war unless it is really easy and won’t mess up much of our stuff.”

    Yes war is hard and fighting an insurgency of lunatics in two separate countries have way around the world is really fucking hard. It takes its toll on the Army and military. It tends to break stuff and that stuff has to be replaced. The only that can’t be replaced is people and the U.S. has lost about 12,000 out of a force of over a million. So, no I don’t think the miltitary is melting away in the desert despite Reason’s apparent hopeful glee at the prospect.

  21. The proper model for fighting terrorists who are not state-sponsored is the the same one used for the suppression of piracy. Fighting state-sponsored terrorism has a different set of rules, which we properly used when we deposed the Taliban regime. Trying to fit Iraq into the same category as Afghanistan was a huge category mistake, one that shouldn’t be compounded with a “continue what you are doing, only more of it” strategy.

    What Kristol and Lowry are advocating is that Iraq should be, effectively, an American protectorate for some indefinite period. Western Europe was something like that for a long time after WWII, but at least there we had a unity of purpose with the UK, and the presence of an imminent outside threat from the Warsaw Pact countries motivated most of the Europeans to build up their capabilities to a credible level. The outside forces on Iraq wouldn’t lead to a conquest by one enemy power, but a splintering into its component parts, which neighboring states might gobbble up.

    You want a post-Iraq nightmare? Howzabout the U.S. caught in the middle as Iran, Syria and our NATO ally Turkey vie to absorb an independent Kurdistan? It could be the Marsh Arabs all over again.

    Kevin

  22. rob,

    IIRC, that money was above and beyond the Pentagon’s budget request, and put into the appropriations bill by the Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Andrew,

    “If the Democratic party elects 70 Senators and 400 House members this November, they would NOT send the American contingent in Iraq to Afghanistan.” A Democratic Congress would not immediately pull all the troops out of Iraq, but it would immediately change the government’s policy to one of disengagement on a timeline.

    “The Jihadis kicked our behind in Iraq…” The jihadis did not kick our behind in Iraq. The Iraqi Sunni insurgents, maybe you could make an argument for, but the jihadis didn’t do squat to us. Even the Sunnis didn’t kick our ass – they just managed to keep going, and it’s not in our interest to keep fighting them. Our interest lies in taking the wind out of their sails, so that a third of them will go home, another third will come over to the government’s side, and the remaining third and their jihadi allies will be defeated – by the Iraqis. Our withdrawal needs to be used as a tool to make the necessary political conditions happen. I just hope there’s enough brian power left in the executive branch to pull off our role.

    “…and they can kick it in Afghanistan (as they will demonstrate, presently).” I agree that staying in Afghanistan too long could bring that about, but I don’t think it’s imminent. I agree that it is getting to be time for our main forces to pull back from occupying that country (so their political process can pick up steam, too), but the most important task – getting the top Al Qaeda – is something that’s going to have to continue regardless of the presence of active-duty US troops in Afghanistan. As in Iraq, we need to use the process of establising a withdrawal policy, and the withdrawal itself, as tools for getting the Afghani political process moving the way we want it. Ultimately, the goal is for an independent Afghanistan to do with the Taliban what Tony Blair did with the IRA – negotiate a just peace that coopted most of them into the political system, and prying them away from the remaining hardliners.

    “And it’s all Bush’s fault, and I hope he will die of a very painful ass-cancer, and spend eternity in hell. Feel better now?” No, I still feel like crap. I want my soldiers back.

    “Who would be impressed in the Arab world, after we beat feet in Iraq?” If we leave on our own terms, having achieved what I outlined above, the jihadis will be not be able to claim either a military victory, or a PR victory. Although if we hang around until we’re landing helicopters on the embassy roof, then we’re in deep doodoo.

  23. Dude, bad example. The military still wanted that money, they just wanted to spend it on something useful rather than a pork project to buff up a sagging state’s economy.

    And that’s bad? ‘Cause we all know how useful naval destoyers are in desert and urban warfare with an almost completely landlocked country.

  24. First, if I knew the real readiness of various Army units, I couldn’t say because that information is classified. The report may be true. All I am saying is never take what generals tell Congress at face value. They are always going to underplay readiness and overplay needs. That is what federal agencies do.

    Very true, but there are some objective standards to look at. Take, for example, utilization of the individual ready reserve, and signing bonuses that are up to $60,000 in the marine corps, along with the fact that the army has raised its age for enlistment to 42. In the officer corps of the army, promotion rates for captains are nearing 100%, whereas only a few years ago, 80% was considered to be far to high to ensure the exclusion of unqualified candidates. Waivers for recruits with a history of criminal misconduct are up more than 50%. It’s pretty clear that the military is under strain.

  25. Commanders in Iraq have been complaining anonymously about an insufficient number of troops for years now.

    For some reason, the fact that they say they have enough troops when ordered to has made this subject off limits.

  26. I guess I’m an odd man out on this one.

    I say send more troops, hell, I’ve been saying that for 3 years. I agree that Iraq has been one failure after another. Those failure, for the most part, have been a result of the inability to keep an area secure because of low troop levels. Once you secure a town, you can’t leave. You must stay and keep it secure. We were unable to do that. Nor did we have the manpower to secure the conventional weapons depots. That mistake has costed us dearly. We needed about 350,000 troops from the start.

    One could argue that more troops won’t change bad planning. True, but security was always part of the plan.

    I agree with Jon Stewart. If this war is as important as Bush says it is, we need to use everything we got. So why hold back.

    For what little I believe in Bush, I believe he is right when he talks about what is at stake.

    War is similiar to flying in that takeoffs are optional, landings are not. This war was one of Bush’s option, it was not necessary. But now that it’s started we must finish it. Failure to do so will prove to the world we are beatable. Some could argue that Korea and Vietnamn alreadly but that was then, this is now.

    The AQ Iraq model will be the proven model to defeat us worldwide and I fully expect to see that model used in other areas of the MidEast, Africa and Asia.

    Hizbollah’s popularity increased after Israel pulled back. How popular do we want AQ to be?

    I have little confidence that Iraq will be resolved in our favor in the near future, if at all. But the only way to solve the security problem is with more boots, but with boots that’s not interested in sectarian partisanship. That’s going to be the downfall of the current plan.

    We broke it, we bought it. There were many setbacks and failures, can’t change the past all we can do is figure out how to make it work, or leave.

  27. I think that Bush won’t go all in because he knows that it would not be popular politically. Unfortunately, this holding action only ensures that a bunch of our boys will get maimed and killed for little progress. It’s sickening. I agree that we either need to set some parameters for “victory”, achieve those parameters, and get out. Or send in a helluva lot more troops and start kicking some serious ass.

  28. Of course, V for A lacks the serious thinkers of John & Sgt Skis calibre, but to get another view you might try here
    http://www.VeteransforAmerica.org/index.cfm/Page/Article/ID/7913

  29. “And that’s bad?” – madpad

    Nope, it’s just a bad EXAMPLE.

    “IIRC, that money was above and beyond the Pentagon’s budget request, and put into the appropriations bill by the Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee.” – joe

    Apparently YDRC (you don’t recall correctly)! In fact, you’re the guy who said it was in the original appropriations bill:

    “The flip side is that the destroyer being built in Trent Lott’s district doesn’t make the list, because it was in the original appropriations bill, despite the fact that the Pentagon has said they don’t want it. Lazy methodology.”

    Comment by: joe at April 8, 2004 02:27 AM

    You can find that at https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2004/04/2004_pig_book.shtml

    You’re starting to sound like a guy who will say anything to bolster his argument, even if you said something the exact opposite before. You never struck me as the kind of guy who’d go out on a limb for any little twig of a bad argument before.

  30. If only three years in Iraq and only 3,000 dead causes our armed forces to “crumble away in the desert,” then our military wasn’t much to speak of in the first place.

    It should be repeated: consider the source.

    Just because you might agree with teh disposition of the person complaining doesn’t mean they’re right.

  31. A small point, but if the Army was crumbling away, how can one explain the overwhelming reenlistment rates of among those who are currently deployed?

    Money does play a part, true, but is $10,000-$20,000 for a 4 year reenlistment really incentive enough when you know that you will be in Iraq or Afghanistan (or Beirut, or Liberia, or whatever hotspot flairs up in the near future)
    at least 2 times before that commitment is fulfilled?

    Yes, the war is taking a toll on personnel and equipment, but we are hardly crumbling away.

  32. Nice semantic argument, rob. Well done; you caught me using the term “original bill” in two difference senses. I imagine my credibility is throughly shot now.

    The old comment refered to an anti-pork study which only listed earmarks added to the bill as pork. Items included in the bill when it was first drafted weren’t included in the study.

    Today’s comment was about the Pentagon’s requested budget vs. what Congress authorized.

    Do you understand that the difference?

    You’re starting to sound like someone who’s reaching for an argument to knock me down, and who doesn’t understand the apporpriations process very well.

  33. “A small point, but if the Army was crumbling away, how can one explain the overwhelming reenlistment rates of among those who are currently deployed?”

    1. Courage in the face of adversity.

    2. Intensive effort at promoting re-enlistment by Army brass who are aware of their personnel problem.

    3. A recognition by the troops that the situation is so dire that failure to re-enlist would leave their comrades shorthanded.

  34. In other words, Joe, these people- our best & brightest- tho they have been foully betrayed by the gross criminal incompetance of the civilian leadership, from malfeasant planning, to cooked intel, to propaganda capaigns to drum up support, soldier on, because of the guy next to them, & not smarmy slogans?
    Christ. Sounds like my war.
    And it looks to me this current bunch of weasels need jailing, no matter how hard they make chickenhawk dicks.
    Expect increasing chickhawk smearing of this band of brothers- Im sure they wouldnt have it any other way.
    http://www.ivaw.net/

  35. Money does play a part, true, but is $10,000-$20,000 for a 4 year reenlistment really incentive enough when you know that you will be in Iraq or Afghanistan…at least 2 times before that commitment is fulfilled?

    Let’s ask the military. According to the USA Today 7/17/2006 article…

    Army officials attribute the strong re-enlistment rates to unprecedented cash bonuses and a renewed sense of purpose in fighting terrorism.

    Th article goes on to say that the average bonus is $10,000 but can be as little as $1,000 or as much as $150,000 for senior special operations commandos who agree to stay in the military for up to six more years.

    The army is 6% ahead in its re-enlistment goals. But it’s 15% behind its goal of recruiting 80,000 soldiers by Sept. 30.

    Said Col. Debbra Head, who monitors Army retention at the Pentagon “The biggest thing is that soldiers believe in what they are doing.”

    But of course she’s going to say that.

    Half a point goes to SFC SKI. Retention is, at best, a marginal indicator of effectiveness. And (as a more accurate read of the “crumbling away” analogy suggests) absolutely no indicator of equipment wear & tear.

    If you read the article, most of the problem is identified as equipment, personnel and training with equipment being a particular standout. It points out that current equipment has been cannabilized, forward deployed and reserve equipment has been appropriated and replacement costs are going to cut very deep into the military budget – squeezing out other things.

    Which brings us to presonnel and training. After basic training, most training is with – you guessed it – equipment. And with the Army ahead in reenlistments…but behind some 3-4 fold in new enlistees, well, you can see that the Army has got some serious problems.

    I don’t think the word “Crumbling” is that far off the mark.

    If they want to fight it AND win it…they got to fund it.

  36. joe
    hope this gets through. You have been “protected” by someone at H&R who wants to prevent “abusive” replies – I am guessing that’s the same guy who kept Gary Gunnells/Jean Bart off my back all those years? Nice to know H/R has become such a genteel place!

    To respond, you miss (slip) my point. If you want to say that we are not beaten in Iraq, because we can continue to stay, you may as well say we were not beaten in Viet Nam, because we could have continued to stay…(and, BTW, the helicopters pulling refugees off the embassy roof in Saigon was the result of slipping troops out piecemeal on a political agenda.)

    What is the point of “beginning” the withdrawl, and “drawing down” troops? Do you want to make the dwindling forces remaining more vulnerable? To paraphrase someone you know – who will be the last to die for a mistake? They all should leave together.

    Now I hope they let me comment this time.

  37. Also joe

    I am expecting you to chime in with michael Young, that Israel won big in Lebanon…the same way we are holding our own in Iraq.

    Oh hell, let’s go home and call it a defeat…then we learn the lesson of it.

    And RE Afghan…if Timothy McVeigh and some followers had slipped away and found some caves there – and the fleeing Taliban took some liking to them – would you send an army after him?

    (Before you say it…you would, if McVeigh had nailed Twin Towers – that’s what the “competamt” guys would do?)

  38. Paraphrasing John: “Never take what the military says at face value”. I’ve followed that principal ever since the late 1970’s, when the Navy said the Soviets had a blue-water navy that threatened to control all the world’s oceans and we needed 10 more aircraft carriers.

  39. Andrew, first, give me a minute to recover from your unconscionable abuse. Happy place, happy place.

    OK, there. I got your point – you miss mine. I wrote that we were not defeated in Iraq BY THE JIHADIS. I’m drawing a distinction between the foreign Al Qaeda types and the indigineous Iraqi nationalists. I think it is entirely possible we could be defeated by the Iraqi insurgency, but not by the relative handful of Al Qaedists.

    I don’t think that the insurgents have won yet, because their goal – the destruction of the new national government – has not been achieved. There is still a chance for it to succeed, if we and the Iraqis are able to bring about the type of political settlement I mentioned above.

    “What is the point of “beginning” the withdrawl, and “drawing down” troops? Do you want to make the dwindling forces remaining more vulnerable? To paraphrase someone you know – who will be the last to die for a mistake? They all should leave together.” Maybe a wholesale withdrawal will turn out to be the best way to achieve what I discussed above, but I think stages in a withdrawal will need to be part of a process, one that unfolds hand in hand with a political process. Thus, the Vietnam comparison isn’t apt, because that was a withdrawal that took place in the midst of the war, while this would be a withdrawal that is part of ending the war. In this sense, politics will be war by other means, a tactic we use to achieve victory.

    Your use of “piecemeal” suggests that units will be engaged in the same actions, but with fewer and fewer troops; that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about pursuing a political process that will reduce the fighting our forces will have to do in parallel with the reductions in those forces. How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? You don’t make him the last man to die for a mistake – you make sure that his struggle and sacrifice are helping to achieve real goals – in this case, providing the “stick” we’re going to need the carrot/stick negotiations with the government and the opposition.

    “I am expecting you to chime in with michael Young, that Israel won big in Lebanon.” Then you don’t really understand where I’m coming from. I commented on the first thread about the Hezbollah war that Olmert was an idiot, and that his way of fighting was going to hand Hezbollah a victory. And I took a great deal of grief from our resident Bushies for being right and declaring that Israel had lost, along with the requisite charges of anti-semitism. If you read and think about what I say, rather than assuming what I must believe, then you won’t have to make such poor guesses.

    “Oh hell, let’s go home and call it a defeat…then we learn the lesson of it.” Let’s go home, call it a mistake, learn the lessons of it – and try to do so in a manner that minimizes the damage we’ve caused. I think that using the promise and reality of disengagement is a tool we could use to do this.

    “if Timothy McVeigh and some followers had slipped away and found some caves there – and the fleeing Taliban took some liking to them – would you send an army after him?” I’d send the forces appropriate for overthrowing the Taliban to do that, and the forces appropriate for neutralizing McVeigh and his friends to do that.

  40. APL,

    I said: You have to speak to people in a language they understand.

    Which you turned into “The only language these people understand is…”
    That phrase is a classic prequel to atrocity.

    If you do bad things to innocent people, which is precisely what I was suggesting, then yes you morally lose. If that stops people from doing bad things to you (i.e. your countrymen), you might consider that a win. Which of the preceding two statements is more important will dictate which action you would choose.

  41. joe

    You’re a Hawk! The “outcomes” you describe are synonyms for Victory, and you want to win the war, not end it. You see this as a Clemanceau Moment, when the capable leader takes over from the incompetants, and turns the situation around.

    And you must be Super-Rumsfeld…going to cover more ground, in less time, with fewer troops and fewer casualties than the Administration…and without being in control of the White House, but leveraging a tiny Majority in Nancy Pelosi’s House?

    No wonder the Democrats aren’t going over the top this Fall, if that’s the Message. Your fable sounds less plausible that the Administrations.

    The American people already think the War hasn’t been worth it…but if they think honor obligates them to one last try, they are going to try with Bush.

    This is what has been happening to the Democrats for five years. They have been up against sincere Neo-Cons, and mostly out of political cowardice, they have served up a cobbled-together version of Neo-Con Lite they don’t believe in themselves…and it hasn’t worked with the electorate. The only thing offering the low-rent economy version of the Administration’s approach does, is continue to persuade people the Real Thing must be worth having.

    You CAN’T get to the Adminastration’s Right on these issues…it’s time to get on their Left.

  42. Andrew,

    Not really. I’m pretty much just trying to minimize the damage, and take the path that gives Iraq the best chance of not collapsing into too bad a disaster.

    I’m all for getting out, because staying will certainly be a disaster – but I think we can be a little smarter about it.

    You don’t seem to have understood a word I’ve written.

  43. joe

    I venture to say I’m a little bit smarter than the average bear – you disagree? – and if I haven’t understood a word you’re saying…what’s that tell you about your election year message?

  44. joe

    It is more than apparent by now that you are some sort of activist – likely a paid one, else you’re a rather weird human being – and let me give you a tip…activists aren’t supposed to be deep and confusing, they’re supposed to be understandable.

    Your trouble is, you are pleading for ALL Democrats, including the ones who signed off on the worst FP mistake in 40 years – about half of ’em – and the ones who are still too timid to confront it – most of ’em.

    An impossible task.

  45. Andrew,
    I don’t think joe is a paid DNC shill, if that’s what you’re thinking.

    I do think he has taken a long deep gulp of some of the stranger flavors of Kool Aid the left has to offer, but not the weirdest flavors.

    joe,
    You’re the guy who can’t keep his story straight.

    “The old comment refered to an anti-pork study which only listed earmarks added to the bill as pork. Items included in the bill when it was first drafted weren’t included in the study.

    Today’s comment was about the Pentagon’s requested budget vs. what Congress authorized.”

    “You’re starting to sound like someone who’s reaching for an argument to knock me down, and who doesn’t understand the apporpriations process very well.” – joe

    Nah, I just think your example was weak, and you apparently can’t even keep your example on track.

    “I imagine my credibility is throughly shot now.” – joe

    Again, nah… You do a good job of that every time you start up with ad hominem attacks and spitting up bile about the current administration that rivals the GOP’s greatest hits during the Clinton adminstration.

  46. rob

    I don’t think joe shills for the DNC…but I think he shills for somebody – I would guess some foundation from the Kennedy family.

    He has a tightly focused agenda, a ton of information and talking points at his fingertips, and a pattern of commenting that is inconsistent with an amateur with other things to do…for at least three years now, uninterruptedly.

    joe is a “net-root activist”. I don’t mind…but it’s important to remember that you aren’t in a philosophical exploration of the issues with joe – it’s more like a workout on a treadmill.

  47. Andrew,
    I don’t think so. I just think joe is a guy with a decent-paying gov’t gig and a lot of time on his hands. I think he’s probably a “city planner” of some sort.

    If he were paid to be a “net-root activist” he would be better at it than he is. The ad hom attacks, the failure to refrain from making some seriously piss-poor arguments all indicate a guy who is passionate about the issues, but not someone who treats it like a job. The fact that he’s well-informed from a fairly left/DNC POV just indicates that he gets his well-informed POV from certain slanted sources.

    Those folks have created a very definite view of the world and what is right that only people who share the same flavors of Kool Aid amongst themselves are going to agree with.

    Generally speaking, in my experience, most libertarians tend to have enough of a 3rd viewpoint that they often end up taking the piss out of both the left and the right…

  48. rob

    I still disagree, though you might be right. I would guess you can’t make a living at “net root activist” (at least, not a good one), so I had figured – like you said – either a fuck-off job, or a student maybe.

    The reason that he isn’t “good at it” is inherent. Because of his broad-spectrum agenda. Joe isn’t a kossack, or someone from say Move-On. Whoever he gets his stuff from follows the !!th Commandment…never criticise a fellow Democrat.

    Doesn’t give him much room to maneuver, right? It’s the dilemma of the Dems as a whole – they can’t take a principled position on the issues of substance, for the sake of the Hive…why they keep blowing it.

  49. I rest my case.

    joe hasn’t disputed this…and you KNOW he checked the thread – it’s still on the page, and he ALWAYS responds.

  50. You two are funny.

    Are you that dicomfited by arguing with an actual liberal that you have to posit all of these conspiracies?

    I’m a guy with a viewpoint and a flexible schedule.

  51. Nope. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had much trouble punching holes in your rhetoric, joe.

    Ken Schultz, on the other hand, when he’s not freaking out, resorting to profanity, and basically “screaming” the same nonsense over and over again, can be pretty tough to handle.

    Compared to Ken, you’re kind of lightweight, joe. And Ken’s actually fairly conservative.

    “I’m a guy with a viewpoint and a flexible schedule.” – joe

    So you’re NOT a city planner type? You’re NOT a gov’t employee? I could have sworn you said that’s what you do for a living on one of the old threads…

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