Donald Ducks Out

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CNN is reporting that Donald Rumsfeld has resigned as Secretary of Defense. More as it comes in.

UPDATE: Here's the story.

President Bush said Wednesday Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is stepping down and former CIA Director Robert Gates will take over at the Pentagon and in prosecuting the war in Iraq.

Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, intends to resign after six stormy years at the Pentagon, Republican officials said.

UPDATE: Bad timing award on the day goes to this Reuters story, sent out at 10:50 a.m.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the face of U.S. war policy and a lightning rod for critics worldwide, will not be forced out just because he faces a tougher time from resurgent Democrats.

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  1. He’s resigned before. The difference is that this time the president accepted Rumsfeld’s offer.

  2. Looks like AP is calling Montana for Tester, as well.

  3. This is a good thing.

  4. If the Republicans have conceded MT and VA to the Dems, giving them the Senate, then the Rumsfeld resignation was the logical move. Next step is for Bush to appoint Lieberman to SecDef and let the Repub governor of CT appoint a Republican to Joe’s seat. That puts the Senate back under GOP control, with Cheney’s tie-breaker vote.

  5. Thanks a lot asshole. Couldn’t do it two weeks ago, could ya? No, of course not.

  6. you can’t front-run your own inevitable firing and expect people to believe you resigned by choice. When will Republicans learn? never.

  7. Woo-motherfucking-hoo!!! Pardon my french.
    See? The Dems’ victory is good for the country.

  8. Good riddance!!!

  9. “Why the glum faces?”

    George has told two jokes so far in this press conference, and they both fell flat as a pancake. You’d think there’d be some lessons learned on joke-telling lately…

  10. Robert Gates seems to be his replacement. He is the former Director of the CIA.

  11. That guy has to have set a record for the longest time between a FUBAR and the fall guy falling.

  12. 3.5 years and several hundred thousand civilian deaths too late.

    but atleast theres hope….

  13. Good that Rummy’s gone, but Cheney’s still Vice President and Bush is still a fool.

  14. Ding, dong the witch is dead–the wicked witch is dead!

  15. 20 bucks says the President eventually pardons his melts-in-water ass.

    Why?! Because of Abu Gharib, fool!

  16. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a President eat so much shit-sandwich in such a sort period of time.

    Such is the price of unbridled arrogance. But I would love so much to put my foot up Hugo Chavez’s ass, to get that smug grin off his face (granted, the greaseball is an ex-paratrooper).

  17. This is awesome, but where is the benefit to the GOP? Two weeks ago it might have saved a seat or two, but now it just looks like the Dems are kicking ass right out of the gate. What does the Bush administration get out of this?

  18. Brian,

    Doesn’t “fall guy” imply that he doesn’t shoulder too much blame? It’s unfair to call him the fall guy. Let’s say this is the start of something great.

  19. vanya: I fear that makes too much sense to actually happen.

  20. Dru,

    I imagine this gets Bush some allies in the Pentagon who hated Rummy. With potential hearings on Iraq coming up (run by dems), it is key to have allies in the pentagon. It also gives Bush a nice defense when he is criticized by Dems for Iraq policy. “The day you guys won, I replaced Rummy? we are really turning the corner now. All of the other crap was Rummy’s fault.” Etc?

  21. What does the Bush administration get out of this?

    Cut and run! 🙂

  22. Time for a Presidential medal of freedom!

  23. My only regret is that Rumsfeld was not fired. Sooner.

    Of course, for all we know, Bush may have turned to Rumsfeld while watching the results last night and said the Donald Trump line. But even if he did, it’s something he should have said much, much sooner.

    Now we have to content ourselves with Rumsfeld wanting to spend more time with his family.

  24. crap-action_jackson

    HA!!

  25. Ortega gets elected, and Gates comes out of retirement. With things heating up in Iran, perhaps the Republicans are looking to reach waaay back in their playbook.

  26. Now we have to content ourselves with Rumsfeld wanting to spend more time with his family.

    Huh? I thought he was leaving to begin work on his ’08 presidential run…

  27. Certainly no one in the Petnagon will be crying, although a lot of the whining from DOD about Rumsfeld had as much to do about bruised egos than anything else. A lot of the people he abused deserved what they got and then some.

    Rumsfeld was right about how to win in Afghanistan and wrong about how to win in Iraq. A small force was the right answer in Afghanistan. He was completly wrong in thinking that wiping out the top of the govenrment was all that was necessary in Iraq and completly misunderstood the measures that it takes to beat an insurgency.

    Further, Rumsfeld was completely wrong about detatinee operations. Him along with Cho and Gonzlalez (the singly most incompetant war time official in U.S. history) took what should have been a simple task of taking the simple, efficient and ruthlessly effective Nuremburg rules off of the shelf and managed to fuck up the entire operation beyond recognition and hand our enemies endless amounts of propaganda while not convicting or executing one terrorist. For all of his good ideas and there were many, these flaws combined with his bean counting force decisions (trying to kill the Army, pulling out of Germany) far outweigh them. He should have been replaced in 2004. Why Bush waited two years is beyond me.

  28. Is there any way to stop presidents from handing out pardons?

  29. Rumsfeld was right about how to win in Afghanistan…

    That’s why we’re done there, right? All those troops came home and all the fighting is over. Yeah, great job, Rummy.

  30. John: I have heard that criticism of Rumsfeld’s detainee policy from various quarters, most of them JAG’s who went public. What is your theory for Rumsfeld’s position on this. Arrogance?

  31. High number,

    The Army wanted to put in a Corps. Rumsfeld did it Special Forces and air power. The taking down of the Taliban was nothing short of brilliant. Are we still fighting there? Of course we are BECAUSE WARS ARE FUCKING HARD. We could have put a million people into Afghanistan and still be fighting there today and it wouldn’t have made a dime’s worth of difference. We will be fighting those fanatics for the rest of mine and probably my children’s lives. I really don’t see an end to it.

    But, you are definitely ahead of the curve. I have no doubt that once the Democrats have gotten us to cut and run in Iraq, the drum beat will start about the “unjust aggressive, mistaken war” in Afghanistan and how we are in a quagmire and can never win.

  32. 76,

    Yes. Impeachment and conviction. I really, really want the Democrats to go after Bush. It would be fun for the whole family and add more “lock” to the impending gridlock. Without a witch hunt, the possibility of bispendourmoneyship is all too real.

  33. I retract my poor prognostication about Lieberman. I suppose that was wishful thinking on some peoples’ part.

    Now that we know that James Baker’s best friend is taking over as SecDef, this really looks to me like a palace coup by George Sr and his pals to make Junior clean up his mess. As soon as it became public that Baker was preparing an exit strategy we should have seen this coming. The question is did they delay announcing the change before the mid-terms in order to avoid appearing weak, or did Bush and Rumsfled try to resist but then caved under the pressure of the disastrous election results? Also I wonder if the unprecedented spectacle of the Army Times calling for Rummy’s resignation was not greenlighted by Bush I/Baker (implying that Junior and Rummy were indeed resisting). That editorial alone put a lot of pressure on Rumsfeld to go. What does Dubya do now? He has almost no allies – not on the left, not in the middle, not amongst the paleocons and by selling out Rumsfeld, “the greatest Secretary of Defense in the history of the United States”, he has probably alienated what was left of his LGF/Freeper/Powerline base. If we were a parliamentary democracy Bush would have to step down. As it is I think for the next two years Bush I and Baker will be pulling the strings.

  34. Ron,

    I think it was arrogance and amateurism. That is my best guess. There was a system for doing things. We did these things at Nuremburg. If they had taken the Nuremburg rules off of the shelf (the details of which would have put the media into shock) the U.S. could have said, these are promulgated by the U.N. and established international law, which they were. People could have whined and screamed about it, but in the end could not have said they were illegal. We could have grabbed these people, tried them by tribunal and sent a message that if you screw with the U.S. you end up on the end of a rope. Instead, Rummy and Gonzalez dreamed up their own system and gave the entire world a knife to stick in our backs and still haven’t tried anyone. I really think it was this idea that “we are smart people and this is a different kind of war” and we don’t need to pay any attention to the past or anyone who has been thinking about these issues.

  35. Rumsfeld was right about how to win in Afghanistan and wrong about how to win in Iraq.

    Did we win in Afghanistan? I had no idea!

  36. It’s interesting to watch people hammer Rumsfeld, the guy who was willing to stand up to entrenched bureaucratic generals and force them to begin the painful but necessary process of transformation. (Something which benefits everyone from the lowest enlisted ranks on the ground to the President and the taxpayer AND increases the country’s military capability).

    Rumsfeld’s war plan approach was what toppled the Taliban in Kabul and the Baathists in Baghdad both faster than anyone else could have even predicted AND faster and more effectively than any invasion in modern history.

    Abu Ghraib and Gitmo will eventually become minor references in the guy’s biography like My Lai for MacNamara, who is the only other SecDef to effectively institute sweeping and beneficial change in the DoD.

    The continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually come to be seen as the Bush (not Rumsfeld) policy mistake it is, and we’ll pull out with a promise to return if we have to – but won’t when we should.

    The enemies we went after during GWOT will learn the wrong lesson – that they can achieve victory by simply waiting the U.S. out until its political will diminishes and that the U.S. will uniformly fail to stand by those who trusted the U.S. to help them.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve got a pretty bad feeling the Kurds are going to get the short end of this stick as another mass grave marker.

    Could anyone have done a better job than Rumsfeld? Probably not. But the way these things work is that he’s been turned into some sort of boogey-man by the Dems. Well, I guess after the Repubs did it to MacNamara they had it coming.

  37. John =

    reconcile these points for me

    “We will be fighting those fanatics for the rest of mine and probably my children’s lives. I really don’t see an end to it.”
    AND
    “I have no doubt that once the Democrats have gotten us to cut and run in Iraq, the drum beat will start about the “unjust aggressive, mistaken war” in Afghanistan and how we are in a quagmire and can never win.”

    So… hold on. what is it? ‘Wars are Hard’…yeah. i think we are now clear on that. But what you seem to be saying here is that Afghanistan WILL and SHOULD require major US troop presence for next 30 years?

    And that anyone who doesnt think this ‘solution’ is actually ‘worth it’ is just a cut-and-run anti-military sissy?

    You make the point that we went in Afgnstn with special forces and air power; clearly, that wasnt a strategy to ‘take and hold’; it was to search and destroy, and get out. You declare this a brilliant strategy, and I might agree. but clearly it wasnt a strategy to STAY, and re-establish some kind of actual authority on the ground.

    You seem to be saying that it should be obvious to anyone that ‘wars are hard’ and therefore they CAN and SHOULD take decades of committment, with little questioning of objectives and costs?

    I think Afghanistan is certainly worth staying to help stabilize the country as much as poss, but there’s always a time when the cost-benefits run out.

    Like some other place i can think of…

  38. I fogot Les, this is 21st Century America, where all wars that don’t end in 100 hours or less and result in 12 or fewer casualties are deemed a disaster. Silly me. Perhaps you missed the whole part where some guy named Karazi was elected president of Aghanistan and Bin Ladin and Mullah Omar are hiding out in caves fearing for their lives.

  39. Rumsfeld was right about how to win in Afghanistan and wrong about how to win in Iraq. A small force was the right answer in Afghanistan.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the plan for Afghanistan came from the CIA, not the Pentagon.

  40. Gilmore,

    The problem is that if we leave Aghanistan and it is not stabilized, the Taliban will take back over and they will no doubt launch more terrorist attacks on us. Sometimes like just sucks. I am not an optimist about this. I think that is where we are right now. We have two choices, got to places like Afghanistan and fight endless insurgencies to keep these fanatics in check, or give up and wait around for them to inevietably get lucky and inflict a 9-11 or worse on us. I really don’t see an alternative.

  41. Zeiner, Rumsfeld made the final decision and deserves credit for thinking out of the box on it. It was the one time the “Revolution in Military Affairs” bullshit actually turned out to have some truth to it.

  42. I fogot Les, this is 21st Century America, where all wars that don’t end in 100 hours or less and result in 12 or fewer casualties are deemed a disaster.

    No John, most Americans are quite willing to sacrifice for a just war. It is pointless occupations we have a problem with. It may well be that history will agree with Rob – Rummy knew how to manage a war and the disastrous mismanagement of the subsequent occupations are Bush and Cheney’s fault. But either way getting sucked into becoming de facto rulers of Iraq and Afghanistan was always a stupid idea. We should smash our enemies then turn things over to the best available locals and leave, immediately. If new enemies arise we come back, smash them, turn the country over to new allies and leave again. Rinse and repeat until enemies stop appearing. This whole neo-colonial farce clearly is not working.

  43. Sorry about the overuse of italics above. And another thing, when did the Taliban ever launch an attack on us? I seem to remember it was a group of educated Saudis and Egyptians who carried out 9/11. The Taliban basically live in the 14th century and are usually quite consumed with their own local blood feuds and making sure women don’t get out line. The idea of the Taliban actually launching a terrorist attack against the US in US territory is ridiculous. If you’re concerned about the next 9/11 you should worry a lot more about muslim extremists in Europe

  44. Part of me agrees with you Vanya. I really don’t care if Afghanistan is a democracy or a craphole. That is up to the Afghans. The problem is that I am not sure we can smash our enemies and go home like we used to. Unlike the past, those enemies are capable of killing 1000s of American civilians. Terrorism is a different dynamic than just nation states. I don’t think smashing our enemies and going home solves the problem because like moles they just reapear whereever there is a failed state. We turn things over the locals and the rats come out of the their holes and take over again and the whole process starts anew. I agree with what you say in principle but I am not sure that works anymore. Like I said above, I am not an optimist. I don’t think there are any good sollutions.

  45. “Sorry about the overuse of italics above. And another thing, when did the Taliban ever launch an attack on us?”

    The Taliban were bankrolled by Bin Ladin and provided support and protection to Al Quada. After 9-11, they refused to turn over Al Quada or do anything to stop them from conducting attacks. Under international law, that is the same as actually attacking us.

  46. John,
    You’re comparing apples and oranges: the INVASTION of Afghanistan and the OCCUPATION of Iraq. The initial conflict in both nations was stunningly sucessful, but the followup occupation has been a quagmire.

    rob,
    The Kurds are going to come out of all of this fine. They have the best militia (the Peshmurga) and control the most stable, peaceful part of the country. Any Arab who pokes his head up in Kurdistan gets whacked pretty quickly, and I don’t see that changing.

  47. John,

    The Taliban couldn’t turn over bin Laden. By middle eastern custom, he was their guest, and they were obligated to defend him. It was bin Laden, by behaving badly while a guest, who screwed over the Taliban.

  48. APl,

    I think the occupation of Afghanistan was handled better than Iraq. Regardless of what you think of Rumsfeld, we face a determined enemy who is not going to quit. Fighting insurgencies are long and nasty processes. Leaving and allowing failed states to arise is asking for another 9-11 or worse. I don’t see any good options.

  49. APL,

    Under International Law, allowing rogue groups within your territory to attack other nations is the same as you attacking other nations. The war in Afghanistan is and was as legal as any war can be.

  50. “We should smash our enemies then turn things over to the best available locals and leave, immediately. If new enemies arise we come back, smash them, turn the country over to new allies and leave again. Rinse and repeat until enemies stop appearing. This whole neo-colonial farce clearly is not working.” – vanya

    Exactly.

    Unfortunately, I think that it will become politically impossible to go back once we leave Afghanistan and Iraq because support for the guys we left in charge will be non-existent.

    The last time we occupied a country at the levels we’ve occupied Iraq and Afghanistan was Vietnam – when “Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which cut off all military funding to the South Vietnamese government and made unenforceable the peace terms negotiated by Nixon.”

    Maybe the Kurds will luck out and we’ll continue to provide air power…

  51. Silly me. Perhaps you missed the whole part where some guy named Karazi was elected president of Aghanistan
    And has no power outside of Kabul. He is president of his own fucking city, but warlords actually run the country. This is progress, how? Oh yeah, that’s right, instead of just handing the Afgahni government $10 million like we did the Taliban, we are expending Billions of dollars and thousands of troops to maintain what grip is there. Sounds like peace is just around the corner. Good job Rummy!

  52. The decisions Rumsfeld made about how to fight the main force wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – both of which were very successful – established the conditions for the failure of the stabilization/security/mopping up/counterinsurgency phases that followed. It is rhetorical trickery to applaud him for using a quick, light force on the way to Baghdad, and then turn around and criticize him for not providing sufficient security afterwards.

  53. I fogot Les, this is 21st Century America, where all wars that don’t end in 100 hours or less and result in 12 or fewer casualties are deemed a disaster.

    John, exaggerating your opponent’s arguments to the point of ridiculousness is a dishonest (and lame) way to conduct an argument. Don’t be dishonest. Don’t be lame.

    You said we “won” in Afghanistan. We are still fighting the Taliban. They are still killing our troops. Five years after we went to war with Germany and Japan, we had “won.” Maybe we’re “winning,” but I think it’s just silly to say we won when we’re sill fighting and troops are dying.

  54. The enemies we went after during GWOT will learn the wrong lesson – that they can achieve victory by simply waiting the U.S. out until its political will diminishes and that the U.S. will uniformly fail to stand by those who trusted the U.S. to help them.

    Uhm. What?

    We’ve let the terrorists win by getting rid of an incompetant bureaucrat?

    That makes a lot of sense. What did they ‘win’ exactly? Frequent flier miles? subscription to Jihad Monthly?

    I love how everything politcial is a ‘message’ to the ‘terrorists/our enemies’ for some people. It makes Al Quaeda sound like a Washington Week roundtable discussion.

    How about sending a ‘message’ to the thousands of soldiers who get shot at and blown up every day because the fucking DoD has no plan?

    No, they dont need a ‘message’…

    The best support you can give troops is Leadership. Not a lot of BS patriotism. Give them a direction to move in, keep gas in their tanks. Rumsfeld failed in providing both direction as well as logistics and manpower support.

    maybe we should appoint Wilford Brimley as secretary of defense and insist that we can kick their ass with an even MORE senile old crab. That will be a message. In your face Osama.

    I love how people talk about Rumsfeld’s wonderful ‘transformation’ of the military.

    Look at the numbers of major weapons systems projects under bush 1, clinton, then bush v1.1.

    Look at what those projects were, and ask yourself why we’re still doing many of them. Billions upon billions upon billions in things that have nothing to do with our ‘transformed’ military. i think the GAO went

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06368.pdf
    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/08/19/major_arms_soar_to_twice_pre_911_cost/

    Look at the quality and flexibility provided by subcontracting logistics and other support services.

    Christ, look at what we pay for a gallon of gas in Iraq.

    Look at all that, and then repeat the claim that this guy was anything other than testy jerk who made some mammoth fucking mistakes that have cost many lives and billions of dollars. Please

  55. JG,

    Don’t discount the power of Wilford Brimley. He’s got control of Remo Williams, after all.

  56. One other thing. Rumsfeld needed to go but thank God it was as a result of an election and not a bunch whinny assed media whore retired generals running to the first friendly camera they could find. Generals or retired generals cannot and should not pic their own boss. It would have been nice if people would have remembered that.

  57. We could have put a million people into Afghanistan and still be fighting there today and it wouldn’t have made a dime’s worth of difference. We will be fighting those fanatics for the rest of mine and probably my children’s lives. I really don’t see an end to it.

    which begs the question, mr john — what in the world are we doing there? engaging in a war we cannot win (because we cannot define victory) and which no one has any plan to win (only to fight) and which is all but certain, as all interminable wars do, to vacate the constitution of a republic and replace it with a militarily-ingratiated dictatorship.

    world war two was hard, mr john. but it was not a war without end. there was a definable non-ideological victory and there was a realistic plan to win it. afghanistan has neither. nor does iraq. these are examples of the failure of a morally exhausted american state, not of any external phenomena at all.

    respectfully, sir, i think you must have missed ike’s warning, which has never been more pertinent — the problems posed by terrorism never had a military solution, and that we tried to impose one says far more about us than about our enemies. it is in many respects the ultimate vindication of bin laden’s accusations of moral weakness.

  58. gaius,

    Good to hear from you! How goes fatherhood?

    In your honor, let me be the first to suggest that we raze Baghdad, salt the ground, and leave. That approach has got classical cachet.

  59. “It is rhetorical trickery to applaud him for using a quick, light force on the way to Baghdad, and then turn around and criticize him for not providing sufficient security afterwards.” – joe

    Pointing out that the decision to stay was Bush’s not Rumsfeld’s is “rhetorical trickery?” Yeah. For my next “rhetorical trick” I’ll discuss how the chain of command works…

    GILMORE – I was going to respond to you when I realized that quoting my post was just an excuse for your desire to go off on an incomprehensible rant.

  60. Gaius,

    If we leave Afghanistan, it will be turned over the to Taliban and Al Quada will use it as a base to plot our murders. Considering that fact, how is leaving ever going to be an option? Further, who says that WW II is the standard for toughness of wars? Some wars are not that simple. The religous wars of Europe went on for decades. The French and the English stuggled for a hundred years. The fact is that the West will be fighting radical Islam somewhere for the forseable future. There is no way around that except surrender, but even that is not an option since there is no one to surrender to.

  61. “We should smash our enemies then turn things over to the best available locals and leave, immediately. If new enemies arise we come back, smash them, turn the country over to new allies and leave again. Rinse and repeat until enemies stop appearing. This whole neo-colonial farce clearly is not working.”

    spoken like a true old-school imperial manager, mr vanya — the 19th c british navy hasa job for you. you even credibly divorce battleship diplomacy from “neo-colonialism” — good show. but i wonder if you account for the muliplication of our barbarians that such a strategy will clearly engender?

    our problems with these enemies are a result not of their irrationality so much as ours — without enough self-security to admit our own manifold weaknesses, we will never be able to play to our strengths. and we have created these enemies — we have chosen to interpose ourselves in their homes for the sake of maintaining an autocratic global hegemony that shapes the lives of billions who are not represented in our government.

    if you want a solution, i’d kindly suggest putting away the club. this is a hydra, and it will take brains more than brawn to resolve.

  62. How goes fatherhood?

    life-fulfilling, mr liberate. 🙂

    let me be the first to suggest that we raze Baghdad, salt the ground, and leave. That approach has got classical cachet.

    baghdad delenda est!

  63. Where is the evidence that failed states give rise to terrorism? Has Sierra Leone, a ridiculously failed state, produced international terrorists? No, nor has Afghanistan for that matter, or the Congo or any place where anarchy is the rule. Terrorism seems to arise not in the failed states but in the second tier countries – the ones where there is a surfeit of educated young men with inflated views of their own self-importance who are frustrated by corrupt economic systems and their inability to do anything with their lives, and then turn twisted and envious – Russia in the late 19th century, Italy and Ireland in the 1970s, Egypt and Saudi Arabia today. Failed states may provide a safe haven to organized groups of terrorists but they don’t produce their own, probably for the simple reason that simply surviving in a country like Afghanistan or Sierra Leone, or now Iraq, requires a significant amount of time and energy, leaving little time or resources for plotting attacks on far away countries.

  64. Just call me the modern-day Cato.

    Yeah, kids are great. I may have to have one soon myself. And a clone, because I want a second chance.

  65. Vanya,

    Good point, but even if the terrorists are not from the failed state but from Saudi or some French ghetto, if they use the failed state as a base of operations to terrorize us, what is the difference?

  66. gaius – Congrats on the baby – my wife is due soon as well.

    You raise some interesting theories I think are worth responding to.

    1) The US is “engaging in a war we cannot win (because we cannot define victory) and which no one has any plan to win (only to fight) ”

    How was victory defined in other wars? Frankly, I’d argue the military victory was achieved in short order in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The occupation, on the other hand, continues. The U.S. is fighting an insurgency and those are always bloody and wful. In historical terms, U.S. casualties aren’t so bad – though that probably doesn’t matter to someone who lost his leg to an IED in Iraq or to the family of someone who has died fighting.

    2. “which is all but certain, as all interminable wars do, to vacate the constitution of a republic and replace it with a militarily-ingratiated dictatorship.”

    Time will tell. I don’t think the Republic is as doomed as those who read Gibbons as prophectic for the U.S. seem to think.

    3.) “world war two was hard, mr john. but it was not a war without end. there was a definable non-ideological victory and there was a realistic plan to win it. afghanistan has neither. nor does iraq. these are examples of the failure of a morally exhausted american state, not of any external phenomena at all.”

    Hmmm… I guess if you pretend that we didn’t occupy Germany and Japan at the end of WW2 and that we still maintain a military presence there to this day.

    3.) “the problems posed by terrorism never had a military solution, and that we tried to impose one says far more about us than about our enemies. it is in many respects the ultimate vindication of bin laden’s accusations of moral weakness.”

    Force can only be replied to with force – you can argue that terror is best left to the police, but in many countries the military and the police are essentially the same. Even Britain has far fewer barriers between federal power and police actions. (Frankly, I’d rather a military solution than a merger of police and military powers in the U.S.)

    Non-violent protest only works if you’re faced with a first-world, Western nation with a well-developed sense of shame. bin Laden’s claim is not just that we are morally weak (which he’d argue is because we do not follow Allah) but also that we are too cowardly to stand and fight and do what it takes. Only time will tell on that front.

  67. If we leave Afghanistan, it will be turned over the to Taliban and Al Quada will use it as a base to plot our murders. Considering that fact, how is leaving ever going to be an option?

    There is no way around that except surrender

    nonetheless we must leave, mr john, because by staying we are not solving problems — predictably enough, we are multiplying them where we are not merely deferring them. or do you seriously consider that the mindset of the madrassas has been, what, moderated by our actions there? any more than it was the the intercessions of the soviets?

    if i may presume (and please correct me) — you seek repression of a dangerous outside impulse that you have deemed irrational. and i suspect you see it as irrational because you have not made a successful effort to understand it. fair enough.

    but that does not preclude it from having rational underpinnings — even the least rational of our behaviors often do. so it is now here, imo. these third worlders are rising in insurgency against the west — not america, but the west and have been for some two centuries now — because of how we have mismanaged their local affairs. look at the political and military history of western interventionism in the third world since the age of empires dawned and it isn’t hard to imagine why — no american would take such merciless abuse, i should hope.

    to attack these attackers, then, we must try to address the root of their motivation — what gives them sustenance and credibility among billions of people worldwide who are similarly disaffected. the solutions are not military — i agree with you, this is a war without end that will destroy us long before it changes any hostile minds. killing their partisans only reinforces their ire and public sympathy, as it does ours when the roles are reversed. this is a hydra — it requires a solution, not a beating.

    leaving would be the first of many steps, but a completely necessary one. bin laden knows this — one of the most popular points of his agenda among his third world supporters is the expulsion of western military forces from muslim lands — but he thinks we are morally incapable of it. he thinks we are too weak to leave — this is the missed but all-important subtext underlying all his taunts of the “paper tiger”.

    would the taliban reemerge? probably — people in afghanistan in the main profess to desire it, from what i’ve read. but we cannot be shortsighted enough to allow that setback to deter us from a longer-term plan for reconciliation that will kill the barbarians at the root.

    you want a hard and courageous route to a real solution? imo, this is it. battering tents and camels with missiles, engaging in mass torture and dropping jdams on wedding parties will do nothing (at best). accepting that the counterparty has legitimate grievances that require redressment in order for them to join the world community as functioning and cooperative partners under western economic and political systems will get the job done.

  68. “accepting that the counterparty has legitimate grievances that require redressment in order for them to join the world community ” -gaius

    Granted, their grievances and motivations are rational. But very little is every actually done from complete irrationality in any side of a conflict.

    I don’t believe there is redressment, like reparations for slavery, that could ever be considered enough. Redressment them won’t make them less bloddthirsty, and how will it not simply encourage extortion as well?

    “as functioning and cooperative partners under western economic and political systems will get the job done.” – gaius

    If your economic and political systems are founded on a culture and a religion that runs completely counter to western economic and political systems, how will this occur? Extortionary redressment that will never be enough can only lead to further conflict.

    The bridge from one culture to the other simply doesn’t exist because the foundation for each side has lead it to build in an entirely different direction.

  69. How was victory defined in other wars? Frankly, I’d argue the military victory was achieved in short order in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The occupation, on the other hand, continues.

    Hmmm… I guess if you pretend that we didn’t occupy Germany and Japan at the end of WW2 and that we still maintain a military presence there to this day.

    lol — well, mr rob, i’d counter that victory was easily defined because european wars of nationalism were fought between the political apparati of nation-states — and once one ceased to function, the war was over and organized resistance ceased by mutual consensus. we may note the atrocities of the fascists, but in the end the populations of italy, germany and japan in large part acquiesced when the end came — not perfectly, of course, but let’s not pretend that anything like what is happening in baghdad happened in berlin, rome and tokyo. and that’s because the rules of war between european powers had been well and widely understood and refined from the age of chivalry forward.

    that is not so here — there is no common cultural and political understanding. that’s why it’s right to call them “barbarians”.

    moreover, i think we shouldn’t limit the scope and therefore implications of what is going on here. the insurgencies in iraq and afghanistan are metastates of a continuous historical event of resistance that goes back to the end of the battle of vienna. (just because we never learned the history doesn’t mean it ain’t important.) there’s a reason al-sadr leads somethign called the mahdi army. and the reason why the resistance will not end with these military occupation is because what fuels it vastly transcends these most recent incursions into the muslim umma — it is a cultural resistance to designs of western empire.

    you can argue that terror is best left to the police

    i’m not. i don’t think police work in the end solves this problem any more than tossing pot users in jail solves drug abuse.

    the solution isn’t in trying to beat others into compliance (we can’t) or bribe them into submission (merely deferral) or promote autocracies. the solution is in a measure of power-sharing and real cooperative redressment of grievances.

    without that, all the shooting and jailtime is just window dressing on the path to the barbarian invasions, imo. it morally weakens us and morally strengthens them.

  70. Non-violent protest only works if you’re faced with a first-world, Western nation with a well-developed sense of shame.

    mr rob — there is probably no culture on earth today with a more finely attuned sense of shame than islamic culture. they obviously love peace and their children too and detest being shamed — it is motivating their resistance to what we’ve done in iraq. remember, we are the ones rolling tank armies through their streets and dropping 500-pounders on their homes. truly, would not you and i resist in kind if the roles were reversed?

    bin laden is an opportunist that rides this much broader and more sensible and tangible angst — holding him up as though he were important is rather like holding up david duke as an example of what every last southerner is. it’s not a reasonable way to address the bigger problems that honest and sensible third worlers have with western empire.

  71. If your economic and political systems are founded on a culture and a religion that runs completely counter to western economic and political systems, how will this occur? Extortionary redressment that will never be enough can only lead to further conflict.

    first, it’s not extortionary, mr rob — if anything, the west is the party that has dealt extorionary terms to a weakening and beleaguered third world since the 18th c. as a conservative, that’s merely being historically honest.

    secondly, parts of the third world are already integrated into the systems of western empire — westenr civilization has tentacles in every part of the globe. indeed, that in combination with our mismanagement is what has forced people to resist so! there’s every reason to believe that cooperative integration can and will work — recent examples of the success of western principles include russia (late 17th c on), china (18th c on) and turkey (since ataturk). western economic ideas — capitalism, socialism, communism — and political ideas influence and even dominate social models the world over.

    there’s no fundamental barrier here so long as we present attractive ideas that work without presenting brazen threats or demanding undue central control as a means of alienation, imo.

  72. “Man overboard!”

    Dumsfeld goes over the side less than 24 hours after the polls close. I’m shocked, I tell you….

  73. John is as laughably predictable as Rush. John, the Taliban wasis a project/creature of Paki ISI, as thoroly and in detail laid out endlessly. The resurgent Taliban is tipped/supported (however sub rosa) by Paki ISI today.
    I look forward to your bumper sticker deep exhortations to bomb/invade/occupy Pakistan, given the irrefutable truth of above facts.
    As far as Gates go. SOME (not John) might remember the salient hallmark of Gates confirmation hearings as Director, CI. It was the first time CIA analyists came forward to testify AGAINST givin the guy the job- some 90 of them, I believe. Why? Because he was widely known to cook Central American intel to fit the need of Reagans crackpot handlers, AND he participated in domestic disinformation campaigns.
    In other words, he found out what Reagans handlers wanted to hear, then told them that. intel to spec, as it were. More of the same. Hey, its worked great so far……
    Hell fit right in- with the WH, John, & crackpot radio.
    Yeah, a big improvement……

  74. “i’d counter that victory was easily defined because european wars of nationalism were fought between the political apparati of nation-states” – gm

    Wasn’t that what we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan? The Baathist regime and the Taliban regime?

    “and once one ceased to function, the war was over and organized resistance ceased by mutual consensus.” – gm

    I’d argue that the reason that it didn’t work like that this time is because this is a post-Westphalian conflict against an enemy that (like the Japanese in WW2) have no concept of Geneva Convention-style post-30 Years War concessions in warfare. (Neither did the Romans or the Greeks, and look what it got them! Heh!) But you get around to that on your own… Sigh…

    “and that’s because the rules of war between european powers had been well and widely understood and refined from the age of chivalry forward.” – gm

    So you can’t fight an insurgency because it doesn’t have a central gov’t?

    “that is not so here — there is no common cultural and political understanding. that’s why it’s right to call them ‘barbarians'” – gm

    No argument from me there, I suppose.

    “moreover, i think we shouldn’t limit the scope and therefore implications of what is going on here. the insurgencies in iraq and afghanistan are metastates of a continuous historical event of resistance that goes back to the end of the battle of vienna…it is a cultural resistance to designs of western empire.” – gm

    I’d actually agree with you on the historical roots of the conflict. I just don’t think we agree on whether it can/should be fought.

    “the solution isn’t in trying to beat others into compliance (we can’t) or bribe them into submission (merely deferral) or promote autocracies. the solution is in a measure of power-sharing and real cooperative redressment of grievances.” – gm

    In their rational(ized) view, the only redressment is the slaughter of our citizens. How can “power-sharing” and “cooperative redressment of grievances” take place in this scenario?

    “without that, all the shooting and jailtime is just window dressing on the path to the barbarian invasions, imo. it morally weakens us and morally strengthens them.” – gm

    They’ll never invade. But they’ll continue to launch attacks unless we keep a lid on it, IMO.

    “there is probably no culture on earth today with a more finely attuned sense of shame than islamic culture.” – gm

    But for a Wahabbist, shame is not caused by violent action to an unresisting victim, it is in not conducting jihad against enemies of the faith.

    “they obviously love peace and their children too and detest being shamed — it is motivating their resistance to what we’ve done in iraq.” – gm

    No, I think a twisted, extreme version of their faith inter-mingled with somewhat irrational politics motivates the resistance.

    “remember, we are the ones rolling tank armies through their streets and dropping 500-pounders on their homes. truly, would not you and i resist in kind if the roles were reversed?” – gm

    Undeniably we’d resist if the attacks continued after we’d reached a nice, Western-civilized peace agreement and the occupying troops were acting as an interim police force rather than conducting running gun battles with insurgents who refuse to surrender.

    “bin laden is an opportunist that rides this much broader and more sensible and tangible angst — holding him up as though he were important is rather like holding up david duke as an example of what every last southerner is.” -gm

    I tend to think of bin Laden as a true believer of the Jim Jones sort. I don’t think he’s a hypocrite, I just thinks he’s dangerously faithful to a twisted creed.

    “it’s not a reasonable way to address the bigger problems that honest and sensible third worlers have with western empire.” – gm

    I feel bad for any honest and sensible third worlders caught in the middle as I would for any non-combatant in a war zone. But that doesn’t mean that I’m willing to put their welfare and well-being above that of my own countrymen.

    “first, it’s not extortionary, mr rob — if anything, the west is the party that has dealt extorionary terms to a weakening and beleaguered third world since the 18th c. as a conservative, that’s merely being historically honest.” – gm

    The way of the world in years past is not the burden of the current generation. The sins of the father cannot be borne by succeeding generations. That’s a fundamental principle of Wetern civilization that is at odds with the model you advocate.

    “secondly, parts of the third world are already integrated into the systems of western empire — westenr civilization has tentacles in every part of the globe. indeed, that in combination with our mismanagement is what has forced people to resist so!” – gm

    Indeed, that’s their primary complaint!

    “there’s every reason to believe that cooperative integration can and will work” – gm

    Maybe at the point of a sword, which is SADLY how this historically has worked.

    “recent examples of the success of western principles include russia (late 17th c on), china (18th c on) and turkey (since ataturk).” – gm

    I’m not carrying the blame for Communism as a Western Civ concept (Russia & China). I’ve had friends travel to Turkey, it’s no garden spot of Western enlightenment.

    “western economic ideas — capitalism, socialism, communism — and political ideas influence and even dominate social models the world over.” – gm

    Actually, they mostly replace the other social models. That’s one of the biggest complaints of the Wahabbist sect. Neither of us thinks they attack McDonald’s and KFC restaurants because they hate trans fat?

    “there’s no fundamental barrier here so long as we present attractive ideas that work without presenting brazen threats or demanding undue central control as a means of alienation, imo.” – gm

    I can’t think of a more attractive idea than being able to look upon the faces of beautiful women in a crowd, and that hasn’t caught on in places that require the burkha. I think this is a lovely idea, kind of like putting a flower in a soldier’s rifle or standing in front of a tank at Tianamen Square. Historically, outside of first-world Western nations this just gets you shot in the face or squashed under a tank tread.

    I’d vastly prefer your model, gaius, but as a student of history you surely recognize that historically there aren’t many precedents for this. In fact, there are more examples in modern history of defeating insurgencies than there are of victories achieved by the means you advocate.

  75. That should have read:

    Undeniably we’d resist if the attacks continued after we’d reached a nice, Western-civilized peace agreement and the occupying troops were supposed to be acting as an interim police force rather than conducting running gun battles with insurgents who refuse to surrender.

    My point was that once beaten, a Western nation conducts itself according to the role of a defeated nation. The problem the U.S. encounters is that they don’t get that they should behave in that fashion.

    Perhaps that’s because if they were the winning army they’d make the Russian army in WW2 East Germany look like the Teletubbies by comparison.

    Or maybe it’s because a war between Western style nations doesn’t require a complete re-writing of the conquered nations culture, making the stakes so high for them that they refuse to accept that they are beaten under any circumstance…

    Either way, the fact of the matter is that prior to the Westphalian concept of warfare, wars were waged and won and the winners got what they went to war for and no one attempted to provide “redressment” and “power-sharing” until Western Civilization tried to make war less horrible for noncombatants.

  76. I’m more and more becoming a fan of the plan vanya describes. You know what? 9/11 was terrible and horrible and so forth. But my chances of dying on the way home from work today are still far greater than my chances of dying to any plausible terrorist attack.

    It is insane, given that, to continue to spend money and lives, and continue to abrogate personal liberties in this supposed war. We can’t win the war. We can fight to a stalemate in the war. And we can do so to prevent… what? ‘A future 9/11?’ I’m not really certain that would be worse than the ongoing war.

    I’d like to see a policy where we do things like invade Iraq and Afghanistan, and then get the hell out as soon as those immediately responsible are dead or deposed. Anything else is not, and should not be, our problem. The message to would-be terrorism supporters would be pretty clear: ‘Take steps to stop these fuckos or you will not be head of state for very long.’ I’d like to believe that there’s enough simple pragmatism in the world’s nutjob dictators to want to avoid that outcome.

    And I’d also like to see some acknowledgement that, as ass-kickings go, 9/11 was simply not that bad. What it was was a big hit to our national ego and sense of invulnerability. It wasn’t a knockout punch, it was barely a bloody nose, and it should not be the ultimate trump card in all future decisions about American national security and military operations.

  77. I forgot the part where Gates worked w/ Rummy, Cheney et al to arm & pimp Hussien in the early 80’s…..hes even a better fit that I imagined…
    http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/110806R.shtml

  78. quoting my post was just an excuse for your desire to go off on an incomprehensible rant.

    yes, you are probably right.

    Lets do it again

    The enemies we went after during GWOT will learn the wrong lesson – that they can achieve victory by simply waiting the U.S. out until its political will diminishes and that the U.S. will uniformly fail to stand by those who trusted the U.S. to help them.

    Now, rather than offer an incomprehensible rant, i’ll simply say =

    You’re wrong. “Terrorists” arent sitting around gabbing about which Sec of Def presents the greater challenge to their nefarious plans.

    JG

  79. John,
    Your “Wars are F*ing hard” comment just proves that you are one of these conservatives who thinks only conservatives are “serious” about terror. The Bush Administration has dropped the ball in Afghanistan while dicking around in Iraq. Yup. Wars ARE hard, especially when our leaders are militarily incompetent. You’d think, with wars being “hard”, that we’d focus on the goal instead of looking around for regimes to change.

  80. “Now, rather than offer an incomprehensible rant, i’ll simply say =

    You’re wrong. “Terrorists” arent sitting around gabbing about which Sec of Def presents the greater challenge to their nefarious plans.”

    That’s not even remotely close to what I said. Learn to read before you rant.

  81. gaius marius rules. [i]HnR[/i] should put him above the fold so that there is more balance on miltary issues here.

  82. I think the situation in Iraq is somwhat blown out of proportion. Sure theres chaos and we have over 2700 dead soldiers in almost 3 years of war. 2700? Thats about 900 a year. California had 2,394 homicides in a single year in 2004***. Is California a quagmire? Should we pull the civilians out of California?

    ***Source: Homicide in California 2004. California Department of Justice. pg.46

    http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/homicide/hm04/Data%20Tables.pdf

  83. population of California is about 34 million
    population of Iraq is about 26 Million

    US Troops 150,000 ish

    Compare your death rates

    34 Million/2,394
    26 Million/150000 civilian dead*

    150000/2700 military dead.

    Math is fun.

    *ASSOCIATED PRESS

    “BAGHDAD – A stunning new death count emerged today, as Iraq’s health minister estimated at least 150,000 civilians have been killed in the war, about three times previously accepted estimates.”

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