Don't Call it a Comeback. Really, Don't.

|

Plans for President Bush to address the nation sometime before Christmas have been shelved.

[A]s the President has heard from a variety of voices on Iraq it became clear there are no easy answers or quick solutions.

After the President spoke by teleconference with his commanders on the ground in Iraq White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced that a decision on new policy will have to wait until after the first of the year.

One rumor emblazoned across Fox News just now—the POTUS is weighing the sage advice of hawks to send more troops to Iraq. That is the kind of announcement you'd want to avoid making right before Christmas.

NEXT: Trading Places

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

  1. What troops? Just where are these new troops supposed to come from?

    I highly doubt Bush really cares anymore. He got what he wanted — he’s top dog in his family, he outdid everybody and got to be president for two terms — and the PNAC got what they wanted. Kinda. Things didn’t work out according to their crazy plan, which involved Iraq immediately becoming a stable and prosperous republic to provide a “good example” in the Mideast.

    Everybody’s just treading water until they can pass off the whole bloody mess to somebody else.

  2. The Troop Fairy will leave them under his pillow, Duppy.

  3. Heck, my Christmas would be improved by any evidence Bush and/or his team were thinking about ways to improve the Iraq situation — even if it does involve more troops. (And we could certainly come up with 20-30,000, though not the 100,000 some people talk about.)

  4. “What troops? Just where are these new troops supposed to come from?”

    The United States Army is the largest branch of the United States armed forces and has primary responsibility for land-based military operations. As of 2004, it consisted of 494,295 soldiers on active duty, 342,918 in the Army National Guard (ARNG) and 204,134 in the United States Army Reserve.

    – Wikipedia

  5. Increasing the amount of troops would have a similar effect to that giving a man in a hole a bigger shovel, it would leave him in the hole with a bigger shovel. It is not a long-term strategy of an attainable victory, rather it is simply upping the ante. I don’t want to waste hundreds of billions more on this war or the lives of these soldiers.

  6. Way off topic, but I wonder if Tony Snow has ever considered running for prez.

  7. Gus- Yes, but that doesn’t say anything about what percentage of the Army is either deployed or unavailable for deployment because they have just come back and their equipment is broken and their ranks decimated by separations. There are few units available for quick deployment, Gus.

    And before you demand to know where I got that info: from the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in face-to-face conversations as well as public statements.

  8. I think the administration is purely looking for the least embarassing way out of Iraq at this point. On the other hand, the withdrawal from Vietnam was preceded by the Christmas Day ’72 bombing campaign, so perhaps Bush & Co. are looking at one final ‘operation’ before signaling the retreat.

  9. I wonder if Tony Snow has ever considered running for prez.

    I don’t if this counts as an answer, but I’ll bet at least once a day he says to himself, “Man…I could do a better job than this boob.”

    Just over a million, Active, Reserve and Guard troops sounds like a lot. But there are a hell of a lot of office jobs in there as well as stateside-based support jobs in there. Also a lot in other places like Asia (guarding places like North Korea) and Europe (not likely to get moved with current developments in Russia).

    But let’s say you instantly had the manpower. The Army Chief just said last month he needed a lot more money to replace worn our equipment – billions of dollars of worn out equipment.

    Maries? Sure. With just over 200,000, you could proabably squeeze out 40,000 extra.

    How about training and weaponry? Our guys are already starved for ammo (especially for training).

    Still, it might happen. Dems anxious to not look like pussies would probably be more likely to throw in with Big W on a Hail Mary military action. Who knows…I’ve given up trying to predict.

  10. 20 – 30 Thousand extra troops will do little. My bet is that it will do nothing.

    The problem is one of security. Without it life can not return to normal. The Iraqis CAN’T do it, they are currently incapable of the real dirty work. Also they are not interested in securing their county for their countries sake. They would rather fight each other. Sunnis want to fight Shias and vice-versa.

    It’s sort of like fighting siblings. The two brothers are fighting, mom and dad can’t stop it. The Iraqis really need a major force that can secure large areas for a long time. Work on supporting the local governments first.

    It seems obvious to me that our low number of troops from the start is the root of the problem. Not that I’m saying the two sides would have all gotten along. By failing to have the manpower to secure the conventional weapons depots and not having the manpower to quell the looting, we have allowed the country to run amuck. That is our fault. The conventional weapons we failed to secure have been used against us. By not stopping the looting we signaled the whole country that we are willing to turn away from misbehavior. Add those two together and you have misbehavior with weapons.

    I think we can look at our past race issues to get an idea of how long Sunni vs. Shia conflict can last.

    I see the Iraq problems as solvable, if we act quickly. But it will cost us a lot more because we have wasted three years playing Keystone Cops with the insurgence instead of making the proper troop level adjustments. We should have sent more troops as soon as we realized we didn’t have enough troops to secure their weapons depots and squelch their looting.

    It is like cancer. My concern is that it maybe too late.

    We do have the troops to do the job. If it’s sooooooo important as Bush says, it’s worth a draft. But I don’t think that’s necessary. It is worth our best effort, and I don’t believe we have put our best effort into it. We put no effort, in advance, to post-invasion control. We are seeing the fruits of those efforts.

    Having said all that, more troops are useless if you don’t have a plan.

    I think the ISG report is a way that Bush can bring an end, at least, close to the end, before he leaves office, therefore not leaving it to someone else to clean up.

  11. “”Increasing the amount of troops would have a similar effect to that giving a man in a hole a bigger shovel, it would leave him in the hole with a bigger shovel. “”

    Actually, he would be able to complete his objective faster with the larger shovel. Ask anyone who digs for a living. I guess your analogy is more about the hole than the shovel.

    If the guy doesn’t know how to dig a hole to the specified parameters, you analogy would apply, a larger shovel would do nothing. But the problem is the guy holding the shovel, not the shovel. To say the guy (president) holding the shovel doesn’t know how to deal with Iraq (the hole), then your 100% on.

    “”I don’t if this counts as an answer, but I’ll bet at least once a day he says to himself, “Man…I could do a better job than this boob.””””

    I’m betting he was saying that when he took the job.

  12. There is no logistic problem that can’t be overcome. WWII was a great example. We built that fighting force and almost all of the equipment used in less time than we’ve been in Iraq. Jeeps, tanks, aircraft, ammo, an atomic bomb, ect. But of course, we HAD factories then. So it would be more difficult now.

    The question we must answer, is it worth it?

    If yes, the we must sacrifice more to make it winable. A war tax is necessary to pay for more equipment. We can provide incentives to people to work building war machines and supplies in factories persuaded by the government to build exclusively for the war effort. Pay school loans for workers in demand. In WWII they rationed our gas, food, and metals. We paid an extra tax, and sold war bonds, we didn’t complain too much. We believed it was worth it.

    If No, then why hang around and run-up the extra expense. Take the ISG recommendations and split like it’s Namn.

    After all, Vietnamn didn’t turn out so bad.

    So, is it worth winning in Iraq?

  13. Was that “don’t call it a comeback” a sly LL Cool J ref?

    “Don’t call it a comeback
    I been here for years
    Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear
    Makin the tears rain down like a MON-soon
    Listen to the bass go BOOM
    Explosion, overpowerin
    Over the competition, I’m towerin
    Wreckin shop, when I drop these lyrics that’ll make you call the cops
    Don’t you dare stare, you betta move
    Don’t ever compare
    Me to the rest that’ll all get sliced and diced
    Competition’s payin the price

    I’m gonna knock you out [HUUUH!!!]
    Mama said knock you out [HUUUH!!!]”

    http://ntl.matrix.com.br/pfilho/html/lyrics/m/mama_said_knock_you_out.txt

    (For some sad reason, I have no problem picturing our POTUS jamming to that tune)

    btw, whatever happened to the “political capital” Bush was yammering about after he won his last election?

    embezzled?

    send in the auditors…

    find out where it went…

  14. yes it is worth it. We can learn to win this one, or learn to win the next one. This one will be easier than the next one I think.

    No we don’t need a war tax. Income tax is the war tax. If anything we need to get rid of the income tax.

    I don’t really have a solution. I don’t know that Rumsfeld was right about everything, but he was right about a few things. Namely that the Army needs to change. This is the war the Army needs to learn how to win. Soviets and Nazis in open battle are unlikely to become our enemy any time soon. These guys WILL become our enemy if we don’t win Iraq. And they might become our enemy again even if we do.

    The army needs to get off the bases. Go amongst the Iraqi population. Work with the Iraqis. Eat their food, learn their language.

    KBR meals are really nice at 100 bucks a pop or whatever. Give that money to the soldier and have them get their food from the Iraqis.

    If we stay in our inpenetrable fortresses and go into the cities everyonce in a while, the enemy will own wherever we are not.

    We have to make the enemy the foreigner in Iraq.

  15. oh, and whoever was talking about the draft, slap yourself.

  16. No draft…certainly not until the Twins get off their barstools and join up.

  17. One rumor emblazoned across Fox News just now – the POTUS is weighing the sage advice of hawks to send more troops to Iraq. That is the kind of announcement you’d want to avoid making right before Christmas.

    Peace on Earth.

  18. We have to make the enemy the foreigner in Iraq.

    The military has been clear in reporting that the vast majority of people attacking U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians are not foreigners. Most Iraqis consider U.S. soldiers to be the only foreigners they’re worried about and want them to leave. If we care so much about democracy in the region, shouldn’t we listen to what the majority of Iraqi’s want and get out of there?

  19. Well there are plenty of non Iraqis here. There are plenty of non Iraqi money fincancing Iraqi fighters.

    and the issue is making the trouble makers not feel part of society.

    And the polls about iraqis wanting us out, I think are most wanting us eventually out. And many of those wanting us out now, I think are doing so in the mistaken belief that their side will win the genocidal war to follow.

  20. kwais…you and I quite often disagree on Iraq issues, but you make some excellent points. I give you sway ’cause you’re there.

    On this war, I worry that we’ve dithered too long. I just don’t see the political leadership needed. Which is a shame because any way you slice it it’d be eaier now than later.

    In any case, we also need to play the influence game a lot smarter than we have been. Bush’s “I’m not gonna talk to you ’cause you’re the enemy” line is fine for the beligerent know-nothings, but it’s also allowing China, Russia, Iran, Syria to write the rules making us the bad guys. It’s also limiting our intelligence gathering and back channel maneuverability.

    We have very little leverage these days and we’re not going to win any war until we get some of that back.

  21. It’s hard for us to admit that Saddam, with his bad intentions, did a better job of running Iraq than Bush with his good ones. Not surprising, really, Bush has little understanding of their culture. “The Iraqi people want a united country.”
    Actually, they would appreciate something more basic, like, for example, personal safety. If we admit that we have lost and leave suddenly, many of the insurgents will stop fighting. There will still be some sectarian violence, but not as much. The saddest part is that Bush still thinks it’s about him saving face, rather than saving lives.

  22. The saddest part is that Bush still thinks it’s about him saving face, rather than saving lives.

    Pretty much nails it better than anything I’ve read yet.

  23. We built that fighting force and almost all of the equipment used in less time than we’ve been in Iraq.

    No doubt. And Iraq is what? The size of Georgia? WTF is going on?

  24. “After all, Vietnamn didn’t turn out so bad.”

    Maybe not for us but for a lot of folks in Southeast Asia things kinda sucked out loud for about a decade.

  25. A decade, Again? There were 3 million Vietnamese killed during the “American War.” “Stab in the Back” excuses aside, things did not suddenly start going bad for the Vietnamese the day the helicopters took off from the embassy.

    Tricky Vic, simply declaring Iraqis to be incapable of civilization – the “those people have been killing each other for centuries” excuse – is as wrong in Iraq as it was in Yugoslavia. Have you forgotten that Al Qaeda has set up shop in the country and dedicated itself to creating a Sunni/Shiite civil war through the mass slaughter of Shiite civilians for the past three years? Just as Milosevic deliberately stirred up hotility between Serbs and their Croatian and Muslim neighbors. What we’re seeing in Iraq is not the state of nature, not the eternal destiny of Arabs, but a situation that has deliberately been created, and which has its roots in politics.

    kwais, white guys in Humvees will never, ever be able to insinuate themselves into Iraq society as you describe as well as jihadists from other Middle Eastern countries.

  26. kwais, white guys in Humvees will never, ever be able to insinuate themselves into Iraq society as you describe as well as jihadists from other Middle Eastern countries.

    joe, I don’t think kwais is pollyanna-ish about the prospects for our troops to insinuate themselves into Iraq society. I think he’s simply suggesting that getting out of the Humvee and breaking bread and humanizing themselves to the population would go further than the current approach.

    I think he’s also seeing it as a libertarian-capitalist move that’s greater than the sum of it’s parts. I could be wrong. kwais and I rarely agree on anything regarding Iraq, so I could be misinterpreting it. But that’s my 2 cents.

  27. “””Tricky Vic, simply declaring Iraqis to be incapable of civilization – the “those people have been killing each other for centuries” excuse – is as wrong in Iraq as it was in Yugoslavia.”””

    I have not, or ever will declare the Iraqis incapable of civilization. Civilization is YOUR word not mine. I speak of our expectation for them to get along and not kill each other. That is not equal to civilization as a whole. So your above statement is false.

    Besides I didn’t know Yugoslavia problems were Shia vs. Sunni? If it’s not, then your analogy really don’t apply at all, even if I take your mis-representation of my post off the table.

    “””Have you forgotten that Al Qaeda has set up shop in the country and dedicated itself to creating a Sunni/Shiite civil war through the mass slaughter of Shiite civilians for the past three years? “””

    Of course I remember, but who’s fault is it that AQ was allowed to set-up shop in a country where we are occupiers and the prime military force? I know that’s a little off your point. Regardless, Sunni’s and Shiites history of fighting pre-dates AQ. AQ simply threw the match into the gasoline. AQ is not the first cause of the current situation. Besides, there was sectarian violence in Iraq before the event you mentioned took place. The bombing of the mosque DID NOT create the violence, although it did kick it up a notch.

    “””What we’re seeing in Iraq is not the state of nature, not the eternal destiny of Arabs, but a situation that has deliberately been created, and which has its roots in politics.”””

    The state of nature???? Arab eternal destiny?? Are you kidding? What is the state of nature? The nature of what? Nature? or the nature of man? Nature is dynamic. It does not reside in a single “state”. Who knows what the Arab eternal destiny is anyway? No one has a crystal ball. But I can say whatever it is, they will be the ones to create it.

    After going back and reading my posts, what statements of mine lead to you using the word “civilization” anyway? You took what I said so far out of context you created a strawman.

    “kwais, white guys in Humvees will never, ever be able to insinuate themselves into Iraq society as you describe as well as jihadists from other Middle Eastern countries.””

    I do agree with you on this statement. We are outsiders, which is no big deal. But outsiders will never, ever, blend in like insiders. That’s way Bush really screwed up our fight against AQ. By alienating more Arabs against us, it is harder to recruit insiders to spy for us or to infiltrate AQ.

  28. Tricky Vic,

    You could be a Dodgeball pro.

    You nitpicked at the word “civilization,” and noted that the sectarian violence/civil war in the Balkans wasn’t between two varieties of Islam.

    Hey, man, what is nature, anyway? And how do we really know what “right” and “wrong” mean?

    Anyone who dances with a partner as determinedly as you danced around my argument must her mighty purdy.

    Against my better judgement, I’ll try to restate my argument in language off sufficient neutrality that you might deign to address it; you asserted that the violence between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq is unavoidable because of cultural and historical forces. I disagree with that statement, and point to the fact that the Sunni/Shiite civil war only began after a committed campaign to make it happen was carried out by al Qaeda.

  29. I didn’t nit pick anything, I’m taking your words at face value.

    “””you asserted that the violence between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq is unavoidable because of cultural and historical forces. “””

    Tell that to them. Are you saying that the cultural and historical forces are NOT the reason they are fighting? You really think that they would have been peaceful without AQ interference? Sure AQ has stoked the flames but the fire was already there.

    They are like the Hatfields and McCoys. But if you read my post, I did say this is solveable. Like fighting siblings they need a good time out, normal life can sit in, then they can address their differnces peacefully. Well, hopefully. The question is who is going to force them to take a time out. The Iraqi government is currently incapable. Without that time out, I think they will continue to escalate or at least continue the current level of violence.

    “””I disagree with that statement, and point to the fact that the Sunni/Shiite civil war only began after a committed campaign to make it happen was carried out by al Qaeda.”””

    You are failing to acknowledge, in this comment anyway, that they were fighting before AQ started it’s campaign. It’s simply escalated since then.

    “”Against my better judgement, I’ll try to restate my argument in language off sufficient neutrality that you might deign to address it;”””

    We would all like that, 🙂

    but seriously, what point of your have I failed to address?

    “”you asserted that the violence between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq is unavoidable because of cultural and historical forces. I disagree with that statement, and point to the fact that the Sunni/Shiite civil war only began after a committed campaign to make it happen was carried out by al Qaeda.””

    I have addressed that at least twice. The sunnis and Shias were fighting before it was “civil war” therefore, AQ is NOT the first cause of the fighting.

    Dodgeball pro??? You MUST be looking in a mirror.

    I ask you this Joe. Why were they fighting before the event (mosque bombing) or any AQ intervention, and even before Saddam took power?

  30. TrickyVic,

    Certainly, there are historical animosities between Sunnis and Shiites. There are historical animosities between Christians and Jews in Europe. And yet, they manage to live amongst each other peacefully, unless somebody goes stirring up trouble. Well, mostly, anyway. You can always count on a few assholes to make trouble, but most people will reject such hostility unless there is someone in power stirring the pot.

    Hostilities between Sunnis and Shiites were much rarer, before the Al Qaeda campaign. Similarly, Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats lived in mixed neighborhoods prior to Milosevic’s campaigns.

    The presence of tensions between groups does not equate to warfare between them. The natura order of things is for people to come to accept and get along with their neighbors, unless there is an outside force deliberately stoking hostilities.

  31. “””Certainly, there are historical animosities between Sunnis and Shiites. There are historical animosities between Christians and Jews in Europe. And yet, they manage to live amongst each other peacefully, unless somebody goes stirring up trouble. Well, mostly, anyway. You can always count on a few assholes to make trouble, but most people will reject such hostility unless there is someone in power stirring the pot.”””

    Exactly, I never said it was unavoidable violence. It was Iraqi’s decision to make after Hussein was removed from power. A few assholes decided to take up the animosities from the past. The inability for us to prevent that violence signaled the ease of getting away with it, then a few assholes, became some assholes, as the violence became tit for tat, some became many, then when the mosque was bombed, many became a lot, and it’s been building ever since. But your failing to admit that AQ did not start it, they helped expand it, but the fighting was already happening. I’m talking real fighting, not just the desire to fight. But the prime mover, first cause of the violence is sectarian, not AQ.

    There are a couple of things your failing to understand. I have never claimed that tension equates to warfare, I simply do not believe that. I actually argue that there is nothing wrong with extremist elements of religion. As long as they don’t try to force their religion on others or break laws of the land. Extremism does not equate to violence either. Only violence equates to violence, at least in my book.

    Lennon said The War is over if you want it. I agree with what he means. If we all want peace we will have peace. Easier said than done.

    I don’t agree to the natural order you speak of, only choices among men. I know there is a classical argument for it but, mankind keeps making choices contra to that order. Man is very inhumane towards his fellow man. Not always of course, but when someone has the desire to, and the means to, it becomes a matter of choice. Peace is a responsibility.

    In reality, Iraq is in this mess not because our failures to secure the country, nor AQ’s attacks, certainly they are big factors, but because they have chosen to fight each other. They can have peace if they want it. All they have to do is forgive their neighbor’s trespass against them and do unto others as they would have done unto them. Then lay down their arms and start rebuilding.

    The choice is theirs to make.

    But, that is not their choice.
    So what now?

  32. “Having said all that, more troops are useless if you don’t have a plan.”

    I agree TrickyVic, except that the plan we need isn’t military, but rather cultural. It doesn’t matter if we militarily brought about peace for a while. Because as soon as we leave, it will just start up again unless we’ve managed to change them CULTURALLY, to value peace, tolerance, equality, etc. even more than religious hatred/intolerance. It doesn’t even matter who started this civil war. Whether it was outside forces like Iran or Al Quada infiltrating and provoking or whether some of it has been internal. The fact is that NOW there are plenty of Iraqis themselves who want to exterminate the other sects. Doesn’t matter how much you eat their food and speak their language. Americans aren’t going to pass themselves as “more native” than the Iraqis themselves. And THEY want extermination of the other side, not peace. So what if you round up all conventional weapons and destroy them? Will you outlaw them so no one will have guns? Will you outlaw simple ingredients to make simple bombs? I understand it’s not hard to gather materials to make yourself a suicide bomber. Will you outlaw guns for the Iragi military or police themselves? You’d have to unless there was a way to tell who’s more loyal to the democratic government than the religious leaders of their sect that preach and order violence. Will we stay there forever to make sure they don’t start up again? No, of course not. So what makes you think they won’t start up again? What makes you think a time-out will magically install democratic values in those people? And it IS magic because NO ONE has proposed any kind of plan for cultural change. Are we going to eat their food, speak their language, and patiently explain to them the evils of religious intolerance and the virtues of democratic ideals? Good luck with that. (This is directed to kwais more than you TrickyVic.)

    The best course is for Bush to own up to the mistake like a real man, say he was wrong, say he was stupid or at least ignorant to think he could simply take over a country and force democracy on its people who don’t want it. And withdraw all troops immediately. Staying there or sending more troops only delays the inevitable at a horrendous cost to US (both US soldiers and the billions needed to finance this war). The civil war will play out; only it will play out to its conclusion sooner than later if we withdraw now. This is the best course unless someone actually has a sensible plan for CULTURAL change in Iraq.

  33. A report on Iraqi training.

    http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2006/12/13/us_officer_spells_out_iraq_police_training_woes/

    “””So what if you round up all conventional weapons and destroy them? Will you outlaw them so no one will have guns?””

    Are you referring to may comments about securing the weapons depots? That was something we should have done when we invaded.

    I’m a firm believer of the second amendment, I do believe everyone should have a right to self protection.

    I do agree, they will always have the choice to return to violence even if we were able to get it under control now.

    I hate to disappoint you, we are not able to change their culture anymore than we can make them accept peace.

    “””What makes you think a time-out will magically install democratic values in those people?”””

    I don’t, the time out would be an extended cooling off period. It has nothing to do with democratic values.

    I am aware my ideas might not succeed.

    Everything really depends on the choices of individual Iraqis. That’s proving to be a problem for us.

    “”Staying there or sending more troops only delays the inevitable at a horrendous cost to US (both US soldiers and the billions needed to finance this war).”””

    Maybe. I want to believe we can curb much of the violence and accomplish getting Iraq on its feet, but I admit it will be very expensive and requires much more troops and cash. But, is it worth it? I say yes, but 62% say no. I can assure you I’m not one of those people that jumps up and down yelling cut and run coward. I don’t buy into that crap. If America decides it’s not worth it and wants to bail, so be it, the people have spoken. I don’t think we are there yet, but we are getting real close.

    “”The civil war will play out; only it will play out to its conclusion sooner than later if we withdraw now. “””

    And maybe that’s required. We could back away and let them duke it out till they are tired. That would be real nasty though, and it would likely reverberate throughout the Mid-East possibly collapsing some other governments too.

    It’s a tough, tough, situation.

  34. “I hate to disappoint you, we are not able to change their culture anymore than we can make them accept peace.”

    Maybe you misunderstood my post. The whole point of the post was to point out that no one has a clue how to change their culture. And it’s this culture, the religious intolerence, that’s behind the sectarian violence. You say the choices of individual Iraqis is proving to be a problem for us. Duh. You think these choices are somehow isolated from their culture? So if you don’t expect the culture to change at all from having a cool-off period, what makes you think they’d make different choices? This is what I’m calling “magic.” Their culture is still the same. They still don’t believe in individual liberty, equality, or tolerance. They still have no problem killing people just on the basis of religious disagreement. Yet if only we give them a cooling-off period, they won’t act on those beliefs and those desires any more. Magic.

    The civil war started and escalated EVEN WITH OUR PRESENCE. How much EASIER it would be for it to start again once we’re gone. Gee, if only there were people who wants it to start … hmm … oh yea PLENTY of Iraqis do, since their culture is still the same after the cool-off period. Thus the cool-off period accomplishes nothing except to delay what they want to do anyway.

    I understand that everyone wants to believe we can solve this problem somehow, curb much of the violence, and get Iraq on its feet, but that’s all we have, this hope and magical thinking. I don’t know if it’s worth it. But even if it is, no one has a plan (any sensible idea really) how to make it happen. Sending more troops in the hope of establishing a cool-off period is NOT a plan. You can send your kids to their rooms to stop the fight, but unless you’ve taught them not to fight, you’re only delaying it. They’ll fight again at the next opportunity when you’re not watching unless you’ve addressed the very source of their conflict. And we’re not doing that in Iraq and even worse, my whole point is that no one knows how to do that even.

  35. Interesting debate between joe and TrickyVic.

    Actually, I thought that the prevailing wisdom regarding the comparisons between Iraq and Yugoslavia was that under Tito’s iron hand the factions had no choice but to co-exist, much like the three factions in Iraq under Saddam. Once the strongman is removed, it becomes open season for old rivalries to re-emerge. This seems to be the lesson that Clinton was unaware of, and that Bush refused to learn from.

  36. “”I understand that everyone wants to believe we can solve this problem somehow, curb much of the violence, and get Iraq on its feet, but that’s all we have, this hope and magical thinking. I don’t know if it’s worth it. But even if it is, no one has a plan (any sensible idea really) how to make it happen. Sending more troops in the hope of establishing a cool-off period is NOT a plan. You can send your kids to their rooms to stop the fight, but unless you’ve taught them not to fight, you’re only delaying it. They’ll fight again at the next opportunity when you’re not watching unless you’ve addressed the very source of their conflict. And we’re not doing that in Iraq and even worse, my whole point is that no one knows how to do that even.”””

    For one that’s not my total plan, it’s one element. Reducing the violence is a very large task which why I say it requires a couple of Hundred Thousand more troops. I don’t think it’s going to happen either. I have a lot of ideas, but I’m not going post the whole thing on H&R.

    You make a great arguement to pack-up and leave. If we can’t solve it why on earth would we keep spending 2 Billion a week? I think you’ve said in the past we need to stay, forgive me if I’m wrong on that, but you provide much to the debate on why we shouldn’t. But don’t kid yourself we can not change their culture, that is up to them. Personally the concept of us trying to change their culture is appalling to me. I say let the Arabs be Arabs. There culture is rich in history, much more than our own. No culture has a monopoly on peace. Their problem is not their culture but their individual inability to forgive and move on.

    Which is it? If we go, the logistics are simple, pack up and leave. If we stay we MUST have a plan that will work and we must be commited to providing ALL of the resources the plan needs. I don’t believe the American public nor the government, Republican and Democrat alike, have the will for it.

    Once the new funding requests are passed by the incoming Congress the cost of Iraq and Afganistan will be over half a Trillion dollars with no end in sight.
    No one can do “magic”, maybe that’s your point. but if it’s going to take “magic” that no one can do. If it is impossible to solve then I say we leave tomorrow and not spend another cent on the land of make believe.

    One day we may be looking back at this and say, “with the money we spent on Iraq, we could have fixed Social Security”.

    JF, I don’t think that’s what Joe meant when he brought up that comparison. But your comparison is why I belived the Sunnis and Shias would start fighting as soon as the big club stopped beating them. I didn’t say it quite like that. Joe’s argument is that your wrong because there is nothing that says the old rivalries MUST re-emerge. Of course he’s right in that nothing says it MUST, certainly I did not, but it’s a safe bet to think people will go back to their old ways once the stick that beat them down is removed, and you should be prepared to deal with it from day one. I told my roomate when we invaded “What are we going to give them freedom for, to fight each other?” I was right. I didn’t want to be right, but old habits are hard to break.

    My opinion on Iraq is simple. Shit or get off the pot. But, I don’t think we have the guts to take the painful crap Iraq calls for.

    So what now?

  37. TrickyVic, I think we’re the only ones still paying attention to this thread, but anyway, you have me confused with someone else as I’ve never said we need to stay. I haven’t even read Reason’s Hit and Run until, I think, last week. Your statement “don’t kid yourself we can not change their culture, that is up to them” sounds like a contradiction. If it’s up to them and if only they can change their culture, then WE cannot. (Maybe this is what you meant? I can see that if there was a comma after “don’t kid yourself.”) And if you find this idea of trying to change their culture appalling, then there’s no reason to stay even in principle because my point is that without changing their culture, there’s no point to achieving a cool-off period. And it’s not so much that I think this culture changing is impossible, in a logical sense it is possible, but rather that even if it was no one has any idea how to do it and this is what’s crucial, not the military success. And it seems kind of disingenuous to say you’ve got bunch of ideas how but won’t put it all in this Hit and Run section. That’s like saying, “I have a great argument why we should stay but I won’t say it all here.” Well, how bout a little bit of it, or the ones you think most promising? How bout just one single idea, the one you like best? If you’re going to keep it a secret, why should I even believe you that you have one when no one else has even proposed anything on this matter? I’m surprised that you even have an idea on this given how appalled you are at the very suggestion of it. Maybe your ideas that you won’t share has to do with military success, not culture changing. But I’ve already argued why military success is irrelevant. And if you think my argument is good, then there’s no point to these ideas.

    “Their problem is not their culture but their individual inability to forgive and move on.” Again, you think such “choices” are isolated from their culture? I do not understand this at all. By “culture” I’m talking about their common thread that determines or influences their beliefs and desires, and it is their beliefs and desires that determine whether they will or whether they can forgive and move on. Choices don’t happen in a vacuum. They don’t happen randomly. Their culture is in the very thick of things that influence what they choose. If they were not so religiously intolerant, if they actually valued liberty and equality, it would be much easier for them to forgive and move on. But maybe even a change in culture will not help them to forgive and move on. If so, that’s more reason for us to get the hell out NOW.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.