American Solutions for Blowing the Future

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Newsweek's excellent brief on Iraq includes this passage, a little callback to how some hawks wanted to go into Iraq even while the Afghan war was raging. The Taliban's turf lacked a certain propagandic oomph:

Rather than send the snake eaters to poke around mountain caves and mud-walled compounds, the U.S. military wanted to fight on a grander stage, where it could show off its mobility and firepower. To the civilian bosses at the Pentagon and the eager-to-please top brass, Iraq was a much better target. By invading Iraq, the United States would give the Islamists—and the wider world—an unforgettable lesson in American power. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board and, at the time, a close confidant of the SecDef. In November 2001, Gingrich told a NEWSWEEK reporter, "There's a feeling we've got to do something that counts—and bombing caves is not something that counts."

That quote is from a similarly-massive piece, Powell in the Middle from October 1, 2001. But Gingrich wasn't identified at the time.

The strike-Iraq contingent fears American credibility will be damaged if the United States gets bogged down in Afghanistan.

Good point. We've forgotten that this was the conventional wisdom: that feeble Iraq would be easy to take over but Afghanistan, the graveyard of who knows how many Soviet soldiers, would be a slog.

It also believes that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction could be used against America next.

Less convincing, in retrospect.

There is "a recognition that it will be very tough to get bin Laden in the rocky and mountainous terrain of Afghanistan," said one participant in the Pentagon meetings. "There's a feeling that we've got to do something that counts—and bombing some caves is not something that counts." The world, indeed, will be watching. Asked why bin Laden finds sympathy among Arabs, a senior Arab League official said simply: "All this military buildup for one man? The Americans are making him famous. Imagine if you don't get him."

Yes, imagine.

I questioned Newt Gingrich's claim to be an ideas man or a GOP savior earlier this year.

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  1. I never got the idea that knocking over the regime THAT ACTUALLY SHELTERED THE TERRORIST LEADERS wouldn’t send a message, but letting terrorist leaders get away and then going after somebody unconnected to any of it would prove what the consequences are for sponsoring an attack on America.

    I believe that the message we sent was that if we can’t get the guys behind an attack we’ll knock over a regime that they despise. Um, not sure that sets up the right system of incentives.

  2. Touched a sore spot. I’ll never forgive Powell for going to the UN. He was suppose to be the voice of reason in the administration that would keep the wackos in check. He should have resigned.

  3. thoreau,
    Don’t you think the US was going after Iraq whether we got Bin Laden or not? History didn’t start on September 11th, 2001.

  4. Sean,
    Even after 9/11 there was broad opposition to going to war with Iraq. Prior to 9/11 it would have been an impossible sell.

  5. Remember all that post-Iraq Victory 2003 talk from liberals and other Anti-War critics, “Well, how can the mission be accomplished if you haven’t gotten Saddam.”

    Then we got Uday and Qusay, and that squelched a bit of the criticism, but it still loomed large for another year.

    Day after day we were subjected to the media bitchin’ and complaining, “Bush claimed Victory, but he still hasn’t gotten Saddam.”

    Then one day, when almost no media were paying attention, two GIs pulled over a rug, and found Saddam in a spider hole.

    It was a one and a half day story at best. The media said, “Yeah, well, you got Saddam, but it doesn’t matter, cause the Iraqi insurgents will just replace him.”

    And sure enough, then came the stories about Zarcawi. For another year it was, “We can’t win this War, cause the American Military has not gotten Zarcawi…”

    Remember the day we finally got him in that Date Palm field? Another 1 1/2 day story, even less on CNN.

    Then it was, “Yeah, well you got Zarcawi, but he’s been replaced faster than you could say Allahu-Ahkbar.”

    Some other dude, don’t even remember his name now, became the instant, “Al Qaeda in Iraq” leader dubbed by the media.

    Well, we got that guy too, and the media barely even reported on it.

    It’s all a game.

    The American Military reaches a benchmark set by the liberal Media, and then the liberal Media ignores the Military’s victory, and moves on by setting yet another benchmark.

    It’s gone from:

    Beating the Iraqi Military and overthrowing Saddam.

    To…

    Finding and capturing or killing Saddam and his two murderous sons.

    To…

    Finding and capturing Zarcawi.

    To…

    Finding and caputuring Zarcawi’s successor.

    To…

    Defeating the Iraqi insurgents and Al Qaeda in Iraq.

    To…

    Build a complete and successful democracy in Iraq in less than 6 months.

    If I was Gen. Patraeus, I’d tell the liberal American media to shove it up their ass.

  6. I was amazed that Bush was brazen enough to reference Vietnam in his last speech.

    I wonder if there will be another parallel to Vietnam with the next administration – like Nixon, they will feel compelled to fight an inherieted war, with no prospect of victory, until the political pressures at home become so great that they have to bring the troops home.

  7. No, Dondero, you jackass. It went from the Bush admin lying about WMD in Iraq, to stating that the real reason we were there was to foment democracy, which they have manifestly failed to do.

  8. DONDEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  9. DONDEEEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

    You forgot the first step that was never achieved- find Bin Laden.

  10. Eric,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t the original mission — getting Bin Laden — have been accomplished first? Or was that just another benchmark set by the “liberal media?”

    Iraq was a politically expedient war, easily winnable, to let the American people know their leaders were capable of doing something about somebody even remotely connected to Muslim extremism. Even the reason for invasion kept changing. Again, that was the administration, not the right wing’s favorite bogeyman.

  11. Dondero, here’s a benchmark I can understand: the war is over when the troops come home.

  12. And Clinton never mentioned WMD.

  13. Eric Dondero shouts “Hey, look over there!” more before 9:30 AM than most people shoult “Hey, look over there!” all day.

    Remember all that post-Iraq Victory 2003 talk from liberals and other Anti-War critics, “Well, how can the mission be accomplished if you haven’t gotten Saddam.”

    No. I remember liberals and other anti-war critics saying that tactical successes on the battlefield weren’t going to accomplish the stated goal of the war, while hawks crowed about each and every capture demonstrating that victory was just around the corner.

    BTW, good job writing a nice, long post about the Iraq War, its objectives, and the criticism levelled at for not meeting those objectives, without once mentioning WMDs.

    YOU, accusing war critics of moving the goalposts? Go crawl back under your rock, you discredited hack.

  14. Eric’s credibility can be judged by the fact that he listed “defeating the insurgency and al Qaeda in Iraq” as an objective that’s been accomplished, at the end the summer which as seen the highest number of deaths in the entire war, both for American solidiers killed by insurgents, and for Iraqi civilians killed in sectarian violence.

    Yup, the steely-eyed tough guys in the 101st Fighting Keyboarders are just as good at understanding the strategic and military situaiton in Iraq as they’ve always been.

  15. Sure Clinton mentioned WMDs. In 1998, just before he launched the bombing campaign that led the Iraqis to demolish their remaining WMD stocks. You know, the small amount they had remaining after the UN inspection teams spent years destroying them.

    So, on the list of the most effective destroyers of Iraqi WMDs:

    1. The United Nations
    2. President Clinton
    3. President George H.W. Bush
    4. Saddam Hussein
    5. Time
    Deat Last (tie): Magical Flying Ponies and President George W. Bush

  16. Well, we were expecting Pervez Musharraf (that famous warrior for democracy and all things Western) to ride in at the head of a mighty army and secure Tora Bora for us so we could use American soldiers for more photogenic missions.

    Who could’ve expected that to go wrong?!?

    Well, maybe the CIA did, but we’ve gotten rid of most of those unpatriotic Bush-saboteurs. Remember, saying “I told you so” helps the terrorists.

  17. I’ll never forgive Powell for going to the UN. He was suppose to be the voice of reason in the administration that would keep the wackos in check. He should have resigned.

    I’m still mystified why people fell for the completely media-induced belief that Powell was something other than a compliant yes-man general. Suddenly there was this meme, totally and uncritcally hyped by the media, that Powell was some sort of magically clear-headed saint in the middle of the administration.

  18. Powell was some sort of magically clear-headed saint in the middle of the administration

    Only by comparison, really.

  19. Hey, I was a follower of Jesus before it was cool! Where were you last minute Peter come latelies when I was out at 5:00 in the morning in the hot Galilee sun asking folks to come see this new preacher who turns loaves into fishes! You were all still wet behind the ears in 28 AD but I was in the vanguard! I was Jesus best buddy! How can you talk that way about me now!

  20. It also believes that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction could be used against America next.

    I remember reading the British intelligence report a few months before we invaded Iraq. It made it clear that Saddam’s weapons had just enough range to threaten Israel. But the American public got the impression there was a threat to the United States and the Bush Administration had no inclination to correct public perception.

  21. Judas wins the thread.

    I never thought I would type that.

  22. Suddenly there was this meme, totally and uncritcally hyped by the media, that Powell was some sort of magically clear-headed saint in the middle of the administration.

    Before he even joined that administration, Powell himself promoted the image that he was a regular Jimmy Stewart of a guy, above politics, in books and speaking tours.

  23. Here’s a solution: Quit scraping your teeth along the shaft, would you? And don’t forget to play with my balls.

  24. The combination of:
    Deat Last (tie): Magical Flying Ponies and President George W. Bush
    and:
    Quit scraping your teeth along the shaft, would you? And don’t forget to play with my balls.

    Leaves me with no choice. May God have mercy on your souls.

  25. I nominate Eric Dondero for the position of Attorney General.

  26. Hey Eric Dunderhead, lets think of all the “turning points” you said would bring “victory” in Iraq-

    First it was the fall of Baghdad that would do it

    Then it was the election

    Then it was the capture of Uday and Qusay

    Then it was the provisional Constitution

    Then it was the capture of Saddam

    Then it was the second election

    Then it was Prime Minister Alawai

    Then it was the third election

    Then it was the opening of the Parliament

    Then it was Prime Minister Al-Maliki

    Then it was The execution of Saddam

    Now its the surge…how many more “turning points” are there, exactly?

  27. And guess what? Despite all those “turning points” things have only gotten worse. More Americans and more Iraqis are dying than every before, the country is in complete shambles.

  28. The American Military reaches a benchmark set by the liberal Media, and then the liberal Media ignores the Military’s victory, and moves on by setting yet another benchmark.

    Build a complete and successful democracy in Iraq in less than 6 months.

    Eric D., I don’t think that “benchmark” was set by the ubiquitous liberal Media. I seem to recall some people in the administration talking about how Iraqi democracy was going to transform the Middle East and end the threat of terrorism, hence its relevance to the War on Terror.

    Also, we’ve been in Iraq for nearly five years, not less than six months.

  29. The capture of Falluja.

    The killing of Zarqawi.

    The Iraqi military “standing up.”

  30. Boy, that last one sure has fixed everything, eh?

    Man, who could have predicted that supplying a Shiite-controlled government in Iraq with thousands upon thousands of armed troops in the midst of a burgeoning civil war would fail to end the sectarian violence and bring about responsible democratic governance?

  31. Wow, Joe, I never even considered that Clinton might have permenently solved the Iraq problem by lobbing a few bombs over there. And all this time I thought Clinton was just wagging the dog

  32. Wow, Joe, I never even considered that Clinton might have permenently solved the Iraq problem by lobbing a few bombs over there.

    Neither did I. Isn’t it amazing what you can do with words like “all,” “none,” “every,” “never,” and “permanently?” Why, you can make yourself look like a dishonest shill!

    And all this time I thought Clinton was just wagging the dog

    I’m sure you did think that, James Ard.

    As usual, you were wrong. What is that, 37 disputes about Iraq in a row that have turned out that way?

    Maybe you should put aside your partisanship, and try to look objectively at the facts.

  33. But joe, you were right too soon. On multiple occasions. So it doesn’t count.

  34. The only fact I’m looking at is the fact that a hasty defeat, unnecessary at that, will have long term negative effects on America’s ability to secure reasonably priced oil. And, in another blow to your plans for a withdrawl party, the three factions showed some progress on some key issues over the weekend.

  35. James Ard-

    How many of your relatives are you prepared to see die so you can get reasonably priced oil?

    None, you say? OK, how many of somebody else’s relatives are you prepared to see die so you can get reasonably priced oil?

  36. James Ard–

    You and the people you support have been wrong on just about everything. So why should we believe you about the effects of a withdraw?

  37. “. . . is the fact that a hasty defeat”

    We’re long past hasty now.

  38. combat veterans who are opposed to wars of aggression on principle are really girlie men who are jealous of manly veterans like [Dondero] getting all the girls what with all his manly muscles and courage and stuff.

    This is true, in a way; the way veterans’ benefits are being sliced to bits these days, it’s not likely that a bona-fide combat veteran could afford the high-quality hookers that punctuated Dondero’s stint in the Navy.

  39. With all of these turning points, no wonder it feels like we’re going in circles about Iraq.

  40. This is true, in a way; the way veterans’ benefits are being sliced to bits these days, it’s not likely that a bona-fide combat veteran could afford the high-quality hookers that punctuated Dondero’s stint in the Navy.

    Jennifer — You seem to be well-apprised about the quality of the hookers that Dondero used. Is there some prior employment stint you did that you’re trying to share with us here?

    Yust kidding!

    * Ducks and runs. *

  41. You seem to be well-apprised about the quality of the hookers that Dondero used. Is there some prior employment stint you did that you’re trying to share with us here?

    Yup. My English-major skills give me the ability to read and comprehend (insofar as anybody can) Dondero’s numerous posts on the matter.

  42. Jennifer: You’d be surprised how many English majors wind up becoming prostitutes. It’s actually a step above the other job prospects opened up by that degree.

  43. The only fact I’m looking at is the fact that a hasty defeat, unnecessary at that, will have long term negative effects on America’s ability to secure reasonably priced oil.

    This is the only fact James Ard is looking at.

    If I had to only look at one fact to help me understand what to do about Iraq, I don’t think it would be that one.

    And Dennis Kucinich gets called a loonie.

  44. The only “turning point” that mattered was the capture of Saddam Hussein. Yes, killing Uday and Qusay was significant. Killing Zarcawi was huge.

    But the definition of “winning or losing” the War in Iraq, was whether or not we captured the Hitler of the late 20th Century, Saddam Hussein.

    We did. And we have won the War in Iraq. Everything since has just been mop up. Messy at times. But entirely insignificant to the capture (and subsequent execution) of Saddam Hussein.

  45. Crimethink, yes, some in the Administration have claimed that Iraqi democracy will “transform the Middle East.” But most of us who have supported the War, were interested mostly in the capture and killing of Saddam Hussein. (To avenge the Kurds, and the hundreds of thousands that Saddam slaughtered within Iraq, and Kuwait). That’s our measure. Everything else is secondary.

    Now, as for transforming the Middle East, that has already occured. Nation by Nation in the Middle East is taking baby steps towards Democracy: Tunisia, Bahrain, Dubai, Bahrain, and EVEN Saudi Arabia.

    They’re just baby steps, mind you, (Kuwait is allowing women to vote in local elections, for instance.) But it’s a welcome development that I dare say, has a little something to do with the fact that we the United States is encouraging it.

    Of course, Bush will never get any credit for this. The media will bash him mercissly, and they’ll totally ignore any positive stories like the burgeoning democracies in the region.

    Just got to report on the negative all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Can’t give those dastardly Republicans credit for anything.

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