History

The Aftermath of Ending the War: Can Congress Take It?

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The American Prospect has a long article on "How Congress Helped End The Vietnam War" by Julian Zelizer. It gets to the parts most immediately relevant to the current Iraq situation about 2/3 of the way through:

In 1972, [Sen. Frank] Church [of Idaho] and Senator Clifford Case of New Jersey were able to push through the Senate an amendment to foreign-aid legislation that would end funding for all U.S. military operations in Southeast Asia except for withdrawal (subject to the release of all prisoners of war). Senate passage of the legislation, with the amendment, marked the first time that either chamber had passed a provision establishing a cutoff of funds for continuing the war. Though House and Senate conferees failed to reach an agreement on the measure, the support for the amendment was seen by the administration as another sign that antiwar forces were gaining strength. ………

During the final negotiations with the Vietnamese over ending the war, culminating with the 1972 Christmas Bombings and the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973, the president knew that he only had a limited amount of time before Congress finally used the power of the purse to bring the war to an end—regardless of what the administration wanted. Indeed, to make certain that the president could not reverse course, in June 1973 Congress passed legislation that included an amendment sponsored by Church and Case to prohibit the use of more funds in Southeast Asia after August 15. Sixty-four senators voted in favor. When the House assented, its vote marked the first time that chamber had agreed to cut off funds, too.

Take that, do-nothing Biden!

One of the interesting things this article doesn't get into, despite its length, is something that antiwar forces need to be stiff-spined about: that things were really, really superugly for quite a while there in Vietnam and Cambodia after the U.S. pulled out, as they are likely to be in Iraq–something admitted to by antiwarriors from both the left and libertarian sides in this piece by me from back in December.

That's something that antiwar politicians especially need to keep in the front of their mind, and be ready for. Indeed, such awareness, and an unwillingness to stand behind all the talk of "who lost Iraq?" going into an election year, may well play into whether or not anyone in Congress ultimately gets serious about saying no to George.

NEXT: Shouldn't the Fucktard Rulers of Boston Be the Ones Who Resign?

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  1. One of the reason’s we were attacked on 9/11 is that Clinton pulled out of Somalia after the “Blackhawk Down” incident. Now the question of whether we should have gone into Somaila is a seperate measure but the perception of weekness that the withdrawl left showed Al Quida they might be able to beat us. Now, in 2007, we are already in Iraq. To show weekness at this point could lead to an even greater disaster. Now that we are actually in Iraq we must stay until Iraq can stand on her own – as a free (or at least quasi-free) nation.

  2. Substitute issue for “measure”

  3. Well, if they do cut off funds, I’ll have more respect for them if nobody pulls a McGovern, and stands in the well of the Senate and asserts that the people gearing up for a mass slaughter really are a positive force for change, as ol’ George did with the Khmer Rouge.

  4. Actually, if they cut off funds and creat yet another society of affluent recreational boaters they will spin it all the same way and blame it on Nixon or a Bush. All academics and print/network ‘journalists’ will go along with it and anybody who disagrees will be labeled as insane.

  5. Well, if they do cut off funds, I’ll have more respect for them if nobody pulls a McGovern, and stands in the well of the Senate and asserts that the people gearing up for a mass slaughter really are a positive force for change, as ol’ George did with the Khmer Rouge.

    Same thought, different example. Which version is taught in j-school now?

  6. That’s an interesting theory PDL, do you have anything suggesting any connection between the planning of 9/11 and the failures in Somalia? I hate to sound so partisan, but is the link any stronger than, say, our support of Afghan rebels in the 80’s? Maybe if we hadn’t sold arms to Iran in the 80’s 9-11 wouldn’t have happened…

    Personally, I think it all goes back to Grenada… I think that’s what pissed off Atta and his buddies in the first place.

  7. Saving some time so the cheese-eating-surrender-monkey does not have to wait:

    That’s an interesting theory PDL, do you have anything suggesting any connection between the planning of 9/11 and the failures in Somalia?

    How about the words of UBL (you know, the planner and funder guy?) saying just that? Perhaps you missed the zillion times he has been quoted for that in EVERY major news venue, save The Nation? Ooops, okay, I said major.

    I hate to sound so partisan, but is the link any stronger than, say, our support of Afghan rebels in the 80’s? Maybe if we hadn’t sold arms to Iran in the 80’s 9-11 wouldn’t have happened…

    The rebels we helped (see the work of Rep. Charlie Wilson, in spite of James Earl Carter III) were known as “the Northern Alliance” and they were at odds with the Talinban/Al Queda.

    Of course, I can see your confusion if you think every brown skinned person is the same, but I do not accept it.

  8. Personally, I think it all goes back to Grenada… I think that’s what pissed off Atta and his buddies in the first place.

    Kicking the Soviet backed Cubans out of another island pissed off Atta?

    Please, tell us more about that one.

  9. PDL,
    You don’t suppose our military actions in Gulf War I and our continued presence in the Gulf Region through the 90’s had anything to do with it, eh? Maybe that, coupled with the pressure on Sudan to expel Bin Laden had more to do with Al Quaeda’s animosity towards the US than our “weakness” of leaving Somalia to its own destiny.

    Perhaps our real weakness was the fact that nobody bothered to truly pursue and capture Bin Laden after the WTC bombings in 1993, the Khobar Towers bombing in 1998, or the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. No, we only started taking Al Quaeda as a threat after September 11, 2001 and by March 2002 the administration had written Bin Laden and the Al Queada off as not being a top priority in the war on terror.

  10. PDl, I think our perception of weekness is seven days.

  11. You don’t suppose our military actions in Gulf War I and our continued presence in the Gulf Region through the 90’s had anything to do with it, eh?

    You mean like when UBL demande the USA leave Saudi Arabia so he would leave them alone, we did and he began blowing the place up?

    You have some twistid victim logic going on.

  12. No, we only started taking Al Quaeda as a threat after September 11, 2001 . . .

    No, the Clintonistas were talking it earlier, but they were doing it in that “Wag the Dog” “Operation Desert Rat” manner between court appearances attempting to discredit innocent women.

  13. In Vietnam, we were beaten by the NVA, not an indigenous group like we have in Iraq. As far as things, “getting ugly” when we pull out, well, at least in Vietnam, life was real good in Saigon until we left, but Bagdhad right now? Forget it!! It can’t get much uglier.

  14. The question of whether or not we should have initiated Gulf War I is a separate issue than whether we should have pulled out of Saudi Arabia when UBL demanded we do. Whether you like it or not the radical Islamists view withdrawal under such circumstances as weakness. Doing so will not make them happy but hungry for more. These are not people who have the same moral code as most Western diplomats.

    Guy Montag is right on target when he points out that Usama Bin Ladin is the one who said he perceived weakness in us when we withdrew from Somalia. I thought after the number of times that was played on the television and in newspapers and magazines it would be obvious that is what I was referring to. Apparently some people have a short memory.

  15. PDL, GM,

    Osama’s actual words, lifted from a National Review column, no less.

    “It cleared from Muslim minds the myth of superpowers,” Osama bin Laden said of Somalia in his interview with ABC News journalist John Miller in May 1998. “The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat.”

    My reading comprehension skills must be suffering. I cannot find the part where he says that it motivated the attacks in 2001. In fact, it reads as if he was speaking in 1998, without mentioning al Qaeda at all.

    From the ADL’s website

    On August 23, 1996, bin Laden issued Al Qaeda’s first “declaration of war” against America, his “Message from Osama bin Laden to his Muslim brothers in the whole world and especially in the Arabian Peninsula: declaration of jihad against the Americans occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques (Saudi Arabia); expel the heretics from the Arabian Peninsula.”

    I know, I know, the ADL is just a front for anti-American and anti-Israeli forces, but they have a direct quote from Bin Laden this time.

  16. “Perhaps our real weakness was the fact that nobody bothered to truly pursue and capture Bin Laden after the WTC bombings in 1993, the Khobar Towers bombing in 1998, or the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. No, we only started taking Al Quaeda as a threat after September 11, 2001 and by March 2002 the administration had written Bin Laden and the Al Queada off as not being a top priority in the war on terror.”

    I agree that was ALSO a weakness. But so was the withdrawal from Somalia.

  17. So, how much longer should we stay in the clusterfuck, and how many more people should we kill, just to show that we can’t be daunted?

  18. Hignumber, your reading comprehension skills are indeed suffering because I never said that the withdrawal from Somalia was the MOTIVATION for the attacks. I said it was the REASON for them. After all, al Quida has not, to my knowledge attacked France. Being a paper tiger in his mind, he surely would think we are now easier to defeat. One is more likely to attack a target one might defeat than one you will surely not.

  19. Yeah, ineffectually occupying an Arab country and being unable to control more than a few acres of it in one city will really show ’em we’re not to be trifled with!

  20. “So, how much longer should we stay in the clusterfuck, and how many more people should we kill, just to show that we can’t be daunted?”

    Thoreau,

    First of all, I do not accept you premise that it is a “clusterfuck”. Yes, people are dying. They tend to do that in wars. But by the standards of wars throughout history (see also WWII See also WWI See also the American Civil War See Also the American Revolution) the deaths are pretty damn low. True, it has dragged out longer in terms of calendar days, but even so, in terms of total deaths they are pretty damn low.

  21. “Yeah, ineffectually occupying an Arab country and being unable to control more than a few acres of it in one city will really show ’em we’re not to be trifled with!”

    Sandy, which Arab country are you referring to? To whom are you referring?

  22. ‘First of all, I do not accept you premise that it is a “clusterfuck”.’

    That assessment depends entirely on the objectives, how well the plan reflects them, and how well new developments are responded to once the battle is engaged. I vote “clusterfuck”.

    To use the administration’s jargon of the day, if your primary objective is to secure small, hard-to-detect, highly mobile WMD weapons caches and labs in a country the size of CA with porous borders so they don’t fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists you go in with the biggest force you can to do the job. The U.S. only invaded with enough troops to overthrow Saddam’s gov’t which, logically, was only a milestone.

    The situation since the invasion has evolved to one characterized by terrorism, sectarian and tribal violence, and run-of-the-mill organized crime at least partially assisted by Iraq’s neighbors. The administration frequently portrays these circumstances as unforeseen and, to be fair, much of the criticism against them is political sniping based on hindsight.

    However, the administration was portraying the war in Iraq as the “central front in the war on terror” while it was still in the planning stage and has since described it as a “fly paper” strategy. Mission accomplished. What did they think the central front in the war on terror would look like and why weren’t they prepared?

    Another objective was to help Iraqis build a “vibrant democracy” in the heart of the Arab and Muslim worlds. No matter what your opinion of Arab and Muslim culture, the fly paper and building democracy strategies are logically incompatible unless you invade with the biggest force possible to protect the Iraqis from the Islamist terrorists you are intentionally attracting, not just overthrow the gov’t.

    Calling Syria and Iran evil and “putting them on notice” publicly and often, not invading Iraq with the biggest force possible to secure the Iraqi side of the borders as well as possible, and then whining about them assisting insurgents and terrorists that you intend to attract in the first place further highlights incompetence.

    In summary, if you believed the administration’s initial definition of the threat and accepted their objectives, then you must also conclude that the plan demonstrated them to be liars or incompetents. Either way, they are unacceptably dangerous.

  23. Patrick D, I hate to sound like a broken record but you leave me little choice. Whether or not we should have gone into Iraq is a separate issue from whether or not we should stay. Whether or not the reasoning for going in was valid is also a separate issue. Whether or not we should have had more/fewer/no troops going in is again, a separate issue from whether or not we should stay until Iraq can sustain itself as a free or at least quisi-free nation. Unless you have H.G. Well’s time machine, Dr. Who’s Tardis, Dr. Emmett L. Brown’s DeLorean or another fictional time machine we can do nothing about the past. We must look to the future and decide what, from our present vantage point, is the best course of action. The causalties in this war pale in comparison to the casualties suffered in earlier wars, wars we won. We are at war and to look weak would be suicide.

  24. What I find interesting is that the battle has shifted since the invasion and few in the U.S. seem to notice.

    Roughly it started out as the U.S. with some support from “moderate” Sunni states like Jordan and Saudi Arabia and some discreet support from Israel vs. Sunni Islamists.

    Now things have shifted to Sunnis (moderates and Islamists) vs. Shi’ites (moderates and Islamists). Israel, for now, has some discreet relationship with the Sunni states and is stepping up efforts to build strong relationships with India and especially China.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. hegemony in the region seems to be declining more quickly due the fruits of its war in Iraq (an Iran unchecked by Saddam’s Iraq and enriched by higher crude prices) and its democracy-building policy (a Hamas and Hizbollah empowered with democratic legitimacy).

  25. In Vietnam, we were beaten by the NVA, not an indigenous group like we have in Iraq.

    Sounds like a bunch of revisionist history bullshit to me. I do believe we negotiated the end of the Vietnam war at the Paris Peace Talks in 1973. The NVA broke the terms of the talks in 1974 after we withdrew.
    I know this due to the fact I was alive and paying attention at the time. Maybe some of you younger guys might want to crack a history text once in a while so you don’t sound like some braindead peacenik.

  26. PDL,

    I hear you.

    I would offer this: if your only vital interest in a violent conflict is not looking like a pussy, you’re screwed.

    We can wring our hands all we want about what a few Sunni jihadis think about us. The overwhelming reality is that the U.S. commitment in the Middle East has been grossly out of proportion to our real interests for almost 2 decades. Reality always asserts itself over whatever narrative we or the jihadis keep repeating to ourselves.

  27. Sunnis and Shiites were fighting long before there was even a United States of America. The battling was fierce, even more fierce than the various battles between Catholics and Protestants in Europe (see also The Mamluk expeditions.) This battle is probably best paralleled with the tribal conflicts in Rwanda in the 1990’s though not even close to the number of dead. The problem was that the Tutsis were in charge for a long time and oppressing the Hutus that many Hutus wanted revenge. The same thing is now going on in Iraq. The Sunnis were in charge for a very long time and oppressing the Shiites. Result? Many Shiites want revenge and many Sunnis fear losing control of everything.

  28. The rebels we helped (see the work of Rep. Charlie Wilson, in spite of James Earl Carter III) were known as “the Northern Alliance”

    Uh, no. We gave money to the Pakistani ISI, who gave most of it to their brethren, the Pashtuns. The NA were Tajiks, not beloved by Pakistan.

    The Taliban were/are Pashtuns, currently ensconced in the Pashtun tribal regions of our “ally” Pakistan. What goes around comes around.

  29. “I would offer this: if your only vital interest in a violent conflict is not looking like a pussy, you’re screwed.”

    First of all, it is NOT the only vital interest. We also have an interest in creating at least one majority-Arabic-Speaking land with a free press. The state controlled media in Arab Lands promote violence and spew anti-(anyone who is not Muslim) hatred around the Arab World.

    Secondly, as I stated earlier the radical Islamists do not have the same moral code as our beloved Western diplomats. They do not care if we are trying to play nice. They do not care if we are trying to be “politically correct”. And they certainly do not want to stop until they have accomplished their goals. In this context, “looking like a pussy” will get you not only screwed but raped and killed.

  30. Oooh weee, can you just imagine what the reaction of the Islamofascists would be the day the last American soldier was airlifted from Iraq’s capital on account of the Dems’ cutting off financial support? Hmm, would it be “America is great. Thank you for finally leaving the country and getting your nose out of Iraq’s business. Life will be good now for all.” Or, would it be “Ah ha, just like we had hoped. America demonstrated its lack of resolve in Somalia. It demonstrated its lack of resolve after the WTC bombings in ’93. It demonstrated its lack of resolve after the USS Cole bombing. It might have tried to show its resolve when it invaded Iraq, but after only a few years of fighting, they couldn’t deal with it. Thank you for leaving, and for demonstrating once again that you do not have the resolve necessary to beat us. As we move forward with our mission to destroy America and Israel, we certainly will use America’s demonstrated lack of resolve as motivation.”

  31. aninymouse wrote, “In Vietnam, we were beaten by the NVA, not an indigenous group like we have in Iraq. As far as things, “getting ugly” when we pull out, well, at least in Vietnam, life was real good in Saigon until we left, but Bagdhad right now? Forget it!! It can’t get much uglier.”
    You stupid cunt. America did NOT lose one battle in Vietnam.

  32. To show weekness at this point could lead to an even greater disaster.

    All right, here’s the choice before us: pull out now, or pull out after this surge fails (unless that’s a “separate issue”), having further stretched our armed forces to the breaking point.

    If we pull out now, our enemies may well take it as a sign of weakness. If we pull out later, not only will our enemies still take it as a sign of weakness, but their perception will be correct.

  33. Guy Montag has a blog? Well blow me down!

  34. We also have an interest in creating at least one majority-Arabic-Speaking land with a free press.

    Wait a minute! Hey, look! It’s a mask. Why, that’s not a Pro Defense Libertarian at all. It’s a…a…a NEO-CON dressed up like a libertarian. Think about it – all libertarians are pro-defense. If they weren’t they’d be strictly anarcho-capitalists. A libertarian would never believe that pre-emptively invading another sovereign nation that was not engaged in attacks on us was a justifiable use of the military.

    Neo-con, go home!

  35. Crimethink, the War in Iraq is not the disaster many people perceive it to be. It has problems to be sure but if you compare it to say, the average crime rate in Los Angeles, New Orleans or Gary Indiana it is not that bad. Post Saddam Iraq is a kid on a bike with training wheels. She just needs them on a little bit longer before we take them off.

  36. Red Diamond Jim,

    I’ve heard he has some cars, too.
    And he went to dinner with a reporter once but she wouldn’t sleep with him or something like that.

    And he has a blog, too.

  37. If Congress does cut off funds, and U.S. forces withdraw rapidly, I’d say the odds of us being back within 10-15 years are about 80%. The difference next time is that there won’t be any efforts of nation building, at least not until after a whole lot of nation and population destroying gets done. The United States in the world’s largest oil consumer, and the Persian Gulf holds a huge percentage of the world’s oil reserves. There is no such thing as non-intervention, given those facts, and if you think the intervention can be strictly limited to cutting checks to despotic thugs, in order to allow oil extraction, you just haven’t been paying attention for the past 25 years, to say nothing of the general history between the Islamic world and the rest of the globe.

  38. Highnumber, I have been called many things in my life but this is the first time I have ever been called a neo-con.

    “A libertarian would never believe that pre-emptively invading another sovereign nation that was not engaged in attacks on us was a justifiable use of the military.”

    And when did I ever say that this WAS a justifiable use of the military? You took a single sentence out of context to slap a much misunderstood label on me. By the way, the original meaning of neo-con is that of a liberal (in the modern U.S. sense of that term) who has become a conservative (in the modern U.S. sense of that term) thus earning them the Latin prefix “neo” meaning new.

  39. “Oooh weee, can you just imagine what the reaction of the Islamofascists would be the day the last American soldier was airlifted from Iraq’s capital..”

    You mean Islamists in Iraq? How about panic followed by the feeling of being hunted animals? The jihadis are hated by the Shi’ites and Kurds and somewhat tolerated by the Sunnis. If you think they are just going walk into the Green Zone and declare a Caliphate, you’re drinking the neo-con Kool-Aid.

  40. Patrick D, I am not sure Republitarian was actually saying there would be an imediate Caliphite in Iraq. He was probably saying it would be further evidence of our weakness.

  41. It has problems to be sure but if you compare it to say, the average crime rate in Los Angeles, New Orleans or Gary Indiana it is not that bad.

    In that case, what are our troops doing policing the streets of Baghdad? We need them here at home!

  42. Err, looks like you can’t put </sarcasm> tags on your posts anymore…

  43. “The United States in the world’s largest oil consumer, and the Persian Gulf holds a huge percentage of the world’s oil reserves.”

    And yet less than 15% of the United States consumption of crude actually comes from the Persian Gulf, Middle East and North Africa combined.

    In other words, it’s the source of crude for Asia and Europe and, therefore, much more important for them to have stability and security there than it is for the U.S. So we are grossly overcommitted and they are, and have been, getting a free ride.

  44. I wonder, were a thousand people killed in the past week in Gary, Indiana?

  45. Indeed, have over three thousand cops* beeen killed in the U.S. since march 2003?

    *Here I am obviously comparing the violence committed against cops in the U.S. and that committed against soldiers in Iraq.

  46. Actually, apparently the current confirmed deaths by the DoD (according to the website I’ll link to below) is 3,105.

    http://icasualties.org/oif/

  47. “In that case, what are our troops doing policing the streets of Baghdad? We need them here at home!”

    Crimethink, methinks you are forgetting about posse comitatis.

  48. I am not the first person to make the comparison between murder rates and deaths in Iraq. Try this link, the URL I linked to my handle.
    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47680

  49. PDL,

    Well, if our decider-in-chief can’t muster the moral courage to circumvent that outdated restriction in the name of national security, at least we can bring home some armored Humvees for the LAPD to use when navigating the IED-covered streets of Watts. I mean, it’s not like our soldiers need them in a relatively safe place like Iraq!

  50. PDL,

    Great link! I especially like the large print for the reading-impaired.

    there were 2,394 reported homicides in the Golden State last year. That compares with 905 deaths of coalition forces in Iraq, chiefly Americans and Brits, during the same time period.

    And, presumably, no actual Iraqis were killed during that time. 😉

  51. Pro Defense Libertarian,

    Does it really matter whether you are or aren’t? Have there been over THREE THOUSAND deaths of American policemen in the U.S. since March of 2003? I don’t believe that is the case. Have there been a thousand deaths via violence in any of the three cities you mentioned over the past week (whether in combination or alone)?

  52. Crimethink, I am not a defender of everything Bush has ever done. However, yes compared to California, Iraq is relatively safe. I know it sounds counterintuitive but what you see on your television screen is the most dangerous area of Iraq. Iraq is a big place, about the size of . . . well . . . California. Los Angeles is not the same as Mt. Shasta and Kurdistan is not the same as Baghdad.

  53. crimethink,

    Well, another obvious difference is that most of the acts of homocide in California over the past year weren’t committed as part of an armed conflict – namely a war.

  54. First of all, I do not accept you premise that it is a “clusterfuck”.

    Then you are nothing but a dead-ender who still can’t admit how egregiously wrong he was back in 2003. In a more reasonable world you’d be in a padded room.

    Bye bye.

    (Sorry, tonight I’m simply not in the mood to deal with the dead-enders. Normally I’d be nicer, but tonight is not one of those nights. And, honestly, it’s more than they deserve.)

  55. Pro Defense Libertarian,

    I’ll note that lots and lots of people migrate to California every year for economic oppurtunies, etc. Lots and lots of people are fleeing Iraq today.

  56. The bigness of Iraq is a separate issue, Pro.

  57. Good gravy, Patrick D, it is very frustrating that, at this late date, the meaning and implications of the concept of fungibility has to be explained, thus making clear that it doesn’t make any difference at all whether the the oil shipped to the U.S. actually comes from the Persian Gulf. Think of it this way. All the oil producers dump all their oil in a big tank, and then all the oil consumers get it from the tank. We consume the most oil, thus we have the biggest interest in seeing the tank filled. Unless you are proposing that we invade Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela, and just expropriate the oil in those places, the U.S. is going to be intervening is some form in the Persian Gulf.

  58. Thoreau, if you have no argument but an ad hominim I will consider I have won the debate with you. Groitus, I would also like to point out lots and Lots of people also migrate FROM California when they find out what it is like to actually live there.

  59. PDL,

    My point is that this fixation with not looking weak in the Islamist mind (the fantasy world) is leading to some incredibly idiotic decisions that are costing us out of all proportion to our interests in the real world at the geo-political level.

    At the military level, it means that there is no such thing as a strategic retreat no matter how indefensible the position and that losing a battle means losing the war. I have not heard anyone say that withdrawing from Iraq means we’re going to stop hunting Islamists. If anything, Iraq has been a distraction.

    I would also point out that while I clearly see the series of events that may have emboldened al-Qaeda to attempt 9/11, their circumstances have changed dramatically since then as well. They are not able to move as freely about in the world and train in Afghanistan unmolested while casually pondering their next move. They (and the U.S. to the extent we sent the invitation and opened the door) ignited a major fire in the Middle East. There is a Sunni vs. Shi’a rumble brewing and if they don’t want to fade into complete irrelevance they have to participate.

    Finally, as I pointed out above, the nature of the battle has changed and alliances are shifting regionally and globally. The U.S. and Sunni Islamists actually share some “allies” now. Israel is shopping for arms customers and friends that are actually on speaking terms with their enemies and have some influence over them.

    How much farther down this rabbit hole you want to go?

  60. “Good gravy, Patrick D, it is very frustrating that, at this late date, the meaning and implications of the concept of fungibility has to be explained…”

    Not to me. Light Crude and Natural Gas are two of the futures contracts I trade for a living.

    My point stands. The load we are bearing is grossly disproportionate to benefits we derive even when you’re talking globally. I’m not saying we don’t intervene ever, anywhere, under any circumstances. I’m saying the Middle East is a lot more important to Europe and Asia than it is to the U.S. It’s time to start transferring the load (back).

    Time to go out to dinner. Night all.

  61. PDL,

    Groitus, I would also like to point out lots and Lots of people also migrate FROM California when they find out what it is like to actually live there.

    I suspect that California has a net gain from migration, whereas Iraq has a net loss.

    Here’s a suggestion though; you move to Iraq and set up a business.

  62. One wonders how often the entire city of Los Angeles (or even portions of the city) are put under a nightime curfew? How many checkpoints does one have to go through to get into Los Angeles? How many soldiers – not police officers, soldiers – patrol the streets of Los Angeles?

  63. That “fantasy world” is very powerful in the mind of radical Islamists. After all, some of them are willing to kill themselves for a fantasy world of, depending on the translation, either virgins or white raisins. As for shifting alliances, they have been the norm throughout history. Once upon a time the Soviet Union was an ally and Joseph Stalin was lovingly called “Uncle Joe.” Alliances may shift again and again. I would also like to reiterate that it would be VERY strategic to have a majority-Arabic speaking nation in the Middle East with a free press. Without it, the people of the Middle East are largely at the mercy of state-run media for their information. Sure, some may be able to hop on the Internet if they are lucky but without a large contingent of Arabic typing bloggers who can write what is happening in the Middle East without fear of being beheaded or (at best) thrown in prison for treason/blasphemy/etc. what good does that do? They might happen upon a third generation Arab Frenchman who stubbles on in pidgin Arabic or some such but it would likely seem nothing more than an alien from a strange world.

  64. Groitus, no, California has a net OUTMIGRATION. Check out the URL I linked to my handle.

    http://www.census.gov/mp/www/cpu/fact_of_the_day/006832.html

  65. Bye Bye Everyone (yawns) I need to get some sleep.

  66. Pro Defense Libertarian,

    Then are people leaving California because of a civil war?

    Refugee crisis “nearing catastrophe” in Iraq: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/aa8d01c8-b7c3-11db-bfb3-0000779e2340.html

    Money quote from the article:

    According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, about 2m Iraqis have fled the country and 1.8m have been displaced within Iraq since the invasion of March 2003.

  67. It seems a bit odd to claim that the only action we took in Southeast Asia that led to the widepsread slaughter was our exit.

    We expanded the war into heretofore peaceful Cambodia and Laos. We engineered the state of war between the Montanyards and the Vietnamese government, and between the Hmong and the Laotian government. Heck, we provided support for the Khmer Rouge and worked to undercut the Cambodian government.

    What we leave behind in Iraq will first and foremost be a consequence of our decision to invade, occupy, and adminster that country, and the conditions that came about because of that. Once you start a war, you take on the responsibility for the post-war, good bad or indifferent.

  68. The American public will have watched the war was being lost for three or four years before the withdrawal finally begins. Claiming that anti-war forces lost the war beginning in January 2007 just isn’t going to be credible, because we’ve all been paying attention to how the war’s been going.

    Who lost Iraq? Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George Bush, obviously – the people who were in charge when it was lost, and who put in the place the policies and strategies that lost it.

  69. joe,

    We expanded the war into heretofore peaceful Cambodia and Laos.

    We extended our presence in the war to Cambodia, but Cambodia had been part of the war (not by its own doing) before that because the North Vietnamese were using it as a means to ship arms.

    Heck, we provided support for the Khmer Rouge…

    We did?

    I read Shawcross’ Sideshow and I don’t recall that being in that book (keep in mind that I read the 1979 version of the book). Shawcross does argue (if I recall conrrectly) though that American policy inadvertantly aided the rise of the Khmer Rouge though. The book also discusses how corruption in the Cambodian military and how this led to large amounts of the material being shipped to Cambodia from the U.S. ending up in the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

  70. [Iraq] has problems to be sure but if you compare it to say, the average crime rate in Los Angeles, New Orleans or Gary Indiana it is not that bad.

    When was the last time someone blew up 100s of people in a market in one of the cities above? Never.

    When was the last time someone tried to kill me in one of the cities listed above? Never.

    PDL is either deluded, a liar or a provacateur. Maybe he thinks he’s a clever troll who can mock little kids getting all blown to hell by his idiotic comparisons. He has no god damn clue about what is going on in Iraq. He can go to fucking hell.

    Sorry but it’s thinking like his that is prolonging this god awful stupid war.

  71. The “perception of weakness” that people are afraid of showing is real, but you know what? We’re already showing it, and have been since the war started to go bad around 2003. Emboldening the enemy is a consequence of losing, and we’ve been losing for a long time. The longer this goes on, the worse it’s going to be.

    If we revise our Middle Eastern policy and redeploy now, we can do so in an orderly manner, an on our own terms. Our military marches out undefeated, and onto the next fight against Al Qaeda, on the field of our choosing this time. We’re still in a position to manage our exit in a manner that protects our most important interests, such as the integrity and security of democratic Kurdistan and rapid-reaction forces to take care of the al Qaeda elements that have taken root there since we lauched this adventure. We probably even still have enough juice to use our exit to help propel the political and diplomatic process necessary to end the civil war.

    If we stick around and keep failing – which everyone with their wits about them realizes is by far the most likely outcome of sticking it out – then we’ll end up flying helicopters off the roof of the embassy, with a tapped-out military and absolutely nothing left behind to show for our efforts but blood and fire, and that’s when the international jihadists would be not only emboldened, but in a position to control territory and have a base of operations.

    Will Allen guesses we’d have to go back in 10-15 years. I’m sure we’d be involved in some kind of military operations there sooner than that, whether in defense of the Kurds or to hit al Qaeda. I’ll take those ongoing headaches over the growing disaster we’re looking at if we stay.

  72. Grotius,

    The question at hand is what caused Cambodia to turn into a slaughterhouse, not whether its territory had some relevance to the war. The slaughterhouse began when we began our bombings, incursions, and anti-government activities.

    Also, just to be clear, I’m not claiming that we were flying air support for the KR or anything, just that our war policies and their effect on Cambodia gave them a boost.

  73. One final note:

    It would be really nice if the people who keep pushing for our country to start wars demonstrated this level of awareness of the consequences of failure BEFORE we go to war.

  74. The question at hand is what caused Cambodia to turn into a slaughterhouse…

    A number of factors, including the use of Cambodia as a supply route by the North Vietnamese, as well as the U.S. response to such. Then again there is also the ideology of the Khmer Rouge itself.

    Also, just to be clear, I’m not claiming that we were flying air support for the KR or anything, just that our war policies and their effect on Cambodia gave them a boost.

    That’s good.

  75. PDL:

    FWIW, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia all have higher murder rates than California and are experiencing population growth.

    But I expect these trends to change as folks head for greener pastures in the Land of Milk and Honey, otherwise known as Iraq.

  76. So, what is more likely as far as the future of Iraq? A single government (you pick the type) or a division into two, three or more governments?

  77. So, what is more likely as far as the future of Iraq?

    You mean after we leave? For a while there will be chaos and everybody getting killed. Probably, getting killed more often then now.

    It should be an anarchist’s dream world! No central government! And nothing to stop every little boy with a chip on his shoulder from trying to be king of the hill.

    It’s a really big hill and they’ll fight over it for a really long time. Probably none of them will get all of it.

    But they don’t think like we do. A 300 year pissing match won’t be out of the ordinary at all.

    Unless, of course, we get Uncle Sam to draft Pro Defense Libertarian, and send HIS ass OVER there to straighten those mutha fuckas OUT. Because, you see, Pro Defense has the vision and they just don’t see it yet in Iraq.

  78. PDL,

    Post Saddam Iraq is a kid on a bike with training wheels. She just needs them on a little bit longer before we take them off.

    Are you stupid? You can’t really believe this, by now?

    No, you’re faking it! Gotta be.

    Somebody please tell me he’s just trying to fake us out.

  79. I am not the first person to make the comparison between murder rates and deaths in Iraq.

    Yes, I’ve heard this argument before, but I still don’t understand the point of it.

    Are you saying that because it’s inevitable x number of people are going to die in California that makes optionally killing an additional y number of people in Iraq acceptable? Gee, since x number of people are going to die in California anyway, that must make it acceptable for me to head up to the local shopping mall with an Uzi and open fire. Don’t see why anyone should mind – considering the number of people who are going to die in California, the number of casualties from my antics should be negligible in comparison. Hardly even worth a mention above the fold, really.

  80. New York City has 40,000 police officers (1/4 the soldiers in Iraq) have they had 750 deaths in the past 4 years? Do they ride around in up-armored Ford Crown Victorias and wear 30 lbs of body armor? No. This big US city, Iraq comparison is stupid.

  81. joe nailed it on perceptions of weakness.

    Basically, if you help create a godawful bloody mess, something that is by its nature impossible ot manage, staying won’t make you look strong. Creating a situation where radical Shia militias operate with impunity, including just a block away from the Green Zone, doesn’t exactly make you look strong.

    (BTW, the death rate for US troops is ONLY for US troops, who, as others have pointed out, live in fortresses, wear body armor, and ride around in armored vehicles. The death rate for Iraqi civilians is significantly higher, to put it mildly.)

    The threat that faces the US will be countered by:

    1) Tracking down terrorist cells and rolling them up.
    2) Yes, it’s trite, but winning hearts and minds. The best way to find those cells is with the assistance of the populations that they seek to hide among.
    3) NOT creating failed states where militias can thrive and stateless terrorist groups can organize and set up training camps. That’s what we did in Iraq, and it’s probably beyond our power to remedy. We’ll have to wait for locals to fill the power vacuum, and then (when the vacuum is filled) befriend them and work together to roll up whatever terrorist groups have taken root.

    You know, if we hadn’t gone to Iraq, we’d be way ahead of the game on the third item…

  82. Grotius,

    “A number of factors, including the use of Cambodia as a supply route by the North Vietnamese, as well as the U.S. response to such. Then again there is also the ideology of the Khmer Rouge itself.”

    I can buy that. I’m certainly not trying to lay the blame for what happened there entirely at America’s feet. My point, just to remind you, is that attributing that slaughter to our exit is foolish, as if the years we spent prior to that turning the country into a war zone were of no consequence to what came next.

    As far as the “future of Iraq,” it’s the streets running red with blood. I wish it weren’t so, but that’s what we’ve wrought, with a little help from our friends and enemies. If we can replace the president’s petulant stubbornness with a responsible effort to mitigate the damage, rather than going “all in” on one last spin of the roulette wheel and probably losing it all, we may be able to reduce the bloodletting by establishing a Kurdish version of Taiwan and evacuating people there.

    If the gods really smile on us, once we’re gone, we might even be able to bring about a political settlement. But I wouldn’t count on the gods smiling on us.

  83. Back to the original question, Congress – meaning the Democrats who would have to lead on the movement – are much more likely to be able to “take it” now than a couple years ago, as the DLC cowards have been (warning: mixed metaphor alert) marginalized from both the left and right, by the “San Francisco Democrats” like Pelosi and Kennedy, and by the “Fighting Democrats” like Webb and Murtha.

  84. Here is some perspective that you all might find interesting. This is an email from an Iraqi engineer to the wife of a friend of mine, and was sent last week. This engineer met my friend and his wife while they were living in Iraq and working for the US Army CPA. I blanked out the names because those are not germane, and are nobody’s business.

    Dear XXXX
    So pleased to hear from you and thank you so much for your concerning in my country’s affairs , all my family are here now in Amman ( my father , mother , brother and his family my aunts and their families , and many of my close friends )
    You asked me about my opinion of what is going on in Iraq and I will try to think with you loudly:
    I may say that the current situation is really bad and that’s because of the following:
    – Sectarian and civil war is already started between Sunnis and Shiite and I expect it will not end in the near future
    – Weak and prejudice immature government ruling Iraq now
    – Armed militia encountered in all security forces and their loyalty is neither for Iraq nor to the government but to their own sectarian leaders and most of them had their own agenda in which most of it coincides with the Iranian interests in Iraq
    – Fragile democracy most of it is showy
    – Most of south of Iraq now is holding actually by Iranian supporters as most of the population there are Shiite
    – Al-Qaida supporters were still strong at center and west of Iraq and some of the Sunnis are supporting them
    – Baath party and supporters were still not believing that they lost their place in Iraq and try all their efforts to disturb the situation
    – And the worst thing is that the Iranian try all its effort to keep the Americans busy at Iraq by feeding Militias and insurgents with arms and finance them (same thing is happening at Lebanon ) and after all American’s sacrifices ( men and money ) I think Iran is the biggest winner in the region , and in my opinion Iran is the other side of the coin of terrorist if we assume that Al-Qaida is the first side and more over they are a rich oil country and behave as a nation with a fanatic mind against peace in the region.
    There are two view points to re-solve the situation in Iraq , Iraqi and American and as I’m an Iraqi citizen looking to see his country calm and living in peace I saw that if US withdraws their troops from Iraq now will by no means leave Iraq in chaos , a wide-extent civil war is unavoidable then , insufficient faithful Iraqi troops to control the security of the country , more interference of militia into government and in sequence will hold Iraqi resources to their interests , division of Iraq is expected into three sectors and most of it will be loyal to Iran and the rest of it will be hold by fanatic Islamists very much like Taliban in which they will find a new soil to re-erect their empire . I know that maybe there is no magic solutions for this situation but I’m sure withdrawing is not one of them.
    From an American view point I presume that leaving Iraq will leave the whole region (especially the moderate countries ) facing the wind of changing as this will mean a brilliant victory to Iran and to Al-Qaida and their effect will spread soon to other countries and I think that the domino’s theory will be applicable then here .
    Frequently I listen to the debate of democrat in your country and excuse me if it make me laugh “objection only to object ” ,no suggestions ?just promising the people to return their sons back home soon and safe ignoring that the current battle is occurring away from their homeland and the country pass safe during all these years after 9\11 till now and they would not consider that they will loose their territory in middle east region and soon the risk will come home ,how could one admit the grow of his enemy!!
    I have so much to talk to you about it, but I have to leave you here
    Wish you all the best and my prays to your husband and sons to return back home safely

    XXXX Al-XXXX

  85. thoreau,

    I don’t think that going into Iraq – at a later time and via a different style – was bad idea in itself. For example, I always thought that the heavily armed and multi-national inspection force idea was a useful notion, and a credible alternative to simple invasion. Of course the exercising of such an alternative would have to have to come long after March 2003; in other words, the traditional inspection process would have to get a long crack at things first.

  86. If anyone hasn’t figured it out yet, Pro Defense is just trolling. His linking to that laughable “CA has more murders than Iraq” WorldNetDailyForKids article demonstrates as mulch.

  87. wayne,

    Are you under the impression that there are people who don’t expect Iraq to become a disaster in the near future?

    We made a mess, and it’s going to bite us in the ass, and kill a whole lot of other people along the way. Are you just realizing this now, in February 2007?

  88. Joe,

    Do you really think that we can just withdraw from Iraq and that will be the end of it from our perspective? This is not Viet Nam.

  89. Grotius,
    “in other words, the traditional inspection process would have to get a long crack at things first.”

    By “long crack” you mean longer than the ten year long crack they actually did take at it, I presume? Twenty, thirty, forty years ought to do it. By then Chelsea would be dealing with Qusay’s son over the matter.

  90. but Bagdhad right now? Forget it!! It can’t get much uglier.

    The death rate can (and probably will) increase from thousands, to hundreds of thousands or millions, as it did in Cambodia and Vietnam.

    Well, another obvious difference is that most of the acts of homocide in California over the past year weren’t committed as part of an armed conflict – namely a war.

    See: War on Drugs.

  91. wayne,

    Inspections had been suspended between 1998 and 2003. The initial inspection regime was undertaken between 1992 and 1998. So there were to my knowledge five years of inspections.

  92. Plus a few months in 2003.

  93. I don’t think that going into Iraq – at a later time and via a different style – was bad idea in itself. For example, I always thought that the heavily armed and multi-national inspection force idea was a useful notion, and a credible alternative to simple invasion.

    Probably my viewpoint also. For some reason, I’m under the impression that there’s actually points on the graph between isolationism and full-blown clusterfuck.

  94. Wars are so hard to get out of and so easy to get into. Yet politicians are programmed to get into them. It’s what they “do.”

  95. wayne,

    “Do you really think that we can just withdraw from Iraq and that will be the end of it from our perspective?”

    No. Read the last paragraph of my 12:11 am comment. We cannot abandon our Kurdish allies, and we’re very likely going to need to carry out counter-terror operations against the jihadist groups our war allowed to set up shop in central and western Iraq.

    “By “long crack” you mean longer than the ten year long crack they actually did take at it, I presume?” Yes, you might remember that “crack.” It actually suceeded in finding and destroying Iraq’s WMDs and programs during the 1990s. Ring any bells?

    “Twenty, thirty, forty years ought to do it. By then Chelsea would be dealing with Qusay’s son over the matter.” Hey, pot, leave that kettle alone. Weren’t you just lecturing me about how long we’re going to be involved in Iraq?

    Happy Jack, “For some reason, I’m under the impression that there’s actually points on the graph between isolationism and full-blown clusterfuck.” Mmm-hmm. And how old were you when you started hating America?

  96. I’m mostly in agreement with joe and thoreau on this one.

    It makes me so angry that they sent our brave men and women over there and are leaving them in the meatgrinder. I don’t care that death rates are “low” for our troops, but when you don’t let them do their job and let politics get in the way of truly policing the most dangerous areas of Iraq, then you are throwing away the soldiers lives.

    I’d also like to have the administration give us a set of actual victory parameters, or at least what such parameters hopefully look like, but they still can’t even do that.

    It’s a cruel joke.

  97. Well, I don’t quite have 46 mniutes to sit down and watch it right now, nor am I sure that I will have that time to devote to it in the future, so maybe you could sum it up for me?

  98. From the thread following the Biden post Mr Doherty linked to:

    Guy Montag | January 11, 2007, 10:21am | #

    I propose that when using the word “reason” or variants, in this forum that it be bolded, sort of like how USA Today uses USA for anything remotely referring to the United States.

    Sound Reasonable?

    I think we forgot to at the time, so … DRINK!!!!

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